If I asked you what a spiritual person is, I imagine I’d get some pretty interesting answers.
But the truth is that some of what we think of as spiritual has become very wrapped up in New Age propaganda and social media posturing.
Here’s how to sift the truly spiritual person from the growing crowd of charlatans who just want to feel special and superior to others.
How to recognize a spiritual person? 20 top signs
What is a spiritual person anyway?
Basically it is someone who wants answers to the non-physical questions of life and seeks to become a more authentic, whole and effective person.
It doesn’t necessarily mean working with chakras, meditating and knowing all sorts of Vedic chants, although it can!
Spiritual people come in all shapes and sizes. Some are religious, some are non-religious.
But they tend to share the following qualities:
1) They’re genuine to a fault
Spiritual people want to know all the layers of reality and find meaning.
This quest can’t be undertaken without radical honesty.
As such, a truly spiritual person is genuine to a fault. They don’t lie about anything important and they would rather have the ugly truth than a beautiful lie.
The truly spiritual person wants the truth, even if it’s uncomfortable or demands big changes.
Just look at Buddha himself, who put his own body and mind through hell on the path to try to find inner enlightenment and an end to suffering.
“The more you realize who you truly are underneath it all, and why you’re here in this world, the more humble you seem to become and the greater the need for sincerity.”
2) They relate deeply to nature
Nature is our earthly mother, and spiritual men and women relate to her deeply.
They can sit by a flowing brook for hours and never get bored, or watch a thunderstorm in awe with a tear in their eye.
The wildness, savagery and beauty of nature leave them speechless and in awe.
They may write poetry or music about it, or they may take photographs or paint it.
But nature always remains something of a wordless mystery to the spiritual person.
As the poet Rainier Maria Rilke wrote:
“If we surrendered to earth’s intelligence we could rise up rooted, like trees.”
3) They don’t seek cliques to belong to
Fake spiritual people love to have little cliques. They write all the correct hashtags on instagram and like to talk about “vibes” and the Law of Attraction.
If anyone disagrees they raise their eyebrows and tut-tut condescendingly.
The truth is it’s easy to get sucked into self-reinforcing, feel-good spiritual ideologies that actually leave us high and dry.
If you have, too, don’t beat yourself up…
Now let’s think about your spiritual journey:
Which practices are genuinely pushing you forward, and which are holding you back?
Unfortunately, many of us unknowingly fall into the trap of toxic spirituality.
As you can imagine, this can be extremely harmful. I learned this when I watched an incredible free video created by the shaman Rudá Iandé.
But why should you trust his advice? What makes him different from the rest of the gurus and experts out there?
Well, for one, Rudá isn’t interested in selling you his version of spirituality. All he aims to do is put you at the center of your world and back in control of your journey.
Rudá has included a few powerful yet simple exercises in the video that’ll help you reconnect with yourself and your spirituality. Again, exercises that put the focus on you.
So if you’re ready to bust the toxic spiritual myths you’ve bought for the truth and genuinely connect with your spiritual being, check out his incredible free video here.
4) They admit their own weaknesses
Spiritual people are interested in the truth, not satisfying lies.
Like I said, this requires radical honesty with oneself and with others. Part of that is owning up to where they fall short.
A spiritual guru who’s trying to mislead you will often adopt a holier-than-thou demeanor.
They are “pure” and ascended, you are garbage and sinful, negative trash.
The truly spiritual person doesn’t play these childish games.
They admit their own weaknesses, sometimes even publicly to loosen things up and make people realize that we are all in a struggle with ourselves.
Even those of us who have managed to overcome deep addictions, self-defeating patterns and more are not superior, and modesty is a key component of acknowledging that.
5) They are willing to be disliked
There are very wise and spiritual people out there who can’t take their own advice if their life depended on it.
They will sermonize at a conference about overcoming “ego” or not becoming hooked on positive feedback…
…Then they get one negative comment on social media and they become obsessed, angry and impatient.
The truly spiritual person is willing to be disliked. In fact, they even welcome it.
The spiritual master George Gurdjieff actually taught that conflict is often a way we grow in life and begin individuating more as a spiritual being.
Avoiding unnecessary fights is admirable.
But avoiding ever clashing with anyone over anything is often a way to “play it safe” and hide in anonymity.
Strictly speaking, it’s weak and kind of duplicitous to put being liked as the biggest priority in your life.
6) They don’t seek fulfillment in someone else
Wanting a partner and romantic love is completely healthy and normal.
But depending on it to make you happy and fulfill you is a toxic and codependent trait that many of us struggle with.
Spiritual people find a way to overcome this. They dig deep and overcome the tendency that many have to look for someone to “complete” them and other such tropes…
Still, what about love?
Well, a spiritual person tends to find love naturally by making friends and drawing closer to others who share his or her passions.
The spiritual person values and cherishes love, but never treats it as a life preserver.
7) They are willing to grow and learn
Spiritual people don’t exist in 2D or as some finished, static self.
They are always willing to grow, evolve, and change.
They may find a new spiritual path that speaks to them, or even begin to question old assumptions and teachers and move on from them.
“You are open to grasp the lessons and grow. The insight can come from a life situation, movie, a book, a blog, or conversation.”
The spiritual individual is intensely curious and always seeking.
They love the journey more than the destination.
Plus, every destination is just a new vantage point to see even more truths and insights.
8) They don’t force moral relativism on people
At the same time, truly spiritual people are not forceful moral relativists.
What I mean is that many spiritual paths result in people becoming ambivalent about terms like good and evil, right and wrong.
