It seems that one of the unfortunate hallmarks of the "new age" spiritual search is the cost involved: retreats and initiations are very big business -- and the retreat-goers and initiates both are increasingly limited to only those with enough extra money to "devote" to a spiritual search: how often does a single mother living with her three children in a housing project have the opportunity to even imagine the possibility of a vacation -- let alone a retreat or a "spiritual initiation"? This same mother is lucky indeed to be able to attend a basement "church" somewhere near her home... and keep faith a hope in salvation: she has no time for the work of liberation, either in justice or self-realization...
Most of the folks I've known in my life struggle everyday just to breathe -- never mind hope for a better life: and this is the lot of most people on this precious blue Planet! Moving "up" the economic ladder just a bit and one finds here the majority of those persons who fill the churches, temples, and mosques: only those without a terrifying poverty shadowing their every move have the energy for spiritual exploration. (It's the folks, the ones right on the edge and afraid of going over, who most often fall prey to fundamentalism or fanaticism and quickly follow their "leaders" in judging, blaming, or condemning the "others" of their choice: Satan, blacks, immigrants, feminists, gays -- and alternatively depending upon one's "anti-persuasion", Muslims, Jews, Hindus, or Christians, etc.)...
Since "yoga" is on the map -- and all over the place -- perhaps we can intentionally design a "Yoga of Illuminated Poverty": thinking first of that single mom struggling with a reality that denies her access to all the "cool yoga's" in their "hot studios" uptown... what would that yoga of illuminated poverty look like? Have you ever pondered the spiritual divide that is so obvious in America? Is a definite amount of leisure an essential requirement for a spiritual / philosophical life? Since most national cultures -- following the examples of the main world religions -- foster various "us against them" attitudes and policies, can a "new age" spirituality come to serve as a bridge of reconciliation and unity?
What do you think?
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.