My unconventional spiritual journey started with Zen Buddhism. I was fascinated by the ascetic nature of Zen monks and the concept of enlightenment. I practiced Zen meditation for a few years, learning to bring my mind to a complete standstill, which aided in other forms of meditation later on. There were a few key takeaways I had from my practice of Zen:
Challenge all assumptions you make about everything.
Radical acceptance about that which is.
I became fascinated with Lao Tzu and The Way. I realized very quickly that the concept of wu-wei ("not-doing", or the "path of least resistance") very much resonated with lessons I'd learned from Zen. Let nature run it's course and allow natural alignment to take precedence.
Take the path of least resistance.
Allow nature to run its course.
Align yourself and your actions with the invisible trends, currents, and forces of nature.
I'd always been fascinated by the Japanese culture, and in particular, their keen desire for precision and aesthetics as seen in Japanese carpentry and pottery. After studying Japanese culture broadly, I discovered that Shinto had a profound impact underpinning many aspects of Japanese culture which lead to their distinctive approach to life and aesthetics.
Kami - Kami has no good translation to English, but in general it means that which is divine, sublime, and awe-inspiring.
Wabi-sabi - Like kami, wabi-sabi is untranslatable to English, but it has a profound meaning that has to do with radical acceptance of the passage of time, the transient nature of all things, imperfection and decay.
Ichi-go ichi-e - Unlike the other two terms, ichi-go ichi-e translates rather well to "One time, one meeting". This is a principle that acknowledges the ephemeral moment and transient experiences of life.
Many shamanic traditions persist to this day, mostly from the Global South and other indigenous communities. Shamanic rituals and experiences create unique, transcendent experiences that turn our understanding of self, time, and reality inside out. There's nothing like having your notion of reality shattered and put back together to make you question what's what.
Immediacy of the present.
Primary consciousness versus secondary consciousness.
Confronting mortality, oblivion, and death.
It's difficult to fully disentangle a Western upbringing from our Hellenistic roots. Allegorical gods, mythology, and rituals such as the Eleusinian Mysteries and Dionysian Cults provide incredible cultural context about embracing life to the fullest.
Raw experience of life.
Intense collective experiences.
Rigorous intellectual discourse.