Today I’ll be teaching you how to pass yourself off as a spiritual person. Note that I didn’t say I’d lead you anywhere close to the geographic area of spirituality – that’s up to people behind the dais, wise men wearing turbans, bartenders and cabbies. What I’m going to do is show you how you can mystify and amaze others into wondering if maybe they’ve underestimated your ability to trip-the-go-into-the-light-fantastic. You may have no idea what happens to us when we die, or what God’s area code is, or what colors go best with Easter Sunday, but you’ll be able to at least hobnob with the gospel elite without looking like a heathen.
The first thing you have to do is get the look down. Under no circumstances should you ever act surprised in any way, shape or form. Spiritual people can have a piano fall from a twenty story window right next to them without blinking an eyelash. Why? Because they know that everything is in God’s hands, even if it slips out of His fingers from a twenty story window. If you’re in a conversation with someone about spirituality and they say “The universe sits on a turtle’s back,” you can shoot a knowing look at them that says “I knew that all along”. In my two hundred level class How to Speak Spiritually, you’ll be able to say to such a person with absolute confidence, “Yes, and I know that the turtle sits on another turtle’s back because it’s turtles all the way down”. For now, though, you have to learn how to look like you’re in the loop. This is how you make a ‘knowing look’: For starters, keep your mouth closed. Nothing screams idiot faster than a gaping mouth. If you have trouble with this you can always chew gum, but not while you’re trying to look spiritual. Secondly, as you’re listening to someone talk about something spiritual, keep one eyebrow raised. Watch Spock from Star Trek. He’s got the eyebrow thing down. This gives the impression that you are weighing their words with your other eyebrow, which is very, very spiritual. Finally, if the person you’re having a conversation with speaks more than five words, make sure you put your hand up to your face, lay your forefinger on your temple and let the others just hang there like they’re resting but at the same time poised to make a dramatic gesture. This combined with a raised eyebrow and closed mouth absolutely radiates spirituality. If you’re serious about making this your major, you’ll need to take How To Dress Spiritually which also incorporates the art of standing and walking spiritually. For now, though, you just need to look like you’ve been hanging out with Gandhi. I will give you a teaser about that class: sarong. If you didn’t catch the double entendre there, I’m sari.
Now, there’s going to come a time when someone asks you what religion you are. They are actually setting you up for an argument about religion. There’s nothing worse than religion if you’re trying to be spiritual, because if you allow yourself to be nailed down to one particular theology you’ll end up being God’s dartboard. The correct answer to such a question is “I’m not religious; I’m spiritual.” This send the message for them to back off because they’re dealing with a dyed-in-the-wool mystic who doesn’t mess around with trivial things like belief systems and good versus evil. Which leads us to the next phase of passing yourself off as being spiritual. Spiritual folks don’t subscribe to the whole “God and the Devil” motif. It’s all about positive and negative forces. If you really want to impress them and let them think you completely understand duality, there are a few catch-phrases you can let roll off your tongue. Feel free to memorize these, but whatever you do, don’t make things up. Unless you’re actually a bonafide spiritual guru, you’re liable to say something that proves you a fool. You can say “Everything comes full circle,” of if you know the person you’re speaking with has even less than a clue than you about the subject and you don’t want to lose them with too many heady words, you can say “What comes around goes around”. If you’re in a group of people, it’s always proper to use the words karma and causality. Just throw them around like snowballs in the winter. They’re liable to hit someone.
Overall, you can memorize a few terms that will keep you afloat in a conversation about spirituality, at least until you can excuse yourself and find something appropriate in my handout Spiritual Things to Say in a Pinch. My favorites are “Hmmm,” (use this with the entire compliment of facial cues I’ve already mentioned) “I couldn’t agree with you more,” (a fine saying that can have two meanings) “I see,” (straight and to the point, it tells the others that you’re not someone to be trifled with) and “Joseph Campbell had a lot to say about that”. While we’re on the subject of name-dropping, you can pass yourself off as a spiritual giant if you tell your audience that you were influenced by Moses, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, any other saint or prophet, Gandhi, Martin Luther King Junior, Billy Graham or Bono. I encourage you to get the crib notes highlighting the things these great spiritual beings have said so you don’t go down in conversational flames. Again, these are just a few suggestions. My other classes will get into greater detail.
If you look like you’re spiritual and act like you know a thing or two about such a deep and socially acceptable topic, you’ll be able to pass yourself off as an enigma. There’s nothing more spiritual than an enigma. Except a paradox. But that’s another subject entirely.