In order that what I'm saying in this post would make sense, one needs to know what I mean by illusion versus reality. You need to postulate, that ultimately human beings are not just limited physical beings, but limitless beings of love. Limited existance here on Earth would thus be a sort of illusion. A lot of people tend to dismiss experience on this level as "only illusion", however. I rather promote a paradox which allows for this reality to hold a quality of "reality" as well. Really what I mean is that they are two sides of the same coin. I can't go into that in detail now since I have other things in mind, but this is the starting point.
Most people really want to live in lala-land. Which is perfectly understandable, since no one wants to suffer. While poverty and misery may help some in understanding deeper truths about life, it's not a virtue and really causes more negativity in the world. The well-to-do don't always realize it just as they don't realize a lot of things that compromises their comfort in the present moment, but their reluctance to take action to help change things will eventually creep up on them. Well, in many countries the rich are already living in their highly protected residences and the nature of the problem is pretty obvious to the onlooker, however in the Nordic countries this scenario hasn't quite hit home yet.
The smorgasbord kind of religion or spirituality that the New Age is, is particularly attractive to the Western middle class. The reasons are surely obvious; these people have the luxury to sit and ponder the meaning of their individual success on all levels of life and have the means to do research in order to find the particular tailored spiritual brand that suits them the best. They have the money to participate in all kinds of specialized workshops and seminars. Because their lives are already reasonably affluent, they can imagine a sort of paradise on Earth rather than in the after life. There's nothing wrong with all this, but we need to keep Maslow's hierarchy of needs in mind. There are plenty of people who don't have access to this sort of spirituality. They are stuck in the kind that is offered by their particular environment and limited to spending only a minimal amount of time and energy to pondering the deeper meaning of their belief system. They usually also don't have the education to understand the value of questioning social and/or religious authorities. I'm only saying this because it's easy to forget the 90% of the population who are really poor and unpriviliged. If you don't belong to this group, you tend not to want to know about it, because it's a threat to a sense of security that may nontheless not have much basis in reality. I'm not saying that there aren't some New Agey sort of people who have a real grip on things and also find a sense of security in an honest and true relationship with the "higher dimensions" or Source or whatever you wish to call it. However, I'm not so sure there are that many. Most people are really just enclosed in their safeguarded residences where they can share their visions as well as illusions with likeminded people.
Who am I to make this sort of judgment call? Well, one reason is that there have been very few people who have been able to make a real difference in my own life. I've had to find out the hard way that most people around really are very "middle class" regardless whether they are ordinary agnostics-or-atheist-or-passive Christians or "consciously spiritual"-or-New Age-or-Buddhist - these are the groups that I've been in touch with personally so I won't venture to talk about people with other forms of belief systems. It means that in general they love the comfy clichés and stereotypes that they can resort to in order to make it seem as if life is under control. Of course, clichés exist because there's a hint of truth in them, albeit they have frozen into a mold that is applied on all and sundry. These people love handing out advice about other people's attitudes, because that way they feel that they are under no obligation to actually do anything concrete. Whether people like to preach about a subjective form of spirituality according to which people have only their own bad attitude to blame for their misery or whether they just like to blame others in general, the burden of other people's suffering is always pushed away from themselves. They don't want to get their hands dirty so by talking about "attitude" rather than real life problems, they can live with the illusion that they are doing something good in the world. Of course, not all people are only doing this, some actually do also act on occasion. But in that case it's mostly for money. Few want to risk their sense of physical security.
What I'm describing here is really quite a nice life, and it allows for plenty of theories that continue to keep the illusions going. For instance, people love Tolle's "Power of Now". While what he presents are old viewpoints that have been said many times before, it's really quite a comfortable attitude that can lull you into believing that no concrete action needs to be taken. And I also wonder how to tell this attitude apart from the hedonistic attitude about living the here and now without concern for consequences? While I can sense the difference, I wonder if everyone can. Self-help authors usually become popular only if they offer a confirmation that a comfortable life style really is quite okay and you don't really need to sacrifice any of it for other people. So where does it leave us? Well, people may be finding personal fulfillment but how long does it last? If people were really present in the Now they wouldn't look to 2012 for changes, but act on the problems that exist right now. Again I'm sure there are people who understand all this, I'm just worried about the others... and I'm also concerned that narcissism is getting the better of people.
In reality, not many are there for other people. Even mother Theresa is said to have been a fake. It's amazing how many people buy into the myth about her without questioning whether it's true or not. So you only have yourself in the end. I know, it sounds like a cliché. But what I want to say is that the image people have of the sole survivor and the strong individual who survives all of life's adversities like a true hero is bullshit. People just don't want to look at misery and acknowledge that not all endings are happy endings. If they did, the illusion about their own comfort would be challenged. Now I personally don't want to watch movies that have unhappy endings, it really is distressing. So I understand this tendency in human beings. Problems arise when denial is on all the time and people can't really tell fiction from reality. Of course, the more overwhelming misery in the world is getting, the more people will want to be in denial. All this is normal but problematic nonetheless. One does wonder if this particular nightmare will ever end?
What is the cure for this state of affairs? Some would say "ascension" and I can't really rebuke that in any way. I just think it's a bit funny that some wait for divine intervention while they cross their hands. Whatever the case may be, it seems to me there really is only one way of really getting in touch with reality, and that is learning about life the hard way. As a spiritual person, you may think that you understand the deeper issues of life and understand that this 3D reality is not "reality" but an illusion, however only when they get so painful and tormenting that you can absolutely not doubt their realness, then you actually learn something. Understanding that life without love is an illusion is one thing, but seeing that its opposite is every bit as real is in my opinion to have a real understanding of things. As I have always pleaded, it's about paradoxes. You can't sit in your residence like an armchair philosopher and understand what life is really about by thinking about it only. It just doesn't work. Of course love is important, but I see it more as a complement rather than a cure-all (strategy and action "male style" is every bit as valid in this reality as the exchange of positive vibes "female style"). So even if you know that what you're going through is an illusion (and really you're bloody fortunate if you do), if it doesn't feel absolutely real all the same you are not "getting it". When I realized this I understood why all my negative feelings are valid. They are the simple result of the fact that one's life's struggle appears so very freaking real that one feesl like killing oneself (not saying I will but only that the deeper into the "illusion" you go, the more it hurts and the more you want out of it at any price). You get that close to self-destruction not because you are living a negative illusion of life, but because it torments and haunts you more than anything you could ever imagine in an armchair in a comfortable residence or a totally different dimension. Honouring the fact that your spirit has agreed to limit itself so much that this experience has become possible is surely the first step towards a really useful enlightenment. And who knows, many an "enlightened" spirit may be walking around without having any means of proving that they actually are. While we do need to strive towards a happier outlook on life, the experience of many negative feelings may sometimes be a doorway to a deeper understanding of the problems that other people are experiencing. If nothing else, it helps you take action rather than remain a dull preacher. And of course, ultimately an experience is just an experience. What's the use of hell if nobody goes there, eh? ;-)
Artwork: Digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009