Huge shifts are occurring all over the world. It’s as if a new awareness is in its beginning birth pangs. People who have been repressed and treated unfairly for years, generations, are suddenly and spontaneously rising up, rejecting the old, fighting for justice and truth regardless of personal safety. It’s as if a new consciousness is being born.

This is happening in religious circles as well. For example, what comes to mind when you hear the word ‘religion,' other than an immediate disgust prompted by visions of heated arguments between the 4,000 different warring sects now present in the world? Not much.

Religion historically has meant reverence for God or the gods, careful pondering of divine things, religious devotion, law, fixed beliefs, repression, and bondage. But this will not be the new normal in America. The new generation of Americans are too fiercely independent, they are free thinkers. Our youth are running from the organized religions of their early childhoods like fleas off a wet dog.

Young Americans already see through the dishonest promises of a fairy tale life and promises of their parents' religion, realizing that life is only so much, and that religion is only self-reinforced concepts and theories. And this leaves a huge vacuum. There is an inherent longing for that something, that stability we know intuitively lies just beyond the vagrancies of our frivolous pursuits.

When life takes a bad turn, and the fleas of a hundred camels infest our armpits, where can we go for consolation other than sex, shallow relationships, alcohol and drugs? The old religions are passé for most young people, and nothing has taken their place. For something to take the place of the old blind belief, faith based religions, it would definitively have to negate blind belief and faith, because young Americans have thought about it, watched how the older generation conducts itself, and have discarded these.

So, how does a young person find something not connected to the old religious schools, which have been dismissed, and yet satisfy that inner longing to make some sense out of this complicated and troublesome world that we can‘t seem to count on no matter how good it gets?

Ignoring our troubles and focusing on the next world, as the old time religions did, is not an option. The new generation are looking for answers now, not teachings about some mythological past of fantasy future. They aren't stupid. They want to know for themselves, not believe what someone else has said. This is a sign of intelligence, and with the dawning of the information highway and an opening of the world, our youth are becoming extremely intelligent and inquisitive.

The new religion in America will therefore not be the old system of passive acceptance of a what we are told. The new religion will somehow have to be proactive - a self discovery that instead of believing what the prophets of old said, find a way for oneself to become that prophet, see their visions, attain their insights, to actually experience for oneself what the holy books talk about, to come face to face with the ultimate, to proactively fill that vacuum in their hearts with something they can say 'yes' to, “Yeah, I figured this out for myself. I believe this.”

Unfortunately, many holy books do not offer clear concise roadmaps to self investigation and self discovery. Most are authoritative works telling people what to do externally (commandments). Follow these rules and go to heaven. Believe and go to heaven, all on an intellectual and external emotional level, not an internal calm, insightful investigation.

The new normal, like many things these days, will surpass this intellectual, emotional level. That’s the only way the religious beliefs and rituals of old established religions, the very things that youth has turned its back on, can be changed into a way to fill that vacuum which naturally exists in human beings.

There are now reportedly more yoga and meditation studios in New York than there are Starbucks. If you haven’t noticed, meditation and yoga is in the news all the time connected to stress relief, health, fitness, depression, you name it. It’s catching on big time.

Why? Because these practices are nonreligious, and being nonreligious, they fit the molds of youths' demands. They are taking the place of religion in their minds because unlike faith based systems, yoga and meditation are silent regarding God or the gods, the pondering of divine things, religious devotion, and religious law.

However, the actual experience of practicing yoga and meditation is a deep understanding of one’s own makeup and drives, or in other words, one’s self, without being preached to. If one takes these practices seriously, the results are an experience that can only be explained as transcending normal consciousness and transforming the practitioner internally. This is brightness and clarity. This is the vacuum being filled.

Things are changing even within so called organized religions. Things are loosening up. Concrete beliefs are succumbing to common sense and logic, where God is no longer that authoritative father figure in the heavens watching us like an angelic, frowning prison guard. Those kinds of strange ideas are changing into "God is love," and "God is reflected in my goodness," with only the most isolated fringe cults still hanging on to virtual interpretations of some holy book.

Einstein was a smart man. Very smart. Particle physicist are still trying to understand what he said. Two things he said are relevant here: He said that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results."

Just look at the world today with all of it's conflicts and the role religion plays and has played in many if not all of them, either as being a instigator or a repessent of the masses.

He also said that "Buddhism has the characteristics of what would be expected in a cosmic religion for the future: It transcends a personal God, avoids dogmas and theology; it covers both the natural and the spiritual, and it is based on a religious sense aspiring from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, as a meaningful unity."

Author's Bio: 

E. Raymond Rock (anagarika addie) is a meditation teacher at: and author of “A Year to Enlightenment:

His 30 years of meditation experience has taken him across four continents including two stopovers in Thailand where he practiced in the remote northeast forests as an ordained Theravada Buddhist monk.

He lived at Wat Pah Nanachat under Ajahn Chah, at Wat Pah Baan Taad under Ajahn Maha Boowa, and at Wat Pah Daan Wi Weg under Ajahn Tui. He had been a postulant at Shasta Abbey, a Zen Buddhist monastery in northern California under Roshi Kennett; and a Theravada Buddhist anagarika at both Amaravati Monastery in the UK and Bodhinyanarama Monastery in New Zealand, both under Ajahn Sumedho. The author has meditated with the Korean Master Sueng Sahn Sunim; with Bhante Gunaratana at the Bhavana Society in West Virginia; and with the Tibetan Master Trungpa Rinpoche in Boulder, Colorado. He has also practiced at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts, and the Zen Center in San Francisco.