A Letter to Andy

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OH, Andy; where to begin? Do you even like me calling you Andy? Is there even a you or a me to call or to be concerned with this? Oh, these questions of ours.

I started this blog almost a decade ago while exploring Christianity and more specifically, Christian mysticism.

Whatever one might call it, theosis or Nirvana or what have you, is what I’ve been seeking for any number of years in my life, literaly since I was a teenager.

And I’ve not been very good at it at all.

What’s apparent to me now is that the vast majority of my interest in Christianity and Christian mysticism was ultimately the investment of social capital- I could become Christian, explore mysticism in Christian language, and have an easier time socially by belonging to the dominant religion.

Otherwise put, by being Christian, I could do my thing safely. People wouldn’t question me or my religion (outside of the atheist/skeptic community).

However, and there is the however, I’ve experienced, essentially, hurdle after hurdle with Christianity. First the encounter with Gnosticism, which is great except that there are literally fewer Gnostics than even people of other minority religions, so I spent years with some weird hope of “one day” living near a Gnostic Church without understanding the full implications of all the other complications that would arise in my life in order for that to happen.

I eventually settled on the Episcopal Church after worrying for no reason for literally years. That lasted the greater part of a year and faded away into its own thing- I too easily became entangled in the mire of “But are they doing this correctly?”

Maybe this is my version of the guru telling me to build the same house over and over and then telling me to tear it down and move it a few feet or whatever and then eventually, presto, Enlightenment.

For what it’s worth, I despise that story/parable/whatever the hell it is. Not all parables are created equal, and some of them may be illustrating a point which also still quite wrong.

Also for what it’s worth, in saying all this and leading up to the point I’m going to make, I don’t regret my involvement with Christianity or the Episcopal Church. Andy helped to make that all make sense to me. There were heartfelt and meaningful experiences of Christ and Mary and Sophia.

But that doesn’t excuse or erase the true underlying issue, which is that I had a low self-esteem, a deep need for community and self-acceptance, and that my life generally involved trying to survive in the on-going war with my anxiety and unresolved emotional issues.

And another difficult truth I’ve faced lately is that understanding Ultimate Reality or attaining Nirvana can help one to sort out the psychological shit, but it isn’t, in and of itself, a panacea or psychotherapy. Psychotherapy, working on one’s self, is categorized in a different “training” in Buddhism.

Which is where I’m going with this.

My entire pursuit of Christian mysticism was due to the particularly bad advice of a particular person who’s no longer in my life and never will be again. The bad advice was to pursue mysticism within the framework of my own cultural background.

And this sounds like good advice until you realize that most Christians aren’t interested in mysticism and don’t actually have any knowledge of how the mind works.

Avoiding Buddhism as “too foreign” sounds like a good idea until you realize that enough competent teachers speak English and are able to communicate the Dharma and that there’s a such thing as “skillful means” and that Buddhism has adapted to various cultures for thousands of years and that there’s a whole movement knowledge as the “Pragmatic Dharma” that gets to the nitty-gritty of understanding how to attain Nirvana and that what we’re getting with Buddhism are the “high” teachings and not folk Buddhism (but folk Buddhism has a place and is useful, and I myself would embrace such).

How’s that for a really long sentence?

Moreover, how’s that for the fucking point?

I’m not here to fuck around anymore. I’m not here to listen to someone’s bizarre, highly-theoretical-yet-completely-unproven opinions du jour. No, give me practice. Let me meditate. I’m going to train.

Maybe one could call me a Buddhist; I’m not sure. But I’m going to break out the impermanence or the transience here- it’s time to start a new, different blog. It’s time to get serious. The experiences in this current blog serve to remind me of beautiful, transitory experiences that faded from mind with time.

Things have to change this time on the fundmental level of reality.

So, I’m closing this blog. Or better yet, I’m leaving it up, but I’m no longer updating it; I’m going to start a new one, start fresh, have the break, the “gap” in reality, and maybe that will help me to focus on things.

Thanks, Andy. I want to make the joke, “Andy was Buddhist first! This is all his fault!” Of course, that’s not true; I heavily flirted with Buddhism in high school, but still.

Maybe we’re both being swept along by Reality.

I’m tired of all the gunk.

Time to change.

Steve

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Crone Encounter

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Lately, my practice has been helter-skelter thanks to a barrage of reasons, including distraction on my part by other things that I think are going to give me pleasure and do not.

My meditation last night led me into a visualization of a Goddess, but she was in a Crone form; dark skin and white hair, leading me around a forest. I can’t remember if she imparted any kind of particular knowledge to me, but image-wise, she wore a cloak, and she stood between our ideas of a witch or sorceress and a goddess, and I’m glad I ran into her.

Steve

A Threshold Crossed

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Imagine, dear friends, you have crossed some spiritual threshold, some boundary, in the midst of your meditations, only to have no guidance and knowledge as to what the boundary you’ve crossed is!

