Principles of Spiritual Activism http://www.satyana.org The following principles emerged from several years' work with social change leaders. They are offered not as definitive truths, but rather as key learnings and guidelines that, taken together, comprise a useful framework for spiritual activism. Move from anger to compassion, from fear to love, and from despair to purpose. This is a vital challenge for today's social change movement. This is not to deny the noble emotion of appropriate anger or outrage in the face of social injustice. Rather, this entails a crucial shift from fighting against evil to instead working for love. A positive future cannot emerge from the mind of anger and despair. The long-term results are very different, even if the outer activities appear virtually identical. Let go of attachment to outcome. This can be difficult to put into practice. Yet to the extent that we are attached to the results of our work, we rise and fall with our successes and failures. Attachment to results is the path to burnout. Hold a clear intention, and let go of the outcome—recognizing that a larger wisdom is always operating. As Gandhi said, "the victory is in the doing," not the results. Also, remain flexible in the face of changing circumstances. In Eisenhower's words, "plans are useless, but planning is indispensable." Choose integrity as your protection. If your work has integrity, this will tend to protect you from negative energy and circumstances. You can often sidestep negative energy from others by becoming "transparent" to it, allowing it to pass right through you with no adverse effect upon you. This is a consciousness practice that might be called "psychic aikido." A noble goal cannot be achieved utilizing ignoble means. Integrity in both means and ends cultivates integrity in the fruit of one's work. Have compassion for your adversaries. Don't demonize those you see as opposed to you. It only makes them more defensive and less receptive to your views. People tend to respond to arrogance with their own arrogance, creating rigid polarization. Be a perpetual learner, always working to understand those who are different from you and to challenge your own views. Remember that you are unique. Find and fulfill your true calling. It is better to tread your own path, however humbly, than that of another, however successfully. Love thy enemy. Or at least, have compassion for them. This means moving from "us vs. them" thinking to "we" consciousness, from separation to cooperation, recognizing that we human beings are ultimately far more alike than we are different. This may be challenging in situations with people whose views are radically opposed to yours. Yet you can be hard on the issues and soft on the people. Let your work be both for yourself and others. The full harvest of your work may not take place in your lifetime, yet your efforts now are making possible a better life for future generations. Let your fulfillment come in gratitude for being called to do this work, and from doing it with as much compassion, authenticity, and fortitude as you can muster. Know that selfless service is a myth. In serving others, we serve our true selves. "It is in giving that we receive." We are sustained by those we serve, just as we are blessed when we forgive others. Service work is enlightened self-interest, because it cultivates an expanded sense of self that includes all others. Do not insulate yourself from the pain of the world. Shielding yourself from heartbreak prevents transformation. Let your heart break open, and learn to move in the world with a broken heart. Your pain is the medicine by which the physician within heals. When we open ourselves to the pain of the world, we become the medicine that heals the world. A broken heart becomes an open heart, allowing genuine transformation to unfold. Live with clear intentions, as you become that upon which you focus. You reap what you sow, so choose your actions carefully. Your essence is pliable, and ultimately you become that upon which you most deeply focus your attention. If you constantly engage in battles, you become embattled yourself. If you constantly give love, you become love itself. Let love create form. Quoting Martin Luther King, don't get trapped by "pessimism concerning human nature that is not balanced by an optimism concerning divine nature," lest you overlook the cure of grace. Let your heart's love infuse your work and you cannot fail, though your dreams may manifest in ways different from what you imagine. Rely on faith, and let go of having to figure it all out. There are larger 'divine' forces at work that we can trust completely without knowing their precise workings or agendas. Faith means trusting the unknown, and offering yourself as a vehicle for the intrinsic benevolence of the cosmos. The first step to wisdom is silence. The second is listening. If you genuinely ask inwardly and listen for guidance, and then follow it carefully, you are working in accord with these greater forces. This then transforms you into an instrument for their music.