Sunday, June 07, 2015


There is an interesting article in the NY Times about spirituality. It is a good article but it doesn't settle the matter for me.

An old high school friend writes about spirituality: Spiritual Side: Trust God even if you are going through a difficult time - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Columns. I'm not convinced by quoting the bible to prove something, but if you are in that tradition it can prove things. (Ahwatukee is next to the "Wonder Rift", southeast of Phoenix.)

It's not clear whether spirituality is transcendent or worldly. It's both and neither. Is it a force that pushes you away from egoism? Altruism is the road to happiness, so even if you're an egoist, being kind to others is the way to go. Nothing is other worldly alone. Is spirituality expanded consciousness? An inner and outer journey that brings out the best in us? Is it about rooting oneself? I dislike the phrase "higher" power, because it could be below you. I guess "other power" is the form that most appeals to me. That there is something outside you, that you don't know it all. I think sometimes people are willfully against other power out of a misguided self esteem, that they are skeptical of the obviously wrong misuses of religion, and therefore there is no higher power.

I have to say I'm so befuddled by the word. Is it an ineffable feeling that may or may not be connected to something more?

I'm reading the second step in One Breath at a Time: Buddhism and the Twelve Steps. It seems like there's a kind of humbling and trust in things you can't fully understand to explore what a higher power means, "as you understand it."

I reread an old blog post on spirituality. I seem so certain, even though I'm groping in the essay. Is spirituality becoming unsure? It can be sometimes, but sometimes skepticism is pathological in my case. I remember once asking a friend on retreat, "what if there is an uncaused even in Alaska?" How would we know that causality is the one true law? He asked me what was going on? I think I push skepticism too far sometimes, because I think you need to have a reason to push the skepticism. Do I have any evidence there are uncaused events? You can be skeptical about skepticism. So skepticism can be spiritual but it can also be misapplied.

I like the whole "love" angle, because you can be a real jerk and still love someone, so it's a pretty elastic concept. Do we love other countries by creating peace keeping missiles to make sure they stay in their country? Love implies a thinking about the other is a real positive way, not to subjugate them or exploit them.

How do I account for why some Christian hymnals appeal even to this Buddhist? Is it because there's a deeper spirituality that even a non-Christian can appreciate?

I've been reading Circling the Sacred Mountain : A Spiritual Adventure Through the Himalayas. In it Thurman uses the The Sharp Wheel of Mind Reform to explore the Bodhisattva Ideal. There are free translation of this shorter sutra on line. The peacock likes to neutralize the poison of the challenging world, like a Bodhisattva. Thurman thinks about the craziness of the world with it's global warming and wars and all the insanity. Why participate in this world? The bodhisattva thrives amongst the chaos because of their strength, and they share that with the world out of generosity.

A friend did a Ph.D in theology and he talked to me about what we put into spirituality. Perhaps spirituality is what we make it. It is a self fulfilling prophecy. There is an element of striving in it, whatever ideals we strive for. Muslims strive for this, Christians strive for that, and Buddhist strive for enlightenment.

I started reading Mind in Harmony: The Psychology of Buddhist Ethics. As usual Subhuti cuts through all the nonsense and says he prefers to speak about the Dharma life.

No comments: