Problems of our time

She's grown up to be really considerate of other people

If we could grow up to become really considerate of other people, we could overcome the challenges of our time. It is this we lack, more than money or technology.

Modern technology and economics have certainly made life easier for billions of people. But the challenges we face now in the 21st century are mainly challenges of the mind. I don’t mean necessarily insanity and such, although of course mental health problems are widespread and very troubling. Rather I mean what we might call “spiritual problems”, although they should be obvious even to those who don’t believe in spirit. Perhaps we could call them “problems of attitude”?

The error of our times is to try to fix attitude problems with technology, economics or legislation. I will not say that these are entirely ineffective. But they can be compared to fixing a leaky roof by placing umbrellas. Not only does it look absurd to those who see it from outside, but it is a short-sighted “solution”, suitable only for those who have no responsibility for the building and are planning to leave soon with their whole family. Hopefully we won’t all be in that situation with regards to this world.

For example, there is now plenty enough food in the world for everyone to eat their fill, and then some. But that is not exactly what happens. True, obesity is now actually afflicting a greater number of humans than is starvation, but there is still starvation. It usually only happens – at least widely – in countries at war or civil war. So it is certainly a problem of attitude, although not necessarily the attitude of the starving. (Although that can certainly happen too, that they are one of the sides in a war, and have some responsibility for it. That is not always the case, though. And in most wars, it is the stronger who attack the weaker.)

Speaking of obesity and health challenges: I know, I know. There are various hormone and metabolism problems that cause people to gain weight at an unnatural pace. It seems unlikely, however, that a fifth or so of the population have mysteriously mutated over the course of a generation or two. In any case, there are good news from science: Even if you are heavier than recommended, this will do little or no harm if you are physically active, exercising at least at moderate intensity for half an hour a day or so. (Or an hour every other day.) So unless you have a mutated metabolism and also a broken spine, you should be doing fine. If you have the right attitude, that is. The attitude that makes you force your body to do things it does not particularly like sometimes.

Unfortunately, many people really exercise their mind making up excuses instead. If people would eat when they were hungry and stop before they were full, and be physically active at least some minutes each day, that alone would stop the huge growth in health expenses in the rich world. I am not kidding. Sure, there are many expenses that come because we can treat illnesses that were fatal in the past. Treatment for these is typically very expensive. But living a life of moderate self-restraint will dramatically reduce the risk of falling gravely ill. Mind you, we are talking of risks here, possibilities and percentages. It is not like the law of gravity which is very simple and predictable. So you can eat right, exercise regularly and die horribly anyway. But on a large scale, like that of a whole nation, a more responsible lifestyle would have a dramatic impact.

Then there is the whole thing about fearing death. Now, this is an attitude that I sympathize with personally to a very high degree. There are few things I want less than death! But even so, here is something to think of: A very large part of the medical expenses in an average human life happens in its last year. This is independent of the age. If you live to 90, most of the expenses will be in the year from 89 to 90. If you live only to 50, most of the expenses will be from 49 to 50. Of course, this is not without exception, but it is the rule. In other words, a great deal of our hospitals, our doctors and our medicines are employed to prolong life by months or weeks. Of course, in some cases we just can’t know. There is a chance, even if it is small, of survival. And there is nothing we want more, usually.

Still, if we are actually old and we have an illness that is anyway going to end our life within months, I feel that there should be an option to submit to the course of nature. I am told that in America this is what happens if you are poor. But for those who have nothing to fear from death, I feel that it should be an option even if you could afford to stay around for a few months longer. In days of yore, it was not uncommon for old people to feel that they had accomplished what they came to Earth for. “Now let thy servant depart in peace.” I can’t say I feel like that now, but I hope to be able to say that some day. We may long for eternal life, but it is folly to think that science can do that for us, even with tax-financed health care.

Another attitude problem is that we consider our personal luxury more important than the planet. There has been some progress in this, in some parts of the world. But not enough. We are still destroying the biosphere at a terrifying speed. Species go extinct all the time. Fertile soil is washed away or blown away by the wind because of thoughtless agriculture that leaves the soil open to the elements at times when flooding or drought occurs. Forests are cut down that protected the soil, wetlands are drained that absorbed floods. And of course arable land is covered with roads and buildings. So far we have managed to keep food production high enough, higher than ever actually. But we cannot afford to lose more arable land as population is still set to grow. And we should not unravel ecosystems except in the most dire emergency.


In short, the great challenges of our times and probably the next generation as well, is our attitude. As long as we think in terms of money and not time, of luxury and not happiness, of receiving and not giving, of being done to and not doing – as long as we think in this way, it will be difficult to solve our problems, and new ones will appear. The roof will leak in more and more places until it collapses on our heads. For now, we have only this one planet, and we must share it with each other better than we do today.


