today is the first day of the Tikkun spiritual
activism conference. I'm in Berkeley staying in a room at a student center that has no
telephone but does have high speed internet connection. I'm not able to access my aol
account so if you have written to me at my firstname.lastname@example.org address I may
not respond until next Monday night late.
The question for the next few days will be how to bring peace and
love into the world, how to become effective in the so-called real world of
the social and political, how to bring true spirituality bubbling to the
surface for governments and corporations.
It is probably THE challenge to the spiritual collective, to find
true relevance in the way things happen in the world.
I ask your prayers and thoughts for the success of this conference,
that we lay a foundation for truth and beauty in the world to guide us
world of peace, love, caring, honesty, and would (sic) in which we
Copyright © 2005 by John MacEnulty
7/20/05, St. Louis, MO
the purpose of the Tikkun spiritual activism conference is to answer
the question "how to bring peace and love into the world". Hmmm...we
didn't realize it was all that difficult to figure out. As far as we
way to bring peace and love into
the world is to bring peace and love into the world yourself. Pretty radical concept, that one.
Why do you need a
activism conference to do that? If you want to bring peace and love
into the world, just do it. It's called setting
an example, being a role model, walking your talk, and practicing
what you preach. Isn't that enough?
It sure seems to us that these spiritual activists are missing a
spirituality, by its very
is its own activism.
This stuff about
become effective in the so-called real world of the social and
political" is just another case of what Yeshua ben Yusef (aka "J.C.")
was talking about in
|'How can you say to your
brother, "Brother, let me remove the splinter from your eye," when you
yourself don't see the log in your own eye? You hypocrite! First
take the log out of your own eye; then you will see clearly, so
that you can remove the splinter from your brother's eye!' Note_1
activists seem to be saying, "We want other
people to be more spiritual than
they are now." Well... OK, they're free to
want whatever they want, as long as they're prepared to accept the
price of wanting it and not getting it. If they stopped there, they
cross no moral boundary. But that's not where
they stop, and therein lies the rub.
The whole spiritual activism thing is about getting
other people to change their behavior. But
in the real world, the only time people
willingly change their behavior is when they WANT to do so. So, what
the spiritual activists are really saying is
that their purpose is to make other people want something other
than what they want now. And there's the heart of the spiritual
The purpose of
spiritual activism is to make other people want what the spiritual
...uh, that doesn't work. We're not talking about the means by which
they hope it will work. (Prayer is one method; "holding it in
consciousness" is a variant of the same thing.) It's not a
question of whether prayer works; rather, it's a question of whether
it's even morally appropriate to pray that people will want something
It's not. It's none of their business.
Besides, they're not smart enough
to know what other people should
want. No one is. What other people want is up to them, not up to some
activists. Here's a better kind of "should"—an actual principle:
The person who has to
live with the consequences of choosing
should be the one who gets to make the choice.
another way of saying it:
You can have all
authority for which you're willing to accept personal responsibility.
doesn't matter whether it's spiritual authority, professional
political authority, or any other kind of authority. If
you want authority without personal
responsibility for the consequences of using that authority, you are
part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Problem? What problem? Is there a problem?
Well, yeah. The problem is the universal belief that it's OK to
other people's lives. It's not OK. It's not OK to do it with guns,
it's not OK to do it via the legitimized coercion of political
states, and it's not OK to do it with prayer. Interference is still
interference; changing the instruments or methods of interference doesn't solve
The solution is simple: stop
interfering. It has nothing to do with
getting others to do anything. You can't solve a problem by
proliferating it. The way to
stop interfering is to stop interfering. Leave people alone.
probably a safe bet that at least some spiritual activists don't
consciously intend to interfere with others, but so what? If they
actually do interfere, their
intentions are irrelevant. Morally, they have no business being
concerned about what
other people want. That is the fundamental flaw in all forms of
political activism — and that's really what spiritual
activism is; it's the politics of religion. It's political activism in
Political activism in all its forms is essentially an assertion of
superiority. It's a de facto
statement to the rest of humanity
that the activist is more than they are — more wise
than, more judicious than, more spiritual than, more compassionate
than, more "environmentally conscious" than, more fiscally
responsible than, more politically correct than, more anything and
everything than — in other words, better than
In the most insidious cases of political activism, the activists get
state to do the interfering for them. They never have to get their
hands dirty or see the negative effects of their better-than
attitude, which makes it easy to maintain the self-delusion that they
positive instruments of social change. That's how they justify using
the coercive mechanism of the political state to compel others to do
what they want them to do. And then they call that "being enlightened".
We call it
we're into some serious blasphemy! What started out as a rant against
the politics of religion has turned into a rant against the religion of
politics. Dangerous ground, that. After all, politics is the most
ubiquitous religion on planet Earth.
Ah, well...let us now heed the comic relief...
boils it all down, doesn't it? The way you treat others will
tell them what's really
in your heart better than anything you
say. We know some people who precede their names with "Reverend" who
still haven't figured that one out.
True spirituality is its own activism. Just be the
example of what you think is so wonderful. If it's really
so wonderful, everyone who's ready to see it will see it. If they're
not ready, shoving it down their throats won't help. People usually
recognize what they want. It's not your job, our job, or anyone else's
"make" them want anything else.