The identity known as a "seeker" alone can point directly to one of the several mistakes made by someone; who otherwise, is pursuing a spiritual journey. Somewhere along the lines individuals have turned a spiritual journey into an action with a specific outcome. But a genuine seeker of spirituality knows that it is not to be confused with any sort of materialism.
In other words: spiritual enlightenment is not a goal to be achieved, but a continual progression to pursue.
Perhaps these pitfalls are a prerequisite component of a spiritual journey, the proverbial "hell" one must go beyond before they get to paradise. Then again, if we acknowledge the following common confusions, we will all be better able to avoid the delusion that is spiritual materialism (yes, it's an oxymoron).
Here are five of the most common pitfalls of those who are hell-bent on seeking spirituality ...
1. You feel like there is one destination.
To think there is somewhere to get to before you are complete and whole is a mindset that cascades into other assumptions, judgments and negative self-perceptions. Many people seek to end their suffering, to stop depression and to finally live happily. Others want money, a better job or a more attractive body. Both journeys share something in common: the conflict of duality, of needing "this" or "that" in order to feel fulfilled.
Instead, our fulfillment pre-exists our circumstances. It is how we approach our circumstances that dictates our fulfillment. So instead try to have no destination. There is no time other than this present moment: there is no past we can engage with, nor a graspable future.
Enlightenment comes when one braves the darkness of their inner-depths: there is nowhere to seek outside of yourself. Start looking inward by asking yourself, Where in myself am I already complete?
2. You tightly grip the notion of "your struggle."
Our egos create struggle. It is part of the dialectical nature of the mind. This stems from the first pitfall: believing in some grand destination at the end of the tunnel, we of course make the journey as challenging possible. According to our egoic minds, the more important we make something and the harder it is to get, the more special and rewarding it will be. This struggle is completely unnecessary and is a delusion of the mind.
Instead, literally tell yourself not to struggle. Accept every part of your journey with gratitude and openness. At first you may lose some excitement, but this is only pseudo-excitement. Remember that ego and genuine gratitude simply can't exist together. By seeing the gifts of the present moment you will awaken to your higher sense of self that knows that there is no future goal to struggle for; only love to be rejoiced in now.
3. You're following someone else's plan.
There is a difference between receiving guidance and blindly following another's map. Many people look to spiritual figures to follow in their footsteps. However, this can often lead to what I call "spiritual poser syndrome."
These are the individuals who read the scripture, go to the temples, do all the doing of the spiritually enlightened and while on the outside they put on good show, they have no inner experience. Buddha didn't become Buddha by sitting under a tree; he had an inner transformation, which lead him to his silent retreat. However, many people are setting out to the Himalayas, wearing crystals and saying Namaste like it's going out of style in hopes that this will bring about an inner shift.
Do not get caught up in the appearance of someone else's journey. Follow your own callings, embark upon the uncharted territories of your own soul and look for synchronicity in your life as omens along the way.
4. You are always, always aiming for self-improvement.
Making the mistake of constantly aiming to improve yourself is a surefire way to avoid the real intimacy of self-exploration. There is a difference between natural growth and progression. Progression should always come from a place of adventure, fun and challenge, not to make one more complete. At the deepest sense you are already complete. Life is simply a means of expansion. A spiritual journey is more about self-acceptance than self-improvement. If you are trying to improve yourself it usually goes without saying that there must be something wrong with you.
Do not aim to improve yourself. Instead, aim to accept yourself. If you can fully embrace your totality then "self-improvement" vanishes and your personal growth becomes as much of a natural progression as a child's turning from age three to four. In other words, look to happily achieve and avoid at all costs the trap of achieving happiness.
5. You're waiting on a miracle.
Awaiting your next break through can become an indicative high that leaves you a victim the present. This usually manifests out of a classic case of paralysis. You are in other words hoping God or some higher power than you to do al the work. As you wait around life's treasures are passing you by.
Do not wait for the perfect moment to embrace life, as the saying goes "the time is now". Live now; break the separation between you and God by responding to your present moment abilities. You may be surprised to see that once you do, you always have all you need. What is on the other side of a miracle anyways? More inspiration, a better idea, more health? Don't wait for these things to fall from the heavens. Ask yourself, What can I do now? to solve your problems ... in the present moment.