Pathways to Spiritual Politics: Two Revelations with a Miracle on the Side
CHAPTER ONE: Get Out the Echinacea and Goldenseal, I feel a Revelation Coming On
Pathways to Spiritual Politics: Two Revelations with a Miracle on the Side
Table of Contents
CHAPTER ONE: Get Out the Echinacea and Goldenseal, I feel a Revelation Coming On
Distancing Ourselves from Politics
House of Cards
An Alien World
Peace, Love, Compassion: The Teachings of Jesus
If War is the Answer, Please Restate the Question
The Caring Nature of a Spiritually Based Political System
Chapter Two: Powerful to Purposeful
When Emotions Aren't Enough
Self-Nurturance in a Time of Need
Love: What to do About It
Ego, Your Time is Over
Chapter Three: Political Left, Political Right, and Potlucks
Our Nation’s Shadow Work
Trust is a Fragile Thing
Sifting through Chaos to Find Gems
Chapter Four: Radical Revolution
Radical Energy Solutions
Sustenance for Health and Harmony
Gross National Happiness
Chapter Five: Natural Laws
Science of Creative Intelligence
Power of the Collective
Chapter Six: Self-Governance
Common Ground Under Our Feet
Taproot of Our Resilience
Chapter Seven: The Changing of the Political Paradigm
Henry George Revisited
Tidal Wave of Wisdom
Understanding the World-Process of the Infinite
Chapter Eight: Resonance: A Field of Realities
Nature: Where the Spiritual and Survival Interlace
Rhythm, Balance and Beauty
Chapter Nine: An Honorable Society
Chapter Ten: And Beyond
A Noetic Evolution
The Supramental Human
The Arts and Their Prophecies
Making the Unimaginable Real
About the Author
Jaelle Dragomir is an award-winning author, poet, playwright, and broadcast journalist. Her humorous fiction and non-fiction articles have been published in regional, national and international publications including Vision Magazine, Light Connection, Makali’i Journal, Mother Earth News, Country Woman, and High Plains Journal. She was ghostwriter and editor for internationally acclaimed Qigong Master Mingtong Gu. Wisdom Healing (Zhineng) Qigong: Activate and Embody Wisdom and Energy for Health, Healing and Happiness.
Jaelle has worked in local, regional and national politics as a national organizer and state director. Locally, she organized and facilitated a group for young people ages 18-32, ReGeneration Project, to facilitate community action and political engagement. Jaelle is a Social Artistry Ambassador for the Jean Houston Foundation, and a board member of the Southern Oregon Chapter of the Civil Liberties Defense Center, Jackson County, Oregon, and formerly a board member for the ACLU both at the local and state level.
Jaelle is a dynamic public speaker. She is a frequent speaker for small and large groups both locally and nationally. Topics include politics, spirituality, and authenticity.
Jaelle also developed and taught courses in the Pacific Northwest, Hawaii and Kathmandu, Nepal that dealt with spirituality and politics and spirituality and religion, as well as authentic leadership, civic engagement and knowing one’s self. Jaelle taught skills that enabled students to be global citizens and to connect in a meaningful way to community, nation and the world. In brief, students learned how to access their most creative, authentic, integral self to empower them to solve civic problems.
Jaelle has a Master’s in Communicology from the University of Hawaii, Manoa and studied Political Communication (ABD) at the University of Washington.
“You take up the path only when you think that you cannot do otherwise.”
Even as we advance spiritually, we are riding an undercurrent of human and environmental degradation that is pulling us farther and farther out to sea. There are many voices in our world telling us to swim diagonally with the shoreline to get out of the undercurrent, so we don’t drown. The answers are here, in this world, at this time; some have already manifested, and others are waiting to be discovered, or right in front of our faces. Grace is at work everywhere. We can change the direction we’re swimming through this political and spiritual abyss. We can enter a new discourse about how the world can be more congruent with our values and how society can be more caring and just.
Spirituality and religion need to be part and parcel of the discussion. All religions have a Divine thread that runs through them and with this Divine thread we can reweave the web of life. We’ve got to talk, not shout, about politics; it’s not about running for or holding a political office. It is about choosing to be civically engaged.Our democracy depends on an informed and engaged citizenry, one that acquires the knowledge and skills needed to become actively involved.
There is a growing recognition that we must actually become conscious participants in the unfolding and direction of the evolutionary process of our world so we can better and more fully serve our communities. Even when faced with the difficulties of life, it is time to truly live up to our potential and joyfully participate. When we work for the greater good, there is a great future for us and a higher likelihood of humanity not just surviving but thriving, not from technological advancements, but from living in harmony with each other and the earth. Additionally, if we are to save our nation, we must be able to understand our culture and all its diversity. We must also be able to understand ourselves. If we don’t understand ourselves, others and our society, we will diminish our ability to live healthy productive lives.
It’s time to roll up our sleeves, wipe off the cobwebs, and dust off the years of accumulated feelings of political disempowerment. Some of us have been hiding out, preparing for what, we aren’t sure. We just had a deep sense that things were shaking out on all levels. Perhaps we needed to go through a sort of metamorphosis before we could help this world that we hold dear, this world that holds us dear. Now, the time of being in the rich fluid inside the chrysalis is over, our imaginal cells have turned from the caterpillar into the butterfly. Still, it takes time to grasp that we are indeed in an upward spiral, so we have to go back around until we embody the inevitable –– we have our wings, we have to fly.
The earth needs us. We all need us, to give something and give up something, to save the world. What we give will be something we already have even if we don’t yet know what that is. To give something we don’t have is quite exhausting and quite frankly, we don’t have time to be tired. Fatigue is, after all, due to the disequilibrium between the spirit and the physical. What we have to give up are our fears, remorse, bitterness, victimization, anger; our stories that keep us imprisoned in the way things are.
In 2000, I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal and taught Communication courses at Malpi International College to Nepali students. They had three questions for a person from the United States of America. “Are you divorced?” “Have you ever been sued, or have you ever sued someone?” And the last question was deeply disturbing and the most difficult to answer. “You live in the richest country in the world, so why do you have homeless people?”
