I was in a health food store recently and couldn’t help but overhear one of the owners speaking passionately to a customer. “Let’s face it,” he said. “The world is on the edge of going stark raving mad!”
Indeed, one need not look far to conclude that the world is faced with a number of seri-ous challenges. At this time we are in a global recession. Millions of people are losing their jobs, their homes, their health care benefits, their retirement funds, their patience, and, in many cases, their hope. Corporate executives are walking off with multimillion-dollar bonuses while those they employ go into retirement penniless due to misguided management driven by greed. The United States is fighting one war after another against rogue nations that work feverishly to destroy us.
In addition, we need only look as far as our own living rooms to be frightened out of our wits at life itself. The proliferation of television broadcast channels has brought the reporting of tragedy into the sanctity of our homes 24-7. Each network makes every attempt to gain the competitive edge through well-calculated sensationalism aimed at pro-moting fear, gore, sex, drugs, explosions, scams, corruption, impending storms, crashes, shootings, and more of the same. Every conceivable strategy is utilized to whip viewers into near panic regarding what has happened, is happening, or might happen to threaten their basic securities.
Then add in the brilliance of today’s marketing gurus with their tools and abilities to exploit basic human instincts and needs with Madison Avenue strategies. The airwaves are bombarded with every gizmo and gadget, every food and beverage, every pharmaceutical and cosmetic, every insurance package and health care plan that promise to bring us happiness. Through these advertisements the message is conveyed again and again that we are only one purchase away from nailing down the security we are repeatedly led to believe is in serious jeopardy.
In short, we live in a cultural schizophrenia of sorts. We are caught in a perpetual state of tension between the media reminding us of the constant dangers we live in, and the ad-vertising industry pushing products at us as the secret to finding the happiness we seek. Deep down we all know that consuming more doesn’t bring us lasting joy. The truth is that the more we get the more we want, because the more we get the more the cravings of our souls go unanswered. In this state of material richness yet Spiritual emptiness, people are hurting, asking tough questions, and seeking answers. Something is clearly missing, and we must seek new answers that befit the times.
The answers are there. But if we are to find them, we must look in the right places. Predominantly we have sought happiness and hope externally—in things, in relationships, in food and drink, in money and possessions. As a species we have turned over many stones trying to find the elixir of life, a peace that passes understanding, the secret that would fill our souls.
But finding the answers outside ourselves is precisely the opposite of what every major religion and the great Spiritual Masters taught. Jesus said that the kingdom of God— and the peace, love, and joy that are part of that kingdom—are within. Buddha taught that all beings are imbued with a spark of inner divine light. The Jewish mystics use similar words when they speak of the inner spark or the spark of God. The Koran talks about our Spiritual search for divine or sacred light. By cultivating our inner core, we search for this light in ourselves. For Hindus true reality lies within. The ultimate level of the transcendental state is pure awareness, in which we find Spiritual enlightenment. And in Tao-ism, to find God one must follow an individual path that comes from within.
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A note is due here about the difference between religion and Spirituality. “Religion” is an organized system of beliefs, rites, and celebrations. It is based on faith in an absolute set of truths centered around a powerful supernatural being that is to be worshipped and obeyed. “Spirituality,” on the other hand, is related to “Spirit,” which is the vital principle or animating force believed to be within all living beings. Spirit is that in which we live and move and have our being.
When we go inside ourselves to discover the nature of Spirit, we are in effect launching an expedition in search of our source through self-awareness. We are looking within to explore what causes our anguish and suffering in order to free ourselves from it. Like Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth, Spirituality is about a journey to the cen-ter of our being.
The entry point into that world is one’s “self,” that is, one’s sense of “I”-ness, who “I” am. The word “I” is derived from the Latin word ego, so a journey into “I” is a journey into ego. When you go there you will find that most, if not all, of our dissatisfaction and suffering can be traced directly or indirectly to ego. Once you fully understand how and why this is true, then and only then are you ready to go beyond the ego into the world of Spirit where the peace and happiness you seek can truly be found.
This book is a road map to help you discover the truths embodied in the Spiritual traditions of nearly every world religion, but without the dogma and rituals that tend to mask them. They are the hidden secrets that lay within you the reader, and within all of human-kind. They lie dormant and are waiting to be awakened. For in their awakening we discover the solution to our personal, communal, and global troubles. We find the truth—the “light”—we all seek, the salvation from our errors, the liberation from the bonds of sorrow and suffering, and the freedom to be peaceful and happy souls.
Our search must take us into a place we don’t normally go, but this is the only place where the answers can be found. That place is “within,” and going there is a journey into the realm of the ego in order to get beyond it.