“I claim that human mind or human society is not divided into watertight compartments called social, political and religious. All act and react upon one another.”
“Those who say religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion is.”
“Look how the caravan of civilization
has been ambushed.
Fools are everywhere in charge.
Do not practice solitude like Jesus.
Be in the assembly, and take charge of it.”
“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume
that someone else will solve their problems.
Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction.
Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”
After my mid-life spiritual awakening, my lifestyle changed radically. While publicly maintaining my professional life as a lawyer, privately I soon began living a simple monk-like existence, withdrawing from prior involvement in worldly entertainments and pastimes. For the first time in many years, I was living alone without a partner to influence my way of life. So, following inner inclinations, I stopped watching TV and rarely went to movies or concerts. I became a largely raw-food vegetarian and ate mostly at home rather than in restaurants. Retaining very few pre-divorce friends, I spent more time alone and began associating mainly with people interested in spirituality.
And especially after meeting Guruji in 1978, I felt for the first time an intense longing to return to Divinity. So I began praying fervently for a way to exchange my life of litigation for a life of meditation. But I felt confused and conflicted because I needed income from lawyering to help support my young children.
Whereupon, synchronistically I was given an unforgettable mystical experience which helped resolve that confusion. In a crowded courtroom, I was shown that the Divine is imminent in everyone everywhere – even in crafty lawyers; that experiencing nearness to God is mostly dependent on our state of mind rather than our physical environment. (See http://sillysutras.com/beholding-divine-light-in-a-worldly-courtroom-rons-memoirs/ )
So I became resigned to carrying on my life as a lawyer. However, I remained uncertain about continuing my life-long social justice activities when I yearned to devote more quiet time for meditation, prayer and spiritual practices.
Ultimately, after much soul searching, I honored inner impulses and persisted in pursuing an egalitarian path of politically engaged spirituality, rather than a path of monk-like withdrawal from worldly concerns. Though I respected the reclusive spiritual masters, monks and nuns who indirectly elevate human consciousness through their spiritual and devotional practices, I felt greatest affinity with Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr., Jesus, and the Dalai Lama, whose non-violent pursuit of social justice greatly inspired me.
My Socialistic Politics.
Though neither of my parents was politically engaged, growing up I felt early affinity with traditional Jewish social justice values. The Torah (old Testament) admonishes Jews not just to give to the poor but to advocate on their behalf. For example, Proverbs 31:9 tells Jews to “speak up, judge righteously, champion the poor and the needy.”
So, in becoming a lawyer and throughout my professional career, my main motivation was to help others; it was not to become rich or famous. Long before my spiritual awakening, I had a deep inner instinct to pursue social justice causes, with considerable egalitarian sensitivity to the “insanity and iniquity of inequity in our society”. For many years I symbolically kept on my desk a placard with this inspiring biblical language:
“He shall rescue the needy from rich oppressors,
The distressed who have no protector.
He will have pity on the needy and poor,
And redeem them from oppression and violence.”
~ Psalm 72:12-14
In the late 1950’s I was deeply influenced and persuaded by then prominent author-psychotherapist Erich Fromm, about the pathology of ‘normalcy’ in our materialistic society. In “The Sane Society” Fromm suggested that materialistic Western society was lacking in sanity; that the inequities and disharmonies of the entire society were pathological, not just the mental illnesses of people therein. Like Karl Marx, Fromm saw capitalistic greed and exploitation of workers at the root of societal pathology, and persuasively he advocated for democratic socialism. (Much later I learned that my heroes Albert Einstein and the Dalai Lame held similar Marxist views.)
Fromm’s essay confirmed and enhanced my instinctive reluctance to selfishly follow materialistic societal goals. And it encouraged me to endorse socialistic political and economic solutions for redressing indiscriminate imposition of inequality in our capitalistic society. Often I became quite passionate and outspoken about my political views that “the more that money rules the world, the more that money ruins the world”.
Especially after the traumatically shocking 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the soon ensuing and patently insane Viet Nam war devastation, I became aware of the prescience of President Dwight Eisenhower’s 1961 valedictory caution against dominance of the “military-industrial complex” with “potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power”. And ultimately I perceived that, despite Eisenhower’s warning, ruling power had indeed been misappropriated by people who are ruling and ruining the world, in consort with the military-industrial complex or “deep state”, while presiding over serious curtailments of US constitutional protections and civil liberties.
I saw that just as Hitler in Nazi Germany had molded an insane society to support his pathological pretensions and plans, sociopathic Western leaders of all political parties have used insidious propaganda about contrived enemies and fomented “terrorists” as a pretense to create an insane society which has fearfully condoned or acquiesced in outrageously immoral wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, drone killings of innocent civilians, and plans for attacking Iran and other Moslem countries, with radically expanded US military budgets and executive powers, while obscenely enriching entrenched vested interests.
Politically Engaged Spirituality.
After my mid-life spiritual awakening, my radical political views persisted. But, inspired by Gandhi and others, I sought to ‘spiritualize’ my legal advocacy and social justice pursuits, so as to foster rather than impede optimal evolutionary advancement. Though outwardly little changed, inwardly I more and more accepted challenges of my lawyer’s life as opportunities to fulfill moral responsibilities to society, my clients, my family and others, while elevating my spiritual awareness.