That’s what happened to me last night (or more properly, early this morning, right after midnight). A buzzing in my ears, a moment of deep silence of mental chatter, but awareness and ego kept going, yet suddenly I knew had crossed something on the journey but am left without a map to tell you what that could even be.

As I review my online journal, I’m utterly flabbergasted to see I haven’t updated Craving Aletheia in a much longer time than I had imagined, though I have kept another diary, albeit not consistently.

There’s nothing left for me to do except keep on the journey, and at some point, the Grace of the Divine will push me past the final threshold, whatever that may be.

But now my ego has found something, a journey upon which to be taken, in which it will be burnt up just fine, a medium in which I will pour and pour and pour myself until there’s nothing left of me to give and then only the Absolute (by whatsoever name one might call that) will pour forth, exhaustless.

Steve

 

Some on Sophia

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A week or two ago, I had another profound thought about religion, spirituality, and mysticism, which is this: while I can verify that certain maps of Theravada Buddhism matches my own experience, I’m also aware that various kinds of other doctrine within the Theravada tradition are outside of my interest or cultural background.

And the only Reality to which I can attest, the only “Deity” or whatnot that goes beyond conjecture, that I can state is consistent and clear in my mind and in my life for the past ten years is Our Lady Sophia.

The path became so incredibly simple when I decided to direct my full attention toward Sophia. She is not unknown in other Traditions; She is called Other Names, and that’s fine.

That Sophia is a Given to me, that I KNOW through direct experience (gnosis?) that She Is, begins the theological quest and framework for me.

I can therefore reason out that Christ, or the Logos, is the Masculine/Active Expression of Sophia, and that they’re BOTH expressions of a Yet Further Absolute Reality.

I’ve been praying lately, to Sophia, and blessing my home, in the Name of Sophia, and I feel better and more myself than I have in AGES.

So now I have to carry this to the end and unite with the Absolute.

Steve

Phases

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Spirituality, mysticism, the spiral path, whatever you might call it, well…certainly at this point I’m aware I was misled in childhood to think that religion was somehow static.

No, indeed, it is dynamic and fluid, ever changing and morphing and bringing me to greater and greater insight, plunging me deeper as I move through phases again and again.

Which is to say, I’m moving out of the “Pagan” phase and into a Christian phase again.

What am I trying to learn? What am I being taught? I wish I had more insight. I wish I could sit and meditate, but I can’t. My mind is focused and tied up to so much else.

But life is sweet currently, lovely in a way that perhaps only Spring can bring. Maybe it’s the season, or maybe it’s something else.

I want to know.

Steve

And Now, Fullness

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In December, I had the most powerful experiences of Emptiness, and yet…yesterday, I had the totally opposite experience, the experience of an unending FULLNESS of Reality, pushing through and bursting forth with meaningfulness.

The FULLNESS of Reality appeared to me in a more feminine form, and I’m inclined to refer to It as a Goddess, and specifically, the Goddess Aphrodite. This is surprising to me as I’ve had an affinity for Aphrodite previously, but she didn’t seem to necessarily appear directly in my life.

My husband and I went out for a Valentine’s Day date one day late, and we stood by the ocean as the sun set prior to attending a local play. This is where I most strongly felt the power, the absolute FULLNESS and knowing that things will be well, that all is good, that even in the most terrifying moments, Reality isn’t totally horrifying.

I have no idea what’s going on. My Buddhist phase got knocked out- as I predicted it would. It’s not that I’ve rejected Buddhism; far from it, as it seems to guide me and underlie a great deal of my experiences and thoughts. But…just wow.

Worthy to note is that I’ve returned to doing the Tarot Meditations from Stephan Hoeller’s book- this time, however, I’m doing the meditations for two weeks at a time, so that’ll take up most of the year. The goal isn’t to rush through but to sincerely absorb and psychically “build” the paths in the Tree of Life.

Let’s see what happens, shall we?

Steve

Suddenly…

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Another one of “those” experiences is happening as I write this. What does it mean? I’m not entirely sure.

This time, I had a sudden insight into the “now” in a way that I’ve never had before. Suddenly all the talk about senses and sensory input and all that by-passing emotional circuitry makes sense.

This isn’t about forcing myself to my senses- it’s about accepting WHAT IS.

While reading questions about the origin of the universe according to Buddhism, it just suddenly happened- there was a weird sense of, “Why do I concern myself about what happens after death?”

Maybe my fear of death will never go away, but if “die before I die,” perhaps it will.

I do kind of have a song playing in my head (an ear worm, as they call it), but that’s okay. No worries here. It can play all it wants; no reason to get caught up in it.

There are so many more things to unlock, so much greater of an adventure to go on. Going with Buddhism has been the best decision I’ve made in so long.

This gives me the confidence that yes, one day I will attain Nirvana. This is no longer some kind of abstraction but a real, lived experience I’m going through.

God help the people who might one day become my students because on the other hand, I have no idea what I’m doing. HA!

Steve

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