11 thoughts on “Problems of our time

    • I don’t have a strong opinion on the Rosicrucians. To be diplomatic about it, I feel that our ideas of esoteric knowledge are tangential at best to each other – their traditions are largely different from those that inspire me. We would probably mutually consider each other as role-playing esoterism. In my case, I am an admitted amateur; in their case, they seem to have made esoterism exoteric, by making formalities and rituals and measurable knowledge out of what is and has always been an inner tradition passed from heart to heart by means of resonance.

        • Funny fact: I considered the AMORC in my own youth. Considering the “ancient and mystical” organization is even now less than a century old, it must have been quite a bit younger back then. Of course, some of the source texts are substantially older than that. But something stopped me even back then, probably the “voice in my heart” as I with some exaggeration calls it.

          Given the wealth of ancient wisdom that is freely available, I certainly don’t see the use in this now. To me, it would be like digging a well on a plain that is already under water from a great flooding. But to each their own heart and conscience.

    We’ve disucssed this before I think.

    Do you think this theory kills the concept of free will? Yo could easily argue that thought killed the Jews – not Hitler.

    “Given the wealth of ancient wisdom that is freely available, I certainly don’t see the use in this now. To me, it would be like digging a well on a plain that is already under water from a great flooding. But to each their own heart and conscience.”
    I think the social aspect of the order would provide more balance to my life.

    “But something stopped me even back then, probably the “voice in my heart” as I with some exaggeration calls it. ”
    Could you elabrotate on this?

    • I love the demon theory! It fits with everything I have understood of esoteric Knowledge. It expresses it in a different way, as also the different traditions express the same thing in different ways. Like Boris Mouravieff’s claim that the human personality consists of a little under 900 subpersonalities and combinations of them, each of which may dominate for a period of time before being eclipsed by another. The actual number is not important, but the idea that the personality is actually made up of these pieces, each of which is mistakenly called “I”.

      I won’t say humans don’t have free will. But as time has passed and I have kept observing, I have come to believe that ordinary people have very little free will, and that even we who study esoteric Knowledge and practice observation, we have only so and so much leeway. We can expand the “bubble of Now” or “sacred time” between impulse and reaction, the moment where we are alive and in control of our reaction, the moment before the next script starts playing. But it is small and expanding it is the undertaking of a lifetime.

  2. You have organized religion to blame for the belief that we are one person. The concept of sin and demonization of people who make mistakes doesn’t help.

    Jesus and the Buddah tackled the problems outlined in demon theory.
    The buddha bascially mediated and let his society rot and did not share his insight.
    Jesus got crucified. if he saw the mess Christianity made of his teachings – he would fucking vomit.

    • Ah, there was plenty of reason to vomit before Buddha, before Jesus, before the whole Axial Age. Before organized religion we had disorganized religion. Tribes having beautiful stories about dreamtime and gods and spirits and heroes. And then they’d sacrifice beating hearts to the sun or something. Raid the neighboring tribe and rape all the girls. Stuff like that. Disorganized. The good and beautiful and bad and just plain crazy crawling around in the brain like some psychiatric basket case only on the level of a whole tribe. Actually there is still a lot of crazy even now, but at least we have a chance. Now and then we’ll find some piece of Truth in the stew of crazy, because someone far ago managed to sneak it in. That’s good. That’s worth whatever vomiting it takes, to sneak some more Truth into the wriggling mass of crazy, so that someday someone can find it and get some measure of sanity. It’s worth it. No regrets.

      See, you need to know a bit of history to realize this, but the alternative to organized religion is not flowers and rainbows and unicorns. It is, or at least used to be, disorganized religion. Tribal stuff. And I am not sure we are safe from it yet. For most people, organized religion is probably the best they can get. A lessening of the crazy, at least in part. To venture into the skull and stare down the mind parasites – that is not something people can just off and do on their own. It is not the default human behavior, more’s the pity.

    • Yeah. When I was young, one of my spiritual teachers said: “You have to sacrifice your Isaac.” Do you know that story? Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son because he thought God could always resurrect him if needed. The kid should not have been possible in the first place, what with his mom being in he 80es or something. Now, regardless of the literal truth of the story, the idea is that you have to be willing to let the good thing die, if that is what it takes. Sacrificing the bad things, like things that destroy your body or that offends reasonable people, that is not what we’re talking about here. Sacrificing the GOOD, the BEST you have, be willing to let it die if that is how it must be. That’s what this guy talks about. That exact thing. When you KNOW you’ve got the thing, the only thing that’s worth anything, and you don’t just passively watch it being attacked, you go along with that and tie it up on the altar because you know it can’t die, or at least it can’t stay dead.

      Disclaimer: This is for highly trained spiritual professionals. Don’t actually sacrifice kids at home.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *