"non est ad astra mollis e terris via"
There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.
Neither personal transformation, nor the global, will ever be easy. No one can take transformation off of some shelf and hand it to you (and those claiming to have it "for sale", are only offering a bunch of hoo-ey). No one -- no religion, no economic system, and no political party -- has a "corner" on the ways and means of deep change, let alone the rapid and total transformation that is needed. So where is the intentional mystic-activist to look for some down-to-earth guidance: that holds out the possibility of radical and true "rEvolution"?
How about starting with getting profoundly familiar and deeply connected with Mahatma Gandhi? He was a unique combination of sinner, rascal, saint, mystic, and revolutionary activist: he lived "embedded" in the Bhagavad Gita (the Hindu manual for yoga practice, wisdom, and devotion): but not in the safety of a monastery or private club, instead in the grit, sweat, and blood of suffering humanity. The "rEvolution" which he led, not only freed India from the grasp of the British Empire through nonviolent means, but also inspired multiple generations of nonviolent mystic-activists around the world. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Aung San Suu Kyi, Alfredo Perez Esquivel, Desmond Tutu, Daniel Berrigan, and Vandana Shiva, are but a few examples. Wouldn't it be great to someday have your name listed among theirs?
Gandhi offers a firm philosophical footing for proceeding in work for transformation. The first, and perhaps the most important, "Gandhian principle" would be the beginning line of this article: "There is no easy way from the earth to the stars." Change is never easy -- power will never simply hand over the keys to the kingdom. Martin Luther King, Jr. studied, practiced, worked, suffered, and lost as often as he won: yet racism was exposed and challenged: and civil rights for all continues to be the goal of new generations. The second "Gandhian principle" would perhaps be: "Love is the law of our being". This principle firmly entrenches our mind, heart, soul -- and feet -- in the timeless mystic wisdom of "We were created by Love, for Love, to become Love" (Simone Weil). If it is true that we might only get what we aim for so we better aim high -- there is nothing higher than this core realization. Is there anything at all more different from the dominator paradigm than "love without limits"? Is there anything at all the complete opposite of power than compassion, kindness, and practiced harmlessness? The third, and final, introductory "Gandhian principle" would be "There is only one liberation: that which frees both the oppressor and the oppressed into a new relationship based on love, forgiveness, and justice". We all either get there together, or none of us at all will enter the New Creation: there is no half way to Paradise.
Of course, this is the briefest possible introduction to Gandhi... but it is really intended to be an introduction to your own possibilities! Gandhi's life example and teachings are an invaluable resource for the modern mystic-activist. I suppose, though, if I were to add just one more thing to this page, and to your study and practice, it would be this: have fun! Smile all the time if you possibly can. Your enthusiasm will at least confuse the opponents of transformation! Be playful and joyous: act as if you and the cause of peace, justice, equality, kindness, and beauty have already overcome. Become the greatest Lover this world has ever known! And if two or three of you -- or a group -- steadfastly cling to becoming the change you want to see in the world: the rest of us will, sooner or later, follow you. Your life is worth this much, isn't it?
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.