Monday, February 27, 2012

wayward prayer

Remember being a kid and grown-ups asking, "what do you want to be when you grow up?"
I always thought that was the dumbest-assed question
in the world.
What does a kid who's age is still in single digits know
(or care) about careers and job markets?

But when my age got to early double digits, I got it in my head that I wanted to be a Catholic Priest.
I mean, it made perfect sense. I was already an alter-boy, could recite the Mass in Latin and just loved the smell
of the incense.

That notion of becoming a Catholic Priest stayed with me for a few years until two things happened. . .
First, I discovered girls.
And second, I learned the definition of the word "celibate".
My hormonally charged, adolescent response was, "you've got to be f*#kin' kidding!!"
And so began my lifelong study of comparative religion. . .
(There just had to be a tradition where I could be a Holy Man and still get laid?)

painting of Augustine by Botticelli

Well yeah, there were plenty, of course, but none of them climbed the fl├ęche and rang my bell.
Then by and by I discovered Buddhism; and I knew for sure I was no longer Catholic. (if I had ever really been a Catholic in the first place)
"God" was no longer some figment of my imagination living up in the clouds;
"God" was within. . .

As an adult, I've been blessed with two inspirational spiritual teachers; Paramahansa Yogananda and Joseph Campbell.
Enlightened by what I've learned from those two men, I took up Yoga and Meditation and the search for "Nirvanic Bliss" was on.

The trouble, as I discovered, is once you cross "the Rubicon" to Nirvanic bliss, you either couldn't or wouldn't want to come back. It's a one way trip!

I've come pretty damned close to the water's edge more than a few times in meditation but for one reason or another, (like a good Cuban cigar or a SuperBowl party or another pretty young woman coming along) I haven't climbed aboard the Mahayana to sail to the yonder shore.

All the same, one day during this incarnation, I know I'll put my earthly desires (Kama) down and make the
Nirvanic crossing.
But until I do, to keep my options open, I've adopted
St. Augustine's "Wayward Prayer". . .

"Lord make me pure. . .
. . .But not yet."


James Winstanley said...

Whoa. We are more similar than you think, Art. Could that be nature, nurture, or a combination of both?

I too was an altar boy, loved the smell of that incense, and found out where the priests kept the wine... Never said I was lily pure. >;->

Chuck Ball said...

Arthur, your blog helps me get through the time between trips to KW. I am in town gathering background for my latest novel and am wondering if I could buy you a beverage and talk a bit? I can be reached at can check out my bio at along with my novel "Mingo's Cave"