My Initiation into Self Authority & Spiritual Discernment: Assisting a Spiritual Teacher in Hawaii

"Spiritual discernment, called   viveka khyatir   in Sanskrit, is said to be the "crowning wisdom" on the spiritual path. The   Yoga Sutras of Patanjali   say that the cultivation of discernment is so powerful that it has the capacity to destroy ignorance and address the very source of suffering. According to   Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary  , to discern is "to recognize or identify as separate and distinct." Those who possess spiritual discernment have learned this skill in relationship to spiritual matters, and they can consistently make intelligent, balanced, and excellent choices in their lives and in relationship to their spiritual development. Their eyes are wide open, and they see clearly." ~ Mariana Caplan, in  Eyes Wide Open

"Spiritual discernment, called viveka khyatir in Sanskrit, is said to be the "crowning wisdom" on the spiritual path. The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali say that the cultivation of discernment is so powerful that it has the capacity to destroy ignorance and address the very source of suffering. According to Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, to discern is "to recognize or identify as separate and distinct." Those who possess spiritual discernment have learned this skill in relationship to spiritual matters, and they can consistently make intelligent, balanced, and excellent choices in their lives and in relationship to their spiritual development. Their eyes are wide open, and they see clearly." ~ Mariana Caplan, in Eyes Wide Open

Last year I was invited to spend the entire year of 2016 with a female spiritual teacher in the USA, that has a home base in Hawaii. She invited me to come to Hawaii and travel with her on her tour in the USA for the duration of the year, working as her personal assistant in exchange for me doing an apprenticeship program with her. I received this invitation at the time where I was just beginning to step out and facilitate Sacred Women Circle’s and offer workshops with women on my own.

All of this was truly flourishing in Berlin and for the first time in my life I felt I was truly being of service in the way I was meant to serve, through listening to a strong transpersonal calling that led me to embody, awaken and activate the sacred feminine within women. I was living on purpose, and over the course of 6 weeks a magical energetic portal had opened and I had connected with over 120+ women from around the world that attended the circle’s, workshops and retreats at the end of 2015. It was a current of pure grace that opened the way. I felt my dharma being crystalized and a true sense of vocation ripening.

During this time there was an inner conflict on whether I should take this opportunity, and spend time with this teacher in Hawaii because everything with regards to my dharma and service was flourishing so beautifully in Berlin. For many people at the time, including myself, this opportunity presented itself as a golden opportunity to spend time with an “enlightened” woman who works with the Divine Light and teaches about the Divine Feminine. She also presents herself as an embodiment of the Divine Mother.

All my life I never had a spiritual teacher because Life in itself was my teacher. Then when I was 26 years old, I started to wonder whether having a spiritual teacher would support and accelerate my awakening and spiritual evolution.

Additionally, I sincerely wanted to learn, grow and evolve spiritually.

In the weeks leading up to me going to Hawaii, some friends would say to me “it’s so great you are going to be with your spiritual teacher” and each time a friend would say this I would hear a soft inner voice within say clearly “she’s not my spiritual teacher”. I never said she was my teacheras I believe its something that reveals itself in time. Nevertheless, I still went because at the time I would have regretted not going, and I also felt I had to go. Yet, at the same time I also had a strong premonition that I would not be spending the entire year with her. One of my gifts since I was young, is the ability to feel the future…and in this situation I knew that I would not be with her for the entire year.

I ended up going with a pure heart, yet what was planned to be a year venture together ended after 1.5 months as I had sensed. I have to say; it was the most terrible, painful and confusing experience. The reason I feel strongly called to share about my personal experience is that it may serve as a reminder to all of us to utilize keener spiritual discernment when it comes to spiritual teachers and healers. I sincerely hope that my experience may serve as a warning for any other spiritual seekers on the path, and especially for other women. It can be so easy to give away our power and authority to something or somebody outside of ourselves. Growing up, we are often not encouraged to be in our own self authority, and there are so many conditionings that are placed on us. I feel like its a subtle program that keeps women small, to believe that somebody outside of ourselves holds more wisdom, knowing or spiritual insight then we contain within. 

