I was very busy recently, and am catching up. Please pardon the length of what is coming . . .
When I was about 16, I became aware of the interconnection of all things. It was kind of a feeling like "everything in the universe is in its place or everything is as it should be." This lasted about two years. Then when I entered the "real world," I lost this feeling. I'm currently on the path to re-accepting things as they are, but on a more mature level (I know more now than I did at 16-in a way.) I currently have not come to back to that somewhat blissful state of awareness I had earlier. ..
I've definitely had some moments like this. This is why I've recently started carrying a small journal around, on my person, and filling it with poetry and quotes that remind me, and inspire me on my "path." I look at it in my spare time (on the bus, lunch break, etc.) or when I feel myself "losing sight" of these "feelings". Having no such thing, currently, for yourself. . .try to recall, if you can, what it was that first brought you to this "realization" when you were 16. I'm sure that your life circumstances were quite different from adolescence.
for me too the bliss never came back but i stopped looking for it a long time ago. also it takes a lot to keep centered while being in the 'real' world. that's where the choice of a routine or spiritual path is valuable.
i know too it isnt regarded much in the world, doing the right thing. for a long time i also thought there was no right and wrong, though i would choose to do what would more often be considered 'right'. eventually i came to believe there is always a right and wrong, though it changes all the time and it isnt the same for everyone. but it is its own reward. . . .
1. So true.
2. Also true. There have been many times, in the past, where I thought that there that doing good was getting me nowhere (long story!). I gave up for a while, but eventually decided that it's worth it, as long as it made even the slightest positive change for someone, or if I learned something in the process.
my experience is that if you're lucky enough to have genuine spiritual awakenings, there is nevertheless a lot you have to do, paradoxically enough. I always had this idea of 'seek first the kingdom of heaven then everything else will be added' which in some ways is true, but life has its own trajectory - I guess this is karma. There are unpaid bills and many things that need doing and the only way out is through it all. AND I get harassed by my own weaknesses which 'Mara' is very quick to exploit (speaking kind of figuratively.) Nowadays whenever I make an effort to commit to practise, mara has a way of stopping me in my tracks - happened again this week. So I keep remembering - Right Effort is really important at this point.
Exactly, it's the hard times, the trials that test our will and willingness to "sacrifice" or "suffer", in return for the chance to grow, and to strengthen our resolve.
The reason that I ask that is, because, I have heard others speak of an afterglow set up by meditating heavily, sometimes at retreat, and of losing it on returning home to the job and the screaming kids. : ^ (. . . .
So, what I am getting at here, and its about time, is that you have to find a place deeply within yourself where peace abides all of the time and is untouched by circumstances. This is your 'Essential Self' that you become reacquainted with and can never lose it. Of course it is always with you, is with you right now, but we so easily overlook it, and mask it from ourselves.. . . .
1. I think that it's learning to keep hold of that "high" or "afterglow", when returning from a retreat, etc. that's one of the most important parts of the "realizations" you may have come to, while on the retreat. It's easy to feel oneness and peace, surrounded only by "like-minded" , in the beauty of nature, feeding off of each others "highs"
2. Even though we are all part of "One", we each have our own energies, vibrations, and frequencies. I feel like you tune into others' frequencies more easily when you are all physically close and putting your mind to the same goal or action.
3. I absolutely love what you said here. I am putting it in my little book of inspiration I mentioned. I hope this does not boost your ego too much and damage any progress!!!! . . . . (just kidding with ya!!) So far though, the book only has famous poets, philosophers, etc. in it though.
. . . .
As I understand my friend (who systematically meditates) and i.e. S9 post, this is the way of changing the way brain works. Fine. I have many more other ways to do that, but why meditation is so very special, then?
Sorry for being so straight, realistic, ignorant and - maybe offtopic. Hope, one will answer me.
There's no shame in being honest in a place for questions to be answered! I think it's very appropriate.
