(Because writing them out helps me process. This is stream of consciousness; don’t expect anything pretty. Or coherent. You’re lucky there are sentences.)
I’ve been poking my way through the video below on deity worship. It’s an ISKCON production; I’m finding value in a number of the videos this particular ISKCON group has produced. There’s discussion on the desire by many to find a single gold standard, a single particular way for worship to be done that will be the same no matter the temple, and how, because individuals being what they are, that such a thing isn’t possible, will never be found, and that’s okay. It’s a sentiment I get really excited about hearing, because I fear it’s something that is not stressed enough in the polytheistic circles.
I haven’t finished watching this yet, and I stopped because he then segued onto the topics of cleanliness and punctuality.
Now, the things I know are: there are different standards to be found in temple versus in home worship. There are likely different standards to be found depending on which group you are speaking of. The second the topic becomes one of cleanliness of self before approaching deity, I become cranky, and so I stop and I retreat, and I consider.
I’m coming to any of this at all through Poseidon, because He said, explore this. By this, what He meant is Vishnu, and this connection between the Two that is strong enough, that is important enough, for Him to say such things as, “I am also to be found here, in Him.” I find myself collecting books to start reading, and seeking out ‘tubes to watch, and feeding my intellectual curiosity. I’m exploring in an intellectual way, and in the course of it, tying myself up in knots.
One huge part of my path with Poseidon has been coming to understand humanity through its place within the animal kingdom. I would not be able to be even remotely compassionate with our species without Him having taken my understanding of us as being horrid and wretched and unlike anything else in the world, and placing us firmly back into the natural world, of which we are a part. There is a certain emphasis on the physical aspect of existence, then, and there’s a certain emphasis on a lack of boundaries of special-ness or of differentiation between physical states of being. (Wow. That’s a bad sentence!) That is to say, there is a strong understanding through practice and interaction with Him that tells me that various states of physicality are all wanted, none are disqualifying factors when it comes to approaching Him. The observance of miasma in any physical form has never been part of my practice. Cleanliness in thought, in mindset, in heart, in emotion? A resounding YES. Cleanliness in body? Yeah — except this confirms to societal standards of cleanliness, not anything else, and that’s more habit, more human culture, and less about Him.
So, do I come to the shrine and offer Him things without washing my hands first if I’m doing serious yard work or heavy-duty cleaning, or have just scrubbed the toilet? No. But do I come to His shrine right out of bed, without having brushed my teeth or washed my face or brushed my hair. You better believe it. Have I come to His shrine after tending to the dead? Yes.
Because my worship is so centered on Poseidon, and then Odin, I have to be mindful of that intimacy that I will never share with Another. I have to acknowledge that my standards may not be other peoples’, and that’s cool. I don’t think I’m special; that has nothing to do with it. I do think that His emphasis has continually been the dissolution of boundaries between u/Us.
I considered my creation of a shrine for Others, last night. I have the space set aside, and I’m planning on gaining images of others — Vishnu, again, and Ganesh, and Lakshmi, because He said She was important, and Durga, of course, Whose images I already have. I thought about how I’m not interested in trying to keep two sets of rules for myself in my devotion — and of how, by necessity, because They are different people, and because hospitality demands it of me — that I will be mindful of learning preferences, and yes, I’ll be less informal with Them because They are not Poseidon, even if He says Vishnu is. Vishnu-with-Poseidon, we’ll see. Vishnu-with-these-others? I find that I’m inclined to be more formal and caring of ‘proper ways’. But I also find that I need to be mindful enough to allow Them to instruct.
Because I’m slipping, I know I am, I’ve caught myself already once, into deciding that the written material, the experiences of those humans who have gone before, have the Right Way, the Only Way, the Proper Way. Deciding that brings me to a place of . . . can’t word. It makes me disinterested, because I’m not interested in other peoples relationships defining mine. Reading about, getting ideas from, yes — I value those who have come before, and continual worship of these gods is impressive and outside of my experience, and it’s exciting. And while I do want to read about historical and contemporary approaches to, say, worshiping Krishna, in my own devotion, I need to remember that I’m interested in where Poseidon brings me, where He leads me, even in this, and not so much in others leading me. That would be true even if I wasn’t mistrustful of human teachers, and even if I wasn’t disinterested in human-centered worship. Through all of this, I want more tools, more experiences, that help dissolve the boundaries between Poseidon and I. Everything must serve that, or its attraction dulls, fades.
I’m holding thoughts in my head that make me cranky (re: cleanliness) because I’m told to. I want to take distancing action because of that, but I don’t, because reacting out of feelings isn’t something I’m generally encouraged to do. I can’t explore what I don’t know I don’t know if I only stick to what I know I know. The standards of purity that are for some in some groups, will not be mine, but maybe refinement is some areas, in some approaches, might be a something. I need to be extremely mindful to disengage any value-judgments connotations to the word purity that I think we find in our culture, in our language, that might not be intended. I need to remind myself to not understand it as a denouncing of physicality (even if it is, because for me it is not) and more about ease, pleasantness. Water runs clearer and stronger through channels that are not blocked, and maybe I need to look at it as a way to make the physical into a sort of aquifer, rather than as a way to drive home our unworth.