Freewriting Friday with Tama Kieves, Second Topic

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Second Topic – the most religious person or most spiritual person I ever met

The most religious or spiritual person I ever met?

Not surprisingly, this is a hard choice for me. I’ve spent my entire life among religious and spiritual people. All of it. There’s an entire chapter of my book relating how I used to look for a spiritual teacher until I realized that I had been born to her and had been sipping wisdom at her feet for 35 or 40 years. On top of that, I was raised in one of the most phenomenally open and accepting churches ever. University Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) where Dr. Granville T. Walker presided for so many many years. That man was just as likely to quote the Buddha as he was to quote Christ. Then there’s Roger Weddell, the gay California youth minister, who taught us comparative religion classes in the 70’s. For Christ’s sake, I read Osho, known then as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, and let’s not forget Helen Schucmann, who would probably hate being called religious, but she’s deceased now and can’t argue with me. And then her interpreters, Kenneth Wapnick and Marianne Williamson, long may she live. Who else?

Most religious. Most spiritual.

Maybe that cat. Throwing up what it doesn’t need, a hairball, no doubt. Hey, letting go of what isn’t serving us is a deeply spiritual act. We all know this. The cat does, too, no doubt.

Most recently, I met Swami Vishwananda. Never in my life have I experienced so much love in one person. My roommate cried the whole time. I laughed, and then I saw him hug someone. I felt the love. My thought, when I was capable of one, was, “I want to be loved like that.” And I burst into tears. That is certainly a high point in my experience of religious spiritual personages.

Probably no one in this room but Tama knows that I’m working on a doctorate in ministry. And Tama may have intuited, but may not yet know that this is what is taking me to Ireland, a class in “Celtic Spirituality and Modern Cosmology.” My pre-paper will take the theme of spirals and spiral journeys.

That calls to mind the idea that I’ve only ever met myself, only ever met one person in my life. Byron Katie says, “No two people have ever met.” I get that. We only meet our ideas of another person. We cannot really “meet” that person. Oh, I have sexual fantasies of some kind of ecstatic union where I know I have met someone. And truly, that experience with Vishwananda was that. I spent the next 3 months not caring whether I ever had sex again, and again, only Tama is likely to know what that sentence really meant. 

But who? The most religious or spiritual person I’ve ever met?

Steven is, in a way, too, but until you see him in one of his most precious moments, you might not think so. The moments when he cries playing “Thank You India” by Alanis Morrissette, at the end of a Workshop for the Work of Byron Katie. He’s religious. I was amazed in his Advanced Meditation class to connect and deepen and deepen with every single spiraling practice he showed us. 

Spirals. I picture each of these people as someone I pass on the spiral, the labyrinth of myself, spiraling inward and inward and inward, until the question of “who is the most spiritual or religious person I have ever met” has no meaning and every meaning. It is myself. It is all of my relations. It is you.  

“Thou art God.”  The immortal, and deeply spiritual, if not religious, Robert A. Heinlein wrote. This reminds me of Spider Robinson. Oh my God, have you read Star Dancer? It’s a must. And who directed and wrote this last Superman? Did you notice the Christian symbology? Do you know that Superman is Jesus, whose father sent his only Son?  Did you notice? Did you get it that Lois Lane is Mary Magdalene? Look closely. You’ll see it. It is unmistakeable. Truly. Mary Magdalene. There is a spiritual and religious person. Have I met her? Only in my dreams. But I have. I’ve met her in the pages of many books, on the stage in a play, and in my own imaginings of who she was . . . or is . . . and who she might be to me. That’s a line from a song, “who he might be to me.” I’ll think which one in a moment. Joni Mitchell. 

Magdalene is a spiritual title for a priestess. Only a priestess would be anointing Jesus’ feet with oil. And rabbis, teachers, were generally married in that culture. Jesus may have a son, or a daughter. We may never know.

Of course, in another sense, we are all Christ’s sons and daughters, we are the light, the truth, the way.

Or, if you don’t care for the Christian mythology, call us the children of
Isis or the offspring of Zeus. I don’t think it matters one bit.

Religious? Spiritual? Every instant of every moment, yes, all 65 of them Katagiri Roshi, we are the most spiritual beings we will ever meet. Why? We are the only beings we will ever meet.


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