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Spiritual Activism

I have always felt like an activist. And I have always struggled to understand myself as an activist given the limitations I live with due to illness. When one’s life routinely contracts to a series of simple tasks like keep yourself clean, keep yourself fed and get to the end of the day with some measure of peace and dignity intact (sometimes it contracts so much that can’t do all three), it can be difficult to imagine how one is doing much to make the world a better place.

I believe there is a form of “weak resistance” – activism played out in the everyday reality of living in a body that is marginalized and weakened (either physiologically or politically). This form of activism is understanding the personal as political, as the very notion of living honestly with an illness and all of its accompanying vulnerabilities and difficulties (for example), as a subversive act.

I also wonder a great deal about spiritual activism. Intuitively, I know what it is and practice it. This morning, I was guided to pound out a definition for myself. I don’t know if you benefit from articulating things – seeing them in print and reading then back to yourself, but I do. So here it is …

Spiritual Activism
A vigorous campaign to affect social, political, economic and/or cultural change via means of personal transformational practices that:

  • confront and dismantle patterns of separation, shame, stigma, oppression, greed, aggression, hierarchy and power
    nurture patterns of peace, inclusivity, interconnectedness, authenticity, wholeness, the honouring of all life and well-being for all (human and non-human, the planet and the cosmos**)
  • accept and support the limitations and capabilities (and therefore the most authentic role) of everybody and every body working as an activist
  • recognize the term “spiritual” in activism as the exercise of creative, visionary and imaginative tools (which can include but are by no means limited to conventionally accepted spiritual tools such as prayer, meditation and contemplation) to connect with and transform human consciousness on a collective and sustainable level
  • guide the formation, maintenance and activity of community and citizenship that align with the above values

What do you think and feel? Does this definition resonate with you? Have I skipped anything vital? How do you practice your activism?

** amendment made by suggestion from Dana. see the comments below for more details. Thank you, Dana!

In gratitude:

photo credit: Rusty Russ Lilies Montage via photopin (license)

Published inArticles & Essays


  1. Dana E Cummings Dana E Cummings

    This definition of Spiritual Activism resonates deeply with me as speaking to inner action and outer action in support of Wholeness, without limitations regarding intellectual/physical ‘abilities.’ In reading and rereading it, the words move me at different levels of being.

    My one suggestion addition I offer below:
    nurture patterns of peace, inclusivity, interconnectedness, authenticity, wholeness, the honouring of all life and well-being for all (human, non-human, the planet and the Cosmos).
    The addition of “the planet and the Cosmos” specifies and broadens the perception of ‘life’ and our responsibility to it.

    Grateful for your heart, mind and spirit

    • Arria Deepwater Arria Deepwater

      I really like the addition you suggested , Dana– in fact I feel surprised in re-reading it, that I hadn’t at least included a reference to the planet – great catch! thank you … will amend it now.

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