“Thoroughly unprepared, we take the step into the afternoon of life. Worse still, we take this step with the false presupposition that our truths and our ideals will serve us as hitherto. But we cannot live the afternoon of life according to the program of life’s morning, for what was great in the morning will be little at evening and what in the morning was true, at evening will have become a lie.” Quote by Carl Jung
Our lives have different eras. What was true when we are young is a lie at midlife. When we are young our lives are focused on educating ourselves, obtaining work, and finding love. These are the appropriate tasks of our early life. We may get married and have children.
Our initial experience of religion is often about certainty. It creates meaning about being a separate individual. If we practice the correct rituals and believe the correct rules – dogma – then we will be saved. Someone translates other people’s experience of God. Yet this level of religion does not change the consciousness of the person. It is all about me – saving myself. This level of spirituality consoles the self and this is needed. It defends us. The problem is that we can use this type of religion to not become a more loving person. I can justify our self-centeredness.
Spirituality can also be transformative. As a young person we need to develop our ego boundaries by separating from our parents. We need to leave home psychologically and develop an identity of our own. We need to distinguish our values from those of our parents and friends. It is important to have meaningful work to do.
About 35 to 45, we reach midlife. Jung called this the afternoon of life. We have the opportunity to grow into a deeper consciousness not possible in our younger years. Richard Rohr says: “This process of transformation does not fortify the separate self, but utterly shatters it. Not consolation but devastation. Not entrenchment, but emptiness. Not complacency, but explosion. Not comfort, but revolution. In short – not a conventional bolstering of my usual consciousness, but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.” Our transformation comes indirectly, “catching us off guard and out of control. We have to be empty instead of full.”
Richard Rohr goes on to say: “The lust for certitude. The lust for answers the last 500 years of the Western Church has not served us well. Once we lost our spirituality of darkness for light, there just wasn’t as much room for growth any more. Everything was . . . words.”
Our journey of spirituality inevitable leads inward. There are many paths on this inward spiritual journey, but they all lead to an experience of the divine. This conscious knowing leads us outward again toward others. We are willing to risk vulnerability to join with others in intimacy. Our spirituality isn’t about looking good, but simply loving others. Please watch this video by Bob Epperly on centering prayer to discover one of many paths inward toward the center of our being: