A Spiritual Niche

For a long while I’ve been unable to find a suitable label for my spirituality. I’ve inhabited a number of religions but haven’t been able to settle within the boundaries of any. Still, I recognize how much it can help to have the structure of the practices, community and culture of a home religion. As I strive to become more deeply engaged in spiritual practice, this freedom and deficiency has become a knot I find myself trying to untie often.

I grew up as a Christian, going to church and believing whole-heartedly in it, fully inhabiting Christianity in its ethnocentric form. Moving out of this I sampled a lot of different modes, including atheism, agnosticism and strange new agey stuff. As I abandoned blind belief and crawled through achievement and rationality into the mess that was my pluralistic and post-modern university period, I was unanchored, under no religious flag and inquisitively exploring.

A turning point came when I delved into Taoism and discovered meditation. Having a practice was exciting and fresh. There’s a world of difference between mystic (esoteric, experiential) and mythic (exoteric, faith-based) religion and I couldn’t have moved forward without mysticism. Without direct experience of the spiritual I didn’t have a compass to move my spiritual life into the increasing discernment I’d soon embrace.

And next I moved into an affinity for Buddhism. Its practices and landscape were so very inviting to me, and it became as close to a home as I’ve had since my childhood’s rigid belief. I’ve maintained an interest in many religions, but Buddhism has held some sway over me for several years now. But, like Will over at thinkBuddha, I feel I can not call myself a Buddhist, just Buddhish.

So where in the vast expanse of religions does my wanderlusting heart reside? Trans-path integral mystic may not flow as smoothly or clearly as I’d like, but more of who I am can fit in it than any other name I have discovered. Being unwilling to slide Buddha, Christ or other teachers from my view, I must accept the challenge of creating structure and communion as skillfully as possible. Guidelines may be scarce here, but I feel less alone in this new territory and every day discover fellow explorers here. May we be surefooted in ascending the shrouded heights ahead.

You simply are everything arising moment to moment. You do not see the sky, you are the sky. You do not touch the earth, you are the earth. You do not hear the rain, you are the rain. You and the universe are what the mystics call “One Taste.”
This is not poetry. This is a direct realization, as direct as a glass of cold water in the face.
Ken Wilber, One Taste

8 comments on “A Spiritual Niche

  1. I have a forum on delphiforums that has been my home for quite a long time, since I was 16 actually, for discussing spiritual things. They've seen me slip and slide between labels and such as I've grown up, and after trying on names and labels as if they were on sale at Jacob Connexion, I came to the conclusion that there is no real need for a label. All it is is a way to give people a simple short description of your soul.

    And whose soul can ever be described so simply? If someone wants to know about my soul bad enough they'll become my friend and know me that way. Spirits are complex, layered, even when they want to believe they are simple creatures. We're incapable of being only one short description, one flat plane of existence.

    I know you know this already. 🙂 I guess this is my way of saying don't stress over it too much.

    Interesting to me that Poe's “Walk the Walk” came onto my placelist as I'm writing this. 🙂 Just keep walking to the beat of your own drum, like you've been doing. Doesn't seem to have failed you miserably yet, eh?

  2. just to add, I think maybe coming from a Christian background is what drives the label thing so much, at least for me if not for you too. You grow up hearing “What denomination are you? What church do you go to? Who's your pastor? Who's your sunday school teacher?” Christians love their labels for the differing sects. not a bad thing, it puts the organize into organized religion that's all. 🙂

  3. I have a forum on delphiforums that has been my home for quite a long time, since I was 16 actually, for discussing spiritual things. They've seen me slip and slide between labels and such as I've grown up, and after trying on names and labels as if they were on sale at Jacob Connexion, I came to the conclusion that there is no real need for a label. All it is is a way to give people a simple short description of your soul.

    And whose soul can ever be described so simply? If someone wants to know about my soul bad enough they'll become my friend and know me that way. Spirits are complex, layered, even when they want to believe they are simple creatures. We're incapable of being only one short description, one flat plane of existence.

    I know you know this already. 🙂 I guess this is my way of saying don't stress over it too much.

    Interesting to me that Poe's “Walk the Walk” came onto my placelist as I'm writing this. 🙂 Just keep walking to the beat of your own drum, like you've been doing. Doesn't seem to have failed you miserably yet, eh?

  4. just to add, I think maybe coming from a Christian background is what drives the label thing so much, at least for me if not for you too. You grow up hearing “What denomination are you? What church do you go to? Who's your pastor? Who's your sunday school teacher?” Christians love their labels for the differing sects. not a bad thing, it puts the organize into organized religion that's all. 🙂

  5. Definitely no need for labels, signposts on “Hello – My Name Is” tags in the spiritual journey of the self.

    Some of the “mystics” (if you wish to call them that) of a spiritual mind that I've met during my blogging experience have become a good sounding board so to speak, even though most are of different belief backgrounds to myself.

    But the journey is the meaning.

    You are definitely opening up to the great person within.

    Glad to have met you on the journey.

    Have fun with your oneness in those meditations!

    Bright Blessings,
    Vera Nadine

  6. While there might not be need for labels, we do need some way to connect with others on similar paths. How can we do that outside of a community of similar foundation?

    The term “mystic” is the best I've found because it indicates direct knowledge and experience of the divine. If we are all playing in the same space it would make sense that we're all pointing to the same things, whatever our background.

    Thanks Vera. I'm glad to have met you as well.

  7. Definitely no need for labels, signposts on “Hello – My Name Is” tags in the spiritual journey of the self.

    Some of the “mystics” (if you wish to call them that) of a spiritual mind that I've met during my blogging experience have become a good sounding board so to speak, even though most are of different belief backgrounds to myself.

    But the journey is the meaning.

    You are definitely opening up to the great person within.

    Glad to have met you on the journey.

    Have fun with your oneness in those meditations!

    Bright Blessings,
    Vera Nadine

  8. While there might not be need for labels, we do need some way to connect with others on similar paths. How can we do that outside of a community of similar foundation?

    The term “mystic” is the best I've found because it indicates direct knowledge and experience of the divine. If we are all playing in the same space it would make sense that we're all pointing to the same things, whatever our background.

    Thanks Vera. I'm glad to have met you as well.

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