Many years ago I saw a card in a little store – painted on it was Jesus Christ in his robe, in our modern day holding a cell phone, asking a person on the street “Will you follow me?” He had only eight followers on social media.

Initially I laughed when I saw the card, and then I realized – my oh my, how true that actually was. How many times do we judge something’s validity and preciousness of information based on likes and popularity? How much wisdom are we missing? How do we learn and discern, and only listen to those shown on media or our so-called influencers and celebrities? And how much are we led astray when we can’t see the real light, because our true eyes are wide shut?

I will not name names in this article because my intention is only to give some food for thought, for you to consider towards your own personal awareness and discernment. Don’t forget – that discernment is perhaps the most powerful spiritual gift you can have, and written in depth about in The Spiritual Gift of Discerment. Many people pray for psychic and intuitive abilities, and healing abilities, but the truth is – without discernment, i.e. wisdom and information applied appropriately and relevantly, nothing else is possible in life, no matter how grand even our psychic abilities are.

It’s no secret that I don’t align myself to a lot in the new-age movement and I’ve written prevously on the Misconceptions in Spirituality outlining a few spiritual concepts and how their incomplete or misunderstood nature can lead to perpetuating toxic behaviours, stagnation of soul growth, and even towards some dangerous paths. While many new-age teachers and social media stars turned spiritual gurus, are indeed coming from good intentions, what they are “preaching” is more hypnotic and actually leading to some potentially bad outcomes for those who can’t discern, and for those who are just in a more vulnerable time in their life, or current state of being.

And before we continue – what is good and what is bad?

In pure esotericism, “good is all that is in its place, and bad is all that is out of its place.” For example, water is good in its place in the ocean, in our cup to drink, or in the flower pots to nourish the soil, but if it’s out of its place, water can be bad – it can take out our fire and we’d freeze, it’d overwater the flower pots, or it can flood a house. Therefore, any virtue, no matter how holy it might be, is good only if it is in its place and harmful if it’s out of place.

Some people wonder why mystical texts and the Bible, for example, are full of parables which rarely make sense. This is because wisdom protects itself. Esoteric wisdom is often times hidden. And unless you have the eyes and heart to see and understand something – you will not, even if you stare straight at it. But this is also why, your own wisdom and awareness will unfold through the years at its own pace. This is also why you don’t just have a psychic blab out a whole bunch of information to you, and why at different times in your life, you will receive yet another piece of the puzzle. Because – if you receive before you are able to handle it, it will be to your detriment and hurt your psyche.

There can also be danger with misunderstood concepts, statements and incomplete truths, because it can lead to disempowerment, unhealthy behaviours, illusions, deflection from self, and limitation to growth and maturity . In fact, all incomplete truth and/or knowledge can be dangerous.

When anything is shared without context or deeper understanding, problems can arise. In the old days, certain spiritual concepts were shared only with the more advanced students who were initiated – because the student had to be ready to perceive and receive it. This is why often times, highly esoteric and spiritual truths are written in riddles or hidden between seemingly ordinary words in texts or mainstream articles, which will be seen and perceived only by those who are on that level of consciousness.

But what happens nowadays?

A lot of spiritual teachings taught are intended, whether consciously or unconsciously, to give people a sense of comfort to those who are looking to wake up – because it keeps people asleep. Simplicity and comfort stop people from progressing and from desiring to look deep within and change – because change requires effort, dedication and self-accountability. The inner path is a hard path. One needs to deal with their own limitations, wounds and trauma and admit some really hard truths sometimes. The thing is that people are addicted to comfort and simplicity and so, naturally, they will always want to come back to it, come back to that comfort and simplicity, no matter what it looks like. It’s like you are sitting in a room with the lights off – you don’t want anyone to turn them on, because this would be uncomfortable, because you want to feel validated that your lights off state of being is best.

Superficial, shallow, fake, pseudo-spirituality has grown, and the internet is full of trendy, recycled memes about topics not fully understood and misinterpreted. People scroll on their phones and take their philosophical or spiritual knowledge from memes – which is fine as a beginning to spark a curiosity, but then they don’t delve into it further to find out, research adn discern more. “Love and light, vibrations, intentions, frequencies, consciousness, transcending, ascending” etc. are just words with no meaning and no real substance to them. You have to be mindful of what and who you listen to – and how your own psyche takes in information for your own comfort and simplicity to avoid further seeking and self-development.

