Introducing Reiki Grandmaster Joseph Mata

From our New York City Halau ... Reiki Grandmaster Joseph Mata, 8th Dan, Usui System of Natural Healing.  Joseph is also an Initiate of the A&O Order of Melchizedek.  He teaches high school Mathematics, is a Certified Yoga Master, a Qi Gong master and a martial artist.  With Grandmaster Enriquez, he runs MTheory101 in NYC.
From our New York City Halau … Reiki Grandmaster Joseph Mata, 8th Dan, Usui System of Natural Healing. Joseph is also an Initiate of the A&O Order of Melchizedek. He teaches high school Mathematics, is a Certified Yoga Master, a Qi Gong master and a martial artist. With Grandmaster Enriquez, he runs MTheory101 in NYC.
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Lee Holden ~ Modern Qi Gong Cheat Sheet

purple mist waterfall

This has been a massive week with a Himalayan-like range of high points, and because we shared so much information with you over the past few days, we thought you would appreciate having all of it together in one handy email.

If you noticed we took the liberty of calling it ‘The Qi Cheat Sheet’, so you can search for it in your inbox and any time to revisit any part of Qi 101.

We will be leaving the lessons up for you, so feel free to go over any of them again in the future whenever you wish. Maybe you want to review something you’ve seen before, or just want to see how you can get better results – now you can. Anytime.

But before we recap, we’d like you to think back to just a few days ago, when Qi Gong was perhaps a new and distant concept to you …

Something you had maybe heard of, or read about, but were more likely to find on an episode of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not than in your morning routine.

But now you know!

You’ve seen for yourself that there’s definitely something to it – after all – there’s a reason why it’s been around for over 4,000 years.

We started off Qi 101 with a very simple concept – getting you used to FEELING your Qi …

Here is your recap:

=============================

>>> Lesson 1 – Feeling your Qi

Consider this as your introduction to what Qi is all about. Lee has explained his story, how he discovered Qi, what Qi Gong did for him, and most importantly – what it can do for YOU.

You have learned:

* That your ‘Life Force Energy’ is called Qi and when it flows smoothly within your body, it revitalizes your immune system, nourishes your cells and activates your natural healing abilities.

* You can train your body to fight disease faster, and if you learn to work with your Qi you can even eliminate problems before they arise.

Qi Gong is an easy to follow practice, which at its core, cultivates Life Force Energy to help achieve healing and longevity.

* Apart of healing, Qi Gong has also other benefits – it gives you better sense of presence, sharpers your focus or greeters creativity.

* Lee’s way of teaching Qi Gong to new students involves taking them though 3 simple steps:

step 1 – FEELING your Qi; step 2 – ACTIVATING your Qi flow within your body and step 3 – LIVING your Qi though simple and fun daily routines to create long lasting results.

* You learned a simple exercise for FEELING your Qi within you (comes at 8 minutes of the video).

=============================

Then we took it up a notch in the second lesson – ACTIVATING your Qi

>>> Lesson 2 – Activating your Qi

This was perhaps Lee’s most popular lessons as it featured one of our favorite techniques! Filmed in the Santa Cruz Qi Center, Lee has shared with you the ‘Knocking on the door of life’ technique – one of Qi Gong’s most famous and beneficial exercises.

This is where you really start working with all that energy you discovered you had in lesson 1, and is a video we would recommend you revisit as often as possible.

You have learned:

* What are some of the meridian points on your body.

* You got to know your lower back energy points known also as Doors of Life points responsible for improving your blood flow, activation of your energy and vitality.

* The second set of energy points were the Lung Points, responsible not only for your lungs but also for your immune system.

* You got a map of these meridian points for you to download and keep.

Here is the direct link to it >>>

* You experienced the ‘Knocking on the door of life’ exercise (it comes at 1:20).

This lesson generated a HUGE number of comments. Take a look through them, see if you agree or disagree, and if you’re yet to do it – leave your own!

