Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I Could Take Beliefnet More Seriously If...

...well, the picture says it all.

I tried reading it many times but it always seemed to swirl down to celebrity gossip, myriad riffs on the Law of Attraction, and canned "debates" (doctrinal hairsplitting ... other people's sex lives...) ...

...though damn it if today, as I surfed the site for the first time in about a year, there wasn't a story in the Hinduism section about my beautiful Mother Kali--rare for this site and as if put there to say "get off your high horse, son, there's people needs this stuff." The article's author, another avatar of Attraction, makes the very valid point that to invoke Kali is to say, in effect (I'll use his wording), "I want true spiritual advancement by the most powerful and direct route, the consequences to my ego notwithstanding." You're standing in the storm, holding up the big metal rod, asking for a boost... about the hear the resounding cosmic Yes.

So thank you, Mother, for nudging me off the horse (thankfully not with lightning this time), but is it still OK if I ask--why all the celebri-porn on a site that's meant to "help people ... find, and walk, a spiritual path that will bring comfort, hope, clarity, strength, and happiness"? Do "the hidden health secrets of lemons" do any of that? How about Beliefnet's "Hot Topics" for Sunday, June 28, 2009: Michael Jackson * Mark Sanford Affair * Farrah Fawcett * Jon and Kate...? How much hope and clarity am I going to get from that freak show? I get the concept of ministering to the spiritually needy in their present, broken state, blah blah blah and yeah, Christ was down there in the dives with the publicans and sinners... but I bet he wasn't urging them to get all stalkerishly obsessed with Caesars and gladiators.

It's always hard for me to find the line between legitimately having (not to mention voicing) an opinion or falling over into either hushed-up nudnikism or blociferous blowhardism. I have the ex-fundamentalist's horror of sermonizing, the rhetorician's fondness for the joust--the high horse--and the Vedantin's conviction that the words don't matter, that all paths lead to God, and that, in the words of Sriharsha, "all propositions can be made to appear ridiculous." I therefore often want to smite, yet just as often fret that smiting is for the unevolved, those falling down on the spiritual job. Ever since the Coming of my Guardian Angel, the biggest bolt of vidyut-shakti ever sent my way, I've felt newly and strangely emboldened to speak my mind, yet I've never lost that sense that ... whatever stupid crap people might be into, it's workin' for them, and if it ain't workin' then too bad because it ain't my job to save anyone.

And... OK, great. Now I'm reading "My Childhood, My Sabbath, My Freedom" by Michael Jackson, writ exclusively for Beliefnet in 2000, and I'm overflowing with compassion for the f***head. Thanks, Kali.

And now [I'm not saying any of this for rhetorical effect, this is really happening!!!] I'm looking at the "Crunchy Con" column, long in my mind a locus of idiocy, and I'm agreeing (mostly) with it!!! And the Con is waxing eloquent about the Himalayan challenge of loving deeply vs. the dimwit laziness of letting the small self drive the bus-- in one guise or other, the very seesaw on which we all totter in a world of maya and bling.

I'm too harried to look it up, but both Crowley and Ramakrishna talked about a state in which the second you step off the path, God socks you one upside the head. Instant karma... I kind of hope I'm not in that state-- I'm not on the shores of the abyss yet... but Kali is dealing with me on this whole spiritual pride thing, again, and I thank Her. She'll do it again (and again) until I straighten up and fly right. But--in true tantrick fashion--I want it both ways. I want to fondle and sniff that Martha Stewart Italian Cream Cake, and gobble it all up, too. I want to be Shiva, I guess--Her lover, Her creation, Her ecstatic interlocutor-- I want a hand to wield the trident, a hand with which to bless, a hand to touch the Now like Raphael's Aristotle and another hand to point to the sky like Plato. I guess I do have all these, to the extent that I allow myself to, to the extent that I perceive each moment and each irritating person not as fitting into some category but as divine... as Her... or if that's too hard, as a wave in the storm of Her unfolding, as a filigree of glorious maya embodying Her beauty, Her supreme evolutionary energy by which even "Religious Kitsch" may vault us to heaven.

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