I Am a Vaguely Spiritual Guy and This Is My TED Talk

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Hello. Greetings. Namaste. I am a vaguely spiritual guy, and this is my TED talk. I’m so glad to be here. With you. My goal today is simple: to entertain you for about 18 minutes with the fantasy that you and I are both people who understand profound secrets about life and the universe.

Don’t worry: I’m not some in-your-face religious guy who makes people angry or uncomfortable. Nor am I a philosopher who argues about metaphysics. I’m not a scientist who does research about the brain. I’m so far from those, friends. Listening to me requires none of that scary intellectual labor. Are you with me? I promise that my message today has been vetted as 100% calming and non-threatening, like an IMAX film about dolphins.

When I speak, I hold both hands out, palms upturned, not so far apart to appear messianic, but not so close to appear that I am giving a narrow-minded business presentation.

You may notice my white satin Tai Chi uniform with dragon Yin Yang embroidery that I purchased from KungFuDirect.net. I wear this to look quasi-mystical and vaguely “Eastern,” even though I’m a middle-class white guy from Boulder, Colorado. I cap this image-crafting off with a picture of me standing near His Holiness The Dali Lama. Nice, huh?

To connect with you, I will now tell an emotional personal story. Once when I was a boy, I saw a destitute man try to go into a church on a cold night. But the doors were locked, for it was a night when this church was closed: Tuesday. This concludes my poignant story. In case you missed my vague point, allow me to patronize you: human belief systems, or physical barriers, that exclude people are sometimes bad.

My unique path led me to create my Temple of Vague Spirituality. The Temple is truly special: a place rife with acceptance, meditation, and oolong tea but sparse with precise and well-motivated claims about reality. My temple resides in the vaguely-exotic location of “Near Santa Fe.” In creating it, I lifted superficially-appealing aspects of Unitarianism, Zen Buddhism, and Echart Tolle’s A New Earth, and spun them into truisms like, “no one person can claim a monopoly on truth” and “we should seek to be tolerant.” Who could argue with that, right?

My team of corporate branding experts has deemed The Temple of Vague Spirituality to be maximally inoffensive to all sentient beings. But enough about me. After all, the self is an illusion!

And now, I pose a question. What is happiness? Sha-boom. I have asked it. Now I pause, for effect.

I ask this question because asking a big question then pausing dramatically signals deepness. I have no good answers for you, by the way. What I do have are my Five Tenets of Being A Vague Spiritual Guy, which I will share now. With you.

1. We should place the words “holistic” or “sustainable” before at least 50% of all nouns.

2. When in doubt, do yoga.

3. All things must coexist. Science with the supernatural. Intuition with reason. Child endangerment with fishing boats. It all must coexist.

4. A life force surrounds us! No, it is not God. That could be offensive to some, especially if that god is the vengeful Abrahamic God who tells us to stone the gays and misbehaving women.

5. This life force has another name: collective intuition. I got that by taking two vaguely spiritual words, “collective” and “intuition” and putting them next to each other.

Are you feeling good? I’m feeling great. Hopefully, you didn’t burn too many calories in that noggin’ of yours during this TED talk. I want to close with a quotation from a bumper sticker that I sell on my spiritual guy website: “We are all people existing in some place at some time. Together, we are one, especially if you put us close together and squint from afar.”

Now please buy my book.


Photo by Troy Ozuna on Unsplash

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Written by

Alex Baia is a humor writer and contributor to McSweeney’s and Slackjaw. He lives in Austin, TX.