One of our favorite comments about this lesson came from Dorothy Bonenberger:

before I started exercise 2, I felt like I had pockets of energy stored in my body. To my surprise, after doing the exercise I felt the flow of energy throughout my body.

We can’t tell you enough how much it warms our hearts to see comments like this, and we sincerely hope that you had the same experience as dear Dorothy did.

=============================

The third and final lesson looked to serve as an almanac for all things energetic – LIVING your Qi

>>> Lesson 3 – Living your Qi 

Lee answers in numerous videos some of the most common questions we get on Qi, including how fast you can expect to see results, how to get started on a routine, how often you should practice and a lot more – including sharing some secrets like:

* That you can start getting results almost immediately! You should have felt something as early as lesson 1 that would have felt like a sense of calm and relaxation. That’s exactly what you’re looking for.

* When you get that feeling, the trick is to build on it and push it as far as you can. I share with you some stories of people who have done this to great effect, and reported benefits such as better general health and more positive energy.

* That it is not only about healing, there are other powerful side effects of Gi Gong too,  just as sharper focus and mental clarity.

* The difference between Tai Chi and Qi Gong. It is explained well in the Question 10.

* Finally, that there’s not much difference between you and a Qi Gong master, just that one is a little further along the journey than you are 🙂

=============================

Enjoy!

 

Lee Holden ~ Qi Gong Restores Your Life

qi-gong-430

An Ancient Technique That Helps Your Body Heal Faster,

Eliminates Fatigue And Feeds Your Energy

For An Entire Lifetime In Only Minutes A Day

For over 40 centuries, men and woman from the Far East practiced a self-healing method that was effortless, practical, and required very little time.

In fact, try this basic exercise below to see how incredibly easy it is. It takes less than five minutes to do.

Try this:

1.  Rub your palms vigorously until your hands feel warm (like you are creating a fire)

2.  Bring your hands down to your side and shake your lowers arms and wrists like an athlete would before an event. Shake for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

3.  Completely relax with your hands by your side and feel the energy circulating down your arms and into your fingertips.

Simple, easy, and effective.  Could you feel your Qi?

Without even breaking a sweat or changing into your workout clothes, you’ve already started to heal your body. When you do this exercise and others like it, this is what happens deep inside you:

Your life force energy circulates through your body, activating each cell. As you feel your life force energy, your mind connects to the present moment and you slip into total relaxation and calmness.

While all this happens you are actually meditating – it’s called Moving Meditation – with your mind and body.

As you become aware of your life force energy, it moves through your cells, travels through your nervous system and nourishes everything inside you. You will even feel the tingling and radiant sensations in your fingertips.

The Chinese Ancestors Called This Mysterious Life Force Energy… “Qi”
Qi is invisible. You cannot see it, but you feel its existence.

As It travels through your meridians—energy highways within your body. It beats with your heart, nourishes your muscles, and even gives rise to your consciousness.

The rest of the exercises are just as easy. The only “difficult” thing you’ll do is to relax and move slowly. No balancing on your head or standing on one foot.

Let your body move gracefully and fluidly – there’s no pressure on the joints – and your Qi flows and tones your vital organs. That’s how it revitalizes your body and builds your energy reserves.

Best of all, you don’t need any special equipment or place to practice. No Yoga mats, no exercise machines, no special safety equipment, and no fancy gym clothes necessary. You can do the slow exercise movements in any comfortable clothes and you don’t even have to sweat.

This is Qi Gong – “Qi” meaning energy and “Gong” meaning cultivation.

It’s easily the most cost-effective yet potent self-healing practice that exists today. Yet, so little is known about this breakthrough practice in the West. In order to appreciate the full potential of Qi Gong, I set out to study everything there is to know about this practice.

What you will discover will change everything you believe about alternative health and modern medicine.

Your biggest epiphany might be this — your Qi flows faster and deeper when your mind and body are relaxed.

It’s never about stretching the furthest, enduring the most pain, or performing every move to its minute perfection. In fact, the sole purpose of all the ancient practices is to circulate your Qi flow so your body can heal naturally.

