“These are the End Times.” You hear that a lot, lately; the fundamentalists see the end of their world, or more accurately, the end of their hegemony, and they act as if their personal “end time” is a larger cultural phenomenon, shared by the community, the country, and the world. What it amounts to is, “If my world is crashing around me, I’m taking yours along with it”; this is the Koch “I want my fair share – and that’s all of it” mentality
My response to a dear old friend last week to that ‘reminder’ was, that every ending brings a new beginning. The religious hold on spirituality may be broken, the hold religion had on society (anyone remember the Dark Ages? I mean from history, obviously) may be loosed, but spirituality is not the creation of religion – religion is a response to the impulse to spirituality. But something is emerging from the energies being unleashed by the unloosening. It scares those that hold fast to ‘the church’, but it won’t affect them, in their lifetime, not directly. The old forms will maintain, there is a need for church, and for religion. That need, however, is finding ways to be met directly, without the intercession of a church, a priest, a prophet or a messiah. That, of course, IS heresy to those that hold to those beliefs; but not everybody does, and not everybody needs to. That is heresy, I know that. Before I proceed any further, I must come out as a Catholic schoolboy (when I was a schoolboy, I was a Catholic; gratefully, I was spared Catholic school – although I learned my catechism, I was confirmed in the Church); later on, I heard it said, “I can’t be a Christian, I was raised Catholic”, that stuck; and having at one point early in the reborn Christian movement welcomed Jesus into my life and my heart. I found he was already there; every night, the schoolboy in me, on the way to sleep, still says the “Our Father”, “Hail Mary” and a heartfelt “Act of Contrition”, when I reflect on whom I embarrassed, whom I offended, whom I insulted during the day, and put my day in the “God box”.
But now I hold to a developmental view of spirituality. We have acknowledged developmental stages for infancy, learning, morals; we acknowledge and respect the work of Piaget, Erikson, Kohlberg and Freud as valid and informative in the learning and growing processes of life. Why is it so radical to presume a spiritual development, as well? Kohlberg teaches us we advance along a path:
- reward/punishment paradigm
- duties/rights/obligations perspective
- principles/standards self-selection process
Essentially, the developmental model says that, as we grow and mature, we learn to think and choose for ourselves, and use our will to manifest what we believe to exist in the world.
Even consciousness follows a developmental path we have uncovered and acknowledged, when you accept the work of James Bucke (Cosmic Consciousness) as a valid paradigm from which to view consciousness.
It only follows, logically, that there is a spiritual development path that we are in the process of uncovering.
In An Unchanged Mind, Dr. John A. McKinnon, MD states that there are children that miss developmental milestones, and that it is very unlikely that, once missed, certain milestones can be made up without conscious effort to show the unchanged mind back to the path of proper development.
So it is, I believe, with spirituality; there is a developmental path we follow, perhaps parallel to Kohlberg’s formulation, in regard to spirituality. And, to follow McKinnon’s model, there are milestones of development that can be missed, and when they are missed, the spiritual path is lost, unless some outside occurrence spurs us back onto the path to spiritual development. We need authority figures when we’re young, we haven’t developed reasonable judgment, and must rely on others to show us the path, to keep us from unintended consequences, until we learn what an unintended consequence is, and how it just kind of .. happens.
Julian Jaynes posited that, when humanity was in its developmental infancy, our intuitive mind would communicate directly, providing the guidance we would need until collectively humanity could learn enough to provide guidance and learning to itself. He says there is a vestigial speech center on the right side of the brain (the rational part of the mind, the dominant sphere of the brain, is the left brain; the ‘speech center’ is located in the left hemisphere of the brain) that we used to receive information necessary to survive and ultimately thrive. As the rational mind developed, the intuitive mind became secondary, and as we relied less on the intuitive “voice”, it became a relic of an earlier stage of development.
But what that means is that the ‘intuitive’ speech center is still there, still operating if not quite active. Except it would give credence to the idea of “the still, small voice” that had become drowned out with our own rational self-speech! If Jaynes is not entirely off the mark, it would also serve to explain the “voices” that schizophrenics hear, and the commanding voice that it seems to take. It would explain both its operation and its presence.
And, ultimately, that is what we train ourselves to attend to, when we meditate.
This is where the “critical mass” of the Cultural Creatives enters the picture; Being and Presence will never be a universal feature of the human psyche, it’s a journey we must choose to take, it is what lies beyond the spiritual milestone of Cosmic Consciousness. The choice, as the developmental milestone itself, cannot be forced on anyone, and since it will never be an element universal in human psychology, those of us at the “tipping point” can only point the way, can only lead by example.
However, in this case, I feel like Moses – standing at the edge of the Promised Land, knowing I personally will never see it come to fruition. But I know in my heart, so to speak, to use popular idiom, that it is coming. I can see it, sitting here in my obscurity, but I know I can do nothing to bring it about but to sow the seeds, and hope they find fertile ground.