New Year Resolution: Get Religion—Quickly…

I only have a few years on this planet—we all do—what with mortality and all that jazz, inevitability and all that rap, just a few seasons to sow and reap and sock away the harvest, for somebody’s grandkids, if not our own, making hay while the sun shines, making love while the sap rises, win or lose or learn how to draw; and the question always arises, especially at this time of year: what have we accomplished? What have we done? What does it all mean, if anything, when the scores have been tallied and the races all run?

If you’re like me, then maybe you’re too often thinking: not much. But should it? Is anyone keeping score? The Eternal Now human contingent likes to maintain that life is not meant for meaning, anyway—tautology noted—but for enjoyment: constant eternal infinite bliss. Sounds good, but is it really any more accurate? It might just depend fundamentally on whether you’re a rationalist or an empiricist, a thinker or a doer, Latino or Germanic, tranquilo or a bit manic…

You may think that you love this earth, and indeed you may, this earth and this horizontal plane of existence, where light passes through a prism and the many colors, sights and sensations are all to be found, splayed out, within that narrow spectrum of our perception, each one labeled and categorized by the boundaries of science, so-called knowledge, physical knowledge, but that’s not enough; at some point you have to make your peace with it, not just love it, and that means hard decisions and soft footsteps.

Me, after a long year of work and stress, sturm und drang, I plan to get myself to a Buddhist monastery ASAP to await further inspiration and the US electoral vote in November to see where I stand and where I fall, whether I’ll reinvest in the Godforsaken USA if at all. No no no, that’s not a ‘retreat’ I’m talking about, much too ‘New-Agey’ for me, just the normal process of Buddhist indoctrination for the typical Thai in Thailand, which I could pull off easily enough, were it not for my white ass and slight Scottish accent.

That’s not necessary, of course, the full immersion technique, but getting religion might be, though. Buddhism is all about the Middle Path between extremes and reconciliation of opposites, of course, with a certain pacifism implied. One of the main critiques of Buddhism—mine, at least—is its apparent passivity, if allowed to go down that route, but it doesn’t have to be that way. All religions in 2015 are caricatures of themselves and Buddhism is no exception.

But there’s plenty of good here worth saving, albeit with some updates for the times. It takes patience. I have traveled to almost every country in the world and find nothing to compare with the pure white light of Spirit for satisfaction and fulfillment. But there is no reason to think that rushing our embrace of the light confers any advantage upon us, and all indications are that our period of trials and tribulations on this plane of existence will serve us well upon our eventual return to the light from which we came.

There are no shortcuts. Now I’m sure that ‘selling your soul to the devil’ in order to play or write or sing like the devil means to do drugs, milking yourself dry, just for that momentary pie in the sky, that feeling of omnipotence—but that’s no good. And I have no intention of total renunciation any time soon, either, but that eventuality is likely sooner or later. After all, is there a better way to spend your final years? I may not wanna’ fight no’ mo’, but that doesn’t mean I’ve gotten soft—quite the contrary, in fact.

My motto: Love everyone, but trust no one. There’s no reason to, and you shouldn’t have to. People will disappoint you, almost every time. I may not see most of my family or friends ever again—and that’s okay. Most I haven’t seen in years, anyway. For most people family and friends are just so many possessions to ‘have and to hold’ or even worse—to ‘own’. We’ve gotten soft and sentimental and not much more enlightened over the years, slaves to our memories and servants to our sentiments.

Only a hundred years ago, when a person immigrated, that’s the last he ever saw of the old world, and the last he ever knew of those left behind, in most cases. Life was a process of starting anew every day, and our souls were likely the better for it. Not that there’s anything wrong with the various ‘social media’ that populate our modern landscapes, just that there’s nothing very special about them, either. Pilgrims were tough, and spiritually disciplined. They had to be. Me, I persevere. p.s. Good luck out there! Happy New Year!