Walk into any bookshop and there is a deluge of incredible books about any spiritual topic your heart might desire.
This excites me no end.
The central axis of my life revolves around my own spiritual path. I make a living out of divination. I constantly seek clarity, purification and a deepening of my path.
When I discovered twitter a couple of months ago my byline went something like this:
Sangoma from South Africa obsessed with Freedom, empowerment and illumination. Divination is my thing. It’s all in your bones.
I found a whole network of people there who were all blogging about spirituality (like me), selling their services (like me) and connecting with other people via social media.
It was a thrill to find so many people, all pretty much in my age bracket, who are all inspired by similar things.
After a couple of months though, my bitter and twisted soul became fairly dubious about the whole deal.
Most of them are all selling something. This requires them to project a certain image of wholesomeness and happiness continuously, in order to attract new clients. They are fresh-faced, upbeat and always excited about life. There is not a hint or a trace of unhappiness or struggle in their lives. Instead, they persistently doll out large dollops of “how to” to their readers, who seemingly eat it for breakfast, because that is what they want.
The age of the internet has changed the way in which we communicate. It is now possible for anyone, anywhere, to sell their goods online; it could be clothing, food or advice. You don’t need any credentials, you just need a personality and an internet connection and voila! Welcome to twitter. You can be as enlightened as you like.
The public belief around following advice is that the person who is giving it is probably worth following if they’re happy. If they are seen to be unhappy, their credibility would be brought into dispute.
Look, no one wants to learn anything from a person who’s always depressed. We want something aspirational. We want lightness and joy. We want to connect to people who have something that we don’t, and we want them to teach us about it, but I simply don’t believe that ALL those people on Twitter have found quite as much enlightenment as they purport to have. Which makes me suspicious.
Advertising is about aspiration, I understand this, but surely in the world of spirituality, where people fondly speak about breaking out of their own Maya and illusion, such a sales pitch can’t be worth it’s salt?
So let me put in my two cents here:
Firstly, in my opinion the pursuit for happiness is a futile one. It is not natural or normal to ALWAYS be happy. It’s simply not sustainable. Besides for that, it puts a hell of a lot of pressure on you to start off with. I feel clammy just thinking about it.
I prefer to seek out contentment. This feels like an emotion that references the here and now in a much stronger way than happiness does.
Happiness very often requires you to edit out, or to ignore certain things in your life. Contentment sees everything, nods at them all, takes their hand in acceptance and sits down to dinner.
God knows, I am not always happy. I don’t want you to believe that I am. Being sad or down is the human way of processing events. And I do a lot of processing.
I am not a commodity. I am not a product. I am a person, one with a proclivity for spiritual work. Sometimes I get down on my hands and knees and crawl through dark trenches of mucky emotions. This year I’ve been doing that spectacularly often. This is the very reason why I might be able to give you my two cents when you find yourself in a similar trench.
I have un-followed most of those mind/body/spirit twitterers. I’ve changed my byline to read:
I’m a white-girl Sangoma from the western cape of SA with a penchant for magic, mythology, writing and theater. Divination is my thing. It’s all in your bones.
I’ve found a heap of artists, music makers and actors who are both good and bad, clean and dirty, beautiful and ugly.
They swear. They say things they probably shouldn’t have said. They’re interesting! Their excitement about projects is infectious, and every time that they finish something I am truly excited about it, because I know that there’s been one hell of a process involved in it. That’s what makes it beautiful.
There are a number of people who twitter about their worldwide travels that I love as well. They have good times and bad, they mess up, they struggle. I BELIEVE THEM. I relate.
In the process I’ve discovered something interesting about myself.
Art fascinates me much more than “straight” spirituality does. It requires enormous insight, understanding and wisdom to sculpt and create stories, paintings and sculptures. I respect the enormous effort it requires, the commitment involved. It has the ability to transform the audience in an incredibly powerful way.
I’ve discovered that I want to be an artist.
Which is kind of big.