Activism versus Spirituality: The Quickest Path To Human Liberation Is…

One of the most intriguing realizations I have come to from the broad range of conversations in the tipping series is this: While there does seem to be an element of universality in the impulse to ‘change the world for the better’, agreement eludes even the most enlightened thinkers on how to actually make the great shift.

Through these interviews I have found two general types of people passionate about global transformation:  activists and spiritualists.  While certainly not the only categories of change-makers around, these two ideologies stand out as containing critical pieces of code for how to make sustainable change on the planet.  And unfortunately, they are often at odds with one other.

This has always bothered me, and today I am sharing two videos that typify each of these worldviews.  My hope is to shine a bright light on the disparity between activists and spiritualists because if we are going to really tip this thing, and put an end to things like social injustice, planetary destruction, and war then integration between these powerful worldviews is necessary.

Activism: We Must Go Forth And Eradicate All Evil

The first video has swept the world garnering almost 80 million YouTube views in its first week.  Wow.  Titled “Kony: 2012” this 30 minute film intends to light a fire within us to capture and imprison Uganda’s most feared terrorist: Joseph Kony:

You can really feel the energy in the Kony: 2012 video, no?  The message hits our emotions, tugging at our heartstrings with the filmmaker’s personal story of his Ugandan friend and the sharing of his own son to frame out the message.

The second video is a 20-minute clip created by someone named Lee Harris, which frames out a deeper, more spiritual understanding of our current moment in time.  This video delves into the actual experiences so many millions of us are having, providing a more spiritual and uplifting lens to comprehend the chaotic nature of present-day reality:

After watching these two videos, do you see a common thread in terms of intention (the world needs some serious changing) but vast differences in terms of approach and action plan?

The activist message seems to say ‘let’s go out and fight injustice, overcome it with sheer numbers and force’ while the spiritual message recommends us to fully surrender to what exists in the present moment, and ‘work on ourselves, feel our emotions, get our bodies in great shape, and generate compassion for everything around us’.

Activists feel the urgent need to go out and set the world on fire.  They have great energy and creativity, shining clear beams of light on the problems in the world while inviting us into their particular causes for social change.

Spiritualists sense that in order for things in the outside world to fundamentally shift a critical mass of individuals need to make the necessary changes within themselves.  Simply going out and setting the world on fire won’t work unless enough people have looked inside themselves and lit those fires internally.

But which approach is right, and what is the fastest, least messy way to create a world where war, starvation, and genocide are ancient history?

Like the question itself there may be no linear answer, and perhaps the very process of contemplation and inquiry is what pushes us forward into new and unforeseen areas of resolution.

The key is to find a middle ground between the two (and not only between spiritualists and activists, but between all such dichotomies), because while no single approach is exclusively ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ we will all be better served to understand how each piece is relevant.

Where Activism Fails and Why Kony: 2012 Can Never Work

I spoke with a good friend who is a psychotherapist in San Francisco.  While being sympathetic to the plight of the 30,000 children and horrific acts of cruelty happening in Uganda, she told me that atrocities just like this are happening right here in San Francisco, and all over the United States, every single moment of the day.

I wondered about the massive viewership of the Kony video.  80 million people were inspired to pass along and share this message about events in Uganda, an area of the world they will never visit, while similar atrocities exist each and every day in our own backyards with little-to-no notoriety.

Like many activist projects this film aims to create a ‘movement’ to stop Joseph Kony, compelling us to join a fight that in some way represents our own values.  While I completely agree that people like Joseph Kony need to have a bright light shined on them, I also see powerful activist messages like these as distractions.  Yes, distractions.

While there is war in Uganda, there is also war in San Francisco and in every town in the western world.  If we are brave enough to take an even closer look we realize that many of us are at war with our families, at war with our friends and lovers, and most of all at war with ourselves.

The blatant truth is that most people on the planet do not want to deal with their own pain and suffering, and we relieve ourselves by transmuting personal anxieties into other areas.  We have become a culture of transference, never taking accountability for how our individual lives play a role in the greater realities surrounding us.

As time moves forward, and the systems of the world become more complex and technologies become even more composited into our daily lives it becomes easier to feel that we have NO control, no input, regarding the happenings of the world around us.  We are spiraling out of control….

While necessary and relevant as activism is (I will explain below), powerful movement builders like Kony: 2012 distract us from actually having to play a personal role in moving humanity closer to a genuine transformation.

Let me give an example to make this point clearer. I recently went to a conference focused on environmental sustainability, and was blessed to meet many of the long-time leaders of this activist movement.  Some of these folks are quite well known authors and speakers, and I was enmeshed in a powerful protester energy swirling about the room.

One of the leaders spoke about the incredible progress the movement for ‘saving the environment’ has made over the decades, and about two sentences later explained that in 2012 there will be twice the amount of drilling into the planet for oil than in 2011.  What?

The message is this: while wonderful, powerful activism has persisted in environmental issues for the last 40 years it has resulted in a present-day reality where the greatest destruction of all time is happening as we speak.  I ask you, where is the progress in that??

What will happen if the 80 million views of the Kony movement lead to his capture and arrest as the filmmaker visualizes?  There will be some nice press, people around the world will feel ‘good’ about results of this movement, but this will be a temporary phenomenon and hardly the eradication of evil intentions on this planet.

We NEED wake up and stop fooling ourselves.  We so willingly transfer our attention to tiny snippets of external reality, like Uganda, affording us the ability to send a few emails, maybe throw in a few dollars, and remain relatively impersonal about the whole thing even though to the outside world we have ‘done some good’.

There is nothing wrong with activism and caring about people in this world, and wanting to support children in Uganda.  But we must stop being exclusively attached to the notion that this type of moral support is solely how we change the world!

It’s Not Solely About Spirituality Either

I am not erring solely on the side of the ‘spiritualists’ either.  No, we are at the point in our evolution where we clearly see that everything plays a significant role.

Activist energy is incredibly powerful and creative, providing us vivid lightning rods of awareness about things like injustice, generating new lenses of perception about how to deal with it.

Activists stir the pot, and wake us up in a meaningful way.  We desperately need this type of tension in our field, and our only mistake is to exclusively identify with activist activity being the only manner in which to build a new world.

A similar mistake is to wholly believe that spiritual pursuits are enough to shake us out of the nightmares of external reality.  If every person on the planet suddenly decided to climb up to some mountaintop and sit for 20 years in silence, many of the world’s problems might cease to exist but where would the fun and excitement be in that?  Would 7 billion people be happy and fulfilled doing this?

No, we are a diverse and exhilarating species of beings and we need to recognize that ALL of it matters, and all of us matter.

A More Unified Song For Real Change

While we certainly need to integrate all of the energies flowing through the human field (activism and spirituality being two examples) we also need to recognize that the pendulum is currently swinging quite strongly in one direction.

Not enough people are doing the internal work, and the majority of people on the planet continue to distract themselves from, well, themselves.  This is why the world remains in a state of chaos, as most people are terrified to stop for a moment and look in the mirror.

We seek deflection, numbing and rationalization to take us away from internal pain.  We don’t yet understand that behind this pain lies liberation.  True liberation.

In a way it’s understandable because ‘the work’ is challenging, requiring us to stop and examine our thoughts, emotions and behaviors in a world that relentlessly pushes us forward, challenging us to survive let alone thrive.

But we have to remember.  There is a reason the teachings of the Buddha, Jesus Chris, Mohammed, Lao Tzu and all the other great wisdom luminaries remain timeless and virtually untouched for millennium.  The question becomes how do we relate these deeper spiritual truths, wisdom that has been floating through our existence since the beginning of time, and enmesh this knowledge into powerful activist energy so that transcending changes might really take hold?

The Seeds of a Real Tipping Point

In my view the answers lie in finding the middle ground, and because so much of our reality is currently about searching to the outside for answers, a vast majority of us must intentionally toggle the boat inwards and focus on perhaps the only noble pursuit there is in this life: to understand who we are.  To understand whom YOU are.

And while we can gain understanding about who we are through books, conversation, coaching and community, the bulk of the work needs to be done by the individual.  Meaning you.  Meaning me.

No more beating around the bush, it is time we mature as a species and do the work at the individual level in order to transcend the nature of our collective output.  This is our task right now, and the only way to get the pendulum moving in the other direction.

For many people this may mean taking on more of a spiritual path, becoming more self-reflective and engaging in personal growth work.  And we don’t need to look at this as some boring chore.  On the contrary we should engage in this process with joy knowing that at the center of such inquiries lies joy, abundance and love.

We all want this, and we all have this.  We simply need to make a tangible commitment to start looking.

We change ourselves to change the world. It is the only way.  No more deflection, rationalization, externalization or numbing.  The time has come for us to own our own humanity.

The exciting thing is this: it is already happening!  More people than ever before understand the truths I am writing about here (which, by the way, is nothing new).  But we need to keep pushing the edge, spreading the knowledge, forcing ourselves to step into the fire and risk looking ‘weird’ or ‘strange’ by those around us.  The truth is, they are also starting to wake up and we might be quite surprised what happens as we start becoming truly honest with each other.

After conducing all these interviews it is clear to me that this website represents a calling for a tipping point to come about in this very area.  I am not suggesting we need to turn our backs to normal pursuits like working, making money, raising a family or even being an activist, but we each need to take a stand for our own lives, and plow into the mystery of our minds to expose the roots of anger, hatred, sadness and war that reside within us.

This is the path to our own liberation, and the liberation of all beings on this planet.  So we might as well say yes to it.

Love ya,


  • Pollyanna Darling

    Interesting, very well argued, succinctly put and thought provoking. However what I hear through both arguments and your own is that everyone has an underlying assumption that something is WRONG and needs to be changed. Am not saying that is true or not true, but working from that assumption leads to end results such as the one you mention regarding environmental activism and drilling. The power of our consciousnesses is with the assumption that the world is wrong/messed up etc etc and that we have to DO something about it. This is not a powerful base to operate from, whether it is true or not.

    The truth is that we are always free, which is what you discover if you look within (as you point out). This is the powerful base to operate from, not the assumption that the world or we, need fixing.

    Thanks for a great piece of writing!

  • Anreal Perception

    I actually agree with Pollyanna in that “everything is perfect, no need to change a thing” which is a core tenet of Dzogchen (the culmination of Buddhism), and I think I know where the solution lies.
    Another main tenet of Dzogchen is “abide completely in your nature” SO … if people could shift their focus from doing things because they’re trying to ‘fix’ something to doing something because they ENJOY it, because they feel it in the moment, because it is an expression of their nature…
    Well that I think is the challenge, and ultimately the key.

    You might enjoy > Songs Of Revolution: The Bodhisattva Vow Of Liberating Mankind

  • Todd Goldfarb

    Thanks Pollyanna, I understand your viewpoint, and this is precisely the type of response I was hoping to receive from this article. I really do believe it is a little bit of both, the being and the doing, and that there are tasks at hand where acts of ‘doing’ like activism, are relevant and necessary….

