Monday, April 13, 2009

Mind, Soul and Reality-My Life of Spiritual Crisis & Other Stuff

In his excellent and thought-provoking book-Breaking Open the Head-Daniel Pinchbeck talks about the deepening spiritual crisis that led him to explore the psychedelics and modern day shamanism. A note here -I am wondering if I should call this a rough draft as about an hour ago my back started acting up and I am in a lot of pain -plus I took some pillz for the pain. I just don't think modern folk-least of all yours truly are made of the same stuff in relation to fighting off pain. There is an beautiful thought -from the Buddhist religion I think-that says when you are in a lot of pain you should pray that your pain can take away the pain of other sentient beings -so this is my prayer for the moment. And if this post doesn't make any effin sense whatsoever I will re-do it and aplologize beforehand if it is unreadable. The spiritual crisis he was going through had or has some echoes in my own life-and perhaps many of you have felt the same way at one time or another. At times the emptiness I have felt in my own life has been so overwhelming that I am somewhat surprised at times to still be here. I think one of the reasons for my survival is that I come from a strong loving family and at the times of the deepest darkness I have been lucky to come in contact with exactly the right friends and people who have helped me get through.

These feelings of otherness and alienation came to me quite early in my life-even before my teenage years. Compared to a lot of other gay women and men I have talked to over the years I don't think my particular "spiritual crisis", alienation-whatever you want to call it was born much at all from my very early in life realization that I was homosexual. I don't know exactly why this didn't add to my sense of disaffection with the world-it could have been that as a lifetime member of a club called "Bookworms", I realized from an early age that I was not the only gay guy in the world. A man I talked to in the 1980s told me that he actually felt he was the only homosexual in the world back when he was growing up in a small Kansas town.

One of the ways I remember feeling that did begin as a teenager after I had begun to know just a little about what the adult world was like was along the lines of "Gee-if I work hard and behave all my life will I get something resembling a big fucking hunk of cheddar cheese at the end-like a mouse or rat rewarded for running through a maze?" The 'values' and 'enchantments' of modern life seemed horribly empty to me. It seemed -to me anyway-that at the ass end (or would it be the mouth?:-) of capitalist consumer culture that there was this wide chasm of terrifying proportions. It appeared like the maw of this beast of 'wants' and 'needs' (needs have always been somewhat confusing to me-for I have known people who consider a Mercedes-Benz or a Mont Blanc pen a 'need' like a man dying of thirst needs water) would never be fulfilled. Perhaps this was the whole idea? So many people seemed hypnotized-entranced by this ravening beast of desires -but I only saw an unspeakably horrifying abyss and emptiness that would never be sated.

The situation in consumer-mass production society reminded me a great deal of the realm of the "Hungry Ghosts." These hapless beings (also from Buddhist thought I believe)that are supposed to inhabit this most unfortunate level of existence have huge bellies to fill, but only tiny mouths and long thin necks. So they are never full and without want. I actually wonder if some people when they pass from this life that are addicts and the like are where the reports originate of some ghostly and paranormal behavior. I think the "out of body" or OOBE investigator Robert Monroe claimed to have seen many departed spirits who were in places like bars trying to pick up a 'real' glass which they found they couldn't --but it didn't stop them from trying-and he also saw other spririts frustrated in their attempts to smoke cigarettes and other things that cause addictive behavior.

And added to this was the hugely 'introspective' 'intellectual' and 'questioning' nature of modern culture itself (sarcasm)-especially in the United States. Of course I will admite here and now that I was guilty of partaking of its 'insights.' I can still remember watching the "Who Shot J.R." episode of Dallas. I had always thought and hoped it would be Sue Ellen, played by the lovely actress Linda Gray-but this is probably a topic for another post:-)

However, I wasn't without ideas or notions of what i could fill my empty soul up with. The names of the two 'friends' who came to my 'rescue' in this matter I will call by the pseudonyms Stoly and Dick. I will say a bit about these two vacuum filling entities in the next post. Before going I would like to give a quote from Breaking Open the Head from page 15 that I feel is very relevant to the feelings that started me on my spiritual journey: "As I wondered the streets in a desolate funk, I would ask myself the impossible, the embarrassing, the ultimately childish question of Why?-Why this city? Why this life? Why anything? Of course I knew that why was a question you were supposed to stop asking around the age of ten, but I couldn't free myself from it."

I would love to hear from any readers who may have felt they have gone through a kind of spiritual "emergency" in their lives and if they were able to remedy the situation. I do not have any idea when the next post will be here and don't worry it will not be so much about me-but it may contain examples from my life about the theories of the soul and reality I am trying to bring forth in this set of posts-anything from near death experiences, reincarnation, psychedelic experiences, ghostly encounters-you name it. For some reason I feel a great need in my life to be surrounded by the ineffable, magical and the unexplained. Thanks again for all of your thoughtful, insightful and intelligent comments! OOOPS I did it again. I am trying to edit HTML to take out stupid space at top-there are two "div" thingies-when I try to delete these blogger gives me the message: Your HTML cannot be accepted: Closing tag has no matching opening tag -and then it gives me another "div" symbol I am afraid to put here to mess it up even more haha-O well its not as bad as some of my other multiple image efforts:-)


Mike and Julie said...

Devin, I for one am glad to read more about you. I'm sorry that you are having back pains but your journey to understanding yourself actually made me a bit misty. I love this post! My older brother now lives as a woman and considers herself a transgender lesbian. It's been over 10 years since she came out and started living her life as a woman. I will admit that it was hard to deal with at first but now I'm excepting. She is very happy and that's what matters to me. Mike, my blog bud, is also gay and has gone through his own journey and has many friends and family who have been there for him when life was rough. Your core group is so important. On another note, I found it interesting that Robert Monroe witnessed ghosts that appeared to have drinking and smoking addictions. Is there AA in the afterlife, lol? Take care!

Devin said...

Thanks so very much for stopping by!! i am so glad you enjoyed the post -I was afraid I would seem a bit "rambling" to say the least-haha! That is fascinating about your older brother and Mike-thanks for feeling secure enough to share these comments here! The Robert Monroe information was "off the top of my head"-and I am a bit reluctant to do things directly from memory anymore-I will try to check wiki or a website to make sure-but I very definitely read of a researcher into NDEs and OOBEs who had said they had witnessed this on during astral travel-best to you as always and thanks so much for stopping by!

Ricardo said...

I can imagine there were a lot of guys who must have felt that they were the only ones who were gay. Society does not treat you men and women well at all.

As with any crisis or difficult time in ones life, it's better to face it with friends and not alone. Alone can be done but it is 10 times harder to do in my opinion.

Go easy n the back.

Sub Specie Aeternitatis said...

Spiritual crisis? Yeah. Still dealing with it surrounded by the corrosive sound of this empty, vacuous world as projected by the media magi. But then I can always look at my window and see the natural world, the green world, the real world.

My crisis came to a head through a lack of self awareness and my shadow rose unbidden and wrecked my life. Went completely mad. My continuing path to any sort of true knowledge begun with psychosis. When I couldn't make the necessary changes to heal my life, my unconscious mind course corrected and done it for me.
The painful way.

Always good to read your thoughts Devin.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to hear your support networks helped you through your alienation times. I think we all do experience them for one reason or another in our lives. For me the key is to keep remembering that you never know what is around the next corner. All things pass - so must despair. I hope the back comes right soon too!

wise woman said...

How I loved this post Devin & much as I liked you before I like you more now :) - there is no gift so great as that of an open, honest heart.

Thank you my friend & be very well

Devin said...

Hey Ricardo-thanks so much for stopping by -really appreciate your thoughts -I do tend to think that things are a lot better than they used to be -but there is still a long way to go in some areas-of course we are still fighting racism so this isnt any surprise!! best to you as always!!

Sub Specie-thanks very much for your thoughts-I found your thoughts about the "shadow" self wrecking your life fascinating!! I wonder if this is similiar to what I have gone through-after reading so much Jung and others in my life I think the shadow self is very powerful and becomes more powerful the less it is acknowledged-best to you as always!!

Aggie as always thanks so much for taking the time to comment -I always appreciate your thoughts-the back is indeed better today -it seems that a combination of standing and sitting works best -although this makes it hella hard to sleep-haha!! But I will survive-I am extremely reluctant to ask for any new or more pain meds as I am on so many already -so I may be trying other therapies to deal with the pain -best to you as always!!

Devin said...

