Pondering on Teal Scott (and rambling on my own spiritual journey)

I gotta say it, I’ve watched a number of her teaching videos over time and feel plenty contain nuggets interesting enough to be worth storing in my playlists. Why? Because human psychology in the broadest sense is fascinating, and I enjoy playing with all sorts of information and ideas. Doesn’t mean I agree with all or even half of what someone has to say even if they can at least offer up useful nuggets or metaphors I personally find useful and can carry forward (for however long, some obviously wind up abandoned along the way).

However, I’m actually not much of a “new-agey” type, don’t get into crystals and herbs and never owned a pair of Birkenstocks. As a teen, for a year or so I dabbled a little with Wicca and astrology (and how many didn’t in the ’90s? lol), but then again back after I lost my religion (at approx. 14) I went in search of tidbits from all kinds of religions and belief systems over the next few years, until finally settling on just calling myself an agnostic and checking out on spiritual inquiries for nearly a decade. Turned my attention to politics instead and identified as a libertarian since before I was eligible to vote.

But I came up with my Grandma’s take on Christianity, which was highly spiritual and didn’t contain all that much of the fire and brimstone teachings churches down South are known for. I was steeped mostly in what she had to say and read to me, and her main focus is that Jesus loves us all, that we are all God’s children. And though I abandoned all religions, that belief remains in my heart. Nowadays I’d spell it out a little differently, but that’s irrelevant since no religious teachings can be anything other than metaphors. Such is the nature of trying to describe the indescribable — our languages and imaginations are too feeble and limited for the task, though scientific inquiries have introduced us to new ways of approaching this age-old question of what exists beyond life as we directly experience it.

(For the record, in case it matters, my Grandma is a lifelong tee-totaling Republican and Methodist, about as far as one can get from being a liberal hippie.)

A person’s personal beliefs are their own and are completely incapable of being shown in-full to others. No matter how one attempts to explain it, we just can’t know from inside one another’s minds. Words conjure up different memories and ideas, each one of us possesses unique fusions of thoughts and feelings based on how we personally have engaged with the world and what we’ve been exposed to. Plus people’s imaginations differ widely.

About a decade ago I went to dabbling with atheism and trying that on for size, but it felt too restrictive. Too much was being commonly declared as fact when really it’s beyond us knowing for certain. Too many dismiss those they think are too “mystical” or “spiritual,” even when it’s just a by-product of being imaginative and open-minded to possibilities. Because one is open to ideas doesn’t mean one is quick to believe or embrace them. I remain very skeptical with everything that comes my way, including my own assumptions which periodically deserve to be reexamined. But what I can’t stand is others professing so much certainty where it’s unfounded. Life is bigger than we comprehend, that I do believe is true, so there’s no need to snap at people to toe some line decided by a dogmatic infatuation with what some deem to be properly scientific. Such limitations do nothing for me.

Since about age 15 (I’m 32 now) I’ve identified simply as an agnostic, and that’s the label I’ve always chosen to stick with despite learning about others’ ideas and beliefs. To me, agnosticism represents an open sandbox where grains might be moved off to the periphery, but they aren’t tossed out completely. They may be ignored and assumed wrong for years with no end in sight, or they may just currently have no sound evidence to support them, either way, they aren’t removed from the sandbox, just relocated to the nether regions. (The theoretical Flying Spaghetti Monster god is lodged in a crack somewhere, in the back of my mind. Talk of alien abductions and UFOs and “reptilian humanoids” can be found somewhere nearby.) I rather like maintaining a bit of a “sci-fi” imagination, so why throw any conceivable possibility completely out? That’s my logic on that.

