There are many forms of spirituality. Anybody can call anything they do part of their spiritual path. And they are right. Everything in life, every experience can be meaningful and sacred. To add to the conundrum, there is no real consensus or definition of what spirituality is. So, if we speak of spirituality generally, we have to define the word, and look at spirituality in context.
While all spiritual paths are valid, some might be more appropriate for our times than others. What are the qualities or ingredients you deem essential for spirituality? For me they are (a) to address one’s self, humanity, and the planet collectively (b) to be rooted in compassion (c) to create healing (d) to extend beyond, and include, one’s self (e) to embrace paradox, light and darkness, and transformation (f) to be internally coherent and largely non-contradictory.
We need not only to see the goodness and beauty of the world and so to fall in love with and to care to preserve it, but we also need to see the dark side of the world and to feel its suffering. Just like with an ill patient, the more we learn about their condition, the better we can address it. When we can allow ourselves also to feel the effects of illness on our patient, we feel empathy, which helps the healing process in myriad ways, if only for its motivating power to help as much as we can.
Some forms of spirituality act directly to heal our ailing planet. Others do not. For myself, I choose to use my gifts, talents, and resources to contribute to healing our global rift with nature and our continuing slide towards more chaos. This spirituality recruits my intellect, emotional integration and resilience through shadow work (seeing what is hurt, ugly, hypocritical, and wounded), passion and courage, knowledge and experience as a holistic physician, creativity, writing skills, nature-based lifestyle, and activism.
Spirituality in Practice
To shed light on the appropriateness of various spiritual paths in today’s world, let’s consider an example. You are at the beach. You notice someone next to you meditating. Some others are on Facebook with their cell phones, sharing photos of the day. All of a sudden, someone in the water cries for help; someone is drowning. Not only someone, but the farmer and head cook for your community (imagine you live in times past)! You notice that some people ignore the calls for help, others begin to pray, some rush to the rescue, others throw their arms up in despair and do nothing, some send photos of the event to friends, the meditating man nearby remains seated with his eyes closed.
What would you do in this situation?
The drowning farmer-cook represents our planet — provider of nourishment for our survival. She is in peril. How does your spirituality help the situation? Does it respond in the same way to the collapse of the environment as it does to the drowning woman? Some spiritualities respond directly to the emergency by working and doing all they can to save us from the forces at work to throw natural balance beyond the tipping point. They act urgently, similar to saving a drowning woman.
We could say that each person responds according to a combination of her/his abilities, calling, beliefs, and availability. While this is likely true on one level, to what degree do wwe respond out of unreasonable fear, habit, apathy, and denial? Could each of us stand to wake up to the urgency of our collective situation and respond more directly to save the woman — our planet and humanity — if saving her is what is self-evidently the correct thing to do?
Try on this reality: imagine if it were your own child, or yourself drowning. What sort of spirituality would you want present at the beach with you? Would you want someone to pray for you, meditate on a different realm, or to jump in and keep you from drowning?
We are every part of this Earth. We depend on it, as every bit of it depends on each of us. I invite you to determine what you think is the underlying cause of planetary crisis, then recruit your personal gifts and talents, challenge your comfort zone and beliefs some, and respond as you see fit. I love you; we are all in this together.
About the author:
Jack Adam Weber is a licensed acupuncturist, master herbalist, author, organic farmer, celebrated poet, and activist for Earth-centered spirituality. He integrates poetry, ancient wisdom, holistic medicine, and depth psychology into passionate presentations for personal fulfilment as a path to planetary transformation.
Jack’s books, artwork, and provocative poems can be found at his website PoeticHealing.com. He can be reached at Jack@PoeticHealing.com or on Facebook.
“Keep it outwardly simple, inwardly rich.”