One of the pitfalls on the spiritual path is self- importance. Or as Swami Sri Yukteswar called it “pride of pedigree” or “pride of nationality.” In modern day parlance, you could think of it as the “Don Spirituale” complex. What do I mean by “Don Spirituale?”
“Don Spirituale” is when our egos want to feel important and acknowledged. Don’t we see this in our world today? Rather than leaders cooperating and working together, competition seems to be another, perhaps more insidious, epidemic we are battling. As Swami Sri Yukteswar said, “Some people try to be tall by cutting off the heads of others!”
We need to exercise constant, conscious discrimination and ask ourselves every day, “Which side won today? “Don Spirituale”? Or the humble qualities of selfless love and service to God?”
Here’s how you can tell if you are being influenced by the “Don Spirituale” state of mind. You’ll feel a growing sense of, “Hey, you’re not giving me any respect.” Or you may feel a strain of self-righteous indignation that screams, “Who are you to talk to me that way?” Lastly, you might put cotton balls in your mouth and shoe polish in your hair (that’s an inside joke for fans of The Godfather :)).
To give you an opposite example, one time Swami Kriyananda was at a conference on building spiritual communities. Swami was the only one of the speakers who had actually started a successful community. One evening during the weekend program he treated the others to dinner. They ignored him and talked all about their own projects. Rather than think, “Hey, what about me?! I’m treating…”, Swami reveled in being unimportant.
Paramhansa Yogananda said, “When this ‘I’ shall die, then shall I know who am I.”
While “Don Spirituale” is all about “me, me, me…just me…”, the spiritual aspirant shifts his focus from the ego to the Infinite. Or as Yogananda said in a hauntingly beautiful chant called “In the Valley of Sorrows”:
“My Lord, I want to see only You, You, You, just You”
Why not expand from “me, me, me, just me…” to “You, You, You, just You.”
You’ll be all the more happy you did, and you won’t have to put cotton balls in your mouth!