Impure Thoughts: the “Hot Chick Field.”

Via on Dec 8, 2011

Contrary to popular understanding, contemplation does not imply quietness or withdrawal. Instead, it is a quality of immediate, open presence that is directly involved with life-as-it-is.   –Gerald May[i]

What I say to you, I say to all: keep awake.       –Jesus[ii]

In A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams introduced us to the Someone Else’s Problem (S.E.P.) Field, a cloaking device that allows things to go unnoticed–such as a gigantic alien spaceship hovering over a cricket match–by tapping into peoples’ natural predilection not to see things they are unprepared to accept.

I have discovered that I project a number of such fields onto other people, making actual human beings invisible behind the veil of my ideas about them.  As a public service–in case we ever meet in person–here is a partial list of the fields I may project onto you:

The P.O.F. (Pokey Old Fart) Field. If you stand still in the middle of the supermarket with your cart blocking the aisle, or drive a car ten or more miles per hour below the posted speed limit, all I am likely to notice about you is your advanced age and how damned slow and in-the-way you are.  You may have risked your life in the Invasion of Normandy or fed transients during the Depression, but that isn’t getting me where I want to go right now.

The U.S.C. (Un-Spiritual Christian) Field. Sure, I see you showing up for church, volunteering to do stuff—but it’s obvious that you haven’t cultivated a deep relationship with God through spiritual practice like I have. You must be really shallow.

The T.W.I. (Third World Immigrant) Field.  Am I  s-p-e-a-k-i-n-g  s-l-o-w-l-y  e-n-o-u-g-h?

The S.Y.P. (Spiritual Yogi Poser) Field. Your cloud of woo-woo swirls around you like so much Patchouli incense; why should I try to look past it into your obviously deeply flaky soul?

The C.J.W. (Canvassing Jehovah’s Witness) Field. I simply cannot see a person under the overwrought suit–only a polite but inarticulate Watchtower dispenser. Bring it, bitch; I know more Bible than you.

The S.I.J. (Self-Important Jackass) Field. I don’t actually lose much sleep over this one (though maybe I should.)

And finally­, and perhaps most pernicious:

The H.C. (Hot Chick) Field.

This one, along with its near relation, The M.I.L.F. Field, is particularly difficult because, besides being highly opaque, obscuring the person around whom I project it almost entirely, its influence often outlasts the interaction, in the form of what classical Christian language calls “impure thoughts.” So while you–a complex, multi-dimensional human being–are kind enough to be talking to me, I am only listening to a stereotype, while under the almost complete control of my inner fifteen-year-old.

Christian moral teaching condemns such unchaste thinking irrespective of whether it leads to illicit behavior, because of the inherently objectifying effect it has on the way we perceive our fellow children of God. Fortunately, we are liable, not for every thought that pops into our heads, but only for the ones we willfully cultivate.

The familiar measure of the sinfulness of such thoughts was of course whether they had been intentionally “entertained,” or merely noticed and released…Truth be told, I was often a willing and cordial host, coaxing these thoughts to stay for dinner and dessert, and perhaps even to spend the night if this were not an inconvenience.”[iii]

So I have bad news and good news. The bad news is that if you find yourself projecting a field around someone, it is highly ineffective (for me, anyway) to tell yourself to stop. “Don’t objectify that Hot Chick in the short shorts,” I may tell myself–or “his reflexes aren’t what they used to be; he’s only trying to be safe”–or “all that arrogance is probably meant to shield a very frightened and insecure psyche”–but I will still be fighting an uphill battle trying to see through the field to the person behind it.

The good news is that spiritual practice works. This is easy for me, a Christian Yogi, to forget, because of the emphasis that both Yoga and Christianity place on mystical experience­. As long as I have yet to be “caught up into the third heaven[iv]” like Paul, or engulfed in samadhi like Ramakrisha, it’s easy to feel like my daily sadhana isn’t “working.” But my soul knows it is, however slowly, because of “the love, joy and peace it receives bit by bit from God as it grows.”[v]

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.[vi] 

The Greek word Paul uses for “transformation” is metamorphosis–to “change beyond” where we started out. Another New Testament word for renewing of the mind is metanoia. Usually translated as “repentance”, it is better understood as “a deep change of mind/heart brought about by a profound moment of clarity and understanding.”

