RESHAPING SPIRITUALITY II: South of human nature

Chances that humankind will ever part with artificial paradises are bleak. Most men and women live the most painful, most monotonous, poor and limited lives, so the desire to escape, to transcend this, just for a few moments, is and has always been one of the main desires of the soul, said Aldous Huxley.

There is no reason to assume that between the 13th and the 20th centuries the human mind underwent any major structural change. Humanity simply focused its attention on other aspects of reality. In this sense, when there is a little will, countless possibilities open up, on many levels of existence.

Humans are capable of a wide range of doings, from extreme imbecility to sadism, from Mein Kempf to Vivaldi’s Seasons, from mullets to quantum physics. This is because we have yet to know who we are and why we are and because we don’t realize that there is a spark of divinity in us. Maybe that’s how one could explain wars, alongside the criminal and savage ways so consistently associated with human nature. But with a little bit of luck, we can be saved, by coming into contact with the Godness that already dwells within.

We can be saved by returning to the eternal essence and rest where we were in the first place. At a global glance, we may notice so many differences, culture-wise, perception-wise, differences concerning the way we feel or believe. But are they indeed true or do we have to dig a little deeper? Is everything an illusion?

What I’m trying to say here is that most of the time, even though we’re facing issues in realizing or we refuse to believe or to accept this, we are constantly being guided by a deep, inherent and intrinsic religious side.

Speaking of, Woody Allen once said in one of his stand-up routines that the hardest part of being married to an atheist was deciding which religion the child would NOT be raised in. But that’s just good old Woody. It’s been a few weeks since his autobiography has been published, by the way. Apropos of nothing. That’s what it’s called.

I find it mandatory to make a distinction between what I consider to be the two great aspects of religion, viewed both from a conceptual perspective, but also from the perspective of the practical and immediate applicability.

In my opinion, the positive aspect of religion is spirituality and the negative, ugly, combative, condemnable is made of bigots. Religion is being seen as a big industry, as a norm, as “must” or „to do”. I’m aware of why anyone would reject this idea as a whole. In the following, I will, of course, refer only to the positive side of religion.

I’ve always been amazed by how the great minds of this era have been drawn to the Eastern approach of religion, drawn to mysticism and esotericism. As an orthodox practitioner, I always refused, with unwarranted fear, to read or look closely at things from the “other” side. Or things that didn’t fit in the dogma. However, I couldn’t help but wonder what Burroughs, Arthur Schopenhauer, Hermann Hesse, Jack Kerouac, and Huxley, found so interesting here.

One thing led to another and then, I came to realize. I lingered on the story of Saint Francis of Assisi. For those who do not already know his story, Giovani Bernardone (by his civil name), was the son of a very wealthy merchant from the city of Assisi. Luxury and parties all the time. Just think of total, full-blown hedonism. That is until he decided to give up everything and dedicate himself to a higher goal. To God and His creation: the people. “For if any man will want to be greater than his fellow man, he shall be the  very least of them all.” 

This phrase caught my ears because I was almost certain I had heard it somewhere else. This, and also the main way of securing his income is very familiar: begging. Do you know who St. Francis reminded me of? Buddha. That’s right, the first Buddha, Siddharta Gautama. Prince, beggar, and finally, saint.

The divine foundation of every single existence is a spiritual absolute, inexpressible in terms of discursive thinking, but susceptible of being understood and experienced by the human being, organically.

Maybe now, more than ever, we need to forget about barriers and nuances. We need to understand this and get along with our lives. I don’t think that there will be another warning sign shortly. The time of radical change must happen. What better place than here, what better time than now? We need to be better right away. Not tomorrow, not for summer vacation or Christmas. Better we do it now. And from now on.

Ok, let’s loosen up a bit. Here’s one of the funniest jokes I’ve ever read about religion, summing up my whole exposition. It has been written by the comedian Emo Phillips:

Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?”

He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?”

He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too!”

Northern Conservative†Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

Yeah, I’d like you to remember this. And that Jesus didn’t take shit from squirrels. God, I hate squirrels, they’re the worst…  

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