 

Three Steps that Immediately Reduce Stress

Qi-GongSynchronizing your mind.
Synchronizing your body.
Synchronizing your breathing.

 When all 3 are aligned you get your body into it’s optimal state of flow — and THIS is where your natural healing abilities begin to kick in.

 

5 Meaningful Methods of Meditation

meditationThere’s a myriad of methods for meditation. Some are easy and some are difficult. All require daily practice to perfect. Here are five of the most popular methods of meditation and what they each bring to the Meditation Table. Here’s why You Should Mix them for Maximum Mindfulness.

Mindfulness, or Spiritual Method:

A most popular method comes from Buddhist meditation practice of Vipassana. It’s all about practicing detachment from each thought and being centered in the “here and now.” It focuses on situational awareness and “in the moment” presence. There is also a focus on communion with the cosmos, which can translate to prayer, but not necessarily. The best way to commune with the universe is to ask questions as opposed to seeking answers. In the mindfulness method, answers are mere side-effects of good questioning.

How to: One can practice mindfulness in any position, even lying down. The key is presence with the present moment, and clear and concise communion with the cosmos.

 

Zen or Zazen Method:

Also from the Buddhist tradition, this method is all about simply sitting. It is often done for long periods of time. Its focus is mostly on posture and spine alignment with minimal focus on breathing techniques. It is the most monastic of all the methods and is therefore difficult to make progress in. Most monks practice this method while concentrating on a Zen koan or spiritual parable.

How to: The most effective positioning of the body for the practice of Zazen is the stable, symmetrical position of the seated Buddha. Keeping the back straight and centered, pretend a silver thread is pulled taut through your spine and up through your head, connecting to the ceiling.

 

Kundalini or Transcendental Method:

This method comes from the Vedanta Hinduism tradition and ties into different forms of Yoga practices. It focuses more on breathing patterns than the previous methods, using the power of breathing to launch one into a higher sense of self, or even a transformation of self. The electromagnetic field created by the human body is akin to the electromagnetic field created by the Earth. Transcendental method is all about tapping into the stream of energy naturally created by the relationship between the human body’s energy chakras with the environment’s energy vortexes. The main focus of this method is to ride this rising stream into infinity, to learn what needs to be learned, and then to return to the finite realms with new-knowledge in tow.

How to: Breathing is primary. Positioning is secondary. Relax your body, take three deep breaths; then proceed to take deep breaths and hold them for at least ten seconds each. This allows for the oxygen to cleanse the chakras and then release toxins through exhalation, while increasing kundalini energy.

Fractal Enlightenment|  There’s a myriad of methods for meditation. Some are easy and some are difficult. All require daily practice to perfect. Here are five of the most popular methods of meditation and what they each bring to the Meditation Table. Here’s why You Should Mix them for Maximum Mindfulness.

Mindfulness, or Spiritual Method:

A most popular method comes from Buddhist meditation practice of Vipassana. It’s all about practicing detachment from each thought and being centered in the “here and now.” It focuses on situational awareness and “in the moment” presence. There is also a focus on communion with the cosmos, which can translate to prayer, but not necessarily. The best way to commune with the universe is to ask questions as opposed to seeking answers. In the mindfulness method, answers are mere side-effects of good questioning.

How to: One can practice mindfulness in any position, even lying down. The key is presence with the present moment, and clear and concise communion with the cosmos.

– See more at: http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/5-meaningful-methods-of-meditation/#sthash.VMrUBuh9.dpuf

 

Qigong Method or Movement Method:

This method comes from the Taoist tradition. It is all about hyper-focus on breathing techniques and/or bodily movements to cultivate and maintain life energy. This is the most philosophical of the methods, deriving most of its techniques from martial arts and meditative healing methods. It focuses on moving Qi (life force) through the body through focused breathing, mental techniques, and precise movements. This method is all about the balance and equilibrium of both inner and outer forces.

How to: No matter what Qi exercise you’re doing, imagine the Qi moving through your body as you breathe in an out. As you inhale through your nose, imagine the Qi moving through your body and down to your Lower Dantian, or naval area. As you exhale through your mouth imagine the Qi moving through the rest of your body. Repeat.

 

Drumming and/or Om Method:

This may be the oldest form of meditation known to humanity. The drumming method is typically used by native and aboriginal cultures, and is generally shamanic in nature. The Om method is traditionally from Vedanta Hinduism, though the sound itself is fairly universal to mankind. These methods focus on breathing and heart rhythm in accordance with, or even dissonance with, the sound and feel of the percussion or mantra.

The heart beat itself is a drum. Breathing is a drum beat that we can control. These two methods are all about transformation through vibration and the awareness of cosmic frequencies. Shamans often use drum meditation to cross physical, mental, and spiritual thresholds. It’s a bridge that carries them to a higher sense of self in accordance with the greater cosmos.

How to: Create a sacred place. Clear your mind. Breathe with intent. If you’re the drummer, infuse your intention into the drum before drumming. Begin playing or listening to the drum. Give yourself a few minutes to fall into rhythm with the beat. Fade your drumming into silence, feeling your body’s response to the beat, then return to the drum. Repeat with clear intent.

 

There you have it: a minor helping of meditative methods. Each have specific techniques, but they all overlap in various ways. One of the keys to becoming a meditative master is to use all the methods to your advantage, while also allowing for personal creativity by giving your meditation a signature as unique as your own fingerprint.

Remember: the heartbeat that sustains your life is acting on the same frequency that sustains the universe. The heart with which you feel God is the same heart with which God feels you. May the Om be with you.

By Gary Z McGee

Gary ‘Z’ McGee, a former Navy Intelligence Specialist turned philosopher, is the author of Birthday Suit of God and The Looking Glass Man. His works are inspired by the great philosophers of the ages and his wide awake view of the modern world.

As written by Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.  It is a jungle out there, and it is no less true about spiritual life than any other aspect of life. Do we really think that just because someone has been meditating for five years, or doing 10 years of yoga practice, that they will be any less neurotic than the next person? At best, perhaps they will be a little bit more aware of it. A little bit.

It is for this reason that I spent the last 15 years of my life researching and writing books on cultivating discernment on the spiritual path in all the gritty areas–power, sex, enlightenment, gurus, scandals, psychology, neurosis — as well as earnest, but just plain confused and unconscious, motivations on the path. My partner (author and teacher Marc Gafni) and I are developing a new series of books, courses and practices to bring further clarification to these issues.

Several years ago, I spent a summer living and working in South Africa. Upon my arrival I was instantly confronted by the visceral reality that I was in the country with the highest murder rate in the world, where rape was common and more than half the population was HIV-positive — men and women, gays and straights alike.

As I have come to know hundreds of spiritual teachers and thousands of spiritual practitioners through my work and travels, I have been struck by the way in which our spiritual views, perspectives and experiences become similarly “infected” by “conceptual contaminants” — comprising a confused and immature relationship to complex spiritual principles can seem as invisible and insidious as a sexually transmitted disease.

The following 10 categorizations are not intended to be definitive but are offered as a tool for becoming aware of some of the most common spiritually transmitted diseases.

1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.

2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics spiritual realization in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.

3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be “the one.”

4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences: In this disease, the ego identifies with our spiritual experience and takes it as its own, and we begin to believe that we are embodying insights that have arisen within us at certain times. In most cases, it does not last indefinitely, although it tends to endure for longer periods of time in those who believe themselves to be enlightened and/or who function as spiritual teachers.

5. The Spiritualized Ego: This disease occurs when the very structure of the egoic personality becomes deeply embedded with spiritual concepts and ideas. The result is an egoic structure that is “bullet-proof.” When the ego becomes spiritualized, we are invulnerable to help, new input, or constructive feedback. We become impenetrable human beings and are stunted in our spiritual growth, all in the name of spirituality.

