Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Calling All Spiritual Community Builders

This blog post is calling out to all of you community builders. You are the ones who naturally bring people together. It is your gift and perhaps your calling. You've been doing this for as long as you know, and it is something that simply comes to you. You may also still be a spiritual community builder even if you haven't already been doing it. It may be a dormant gift waiting for you to take the initiative to do something. To all of you, I'm writing today on a matter of the utmost urgency.

The State of Spiritual Segregation
There is perhaps no worse space of segregation and ongoing discrimination than between different religions and spiritual communities. There's no need to name names, but too many groups think that their way is the right way. And it doesn't matter if it's a New Age group or traditional religious group or whoever. The basic feeling and idea is that whatever you have is the right way, and what someone else is doing is wrong. At best, it's an idea that others can do whatever they like so long as they don't bother you.

But spirituality embraces all--and that includes all religious and spiritual groups. To this end, I encourage those of you who are community builders to build and continue building groups that embrace all faiths. Personally, I think it's important to let go of holding on to any one religion as the basis and to do your best to incorporate all. But I do expect that in each region, there will be proclivities towards certain types of spiritual practices. So perhaps, one group will have practices including Islam, Buddhism, and yogic practices. Another may be a mix of Judeo-Christianity and psychic energy work. It doesn't particularly matter to me what it is. What is important is creating greater space for diversity, inclusion, and mutual understanding.

You Have to Understand Your Way Through This
Right now, a lot of people don't want to understand other spiritual practices. And it's not important that you believe exactly what someone else believes. I don't think anyone ever really does because we are all unique to ourselves and our understandings. But it is important to learn how to loving accept people with different views within your community as opposed to giving them the cold shoulder and wondering why they are coming here and why they won't think and behave like everyone else. It's been really frosty in a lot of communities if you don't tow the religious/spiritual line. That must change so that we can embrace the whole of spiritual beliefs and embrace all of human community.

Not Creating a Jim Tolles Fan Club
Just to be exquisitely clear, I'm not interested in setting up Jim Tolles Spiritual Groups. That's not what this post is about. This is about learning how to set up spiritual groups that can accept and integrate multiple faiths into their setting. Every place and every group, as I mentioned above, will have tendencies towards different practices and belief systems. As a community builder, you'll have a lot of influence over what spiritual talks, works, and practices you share. But you will have to listen to your community to find out what works for the majority while at the same time making space for the minority to stay involved and not get lost underneath popular sentiment. If for any reason you care to share my blogs at these things, that's cool. But seriously, I'm not interested in having a whole bunch of people devoted to me. I'm interested in how you learn to be authentically devoted to yourselves.

Step 1: What Would You Like to Do?
At the center of this will be you, so you probably should find some inspiring works or practices that you'd like to share on a regular basis. Maybe you'll share YouTube clips from inspiring teachers like Mooji, and then you have a group discussion afterwards. You could do this weekly, once a month, or any other timeframe you like. That's the great thing about being the spiritual community builder; you can decide these things initially based on what you can give. Perhaps you feel like setting up a weekly meditation. You can do all kinds of meditations--guided or not. You can have walks in nature for those of you who are very in touch with the land and feel your sense of spirituality really rooted there. There are lots of ways to do this, and I encourage you to give it a try even if it seems like no one in your region would be interested. You don't know until you make the space who really wants this nor how many people will show up.

I also really encourage you to break out of the sit and lecture paradigm that has gone on before. People need to be engaged as well as be allowed to explore all the amazing wisdom that's in the many different spiritual traditions.

I'm a Resource
What I really am is a resource for spiritual community builders. I'm an idea man, and occasionally, I may even be persuaded to do a talk (thanks to Skype, I can literally do it wherever you have an Internet connection). But mostly, I'm here to encourage you to do what you are already called to do. Don't wait for someone else to build these communities. The time is now. So many people are waking up, and they really, really, REALLY need a safe, nurturing and understanding place to go. I'm not saying that there aren't those places already (and if you are already a community builder, feel free to contact me to let me know what you are up to). What I'm saying is that we need even more. We need them in every quadrant of the world. They won't necessarily be big. These groups may only have a couple people, or good heavens, they may get really huge really fast. People are starving for safe spiritual places where they don't feel like they're being judged and condemned. Creating these places is a sacred trust, but as I said, if this is your calling, you will know how to do this and be able to find all the resources when you need them, including me.

Building Spiritual Community for the Next Wave of Spiritual Awakening
I know a lot of people have been talking about spiritual awakening in recent years, but I'm telling you that my sense is that this is just the tip of the iceberg--the very edge of a greater wave. More waking up is coming, and a lot of people with even less idea about what to do or what spirituality is are going to be hurled out of bed. They're going to need you. They're going to need what you can offer. They need all of us. So if this is your calling and this blog post really resonates with you, it's time to get started.

I've already set up a spiritual community page on this blog to collect my suggestions and resources for you, and if you want to talk with me directly, please do so through my contact form and put "Spiritual Community" in the title. Together, we can help dissolve the unnecessary spiritual segregation that has gone on and help build the sacred spaces of tomorrow.

Today's lovely photo comes from my student, Jenn.
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