by Michael Maciel
None of us can legitimately claim to be spiritually independent if we are consciously or unconsciously living in an illusion. It does no good to pursue enlightenment if it does not bring about real improvement in our lives in realistic ways. In terms of integrity, it would be better to be an activist—either political, social, or environmental—than it would to sit all day in meditation and behave as though we were separate from the rest of the world, believing that our actions have no real effect.
Here are a couple of principles to keep in mind. One is that at some point in your spiritual work, you will experience what some people call the Dark Night of the Soul. This is where you meet the maximum amount of resistance to change, where the ego makes its last stand, and where you’ll be most tempted to give up and go back to being “normal” life. In this sense, you could say that being on the spiritual path doesn’t look like it improves anything in your life. Instead, it makes it a lot worse!
But we know that it gets better for those who persist. Nothing of value ever comes cheap. So, by saying that your spiritual work must make real improvements in your life in order to be worthwhile, it should be clear that we’re not talking about personal levels of comfort but rather improvements that make a real difference in the human experience as a whole. And any reasonably intelligent person alive today knows that unless improvements are made soon, the future of this planet and all the life upon it is going to be very dark indeed. What each of us does spiritually must address this, or we might as well live as though there will be no tomorrow, because there won’t be.
The second principle is that the power to bring about change never comes by fighting against anything—it comes by fighting for something. There is more power in a positive vision than there is in being right about what’s wrong. Critics abound, but visionaries are rare.
That being said, the true visionary is not naive; he or she knows what the problems are. But instead of railing against them, they identify the solution and then go to work to bring it about. Instead of attacking greed, they live according to the principle of generosity. Instead of bemoaning pollution, they strive to keep their thinking clear. Instead of criticizing corrupt politicians, they seek to give more than what they are getting in return—in their job, in their social interactions, and in their relationship with the planet. This is working for change.
Okay…there’s a third principle. Consciousness. Always strive to see into the heart of the matter, no matter what it is that you are dealing with. Do you see problems in the world? What are their causes? When you think you know the answer, ask yourself if you are merely repeating someone else’s opinion or if you are truly seeing the truth. Chances are, you are letting someone else do your thinking for you.
The problems facing the world are extremely complex—from an intellectual standpoint. But they are very simple when seen through the eyes of Spirit. This is the kind of seeing we must all strive to attain. And when we attain it, we will never again blindly believe whatever someone else thinks we should do. Our perception of what the world needs has to come through our own spiritual understanding, and our response to it must be authentically our own.
We cannot depend on our senses to tell us what the facts are. We have to look within. Once we get the clear picture, then we can bring our vision out into the world and put it into action. Sigmund Freud believed that people make their decisions based on emotions, not facts. The entire culture bought into his vision hook, line, and sinker. And it has very nearly brought the world to irredeemable disaster. If we do not learn how to find the truth within ourselves—and soon—the world will come to an ugly end. At this point, it will take a miracle, but hey…we can do that.