2020 and 2021 were challenging years for a lot of people because of the pandemic and the many social reactions to the Covid-19.
Through 2022 and 2023, inflation and costs of living along with more strife and war in parts of the world have created additional tensions. Environmental crises are spurring more fear and anxiety.
Now artificial intelligence is disrupting how we use technology and how technology talks to us. Many jobs will become obsolete causing more people to have to change careers.
Oh, and the U.S. is about to go through another presidential election cycle at a time when the media (and people) are paying attention to/promoting the most incendiary and extreme actions and words.
Holy cow. We need a break!
I imagine some of you are reading this post for hopeful predictions for 2024 and the coming years. Well, I have 4 predictions at the end.
Additionally, for this year’s update, I’m going to focus more on hope.
Where is that hope?
Awakening to the Power of Your Choice
With so much going on, it only makes choosing this path more urgent.
It makes you choosing this path more urgent.
Despite how this culture can make people feel small and worthless, it is important to understand that YOU MATTER.
YOUR CHOICES MATTER.
THERE IS NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT MOMENT TO DO YOUR SPIRITUAL INNER WORK.
I know that there are big issues at play. But these issues grew up out of lots of tiny little actions. We can change the tide, but we have to both do it collectively and one drop at a time.
Will you join your little droplet with mine to help change this cultural flow towards peace and kindness?
Spiritual Awakening and Hope Are Now
This post and this spiritual awakening blog are about surrendering to the Now. This is where the awakened/conscious awareness Is.
Originally, I first wrote this post in 2012. Back then there was a different kind of enthusiasm going.
It was defined by naive hope.
People were excited about the idea of peace, love, and harmony entering all of humanity in one fell swoop. People did what they usually do, however, which was to look for an external event to make life all better.
Yes, in 2012, many spiritual quests, techniques, and journeys were the latest sugar pill. Take two, and you’ll feel better in the morning; the unconscious ego is always looking outside of itself for fulfillment.
And of course, nothing really changed.
At the end of 2022, people hoped differently. They hoped to return to some idea of normalcy and ultimately safety.
That didn’t happen.
Instead, inflation, more climate change disasters, and war.
That’s the problem with naive hope. It does nothing. It can very easily turn to despair.
Empowered hope is different. Empowered hope requires you to see what is real and in many instances take action.
Going Within for a Timeless Event
Here’s the big truth about the awakened space: it is timeless. The awakened presence within you is always here in the moment. You can’t get to it, and you can’t lose it.
Now this may sound counter to what I blog about, but what this blog is actually discussing is dissolving attachments and illusions that hide and distract from the present moment. The person on this path to spiritual freedom isn’t trying to get to awareness. They’re learning to let go of their ego that is distracted by false beliefs and ignores present moment realities.
For this blog, I define a spiritual awakening as a sustained movement of the ego dissolving. It is a continuing collapse of the constant remembering to not see what is REAL.
This is what I help my students with.
The ego is a lens that skews reality, but sometimes, a part of us quits creating illusions. It’s like we are so exhausted that something stops, and a view of life from pure awareness begins to be revealed. That’s an awakening or at the very least, a spiritual opening.
Something changes in a person.
Maybe something changed in you!
And you no longer want to put the focus you once did into remembering your ego self.
Since an ego is a constant state of action in remembering who you are,
it has to fall away if
you stop giving it energy.
In general, a spiritual awakening as I describe it is rare. So too is a serious drive to become conscious. The latter can and should be cultivated. More often than not, it is that drive to let go and become conscious that is more important than any singular experience or event called “spiritual awakening.”
We’re Still Human
Even when someone does awaken, they are still human. Awakening doesn’t erase all problems, but it seems like a lot of people think that it will. That’s partly why the furor that we had going on around 2012 was especially silly. I think a lot of people were presuming that all of humanity’s difficulties would be washed out of this world by the end of that year. I certainly was open to that possibility.
But the prediction I made at the end of that year was this: we would all still be human.
And that has been the truth. We all still have attachments.
We get angry.
We get scared.
We grieve because all of these emotions and experiences are part of the great tapestry of human life. It is part of the whole, and the awakened space has no preference over any part.
It’s all sacred.
Choosing to accept this humanness is a doorway into our inner work. Our inner work is a doorway out of suffering. Our release from suffering empowers us to consciously engage with the very real problems of the modern world.
The Great Hope for a Better World
In past updates to this post I suggested that if there is one great hope for a more conscious global human society, it is you.
That’s still true as I write today.
You are the only one in charge of you no matter what year it is nor what vortex is opening. You are the only one who can embrace all of you. If you don’t do this, no one else will. If you don’t chose to live life from a conscious state, no one else will. There’s no time to wait for someone else or for a wave of global awakening energy to wash you along to a better or “perfect” life (whatever that means for you).
