David R. Loy. “Lack & Transcendence. The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism.” Wisdom Publications, 2018.
Sadly, most of us don't actually know what a deep, meaningful life means, looks like, OR that it is available.
Roger Walsh MD, PhD, professor of psychiatry, philosophy, anthropology & religion at the University of California, states:
"... behind conventional religions with their myths, rituals, beliefs and dogmas, are hidden disciplines for practices for training the mind to induce the same states of consciousness that the founders had realized, and thereby opening up similar possibilities for all of us.
Religions tend to get started when an individual has some sort of breakthrough of some kind. Different founders have different kinds of breakthroughs, but they have spiritual breakthroughs of one kind or another. And the people who are effective in initiating traditions that have lasting power provide several things. First they provide an insight, a vision, a spiritually-informed understanding. Then they’re also able to transmit partly charismatically, partly technically – that is they offer a variety of practices by which other people can have the same realizations for themselves, so that they transmit two things. One is insight, understanding, a vision of the way the world and we look from that awakened place, but secondly, a set of practices which allow others to have the same insight, understanding & state of consciousness and test it out for themselves.
Now over time, as we all know, there tends to be a process of ‘truth decay’ – over time, the deeper or higher realizations tend to get lost or sidelined somewhat and what remains tends to be the belief system and the rituals around it. And in most religions, the ‘esoteric side’ – the real practices that can actually induce transformative states and psychological-spiritual maturation – tend to have become marginalized to a certain extent, to different degrees in different traditions.
One of the real tragedies in our culture is that we have no understanding, let alone popular map*, of developmental stages beyond the conventional. So we have no encouragement or call to mature beyond conventional levels, which means that most people stultify at the conventional level, having no understanding that there’s something more.
There is data from multiple fields – developmental studies, psychotherapy, psychedelic work – that the psyche really does have inherent in it, a pull to development. Maslow called it ‘self-actualization,’ other people have called it ‘self-transcendence,’ ‘moksha drive,’ Jung’s ‘individuation,’ etc, etc. And, when that drive is not recognized or fulfilled, it creates a deep profound dissatisfaction.
And the tragedy is, because our culture has no understanding of this call, that malaise is not recognized for what it is. And people look for substitute gratifications of one kind or another. And the trouble is that you can never get enough of what you don’t really want.
So there is this inherent growth dynamic in the psyche, this fact isn’t recognized, which leads to enormous suffering in our culture. Maslow called these ‘meta-pathologies’ – pathologies, not of psychosis or neurosis, but existential pathologies that emerge for people.
And we have to have a realistic view of what post-conventional development looks like, because it’s not all sweetness and light. Every new stage brings forth new opportunities, new capacities, new understandings, and new problems. There’s a dialectic of development. Every new stage has its new challenges and difficulties.
And one of the big problems for us in our culture for anyone who starts to move beyond the conventional is there’s no map to understand the problems that emerge and very little in the way of remedies.”
Roger Walsh, in an excellent 2hr interview by Rick Archer: https://batgap.com/roger-walsh/
Four excellent recent books specifically deal, in-depth, with psycho-social-spiritual maturation well beyond the conventional:
• Amoda Maa. “Embodied Enlightenment. Living Your Awakening in Every Moment.” Reveal Press, 2017.
• Shinzen Young. “The Science of Enlightenment. How Meditation Works.” Sounds True, 2016.
• Dorothy Hunt. “Ending the Search. From Spiritual Ambition to the Heart of Awareness.” Sounds True, 2018.
• Bonnie L. Greenwell. “When Spirit Leaps. Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening.” Non-Duality Press, 2018.
* Those who specialize in this area do have "developmental maps": http://www.johnlovas.com/2013/11/fowlers-six-stages-of-faith.html