The Guru Teaches Arrogance- A Tough Lesson

Today’s Soul Report:

For awhile something was gnawing at me. Something big, but not big enough for me to see. A shadow, where every time I tried to turn around and see it, it would be behind me again. It wasn’t until I decided to get real honest with my journal and get real drill sergeant like and demand I see, declaring my readiness to see it- that I did. But first, I had to invite an experience into my life so I could see what it was that had been eluding me.

Arrogance runs deep

The culprit- arrogance. Arrogance runs deep, and comes out in many subtle ways, often barely noticeable, but since working with my own, I see it more clearly and see how subtle and deep this trait goes. It is destructive in its ability to separate and leave the other or others isolated, and it is sly, like a fox. It keeps weaving in and out so we don’t see it operating in its myriad ways.

Here are examples of some of those ways:

The experience I invited into my life was a conversation I never quite felt got finished with Marianne Williamson. I wrote a blog, and in this blog, I was sharing my experience with my inner perfectionist- how she talked to me, what she demanded of me- and I addressed her as Sergeant Williamson, seeing her as a combination of a spiritual teacher (I picked Marianne Williamson) and a drill sergeant. No harm done, at least not in my mind. I picked MW because she is a woman. I almost picked Wayne Dyer, but he’s a man and I wanted to make it relatable for me so I could work with this part of me that was making my life confused, miserable and inauthentic.

Ms. Williamson was adamant I was being catty. That I was harsh, and somehow she must have offended me or I would not speak so badly of her. Well, in my arrogance, perhaps a bit of courage, and the desire to take full advantage of an interesting opportunity to stretch, I tried to make spiritual teacher extraordinaire understand I was NOT talking about her. I wanted to have an effect on her evolution, and also really wanted her to let go of this story because it was not true, at least as I wrote it, so to move this further, I stood face to face with her after one of her Monday night lectures, something I would not have thought about if it had not been for one of her adoring fans telling me I must. I must talk to her. “It would be fun. We can go together,” she said. So I went, and the adoring fan never texted me back. The face-to-face exchange with Marianne was just as it was through Twitter, which is where she first contacted me and email, where she contacted me again.

There was no getting through to Marianne. She just would not get that I was not talking about her, and looked at me quizzically when I told her my process (naming it) of outing one of my parts that creates dysfunction in my life. I guess I was naive. I guess I thought I could have a conversation with someone who talks about God, love and forgiveness with some openess. Well after this meeting, I felt pretty good. Empowered. I stood my ground because I can’t nod my head with something I know isnt’ true. And I thought that opportunity had run its course.


A few days ago. My husband is a fan of her page and made a comment. Being curious I went to her page to see what he said. I don’t even know what he said, but I ran across a comment from her- “People can translate for themselves, and I appreciate those who don’t project all kinds of stuff onto my words that I didn’t say:)” I couldn’t help myself- and I told her “I know how you feel.” She responded, and said she would try and remember that, and also wondered why she (meaning me) is so intent on attacking her all of the time.

From here, a two day conversation began. Not with Marianne. We never heard from her again, but with some of her most loyal fans. In this exchange I saw many different and subtle aspects of arrogance, so much so it brought out my own- mostly in the form of the rebel who is going to call your shit out as I saw it. What I saw are some of the signposts I view as arrogant:

Subtly number one: People telling us their title, and we didn’t ask. Example, I am a psychologist. A doctor. A filmmaker. From said psychologist, I was told that I wasn’t in a very creative and intuitive place when I picked out the name Sergeant Williamson and if I were I would have not picked out Marianne’s name or Wayne’s. Which, brings me to…

Subtly number two: Giving advice when we didn’t ask. The ancients taught, do not teach unless asked. I didn’t ask for this woman’s advice about my writing (or Marianne’s when she told me she had been doing what she does for 20+ years and should really watch what I write). She was not at my writing desk as I wrote that post, and actually, the moment MW and the drill sergeant merged was one of brilliance that only happens when in the creative space.

