I have stopped dialoguing. Once a debater and conversationalist, I have retrieved into silence. I have become an implacable censor of myself. I hide in my mind, where I find some solace and security. I’m afraid to say anything. I feel watched. Observed. One wrong word out of my mouth could send me to the gallows of cancellation.
The search for truth agonizes. Whoever shouts louder owns the narrative. Facts became illusions. And evidence mere distortions. As we celebrate the right to say, “That’s the way I see it,” we have lost any grounds to rest our fragmented Selfs.
How do we live our lives when the relative has become an absolute?
I have joined the many, as studies show, who have recently returned to organized religion. For a while, I prayed in my sanctuary of solitude. But about two months ago, I found myself in a congregation. Reflecting on that transition, I returned to organized religion, searching for a community where the Self is not the measure of all things. While seated in the sanctuary every sabbath, I received the Scriptures as a gift. I long for a message that whispers into my ears, “I’m a wisdom from beyond.” In that exercise of Kabbalah (receiving), I discover my limits. Uttering words of praise, I recognize rather than impose. I serve rather than achieve. I surrender by pronouncing words I have not written but inherited. I succumb to wonder as an antidote to the illusion of the maximum Self.
Yes, I get some truths and moral guidance from religion. “All people are created equal.” “Do not place a stumbling block before the blind.” However, the ultimate gift of religion, for me, is not a specific truth but the very acknowledgment that there is a sphere of existence that transcends me, that there is a Beyond. And that in the search for it, we declare our inadequacies. The truth will matter again when we realize we don’t have it. And that’s what religion means to me.
Revelation is true but not absolute. That distinguishes it from ideologies and fundamentalism. I dance between human discovery and evolution on the one hand and guiding principles and truth on the other. Evidence, facts, aspirations, and inspirations are involved. I apply doubt at every development step, knowing I respond to something larger than myself.
In his “Apology of Wonder,” the philosopher San Keen observes that ancient Greeks and Hebrews shared a fundamental belief. Both believed in an objective realm of existence, leading and inspiring us. The Greeks lived according to the rhythm of the cosmos, and the Hebrews according to a revelation—different paths united by the recognition of something objective beyond the Self. Philosophy, science, and religion hold hands in affirming the objectively valid, rooted in nature, the mind, history, or revelations. The crime of postmodernity is having murdered the objective. Through that crime, we became orphans of transcendence.
Youth and the Universities Disaster
Orphans of transcendence, our youth, have fallen into ideological abysses. Thirsty for something valid and lasting in a world empty of truths, they uncritically grab a cause. They experience meaning deprivation. I feel their pain and disorientation. When, in the name of the Self, we castrated religion, the gates of meaning narrowed. Politics and ideology substituted critical thinking, piety, and the search for the transcendent. Fortunately, the return by many to wisdom belief systems may serve as an alternative to the ideological war. As we hope for universities to steer back into the path of debate and the search for truth, we may consider living according to those old beliefs that foster humility as much as empowerment and servitude as much as self-realization.
Oh! Let me run to the cleaners. I need to pick up my white shirt for tomorrow’s services.