This is why I feel compelled to share about my experience and this initiation into Self Authority.

Our original agreement was that I would assist her mainly with social media presence and expanding her outreach, with minimal cooking and cleaning responsibilities. The first 2.5 weeks we were in Maui together, I mainly drove her around to her appointments, waited on her in between her Skype sessions all day, made smoothies every morning and prepared some meals. I noticed after a week of doing these duties, that we didn’t really have a true connection (I never felt a close heart connection with her) and I wasn’t doing the tasks that we had agreed on before I came to Hawaii. I felt more like a robot and servant. She never asked me how I was feeling, or related to me as a human being; instead I felt like I was just an object being told and instructed what to do, with everything revolving around her.   

Most days were 8-10 hour days, and after a few weeks I started to feel something was really off. I felt sadness and anger swell up within my being. I didn’t feel valued as a human being, and I experienced the relationship as almost being taken for granted that someone should wait on her, without any feeling of appreciation for my time, presence and assistance. When I shared my experience with her, she told me I was being impatient and in the time to come the tasks would shift to more social media work (the true reason I came to assist). I kept brushing this inner sadness behind and also pushing away this anger I felt. Thinking that I shouldn’t be angry. Some days I had tears that came because I knew I wasn’t living in alignment with my truth, and also I recognized that she didn’t really care about how I felt, and was only focused on her needs.

Before I share more, to have a more expanded context she in someone who plays the role of Guru even when she is not from an Indian Yogic tradition. During my time with her, I didn’t feel she was embodying the feminine, and instead felt a strong patriarchal and hierarchal energy in which she was operating from. I felt an overbearing dominant masculine authority within her. Someone who has to be in control all the time, and uses her power as a subtle form of intimidation to keep herself secure and above other people (usually people who need to be in control all the time are the ones that have the deepest insecurity of being vulnerable). I only realized in retrospect, that I never experienced the emanation of love while being in her presence. I realize now that is probably why I felt so much fear in speaking my truth to her, that in conjunction with the remembrance of previous lifetimes where patriarchal forces suppressed many women in speaking their truth.

I recognized for myself, that the role of Guru is really an outdated form of spirituality. It’s not in alignment with the evolutionary currents of contemporary spirituality and even though I can honor the role its played throughout history, and has served many peoplein my deepest truth, a “Guru” and the attached conditionings around this title are heavily intertwined with unhealthy patriarchal beliefs, expectations and ideologies. I know that true liberated spiritual teachers do not need a group of followers that bow their heads in subservience to their spiritual authority.

True spiritual teachers awaken the God essence within ourselves, to realize that we are no different then they are and support us in rising in our fullest and truest realization, expression and embodiment.

They don’t push you down, rather encourage you to rise. I saw a strong contradiction with this teacher who talks about the importance of the Divine Feminine on the planet, without embodying the qualities of the feminine herself by choosing to place herself above other people.  This is not the feminine way. The feminine is not hierarchal and is collaborative, mutual, equal and compassionate. How easy it is to teach about spirituality in words, but it’s completely another level to truly be living and embodying what one teaches. She teaches about love, yet in my direct experience she was not embodying qualities of kindness, love, humility, integrity, sincerity and gratitude. I came to realize that the best teaching, is the transmission of what one is; rather then what they speak about. 

This is why utilizing spiritual discernment in the 21st century that we live is crucial amongst so many people who call themselves “spiritual teachers” and talk about enlightenment. When someone claims to be a holy embodiment of the Divine Mother (isn’t every woman a holy embodiment of the Divine Mother?), as justification for others around her to serve and cater to her needs while placing herself above other people—it’s not right. It’s a form of manipulation to use people around you as personal maids just because they look up to you as a teacher, and then justify it by calling it “seva”. I realized that if a spiritual teacher does not embody humility, integrity and purity—that is not a true spiritual teacher. I realized the deep importance of these three qualities through the absence of these qualities with the teacher I lived with.

She told me that the apprenticeship program would start at the beginning of January once we were in Kauai, and once we got to Kauai she informed me that it would not be possible to do the apprenticeship program, because after checking in with her admin team she realized I have to first undergo a series of private sessions before getting admitted into the apprenticeship program. It would have been nice to known that before I left Germany and travelled to Hawaii. Our original agreement was broken, and I was starting to see through the disillusionment.

At the beginning of our time together in Kauai, she told me that her past assistant and former Apprentice was a crazy and delusional woman, and her current house assistant was also crazy and deluded. Does it come as a surprise what I was foreshadowed to be? The crazy, deluded assistant. Yes, the scapegoat.

In the month we spent together in Kauai, in a beautiful multimillion dollar house she rented, my role was like a live in maid. I made smoothies every morning, helped her move houses after her original house was infested with black mold, I washed moldy clothes, folded clothes, unpacked her suitcase and did a lot of cleaning. In a way, I found it to be a strange situation that I had found myself in. Here I was in Kauai spending more time with her clothes, mold and disinfecting her life;  then spending time related to anything resembling true spirituality, let alone learning anything that was spiritually transformative. 

Anytime I expressed my sadness and disappointment, it was conveyed to others later as me “having a temper tantrum” simply by speaking what I felt calmly. I’ve never been someone who loses my temper, and I felt hurt when I found out she was telling people things that were not true about me, and making gigantic exaggerations. Almost as if, I didn’t have the right to speak my truth and challenge certain things that didn’t feel right in my being. When I noticed something was out of integrity I expressed it.  I was not encouraged to speak honestly, and instead I was put down for it. I was told I shouldn’t ask certain questions and to mind my own business. In the times when I did speak my truth, I was told I was being aggressive, impatient and ungrateful. Those who know me, know I am one of the most gentle beings, and what I witnessed was projections being put on me in order for her to avoid seeing truth that I was reflecting to her about herself.

As I write these words, I have so much tender love and respect for my 26 year old self last year…the young woman who found herself in a rather unhealthy dynamic, trying her best to stand in her power while having an open heart and speaking truth. In the final weeks of January, things became really messy. There were many conflicts around the time I spent serving her, and what actually she counted as “work” hours…for her it was normal to have me wait on her hand and foot all day and not count that as a full work day, since I had time to do what I wanted during the hours spent waiting on her in between her sessions. Her mentor found out about this and told her she had to compensate me for my time, and couldn’t just expect people to serve her without compensation. She couldn’t risk losing her relationship with her mentor, and from this point forward I became the scapegoat and “crazy assistant”.

She often reminded me how grateful I should feel to have this opportunity to be working as her assistant and to have the opportunity to stay in a luxurious house with her. Truthfully, I couldn’t care less about staying in a million dollar house, when the true desire was to grow and evolve spiritually. I wasn’t interested in luxury and would have been very content camping on the beach.

On one of my last evenings with her, she was laying on the bed while she instructed me on how to hang her clothes up in the closet, making sure all the colors were together and hanged up accordingly. She was very good at micromanaging. She told me about the importance of “Seva” and doing karma yoga. She then told me something that I will never forget: “Nicole, aren’t you just grateful to be in my presence and Light? Do you know how many people would love to have the opportunity that you have?”. I was speechless. A silent inner voice within me said “aren’t you also grateful to be in my presence and shouldn’t it be reciprocal and mutual?”. I never said it though. From her perspective, she’s the Guru that everyone looks up to and the world should be grateful to be in her presence and light. I felt it to be a huge distortion and knew that I had to leave.

