London: In Hymns to an Unknown God, you ask: “Is it possible in this chaotic day and age to have a sense of the sacred in everyday life, or do we have to check our spirits and our god at the workplace door?” Much of what we call spirituality today takes place on Sundays, after work, when the kids are in bed, or when we’re off meditating on our own. Is it possible to make it an integral part of everyday life?
Keen: I think there is a deep yearning today to figure out how to make a real connection with the sacred. I hear many men say, “I have a good job and make a living, but it doesn’t mean anything to me; I want something with meaning, something I have a reason for doing.” But our society has been eaten up by the economic view of things, which routinely forces us to work at jobs that don’t mean anything. I think we’re inevitably going to be depressed when we focus the major part of our energy and attention on something that doesn’t give us meaning, only material things.
We have to return, I think, to the difficult idea of right livelihood, which Buddhists talk about, or the Christian idea of vocation. The first questions we must ask ourselves are “What’s my life about?” and “What gives me meaning?” Only after that should we ask “How do I make a living?” and “How do I provide for myself?”