Lessons from Somethingism

Times of great change are also fearful times. People feel uncertain, at sea. Many feel they have little or no control over their lives. And that makes some of them angry

Spirituality is the answer.

Some say we have reached the end of “the grand narrative”: Not only is ­Christianity passé, but the meta-stories that tell us science or socialism will bring ultimate salvation have also failed to pan out. In the mean-time, a new grand narrative is being created: a hopeful and uplifting story, one more and more people are starting to believe and from which we can derive inspiration and vitality. That is the narrative of the new spirituality.

Our era is perhaps comparable to the first centuries of Christianity. A kind of fragmentation is underway, and a new spiritual ­paradigm is arising. Right now, things seem confusing and kaleidoscopic, without a core, without a leader. But those who look closely will discover a common thread.

The new grand narrative presents itself as a quest, upon which each of us individually embarks. Some people—the old-­fashioned, you might say—cling to the linear ­teachings of new-age preachers who make ­authoritative proclamations within a clearly defined belief system. But many more just pick and mix what they hear until they find the shape that fits them.

Yet the narrative is still fuzzy. It is the ­narrative of “somethingists”: “I don’t believe in God as a man with a beard in the clouds,” they say. “But I do believe there’s something.” Somethingism evokes resistance and criticism from all corners: It’s ­noncommittal, flighty, egocentric. But if we take a closer look, we see that this new meta-story is anything but noncommittal: It makes a strong moral appeal to our sense of ­personal responsibility.

Here are the seven core values of the new grand narrative.

1. All religions tell the same story.

First and foremost is the conviction that all religious traditions have a universal core. Their external trappings differ, their rituals differ, their commandments can even be diametrically opposed, but the core belief is the same. As “Madame” Helena ­Blavatsky, the founder of theosophy, pointed out in the late 19th century, all religions are rays from the same sun. Religious disputes are therefore pointless. Nothing stands in the way of ­global ecumenism. Let each religious group maintain its own traditions; at heart, their ­essential message is the same. So what is that core belief?

2. God resides within us.

Shared conviction No. 2: God lives ­inside man. There is something sacred hidden in our deepest selves. In theosophy, that is the higher self; in anthroposophy, it’s the Christ within; in gnosticism, the divine spark; in ­Buddhism, the Buddha nature; in the human potential ­movement, the inner child—but whatever the term, they all point to the same thing: that which links us to the divine. We can contact that core in the silence of the soul. From that deep place come our inspiration and our intuition, in moments of grace.

3. Only as an individual can we find harmony with others.

Because God lives within us and not in the church, the new spirituality is by definition an individual affair. We all make our own pilgrim’s journey to our own inner world. Because we are unique individuals, that journey is different for each of us. We can travel a while along the path of a particular school, guru or teacher, but we are always free to develop our own variant on their teachings.

This individualism seems egocentric, but it has the same goal as the collectivism of ­recognized religions: to live in harmony with one another. In the “new we,” we aren’t all ­facing the same direction—and that’s good. We can get along despite our differences—or even because of them.

 The new grand narrative presents itself as a quest, upon which each of us individually embarks.

There is a phenomenon called the wisdom of crowds: A group is smarter than an individual, as long as the group is diverse enough and its members are sufficiently autonomous. There must be no central leadership, or cliques will form, tunnel vision will develop—and that makes the group stupider. With headstrong individuals who stay true to themselves yet are able to work with others, the members of the group reach a higher plane together. In these new groups, we are encouraged to stay ourselves. All the clashes that arise from our differences contribute to our development, to our learning processes—because those who try to be like someone else are no longer authentic.

Compare it to a vocal quartet. There’s a soprano, an alto, a tenor and a bass, and they all have their own parts to sing. If you haven’t mastered your part, you warble along with the others and the result is unappealing. Only when you’ve mastered your own voice can you sing in a quartet and produce a ­whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

4. Live in your body, not in your head.

Because all feelings (fear, frustration, traumatic experiences) are physical processes inside the body, the new spirituality is deeply involved with the physical experience, on and within one’s own body. “Navel-gazing,” critics call it, and that’s exactly what it is: It’s about what you feel in your own gut.

