Wednesday, December 15, 2010
The Search for...Something
So, this road trip I've recently been on has taken me across the country. Amid the stops, I've stayed near two Scientology headquarters in NYC and Tampa, and witnessed throngs of hopeful believers in something called "Matrix Energetics" forming a line that twisted through the halls and lobby of the Seattle Doubletree hotel.
For the uninitiated, Scientology is a body of beliefs created by L. Ron Hubbard in the 1950's and followed today by about 8-10 million folks, 25,000 or so who call America home. And as for Matrix Energetics, well, it's a form of "Quantum Healing" that, for a few hundred dollars, you can learn all about at seminars all across the country.
I'm always cautious about knocking what people believe spiritually, because any faith involves a leap beyond some pretty thick mythology. From virgin births to bodhi trees, menorahs to Mecca, religion and spirituality require us to accept some things that fall well outside our daily rational experience. Even atheists have to take a leap of faith, to the extent that they trust that there really IS nothing out there, and they opt to live accordingly.
I remember when I worked at a video store in college, we had a customer who would lay three or four movies across the counter, and then pull a crystal out of a purple felt bag. She'd let the crystal guide her toward which movie to rent that night. Hey, mystic totem or total chotsky, any rock that tells you that "Meatballs 3" trumps "The Philadelphia Story" needs to be returned to the Renaissance Faire.
But this post isn't about deriding people's beliefs, tempting though it can be amid a world where religion often divides as much as it heals, and Creation Museums actually have season ticket holders. No, for me the bigger question is, what is everyone looking for? Certainty? True North? Fire insurance? Inner peace? All are worthy answers, and none of them are to be maligned. At any given moment, we're all beautiful creations and damaged goods. We're little wandering miracles with Smartphones who could all likely spend the remainders of our lives in group therapy with the varied baggage we carry. We're a beautiful wreck.
And so we search. I have often said to friends who comment on my ongoing game of religious roulette (it tends to fluctuate between Buddhism, progressive Christianity, Unitarianism, and humanism) that I think the time we spend here is the quest. That we may have been put here - if indeed we were put here, rather than just happened - to figure some things out. I'm always scared of folks who have all the answers and offer them up with unwavering bravado. It must be nice to be so sure, but I'm not sure we're supposed to have the mystery figured out way back in Chapter 3. There's a lot more ahead, and I like sifting for clues.
So, on any given Sunday, I can be found leading the children's moment at the local Methodist Church, sitting in repose at the Shambhala Meditation Center, dropping by to get fresh perspective at the Unitarian Church we used to belong to, or just slipping on my freaky looking Vibram shoes and giving nature its due with a 4 mile walk/run to see what might be holy that particular morning. I don't think any of them are invalid or have all the answers. It's sort of a belief buffet, and until I pass a burning bush or the bodhi tree drops an apple of enlightenment on my head, I imagine I'll keep questing like some sort of theological knight. I have relatives who think I'm lost, and neighbors who think I'm wasting a lot of energy chasing down something I'll never find, but I gotta say, it's a hell of a ride, and my life is richer for it.
I don't think Scientology or Matrix Energetics are on the menu, though. But for some people they are.
So, today's big question: What do you think of The Big Question: Why the heck are we here?