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Spiritual Competition

By:  Ma Ananda Felicia

So often in life we seem to trade one level of judgment, ego and competition for another. I see this manifest through religion, politics, philosophy and spiritual paths and practices.  Here is an example … Right now, today in my life I have chosen to teach Yoga, and practice meditation and prayer as a primary path to health and wellness of body, mind and spirit.  Along the path of life I meet many different people who study different disciplines and arts.  My Yoga tends to fall into a certain line of teaching through a certain way of practicing postures.  Lets just call it Hatha Yoga.  I meet another teacher who falls into the line of Ashtanga Yoga which differs from my practice in that it divides the yoga practice into groups (kind of like beginning, intermediate and advanced) and has a lot of jumps and hops. The next thing you know, the Ashtanga teacher begins to try and tell me why they chose Ashtanga which then leads into them telling themselves (and possibly me) that they believe their way is better. Both may then fall into defending, comparing and analyzing on why their our own way is/should be/must be better, or ‘right’ or superior.

Another example.  A Yoga teacher meets a teacher of Kung Fu.  The teachers share some conversation about their life paths, and the next thing you know they are squared off. Gone is the circle … and what starts out as ‘sharing’ quickly becomes a debate and even can go into an argument of why they have chosen the art or practice they have chosen.  One may try and convert the other person to believe it is time to drop their way and move “up” into the other person’s  world. Even worse, sometimes one teacher will try to invalidate another teacher by ‘correcting them’ and even telling them their path or teaching or practice is wrong.  That is not mutual respect, that is arguing and spiritual bullying.

This is no different than a Baptist trying to tell a Catholic they are wrong and need to become a Baptist.  This is no different than a Democrat demoralizing an Independent or a Republican.  This is no different than saying a great Ashtanga Guru, or Marital Arts Master of Kung Fu is better than a great Sivananda Guru or a Jiu Jitsu Master.

Spiritual snobs snub religion, but act the same way about their so-called spirituality.

Why does this happen?  ………….  because of ego, insecurity, pride, and competition.

What results? ………… duality, negative vibes and disharmony.

There are a few rare teachers in the world (dead and some living) that have said “Do not ask questions!”  J Krishnamurti is one of them, and was also famous for saying:

“The ability to observe without evaluating or judging is the highest form of intelligence.”

So many so-called ‘seekers’ go and ask teachers/gurus/masters questions.  Problems arise when an answer is given because invariably someone, somewhere is going to argue and fight for their own belief/thoughts. Therefore, in our spiritual lives, just like the experience of meditation is meant to be practiced alone with God, so too are our belief systems meant to be respected as private.

The earth is large, with many terrains.  Scenic routes vary.  Some may choose to take a seeming detour or a longer path off a main road in order to see what they discover along their journey.  There is no absolute perfect place to arrive on this planet because the mountains, the sea, the plains, the desert, and farmland all have their own appeal and with lots to be learned by visiting each place.  Why tell a person who enjoys living in the mountains that they would be happier if they lived, perhaps like you, by the ocean?  Why try to get a violinist to start playing piano and drop their beloved violin? Why tell someone who isn’t married that they’d be happier married, like you might be?

The music of life … so many different instruments to play, but all is music.

Sometimes two people meet from very different spiritual practices.  Who is to say that both couldn’t benefit from some sharing with one another, yet at the same time respecting each other’s path?  Why try to ‘win’ that person over to our ways or points of view? And the deeper question is …. why must I be ‘right’?  It is when we fully explore the truth of that question that we may blessedly shed yet more ego.

Teachers, gurus and masters are still spiritual beings living in a physical body, and therefore have something new to keep learning  and master, too.  And this keeps happening in this lifetime up to and including into the process of death.  Just because a master teacher is 85, 95 or even 105 doesn’t mean they are beyond learning and correction.  And about Samadhi, or enlightenment or liberation — these so called “attainment places …

Even as we advance, this doesn’t mean we have arrived.  

This doesn’t mean we get to a point where we no longer need to learn anything.  This doesn’t mean we are no longer wrong about something.  If we are alive and breathing within a physical body in this mystery school, then we are still students in the classroom of life.

So why compete and try to convince others (and maybe ourselves?) that the spiritual practice we are exploring today is “the right one, ‘the Way’, the better path?”

We could just say “Namaste,” honoring God’s light shining through one another and make it as simple as that.



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