Here’s How to Become a Spiritual Genius and Trade Your Anxiety for Enlightenment

John Vincent Shrader
7 min readSep 12, 2022

Spiritual Giants Don’t Just Spin Mala Beads and Wait for Awakening

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Most spiritual seekers are still sleeping.

The curse of spirituality is to gain a grain of peace and think we’ve arrived. If you really want to know your progress watch your dreams. If you’re not thoroughly aware of your dream content, you’re still sleeping.

Waking life is only a fraction of our existence, and to judge our spiritual evolution from what we see on the surface is a scam.

Spiritual seekers start with great passion on the path, take up something diligently, make a considerable amount of headway, sense clarity, brightness, and positivity, and then start to coast.
While gains in spirituality can be easy to ride on, once you realize you’re happier than most people and have this sense of contentment, it can be easy to assume you’re doing alright. And, of course, we’re all doing alright, relatively. But we’ve usually barely scratched the surface when it comes to profound spiritual shifts.

The depth of our psyche is phenomenal, and we have no idea how deep or complex our psyche goes. Most of us are aware of neurotic tendencies, nightmares, or chronic psychological reactions. Their source perplexes us, and to be frank, most modern psychology remains just as ignorant as to their true origin.

From past lives to childhood trauma, hand-me-down generational trauma, socially absorbed trauma, genetic hurdles, and obstruction from malevolent dark energy, the source of our suffering is multi-faceted and mainly below the radar. In this light, most psychiatry is a band-aid on a bullet hole.

There’s a great Netflix documentary called “The Last Shaman”, where a young American diagnosed with depression tries everything western psychiatry had to throw at him, from therapy to Prozac, and nothing moved the needle. He spent nearly a year in the deep jungles of Peru to begin his journey back to wholeness.

When we meditate for a few minutes a day, read a few spiritual books, drink green juices and think we’ve ‘got it’, we’re really just dipping our toes in the kiddy pool when the deep end is the ocean itself.

Indian visionary and author Sri Aurobindo says that the driving force for spiritual growth is discontent. When we’re brutally honest with our subjective sense of awakening, we know there is more to discover, and the mild contentment we feel inside is just an indicator to what’s to come.


I know I’m not there.

I still struggle.

Have hard days. Bad habits.

Nagging frustration and dreams that are repetitive.

But, I’ve tasted enough to know it’s real. I’ve also had moments of extreme clarity, profound insight, and an unshakeable certitude of an undying and stainless bliss. If even for a few moments, or a few days, these periods of clarity declared the non-negotiable nature of the deeper reality.

The great Sages are steeped in this state, 24–7. The truth of the spiritual reality is that it is an unwavering mass of pure bliss and consciousness that transcends time. They say even the greatest pleasures of the world pale in comparison to the mountain of bliss available to us. The true masters dwell in this state, and because it is beyond space and time, they remain above all of the petty movement of the world. The common theme, though, pouring from the mouths and hearts of these masters, is that it is worth it. They declare, again and again, the possibility for real enlightenment in this life; and the value it has not only for the entire world.

They provoke us to look at our ways of living and question how much our current worldly concerns, habits, and pastimes bring us real happiness. It can shock our shadow that is addicted to our pettiness, that thinks the world around us and all our activities are meaningful and worthwhile, and that spirituality is only for monks, nuns, and hippies. And then, death comes. The dawning recognition that this life is passing so quickly and the terrifying clarity that there is no escape from the jaws of death.

The great sages know this fear and insist that it can be overcome in this very lifetime. It is just the body that dies, and there is something in us that is stable, eternal, and full of unparalleled bliss. It seems like a fairy tale. Seems too esoteric. Too abstract. And yet, when you really dive into dissecting your own mind, understand the nature of your thoughts, habits, and emotional tendencies and start to perceive the unwavering awareness behind it all, you begin to glimpse the truth of the sages.

Knowing the background is an unfathomable bliss and knowing our current reality is a mixture of joy and disappointment, excitement and despondency, confidence and frailty, why not seek what is permanent and stable?

Take This Shit Seriously

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At least start to.

Question it.

Play with it.

Engage your mind and heart with this timeless question.

The clock is ticking. You know in your heart you want more, are more, can achieve more.

The thing I loved about the eastern teachings was that it was rooted in self-discovery. As the Christian evangelists at my school tried their damnedest to convert me to Christianity, they couldn’t answer my questions. As I matured, I learned there is a deep truth to the Christian doctrine, but the modern interpretations have been thoroughly clouded. For me, I needed assurance. Buddha’s insistence on being a lamp unto yourself spoke directly to me. The truth was too big of an issue to put in someone else’s hands. I needed to know the truth, in the depth of my heart and core of my being, as an unassailable fact of reality and not a convention of my mind or imagination.

All Eastern Religions implore the seeker to do just that.


Look with deep curiosity.

Engage your whole being in it.

Discover the declarations of saints and scriptures with your own experience.

As much emphasis is given on studying scripture and sacred texts, at the end of the day, even the scriptures say that “Experience Sublates Scripture” Basically means that living experience of the truth is its own authority. Scripture is just there to point the way. Scripture is just blank paper when we have our own taste and conviction. Or in Zen, they say, the finger pointing to the moon. We’re supposed to see the moon. Not the finger. The finger drops from our field of vision when we apprehend the moon’s majesty.

Of all the different teachings, the insistence on earnestness and sincerity stands out. All you need is earnestness. If you look consistently with all your heart, all your being, and all your soul, you will start to see. If you awaken this thirst inside you — and it’s said the seed is in all of us, just waiting to be discovered — it will find its way to the watering hole. It is inevitable. We are tethered to this ultimate reality. We are born from it. We are one with it already. That which seeks to know it is already it. So, in that sincere yearning, that profound transcendental reality starts to work through you; aiding, assisting, supporting, and urging you to dig further.

Wherever You Are On Your Journey, Keep Going

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There is a saying, ‘ Ignorance has no beginning but a definite end. Enlightenment has a definite beginning but no end.’

Most of us are in a state of Ignorance as to the true nature of reality. Some of us have had some type of awakening. All of us can keep growing.

If you’re stuck in suffering, burn, burn, burn. Take up a spiritual practice, a path, a method that resonates with you and start the work. Usually, it is highly repetitive, but repetition is a profound training to overcome countless years of habitual psychological function. Keep at it. Find a guide you trust and dive in with no hesitation.

Double down if you’ve made some progress but feel like you’ve hit a plateau. Milarepa, the great Tibetan meditator, sat for thousands and thousands of hours. Ramana Maharishi, the great South Indian Gyana Yogi, spent 12 years in solitude and silence. Countless other examples are there of extreme spiritual efforts. They kept going because they were working with infinitely itself. The finite mind can’t imagine the potential and the power of true awakening, and we usually compare our progress to linear and very human standards.

We’re at the YMCA and compare our swimming to grandma in the next lane, and we’ve never heard of Michael Phelps. Like Phelps, the great saints show us what is possible. We might not win eight gold medals in one Olympics, but we will undoubtedly be inspired and, more importantly, convinced that there is more to the game.

So be humble, dig in, and keep going.

I’ll end with Swami Vivekananda’s resonant declaration.

“Arise! Awake! And stop not until the goal is reached!”



John Vincent Shrader

John is a yogi, visionary and author residing in India. He has dedicated his life to the eternal search for truth .