But this is 2023 when I’m updating, and I would guess that global transformation is a little less interesting. You’re probably hoping for a world that is a little less terrified and a world with less social friction and outcries.
Awakening won’t give you that.
Rather, you can go within and learn to dissolve your ego that is creating fear for you. For all the external ups and downs, most of the suffering people experience is self-caused. This, in and of itself, is a humbling realization. But if you accept that, then you can get to work in letting go of your ego.
The Bigger Picture & Thank God 2023 Is Over
When 2012 was over, people went on. 2013 came, and then it went. Other years have come and gone. The fundamentals of our humanity have been largely unchanged, and Western Culture seems Hell-bent on cultivating a kind of hyper-individualism, continual striving and action, comfort-seeking, and selfishness in people. These characteristics don’t bode well for what human civilization is becoming, and depending on when you are reading this, they will be here when 2024 is over. Specific challenges of society like disease may shift, but certain cultural trends are on the rise.
Like artificial intelligence.
It’s one more technological change that we are implementing, and of which, we have no idea the long-term ramifications.
Just consider our changing perspective on social media in the last twenty years.
Years ago, it felt amazing to reconnect with former school classmates and childhood friends on social media. Now, social media is increasingly feeding the most extreme conversations or the most inane. It is being linked to the mental health crisis.
Human beings are inventing things faster than they can understand the consequences of their inventions.
Books like Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari (the error of farming) and Breath by James Nestor (the loss of jaw structure because of soft foods/lack of chewing) can help you open your mind to thinking on the larger scale of the consequences of change.
So while a lot of people will want to thank God, the Universe, or whoever for 2020 and 2021 and 2022 and now 2023 being over, there are much more fundamental issues going on at the social level.
Yet, consciousness embraces them all. We are allowed to be where we are and do whatever we want. That’s the nature of freedom.
Despite being truly free, we limit ourselves, and we tend to limit ourselves to the same types of suffering over and over again. So, if 2023 has been a challenging time for you, perhaps it’s time to truly look at yourself and how your ego attachments have and are creating your suffering.
Spiritual Awakening 2024 and 2025
If you start or renew or deepen your spiritual practice, you can turn 2024 into a year of rebirth. That is what a spiritual awakening often is–it’s a rebirth into something new by returning to the truth of who you truly ARE.
And let’s not stop with this new year. Let’s make 2025, 2026, 2027, and every year an excuse to make space for spiritual awakening and consciously dissolve ego attachments. Let’s do the work to clear away the old ego attachments structures and patterns in our lives and societies.
But with all that said, the awakened space is not waiting for us in those future years. It is still here now. It is always here now. In this present moment, this is where you can find your truest revelations, which are almost always about yourself.
Slowing Down and Removing Expectations
The awakened space can’t be at any other moment than now. Yes. I said this just a moment ago and a few moments before then.
It bears repeating.
It also bears repeating that discipline and regular practice are vital to becoming more conscious and dissolving the ego. The ego is a creature of habit. It won’t go without regular work. This reality is another reason why hoping for external world changes is naïve. Things that happen in the external world can impact us, but the real impact is if they inspire us to go within and regularly work on letting go of the ego.
And the ego will put up a fight.
In whatever year you are doing this work be it 2024, 2025, 2026, 2027, 2030, 2035, 2040, or 2050 if blogs still exist, the ego will hold on to its attachments. It’ll make you question this whole conscious path. This is where you find out how serious you are about becoming spiritually free.
This is where you find empowerment.
This is where you can choose to become a beacon of hope.
Letting Go of 2023, Coming Into the Moment
I know that 2023 was a very triggering year after three other triggering years, and it wasn’t a bed of roses before that. The desire to hope for different world events in 2024 is strong.
Again, people seek the external to fix their internal emotions.
Do your best to go within instead. Go towards the emotional triggers inside you that want life to be different/better. Bring your attention back to awareness and begin to let go of your attachments. And remember:
You are not your thoughts;
You are not your emotions;
You are not even your body;
You are consciousness;
Jim’s 4 Predictions for 2024
Thanks for reading everything. Now, I’m going to do something different; I actually offering predictions.
Along with that, I’m going to offer guidance on what we need to change.
I’ve been studying people seriously probably for my whole life, but definitely since I got serious about this path in 2006. I’ve been a teacher since 2010. I’ve watched a lot of social trends grow, and I’m deeply disturbed by what I see.
Prediction 1: Individualism and Deeper Social Fragmentation
We used to be deeply connected to our hunter-gather groups. If we were migratory, we traveled together because together is a lot easier to survive than alone. Then we had the agricultural revolution, and we were all deeply tied to the land.
Now, we are scattering in every direction like leaves in the wind. That wind may be a job, the whim of curiosity about a different place, a romantic partnership, the insane cost of living in a place, or something else.
But each time someone leaves a space, they leave in-person community. Online community does not replace that. It is not even remotely a good substitute for in-person, in-real-time connections.
But van life, online jobs/remote working, and the general hope that things will feel better some place else is breaking apart our communities more.
The result I’m predicting:
More loneliness, mental health problems, pleasure-seeking/self-medication, and desperation.
The way out:
There are multiple issues at play. Some of them will have to be solved by communities.
But a couple ways to help yourself is to give up the idea that another place or another job or another relationship is better.
Stop moving and rest.
If you can’t sit still in meditation, that’s a sign that you are over-working your nervous system already.
Also, make time for people in your life. If you want friends or romance or better relationships in general, stop moving so fast and be where you are. Create space for connection.
Learn to compromise; we can’t all have everything all the time. That mentality is part of the problem as well.
People crave community, but it’s also hard work. And community can start as we learn to take care of ourselves and make space for having people consistently in our lives IN-PERSON.
Prediction 2: More Greed and Higher Costs of Living
Desperation will lead to more clinging and grasping.
Since the dominant social beliefs say that money is happiness and safety, people will grab for more. That will drive up more costs, and the spiral will continue.
Unfortunately, some people and institutions have ways to monopolize resources, and their power and wealth will likely increase at the expense of the less powerful in society.
This will create more desperation, and sadly, I am deeply concerned about violence.
Did you hear about the shooting that happened in my hometown of Bend, OR in 2022? That happened at a Safeway two blocks from my apartment at the time. A shooting was planned for Smith Rock in October but was stopped by law enforcement before it could happen in 2023.
This desperation, of course, isn’t new in the U.S.
Do you think this trend will stop?
Think again if you think it will because the more desperate and lonely people become, the more people will reach breaking points.
The Result I’m Predicting
Putting more pressure on people to pay higher amounts for everything will fuel violence and political extremism. This is going to be a rough election cycle in the U.S.
The Way Out
We need more community builders as well as political activists.
Community builders bring people together and back to the things that matter most–being seen and supported by other people. The more supported people feel, the less they focus on consuming stuff and wasting their money and resources. Nor do they care as much about the next business deal or getting more money.
They also feel less desperate because they know they are cared for.
Politics is the nature of social discussion on what is important. Apathy took over for years, and it is still there. But people around the world need to be more active and improve at this magical thing called COMPROMISE to solve a variety of communal problems that are being ignored. Solving unresolved problems can also help to reduce the sense of desperation and feeling unheard.
You can be a political activist or community-builder. Anyone can do these things at any level of society, and they are needed at ALL levels of society.
Prediction 3: Explosion of Self-medications and Distractions
I have been blown away at the explosion of distractions and self-medications since 2010. It’s been particularly crazy in the spiritual world. People are praying for spirituality to fix things that it will never fix, and they are using every substance, technique, space, and relationship that they can to get that fix.
The bigger the set of issues, the more we hope for some magical fix.
You can see it in our movies. These are the hopeful stories we tell ourselves. We want to believe that putting a magic stone back into a special place will fix the environment (Moana) or that we can snap our fingers to bring back everything we lost (Avengers: Endgame).
But since human beings seek comfort and ease, the industries–including spirituality and self-help–that offer self-medications and distractions of all kinds will continue to grow. This will be to our detriment. Because like an untended 3-alarm house fire, not dealing with the real issues will grow to a 4-alarm house fire.
The Result I’m Predicting
A continued explosion of distractions and quick-fix solutions.
In the mix will be more complicated, expensive, and dramatic solutions that will likely still avoid the main problem or just treat symptoms.
Instead of doing the hard work of healing a person’s emotions and mind that have caused poor lifestyle choices and then changing that lifestyle, people will choose a dramatic operation like liposuction to remove the fat.
But then the issue will return, and there invariably will be complications from doing whatever dramatic thing was done.
The Way Out
Wanting to see what is real.
Prediction 4: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Creates More Losers than Winners
Finally, AI has swept the US, and it is already changing how people find and consume information.
The Result I’m Predicting
It will be used in some way to influence the elections. The people elected will impact where the U.S. goes and its impacts on the global community.
Just like social media, AI will become a thing that the people who have the time and resources and power will most bend to their will.
The Way Out
Don’t use it.
This is such a powerful thing for me to say.
My old ego structure loved technology. But now I see how many problems it has caused in every direction.
I am sure there is a positive case of using AI, but right now, I see it as change for the purpose of change with no clear objective that actually improves human lives.
Be The Hope
All these trends can be reversed collectively, but it will take us all individually choosing to change. Otherwise, things can and will get worse in 2024 and beyond.
What is it that you will choose?
Will you choose to be hope?
And we can bring amazing positive balance to our communities together.
Thanks for reading. If you are enjoying my writing, I encourage you to check out my ebook: