MUSINGS ON CUBA, US POLITICS, AND THE POSSIBILITY OF LOVE

Last weekend, Dorianne and I joined six thirty-somethings (i.e. millennials) for a weekend in Havana, Cuba. I have been especially interested in Cuba since my days as a police officer in Miami-Dade County, working alongside many Cuban-Americans. I never thought I would visit Cuba in this lifetime, but, things change and we went.

Cuba is very enigmatic. There is great poverty visible in Havana, but also a great spirit. People were generally open and friendly; music streamed out of nearly every home, no matter how impoverished. Despite being a communist country, there is plenty of entrepreneurial activity – taxis, restaurants, bars, etc., where business is transacted. My sense is that if the current trend toward greater openness is continued, the country will transform in coming years toward a more free and prosperous society. And yet, most churches are either closed or converted to performance spaces, as is the one pictured below.

Here are some photos.

 

Returning from Cuba, I must say that I find the current state of US politics very disturbing. It is as if the two nations are going in different directions. Our newly elected federal government is taking an approach that seems to violate both progressive and conservative principles (LINK). There is little sense of respect for humanity, nor is there a sense of government as being public servants. The initial White House budget proposal drastically cuts many essential services and unnecessarily (IMHO) builds up the military budget which is already bloated (and for conservatives, no balanced budget in sight). And, of course, The Wall must be funded. Historians will note that this is a pattern that every declining society has taken since the Romans – taking funds from arts and citizen support programs and pouring money into the war machine.

That said (full disclosure: my viewpoint is progressive), the US is a nation divided and many people (37% in a new Gallup poll ) support the actions of the new administration.

So, what is a spiritual leader to do?

First, he can remember this quote from Mark Twain:

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand and without examination from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

~ Mark Twain

Second, she can remember this quote from Bertolt Brecht:

“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” 

~ Bertolt Brecht

Third, he can remember this quote from Tariq Ramadan:

“You can’t say ‘I don’t do politics,’ because silence is a political statement.”

~ Tariq Ramadan

And fourth, she can remember this quote from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee:

“Do we have the courage to hold the grief that comes with the end of a story? You can only hold the beginning if you are prepared to also hold the grief for what is over, otherwise a certain maturity is lacking. At this time, we are called upon to recognize the bigger story—which is not the story of supermarkets, not the story of politicians, not even the story of religious fanatics—but the story of the earth at this time.”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

1a politics

Spiritual leaders cannot, must not, attempt to be apolitical, for there is really no such thing. Often the spiritual leader does not want to upset or alienate someone in the membership who holds different beliefs. Would this hold true if there were a Nazi or a Maoist in the membership? Is it an absolute position or is it a matter of degree? Or they do not wish to get into the coarseness of the political realm; but that is the nature of that realm at this time, and the level of discourse can only be elevated by reasonable voices for compassion. Where are such voices going to come from?

And if the spiritual leader is teaching the importance of spiritual principles being applied to the larger world, and some public figure or institution is, in the judgement of that leader, in violation of those principles, is not speaking out really an option? Can we fail to speak out or to act and still see ourselves as not being political?

My readings of The Science of Mind and other New Thought philosophies make it clear to me that ours is a politics of Oneness, Love, and Compassion. Also, the teachings say that through the realization of our own inner Power we can make our own way in the world. This can be seen as a conservative element of New Thought, in alignment with the American conservative ideal of the “rugged individualist.” It is often used to justify cutting programs for the poor, for instance, out of the belief that if the program is not there, the poor person will be more likely to realize his or her own inner power sooner.

But the founders of New Thought saw themselves as Christian, too. To them the idea of holding someone accountable for a level of consciousness that they had not actualized was wrong. This was why Christian Science, with its expectation of high consciousness from all, even those new to the teaching, as reflected in a dogmatic prohibition of medical care, was never a part of the New Thought family.

We in New Thought also bring something else to the equation – the idea of unlimited possibility, available in full in each moment, accessible to anyone who becomes receptive to it. This critical aspect of New Thought philosophy comes with a very steep requirement – that we be willing to release anything – ANYTHING – that does not serve the emergence of the new possibility. This statement from Abraham Lincoln speaks to this idea from a time before our New Thought Movement existed:

“It is not, Can any of us imagine better? but, Can we all do better? The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise – with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

And from Ernest Holmes, the developer of The Science of Mind:

“We shall often need to announce that the Truth which we announce is superior to the condition we are to change. When the inner consciousness agrees with Truth, then – and not until then – a demonstration takes place.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

Our politics is Oneness, Love, and Compassion. It will be brought about through principled engagement in the world around us. Can we be silent to a world that cries out for healing?

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

ON WOMEN AND MEN ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN

“The experience of the feminine is the psychological key to both the sickness of our time and its healing.”

~ Marion Woodman

I’ll be relatively brief here, sticking a toe into a vast ocean of possible discussion. It is the International Day of Women. The mere fact that such a day exists speaks to the way that women have been viewed in nearly every culture since humans evolved from earlier primates. Their place in the gender rankings has been a distant second. The best that can be said of western culture today is that there is some recognition of that and an additional recognition of the wrongness of it. That recognition, of course, is not complete, and it is not even universally shared by women. I won’t go into a litany of wrongs committed against women; suffice to say that they are legion and no woman is untouched by them. Nor is any man. Men tend to be less aware of that fact, but a fact it is.

And I can only see this dynamic as a cis-gendered white male; therefore, I need to leave the presentation of different perspectives to others.

Divine Feminine -Sophia

We are all wounded in one way or another and we often project that woundedness onto others. Women and men, lovers of all genders, have been doing that since the beginning of time. That, too is part of our healing journey, and must be addressed as we move forward.

Erica Jong and Sylvia Plath have described the issue well:

“Growing up female in America. What a liability! You grew up with your ears full of cosmetic ads, love songs, advice columns, whoreoscopes, Hollywood gossip, and moral dilemmas on the level of TV soap operas. What litanies the advertisers of the good life chanted at you! What curious catechisms!”

~ Erica Jong

 

“Being born a woman is an awful tragedy… Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars – to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording – all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.”

~ Sylvia Plath

It has been said (and I happen to agree) that racism can be eradicated, but that sexism is here to stay. I think that there is truth in that because sexism is a by-product of sexual attraction. People are attracted to one another, they may fall in love or just in lust, but such experiences tend to cloud the mind and create chaos in many situations. But that does not mean that we cannot greatly improve the nature of our relationships with one another.

