Spiritual Practice in Troubled Times
When your dedication to something is fueled by a profound intention to benefit all life, you might call it your spiritual practice. The word practice here is very specific. In the context of Mindful Compassionate Dialogue, practice means cultivating the compassion, wisdom, and skills to continuously and subtly notice what truly serves life. This practice doesn't require you to adopt or set aside any beliefs about God, life after death, or the existent of immaterial beings, etc. But it does ask you to commit. You are asked to commit to an experiment in learning, contemplation, and engagement, and notice exactly what happens. You are asked to inquire about what serves life and what doesn't - rather than take a stand on what you believe or don't believe.
Something happens when you don't ask yourself to decide what's true about reality, or what kind of person so and so is, or what kind of label you should apply to such and such group, or what the one "right" way is: you find freedom from the dense fog of bias and prejudice. Your mind turns away from abstractions and towards life that is happening in the moment.
You find the freedom to engage with life fully and it is deeply fulfilling.
If you follow politics here in the United States, then your spiritual practice is likely being tested. There are many hooks trying to snare you into divisiveness. A mind caught in divisiveness asks the question "Who deserves to have their needs met and who doesn't?" Marshall Rosenberg called this the most violent question on the planet. While the language of fear is riddled with labels and pressure to choose sides, spiritual practice stays steady on turbulent seas and continuously asks questions like, "What most deeply serves life and how can I do that right now?"
In any moment you can come back to these spiritual questions and get grounded in your intention. In a moment of hearing something on the news, you can do this. And in that very moment you have stayed with your spiritual practice. If you keep asking, wisdom will answer you. It's essential to listen closely, for even the smallest engagement is of value. You may not change entire systems with your moment of softening into your heart and noticing what's happening, but this consistent practice will clear your mind and allow you to see the opportunity for big change when it comes.
Right now, what can you do that will ground you in your intention to benefit all life?