    I was just hoping to make the point that we need to imbue a higher level of spiritual values in our doing….

  • Francescranton

    Brilliant write up,and something I have toyed with in my own heart ,I feel that action has to be the answer we cannot look the other way anymore ,this is what as got us where we are today by being complacent. We have to stand up for what is right and just otherwise what good are we ,I know many of my friends who think the opposite to me and we have had heated discussions but at the end of the day if we sit in the backseat we are as bad as the perpretraters .lastly God helps those who help themselves

  • Bob Banner

    an interesting observation is that when you/we write about such matters it is so easy to deflect the intensity by using such words as you and them and we.. and yet you call for honesty. I think there needs to be a new body of knowledge that will include the I, writing with the I-statement, personal responsibility as you talk at length about…. and its not to prop up the self but to honestly use me, us but in a way that speaks directly about how we/I are going to change, the resistances, the blunders, the blind spots of so many spiritual/activist leaders. There seems to be something we/I are afraid of.. being vulnerable? being not our ideas but energy and how its changing so rapidly.. goiung form an activist to a spiritual seeker in 10 seconds flat and back again…. I like your piece alot.. I alsoi wriote a piece and experimented with the I statement perspective.. if you dont know what I mean.. go back over the article and whenever you come up with the word they or we to use the word I.. not just for theauthor but for all of ius.. or even go back to certain things you wriote and substitute the word I for the theys and wes and see what happens. see what opens up… heres my piece where I do it at the end:
    What’s Next?
    Joanna Macy, Protest, New Structures, Personal Change & Occupy
    — a working paper —

  • Heather

    I do believe it is a combination of both. We do need to know and love ourselves first. We need to get a sense of our truths and once we are in touch with that, only then can we take action – action that is in sync with our truths. Do what is right.

  • Mishelle

    And what does it mean to “free yourself” ?! Pracitically? As in living off the grid? Or spiritually, as in separating yourself from reality all around us?

  • Carrie

    Wonderful article. Your words spoke to me deeply. I have always believed that being in service is key to helping to evolve the planet. However, we must serve from a place of wisdom in order to really make a difference. Otherwise, we only contribute to an endless cycle of reactivity. True wisdom, I believe, can only be accessed when the mind is peaceful, harmonious and loving…thus, going within and doing our spiritual work. When our own, individual, personal “worlds” are free of conflict then we really can have an impact on ridding conflict from the world at large!

  • Colin Ellis

    Nice piece of writing, thanks.

    I’ve enjoyed the arguments you presented here as I’ve also gone through them myself – and ended up with a view somewhat similar to Anreal Perception of Buddha Brats.

    The comments you get here are also pretty exceptional and I especially like the view of Pollyanna Darling.

    One little thing, and it may just be my misunderstanding, but is the word “spiritualists” not the plural of “Spiritualist”, which is the term given to those who believe in a religious philosophy called “Spiritualism”? I’m pretty sure if I said to a hundred people where I live that I was a “spiritualist” not one would think I meant I have a leaning toward the spiritual, but would instead believe I meant I was into spiritualism.

    Now I have to go away and contemplate whether my seeing something potentially inaccurate, then taking action to point it out, is an attempt to be helpful or due to the mind creating angst in a perfect universe… hmm?

    You’ve certainly got me thinking – cheers :-)

  • Jarogers

    This is exactly what I have been trying to discern as I was invited to be a trainer for the Moving On group. I do not want the energy of dualistic thinking nor do I believe there are people to be against as we are all one. I am leaning toward the Pollyanna thinking. And I am going to turn down the offer to be a trainer and continue my journey of unconditional love and healing. Thank you so much for this reading. The timing is perfect for my decision making.

  • Grannymaui

    Todd, thank you for the article and opportunity to share our comments.
    I have been a student/seeker of spirituality for the last 45 years in almost all the spiritual practices and beliefs. It became clear to me almost forty years ago the answer to my seeking what life was all about, was in the feeling and expression of the love and gratitude that I felt and the understanding from within my own wisdom, my soul, who I and you truly are. One in consciousness. The answer is within us all individually, and we must quiet the mind to hear this inner voice. The Feelings of love we have are the gateway this spiritual dimension. The 3 Principles of Mind Consciousness and Thought that was revealed through Sydney Banks, an ordinary man from Saltspring Island, BC Canada, who for no reason had an extraordinary enlightenment, and realized who he was, who we all are and the realization that God (the divine mind)and Thought are the same. Syd is now deceased but he spent all his remaining life devoted to sharing the truth he experienced for himself with anyone in the world who would listen and hear. From his talks, tapes and books many thousands of people have found peace, happiness and wisdom for themselves, by going within. Instead of going into the near or distant past and bringing up all the negative thoughts and emotions which cause us distress, we understand to live in the present moment and honour only positive, loving, caring feelings. This is the energy of love that is transmitted all over the world, and will cause the Tipping Point. Call is simplistic, and your right, its so simple. Choose not, with the Godly power of your own thought, to give any negativity energy. With the knowledge of how our mind works in the physical reality, we will create a world where peace, happiness and mental health reside. It is the continuing evolution of man and the time is right for all of us to return home to the Spiritual Reality, that other dimension, where we are all one in Consciousness and the answer to all our so called problems will vanish. We learn how to live in the physical reality, knowing we are spiritual beings. Our problem here is the little mind of man, the intellect, who THINKS. Thinking keeps us in the circle, and we never understand the true wisdom. This is where the inner knowledge within each one of us is hidden and will forever be hidden if we try to use our mind to figure it out. We can never figure it out
    Positive, loving, caring, uplifting feelings, thoughts, actions, behavor will be the tipping point and the one consciousness will be recognized within each one of us, seven billion and counting. Let your feelings be your guide, if it does not feel good, change your thoughts, let go of the past and enjoy the present moment, whatever it is. Meditation as such is practiced does not take up there immediately, only the positive loving feeling does this. Check out the 3 Principles and be guided by your own feelings. If your not ready to hear this, perhaps others who listen to you are ready for the greatest leap of mankind. With Gratitude. Sandra

  • Mishelle

    Fantastic and such a necessary discussion–thank you for putting it together so clearly and openly. I’ve tried activism and now I’m trying spirituality–I feel the necessity to bridge the gap, but that neither path holds the answer. I especially resonated with: “We have become a culture of transference, never taking accountability for how our individual lives play a role in the greater realities surrounding us.” I look so forward to the replies this thought-provoking piece will inspire!

  • Manjushri


    I have a different understanding of Dzogchen. “Natural Great Perfection” lies in the View of Dzogchen, not necessarily in the world of form (or conditioned phenonemon.) Padmasambhava, the founder of Dzogchen, is quoted as saying, “though my view is as open as the sky, my actions and respect for cause and effect are as fine as grains of flour.” (see Sogyal Rinpoche, “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying.”) One of the challenges for practioners is, as they say, to not “lose the view in action,” or to lose or sense of Being or Awareness in participating in daily life, or to “lose the action in the View,” or to so bliss out with ourselves that we lose our responsiblity of how our actions affect the world. What do you think?

  • Marc DeLateur


    Thank you for the article! I know the struggle you speak of well, deciding for ourselves what defines our “right thought, right action, right speech,” and then discovering that it isn’t so much a decision as it is a growing awareness of how things work together to make our lives function.

    Activists often fall into the traps of frustration and anger, which naturally evolves into violence, either as a response to the atrocities witnessed, or in response to those who try to silence the activist’s voice.

    Spiritualists have their own traps as well, although in my experience, such traps are far more gentle to the human spirit and are much easier to evade. Spiritualists, because they often are of the mind that “everything is as it should be.”

    Thus, we must look for the common thread in both activism and spirituality if we intend to live our lives in balance, with a moderate response, one filled with wisdom, one without wasted action, one that elevates the individual and educates those touched in some ways by that individual. There will be challenges in our lives that require us to make a choice quickly, without discussion, at least until such a time comes that we all learn to live in peace with each other. Still, we can act with compassion, and thereby ensure that the outcomes are always uplifting, always done with the intent of moving gently through the world, respecting ourselves and others equally.

    In this way, I see that both activists and spiritualists are useful in these trying times. Activists are not merely those people who have to do the “dirty work” of the spiritualists, they are rather people who are equipped to engage in those difficult dialogues and use their vision and creativity to help people around them understand that there are different ways to go about living one’s life than simply comparing oneself to others and trying to outdo them.

    I struggle with these new ideas everyday, sometimes passionately, always with sincerity. It’s been my understanding, at least for me, that if I am not at peace with myself, I make a very poor activist. In such a state, I am too obsessed with making others listen and understand, rather than the true goal of being clear in my thoughts and actions to be better understood.

    So, for me, I feel that to be an activist and yet lack spirituality is very much like putting the cart before the horse, leaving the hapless individual to push both from the rear, getting more frustrated by the moment.

    Thank you for the wonderful article! I hope my words have helped strengthen your message, Todd.

  • Mishelle

    Pollyanna, love what you write here and would love to sing it with you on my wee homestead! You are right, working from the assumption that something is wrong absolutely stiffles creativity and is not a powerful base–still to pretend nothing is wrong is catastrophic and what so many are already doing. Empowering others to know they can change things is one solution, and this is what such activism as the Koni video does, as well as the inner-work. When I SEE firsthand how I change the world or myself, they see it too, and I inspire others to do the same!

  • Mishelle

    Oh and one more thing, I don’t think the Koni movement is particularly creative–simply using the tools at hand to make a difference in the grassroots way that has long existed–it is realistic, not creative. Truly creative would be to find a way to not spend millions doing it :)

  • Amy

    It seems simple to me. As a single mother of four I found I had to take turns. At one point in my life I was prepared to take action, at another point I had to be still. This process cycled through at different rates depending on a number of factors. If one is aware, it becomes easy to know when it is time to march and time to go for a long walk.

  • Patti

    Loved the article and the comments from others. I feel it all. I, myself am doing my inner work while I walk through the world as a teacher and an activist. To say that I often feel conflicted inside as I try to hold these seemingly different things that want to happen through me all at the same time is, often, a rather sizeable understatement.

    Just this morning I wrote a little blurb on the difficult transition I experience when I am painting the colours of our chakras blending together.

    All of the chakra colours blend gracefully from one to another without needing much transition space, except for the yellow of our personal power chakra to the the green of our heart chakra. The space this transition must take in paint in order to look and feel natural to me, is much, much larger than the others, as is the care and attention I need to give it.

    This is where humanity is right now, it seems to me. In the long and awkward transition stage between standing in the power of our own uniqueness with the grace and confidence that only the love potential of our hearts can provide. To me, it is the successful blending of these two human qualities that is the catalyst in the chakra balancing recipe for the ‘just be’ state that is peace and harmony, inside and out. The place where our fairy dust lands on everything we experience, just by being our authentic selves in each moment, madly in love ourselves, each other and The Great Mystery.

