Practical Mysticism

Those of us who started meditation in the 1960’s and early 70’s felt we needed to find an alternative to protesting the Vietnam war, injustice and the corporate consumer culture. We were activists who discovered we also had to change our consciousness.

Now many of you in newer generations have learned to meditate, and you, too, want to change your consciousness and this troubled world. Caring deeply about climate change, economic and racial justice, you are insisting we must address both urgent needs together: the need for more loving awareness and for change in the world. This is what the shaman Angeles Arrien called “walking the mystical path with practical feet.” Inner stillness and a caring response are like the rhythm of our breath, our heartbeat; they cannot be separated. Mindfulness meditation can reawaken us to the sacredness of all life and inspire our living connection with all things.

When you sit and quiet your mind and tend your heart, you open a doorway.  You can naturally hear your own inner stirrings, and sense beautifully some ways you can make a difference, not out of anxiety or fear, but from the power within you, the power of love and care.

The environmental activist and Buddhist scholar Joanna Macy, now in her 90’s, says, “There’s a song that wants to sing itself through each of us. We just have to be available. Maybe the song is the most beautiful requiem for an irreplaceable planet or maybe it’s a song of joyous rebirth as we create a new culture that doesn’t destroy its world.  The troubles we face seems almost orchestrated to bring forth from us our biggest moral strength, courage, and creativity. Our own determined energy and our heart and mind can have much more effect on the larger picture than we’re accustomed to think. It is a very exciting time to be alive.”

Maybe the mystical path Angeles Arrien speaks of is also the path of mystery. You and I live in the mystery of human incarnation. For humans there are great difficulties and great possibilities. I know that when I quiet myself, I can rise up – so you can you! – to offer your song and your spirit, your hands and your hearts, tending the whole as a practice of love. 


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