The stomach is the home of what ­Eckhart Tolle, the German guru of living in the now, calls the “painbody”: the ball of old pain that makes us see enemies everywhere. We can meditate that ball away and we can make sure we live in a way that keeps us from collecting new pain altogether. Part of that is ­knowing what we’re living for. Another part is ­accepting all things life puts in front of us. The short-term goal is to feel good in our bellies. The ultimate goal is peace on Earth.

Most people start living in their heads at a young age: The way we raise and educate our children lends itself to that. For many people, there comes a moment, often through illness or overexertion, when they realize it: I’m in my head too much; I’ve lost the connection with my body, my heart, my feelings, my whole being, my “me.” They attend therapy or start meditating and rediscover their bodies. Body work is an ­important ­component of the new spirituality.

5 We must let the ego die.

The point is definitely to be happy and to feel good in our guts, but those advanced in the new spirituality know the journey ­cannot always be pleasant. On the ­contrary. ­Ultimately, we must experience “ego death.” We must transcend ourselves. And that is usually painful. It is a ­crucifixion experience, to use Christian terminology.

Once all our old pain has been processed, we find there’s still something inside that has to go, and that, in popular terms, is the ego. To Freud, the ego was an organizing “I” that we must never allow ourselves to lose, but when we, the new spiritualists, talk about the ego, we mean self-interest. The human being’s “me” focus—which arises from our natural drive to survive and reproduce but makes of us self-centered primates—that’s what we want to transcend, sublimate, kill—whatever you want to call it.

The ancient Egyptians believed the heart of someone who died was balanced against a feather; only if your heart was as light as a feather were you able to move on. So light must we be. Empty of the ego. Then we are our true selves: without masks, without survival mechanisms, ­without ­armor.

6. Humanity evolves through our individual development.

Each person is traveling towar
d a complete union with the Source or God in a long series of lives that enable us to keep learning. A striking number of people believe in reincarnation. But even those who deny the transmigration of the soul can assume a human evolution through the centuries and millennia, in which we are all involved and to which we each contribute. Your individual development is your contribution to mankind’s evolution. Together, we form a single vast morphic field named “human.”

Everything that happens in our lives can be used for spiritual development, even (or particularly) setbacks, illnesses, poverty, lack of recognition, loneliness and so on. None of it is an accident; it falls to us because we need, or are able, to use it at that moment. The people we have problems with are mirrors in which we can see our own shadows, our doppelgangers.

Those who have processed all their old pain are liberated. Liberation is this: being who we truly are.

7. Everything is connected.

Everyone is traveling to God, and everyone is part of the whole, because—and this is perhaps the most comforting and uplifting thing—everything is connected to everything else. The entire universe is a single, ­infinite web of vibrating connections between ­everything and everyone. Science is well on its way to discovering this: ­Everything is immediately connected to everything else. That’s why everything that happens is seen, is known, in the farthest corners of the universe. Theosophists and anthroposophists call it the akashic records. And that seeing—that cosmic involvement, that omniscient and omnipresent intelligence that wishes us well—is God’s love.

These are the major hallmarks of the new spirituality. Many people today are talking about humanity’s U-shaped development. We originate at the top left corner of the “U,” where primitive man had completely intuitive and natural contact with the spiritual world. Over the millennia, we descended to the ground, to the materialistic world view currently in vogue, at the bottom of the U. Today’s world view is materialistic through and through: The existence of everything beyond man is denied. And even man is made smaller than he is, for he no longer has a soul or a spirit. According to science, we are a coincidental mix of genes, hormones and other substances in the brain that determine our behavior. We are our brains.

But many of us are already climbing up the right leg of the “U.” Upward, toward unimpeded contact with the spiritual world—but bringing with us all the experience, knowledge and awareness we’ve gathered along the way. When we arrive, we will no longer be babies but adults, with a free will and the associated responsibility for ­creation, for the cosmos. We’re not there, by any stretch of the imagination—but we’re well on our way.

Start exploring. Follow what makes you happy, what inspires you, what makes you warm inside. And if you’ve followed it for a while and changed your mind, then hit the road again and search for a new spiritual rest stop where you feel refreshed and ­revitalized. You are part of the new grand narrative, in every way.

