Thought-leaders in the 21st century emerge out of academia, soft-cushioned chairs, concrete walls and secured salaries. However, when we examine history, the global thought-leaders who impact humanity most, who designed our thought processes, emerged from an astonishing space.
Like Mandela, Gandhi, Mother Teresa and the transformational souls who graced this earth, the birth and genesis of greatness happened in dark, ugly, terrifying places. People who gave us new revelations came from places we shun, avoid and seek to escape at all cost. Here, we look at the path one walks to become a thought-leader. Check out why the Wilderness leads to the Way, with the Word emerging with spectacular clarity.
Chaos, nothingness, a state of void, exists. We fear that dark force, the gaping blackhole of nothingness, always close by, lurking like that crawling volcanic lava now creeping across Hawaii, snarling silent, waiting to consume the life in us.
We face the abyss of nothingness, chaos, that state of void, as an inevitable fact of life. In fact, our most basic goal sees us dedicating a big chunk of our existence to securing ourselves against its onslaught. We build walls of security around us, and work hard to protect ourselves in the future – especially when we’re old and fragile, with retirement security.
However, every human being at some point on the journey through this hard, weary, tired earth, lands with a thud at the feet of this monster, staring into the gaping blackhole of the chaos of nothingness. But instead of fighting the abyss, we run away and cower in a small life for the rest of our days.
In Los Angeles, US, a street that people call ‘Skid Row’ hosts America’s worst homeless crisis. On any one night, 6,000 homeless people sleep on Skid Row’s sidewalks. The wider County of Los Angeles hosts 60,000 homeless, sick, destitute, insane, down-and-out humans sleeping on its streets every night. Here, in the richest country in the world, with a national economy worth upwards of US$145 Trillion – the largest in the world by far – this nation that hails itself as the place where its people could pursue happiness, 548,000 folks sleep on its streets nationally at night, homeless. Plus, Americans in jail and prison hold the world record for citizens in jail, with 3,000,000 citizens incarcerated.
Worldwide, hundreds of millions of people fall on hard times, staring into the blackhole of this lurking monster of chaos, nothingness, a void of frightening hopelessness. They stare into the bottomless abyss, humans without hope.
Imagine a man, woman and their children with nothing, no food, clothes, money to buy anything, housing, pure water, or people to lend a helping hand, nothing. Multitudes of individuals across this global village suffer this fate today.
When we lie helpless, staring face to face into the gaping hole of the worst fear of existence, of having nothing, what helps us? To whom do we turn for a hand up?
Nature grows wild. For us to build civilized society, we tame Nature. Yet, Nature remains an ever-present threat, the attack of the wilderness over our lives. When we’re in the wilderness, when we find ourselves lost, alone, longing for a way out, how could we overcome the wild danger of the wilderness? Experiencing the wilderness in life leaves us frightened, confused, dehumanized with lack of dignity, fighting to breathe hope.
How could the billions of humans worldwide who daily get tossed into the searing dragon-lava den of an existence that plunges into chaos, the void, nothingness, into the wild wilderness, scrape their way back to humanity?
We must face the fact of the Wilderness Experience. It happens to everybody. Any one of us, at any moment, could catapult into a state of nothing, whether economical, emotional, or even energetic. We could fall ill, or go broke, or suffer a mental breakdown, in a flash.
Society caters for such scenarios with healthcare programs and welfare schemes and compassion structures. Yet, we see in that beacon of progress and wealth, America, 548,000 people homeless sleeping on the streets every night, and 3,000,000 people locked up in jails and prisons. Worldwide, the abyss worsens.
So we face the possibility that we could at any time fall into the Wilderness Experience. It’s a fact of life on this earth. And we make sure we never fall that flat, unlike the millions of people who fail and fall.
People in the wilderness come to embrace crucial monsters we fear and spend all our life running from, seeking to escape. Sacrifice, Suffering and Solitude become our closest companions, friends, and soul-mates when we’re immersed in an existence of nothingness.