“A girl in a bikini is like having a loaded gun on your coffee table. There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s hard to stop thinking about it.”

~ Garrison Keillor

 

“Sometimes you walk past a pretty girl on the street and there’s something beyond beauty in her face, something warm and smart and sensual and inviting, and in the three seconds you have to look at her, you actually fall in love, and in those moments, you can actually know the taste of her kiss, the feel of her skin against yours, the sound of her laugh, how she’ll look at you and make you whole. And then she’s gone, and in the five seconds afterward, you mourn her loss with more sadness than you’ll ever admit to.”

~ Jonathan Tropper

These two quotes speak both to the conditioning of men in our society and to the biological reality of attraction – regardless of the gender(s) involved. But I would suggest that it is masculine energy that is more romantic, the feminine is more practical. How many times has a woman found a way to keep the household running while the man pursues his dreams? How many women have made a relationship begin or end while the man hesitates to share his feelings or to act?

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me nave or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

~ Anaïs Nin

“The more a man swaggers, the more insecure he is in his own masculine nature.”

~ James Hollis

 

Women of New Thought

Some Women in New Thought – Past and Present

We in New Thought are not immune from sexism, although I would suggest the inner examination that naturally comes with our studies, we are often more aware of the issues and interested in equality than others may be. However, although a number of women figured prominently in the founding of New Thought denominations, we have had very few women in positions of top leadership in our more recent history. None of us knows our unconscious and we are all surprised by the things that arise from within us from time to time. Our early conditioning is strong and must be confronted and changed where it results in limited thinking of any kind. When we recognize and integrate our inner masculine and feminine natures within ourselves, we will be better able to integrate them with others to form a more compassionate and wise society.

“The I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, recognizes the continual shifts that go on within the individual. The Yang power, the creative masculine, moves ahead with steadfast perseverance toward a goal until it becomes too strong, begins to break – and then the Yin, the receptive feminine, enters from below and gradually moves toward the top. Life is a continual attempt to balance these two forces.”

~ Marion Woodman

woodman

Marion Woodman

Today, I celebrate women, the divine feminine in all of us, and the possibility for greater equality in our world. The feminine mind and heart has transformational power, and the world is crying out for transformation.

So, teach your children well. And do your spiritual work to realize a world in which everyone is seen as capable of giving their genius to all. The Beloved Community
can only be realized when we join together as one.

A closing quote from Marion Woodman on the crone, which speaks to one possibility of the feminine.

“The crone is the woman who has faced crossroads in her life and has chosen to live with acceptance and love, rather than closing down with resentment. She has expanded into life, losing the ego drive and opening to the full energy of the unconscious. She is a surrendered instrument, living out of her soul. She is an instrument through which the god and goddess energy moves. She comes from love, rather than from ego power. The dark side of the crone is power, because she has intuitive powers that can give her control of other people if she wants to use them that way. The other side of the crone is the love flowing through her that is an immense healing presence. She has a very finely developed masculinity. A highly developed discrimination, discernment, capacity to act. She is like a tuning fork in an environment. Because of who she is, her environment is different because she is there.”

~ From Marion Woodman

Your Comments are welcomed.

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

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Available in paperback or Kindle editions

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WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM? WHY DON’T THEY CHANGE THEIR MINDS?

“When prehistoric fossils were first discovered in rocks, 18th century scientists insisted that they were natural formations, accidental conformations of rock, rather than undertake a massive revision of all their ideas about nature and the age of the earth.”

~ Colin Wilson

Sometimes it seems as if 75% of social media posts are attempts to change someone’s mind about something. And, have you noticed, it rarely, if ever, works. The same is true of many of our conversations and most, if not all the Sunday lessons presented by New Thought Spiritual Leaders.

Despite all the effort, we see very few changed minds. Oh, some are changed over time – because that person decides to change, but no one’s mind is changed without their cooperation.

“Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. . .. Can (they) change their underlying mentality to adapt to these realities? Intellectual history says no. People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks.”

~ David Brooks, NYTimes 1/29/2013

As human beings, we are built to believe that what we already believe is true and to seek out data that agrees with what we already believe. We have built-in brain structures that make us tend to view the world as if it conforms to what we already believe. These structures create blind spots to information that does not conform with what we already believe; and even if forced to view the contradictory information, we can easily rationalize a way around it and keep our same beliefs. We have known this about ourselves for a long time.

fact-and-belief

THE SIX MISTAKES WE MAKE ~ CICERO

1. Believing you can profit from hurting another.
2. Worrying about things you can’t change.
3. To insist that something is impossible just because you can’t do it.
4. Holding fast to trivial pride, preference, and prejudice.
5. People stop learning.
6. Trying to compel others to believe and live as you do.

That #6, is a big one. In New Thought teachings, we learn to change our own mind – not to change the mind of others. Why? Because we have no such power over others. True, we may be able to influence others, but a changed mind must come from within that person. We may be able to make someone behave in a certain way through coercion or force, but that is very unlikely to change their mind. A famous story about the legendary Religious Science minister Raymond Charles Barker (LINK) tells of the time that he had books entitled “How to Change Other People” put in the church bookstore. Many people eagerly purchased them, only to find when opening them that they were blank inside. The next Sunday he spoke about the need to change yourself.

But that is only half of the story.

Changing minds can only happen in a conversation, never in a lecture. Each person must be willing to open their mind to a new possibility – to “go out onto the skinny branches,” as Dr. Arleen Bump often says. There must be an inner dialogue in response to any lecture in which the person moved toward a new belief.

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We both enter the conversation with blind spots which you can imagine as being created by the fear that any belief in opposition is a threat to us. Unless we go deeper than our normal surface level (what Scharmer calls Downloading), we will not open the mind, heart, or will – the keys to a changed mind. Like medieval knights in a joust, we will have only two possible outcomes – win or lose – and it is unlikely that any minds will be changed. Unfortunately, we also have blind spots to our ability to go deeper than our surface consciousness.

But, only when we go deeper, into the realms of mind, heart, and will, can we direct our change processes with intention and purpose. In his Theory U Model (LINK), Scharmer shows how this process can be self-directed in individuals and groups.

