It’s not often that we come across a vision that really moves us. When I came across “Spirit Matters” it “arrived in [my] life at exactly the right moment,” as Michael Lerner’s preface suggested it had.
I had just started my first semester as a graduate student in Secondary Education, after having graduated with a bachelor’s in Philosophy in the spring. When I first started college four years ago, I was a wide-eyed idealist and a political junkie – not two descriptions you often hear together! Actually, I had been interested in politics since I was in elementary school because to my young and naïve mind, it seemed that what I was watching on television was a series of thoughtful, philosophical debates about the true, the good, and the beautiful and what a society based on these things would look like. Nobody embodied these hopes more than Barack Obama in 2008. I became enamored with his message. I was convinced that real, meaningful change was on the way and accordingly felt that a career in politics would be the realm in which I would find the greatest sense of meaning and purpose in my life. I enrolled at the University of Scranton in 2009 as a Political Science major, and boy, was I in for an appropriate “smack down” at the hand of the truth.
I began to learn just how corrupt things in the political world really are. I worked on Joe Sestak’s losing Senate campaign against Pat Toomey, a staunch neocon who stood for everything I stood against. I began to watch documentaries such as The Corporation that shocked me into a new sense of awareness (For those of you who haven’t seen it, the basis of the film is a critique of corporations as legal “persons.” It uses the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders’ criteria to diagnose a corporation as a sociopath). It began to become clear to me that the interests of wealthy elites and their organizations had a strangle-hold on the way our politics are conducted; it became clear that what I was seeing on television was the farthest thing from a true debate, it was essentially corporate propaganda. Further, I was immensely disappointed in the results I was seeing from President Obama and his administration: dragging out the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, failing to close Guantanamo Bay, failing to truly address climate change and other dire ecological concerns, expanding the scope of drone strikes and spying, and on and on. I also became aware of Monsanto’s power over our government and our food supply and the horrible human rights record that this company had routinely gotten away with while maintaining a strong influence on government policy.
As you might expect, all of this new information plunged me into a state of existential crisis that would last for three years. My sense of purpose was gone and my dark night of the soul had begun. Ever since then, I have felt like a wanderer and a rebel without a cause. I do not wish to denigrate or disrespect the last three years of my life. I’ve learned and grown so much, including a profound experience of mystical awareness of what Lerner describes the “Unity of All Being.” But this shake-up in my psyche and reorientation of my soul presented an enormous challenge. Paradoxically, it turns out that the more you talk to other people about the interconnected nature of the universe, the primacy of love over fear, and the centrality of spirituality to human life, the more often people will look at you as though you have three heads. Sure, I have some friends who feel the same way, but many of them had seemed to “accept” that their vision of the world isn’t “realistic” because “people are just too stupid to get it.” And I have to admit, this line of thinking is one that I often found myself falling into as well.
When I came across “Spirit Matters,” I had become resigned to the “fact” that no community of like-minded people could possibly exist and be a viable force for change in the “real world.” I had regained a sense of meaning from my pursuit of a career as an educator, feeling as I feel now that it is a wonderful opportunity to participate in the positive reshaping of society. But I had no real sense of hope of finding a relevant spiritual or political community of people who shared in a vision that spoke to my sensibilities. Imagine my surprise and joy when, as I made my way through the pages of Spirit Matters, I felt my deepest concerns, fears, and aspirations being spoken to. I had learned to view myself as “strange,” “a dreamer,” and almost “alien” for being concerned about the things that matter to me. It is an honor and a privilege to now be a part of the Tikkun community, and I look forward to sharing my vision with all of you so that we can co-create a world based on love and caring: the new bottom line.