There is no Spiritual Hierarchy

There is no spiritual hierarchy. In a world of seekers, teachers, gurus, masters, monks, yogis, and on and on, it can be easy to fall into the mentality of believing there is someone “above” you, or with greater wisdom. This is false. Similarly, you are never “above” someone else, even if you are blessed with insights others don’t seem to see yet. Wisdom exists in equal measure in all of us, though many unconsciously lock this wealth of knowledge away under many delusions. There is no ladder on which you are “beneath” your teacher, and if you have a teacher worth a damn, he or she will know this. He or she will know that “they” as a person with a name and a title are really nothing at all.

The paradox—and there always is one—is that in the play of consciousness, some individuals surely have been hit with realizations that others haven’t experienced. These are the people we like to have as teachers. As far as I can tell, this kind of divine lightning strike occurs for unknown reasons, and is not about them being “chosen” or “special” in God’s eyes. In such a way, we can regard some teachers as being “further” along the path while also trying to bearing in mind that there really is no path, no teacher, and no student.

When the dam of illusion breaks and great wisdom comes pouring forth, it is expressed uniquely through different beings—or sometimes not at all. Not all awakened beings teach with words. However, they do teach, because deep energetic silence is one of the most powerful states to dwell in. The still presence of an awakened being teaches through sitting alone. I have written before that some of the greatest teachers teach by silence: Unless they feel moved, they don’t compromise the supreme stillness of God in favor of words, which are often interpreted solely on a mental level.

Often, the word we use to describe words (as roundabout as that statement may sound) is “pointers.” Words are “tools” to point to Truth. There are many tools available to teachers that direct people back to their own wisdom. With this blog I do my best to use words as tools to point to Truth. Sometimes I use them to write stories and/or metaphors, which are also tools. Sometimes I ask challenging questions. Sometimes I go quiet or look at people with stoic inquisitiveness when they’re all in their minds rather than continue to have a fruitless conversation.

All of these things are tools, things to utilize given the specific situation. It is worth noting that we really are all very different in the ways we walk the path. One person may love the energy of a teacher, another may be totally repelled by it. Neither’s response is right or wrong, and neither person is above another in the situation.

If you have been told it takes x amount of years to “achieve” some special wisdom, or ten thousand lifetimes to “get enlightened,” this is simply untrue. Similarly, if you believe you possess something special that only you can “transmit” to another person, that’s your ego talking. Usually these kinds of beliefs are handed down (or circulated in a new sect of spirituality) and accepted by each person’s ego-identity. It makes us feel good to imagine we are doing something new and amazing. But no matter how deep or novel they seem, these are just additional conditioned beliefs your ego will need to let go of one day.

The essence of spirituality is that it actually breaks down all hierarchies: In our culture, a great number of false hierarchies exist around race, gender, sexual expression, economic status, cultural history, etc. They are only sustained by our belief in them, which is to say they are ultimately illusory. What we are seeking on the path is the removal of all illusions. If humans were to  be stripped of our delusive beliefs about ourselves and one another at once, these hierarchies would crumble immediately.

Sometimes people ask me pointedly: “What makes you so sure you know?” They are speaking to my ego-identity when they ask, and the truth is that “that person” has no idea. In the end, she does not really exist. She is a passing cloud in a timeless sky. I really don’t think I know much of anything at all.

What it  feels like is that I was once a lion under a spell that made me believe I was an ant. I’d been told I was an ant, tried to internalize that I was an ant, and then went about trying to behave like an ant. It felt awkward and bad, because I wanted to roll around in the sun and hunt instead of building an anthill. No part of me was suited to the work of an ant. One day I went to the watering hole and saw my true reflection—actually saw it for the first time: “A-ha! I’m not the thing I think I am—and neither is anyone else!”

For some reason, the spell started to wear off off, and now I want other people to also remember the unlimited awesomeness that will express itself uniquely, according to their own nature.

This is not a metaphor about achieving more in the world, or being “bigger” in the sense of being at the top of some pyramid. In reality, ants and lions are both beautiful expressions of the one indivisible whole, each with their own role within the animal kingdom. It is meant to highlight that the primary delusion we live under is that we are something totally different than what we really are. The thing we really are is much larger than the hypnosis we’ve been under for so long. In fact, it is limitless.

The change that occurs upon realization cannot be overstated. It flips everything around, and at first it can feel like living in Bizarro World. Things are backwards, and you don’t know how to behave anymore. And while the ego usually tries to cling to an “awakened ego”—the one that likes to show itself off as being spiritually aware, start doing psychic readings and past-life regressions—this, too, will melt away in time. I’ve had my ego rebuild and fall apart so many times since my initial “aha” moment. It is always looking for a new set of permanent clothing to have on: “Okay, I’m this now. Now I’m an energy healer. Now I’m a writer. Now I read tarot.”

This isn’t to say you won’t be an energy healer or writer or whatever when the ego has been seen through, but that you will always know these roles are like masks to take on and put off when it is helpful. You will fearlessly be yourself.

We remember that these illusory divisions we create amongst ourselves are just that: Completely illusory. You and the person you’re doing a psychic reading for are both just fleeting forms on the screen of consciousness, so it’s okay to lighten up. We can honor those beings who are established in the Self to such a degree that their energy helps us to clarify our own insights, but we do not exist in perpetual servitude to them (unless one chooses the path of service to a guru, which is also fine when chosen consciously).

We are all of one unending fabric, each as unique expressions of this fabric. This is important to bear in mind as we choose a spiritual community, and even better, to watch the feelings/thoughts that keep us trapped in these ideas of being “more important” or “less important” than others. I also think it helps us to keep a skeptical eye on certain massively powerful religions that are very much about “the spiritual hierarchy.” Even with a minor spiritual insight, we can say with near-certainty that Jesus would not have been down with a spiritual hierarchy.

There’s quite a difference between being a spiritually mature leader and being a figure of false authority who just happens to wear certain robes and have some verses out of a book memorized. Many people are of the latter group. “Removing” power from these institutions really just comes down to stepping into and dwelling within your own power, which is far greater than we tend to believe.

– lish

Location: San Antonio, TX