THE SECRET TO SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT PART TWO
THE SECRET OF SPIRITUAL CONTENTMENT
©Norman W. Wilson, PhD
With the entrance of "New Age" in the late 1960s and early 70s and the plethora of ramblings, rumblings, and ruminations of what is and what ought to be, raised more questions than answers. What exactly was this New Age? Was it communicating with a yucca plant, or laying bare-butt naked on a rock in an Arizona desert attempting to soak up mother earth's energy and crying out "I am Man?" Or was it getting stoned on pot, LSD, or crack cocaine, or blown out of one's skull with hallucinogenic mushrooms? Was it wearing long hair, beads, faded jeans with cut out knees, and a hole just below the right rear cheek to show you were naked underneath? Did it mean being bearded and spouting esoteric poetry? Is it the philosophy of "if it feels good, do it?" Ah yes, it is said to have been an effort to return to a more natural world. Okay, but why all the trappings? Why all the pretense? Why not just be?
Just be? Didn't I say take from each dogma that which helps you feel spiritual? You got me there; I did. So, why am I so critical of the New Agers? Aren't they seeking the spiritual? Remember I said there was a catch. I have even repeated it. So, what's the catch? Their quest is self-centered, ego based and primarily communal. From one viewpoint, man is advised to love his neighbor as himself. Not bad. In fact, it's pretty good. The Hippies of the 60s and 70s preached "Love." Unfortunately it degenerated into irresponsible sex and drug use, both of which have continued into the 21st Century. Love your neighbor has been interpreted to mean don't be selfish. You know, give it all away. Such an attitude relies upon the notion that Self and selfish are one and the same. And therein lays the rub. They are not! To love your neighbor as yourself means you FIRST must LOVE your SELF. Now you have it: The ultimate secret of secrets!
You have to love your Self, that inner being, that which transcends all other identifying attributes. Any demand that negates the value of Self denies Selfhood. Recognizing the value of Self is essential for Self-Love. If Self Love is not present how then, can you possible say you love God (any name you choose to call the Divine), let alone love your neighbor. Without Self Love there can be no spiritual contentment.
If you accept the tenant that you were created in the image of the Divine, how can you negate that which IT created by demanding that you love your Self less. You can't and remain spiritually whole, that is, spiritually content.
Suppose these concepts of individuation of the spiritual experience were to catch on what might the logical projection be? It would become organized, with specific procedures, ceremonies, and demands. Traditionalism would rear its ugly head and again threaten the individual experience. What has to be understood is that all spiritual experience is personal. The late Ayn Rand's statement regarding a collective stomach eating the same meal is appropriate here. There is such a thing as a collective stomach; likewise there isn't such a thing as a collective experience. You may participate in a group that claims such experience, but the GROUP did not have the experience: Individuals within the group did and that extent it is individual—always.
In Part Three, I will discuss the issue of steps to spiritual contentment.
©Norman W. Wilson, Ph.D. 2020