Developing a Spiritual Practice as a Way to Change Men and the World
At a recent gathering, I heard a man say the following: We are concerned with what type of world we are leaving our children; We should also ask what type of children are we leaving for the world.
As a practicing Buddhist for over ten years, my belief system is simple, effective and always provides me with opportunities to grow and evolve.
There are not many institutions that allow individuals to constantly strive to better themselves and as a result, the world.
Twice a day, I set aside time to face my shit.
Most religions and spiritual practices encourage a great deal of conformity and very little self reflection that can, if we allow it, lead to some serious transformation.
I know of no one outside of my practice who is committed to self transformation to the extent that we(practitioners of my particular sect of Buddhism)pride ourselves on being.
It has always struck me as odd when people say they have no spiritual practice and believe in nothing but themselves.
One of the greatest aspects of a spiritual practice is that it allows humans to be with other humans.
We learn and grow from human interaction particularly if what we are doing is focusing on personal transformation that engenders global transformation.
While openly admitting to having a spiritual practice is often frowned upon, it is imperative that they exist and people look at all the ways they practice spirituality without labeling it as such.
Anybody who fights for human rights, ending violence in all its forms and eliminating domination and unfair treatment of others and oppression is doing spiritual work and has a commitment to a spiritual practice.
bell hooks refers to those who do the work of ending domination as doing the work of love.
Men who want to transform themselves would be wise to heed these words.
As men, we must not be afraid to humble ourselves to the parts of ourselves that cry out and demand serious, real connection, change and uplift.
The most powerful men I have met have a spiritual core and devotion to spirituality that is awe inspiring.
We can let go of domination and “king of the hill” shenanigans that mask fears of the other and an unwillingness to be vulnerable.
With spirituality there is a wonder (a not knowing) that most men are uncomfortable with and yet this is what is needed if men wish to allow the best, most loving and thoughtful part of themselves to prosper.
Men have been taught that to wonder and not know is dumb, weak, unforgivable and can only lead to trouble for all involved.
When man can retire the cape, get off the white horse and admit: I don’t know; the world and themselves can change and true transformation can occur.
We should allow ourselves permission to “not know”, to dwell in the spiritual.
This must be allowed without interference, judgement or punishment.
We can not demand that men evolve when the essential component of spirituality is missing.
Men who care for children, support the elderly by driving them to agreed upon destinations and who listen to women and anyone who might know more about a subject than they do are practicing a sacred spirituality.
Invite the men in your life to a temple, a mosque, Sunday service.
Remember no revolution or inner transformation can survive without a devotion to the spirit.
When I pointed out this reality, some folks didn’t agree and doubted that the core of any revolution and social change was based in a devotion to spirit.
Any time there is a break away from commonly held beliefs regardless of their effectiveness or sincerity, you are asking for and ushering in a revolution.
We are asking men to change and show us their best selves which is revolutionary and can only be carried out when radical spirituality is at the center.
Men are smart enough to figure this out and there should still exist space for us all to question, debate and sample all manner of spiritual commitment.
Maybe you were brought up in the Judeo Christian construct( and if you were raised in America, you were) and have a difficult time breaking away from what is familiar and moving into and towards the unknown.
It is important that we open our hearts and minds to what other folks believe and the ways individuals structure their lives according to what they find important.
If any institution, no matter how well meaning, suggests that you be less human or give up big chunks of yourself under the auspice that you will win later, run.
Anything that demands more of our humanity and not less is what we should focus on.