Why, indeed? My answer was, “I don’t know.” That was my answer, “I don’t know.” I could have given a lecture on why capitalism needs homeless, demands actually, but all I said was “I don’t know.” It wasn’t curative for my students or for myself. In Nepal, a developing country, there are many that live in abject poverty and many that live in the streets. One dark night, on my way to visit a Buddhist monk in Thamal, I saw under a dim street lamp that cast a yellowish hue, a mother and her two children, a little girl, perhaps three-years-old and a baby clutched to her chest. I gave her what rupees I had on me, not much, not enough. She didn’t look at me and I didn’t look back. What the monk and I talked about that night, I can’t remember. All I could think of were the faces of those three sitting on a cold slab of concrete risking their lives for a few rupees, mostly because the Nepal government couldn’t take care of them, there wasn’t enough. But in the United States, the leader of the free world, with a Gross Domestic Product almost a thousand time greater than that of Nepal––our children, our sisters and mothers, our brothers and fathers, are sitting on the streets.
In March 2019, Forbes announced that there are record-breaking number of billionaires in the U.S: 607. Fourteen of the world’s twentieth richest live in the United States. https://www.forbes.com/billionaires/#3657260b251c
According to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) there are 552,830 homeless. One third of those are families. The count may be higher as this discounts many. The National Alliance to End Homelessness suggests that there may be as many as three million that are homeless. The Bread for the World Institute says worldwide six million children die each year mostly from hunger related causes and in the U.S., 16.7 million children live in homes where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet and in developing countries over 800 million people go to bed hungry every night. Something is not right. John Gastil, professor at the University of Washington in Seattle, writes, “There are two problems in American politics. The first problem is that the public doesn't believe that the government represents its interests. The second problem is that they are right.” Even Bill Gates is asking the existential question, “…should you have billionaires?” https://www.forbes.com/sites/randalllane/2019/3/4/reimagining-capitalism-how-the-greatest-system-ever-conceivedand-its-billionairesneed-to-change/#5161d83264c8
I wanted to make sure my Nepali students (and myself) knew that United States citizens were sensitive to the homelessness in our country. That as a Christian based nation whose religion teaches “Love they neighbor as thyself,” surely, surely we care for others. That if we could we’d make sure that everyone was housed and fed. So why can’t we? Why don’t we? And how does this seemingly apathetic movement of the soul affect our spiritual growth?
There is a lacuna between our spiritual life and our political life. Comparatively, in our culture it’s easy being a political being, it’s difficult being a spiritual being and building the bridge between the two is often daunting. As Gandhi said, “Men say I am a saint losing myself in politics. The fact is I am a politician trying my hardest to be a saint.” There is dissonance in our ethical beliefs and values and the way we live our lives and this dissonance is like an itchy wool sweater––we can’t wait to get it off.
As the Iraq war loomed, I left my Ph.D. program because I could not sit idly by while mothers and fathers prepared their children to die. C.P. Snow said, “More hideous crimes have been committed in the name of obedience than in the name of rebellion.” I had to do something. I went to San Francisco and volunteered at A.N.S.W.E.R., then New York where I volunteered for several non-profits including the Gere Foundation that brought the Dalai Lama to NYC and I volunteered for the Kucinich for President campaign and ultimately ended up being on staff. Dennis Kucinich held my values: no war, no children dying. My efforts obviously didn’t stop the war, but my soul stayed intact.
Today, the United States is involved in numerous wars: Iraq, Syria, Niger, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan/Afghanistan, Russia/Ukraine. Known officially as the “Report on the Legal and Policy Frameworks Guiding the United States’ Military Force and Related National Security Operations,” the document is part of a new requirement outlined in the 2018 defense spending bill. According to the unclassified 2021 document, although U.S. forces withdrew from Afghanistan completely in August, 2021, it “did not change the legal and policy frameworks for the use of military force in Afghanistan.” With the volleying of nuclear threats between U.S. and Russia, are we prepared to say, “No,” to yet another war or are we Pavlov’s dogs, salivating as the U.S. government creates conditioned reflexes in us and we respond, not fully understanding our response, but with a nagging feeling that our response is not authentic, not truly from our integrity, not spiritually based?
I have great faith in humankind that given a clear alternative, people will respond from their hearts not their fears. That a clear alternative will arise out of a compassionate revolution, as Jean Bolin said, “out of love for, rather than outrage against,” and that a compassionate revolution will heal the homeland of humanity.
I love the U.S.A., this land, these people. I know their goodness. I have traveled across the U.S. and talked with people from all walks of life, from all sides of issues, from all levels of complexity, and it boils down to this: United States citizens are caring, kind people who, when given the tools will act out of compassion. They are hungry for peace. They are trying to put into practice deep human values. They are extraordinary people and a tremendous strength to this country. But they need a radical (from the roots) revolution, a Gandhi-isk, compassionate revolution to fulfill their human potential.
The time is ripe for a barn raising of a new world where all can take refuge. As has been said many times before, "If not you, who? If not now, when?" Will we answer the call of our souls to action, so that in the nights to come there will be no need for any mother or father to prepare their children to die?
We're standing on the precipice of something great. We can feel it. If we thread our understanding of what is with what is beyond our understanding, we can weave a tapestry of awakening. Mythologist and storyteller Michael Meade informs us, “There’s no room for you to stand on the sidelines watching. If you can talk you can sing, if you can walk you can dance, if you can move you can drum. And then after all that singing and dancing, and drumming, you can say, I showed up for my life.” We have been charged with the earth’s destiny. A shiver of truth runs through my bones. I trust through yours too.
CHAPTER ONE: GET OUT THE ECHINACEA AND GOLDENSEAL, I FEEL A REVELATION COMING ON
These are our times and our responsibilities. It is our sacred duty to protect the welfare of Mother Earth and all sentient beings.At this time when the world seems less predictable, less secure, and less dependable, few are engaged in politics, the very fulcrum from which civil society rests. On the other hand, there is a cry for community and a need to deliberate in our communities, our nation, and our world. Our sovereignty depends on citizens internalizing responsibility for themselves and others and accepting that we have collectively created a society that works for very few, if even those.
