12 February 2006

Hey! You Got Your Hindu In My Shamanism!


Had an excellent day trip on Saturday. Went out to Whidbey Island, a long hunk of land floating in the Puget Sound just northwest of Seattle. It's populated by a strange mix of military families, stinky hippies, horsefawkers and the psuedo-wealthy. Yes, I know that's a completely judgmental and pejorative statement. I'm working on it. Or "breathing through it", as Buddhists say.

I went out there to check out a place called Earth Sanctuary. It's a sort of retreat center-slash-wildlife conserve-slash-meditation park-slash-religion blender. I met the guy who is the head silviculturalist, Dr. Dean Rae Berg, in the Tucson airport after I went to see the Dalai Lama last summer. He's a hardcore (soft core? empty core?) Mahayana Buddhist, and a real friendly guy to boot, and gave me the funky lowdown on the place. So naturally, when I got back to Seattle, I dialed it up on the InterWeb and promised myself I'd make it there someday. So on Saturday, I did just that.

Before I go sputtering on with my usual diatribe about how New Agey-ism, the world's first soft-serve religion, has diluted and shown disrespect to almost every world culture by attempting to take all the most entertaining bits of each and upsell them to the weird and the bored, let me first say this: the place has a really good "feel" to it. And I'm not being all woo-woo or anything. As biliously judgmental as I'd like to be about how putting a statue of Chenrezig inside a dolmen makes about as much sense philosophically as putting an Easter Bunny inside a butsudan... (Yeah, they did.) And "Tibet Tech" Prayer Wheels? I don't mean to be disrespectful or anything but what the shit are you thinking? If they believe the billlion-some prayers encoded on the DVDs inside these things (Yes! Really!) are going to get cross-universal airplay just by giving the wheel a whirl, they have WOEFULLY misunderstood digital technology.

Well, crap. I had a really great time, so tell me to shup up. It's an incredible place. I think there probably oughtta be a place like this that's dedicated to nature, prayer and meditation in the center of every city in America. If I had a beezillion dollars, that's exactly what I'd do. I'd make places like this as ubiquitous as Gideon Bibles.

Best part? No squirrels kicking my ass, for one. Beyond that, it's difficult to describe. It's like one of those places that you remember from youth that tickled your sense of adventure and discovery, like Uncle Gerald's farm, for one, or that incredible peat bog in eastern Michigan. Places that sparked your wildness. Places that begged you to build a seekrit klubhouse in them. Maybe that's what Earth Sanctuary is. It's a seekrit klubhouse for grown-up boys and girls whose child-like wonder has chosen to express itself as religiophagy.

And for my next vacation getaway, I'll be doing a Lord of the Flies weekend on Guam.

Cheers, and give my best to Marie.


No comments: