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  The Ishmael Community: Questions and Answers

The Question (ID Number 522)...

    What is my question to you? Simply whether you find any value in any FORM or KIND of techniques, practices, or exercises to edify your "spirit" (if I may say that), to connect to your creativity, wisdom, etc. that's within you. Whether or not Leaver peoples do this, I do not know. But as a writer, thinker, and resident of civilization (Houston even), do you find time, room, and place for this? If too personal a question, do you shrug your shoulders at such things, finding it yet an irrelevant question?

    ...and the response:

    The questions you ask are not too personal, and I don't shrug at them; if I didn't listen to people's questions, I wouldn't know what they're thinking. In the sixties a great many people came to accept the idea that they were spiritually flabby, needed to "get in shape" with exercises like Transcendental Mediation. Naturally, many billions of dollars have flowed into the pockets of gurus presenting themselves as spiritual muscle-builders. I'm afraid this is just not something I've ever bought into. I no more have "techniques, practices, and disciplines" for buffing my spirit than I do for buffing my intelligence or my sense of humor. If others find value in such things, I wish them well, of course. My own experience is that their techniques, practices, and disciplines tend to foster in them a condescending attitude toward the rest of us, and if this makes them happy, which it apparently does, then that's fine with me too. The underlying idea here is, of course, that there is something fundamentally wrong with humans as they are (an idea I've been at pains to attack in my work); this generation's idea is that what's wrong is that they need to be "more spiritual." A young woman once wrote to me wondering what to do about the fact that her boyfriend didn't think she was "spiritual enough." My advice was that her boyfriend wasn't in fact more spiritual than she, just more arrogant (and she should find herself another one).

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