I am trying my best to follow a life that feeds me and adds to my community––a life of spiritual practice, creativity, and direction. But I often feel lost in the cacophony of modern living. Distractions, both frivolous and necessary, are constant. The following reading from Deng Ming-Dao’s 365 Tao: Daily Meditations* helped me be more accepting of this situation:

“People from old traditions were often less complicated because they had the advantage of a complete culture that did the thinking for them. Everyone had role that the fit the whole. Individuals could concentrate on fulfilling their place, confident that other needs would be met by the collective.

The specialization of modern times calls for individual roles that do not necessarily form a whole. We often lose sight even of what the whole is. We have commentators, we have critics, but we do not have leaders. We celebrate egalitarianism and consensus, but it is phony: a chaos of voices rather than a democracy; a populace of individuals pursuing their own ends rather than a collective.

The burden thus falls on the individual o fulfill a tremendous range of functions. We have to make choices, be more informed, act in a wide variety of areas. We cannot simply concentrate on doing our part, because now our part is to compete with everyone else. 

Spirituality is more difficult today. In the past, you could become a spiritual aspirant and the people would support you; a holy person was just as much a part of the the collective as a farmer. Now, to be a holy aspirant, you have to look for your own job and find new ways through a society that barely recognizes the spiritual.”


*HarperCollins, 1992, p. 358.