Thursday, June 30, 2011
Western Spirituality: A Joke?
"I'm so fucking present, I'm like ahead of my time."
"One hand clapping, fuck that, yo!"
"It's so dope when I focus on my breath."
"I'm the sickest Buddha and I'm kickin' Buddha butt!"
"All these mother fuckers trying to hate on all my serenity!"
I am ridiculously proud to be an American. I felt that way every Christmas when my father would make us celebrate his home country's Christmas and eat Norwegian Smorgasbord. Thank you for coming to American, Thorvaldsen family! I'll take In and Out over pickled herring and lutefisk (don't ask) any day!
That being said, a huge country with lots of resources isolated from the countries of origins is kind of like a teenager moved out of mom and dad's home. He at first enjoys the freedoms and doesn't consider having furniture or decorating or even saving for retirement. Hell, he wants to par-tay! Eventually, the establishment of a government and elected officials, currency, and industry makes the now free child become a bit more adult-like and responsible, like having a child and being married.
But somewhere in America's adolescence, we like to go home to the mother country, bring back vintage heirlooms and then proceed to paint them red to match our crib.
So it is with our spiritual practices: We customize a spiritual practice to suit our lives instead of customizing our lives to suit a spiritual practice.
We take a concept like Buddhism, Kabbalah, paganism or Taoist practices and modify them into something new and fresh. It might work for mom's old antique dresser, but it doesn't necessarily fly with spiritualist practices.
Yoga really wasn't intended to be something one goes and does for an hour after work in a window-lined gym with the heat turned up to make you sweat, so you think you're living the trials of some ancient practitioner.
It intrigues me how Kaballah bracelets became the "in" thing with the Hollywood crowd as if wearing one might magically empower you, even if you don't practice the mysticism behind it.
Meditation is one of my favorite chuckles. I know people who practice meditation when they are under stress and then put it away when they are distracted by life. They do a 5-minute meditation and feel that just hit their reset button and now they can get on with their day.
Not to just knock just the new-agers, but Catholics and other religions like Judaism know the same issue; the ones who join in when they have a baby or get married and then go missing the rest of the time. Yet they still call themselves Catholics and Jews.
So, is spiritual practice a noun or a verb? Does one need to practice regularly, even in good times, to prove a commitment as well as to keep up a skill set? Ideally, yes.
Spirituality is an ongoing process in which one walks the talk and lives it daily. It's through that sacrifice and discipline one matures. It's like life: We lose a job and learn how to budget, how to jettison the unnecessaries, how to work hard to find a new job, how to network. Then, we get a new skill set that makes us better able to survive, we mature rapidly. This is what a good spiritual practice does; each day we take the time and attention and put into it, we find an inner core in ourselves, an overriding message that "I can count on me, I will always come through, I will always be able to handle whatever comes, I am not afraid of commitment or focus."
So, next time you decide to try on a spiritual practice, remember it is seated in a deep history and that history needs to be studied in the context with which the practice was born. It would be like asking someone to be Christian and not study Christ's life. It would make no sense to them. Learn it, be patient with it, commit to it, live it, breathe it, relate it to everything you do from relationships with others to your relationship with yourself.
Spirituality is ultimately the means by which you view your relationship with yourself, others and the universe.
I am reminded of Karate Kid. He didn't just learn to fight. He learned how to live. It was never about the fight, but it was about how he related to himself through daily sacrifice, practice, hard work and focus for any goal.
**At 3 pm EST expect to see a post about whether zombies are feasible. Be ready tomorrow for another Candlelight Tale told by me, a Nightvision bikini shot (hey, it's informative), and Lonely on a Friday Night.**
at 3:30 AM