Back From Exile: Reclaiming Spirituality As Our Birthright

This article is a guest post written by Chris Lemig.

For years I lived in a land of spiritual exile. It was a cold, dark place. In that land I was cut off from the very source of all life and nourishment.

I couldn’t breathe there and the gasping was only made worse by my misguided attempts to feed my starving soul with the dark magic of addiction.

I think this is not uncommon for Queer people. I look at the nightclubs, the all-night dance parties, the parades. Aren’t all these just Dionysian Masses, improvisational rituals and holy reveries that we play out for the old gods in the deep night?

There is nothing inherently wrong with this. After all, we are all starving for ritual. We are all hungry for the long-forgotten ecstasy that can only be found through contact with the divine. So we dress ourselves as gods and goddesses, dakas and dakinis, nymphs and dryads. We drink the sacred elixirs, chant the old words, pound our feet on the dust of the earth and hope for some kind of communion. But all too often the only ecstasy we find is the temporary release of orgasm, the only communion the echo from the darkness of oblivion.

How did we lose our way in the first place?

Were we forced into the desert simply because we were born “different”, because a few lines in a few dusty old books were misread and misinterpreted? Or were we so feared because the priests and heaven’s key holders knew that we were somehow naturally closer to the Divine and therefore a threat?

I suppose it doesn’t matter. No explanation changes the fact that we have been shunned, hated and cut off from our spiritual traditions for centuries. Even Buddhism, my path of choice and calling, sometimes softly breaks my heart with its prejudice and insensitivity. It’s no wonder that many of us accepted our exiled state and never looked back. “If they don’t want me, I don’t want them,” we said.

But I think that this attitude is, if not unwise, at least unnecessary. We don’t have to live in exile any more. I often have to remind myself that religion is made by human beings and is, therefore, fallible. It’s doctrines and dogmas are only in place because we put them there. These can be changed and even removed. It is up to us to question them, to be discerning, to be a part of the debate and the discussion. We can change what is wrong and keep what is good and right. This is not only our birthright, it is our responsibility.

Our longing for spiritual nourishment has deep roots that must be watered if we truly wish to be whole and complete. This longing has only been temporarily eclipsed by the false messages that there was something wrong with us, that we were unworthy, that our “brokenness” precluded us from experiencing what most other human beings take as their birthright: the pursuit and expression of a deep and fulfilling spiritual life.

You can reclaim your birthright. Today is a good day to do this. Today more people are realizing that the old interpretations are lacking in truth and authenticity. The impulse to exclude is loosing its strength. People are slowly realizing that the true message of most of the world’s religions is one of love, compassion, inclusiveness and cooperation. This is a message that belongs to all of us. It is mine. It is yours.

So I want to tell you today: take back what is yours, not by force or with anger. Just take it back. Find your spiritual home again. Make yourself comfortable. It’s OK. It’s been your house all along.

This article was written by Chris Lemig. Chris spent twenty-three years of his life in the dark closet of addiction and self-hatred. After coming out as being gay in 2007, he discovered the teachings of the Buddha and never looked back. He is deeply concerned with issues relating to the mental and spiritual wellbeing of modern culture and is looking for ways to bring happiness and contentment back into our lives.

Chris currently lives in India where he is studying Tibetan language. He writes about coming out, sobriety and Buddhism on his blog

His Book, The Narrow Way is being published by Mantra Books in February 2013

ISBN: 978-1-78099-749-0, $19.95 / £11.99, paperback, 193pp

EISBN: 978-1-78099-748-3, $9.99 / £6.99, eBook