Os Guinness lived for 10 years in the Buddhist culture, later sat at the feet of a Hindu guru after studying in a leading western secularist university (Oxford), and has written several books, including Long Journey Home: A Guide to Your Search for the Meaning of Life (Doubleday, 2001). He is now senior fellow at the Trinity Forum in McLean, Virginia.
One of the themes of this book is that there is a universal reality of spiritual journey. Most human beings will admit to being on some sort of journey.
The picture of journey is one of the most universal pictures of human life. You can go to almost all the continents, and you can run down all the centuries, and you see that this theme of the journey comes up. The Hebrew Exodus. Homer's Odyssey. Jump the years right down to Don Quixote and Pilgrim's Progress. Jack Kerouac's On the Road. We're all somewhere between the day we were born and the day we'll die.
But you say that's not all that's universal about this notion of journey. People are universally longing for identity, mission, and meaning.
Exactly. Having it all isn't enough. You take the events of September 11, and it's as if the façade of normal life was savagely torn off. And as many have said to me, "I was suddenly aware of the brevity of life and the reality of evil and trying to figure out what it all meant." So normal life in times of incredible prosperity raises questions about meaning, but things like terrorism and the strike we saw, and the death of thousands of so many innocent people has raised the same questions, but at a very deeper level.