But, especially after inauguration of the Bush/Cheney administration and the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2000 – which I deemed ‘false-flag’ operations perpetrated to foment hatred against intended Moslem targets of the military industrial complex – I became so caught up in polarized political issues that I clearly was experiencing more combative (rajasic) and less elevated (sattvic) energy than before meeting Guruji. However, instead of taking responsibility for my own agitated and combative state of mind, I often complained that Bush and Cheney had ‘brought me down’ from higher states of consciousness.
Ultimately, with mindfulness and soul-searching, I came to see that it was my own disturbed, judgmental and reactive state of mind – not Bush and Cheney – that was bringing me down. And more and more I began viewing apparent injustices with detachment and with compassion for the wrongdoers’ ignorance – yet never abandoning the relentless pursuit of Truth through social justice.
In arriving at these crucial insights, I received much inspiration from the lives and words of others. I have gathered quotations below which have especially helped me. I share them here hoping that they may help you to be ever vigilant concerned spiritual citizens of our precious planet.
And so it shall be!
Spirituality, Religion and Politics Quotes.
Many ancient Indian masters have preached nonviolence as a philosophy. That was a more spiritual understanding of it. Mahatma Gandhi, in this twentieth century, produced a very sophisticated approach because he implemented that very noble philosophy of nonviolence in modern politics, and he succeeded. That is a very great thing. It has represented an evolutionary leap in political consciousness, his experimentation with truth.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, in an interview with Catherine Ingram, from “The Dalai Lama, A Policy of Kindness”
“What is a wife and what is a harlot? What is a church and what
Is a theatre? are they two and not one? can they exist separate?
Are not religion and politics the same thing? Brotherhood is religion,
O demonstrations of reason dividing families in cruelty and pride!”
~ William Blake (1757-1827), British poet, painter, engraver. Jerusalem, plate 57, repr. In Complete Writings, ed. Geoffrey Keynes (1957).
Your daily life is your temple and your religion. …
Is not religion all deeds and all reflection,
And that which is neither deed nor reflection,
but a wonder and a surprise ever springing in the soul,
even while the hands hew the stone or tend the loom?
Who can separate his faith from his actions, or his belief from his occupations?
~ Khalil Gibran~ “The Prophet”
“The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend a personal God and avoid dogmas and theology. Covering both natural and spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual and a meaningful unity.”
~ Albert Einstein
“True religion is real living; living with all one’s soul, with all one’s goodness and righteousness.”
~ Albert Einstein
“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
“All major religious traditions carry basically the same message, that is love, compassion and forgiveness … the important thing is they should be part of our daily lives.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama
“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama
We have to have some form of politics. Politics is a form of resolving conflicts. Politics which comes from sincere motivation is constructive.
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama
“In the present circumstances, no one can afford to assume that someone else will solve their problems. Every individual has a responsibility to help guide our global family in the right direction. Good wishes are not sufficient; we must become actively engaged.”
~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama, from “The Path to Tranquility: Daily Wisdom”.
“My philosophy and my politics are inseparably intertwined.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“For me, there is no blasphemy; no theological doctrine to which I am so attached that I am unwilling to hear differing views. Truth is ineffable, so lies are inevitable.”
~ Ron Rattner
The greatest religion is to be true to your own nature. Have faith in yourselves!
~ Swami Vivekananda
“It is always better to have no ideas than false ones; to believe nothing, than to believe what is wrong.”
~ Thomas Jefferson
You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it is going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.
~ Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
“Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought?… Has it ever occurred to you, Winston, that by the year 2050, at the very latest, not a single human being will be alive who could understand such a conversation as we are having now?…The whole climate of thought will be different. In fact, there will be no thought, as we understand it now.
Orthodoxy means not thinking—not needing to think. Orthodoxy is unconsciousness.”
~ George Orwell – “1984”, Book One, Chapter 5—Syme, pg 46-47
In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.
~ Mark Twain – Autobiography
“At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or political idols.”
~ Aldous Huxley
“In our age there is no such thing as “keeping out of politics.” All issues are political issues, and politics itself is a mass of lies, evasions, folly, hatred and schizophrenia.”
~ George Orwell – “Politics and the English Language,” 1946
“One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”
Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber.
“There will be no end to the troubles of states, or of humanity itself, till philosophers become kings in this world, or till those we now call kings and rulers really and truly become philosophers, and political power and philosophy thus come into the same hands.”
Even a purely moral act that has no hope of any immediate and visible political effect can gradually and indirectly, over time, gain in political significance.
~ Vaclav Havel
Where is the justice of political power if it… marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?
~ Kahlil Gibran
An oligarchy of private capital cannot be effectively checked even by a democratically organized political society because under existing conditions, private capitalists inevitably control, directly or indirectly, the main sources of information.
~ Albert Einstein
Politics is a pendulum whose swings between anarchy and tyranny are fueled by perpetually rejuvenated illusions.
~ Albert Einstein
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”
~ Joseph Goebbels
“I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”
~ Abraham Lincoln
“Wanting to reform the world without discovering one’s true self is like
trying to cover the world with leather to avoid the pain of walking on
stones and thorns. It is much simpler to wear shoes.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi