Spiritual Identification

Taking a leaf out of the book of the magical journal-blogs I referred to last post, I thought I would share something a bit more personal and currently, quite pressing for me.

A continuing question for me is where do I place myself spirituality? To what community, if any, is it best for my unfoldment and service to belong and participate in? How do I identify myself while respecting the traditions that sustain and nurture me? This question is particularly apt now considering both Fr AIT and Emily’s response to my last post. I do seem to be the only one saying certain things about the Golden Dawn and western magic. I know I am not the only one who thinks these things – I know several Christian adepts who also do – but I am pretty much alone in their public exposition.

Essentially, I see no separation between the spiritual, the personal and the political. So it is important where I place myself in the real world as well as the socially constructed world of labels and meanings. What I call myself, what groups I align with or do not align with by choice are important. This is why I am currently labelled on Facebook and by the census as a Tibetan Buddhist. I do not wish to bolster the numbers of and align in toto with the current manifestations of the Golden Dawn or Christianity – even though they both nurture me deeply and I remain in love. A quick search on Golden Dawn blogs will show what I mean (and my last post). As for Christianity…have a look at this site…but only on an empty stomach.

Of course, I know I am kidding myself here, and only buying time a little. There is much wrong and dysfunctional in the broader Buddhist world, as in any community. It is only that the importation of Buddhism to the west has been undertaken largely as a conscious choice by educated westerners which makes Tibetan Buddhist communities more functional than most. I imagine in Tibet and elsewhere there are many dysfunctions. The whole sad distortion of the Dorje Shugden affair where people have been murdered shows this clearly. And recently at work I was talking to a native Burmese Buddhist who insisted the reason I was a Buddhist was because I had a red mole on my chest, like ‘all Buddhists’. I politely told him I had no mole, but he insisted I did. I reiterated my position, upon which he started trying to pull up my shirt to prove he knew more about my body than I did. He took a bit of fending off I can tell you. I think he left convinced I was not a proper Buddhist and was trying to hide the fact. Native, exoteric believers of any persuasion can be a weird bunch.

At present though, the little enclaves in the west, populated by mature, intelligent westerners who have come consciously, not through upbringing, to Buddhism later in life, are nice places to hang out. Much better than the average lodge or Pagan circle. I do however resonate with the thoughts of Al Billings, a Zen Buddhist ex-Pagan who writes how his pagan buddies are more alive, vital and fun that his Buddhist chums. Apart from the actual teachers and Masters of course; I can’t imagine a more alive and fun person that Lama Zopa Rinpoche or HH the Dalai Lama or Ven. Thupten Lodey.

Knowing that alignment with any spiritual community is imperfect and sooner or later the burgeoning Tibetan Buddhist community will make me cringe as much as the Pagan (it has in parts already), where should I place myself? It is an unanswered and ongoing question. 🙂

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One comment

  1. Suecae · November 27, 2009

    I had such a hard time trying to take in different religous teachings trying to find what was right when I first began my journey.

    There was a sense of freedom when I after a long time stopped identifying and trying to fit in. And began after even more time to practise religion after a personal regimen.

    Seeing how the likes of Karen Armstrong among others advocate that religion is all about practise I take some comfort in my personal conviction that identity is and will be about communication and not the essense or the heart of religion.

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