Tikkun Magazine, Winter 2011
Nine Qualities of the Spiritual Activist
by Kabir Helminski
One of the most important challenges for Tikkun readers like me who have become involved in the Network of Spiritual Progressives is to work on the relationship between our inner lives and what we can effect in the outer world. The most effective activism is from the soul to the outer world, so each of us must also do the work of creating spiritual coherence within our own souls. For this we need to access the most reliable sources of wisdom that tradition offers as a step toward uncovering the wisdom within our own nature:
1. Clear and penetrating vision. This world is the theater of divine manifestation in which the spiritual activist calls upon the names of God that are needed in any particular circumstance. In one circumstance patience may be needed; in another, forgiveness; in another, harmony; in another, justice, discernment, mercy, compassion, or conviction.
2. Understanding the divine communication when it is offered to the hearts of the servants. Our life in the world is continually a call and response. Sometimes the response is veiled, sometimes it is a kind of divine speech, sometimes events are a waking dream calling for interpretation, and sometimes the heart receives a direct address from within.
3. Knowing how to translate from the world of possibility to the world of engendered existence. The translator must find the language that can be understood and the right "words" within that language. Spiritual activists are the inheritors of the prophets and embody the spirit of prophethood.
4. Delegating the appropriate powers among the holders of authority. The spiritual activist will eventually be called upon to assign responsibilities wisely so that there is the necessary equilibrium between the person and the role.
5. Assuming sovereignty selflessly -- balancing stringency with mercy, and mercy with stringency.
6. Knowing the forms of sustenance needed to sustain the heart and soul of servanthood. Wherever we place our attention we receive impressions; we can use our conscious will to discern what supports our spiritual vitality and to transform what can be transformed.
7. Awareness of the interpenetration of spiritual and material realities in order to be both inspired in action and spiritually grounded.
8. Giving oneself totally in order to serve the true welfare of humanity.
9. Assuming responsibility for the transformation of what must be transformed to fulfill the needs of the time. The spiritual activist practices a social alchemy through the spiritual capacities of our own being, including the highest frequencies of love.
Shaikh Kabir Helminski is the author of Living Presence, The Knowing Heart, and many translations of Rumi and other Sufis. He founded and codirects the Threshold Society (Sufism.org) and in 2009 was named one of the "500 Most Influential Muslims in the World."
Source Citation: Helminski, Kabir. 2011. Nine Qualities of the Spiritual Activist. Tikkun 26(1): 47