Developing a Spirituality for a Sustainable Activism
So, now you've begun. For your own unique reasons, you have embarked upon a path of personal change and the struggle for a radical cultural transformation. You have seen through the "reality" the dominator paradigm has encouraged you to buy -- at the cost of your joy, your well-being, your dreams, and as you intuitively realize, your life... and so you've begun. Sooner or later, though, you will come to fully understand that there is no magic formula to any sort of sustainable -- let alone revolutionary -- change. When the high drama becomes ordinary, how do you lift the ordinary out of the mundane -- and thereby create a day-to-day "living hope"? How will that still fragile "living hope" fare when faced with challenging memories and old psychological reactions to stress and interior shadows -- when everyone around you is also living out their own "stuff" and shredding every one of your good intentions and promises of mindfulness?
So here you are... what now? Yeshua said something once, something like this: "Love is all around, but still you do not see." Talk about a wake-up call! We live, move, and have our very being immersed in this Living Presence -- Who is everywhere and everything... Who is the Only Reality -- Nothing exists independent of "This". If this is true, which path forward? I'm not talking about the narrow view of "religion". Rather, I'm talking about how to get the obvious to hit you on the nose...
Rumi talks about the reed pulled from the stream bed and of how it longs to return to its source. This longing for intimacy and identification with the Beloved is the key for unlocking the treasures of the heart -- and for developing a spirituality for a sustainable activism. The old religions of guilt, shame, threat, and manipulation are of no use here! Only the radical freedom of an unchained heart-life (the union of mysticism and action) can propel one into the direct experience of "Only One" -- and thereby nurture a long life of service and activism focused on the goal of transforming the dominator paradigm into a new paradigm of solidarity, mutual aid, and "Only One".
"Okay", you might be saying about now. "What's next? How do I cultivate this 'Only One' experience right here in the midst of my one exhausted life? How do I truly honor this Quest of my life?"
"Okay", I might respond, "There is a Way!"
So here goes:
1. Relate yourself, everyone around you, and everything to "Only One". At the sub-atomic level, everything is very "loose". It all interpenetrates. It all makes the rounds from star-seed to life-seed. We've all gone from algae to ecstasy -- and we'll all go back again... On the metaphysical level, the Divine Whole is the one reality of which everything is. This Love beckons with all the ardor of a secret lover wanting out of the closet! This Love shares the hunger of Remembrance: this glance, this word, this touch, this kiss... This Love invites the practice of remembrance: take up your sacred mantra (perhaps "Only One" or "One Love") and let it become one with your breath... with every breath... This breath is the bridge -- the contact point -- with the Divine... this living, Holy Secret is the well-spring of your life, of all grace, and of your every possibility. This essential practice is the firm foundation for a sustainable activism -- and for a spirituality of wonder opening into Mystery and Mystery birthing wonder into the everyday experience of life...
2. Practice non-attachment. Reduce your motives to only one... A self-less life of community organizing and service will continue to allow the Love that is all around to seduce more and more people into the state of surrender: when and where Love is made visible in time and space. Mindfulness, enlightenment, self-realization, liberation, etc. are not things we can acquire by any practice, method, or technique. Rather, they are moments set free by and for Love, with no point or purpose independent of Love. Non-attachment is the ripe fruit in the Garden allowed to plop from the Tree into your opened hand -- to be given to another and another and another... "Only One" is the practice of giving it your all: without attachment to the results of what you do. "Only One" is to consciously dedicate both your actions, and their fruits, to the Holy One -- keeping No Thing for your little "grasping" "self"...
3. "Become" acceptance, tolerance, and forgiveness. You -- like everyone else -- are abundantly covered with "warts". The wisdom of the Way is the practice of forgiveness -- through forgiveness we are directly connected with the Holy One, our Beloved Friend. The "reed" that is your life longs for the recovered rootedness of the Source in gentleness, in harmlessness, in beauty, and in its return to its original condition of Only One. Look for answers in places forgotten by the dominant cultures and religions...
