The Problem Before Modern Society, Particularly Young People

Each man is called to embody truth as it is revealed in his heart.

Truth grows out of the darkness of undifferentiated awareness and extends itself into the domain of our incarnation, which is the present moment. This is embodiment. It is what it means to be awake, and wakefulness is the responsibility of every person.

There is no loophole or shortcut that circumvents this responsibility.

We cannot be Pharisees: goody goody two-shoes, rule followers, good Ole boys, etc. While our outward demonstrations may succeed for a while in convincing others that we are living an authentic and honorable life, it is bound to end in failure, because it cannot convince us that we are living an authentic and honorable life. We feel the truth in our heart looking over our shoulder. No matter how great the job might be, how beautiful our husband or wife is, no matter how fancy our car or how big our house, regardless of how many books we've read or teachers we've met and studied with we know that we remain distant and disconnected from the still small voice of truth within our heart.

This still small voice is the seed of faith planted in the heart of all mankind. In this sense, faith is not referring to any dogma or system of belief authored by institutional authorities; rather it is referring to the intuition of Truth which precedes our ideas about the world we live in. This is the difficulty that we face in mass societies where we are inundated with ideas about how we should and shouldn't be. The crisis of faith is, in many ways, a crisis of identity, because identity, in its truest sense, is concerned with the biological, psychological, and spiritual imperative to embody Truth. We must learn to walk through this world free of reference points, without any handrails to support us. We must learn to stand apart from the masses, not in a rebellious sense, but as a matter of exercising the indwelling spirit of freedom, which is fresh and unique, not just from one person to the next, but from one moment to the next. We must learn how to respect the wisdom and the guidance of tradition and elders, while simultaneously cultivating the space within ourselves to arrive at our own conclusions and insights in an authentic and respectable way.

The real problem facing modern society is the crisis of identity that plagues many people, especially modern youths. This identity crisis is a rite of passage preordained by our biology. It is a struggle to discern what is real and true for us and to defend the space needed to express this in an authentic and creative way. Unfortunately, in modern society this identity crisis extends itself well into our adult years. For many it is not resolved until we experience a midlife crisis, and for some, even then resolution evades them. They continue to look to others for confirmation. They want their spouse, parents, friends, politicians, teacher, preacher, or some book to tell them who they are. But no one can walk the path for us. No one can give us answers that relieve us of our responsibility to move into the uncertainty and see for ourselves. The path is, by its very nature, un-mapped. There maybe outlines and commentaries about spirituality falling out our wazoo, but they are no substitute for direct experience. This is what it means to walk by faith alone.

This is why modern politics is so immature and dysfunctional: both modern conservatism and liberalism is an expression of the identity crisis in our society. The former is a blind obligation to the status quo, while the latter is a legislative rebellion against anything and everything that is not authored by modern thinking. When manifested in the world of spirituality or religious institutions, conservatism exaggerates the right of self-determination and becomes a defense mechanism that preserves the oppressive institution of self will. It becomes a blatant disregard of anything and everything intellectual, a paranoia and suspicion of all modern thought, and an absolute reliance upon foregone conclusions. It is by its very nature working back to what it already knows. From this point of view, the preacher or teacher exists solely as a prop. He is expected to stand in front of his congregation and give speeches and theatrical sermons that fail to challenge those being addressed, because the message only reiterates that which they already believed .

Liberalism, on the other hand, attempts to resolve the identity crisis through mis-identification with some authority figure or foreign form, creating a mindless atmosphere where prayers are routinely chanted in foreign languages or an almost cult-like relationship between the teacher or preacher and the student. The popularity of this liberal orientation within more modern forms of spiritual practice, coupled with the overwhelming population of male authority figures, reflects the emasculated nature of modern society stemming from the emotional absence of fathers in the modern house hold.

It is the job of a responsible teacher not to exploit this vulnerability, sexually or otherwise, lest the student be transformed into a commodity which exist solely for the self edifying purposes of an immature teacher still dominated by the fears and insecurities of their own identity crisis. In such an unhealthy environment the student fails to develop authentic experiences, and instead receives only spiritual hand me downs, religious relics.The mature teacher must realize that their "popularity" in part stems from this cultural anemia, which awakens the path of the teacher and forces them to continue to work with their own hidden agendas; rather than dying to the idea that they are some kind of finished product, which only reinforces a false dualism of superiority and inferiority. A healthy relationship between the student and teacher also reinforces the student role in the teacher and works to awaken the teacher in the student.

The symbiotic relationship between teacher and student preserves a healthy environment for growth and realization. The symbiotic relationship cultivates a healthy environment not because it removes the role of the teacher or student. In fact, it reinforces their responsibility toward one another. If the student has any hope of growth or reconnecting with his own journey, then he must admit the potential of spiritual practice and study. A practical admission of such potential manifest as a respect and appreciation for the teacher's dedication to the spiritual way of life and the subsequent depth and realization of such a person. In response the teacher offers practices that enable the student to open up and be more receptive to their true life, as it emerges within the autonomous responsibility of their life. The teacher must also be willing to offer honest and sometimes uncomfortable feedback, which the student, if he hopes to grow, must honestly consider and be willing to make the necessary sacrifices when such feedback strikes a chord.

To walk by faith alone requires courage. Walking into our lives is like walking through a dark, unfamiliar house in the middle of the night. If we are honest we are always in a place we have never been, because the we are always in the present moment. The present moment is eternally uncharted territory. It is always unfamiliar.

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