// 10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases (from Huff. Post)
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se7en
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« on: Jun 16, 2010 09:31 AM »


As salaamu alaykum,

This is an amazing, through-provoking, and insightful article.  We really have to consider whether we fall into any of these diseases in our spiritual struggles, and whether we are using spirituality or religiosity as a gilded cover for more deeply rooted issues, weaknesses, and desires that we have.

May Allah (swt) give us the courage to look at ourselves honestly and deeply, and give us 'the gift of recognizing our own deficiencies'.  That awareness and recognition is the first step to moving forward and to change.

salaam,
7

10 Spiritually Transmitted Diseases
by Mariana Caplan, Ph.D

from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mariana-caplan-phd/spiritual-living-10-spiri_b_609248.html

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.

Adapted from Eyes Wide Open: Cultivating Discernment on the Spiritual Path (Sounds True)
tahirah
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« Reply #1 on: Jun 17, 2010 01:47 AM »

Salaam,

Jazakillah khair for posting. Spiritual self delusion is such a scary thing. May Allah protect us from improperly worhipping Him.

t
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« Reply #2 on: Jun 17, 2010 05:54 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro


Quote
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.


How scary is that?

May Allah indeed save us from such delusions and show us the truth as truth and falsehood as falsehood.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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« Reply #3 on: Jun 17, 2010 06:46 AM »


Honestly, when I was reading that article I really couldn't believe it was written by a non-Muslim.  All of these spiritual illnesses are so deeply related to the process of Tazkiyat an-Nafs.  I guess they can be considered universal principles for anyone seeking a higher state of spirituality  Huh?
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« Reply #4 on: Jun 17, 2010 04:32 PM »

Salaam,

Se7en, that could spark an interesting debate: whether or not there is any true spirituality outside of Islam - and if not, how can someone outside of Islam so accurately present the potential diseases of one who seeks true spirituality? (As in how can the deluded describe delusion?)

t
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« Reply #5 on: Jun 19, 2010 07:05 AM »

wa alaykum as salaam wrt,

very interesting question.  I don't really know the answer, especially when it comes to matters of spirituality, but as a general principle we know that 'al hikmatu daalatu Muslim'; that wisdom, wherever it is found, is the 'lost property' of the believer.... meaning that it is something they should take and seek to benefit from.  I always find it so amazing that Rasulullah saw in this hadith uses the word 'lost property' - because isn't it the case that you often find something you've lost in a strange place?  (your keys in the fridge or your cell phone on top of the car Smiley) Which means that wisdom can often be found in unexpected and surprising places.  I think this can be extended to understand that we should benefit from knowledge no matter what the source may be.

About spirituality outside of Islam - there is this whole new trend, especially with the popularization of Rumi, of non-Muslims getting into tassawuf/spirituality without the underlying principles and beliefs of Islam.  I think it's a good doorway or segway into people learning more about Islam and /or becoming Muslim, but obviously without the critical element of tawheed (belief in the oneness of God), the heart and soul of the whole endeavor is missing and you just have the outer shell.

Reminds of me of some lines of poetry Sh. Mokhtar Maghraoui mentioned in one of his classes on Aqeedah:

تأمل خطوط الكائنات فإنها
من الملك الأعلى إليك رسائل
لقد خط فيها لو تأملت خطها
ألا كل شيء ما خلا الله باطل


salaam,
7
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« Reply #6 on: Jun 19, 2010 08:50 AM »

As Salaam 'alaikum wa Rahmatullah,

Quote

تأمل خطوط الكائنات فإنها
من الملك الأعلى إليك رسائل
لقد خط فيها لو تأملت خطها
ألا كل شيء ما خلا الله باطل
Do you have a translation?

Sh. Mokhtar also said once that there are different types/levels of intellect, and one level may be clouded while others are still intact. So a person may have the ability to reason and analyze, despite not having accepted the ultimate truth.

t
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« Reply #7 on: Jun 19, 2010 09:53 AM »

ws,

agreed, I think a lot of ppl "know" the truth but for some reason or another they do not wish to accept it or practice it. i had a friend in college who said he thought islam was a 'clean good way to live' but he just didn't feel 'he could live up to it'. i think perhaps a lot of non-muslims, after they get over the initial "terrorism" myth, think islam is very strict and austere with a lot of rules. they also sometimes feel like they need to follow everything strictly and exactly and be like the next abu bakr and umar combined [ranhum] so they just can't get over that hurdle.

if i remember the prophet's uncle also believed in his nephew very much and protected him until the day he died, but he just could not bring himself to accept islam for whatever reason.

about realizing spiritual truths outside islam, why not. we do have a fitrah and it is our nature to seek God. however without divine guidance we can see that ppl seeking it can go awry and wack for sure...

anyways good discussion Wink
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« Reply #8 on: Jun 19, 2010 12:12 PM »


Quote
تأمل خطوط الكائنات فإنها
من الملك الأعلى إليك رسائل
لقد خط فيها لو تأملت خطها
ألا كل شيء ما خلا الله باطل

Reflect on the lines written within creation, for they are
from the Sovereign Most High letters to you.
He has written, If you but pondered on the writing therein,
"Indeed everything besides Allah is meaningless and in vain."
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« Reply #9 on: Jun 20, 2010 06:43 AM »

Asalaamu Alaikum  bro


Quote
about realizing spiritual truths outside islam, why not. we do have a fitrah and it is our nature to seek God. however without divine guidance we can see that ppl seeking it can go awry and wack for sure...


Agreed, there is a certain amount of core knowledge we all need before we can embark on matters spiritual otherwise we may really become deluded.


In the words of Sidi Ahmad Zurruq:

Don’t hasten the end result before you have completed the beginning, but,likewise, don’t begin without looking toward the end result.

This is so because the one whoseeks the outset at the end loses providential security, and the one who seeks the end at theoutset loses providential guidance.

Say: "O ye my servants who believe! Fear your Lord, good is (the reward) for those who do good in this world. Spacious is God's earth! those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure!" [39:10]
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