Do you know your North Star?
The higher authority, value or principle by which your life is guided, and to which you can only bow at the end of the day?
As human beings, we need something greater, higher, deeper in our lives to align ourselves with.
We need it to uplift us, to straighten ourselves out.
Something that we simultaneously worship and willingly surrender to. Something that we aim to get closer to through a dedicated practice.
It is relatively unimportant how we name it, or what metaphors of Greater, Higher or Deeper we try to use in order to put it into language.
“It” is not dependent on how we name it, but we are dependent on what relationship we cultivate with it.
Worship and surrender often sound suspiciously like fundamentalism or self-sacrifice to us modern people.
However, only that which is greater than my individual self can provide real meaning and strength in life.
There is a wisdom saying that says that we all worship something, even – or especially – when we think we are already beyond that.
In that case what then often sits on the throne is either a cynical nihilism or a strong identification with the material world as the end point of all life.
Where we once revered a God-given order and the great myths, the Western Enlightenment has put a story of reason and progress at the forefront.
After the tragedies of the 20th century, belief in progress was also somewhat knocked off its throne, and since then we are searching without finding, or simply rejecting any form of a higher authority.
In the absence of a shining star of orientation, the individual and its sensitivities increasingly become the highest good.
As important as it is, the individual alone is simply not a good North Star, in the same way that hoping that artificial intelligence or the flight to Mars will save us from facing the problems we have created ourselves.
In a time of crisis and change, where our North Star is located or what we follow, becomes even more apparent.
If we don’t know what we want to practice and how we want to use the gift of our life, then life is using us – and we mostly follow unconscious preferences, avoid fear, pain or shame, and operate in the current cultural norms.
But if we only follow these unconscious principles (usually without being aware of it), we increasingly revolve around ourselves, and thus only move in circles.