Tuesday, April 29, 2008
In life, and especially spiritual, religious, or philosophical life, you have to keep your wits about you. You have to use your intelligence and intuition to guide you in terms of what you decide to believe. Just because someone tells you that you’re wrong, doesn’t mean that you are wrong, and vice versa. You have to be vigilant, whether you’re listening to the Pope or Oprah Winfrey, Creflo Dollar, Billy Graham, Deepak Chopra, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Robert Schuller, Dr. Phil, Jeremiah Wright, or your mother. And you have to be especially attentive and discerning when watching the combination of manipulative propoganda, tabloid trash, and current events that has pervaded our media landscape. For this, I do have to take some responsibility, since my first job in 1989 after a decade of living a monastic ashram life was editing for a brand new tabloid show called Hard Copy, whose success then set the stage for our current gossip-obsessed society. For that I apologize, though not as much as I apologize for helping to unleash Suze Orman upon the world. For Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers and X-Men, no apologies.
I always tell people that you have to be a good editor on the spiritual path, and it seems that Barack Obama was doing just that in his church attendance, although perhaps he wasn’t thinking carefully enough in terms of political strategies when he chose this church to be his family's community. Still, when it comes to matters of spirit, you can't let others guide your steps away from what moves your heart. I learned this after leaving my atheistic family and university studies to spend ten years living a monastic ashram life.
Since that time, I’ve enjoyed experiencing houses of God of various denominations, including some political ones that said some fairly outrageous things. One pastor was talking about how the disastrous tsunami that had just hit India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, and Thailand was clearly God's way of bringing Christianity to the east. As he said, "Can you imagine? These people are so primitive that they worship elephant gods!" I thought, well then, you probably wouldn't like my chanting and devotional singing page, which has a devotional chant to Ganesh.
Anyone on a journey of spiritual discovery will encounter some strange ideas being put forth along with the beneficial ones -- if everyone who disagreed or took offence with something said in their place of worship were to walk out, we would surely have many empty houses of worship -- although I do have concern about someone with spiritual power using words like damn together with America, because it suggests that they don't understand the power of their position or words. Sometimes a bit of spiciness helps to loosen the attachments to this world, but it seemed like the pastor's teaching was not moving parishioners above the world, but down into the mud of it all. I do accept that someone else may have a different view and purpose in speaking in a shocking way as part of a spiritual revival type gathering, however in general, I prefer that ministers inspire us to sing God Bless America, and of course God Bless the Whole World -- whether or not a disaster is taking place.
Now Jeremiah Wright has been intoxicated by a taste of fame, coupled with a perceived feeling of betrayal from Barack and others. He's not one to go and sulk in a corner -- this man is a preacher, and if he's got something to say, he's going to say it. In this way it seems that Obama may have misevaluated him the same way senior President Bush misevaluated Sadam Hussain, not realizing that to them, their personal honor as they define it is worth everything -- their purported missions and even life itself.
And the irony is that in the end, it is Jeremiah Wright who may play the largest role in "keeping the black man down." Proof once again that we ultimately become whatever we meditate and focus on.
From Spirituality For Dummies:
Being a good editor
It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.
One secret to benefiting from spiritual teachings is this: Be a good editor! Drink the nectar and leave the dishwater. Eat the peanuts and throw away the shells. Use the good film footage and cut out the shaky shots. Choose and digest what makes sense and rings true and leave the discards respectfully in a bin for possible future consideration.
You have to be a good editor when it comes to reading and hearing anything in life, but especially with spiritual teachings. Be open-minded, but not naïve. The greatest teachings often come along with other ideas that appear to be less than great. However, if you completely avoid these teachings because you disagree with certain elements, then you may miss out on some of the greatest spiritual guidance for your spiritual journey.
Be careful about reading health books. You may die of a misprint.