Chinese New Year 2019: The Pig Looks Back

Happy Chinese New Year everybody! I hope you are all finding at least little ways to celebrate this year of the pig. I’m a little late with my post today, but that’s fairly—maybe more than fairly—apt considering the pig gets its last place in the zodiac due to tardiness to the emperor’s party.

Me and the pig: Like this.

As I have done every Chinese New Year since 2015, the Year of the Sheep, I am posting my essay about my experience unexpectedly celebrating Chinese New Year at the Hsi Lai Temple in Hacienda Heights, CA. I haven’t experienced anything quite like it since, so I find there is no better post to celebrate this day.

Unless one of you wants to drive me to the temple for the celebration today… in the cold… in the rain… for what promises to be at least a two hour drive… a slippery, dangerous drive.

Any takers?

HMU.

-M.

PS
Did you know having a future cult leader in your car for over an hour means good luck and happiness all year long?

PPS
I just included this ’cause I like the “pp.”

PPPS
That last joke is 23 years old and I didn’t write it. Good luck and happiness all year long. Let’s focus on that.

Here’s the essay:

On the train to my sister’s house, riding through southern California’s ultra-glamourous Inland Empire, I read Sera Beak’s book, Red Hot and Holy. In it, she talks about her many travels and personal experiences with spiritualities all around the world. in particular, I was reading how she studied with devotees of Kali in Calcutta. As I read, I longed to be able to do the same—to be able to travel the world and learn about different religions—to have that kind of freedom and enlightenment to inform my heart and bring back to my own practice.

Brother-in-law, Sister, and Nephew at Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple Brother-in-law, Sister, and Nephew at Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple

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Soul Bites Poetry: To Poseidon

Thank you Earth Shaker for
shaking my earth

yet leaving my better temple
standing.

-M.

Posted in God Poems, Gods, Hellenic Gods, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenism, Olympians, Poetry, Poseidon | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soul Bites Quotes: Strong and Swift

“But you who are strong and swift, see that you do not limp before the lame, deeming it kindness.” Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

If you haven’t read this book, you must. Beauty, beauty, beauty.

-M.

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What is a Spiritual Master? (Is it me? I feel like it’s me.)

I started with this: What is a spiritual master?

I wrote 2,500 words on that. Here are the ones that were at least somewhat coherent:

Who was the first spiritual master and how did she get that designation? She either self-designated or it was her followers who designated her as such. It comes down not only to self-belief, but the belief of others.

If a person attained spiritual mastery in the woods, but there was no one there to market the cult, did that person really achieve mastery?

I would think that most people who have been designated spiritual masters would demur the title because, having attained that height, they would be privy to seeing all the eternity of heights still waiting to be scaled. There’s this Brigham Young quote. To paraphrase: “Just as you are ready to have the mysteries of the eternities bestowed upon you, you realize there is an eternity of mysteries to bestow.”

Sidebar!

(Whenever you have a chance to exclaim “sidebar,” do it. It’s good for the soul.)

To Christians, is Jesus the only spiritual master and everyone else, including saints and holy fools, is a spiritual piker by comparison?

Probably.

End sidebar.

I think we have to get personal:

I think spiritual mastery is in the eye of the beholder. I think Joseph Smith was a spiritual master. I think the oracles at Delphi, if they were doing what they were purported to be doing, were spiritual masters. I think the Buddha was a spiritual master. I don’t know the Dalai Lama well, but I hear tale he is a spiritual master, though I suspect he especially would tell you he is not. Jesus was a spiritual master and would have probably told you that he was.

Let’s get even more personal:

If I were a spiritual master, what would I be able to do? What would I be? Very important questions for a future cult leader. As many famous cult leaders have proven in the past, you certainly don’t have to be a master of anything but charisma in order to lead a cult. As the leader of my cult, however, I think spiritual mastery—or near spiritual mastery—is just as important as education. We’re going to be sort of a highbrow cult after all.

I wouldn’t admit that I was a spiritual master either, but if my followers were to say so, who am I to deny the crown? Am I Caesar? Nope. That’s a whole other kind of cult.

When I pray, I hear responses in whispers in my mind. I hear them in casual speech. How do I prove to my followers that I converse with gods? No idea at all. How do I prove it to myself? Especially no idea.

Four out of five cult members agree?

I’ll shoot for that.

Mostly I get personal advice and comfort. Sometimes though it gets more global. That’s probably where I could prove my chops to my followers. It would be in how they feel about the spiritual wisdom I’m laying down. Does it ring true or false? Is it helpful to you? Does it sell books? Does it make you want to sign over all your property and life savings to me? Then I’m a spiritual master, says them. Yay god!