4. Stay focused on your Vision! Cultivate the power of intention. Let the light of focused intention shine through your shadows and reduce their influence over you. Practice daily affirmations as a tool to "Only One"...
5. Stay awake to the ebb and flow of your thoughts -- change them to be focused entirely on the positive and constructive! Be vigilant to the workings of your mind, of your personal and cultural habits that tend you toward the commonplace and to complacency. Practice transparency, truthfulness, openness.
6. Accept the Mystery of your life journey (of everyone's life journey)! It is grace that planted you within your skin, at this moment in time, and in your place! And it is grace that calls to you through the many events of your community, neighborhood, and on into the world. It is vitally important to cultivate humor! While pain and suffering is never a welcome guest in our lives -- it is an undeniable truth that "suffering is"... the task, the "trick", of the spiritual activist is to live in such a way that we reduce the world's suffering. Good humor is a great companion: probably much of what you take seriously will be stripped away from you by life itself... so give it away freely... your agendas, your skillful manipulations, give them all away.. Look for the unexpected, delight in paradoxes, impose nothing on the graciousness and beauty of the Universe.
7. Listen deeply to your heart. Cultivate the longing of the reed. Risk everything for the chance to love! This bowl of soup freely given with no expectation of "results", "success", or "transformation" is enough. This bow of respect for the "other" is enough. This kind word, this momentary embrace of a wounded being, this uplifting thought and good word, this organizing campaign, this witness for human equality and dignity, this is all "enough". Activated compassion and small, steady, acts of daily kindnesses point the Way -- and when united with others into "sacred circles" that reach out to network with other "sacred circles" -- you have the recipe for developing a spirituality for a sustainable activism! Fully engage your sacred imagination in order to cultivate every opportunity for the practice of beauty!
In the Name of the Holy One, Boundlessly Compassionate, Boundlessly Merciful... Beauty within Beauty within Beauty...
The Holy One speaks: "Come to me my Beloved, my Love, dearest one of my Heart. Come to me..."
Rest in the words, at-one with both the whirl of atoms and the spin of galaxies... everything has it's being within this Call, "Come to me, my Beloved"...
This Sacred Mystery expands and deepens as the Call of the One, becomes the Call for the Many...
The Holy One speaks: "Come to me my Beloved... and bring All the Others with you. Leave no one behind, for I would abandon no One -- and so you must bring everyone with you."
The whirl of atoms and the spin of galaxies become as a soup-ladle, lifted and poured out upon the Bread that is your Body, to likewise be lifted and given to the world, given to those who hunger for justice and who thirst for hope... everyone will find their safety, their health, and a joyous homecoming for their heart, lifted up by the wings of the Holy One, "Come to me, my Beloved... everyone is Wanted..."
Centered within this Holy Secret, relaxing into the pregnancy of breath, we breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I thank You". We let that awareness deepen and expand to include our loved ones, our communities and regions, all living beings and all inanimate things, until our awareness has included this entire precious blue Planet. We let that awareness then receive the terrible weight of all suffering within our lives, within our loved ones, our communities, regions, all living beings and all inanimate things, until our awareness has included all suffering on this precious blue Planet. We breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I bless You"... we breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I will remember You"... we breathe in "I love You" and we exhale "I will give You reason to hope"...
Conclude the Meditation by reciting the Three Jewels of Refuge:
I take refuge in Mystery. I take refuge in Love. I take refuge in Service for Justice and Peace -- and for this precious blue Planet.
Simone Weil has said it best: "You were created by Love, for Love, to become Love." Dostoevsky's insight, "The world will be saved by Beauty", puts the finishing touches on this dynamic, new, philosophy of life. And if you are well into the habit now of practicing a rugged honesty with yourself, doesn't this philosophy literally sing within your heart? Doesn't it provide a blessed relief from that ancient "you are not good enough" philosophy that came to be defined as "original sin"? As human beings we intuitively hunger for an experience of an integrated wholeness -- we intuit that we have been made for "unity", for the "recovery of our right mind"... essential practices for our conscious re-entry into Only One -- One Love especially includes "beauty": music, poetry, art, movement, literature, massage, laughter, walking, bathing (hot tub soaking for everyone on our precious blue Planet would end the arms race and war), photography, film making, gardening, cooking, eating... do you get the point?
