“The game is not about becoming somebody, it’s about becoming nobody.” ~ Ram Dass
I love diversity and I’m glad that I have friends who have virtually no interest in spirituality because as with anything else in life, they help me consider things from different angles than that of just a spiritual practitioner (though often unbeknownst to them).
I recently had a conversation with one of those friends while she was taking some bio pictures of me for my website (oh self-aggrandizement, you’re an alluring bitch). She playfully cracked on my interest in spirituality and joked about how I wasn’t smiling enough in the photos while saying, “what would all of the spiritual people think?” I didn’t think much of it at the time but later on, I really began to ponder why I was particularly drawn to spirituality yet she wasn’t, and how that playful comment about what “spiritual people” would think, actually said a lot more than I initially realized.
My friend and I are both similar in many respects, we have a lot of tattoos, love underground culture, look for more than what life has to offer at face value and so forth, but when it comes to spirituality, she has little to no interest at all. And I have to say that after really thinking about a lot of what passes for spirituality these days, I can’t say that I blame her in the slightest.
Some years ago, I was at the breaking point in my life. Years of active drug and alcohol addiction left me at a place where I was going to either literally kill myself, or find a better way to live. It was a dark time for me, but one that proved to be the catalyst, which pushed me to find a more integrally healthy lifestyle. For people like my friend, however, people who aren’t at the edge of death, or insanity, or backed into a corner like I was, they often don’t feel compelled to seek out more from life. If they do however, and look for it in much of today’s contemporary spirituality, it’s often not long before they remember why they hadn’t looked there in the first place.
Much of today’s spirituality has become a business, and business is good, but for the people I addressed in my last paragraph, people like my friend, and many others, who can see through bullshit a mile away, much of today’s “spirituality” just doesn’t appeal to them. I mean, some of the shit that passes for spirituality these days blows my mind, and the price tags attached to it, well, like I said, business is good.
So much of this spirituality is presented as pretty and cosmetic, and basically is to spirituality, what Jersey Shore is to reality. Even when unsavory things like our judging minds and low self-esteem are addressed, they’re often given fun, kitschy names or catch phrases to put a bright spin on them. I mean, if those fashionable spiritual teachers and their products are helping someone else to deepen their connection to their true inner nature in a sincere way, that’s awesome. But so much of it is watered down and only addresses the love and light aspects focusing on words like, “empowering” and “healing.” However, if people aren’t doing more than scratching the surface of the areas where the real healing and empowerment can come from when faced, how deep and long lasting will said empowering and healing actually be?
For me, I want to lay it all out there as real as I can, both the good and the bad. Life can be brutally ugly and grotesque and I don’t want to pretend like it’s not. F*ck, just look at the process of childbirth we go through to get here! As much as we like to ignore the things that scare us, like the fact that death is always creeping up on us, what good is embracing our denial of life’s ugliness actually doing? I mean, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but at this very moment, you and me, we’re dying.
Of course, it’s important to celebrate life and love, friends and family and I’m not trying to address this in a morbid way but rather, at the very least, so that we can acknowledge and recognize that for most of us, there’s some scary shit we’ve become complacent in ignoring. Once we muster up the courage to look our physical mortality in the face though, we open ourselves up to a deeper relationship with our true Self, the Self that cannot be harmed and never dies, the Self that we were before we took birth in these physical bodies and will continue to be after we lay them aside.
True spirituality embraces all of this, the beauty that is almost too much to bear, as well as the pain that leads some to the brink of suicide. It’s all grist for the mill. We practice our asanas and mantras, prayers and aspirations, and that’s great, but are they serving to strengthen our identification as a “spiritual” person who believes they are this material body, or to help us un-identify from that, and this illusion as a whole?
I’m not perfect, I’m so f*cking far from it it’s ridiculous, and I want to be absolutely clear on that. I fail at much of what I’ve written about in this article myself. I lapse into metal labels of myself, and others, all the time and get caught up in material shit. Case in point, right before I began writing this article I was packing my drums up because I’m scheduled to play Kirtan up at Kripalu later on, which is a very well known Yoga retreat center here in the Northeast. So when I finished with that and went to put my shoes on, I grabbed my Saucony’s, but noticed a pair of my Vans sitting right next to them.
The quandary was that the Saucony’s are made from suede, while the Vans are made from canvas. So I stopped for a minute and thought about how I was going to be performing in front of a bunch of yoga practitioners, and well, hmm, what would they think if I was wearing suede shoes? So yeah, that’s the level I was recently coming from, but I’ll just keep on keepin’ on and do my best to bring awareness and compassion to the ridiculousness that is Chris Grosso, and to not take it all so goddamn seriously.
p.s. I wore the Saucony’s. Namaste Motherf*ckers.
Editor: Kate Bartolotta