At the end of my time with her, I started to physically become sick while being with her because of how often she would lie to my face and manipulate. Anytime she said something to me that was not true, I felt pain in my stomach. I was told by one of her best friends that all her former assistants were rather psychologically weak, docile, complacent, had low self esteem and were not connected to their power. It seems the only people who could live with her in the long term were people who were disconnected from their own knowing and power. I intuit that in the past with her former assistants she could lie and manipulate without them knowing, because when she speaks she speaks with a very strong authority.

Being highly energetically sensitive and also strongly psychic from a young age, I am not someone who can be lied to easily. I see through manipulation and also physically feel it as pain in my body. When somebody says something that’s not coming from the purity of truth, I feel the dissonance strongly within my own body. When she asked me why I felt pain in my body after she said something to me, I looked at her in the eye and told her because I knew she was lying to me. With that, she didn’t say anything. It happened so often, that I knew in the depths of my being that she was not someone I could trust.

This experience taught me a lot about spiritual arrogance, spiritual ego and the pitfalls of spirituality. In the weeks leaving the situation and parting ways with this spiritual teacher, were some of the darkest I have experienced. The lies, drama, and manipulation she used to turn everyone against me, worked. Even a friend and mentor in California who was also friends with her turned her back on me after hearing all the drama and lies that were painted of me. I would wake up in the morning in paradise, and feel like I was having a heart attack because of the pain of being talked about so negatively behind my back and the drama was like burning in fire on the cross. There’s been no other time in my life when I was physically having shooting pains in my heart chakra, and no other time in my life filled with so much drama. Even growing up in Canada, I never experienced drama in high school or university. 

Having multiple people hear lies and distortions, and being portrayed as “crazy, arrogant, selfish, lacking humility and having a mental problem” was like living in a nightmare of illusions. In addition, it was said “I should stop expecting everyone to serve me and stop being a Goddess.” Being told this after serving and assisting her for 1.5 months nonstop, 187 hours spent serving in December followed by 133 hours in January spent mainly cleaning moldy bins and clothes was like drinking vinegar. Then hearing that I should go to India and learn how to serve and do karma yoga, while integrating my ego and that I am not ready for real spirituality tasted like acid. I was made into the scapegoat, in order to protect her relationship with her mentor and protect her reputation.

It felt like I was truly living in hell with all the spiritual projections, ignorance and negativity. This process felt like a total annihilation. I would wonder how it was possible for these “spiritually enlightened” beings to be so far from the truth and engage in the most “unspiritual” behavior I have ever witnessed by mature adults. Having spiritual teachers and healers put some strong projections onto me was really confusing, and forced me deeper into knowing myself deeper. I was only able to realize later in the year after much deep self examination and reflection, that my purity was bringing up a lot of darkness and distortions in the field that was present for them. It was easy for them to label me as the black sheep, but what they were not able to do was look within themselves of what was being triggered. It was easier to "push me aside", rather then look at their own shadows that were coming to the light.  I felt that Life had me play the role of the Angel that was demonized as the Devil. A really hard role to play.

When it came time to part ways, I told her I no longer wanted to work with her and have any sessions (I only had 2 sessions in the entire time together for all the hours of work), and wanted to be compensated. She then told me she was broke and couldn’t afford to pay me (she later did, by borrowing money from our mutual friend who is no longer my friend after this situation).

What did I learn from this experience? A lot. It made me grow into spiritual maturity and ripped me awake out of my naivety. I had been naive. I also realized that it’s so easy to think that other people, especially spiritual authority knows more then we do, which is not always the case. It’s easy to give away our power to spiritual authority, rather then claiming that from within. It sharpened my spiritual discernment, and made me see with crystal clarity that not all spiritual teachers live what they teach. There’s a lot of spiritual bullshit in the world and many fake teachers. If I could tell my younger self a message from the future, it would be to feel with your heart what you feel a spiritual teacher emanates…can you feel love? Can you feel truth? Can you feel purity in their presence? The words are just words, and listen beneath the words…to the depth of the transmission of energy. And also look at how they interact and treat their assistants. 

