Are You Spiritual but not Religious? What does that mean? Can you be Spiritual AND Religious?

May 26, 2015 - 3:48 pm Comments Off on Are You Spiritual but not Religious? What does that mean? Can you be Spiritual AND Religious?

Homily/Theme: What Does It Mean To Be Spiritual and Religious?

Chances are that you have heard these words from your friends who have been seeking their own answers, and chances are that you have said these words yourself: “I am spiritual, but I am not religious!”

Generally, we all know what that means, right? That we identify ourselves as a person who explores, who bravely seeks answers, and who often can not find what they are seeking in the traditional ways of church, worship, with all of the limiting behavioral expectations and the exclusionary beliefs.

IF we have recently returned to our childhood faith, or when as an adult, we have reexamined the beliefs and values that are still being espoused, we can encounter limited understanding, traditional patriarchal meanings, or a series of disheartening attitudes that are, at their worst, harsh and depersonalizing, and even at their best, they can be stale and limiting.

In today’s culture, yes, even here in the “Holy City” area – One of the most resistant, most traditional, and most conservative of places, there are a growing number of people who find themselves dissatisfied with what passes for religious beliefs, and who can no longer feel comfortable, much less inspired, by traditional worship.

In particular, they can object to the repressive uses of theology and Scripture as agents of control that try to limit the scope of your questions, or cramp your desire to seek out your own answers.

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Just as many people say that they have out grown the image of God as the old man in heaven, sitting on a golden throne, as judge and jury over our souls, so too have many people outgrown the belief that we are sinners and need judgmental or parental authority figures to tell us what to do, and what to believe about God, life, love…

I expect that most of you sitting here have encountered this and resisted it, and it is possible that you have found yourselves a little lost, or at least disheartened over the lack of choice, or the lack of open, and progressive alternatives to church in our area. It can appear as if many churches here are living in a isolated time warp or a cocoon that shuts out the need for greater acceptance or tolerance.

For example, by my quick count, there are over 100 churches in Charleston county, yet there are only five communities of faith that welcome gay and lesbians, only three of these five church groups would be consider themselves to centrally Christian, only one to be inclusive and metaphysical, and only one maybe two to be welcoming of all faiths or accepting of having no faith at all! No wonder there are so many spiritual Meetup Groups! There are a lot of people who are looking around, and most cannot find what they seek!

During my personal lifelong study and my ministry experiences, there has been a lot of resistance to the word spiritual, just as there has been in more recent years, there is the reluctance to call oneself a religious person. …

 

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I feel that the time is “ready and ripe” to define both terms in new inclusive and welcoming ways. (which by the way, are the words Jesus used in Aramaic to describe what he called being Blessed…

As in the Beatitudes… Ready are you…)

Let’s chose the easier word first… being religious…

I bet you thought I would choose spiritual, didn’t you?

Without belaboring it, most conventional churches are only superficially or sentimentally religious. They prefer to operate as pious social groups, for business networking, for parenting support, for reinforcing the status quo with a little sentimental story, or a passive ritual… That’s is what conventionally passes for being religious. However, there is a deeper, more troubling dimension to be religious in our culture today…

That is when being religious means that you are blindly arrogant. When Scripture is used as a political weapon for exclusion or inclusion- Either you believe what we say or we will threaten you in two things: You will be threatened with being ostracized from family, friends, jobs, or you will be threatened with damnation and Hell because, according to the way they have chosen to read the words, they can pronounce that you are not accepted, that you are a sinner!

The pressure to conform to ideas and concepts you no longer trust or believe in is a heavy one; This coercion we can feel, especially from family and friends, can be very disheartening.

 

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I have heard this experience often from my clients in spiritual direction. They would often agree around these experiences:

That they had to leave home religiously in order to find themselves- They had to be a bold, rebellious, and then become an adult seeker…

However, it is also true that this path can be very difficult… being responsible for your own answers, being a mystic seeking wholeness or becoming a prophet after truth is not an easy road! That is why so few people choose it!

As I see it, arrogant or judgmental theology has created more atheists, and more disillusioned people that any question based on science or social doubt could have ever done! However, it has also created many sincere seekers who wish to find spiritual ideals and a community that now fit their expanded understanding…

In the 12 Principles of Creation Spirituality, you will see that this community will consciously aim to rectify and restore your sense of dignity, value, talent, and purpose. It will not ask you to sacrifice your ability to reason, nor will it expect you to believe in anything or act in any way that is not compassionate and wise.

You see, religion, as it pertains to its original word meaning, religiare, is an expression of human belonging or spiritual bonding that keeps, respects, and holds people together in service to a larger ideal or a greater truth than one can have or hold just by themselves.

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Being religious is having or holding on a sustaining belief in the grace that can be found in being together- in sharing, in working together to support and to encourage one another through our commonly held ways of worship, study, and service.

(group energy/synergy and dynamism)

Now I fully acknowledge that stating or even declaring that you are “spiritual but not religious” is an important necessary step in many people’s spiritual journey- There is truth in saying that you first have to know what you do not believe in before they can find what ideas and ideals that can become your new sources for truth. When one goes through rejection, what you are expressing is what you no longer accept, or that you no longer wish to practice a level of belief or consciousness that you feel that you have either outgrown, or that is dysfunctional or even disrespectful for you.

Instead, many sincere seekers have chosen to remain outside of any church community until you can find a place that would support and inspire your new more mature and more inclusive awareness.

So I celebrate the virtue of necessary rejection! Without the courage to walk away, to explore, and to discover new truths, you cannot realize or be responsible for having an adult or mature understanding of faith, God, spirit, truth… As Walt Whitman put it, we are to “dismiss anything that insults our souls, and then our very flesh will become a poem!”

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We need a religious dimension to our lives so that we can experience a sense of belonging, and feel as if there are sisters and brothers around that we can trust, and that we can be honest with, and who will genuinely care about us: Mind/Body/Heart/and Soul.

When religion and spirituality intersect, and when they become clearly practiced, we can arrive at a complementary synthesis, or a complete belief system. As Matthew Fox, founder of Creation Spirituality puts it, “There can be no mysticism without ethics, and no spirituality without justice.” I would add that there can be no complete sense of religious understanding without an active spirituality to accompany it. Without having sufficient regard for Myth, mystery, and meaning, there cannot be a complete sense of the Holy that can be found in that community.

Most of the new nationwide research on what people are looking for in a spiritual community centers around becoming more pneumocentric- more Spirit centered and bravely open to many ideas. which is contrary to the historical and conventional ways of church… This more Spirit centered approach will be more inclusive of various paths towards truth, it will be more participatory, and will seek to provide various ways of learning as a part of each service. It has become clear from all the feedback they have received that long time seekers, and those of the new wave of searchers will not be content with being “sacred observers.” This is the term I have found to best describe that conventional congregation:

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just passively sitting in their pews, and feeling parented by some authority figure or satisfied by simply be given pious pabulum that has little value or no direct application once they leave the service!

In short, the new generation of spiritual pioneers and visionaries will not settle for religion being done “for them or done to them”… They wish to learn how to live their ideas more fully, not just talk about them! They want to wholeheartedly participate in developing an adult, responsible, and a knowledgeable faith that informs the whole person, and that tributes positively to the critical, necessary social changes we see around us…

Now for the word, spiritual… what a minefield that is! It is so inexact, so obtuse, with so many amorphous definitions that while we can easily come to a general consensus, those facile words still lack depth or any sense of a complete understanding! It took me ten pages to define it in my book on Spirit, Time and The Future!

Generally speaking, the word spiritual is most commonly equated with a kind of universal energy, or with some force that it both within us and beyond us. Other times, the word spiritual takes on the more pious or sentimental ideas of grace, but still not knowing how or in what ways that blessing can arrive or occur. …

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I do not believe that spirituality is neither reducible to secular physics, nor is it a abstract, sentimental notion of God’s reality…

While Spirit’s basic effect is vitality, She can also be known as our source for wisdom, evolutionary relationships, soul centered healing, and justice making… It flows from the center of the Cosmos, and is evident in every breathe we take… The qualities most associated with Spirit are alchemical: They are the abilities of Transformation; Transcendence, and Transmutation… Change!

As I see it, the source for all this is the inclusive and expansive understanding of The Holy Spirit in Christianity is the same gracious and powerful Spirit or divine feminine that is found in all the timeless mystical aspects of the world faiths. She manifests and releases creativity and compassion, and She guides any community that is founded on interdependent, evolutionary impulses that direct us beyond ego and culture, and towards a sustaining sense of being whole and free…

I welcome you today to this opportunity to worship, and to work together, to share in creating a community of soulful exploration and compassionate understanding- a community that teaches how to live a pneumatic or a Spirit centered life- a life that is filled with discovery, affirmation, and blessings! Amen; So be It! Blessed Be!

 

Creation Spirituality: An Introduction to the 4 Paths

April 27, 2015 - 8:47 pm Comments Off on Creation Spirituality: An Introduction to the 4 Paths

Celebrating Our Original Blessings:

An Introduction to the Four Paths of Creation Spirituality

The Reverend Peter Edward Lanzillotta, Ph.D.

 

There is a great search going on in our society today. It is a common yearning, a deeply held one and now; Often this inquiry is an expressed need for connection to the Earth and to one another.

From the dawn of civilization, humankind has sought out ways to define relationships to the greater world around them. To be fully human, is to search for meaning; we are not just social animals, political or economic beings, we are a seeking, curious, creative and wondering animals- homo sacralis- We are humans that seek what is holy, meaningful, what is divine within us and what is divine all around us.

Religion can be defined by any activity, which by its practice and understanding, that helps us to feel more connected; unified; together, (from Latin, religiare) and by any activity that assists us in transcending the intellect and the ego- spirituality facilitates our ability to going beyond our superfical social selves, and to look both beyond and within for our deepest, most true answers.

Today, the old, traditional ways of religion and being together, no longer fit the demands of new approaches to planetary science, or the complexities of our social existence. Religious outlooks and teachings have not kept up to the demands of modern living…

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A compelling concern has now presented itself to all of us: that humans everywhere have to come together to create a new cosmology- in new, inclusive and inspiring ways that include the holistic or interdependent linking of science, art, service, and mysticism. These outlooks synergistically combine in a simple and yet profound universal acceptance that spirituality and ecology, art and justice, all belong together and all are deeply connected to each other.

This yearning, this search has had some leading edges…. Nowhere is this yearning felt more deeply than in the various liberation movements, 12 step recovery groups, and the worldwide desire for church revitalization or the increasing dissatisfaction with the status quo in society, economy, relationships, etc. As a consequence of a search that is becoming critical and apparent, there is also a need for a common religious and metaphoric language that unites religious ideals to the frontiers of science, the depths of art, and the expanse of culture. One approach that boldly and enthusiastically presents itself as being able to facilitate these desires, and fulfill these wide ranging and inclusive needs. It is called Creation Spirituality.

Right away, let me declare that this approach has nothing to do with Creationism! In fact, its openness to science and mystery function as the direct opposite!

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One of the main purposes of Creation Spirituality is to remedy and rectify the old harmful theologies and those toxic and demeaning religious beliefs that have crippled people since their childhood…

As an interfaith movement, it offers a new interpretation of the Creation and the entire Biblical story based on its positive themes. As a uniting philosophy or framework, Creation Spirituality helps us to reclaim the beauty and inspiration of The Western religious traditions without having to accept any of the old control centered, static, severe, dour, necrophilic, irrational and pious theology!

Those interpretations of Scripture and human nature that are so often used to promote grief, guilt, shame or fear. Creation Spirituality teaches that our salvation is not based on believing some speculative man-made creed. If we are to be saved; that is, if we are to be whole, loving, and free, we cannot divorce our personal concerns from those of our planet Earth, or from our sisters and brothers around the world.

CS is an outlook and a conviction that says that if we, as humankind, and we, as a civilization and as a planet are going to survive, then we will have to actively acknowledge our common origins, our shared human experience, and actively affirm the worth, the sanctity, the mystery and the divinity of Earth itself.

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Creation is a wonder… Yet, it is ironic that so few of the Western churches teach such respect and reverence as a part of their religious education programs or life span teachings.

Instead, the models that have been passed down to us are either excessively moralistic, or do not give equal time to the dignity and worth of the person and the environment. Many of us have been sternly taught and often admonished about Original Sin, but very little is ever said or affirmed about our Original Blessings. It starts with the affirmation of the mystery and miracle of God as Spirit, presence, as compassionate energy that is inherent, interwoven, alive and timelessly participating in Creation. It teaches about God as an alive Spirit that maintains a gracious benevolence and that God has a sustaining intimate relationship with all life!

Creation Spirituality states that Heaven and Hell are not places, but states of mind and heart that confirm that we need a more positive view of ourselves, and our world, if we are ever expect to repair, restore, or revitalize the Earth or be a healing presence for one another. As for the greatest sin…

It is not found in eating an apple- it is the wholesale desecration of Mother Earth herself! It has been our ignorant, wasteful ravaging that now holds all of humanity liable, and holds the world’s people at risk.

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So while Creation Spirituality does not avoid dealing with personal sin, it does not wallow in guilt or shame either. Instead, it encourages us to look at ourselves compassionately; it encourages us to educate ourselves out of any lingering beliefs, willful ignorance, or any passive acceptance of religiously imposed inadequacies.

Students of Creation Spirituality see one another as caregivers, who have to reclaim the natural wonders and blessings of our world. C.S. teaches us to see and experience the beauty and love, understanding and consolation we can find in walking the beach, watching a leaf hold a butterfly or when we hold hands across our cultural ways to give another person hope; when we find a quiet joy looking into one another’s eyes, or the sanctuary felt when we are in another’s arms.

Creation Spirituality does not start with Adam and Eve- It begins by affirming our positive identity as the children of God, made in the image and likeness of the Divine… From that sacred basis, we find our working and royal identity when we live as companions to all the creatures of Earth, when we stand up for justice, and to act in ways that heal our world.

At its core, in its essence, Creation Spirituality is a movement toward Oneness and Wholeness; towards Unity and Divinity.

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It teaches principles that dignify and equalizes the sexes, and provides research into how best to affirm an inclusive trans-denominational approach to world spirituality and to the needs to have a world ecology.

While the ideas and ideals of Creation Spirituality reach back into the origins of our human sacred stories go far back, even before the Bible, the rediscovery of its truth is only 40 years old. Its new expression comes to us from the mind and heart of a progressive, once labeled a heretical Catholic radical, (now finding a tentative safe haven as an Episcopal priest), named Matthew Fox. He rediscovered these truths while doing research on the great Christian or Creation mystics. They were those dissenting men and inspiring women that kept this alternative way of looking at God, Nature, and life alive throughout the centuries; not bowing down to the coercion or control, or the patriarchal and dehumanizing teachings that have so effectively “de-souled” us…

Those de-humanizing ways of institutional power and moral control have condemned churchgoers to rehearsing only those reinforced feelings of failure, robbing us of health, happiness, creativity, justice and joy.

From those controversial Catholic beginnings, Fox and his followers quickly understood that using ecology to inform one’s faith drew all kinds of people, many world faiths and different spiritual expressions into

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into a larger and broader unity community- ways to share and affirm together!

