Saturday, May 18, 2013

Hedonism and Big Juicy Good

New Journey Moon

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and I have become
like two giant fat people living
in a tiny
keep bumping into
each other
and laughing

I joke that I gave up vegetarianism after college to become a hedonist. Little did I know how fruitful of a spiritual path hedonism could actually become. Over the last year or so I have allowed myself to indulge in all manner of earthly pleasures gastronomic, aesthetic, carnal and ecological. To my surprise and delight, I have found that these joys are not a diversion from spiritual pursuits but have been a yellow brick road leading directly to the Divine Wow.

Ascetic traditions ask followers to rise above the sea of emotion and physical sensation that are a leading cause of suffering. “Suffering rises from attachment to impermanent things,” the Buddha says. Monks and seekers from traditions Eastern and Western have been encouraged to abstain from certain foods, intoxicating beverages, the entanglements of romantic relationships and even the sensual pleasures of art and music for fear that they will dull or distract the soul from its journey towards God With a Capital G. In my experience, the unencumbered mind can soar to intellectual heights in this kind of pursuit. But there’s not much laughing there. Or ice cream. Or roasted duck, champagne cocktails and two hour make out sessions. And honestly, who wants to live in a world or go to a heaven without those thing? 

Indeed, those things have not stopped or distracted me from my connection with The Eternal Bliss. As my focus shifted a few chakras down over the last year the realizations are no less real or even less abundant, they are just of a different kind. Just the other night, while lounging contentedly, I said to the gentleman sharing my bed, “The Buddhists say Namaste – the divine in me greets the divine in you. Right now I wish there were a word for ‘the loving in me greets the lover in you.’” But there are no words for that kind of thing, just a squeeze, a kiss, a smile and knowing that this is All Good. My experience mirrors that of the Sufi understanding that all love, all pleasure, is a practice run for the love and pleasure we find with God. 

The renunciate’s ideal of detachment offers one path to the Kingdom of Heaven where we hurt no more. Radically deep connection is another way. In nature there is individual tragedy – the mouse must die for the owl to survive – but the web of connection keeps the mouse, the owl, the Fir tree, the fungus and everything else in Harmony. Rather than floating above the waves of emotions and physical sensation that are the root of hurt, this body and connection based search for That Which Is Wonder, invites me to dive into the ocean of life. There is pain and grief there; water up your nose and sand in your shorts. Feeling certainly causes a lot more tears than thinking, but that can’t get in the way of experiencing Big Juicy Good. “I don’t want to hurt you,” he said to me once. “Well, there’s heartbreak at the end of this no matter what,” I replied, “’tis the human condition. Let’s not be afraid of that, ok?” The only way to feel ocean currents on your skin, to feel your heart ready to burst at the beauty of an azalea bush the size of your bedroom, or to experience the pleasure of a salumi plate and a crisp pinot gris on a warm spring evening is to dive in rather than float above. At least get in the boat with us  :)

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Yes, it has been a long time since I've posted. My life has been very full of doing and not so full of writing. But I try. And so here is a piece I wrote recently that shares a little of what my life is like these days. Hope you enjoy it, but more than that, I hope you are enjoying your own journey.   

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New Journey Moon 2011: Perseus and the Journey Moon

New Journey Moon 2010: Journey Moon is New

New Journey Moon 2009: Journey Moon

1 comment:

Roxanne Packard said...

I firmly believe that there are many paths to the divine. I think that even someone who others think of as a deviant can be walking their own path towards God - whichever God he or she chooses. I agree with you so much :-)
Have a happy day,