We can no longer live in denial that we are both political and spiritual beings. Many already know this and are diligently working for a better world. They need our help. Our political systems are failing so like it or not, we’ve been handed a lesson and when we have a lesson, there is nothing to do but go through it. Our government’s disproportionate misuse of power and its inability to respond to not only our physical needs but also our cultural needs has given us an opportunity to gain a new level of tolerance, patience, and understanding and further develop our capacity for compassion, equanimity and altruism. Additionally, we have an opportunity to live our values and help others live in ways that are congruent with theirs.
Where as a nation are we headed? We already know. We can see the future––it’s dark and ominous and casts its shadow over everything. It is full of hate and fear and violence but it doesn’t have to stay this way. There is a legend from the Cherokee nation about the war within and profound spiritual growth.
A Grandfather was telling his grandson. "A fight is going on inside me. It is a terrible fight between two wolves. One wolf is evil, unhappy, and ugly. He is anger, envy, war, greed, selfishness, sorrow, regret, guilt, resentment, false pride, coarseness, and arrogance. He spreads lies, deceit, fear, hatred, blame, scarcity, poverty, and divisiveness." Grandfather paused. "The other wolf is beautiful and good. He is friendly, joyful, loving, worthy, serene, humble, kind, benevolent, just, fair, generous, honest, grateful, compassionate, brave, and inspiring, resting wholeheartedly in deep vision beyond ordinary wisdom. The grandson thought about it for a minute then asked, “Grandfather, which wolf will win?" The elder Cherokee replied, "The wolf that I feed."
In the days ahead, what will we feed? Who will win inside of us? When will we rest wholeheartedly in a deep vision beyond ordinary wisdom?
We’ve chosen a worthy opponent with which to learn our lesson. We’ve chosen the first wolf inside grandfather: greed, arrogance, war and so on that spreads lies, deceit, fear, blame, scarcity, poverty, divisiveness. We are lucky. “Worthy opponents teach us to grow into our potential.” We have given ourselves an opportunity. We can feel it. It’s like fine china between sandpaper. We’re probably going to scratch things up a bit. Growth is difficult. It’s okay to make mistakes. They are signs of courageous risk-taking, not incompetence.
Unfortunately, we’re in a hurry. Mark Twain said, “Hurry isn’t of the devil, it is the devil.” We’re in a hurry because ecological and economical disasters eat at our tables, drink our good water, and sleep with us at night. There is urgency around human conditions of poverty, hunger, and homelessness. It’s not to say that these are not problems that need a swift but thoughtful decision to stop the suffering, but rather, the point is that urgency contracts the mind. It is visceral. We can feel it in our hearts and it makes us shrink back in fear and stops the solutions from coming forward. When we’re contracted in fear, we react instead of act.
Urgency is not what we need but expansiveness; expansiveness of the mind and heart, so that raw, new energy floods into our consciousness with ideas, solutions and ways of being: new ideas about energy, agriculture, governance, new solutions to adequate water and food, and new ways of being global citizens creating a culture of peace on this earth in this incredible time.
Cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien informs us of another culture’s way of dealing with fear. When a child of the Maasai people of Kenya and northern Tanzania becomes frightened, an adult gently reminds the child, “Go deeper. Get Bigger. Not smaller.” Fear makes us smaller. To expand, we need to go deeper, get bigger. When we experience, hear and/or see the problems of the world, it does no good to go to a place of fear. Instead, go deeper inside to prayer or meditation and bring the expansiveness of love to the situation. In the ancient technology and revitalized science of healing, Wisdom Healing Qigong provides us with a practice of expansion of the energetic body, mind and spirit into the formless, into the unlimited potential, and enables us to bring in healing energy to the form, that is, to the material manifestations including sentient beings and the earth. Meditation teaches us to go inward to silence and to expand the consciousness outward. How we can find God if we go smaller? God is the unfathomable, the infinity, and the ineffable. We can only experience that that we become. In Dakini’s Warm Breath: The Feminine Principle in Tibetan Buddhism, Judith Simmer-Brown writes, “Pay less attention to the problem and more to its antidote. Devote your attention, thoughts, feelings and actions to the service of that which you admire and adore. Then the difficult pattern will atrophy and disappear.” Expansion of the mind provides us with a broader perspective on the human experience and enhances Truth, therefore the solutions to today’s problems are in us, waiting to be discovered and every Truth that comes brings change.
Distancing Ourselves from Politics
Political systems at all levels of our lives and for a variety of reasons are often corrupt, therefore many citizens want to distance themselves from politics as much as possible. They believe it makes their spiritual life more comfortable. However as much as we try to distance ourselves from politics, we are political beings nonetheless. As political beings, we buy government sanctioned licenses so we can open and run businesses, get married and divorced, drive automobiles, and legitimize our lives either as newborn babies or new immigrant citizens. We pay taxes for an infrastructure and for military protection. We are political consumers. We “vote” with our dollars. When we shop at markets that care about their employees and the people that manufactured the purchased goods, we support workers and their right to good paying jobs and safe working environments. When we eat foods low on the food chain and buy organic, we are voting for a sustainable agricultural system and a healthy environment. When we buy foods sprayed with chemicals, we are voting for pollution of our foods, land and water. When we buy local, we are voting for small farmers, less use of market-to-market petroleum and a more sustainable local economy. When we buy at “big boxes”, we are voting to have local, small business merchants put out of business and for workers to have hand-to-mouth wages. The power of choice determines whether we live in a system of competition or cooperation, individualism or collaboration.
