I challenged myself and started a journey.

To say I am not a religious person is a serious understatement. I was “raised” by a man who on any given day was an Atheist, a Buddhist or a follower of the religion of Rock n Roll (his words). Religion scares the hell out of me. I get terrible anxiety when I am in a church. I get angry and/or totally shut down when people try and talk to me about religion. Sometimes I look at religious people and think “Wow, they are really lucky; they have found a way to deal with/understand/cope with (insert whatever thing I happen to be struggling with at the time). They have a place to gather with like-minded seekers and connect on a level totally foreign to me. Other times I look at them and think – what a bunch of fucking lemmings.

That being said.

Sometimes I get curious. Sometimes I want to know if there is a place out there where I can go and find answers to my questions and I can stay for longer than 45 minutes and don’t have a $40 co-pay.


I’ve been researching where such a place might be. My semi-weekly, and highly respected, recipient of aforementioned co-pay has for many years recommended a place in the Palisades. I’ve looked at their site at least 50 times and have never summoned the courage to actually go. But – she has also been asking me to challenge myself. So, in the interest of getting my money’s worth I actually made a plan to go, and not only that, I went. Guy and I have been talking about getting active, getting outside and going hiking. So I thought – we can go get our preach on and then go talk about what we thought of it while hiking. We got up at 7AM, packed a picnic and went to get spiritual. (on Super Bowl Sunday even!)

If you want to stop reading now, the end result was kind of – meh.

We got there early (of course) and as we sat waiting for the sermon to begin I started to get anxious. Guy laughed at me. I pretended to be mad but was glad that he helped me realize I should just laugh at myself. That being in the presence of something spiritual was ok and not anything to be anxious about.

When we went into the temple I quickly had one answer to my search. I immediately understood that I have no interest AT ALL in worshipping one man as a God. I also am fine with chanting but I don’t want to speak to my Lord or say amen or ask someone’s heavenly father for anything. People were worshipping/idolizing/praying to the guru. No thanks. I’m sure he’s a lovely and gifted man who can bring guidance. But I will not treat him as anything more than a respected human. If I am going to bow to one man, I will bow to all men.

The service opened with a chant, which was very nice, thankfully we were sitting near people with excellent singing voices. Then there was a prayer. Oy. Then announcements (mmmm… no, I will not be going to the tea social), then some very nice lady talking about volunteering (I think). Then a brief meditation (that was nice, except Guy kept fidgeting and distracting me away from my 3rd eye). Then the sermon (more on that later). Then, umm, another chant? (Not quite as nice, but still ok). Then a weird pause where I wasn’t sure if people were going to leave because there was a lot of bustling. The bustling was everyone getting their donations ready for the prayer. Then the basket got passed. Then another prayer. And that was it.

The chants and the prayers just had too much God. God this, God that. God God God. (Marcia Marcia Marcia) I am just not sure who they mean when they said God. They seem pretty open minded and also tossed in a lot of “OMs” during the prayer and the chant – so is God whoever/ whatever I want God to be? Is God the man in the framed picture at the front of the temple who people have been bowing too? Is God the guy that helped us park?

I did really enjoy the meditation and the sermon though. The theme was “Happy at Will” (or Happy On Demand if you’re a tv addict). I really enjoyed hearing about how to not let other people’s negativity and bad moods affect me. I always seem to absorb the energy of the people around me. That’s always been a challenge for me. I will definitely take some of the teachings from today’s sermon and try to apply it in my life. It was all very obvious and nothing I had not heard before. It’s like a spiritual GPS. I know where I need to go, I just forget how to get there sometimes and I like having that voice remind of the path (and let me know if there will be traffic on the way).

In case you are curious, the 3 ways to Happy on Demand are 1) the mood thing, don't be a puppet to other people and let them influence you 2) give 3) meditate deeper today than you did yesterday - 3 will be easier if Guy is not sitting next to you. There was a lot more to it, obviously. But I am not your guru so I cannot tell you how to find Happiness At Will. You gotta get up at 7 and drive to the Palisades yourself.

If I ever go back again, and I probably will, I will definitely try to figure out who they mean by God before I go. And I will take singles because I think $5 is too much. And I will go to the 11am service, because apparently that’s when the famous people go.

I totally think it was worth it to go though. I challenged myself. Was able to cross one place off my list to look for answers and it got me to use the right side of my brain. Most Sundays I would be on the couch watching tv and thinking about how I should update my blog or do some “actual” writing. I was inspired enough to sit down IMMEDIATELY when I got home and write about my experience. So, for that I guess the $5 was worth it.

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