In the weeks after I parted ways with her, I found out that this spiritual teacher told my friend who told my former partner that he was a Saint for not knocking me out, when we had been together in Berlin. How is it possible that a spiritual teacher could say such a derogatory thing? How can anyone for that matter wish violence onto someone? Let alone a “spiritual teacher and healer”? I was again flabbergasted, and felt really hurt that someone would wish that on me. 

My inner knowing was right all along—she wasn’t my teacher and I knew I wouldn’t be with her for a year. It was the biggest initiation of my life to date, which tested my purity, truth and light like no other experience prior. I now know I can walk on fire. I know what its like to burn on the cross and be annihilated. I really felt in some way that this experience was like a modern day witch burning and in someway felt akin to Jesus’s crucification when he was put on the cross.

On some level, my soul must have been calling in this crucification initiation for my journey and evolution. This short period of my life was like walking in veils of distortions and projections, and fumbling for truth in a black sky. The degree of pain I felt in my heart from all the lies, outcasting, manipulation, power playing and so much untruth—ignited a fire in my heart for truth and True Spirituality. Like a phoenix from the ashes of annihilation I rose and it brought me to my true path. At moments during this period of darkness and hell, I often felt like I was going crazy…and at the same time the experience wielded me back into my true sense of self and deepest conviction of knowing myself beyond anything outside myself. I learned to trust myself deeper, and to fully reclaim my self authority. A friend at the time who supported me during this trial, who is in her last year of completing her Ph.D in Transpersonal Psychology said to me, “Nicole, are you really insane or is your environment so deluded?”. We both knew the answer to that.

On some days I would ask myself, who is dying? What can really die? I realized that only that which is not real can die. What remains after the blazing fire is only the purity of the gold that shines with life.

I believe we can die and be reborn simultaneously. Even when submerged in apparent darkness, never forget that we have brilliant wings that allow us to fly in the night sky.

I ended up going on a 10 hour internal vision quest and journey into the sacred waters of Wai'ale'ale at the end of my time in Kauai. I will never forget the drive in the early morning, and my friend was sitting in the front seat talking with our guide on the way into the valley, and all I could do was lay down on the back seat of the car the whole time in silence, with tears in my eyes from the pain of being so maliciously lied about, and betrayed. My heart was burning in pain.

On this sacred hike, I was asking life what my next steps were. The slate had been wiped clean, as my whole projected year had disintegrated in a matter of weeks and it was now a fresh page. In the silence of the valley, I heard a small gentle voice within say clearly:

“GO BACK TO BERLIN AND ACTIVATE THE SACRED FEMININE WITHIN WOMEN AND THE CITY". I knew I had to go. I felt this divine calling and mission very strongly.

Many people around me told me not to go back to Berlin. A friend and mentor at the time, a woman who I deeply admired and looked up to as a source of inspiration was telling me not to return to Berlin and instead I should continue with my education and do my Ph.D in Spiritual Psychology. She advised me to drop the spiritual world for a bit, and go back into psychology and do my doctorate. Even though I appreciated her guidance, the voice of my own soul spoke to me so strongly…the truth that resided within me was so potent and clear, that I knew I had to follow my own inner voice as opposed to listening to someone else. It takes so much courage to live a life where you follow your own inner guidance, and do not listen to others over your own inner knowing…even when these people might be guides, teachers or people you look up to in someway. The truth is that ONLY YOU KNOW what you have to do in this lifetime. Others can point us in directions, yet you must remain sovereign in your own inner authority to your soul.

