I’m way more spiritual than you are, like way more.

Published on July 13, 2011 by      Print
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By Jayson Gaddis

For a few years, I ran a men’s personal development blog where I basically coached men how to step up. After the first year, instead of gaining momentum as a great resource for men, it kinda turned into my personal story. I shared very openly my process, my meltdowns, and my insights about the spiritual path.

Recently, I had a guy comment on my blog in a way that was reminiscent of my own view a couple of years ago.

He wrote:

“Jayson I’m an infrequent visitor to your site. Not that the content is not worthwhile, just that I’ve been on a bit of a quest myself. What I’ve found is much more than peace. Much more than ‘emptiness’. It’s filling, completeness and deep understanding of how things work. It didn’t require a special tea, any type of penitence, or whatever ‘painful’ rites you’d like to perform.

It’s Kabbalah and it’s the most freeing and complete system to achieve understanding you’ll ever find. Look into it and save yourself and your family the pain and uncertainty of imitation spirituality. Peace and good luck.”

In other words, “My path is better than your path.”

Deeper translation? “I’m better than you.” Even deeper translation? “I feel inadequate and worthless and I need to prove to you that I’m really not.”

Ouch. I know this place in me intimately…

I’m a 3 on the enneagram, which means I get love and approval through achieving and performing. Growing up, I became a master at this approach. It became how I did anything in life, so I learned to win other’s approval of me through my accomplishments and “trying hard.”

So, it’s no surprise that when I jumped on the spiritual path and joined a Buddhist community, I applied the same achieving-using-will-power approach. I will get there faster than you. How quick can I become enlightened? How fast can I burn through these prostrations? These mantras? Don’t think I can do it? Watch me. How “in” can I get with the teacher and become one of his favorites? How can I get others to see me as a spiritual badass? I was on a vajrayana mission to achieve realization and get there before any of you.

I was simply continuing my childhood game of proving myself as a way to avoid feeling inadequate and worthless.  Now, I was using spirituality to fill the gaping hole in me.

I often had the thought like my blog commenter, “My path is better than your path.”  I was like, “People, how come you don’t see what I see? When are you posers going to get that my way is the fastest and BEST way?”

As a psychotherapist and life coach I would really want my clients to “get it” too. My overt message sounded sincere: “Hey, whatever works for you.” Yet my covert message, which I never shared, but many people felt anyway, was “Um, you are missing the boat, I know THE way, don’t you see it?”


Spiritual ego. Spiritual Narcissism.

So now, after having fallen apart over the past year in some kind of major spiritual crisis where all the maps were shredded in order to proceed, I see things differently. I see the trap in my way of thinking and how hurtful it can be.

Since leaving the Buddhist community, and choosing to drink ayahuasca on occasion, and venturing off into the unknown, I feel willing to listen, to trust, to see clearly the ways in which I play my spiritual games, the ways I stay separate, and keep my inadequacy wound at bay. I see how I too can use spirituality to fortify my ego.

Within a day of the above blog comment came another email from a friend in the old Buddhist community who owned up to thinking I was a “spiritual poser” over the years. He was right, and so was the timing of his email. I can hear him now.

My friend Michael (whom I have to credit for the title of this post, which he wants to make into a bumper sticker) and I joke back and forth about who’s more spiritual. “I don’t have to feel my feelings anymore bro; my issues are gone and I don’t exist anyway.”

I see the inadequacy trigger more clearly now and can laugh about its game. It isn’t running me anymore, but I have to stay sharp. If I slip, hopefully someone has the balls to call me out. Open invitation.

One thing remains true and has always been a consistent thread in myself and the clients I work with—hunger. I don’t ever want to make my hunger or another person’s hunger for the truth wrong.

Back to not knowing…

About Jayson Gaddis

Jayson Gaddis, MA, LPC, CGT, former overly serious buddhist meditator, is now a relationship psychotherapist devoted to helping people awaken through relationship and intimacy.  He’s working to embody a new paradigm of connection, deep relationship, and family. He’s also a blogger, and a part-time stay-at-home Dad getting schooled by his two kids. More here .

