“We are capable of such love and belonging because the soul holds the echo of a primal intimacy. ” 1
Our ancestors remain with us always. Human, atomic, the dust of stars and fields, there is nothing we have not always been. The echo of that primal intimacy resounds through our cells, singing: “Wake up and live!”
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The human search for meaning is stubborn, even as our consumer culture offers more and more distractions. Ultimately, they don’t satisfy. What does satisfy is the experience of living itself, unburdened by stuff — the joy, the struggle, the wonder of it all — and millions of us are awakening to that song in our cells, a so simple song that invites us to just live.
Just live. Live without distractions. And screens! Imagine even a day, let alone a life, without screens. Small ones, big ones, bigger ones… so much of our attention is now focused on two-dimensional displays. This is not life; it is a display of life, a replica, an impoverished substitute. And staring for hours turns us into spectators in our own lives.
Meanwhile, our human yearning for meaning and happiness intensifies, here in the 21st century where our chronic dysfunction of separation from the real world (the one we didn’t manufacture to prove we don’t need God) threatens our survival. Will we change course? History suggests we won’t, that we humans tend to drag our feet until the eleventh our and put our faith in “Hail Mary” salvation.
We’re the same personally. Who changes his diet or exercise pattern before a threat of serious illness or death? Fear motivates. So do pleasure and pain. But there’s another urging; I call it The Awakening Impulse, and it’s growing stronger every day.
Consciousness has a plan, the same plan it always has — to expand awareness. And so it is that in this era of global warming and warnings, many are also experiencing a spiritual awakening. This doesn’t make the news but then what is the news anyway? Stories about what’s gone wrong, stories from the dark side. Meanwhile, the sun also rises.
“Discovering a sense of purpose has deep meaning, and awareness of belonging as well as feeling connected to something larger than the individual self that is ultimately about love. Witness the fact that people who belong to a church or spiritual group who have an active spiritual life live, on average, seven years longer than those who don’t.” 2
Where do we go to find this sense of purpose? Deep, not wide. There’s no need to find a monastery in a distant land, burrow inside a cave and meditate. We can wake up in New York City. We can find meaning in the midst of a messy divorce, going bankrupt, giving birth, getting a promotion, burying a mother, day dreaming on a rainy day, reading these words.
Lightning is always ready to strike.
The setting, the time, the details, are relatively unimportant. What’s important is choice and focus. Being mindful, resting in the present moment, is an acquired skill that can be practiced anywhere, any time. Begun as a technique, it can grow into a lifestyle, a way of being that is supremely satisfying because it cultures the sense of true belonging like nothing else can.
We can lose a partner and friends. We can lose a home, a job, investments. But what we know of belonging to life can never be lost or stolen; this is the echo of primal intimacy.
Can you hear it? Under the muttering of civilization, the strident calls of duty, the burdens of obligation, it signals like a cosmic heart beat, reminding us that we do belong, that regardless of the challenges, the disappointments, the dreams that flower or wither, we have something, we are something, forever free and safe and… made of joy.
“If you weren’t guilty, how would you feel? If you weren’t worried, what would you do? If you trusted yourself, what possibilities would you see?” 3
Everything changes when we stopping chasing what we already have. Americans have the mandated right to the pursuit of happiness; that’s a death sentence, a formula for disappointment because we can never catch it.
Imagine a shrine, a sanctuary in your mind, a place of peace and order… home. This you have, we all do, the place where the still small voice whispers and calls us back to love’s embrace. Here, we simply belong, and that is enough.
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1. Anam Cara — John O’Donohue Page 26
2. Fruitful Aging — Tom Pinkson Page 3
3. Ignite the Genius Within — Dr. Christine Ranck and Christopher Lee Nutter Page 8