6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers: There are a number of current trendy spiritual traditions that produce people who believe themselves to be at a level of spiritual enlightenment, or mastery, that is far beyond their actual level. This disease functions like a spiritual conveyor belt: put on this glow, get that insight, and — bam! — you’re enlightened and ready to enlighten others in similar fashion. The problem is not that such teachers instruct but that they represent themselves as having achieved spiritual mastery.

7. Spiritual Pride: Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of “spiritual superiority” is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that “I am better, more wise and above others because I am spiritual.”

8. Group Mind: Also described as groupthink, cultic mentality or ashram disease, group mind is an insidious virus that contains many elements of traditional co-dependence. A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Individuals and groups infected with “group mind” reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.

9. The Chosen-People Complex: The chosen people complex is not limited to Jews. It is the belief that “Our group is more spiritually evolved, powerful, enlightened and, simply put, better than any other group.” There is an important distinction between the recognition that one has found the right path, teacher or community for themselves, and having found The One.

10. The Deadly Virus: “I Have Arrived”: This disease is so potent that it has the capacity to be terminal and deadly to our spiritual evolution. This is the belief that “I have arrived” at the final goal of the spiritual path. Our spiritual progress ends at the point where this belief becomes crystallized in our psyche, for the moment we begin to believe that we have reached the end of the path, further growth ceases.

“The essence of love is perception,” according to the teachings of Marc Gafni, “Therefore the essence of self love is self perception. You can only fall in love with someone you can see clearly–including yourself. To love is to have eyes to see. It is only when you see yourself clearly that you can begin to love yourself.”

It is in the spirit of Marc’s teaching that I believe that a critical part of learning discernment on the spiritual path is discovering the pervasive illnesses of ego and self-deception that are in all of us. That is when we need a sense of humor and the support of real spiritual friends. As we face our obstacles to spiritual growth, there are times when it is easy to fall into a sense of despair and self-diminishment and lose our confidence on the path. We must keep the faith, in ourselves and in others, in order to really make a difference in this world.

Source: Huffington Post

– See more at: http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/10-spiritually-transmitted-diseases/#sthash.BS8FUzAq.dpuf

As written by Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.  It is a jungle out there, and it is no less true about spiritual life than any other aspect of life. Do we really think that just because someone has been meditating for five years, or doing 10 years of yoga practice, that they will be any less neurotic than the next person? At best, perhaps they will be a little bit more aware of it. A little bit.

It is for this reason that I spent the last 15 years of my life researching and writing books on cultivating discernment on the spiritual path in all the gritty areas–power, sex, enlightenment, gurus, scandals, psychology, neurosis — as well as earnest, but just plain confused and unconscious, motivations on the path. My partner (author and teacher Marc Gafni) and I are developing a new series of books, courses and practices to bring further clarification to these issues.

Several years ago, I spent a summer living and working in South Africa. Upon my arrival I was instantly confronted by the visceral reality that I was in the country with the highest murder rate in the world, where rape was common and more than half the population was HIV-positive — men and women, gays and straights alike.

As I have come to know hundreds of spiritual teachers and thousands of spiritual practitioners through my work and travels, I have been struck by the way in which our spiritual views, perspectives and experiences become similarly “infected” by “conceptual contaminants” — comprising a confused and immature relationship to complex spiritual principles can seem as invisible and insidious as a sexually transmitted disease.

The following 10 categorizations are not intended to be definitive but are offered as a tool for becoming aware of some of the most common spiritually transmitted diseases.

1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.

2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics spiritual realization in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.

3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be “the one.”

4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences: In this disease, the ego identifies with our spiritual experience and takes it as its own, and we begin to believe that we are embodying insights that have arisen within us at certain times. In most cases, it does not last indefinitely, although it tends to endure for longer periods of time in those who believe themselves to be enlightened and/or who function as spiritual teachers.