Subtly number three: When people say “Been there. Done that.” I tend to be honest about how I feel and what I think and where I am in my evolutionary process. This said, I leave myself open for people to give me a lot of, “been there, done thats,” (and that advice I didn’t ask for) Oh, I used to compare myself to others; (which was said and assumed by a loyal follower from this exchange). Oh, I used to care what people thought of me; Oh, I used to be afraid but now I am not- “Been there. Done that.” Great. Super. Is that helpful though? Or does it increase their superiority and cause further isolation? Why say it, other than to prove you no longer struggle, to let us all know what step you aren’t on in your evolution. And if you are so over your stuff, can I now ask you for your advice because I want to be over mine too?

Subtly Number Four: It’s my way or the dumb-way. This exchange had me pretty much hating new agey, spiritual mumbo jumbo, and I used to be kind of into it, but I think I may have been into it because it was the only thing I thought was there that sort of got me. But, most of it isn’t deep enough. It’s too much about the end result- where we are all singing Kumbaya, and not enough about what it takes to get there or gives space for those who aren’t. For me if I am not authentically feeling it, I am not going to preach about it. And for me the only way I can authentically feel it, means I have to dig within myself and find all the obsrtuctions to my authentic joy. Have I had those moments? Yes. I think so. But I’m not done. I can’t speak on the eternal, authentic anything because my focus is to know thyself, or as Volatire says, to culitivate our own garden and this is ongoing, a process. But see, I’ve been arrogant about all of this. My way is the way, preaching my anthem of- please don’t waste your time preaching and pretending all this love and joy when you have so much darkness inside, that is being projected all over the place, that you aren’t owning. As much as I would like it to be everyone’s anthem and deal with stuff, I can only own it for myself. It is what works for me. If others want what I have in my garden, I will share, but the last few years, I’ve been lost in my own arrogance; my attachment to other’s evolution and feeling the pressure to help it along as if this is my duty, my “calling,” more than tending what I used to tend best- my own garden. And yet, I wasn’t out there enough pushing that either, to get people to go my way or the dumb way, which brings me to this lesson:

The fear of arrogance also runs deep.

My husband said recently, if I want to get my teachings, words, writing- basically myself “out there,” I am going to have to find my swag. Be a little cocky even. Oh, God no- how I could I? I resist being arrogant like that. There has to be another way….I would imagine most who are out there, had some swag/arrogance- or perhps a whole lot. Even Gandhi had swag in his own way. He put himself out there and was devoted to what he believed in. So, probably not too much wrong with some swag. But I was afraid of using it and how it might make me look. The fear of being arrogant was a bigger culprit, it would seem, and it wasn’t helping me not be arrogant. It was making me blind to it. We often become what we fear, and our not looking at what we fear doesn’t make it less dangerous or real.


I invited Marianne, along with some of her loyal fans, into my life to be mirrors of my own arrogance, and my fear of it. To bring out what was gnawing at me, so I could see it and name it, which is only the tip of the arrogance ice berg, and..


The lesson in arrogance will continue…

Today’s Soul Tip:

Seeing and naming what is deep within is only the beginning. This battle/learning opportunity is not over. It is on-going until I get all the way through it. What I have learned though so far is it is important for me to call out the arrogance. To understand it is a fierce opponent. The fear of it, worse. I don’t have to fear my arrogance, therefore I may begin exposing it, playing with it, at the risk of looking more arrogant than ever before. But I am not ready to own my pure humility, and my rebel certainly isn’t going to fake it.

There is more to the story- and if my focus is to cultivate my own garden, and everything in it, then the story will continue to unfold, and I believe it might have something to do with courage. I hope you will stay tuned…


The Soul Reporter

Investigating (with slight irritation) Certain Spiritual Teachings

Teaching up for investigation: “It’s not up to you what you learn, but only whether you learn through joy or through pain.” ~A Course in Miracles

Upfront disclaimer: If you hear a charge in this post, you are right on. I’m irritated with certain spiritual teachings (I’ll get through it, but right now I am learning in a slightly painful way). I think some teachings are only useful in keeping us away from the real work, which in the long term is not useful. This one (above) for example has those markings. So, let’s investigate- if I believe in this teaching, that would mean I have no possibility of insight into my lessons. There is some being somewhere in charge of what I need to learn. It would also mean that I have a choice whether I learn through joy or through pain. I would agree, we have choice- and if I am using my strong will, I can will myself to choose to learn through joy, instead of pain. I mean who the hell really wants to learn through pain…..?

