Friday, 4 March 2011

a Moment for Wisdom…


The reasons for the crisis in which the
world now finds itself are located in  something deeper than particular ways of organizing political systems and economies.

In different ways, both the East and the West are going through a single common crisis whose cause is the spiritual condition of the modern world.

As soon as human beings started considering themselves the source of the highest meaning in the world and the measure of everything, meaning began
to ebb, and the stature of man to shrink. The world lost its human dimension, and man began to lose control of it.

If the world is to change for the better, it must start with a change in the human understanding of things.

Huston Smith

Personal Wisdom:

Do you see all of humanity undergoing a “single common crisis”? What are the symptoms of this crisis?

What is the “source of the highest meaning in the world”?  Is it humans? Are we doing a good job? Can we get better at it? Should we?

What is our “spiritual condition”?  Who do you think is addressing that question in our society?

How would you live in a spiritually awakened society? What would be your “job”? How would you participate? How would your life change?

Societal Wisdom:

Is society facing “spiritual starvation”? What are the symptoms?

We rely on social workers and psychologists to “cure” us as individuals – but what is going to “cure” society?

What is the nature of the transformation?  What would a spiritually awakened society look like?

a Moment with Sharif…


I sent out the notice for yesterday’s conference call in an email with the subject line, “Creating a God That Works for All”.

That email got the LOWEST number of “opens” of any in recent history. And the highest number of people who “unsubscribed” from Commonway completely. (Most of the “unsubscribes” did not even open the email.)

All because I used the word “God”.

I received a number of emails under the general theme, “I don’t believe in a ‘personal God’, in the man with the long white beard…”. Well… neither do I. A few other emails stated that “religion has caused serious problems in our world”. Well… I really agree. (What came up for YOU when you saw the “G” word?)

So, what is this issue with one word that gets so many people so twitchy, gets so many of us misunderstanding each other? I’m at a loss to find one single word with so much baggage attached…

I believe the problem is that we conflate the notion of Divine, Essence, Sacred, All-There-Is, with the concept of “religion”. We find it hard to talk about one without referring to the other. (Which means the religionists have done their job well!) It’s hard to think about “God” without also thinking about the Crusades, the Inquisition, the oppression of women (actually, the oppression of just about everybody), burning people alive at the stake for the heresy of saying the Earth is round, slavery, suicide bombers…

But… before we throw religion out the window, please remember that there may be a few valuable babies floating around in that toxic stew. Rather than fearfully turning our backs, perhaps we should courageously disaggregate what is positive and then dump the rest.

In our upcoming Tele-Seminar, I will begin the process of teasing apart these two ideas – embracing the Spirit that the 21st Century needs, while releasing the negative histories and
dogmas that it does not. I will introduce the idea of a 21st Century Spiritual Society, one that can boldly address issues like suicide and drug addiction, rather than either ignoring the challenges or treating them like criminal matters, deserving of punishment.

Stay tuned…



PS: Mark your calendars: the date of the Tele-Seminar is 23 March. Notice coming out shortly!

PPS: Thanks to the “Praxien” who participated in the conference call on Thursday!

PPPS: This just in… “Ten Spiritually Transmitted Diseases”.  Very interesting… I will use this on 23 March… and add a few!

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Sharif Abdullah photo: Lisa Norton

All other photos by Sharif Abdullah, unless otherwise noted.

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To envision and implement a transformation of human societies, one radical enough to match the times, inclusive enough to heal humanity and all other beings, and visionary enough to propel us to the next step of human evolution.

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2 Responses to Friday, 4 March 2011

  1. Maja says:


    I am applauding from my living room here in New Mexico. You are wading into the really juicy stuff, those areanas that need some light shed into the darkness of fear. My experience of fear is that it is the equivalent of the schoolyard bully, and when we stop and turn and look it in the face, ask it what it wants, it loses power to compassion, and once common goals are established, I and my fear can work together.
    (I wish I could write a bit more about that but I am in a hurry!)

    The piece by Houston Smith is powerful. I give it two thumbs up. If I had more, I’d give it more. Your questions too, are thought provoking.

    You ask what would it be like to live in a spiritually awakened society?
    I have the wonderful experience of doing so. It is rich beyond measure. My job is to bring all I am to it, and to support others in doing so as well. Then we each take that (whatever our passion is) into the world and have the support of the community helping to hold our vision. We show up for each other. We offer what we have to each other for free and extend that into the greater community. ie: I enjoy meditation and prayer circles and writing, and I have co-created some circles that are open to anyone who wishes to participate. My neighbor has studied and enjoys tai chi and offers classes for free (donations appreciated) as well. We share community meals every couple of weeks and birthday and holiday gatherings. Kids are a part of it. I often marvel at raising children in such a way. No one has to show up, we all do it because we enjoy each other and love to celebrate together.
    The other night a plumbing pipe burst and my home was rapidly being flooded. A group from the community came together at 10 at night bringing shop vac and mops and together we had fun cleaning up the mess and then repairing damage over the next couple of days.
    Prior to this I lived in another community in the Santa Cruz mountains. I can no longer imagine living as a independent little entity doing everything on my own, or strictly with my family. United, we can do so much, and together it is such fun.

    Blessings to all this day,

  2. Maja says:

    I don’t know if anyone will read this but I feel a need to share a bit more about this community in which I live. Truly, we have created a sacred sanctuary where we come together to live, love and learn.

    We are an Interfaith group (non-denominational) and while we rarely speak of ‘religion’, all are committed to a deeply spiritual path and when we come together, because it is acknowledged, there is the grand sense of ‘Presense’ in the room. Before meals we gather in circle, hold hands, and give thanks. In this community we have a mix of Sikh, Muslim, Sufi, Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish, Shamanic, Mayer Baba adherents, Christian, Methodist, and those self-identified as simply ‘Spiritual’. We are business owners, teachers, students, shop keepers, tradesmen, realtors, gardeners, etc.

    Our dinners are generally potluck and both our prayer and our meditation circles are co-led by the group involved (this includes the larger community in which we live) so each week it is up to the leader to bring whatever holds meaning for them and to share that with the circle ~ so the experiences are rich and varied.

    The children are very much a part of the whole and are encouraged to critical thinking and asking questions and participating in group events. There are some great young ones here!

    Currently we are creating a large community space separate from our homes, in which to hold five rhythm dances, drum circles, workshops, house concerts, dances of Universal Peace, conferences, etc. There is room for whatever might want to come forth.

    It is wonderful to feel ones contributions are valued: to be able to have space for self, and yet also to be able to walk out your door and go to a neighbors house~ and there are plenty of options! I never feel alone here unless I choose it.

    Anyway, it works and I have never felt so much at home as I do here.
    I welcome any questions if there are any. lol.

    Sweet blessings,

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