fragments of an attempted writing.
This resonates.

I think the article may somewhat overemphasize the change in locale (though my old ethnography prof would tell me never to underestimate that) and de-emphasize the easily dangerous effects of breathing and meditation techniques.

I especially noted this part:

These meditation techniques are "designed to completely psychologically rearrange you," says Paul Hackett, a lecturer in classical Tibetan at Columbia University. In a foreign setting, that kind of experience can be even more traumatizing, especially when you take into account the way some Westerners in India tend to snack at the country's spiritual smorgasbord—a little Ashtanga yoga here, some Vipassana meditation there. "People are mixing and matching religious systems like Legos," Hackett says. "It is no surprise that people go insane."
Indeed.  I think this strikes at what I was trying to get at years ago when talking about the WASP girl with the last name Smith who just got home from the latest Sex and the City movie, having listened to K-LOVE on the drive home, with prayer rope on her wrist, and books by some Athonite elder and Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Kahlil Gibran next to her bed.  Not that some absolutist hegemony of interests and entertainments is desirable (or healthy), but that the spiritual smorgasbord you can get in America is also (grant it to a lesser degree than what we read of in the linked to article) going to pull a person in a number of different directions, and this can really, to put it in the language of kids these days, fuck you up.  But of course the real analogy is with those spiritual addicts we've all met who, with furious urgency, go from one spiritual experience to another, spiritually high as a kite initially at each one.  I've seen more than a few monkabees with the same look in their eyes as seen in that photo of Jonathan Spollen "3 months ago."  It strikes me that one indicator of "sanity" in a religious institution is not having many gurus who lead these poor souls on, and trying to make impotent the gurus that they inevitably have.  [Where you have clergy in any number, you will have people who think and/or intuit themselves to be gurus.]

Gurus are always a bad idea, worse is the desire to become one.  Or, if I might borrow the language of Arturo and Delegado Cero, there is no spiritual vanguard either.

27 comments:

  1. I dont know what a lot of that even means...

    But I know how hard it is just trying to reconcile the tradition I inherited, especially the parts I am certain are true and right, with my experience one day that led to me being a Catholic.

    Why do white folks get most of their old pagan cultures baptised, but if I wanna know a catholic way to do this orthat thing I have to do to be who GOD made me to be, I am pretty much shit out of luck?

    Jesus was a Jew. It makes no damned sense.

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    1. That was me.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    2. Reject everything which has even the smallest flavour of non-Catholicism. Reject all of the schismatic and heretics writers, let the schismatics and heretics believe their own writings. There is one Christian faith, the Catholic religion. Orthodoxy and Catholicism will never be one religion. The historical separation is definite - Russia and Europe will never be in religious communion unless one or the other dies out or Russia converts to Catholicism or Europe to Orthodoxy.

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    3. Orthodoxy? I am talking about Booger dances and the Green Corn, and your advice is to stay away from greeks and russians? Really?

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  2. Spoken like a true Sensei, Elder Owen! It is clear from your wise words that you have attained the noetic gift of spiritual discernment and have drawn nearer to the patristic Orthodox phronema of the Desert Fathers, as revealed in their divinely-inspired apophthegmata. Namaste! :-)

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  3. Actually, any activity, from jogging to eating can have dangerous effects.

    It's really a matter of "common sense" which, of course, isn't so common and knowing that whatever's happening isn't that profound or earth shaking or revelatory etc;. It's usually just crap in your head.

    I sat zen sesshins for quite a while many years ago and about the only crazy thing I experienced was hallucinating that my thoughts were going down a drain...a nice image. Otherwise, it was just sitting. But then, the sensei was someone who admitted quite openly that he didn't know anything except how to sit. That didn't prevent people from thinking he was a guru knowing all about them but that was their problem not his. I knew, at least, that he wasn't anyone special, just a good sitter and basically paid him little attention outside of asking him some questions about sitting.

    The problem isn't meditation practice, prayer practice, rituals etc;. It's the terrible greed for something uniquely one's own that's the problem.

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    1. As I said, I don't think I understood most of the post, but it didn't completely go over my head.

      The point, as I understood it, was that a Tradition is a coherent whole, and that mixing and matching discrete bits and pieces of various traditions, as though it were port-a-prete leads to confusion which leads to , well, nuts.

