It’s the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong!” That line, from Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, helped us find fellow seekers for the launch of this magazine. Our founding visionaries were “progressives” in search of real progress. Daniel Matthews, rector of Trinity Church Wall Street (page 14), realized that progressives of all religions now have more in common with each other than they do with fundamentalists of their own faith. Our ancient stories don’t matter so much. We can talk!
The other visionary was my mentor T George Harris, a World War II artillery scout, Time reporter, and editor in chief of Psychology Today, American Health, and Harvard Business Review. T George sent me out for data from the World Values Survey, which showed that by the year 2000, “postmaterialists” would outnumber “materialists” worldwide. In other words, most people would be born higher on Maslow’s pyramid. Less concerned with survival needs, progressive postmaterialists would connect around the globe for equality, justice, and peace.
So, our mission was to help usher in a worldwide spiritual renaissance. And . . . well . . . Oops! It seems that what we thought we knew was wrong.
Today, walls are going up and civility is going down—so much so that the most significant magazines fit into guns. Twenty years ago, we thought we would run out of fossil fuels by now—and just in time. But since then we’ve found enough dead dinosaurs to clench the jaws of climate catastrophe. Twenty years ago, we thought we lived on the Goldilocks planet. So special was our Mother Earth that serious people could argue for Godly Design. Now, google “goldilocks” and the number of hits is a rough count of how many earthlike planets exist in our galaxy—until you google it again and get more. We’ll likely meet some neighbors in the next 20 years—and if they behave as we do, we’ll need our Space Force. Twenty years ago, we thought we were “the universe becoming conscious of itself.” But then we met the lowly sea squirt, an animal that swims around until it attaches to a rock, digests its own brain, and becomes a plant. Consciousness may just be the ability to suck in one thing and squirt out something different. From a godly point of view, consciousness may herald an animal’s becoming untethered from reality—until it obliterates its nest, and life starts over.
Yikes! What’s a real seeker to do?
Well, consider the aboriginal practice of “stalking the mind.” Twenty years ago, that practice might have been estimated at 1,000 years old. Now it could be as old as the use of fire—400,000 years or more. Seriously. Against the backdrop of real human time, our old-time religions can seem like Country & Western songs—soulful yearnings for a yesterday that never was nor will be. Meanwhile, our technologies—empowering as they are—haven’t made us happier, less lonely, or better people than hunter/gatherers. I think that’s important.
Because after 20 years of being wrong, I still know this: No matter who you are or what story shapes your life, the myriad forms of spiritual practice—stalking the mind (30), “morning pages” (28), bringing food to the grieving (32), “nested meditations” (40)—remain real, timeless, and helpful for boosting happiness and health and building peace.
This 20th Anniversary Issue shares old and new stories and practices and is intended as a toolkit for “Becoming the Great Soul You Want to See in the Mirror.” (26) You get the unshakable wisdom of our Roadside Oracle, Rabbi Rami. (48) You get to design your own Hero Quest (68) and meet emerging leaders you might want to join. (54) You’ll also hear from Marianne Williamson, who topped our reader poll and could be our next president. (62)
The next 20 years might be the New American Love Revolution—or not. So, what should you do? Gandhi said it best: “Whatever you do will be insignificant. But it is very important that you do it!”
Why? Because “It’s the best possible time to be alive . . .”