So there’s this thing that happens, as you get wiser and deeper and more and more awesome…
You become more capable of connecting.
You explore. You grow. You change.
Life kicks your ass (repeatedly) around the room. The way life does…
You discover your true passion and purpose…
And all of those things create layers of complexity and depth.
Layers that you can share with other people.
And here’s the shitty part…
All that awesomeness you’ve been building also makes you different.
And so it gets harder and harder to find people to connect with.
Because we all get deeper in our own unique way.
And that creates a frustrating dilemma…
As you get deeper—your circle of friends gets smaller.
When you’re young and in school, you have lots of people to interact with.
With lots of things in common.
Because you’re all just getting started.
And you’re still less awesome than you will be…
Even when you’re different, you can usually find a clique of friends who feel the same way.
And you can all be different together…
And when your interests are too diverse for one clique—you just join more.
As many crowds as it takes to stay connected.
And yet—no matter how many crowds you run with—as you grow, you grow apart.
You get married, or have kids, or build a career, or live through difficult times…
You travel and explore. Discover the passions you couldn’t have even imagined when you were young…
And every new layer has the potential to be one less thing you have in common.
One less thing you can share with the crowd.
Of course, you can still connect in the old ways…
Laugh and reminisce… Hit the old hangouts…
But the whole point of developing all those new awesome parts is that you want to share those!
And so your circle of friends diminishes.
It happens to everyone…
The result is that loneliness has become one of the defining traits of our culture.
So how do we fix it?
How do we reconnect?
Well that’s easy…
We just need to find more friends so that we’ll be more connected!
And how do we do that?
We empower ourselves with technology, stay in contact, and focus on the things we have in common!
And how do we do that?
We get shallow.
Okay, so that’s not actually a solution.
But it is the fashionable response.
We grow deeper… Drift away from friends… Crave contact…
And the easiest way to make contact is through the things we have in common with the greatest number of people…
Which are—by definition—the shallowest aspects of ourselves.
And so we gravitate into social circles (and social media trends) based around simple principles…
Like religion, or sports, or political campaigns.
Simple beliefs, simple values, simple slogans…
They all make it easy to come together, and to find something in common.
All it takes is: Go team! And we’re back in contact!
Except that that doesn’t solve the problem…
Because what we’re craving is deeper contact.
Not just more…
But that kind of contact doesn’t fit in a social media meme.
And all of the standard outlets—the religions, the sports, the politics—none of them lend themselves to deep.
Or to being different.
Because as soon as you start digging beneath the surface…
Questioning why a particular belief exists… Or if the status quo should change… Or how a slogan translates into the real world…
Or, god forbid, inquiring into the merits of other teams…
Then all the differences start to pop up again.
And suddenly you’ve got splits and schisms everywhere…
And you need new communities to accommodate the differences.
Until you start digging deeper into those, and the whole process begins again…
It’s the grand, cosmic fucking joke of personal growth and connection:
- Growth enables, and demands, deeper connection.
- Connection demands community.
- But growth creates differences.
- And communities are based on the things we have in common.
It would be funny if it weren’t so fucking frustrating and sad.
Would be, that is, until you throw technology in the mix.
And then the whole thing becomes downright hilarious…
Because technology makes everything better.
And technology makes everything worse.
It’s made it so much easier to move and grow and explore.
Opened so many doors, and exposed us to so many different perspectives.
And given us the tools to reach out to anyone, anywhere around the world.
Personal growth has become so much easier.
Communication has become so much easier.
But easier communication doesn’t lead to deeper communication.
(Why talk when we can text?)
The net effect is that, as we’ve grown deeper, our connections have become shallower.
We may have friends all over the world…
But we’re lonelier now than ever.
So what’s to be done?
Well, it’s a bit of an experiment…
But I still think that spirituality can play a role in solving the dilemma.
It’s just going to take a different kind of spirituality…
And a different kind of community.
In the past, spirituality and religion have always been about finding a group of people who share the same values and beliefs.
(At least, the community aspect has.)
Basically, if you found a religion you could buy into, then you found a community by default.
But that only lasts as long as everyone buys into the same story and vision…
Start asking too many questions—or following your own dreams and desires—and you’re right back on the outs again.
The same thing applies to the whole spiritual-but-not-religious movement…
It’s a little more flexible than organized religion…
It still doesn’t allow anywhere near the variety of personal styles and ambitions that it would take to accommodate all of us.
We need something more universal.
Now, people have tried building universal spiritual communities before…
Around concepts like love and compassion and acceptance.
But that just reinforces our dilemma.
The love and understanding and acceptance part is great.
It just isn’t enough.
We also need a way to share the deep, complex experiences and ambitions that only come with growth and exploration.
We need a way to share the awesome parts that make us different.
And that’s where Open Source Spirituality comes in.
The idea is to give you the tools to grow and explore.
To discover who YOU really are.
To be vulnerable and brave and authentic in ways you’d never even dreamt.
And have all the experiences that are available to you…
Not just a few that are endorsed by a particular tradition.
Because your goals and dreams and destinations are always up to you.
YOU choose what to make of your life.
What to make of YOU…
Not me. Not your friends. Not your family. Not your past. Not some ancient fucking religion.
But that’s not the experiment…
That part works for sure.
The experiment is creating a new kind of community.
See, giving you the tools to grow and explore is going to change you.
It’s going to create layers of depth and complexity and experience that you’ll want to share.
And that’s going to make you different.
Even moreso than you already are.
So we can’t create a community around a common destination.
Because there is no common destination.
But all those tools you use to travel and transform?
They don’t just help you change and grow…
They also help you share the awesome new parts of yourself.
To connect and communicate the things you’ve learned.
To understand how you’ve changed—and how I’ve changed—and how the two relate.
And so even though you’re going to journey someplace completely different from me…
And pursue dreams and destinations and subtleties of self that are yours and yours alone…
We still have something in common…
A common language and toolset and framework for exploration.
And that lets us grow—and it lets us connect.
It dispels the paradox of community and connection.
An unlikely tribe of rebels, misfits and independent thinkers.
The idea comes from the modern Open Source communities.
Programmers and builders and DIYers…
People who have completely different backgrounds. And completely different destinations.
But the Open Source framework gives them a way to connect and share their passions.
Even when—especially when—everyone is creating something different.
It’s a powerful new kind of community.
It’s just never been tried around spirituality and consciousness before.
So it’s an experiment…
And they will change you… And make you more awesome…
The question is whether or not we can all come together?
So that we don’t have to journey alone.
I think we can.
If you liked this post, please consider sharing, along with a brief comment of what you thought… It doesn’t sound like much. But these small gestures make a tremendous impact on building our community, and helping other wayward rebels find a perspective that they can resonate with.
And if it spoke to you, why not Join the Tribe? It's free.. And this is just one tiny piece of more than two decades of impassioned work...... And YOU probably belong here with the rest of us!!
In any case, thanks so much for stopping by! – \m/ – Z
About Zach Herbert
I teach people to do cool things with their consciousness, and break their brains with beautiful ideas.
Professional heretic. Unlikely mystic. Host to rebels, misfits and independent thinkers.
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