YOU ARE PROBABLY reading this article, here on The Edge, rather than looking at cute pictures of kittens on Facebook or bad Lorde parodies on YouTube, because you feel a longing inside yourself for something deeper, more real, and more alive than the familiar. The trouble with this kind of longing is that it is more of a gnawing feeling deep inside you than a neat spelled-out formula. That longing is probably something that your mind cannot understand, even if it is at the same time something that your heart cannot forget.
So what do you do, when you are completely taken over with lovesick yearning, but you cannot remember the name or email address of your true beloved?
You look for guidance from those who seem to know.
In this spirit of innocently looking for sage advice from the seasoned and the wise, many of us have turned to ancient traditions from Tibet or India or, in fact anywhere exotic and different. Anywhere as far away from New Jersey as we can find. There, that fella over there, with the very long white beard, the sandals and the thick Oriental accent, he is definitely not a member of my parents’ golf club. He probably has the scoop on libration.
There is a catch, however. These days everything is different and shiny and new. We are hurtling through time and space, you and me, on a high speed train called evolution. And it has never been going faster than it is today. Yesterday’s rulebooks, and tried-and-tested formulas, are already out of date, and we are pioneers in untrodden territory. Now, and now, and now.
Here are seven important ways how spirituality today requires a total reboot and a fresh start:
- Only a few years ago we were, most of us, seeking for peak experiences. Today that is “Oh so ’90s.” Most people interested in spiritual life today are more interested in embodiment than fleeting highs, more interested in living it in daily life than tasting it. That requires a whole new set of tools and understanding.
- The idea of enlightenment as a point of arrival has, in the last years, come under a great deal of scrutiny. Pioneers like Ken Wilber have pointed out that we evolve along multiple “lines of development,” so there can never be a final state of arrival. Sure, you might have the meditation piece down pat. Congratulations. Now, how is your marriage? Are your teens blown away with your presence as a parent?
- The vast majority of spiritual and religious traditions were created by men, for men. So when we think we know so much about spiritual awakening and practice, we actually only know about the masculine expression of these things. Today, we are seeing the emergence of a balanced spirituality.
- Many traditions have used expansive states as a bypass for ordinary human values, like telling the truth, keeping your word, or being open to conflicting points of view. Today most of us don’t buy that any more. We are interested in being whole and healthy, as much as being transcendental.
- Today, most of us realize that we are here in bodies to participate, to contribute, to make a difference. We are less interested in retreat from life than in giving the gift we were born to give with exuberant generosity, leaving nothing held back for later.
- Even a few decades ago, we were much more willing to participate in hierarchical (and patriarchal) organizations. We sat at the feet of gurus on raised podiums, who were delivered in fancy cars. Today, particularly for the younger generations, we find our wisdom in friendship and community.
- Time is of the essence. We are interested today to get to the heart of things. We have lost interest in the finer points of dogma and ritual. We yearn for an embodied awakening that we can feel in the gut.
Once we see that the game has changed, radically and irreversibly, we are ready to explore in new ways, to become discoverers more than followers. It is a great time to be alive on planet Earth.