Thursday, June 2, 2011

Religion Switching . . .a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. . .

Maybe I've said this before, but when I was in my early twenties, I decided I needed limits.

I was at the Bodhi Tree, a bookstore of mysticism, religion and of course a little tripe east, west and in the middle.  The sun was setting, maybe I was looking out a window or onto a courtyard, hard to be specific some thirty years later but there was sun and however many miles I stood from its thousand hot tongues I was close enough to its Pacific reflections to feel the distant yet present love of the universe.

Classically inclined, I'd been working my way through writings of the saints west and east. Dope-smoking and contemporary I read Be Here Now (Baba Ram Das) and other books which were great reads at the time and maybe still are.  I was always reading.

But at that moment, that point in flowing time which has no one point in point-of-fact and perhaps no point other than its own silky flow, I knew I needed restraining. I could go anywhere and did, mentally and spiritually and psychically.

You will stay in the west, I said. (I was you.)  That means Christianity, Judaism, Islam.

Note that I was not limiting my reading. Reading cannot be limited. I was limiting my joining. I can't quite say if this transpired before or after my two-year once-a-week training at the Healing Light Center (Rosalyn Bruyere is a real deal aura reader, per the UCLA Dept. of Kinesiology and she just is) or other interests and ventures. It was definitely years before I taught at a Catholic high school.

I'd been trucked over to the Annie Besant Center in high school by my Christian Science mom, though I can't say why, exactly. It might have had something to do with guitar lessons. My Jewish father believed, to his credit, but didn't quite have the gene for spirituality qua place-in-the-heart to hobby I did, my mom did, two of my three sisters did.  (The third sister would not allow so much as a Thanks, You! before a big meal, which reveals a ungene to be respected.)

Hopefully some reader or other is tracking this posting because I cannot figure out where I am right now (in the writing, not my body).  But lifetime-wise, I did stay within Sarah-proscribed guidelines, which were, I admit, partly a matter of style--I dreaded seeing those super serious westerners being so obviously devotee-like when it came to all things Buddhist. That sort of public demonstration of faith has been discredited by luminaries such as Hafiz, Rumi, Jesus, and every single religious person of serious intent. And my intent is serious. God help me.

But also I believed it to be a good idea and though I've had regrets, as a married person regrets her or his beautiful choice when there are so many gorgeous choices, I stayed on track.

Thus here I am, writing this because someone urged a short-lived discussion on a poetry listserv about Buddhist poetry, one of my madeleines (I buy them by them by the dozens) and it got my mind a'wandering. See the problem?

What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. (James 4: 14; not sure which tr.)
***painting by Richard Bizley

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