This inclusive practices and interactive theology, can be divided into four interdependent, complementary ways that can be known, understood and embodied as part of every person’s search for truth and meaning.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with these four ways or paths, I will give you a quick synopsis of each path, and archetype. Then I will ask how each way or path can be personally understood in practical terms.

First, from Path One or the Via Positiva, the task is to emphasize our Original Blessings, the wonder and promise of life and majesty of the Creation. Fox suggests that we have to learn to find beauty- all around us. It focus is on how we see and experience, How we feel and understand the meaning and the magic found in everyday life.

Fox states that: “we have become afraid of our own divinity,” that we are the sons and daughters of God.

With this divinity comes the identity of each of us as a royal and wonder-filled human being; a marvelous new way of perceiving who and what we are… yet, with this grand truth, there is also ongoing responsibility.

One of the principal reasons the old, fearful forms of religion endure is that it is easier for us to accept being passive, being afraid, being childish…

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In fact, some people find it easier to stay fearful or even guilty, than it is to accept our adult and ongoing responsibility as co-creaters of our world.

Here, in the first of the four paths, the one that is most ignored by church teachings is called The Via Positiva. Here we are taught that we need “to taste and see that life is good.” Because of this, each of us has to uphold beauty, truth, and those virtues of a sustaining strength and a firm resolve that brings to all men and all women into their innate abilities to celebrate all the ideals they truly believe in or that they sincerely trust. This is the path of the mystic.

The Mystic’s main task in life is affirmation, and closely connected to it, is to maintain the outlook of gratitude. (approx. Thanksgiving to Epiphany)

So, now I will ask each of you: What can you affirm in your life? What makes you thankful? How does your community connections promote affirmation and your sense of gratitude?

Path Two is called The Via Negativa, or the emptying way. Here is where the spiritual warrior battles for their mental, emotional, and spiritual clarity; He or she accepts their own need to let go- to empty oneself of false beliefs, negative feelings, social roles.

 

 

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In the Via Negativa, we have to face up to our inner pain, our hurts, and whatever we feel that we lack in ourselves, or what we have failed to accomplish in our lives. Here, the path urges the spiritual warrior in each of us to develop fortitude, bravery, persistence, and the courage to go beyond the familiar, and to welcome the unknown; THEN, to expect the good, and to be open to grace, despite life’s wounds.

Fox says this: “[we have to learn to let go- Letting go of comforts, security, of past images of oneself, or all that we have reinforced or rehearsed about past ways of relationships- all those ways that keep us stuck or dissatisfied with our lives… Here the task is to learn what serves our growth and goodness, and practice only what will not harm or will not rob anyone else of dignity and respect.]”

This is the path of the prophet.(January to Lent)

The main task of the prophet is to interfere with the status quo in ways that promote equality and justice, and build a strong, resilient courageous self.

I ask: In what ways are you willing to interfere with the status quo? When is it that you stand up for others? What does your congregation interfere with regularly?

 

 

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The Third Path or way is called The Via Creativa or the way of creativity and resourcefulness. Here is where we learn about giving birth to newness and hope, and how to experience a rebirth of who and what we are or can become. You know, it takes a lot of faith, and a sincere degree of flexibility to be creative; to bring compassion into being that fosters a new way of looking at the world, of defining and refining yourself.

As Fox puts it, “in Path Three, we stand up and offer our gifts to the community. Creativity arises from a depth of awareness that states that…

IF we do not give back our unique gifts, talents, and skills, and IF we do not give expression to life’s mysteries or give witness to life’s truth, THEN no one will stand up, or no one will care or give or do it for us.” If we do not give back, whatever gifts or talents, we have will atrophy or go stale… This is the path of the artist. (Approx. Easter to August)

I ask: How do you express your creativity? How do you share your gifts? How does this church or community give of itself to the larger community?

The last way or Fourth Path is called The Via Transformativa, the transformative way. But as Fox emphasizes, “transformation does not come easily.

 

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We are acutely aware of politcs and economics in our world. That powerful people and entrenched institutions do not relinquish control and privilege cheerfully or willingly. Paradigm shifts in religion, politics or economics are often resisted vigorously. Through empathy, we learn to celebrate the common human struggle, and we can find the strength, the willingness to stand up for justice, equality, freedom, and truth as belonging to everyone…

Path Four shows us the right way of being together in community, as how best to live on and for the Earth. This is the path of the Healer. (Approx. August to Thanksgiving)

I ask: How do you find healing for yourselves? How do you offer it to others? How do you work together as a group to offer or provide healing?

The best teachings given on creation and mysticism today ironically, are being given by scientists. … Scientists, not monks, and certainly not most typical theologians! Today, mystics are coming out of their religious closets all over the world, and are trying to find a home in every community, church, or meeting house. They are not finding room or an easy welcome!

They are artists and engineers, parents, householders, lawyers, health care workers, and yes, you might even find a priest or a minister or two who really wants our society to change!

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Carl Jung said that the mystic brings out what is creative to religion… But you will never get a full definition of mysticism or spirituality. Why? Because definitions are all left brain, and living creatively and celebrating the mysteries of life is right brain- we are never going to define or control it!

(Emerson- We dare not fence the Spirit!)

Today, we need as much heart knowledge as we have head knowledge. We need experience awe, wonder, fascination, and inspiration, and teach these mysteries to our children so they will really know what life is about…

For me, and for the others who have embraced CS as their theological guide, It is simply about how we humans can grow our souls to realize more of the beauty of the earth, and how best to cooperate with our humanity, our creativity, our divinity, and experience the holiness of universe itself.

I recommend Creation Spirituality to you… as an inspiring way to understanding, and as an excellent complement to the ideals and principles of Unity… Truly a marriage made in heaven… or if you prefer, two inspiring ways that will lead you to your freedom, dignity, and self worth… So that you can confidently and courageously claim your own wholeness and holiness every day of your lives!

AMEN. SO BE IT!

 

Don’t Sleep Through The Revolution! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

January 9, 2015 - 9:44 am Comments Off on Don’t Sleep Through The Revolution! Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Note: This is a reprint of the invitation to give The Ware Lecture to the UUA General Assembly in 1966… the excerpts and emphasis are mine, as the text is much longer and the emphasis points are, for me, particularly cogent and inspiring…

In many ways, this address can act as a synopsis of his most foundational ideas, quotes, and teaching for us… Given that the superb film, Selma, is being released today nationwide, it acts as a strong and clear reminder of the man, his words, and his cherished ideals…

Don’t Sleep Through The Revolution!

Excerpts from The Ware Lecture by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1966…

There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution. And there can be no gainsaying of the fact that a social revolution is taking place in our world today. We see it in other nations in the demise of colonialism. We see it in our own nation, in the struggle against racial segregation and discrimination, and as we notice this struggle we are aware of the fact that a social revolution is taking place in our midst. Victor Hugo once said that there is nothing more powerful in all the world than an idea whose time has come. The idea whose time has come today is the idea of freedom and human dignity, and so allover the world we see something of freedom explosion, and this reveals to us that we are in the midst of revolutionary times. An older order is passing away and a new order is coming into being.

The great question is, what do we do when we find ourselves in such a period? Certainly the church has a great responsibility because when the church is true to its nature, it stands as a moral guardian of the community and of society. It has always been the role of the church to broaden horizons, to challenge the status quo, and to question and break mores if necessary. I’m sure that we all agree that the church has a major role to play in this period of social change. I would like to suggest some of the things that the church must continually do in order to remain awake through this revolution.

First, we are challenged to instill within the people of our congregations a world perspective. The world in which we live is geographically one.

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All I’m saying is this: that all life is inter-related, and somehow we are all tied together. For some strange reason I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the inter-related structure of all reality. John Donne caught it years ago and placed it in graphic terms, “No man is an island entire of itself, every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.” He goes on to say, “any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, therefore send not to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” This realization is absolutely necessary if we are to remain awake in this revolution.

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Secondly, it is necessary for the church to reaffirm over and over again the essential immorality of racial segregation. Any church which affirms the morality of segregation is sleeping through the revolution. We must make it clear that segregation, whether it’s in the public schools, in housing, or in recreational facilities, or in the church itself, is morally wrong and sinful. It is not only sociologically untenable, or politically unsound, or merely economically unwise, it is morally wrong and sinful.

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There is another thing that the church must do to remain awake. I thing it is necessary to refute the idea that there are superior and inferior races. We must get rid of the notion once and for all that there are superior and inferior races. It is out of this notion that the whole doctrine of white supremacy came into being, and the church must take a stand through religious education and other channels to direct the popular mind at this point, for there are some people who still believe this strange doctrine.

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It’s a strange notion that has made for a great deal of strife and suffering. Both the academic world and the disciplines of science have refuted this idea. Anthropologists like Ruth Benedict, Margaret Meade, and Herskovits, after long years of study, have made it clear that they find no evidence for the idea of superior and inferior races. There may be superior and inferior individuals in every race, but no superior or inferior races.

In spite of this, the notion still lingers around. Now, there was a time that people tried to justify it on the basis of the Bible. Strange indeed how individuals will often use, or should I say misuse, the Bible to crystallize the patterns of the status quo and justify their prejudices.

So from some pulpits it was argued that the Negro was inferior by nature because of Noah’s curse upon the children of Ham. The apostle’s dictum often became a watchword: servants, be obedient to your master. One brother had probably read the logic of the great philosopher Aristotle. You know Aristotle did a great deal to bring into being what we know now in philosophy as formal logic; and formal logic has a big word known as a syllogism, which has a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion. So this brother decided to put his argument of the inferiority of the Negro in the framework of an Aristotlian syllogism. He came out with his major premise, “All men are made in the image of God”; then came his minor premise, “God, as everybody knows, is not a Negro; therefore, the Negro is not a man.” This was the kind of reasoning that prevailed. Now, on the whole, I guess we have gotten away from this; most people don’t use the Bible and religion to justify segregation, although there are a few left. I was reading the other day where one of our white brothers in Mississippi said that God was a charter member of the White Citizens’ Council.

Today’s arguments are generally placed on more subtle cultural grounds, for instance: “the Negro is not culturally ready for integration. If you integrate the schools and other areas of life, this will pull the race back a generation.” And another: “The Negro is a criminal; you see he has the highest crime rate in any city.” So the arguments go on ad infinitum.

Those who use these arguments never say that if there are lagging standards in the Negro community – and there certainly are – they lag because of segregation and discrimination. They never go on to say that criminal responses are environmental, and not racial. Poverty, ignorance, economic deprivation, social isolation breed crime in any racial group. It is a tortuous logic to use the tragic results of segregation as an argument for the continuation of it. It is necessary to go to the causal root to deal with the problem.

So it is necessary for the church, through all of its channels of education and through all of its work, to guide the popular mind, and rid the community of the notion of superior and inferior races. We’ve all seen enough to refute this idea.

We’ve seen Negroes who have given inspiring examples of ability to rise above the shackles of a difficult environment. They have justified the conviction of the poet that “fleecy locks and black complexion cannot forfeit nature’s claim.” Skin may differ, but affection dwells in black and white the same. If I were so tall as to reach the pole or to grasp the ocean at a span, I must still be measured by my soul; the mind is the standard of the man.

The next thing that the church must do to remain awake through this revolution is to move out into the arena of social action. It is not enough for the church to work in the ideological realm, and to clear up misguided ideas. To remain awake through this social revolution, the church must engage in strong action programs to get rid of the last vestiges of segregation and discrimination. It is necessary to get rid of one or two myths if we’re really going to engage in this kind of action program.

One is the notion that legislation is not effective in bringing about the changes that we need in human relations. This argument says that you’ve got to change the heart in order to solve the problem; that you can’t change the heart through legislation. They would say you’ve got to do that through religion and education. Well, there’s some truth in this. Before we can solve these problems men and women must rise to the majestic heights of being obedient to the unenforceable. I would be the first to say this. If we are to have a truly integrated society, white persons and Negro persons and members of all groups must live together, not merely because the law says it but because it’s natural and because it’s right.

But that does not make legislation less important. It may be true that you can’t legislate integration but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality cannot be legislated, but behavior can be regulated. It may be true that the law cannot change the heart, but it can restrain the heartless. The law cannot make a man love me, but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also. And so while the law may not change the hearts of men, it does change the habits of men. So it is necessary for the church to support strong, meaningful civil rights legislation.

Fortunately we have seen some real advances at this point. It is very consoling to me, and I know to all of us, the role which all of the major denominations within the Protestant, the Catholic and the Jewish faiths played in the achievement of the civil rights bill of 1964, the voting rights bill of 1965. We struggled in Selma, Alabama, and in a real sense we developed right there in that little town something that the councils of the world have not been able to develop – a real ecumenical movement. Protestants, Catholics and Jews stood in Selma, and in a beautiful and meaningful way that was the ecumenical movement which created the voting rights bill.

That bill is a tribute to persons like James Reeb, Mrs. Viola Liuzzo and Jimmy Lee Jackson, those who died and suffered to make it possible. Now the President is calling for new civil rights legislation to deal with two old problems.

One is the mal-administration of justice in many sections of the South. It is necessary for all people of goodwill and for all church bodies to strongly support this bill, which will make murder or threatened assaults of civil rights workers or persons engaged in the promotion of constitutional rights a federal crime.

….

But there is a more difficult title in that bill, one that must ultimately be passed if America is to rise to its full maturity. That is the section of the bill which calls for an end to discrimination in housing. It means that discrimination in all housing will be federally non-sanctioned. It involves the sale, the rental, and the financing of all housing. This is the difficult one because there still are many fears around. There are stereotypes about Negroes, Puerto Ricans, Mexican Americans and others.

Studies reveal that there are numerous forces both private and public which make for the problem, because they are profiting by the existence of segregation in housing. I am convinced that if we are to have a truly integrated society we must deal with the housing problem.

The school problem is difficult and it will never be totally solved until we solve the housing problem, and so it is my hope that we will go all out over America to bring this new legislation into being and to insist that it will be vigorously enforced, once it is passed, for there is still a gulf between legislation on the one hand and the enforcement of that legislation on the other. We see this in the South every day.

In 1954 the Supreme Court of Our nation rendered a decision declaring segregation unconstitutional in the public schools. Yet, twelve years later, only 5.2 per of the Negro students of the South are attending integrated Schools. We haven’t even made one per cent progress a year. If we continue this pace it will take about 96 more years to integrate the schools in the South. There is still a gulf between legislative and judicial decrees and the actual enforcement of them. It seems to me that an alive, relevent church should go all out to see that legislation becomes a reality and that it is vigorously enforced once it exists.

A second myth that we must deal with is that of exaggerated progress. Certainly we have made progress in race relations. And I think we can all glory that things are better today than they were ten years ago or even three years ago. We should be proud of the steps we’ve made to rid our nation of this great evil of racial segregation and discrimination.

On the other hand, we must realize the plant of freedom is only a bud and not yet a flower. The Negro is freer in 1966, but he is not yet free. The Negro knows more dignity today than he has known in any period of his history in this country, but he is not yet equal. There still are stubborn, difficult problems to deal with all over the country. I’m appalled that some people feel that the civil rights struggle is over because we have a 1964 civil rights bill with ten titles and a voting rights bill. Over and over again people ask, what else do you want? They feel that everything is all right.

Well, let them look around our big cities. I can mention one where we’re working now, not to say that it’s the worst city in the United States, but just to reveal the problem that we face.

( a descriptive summary of the current crisis in Chicago in 1966…)

Again, this is true in cities all over the country. These are stubborn, difficult problems, and yet they are problems that must be tackled, for I need not remind you of the dangers inherent therein. There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of individuals within that society who feel that they have no stake in it, who feel that they have nothing to lose. These are the people who will riot, these are the people who will turn their ears from pleas for non-violence. For the health of our nation, these problems must be solved. In the areas of housing, schooling, and employment there is still a great deal that must be done.

We’ve come a long, long way; we still have a long, long way to go and action programs are necessary. I’ve heard it said that the day of demonstrations is over; this is something that we hear a great deal. Well, I’m sorry that I can’t agree with that. I wish that I could say the day of demonstrations is over, but as long as these problems are with us, it will be necessary to demonstrate in order to call attention to them. I’m not saying that a demonstration is going to solve the problem of poverty, the problem of housing, the problems that we face in the schools.

It’s going to take something much more than a demonstration, but at least the demonstration calls attention to it; at least the demonstration creates a kind of constructive crisis that causes a community to see the problem and causes a community to begin moving toward the point of acting on it. The church must support this kind of demonstration. As the days unfold, I’m sure that we will need this more.

People talk about the long hot summer that’s ahead. I always say that I don’t think we have to have a long, hot violent summer. I certainly don’t want to see it because I hate violence and I don’t think it solves any problems. I think we can offset the long, hot, violent summer with the long, hot, non-violent summer. People are huddled in ghettos, living in the most crowded and depressing conditions. They need some outlet; some way to express their legitimate discontent. What is a better way than to provide non-violent channels through which they can do it? If this isn’t provided they are going to find it through more irrational, misguided means.

So the non-violent movement has a job to do, in providing the non-violent channels through which those who are caught in these conditions can express their discontent and frustration.

Now let me say that I’m still convinced that non-violence is the most potent weapon available to oppressed people in their struggle for freedom and human dignity. And I’d like to say just a word about this philosophy since it has been the underlying philosophy of our movement. It has power because it has a way of disarming the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses, it weakens his morale.

And at the same time it works on his heart and on his conscience, and he just doesn’t know what to do. If he doesn’t hit you, wonderful. If he hits you you develop the quiet courage of accepting blows without retaliating. If he doesn’t put you in jail, that’s very nice, nobody with any sense loves to go to jail. But if he puts you in jail you go in that jail and transform it from a dungeon of shame into a haven of freedom and human dignity.

Even if he tries to kill you, you develop the inner conviction that there are some things so precious, some things so eternally true that they are worth dying for. If a man has not discovered some thing that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live. There’s another good thing about non-violence: through it a person can use moral means to procure moral ends. There are still those who sincerely believe that the end justifies the means, no matter what the means happen to be. No matter how violent or how deceptive or anything else they are. Non-violence at its best would break with the system that argues that. Non-violence would say that the morality of the ends is implicit in the means, and that in the long-run of history destructive means cannot bring about constructive ends. So since we are working toward a just society in this movement, we should use just methods to get there. Since we are working for the end of a non-violent society in this movement, we must use non-violent means and methods to get there. Since we are working for an integrated society as an end we must work on an integrated basis on our staffs and civil rights organizations so that we don’t get to racial justice and integration through the means of black nationalism.

Another thing about this philosophy which is often misunderstood and that it says that at its best the love ethic can be a reality in a social revolution. Most revolutions in the past have been based on hope and hate, with the rising expectations of the revolutionaries implemented by hate for the perpetrators of the unjust system in the old order. I think the different thing about the revolution that has taken place in our country is that it has maintained the hope element and at the same time it has added the dimension of love. Many people would disagree with me and say that love hasn’t been there. I think we have to stop and talk about what we mean in this context because I would be the first to say that it is nonsense to urge oppressed people to love their violent oppressors in an affectionate sense. And I’m certainly not talking about that when I talk above love standing at the center of our struggle. I think it is necessary to see the meaning of love in higher terms.

The Greek language has three words for love – one is the eros, another is the word filio, and another is the word agape. I’m thinking not of eros, or of friendship as expressed in filio, but of agape, which is understanding, creative, redemptive good will for all men, an overflowing love which seeks nothing in return. When one rises to love on this level, he loves a person who does the evil deed while hating the deed. I believe that in our best moments in this struggle we have tried to adhere to this. In some strange way we have been able to stand up in the face of our most violent opponents and say, in substance, we will match your capacity to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with our soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you.

We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we will still love you. Threaten our children, bomb our homes, send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hours and drag us out on some wayside road and beat us and leave us half dead; and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you.

Send your propaganda agents around the nation and make it appear we are not fit morally, culturally or otherwise for integration and we will still love you. But be assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. And one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves, we will so appeal to your heart and your conscience that we will win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory. This is our message in the non-violent movement when we are true to it.

I think it is a powerful method and I still believe in it. I know that it will lead us into that new day. Not a day when we will seek to rise from a position of disadvantage to one of advantage, thereby subverting justice. Not a day when we will substitute one tyranny for another. We know that a doctrine of black supremacy is as evil as a doctrine of white supremacy. We know that God is not interested merely in the freedom of black men and brown men and yellow men; but God is interested in the freedom of the whole human race. He is interested in the creation of a society where all men will live together as brothers and every man will respect the dignity and worth of human personality. With the non-violent method guiding us on, we can go on into that brighter day when justice will come.

I talk a great deal about the need for a kind of divine discontent. And I always mention that there are certain technical words within every science which become stereotypes and cliches. Modern psychology has a word that has become common – it is the word maladjusted. We read a great deal about it. It is a ringing cry of modern child psychology; and certainly we all want to live the well adjusted and avoid neurotic and schizophrenic personalities.

But I must say to you this evening, my friends, there are some things in our nation and in our world to which I’m proud to be maladjusted. And I call upon you to be maladjusted and all people of good will to be maladjusted to these things until the good society is realized. I never intend to adjust myself to segregation and discrimination. I never intend to become adjusted to religious bigotry . I never intend to adjust myself to economic conditions that will take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few, and leave millions of people perishing on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of prosperity. I must honestly say, however much criticism it brings, that I never intend to adjust myself to the madness of militarism, and to the self-defeating effects of physical violence.It is no longer a choice between non-violence and violence: it is now a choice between non-violence and non-existence.

….

Yes, I must confess that I believe firmly that our world is in dire need of a new organization – the International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment. Men and women as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day, cried out in

words that echo across the centuries – “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.” As maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who had the vision to see that this nation could not survive half slave and half free. As maladjusted as Thomas Jefferson, who in the midst of an age amazingly adjusted to slavery, cried in words lifted to cosmic proportions – “We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. That They are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” As maladjusted as Jesus of Nazareth, who could say to the men and women of his day “he who lives by the sword will perish by the sword.” Through such maladjustment we will be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man’s inhumanity to man, into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

Let me say in conclusion that I have not despaired of the future. I believe firmly that we can solve this problem. I know that there are still difficult days ahead. And they are days of glorious opportunity. Our goal for America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s. Before the Pilgrim fathers landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before Jefferson etched across the pages of history the words that I just quoted from the Declaration of Independence, we were here. Before the beautiful words of the Star Spangled Banner were written, we were here. For more than two centuries our forbearers labored here without wages. They made cotton king. They built the homes of their masters in the midst of the most oppressive and humiliating conditions. And yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to grow and develop.

If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery couldn’t stop us, the opposition that we now face will surely fail. We’re going to win our freedom because both the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of the almighty God are embodied in our echoing demands.

And we can sing We Shall Overcome, because somehow we know the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. We shall overcome because Carlyle is right – “no lie can live forever.” We shall overcome because William Cullen Bryant is right – “truth crushed, will rise again.” We shall overcome because James Russell Lowell is right:

“Truth forever on the scaffold/Wrong forever on the throne/Yet that scaffold sways the future/ And behind the dim unknown/Standeth God within the shadow/Keeping watch above his own.”

With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. We will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood, and speed up that day when all of God’s children all over our nation and the world will be able to walk the earth as brothers and sisters, and then we can sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual – “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last.”

Thank you.

 

Reprint: Spiritual Narcissism/Spiritual Ecology Matthew Fox & Llewelyn Vaughn Lee

October 11, 2013 - 7:33 pm Comments Off on Reprint: Spiritual Narcissism/Spiritual Ecology Matthew Fox & Llewelyn Vaughn Lee

Matthew Fox & Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee:

Spiritual Narcissism / Spiritual Ecology

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Matthew Fox:Today we are discussing ecology and spirituality. Now who can deny that it doesn’t matter what your particular tradition is, or if you’re an atheist, if your backyard is burning up and you can’t plant food anymore, and the waters are rising? We’re all in trouble. And it can finally bring religions together and get over their narcissism.

Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee: I hope so. Mysticism, as you know, has always held this common thread underneath religion – the union of inner experience. Part of the reason I edited the book Spiritual Ecology was to try to bring that into the ecological debate because I felt that, although it was present, it wasn’t voiced enough.
MF: Absolutely. That’s what I’ve been trying to do with the archetype of the cosmic Christ — to awaken at least Christians that crucifixion is not something that happened 2,000 years ago, it’s happening with the killing of the rainforests and the whales and the polar bears and everything else today.

LV-L: It’s happening to the Earth.

MF: To me, that not only can energize spiritual warriors to get work done today, but it also can reinvent our faith traditions themselves, which I think fall into narcissism as distinct from mysticism.

LV-L: I have a concern that somehow people who have a spiritual awakening or awareness are somehow too focused on their own individual inner spiritual journey, and to me this is a travesty of real spiritual awakening or spiritual awareness, which has to do with the whole, and this whole includes the Earth.

MF: I couldn’t agree more. If your breakthrough does not lead to transpersonal service, to compassion, to justice, including eco-justice, then I doubt its authenticity. And Jesus said it very simply, that by their fruits you’ll know them. And we can be so taken by our spiritual experiences that we don’t realize this about energizing you to serve.

LV-L: In Sufism they actually say after the station of oneness comes the state of servant-hood, that one is then in service. Sufis are known as servants.
MF: Or as Jack Kornfield put it, after ecstasy comes the laundry.

LV-L: Somehow we have become so focused on our own human journey that we’ve forgotten that this human journey is part of the Earth’s journey. There used to be, I’m sure you’re aware of this, a deeper understanding that our soul is part of the world’s soul, the anima mundi, and we’ve lost that connection. We’ve lost that understanding that our spiritual light is part of the light of the world. And we have to regain that.

MF: Right. And how the Earth story itself is part of the cosmic story.

LV-L: It’s all one. It’s all one living, breathing, inter-related, interdependent spiritual organism as much as a physical organism, and I think we have, for some extraordinary reason, forgotten that.
MF: I think there are a lot of reasons, and one of them is the anthropocentrism and the narcissism of the modern consciousness. But I also think part of it too is the beating up of matter over the centuries by theologically influential thinkers. That kind of separation, that kind of dualism is so destructive because then you think the body is secondary, and then Mother Earth is secondary, and everything else. To put things in context, we wouldn’t have our imaginations and our breath and our food and our existence without matter. Matter is not an obstacle to spirit.

LV-L: I think the early rejection of all of the Earth-based spirituality by the Christian church has left a very sad vacuum that we’re now, in a way, seeing the result of.
MF: Paying the price for. And I think it goes back, actually, to the 4th century. If you’re going to run an empire – as the church more or less inherited the empire in the 4th century, it behooves you to split matter from spirit, and also to talk about original sin, and get people confused about their own inner nobility and empowerment, and divinity, really. I think that it has served political interests and cultural power trips to split people that way.

LV-L: Well, the male domination of nature kind of took the high ground, and now we have to, in a very few years, try to redress this balance and reclaim the sacred nature of creation. And what is central to me is to try to bring that into the ecological debate because I don’t see how we can address this physical devastation of creation, this ecocide, unless we look at its spiritual roots and reconnect ourselves to the sacred nature that is the world around us.
MF: And within us. And that’s what makes deep ecology different from ecology.

Lewellyn Vaughan-Lee: The mystics teach simple things, but those  simple things change people’s worlds. How can we re-energize that  mystical perspective so we can bring it into this global arena that is  calling out to us? I mean, the Earth is calling. That’s why I called  this book Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth because the Earth is crying, the soul of the Earth is crying. We need to respond from our own soul as well as with our hands.
Matthew Fox: And, of course, Einstein said it’s from intuition and feeling that we  get values, not from the intellect. He says the intellect gives us  methods; it does not give us values. And I think when you look back at  it, this is how various traditions of monastic learning also included  the heart in some way or other.

LV-L: When you say including the heart, I would suggest something even more  radical. How can we bring our love for the Earth into the center of this  concern with the well-being of the Earth? In fact, Thich Nhat Hanh  recently said real change will only happen when we fall in love with our  planet. As a mystic, I believe in the primacy of love, and we have  this love for the Earth. It is so generous. It has given us life. It has  given us breath. It has given us water. And we have treated it so badly  in response. I feel that this mystical center of divine love is really  the power behind the planet, because it is really what gives life to us  all. I mean, it’s a really radical thought to bring that essential  quality into the ecological debate. And although we have this  physical responsibility, how can we bring this love that belongs also to  our sense of the sacred? How can we learn once again to live in love  with the Earth in the way we live, in our daily activities so that  everything becomes imbued with this sense of the sacred? One can  educate the mind, but also we somehow have been stripped of the power of  love, which is, as a mystic, the greatest power in creation.
MF: In our traditions, certainly the Jewish tradition but also Aquinas, it  is said too that the mind resides in the heart. We don’t have to, how  should I say, pit one against the other. That real heart knowledge –  when you’re really in love with something, you want to learn more about  it.

LV-L: Also the heart and the mind in the heart see the oneness in things.  Sufis say when the eye of the heart is open—the Sufis talk about the eye  of the heart—then in each atom there are a million secrets. And we see  the unity in life, in everything that we are part of. We need to reclaim  that unity, that oneness, because life is dying and it’s dying because  we split spirit and matter, we separated ourselves from creation. The  analytic mind tries to split everything up into smaller and smaller  pieces. We need to return to this oneness, this awareness of the  interdependence of all of life, this web of life, which our ancestors  knew and revered so deeply. Somehow we have lost connection with  this spiritual dimension of creation, and to me that is the root of our  present ecological imbalance because we don’t respect or revere  creation as our ancestors and indigenous peoples have always done. And  somehow, as you say, the mystics have held this thread in the West, but  a thread is no longer enough. It needs to be a revolution, a revolution  of the heart, a revolution of consciousness that sees the oneness that  is within and all around us. I suppose the challenge is, how do we give  this back to humanity, this forgotten treasure, this secret, this deep  awareness of the real nature of creation, that it is not dead matter? I  always say the world is not a problem to be solved, it’s a living being  to be related to, and it is calling to us. It needs our attention, not  just of our minds, but also of our hearts. It is our own awakened  consciousness that can heal the Earth.