Lisette Thooft lives off and for narratives, grand or otherwise.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solution News Source

Lessons from Somethingism

Times of great change are also fearful times. People feel uncertain, at sea. Many feel they have little or no control over their lives. And that makes some of them angry

Spirituality is the answer.

Some say we have reached the end of “the grand narrative”: Not only is ­Christianity passé, but the meta-stories that tell us science or socialism will bring ultimate salvation have also failed to pan out. In the mean-time, a new grand narrative is being created: a hopeful and uplifting story, one more and more people are starting to believe and from which we can derive inspiration and vitality. That is the narrative of the new spirituality.

Our era is perhaps comparable to the first centuries of Christianity. A kind of fragmentation is underway, and a new spiritual ­paradigm is arising. Right now, things seem confusing and kaleidoscopic, without a core, without a leader. But those who look closely will discover a common thread.

The new grand narrative presents itself as a quest, upon which each of us individually embarks. Some people—the old-­fashioned, you might say—cling to the linear ­teachings of new-age preachers who make ­authoritative proclamations within a clearly defined belief system. But many more just pick and mix what they hear until they find the shape that fits them.

Yet the narrative is still fuzzy. It is the ­narrative of “somethingists”: “I don’t believe in God as a man with a beard in the clouds,” they say. “But I do believe there’s something.” Somethingism evokes resistance and criticism from all corners: It’s ­noncommittal, flighty, egocentric. But if we take a closer look, we see that this new meta-story is anything but noncommittal: It makes a strong moral appeal to our sense of ­personal responsibility.

Here are the seven core values of the new grand narrative.

1. All religions tell the same story.

First and foremost is the conviction that all religious traditions have a universal core. Their external trappings differ, their rituals differ, their commandments can even be diametrically opposed, but the core belief is the same. As “Madame” Helena ­Blavatsky, the founder of theosophy, pointed out in the late 19th century, all religions are rays from the same sun. Religious disputes are therefore pointless. Nothing stands in the way of ­global ecumenism. Let each religious group maintain its own traditions; at heart, their ­essential message is the same. So what is that core belief?

2. God resides within us.

Shared conviction No. 2: God lives ­inside man. There is something sacred hidden in our deepest selves. In theosophy, that is the higher self; in anthroposophy, it’s the Christ within; in gnosticism, the divine spark; in ­Buddhism, the Buddha nature; in the human potential ­movement, the inner child—but whatever the term, they all point to the same thing: that which links us to the divine. We can contact that core in the silence of the soul. From that deep place come our inspiration and our intuition, in moments of grace.

3. Only as an individual can we find harmony with others.

Because God lives within us and not in the church, the new spirituality is by definition an individual affair. We all make our own pilgrim’s journey to our own inner world. Because we are unique individuals, that journey is different for each of us. We can travel a while along the path of a particular school, guru or teacher, but we are always free to develop our own variant on their teachings.

This individualism seems egocentric, but it has the same goal as the collectivism of ­recognized religions: to live in harmony with one another. In the “new we,” we aren’t all ­facing the same direction—and that’s good. We can get along despite our differences—or even because of them.

 The new grand narrative presents itself as a quest, upon which each of us individually embarks.

There is a phenomenon called the wisdom of crowds: A group is smarter than an individual, as long as the group is diverse enough and its members are sufficiently autonomous. There must be no central leadership, or cliques will form, tunnel vision will develop—and that makes the group stupider. With headstrong individuals who stay true to themselves yet are able to work with others, the members of the group reach a higher plane together. In these new groups, we are encouraged to stay ourselves. All the clashes that arise from our differences contribute to our development, to our learning processes—because those who try to be like someone else are no longer authentic.

Compare it to a vocal quartet. There’s a soprano, an alto, a tenor and a bass, and they all have their own parts to sing. If you haven’t mastered your part, you warble along with the others and the result is unappealing. Only when you’ve mastered your own voice can you sing in a quartet and produce a ­whole that is more than the sum of its parts.

4. Live in your body, not in your head.

Because all feelings (fear, frustration, traumatic experiences) are physical processes inside the body, the new spirituality is deeply involved with the physical experience, on and within one’s own body. “Navel-gazing,” critics call it, and that’s exactly what it is: It’s about what you feel in your own gut.

