So often, politics is a destroyer of spiritual direction. It’s such a dangerous topic that I rarely discuss it, except to identify it as something to avoid altogether. A recent event reminded me of the problems of politics and spirituality and I’d like to share it here.
A Bible College
As I’m interested in Rosicrucian and Gnostic studies, I sometimes get advertising targeting spiritual topics. The other day I saw an advertisement for a free lecture on Ancient Greek. I thought this might be interesting and I signed up, which added me to the college’s emailed newsletter.
Within a week I had several emails from the college, showcasing various courses they have to offer online. Overall the courses seemed interesting. They seemed to border the secular and theological, such as the Ancient Greek course.
Today I got a newsletter from the group – and it was over the top political. I try and cull such strong views out of my life, as I have no interest in mundane affairs like this. No longer was this a Bible college… it was now a college of political manipulation. The lead article was titled, “The January 6 Insurrection Hoax.” As I opened the article up I was hit with numerous scrambles for damage control of a political party. It was like reading party propaganda from the source.
It’s been so long since I’ve been exposed to the religious tie in with politics that it caught me off guard. I found it utterly repulsive. The energy radiated with animosity, resentment, fear, and manipulation.
I was tempted to engage the author in online debate, but that would be pointless and simply an exercise in ego. I would become like they are. Instead I chose to rise above it, and yet I wanted to point out some very serious problems with this line of thinking.
Wrong on Many Levels
Politics and religion are not good together. Politics rests on the idea of limitation. There is a limited amount of money, a limited amount of resources, a limited amount of opportunities. Those limitations build anxiety. The mundane mind worries that if something isn’t done we’ll loose power, rights, or even the environment.
Unlike the political mind, the spiritual mindset has no limitation. It believes in miracles, powers beyond the physical and manifestation of will/God. Jesus didn’t worry about 5,000 people showing up needing to be fed. His disciples did, but he didn’t. He made a miracle in order to feed everyone.
When you take a belief in limitation and marry it to a belief in unlimited resources, you end up with a psychotic resonance. At one and the same time the believer is pulled in equal opposite form. “We must keep these people out, they’re taking our jobs,” is shouted by the same person who claims to believe, “Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever and God says he’ll meet all my needs.”
Where is Your God? (Fear nothing)
Many years ago I attended a religious science church called Agape. It was pastored by Michael Bernard Beckwith and he had a slogan that went like this: Fear is “False Evidence Appearing Real.”
The Bible has only one injunction on fear… to Fear god… I’m not ok with that, but I am ok with the idea of not fearing. We can certainly see that the Bible doesn’t want a Christian theologian to fear immigrants, muslims, the satanic temple, lack of prayer in school, abortion, or any other mundane thing.
Just so we’re clear, I’m not only picking on conservatives… Fear of environmental collapse, loss of health coverage, unemployment and crime, these are also unwanted fears.
I’m speaking to Christians, as this Bible college was putting out all this fear. Fear of another political party. Fear of voter tampering and so on. But why are they so scared of things so mundane?
I can understand why a un-spiritual, non-religious, person might be afraid, but why should a religious person be afraid? Their own faith says that God will meet all their needs. It says that God makes all things happen in the way it wants.
In other words – turn it over to God and work on your own spiritual journey. There’s no reason to be afraid. Someone could take your life, and for the Christian that’s simply a doorway to heaven.
Where is Your Teachings? (Love others)
The message I got from that Bible college’s website was entirely political. They pushed not only fear but anger.
One lesson I learned from my Buddhist path is that Anger and Love are opposite emotions. You can not have the two running at the same time. I suppose some Christians believe they can, as for them their god is an “angry god.” I’m not talking about the anger towards a child doing something that might hurt it (protective concern), but the anger that is fueled by hatred.
Anger at people who are gay, other faiths, too liberal, or not enough… that anger and intolerance opposes love.
When Jesus says, “If someone steals your cloak, give them also your shirt,” he’s teaching non attachment.
When Jesus says, “If someone hits you on the right cheek, turn your left to them as well,” he’s teaching humility.
When Jesus says, “Love your enemies and pray for those that despitefully use you,” he’s teaching the depth of love.
