Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Your Spirituality battling with your Character

This fellow, a Traditional Teacher/Elder once commented about a colleague and friend of mine that "she has no Spirituality, what-so-ever." Now that is a pretty condemning statement. I, for one would not want to be the judge of who is Spiritual or not. I also don't think we need to try and be Spiritual. My friend, cousin, Teacher once told me this story about a Teaching from Peter O'Chiese. Mr. O'Chiese was a very respected and knowledgeable Elder. This White woman sought him out at a Pipe Ceremony in the City of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The woman went up to speak with Peter. She started off by saying that she was having a difficult time with her Spirituality. "Stop" was what Peter said. "You already know how to be a Spirit, it is learning to be a Human Being, is where we need work." You see people are already Spirits. You are Spirits before you become into this world and go back to being Spirits when you leave this world. That's why it seems that very young children still have that connection to the Spirit world. They can see and hear the other Spirits; you know their imaginary friends, but I digress (I kind of like that saying, wish I knew the grammar rule of its use).

People are confused about their Spirituality. They believe if they pray, follow the rules set out in some Religious dogma, than they are Spiritual. If they spout Religious doctrine or refer to themselves as followers of: Christian, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, or whatever, than they are of a Spiritual nature. With a Spiritual affiliation, they can now use it as a moral shield or moral spear. That becomes the nature of following the rules or "Teachings" of a Religion or quasi-Spiritual calling, you can claim to be more than just a regular person. For some strange reason we give those people that weight of moral superiority. We acknowledge them as if they are superior to us. Superior in their integrity, virtue or in their following of social norms, customs, and faith. We think they are somehow closer to being next to the Special entity, God,Creator or whatever. Their words or their prayers carry more weight to God or whomever, than us 'regular' people. We view them with a sense of reverence. If we dare to question their word or their behaviour, then we are the ones with a moral deficiency. The people with a public relationship with the Spiritual calling or an official attachment or role in their respective Religious group, believe that they are in fact superior to us, regular folk.

With both our expectations of the follower of Religion and their own expectations, it is a hard station to live up to. Our naive belief that people are morally superior if they follow Religion (regardless of what religion or Spiritual path) is not fair. Our judgment can be harsh if we do not believe they are living up the conditions as a religious person. If the religious person has character flaws, we are quick to jump on them with cries of hypocrisy. We see them and all that are similar to them as hypocrites, and phony. They themselves, the public follower of religion, have put themselves in a difficult situation. If they as a human being make some type of mistake, they fall short of being next to God. They fall short of what they think people expect them to be. Either way it's hard to be religious. Although there are some out there that have no expectations either way.

This is where I think the battle between Spirituality and Character take place. We believe or think that people who are religious are beyond mistakes. We view them as bound by conduct that even the Saintly might not measure up to. We put all sorts of limitations as to what they can do and how they must behave. Who are we to put limitations on human beings, just because they openly follow a certain faith path? If a person is a Pipe Carrier, we expect him or her to be a higher quality person. If a person is a preacher, we expect that person to be beyond reproach (what the heck does that mean?). If a person is a regular church going bible thumper, a tent revival singer, or a church lady, we want them to measure up to certain standards of decorum (Again what's with these words?). We don't want to see them having a beer in the local pub. We don't want to see them spitting on the ground. We don't want to see them talking about other people in a negative way. We don't expect them to behave like a regular person; losing their temper, being greedy for money and material goods, being a bad parent and all the other pitfalls that human beings struggle with.

People have it wrong, your Spirituality and your character are two separate things. Your character is who you are. Your Spirituality is what you want to be (trying to get back to). They have a role in each other but are separate. Like a hand and a glove. Just because you may be an Asshole does not mean that you do not believe in your Spiritual path or your God. People are quick to say "how can that guy be a Pipe Carrier he drinks beer." Big hairy deal that someone drinks beer. It is a social convention that drinking is a bad thing. If you drink you are a bad Christian, a bad Jew, a bad Muslim or a bad Traditionalist. Does it mean your beliefs are less than some else? Or as the Fellow said, does it mean you have no Spirituality?

What I am saying is that we should hold off on our criticism of the Holy Roller, the Pow-wow drummer/Sweat-hog, the one life only Buddha , the pork eating Jew, the burka-less Muslim, and the beardless, turban-less Sikh. Who are we to measure people? Who are we to put them up on a pedestal and kick it out from under their feet? Who the heck our we to judge someone else's Spirituality? We don't know what is in their hearts or what they believe. We can only see what they are like, not what they believe. If they are not living up to some set of made up standards, who are we to say they don't measure up? I guess I do not want to be that person that says she and he has no Spirituality. I will say if someone is an Asshole, but that is their character. Even Assholes have the ability to pray.

From my experience it seems like that people who jump to criticize the most are the people who profess to be of a religious affiliation. The most hypocritical.

We are fierce when we guard our belief systems. No matter what our belief system is. There are some interesting views out there, some old, very old and some new.

I am of the opinion that comparing our belief system to others is not a positive exercise. There are comparisons between Religious beliefs. There is a tendency to measure against the most popular belief systems in order to confirm or legitimize our own beliefs. I put forth my belief that we are all aiming for the same thing. At the end of the day, whether our character is full of flaws or a non-believer in any type of spiritual belief we want the same thing; we want to have a good life, whatever that good life means to us.

You know I was pretty lucky in some ways. I got to listen to this old Lady talk about NanaBooshoo.   It is interesting about the ways of NanaBooshoo; he was a Spirit but also a human being. He had power and he had flaws; the power that Creator gave him and the flaws that comes with being a Man.  Imagine that.  So in his travels he did some pretty crazy things. That is what we need to know, that even the most Spiritual being that was on Earth made mistakes. So how can we be so quick to put down a person of religious or Spiritual recognition for their human mistakes?  

Let's just face it, some people are just mean. No amount of Halleljuahs, five a day eastern facing prayers, baptisms, Sweat lodge rocks are going to help them. Regardless of their love for God, Creator Allah Budha, they are just pure asreholes.

That laddies and lassies is the bottom line, its just me and god.

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