6 Sacred Rules of Spiritual Engagement in Dangerous Times: How to Walk our Talk
In the past two weeks, all of us in the United States and even around the world have been feeling the impact of our new president’s executive orders, particularly the ban on Muslims from 7 countries. I myself have felt the collective chaos, fear, anger, and confusion ripple through my energy body, just as I did on 9/11 after I watched an airplane fly into the second Twin Tower and heard reports throughout the day of the crashes into the Pentagon and in Pennsylvania.
In the view of Mother Earth mysticism and shamanic energy medicine, we are connected through a web of light from the personal outward to our family, to any larger communities with which we are affiliated through gender, ancestry, culture, religion, sexual orientation, or membership, and from there out to the collective of the nation, as a whole. We are also through this web connected to the world, writ large. This is why those of us who may be tuned into these subtler layers of our physical existence may feel so deeply at the very core of bodies the tearing of the fabric of our nation.
It is a stunning truth and perhaps overwhelming to even contemplate. This is not an abstract, intellectual fact nor a merely political and economic reality, it is also deeply spiritual. One does not have to be involved in new spiritual movements or alternative forms of spirituality to understand this view. Martin Luther King, Jr. put it this way, based on his readings of the teachings of Jesus: “In a real sense, all life is interrelated in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever effects one directly affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality.”
So, as we witness the abuses brought upon Muslims at airports around our country—based merely on their country of origin (and not even the countries that are known to be producing terrorists), religion, and/or ancestry, and as the very freedoms and right to due process we have been used to having in this country are dismantled—we need to recognize that wherever there is violence, abuse or discrimination against any group, then all of us are affected. This effect, as Native Americans say, will also ripple down through 7 generations and beyond. King put it this way: “I am convinced that if we succumb to the temptation to use violence…unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and our chief legacy will be a never-ending reign of chaos.”
These words also speak to the truth about what is within all of us—not just about some perceived enemy out there. Our living, dynamic interdependence with others, as well as our Earth Mother, means that fear and anger might be haunting us in this tumultuous time, even if we are not Muslim. I have Jewish and immigrant friends from Latin America who are U.S. citizens, have lived long years, and/or were born in this country and who are now afraid. African Americans, who have always lived with the specter of fear from ongoing abuses, are even more scared under the pall of months and months of Trump’s racist words and actions. And we know from news reports that many immigrants—not just those who are here illegally, but even those who are U.S. citizens, are holding legitimate visas and green cards—are also terribly afraid. The insidious discrimination against Hispanics in this country is very much amplified, particularly with Trump’s targeting of Mexicans and intent to build the wall. The fact that a white supremacist leader was given the podium on the day of the election strikes terror into anyone not white.
For those of us who may not be a member of such groups, like myself—descended from a proverbial White Anglo-Saxon Protestant lineage—even we might feel fear for our own well-being. For instance, I have considered the potential implications of posting widely in Facebook and on my website calls for action to oppose Trump’s policies, particularly his immigration ban. When a political leader and his cronies are willing to scapegoat and target one group on a fallacious basis, it is not a far step towards persecuting anyone who stands in support of them. We experienced this in the Civil Rights Movement when a few of King’s white allies were murdered.
I myself have recently strangely and hauntingly find myself wondering if even some of my neighbors might consider it OK to harass me if they were to guess or find out about my political leanings and my alternative spiritual lifestyle.
This is the appearance of the mind of separation, the mind of fear. We all have it, just as Trump and his allies are themselves acting out of a belief that there are some who, based on their faith or country of origin, are somehow radically different from and therefore more dangerous than themselves and “upstanding U.S. citizens.”
So, for those of us who consider ourselves to be on a spiritual path which enjoins us to walk on the side of peace and love, how do we respond skillfully to the current state of affairs and even to the strong feelings within ourselves? How do we love and at the same time take direct action? How do we keep our heads and hearts out of anger, fear and even thoughts of revenge?
Cherokee teacher, Venerable Dhyani Ywahoo also asked the same questions in her book published at the height of the Cold War. Her words are just as relevant today: “So here we are, sitting in the world; we see people playing lots of games with very big missiles, and we are thinking about peace in our hearts. How does it all meet? The ideal of our living as planetary human beings, how are we to manifest that in this time….It is for us to look at the borders of our minds. It is for us to speak out about those deeds which are unkind. It is for us to stand very firm and strong and say that we will not accept fear or aggression. To be a Peacekeeper is not to be a sissy or a wimp. It is to speak very clearly and to stand up for what you know is correct.”
Yet she continues, “If we are anti-anything, then we are still arguing. When we recognize ourselves as making peace, we are keeping peace in our hearts and looking for ways to communicate that in group process.”
These words then propel me to ask of myself, what do they mean? How do I keep peace in my heart and love in my mind? How do I quell my own anger and fear?
In response, I have formulated 5 Sacred Rules of Spiritual Engagement in Dangerous Times. I am choosing to use them myself and I invite you to commit to, as well:
Sacred Practice: I will meditate daily to connect with Mother Earth and to build the fires of the open heart. I will do ceremonies of fire and waters to cleanse and clean my energy and will catalyze the dream of peace with my prayers. I will join with like-minded people in caring, spiritual community to amplify this work to the collective with the knowledge that even these actions, while seemingly outside the domain of political protest and advocacy, also have their place. These sacred practices will then solidify the inner and outer groundwork to maintain my commitment to the other Sacred Rules.
Sacred Heart: When I read about what is happening or when I engage with friends or strangers, including political representatives with whom I disagree, I will always seek to be in my heart. I will do this first by connecting around our everyday human concerns—those things which unite us as a human family—our children, our work, our loves, and our joys. I will recognize that we are all bound in a web of fear for our lives and violence going back generations. I will look deeply with my heart and know that their actions arise out of these unhealed wounds which are in all of us. In this way, I will acknowledge that I am both part of the problem and the solution and that there is no separation.
Sacred Speech: I will always remember as I speak that we human beings are all sisters and brothers. Therefore, I will at all costs avoid name calling or stereotyping across party lines or differences in opinions and philosophies on the range of issues on the table today, from abortion to the economy. I have no doubt that many people who voted for Trump are not in support of this recent ban on immigrants from the Middle East and the way it is being applied, as well as some or all of his other unfolding policies and executive orders.
Sacred listening: When in conversation topics arise which are charged, I will choose to listen respectfully as one human being to another. I will use the skills of deep listening from the heart to discern what is deeper underneath these views.
Sacred Healing: I will engage my Compassionate Witness Self to work skillfully with the wide range of emotions within triggered by current events to prevent their escalation into an inner condition of terror and hatred. When I am afraid or angry, I will tenderly acknowledge both as one would to a child who is angry at a perceived injustice or frightened of the dark. I will embrace the truth that compassion is often triggered by anger at injustice and, as such, anger in its purest form is not wrong or bad. Yet, I will seek to not feed this anger with fearful, angry stories built on fearful, angry stories. I will also affirm what I already know so well—that intense feelings of separation, fear, and hatred often arise out of and are triggered by unhealed wounds in myself and through the generations before me. I will thus seek to transform them in myself through spiritual practice, energy medicine, and their antidote: love.
Sacred Forgiveness: I will forgive myself if I find it difficult in any given moment to adhere to the 6 Sacred Rules of Spiritual Engagement. I will recognize that, like those whose actions I oppose, I am not perfect. I will thus practice the heart’s deepest feeling of tenderness towards myself and others in the midst of our messy humanity.
In Christianity, it is said that we are all created in the likeness of God. The Great Medicine Wheel of the New Earth is the table of compassion. All peoples, of all religious beliefs and creeds, races, cultures, and spiritual leanings are invited to this table. We each are trying, in our own way, to take a collective leap in our consciousness out of fear and trauma and into a deep peace out of which arises the truth that when we work together as human beings and when we work in partnership with Mother Earth, the Powers and Helpers, and the Spirit of All, that there is always abundance on every level: body, mind, soul and spirit.
I enjoin you to make your commitment to the 6 Rules of Spiritual Engagement I offer above. I end here once again with the words of Venerable Dhyani, a great Native American peacekeeper, from her book Voices of Our Ancestors: Cherokee Teachings from the Wisdom Fire:
“To have the gift of a body, to be alive in this time is indeed an opportunity to co-create, to bring forth a family of dignified human beings. Through right relationship with one another, through actions that bring forth good for the people, through clear intelligence we see what is open before us and we choose what is the best course—peace….Thus we bring forth the wisdom of the planetary family.”
Wado, in gratitude. May it be So.