Crossing the Threshold: Entering Second Wave Spirituality
History reminds us that no cultural or spiritual wave is everlasting. Every wave of our evolution prepares us for another subsequent movement forward. Today we have reached a threshold that is ushering us in to a new relationship with ourselves and with all that is around us. As the first wave of spirituality is losing most of its momentum, a new spiritual wave is naturally forming and gathering strength within different faiths and in different nations. Vast numbers of people—lay and clergy alike—are beginning to embrace a socially engaged new wave of spirituality. Millions of people from different persuasions are beginning to enthusiastically support its unfolding. This is not a coincidence. This is all part of a massive movement of spiritual evolution.
Matthew Fox, reformer priest and the theologian of creation spirituality, has been calling on us since the mid-1970s to awaken to the nonseverable relationship between spirituality, social justice, and the love of the earth. Second Wave spirituality was heralded by the voices of recent evolutionary mystics the likes of Teilhard de Chardin and Simone Weil in Christianity, Sri Aurobindo and Gandhi in Hinduism, Martin Buber and Abraham Heschel in Judaism, and long before that by Jalal ad-Din Rumi in Sufism (Islam), whose influence has resurrected and widely spread in the West. Other seeders of the Second Wave renaissance are popular spiritual figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Teresa, Father Pierre, liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez, and of course teachers who, like those in the Quaker community and the African American church, never stopped reminding us of the relationship between love and social justice.
We could say that our spirituality itself is yearning for evolutionary growth and transformation. It is striving to liberate itself from its past indifference to global issues. It is refusing the disconnection from the earth that crippled its ability to manifest, socially and globally, the profound vision of love of the Divine. The world is struggling and wondering how it can survive the many serious crises it is facing. People of faith are coming to realize that if they want to be close to God, they have to acknowledge God for what God is: a radically loving solidarity with all suffering and an all-embracing force for peace, union, and creativity. God is a limitless emanation of compassion and care. Thus, a threshold of great spiritual and social significance awaits our crossing. Passing through this historic threshold is epic. The result is that our faith and spirituality will evolve and free themselves from the paralyzing dichotomies that have previously separated God from active compassion, love from justice, and inner peace from caring activism. Going through this portal of great transformation is challenging and often arduous, yet always meaningful and exalting to the soul and heart. We are setting historic markers by our advance to a spirituality of service—in other words, to a spirituality of love-in-action.
Second Wave spirituality is affirming that the divine presence and its unbounded love reside in the dream of a planet rich with human cooperation and a sacred communion with nature. With our new spiritual understanding, we are getting that God’s spirit is in the passionate longing of our souls for peace and justice. It is the compassionate tears of God that are welling up in our hearts. Mother Teresa said that the most indigent of people and those suffering the most are none other than the broken heart of the Divine among us. The new generation of Second Wave spiritual seekers is coming to understand this deep and compassionate wisdom. Whoever is treated unjustly is a wound inflicted on the soul of the Divine.
By participating in and supporting this new wave of engaged spirituality, we are partaking in one of the greatest spiritual awakenings ever to visit us, collectively and individually. We are joining with others from different religions and different cultures in building an epochal and forward movement in our spirituality. We glean the wisdom of the great spiritual teachers and mystics of all times. And, standing on their shoulders, we perceive a future they only dreamed of:
• Diverse people of spirit, united through the heart, gathered to serve those who are deprived from their rights and those who are most vulnerable
• People from every race and religion committed to protect and bless the earth and celebrate the divine presence through practicing a love that stretches far beyond the personal and into the global
• A significantly large number of people worldwide speaking out for a culture of inclusion, peace, and justice
Let us reflect for a moment on this last and very important issue of sheer numbers. Institutions bent on domination, control, and exploitation have historically been constituted of a very small number of individuals with a sweeping and inordinate amount of political or financial resources. It is important to note that there are also individuals with huge resources who choose to serve the world. Examples of such heroes of soul abound. Many who had great power did great good. The world has been very blessed by their fidelity to the heart and its spirit. However, we can ascertain that individuals and institutions that choose the way of exploitation and oppression rely on the mega power at their disposal and not on the conscious participation of a large number of people. Most of the people in the world are usually caring and desire to help and assist others. The real power of the good is in the large number of caring people, and the number of such people is staggering. As the majority of people awaken to their responsibility for love-in-action (beyond just their own families), an unstoppable wave expands, enlarges, and amplifies the spirit of solidarity, peace, and justice in the world.
We are coming very close to the possibility of an unfurling of overwhelming numbers of women and men advocating for good causes. If we keep on deconstructing the belief systems that held us back and are still refraining most of the world from getting engaged, we will witness the emergence of a nonviolent force for good beyond what any of us could have imagined. This is where religious ministers and spiritual teachers have a crucial role to play in helping us all cross the threshold. It seems that the Divine and the world are pleading with them: “Teach love-in- action. Awaken us to a socially engaged spirituality! Wake up the billions who by their sheer number can shift the self-defeating cultural trajectory of power-grabbing and cynical indifference!” No shadowy structure on earth will be able to resist the pressure of millions and billions for peace and solidarity. Let our faith become actions for love, let our spirituality erect altars for solidarity and justice, and nothing will be able to stop the birthing of a world civilization bent toward kinship, compassion, and a loving sense of justice.
We are accessing the joy of participating in the emergence of an astounding and evolutionary Second Wave spirituality—compassionate, engaged, and passionate about service.
We are standing at a historic threshold. The future of the human race is threatened by the explosion of religious hate, the spread of economic injustice, and the ongoing violation of our natural environment. News reports are too often disconcerting and alarming. We need to take heed and remain conscious of all that is at stake. Yet, we also need to remember that an evolutionary shift in our spirituality, one that will reorient us toward social engagement and earth-care, can indeed allow us to cross this critical threshold and bring about a future of peace, of enlightened and compassionate justice, and a sense of an interrelated global community. Such a reorientation of our spiritual focus can inspire a whole generation of spiritual seekers into socially transformative and healing actions. All the efforts we expend toward the arising of a new engaged spirituality are meaningful and very much needed.
Every voice and every endeavor toward the spread of the idea of love-in-action will help us empower the momentum of the coming spiritual tide. Every individual who chooses to live a noble and dignified life is an indispensable lever for change. Every woman and man who decides to make a difference in their milieu is a priceless contributor to the incarnation of the spirit of love among us. The idea of the single superhero who by himself saves everything is a belief that is part of the culture of domination. Lasting and effective transformation is brought about by the millions of authentically human heroes working in tandem.In order to advance in our spiritual evolution we are all asked to dream big and act as much as we can within the framework of our circumstances. And always—always— be a voice for peace and justice. Every heroic act is holy. Every act of love is heroic.
We are together, connecting the dots of our unity. We are the daring artists of love and compassion. Our canvas is the map of the world. We are indispensable participants in the ushering in of a more humane dawn. We are the co-creators, with God and all the willing others, of our planetary destiny.
Exceprt from Second Wave Spirituality: Passion for Peace, Passion for Justice by Chris Saade, published by North Atlantic Books, copyright © 2014 by Chris Saade. Reprinted by permission of publisher.