      Because mixing a bunch of disparate traditions doesn't yield anything unique, especially if everyone else is mixing a bunch of disparate traditions.

      On the other hand, when you have been given a Tradition (notice the use of capitalisation in this word throughout) you either accept or reject it. I am not Chickamauga because of my genetic markers, but because I accept the Tradition my grandmother gave me.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    2. A Tradition that does not stand change dies. I'm fairly certain that contemporary Chickamaugas aren't exact replicas of the Chickamaugas of the 18th or 19th centuries.

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    3. Heh, my dad lives between Ringgold and Chickamauga.....

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    4. Anonymous,

      No shit? The differences between 1790 Chickamaugans and 1814 Chickamaugans are astounding, in and of themselves. But the differences between 1814 and 1950 are far more subtle. With all that said, your comment as best I can decipher, is at best a non sequitur.

      Samn!,

      Fine to meet you. I am from New Moon, between Broomtown and Menlo, where my family has been going to water on Mills Creek since we first came down into this Valley after Sevier's first raids. If you ever want to get together when you're visiting, i'd not mind at all.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    5. Now that I am not on a tiny little phone, I can finish my thought.

      The changes between 1790 and 1814 were internal and intentional. We decided for ourselves a course of action, and the implications of that action made big changes in our Tradition.

      But the changes between 1814 and 1950, or 2012 if you will, were thrust upon us. They were external, and so, or maybe just coincidentally, they had less impact on Who We Are. And that is as true for the bulk of us, now again Cherokee in Arkansas and Oklahoma, Texas and Mexico, as it was for the handful of holdouts who escaped the American Concentration Camps and the forced marches on the Trail Where Y'all Cried, whether they became again Cherokee in North Carolina, or like my own family, never had to leave our land. Or rather couldn't bear the heartbreak of leaving it.

      Believe me, Granny Kimbrell's Welsh-American husband thought he was going to change us. He'd stolen our land. But he still wound up raising a passel of Indian children. Some of those sons didn't stay Indian. But every one of her daughters did. And their white husbands raised another generation of Indians, and so it goes on until today, with my sister raising the next generation, and me trying to be a good uncle. I myself will probably father white children, and being a Catholic, I'll engage in patrimony to the very best of my ability, and try to raise my genetic children with my sister's, the ones I feel a real affinity for, the ones I can't help but consider more truly mine. Indian women are hard to find and even harder to live with.

      Finally, anonymous, I am curious who you are. Not your name, but what and who you come from. My cards are on the table in that respect. But you, well, you are just a collection of trite phrases to me, and I know from experience no man is just trite phrases. If it makes you feel better, and it does comfort some people, I have blue eyes. I have some towheaded cousins even who are as Indian as I am.

      Red Owen,

      In writing that I realise I don't know precisely if your ethnography professor was right or wrong. For me, being Chickamauga is VERY much tied to a place. But it obviously isn't, because we stretch, as I alluded before, across multiple states and 2 countries.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    6. Or to elaborate on my port-a-prete comment...

      It's like trying to dress yourself in a suit from the separates rack. While you congratulate yourself on your keen fashion, everyone else sees an obviously colorblind asshole who can't dress himself.

      You above isn't anyone in particular, except my fiction fellow buy jackets and pants separately.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    7. Well. if you really are curious about me, ( not my name), I think I can oblige you.

      I was born in the U.K. Grew up in France from around 5 or so until I was 9 when I ended up in the U.S., ( Nebraska first stop). My mother is French with a Norwegian father. My biological father, ( whom I did not meet until three years ago since I was 5 or so- 55 years not seeing him-figure out the dates), is English from British Guyana, ( which means, as I found out, that there's "native blood" somewhere in the gene pool as I saw from pictures my new-found relatives in Ontario- estranged since then after I made a remark about the stock market being a casino), and my step-father is Mexican-American, ( which also means "native blood", obviously).
      I ended up from Nebraska, to Texas, ( El Paso), to California and now Canada , ( in retirement).

      So...call me one of those peculiar beings, more prevalent now than ever before, whose ancestry is a bit mixed.

