by Michael Maciel
It’s a challenge these days not to get sucked up into the negativity that dominates the current political news stream, especially for those of us trying to live a spiritual life and to keep our consciousness out of the fray. Nothing drags us down faster than a steady diet of anger and despair.
In looking for a way to cope with this seemingly crazy and getting crazier by the minute world, we tend to withdraw from it and take refuge in a carefully cultivated garden of positive thinking, a place where we can envision nothing but good, a place where we don’t have to judge people, even when they are hellbent on destroying the planet. We are still in the world, but we don’t want to add more negativity, so we carefully avoid taking a stand against anyone or anything. Instead, we concentrate on what we are for, not what we are against.
This is a logical and laudable approach. It’s logical because you can’t purify dirty water by pouring more dirty water into it, and it’s laudable because it takes tenacity and dedication to maintain a healthy frame of mind when everyone else is coming unhinged before our very eyes.
There is, however, a missing piece to this puzzle.
Our job as spiritual servants is akin to what doctors do. We treat people for various ailments and we work for the general good by promoting public health. I remember the story of Dr. John Snow, the physician who in mid-19th Century London set out to discover the cause of cholera. He started by mapping the locations of the homes of those stricken and then looked to see if there were any commonalities. He quickly saw that most of the homes were clustered around the Broad Street water pump. There was no indoor plumbing in those days, so everyone got their water from public wells such as the one on Broad Street, and this particular well was contaminated with human waste.
All doctors have patients, but Snow’s patient was the entire city of London. His discovery led to a more scientific approach to public health, and it began with identifying the source of the problem, which made it clear what had to be done. Subsequently, the wells of London were overhauled and water treatment came into being. Cholera is now a thing of the past, at least in the industrialized world.
As spiritual people, we are loathe to look for faults in others. We have been told not to judge, to keep ourselves blameless, so that the rest of the world will benefit by our energy and our example. Good plan. But if we regard ourselves as spiritual physicians, which is what I’m asking you to consider now, then we have to take a more scientific approach. We have to be able to diagnose a disease before we can treat it properly.
Diagnosis is different from finding blame. And it’s quite possible that this is what Jesus meant when he said, “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” Because how often do we avoid taking responsibility for the problems in our world by blaming them on others? It’s a common ploy, is it not? It’s much more likely that Jesus was simply saying that we have to look at how we ourselves are contributing to the problem and not just look for others to blame.
In Dr. Snow’s situation, he too was part of the problem, if only by virtue of his ignorance of how cholera was spread. But once he found out, he was able to instigate wholesale changes in the civic infrastructure of a major metropolitan area. He judged the source of the problem, and he judged rightly. He mapped out what was actually happening and then drew his deductions from the data.
How might we do the same? Well, first of all, we must not be reluctant to identify problems. The diseases we deal with are spiritual diseases, things like fear, greed, lust, selfishness, and apathy. We look for telltale signs, such as weakness, lack of energy, fuzzy thinking, and hardness of heart, all of which are symptoms of a troubled soul. And whether we’re dealing with an individual, a family, or an entire nation, our method is the same: diagnosis, treatment, recovery. Just like a physician.
It’s true that all people are God Beings. But it’s also true that many of them have given up. They have become weary of life and distrustful of the world. It has made them cynical and all-too-willing to bring the whole thing to a halt. Maybe it’s because they endured some unimaginable trauma, or maybe they have just become resentful whenever they see others doing better than they are. Who knows. But such people cannot be allowed to destroy everything the rest of us have worked so hard to establish, such as the freedom to speak the truth as we see it, the right to live wherever we want as long as it’s within our means, and the right to worship how we see fit. These are important achievements that we do not want to abandon. We have to bring everything we know to the table and use the tools God gave us for the good of all.
Identifying a problem doesn’t have to give life to it. As long as you remain detached, you can make an accurate diagnosis. Then, you can develop a reasonable course of action. Remember, when Jesus prayed to the Father in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said, “I pray not that you take them out of the world but that you keep them from the evil.” He wants us here. He wants us to engage. He wants us to BE physicians. Diagnosis is a vital part of our work, though it’s usually called “discernment.” We have to be able to make an accurate assessment of the problems of the world before we can treat them effectively. Our spiritual efforts work the same as any other form of energy: specify where you want the energy to go, focus the energy, apply the energy. It’s the same good ‘ole fashioned occultism that grandma used to use. Let’s not be shy about it.