Web Mistress and Spiritual Curmudgeon explains her position as a doubting devotee of the Divine: “At once I still believed and still questioned, unready to plunge into the ocean, but not needing to pull on my running shoes either….That’s the only constant in my spiritual experience. The more I think I know, the less I really know.”
I often find myself shaking my head in dismay at adherents of certain spiritual schools of thought.
“That’s not where it’s at,” I think, as they worship statues, saviors, forms, the formless.
“Not where it’s at,” I judge, upon hearing the flowery language and fatal flaws of various teachings and practices.
“My God, that is SO not where it’s at,” I fairly shout at those who ignore misdeeds and abuses in favor of “the purity of the teachings,” or “their inner experience.”
Then I find myself doing and following all of the exact same things that I think aren’t where it’s at.
It’s not easy being a spiritual curmudgeon. Just when I’ve got it all licked, believe in nothing, have had enough of the ego trips and the contradictions and the holy wars within and without, then, pow—the heart cracks wide open; I have a great meditation when I thought I’d never be able to sit again; a special moment with a teacher I’ve made a second career of doubting; or an experience of deep peace, as lifetimes of sorrow suddenly fall away for no good reason.
Recently I spent time with an Indian holy woman who appears to walk her talk; I enjoy her programs and soak up her love like a sponge, but I had long ago vowed I was through with gurus. One night, as if talking straight to me, Amma assured the audience she was not our guru, but our mother. I said to myself, “Okay, great, so I can just enjoy this without getting involved.”
Amma read me like a book. I received personal blessings from her, getting exactly what I needed. As I sat in meditative bliss, someone asked me to attend a quick meeting regarding plans for Amma’s visit next year. Caught open and off-guard, I agreed.
The meeting was about P.R. and fundraising, who was doing what and how much, praise and blame. I meekly suggested that if we acted out of love, as a community, everything would work out. Little Mary Sunshine-ananda. I was virtually ignored.
I returned to the main hall to watch Amma bless others. I felt great again. Then she said something harsh to a follower who devotes many hours of service. The woman looked crushed. I doubted again. What had I really received? I checked in with my heart; it was still full.
How to make logical and rational decisions about pure or impure, real or unreal? At once I still believed and still questioned, unready to plunge into the ocean, but not needing to pull on my running shoes either.
That’s the only constant in my spiritual experience. The more I think I know, the less I really know.
Vedanta says, neti, neti—Sanskrit for not this, not this. But if not this, then what?
Perhaps the question itself is where it’s at. If nothing else, it leaves open the possibility of something, somewhere…even if I haven’t found it just yet.