I actively strive against ascribing a metanarrative to my spiritual life and religious endeavors, and I work very hard to avoid identifying Who I love with what I do. Of course, despite consistent efforts I cannot avoid looking for reasons and explanations and easily identifiable causes and effects regarding the patterns that emerge in my spiritual life. What did this thing happen to me? What purpose does this change serve? What is indicated by this possible trend? And of course, the personalities behind the attention I pay sometimes get tangled together with the actual embodied doing of practice. That is, it’s entirely easy to lose sight of, say, Loki when you’re quite busy trying to make things very nice and very perfect and very welcoming for Loki. It’s a common pitfall among devotionalists. It’s a common pitfall among ritualists. It’s a common pitfall period. (“Why are you asking if I love you? Can’t you see everything I’m doing for you??”)
When I remember to, I remind myself that even the dharma is empty. To paraphrase, this means that meaning does not exist outside of its attribution by an observing mind. Meaning is imposed. Meaning is a disturbance in the field of perception. Checking the tendency to heap meaning and significance and indicative weight into the observation of my spiritual development helps me deal with Things As They Are, rather than Things As I Believe Them to Be.
(I am not any stripe of Buddhist but certain currents of Buddhist philosophy have had a distinct impact on my life via various teachers and various experiences I’ve had. I find the stance of (certain) Buddhist philosophies to be exceptionally refreshing in their practicality and groundedness. I sometimes dip my toes into the water of learning more about these philosophies but then I get scared by the realness and have to run away for another couple years before trying again.)
All this said, there’s no question that finally letting the Virtual Temple Project loose in the world and sharing the first installment of Loki’s temple videos have had some meaningful effects. What is seen on these webpages and on these videos are just the packaging of some processes that were initiated a very long time ago. Seeing what I had the capacity to perform was surprising enough; finding my brain leaping forward to the next stage of the larger process that this project was part of was very surprising – even though it shouldn’t have been. Every time I learn something new – a new skill, a new set of facts, a new artistic medium – I mentally leap forward to play with ideas about application, evolution, and exploration. While this means that I’m never without some new project to play with, this is not necessarily a good trait; it means that I’m constantly trying to live in a future that doesn’t exist rather than engaging fully and honestly with what’s in front of me. It means that I create elaborate scenarios featuring an imagined future that is not in any way based in reality as it actually is.
This tendency to live ten minutes in the future has played havoc with my spiritual life, as you might imagine. I’ve spent a lot of time rushing forward into tragedies that aren’t necessarily indicated and wasted a lot of effort taking on tasks that, while real and valid and part of my purview and service, could also be handled by others. There is actually a difference between “This is part of your job” and “This is a job that you OR OTHERS could do”.
Despite leaping forward into all kinds of imagined futures and conjured scenarios, I’m actually incredibly hesitant to make major changes in my life, especially spiritually. This weekend I had a breakthrough regarding why this was. There are fears beneath fears – and fears beneath those fears – and identifying them as best I’m able is necessary in order to make as informed a decision as possible about my future and my present.
There are new and exciting things close ahead, and there are new and exciting things right now. Another video of Loki’s temple space will be made around the end of the month for release in early May. I have plans for two additional temple spaces that I’ll be working on, too. I hope to see other people filming worship spaces to share with the world. I have travel plans to finalize and presentation notes to polish. I have books I’m working on (slowly) and an awful lot of reading I’m working on (also slowly).
I’m also taking a step towards more formalized engagement in one of my traditions. This is a big development for me, even if the outward signs of this shift are but minimal. A sacrifice of certainty must be made. I won’t be able to imagine ten minutes into the future because even the current data is entirely unknown. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to heap all my assumptions, hopes, desires, and comforts into the transformative fire but I’m finally seeing some of my limiting fears for what they actually are.
My Mother comes in many forms and my love for Her encourages me to always tear down every obstacle obscuring my sight of Her. Risk and reward exist in equal measures on this path. For Her I keep holding the contradictions and ignoring the implausible appearances. My Lord’s bright form illuminates and reveals, scourges and burns. Gaining knowledge doesn’t come without shedding prior truths, and for a while I must stand empty of knowing and filled with only sensation.