* ”The Crisis of Humanity & the New Hero’s & Heroine’s Cycles” … Preface of *Who to Be: Identity, Authenticity, and Crisis* (2020) by Michael Adzema. Free. Downloadable chapter.*


Our Global Multiculturalism Directs Us to the Roots of Our Beings as Foundation for Answering the Primary Concern of Human Life, “Who to Be?”

“One is not just better off being who one most is in potential; the Infinite opera of the All That Is demands it of us; it is the sweetest and most perfect symphony of all when one adds one’s unique contribution to it. Without your part, the harmony of the Universe is less for it.”


The Crisis of Humanity and the New Hero’s and Heroine’s Cycle:

Our Global Multiculturalism Directs Us to the Roots of Our Beings as Foundation for Answering the Primary Concern of Human Life, “Who to Be?”

What does one do in a postmodern, complex, multicultural world in which the options are so numerous and enticing as to paralyze one’s actions? How does one live a good life, a fulfilling life? What actions, commitments, careers, causes, service are most likely to return happi­ness? These are questions we all need to address in our youth, yet throughout our lives as well. They come out again specifically during mid-life, and particularly during the mid-life crisis.



The primary question of human existence is, “Who am I?” It is the starting place of philosophy as well as one’s identity. The question following that …  number two in priority in a human’s life, since we are act-ors as well as be-ings … is, then, “Who to be?” We seem to have an inbred knowing that these two are connected: That what one does should be at least somewhat related to who one is.

While throughout human history those are the fundamental concerns of life, they have been taken care of quite readily through the mechanism of culture. Culture is your society’s way of being in the world, its way of thinking, its way of making a pattern out of the infinite possibilities of Reality to provide guidance and orientation in life and in relationship to all around us. It plays into one’s identity … who to be … in a huge way. From birth on — even before birth as the experiences a mother has are consti­tuted by culture and affect therefore what a prenate experiences to at least some degree — culture puts a stamp on us. The cultural impression delimits the profile of our being and constrains our actions while facilitating others of ours. It opens and closes doors at the same time.

Within the outlines of that template, however, we are required to operate and make less fundamental choices. Those choices, patterned and restrained by one’s culture, vary from the most trivial … what to have for breakfast … to the profound and life-altering. This, for example, would involve decisions about career and spouse. And something has happened in the current historical era … something integral to these times being labeled postmodern … that has made those choices more difficult than they ever have been in history. Yet potentially more freeing, more fruitful, more productive of freedom and felicity, more fulfilling and satisfying can those decisions be than ever before. For in these times — immersed in a multicultural soup with near infinite numbers of potentials and choices — we are responsible, more than ever before, and not as much culture-family-society, for choosing and creating our identity, our path in life.

And our partner. And this last is something unique to modern times. It has been noted that Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet — in which young lovers are tragically blocked by culture and family from choosing each other — presents a dilemma unique to history. While we have always had at least some say in who we marry or partner with — and more so in our primal times, i.e., when we were nomadic foragers or merely gatherer-hunters — with civilization and its hierarchical societies that choice has been largely determined by the surrounding cultural actors, not oneself. Parents or other societal proxies have most often, with civilization, decided with whom one was to spend one’s adult life.

Similarly with career, craft, or occupation, historically children are born into the occupations they will adopt in life. Tinker, tailor, spy, or black­smith, the boy takes up the craft of the father; the girl takes up the family roles and tasks as modeled by the mother. And by the way, that last crinkle in this is telling: The fact that women, in postmodern times, have taken back the freedom to choose careers and service of their own is an aspect of this explosion of cultural possibilities.

All this is a product of an upsurge of technological innovation in the areas of communication and travel — specifically, telecommu­nications, electronic media, social media, and modern travel allowing much more contact between individuals of different cultures — which have revolutionized our way of life and made possible a new paradigm of participation in our societies and of personal identity and style. This new paradigm of personality construction within an overarch­ing and worldwide culture — becoming virtually identical everywhere and with an increasing consolidation of language — has been termed postmodern. For it partakes of all the influences and possibili­ties of all cultures — both modern and traditional. It creates a multicultural mishmash of endless possibilities for being and doing, never been possible before. This is invigorating.

It can also be overwhelming.


Along with this we have another entirely new development of post­modern times: a monolithic worldwide culture. It is hard to view the world and its people and not notice that the great majority of the nearly eight billion people on our planet currently have some major things in common. Everywhere you will see the same kinds of clothes, of a most definite Western style — from Indiana to Indonesia, from Kenya to Columbus, Ohio, we see much the same. Particularly this is true in the more populated areas, which means the majority of humans are included in this phenomenon. Shorts, pants, sandals, shoes, socks, suits, dresses are pervasive. Indeed, actual clothes items emanating from the Western wealthy societies are passed down to others around the world. It is not uncommon to see a t-shirt touting the Chicago Bulls on an adolescent in Rwanda, for example.

Clothes styles, but also everything else — most notably American and Western media and entertainment — inform and impress them­selves upon all the world. This phenomenon would be unimaginable in all earlier societies. Indeed, most earlier societies would not even know of the expanse and multitude of cultures and societies that existed in their time. It is amazing to me that, among all the factors of modern-postmodern civilization that are discussed and are dug into so as to find solutions for and understandings of our current dilemmas, hardly is this factor of a strange coexistence of pervasive multicultur­alism set within an overarching monolithic worldwide culture ever noticed or discussed. Yet this cultural framework is not only a novel development in our multi-millions years of human evolution but is a powerful one.

The consequences of pervasive multiculturalism are obvious and make our nightly news. It is at the root of both our newer immigration problems as well as our perennial problems of racism and religious bigotry. The benefits of multiculturalism are less talked about, though. Yet it is the advance of notions of mutual tolerance and the embrace of cultures and people unlike ourselves which provide the context against which the fear and bigotry stand out and demand solutions. None­theless, the potency of a worldwide monolithic culture for eliciting massive changes in human personality, destiny, and potential is rarely seen; yet it cannot be overestimated. It most certainly could be more utilized; it could open upon an entire new motherlode of resources for us in our times.

To some extent this positive trend of a monolithic culture and the reduced bigotry and racism come of multiculturalism is being felt on social media and the internet. While those involved are rarely aware of the revolutionary nature of their involvements therein, still the effects of such pervasive sharing of culture and beliefs has had its consequences of huge historical import. And some are overtly revolutionary as in the uprisings during the Arab Spring of 2011, which was shared by many millions of people throughout the globe. Indeed, I myself, sitting in my travel trailer in California and hooked up to wifi presenting a portal to the world’s mind, was able to participate. I was caught up in the euphoria and terrors of others whose language and cultures I would not, previous to the internet age, have had access to or been able to fathom.


So there is near-infinite variety and possibilities for choice in the decisions of what to do and who to be, in these postmodern times, along with an increasingly consolidated worldwide culture. It would seem a paradox, until you realize that worldwide culture is this massive amalgamation of all cultures currently, as well as their traditional antecedents. We are settling on a worldwide identity that partakes, for its elements and its composition, of near infinite variation of cultural possibilities gleaned from throughout the world.

It would seem daunting, no?

And that is the reason for this book.

You might say that this book attempts to survey this postmodern terrain for the advantages and advice it can provide about who to be. As well as what to do and how to decide on that, and what are the considerations one might have in being able to choose more fulfilling and felicitous paths in one’s life.

And this is how it relates to the question of authenticity, which is the second of the foci presented in the subtitle of this work … Identity, Authenticity, and Crisis. For without doubt the most authentic choices for oneself are also the most fulfilling and most felicitous. One is happiest when one is who one is. And this is a notion known to us. One of the elements of this worldwide culture is this radical new notion that one should be who one is, not who one is told to be by the outside, not someone or thing that is decided by someone else. This is amazing and momentous: Our postmodern monolithic culture provides the context and instigation for the most creative and authentic of choices in who to be than has ever been.

This book overviews and maps this exciting new terrain and indicates the potential it has for maximizing one’s felicity and authenticity in life. It points the reader to the advantages now available as never before and stimulates the inner wisdom and knowing that one might need to make better life choices.


