The other day I attended a seminar given by a woman I have known for a long time. She is a visionary, medical intuitive, spiritual mentor and mystic—the real thing. In addition to owning a number of impressive patents, she has also developed a powerful system of energetic healing that she teaches to lay persons and medical doctors around the world. She works with her husband, a doctor, and consults with other doctors on difficult cases. I could go on and on about her credentials, but that would take the entire post. Suffice it say it would be impossible to count the people she has helped in one way or another. Her credentials are impeccable.
This woman delivered a lively, inspiring, and practical presentation at a conference held by the women’s institute. As a member of the audience, I was shocked to look around and see women filling out postcards, texting, and staring out the windows while she talked. I wondered—why did these women even come? It wasn’t free! They paid good money to fill out those post cards. The great irony was that the presenter was talking about the inability of the average person to be fully present in her life. It was about awakening.
This is not an isolated experience for me. I have been at other venues (at which I or others have presented) where audience members have raised their hands during the Q&A only to discuss completely unrelated and irrelevant stories about other presenters at other conferences. For a presenter who has spent weeks, even months, preparing very specific and educated messages, this can be beyond discouraging. But because this distracted behavior is becoming more common, it deserves some examination. After all, we are talking about people who have reached into their wallets and traveled some distance to hear what they are refusing to actually hear. I have my theories.
We are a generation of seekers. Since the spiritual revolutions of the 1960’s, including for Catholics, the radical changes of Vatican II and for everyone, the vast influx of spiritual influences from India, China, and Tibet, we have been awash in spiritual ideas, ancient traditions, new age concepts and mystical experiences. We have heard it all, literally. Thanks to other media influences, like Oprah, we have gorged ourselves on Deepak Chopra, Gary Zukav, Marianne Williamson, Eckhart Tolle, and others too numerous to mention. For the most part I think these authors’ efforts to inform us on spiritual matters have been very productive. Some of us are so fluent in the commercial language of spirituality that we could teach our own classes. But is that enough?
I think not. In fact for many I think this ravenous search for the meaning of life has become more of an intellectual past time than a means of transcendence. For some, reading books on spirituality or attending conferences has become the whole point. If we attend enough conferences, read enough books, we will awaken, right? If we hear enough, read enough, attend enough, all that is wrong with our lives will be healed through osmosis. Of course we know that’s not true. Somehow, in order to transform our lives and our planet, we have to actually move that information from our heads to our hearts and from our hearts into action where it will take seed in the world around us.
There is no conference that will teach us how to do that—to go home and activate the truths we have just heard, that is, if we have actually heard them. We live in a time of spiritual fluency where many people understand the value of gaining spiritual information, but information is not knowledge. As in any other aspect of our lives—spiritual fitness requires discipline and practice. At some point we have to pick up the weights; get on the bicycle; walk the talk. As in all of recorded history, we will recognize the real teachers and gurus by the well-worn path of their right actions and deeds.