ombining spirituality and activism may seem contradictory—and understandably so. While spirituality most often leads a person down a journey inward towards self-realization and peace, activism is often viewed as a dynamic role that pushes outward against any perceived obstacles at hand.
Harsh realities such as the destruction of the rainforest, crimes against humanity, and that something as seemingly straightforward as equality for all has yet to be achieved can be too much for many to take in and process, let alone feel as though they can have a significant impact on the outcome. Often, it may appear safer—and more comfortable—to flee from the perceived evils of the world and remain safe in a bubble of tranquility. And so, the general notion that “being spiritual” means perpetual positive thinking and avoidance of anything negative—and so, an abstaining from any serious political conversation—becomes the norm. But, frankly: that ain’t it.
In the words of spiritual author Marianne Williamson, “Spirituality and activism aren’t either/or: they’re both/and. Either without the other lacks the power to effect fundamental change.” And the absence of spiritually minded people from political discourse has indeed come at a cost.
World-renowned spiritual consciousness teacher Dr. Bernard Alvarez agrees with Williamson, insisting that even though it may seem burdensome to accept an active role in creating positive change, a spiritual person’s voice and action is absolutely imperative toward achieving a healthier world. Why is this so? “A spiritual activist is someone who works for the good of all,” states Dr. Bernard Alvarez, doctor of metaphysics, YouTube personality with more than 27 million video views, author, and global human rights activist.
Spirit Guides talked to Alvarez about why it’s important not to shy away from activism as a spiritually inclined person.
What is a spiritual activist?
A spiritual activist is someone who works for the good of all. The major difference between a spiritual and a regular activist is the mindset of working for something versus working against something (for example, March Against Monsanto, People Against Trump).
A spiritual activist works from the heart. It is the coming together of activism and spirituality without dogma, without religion, purely for the sake of goodness. It comes from the heart and not just the head, it is compassionate, it is positive, it is transformative, it is not angry. It means taking part in creating the change we want to see in the world within and without.
What nudged you in the direction of activism, rather than spiritualism on its own?
Quite honestly it was spirituality that nudged me in the direction of activism. The more I aligned with my higher self and my spiritual practice, the more I felt the urgency to create change in the world and to persevere for human rights and justice.
For me, it’s an inevitable part all of your spiritual awakening. I feel the more aligned we get with our higher selves, the more of a calling for social change and drive for social change comes to the surface. I believe it is a symptom of compassion. I feel we must honor the feeling of urgency when presented with a global injustice and act upon that in order to truly align with our higher being.
Some spiritual or enlightened people choose not to participate in activism for various reasons. Why do you think this is?
Sadly, it is true. There are many schools of thought when it comes to spirituality and self-empowerment that ignore the external and only focus on the internal. Some of the reasons we hear are often related to the law of attraction in that what we focus on we create. Many people are afraid or fearful of acknowledging injustice or human rights violations because they feel the law of attraction will bring more of that into their life, and this is just not true. If we truly understood the law of attraction or the power of intention correctly we would know that if we focus on the solution that is what we will be creating.
We must courageously face the injustice in our world from an objective stance and then proceeded in creating the solution within our mind and focus all of our energy on manifesting that solution in our world. Unfortunately, that also means sharing ugly truths about humanity, about politics, about religions, about bigotry, about racism, and things that make people feel uncomfortable—but we must get eyes on the information in order to bring the solution into focus.
Why is a spiritual person’s actions so important in our world today?
The number one reason is that a spiritual or enlightened person must be the example for others. By setting an example for others we can inspire our friends, our family, our peers to take action in the same way we have taken action. Also, being aware that our thoughts create our reality, in order to bring those thoughts into manifestation on the material plane we must take action.
There is also the energetic aspect and creating that energy ripple or butterfly effect; every action we take will return a similar action and we can amplify specific energy waves. Lastly, taking action takes courage and the more we take action the more comfortable we feel being courageous. The more courageous we are the more change we will create not only within ourselves but in the world around us.
What makes a spiritual person’s voice unique or different in terms of creating change?
For me, it has to do with the tone. I find that spiritual and enlightened people have a gentler tone, a more compassionate and less divisive tone. Words are powerful energy and in using the right tone and language we are generating a more unifying energy than that of an angry activist. Our voice is more inspiring, it is more energizing, and it is more empowering. This lends itself more to the type of change we want to create and world we are manifesting. If we want to create a more loving compassionate world, wouldn’t it behoove us to use compassionate and loving terminology, language, and tone?
What are some examples of being a spiritual activist others can put into practice?
Stop supporting “anti-anything.” To paraphrase Mother Teresa, “I will not go to your anti-war rally but let me know if you have a pro peace rally and I’ll be there.”
Listen to your heart. Take up an issue that is close to your heart. One that you can feel within your bones, in your soul, and act on that. Take an honest look inside and outside and see where you feel you are guided to do the highest good.
Do your best to be an example for others in the way that you speak, in the way that you talk, in what you eat, in the organizations that you support, in the corporation’s that you do or do not support, in the leaders that you may or may not support. Do your best to be the epitome of the definition of a compassionate sacred or spiritual activist.
And of course give yourself a break. You’re not going to change the world overnight. For that matter it may take generations to see the results of the change you are working for. As well, you’ll make mistakes, you’ll get frustrated, you’ll get angry—allow yourself to be human and be compassionate to yourself when you need it.
What are some examples of your own spiritual activism?
I have been a spiritual or sacred activist since the ‘80s and some of the main issues that I was involved in back then was Green Peace, marching for the planet, marching for ecology. Recently, I was a facilitator for Occupy Roanoke here in Virginia and our main focus was to remove corporate influence in our government by calling for an end to Citizens United. Currently I am the vice chairman of the Roanoke Diversity Center which promotes and advocates for LGBT equality in all areas of our lives including employment, housing, etc.
This past April I was happy to be a part of Democracy Spring in Washington DC where our focus was “one person one vote,” again calling to end Citizens United and corporate lobbying. It was a beautiful event that started with a gathering of several thousand of us doing a meditation to ground ourselves to feel the joy of the work we were about to do, and to be inspired by the energy of all the people in the protest. Right now my focus is on the Dakota Access Pipeline and the Standing Rock camp and bringing attention to the fact that the government is allowing petroleum companies to grab Indigenous land and run pipeline through sacred sites.
What are some examples of positive results that you have seen through yours or others’ spiritual activism?
I think the greatest example of positive results that I have seen is in inspiring others and seeing others take action like boycotting Walmart, voting third party, reducing fluoride intake, organizing their own events for peace and justice, closing their corporate bank accounts and moving their money to credit unions. I think most importantly is seeing people have the courage to actually speak up on an issue they may not have in the past.