Anyway, about 5 or 6 years ago I had a negative life experience, and coming out of that my mind began roaming over these possibilities once again, and this time around the internet was further developed to aid in my pondering in this department. It’s amazing how awesome this technology really is. It’s opening up a whole world of ideas and information to hash through. I came out of that experience wanting to know more about my government and military and the global economy, yet my heart was also changing throughout that learning process. Just got to feeling more “spiritual,” I guess, if that’s the word we want to use. Maybe it stemmed out of realizing just how interdependent we’ve all become today (though we’ve always been, now there’s a lot more of us and growing globally connected) and how utterly dependent we’ve become on the grids we call home in Western nations. Maybe it has to do with repeatedly reflecting on teachings about Papau New Guineans I picked up in a Cultural Anthropology class that I damn-near failed during my sophomore year (believe that was more of an attendance issue there) — just managed to color my worldview a bit by making me more conscious of indigenous peoples and sparking me to look into how they survived in the not-so-distant past. Maybe it’s partly due to watching money being idolized and people turning to groups and ideologies to fill the void left by defunct religions. And very likely it also has to do with taking in what I’m able about the complexities and paradoxes scientific exploration is unveiling. I’ll go with all of the above and more.

I still poke my head around from time to time in atheist circles, just to see what’s new, and it turns out not much other than increasingly rolling toward becoming a sort of scientific-based form of religion. Religion 2.0 that doesn’t feel like religion because there is no one clear deity, though scientists are commonly looked upon as if they’re the new prophets, and its scriptures consist of scientific Laws and data. It was bound to happen, though I can’t say I’m too thrilled about this transformation. And I already know most who call themselves atheists would likely disagree with me. Hopefully not all are willing to toe that weird new line, because it’s exploration-staunching in its own way, though currently nowhere near the extreme experienced under the major religions. But the battle atheists wage with theists in itself winds up setting up a false dichotomy where people are led to believe you must choose one “camp” or the other, ignoring the outfield plenty do reside in.

What does this have to do with Teal Scott? Not a whole hell of a lot, just laying out a bit of who I am before saying much else, lest I be assumed to be a granola-munching hippie with my brain falling out all over the place. I unabashedly cherry-pick when it comes to exploring how to navigate in this life. When I first came across Teal’s videos, some of her messages seemed rather interesting, but others left me perplexed. When I watched an interview and heard her talk about her childhood trauma growing up sexually abused by some sort of weird cult out in Utah, my bullshit detector went off. So I went in search of more information and found an article in the Herald Journal News about her from March 2011. She then replied to that article in April 2011, and I replied to it in April 2013 with my own questions. Couldn’t find much else on the woman. It appears her claims of modeling and becoming an athlete may very well be completely concocted because there’s no evidence to corroborate those stories either.

Then this past week I came across a few new interviews involving or pertaining to her. And here’s the one I liked best:

Hmmm. What can be said about her now? A guyfriend of mine and I discuss her occasionally since he used to tune into her videos, and I’m of the feeling that she’s into chicanery, straight away. Not that that’s intended as a harsh judgment necessarily, just pointing at a feeling I’ve had for a while now. What I mean by that is I’m not convinced even she’s convinced of some of what she says is true. Personally, when it comes to her childhood I won’t claim to know what happened to her, though I assume something has impacted her in a major way, to the point where the label schizophrenic springs to mind. Was she already a free spirit prior to any abuse she might have endured? Probably. But when she goes into talking about her coming into existence and her life, her stories are unbelievable. For all of the abuse to have been true, I’d expect her to be far more messed up than she’s showing herself to be at this point (she’s now age 29). Is it intended as an elaborate ruse? Is it an attempt to cover up whatever really did happen to her? I have no flippin’ idea. I just can’t accept her stories and claims. Some are so outlandish as to be totally absurd. Maybe we’ll have to blame my monkey brain for this one, and so be it.

But ah well, we can still pick up useful tidbits from crazy folks. In fact, I’m convinced we’re all a little (or a lot) crazy ourselves, she’s just taken it to a different level in the view of most folks. And that’s fine. If it’s her truth, then whatever. If people wish to throw money at her, I suppose that’s their business. They’d probably send it in to a televangelist otherwise. Maybe she has her reasons for claiming what she does, I don’t know or rightly care. It’s somewhat interesting, but I’ve dealt with enough “celebrity” gossip to suit me for one lifetime. And in the end I suppose it doesn’t really matter. No reason to get upset about someone putting out what they claim to believe when it doesn’t really have much of an effect on the rest of us.

As with so much in life, it’s best to look past the messenger when assessing the message. Even if I can’t subscribe to so much of what she claims, she still offers an interesting perspective at times.

[Lightly edited for typos and greater clarity 03/23/2015]

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