    For me, this transit requires a great deal of trust. My challenge has been to sustain a practice of internal and external change with trust and patience. To keep listening to and acknowledging myself and others, and to let the picture paint itself through all of us. We are all one, and so even though some of us are focused externally and some focused internally, while more are walking in both worlds, and some are still sound asleep, I feel it is all happening, taking the time it needs, doing what it needs to do, and being what it needs to be. It feels tense, awkward, frustrating, liberating, joyful and free all wrapped up in the same package.

    And that, it seems to me, is how Creation works.

  • Philip Snow

    Hi Todd, thanks for raising this crucial issue and inviting responses. I’m working with my belief that a straightforward way for us “to imbue a higher level of spiritual values in our doing….” (your words in response to Pollyanna), one which I believe most people can relate to in their own day-to-day experience, is to recognise that we are, at heart, loving by nature and thus to love others, unconditionally as far as possible, care and have compassion for others, feel unity with others and express some of the many positive aspects of love such as forgiveness, gratitude, etc. To do this in everyday life, in everyday circumstances, really does seem to make a difference for the good.

    I’m currently making a short film called ‘Love Begins With Me’ for non-profit The Love Foundation, asking people to contribute short videos of themselves or others living from a loving heart. This is intended to reveal that humanity has a loving heart and that love is alive and well in the world. Hopefully such examples will inspire others to live from their loving heart too, and thereby bring some positive change in their world. And our world too.

    Here’s a link to the video I made to invite people to offer their videos:

    The stated deadline for submissions (February 28th) has passed now but it’s not too late for more.

  • Simonste

    I agree with Michelle. Best solutions are best found when people with diverse perspectives and beliefs get together and work on developing a ‘Third Alternative’ solution which is initially unavailable to any individual. See: The Third Alternative by Steven Covey and Ken Wilber’s Integral Approach.

  • Laurenlagergren

    Enjoyed your assessment of Todd’s article. I, too, wonder at this belief that something is wrong and it must be corrected. I’ve gone deep inside myself and discovered joy and love when I’ve eliminated limiting beliefs and conditionings that kept me crippled. It was based, however, not on something being wrong but rather discovering the “something better” that cut through all the bs. “Know thyself” is as relevant now as when it was first uttered; changing the world begins with changing ourselves first so we understand how to help others.

  • Jill Hileman

    Is it possible for both ‘sides’ to co-exist as supportive of each others’ aims and progress? I will own up to my own spiritual tendency, while I greatly respect the activism of those that move goals forward through action. And yet I do not view my spiritual methods of bringing light to my world as merely ‘passive’ either. I too find any focus that relies too heavily on one ideology—or another—is as ‘a distraction’, as you rightly called it.
    I see this as a yin and yang principle—that neither one is better or worse, and ultimately neither can exist without the other. Anything, including our internal wars with our own egos, that serves to splinter, separate, or fraction us as beings that share the same vital essence is a distraction. This includes the ‘silent’ atrocities happening at home. And you are right—it is so much easier for me to focus on all the ways I can coordinate my life through technology instead of seeing how disordinate my relationships can get. Machines are less messy than people.
    Ultimately this is where our individual ‘calling’ comes in. Am I of better use on the mountaintop or on the picket line? Only I can truly know what I am best at. None of us are born to be all things to everyone, but we are destined to be what we CAN be. And this truly involves trust—in ourselves, in the Bigger Meaning of it all, and this can be a tall order at times. When we begin to see what we can be, we start to see all that is possible.

  • WeNeedaDream

    Yes… a major challenge for I (and others) working to bridge, balance, and synergize such worlds here in highly activist Madison WI… both internally and externally. Certain unique attributes of Madison lead us believe such a common (or higher) ground between polarized elements is possible here (despite hitting many blocks):

    * Madison was named after the author of the world’s most daring experiment in freedom: the U.S. Constitution
    * The capitol location was a sacred site of peace and reconciliation for Native Americans (at a huge thunderbird effigy mound)
    * The capitol was built with many mystical (e.g. Masonic) influences (and amazing marbles) that hold, amplify, and radiate unique energies.
    * The capitol and capitol square host amazingly diverse and impactful events… amazingly free of fear and fear-based security (until recently).
    * The recent capitol chaos seems reminiscent of the turbulence leading to bombing of Sterling Hall… giving us a new opportunity to choose a higher path (and heal unresolved wounds).
    * A Peace Project pyramid of light and sound around the capitol in 1981 seeded a visionary energy… very similar to a vision received last year to radiate light and sound outward from the eight faces of the capitol lantern tower.
    * The national headquarters of Freedom From Religion Foundation (just SW of the capitol) provides checks and balances on the religious dogma our founding fathers were wary of.
    * Center for Conscious Living (just NE of the capitol) is emerging a model in new thought faith, expression, healing, and transformation.
    * Holy Wisdom Monastery (just NW of Madison) is emerging as a model in interfaith activities, sustainable building, and care for/with the earth
    * Wisconsin was known as America’s Laboratory of Democracy… inventing many paradigm-shifting concepts.
    * Wisconsin birthed both the Progressive and Republican parties… plus the infamous Pail and Shovel Party.
    * Wis. Senator Gaylord Nelson set the model for environmental stewardship… founding Earth Day in 1970
    * Madison has a unique blend of government, business, university, environment, and passionate people… a unique foundation to co-create a new paradigm
    * Madison is a leader in sustainability and livability: bike paths, parks/green space, community gardens, green buildings, recycling, energy, etc.
    * Madison is said to have the highest number of non-profits per capita of any U.S. city
    * Madison has incredible community centers (e.g. Goodman CC) and community building focus (e.g. Madison Neighborhoods)
    * Effigy mounds and a unique effigy tree are very sacred places to both Native Americans and those seeking reverence and transcendence
    * The current economic challenges of Madison’s downtown businesses and civic centers could be a laboratory for modeling a new paradigm in urban transformation and peacemaking.
    * UW Madison is a leader in academics, athletics, sustainability, culture, and stunning beauty
    * UW Madison ranks second in number of Peace Corps volunteers
    * America’s foremost environmentalist (John Muir) attended UW Madison
    * Environmental giant Aldo Leopold taught at UW Madison
    * Earth’s leader in conflict transformation (Marshall Rosenberg) graduated from UW Madison
    * Paradigm shifting author Bruce Lipton taught at UW Madison
    * A Tree of Peace on the UW campus is a symbol of the Great Law of Peace for the Iroquois Confederacy… and inspiration for our U.S. Constitution
    * The First Congregational Church near campus (that looks like Independence Hall) is a ripe candidate for launching a NEW Declaration of Independence
    * Finally… Madison is home to “America’s Finest News Source” … reminding us to lighten up when we get too serious

  • Marcella

    A must-have discussion starter, leading us to recognize we live in a both/and world. Have read all of the comments and affirm this as an ongoing discussion. We are spiritual beings encased in a physical body and living in a material world. Sri Aurobindo pioneered “pulling down” the spiritual dimension INTO this physical world and this, I think, is where we human beings are meant to end up. One respondent talked about the hopeful signs of seeing people from all walks of life feeling the love and passion and exerting their own non-violent responses to world happenings through the occupy movement, co-creating new societal structures, and personal transformational spiritual practices.

  • Jackie Ralph

    There is no one “versus” the other. We have all come here with assignments given us from out-of-time. And those assignments change. And if we have made ourselves available to our Source, inner guidance, we will recognize fully what it is we are to do to facilitate the changes that we are in charge of changing, beginning within ourselves. I am not the one to be an activist, at this time, and that could change. I am to continue to be out in the world extending my gifts to all I come in contact with and through this the transformation I’ve undergone will facilitate a transformation in others, it is caught not taught. When that awakening has come about then each of us will do exactly what we’ve been designed to do, we will not be able to not do it. So I volunteer where needed, make phone calls and write letters to my congressmen send money to support the actions needed and tell other about it and how they can be supportive too. You won’t find me on the front line demanding the needed changes. But you will hear my “thank you” as they begin to take place and you will feel my support and love for all that you are doing, because I can’t do that, but I am a part of the greater good for all of humanity and I hold nothing dearer in my heart.

  • Annette

    Well, from my own experience, personal growth work takes a LOT of time and effort. If you’re busy saving the world, you’re going to come up pretty short in both time and energy, and as you note, it is conveniently a wham-o-dyne ‘socially approved’ diversionary tactic from doing said work. But since you really can’t ‘fix’ anyone else, only yourself, in the long run it is a waste of your time, in my opinion.

    So to fight the good fight in your own life may be the only fight worth taking on; certainly not sticking your nose into other people’s business and ‘rescuing’ them which in truth just prevents them from learning to solve their own ‘Kony’ problems. You have to instead ask, “Why have the Ugandans let it come to this??” and avoid making those kinds of mistakes in your own life.

    Really, it isn’t our duty to ‘rescue’ the world; we’ve just been manipulated into thinking it is because it serves the powers-that-be. They full well know the inner healing path is the only one to enlightenment, and if we get enlightened, we won’t be vulnerable to their manipulations anymore.

    And honestly, if you change yourself, you change the world. It happens as a result of healing yourself. It doesn’t work in reverse very well, at all.

  • Karen

    Read Andrew Cohen’s book: “Evolutionary Spirituality.” No duality here. A true spiritual path of personal transformation opens the lens to reality and what is “right in front of us” to be done. Then action becomes clearer, even thought we will probably never know the end point. It takes people working together who have the intention to let go of egoic holding on for the sake of the whole.

  • S Foadey

    Impressive!!! Thanks Todd. Enjoyed reading the comments too…

    Neither right nor wrong but rather complementary, both approaches are necessary and just need to be respected, not imposed on anyone. Everyone is free to make their own choice, acts according to what resonates more deeply with them, as we all have different callings even though we are here for the same Higher Purpose… Our journey to ‘re-dis-COVER’ LOVE takes many forms but each path will lead to destination, eventually. Either way, the process may require focus and diligence but joy, grace and peace are also likely to be found at the heart of each genuine experience. So, without much arguing or complaining, let’s start being the change, the word will, inevitably, follow suit.


  • Anonymous

    We always act consistent with the way our world is occurring to us. The particular point of view one holds about him/herself give specific thoughts, plans, actions and results. This is consistent with all of humanity. There are always something happening. Action will be…for that is the nature of life.
    By being willing to look at the -often hidden- point of view that one has of life (including self and others), and being responsible for that point of view as the view that one has, letting it be just a point of view, and be willing to look from another view, one may find new thoughts, planning and actions are possible.
    World change happens with new thoughts, plans and actions. Spiritualism provides new points of view. A world of joy and love is possible when it is experienced first in our own lives and then extending it to others. Activism in love is powerful and creative! Activism in fear is destructive.

  • Brent Keime

    One of the first interviews that Todd had on this website was with Ken Wilber. It seems that the arguments of activists and spiritualists both need a little of Ken’s Integral Theory to understand that both views are reductionistic and incomplete. Basic Integral quadrant analysis shows us that change must occur in the internal environment of the individual and the culture at large (spiritualists) as well as the external world of individual behaviors and societal systems (activists). We cannot have one without the other. The question is not which are right? It’s how are both right? This is the essential Integral worldview. I recomend Ken Wilber’s books or the site for a much clearer explanation than I could ever express here.

  • Dave Martin

    Todd, the bridge between the macro thesis of humanity and its ability to transcend its reflexive responses which are predictably short-lived an largely anesthetic (meaning that we slip deeper into a consensus lethargy) requires some serious engineering on utilities and incentives. If we seek transformation through the vessels of incumbency, we may be deeply disappointed. Equally, rejecting incumbent artifacts without repurposing them for transcendent engagement is fraught with challenge. Our dialogue must include an Integral Accounting for our energy interdependent with our cosmos and must align our incentives in new ways to transact, transfer and store value during the journey of transformation. Offered for consideration…


  • Agniangel

    As someone who remembers the protests of the Viet Nam era and whose husband at that time went to prison for resisting the draft, I can say from first hand experience that not much has changed from that, or has it? The activism is necessary and maybe it serves as a catalyst, but consciousness can only change in one human being at a time. Only one who knows peace can transmit peace, or love, or truth.

  • Swoodams

    The quickest way to Human Liberation is to leave each other alone to complete our own path. Stop trying to run everyone else’s life and get your own in order. We do have the right to do things our own way as long as we do not interfere with the same rights of others. Help when asked. Otherwise bug off! Then, amazingly enough we have Freedom!

  • Sondra

    Your article was thought filled and timely with my own evolution as I have asked myself the same questions. I have chosen to be an activist in my own growth and in all my relationships starting with my family and friends and moving it out into my neighborhood and beyond. Bringing my spiritual activism of oneness,compassion,forgiveness,acceptance, kindness,gratitude,generosity,trust, understanding,patience,tollerence, to name a few, is not for the feint of heart. It takes commitment and a willingness to change myself from inside out. I am an activist for sustainability in all areas of living beginning with embracing the truth of who I am and expressing that into the world around me. My sensing is that this could open a gateway into the 90% of my brain that has previously been untapped. What would the world be like when humans come into their own power.

  • Joachim Faust

    I really appreciate your comments, WeNeedaDream. The idea that the success of the type of work Todd is suggesting- to “integrate all of the energies flowing through the human field” – could depend on the place where you carry it out is very interesting to me. Eventually, of course, humans may have to do these things anywhere on the planet, but it is definitely worth considering that particular places have certain “powers,” depending both on historical factors as well as elements of their current reality, that make this work easier, or more promising. I live in St. Louis, which is also a “Mound City” and which also has a number of features that make it similar to Madison, most importantly, Cahokia, the ancient Mississippian capital, as well as the confluence of the two Great Rivers. Maybe, the dream can be realized by a “confederation” (modeled after the Iroquois confederation), of great cities with this type of location-based powers.

  • Idigthearth

    I agree with you that it is already happening! And because it is already happening, there is no need to exclude activism from the vehicles of change. The activism is possible because of the spiritual changes: the unseen is creating the seen. Activist pursuits like Kony 2012 now have the probable outcome of success BECAUSE of the spiritual work that is being and has already been done. As activists experience success in their endeavors, their souls will become nourished and nurtured. Likewise, those who pursue the spiritual route can support the activists through their prayers, and anything else they choose to do. Activism and spirituality do not have to be mutually exclusive. As each person pursues the path which feels right to them, they will find themselves meeting at some point. Many Occupy movements started as activism, and then gave rise to groups within them who were meditating together. And those who follow a spiritual path desire that all beings be happy, safe, and free. So we are all more on the same page than it may appear at first glance.

  • Jeffrey Hotchkiss

    The Ten Oxherding Pictures.

  • Darlene

    Because the pendulum swings both ways between activity and spirituality, we never have to decide between them as an either-or choice. We need both. That being said, we easily and all too frequently do them out low rather than high intentions — for reasons that ultimately do not serve us. This, I think, is more of a problem than choosing which is the “better” of the two human endeavors. All too often we pursue spiritual experiences as a denial of what is “human,” and we pursue activism as a reaction to something we wish to eliminate rather than in the service of something we wish to create. We therefore end up with spirituality that is inhuman (that lacks heart), and activism that is merely destructive (that lacks the wisdom of higher purpose).

  • Philip Snow

    Thank you Jeffrey.

    “The Ten Ox-herd story shows enlightenment to be the ordinary self doing ordinary things in a most extraordinary way.”

  • James

    to much sanity can be madness but the madness of all is to live life as it is an not as it should be.

  • Helmar

    Just to throw these 2c in: Kony 2012 is apparently not about activism at all, but about an orchestrated or hijacked campaign to get the US military involved in Uganda and other countries in order to keep the Chinese away from the oil and other resources. Joseph Kony, at least in another YT video citing Webster Tarpley, has been marginalised and has no more than a few more hundred followers, and has been pushed into South Sudan. If you understand German, check this If you want a more drastic debunking of Kony 2012, check this, also in German:

    All too often activism is about blind emotions rather than reasonable thought and conduct. Spirituality, on the other hand, is often about an airy-fairy kind of positive fatalism. What is needed in my eyes is an impartial, unemotional look, and an analysis of the causes that led to all the stuff that we now desire to transform and remove. Once done, we need to build the new, and this building of the new starts with each one of us, because “as within, so without”. Bottom line: we are all caught up in it, and we need to transform ourselves, and that starts with an honest look in the mirror every morning that we wake up. For that neither activism nor spirituality is needed, only a level head and the willingness to work on one’s weaknesses, and perhaps a dose of Charles Haanel’s Master Key System as the enabling factor, but that’s rather personal. :)

  • S. Grace

    By the way, Lee Harris video March Energy Forecast – Lead, Nurture, Love… is utterly relevant. Check it out and be at peace!

  • Angel

    Awesome input and reflection. I agree with your perspectives and have personally taken on both approaches. The internal one was much harder for me but has offered me the most growth :)
    Thank you for sharing!

  • Hollie

    To me the “versus” argument assumes it can only be one or the other. That’s as pointless as saying “western medicine” or “alternative medicine.” both work together and complement each other. Or consider activist leaders who were also highly spiritual – Mother Theresa or Gandhi. They aren’t polar opposites.

  • LD

    I/We each live an existence that is affected by the interchange between three “worlds”: the natural world, the social world (society and its doings, including ourselves), and (whether acknowledged or not), the spiritual world– inside me/us, outside of me/us, all around.

    While many of my/our problems are indeed caused by humanity itself, and therefore humanity can correct them, I don’t think it’s either accurate or helpful to assume that all problems originate in the social world, i.e. have human causes. Or human solutions.

    I’ve/We’ve long been aware of the moon’s effect on ocean tides, for instance, as well as effects on human behavior (the full moon), and about a week ago, as I/we have been in the past, I/we were informed of solar storms that had the potential to affect electrical grids, communication and GPS systems, etc. on the earth. My point being: the physical cosmos itself (a creation and embodiment of Spirit) is a “player” here on earth, to what extent and in exactly what ways, no one knows for sure.

    Are planetary configurations contributing to current ills (and apparently “good” things as well)? Many astrologers and many prophecies of course say it is so.

    I’m not here to talk about or be a proponet for that specifically, although it does seem to me simply intelligent to wonder what role the celestial sphere, the sky and its doings/energies/configurations,
    might be playing in the current state of affairs here on earth. All things are related, ultimately One.

    By so wondering about this, I/we at least include the physical cosmos and natural world in the equation, and acknowledge more of the wholeness of existence by acknowledging another of its “players.”

    To wonder about things, anything, is, by definition, to acknowledge Mystery; without this acknowledgement of Mystery, I’m/we’re creatively bland, mechanical, stymied, lost–whether I’m/we’re “doing” activism or being “spiritual.” Wondering is a trait of both “beginner’s mind” and wisdom.

    Wondering, acknowledging Mystery, acknowledging I/we may not have all the knowledge or answers or know-how or motivational impetus I’d/we’d like, may be what ultimately “saves” me/us, if through no other means than simply humbling my/our occasional-to-frequent human arrogance.

    Evolution itself, whether of physical forms, human consciousness and culture, or spiritual state, is mysterious. But ‘mysterious’ does not necessarily mean “without purpose or plan.” Another term for evolution, from Ken Wilber, is “Spirit-in-action.” If Spirit doesn’t have a purpose or plan, who does? Does anyone?

    (I used a suggestion by commenter Bob Banner in writing this using “I” statements, along with the we-statements. Good exercise!)

  • Jason Sugar

    I’m with you, Todd. I feel you putting some meat on the bones of the idea, “be the change…”. It is so easy to focus “out there”, on doing, on fixing, on blaming, rather than on “in here”.

    I find it works well for me to live like “there is no them”…and from the Buddha’s point of view that “my mind creates my reality”.

    And I agree with Pollyanna that a more empowering place to come from than trying to “fix what’s wrong” is that there is, in fact, nothing “wrong”. Meaning, there is nothing to resist. There is just to acknowledge and accept “what’s so” (within and without), and then with Love (acceptance) create something new…

    It’s about creating with Love, rather than reacting with Fear.

  • Anonymous

    I felt compelled to reply, because your posting was so insightful. I also believe that we each have a part to play in this time of change. I thought at first when i was unable to leave the house much, and couldnt work, that i had no use. But, i have found that i can sign petitions, research and share what i find, i can email senators, and the president. I have also called different senators on various issues. The more involved i became, i started to realize that what i took as a handicap has turned into the opportunity to use my brain, my fingers and my voice. The advent of facebook and twitter and the wonderful internet allowed what i believe to be a majic time of discovery for the 99% and to discover that our massive voice will be enough to overcome the 1% What the 1% has always known is that all the money in world will not be enough to silence the 99% when they discover their voice. That i think is what you and i are part of, and that is helping others to find their voice. Not everyone has to be on the front lines, actually its the people behind that make it possible for those to fight on the front line. thank you and peace

  • Renee Petzer

    One of the things that humans learn, after bouncing around frantically from one extreme to another and everywhere inbetween, is that being able to sustain a holistic frame and sense of balance allows us to be more effective. We need the extremes to highlight the need for action, but also the balanced view to effect change efficiently. I think we change ourselves in the hope that it changes the world, that our collectiveness and interconnectivity influence the people around us to also make the right changes. By that I mean internal balance, focus, relationships and power of the non-egotistical individual are the most efficient way, for now to do what is needed.

  • Anreal Perception

    Hey. :)

    As far as I can see you are talking about the idea of using spirituality (in this case Dzogchen) as an escape, and I am sure that my comment said quite the opposite. So perhaps you are talking about the ‘general’ interpretation of Dzogchen? I’m not sure, I can’t tell.

    So unfortunately I cannot really comment on what you are saying, because it is not very clear to me actually which particular aspect of my post you are referring to. Perhaps you could clarify?

  • Bob

    My take would be that liberation is to free yourself from your identification with what the mind is telling you, who you are.

    What happened to me when I was reading Todd’s insightful blog – was that the inner work needed to “save the world”, is to use yourself as the experiment – it is all here and now – to see the thoughts of anger, sadness, joy or whatever and where they come from, and release them into the “all there is”, the void, source, back to light – and then the magic happens – you fall in love with yourself as everything – ie the whole complex mix of saints and sinners – including weird people like Kony who calls his army the Lord’s … He must think he is somehow religious – anyway the sooner he is stopped the better.

  • Anreal Perception

    Hi Mishelle.
    Strictly speaking from a Dzogchen perspective ‘freeing oneself’ means to free yourself from conditioned patterns of thinking and behaviour. Through this process it becomes clear to oneself what one WANTS to do, WHY one wants to do it and so on. There is no particular right or wrong, as it is personal to each individual.

    So lets use the two examples you mentioned from a Dzogchen perspective:

    1. living off the grid –
    If one wants to live off the grid while harbouring feelings of hatred for others who do not necessarily want to do the same thing, or out of fear of a supposedly ‘evil’ world, or out of a sense of righteous pride, then one will simply perpetuate the same kind of painful living experiences because you ultimately take your ‘issues’ with you and it will come up in one way or another, no matter how or where you live. Repeating itself in the relationships we have within the community, with our family or the ‘outside’ world.

    OR alternatively, if it really is just something that you like doing because you are interested in alternative living, like the idea of creative use of green energy, and find inspiration and joy in the act of living off the grid. Then of course, all good.

    2. Spiritual escape -
    Actually, the idea of separating oneself from reality is the very opposite of what Dzogchen implies. In fact according to the system of Dzogchen, exactly the same as in example (1) above, wherever your mind/consciousness is, that is where your suffering will be because it is believed that our rigid beliefs, fears, anxieties and needs create the reality around us, literally bringing it into form as a reflection of our state of mind. So wherever we go, and whatever we do, we can never get away from those things unless we face, integrate and overcome our conditioning. In that sense, even ‘spiritual escape’ isn’t actually possible, except perhaps as a momentary delusion in the mind of the so-called ‘practitioner’, and one would have to deal with ones issues sooner or later.

    So what are the implications of this?
    In short, we suffer when we are forced to deal with things we don’t want to, and when the things we DO want are taken away from us, threatened, or never actually come our way. The problem is that much of what we want/don’t want are the result of conditioning which is largely based on feelings of lack, ignorance, fear, indulgence, prejudice and the list goes on.

    Even more so, we like to divide the world into ‘evil’ and ‘good’, good guys and bad guys, and we more than often like to put ourselves into the ‘good guy’ brackets. According to Dzogchen this is a childish way of seeing the world, and this essential mistake causes huge schisms in our ability to do anything useful. (Kind of logical really) At least I think so.

    So taking all of that into consideration. How do I make a difference in the world through the application of Dzogchen teachings? (Please excuse me for not explaining everything in depth though, as the body of teachings are huge so some things might sound strange and unfamiliar)

    - I come to a concrete understanding that much of what I think “I” am, is largely based on conditioned thought forms. So I find ways to rid myself of those patterns of conditioning. This of course, is something that is ongoing… a worthwhile journey to embark on indeed and there are many great and effective techniques to do this with.

    - Getting better at understanding that “I” am less of a concrete entity than a fluid, moving pool of pure potential, I become less disturbed by things that would previously have hurt or upset me, because that “me” no longer buys into old patterns of behaviour. This means I spend less time REACTING to things and more time RESPONDING. It’s a matter of optimising ones actual abilities.

    - Through this process alot of the things “I” wanted to do, or DIDN’T want to do, start disappearing, or changing, as I become less and less attached to my own ideas, and more in touch with my ‘true nature’. This means that a large number of issues that took up much of my time quite simply dissolves, which quite simply means from a more practical perspective that I have more time to spend on things that REALLY matter. It’s a matter of practical efficacy really.

    - Then, as I become more familiar with what is known as the Natural State I start seeing the perfection in things, the lessons in the pain, the wisdom in loss, and I become less fixated on ‘changing’ things per se, because I know that the tapestry of perfection is everywhere. Understanding that I could not have known what I know now, had I not suffered, means I am a little less inclined to blame situations or people for things. This allows me to feel less stressed out or resentful, which, yet again, means I can put my energy to better use by simply shifting the focus of the large amount of emotional and mental resources available to me as an individual.

    - NEVERTHELESS, all of this work on my ‘self’ does not mean I don’t get involved! The only way to measure your level of freedom is to go out there in the world and do something, anything. haha.
    And IF I feel like getting involved, especially in a cause, I do it first and foremost because I enjoy it, because I want to hone a particular skill, because it brings me pleasure and joy, >>>> If I can do that without playing into the cliches of conditioned programming based on fear, lack, indulgence, and so on >>>> well then I can quite simply do anything I want, and always for the benefit of humanity…of course.
    Why else would anyone even start on the path in the first place? And anyone that has known suffering will do anything to help others who are also suffering, it is instinctive.

    And this is where Dzogchen comes in, like the grease in the engine, or a clean burning fuel, it ensures that our REASONS for getting involved in the first place, are free from personal ‘issues’ which ends up tripping up the process and stalling the whole thing in the first place.

    I hope this explains it a bit?

  • Anreal Perception

    Actually I agree about the whole ‘spiritualist’ thing. There should surely be a better way to describe the gamut of belief systems as ‘spiritual’ describes only one small portion. Although, perhaps it is unnecessary to get picky about it. I am just saying “I feel you”.

  • Frans Robert

    Dear Tod,
    Thanks for your excellent article! It seems to me that the juxtapositioning of
    outer and inner (activism versus spirituality) is ‘old school’. In truth there is no such opposition. Since the ‘Enlightenment’ period we are living in a rational-industrial paradigm that makes these distinctions and, consequently battling each other. This field of tension indicates the necessity of a paradigm shift. We are certainly at a tipping point relative to this. Will we regress into factions and fall apart or will we shift into a the next evolutionary development of humanity. In a new way of thinking, feeling and doing there is no controversy anymore between ‘spiritual (or inner)’ and ‘activism (or outer)’. Our actions are indeed a reflection of our inner passion (or the ‘heart’). The one can not be without the other. More than that, we will also know that we have to do this together and that it can not be just in one aspect of life such as for instance our environment or the financial system. All of those areas of life are always and only a reflection of the current paradigm that we are living in. They are also integral; one does not exist without the other.
    So, if we ‘tip’ it will be all of us and all at once towards a collective ‘no’ to all that is abusive and solely individually driven in a ‘survival of the fittest’ manner. And we will hear a resounding ‘yes’ to all that is shared, for the good of everybody and the earth in all it’s manifestations. How is this going to happen? Can we ‘force’ it through ‘action’ or ‘spiritualism’? It will ‘do’ and organize itself in every individual (so called) and all of us and all our actions.
    Now we will see a million people in a square. Then somebody in the depth of meditation will see only light and all bodies arising in it as an interwoven web of energies already inherently connected. And it Will Be So.

  • cc smith

    Over the last few years, I have felt myself being “pulled” toward an awareness within. After reading the Bible and other spiritual books, I discovered that indeed ,we live in a world of love and kindness. We were not meant to live out our lives only concerned with ourselves, our needs and our wants. We are all connected . Every action has an effect outward , effecting others too. I do believe in a higher power, I call God. This is what the Bible teaches…to treat others as you (I), would want to be treated. It doesn’t matter where on this earth we live, we are all one in the Spirit. In positivity.
    If you believe in the positive live force, then what about a negative life force ? This is the force that has created all the wars that ever happened. It’s the same force that makes people jealous , angry , envious of others. To ever see our world come together , we must individually seek the knowledge ( that comes from enlightenment of the life force, the holy spirit ). Even though we are (in spirit) one , individually we are responsible for our actions. It’s only when we are numb to the spirit within, that we think with our individual “egos”, that disconnects us with the higher power that is indeed inside all of us.
    We are supposed to love each other and help each other when we see others are in need. The man-made things of this earth will indeed all fall away – the only thing left , the only thing that really matters is how we treated each other . Did we embrace others, with all of their differences or did we hate them , cast them aside because it would have meant that maybe I (we) would have had to take a stand and get involved. To truly make this world a world of love , we must all stop thinking with the individual mind, the ego.

  • World Citizen

    I am so encouraged to read the feedback here, and hear so many people getting it so deeply: the paradox is in the title of the article… “A versus S”…Whose side are you on? And as more and more of us ‘lay down our arms’ and ‘give up the fight’, the tipping point will be about all of us embodying our own activism and spirituality, our own masculinity and femininity, our own light and shadow. The tipping point is when the requirement to choose sides is abandoned in favor of ‘What can we create together?’, and when these inspired collaborative creations start to flood the wars, battles, conflicts, causes, complaints, accusations, and ‘right and wrong’ are washed away by the swell of possibility. The possibility of being at peace with all of who we are, with our diversity and multiplicity, our own inconsistencies and foibles, our own capabilities and potential….at peace, peace, peace.

  • Anonymous

    A question for the ages, isn’t it? And current times of course :-)

    In a nutshell, agree with the responses from S Grace, robert4joy, Brent Keime, Frans Robert, Darlene, Hollie, Pollyanna Darling, Jackie Ralph, et al. “There is no one ‘versus’ the other.”

    Started asking meself a similar question about 12 years ago, while both imbibing beer and meandering through meditation, and slowly came to the conclusion that the most consistent reading of my impulses, my lessons in life, my experiences, etc, pointed towards activism – for me. But your mileage would vary, and why not? There’s nothing I’ve come across in natural law, empirical observation and that old bastion of authority (common sense) that suggests that the same path would be right for everyone.

    I have a friend who’s undergone extremely painful sessions of rebirthing / regression. She’s had enough violence and abuse done on/to her (in past lifetimes) to absolutely convince her that her path – to salvation, moksha, nirvana – lies through spirituality. She’s had quite enough of our individual foibles, our social ills and our herd-nationalistic tendencies. I’m not arguing with her (she considers me an annoying Activist).

