The Most Important Thing
By William Bezanson
What is the most important matter that mankind faces?
That question was asked of me in a random telephone survey some time ago. I thought for a brief time, and asked, “You want my honest opinion?” On getting an affirmative answer, I asked further, “And do you want the truth?” At this point, the pollster likely felt like dropping the call, or perhaps marking it “No opinion,” but we continued.
I chose my words carefully. “The most important matter facing modern mankind is the loss of a sense of the Divine!”
The momentary pause at the other end of the line perhaps denoted a search for the category “Other,” and the pollster then politely thanked me and ended the call.
I still believe what I said then. Most people would perhaps cite global starvation and poverty, the AIDS epidemic, global warming, the worldwide economic crisis, or the threat of nuclear war. Some people would note terrorism or the runaway population increase. Still others might note man’s inhumanity to man or the threat of an asteroid bashing into the earth. But I maintain that our loss of a Divine sense is our most important, pressing matter.
Now, by this I don’t mean to argue for membership in a temple or mosque, or “going to church”, or adhering to the dogmas of an organized religion. What I do mean is the sense of wonderment and awe when faced with anything apart from common everyday experience. I mean recognizing and honouring a higher spiritual power that sustains the universe. I mean the numinous feeling of contemplating creation and its ongoing evolution. I mean the quickening feeling of experiencing real silence within, and exploring its profound and vast depth. I mean the thrilling attunement with the cosmos that comes from vivid realization that you are the cosmos. I mean having a spiritual and mystical sense that comes from within, not from following external teachings or litergies. I mean truly realizing the enormity of the unconscious, and that great energy and truth can be found there.
Having a sense of the Divine gives life a purpose. Having a sense of the Divine motivates us to a higher morality than that of animals who go through life by instinct alone. Having a sense of the Divine assures us that we are not alone.
Man’s inhumanity to man can be traced to a loss of the sense of the Divine. Indeed, all of the calamities that I listed earlier, and many others, can be traced to a loss of a sense of the Divine (possibly even the asteroid).
So can we recover? Is there hope? Is the half-full glass emptying or filling?
Carl Jung wrote about an American Indian tribe that prayed to the sun each day, persuading it to rise every day, and thus giving them a purpose in life. That was their religion, their sense of the Divine. They must do their daily ritual. If they stopped, mankind would perish.
Jung also wrote, “Among all my patients in the second half of life … there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious outlook on life. … This of course has nothing whatever to do with a particular creed or membership of a church.” (C.G.Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1933)
I must hope that the glass is filling, that we will recover, that there is indeed hope! That is my religion: contributing to mankind’s creative evolution through my own recovery of a sense of the Divine. Perhaps one such contribution might be a reminder to my readers that having a sense of the Divine is a wonderful way to enhance one's level of spiritual responsibility. This is because seeing our world through divine eyes gives us the biggest picture of all, thereby making us aware of our responsibility to be proper stewards of our world and our lives.
When you think about it, the important aspect of each of us in not our body, but our soul. Our identity, our real selves, our fundamental being, is not associated with the body, but with the soul. The most vital aspect of our lives is the spiritual. So, clearly, nurturing a sense of the Divine is extremely important work, indeed, “The Most Important Thing”!
William Bezanson is a retired engineer who has turned into an author. He is currently writing a book I Believe: A Rosicrucian Looks at Christianity and Spirituality, which will include this article. He lives with his wife in Ottawa, Canada. To learn about his books, visit his website.