A lot of these new-age teachings are I feel infiltrated by energy that looks at the holes in people’s psyches, at their weaknesses, and then manipulates them through their ego, gratification and fears.

As a mindset, we can look at two streams: the white magician and the black magician mindset. The black magician mindset is essentially hypnotic, with little truths spread here and there, while simultaneously teaching with inverted intentions – i.e. they use real concepts and truth but twisting them in very subtle ways. This black magician narrative appeals to the mass mind –

because it offers something for nothing.

It’s not that they are evil people or bad teachers – remember that we can’t simply separate people like that and apply absolutism thought to things as it will only restrict our own perceptions – but the problem is that they actually believe that what they teach is true and good. They are disconnected and blinded from the true light, and filled with ego gratification and emotions of grandeur (as in “look at me, I understand higher truths and can point your weaknesses to you, and unveil the wrongs in the establishment). The so-called black pathway is filled with vices, pleasures and given many mystical wisdoms. This is how it takes you in. You are given wisdoms – but what you don’t realize is that these wisdoms actually serve them more than you truly.

And again, because I need to emphasize this – it’s not that these teachings are wrong, it is that they are incomplete, not understood, taken out of context, and there is inversion to them that ultimately keeps people asleep.

What you need to do is have faith in your own divinity and connection to God, or whatever you want to call that higher consciousness. God light is not bright – it is quiet, it is invisible.

You need to overcome your own fears because if you don’t, you will move towards the pseudo-spirituality for comfort, soothing and false sense of security and simplicity. True knowledge is richly nuanced, it is complex – and it requires increadible discipline, years of learning and dedication, a lot of effort and self-accountability. Absolutism and fixed ideas and concepts sink us in the water like stones. Spirituality is not an easy fix. And it doesn’t save you from hurt, pain and the contrasts of life. You will continue to experience these, as this is life for all of us – but opening your perceptions, which is what spirituality truly means, will allow you to navigate more smoothly with more awareness throught life.

One pseudo teaching is: “All you have to do is love yourself and then all will be okay.” And if you – well, then you will attract bad partners. That’s quite shallow. There will always be contrasts like I already mentioned. And unfortunately, in many people’s psyches and conditioned, limited understandings the concept of self-love takes on a narcissistic pathway without them even realizing it. If you can’t accept other people, you are not loving yourself. If you can’t allow for perspecives challenging your own version of truth and you are being triggered at all differing from yours, lashing out, you are not loving yourself. What happens is that people say they love themselves, but they only love selected parts of themselves, because they afraid or hesitant to see, accept, understand and acknowledge all of their aspects. This is seen through the way they perceive others and avoid all that doesn’t align to their own version of truth and narrative. It’s because they don’t love the divinity and higher truth of them, which is at its essence all encompassion, that they start loving and pleasuring the ego, soothing their biases, judgments and becoming blind slaves to their fears and self-imposed prisons. They find excuses for their unhealthy behaviours and patterns, and even justify harm and disrespect towards other people through their inability to understand the concepts. It becomes a toxic cycle.

And on the other extreme, people are led to believe that unless they are “fully healed” or “fixed”, or “ready”, or “perfect”, they will not be able to be in a relationship, thereby closing off and keeping love away. They become almost stuck in a never-ending self-development cycle and eventually become more fearful or avoidant of relationships and intimacy. The way to learn love is through other people, and no, you don’t have to be fully healed, perfect, fully ready to be in love and to love. Be self-aware, yes, but don’t push love and intimacy away under the disguise of self-love.

What the black magician path does is that it makes people obsessed with fixed ideas – possessed by ideologies rather than gaining knowledge throught real experience and true seeking.

And the more people do this, the more triggered they become when something isn’t aligned to that fixed idea anymore. Essentially, what people are being promised is an amazing life if they just follow the steps and the fixed concepts and ideologies: “If you love yourself, you will transcend, and all will be great in your life, you will manifest everything, you will never feel pain again.”

You have to learn to discern – discern ignorance, laziness and desire for comfort from real light. Real light requires seeking, dedication, effort, and gaining knowledge, wisdom and awareness from your inner walking and seeking, and through practice and experience of life. It takes years. It’s not overnight. It’s not sparkling and full of aha moments. It’s not a one time walk into the dense forest. Be mindful of things and people promising you everything for very little to nothing on your part. It’s like when mediums will tell you that when you die you shouldn’t walk towards the bright light – you have to sit and wait for a loved one to come and get you, because the bright light is leading you towards the “dark path”.