The bottom line is that one might be virtually able to be anything one wants to be — one might be able to partake of infinite possibilities within our postmodern multicultural surround — but in life we have to choose. I daresay each of us is here to be that who one is most meant to be. One’s duty, dharma, mission in life is one’s own, one’s own alone; and it is founded upon what talents and abilities one brings, with all one’s unique-as-a-snowflake set of inherent potentialities combined with what one becomes as confronted by one’s earliest experiences, the life circumstances into which one is born, and the skandhas, or leftover skeins of proclivities, arisen of one’s karma, that one brings forward from what one has been in Infinity. One is not just better off being who one most is in potential; the Infinite opera of the All That Is demands it of us; it is the sweetest and most perfect symphony of all when one adds one’s unique contribution to it. Without your part, the harmony of the Universe is less for it.

This is where one’s identity is related to one’s dharma, as well. Dharma is a word used in India to mean one’s profound duty in life. And it is where who one is to be coincides with spiritual and ultimate concerns. One has a duty arising out of who one is to be it; that is, to manifest it. A Sanskrit term expresses that notion — atmadharma. It means that one has a dharma, a duty or task or way of being in the world, that is directly related to one’s soulular identity — one’s Atma. In the West we say merely that it is connected to who one uniquely is.

This perspective is the spiritual aspect of Identity. For indeed one’s decision of who to be roots us not only in our culture and society, but in the Universe and in relation to one’s inner psychological dynamics and all the metaphysical accouterments of destiny, service, beliefs, and that amorphous thing related to what one needs to do arising out of karmic and personal growth needs and requirements. All these play into what one does and needs to do.

So one’s atmadharma says something about the spiritual process, the primal process, and the Identity processes of life …  especially in the places where they all overlap.

The Cosmic Soup

Yet arriving at that is another thing. Certainly throughout our lives, and especially in our youth, we must expose ourselves to the different possibilities for us so as to “find ourselves.” One’s life is limited, and it is hard to be anything but unhappy when carrying out preordained directives — prescriptions and proscriptions — given from the outside. That has contributed to many lost lives and miserable existences for far too many of us throughout history. Yet there might have been no alternative to that.

Today, not only is there no excuse not to seek a happy life in alignment with what one is most able and wants to do, it is tragic if within this Universal Soup of potentialities — wrought of the postmodern coming together of all cultures and knowledge — one allows oneself to be carried along in dismal obedience to the failed initiatives and fearful injunctives of those around us, of those who controlled and directed us at the time in our life when we had little say in things.

To go beyond that is a must if one is to experience fulfillment in life; and to do that one must experiment with life and experience outside the bounds of what one is given. We get a lot out of this immersion in the Cosmic Soup of Experience of what is possible. This is often the task of youth, yet it can occur throughout one’s life: trying out different experiences and possibilities of life.

Nevertheless, one must make something out of what one expe­riences. This is one of the most important themes of this book. In order not to spend one’s life in depression, one is required to bring out what was garnered through that life research and experimentation, positively, creatively — and in a fulfilling and socially satisfying way … like a tree does in taking the nutrients it pulls out of the soil to manifest in leaves and blossoms and limbs. If one does not, one is like a drowned plant, underwater in a swamp … unfulfilled, depressed, unhappy. At best, one is in an oar-less rowboat, directionless and drifting, in the middle of an infinite sea.

Yet there is the important question of how to determine these things. Of all that one can be, all that one could actualize in life, which are the few to which one addresses one’s precious time and efforts? Destiny, fate, and luck determine much, yet there remains an arena in which one can operate and make choices. Here, Abraham Maslow is the best guide.1 The primary determinants of who to be are the inner potentials, skills, talents, unique abilities, and other positive proclivities of the individual. For potential determines actualization. As Maslow emphasized, if one has a strong ability to do something, one has a powerful motivation to do that thing; and one’s rewards for doing that, not something else, are overflowing. Character is not destiny as much as ability is. This is a central point in this endeavor of who to be.

