I was a loner. And a cynic. I pored over philosophy books on Friday nights with a box of wine. The little time I did spend with other people ended in debates over the state of humanity, which I believed was doomed. I went to class. I wrote my papers. I passed by on the conveyor belt largely unnoticed. I listened to music, blasting, in my $390/ month apartment in the slums of Worcester, MA. I would go hiking and camping whenever my meager funds allowed me to. Every relationship I was ever a part of served only to further amplify my loneliness. I could not find a solid rock to stand on anywhere, so I set my sights on a peak unseen and began to climb. But on top of cliffs is not where we are meant to dwell.
I came from a long line of alcohol and drug abusers. As I grew older I learned that this was the norm not only for myself but also for my peers. As I watched drugs and alcohol destroy the lives of my family, I began to experiment with them myself. I did more than just dabble in the psychedelic realm on the weekends; I convinced myself that it brought me closer to God. DMT, produced in our brains, is referred to as the 'spirit molecule,' said to be released during birth, death, hallucinations, and sleep. It was from God, so I must be intended to vaporize it to my heart's content. Marijuana is a flower. Psilocybin mushrooms grow from the ground and reduced me to a hyper-aware and undeniably useless state of euphoric love for our interconnected existence. With every trip I developed what I thought was a deeper love for my fellow man--a clearer perception of reality that dissipated all too quickly once I returned to the wretched state of sobriety, a state that left me all too aware of my loneliness. And then it was back to the daily grind of work, school, and play.
I thought I saw society for what it was, valuing personal success in fulfilling one's purpose, with progress being defined within its limited scope. Convinced as I was that I was set apart from my morally degraded peers, I was really just another lost soul that the world had molded into a pre-fashioned box of optimal productivity and assimilation into society as it already stands. "A rat in a maze is free to go anywhere, as long as it stays inside the maze" (Atwood, The Handmaid's Tale). I knew deep down that I was a rat too, just like everyone else. I knew that as a member of society, there was no escaping it--but at least I knew that I was inside of a maze.
"Our civilization being what it is, you've got to spend eight hours out of every twenty-four as a mixture between an imbecile and a sewing machine. It's very disagreeable, I know. It's humiliating and disgusting. But there you are. You've got to do it, otherwise the whole fabric of our world will fall to bits and we'll starve. Do the job then, idiotically and mechanically; and spend your leisure hours in being a real complete man or woman" (Huxley, Point Counter Point).
We perceive creation and our existence as purposeless. This take on reality perfectly lends itself to the shallow and self-centered lifestyle which pervades our culture, our practices, our beliefs, our minds, and our spirits, "for if there's no everlasting God, there's no such thing as virtue, and there's no need of it" (Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamzov). Under this regime we grow more and more dissatisfied, unfulfilled, and empty. We increase our consumption, becoming numb and disconnected from one another and from our selves. We ride on false highs and temporary escapes from reality through pleasurable and isolating pursuits.
The wicked spirits of the modern world continually whisper of distractions, but in exchange for their promises of entertainment and ease, we must learn to silence our conscience. If we hear its faint whisperings we shift our thoughts to something more comfortable, glancing down at our expensive watch, an emblem of a collective veneration of time--if only we knew what to do with it. Nothing could keep me distracted from my innate knowledge of good and evil for long. I couldn't shake off this awareness, but I also couldn't live in accordance with it. So I continued running from it, searching desperately for something undefinable to fill my emptiness.
I believed in God, but did nothing to actively seek Him. I felt a deep-seated depression at the thought of what our creator must think of the mindless mass of pleasure seeking machines that we had all become. I was convinced that God is love. Understanding all things interwoven with the rest of the universe solidified me on the path to "strive to love your neighbour actively.... In as far as you advance in love you will grow surer of the reality of God and of the immortality of your soul. If you attain to perfect self-forgetfulness in the love of your neighbour, then you will believe without doubt, and no doubt can possibly enter your soul. This has been tried. This is certain" (Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamzov). I spent my days seeking this all-encompassing, freeing love that I was reading and dreaming about, but I could not locate it anywhere.
The music I listened to staved off the soul-crushing depression that would have descended had I believed I was the only one feeling these things. "All I perceive is wasted and broken," belted out Jeff Mangum..."And if the holidays don't hollow out your eyes/ Then press yourself against whatever you find to be beautiful and trembling with life." I did press myself against what I found to be beautiful and trembling with life, but I still found myself lifeless. I created a world in my mind where I was following the spirit and living by my conscience..."tell me spirit, what has not been done? I'll rush out and do it--or are we doing it now?" This world was imaginary; there was no reality behind these concepts in my life, but it was all that I had.
I made it my highest focus to be completely transparent with myself. "Above all, do not lie to yourself. A man who lies to himself and listens to his own lie comes to a point where he does not discern any truth either in himself or anywhere around him, and thus falls into disrespect towards himself and others. Not respecting anyone, he ceases to love, and having no love, he gives himself up to passions and coarse pleasures, in order to occupy and amuse himself, and in his vices reaches complete bestiality, and it all comes from lying continually to others and to himself" (Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov). I had learned that to try to reach this zenith of transparency and truth with another human being always ended painfully. A lack of true human connection further entrenched me in my lonely life, but I convinced myself that I was fulfilled by my books, music, knowledge, drugs, and cynicism. After all, "actual happiness always looks pretty squalid in comparison with the overcompensations for misery" (Huxley, Brave New World). I knew this wasn't a life that was glorifying our creator. I lived under the pretense I was doing best I could, given the circumstances. The compromise of one's soul is a gradual deception.
