The New Spirituality

Ever since I was a little nine-year old, I wrote idealistic poetry arising from an innocent heart that burst with love and compassion! During confirmation year at my Jewish temple, I was ignited by the assertion that since the Big Bang, there has been a forward-moving trajectory toward a Messianic Era when the “lion will lie down with the lamb,” when “war shall be no more”, when humans will be aligned with the Good, the True, and the Beautiful to help God restore the world to what was originally intended. How will that be accomplished, I wondered.

For my senior essay in a high school creative writing class, I chose to write on “In Search of Peace of Mind,” and that topic has never left me.  I had read Browning’s poetic exclamation, “Come grow old with me, the best is yet to be!” and thought, why wait till one is old for the “best” to be? My seeker self was born!  Whether exposed to the beauty of the Catholic Mass when living in France, or immersed in the chants of Buddhist monks while meditating in Thailand, or sitting in silence with Quakers, or traveling to sacred Jain pilgrimage sites in India with a Jain Master, or studying with Sufi masters, my experience of silence and the sacred became paramount to me.

Even with two young children who were born in Bangkok, meditation retreats lured me often. Retreats not only with the Buddhists, Jains, and Sufis, but also with a Nadayoga Master who played the sitar while we meditated until what remained was the inner Sound, as if the Universe was singing to us within subtle inner ears. As President of the Yoga Teachers’ Alliance, I was privileged to meet Swami Chidananda of Rishikesh. Once I asked him, “If there is only the One or the non-dual, why do we pray as if there are two?” He said, “Human beings need to reach out in prayer, need to nurture the devotional, but ultimately, when leaving your body, you just take one step toward that One and instantly, there are no two, only One!”

Somehow, the question I had begun my quest with as to how humans were to help God to create a war-less world was leading to only one answer, inner peace, to find it oneself and share with others the way to achieve this.  I wrote and illustrated five books of my poetry over the years, delving into such themes as inner/outer peace, deep attunement to nature and feminine wisdom figures. I read in nursing homes and hospitals, became a social worker and created “Contact Healing” therapy to help people contact themselves in an allowing, self-compassionate, spacious way. I led meditation and global healing circles, did hands-on healing but something was always missing.  There was a sense of “not enough-ness,” both in myself and my accomplishments and in the world.  The world of being and doing was not yet integrated.

It was not until I heard Craig Hamilton speak about living beyond ego that I realized that the new spirituality helps one clearly differentiate one’s motives from ego-centered to ones that arise from a care for the whole, a care that includes oneself and impacts everyone, and demonstrates the way being and doing are integrally related. What Craig explains is that the sitting meditation is to learn how to let everything be as it is, including thoughts and feelings, and rather than resist them, simply not engage with them, to drop into a consciousness that cannot be located but which can be experienced.  It may lead to depth or not, but there is no attachment to arriving at any particular point. This leads to a recognizable egoless innocent consciousness out of which many inspirations can arise, fueling the “doing” part of one’s life, the quality of one’s relating, the leaning into one’s full potential and bringing forth one’s gifts in service to the whole.

I realized that by transforming the consciousness we are in when we serve the world, we impact the world.  Matching Tibetan teachings that our eternal MInd is like a “sky drenched with sunlight,” Craig points to that part in us which is spacious, conscious, and beyond the small mind. It is the Divine in us and thus has “never been and cannot be hurt.”  That awareness is what supports and blesses us to be egoless and fearless as we move to take on the challenges at hand.

Listening for the Evolutionary Impulse awakening in us, the new spirituality leads us to act on it, to serve the urgent needs of all of life with our own gifts,  without having to know details or outcome. It is giving out of fullness, not depletion or self-sacrifice. Compassion is present without compassion fatigue. It is no longer the spirituality of the mountaintop; no longer a solo journey. Acknowledging our interdependence, we regenerate our world as a collective of like-minded evolutionaries.  I now come full circle, my childhood ideal of the Messianic Era becomes a reality we move toward co-creating intentionally in partnership with the One and each other in a steady loving stream.