7 reasons why rational people run from spirituality like their hair’s on fire.

Are you a green-tea drinking, yoga-practicing, Hybrid-driving soul-searcher who spends your free time meditating at awareness-retreats; doing Hanuman-like acrobatic postures at yoga retreats; and dancing like a possessed Lord Krishna at kirtans?

Are you a regular alms-giving, Biblically-versed, choir-singing evangelical disciple who goes to church every Sunday without fail, attends Monday night Bible-studies in spite of Monday night football and Friday night fellowship in spite of the Jersey Shore reruns?

Does your Sanskrit, Jewish, Arabic or Hewbrew name translate to “the great one”, “our savior”, “the creator of the universe” or “the divine one and only”?

Are you spiritual or do you need therapy?

If you answered yes to any question above, you are most likely a highly religious human being. If you answered yes to any two of the above questions, therapy is most likely needed. If you answered yes to all three above circumstances, please let me know which psychiatric hospital you’re residing in.

Yes, you’re living on a spiritual plane but not many of your neighbors, friends or family are. And why the hell not? Why do people run from spirituality like their hair’s on fire?

7 reasons why spirituality gets a bad rap:

1)   Dogma and tradition of religion. Many can’t relate to stories of the ancient world. Modern science and our increased sophistication raises doubts about seas parting, angels singing, and miracle healings. Spirituality tends to be wrapped up in religion and religion is outdated, archaic and far removed from the realities of the modern day.

2)   No instant gratification. Every gadget and comfort of the modern world gives us instant pleasure. We watch television and are intrigued. We can instantly purchase real farm animals for our social media farms. We can order books with a click of a mouse, chat with our relatives in remote parts of Uganda or order flowers that can be delivered on the same day. The benefits of spirituality can take months, years or lifetimes to materialize.

3)   Not practical to daily life. Spirituality has a difficult time fitting into our everyday lives. In a dog-eat-dog world where corporations are focused on the bottom line, spirituality seems to get in the way of making money and succeeding in the material world. There’s never enough time to run all the errands, answer every text message and email, and watch every episode of the Jersey shore.

4)   Leaders gone wild. Our esteemed spiritual leaders are supposed to lead and inspire. Yet, like all humans, they fail too. Fallen televangelists, shake-you-down con men and spiritual gurus of old and new seem to be distracted from the spiritual journey. Their own journeys to enjoy the modern comforts of life, corruption and sensuality have turned off spiritual-seekers altogether.

5)   Controversies & Scams. Controversy (along with wars and persecution) have accompanied religions and spiritual practices for ages. Controversies have risen about the abuse of power in religious organizations, sex and child abuse charges, and lawsuits about church or temple management. Scams have usually revolved around ripping off the congregation, embezzlement and even money laundering.

6)   If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense. It costs money to run a place of worship like a temple or church. While the church-attending and religious minded amongst us have grown up making our weekly alms, more people are tightening their belts. If one approaches spirituality as a financial investment, they will soon realize their investment is better off in the stock market! Regardless of how priceless self-awareness can be, most spiritual practices cost money.

7)   Looney-toon practices. Many of the practices of modern day spirituality get at self-awareness and enlightenment. With so many practices out there, some practices become questionable. Sacrifice killings, possessed trances, tantra, end-of-the-world zealots, and most “herbal” practices, make many look at spirituality with suspicion and doubt.

How do you view spirituality and religion? Do you run away from spirituality like your hair’s on fire?

For my book on spirituality and staying resilient during tough times, click here for Is God Listening?


  1. Hi Vishnu,

    Love your references to Hanuman and Lord Krishna haha!

    I was brought up Christian and attended Sunday School religiously, maybe even zealously. Was top boy in answering Bible questions and all. Somewhere along the line I realized that what I was being taught was not sufficient to deal with life. On further research, it wasn’t even the big picture, just a part of it. I am a big history buff you see, so I like to read up and see how history influenced religion and so on.

    Well there came a point where the pain was too great to bear. You know the whole being young and being hurt by girls and all that. I started off on my spiritual journey to find inner peace and found myself drawn to Eastern Philosophy. I’m not sure if it is because I am Asian, but yeah it was in Eastern Philosophy that I found peace which I never had. Still, it was a struggle not to turn my back on the world and retreat to the mountains.

    Along the way I did encounter human spiritual leaders. Was a big fan of Osho until I read more of his life, then I learned not to take in everything without thinking. Probably part of the culture I was brought up in. In the end, I became selective about what I absorbed and followed. If it felt right and made sense to me, I would adopt it, otherwise I would not bother too much with it.

    Spirituality is probably unique to everyone. We need to find our own paths and beliefs. Our beliefs may be a combination from many different sources. But it doesn’t matter. As long as we are happy, have inner peace and can manage the challenges life has to offer, we will be fine.

    Thank you for sharing this lovely article!