The stomach is the home of what ­Eckhart Tolle, the German guru of living in the now, calls the “painbody”: the ball of old pain that makes us see enemies everywhere. We can meditate that ball away and we can make sure we live in a way that keeps us from collecting new pain altogether. Part of that is ­knowing what we’re living for. Another part is ­accepting all things life puts in front of us. The short-term goal is to feel good in our bellies. The ultimate goal is peace on Earth.

Most people start living in their heads at a young age: The way we raise and educate our children lends itself to that. For many people, there comes a moment, often through illness or overexertion, when they realize it: I’m in my head too much; I’ve lost the connection with my body, my heart, my feelings, my whole being, my “me.” They attend therapy or start meditating and rediscover their bodies. Body work is an ­important ­component of the new spirituality.

5 We must let the ego die.

The point is definitely to be happy and to feel good in our guts, but those advanced in the new spirituality know the journey ­cannot always be pleasant. On the ­contrary. ­Ultimately, we must experience “ego death.” We must transcend ourselves. And that is usually painful. It is a ­crucifixion experience, to use Christian terminology.

Once all our old pain has been processed, we find there’s still something inside that has to go, and that, in popular terms, is the ego. To Freud, the ego was an organizing “I” that we must never allow ourselves to lose, but when we, the new spiritualists, talk about the ego, we mean self-interest. The human being’s “me” focus—which arises from our natural drive to survive and reproduce but makes of us self-centered primates—that’s what we want to transcend, sublimate, kill—whatever you want to call it.

The ancient Egyptians believed the heart of someone who died was balanced against a feather; only if your heart was as light as a feather were you able to move on. So light must we be. Empty of the ego. Then we are our true selves: without masks, without survival mechanisms, ­without ­armor.

6. Humanity evolves through our individual development.

Each person is traveling towar
d a complete union with the Source or God in a long series of lives that enable us to keep learning. A striking number of people believe in reincarnation. But even those who deny the transmigration of the soul can assume a human evolution through the centuries and millennia, in which we are all involved and to which we each contribute. Your individual development is your contribution to mankind’s evolution. Together, we form a single vast morphic field named “human.”

Everything that happens in our lives can be used for spiritual development, even (or particularly) setbacks, illnesses, poverty, lack of recognition, loneliness and so on. None of it is an accident; it falls to us because we need, or are able, to use it at that moment. The people we have problems with are mirrors in which we can see our own shadows, our doppelgangers.

Those who have processed all their old pain are liberated. Liberation is this: being who we truly are.

7. Everything is connected.

Everyone is traveling to God, and everyone is part of the whole, because—and this is perhaps the most comforting and uplifting thing—everything is connected to everything else. The entire universe is a single, ­infinite web of vibrating connections between ­everything and everyone. Science is well on its way to discovering this: ­Everything is immediately connected to everything else. That’s why everything that happens is seen, is known, in the farthest corners of the universe. Theosophists and anthroposophists call it the akashic records. And that seeing—that cosmic involvement, that omniscient and omnipresent intelligence that wishes us well—is God’s love.

These are the major hallmarks of the new spirituality. Many people today are talking about humanity’s U-shaped development. We originate at the top left corner of the “U,” where primitive man had completely intuitive and natural contact with the spiritual world. Over the millennia, we descended to the ground, to the materialistic world view currently in vogue, at the bottom of the U. Today’s world view is materialistic through and through: The existence of everything beyond man is denied. And even man is made smaller than he is, for he no longer has a soul or a spirit. According to science, we are a coincidental mix of genes, hormones and other substances in the brain that determine our behavior. We are our brains.

But many of us are already climbing up the right leg of the “U.” Upward, toward unimpeded contact with the spiritual world—but bringing with us all the experience, knowledge and awareness we’ve gathered along the way. When we arrive, we will no longer be babies but adults, with a free will and the associated responsibility for ­creation, for the cosmos. We’re not there, by any stretch of the imagination—but we’re well on our way.

Start exploring. Follow what makes you happy, what inspires you, what makes you warm inside. And if you’ve followed it for a while and changed your mind, then hit the road again and search for a new spiritual rest stop where you feel refreshed and ­revitalized. You are part of the new grand narrative, in every way.

Lisette Thooft lives off and for narratives, grand or otherwise.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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