    On the other hand, I have other friends for whom activism is the sole raison d’être. Spirituality is too airy-fairy. They do believe there is something wrong that needs to be fixed / changed – and action’s necessary. They campaign against paedophilia, forced prostitution, domestic violence – and they do do some ‘good’. I don’t argue with them either (although they place me in the Spiritual camp, and I like playing the devil’s advocate).

    It would be lovely, as Simonste says, if individuals with diverse beliefs could put them aside long enough to collaborate on common or mutually-agreed goals, even if short-term. “Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. – André Gide”. We could take a leaf out of Science’s book here.

    If it were up to me I’d re-phrase the 64,000 question to “My Role in Helping Human Liberation Is …”; do some serious thinking about which direction my typical motivations, my special skills and attributes, my past experiences, my circumstances, etc, were pointing to; then get something going there, even if it’s ‘just’ meditation. Nike’s inspired slogan straddles our two camps very well, methinks.

    I recommend Belgian beer. It has a way of putting things into perspective.


  • espt77


    Thank you for a most provocative essay. I agree with your general conclusions, but have problems with the way you set the stage. Your title “Activism versus Spirituality,” may subliminally contradict your desire for balance and a middle ground.

    To me the issue is not “activism vs. spirituality”. We do not need to find a middle ground but new territory, a new way, a “both/and’ way of approaching issues . Spirituality and Activism.

    I honor and seek to follow the spiritual path, agreeing that true change comes when one changes the way one perceives oneself, recognizes his or her limitation and opens up to ultimate realities beyond self, seeking to connect with the Infinite through the power of love. But I also know that there are bad actors, dare I say evil people–the Konys, the Hitlers, the San Francisco drug lords–with a lust for power that will destroy our world if they are not checked by active, organized, civilizing forces

    In your essay you named some of the world great spiritual leaders, who withdrew to the mountain top for inspiration. We must also note that they came down from the mountain to become an active force for good in the world, although their activism took various forms. I agree personal development and change, enlightenment through spirituality, takes study, contemplation, reflection and commitment, but we can’t stop there. Did not Socrates say this in Plato’s cave analogy? We must tear ourself away from group-think to struggle to see the light, but once we arrive in the sun’s illuminating truth, we can not remain to bask solely in this radiant beauty, but must return back down with new new understanding to do what we can in a “both/and” way– through both Activism and Spirituality.

  • Mr. Bean

    incumbency artifacts repurposing fraught anesthetic lethargy incentives consensus…offered for consideration…

  • Cstedmond

    BRILLIANT Todd….I AWAKENED to this in 2005 and joyfully dedicate 24/8 to spreading this WISDOM

  • Grannymaui

    cc smith, as I read your response re. life force and negative life force, which is ” The God Force”, we have been given Free Will, the Divine Gift to choose love over hate. This is our freedom to create with the divine gift of Thought. Sandra

  • Grannymaui

    Pollyanna, Loved your response. Yes Free Will is our divine gift, each one of us. If enough of us choose the route of love and peace, then our behaviour automatically without doing any more, will change the world to one of peace. Knowing how our Mind works is a great asset to say the least.

  • Cnandca

    Excellent article! Since I have been a student of the Abraham information for years, I now tend toward trying to do the inner work; to stay in the “vortex” in order for Source energy to flow through me. And I feel too often the activist approach is “pushing so hard against” that it only creates more of the same! Yet I do sign the petitions I receive, send them with loving thoughts to do their good, and sometimes donate money to causes I feel are most positively oriented.
    Thanks again for the thought-provoking article. I agree that the yin yang idea must play into the solution to all this dissent.

  • Kaia Svien

    We can blend activism and spirituality, letting each shape the other, opening channels that are new and birthed by these powerful times we are moving through. It’s what so many of us have been preparing ourselves to do for years.The creativity is forged from the dance of the losses, the outrage, the inner work, the trust of developing consciousness, the vision, the inner knowing and more. There are many people doing this: Joanna Macy and Orland Bishop are two who come to mind right away for me; there are countless others.

    As a long-time activist and spiritual seeker, I’ve had the opportunity to play in this field of blending the two. One example: while I was teaching a meditation class, the story about the Abu Graib prison tortures ripped through the news. As the hearts of the class members broke open in response, we created a project in which a group of people (book club, yoga class, neighbors, etc ) made a sign like “We want your children to grow up healthy and strong”or “We apologize for the treatment of your sons and brothers” and took their photo gathered around the sign. The Fellowship of Reconciliation picked up the project and eventually about 4000 North Americans participated. It was challenging to get the photos to Iraq, but some made them. Meanwhile, an energetic arc of concern and love was created that flew through the skies right next to the planes carrying weapons and soldiers.

    Part of my spiritual practice these days is to read the news, sit and rock the paper in grief if I’m moved that way or let outrage roar through my raised fist, call forward my knowing of love, beauty, our interconnection and ask creativity to flow. Either I am given a dream, a blessing, an image to send out to the collective for healing or an idea that can manifest concretely. I’m guessing that many of us are being called to something similar, in a fashion that works with our unique personalities, spiritual understanding, and the issues we’re passionate about.

    Thanks for raising this great opportunity for reflection.

  • JLovejoy

    Barbara Marx Hubbard is part of the Integral Movement. In your email you use her as an example of someone representing only an internal spiritual shift as a solution. I don’t think she would see it this way. A more integral approach may help you and all of us see past what you see as a “vs.” dichotomy. The I, WE, IT, IT’s of Ken Wilber’s contribution to the emerging Integral perspective really helps understand and move past these kinds things. It’s a very useful map regardless of what some may think of the man himself. The Integral community has tackled and moved beyond questions of the nature.

    Real change happens in all four of those fundamental perspectives which are co-arising at any given moment in any situation. They aren’t separate. I’m not going to go deep on this here but I encourage you to look into and explore the Integral perspective that holds the “true and partial” view of all perspectives. All these areas can all be developed in one person and you can focus on one area that resonates most with you as an individual. Holding it within a more Integral framework allows less time to be spent debating which one is ‘right’ or more effective and more time spent on collaborating.

    For example, your focus may be the IT’s (Systems) perspective and you can focus there, to get real adoption of any new system behavior ( I ) will have to shift too. As more individuals shift then Culture (WE) shifts. So they are not independent of each other. They are co-arising and interdependent and there are many examples of each influencing the other first. But for the change to stick, it has to emerge in all four. You can’t leave one out but you can start with one.

    Holding an Integral perspective allows for more skillful means and the opening of dialogues on how to maximize the work in each quadrant. Within the Integral community there are “Spiritual Activists” for instance.

    Lets expand past this, there is a way to hold all of it. I think the 4 Quadrant AQAL model is a fantastically useful map of this kind of territory, check it out. There are already millions of people moving in this space, beyond Either / Or. It’s a powerful shift and one I imagine you’re already making or you wouldn’t be asking these questions. Check it out.

    AND is the new OR.

  • Janice Rossing

    Humans are organic with the world. The inner world of individuals molds the surrounding environment and is itself also deeply affected by it. The one acts upon the other and every abiding change in the life of humanity is the result of these mutual reactions.

    Our inner world is in a reciprocal relationship with the outer world. We create what we give our focus to. That’s how we’re constructed. Giving our focus to and resisting what is will only add more energy to it and make it grow. If we want something else than what is, the focus of our thoughts has to be on what we want instead. Our actions will follow.

    What kind of thinking and believing does it take to create a world of justice and prosperity for every man woman and child on the planet? Beginning with the understanding that we are in reality one and all that implies about our thoughts, purposes, and actions, we will have taken the first powerful and creative step towards creating the kind of world that will enable and empower people to create a world of justice and prosperity for all humanity. Reaching out, consulting with, joining with, and working with like-minded people enlargens the circle of thought, purpose, and action and its transformative power. Unless and until unity is firmly established, peace and all that implies is impossible.

  • Homewardboundgirl

    I have only read the first two paragraphs and am compelled to comment. This article is written from the a duality prospective. I’m right You’re wrong…The way of the ego where there is only one way and that one way is my way!!! There is no room for this type of fear mongering any longer. We have each chosen to be here at this time, during this most incredible galactic event. We each have a responsible part to play in this ascension, whether it be as an activist or as a spiritualist or just being your beautiful self full of Love…Unconditional Love!!!

  • Penny Grace

    I don’t believe it has to be either or. It HAS TO BE both!

  • Roger

    The notion of Free Will and our perception of it is one that intrigues me. One can say that it is inevitable that mankind was going to reach the point it is at now: serious problems all round, not least of which our environment.
    But surely ,it was inevitable that we would discover oil when we did, and that there was no one to say “hold up guys ! This stuff could give us some problems down the line”. How could we have known the consequences? Our Collective Consciousness at that time did not allow us to deal with Oil any differently. Am I right?

    What’s happening now is that another (the next) Consciousness is exerting it’s influence on humanity. Many of us aware of this and are welcoming it into our lives. I estimate this number to be many millions and I base this on (and I will be very glad of any opinion of this) that for instance, The Celestine Prophecy was No 1 in Best Sellers on both sides of the Atlantic for many weeks. It has obviously been read by millions and it was James Redfield who announced on his website that in his opinion, the voice to listen to regarding the Mayan Calendar was Carl Calleman who has provided compelling argument that it (the calendar) is about a huge shift in consciousness that will radically alter the quality of life for those who will survive a likely ‘breakdown’ of our current System.

    Your introduction and presentation of your thinking was a joy to receive. By exchanging ideas, we progress.

  • Emmeline

    The different approach, with activism or spirituality has always puzzled me. I am from Europe and I am always so happy that we are not having fascism here. There’s a lot going on to bring about tears now as well, but something like that … hu, when you think of for instance NKorea, there wouldn’t be things like a website like this.
    Inner work is always good to do, I would also like to see results in society. What Todd wrote about the environmentalist that named so many good things that they had achieved, but the drillers and other waisters have a much longer list. I would go with whatever brings about results, some up, some down. Not sure what is really working or why not yet, usually combining the two as I go along.
    Love this site to read and share about it. Thank you Todd.

  • Roger

    Okay, Having just watched the second film, I feel moved to share a very strange experience that took place in 2008.

    At that time, I lived in a houseboat on a canal in England. It was my custom to walk to the local shop in the morning for a copy of the newspaper I read, and like to look at over breakfast. On November 10th (a Monday), I did this.
    I ‘worked’ my way through the pages as I ate breafast with several cups of tea until I came to the ‘middle section’ which dealt with subjects like Art and Culture, Consumer issues and Puzzles. It was when I turned to a particular page that I had a strong sensation of what is known as Deja-vu. I knew that I had seen this page before! And it didn’t go away/diminish. I should tell you that the page featured 10 different Perfumes, with a photo of each bottle, a description of, and the rating out of 10. And of course the price.
    Having finished reading what interested me in the rest of the section, I went back to the page that caused such strong Deja-vu. My eye drifted up to where the date is printed and to my astonishment it read Wednesday September 19th 2012.
    Nowhere else except for that one page, not the page it backed on to, nor twice on the reverse.

