By Natalie Amsden
We find ourselves at a unique point in history: at the precipice of human transformation. In this world of rapid change and mass confusion, many of us feel a deep longing for something more—for connection, love, joy, peace and meaning. We are all awakening, each in our own way and in our own time. As our world changes around us, our world-view is changing.
It is no mystery that we share a collective belief system, a world-view, and that it has been transmitted to us from those who came before. By understanding the reality of our ancestors, we understand how we have come to live within the mental constructs of our collective belief systems. We will take you on a journey that starts in the Middle Ages and ends where Western thought stands today. Once we view our current state in the perspective of the greater story, we will see how it all leads up to this moment.
The Middle Ages: Imagine you were alive during the Middle Ages. The churchmen defined your reality as being a spiritual one, with God’s plan for mankind at the very center of life. You believe that earth is the center of the universe, with the stars and sun we see in the sky as concentric, crystalline, solid spheres that rotate around the earth. The churchmen explain that the purpose of life is essentially to win or lose salvation. There are two opposing forces: God and the temptations of the devil. You are not qualified to determine your worthiness; for this you rely on the churchmen who interpret the scriptures and tell you how to live your life. Everything that happens is believed to be the will or wrath of God—from thunderstorms to illness. There is not yet any understanding of weather, disease or geological forces.
Upheaval: Now imagine your world view begins to fall apart (around the fifteenth century). You begin to hear of the churchmen violating their vows of chastity or taking money as bribery to allow officials to violate scriptural laws. This is a terrifying discovery, as the churchmen are your only connection between yourself and God. People begin to break away from the church, believing they do not need a middleman. As the churchmen and their teachings begin to come into question, so does your entire belief system about the nature of your world, the cosmos, and the purpose of life on earth.
Without a clearly defined authority to dictate your beliefs, define your reality, and tell you how to live your life, you feel confused, lost and afraid. If the churchmen were wrong, then what is right? To make things more unsettling, by the 1600s astronomers proved beyond a doubt that the sun and stars did not revolve around the Earth—that Earth was only one small planet orbiting one of billions and billions of stars.
You are no longer the center of God’s universe.
Science is Born: Imagine the anxiety produced now when you watch the weather or someone suddenly dies—you feel bewildered, not understanding why this is happening. You, and all of those who share your world-view, begin to ask for answers. And so the modern age is born. To counteract the chaos, democratic principles begin to take over. Definitions of our reality are no longer blindly accepted. A method of building consensus was created, which today we call the scientific method. The first scientists were sent out into this mysterious world and were tasked with using the scientific method to discover what is the true nature of this world, this universe. What is the true nature of God?
Why are we here and what are we supposed to be doing?
Material Preoccupation: As the scientists went out, people sat and waited for an answer. But, the explorers did not return for quite some time. While the world waited, we began studying this planet and finding ways to improve our lives. And so began our preoccupation with material comfort. Over the next four centuries, we continued to improve our methods of manipulating our environment, making advances in farming and later creating the Industrial Revolution. As we became more and more distracted with our technological pursuits, we slowly pushed aside and repressed our spiritual natures and the questions we sent out the scientists to discover.
As we have become better and better at surviving, we have systematically forgotten what we are surviving for.
Today: In the past 100 years, we have evolved in our technology and our understanding of the world and the universe more than in the thousands of years before. We have become masters of this material world. We have every convenience, and now that technology takes care of many of the mundane tasks that used to be needed for daily survival, we have freedom of time. During the free time we now have, we focus on our newest preoccupations – Facebook, the Internet, television, sports, drama, shopping, alcohol, drugs, or compulsive working. As we are freed to move beyond survival, we become restless. For many, the future remains their expected salvation—a respite from chronic discontent and suffering.
“Some day, when this, that, or the other thing happens, I will be happy.”
We become more and more enmeshed with our material world to avoid any chance of having time alone with ourselves—afraid we might ask ourselves the questions” “Is this it?”, “Why am I here?”, “What is the nature of God?”
Scientists Return: On the other hand, some people are seeking sources of joy and fulfillment in this moment, outside and beyond material comforts. They are unplugging from the matrix. They are embarking on an inner journey, reconnecting to others, and finding their true selves.
People all over the world are awakening and remembering their original questions – “Why are we here?”, “What is the nature of the universe, of God?”
At just this moment, when we are finally ready once again to ask our questions, the scientists are returning with the answers. The leading edge of science, including quantum physics, has, among other things, proven that we are all literally made of the same stuff—energy—as are all things, from this magazine to the billions of stars. From parallel universes to morphic fields, modern science has finally begun to bring back evidence of the nature of our universe—the nature of God—and realign the fact that science was originally inspired by a spiritual quest.
Purpose in Suffering: At the same time, there seems to be a resurgence of suffering around the world. We are inundated with theories of massive global changes—galactic alignment, magnetic shifts, and renegade planets. We are experiencing global climate change and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters. We are experiencing economic crisis and political upheaval.
If we are on the brink of an awakening, why is there so much negativity, so much pain?
Anyone who has experienced or studied spiritual growth knows that suffering is often a precursor of spiritual awakening, and this time it is no different. Many are reacting in fear, obsessing over worst-case scenarios, blogging constantly about the “economy,” government corruption, or the latest natural disaster. But more and more of us are coming to know that there is something else going on, something Greater, something wonderful. We see that what we call “negative” occurrences are part of what we need in order to push us out of the material preoccupation in which we have been hibernating for centuries.
Our cocoon of comfort is being unraveled, giving us the opening from which to spread our wings and complete the transformation we set out to do 1,000 years ago.
Creating Change: With all of the pain and suffering we see around us and in the world, it is difficult for empathetic, caring, and open people such as ourselves to not get bogged down. We become overwhelmed or discouraged feeling that it is outside of our control and there is nothing we can do about it.
We are not hopeless. We have the power to change.
Turn off the news that discourages you and tune into the good that’s happening all around you. Change your focus. Stop feeding negativity with negativity. Do what you can to help, and whatever you can’t do, let go. The most powerful thing you can do to impact those around you, and the world, is to work on you. Make changes in your life to live in alignment with your true self, your greater purpose. Practice methods of positive thinking and positive living. Elevate your energy and those around you through health, education, and spiritual practice. Open your mind and unlock the power within. Use your gifts and share them with the world. Develop compassion. Learn how to love. Put down your baggage and free yourself to be who you truly are. Face your fears. Embrace change. Connect to others. Build bridges. Give of yourself. Express gratitude. Enjoy the simple things in life. Give yourself a break from the constant grind. Breathe.
Natalie Amsden, Publisher of Transformation Magazine, has worked with thousands of people seeking to live a life of purpose and genuine relationship with their true selves, others, and their world. She is the former Director of a counseling center for teenagers and their parents. She is also a public speaker and leads workshops and retreats on Practical Spirituality, Finding Joy, Discovering Your Purpose, and Enlightened Relationships. Contact her at www.TransformationServices.org