Narcissistic Spiritual Gurus

We find narcissists everywhere—in our boardrooms, with spouses, ex-spouses, family members, bosses, co-workers, friends. Most of us don’t expect to discover them among spiritual mentors and gurus. A number of years ago the great sociologist, Christopher Lasch prophetically announced: “In a dying culture, narcissism appears to embody—in the guise of personal ‘growth’ and ‘awareness’—the highest attainment of spiritual enlightenment.” Many of us make the assumption that if an individual has theological credentials or training in spiritual disciplines, he or she is authentic. Some of the most insidious forms of narcissism are perpetrated by spiritual teachers and gurus.

There are as many styles and levels of narcissistic spiritual gurus as there are spiritual movements. They range from the itinerant preacher type a la Elmer Gantry to the most educated, highly trained individuals who create worldwide movements and success through their foundations, seminars, numerous books, dvds, cds, and media appearances. Being respected in the world does not mean that an individual cannot be a narcissistic spiritual guru who brings psychological and monetary injury to others.

The narcissistic guru (male or female) is often dynamic and charismatic. He magnetizes individuals to him with an irresistible persona that conveys that he possesses unique spiritual gifts and has access to secrets that will lead to higher levels of consciousness. The skilled narcissistic guru assesses which individuals will be receptive to joining his spiritual circle. He fixates his attention on the prospective member, communicating to him that he is special and indispensable. These gurus use riveting eye contact. Their gestures, tone of voice, all of their nonverbal cues are focused on their target. Narcissistic spiritual gurus are superb actors (who often believe their own performances). They appeal to that part of us that is emotionally vulnerable, feeling deprived or unworthy. Some of us are seeking a magic key or formula that will lead us beyond suffering—that ego voice that wants to feel all powerful, without limits—godlike. All of those who fall under the spell of the narcissistic spiritual guru are not ignorant or naïve. The high-level narcissistic spiritual teacher possesses dynamic and intuitive powers that seduce and fool many people. Despite their allure and tempting promises, there are warning signs that a spiritual teacher is more dedicated to making himself powerful and affluent than helping his devotees:

1. Pay attention to the money barometer. Does the guru charge exorbitant fees for his services?

2. Is there continuing pressure placed on members to sign up for ongoing expensive programs? The not so hidden message here is: the more courses you take with us, the holier you will become. This can be called a pay to pray or pay to be holy spiritual scheme.

3. Another observation is that devotees often venerate the guru, reflexively obeying him. Having been deluded by their charismatic leader, they are no longer capable of independent thinking.

4. The narcissistic spiritual guru often uses his closest followers as servants who perform free labor: going on special errands, cleaning their residences, arranging public events. The loyal devotee considers these requests as a privilege and evidence that they hold an honored place in the guru’s hierarchy.

5. Narcissists play favorites. They pit one member against another to maintain ultimate power and control over their members.

6. Devotees are often mistreated. The slightest mistake can cause ugly scenes of humiliation in front of other group members.

7. Followers who question the spiritual leader or are considered dangerous rivals are excommunicated from the group.

8. The narcissistic guru behaves very differently in his personal life than among his devotees. He is often extremely self indulgent, materialistic, greedy, and in some cases, uses drugs and alcohol to excess. He might engage in sexual exploitation with compliant devotees who are emotionally dependent and vulnerable and psychologically fused with him.

Becoming more spiritually awake and heart centered doesn’t cost money. It requires devotion, discipline, and perseverance despite all the obstacles that come in our path. It’s not a short trip; it’s an adventurous journey.

The Golden Spiral of Consciousness – Spiritual Inspiration and Enlightenment Through Art and Science

Flower of Life and Spiritual Transcendence    

The golden ratio or spiral is a unique relation existing in the universe between the whole and the part and has been in our consciousness for over 4000 years. Out of the golden ratio rises the golden spiral, whose familiar coil shape can be found everywhere in nature, such as in the structure of our DNA and fingerprints, sunflowers and seashells, storm clouds and tornadoes. Even a star cluster nebula like the Milky Way. The golden spiral, also called the flower of life, is a twirling pattern that forms out from a rectangle which has the golden ratio. What this means is–when this rectangle is squared, it leaves a smaller rectangle behind, and this smaller rectangle also has the same golden ratio as the original and when this is squared this also leaves a smaller rectangle behind and this continues on until the shapes become so small you can’t see them anymore. In other words, it goes on forever.

When you connect a curve through the opposite corners of these concentric rectangles, you form the golden spiral and the fact that it shows up in many growth patterns of plants, animals and even whole galaxies, makes us wonder if this unique shape is not the pattern of life. The principles of the golden spiral can also be seen in the design of buildings and architecture, as well as in art and literature. Golden proportions are to be found in music and even light. The Greeks, Romans, Egyptians and Chinese all depict golden ratio in their artwork. The Egyptians were probably the first to combine mathematics with art in the design of their pyramids. Pythagoras discovered the golden proportions of the human body and this has been portrayed by artists throughout the history of Greek art. Leonardo De Vinci found inspiration in the mathematics of art and nature and is almost certain he painted to conform to the golden ratio–especially the proportions set out in the Mona Lisa. 

Literature can draw on the golden ratio in the structure of words, sentences, paragraphs, chapters and pictures. Just as we see the existence of the spiral in our fingerprints and galaxies and in the creation of pyramids and paintings, the golden ratio also appears inside pages of a book, including the design of the cover, and this can be incredibly awe inspiring for the reader. This pattern of nature can be seen inside many art forms and has a universally stimulating effect on the mind. Enlightenment may be part of this pattern–a communication that is connecting consciousness through the language of the Universe.

Look at the soul as being a bridge between your mind and the intangible essence of your spirit, and that it is gently guiding your mind through a doorway of transcendence to a higher plane of awareness. By bringing the flower of life to words and pictures it can spiral your consciousness to a realization greater than itself. The golden spiral can spiral you to soul awakening. The flower of life transcends itself from the physical-mathematical form by which it is more commonly known (sacred geometry), into a spiritual equivalent we call unconditional love. This little flower of life transforms into the pattern of love. Truth seekers, poets and prophets teach love as being at the centre of all things. When your soul connects consciousness with the golden spiral you become love. Love is the infinite pattern of the Universe. And so are you. 

Our world needs to undergo an incredible transformation. We must heal our emotions and weary bodies. We should sincerely connect to spirit and love–the intrinsic nature in everything.

Most cultures throughout history, from Aztec to the Celtic, have documented a significant correlation with physical form and spirituality, clearly expressed through their art and sacred geometry, like the mandala; these beautiful, mesmerizing patterns bearing ritual and spiritual significance. Psychoanalyst Carl Jung identified with the mandala saying it was a representation of the unconscious self and believed these patterns were a means towards wholeness in personality. The discovery of the Mandelbrot Set, named after Benoit Mandelbrot, is a collection of numbers that form fractals.

These are objects that display self-similarity at various scales, and so we can journey into the wondrous world of fractal geometry, gliding through never-ending self-similarity repeating patterns arising from a simple definition. Quantum physicists show us that the substance of our reality is shaped, if not created, by our own consciousness. Both old and new worlds of thought now come together as science greets spirituality in a uniform field of thought. The Universe speaks to us and we ought to listen.

Desire and Aspiration in the Spiritual Life

Often we think that the fulfilment of desires will bring us happiness. It is easy to have the thought that, if we can earn a certain amount of money, then we will have the security and ability to enable us to practise spirituality more. However, often when we fulfill a certain desire, it actually only increases our desire for more material possessions. The nature of desire is that when a desire is fulfilled the more desires we generate.

There is a big difference between desire and aspiration. Desire is our wish for material, finite things. Desire usually involves possession of things or other people. We desire objects because we feel that they will give us pleasure and satisfaction. Aspiration is a very different kind of desire. Spiritual aspiration is a wish to grow into a more divine consciousness.

“Desire is a wildfire that burns and burns and finally consumes us. Aspiration is a glowing fire that secretly and sacredly uplifts our consciousness and finally liberates us.” (1)

When we aspire we do not want anything on an outer plane. We are seeking to find inner peace and inner happiness. It is the inner joy that does not depend on outer circumstances. In aspiration there is no desire for possession. The nature of spiritual consciousness is oneness. What we have is not just for ourselves, we feel part of a larger self. It is through aspiration that we are able to go beyond the ego and attain true satisfaction.

“He who desires wants to possess each and every thing, each and every individual in the entire world. He who aspires wants only those things that will help him transcend his abundant limitations and teeming imperfections.” (2)

To make real progress in the spiritual life we have to limit our desires. We have to give first priority to spirituality rather than the fulfilment of material desires. It is a mistake to think that we will make more spiritual progress in the future if we can change our outer circumstances. Spirituality always needs to be practised in the here and now. Whatever our outer circumstances we need to make the best use of them. If we wait for a golden tomorrow, that future may never come.

To limit our desires does not mean we have to live the life of an ascetic. Money does not have to be an obstacle in the spiritual life. If money is used for divine purposes then it can help and expedite our spiritual journey. From a spiritual point of view money is only a problem when it becomes our primary objective. When making money takes precedent in everything we do, then we do not find time to pray and meditate. However it is possible to combine great material wealth with a sincere spirituality, like for example King Janaka.

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