I got a little carried away there, but the part about it ringing true to others is big. As we have already discussed, the title must come from others, so others would have to find that wisdom about the world, spirituality, cosmology, and the logistics of godhood plausible, useful, and/or enlightening.

Pause for thought. Can you smell the burning rubber?

I just realized that, for all my big talk, I can’t define what would indicate a spiritual master to me personally because I don’t really believe it’s possible. It’s that whole eternity of mysteries thing again. I don’t even think there are any gods who are spiritual masters in that sense. Certainly they are more masterly than I am, but master implies full control and knowledge of everything having to do with the spirit.

Well now… I just got my definition there, didn’t I?

Is that achievable to humans? I don’t think so.

Is that achievable to any being? Not any being I know of. The only being I can think of that would be a spiritual master by this definition would be big “G” God because he is supposed to be omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. That would apply to the spiritual realm as well. I, however, do not believe there is such a god possessing those qualities, so I suppose I have aced myself out of believing there is any true spiritual master anywhere.

Darn.

There are still questions: If pure spiritual mastery is not attainable, might there still be something we could designate as human spiritual mastery? That would be attaining all the knowledge and control of spirit of which a human is capable. But that comes down to faith. A person who may be considered a spiritual master in Buddhism could be considered hopelessly spiritually ignorant by adherents to other religions. Hopelessly spiritually ignorant or even evil.

Words. Words. Words. And yet I believe I’ve actually only established three things:

  1. True, objective spiritual mastery would only be attainable by a sentient being who is omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent.
  2. Only subjective spiritual mastery is attainable to humans.
  3. The criteria for human spiritual mastery depends upon the faith of the title-granting person or people. One woman’s guru is another woman’s out-to-lunch weirdo.

If these three things are true, then we are all left to define for ourselves what a spiritual master is and what she should be able to do.

Sigh. Thinking for myself is hard.

I fear this one is going to have to be a two-parter. “Revenge of the Spiritual Master” coming to a blog near you. Winter 2019. Look out now!

-M.

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How Do My Gods Love Me? Let Me Count the Ways.

In my post on what kind of blogger/theologian/future cult leader I want to be, I talked about how one of my goals is to inspire my readers to play “a little more smoochy schmoo” with their gods—“a little more, ‘How do I love thee?’”

It occurred to me today that perhaps I should share a little of my own smoochy schmoo to lighten things up after my last few posts have been a little on the, let’s say, shady side.

Rather than doing, “How do I love thee,” I do “How do my gods love me?” Every Sunday I sit down and write out my gratitude to the big 13 of my gods. It’s a way for me to count out and record everything my gods have individually done for me that week and over my lifetime—or to give it a good effort anyway. Here’s an example from last week:

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Posted in Aphrodite, Apollon, Ares, Artemis, Athena, Demeter, Dionysos, Goddesses, Gods, Hellenic Gods, Hellenic Polytheism, Hellenism, Hephaistos, Hera, Hermes, Hestia, Poseidon, Zeus | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Soul Bites Quotes: Dear God

“Dear God, I remember climbing up those shoulders—coming up under you like a lion—coming down like we were dyin’. Dear God.” Mason Jennings, Birds Flying Away

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Pagan Before the Pearly Gates

My philosophy on the afterlife is: In the end, we’re all going to be surprised.

I plan on going to Elysium. Elysium is supposed to be for heroes and stuff, so it must also be for exceptional future cult leaders, such as me.

That’s my plan anyway, but you know what they say about plans: A plan is a list of things that don’t happen. (From the movie The Way of the Gun.)

But what if I’m wrong? What if my belief in multiple “heavens” turns out to be false after all and Christian heaven really is the only heaven there is and Yahweh really is the only god there is? What if I have to stand before St. Peter one day at the pearly gates holding my Hestia candle in one hand and cradling my Demeter statuette in my arm?

I’d be sheepish.

“Well,” I would say. “I did my best. I tried to do good things in the world. I tried to be a good steward of the earth. I tried to be good to everyone… except those people I hated almost immediately for no good reason. You ever get that St. Peter? Is it chemical? Pheromones? Do you know or do I have to wait to ask the big G… if you let me in, that is.

I would clear my throat. “As I was saying: I tried to be good to everyone. I really tried.

“I loved all religions worthy of love—all trees that bore good fruit—any religion that did not abuse its followers either physically or mentally. That was my rubric and I believe it was a good one.

“And finally, although I may have been praying to idols or demons or simply to the empty air, I loved my gods and I loved them well. Surely I have a green checkmark or two for that.”

Do you think he would let me in, or would he look down at me with the squinty eyes and open the trapdoor beneath me?

“As I fall past, remember me.” -Andrew Hudgins, Praying Drunk

-M.

Future Cult Leader and Resident of Elysium

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