Tuesday, May 21, 2013

in the NOT room

Spiritual life is often imbued with good news. There's enlightenment or heaven or clear understanding or compassion or just simply being awake for a change. It's pretty good news and sometimes it's insufferable.

And this is something I think that spiritual formats too often lack. At the same time that the good-news tabernacle rises up in the heart and mind, at the same time that belief and faith and conviction begin to glow like candles in the darkness, at the same time that the altar is heaped high with wonderful offerings, at the same time that this new friend becomes a better and better friend, at the same time that shallow or profound teachings are ingested and digested, at the same time this wondrous and holy place is plastered and painted and the stained-glass windows applied....

At the same time that the good news is given an honored and honorable place in this life ... at precisely the same time and with precisely as much care and devotion, I think there needs to be a side room, a place of equal gravity and honor and devotion and delight, a room whose door might bear the simple sign, "NOT!"

Devotees may quail at the thought, but how many times has anyone tried to steamroller their grumpy-as-shit moments with good-news platitudes about serenity or kindness. "There, there," the nostrums admonish, "just do some metta or breath exercises. There, there, dear. Let me see if I can't tamp down what currently rises up with a will. Let me tell you how to correct things."

Do the not's need or deserve correction? Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe at the moment any attempt to rein them in will only prove how intractably strong they are.

Treating the nots -- the pissed-offs, the depresseds, the anguisheds -- as if they were rag tag cousins who could be bought off with good-news corrections is not really enough. They deserve better ... a tabernacle that, for the moment, is separate and distinct, a place of honor and devotion and wonder. When the good news gets insufferably out of synch with the muck and mire oozing from every pore ... then go into the NOT room and rest easy. Don't correct a thing. Where once something was holy, then welcome it as NOT holy at all. Where something was kind, then worship it as NOT kind at all. Where something was wise ... well, fuck it -- enter the NOT room and give it an honorable chance to breathe and weep and scream and beg.

Don't buy off the bad and painful with what is good and relieving. Let the NOT room be a refuge that is every bit the refuge that good-news spiritual adventures are. Stay as long as you like.

If you don't do it now, you sure as hell will have to do it later.

No comments:

Post a Comment