Hiya wise!! much apologies about your comment-somehow Blogger must have held it back while I was answering the others-or maybe you sent it right at the time I was commenting more likely. As always I so appreciate you stopping by and sharing your thoughts-I think I get more good out of the comments here than I do out of working on my own stuff:-) best to you and yours as always!!

X. Dell said...

(1) You know, I've always sensed that a search (or more accurately a yearning) for the magical really served as a catalyst in the formation of this site. Rationalist that I am, I would be a fool to try to take that away from you. I would have to concede that while I do not believe in magic, I do believe in mystery--that is, I believe neither I nor anyone else knows everything, or even a lot. When you don't know how stuff works, it's magic.

(2) I've often grown up the minority in some way, but I can imagine the difficulty you might have felt during your early years. No one has ever called me immoral, or illegal for simply being who I am, even if they treat me that way.

The coming out experience (to self, to community, to friends and family) of gay people that I've known has been so varied that it's difficult for someone like me to make any sense of it from a visceral point of view.

(3) The Buddhist sentiment notwithstanding, I think pain has sucked for everyone over the ages. Hell, during the nineteenth century, pharmacists sold heroin over the counter. What does that tell you?

It's just that in the past, people couldn't avoid the pain as deftly as we do now.

(4) Why this life? Think of it this way: somebody had to be you. Perhaps you were the best man for the job.

Autumnforest said...

Wow, I could probably spend several hours writing a response to this. First, I'll tell you that every single person has felt out of place with the rest of the world. Not sure what values are supposed to be theirs. The consumerism and superficiality of the marketed world outside shouldn't bother you if you have truly opted out of its importance. That you aren't a sheep is a testament to your very soul. It's harder to adhere to life without substances, escapism, or buying into the majority's standards of what you should be, what you should have, what you should do. I myself overcame panic disorder in 1990 and have been completely recovered since. I can't even remember the woman that used to use that mechanism to deal with life. She's dead. A new woman is born. It happens all the time. People have something happen and it sucks and it's uncomfortable and you think you can't make it through--but that means you're in the growth phase, the transitional period. Adolescence was awkward, weight loss is painful and depriving, but all these things that are uncomfortable make us able to transcend the lower levels of humanity (the superficial sheep syndrome). I watched my mother smoke herself to death, my father work himself and overeat to death, my brother drank himself to death, my sister ate herself to death. I've seen a hell of a lot of highly intelligent people suffer because they think there should be reason and order, things should be easy or fair. They aren't. The people who accept that transcend. The people who fight it, drink, eat, gamble, anything to escape. Pain is a hard issue to deal with. I developed fibromyalgia years ago and decided to rename pain. It's not "pain," it's muscles living. My muscles are living and building and changing and I feel it and I call it not "pain" but "stimulation." The way you explain life and your situation to yourself changes your emotional outcome. Remember: No one has to define you, tell you what you should be, categorize you, or otherwise expect you to be a "type." You are unique--thank goodness or we'd all be suffering without your insights. Practice meditation, let things go, quit saying "what if" and "why me" and start replacing it with "this is my time for change." How you handle adversity is the show of your character. When you go through big-time crap you can turn out like "tot mom" or you can become someone heroic like John Walsh helping others who are victims of crime. Observe the pain and the awkwardness and don't name it, just say "it's supposed to feel like this. It's part of my evolution." We are really only as good as the burdens we've born. I think it was Lady Bird Johnson who said "there can be no courage if there is no fear." I would change that a bit to say "there can be no transformation if there is no pain." Everyone who reads your wise insights knows you have something enormously special to share with the world and others who have felt the same way.

Devin said...

Autumnforest -I can't put into words how much your comment means to me -thanks for sharing your insights and thoughts so much-and having the courage to talk about the pain you have experienced in your life -I should also note here that I am a bit embarrassed to always talk about my back pain-there are many worse crosses that people carry -with much more dignity than yours truly!! It does make a difference in my life -but what it isn't -is a fatal illness like cancer or something!!-your remarks about your family really hit home with me-no more than an hour ago if that -I emailed someone about my life in the early 1990s -when I was drinking about a quart of vodka a day -man am I glad those days are over! I do not know what ended up saving me-but I think I am on much more the "right" road now than the wrong road -again I am so sorry about the pain you have gone through in your life -you are a testament to courage and grace-best to you as always!!

Xdell-thanks for stopping by as always!!-when I read comments sometimes I think yep someone's finally done it -a blog where the comments are better than the blog-haha;-) You are correct about MFM-wanting to spread the "irrational" gospel:-) but I am so glad that you also believe in mystery!In reaction to your second comment -here I dont mean to be making any special claims -I have known through the years so many "horror stories" of gay men and women and the lives they had to endure -I dont know what I woulda done if I had the same amount of pain in my life -of course some of them didn't make it if you know what I mean-but of course the experience of being gay in the US runs the gamut(is that a word;-) of human experience and there have been more than just a few who made it through life's twists and turns just fine and really ended up making a difference in other people's lives.
thanks for reminding me of number three-I have often wondered what the situation would be in the US if they legalized all of this stuff-of course that would take a lot of bucks out of deep state ops-ask Gary Webb-oooops you can't -he was one of those "suicides" where the person killing themselves manages to put not one-but two bullets in their head!!
for number 4 I so hope you are correct;-)-after all this hypothezizing and theorizing wouldn't it be funny if thats what it all came down to-think I have a misspelling there-shoulda had more coffee before answering comments-best to you as always!!

Nina said...

I have moments where I think life as a human on this planet is one on-going crisis (self made and manufactured). I have moments where I think other dimensional beings are behind a lot of the "goings-on" in our society. I have moments where I look out into the world and think how fucked up it all is, how we've been duped, lied to and all I wish to do is scream and cry.

I also know there is some untapped part of me (and us) that can "rise above" it all.

Balancing it all is my challenge. I've had moments and times where I have and have shined. And (to use cliches) then I slip--or else some outter energy pulls me back w/me willing and I'm then dealing w/issues I thought I once shed myself of. Each moment calling me to speak, live and be my truth--be myself--whoever she is and however she looks/sounds/appears. Each moment telling me to let go of what people may or may not think of me.

Then I also have to wonder about the other "unseen" forces of our universe that can interfere w/our lives. I wonder about the chemtrails in the skies. The chemicals in our food (and GMO) and water. Man-made viruses (I firmly believe AIDS was created in a lab to unleash on the gay community). Subliminal messages.

All of this has me wonder: how naive is it to really believe I and I alone control all there is to be had about my life?

That in and of itself creates little moments of spiritual crises in my life. But I know I must question, get a feel for what feeeeeels right to me. I guess what I'm saying is I don't wish to go through life with ANY blinders on.

Great post Devin.

Devin said...

Nina thanks so much for your fantastic as always insights and feelings -I also loved it when you used the words "self-made and manufactured" -I couldnt agree more!! Balance is also the most important thing for me -today for a brief time I was upset over something so small and stupid -its not even worth mentioning here-I always find every now and then I have to take a few step backs and put things in the proper perspective -which has always been hard for me to do-but I am learning-best to you as always!!

Dana said...


Sorry you aren't feeling well :(
I read your post while listening to Cold Play(not sure if you listen)
...your honesty is beautiful!! Its been a while, i miss being a spider on your wall.

Anyway...after reading...I feel a lot better. Thank you!

Devin said...

Hey Dana-thanks so much for stopping by!! am glad-I need to go see what you are up to-haha Coldplay is on my ringtone-but I need to change it as its been on it a long time-still nice though-best as always-and no worries-i will get through and i hope you are doing great!!

Michael Skaggs said...


Have to agree with Wise, great open hearted post my friend. Our country, the U.S., is indeed in spiritual crisis, let alone an orchestrated economic one. Simplistically our answers are within us, then they manifest sometimes externally when we project them into the ether...bringing people whom we need in our lives to us when we need them for certain instances.

I struggled with the Catholicism brainwashing for quite some time, in and out of the indoctrination temples, errr. Churches, when I thought I could "be rescued" knowing full well I could rescue myself. Why is it society feels the need to be rescued by some external force? Your Buddhism will serve you well my friend in the oncoming years.

Thanks for sharing, and THANK YOU for the R.Linares Eye-Candy at the end. Isn't she just delicious? hehe

Be well bro!

Devin said...

Michael -thanks so much in turn for your open hearted and honest comment!! Your comment about struggling with brainwashing really got some wheels spinning in my mind how much ALL of us have a specific form of brainwashing to conquer-and it was a pleasure to post Rebecca Linares for you-I am one hundred percent certain that other straight men and some of my Sapphic readers enjoyed it also-best to you as always!!