We are discovering that the hope of humanity, and the hope of the earth itself, lies not in programs or in ideas or in doctrines alone, but in the "creation" of people — men and women of authentic being. It is this that lies at the beating heart of all the spiritual traditions of the world — the great work of allowing the action in ourselves and through ourselves of the hidden energy of love. A world bewildered and terrified by violence in the name of religion begins to understand that the earth needs genuine human beings: nothing else will save us.

To me, 9/11 is a message about the sleep of humankind. It is a call to remember what is essential in oneself — that it is only by coming into relationship with the inner greatness of oneself that it can be possible to act in a way that can make a difference. Asleep to what we are, we cannot love, we cannot help beyond a certain point. Awake to what we are, it is possible to allow a new energy to enter the life of our violent, lethally mad world.

We don’t know enough about that higher force to say that only a little cannot help. We don’t know the immense power of the great force that humankind is made to conduct into the earth. We may be very close to a tipping point. But we are speaking about inner work, not just words.

Jacob Needleman is a professor of philosophy at San Francisco State University, a prolific writer on world religions, and one of our Living Spiritual Teachers.