Spiritual trendiness

Joseph Campbell

Joseph Campbell

“When you find an author who really grabs you, read everything he has done. Don’t say, ‘Oh, I want to know what So-and-so did’ — and don’t bother at all with the best-seller list. Just read what this one author has to give you. And then you can go read what he had read. And the world opens up in a way that is consistent with a certain point of view. But when you go from one author to another, you may be able to tell us the date when each wrote such and such a poem — but he hasn’t said anything to you.”
– Joseph Campbell

Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey

Shrine of Rumi, Konya, Turkey. The turquoise-tiled minaret shows where Rumi is buried.

Rumi's grave (May eternal peace be upon him)

Rumi’s grave (May eternal peace be upon him)

I remember while in Turkey, taking a long weekend off of work to journey to Konya to watch the Whirling Dervishes, the mystical Islamic Sufi order established by Jalaluddin Rumi (or Mevlana as he is known by in Turkey), dance the Sema dance and to visit Rumi’s grave. I’m sure you’ve seen in either in ads or commercials or documentaries.

To outsiders who don’t know any better, it just looks like a group of men in long flowing white skirts and jackets, wearing fez hats, twirling around in circles. The Sema, in fact has a deeper symbolism. The circles they dance in represents the Circle of Life. Birth, death and rebirth. Fall, winter, spring and summer. The blood in our bodies being pumped out by the heart to only return back to the heart. The examples are infinite. It induces a trance-like state for the dancer which is supposed to help them meet with That, like ayahuasca might for some or peyote for others.

Mevlana was actually born in present-day Afghanistan, wrote all his poetry in the Persian language and is buries in present-day Turkey.

Mevlana was actually born in present-day Afghanistan, wrote all his poetry in the Persian language and is buried in present-day Turkey.

Back then, Rumi was not the spiritual superstar that New Agers and certain yoga instructors these days love to quote. In fact even 10 years ago, I’m sure if you even mentioned Rumi to those who were knee-deep in Deepak Chopra-speak or Wayne Dyer-speak, they wouldn’t even know who or what you were talking about. It’s interesting to watch because since the Rumi train seems to be slowing down now, I’ve noticed that the Deepak/Dyer crowd have now jumped on another mystical Islamic, Persian poet, namely Hafiz. (I’m betting after they get sick of or run out of the Persian poets, they’ll return to the Russians like Alexander Blok, and Pushkin and then heaven forbid, the old Europeans mystics like William Blake, W.B Yeats, Goethe, Meister Eckhart and Emanuel Swedenborg. It’s always about finding a “new” bottle for old wine.)

When western yoga instructors "discover" Emanuel Swedenborg, will that lead to a revival of interest in Christian mysticism? Your guess is as good as mine...

When western yoga instructors “discover” Emanuel Swedenborg, will that lead to a revival of interest in Christian mysticism? Your guess is as good as mine…

Truth be told, I find the sudden interest in Islamic mysticism by some Westerners and bubble-headed yoga instructors who are normally Conservative, Republican, right-wing and very anti-Arab or anti-Muslim, strange to put it mildly. True, the poetry of Rumi and Hafiz have inspired wonderment across centuries. If you have even the smallest spiritual inclination in you, you can’t help but be touched by their words. But before Rumi, it was the Khalil Gibran train. Before Gibran, it was Marianne Williamson and Neale Donald Walsch. It’s this constant hopping around because it’s a trend, without any real study or serious reflection on the works of these past masters and then passing it off as “This makes me look serious” which I take issue with.

if you want to be trendy with what you wear and what you eat, fine. But don't expect anyone to take you seriously if you do it with your spirituality.

if you want to be trendy with what you wear and what you eat, fine. But don’t expect anyone to take you seriously if you do it with your spirituality.

And this brings me back to Campbell’s quote above. I have to agree with Campbell 150% on this one. It is best to find someone whose words ring so deeply and so true for you that you will need to read up on all their works to process and internalize their ideas and sentiments properly. That’s when you start to “get” them properly. One spiritual master whose words have consistently resonated deeply with me, as I have posted many times here is Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov.

It was Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name "Omraam" and it was Swami Nityananda who explained that Aivanhov was an incarnation of Vedic sage from the Solar Age and in fact had come back to bring back the Solar teachings.

It was Neem Karoli Baba who gave him the name “Omraam” and it was Nityananda who explained that Aivanhov was an incarnation of Vedic sage from the Solar Age and in fact had come back to bring back the Solar teachings. Apparently he also met the legendary Babaji in the Himalayas as well but he refused to talk about it.

Like all seekers at the beginning of their road, I did my fair share of hopping as well. Not because a certain writer was the flavour of the month but because I was searching. I read George Gurdjieff, Rudolph Steiner, tried Jiddu Krishnamurti and Theosophy in earnest but none of it seemed to “stick” for lack of a better word. But with Aivanhov, it was like remembering a deeply treasured memory which had been forgotten and a flood of light breaking through a door. I’ve been reading Aivanhov since at least 1996 and have never looked back.
In fact here’s a photo of my Aivanhov bookshelf;

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Like I posted recently, these days it’s also Alan Watts which is speaking to me (thank God for YouTube!). While I don’t see myself going to Japan to study Zen in all seriousness with a proper Zen master ( and I’m not even sure if the monasteries there even accept women!), Watts, like Aivanhov, was/is able to synthesize the Perennial teachings along with recent scientific findings and present it with their own flair and in such a way the modern reader/listener can connect instantly.

galvanoplasty-definition.jpgSpiritualGalvanoplasty

That is a rare talent and not one which New Age hucksters can ever master convincingly.

Portland_Japanese_gardens_zen_garden

Categories: Ascension, Ch-ch-ch-changes, False prophits, Raise your EQ, Shift of the Ages effects, Travels, Yoga | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Spiritual trendiness

  1. I’ve read quite a few over the past 45+ years, but the one who has stuck since I first read his work in college in 1969 is Walt Whitman. If he ever becomes a fad, I’ll cry. As soon as anyone gets popularized, they get trivialized. Guaranteed.

    • And that’s exactly the problem.
      The other problem is that New Age hucksters like Deepak and Dyer are always looking for something new to sell to the public to keep their cash flow going. I remember back in the 90’s, Celtic spirituality was enjoying a revival (probably because of Riverdance and Michael Flatly and musical artists like Enya and Loreena McKennit).
      What did Deepak do?
      He wrote a book on Merlin.

  2. Pingback: The Rebel and Mystic Sell | The Shift Has Hit The Fan

  3. Your website is absolutely phenomenal.
    I stumbled upon it about 5 days ago and was hooked then my girlfriend was showing me this awesome blog she found today and I was so impressed that it was this exact blog. – You truly have a super deep understanding of so many subjects and it is an incredibly helpful and valuable resource.

    I just wanted to know, what it was about Gurdjieff that didn’t “stick”? – He is kind of my go to author, I found him and it has a remarkable resonance with me, I hit a search on your website for his name hoping to find something about his work, although there are other incredibly valuable rabbit holes to run down, I was just hoping you had some personal experience with Gurdjieffs work.

    Hope you are well 🙂

    • Gurdjieff just doesn’t resonate with me. That’s not to say that he’s bad and has no merit. I’ve tried several times to get into his stuff and it doesn’t work for me but he may very well work for you. Like I wrote, Aivanhov works very well for me, but he may not for you. So I think, it takes some researching, lots of reading and silent meditation and personal experience to figure which teachers and wisdom keepers work for each individual. There’s no one-size-fits-all formula here.

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