by Michael Maciel
Let’s say you’re a spiritual person. You believe in compassion. You believe that love is the most important quality anyone can have and that without it, nothing else really matters. You not only believe these things but you try to live them as much as you possibly can. And you meditate so that as you go about your life, you can be a source of peace in the world.
You’re firing on all cylinders.
But then you turn on the news, or you go on Facebook, and you find yourself getting swept up in the drama of major events. It’s so upsetting. And before you know it, there goes your compassion, your love, and your peace—all of the things that made you feel spiritual.
What do you do?
You’re tempted to drop out, to withdraw from contentious issues, to avoid conflict, and to only hang out with people who think like you. But this isn’t really dropping out, right? It’s retreating into a safe zone where conflict isn’t allowed. And you can tell it’s not really working because whenever someone says something that does produce conflict, you’re back to square one and all of your hard-won spirituality goes right out the window.
So, you’re left with two choices. One, you can be more careful not to allow contentious people into your life, or two, you can turn away from the news and social media altogether. You might even retreat even further into yourself and become increasingly more isolated, which is easy these days in the lockdown era. If we’re honest with ourselves, however, we know that none of these things is going to happen. Maybe for a couple of days but then the urge to engage kicks in and overrides our best intentions.
I’m sure you can see the dilemma here, can’t you?
The real question, then, is how to engage. But intuitively, you sense that anything you do from your safe zone is going to be neither spiritual nor effective, because you can’t love some people and not others, nor can you have compassion only for those who are like you. That’s not spiritual. And what good is peace if it’s only present when you’re in your safe zone with people who never question you?
In order to be in integrity with yourself and with God, you have to put your highest conception of the Good first in everything that you do. If it’s love, then you have to put love first. If compassion, then it comes first—in every situation. You don’t get the luxury of condemning people who don’t believe the same things you do. Why? Because your spirituality does not depend on your beliefs. It doesn’t even depend on what you do. It depends entirely on what you ARE.
But, integrity comes with a price.
You have to give up the drama. You have to give up belonging to your favorite group. Instead, ALL of humanity becomes your group, the group you identify with, regardless of what they believe or say. And that’s hard to do. It’s a huge sacrifice. You have to give up being right and start loving even those who you know for a certainty are wrong.
Compassion? It’s not compassion if you’re feeling sorry for those poor, misled souls who don’t know any better. Condescension is not on the how-to-be-spiritual list. Instead, you have to give them the space to believe whatever they believe without breaking your connection with them. Believe me, they WILL notice because almost no one does that.
Connection is the essence of spirituality. If you want to be a spiritual person, and you realize that you can’t simply retreat from the world and remain in integrity with yourself and God, then there’s only one thing you can do without separating yourself from others. You must remain connected with everyone you come in contact with. You have to know that they are a living human being just like you. They have a heart, they have feelings, they have things that are important to them. Just knowing that and giving them the space—in your heart and mind—to be who they are will guarantee your spiritual integrity.
That’s what the world needs right now—people with integrity. And if you can do that AND maintain a high level of spiritual consciousness, then you will be doing the most anyone can do for the world.