I sat comfortably on a rock – covered in lichen. From my perch, I could look down the foothill at the city and the coastline. Though it was overcast, it was clear enough to see past the oil platforms to the islands that separate the channel from the Pacific. I sighed.
There’s a reason why the Vedanta society chose that location for their sanctuary. Flower blossoms, butterflies, and thick trees, could convince a person they’d stepped into another world.
Except we were there to talk about the world.
Epiphany isn’t just a Christian holiday.
This past Saturday I went to an interfaith retreat hosted by the Vedanta Society. This consisted of six panelists (representing the world’s most populous faiths as in my curriculum and devotional) responding to one question in the morning and one in the afternoon.
None of the panelists said anything surprising, because, well, I spent years studying these religions. The thing I was interested in was the approach each person took – which had nothing to do with the faiths involved and everything to do with the panelists.
“Work on yourself.”
“Most people don’t know enough about their own faith.”
“Spirituality takes commitment. It’s work.”
“Each person is on their own journey.”
“I question anyone whose [faith] excludes.”
“We need to eat together.”
“We need to travel.”
“This is hard.”
“Most people don’t know anyone different from themselves.”
What did surprise me were the questions people asked. Sometimes I forget how isolated I am – surrounded by theologically trained faith leaders, intentional seekers of truth, and those documenting and commenting on spiritual trends, it’s easy for me to forget other people don’t know these things.
It’s easy for me to think of my wonderful Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Sikh, Buddhist, Ba’hai, Wiccan, and Christian friends and value the beauty of their respective spiritualities. It’s easy for me to see their compassion on the ground, because I’ve been following their awesome initiatives for decades.
Others don’t have that.
What This Means for Me
Though I’ve said it before, it bears repeating: I am called to my compassion work. I am called to my writing and speaking to spread understanding.
More than ever I feel the need for this message of universality, compassion, and empathy. I feel the need to connect with you, your friends, your extended family, your neighbors, and every single person possible.
So what does this mean practically? I’m in the process of fine-tuning my work. Here’s what I see now:
Translating content from THRIVE and SIX DEGREES into online courses for anyone and everyone to access no matter their geography or connection to communities.
Submitting previously published blog posts to sites like the Huffington Post (that allow republished work) in order to spread the message.
Submitting new essays to various journals and sites on these topics.
Connecting with and sharing the energy/efforts of individuals and organizations doing parallel work.
Writing and publishing new fiction novels that focus on this content.
Yes. You read that last one right. I took a break from novels for probably the longest I’ve taken a break in years – and now I’m back.
I have two novel length projects that I’m working on alongside my courses. These novels will be different from anything I’ve written before because they are meant to introduce concepts from The Compassion Letter, SIX DEGREES, and more. If you’ve been following my blog, you’ve read some on one of the novels – THE CHANGELING TREE.
My vision for these novels has grown clearer as I’ve continued writing. The deeper I go into intentional writing, the more important it feels to have different ways of accessing the same content. I’ve chosen to pursue the courses and the novels because not only do I have better structures to support these projects, but also because the calling pushes. I feel it daily. I feel the need to give you easier ways to connect with this information I’ve been assembling. The easier you can access my message, the better.
The plan hasn’t changed. It just gets clearer.
What’s your plan? What do you think about mine? Leave a comment below!
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- Neither Selfish or Selfless – Only Loving! - April 30, 2018