Rich Karlgaard: Ever larger numbers of people enjoy reasonable standards of living, but may feel an inner pang on the question of whether their lives have purpose. Predicting transition from ‘material want’ is not to say that people will cease caring about material things; it is a prediction that millions will expect both pleasant living standards and a broad sense that their lives have purpose

The other day my college alumni magazine arrived. In it are two items that seemed a trifle bizarre yet are part of a whole. A woman from the class of 1991 writes that she had experienced a “spiritual awakening, stopped practicing law and become a shamanic healer.” She founded the San Diego Circle Shamanic Healing Arts Center, which hosts classes and workshops on many Native American traditions and shamanic practices. She adds: “I love it. I see people in my home office, which my kids call the ‘goddess room.'” She says she finds it “an amazing experience to be a conduit for healing miracles, especially since I am healing myself in the bargain.”

Elsewhere in the magazine I learned of a communal house in Palo Alto, Calif. called Magic. “As a group,” the article says, “the ‘Magicians’ value cooperation, healthy living, protecting the environment and, ultimately, the betterment of mankind.”The group’s six adults and two children eschew cars and television, wear secondhand clothes and eat too-old-to-sell organic food provided by local markets.

“Some of Magic’s rules may seem rigid (a note taped to the house’s sole toilet reads: ‘Gentlemen, please sit to pee or ask someone where to pee outside’), but after more than two decades of trial and error, the Magicians believe they know what it takes to maintain an effective community.”

I know what you’re thinking. You would choose the stand-up-and-pee-outside (-and-never-return) option. Me, too. But let’s holster our sarcasm and open our eyes and ears. Something big is happening in American culture at the moment. We are on the cusp of what sociologists might call a Great Awakening. If we sell or market products or manage people, we’d better pay heed to this trend.

More here.