Why We Should Never Force Our Spiritual Beliefs on Other People

Monk Meditating

“A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.” ~John Steinbeck

Around six years ago I started to meditate. I had a spiritual awakening, and life started to look really different.

I have always been a feeler and reader of emotion, but this was different. It was like I was synchronized with everyone around me, as if everyone else was connected to me in some strange and mysterious way.

It later turned out to be the case that everyone is connected to me, the same way everyone is connected to you. That we are all made up of the same stuff and really we are just one giant organism connected to the same sphere of consciousness.

I believe that if you project hate, hate is what you will receive, and if you project love, you will be showered with love.

This is a strange concept, and one that I am sure many of you think is a little crazy, but everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and what is a reality to me may not be a reality to you.

For me to claim my version of reality is the one truth that exists from over seven billion minds on the planet would be pretty egotistical and naïve.

The fact is science could account for everything, in the same way a higher power could or evolution or the collective consciousness of humanity.

We could have been put here by a lifeform more intelligent than ourselves, or our planet could indeed be just a cog in a bigger organism that we do not understand. We could be a hologram or a hallucination or something conjured up in the mind of someone or something. The truth is we really do not know!

But when I had this moment of spiritual enlightenment six years ago, I did know. There was clarity, things made sense, and the world seemed like a better place. I thought that I had stumbled upon secret wisdom and that I was in some way elevated to a deeper level of mind than most other people.

I knew this was the answer not only to my own problems, but the problems of every man, woman, and child on the planet. The only problem was no one who I knew was sharing my enthusiasm.

Over the last six years since that first moment of clarity, I have come to realize that when you have a spiritual awakening it is only the start of a journey that has no end. You learn more and more about yourself as the days go by, but with each new answer multiple questions will be asked.

If I had written about spiritual awakenings six years ago or even one year ago this article would have been very different, and if I write one six years from now, I am sure I will have many more revelations and differences from the opinions I have now.

When I started out, I was certain that everyone else needed to meditate, that everyone else needed to jump on the spirituality bandwagon. And if you were not into spirituality you were in some way less enlightened than I was. But I now know this was my ego getting in the way.

Because of this I alienated myself from friends, my behavior became erratic, and it nearly cost me my relationship with my girlfriend. Something that I learned from this experience is: you should never force enlightenment, information, spiritual beliefs, or a way of life on anyone else.

I wrote this article because after coming to this realization, I noticed that it was not all that uncommon for people just starting out on the spiritual journey and even those who have been living it for a very long time to develop this spiritual snobbery and an aggressive need to inform people who are really not that interested in this way of life.

The fact is people need to come to their own conclusions in life. No matter how big an opportunity, no matter how easy it is, even if something is so painstakingly obvious, it doesn’t matter. People want to make their own decisions and we have no right to force our way of life upon them.

One of the main reasons we seek to recruit others when we go through transformation is to seek validation. The spiritual journey is a cosmic experience that can sometimes leave you questioning reality. If you have someone to join you it seems less scary. But you have to embrace the fear and do it anyway!

The same rings true for a lot of other things—we may want our partners to come and see a show with us even though we know they are not interested, or we may need a buddy to join us at a martial arts class because we do not have the confidence to attend alone.

However you dress it up, human beings generally crave acceptance and validation of their decisions.

The truth about spirituality is that while it is one of the most connecting things that you can do, it is also one of the most solitary and individual experiences that you sometimes need to face alone. This is not to say that you should not seek guidance (you should), but a good teacher will lead you, not show you, and every conclusion and realization that you come to should be your own.

This is why you cannot force your beliefs onto others, because while spirituality is a personal experience for you, it is also a personal experience for others; and if you do convince someone else that it is the right thing for them, they will only be doing it in an attempt to seek your approval.

The best thing to do is be available to those who want your help and are asking questions. It can be very fulfilling to help someone who is just getting started, but ultimately they will still need to find their own way.

There are plenty of people and communities where you can connect with those who are on the same path as you are. People who have experienced a spiritual awakening are usually pretty friendly, so don’t be afraid to reach out to others who have common goals and interests as you.

They will usually (not always) have more of an understanding of what you are going through than your friends and family, so sometimes it is just good to be able to chat with someone whose beliefs are in line with yours.

To wrap up, the things I have spoken about in this article do not only hold true for spirituality, but also any other journey that goes against the grain. The opposite could be the case; you are not spiritual in nature and are surrounded by people who are deeply spiritual and do not understand you.

Maybe you have escaped the rat race and found a great business opportunity, which is being met with the same kind of resistance. Or maybe you have found out that you can reverse disease naturally and no one wants to listen to you.

Whatever it may be, remember the only life you can live is your own; you cannot control anyone else’s destination or path. So get to know those around you, connect with people with common goals, stop seeking approval of others to validate your journey, and get out there and start living!

Monk meditating image via Shutterstock

About Luke Miller

Luke Miller is a spiritual life hacker and creator of Potential For Change. He believes that spirituality is the foundation for good health and likes to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life. Grab a copy of his free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control here!

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  • vizuz

    Forcing any belief on anyone will only antagonize people. If you want people to become spiritual, the best way is to lead by example. Become happy, successful and loving. If you can radiate true presence people will be inspired by that alone, they may even start to wonder how you seem so content with life all the time. Only tell your view when asked.

    Just giving someone a genuine smile can change the perception of the rest of his/her day.

