*** Several days ago I published an article discussing the “Paradox of Post-Religious Culture.” The following article is in a very real sense a continuation of that article and it might be useful reviewing the “Paradox” article either before or after reading this one.
Scripture tells us, both directly and indirectly, that God is a God of order, not chaos. If one views scripture as a revelation of God’s Great Story it is clearly seen that he has a purpose and a plan. His purpose, to restore humankind to its rightful place of communion with his being and dominion on earth, is being carried out by a well-ordered, practical plan. Granted, we may not always understand or even be aware of components of that plan. Still, we can clearly see that throughout each age God has carried this plan forward and the age in which we now find ourselves is no exception.
The age in which we live has its own unique purpose. I believe that we are living in a time of increased spiritual energy and how we handle this more intense Light being unleashed from the spiritual realm will determine to a large extent how the future unfolds. We have to keep in mind, for example, that the greater the light, the deeper the shadows. That’s why there is so much chaos at the same time there is such great progress.
I am of the belief that Christianity as it has been known and practiced over the last two to three centuries is waning rapidly. New, vital, and dynamic embodiments of the path of Christ are emerging and this trend will continue. I think one important characteristic of the new wineskins that we see taking shape is the emphasis placed on the Divine Laws of the universe and what these laws mean to our walk of faith. Although it may not be totally accurate, it may be possible to say that we are in the early stages of a new Reformation.
The explosive growth of the Christian faith in the southern hemisphere, in China, and in the former Soviet Union is an example that something new is being birthed by God. Further, the rapid growth of the Word of Faith Movement is also an indicator that Christians and non-believers are both seeking a more experiential and practical faith. Granted, the Faith Movement has its problems. However, if one cuts through much of the hoopla and the bells and whistles used by its leaders, the Faith Movement is based on factual divine laws and these laws, when properly applied, do work. I think these trends point to the fact that whatever form the new spirituality takes, it will have a decidedly metaphysical core. In spite of the fears and objections of traditionalists, conservatives, fundamentalists, and most Evangelicals, I am of the firm conviction that this return to the true metaphysics of the gospel is both empowering and overdue.
There are many divergent perspectives on what the major aspects of the universal purpose of this age. These diverse views have components that are in agreement with one another and, at the same time, also have aspects that are in sharp contrast. No matter what view one holds, several things are certain:
- Change is happening on a global scale and it is occurring at a rapidity never seen before.
- This age in which we live presents humankind with tremendous challenges as well as opportunities.
- Boundaries between people, nations, religions, and races are falling.
- Culture is becoming increasingly global in nature.
- The interdependence of all Creation is becoming more apparent.
- Humans are increasingly becoming less religious and more spiritual.
These are but a small sampling of the themes and issues that are taking place around the globe as the first decade of the new century winds to a close. Of particular interest is the last item mentioned: that humans tend to focus less on religion and more on spirituality. The phrase, “I’m spiritual but not religious” has been uttered so frequently that it has now become trite. Still, these words reflect a growing reality in our world. People everywhere are experiencing a deep spiritual hunger and almost universally find that institutional religion will not satisfy that sublime longing.
Religions, by their very nature, will not get the job done. All religions began as an attempt on the part of humans to formalize and standardize the process of raising consciousness to a level adequate to make experiential contact with the Divine Source, no matter how it is defined. All religions began well but have ended poorly. In this age, humankind will of necessity learn to operate in a post-religious context. Formal religions will continue to exist and serve positive purposes, but will not function as a source of spiritual development beyond a certain point. Over the next ten years or so, we will witness the emergence of numerous new wineskins in which the impartation of spiritual teachings will take place. Some of these new wineskins will be highly positive and will serve the unfolding of God’s divine plan. Others will be less than what they should be and, in fact, may do more harm than good. For the individual seeker, discernment is critical.
Far from exhaustive, the following list details a few of the primary issues for this age:
1. Developing and implementing a deeper understanding of how the mind works, especially as in the role of a co-creator. We are to grow more conscious of the power of our thoughts, imaginations, and our spoken words. We are to use these potent tools to further the divine plan – not just to benefit ourselves.
2. This is an age of synergy, where previously separated and diverse phenomena are coming together to create new things that are similar to the past, but much different as well. Key words for this age are synergy, cooperation, community, cohesiveness.
