The connection between spirituality and politics
…is that each needs the other.
To start, let’s define the terms. Politics, for me, is reading, listening, thinking, talking, and acting in almost any sphere. Spirituality is anything you think it might be that isn’t pre-canned, spoon-fed organized religion. A principled atheist (sometimes called a “humanist”) can be spiritual, whether he or she knows it or not. Conversely, a rote Christian, Jew, Muslim, or whatever who never thinks independently and/or demonizes other groups is not, at least in my book.
Politics without spirituality lacks grounding in values, caring, and a sense that we’re all connected and connected with the earth. Spirituality without politics (caring about what’s happening in the world and doing something about it) is solipsistic navel-gazing. More than one of my friends and much that I read tell me that peaceful meditators, even if they do nothing else, are contributing to the welfare of the world. If their meditation practice gives rise to inner balance and calm in the rest of their lives, that may be true in a narrow sense. They may be more loving and patient, and people who encounter them may come away feeling calmer and happier too. All good. But undemocratic and unequal global and national political/economic systems go right on destroying and hurting. Spiritual practice could gradually lead to more people questioning the right and necessity of these systems continuing to exist, but making spiritual practice the source for and temporary refuge from direct political – hopefully revolutionary – activity would be a whole lot better. That’s what I do, and what I hope you’re doing, too.