By George A. Boyd © 2016
Sometimes aspirants go off the deep end in their spiritual practices, and may mistake their increasing grandiosity and delusion for genuine spiritual experience. Warning signs that the siren voices of grandiosity and delusion are creeping into your meditation and prayer life include:
- Visions of spiritual beings, who tell you how great you are
- Internal voices that praise you and tell you how exalted you are, or you are “telepathically” receiving messages from others that they regard you as a God-like being, highly evolved, and masterful
- Feelings that you are greatly superior to others, and that others are mere ant-like beings of no significance
- Feeling that because you are god-like and perfect, you are entitled to receive anything you desire whenever you desire it, and others must serve you and worship you, ensuring your every need is met—and no one must ever criticize you or disagree with you
- Having the conviction that God considers you special and has appointed you a special messenger, a prophet, a scribe, or a Divine Incarnation—yet you do not demonstrate these abilities or manifest the spiritual Grace and Power this exalted station on the Path would bestow, were it genuinely achieved
- Changing your name to reflect your God-like status and regarding your human life as an illusion
- Recounting stories of how great you are, how others respect and love you highly, and how others consider you to be a God-like being
These delusional and grandiose messages can subtly insinuate themselves into your meditations: if you start to believe them, you start to move down the rabbit hole into increasing madness.
What are some of the factors that can trigger this narcissistic progression into grandiosity?
Developmental factors can play a role. For example, when individuals grow up in a family where they are pampered and favored children, and having each of their needs and wishes met by loving parents, may be conditioned to expect this same treatment from others; similar patterns may develop in children who grow up in families of wealth and privilege, where their every desire was fulfilled, and they had unlimited wealth at their disposal to cater to their every want.
Belief in paranoid doctrines may also instill these grandiose and delusional beliefs. Involvement in religious cults that inculcate beliefs like:
- People who are members of this group are chosen ones, and are special
- They are on a messianic mission to save the world before the world ends (and the world is ending soon!)
- The world is out to persecute members of their sect
- Dark and demonic forces rule the world, and only members of this sect will be saved from destruction
- Secretly, you are God and you can create anything you wish, and it will instantly manifest
- It is your duty to convert others to the knowledge of this saving truth before the end comes, and you must dedicate all of your time, energy, money, and strength to see that every last person is saved
- The leader of this group is a Prophet, Savior, or Divine Incarnation
Generating spiritual imbalances through meditation practices that develop a spiritual essence not aligned with the cutting edge of spirituality—to the degree that it becomes the core identification for them. When these spiritual experiences are not integrated and anchored in human life, spiritual practices of this type can generate debilitating Kundalini syndromes, fanatical beliefs and behavior, and in some individuals, marked grandiosity and delusion.
Jumping ahead into identification with spiritual essences that are beyond their current state of spiritual development may lead some into fanaticism, delusion and grandiosity. Some may come to identify with the Christ Child nucleus of identity of the First Planetary Initiation; some come to know themselves as the Mighty I AM Presence of the Second Planetary Initiation. Others claim they are one with the cosmic consciousness nucleus of identity in the First Cosmic Initiation. Others come to believe that a seed atom on one of the Supracosmic Paths is who they truly are. Yet others recognize themselves as the spirit on one of the Transcendental Paths.
Like those who generate spiritual imbalances, those who jump ahead also run the risk of generating delusional beliefs and grandiosity; since these states of awareness are not integrated into the Soul and personality, and they may not be understood or appreciated in a balanced and coherent way.
In traditions that practice a transformational technique, it is common—after lifting individuals’ attention into union with the spiritual essence that their tradition cultivates and leading them to identify with it—to then initiate them into practices that transform this essence, thereby introducing spiritual imbalances.
Countering the Sirens
Some things you can do to test whether your beliefs are correct and sound include the following:
- Does your purported exalted status match your actual abilities? For example, if you believe you are a Divine Incarnation, can you manifest miraculous powers and immerse others in the tides of Infinite Love and Grace? If you can’t do this, you aren’t an Incarnation.
- Is your spirituality grounded in your personal life and subsumed within your Soul’s consciousness? If you aren’t operating within the confines of the innate synthesis of your Soul’s vision and the intuitive understanding that confirms who you really are, you may be identified with an essence that is outside your cutting edge of spirituality. Build a bridge of understanding to those higher essences. Visit them. Contemplate their vistas on the world. But don’t identify with them and always return to the grounded state of awareness.
- To maintain your identification with this essence, do you have to always keep yourself in an altered state of awareness? See if you are still identified with this essence when you bring your attention all the way back to its grounded state.
- When you are identified with this state, do you feel your ego is evil or alien, or your personality is an illusion? This is a symptom of derealization and depersonalization. Your ego and personality are your Soul’s representatives in the world, and are the instruments through which your Soul expresses and shares its knowledge, abilities, and love with others. If these seem alien or evil to you, there is something wrong with your perspective, and you are on the precipice of madness. You will need to learn to trust being a person again, and feel it is all right to function within the limited confines of your human nature.
- Do you have a pressure to make others see and believe as you do? Examine where this inner imperative arises. Did an impassioned preacher tell you to do this? Did you learn it from a leader of a religious sect? Did a guru give you a commandment (Agya) to go and bring others to the knowledge of the Supreme Truth? Try backing off and just listen to others. Learn their aspirations, their dreams, what they believe and know to be true. Maybe they are not ready; maybe it’s not appropriate for them to adopt your beliefs and perspective. Try accepting them and respecting them as they are.
- In maintaining this perspective and state of identification, are you able to fully function as a person? Can you carry out the activities of daily life? Can you accommodate yourself to a social setting, and hold normal conversations with others? Can you learn and gain new skills? Can you start and successfully manage an enterprise? Can you set goals and achieve them? Can you evaluate, reflect, and assess ideas independently, and not merely repeat doctrines and scriptures you have learned without thinking? If you can’t do these things, there is something wrong with your state of identification—you have become split off, disidentified, and dissociated from your personality. Try time-sharing: spend part of the time in a state of meditation where you can commune with this spiritual essence, part of the time functioning as a human being in your real life—this will help you restore your lost balance.
- Is the only one telling you how great you are, you? Discount for one moment any visions, voices, or telepathic communications you might be receiving. What do you truly know about greatness? What are its characteristics? Who have you known that was truly great? What made them great? Do you have those same attributes and qualities? Do you meet the standards in your profession, your scientific discipline, your artistic genre, or your spiritual tradition that verify you have attained genuine greatness? Are you an Einstein? A Beethoven? A God-empowered Sat Guru? If you haven’t met these standards, you aren’t as great as your visions, voices, and telepathic reassurances tell you that you are. Have a little humility. Acknowledge what you have achieved, accept that you are not there yet, and begin working to improve yourself so you can eventually attain this greatness you have seen in others that you emulate.
It is but a short step from the grandiosity and delusion engendered through adopting paranoid and distorted spiritual beliefs and meditation practices that promote imbalance and dissociation to a complete descent into madness—where you are unable to feel your emotions, your thoughts are distorted and irrational, you have delusions and hallucinations, and you cannot function and lead any semblance of a normal life—these are the signs that you have deteriorated into full-blown psychosis.
If you have gotten yourself into this predicament of grandiose and delusional beliefs, it is all right to ask for help and get yourself back into touch with your humanness again. It is OK to be human. While communing with your spiritual nature, you may recognize you are a god-like being—but if you embrace that god-likeness and abandon your humanity, you may drive yourself insane.