(Note: while I usually tend to write more formal articles that explore specific topics and their solutions, this is the first open-ended note-style post that I’ve written in a while. Let me know if you appreciate this format in the comments!)
When I go on any form of social media, watch any news or information outlet, or engage with anyone in person or digitally, a word, a question, a prayer keeps bubbling up to the surface:
Connection. What does it mean to be connected in an individualistic and capitalistic society that is cut off from not just the ground on which it literally stands (the earth), but increasingly its own self?
What does real connection look like in a world inundated by mass amounts of information and technology that we can barely (if at all) handle?
What does the rise of AI mean for connection?
How do we find a pathway back to connection when our trust in each other, our institutions, and life itself has either shattered or is in the process of dissolving in the fires of cynicism and nihilism?
To be connected, to seek out, and to center our lives around kinship is at the deepest heart of humanity. After all, without connection, we wouldn’t have survived and made it to the point where we’re now tinkering with the nature of artificial intelligence and weapons of mass destruction that can wipe out the entirety of the human race many times over. Without connecting to each other and the natural world, we would have perished long, long ago.
When did we lose our reverence for connection?
When did amassing mass followers on TikTok, buying hoards of earth-destroying junk from Temu and Amazon, and getting consumed in socially sanctified hatred and paranoia of the “other” become the norm?
We humans have always been war-like creatures. But we also have the capacity for great compassion, wisdom, and respect for each other and the planet.
Now I’m not here to make this into a miserable rant about how much humans suck right now. We’ve all heard enough of that. And I’d dare say that most of us, at least the ones reading this, are aware of how much humanity is a pestilence to the planet. (This brings to mind the words of Agent Smith from The Matrix: “Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet.”)
I’m interested in solutions here. What is the cure, the way forward? How do we find connection in such a disconnected, fragmented, soul deprived, and mentally ill society?
Can modern spirituality help us?
When I look at a lot of modern spiritual, self-help, and self-improvement modalities, I see the light and the dark side, as well as the huge gaps and holes that are present.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many well-meaning philosophies, paths, practices, and teachings out there. And most can help us up until a certain point.
But a spirituality that is born out of a planet that is based on individualistic and capitalistic values is a spirituality that is limited at best and counterproductive at worst. Nothing ever stands totally by itself. Everything influences everything – even the isolated island is changed by the tides of the ocean and the ebb and flow of seasons.
To me, spirituality is an umbrella term for our craving for the sacred – for true and deep connection itself. But does the current approach to spirituality truly satisfy that deep craving for connection?
Sure, we might catch fleeting glimpses of connection in the workshops we attend, the classes we sit in, the books we read, and the objects we obtain.
But what happens when the people dismantle and go their separate ways, the books are read and tossed aside, and the objects become suddenly a lot less shiny and trendy?
So much spirituality these days is about “ME and MY healing,” “ME and MY trauma,” and “ME and what I WANT to manifest/get/achieve.”
And sure, it’s great to focus on ourselves … for a time.
But if our sole focus is always just on ourselves, our healing, our journey, what we want, how we can get it, and so on, how does that distinguish our supposedly spiritual path from the rest of the individualistic and materialistic culture in which we live and breathe that is destroying our planet? The answer is it doesn’t.
Nothing is an island. Everything influences everything. And I realize how ironic this is for a person running a website called “lonerwolf” to write – but to me, the deepest essence of the lone wolf is about embracing the hero/ine’s journey and walking our true paths. It’s not about propagating extremist individualistic values because, after all, the wolf is a pack creature. And the lone wolf, on a relational level, is seeking a new pack.
But I digress.
Four Provocative Questions to Ask
For us to find true connection in both the secular and spiritual individualistic cultures, we need to shift our focus. We need a new way rooted in old primordial values – an honoring of not just the vertical transcendent side of the divine but the horizontal immanence of it, too.
I don’t have all the solutions, as I’m just one speck floating in the vast and unfathomable expanse of existence. But here are a few questions we can ask ourselves:
- How do I decentralize individualistic values in my spiritual practice and focus on doing what I do for the benefit of my family, community, wider society, and planetary ecosystem?
- How do I move from “me” to “we”?
- In what ways is my healing or spiritual practice reinforcing the assumption that I’m at the center of the universe without honoring the larger interconnected web of life that I inhabit?
- How has spiritual materialism crept through the backdoor in my perspectives, habits, and choices?
Really, a lot of what I’m describing is shadow work – looking at the gaps, the irksome uncomfortable places, and gazing into the stark mirror of truth that highlights both our beauty and horror simultaneously.
And shadow work, my friends, might feel like a solitary journey. But its implications are not just limited to individual feel-good wellness: they ripple into society.
When we can get honest with ourselves, we don’t stay in the stagnating waters of self-affirming circle-jerk beliefs. We get uncomfortable, we expand, we evolve. And we create tremors in the fabric of society. In other words, we create change, but not on the surface – we create subterranean change that cries out and seeks for true, deep, integrated connection.
I hope you’ll join me in this.
If you want to continue supporting what I/we write and create and want weekly doses of intuitive spiritual guidance, I welcome you to join our highly-rated Shadow & Light Membership. You don’t have to go this path alone. Let’s do this together.
To close, I’ll leave you with a beautiful and healing poem about what I feel is the essence of connection:
I, I am the spirit within the earth.
The feet of the earth are my feet;
The legs of the earth are my legs.
The strength of the earth is my strength;
The thoughts of the earth are my thoughts;
The voice of the earth is my voice.
The feather of the earth is my feather.– Song of the Earth Spirit, Navajo Legend