Matthew Fox: Another   dimension, I think, including when it comes to the love, is grief. We   don’t deal well with grief in our culture, and that’s one reason I  think  anger gets battered all over the walls. We don’t deal with anger  in a  constructive way very often. I do a lot of grief  ceremonies – we  need practices and rituals. When grief builds up, when  you can’t deal  with grief, not only does anger build up, but also the  joy and love get  clouded over, and people feel disempowered. So I think  grief work is a  part. What can I say? Who cannot be grieving  today about what’s  happening to the Earth? You’d have to be extremely  busy covering up your  grief and putting a lot of energy there.

Lewellyn Vaughan-Lee: I think we do. We’re a culture of mass distractions. We try to avoid at all costs seeing the real fruits of our actions. I   would say the most important practice is to listen. Thich Nhat Hanh   said to heal the Earth, listen to its cry because the Earth is crying,   but we don’t know how to listen. We’ve forgotten this feminine wisdom of  deep listening. If there is deep ecology, there is deep listening. We   have to relearn this feminine wisdom of listening to the Earth. It is  so  old, it is so wise, it has been through many crises before, and we  need  to cooperate. Thomas Berry said we are only talking to   ourselves; we are not talking to the rivers; we are not listening to the   winds and stars; we have broken the great conversation. By breaking  that conversation we have shattered the universe. And we have to learn  again how to listen to the Earth, and how to open that ear of the heart.   We have been told this great lie that we are separate from the Earth,   that it is something out there. It is not out there, we are part of the   Earth. We are made of stardust. We need to feel the grief  within  our own self for the Earth and learn to listen to the Earth,  learn to  hear it, learn to re-attune ourselves, just like the shamans  did of old,  just like the wise people who listened to the wind, who  listened to the  rivers, who felt the heartbeat of creation. And it  might not sound very  practical but it has a deep, deep wisdom within  it, and I think we need  all the help we can get at the moment.
MF: Absolutely. And that’s where the world’s spiritual traditions, if they   get out of their anthropocentric, reptilian brain dimension of wanting   to conquer each other and be number one or something gets shaken down,   and as you say, bring this feminine dimension back, the receptivity and   contemplation and silence.

LV-L: And not to rush for a quick fix, because I don’t think we can quickly   fix this environmental crisis. It has been building up for centuries.
MF: I do think that the patriarchal mindset feeds the reptilian brain excessively, whereas, I think the real way to treat the reptilian brain  is to learn to meditate and be still, because reptiles like to lie low  and in the sun… We have to make room for that mammal brain, which is  half as old as the reptilian brain in us, which is the brain of  compassion and the brain of kinship and family, and also of getting   along with the rest of nature.

LV-L: This is what Chief Oren Lyons said (in the book), when he spoke about  our original  instructions in the Native American tradition. He said one  of the  original instructions is we have to get along together. And  it’s very  simple, but once you realize we are one living community and  we can only  survive as one living community, it’s very fundamental.  It’s not  sophisticated, but we seem to have forgotten it, that we are  part of  this living, interdependent, interwoven organism that is all  around us  and that we are part of. I think we have a duty, any  of us who  have an awareness of this, to bring this into the forefront,  to claim  it; not to allow this dark side of our civilization to devour  all the  light. That’s why when you spoke about religious narcissism,  and I spoke  about my concern that spiritually awakened people are just  using their  own light for their own inner spiritual journey or their  own image of  spiritual progress, we have to make a relationship between  our light and  the world which is hungry for this light.

And there used  to be always  this relationship between the light of the individual  soul and the light  of the world’s soul, and somehow we need to  reconnect with this Earth  on a very deep, foundational, spiritual  basis. We are part of one  spiritual journey, one life journey, one  evolution, and our soul and the  soul of the world are not separate, and  we have to reclaim this  connection. And somehow, as you say,  human spirituality and  religion became narcissistic, and that was never  the intention because  Christ’s love was for the world; the Buddha’s  peace was for the world.  The message is always for the whole.
MF: I think today a lot of young people are being caught up in the vocation   of re-sacralizing the Earth, but doing it through everything from the way we eat and farm to the way we do business and politics.

LV-L: It’s   the attitude that we bring to it. It’s always the attitude. If we come   in the deepest sense, with an attitude of prayer or even just respect   and reverence for each other, for the Earth, for what is around us,  then  the healing can begin, and the forces of darkness will recede. But  we  will wait and see.
Matthew Fox was described by Thomas Berry as possibly the “most creative, comprehensive & challenging religious-spiritual teacher in America”.  Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee is a Sufi mystic & successor of Irina Tweedie who brought the Naqshbandiyya-Mujaddidiyya Indian Sufi Order to the West. This exchange of views was sponsored by Bioneers.  Publ. here 10.9.2013.

What Would Jesus Protest Today? Matthew Fox

July 27, 2013 - 12:35 pm 7 Comments

Being ignorant and in denial is a choice.” – Matthew Fox challenges his listeners to wake up in the second Christ Path Seminar.

In my last post, we looked at the men and women who are risking their lives to speak out for justice against the powers of our times. Their stories show us that it’s no less daring to walk the Christ Path today than it was 1,700 years ago.

So what are the issues that Jesus would speak out against today?

I can think of a number of them – and any one of them is worth our complete attention and commitment. And just to name them, I think, is important: to know that there are people and groups working in all of these areas today to be the prophetic activists and voices and strategists; to know there are so many dimensions at which the work of justice and compassion gets done.

You see, Jesus wasn’t just shouting his whole life; he was also an artist. He was a parable maker, creating memorable stories. And he and his followers were creating meals, bringing people together who wouldn’t ordinarily get together.

That was a deep part of his strategy: it’s not all about shouting. Art has a deep role to play always, in speaking the truth and unmasking violence, especially when it tries to cover itself up.

But let’s consider some areas where the prophetic voice is being called out today….

Of course, our broken economic system is one. Who can deny that Wall Street has raped Main Street in our lifetimes? And now Wall Street is doing very well and Main Street for the most part is still limping along terribly.

So are we capable, as a species, of creating an economy that works for everyone in the world? Not for Wall Street, not for the 1% or a few, but for everyone?

I believe the answer is Yes! Insightful, eloquent people are devoting their lives to this kind of work – for example, David Korten – and they are being ignored. I don’t know if the current administration in Washington has ever invited David Korten to advise them on creating a new economic vision, rather than putting Band-Aids on Wall Street’s system of exploitation that’s ruining the middle class.

Now, when I talk about an economy that works for everyone, I don’t mean just the two-legged ones. I’m talking about an economy that recognizes the value of healthy, living ecosystems…an economy that will work for the forests and the oceans and the soil and the plants and the animals that are going extinct at rates that we have not seen since the dinosaurs and so many other species vanished 65 million years ago.

So I think Jesus would also be revolutionary about the whole issue of ecology. He’d be interfering in it, in whatever way he could.

And of course there are the issues of poverty and joblessness. Who’s defining work for us? Look at the work of the artist, for example – we don’t count artists when we count workers. You can see that whenever there’s a budget crunch in our high schools – as there is everywhere today – and out goes the theater department, out goes the music department, out goes the art department. You’re on your own. I know all kinds of artists who would be more than happy to be contributing, but they are not part of the conversation.

And this leads to the issue of education. When our politicians talk about education, they always talk about more technology and more science. Well, what about art? Art is where values get passed on. Einstein said values do not come from the intellect – they come from intuition and feeling. And if that’s not the work of the artist, I don’t know what is.

To the extent that we are cutting back on art as an integral part of our way of living on the earth, we are in fact cutting back on values. And I see it everywhere today, especially in education. E.F. Schumacher wrote, “The bottom line in education is values.” Education is about passing on values. And well, folks, I know our educational system pretty well. I’ve been working within it for 40 years as an adult, and values are never raised at the accrediting conferences I’ve attended. Education today is not about values. It’s about anal-retentive bean counting. You don’t dare bring values up. The whole thing is rotten, I think, rotten to the core.

The best answer is to reinvent the whole damn thing…which is what I’ve been trying to do for 30 years! Of course we need science and technology, but we also need beauty and values and meaning and feeling, and what counts, and what doesn’t count. You need intuition and critical thinking skills, both! And so we bring in art as an integral part of the work of the intellect.

Jesus, as an artist, would interfere here, I’m sure.

And then look at our political systems, which are collapsing all around us. We’ve had this democracy thing going on for a couple hundred years, and it had a lot going for it, but it’s clearly not enough today. As Thomas Berry says, “The non-two-legged ones don’t have a vote at the United Nations.” The forests aren’t represented, the whales aren’t represented… the future of the earth as a whole and living planet isn’t represented in our anthropocentric versions of democracy and politics.

And of course there’s what happened just this month with the gutting of the Voting Rights Bill – when you add that to the so-called Citizens United nemesis of a few years ago, it seems to me that our one-time democracy is just rushing down a path to oligarchy, the rule of a small, rich and powerful clique that will be very well paid by supporting an even smaller clique. It seems our politics is racing to that end, and I can’t imagine how we should not be up and doing something about this.

Look at what’s happened in Houston, one of the biggest cities in America – Rachel Maddow broke the story that one white area had 6700 voters and one voting booth, and a black area has 67,000 voters and one voting booth – that’s 10 times more voters, and this was before this latest decision by the Supreme Court! You don’t have to be black to be upset about this. You have to be a human being, someone who wants to believe in democracy, to be not only upset but outraged.

That’s where the prophet begins – with that kicked-in-the-gut feeling of outrage. And I repeat, outrage! – That is so unjust!

Being ignorant and in denial is a choice. Thomas Aquinas says that to be ignorant about what we ought to know is a deadly sin – a mortal sin. In the Hindu tradition, this is what sin is – it’s about ignorance, ignoring, choosing to ignore.

Of course there’s the issue of how women and girls are still being treated around the world. They’re second-class citizens in so many places – obviously this is not sustainable, it is outrageous. Of course in our country women have been waking up and organizing for decades, but still we’re not there, even in our country. And of course it’s getting worse in other countries where there is so much sexual slavery and repression of women and girls.

But the problem isn’t limited to the abuse of individual women. It’s about consciousness too, about the whole patriarchal idea that a certain gender or a certain group of any type has the right to lord it over others and to define God in its image exclusively, for example, God as a male. It’s not only a pernicious and subtle way of telling women they’re inferior, but also of preventing a larger balance.

For example, patriarchy has been defining education for 400 years in the West. And while our educational system offers knowledge, it’s missing Wisdom – the feminine. It simply doesn’t register. That’s why politicians and educators don’t see that wisdom and art are just as important as technology and mathematics.

So there’s no shortage of issues to light the fire in all of us, the kind of fire that lit Jesus’ teaching.

So now you may ask – how did he use this fire for justice and change in his time – and how can we, in ours? Stay tuned; I’ll be exploring these questions in my next posts.

The Day We All Became Contemplatives: A Theological Reflection on the Meaning of 9/11/01: Fifteen years … and Counting?

September 2, 2011 - 8:57 pm 105 Comments

Because of what has happened fifteen  years ago, we now realize that anything can happen. And yet… it still feels very unresolved and without a clear societal direction. Some of us still cling to old notions of safety and security, others are uncertain and yet willing to explore,and there are others among us who are seeking soulful solutions that can move us beyond sentiment or militancy, beyond political rhetoric, and on to how one’s faith in action can be a soulful response…

All across our nation, we will gather to remember- to offer each other a continuing sense of solace and reassurance, and yet, we now know, maybe more than ever before, that all the accustomed ,comfortable, taken for granted ways rest uneasy. We are uncertain in our own skins, and each of us can feel that our life and the lives of all those whom we love have become both more precious and more precarious.

We have come to realize that we are no longer comfortably insulated by wealth or safely isolated by oceans; we are no longer inviolate, protected by armies and supported by commerce- that our lifestyle, and the attitudes that have supported it, has now become the object of scorn and hate. As a result, it made more of us ask vital questions about how we live and what our values truly are.

Maybe, for the first time in our lives, we can understand the anxiety and dread that the average Palestinian or Jew or now a Syrian has lived with daily, and how they have lived for decades. As empathy is a great teacher, out of our suffering, an honest empathy can be born- one that asks us to commit to a higher way of humanity, a way of peace stronger and more resilient than any missiles and tanks could ever provide.

Many of us can easily recall a national tragedy, for it is easy to mourn the loss of 3000 lives, and to remember heroism, courage, bravery, and resolve. While all these noble ideals are noteworthy and important, under the lens of time,  I feel we have to ask of ourselves about the extent of our personal awareness and to assess our national priorities in the light of compassionate ethics. These are heartfelt inquiries that ask us to look at the last ten years and ask ourselves how we have changed as a culture, and as individuals, because of the 9/11 experience.

However, I will not try to present a political diatribe, nor argue for some kind of necessary repentance on our national behalf. Neither will I will not try to justify our military actions in Afghanistan, or Iraq,etc.,  nor will I call to task our sense of domestic entitlement and our socioeconomic greed. These concerns are all too well documented, and are all too tragically well known.

Assessing or assigning blame serves no good ends, and even though we, as a nation, and as individuals have to accept a certain level of responsibility for our economic intrigues and political collisions, what I will reach for tonight is to try to answer what I see as the aching need within our humanity- our soul sickness- that ours is a need is to seek clarity and compassion, to achieve an empathy with worldwide suffering, and to admit to the many kinds of inner terrorism we all can face during our lives.

What this tragedy brings into focus for me is the fact of universal human terror we all have to live with or we all need to learn how best to release. This terror that I speak of tonight is not exclusively enacted by a few extreme Islamic militants. The true terror comes into our lives from how we have accepted toxic and terrorizing behavioral standards and how we have expected a lack of genuine ethics as being somehow normal!  Daily, or so it seems, we passive absorb news headlines telling us of inhuman treatment, profound selfishness, prejudice,  and other indignities and injustices… and then find ourselves saying that its to be expected!

We have to accept and we have to admit that for all the worldly sophistication, and advanced levels of education that our society has to offer, our human and heart centered needs have come up short: What the great spiritual traditions of humanity call us to do is to return to those universal values that support kindness and compassion. We, in our so called modern society, need to learn how to live with more faith, more hope, more love.

As a culture, we have been taught to seize control, to be self important, and to define our happiness and joy as being centered on materialistic goals. So we learn strategies, we learn to put on false faces, and then arrogantly go out to master the world … as if life, as if our very souls, are defined by such counterfeit success.

We try to give each other quick solace or some easy steps of reassurance with sound bytes of advice; we tell each other to just “get over it,” and other such glib ways that do not address the depth of ordinary pain and daily suffering that has been neatly concealed, packaged, and bottled up within us.

As Martin Luther King once put it, “[our chief concern is for social acceptance- that we readily choose convenience over conscience, as if ethics are defined by what most people will accept, and that morality is defined by the Gallop Polls.]”

Robert Kennedy then adds this insight on the nature of courage and change:

“[Few are willing to brave the disapproval of their [peers] the censure of their colleagues, the wrath of their society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.

Yet it is the one essential, vital quality for those who seek to change a world that yields most painfully to change. Each time a person stands up for an idea, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, (s)he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, … And those ripples can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.]”

As I see it, there is far too much cruelty, egotism, addiction, and corruption in our world to believe that we are immune to various kinds of  interpersonal terrorism. And yet because, we do not want to judge others, or even hesitate to hold ourselves accountable, we permit these terrors to reign over us…

Terrors that are frankly worse than bombs or planes that can snuff out life, because we permit these terrors to insult our humanity and our dignity on a daily basis. There seems to be a resistance to accepting a more heartfelt responsibility for how we cooperate or conspire to shape and to determine our values and how those values will operate effectively in our world.

We appear to be afraid, because we do not realize the power and the grace we hold within us, and among us, if we were willing to respond bravely from our hearts, so that our actions can deeply affirm, understand and console all our sisters and brothers, be they in the Middle East or in this room… For you see, I believe that each of us has known some form of terror- each of us knows what it is like when we cannot sleep at night- fearing what might await us or possibly awaiting our children during the next day.

In our culture, and played out through our common humanity, we live alongside a daily litany of terrors; whether it is a life threatening illness, the fracturing effects of divorce, the loss of income, the feelings of uselessness, and various degrees of loneliness, rejection, insult, disappointments we have to endure, cope with, reconcile, and eventually seek to overcome… Yet, we also can know and affirm that when we listen to our hearts, when we reach inside for some answers, we can tap and then release the power which forms a new level of consciousness; a shared synergy can make our world more safe and more secure.

When asked how humanity will resolve the problems of war, and inhumanity, Albert Einstein remarked, “[There will be a need to raise human consciousness, for no problem in the history of humankind has ever been solved by the same level of consciousness that created it!”] Because of this, I can say that we are all in need of change; we are all in need of more faith, more hope, more love for ourselves and for our world.

The main terrors that afflict us, from which all other fearful terrors can come, can be seen broadly as Skepticism, Cynicism, and Nihilism. Each is a soul robbing attitude, a quality of pessimism, and each of these toxic outlooks is empty of any genuine heartfelt feelings, wisdom, or compassion; More importantly, I believe and affirm that each of these negative outlooks will yield to a higher consciousness based in those abiding virtues that are found in all the great spiritual and ethical traditions- faith, hope, and love.

First, skepticism, and by skepticism, I do not mean our need to keep an open mind, or to accept having doubts, or be willing to challenge the assumptions and conclusions of others. When I refer to skepticism, it is the chronic belief that there is nothing worthy or reliable enough to believe in- that nothing and no one is faithful, trustworthy, sincere enough and that the world is a cruel and selfish place.

We meet the challenge of looking at our world in this way by understanding that faith is both an action and an attitude.

Faith is a present tense action verb- one that accompanies all that we do, and that supports our confidence and that underlies any sense of trust.  Faith is not some stagnant acceptance of a creed, or particular religious outlook. Instead, faith requires courage from us;  the courage to be able to live in the questions that surround our current situation, or that currently plague our hearts. Faith, as a verb, encourages us to meet these outlooks with confidence- to be active in learning how to live creatively and not give in to any frozen  insecurities or crippling fears.

The opposite of having faith is believing that you have to be in control. The absence of faith is one of the psychological rationales for why we seek to have power over others. In contrast, a real or genuine faith contains an equality of relationship; it is full sharing of authority and trust, for it is too restless to be lived without the inner authenticity that gives us an abiding sense of confidence… Faith frames our understanding of our own motives and decisions, and how well we sincerely choose to believe in ourselves and trust in the good that can be found in others.

Remember, at its core, pessimism is an personal injustice; it is a sin against ourselves. Nobody or no condition was ever made better by encouraging despair. Faith is necessary for healing such pessimism and restoring a sense of trust to ourselves and to how we act in our world.

The next terror of large proportions that we find among us is Cynicism. Cynicism is an attitude or outlook that states that nothing is good, fair or just, our culture is “on the take,” and that everyone has an ulterior motives. Cynicism promotes having a selfish or self serving design on others in their lives. When cynicism dominates in our thought or our relationships, the healing effect of being with connected to one another lessens, we wind up feeling drained, emptied by our caring, so that an unkind individual or narcissistic concern takes its place. Oncologist and family physician, Rachel Naomi Remen puts it this way: “we often shirk from creating a set of values that are truly life affirming. We forget that we need to live a life of integrity, to live closer to the truth of what and who you are… We can lose or gain ourselves by our choices”

The remedy for cynicism is hope; hope that instills genuine feelings of promise and possibility- that we are capable of living clearly- of living up to the ideals and behaviors we wish to see in others, or as Mohatma Gandhi put it, when responding to the challenge of hypocrisy: “We have to become the change we wish to see in others.” Having a sustaining sense of hope defeats our feelings of powerlessness. When we place hope in our hearts, we loosen the grip of fear and lessen the burdens of belief that say we are to only believe our limited life experiences, and that there is only a limited amount we will ever know, or ever be able to change about ourselves or our world.

Hope, as we know it from our Western Scriptures, gives us resilience and deepens our resolve. It builds character from suffering, and its insights do not disappoint us. (Romans 5) Hope is holding on to a positive perception; it is being open to inspiration and receptive to our highest aspirations. Hope believes; it helps us to muster a willingness to work for a new or renewed vision of ourselves, and gives us  a foundation for new, positive possibilities of personal change and social transformation. When we hold on to hope, we can capture or recover the feelings that can make life whole, healthy and worthwhile.

The last, and maybe the most difficult terror to overcome is Nihilism. Nihilism is that nagging sense of the nothingness of life- that it has or holds no meaning, no purpose. That life is chaotic and cold- and our souls are chilled at the thought of feeling useless, cut off, out of touch;  To be without a sense of being valuable to ourselves or anyone else.

I feel that when we are the most nihilistic, when we are looking straight into the Abyss; when we are facing our ultimate moments of life or death… There… There in the depth of our aloneness and despair we are given a choice of connection or annihilation. When we desperately dare to reach out, and by some holy grace, some divine synchronicity, there will be a hand and a heart,  who will hold you…

I feel that our modern spiritual crisis deals less with the nature of God, than it does with our human capacity and our personal willingness to form meaningful relationships. How we access or embrace God, is also how we embrace our deep Self, and it influences how well we will accept and embrace one another. ….

As one former colleague  Arnold Westwood, put it, “[our religion is found in our relationships. We are defined by the quality, the sincerity and the depth of our relationships, and through them we come to know and experience the good, we come to know God”]

So, most poignantly, most completely, to end our feelings of nihilism, we live in the need of more love…. And what could be said of its truth and power? As we have all read, ” Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Love, as I know it, is the only truly transformative power that is; Love cancels fear, and overcomes hate; it is the guiding and sustaining principle behind all blessing, all grace. When love is present, then all the possibilities of growth, change, healing, and reconciliation are open to you…. And are open to our world.

I will close my remarks tonight with the words of James Baldwin, author, activist, who makes this observation- He said: “The inability to love is the central problem, because that inability masks a certain terror- the terror of being touched. And if you can’t be touched, you can’t be changed. And if you cannot be changed, you can’t be alive.”

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This evening, I ask that when you leave, that you hold your hearts open to this touch, this ability to change, and personally embrace the renewed promise of having more faith, hope, and love in your lives. I ask you to claim these gifts, and then go out and become an embodied blessing in this world of hurt, and to offer comfort, healing, and peace to one another.           AMEN … SO BE IT WITH YOU ALL !

Post Note; I have resources and readings from this service and on expanded themes… Please see them posted on this website…

For September 11th: Readings and Resources Part I

August 21, 2011 - 2:42 pm 103 Comments

Selected Readings:

How Listening Is the First Step Towards Peace

“[Without understanding, compassion is impossible. When you understand the suffering of others, you do not need to force yourself to feel compassion, the door to your heart will naturally open…. We need to look after the victims here within our country and also have compassion for the hijackers and their families because they are victims of ignorance and hatred. We need a wake up call now in order not to allow hatred to overwhelm our hearts.

The deep reason for our current situation is our patterns of consumption. USA citizens consume 60% of the world’s energy resources yet they account for only 6% of the world’s population. Another reason: Children in America have witnessed 100,000 acts of violence on television before they finish elementary school. Another reason for our current situation is our foregin policy and the lack of deep listening – we do not listen deeply to the causes of suffering and the real needs of people in other nations.

… When we have taken the time to listen deeply, we then can begin to develop the energy of brother and sisterhood among all the nations. To develop a drop of compassion in our own hearts is the only effective spiritual response to hatred and violence. That drop of compassion will result in calming our anger, in having the courage to look at the roots of our violence, and how we perpetuate it, and will allow us to understand the sufferings of everyone involved in any act of hatred and violence.]”

From an Interview with Thich Nhat Hanh

 

“[Speak your truth. Listen to others as they speak theirs, too.

When you let go of fear, you will learn to love others, and they will learn to love you. Do not be afraid of dying; and do not be afraid to live and to ask what living means for you. Open your heart to love, for that is why you are here….]”

Author Melody Beattie – Releasing Co-dependency

We are the generation that stands between the fires… Behind us are the fires and smoke that rose from Auschwitz and from Hiroshima… Before us the nightmare of twisted rubble and broken lives of Tuesday’s fire and smoke… It is a flame of hate that threatens to consume us and to place the rest of our lives in jeopardy…

But our task is to make from this fire, not an all consuming flame, but from its warmth, a light in which we will truly see each other fully. All of us are different, all of us bearing sparks of a single holy flame. For this moment onward, we shall light our fires to see each others more clearly, see the rainbow of colors and faces that show us that we are one. Blessed is the One within the many. And Blessed is the Many who, by their light, their faith, their hope, and their love, will make us one.

Arthur Waskow- adapted

 

In spite of everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation of confusion, misery and death. I see the world gradually turning into a wilderness… Which will destroy us…

I can feel the suffering of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I believe that all will come out right, and this cruelty will end., and peace and tranquility will return again. In the meantime, I will uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I will be able to carry them out.

From the Diary of Anne Frank

 

May our eyes remain open in the face of tragedy. May we not become disheartened, but let the experience of loss dissolve our apathy and denial in the cup of our broken hearts. May we offer the power of our sorrow to the service of something greater than ourselves,. May our suffering serve to purify us and not paralyze us.

May we endure and may our sorrow bond us and not separate us; may we realize that our sorrow makes us great in compassion and immune to the flames of hate.

May we not be afraid to see or to speak out truth, and be blessed with the remembrance of who we really are, and what humanity is capable of and can be.

The Terma Collective adapted

 

Pastoral Prayer: For whom The Bell Tolls ( from John Donne’s famous poem…)

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;… Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. Perchance he for whom the bell tolls… Knows not that it tolls for him; and perchance I might think myself better than I am, as are they who are about me… And therefore, never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.”

Holy and Gracious Spirit, that lives in us all, and is expressed through us all,

We gather this evening to remember: to pay homage, to gain solace, to give voice to grief, and to shelter our anger until our feelings of sorrow can, through the comfort of human empathy, transform themselves into release, relief and forgiveness.

The bells across our nation toll for all those lost, and our attention and our gratitude, goes out to all those heroes and heroines of this past year: our brave civil servants; the courageous police, fire, and medical people who unselfishly gave their lives to respond to the the disaster, saving countless numbers and averting a far more devastating disaster. We also gratefully recall the soldiers, sailors and pilots who responded to their call to duty and did not return to their families. They gave, as Abraham Lincoln put it, “the last full measure of devotion.”

Our prayers this evening to go out to all the widows and widowers, to the fatherless and motherless children, and especially to the orphans whose lives will never be the same. We take all who are suffering into our hearts, and we extend to them our compassion, our caring, our peace…. It is if the arms of a whole nation embrace their loss as our own; and we struggle to make sense of hatred and violence, and we seek comfort for our own doubts, fears, and anxieties.

We pray in sacred intention, to find answers…. For the causes of this tragedy and we pray for the courage to face our own present terrors…. We are comforted by our connections to one another; by our caring for those who share our lives, knowing that over this small fragile world, humanity of every color, race, and belief exists as one universal family, entire of itself, so that  every act of hatred breaks our hearts.

As we have gathered to share our grief, and in that sharing lessen its burdens, let us remember that victor and victim are always linked, and regardless of government policies and contrasting beliefs systems, there really is never a victory as long as any child suffers… None of us is an island, we are connected through both our joys and our sorrows. Let us pray for peace…..

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

 

THE SECOND COMING        William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

Turning and turning in the widening gyre,

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere

The ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst

Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;

Surely the Second Coming is at hand.

The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out

When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi

Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;

A shape with lion body and the head of a man,

A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,

Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it

Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.

The darkness drops again but now I know

That twenty centuries of stony sleep

Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,

Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

 

A Prayer for Our Children

I now will offer a prayer for our children, for those parents who will not be coming home, for all the children of our world who will inherit this world from us….

Whose blood now runs into the rivers of the world? Whose breath now can only sing in the sorrows of our universe? In the eye of the enemy, can you not see reflected, your own soul? When a baby cries among the poor and outcast, do you long to hold her? Can you comfort, will you rock her?…. All children are our children… May we embrace all human bodies, may we not collapse into our suffering…. All children are our children ….

 

A Litany for Our Children….

Which has as its response, Spirit of Life, we pray to you…

 

O Ruler of all, Spirit of Life, let us pray for our children and for our world….

For the sake of all children, bring an end to the buildup of weapons. Preserve us from the attitudes that are willing to use such weapons, for we hold our children’s future before us…  Spirit of Life, we pray to you

For the sake of all our children, bring an end to conflict and war between nations. Give us the hearts and minds of peace, to teach only peace to our children.   Spirit of Life, we pray to you…

For the sake of our children, bring an end to the misuse of the land, water and the earth… Teach us to be faithful stewards of all the Creation’s resources. Spirit of Life, we pray to you

For the sake of our children, bring an end to injustices caused or abetted by those in places of power. May our hearts and minds change wealth to charity, power into service, and arrogance into humility so that we can hear the cries of our children. Spirit of Life, pray for us…


Holy God, Sprit of Life, through whom all is transformed and made whole, grant us and our children a newness of life. Give us hope, and faith, and a capacity to love that is unbounded by human fears. May we all have enough; enough to eat, enough to live; and may all the children have enough trust in their lives to rest secure in your love.

O Holy One, whom we also call our Father and Mother, We ask these things on behalf of our children, and the future we shall give them.  AMEN.

from The Children’s Defense Fund adapted

 

“[A man and a woman leap from the burning South Tower hand in hand….  they reached for each other and their hands met, and they jumped. I try to whisper prayers for the sudden dead, and the harrowed families of the dead, and the screaming souls of the murderers, but I keep coming back to his hand in her hand, nestled into each other, with such extraordinary love.

It is the most powerful prayer I could imagine; the most eloquent… It is everything we are capable of when faced with horror, loss and tragedy. It makes me feel that we are not fools to believe in God. To believe that, as human beings, we have a greatness and a holiness within them that are like seed pods that open only under a great fire or pressure…. To believe, against all the contrary evil evidence, that love is why we are here.]”

From the PBS  Frontline  Documentary on the Spiritual Effects of 9/11

 

“[And I saw a river, over which everyone must pass to reach the kingdom of heaven; and the name of that river was suffering. And I saw a boat which carries the soul across that river, and the name of that boat is love.

St. John of the Cross- Ascent to Mt. Carmel

 

The best and most beautiful things cannot be seen, they are experienced through the heart…. Helen Keller

 

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of becoming.

Goethe, German poet and scientist

 

They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. –Benjamin Franklin

 

Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

Gandalf the Grey, by J.R.R Tolkien

 

Do not assume that she who seeks to comfort you now, lives untroubled among the simple and quiet words that sometimes do you good. Her life may also have much sadness and difficulty, that remains far beyond yours. Were it otherwise, she would never have been able to find these words.

–Rainer Maria Rilke

Personal commitment can lead to a better understanding of self:

“Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes… But no plans.”

— Peter F(erdinand) Drucker

 

“If there is anything more dangerous to the life of the mind than having no independent commitment to ideas, it is having an excess of commitment to some special and constricting idea.”   Richard Hofstadter

 

“Commitment means that it is possible for a man to yield the nerve center of his consent to a purpose or cause, a movement or an ideal, which may be more important to him than whether he lives or dies.”

— Howard Thurman

Fear can be a powerful ally in moving forward: “Ultimately we know deeply that the other side of every fear is a freedom.”

Marilyn Ferguson.

 

Courage is simply the willingness to be afraid and act anyway.

–Robert Anthony, American psychologist

 

Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement.  Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. –Helen Keller

 

Courage is fear that has said its prayers      Karl Barth

 

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.  Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.” –

Marianne Williamson, quoted by Nelson Mandela.

 

“To defend one’s self against fear is simply to ensure that one will, one day, be conquered by it; fears must be faced.”

James Arthur Baldwin

 

Obstacles cannot crush me. Every obstacle yields to stern resolve.  He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.

Leonardo da Vinci

“There are times when fear is good. It must keep its watchful place at the heart’s controls. There is advantage in the wisdom won from pain.”   Aeschylus

 

“Only when one is connected to one’s inner core is one connected to others.  And, for me, the core, the inner spring, can best be re-found through solitude.”

Anne Spencer Morrow Lindbergh, American aviator and writer of “North to the Orient”

 

The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.  The saint is the man who walks through the dark paths of the world, himself a light.

– Felix Adler


New Pentecost? From The Introduction to Spirit, Time, and The Future

June 12, 2011 - 3:21 pm 89 Comments

Introduction: A New Pentecost Awaits

The Holy Spirit has within her presence and potentials, a restless, powerful, and urgent expectation of continually giving birth to a new reality. This new Spirit-infused reality is both inclusive and paradoxical; Its effects are both individual and social, personal and cultural. The impulses and directives once they are actively acknowledged and released can be experienced as either gracious or tense. These urgings can be genuinely inspiring, and once they are felt, are life changing and undeniable.

 

At times, the release or re-birthing of these energies and principles can appear dramatic and challenging in its chaotic, alchemical, and transformative demands. As Spirit, the omnipresent energies and gracious expressions of God can be universally experienced. Succinctly, She can best be experienced and understood as the source of vitality, wisdom, and compassion. However, while available to all, most often it is the willing and the receptive who acknowledge this truth most readily. They are the more open and vulnerable to sensing and to experiencing God’s omnipresence as being a sustaining and loving reality that lives within and among us.

 

The new Millennia has dawned, but it has not yet become a conscious and widely acknowledged part of our dominant culture. The activity of The Spirit has not been perceived widely in our prevailing religious church practices. She has not been given serious regard in our current theological and liturgical understandings. It is also true that tracking carefully the turns of time and calendars does not guarantee the Spirit’s appearance as a growth in awareness or an advance in consciousness. While it remains true that the greater manifestations of the Spirit are continually available, yet most often they will lie latently within time or go ignored and unused in our lives.

 

Despite the intense and unsettling struggle we can easily witness all around us, we need not give up hope. When we consider the continual wrestling we encounter with the imposing ethically dark forces of human whim and will, the entrenchment within resistant and powerful patriarchal systems and as condoned by cultural inertia, we are tempted by feelings of resignation. However, by looking deeper, and searching heartfully, we can find that we are continually supported by those glimpses of increasing awareness. Our sense of hope can be restored by acknowledging the increase in spiritual investigations, and by our willingness to actively question and to reverently wonder. In that searching, and by that willingness, we promote a more constant access to supernal qualities of light, hope, and truth.

 

The evidence for establishing a new consciousness is becoming more available and more widely recognized in contemporary culture. If it is true that a new awareness is dawning, then as more people consciously attune their lives and actions to its insights and demands, it will certainly become progressively better known. Across the wide spectrum of human thought and spiritual practice, we can be assured that this new manifestation of Spirit will be revealed and Spirit will invite and extend Her influences into every home, and into every heart.

 

The Spirit is brooding over the world (Deuteronomy 32), and She is ready to hatch her offspring— the women and men of God who will fully recognize her, will see the Spirit as a tripartite source: First, as a world creating, Spirit acts as our indwelling vital and dynamic presence; Second, as a sustaining source for a shared relational wisdom and social experience; Third or lastly, as an ethical imperative for meaningful social reform and for ecological repair/transformation.

 

When individuals invite these energies and heed the influences of the Spirit, they open themselves to those life- transformative explorations and move consciously towards a greater commitment to pneumatic living or participating in a Spirit centered life.

 

To the degree that this Spirit’s invitation is welcomed, affirmed, and embodied, there will be an increase in compassionate awareness. This inbreaking spiritual energy will broaden and deepen our social conscience as well as enliven our spiritual imagination. From our receptivity, we can reinforce our insights personally and then work together to courageously transform them into necessary and ethical actions. The result will be an alchemical and gracious reordering of spiritual perceptions and baseline ethical realities. This realignment to Spirit will work collectively to foster a large scale cultural re-birthing- bringing forth a broader, and deeper comprehension of the Spiritual dimensions of our daily human existence.

 

How this Spirit centered effects are to manifest themselves, or how they will become more widely known and then more easily assimilated is not yet fully clear. What we can witness and affirm is that the cracks in our world’s icy indifference, in our rampant Western egotism, and all the deep veined fissures of cultural isolation that previously divided humanity from itself, are cracking open more readily than the polar ice caps! The indifference and isolation are giving way to the need for developing more cultural interdependence. Such compassionate cooperation will be a hallmark of this new age or coming consciousness. Because of the increasing cultural disillusionment that we can see running blatantly throughout our society, a tipping point or a crisis point is rapidly becoming necessary. Perhaps we can say, as a supernal counterbalance or as a gracious response to them, Spirit and all her ameliorative effects will be brought closer and become more available to our daily social awareness.

 

One author, Donald Gelpi,2 puts it in these words:

 

 

“A contemporary pneumatology faces then a formidable task. In order to counteract those forces that stifle Spirit awareness, it must prophetically challenge individuals and communities to rend their hearts and open themselves to the illumination of the Spirit.”

 

 

It is our crisis and our opportunity, our social demands and our soulful urgings that will move us into confronting this formidable task. One of the intentions of this book is to contribute to the background information and to the greater understanding of these powerful and dynamic forces. It is my goal to begin to outline how the Spirit works, and to clearly acknowledge the cultural changes that would be necessary to usher in a genuine Age of the Spirit.

 

Increasingly over the recent decades, our contemporary culture has written about the dramatic and idealistic possibilities of cultural change. Accordingly to current forecasts, these changes are thought to commence or to correspond to the date and time that is outlined in the Meso-American Mayan calendar. The time when such culturally predictive signs and expected wonders will seemingly occur will be on December 21, 2012. Now it is important to state that this wish for change or cultural transformation is not new! Similar to the recent, vain imaginations and hopes for a new spiritually inspired the social order linked to the Harmonic Convergence in 1987. (And even without appealing the wildly speculative and obtuse claims of the latest group of Nostradamus interpreters) We can easily see this American cultural and religious tendency dating as far back in Protestantism in North America and most notably with the Millerites3 in 1834. They were the religious sect who assembled on a New York Mountain-top; It seemed as if there was an expectation of calamity or collapse, of some impending doom, accompanied by celestial catastrophes, and at the end of such tribulation, there would be some arcane but nonetheless some Scripturally predicted and religiously assured form of divine deliverance! Each century, or so it seems, arrives with its own version of a Second Coming! These largely erroneous predictions abound in Western Millennial literature, and are wrapped up in the personal revelations of religious leaders who are “enraptured” 4 with their own world-view! Somehow, they are able to cajole and convince their followers into believing in its imminent appearing! Modern media has often been a willing, uncritical, and enthusiastic ally to these controversial and often unfounded assertions.

 

Without going into an extensive Biblical exegesis, or a rigorous religious examination of comparative texts, let me state clearly that there are no dangerous religious books per se, only dangerous interpretations. Those who lack a historical, and most importantly, an imaginative and metaphorical understanding of Scripture, are primarily to blame for being the source of such fear and apprehension! Those who would take a literal or fundamentalist approach to any text are the same ones who are most prone to insult and alarm. These same panicked individuals or the same fear fueled groups, are the ones who are the most likely to proclaim their distress to others. There is an uncanny and unfathomable desire to sound the alarm- particularly when the warnings are based on their own version of all the disastrous effects that are to come!

 

As for those dire warnings that created such alarm and panic in 2012, even the Mayans themselves are at odds with the current rash of books and predictions that offer dramatic warnings and portents of doom. As the long, extended article 5 cited in the end notes of this paper names it, our Western Christian understandings of the religious life, its examples and archetypes have been “exhausted.” This observation is one of my key concerns. Our Western religious language has been stripped of its power to proclaim dynamic and transformative messages. Because of this accepted infirmity, and the inability for conventional approaches to Western spirituality to inspire our culture, as I see it, the time is ready, even overripe, for a “New Pentecost” among us….

 

It is my contention that these changes are not literally connected to a specific time or place; they are not limited to a specific date in calendar or hour of clock time. When we are dealing with all the dire and scary predictions that we have been popularly given, first we have to make objective and scientific allowances for those uncontrollable events such as shifts in the tectonic plates that cause earthquakes, etc. That should quell some of more fantastic fears based on some supernatural punishment or fear. Next, comes the humble and honest admission that there are some events and changes that remain well beyond our human control. This humility and honesty can encourage the responsible and ethical imperative to learn how to cooperate, and to learn how best to prepare ourselves to respond to these cataclysmic events as effectively and as compassionately as we can.

 

However, there is a larger, more harsh admission to be made: Most, if not all of the social crises and environmental dilemmas we now face are humanly authored, and they are culturally created. These systemic imbalances and the shifts in our planet’s ecological extremes are primarily perpetuated by our dominant myopic social priorities. It is a case where our ethics controls our climate, and that our weather imbalances are being directed by our secular and monetary values.

 

On the positive and transformative side, Spirit is manifest whenever the heart is warmed and whenever the will is informed. I believe that our lives can be activated to receive the spiritual impulses of grace and change, and then we can, as a result of that leavening, act to make those effects evident in our lives. From our individual transformations, we can come together and apply it as a social force within our culture.

 

The aim of this book is to be an updated, expanded consideration of the depth and dimensions of the Holy Spirit. It will offer new perspectives without losing sight of its original, linguistic definitions and will recount some of the wider understandings that are to be found within our Western Judeo-Christian heritage. This concern for keeping a consistent dialogue with theology, however, is not a defensive, turgid, or a brittle one. It will align itself with a progressive working definition from both theological research and the writings of depth psychology that holds to a more inclusive and universal understanding. As such, it freely goes beyond the traditional dogmatic definitions and any of the narrowly accepted orthodox scope of language and its conforming beliefs. Consequently, the ideas expressed will be along a line of thoughtful consideration that never loses touch with its foundational integrity. As an inclusive theological overview, this research affirms that the Spirit always has been and will remain an omnipresent correspondent with every archetype that affirms and honors her place, her possibilities, and her potentials.

Advice and Admonitions on Church in America: Radical Reflections on the Words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

January 15, 2011 - 4:13 pm 120 Comments

“… we must not forget that there were three men crucified on Calvery’s hill… two for immorality and theft, living below their environment. The other, Jesus Christ, was an extremist for love, for truth and goodness, and thereby rose above his environment. So, after all, maybe the South, the nation, and the world are in dire need of creative extremists.”

… Things are different now. The contemporary church is often a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. It is so often the arch-supporter of the status quo. far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent and often vocal sanction of things just as they are.

But the judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If the church of today does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authentic ring, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century

. I am meeting young people everyday whose disappointment with the church has risen to outright disgust.

Maybe again, I have been too optimistic, Is organized religion too in extricable bound to the status quo to save our nation and the world? Maybe I must turn my faith to the inner spiritual church, the church within the church, as the true ecclesia, and the hope for our world.”

from Letters From The Birmingham Jail

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

As I see it, without a willingness to consider becoming creative extremists, the mission and vision of any spiritual and/or religious group is at risk of never developing beyond being an irritant to the status quo, a socially troublesome but treatable rash, that will easily be placated and then ignored.

With being willing to become more “creatively maladjusted” is there enough of a sense of dignity and justice that makes any person or group capable of presenting the dis-ease and lament of the people of God effectively and powerfully enough to those who oppose them and who, by patriarchal religious and often penitential tradition and their theological assertions have effectively have controlled them.

Throughout the centuries of Western civilization, churches have come to occupy places of religious prominence and cultural importance. There is an undeniable historical reality that informs us… But that fact of culture and history cannot limit our understanding of what a church is, or what it stands for in our respective communities. Just as it is certain that there is a need for our churches to stand against any intrusions by government concerning one’s right to worship as one sees fit, and to remain separate from mutual entanglements, so, too, is it important for churches to assert their ethical presence in a community. As I see it, our progressively minded churches stand as stately sentinels; they can act as the guardians of individual freedom, and stand watch over the issues of justice and compassion in all civic affairs and interpersonal relationships.. In a world that seems to have lost its moral compass, our inclusive churches can act decisively to promote a concern for corporate responsibility, governmental accountability, and personal ethics. Furthermore, their presence in any conservative community acts as a vibrant religious alternative; a place that promotes freedom and safety, dialogue and self discovery, along the many diverse paths of human and spiritual inquiry towards greater comprehension and understanding. Our progressive and inclusive communities offer a welcoming and affirming environment that promotes a variety of opportunities for rational exploration, self discovery, and personal affirmation, which was traditionally aligned with the idea of the ripening and maturity of one’s soul or awareness.

If King is right in his prophetic sense of where the church of our contemporary culture is today, then the world of culture, consciousness and church life is now, more than ever before, in need of creative extremists. The time for timidity is over; it is Gospel based temerity that longs to assert itself- to present itself as being fully believable- fully and without reservation on the side of compassion, justice, equality and radical change.

If the mission and vision of a spiritual and/or religious group is sincere, it will have to be honest about the degree of obstinacy and frustration it faces in our larger religious world. The power of clerical inertia and the hierarchical arrogance that lies at the base of that power it held on to fiercely. Its desire for keeping up the dysfunctional status quo will remain stolid, intransigent, cold, and callous to the need for change, unless it go unheeded, and people vote to secede with their wallets and their feet! In that regard, it is not too strong to suggest that much of what functions in our culture as mainstream church, and what passes for a purposeful or meaningful spiritual life has already separated from the people of God it claims to serve!

