Monday, 14 May 2007

A world full of radical spiritual leadership

In a way obvious, but in a way not, the Budha was not a follower of the Budha, Jesus was not a follower of Jesus, and Mohammed was not a follower of Mohammed.

All of our great religious prophets engaged in their relation with the eternal, with God, with Allah - that is to say their relationship with "all of it", their relationship with the universe, their relationship with "the whole", in such a deep and profound way that their engagement became a blessing and gift to others.

What would a world be like in which every one did that?

None of the great religious prophets were very much followers of any kind. They were radicals. They often occurred in radical opposition to the spiritual status quo. Jesus was born into the community of Judaism, and within that community he showed up as a religious revolutionary. All of these great prophets provided radical spiritual leadership, but to interpret that radical spiritual leadership as a call to be non-radical blind-faith followers of any religion is to completely miss the profound point of these people's lives.

The fundamental message of all these prophets lives is not that human beings should "be christians", or "be muslims" or "be buddhists" or etc. The fundamental message is that we (you and me, all your friends and family and my friends and family, all your community and my community, each one us) could ourselves engage with our relationship with god/allah/the eternal/the human condition/the etc. in such a deep and profound way that our own engagement becomes a blessing and a gift for those around us and thence on outwards.

The examples set by the lives of Christ, Mohamed and the Budha, is not to follow Christ, Mohamed or Budha. The example set by the lives of Christ, Mohamed and the Budha is ultimately to not be a follower of anyone. They certainly weren't.

What would a world be like in which a part of every persons life was a profound engagement in their relationship with the eternal, or god, or whatever you want to call that?

What would a world be like which was full up of radical spiritual leadership?

Ultimately successful leaders do NOT inspire followers. Rather they inspire others to become leaders themselves and provide leadership into even more unchartered territory. The ultimate compliment you can pay to any true leader is not to be a follower. It is to become a leader yourself, to build on what has been accomplished, and take it further - transcend, transform, re-invent, re-discover.

To transform and re-invent spiritual leadership for a new generation, or a new kind of sentient being, or a new environment or circumstance. The transformation of ancient religions in a way that abandons some of their historic artifacts is not the sacriligious or blasphemous corruption that fundamentalists mistake it for. Rather it is the exact fulfillment of the original essence and intention that has always been at the heart of spirtual devotion.

Monday, 7 May 2007

How do we make the world a better place?

Most of us have no idea. Except maybe to be caring towards our children and family, nice to our neighbours, kind to our in-laws, compassionate to strangers, as loving as we can bare to be to as many people as we can bare. Not that any of that is easy, but even if we achieve all that, it still leaves most of us with a sense of hopelessness in the face of wider world. All of our praying and church-going and charity appeals and self-sacrifice and love-giving, all of our volunteering and generosity, but still in the face of the famines and genocides, the terrorism and war-monegering, the loss of civil liberties and crazed gun-men... in the face of all of it, do we experience our lives as making the world a better place for our children and for the future?

So how do we make the world a better place? I certainly have no idea. And yet, despite my foolishness, helplessness and incompetence, my feeling has always been, since the first moment I found out that there are people who are suffering, and each subsequent moment I found out about more of them, and other kinds of suffering, is that I must devote my life to a resolution of this question, or else I have not really lived at all. What have I done today that makes me feel proud?