Spiritual hoarding and the dark side of the sisterhood
When you have your own baby creative endeavor you start to notice, quickly, who the supportive sisters and brothers are. As you know I have throughout the last two years, lived in spiritual spaces, in order that I should grow, learn and absorb wisdom from those far more adept in these spaces than me.
I have surrounded myself with every kind of alternative wisdom I could, and sat in community with those who purport to espouse similar values. It's nourishing, it's enlivening and it's incredibly humbling. The gifts some of these humans have to give is mind-blowing, and can undoubtedly change the world. For receiving even small bits of that, I am eternally grateful.
But something is wrong in these places...something is amiss. My hope in shedding light on it, is to not aim an arrow without direction, to cause damage or to wound, it's to aim an arrow that pierces the veil of spiritual protectionism. To give you men and women a chance to reflect on how you conduct yourselves as wisdom keepers and lightworkers. It's to throw some light on something really a little bit dark, a bit gnarly, and knotted up and to say "hey, I think we can do better". This is not about the work of any individual, it's about how they, overall, behave in relation to community.
To call attention to something a lot of people are scared to talk about openly, less they be shunned from these communities, places and spaces. I'm not scared, because this is not an attack, it's a call to action, a cry for help, a way forward if you take it in the way its intended. While I use myself an example for illustrative purposes, this is not about me, it is so much bigger than me, and it needs to be brought out into the open, so we can be honest about what's happening, and find a way out. Together.
So, let me be clear, whilst this is a lesson for us all, this piece, this is specifically this is aimed at the spiritual sisterhood, those operating as lightworkers, the inspirers, the life coaches, the healers, the retreat runners, the masculine/feminine empowerment coaches, the podcasters, the reiki practitioners, the mediums/seers/psychics, the yogis and yoginis who are regularly making money from providing others with wisdom from the depths of time (which includes men and women - but the alliteration really works for me so sisters it was). Those amongst you who bring the spiritual to life in this lifetime - no matter how you do it. The ones who make money from others while espousing values of kindness, open heartedness and altruism. You know the ones I mean, you know who you are. The woo woo girls and boys. The spiritual profiteers. If you're uncomfortable with that, then you shouldn't be. Making money from selling spirituality is absolutely not the problem, why should it be, it's a business like any other, but it's how you practice what you preach when no one's looking that really gets my goat.
It's who your are when the money clock stops ticking that really defines you.
For you are the very same people that send you endless invites to retreats, workshops and ceremonies, asking me and others to share with your own people (which most of the time I happily would do), to effectively do your marketing for you for free or for discounts to their programs (two birds one stone), to wantingly profiteer from mine or your kindness or willingness to participate in community. You are also, in my experience, the exact same people who would never think of dropping someone a note to see how your own work is going, commenting on a picture with a little emoji or support or solidarity symbol, enquiring as to what kind of progress I or they are making, or if (God forbid) could do something for you in return. It's fascinating. Truly eye opening. And it's endemic in this community. In contrast, other teachers and healers from the Western world are inquiring about my wellbeing apropos of nothing regularly: I have doctors from 10 years ago that still email me asking if X condition is still giving me trouble or asking if I need help, high school teachers saying they watch on with pride on Instagram, but people in the woo-woo world? Crickets. Truly, the silence is deafening.
There is a lot of take in these spaces, but sadly very little altruistic, money for nothing-type giving. It's stark, it's real and I have had enough of the pretending.
Let me be a little more demonstrative here, the amount of love and support I have received from you all, regular normal humans when launching this terrifying and delightful little endeavour has been so incredibly heartwarming, notes, comments, emails...you bring me to tears, make me smile like a total goof and make my heart soar. Thank you.
However, when I considered this, and reflected on how fortunate I was to be the recipient of such beautiful words and thoughts and actions, I noticed that very little of this support comes from the woo-woo world. None at ALL in fact from the numerous people I have paid over the last 2 years, those who call me client, those who call me friend, those who call me sister, those who send me endless requests for support of their various projects, who want to use my light for their own gain. In fact, I can count on one hand (and indeed name them all one by one) people from the woo-woo world who reached out to say BRAVO KID, well done on launching your business (not asking for much I don't think). One magical sound healer, one gifted Quantum healer, two gorgeous yoga teachers and one beloved writing teacher - that's them - all of them. Of the hundreds I have paid, and remain connected with - they're the 4 that reached out and said something. Anything. Only one of whom I have ever paid to do anything for me. The rest....silence. But the requests keep coming....
Now, to be clear, I was never asking or expecting to be put on blast on someone's Instagram feed or promoted in any way. Just a little like of a post, or a note to say "good for you", was all I had hopes for. These people were exposed to my inner most fears, the delicacy of how I was deathly afraid of bringing this to life, the fear of being mocked, they, better than anyone know what it's like to birth a creative baby. And what did I get? NO-THING.
So what's the problem here?
Why are those in community so stingey with their support? Where is all the practice of your preach people? I am not just talking about me, but this is also my own personal experience so I speak with authority and sovereigty, but I have seen it over and over and over again.
Spiritual stinginess. And it's not pretty.
Let's look at this a bit more closely because initially, it was really hurtful to observe this sad state of affairs. I acknowledge I had a human reaction to this silence; it felt like rejection, abandonment and it stung. So I sat with it and realised that I had a right to hope for more. It was jarring that these men and women I had continuously and directly supported couldn't have given a fat rats ass what I was doing, because at this moment, it does not directly benefit them to be interested.
Mon dieu, what have we here? Is it the smell of higher purpose hypocrisy? Community in crisis perhaps?
This delicate little problem is something I have been ruminating on, and chewing over with some of my friends who also work and live in these communities, real and virtual, and before I go on to extrapolate what I believe the source of the problem is, let me tell you what happens when someone dares to call out this behaviour. The woo-woos go wild. They can be savage when under attack, real go for the jugular type stuff. How dare you call them selfish or self-interested or self-absorbed, or in other words plain old human. They hiss and they spit and shout back "WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW? I'M ENLIGHTENED" (said in the voice of Tanya in Muriel's Wedding).
Uh, hold on a minute there Goldilocks, are you really? Your mission wouldn't be to also advance your own agenda, promote your own business while simultaneously clutching the chalice of spiritual knowledge so tightly it could snap clean in half, would you? You wouldn't be one of those people that shout loudly about supporting others find their purpose, rise in their own power, and then when they do, scowling at them from the sidelines would you?
The silence from the spiritual corner is deafening. But why?
Well....I have a theory or two that supports why I think there is such reticence in this space:
1. Spiritual scarcity; and/or subsequently
2. Spiritual hoarding.
My personal belief is very simple in this space. Spiritual people, or those purporting to be spiritual, can be incredibly selfish and self-centred. It's not a criticism, it's a fact. In some ways, you have to be in order that certain gateways, pathways and internal doors can be opened for you - wisdom keepers at times must shelter themselves from the "regular world". I get that. Even as a novice, I have been there at various times, so I also stand accused, which is why I am pouring some light on what is an endemic problem, a true inhibitor to genuine spiritual growth in the community. This is so easy to fix, it doesn't even bear further discussion; invite in more self-awareness, and remember that tomorrow, that person you failed to help, may be just the person you need to get to the next level. Your lack of care for them now, may just be remembered later. It's not opportunistic, it's basic bloody karma, and as a collective we should strive for altruism in helping others wherever we can. This, is not rocket science.
Secondly, I suspect, and this is just an observation, that many in these corners of society believe that if they support another person, publicly or otherwise, that they will be held to account if a "consumer" doesn't get exactly what they want from the experience. They will be tarred and feathered with the same brush if all doesn't to plan. And in the woo-woo world, often things don't go to plan. This is insane. This isn't Trip Advisor. PEOPLE, helping someone else get a leg up, will not cost you your reputation or your life savings if you manage it with grace and care. Get with the program...how did you succeed when you started? People promoted you, encouraged you and assisted you. Give back, especially to those who have given to you, it won't kill you. This is so blindingly obvious it galls me to have to point it out.
This segues nicely into my final, and most disturbing point, the problem of spiritual hoarding and scarcity. I have seen this with my own eyes. People are too afraid to promote or support another's work, lest it detract from their own audience. Their own ability to make copious amounts of money from the people that others helped you source in the first place. Or is it that someone else may have an answer that they do not? That someone else may shine more brightly for a moment? For the love of all things holy. Kindness and selfless support can be, at times, like the STI of the spiritual community. Everyone's afraid to catch it, so they just don't engage. Better to be safe than sorry? Really? That's what we're going for?
Come on everyone, we can do better than this. I am not an expert and I am absolutely not enlightened. Do not mistake me for saying I have the answers, but I definitely have some ideas. I count myself as an alternate member of this space, not fully initiated, I am on the outside, finding my feet, I am a baby in the world of ancient wisdom, but I am also keenly observing what is going on within and I don't always like what I see. BUT, I am an optimist and I know we can change if we want to.
You don't even have to actively promote, support or push out someone's work to not be doing what I describe above. Like their post, send them a note or a little one-line message. Actively participate in the community you so happily draw down from. Perhaps remembering that these people helped you build your business. Yes, YOUR BUSINESS. It may also be your calling, your purpose, your life's work, but if you're making money, you're profiting from these people, so PONY UP PEOPLE.
Don't hoard all your light for yourself. Share it. Spread it around for someone's benefit other than your own. If you see someone online or in a public space working to make their own dreams as reality, support that person dammit. There is no scarcity of kindness, in fact to share it, is to double it. Imagine if we all did that huh? (Vegan) food for thought huh?
Peace, love and some radical honesty on this Sunday morning.
Miss Cook xoxo
Postscript: if this post triggered something for you, if you're angry or indignant, GOOD. Perhaps this post is the mirror you need to get outside of your own work and reintegrate some of that juicy deliciousness into the community you claim to be part of. Give for no reason at all. This post is an opportunity for us all to examine whether or not we have drifted into being simply opportunist, rather than holders of wisdom and light. We are all going to stray, that is doubtless, but its what you do when it's called to your attention that counts. You have so much to give, shine that light, don't hoarde it, it's beautiful, and everyone needs some.