“There are two great days in a person’s life—the day we are born and the day we discover why.” ~William Barclay
In reading Ralph White’s beautifully written memoir, the Jeweled Highway: On the Quest for a Life of Meaning, I know we have shared a journey. Though, I may never walk the high peaks of the Andes staring down at the ancient temples in Machu Picchu. Or traverse the mountains between China and Tibet on a secret mission for the Oracle of Tibet. I too, have been on a quest for meaning in my life, even if the circumstances and events are far different. I wasn’t alive during the sixties and seventies, having to face a highly contested war or live through the thick grittiness of the Industrial Revolution. But where our stories converge is that we are both seekers.
Even from a very young age, I knew there was more to life than what was being asked of me. The formula of growing up, getting a college education, settling down, having kids and working until you can retire. Hopefully saving enough time and money by that point to do the things you really want to do. There seemed to me something so shallow in that existence. Why break the glass ceilings or send your child off to fight wars if all we are called to do is follow a formula based on consumption and the illusion of perpetual growth?
As a child, I was obsessed with the 60’s. Even though I never stepped one foot in that decade. To me, the 60’s were about our potential. The struggles, the war, and the challenges were all there, but there was a level of engagement. It seemed to me that people felt compelled to participate in the conversation. This engagement permeated every part of the popular culture. It was out of this era that the Human Potential Movement came to be. There was this belief that we could cultivate and develop our untapped potential. And it was through this endeavor that we could experience levels of creativity and purpose that could inspire meaningful social change for the society at large.
I know that it is illusory to think that we can go back and perhaps even harmful to romanticize an era from our past. For if we look at nature, there isn’t a single organism on this earth that devolves. There never was a ‘good ole days’. There was a perception a preferable worldview. So instead of harkening back to some past time, that in truth only exists in our minds. We must look at what was it about the experience that seems so appealing. For me, and the 60’s, it is the palpable feel of potential that existed. On one hand, there seems to be such complacency in this world. We have many ways to engage and be connected and sometimes I feel we are so separated. However, I feel like the dichotomy between our global and social awakening and mindless consumerism is coming to a head. I can feel the stirrings of potential again. This is perfectly exemplified by the 2016 election here in the United States. People are looking for something different. People are ready to join the conversation.
In physics, potential is the stored energy of an object. We have so much within us that is just waiting to be unleashed. But it can’t seek its full expression without the search for purpose. Our potential is found on the quest for meaning. So it seems to me that there are no better conversations to be had out here on the brink than how to bring our soul into society. Figuring out where those two things converge. In a time where we face some major hurdles around the caring and feeding of our global population, the health and healing of our planet and fighting of ideological wars. Each of us needs to contemplate why they are here and how they can contribute in a meaningful way.
Listen in and join the discussion as Ralph White, the cofounder of the New York Open Center shares with us the importance of finding meaning in life in a hyper-consumeristic society. We explore the pertinent challenges we are facing and how we can re-enliven our communities to take committed action. We also explore how the current political climate is a result of a populous that is ready for a paradigm shift.
About the Guest
Ralph White is co-founder of the New York Open Center, the leading urban center of holistic learning in America, and author of the highly regarded new memoir,The Jeweled Highway: On the Quest for a Life of Meaning. A pioneer of the consciousness movement, he has directed a twenty one year conference series known as Esoteric Quests on rediscovering the lost spiritual history of the West, the latest of which will be A Quest for the Mysteries of the North in Iceland www.esotericquest.org. He also directs The Art of Dying Conferences which explore spiritual, scientific and practical approaches to living and dying with leading presenters from the world of medicine, nursing, science and spirituality. He edited the award winning Lapis magazine and taught the first accredited course in holistic learning at New York University. Born in Wales, his life has placed him at the center of the cultural change toward a more holistic, ecological and spiritual society that has grown enormously throughout the country over the last thirty years. He is also the founder of the International Gathering of Holistic Centers, an annual meeting of leading learning and retreat centers that come together in a spirit of mutual support and transparency to discuss their work of bringing positive transformation to our culture. Finally, he edited and introduced the anthology, The Rosicrucian Enlightenment Revisited.
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