Last week sassy cheerleader for universal Oneness, Margaret Nichols, got in touch with me about wanting to write an article for Not New York based on her experience at last night’s NYC satsang with nondualist extraordinaire Adyashanti. I told her that generally I stay away from recap pieces, as they tend to be slightly “after the fact,” but said that if she could get a question in specifically about New York City and manage to steer Adyashanti away from any stock “calm in chaos” answers, I’d love to publish it.
Soon thereafter, Margaret forwarded me three questions she sent to Adyashanti in case she didn’t get to speak up during the satsang. Unfortunately he never responded. The questions were too good to loose, however, so rather than ditch them I decided to go with the next person in line to answer such poignant spiritual inquiries: my mom.
Now, my mom does not know who Adyashanti is, nor would she be able to pronounce his name if asked to do so. As you will see, she has no interest in religion, and finds “spiritual stuff” “scary.” She lives in New Jersey, has a pretty decent case of road rage, drops F- Bombs like they’re hotplates, is afraid to come to New York City, and cooks amazing meatballs and marinara sauce. Her favorite show on television is still, I believe, The Nanny with Fran Dresher. When she was fourteen, she used to drag race Mustangs in the backwoods of South Jersey.
Here is what this loving, caring suburban mother who locks her front door to keep out terrorists had to say about living the spiritual life in New York City. (Margaret’s original questions are underlined in bold):
1. I’ve heard spiritual teachers say they feel a deep “fear” present in the city, where other awakened people have told me it is a most exciting place to visit because of all the contrast and movement. What is your sense of how the city filters through your experience?
New York City? What is this about? I don’t know. There are safe spots and not safe spots no matter where you go.
What do you mean?
There are safe areas and not safe areas. What the fuck is this for? Next question.
Don’t put my name on this thing. You hear me?
I don’t want my name on it.
Call me “Alice Artichoke.” I don’t want anyone contacting me. You got that?
You got that, knucklehead?
2. Many Masters, yogis, advocate a withdrawal from society to aid serious spiritual study. Can you offer some words about awakening in urban environments and the digital age?
Like, do you need to go to a cave to be spiritual?
Do spiritual things and go to a cave? Or New York City? I’d rather go to New York City. I’m not going to no fucking cave.
Why wouldn’t you want to go to a cave?
I don’t like caves, Bobby. Ok? And I don’t need to go to NYC to be a spiritual person either. Just be a good person. That’s all that counts.
What don’t you like about caves?
I don’t like them. Dark and dreary.
Have you ever been to a cave?
You don’t want to go to one?
Why? Do you want to go to some stupid cave?
These are just the questions.
Well, I wouldn’t want to go.
I just wouldn’t. What else do you want to know?
3. What role do you think New York City will play for awakening to Americans on a collective level?
Awakening to Americans about what? Religion?
Do you think New York City can make you a good person?
It doesn’t matter. You just have to be a good person.
Is New York City a particularly good place?
Yeah. New York is good. What the fuck is this for?
Your website? For what?
I write about spiritual stuff in NYC.
You write about spiritual stuff in NYC?
What-everrrrrrrr. You’re into spiritual stuff now?
I’ve always been into that. You know I’m into that stuff.
Yeah. Like Buddhism. You’re not into spiritual stuff?
What about God?
I be a good person. That’s all that counts.
Where did you learn that?
From reality. It doesn’t make a difference whatever religion you are. Catholic, Jewish, whatever. Me? Be a good a person. That’s what counts.
That sounds good.
Yeah. You be a good person. What time are you coming for Easter, knucklehead?
Not sure yet.
Whenever. Just let me know.
Ok. I’m done.