"Men esteem truth remote, in the outskirts of the system, behind the farthest star, before Adam and after the last man. In eternity there is indeed something true and sublime. But all these times and places and occasions are now and here. God culminates in the present moment, and will never be more divine in the lapse of all the ages. And we are enabled to apprehend at all what is sublime and noble only by the perpetual instilling and drenching of the reality that surrounds us. The universe constantly and obediently answers to our conceptions... Let us spend our lives in conceiving then." - Henry David Thoreau, Walden
The most formative years of our lives are aligned by the common theme of submission. Or perhaps this is more appropriately stated as a command - SUBMIT.
And submit we do.
From the moment we come into this world, we are dependent upon others for survival. We learn early the lessons of power and the fundamental dynamics of control and submission, weakness and strength.
Most are fortunate in that those who control them also love them and provide for them. But there is no doubt that our first lesson is dependence - and those on whom we depend, our first authorities.
Despite widely varying degrees of success in parenting, we all bear the imprint of this most fundamental dynamic. Granted, it does not mean that this will dominate the entire trajectory of our lives, but it does have a specific gravity that is different from person to person and contingent upon the level of supplemental exposure to the same power dynamic. The more this dynamic is reinforced through redundant external forces, the more difficult it becomes to evolve beyond a certain point of mental, psychological, and spiritual paralysis.
Sadly, we have constructed an entire world of institutional surrogates - most a manifestation of our need for parental protection against an entire assortment of scary unknowns. These institutions provide both a physical and metaphysical separation between us and whatever fear awaits. And many live happily within the parameters of this illusion because it bears the hallmarks of material reality - buildings and uniforms and conference rooms and lecture halls and lounges and such.
Of course, not every institution is inherently evil. However, if judged by the outcomes and byproducts they create, they seem to serve as mechanisms of some form of human destruction or another.
Just witness the outcome of over a century of compulsory education. The stereotypical meme of the dumb American is not without cause. Unfortunately.
We spend twelve years under fluorescent lights, mostly in neat little rows of uncomfortable, germ-infested desks, for eight hours a day - getting an education. During the most vibrant, energetic, and creative years of our lives, we sit and receive instructions and obey rules and learn to conform. The powerful dynamic of submission is reinforced on a daily basis. And an individual's potential is at the least stymied and sometimes demolished altogether by the unnatural conditions of this unnatural creation.
Compulsory education constructs an artificial extension of childhood. And as college enrollment increases, more and more "adults" spend their first 22 years waiting for life to begin.
Before compulsory education, these hard realities weighed in and were recognized and had to be managed from an early age. Today it seems we have forgotten that real life experience is the best teacher and offers the most substantial lessons. The only real lesson learned in today's public school is submission.
Of course, religious and governmental institutions are just as culpable when it comes to reinforcing this familiar paradigm. And though submission applies itself on many levels, the most harmful component is that which operates on our capacity for reason.
Just as many students will dutifully accept the word of the teacher regarding facts and figures, history and science, art and literature, so does the member of the congregation accept the authority of the church, the priest, the holy book (whose history of misinterpretation and abuse is easily disregarded by the believer). So too does the citizen accept the word and authority of the government and its agencies in matters "too complex" for common consumption.
The individual's intellectual, emotional, and spiritual development is hindered by the constant submission to institutions and their "authorities" and "specialists" and "experts".
The only way to avoid bitterness and paralysis is to create your own cosmology based on direct experience. Bypass the system and start fresh. If you want to experience God, go into nature, experience the creation itself.
What do you see? What can you observe? What can you learn about the mind of God?
Go into yourself, the most complex of creations, and journey within.
What do you find there? What do you discover?
How can you take these direct experiences and conceptions and bring them in to material reality? How do you take them from the realm of imagination and make them manifest? What do you learn from this act of creation? What does the evaluation of your own creative process teach you about the mind of the ultimate Creator?
Here you see direct evidence based upon your own unique, individual experience - without filter or middle-man or agent or institution. Here you compare your direct experiences with others. Here you gain more insight. Here you evolve and progress and develop from the ground up. As do we all. A congregation of individuals exploring the mysteries and complexities of reality.
But institutions are top-down structures made for the purposes of control and management of the masses. Such has been the case throughout history. The more complex and condensed the population becomes, the more institutions put in place, the less freedom that is enjoyed by those outside the ruling class.
Death by pyramid.
Avoid the authority of men in robes offering books and tradition and ritual. Beware those in suits and ties. Beware of bureaucrats and teachers. Disregard their structures and their hierarchies and their doctrines.
With a focus on direct experience and a disregard for those paradigms which have been imposed or borrowed, the habit of submission is broken. All you have to do is treat your own thoughts, ideas, and experiences as sacred. Find ways to manifest these ideas and discoveries into a tangible, material form. Discover the meaning of those famous lines made manifest by the imagination of 19th century poet, Walt Whitman, and used to sell iPads:
"The powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse."
That is, unless you are reading someone else's lines.