By Corinne McLaughlin
This article has been taken from CICNS: http://www.cicns.net/Politique_Spiritualite_Reunies.htm
Spirituality? Politics? How dare we mention these two words in the same breath? One can be a spiritual seeker or political activist but not both. When caught in the dual mind of "this or that", politics and spirituality appear as two different worlds, two different dimensions that should not be mixed.
But practically speaking, spirituality can ennoble politics - a politics which is rooted in spirituality. Spirituality can help us leave behind the ego and instincts of power at the door and really serve the good of all. Politics may provide a practical arena for applying spiritual principles, such as compassion and, in addition, the media will give us "feedback" instantly if our actions are inconsistent with our promises.
Gandhi had no difficulty putting together spirituality and politics. He said: “I could not be leading a religious life unless I identified myself with the whole of mankind, and that I could not do, unless I took part in politics”.
What about the separation of church and state in our country? The founding fathers (and mothers) have never said that we should not discuss spiritual principles in the political arena but that the state should not impose religious beliefs on its citizens or interfere in the practice of their religion.
"The Church" is a term that refers to organised religion with a specific dogma and practices. But spirituality evokes the inner values of life connected to the Transcendent. She speaks of the qualities of the human spirit such as love and courage. Religion can help to be more spiritual but spirituality is not dependent on religion.
A recent survey showed that 84% of Americans believed that "the government would be better if the laws were based on moral values." Many of us aspire for politics based on spirituality, working from a moral standpoint, a politics that does not only seek personal interests of parties confronting each other. We expect a political discourse that speaks to us of fundamental values of the human being, which brings a broader sense of community and a transcendental purpose to our nation, a higher vision of public life and service for the common good, rather than encouraging power and lust.
If we can discuss spiritual values in public life, we can demand accountability from our leaders. The public has clearly expressed its rejection of negative campaigns and candidates today are trying also to convince their voters that their country is the most positive. Many voters confide that calls to honesty, service and sacrifice on the part of the candidates had attracted their votes.
How can we recognise spiritual politics? Here are some essential qualities:
· Honesty and integrity
· Determination to stay on the course of specific topics.
· Fairness and Equity
· Compassion for the disadvantaged
· To work for the good of all
· Respect and courtesy, especially for opponents
· Openness and Collaboration
· Consciousness that everything is interconnected
· Faith in a higher power
By doing the research for my book, "Spiritual Politics", I discovered that politics based on spirituality began to emerge in different parts of the country and it embodied the principles and values of the world's spiritual traditions. The new policy is based on four approaches:
1. Find a common ground for greater understanding to resolve conflicts and create laws
Most spiritual traditions respect the element of truth contained in all facets of conflict. They promote healing, reconciliation and forgiveness. The training of the initiates in the ancient schools understood paradoxical thinking, the ability to support two opposing perceptions simultaneously. The Taoists teach that Yin and Yang, the two opposing polarities, support each other in a dynamic equilibrium. Buddhists teach "the middle way" and in the Jewish Kabbalah, the tree of life, the central pillar indicates the path of equilibrium between pairs of opposites.
Einstein said that we cannot solve a problem from the same level of consciousness as that which created it. We need a higher common ground. Many recent political approaches have gone beyond the traditional approach of right or left to find common ground on some thorny issues.
2. Promoting best practice, spiritual solutions for social problems
Many of these solutions have been found and implemented by associations representing a "third force" beyond the government and businesses, embodying the spirit of service that is found in all religions. Their solutions are more effective because they perceive the human being as a whole, mind-body-soul and aim to transform lives rather than provide only food and accommodation. In the US, the government has recognised their effectiveness, a 1996 law that reformed the social program has added a clause of "charitable choice" that allows any spiritual organisation to be in "competition" with the government to provide social services best suited.
3. Centre for "Visionary Leadership"
At the centre for "Visionary Leadership" (Centre for Visionary Leadership) of which I am a founder in Washington, we designed a prayer to help heal what divides us. Our members pray every day at noon with others worldwide. We also encourage the "Adopt a Leader" programme of choosing leader in need of spiritual help and with real potential and follow his career closely, praying or meditating for him that he may follow consistently spiritual principles and that he serves for the good of all.
4. Working to change our consciences
Our negative thought patterns are the root causes of problems in the world. Medical research has shown that our thoughts affect our personal health but we must also explore the collective thoughts that affect our social health. The eternal wisdom of the East and the West tells us that we can change the world by changing our consciousness. In the West, the Bible says, "As a man thinketh, so he is" and in the same way, the Buddhists say "We create the world with our thoughts." Mind and thought are the makers and then form follows. The interaction between human thought and Divine creates reality.
(...) We will be better agents of change if we reunite politics and spirituality.