    I wrote to the paper concerned and pointed out with some humour, their misprint, I didn’t receive a reply. I tried again a couple of years later, this time by email and did get one [reply] which acknowledged the misprint, but added that as far as he knew, I was the only person to have spotted it! And this is one of the large nationals with a big readership.
    It is important to stress that the deja-vu came first(and instantly).

    So…it begs the question a bit. At least as far as I’m concerned! Will I go out even that day? Drive a car? mmm maybe not. Or maybe thats not it. maybe something bigger. The day the planet takes a solar flare hit that renders the National Grid useless? Or even the day on which Visitors from ‘out there’ make formal contact! Or what? Maybe nothing at all. Something to look forward to anyway!

    I have of course still got the paper and have made some photocopies.

    In Peace and Love


  • Khaya

    The best solution to so many of our problems was created by Jacque Fresco, founder of the Venus Project, which is introduced and explained in the 2nd and third of the Zeitgeist movies ( these movies also put a lot of other things into perspective in a different way than others have), as well as on the Venus Project website ( The question becomes how to implement a world such as the one proposed a.s.a.p. Have you seen these films and thought about interviewing the creator of these films, or anyone from the Venus Project???

  • Sue Vos

    Dear Todd, your article is truly wonderful, and speaks of something which is very close to my heart.

    The “force of evil” if I might call it that, works in very clever and insidious ways. We give it power by buying into it, by allowing it to stir us up and call forth anger, hatred for those who are caught up in acts of terrible evil. Most of the time we are unaware of how this is at work in us. If we so choose, we can begin to examine what happens within us when we are confronted with news or videos such as Kony 2012. It is very interesting if one has not yet begun this kind of self-observation. If we are inspired to act, what sort of action is it?

    We can no longer fight wars against crime, against terrorism or anything for that matter. We are called to act in quite another way. It is a different kind of action. Our action can simply be how we meet the other, each human being with whom we come into contact. Do we meet everyone with unconditional love and compassion? Do we meet a person who is angry with anger, or can we meet them with a loving and compassionate heart, and an understanding that whilst they might be caught up in anger and hatred, we do not know their story and why their life might have led them to be where they are. There is such great power in this kind of action. For the angry person to simply being in the presence of unconditional love, in that moment something can open for them, a seed for something new and beautifulcan be planted in their heart.

    We need to look at our own inner dragons, humbly recognise them and tame them. A spiritual path in today’s world is about becoming inwardly still in the face of anything. It is is a huge ask, but for me it is the only way into the future.

    The spiritual path or a path of inner development (which is a very personal thing) does not mean that we take no action where action might be required. Courageous, bold and loving action is required. Each of us is called in different ways in the world, to fulfill our purpose, to serve the evolution of humanity. Each of us has a role to play.

    I like to ask myself who or what is “driver” behind my action. Is it my little “i” (lower ego) or my I, my Higher Self (the I AM)?

  • Anonymous

    Hey Todd, great post. This is the work I have been doing for 25 years. One person at a time. (sometimes more when in groups, but the rigor of 1~1 is unavoidable.)
    In simple terms, my interior is my exterior. Every thought, every action generated from an intention, or from my unconsciousness, affects the field.
    To be comprehensively considerate of the truth of this is a life’s practice and some more.
    The cloistered nuns praying every day for humanity are doing as much heavy lifting as the activist doing heavy lifting in the physical world.
    Not one absent of the other, but done in consciousness.
    To do this, we need to know thyself. It is no surprise that this was the inscription on the Oracle of Delphi, to Apollo.
    Great work,



  • Fingus

    Just be yourself, that’s all. It really is that simple.

  • Carol Saia

    Absolutely! As an astrologer, this is part of the lesson that astrology teaches. Everyone is born with a Destiny and Purpose, and a different assignment to get it all done for our own Soul growth and to heal the world. Your natal chart is the blueprint for your current life on earth, being a spiritual being in a physical body. Some are Activists some are Spiritualists. Stop trying to Change each other and just be Yourself!!!Find your own God/dess Inner Power. Then DO IT. Our intentional thought/prayer/meditation is Powerful. Activists wake up people and that is their job.
    Is there only one flower on earth? Is there only one color ?
    Fire Signs Inspire! Earth Signs Work it, Air Signs Think it, and Water signs Feel it. SPIRIT, BODY, THOUGHT and SOUL/EMOTION. Most people have some of everything, some more Fire or Air, etc. and we change as the planets shift, There is a Season, turn turn turn…We are all good as we are and WE all have our own missions and lessons. Love, Carol Saia

  • Sherilynn

    Well said! Great article!

  • Wil Zarecor

    Throughout the history of the World, people have always looked for a great force to overcome a lesser force. The greater force succeeds, but only temporarily until an even greater force enters the conflict. And on it goes without ever reaching total resolution. The defeated are always left with hate and resolve to return with greater force to regain the ground they just lost.

    When Jesus said, “Resist not evil.” he was telling us that evil has no power in the Kingdom of God unless it is given power by the resistance of those who confront it. His wisdom was that by concentrating your energy on love for people and the planet while realizing that the evil force can not exist in the Kingdom of God will eventually make that evil fall by the wayside whereas force can only beat it into temporary submission.

    I would urge all who are interested in a spiritual approach to sit in meditation seeing the light of God well up within them (Jesus also said, {The Kingdom of God is within you.”) on each slow inhalation and seeing that light (love) exit their heart chakra to cover the planet on exhalation.

    If enough people do it regularly for 30 minutes per day, you will see things improve in ways undreamed of. I know, I have done this in the past with smaller matters. You should not concentrate your thought or direct your energy to a single event or place, the whole World in hurting.

  • FAY

    Thank you for this. I have come up against this question for myself over the past years. The answer lies within. As we each take responsibility for our own lives, in particular processing our fear, we begin to act rather than react and see the world change around us. We live in a tiny place, where everything is connected to something else, more precious. Change yourself and change the world. Love, Fay xox

  • manjushri

    Hi Anreal

    It seems to me that some people can use the idea that “everything is perfect, no need to change a thing” as a justification for not engaging in life and to focus exclusively on themselves. However, if you don’t mean using Dzogchen as an escape, then I may have misunderstood you. I would offer one thing though: right action frequently calls us to do things even though we may not intrinsically enjoy them. Dealing with illness, either in ourselves or others, often demands we undergo unpleasant situations. Changing a tire in the pouring rain, paying taxes–life is filled with constant ups and downs. However by resting in the View of Dzogchen we can experience some freedom and peace even with inevitable difficulties, even if we don’t “enjoy” the difficulties per se.

    All the best to you,

  • Lizette Stiehr

    You are so incredibly articulate on this issue. I think so many of us who have been steadily doing the personal work struggle with all the challenges to work to impact the collective. And I love how clearly you have laid out the two paths. I love how you never even use the old, just working on you is selfish argument of my family….but rather give a rational, lucid voice to the critical importance of doing that “inside work”. Thank you this was such a personal gift to me. May blessing of this magnitude come into your life daily (and I’ll bet you anything they are!). Thank you. Lizette

  • Anreal Perception

    Hence why I’m saying free yourself from conditioned existence, that is, all the things we have been taught to think or believe, while always keeping in mind that everything is perfect including when we have to do things that are seemingly unpleasant. I believe we are on the same page.

  • Anreal Perception

    You are on the mark. And I would take it even further, because from a Dzogchen perspective we need to free ourselves also from the ideas of what the ‘external’ world is or should be. In that sense, Kony is no more real than the thoughts in our heads, and is playing out as an archetypal thought – form …
    So what to do then? Which brings us back to recognising what he represents in each of us, and getting rid of that, first and foremost. Then, decide on the right action, if any, according to our natures. :)

  • Anonymous

    Before I get into reading these I just want to say that in the early 70′s this is exactly the place I came to. Politics and change or changing myself. I followed the Abortion Caravan across Canada and helped change those laws but somehow lost my marriage in the process of seeing so much more of the world. My children lost their father. I suffered greatly later as I in turn lost them. When we don’t really know what we’re doing but follow like sheep we sometimes serve as pawns for others who claim for the masses and don’t always regard for your personal situation. Later the spiritual groups had the same disregard as Scientology ate up my little funds whilst my children went without. Then I met a older yoga teacher and began the long journey at $3 a session, still not really knowing what I was doing but appoximately a saturn cycle 30 years later, was rewarded with that leap into. In between the trials were great. Illness, bullying, unemployment, loss, trauma’s, suicidal. Today I too am torn still between the POWER of our petitions, our voices and the intriques of what can be done with Inner Powers so that we may move in the world without being a victum of it. So at the moment, after reading many many books, Buddha and Tibet and more, this book “THE BOOK OF SECRETS” BY OSHO $50, 1200 pages, has the best laid out explanations of the process that I’ve ever seen notwithstanding what OSHO himself might have been about or not. or accomplished or not. I found it marked down to 1/2 price in blackbondbooks recently. It can probably be found online second hand. I’m already dreaming of robots in airport terminals so I believe that we will have robots in 20 years and in 45 may be surpassed or meld with intelligences greater than ours. In those kind of futuristic directions I think having a good grounding in cosmic science is a good call. I’ll be 80 in 20 years. Hard to believe all this. To date those years of yoga serve my physical health well. In my leap I discovered there is NO other but Osho explains that confusing issue too.

  • Anonymous

    Page 414 of Osho’s book of secrets. Feeling is not your mind, that is why you are afraid of feeling. Not afraid of reason but feelings can lead to chaos. You will not be able to control. With reason the control is with you, with the head, you are the head. Below the head you lose the head, control, cannot manipulate. Feelings are just below the mind, a link between you and the mind. Then leaving your feelings, BE FREE. Move from sounds to freedom 416. When you come to the depth of these feelings you can jump and if you jump from the feelings, you jump into yourself. To come to the feelings you will have to leave many things, words, sounds, mind – not leaving the world as it will always follow you in you but from the build up of momentum of feeling jump. You will find that calm which will be your base to build all else.

  • Anonymous

    Please tell me what that means. My yoga teacher 1974 said that too. I twist up like a prezel of self consciousness trying to be myself that keeps changing by the second. How can you or she say that????

  • Anonymous

    Don’t think a good percentage of the population is enjoying much these days, certainly not those kids forced to kill.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, loved this discus – this is what is happening to me too. Beyond my wildest dreams. – “Through this process alot of the things “I” wanted to do, or DIDN’T want to do, start disappearing, or changing, as I become less and less attached to my own ideas, and more in touch with my ‘true nature’.” or some version thereof. wonderful.

  • Anonymous


  • Anonymous

    FIX the dam thing, or it will keep following you. Just keep an upward eye and watch the Dove appear. My experience. Jimmy Hendrix’s sings “but do you have experience!!!” (smile)

  • Anonymous

    Baez is that YOU?

