8.2 As you travel on this long inward journey to a complete realization of the inherent unity of all that exists, how are you to relate to others in your life?
The area of personal relationships is fraught with difficulty. It is the primary set of conditions through which karma tests the extent of your detachment from your own needs and desires. Pursuit of this secular spiritual path of Implicate Technology does not absolve you of responsibility for the general and specific welfare of others.
How this responsibility is interpreted is a matter of great cultural and personal significance. The spiritual life is passionately demanding, all-absorbing and all-fulfilling; yet your achievements along the path will have only limited value if they serve to benefit yourself alone. One of the central issues you will have to face, on this secular path, is how to adapt your awakening spiritual perception, through sustaining the practice of meditation, to the needs and demands others will make on your life.
The great and ancient Eastern civilizations have developed solutions to this problem appropriate to the needs and forms of expression of their cultures. They have understood the necessity for complete absorption in the inner process of spiritual development, and have articulated culturally relevant, that is to say generally acceptable, ways of aiding this process. In general, the solutions of the Eastern civilizations have involved an act of renunciation of the typical everyday concerns of home, family and earning a living.
This act of renunciation in order to follow a spiritual path is supported by an ancient Eastern tradition of supplying food daily to monks begging in the streets. The ordinary person, according to the values of the Eastern cultures, earns merit by assisting the beggar following a spiritual path, by providing such people with daily food. In this simple way the general culture acts to support those dedicated to the spiritual path. This act of renouncing family and friends, as well as material comforts, in pursuit of enlightenment is understood in the East as a positive act and not, as it seems to our Western scale of values, as a flight from responsibility. The Eastern paths to enlightenment usually involve single-minded dedication to the spiritual life alone. A spiritually dedicated person is understood, in a generally accepted sense, as contributing significantly to the quality of life in the Eastern cultures.
In our late-twentieth-century materialistic Western cultures, the situation faced by a person who aspires to the spiritual life is virtually the opposite of that found in the Eastern traditions. There are no generally acceptable cultural roles available for such people. In fact, in our Western societies, there is no widespread understanding of the spiritual path, either from a religious or a secular point of view.
In the face of this general and deep-rooted ignorance of the spiritual truths of life, the life of one who seeks to understand and experience the spiritual nature of reality can be beset with difficulties. The risk of incomprehension from friends, colleagues and loved ones is high. We in the West need to develop an entirely different approach from that worked out over millennia in the East to the issue of how to live a fulfilling and spiritually satisfying life.
The key to the Eastern approach is renunciation and separation: forsake home, family, friends and material comforts and mark yourself out by clothes and way of living as committed to a spiritual path. The key to this Western, secular Implicate Technology teaching is embracing and non-separation: absorb yourself in the needs of home, family, friends and wider social concerns and, in the day-to-day pressures of your life, learn to follow a spiritual path by living your ordinary life. The remainder of this chapter provides guidelines on how to mingle with the world and yet live in harmony with the inherent implicate laws governing our lives.