•The Resurgence of Citizens’ Movements
•The Graying of America
•Our Rediscovery of the World’s Mysteries
Join the revolution! Café Utne is hosting discussions with several of the visionary authors who contributed essays to Imagine. For a full schedule, go to www.utne.com/salon.aspx
I believe that we all know, at the deepest intuitive level, that the human world is changing. The shift has been slow and gradual, but the evidence over the past decade is clear: We are becoming more spiritual. A 1998 Gallup Poll contains an amazing finding: Eighty-two percent of those surveyed reported that spiritual growth was a very important part of their lives.
The use of the word growth in that poll, and the positive reaction to it, sheds light on what is happening. If in the past our spirituality has been defined more by a belief system that is,–by a defined creed–spirituality today seems to be about something more: a deeper personal contact with actual spiritual experience. For thousands of years, the mystics of every religious tradition have described experiences that go far beyond an intellectual understanding–experiences that give us a sense of being expanded and evolved. I believe that we are now searching for and discovering these experiences as never before.
I would argue, in fact, that this shift toward a deeper spirituality represents a dramatic shift, and in effect is ushering in what can only be called a new spiritual worldview. This new worldview ultimately will transcend the old Newtonian/Cartesian perspective that has long ruled the West, and increasingly the East. The changes are already advanced enough to be described. When we look out of our windows, we no longer see Newton’s mechanical, uncaring universe, but one that is alive, intelligent, and part of a great web of nature.
A newfound sense of mystery imbues the human world as well. We now see a mystical element in the people we meet, in the conversations we have, and in the sudden manifestation of opportunity in our lives. We know that the universe reflects back a guidance that we now call synchronicity. Coined by the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, this term refers to the occurrence of ‘meaningful coincidence,’ events that seem so timely and moving that we know them to be beyond mere chance. We’ve all experienced synchronicities. The chance meeting with a stranger that takes our career in a new direction, for instance. Or we wake up thinking about an old friend and decide to call, hearing ‘I was just thinking of you’ from the person on the other end of the line.
For most of us, these coincidences provide the first direct evidence of the spiritual operating in our lives. And we want more of this magic flow. We know that this opening to synchronicity occurs within every religious tradition and through many pathways–prayer, meditation, pilgrimages to sacred sites, dance, even the ‘zone’ moments known to athletes. What is important is not the activity or the intellectual beliefs that surround it, but rather the discovery of a new experience of who we really are.
So what will happen as more people begin to adopt a worldview based on spirituality and personal intuition? I believe that human culture will begin to progress toward spiritual ideals at every level. First, people will move toward the forms of work and creativity in which they most want to make a contribution. These inspired workers will force all institutions to become more introspective, and thus more conscious of what they must do to truly serve society.
Look at our legal institutions. Though the system is still half corrupt and oriented toward self-interest, reputable attorneys are slowly moving it away from win/lose litigation and toward win/win arbitration. Education will shift in the same way, as teachers transform an institution that seldom explores the true talents of the student into one that is oriented toward facilitating spiritual growth.
Perhaps the most challenging and important step toward this transformed worldview will be mastering the power within us called intention and prayer. Scientists are now carefully studying this power, and their findings are remarkable. As documented by physician Larry Dossey, whose studies show a strong connection between prayer and medical recovery, this research is beginning to change the way we view the power of our minds.
When will this new worldview be generally accepted? The answer depends on how boldly those who are familiar with deeper spiritual states talk about them, especially to skeptics. For decades, we who have experienced these states have tended to react to skepticism in two ways. We’ve either kept the experiences to ourselves and our confidants, or we’ve retreated into a kind of safe intellectualism, using the terms of a favorite theorist or religious doctrine to describe them.
A wide acknowledgment of life’s transformative spiritual power will come completely into reality only when those who sense it begin to talk about it boldly, to everyone.
James Redfield is the author ofThe Celestine ProphecyandThe Tenth Insight. His newest book isThe Secret of Shambhala, a spiritual adventure exploring the power of prayer and intention.
All essays reprinted from Imagine: What America Could Be in the 21st Century, edited by Marianne Williamson. Permission granted by Rodale, Emmaus, PA 18098. Available wherever books are sold or directly from the publisher by calling 800/848-4735 or visiting www.rodalestore.com
Join the revolution! Throughout November and December Cafe Utne will host discussions with several of the visionary authors who contributed essays to Imagine. For a full schedule, go to www.utne.com/salon.aspx