Spiritual Elitism: The Ego Trap

Living in Ubud for nearly three years, on and off, I have become acutely aware of the spiritual elitism that plagues the so called ‘spiritual community’.

As I sit in a cafe in Ubud, I look across to see the three women bragging about their latest ayahuasca ceremonies, wearing their Peruvian lined bags, and saying, “oh I really wish I had of gone to dance today”. There is a spiritual elitism present that segregates people based on the clothes they wear, how much spiritual healing they have done, and how beautiful they are. The underlying message communicates, ‘I am more enlightened than you because..… (fill in the blank).’ The problem is, this is nothing more than a trap of the ego and blatant spiritual narcissism.

In these communities, spirituality has become another fashion label.

You are considered more spiritual and enlightened based on,

  • if you are vegan or a raw foodie

  • the amount of ayahuasca ceremonies you have done

  • wearing spiritual clothes and ornamentals like crystals and feathers

  • if are a spiritual healer

  • if you live/travel to ‘high vibrational places’

All you have to do is go to the local yoga centre in Ubud to realise it’s riddled with spiritual ego. Even the level one classes are geared to fire up your ego to do as many vinyasa’s as you can. Don't expect to get a breathing practice, or a meditation practice to calm your mind in any yoga class!

Sincere spiritual seekers who have likely come to Ubud to awaken to their true nature need to learn how to still their mind, and let go of their ego. Instead they are getting fed more masculine, ‘you can do it’ mentality. Sadly, this is likely what they have come here to overcome and find the same ego trap just around the corner.

The true self does not judge. It is in total acceptance of all people, all things, all situations. To judge someone as not spiritual enough, or as being more enlightened, or as having a ‘higher vibration’, are all phrases that are masks of the spiritual ego. A truly awakened person does not have any ego about these things. They know that there is no one person that is better than the other. They know that all these masks and facades are just identifies and stories that have been created by the mind. There is no such thing as superiority. It is created by the ego.

I remember my spiritual teacher warned me many years ago, ‘you know Steph, those places like Ubud and Byron Bay are full of spiritual by-passers.’ Oh shit, why didn’t I listen to her!?

Beware, don’t get caught up in the glitz and glamour of the holy and benevolent facade.

I have spent years of my precious energy in this spiritual ego game, and on the people in it. Don’t get me wrong, I have met some really interesting people. It has been fun, for sure, however two and a half years later, I realise I have been subjected to becoming friends with classic spiritual narcissists.

I have been judged for being in a low vibration, shamed for having emotions like anger, and told, ‘you are just being triggered’. Most people like this don’t stick around when the going gets tough, and will happily leave you because you are giving off ‘bad energy’. Beware of such spiritual narcissists. They are lurking around every corner here in Ubud. They are classic spiritual by-passers and will easily shame you for not being ‘spiritual enough’.

The core of spiritual bypassing is the absolute denial of our humanness, our imperfections, our emotions, the truth is that we can never be fully healed, that we will always be flawed in some way. We cannot make ourselves perfect through all this healing. The true gift of being human is to realise we are all different and essentially flawed. We cannot be without anger, without rage, without sadness, without regret, without pain. These are innate to the human being!

No matter how enlightened you think you are, you will still have childhood wounding, make mistakes and be an asshole sometimes. Don’t get caught up into thinking even Amma, even Buddha, even Jesus are not human. As long as they are born to this earth, they have humanness too, they make mistakes too, they have emotions too. No one can superseed being human.

We can overcome the mind, and see beyond our emotions, but we are still essentially human and we will have moments when we falter. There will always be moments when life challenges us beyond our capacity, for example when we lose someone we love, when accidents happen, when very difficult situations surface. These things cannot be avoided. It is ok to react, to get angry, to cry beyond belief. To accept this about ourselves is to love ourselves unconditionally, without needing to be some perfect depiction of a human.


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