White Paper Summaries

The following summaries may be used in group newsletters to stimulate interest in dialogue on inclusive social action, i.e., intentional action to stop specific violence in a manner that does not further divisiveness.


White Paper #1 Summary: Inclusive Social Action

In this time of growing instability and incivility, right action can be difficult to determine. Those of us committed to a spiritual path recognize that the work we do through meditation is essential in several ways. First, it helps us become centered and grounded so that we are able to hear the “still small voice” of Soul guidance. Second, it trains us to access and channel the energy of the One Life without distortion. Third, it provides us with a methodology for taking action on the inner planes, to focus energy for the common good, to transmute negative thoughtforms and cleanse our shared energy field of glamours and illusions. This action on the inner planes is absolutely critical, but is it enough?

Action on the inner planes needs to prepare us for, and motivate us towards, action in the outer world. The Tibetan has been highly critical of those who do not engage actively in confronting evil and destructive cleavages. “I tell you that your prayers and your wishes are unavailing when divorced from right and potent action.” [EXT:233] So how are we to oppose separatism and harmfulness in all its forms without in turn adding to existing divisiveness? Simply thinking kind thoughts and projecting loving energy is not enough and can actually be unhelpful since sending energy that can be transmuted into destructive force usually invites further and more intense conflict. Hence the necessity for being extremely intentional and mindful in the invocation of energy.

In the broadest sense, our spiritual mandate is to remember and live out the reality that we are all part of the One Life, interconnected and interdependent components of the life of the Soul. In other words, we are related to the rest of humanity, whether we agree with the philosophies or actions of others, or not. We are called on to evoke goodwill in order to engender right relations and end the heresy of separativeness.

But let us be clear. We are also called to “seal the door where evil dwells” rather than to send loving energy to that evil. We face the challenging task of denouncing hateful and harmful actions while administering “tough love” to the perpetrators. We cannot distance ourselves from those perpetrators because they are, in a very real sense, a part of us. But we can shield others from the effects of their thoughts and actions, and we can exercise our skill with directing energy in order to contain their disparagement and destruction so that they do no further damage.

For the full paper by the School for Esoteric Studies, go to Inclusive Social Action on the School’s website.


White Paper #2 Summary: Preparing for Inclusive Social Action

In this White Paper, we are concerned with how prepared we are to respond when harm is intended, when there is purposeful divisive rhetoric or intentional physical or emotional damage. To respond in a way that does not either exacerbate or excuse the harm being done requires a carefully cultivated self-discipline and mindfulness. Our actions must be grounded in compassion, not vengeance, if we are to be successful. So a first practice to develop is compassion, consciously feeling it and expressing it in small ways throughout the day until it becomes our first response in any setting. There are some habits that interfere with a compassionate response. One habit is that of responding to new or unfamiliar situations with fear rather than curiosity; another habit is the corrosive effect of criticism. Limiting harm effectively requires a compassionate intervention to preserve and strengthen our connectedness as part of the One Life. Our focus needs to be on engendering the common good, affirming the practical reality of Article 1 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

An important component of preparation for inclusive social action is developing balance between self-reflection and self-forgetfulness. Self-forgetfulness is being focused “outward” on our connection with all living beings as part of the One Soul. At the same time, we need to build in routines like the Evening Review where we examine our intentions and actions so that we can learn how best to contain and ultimately end harmful action. We also are best able to act appropriately in a timely manner if we take time to rehearse possible responses so that we expand our repertoire of possibilities.

We are moved into action more resolutely if we identify or recognize our unity with others. If the other is portrayed as a distant collective, separated from us, then people become desensitized to the harm being experienced. As well as a focus on vertical integration, we need to develop a gradated awareness of the inclusiveness of our horizontal relationships, beyond our immediate esoteric circles. Ultimately our aim should be to recognize each person and each group being violently targeted as “family,” as part of our most intimate connections. If we can practice labeling each group that we hear or read about as our relatives, as persons we care deeply about, we will avoid the indifference to harm being committed and avoid culpability through failure to act.

For the full paper by the School for Esoteric Studies, go to Inclusive Social Action on the School’s website.


White Paper #3 Summary: Implementing Inclusive Social Action

This White Paper examines the steps we can take to call out or push back against violence that is being perpetrated, intentionally or unintentionally. Inaction makes us complicit in the harm that is occurring. Standing against violence is an issue of both attitude and preparedness. We must shift to a perspective that asserts, with compassion, no tolerance for violence in any of its myriad forms. Our responsibility is to sensitize ourselves to the many forms of violence and ensure that our reflexive response to them is, “This is not ok.”

Our spiritual commitment is to express the goodwill that will bring about right relations and remind ourselves and others that we are indeed all part of the One Life. We are told that separativeness, or acting in a manner that belies that oneness, is the Great Heresy. So to identify harmful or separative actions, we can be alert for motivations and subsequent actions (or inactions) that display an indifference to the plight of others.

One of the challenging concept for many to accept is that there are individuals and groups that are truly evil � i.e., that are profoundly wicked or immoral, without a moral compass. Such individuals or groups may appear glamorous or persuasive, and so it may be difficult to recognize that their intentions are morally corrupt. Such persons will face the karmic consequences of their own actions eventually. Our job is to limit and reverse the damage that they seek to do, not to try to save them from themselves with loving energy that they can use to fuel their harmful actions.

We also need to address separative speech. Speech gives form to thought and makes our thoughts available to others. If we take seriously that “energy follows thought,” then the thoughts that we voice are what shape our universe and our shared experience. We have seen during the Trump presidency in the United States (as one example) the power of language to humiliate, to confuse, and (through repeated lies) to numb us to the reality of what is happening. While it can become exhausting to do so, it is vital to push back and sound the truth. Otherwise, the falsehoods remain and pile up until we can no longer sense what is ethical or moral.

At a more mundane end of the spectrum, we have the jokes and passing references that belittle and demean others. We need to not only be careful regarding the language we use, but we also need to be prepared to call out harmful language. Without preparation, a sexist or racist or ageist joke can catch us off guard. How we respond will depend both on the circumstances and on our particular style. There is no one “right” way to respond; rather, it is a matter of being ready to indicate clearly that what has been said is not o.k. with you.

Finally, we need to prepare to counter actions planned or taken. In the earlier versions of the Great Invocation, there is the phrase, “Construct a great defending wall.” The Tibetan explains that it is meant to express “Thus far and no further.” Limiting the impact of the evil expression and power of the aggressors can occur if disciples and people of goodwill actually play our proper energetic part. While energetic barriers are important, practical physical action is also critical. Our challenge is to find those “thus far and no further” expressions that protect potential victims while not inappropriately harming the perpetrators and accelerating violence. Sometimes the violence has already occurred and it is too late to intervene, or any intervention would be too dangerous. In that case, we can at least bear witness rather than turning away.

For the full paper by the School for Esoteric Studies, go to Inclusive Social Action on the School’s website.

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