Friday, July 3, 2009

The Rambling Bodybuilding Bodhisattva: The State of the Sprituality/Health Marketplace

     Okay, first things friggin' first: Depending on why you visit this blog will probably determine your reaction to the title of this post.  If you come here looking for training advice, and wonder why in the world I also ramble/talk/discuss/inform about spiritual matters—especially nondual, integral spirituality—then you probably just read the title of this post and said, "What the ----?!"
     If this is your reaction, then go back and read my previous posts dealing with integral, spirituality, and (what I call) Awakened Training.  Also, go to Wikipedia—or some other such thing that is similar—and find out for yourself what in the name of Buddha a Bodhisattva is.  And... it wouldn't hurt to visit Integral Options (a blog that I recommend wholeheartedly because I read it daily)—you can find the link under my "links" section.  (Integral Options is good because it has a mixture of psychology, spirituality [mainly Buddhist], philosophy, and health/fitness.)
     Now, if you visit here because you're actually interested in all things Integral, then I've decided to write an occasional post on whatever thoughts are floating around in my creative/mystical (yet not always the most intellectual) mind.  Hence the title "The Rambling Bodybuilding Bodhisattva," which will be an on-going series.  Sometimes this stuff will be more mystical, sometimes more philosophical.  Basically just whatever is on my mind that I just have to get off my chest.
     Which also brings us around to the sub-title here: The State of the Spirituality/Health Marketplace.  I'm referring to the authors and publishers who write/publish work that is marketed toward fitness junkies—or folks who kind of would like to one day be fitness junkies (now that's the rambling part, folks).  But fitness junkies who are also knee deep into spiritual matters.
     I suppose that the two most popular authors (currently) who fit into this category are Shawn Phillips—who I always liked back from his MM2K days—and Paul Chek.  Now, before I go any further I want to say that—from what I've read—I really like these two guys.  Phillips seems sincere, and on fire with a purpose.  Chek seems a bit more eccentric—but, hell, I would probably like him more because of this.  I'm a bit eccentric myself.  (There are times, in fact, when I feel the That of Crazy Wisdom flowing within me, trying like some kind of mad, deranged little Chogyam Trungpa to burst out into the world in all of its Holy Fool Power—got to keep that stuff in check, brothers.)
     Here's the deal with both of them (Chek and Phillips):  There seems to be just a little too much hokey, law-of-attraction crap poking from around their edges.  I can understand.  I imagine a lot of bodybuilders, fitness enthusiasts, health nuts (insert whatever other word you want to at this point) could probably get into all of that Secret mumbo-jumbo.  After all, having a positive attitude and visualizing yourself to be in great shape—or as I used to, visualize myself cranking out a 600 pound squat with ponderous power—are good ways to help you achieve your goals.  Just makes sense—at least to the folks into that Secret/law-of-attraction stuff—that adding some "you create your own reality" on top of the positivity would help you even more.  (I'm not going to get into all of the reasons why the Secret sucks a big wad of spiritual schlong—you can do an internet search and should be able to find some good reasons why it absolutely, t-totaling sucks.  Now that I think about it, I think that Stuart Davis's blog had the most entertaining reason to its pure suckness.)
     And what we don't need to do if we're concerned with real spirituality—if we truly want to practice an integral spirituality—is touch law-of-attraction muck with a ten foot pole.  Leave that stuff to the new age narcissists—who have, in essence, created a new-age fundametalism as bad as any conservative, traditional-religion fundamentalism.
     What we need are die-hard fitness enthusiasts who are also serious about integral philosophy and integral spirituality.  Whether they tackle this from the mystical side—such as myself—or whether they tackle it from the philosophical side doesn't really matter.  What matters is that they are sincere, caring, honest men/women who are doing their best to make this world a better place through health, fitness, spirituality but who are not—I repeat, not—narcissists.
     So, if you want to get serious about your level of fitness, and if you want to get serious about real spirituality, then read Phillips, and read Chek—there's a whole lot of stuff to love there—but make sure that you read stuff like Wilber's "Integral Life Practice" or his "Integral Spirituality."  The Integral Life Practice book, in fact, has a whole chapter on "Body" that fitness enthusiasts should fall in love with if they want to understand the more spiritual aspects of what they do.  Also, make sure that you read books from some of the great spiritual masters of our time—people like Thich Nhat Hanh and Thomas Keating (my absolute favorite from the Christian tradition).  With those two guys, there is no law-of-attraction stuff anywhere to be found between the pages of their books.  Why?  Because there's no real happiness to be found in "the Secret."  And guess what?  There's no real integral fitness/spirituality to be found in it either.

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