“Time and again we try to cope with situations using collective instruments that are out of tune. Rather than stopping to tune them, we increase the pace, hire consultants who want to increase productivity by further reducing the time devoted to tuning and practicing, hire new conductors who promise to conduct even faster, and so forth. But the obvious thing to do—to stop and tune the instruments collectively—doesn’t come easily because it requires a shift of the mind to a deeper level of operating.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We can influence others, but how? Often, we insult them and their beliefs, or do things to undermine their success. This is because we are as attached to our own beliefs as they are to theirs and we have our own blind spots! Our belief system tells us that different beliefs can be dangerous to us. Our motivation to convert others to our way of thinking is usually based on an unconscious need to feel safe. When we react out of fear with anger, we will likely influence others to keep their own beliefs! We see the results of such largely unconscious thinking in many social media posts. Until we learn to break with the past and focus on what is wanting to emerge, we will stay in conflict.

“Isn’t there a way to break the patterns of the past and tune into our highest future possibility—and to begin to operate from that place? . . . The ability to shift from reacting against the past to leaning into and presenting an emerging future is probably the single most important leadership capacity today.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Whether you are a leader or not, this awareness is important. We all have blind spots, we all have current beliefs that we will unconsciously defend (rightly or wrongly), and we all will attempt to get others to join us in our blind spots and beliefs. At the same time, others will be trying to get you to join them in their blind spots and beliefs. And so, we go in circles. It can get exhausting and lead to depression and even rage.

theory-u

 

We serve ourselves well when we include these qualities and skills in our spiritual practices and in our organizational practices. If we are to strengthen our ability to stand in Truth, even when uncomfortable, we must be able to release what no longer serves us. We can only let go by healing our blind spots – by being open to amazement. This requires us to bring the process to conscious awareness more often (“What am I missing right now? Where am I locked into a belief? Is it true?”).

mirror-you-are-perfect-as-you-are2

You may come to see that the intransigence of others is a reflection of your own intransigence. That your inner unconscious fears that what you believe is the only right way to believe has created a big blind spot to the validity of different points of view. Which is not to say that you are wrong in your belief, only that your fear and the resulting blind spots make you incapable of seeing other possibilities and empathizing the those who believe differently.

“This is the moment when what we need most is enough people with the skill, heart, and wisdom to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of breakdown and onto a different path.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Our New Thought principles (LINK) always lead in the same direction – toward self-awareness and self-development. We do our work in consciousness on ourselves and we transform our belief system toward something greater within the realm of Infinite Possibility. When we are transformed, our experience of life is changed and our influence of others is also changed. Maybe they didn’t need to change at all. Maybe our holding them as “wrong” was a case of spiritual arrogance on our part. Maybe our own transformation created a space for them to expand their awareness and development.

I do my spiritual work.

I cease declaring anyone my enemy.

I embrace my connection to the Infinite.

I am transformed and my experience shifts accordingly.

 

“Change is inevitable. Progression is a choice.”

~ Sonya Teclin

As always, your comments are appreciated. Feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. Thank you!

 

Text Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

GET A COPY FOR YOUR SPIRITUAL LEADER!

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

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HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 4

“Cautious, careful people always casting about to preserve their reputation or social standards never can bring about reform. Those who are really in earnest are willing to be anything or nothing in the world’s estimation, and publicly and privately, in season and out, avow their sympathies with despised ideas and their advocates, and bear the consequences.”

~ Susan B. Anthony

Engaged spirituality requires a strong consciousness. When those engaged in activism have not done their personal psychological and spiritual work to a sufficient degree, they can do more harm than good. They lose their poise, fail to act from a compassionate heart, and are swept away by the energy of events. Only when one has been trained with some degree of rigor in spiritual principles and practices, and has applied themselves to regular practice over sufficient time is one likely to be capable of acting from such a consciousness.

“You can’t be a wimp when you’re doing justice work.”

~ Bishop Yvette Flunder

The Postmodernist-Green values system now dominates New Thought organizations and many local spiritual communities. If, as we evolve along the spiral, we do not bring forward the healthy aspects of the Traditionalist-Blue and Modernist-Orange levels (transcend & include), then Green will become unhealthy, because the values at the Green level do not support what organizations need to thrive. Green is, in part, a transitional stage between 1st and 2nd Tiers of the spiral – between levels of complexity and their value systems. Many of the values (both healthy and unhealthy) essential to the Blue/Orange organizational structure can be abandoned with the movement into Green.

Green vMEME

Green sees consensus as the ultimate form of decision making and shared leadership as the vehicle for generating consensus. But while consensus is laudable, it is rarely achievable unless everyone at the table is operating at or beyond the Green Level of Existence. Someone at Orange or below on the spiral will not value consensus and will feel forced into compliance, even though that may not be the intention of leadership.

“Consensus comes with another flaw. It dilutes responsibility.” 

~ Frederic Laloux, REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS

In fact, Green is where the Blue/Orange form of organization goes to die. Die so that it can be re-born at the 2nd Tier level, as the caterpillar goes into the chrysalis to die as the caterpillar and be re-born as the butterfly. The caterpillar has no knowledge of what is coming, a huge transformation; the butterfly has no knowledge of where it came from. Organizations entering the chrysalis of Green, without awareness of the dynamics involved, are like the caterpillar – they are blind to what is coming, what is beginning to emerge from within them. And while in the caterpillar to butterfly transformation, nature knows what to do, in organizational transformation, we must depend on the collective wisdom of the group.

Green is where we begin to shed the old forms of fear-based structure, of centralization and hierarchical authority, of mistrust of people at every level. We have some insight into Integral-Yellow level organizations thanks to the work of Frederic Laloux (LINK to REINVENTING ORGANIZATIONS) and others. What we see emerging at 2nd Tier levels are things like self-organizing teams where full authority is moved to those who actually do the work.

“Others will arise who will know more than we do; they won’t be better or worse, they will be different and know more than we do. Evolution is forward.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, Sermon By The Sea- Asilomar, Saturday, August 15, 1959

This requires 2nd Tier leadership at the top of the flattened organization, as leaders centered in the 1st Tier generally lack the degree of trust and vision needed to actualize the Yellow organization. In fact, most of the structures in Blue/Orange organizations arose out of a lack of trust in people. However, Laloux give us a glimpse into what can be. We see the beginnings of this with the increasing decentralization of authority in Centers for Spiritual Living and Unity. But this is only the beginning of the movement into 2nd Tier, and Green values often  limit the functioning of the organization or spiritual community while it is still in its First Tier structure. This makes the transition more difficult, even treacherous, than it need be.

“Nothing is more curious than the self-satisfied dogmatism with which mankind at each period of its history cherishes the delusion of the finality of its existing modes of knowledge. Advance in detail is admitted: fundamental novelty is barred. This dogmatic common sense is the death of philosophical adventure.” 

~ Alfred North Whitehead

Where in our New Thought organizations, with their predominance of Green leadership, is there the vision and the power for change? Where is the authority held in organizations to require ANYTHING of leadership in local spiritual communities? It has dissipated like the morning fog as we have moved into new cultural evolutionary ways of being. Leaders who try to exercise authority are ignored or shouted down, sometimes lovingly, but they surely are hampered in their ability to lead.

This shows up in many ways – one is when ministers who teach accredited classes in CSL (I cannot speak for Unity here) freely replace significant content from the accredited curriculum and yet see no ethical issues in signing off on certificates of completion from CSL which say that the student has completed the required curriculum. If CSL leadership questions this practice, they are rebuffed with a “how dare you question me?” attitude. And the leaders tend to back down, because what else can they do without upsetting someone?

Why does this matter? Shouldn’t ministers have the freedom to teach what they want?

I think it matters because the  CSL organization and local spiritual communities had an original intention – a Prime Directive if you will – to teach the Science of Mind philosophy. If every community does that differently (and, let’s be honest, not every unique way of teaching the material is equally effective), where is any sense of uniformity within our movement about our basic reason for being and our spiritual principles?

Simply put – New Thought leaders need to up-level cultural evolutionary awareness, as in Spiral Dynamics™, Theory U, and the work of Frederic Laloux.

ce-books

My reason for bringing this issue up here is to give some context to the issue of whether to engage in social activism, or any form of engaged spirituality. If we are drifting away, however unintentionally, from our core reason for being, how can we engage in this important conversation from a common set of principles and values?

There are two steps to effective engaged spirituality:

  1. Realization and actualization of the spiritual principles of the teaching.

  2. Engagement with the outer world that is consistent with those principles by people who have developed #1.

In my opinion, before (or at least, as) we decide what forms of engaged spirituality we will take, we need to decide to become a unified body teaching the same basic spiritual principles in an atmosphere of love, compassion, and full accountability. This means that, at minimum, every student who takes classes in the Science of Mind at any CSL center will learn the same principles and practices. There will be a common understanding of these and a common vocabulary. We all recognize the importance of bringing the highest possible consciousness to what we do; so why should involvement in engaged spirituality be any different? 2nd Tier organizations may self-organize and decentralize decision making, but they do so in an atmosphere of adherence to the basic principles and values of the organization.

This blog series, I hope, will lead to some serious consideration about how we go forward as New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. To do so, we must understand where we are developmentally on the spiral, and bring the best of those values systems present forward in our visioning and decision making.

“Job Description for Spiritual Seeker: Full time position available for person who strives to be mindful and aware of the deeper context of life. Must be intellectually curious, open-minded, and willing to change. Reverence for creation, personal humility, and a strong commitment to social justice will be necessary. Study, prayer, dialogue and meditative practice are expectations. Cross cultural experience important. Compassion and kindness are requirements. Starting date: now. Salary: zero. Benefits: unlimited. Apply in person to the Maker of Everything.”

~ Bishop Steven Charleston

As always, your comments are appreciated.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

By Jim Lockard

Available in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

 

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 3

“We have yet to see what the multiplied consciousness of a church body can do, if they are properly trained, if they permit someone to exercise an authority over them.”

~ Ernest Holmes

This quote from Ernest Holmes speaks from the Tradionalist-Blue value system. Although the focus of The Science of Mind philosophy arises primarily from the Modernist-Orange values system, Holmes and others recognized the importance of traditional values in organizational matters. As the Postmodernist-Green values system emerged and evolved in New Thought, some of the traditionalist-Blue and Modernist-Orange values were left behind. Some of this was positive (letting go of overly authoritarian leadership; being less driven by numbers and $$$) and some was negative (seeing all forms of authority as negative; being overly feelings-oriented).

Green values include wanting everyone to feel good about themselves all the time, so rigor in instruction or testing/evaluation is not highly valued. In fact, it is often rejected. This has evolved away from rigorous teaching spiritual principles to more informal classes where standards are relaxed (everyone passes), and ideas outside of New Thought principles are often given equal value. This has led to a greater disparity in the degree to which students of New Thought teachings understand and can apply their basic principles.

Additionally, local spiritual leaders pay less attention to centralized curricula and teach what they want to teach (which would be a reflection of both Modernist-Orange and Postmodernist-Green values). I am not talking only about adding to the existing curricula, but changing it significantly. As I will focus on in Part 4 of this series, there is little remaining authority in the leadership of New Thought organizations to hold individual spiritual leaders and communities accountable.

“For us to remain relevant and contemporary we will have to slay some sacred cows.”

~ Edward Viljoen

We do have our sacred cows. And, like many other things, they have evolved over time.

The evolutionary movement of New Thought organizations and spiritual communities from its historic center of gravity as an inward-focused spirituality toward a more outward-focused engaged spirituality is happening before our eyes.

On the spiral (LINK), we can see the historic focus on teaching spiritual principles as the “prime directive” of New Thought spiritual communities arises from the Traditionalist-Blue values system. The focus on engaged spirituality emerges from the Postmodern-Green values system. Both are valid from a values systems perspective. One evolutionary issue that has emerged is that the Postmodernist-Green level has not properly valued the Traditionalist-Blue value of rigorous teaching of spiritual principles.

Spiral Dynamics Chart 2

The failure of newly emerging levels of the spiral to incorporate the healthy aspects of earlier levels is a common problem. We see it in the larger culture when Modernist-Orange emerges and the traditional ethical practices of Traditionalist-Blue are not carried forward – we get scandals, Enron and the Recession of 2008 to name just two.

While Religious Science began with a strong Orange component of spiritual individualism, it adopted the traditional Christian Church Model and held to the Blue value of rigorous teaching of the basic principles in a uniform way from spiritual community to spiritual community. The evaluation and credentialing processes were also fairly rigorous throughout the 20th Century.

This began to change in the late 1990’s as the Postmodernist-Green level began to have a greater influence in the movement. The rigor of the past seemed harsh, as those who “failed” to become practitioners or ministers felt badly, as did those who had to “pass judgement” on them. The idea of holding students to rigorous levels of performance in classes also began to change, and a period of just about everyone passing just about everything, from basic classes to the awarding of doctorates began, and continues to this day. This is the Postmodernist-Green level expressing.

“Every transformation demands as its precondition ‘the ending of a world’ – the collapse of an old philosophy of life.”

~ C.G. Jung, Man and His Symbols

In the previous installment of this series (Part 2 – LINK), I wrote about the need for a both/and plan for the emergence of more engaged spirituality in New Thought. By this, I meant that for engaged spirituality to be truly effective, it must be carried out by spiritually realized people – people who have thoroughly learned the basic principles of the teaching and who continue to learn to apply those principles throughout their lives (lifelong learning). Engaged spirituality requires some rigor in preparing people to enter highly contentious situations. I am not sure that we can say that we have that kind of rigor in many of our New Thought spiritual communities today.

“We will not refuse to help the helpless or lift up the fallen, but we will refuse to wallow in the mud because of our sympathies.”

~ Ernest Holmes 

Postmodernist-Green is higher on the spiral than Traditionalist-Blue or Modernist-Orange. To be successful, higher levels must include some of the healthy aspects of the lower levels. So, Green needs to include a value for some traditional values, such as holding people accountable to developing a high degree of mastery of basic spiritual principles. This is especially true where credentialing is involved – in Centers for Spiritual Living at the practitioner and ministerial levels. When such accountability is absent, standards are lowered and the organization suffers at every level. Spiritual leaders must be willing to stand firm on this issue – both with themselves and with their students, or truly empowered engaged spirituality will not occur.

In Part 4 of this series, I will explore the role of Spiritual Organizations in this unfolding of engaged spirituality.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

cover

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

by Jim Lockard

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 2

“The ego wants containment and control. It is only the soul that wants meaning and mystery. In fact, that is how I can know whether it is my ego that is leading me or the ‘brightness and the Holy Spirit.’ If I have not found a way to hear and allow that deeper level of soul, I will use all my roles, my relationships, and even my religion to fortify my ego and my private agenda.”

~ Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still

In this post I want to make the case for organizational inaction; for non-participation in demonstrations or protests; for remaining quiet to the political winds and trends. A case for those of us in New Thought to simply focus on building a consciousness of empowered love in ourselves and for teaching that to all who come to us for spiritual instruction, and for making that the one and only focus of our spiritual communities.

For I believe that such a case can be made. I believe that one can take the position that our focus should be to empower each individual to develop spiritually and to make no attempt to influence them as to how to use that empowerment in their own lives, merely to trust that they will do so with wisdom and love.

Engaged-Spirituality.jpg

From the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT)

I recently did a legacy interview with Rev. William Arrott for the Science of Mind Archives and Library Foundation (LINK). Rev. Arrott has been a student of The Science of Mind since the 1960’s. His position is basically what I stated above – that we as an organization should take no positions on any political issues; that we should focus strictly on teaching spiritual principles. If that is done correctly, he says, then we can trust that many will become active in the outer world in positive ways. The spiritual organizations and local centers/churches should not take positions, nor encourage their members to engage in any specific cause. We will lose some people as a result, and we limit our ability to reach out to the largest possible number of potential students of Truth, Rev. Arrott says. The focus becomes on arguing or strategizing over issues rather than teaching and learning principle.

basic-principles-of-som

“In the Science of Mind, we learn that persistent, constructive thought is the greatest power known and the most effective. If the visible effect in our lives is not what it should be, if we are unhappy, sick and poverty stricken, we know the remedy. The Truth is always the remedy, and the Truth is that the law of liberty is the only real law. When we reverse the process of thought, the effect will be reversed.”

~ Ernest S. Holmes, The Science of Mind 

Some years ago, when I was a new minister, I had a conversation with a rabbi (whose name I do not recall). We were in Baltimore at a consciousness expo where my center had a booth. The rabbi did not have a congregation. His ministry was traveling the world teaching Jews about the early Christians, his area of study, and speaking at interfaith events. Interestingly, the rabbi had taken two years of Science of Mind classes with Dr. Stuart Grayson at the First Church of Religious Science in New York, and he had read many of the writings of Ernest Holmes.

During that conversation, the rabbi said to me (all of this a paraphrased), “You know, The Science of Mind is not a religion, right?”

“Why not?” I asked.

“Because it does not have a moral construct,” he replied.

“Really?” I responded. “What is a moral construct?”

“A moral construct,” the rabbi said, “is when a religion has specific rules for you to follow no matter how advanced you are in the religion. For example, the Jewish religion has moral constructs to tell the most advanced rabbis how to be a good Jew, and the Catholic religion has moral constructs for even the pope to know how to be a good Catholic. The Science of Mind does not have that.”

I thought about that for a moment, then responded, “I agree,” then asked, “What would someone who fully embodied the principles of The Science of Mind be like?

The rabbi thought for a moment and replied, “Someone who fully embodied the principles of The Science of Mind would manifest at the level of Jesus.”

“I agree!” I responded. “And you would not need to tell someone manifesting at the level of Jesus how to be a good Religious Scientist. They would just know how.”

“And I agree to that,” the rabbi said.

I have often thought about that conversation in the years since. Many who came into New Thought, especially Religious Science, before the 1990’s were taught that we did not take positions on issues, we treated to know the Truth. We taught our students to fully realize their own spiritual potential and trusted them to make wise and loving decisions from that perspective.

“A change of consciousness does not come by simply willing or wishing. It is not easy to hold the mental attention to an ideal, while the human experience is discordant, but – it is possible. Knowing the Truth, is not a process of self-hypnosis, but one of a gradual unfoldment of the inner self.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

But things began to change. During the first decade of the 21st Century, statements were made by the two Religious Science organizations (now one) regarding Marriage Equality. Some spiritual communities began to engage in social activism. And more statements emerged from the integrated Centers for Spiritual Living. Similar patterns have emerged in Unity.

So, are the two positions (and degrees of both), one of not taking stands on issues and another of being active in a variety of ways really in opposition – as in one is always correct and one is always wrong? Or do they reflect the cultural evolution of those in New Thought toward a more engaged version of spirituality? If the latter, then they are a polarity (LINK), meaning that they may ebb and flow, but that there needs to be a balance of both ideas – more of a both/and than an either/or alternative. We can think of it as an integration of the two – fully teaching New Thought spiritual principles as a basis of the spiritual community, and practicing engaged spirituality, or not, based upon the cultural evolutionary level(s) of the spiritual community.

“We have yet to see what the multiplied consciousness of a church body can do, if they are properly trained, if they permit someone to exercise an authority over them.”

~ Ernest Holmes

In Part 3 we will explore this unusual quote from Ernest Holmes and more on the evolution of Engaged Spirituality in the New Thought Movement.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

by Jim Lockard

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

HOW TO BE EFFECTIVE AT ENGAGED SPIRITUALITY, PART 1

“Never forget that social justice is what love looks like in public” 

~ Cornel West

The debate in New Thought circles about whether, or to what extent, to engage in spiritually motivated social activism focused on social justice is an active and controversial one. Those on the Centers for Spiritual Living Ministers’ List Serve are well aware that this topic surfaces again and again.

I think that the best term I’ve heard for such involvement is Engaged Spirituality. What is often omitted from the conversation is the idea that engaged spirituality in support of social justice is best viewed as a moral action, not a partisan action; and therefore is a principled activity – and any spiritual community choosing to so engage must make that clear in word and deed.

1a Activism

A concern of some spiritual leaders is that should a spiritual community or a spiritual organization take a position or take action in some area that there may be those who do not support such actions, or who find it offensive to their own political beliefs. The choice, however, is not merely whether to engage with the world outside the walls of the spiritual community, for all action, and all inaction, are forms of engagement.

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”  

~ Bishop Desmond TuTu

The choice is more about how to presence oneself in engagement – how to show up in terms of deep spiritual development and realization. Spiritual leaders cannot hide from the moral and human issues of the day.This is true whether the choice is to remain silent or to speak out on any given issue. In either case, it is important to realize the need to be prepared to enter the arena of engaged spirituality. It is a demanding way of life.

“There is a pervasive form of modern violence to which the idealist…most easily succumbs: activism and overwork. The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence.

“To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.

The frenzy of the activist neutralizes his (or her) work… It destroys the fruitfulness of his (or her)…work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

~ Thomas Merton

beloved-community-i-have-a-dream

When we are unprepared, spiritually and psychologically, for the world of engaged spirituality, we commonly fail to bring the change we desire. We are more likely to militarize than to be compassionate, more likely to distance others from our point of view than to change minds. We project our own fears and inadequacies onto others and we lose ground rather than gain it. Before we decide to engage in activism of any kind, we need to make sure that we are spiritually and psychologically prepared to make that decision wisely with a compassionate heart.

“Our unwillingness to see our own faults and the projection of them onto others is the source of most quarrels, and the strongest guarantee that injustice, animosity, and persecution will not easily die out.”

~ C.G. Jung, Depth Psychology and Self-Knowledge

As I note in my book, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A HANDBOOK FOR SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP (LINK), a first step in engaged spirituality is to do your own spiritual and psychological work. A high degree of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) and Spiritual Intelligence (SQ) are essential. Spiritual Leaders must be doing their own work, and ensuring that those whom they teach are adequately prepared to engage in any form of social action.

“I cleanse the windows of my mind, that I may become a mirror reflecting inspiration from the Most High.”

~ Ernest Holmes

Here, Dr. Holmes gives us clear guidance as to what it is we seek – to be clear as Spirit AS us. We must go past our shadow selves and heal our woundedness to be clear in our decisions and actions. Nothing less will do. Clarity must reign over confusion.

“Most people do not see their beliefs. Instead, their beliefs tell them what they see. This is the simple difference between clarity and confusion.”

~ Matt Kahn

spiritual-latest

Our first step is to begin an ongoing process – Do our spiritual practices regularly and deeply to build the consciousness of clarity needed to make wise and loving choices. Until we are in a place of personal dominion over our thoughts and feelings, we are ill-equipped to enter any contentious arena. And the area of engaged spirituality is such a place.

“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

In Part 2, we will explore the elements of the decision for those in New Thought to engage in spiritually motivated activism, both individually and in community.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

SPIRITUAL PRACTICE IN CHALLENGING TIMES – ACCESSING YOUR POWER EVERY DAY

“May you live in interesting times.”

~ Ancient Chinese Curse

We live in interesting times – which means that we live in challenging times. Of course, there are always challenges present, there is only a difference in degree and in how individuals or group relate to the challenges present. But for each of us, the challenges present in our own lives are ours to master.

The challenges that I will focus on here are challenges to our highest ways of being. Our society makes it a challenge to be loving and kind, to be wise and true, to be humble and honest. We live in a harsh emotional climate where anger and hate, ridicule and insult, driven by fear, often rule the day.

“Fear is insidious, fear is contagious, fear reflects our darkest dreads & most harrowing nightmares. Fear is imagining far beyond the worst-case scenario. Fear becomes anger, becomes irrational, isolates & looks for a target for its terror. The awakened ones have always offered a spiritually designed alternative. It’s called mature love, evolved kindness, radical compassion. And, the good news is, it’s who we essentially are. When I commit to waking up & staying up, I find ways to serve Spirit by helping others. Divine guidance & intuition point me to the ways of personally contributing to forging a new path founded on inclusion & transcendence. God Is/I Am!”

~ Dr. Sue Rubin on Facebook

Fear is the major driver of our politics today (LINK), and when driven by fear, we cannot strive to the heights of human possibility, rather we can only focus on keeping what we fear at bay.

Dr. Sue Rubin hits the metaphysical nail on the head when she speaks of the need to change our viewpoint, our attitude, toward our fears. We need to “wake up and stay up” as spiritually mature people. Our fears are nothing but beliefs, nothing but inner reactions to an interpretation of outer events. We can change our attitudes – our interpretations. It is the key to spiritual growth.

“The GREATEST discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.”

~ William James

poster-positive-life-nagative-mind

The word attitude has an interesting meaning in aviation. It is a measure of the relationship of the wings of an aircraft to the horizon. You might think of your own attitude as the relationship of your emotional self to unconditional love. You have a “positive” attitude if you are close to unconditional love and a “negative” attitude the farther that you get from unconditional love.

