Why Supernatural Experiences and Spiritual Highs are Harmful
Like many on the path, I started meditating to feel peaceful. It took many years, even decades, until I could regularly feel spiritual highs. Feelings of immense peace, feelings of oneness with the world, love for every living creature in the world. It’s hard to describe these feelings, as whatever you imagine is wrong. Let me repeat: However you imagine the spiritual experience to be, no matter how many book/articles you’ve read, you will be surprised when it happens.
(and this isn’t just me, Adyashanti said something similar in one of his videos)
I thought I had arrived.
Instead, these spiritual experiences ruined my life.
How I got stuck in the golden prison
The problem with these experiences is: They do not belong to you. By you here I mean the egoic self, the limited self, the part of us that believes that by sitting in meditation for 2 hours daily you will be enlightened.
These spiritual experiences are like a divine gift, Grace to use the Christian term. They are given as a divine offering of love to show you you are on the right path, that there is more to the world than you can see with the senses or analyse with the mind.
The problem most people face is: Like junkies, we want to repeat the experience.
Junkies– whether they are addicted to drugs or adrenaline or whatever, will keep repeating the extreme experience that gave them the high. Druggies will use bigger and bigger doses. Adrenaline junkies will take bigger and bigger risks. Until, one day, they go overboard and never return.
Spiritual high junkies are safer in that way– you can’t really die doing meditation (or can you? I’ve never heard of it). The worst that might happen is you might get a sore bum. Some people do suffer psychological issues, I’ll talk about them at some other point.
So the Spiritual Junkie wants to repeat his/her experience every time. But that isn’t how meditation works. You can’t feel the same feelings (which maybe good or bad) every time. That is the whole goal of meditation, to go beyond the fluctuations of the mind.
So when the experience doesn’t repeat, several junkies like me get angry. We rant and scream at God. “Why have you forsake me, my lord?” Or “What am I doing wrong, better change my Guru/practice! Until I can find the high again”.
I spent years in this struggle. I wrote about this in a relate article, Hurry up and get enlightened, dammit!
So instead of something to look forward too, meditation becomes a punishment. Because it shows you how you have failed.
I used to get angry at myself. “What, ain’t I getting the highs? Isn’t my does high enough? NEED TO MEDITATE MORE, NEED ENLIGHTENMENT, DAMMIT!”
It took me a long time to realise I had strayed from the path; it had become about the spiritual highs for the ego, and not something that made me a better person.
My solution is
Today, my answer is: The goal of spirituality is to live a balanced life, a life of equanimity. Equanimity is a great word, as shit will happen in the world. And good things will happen too. Our goal is to remain calm and centred in a turbulent world. This is the one thing that cannot be faked, the one thing the ego cannot try to hijack.
Read about more Traps on the Spiritual Path