God and I have always had something of an up-and-down relationship. I really like Him (or is it a Her or an It? I’ve never been quite sure) a lot. I mean A LOT. More than anything else.  But still, we’ve had our struggles.

My grandmother was my very favorite relative, complete with a friendly dog and a friendly cat, closets which smelled of mothballs, and an endless supply of wonderful desserts. She went to church every Sunday and prayed, and she taught me to do the same.  I picked it up pretty easy.

“God, this is Nicholas here.” (That was my name when I was a kid, Nicholas.) “God, thank you very, very much for making me captain of the cricket team. That was very nice of you. And thank you for the B grade in English. I was wondering if you could help me out with Biology, and maybe get me a B in that too? Oh and by the way, you know that girl with the blond pigtails, Molly Smithers? Well God, I’d really like to kiss her.   God..?   God..?   Are you there, God..?    Hello..?”

I was quite conscientious about my praying back then, but I was never quite sure if anyone was listening. Seemed there was a lot of static on the line, and I wasn’t quite sure if my mail was getting read, or if my phone calls were being listened to. (more…)

If you’ve been reading my stuff here for a while, you probably remember that back in the summer of 2009, I started to conduct interviews for a new publication with some very interesting people. I’ve been busy with that ever since. Finally, it’s come to some sort of completion.

In almost every tradition, there has been a split between spiritual awakening and worldly life. A sadhu in India renounces money, sexuality, and even clothes to discover “moksha.” In the Christian tradition, priests have generally been single and celibate, or even living in a monastery, secluded from the world. This remained true even 30 or 40 years ago when it was still quite popular to take a vow of celibacy or poverty, or to live away from the world in a spiritual community. But things have changed dramatically in the last few decades.

I regularly attend large conferences and events, and I’ve enjoyed conducting my own little amateur sociological project. When I get a crowd of a few hundred people, I like to ask, “How many people have a current vow of celibacy?” It’s very rare, these days, to see even one or two hands go up. Then I ask, “How many people would celebrate bringing your heart’s deepest awakening into your sexuality?” The crowd becomes a sea of hands. I can ask the same question about parenting, family, social and political action, but the most interesting to me is money and material success. “How many people,” I ask, “are living with a current vow of poverty? You’ve renounced money and material possessions?” Again, it’s rare to see a single hand. “And who,” I continue, “is interested in bringing awakening into your business life — to have a more conscious and awakened relationship to the flow of money?” Again, it’s a sea of hands. (more…)