Spiritual Hobby

The unintended mistake, made sometimes in the most casual manner, by mimicry, by lack of inspiration, by mimicry of the ambient lack of inspiration, consists in turning one’s spiritual practice into a hobby, a mere activity.

For spiritual practice to grow and open onto the depths of its richness so that it pierces us with its power of connection,
It is necessary that it trace the thread of concentric activities, from the occupational peripheries to the center.
At the point of this place, there is no longer any other element to occupy an equal rank.
The ascent of successive circles can be dazzling or take a lifetime.
Or even more.

©FJ March 2022
Telegram (Publications et Pratique)
Many thanks to all.

16 commentaires

  1. Another post I needed to allow my mind to work upon in silence and whilst I was not looking, so to speak.

    Spiritual practice as a hobby. I understand the concept, and the danger of such shallowness.

    I understand, also, that you appear to prefer the concept of « practice » to other epithets. But maybe this issue resides precisely there. A practice is no different, intrinsically, if it is meditative and spiritual (whatever that means, but that is another issue) or playing tennis. It is just what one does.

    But spiritual « practice » should never be a distraction, as hobbies can be, or even mere interest. Not a mere action.

    Rather, perhaps, it is a realised part of the individual being. Maybe, rather than saying « I have a spiritual practice », perhaps, it would be better to say: « Spirituality is intrinsic to what I am ».

    It would be difficult, indeed, to make « being » a mere hobby, after all.

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  2. Hello Simon,
    Thanks for commenting.
    I did not really chose to use this word of ‘practice’. it simply happened to be the term the most widely available where I come from..;(or where I passed through) to refer to meditation and the way we sew it in the fabric of everyday life.
    The word « practice’ refers to how practical our spiritual expression should be.
    It can act as a reminder of how far off we may end up when getting lost i complicated considerations.
    In French, we only have on word to refer both to practical and convenient (« pratique »)..which is surprising for such a for such a non-pragmatical, convoluted spirit as the French one (or, at least, as it likes to think of itself)
    This was a convoluted claim.
    French will be French, as the saying goes.

    Maybe the formula could be Spiritual practice = Action + consciousness
    Action, in the Buddhist sense referring to actions, speech and thoughts.

    « Spirituality is intrinsic to what I am ».
    Isn’t that a definition already taken by God ?
    (« I am what I am » /// « Before Abraham was I am. »)

    Could we go so far as to say there is no difference between your statement and those above ?

    Have a nice day, Simon.

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  3. This response has turned out longer than I expected – my apologies.

    I will leave you to contemplate the French…! The British are quite enough for me to have to work out.

    Spiritual practice = Action + consciousness » – is this a viable formula?

    Maybe. But if we say that all action (and I am not sure that the explanation you give of that word, necessarily, is exclusive to Buddhism) is a spiritual practice when done consciously, there is, perhaps, a danger of including some ostensibly « unspiritual » elements by default.

    « « Spirituality is intrinsic to what I am ».
    Isn’t that a definition already taken by God ?
    (“I am what I am” /// “Before Abraham was I am.”) »

    In the English Bible (at least, the KJV which is pretty well the only version with which I am familar) the quote is « I am that I am ». Not that it matters for current purposes, and I think other versions might be nearer your formulation.

    We may have some issues over terminology. I do not recall if we have discussed concepts of deity previously (sometimes it is difficult to keep track of what I have discussed with whom). I do not know what ideas you hold on that, and suspect they might prove rather different to mine (which likely no longer would be acceptable amongst my previous Christian contacts. From the standpoint I would take, my answer would be: « Yes – but as the divine is present throughout all being, what difference does it make whether it has been applied to the abrahamic – or any other – concept of deity? » In the end, at its most basic, we all are what we are. Perhaps the spirituality is reaching a conscious realisation and understanding of that?

    So – is my statement the same as saying that practice = action + consciousness? I think that formula might need a tweak if it is not to include the conscious malefactor. Again, I would tend to swap « action » for « being ». But that might not be the best approach, and bears the risk of becoming somewhat circular (« to be spiritual is to be consciously »)

    Is my statement the same as saying « I am what I am »? It would boil down to the realisation of that, I suspect.

    These are just musings. I have no fixed view on these issues.

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    1. I actually hesitated when I wrote this between « I am that I am » which was waiting somewhere in my memory and I am what I am » which sounded less linguistically challenging for me…
      The correction you made instantly prompted the name of the book by Nisagadartta M.  » I am that »…
      I never found so much honesty and pragmatism in any account of one’s spiritual life.

      I agree with you that being’ would make a perfect applicant to substitute for ‘Action’…but this would lead to a tautological statement indeed.
      Getting stuck in a language dead-end is in itself a teaching, reminding us that we don’t transcend the mind using the mind…
      If Mind is the building Language is structure, walls, decoration and floor.

      Several times I havec reached this conclusion that the more we investigate etymology and translation challenges of The Bible and the Kor’an, the more we wan be sure there is so much potential distancing between what we read and what was intented — the core of the message, that we’d better drop it all all along and focus on the pragmatic, empirical investigation of Consciousness.

      …which actually is a healthy detour …allowing us to come back renewed and less prone to get entangled in our own interpretation pitfalls as we read holy texts again.
      Most of the mess is in our eyes.
      And we cannot realise it as long as our vision (our pupils scraped) by it.

      I’m perfectly aware this is not a direct reply to your insightful comment. I’m growing unable to deliver such grounded, point by point arguments…they require consistency and would force me to pretend I am something I’m not.
      Still, rest assured I give these comments a thorough thought and come back to them several times.
      I may even digest them somehow and come up with something close to a reply, some day, in the form of a post.

      ShinJin Datsuraku.
      would say Dogen.
      This may be wise advice, to me, no doubt.

      Have a nice day Simon.

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    1. « Ill into »;…is that an expression ?
      I’m not familiar with this structure / made a quick search and could not find anything.


  4. Hmm… « Casting off body and mind… ».

    To me, this would indicate identification with the « observer »(I wonder if « the percipient » is more accurate) at its purest.

    An aim, maybe. A state attained?

    That is a claim I would tend to distrust.

    A process? Certainly. As with « awakening » or « enlightenment », representative of a turn on a wheel of constant becoming.

    I have no idea how much of that makes sense in your Buddhist framework, however.

    As to interpretation of claimed « holy » texts… That is, generally, a contentious matter. I will leave that for further consideration.

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  5. I always have this same impression whenever people say to me things like « your Buddhist framework »…As if they were talking to the guy sitting behind me..
    I know frameworks are a necessity,
    I know that Buddhism perspires through many of theses texts.

    Still, the reality is otherwise. It is not a framework I try to stick to, on a compulsive quest for consistency (which will always leave me dubious)
    It is more simply pragmatic, empiric practice, which when I observe it looks a lot like what is taugh is the Buddhist framework.

    I’m not sure this is as clear as I hoped it to be.
    I meant inductive, not deductive approach
    Analysis after collection through a capillarity process.

    Many words I came across never managed to

    As for Dogen Shijin Dastsuraku,
    I guess it takes a life time to grasp it.
    Grasping it is a process as well, at least as much as applying it.
    I do not claim to have understood this.
    Sometimes though, in a snap…This talks to me.
    But rendition through words always comes short of relevance.
    As with anything coming from Dogen, it seems the ways to approach the content is as varied as the number of applicants…applicants being itself a fluctuating notion on the individual level.

    ‘Percipient’ for ‘recipient’ is a percipient choice, I guess.

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  6. You raise some interesting points.

    To my mind, a framework is not a necessity so much as an inevitability. We may be understanding the word differently. I do not mean, necessarily, a body of established doctrine – though that may be true for some individuals. I find it difficult, however, to envisage having any current understanding (however imperfect) or associated assumptions (which we all employ to negotiate the world and the ideas that confront us) without these being founded on past thought and experience. That is my « framework ». Such understanding would be atheist/theist/Christian/Buddhist etc depending on the individual’s past and accumulated knowledge (or ignorance).

    I take it you have made a study of, and seem to have given some acceptance to, Buddhist thought. How, therefore, can this not present you with a Buddhist (to some extent at least) framework?

    In so far as your path is empiric and practical, is this not essential to the framework you have created for yourself? Maybe you would make a good heretic. If so, welcome to the club!!!

