Into the World
“Go far enough on the inner journey...go past ego toward true self...you end up not lost in narcissism but returning to the world, bearing more gracefully the responsibilities that come with being human.”
Parker Palmer (Let Your Life Speak)
If you're anything like me, and I suspect you are, you have passed through many phases of spiritual exploration. My own journey has included a lot of study and experimentation. I have passed through both fundamental and progressive Christianity, Buddhism, Native American Shamanism, Taoism, Psychology, especially of the Body-Mind and Jungian varieties, and arrived at a hodgepodge I call universal mystical spirituality. I have learned something from each tradition that I value, and I am at peace with my own version of what it means to be “a spiritual person.”
It is not enough, in my world view, to simply read, and study, and think deeply if doing so does not change your relationship to the world. It is the action of engaging with community that brings faith alive. All of the world's great religions, as well as all psychological schools of thought, are aimed at making human beings more whole, empathetic, and ethical. They give us a platform, and a frame of reference, from which to lead with compassion and care. They are the foundation upon which we stand, and from which we offer our services to the people and causes we care about.
Perhaps you don't think of yourself as a leader. Some of us, myself included, are worker-bees, not queens. But if we are serious about our spiritual life, or about our psychological development, then leadership is everyone's vocation. Taking responsibility for doing what is needed by your community is a crucial part of your spiritual journey, and is just as important as reading about what Jesus, or Gandhi, or Jung did for theirs. Taking the initiative of standing up, speaking from your heart, and putting into action what your faith has taught you is leadership. You lead simply by being present, and ready to assist.
The inner journey is not one of self-absorption. It is one of caring for community in ways both small and large. It is gracefully accepting the responsibilities that come with simply being human.
In the Spirit,