Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Who the Hell You Callin' Spiritual?!


...been trying to be more ayurvedic...or something...in my sleep habits...more Ben Franklin, at least...early to bed, early to rise...all that...though a staffing crisis at the rehab where I tutor reading and writing on Tuesday nights led to their asking if I’d have any interest in taking some late night RA shifts...in charge, for the most part, of people who are asleep...pushing the envelope of even the most caffeinated yogi by brewing a pot of coffee at 11:00 PM...then spending the night reading...savoring the irony of listening to Amy Winehouse in such a setting...and writing this...

...read a post at Laura’s blog about awareness...left a comment to the effect that it probably said something about my (lack of) awareness that I’d just then realized the blog in question was sub-titled Creativity Is a Spiritual Practice when all this time I’d been reading it as Creativity As a Spiritual Practice....as it turned out, Laura recently changed the name...so, for noticing it first, she awarded me the beautiful tree-doing-vrkasana (tree pose) photo above, writing, all-too-kindly...strong of heart and mind, grounded, with deep spiritual awareness (whether you like to admit that or not). You remind me of this tree...

...thing is I’m not at all sure what spiritual means...though pretty confident I don’t want anything to do with the more popular definitions...neither that old time religion nor the new age....don’t get me started...

When one loses the deep intimate relationship with nature then temples, mosques and churches become important.
J. Krishnamurti

Remember, the only time Christ ever got angry was when he went to church.
Father Thomas Doyle

...recently, though, used the word once or twice when no other seemed to fit...not, actually, to describe my near-fanatical yoga practice...nor meditation...nor sitting watching the sun set, legs hanging down over the north rim of the Grand Canyon, listening to Coltrane’s Love Supreme through headphones....not to say those aren’t all really good...

...actually, tongue loosened by a half pitcher of margaritas, was talking about some of the work I’ve been doing...teaching creative writing to homeless men...not long ago, college English for maximum security prisoners, and working with them to start a sadly-now-defunct on-line magazine...as well as tutoring women in recovery, most of whom have been in prison, too...labeled incest survivors, crack whores and unfit mothers...dispossessed...despised...

....basically, if you think about the worst case scenario for your life...the kind of shit that scares you so much you won’t be able to sleep or do much else if you think about it too much...people and things you count on tumbling like dominoes...comfort, security, any sense of worth or belonging turning to a handful of dust along with faith and hope and any attempt at maintaining a positive attitude...leaving a misery and emptiness you’d rather die a thousand times than have to face....they’ve already been there...and now are working on finding a way back....and generally speaking, I’d rather hang with people like that than some officially holy type who talks humility while eating off a golden platter...

...sure, to work with these folks involves empathy...compassion...all that lovely yogic shit...but it also helps to have a dark sense of humor...see the sublime cosmic absurdity in all of it...and to see no conflict between the two...




*cross posted at Elephant Journal*

15 comments:

berenice said...

dear Dr. Jay, you are so prolific is hard to catch up with you, love reading you though, your Krishnamurti
& Thomas Doyle are right on! as usual... as you, i do trust much more the 'darker' humans, those who have been to trouble and are trying to come back to the lightened path (whatever that means) ignorance is NOT always bliss... personally, i had a couple of experiences, bad ones but not too shocking while younger which i do NOT regret, i learned so much from them! and i really admire people who have been so down and try to get out of there now, i guess in my case it helped being raised in a huge city like Mexico City and have been to the UNAM, the Autonomous University in Mexico City, where on your right you had politicians sons and daughters and really wealthy people (who went there only 'cause we had the best professors and arrived with a driver, body-guard and limousine, and to your left really poor people who couldn't afford another place, who barely spoke Spanish, and still spoke the native tongues...) ALWAYS you were to trust the poor people much more, as always happens, also i trust well-read cultured people which is not always the rich pampered people... anyways, you already said all that

on the black sense of humor, yes!! an attitude that works wonderfully as life is rather organic, ironic, and unexpected! as a mexican woman said once: 'joyful that who can find the beauty hidden
in the uncertainty of life' (that's me) and well, here from the Buddhist quote of the day that appears on my iGoogle page, this passage so lovely!

The greatest achievement is selflessness. The greatest worth is self-mastery. The greatest quality is seeking to serve others. The greatest precept is continual awareness. The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything. The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways. The greatest magic is transmuting the passions. The greatest generosity is non-attachment. The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind. The greatest patience is humility. The greatest effort is not concerned with results. The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go. The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances. - Atisha ...

Namaste Dr. Jay!

Kitty said...

you are a trip. i wonder if we were separated at birth, or if perhaps we just come from the same realm? just blogged my ass off about ayurveda in Indianapolis... thanks for all that, especailly a tree doing vrkasana! Peace, kitty.

Eleanor said...

hiya Dr. Jay, I've been remiss in blogging and responding. You are a model blogger and I want to take a leaf from your book!

Peace and love

Eleanor

yogayoga said...

Wow. This is....beautiful...open...humorous...honest. Thank you for your thoughts. I have to say a lot of what you said really resonates with me (especially the whole "spiritual" discussion....I'm not even sure I have a working definition any more. Come to think of it, I'm not really sure I ever had a working definition in the first place. My two cents on the matter: "religion" got to be too scary so we needed a new word to use in reference to divinity/pure potential/the basic human experience.....???