We live in an individualistic society. On Geert Hofsteade’s Model of Cultural Dimensions that measured five dimensions: 1) Power distance, 2) Individualism, 3) Masculinity, 4) Uncertainty avoidance and 5) Long-term orientation, there are only seven countries whose highest scored dimension was individualism. The U.S. scored highest of all at 91 out of 100. Individualism is “the degree to which individuals are integrated into groups. The ties between people are loose.” In an individualistic culture, a person is expected to look out for themselves and their immediate family members. “Behind closed doors”, “pull yourself up with your bootstraps” and “go it alone” are common sayings indicative of an individualistic country.
The “lone wolf” metaphor provided us with what was once thought of as valiant and courageous, even more, mythic; demanding nothing of anyone nor expecting anything, and not expecting anyone to ask for anything in return. It stood for the ultimate freedom. However, as our Hopi Elder told us, “The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves.”
We aren’t nor ever were lone wolves. Historically, we’ve had to live in groups to protect ourselves. It was interaction with others that created a dynamism that helped our brains go from lower level thinking to higher cognitive functioning. Living in community made our brains work. We had to figure out who were and how to be the best hunters, the best fire starters and the best healers to survive. Then as now, we didn’t want separateness, we wanted, even needed, community. We sat in circles around campfires and shared food and when we evolved to speak, we shared stories. The perverted portrayal of individuality is a modern day concept perpetuated by the movie industries’ idea of the Western cowboy riding his horse on the high plains––alone. But even in the days of the “wild West”, cowboys didn’t travel alone, that would have been risky business. Even the notorious Tom Horn had a sidekick. They needed and had each other’s backs.
For a while on our evolutionary projection, we needed healthy individuality. Individualization was necessary for our development spiritually, mentally and physically. Spiritually this individuation was a way to experience ourselves separate from the group and recognizing our separateness from each other, we also recognized our separateness from our Creator and this longing we feel inside ourselves is our own soul asking to be reconnected. Once realizing this disconnectedness and striving for it, individuation helped us develop and express our individual relationship with God and nature. Creating new pathways to the universal life force enlivened the universe, the earth, and us.
Individualization helped us perceive and appreciate our individual traits and creativity. We’ve known for a long time that our fingerprints are each uniquely our own. Now, neuroscientists have concluded that everyone’s brain is different and unique to the individual. There are common structures and functions but how these areas of our brains interconnect and perform is highly variable from one person to the next. Everything about us is unique including our experience of being in this body on this planet at this time. Mother Nature abhors not only a vacuum, but also redundancy. Each of us, with our uniqueness revitalizes the very universe we live in.
Physically individuated we developed the desire to be faster, stronger, more intelligent and so forth. We found ways to accomplish this. It also created the deep need for competition rather than collaboration.
However, we took individualism too far. “Behind closed doors” came to mean that we turned and looked the other way when it came to spousal and child abuse in its many forms and also hunger and homelessness. We no longer made sure that everyone had a full stomach before going to bed. Rape became something we didn’t talk about. People stopped asking for help from anyone, including God. The safety net of communal living disintegrated. We lived, and still do, surrounded by the contradictions between values and behaviors. Fortunately, when we uncover the conflicts inherent in our society and our outer choices match our values, energy formerly tied up in contradictions will become available for creative problem solving.
Our livelihood, our ability to put food on our tables, and our spiritual lives depend on collaborative living. An integration of collectivism: “societies in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, often extended families (with uncles, aunts and grandparents) which continue protecting them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty” and individualism is the balance we are looking for.W. S. Merwin said it all; "The great arrogance of ourselves as individuals is to cling to separation." When we throw our individualistic society on the ash heap of evolution, we will once again ask for God’s help with everything. And we need it.
We are communal beings and to have community means we are political beings also, but our politicians aren’t listening to us so, we feel stuck, unheard, and depressed. We’re politically oppressed and psychologically depressed, repressed with anger, sadness, and feeling ineffectual in our lives. In our fear based depression we tell ourselves: “There’s just nothing we can do.” “It’s too big.” “They’re too powerful.” “It’s been going on for years, it will never change.”
House of Cards
We have a gnawing feeling that things aren’t right in any sphere of our lives. Everywhere we turn there is more ecological and environmental devastation. Our waters are polluted. Our oceans are dying and with them the multitudes of aquatic beings. The five gyres in the oceans are filling up with plastic from our shores. The Pacific Ocean’s gyre has a trash dump the size of the state of Texas. Our economic system of imperial globalization that was once touted as the end-all-be-all to rid the world of poverty is exposed for what it is, yet another way for a few to get richer and the marginalized poor to get poorer. Our economy may not withstand the divisiveness of governmental in-house fighting as our nation is unfathomably in debt. As for voting, we might as well have a closed bid auction and the office goes to the highest bidder. There is widespread, deep dissatisfaction with government. For the above reasons, and even more not mentioned here, people distance themselves from politics. Is it any wonder?
An Alien World
Many people feel like this world is not their home and that they’ve mistakenly gotten dropped off on the wrong planet. Let’s frame that a different way. Humans are an expression of the universe. If you are in this world at this time then you’re in the right place. If you feel like you don’t belong here perhaps it is because our systems don’t fit our world; our systems don’t follow our moral compass. Our inner knowing informs us that our systems are off course, in fact, so off course that it seems that we may never find the heavenly stars to chart our way back.
If we feel like our world is alien, maybe it’s because it makes no sense to our rational minds nor our compassionate hearts to place people including our progeny at the edges of our society and leave them there without adequate food or shelter. Perhaps we feel alienated from this world because our educational system has stripped students of their creativity and adopted a fast track to, not just dumb down, but also to numb down. Perhaps we can’t wrap our minds or our hearts around the fact that corporations have bought our government and this has ended any assemblance of a democracy. Perhaps it makes no sense because we have falsely inflated our place in the ecosystem. We are living in a system where everything is a commodity so nothing is sacred. Nothing is magical. There is no mystery. Our movies have become our new mythology. We are dying from the inside out.