3. In relation to the No. 1 issue regarding the mind, this is an age when humanity is increasingly coming to awareness and application to the primary mental laws. These laws have been around for ages, but now their popularity will grow and expand.
4. In this present age, the body will also take on a greater importance from a spiritual perspective. Areas of study and application will be things like holistic medicine, health and wellness, and specific techniques like yoga, qigong, etc.
If we take an objective look around it is evident that these transformations are already underway. Although progress is uneven, we can see that these changes are happening and it is safe to say that they will continue. One of the primary catalysts for these dramatic transitions into a new level of being is an increased understanding of the mind, what it is, and how it works. A remarkable aspect of this deepening comprehension of our mental functioning is the fact that it is coming from a variety of disciplines including psychology, metaphysics, biology, and physics. The details being revealed are fascinating and somewhat complex. However, we can view the overall parameters of these new insights into our cognitive functioning and how they relate to the emerging post-religious spirituality in a fairly simplistic manner.
We all have within us two seemingly opposing entities. We have our “Small Mind” and our “Sacred Mind.” The small mind is essentially the ego and all its instruments. It is not evil in and of itself, but it can become so self absorbed that its actions can result in evil. The Sacred Mind is that part of us that is intimate with and identical with the incarnated aspect of the Divine Source. Among other things, the Sacred Mind is other-directed, sees the big picture, and is oriented toward love and service.
As humankind develops the capacity to live more consistently from the Sacred Mind, many problems that have haunted the world since earliest times will gradually wane. Does this mean we will live in some sort of spiritual utopia where problems do not exist? No. I suspect we will always have enough problems and difficulties to go around. What I am suggesting is that living from the Sacred Mind will decrease the amount of energy we have to exert to deal with difficulties in life because there will be, overall, a lessening of problems both in scope and magnitude.
So, what other characteristics might we expect from the spiritual unfolding of post-religious culture? What are some of the general trends? I offer the following far from exhaustive list:
Characteristics of Post-Religious Spirituality
It is post-religious in the sense that there is a recognition that genuine spirituality in this era will most likely evolve outside the parameters of traditional systems of faith.
Focused on increased understanding and application of universal spiritual/mental laws.
Seeks to facilitate a decreased dominance of the Small Mind.
Brings about an increased capacity to operate out of Sacred Mind.
Promotes discovery of our true spiritual identity.
Is far more experiential in pursuits and content; less emphasis on conceptual knowledge and doctrine.
As a result of the preceding point, it is oriented toward disciplined spiritual practice.
Pays honor to the reality and the sanctity of “Sacred Silence” and, as a result, is contemplative.
Focused on spiritual growth and the development of Sacred Character.
It is purpose driven (universal and personal).
Exhibits an engaged spirituality that seeks the betterment of life for all beings. In the fullest sense, the post-religious spirituality is “Socio-Spiritual.”
It promotes a deep ecological consciousness, flowing from reverence for and compassion for the planet.
Fosters the spiritual practices of a “Mysticism of Nature.”
Views the body as the Temple of the Spirit and seeks to promote positive health based on holistic practices.
It is at vanguard of the study and application of Energy Healing and working with the Divine Light.
Although community based, it maintains a global focus based on the interconnectivity of all things.
I am well aware that such a dramatic transition will not happen overnight. Further, it can be anticipated that there will be major resistance from the more conservative, fundamentalist fringes of all faith systems. As mentioned earlier, the more Divine Light that is poured into a situation, the deeper and more pronounced the shadows become. Despite this resistance and inertia I anticipate most of the changes discussed here will come about, at least to some degree. And, I am certain there may be other changes on the horizon that we could have never predicted. I know, for example, in my own lifetime these unexpected kinds of changes have occurred. I am now in my late 50’s and as recently as my late 30’s I doubt I could have ever anticipated the manifestation of the Internet and the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Friends, we live in exciting and challenging times. It is my sincere, heart-felt hope and prayer that we do all that we can to help usher in these positive transitions. No doubt, the post-religious world, although it will be far from perfect, will be a major improvement over the “Age of Religion.”
© L.D. Turner 2008/All Rights Reserved