What is it about religion today that has so many people tuning out, leaving the practices that they grow up with? Why do we distrust our government and institutions? Where can we begin to rebuild our trust in life, the world, and our neighbors around the corner or on the other side of the world?
It may be prosaic to say that we have to start at the beginning and that it all has to do with a matter of perspective. But here we are in the beginning, the starting place, our birth "in to this world". "In to this world", the phrase seems to convey the dearth of our modern condition. Did we really come from somewhere to here? Is there really the subtle separation that this phrase implies? Even such trivial turns of phrase can come to define our relationship with the world or even the universe as something that exists outside of our skin or the borders our individual minds.
Before birth, there is only the wholeness. In the moments after, we find ourselves awash in experience, light and sound, cool air and warm hands. This is the beginning of our awareness. As days pass into weeks and months, those around us are speaking to us and we develop the first sense of "I" and other. Our awareness of the world grows and part of that growth is language. Terence McKenna relates a story of baby laying in her crib. A window is open in the nursery and bird flies in. The baby with her eyes wide, takes in this flurry of sound and color and vibrance as her mother says to her "bird, baby, its bird." And just like that, a tile is placed over that experience. Bird.
And so on, the world around us and the world within us, all of our experiences, are tiled over with language, meaning, and belief. This is the crux of our dilemma, as we mature, our minds subsume physical, mental, and emotional experiences, integrating them as a matrix of symbols. As the veneer expands and hardens, we are gradually insulated from direct experience.
But we all have the great fortune, from time to time, to see the cracks or have pieces fall away. When we are in love or in the depths of pain, when plans go wildly sideways, our perspective shifts and for a while the world is new. There can be a glimpse of limitless possibility and freedom beyond the story of our life.
This glimpse is the beatific vision, the kingdom of God, the present moment. Whatever it may be called, there have been people that have recognized its significance as a path to healing a world shattered into a billion "I's", each trapped in the mosaic clad halls of their minds. These people, who we might call mystics, inspire through their lives all of the great teachings and wisdom that transform into the canon of religion, became the foundations of the institutions and governments we can no longer bring ourselves to trust.
On the surface it is a tragic irony, that oppression should arise from liberation. We feel this unsettling loss of the core human experience; elucidated ad nauseum, codified in opaque canon, and inflicted as dissonant belief systems. We hear it in the rhetoric that is spewed from podiums of contrived authority promoting action incongruent with the ideals that underpin their platform. We see masses of people who, enamored of the theater and ritual of human affairs, are losing ownership of their personal experiences, especially those glimmering chinks in the mosaic.
But this is only the surface. Within, the human potential is ever roiling, scouring the walls and ready to break through. This loss of the mystic vision is not an end, it is the stroke reigniting the human spirit that brings us back to our senses so that we can discovery the world anew. It is this flow into exploration that delivers us from the myriad structures of belief and the stagnation they too often engender.
Redemption of life as it lives through us for the casting off of the world we were born in to.