To begin with the first part, it is all about going within and getting to know yourself. A lot of hidden motives get wrapped up in any kind of spiritual movement out there, and one of those motives is that by making the world seem safer and kinder that we'll feel better. The discerning spiritual seeker soon learns that for he or she to become a spiritual finder you have to want to know what doesn't feel good inside. Where is this feeling coming from? Why is it being triggered?
Because no matter how much you try to fix others or save the world, that feeling still belongs to you, and it won't leave until you've addressed it.
Many of you will notice that the mind still likes to "run" as you meditate, and this can make meditation quite uncomfortable. But who's fault is that? This isn't a blame game, but we must take responsibility for what we've created in our lives. And the movement and energy most people have been cultivating are fear, distrust, discontent, anger, craving, and a host of other things that perpetuate our lack of "good" feelings. We have to sit down and regularly build a spiritual practice to help ourselves break free because human beings tend to be such creatures of habit. If you don't build up that inner momentum, you never really catch fire and get shifting in earnest inside. You may simply stay in a low orbit without coming back down to earth.
After the Fire and the BurnBut the beautiful thing for those of you who will walk a very individual spiritual path is that you are interconnected with all beings everywhere. This is the truth of oneness. We are all one. So how can one of us shift and that not ripple out to the rest of the universe? For the tiny, narrow view of the ego mind, this is hard to accept. It wants proof, and it wants proof in a way that it can discern and get a trophy for it. "Ah ha! Look because I let go of my daddy issues, my daughter could choose a better husband!"
But it rarely is this clear cut if ever. As such, we have to return to trust and faith again and again. It's the only rational way to live in this world because there are so many forces and energies moving all the time, who can really say what influences what? In some ways, we become extremely humble about the very idea of creating spiritual movements and change because of the vastness of the universe. We truly are tiny little ants in the grand scheme of things. And yet, we also acknowledge the depth and wonder of our power. In the new life you are forging after the burning down of an old one, you will be confronted with the amazing paradox of your immense power and powerlessness, and you will be at peace with it.
The Ripples Begin to SpreadWhile we don't take credit for all the stuff that happens around it, you do start to get senses of the movements that are arising around you. This can be especially true in the space of family where people have such deep and immediate impacts on each other. If you're a dad and you no longer are having angry tantrums, your whole family may be opening up and relaxing a great deal. You may find that you enjoy your family more and more, and this probably has an impact on how your kids start relating to others in their life. Where one of your kids was always getting into fights, he's now calmer too (because kids are absolute sponges to their parents energies). Which means you're spending less time in the principal's office. The principal has more time for other aspects of administration and school management, and who knows how that benefits a whole school of children? We probably will never be able to measure that, but this is the nature of spiritual movement. In dealing with your irrational anger in this example, there are already ripples benefiting dozens or hundreds of people.
The Tide of Spiritual Change RisesNow, as I switch over for the spiritual leaders reading this, some of you will find that you are called to engage more with spiritual community, with specific causes, and with other initiatives that influence more than just yourself. In this scenario, doing your inner work becomes more critical. Especially for those spiritual teachers or future spiritual teachers who are reading this, your inner work is vital to maintain a clear inner space and to continue to deal with new issues that arise. The more people whom you connect with, the more mirrors you have to show you different aspects of yourself. In this way, you have an opportunity to go even deeper into your divine being through relationships and building a spiritual movement, but it is not an inherently easy road.
Thus, the work in building a genuine spiritual movement still starts with you. If you are the engine in the car, everything stops going if you break down. Retreats and self-care will continue to be of great importance even as you bring a vision or an idea to people and inspire them to make changes. And there are many kinds of spiritual movements you can be a part of. Here's a few that come to mind:
- Promoting healthy eating and protecting the purity of our food sources
- Protecting and preserving the land
- Teaching children new coping skills to live mindfully and let go of pain
- Teaching adult the above skills as well as how to go more deeply within
- Leading global changes of any of the above
- Leading peaceful regime changes
- Negotiating peaceful resolutions between parties in conflict (husband and wife, warring nations, etc.)
- Teaching others how to develop spiritual communities
There are plenty more. The are movements around causes like helping victims of sexual abuse or even torture. The world needs movements towards healing and deeper spiritual awareness on virtually every level, but the best one for you to lead is the one that resonates most deeply with your soul.
Gathering Your SupportersNow, we start to get into the down-to-earth details. Any movement that you'll be creating will require support from others who believe in the movement. It's not enough to simply assume that things will happen. As I said earlier, human beings are creatures of habit. They see what they see and accept that that's simply how things are. But we didn't have roads and cell phones and cars among many other things. While many people simply accept these things as part of life now, these things were envisioned and actively created. As such, we can envision many things, but then we have to do the work to bring it to life.
In so doing, you will quickly be confronted by the fact that life is not a perfect place, and the people attracted to your spiritual movement won't always be coming with pure motives. That's why building a grow of close supporters is important as you forge down this path. They too probably need to do some level of spiritual self-care, but you can't really get too picky either. It's the ego that's looking for perfection of some kind, and this world does not operate from those ideas. In general, we're looking for situations and supporters that are good enough and are workable. Consider that as you select your closest supporters. Everyone will be growing further as you develop your spiritual movement too, so where people are in their inner development initially isn't necessarily where they'll be in a couple of years.
Think Long-Term, Think Small VictoriesIt is particularly Western thinking to want everything right now. We may all be here and now, but this world does operate in time. So I encourage you to think long-term and think in small victories. The patience and gradual building up of small victories lead to bigger victories down the road. For instance, you may be starting a movement to help more families in inner cities. You want to teach them tools for greater mindfulness to help combat domestic violence. You will probably be confronted by a string of unsuccessful stories as the people you work with may not know how to implement what you're offering. They may not be ready. You may not be offering it appropriately or may not see the full picture yet. So as you're doing this work individual by individual, you may not feel like much change at all is happening, and your idea to set up these kinds of spiritual counseling centers around the world may seem light-years away. Take heart. The spiritual movement is always built off of this moment, and it grows quietly in its own way. It is already successful in the eyes of the divine if you are doing this from a place of love. If you are still doing it to fix others or make yourself feel good in some way, your spiritual movement is corrupted. It's time to go back inside.
The Growing of Your Spiritual MovementFor some of you, you may grow quite monumentally. This brings with it greater trade-offs--both the ability to do immense good for others as well as the greater strain of having more and more demands placed on you. If your counseling centers take off, you could very well end up as a CEO and never do the counseling you love. Or you'd have to give that CEO position to someone else and abide by their decisions. As I said, life is full of trade-offs.
Nonetheless, growing spiritual movements like my counseling center example are good things. And I honor those of you who want to go beyond yourself and the beautiful inner work you've done to bring greater love and harmony to the world. There's no real way to measure true success though. That's always something that's best left to God to decide. However, in growing a spiritual movement, you've offered the world new tools and healthier ways of living in balance and harmony that are badly needed. Some day, some of these tools may even become natural, and many people will accept these the same way they accept the commonality of cell phones or cars. On that day, perhaps, we'll all smile and know that something truly has taken root from all these quiet moments working in the dark places and perhaps the world is a little better off than it once was.