Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Church of Me

Scott Bradley


I confess to taking distinct pleasure in saying the "wrong" thing. The Church of Me sounds like downright heresy, a complete departure from the fundamentals of so-called spirituality. And it is, if taken in the wrong sense. On the other hand, it is the essence of spiritual pilgrimage if one is able to excommunicate oneself from it in such a way as to create the No-Church of Me.

Let's be clear, there is nothing in life that is not a tenuous and simultaneous expression of "is and is not", "neither the one nor the other". It's all about "me", but "me” is the problem. We are invited to be a self that is empty, but is a self nonetheless. "Me" is the universe, the place where the universe in experienced, known and transformed. The work begins and ends here.

To speak of The Church of Me is to point to the fundamental reality that the entire onus of being human rests on the individual. No one shares your consciousness; you are alone in your head, alone with your universe. Yes, yes, there are community, significant others, unfathomable interconnectedness; good stuff, but still you are alone. Yes, there is responsibility for and toward others; but still you are alone. Yes, there are teachers and gurus; but still you are alone. The Church of Me is a recognition that the work happens here with and by me.

This may seem self-evident, but as Zhuangzi and so many others point out, we frequently "seek it somewhere else". We look to others and to the paths of others to establish our own; we shirk that essential responsibility to grow our own unique way.

I'm happy enough with The Church of Me because I realize that its most genuine expression is as a No-Church of Me, one in which wu loses wo, self becomes unfixed and free-wheeling. In the Church of Me "me" is continually excommunicated.

What happens in "church"? Celebration. We celebrate ourselves; anything else would be to refuse the gift. Work. It is a place of transformation. Empowerment. Discovering harmony in ourselves, we bring it to the world.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. You make an excellent point here, and in order to be able to show compassion and kindness to others we must first be able to do this for ourselves. Or, to quote the Buddha:

    “It is possible to travel the whole world in search of one who is more worthy of compassion than oneself. No such person can be found.”

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