  • Peace Within

    Great ideas! Thanks for sharing.

  • Terry

    I love that part about needing others’ validation – too true, especially when you’re unsure if you’re following the right path. Thanks for the reminder.

  • rt

    Well written blog Luke and I commend you in the understanding of not forcing or imposing your spiritual beliefs upon another. I’ve had family and neighbours who go to different churches constantly trying to impose their spiritual beliefs on me. No one has the right to tell what you should be doing and that they are right. What is right is right for themselves. They can express what they get from their beliefs but they have no right to dictate or impose them on you. I’ve found the best way on not having to listening to these people is to stop them before they start and say “I don’t discuss religion. If I choose to I will ask you”. I love my personal growth and journey and I would like people to respect my space and beliefs. As I do theirs.

  • Luke Miller

    You just gave a living example of what you said in your comment! It made me smile, thanks for reading the article!

  • Luke Miller

    Thank you, I really appreciate the comment! I had to learn the hard way, by being a preacher and realising that I was banging my head against a brick wall and going about things the wrong way, you live and learn!

  • Luke Miller

    Thanks Terry, I am glad that resonated with you!

  • Luke Miller

    Thanks for reading 🙂

  • rt

    But at least Luke you learnt! I’ve had to detach from people (family) who refuse to change because they feel they are right and it is their job to preach or dictate. It is quite sad. We all grow by learning and listening but imposing on someone’s beliefs or space just makes that person walk away. We all need to respect’s each other feelings.You should be proud of yourself for making such a great change especially being a preacher. You’re a blessing for people to see, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s having an open mind and heart that matters. Good luck!

  • Luke Miller

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment, it means a lot!!! 😉

  • rt

    Your welcome:)

  • Rajiv

    Nicely written.
    It’s really true that we want others to be on spiritual path as well but everyone is already spiritual and they only need a trigger for the awakening . It may happen at a different time for them . People already on a spiritual path can show love,peace,compassion towards everyone.

  • Jeevan/Mirthu/Gupt

    “The truth about spirituality is that while it is one of the most connecting things that you can do, it is also one of the most solitary and individual experiences that you sometimes need to face alone. This is not to say that you should not seek guidance (you should), but a good teacher will lead you, not show you, and every conclusion and realization that you come to should be your own. This is why you cannot force your beliefs onto others, because while spirituality is a personal experience for you, it is also a personal experience for others; and if you do convince someone else that it is the right thing for them, they will only be doing it in an attempt to seek your approval.” Thank You for that piece of WISDOM & a thought-provoking article! 🙂

  • Inner Seer

    I truly enjoyed reading this. I had my spiritual awakening about a year ago, and it was both terrifying and extraordinary at the same time. Before my awakening I had been an ultra-conservative, Evangelical Christian, and I was desperate for my non-Christian family and some of my non-Christian friends to come to Christ in the same way I had. Once I woke up, and I realized that we are all spiritual anyway, and that I didn’t have to worry about the souls of others, it was completely freeing and an absolute burden taken off of me. I did, however, still have to change my mindset from aggressively sharing the gospel to living a peaceful and loving life, and knowing that the universe would take care of the rest. As you said though, there is still a sense of spiritual evangelism or elitism that pervades the culture, and we still have to be careful not to be too enthusiastic or seem more enlightened than others. Your advice on finding a spiritual community, but ultimately knowing that spirituality is a solitary act is invaluable. Right now it is difficult for me to meet with the more spiritually minded people I used to meet with because of my move. I’m learning how to be more ok with this and to continue on my journey whether alone or with others. So many good things in this article. Thank you for sharing your insights. 🙂

  • Leely

    I can’t read further than the obviously ignorant and simplified statement about projecting hate or love – too black and white… you may have been lucky with this, but there’s no wise formula when dealing with human nature
    I can disprove you easily – prophets and saints were hated simply for their honesty and goodness. No easier way to make enemies than speaking truth. People only care for flattery

  • Luke Miller

    We are all entitled to our opinions, I don’t claim to have all the answers, I am just doing my best to make the world a better place and spread love! You obviously don’t agree with my model of the world, this is okay, we are all different!

  • Luke Miller

    Thank you, glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  • Luke Miller

    Thank you 🙂 I am glad you found it thought provoking 🙂

  • Luke Miller

    Right Rajiv, we are all spiritual, it is part of everyone, we just have different levels of awareness! Thanks for the comment!

  • Leely

    I didnt read enough to know about your model of the world.
    This isn’t about opinions,it’s about you stating what is not true. Most people do not care about love, unless this love goes with flattery. They think honesty is rudeness,while lies they willingly swallow taking it for kindness

  • Brian

    I am jealous and bitter of all of you that have had awakenings. Nothing has worked for me.

  • nikijaine

    Leely – the actual sentence in discussion begins with ‘I believe’ not ‘The facts are’. Luke isn’t saying it is true just that is what he believes. I’m guessing you have had some bad experiences but I would recommend reading the whole article. That bit didn’t resonate with me either (mainly co Im hating my neighbours for being jerks at the moment 🙂 ) but the rest of the article wasn’t about that one line.

  • Bijay Agarwala

    It is a wonderful posting with sharing with sharing with fear and near ones . Life’s journey has to be undertaken by self . No veering away from this focus .

  • Supriya Rao

    Thanks Luke! Really thought provoking

  • Fola

    Very fascinating.. your story is.
    Thanks for sharing