    Might I suggest also the following? That to transcend one’s framework (which is, potentially, something that should be done as often as possible) one first needs to recognise and be prepared to confront it – with all that cognitive dissonance that might entail, especially for those who do adhere to established doctrine. Casting off body and mind has a certain relevance here, I suspect.

    I agree words can, often do. fail. Sometimes, only silence speaks. Unfortunately, it does not easily permit of communication. So, we make do as best we can.

    In conclusion, however, my « framework » tells me that whatever works for you, works – so, good luck with it and however you understand it. The best I can do is seek to approximate an understanding, not least a part of my own empirical approach – which includes seeking a deeper knowledge of my own situation through discussions such as this.

    I hope none of that comes over as arrogant or presumptious. I am trying, somehow, to be helpful to both of us. Failing, maybe, but trying…

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    1. as an additional note,
      May I suggest that frameworks can also mean the opposite of adventurous.
      Yet, spiritual travellers need and adventurous mind.
      Hiking in the wilderness vs. gentle Sunday family walk along the path.
      One runs the risk of being devoured by a lion,
      the other doesn’t, but has very little chance of actually going anywhere unexpected.

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  7. Of course Simon !
    I do agree with you on most of those points.
    I initially intended to note that it never feels good to me when a practical experience of spirituality (yes…we should define ‘experience’ and ‘spirituality’ first) is plastered on a conceptual framework / Body of texts / rituals / teaching…
    It seems more natural and sustainable to me when it turns out to be the other way around :
    1-practical experience
    2-relation to a framework to have the latter ‘fit’ in.
    3-widening of this initial framework.
    4-back to 1. until need for a framework dissolves.

    Heretic ? Is that a title ? A reward ?
    Non-heretics profiles leave me quizzical.
    I recommend we do not gather under any « heretic » banner, for it would surely be the ground for more attempts at fixating things into a ‘framework’, and then we’d need to shift the heretic blame on someone else…which is far to heavy a burden,
    even for a heart as brave as ours…

    OF course, there can be no ‘transcending’ without prior ‘integrating.’ of a framework,
    Sometimes as simple as the one we were provided with as children.

    Still I cannot refrain from thinking a pattern of integration–exploration- broadening- re-integration of the thus newly defined frame…is a healthy pattern.
    It may not be unnecessary to note that such a pattern of framework dismantling is in itself a framework, maybe more traditional than it may appear at first glance.

    It makes me think of an old post from this blog called « What is Zen ? Jumping Overboard »..

    Maybe you can find it of any interest if you type it in the search bar at the bottom of this page.
    It is a post dating from the day when I hardly proofread anything.
    Which makes quite contemporary, I guess, cause still don’t.
    Lord knows I know I should.

    Zen is a thing for Pirates with leaking boats.
    Please apologize I some of those articles are a bit raspy or provocative.
    It is a way for me to ensure breathing space.
    A vital necessity.

    You’re also right to say there can be so many things hidden in the term of framework.
    I essentially meant it as « limited space for authorized practice, application of a hierarchical structure based on extra spiritual criteria, place for de-compensation of accumulated frustrations, opportunity to pass along a opacifying corpus of compulsory thinking patterns…
    Well. I guess I’m not in a framework-friendly mood today.
    I may come back tomorrow and say the opposite, praising their canalizing property as well as the occasion they offer for concrete implementation of wisdom.

    Blague à part, I think I understood your point and, on a more silent, less playful level, fully agree.

    Have a nice day, Simon
    Thanks again for taking the time to read and answer.


  8. Heresy, as see it, is a state of mind. An unwillingness to accept anything, a determination to question everything.

    I have come to claim it as a sometimes useful term as being more accurate, more comprehensible and less liable to misunderstanding than the rather easy and pointless « pagan » title. I can explain that further if you see it as of relevance. For the present, suffice it to say that labels are all more or less meaningless, occasionally convenient but always dangerously misleading. Certainly, I do not attach blame to it. Others might, some surely do so. But yes, even iconoclasm runs the risk of creating its own orthodoxy, and needing a heretic to rebel against heresy itself.

    Sounds like your original idea of « framework » referred to a form of orthodoxy. It can mean that – and, from my standpoint, is the first version to be consigned to the shredder.

    I like raspy and provocative. Perhaps that is why I’m never quite sure if I am being a tad offensive myself.

    I will investigate that older post, if I can find it…

    Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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