Cutting The Sh*t: Come As You Are.

Via on Sep 4, 2012

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Dogma Free Spirituality (Part One)

I’d like to begin by providing the link to my previous article which serves as an introduction to both this, and some of my other forthcoming articles directly relating to “Dogma Free Spirituality.” I recommend checking that out first if you haven’t already, as it lays out the bigger picture. You can read it here.

We already have everything we need. There is no need for self-improvement. All these trips that we lay on ourselves—the heavy-duty fearing that we’re bad and hoping that we’re good, the identities that we so dearly cling to, the rage, the jealousy and the addictions of all kinds—never touch our basic wealth.”

~ Pema Chodron

Honestly, I feel like I could end the article right now with that quote as it sums up perfectly what I’d like to convey, but that wouldn’t allow me to pimp my own writing and we can’t have that now can we?!

In my previous article, I talked about the impact that the punk/hardcore music scene had on me, especially in developing my inquisitive nature and in teaching me not to accept everything at face value, which popular society and mass media obviously would prefer we do.

A friend of a friend of mine described the punk scene as, “A last ditch effort for authenticity in a world increasingly devoid of it.” And from my personal experience, I definitely agree.

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PHOTO: Manny Valdes

During the early nineties I stood out like a sore thumb in high school.

I was a pierced skateboarder who wore punk t-shirts (many of which landed me in the principal’s office) in a town and a time where it was not socially acceptable (a lot really has changed over the last 20 years). I’ll admit that I was young and naïve and didn’t totally understand what I was rebelling against a lot of the time. It was still, however, an amazing lesson in learning not to care what others thought—albeit often on a materialistic level—but it ultimately carried over and played a huge role later on in my life while developing my own sense of spirituality.

My high school was small but like any traditional high school, athletics was the driving force behind popularity and acceptance and not just by your classmates, but the town in general. I’m not knocking those who played sports, I was on the soccer team from elementary school through seventh grade and played organized hockey for much of my youth as well. Where I lived, though, it defined you. So when I left soccer to pursue playing music, I got my first taste of not fitting into the status quo and just how uncomfortable that could make other people who lived their lives based around it.

The thing was, even though my outer self didn’t fit in, my heart and sense of right and wrong were increasingly growing and taking a stand where others, specifically the ones who were more favorably viewed by teachers and the town in general, wouldn’t.

For example, homophobia was rampant in my school but thanks to the inclusive nature I’d been learning through punk/hardcore ethics, I knew that wasn’t cool and I had no problem speaking up when others would say the word “faggot” as an insult and in the most hateful of ways. This definitely didn’t earn me any cool points, but I could have given a shit about that. I should also mention that, of course, I learned a sense of right and wrong from my parents that I took seriously, but punk taught me not to cave to peer pressure, like the majority of other students would.

I’m in no way trying to toot my own horn but rather convey through example how grateful I am to have learned to truly follow my own heart at that young age thanks to punk/hardcore.

So in tying that together with the spiritual aspect of this article, the truth I’m most grateful to have experienced on a personal level, one which others have balked at which meant very little to me, is that God, Universe, Buddha, Krishna, Jesus, Mohammed, Spirit, Higher Self, ad infinitum, couldn’t give less of a shit about what we look like on the outside.

It doesn’t matter if we adopt a specific religion, spiritual path and vocabulary, have tattoos or piercings, wear a suit and tie, repent our sins, tithe or repeat specific mantras a certain amount of times.

It’s our heart and intention that matter the most. So if we’re coming from our hearts, yet not practicing a particular mantra or prayer perfectly, it doesn’t mean the merit isn’t being accumulated.

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PHOTO: bixentro

In the interest of full disclosure, let me state unequivocally that I do use mantra practices and meditate daily. I’m a part of a spiritual community and read the literature of the great wisdom traditions, so I have nothing against any of that at all. My point is that unless I’m coming from the heart while engaging in such devotional practices, then it’s empty. I’m doing nothing more than paying lip service.

The cool thing is, though, even that doesn’t really matter because we will ultimately remember our true self sooner or later, whether it’s in this lifetime or another. It’s inherent in us so how could we not? It’s a love that is never apart from us, we’ve just covered it up with so much stuff it’s often overlooked.

The other cool thing is that if none of those practices resonate with you right now, doing things like gardening, hiking, listening to music or dancing etc.—mindfully, with a sense of love, peace, joy and happiness—are just as valid of a “spiritual” practice as anything else. Chances are better than not that over time, immersing yourself wholeheartedly in those things will more than likely lead you to explore more traditional styles of practice, which, over time, will cultivate an even deeper experience of your self.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with two things. The first is a comment someone left on my previous article, which beautifully summed up my point in relation to her own experience. The second is a video from one of my favorite current emcees on the Rhymesayers Label named Blueprint. The song is not spiritual per se, but it has a strong message, which reflects honoring the truth of who we are. Oh, and it also has an insanely amazing beat as well. Just sayin’…

Here’s what I love about this article: Everything! And here’s why: Because it makes everything okay… Not just okay, but somehow beautiful and wonderful and perfect and cool even. It’s suddenly okay that I’m still stuck in my ego mind, that I use four letter words, that I’m so tired of being weird and isolated, that I have spent my entire life trying to get there and yet most times I suck at spirituality, that I feel like it’s now okay to just say: I suck at spirituality!!! Thank you Chris, because what you have conveyed is acceptance. True acceptance and that is the door. ~ Athina

Blueprint- Radio-Inactive

They tried to hit me with the same thing you probably would have fell for, “Make it more commercial Print, you probably would sell more.” But I’m eating now, so I’m like, “What the hell for?” Telling me to change only makes me rebel more.

~ Blueprint

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Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

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About Chris Grosso

Chris Grosso is an independent culturist, freelance writer, spiritual aspirant, recovering addict, and musician. He serves as spiritual director of the interfaith center The Sanctuary at Shepardfields and created the popular hub for all things alternative, independent, and spiritual with TheIndieSpiritualist.com. Chris continues the exploration with his debut book titled Indie Spiritualist: A No Bullshit Exploration of Spirituality (Atria Books/Simon & Schuster). A self-taught musician, Chris has been writing, recording, and touring since the mid-1990s. Follow Chris on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

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17 Responses to “Cutting The Sh*t: Come As You Are.”

  1. Lotus28 says:

    All I can really say is: Yeah! Keep ´em coming, Chris!

  2. John Roy says:

    I'm psyched to see you over here doing your thing. I've been a subscriber for awhile but haven't really been tuning in lately. Thought it would be a natural connection though. At your own site you really let the other folks talk so it is nice to hear your voice convey subtle insights directly drawing from the streams of wisdom you are privy too. Nice of course that you found my comment worthy of inclusion in your next installment as well . The person quoted was one of the most profound people I've ever known who genuinely asked night after night what's up with you and fully listened and fully responded because that's exactly what was happening. There was always the sense there was nothing more important than this checking in and as much as we habitual want to check out the deeper longing always is to check in, to feel and relate with what's going on. I love Athena's comment that you quoted as well as yourself here: "The cool thing is, though, even that doesn’t really matter because we will ultimately remember our true self sooner or later, whether it’s in this lifetime or another. It’s inherent in us so how could we not? It’s a love that is never apart from us, we’ve just covered it up with so much stuff it’s often overlooked."

    • Chris says:

      Thanks John. That means a lot. You know I'm a huge fan of your writing, always have been, so it means a lot to have your support. I've purposely wanted to leave the TIS page as a place that's purely and exploration of various ideas, cultures etc without asserting myself into it! Your friend/mentor sounds amazing and that comment totally resonated with me so I had to incorporate it! Is he/she still in your life today? As for my quote that you commented on, I'm just sharing my experience and what really resonates in my heart while trying to keep perspective on the fact that it's my experience and not necessarily the way it absolutely is!!!

  3. Sajida M. says:

    Little something this reminded me of:

    Fame or integrity: which is more important?
    Money or happiness: which is more valuable?
    Success or failure: which is more destructive?

    If you look to others for fulfillment,
    you will never truly be fulfilled.
    If your happiness depends on money,
    you will never be happy with yourself.

    Be content with what you have;
    rejoice in the way things are.
    When you realize there is nothing lacking,
    the whole world belongs to you.

    –Tao Te Ching
    ;-) thanks for sharing, Chris.

  4. Andrew says:

    This is an excellent post. A friend of mine turned me on to your writing here and I'm a relatively new member who is perhaps not too far along on the path of spiritually but very interested and intrigued at the ideas and how to put them into place in my life. It was really great to read a story from someone who grew up in nearly the identical climate I did. Small town, large punk influence, rebelling endlessly but at the time not entirely sure why, even down to the time spent in the principles office over band shirts. The music scene in a neighboring city may have saved my life back then when I otherwise didn't have a lot going for me and at the same time unknownlingly it did teach me acceptance and allowed me to avoid peer pressure because I didn't need to belong there, I belonged elsewhere. Justin Sane of Anti-Flag fame wrote a song called "These Are The Days" that reminds me of that time very much. I really enjoy your style and perspective on the posts I've read. I hope I see more soon, thanks!

    • Chris says:

      That's awesome Andrew and I'm really glad you were able to relate and this resonated with you! It's people such as yourself who are newer to "spirituality" that I especially enjoy reaching because so much of the stigma attached to all of it can be a real turn off and I'm basically here to say it doesn't have to be like that and don't let it scare you away! As you know from punk influences, follow your truth! Only you know what's really going on in your heart, follow that!

      And yes, Anti-Flag!

      Thanks again.

  5. AlannaK says:

    Chris – I said it before in your last post, and I'll say it again for this one: It's about time, it's about time, it's about time. Please keep writing about this! My fave line from this post: "The cool thing is, though, even that doesn’t really matter because we will ultimately remember our true self sooner or later"

    Indeed.

  6. Chris says:

    Thanks so much Alanna! I have three more articles specifically related to this topic and my agent is also narrowing down publishers on my forthcoming book which tackles this and has some cool contributions from Krishna Das, don Jose Ruiz, Shiva Rea, Dr. Bernie Siegel, Jack Canfield, Jai Uttal and a bunch of others!

    I'm grateful for your support and it's so nice to know this resonates with you and others!

  7. [...] Maybe there’s a practice worth doing? [...]

  8. [...] in one sense: I know I’m no longer holding back, lying or manipulating to get my way. I’m being authentic, and that does feel [...]

  9. [...] Dogma is dangerous! To say that something is always wrong or something should never be done feeds into fear and at best is unhelpful and at worst is harmful. There are two big reasons why some teachers will render these prejudicial statements: [...]

  10. [...] a sense of self, but I had very little idea of who I really was. I began getting pierced at 16 and tattooed at 18, which was the earliest I legally could do so in my [...]

  11. [...] Dogma is dangerous! To say that something is always wrong or something should never be done feeds into fear and at best is unhelpful and at worst is harmful. There are two big reasons why some teachers will render these prejudicial statements: [...]

  12. [...] But, that’s what we’re supposed to be working on, right? That’s why we’re here. To learn to accept ourselves and enjoy the journey without striving for an end result or approval. [...]

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