London: In Hymns to an Unknown God, you ask: “Is it possible in this chaotic day and age to have a sense of the sacred in everyday life, or do we have to check our spirits and our god at the workplace door?” Much of what we call spirituality today takes place on Sundays, after work, when the kids are in bed, or when we’re off meditating on our own. Is it possible to make it an integral part of everyday life?
Keen: I think there is a deep yearning today to figure out how to make a real connection with the sacred. I hear many men say, “I have a good job and make a living, but it doesn’t mean anything to me; I want something with meaning, something I have a reason for doing.” But our society has been eaten up by the economic view of things, which routinely forces us to work at jobs that don’t mean anything. I think we’re inevitably going to be depressed when we focus the major part of our energy and attention on something that doesn’t give us meaning, only material things.
We have to return, I think, to the difficult idea of right livelihood, which Buddhists talk about, or the Christian idea of vocation. The first questions we must ask ourselves are “What’s my life about?” and “What gives me meaning?” Only after that should we ask “How do I make a living?” and “How do I provide for myself?”
Source : https://scott.london/interviews/keen.html
So afler almost a year and a half in India, what did you find there that you had not found in the West?
Allen Ginsberg: A more intimate awareness of the relation between people and God. Just the very notion of Ganesh with a noose in one hand and a rasgoolla in the other, and his trunk in the rasgoolla, riding a mouse…. Such an idea of a god, such a sophisticated, quixotic, paradoxical combination of the human and the divine, the metaphysical and the psychological! You don’t often get that in Christianity, except maybe in some esoteric Christianity. The idea of an entire culture suffused with respect for that mythology, that religion and its practices, that poor people could under- stand its sophistication and grant things that hard-headed West- erners are still trying to kill each other over. That was a revelation: how deeply the sense of a spiritual existence could penetrate everyday relations, the streets and street signs . . . Naga sadhus walking around naked—people who would have been arrested in America . . . or for that matter—I remember writing to Kerouac—everybody walking around in their underwear, in striped boxer shorts. What would seem outrageous or strange to Americans was just normal—it was hot and people wore very light cotton—it seemed so obvious. That showed me the absurd artificiality of some American customs. . . . And then just the notion of somebody being a businessman and then renouncing the world and being a sannyasi and going around with an intel- ligent expression looking for moksha, that was such a switch from the American notion of business, such a good model, but it doesn’t work for even Indians now. . . . A n d then the availability of ganja and its use in religious festivals and ceremonies was a great source of release for an American used to government dictatorship of all psychedelic drugs (even marijuana), to prohi- bitions, murders, beatings, corruption.8 At least in India there was some familiarity with what it was.