So, you’re here. And we both know what that means…
You, or someone you love, has become spiritually active.
It’s okay. It’s natural to be curious—to want to experiment—to explore and discover new things.
But it’s also important that you understand the risks.
Spirituality isn’t all love and light these days.
So let’s sit down and have the talk that I wish someone had given me.
It might feel a little awkward or uncomfortable… And you might be thinking, “it will never happen to me!”
But the truth is: it will.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a fledgling seeker or if you’ve been spiritually active for decades…
Sooner or later, you’re going to be exposed to hippies.
Alarming, isn’t it?
And it isn’t just high risk activities, like drum circles and music festivals. It can happen anywhere: yoga studios; coffee shops; YouTube; even our own parents can expose us to hippies.
The important thing is to realize that exposure is nothing to be ashamed of.
It happens to all of us.
And if we take steps to protect ourselves, we can still go on to have a long and fulfilling spiritual life.
These 7 Survival Strategies will show you how.
1. Stop Clinging to the Past
One of the first signs of trouble is that we begin seeking out the oldest, purest, most authentically indigenous spiritual traditions.
You see, hippies lead us to believe that the further society advances, the further we get from our spiritual roots.
Therefore, if we want to be more spiritual, then to those roots we must return.
But was the past really a more spiritual era?
Medicine has roots in the past. The field goes back thousands of years.
But we wouldn’t go to a hospital that promised to use the authentic surgical techniques of the ancient Egyptians!
Shouldn’t that tell us something?
If ancient medicine is outdated, why would ancient spirituality be any different?
On the other hand, even if a field is outdated, that doesn’t mean we need to discard it.
We didn’t throw away the entire medical field when doctors stopped using leeches. Medicine has advanced and evolved into something better.
So what happened to spirituality?
The fact is, every field began at some point in the past. They all have naive and superstitious roots.
But that doesn’t mean we stay there!
We keep what works—improve what doesn’t.
Spirituality should have done the same.
Instead, it’s become the one area of life where innovation is actively discouraged.
2. Ask Questions, and Don’t Succumb to Paradox
Exposure to hippies doesn’t just lead us to romanticize the past. It also drives us to polarize our own consciousness.
It makes us believe that our intuition is good, but our intellect is bad—that we should feel more, think less.
(This is important if we want to feel superior in a world overflowing with talented, intelligent people.)
In extreme cases, we can even start pretending that paradox is a hallmark of transcendental growth. That it shows us the truth.
But paradox is not an intrinsic aspect of an enlightened mind—it is the inevitable consequence of a finite perspective.
And that’s a good thing!
Paradox lets us know when we’ve hit our limit.
It shows us where to explore; where to question.
It reminds us that we still have room to grow.
But if we revere paradox for its own sake—if we spiritualize it and display it like a badge of honor—then we miss that opportunity.
We check out, at precisely the point where we should be digging in.
So don’t cleave yourself in two. Express everything you’ve got!
Develop your intuition. Hone your feelings. Ask questions. Work hard to find the answers.
Study. Strive to understand.
Let paradox humble you.
Let it energize you.
Let all those talented, intelligent people share what they know—and then return the favor.
It won’t make you any less spiritual.
And you won’t ever regret it.
3. Don’t Look to “Quantum Physics” for Proof
While we’re searching for answers, it’s tempting to look to science.
It’s okay. Everyone does it.
And there are books upon books, upon movies upon books about spirituality and “the New Physics.” (That’s what hippies like to call physics from the 1920’s.)
The whole thing is really big business.
But I’m going to let you in on a little Secret…
Quantum physics has absolutely nothing to do with spirituality, or consciousness, or mysterious wish-granting laws of nature!
Shhh… Don’t tell anyone. (There are billions of dollars at stake!)
This symptom is subtle, but no less painful than the others. (The philosophy of physics is a huge passion of mine, so I tend to get worked up over this one.)
We’ve learned some amazing things over the last century.
And some of them have a profound impact on the way we interpret our experiences.
But it’s important to understand the boundary between the science and the underlying philosophy—between the physics and the metaphysics.
Otherwise we just end up “proving” one arbitrary assumption with another.
We might fool ourselves into feeling better, but that’s about all we accomplish.
If I told you that “the U(1) symmetry group is incredibly accurate for modeling electromagnetic interactions—therefore thinking happy thoughts will make all of your dreams come true,” would you be convinced?
No? Excellent. Moving on.
4. Own Your Shit
Following up on the topic of happy thoughts we come to another mainstay of hippie spirituality—the mandate that each of us should “follow our bliss.”
The reasoning behind the directive goes like this:
Good things make us feel good; bad things make us feel bad; spirituality is about doing the highest good; therefore we should do the things that feel the best.
It’s pretty straightforward really.
That’s how we know that kids need candy for breakfast, that problems are best avoided, that hard work is for suckers, and, most importantly, that being flaky narcissistic assholes makes us better than everyone else.
Plus, it’s a great slogan!
Personally, I prefer the corollary:
Own your shit.