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    8. So you're American? Or maybe alittle bit Euro-American?

      The rest is of no interest to me, as those racial constructs are European. Cultures are real, races are only an abstraction. What is native blood? Is it appreciably different from non-native blood?

      Forgive a tangent, but this is also why I dont engage in discussions about homosexuality and heterosexuality. Human beings are real. Homosexuals and heterosexuals are ontological bullshit. European bullshit too.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    9. No. I'm not "American" by ancestry, but I suppose by culture, if "America" has a culture.

      I used the term "native blood" intentionally to highlight how mixed one's ancestry can be. And yes, race is a construct, ( I know that well since I look and act "white" while having an Hispanic last name-I used to obtain job interviews based on the supposition I was an Hispanic female, ( my first name is French and sounds like a girl's name) even though I'm a tall, bearded male-the reactions of interviewers were interesting).

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    10. But I asked who you are and where you come from, not your Granny. If she were here, who she is might be important. I only mentioned mine because that old battle-ax showed me an entire world when I was still sucking on a sugartit, a world that got, as was put in another thread, into my marrow.

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  4. Samn!,

    I meant to ask about your family names. Some of mine are Gardner, Weaver, Tallent, Pledger, Padgett. Garrett is a psuedonym. John Garrett was the soandso that pushed Amanda Pathkiller off her father's land.

    My employer has a strict policy against us basically being on the internet. So I use the most distasteful nim de plume of which I can conceive.

    Hezekiah Garrett

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    1. Also Hurley, Bass, Brewster, Ritchie, Dougherty and Kennedy (or Canada, they're the same family.)

      You kin to any of them? I mean to ask, are you kin to me? I have a lot of white cousins and I am proud to claim them all. I assume your daddy didn't just move to Rock Spring, or wherever on Peavine Creek he lives.

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    2. He moved there under funny circumstances. Our family is from Rome/Anniston.

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    3. Those aren't anywhere near each other, Samn! Are you sure? That's about like being from Bologna/Assisi, or Chicago/Bumfucked Egypt.

      Or do you mean some are from Rome and some are from Anniston?

      I'm still happy to buy you a beer, though.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    4. Hell, family history makes for amusing stories, I guess-- my people were not the sort that the owner of this blog approves of..... They came to Rome in the 1850's to set up an iron concern, built canons for the Confederate government while simultaneously trading-between-the-lines, then founded Anniston using Northern money when they had to leave Rome after the war, and bounced between the two until I guess my generation (I moved away from Rome when I was a child...).

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    5. But I may take you up on that beer the next time I'm in Greater Northeastern Alabama....

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    6. Life's too short to worry about blog "owners" that much, my man. Squat, and let the ownership worry about their property values.

      Cornwall Furnace?

      I don't live up there right now, I'm an EMT in Atlanta. But I go home at the slightest provocation. So either here in Sodom on 'Hooch, or there, makes no difference to me.

      I just hope you don't have expensive tastes.

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    7. I'll keep your secret, since you seem to know your family isn't exactly the most accurately named bunch of folks.

      No offense, of course. Small fucking world though.

      Hezekiah Garret

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    8. Ok, I do have to point out the one bit of your family lore I remember from Alabama history though. None of your ancestors were allowed to fight for the Confederacy, by direct order of Jefferson Davis, right?

      That's the family, right? It has to be. Damn y'all are still hated here by the underclasses. I whupped a Keith boy (a cousin of yours) once at school in 1986 for throwing a dead bird at the back of my head ("here's some feathers!") and my daddy gave me ice cream for it.

      Hezekiah Garrett

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    9. Folks might not understand, I was 9 and had never had ice cream before. I didn't have it again for 3 years. It was black walnut, in a sugar cone.

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  5. A friend of mine used to say people had "Roger Rabbit eyes" when they looked spooky.
    A couple weeks ago I saw a young man all dressed in black that I'd never met before wandering in our church parking lot in an office complex. I asked if I could help him and he said, "There's supposed to be an Orthodox church somewhere here." Duh...

    He had "Roger Rabbit eyes". I introduced myself and he shook my hand and said, "I'm Roger. R-O-G-E-R Roger." Two services later he wants to become a catechumen. Roger, that....

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