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  1. Matthew says:

    You are definitely no ‘poseur’! Such a good piece, and I am glad this is the first thing I read today. Thanks for sharing this, it’s great stuff.

  2. Lannette says:

    This is a phenomenon that I like to refer to as “more enlightened than thou”.

  3. linda says:

    personally I find that the most spiritually narcissistic are the so-called yogis who call others “unyogic” — “oh, that’s so unyogic of you” — when the status quo is questioned in the yoga world. bite me.

    one of my trainings was with Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock and I will always remember him saying that those who think people on a spiritual path can no longer get angry, sad, upset — in other words, human — those who believe that really have a kindergarten view of spirituality.

    Jack rocks.

    • Jayson says:

      Nice. I love Jack K. He’s the dude who realized after meditating for years in Thailand that when he came home it did nothing to address his relationship problems. Boom

  4. Charlotte says:

    I really like this post. Thanks for your honesty. I can relate to what you say. Early in my practice I had a lot of “high”—masquerading as “deep”—experiences in meditation, which led to a great deal of spiritual arrogance. I truly couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t doing what I was doing. Like you, I espoused the philosophy of “whatever works” when confronted with someone’s differing idea, but underneath it I was thinking, “why don’t you get it?”

    That was before I went through a humbling year of completely falling apart following a 30-day vipassana retreat. That is what it took for me to see the superficiality of my practice, and the arrogance I was inflicting on people around me because of it. It was the hardest time of my life, and it sounds cliche, but I am more grateful for that year than for any other experience in my life. It sounds as if you have had a similar experience.

    I did return to the mat and cushion, but now my practice is a simple, solitary daily practice. I don’t talk about it unless someone asks, and I truly get it now that my practice is just my practice. I don’t need to recruit anyone else into it to know that it is valid for me.

    • Jayson says:

      wow Charlotte, that’s super helpful. Glad to know I’m not alone here. Yes, my meditation is deeper now, but that’s because I gave myself room to find what worked instead of following the instruction. Thanks for your humility. Good to meet you here. :)

      • Charlotte says:

        Thanks, Jayson. It helps me too to know that there are others who feel this way, and your essay says this eloquently. The turning point in dismantling my spiritual arrogance came during my year of the “dark night,” when I found myself thinking that I wouldn’t wish this path on anyone. Thanks again.

  5. kari says:

    you know, i’ve often been surprised in spiritual venues when i find the teacher’s pet… the person whose opening a vein in order to get a ton of attention or the person whose giving the answers the facilitator has praised them for in the past.

    maybe it’s a turnoff because i was the teacher’s pet in grade school and kids rejected me for it.

    or maybe it’s a turnoff because it just seems so out of place.

    but honestly, i think it’s just an (ugly) facet of our culture and society today… this desire to have status by positioning ourselves next to the person who appears to have power. it seems like this is a big reason those governing us can’t come to a budget deal… they’re just trying to position themselves closest to the majority of voters.

    • Jayson says:

      Nice Karl. I like that. yup. For me it was desperately wanting to be seen, acknowledged and accepted, since that was such a gaping hole in me for so long. Fortunately, my teacher didn’t play into it a whole lot, at least with me.

  6. Mark Petruzzi says:

    Great message, delivered with the level of truth uniquely affecting coming from an E3. Even as an E7, I can relate to the part of “wanting my clients to get it.” At one point in my facilitating/coaching, I had to recognize the arrogance of that: who am I assess that someone ought to improve in any way, or that the world needs improving?

    I now believe that everything serves. I now relax into meeting people where they are, confident that when they are ready, they will ask a question, or my question will cause them to question, and we can discover the answer together. I also like the bit in your bio about “helping people awaken through relationship and intimacy.” Is there another way? ;) I ask the question while believing that everything is differentiated by relationship, that even objects are events, ant that unfolding intimacy and relationship with self and Self is a starting point for any kind of awakening.