5. The Spiritualized Ego: This disease occurs when the very structure of the egoic personality becomes deeply embedded with spiritual concepts and ideas. The result is an egoic structure that is “bullet-proof.” When the ego becomes spiritualized, we are invulnerable to help, new input, or constructive feedback. We become impenetrable human beings and are stunted in our spiritual growth, all in the name of spirituality.

6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers: There are a number of current trendy spiritual traditions that produce people who believe themselves to be at a level of spiritual enlightenment, or mastery, that is far beyond their actual level. This disease functions like a spiritual conveyor belt: put on this glow, get that insight, and — bam! — you’re enlightened and ready to enlighten others in similar fashion. The problem is not that such teachers instruct but that they represent themselves as having achieved spiritual mastery.

7. Spiritual Pride: Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of “spiritual superiority” is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that “I am better, more wise and above others because I am spiritual.”

8. Group Mind: Also described as groupthink, cultic mentality or ashram disease, group mind is an insidious virus that contains many elements of traditional co-dependence. A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Individuals and groups infected with “group mind” reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.

9. The Chosen-People Complex: The chosen people complex is not limited to Jews. It is the belief that “Our group is more spiritually evolved, powerful, enlightened and, simply put, better than any other group.” There is an important distinction between the recognition that one has found the right path, teacher or community for themselves, and having found The One.

10. The Deadly Virus: “I Have Arrived”: This disease is so potent that it has the capacity to be terminal and deadly to our spiritual evolution. This is the belief that “I have arrived” at the final goal of the spiritual path. Our spiritual progress ends at the point where this belief becomes crystallized in our psyche, for the moment we begin to believe that we have reached the end of the path, further growth ceases.

“The essence of love is perception,” according to the teachings of Marc Gafni, “Therefore the essence of self love is self perception. You can only fall in love with someone you can see clearly–including yourself. To love is to have eyes to see. It is only when you see yourself clearly that you can begin to love yourself.”

It is in the spirit of Marc’s teaching that I believe that a critical part of learning discernment on the spiritual path is discovering the pervasive illnesses of ego and self-deception that are in all of us. That is when we need a sense of humor and the support of real spiritual friends. As we face our obstacles to spiritual growth, there are times when it is easy to fall into a sense of despair and self-diminishment and lose our confidence on the path. We must keep the faith, in ourselves and in others, in order to really make a difference in this world.

Source: Huffington Post

– See more at: http://www.spiritscienceandmetaphysics.com/10-spiritually-transmitted-diseases/#sthash.BS8FUzAq.dpuf

As written by Mariana Caplan, Ph.D.  It is a jungle out there, and it is no less true about spiritual life than any other aspect of life. Do we really think that just because someone has been meditating for five years, or doing 10 years of yoga practice, that they will be any less neurotic than the next person? At best, perhaps they will be a little bit more aware of it. A little bit.

It is for this reason that I spent the last 15 years of my life researching and writing books on cultivating discernment on the spiritual path in all the gritty areas–power, sex, enlightenment, gurus, scandals, psychology, neurosis — as well as earnest, but just plain confused and unconscious, motivations on the path. My partner (author and teacher Marc Gafni) and I are developing a new series of books, courses and practices to bring further clarification to these issues.

Several years ago, I spent a summer living and working in South Africa. Upon my arrival I was instantly confronted by the visceral reality that I was in the country with the highest murder rate in the world, where rape was common and more than half the population was HIV-positive — men and women, gays and straights alike.

As I have come to know hundreds of spiritual teachers and thousands of spiritual practitioners through my work and travels, I have been struck by the way in which our spiritual views, perspectives and experiences become similarly “infected” by “conceptual contaminants” — comprising a confused and immature relationship to complex spiritual principles can seem as invisible and insidious as a sexually transmitted disease.

The following 10 categorizations are not intended to be definitive but are offered as a tool for becoming aware of some of the most common spiritually transmitted diseases.

