Without stopping to consider what your personal values want to contribute, quickly think of the definition of success. If you allow yourself the liberty of being completely honest, you probably conceived an image of some phase of material opulence. The US and associated WASP allies have developed the most opulent culture in the history of our earth, that we knew of, yet still there seems to be something missing. There seems to be a disconnect between what we have experienced, and what was “promised” by our collective cultural outlook. One has but to spend a few minutes watching “news” or having conversation to notice that there is a growing dissatisfaction amongst citizens of the opulence. Why is this so? What is the source of dissatisfaction? It is my proposition that the divergence of expectation and result lies in the incompleteness of the proposed model for “happiness” acquisition.
“Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” were the guarantees ensured to us by the men who conceived of life better lived. Obviously, the experience of the forefathers was one in which men did not have an opportunity to envision anything for their lives other than the legacy of their birthright. In response, they created a system in which each individual was “free” to do as they see fit in order to find happiness. However, at the other end of the “experiment” we find ourselves living in an environment where medicating depression and anxiety is a profitable industry. What went wrong? Why, when having all the opportunity in the world, have we come to a point where we have everything except the happiness we were pursuing?
The answer lies in the mono-dimensional view of life in which the volume of “material” equates to value of life. That being the case, one must ask if there truly is anything other than material acquisition that is “real”. If you find some level of doubt in your own mind, take solace in the knowledge that if you were raised in a WASP environment this is a product of indoctrination rather than a moral deficiency on your part. Now it is important to understand that “having” in and of itself is not a “bad” thing, but it is the single minded devotion to accumulation for the purposes “having” that have resulted in the modern conundrum. There are a million different rationalizations which leap into mind that indirectly support the idea of the morality of a devotion to acquisition IE: “I can give to charity with the excess that I have;” “I have a responsibility to my family to provide the best.” But realize that what is actually in play is the worldview that how you have lived will provide happiness, and the fear that results from a vacuum of alternatives other than poverty -which is not at all my proposed alternative.
It is easy to relinquish the fear, if you truly embrace the idea that there are alternatives to this goal of living, and they do not require living austere. In fact, devoid of preconceived notions, there are an infinite number of possibilities one could choose. The key to unlocking a new “reality” is to embrace the concepts inherent in “true” spirituality. To understand how this is so, one has to know what is meant by true spirituality. Within our culture, the first images to arise are usually of a Christian church, or to the more world oriented consciousness, images of a Tibetan monk or a New Age advocate. But in actuality, none of these systems are actually spirituality. They are instead, forms and symbols that help a mind trapped in a linear form of thinking break free of its constraints. This is not to diminish the importance of such systems to its practitioners, but rather provide a frame of reference to better understand what is truly happening within each system.
Within each system of religious understanding, there lies dormant an inherent ability for the practitioner to penetrate beyond the bounds of their own understanding, and touch something bigger. Whether that something bigger is actually outside of yourself, or if it is a previously unrecognized aspect of your own consciousness is irrelevant. What is most importance is the “leap of faith” that there is something to contact, and it matters little what you chose to believe it is, or what you call it. It has been the experience of quite a few devout spiritualists that once contact has been made, your life is forever altered. These accounts are laid bare as true by the historical impact of more than a few persona that have helped shape who we are today by the results of their lives. Socrates, Gahndi, and the legendary figure of Jesus are just a few names that still reverberates deeply within their respective culture. Now it is not my proposition that in order to find happiness, each of us has to become an “ascended master.” Rather, that in order to find happiness, one has to acknowledge that there is something greater than the contents of your “thinking” mind, or your mundane consciousness without an awareness of subconscious thought. And contact with that something provides a backdrop or relevance to the ordinary routine that you wake and experience each day.
It is not the intent of this article to discuss how one might go about establishing contact, but rather to create an awareness that this type of knowledge not only exist but is necessary for a fundamentally happy existence. In fact, it is strictly the opinion of the author that a deeply committed intent to establish contact will naturally result in that regardless of circumstance or path. It is rather, the intent to demonstrate that the ease of our fundamental discomfort with life as whole disappears once there is a frame of reference which provides relevance to our daily doings.