We learn fast in the Wilderness Experience to embrace sacrifice. Spending much of our life escaping from and avoiding any form of sacrifice, we come, in the Wilderness, staring at nothing, to endure, embrace and even enjoy the quiet force of sacrifice. We learn to do without. Deprivation becomes real.
In our body, soul, spirit we grow to encounter sacrifice as a source of strength. We lean on sacrifice, willing the body and soul to subject us to the harshest of knocks, deprivation and pain.
In these hours of sacrifice – or days, weeks, months, years, however long it takes before we see light – we become renewed, refreshed, reborn. In the space of nothingness, facing life without means, ability and strength to transform our situation and circumstances, sacrifice becomes our master, teaching us groundbreaking life lessons.
Sacrifice becomes our kith and kin.
We walk around in painful circles when in the Wilderness of life all alone. And we learn that Solitude makes a wonderful friend.
We reach our hands around solitude and feel its presence warming our soul with wordless recognition. Solitude comes close, stays with us, never leaving. Only when we stare into the yawning abyss of nothingness, the hands empty, the mind numb, the heart palpitating in terror at our aloneness in the universe, not a soul there for us, not a human heart in sight, not a merciful hand reaching our way, when all human grace and compassion and love and even humanity abandons us, only then we know the amazing value and immense worth of solitude.
In the blackhole of the chaos of a collapsed existence, we hang on for dear life to the coat of solitude.
Then, before long, solitude erases our numbness, frees the mind to become intuitive, no longer of mere surface consciousness. Solitude loves the intuition, and that’s why we survive the nothingness of falling into humanity’s worst nightmare. We survive because we become intuitive, trusting the body to the sheer will to survive, to scrape to a place of light, of hope, of help.
Solitude fences us in the secured zone of mental fortitude, inner strength, and the will to survive.
Nothingness exists. Chaos, that state of dreadful void, exists in this life, and it’s a monster of terrifying monstrosity, eager to creep slyly into our soul and spirit to stifle the body, strangulating all hope, causing untold, unspeakable, screaming suffering. We spend the bulk of the time of our existence working hard to escape it, hiding under the trappings of modern life; job and money and security, house, people we could rely on.
When it hits us, however, nothingness cements a midnight lack of light around us like a grave tomb of concrete coldness. And we suffer. Suffering becomes real. Suffering causes us to experience dreadful deprivation, untold terror, deep angst.
In the wilderness of life, suffering grabs hold of us and wraps its demonic sickeningly slimy skin around our heart, and squeezes its slow tentacles to drain away hope, faith, life. We stare most terrified into the darkness of nothingness, of the chaos, of this vapid void that lurks around us with threatening imminence, and our darkest hour is in the clutch of suffering.
Humanity breathes the ever-present possibility of falling back into the void of nothingness from which we came. And we fear it because of the suffering it inflicts upon our body, soul and spirit.
But we do survive. The human will to escape from the gaping jaws of nothingness causes us to scrape our way to a ray of light. We determine to conquer the Wilderness of life, and come out victorious. The void cannot hold us in its clutching claws.
Embracing Sacrifice, walking hand-in-hand with Solitude, dragging Suffering as a deadweight on our backs, we find the way to a path that leads us to hope, life and breaths of fresh air. We conquer the wilderness, and build our dreams into castles, mansions to our ability to rise.
Such an impact our Wilderness Experience made on us, that we come to the Way that we find, with soul and spirit and body renewed, refreshed, reborn. We become new creature with eyes that see differently, heart that beats with great clarity of vision, feet that trod the earth with renewed vigour for a mission in life, rather than a drifting laxness relaxing in a comfortable sofa numbing the mind from the threat of nothingness snapping us into its abyss.
Our mission in life becomes a creative contribution to humanity. We live to bring solutions to the wildness of human nature, to the fallenness of humanity.
Reformed, reborn, refreshed, we live now for the impact we could make on people, for how we could awaken the human spirit to see and embrace new enlightenment. We create, design and generate a new path for our life to make a meaningful mark. We become new creatures of inventive genius, creative passion, and powerful possibilities.
With such renewed clarity of insight, the one who experiences the terror of fighting off the chaos of nothingness becomes leader of a cause. Such a one knows how to inspire, galvanize and motivate a team of people to see what their new leader sees. The sharing of the new vision cements a new bond. And a new movement is born, generating greatness, impact upon humanity, and a new way for humankind to be.
Escaping the clutching claws of death, the ultimate terror of nothingness and lack, causes a human being to become a servant of society. Such a one becomes a noble soul, a spiritual force, a genius dedicated to serving the human heart, to healing our soul, to generating to life the deadness of our spirit.
In service of authentic caring, passionate love, deep commitment to a cause, the Wilderness Experience survivor shows us what life is all about, how we should conduct this wonderful opportunity of dwelling on the earth for a time. Such souls blaze new trails, chisel a new path, shows us a new Way.
In fact, we face an amazing irony when we consider the human being who dares to launch forth upon the world from the place of nothingness, who braves the leaping flames of chaos and the dark ravenous ruins of the void of life. We think of Nelson Mandela out of a 28-year prison cell, of Mother Theresa out of the slums of Calcutta, of Mahatma Gandhi out of illiterate, poverty-stricken colonial India.
The sacrifices, suffering, solitude become fertile ground for the seed of a mission, a solution, to bud forth, and for a team to congregate around such a shining new figure emerging upon the environment, touching the atmosphere with electric power through pure presence, with service to humans the only goal.
Out of such a figure, out of the dance with solitude and suffering and sacrifice, comes the music of a new word, a new uttering, a new rewriting of the future. A visionary emerges like none ever before in history.
Commanding farseeing insights, visions and dreams, a new sacredness steps forward to serve humanity.
The Word of the new hero and prophet and blazer of a new trail across human consciousness flowers out to bear fruit in the heart of every future person who graces the earth.
This sacred message becomes a symbol of who we could be as humans, of what’s possible for us as human beings, of the noble new heights we’re capable of reaching in our humanity. It’s a sacred new altar from where we bow bedazzled at the new future opening up for us.
So sacred is the vision, however, that no language exists for it to reach the minds of people. So a new symbolism comes into being. This symbolic understanding expresses the new Word with ease, and before we know it, the world is alight with a new understanding, and new imagination, and new zeal for life. What would South Africa, and the world, be today without Mandela’s symbol of truth and reconciliation, that new symbol of forgiveness, of love for our fellow human, and of understanding that the past is past and the future opens up possibilities for fresh relations?
What’s the source for such figures appearing among us every so often through history, such figures who transform humanity for all eternity?
Such people who walk through the Wilderness Experience and dare to pit their human powers against the darkness of the chaos of nothingness, without fear or reservation or timidity, who muster such immense courage and strength and human will, these originate a new way for us. They blaze new trails.
In history, we could count the number of these people on our fingers, so few are they.
They’re few because it’s hard to walk through the Wilderness. It’s intimidating to even think of confronting the void. It’s terrifying to face absolute nothingness. It’s the utmost dread to confront chaos.
Most people retreat into safe zones, never realizing that in playing small, safe, secured in life, they dehumanize their humanity, stifle their potential, and drift through the earth with wasted breaths.
Unless one is willing to venture through the stifling blackhole of the Wilderness Experience, one cannot blaze a new trail that would point humanity to a new summit atop the glorious mountain of life.
Nothingness exists, yes, but we tame the wilderness of the abyss we’re so scared to stare into, when we tackle the demonic monster head on, fully in faith that our human will would conquer the chaos, banish the void, and recreate, reinvent, regenerate us into new creatures, seeing farther than we’ve ever seen before, leaping to a new height of noble humanity.
May thought-leaders of this kind of noble character emerge to show us the way with a new word in this 21st century global village.