Think revolutions were a thing of the past – think again

There is a spiritual revolution under way in the West –  a idealist counter cultural rebellion against the rise of acute materialism, inhumanity, planetary and economic abuse. It’s a revolution driven from the trenches, from the depths of the community spirit, where little by little, each one of us is realising that this soulless shell we call society has been running on empty for decades – devoid of any real meaning or substance.  Humanity is suffering deeply and is beginning to realise little by little that our planet and every living creature on it, needs to restore itself, not with another political ideology, but from inside, deep down at its very core. A core which is perhaps beyond the capacity of our human mind to grasp yet forms the invisible essence of our human experience.

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing Arundhati Roy

Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing
Arundhati Roy

This revolution has been sparked in many places as individuals begin to craft their own response to the burgeoning interest in the reality of spirit and its healing effects on life, health, business and community spirit. Cultural issues have certainly shaped its existence but science too has also played a major part having undergone its own revolution in the last 150 years which has begun to restore credibility to the previously condemned mystical notions of existence.  Discoveries in quantum theory, epigenetics, and field theory are all putting pay the ideals and values of Newtonian physics which encouraged us to view life as a predictable automated process and individuals as a sort of machine.  The new science has demonstrated that we are not just useless clods of flesh and bone aimlessly wandering the planet, but that we, and it, are all somehow connected by an invisible field of energy. What happens in one part of the field, affects another whether we know it or not.  These discoveries are forcing us to review our concepts of life, society and progress while we also endeavour to preserve the advances in technology that we’ve made in our journey to this point.

As a result, our spiritual lives are no longer the concern of a specific religious group – the revolution is affecting everyone: religious or irreligious, atheist or agnostic. The call to awaken and search more deeply for answers is spreading like a virus, thrusting us into a completely new social situation- one where the world of spirit is making a new and extraordinary come back. We are seeing evidence of it in many walks of life – the flourishing natural health market for instance, environmental concerns and a renewed appreciation for the arts.  But more intensely, we are seeing it in the spiritual feelings of many young people who are recognising with some desperation that society as it stands holds little optimism for a bright future and that an awareness of spirit somehow holds the key to future survival and a way out of their disoriented malaise.

However, a revolution of this size poses quite a problem for society because it strikes me that none of our public institutions are really equipped to deal with the cry for spiritual meaning.  It may take many years before any mainstream institutions in health, education or science are able to even understand what’s going on let alone design a solution. How then do we deal with the interest of a disenchanted public on a mass scale?  From my own tussles with stress and depression as I tried to make sense of the world, it was seemingly impossible to find a therapist that could discuss the bigger picture of life with me and make sense out of the calamities that I was experiencing.  I had to embark on a very lonely journey of my own.  So, there seems to be a great glaring gap between professionals who are trained in traditional methods of coaching and psychology and the much wider soul searching community who are no longer content with bog standard answers to the difficulties of human life.

Leaders from Western orthodox churches aren’t able to answer questions about the new spirituality of our time because they only acknowledge the conventional ideas of standard religion.  And as there are so many different facets to the new spiritual revolution, our religious leaders do not know how to make the vast number of connections necessary to create a cohesive picture which makes spiritual sense in 2013.  Up to now there has been incredible suspicion and resistance to anything ‘spiritual’ which falls outside of mainstream religion, and a tendency to lump it all into a single ‘New Age’ bucket where it can be summarily swept under the carpet.  And how can any of us argue against that?  As we don’t really have a clue about our non-material spiritual existence we can’t call their actions ‘discriminatory’ because we don’t know how to structure an argument to prove what they might be discriminating against.

tsunamiIt may be fair to assume that the spiritual revolution is in fact part of the ‘new age’ movement, but I think it’s bigger than that.  The new age movement has certainly grown in leaps and bounds over the last 20 – 30 years, but sadly, it’s becoming increasingly commercialised. I’d even go as far to suggest that it is being used to exploit the enormous public interest in all things spiritual rather than providing a meaningful solution to it. Besides, there’s a lot of ‘dross’ out there.  When the yearnings for spiritual connection, meaning and understanding have been dammed up for centuries, one can only really expect a Tsunami of information to come bursting through the cracks when the dam finally breaks.  And any Tsunami contains mountains of misinformation along with true nuggets of meaning. We have to sift our way carefully through a deluge of stuff before truth begins to find its way into our eagerly outstretched hands. When one is desperately searching for their place in the world and a firm footing upon which to take their next tender steps forward, they are vulnerable to commercial manipulation.  Many new age organisations and groups seek to capitalise on the enormous shifts that are taking place, so we have to be alert at every possible twist in the path for violations and distortions of the spiritual impulse.

