Stop me if you’ve heard this one

A Jew, A Muslim, A Christian, a Buddhist and an Atheist are all on Spring Break together. They are in a swimming pool, splashing each other and chicken fighting. All of a sudden GOD appears. He looks something like Jeff Bridges.

“Hold on, man”, he says. “Are you puttin’ out what you’re gettin’ in? Know what I’m saying?”

All of these guys turn and look at this old hippie, who in spite of his reputation of being God, is losing his audience.

“God, where have you been?” Asked the Jew.

“Yes” said the Christian, “Where’s Jesus?”

“Jesus and I are both on Spring Break.” said God. “My son doesn’t want to be seen with me at the pool, so he’s gone to Disneyland”

“Makes sense” says the Atheist, “Him and Mickey Mouse, just figments of our imagination”

“Leave him alone!” said the Buddhist, “Let him be as he is”

“God,” says the Muslim, “How did you get here?”

“Well,” says God, “First, there was the heavens and-”

“NoNoNo, not that, I mean…how did you get invited to this event? I have to like, keep reminding these guys to make me an admin on the facebook page and they keep ignoring me!”

“Shut up, dude!” Said the Christian, “He’s GOD. Obviously he’s always invited. But he’s everywhere anyway so it doesn’t matter.”

“Yeah, but I’m sure God gets really mad when people don’t invite him! I mean, he has feelings, right?” Said the Jew, “God, do you have feelings?”

“Well, I try not to take anything personally,” said God, in a way that would make you feel he took it personally.

“Do you want to come in?” said the Buddhist. “I made…Ok, bought some vegan corndogs from Whole Foods.”

“You told me you made those! They were my favorite!” Said the Muslim. “Are they even vegan?”

“Well, it says on the wrapper that it was made in a place that may…be a pig farm, but…”

“What???” said both the Jew and Muslim together.

And then they started splashing each other. Really hard splashes that guys will do in pools to show off. Only it was angrier than that. They dunked each other, pinned each other with fun noodles, and gave each other wedgies.

God was amused, but not pleased.

“I COMMAND YOU TO STOP!!”

All of a sudden, the party was over. The deep end parted and God walked on the dry cement at the bottom. He went to the very center of the pool and pulled the plug. Like a spiral in a bathtub, all the water drained out of the pool.

Everybody felt like a royal douchebag.

“I told you he wasn’t going to save any of you”. Said the Atheist. “If he is so forgiving, why is he doing this to us?”

“I see your point.” said the Christian.

“Don’t look at me!” said the Muslim.

The Buddhist was silent.

“Do you think I’M GOD???” Said God.

More silence.

“God is not a person, place, thing, idea, doctrine, scripture or anything that can speak to you in finite manners. God is you. But what keeps God alive is the water between you. The thing that flows and holds you up when you feel like sinking and sustains you in peace. I’m Jeff Fucking Bridges, and i’m going to go get drunk while I wait for Jesus to come back from Disneyland.”

And with that, God-or-Jeff-Bridges left.

And they all kind of stared at each other for awhile. Not knowing really what to say.

“I should have got his autograph” said the Jew.

“Dude, you really think that was Jeff Bridges?” said the Christian.

“He looks much shorter than he does in the movies”, said the Buddhist.

They thought about this for a minute.

“I don’t think that was Jeff Bridges.” said the Muslim.

The pool dried up and became a skate park the very next summer. It was carved up and tagged and teenagers would go there to have unprotected sex. The facebook group “Summer Pool Party” was deleted. Jeff Bridges never came back again.

Ke$ha and my Klesha

I’ve experienced surges of emotion in the past month. Euphoria, Sadness, Madness, Despair. As one who traverses the meditative path, I try not to let my feelings of life become the facts of life. But I’m human and when crisis happens the first thing that falls out of line is my emotional stability. I can only blame it on my moon in Pisces for so long, and then I actually have to put my big girl pants on.

What happens when we experience separation from our fixed identities is what the Buddhist tradition would call kleshas. Anger, Jealousy, Pride, Fear. Those are all strong emotions that occur when we separate from our former selves. Look at a very drunk college co-ed. She stumbles on her heels, gets upset when her phone dies, and cries when she can’t find her way out of the bathroom.  That is the esscence of Klesha, all reactive and no clarity…lost and hurt for no reason.

My kleshas have a visual component to them. You are all familiar with a whiskey-loving pop star named Ke$ha. For those unfamiliar, her songs involve waking up in someone else’s bathroom, brushing her teeth with Jack Daniels, and becoming so crazy over a man that she likens love to a drug. She is my vajazzled force of self destruction with glitter in all parts unknown.

Image

Is this your bathroom? I think I’ll sleep here tonight – Me, in College.

But what’s so interesting to me about my personal party demon? She’s seductive. Secretly we adore this hot mess. When Britney Spears was on the brink of suicide and getting into car accidents? We thrive on that story. When Lindsay Lohan gets away with another drunken incident? We want to see more. Not only are these kleshas of culture in my consciousness as the party demons of my  past, but she’s in the collective consciousness of the world as what we all value.

Because if the world convinces us that emotional calamity is our normal, then we don’t have to be bothered with our infinity. If we are taught enough times that being crazy is what’s expected, then we don’t have to be responsible for our lives. 

There are two sides to kleshas when it comes to going through hardships. There is the creative burn of this process, where we go through the veil of our emotions and fears and come out the other side as clear. Britney’s comeback? Getting over a loss? Doing what you love in spite of your fear? All empowering. We have equal opportunity to rise through the calamity and that makes us stronger and clearer. When we break through our emotional passages, we become human and we recognize that suffering in others.

Now here I am, at the age of 28 and my emotional calamities have not gotten any less complicated. Hurt, Regret, Fear, Lack. All of my Kleshas which appear to me like seductive club monsters who could turn my mental clarity into hazy weapons-grade jaeger bombs. An emotional hangover much worse than the physical. Self poisoning at its worst.

What I need to remember is this: all of this emotional Klesha, Ke$ha, and turmoil? Comes from a false image. It comes from an image that I am separate from infinity, love, and the light inside that guides me in the darkness. All emotional calamity is from a separation that doesn’t exist between me and infinity.

We are all beautiful creatures of this planet trying to become soul. We stumble, we cry, we get drunk and pass out. But we wake up and we try again. Every morning. Even if we feel terrible consistently, we slowly learn to detatch from that feeling and eventually it doesn’t bother us anymore. We are soulful beings here to learn messy love and life. Calamity is not our purpose, but navigating calamity through the strength of our path will get us there.

May this week be filled with clarity and healing. May all of your emotional turmoils be re-directed towards your inner light and burned out with the intensity of your truth. May you never feel sadness, fear, anger or hurt when your love becomes the place of peace. May your daily practice peel back the layers of your emotional pain so you may live your destiny and the destiny of a peaceful planet. Sat Nam.