Ask yourself this: If King waited until all the churches aligned with him on civil rights, then the battle would not yet have begun… If Ghandi waited until the English Raj and the Crown police demurred, or until they saw the errors of their inhospitable, dehumanizing ways, then India would still be a colony. So, too, if the faithful today have to ask ourselves this preeminent question: Are we willing to wait?

The history of the Western Church has evolved violently- It was through disagreement with the powers that were ensconced or enshrined, be they be creed, book, prince, or tradition, and that only through reformation, revolution and reform, did visionaries and dissenters have sufficient energy and impetus to create all the many varieties of church that can fill many almanacs and reference books.

As one radical example among many- Who is to say that the time is not right for an American Catholic Church? Or a People’s Catholic Church?

If there is an earnest desire to defeat the systemic evils that we clamor to remove, its arrogant crassness and the icy unresponsiveness that creates so much of the heartache in the women and men of conscience within the institutional church, then to simply protest by declining to agree is insufficient– a rash that is treated with indifference.

Only substantive action will create meaningful reform. Only with an acceptance that one has to be maladjusted to the status quo can there be enough energy generated that will definitively support deep reform and foster genuine change. Only with the affirming and encouraging creation of a new paradigm for spiritual community and ethical service, can the real or true ecclesia that King recommends come into being; Only then will energy of an inclusive and compassionate mission manifest, and only then can a vision that is clear and strong to be seen that exposes the long held, tolerated abuses of the Senex and patriarchal mentality. It is only then that we will arise as the hope for the world, and affirm ” Let the revolution of God’s people ” begin!

Guidelines for A Spiritual Community From Creation Spirituality: 12 Principles

November 15, 2010 - 2:00 pm 32 Comments

The Twelve Principles of Creation Spirituality

1. The universe is fundamentally a blessing.

Our relationship with the Universe fills us with awe.2. In Creation, God is both immanent and transcendent. This is panentheism which is not theism (God out there) and not atheism (no God anywhere).

We experience that the Divine is in all things and all things are in the Divine.

3. God is as much Mother as Father, as much Child as Parent, as much God in mystery as the God in history, as much beyond all words and images as in all forms and beings.

We are liberated from the need to cling to God in one form or one literal name.

4. In our lives, it is through the work of spiritual practice that we find our deep and true selves.

Through the arts of meditation and silence we cultivate a clarity of mind and move beyond fear into compassion and community.

5. Our inner work can be understood as a four-fold journey involving:

– awe, delight, amazement (known as the Via Positiva)
– uncertainty, darkness, suffering, letting go (Via Negativa)
– birthing, creativity, passion (Via Creativa)
– justice, healing, celebration (Via Transformativa)

We weave through these paths like a spiral danced, not a ladder climbed.

6. Every one of us is a mystic.

We can enter the mystical as much through beauty (Via Positiva) as through contemplation and suffering (Via Negativa). We are born full of wonder and can recover it at any age.

7. Every one of us is an artist.

Whatever the expression of our creativity, it is our prayer and praise (Via Creativa).

8. Every one of us is a prophet.

Our prophetic work is to interfere with all forms of injustice and that which interrupts authentic life (Via Transformativa).

9. Diversity is the nature of the Universe.

We rejoice in and courageously honor the rich diversity within the Cosmos and expressed among individuals and across multiple cultures, religions and ancestral traditions.

10. The basic work of God is compassion and we, who are all original blessings and sons and daughters of the Divine, are called to compassion.

We acknowledge our shared interdependence; we rejoice at one another’s joys and grieve at one another’s sorrows and labor to heal the causes of those sorrows.

11. There are many wells of faith and knowledge drawing from one underground river of Divine wisdom. The practice of honoring, learning and celebrating the wisdom collected from these wells is Deep Ecumenism.

We respect and embrace the wisdom and oneness that arises from the diverse wells of all the sacred traditions of the world.

12. Ecological justice is essential for the sustainability of life on Earth.
Ecology is the local expression of cosmology and so we commit to live in light of this value: to pass on the beauty and health of Creation to future generations.

 

Sharing In God’s One Spirit

August 11, 2016 - 9:15 am Comments Off on Sharing In God’s One Spirit

An Interfaith Prayer for A World Religions Service for Charleston and Orlando

June 27, 2016 - 11:55 am Comments Off on An Interfaith Prayer for A World Religions Service for Charleston and Orlando

An Inclusive Prayer for Remembrance
(an opening prayer for an interfaith service
The Charleston and Orlando tragedies)
June 26, 2016

Holy One, Source of All that which lives within, among, and beyond us; Hear our prayers of recalling your truth and remembering the value of Your sustaining love and care…

We are gathered here to recall those who have died, and to remember, that is will be up to us, the living, to actively honor their memory; We are being called back to our true selves, our best selves whenever we reflect on our sincere and lasting intentions for peace, benevolence, and understanding…

We are gathered to recall the essential facts of our lives- that we share this one world and our humanity as one. Together, we make its elevating possibilities manifest, and we also make visible its shortcomings for all to see… As Teilhard de Chardin puts it:
“[We are one, after all… you and I… Together we suffer, and together we exist, and together, we can heal… ]”

We gratefully admit that we have been given the gift of life, and what we do with it, is our gift back to You… for as Scriptures puts it, We love, because God first loved us… (I John 4)
The monk and mystic, Thomas Merton reminded us that there is a part of us, call it our souls or our hearts, that belongs entirely to God; It is the gift of a pure truth, unending affection, comfort, and affirmation… We must draw our actions from this!

Because of this great gift, there is no tragedy so big that it can rob us of hope, or steal away the resolve that knows, in our hearts, we can do better, we can love more deeply, and we must share it more widely- that this love we bear knows neither race nor gender, nor class, nor status; It cares little for political debates, unless they truly serve dignity, equality, and justice…

Holy One, the One Reality we share, we gather here this day to remember… and to know in our hearts, that we are to come together and grow beyond our illusions of our separate egos, and become, in Your name, one harmonious and loving whole;

We remember our fractured innocence, we know we can repair our wholeness, and we can come back together as friends, families, and as citizens to promote peace, and understanding.
We remember that we belong to one another as there only one race, one planet, and there is only one ultimate reality that binds humanity and the planet together- the love of good, God.

Only as we remember this truth, can we become strong enough to face any of our earthly fears… after all, you and I share this world, and we will make of it what we will…
That can be our motive here today… and everyday… that our actions are first directly by a shared compassion and we can choose to be unselfish and charitable towards all…

O Source of Truth, of Wholeness and Peace;
Hear our words this day, words spoken and sung that come from many sources, that will together express our shared hopes and universal desires… . Grant us a holy audition, so that we can hear, not just with our ears, but with our hearts…

May this time together, this time of recalling and remembering, stay with us, serving to initiate any needed changes, serving to strengthen our resolve for the future …

The future we wish to create and promote for our planet, for our lives, and for our children…

Amen; Salaam; Shalom; Namaste; Blessed Be!

20 Quotes from Carl G. Jung…..and some articles and thoughts including an excerpts from his work, The Red Book

May 22, 2016 - 1:11 pm Comments Off on 20 Quotes from Carl G. Jung…..and some articles and thoughts including an excerpts from his work, The Red Book

20 Profound Quotes By Carl Jung
That Will Help You To Better Understand Yourself
and Some excerpts from Jung’s writings including
The Red Book

by The Minds Journal Editorial · April 19, 2016

One of the things I love about Carl Jung is the fact that he was a deep philosophical thinker who examined all aspects of the self when writing about the human experience. As you will see in the quotes below, Jung was clear on the notion that we are spiritual beings, and that having a spiritual relationship with oneself truly helps us to understand the deeper aspects of who we are.
To some, this idea translates to religion — to finding solace in the existence of something greater than yourself — but I believe this to be a fickle form of spirituality, and one that does not truly help a person get to the core of who they are (or, alternatively, who they are not).
According to www.cgjungpage.org: “Carl Jung was one of the creators of modern depth psychology, which seeks to facilitate a conversation with the unconscious energies which move through each of us. He contributed many ideas which continue to inform contemporary life: complex, archetype, persona, shadow, anima and animus, personality typology, dream interpretation, individuation, and many other ideas. He had a deep appreciation of our creative life and considered spirituality a central part of the human journey.”
This summation of his life and work connects deeply to what Collective Evolution is all about, and shares much in common with what inspired me to create this platform in the first place. In putting together the quotes in this article, I gained an even deeper appreciation for Jung and his work, as I uncovered the conscious themes that were apparent throughout his teachings. He was clearly a deep thinker with an intimate knowledge of his inner being.
Jung also had an appreciation for astrology which, over the past few years, I’ve begun to understand more and more and see profound value in. I’m not talking about opening your daily paper and reading your generalize horoscope, however, but true astrology. Something many of us have never been properly exposed to and thus don’t understand the real meaning of or value. (Maybe we’ll have to make a short documentary on this one day!) Note from PEL: Please see my listing and descriptions on astrology on my website pages…
But enough on my own musings — onto the quotes! Here are 20 from Jung that I feel not only serve as an accurate representation of his work, but also provide much to reflect on.

20 Profound Quotes By Carl Jung That Will Help You To Better Understand Yourself
1.”One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light but by making the darkness conscious.”
2. “Don’t hold on to someone who’s leaving, otherwise you won’t meet the one who’s coming.”
3. “Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.”
4. “Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
5. “The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.”
6. “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
7. “Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people.”
8. “If you are a gifted person, it doesn’t mean that you gained something. It means you have something to give back.”
9. “Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not.”
10. “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
11. “People will do anything, no matter how absurd, to avoid facing their own souls.”
12. “Loneliness does not come from having no people around, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.”
13. “Depression is like a woman in black. If she turns up, don’t shoo her away. Invite her in, offer her a seat, treat her like a guest and listen to what she wants to say.”
14. “A man who has not passed through the inferno of his passions has never overcome them.”
15. “Your perception will become clear only when you can look into your soul.”
16. “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”
17. “What you resist, persists.”
18. “A dream is a small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens up to that primeval cosmic night that was the soul, long before there was the conscious ego.”
19. “We may think that we fully control ourselves. However, a friend can easily reveal something about us that we have absolutely no idea about.”
20. “Everything about other people that doesn’t satisfy us helps us to better understand ourselves.”

“If you give up your self you live it in others; thereby you become selfish to others, and thus you deceive others. Everyone thus believes that such a life is possible. It is, however, only apish imitation. Through giving in to your apish appetite, you infect others, because the ape stimulates the apish. So you turn yourself and others into apes. Through reciprocal imitation you live according to the average expectation. The image of the hero was set up for all in every age through the appetite for imitation. Therefore the hero was murdered, since we have all been aping him. Do you know why you cannot abandon apishness? For fear of loneliness and defeat.”

“To live oneself means: to be one’s own task. Never say that it is a pleasure to live oneself It will be no joy but a long suffering, since you must become your own creator. If you want to create yourself then you do not begin with the best and the highest, but with the worst and the deepest. Therefore say that you are reluctant to live yourself The flowing together of the stream of life is not joy but pain, since it is power against power, guilt, and shatters the sanctified.”
C.G.Jung.

Though you want to flee from yourself so as not to have to live what remains unlived until now.But you cannot flee from yourself. It is with you all the time and demands fulfillment. If you pretend to be blind and dumb to this demand, you feign being blind and deaf to yourself. This way you will never reach the knowledge of the heart. The knowledge of your heart is how your heart is. From a cunning heart you will know cunning. From a good heart you will know goodness.
So that your understanding becomes perfect, consider that your heart is both good and evil. You ask, “What? Should I also live evil?” The spirit of the depths demands: “The life that you could still live, you should live. Well-being decides, not your well-being, not the well-being of the others, but only well-being.”
C.G. Jung, The Red Book

The psyche is the greatest of all cosmic wonders and the sine qua non of the world as an object. it is in the highest degree odd that Western man, with but very few and ever fewer exceptions, apparently pays so little regard to this fact.
Swamped by the knowledge of external objects, the subject of all knowledge has been temporarily eclipsed to the point of seeming nonexistence.
C.G. Jung, 1946 Collected Works 8, para. 357

Not nature but the “genius of mankind” has knotted the hangman’s noose with which it can execute itself at any moment.
C.G. Jung, 1952

Nothing worse could happen to one than to be comletely understood… One would be instantly deprived of one’s personal raison d’etre if one were. I’d hate it myself… Understanding is … at times a veritable murder of the soul as soon as it flattens out vitally important differences. The core of the individual is a mystery of life which is snuffed out when it is “grasped.”
C.G.Jung.

“The living spirit grows and even outgrows its earlier forms of expression; it freely chooses the men in whom it lives and who proclaim it. This living spirit is eternally renewed and pursues its goal in manifold and inconceivable ways throughout the history of mankind. Measured against it, the names and forms which men have given it mean little enough; they are only the changing leaves and blossoms on the stem of the eternal tree.”
C.G. Jung, Modern Man in Search of a Soul
In the final analysis, we count for something only because of the essential we embody, and if we do not embody that, life is wasted.
C.G. Jung.

Synchronicities are those moments of “meaningful coincidence” when the boundary dissolves between the inner and the outer. At the synchronistic moment, just like a dream, our internal, subjective state appears, as if materialized in, as and through the outside world. Touching the heart of our being, synchronicities are moments in time in which there is a fissure in the fabric of what we have taken for reality and there is a bleed through from a higher dimension outside of time. Synchronicities are expressions of the dreamlike nature of reality, as they are moments in time when the timeless, dreamlike nature of the universe shines forth its radiance and openly reveals itself to us, offering us an open doorway to lucidity.
He who enters into his own must grope through what lies at hand, he must sense his way from stone to stone. He must embrace the worthless and the worthy with the same love. A mountain is nothing, and a grain of sand holds kingdoms, or also nothing. Judgment must fall from you, even taste, but above all pride, even when it is based on merit. Utterly poor, miserable, unknowingly humiliated, go on through the gate. Turn your anger against yourself, since only you stop yourself from looking and from living. The mystery play is soft like air and thin smoke, and you are raw material that is disturbingly heavy. But let your hope, which is your highest good and highest ability, lead the way and serve you as a guide in the world of darkness…
C.G.Jung The Red Book Liber Novus.

Spiritual Principles of The Samurai

May 22, 2016 - 12:32 pm Comments Off on Spiritual Principles of The Samurai

Spiritual Principles of the Samurai

By Jonathan Davis on Friday May 6th, 2016

Cultivating the ethics of honour, discipline and mastery

For nearly 700 years in feudal Japan approximately ten percent of the population lived as samurai ‘retainers’, a warrior class that lived in service to their respective provincial lords. The Samurai lived their lives by a code known as Bushido, which was based on a combination of Zen and Confucian principles and emphasised loyalty to one’s master, respectful ethical behaviour and self-discipline. Elements of Bushido emphasise compassion, benevolence and other higher qualities held by the Samurai that are worth emulating. So what can we learn from these ancient warriors that might help us with our personal evolution in the modern world?

