Spiritual Activism

SPIRITUAL ACTIVISM ….it’s much more than just a call to action! If you are reading these words, it is probably because you are one of many people that are drawn to the intrigue of seeing these two words used together – spiritual and activism. Everyday more people are sensing an internal call to get involved in their community’s or country’s affairs. But for those that feel a sense of oneness and compassion, how can this be done without getting caught up in the angry debates so common now in our society? Today’s issues seem so complex, that it is easy to become paralyzed to a state of inaction for fear of being criticized or for having to choose to make one side right and another wrong. This article will try to address these questions, with the hopes of inspiring the spiritually minded to get involved, because at a level unprecedented in human history, their help is urgently needed.So exactly what does spiritual activism mean? Most people, myself included, could come up with many different definitions since it is a relatively new term. Looking briefly at the past, if we sat down and had a conversation with many of the religiously supported preachers and missionaries sent around the world over the last several hundred of years, it could have been easily concluded that they were spiritual activists. Today many evangelical Christians and Islamic clerics would make the same claim with even greater fervor. As part of their religious teachings, they have urged and, in some cases, organized followers to become involved in politics and social change. In America, the recent and intense efforts to influence US government policies by what most people refer to as the ‘conservative, religious right or evangelicals’ prompted Rabbi Michael Lerner to write his book ‘The Left Hand of God’. In his book, Rabbi Lerner encourages everyone to become involved as spiritual progressives in social change and the political process.

So spiritual activism can mean different things to different people. This simple statement is one example of understanding that is part of a larger spiritual concept. Which is that the true, spiritual activist knows that everyone is doing what they believe is right, including those whose behavior or policies they are trying to change. In tackling an issue like international war, a spiritual activist would look at the ongoing pattern of what the world has been up to the last several thousands of years. People, empires, countries and been attacking each other back and forth for centuries with no real lasting resolution of peace. As a result, nothing is resolved and history repeats itself. What we have defined as peace has actually been a physical achievement by the conquering army. While it may temporarily create peace for the victors for decades or, perhaps in a few cases in ancient history, even hundreds of years, eventually, war will break out again. We hear it weekly in the news, a cultural myth that has been established that most accept as ultimate truth, that freedom comes at a high price, the price of going to war, a price that every generation must pay, if they want their way of life to continue. And so sadly, many people grow up with the belief that peace can only be achieved through war. But for those that might have a Christian or other religious upbringing, what kind of life is it if peace comes at a price that cost the lives of others?

And so a spiritual activist seeks to discern between what is myth and what is observably true. And what is observably true is that modern societies do not want to acknowledge that while technology to destroy life has exponentially increased with weapons of mass destruction or insatiable resource consumption; society’s ability to get along with each other has not. The resulting threat to species survival is both real and imminent.

Humankind is now at a true, turning point. This is what Dr. Jean Houston calls Jump Time or Ray Kurzweil refers to as the point of Singularity. Even religious fundamentalist sense the coming of Armageddon, and they are right, because if things do not change, that is where humanity is headed. Without any doubt, the generation of people living on the planet today, holds the future for all future generations. This is the generation that will decide if the earth will be a habitable planet for another millennium or destroy itself in as little as a hundred years. What humanity needs is a shift in beliefs at the most fundamental levels. This is a call for spiritual activism – to bring a new perspective to resolving age old, destructive behaviors whether they are related to environmental, social, economic or military issues. This is the time for change, for real change, and we are the ones to make it happen.

The age of the one savior to save the world is over. Look in the mirror and you will see the savior of the world. It is time for all of us to wake up and realize our divinity. As Steve Rother of Lightworker says, “This is the age of individual empowerment.” With this understanding, a spiritual activist will seek to find the higher, common ground, to create a new vision, to help others find alternatives that are always in humankind’s long term interest. This means applying the higher principles of a universal consciousness of love and unity to bring about social change. It is based on the awareness that everyone regardless of whose side they are on is actually seeking the same things – freedom, fairness and respect and a chance to live a healthy life, filled with love and opportunities for self-fulfillment – that is secure from threats to take these rights of life away.

While everyone might agree, after deeply analyzing the motivations of opposing sides, that this is what everyone wants, the problem is the way most people or countries are going about to achieve it. They are doing it at the expense of others, rather than working with others, to achieve it. What is needed to make this happen is courage beyond the need for courage. Courage that comes from a person’s state of beingness, that does not require mental reminders or coaxing. It may appear as courage as defined by others, but as a spiritual activist, it is the only position that can be taken. For the spiritual activist is acting from the love in their heart, and not the anger in their bodies and minds.

