It is becoming apparent that we live in a kairos of interspirituality. No longer satisfied with the strictures of formal religion tied to one vision of truth, many people the world over are exploring spirituality from a variety of sources. As social surveys tell us ... that formal religious affiliation is on the wane in Western nations, the human thirst for spiritual reality continues unabated.
The Path of a Siddhi is a creative and important poetic exploration of interspirituality. Wilfredo Baez takes us on a journey into his soul, and because it is an honest account, it is at the same time a journey into the reader’s soul.
Scholars of religion have told us for some time that true religion is always mystical. In 1909, Quaker scholar Rufus M. Jones published his, at the time groundbreaking, Studies in Mystical Religion. He said, “I use the word mysticism to express the type of religion which puts the emphasis on immediate awareness of relationship with God … It is religion in its most acute, intense, and living stage.” Only a few years earlier (1902), psychologist William James published his Varieties of Religious Experience. He said, “The plain truth is that to interpret religion one must in the end look at the immediate content of the religious consciousness.” For James religion is about the feelings, acts, and experiences of individual people in their solitude. It is the way people find themselves in relation to whatever they consider the divine. In the mid-twentieth century, W.R. Inge in his Mysticism in Religion, and Aldous Huxley in his The Perennial Philosophy: An Interpretation of the Great Mystics, East and West both helped us see that to a remarkable extent there is a harmony among all mystics of all countries and all religions.
The Path of a Siddhi is one person’s fulfillment of this interspiritual quest. Here are the experiences of the inner life, cosmic in their scope, yet deeply personal. Yet, here is no Cartesian dualism with its elevation of the spirit/mind and its deprecation of the body. In The Path of a Siddhi we find a love of the spirit and a love of the body. Indeed, many of its poems are sensual, luxuriating in embodied experience.
There is here, too, a relentless inner searching. No easy solutions are offered, and there is no trace of sentimental religiosity that offers little real comfort. The poems are authentic. You will find personal anguish, confusion, and great joy. The poems speak of illness, of pain, and of ecstasy.
There is rich variety in the poems. Some are winsome and evocative: Charlie; some playful: Simplicity Wisdom; others are thoughtful: The Rich Man; and not a few provocative: Handguns and I Am not an Addict. There is vulnerability as in The Abuse, and a number of poems lead the reader to explore the divine feminine.
The reader with eyes to see will find hidden here a deep theology:
“Where is sin? I wonder. Gone
It is life’s illusion
In the absence of love
And so does not really exist,
Though creating suffering.”
There is much to ponder, much to return to.
Wilfredo Baez is a wordsmith, and some of his phrases have the flavor of a koan: “Love is something/nothing that I am.” He tells us “I’ve mastered mediocrity!” Yet there is little mediocrity here!
I am grateful that Wifredo Baez has found the courage to live a truly spiritual life and to share it with us all.
The Rt. Rev. Andrew Fitz-Gibbon, LC, PhD
The Lindisfarne Community, January 2015.
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