I would imagine the day when it would all become clear to us to appreciate the life we were given. I hoped for a greater spiritual reality that I could share with others, when we would all "look around at the gifts of God, the clear sky, the pure air, the tender grass, the birds" and realize that "nature is beautiful and sinless, and we, only we, are sinful and foolish, and we don't understand that life is heaven, for we have only to understand that and it will at once be fulfilled in all its beauty, we shall embrace each other and weep" (Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamzov). I imagined a day when we would all be humbled by this truth--when we could be cut by it together. I would watch the faces of those who I walked by, noting the fleeting eye contact, the anxiety. In the passing moments of pseudo-connection I would glimpse the depression and dejection in their eyes, how disconnected they seemed from the world and others. I felt pity, anger, and resentment for all of these passerby's, under the illusion that I was any different. I wanted to scream from the tops of buildings: "Do you not know that there comes a midnight hour when every one has to throw off his mask? Do you believe that life will always let itself be mocked? But he who cannot reveal himself cannot love, and he who cannot love is the most unhappy man of all" (Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling). I wanted to snap people out of their drudgery, even though I was also neck deep in it.
Just before going under, I met a group of people whose lives surpassed all of my wildest dreams of peace, love, and unity. They lived together, worked together, and shared all things in common. There was no pretense among them, and for the first time I truly felt my fallen condition. I desperately wanted to join them, and they welcomed me with open arms and eyes unveiled and filled with love.
The crooked way in all of us is what made the world a crooked place to live, but the good news I have found in the Twelve Tribes of Israel is the message of man's salvation, and salvation is being redeemed for the purpose you were created for, which is that our Father appointed man, whom He created, to rule and restore the earth. We do not let the sin of men confound us in our doings; we do not fear that it will wear away our works of love and hinder its being accomplished. We know that there is only one means of salvation, to love our Creator more than ourselves. This love manifests itself in a love for others that forgets the self. This way of life is the only way that we can live by our conscience.
Our Father gave us a conscience and he set eternity in our hearts, and the key to eternity is love--a true, all-encompassing love that has never been seen on the earth. If you are satisfied with your life in this world, then go ahead and carry on sleeping, for "it's always possible to wake someone from sleep, but no amount of noise will wake someone who is pretending to be asleep" (Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals). Living in community with others of my same heart, I have found the place I have been seeking, a place where we look one another straight in the eye, knowing that the heart of man is a battle between good and evil. "And can it be a dream, that in the end man will find his joy only in deeds of light and mercy, and not in cruel pleasures as now, in gluttony, fornication, ostentation, boasting and envious rivalry of one with the other?" (Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov). In my fallen state my heart will always be a battleground, but triumphing over the darkness inside of me no longer remains a distant dream. I am learning what it means to truly walk in love and not just dream of it, what it means to build and not just add to the destruction. I have joined the ranks of those who will no longer allow evil to triumph over our souls; we aim to restore the streets for all to dwell (Isaiah 58.12).
We know that there are others like we once were, lost in the world of selfish pursuit and deep in the struggle of wanting to follow our conscience as our flesh battled mercilessly against this aim. We know that there are others who would give everything to do our Father's will, they just don't know of a place in the desolate world where they can forsake their life and their fleshly pursuits and live for others. A place like this sounds like something out of a dream, a hallucination, or some other means of escapism. There is a force at work on the Earth that is bent on destroying human beings and all of the dignity that remains in them. In a plot to turn their eyes onto themselves, all goodness will be leached from creation and the force of evil will reign in the thick darkness that has already begun to spread over the earth. The world is under the sway of the evil one, his spirits masquerade as the comforting distractions from our gnawing conscience. The conscience was created to bring about the struggle of seeking; Satan wants to distract people from this struggle. Man not only failed to rule the earth and rule over Satan, but he himself was now ruled over by Satan. To disobey Satan is to destroy him. When anyone disobeys evil and does good, Satan is conquered (Hebrews 5.8-9; 10.13). Only by knowing the true Man, the One who disobeyed Satan in all things--Yahshua--can we disobey Satan, even unto death. Anything short of laying down our lives daily for our savior Yahshua just continues to build Satan's kingdom.
Are you frustrated with the doped up state of the modern world? Good, for this dissatisfaction is from God. Our Father can realize His purpose only through those who are broken in spirit. I am no longer alone and lost at sea, hanging on to a broken piece of a dead tree for dear life. The ship I am now on is sailing hard and fast towards the kingdom of God, and the wind in our sails is the glory we bring to his name through loving deeds and hearts over-flowing with gratitude and fortitude for the rough waters ahead. If our life of love shakes you from your bed and stirs your heart from its deep slumber, then abandon the barren landscape of the modern world. We need you to help us bring about the purpose of mankind, the purpose that our Father intended for us all from the beginning.