Life on Triton

Half Moon BayIn Greek mythology, Triton is the son of Poseidon, and messenger of the sea. Having lived most of my life in California, mostly near Santa Cruz, the sea has always been a powerful symbol in my life and an endless source of mystery and wonder. Triton is also the largest satellite of Neptune, and has the dual distinction of being both the coldest body in the solar system and volcanically active.

I chose this name for a number of reasons. First of all, Triton is one of the most interesting bodies in the solar system: cold and remote, yet geologically active, a perfect symbol of paradox. It is also a reminder that we can find beauty in the most unexpected places. Finally, it reminds us that what reason suggests should be dull and uninteresting (a small satellite of the outermost planet of the solar system) can still bring surprises.

Religion and spirituality is a huge topic, so an obvious question is: what does it even mean to say that this is a blog devoted to those two topics? For that matter, aren’t religion and spirituality two very different things? Well, yes, of course. From one point of view, religion is all about social structures and institutions, whereas spirituality is personal. These two aspects of, what for lack of a better word, I’ll call religious life are generally both present, even if we don’t want them to be. Christianity has its contemplative tradition, and Zen Buddhism (to take one example) is rife with ritual and religious overtones. Of course, this list could easily be extended, for example comparing the central role of community worship in Judaism with the highly personal nature of prayer. Of course, different religious traditions have evolved their own mystical traditions (as they are called). In Judaism, there is the Hasidic movement, and in Islam the Sufi movement. In Christianity, the landscape is complex and it is difficult to point to just one movement and say that is the counterpart to Hasidic Judaism or the Sufi movement. But we find everything from charismatic Christianity to newly democratized forms of contemplative Christianity such as centering prayer and Christian contemplation.

Look beneath the surface a bit and you see that these various macroscopic movements play out on a large scale the tension that is present in the life of individual seekers, practitioners or believers, and that is really what this blog is about. It is not limited in scope to any one tradition (say Christianity or Buddhism), but tries to explore the theme of spirituality in a way that will be meaningful to all of us. In fact, it is probably fair to say that it really started as an attempt to make sense of my own experience. As a result, much of the emphasis is on Buddhism, Christianity and Judaism, but I hope to include other traditions, as well.

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