A quiet rainy day. It started overcast, then sprinkled and steadily more until it became a full rain falling straight down. The wild violet leaves covering the ground outside the window dance, randomly touched by drops of water dripping from leaves above. The rhododendron leaves catch a falling drop and dance in their random patterns too. I hear in my head voices complaining about the rain. I thought about giving a friend a call, then revised the thought: not while it's raining--he'll complain about it raining as long as I'll listen. Everywhere I go on a rainy day, somebody is complaining about the inconvenience. I just write it off as a case of somebody who wants to be spoiled and have everything just right all the time. I find it refreshing when somebody speaks in favor of rain, its nourishing quality, its ability to keep drought away. I'm recalling someone I knew in the early 1980s who said of a hot, dry summer, God is tired of hearing tv weathermen wanting clear, sunny days. OK, you want sunny days, you got em. You want everything in your life cheery and bright, here it is. Don't forget to enjoy the drought that follows. The sun is nourishing and the rain is nourishing, each in moderation. Too much sun and life forms wither. Too much rain and life forms wither. In my first years on the spiritual path, I found from going to special spiritual places and getting into the swoon of the spirit that later at home I come down from the lofty height and drop way down into depression, minor despair for at least the same amount of time. Balance. In my early years with Meher Baba, others would say to me, You gotta go to Baba's center in India. You'll love it. It's the best feeling. You gotta. Fortunately, I never had the money to go spend a couple weeks in India. A time came when I had the money and the time, but I remembered every time I experienced a spiritual high, next thing was spiritual low for the balance. I'd rather give up the high to avoid the low that follows. I don't want a bi-polar spiritual life.
Later, after several years, I'd hear, You haven't been to India yet? You gotta go! My thought I kept to myself, if I really gotta go, it will happen. It hasn't happened yet, so I must not gotta. Then it came to the place I am now, don't want to go to India. Don't want to deal with airports and sitting strapped in a seat with a window that looks onto the wing for endless hours, the Mumbai airport and the city with throngs of bobbing heads, stepping over the dying and the dead, the scent of old urine everywhere. Massive, intense poverty, arrogant Brahmans, humble Untouchables, racism that makes our racism look casual, chaos that makes our own look like order. Americans go to India to swoon in spiritual emotion and Indians come to America to swoon in money. So I go from a country that is only interested in money to one that has so little that people are only interested in money. Why spend a couple thousand dollars to go from one form of loving money to another form of same? Hindus and Muslims hate each other murderously. Hindus slaughter Muslims and Muslims slaughter Hindus at any provocation. A neighborhood of Hindus with machetes will run through a neighborhood of Muslims slashing everybody they see. It happens the other way around too. I have a problem with the hate in the American air, so why go someplace where they hate even more vehemently? Yes, I know, ignore all that and feel the spiritual high at Baba's tomb. Maybe I could, but why? I go home by way of mechanical flight, endure airports, grow weary of reading and look out the window at the wing for hours, feeling wow I did something big. Get home, cat is depressed and mad at me for being gone so long, everything in my life is on hold, a stack of bills and trash in the mailbox, then fall into depression for six months in grief because I can't have a spiritual high all the time, poor me. I must not be very advanced. I'm a slow-witted dolt who doesn't get anything, trapped in a limited body and mind, woe, aint it awful. Months of addressing this issue in self and reasoning self out of this thinking.
I'd rather stay home. God, the spirit, the way, creator-sustainer-destroyer, is not localized in India. It's not localized in tombs, shrines, naked men covered with ashes in long beards. I'd just as soon jump into the local waste-water treatment plant for a swim as to bathe in the Ganges. I keep an African mask on the wall that for me is an emblem of balance, a visual reminder. I prefer the waves of my flow to stay at moderate levels, not too high, not too low, a slight pendulum swing, not the full arc. A nice rainy day reminds me that rain is always something to welcome, even when it's too much and the water runs in torrents out of the creek beds. Too much wet, even unto monsoon, is better than too much dry. I've come to a place in the life where I would rather have warm, sunny days and overcast rainy days in waves of moderation that keep the green world happy, and through the green world everything else. I don't want the rush of a spiritual high. There was a time I craved the spiritual high, because I thought I was supposed to. So many people were into the high I felt like it was the real deal and I need to get it too. I don't think it's the real deal anymore. I don't think it has any real importance. Living my life has become my spiritual practice. I have come to see that at least in this phase of my inner growth, everyday life is the shrine I worship at, my home my mosque. I used to feel like I could find that woo-woo feeling in the woods among the silent trees. I can recall a few times in the past that woo-woo feeling took me over for a day and made me believe I was doing something really special. Then I crashed for a period of time. I don't like the crash. And I don't believe the high is all that important. This summer has been a good one of balanced weather. Three days to a week of sunny days, then three or so days of light rain and overcast. The temperature has mostly been in the lower 70s during the day and lower 60s, sometimes 50s at night. This is the balance I've come to like in my spiritual life. Sunlight and rain in balance, keeping my interior life lush and green sparkling with wildflowers.
I don't want to go to church to hear a self-called preacher bombast about Satan. In the course of a phone conversation with my Christian mother, she'll say Satan a dozen times and never the name of Jesus once. She warned me a couple years ago that I'm not afraid enough of Satan, "You better watch out." My thought: I'm not the one paying attention to Faux news and giving my power to people spewing hate. She's never one time said to me anything about the power of love, but multiple, multiple times stressed the power of Satan. It tells me her "Christian" church is awfully dedicated to the dark side. OK, they like the dark side. It's good for them. I grew up in that inner darkness that called itself Christian and ran for my life. I like to go to a Primitive Baptist church from time to time, primarily for the singing, and the Primitive preachers are true to the spirit. However, when the expectations begin, I'm gone. In church, expectations start immediately. My last visit to a Primitive church a man said to me, How long's it been since we seen ye last, brother? I said about a year (actually 2). He said, You need to do a little better'n 'at. My unspoken thought: I will do much better; you'll never see me here again. In my own personal belief system, love is not about intimidating others into believing what I believe with the threat of hell if you don't see it my way. I call it arrogance, not love. The Lord told them to admonish the ones that don't walk the line. And the Lord told me to go my own way, bye-bye. I like to maintain my balance doing right by others and myself. I don't even want woo-woo spirit in my life anymore. I've come to where I see the spiritual path is right here at home in my own life among the people I live among. No need to seek enlightened masters to make me spiritual. No need to observe any ritual or belong to a group, abstain from liquor, read scripture, or anything. A brief visit with someone I see in town by chance can be as great a spiritual experience as praying at a tomb in India.
photos by tj worthington