Wednesday, May 05, 2010

The Unbearable Weight of Lightness

A spiritual journey is likely to bring up many questions. Probably more questions than answers, at least initially. And my favorite way of crossing a moat of confusion and questions is to swim harder, faster, and more directly. Which usually means more meditation, more reading, and more time alone.

And that, my friend, is the manner in which my spiritual journey has frequently snuck up on me over the years – has quickly swung from comforting and inspiring to overwhelming. Or overbearing, depending on how you look at it. It starts one day with some kind of spiritual insight that urges me to seek out a book on a particular topic like, say, “agape,” or to seek out church for an hour on Sunday. But then quickly snowballs into an urging to meditate three hours, twice a day, every day; do sunrise yoga for an hour every morning; go on a cleanse every week; fast for one week out of each month; wear only organic clothing; eat only organic foods; give up my car in favor of bicycling everywhere; give all of my money away to charity; study every single book written by Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chodron, and Eckert Tolle, not to mention the classics like “Autobiography of a Yogi” and “The Bible.” And then, on the weekends, I can get to “A Course in Miracles,” and Dr. Wayne Dyer’s and Deepak Chopra’s books. That is, if I’ve finished Joseph Campbell’s “The Hero with a Thousand Faces” and Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ “Women Who Run with the Wolves” by then. Oh, and don’t forget, as I’m on my way out the door to volunteer at the soup kitchen, to pet the cat and then stop at the ashram and sign-up for that six week course on celibate-tantric-tai chi. ‘Cause let’s face it, if a little spirituality is good, then a lot of it must be really good. Right?

Um, no you big bodhi – buddha – doo-doo – head. As in all other things, spirituality too requires balance.


Immersing oneself in spiritually, by, say, joining a monastery, is admirable. But if we all did that, how would we have discovered the internet, and bubble tea, and skateboards, and what about all that sex that’s to be had in the somatic world? Not that monks and nuns don’t participate in many of those things, or that they can’t invent or evolve such things themselves (which they have). It’s just that many wonderful, fun things that make living on this planet the breathtaking adventure that it is wouldn’t exist if all the majority of us ever did was sit around pondering our navels and questions like, “What’s the sound of one hand clapping?” And, just they are likely to exist in the somatic world, Type A Personalities abound in the spiritual world as well.

Which is the trap I sometimes fall into (more frequently than I like admitting) in my own spiritual practice. And so it was that I recently found myself in the position of having to remind myself to get a life already! I forced myself to schedule activities with friends – real, flesh ‘n blood, perspiring, masticating humans – to get me away from all the gods, spirits, and fantasy characters of the astral. Because when Tinkerbell the fairy becomes more real than Wendy the little girl, it’s time to seek conversation that requires verbalized words (and not thought forms) and nourishment that requires biology (instead of light). Like a day paintballing. Or throwing pottery. Followed shortly after by a scotch on the rocks.

Ommmmmmmm... cheers!... ommmmmmmmm...

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