How to Be a Spiritual Activist (updated)

A Heart with Copy Space

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines activism this way: a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue. I’ll focus on “a practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action.” Since oneness is a core precept of spirituality, the second part of the definition, “supporting or opposing one side of an issue,” does not seem to fit.

But can we be activists without taking sides when so much of the world begs us to take a stance, either for or against, on so many issues? Since all of life is one, what we call sides are simply different aspects of the one. All are contained in the one.

What if we simply be for love? Love is our essence, our divine nature. Love has no real opposite. We can be for love without being against anyone. Hate is not the opposite of love; it is simply the masking of love. Fear is not the opposite of love; it is turning away from love. Love is the core essence of who we are and what life is, the divine nature of all things.

When the master teacher Jesus instructed us to “love our enemies” he wasn’t saying love their behaviors or love their hateful speech. He was recognizing that the most powerful and transformational way we can respond to any situation is to bring love to it. We forget how powerful love is. We mistakenly think our best course of action is to force our “opponent” into submission. Remember that thing about “equal and opposite reactions”?

To be for love is to bring more love into all situations. Everything is made better with love. Everything is lifted up with love. When we have love in our hearts we see more clearly. Love points the way, allowing us to find common ground or a higher possibility. It points us to inclusion, fairness, and justice. It allows us to see beyond our biases, opinions, and judgments. It allows us to truly see our “enemies,” and they become real people. We see their fear, their anger, their hopes and dreams. Now they become much more human, much more like who we are.

It can be very destructive to believe our opinions are right. When we feel we are right, and we are guided by that notion, we are blinded to other points of view and we limit higher possibilities. Rather than being right, how about if we are true, true to love? Love doesn’t cast anyone out. Love doesn’t put us in opposition to anyone else. Love connects us.

The world doesn’t know the full potential of unconditional love because it has rarely been tried. My most poignant experience of this was watching a man whose whole family had been in the Ku Klux Klan break down and cry when he received so much love from a group of mostly African American workshop leaders. We had volunteered to be part of this workshop and go into a state penitentiary where it was offered to inmates. This man was an inmate and he shared how he had never really experienced love and never actually met a Black person. He had only learned hate from his family. How ironic it was that the first time he experienced unconditional love was from the group of people he had hated his whole life.

To me, being a spiritual activist is about vigorously acting from love, sharing love, and emanating love. We are not doormats in this new paradigm; in fact, we are using the most powerful force there is. And from this foundation of unconditional love, we speak our truth, we stand up for what love points us to, and we say “No!’ to anything unlike love. Yes, our human instinct is to fight our enemies and to destroy them, and yet we know this only creates further division. Love brings us closer and begins to dissolve the divisions, transcend differences, and open the possibility for higher, win-win solutions to problems.

5 Questions to Know If You Are Being a Spiritual Activist

  1. I am open to fully hearing the opinions of others, even when their opinions are contrary to mine?
  2. Do I easily love people regardless of whether they meet my expectations?
  3. Do I love and forgive people even when they do something hurtful to me?
  4. Do I open my heart and provide a space of love in difficult situations?
  5. Do I love and embrace those who seem very different from me?

If you answered yes or mostly yes to these questions, you are being quite the spiritual activist according to the definition put forth here. If not, perhaps there is an opening to expand your role as a conduit for love. In any case, our essence and nature is love. The question is, how true will we be to our nature?

Enjoy the journey.

1 Comment

  1. When Jesus was asked what His greatest commandments were, He replied “Love God. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Many people believe that loving one’s self is to be egotistical. It is actually a requirement before we can love others. The lack of self-love, self-respect, and self-assurance is the basis of many negative positions.

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