In a world ravaged by violence, where do we turn for hope that our children might survive, perhaps even flourish? Oh, I know that many people are increasingly turning to religious fundamentalism for a surety that events in the world steadily denies... yet, to believe and anticipate a final judgment that will only cement as permanent the suffering that humanity has already experienced, is to believe, for all intents and purposes, that this Universe is not benevolent: that there is no such Being as the "God" of Love: for if Love does not find It's Action as Mercy, Compassion, and Forgiveness: then it is not Love but an Absolute Denial of Being. If this is true, how then, do YOU find YOUR Action?
Is your self-identity also your self-definition? Are you female / male? White or Black or Another Shade of Human? Are you Jew, Christian, Muslim, Taoist, Buddhist, Hindu, Pagan, Agnostic, or Atheist? Are you Conservative, Liberal, Progressive, or Socialist? Are you heterosexual, homosexual, bisexual, or other-sexual? Are you wealthy, middle-class, or poor? Are you employed, self-employed, or unemployed? These are but a few of the many ways in which we might self-identify by means of limiting definitions. Me? Well, you would have to ask!
I gave years and years to cultivating an identity only to discover that what I was actually doing was constructing the coffin I wanted to be buried in! I wanted to be remembered as "X, Y, and Z"... only to eventually discover that the task of the person entering the ranks of the elders was the de-construction of all that went before! Not that it was "bad", but rather that it really just wasn't good enough! Now that is quite some thought: "just not good enough"... Another way to look at it is simply this: "what are you worth?" Most of us are taught to settle for the signs put on our coffins: "He was a good man." "She was a hard worker." "What a fine Christian." And yet, and yet: this world is crying out in agony! We don't need "good men", "hard workers", or "fine Christians"! We need saints! We need rEvolutionaries! We need stunning workers in the fields of justice! We need radical examples of mercy, compassion, and forgiveness! We need teachers to de-construct the myths that have us corralled in all the "isms" in the book! We need to live worthy of the grace and gift of our breath and the blessing of this precious blue Planet!
Now, Gandhi's vision was precisely this: we can learn to live in such a way that we create for ourselves, our institutions, and our states the only reality that matters: Love without limits. Everything else is an exercise in futility: small lives lived as boring obituaries buried and forgotten with us in the coffins we built for ourselves. How would our lives become different if we jettisoned all of our fear? Oh I'm not concerned about your fear of flying: I'm thinking of your fear of the Black man in Ferguson; I'm thinking of your fear of the immigrant in Texas, of the feminist in Berkeley, of the transsexual moving in next door to you... So with fear out of your life, what then might you begin to do? Maybe pray to the Goddess? Maybe think homosexual love could be beautiful? Maybe invite a Mexican immigrant over for burritos? Maybe invite your Tea Party friends into a study club to read Vandana Shiva? What would any of this mean in your now very real and substantial life? It would mean that you have decided to stand up and step into the actual maelstrom of human history and begin to implement Gandhi's Vision of "love is the law of our being"...
There are fundamentally only two emotions -- one might even say only two thoughts -- love and fear: that which truly makes us God-like in the power of creation is this choice: "Will I hunker down in my fears or will I let them all go and choose instead to practice, as best I can, to love without limits?" When once you have leapt into Love, all the old self-definitions slough off like old dead tired flakes of skin: and that which remains becomes a living flame: What need have I to judge, to hate, to fear? None whatsoever! So I will be free in every way possible! I will celebrate kindness and pleasure! I will expand my heart to include everyone! I will serve others and take the last place! I will feed the hungry and organize for justice! I will, I will, I will and so much more until I give my last breath back to Love with a great big Thank-You!"
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.