To add fuel to the fire, there are many people who say that society is deluded with all this airy fairy nonsense about spirituality. In my humble opinion, we have repressed too much of our ancient past and spiritual heritage. In our modern day materialist ignorance, we imagine that we’ve outgrown matters of the soul and spirit and see them as archaic and relative only to an earlier less sophisticated and more superstitious society. So is it any wonder then, that when the yearning for something deeper erupts within us, we don’t know how to respond, react or determine what is true what is false, what is wisdom and what is superstition, what is noble and what an aberration.  So much of the real truth has been misrepresented or destroyed throughout history – it’s difficult to know where to start our search in earnest.

And this is the reason why so many people give up before they’ve even started which just adds to the problem.  During times of great turmoil, many people are the victims of drastic changes that threaten the fabric of their very existence.  When we have our reality turned upside down we tend to cling fervently to outdated notions of sanity and order in one of two ways.  The first, is by closing down completely, becoming robotic, immunising ourselves from further attack by blocking out any emotion that we may encounter by shutting out the world.  The second is to succumb depressive tendencies as we begin to see through the lies fed to us by modern day life and realise there is little to be happy about in the future.  So spirituality in my book, is not just a ‘nice to have’ it’s a major social issue which requires immediate attention if we are to deal with the spiralling outbreaks of cancer, depression, suicide , addictions and psychological malady that litters our workplaces,  clogs up the GP’s waiting rooms and stifles hospital wards.

Without doubt, we are at an awkward point in history. More than ever we need spiritual guidance but we are stuck between a materialistic world which is stripping the life out of our planet and an outmoded religious system which we cannot fully embrace.  We also have a plethora of counsellors and natural health providers who are still grappling with their own spiritual identity and are unable to truly offer meaningful guidance to others. So a birth of something new has to take place, and a birth of any kind is never going to be straightforward.  It’s up to each and every one of us to change the myths and stories that we live by and the internal dialogue that keeps us stuck. We must reinvent for ourselves, a new kind of ‘normal ‘ where the spirit and soul can be embraced once again in the common understanding of what it means to be human. Each one of us needs to take matters into our own hands by questioning everything and refusing to be told what to think or believe. But it also means taking personal responsibility for finding answers that makes sense to us.

Embracing the spiritual revolution is also about finding the sacred in everything and not just where we’ve been conditioned to look. It means seeing the world as a kind of laboratory, where we start to use the direct experience of life to help us make sense of it.  This includes engaging with aspects of life that were previously considered unholy, like the world of work, – our business life is after all, where we spend the vast majority of our day.   I think we each need to learn to observe the world, look into not at, and come up with our own creative theories based on observation and extrapolation which we can test against our own experiences and inner truth. From my own experience, I can safely say that not all of this investigation is happy, meaningful or profitable.  Today, artificial quick fix formulas, escapism, fake gurus, charismatic new age leaders, false prophets surround us.  It’s hard for the sincere seeker to plot a successful course through the pitfalls and dangers of the spiritual landscape, which is one of the reasons why it would be wonderful if public institutions would pick up the dialogue in the spirit of which it is intended without trying to control it or manipulate it into another religious dogma.

My sincere wish is that we can reach behind the materialistic veneer of the world and the clashing religious or fundamentalist ideologies that threaten to destroy us and access a mystical source from which all belief systems emerge. One where we might find a spiritual wisdom that transform us from within which is centred on peace and compassion and deep understanding about life and our role within it. It is only by discovering our own inner mystic that we can access the life giving currents that flow beneath our troubled world, offering us an opportunity for healing and renewal.




About Caroline Ravenall

Caroline is former head of sales and marketing in Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic Airways in South Africa, turned leadership coach, speaker, author , and scholar of mythology and philosophy! She is an inspirational speaker with a pioneering spirit and is passionate about helping individuals and organisations reconnect with their spiritual values through leveraging the power of myth and storytelling in culture, leadership and life.

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