You know the old saying, “Cut off the finger that points to the moon?” Wait, is that it? I know it has to do with a finger and a moon. Giving the finger to the moon? Don’t look at the moon? Don’t look at the finger. Pull my finger. Smell my finger. It’s something about a damn finger! Wait, I got it, “If you see Buddha standing in the road pointing his finger at the moon run him over.” Dammit! That’s not it either.
Herein lies the crux of this post.
Whether having to do with a finger or murder, I know there is some sort of heaviest of duty message in there somewhere. But I refuse to go down the rabbit hole for fear of digging all the way to China, the very birthplace of Zen Buddhism and something I followed for decades after relinquishing my Catholic card. Call me lazy. Call me cowardly. I am simply at a point in life where I realize it doesn’t matter. Don’t get me wrong, wanting to reach a point in life where suffering no longer exists is admirable. Who wouldn’t to wake up each day happy and free without a care in the world? I did with the endless book readings, meditations, retreats, YouTube video viewings all espousing in one way or another how to reach that blissful state of satori, enlightenment, awakening. A smorgasbord of spirituality with a side helping of language loaded mumbo jumbo to choose from. This was my life for far too long.
Now if you’re thinking this feels like judgment, you are correct. But what about “Judge lest ye be judged?” I’ll take my chances. I am passing judgment not on you, rather the gurus, teachers, priests and all those spiritual yada yadas. You are free to do whatever you want spending your hard-earned money and limited time on this earth. I have simply reached a point, which happens to be past middle age where I have less time to sit and stare at a wall for hours on end hoping against hope that I will get some sort of epiphany, realization, enlightened moment where all the answers to everything anyone has ever known comes to me in flash.
My mantra used to be, “I am entitled. I have put in the effortless effort.” Now it’s, “Whatever!”
Bitter you say? Damn right! Is that a form of suffering you might ask? Damn right. But this is all part of the deal–Suffering that is. Life is suffering in the myriad of forms that come to us during our lifetime. Suffering is bitterness, anger, sadness, jealousy, pain (physical and mental). Pain in the form of loss, whether of a loved one, marriage, pet, even an object. But wait, aren’t you supposed to not get attached to any of these the “spiritual” people would ask? My answer, hell yes, attachment is part of the deal, as is letting go when it’s time.
I am admitting right here and now for the very first time ever in a public sphere–My name is Allen and I’m a spiritual addict. Phew! What a relief to say that out loud–Well write it out loud. This has been building over time with signs along the way. No not GOD’s voice or the guru or the Zen monk I occasionally pass by at the nearby temple on my way grocery shopping. Although that would be a damn cool story. Imagine if I were passing the local temple and along comes the brown robe clad monk with his head so cleanly shaven and shiny the reflecting sun blinds me for a moment. He then says something profound like, “Don’t mistake the finger for the moon.” I am telling you with those words I would still be stuck in my addiction and begin following him espousing praise and devotion until I reached either enlightenment or emptiness in the form of an empty bank account.
No, my realization was far more mundane than that, which makes complete sense to me. Life is mundane and on a rare occasion it is not. This all came to me in the form of interactions with people. Mostly friends and one in a slightly more dramatic fashion. I have known it was time to admit and let go of this constant search but didn’t want to admit it. This whole spiritual journey is a never-ending act. I found myself in judgment and putting myself above others without my even realizing it because I was stuck in my oh so loving kindness act. Emphasis on act. Acting a certain way rather than being my true self, as they say, which is kind, loving, generous, open hearted AND angry, selfish, egotistical, and closed minded. I am all of this and more! Go figure.
Sitting at the local coffee shop with friends after a bike ride one day, one friend out of the blue posed some “existential-like” question and it was off to the races with the two of us dominating the conversation flavored with spiritual verbiage. Then one of the other friends not involved said, “Listening to what you are saying makes me stressed out. I just ride my bike, farm and enjoy a good meal.” While that wasn’t enough to stop either of us in our tracks it did strike a chord.
Lately, I had been pursuing a slightly different path in search of the answers by listening to teachings on YouTube. In the throes of my spiritual addiction, I was on fire making connections and getting oh so close to the answer–connecting is easy when you are desperate. But after my friend’s comment about cycling, farming and meals, I felt something inside pulling me away and stopped reading, listening and even meditating. The final death knell came in the form of a book. Of course it did, I love words and when written well I pay attention.
I am not here to promote the book, but if you are an addict of the spiritual kind check it out (I need help). Coming across the book as a recommendation on Amazon, I had sample pages sent to my Kindle. After reading a few I knew right away this was my ticket to punch out of this draining, narrow-minded, costly never-ending journey of personal suffering whenever I wasn’t happy. Little did the Amazon AI know that by suggesting this book they would no longer be draining my wallet by purchasing these “spiritual” books.
Of course, the constant search was not easy to give up. I had built up 30 plus years of momentum, and to step out of that never-ending river took time. “What’s wrong with me,” I would ask myself. Sit more, read more, listen to YouTube videos more, go to more retreats? I’ll be dead sooner rather than later and it’s time to get out of there and accept by no longer accepting.
Many of you will not agree with this statement, “Religion, spirituality all of it is a racket meant to entertain and make money all under the guise of making you feel like you are happy.” They talk, you do the work and pay the money, whether a book, a retreat, a video whatever tickles your fancy. Backlash is swift. Writing something similar in a social media forum someone followed up with, “It’s better to have religion to combat the porn and gambling industry that are ruining societies.” What they failed or chose not to realize is the number of people who have died in the name of religion (all types) over the last let’s say 200 years. A simple google search will give you those answers. Now compare those numbers to porn and gambling.
I am not here to sway your opinion one way or another. All I will say is that I can be direct, egotistical, bitter, angry and all the shades of the spectrum from both ends, but mostly in the middle. And that is the place where I tend to care less.
Wait! I got it! “Push Buddha over the cliff while he’s pointing at the moon.” Yes, that’s it! And I will do it again and again and again if I have to.