How this relates back to the culture in which most readers were reared, is in the absence of relevance that was presupposed to manifest itself at some undefined point in the future once “success” has been obtained. This is the primary, and perhaps the sole omission which makes the modern western culture worldview ultimately unsustainable if not addressed. The fact is each individual is indoctrinated with the idea that Responsibility multiplied by Work Ethic and Fiscal Responsibility, divided by Time yields Success. Or put another way, if you apply “values” that have a known quality of material acquisition you will obtain relevance to the otherwise miserable aspects of life (this assumes that all lives have some level of adversity to be a apriori). In the larger scheme of things, in western culture, Financial Success and personal relevance have been made the same. And while for a few this might actually be true, it is not universally applicable to all people. This means there is in fact a missing ingredient to success/relevance that has either been ignored or marginalized.
That missing ingredient, if by now, it has to be named is satisfaction at the fulfillment of your true purpose. Innate within all people are highly individualized talents and passions, that make that each person uniquely qualified for similarly specialized task or mission. If you are fortunate enough to be well off and self aware, than you have probably already discovered these things about yourself and your relationship with the world. However, if you are like 99% of people born into this world, you have had to focus on other things: Feeding yourself and your family, trying to conform to your cultural norms, trying to advance your position to increase your personal worth. It is an unfortunate fact that most of the time these activities have forced the individual to repress or otherwise ignore deep passions and emotive drives that seems to arise from out of the depths of your soul.
The schism which the title references is found in this very niche of existence. In western culture, which has come to dominate the world with aspects of its values, tells us that material acquisition alone will bring fulfillment. If it is not voiced directly, then it inferred strongly. Here are a few examples of what that sounds like: “Why would you get a degree in music? How will you MAKE A LIVING with that?;” “You really should stop playing at the hobby of yours, and focus on REAL LIFE.;” “Spirituality is nice, but you have to look after NUMBER ONE.”
We are bombarded with images of people who have been “responsible”, and now have every desire they can conjure at their disposal. We ingest volumes of social ridicule for anything that is not material acquisition, while seeing reprobate behavior “rewarded” generously. It is absolutely no wonder we would come to the conclusion that anything other than “bling” is just a distraction from “true” pursuits. In actuality it is the opposite that has more substance to its truth.
Why is the apparent schism then false? The communicated concept is as follows, if you do not adopt our cultural norms, there is no place for you in society. The image is of people who have turned their back on mainstream pursuits all work at head shops, or live in communes. However, the truth is there is a place for everyone (including at head shops and communes), and a society that recognizes that fact works better. Because of the complexity of any society, it stands to reason that no one individual has every talent, passion, or understanding necessary for every phase of living. If the macrocosmic view of the society is viewed as a composite of aggregates, each yielding their uniqueness to the collective whole, then the whole picture is turned upside down.
Our culture/economy has until now been defined as “pie” in which each individual attempts to secure your “piece”. Therefore the role of the economy has been grow bigger so each person can have more “pie”, with little regard to any objective or purpose other than that already addressed. How you get your “piece” is defined by what is growing the economy. As a young man, it was the mass production of memory chips for computers. Subsequently educated as an electronics engineer, I promptly went to work assisting the sector that produced it. That lasted until the economy then was grown by reducing cost by sending production overseas. First and foremost, my passion is not engineering in anyway shape or form. Second, the results of my efforts during that time period were disposed of on average 16 to 24 months after retail purchase. Lastly, the impact of the of the products I produced was to serve as a distraction for most individuals from the fact that their lives also lack relevance…our particular products were geared towards gaming..
Our culture reveres our economy as the ends in and of itself, but nothing could be further from the truth. An appropriate culture treats its economy as a composite of unique talents each lending their product or service to the collective whole for fair compensation, not as a monolith which defines what talents or passions are rewarded. The reasonable mind may fire back that demand drives the rarity of supply, thus determining which talents or passions are valuable. To respond, one must understand that demand is arbitrary, highly susceptible to influence (marketing……) and self perpetuating (trends).
