Saturday, November 26, 2011

the gag reflex

Today, a frisky friend sent along a droning disquisition about why religious/spiritual individuals and organizations should not speak ill of each other. There was an encouragement to support and feel joy in the efforts of another.

I agreed with the suggestion ... and it made me gag.

Serendipitously and simultaneously as it seemed, another email in the same mailbox wondered whether, when a spiritual teacher, however flawed, had put heart and soul into a lifelong practice ... well wasn't this deserving of honor and praise? Wasn't this better than some beer-swilling couch potato whose efforts and intentions were utterly self-serving and blatantly ignorant?

And again I could see what the writer was talking about. I too have done such things ... but that too tickled my gag reflex.

In spiritual effort, there is (sometimes) an encouragement not to speak ill of others. No bad-mouthing ... something like that. And together with that no-bad-mouthing, there is (sometimes) an encouragement to support and nourish and delight.

My question, and gag reflex, probably boils down to this: If it is a bad idea not to speak ill of others, how is it possible that speaking good is not a similarly bad idea? This question may be intellectually satisfying ... but it is probably emotionally repugnant. My own inclination, for example, is to speak well of others, to encourage and support them. It feels better.

But are intellectual and emotional yardsticks the basis of an actualized spiritual peace? I seriously doubt it ... that would just be more of the same, more of the uncertainty that led anyone to a spiritual effort in the first place, more beer-swilling on a comfortable couch, more mediocrity in a life that deserves a complete enjoyment. Altruism is nice ... but the question remains ... is it true?

If blame doesn't work and praise doesn't work, what works?

To my mind, this is a question that no one can answer.

But you can.

1 comment:

  1. I always took it as a responsibility to point out that someone was about to step in a cow pie. I'm pretty confident they wont enjoy cleaning their shoes afterward. But if they insist it looks like an attractive way to go, pretty much have to let them.