But, can we be honest? I can’t be the only one who has learned a lot of my lessons through intense amounts of pain. Pain, I was so immersed in I didn’t have the will power to choose joy, to even think that was an option. Does this then make me weak? Insufficient because I chose to suffer instead of jump to those lessons with glee?

To learn in joy is a certain kind of mastery I don’t believe I could even talk much about (I don’t like to talk about ideas without having personal experience). I’m not there. I think it’s possible for those who have worked diligently and intently on their path, and gone through lots of pain, but for most of us common folk, still ignorant to our True nature, this type of spiritual teaching might not be helpful. It keeps us in the superficial layer of our spiritual growth, where we think we can control how we feel by will alone. And where some of us who have gone a bit deeper than the superficial layers might feel bad because we aren’t choosing our lessons through joy. There were many times, as much as I was inspired by Wayne Dyer’s teachings, I felt like a failure because I wasn’t all happy, happy, joy, joy and maintaing my spiritual perspective through my shit, my hand on the trolley strap, so to speak.

To go back to this teaching that it is not up to us what we learn- this makes me feel disempowered. I know there is a soul, and I know contained within this soul are my lessons. I believe these lessons are universal, and we will all learn them as we are ready, which means we are the ones who choose to receive those lessons or to put them off. I also know we are given the extraordinary gift of insight, which can be used to look within and have knowledge into our lessons. I also trust, as we evolve into this soul, we will be able facilitate and consciously prepare and participate in those lessons. We may not know how those lessons will come to us, but we can know they are coming and will remain open and ready to receive. This may be the point in which there is joy- a sort of anticipatory joy, like YAY! Today I am going to be stretched and I can’t wait because I want to grow. But so many of us are unaware of this going on inside of us so how can we consciously participate, let alone joyously (therefore not knowing might be a more comfortable belief for those wanting to stay safe on the shore). This means the lessons that do come are probably going to hurt like hell because we don’t know what is going on or why and we are resisting them all the way.

Looking for the positive:

What this spiritual lesson does do is bring awareness that there are lessons we will learn and are learning. That is essential to know. It gives perspective. It also brings awareness to choice of joy or pain, but it doesn’t go deep or wide or guide enough to where many of us are right now in our evolution- not where we can choose joy in a pure authentic way while we grow (but we can pretend :-). Having only read bits and pieces of ACIM, maybe it does do this throughout the book. What I did read, the words inspired higher aspects, but it wasn’t very grounding for me. I am not content only with ideals. I want to be those ideals, and that is quite a process of unraveling and discovering. It’s work. Often painful- just being honest.

Lesson: The most helpful teaching/teacher for me inspires my true nature, while also holding the space of where I am with insight, guidance and compassion. 

>The New Crime

>“…There is no sacrifice – only greater and more magnificent results, wealth, adventure and fulfillment. You owe it to the rest of your life to get to Spiritual Warrior as quickly as you can. The investment is ONLY $9695 per person.” ~From the James Arthur Ray Website

On October 8, 2009 three participants in James Arthur Ray’s Spiritual Warrior Experience died while participating in his sweat lodge experience. One of those who died, I knew. Her name is Liz Neuman, and she and I were members of Unity of the Valley in Savage, MN.

Liz was the greeter at Unity. Always smiling at the door on Sunday mornings, she welcomed, and handed us our program. I do not claim to know Liz all that well. We talked here and there, but I do remember her most when she began to promote James Arthur Ray. At the time I had not heard about him, but she seemed to be enthralled with him. Because of her giddiness, I purchased his CD series for my husband, and later got tickets from her for one of his free events.

Like most “spiritual teachers” in this “New Age,” I agree with most of what they say, but there was something about Ray, I couldn’t succumb to. For me, he was too smooth, too polished. And I guess I didn’t like the way he told me at this free event, that if I didn’t sign up for his Spiritual Warrior Retreat, I really didn’t want to change. Interesting, James was so smooth, and repeated this “mantra” so many times, I began to question my own spiritual growth, and wondered if maybe I wasn’t who I thought I was, and should hand him my credit card so I could prove I was “change worthy.” But I didn’t. I left, with his free little book, taking in only the words of the old spiritual teachers, like Plato, and Aristotle he quoted.

