Sep 8, 2017
Cass Midgley converses with Kamaria Powell. Kamaria G. Powell was one of those individuals who never felt like one religion was right for her, so she filled her shopping cart of faith with whatever she liked from variety of religions and cultures. She expanded her own definition of what it means to be spiritual. Kamaria was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology at UMass Dartmouth and went on to receive her master’s degree in education at UMass Boston.
In her new book, "What The F#@k
Is Enlightenment?" Kamaria challenges readers to take their
spiritual identity into their own hands. By candidly illustrating
her own life experiences, flaws and all, she demonstrates how a
chaotic, mundane life can be transformed into a more purposeful and
dynamic one through the process of self-discovery and finding your
own unique spirituality. Do you have to meditate? No. Do you have
to pray? No. Rather than following a prescribed set of rules, she
encourages individuals to find what works for them, no matter how
unorthodox it may seem.
Unfortunately, Bob had to leave town suddenly the day we recorded this due for family bereavement. However, he listened to the interview and he and I discuss it and other things at the end.
We as a species are pussies. We're cowards, we're scaredycats. That's not a bad thing. It's just how we are, and the things we are afraid are a big deal and worthy of fear, so no condemnation here. We find ourselves here on this planet, entrusted to these parents, surrounded by these friends, co-students, co-workers, etc. We didn't ask for any this. We had no control over any of it. We have little control over anything, including ourselves and our circumstances. We're powerful creatures with no where to exert our power--the world, the weather, and whatnot DOES NOT CARE about us, it is unmoved by our most severe protests or tantrums. Hell, our best friends can't or won't change to please us or suit our desires, why would Father Time? We're all going to die. We humans are unique because we’re the only creatures that know that we will someday die and that our death can occur at any time, in a way that we cannot control. We are animals — breathing pieces of defecating meat — no more significant than lizards or potatoes. Fuck! That's a horrible existence! Let's admit it--this life is a fucking disaster. And we're all in the same boat, no one got to choose their body, their life, their zip code. no one is better or more powerful than anyone else, except in ways that we've constructed to differentiate ourselves from others--competitions, castes systems, economies, identifiers like skin color, religion, gender, interests, hobbies, etc. We come right out of the womb with judgemental contact lenses on our eyes that teach us to say over and over again our entire lives, "This is not okay," "there has to be more than this," "I deserve better," "I matter, goddamnit!" and we do matter. But we would do well to figure out exactly how much we matter and align ourselves with that truth. And the truth is...not that much. We matter to the people we're sharing life with, but they're going to die around the same era we die, so we really don't matter that much in the big scheme of things. So how should we respond to the reality that life's a bitch and then you die? Can't we muster a little spite? a little orneryness? a little rebel that kicks life in the dick and says, "oh yeah, you want to ignore me? you want to make me miserable? well I have a different idea...how about I have fun anyway? How about I laugh at this whole circumstance and find something interesting within it and do that?
We have a giant imagination but we waste it fantasizing how the world should be, how our lover should be, how long this stop light should be, how smart the bank teller should be, how rare our steak should be, how fast the car in front of us should be going, how good this movie should be, how our children should behave, none of which we have any control over. Let's use our powerful imagination to figure out ways to say yes to what is
Yes-saying can be an arduous
concept to ingest. I've said it virtually every week on this show
for 3 years. That's over 150 times, and some of you have started to
get it, hell, I'm still trying to get it. Some of you think it's
nonsense, or it's only afforded to me because of all my privileges,
being a white, straight, non-handicapped, handsome male in America.
But please be slow to reject it based what you think you know of
it. It mostly applies to the big picture perspective of
life/reality. It acknowledges two things:
1) Life is hard
2) It only gets harder when you wish it were different, deny it, and/or say "no" to it. No saying holds onto a belief that perfection exists. Or that flaws are bad. It places judgments of good or evil on that which is unresponsive to judgment.
Conversely, Yes-saying is wanting to operate from as many true assumptions as possible, and the least amount of untruths as possible. It is a difficult work--a life's work in fact--discovering how and when one’s life and values are shaped by lies and delusions. Yes-saying is the slow and steady removal of blind-spots (not knowing what you don’t know nor that you don’t know it). It is infused with the concept of art—which is above right or wrong proclamations. We don’t get to evaluate the Big Bang, or hold up an Olympic score card to the random absurdity of the life that is unfolding before us. It just is, and the only world I want to engage with is this one, the real one. I want to stop wishing it was something different than what it is. I want to join the human race and align with reality. I don't have to like it or agree with it, and in those cases I'll add a word to yes-saying. Yes AND. For example, if I wake up with a headache or I have to go to a job that I don't like, or my friends aren't calling me as much as I want them to, or my car is a piece of shit...I don't give in to no-saying by stomping my feet, crossing my arms and crying like a two-year-old, "no" or "this is not okay." I start with Yes. I acknowledge that it is happening and that I'm powerless to wish it away. It's not budging. It cares nothing about how I feel about it. I'm powerless to change it, so I start with YES. And then I say "AND." Yes I have a headache AND I'm going to take a pain-killer. Yes, I hate my job, AND I'm going anyway AND I'll find ways to make it fun. Yes, I'm going to die someday, AND I'm not going to forfeit what little power I do have to make some needed changes to enhance my experience while I'm here. Yes-saying is pretty much the serenity prayer penned by Reinhold Niebuhr, just without God (and a little Nietzsche added in there) :
I'm going to exercise the
serenity to say YES to the things I cannot change;
I'm going to exercise courage to
change the things I can;
and I'm going to have the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking this fucked up world as it is, not as I wish it was; trusting that that which doesn't kill me will make me stronger; that I may be reasonably happy in this life. Amen
Given the absolute unfairness of life and the fact that no God is looking out for any of us, a reasonably happy life is about the best anyone could hope for. So grow up, buckle up, life is hard and it only gets harder the more you deny it, reject it, or wish it was something other than what it is.
The conversation with Kamaria Powell on August 19th, 2017. We interview people you don’t know, about a subject no one wants to talk about. We hope to encourage people in the process of deconstructing their faith and help curb the loneliness that accompanies it. We think the world is a better place when more people live by sight, not by faith. Please subscribe to our podcast, and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. Our show is available on most podcast platforms. Also, you can support us monetarily in two easy ways: you can pledge one dollar per episode or more through Patreon; that’s www.patreon.com/eapodcast, or leave a lump-sum donation through PayPal at our website, www.everyonesagnostic.com. The smallest contribution is greatly appreciated.
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"Towering Mountain of Ignorance" intro by Hank Green https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3v3S82TuxU
Intro bumper "Never Know" by Jack Johnson
The segue music is on this episode is a rendition of Stevie Wonder's Higher Ground by Dave Weckl and Jay Oliver
Thanks for listening and be a yes-sayer to what is.