A trouble with personal development and spirituality is that it encourages us to consider being more healthy and balanced as a person as success. This complicates your development by making it easy for the ego to slip in. Suddenly, people are better or worse depending on how balanced they are.
Oh, sure, most spiritually-inclined people aren’t so crude as to go around saying “I’m better than you”, but the actual situation is not too far from that. Just replace “better” with “more spiritually advanced”, and, while you sound a little less obscene, you’re basically saying the same thing.
I’ve found that the desire to be better or more enlightened has seriously messed with me. I’ve found myself repressing negative thoughts, or holding back on certain actions, just for the sake of appearing more spiritual.
The trouble with this is that repression is very rarely the same as actual advancement. You might try hard to do what you think a “spiritual” person would do, but that still doesn’t mean you’re really spiritual.
I slowly learnt that the best way to keep advancing was to allow myself to be “unspiritual”. If I was angry, I let myself be angry. If I was materialistic, I let myself be materialistic. If I was unloving, I let myself be unloving. And so on.
The effect of this was twofold. One, was that I didn’t suffer from self repression, pretending not to have issues which I’d really only hidden from myself. This let me continue to work on them and to see my weak points.
Two, I often found that what I originally thought was a spiritual thing, might not be. Though I started out very anti-materialistic, I now believe that a certain amount of materialism is healthy, in its proper balance. If I had just tried to force myself into the mould of a spiritual person, I would never have learnt that.
I find it strange that we all have an idea of what “spiritual” is, and we try and make ourselves into that. Instead, I believe we should look inside, and find the more free and healthy part of ourselves, which doesn’t look like any one thing.
Trying to be something is inflexible; you have a static, limited image of that thing which is supposed to apply in all situations. Actually discovering yourself is dynamic. I believe the more you free your spirit, the more options you have; you don’t have fewer. The freer you are, the less you are like this one-dimensional image of an ever-peaceful spiritual master who just sits and meditates all day. You become more nuanced, not less.
Back when I was in the spiritual scene, I often found the people there quite ridiculous. They were often so serious, as if that was going to somehow give them more points to get into heaven. They were trying so hard to appear spiritual, and forgot that they were also supposed to be human. It seemed so obvious to me, but I think most of them didn’t really get it.
Conformity like this is ridiculous. Sure it can make some social interactions easier, but it comes at the cost of authenticity. In turn, you lose depth of connection with those people. And, of course, you limit yourself drastically.
So be unenlightened. If you don’t look like exactly what you think a spiritual person should look like, accept that. Let other people think you’re unenlightened. If someone doesn’t want to be your friend after that, or doesn’t hold you in such high esteem, realise that they probably wouldn’t have made a very good friend in the first place. Don’t play this stupid game, everyone pretending to be a spotless saint.
You’re not spotless. That’s the point. So show it. Admit it. Own it. Say, “I believe it would be healthier not to be angry, but I am angry.” Say, “I observe I’m in a low vibration, and I’d like to be in a high one, but I’m just not right now.” Or just say: “I’m angry.” Say, “I’m feeling crap.” If someone calls you out for being unenlightened, remind them that you have every right to feel whatever you are feeling in any given moment. And if no-one calls you out, then remain secure that you’re just being human, and that’s the point.