Why I’m Taking a Vacation from Being Spiritual

I don’t really want to be spiritual today.

Five-sensory experience is mysterious enough. The mystery of how hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, and seeing – each in their profound complexity – creates an experience for me is what captures my attention at the moment.

I think that many people embrace the spiritual because they know sensory experience can be faulty. They know there is no guarantee between what we perceive, and what is actually the external reality. And they think there is an external reality somewhere that is less subjective, and that grounding gives them a sense of comfort, of control.

I, on the other hand, do not necessarily believe in an external reality. It also seems clear that the experience we tend to label “reality” is overwhelmingly dependent on our five-senses, and even within this experience we know that sometimes a different construction of reality can be created when a sense is lacking or disabled. We know that our construction of reality in what we see, for example, is largely dependent on how much light is in the room – pitch dark rooms give us a different perception than well-lit ones. We know that we can hear ringing in our ears because there is no sound, that we can feel as if we have a pain like pins and needles when there is nothing pricking us, that we can have a nasty cold that impedes our sense of smell, that our taste buds can be burnt – we know that our senses are ways of getting around the world that often presents us with inconsistent experiences. The world we casually refer to as “reality” comes from our conscious perception.

Sometimes, I wonder if the idea of a reality definitely existing outside of and independent from our perception comes from the theory that there is a God who has the ultimate perspective of the world; the outside perspective that somehow trumps all of ours, because it sees the actual “real world.”

But I think God’s perception would just be another perception…

Let’s say there is a God or “higher power.” There would still be a way this God sees the world – that’s God’s perception. Colors can only be perceived through a subjective lens; they don’t exist independently of our experience. So to say something is green or yellow is to put it in the realm of subjective experience. Same with other senses – it doesn’t make sense to say that something made a sound if there was no ear to hear it, or to say that something smelled disgusting if there was no one to smell it. Smell is a judgment call – what smells good to one may smell terrible to another, so without a smeller, there’s no way to really judge the content of a smell, or even if the smell exists.  These perceptions create an experience that is based on a subjective viewpoint. If God has a perception that could create an experience of “reality,” then God would be the possessor of a subjective viewpoint, as well. Trying to see the world through this God’s eyes would force us to somehow divorce ourselves from our own subjective experience and see ourselves through the eyes of another subjective experience.

Some people want to do this, and although I’ve come to respect some of their reasons, I do not – at least, not most the time. Personally, I’ve grown increasingly impatient, over the years, at attempts to see “behind” my construction of experience, because I’m convinced that this enterprise is impossible; the closest people get is desperately trying to live out a construction of experience that, in their perception, is not their own. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life trying my utmost to live someone else’s – someone, imaginary or not, who doesn’t have my perception or construction of reality. Everything I interact with seems to show me that time is short. I don’t want to spend my whole life ignoring the experience right in front of me to look behind a curtain I can never really, actually look behind, especially if there is nothing there, and even if there was it would just be another individual or “deity” subjectively creating their experience.

I think what we are looking for when we try to look behind the curtain, though, is control. We want control of our experience, which makes sense, because our experience can be terrifying. Some people think (and perhaps get) a sense of control over their experience by believing in a God who has it under control. To me, that seems disempowering. I don’t think you need God to have some sense of control over your experience. Even if you can’t completely control them, it is your five senses that are constructing, continually, your experience. That knowledge is enough for me, oftentimes. I’m enraptured by the mystery of a sensory experience I’m forever creating. I revel in creating new experiences for myself, and for other people. I take pleasure in ensuring beautiful experiences for the next generation.

I often get impatient these days when there is abstract thinking that tries to distract me from my experience. Sometimes I love abstract thinking, but more and more, as my time of life on earth gets shorter and shorter, I want to more fully indulge in the naked five-sensory input constructing my experience. I want to thoroughly savor every pleasant touch, succulent taste, aromatic smell, beautiful sound, and stunning sight to create the most vivid experience of reality. And much of the time, that is the right balance of control and mystery for me.

More, and more, I don’t want to diminish this experience by calling it “spiritual.” The term seems too sanitary. I want to embrace all the rawness, the concrete mystery, the tangible adventure of existence. I don’t want to escape my experience; I want to embrace it more intensely, I want to let my consciousness wrap around it more tightly and firmly and passionately, I want to really LIVE every second of every minute with a sharp and enthusiastic awareness of every sensation created by my five-sensory experience.

I don’t want to sanitize anything. Give it to me raw.

Or at least, that’s how I feel today. Maybe tomorrow will be different, because I will want it to be different.

And that’s another thing. People seem to say that the way you experience life best has to be the way EVERYONE does, but what I like about the world is that there is so much diversity. That’s beautiful, too. Not everyone likes a raw five-sensory existence all the time; I need to take a vacation from it when things get too much sometimes, and so I go off to meditate and lose myself, or I watch a deeply spiritual movie or something. And that’s OK. You only have one life – do what makes you happy, as long as it doesn’t hurt others. And while you’re at it…maybe, if you want to understand your world, see the beauty in the worlds other people wish to embrace, even if it’s not your own. Even if it’s repulsive to you. I mean, you don’t have to. But sometimes, it can bring light to your own experience of existence, adding a beauty that wasn’t originally your own.  That’s a beautiful thing, too.

Anyways those are my two cents on spirituality at the moment. Today, anyway. Just need a vacation from thinking abstractly, I guess. I’ll try to live the rest of the day looking at the world in front of me in the only life I have, and hope this was helpful to you in some way.

Thanks for reading.

PS: Thank you to all 26 of my patrons for your support.

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