Yet a truly spiritual person will never force this relativism itself on others.
They will use common understandings of good and bad and work with them.
They will respect whatever way someone understands metaphysics without trying to demand that they “overcome” traditional ways of seeing the spiritual world.
The truly spiritual person knows that not everything new and “open” is necessarily valid or better than what came before it.
There were medieval monks who would put many modern gurus to shame in terms of the depth of their spiritual experiences.
9) They maintain a lifelong sense of wonder
I mentioned spiritual people and the way they are continually amazed and inspired by nature.
This goes in every sense.
The miracle of life itself will never “wear off” on a spiritual person.
The fact that we’re alive at all touches them on a deep level that continues to motivate and move them in all they do.
They never lose sight of this basic and incredible fact that we are somehow conscious and alive at this moment in time.
10) They laugh at outer labels
Outer labels don’t mean a lot to a truly spiritual person. They are willing to study thinkers from the far right, far left and everything in between.
They’ll talk with more interest to a ranting drug addict than to a corporate CEO with ten houses.
They don’t really care what outer label you attach to someone because they know that the truth often gets confused with what’s popular.
Furthermore, they know that people tend to be herd animals and congregate only around what others have already accepted and decided is normal or true.
The spiritual person isn’t a herd animal. Like Nietzsche’s Zarathustra, they forge their own trail at all costs.
11) They aren’t scared by ‘hate’ or anger
Fake people love to act offended or get easily scared off by hate and anger.
They talk about “visualizing” and “positive vibes” and all the rest of it, and claim that anger or “hate” will leave you poor and with cancer.
The truly spiritual person isn’t so naive.
Look at natural when a landslide smashes down or when high winds whiplash the trees and splinter them to the ground.
Nature can be angry and seemingly hateful. This is part of the human experience.
It may be something we can use, or transform. To reject it or simplify spiritual growth as being between “bad” and “good” can be very limiting.
Truly spiritual people leave it more up to individuals to walk their path instead of giving them training wheels and babying them.
12) They don’t feel superior to others
As I said earlier, spiritual people don’t get hung up on feeling superior to others.
They know that we’re all on a journey and that any appearance of being “ahead” or “behind” can be very deceiving.
They focus on their own footsteps and try to stay oriented around how we can all grow as a collective.
13) They have self-discipline
Spiritual people are disciplined: just look at the daily schedule of a Buddhist or Orthodox Christian monk if you want a reminder of that.
Self-discipline, of course, can be easier talked about than actually done.
But I have a suggestion in that regard.
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14) They’re curious about others’ experiences
Curiosity is a hallmark personality trait of a spiritual person.
The wide variety of life experiences fascinates them and they always love meeting and hearing from new folks.
In this regard, spiritual people tend to be very good listeners.
They know you can often learn more by listening than by talking.
And they act accordingly.
15) Their primary concern isn’t financial
Spiritual people are not necessarily ascetics who want to separate from the world and be above it.
They like a good drink and a delicious meal like any of us!
They simply don’t focus on money and prosperity all the time. It’s one part of a wider array of priorities that they have.
They know that being rich doesn’t make you happy (even though it doesn’t always hurt!)
16) Yet they also don’t demand that people stop caring about finances
In this sense, a truly spiritual person is understanding about how all of us are still physical beings.
We need to eat and somewhere that’s hopefully comfortable to sleep.
We crave a job and mission in this world, and the chance to improve our situation for ourselves and those we love.
The spiritual person encourages and understands these practical aspects of life.
17) They give actionable steps people can take
Spiritual people often go through deep experiences that can be hard to translate or break into simple language for others.
However the truly advanced person will do their best to present simple and actionable steps that people can take in their lives…
Instead of making their teachings sound extremely complicated or beyond anyone’s understanding with many secret layers.
18) They care about helping others but not recognition for it
Spiritual people care a lot about helping others, but not because of a reward or outer recognition.
An imam who I greatly respect once told me this after Friday prayers.
In addition to reading Qur’an and other basics, he said that the most important thing I could do in the coming week was try to help people in any way, even small ways.
He said it was best to do this without anyone even noticing and without getting any recognition at all for doing it.
The truly spiritual and religious person knows that earthly rewards are cheap and fleeting.
They seek to do good because it’s the right thing to do and it’s good for us.
19) They don’t pathologize suffering and pain
Many modern therapists, spiritual teachers and individuals pathologize suffering and pain.
Not only does this allow them to act superior and more “pure,” it also creates an escapist and childish mindset in which we must always respond to suffering gladly and with gratitude.
That’s bullshit and it’s inauthentic nonsense.
A big part of progressing spiritually is admitting that our difficult emotions and experiences are just as valid as our comfortable and pleasing emotions and experiences.
Repressing half of yourself won’t lead to your full ascension.
20) They understand the importance of the body
Truly spiritual people know the importance of the body and of getting out of your mind.
Many of us search for answers in the intellect or emotions which can only be found in the body.
We rack our brains and our hearts for solutions, when we should be moving our legs and getting our lungs full of oxygen.
Far too much of modern life has become abstract.
The spiritual person seeks to help bring the human experience down to earth once again.
Spirituality for everyone
The trend of spirituality into elitism and little cool clubs is really unfortunate.
The truth is that spirituality should be for everyone.
Caring about the non-material parts of life and the search for truth and wholeness is a universal human quest.
It should not be reserved to those who wear rare crystals in pouches around their necks or have all the cool tattoos and hemp clothing.
Let’s help encourage truly spiritual people to keep walking their path and speaking their truth.
Together we can embrace a more authentic future.
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