Human beings cannot live without meaning. The same existential questions we have grappled with since the dawn of self-reflective consciousness are with us today: “Where do we come from?”, “What is the meaning of life?”, “Is there a God?” The answers to these questions determine our values and our actions. Human beings seek meaning and intelligibility, but we are prone to error.
Concurrent with the rise of science over the last 400 years came the unfortunate rise of a worldview of nature (including human nature) that is mechanistic and focused on external phenomena almost exclusively. This mechanistic and production-oriented worldview is our current one and it has gradually reduced us to a society of externalists. Since this is not our true nature, the results have been devastating.
Reality as a whole (and our place in it) is much more than we are currently giving it credit for. Reality is not something we create according to individual whims. It is not a matter of opinion or market values. A worldview that reduces nature to only a resource for our material needs, and human beings to functional biological and economic units with no inner life, denies the depth of human dignity and sets the stage for disaster.
Yet, for all of this, we are not called to reject the modern world and live on the fringes. We do not have to go from one extreme to another. We are called to address the errors of perception that have caused many of the problems we now face personally and collectively. In other words, we are not called to be contemplatives who shun the world, but contemplatives who transform the world.
Where can you begin?