I went back to Berlin for 1 reason—to share, activate, anchor, embody and ignite the sacred feminine once again. This work that I have been summoned to do this past year, has been infused with nothing less then Divine Grace. I did not choose this work, it chose me. It called to me. It beckoned me to remember. Because it has been so strongly a “transpersonal” calling (beyond the personal self), it has nourished me and ignited within me so much passion, dedication, commitment, discipline, focus, courage, ease and grace. There is something magical that happens when our actions our aligned with the greater intelligence and wisdom of the universe. When we are serving the greater calls of evolution, evolution supports us 100%. This I know as truth.

A holy man in Kauai once said to me, “The greatest gift is to have more of God to work through you. Real work is allowing God to manifest love through you. If that’s not happening, then its not real work. Get to work—that means to go back to God.”

Gratefully, I ended up having a really extraordinary year in 2016. The initiation was the ignition. I travelled from the USA to Canada, Iceland, Germany, Holland, Denmark, England, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, France, Monaco, Greece, and Israel. I did over 30+ workshops, sacred women circle’s and retreats with over 213+ incredible women and sisters from around the world. I attended a one-month summer Yogini retreat with the Awakening Women Institute in Corfu, Greece. I went on a sacred pilgrimage to the South of France connected to Mary Magdalene and also travelled to Israel in a deep remembrance and connection to the Christ Light.

In essence, what I've learned is that when you have the courage to follow your heart and soul, being led by a higher impetus that serves evolution, humanity and all of life, you will be supported. You will THRIVE. You will overflow in all ways and your life will be a living breathing testament of what is possible. Being in service to God/Life/Goddess/All That Is is the nectar of a life infused with grace...not my will, but thy will be done.

And I also realized the Universe has a funny sense of humor. At the end of 2016 I was invited by a dear soul sister to come back to Hawaii and spend time together. As I was waiting on my last layover in LA for my flight to Kauai, I had the premonition of meeting someone at the LA airport who I had known in Hawaii. A few minutes later, I got up to go to the bathroom before boarding the plane and guess who was standing right in front of me a few meters away? Out of all the people on the Earth, it was like one of those scenes of being in a movie….the spiritual teacher who I had spent time with earlier in the year in Hawaii was standing right in front of me. I couldn’t believe my eyes, that Life would have us meet once more like this, by being on the same flight to Kauai at the end of 2016. What are the chances?

When I saw her, I felt love in my heart and compassion…and I gave her a hug. It amazed me that in that moment of seeing her, I didn’t feel any hurt, resentment, or pain anymore. I just felt this strong presence of love within myself that wanted to extend itself to her. There was no thinking of the past; there was actually no thoughts. Just presence in the moment, and the emanation of love within that wanted to also love myself in her. Since we are all reflections of each other, all One Being. I think this was the real test—whether I could come to forgive someone who my mind could perceive as being an “enemy”. I was given a last test by Life, in this situation to reveal to myself how far I have come this year in turns of spiritual transmutation, integration, transformation and awakening the feminine Christ light within. The feminine Christ light is the awakened heart that sees only love, and loves as only love because that is what She Is. In the absence of any mental storey, and knowing only love at the core of my being, I was given the greatest gift—that of resolution, peace and completion.

We didn’t sit next to each other on the plane, but meeting her on this day at the airport did provide another last nudge from the Universe—to write, speak and share my story. And now I did. For those who are meant to read this, I hope you received whatever it was you were meant to take from this piece of writing. It’s taken me exactly a year to write about this initiation and I do feel vulnerable sharing such a personal experience. Yet, I also know that are lives are not meant just for ourselves, when all of our lessons, challenges and initiations are seeds of illumination for all of us on the path of life, to learn from each other and kindle the light of remembrance within.

And if you dear reader, ever find yourself in a situation akin to mine, please remember that the death of darkness is truly the eternal light. And Life itself has a very deep wisdom and intelligence that guides us through the passages we are meant to go through, for the greatest evolution of our initiation after another. Sometimes, with fierce grace.

Spiritual discernment really is "crowning wisdom" on the spiritual path, along with self authority.

Nicole Hemmer