Perhaps we feel alienated because our government continues to perpetuate war when it makes no sense. We are not designed for it. Our psychological makeup is easily shattered. Our soul, left in tatters, takes years of forgetting and forgiving to bring it back to stasis. If it even can. We are fighting wars for reasons that are obscure and even fraudulent. Those who have served in our military are treated badly. Nothing makes sense. There is nothing in our hearts that understands why our systems are the way they are. We’ve created an economic, political and social system that doesn’t fit our needs or our values and we can’t get out from under the heavy weight of feeling out of balance with our integral self. Thus, we feel like we don’t belong and long to “get off this planet”. It’s not that our world is alien; it is that our systems are alien to the very fiber of our beings and we’re recognizing that. We are becoming awake.
As we awaken we revitalize our world. Since what we think we become, we need to overcome our fear that if we live our full potential, then our lives will have to change. We may hope that our purpose will fit nicely into the life we now have but our purpose may be so awesome, that we’ve never even imagined it. The willingness to say, “I commit to this,” allows spirit to organize our experiences to bring this about. When we want to, desire to, fulfill our life’s purpose, our life will change. We will be propelled into a richer, if not more demanding life. Our lives are changing and we can, if we embrace the fullness of our spirituality, change the entire organism of humanity. As Nietzsche said, “Live as though the day were here.” To grow spiritually we need to live authentic lives. To live authentically means to live in harmony. Values, beliefs and behaviors are congruent. There is a match. To be authentic means to be who we truly are.
Peace, Love, Compassion: The Teachings of Jesus
You may be a practicing Buddhist, Muslim, Taoist, Wiccan, or walking the Good Red Road but if you have lived most of your life in a country where Christianity is the predominate religion, such as the United States, then you are a cultural Christian. What this means is you know the Christian stories, myths, icons and so forth and you live your lives directed by those, knowingly or unknowingly. Some of those stories and some of the Christian dogma present humankind as inherently sinful (Original Sin) and disconnected from God. Let’s look at Christianity from another perspective.
Jesus never wrote a word of his teachings and neither did his disciples. As were the times, they committed Jesus’ teachings to memory. It wasn’t until forty years after Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection that Paul (a.k.a. Saul) saw a vision of Jesus on the road and began writing the New Testament and Paul’s writings greatly influenced every book of the Bible that followed. Paul wrote about persecution, crucifixion and redemption which, as Leonard Schlain points out, “was then substantiated by the church and supported by the government who gave the Orthodox Christians the power to use the army and the police to destroy the Christian Gnostics who were following Jesus’ teachings of nonviolence.” Everything that is recorded in the Bible that is concerned with what Jesus said pertained to the qualities of love, compassion, equality, and mercy.
As cultural Christians or practicing Christians, we rarely learn that Jesus taught nonviolence. However, Jesus of Nazareth didn’t preach persecution, crucifixion and resurrection. His life was exemplified by love, understanding and compassion. Jesus was a revolutionist. He taught nonviolence when political and religious leaders were proclaiming an eye for an eye. He taught to turn the other cheek and to love your neighbor as yourself. In Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus, neighbor meant anyone you ever thought of. Even your enemies.
Unlike those that worship today’s golden calves, Jesus of Nazareth was indifferent to power and wealth. “He spoke out about the hierarchical ordering of society. To Jesus, the poor, the disabled, and women were equal to the richest male slave owner. By word and deed, he exemplified a humanist credo.”. He taught us to be merciful and compassionate. His teachings were radical. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus provided us with instructions and…”methods for evaluation progress toward living the “Greatest” and “Second” Commandments––the keys to peace, life and health.” Jesus gave us the thread to mend a fraying societal fabric. “Love God with all your heart. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
The story of persecution, crucifixion and resurrection, is one of violence. Violence is the ethos and the mythos of the modern world. According to Walter Wink in The Myth of Redemptive Violence, “It [violence] has been accorded the status of a religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience to death.” However, because as a myth, violence does not seem to be mythic in the least, it simply appears to be in the nature of things. Appearance comes from Latin: ad plus parer––to come forth: that something is present and we perceive its presence. For W.S. Merwin, both the ground and the notions built on it are tenuous. Appearances are deceiving because of our way of looking at things impedes their coming forth. Our self-importance prevents us from seeing beyond what is. We are not inherently violent beings.
It would be worthy to continue the argument that we are not inherently violent, however, our history, religion, and mythologies do not support that argument. Still, there is nothing in the human physiology or psychology that marks us as stealthy war machines that would be unscathed in violent physical contact. Violence does not become us. So we evolved, as far as we know, to run faster, get stronger, and build war instruments that became war machines to protect ourselves. Collectively we’ve agreed that “an eye for an eye” is better than turn the other cheek. “Thou shall not kill” refers to everyone but the enemy. According to Walter Wink, “The myth of redemptive violence is the simplest, laziest, most exciting, uncomplicated, irrational, and primitive depiction of evil the world has ever known.” And thus, we perpetuate violence in our hearts. However, the bottom line is; we’re these wonderful, incredible, spiritual human beings caught up in the dogmatism of “an eye for an eye”.
If War is the Answer, Please Restate the Question
War is easier to envision than peace because peace is internal. Some say peace isn’t possible. They can’t stretch their minds around having peace on earth. However, war is not a solution, not a viable option. We don’t resort to war when left to our own devices. Humans synthesize. Marriages between people of warring nations are commonplace. Israelis marry Palestinians, Afghanis marry Russians, Guatemalans marry Mexicans and Native Americans marry Europeans. The heart doesn’t know the “other”. It can’t see black or brown or white. It knows no difference between Jewish and German. Those distinctions are made by our egos.
We need to empty ourselves of outmoded beliefs. We can be peaceful. Prem Rawat informs us that, “Each one of us, wherever you are, whatever you do, your heart won’t let you alone, because it wants peace. Be sincere to this existence. Find your reality, your courage, and your possibility in being in joy, the peace that you are that needs to be.” If war were the answer, we wouldn’t still be looking for peace.
We live in an electromagnetic field full of vibrant energy. It has been popularized that thoughts create reality; we are responsible for our lives. This is true to some extent, however, it is not the complete truth. We are creating with the universe. We are a vital component but not the totality of manifestation of the unfolding of the universe. That said, whatever we give the most attention to, the most energy to, will manifest. It has no option. If we want a society that takes care of our children, we can’t re-conceptualize a government policy that leaves children out in the cold. If we don’t want a mechanistic worldview where everything is seen as a machine (nature, our bodies, the world), we have to visualize and work towards one of interconnectedness. We have options. We can turn outwardly with contempt and violence or inwardly with love and compassion. All thoughts create the electromagnetic field that surrounds us. We are far from powerless.
We’re on an evolutionary projection, perhaps more than just physical in nature, conceivably noetic—a transformation or mutation of consciousness, a revolution of humankind. To take this step, we can’t sidestep our reality that we are of the material. Some believe that the material world is an illusion. Thus we needn’t concern ourselves with our political doings. What is the relationship between reality and the illusion? By what miracle or mystery does the illusion come to be or how does it manage to appear or to abide in Time forever? According to Sri Aurobindo of India, if God created everything, then this illusion must have been the creator’s handiwork also. The material world is an illusion only if we consider it finite and unfixable. After all, it is all energy, infinite and changeable; on some levels it is subtle, on others dense, but changeable, fixable, and healable nonetheless. Scientific technology is only beginning to be able to measure the subtle energy, only beginning to prove to our egoic minds what Buddha and others said over two thousand years ago; we are all One. Our very growth spiritually depends on how we live our lives politically.
It’s going to take more than merely voting every other year, or subscribing to an alternative magazine to change the world. We need a radical revolution of both politics and spirit. A rebel crashes into a wall over and over and carries the battle wounds of resistance. On the other hand, a revolutionary jumps somewhat unscathed over the wall and changes the world in fundamental ways. H. L. Menken says a radical is, “one who likes his country more than the rest of us, and is thus more disturbed than the rest when he sees it debauched. He is not a bad citizen turning to crime; he is a good citizen driven to despair.”
To be revolutionary in the way we think, communicate, relate to others, and build social systems and governments will take more than political prowess. It will take a deep, integrated and even cellular understanding of how as conscious co-creators and planetary citizens the world works. We need a radical, revolutionary shift. We need to change our world fundamentally to create systems that work for everyone. We need a change both in the political and spiritual spheres. But we have another problem. Spirituality has an innate tendency to want to escape from reality. According to David Tracy, author of Remaking Men; Jung, Spirituality and Social Change, “If spirituality is to be authentic and socially transformative, this innate tendency has to be arrested and spirituality must be politicized and linked with the social and historical process.” Given our responsibility to protect the world, will we take our spirituality and run to the nearest cave to be an ascetic? Will we act as if there is nothing to be done but “be”? Not if we extract ourselves from our self-imposed beliefs that have kept us captive in the bowels of suffering, intolerance and hatred, and replace it with an accurate one. One that dissolves misinformation and replaces it with the only truly accurate assessment of who we are––love. Then we will be more productive, more creative, and more peaceful than perhaps we’ve ever been.
The majority of citizens are not involved in politics by voting, or running for office or by protesting. We are removed from the very fulcrum from which fundamental social change can occur. In Making Democracy Work, Robert Putnam said that in Italy, the areas most economically productive and politically effective are those with the strongest infrastructure of civil society. And he warned us that in the U.S., a decline of civil society should be seen as a sign of economic and political decline. We’ve hit pay dirt. We are there. Growing unmet needs in a spiraling down economy should propel people to be deliberating in their communities as dissonance grows between wanting cheap goods and resources and the belief that we value human life. It is a fatalistic practice to not be civically engaged in all aspects of life. We’ve been too obedient. Unless we form civil governance now, our big corporate government could (and does) place human life at the bottom of any economic, thus human rights, equation. Francis Fukuyama wrote, in The Great Disruption," Modern democracy really has to depend on active civil society where everything is not organized by the government.” Our sovereignty will depend on citizens internalizing responsibility for and accepting the need to liberate themselves from cultural mores that have partnered in the loss of democracy.
The real question today is, are we ready to put into place and practice a new paradigm, a new way of governing, a new social order? The question is not if the current political system can sustain itself, the question is will we be ready when it fails? As one of Nepal’s leading anthropologists, Dor Bahadur Bista, said of his own government, and we can echo the same of our government: “It's like watching a full-bellied mosquito fly off your blood sucked arm. You know it is having trouble flying, you know it will die.” Are we ready to implement a new humane economic and social plan when the time comes? Have we set up the political to interface with morality that has to do with spiritual matters? Are we ready to save our souls?
It’s not enough that we build super-transporters, super thin televisions, super iPods, super computers or super cell phones. It’s not enough to add more laws to the books. As both political and spiritual beings, intimately connected, we need to understand our true purpose of existence on this planet at this time. Some of the world’s greatest heroes, Gandhi, Sri Aurobindo, Martin Luther King, Jr., Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, Muhammad, Joan of Arc, Jesus of Nazareth, and Vaclav Havel wove the political and the spiritual together. We are being asked to take a greater role in the changing of our political and spiritual paradigms if we are to avoid a human-made global disaster.
The Caring Nature of a Spiritually Based Political System
Politically, we tend to rely on intelligence to solve societal problems and govern the populace. However, Descartes’ axiom, “I think, therefore I am,” is a limited and inappropriate concept. At the fundamental level of policymaking, for far too long, the theoretical ideals of the mind have ruled while the compassion of the heart has been pushed aside. An alternative form of governance that allows the heart to rule will be a revolution in consciousness that will turn things inside out by asking that people take responsibility for their actions by supporting a system that values all life including planet earth’s. A consciousness that turns inward towards one’s own sense of inner peace. A consciousness that elevates spirituality to its rightful place––a power greater than intellectuality.
The caring nature of a spiritually based political paradigm will give us courage and determination to reshape our lives and bring about a new world. We will be drawing power from a moral force of character that comes from making choices from a consciousness of global responsibility. We are our sisters’ and brothers’ keepers. With spirituality in the equation, we will embrace an ethic of caring for all and an honoring of the interconnectedness of all life. Our values, beliefs, and actions will be congruent. We will be authentic. By being authentic, we can gain power and leadership.