The reasoning goes like this…
- Not everything that’s good for us makes us feel good.
- Not everything that’s bad for us makes us feel bad.
- We can’t always tell the difference…
- But we have to make decisions anyway.
- Therefore we should be introspective, do the best we can, and live with the consequences of our actions.
Not as flashy, I know. I’ll keep working on it…
5. Do the Work
Spirituality isn’t about subscribing to the correct values and beliefs, and then waiting for God/karma/the universe to reward us for our ideals.
But spiritual entitlement is such an intrinsic part of spirituality and religion that it’s hard to imagine what they would be without it.
Have faith and you will be rewarded… Heaven is for believers… Think positive and positive things will happen…
The message is clear: good things come to those who wait… so get to waiting!
Unfortunately there are no “correct” values and beliefs.
We all have them. We all choose them. And if we keep growing, we’ll change them more than once.
But those values and beliefs don’t entitle us to anything.
They define our options; guide our choices. They shape the world we live in. They point the way to a life that matters.
But they don’t do the work for us.
They don’t make it happen.
That’s what a spiritual practice is for. It empowers us. It gives us the tools to bring our values and beliefs to life.
To make the things that matter a part of our everyday existence. (Whatever those things happen to be.)
Sometimes we succeed. Sometimes we fail.
But our efforts are the source of meaning.
And that doesn’t happen if we don’t do the work.
6. Get Over Yourself
So you’ve done the work, and cool things have started to happen.
Maybe you took up meditation. You’ve tuned into the present moment, found freedom from your ego, had an experience of nondual unity.
Maybe an out-of-body experience or two.
All that’s left to do now is wave the checkered flag and smile beatifically condescendingly at all the poor souls who still don’t get it!
I mean, these things just don’t happen unless you’re, like, super spiritually off-the-charts evolved, right?
Sorry. It doesn’t work that way.
These experiences are available to all of us—regardless of how “evolved” we are.
The only thing that changes is how we interpret them.
In fact, some states can be so profound that they do more to hinder our growth than herald it.
That’s the thing about “Enlightenment.” Just when you think you’ve reached the end, you have.
And I don’t mean that in a good way.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in over 24 years of climbing through this shit upside-down and backwards, it’s this:
We know nothing.
Take the sum total of every experience in history—every insight and awakening, every vision and adventure—and it pales to the unexplored possibilities ahead.
And anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t half as enlightened as they think they are.
Besides, what would you rather do?
Pat yourself on the back and call it a day?
Or head back into the wilderness and discover something new?
The choice is yours. But that’s all it is: a choice.
The attitude is unnecessary.
…which leads us squarely to #7.
7. Don’t be a Dick
Are you a “spiritual” person?
Are you sure?
What does the word even mean?
Does it change?
Is spirituality just a term for the half of life we like, and a way to avoid the half we don’t?
And what happens if we stop dividing the world into opposing categories and polarizing forces in the first place?
Would it mean anything at all?
Would we still feel righteous?
We all get caught up in the things we care about: beliefs, values, politics, our visions for the future.
But spirituality is somehow supposed to be a universal thing. Not just a fashionable standard for modern-day Earthlings.
And that’s the thing…
The universe is big.
Really, really big.
We have no idea what’s in it, who’s in it, or if there’s even an end to it at all.
The universe doesn’t endorse our political views. It doesn’t uphold our values.
And that’s okay.
It’s still okay for us to have them.
It’s okay to champion them.
It’s okay to push to change to the world. It’s okay to disagree.
But the universe doesn’t care.
That’s all on us.
So maybe the better sentiment is this: be a dick if you want. But don’t be a spiritual dick.
Spirituality is big enough for all of us.
Life After Hippies
So there you have it: seven simple but effective strategies to reduce your risk of hippies and live a passionate, adventurous, and spiritually-active life.
“But wait…” you say, “What if hippies have already taken over my spirituality? Is it too late for me?”
No! It’s never too late.
The same strategies that protect you from initial exposure are also an effective cure!
Just do the work.
Hippies can be tenacious. But if you keep at it, your symptoms will subside.
You see, I’m not just a spokesperson for hippie-free spirituality… I’m also a survivor.
So never give up. There is life after hippies!
Spread the Word!
What can you do to help? Share this message with family and friends. Awareness is the best way to stop the spread of hippies!
If you liked this post, please consider sharing, along with a brief comment of what you thought… It doesn’t sound like much. But these small gestures make a tremendous impact on building our community, and helping other wayward rebels find a perspective that they can resonate with.
And if it spoke to you, why not Join the Tribe? It's free.. And this is just one tiny piece of more than two decades of impassioned work...... And YOU probably belong here with the rest of us!!
In any case, thanks so much for stopping by! – \m/ – Z
About Zach Herbert
I teach people to do cool things with their consciousness, and break their brains with beautiful ideas.
Professional heretic. Unlikely mystic. Host to rebels, misfits and independent thinkers.
Find out more here. And follow me on Facebook at: