In a recent New York Times editorial, Ross Douthat says:
"By making mysticism more democratic, we’ve also made it more bourgeois, more comfortable, and more dilettantish. It’s become something we pursue as a complement to an upwardly mobile existence, rather than a radical alternative to the ladder of success. Going to yoga classes isn’t the same thing as becoming a yogi; spending a week in a retreat center doesn’t make me Thomas Merton or Thérèse of Lisieux. Our kind of mysticism is more likely to be a pleasant hobby than a transformative vocation.
"What’s more, it’s possible that our horizons have become too broad, and that real spiritual breakthroughs require a kind of narrowing — the decision to pick a path and stick with it, rather than hopscotching around in search of a synthesis that “works for me.”
Douthat addresses two of the chief themes of this blog and website:
1. There's a real need to make spiritual practice accessible to ordinary people
2. These practices are best resourced from deep within a tradition
But he also issues a warning:
- Spiritual awakening and transformation takes work; in out-dated language---"discipline," even "renunciation"---or language more current, "muscle," "perseverance," or "guts."
Without such work, whatever spiritual awakening we think we're pursuing just might turn out to be little more than a fad.