Dear self: fuck you.

Published on November 22, 2010 by      Print
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Just trying to be marginally less of an assholeBy Kris Nelson

Dear Self,

Maybe, instead of meditating with crystals and chanting mantras, you could just stop being an asshole.

Please don’t misunderstand. I don’t have anything against meditating with crystals (privately*) and chanting mantras, per se. That’s fine. And it’s the latter that’s important.

If I could sum up my lifetime of spiritual work and the canon of human wisdom and devotion, as I see it, it amounts to the following: don’t be an asshole.

I don’t mean to mock or make light of spiritual work and the canon of human wisdom.

Well, that’s not true, I do. Modern spirituality is also easy to mock. (Brilliant mockery, by the way, is what makes RecoveringYogi great.) Though, the real greatness of RecoveringYogi rests not in its mockingly flippant perspective that consistently spews foul language, but instead resides in its capacity to see, express and retain the value of the things it mocks. That’s post-post-modernism, bitches.

Sadly, in all the indulgence of self in the name of indulging the Self, something valuable is often lost, and that’s the refinement of self. It’s troubling to me that most people embedded in the culture and practice of self-awareness, self-improvement and self-empowerment are rarely actually aware, improved or empowered, and are often instead more self-righteous, contemptuous and critical  than the “common man.”  (Like me and this post, for instance.) The Walt Disney Company, for example, typically treats their employees better than most yoga studios, and they’re big assholes.

You see, my dear friend, I had an experience about five years ago.

One minute I was talking with Adyashanti, and the next minute I was like, “OMG, everything really is one.” And then I woke up the next day and I was like, “OMG, everything is oner.” And then the next day, “Double OMG, everything is onerer.” This went on for about six months, and the experience still rests in my heart and saturates my mind with ecstatic embrace.

From this aha moment forward, I taught yoga less; I taught spirituality more. I did the satsang thing. I blogged. I would talk with people one-on-one and they would have similar experiences… but the experiences would never sustain.

This was all neat. But, sadly, with this new awakening came a lot of awareness, humility and honesty. Suddenly, I knew. I knew what I had been hiding from all my life, and that was the fact that I was an asshole. And, sadly, in my supreme state of resplendent revelatory enlightenment, I knew that I was still an asshole and probably also a total douche bag. In my non-thinking state, a thought floated up through my mind: Dear Self, Fuck You.

I worked all my life to be enlightened, and the only thing I got was the realization that I was—and still am—an asshole.

Waking up doesn’t abolish the ego (which is, very simply, your conception of self—amd even more simply: who you think you are). It just puts it in perspective. With my newfound perspective, I realized I could be a better self. Not from the place of self-awareness, self-improvement or self-empowerment, but simply because that’s what my heart wanted.

Instead of writing a book about waking up or going on a speaking satsang tour, I decided that I would focus simply on being less of an asshole… and also get a real job. I would generally try to be less self-centered. I would help old ladies across the street. (This is hard in West Hollywood because there aren’t many old ladies except the elderly Russian women that smell like cabbage and hang out by Whole Foods.)

Back to my original point: If your yoga doing, crystal rubbing, and handstand pressing isn’t making you less of a self-centered dick disguised in chanting beads, consider doing something else. Otherwise, you too might wake up one day to realize that you’re just an asshole.


About Kris Nelson

Kris Nelson is founder and principal at Krama Consulting and Development, Inc. Kris leads workshops internationally on spirituality for the modern world. He lives in Los Angeles where he can be found teaching yoga in jeans to Snoop Dogg.

Find Kris on Twitter.

Filed under: Or How About This? and Tagged:


  1. niki says:

    someone just posted this link on FB and I am thrilled to have read this article. thanks!

  2. EcoYogini says:

    also- love this site Recovering Yogi.
    From- another Recovering Yogi :)

  3. tia says:

    kris, how the hell are you?

  4. tia says:

    best awakening story I ever heard :)

  5. Lily L. Diamond says:

    Thanks for one of the best yoga articles I’ve read in sometime. Hope you will expand your teaching to the other “studios” around town, where quite a few folks could benefit from your program.