The call is for each individual to establish contact with their spiritual self. This then defines what you are most apt to accomplish, and also suddenly influences -permanently, and without being susceptible to marketing- your personal desires. The best example of a culture which functions in this way are the Tibetans. Until the Chinese invasion – which is another example of an inappropriate method of determining culture relevance – the primary goal within the Tibetan culture was the spiritual awakening, and growth of each of its members. Contrary to imagined concepts of how a society like that would function, they did (or do) not sit around meditating on their navel while fields go fallow. Rather over the course of a few generations, they discovered that what emerged was a diverse culture made up of individuals joyfully fulfilling roles that mutually benefited all.*
Rather than believe that something similar to that is impossible where you live, remember that once upon a time in the US a man with dark skin could not eat with a man of light skin. The full impact of that statement alone should sufficiently impress upon you the power of an idea whose time has come. The only question that is left behind is the one that both inspires and intimidates? How would this be accomplished? If such a thing were possible, how would one go about making it happen? To quote from modern day aphorisms, “It is the power of one.” One molecule of water alone is not a very potent power; however, the first molecule to chart a new worthy course then paves the way for more. This results in a cascading effect that yields such marvels as the Grand Canyon. While this metaphor may imply an unimaginable amount of time, the direct corollary of Rosa Parks speaks to the contrary.
If you find yourself asking if the onerous task of changing our world for the better was just shifted onto the reader, then you are astute. It all leads back to the idea that each individual must reach out for themselves to establish spiritual contact within themselves. Once that has occurred, you must without hesitation, do with all of your vigor that which you are inclined to do. Know this though, in your transit from mundane to extraordinary, there will be “trouble”. There are those who will resist positive change in any form by whatever means they can conjure. Also know, you were born ready to handle any setback or obstacle that would stand in the way of your truth.
The last paragraph spoke of high minded superlatives that may seem to hold little to no relevance to “reality.” It is important to know that history is filled with happy endings that started as a laughable joke to the society of the day. Socrates was an “ugly” unsophisticated man who sat barefoot on the steps of his days congress asking questions. He willingly accepted hemlock rather than recant his views. Jesus of Nazareth was a lowly “bastard” son of a carpenter in a world dominated by an imperial power of pomp and circumstance. His message of love was met with an ugly form of execution, to which according to legend he responded with love and compassion.. Yet each of these individuals shaped all of human history. Once again, it is not my intention to imply that you will be forced to die for your believes. Not all of us are called to be martyrs. But instead know that a little adversity or setback is minor compared to the amazing results of a soul submitted to its heart. Know this; that when all is said and done, and you stare your mortality in the face during your final hours, it is not your bank account that you will honestly measure your life by. It will be a sum of the impact your have had on your world, and how true to your heart it has actually been.
In conclusion, it brings some level of solace to know that you are not alone. As was stated prior, “There is no stopping an idea whose time has come.” It is not enough to wait for someone else to do something, for if all perform that action of inertia, then the status quo will undoubtedly sustain. However, trust that you are not the only one compelled to do “something.” Remember that the outlook of a culture is defined by how many people look around, and say “oh, that’s what we believe now?” Also, it is the opinion of the author that each individual finds at their source a fundamental sameness. Stated more or less philosophically; the theories of Carl Jung’s collective unconsciousness point at a valid assumption that each actor reads lines written by the same author. When you walk out and state your “line”, you are fulfilling a role in a larger system that needed your direct contribution. Every persons “line” is imperative to the completeness of the whole.
To believe that there is a “director,” is not necessary. Perhaps each of us contributes to the source, as the source relates back to us. Regardless, one has to look at the evolution of thought and forms to see that there is a path to a greater cultural appreciation for the specialization of each of its constituents. Let us remember that it was less than two centuries ago WASP culture enslaved others, and less than four decades ago that we imprisoned our mentally disabled.
The author does not expect that the reader should take anything said at face value. Instead, take the parts you find offensive, and study them intently -for experiences teaches that fear and anger are the same coin. Take the parts that seem like high minded fantasy, and scientifically test for validity. More than anything else follow your inner guide, and do not relent until you have answers, or much better questions. The only real question left is, what will you do now?
*It has been the opinion of several esoteric scholars that the current occupation of Tibet serves as an impetus for diaspora. At the current time, one culture has explored the all the recesses of the material from the very small to the very large. Another culture has explore the inner worlds of the mystery human spirituality. It could be viewed that an appropriate platform for such an “outing” of spiritual knowledge has been prepared. That one without the other are mutually irrelevant. On the contrary, one with the other has synergistic properties we can only guess at -probably greatly underestimating the results with our wildest imagination.