The Journey Continues: Spiritual Seekers – The Next Generation

I recently reconnected with a friend who follows a similar spiritual path to mine.  Both of us are headed to our senior years, with those years considered to be “youthful” very much in our rearview mirrors.  We’ve both expressed concern for the next generation of followers to the paths we follow.  Our brief conversation about this caused some thoughts concerning spirituality and the younger generations to resurface in my mind…and my heart.

If you’ve read any of my “Journey Log” entries, you’ve probably run across the stories of my quest for a spiritual path in my younger days.  Even after finding the path, I had doubts and questions.  There was a thirst for knowledge, understanding that was very intense.  I was a Seeker, with many questions, looking for someone with the answers.

Now after 38 years on the path, my questions have taken a different turn.  Has that spiritual thirst I experienced diminished or died in later generations?  Have all the earnest Seekers disappeared?  Where are the sincere, dedicated torchbearers for the next generations of spirituality in the many different spiritual traditions?

I guess my concerns come from the recognition that, as I stated last time, we are at a vibrational crossroads.  It’s even more than that though.  Because, as a whole, we seem to be forgetting who we really are, later generations seem, in large part, to want no part of the spiritual side of life.  Is it the dogma and/or the apparent hypocrisy of some paths that has turned today’s youth away from the quest of finding that part of them that is spiritual?  Or is it just that we, the older generations, have forgotten who and what we are and, therefore,  have failed to pass that wisdom onto them?

I am reminded of a beautiful, meaningful passage written by the U.N. Environmental Sabbath Program decades ago:

We have forgotten who we are
We have alienated ourselves from the unfolding of the cosmos
We have become estranged from the movements of the Earth
We have turned our backs on the cycles of life.

We have forgotten who we are.

We have sought only our own security
We have exploited simply for our own ends
We have distorted our knowledge
We have abused our power.

We have forgotten who we are.

Now the land is barren
And the waters are poisoned
And the air is polluted.

We have forgotten who we are.

Now the forests are dying
And the creatures are disappearing
And humans are despairing.

We have forgotten who we are.

We ask forgiveness
We ask for the gift of remembering
We ask for the strength to change.

We have forgotten who we are.

It brings me to tears every time I read this.  Not just because we have forgotten who we are, not just because we have failed in our stewardship of this planet, but because the knowledge of who we really are has now failed to be passed on to future generations – at least it appears that way to me.

Even with all that I’ve stated, it’s very hard for me to believe that, out there in the world, there have ceased to be those who, in their teens and twenties, have questioned, “Is this all there is?” and begun a similar quest to my own and others to find what the missing pieces are to life.  After all, we are all individual, unique pieces of the Creative Force seeking to learn and understand Itself through the experience of Life.  Being inquisitive is natural to us.  Why else would there be those who seek to explore outer space or the microscopic worlds and so much more?  Like them, there are those who seek to explore inner space…the spiritual.

Am I saying that only those who seek out and become part of a spiritual path find the answers to their questions of spirituality?  No.  Actually, there are some who need solitude to achieve that journey inward to find their spiritual essence.  For most of us though, because we are communal in nature and both need and enjoy what a group experience can offer, finding others who share the same spiritual philosophies can aid in our quest.

In “Journey Log – Day 19: The Needs of the One and the Many”, I wrote the following:
“To be part of any group, spiritual or mundane, should be a give-and-take relationship on everyone’s part.  Where spiritual groups are especially concerned, the experience should be uplifting and self-empowering.  Whatever leaders there are in the group should not only be looking to train you in their practices and beliefs, but be assisting you to empower yourself and encouraging you to be a participating, active member of the group.   You should be encouraged to ask questions and expect valid answers.  You should also receive as much respect as you are asked to give to the heads of this group.  You should never accept being mistreated or made to feel worthless.  No one should become part of any group, spiritual or mundane, where they are expected to follow blindly and/or timidly wherever the leaders of the group choose to lead them.”

There’s more to it than that even.   I recognize that, in today’s world, many of the doctrines, tenets and practices of the major religions have been found, by the younger generations to be less than satisfying.  Looking at their elders, the youth of today see that many don’t “practice what they preach” or spin it to fit a particular situation, event, or group of people.  They often see hypocrisy wherever they look and walk away, wanting no part of it.  Who could blame them?

I say to them, take the people – the practitioners – out of the equation and look deeply, sincerely at the tenets and doctrines of this spiritual path as it was meant by those who were the founders of the faith.  At the core of the majority of positive spiritual paths, you should find unconditional love and the desire to lead you back to Spirit.

There IS  a difference between spirituality and religion.  You can be spiritual without being part of any particular religious path.  There’s nothing wrong with that.   But there are those of us who need the discipline of the tenets and practices of that path to help us achieve spiritual awakening.  There’s nothing wrong with that either.   So why does it seem that the younger generations have turned their backs on spirituality for the most part?

Is it that word “discipline”?  I know, even in my generation, it often only brings to mind punishment and that leaves a very bad taste in one’s mouth.  The truth is discipline comes from the word “disciple” and means “one who accepts and follows a teacher or a doctrine”.   Within the learning and training of any spiritual path lies the opportunity and possibility for freedom.  “Freedom from what?” you might ask.  Freedom from the burdens piled upon us by the illusion of this reality and the unfortunate lies perpetuated by others who know no better.  Freedom to touch the core of who and what you truly are – a spiritual being having a human experience.

Is it possible that the younger generations, having seen most of their elders fail so miserably at spirituality, have decided it’s just not worth it?  It takes too much effort?  Do they believe it takes away their freedom and independence?  I don’t know.  Once again, I have more questions than answers.  What I do know is that it bothers me on many levels.

Whether you believe anything of importance is going to happen on December 21st of this year or not, you should be concerned that we have forgotten who we are and, by forgetting, we have failed to pass on some of the most important information of our very existence to those who come after us.  The good news is that there is time.  Time for us to remember and become; time to help others find their way; time to find and inspire those who will carry the torches of our many faiths forward into the future of our humanity and this planet.

To any out there – young or old – I say, “I carry a candle of enlightenment with me always.  Bring your candle, I will share my light and we will chase the darkness from our world.” (Author Unknown)

In Light & Love,
Blessed Be

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