Ely, MN -
I’ll pick up where I left off some time ago, in two respects. One, as a continuation of my “spiritual journey” as described in my post on Vipassana meditation. Two, as an exploration of my second motivation for travel which was to test a theory: What would happen if I abandoned all anxieties, agendas, and personal ambitions and simply remained open to whatever arose, trusting that the universe would cooperate in supporting and leading me wherever I ought to go? The following is an attempt to draw together some observations about the religious and spiritual practices I encountered in the various places I visited, to place them in light of my own experiment in risking unqualified trust, and to make some effort at beginning to articulate what I think the whole spirituality/religion thing comes down to.
The Story so Far – The Varieties of Religious Experience – Now It’s Getting Personal – Fruit – I Think It Goes Like This – Drawing Pictures – The Analogy of Color – Ego – The Politics of Identity – True Spirituality – Practicing Grace
A Brief Summary of the Story so Far or “Stop me if You’ve Heard this One Before” (and skip to the next section)
I was raised as a Charismatic Lutheran- a curious combination of staid traditional Lutheranism and hands-in-the-air speaking-in-tongues Pentecostalism. Those were powerful years for me, full of hormone-driven teenage angst, passion, idealism and many undeniable experiences of the numinous. As I went on to college, a series of personal crises challenged my fundamental beliefs and values. The assurance of faith began to falter, and I came to identify myself as an agnostic. I started exploring some of the secular philosophies I found most interesting such as Marxism, feminism, and various strands of what was then called postmodern critical theory. I also, for a season, developed a strong interest in the writings of Carlos Castaneda (about the same time I was dabbling in hallucinogens). But I was decidedly unhappy. I was plagued by depression and mental anomalies. The combination of intense critical introspection with the powerful discipline of drugs so disrupted the conceptual foundations of my reality that I found myself in a kind of pure state of negative enlightenment. I could find no foundation for meaning anywhere. I was desperate for some framework that could serve as a justification for my own existence, but I found none. Everything deconstructed. Ground zero. Continue reading