Q16. What devotional goals have you set for yourself?

This one I’ve been thinking about for a while, because I don’t really set specific goals. I’ve got my commitment to a daily yoga practice, which has been going well so far, but the rest of the things I do are not so goal oriented. It is good for me to do these things, but I don’t know. It is hard for me to come to that cleanly. I tend to use those sorts of goals as an opportunity for failure and disappointment, which just isn’t useful at all.

If I were to set goals, it would be to basically do more of the things I know are good for me to do. I won’t even say how often – it isn’t something I want to measure at this point. But here are some things:

Eat food that honors my body and the earth. So much of my understanding of our place in the great web of physical existence is about food. Not just what we eat, but our relationship to what we eat. There is a line from the I Ching, “If you want to know what a man values, look at what he chooses to nourish himself.” I suppose it would be good to eat with more mindfulness and reverence, but really, if I am not eating in a way that is congruent with my beliefs and values, it is hard to really get behind that. And when I am eating in a way that is congruent with my beliefs and values, that reverence and mindfulness comes naturally. It is an inherent part of the process.

Pray, imperfectly, and often. Jumping off that last point, when I am not doing all the things I “should” do, I tend to push the gods away. It is so stupid, when I actually think about it. It isn’t as if the gods don’t know how imperfect I am. Yeah, there are some gods who don’t seem too interested in dealing with me unless I am giving at least a decent effort to doing the right thing by their standard, but there are others who are quite happy to take me as I am. If nothing else, I can take that struggle to do the right thing, and lay that at their feet as my offering. I think of that line from the Leonard Cohen song, “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” If I can manage it, I try to see my pain at not having “done enough” as a recognition of the part of me that knows how to do the right thing, even when I can’t manage to do it.

Have more sex. Especially have more sex where I am aware of the joy and wonder that is our physical bodies. Sex is really the first place where learned about spiritual connection, not just with my partner, but connection with the gods, and connection with the Infinite. My body has always been my strongest spiritual tool, and for me, sex is the most natural expression of that.

Make music. This is always a good exercise in embracing my imperfection, because I really have minimal musical aptitude, but I do enjoy singing. I enjoy playing my ukulele. Sometimes I even manage to enjoy playing the violin, but I’m still really in the stage where I am struggling so much to get the basic technique that it is hard to really enjoy it. Still, music is good. Even just listening to music is good. I’ve got a somewhat bizarre collection of songs that remind me of certain gods, and it is a very effective way for me to keep my mind and heart focused on things that have meaning to me.

Help people. Service comes right after sex for me, when look at ways I experience spiritual connection. I can’t always connect with people emotionally, but I can do things for them. I love being able to use my skills to help people. I’m not out to save the world or anything like that. I’ve never been a “big picture” guy. But when I can do small things to make life a little better for the people around me, I am happy.

Okay, so that is five. Five is a good number, and I ought to be in bed by now…

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