“Spiritual toxicity” is a poisonous characteristic of a spiritual environment, sometimes known as you. It’s characterized by negativity, manipulative thinking, and in some cases subversion of a spiritual norm. The most common source of spiritual toxicity is media.
You can diagnose the spiritual state of any community by its media. The more extreme, the unhealthier the community. That might sound a bit convenient, in the middle of the fake news environment, but it’s a common factor historically.
The Romans, not famous for their sensitivity, but famous for their murderous politics, managed a level of toxicity which created the hyper-expansive Republic, but reversed to create the decaying ghoul of the Roman Empire.
The Chinese version in ancient history was visible in the First Emperor’s reign. Almost all books were burned by the Legalists, to restrict knowledge. Restriction of knowledge ultimately destroyed the Chin. The end of the Chin in turn later started the period of the Warring States.
These are the practical applications of spiritual toxicity to human communities. This condition is an ongoing threat to humanity. It can cause insanity, inverted logic, and basically retard human development. It’s endemic, as a pathology, and it’s hard to fight if you don’t know how.
The other problem is “spiritual ecology”. The spirit, which for the purposes of this article means the mentality’s driver, exists in a real sense, reacting to influences and contaminants from all directions. It can exist consciously, in attraction or repulsion.
Rather unfortunately, the traditional reaction to spiritual toxicity is morality. Morality is cumbersome, not quick to apply itself, and positively lethargic in new innovations. It’s like sending an elephant to catch a flea. In a spiritual ecology, it’s a floating mass, not an active participant. The spirit acts quickly, and in multiple directions. A moral monoculture, as supplied by most religions, is hardly able to register, let alone stop, spiritual activity. You might as well send a rock to catch a rabbit.
The spiritual ecology is as real as the physical. It affects your personal reality, the one that matters most, directly. A toxic idea may be quite enough to provoke the same Fight or Flight reaction as a maniac with a machine gun.
Even Homo Sapiens, (a species “blessed” with a level of self-incomprehension on an almost unbelievable scale), can be affected immediately by certain types of spiritual toxicity. The Great Mystery Which is You doesn’t mind getting the hell out of spiritually toxic environments, whether it understands them or not.
That reactive response, however, also brings with it some risks. The equally blessed human ability to run straight in to more trouble is reasonably well known. Reactive responses to spiritual toxicity can be irrational, and more to the point, useless.
A better option is systematic fightback. Ugly, nasty events have a unique character which is pretty consistent and easy to spot. Emphasis on toxic elements in ideas, like anti-Semitism, etc. are usually promoted by a fairly clear type of mentality. Toxicity, like any good pathogen, requires vectors and transmission. Stop either, (or preferably both) and you stop the toxicity in its tracks.
One of the reasons modern spiritual toxicity is so easily spread is that the medium for the vectors is communications. Forget airborne pathogens; this is a lot more efficient in spreading contamination of any kind. This is Digital Plague, live and well and coming to a nutcase near you.
…Or you. Some types of toxicity have sweeteners; sex, money, ego, power… Put it this way; absolute power does more than corrupt. It also takes over the person with the power, who becomes a mere tool of the power.
There’s a huge irony here, too, chuckling quietly to itself. Morality, that choke chain on human honesty, often offends to the point where the immoral is a welcome relief. Spiritual toxicity does well among the spiritually oppressed. The more oppressive the morality, the better it does, in fact.
Humans are natural hedonists, naturally avoid danger, and naturally prefer comfort and safety. (In my view, anything else is basically dishonest.) Morality feeds on these things, in the same way as spiritual toxicity, if not for the same reasons, at least notionally.
The problem, obviously, is how people react to the supposedly non-toxic moral spiritual ecology. This is the Supermarket of the Soul, the bland shiny face of spiritual consumerism. The various washing machines of the soul, like church, dogma, raging lunatics insulting their own belief system with every breath, and other marvels, abound.
Like junk food, junk morality isn’t good for you, either. It makes you more susceptible to spiritual toxicity, and like junk food, not healthy enough to fight it. The tides of spiritual toxicity, whether absurd assertions or perverse thinking, work on a numbers basis. If one form of spiritual suicide doesn’t get you, the others will.
…So what’s so bad about spiritual toxicity?
One thing, and one thing only. It disintegrates your identity. If you add a contaminant to that organism, it can’t function normally. For the spirit, that’s a type of chronic disease. It affects your thinking, your relationships, and even your relationship with yourself.
Been on speaking terms with yourself lately? Getting along OK with whoever/whatever is you? If so, your levels of spiritual toxicity are low.
If you’re spending a lot of time convincing yourself you’re right about things, that’s a high level. You may be at actual war with yourself on some or many issues.
Symptoms of toxicity include:
- Self-avoidance; dodging you own opinions, for example
- Frequent conflict with friends
- Hypocrisy on any level, for any reason
- A hideous, all-embracing doubt which cripples your decision-making
Interestingly, anxiety, a paralysing dread for no materially identifiable cause, may be a symptom of onset. Ever had that feeling that you loathe something, and can’t define it? That it’s a danger, or hidden threat?
This is spiritual Fight or Flight, incarnate. It’s a survival instinct at the spiritual level. The human spirit, under-educated and largely ignored by spiritual monocultures which enforce conformity, but not spiritual life, (what a surprise) isn’t well armed to manage the threats.
I don’t want to write this idea in to any blind alleys or extended exercises in missing the point. The point is that spiritual toxicity is an active, working poison. Remember that, and act according to your instincts, which have got you through the last few million years.