Navigating the Nuance: Universal Spiritual Principles and Politics is all about breaking the made up rules that for whatever reason say we shouldn't or can't talk politics and religion. Or rather, why it is necessary to break the rules because not breaking them has allowed harm to go on for way to long.
Have you ever noticed that we love to over complicate things that are really simple, but then we try to make simple things that really aren’t? I have found this to be especially true within spirituality and philosophy. It would be like trying to reduce any sort of spiritual principle down to a simple slogan or saying… it always omits crucial details. “Change your thinking, change you life.” Sounds simple.
“I’ll just go and change a thought and my whole life will change!”
At least that’s what it sounds like should happen. But that ain’t it!
Change your entire system of thinking - your conscious thoughts, unconscious thoughts, beliefs, history, etc… the whole story - then yes, your life may start changing.
Observing and engaging in any sort of philosophy or spiritual practice requires a certain intimacy with its principles. In this case, we are talking about becoming intimate enough with how universal spiritual principles are enacted throughout our lives and how we, as individuals, may make use of them in order to create shift and change in our lives. This requires quite a bit of “navigating the nuance.” No matter how we cut it, this is not a simple process. There is nuance at play in life. That doesn’t mean it has to be complicated either, but there is nuance.
Now, the point of this blog series is, essentially, to give ourselves (us, the writers and you, the readers) permission to have some “real talk” about how life is currently showing up, and simultaneously discuss how these same principles are actively at play throughout the “realness” and sometimes even messiness of life.
As much fun as I might have navigating the nuance of spiritual principle bumper sticker slogans with you, that is not the intention for today. It is the intention though to let the over simplification of principle serve as an example of how easy it is to reduce our beliefs into irrelevancy.
For as long as I can remember, combining politics and religion was a major “no no!” Doing so was taboo and uncouth. You didn’t do it!
Not only did you not do it, but it was wasn’t even allowed. At least that was and seems to still be the common belief. And yet, for most of my adult life, I have seen politics and religion mix quite often in certain subcultures of life, unquestioned! (So much for the don’t mix politics and religion.) Turns out, not only is it allowed, but it is practiced all over the place. I gotta say, this brings up some mixed feeling for me.
As a spiritual leader within this national and potentially global organization, it seems to be commonly understood that we don’t, and maybe even shouldn’t, engage in the mixing of politics and religion, or in our case, spirituality. That seemed all well and good for a minute. Clean lines, a nice division between what we could and couldn’t talk about.
However, it did not take long at all for me to find that this dividing of should’s and should nots or could’s and could nots might, in fact, be a little bit of an over simplification (read sarcasm).
For one, it is an old and dated belief that one should not engage in politics from within a “spiritual” conversation. And it seems, this stems from a place of avoidance. It has, in fact, never been against any rules or laws to do so, despite the common belief that it is. Yes, there are parameters providing limitations around certain aspects of this conversation, but engaging in conversations about politicized topics within spiritual communities? Green light. ✅
Then, we come to another potential over simplification of universal spiritual principle and that is the common misperception that if you engage in this type of dialogue, or even recognize any political activity as less than desirable, then you are in someway doing it wrong. As if a true believer in these principles would never see or experience anything like that. ❌
How cruel is it to deny ourselves the recognition of “what is?” What is: going in our lives, actually happening, being experienced, affecting you, affecting others, etc. “What is” is the whole point of spirituality in the first place, so why would we make up rules for ourselves to deny that experience, and more, to deny ourselves the opportunity to name that experience in order to change it. You can’t change what you won’t see. (How’s that for an over simplification?)
And just like that, when we can’t or aren’t allowed to apply the teachings of a philosophy to our lives for the very purpose they exist, we have reduced a whole spiritual teaching to irrelevancy.
The reason we would do this is avoidance - spiritual bypass! When looking at “what is” becomes too painful we tend to want to bypass the whole situation, denying it from a very powerless place.
Instead, as uncomfortable as it may be at times, these situations are opportunities and invitations to engage in navigating the nuance. It is not simple to navigate the nuance of something that we would rather look away from. This doesn’t mean we should look away. It means there is something there for us to uncover. It means we need to practice this skill and dig in.
When it comes to politics, it has been a struggle to watch human lives, humanity itself, become politicized while simultaneously feeling the weight of “we can’t talk politics.” To feel as if we shouldn’t or maybe even can’t talk about these topics for fear of being seen as _____ (insert your own reason here: not being “spiritual” enough, not doing your work, not good enough… whatever the reason), is a huge disservice to ourselves and everyone these political decisions harm. We are not separate from them or these decisions. And when I say we, here, I am not talking about just spiritual leaders. I am talking about all of us. We all need to engage in this navigating the nuance of what feel like uncomfortable conversations at times; conversations about seemingly political topics that greatly impact friends, family, community, and the world around us.
When you live in a country that other countries issue travel warnings about, then we don’t have the luxury or privilege to look the other way and still say we believe in oneness.
It feels like there is a lot of nuance to navigate here, and I wish there wasn’t. I wish it did not feel like rectifying the difference between “politics” and human rights required such nuance and skill. However, at this time in history it does.
For my own well-being, and for your’s, with whatever authority you think I have, I officially give us permission to obverse and speak about humanitarian and worldly issues that are currently being politicized, and to be able to do so without having to feel any sense of wrong doing or guilt from confused religious or spiritual beliefs.
Let’s openly and compassionately engage in conversations about “what is.” Let’s learn to navigate the nuance of topics that have previously been uncomfortable. Not longer will we avoid or deny someone’s experience because it makes us uncomfortable. Let us develop the skills to dialogue productively about nuanced things. It is possible. It is even necessary. We can do it. Let’s embrace navigating the nuance.