It’s interesting. Since I launched the site and pulled the curtain back on Open Source Spirituality, there’s been one response that I’ve received more than any other.
From moms to metalheads to former-Mormons. The people are very different, but the message is always the same:
Thank you for putting yourself out there. And for showing that it’s okay to be me.
The funny thing is, the reaction usually comes before they’ve even had a chance to dig into the ideas.
More often than not, it starts with the silly Fuck Spiritual. Be You. picture below (and in the sidebar of my site).
So why is that so shocking?
Why should that, of all things, make any difference to anyone?
Because we’re all afraid to reveal who we really are.
And because “spiritual” people don’t say fuck.
We’ve been handed this idea of what it means to be spiritual… Peaceful. Transcendent. Free from emotion. Free from ego personality.
It’s easy to be “spiritual.” It’s easy to be pleasant and peaceful and unaffected.
It’s easy to pretend.
It’s easy because it’s safe; and it’s fake; and it comes with a roadmap.
All we have to do is follow the stereotype and project the right image. (When in doubt, just smile placidly and say Namaste.)
Being authentic is scary.
We all want, more than anything, to be ourselves. To express ourselves. To be seen and accepted. And appreciated for what we have to offer.
But we’re afraid that if we do express ourselves—if we reveal who we really are—the people in our lives will reject us and abandon us.
They won’t want to see. They won’t accept.
And the shitty thing is…
Not everyone of course. But some.
And sometimes it’s the people who really matter.
It could be your parents, or your best friend, or your lover.
No matter how hard you try, some people will reject you.
And the more you are who you are, the more rejection you’re going to face.
Because the most beautiful thing about you—the thing most likely to offend others—is YOU.
Scary? Yes. But here’s the good part.
Having a personality—being an actual person—let’s people form an opinion.
Sometimes that means you get rejected. But sometimes it means you get to connect and engage at a much deeper level.
But until you put yourself out there, you’re just stuck in the middle. You don’t risk the rejection. But you never make the connection either.
Which brings us back to the Fuck Spiritual. Be You. picture…
I don’t exactly fit the “spiritual” stereotype. And when I was just getting started, I wasn’t sure what to do about that.
I wasted a lot of time trying to figure out how to not offend the old spiritual-but-not-religious crowd.
I was sure my ideas would help them. But I was also sure that my personality would rub them the wrong way. And so I kept trying to figure out how to take me out of the equation.
It was difficult, and depressing. And it kept me stuck for quite a while.
The turning point came when I attended a New Age expo in Nashville a few years ago.
I remember walking around this giant room, looking for anything different or interesting. I found costumed gurus and costumed psychics and crystal peddlers and approximately 270,000 certified Reiki masters…
And I thought, these are not the people I want to spend the rest of my life hanging out with!
Followed quickly by, what the hell am I going to do??
I already knew that this was my life’s path. I knew that my unusual insights into the contemplative arts were the most meaningful gift I had to give.
But “Open Source Spirituality” didn’t exist yet… It was still in pieces. And it didn’t come together until I realized that I could share that gift with people who I wouldn’t need to hide from.
So I decided to let people see me.
Initially it was just my own act of courage. An effort to express who I really am, and hopefully build a life engaging with people who I could actually connect with.
But the more I revealed, the more I realized that authenticity was the point.
Not “spiritual.” Not “evolved.” Not “enlightened.”
Whatever that means… However that changes as you grow… Just be you.
For me, that means goofy pictures that express my personality, and a tagline that lets people form an opinion.
For you, it will be something else.
And the “spiritual” crowd? So far they’re predictably offended. They hide their shock, politely dismiss themselves, and go back to Namaste’ing with their friends.
And that’s probably for the best.
There’s a big difference between being spiritual, and being “spiritual.” And I’m definitely not the latter.
The question is: why are YOU here?
What is it that you’re looking for?
If you want to let go of your negative emotions… If you want life to be safe and simple… If you want to make the people you love, love you back…
Then you’re in the wrong place.
Spirituality isn’t safe
It isn’t easy. It isn’t smooth. And it isn’t going to make people love you.
But it will change you.
You’ll wake up. You’ll break down. You’ll weep for beauty and connection. You’ll laugh and love and fight and fuck. And fall ass-backwards into mind-bending experiences that no one will understand…
But you won’t be safe.
You won’t avoid the things you don’t want to feel.
And if you use it as a path to authenticity, you’ll face an awful lot of rejection.
Because that’s the price of being YOU.
It’s the part that none of us signs up for—but all of us get anyway.
Not the most enticing pitch, is it?
Call it truth in advertising.
And if you still think that spiritual people don’t say fuck… If you still think it’s all about an even hand and a safe and steady passage… No worries. Keep up the search. And thanks for stopping by.
For the rest of you…
YOU, with the irreverent spirit…
YOU, with the inner-grin and the hopeful heart…
YOU, with everything to gain; and everything to lose…
We’ve been waiting for you.