bogus - ah`- meter ('ometer' pronounced like in speedometer)

If you have been exploring the world of spiritual growth, metaphysical studies, new age thought, etc., you have quite likely discovered what a vast amount of material exists in this realm.

There is so much wonderful information currently available online and through classes, books, and digital media - teachings to enlighten and inspire... methods for healing and growth... practices to elevate awareness... tools for transformation, etc.

Realistically however, there is also no shortage of useless or misleading information available in the spiritual supermarket. How then, do you tell what is actually true and truly useful from that which is bogus?

That's where you will discover the value of a handy tool called a "bogusometer". Where do you go to get a bogusometer? You don't have to go anywhere to get one... you already have one, hardwired into your body-mind system. It is the part of you that "rings true" when something is true, and that sends you an inner warning signal when something is untrue.

To learn how to use your bogusometer, the main thing is simply to be aware that you have this innate radar, and to start paying attention to the signals it is sending you. Once you do, you will quite likely learn to trust it and rely on it fairly quickly. Perhaps you have already been using it and have discovered how useful it can be.

Cruising the aisles of the spiritual supermarket will provide you with ample opportunity to use - and thus learn to rely on - your bogusometer. You will run into all sorts of claims, advice, and so-called truths - promises of instant enlightenment... advice about what you should or should not eat, drink or enjoy... claims that this or that teacher, path or method is the best or only way to spiritual enlightenment... teachings telling you that extreme austerity is the way... teachings telling you extreme pleasure is the way... machines that are designed to transport you in seconds to the deepest mystical states.

Over the years, I've encountered many great teachers and teachings, but I've also encountered the whole range of bogus claims and advice, "one way" teachings, "shoulds", "should nots", etc. Yes, early on I bought into some of it... and learned some humbling lessons. I also learned before too long to trust my bogusometer.

The Night I Met God

Among the many situations I've encountered on my journey, one that stands out as possibly the most absurd - and entertaining - is the night I met God - aka Barry. Early one evening, several years back, I was sitting in a cafe in a little town in northern California, when a woman asked if she could join me. A little ways into the conversation, she invited me to a gathering taking place that evening, where her spiritual teacher would be giving a talk. Always interested in who is teaching what, I agreed, and we headed for the meeting.

The gathering was in a beautiful home in one of California's most upscale communities. The meeting room was very posh and had huge picture windows overlooking San Francisco Bay. We found some comfortable cushions on the white shag carpet, and the large room began filling up with what appeared to be bright, professional people of various ages. Everyone seemed familiar with one another, and it became clear that all these people were the teacher's followers and not just other drop-ins like myself.

When everyone was situated, in walked Barry - a man who appeared to be in his late 30s or early 40s, average looking, medium build, etc. After sitting and greeting everyone, he began his talk. It was clear that he was an intelligent individual, and from his terminology he seemed to have a background in psychology as well as spiritual studies.

Before long he got to the crux of it. Put simply, he was God - not the son of God... not the messiah... not a prophet... not an avatar... but God - the one and only Supreme Being. This was not in the spirit of "we're all God - all divine beings". It was clearly, "I'm God and you're not". What was he doing in northern California? He explained that first of all he came to enlighten those who were ready. Then he explained that things were about to get cataclysmic on our planet, and those chosen to be in his inner circle - i.e. the small select group of followers there in the room - would be safe and comfortable when it all came down.

Needless to say, my bogusometer was off the charts, transmitting a constant stream of signals which my left-brain translated as "You've gotta be kidding!" I found it mostly humorous, but a little bit unsettling as well. What absolutely fascinated and bewildered me was that all these seemingly intelligent people were enthusiastically nodding in confirmation and obviously buying into Barry's God story.

Throughout the talk, I politely held my tongue. But afterwards when talking with Barry, I asked him, essentially, "What's the deal"? and a few other things, like, "Does your mother know that you're God"? I don't recall his exact response, but he basically stuck to his story... he was The One, and it must be my good karma that I'm here being given this great opportunity to hang out with him, or something of that nature.

So, why did all these bright individuals buy into Barry's claims? Where were their bogusometers in the face of such a ludicrous story? I can only speculate that they were ignoring their more discerning inner signals because they chose to ignore them... perhaps because they wanted to believe that they were special enough to be chosen as part of God's innermost circle... perhaps because they had already been exposed to so many spiritual teachings that only the most extreme and colorful claims could somehow stand out and get their attention. What do you think?

What Exactly is Your Bogusometer & How Exactly Do You Use It?

Your bogusometer is essentially a combination of your instinct, intuition and common sense. These are all part of your natural inner make-up.

Instinct

We all have gut instincts - these were originally hardwired in to tell us if we were safe, or if we had better proceed with caution, or defend ourselves, or exit quickly. This instinct still functions. When something does not "feel right" it is generally your gut - your solar plexus - signaling you that something is indeed wrong. So if someone is claiming to be your true guru or promising you instant enlightenment if you'll sign on the dotted line, you might first do a "gut check". What is it telling you? Is it tense or relaxed? Does your gut feel ok and at ease, or does it feel sort of "yucky"?

Intuition

Although some have developed this more fully, everyone has some degree of intuition. And as we continue to evolve in consciousness, many individuals are discovering that their intuition is developing at an accelerated pace. There are various forms of intuition - clear seeing (clairvoyance), inner hearing (of higher guidance and insight), empathy, and receiving impressions. For the purpose of discerning what is true from what is not, one of the most useful forms of intuition is simply "knowing". Perhaps you've experienced this... you don't really know how you know something, you just know. Maybe someone is telling you that by using a certain mantra, your whole life will be transformed. Wow! That sounds great. But somehow you just know that it's bogus. Or maybe you just know that its true, at least for you at this time. Trust that knowing.

Common Sense

Perhaps you've heard the saying, "If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is." This is often correct, but not always. There are some very effective tools and teachings available which sound extremely good and are good. But if something gets by your instinct and intuition, it never hurts to weigh it against your common sense. Does it seem at all reasonable, realistic or possible? "Will an all chocolate diet really open my 3rd eye and give me inner wisdom?" You want to believe it, and even your usually reliable gut is saying "Oh boy, chocolate!" This is where your common sense will give it to you straight, if you are willing to listen to it. "An all chocolate diet... yeah, right."

These are the fundamental elements of your bogusometer. And as you can see, using it is fairly simple. Once you've learned to listen to and trust your bogusometer, it will keep you pretty well on track. And when you miss the signals and end up on (what appears to be) a minor or major detour from your path, just try to learn from it and continue on, maybe a little wiser from the experience.

In learning to trust your bogusometer, you are essentially learning to trust yourself, and that is a valuable jewel to carry on your path.

Author's Bio: 

Jim Malloy is a full time meditation teacher currently living in north central Florida. Trained in 1973 by the International Meditation Society, he has 33 years of experience teaching meditation. He has taught meditation classes throughout the western and southwestern U.S. and in the U.K., and now teaches in the southeastern U.S. and via his website, The World Wide Online Meditation Center: http://www.meditationcenter.com