What are the dark sides of spirituality and consciousness development?

Tibetan wisdom: this is how you keep the energy of your kidneys in balance

More and more people are finding their way into the world of spirituality and consciousness development. The consequences of this are often positive. However, there are also dark sides to it. Shadows that may see the light in this blog.

Judging and being guilty

To yourself

‘You create and are responsible for your own reality is a universal law. The flip side of this wisdom is that we start blaming ourselves for everything that goes wrong in our lives. That we engage in self-incrimination. And there’s no need for that.

First, you always do what you can, with the awareness you have (at that moment). Second, you don’t know what lessons your soul needs to evolve. Third: sometimes things just happen, without there being or needing to be an explanation for it.

Lately, I’ve been really hard on myself too. Honest self-examination almost became a torture technique; where mildness, gentleness, nor self-compassion were involved.

Tibetan wisdom: this is how you keep the energy of your kidneys in balance

To others

But we also accuse others of causing their reality. Instead of seeing and acknowledging them in their humanness, we judge them like that! Judgments that seem very innocent and ‘well-intentioned’, but are anything but. Like:

‘No relationship? You must not like yourself enough!’

‘No money? You probably don’t think in terms of abundance!’

“Don’t tell me how spiritual or enlightened you are, but show me, in every moment, how you treat yourself, your fellow man, animals and nature.

Being aware or spiritual doesn’t make you more, better or ‘further’ than anyone else! We know nothing about our own path, let alone know anything about the path of the other.

Judging is precisely the ultimate characteristic of the ego, which brings us to the second pitfall.

Being blind to the illusions and mechanisms of the ego

Tibetan wisdom: this is how you keep the energy of your kidneys in balance

On this subject I would like to share an excerpt from the book ‘The way to truth’ by Nouk Sanchez and Tomas Vieira:

“We can find hundreds or even thousands of spiritual teachers who are unwilling to step over the threshold of their personal ego death and yet continue to trumpet endless information about how to transform.

Unless the teacher has let go of his own ego, there will always be the risk that the teacher’s ego will rear its head and slow down the progress of his students.

A healed teacher knows firsthand the letting go of the ego, and his or her humility bears witness to it. This man is taught by example and cannot be tempted by a heightened consciousness within the ego’s mind.

Many if not all spiritual seekers and teachers have not yet taken the first step. They may have accumulated an impressive amount of spiritual knowledge, but their egos are still intact.

The ego will immediately give itself the appearance of enlightenment, by seeking and gathering more spiritual information. The ego can gather so much spiritual information that it can overwhelm almost anyone, including its owner, into believing it is enlightened. The ‘enlightened’ ego, however, has not even begun to scale down, in fact the opposite is the case.

The tricks of the ego are absolutely amazing.”

Process of outfitting

I have recently discovered through my own experience how quickly you get caught up in the illusions of the ego. The ego, in most cases, cannot simply be dismantled. It is a process that takes time, attention, and energy and is accompanied by emotional pain, inner conflict, and quite a bit of resistance. Anything that gives you a false sense of identity or security (in my case it was about a relationship) will sooner or later have to undergo transformation or elimination.

But if you are on the pink spiritual cloud called ‘all is light and love’ or if you are convinced that you are ‘enlightened’, then this process is not started (see pitfall three: spiritual bypassing). You are then blind to your own ego, with all the consequences that entail.

Spiritual bypassing

Tibetan wisdom: this is how you keep the energy of your kidneys in balance

‘Spiritual bypassing is the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks.’ Wikipedia

‘To spiritually bypass is to use spirituality to avoid, suppress or escape from uncomfortable issues in life.’ lonerwolf

I learned about the term through a participant in my facilitator training and just ordered the book by Robert Augustus Masters, subtitled “When Spirituality Disconnects Us from What Really Matters.” (What really counts: humanity and compassion for example!)


I find it a fascinating phenomenon because I notice it regularly (without judgment 😉 ): people who see spirituality as a shortcut or as safe-conduct for skipping their inner work.

I myself don’t believe in a shortcut (and believe me, sometimes I wish I had one!). This is not to deny that our essence and our connection to the greater whole are always there, just as the sun always shines above the clouds. I’m certainly not saying that we should glorify suffering or ‘striving for’ or should get stuck in our painful stories (because that’s the ego again). With that, I’m just saying that we are only human, with human tendencies and habits.

“You are a Masterpiece. Jij bent. And, you are a Work in Progress. You can be both at the same time.

I believe that awareness is a process of development that goes on layer by layer, bringing you closer and closer to your own core. That through our day-to-day experiences we will continue to learn, grow and expand for a lifetime. Being able to accept what is now present is an important key to personal happiness (although in the meantime you can also long for something else and work towards it). And above all: we can all take it a little less seriously!


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