Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Raw, adjective: 6. ignorant, inexperienced, or untrained: a raw recruit.


Whassup, kids?

Wednesday morning in Point Reyes.  Smack in the middle of Diwali, and I'm so full of blog-o-licious stuff I don't really know where to start.

It's a holiday in which we usually celebrate Lakshmi, goddess of abundance, but this morning I'm feeling a lot of Saraswati coming on — she at right, goddess of knowledge, music, and the arts.

Muses everywhere I turn.

Inspired by this video from Barack himself, which offers a sweet intro to Diwali, a nod to Jainism, and a helluva lot of mindfully-spoken words.  God, I dig that man.

My baby bro Mikah wrote this blog, "Slapping Gay Christians in the Face," for the Huff Post the other day.  So proud of him.  Reading his writing left me with so very many mixed emotions.  I thought to myself:
  1. Badass job, little bro. Way to go.
  2. God is love.  Period.  And any religion that says otherwise is off-track.
  3. How lucky were we to be raised by parents who taught us that the divine is loving (and leftist, too).
  4. Gay rights are human rights.
  5. Christianity will only remain relevant if it abandons literalism.
  6. The current state of Christianity in America makes me so. fucking. sad.
  7. This is a big cultural battle that is so little about actual theology and so much about fear.
  8. Fighting is exhausting.
  9. There are a lot of scriptural conversations to be had that could support any position, really, if you're looking to support it.  Ideology + theology = religious fascism.  Must be careful.
  10. I need a drink.
But seriously.  It was such a reminder, in so many ways, of the life I had once chosen and left behind.  I dove into graduate study in radical theologies because I wanted to transform this culture of conservative Christian fear.  Because I believed that God — in whatever form that word means to you — could only be loving, and life-giving, and justice-cultivating.

And I got burned out.  Because I didn't want to spend my life fighting.  Because, the truth is, these days, if you want to be a beacon for progressive theologies (Christianity in particular), it means swimming culturally and politically upstream.

And life is so short to be angry all the time.

So I felt proud and sad and excited and exhausted, all in one, in reading Mikah's article.  I'm so glad he has the passion to speak on behalf of a loving, all-inclusive faith.  And I, for one, was motivated to dig out my old theology books and do a little revisiting.

I'm in that nerdy student mode these days, you see.  Saraswati in the house, baby.  Hungry for learning.

And listening.  A lot.

One of the aspects of my recent move that I was most unsure about was the new commute.  I'd suddenly be spending upwards of 2 hours in the car nearly every day, as opposed to well, zero, for the last 9 years or so.  Big difference.

But I wanted to find a way to not dread this new shift. To see it with new eyes; to view that 2-hour chunk of time not as "lost" or "wasted" or "goddammit, the time I could've spent doing asana instead of sitting on my ass in traffic"; but well, pardon the cheesy yoga-ism, to "look to the light" in the situation, Gayatri Mantra-style, yo.

So I changed the story.

I starting telling myself that this new commute thing was actually a gift.  Because it meant I'd actually pick up the phone (erm, "hands-free headset") and keep in better touch with all of my long-distance loves.  I mean, what else could I do in those moments of just sitting?

And that's proven true.  My siblings have been shocked by the frequency with which this phone-fearing sister has been calling to just say "hey, petunia, what's new."

But even moreso, the gift of that little drive, just two weeks into this new home of ours, has been the time it has offered to study.  Yeah, to study!  Can you believe it?!?

I started with listening to some old audio tapes we'd found in the process of moving.  Gloria Steinem's Revolution From Within.  Pema Chodron's When Things Fall Apart.  And those alone were fabulous.

But then.

I bought a new gadget.  And it has lots of storage space.  And the fastest downloading skillz around.

Podcasts have cracked open a whole new opportunity to literally spend two hours a day listening to dharma teachers.  Soaking it up.  And you have to understand — as the former bookish college student in the front row who always had a fountain pen in hand and one ear cocked, a total whore for a good lecture — it's a dream come true.  Totally, dude.