Again, God is invisible – just like real healing is invisible.

Stories are immensely powerful and they can either build you up or tear you do. When people tell you “there are no victims”, “let go of the story”, “all power is in your hands” – run from that. They are most probably still trapped in learned concepts, fixed ideologies, and ego gratification, rather than real wisdom. Of course, there are victims. Of course, not everything is in our hands. And no – you can’t just let go of a story in your mind or life.

It is a vampiric form of healing, which many healers feed off of: the feeling of satisfaction and ecstasy that through releasing someone else’s pain, it validates their own healing powers and abilities. This essentially also keeps them from their self-work and healing. If they hurry the process in you, then they don’t need to hold space for your pain, and their pain or uncomfortable emotions that might be triggered through other people’s pains.

You need to be allowed time to heal – and every person has their own timing.

All ceremonies are in the heart.

The strongest healers have the lightest touch – like God, they are almost invisible. You may not see them coming, you may not see their work on you and your energy, the experiences with them may seem like nothing happened or that it was “boring” because it’s slow and not full of excitement, like watching a tree growing. And then they leave. You may not even see or realize they leave. But years later, the wisdom and love they installed in you, deep into your subconscious, lights up your awareness – and you remember: “This is what they meant and said, I learned that from them.” In some way, in some shape and form, they imprinted something of true light within your stream of consciousness and it has healed and guided you in a way you didn’t even realize.

They leave no trace. Like a butterfly, they softly touch, with light steps lightly, yet just enough for you to hold it within you when you need its wisdom – and be nourished by it along the way in almost invisible ways.

They don’t need to push you into anything because you have your own wisdom that will be awakening you into the remembering. You have your own right, your own choice, your own power. They don’t need to tell you anything, because they know it is you who are awakening and remembering – because they trust you, as you will trust yourself, because they see you, as you will, inevitably and in time, see yourself in your true light.

True healers, like real God light, often leave no trace, are almost invisible to the human eyes – but they always leave a mark on your soul, like a tattoo, saying “I was here.” Often, their purpose is to awaken you into your own remembering, to hold you, lift you and raise you, with mercy, love and deep compassion.

But a lot of healers nowadays are not like that. They want to get the job done fast. They move fast through healing sessions and say stuff like “deal with your resentment, anger issues, abandonment issues” etc. We have to be able to feel into, empathize and allow the time needed for other people to heal. We can’t be afraid to feel someone’s pain and unique need for the slower steps. The tool for healing is our empathy – so we can’t just go around saying “don’t be a victim, there are no victims”. We are all victims on some level.

As healers, through our deep empathy and attuned sensitivity, we can see that beneath resentment is anger, beneath anger is sadness and grief for too long, beneath that is injustice in some shape or form, beneath that is powerlessness, and beneath that – is a very valid and real experience of neglect, harm and/abuse. And if we can’t take the time and empathy to help someone to be aware of and release that seed of neglect or harm done onto them, we can’t really heal the resentment, anger, abandonment, bitterness etc. We can’t dismiss pain by saying “release it, get over it, move on, focus on positive love and light energy, your thoughts create your reality, blah blah blah.”

And this is how a lot of these new-age teachings are leading people astray, masking over, and dismissing the real issues underneath to make themselves feel better and validate their own healing abilities or intuitive or spiritual powers and knowledge. It’s false and it’s shallow. They point out people’s pains with memorized memes from social media, or incomplete psychological reading, and saying one-liners categorizing and limiting people even more. Or another thing is – they approach people and without any self-discpline and responsibility and respect for boundaries , start telling them what’s wrong, what their issues are etc. There needs to be integrity, and holding oneself to high spiritual ethics – you don’t give advice without being asked to, you don’t “read” for people without being asked to.

It’s become a massive self-glorification fest of people validating their egos through “knowing and telling you stuff”.

True powerful healers know silence, listening and intention of words.

And sometimes you may need to search long and remote to find them, and recognize them. Not all that sparkles is gold.

“When you no longer feel within yourself any pride, any unnecessary ambition, thirst for glory, envy, greed, love for splendour and self-love, but instead feel all the more living, true love for the fellowman and for God and a true, heart-warming joy when in an emergency you have shared all that you possess with your poor, suffering brothers and sisters; indeed, when you feel great sorrow in your heart for not being able to help some poor, when God means everything to you, but the whole earth with all its treasures nothing, then your soul has already united with the Spirit of God within, has attained to perfect eternal life, is wise and able, wherever necessary, to perform miracles by merely willing it.”  The Great Gospel of John

Most people go into spirituality as an escape from life or quick fix to problems – but that will only lead to spiritual bypassing. A spiritual path is a way for you to learn to love more deeply the people around you, to be more present, to pour more soul and heart into all that you do, and to be more attuned to the beautiful radiance that exists in all life. A true awakening will allow you be more alive and more vibrant in a way that life itself becomes a prayer – a way in which everything is an act of love, of loving, a devotion to purpose and to the divine. You fall in love with life itself. And through your hands and lips, you shape and form love in all you do. 

That’s not an easy path – for it requires deep vulnerability and openness. You will have to be open with yourself in ways that may feel uncomfortable and sometimes even heart-breaking. But that’s the level of intimacy that the divine engages with us. And eventually, it guides us to learn how to love others with the same depth that it loves us. The truth is that most people are afraid to love – because love is powerful and shines bright on all inner parts of us, in all hidden corners of our psyche. And we have to face us, and we will be humbled – as we see all the ways in which we might have abandoned ourselves, negated ourselves or been against ourselves before. 

The real teaching of self-love is that essentially it is about recognizing and discerning and self-truth. There is a radical acceptance involved in it that often goes beyond our desire for comfort and simplicity. Self observe how and where your mind desires to over-simplify something or someone, or categorize something or someone. Where are you limiting yourself about furthering self knowledge because of how popular someone is or how sparkling something is presented or how trendy something is? Do you do yoga just to post about it? Do you only recycle spiritual knowledge for more likes – do you actually realize what you are saying? How is your experience related to your knowledge and how you life your life – do you walk your truth? How do you discern? I’ve seen plenty of people on big stages preach about love and humanity and the environment, and then turn to the person beside them treating them with disrespect and looking down at them.

Don’t be lazy with yourself and your learning. Don’t just scroll down memes feeding attention deficits and lowering attention spans.

Question things. Research. Challenge yourself, your perspectives, and your own narratives or versions of truths. Don’t believe it all – don’t believe me neither. Don’t let the fear and search-for-security-at-any-cost limit you and turn your world into some sort of soul cage.

And again – it’s not that the teachings are wrong or that the people are bad or intentionally leading peole astray – it’s just that the spirit through which higher wisdom is given needs to be discerned and self observed. For example, if someone says to you that you are an infinite being – yes, that’s true. But – there are then two ways to move forward from that. One, you feel happy, comfortable, soothed and a prideful sense of beingness takes you in – so you run away with it risking to stop your soul growth further. Or two, you use that beauty of wisdom allowing it into a deepening, to deepen within you a doorway, and then use your discernment and intelligence to find out – what does that really mean?

Develop your cognitive edge. Find the uncomfortable edge like a yoga pose – where you are uncomfortable enough to stretch further than before and yet you are not giving yourself to it, not completely lost in it, not hitting the ground, not abandoning yourself. Once you develop this cognitive edge and you are also standing strong in your core – you will be better at discerning, sensing truths right away and moving forward in your highest free thinking potential.

Deep in Wonderland, Alice meets many characters. Some are neurotic and even delusional, while others hold wisdoms and truths despite them looking seemingly non-sensical, strange and weird. Alice descends into this strange world to awaken her higher abilities and integrate a higher consciousness, so that she is able to traverse the realities, accessing and understanding deeper truths within and without her. But the thing about descend is this: It requires caution, strong self and core of spiritual self, and discernment, because not everyone who takes that road comes back to the surface enlightened. Towards the end of the story, as Alice had walked a path of the hidden corners of her own psyche integrating aspects of herself with her inner light, she finally realizes the truth within her own heart and is aligned to the core of her values – and to her own true power. She stands against the “off with the head” mass mentality and following of the herd, divine and conquer strategies, and decides to come back to the surface of reality, also taking responsibility of self.

It’s a choice she makes.

It’s a choice we all make.

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Cover photography by Thomas Gunillasson.