Is it true or is it just too much imagination --
Spiritual settings strike me as places (when they're any good) in which people can at last address the secrets of their lives and not be penalized for them. Outside a shrink's office, I can't think of another setting that offers such a possibility.
Usually, for whatever reason, the secrets remain contained and constrained by the social demands of anyone's life. No one wants others to think less of them or to portray weakness or to put on display some 'bizarre' desire, so these matters are relegated to the dark of night when whispers whisper. "Who is God?" "What (credibly) happens after death?" "What about the occasional desire to murder a spouse or children?" "What of the deep regrets that refuse to be silenced and yet find no outlet?" "What about the memories that can eat you for breakfast?"
In the newspaper office I used to work in, occasionally there would be editorial discussions about using language that nuns might find offensive. My argument was always that if there was anyone capable of understanding such language and failing to be surprised or disheartened by it, nuns would probably be a group who knew their shit. Spiritual settings posit a way to become 'good,' but becoming 'good' requires a willingness to admit that, just at the moment, I am not so 'good.'
I guess I was thinking about this because a woman sent me an email asking about when she might come here to practice meditation. I wrote back giving her the information she wanted and then lapsed into an ill-defined reverie about how 'good' people can try to be when entering a sanctuary that posits 'goodness,' but is filled with participants who are not so 'good.' A lot of people play 'good' in such settings -- not an entirely bad idea -- but when such 'goodness' is used to paper over the interesting stuff, the whispering stuff, the hidden stuff ... well, hell, what good is that? If 'goodness' is the only option, what sort of honest sanctuary -- what kind of honest goodness -- is that?
I like to think of spiritual settings as places where, at last, the well-corked genie can be let out of the bottle. Let 'er rip! That's a pretty nice offering, to the extent it may be true.