Jesus gets even more detailed when he clarifies, “…’when I was hungry you fed me, when I was thirsty you gave me drink, when I was a stranger you invited me in, when I was in prison you visited me and when I was sick you ministered unto me…’ Lord they said, ‘when were you this way that we did these things?’ ‘When you do it to the least of these, you do it unto me.'”
Those passages are how to relate to others. When it come to how to relate to yourself he gets harsher.
Jesus taught that you shouldn’t focus on, “the speck in your brother’s eye when there’s a mote in your own.”
Jesus taught about taxes, “‘who’s head is on the coin?’ ‘Ceasar’s,’ they said. ‘Then give to Ceasar what is his and give to God what is God’s,'” he taught about letting go of attachment to wealth.
Jesus taught about giving in poverty when the widow, “gave all she had,” and it was greater than the large sums given by the rich.
Jesus taught about how we should think about our needs, “And so I tell you not to worry about the food you need to stay alive or about the clothes you need for your body. Life is much more important than food, and the body much more important than clothes,” explaining we shouldn’t care about the riches for ourselves.
To sum it up, we should give to others, but tighten the belt on our own needs.
Building a Kingdom?
There seems to be a misunderstanding in religious circles. They feel that their god needs them to build out elaborate kingdoms of wealth, global power and control. They require specific people appointed as judges, in order to outlaw certain morality issues. They require certain regimens brought back to school, through public decree. All of this, they say is part of preparing God’s Kingdom…
The only problem with this, is that no religion represented in these actions, has any such decree.
Christianity has the opposite decree. When asked if he was a King, Jesus responded to Pilot by saying, “if I were a ruler my disciples would have fought my arrest. My Kingdom is not of this world.” Not of this world, how much clearer does it need to be?
If the Kingdom of God is not “of this world,” then what is with all the dirty politics? What usefulness will it bring?
Other Faiths & Politics
This complaint of mine isn’t relegated to only Christians and politics. Any political side, and any spiritual group thinking their needs will be met through that political group, will be sorely disappointed. Politics is not at all a tool of spiritual benefit. You may be able to use a politician to help save some people, or raise money for a catastrophe… that’s great. But the moment you connect your faith to the political goal, you have corrupted both.
Remember the words of the Tao Te Ching, “The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao, the Name that can be Named is not the Eternal Name.” Trying to communicate about God in words is damaging enough. The message distorts and becomes personal bias. Consider how much more distorted the message gets when we involve something as dirty as politics!
Why is politics so bad? Because a politician is out for their own needs. They hook to demographics in order to garner votes. While they meet your need in one regard, they also slime their way into the hearts of other people you wouldn’t feel comfortable around. Not every politician is like this, but many are. Even the “I’m not a carrier politician,” politician, is like this. Especially them. Look at who aligns to them. Do you see angry mobs aligning with them? Politicians stoke the fires, split up the demographics and capture those votes they need to win.
Our spiritual goal is to elevate our own nature. We must focus on the positive. This often requires us to IGNORE what politicians are telling us, as they tend to spread False Evidence Appearing as Real (FEAR.)
“But there’s a problem we need to address,” some will say. Yes, there will always be a problem to fight, and if you stop your spiritual path to get involved in politics for every problem, you’ll never complete your spiritual goal.
It’s really that simple… are you looking to grow your spiritual nature, or are you looking to grow the mundane nature? True it is that we must care for our bodies, and our families and loved ones… yet there is a delicate balance, when crossed, causes our focus to shift downward.
I’ll end with a story that my old Lama once told me:
Once Arjuna met Krishna on a road. Recognizing him at once as the Lord he dedicated his life to following him. He said to Krishna, “I will never leave you.” “Becareful of such a promise,” chided Krishna. Arjuna walked with Krishna a ways, and then noticed some smoke on the horizon. “What’s that,” he muttered. Leaving Krishna, he wondered to the smoke and found a village on fire. He rushed to the aid of the villagers. They worked all day to put out the fire and then he rested that night in the village. By morning it began to rain, and floods came. Arjuna worked the rest of the week building barricades and helping fight the deluge. Then came robbers and marauders. Years passed. Arjuna was a member of the village, had taken a wife and had many children. Now an old man, he heard a knock on his door and opened it. At once he saw Lord Krishna. In that moment he recognized his folly and snapped back to the road. Like a dream Arjuna was brought to the reality of how easy it is to lose the path, and often for the best of intentions.