Looking Beyond the Altar of the Self.

Via Amy Taylor
on Jan 25, 2013
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Photo: ihave3kids
Photo: ihave3kids

I believe in the divine spark. Really, I do.

We humans are marvelous creatures. So, by all means, believe in yourself, face your fears, chase your dreams, leap, fly…

And yet…I wonder…

Is worshiping at the altar of the self the answer? Or should we lift our gaze to something greater?

Let’s hold our spirituality up to the light. Does it shine true, or does it project a soft-light glow around our own image?

Casual glamor. Much fussed-over “natural” beauty. Bleached teeth that belie a Sweet Tarts-saturated youth.

We green bean, yoga and organic-loving mamas get caught up in it. You know we do. Otherwise, Lulu and its many spin-offs would be shuttered.

But, really, why are you here? Why am I?

It’s not to look good in pricy yoga pants. It’s not to be flushed and radiant while we sip our smoothies.

I don’t know about you, but I believe I’m here to serve.

But, if I am here to serve, how are my actions (and words) promoting that purpose? How do I heal my soul, release my addictions and make my life matter?

I can only speak for myself and my own sick, sick soul. There’s a lot more talk than action on this path.

Just this week, I found myself buying more jeans I don’t need because I believed wearing them would magically make me into the person I don’t believe I am. Squandering my days in consumption rather than service: that’s me, more often than not.

And maybe that’s okay, to a point. But if there are many of me out there, we’re doomed.

What a vapid world.

But, wait a minute, my ego scrambles to protest. I megaphone my voice to prompt others to think and feel. That’s something, right?

And just why am I working so hard at that?

To share my experience? To teach? To connect?

Or to draw attention and bolster my belief that I have value as a human being?

Too often, it’s the latter.

Am I any better than the yogi who publishes provocative pictures or shares bedroom follies? No. I’m exploiting my life in the quest for approval.

But approval will never be found in hits or subscribers or page views that seem to reflect my worth as a writer and a person.

It won’t be found in anything designed for self-promotion. Not really. Not lastingly.

American idol, indeed. We are, many (most?) of us, in the business of making idols of ourselves.

Truth is, we suck. And we rock. Depends on the day. Neither is true of me any more than of you. But we are caught up in the drama.

My conservative Christian friends may have an edge here. Their pastors regularly remind them to tune in to a greater channel than the faint beat of the human heart.

That’s something.

Yes, we are of God or the Universe or the Greater Consciousness or whatever you want to call her.

But we are not God.

It’s an important distinction.

Humility is what we need to cultivate, along with wonder, awe and gratitude. Not to suggest that I am any less worthy than you, but that I never fail to appreciate that neither am I more worthy.

Humility requires us to bow before something other than our own images. I wouldn’t deign to define that something for you. But this is the reason I bounce between yoga studio and church.

I can never be the something greater I seek.

You might find your Source, that eternal sustaining Resource, in a mountain or a stream. Or in the soul-windows of a child or of the dying. Maybe you’ll even find it at the mall. I doubt it, but, hey, anything’s possible.

But one thing I do know. You (and I) won’t find it in the mirror or the closet. No matter how hot you look in those jeans.

You’ve got to step off the wheel of fortune to change your fate.

Challenge me to do the same.

God knows I need it.



Like I’m not “Spiritual.” I just practice being a good person. on Facebook.


Assistant Ed.: Jayleigh Lewis
Ed: Kate Bartolotta


About Amy Taylor

Amy Taylor writes about parenting, yoga and other journeys for jconline.com, GaiamTV, elephant journal and others. Find her biweekly columns here. She completed 200-hour YTT at CITYOGA in Indianapolis in 2008 and teaches classes for all ages at  Community Yoga. When she's not writing or practicing yoga, Amy loves to read, research and have adventures with her husband and twin sons. Follow her on Twitter.


2 Responses to “Looking Beyond the Altar of the Self.”

  1. Jayleigh says:

    This line really caught me: "I found myself buying more jeans I don’t need because I believed wearing them would magically make me into the person I don’t believe I am." I have often found myself doing the same thing–buying something because I wanted to become some image that is nevertheless eternally held apart from the messy me of everyday. Trying to fill the void that can never be filled simply because it is seen as a void (maybe there is no void! maybe I'm already full and ok as I am!).

    I like the way you use words.

  2. Amy says:

    Thank you, Jayleigh. I'm glad it resonated and really appreciate the compliment. This piece flew out in a fit of self-loathing the morning after a food, drink and shopping binge. I needed a respite from the stresses in my life but, of course, the indulgence didn't fix what ailed me.