Reflections on Sane Spirituality

Spirituality and the Middle East

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Is it only me? I find what's happening in the middle east, revolution after revolution, demonstration after demonstration, a profound expression of human spiritual determination.

For me, Spirit and the life dedicated to sane spirituality, is not about some particular way to talk. It's not about God or Buddha Mind or some such. It's not about meditation or Tai Chi or prayer, though these are all good tools to help it.

The life of spirit, or what we call Sane Spirituality, is about the human growth towards real and unhesitant freedom. We do our psychological work to become free of the old confusions and pains, and find emotional freedom. We find work that suits us deeply so that our work can be lived in a spirit of freedom. We do our meditation or our prayer so that we can be deeply free in the way you can be when deeply present, deeply open to self and world. I think our work to create organizations that are conscious and honest is a way to achieve freedom within our organizations and teams.

And this is of a piece with the kind of political freedom those courageous young people in Egypt and Tunisia and Bahrain and all over the middle East are clamoring for. Political freedom is of a piece with spiritual freedom: its the context in which they can think what they want to think freely. Say what they want to say without fear of reprisal or danger. Express what they want to express with marches or with blogs or articles.

In one sense the freedom they are seeking, and in some cases winning, is more primary or basic than the spiritual freedom many of us are about. In another sense, it is just the same. As an American, I count on the fact that I can think whatever I think without fear of reprisal. It may not be persuasive, but I won't be killed or jailed for what i think or even say, within reason. Nor do I feel that I should not think as I do. So in this sense, political freedom is the ground on which I stand. My thoughts, strange though they are, stands on the freedom that our founding fathers left us.

In another sense though, its just the same stuff. When I am constricted, in any way, I want to wriggle and wriggle until I am no more. So the Freedom they want to gain in Egypt is a constriction; the freedom they will seek after this one is probably more interpersonal or personal, the freedom to marry whom they wish, or the freedom to believe as they choose or the freedom from the subtler constrictions that make us all feel caught or unhappy.

Constriction, like a bunch of sticks stuck behind a rock in a river, just wants to be overcome. Or we want to overcome it. It's about as natural a drive as is the drive of the river to ease that blockage.

I'm excited for those young people in the Middle East. Some have found this foundational freedom, which will be a beginning of their spiritual quest. Some will find it.

And I am proud to see yet another piece of humanity enter the path towards freedom, freedom, everywhere.

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