Not for the first time, I feel the glow of good fortune this morning: How just plain lucky I have been to hook up with a spiritual effort that, like a good mom, threw my ass out the door. Not that Zen Buddhism is the only such format and that therefore everyone ought to follow its directions, but just the good fortune to have found a spiritual persuasion that, of its nature, is built to throw its adherents out.
How fortunate such spiritual pilgrims are.
And how unfortunate are those whose persuasions, like some stereotyped Jewish mom, insist on keeping their offspring at home. That is apostasy in my book -- hypocritical and cruel and plain wrong -- but I don't imagine anyone would be stupid enough to read my book.
Today, a friend sent along an essay entitled, "Is the Church and Addictive Organization?" The essay makes some compelling arguments to answer the question in the affirmative. Human beings have addictive tendencies, both chemical and psychological. Basically, any pretty good thing can be turned against itself in excess. I apologize that I did not read every word of the essay, but I read enough to imagine I had caught its drift. Yup ... spiritual effort can be as imprisoning as it can be liberating and screwing the pooch is a much-exercised and much-loved human skill.
Is there anything beloved in life that does not invite anyone in, ensorcel them, inspire a period of vast zealotry, enfold as softly and firmly as a spider's silk ...? I don't think so. Stamp-collecting, sex, motorcycle maintenance, spiritual life ... same stuff, different day. Hot damn! If you love it, you bury yourself in it and, for starters, it's better than swimming in chocolate mousse.
Addictions R Us.
But not every addiction has a built-in escape clause. Usually, life plays that instructive role, but not everyone is willing to listen to life ... to come to peaceful terms with what once burned so blazing hot. And a lot of spiritual persuasions encourage a less than peaceful outcome -- an outcome in which God and heaven and hell and enlightenment and other salvations play a relentless stereotyped Jewish-mom role: If you know what's good for you, you're never leaving this home! There are plenty of Zen Buddhists who can run this number as well.
But as I read it, the older, more-adult spiritual persuasions (Hinduism and Buddhism for example) do include on their menus a firm reminder: The door that is marked "entrance" on one side is marked "exit" on the other. And this is not just some smarmy belief or some cutey-pie paradox. It points to experiential fact that any adherent would be wise to heed. Not immediately and not overnight, perhaps, but just as an integral part of the latest addiction. Coming home is just being at home and it is nothing exceptional ... it's just how things are ... how they always have been. No biggie.
How lucky I feel that my addiction included a get-the-fuck-out-of-here clause. And how saddened I am to see adult pilgrims living endlessly at home with a 'compassionate' mom. I don't mean to sound uppity or judgmental. It's just how I see things.
The womb that once nourished and cherished and held the fetus close now threatens to smother and strangle the very life out of it ... and the baby makes its way yowling into the world.
I am just another yowler.
And I am grateful.