I'm calling for an abstract, relational death. A death that has far reaching consequences. A death that entails liberation from centralized power belonging to one person.
In the journey to obtain spiritual enlightenment so many of us have intentionally or unintentionally forsaken our critical thinking and personal agency to follow a charismatic spiritual/religious leader. While most of us are familiar with the extreme version of this phenomenon in cults, we overlook the more ubiquitous ways in which we sacrifice ourselves for a favored spiritual practitioner. For example, perhaps we make excuses, when we learn of ways in which our beloved spiritual teachers and leaders belittle and harass people, even when we're the subject of their rage. Or maybe we suppress dissenting views within ourselves and others because there's an established school of thought that's gone virtually unquestioned.
We must come to terms with the great power and responsibility of organizing around spiritual/religious beliefs. Spiritual practitioners (particularly those who hold a public platform) are not just working with the divine. We are working with vulnerable individuals who are sharing their most personal needs, experiences, and concerns in relation to all that is holy. Consequently, they are placing a lot of trust, faith, and goodwill in us to enact services and/or rites in an ethical, compassionate manner. If we are not in a constant process of checking ourselves, our egos, our biases, our insecurities, our selfishness, our entitlement, or our need to be seen as important we can easily abuse our power and harm others in the process.
So since I'm calling for the symbolic death of an all-knowing guru. I'm also calling for rebirth. A fluid state of being in which people regardless of our spiritual/religious ideologies work interdependently with the divine and each other. Where we can still be our full selves without pressure or hubris. A state of fellowship where Do No Harm guides every breath, word, and deed. This proposition is not going to be rigid or consistent, because we all have a stake in it. But it should live, breathe, and develop as we do.
So, in closing, spiritual/religious practice is an honorable craft. Spiritual practitioners don't have to be perfect. But, we sure as hell, better not be remiss about our responsibilities or the impact that we have on others.
Photo by Daria Shevtsova on Unsplash