Friday, May 17, 2013

Where is Paradise? On Spiritual Navel Gazing...

Look within, spiritual navel gazers say. The Kingdom lies within. The answer is within you. Look inside and find your own bliss. Look inside and  (fill in the blank here). Visualize something (usually a job, lover or material object) and you will manifest it. People keep telling me that the Inner world is so much superior to the Outer world. This leads to some sort of spiritual narcissism where nothing exists but our own feelings, thoughts, dreams, consciousness. Enough of this myopia.

I encourage you to look around you. Look outside yourself: that's where you'll find Paradise. I think most of us spend way too much time contemplating ourselves. We fret about our waist lines, health, checkbooks, breath, job security, salvation---reasonable anxieties, sure. But how important are they really? And do I find Paradise by closing my eyes and listening to my own breath and stilling my mind? I've always been rather bored with the whole practice. Helpful, sure. Still reeks of spiritual solipsism to me.

Paradise isn't within; it is outside my porch.

Have you gone for a walk in the woods lately? Looked into the eyes of a loved one? Have you watched a sunset? Smelled the ocean? Climbed a hill to see a view? Admired a flower? Been spooked by a rattler? Watched dogs run and play? Have you seen something wild lately? Watched a coyote run off? Peered over the edge of a cliff? Admired a Grosbeak? Spent time watching a bird feeder? Have you seen a squirrel jump from tree to tree--aerial acrobatics far superior to any Flying Wallenda? Have you watched the wind blow through 100 foot tall Ponderosas that sway just outside this house? Have you listened to the coyotes sing (God's song dog) at sunset? Have you listened to a creek lately? Or the screech of a hawk or the chirping of a house finch? Have you listened to the wings of a hummingbird make that buzzing sound?

Nothing inside me rivals any of the items above. There is no bliss without the things above. Look within? No. Look without; the view is better. I intend to enjoy it while I can.


  1. Nice post. As good short nature-writing as I've read.

    Also I think that an inward-looking focus, while probably innate to particular individuals (I hesitate to use the term 'weak-minded'), can be oversold in the service of trying to escape the worries of modern civilization, which are compounded by our separation from nature (a la Ed Abbey, Richard Louv, Paul Shepard, you, etc.)

    Like you say, best to look outwards, and revel in the beauties of nature, and fill the Void that way.

  2. That's high praise coming from you Bill. I've enjoyed your comments and appreciate your feedback. Thanks! I think I'll give this piece a little more attention and send it off to a couple of editors I know...

  3. I enjoy your columns. I hope I'm not the only one reading them! I'm a little reluctant to comment sometimes; if I'm the sole commenter, people might think I'm a paid shill.

    Aw, who cares? WTF, I'll keep commenting. Maybe sometime I'll throw in an outrageous internet-type of comment to keep you on your toes (lol!)

  4. Thanks Bill. I get around 100 hits a day. 15 or 16 regular visitors. I might add that all of those visitors are highly intelligent, amazingly gifted people. Above average in every way: looks, intelligence, wit, charm.

    ust ran across this by John Muir: “I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.”
    ― John Muir

    I'm in good company.

  5. We have as of now seen that the expression "navel" was in days of yore utilized within numerous dialects for "focus," and that the Pole, or main issue of the rotating star groupings, was the "Navel of Heaven." But as to the divine Pole there compares a physical one, so it is just characteristic that to the term the "Navel of Heaven" there ought to be the relating articulation the "Navel of the Earth."
    Meditation on Inner Celestial Light and Sound