Feb 23 2018

Spirituality, Poetry, and the Florida Shootings

Published by at 9:28 am under Poetry Chaikhana Misc.

I have intentionally waited to share any new poetry following the terrible mass shooting in Florida. I wanted to give everyone time to recover from the shock (though, sadly, these experiences have become so frequent in the US that they are a little less shocking each time they happen), and to allow your thoughts and responses to this latest massacre to take shape.

I can’t ignore horrifying events like the Florida shooting. I feel the need to address them directly in these emails and blog posts. If don’t, it feels strangely disconnected, as if I am pretending that everything is just fine.

In moments like this, I am not a fan of the “all is light” school of spirituality. While that is definitely a foundational truth — all of existence is an expression of the universal light, and this can be witnessed directly — there is a tendency to use these ideas superficially as a way to dismiss our discomforts and to not engage with our lives.

I believe that spirituality, and art, for that matter, must directly address the whole of human experience, including the horrifying and the traumatic, in order to be fit food for the spirit. Just as much as we need our eyes turned toward the stars, we need our feet on the ground, with our hands reaching out to help. We are not meant to float off to heaven. We are meant to bridge heaven and earth within ourselves. Perceptions and beliefs and the conscience want expression through us, through our lives, our words, our actions.

It is not fulfilling to turn to our spirituality or religion as a place to get away and get godly, or to get another “hit of bliss.” Real spirituality is about truth, reality, life. It encompasses everything, helping us to encounter life with a fullness of awareness and a true sense of who we really are and what we are capable of. Real spirituality is not about escape, it is about being present. It teaches us to drop our comfortable illusions and see clearly. It invites us to open our minds and our hearts. It challenges us to be the full beings we are, not the limited survivors we imagine ourselves to be.

And, when society is not embodying its highest ideals, real spirituality demands that we embody our own divine nature even more brightly, knowing that through interaction, communication, and the resonance of one’s being, society must respond and integrate each of us within the whole. What else is spirituality but finding that divine spark within ourselves, recognizing the same spark in everyone else, and then living by that truth courageously?

2 responses so far

2 Responses to “Spirituality, Poetry, and the Florida Shootings”

  1. christineon 28 Feb 2018 at 3:33 pm

    Hi Ivan, Wonderful post. I meant to leave a comment when you first posted it, then it just slipped by me…

    It is hard to know what to say after yet *another* mass shooting at school (or anywhere for that matter). I too cannot ignore these events, or pretend everything is fine, and yet, I have gotten the impression from some in the “non-dual community” that it is somehow not “appropriate” to speak out, or speak about the shadow side of humanity, (as I did and hits went down by 1/2) because in “non-duality” nothing exists! The world does not exist, the person doesn’t exist, etc., etc., which seems to me to be an unhealthy detachment

    I agree with you that *all* existence is an expression of “universal light”, everything is a modulation or vibration of Infinite Being, and we can’t separate out the light from the dark, but must embrace the totality of experience, as you say, otherwise we are just hiding behind forms of “spirituality”, dogma and doctrine.

    You wrote a post several years ago called – “The Good Darkness”, then I wrote one called “The Good Dark” based on your post 🙂 It’s something we all need to face and embrace within our selves – the shadow side…

    Blessings to you…

  2. Tim Colmanon 04 Mar 2018 at 6:30 am

    Non dualists who are not engaged in nonviolence and protest are not serious about their spiritual work.

    We are here on this Earth to stop the wars on fellow Americans – and to work with our own aggressions small and large, meeting ourselves with love.

    But my teachers are King Jr. and Gandhi. So help organize for March 24th marches that kids are leading for gun control and be persistent after that.

    We live in a time of undeclared war against Americans. It is easy to sit on yur pillow and not engage. It is also dishonest.

    We have a wave breaking this time and engaging helps it grow nonviolence every day up to the march. Call your politicians as if they worked for you and not gun corporations who have hijacked the NRA.


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