On a profoundly deep level -- well into the heart -- to "practice beauty" means to cultivate an active lifestyle of grace, of kindness, of harmlessness, of a wild Love that moves and flows outward without boundaries... eliminating boundaries... nudging us into genuine faith... and then that core human experience of faith slowly seduces our consciousness into the "original blessing" with which and for which we were created... the "radiant delight" of loving sexual communion and sacred pleasure is meant to be the sign, symbol, and sample of Divinity-Within-Our-Touch...and gateway to the Divine One (Who is always and everywhere present as the Invitation to One Love). The Universe is calling out to each one of us, to every creature, and to all of creation: "Awaken to the splendor that you are!"
Everything: absolutely everything, that does not liberate every one of us on this precious blue Planet into this paradise of possibilities must be set aside! We must root out every philosophy that restricts, inhibits, or denies our truth -- especially that includes negative philosophical concepts such as "original sin" -- the root of sexism, violence, capitalism (economic exploitation), and just about every injustice we inflict upon one another. Awakening into this stunning paradise of possibilities inspires a true reverence for life: nonviolence becomes our watchword. Evironmental regeneration (looking seven generations forward) and vegetarianism (walking-living lightly upon the earth and causing as little harm as possible) are two key practices towards "Only One", and both are absolute necessities in this century and beyond as we enter our next stage as human beings: conscious evolution...
We need the integration of our every action -- all of our core human activities -- into a cohesive whole. In other words, we must no longer divey-up our humanity into "this for God - this for me - this is play - this is work - this is spiritual - this is mundane", etc., etc. Nor must we allow our minds to be sub-divided into "good and bad", "body and spirit", "pleasure (sin) and suffering (godly)". The totality of our being, as humans, is meant to be experienced in harmony and delight, and be brought into the realm of Beauty. Unity transcends division; Only One is the ever-lasting delight of true wisdom. As we learn to descend into our hearts and to engage life from that Sacred Place, we will eventually and inevitably confront the naked truth: Surprise! All this time, and we were never actually separate from our Source, from One Love... It was right there, always and everywhere... and then for all of us, it'll be, "Oops... silly me!" But until then...
Everyone and everything in existence is a "mirror" of the Only One. Through the perfection of our gaze into and through the "mirror" of existence, we encounter One. The incredible splendor of multiplicity is the revelation of the Beautiful One! Our adoration of this Beauty, especially through the practices of the works of mercy and justice, "polishes" each of our mirrors. Our delight in "form" prepares us for the bliss of "formlessness". Kindness and art are the "containers" that hold the flowers of our devotion to this Beauty, to this One Love... The Source, the Primordial Consciousness, continues to imagine everything into existence and through the energy of the Divine Breath, the manifestation of creation is sustained. Through our intentional awareness, through our meditation, through our justice and harmlessness practices, and through an active cultivation of beauty, our "mirrors" will become "veils" and, finally, the veils will themselves disappear as we "become" who we always were: One Love...
Holy Moly! What a great time to be alive! We are on the verge of a great Planetary Awakening -- and soon -- nothing will ever be the same again! Now, how are you? Are you going to commit? Go ahead, say it: "I'm awake and ready!"
