Friday, July 26, 2013

Discreet Spiritual Agenda

I have a group of old friends who live on the other side of the earth. They're awesome guys: smart, loyal, funny, witty, successful, lively and kind. I hope they are well and I hope to stay their friend until the day I die. We were open minded about many issues growing up: race, class and the label of religion. But we were closed minded about others: political viewpoint (anything other than center-left liberal was unacceptable) and talking about religion (call yourself a Christian or Jew, just don't talk about the details of either over a beer or you'll clear the room). We never used to discuss spiritual matters at all. I didn't hear about Terence McKenna or Ram Dass until I was 26. I thought meditation was only done at the end of yoga classes. Weed and shrooms were escape hatches from the pressures of school, sports and general expectations rather than doorways to unknown and magical realms of the mind. In fact, for a bunch of jam-band loving, dope smoking, free love wheeling young dudes, we were rather spiritually phobic, gnostically bigoted, even.

You see, I've lived overseas for a total of five or six years with no immediate plans of moving back. And while here in Japan I have had a lot more independence of consciousness. There has been room for my spirit to stretch its legs, to poke its head over the hills out yonder. Just because there are temples and shrines dotted across every town and city nearby isn't the reason I have grown spiritually either (Disclosure: I still have a long way to go, and  always will). From what I can tell, the main reason I have grown to be a modestly spiritual person is because my conscious mind has been isolated, broken free from cliques and peer pressure, however subtle and warm they once were, and I have been able to explore my inner self while riding on the trains, while meditating in the one room apartments, while hiking through the low-lying mountains, and while jogging through the emerald green rice fields. I have been able to see the world through foreign eyes and have come out on the other side a completely different person than the success-driven suburbanite I once was.

The dilemma I'm in now has to do with the discreet spiritual agenda that my mind has in tow. Consciously, at the surface, I have no agenda and I will keep practicing for myself and I will tell myself that the fruits of my practice will nourish those I come in contact with every day, however subtly, affecting real change however slowly. Subconsciously, though, my conscience is screaming at me to reveal my awakening, however slight, to those friends over there on the other side of the earth, those friends embedded in new cliques like fossils deep underneath calcified layers of bedrock.

But I will not evangelize. I will not preach for I know the effect that will have. I'll be no different than the Mormon missionaries that come rapping on my door. My friends will close the metaphorical curtains when they see me coming down the block. One forward of an Alan Watts clip will have the opposite reaction than intended, pushing them away from the mystic, inching them closer to the atheist fundamentalism that is growing larger and larger in mainstream society. I've asked myself what to do over and over again and a voice from deep within me has repeatedly told me to stop ruminating over it and to get creative.

But get creative how? The only way I know how to be creative is to write. I will write fiction faceted with jewels of spiritual wonder and beauty. My discreet spiritual agenda will manifest itself in the pages that trickle out of my imagination. And when I have mastered my craft maybe then I will affect real change in the ones I love, the ones whose hearts have been connected to mine by impervious invisible strings, over vast distances, for all these years.

If you're interested in creativity and secular spiritual practice, check out AJ Snook's Mindloft Podcast (also available in iTunes
). This music by Steven Halpern  also works for me.

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