In The Absence of God

“Spiritual renewal involves a radical change in identity, worldview, and lifestyle that can only blossom where solitude and silence allow us to listen to the still, small voice of G-d that is usually drowned out by the voices and the values of our culture.  Since culture makes addicts of us all, we must undergo a period of separation from the familiar before we can discover the sources of our uniqueness.  An old Zen Koan captures the difference between our cultural and our essential self with the seemingly nonsensical question “What was your face like before you were born?” Long before we arrive at the age of consent, culture superimposes a mask on our original face.  We are indoctrinated and informed by the religion, ideology, myths, values and organizing narratives of our parents and peers.   In varying degrees, good citizens are sleepwalkers, unconsciously immersed in consensus reality, unquestioningly obedient to the story told by recognized cultural author-ities.


Separation from destructive secular values and addictive behaviors is the beginning of a spiritual 12-step program to break our addiction to the status quo – the unexamined religious myths and cultural narratives of our time – and to rehabilitate our capacity for experiencing the sacred nature of daily life.”

~ Sam Keen, In the Absence of God: Dwelling in the Presence of the Sacred

I know this decoupling from mainstream myths and values isn’t easy and it’s often frightening. It can lead to extreme doubt, distress and depression because we are indoctrinated to believe we can’t find wisdom in our own experience, and we must blindly trust the wisdom of others. And if we don’t, we’ll be banished (literally or psychologically/emotionally) from our “pack”.  This banishment is almost worse than death, so most people find it extremely hard to even consider making the first step towards the path that would lead to their liberation.

We are conditioned to believe we can’t rely on our own experience as teacher. We are conditioned to believe we can’t glean wisdom borne out of our own trial and error and from walking away from the noise of our cultural conditioning.  But like Dorothy and her companions sleeping among the poppies, we are tricked by our culture to be fast asleep, too, and offered plenty of medications to keep us that way.

But it’s time to awaken from our slumber.  It’s time to begin the difficult and often extremely painful journey of self re-discovery of who we really were before others shaped us into their images of us.

If I am not who they say I am, then who am I really?  This question can lead one to a great sense of fear, confusion and vertigo as the ground beneath one’s feet, one’s very foundation, starts shifting.

It’s time to seek the sacred nature of everyday life, because without the sense of sacredness, it’s all too easy to fall into the habit of using and abusing everything that comes into our path.

And just how do we do that?

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“The great autobiographical explorers become our guides and companions as we share their intimate experiences of suffering, anxiety, hope, freedom and destiny. They tell us: Go alone into the wilderness. Be leisurely. Stop, look and listen. Confront your demons and welcome your nightmares. Know little, treasure your doubts. Discover your story. Learn to love the questions. Quiet the mind and the tongue.”

~ Sam Keen, In the Absence of God: Dwelling in the Presence of the Sacred

About Casey

“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes ‘Awww!’ ~ Jack Kerouac, On The Road Again
This entry was posted in depression, Good Reads, Inspirational quotations, Mindfulness, Sacred Teachings, Sam Keen, Seeking the sacred, Soul, Spiritual Teacher, spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

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