From: Howard Jacobson <>
Subject: The dangers of toxic spirituality

A hard-hitting look at popular New Age and self-help gurus

The Dangers of Toxic Spirituality: PYP 376:

This week's podcast interview hits hard. 

Justin Luria now lives what he calls a “muggle” life, managing on online bookshop. Before that, he trained as an energy healing and shamanic practitioner, and immersed himself in many of the spiritual practices of the “New Age,” and learned from many contemporary spiritual teachers: Byron Katie, Eckhart Tolle, and others.

He also actively pursued the goals of the self-help movement as modeled and taught by folks like Tony Robbins and others.

And somewhere along the way, he realized that the bulk of self-help and spirituality was little more than our grasping consumer society wrapped in finer threads. Rather than being a cure or counterweight to modern life, mainstream spiritual and self-help culture intensifies our feelings of inadequacy and need, and often takes advantage of the vulnerable state in which that inadequacy leaves us.

And many popular spiritual traditions “bypass” the material world in ways that are profoundly dysfunctional.

Plus there are power dynamics at play when we submit to one of these modern gurus; dynamics that can lead to serious abuse, and can trigger past trauma.

Justin guides me through the minefield of contemporary spiritual and self-help culture, and he names names.

If you're a passionate follower of one of the “gurus” or teachers that he deconstructs, you might feel some alarm or even anger. There's no doubt that folks like Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle and Tony Robbins teach things that “work” and may have been extremely helpful to you on your journey. Justin is simply pointing out the potential for harm in their work.

I found myself nodding at a lot of his interpretations and experiences. There have been things that just didn't “sit right” with me, but I felt ashamed of my own “lack of spiritual depth” and so never articulated them.

I can see now the ways I've been duped and taken advantage of, gaslit and made to doubt my own senses and experiences, and praised for unquestioning obedience disguised as steadfastness and loyalty.

I hope this conversation is useful to you as well.

Listen here: