For thousands of years people of faith have gathered together to form a supportive community to pray, discover a deeper relationship with their Higher Power, study and contemplate consciousness, and to perform acts of service for those less fortunate than themselves. Sometimes these communities were organized around a rule of life, sometimes they were a more spontaneous gathering of like-minded souls wishing to have support in their journey of seeking a deeper meaning to life.
Today many spiritual seekers appear reluctant to commit to a community stating that the expectations of such a group is likely to cramp their freedom of expression and inhibit their exploration of personal truth. A feeling of entitlement seems to pervade most technologically advanced nations. People grow up expecting to have leisure time, early retirement, comfort, and praise for any effort, however small, he or she puts into a project. Individuals don’t expect to put up with the personality quirks of a partner or a friend, instead there is a demand that these others contribute to their well-being and happiness. “My needs are not being met!” is the cry of the disaffected, disillusioned populace at large.
Having just returned from China where religion has only recently been tolerated again after being all but eliminated in the last century I noticed a dissatisfaction among the youth who were taught that being a good consumer would truly free them from suffering and lead to happiness. They are hungry for something more…but they don’t want the old traditions of spirituality. What can we tell them? What can we say to all of the cynical and disappointed multitudes of our own nation?
Perhaps we can start by recognizing that we have a biological imperative to belong, contribute, and share affection with others. If we understand that it is our personal need for sanctuary, love, and emotional security that are driving us both into and away from interpersonal relationships we can find the inner values that might allow us to have those experiences. What we value is the very thing we most need to contribute.
Current wisdom implies that we don’t need teachers anymore, that everything we need to become is already inside of us. Everything we need to become is inside of us…but transforming that energy from what we expect to get into what we expect to give is a journey that requires a teacher, a guide. Where are the guides who can demonstrate such a treasure? If books could liberate us this world would be a paradise for there are tens of thousands of books telling us how to be, think, and live. If movies and Youtube videos could enlighten us into compassionate spiritual beings our world would be unrecognizable today.
Instead consider this- Everything we believe and know was taught to us by someone. What do you want a spiritual community to be? Can you demonstrate that gift? Can you learn from those Great Beings who have gone before…and if you are fortunate can you learn something from the Great Beings around you?
Some Possibilities to Consider
Belonging and sharing we accept and forgive
so we can follow hope and have a meaningful life.
Seeking to live selflessly we work together.
We are a collective of embodied souls who seek to share
the sacred song of life and remember ancient wisdom.
With unity and action we take on the responsibility
to share love and goodness in our world.
With common purpose we leave no one
outside of grace.
We are a people who seek to honor and cherish
the sacredness of all life and all beings.
In the Grace of Great Spirit
may it be so!