The old guys taught spiritual principles as old as dust, and older. The new guys teach them too. The new crime of which I speak involves manipulation and a kind of vampirism, and is also as old as dust. What’s new, however is some of the content from these new teachers, and the times we live in.

The new content is promising light, joy, purpose, abundance, especially of the financial kind, and to have all of this quickly. The times, are the millions of people searching for this, because of the overall dissatisfaction so many of us feel. The times are also about everything being fast. With a flip of a switch we get instant electricity. When we type a word in google, and click search we get instant information. When we want food, we drive up to the window, say “I want a #9,” and get an instant meal. So, when we want more money, and to feel good, why not take Dr. Enlightenment’s, 10-point program to financial success or “In One Weekend I Will Love My Life” spiritual retreat. And it doesn’t help we have “teachers” who show us how they are living this abundant life. Because of this, we expect spiritual enlightenment to be easy, and joy filled. I am sorry, but if enlightenment were so damn easy, wouldn’t we all be enlightened by now.

My father recently shared with me a truth coming from the “old guys” and some Buddhists. They say, in regard to the spiritual path, and crossing over to the other side spiritually, of 100,000 only 1,000 may reach the shore. Of that 1,000 only 2 0r 3 may successfully cross to the other shore. This truth suggests, it is not easy.

Also, I find interesting the content in James Ray’s quote above, “there is no sacrifice.” This is a lie. There is an enormous amount of sacrifice in crossing over to the other side. However, this is not something people like to hear in the “New Age.” Have we become so off from our center, as to think we have beat the basic, fundamental principles of our spiritual path? Do we think we can rush it, and buck the system? We can’t, and we never will. We are not that powerful. However, our power lies in surrendering to these basic, fundamental spiritual truths, for they are living and breathing inside of us. Because of this we do not need the spiritual teacher like we think we do. What we need is to hear the principles the teacher speaks, as reminders and signposts as we travel our paths.

If we choose to search for a spiritual teacher or healer to assist us on our journey, here are some signposts for you, the seeker:
  • First and foremost it is important to understand who you are as a seeker. The teachers who who wish to suck our power and money, we cannot control. However, if we are centered within our own self, we will not succumb to these kinds of people. Therefore, as a seeker, it is important to know what you are seeking for?

Let me give you a personal example. A few years back I was a stay-at-home mom. I was frustrated, and longing for some other kind of expression beyond motherhood. Before I became a mother, I was going to school to be a psychologist, however I decided to quit and stay home with my daughter. So, when I met a woman, who offered a life beyond motherhood, I was all for it. She promised life coaching certification, a chance to be a partner in her healing center, and a chance to write an article in a local magazine. She also told me how wise I was for my age, and invited me to important meetings about her center. I felt special (often my “weak” spot).

Overtime, though I noticed subtle behaviors of hers that made me uncomfortable. Like her sitting in a large chair in the middle of a room surrounded by her “followers.” And again, with a chair, when I went to her house for a “coaching” session, and she told me to get out of her big, comfy chair and told me to sit in the small, uncomfortable one. And when she didn’t respond to my holiday invite after I called many times, and noticing my co-dependent behaviors I knew I was giving away my power.

When we feel like something isn’t right, yet we also feel pulled to someone or something, this usually means there is a need in us which is strong, yet a “weakness” which opens us up to manipulation, and being sucked of our power. For me, I was vulnerable to this woman because I was looking for something more, and I wanted to be special to someone. At that time I forgot I held my own power and opportunity and not someone else. If someone is telling us we need their help to change or we won’t, or someone acts as though she is the queen on a throne, move on, but first pay attention to whatever is pulling at you to not move on, and understand it so you will not be pulled in again.

  • When you find a teacher, or someone who you resonate with, remember this adage- if you see the Buddha on the side of the road, kill him.

The way I intepret this to mean, is again it is about the principles, in this case, of the Buddha in which we treasure, and live by, not the Buddha himself. If we really think of the essence of Buddha or Jesus, do we think they want to be praised, followed and admired- or do they offer their wisdom and experience so that we too may join them in their “enlightenment?”

Jesus, said, “Even the least among you can do all that I have done, and greater things.” We hear in these words, it isn’t about him. It is about us and doing our work. We resonate with true spiritual principles, because they are living and breathing inside of us, but to give the teacher the energy you need for the work, is a great disservice and distraction to your spiritual journey and growth.

