“Spirituality” • 17 October 2008

The first two years of my asana practice were about going ever deeper into the altered state that was the two hours on the mat. Adorning and becoming addicted to a dreamstate I understood as spirituality. Thus, this idea of a post-Christian spirituality, something based in bodily experience, suddenly became fascinating early in my practice.

The word spirituality is what I hung on my ecstasy and my dream. Seems pretty common. This spirituality is a refuge or escape from daily troubles, and it feels nice. Spirituality as “me time.” Spirit as the source of wish-fulfillment and the place for hopes-against-hope framed in angeli mudra. If you don’t get your fix at regular intervals, you feel off. Disoriented. Locked in a too-concrete reality and a too-concrete body.

I’ve rarely gone more than a day without trance in the last five years, so I don’t know how I would deal, now, with a life in solid beta state. Without time every day in altered states, I might actually lose my shit. But are altered states spiritual? Is writing-mind unspiritual? 

I look at this “spirituality” tag on this blog and realize I don’t have a good use for it right now. It is not a dreamstate, and it's also not the dream of wishes fulfilled. Time in altered states doesn’t by itself frame my moral life (though it's true that I do draw moral sentiments out of those states, in a lot of ways), nor does it make me feel that beta state is vulgar. The easier altered states are to access, and the more different forms the take, the less holy it all feels. And the less I experience my own consciousness as a mystery to toss in to the placeholder category of "spirit." Consciousness is a variable, but so are introversion, hunger, weather, relationship, whatever. Spirituality doesn't seem like a category I can use right now.

Unless… I'm using, in a way, around the idea of interconnection. My schtick in the sociology classroom is that everything is connected. It’s a hypothesis I urge students to test in their investigations of society and economy. But, mostly this is still a proposition, still something I can only see on network graphs, Facebook sidebars and accidentally meaningful collapses of the degrees of separation. If there’s something that induces wonderment in me, it is the possibilities for intersubjectivity among beings and immediate experiences of radical interdependence. I wonder if connection feels like spirituality because it is what is sometimes but not always true for me. It’s the new fever-dream.