“The highest attitude of mind, from which all else springs, is one of perfect calm and absolute trust in the Spirit.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind

We constantly enable lousy attitudes in one another. We say things like “anyone would be upset.” (Really? How about the Dalai Lama?) We often rush to show sympathy to someone, when the more compassionate thing to do would be to remind them (lovingly) who they really are. We flock to “entertainment” where victimhood is celebrated, revenge is enacted, and violence and harsh words fill our ears. Actions such as this, no matter how well-meaning, simply serve to enable limitation and negativity.

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

~ Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor Frankl survived the concentration camps of the Nazis not only physically, but psychologically as well – he refused to give the Nazis dominion over his mind and emotions. We are constantly surrounded by events which can, if we so empower them (and disempower ourselves in the process), distract us from our peace and purpose in life. Though regular, purposeful spiritual practices, we steel ourselves against such distractions – it is not that we do not see them, it is that we retain our power when we do. Staying empowered means that we can be humble, for one is only able to be truly humble when empowered. We are then open to the awe of being alive!

“Awe and humility–the twin attitudes necessary for religious or psychological truth–bring new life to each of us, if we can bear them.”

~ James Hollis

“Interesting times” call for a deeper dive into spiritual practice and, thus, a deeper sense of spiritual realization. We become what we think about all day long, so that spiritual practice must extend beyond just a morning formal practice. We must also pay attention to our thoughts and feelings as the day progresses, using clear intentions to guide us and bringing ourselves back into alignment when we drift or are distracted. Remember that our Source is Spirit – focus on that when things are challenging. But first, prepare yourself daily for those challenges that are on your agenda but have not arrived yet – build your spiritual muscle in advance.

pray-treat-meditate

No current spiritual practice? Begin One!

Have a current practice? Expand and/or deepen it!

Affirm: Fear does not govern my life. I live in awareness of Source and I realize my Power as Love every moment of every day.

Meditation Ocean

“The decisive question for a human is: Is he/she related to something infinite or not? That is the telling question of his/her life. Only if we know that the thing which truly matters is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interests upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance. Thus, we demand that the world grant us recognition for qualities which we regard as personal possessions: our talent or our beauty. The more a human lays stress on false possessions, and the less sensitivity he/she has for what is essential, the less satisfying is his/her life. He/she feels limited because he/she has limited aims, and the result is envy and jealousy. If we understand and feel that here in this life we already have a link with the infinite, desires and attitudes change.”

~ Carl Gustav Jung – Memories Dreams and Reflections (gender-neutral added)

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

DOES PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUALITY TRANSLATE INTO PROGRESSIVE POLITICS? Part 4

THE SPIRAL DYNAMICS VIEW

“A new world is upon you and all peoples of the earth. A different tomorrow awaits.
Nothing is going to be the way it was before.

Not your finances, not your politics, not your work life, not your
relationships, not the way you experience your spirituality
— all of it is changing…and is going to continue to change.
The only question remaining: Will you be part author of those continuing changes, or merely one who is impacted by them?”

~ Neal Donald Walsh

In the Spiral Dynamics™ Model, we learn that there are different levels of complexity of human thought which have emerged (and continue to emerge) as our cultures evolve. Greater complexity in the outer world (called Living Conditions) generate an adaptation in people in which greater complexity of thought emerged within them. (LINK to a Description of the Model)

While that is interesting enough, the model also shows that as our complexity of thought changes, so do our values systems (called Levels of Existence). This chart shows some aspects of the Levels of Existence present on the planet today.

VMEMEs Simplified

Through the Spiral Dynamics lens, the current U.S. political environment can be explained in terms of a clash of Levels of Existence, since there are at least seven or eight in play today. Generally speaking, the levels from Red to Yellow have the most influence, as most people in the U.S. are centered in those Levels of Existence.

Politically, conservatism is most prevalent in Red, Blue & Orange. Liberalism is most prevalent in Orange, Green & Yellow. Note that these distinctions are general, and may not translate into party affiliation. If fact, many at the upper levels of Orange into Green will shun joining a political party. These same people are increasingly unlikely to join a specific spiritual community. They are most likely to see themselves as free agents.

Those centered at Green are very likely to find New Thought attractive and to want to engage in activism they see as congruent with the spiritual principles of the teaching. This differs from those at Orange, whose values will tend to call for a more individualized approach – they want personal growth first and foremost. Orange places a higher value on scientific rationalism, while Green develops a greater affinity for mystical, mythical, and non-linear viewpoints. All the while, those centered at Blue was to return to the days of the founders and not engage in anything that would be beyond what they considered appropriate.

Sign - Right Way

Often, when it comes time to consider issuing a statement or engaging in activism, there is a conflict between what those at Green want to do (engage) with what those at Orange want to do (maybe issue a statement) and those at Blue want to do, which is to do spiritual practice and not take sides or engage in any way. Spiritual leadership, as I say in my book (LINK), must develop the skillsets needed to build bridges between and among these various Levels of Existence in their spiritual communities. This is one of the major leadership challenges of our time.

“Politics is the art of the possible.”

~ Otto von Bismarck

What is possible is often determined by where one is on the spiral. An awareness of Spiral Dynamics is essential today.

For those in New Thought whether you are conservative or progressive politically, I would ask you to look at the candidates, policies, and activities that you support, either actively or passively. Do they speak to the possibility of compassion, love, empowerment, and awakening? If not, why do they have your support? For many, this past election was very painful, in that it was difficult to find the positive in the candidates available in November. Others see it as a breath of fresh air, filled with the potential for positive transformation. Regardless of your position, are you ready to engage? Are you doing your spiritual practices regularly to develop the consciousness to be present in the inevitable discord of the current political realm?

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

I will state my own position here, at least in part. I sympathize with many of the voters who elected the current administration – people who have seen the middle class decimated over the past 35 years and who believe that their basic values are not honored and respected by those who have been in power during that time. While I sympathize with their desire for change – I cannot sympathize with the clearly toxic leader that they have elected; one who seems to have a general disdain for humanity and who thinks of everything as a deal to be won or lost; one with no clear vision forward and with a very thin skin.

Beautiful Flower Lotus

I seek a more humane nation, where we can find ways to be secure and still provide a society that is welcoming and caring. I can see that much of the system of the past decades must be deconstructed/disrupted for that to really occur, but without a positive vision, the disruption is likely to lead to a less humane nation. That is my concern. My daily prayer-treatments are for myself to realize my own inner humanity more fully and for others to realize theirs as well.

“More important than any other quality in our politicians we must demand psychological illumination, psychological awareness, because otherwise we get people sparring with their own shadows.”

~ Sir Laurens van der Post, Matter of Heart

My vision is for New Thought communities to step up their game – deepen their spiritual practices individually and in community; step up and engage the issues of the day in the outer community; be progressive in the sense that the vision is always forward, expansive, and compassionate. We have a great gift to give the world – our spiritual principles and practices – but we must fully integrate them ourselves if we are to be seen as having something of value to give.

I hope that you have found this series to be of value. As always, your comments are welcomed. I deeply appreciate the comments on the earlier posts.

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Where you can get

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

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DOES PROGRESSIVE SPIRITUALITY TRANSLATE INTO PROGRESSIVE POLITICS? Part 3

SPIRITUAL ARROGANCE or KINDNESS

You might ask me what is my evidence that New Thought spirituality either attracts those who are progressive politically, or develops that type value system within them. My answer – look at the numbers! There are conservatives in New Thought to be sure, but they are usually a small minority of those present in a spiritual community.

As I pointed out in Part 1 (LINK), the opposite can be said about fundamentalist spiritual communities, where progressives are few and far between. The politically related positions of New Thought organizations (LINK) (LINK) and individual spiritual communities, when taken publicly, are overwhelmingly progressive in nature. I would go so far as to say that there is a progressive bias built into New Thought spirituality.

But that bias does not always translate into the positions of one political party as opposed to another – not perfectly at least. There are many aspects to the US political populace. New Thought tends to land on the progressive side of the ledger, but mostly in relation to taking a humanist position. There is also a tendency to be in favor of the common good when the choice is between that and individual good. And there is a conservation approach within New Thought to things like public lands and nature, something that originated within the conservative movement in the US.

“When we pay attention to nature’s music, we find that everything on the Earth contributes to its harmony.”

~ Hazrat Inayat Khan

Another issue is spiritual arrogance. This is less of a religious issue and more of a cultural evolutionary issue. – those who reside at higher levels on the spiral (LINK) often fail to honor the values of those at lower, or different, levels. This results in a dismissive attitude about the other, in this case, those who support different candidates or political policies. It is always the responsibility of those who have greater awareness to take the high road in such matters. I will look at the Spiral Dynamics implications of all this in Part 4 of the series. Spiritual arrogance arises when we automatically see others through our own lens, as if they fully understood our own kind of spiritual teachings.

chart-middle-class

The United States has seen a decimation of the middle class over the past 40 years (LINK). There are any number of causes for this, but one thing can be said: New Thought principles have not become widespread so that enough individuals can realize their own power to create good in their lives. Our New Thought organizations and spiritual communities, have failed to capture the imagination of more than a tiny sliver of Americans.

middle-class-cartoon

Now I know that many will say that our principles have become mainstream – they appear via people like Wayne Dyer and Anthony Robbins, they are part of sales training, they are used by sports psychologists, and the like. I hear this said all the time. But is this really true? I suggest that these are examples of the use of modern psychology, not of New Thought principles – and we adopted the same psychology, we did not originate it. My mother read authors like Deepak Chopra and Marianne Williamson, but she believed that she should suffer in life as Jesus did on the cross; she did not become steeped in the teachings of New Thought. Our principles of Love, Peace, Power, Life, Light, Beauty, Joy and the like are not necessarily what are being expressed in the larger world. More often the psychology is being used to get a victory for a football team or a new car or some other thing – not to create The Beloved Community.

“People generally see what they look for, and hear what they listen for.”

~ Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird 

Blogger and author Seth Godin (LINK) writes of shared reality and diverse opinions. Where diverse opinions exist, such as we have in New Thought(!), there must also be a shared reality. Sometimes, I wonder about the nature of our shared reality in New Thought. There can never be a complete sharing of a philosophy/theology, of course. What I often observe, as one example, is the dynamic of those who see Spirit/Mind/God as an independent operator, as in “Spirit wanted me to become a minister,” versus those who see It as operating only through creation (us), as in “I chose to become a minister and activated the Power of Spirit to manifest that.”

I see these viewpoints expressed quite a bit in discourse with New Thought teachers and students alike. Absent a clearly shared reality on this point, our diverse opinions tend to drive us farther apart in my experience. Recognizing this difference might be a first step to greater clarity.

“At a chess tournament, when the newcomer tries to move his rook diagonally, it’s not permitted. ‘Hey, that’s just your opinion,’ is not a useful response. Because, after all, chess is defined by the rules of the game. If you want to play a different game, begin by getting people to agree to the new rules. In physics, it doesn’t matter how much you want a ping-pong ball to accelerate faster, your opinion isn’t going to change what happens. Shared reality is the foundation on which we can build trust, make promises and engage in a useful discussion on how to achieve our goals.”

~ Seth Godin

I was heartened to see so many from the New Thought Movement participate in the Women’s Marches last week. For those who did so out of a sense of creating something positive, they are vessels for the emergence of The Beloved Community. The idea of being for something and against nothing, as Ernest Holmes called for in his final Sermon By The Sea (LINK), speaks to bringing forth a more compassionate nation. Like attracts like, so compassion can only be realized through a consciousness of compassion and kindness.

And it is important to put principle first; ahead of party or candidate. Neither U.S. political party has platforms nor policies consistent with the full empowerment of humanity, of putting love first. While such an idea may be idealistic, it is where our New Thought Principles point. With no engagement from New Thought perspectives, how do we expect our principles and ideas to find their way into the public discourse? By osmosis?

“There’s a neglect of spiritual practices that prepare the soul for engagement with social issues from a place of love. I love the people in congregations. But it’s hard to get real in the culture of church. Maybe it just takes more courage than most of us have.”

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

Those who tell you not to speak up, march, or engage in social activism are sometimes not being honest. They are the people who are happy enough with things as they are; they are fine with the status quo. I am not telling you to do any specific thing – I am telling you to look into your heart and to do your spiritual work so that the best of you is available to humanity. Follow your wise heart. Do it alone if you must. How do we demonstrate our spiritual principles without engaging in the political realm?

New Thought offers a powerful set of spiritual tools to bring our best selves forward into the larger society. What we must determine, individually and collectively, is how best to do that – to help move toward a world that works for everyoneThe Beloved Community.

In Part 4 (the final part of this post), I will explore how this concept can be viewed using the lenses of Spiral Dynamics and Integral Models. As always, your comments are welcomed!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

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