At a recent spiritual discourse where questions about reincarnation, karma and higher states of consciousness abounded, I asked a question about the current political situation in the US.
Everyone scoffed as if to say How could you degrade this sacred space by bringing in politics?
Spiritual people don't tend to talk about politics unless it's to say that we should all love one another, take the higher road, and rise above our differences.
This disconnect between the spiritual and the political has always been puzzling to me.
Maybe it’s because I grew up idolizing Gandhi, who engaged in what many have called “spiritual warfare” and changed the world through nonviolent resistance, facilitating the liberation of India from British rule. I paid homage by visiting Gandhi's tomb in New Delhi and was blessed to see Richard Attenborough's inspirational biographical film, Gandhi, while traveling in Kolkata (Calcutta). I was 24 years old. To me Gandhi is a living example of love in action—a great spiritual activist. He recognized, long ago, that in the West we believe we have a voice in our own government because we're told we have a democracy, but instead we are being exploited by the ruling class, as it is the poorest of our nation who suffer the most while a wealthy few (the 1%) thrive. And this income gap is widening. In the last 40 years income for the top 1% has more than doubled while that of the bottom 90% has declined. The 2008 financial crises is a painful example of this ruling class exploitation where the bankers who brought the world economy to the brink of destruction with their predatory lending practices ended up with millions of dollars in bonuses--and zero accountability--while tens of millions of people lost their homes, jobs or life savings. Gandhi also saw, long ago, how material progress and industrial expansion could not occur without dire political consequences, nor without devastating harm to the environment. He saw how capitalism has as its core the exploitation of people and of the planet. In 1928 he wrote that if a nation with the population of India engaged in economic exploitation similar to that of the West "it would strip the world bare like locusts.” In Gandhi’s political spirituality the accumulation of material things is not a goal in life. Contrast that with notions of “abundance” put forth in new age spirituality, such as The Secret, where those with expansive houses and expensive cars (i.e., the ability to acquire material things) are allegedly the most enlightened. Altruism over self-interest, interdependence over individualism, renunciation over consumption, Gandhi espoused both a personal ethical code of conduct and a political doctrine guided by thinking and acting in alignment with the Greatest Good for All. Seems to me that’s about as political--and as spiritual--as you can get.
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