1. Fast-Food Spirituality: Mix spirituality with a culture that celebrates speed, multitasking and instant gratification and the result is likely to be fast-food spirituality. Fast-food spirituality is a product of the common and understandable fantasy that relief from the suffering of our human condition can be quick and easy. One thing is clear, however: spiritual transformation cannot be had in a quick fix.

2. Faux Spirituality: Faux spirituality is the tendency to talk, dress and act as we imagine a spiritual person would. It is a kind of imitation spirituality that mimics spiritual realization in the way that leopard-skin fabric imitates the genuine skin of a leopard.

3. Confused Motivations: Although our desire to grow is genuine and pure, it often gets mixed with lesser motivations, including the wish to be loved, the desire to belong, the need to fill our internal emptiness, the belief that the spiritual path will remove our suffering and spiritual ambition, the wish to be special, to be better than, to be “the one.”

4. Identifying with Spiritual Experiences: In this disease, the ego identifies with our spiritual experience and takes it as its own, and we begin to believe that we are embodying insights that have arisen within us at certain times. In most cases, it does not last indefinitely, although it tends to endure for longer periods of time in those who believe themselves to be enlightened and/or who function as spiritual teachers.

5. The Spiritualized Ego: This disease occurs when the very structure of the egoic personality becomes deeply embedded with spiritual concepts and ideas. The result is an egoic structure that is “bullet-proof.” When the ego becomes spiritualized, we are invulnerable to help, new input, or constructive feedback. We become impenetrable human beings and are stunted in our spiritual growth, all in the name of spirituality.

6. Mass Production of Spiritual Teachers: There are a number of current trendy spiritual traditions that produce people who believe themselves to be at a level of spiritual enlightenment, or mastery, that is far beyond their actual level. This disease functions like a spiritual conveyor belt: put on this glow, get that insight, and — bam! — you’re enlightened and ready to enlighten others in similar fashion. The problem is not that such teachers instruct but that they represent themselves as having achieved spiritual mastery.

7. Spiritual Pride: Spiritual pride arises when the practitioner, through years of labored effort, has actually attained a certain level of wisdom and uses that attainment to justify shutting down to further experience. A feeling of “spiritual superiority” is another symptom of this spiritually transmitted disease. It manifests as a subtle feeling that “I am better, more wise and above others because I am spiritual.”

8. Group Mind: Also described as groupthink, cultic mentality or ashram disease, group mind is an insidious virus that contains many elements of traditional co-dependence. A spiritual group makes subtle and unconscious agreements regarding the correct ways to think, talk, dress, and act. Individuals and groups infected with “group mind” reject individuals, attitudes, and circumstances that do not conform to the often unwritten rules of the group.

9. The Chosen-People Complex: The chosen people complex is not limited to Jews. It is the belief that “Our group is more spiritually evolved, powerful, enlightened and, simply put, better than any other group.” There is an important distinction between the recognition that one has found the right path, teacher or community for themselves, and having found The One.

10. The Deadly Virus: “I Have Arrived”: This disease is so potent that it has the capacity to be terminal and deadly to our spiritual evolution. This is the belief that “I have arrived” at the final goal of the spiritual path. Our spiritual progress ends at the point where this belief becomes crystallized in our psyche, for the moment we begin to believe that we have reached the end of the path, further growth ceases.

“The essence of love is perception,” according to the teachings of Marc Gafni, “Therefore the essence of self love is self perception. You can only fall in love with someone you can see clearly–including yourself. To love is to have eyes to see. It is only when you see yourself clearly that you can begin to love yourself.”

It is in the spirit of Marc’s teaching that I believe that a critical part of learning discernment on the spiritual path is discovering the pervasive illnesses of ego and self-deception that are in all of us. That is when we need a sense of humor and the support of real spiritual friends. As we face our obstacles to spiritual growth, there are times when it is easy to fall into a sense of despair and self-diminishment and lose our confidence on the path. We must keep the faith, in ourselves and in others, in order to really make a difference in this world.

Source: Huffington Post

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