When people think of spirituality, we often have images of angels singing, wise men in rapture, saintly women with modest demeanor, monks in meditation, masters benignly guiding us and God or some kind of greater spirit above us, leading us unerringly with total wisdom, certainty and compassion. This could not be further from the truth, which should be obvious from a cursory glance around our universe. The “heavens” are full of turmoil, as we can only conclude from the expression: As above, so below. All of creation is in constant flux and evolution, and we and the heavens are One in that tumultuous process.
Why do we cling to the notion that the heavens are perfect and harmonious? Because we want them to be. Seeking safety from the world and its trials is our life-time pursuit. We try to save enough money, marry into a “good” family, choose a partner with substantial income, amass power and/or join clubs, communities, gangs or other groups to protect us in an uncertain world.
Spirituality is one of the means we choose to find safety. We hope to develop a relationship with some form of God, who is supposed to protect us and our loved ones, and we seek altered, spiritual states as a way of escaping the fear and uncertainty of ordinary life. If we pursue spirituality as a way of escaping reality, no wonder many of us have seen spirituality and activism as different, even opposed – unless, of course, we are rallying for action on behalf of our own religion or sect, which is still a way of seeking safety by pleasing OUR god.
Many of us have tried to use spirituality, God, manifestation consciousness to bend reality to our wishes, and many of us have tried to use altered states to change our experience of life. These can’t work as long-term solutions. We can’t control reality with our minds and prayers – though sometimes we can impact it. And we can’t escape reality forever, because the high is followed by the crash – though meditation or prayer can help center us so that sometimes we’re clearer when we face life.
Spirituality Calls Us to Change the World
But if spirituality does not and cannot protect us from the realities of life, then what is spirituality for? For some of us, the answer is clear. It is the sense of Oneness and connection that calls us to face some rather terrible realities and deal with them with care, compassion and courage. It is the call to Oneness, Accountability and Mutual Support, not just in our heads, but in our hearts; not just in our hearts, but in our actions. It is the call to deal with the world as it is and to live our spiritual commitments in everything we do. It is a call to spiritual activism, what some of us call the Inner Revolution.
Many people are hearing that call. In fact, more and more of us are realizing that spirituality and action are not just compatible, they are ONE. We are graced with divine guidance, not to wend our way through a difficult and challenging life, but to inform our actions toward ourselves, one another, the planet and the universe. We seek divine guidance, not so as to get what we want, but to place us in alignment with the highest good of all, even if it puts us in conflict with our egoic wants, families, social groups, societal norms or some pretty angry opponents.
With the world in such poor shape – addiction, racism, inhumanity, irresponsibility toward the Earth and other species, violence, anger, despair – spirituality is not just an inner experience that gives us the feeling of peace and separates us from the dreary world (although it can sometimes serve as a bit of an island in the madness). Rather spirituality is the call to action on behalf of God, higher consciousness or the spirit of service, not so we can escape from the world, but so we can change it, including the heavens themselves.
And that call to action is to confront our egoic view of the world and to grow into a real commitment to the Inner Revolution, living Oneness, Accountability and Mutual Support. Spirituality in Action is not easy to maintain, and it can’t be faked. It doesn’t matter how pious we sound. When our thoughts, feelings and actions are hateful, selfish or simply dominated by ego, we are out of integrity. It doesn’t matter how much we proclaim we are One. When we still act from separation consciousness – dog-eat-dog, competition, looking good or holy, getting ahead, taking care of number one, or taking care of OUR family, race, religion or geographic area – we are servants of the ego, not agents of the divine, which represents the whole.
Overcoming the Ego Is the Purpose of Spirituality and the Essence of the Inner Revolution
We need an Inner Revolution to overcome egoic consciousness – including the desire for personal salvation – and that Inner Revolution is the commitment to Oneness, Accountability and Mutual Support. We are One and can’t pretend that we can become elevated spiritual beings in a chaotic universe of which we are a part. We cannot see damage done to others, ignore it, try to hide and pretend we’re living a spiritual life. We cannot talk about Oneness and still think of ourselves as separate.
And once we acknowledge our Oneness, we understand our Accountability not only for ourselves, but for our world. We are individually and collectively accountable for our thoughts, feelings and actions – or inactions – and the impact they have on all. Smoking damages our lungs, puts a drain on our collective healthcare resources and pollutes our collective air. All our negativity is similar. Everything we do impacts ourselves and others.
And, finally, we shift into Mutual Support. Typically our paradigm is that we do for ourselves or we barter with each for our needs to be met. Mutual Support starts with the assumption of Oneness. So if we are not just separate and distinct particles of being and we are essentially parts of an evolving whole, we need to support that whole and the whole will support us. That is Mutual Support.
Oneness: The Essence of Spirituality that Must Become Integral to Our Lives
Oneness is the essence of spirituality, which moves us to confront the collective pain that is real and to dedicate our lives to transforming ourselves and our world, so that we may find a way to trust one another and open ourselves to new learning and new ways of being. And Oneness requires personal and collective transformation, because the damage done to every human being through our upbringing, socialization and life events can be overwhelming and sabotage our most cherished beliefs in Oneness. Because we cannot be truly in Oneness consciousness when we are anxious, defensive and afraid of being dominated; when we are trapped in nonsensical, life-destroying traditions that squelch our creativity and even our ability to think; when we are trained to be prejudiced or just self-protective; and when we promote and repeat ideas and beliefs that are obviously destructive, but hang out in our heads because we are afraid of the not-knowing and because to drop those familiar ideas would threaten our security and our acceptance by the tribe.
The transformation toward Oneness is the Inner Revolution. It is a revolution against egoic thinking and assumptions and a revolution for Oneness, Accountability and Mutual Support. It demands that we rethink everything – from the way we dress, to the way we treat our mates, to the way we organize the production and distribution of all goods, to the way we relate to other genders, religions, sexual orientations, races and species. And that Inner Revolution, that confrontation of the tyranny of what we think we already know, needs to percolate into everything we do as individuals and as a world.
The Inner Revolution Is a Sacred Trust and Different from Revolutions of the Past
Inner Revolutionaries are different from many revolutionaries of the past. Inner Revolutionaries do not confront “them.” We confront everyone, including ourselves. We don’t just regurgitate anger about the workers vs. the bosses, whites vs. blacks, women vs. men. We help lead humanity in a deep process of self-examination, culling through the debris of our fractured thinking and cultivated ignorance. We rely on human and divine support for the courage to confront what is clearly wrong, no matter the risk. And we engage in the perpetual revolution of evolution, what we call Becoming Becoming.
We can no longer pretend that spirituality is just an inner experience. It is our sacred trust to be agents of higher consciousness in the world. We cannot focus just on ourselves. We should not focus on our differences. We can no longer afford to focus on perpetuating hierarchy and our place in it. Spirituality is the call to care, to connect and to confront. And only when we are willing to have that Inner Revolution within us, and when we are willing to speak that Inner Revolution to our world, do we become truly spiritual. We now embody spirituality in action. Let’s each do our part.
Beth Green is the host of Inner Revolutionary Radio, an internet radio program on VoiceAmerica.com, whose focus is to galvanize the Inner Revolution. She is also the creator of Inner Revolutionary TV on VoiceAmerica.TV and the Beth Green TV channel on YouTube. In addition, Beth is the founder of TheInnerRevolution.Org, the author of 5 books, 3 CDs of original music, a blogger for the Huffington Post and the founder of The Inner Revolutionary School for Counselors and Change Agents.