Hence, this new and expansive take on Identity, as presented in this work, is related not just to “who one is” or simply “being myself,” it is related to one’s inmost potentials, talents, and proclivities. It is related to this new child-caring emerging out of the Sixties and throughout the world embracing these radical new parenting notions of “I just want you to be happy.” “I will love you regardless of what you choose.” And simply supporting the young in being “who they are.” Interestingly this can be compared to the traditional goal of education, whose root words indicate it is about “bringing out what is inside.”

Secondly, one needs to look at how these choices of who to be are differently configured at the various stages of life and in relation to its multitudinous exigencies. For indeed these requirements change as one traverses the stations of the life cycle and as one encounters distinctive life events, such as unexpected deaths and divorces, tragedies and the calamities that befall one, fickle fame and unforeseen fortune, and so on. This book addresses that as well.

The Challenge

Making wise choices implies that wrong ones are also possible. Hence  there is the question of neurosis and of lost or misdirected lives. They are the Scylla and Charybdis of this journey. They are the rock shoals and whirlpools to avoid lest one’s destiny be merely to fail. Which, by the way, is a needful life trajectory for some and in some lives, if we consider the reincarnational nature of life. That is to say, in some lives we are meant to grow by experiencing failure and the consequences of wrong decisions. How else to appreciate making correct and happy life choices in other lives?

More frequently even than that, we may find ourselves in lives caught up in the limitations and proclivities of dominant others. No doubt we need to learn the miseries of domination and enslavement to better understand the value of freedom and free choice and authenticity of self in other lives and circumstances.

However it is doubtful any one reading this is in either of those camps. For this book makes it more likely you will not make such mistakes. Which is another way of saying that those reading this are more likely to be in lives where they are here to learn the benefits of authenticity of identity, success in one’s life mission not failure. Let’s put it this way: This book will make it harder to screw up in your decisions in life of who to be.

Resources and Helpful Things

This book addresses the question, “Who to be?” Meaning, “What should I do with my life?” “How do I decide?” “What are the most important and satisfying goals in life?” “How do I live a life that I will not regret at the end of it?” “How do I live wisely and happily in these most unusual of all times?” “What factors should guide me in choosing a fulfilling path in life?” “Why have humans since civilization been so unhappy and unfulfilled in life, as Freud said, humans live lives ‘of quiet desperation?” “What is our most fundamental and unshakeable self, the one upon which we can build a life that is strong, purposive, loving, and satisfying?” “What needs to change for us to have the lives of aliveness, belonging, purpose, satisfaction, and fulfillment that humans lost once we began living in settled groups, where hierarchies meant all lower on the totem pole would need to constrain their felicity to benefit those higher up?” “How important is committing to a cause or doing service work in making decisions about what to do?” “How does one balance ‘idealism’ and practicality in making one’s decisions?” “How does one prioritize the multiple aims of life?” Simply, “What is important, generally speaking?” As for what is important to you in particular, this book provides the perimeters and layout of the garden of experience you cultivate through your major life decisions.

You will find a trove of information here related to those questions. In addition to this book’s value in the information itself that is provided — regarding a new-paradigm overstanding of human development, enriched by the understandings coming out of the new fields of consciousness research, prenatal and perinatal psychology, transpersonal psychology, quantum physics, and the new biology — this is a good work to have in an “existential crisis,” a spiritual emergency, a mid-life crisis, between jobs-careers-marriages, and especially for young adults making their way through their Identity process, deciding on paths and goals worthy of one’s efforts and attention in life. Similarly, it shines a light on proper and harmful ingredients in child-caring, so it would be invaluable to any parent.

Most of the material in the foregoing has been included in other works. Specifically, they are Prodigal Human, Planetmates, Psychology of Apocalypse, Dance of the Seven Veils I, and the forthcoming (expected sometime in 2021) Back to the Garden. I have focused on this topic somewhat in Wounded Deer and Centaurs, as well, where I related it to the changing personality structures coming of postmodern times and their relation to pre- and perinatal influences, the environmental crisis, and activism. Others of my books have traveled through this terrain at times, too.

