Spiritual Secularism

Allow me to share something serious and larger than any particular issue. It is the underpinnings of my political philosophy. I see America lost in a dangerous blurring between the religious and the political. Religion is practiced as politics and politics is practiced as religion. The world of the sacred and the world of the secular have become blurred in false understandings. I am certainly referring to religious fundamentalism which practices judgmental schismatic religion as politics, but I am also referring to the establishment of the ethics of the marketplace as a given and an absolute that is akin to a fundamentalist religious belief. Both are ruled by dogma that has replaced any dedication to the search for truth.

We are caught in a contradiction as a society by allegiance to both a moralistic God and to individual materialistic hedonism. As Jesus taught, “ you cannot serve God and mammon too.” But that is exactly what we are trying to do in America. We always have. This is how we could have been so hypocritical as to have wrapped our founding in words like “One nation, under God”, “all men are created equal” and “inalienable rights to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, while we kept a race of people in slavery and perpetrated genocide on this land’s original inhabitants. Our political/social dogma has likewise held the right to exploit our fellow man and the land’s resources as unassailable principles of the free market. We are so blinded by religious and economic/political dogma that we have lost our way in the realms of both the spiritual and the secular.

Indian philosopher, J. Krishnamurti, said in Think on These Things, “a truly religious person…is seeking what is true, and that very search has a transforming effect on society.” He went on to say, “To find out what is truth there must be great love and a deep awareness of man’s relationship to all things.” By this measure, America certainly fails to be a truly religious society. We, rather, turn our backs on what is true, paying little attention to spiritual love or man’s relationship to all things. The result is that we are alienated from the planet and from our fellow humans, viewing both as fodder for a great corporate consumer world economy. The connected unity of humanity, and humanity with the planet’s ecosystem is not acceptable to either America’s religious or political/economic dogma.

I propose to those who wish to seek what is true and to transform society, to find a new compass. We must reclaim true spirituality from religion. It is also important that we reclaim true secularism from political and economic dogma. The affairs of the spiritual and secular world must evolve and conjoin. Not anything like the conjoining of religion and politics. No. Theirs is a marriage of dogma. I propose a conjoining of the spiritual and secular in the search for truth as Krishnamurti defines it. To coin a phrase, we must learn how to be spiritual secularists. We must, in the face of growing crises of both the spiritual/psychological and the political/economic worlds, realize that they indeed are not separate, but represent the two faces of one search for truth.

Until we realize that no human ought to be excluded from a loving circle of basic support and protection, and that all life is not only sacred, but necessary for the mutual support of all other life, we will not in truth, as Krishnamurti indicated, be religious. Nor will we transform into a sustainable successful secular society. Religion/psychology and politics/economics based in separateness, exclusion and exploitation are not truth. The spiritual principles of love and interconnectedness guide me as I address individual political/social issues. Spiritual secularism is a personal philosophy I share with my readers in the hopes it will have a transforming effect on them, and through them, society. Spirit knows we need it.

Bill Walz has taught meditation and mindfulness in university and public forums, and is a private-practice meditation teacher and guide for individuals in mindfulness, personal growth and consciousness. He holds a weekly meditation class, Mondays, 7pm, at the Friends Meeting House, 227 Edgewood. By donation. Information on classes, talks, personal growth and healing instruction, or phone consultations at (828) 258-3241, e-mail at healing@billwalz.com.

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