The entire Universe is perhaps best considered a "musical thought"... the energy of Light, of Quantum Consciousness, creates, animates, and sustains everything from star-seed to life-seed, from the material to the spiritual... star-light feeds every life form... through the vibratory structure of matter, we are all connected... and we are all birthed from the stars... It is possible to intuit the Love Consciousness, the formless No-Thing, within Every-Thing... this Consciousness is the very mystery of photosynthesis, the secret within the fluttering wings of the hummingbird, the mystic-breeze of the butterfly's flight, the flow of the endless wave, the eternal, silent, symphony of PHI, and the love-making of humans... We are all fed by the Plants... We are all nourished by touch, by kiss, by embrace, by every movement and manifestation of love... Evolution is the surge of Light into matter and matter into consciousness and from consciousness into Only One... Imagination and inspiration lift everything into "inter-being" and the play of infinite possibilities... and we may be-come Love Again... This "be-coming Love Again" is the sacred transformation that the mystics of all ages and all religions have experienced -- their experiences are not only repeatable, but we must come to think of them as requirements, personal requirements for each one of us. This 21st century is the beginning of a new humanity -- the death-throes of the old are all around us: unbridled capitalism and exploitation, violence and endless justifications, phobias of every sort, and most especially, the continuing oppression of women -- but none of this is any longer a secret! Therein lies the power of our times! And a spirituality for a sustainable activism must be firmly grounded in the holy intention of both personal and Planetary transformation -- no one gets left out, and nothing gets left behind! Gratitude gratitude gratitude... It is possible to live increasingly "Light" upon this Planet: it is possible to live as a gift for the children seven generations from now... it is possible to eat and to live as an offering to the Holy One, to One Love... it is possible to become channels of peace, kindness, compassion, and harmlessness... it is possible to think peace and to become peace at the tables around which we gather, in our families, in our communities, in our schools, and in our work-places -- and on into our religions, economics, cultures, and politics... The Only One lives in the Invitation to Practice One Love...
"Will transformation. O be enraptured
with flame, wherein a thing
eludes you that is boastful
with changes; that projecting
spirit, which masters the
earthly, loves in the swing of
the figure nothing so much as
the point of inflection." -- Rilke
Steps Toward a Life Purpose Statement...
1. What will be the sacred center of my life?
"Anywhere is the center of the world." -- Black Elk
Is there not one thing in your life worth losing everything for?
MY LIFE WILL BE CENTERED ON:
2. What will be the character of my life?
(Remember, character is who we are -- not what we do.)
"Let the beauty you love be what you do." -- Rumi
"All things have spirit -- a rock, a tree, a person -- and all of those things are part of a greater spiritual reality. We are all shapes of the earth. The elements in our bodies are made up of the elements of the earth. And everybody is made up of those elements. We are human beings. The physical is the 'human' part. The 'being' is our connection to the moon and the universe. I am part of a larger creation." -- John Trudell
MY LIFE WILL BE CHARACTERIZED BY:
3. What will be the contribution of my life? Why am I alive?
"Some people see things and say, 'Why?' But I dream things that never were and I say, 'Why not?' -- Robert Kennedy
A personal commitment to volunteer service will nurture the connections between personal goals and responsibilities, and relationships of justice, equality, and peace with one's family, neighbors, community, and world.
MY LIFE CONTRIBUTION WILL BE:
4. What will be the message of my life? What will be the heart of the stories I will tell of my days at school, at work, at leisure, and in recreation?
"You must build your life as if it were a work of art." -- Abraham Heschel
"What we all need to do is find the wellspring that keeps us going, that gives us the strength and patience to keep up this struggle for a long time." -- Winona LaDuke
How will I share my core beliefs and values? How will I receive the beliefs of others?
THE COMMUNICATION OF MY LIFE WILL INCLUDE:
5. What will be the community of my life? How would I act differently if I tried to see the Holy One in my family, in my school, in my work, in everyone I meet? In what ways do I take responsibility in my family, school, work, or community? How often do I try to do something good for someone else, for someone I don't know? In what ways do I work for the common good. for future generations, and for this precious blue Planet?
"I have a dream..." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Nonviolence is our greatest strength." -- Cesar Chavez
"Love is the responsibility of an 'I' for a 'you'. -- Martin Buber
MY LIFE WILL BE IN COMMUNITY WITH:
6. How would I think, feel, speak, and act if I saw everyone I met as the Holy One? How would I think, feel, speak, and act if I knew myself to be sacred, blessed, and worth all the Beauty of the Holy One (and everyone)?
"The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself."
"The greatest challenge of the day is: how to bring about a revolution of the heart, a revolution that has to start with each one of us?" -- Dorothy Day
MY LIFE PURPOSE STATEMENT IS: