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Emblem depicting wisdom standing on the world.

Hard-won personal wisdom is the only cure for spiritual hunger.

For decades now, many in the West have suffered from a peculiar kind of spiritual anorexia. This disease of the spirit, extremely widespread, stems from our anti-introspection and anti-intellectual attitude. We favour extraversion over introversion and regard the pursuit of knowledge (as opposed to mere information) as the work of boring nerds and eccentric geeks. However, such wilful myopia comes at a cost. When we turn our backs on genuine understanding, we turn our backs on wisdom. But wisdom is the nourishing food of the spirit. Therefore, on the spiritual plane we are like anorexic girls – we refuse to “eat.”

Caught up in a period of rapid social and technological change, Westerners have lost sight of who they are. The near total dominance of the left has saddled us with a cultural bias that sneers at anything not considered strictly secular. The bias erroneously relegates the spirit to the realm of religion. With this bias in place, many “progressive” Westerners see no need to concern themselves with matters of the spirit. Yet they hunger in a way they cannot comprehend. Others redefine the spiritual in bizarre ways and plunge into foolish admiration of primitive cultures, simplistic pop-psychology, or the assumption of New Age beliefs that amount to indiscriminately believing everything – so long as it is not called religion – no matter how stupid or irrational it may be. The somewhat more sophisticated adopt Eastern philosophical practices such as Buddhism even though they are utterly at odds with the Western traditions of progress and knowledge that made the West great.

That felt-but-not-understood spiritual hunger prompts many to gobble up one of these beliefs then, realizing its worthlessness, regurgitate it in a bulimic purge. Their hunger intact, they then move on to another. They will consider virtually anything, in fact, so long as it does not require them to think and learn. Reason is strictly taboo since it spoils this smorgasbord of junk food belief systems by quickly exposing their many deficiencies and shortcomings. Blind belief is so much easier than insightful thinking.

Acquiring genuine wisdom is the only way to assuage spiritual hunger. As with all worthwhile things, doing so requires sustained effort. Useful wisdom is always personal and demands that we walk the long path of self-discovery and self-realization. (Interestingly, pursuing self-realization in a shallow pop-psych form can be a way of avoiding authentic self-discovery.) The passionate pursuit of some creative endeavour, which can lead to profound personal transformation, calls for commitment and hard work. Unable to see the long-term benefits, most shun such difficult paths and passively endure their spiritual hunger or gobble up what cannot possibly sustain them. Westerners, spiritually, are like hungry cave dwellers who, lacking the courage of the hunt, sit and starve by the fire making do with grimy roots and dried-up berries.