  • Be aware of teachers teaching anything as easy, and everything is a rush.

Notice James Ray’s request, or maybe command- “You owe it to the rest of your life to get to Spiritual Warrior as quickly as you can. Key word being quickly. If there is urgency, be very wary.

We are vulnerable to believing these kinds of requests because we often begin seeking when we are uncomfortable and in pain. Our culture doesn’t like pain, which is why millions of us are addicted to pain killers. We want instant relief. So when a “guru” promises quick and easy steps, and please hurry to make those steps NOW, keep in mind they are just that- steps, and there is no hurry.

Someone who came to see me for a coaching session, said something very powerful which subsided my ego who wants to be the savior. She thanked me for being one of many steps on her spiritual path. I don’t need to be the entire path/the way. To be a step is honor enough.

  • Be aware of how the teacher lives his or her life.

I remember meeting a feng shui and clutter clearing consultant at her home. On the outside, she was very put togther, and I couldn’t wait to meet her, and get to know her. When I walked into her house, the first thing I noticed were the closet doors completely off the hinges. I walked into her kitchen, and saw there were no cupboard doors, and kitchen items were hanging out of the drawers. When she asked me if I wanted tea, I hesitated noticing the filth in the kitchen. When I went into her bathroom, I could not even sit on the toilet for reasons I will not share. And to top it off, her home was in foreclosure. Now I am not saying teachers and healers can’t have issues, but for me, if my life is working better, I’d be better off keeping my own counsel.

  • Be aware of the focus on money.

My husband I participated in a sweat lodge a couple of years ago. The lodge was in the middle of the woods, clearly made from natural materials, and seated no more than 10 or 12. When we asked if there is a charge, the guy hosting, said if someone is charging you for this, you should walk away. Giving a donation is one thing, but being charged for a sacred ceremony is considered wrong.

  • Be aware of “New Age Propaganda” and all the Bells & Whistles.

Yes, the aura photos, retreats to Sedona, talking with angels and playing with The Secret is all interesting, but don’t fall into the trap that this is what it means to be spiritual. It is often just a distraction to going deeper within the Self, which is the work of getting to the other shore.

I cannot discount the value of the New Age literature and bells and whistles, for these offerings are often what get seekers to wake up to their spiritual path, but again it isn’t the path. Seeing auras, talking with the dead, and channeling “masters” does not make anyone more spiritual than those who cannot.

As I come to a conclusion with this post, I want to say loud and clear- keep your power at all times, but I know this is like telling your teenage daughter not to smoke, drink or have sex. In the beginning of our awakening journeys, we often need to pursue our ambitions and desires. The important thing here, is we learn and grow, and become stronger and wiser within our Sacred Center.

The most pertinent work at this time, as many of our human foundations are being shattered with job loss, relationship issues, global issues and the like, is as those shaky structures crumble we find the only true salvation and solid foundation there is- our Sacred Self. And it is a journey, and a relationship which is up to us to develop. And in this New Age journey, our best defense against manipulation and vampirism, is “knowing thyself.”

I wonder what Liz Neuman’s final thoughts were? Did she wonder about the man she so loyally followed as, according to reports, he fleas the scene as she and others lose consciousness. Did she even know? Did she stay inside, even though her Sacred Self whispered leave, because she wanted to prove to possibly herself, and her teacher, she too was a warrior? Was it too much to leave, like some did, and feel the shame of not enduring the heat?

It is true we must sacrifice on the spiritual path, but I do not think Liz was asked to sacrifice her life. She, like all of us are asked to sacrifice our pride, our desire for power, our thoughts that we are weak and insignificant, our greed, and so much more. It’s not easy, so let’s not expect it to be. But by no means does this mean we cannot be sweetly humbled by the magnificence of our very natures and of this tremendous undertaking we are all on. It is beautiful, significant, sweet and oh, so, so very, very real and true.

Thomas Merton said, “The spiritual life is first of all a life. Not something merely to talk about, or be studied. It is meant to be lived.” It may rarely be captivating and fun, and it may never be a trend, but it is the way of life, which is meant to be lived.

Stay true to you……


The Soul Reporter, sharing the Journey with you