Spiritual Chiropractics

Whenever I start to take myself too seriously, which seems to be a daily hazard, I head out to look at some mountains.  For the last few years, that has meant a short trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway to bask in the aura of the Smokies.  Craggy crests and ridges bathed in blue haze stretch to the horizon, the undulating remnants of continental collisions that occurred 300 million years ago.  Humans were still 298.5 million years in the future.

Being the oldest mountains in North America, they’re useful for putting me in my place.  Who am I to over-estimate my importance, my intelligence, or anything else?  Those rocky, rounded peaks endured the world before my species even existed, and will probably still be standing long after we’re extinct.  They’ve seen dinosaurs come and go.  They’ve seen civilizations arrive and disappear.  In the long run, my presence and worries don’t mean very much.

It’s an effective perspective when I start to feel unappreciated, underpaid, unlucky, or other symptoms of self-inflation.  Money and respect are nice, but also insignificant in the larger scheme of things.  The earth’s rotation won’t be affected; the black flies will still bite.  God isn’t going to rework everyone’s destiny in order to massage my ego.  So, I may as well get over myself.

When it comes to our own lives, each of us tends to suck all of the air out of the room.  We’re the center of attention for ourselves, minutely aware of what we’re thinking and feeling, while seeing the world through our eyes, which gives it a discernible self-centered warp.  How can everyone not care about the things I care about?  How can everyone not see what I see?  How can they not know what I know?  How can they not want to pay me more money for being me?

Let’s face facts.  Someday the universe is going to disappear and none of this will even be a memory.  None of it will matter.  That’s why Hinduism and Buddhism both regard this world as completely an illusion, despite how physical it feels.  Life is a temporary efflorescence of miraculous pedigree, and is best lived with that knowledge in mind.  Pretending otherwise causes stress.

The only meaning found in life is in relationships, and relationships are only possible when we acknowledge the presence of others.  The less we’re concerned with ourselves, the more room we have for others.  When we demand less, others receive more.  Such is the essence of a truthful life.  Such is the way of a person who knows their place in creation.

“To be empty is to be full.”  So says Lao Tzu to us all.

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About Bucky Dann

I teach religion, sociology, and psychology at Southwestern Community College in the Smoky Mountains. I have worked in the United Methodist ministry and in the substance abuse field. I possess a Masters of Divinity, a Masters of Philosophy, and a PhD in the sociology of knowledge.

One Response to “Spiritual Chiropractics”

  1. Your words ring so very true! All too often people are so into themselves that they miss the very gift that the ‘other’ has to give….Having spent six weeks in India, staying in an Ashram, assisting a doctor in his ‘clinic’, and visiting the ‘villages’, I tend to take myself much less seriously….and am ever so grateful for what I have, and humbled by how content those who have nothing are! Ghandi said “Live as though to die today – learn as though to live forever”…this is what my life has come to embrace, thankful for each day, and being open to learning from it. I tend to believe that “this IS Paradise”….this physical presence we have called organs and skin is so very temporary….but the spirit, ah – the ‘spirit’ – that is always alive and well…..

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