In 2022 I started paying more attention to matters of spirit and spirituality. All of my adult life I’ve confidently proclaimed my commitment to reason, rationality, and science. As a teen I went through the stages of belonging to my mother’s church to declaring myself an agnostic and then being spiritual but not religious and then falling into a comfortable atheism.
Because I’m curious about the human experience writ broadly I’ve always been willing to explore and learn about different belief systems and ponder the role of religion, faith, spirituality, and superstition. I never, however, applied any of that to myself. Science over superstition.
In 2022, as it became overwhelmingly clear I needed to stop neglecting my mental and emotional health, I started seeing spitituality in a new light. (This is mostly related to taking up regular meditation.) It turns out there are elements in spiritual systems that are really useful for maintaining and improving my emotional, mental, and psychological health.
Since I’m not about to join any church or proclaim my adherence to any single faith, I started developing my own catalog of practice. So far I’ve drawn from Wicca, Buddhism, and long-lost Aztec faiths, and I’m sure I’ll be adopting more over the course of 2023.
I’m happy to believe the universe, the world, and the human experience is weirder than I can imagine. I’m less happy to imagine interventionist deities meddling in human affairs or making demands of devotion.
I also suspect that religion/spirituality is a socially constructed expression of some collective interpretation of our neurological/physiological experience. Things happen and we turn to ideas in our world to make sense of those happenings. I also suspect that faith/religion played an important role in emotional and psychological health before we had ideas like psychology.
My approach is to view the world’s faiths (and all historical faiths available to me) as a giant cafeteria selection. It’s all there to help me understand my own experience. And from that I’m creating my arbitrary stupid spirituality.
Why stupid? The phrase is inspired by Tamara Shopsin’s book Arbitrary Stupid Goal. I first phrased this idea as arbitrary stupid spirituality to honor Shopsin’s original spark of inspiration. That said, I sometimes have been mis-remembering the name and describing my ASS as an arbitrary spititual system. The latter may ultimately win out as the ‘humor’ of calling this endeavor stupid loses its luster.
I’ll be writing more about this over the first part of this year, but I want to get this background posted so I can link to it in the future.