“When you have a pro-peace rally, I will be there.” ~ Mother Theresa’s response to a question about why she did not attend an anti-war rally.
THE PATH OF SPIRITUAL ACTIVISM
Spiritual Activism is the coming together of spirituality, and activism. It is not about any form of dogma, it is simply activism that comes from the heart, not just the head, activism that is compassionate, positive, kind, fierce and transformative. It focuses as much on what we are for, as on what we are against. It is rooted in an understanding of interdependence, and works to end of the suffering of all beings, even our opponents. Nothing could be more inspiring and more rewarding than being the change we want to see in the world, within and without.
Below are some suggested tenets I have adapted from a group called Humanity Healing. This is not a definitive statement – just one groups suggestions – but a good set, and well worth considering.
The path of Spiritual Activism enables individuals or groups to develop the noble qualities of compassion, wisdom and gratitude. It is in itself a Path of Transformation – a Spiritual Blueprint for living. The core dynamics behind the Spiritual Keys of Activism are creativity, adaptability, understanding and the peaceful resolution of conflicts.
1. All Action is Based on Compassion
When championing a Cause, the mindset must be altruistic and the motivating emotion must be positive. Spiritual Activism is action for the benefit of something, not against something.
2. Compassion Flows from the Understanding of the Connection Between All Living Beings.
We are all connected through our shared Humanity. When you learn to see that our differences are superficial and our similarities manifest, sympathy (or worse, pity) gives way to compassion. Our actions shift from one of “us helping them” to one of “for the good of All”. We become One.
“The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” ~ Thomas Merton
3. Compassion Must Be Applied With Wisdom
There are more causes that exist than an individual or group can possibly be involved with. It is important to choose your causes carefully. Learn to Act instead of React.
4. Apply Synergy and Teamwork to Accomplish Goals
Synergy is the process where two or more actions combine to produce an effect greater than the sum of its individual parts. Like ripples in a pond, spiritual actions combine and build on each other to magnify an effect beyond what each could do individually. Whenever possible, team up with others to acquire a multifaceted and more holistic approach. “The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.” ~ Unknown
5. Spiritual Activism is the Pursuit of Service for the Good of All
It is not for the Advancement or Benefit of Individuals or Selected Communities. The mindset behind your actions is noble, holistic, Universal and non-partisan. Be mindful that ego and self-service have no place in Spiritual Activism.
***Velcrow’s note: however spiritual activism is all about Self serving – it serves your highest Self, not your ego, and is a pathway to true and deep happiness, as opposed to the temporary and unstable happiness of the ego.
6. Pursue Integrity, Honesty and Dignity in the Conduct of Your Actions
Embrace Mindfulness in the application of your activities and be aware of how your actions may be perceived by others. Machiavelli’s “The ends justify the means” has no place in Spiritual Activism. If our methods are not noble, our results will not be either. Practice Spiritual Transparency, allowing negative energies to bypass your system without harming it. “Integrity is doing the right thing even if no one is watching.” ~ Unknown
7. Do not Defame Your Detractors or Those Who Doubt You
A confrontational approach leads to a defensive reaction. Approach others with Openness and Compassion in your heart. Build on the commonalities between you instead of focusing on the differences. As much as possible, detach yourself from the results of your actions. Aspire to always be a Peacemaker. “Honest differences are often a healthy sign of progress.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi
8. Raising Another Up Raises You Up As Well
Helping another becomes a form of self-love as well as an expression of outward love. This becomes an upwardly spiraling cycle of increasing awareness, connection, compassion, involvement, capacity, and back to increasing awareness.
9. Learn to Listen to Your Heart and Not Your Mind
Your mind may only see the problem. Your heart will always feel the solution. Learn to act with Faith and cultivate a loving perception when facing collective problems. “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
10. Search Out Viable and Sustainable Solutions
Seek out solutions that maintain or restores the dignity of individual human and their communities. Solutions that become self sustaining. “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” ~ Jesus
11. Spiritual Activism is about process.
The process by which you arrive at the goal is as important as reaching the goal itself. If we live the change we want to see in the world, we cannot lose. We have already won.
WHAT IS A SPIRITUAL PROGRESSIVE?
The Network of Spiritual Progressives, co-chaired by Rabbi Michael Lerner, Dr. Cornel West, and Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister seeks to promote a spiritual progressive agenda. Below is their explanation of what a spiritual progressive politics is:
We in the NSP (Network of Spiritual Progressives) use the word “spiritual” to include all those whose deepest values lead them to challenge the ethos of selfishness and materialism that has led people into a frantic search for money and power and away from a life that places love, kindness, generosity, peace, non-violence, social justice, awe and wonder at the grandeur of creation, thanksgiving, humility and joy at the center of our lives.
So we include in our meaning of “spiritual” all dimensions of life that cannot fit into a scientistic or narrowly empiricist frame. We reject the notion that all that is real or all that can be known is that which can be subject to emprirical justifiction or can be measured.
Social change activity gets focused on a narrow political agenda that lacks the depth that can inspire sustained commitment or nourishing involvement. Imagine an international group of people who would see themselves as allies to each other in advancing this way of thinking, people who are unashamedly utopian and willing to fight for their highest ideals, yet unashamedly humble in knowing that we don’t know all that we need to know to do the healing that needs to be done.
Imagine that this group would help each other in our individual as well as group activities, affirming what is good and brainstorming with us about how to create a movement that gives equal priority to our inner lives and to social justice, that takes loving and caring as serious goals for social healing, and that rejects the utilitarian and materialistic assumptions of the contemporary world and actively fosters awe and wonder in its participants. Imagine that you could be part of creating that.