Life Adventure Consulting: Part 1 of 2

THE Problem: As You’ve Never Heard it Stated Before

There is a problem faced by nearly everyone I’ve ever known or met. We often have emotional, and physical, pain from this cause. 

  • Businesses lose millions of dollars a year as a result of this problem. 
  • Children are neglected or abused because of this problem. 
  • Marriages end because of this problem. 

It affects people of all walks of life, of every religion, around the entire globe and it’s existed nearly since the dawn of time, although for much of history it didn’t occur to anyone that such a problem could exist. Now there are billion dollar industries trying to solve this problem, most of which don’t work long term, and some of which are outright scams.

We see people treating symptoms of this problem but almost no one has a cohesive treatment for the underlying cause of all these painful side effects.  

I’m going to attempt to do something no one ever has before and state the universal problem clearly and simply. 

We don’t know how to live. 

That’s right. The core issue beneath most of our difficulties in life can be summed up by saying that we don’t know how to live. 

Now of course we all navigate our way through each day, based on a combination of habits we formed incidentally over the years and a certain amount of will power we exert to handle specific things we’re facing. But something inside us knows that there is more. I’m talking about a LIFE, the kind that is marked by joy. The kind that carries us toward more life each day and away from toxic things that rob us. 

Our hearts crave two things nearly every day. A way to navigate the day that moves us toward our goals, and a way to engage with something larger than ourselves, a deeper meaning, our reason for being. 

What we feel like the answer should be is some kind of purpose, a guiding light to help us navigate and inspire us to live our best life. Yet something is missing. Some illusive piece of the puzzle evades our search and no guru who claims to have the answer has ever produced the missing piece. 

The answers seem to work and then in a few weeks, or a few months, we uncover another void in the picture. Masking the issue is our own childhood. When we’re young we know that we don’t know what’s up. We spend the first ¼ to ⅓ of our lives not only learning information intentionally, but also gleaning meta information through observing how the world works and who we are in it.

A lot of what we learn this way is dead wrong. 

Current Potential Answers

During my lifetime, there has been three main groups of people demanding an answer to this problem and three types of teacher that has risen up to meet that demand. 

Type 1: Gurus/Success Coaches

When it comes to treating symptoms Success Coaches are at the top of the game. No blame/shame, they have done a great job of observing problems and investigating solutions based on evidence. This approach isn’t wrong but it doesn’t get at the core issue. 

Type 2: Clergy 

We’d expect people to turn to religion for answers and the clergy respond. The core of their work is salvation, which means after this life you go to heaven. But people innately need answers to how to live now. For this the clergy turn to the bible and to the world. 

The little secret most Clergy have is that they don’t have a clue how we should live. The religious answer is, you’re going to heaven when you die, try not to sin very much between now and then. Of course there are biblical principles about how to live, but for some reason they don’t seem to yield the long term change. One reason is that they require faith and other mysteries that are hard to maintain consistently. 

So, Clergy have turned to the Success Gurus for their evidence based answers, which they then baptize by finding biblical justifications. These ideas work about as well as the other biblical answers, but they join the litany of principles, rules, and regulations that religion promotes in place of relationship with God.

Type 3: Gurus/New Age

Those who have been turned off to religion, but are aware that something else exists in the universe often turn to New Age, even if it’s under a number of lighter names. New Age, ironically does the reverse of what the clergy have done. These Gurus stumble on or search out kingdom principles without accessing them through the bible. But their version is devoid of God and won’t lead to lasting answers either. 

I’m not saying that the bible is wrong. It’s not. It’s full of answers. It needs a good lens to view it through to get to the answers. The bible is meant to be read with the author. Without the author’s help it can lead to truth without the power. Unfettered by relying on the bible, and believing in spiritual things these gurus reach out with their senses and blind faith to find answers that help about as well as the evidence based ones of success coaches, and the biblical based ones of the Clergy. 

In all this I’m not blaming anyone so far. I’m not saying the answers these folks come up with are demonic or ill-intentioned. Most of them even work–at least a little, and for a time. As with illness, when you treat symptoms with medication you often just suppress the pain & obvious effects, or chase the symptoms to another location. Sometimes it creates whole new symptoms elsewhere. 

Secondary Problems

The primary problem is that treating symptoms won’t give us a way to live. The search for answers and the need to supply those answers has created three possible paths discussed above.

The first effect of all this is that there are three times the possible answers to sort through. People are inundated with potential answers and the only way to find what works is to try them out–one at a time. It’s a process I call auditioning. Facing the prospect of all those potential options is overwhelming. The need to find a solution to this almost impossible to articulate problem has already made us feel overwhelmed. So we are doubly overwhelmed.

The second effect of all these potential options comes from our non-stop autioning. Everytime we try something out and it doesn’t work, we get a little more resigned to the idea that there is no answer out there. 

The Premodern mind existed in a world with little explanation. It was big and dangerous and death could come without warning or explanation. It was a time of God’s and titans who pulled strings in unseen realms that affected your daily life. The rains came or didn’t, fires came or didn’t. Fate was not in your hands. 

Side note: there were two ways to deal with this, accept it as beyond you or battle for control despite it all. Either way you worshiped the local god and made offerings, just to cover the bases. 

In the Modern Age, science began to explain things and by faith most men accepted that anything there wasn’t a current explanation for would one day be explained. This also took two forms. Religious modernists believed in studying God through the scriptures, while secular man put his faith in science. Of course, there was still a contingent of people who either didn’t care to explore for answers or were too busy trying to survive. 

Now we’re in a Postmodern Era. A lot of people hate postmodernism but this is the age we are in, like it or not. Today we suffer from a grand disillusion because science and bible reading haven’t yielded the answer. I’m not saying God isn’t the answer, I’m saying we didn’t find anything in the bible that solves the problem without requiring faith. 

Since the large institutional answer has failed us, these days we are left with our own private search. That’s not entirely a bad thing. The hallmark of postmodernism is trying to examine what’s failed about the premodern solution and the modern solution. Postmodernism suggests that if there is any hope to finding the answer it’s taking what works from everything so far and creating a custom answer. 

Postmodern is Almost Right

They are onto something. The answer is undoubtedly at least somewhat unique to each of us individually. And they are right, the premodern idea (faith in God) is true, and a modern idea of scientific exploration is true. 

We can also learn from what they got wrong. Both eras suffered from pride and idolatry. 

Modernism in it’s faith in man’s ability to suss out an answer either by science or through the perfect combination of principles based loosely on interpretation of the bible (aka theology).

Premodern invented religion. They were the first to look at the works of God and make it about what he did and not who He was. 

Imagine you’re a villager under attack by an enemy and a hero saved you. He left behind a gun, which is technology beyond your comprehension. His intent was to promise you that you are safe and if trouble returns so will he. The villagers put the gun on display in a glass case on an altar. A couple generations later they worship the gun. No one remembers what this tool does or the one who carried it in their defense. 

Premodern man knew what was in the scriptures and they put it to practice. It became about the practice and not God. That is the spirit of religion. 

The scriptures point to an author. Nature points to a creator. Modern man, the era we’re coming out of, had a conceited belief that they could either find the answers by their own means or through the practice of religious doctrines found in the scriptures. The catholic church had the scriptures and “tradition” through which they interpreted the scriptures. Martin Luther got rid of tradition but left the church scripture. 

Of course, scripture is perfect. I’m glad we have it. It’s just that it only points to God. Tradition can be a tool to understand what the scriptures say about how to live life. But it can also be misleading. 

Modern Christians aren’t aware how much they are guided by tradition. Which is a topic for another section.

Unlearning

One of the big things we’ll need to do is unlearn the wrong ideas and habits we’ve developed. (A lot of people say we shouldn’t call them wrong ideas, because they are actually just unhelpful or ineffective. I call them wrong because what they are is false self knowledge. Consider the possibility that these ideas, these bits of wrong info might work for someone else, but they don’t work for you. So they are inauthentic. Which is a concept we’ll go into more later.)

Wrong ideas come in a few forms. 

One is things we learn by personal observation and experience as we grow up. Another is the belief systems of other people. We can inherit belief systems from our parents, teachers, and friends. You can read a lot of great information about belief systems and its worth doing.

One of the most common and underrecognized ways we inherit belief systems is through tradition. Americans aren’t very aware of how much tradition we have. The feeling is that most people who came here early on were leaving behind something they didn’t want anymore, and eventually they started coming here because the new culture that was built provided opportunities the culture they left behind didn’t.

In a way, Americans have more culture than most countries because we have inherited from every nationality that came here, as well as creating our own from them. 

America is the first postmodern nation because there was a deliberate attempt to bring what works and leave behind what doesn’t. 

If you suddenly feel surrounded by belief systems don’t worry. They are no more harmful to you than they were a few minutes ago. You will need to identify and eliminate wrong beliefs but there is a right and wrong way to go about it. I’ll lay out more on that in Part 2 of this post, coming Wednesday.

One thought on “Life Adventure Consulting: Part 1 of 2

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s