Profiles of the Spiritual Dilettante

By George A. Boyd © 2017

The spiritual dilettante, also known as the lookie loo seeker, is an all too common pattern in aspirant spiritual circles. Some of the markers of these spiritual dabblers include:

  1. They have a fascination with Gurus and spiritual Masters, and they go to see them, or watch their videos on the Internet
  2. They read the books of these spiritual teachers, they get excited, and they want to be initiated.
  3. They get initiated, practice for two to three days, and then get distracted and stop practicing.
  4. They may repeat steps 1 to 3 for several spiritual traditions.
  5. They are not clear exactly why they are desperately seeking a spiritual Master, or what they are actually seeking in their multiple attempts at initiation.
  6. They may be driven unconsciously to enact this spiritual seeking pattern to escape deep shame, a sense of personal failure, or memories of abuse or trauma. They want to get out of waking awareness and stay out, so these painful memories won’t surface.
  7. They never complete the paths they start; they keep looking for the right Path or the true Guru.

As a result of following this pattern, spiritual dilettantes:

  • Demonstrate a familiarity with a variety of Paths, without a deep appreciation of their rich heritage and lack a thorough knowledge of any of them.
  • Have a track record of incompletion—they start many Paths, but they don’t finish any of them.
  • Have a strong proclivity to engage in spiritual gossip; they look for flaws, character weakness, or sins of their spiritual Master, but avoid personal introspection to weed out their own character weaknesses.
  • With their increasing failure to make any spiritual progress on any of these Paths, they may become critical, skeptical, and mistrustful of any spiritual Paths or any spiritual teacher. They may characterize all spiritual teachers as frauds, charlatans, or cult leaders, without even investigating the merits or deficiencies of that teacher or that Path, based on their own prior experience of frustration and failure with meditation.
  • May undergo a period of excitement when they anticipate getting initiated, and they tell their friends about their discovery. After getting initiated, however, they find flaws and deficiencies, make excuses for not practicing, and then abandon the Path and its practices.
  • May show multiple spiritual imbalances and symptoms of dissociation, detachment, and difficulty to make personal decisions, if they have practiced the techniques of the path long enough to produce inner transformation, before leaving for greener pastures.
  • May show patterns of anomie, nihilism, or despair, if they have multiple frustrations and failures in this area; some of them abandon their faith and become atheists.

We encourage those of you who might have been inadvertently following this pattern to consider the fowling questions:

  • What do you find fascinating about the spiritual teachers and paths to which you have been attracted?
  • Do you want to become like these teachers? Why?
  • What would it actually take for you to achieve what they have attained? How much meditation would you have to do to reach the stage they attained? What might you have to sacrifice or give up to reach this stage?
  • What would happen if you sustained your meditation and made progress upon this Path? How might that change your behavior? How might it alter your perception of your Self and the world? How might it affect your character?
  • What’s at the bottom of you patterns of seeking, getting initiated, and then, doing little or nothing with the Path into which you have been initiated?
  • What is it that you are actually seeking?
  • Might you be trying to escape or avoid something through these patterns? What would happen if you confronted these issues, and stopped running away from them, but concretely worked to resolve them?
  • What spiritual Path could you embrace that you would be willing to complete? What would happen if you completed this Path?

If you have been playing the frustrating and unsatisfying role of a spiritual dilettante, we encourage you to make a change. No worthwhile goal is achieved without commitment and follow-through in your personal life; the same is true for the spiritual life. We invite you to get to the bottom of these patterns and clarify what it is you truly want, and then select a Path that fulfills those needs.

For those of you are uncertain about what a particular meditation will do or what will be the outcome of following a particular spiritual Path, we offer a specialized spiritual counseling session called the Spiritual Teacher/Path Compatibility Reading that will identify what will be the likely scenario if you embark on that Path. If you are not clear about the potential consequence of using a particular meditation technique, we additionally offer a Meditation Technique Analysis Reading. We can also support you with spiritual coaching to help you identify a resonant Path and teaching that helps you fulfill your spiritual destiny.