Warning: This article contains swear words and opinions that may offend some people.
I’ve been having some sort of existential crisis with myself this past week. I’m trying to come to terms with two parts of myself that, until today, I felt were opposed to one another. It’s this ongoing internal dialogue that I keep having with myself. Can a “spiritual person” be an activist? It may seem like an absurd question, but I’ve seriously struggling with this, on many philosophical and ideological levels, for quite some time.
This past week I was reading something that one of my favourite spiritual teachers posted and what they said really triggered something in me. I won’t bother getting into who it is or what they said, but the gist of their words was that in order to maintain happiness, a person has to avoid the news and remove themselves from negative situations. What they said really agitated me and made me angry. I feel like I keep hearing this sort of “head in the sand” talk coming from spiritual teachers, and I am going to be honest here: it really, really makes me angry. I know that their hearts are in a really good place and they are just trying to keep people in a place of love as opposed to fear, and that’s a good thing, but to ignore the problems in the world really serves no one, not even yourself.
Perhaps, in fairness to these teachers, they aren’t really telling to people put their head in the sand, but it is most certainly coming across that way. I know where their words are coming from. There is the Universal Law of Attraction. The Laws of Attraction dictate that what you focus your thoughts, words, feelings and actions into is what you create in your life. You manifest what you think. I would have to say that my life experience has shown me that this is true, but I want to make the argument for the collective consciousness here. We are not actually separate from one another here on this physical plane, and so by virtue of this, we are responsible for the well-being of one another and the thoughts and actions of other people will have an effect on us. This is unavoidable as long as you are a human being.
You are not an island. You do not stand alone. Your very existence and survival on this planet is reliant on every living being on this planet. You don’t agree? Go stand in front of herd of running elephants and tell me what happens. Try not eating for a few weeks and let me know how that goes. My point is that we live in an ecosystem, and we live in a physical environment that we heavily rely upon and our lives are impacted by the actions of everything.
A living spiritual teacher that I have the most love and respect for is the Dalai Lama. He spreads his words of compassion and love across the world. The reason why I am bringing up is to show the example that despite all the love and prayers of him and his people, they were not able to stop the brutal murders of thousands and thousands of Tibetans, and the near destruction of their culture. How can a group of practically unarmed people stop an army? Fact is a fact: prayers were not enough. The Dalai Lama and his people, quite simply, didn’t have the means or the resources to defend themselves against the Chinese army. I appreciate the fact that the Dalai Lama maintains that peace, love and compassion are the only answers. I’m asking the question: what is the cost of inaction?
I do my best to maintain a positive outlook and I often envision a peaceful world. When I hear about a situation like Ferguson, I pray and give thanks for a world where racism does not exist. I imagine surrounding the place with love and light. I also like to keep it real. I acknowledge what is actually happening there and allow myself to feel angry. I feel angry for the injustice that I see. This is who I am. I think it’s completely natural and human to have empathy and to react. I am not going to look away and pretend it isn’t happening. I am not going to focus my attention elsewhere because it would be more convenient for me to do so. I feel strongly that is my right and duty to pissed off at injustice. Am I fueling the fires of injustice by paying attention and voicing my opinion. FUCK NO. That’s right. I’m gonna say it. I’m calling out all any spiritual teacher who encourages people to avoid the suffering in this world. Fuck all of you who keep your head in the sand. When you pretend that you have nothing to do with what is happening collectively in this human experience you are lying to yourself. My truth is this: We all created it. No matter where you are or who you are, you helped create everything that is happening right here in this very moment. This is a collective experience. You are an active participant whether you like it or not.
They want to build a natural gas pipe-line through Burnaby. That’s essentially a part of my city, Vancouver. Everything about this makes me angry. If I were able to completely turn my anger into love and imagine that the pipeline no exists, this will not make the situation go away. They are going to build this thing whether we like it or not. What if blocking the construction of the pipeline actually stops it from happening. What if everyone stopped ignoring the situation and collectively decided to block the roads to prevent Kinder Morgan’s trucks from moving in. Imagine thousands of people standing up and saying no. For the most part I see most current protest models failing. Most protests come across as finger pointing temper tantrums (and often they are) but I think there might still be a place for action. I have a deep love and respect for the Sea Shepherds who put their life on the line to save whales, dolphins and other marine life.
I can sit and pray for a Utopian life all I want, but because I am sharing a collective human experience here with everyone else, I feel it is my duty to keep it real. I will always keep one foot in the shadows because this is what I am here to do. I believe that I can still achieve my own pursuit of happiness, that I can still surround myself with love and light, but I can also keep my eyes open, get angry at injustice, and assist my fellow human beings. If getting angry at injustice this world is not “spiritual” enough for some people, then so be it. I’m okay with the idea of some people thinking that I’m not their brand of spiritual.
As my friend Tana likes to say: