Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Permaglow Spirituality

Generally I view myself as a happy grounded person. Fifteen years ago I began to meditate in the Himalayan tradition. I’ve taken spiritual pilgrimages. Each night I light my alter and say prayers. My life rife with spiritual experiences. My career enjoys accomplishments and success.

In my marriage and personal life, I have attended counseling and classes to make me a better person. There are scars that show you the trials and tribulations I have gone through, coming out the other side after spending time to understand and overcome my issues.

While I am not perfect and not proud of my failings, I take pride of what I’ve done since then to mitigate the circumstances that led me there. I challenge myself to grow as an individual. My life constantly changes, I learn new ideas, philosophies and tools to help me better myself. I value each and every one of my friendships, new and old.

Last year I became an Oungan Sur Pwenn, a Vodou priest in the first stage of priesthood. Next week I will enter couche to emerge Oungan Asogwe, the last stage. One road ends, another begins. Another discovery of what it means to be Asogwe.

So tell me what I’m doing wrong?

I see people of other faiths and traditions who just seem too happy. They walk around with smiles fixed upon their faces and seem to be surrounded by this glow – I call it the permaglow. It’s not limited to one path or tradition. Some are Christian, some are meditators, other paths turn them out as well. They just seem so – happy. Too happy. They make me uneasy. I just can’t take it.

When I think of myself, I believe I’m a warrior. That must be the problem. The scars I have are real. They show the places I’ve been, the battles I’ve fought; the struggles I had to face, often within myself, sometimes with others. I am proud that I overcame so much that kept me from developing personally. But do I have that smile? That glow? Hell no.

Not everyone is the same. Some people are just made that way. The thing that grates on me, I often feel some of these people are trying to pull a ruse. This permanent smile upon their face is in some silent-film non-verbal communication way of proselyting their religion, beliefs or path. I just don’t buy it. Where are your scars? What are you hiding? Where’s your pain?

Listen, I hope I haven’t put you off. That certainly isn’t my intention. We are all different, I sign myself up for the more difficult path. It’s my bed, I made it and I fully intend to sleep in it. It’s so foreign to how I’m made that it comes off feeling fake to me.

I’m the one who asked for it dirty. I’m still facing my demons. I’m proud of it. It lets me know where I’ve been, where I’m at and where I’m going. When I look at that peaceful smile and that glow, I don’t get angry, I just can’t relate.

Maybe this is the failing on my part. I’ve done the pilgrimage. I’ve done the silence combined with intense meditation. I didn’t find peace, I found Kundalini. In my case that is the opposite of peace.

The truth be told, when I get down to it, I am also not looking for it. It’s the last thing I want. I play pool. I sit across the table from my opponent with my hand playing Euchre. I will look you straight in the eye and try to relate – honest empathy.

If you are one of those who has this – and you know who you are – I am happy for you. I may look you in the eye and wonder. Are you for real? Are you really that at peace? Are you one of the enlightened ones? Or are you just trying to convince me that you are.

There are people, when I look it seems – real. They do seem genuine. They may have found that peace. Those are not the Lwa I follow. They are not my path. I love you, more power to you. Peace brother.

If I ever do find that peace. I will not smile with that glow of affection. I will look at the world and laugh. I’ll laugh loud, boisterously. I will laugh a bit too long. I may even point.

At this point in my life, I claim I am the sum of my parts. I am the man who stood his ground in the shakedown. I stared down men in India who looked at my wife the wrong way. On some things, I am immovable.

When the moment comes, that time within breaths, when Kundalini grabs a hold of me, when I’ve found that point between the back of my nasal cavity and my brain, the point where I truly feel I am me, I will not be at peace. The smiling crowd may feel sorry for me, but I will not feel sorry for myself. I will be there, betwixt and between it all, stuck between time and between worlds, saying my prayers, my mantras, feeling all and nothing – and then it will be gone. Gone like I am from my pilgrimages, gone like I am lost from the here and now, gone and back to my other self. This self that writes. This self that is priest. I will guide others. You won’t see me smiling, but you just may hear me laugh.

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  1. "So tell me what I’m doing wrong?" What is 'wrong', and what makes you think you're doing it?

    "I sign myself up for the more difficult path." It's worth considering that some of the people who walk around in a happy stance may have difficult -- even more difficult -- paths. Even folks that seem to be just acting happy may be doing this to keep their psychic footprint light on others.

  2. Charles, my conclusion is I don't think I'm doing anything wrong and I definitely wouldn't change anything. I like who I am.

    You do raise a good point. People can have a difficult path, no matter how they appear to be. I shouldn't judge. First, I believe genuine smiling makes people sexier and more pleasant to be around. The only think I worry about is the smile that isn't genuine. Then I feel like the smile and everything the person shows me is maya -- illusion.

  3. Personally, I think if you aren't struggling, you aren't growing. Maybe those with the permaglow *have* struggled, and are still struggling, and smiling in spite/because of it. But if it's a smile of blissful ignorance, I don't see that as helpful at all.
    I'm all about the "dirty" spirituality. Keep the faith, brother! :)

  4. Never had I had a more contentious post. I am still getting wonderful feedback with many valuable points of view.

    I certainly value the principal that there is more than one path. Some find the peaceful bliss, others don't. I am one that doesn't. I've been practicing meditation for twelve years now and it churns up more than it causes bliss. There is no comparative here. To say what I've found is right or wrong and what you've found is right or wrong just simply can't apply.

    There are many different types of people, many different roads, many different ways of being. My post wasn't meant to poke fun at, demean or belittle those that find the bliss I write about, either through ease or much difficulty. It was meant to highlight that it is not a destination or waypoint for many, and that's alright.

    I appreciate the dissension and discussion. Keep it coming. This post seems to have stirred something worth talking about.

  5. Urban, I love the authenticity and straight talk in this post of and appreciate the warrior intention expressed in it. It's a great post that really sparks deep thinking and gives permission for others to be real too.

  6. Hi Urban I find right what you wrote somewhere in that post: There are those who are genuine peaceful and happy and we do not know if they do struggle, have or had struggled. But there are also those who are just not real ~ it is that not exactly natural smile on their faces I think. Whatever the reasons might be. But what I find really remarkable about your post is the fact that you state how you would be. How do you know? In my experience we change constantly and we react often quite different to situations than we would have thought before. I have undergone so many changes and sides of me came out that I never would have expected and I always said:" I would never be like that" So one of my life lessons are: "You never know" :-) but that is probably just me. Be blessed I enjoy reading your blog very much!