  7. Mark Petruzzi says:

    One more thing, and I am not selling this approach in any way, it’s just my personal idea: I’m of the mind that everything is spiritual. Everything. One way or another, it all contributes to our (eventual) psycho-spiritual expansion from wherever we are starting.

    IF, this is so, how is it possible to achieve greater spirituality than someone else? LOL.

    Judging myself more spiritual because of my present beliefs, perceptions, and perspective, is like saying that I am more of a path-walker than someone walking behind me or in front of me, or who strays from the path from time to time, or who is walking a different trail than mine—even one that THEY may not believe is spiritual.

    • Jayson says:

      Right. At the same time, even tho I can get behind that view, we also have to be mindful of “everything being spiritual” is a real turn off for many. “Hey, sorry about that rape, or the loss of your child, but ya know, everything is spiritual.” Our view, however spiritual can be another barrier to raw connection with other. And, I like holding my “view” loosely with a ton of not -knowing.

      • Mark Petruzzi says:


        Good point. A big turn for ME (even) at one time in my life. To this day, I tell friends, family and clients: “I wouldn’t want to repeat the four car accidents I had in two years when I was in my twenties, and the unhappiness in my jobs at the time, but I could never trade the awareness and what I’ve learned in working with the experiences, as well as how they honed my listening to pick up whispers before they become shouts.”

        I’m glad that you called out that clarity, because I certainly did not want to present the idea as one that in any way trivializes traumatic or uncomfortable experience. For me the call to integrate all experience into my spiritual path is one of empowerment (there is no room for blame), and always the new question: “Now, where do I want to go from here?”

  8. Rhett Bise says:

    This article, and this entire website, calls to me in a big way. I’m so grateful to find this website and find so many others who are looking for betterment and fed up with the New Age BS of so much of the “Enlightenment Community.” (Though that whole “E3/E7″ thing is really friggin’ annoying ;-)

    • Jayson says:

      Rhett, thanks for the honesty. Yea, the enneagram can be yet another turn off. Yet, for me, it’s just another tool for self-understanding on the road to self-love. It helps me and my clients a great deal.

      Thanks for the support!

  9. “I’m Way More Spiritual Than You Are” « Hero Transformation Blog says:

  10. Tosh says:

    Hi Jayson, Your title made me laugh. I’m curious if as a Buddhist, you ever came across the Shambhala Prophecy? I think it is talking about you and me and so many others who are on this spiritual path in these days of quickening. It gives me hope and inspiration and to think it arose 1200 years ago blows my mind.

    • Jayson says:

      Tosh, ha, good to see you found me here and good to connect again! I feel your love and support, it always comes through.

      Yes, Shambhala Prophecy. My first teacher was a huge fan of it and Trungpa Rinpoche. I have forgotten some, so I can’t pretend I really know it, but I vaguely remember it being a bit idealistic and “out there.” Is that right? or is it a place where actual human beings meet each other in the raw space of reality unfettered by any blocks or ego?

  11. todd saed says:

    The subject is self does not get enough attention in mass culture, making the article particularly useful despite the provoking subject title. To venture forth a little I would submit the flip side to all the flopping around, some people are more enlightened at any given time than others, it is not a contest as the article ;points out, the others are potentially as enlightened, and since time does not exist either, the flip to the flip is they are already enlightened, or maybe just stuck their toe in the wall socket by accident. But specifically what is meant by enlightened, and how does it serve humanity, I would like to see the actual politics and history explained in detail and science, Tibetan yoga suggests it , the Evans Wenz translation, clearly putting on a monks robes or trappings, and going to India is just show, Rajneesh put on a good show, and had a certain carnival enlightenment, the article is too judgmental of Self, ego is OK for survival, and the whole business is personal, any group action is suspect. AN enlightened person would never admit it, or bring it up, and forgets it in selfless action , day to day positive samadhi, praying to be left alone

  12. Chris Cordry says:

    Hi Jayson, just wanted to let you know I am still following and appreciating your work…. it’s funny how we as guys, especially, get drawn so easily into that whole “fastest and best way to enlightenment” trip. I have been there (probably still am there) and I see a lot of other seeker-type guys doing the same thing. Don’t take this the wrong way, but I’ve really appreciated watching you fall apart (albeit from afar) over the last year or so. Thanks again for being so open and vulnerable in your writing. By the way, I am starting an M.A. in Counseling Psych. this fall. Best wishes to you and your family.

