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Principles of Spiritual Activism

From Lynne Twist and the Turning Tide Coalition, San Francisco, CA

(download this as a Word Doc.)

Spiritual activism is a term pioneered by the Association for Global New and like-minded organizations to describe individuals who are spiritually-based but also believe we need to take action in the world to create positive change. Spiritual activism is Spirit and Love put into action, and prayer made visible.

“Our goal is to create a beloved community.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

If we really want to create a more compassionate and loving world, we first need to become more loving and compassionate, ourselves. We need a new vision of a society governed by love, where compassion is the high standard. Conflict between individuals, groups and nations is steeped in misunderstanding and distrust. Negative, fearful, angry thoughts fuel rhetoric from opposing sides that invariably leads to alienation. Nothing short of conscious communication producing sincere interactions will aid us in resolving our differences. Until our leaders understand this, there will be no lasting peace in the world.

How can we, as spiritual activists, help to improve this picture? The following principles and practices are a work in progress, and we truly welcome your comments:


1. Love those with whom we are in conflict.

This is a real challenge for most of us. Jesus said, “Love your neighbor as yourself” and “Love your enemy.” But how do we love individuals with whom we are in conflict?

a. First, we need to love, forgive and accept ourselves before we feel good enough to love our neighbors and our enemies.

b. We can fill our consciousness with love. A mind full of love cannot hold fear and anger at the same time.

c. Perform a small, loving act toward an adversary.

d. Continue to love and act with compassion even if we feel rejected or offended.

e. Look for things to value and appreciate about others. Try to see something they have done as a blessing. Listen carefully to what they have to say and to their reasoning. Look for a grain of truth in their logic and comments. Be compassionate for their circumstances and needs. Most individuals believe they are doing the best they.know how to do based on their information and experiences.

f. Know that our adversaries are expressing their highest and best qualities and are capable of making excellent decisions for the highest good of all concerned.

g. Know that all is well and all shall be well.

2. We are all spiritual beings. See the image of God in everyone.

Apprehend God in all things
For God is in all things
Every creature is full of God
and is a book about God.
Every creature is a word of God!
- Meister Eckhart

3. We are all connected and part of the web of life.

Chief Seattle said so eloquently, “The earth belongs to all of us and to our unborn children.”

Furthermore, physicists know that at a sub-atomic level we are all just energy vibrating at different frequencies and that our energy fields connect with, and influence, one another.

4. We can pray. Prayer is powerful and effective and should precede all actions.

We pray for ourselves for strength, patience and intelligence to do this work and for guidance and wisdom to say and do the right thing as we walk on this path.

We pray for each other, our leaders, our nation, all life, and the planet.

We pray for our adversaries. Holding negative thoughts about our leaders or adversaries is counterproductive. It leads to polarization and alienation. Pray for their well-being, guidance and a positive resolution of any differences between us.

We can pray or hold an intention for an expected outcome and for “win-win” solutions which provide the highest benefit for all concerned. But then we need to let it go with, “Not my will but thine be done.”

5. We are conscious beings and are part of a collective universal consciousness.

As such, our positive thoughts and intentions can have a beneficial impact on all life forms.

6. Shift our motivation for action from anger to love.

This work for the world can be uplifting and energizing when done out of love. We need to be clear that we are doing it out of our love and compassion for life and not because we are angry and fearful that we will all die.

7. Be aware of any negative thinking on our part.

Be alert for fearful or angry images which arise in our consciousness. We have a choice. We can let negative thoughts rule us and our behavior or we can replace these thoughts with more positive images.

Marianne Williamson says, “We have been given the power to transform the world, through our capacity to change how we think about the world.” We can transform our consciousness by lifting our thoughts out of fear, anger and negativity by affirming the highest God-given qualities and virtues for ourselves and others. Seek to be the highest expression of who we truly are.

We become that which we focus our attention on. If we engage in hostility, we become hostile. If we give love, we become loving. What we choose shapes and defines us.

8. Be willing to talk openly about love.

This is not generally done in our culture. We need classes and churches which will teach people how to love others. We need to move beyond individual, personal love to social love.

9. To promote peace, we need to become peaceful ourselves.

Meditating can help us develop peace and learn to live more in a state of love.

10. Develop a non-attachment to outcome.

Buddhists believe this is the path out of suffering.

11. Let go of the need to be right and in control.

Be open to all possibilities.

12. When involved in a dispute, focus on the issues rather than attacking the opposition.

13. We should not isolate ourselves from the pain and suffering of the world.

As we let the pain in, we become transformed, compassionate and motivated to action.

14. God created life and we are intelligent beings capable of creative genius.

We can co-create, with God, a better future.

15. Peaceful, non-violent direct action is an appropriate way to demonstrate our protest to harmful, unjust laws or practices.

16. We are all One with God, each other and all life.

In this oneness, may we love one another and be of service.