Thursday, October 3, 2013

The Spirituality Coin

I'm slowly trying to wean myself off Facebook and plan to stay off for a while; way too much time was wasted on it. Too many selfies, political posts, and cat memes. And yes I'm aware of the irony that I posted a link to this blog on Facebook - the key word in the last couple sentences was wean. I'll get back on, but I needed time to do something different. So Facebook has been replaced by more reading. Sadly, I haven't done much in the past few years. It makes me feel dirty admitting that. Reading (and the subsequent thinking it inspires) have been my passion since I was a little weirdo.

Most recently, I've been reading a series of poems by the Buddhist philosopher Tai Sheridan, Ph.D. They're called Buddha in Blue Jeans and I highly recommend them - especially since they're free on Amazon Prime. Buddhism speaks to me for several reasons. The Buddhist view of and relationship with death fascinate me. Primarily though, I love that Buddhism fits within any other belief system. You can be a Mormon Buddhist or Jewish Buddhist. Buddhism is a way of thinking that leaves the specifics up to the believer, but keeps one focused on the core elements of any belief system that actually matter. This concept got me thinking about the specifics versus the core of spirituality. 

I think we all know the douchebags in any religion are the ones that forget the core that binds us all, and get caught up in the specifics that separate us. Whether you're Mormon, Catholic, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, or follow any other philosophy, you can still be an asshole. Or you can be a nice person in any of those faiths as well. The choice is up to the individual what they make of their spirituality or faith. Just as life and death are two sides of the same coin, I think spirituality has two sides - wisdom and self-righteousness. 

Douchebaggery arises when a person has landed self-righteous side up on the faith coin. Self-righteous people believe they have the answers that no one else has figured out yet. Self-righteous people aren't able to let others be happy another way. I think it's because they've convinced themselves the specifics will achieve absolution, but deep down they know it isn't true. I think they react by becoming afraid of things that stand outside their specifics, because it exposes the specifics for the absurdities they are. Human beings are inventive and there are endless ways to believe what ordinances/paperwork you need, who you should or should not love, what is a sin and what isn't, and which scriptures you should adhere to.

On the other side of the faith coin exists the wise. A wise person believes no one has all the answers but that the life-long pursuit of answers matters. A wise person is comfortable letting others find their own path, enjoy their own happiness, and make their own mistakes. I think it's because they understand that some of the specifics are confusing, but don't have to matter if we all live to the core of our spirituality. I think they know loving each other is most important and can discern which specifics only distract from that.  

I don't think I'm either and also think I'm both. Lord knows I'm guilty of being the occasional douche nozzle. Just like the life/death coin, we can't have wisdom without occasionally facing our own self-righteousness. We can only hope to recognize when we're lying self-righteous side up and have the courage to flip the coin. In the end, a wise person is one who accepts a level of uncertainty so they can focus on the human bond - and a self-righteous person invents their own certainty to separate themselves from humanity. 

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