Hey. Hi. Here I go again.
I have dabbled in various faith traditions for a pretty long time, looking for meaning. I am a person who wants to crack the code of life, who wants deeply to understand. It is an innate desire in me, one that has never gone away. I have always asked questions in a way that is unashamed, yearning to know what it means to be human.
As Hamlet says, What a piece of work is a human!
Although Hamlet is kind of a cynical, pretentious asshole. Grrr.
A few years ago, what lit me up was an opportunity to study Shambhala Buddhism, and the words of its leader, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism from the east to the west, forming a small community that eventually grew. I even visited Colorado because I was inspired by his energy and teachings, and realized why that was such a special place for the spiritually curious and spiritually aware. (If I have to stay in this godforsaken country long-term instead of France, it must be in the southwest, and likely Colorado. Those mountains….)
So the thing about Chogyam Trungpa is that he was controversial and provocative. When you read his words, you know you are in the hands of an enlightened thinker, someone who just knows through and through the trials of life and the way out of them, and who has worked the angles of Buddhism to create a new, vibrant, and sustaining way forward. But he was in no way conventional, which was why his group was small. He was married, but he had intimate relationships with others in his cohort, both women and men. And he was a drinker. Apparently that guy had quite the predilection for an after-work apperitif. And yet he would speak in amazing and transcendent ways before people, opening them up, teaching them about the ways of the human mind, even after a few glasses of wine.
Fuck your judgements, ay? A spiritual teacher is a spiritual teacher, and if he’s good, he’s good, and this guy is good, and maybe our western ways are not always in tune with movements of the spirit, and there are other ways to live. You just cannot know, totally, what’s right for you if you are limited and narrow in your thinking, and refuse, out of fear or dogma, to explore all corners of the room of this life you have been given, or at least offer up your explorations to the divine for sincere guidance. I mean, you don’t have to explore all the corners. There may not be time, you see. You may, like me, have children to care for, and a living to make. But God has given you all you need to uncover and understand, and will continue to, and you don’t need to go seeking outside yourself to find grand experiences. If you show your commitment and your interest, and you take actions in alignment with that, opportunities will present themselves for your betterment naturally, easily. Because my sense, in my own meditation work, is that there are multiple levels of being we can function on, depending on how deep we want to go. God is fucking deep, and there is no way to reach the floor of that ocean, so no matter how deeply you explore, God is going to be able to meet you there and show you an inch or two more. But if you want to float on the surface, and you’re really committed to the surface of things, and you’re really insistent that you don’t want to find any other way to live other than what certain people tell you is true and right and the way to go, well, then, you’ll just be greeted with surface after surface, until you get tired. And maybe you’re an expert at distraction! Maybe you’re an expert at stasis and dejection! Well, my lovely, bravo. It takes balls to stay that hard.
(It takes balls to stay that hard. Hmm. I gotta think about that one a bit.)
Anyway, so Chogyam Trungpa was a balm to me in many days of riding to work on the train, and he still is when I open any page of his books and begin to read, because damn, that guy knows things.
But I remember in my studying of various faith traditions that people like the Dalai Lama and even the Shambhala Buddhist guys (they’re all guys! Isn’t this so frustrating for you, as it is for me! Yeah! Let’s do something about it!) all said, you don’t need to come crawling into India and Asia to find meaning. Just study Christianity. It’s all there. All the same stuff.
And I was like, Phooey. Just phooey. Christianity is for those angry balding white guys and those blonde women with nice teeth who live in the middle of the country, and I am a cool person. I am really, really cool and unique. Christianity, my ass. I want to listen to people who are not white and Republican and carrying guns, you see.
And that was a really good argument. It lasted for a long time and it was a valid thesis that I got the chance to explore.
It’s just that I learned, eventually, that all those eastern guys are right. I mean, I don’t fault you if you study Buddhism, I frickin’ love Buddhism, and I’d love to study more of Islam, and Jewish people are some of my favorite people in the whole world and their traditions always warm me intensely, but I can also find all the same inherent meanings here, in the teachings of Jesus. He just, like, knows everything. And the further and further in depth you go, the more he is able to meet you and meet you and meet you, and give you understanding. It’s not that I couldn’t be a happy Buddhist. I just like this guy, my guy. Or more than like, I love. I like, really really love. J’adore, as the Parisians say. Because I feel his energy, and it is so fucking sweet and warm and encompassing, and once you know a being of such infinite gentleness and grace who is always, always there for you, it would just be stupid to turn away.
Do I sound like some evangelical? I always knew I had an evangelical in me.
And so what I’m talking about, essentially, is peace. Do you want peace, and what sort of thing is peace, and have you ever had it and known it, and did it go away?
Peace doesn’t mean you have no struggles or challenges in life. It doesn’t mean all is quiet around you, or that you have no fluctuation of emotions, or that you’re sitting on your ass all day, blissed out. Peace just means you’ve put your demons to rest, the beasts that hold you back from living in your light and thriving in your potential. It means you’re no longer at war with yourself, because that annoying yucky sticky part of you that holds to fear and woundedness has said goodbye. It means you love yourself, and you know the infinity of Divine Love, and you know you are a channel whom Love flows through, and you are committed to your own growth and any necessary unraveling that comes with change, and that’s all there is, and you stop worrying so much.
Life is not fixed through worrying, see. Worrying happens. You’re human, and living in faith and love is quite countercultural. Some days it’s really hard. But no matter, you get through, because you are like Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita, the spiritual warrior. Fires are raging, chaos ensues. And yet inside you is your path, your knowing, your practice, your commitment to growth. Your resolve to do what’s right, what is your duty, and let go of the outcome. This is all the good, good soil at the root of you from which you bloom, and help others bloom.
So you let go, instead of grasp on. It does not mean you stop wanting things, or that you are lazy. Letting go is a very hard practice of transcendence and renewal. It simply means you admit, and practice, and submit to the fact and the reality that you are not in control. And that means you become the purest version of yourself and open so that the Divine Healer can work through. You turn to HimHer and say, You take over, please. I’m not doing so well. I fucking suck.
And the Divine is like, Lordy, thank you, finally and she whips up all kind of magic, and then you get to witness and live in it, and experience all other kinds of goodies, too, like Mary Poppins showing up with a magical bag.
I have barely scratched the surface here. I think I may need to write another book. Writing is so much fun. And I also love talking. Talking is the best.