To the point where I can't wait to have to get in my car again.

I'm listening.  Just listening.  And how wonderful it is to receive.

And I feel pretty evangelical about this action.  As in, I woke up this morning, reached for the iPod, and subscribed to six more teachers before even once rolling out of bed.  Kind of want to scream it from the rooftops.  For as much as I've ever talked smack about technology, this free dharma teaching is really the bee's knees.

What I'm listening to (in other words — get in there, search for these names, and fast!):
Sally Kempton
Buddhist Geeks
Centre of Gravity
Eckhart Tolle
Susan Piver
Ram Dass, author of Be Here Now
The Interdependence Project
Ted Talks (particularly the ones by Brené Brown on vulnerability and shame)
Carlos Pomeda
Where Is My Guru
These alone are so rich, and so inspiring, and they're just a start.

Search for Rosemary Radford Ruether, too, and you'll get a taste of my own badass graduate school mentor.  She's done some powerful work with Catholics For Choice and all kinds of feminine-celebrating religious traditions.  And she's probably about 80 by now, I'd guess.  Kali in action!!

I could go on

The lessons, though, if I may —
1.  It's true.  Your world becomes what you choose to see.  If you choose to see a shitty hour-long commute as your most dreaded and boring part of the day, and resent it every time you turn on the engine, and moan and groan about how miserable and unlucky you are the whole time, that's what you'll experience.  That's what you'll get.

And if you choose to see that same commute as a teacher, an opportunity, a lucky gift, your experience of that sacred hour will be entirely different.  Positive.  Life-giving.  Eckhart Tolle even used this commute example in the podcast that I listened to last night.  He talked about it as one more chance to be alive in a body, to see the trees that pass and the skies up above and the little things that populate and energize our worlds.

He's right.  It's all about where your mind chooses to put your attention.
2.  There are teachers all around, if you tune your eyes to see them.  I'd been feeling so conflicted about the "loss" of those hours I would've usually spent practicing, moving my body, breathing, those sacred few free moments when I get to fill my tank with asana.  And now I can only laugh and marvel at the fact that I've been graced with two whole hours a day to study with the best dharma teachers in the world.  All at my fingertips.

It's like going to college again for free — at the best university in the world — only with no obligatory calculus classes to take, and no exams, and no hangovers, and you get to wear yoga pants to class, and eat trail mix while you listen.
Hot damn.

On other fronts: stay tuned for the official roll-out of a long-in-the-making book club in the next week, a few playlist suggestions, and upcoming workshop action, too.

Much Diwali love.   Much pre-Thanksgiving love.  Much post-election-glow-thank-goddess-Romney-wasn't-elected love.

Now start downloading.

3 comments:

Jessica said...

Thank you so much for the pod cast idea! I have been following your blog for about 2 months and I am so grateful every time you post. I can really relate to your religious journey and I find your words inspiring and uplifting and I am so excited to start downloading podcasts. When I saw you are starting a book club, I got super excited! Thank you for everything you do!

Rach said...

Thanks, Jessica!! I'm so very glad to hear it. Please keep reading! It's wonderful to feel a little less alone, eh?

Much love.

R

Tyler Palmer said...

Raw Rach (I have a cat that makes a noise similar phonetic sound to "raw rach." Anyway,methinks it was Abbie Hoffman who talked about stealing an education? Try out Itunes University. These are full on classes with syllabi and problem sets. One of the best I have ever heard is "Intro to Psych" by Paul Bloom at Yale. The Yalies have amazing professors. Its also big on divinity. Loads of good stuff. There's a whole class on "Death." Just make sure you download the audio only for battery efficiency...Then there's Wikiversity where you can attend medical school online http://en.wikiversity.org/wiki/School:Medicine

I've got studio equipment(mics,mixers,software)for recording music but much of it I can engineer for a podcast idea. Please talk to me about this when you get a chance.

Are you a coulrophobic?

Namaste

Tyler