“Please God, don’t let them be out of coffee”.
Although we’re all guilty of saying prayers like these every now and then, the reality is that our society is more disconnected from spirituality than ever. In fact, such in-the-moment pleas are probably the closest many people get to acknowledging some sort of higher power in their life nowadays. Why is that?
Religion is literally as old as time, yet its prevalence has dwindled over the centuries – and especially the past few decades. You could blame this on any number of things, from the rise of scientific thought and rationalism to the sheer convenience of living in an increasingly digital world. But Rainn sees it as an intrinsically-driven disconnect, one that we have all developed through our perceptions of faith itself.
Many of us are first introduced to spirituality at a young age, either through parents or close relatives. They set the stage for how we see, and ultimately how much we respect it. The only problem is that no one’s perfect, so hypocrisy in those same people sow our doubts in the actual value of believing.
Rainn has real-life experience with this; he grew up watching his parents fight and make each other miserable in spite of the Baha’i Faith that kept them together. It’s easy to want to shun religion altogether when you see it as the antagonist of your own life. But beyond that, he also thinks spirituality’s decline can be attributed to a lack of humility. Believing in a God means believing in a higher power. It means having a willingness to surrender and ask for help. That’s not something we’re all good at.
The Intrinsic Value of Believing
We like to think that we can control everything, but it’s only when we learn to accept our limits that faith can make any real difference in our lives.
Sometimes this happens through reflection, while in others it comes by force. Like many people, Rainn attempted to self-medicate his looming childhood pain and anxiety for years. But like all worldly things, alcohol can only do so much. It led him down a path of despair, until he realized that what he really needed was some form of spiritual healing.
One of Rainn’s favorite quotes by Julia Cameron is “I come to spirituality not out of virtue, but out of necessity”. It illustrates this point well, but also begs an important question: What is that necessity driven by?
Is it an addiction to caffeine? A belief that in-the-moment prayers to God will turn things in our favor? Hopefully not. Because faith has transcended time for far too long to be that meaningless. The true value of believing comes intrinsically.
From fear of death to sense of purpose, opening our perspective can change the way we choose to live our lives on a day-to-day basis.
Twenty-first century culture is driven by an addiction to digital dopamine and social validation. Mindfulness and meditation have the power to replace the anxiety it causes with self-awareness and understanding, serving as a ground level for us to build a better relationship with ourselves and those around us.
The Need for Meaningful Conversations
Rainn’s new book delves deep into his lifelong journey through spirituality. With it, he hopes to create a “primer” to more serious conversations on the topic.
He believes that today’s youth – particularly the younger generations – are not curious enough about important spiritual questions. Is there a God? What happens when we die? If we are a soul having a human experience for 80 or 9 years, what does that mean? How does it all work? How can I make myself more connected to the world around me? Living a richer life starts with meaningful reflections like these.
Rainn wants to bridge the gap between those who are deeply entrenched in faith and those who are new to searching for something more. He notes that a large share of Americans have an open mind to spirituality in one way or another, yet don’t identify with any single religion. Having been raised in a unique community of belief, he also highlights the diversity of outlooks people may have.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re atheist. And it doesn’t matter if you’re Lutheran or Methodist, or you’re Hindu or Sikh or Buddhist,” he says. “Whatever you are, these tools and these questions and these conversations can help you”.
Finding Your Own Path
Back to the first couple of points, people have more than one reason to be disengaged with religion. It’s not just about the beliefs, but also how those beliefs are put into practice and shared with the world.
How can you find your own path? There are a few things to consider.
Firstly, it’s important to think critically and challenge the beliefs that have been passed down to you by your parents or other family members. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and explore different perspectives, even if it means going against what is considered the norm.
Secondly, seek out resources and support from people who are on a similar journey. You don’t have to be alone in your search for meaning, and Rainn has made it clear that he’s an advocate for spiritual exploration and growth.
Lastly, it’s important to be open-minded and compassionate towards other people and their beliefs. You don’t have to agree with everyone all the time, but you can still respect their right to believe what they want. This goes for your own beliefs as well – if you find that something isn’t working for you, don’t be afraid to let it go and move on.
Rainn Wilson’s insights and thoughts on spirituality are nothing short of astounding. Through his career, he has proven that unconventional paths are possible, and that we all have the ability to create our own version of faith. His book is an amazing guide through this journey – giving us the tools we need to find our own meaning in life and make it a more beautiful place. I highly recommend reading ‘Soul Boom: Why We Need a Spiritual Revolution‘ if and when you need a moment of enlightenment.
If you want to hear more from Rainn Wilson, check our previous episode on creativity, faith, and making work that matters.