To Be and Not To Be:   Wrestling with the Christian “I Am” and the Buddhist “I Am Not”

Column by Joran Slane Oppelt on 20 February 2020 0 Comments

Modern scientists have discovered what the mystics have known to be true for centuries. Reality is an illusion. Atoms are primarily made of vast regions of empty space, objects are fundamentally non-objects but rather waves and shadow, and there is a continuous energetic exchange happening between you and those around you at all times.

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I often feel isolated, sad and afraid that the world is falling apart and that my grandchildren will not have a world to live in.  And yet, I also feel hope; a feeling that this falling apart is connected somehow to a larger story in which humanity is being guided to change. What are your thoughts on this? How can spirituality guide us through these challenging times?


Dear Fran,

Thank you for sharing your process with us as it feels relevant to me and to what so many are going through right now.  At some level we are all grieving this “falling apart” of ecosystems, education, socio-political systems, the criminal-justice system, religion, community, love etc. etc. These systems are breaking and are broken, the consequences of which are only growing louder.

And yet, it is my belief that these systems need to break down so that we can change them by changing ourselves. There are opportunities arising within this death-rebirth process and we need all hands on deck to help humanity to transition. I too have hope that when things fall apart there is a chance for something more aligned with natural law/life's intelligence to unfold and grow.

I’m happy that you brought up the idea of a larger story that’s inherently good and beautiful and coherent. Exactly! The idea that we are currently between cultural stories, stories about what humanity is here for, has been explored deeply by visionaries such as Thomas Berry, Joseph Campbell and others. Brian Swimme, Matthew Fox, Joanna Macy and others are guides who have helped so many to connect with the cosmic story that’s 13.8 billion years in the making...deepening internally and subjectively while externally diversifying and expanding. I believe that this emerging story has the power to guide us through these trying times as well as spiritual traditions and practices that are now being shared and invented for an awakening culture of changemakers to utilize to cocreate communities that are soulful and nourishing.

~ Skylar Wilson




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