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Given the diversity of people and our life circumstances, what is the best way to help people focus on the most serious, life-transforming aspects of our being? I often ask this to people who correspond with me this question, and as you can imagine, the answers vary widely.
Every guru, imam, pastor, priest, or life coach exists to help us explore spiritual reality, depth and beauty. Even the most atheistic among us pursues beauty, meaning, logic, love and human improvement, despite these things having no empirical basis whatsoever. All spiritual pursuit begins with awe and wonder. The Psalmist phrases it this way, “The Fear (awe) of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, all those who practice it have a good understanding” (Psalm 111:10). Can it be that easy?
A child gazing at the stars begins the “Awe and wonder” process. The Hubble space telescope has only expanded what was there. My life work is to ask us to explore what is beyond the questions. When we consider the immensity of space and time, how much of it is mostly lost on us? Contemplating the scale of the cosmos immediately diminutizes us, and pushes us out of personal significance. It opens up a sliver of our global unity, our collective purpose and our responsibility.
It’s always too much to take in. We can’t bear it. It’s uncomfortable and we scammer to reclaim our locus of control. After all, we’ve got more important things to do…right?
I’m not talking about astronomy. I’m using our shared experience with astronomy to expose spiritual reality. Every spiritual person can relate even though they use a different framework to get there. I can do this with mathematics, biology, philosophy, scripture, poetry, psychology, music, politics and any subject one can imagine. My question is how do we awaken from each of our categories of concern so that we can see more of that which is beyond everything?
Unity is not derived from us pulling away from our activities and joining a team that is trying to unify people. This is our default mode of distraction. Religion and State are still trying to get people out of their lives and into the flow of institutional compliance (slavery), this has never changed and never will. Institutional unity is a counterfeit. It’s a tribal version of those who joined a particular team. It’s a shrunken down version of unity that comes by eradicating diversity.
I believe true unity is actually the result of going deep enough, well beyond the surface of those things that occupy our lives. The focus of our lives is our biggest distraction. If we see our life focus as a object then it will distract us from the true subject. Those that go beyond their object and discover the transforming inner experience that awaits us beyond everything, usually cease to focus on the thing that got him or her there in the first place. The object becomes a subject. It’s a new way to relate to everything. That’s the design and purpose of the universe. Everything exists not for its own objective purpose, but for the purpose of revealing the subject beyond everything.
Human suffering is the inability to see and thus get beyond the surface of distraction. Suffering, as James Finely would say, is the skimming over the depth that is our life. Though we may come together in our religions, our hobbies, our work, or our stations in life, we only do so in a tribal, otherness-based fashion. Healing and human flourishing only exists when unity and diversity co-exhist and are celebrated and thus potentiated. This is the goal of all spirituality. No wonder so many traditions share a similar teleology of heaven or afterlife, its the only way we can imagine all this distraction coming together. The good news is we don’t need to wait for it. The Kingdom is at hand.
Religion might help us get started on this path, but I would never advocate staying there too long. I know far too many religious people who are distracted by their religion. In fact, any container that distracts us from its contents has become a religion to us. We all find a container that interests us and then we objectify it. Idolatry is the default mode of the heart that skims. We can be distracted by our prayers, enamored with our meditations, impressed with our austerities, and tenacious with our disciplines. All these wonderful tools so often become the end rather than the means. Jesus says: “I never knew you.” (Matt 7:21), All our activity came from a fake ID, it was subject-object.
Faith, however, is a different way to live. Faith is subject-subject. Faith is awareness, it’s consciousness that emerges when our focus moves from doing into being. Fatih is life in Flow. Faith is a practice. It’s the belief in healing, personal transformation, and discovery. Faith is the satisfaction of the awe and wonder which gave birth to it. The practice of faith is simply to meet each moment and do all that it requires (work, family, learning) from a place that sees beyond the mundane, beyond the distraction of all things, into the flow of love contained in each and every moment showing up as each and every thing. A crying baby, a traffic jam, a deadline, if seen through faith, are not objects, but a single subject.
A life of faith and Flow is as simple as forgiving reality for being what it is. This allows us to actually see reality for what it is, rather than what it is for us.
So I ask again, given the diversity of our lives, how shall we wake people up from their distractions?