We Danes are famous for never having had a strong government or really big, famous people because whenever someone got too big, everybody started to laugh at them. That big broad laughter flattens everything, and most talented people had to leave the country at some point. I’m not talking about myself, I like to be in Denmark…
At some point, I decided completely unceremoniously that there are two forms of spirituality. There are people who can handle their lives, who deal with what needs to be done, and everything runs pretty much as it should. At some point, they discover that working in a margarine factory for 40 years, going off into retirement with a nice speech, and then getting buried 10 years later with an even nicer speech—this can’t be everything that a human life has to offer. And then, on the basis of a practical life, they start to develop deeper abilities and qualities. What these people experience—people who have their lives together, who stand there strong, who have nothing to prove or excuse—you can trust that. You can believe what these people say.
Then there is the other kind of “spiritual” people. Whenever they have to meet a challenge, they pull their heads in and don’t get anything done. They can’t manage it; they can’t do it; they don’t have the courage or stamina. And then they retreat from the world and create their own sweet little universe that no one else can really examine. I have no trust at all in what they experience.
I really look at what people accomplish, how they hold themselves, and whether one can count on them. If I think that they respect themselves, do as they say, and are above playing childish games, then I trust what they say.
But if people run away from the challenges of the world, I stay away from them. If people are too holy and without self-irony, unable to laugh at themselves and somehow unclear and sweet; if things are not fully understood and not clearly expressed, then all my hair stands on end and I think, “Get out of there!” because I consider it unhealthy.