I would like to pose a series of questions/statements to consider. I’ll put in my answers to them, but I invite you to think of what your response would be. It will help when I moved to the second stage. This post will make the most sense, potentially have the most impact, if you follow me down the rabbit hole.
How would you react if someone said to you:
a) Every person must reach a very high state of spiritual developent.
I would say you’re nuts. Not everyone is interested and quite frankly capable of reaching the same lofty heights of spiritual development.
b) There is only one type of spiritual road to follow.
It’s not like there’s one type of spiritual development. It’s a range of experiences that we pretty much all recognize but we don’t all get to the same place and we certainly don’t get there by exactly the same method.
c) You’re a failure if you don’t reach the highest level of spirituality possible.
Uh, no. Some people will be very happy, very spiritual and very fulfilled (the key point in this one, I think) with having spirituality as a regular part of their day or perhaps their week without it being the most important thing in their life and/or without them having to reach any particular degree, experience certain Mysteries or otherwise reach notable landmarks on the road of spiritual development. In other words, for me, the person who is blissful in their soul from tending their rose garden does not need to develop any further spiritually. If s/he does, great! If not, they have, by having their own experience of a healthy spiritual life, reached a good state for them and I see no need to force or expect them to go farther on it.
d) It’s okay to stop expressing and living what we would consider spiritual values in our quest to become more spiritual.
Uh, hell no. If you stop behaving in a spiritually enlightened way then I’m sorry, you’re not moving closer to spiritual enlightenment (and when I finally do my post on harm, yes it’s related, you’ll discover just how interesting is the meaning behind this sentence, well in my opinion).
Now, go back and look at the statements again, but instead of spiritual development, read it as weight loss. Here, I’ll do them again:
a) Every person must reach a very high state of spiritual developent. = Every person must be very physically fit and thin.
Seriously? Everyone must be very physically fit? No, not in the history of our race has that been the case. Physically healthy, well yes that would be good. But physically fit?
Or how about stripping the physically fit and making it: every person must be thin.
Think about that statement. If it isn’t resonating in you with a ‘hell no, that doesn’t make sense, then look again at the spiritual statement. Do you agree that everyone must reach a high state of spiritual development? If not, then why must everyone be thin? Why must a single perceived ideal rule all people?
b) There is only one type of spiritual road to follow. = There is only one body type that is beautiful.
Okay, I’ll admit that I wouldn’t have agreed with the only one body type beautiful statement even before this exercise. Or would I? Pictures of various body types I’ve seen have been gorgeous. But when I think of what I consider beautiful, is it a wide range of images? Or is it a narrow spectrum, constrained by fitness, muscles, curves only in the ‘appropriate’ places?
When I reflect back on the idea of one spiritual road, which I completely reject (though there is the syncretist view that they are all the same that I can work with, but here I’m talking about the specifics of different roads – though if you take the syncretist path, then all body types are beautiful so it still all works together), and then switch my thinking straight over to there’s only one beautiful body type, I reject that too. There isn’t. There are many beautiful body types out there.
c) You’re a failure if you don’t reach the highest level of spirituality possible. = You’re a failure if you don’t reach the thinnest, fittest body possible.
Ohhhh, for those of us with body issues, doesn’t that just ring a bell? Make your whole essence resonate in that nasty, hate yourself because you’re not the body you’re supposed to be kind of way? Or maybe that’s just me.
I feel this one. I feel that I’m a failure for not being thinner (though I’m not after super-thin, I’ve adjusted my thinking that much!), and gods help me if I put on a few pounds. Then it’s not just failure of not being thinner, it’s the active failure of “back-sliding” down the bad road.
If I think about that train of thought and put it in a spiritual context, then sure I’d ben grumpy about backsliding, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world. As soon as I realized it I would decide if it really was ‘backsliding’ and if it was, and not somewhere I wanted to go, I would turn around and start going back the way I wanted to go. No harm, no foul. And I’d also be looking to see what the cause of this change was and how it fits into my spiritual view.
But all of that presupposes that I’m good with the first two statements. That there’s no particular spiritual height I need to reach and neither is there one particular way I need to get there.
If there’s no particular state of fitness or weight I need to reach, that there are many different body types that are beautiful – *even for me* (i.e. that my body doesn’t have just one good state of being, that it is happy with a variety of such states) – then why the f*ck do I need to be the thinnest person possible? Or the fittest?
d) It’s okay to stop expressing and living what we would consider spiritual values in our quest to become more spiritual. = It’s okay to give up the health of our bodies in the quest to become thinner.
This is one that seems particularly obviously no. Doesn’t it? After all, we shouldn’t sacrifice our health just to get a few pounds less on a scale. And yet we do. There are diet pills that I’m betting aren’t that good for our health, but hey if they get us down that scale, they must be good, right? And let me just say “eating disorders”. They are not healthy, but they are a direct outcome of the pathological need to lose weight.
So it’s not so obvious after all. Or perhaps obvious, but not so easy to work around.
And how do we work around it all? How does any of this train of thought help change body image or our viewpoints enough that we are no longer plagued by the unhealthy, unreasonable, often unconscious thought patterns?
For me, this comparison of spiritual to body really helped. It opened my metaphorical eyes to a different way of seeing my viewpoints on my body and I really had that realization or a deep-seated resonate click of sense from comparing the two and how unworkable and downright dangerous my body thought patterns are.
What about you? Does any of this make you think a little differently?
~the Abysmal Witch