It is easy to assume that people have the same motive for doing things that you have. Psychologists have called this false consensus bias. Essentially, we tend to expect and project that people have the same beliefs, thoughts, motives, desires, values, aversions and preferences that we do, when sometimes they do not. When motives differ, it can create a lot of conflict and misunderstanding. One of these differences in motives can be seen clearly in the spiritual field.
To generalize, you can divide people who are into spirituality and self-help (which have now become comingled) into two camps. The first is people who practice spirituality and self-help in order to experience comfort. The second is people who practice spirituality and self-help in order to become aware and awaken. You have to really look deeply to see the difference because there are many gaslighting teachers and practices and tools in the spiritual/self-help field. There are many things that claim to be about truth and awareness and awakening that are only about instant pain relief and comfort. This motive split within the field is something that even people in the actual business of spirituality and self-help don’t recognize and really need to. People tend to project that other people who are interested in spirituality and self-help belong to the same camp as they do. This is part of what creates so much frustration amongst people in the field.
People who fit into the first camp, want to feel good. They see the knowledge and practices available in this field as a way to feel good. People who fit into the second camp, want to know what is true. They imagine that knowing the truth will enable them to make changes that will lead to feeling better. But they want to know the truth even if what they come to find out makes them feel really, really bad. It’s the classic matrix blue pill or red pill scenario.
Some people imagine themselves to be in the middle, with both motives. They are the ones who tend to suffer the most because they are caught in between interests that often compete. Not all truth is painful. But it is where truth is painful that this divide really appears. A person who is interested in spiritual practice in order to find comfort is unconcerned with whether those methods that create comfort reflect the truth or whether they are serving as a coping mechanism. A person who is caught in the middle wants to feel good, but is always worried about whether they are simply going into denial or avoidance or whether something that feels good that they are told is true or not.
While there are some teachers and practices that straddle the fence, most teachers tend to fit into either camp. Most practices tend to fit into either camp. Most spiritual events tend to fit into either camp. Indeed entire paths can fit into either camp.
I have deep understanding of the desire to feel comfort and to feel good. No one wants to be in pain and both spiritual practice and self-help techniques definitely offer some powerful tools for relief and coping. But I do wish to make people aware of these motives so that they can distinguish between the path of awareness and the path of simply feeling good. Only then can you truly be in a place of choice.
There are scenarios in which pain relief is beneficial. The path of awareness recognizes this. There are also scenarios where pain relief is detrimental. Comfort and feel-good based spiritual practice blows the door wide open for these detrimental aspects of pain relief. For example, if the barometer of whether something is true is whether it feels good, we will end up in the land of ignorance. For example, it is true that sex trafficking of children is happening. That does not feel good. If we follow our emotions like a compass, we must see that emotions are dictated by thoughts, most of which are programmed into you at a young age and have no real bearing on reality. So are we following our authentic compass or a compass that has been programmed by our family and culture? We may be in a situation where we really can do something to change the scenario we are in. But because of perceived helplessness, we may use a comforting spiritual practice to be able to cope with staying in the situation we should be changing or getting out of. We may use a comforting feeling concept to wash over the reality of a situation and by doing so, completely misinterpret what is actually happening. We may use feel good truths that belong to one dimension to negate uncomfortable truths that belong to other dimensions. We may defend truths that feel good to us if we have wounding around our truth being excluded from someone else’s reality. When our truth has not been acknowledged, especially in childhood, we fight for our own reality against other people’s. By fending for our own truth, we cope with the pain by becoming exactly like what hurt us… A person trapped in a perceptual bubble.
I could make a list five miles long about the risks involved with belonging to the “comfort and feel good” camp of spirituality. To go deeper into this, you can watch my video titled: Novocain Spirituality. What I want you to be aware of is that the desire for pain relief and the desire for healing, often takes you in drastically opposite directions. Many of the tools that are taught by the “comfort and feel better” camp are valuable, they can also lead to incredible ignorance and destruction if used in the wrong ways.
In general, people don’t want to see the truth when they feel they can’t change something or don’t want to change something. Your only axis of power and true choice is to be in reality and to see the truth. But all this being said, a person has to want to see the truth. You can’t make someone want to see the truth. And so, one of the most important things you can do is to really decide what your motive is for practicing spirituality and self-help. If you honestly want comfort and to feel good and relief, really own it. And be aware that what you are going for is to feel good, not to know the truth. You are engaging in these practices so as to ‘get out of the dirt’. If you want awareness, be aware that there may be things that feel amazing and there may be things that feel so bad, you doubt your ability to swallow them. Part of awareness is to go directly into the dirt. If you choose the path of comfort, you should run away from me as fast as your legs can carry you. And return only if you are ready.
All this being said, if you look at people who are associated with the spirituality and self-help field through this awareness of the two camps, a lot more will begin to make sense to you.
The question to ask yourself now is: In what camp do I belong? Do I choose the blue pill or the red pill?