Something Funny Happened on the Way to the Supermarket:
Initiation in the Modern Age
by Patricia Ariadne PhD
The great metaphors from all spiritual traditions — grace, liberation, being born again, awakening from illusion — testify that it is possible to transcend the conditioning of my past and do a new thing.
~Sam Keen, Hymns to an Unknown God
Change Begins Within
In my psychotherapy practice, I see individuals going through life’s most difficult transitions—divorce, death of a loved one, illness and disability, loss of home or job, a broken heart. In the last several years, I have often witnessed how these crises trigger profound transformations of a spiritual nature in people willing to navigate the complex process of spiritual awakening. For my book, Drinking the Dragon: Stories of the Dark Night of Soul, I interviewed people undergoing intensive changes activated by distress and adversity. I believe that what I am seeing is not limited to my own practice but is an indication of a wider cultural trend triggered by environmental, economic, social, and political upheavals.
We can see what is taking place in the wider culture by simply witnessing the deep-seated changes taking place in the persons around us, including relatives, neighbors, and co-workers. Outer trials and tribulations can bring us to our knees, putting us in the frame of mind to question our former life priorities and motivations. When things are at their worst, we begin to ask, “What is life all about? Is there a purpose? Is there meaning in what is happening to me?” It’s clear that if we continue to enjoy the status quo, and all remains well with our world, we rarely begin asking the questions that lead us to ponder our purpose, the seeming inequities of life, and the apparent randomness of events.
It’s possible to see this emerging shift in consciousness in the popular media, particularly in movies, television, and books. This shift can be seen in recent movies that question consensual reality, such as Cloud Atlas, Inception, Sliding Doors, and The Matrix; or in TV shows such as Fringe and FlashForward. In recent years, a smattering of TV shows, such as Joan of Arcadia and Saving Grace, have directly explored the main character’s relationship to God or Source. In some modern fiction, the main character embarks on a journey or quest to find more meaning in life, such as in The Road, Eat Pray Love, and The Alchemist. Read the rest of this entry »