    • Jayson says:

      Thanks Chris, really good to stay in touch with you this way, even if it’s just a quick comment here and there. thanks for support and witnessing the shedding bro. means a lot.

  13. Jenifer says:

    Ahh, the beloved 3. How funny you types are.

    I am a 6 — such a ridiculous way of being! My husband is a 9 — the joys of our combination! (and by joys, i mean both “yay! joys!” and sarcasm: joys.).

    But, my son is an 8. and since I worship everything about my son in probably every ridiculous way, he is Perfect, and therefore so is his 8-ness. His girlfriend is a hard-core 2. According to all reports, this is a good combination. So, we parents have written up the marriage contract, of course. She is 3.5 yrs old. He’s nearly three. This should seriously work out in the long term. She’s also a red-head, his favorite. Unfortunately, both are disappointed that they won’t be going to kindy together, but there’s always ukulele practice.

    BTW, i’m just trying to show you how much more about the enneagram I know than anyone else who has posted so far!

    I rule. :D

    (I am obviously in a mood tonight, and I love your post!)

    • Jayson says:

      good one jenifer. ha ha. yup, you’re on it. now, let’s get a trophy for you! your family life sounds awesome. I have 2 and it’s a path in an of itself right?

      • Jenifer says:

        yes! so much so.

        ironically, as soon as I submitted my reply, I received an email from a fellow yogi asserting that i’d done Very Bad Things (which is, actually, what he had done. so confusing!), and that it was On My Conscience!

        I think coincidence is funny.

  14. Steven Morris says:

    Great post J. I so resonate with it. I lot of my silence and not sharing around my friends is because I don’t want to be caught playing that superiority game. I wish I could say I don’t any more but I still do.

  15. adan says:

    i gotta absorb this a lot more, much food for thought, maybe heart burn? ;-) thanks ;-)

  16. Submission 101 « Spiritual Satori says:

    [...] The post that was forwarded to me was brilliant, and it’s title was equally so:  I’m way more spiritual than you are, like way more.  I’m not going to give it to you, you’ll have to read for [...]

  17. The dodge of compassion | RecoveringYogi says:

    [...] fluff. My nose to the air, a semi-pasted on smile, I’m doing tonglen for the world, baby! I’m way more spiritual than you are, like way more! Hey, I don’t get angry. I just breathe in anger and send out love, brah. I’m just accepting of [...]

  18. Bob says:

    In response to your open invitation, Jayson:

    The comment section at your blog—as here—has always been unremittingly positive, fawning, praising you at each stage of your image-building. “Awesome message, bro!” There were occasional posts, though, that did call you out for invalidating the pain of others’ experience with your ‘positivity.’ You responded not just by blocking them from your website, but back-deleting all of their prior posts, essentially erasing any trace of their existence or history. That gesture of erasure was striking. Metaphorical, you might say. They did position themselves toward you with real, open hostility, but it seems very likely that they caught the scent of the shallow one-upsmanship and power games you’re now admitting to and saw them with a certain amount of clarity.

    How do you feel, now, about how you responded to these men back then?
    And how many negative comments did you block from publication altogether?

  19. Elliott Samuel says:

    You mean I’m not really onto something that is a better path than any yogi that’s ever lived!!? Damn!! I thought I had them all out-enlightened!

  20. Pop Culture and Spirituality - Heart and Soul Ministries says:

    [...] Think about that for a moment: Everyone is doing the best they can. We are all on this spiritual journey together. The way I express myself and the way that you express yourself may be completely different. But somehow we’ve become the McDonald’s of Spirituality. We’re only allowed to say certain things, eat certain things, wear certain things. We’ve decided what is spiritual and what is not, and we aren’t afraid to let others know how much more spiritual we are than them. [...]

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