Friday, December 18, 2009

Not spiritual the way they mean it...

I think the word "spiritual" is a great word, provided that it's use be confined to what the word originally came from: having to do with the spirit, i.e., the "life principle" of human beings, and yes, to the religious aspects of furtherance and cultivation of this life principle. Taking religion as the cultivation of a discipline in support of this life principle, one can indeed be spiritual without all the nonsense (note to self: write a post on bowing and how that's not nonsense.)

But too often people want to make the spiritual into something else, usually with much darker aspects. Among them an appeal to "the spiritual" might be an appeal to empower narcissism or another means to control people. I don't want to say too much more but similar ideas go through my head when I read this and this blog, and I can cite literally hundreds of other examples throughout the net. I don't know the subject of the blog personally, but I suspect from what's written there that there's a great deal of stuff that needs to be dissolved away, in much the same way as lye can be used as a means for dealing with the dead.

I practice in the Zen Buddhist tradition because I have personally found that taking refuge in this manner provides refuge, and allows me to provide an iota of comfort to those I am sharing my life with instead of no comfort at all, when I make the effort to be mindful enough to do that. I don't have time for grand schemes (beyond what I'm paid to create). An older guy at work said, "At this age, all the news is bad..." That's not quite true of course; at his age grand kids' growth events, and kids career events pop-up. But all the medical news about one's self isn't particularly good after a certain age (I'm not there yet), and as a practical matter it's good to have a game plan so that not only is material comfort preserved, but so is one's sanity.

Having said all that, I do have to agree with Shinzen Young that the practice of mindfulness and related activities does give one an awareness of being in the midst of the sacred. But it truly doesn't do a damned thing to change your status or you in life one smidgen. We have to work at not being a jerks regardless of whether you have or have not experienced enlightenment.

So please don't try to peddle any ol' Kosmic Debris as "spirituality." There's too many hurting people out there, and you could be hurting yourself with your own cure.

And besides, you're not going to capture the sacred for anyone else, so try not to pretend you "have" something they don't.

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