Today, unauthentic power and power relations are woven throughout all our society. Today, our social order relies on the ability of one person or group to have power over and thus the ability to coerce another person or group. This is the basis of law for the authorized use of force by our sanctioned police state. In our society, power is possessed by the state, classes or individuals, is centralized from top down and is primarily repressive. In fact, the great irony, as French philosopher, Michel Foucault pointed out, is that the limitations of the constraints of such a system are so intimately part of our experience of life that we no longer experience them as limitations but rather, embrace them as normal and natural human behavior and thus we uphold the system.
In the 1970s, Foucault introduced another kind of power. Foucault’s conception of power goes beyond the narrow judicial view that defines power as based in law. He theorized that at any given time all people are exercising power, and all are subjected to the power of another, “always in a position of simultaneously undergoing and exercising this power.” Foucault argued that power is not possessed but is practiced. In other words, it is not a "real" thing but is formed through communication and knowledge. In contrast to today’s usual concept of power based on illegitimate authority, Foucault's alternative conception maintains that power is exercised rather than possessed, productive, as well as repressive, and arises from the bottom up.
Power to the People
“The biggest shifts of our time have been sparked by ordinary people rejecting the cultural stories that dominated them” There have been many instances in history where bottom-up power has created the defining movements that have changed societies dramatically. For example, the fight for independence of Mahatma Gandhi, the Velvet Revolution of Czechoslovakia’s Vaclav Havel, and the grassroots revolutions that toppled the Marcos regime in the Philippines, overthrew the Shah of Iran; crumbled the Berlin Wall; and brought down South Africa Apartheid. The heroic people of Vietnam “demonstrated to the world, to every revolutionary and all people confronted with imperialism, how even with modern technology, a stronger and massive weaponry and even with a coalition of forces well armed like those deployed by the USA in Vietnam it’s impossible to break down revolutionary movement and guerilla warfare supported by the people.”
Nationally, the bottom-up power emancipated women; gave minorities civil rights and established the variety of environmental and feminist movements. David Korten writes about the social movements of the 20th century as awakened consciousness: “The global awakening creates the opportunity for the first time in 5,000 years to consign the dominator structures of Empire to the dustbin of history, bring forth a New Economy, and complete the human transition to full-fledged democracy and Earth Community. ”
Power of the Soul
Every human being is unique and extremely complex. Not only are our fingerprints unique to each individual, but neuroscientists have found that the brain is unique as well. As with the rest of the body, there are commonalities in structure and function, but for each of us, our brain’s interconnections and performance are highly variable from one person to the next. The same is evident in the way we approach our spiritual lives, how we take up the path. No one way is right for everyone. Sri Aurobindo wrote, “When nature created the human being with all its possibilities for good or ill, she knew very well what she was about. Freedom for experiment in human life is a great thing. Without freedom to take risks and commit mistakes, there can be no progress.” It is a grave mistake to believe that our way is the only way, that our path is the only path. We never know who is the leaven of society. It might very well be the “other”. The power of our soul lies in its freedom to sincerely and with great devotion stay on the path that we’ve chosen without proselytizing or condemning others. The power of the soul then lies in our ability to maintain our connection to God, to the Divinity without allowing the pettiness and fears of the mind to interfere.
One of the great conundrums of life is that it is our nature to hide our true nature from ourselves. When we hide our true nature from ourselves, we get attached to our intellect and we begin to believe “that every brilliant idea is also a luminous idea. It can with equal vigor trump up argument for and against God: it has no infallible sense of truth…generally impressed by any show of power and is willing to see in it the Godlike.” An elder of the Coos Nation in Oregon said, “Innocence is not knowing. Ignorance is knowing and not doing anything about it.” We can feel it in our bones when we’re too attached to our intellect. It is the independent life of the soul, separate from our intellect, that has power.
What is authentic power? “To be intimately engaged with the world is the experience of authentic power. It is through this universal interest (the opposite of self-interest) that authentic leaders recognize that their interests are connected to the interests of everyone and everything on the planet.” Recognizing our inter- connectedness awakens within us our extraordinary consciousness, not the ordinary consciousness that abuses power, that controls and represses. In The Path of the Priestess: A Guidebook for Awakening the Divine Feminine, Sharron Rose tells us that real [authentic] power is “about flexibility and clarity in the midst of chaos. It is the ability to relax in the face of danger, so that we can perceive the situation and take appropriate action.” It is expansiveness of the mind in action.
From ancient wisdom of the East, we are instructed to not think with the head, but with the stomach. Thinking in the stomach gives us power. Neurobiologist Michael Gershon writes in The Second Brain: a Groundbreaking New Understanding of the Stomach and Intestine, “The brain in the bowel has evolved in pace with the brain in the head. We have more nerve cells in our gut than in the entire remainder of our peripheral nervous system. The enteric nervous system is also a vast chemical warehouse within which is represented every one of the classes of neurotransmitter found in the brain.” To think with the stomach, to bring our mental capacities down into the stomach, gives us calmness and strength. It is with these attributes that power is not possessed but productive.
By subscribing to the tenets of spirituality, the role of leadership is relegated to the sphere of caring. Authentic leadership operates from love, compassion and interconnectedness to all things. The strength of authentic leadership is gentleness. Chief Leonard Shenandoah of the Six Nations Iroquois Confederacy has this to say about what the greatest power is. “I myself have no power. It’s the people behind me who have the power. Real power comes only from the Creator. It’s in His hands. But if you’re asking about strength, not power, then I can say that the greatest strength is gentleness.”
Authentic leadership comes from the moral force of character. Mother Teresa’s moral force of character was stronger than that of the patriarchal Catholic Church. The moral force of Rosa Parks sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott. The moral force of Harriet Beecher Stowe, who President Lincoln called “the little lady that started the civil war”, awakened people to the injustices of slavery.
Authentic leaders exert their moral force at all times. According to Sharif Abdullah, “They are always interacting with people at the level of the deep knowledge of their moral energy. Being true to themselves, they are practicing and living their authenticity.” As we meld our spiritual lives with our political lives, we can look beyond the narrow base of our present beliefs and our limited vision of future possibilities. Indeed, from the core of our authentic selves we will claim our power, not the ability to dominate another, but the power of consciousness inherent within each of us: the power to change and to create a new, better world. By caring for all life and by recognizing our interconnectedness, we will gain authentic power and leadership. By subscribing to the tenants of spirituality, the role of leadership will be relegated to the sphere of caring. Authentic leadership will operate from Jesus’ teachings of peace, love, and compassion.
Reclaiming our souls
With the power of authenticity, those of us involved either directly or indirectly, with the destruction of Mother Earth, with the degradation of others or our own lives, and with the emptiness of our own souls, can reclaim those aspects of ourselves that we feel disconnected with and even embarrassed about. We can gain a vision of our true identity, one of total consciousness of life, maturation of the mind and soul and self-governance through the attainment of authentic power and leadership.
CHAPTER TWO: FROM POWERFUL TO PURPOSEFUL
God’s making use of you. You should be grateful. He’s found a use for you.
 Van Vrekh, Georges, 2000, The Mother, The Story of Her Life, Harper Collins, New Delhi, India  Civically engaged means positive citizen involvement in politics and social life.  International Monetary Fund, 2010.  HUD.gov. The latest available were 2008 statistics.  Gastil, John, By Popular Demand: Revitalizing Representative Democracy Through Deliberative Elections, 2000, U of California Press, Berkeley, CA.  Nagler, Michael N., Hope Or Terror? Gandhi and the Other 9/11.  A national coalition, Act Now to Stop War and End Racism. Answercoalition.org  Echinacea and Golden Seal are herbs used to enhance the immune system. In his latest book, We Need Each Other: building gift community, 2011, ManKind co-founder, Bill Kauth with his wife, Zoe Alowan state, “Gaia is ailing and we are the immune system!” No matter how wonderful, inspiring and momentous our revelations are, we are going to be asked to go far beyond our current best selves. We will need all the help we can get.  These first two sentences are borrowed from a wise elder. They were etched on a scrap of paper without the name of the giver. For this, I extend great apologies and thankfulness for your wisdom. They are fitting for this book; you must have known I’d need them.  www.firstpeople.us  Sams, Jamie, 1990, Sacred Path Cards. Harper, San Francisco, CA.  Jean Houston Foundation Social Artistry Conference, 2007. Ashland, Oregon. Angeles Arrien presented her work the Four-Fold Way program.  The term “God” includes Great Spirit, Allah, the Tao, Universal Life Force, Infinite Wisdom, the Source, and so forth. In this book, the interpretation is not limiting.  We have institutionalized love between people so that only those that fit into the confines of a very narrow view of gender can reap the benefits of a governmental sanctioned marriage.  www.geert-hofstede.com  This is part of a longer speech that is attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder from the Hopi Nation in Oraibi, Arizona.  Horn, Tom, New Edition, 1964, Life of Tom Horn: Government Scout and Interpreter, A Vindication. Tom Horn (1860-1903) was an American Old West lawman and an assassin. He was, some think unfairly, tried and hung in Colorado the day before his 43 birthday.  Tom Horn traveled with an African American cowboy and visited Frank Hughes and family on the plains of Wyoming. Personal interview for the Wyoming Historical Society, 1989.  www.geert-hofstede.com  United States Poet Laureate (2010-2011).  Personal conversation.  Iraq Veterans Against the War www.ivaw.org  Iraq Veterans Against the War www.ivaw.org  Schlain, Leonard, 1998, The Alphabet and the Goddess: the conflict between world and image. 249, Penguin Putnam, New York, New York.  Ibid., 248  Enlightenment: An Ancient Text of the Syriac (Aramaic) New Testament. Yonan Codex Foundation. Heartland Aramaic Mission.  Schlain, Leonard, The Alphabet and the Goddess: the conflict between word and image. 1998.  The Be-Attitudes From the Aramaic by the Yonan Codex Foundation.  Wink, Walter, 1992, The Myth of Redemptive Violence, Sojourners 21: 18-21.  Merwin, W.S., United States Poet Laureate (2010-2011)  Wink, Walter, 1992, The Myth of Redemptive Violence, Sojourners 21: 18-21.  Mahariji, Prem Rawat, The Prem Rawat Foundation. Keys 1 and 2. www.tprf.org  Ghose, Aurobinso, (Sri Aurobino), First published in America in 1990. The Life Divine, Book II.  Goodreads.com  Bista, Dor Bahadur, 1995, Fatalism and Politics, Kathmandu University Press, Kathmandu, Nepal.  Essential Works of Foucault, 1954-1984. Volume 3, edited by Paul Rabinow, New York: The New Press, 1997-9.  Foucault, Michel, 1988, Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge: Selected Interviews and Other Writings 1927-1977. Colin Gordon (Ed.) New York: Pantheon.  Korten, David, July, 2011, Every Great Social Movment, Yes Magazine.  Fidel Castro, 1965, YouTube, Fidel Castro in his own words.  Korten’s words are part of a series of blogs based on exerpts adapted from the 2nd edition of Agenda for a New Economy: From Phantom Wealth to Real Wealth.  The Mother (of Auroville), 1992, The Soul and Its Powers, compiled by Wayne Bloomquist. Lotus Light Pub., Twin Lakes, Wisconsin.  Personal interview, 1998, Coos Bay, Oregon.  Zukav, Gary, 1989, Seat of the Soul. Simon & Schuster, NY, NY .  Wall, Steve and Arden, Harvey, 1990, Wisdomkeepers: Meetings with Native American Spiritual Elders, Beyond Words Publishing, Hillsboro,Oregon.  Abdullah, Sharif, 1990. The Power of One: Authentic Leadership in Turbulent Times. Berrett-Koehler, San Francisco, California.