THE KEY TO REAL CHOICES
by Bud Harris
In the practical world I grew up in, sexuality and spirituality were not considered poetically. The logic of aiming for a successful life left little room for passion and visions. Practically from the moment I was born, I was urged to join society’s routines that would march me through life. The ancient mythologies and rituals that had once made sexuality and spirituality passionate elements in life’s mystery found themselves stored in dusty libraries along with other pieces of our history. Sexuality was less something to be celebrated and felt than something to be practiced morally and antiseptically. And the same went for spirituality. A religious vision made public in the middle-class world of my childhood would have been regarded as embarrassing and stigmatizing.
"Spirituality" was a word I rarely heard as a child. "Religion" was a more popular term, and religious matters were generally left in the hands of the clergy. Spiritual development or mysticism, which the religious scholar Evelyn Underhill describes as the "development of spiritual consciousness," was unknown in my early life, even though my parents were well educated and we attended church regularly. While today I would claim that my Protestant mother became a mystic through her journey toward death, for myself, this event shattered my religious perspective. Before I could rebuild it I had to carefully redefine my understanding of what the word "religious" means and how it is different from spirituality and the development of spiritual consciousness.