Monday, February 06, 2006

where do we meet?

So, the Christian people go to churches, Muslim people go to mosques, Jewish people go to synagogues, etc. I guess organized religions have their perks – it’s very easy to spot a member of your faith. All you have to do is go to the central place of worship, and there you are -- surrounded by like-minded individuals. The common ground is clear to all, and thus discussion can flow easily along the path that everyone will understand.

But how do we, hopelessly detached antiestablishment souls, find our kind? The whole concept of a central point of worship tends to go against our grain, for as soon as we smell a sign of “organization”, we become suspicious, start questioning, and fall off the wagon. Unless of course we accidentally create our own religion and thus fall out of the category, so never mind that.

I've pondered that question for a while, and in my search for other rebels tried some yoga classes. Well, apparently they have become such a hip new way of finding peace and health with minimum effort, that for the most part the spiritual aspect is as deep as Madonna’s devotions accompanying the launch of her new albums. Don’t get me wrong here – those pretzel moves are fun and quite relaxing. It’s just that they are not eclectic enough for me anymore. Especially with all the brands of yoga props, and yoga clothes, and yoga tapes, and yoga books, and yoga music… yoga centers… The chances of finding ‘philosophically unrestrained’/’anything is possible’ individuals in these classes are the same as in your neighborhood’s swimming pool – possible, but not heightened in any way. So why waste the precious dollars? Unless, of course, you’re into the “finding peace and health with minimum effort” part – which I am, but I prefer tapes, to save those dollars.

I also thought about attending some events. And so I looked into some new-age publications, hoping to find some interesting speakers. But the amount of “renowned psychics” consulted “by police” and various “branches of government” made me too nervous. What if, on that odd chance that they actually have some power, they’ll discover my social insurance number, my passport and my credit card… Ok, ok. I just don’t want to spend all that time and money on figuring who is for real and who is a crook. I think there should be a psychic rating system out there. Something like “rottentomatoes.com” for the mediums.

So for now my search for likeminded souls is limited to bugging store-clerks at new-age bookstores and gambling with those not-too-heightened odds in my neighborhood’s swimming pool. The method works, though not as well as I would like. Or I wouldn’t be blogging here in the silent cyberspace.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Galina said...

Vasilisa, this makes so much sense. Religion (and spirituality) has always been both an individual and a communal experience, but in the last century, the "communal" part of it has undergone dramatic changes.

Seems to me that what you are looking for is a spiritual community - people who will engage in spiritual friendships with you, with some common ground being already there, without trying to force their own opinions on you.

It also seems to me that the community that you would like to find should be both seeker-friendly and finder-friendly. I.e., people who will not blast you as a heretic because you are seeking, doubting and exploring; and people who will not label you as "closed-minded" or know-it-all once you are genuinely onto something.

Those are hard to find, and I think one way to go about it is start building your own network of like-minded friends, and inviting them for a party once in a while.
: )

By the way, organized religions aren't all that they used to be.

A significant proportion of people who come to church feel alienated from both the "christian culture" and much of the message. I have found very few truly like-minded individuals in the church - and definitely no-one who will be able to relate to all of my spiritual kinks and quirks.

I personally keep coming to church because I want to experience Jesus, God, God's Spirit, etc. in context of a community - whether they "get" my opinions fully or not.

Lately I started looking for people who are "like-hearted" - not necessarily sharing my opinions, but those who believe that the true expression of Christian faith is in forgiveness, charity, being a good neighbour, caring for God's world, etc.

11:18 AM  
Blogger vasilisa said...

Thank you for the wonderful comment.

And it's true, finding like-minded individuals is getting harder every day, particularly now that we tend to be more isolated from each other, and often expect quick e-mails to substitute for what used to be a tea or coffee evening with a friend.

I guess the point is to cultivate those rare acquaintances that we do make, and attribute them to luck.

12:42 PM  

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