As any man or woman with life experience knows, life includes struggle, sometimes great. The fundamental goal is attainment of inner peace and the ability to fearlessly give and receive love. It's therefore a question of what logic and wisdom to apply.
Conventional wisdom has gotten us this far. Which is to say, broken systems. Education, politics, healthcare, food, economy, environment, business. Serious crises face us.
And there is no way to grow up in broken systems, with distorted ego logic, without absorbing the negative impacts in our own mind-body-spirit. It may be likened to an infection which spreads from parent-to-child, school-to-child, television-to-child, and child-to-child. And the challenge is not having references for anything different. Because the infection is just seen to be “normal”. As if a system that could produce the powerfully foolish leaders we have is healthy. And therefore normal is something worthwhile.
I see three primary possibilities: (1) we feel the discomfort and dissatisfaction and are doing something about it; (2) we are in denial about it and are numb, continuing to chase what we were told would bring happiness (many in this category are unaware of the seriousness of the crises); (3) we feel the discomfort and are secretly yearning inside but in some way or other inwardly feeling alone and not knowing what to do.
The excellent news is that there are eternal paths which have been passed to us from Global Wisdom Traditions. About a different kind of wisdom we can cultivate. A soul wisdom. A wisdom of character and actual human virtue. Many of these references have been lost in the hustle and bustle of modern life. But to know ourselves and be ourselves, to be authentic, and to access this which is inside us as Our Birthright as Humans, is a much deeper question than we generally allow for. It requires an expansion of perspective.
And we have only gotten away from that, relatively recently as it turns out. One researcher’s examination of “success” literature over time found that in the first 150 years of research the focus was on character—universal human values like integrity, courage, humility, justice, and kindness. In the subsequent 50 years, the focus of obtaining success had shifted to more surface level considerations connected with the personality. This success concerns itself with appearances. This is what we have chosen to consider worthwhile on a cultural basis. Shallowing like this comes with unfortunate side effects—unhappiness. The feeling that something is missing. And broken systems.
This is but one simple illustration. We won’t go further for now.
Success is an everyday feeling that relates to the satisfaction of living in alignment with us. I can only claim to be starting to learn this. But I can say with clarity symbols are symbolic, success can’t be created from the outside in. They surely come as a consequence in a measure of enoughness when we work from the inside out. The worldview itself, the story we live by, no longer serves us and this is much more malleable than we would think.
From everything I have studied around the world from the Amazon rainforest to meditation caves in the Himalayas and hallowed classrooms of the west and through spirited service and action, I have understood it is only spirituality and self-knowledge which can save us. Because spirituality isn’t something woo woo or esoteric, it’s the courage to be who we are. It’s the art and science of our own character. And it has little to do with beliefs, it’s about understanding what actually works—it is about connecting to reality.
—And of course we need to continue taking concrete action in the world. Because this enables us to activate a virtuous cycle in the relationship between individuals and society. Instead of the vicious cycle which currently exists.
But outward action in the absence of looking at our own infections will never take us where we actually want to go. Because we will lack the satisfaction that lies in realizing the character that lives inside us as a constant invitation from our own hearts. And we won’t create anything new in the world. In the absence of self-knowledge--which is an expansion of consciousness--all creation emerges from the same distorted logic. We would continue to unconsciously believe in scarcity and competition, deepening the mess and suffering.
Massive disparities and imbalances result from choosing lower principles in favor of higher ones.
The good news here is that as we continue to transform ourselves, the more we naturally express authentic giving from our own unique gifts and talents. We thereby contribute and do our part to activate the virtuous cycle.
And certainly there are expressions of “spirituality” which actually further denial. In this day and age, we live in an era in which exist misinformation and confusion about what actually furthers us. The simplest analogy I use is that our minds are gardens. If we aren’t weeding and pruning as well as the watering and nourishing—if it pretends that positive thinking alone without deep self-investigation into the roots can realize deeper fulfillment—the teaching has limitations in its practical applicability. And therapy alone is wonderful. But in the absence of connecting to something greater it also has its limitations.
One of the absolutely beautiful things which unites us is the knowing, the certainty we feel inside us, of our own dormant possibilities. We aren’t resigned to that being some distant thing while we get on with “real life”. And resign ourselves to quiet despair and feeling of disempowerment. It is ours for the asking. It just depends on how deep the willingness and readiness are.
I chased conventional wisdom. I went after the formula. It didn’t work. I am the same guy who got a JD/MBA and graduated valedictorian. I know the system from inside and know deeply its limitations.
I am cheering for us. I see plenty of challenges ahead. And I trust that Life is rigged in our favor and ultimately human spirit must, MUST triumph. It’s the time of greatest challenges that give us a chance to reveal our character. And that’s when we always pull through. Union will take more than our lifetimes to achieve. But we work for our children and they and us together will work for our grandchildren.
This is about our heroic journey as individuals and a race.
If you fall in the first category above, thank you. If you fall in the second category, I wish you all the best in achieving whatever it is you feel you need to achieve. If you fall in the third category, know that you are not alone. We are in this together. Send a message if you wish.
Samasthah Lokah Sukhino Bhavantu. May all beings in all places be happy.