    Irving the Vizier

    1. thanks for sharing your personal story of spirituality Vizier! and how you’ve combined several different paths to find your own spiritual practice. Spirituality is unique to everyone that pursues it. I wonder about the people that stay away from spirituality at all cost – the ones that are running away from it like their hair’s on fire:) can they find peace too? Can they be happy? thanks again for dropping by Vizier and sharing your thoughts.

  2. So True! I’ve experienced a lot of those reasons with people and it is very hard for them to see past it. I think I started to experience a shift in spirituality for 2 reasons, I love Oprah and watching her really started to awaken that in me, and the second reason- becoming a Mother really started to open my eyes to what is truly important and what is not. Actually I find that a lot of what we fill our day to day lives with is not all that important. Hope you’re having a great weekend!

    1. Thanks for sharing Wendy. I think there’s a lot of reasons that people run from spirituality – maybe it’s running away from people’s religious upbringing? And maybe everyone will come upon the spiritual path at the right time for them in their lives?

      I’m thrilled that Oprah opened your spiritual quest:) she’s one of the best teachers there is. And I’m sure being a parent immediately cuts out what’s important in your life and what isn’t! Thanks for your comment.

  3. Hi Vishnus!
    There are a lot of reasons, as you point out, why people run away from organized religion and embrace their own “theology”. Scott Peck, in The Different Drum points out that questioning organized religion, even if you were brought up in it, is a natural stage of spiritual growth.
    I used to be a very devout church-goer. I still go but it’s all changed, shifted to a more spiritual way of being. I can’t say my questioning started recently, but it’s certainly accelerated recently! I ALWAYS had questions about the dogma. It’s all a part of growing up.

    1. Lori, thanks for your comment. Well, if questioning organized religion is a natural stage of spiritual growth, I think many people are on their spiritual paths then:) I just wonder when they make the shift from religion to their own spirituality?

      Growing up in an Eastern religious background, there was a combination of dogma and spirituality but it was definitely more of everything goes. When eastern religions take a more laid back approach, it become easier to embrace it and the spirituality that comes with it.

  4. Vishnu,

    That was very insightful. I could relate to each of the 7 reasons but up til now didn’t give them any thought. Thanks for sharing

    1. Thanks for dropping by Genero. I’m glad you could relate and hopefully kick off your own spiritual journey:) now that you’ve started your blogging journey!

  5. Hi Vishnu,

    I do drink green tea, but not sure how spiritual that makes me. 🙂 I read “A New Earth,” by Eckhart Tolle. That was the first book to get me really thinking about spirituality. I was raised attending church but as I became an adult, had let it go. for many of the reasons, you mention. I find it hard to make the connection with modern living.

    I was ready to make some changes in my life. Yoga and meditation have been helpful to me. I’m sure I could find some church services that would be beneficial as well, but I haven’t put my energy there.

    Love your comparisons! Great post to get me thinking – thanks!

  6. thanks for your comment Cathy and for dropping by. Mindful drinking of green tea is a spiritual experience some would say:) I think as some of the other comments have mentioned and alluded to, many of our religious, church, temple upbringing have given us a background to continue our spiritual growth on our own terms.

    and future church service – you never know. you might get back to church when the time is right for you:)

  7. Hi Vishnu,

    Very interesting post. I think you bring up some excellent points. In particular, I agree with you that “leaders gone wild” and “scams” have led people to be turned away from religion.

    Though, I have to politely disagree with you in regards to number 3: Not practical to daily life.

    I am a Christian (sound the horns!). I use biblical stories and principles on a daily basis for practical application to my life.

    I know that this is not the case for every person that follows a religion. But there are many people who follow a religion that do use practical applications from the principles of their religion on a daily basis.

    Just wanted to throw this out there. 🙂

  8. Izzy, welcome to the site. I’m excited to have a ninja leave a comment! lol

    Yes, leaders and scams have turned people away from religion all right!

    And I completely believe you when you say you’ve found religion to be practical for daily life. I have too:) It’s just that people who aren’t spiritual/religious sometimes feel like religion isn’t practical to their daily.

    I should probably do a follow up article on why people run towards spirituality and religion like their hair’s on fire:) Or why we who practice religion and spirituality embrace it as much as we do and how helpful it has been for us.

    Which part of Japan are you in Izzy? thanks for dropping by and saying hello.

  9. Thats completely valid. I do agree, that most people that run from spirituality would say “That sh– aint practical!”

    Writing a post about why people run to spirituality could be really interesting. To be honest, I’m not even totally sure why I ran towards spirituality. I think it had to be do with feeling like I had hit a dead end and there had to be “more to life than this!”.

    I live in the Shiga prefecture in a small little country town called Yokaichi. It is about a an hour or so north by train from Kyoto.

    Have you been to Japan? Most of the time the only city people know is Tokyo. And even in that case, they have no idea where it is located.

  10. Look out for a future post Izzy or 20! Considering this is a spirituality themed blog, I’ll probably be talking quite a bit about how spirituality can help us all in life:)

    I have in fact been to Japan – not really but I have stopped into the airport several times on my way to Malaysia or India. The fact that I now know a ninja there is probably more likely I don’t stop and avoid Japan all together. lol

Comments are closed.