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Excerpted from Hymns to an Unknown God: Awakening the Spirit in Everyday Life by Sam Keen, Ph.D. Copyright 1995 by Sam Keen, Ph.D. Excerpted by permission of Bantam Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.  HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.
 


"The spiritual craving of our time is triggered by the perennial human need to connect with something that transcends the fragile self, to surrender to something larger and more lasting than our brief moment in history."

Sam Keen, Hymns to an Unknown God, Part 3

"Today, more than seven years later, a young man came into my office, and he was filled with hatred because a woman had falsely accused him of sexually abusing her child. After I explained that there was no legal case against him, I told him he should pray for her because otherwise he would never be able to understand her, forgive her, or get rid of pain he carried around. It reminded me of the first time I prayed. My wife had done something that hurt me, and for once I was innocent of the charge. So I had spent much of the day eaten up by anger, filled with resentment, and plotting revenge. My pain was so immense, I knew I had to find some way to get rid of it. I had a copy of the AA prayer, so I sat in my car in the parking lot and read it. 'God, I offer myself up to thee . . . relieve me of the bondage to myself so I can do thy will.' It embarrassed me. I had always denied the existence of God, of any power greater than myself. But nevertheless, I read it again and again, and before long I began to feel relief. Instead of being caught up in my pain, I began to understand why my wife had lashed out at me and I found I could forgive her. Since then I pray, because it makes me taller, stretches me toward what is here. I don't pray to some superpower to make things better. But I open myself to the power that infuses and informs all life and pray to be relieved of the bondage to myself"

A couple of years ago, I received a letter from a woman I admire, an adventurous seeker, mother of three, and ex-wife of a famous doctor. She explained to me why she has become a devotee of Indian guru Bhagwan X. "The hunger that led me to Bhagwan was the great unanswered question of the twentieth century: 'To what may we surrender?' "

I replied to her letter: "You have the right question, but the wrong answer."

The spiritual craving of our time is triggered by the perennial human need to connect with something that transcends the fragile self, to surrender to something larger and more lasting than our brief moment in history.

These voices are a small part of a chorus of longing of a new community of seekers who are setting out on a quest. Perhaps you are one of those who are alive with longing that cannot be satisfied by traditional religious answers. While orthodox believers seek to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, Moses, or Mohammed, untold numbers of spiritual seekers have begun to explore uncharted paths. Many people who a decade ago would have been embarrassed to acknowledge their longings for transcendence are speaking openly about inner journeys and vision quests. Spirituality is in. Millions who have become disillusioned with a secular view of life but are unmoved by established religion in any of its institutional forms are setting out on a quest for something--some missing value, some absent purpose, some new meaning, some presence of the sacred.

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