  • Anonymous

    Boy would I like to disagree with you about spirituality. It’s about sincerity, practice of virtues and asana’s in my case, about company you keep in mindfulness, moderation, cleansing and purifying that can be a whole responsible cycle of 30 years giving some kind of harvest. It’s about the tools to use when you can’t choose much of anything. It’s what you use to cope that’s a healthier addiction or in addition to. It is about studying and caring and ofttimes feeling like your missing out on the mindless pursuits that give others pleasure. It’s about suffering and perseverance. Not easy. Not in the least airy fairy. Not that I don’t like those kind of irresponsible moments too in self indulgent moments before I feel again the need to try to live a committment of feeling good, self respect and care for others and earth. That all can lead to graduating. Desire it strongly enough.

  • Deanne Adamson

    This article was beautifully written and right on point. It seems to me that everyone play a role in attaining world peace. This role is unique to everyone. We often refer to this role as our “calling,” “purpose,” or “destiny.” Either way, by being true to ourselves, following our hearts, and applying our talents, skills, passions, and strengths in a purposeful and conscious manner in alignment with the greater good, we can attain world peace. This world peace comes from within you. Everything outside is simply a manifestation of everything inside. It is through individual enlightenment that world peace will emerge.

    The challenge is that not everyone is seeking, or even knows they should be or how to be, seeking enlightenment. Hence, the activists movement comes into play to provide a tipping point for others to wake up, as Todd says, “and look in the mirror.” Ideally, everyone would be responsible for themselves and seeking higher truths, consciousness, and then applying their energy to the greater good. But this strips humanity of its connectedness; we are suppose to co-create and figure all of this out together.

    I think of world peace as the beginning of a new world. To simplify it even more, I think of attaining world peace as a game. Each person holds a piece of the puzzle. World peace is certainly not the finish line; it is only the beginning, and it will take each of us to get there. Well we already are there, but that is a different subject :) This being said, some people’s calling is more inward, and some people’s calling is more outward focused. Both types (spiritual or activist) are equally important. Humans are not separate; but rather represent different parts of the overall human personality. So while one is working inward, and one is working outward, both are working inward/outward because they are one. Each person benefits from the other person’s work on an energetic and physical level.

    In summary, I agree with the article and in my own words that: spirituality (or inner enlightenment) is necessary for a global shift, but that this inner enlightenment is dependent on raising the vibration and consciousness of humanity as a whole which occurs through various activists movements. What activists must be conscious of is how this pro-active energy is being used. Activists movements that are designed to take out the evil are ultimately feeding energy into what is evil which can easily backfire. We must remember that what you focus on expands. To me it makes more sense for activists to focus on creating peace, love, and harmony; as oppose to ending fear, evil, and harsh human conditions.

  • Doreen Agostino

    Hi Todd and thanks to all for sharing.

    I perceive our core Light or Soul is calling us now to re-member that separation of any kind is an illusion. It requires courage to look at what we are another way – individual cells of one Consciousness also referred to as Light, God, Other Name, Infinite Power to transform negativity through the heart into a new world foretold as 2012 by indigenous cultures, every major religion in the world, and perceived by new edge scientists and physicists to greatly alter the course of evolution.

    Perhaps heart centered action from inner wisdom of Soul unconditional love is a next step. Through collective resonance a physics phenomenon every person who takes this step becomes a bridge for others to cross into a new world.

    I sense 2012 is the tipping point to raise awareness for people to transform fear and negativity into inner peace, divergent views into compassion and mutual respect, and perceived problems into opportunity for collective good, + heart centered action that informs as many people as possible about a fundamental shift in reality, encourages people to connect locally, grow food, and prepare for possible Earth changes [extreme weather, earthquakes, shortages of food, water],+ to speak from the heart in VAST numbers to end all injustices and war, which frees military personnel, technology and funding for safe alternative energy, assists people in most need, restores our environment, and evolves education and media to unite people in a spirit of cooperation and unbridled creativity.

    Prophecy is incentive to willingly connect now, collaborate, cooperate, and transform negativity into fair, care, share rather than intensifying negative alternatives.

  • Roger

    yes I like what you say very much. here in england it is getting pretty strange

  • Sandra.

    So.., to start with the woman on the mirror. Wish me luck.

  • Emmy

    I wish you luck.

  • Sadrienne

    I absolutely agree, Todd, and would like to add two points. First, perhaps the definition of the word ‘activism’ needs review. I’d say any effort – honorable though it may be – that comes out of a mindset which views the cause as a battle in some context, will automatically convey a sense of force, and really become a matter of “who will dominate next?” At best, the outcome exchanges a nightmare for a less-scary dream. Conditions on the ground may hopefully improve, but in the absence of right thought and right action, a shift into a higher level of mind and being will not transpire. As long as there are ‘losers’, their wounds will fester and manifest again. “Every thought is an act of war or an act of peace.” (A Course in Miracles) If activism smacks of hostility to anyone, then it’s just a fancy word for fighting.

    I’ll add my second point as a New Comment. Thank you for this opportunity to share. :) I am,

    adrienne from Largo, FL

  • guest

    . . . continued from below . . .
    In your e-mail inviting us to view this article (thanks for it), you mention Barbara Marx Hubbard as someone on the ‘side’ of ‘spirituality-before- activism’. That’s true. However – and I think you already agree, Todd – Barbara is an activist extraordinaire. If we’re looking to clarify the definition of an activist, she seems to me to be a personification of the word! She’s been taking action all her life toward steering the world through this time. Heck, she practically ‘discovered’ this time we’re in! And she speaks from experience, not just ideas. For example, in her book “Emergence: the Shift from Ego to Essence” (I think), we are gifted with her deeply generous, personal account of a 21-day process she committed herself to (at age 69), during which she did, if fact, shift from living as her local self (ego) to happily stepping aside to allow her Essence (Who-She-Really-Is) to take the driver’s seat of her life. It’s the story of true transformation. The reader will love how Barbara fell in love with her Self, and will want that too. Plus, it becomes obvious that this is humanity’s path. This is no ordinary self-help book, I swear!

    Anyway, at this juncture, I believe that Barbara achieved ‘continuity of consciousness’. (Christ-hood, Universal Consciousness, Buddha-hood. .) This means never again to lose memories of past lives, as we move in and out of form. And THIS is what The Shift is all about. It BEGINS with the inner shift, the next level of relationship with God, with Love Itself, which will manifest as true compassion for others. IT IS ONLY FROM THIS PLACE that activism will truly work, and challenges can be solved. Until we ‘go there’, no matter how much compassion we try to bring to the table to resolve problems, we’re still a bunch of egos who will inevitably clash, because that’s what egos do. They’re crazy! They do crazy things! It’s impossible for ego to stomach ego’s deeply offensive behavior, so progress is slow. But once we can get to that next level (and we can’t try and fail), well they can crucify you, and all you’ll do is understand that they know not what they do. This is when we start moving mountains! This is the latent power is all of us! Here is the level of being where miracles are ordinary occurrences. Barbara refers to ‘the power of two or more’, that when two or more people are gathered together as One, then separation fades away, problems turn to dust, solutions emerge and the magic begins.

    But honestly, the whole damn world can turn to dust before I, personally, get to where we have to go! Ha! You know? So, activism definitely has it’s place! It’s just that it also has its limitations, until we do the inner work.

    Thanks, again. Love ya back, Todd. I am,
    adrienne from Largo, FL

  • Doreen Agostino

    I replaced the word activist with change messenger; heart centered people who speak up peacefully to transform war into peace, and all injustices into fair, care, share for all.

  • Sophia DeVere

    The problem isn’t just that we’re afraid to confront our inner truth. We don’t want to face ugly truths on the outside, either. Truth is truth. A lot would change if people would look beyond the mainstream media, even the “progressive” media and NPR, to some of the alternative sites that go deeper. A lot of what’s found there is disturbing, and of course it needs to be carefully sifted through. But we have to stop being afraid of being “weird” and “strange” politically as well as spiritually. I’m always amazed at how people will agree the media are owned by corporations, yet still accept the official line on what’s beyond the wars, economic “recovery,” radiation and food safety, etc. etc. When we become compassionate enough on the inside, hopefully we’ll become more determined to see through the lies on the outside.

  • Amy LifeStar

    I read the article! It is indeed very good and quite accurate!

    Simply because we find a balance level between spirulism and activism does not mean that we would and could have better opportunity to create a more beautiful and peaceful place for us and for our fellow human beings.

    My point is we needed to only change our selves (spirituality comes into play) if our current view point, action, deeds, motives, intentions, etc. that are obviously defective, destructive, and useless to society and/or to the nature of the issue(s) that concerns us in small or big way because if we changed our authentic and honorable agendas; then, we are not doing humanity or us much justice since an authentic, honorable, and sustainable mission, vision, or goal also ties into the level of active actions (activism) that are somehow inspired on a deep, meaningful, and spiritual level.

    Therefore, we constantly need to and must assess and readjust our own actions, thoughts, and motives to reach that same ultimate, authentic, and sacred vision, goals, missions, etc. that we set our mind and heart on which could and will ultimately liberate us in whole: body, minds, heart, spirit, and soul!

    The truth of matter is there are so much we could do for each other within the United States of America rather than go off board when our fellow human beings in the country needed us more than the wounded ones in other countries. For instance, we could and would make our country a much better, sweeter, and safer place if all of us just step back and think to ourselves and find effective, powerful, and authentic ways to teach the ones who needed to be taught about Ethics, Justice, Peace, Wisdom, Order, and Honor! I am sure some of us are put on earth to teach people about the essence, sacredness, and authenticity of these important
    codes and principles (Ethics, Justice, Peace, Wisdom, Order, and Honor) because these codes and principles dictate every good and bad things happening on earth: to us and to our loved ones, friends, to the sufferers/victims we saw on TV and newspaper, etc.!

    So, when these codes and principles of Ethics, Justice, Peace, Wisdom, Order, and Honor have been violated and destructed by the vicious, devious, and destructive beings on earth which already happened too often and too long in human history, I guarantee that there will be endless and needless destruction, distress, violence, threats, tortures, and so on happening day in and day out as we have observed, heard, acknowledged, and understood or even worst being the actual subject (person) to experience the destruction, distress, violence, threats, tortures, etc. when none of these disorders, destructions, threats, violence, and tortures needed to happen to begin with “if majority of the people on earth simply needed to be and strived to be prudent, honorable, and diligent at all times, especially when we are in public places because our actions, motives, and intentions involved the life and well-being of other human beings when we are in the public!”


    Amy LifeStar

  • Lori Bell

    Great article, Todd. Are you by chance also familiar with John Welwood’s ideas on “spiritual bypass”? Here’s an interview for reference: