Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sacred Life Sunday: Spirits in the Material World

Charles Eisenstein wrote an interesting blog post that brought me out of the woodwork because he wrote about something I relate to so strongly. I felt the need to talk about it.

He writes about how inept he feels in the material world, that he never seems to have much interest in building things, shaping things and controlling things. He mentions being extremely thin and even having an appearance of being separate from the material world.

I have always felt that way, too. The only difference between us, as I commented to him, is that he is extremely thin and I built a wall of fat instead ~ to protect myself from the onslaught of what he calls "the wreckage from civilization and culture".

The fat feels like a buffer and I suspect that is why all of my attempts to lose it have failed. All the diets, all the exercise and all the efforts to "will" it away haven't worked.

For some time now, I've suspected the fat was a protection. In fact, I've even written about it here. Kim Chernin has written books about it. It's not my original idea.

Still, this issue hasn't resolved because I have yet to come completely to terms with being a very spiritual person in what often feels like an overly-material world. I don't know how I would respond without the fat to protect me.

It's caused me to retreat into a very small world, one I control tightly. Even at that, the leakage comes in through the cracks in the wall. No wall is strong enough.

And I'm not sure it should be.

Retreating really doesn't work any more. I'm finding a need to be among others, to develop a more balanced attitude toward all of this, even with the knowledge that I will always live in my head and in jai - the heart. It is said that jai is the sixth sense that controls all the others and I believe that's true.

As I step out a little bit, I'm beginning to find some refuge with others. They're tucked away in little housing developments and condominium complexes, in apartments in the corners, far from the main street, sometimes in their converted garages, insulated from wide public view. They have unlisted phone numbers that are passed from hand-to-hand.

I went to such a place Friday night - which is something I will eventually blog about - but not now.

I don't know that I will ever come to terms with the material world in the way Charles Eisenstein talks about. No survivalist will ever live in this body. The very idea repels me, the idea of shaping and pounding the world into my image. Things are free here and I honor their spirit. There are no spiders killed, no building things and turning them into my personal convenience items. I have no interest in finding more and more "things" to make my life "easier".

I want to gather some things that will remind me, that will serve as symbols of my ultimate objective, which is to develop spiritually to a degree that I will be one of those hidden in a small apartment, far from the main street - and whose phone number will be passed hand-to-hand. I will do all I can to help others develop spiritually as well.

The fat will take care of itself.


Just a note: Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments to my last post. Reading about the things that make all of you happy brought a smile to my world when I needed it.



FranIAm said...

Chani- this post is pure brilliance and light.

It strikes very closely to the heart of my own story.

I need to sit with this before I say more, but I did want to let you know how much your words mean to me and to this world around us.

Thank you my sister, thank you.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

It sounds like you've had some interesting experiences and epiphanies lately.

I had a very frank talk with my DH this morning about his attitudes towards "things" and mine. We're at different points at this and trying to come to a middle ground.

Sometimes we can learn better about our own positions by negotiating with others, which also speaks to no isolating yourself.

I think the trick is to figure out how to interact with others in a way that nurtures us, as individuals, and those whom we interact with.

It's not easy, but probably well worth it.

slouching mom said...

i've read kim chernin and find her theories compelling.

sounds to me as if you are reaching new levels of self-awareness, and at the same time, being proactive in order to attain what you need.

that makes me smile.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Women tend to build protective fat around themselves more than men. It doesn't matter what, specifically, they are protecting themselves from.

I have also met a few of the more evolved spiritual teachers with secret phone numbers, and they each changed my life in important ways.

You are already further along in your quest than you know or give yourself credit for, Chani. And when you no longer need the buffer between you and the outside world, it will disappear and you will be completely open to all that is.

Leann said...

Good morning! I too have surrounded myself with that protective fat and no matter how hard I try to lose it, it always comes back.

I have no desire to accumulate material things. Things of the heart matter much more to me. I tend to be reclusive for lack of a better word. I spend a lot of time in my head and looking for ways to become a more rounded person. (no pun intended:-)

Border Explorer said...

I connect in many ways in this post: protective fat, inner life/world, retreating, "things" aren't saviors--these realities are familiar to me.

I differ, perhaps, in that I try not to dichotomize the material & spiritual. I prefer to try to integrate life or see it as all of a piece. Or do I misunderstand you?

thailandchani said...

BE, I wouldn't say it is quite dichotomizing. Maybe a little. I view it non-dualistically, not mutually exclusive - but have some very big issues with how it's applied. Materiality is so out of control that it feels like the big hungry tiger that devours everything it touches.

Also.. my personal inclination seems to be more monastic, more spiritual. That is part of the reason why I would have been a lousy householder. (In the Buddhist sense of "householder". Family life, etc., just never worked for me.)

Does that explain it a bit?


Border Explorer said...

Yes, I suspected we weren't going to be far apart, and we aren't. (Loving the image of materialism as a big hungry tiger!)

Brandi said...

while we have somewhat different perspectives and experiences-and while I know that I cannot completely understand your point of view until I walk the proverbial mile, I do know-as a liberal new thought educated female in the heart of fundamentalist christian republican land-what it's like to feel other.

finding community was so important to me and I can understand that wholeheartedly. I honor your journey.

womaninawindow said...

I don't know about you but I'm amazed by the fat that I wear. I'm much slimmer in my mind. I will myself to be thin. But there is simply this, I love pie and bread and ice cream and caramel corn and cheese and pasta and gravy and turkey and roast beef and lasagna and cake and icing. I love it all. I enjoy it all. There'll be plenty of time to be slim when I'm dead.

Amy Y said...

Ah, the protective layer of fat... I had one of my own until pretty recently. It is an emotional as well as physical challenge to remove it, when you're ready. It's exhilarating as well as thrilling to shed it, while being extremely scary to put yourself out on the line. For me, the pros outweighed the cons... but it happened at the right time in my life I think.

Mary said...

Yes, the fat will take care of itself.

Our material, progressive society is unattractive - I agree. It might cause us to retreat, somewhat. But, I've known you for a while and I don't think you withdraw or retreat completely. Chani, look at what you do almost every day? You share, voice your opinions, delight and sometimes shock so many wake us up. How many people visit you every day? Right here.

Mary (one who would like to visit more often)

MsLittlePea said...

I relate to this post alot. My wall was my solitude, my separateness. I used to be very social and outgoing. But my relationships were so 'surface'. It was my own fault, I was seeking 'coolness' not 'closeness'. Still when I began to see this, it hurt me very deeply and I began to close up shop so to speak. Because I was tired of being hurt and disappointed by people who were really never my real friends to begin with saving only a few. It's been just recently that I've begun to venture out a bit and look for a kindred spirit or two. I will probably always feel like an outsider but community and fellowship-that's what I seek now.

we_be_toys said...

Oh that wall that surrounds and protects - I'm sporting one myself.

Glad you're getting out and interacting - it beats staring at the same four walls, doesn't it?

Can't wait to hear about your forays...

Anonymous said...

I go through long periods like this as well. The world seems insane, I can't do a lot to change it, and it's safe in my world, where people think right and speak right. I'm venturing forth in my religious life, and trying again to find a balance. I'm being offered membership already on a committee at church, and wonder just how much 'socializing" I want to get into. Once a week has been enough so far.

I think we must always listen to the inner heart which usually guides us rightly. I hope you find kindred spirits to ally with. It is most conforting to find others who don't put you to argumentation all the time.

Janet said...

I love the last line: so powerful, positive and full of light. It suits you well.

jen said...

sounds like things are bright over your way, and it sounds really good.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I do not feel as alien in the material world as you do, but I am trying to shed the influence of the materialist lies that our society uses to bind us to its goals and ways of doing things. In that we are alike.

Olivia said...

I cannot wait to hear about your Friday night. I think you just have to find your own way---YOUR way---to be with others in a way you are comfortable and contribute (as you do here). It sounds like you are on that road, indeed. I hope so. I learn much from the lessons you learn. Love, O