    • Kris says:

      Thanks, Lily. I’ve retired for the most part, and am now focusing on my real job. I do however occasionally break retirement for a class, conference or workshop. If you don’t already, follow me on twitter for semi-random updates about stuff I do and critical, assholeish comments about people I share airplanes with and close friends.

  6. A true asshole says:

    Fuck. This is some great stuff!
    I love people.
    I am an asshole for this:

    New-age’y-lets get enlightened-lets balance 0ur- chakras-then do some blow while quoting a-quote we googled-then status update to sound incredibly centered kind of lifestyle is waring on me.
    What happened to us all being a little fucked up…in private? It seems I’m soured by people’s problems being highlighted as a way of becoming more Buddhist (really?), more enlightened (because they subscribe to neat “Be One” websites) and then being very, very vocal about the entire process.

    Yoga, the actual physical classes of – is a very profitable business. It doesn’t make one who goes a spiritual leader. It’s an exercise class (a fun one that makes you sweaty at that!).
    Reading Siddartha doesn’t make you enlightened (Even though when I read mine years back I thought “I’m totally on THE path…”)
    Googling quotes daily about gratitude, peace, being one with ____ (everything from people to nature to the air to the patchouli oil) and blasting them all over FB, Twitter, and email signatures won’t clear up your dark history of being an asshole. It just reminds us of how much of an asshole you still are.
    Spiritual smattering is on the rise.
    Therefore: assholes are on the rise.

    …as she goes back to her French Press for more coffee

    • A true asshole says:

      “Waring” as in “wearing”

      • Mad Miriam says:

        The trick is to drink the kool-aid without embodying the pretense that often accompanies the kool-aid. I believe we all want to be on the path and have the innate potential to follow the path, for some yoga just offer another tool for getting there.

        • Kris says:

          “The trick is to drink the kool-aid without embodying the pretense that often accompanies the kool-aid.” I like that.

          Drink the kool-aid without being the kool-aid man, or something.

    • Kris says:

      A True Asshole –

      Well done, you are indeed a true asshole. I suppose, in all fairness, if someone is going to do blow they should also spend time balancing their chakras and if they’re also going to post quotes it’s probably better to look them up then make them up, and I do understand what you’re saying – hence the post.

      I do appreciate your moniker. It’s the path to realness, I think.

  7. Gretta says:

    This is one of the best articles I’ve read on spiritual materialism. I too had an “awakening” that led to a real job and trying not to be an ass hole. Thanks for writing about this!

  8. Dear Self: Please Stop Being an Ass. | elephant journal says:

    [...] reading on asshole-ness and enlightenment by checking out Kris’s blog. Kris Nelson is founder and principal at Krama Consulting and Development, Inc. Kris leads [...]

  9. Kara-Leah says:

    Yep, yep & yep.

    Although I don’t think things are quite as bad down here in little ol’ New Zealand. For the most part, yoga’s still just seen as exercise and chanting is weird.

    Except in classes where it’s not, and in those classes, most people do seem to genuinely realise that how we relate to each other is what it’s all about.

    Of course, this is just my limited perspective and I could just be projecting.

    Mostly I just enjoyed reading your article, it’s refreshing and honest and down to earth and maybe even just a little bit smug all rolled into one… which I like.

    Cheers from the Land of the Long White Cloud,

    • Kris Nelson says:

      Thank you, Kara-Leah. Your yoga community sounds fantastic.

      Honest: perhaps. Down to earth: I do my best. Smug: certainly.

      Best wishes!

  10. Nat Allan says:

    Like Kara-Leah I’m in NZ and run a studio where we try to be down to earth and not too woo-woo about our yoga practise and ourselves. Laughter at oneself is a great way to burst any asshole bubble and I find that, as the instructor, I’m often bursting with laughter…if we take ourselves too seriously I think we’re missing the point and heading towards asshole land.

    Thanks for a great post and I look forward to sharing it with the Zing crew


    • Kris Nelson says:

      This is by far the best thing I’ve heard all day: “burst any asshole bubble” and I’ve heard some great shit today.

  11. irreverent yoga and laughing at oneself « Zing Sessions says:

    [...] The inspiration for this post: [...]

  12. Premratna says:

    Also in NZ – is it just my yoga community that aren’t into new age cystal type things or perfecting handstands and are more into karma yoga and doing whatever makes us better people?

    I suspect there must be the poser yoga types somewhere around – perhaps they’re clustered where there’s more population base? Maybe it’s just that we’re such a small country that hardly anyone can afford to be a full time yoga teacher and us teachers often have normal day jobs too…

  13. Woo Woo II: The Yogi Kool-Aid Reconsidered. | elephant journal says:

    [...] having told their old selves where to get off, people sense the need to replace them with something right away, lest the bad old selves come back [...]

  14. Marianne says:

    Dude, you’ve cracked the NZ market. You might want to break out some bubbles (but probably not asshole bubbles because we know Nat will come burst them). I’m also in NZ. One of our wee country’s favorite yogi sons included a link to your post in his newsletter to us all this morning, in case you were wondering where we all came from.

    I’m still relatively new to yoga, only been practicing for about five years consistently, but I had the same awakening in my first passion – humanitarian work. I spent a decade heading from one war-zone to the next and in the end finally realised that what mattered, most even in a war-zone, was to not be an ass-hole.


  15. Vince says:

    As I read this out loud to my wife, I knew what was coming. She has been telling me this for years and now that I have found Yoga and meditation, and am actually not as big an asshole, this is just so grounding.
    Like a great piece of artwork from your child, this is now prominently displayed on the ‘fridge…my new daily affirmation, Fuck You Indeed!

  16. rachat credit says:

    You’ll want to add a facebook button to your blog. I just bookmarked this article, although I had to complete it manually. Simply my $.02 :)

    - Robson

    • recoveringyogi says:

      We actually do have a Facebook “like” button on each of our articles, but these buttons are moody — they disappear and reappear at will. Can’t seem to get them to “stick.” Any Facebook developers out there know what’s the deal?

  17. Hannah says:

    Oh, what a refreshing change! I’ve linked to this article from my FB wall….I live in Ibiza where there are lots of assholes.

  18. Sally Kempton on Meditation, Studentship & The Future of Spirituality III | elephant journal says:

    [...] awareness.  However, most of the time I feel like an undeveloped immature douche bag (See: Dear Self: Fcuk You).  What do you make of [...]

  19. Conversations with Kris Nelson says:

    [...] I liked that one, and I love the Jesus/Yoga mat picture. But, I think my “Dear Self: Fuck You” article was some of my best writing in a long time. I read it again recently and I was like, [...]

  20. ben says:

    yeah. i dig. trying to avoid being an asshole is what truly drives one’s spiritual path. i once asked a renowned kirtan singer how he got to be so kind, thoughtful, generous, sweet, and all that. he said “i’ve met a lot of assholes…”

  21. John Christian says:

    LOL…Great! Someone should e-mail Charlie Hayes this. He would love it. BTW i love meditating, chanting, doing Kirtan, have met many, many saints, done long Sadhnas, give Deeksha, Reiki and on and on. I have had amazing experiences and great states…and im still an asshole LOL, and maybe as i have said moere than a few times being less of an asshole and less self centered is pretty enlightened. Especially if you are a gifted asshole like me :)

  22. Ben Sutherland says:

    Nice work, Kris. Best thing I’ve ever read on this. As a lifelong left-wing inner child, thanks for the much appreciated kick in the balls.

  23. Kris Nelson says:

    Thank you, Ben. I’ll kick you in the balls any time.

  24. I hate yoga. I love this. says:

    [...] what I’ve learned from many years of slow inward movement touching silence is that, like Kris Nelson, I’m an asshole. This makes hating yoga and studying it at the same time seem [...]

  25. Chrissy says:

    Yay yay and one more yay!
    Finally! I too am ok being less than perfect, in fact sometimes being a douche is a lesson (usually my lesson comes from being told by my husband or sister to knock off the douchyness)!thanks for a fun read!

  26. Niyana says:

    This is amazing! Thanks Kris! I think most of us are more a-hole ish than we care to admit… and sometimes enlightenment can be a b*&#$.

  27. Gaiety’s two-step « Life between the lines says:

    [...] I enjoyed this, hope you do as well: [...]

  28. MARON EDWARD. says:

    you mast to be now Icanot spik english fuck you and your like frind

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