Finding a role model
Whether you are a warrior, an artist or a business person, the first samurai skill worth adopting is the ability to ‘construct’ a true master to learn from, even if a living example of a true master doesn’t exist or isn’t accessible in the culture of our modern day.
According to Master lttei… one should look at many people and choose from each person his best point only. For example, one person for politeness, one for bravery, one for the proper way of speaking, one for correct conduct and one for steadiness of mind… If one perceives a person’s good points, he will have a model teacher for anything.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

Finding a true master to study with The Masterless Master
Miyamoto Musashi is without a doubt the most respected samurai warrior to have ever lived. Widely known as the masterless master, Musashi is likely to have achieved this level of high esteem through this very principal of assembling the best elements from less-than-perfect role models. Musashi was undefeated after sixty duels from the age of 16 to around age 60, when he retired to a cave and wrote what is widely considered the most important text of the samurai era:
The Book of Five Rings.

From one thing, know ten thousand things
One of Miyamoto Musashi’s most well-known concepts is: ‘from one thing, know ten thousand things’. In essence, this implies that by learning to become a master at one skill, we learn the very process of mastery itself; knowledge which can then be transferred to other skills.
From one thing, know ten thousand things… Neuroscience is starting to verify this concept when delving into the role of motor neurons and the transferability of learned skills. Learn to do something with one part of the body, like the right hand, and you will learn the same skill more quickly on the left hand, because the skill can be transferred to other control centres in the brain. More broadly, we also see this evidence of this when people find it much easier attaining their second, third or fourth university degree, or learning third and fourth languages more easily after having gone through the challenge of learning a second.

What we call mastery was merely discipline
In the present day we have the idea, according to Josh Kaufman, that we can become functionally ‘good enough’ at any given skill after about 20 hours of practice. To go from being pretty good at something to achieving mastery, the learning curve gets a lot steeper. According to Malcolm Gladwell, we can become a master at anything if we put in 10,000 hours of practice. This equates to 1000 days of practicing 10 hours per day. Musashi, however, said otherwise:
Practicing a thousand days is said to be discipline, practicing ten thousand days is said to be refining. What Musashi refers to as ‘refining’ equates to roughly 100,000 hours in comparison (if a person were to train for 10 hours per day). A samurai would actually hone their skills continuously for all of his waking hours and sleep in readiness to defend an attack at any moment.

The pressure of life-and-death stakes
Why do we remember so clearly not to put our hand on a hot stovetop? It’s because we’ve evolved to remember when something is painful. Our brain creates more myelin coating around those neural pathways that we consider important, and pain is our body’s way of saying it’s really important not to do that painful thing again. A thicker myelin coating causes that neural pathway to become more permanent. It’s important on a survival level to avoid pain so our brain and nervous system prioritises this and we build strong, well-insulated neural pathways so that we remember how to avoid more pain in the future. There is perhaps nothing more important than avoiding our own death. Perhaps this a key to getting our brain to create the strongest neural pathways of all.
The pressure of life and death stakes
It’s hard to find a better example of self-discipline throughout human history than that of the samurai or ‘bushi warrior’. They used the threat of imminent death to sharpen their senses and their resolve; paradoxically, they were also constantly readying themselves to give their life for their lord at any moment.
There is a saying of the elders that goes, ‘Step from under the eaves and you’re a dead man. Leave the gate and the enemy is waiting.” This is not a matter of being careful. It is to consider oneself as dead beforehand.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

For the samurai, this wasn’t a conceptual exercise. Buddhist monks may meditate on facing a horrific death for the purpose of learning to remain at peace in the face of such a challenge, but the samurai were facing actual death on a regular basis.
This kind of confrontation, which rewarded a moment’s relaxation with instant death, required awesome patience and concentration, a kind of discipline that can only be acquired after years of training under the guidance of a master. In time, this code of ethics with its stress on patience, frugality, and constant self-improvement, permeated all levels of Japanese society. It became part of the social ethos of Japan.
Commentary in The Book Of Five Rings (1982, Bantam)

Discipline that can only be acquired after years of training
The importance of the present moment

Attaining undistracted awareness of the present moment, and remaining in that state somewhat indefinitely, was a common goal of the bushi warrior. The possibility of death at any moment was used as a fuel for cultivating this single-pointed awareness.
There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment. A man’s whole life is a succession of moment after moment. If one fully understands the present moment, there will be nothing else to do, and nothing left to pursue.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

Through a process of trial and error (with error, in this case, equating to death), the samurai came to understand that there is a time-delay between the senses experiencing something and the mind registering the experience. They discovered that the masters of their art were the ones who put their thinking mind aside.
There is surely nothing other than the single purpose of the present moment
If you want to see, see right at once. When you begin to think, you miss the point.
– Zen Master Dogo
The process of training involves the mind training the body with so much repetition that the body learns the skill. Then when the skill is needed, the body will respond without needing the mind to engage. This means there is no time delay.
A retainer [samurai] is a man who remains consistently undistracted, twenty-four hours a day, whether he is in the presence of his master or in public. If one is careless during his rest period the public will see him as being only careless.
– Yamamoto Tsunetomo, Hagakure

While we in our modern lives may not face the possibility of death at any moment, we can recognise that the act of learning to be the most centred and aware version of ourselves during daily practice is only the beginning. Learning to extend this ability to bring forth the best, most awake version of ourselves into the periods of time between doing our daily practice may be a better long-term goal to strive for, so that we eventually remain at this level of presence at all times.

On a number of occasions in The Book of Five Rings, Musashi mentions taking the martial lifestyle to advanced levels of spirituality. In fact, his path of ‘Heiho’ means ‘path to enlightenment’. For instance, one of the nine concepts to live by in Musashi’s version of the bushido code is: perceive that which cannot be seen.

Perceive that which cannot be seen
This relates to the fact that in Japanese culture in general (and particularly for a warrior in a life-or-death situation) one must be able to show their tatemae, or surface level intention, and hide their honne or true inner intention.
Perceiving that which cannot be seen, at least in-part, is about cultivating intuition in order to ascertain an adversary’s true intention; despite it being hidden. This is the difference between ken, ‘observation of the movements of surface phenomena’ and kan, ‘profound examination of the essence of things’.
…if you are deeply committed to the eventual mastery of this path, if you practice day and night polishing your skills through and through, then you… can attain such freedom and such power to perform miracles. You will attain supernatural powers. This is the secret of Heiho.
– Miyamoto Musashi The Book of Emptiness

The Book of Five Rings actually consists of five books: Earth, Water, Wind, Fire and the Book of Emptiness, which unlike the other four, distils its wisdom into only two pages. The meaning of kú is emptiness; that which cannot be known is kú.

Earth, Fire, Water and Wind
This is similar to the concept at the beginning of the Tao Te Ching: as soon as one tries to talk about the tao it is no longer tao. Likewise, in Judaism all texts refer to ‘god’ as ‘g–d’ in an attempt to make sure that no one ever mistakes the signpost for that which the sign is pointing at. So it is a paradox that Musashi recognises in suggesting that emptiness cannot be known, but then following on from the last quote with a seemingly contradictory line:
By knowing form one knows emptiness. This in short is kú.
A word describing the emptiness or the oneness can never encapsulate the vastness of what it describes. To me personally, kú is describing what Taoists refer to as the ‘wu chi’; the underlying oneness that our physical reality of separation and duality exists within. The Book Of Emptiness points to us coming to experience the ‘oneness’ or ’emptiness’ through our experience of physical reality.
The commentary in the Book Of Five Rings (1982, Bantam) shares:

The underlying oneness of our physical reality of separation and duality exists within [Musashi] is suggesting there is a higher order of experience than the one you are on now. The emptiness is really a fullness, the realm of all possibilities.
In my opinion, this speaks to the common ground between ancient concepts such as the wu chi of the Taoists; the atman–brahman state of the Hindu tradition; and the quantum possibilities that have not yet collapsed into one solidified reality in the quantum realm.

Honour and Bushido
Above all else, the bushi warriors of Ancient Japan held themselves to a standard of being unquestionably honourable.
In the Hagakure, there is a tale of a samurai who is asked to testify in court. When asked for proof that what he was saying was true, he firmly stated if his word was not believed then he would immediately commit seppuku (ritual suicide) in front of the court. He was willing to give his life in a moment’s notice as security against the validity of his word; he was samurai. His word was not questioned further. For me this story exemplifies that the core of samurai culture was about being honourable.
There is a duty to be in service not only to their Lord, but to the wellbeing of the people and the good of all.

The Spiritual Bypass Phenomenon

May 22, 2016 - 12:29 pm Comments Off on The Spiritual Bypass Phenomenon

How to Know if You’re Spiritually Bypassing

By Jonathan Toniolo on Wednesday May 18th, 2016

Can Spirituality Damage your Growth?

I first heard about spiritual bypassing on one of my favorite podcasts, The Duncan Trussell Family Hour. For those of you that haven’t had the privilege of hearing Duncan orate, it’s kind of like listening to a raspy hybrid of Alan Watts and Jim Breuer — wise enough to capture your attention, with a certain stoned goofiness that keeps it all playful.
Duncan talks about spirituality in nearly all of his interviews — most guests will happily indulge him in doing so. Naturally, spirituality is a big reason why people tune in to the podcast. So it took me by surprise when he mentioned that spirituality, as a set of ideas and practices, could actually be self–sabotaging.

Spiritual bypassing, a term coined in the early 1980s by psychologist John Welwood, refers to the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with uncomfortable feelings, unresolved wounds, and fundamental emotional and psychological needs. The concept was developed in the spirit of Chögyam Trungpa’s Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, which was one of the first attempts to name this spiritual distortion.
According to teacher and author Robert Augustus Masters, spiritual bypassing causes us to withdraw from ourselves and others, hiding behind a kind of spiritual veil of metaphysical beliefs and practices. He says it “not only distances us from our pain and difficult personal issues, but also from our own authentic spirituality, stranding us in a metaphysical limbo… a zone of exaggerated gentleness, niceness, and superficiality.”
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We hide behind a kind of spiritual veil of metaphysical beliefs and practices.
We hide behind a kind of spiritual veil of metaphysical beliefs and practices.

My Own Bypassing
In Masters’ groundbreaking book, Spiritual Bypassing: When Spirituality Disconnects Us From What Really Matters, he writes:

“Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow side, devaluation of the personal relative to the? spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.”
Before listening to Duncan wax lyrical about this, I never imagined there could be such subtle and complex consequences of pursuing spiritual matters. And thinking that I, a cautious and sincere spiritual seeker, could be suffering such consequences seemed equally absurd. But after reading the detailed description of symptoms, I knew it applied to my situation. I realised that at a certain point in early adulthood, I had perverted spirituality into a defense mechanism — a mechanism that enabled me to disavow any negative quality or behavior in myself.
I recall a few specific patterns taking place:
Whenever I became anxious, I would immediately reach for the nearest Eckhart Tolle or Alan Watts text on my bookshelf. Instead of sitting with the anxiety and checking in to see if it was coming from an innocuous source, I would quickly find refuge in spiritual philosophy.
I would strive to maintain the appearance of someone who is constantly at peace with oneself, even though inside I may have felt like the weight of the world was crushing down on my soul. This kind of faux spirituality had a complete stranglehold on my speech and behavior and caused intense cognitive dissonance.
Whenever I had done something hurtful or wrong to another person, I would rarely take responsibility for it. I deflected that responsibility by saying things like “that person just needs to grow spiritually” or “it’s just an illusion anyways” — all in a naïve tone reminiscent of the time I thought I was a bonafide professor of quantum physics.
The process of realising when you’re to blame in any given situation is no easy task. But spiritual bypassing enables one to ignore that difficult process altogether. It led me to believe I was always right because I was more “enlightened” than all the ignorant sheeples who just couldn’t see the damn light. But the harsh truth of this spiritual arrogance is that I was ignoring the pain I caused in others because I was ignoring a similar pain in myself.
I strived to maintain the appearance of someone who is constantly at peace with oneself.I strived to maintain the appearance of someone who is constantly at peace with oneself.

Reinforcements From Our Culture
Masters writes:
“Part of the reason for [spiritual bypassing] is that we tend not to have very much tolerance, either personally or collectively, for facing, entering, and working through our pain, strongly preferring pain-numbing “solutions,” regardless of how much suffering such “remedies” may catalyze. Because this preference has so deeply and thoroughly infiltrated our culture that it has become all but normalized, spiritual bypassing fits almost seamlessly into our collective habit of turning away from what is painful, as a kind of higher analgesic with seemingly minimal side effects. It is a spiritualized strategy not only for avoiding pain but also for legitimizing such avoidance, in ways ranging from the blatantly obvious to the extremely ?subtle.
The subtlety of recognition seems to be the root of why this affliction is so widespread and under-diagnosed. Psychologist Ingrid Mathieu also notes this subtlety in her article Beware of Spiritual Bypass:
“Although the defense looks a lot prettier than other defenses, it serves the same purpose. Spiritual bypass shields us from truth, it disconnects us from our feelings, and helps us avoid the big picture. It is more about checking out than checking in — and the difference is so subtle that we usually don’t even know we are doing it.”
Part of the reason for spiritual bypassing is that we tend not to have very much tolerance for pain.We tend not to have very much tolerance for pain.
Considering our culture generally shuns negative emotions, it’s no surprise many of us respond to those emotions with repression. Prominent manifestations of repression, such as alcoholism and drug addiction, are forms of relief whose conspicuous quality makes them easier to identify and intervene.

Spiritual bypassing, while seemingly more benign, is much more difficult to notice because it’s guised in the appearance of wholeness and wisdom. It’s much harder to recognise our repression when we’re chanting “Om Shanti” on a regular basis or repeating positive affirmations that “everything is okay” or “all is love.”

Yoga, meditation, psychedelics, prayer, affirmations, deeply engaging with the present moment, etc. are all incredibly powerful spiritual tools if used appropriately. But sometimes, and if we’re not careful, those things can end up masking deeper issues lingering both inside and outside of us.

Spiritual Bypassing is a manifestation of repression, as is alcoholism and drug addiction.Spiritual Bypassing is a manifestation of repression, as is alcoholism and drug addiction.
To me, spiritual bypassing is fundamentally about taking a so-called absolute truth — such as “everything is okay” — and using it to ignore or deny relative truths — such as the grief we feel when we lose a loved one, or the shame that arises when we fail at something important. On the personal and interpersonal level, sometimes everything isn’t okay. And that’s okay.

That may seem trite, but in the context of spiritual bypassing, it’s a platitude that I feel requires frequent repetition. Before we can heal our pain, we have to be honest about it and accept it — which is ideally what spirituality should help realize. As Masters suggests, this is certainly easier said than done and requires a level of vulnerability which most of us are uncomfortable with.

Nonetheless, if we grant validity to the many claims that spirituality is shaping the evolution of humanity, it seems wise to confront the intricacies of our own bypassing sooner rather than later. Doing so could not only prevent years of developmental stagnation, but also help implement new angles of self-awareness that our world so desperately needs. Acknowledgment and acceptance were the first major steps for me, and I sense a deeper spirituality is following in their wake.