A letter from the past

A letter from the past

Dear Editors and Translators:

Here is a letter I wrote a year and a half ago to a young writer who wrote about the spiritual life of the generation X kids now in their early thirties. The book " Virtual Faith " by Tom Beudoin is interesting. It links the recent cultural past of the 60's with the digital 90's. I expanded the discussion in this letter. Harvest is already becoming a bit mythic even now.



Yes, I read your book Virtual Faith. I'm a late boomer, 41 and I've spent alot of time with xer's and yers. I'm a writer and i dropped out of society for 91/2 years and spent alot of time in monasteries of many different kinds of religions. I was looking for the essence of the spiritual path and have also been abroad five times. I'm a writer and I graduated from UC Berkeley in '83.
My first book " Harvest of Gems " is now on the web. www.yotko.com/scars/harvest/gems.htm Take a look. I'm a Tibetan Buddhist and I like your pioneering style. But here are my reactions to your book. Yes, Xers are definitely trying to find spirituality, but they cannot avoid age old lineages. The old mystical schools have alot to offer. Why re-invent the wheel. Yes, xers are now going for a radical multiplex and porous awareness, but the entire century has been moving in this direction. There is a continuity between Picasso, Kerouac, and kurt Cobain.
The entire century has seen a process of cultural dissolution. Freud and Jung led the way as Western civilization began to fragment. Picasso, Joyce, and Stravinsky mirrored this process well. Then the Beats and Hippies continued this process. Drugs, shamanism, and Oriental mind sciences reflected the new multi-level awareness. Xers and yers are now taking this heritage into multimedia and cyberspace. Nothing exists in a vacuum. We're heading for a soft-wired awareness, instead of a hard-wired one. Raw psychic flux is now becoming the foundation for a new cultural and symbolic yoga. This is a radical departure for Western civilization. But not for the East. Buddhism gives one a good handle of where we're going.
The global village is fast on its way to becomming a global brain and then later a global third-eye. This collaging has always been going on, but the pace is now breakneck. In the past like in late hellenistic times people were mixing all kinds of religions. The collage was often shallow, but it heralded a religious skake-out. Christianity won. Now we're heading for another shake-out. Don't ask me what the winner will be. it's too early to tell. Variety is always around, but usually a winner takes over and then get's corrupted. Then hidden variety creates another religious winner for the next big cycle. It's important to have a bigger context in mind, not just in art history, but also religious history. We've kinda been here before. But in a different way.

I see you like Eliade, " Trial by Labyrinth " is one of his best books. You might like :

Religion in history by SGF Brandon.

The God-possesed by Jean Lacarriere.

Two great books on Early Christian history. The desert fathers, you know.

I also think you could brush up on your Buddhist history:

Civilized Shamans by Geoff Samuel

It's about Tibetan history but the religious dynamics can be applied to any religion.

Swami Vivakenanda's the four yogas are a superb grid to measure any religion worth its salt.

Also Arnold Toynbee's " A historian's view of religion "

is a superb work of comparative religion. It blows the whistle on the accidents of culture that get attached to spiritual truth and then harden into dogma creating an opaque film over the original spiritual revelation.

Every generation has to renew deep truths and not just the xers. Yes, institutions can be an obstacle, but if you can find saints that pop out of these institutions anyway, then you see that it's all just outer forms covering hidden and essential truths.


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