I fear that some of Christianity has emphasized the dramatic metanoia over the quotidian metamorphosis, with the result that people look for something profound while missing the personal growth they are actually experiencing. If we really have to prove we are “born again” by speaking in tongues, then God help those of us who simply aren’t constituted that way. This is why the Zen teacher Sunryu Suzuki hardly ever talked about satori–sudden enlightenment experience–at all: he didn’t want people to fixate on dramatic mystical events and become discouraged if they were delayed in coming.

Of course, even if we never experience dramatic, life-changing events, it is still incumbent upon us to change.

Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.[vii]

I have found that no amount of willing myself to change really has any effect–not internally, anyway. I can “fake it till I make it” sometimes, behaving as I know I ought to until the behavior carves a new set of samskaras in my chitta, and of course going around the sun a certain number of times imparts some experiential wisdom, but for the most part, any positive changes that have happened in me have their roots in regular sadhana, or spiritual practice.

One of these is my increasing ability to release thoughts instead of being hijacked by them. I am still far from the “freedom of Christ”[viii] or the moksha (liberation) of the advanced yogi, but as I learn to check in with myself, letting go of thoughts and awakening, however briefly, from my field-projecting dreams into the wakefulness of the present moment, my “increasing availability to the truth”[ix] is giving me the knack of “seeing through exterior things, and seeing God in them.”[x] Even supple young things in short shorts, on a good day. This is a skill I have developed on the cushion, and which I am now able to deploy in day-to-day life. “What we plant in the soil of contemplation, we reap in the harvest of action.”[xi]

During this season of Advent, Christians around the world double down on their spiritual practice as we await the observance of Jesus’ birth. Many of the hymns and sermons we hear during this time contrast His first coming in a stable to his awaited “second coming” on clouds of glory. Which might or might not be on the docket–profounder theological minds than mine have wrangled over the meaning of biblical stories about the eschaton, or “end times.” But I’ve noticed that the New Testament epistles–especially the letters of Peter–refer far less to the “second coming” of Jesus than to His apocalypsis, or “revelation.” (Literally, “taking away the veil.”) To my mind, this implies that we will see Jesus when the scales fall from our eyes; if we are, as the baptismal vow charges us, to “seek and serve Christ in all persons,”[xii] He must be here already, waiting to be revealed. Christ must be here right now, behind the fields we project around other people, eager to be sought and served.

So this will be my Advent sadhana: to take an active role in the apocalypsis, to midwife the birth of Christ into this world through the people around me; to take away the veil of impurity and self-serving to see the Divine purusha, or Indweller, in every person I meet, including myself. As the 14th century German mystic Meister Eckhardt said,

We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born. What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen centuries ago, if I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time, and in my culture?

Meister Eckhardt

 

Check out my Spiritual Direction website!

 


[i] The Awakened Heart: Opening Yourself to the Love You Need

[ii] Mark 13:37

[iii] Forgetting Ourselves on Purpose: Vocation and the Ethics of Ambition

[iv] 2 Corinthians 12

[v] Evelyn Underhill, The Ways of the Spirit

[vi] Romans 12:2

[vii] Matthew 18:3

[viii] Galatians 5:1

[ix] Gerald May

[x] Thomas Merton, No Man is an Island

[xi] Meister Eckhardt, 14th c. German mystic

[xii] Book of Common Prayer

About Scott Robinson

Scott Robinson taught college music at a Christian university for ten years before leaving to pursue creative work and fatherhood.  He has written for Sojourners Magazine, PRISM, Cross Currents, Minnesota Parent, the Philadelphia Inquirer and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.  He currently composes, records and performs original kirtan with his band Mandala mandalaband.net. Scott is a professed member of the Third Order of St. Francis,  and lives in Philadelphia with his wife, two children, and two incessantly shedding dogs. 

4,506 views

15 Responses to “Impure Thoughts: the “Hot Chick Field.””

  1. Madelain Burgoyne says:

    This was beautifully written, Love your style and for being straight. Resonate with all the above!

    Printing Printing your “epistle”, Sharing and e-mailing to all my awesome friends who wld appreciate this.

    Hope you don’t get too much defensive & angry mail and comments. rock on!

    • Madelain Burgoyne says:

      I loved This: "So this will be my Advent sadhana: to take an active role in the apocalypsis, to midwife the birth of Christ into this world through the people around me; to take away the veil of impurity and self-serving to see the Divine purusha, or Indweller, in every person I meet, including myself. As the 14th century German mystic Meister Eckhardt said,

      We are all meant to be mothers of God, for God is always needing to be born. What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the Son of God fourteen centuries ago, if I do not also give birth to the Son of God in my time, and in my culture?"

      Thanks you
      Namaste!

  2. Disappointed says:

    Is this supposed to be enlightening? "good enough to be talking to me"? "I am under complete control of my inner fifteen year old"? i know I misquoted that, it is just not worth scrolling up to quote correctly. I am sorry, but this is not inspiring. It is one thing to admit that we are human, it is another to waste everyone's time that could be more usefully spent on all of the practices you mentioned later on on producing this. You are still objectifying people and being prejudice, which is fine to struggle with… I am just not sure why it is being published.

  3. redvoid says:

    ah yet another "Christian Yogi". That implies you know little about either Christianity or Yoga. In 1 the flesh is sinful, and in the other both yin & yang are two equal parts of a transcendent truth and the body is the vehicle for discovering truth, not something to be hidden, flayed and subjugated. Despite your fluffy examples of similitude, the differences are far more fundamental and irreconcilable. Its only with the highest levels of intellectual slop that the two vastly different ideals could be conflated, and only a simpleton who would try. The fact that you "struggle" so much with these inner battles shows you're more Christian than Yogi, a very shallow, un-insightful, and likely inwardly confused one at that.

    • Scott Robinson YesuDas says:

      Actually, redvoid, Christianity is predicated on God *becoming* flesh; where exactly does it say in the Gospels that the flesh is "sinful"?

      • redvoid says:

        where does the Bible say that? um, like everywhere for those who actually read the Bible.

        John 6:63 “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing"

        Galatians 5:16-17 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh"

        Romans 13:14 “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”

        Galatians 5:24-25 “And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”

        Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”

        Romans 8:4 “That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.”

        Romans 8:5-6 “For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally (worldly) minded is death; but to be spiritually (Word) minded is life and peace.”

        James 1:13-15 “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.”

        Romans 8:7-8 “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” The carnal, fleshly mind is hatred against God and the things of God and it cannot be subject to the Word of God. Why can’t you please God in the flesh? Because the flesh lives by what you see and if you live by what you see you can’t live by faith and without faith it is impossible to please God. Romans 10:17 “Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

        Hebrews 11:6 “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”

        Romans 8:9-10 “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.”

        Romans 8:12-14 “Therefore, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live after the flesh. For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.”

        (John 6:63-64). “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not.”

        and I could go on… but like I said your view kinda shows you don't know much about either Christianity or Yoga.

        • Scott Robinson YesuDas says:

          Those passages all use the Greek word "sarx," which, though traditionally translated as "flesh," does not usually directly refer to the body as such–"soma" is the word for that. "Sarx" more accurately refers to our "carnal" condition (where the "H.C. Field" originates) as against our spiritual aspirations.

  4. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Just posted to "Featured Today" on the Elephant Yoga homepage. Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook.

  5. Tanya Lee Markul Tanya Lee Markul says:

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Tanya Lee Markul, Yoga Editor
    Join us! Like Elephant Yoga on Facebook
    Follow on Twitter

  6. manrice says:

    Thanks to thinkers and writers like yourself, this is going to be the best Christmas ever. What a wonderful way to approach this time; with humility, optimism, hope, a spirit of inquiry, and best of all, humour. I bet Jesus Christ loved to laugh; I bet he loved a good joke. My wife visualizes Jesus and Buddha as just a couple of humans, sitting at a sidewalk cafe in Paris, in contemporary duds, watching humanity and sipping something hot. And loving us.

  7. Darcey Canori says:

    Angela , the true maker is bodyscoop ltd / capsiplexdiet.com and not capsiplex.com bodyscoop.org have also launched Capsiplus which is the same formula with added acai berry for detox and weight loss!

Leave a Reply