A Spiritual Vigilante is someone who creates unnecessary suffering…
by seeking to avoid healthy shame, seeing it all as toxic.
As you move into the New Year of 2015 you probably set intentions to be healthier and happier, eating and drinking more consciously, getting in some regular exercise and feeling good about yourself in the process. The same is true of our spiritual selves. We seek to become better at relating with others more consciously, doing our best to move beyond limiting thoughts and draining dramas whilst becoming a little more enlightened along the way.
Sometimes these good intentions can backfire into ‘spiritual vigilantism’ where, just like with food, drink and exercise we constantly stalk ourselves to the point of madness with every lack and imperfection becoming a cause for horror. With this singular type focus on our own behaviour we can end up making ourselves much more wrong than necessary. For unlike eating and exercise relating doesn’t happen in isolation from others and we can’t always see our behaviours clearly as they’re part of a multi levelled playing field.
Despite spiritual claims that everything in life is our mirror is this simplification 100% true or are we still influenced to a greater or lesser degree by our interaction with others? No matter which it takes much practice to bring clarity and ease to our relating. The messiness of sorting out whose stuff is whose (even if it’s all ours) is both the challenge and the joy of relationship. And the healthy shame that goes with recognizing where we stuff up is an important part of the process. Just like the shame that serves as a motivation after eating cheesecake or lazing in bed to get us back on the health wagon so the shame of saying or doing something that hurts another (or ourselves) inspires us to make a wiser choice next time.
Healthy shame plays an important role in our spiritual wellbeing. However being a spiritual vigilante and taking on too much unnecessary blame onto ourselves creates a toxic shame instead, a deep cesspool of heaviness that stops us from being all we can be. This kind of shame can become deeply addictive.
Paradoxically the opposite is also true. By seeing ourselves as always working hard to ‘get it right’, by over spiritualizing ourselves we play out a covert, but equally addictive cycle of appearing blameless- to ourselves and those around us. This is really an elaborate way of avoiding feeling the associated shame of being wrong. Of being human occasionally.
It is important to observe and reflect on our behaviour but too much of this can be like a reverse form of self punishment where in trying to be spiritual we forget that we are human. And we forget that being human is also divine. It is healthier to give up our attachment to our enlightened spiritual persona and accept that we are not perfect, feeling our healthy shame and practicing the Art of Grace. Grace is the practice of loving ourselves when we feel most unworthy and trusting in its awesome power to shift us back into awareness of our Higher Self where choices come with ease and openness.
The same technique works well for eating cheesecake and sleeping in!