“A religion that takes no account of practical affairs and does not help to solve them is no religion.”~widely attributed to M.K. Ghandi
“I wonder if this is why so many people talk about being ‘spiritual’, and not religious?”~Pax
I was originally working on this as a response in the comment stream but it started to get unwieldy for such a venue and, really, what good is a blog unless one can rant upon it on topics that stir the passions?
So it all started with Thorn Coyle’s Facebook page where she posted about the MoveOn.Org political action to support Senator Bernie Sanders and speak out against tax breaks for billionaires…
(my Senators voicemail box is full, so I will at the least draft a polite e-mail and try calling back)
Anyhow, someone said,
“My new age friends think I’m driving myself away from the “Source” by being so involved in the negative energies of the political process. My feeling is the “Source” has “heart” and a sense of “righteousness” and holds Bernie Sanders very close to Itself. Where else did this 69 year old man get the energy to stay on his feet for 8 1/2 hours!?!”
I breathed a prayer of patience and replied,
” ______, I think its time to lovingly explain to your new age friends that some of our best exemplars did not retreat but engaged in the political process and even revolutionized it in the face of overwhelming negativity.
You know, like Ghandi and Martin Luther King?
You can also point out that if they are so afraid of their light or fire being drowned out by the negativity of the political process then clearly it is not particularly bright nor well fueled,…but then I’ve been accused of having an attitude problem…”
Another of my Friends, B, said,
“…I’ve run into that attitude; I think a good bit of it has more to …do with laziness and Ostrich Syndrome than any higher level of enlightenment.”
I know where the fabulous Ms. B is coming from with that and part of me would tend to agree with her, and yet…
I’d say its more likely the constant stream of information/propaganda/advertising bombarding us from the over-culture saying how
“You aren’t good/attractive/ worth/strong/healthy enough, unless you buy this….” ,
“What difference could one person make these days….”,
or, most insidiously,
“It’s not your responsibility because…..”
You, know… the sort of messages that seem to be rapid fired at us day in and day out from birth onward with few exceptions? What we put into our hearts and minds and eyes and ears influences our lives easily as much as what we put in out mouths folks!
I would also say that some of the difficulty comes from the very poorly understood differences between the core ideas and rules of Magick as a spiritual practice and a tool for communicating with the Universe, and between magical thinking.
A true Magick worker, whether their Practice is grounded in Religion or from a more Philosophical and Practical basis, does some sort of discernment practice to figure out if Magick is the best option, if not they find mundane ways to get things done. If Magick is indicated, they do their Magick AND act in accord both before and after the Spell or Ritual is done.
If a Magick Worker wants to bring more money into their life The spend time before the Ritual or Spell engaging in some serious discernment, they ask why isn’t the money they’ve got coming in enough? Have they been open to new income streams/job opportunities? They look at their budget and spending habits. THEN, if their answers tell them they need to do more, they START by doing a Ritual or Spell. THEN they update their resume. They look at their current job situation and see what they can do to improve their job and income prospects. They work to be more aware and ready to receive whatever blessings come their way. They bend their every pre- and post, Spell or Ritual, efforts and thoughts and actions to their Goal.
Magical thinking just wishes for more money and tries to have a positive attitude.
To reference another widely popular paraphrase of Ghandi, being the change you want to see in the world, means more than just being! As a result of changing ones state of being, can we really call ourselves changed if our actions and reactions do not undergo similar changes? Whether you are trying to effect or affect change you’ve got to DO something for the change to happen.
Now I have yet to run down a direct citation for the quote I opened with today, I am choosing to include it anyway because it resonated with me in relation to this conversation I found myself in. Which also stirred within me the response of my own I have quoted up at the beginning of this piece; all too often in the Pagan community you run into these New-Agey Crystals&Light types talking about how…
“I’m Spiritual but not Religious…”
With this air of superiority or especial purity or something… like religion is icky and messy somehow, which it is but not for the reasons they think. What, you may wonder, do I mean by that? Let’s invoke the power of Words…
Merriam Webster defines Spiritual as…
of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit : incorporeal
2a : of or relating to sacred matters <spiritual songs> b : ecclesiastical rather than lay or temporal <spiritual authority> <lords spiritual>
concerned with religious values
Which gets interesting when you look up spirit
… most of which relates back to the idea of an individuals spirit or soul.
Merriam Webster defines Religious as…
“1: relating to or manifesting faithful devotion to an acknowledged ultimate reality or deity <a religious person> <religious attitudes>
2: of, relating to, or devoted to religious beliefs or observances <joined a religious order>…”
The first fierce irony is that the two words are SYNONYMS… they have nearly the same meaning and you could just as easily say
“I’m Spiritual but not Spiritual,” or “I’m Religious but not Religious.”
…and be making just about as much sense.
The second fierce irony, is that someone who is Spiritual is focused upon themselves and what affects them. Someone who is Religious is concerned with the world and universe outside themselves. So what these folks who like to position themselves as above the fray of various political or social concerns, or who like to distance themselves from ACTION on issues with a smile and talk of being spiritual rather than religious are REALLY saying is…
“I’m more interested in myself than in anything outside myself…”
Of course this doesn’t sound NEARLY as mysterious or mystical…
I think the true goal should be to balance Religion and Spirituality in ones life.
PS- YES, I understand that as a part of our Spiritual journeys many of us are healing from difficult or traumatic experiences in our past Religions, but the Gods or the Universe are NOT going to just go away because you run away from them and focus on your navel people! It is not just that The Gods want us to be happy and whole and powerful, shouldn’t we want it too?
UPDATE: In getting caught up on some things, I came across the recent Sermon Spirit of Life
by my Minister, Rev. Kathy
, she preached this one on one of the week-ends whilst I was out with sinus-ick. In this Sermon she discussed some compelling ideas and definitions of Spirituality…and I am juggling these ideas with those I presented above and am seeing what new patterns of thought emerge….