August 12, 2011

The Sin of Pure Pleasure (The Parable of the Cold Shower)

Today I have sinned, again.  I struggle mightily with the actions I find myself now ashamed of.  I have taken the word of God

God's Reply? "Thanks for the experience!"

and ignored it doing what I wanted in the process.  I am one horrible human being.

My Bible, the New Translation of Piety and Guilt (or NTPG for short) clearly states “Thou shall not expose thy body to anything but cold water.”   It seemed that right after they ate the apple, Adam and Eve had decided to get the juicy stickiness of said fruit off their bodies by taking a warm shower.  God saw this, too, as an affront to His power and control.  Therefore, anyone who dared get their bodies dirty had better not indulge themselves in the warmth, even if the water was warmed by natural means.

To the Orthodox, that meant putting ice in your swimming pools

When insanity overcomes natural intelligence

before taking a dip.  Those in warmer climes, like the desert, had decided to simply wash themselves with ice cubes and shy away from natural water all together.  Holy water in churches across the nation was frozen according to God’s rule.  The clergy had decided that God meant that no water should be above 65 degrees Fahrenheit, and that swimming in the ocean once the water temperature exceeded that baseline was a sin.  “Satan only works in the heat” became the common mantra for devotees.  After all, hell couldn’t exist if the temperature was below 65 degrees.

It all began about two weeks ago.  I just couldn’t help myself.  I woke up a bit on the cold side.  My body ached from exercise, and my mind just cried out for a nice, warm shower.  As I looked at the left faucet in my shower, I debated for what seemed like hours.  Do I dare use that valve?  After all, I knew God was watching, even in the bathroom.

I watched my left hand (the one that was supposed to lead to my blindness in recognition of other sinful activities), slowly reach for that faucet, pausing every so often as if to check its willingness to go any further.  I trembled in both fear and anticipation of what was to come.  I knew the warmth would feel great, but also believed that God would be horribly disappointed.  At least the Bible told me so.

“If you like the warmth so much, ENJOY IT!!” I heard God say as He cast me into hell in judgment for this moment.  Would one shower be worth the eternal damnation I was told awaited me for my lack of discipline?  I shuddered at the thought.

With a creak and a shimmy the faucet turned.  Instantly the

Let There Be Warmth...Or Not

shower head sprang to life.  It didn’t seem to mind the warm water even if my guilt was keeping me from actually stepping into it.  I watched the steam rise slowly into the air, turning the rather chilly bathroom into a delightful, tropical space.  I inhaled deeply as the warm, moist air cascaded into my lungs.  I exhaled with an “ah” in sheer delight at the experience.  Surely my parents would be shrieking in horror if they could only see me now, and my God-fearing wife would cry tears of pure sorrow at the thought.

With guilt cascading all around me I placed one leg in the shower.  The warm water felt completely wonderful as it flowed over my skin.  Wasn’t this a true indication that what I was doing was “wrong”?

“It feels so good it has to be wrong,” I said matter-of-factly in recognition of that thought.  After all, I was taught that everything that felt good was sinful, and that God wasn’t the Creator of pleasure.  That was “Satan at work”.

I slowly and completely entered the entire shower.  The warm water covered me completely.  My body shivered in delight as it relaxed into the flow of the water.  My breathing slowed as my arms went limp next to me.  I just decided to enjoy the moment.

Interestingly enough, the soap seemed to work better in the warm water.  Lather flew all over the place as I sung loudly to songs I thought had long been forgotten.  Still, when it was over, I felt dirty, as if I needed a cold shower to clean me of the warm one.  I begged God silently for the forgiveness I felt wasn’t coming.  I surely would suffer for this moment of joy and comfort.

I resolved myself never to take a warm shower again.  I would be better.  I would prove to God that I loved Him and obeyed because, after all, love is obeyance.  I would show God that I feared him even if it meant bathing on an iceberg.  I had to make it right; I had to prove my love and my righteousness.

I kept my secret for some time.  I dared not tell my family, who would probably disown me because of this mighty sin.  I feared confessing my sins to a priest for fear that he would not be able

"I have sinned against you my Lord!"

to contain himself.  I even thought about “reeducation camps” that were set up all around the world to teach me the virtues of cold water and the sin of warm water.  Yet I wasn’t sure I could succeed, let alone live with the stigma that I had failed God’s word.  I knew people would hate me for having warm water touch my bare skin, and I knew they would hate me more for enjoying it.

Today, however, I just couldn’t help myself.  My mind was spinning, begging me to enter that warm shower again.  I had successfully fought the urge yesterday, but today the voice wasn’t just asking me to take that warm shower, it was demanding that I take one.  So, I stood naked in the presence of Satan’s bathtub spewing Satan’s warm water out of Satan’s shower head simply unable to fight the demons any longer.

I was doomed.  I am doomed.  I simply am not sure what do make of this.  “How could you!!!!” my mother would shriek.  My father would probably throw his ice-cold beer at my head before throwing me out of the house.  “Coming out of the shower”, as they called it, was a tough thing for any God-fearing man to do.  What would I tell my wife, my kids?  How would I ever face my friends and neighbors?  How would my family ever face the world?

I am often left to wonder what state the world would be in today if only those ideas contrary to human joy and love weren’t made wrong by someone else some time ago.  Is it not true that the hatred, suffering, and pain that has been associated with many of the

What Book Taught Us Such Joy???

ideas of “sin”  aren’t of the human spirit, but of the human mind?  What if we paid no attention to what some would call a “sin”?  Would we still know right from wrong had the Bible not told us what was right and what was wrong?  Would we be able to make sound judgments without the Torah guiding our decisions?  Would we be able to experience joy and pleasure without the Kama Sutra or Patañjali?

What if the Bible had told us that warm water on our bodies was sinful?  What if Moses et al decided to include that bias into their work?  Would we all be forced to take cold showers today despite our bodies loving the warm water?  I mean doesn’t it suggest that we have the “word of God” (or whatever you want to call it) written within each of us and that the “word” is personalized according to the experience God wants to have through us?  Does this understanding make the written word of God obsolete once we have gained the beauty of experience?

I know.  Too many questions with too few answers.  Yet, if you just sit still with these questions flowing through you, don’t you get an answer?  I mean I stub my toe and it hurts yet have an orgasm and it feels great.  Isn’t that God telling me something that, usually, I am just too busy to listen to?  Are my ideas, and the ideas of my forefathers and mothers getting in the way of who I am?

My friends, my experience doesn’t lead me to the knowledge that I have the answers.  Not for you anyway.  I have, had and will have the answers for me, and as long as I don’t affect you in my practice you really have no say in what my answers are and I have no say in the answers you have found.  I can write and shine a light in any direction I choose, as can you, but I don’t have the right to make you follow it.  This is true of my children as well.  I can shine a light for them, but ultimately they will be responsible to make choices as they mature.

Unfortunately for most of us, we have been raised since birth to deal with only one answer to any question.  We unconsciously reside in a box created by others for us.  Most of the

Who is the Sinner here?

time, they have unconsciously created the box they have given us because they, too, unconsciously reside in that box.  It’s not their fault and they are not to blame.  Hell, even Moses isn’t to blame.   People chose to follow his story, and he stuck to it.  It was right for him, and for those who followed him, and soon it became a rite of conditioning for a multitude of future generations who simply didn’t realize they had a choice in the matter.

Yet, I doubt Moses ever forced anyone to follow him.   Burning bush and 10 Commandments aside, Moses seemed like a good man who wanted only the best for his people.  He shined a light, a light he had within him, and people followed.  It is our responsibility as individual Beings to do the same, with the result to be as it must be.

“Thy will be done” is not a statement to a man about the future.  It is a statement by a man about the present.  We simply shine a light and thy will be done.  For me, well I am going to take a warm shower and trust in the best.

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