My personal answer is this: it is because you have found this change, within yourself, and from the Universe, and the energies thereof. These "changes" (I feel) come from "truth" (only word I can think to use here) and not intoxication. Your intoxication will end, but this "high" is a part of you now, and you can access it anytime, any place, absolutely free of charge. No hangovers, no cottonmouth, no withdrawals, no costly habits or lowered inhibitions, or next-day regrets.
Buddhist meditation does change the way the brain operates. Of course so do intoxicants and stimulants. But the changes brought about by Buddhist meditation are more beneficial and longer lasting. The operative factors are insight and equanimity. Insight is 'direct perception' into the way in which the interaction of thought and feeling causes unhappiness. By perceiving it as it is, one can be free of it. Equanimity means being less affected by circumstances and changing moods. Both these factors are increased through meditation, or 'dhyana'.
The way that I see meditation is that it helps us in two major ways that are very practical. It helps us to direct our attention and it reacquaints us with our more subjective self, which in good part has been pretty much neglected.
We actually live in 2 perspectives simultaneously, the inner and the outer world. A 3rd world is Spiritual, but I won't get into that right now.
I think in the very beginning of meditation, we first learn that mind habitually follows the strongest stimulation in the room. (Even if a pin drops.) We need to train are minds much like we would a very young child, how to apply attention and not to just be pushed around by the minds habits of distraction. 
In a way, we sit on the cushion, take on a particular posture, and demand absolute quiet sort of like a ritual, because rituals are more stimulating than just watching mind, and they also give us permission to change. 
After a while however, as we gain some skill in directing our own attention, we begin to realize that we aren't doing anything on that cushion that we couldn't do all day long, whenever we remembered it. So we take meditation off the cushion and out into our lives, using everything in life as an opportunity to grow through this directed attention. . . We no longer need a cushion, a posture, or even quiet in order to meditate. Meditation becomes a way of life.
1. A great way of putting it.
2. I think it also has something to do with strengthening the mind-body connection. You put a lesson, or feeling (or whatever) into your physical/muscle memory. It's been proven that this is a very effective way of learning.
3. Thus are the results of effective "self-training"
There seems to be three theories about what some have called the 'Golden Age.' 
I believe like you do that we are influenced in many subtle and unseen ways by each other, constantly, and most of these are little understood. But, I am not sure that this means that we are walking in lock step as a species towards a better tomorrow. In other words progress may be mythical. 
It may be that this earth is like the first grade of spiritual education, where souls come to learn certain lessons, and graduate after a while into a second grade of spiritual education. But, that this planet pretty much always remains this same first grade, and changes little. How would we know this? 
1. This reminds me of the stories of Atlantis. How it was supposed to have been a city of great knowledge, wisdom, artistry, magicks and purity . . a "utopia". It (I heard) was said to have been brought down (by mother nature, war, whatever it was) when corruption made itself known. This may be an example of a "Golden Age". It is for me.
2. I don't think the progress is great enough (yet!!) to be termed as any sort of "world-progress", but I feel it is partly our duty to influence (but not force) this progress to come into being. Live as an example.
3. Interesting theory. Maybe second grade isn't on this "world" at all.
Also I think the collective consciousness of H Sapiens is changing. It is not a new age myth, it really is a new age. The victorian/materialistic outlook really has been shot to pieces by quantum theory and modern cosmology and generally, the Indic cosmology of cyclical creation and descruction and different phases of consciousness is closer to the truth.
There is a global enlightenment going on. In numbers, those who are engaged in it are probably very small, but it is having a massive influence, I am sure of that.
You make a good point. We know some much more about the world these days (scientifically speaking) that has much in common with ancient thought. Quantum Theory and new discoveries about the Human Energy Field are examples of this. I think there's definitely some
Just a few years ago, I believed there was a global awareness happening. But lately I've had to step back from that. I'm presently gathering some perspective. I'm not completely sold on global awareness. Perhaps it's true, perhaps not.
I'm no less committed to my personal awareness, but for reasons I don't completely understand, I had to drop some of those notions I was carrying. To use the surfing analogy, I must understand that I'll "wipe out" from time to time, and I should try to learn something each time. It's a fiberglass jungle out there.
I love your analogy!