While it has been discussed what spiritual activism is, it is very important to spend a little time on defining the difference between spiritual activism and social activism. Social activism is usually focused on achieving social justice. In spiritual activism there is no such thing as spiritual justice. Justice is way of being, not a reactionary attempt to modify the behavior of others through the judicial system. Spiritual activism aims to achieve lasting resolution through understandings of higher truths and unity, not through legal judgments or partisan legislation. Having new laws passed by a 51% majority based on political agendas of one party over another would not be considered much of a victory to spiritual activists. Conversely, passing a law that was unilaterally supported by large margins regardless of political party would be satisfying because it would mean a lasting resolution that would not be subjected to change as political power changes. It would be based on a common understanding and agreement by those involved that the action taken is based on higher truths that are in the best interest of all people. It would be based on an effort to unify, not simply win the political voting game.

For example, despite the very significant and positive accomplishments of environmental agencies like the Sierra Club, Greenpeace and many others have made especially in the United States with new environmental regulations, environmentally, the planet is dying. While legal battles were won in the courts, our species is losing the environmental war. The same multinational corporations, that know that it is illegal to pollute in countries like the US, have shifted their investments to other countries like China that do not have proper environmental regulations.

Societies can not pass enough laws, hire enough regulators, policemen or prosecutors, or impose enough fines or file enough law suits or imprison enough violators to save the environment. The key question to the spiritual activist is, “What is fundamentally wrong with society such that we need environmental regulations to force people to not pollute?” The spiritual activist would seek to heal the problem at the core level of understanding about life for each human being. The ultimate goal would be bring about positive change that is sustainable without the need for physical force to enforce the chance. This is viewed as a waste of energy and resources that could be used more productively to support the sustainable solution.

The first and most important change for any spiritual activist starts with themselves. It is shifting away from having to be right in opposition to those that are wrong to doing what is right for all. Judgment and condemnation are replaced with logical assessments of what works and what does not work, based on what is ultimately trying to be achieved. Spiritual activism is about finally putting to practice at all levels of society – individuals, communities and governments, what in the Christian tradition, Jesus meant by – do unto other as you would like done unto you. This realization or new consciousness, and its unprecedented, revolutionary application at all levels of society, must now occur with as many people as possible if future generations are to continue with our species’ evolution. People are ready to hear a new vision. This is a call for the spiritual activist. So here is a definition of spiritual activism: SPIRITUAL ACTIVISM IS THE APPLICATION OF THE HIGHER BELIEFS OF LOVE AND UNITY, beyond personal development, TO CHANGE POLITICAL AND SOCIAL SYSTEMS TO BRING PEACE AND HARMONY TO WORLD AND TO AWAKEN OTHERS OF THEIR OWN DIVINITY.

The Diagram below shows the progressive levels of leadership in spiritual activism. The first level, while self evident, is listed because everyone must continue to do their own personal work to raise their own vibration and consciousness, but spiritual activism really starts with moving beyond this individual attention and social passivity to active engagement with others. Not everyone is meant to stand up in public and lead change. That is ok. Even for an individual to just work on raising their own personal vibration is a help. But from their own home, they can become active by sending loving thoughts and prayers to those in the public’s eye, and when possible and appropriate, financial support. The power of thought, not just focused on self, but to others, through prayer and intention is powerful. Spiritual people must be careful to not fall into the ‘New Age Bypass’ mental trap that just being it, is enough.

The next step, while keeping out of the public’s eye, would be to share one’s spiritual understandings with family and friends. This could be called ‘coming out of the closet’. From there, people can form small groups of friends to offer group prayer, intentions and resources to support leading organizations, and also explore and develop higher spiritual understandings. And finally it is very important to remember that as long as our societies are governed by layers of representative democracies, everyone must be willing to work within that system, to vote and support those brave enough to put forth a new vision for your local community, your country and the world.

For those who want to assume more of a leadership role, there are opportunities to organize local groups, or in some cases, depending upon the person’s individual passion, perhaps it is best to join existing groups. Here a spiritual activist can raise the vibration of many different groups such as those that might have a social or environmental focus to new levels of effectiveness. An individual can also pursue writing articles, books, starting a blog, and begin speaking in public as they move up on the leadership scale, including running for public office. For those that do, it is important to remember to detach from any outcomes. No setback, no failure, no opposition can deter a true spiritual activist from moving forward. Using his or her own divine power, a spiritual activist is infinitely empowered to continue their efforts because it is who they are, not because what they accomplish. It sounds like a paradox, but being detached from a particular outcome, actually increases the chance for success, because there is nothing that can demoralize a spiritual activist. There are no winners or losers, only a realization of what works and what does not work to support life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. These are the core principles, which I might add are very high spiritual principles based on deeper truths about life and divine rights – ‘that all are created equal’, upon which the United States was founded. Principles that are desperately needed to form a united world living in peace. Principles that once inspired people all over the world, and which can again. So to those that have a yearning to become spiritually active, listen to your heart and feel the joy and excitement of engaging in the process to help create heaven on earth for the benefit of all of life.

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