I’ve been thinking about the problem of exchanging spiritual teachings or practices for money. You know what I’m talking about. The $5,000 yoga retreats, $250 chakra cleanses, $500 medium sessions, $1,000 light-healing appointments….
Don’t get me wrong; I understand that there are unavoidable expenses when one chooses to make a practice out of their healing ability. One needs to rent office space and pay for all associated utilities… pay for materials (like acupuncture needles and yoga mats)… pay their staff (bookkeeper, events organizer, etc.)…. It costs to be alive. I get that.
But that’s not my issue. My issue is when spiritual teachers claim that their gift is God-given, or bestowed by the Universe, or something. They’ve been anointed, they claim. They’ve been called! They’ve been chosen! And they always have a justification for why they charge a fee before “sharing” their “gifts.” I’m a human too! I have bills to pay! We all have to struggle in this world!
But I’m not buying it.
Because think about it.
If the Universe (or God, or Spirit, or whatever you prefer to call it) gives you some sort of spiritual gift…. and it’s your divine purpose to use that gift to help people…. then why would that same Universe/God/Spirit put you in a position where your gift was the only way you could make money?
The way I see it, if you accept the premise that the ability to practice your divinely-imparted purpose in life is contingent upon whether people pay you for it, then you must also accept that
- the Universe/God/Spirit only wants to help & heal people who can afford it,
- that God’s will is still subject to the whims of our human economy,
- that the Universe can give you this amazing ability but it can’t meet your financial needs, and
- that we can change people but we can’t change the economy. That we can have f#cking super-powers in a one-on-one context, but we are completely powerless beyond that.
I do not see how the above premises are compatible with the concept of a divinely-ordained spiritual talent. For that reason, I’ve drawn the following conclusions:
- If it is truly a divine gift, it should be able to circumvent ordinary circumstances and human-imposed limits
- If it is truly a divine gift, it should be available and accessible to everyone — especially people who can’t afford it!
- If it is truly a divine gift, you’d probably be called to practice it with disadvantaged populations (Isn’t it interesting how most spiritual “masters,” “teachers” and “healers” have a largely white, upper-class client base?)
- If it is truly a divine gift, the Universe should provide you with a way to heal others without harming yourself (by, say, going into debt or starving)
So if you’re unable to give your spiritual gift to others without receiving something in return, then (A) it’s not a gift, and (B) it’s not divine.
Why not say “I like doing this healing thing and I happen to be good at it, but I’m not in a position where I can do it without charging people”?
Go ahead, be a healer. Just stop calling yourself divine. I’m pretty sure God’s will isn’t subject to capitalism. If you want to help people, that’s great — but it’s not necessarily mystically ordained, and it doesn’t automatically make you a Lightworker or Starseed or Indigo Child or whatever. It’s okay to be an ordinary person who enjoys helping people but also has to pay bills.
Basically what I’m saying is: watch that ego trap, it’s a real doozy.
All of that said, when striving to make spiritual exchanges less egotistical, it’s not enough to simply remove money from the equation.
For example, my cult leader Arachne imposed a spiritual experience on me that literally saved my life. No money was exchanged. However, I became indebted to her in other ways. She wasn’t seeking money, but she was seeking power and control.
Friends have shared similar stories about being “spiritually blindsided,” “spiritually dominated” and otherwise deceived, even in contexts where money was never involved.
So what makes a spiritual gift, a gift?
Meaning: Under what circumstances is it actually beneficial for someone to share their spiritual gifts with you — whether that means sharing an intuitive dream they had about you, or using touch to heal your pain, or manipulating your energy field?
In my experiences with spiritual healers (and I’ve had plenty, both good and bad), I’ve come to find some key differences between the harmful ones versus the helpful ones. Hint: it has very little to do with how much they charge.
Harmful spiritual healers:
- brag about how enlightened or advanced they are
- expect/demand recognition for their talents
- will try to heal you without your permission. They do not bother to obtain your informed consent.
- show off their abilities. They use their gift to stroke their own ego.
- leverage their “intuition” to control others’ lives (for example: If they don’t like your new boyfriend, they’ll say “My intuition told me you should break up with him.”)
- don’t believe you are capable of helping yourself, and that you must completely surrender to them
- patronize you for attempting to use your own spiritual gifts. They feel a need to stay above you.
- assume that if it works for them, it must work for everyone
- lambast other spiritual healers. They refuse to consider that other people may be as gifted as they perceive themselves to be.
- are impatient about the process
- blame you (or anyone but themselves) when the healing doesn’t work
- still practice when they’re stressed, sick or angry — they don’t care how their bad mood will impact you as their patient
- discourage you from taking medications or using any sort of tool (like a cane or hearing aid).
Helpful spiritual healers
- are honest about who they are, their credentials and training, and their level of experience in their field
- do not boast or brag about their gift. In some cases, you may have to find out about them “by accident” because they believe in letting the universe orchestrate their affairs.
- will explain what they’re going to do and ask whether you’re ready and willing. They give you a chance to make an informed decision, and allow you to change your mind at any moment, even during the process.
- will only use their gifts on you if you ask first, if you give them permission, or if it’s extremely urgent (such as a matter of life or death)
- are happy to teach you their methods so that you can learn to heal yourself and become self-sufficient
- recognize that they must meet you where you are, and will never patronize you for not ‘being at their level’
- recognize that different things work for different people. Maybe reiki isn’t helpful to you. Let’s try something else, then!
- are comfortable referring you to other healers, books, resources, etc. They don’t feel the need to “claim” and be your singular source of information.
- are patient and understanding. They take the time to listen and fully understand your problem before proposing a solution, and they do not rush the process.
- are accountable to some sort of authority. They acknowledge their limits and apologize when they mess up.
- will be honest about their state of mind. If they are in a bad mood, they will let you know that they aren’t in the right headspace to work with you right now.
Sometimes a healer has qualities from both lists, so they have some maturing to do. Sometimes a person is well-intentioned but in the wrong field. Sometimes a bad healer can seem like they’re good for you. There’s a lot to consider when choosing a healer, just as there’s a lot to consider before choosing a doctor or school.
As for me personally, I find that the most healing experiences are the ones that happen synchronistically. In other words, it’s more often when I’m not looking for a healer (because I trust that everything is going to be okay, somehow, someway) that I cross paths with one. My good experiences with healers are always preceded by receptivity and consent, whereas the bad experiences are preceded by my own desperation, vulnerability and disempowerment.
But I don’t know. Maybe that’s just me. 😉