For thousands of years, ever since mankind started settling in cities, we evolved in rigid, patriarchal and extremely authoritarian structures – at least in the West. This started changing after the industrial revolution and the pace has been picking up since the end of the last war. Many authoritarian structures have become much weaker or have collapsed. Especially in Europe (but this will probably also happen in the United States), churches have quasi disappeared, and religion has lost almost all its prestige.
Teachers who were once expected to know everything are increasingly challenged by their students who sometimes know more than they do about certain topics, and official medicine is increasingly disputed by alternative medicines that are sometimes more effective. Marriage and family are taking more and more diversified forms and, above all under the influence of the internet, the context of information has been totally transformed. Everyone has to decide what information is most authoritative in managing their lives.
The Covid 19 crisis is a clear example. Every citizen who knows how to use the internet intelligently discovers that some official information is highly questionable. So, either we obediently follow the official information, without racking our brains over it (and I understand perfectly those who make this choice which I totally respect) or each one does his/her own research.
In the field of spirituality, the question of authority also arises, because doing a spiritual search alone is not easy and poses big challenges*). Following a spiritual master, or a very precise teaching, is reassuring but the day will come when, if you don’t want to remain totally dependent on teachings coming from an external authority, you will have to look for this inner source of authority for which there is a series of names: infinite cosmic Intelligence, the Source, divine Understanding, infinite Love, the “little voice” as Eileen Caddy, this great figure of contemporary spirituality and co-founder of the Findhorn Community, called it in her book Opening Doors Within. The word used to describe it is not really important. What matters is that there is a totally inner authority that speaks in the silence of the heart. (The Quakers understood this from the beginning: their worship services for centuries have been simply an hour of group silence, with the occasional person standing up to share a Spirit-inspired message. ( **)
In his book The Art of Spiritual Healing, the great American mystic of the last century, Joel Goldsmith, offers illuminating passages on how to contact that inner silence that will sooner or later become your ultimate guide and authority. Here you will find the answer to any question whatever it may be, and above all you will find that sublime peace “that passes all understanding.
*) I attempt to answer this question in more detail in my new book, Comment Trouver mon Chemin Spirituel which will be published next year by Editions Jouvence in French and I hope later in English “How to find my spiritual path”.
**) You can find on the internet the complete list of their meeting centers throughout the world.
See also this blog of Pierre’s on the topic of spirituality : https://gentleartofblessing.org/the-essence-of-true-spirituality/