Anyway, thank you!

Lisa
Yoga Thailand

yogayoga said...

Also forgot:

In regards to: "I’d rather hang with people like that than some officially holy type who talks humility while eating off a golden platter..."

HEAR HEAR!!!

earthtoholly said...

Ahhh, Laura's photo and words to you are beautiful and deserved, drjay.

I'm with ya on the don’t get me started, however, ya got me started. I can't imagine that any superior being, if one does indeed exist, would expect us to do anything other than just take care of the Earth and ALL beings on it. I mean, isn't that what life is all about, striving to be caring and compassionate to all we share space with? God or no God, that seems fundamental, and I'll go on that assumption until otherwise is proven to me. I really don't think the big picture is all that complicated...just follow that Golden Rule. Guess that's my "spirituality." I rantle now...

And I love those quotes.

How inspirational the setting for writing this post must've been for you...

Melinda said...

Jay--great post. One man's spirituality is another person's joke--that's also true. For example, some people have strong beliefs in the Catholic faith but I have a strong sense of humor in the Catholic faith. My husband (as he calls himself) is a "recovering Catholic" and we find a lot of humor in their mistakes (and this is some dark humor too--considering what's been going on).

For me, spirituality is in standing high up on the ridge in the Bridge Mountains of Montana. But to other people, it's just a mountain. How and where we find our (peace, spirituality, religion, serenity) varies based on our experiences, beliefs, and our expectations.

Melinda

Brooks Hall said...

Yeah, Jay, as a long time reader of Yoga for Cynics I see that you have your roots touching the earthy aspects of humanity, sometimes the dark clouds are roiling overhead... Laura has it right. Fuss over semantics if you want, and just keep doin' what you are doing!

And I can understand being angry about the use of the word "spiritual" when it is used to ignore the real problems in our world.

That tree does a great tree pose!

It's A Yoga Thang said...

"I’d rather hang with people like that than some officially holy type who talks humility while eating off a golden platter..."

I too agree and this also needs to be a Facebook Status update. :)

Laura Hegfield said...

Thanks Holly and Brooks...I was feeling bad about my use of that terribly difficult to discern and impossible to concretely define 9 letter word I called the good doctor-I think "spirituality" is a really vast word...and is sometimes used to separate "certain people" from "certain OTHER people"-it can turn people on, open them up or completely shut them down and piss them off...and in my very personal (and how could it be otherwise with a word like this) undefined (because I don't think it's possible to put boundaries around this word which might be part of my attraction to it) understanding of this controversial word and my intention in wielding it (quite freely, but not without thought) and YIKES, I suppose stabbing Dr. Jay with it...is, what was I saying? Oh yeah, spiritual beings...are ALL beings...trees included!!! It's not just for "religious" people, or "new-agey" don't get me started either people...in fact it is a word I use to describe extraordinarily grounded, ordinary except for their enormous compassionate hearts that lead them to doing the work "on the ground" ...the sacred tasks of caring about and for other people, and all of the earth...and um...I still think YOU qualify for this "title"...sorry if I pissed you off though dr. jay...sheesh.

ps. I changed the name of my blog from Creativity As a Spiritual Practice…to Creativity IS a Spiritual Practice…because I noticed lately that the word “As” feels like a step away from my experience…the doing, being aligned within spirit/breath/ BEINGness…that’s what art Is for me…visual, written, musical…being in the flow, the stream of creativity Is a bridge between the corporeal and the ethereal-that in-between-impossible to define space. For me, art is an expression of Spirit…art making, Creativity, Is a Spiritual Practice…a meditation in motion…like yoga…when practiced with mindfulness.

the management said...

Thanks everybody for your comments, here and at Elephant.

Laura: who you callin' pissed off? Seriously, sorry if I gave the impression I was pissed off. I took everything you said as a compliment, and knew you meant it in a positive and non-objectionable way, and am grateful to you for it. Actually, I almost always take it as a compliment when people describe what I write as "spiritual"--which has happened a lot since I started Yoga for Cynics, though it's a laurel I wear somewhat uneasily. Your "whether you like to admit that or not" just got me thinking about why that is.

And, then, the rather combatitive title I just thought sounded funny...and was meant to be self-mocking if anything. So, sorry again if it came off as personal or angry.

jehannie said...

man, you're the man! I agree completely about connecting with those who have been through tough times and are now trying to find a way back. They are far more interesting if you ask me!

thanks for being way cool!

namaste

Laura Hegfield said...

I seem to have developed tendonitis or some kind of over use injury in my left wrist and hand...making typing painful for me...so I might not be blogging as much for a while... this includes commenting on your amazingly inspiring blog-and this is soooooo hard for me. (this is kind of a form message I've typed and am copying and pasting at all my favorite blog hangouts. Sorry it must seem completely random in relation to your post) I can still read your posts- I will be present to you in a quiet way-reading and viewing your words and images, and leaving a simple ☺
to let you know I have dropped by and am thinking about you.

Gentle steps,
Laura

ps...thanks for forwarding this message from the management to me this morning...made me smile and feel much better!

Lydia said...

Beautiful post, Jay. And I love the quote by Doyle.
I saw this bumper sticker on a car in my town last week:
Instead of being born again, why don't you just grow up?
Hear!Hear! to that and all you said here here.

nothingprofound said...

Great post. I really admire the work you do and your "spiritual" honesty.