Nonetheless, it seemed a good idea to bring all this material together around this theme of Identity, to re-slant them, and to see what would come of it. The issue of who to be is one of the primary concerns of humans; it is vitally important to address it now and at this time in history with the stakes so high and the need to bring forth a new vision of who to be in line with what we need if we are to survive patriarchy, environmental collapse, and the rising worldwide fascism coming up as a direct reaction to the fear come of multiculturalism, identity loss, and identity confusion.

There is new material here as well, as fits the topic; additional research directly related to its topic has been done; and the previous material is expanded, restructured, and elaborated, as befits this particular work. Still, faithful readers of my work will notice some repetition, though I daresay will come away with a new appreciation and new insights in their journeying through this material put together in this different way and focused on such a primary concern of all of us at any stage of life and especially amidst the extraordinary worldwide changes in just about everything (environmental, cultural, societal, and personal) which are going on right now. The fact that chapters are taken from both the Return to Grace Series and The Path of Ecstasy Series of my books is also the reason it is a stand-alone book, not included in the two series of books I have been developing and publishing since 2013.

WTB Who To Be cover, front


Descents from Grace, Human Devolution

Before wandering into these lanes and byways, peeking into these corners, and digging below ground to the foundations of our existence — upon which we can make a proper stand and experience an ecstatic, fulfilled life — let us take a look at the long trajectory of human evolution. This is an evolution which I deem to be a devolution from our natural state and our fundamental self within Nature. A devolution which has gotten us into such a complicated and confusing state on the proper way to be in life … and the worthwhile things to do … as to require such a book as this.2 For we find that our fall from grace in Nature, leaving us forever after uncertain of our proper place within it or the optimal trajectory of a human as opposed to a planetmate life, began when we were still apes — prehomonids is the usual way of saying it — and still living harmoniously with the rest of the world.

So yes, we are starting at the real beginning — not just of you, but of our species — for insight into and a foundation upon which to construct the most fulfilling and unshakeable of identities, the most authentic of selves, the happiest and most ecstatic of life journeys, and the most satisfying and purposive of things to do in life. Clearly, with our planet on the brink of worldwide ecocide, and our species permitting an odd hara-kiri of itself — for no reason other than being truly demented about the major things of life, like survival — there is something awry in who we have become. How else do we explain our modern materialistic and consumer-oriented style of being that would value drinking out of plastic bottles, even as it contributes to the deaths of our children? How did we become “suicidal ape”?3

Indeed we find there are factors arising of our evolution that have compelled us to turn on our own existence. Furthermore, those devel­opments have determined our status as the philosophical ape, forever uncertain of our status in Nature, our role in the Universal scheme, and the optimal activities of human life. Our fall from grace has made us varied, confused, and trying to figure it out, as well as humanicidal. Yet we were not always that way. We were planetmates once, too, and we participated in a natural not cultural stream of events.

However, from that Edenal time there was a step-by-step descent from that state of grace till we arrive at our situation of industrial civilization today. There were developments that increased our split from Nature. It happened over time, gradually, imperceptibly. This supposed evolution, actually a devolution, is related to birth pain … indeed, they are all direct results of birth trauma. For that trauma results in fear and insecurity. And the response to fear and insecurity is a drive to control. That drive to control is another way humans are different from all other species. It is also a way humans in the modern era are different from prototypical humans, from primal humans.

Let me explain. Let us go back, now, millions of years, to our most ancient of parents. Beginning at the beginning, let us make our way through the descents of “man,”4 which deposit us where we are today.

— this is an excerpt from  *Who to Be: Identity, Authenticity, & Crisis* by Michael Adzema. It is scheduled for publication in March, 2020. Check back here or at Michael Adzema’s Author’s Page at Amazon for updates.

This chapter is complete and downloadable at this link.

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About sillymickel

Activist, psychotherapist, pre- and perinatal psychologist, author, and environmentalist. I seek to inspire others to our deeper, more natural consciousness, to a primal, more delightful spirituality, and to taking up the cause of saving life on this planet, as motivated by love.
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