Introduction Editorial

Waters of Spirit


The sound of the rising tide is heard clearly
The miracle happens
A beautiful child appears in the heart of a lotus flower
One single drop of this compassionate water
Is enough to bring back the refreshing spring to our mountains and rivers.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, tr. from The Lotus Sutra

Dear Reader,

In a younger time, I was staying in a hut on a small island off the coast of Belize. The area was sparsely populated and the electric generator that powered the compound was off for the night. That day, I had been injured when I jumped off a dock onto a pointy shell that pierced my foot. I tossed and turned on my cot as the wind outside the hut howled. My foot was inflamed and I felt a sense of panic rising in me, alone and far from home. The darkness in the hut was stifling and humid as I forced myself to rise and hobble outside.

Immediately, I was transported to a paradise. The air was cool and the wind refreshing. Illuminated by the nearly-full moon, giant clouds flowed across the sky like floats in a parade. The sea glittered and heaved, a great breathing being as the palmetto leaves softly chattered. Pain and fear dissipated as I gazed in solitude and awe.

When I think of spiritual transformation, it is something like this vivid memory. We are often locked up in our suffering, fearful and alone. We imagine many terrible things that can befall us, our loved ones and the world. There does not seem to be any way out. And yet, we may only need to make one small step to see that the Mind of Creation is always right there, supporting us. We can call this nirvana, the presence of God, or nature’s ‘animate intelligence’ to quote Jeremy Lent. By any name, it is the unconditioned state of being where the soul soars free.

Of course, many who suffer severe pain and oppression do not find such relief and must wonder if their prayers fall on deaf ears. That is why we who have some relative comfort must make effort to rise above the noise and confusion of our time, simplify our small lives, and find common cause with the broken-hearted and marginalized.

At a time when people can barely agree on the color of the sky, what truths can we hold in common? Surely, we share a common concern for the wellbeing of our children and their children. How can we heal, reimagine and regenerate our world with this common love at its core? We are in the early stages of profound change on our planet, and this is the moment when people of goodwill must channel their energy in service to All – not just I, or even “we” in the narrow sense – but in service to all Earth’s children and all Life.

To do this work we need ways to tap our spiritual commons, human capacities for insight and awareness, resilience and creativity. These abundant collective resources also include ancestral wisdom, feelings of gratitude, wonder and awe, appreciation for beauty, our powers of concentration and insight, our capacity to awaken, spiritual traditions, and personal practices such as prayer and meditation. I see our spiritual commons as a river of pure life-giving waters that each of us can draw from freely. In this edition of Kosmos, we examine and explore these rich inner resources.

Steve Nation has written a beautiful Preface to the Edition and Joni Carley (who first described ‘spiritual commons’ to me), has written the Keynote. I hope you will begin your journey with these two essays. Maybe you have seen the recent Joanna Macy video, Climate Crisis As Spiritual Path. If not, it is twenty minutes well-spent. We spoke with the makers and have provided a full transcript. Please also read the brief and sobering Message from Haiti.

All spiritual ideas are ‘a commons’ and in this light we revisit seven ancient principles of Hermetic Law and re-read The Autobiography of a Yogi on the occasion of its 75th anniversary. James Quilligan and David Bollier have each written brilliantly about the global commons and our need to reassess how we value the natural world. There is much more. After each article, you will see related reading from previous editions of Kosmos – an ever-growing archive – and I hope you will return to dip your cup often.

Our Cover is At the Jordan River, a painting by Yoram Raanan. The Jordan River has since ancient times been imbued with powerful symbolism and layers of meaning. It is ‘both a boundary and a crossing point, a metaphor for spiritual rebirth and salvation, a shared resource and a source of holy water.’* It is the same with our spiritual commons, waters that quench our real thirst and awaken us to the miracles available in every moment.

Love, trust and gratitude,

Kosmos

* https://origins.osu.edu/article/baptized-jordan-restoring-holy-river

About Rhonda Fabian

Rhonda Fabian is Editor of Kosmos Quarterly. She is also a founding partner of Immediacy Learning, an educational media company that has created more than 2000 educational programs, impacted 30 million+ learners, and garnered numerous awards. Ms. Fabian is an ordained member in the Order of Interbeing, an international Buddhist community founded by her teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Read more