Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Spiritual Response to Natural Disasters and Social Injustice

I received the following question via private email, and I am posting my response to the blog:
How can the heart be peaceful when it is truly put to the test through encounters with natural disaster, or even worse, social injustice? When, if ever, would anger be justified, or would there be a positive outcome to a limited degree of controlled anger if one sees others being mistreated? I struggle to have a peaceful heart when put to the test.
It is clear to me that in examining human history from its beginning through to the present time, there probably has not been a minute in the entire history of the world where the following has not been occurring somewhere at sometime: war, tyranny, social injustice. Additionally, natural disasters resulting in death and suffering are commonplace throughout history. There is no reason to conclude that any of this will every cease.
At the same time, it is also true that the following has been occurring continually all over the world throughout all times and places: love of all kinds, between lovers, friends, neighbors, parents and children; expressions of beauty in creative and performance arts; and struggles for more humanity and justice in the face of all types of social injustice.
We recently returned from a visit with my niece and nephew and their twins who are approaching their two year old birthdays. What I always take away from encounters with such young children is their natural joy and lust for life, just for the sake of living. They jump up and down on the couch, they squeal at the top of their lungs, they run around the house in exuberance as expressions of the sheer thrill of living. All over the world throughout human history, there are always such children expressing this sheer joy of life. We should also never forget that, and try to remain in contact with that, despite all of our adult neuroses and foibles.
I am certain that as there will always be injustice, there will always be struggles against it, and there will never be a lack of choice as to which injustice to struggle against. One spiritual view about anger is that a test of one’s spiritual development is to see how often you get angry, that highly evolved spiritual beings rarely get angry. This does not mean that you don’t struggle against injustice, but that your energy and effort should be fueled by something deeper than anger that provides a greater perspective and capacity to endure the long, arduous and frustrating road involved in most such struggles. The more firmly a foundation of inner peace can be established, the more effective one can be in struggles against injustice or in assistance in response to natural disasters. It is especially when one is “put to the test” that it is important to maintain an inner core of equilibrium. Perhaps a modicum of “controlled anger” is a useful tool, but effectiveness is lost when we are controlled by our emotions rather than the other way around, when we can productively and appropriately express and channel our emotional energies. Becoming spiritually developed does not mean being emotionally unexpressive, rather it places appropriate emotional reactions and expressions within the context of a deeper perspective which is lacking if the spiritual grounding is not present.
Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Theresa are two good examples of spiritually-grounded social activists. We can place such people on pedestals and conclude that we as individuals could never reach such lofty states, but they never taught that their level of accomplishment was not attainable, but rather quite the contrary, that we all have the ability to function like they did. That should be our personal goal. The times of testing reveal how far we have developed. That is why I always encourage people to meditate regularly, because I believe that regular meditation provides the best avenue for the quickest route to lasting spiritual development and to being able to appropriately endure the various “tests” that life will inevitably provide.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” - Mahatma Gandhi


jenn said...

hi, i came across your blog today. very good stuff! thanks for posting. i put together a video about social injustices, if you're interested. check it out. thanks!

Steve Gold said...

Thank you jenn, for your comment and sharing your thoughtful and inspiring video. I encourage everyone to check out this video.
Om Shalom, Steve

Olga Lednichenko said...

Olga Lednichenko: I came across..WOW is the first one that came to my mind, when I read your blog

Olga Lednichenko

I am posting here: http://olgalednichenko.wordpress.com/

Anonymous said...

I found this site using [url=http://google.com]google.com[/url] And i want to thank you for your work. You have done really very good site. Great work, great site! Thank you!

Sorry for offtopic

Anonymous said...

IЎЇm delighted that I have noticed this weblog. Finally something not a junk, which we undergo extremely frequently. The web site is lovingly serviced and kept up to date. So it need to be, thanks for sharing this with us.
I’m nonetheless learning from you, but I’m enhancing myself. I actually love reading the whole lot that's written in your blog.Maintain the tales coming. I cherished it!
Very effectively written information. Will probably be beneficial to anyone who usess it, together with myself. Keep up the nice work – for sure i'll take a look at extra posts.
Definitely one of many challenges which people beginning a new on-line firm face is that of acquiring visitors to their net site.
Thanks for taking the time to debate this, I feel strongly about it and love studying extra on this topic. If doable, as you achieve expertise, would you thoughts updating your blog with additional information? This can be very helpful for me.

Steve Gold said...

Thank you for your kind comments. It seems difficult to get people to open up,contribute and engage in dialogue. But I will persist as long as it seems like I am supposed to. For now, the analytics I receive indicate there are many visitors to my site, even if there are only a few who post.

Quote of the Week 381 - Heaven

Heaven is all round,

Translated to sound.

--Michael Hedges



Announcing Publication of New Book, DIMENSIONS: Navigation the Spiritual Spectrum

I am pleased to announce the publication of my new book, DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum, now available at Amazon, in paperback print and Kindle versions. It is easily found by searching my name, or by searching the full title and subtitle. You can also click on the image of the book in the right hand column of this blog.

What a great way to start the New Year, cozying up to a fire, real or imagined, and reading a new spiritually inspiring book, sure to become a classic!

DIMENSIONS: Navigating the Spiritual Spectrum

Grounded in the traditions of Torah and Veda, Steven J. Gold takes us on an oceanic tour of the depth and breadth of spiritual consciousness. Sharing personal stories and insights into various traditional scriptures as examples, he urges us to adopt a spiritual worldview, to “ponder infinity, awake and arise,” to “find your inspiration and follow it.”

“The chapters…are records of what happens when Steve’s right mind, and heart, are given full freedom to wander where they wish. As discoveries and correlations are made, his well-trained left mind and sharp wit give his observations shape and form…” – Brother Shankara, Resident Minister, Vedanta Center of Atlanta

“Universal Ice Cream: Dive deep into Steve’s wonderful book to help find your favorite flavor on the Spiritual Spectrum.” – Rabbi Mitch Cohen, Spiritual Leader, Congregation Shalom B’Harim, Dahlonega, GA

“Steven J. Gold’s Dimensions is an exploration of spirituality from the inside out. If you are looking for a guide through the pathless land of truth, read this book.” – Rabbi Rami Shapiro, author of The World Wisdom Bible

Interfaith/Inter-Spiritual Contemplative Groups

Please check out the following, which is an ongoing activity that may be of interest: