- By Natalia Perera
“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground”
– Sufi Poet Rumi
We are living during times where each day is filled with magic. There is a revolution taking place right now, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, to work with it, or not. It is a revolution not like any other in history: it is one of the heart. Past revolutions have been easier to detect, to fight with, or against because the mind was able to clearly decipher their meanings. This one, however, is silent to the mind, spoken in code, to be understood only by the language of love, by selected souls chosen to rise and be people of the earth, Warriors of the Sacred for our Divine Mother Earth. This is a spiritual revolution.
And it is manifesting in many areas of our lives, bringing light where previously there has been darkness, speaking truth where previously we have deceived ourselves or others, destroying what was built on false beliefs such as greed, exploitation, selfishness, and fear. We can witness perfect examples of each one of these in failing relationships, collapsing financial systems, environmental disasters and personal health crisis; what we could get away with in the past no longer serves us. With increasing pressures on our psyche, we are forced to let go of our old ways and re-build a life based on integrity, truth and compassion.
Let’s not however be bewildered by the word ‘spiritual’ loosely tossed about by the marketing campaigns of various dualistic religions who pretend to ‘teach’ us and ‘save’ our souls by distracting our minds with overwhelming philosophies and intellectual pursuits, while condensing our ‘humanness’ into a temporary, shameful offense, one to be transcended. For to deny our bodies and our roots, is to disempower us, to reduce us to an exploitable commodity. This has had devastating repercussions for us and our children psychologically, socially, politically and environmentally.
The first truth central to this revolution that needs to be revealed is that ‘the life of the spirit’ and the ‘life of the flesh’ are one. ‘Being spiritual’ is the same as ‘being human’: we are spiritually joined with the earth and all of life on it; an ancient wisdom common to all indigenous matriarchal traditions. To affirm with joy and pleasure (yes pleasure is the antidote to the shame that has been instilled in us to poison our psyches) our biological body living on a conscious biological planet, and to celebrate our ability to transform ourselves and our world in acts of evolution and revolution, has enormous consequences for everyone on this planet. It is empowering to the point where, as devotees of a Nature based spirituality, we can rise and be conscious responsible citizens of the world and tell the truth about the Sacred. It could mean the birth of a Warrior of the Sacred.
My intention in the following articles on Spiritual Activism is to educate Warriors of the Sacred on their chosen path, to encourage them where there is doubt, and support them where there is fear. Like any other warrior, we need to be clear in our minds, strong in our bodies, and competent with our weapons. We need to have absolute conviction in what we stand for and above all, in the reasons why we are rising to create a new world. If we can be inspired enough and disciplined enough to maintain our spiritual practices, quiet enough to listen to the whispers in our hearts, humble enough to follow the signs and brave enough to take wise action, then all the great souls who have walked this earth in service of love and truth before us will shower us with their blessings and support.
In short, the journey has two legs: the first being our own inner work, one that leads us into a progressive union with the Divine so we can be in harmony with the great stream of life. The second is that, from that space of peace, we take action directed towards social transformation, a cause that we choose according to our capacities, personal preferences and above all, one that breaks our heart.
As the Mother at Sri Aurobindo Ashram put it: “He must find his own place, the place which he alone can occupy in the general concert, and he must give himself entirely to it, not forgetting that he is playing only one note in the terrestrial symphony and yet his note is indispensable to the harmony of the whole, and its value depends upon its justness”.
If individual transformation and a place of peace is first to be achieved, we need to begin by reclaiming our power, in our bodies. Like other warriors who train their muscles before battle, we need to fortify the temples that hold our spirit. We have been ‘taught’ to control the body with the mind, told which books to read on how to eat, how to make love, how much sleep to get, and we impose these practices on the body rather than listening from within. Separated from the experience of our bodies, we cannot access our life force, our sense of the natural world and our most basic inner truth. As we are no longer ruled by our own feelings, our conscience, then our actions become compulsive or easily manipulated by others. We become dangerously desensitised.
Our medical systems treat the body as mechanical, separate parts while numbing us to our real source of pain: the separation from the spirit that dwells within. Standard training for psychotherapists completely ignores the role of the body in mental health. Conspicuously overlooked are considerations in breathwork, nutrition, allergies, movement, neuromuscular alignment, energy flow or even simple massage. Touch is considered far too taboo. Our health care crisis lies in the disconnection from our biological reality (Anodea Judith, 1996).
Even our education systems are based on the lies we are fed through mass media, under the pretence of feeding our children’s minds while slowly killing their souls, teaching competitiveness and survival at one another’s expense. Universities continue to train our minds at the cost of our bodies, when we eventually graduate to a sit down job in an automated routine and in an artificial environment that slowly kills our senses (Anodea Judith, 1996).
The body is indeed the home for the spirit; is it any wonder then that not only are we witnessing an increasing problem of homelessness, but also we find ourselves on the verge of an ecological annihilation? Degradation of our physical reality is a cultural epidemic for which there is no book to read, no simple cure, no pill to take, no miraculous healing. Nor can we necessarily ease the anguish that comes when we do reclaim our bodies, our testing ground for truth, and the numbness wears off and we awaken to the disassociation and abuse we have previously allowed.
But it is this very pain in our ‘coming home’ that is the rite of passage necessary to birth the Warrior of the Sacred in each of us. Only by recovering the body can we begin to heal the Earth and Her children. As we evolve into a new state of consciousness, we must revolt against the established systems of our current patriarchal society. To deserve respect, our spiritual revolution needs to be socially, politically, environmentally and economically responsible. We need to align our intent for the creation of a new earth with the desire of our heart to express its unique essence, its joy, and align that with the actions we choose to adopt in our present lives. Our feet solid yet gentle upon the earth, this requires tremendous attention, discipline and focus of our mind, heart and body.
Yoga is one way that is body-affirmative, powerful, peace-loving, ethical and practical that helps us refine our inner state which in turn creates our outer environment: it changes our chemistry and consequently, our destiny. It partners us with the laws of Nature and allows us to access all her resources to fulfill our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual potential. We learn to perfect our relating with ourselves, with others, with all creatures with a strong sense of consciousness and compassion. We test out each theory and establish our own truth. And from that space of personal transformation and integrity, we find in our temple, the strength to stand in our power and act against the one injustice that has struck our heart. Only then we will find deep peace, knowing we have fulfilled our destiny as creative children of our Mother Earth and devoted our life to her in celebration of being human.
In following articles on Spiritual Activism, we will meet again to explore ways of preparing the body and the mind of a Warrior of the Sacred, using the wisdom of Yoga. We will define our ‘weapons’ and practice until we master them and begin the search for wise action in the world.
Anodea Judith, Eastern Body, Western Mind, Celestial Arts Publishing USA, 1996.