Not only do we live in a living universe, but the living universe lives within us.
— Duane Elgin
Photo by Dmitry Kotov on Unsplash
Imagine what scientists, lawyers, doctors, therapists, politicians, economists, and activists of all kinds could effect as embodied and illumined instruments of compassion and justice."
You might be wondering what spiritual awakening is and what it has to do with activism. Is awakening bogus, some sort of new-agey trend or delusion? And if it is real, why is it important?
As an atheist and environmental engineer with a deep interest in psychology, my spiritual life has been hard-won. However, based on my direct experience and that of many friends and colleagues (both in- and outside of Trillium Awakening), I now know spiritual awakening is very real... and very attainable.
So, what do I mean by the term "spiritual awakening?"
Spiritual milestones have been cataloged over millennia by a number of eastern traditions. [For a truly brilliant, integrated map of human development, I suggest you check out the new Strauss-Griggs "iConscious Human Development Model"]
From a developmental point of view, an embodied, conscious awakening to the fundamental unity of life can be seen as an important indictor of natural human psycho-spiritual growth - it marks a pivotal and distinct threshold.
What I mean by awakening is a fully embodied (not solely transcendent, dissociated from matter) and stabilized (not just a temporary glimpse) realization of the unity of all of life, which includes the paradox of being both infinite, unbounded awareness and simultaneously being this unique, fleshy, quirky, limited, human body-mind.
We awaken from the common but limited perspective of separation and realize that while we are distinct, we are fundamentally not separate from the Totality in any way. Some call the foundation of unity Consciousness, while others may experience it as Love, or Stillness.
What does spiritual awakening give us as activists?
An embodied awakening, especially when done in mutuality with others who help us see and integrate our unconscious conditioning, can give us:
Perhaps most importantly, embodied awakening anchors us so deeply within the web of life that our hearts are no longer separated and compassion becomes our primary currency.
What might be possible when we express these capacities of awakened human maturity?
Andrew Harvey, a spiritual teacher and author of the book The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, suggests that spirituality and activism need each other. Activism without spirit can lean too heavily on an addiction to doing, and is fueled by a martyr or messiah complex which often leads us to rage, resentment, burnout, and despair. Conversely, spirituality without activism can leave us in a kind of dissociated distance from the world and an unwillingness to engage its messy challenges.
In my experience, an embodied realization of non-separation with all of life resolves this split and gives us the deepest possible "ballast" with which to relate and respond to the world around us. It provides a fundamental sense of wellbeing and trust that results in an essential ease and spaciousness as we move through life. The deep inter-connectivity also increases our ability to hold discomfort and suffering -- our own as well as others.'
Embodied awakening gives us a much greater capacity to be with life... as it really is. This, in turn, allows us to respond more effectively to the necessities of the moment."
Our lives become more fluid and organic. Instead of the constant struggling, pushing, arguing, forcing, blaming, manipulating, and fighting that characterizes much of pre-awakened activism, we start actually cooperating with what is unfolding before us.
Planning is still important, but we become more open to possibility and movement, and view set-backs as signals for creative re-direction. Synchronicity and ease become commonplace as we relax our grip on outcome while participating fully.
Finally, instead of adding more aggression and divisiveness into the mix -- a common characteristic of pre-awakened activism -- our spaciousness, curiosity, compassion, and ability to hold paradox and complexity lets us encounter and collaborate with others in ways not previously possible.
Do you want support in your awakening process?
Come to our Free Intro Night and discover how Trillium Awakening can help you!
Friday, May 4, from 5: 00 - 7:00 pm
at The Harbor House on Olympia's boardwalk
...[T]here is the subtle power of small steps whose impact only becomes evident when we step back and see the larger picture they contribute to."
I want to offer a possibility: what if you could trust what you feel drawn to do?
Industrialized civilization's negative impact on the health of our living Earth is massive and complex. No wonder many of us feel overwhelmed and impotent when we ask ourselves what we can do to make a positive difference.
The feeling of impotence is often magnified in Western cultures where the gospel of individualism keeps us more isolated. Yet there are inklings of a communion-oriented awareness arising around the world - from new business and organizational structures that work more like biological systems (see Frederic Laloux's excellent book Reinventing Organizations), to a growing interest in inter-subjective consciousness in spiritual communities (e.g. Integral Spirituality; Patricia Albere's Evolutionary Collective work; Trillium Awakening's emphasis on mutuality; etc.)
What if human consciousness was itself evolving? And, since you are reading this awakened activism blog, what if you are already a part of this evolution?
...[W]e recognize that we're not separate individuals in our own little bubbles, but connected parts in a much larger story."
I invite you to consider the Great Turning is already moving through you, and that your job is to sense and follow where your heart (or heartbreak) leads you to participate with the world.
Trusting that we are part of a bigger pattern of change allows us to take small, conscious steps that are consistent with our values, temperament, and limits.
Offering ourselves in this way this gives us five things:
1. shift out of apathy and despair into a sense of movement and engagement
2. heightened awareness of your care for the world, from which grows a sense of meaning
3. sustainable engagement without getting overly burnt out
4. companionship with all the other people on the planet who are acting from care
5. more energy and creativity may come available to you
Like a tile in a beautiful mosaic, or a clarinet in a large symphony orchestra, or a stitch in a needlepoint canvas, I invite you to trust that you are an integral part of a larger evolutionary movement.
You don't have to do it the "right way." Just drop into your heart and do it "your way" - however you are able - one small step at a time.
Needlepoint by my mother, Edith.
"Escargot" design by Kaffe Fasset.
Margit Bantowksy, MA, is an artist, coach, teacher and facilitator.