When did we lose our minds?

I think it was somewhere between Heaven and Hell—or perhaps it was at that cult meeting I attended in Las Vegas, I forget.

The road to Hell is indeed paved with good intentions and the speed limit has been removed by wannabes who spout utter nonsense disguised as spiritual truths. If bitch slapping wasn’t a crime, I would be busy bruising my palms all day long because I hear some of the most ridiculous statements coming out of “light beings” mouths. I could probably write a master’s thesis about how spirituality has left the building or how the universe is calling and it keeps getting a wrong number.

 I have earned the right to bitch about this.

I gave almost all of my money to a spiritual “guru” who turned out to be nothing more than a fraud and a con artist running a cult. It is my fervent hope that someone who has been asked to donate large sums of money to someone dripping in charisma will read this article and think better of it. I know I sure as hell wished someone would have grabbed me by the shorthairs and told me that following my nose and desire for betterment would have turned out to be such a gargantuan life lesson. There are a great many spiritual leaders who want our money and promise us a magic wand, a special talent, divine guidance or communication with dead people. Wake up people!!! You can do that all by yourself without these charlatans and without losing all of your money.

Let me give you the rundown of my 20/20-is-hindsight Common Sense Playbook:

Common sense lesson number 1: Do not give large sums of money to someone who leads a spiritual group, movement or cult. If they are divinely inspired or gifted, they will charge a reasonable fee for sharing their wisdom or nothing at all. We do not have to wear certain clothes, be certified in any special modality, speak a special vocabulary or be a part of a group. Never, never, never give money to someone who is not a bonafide charity. If the person asking for money has no oversight system of checks and balances from a non-partisan party, you might as well throw that money right off of a cliff. There is no guarantee that your money will be used to improve anyone’s life—other than the individual who is asking for it. If you feel the need to give money away, I can give you my bank account number later.

Common sense lesson number 2: Under no circumstances should we spout our platitudes to people who are in emotional and physical pain. “Everything happens for a reason” is the most insensitive thing anyone can tell someone in pain. If you want to help, all you have to say is “I am here for you” and then listen. Quit trying to heal someone with vocabulary. It only makes the pain worse. People who dump what they learned in an NLP (Neurolinguistics Programing) class on people should be shut in a dark room for three days. People who are hurting need an ear, not a lecture on “reframing” their language to ease their pain. Common sense lesson number 2 includes a proviso that we do not have to listen to other people’s victim story, but that does not give us the right to unilaterally judge people as being a victim. That may be the case, but we don’t have the right to tell them that. True listening from the heart is only possible without our ego being the listener.

Common sense lesson number 3: We can’t heal someone that doesn’t want to be healed. Plain and simple. People have their problems, you have yours. Unless we are a professional who has been paid to heal someone, and they’ve asked for our opinion, we should keep our mouths shut. There are so many people running around these days who take a class in something and then gratuitously spread their version of healing on the world like a thick layer of peanut butter. There is nothing more dangerous than a person who doesn’t know what they are doing by regurgitating their spiritual nonsense on someone who is in pain. If someone has not paid you to teach them something, don’t start with your spiritual psychoanalysis. “Drive-by spiritualizing” (when we dump some spiritual homily on someone that hasn’t asked for it) does more harm than good. Telling someone that their problems stem from a past life and is just karma is irresponsible. Keep that crap to yourself.

Common sense lesson number 4: Most spiritual teachers, healers, students and gurus seem to not get one of the fundamental principals of spiritual growth: just because it works for us does not mean that it will work for someone else. In other words, we may have had a cosmic moment during our 30-day water fast but that doesn’t mean someone else will. I tried that 30-day thing once and it ended when I walked by a Cinnabun kiosk 27 days in. Any diet that results in “what comes out resembles what goes in” is highly dangerous. You may be clean as a whistle on the inside but you also may be doing irreversible damage to your digestive system—not to mention your psyche. You may be thriving being a vegan, but that doesn’t give you the right to preach that stuff to someone else. Or to be self righteous or judgmental. If it is working for you, that is great, keep doing it. Quit trying to convert everyone else.

Common sense lesson number 5: Kindness, humility, service and gratitude are the best ingredients for an uncommon life. We don’t need vision boards, visualization, soul mates or winning the lottery to live a remarkable life. The problem with most of these “systems”, which promise material gain, is that they forget the fundamental principle of life—“desire is never satisfied”. Work on being happy, do whatever you have to do to be happy without stuff. We don’t need to pay good money to learn the secret to anything. If we are happy without stuff, stuff will naturally come to us. If we aren’t happy, no amount of stuff will make us happy. So quit chasing “stuff”. Be honest, learn all you can about whatever excites you, follow your passions, and the best stuff will come. If you want a soul mate, YOU be the soul mate you want to have first. Until then, you are wasting your time.

Common sense lesson number 6: The more understanding and non-judgmental we are, the more friends we will have. People gravitate to those who are calm and wearing a gentle smile much more strongly than someone who is an emotional volcano. Live the life you want others to have. They will get it. We can’t sell emotional freedom when we are an emotional wreck ourselves. It doesn’t matter how many classes or certificates we have, people are not going to be impressed with with us if our temper is always on a slow burn. Calm down and relax. That impresses more people than someone who has a rod up their rear and is trying to sell them something.

Common sense lesson number 7: We shouldn’t quit our day job. I see so many people who take healing courses and want to be healers so they quit their only source of income and live off their credit cards until their healing practice is established. Being a healer is much more than having a certificate. Let’s face it, not everyone is meant to be a professional healer. There are many people who quit their day job thinking being a healer will be lucrative and easy. These are the same people who were real estate brokers, multi-level marketers and other “get rich” schemes that sounded good at the time. The ugly truth is it takes time, a lot of hard work and more than a little luck to make a living at being a spiritual teacher and healer. It may be easy for us to heal those that ask but building a full-time profitable business around it isn’t easy. So, don’t quit your day job until you have consistent income to live on (or you are a trust fund baby).

Last but not least, be practical. I know it’s not as fun as flying by the seat of our pants on a zip line through the Amazon Rain Forest, but really—think things through. Don’t give away your bank account for promises of spiritual powers and divinity. Be frugal, be kind, be grateful, be patient, be smart. God, Source or the Universe doesn’t care what we do for a living; that is our ego talking. We are whole and completely perfect as is. All we have to do is pay attention, be of service, trust ourselves first, be honest, be authentic. Then people will come looking for that better mousetrap, and we’ll be ready.