When I think about activism I’m taken back to my own days in the 60’s when protest marches were common place. I remember the angry arms, fists raised in the air, and loud voices over megaphones blasting out about injustices.
When I think of the spiritual activism I think of Martin Luther King and his non-violent protests that brought out the masses and lobbied for transformation and civil rights reform. I also think of Mother Teresa, that little body of fierce compassion and conviction who swayed the conscience of the powerful to support her causes.
Spiritual activism is not about religion, or even about being religious. But it is about being willing to take a part in creating change – and to play that part with the spirit of compassion, love, a sense of the interconnectedness of all beings, and the determination to stand on conviction.
Buddhists hold sacred the tenets of compassion, mercy, altruism, and loving kindness, among others. According to some strains of Tibetan Buddhism, practitioners will meditate on Tara, a female deity, to develop these qualities. Believing that everyone can achieve enlightenment, Tibetan Buddhists claim that Tara can remove obstacles that get in the way of personal growth and the cultivation of activism.
Tara was said to be born from the tears of the Hindu Lord of Compassion, Avalokitesvara. He dedicated his existence to rescuing all humans from suffering. But eons ago it was a very bad age with people behaving terribly to one another. Just as he rescued one person, another would fall. He became frustrated and began banging his head against a wall from the futility of his efforts. Because he was blessed by the Buddha, instead of wounds or bruises, two large eyes emerged on the back of his head. From the eyes tears fell. From the tears emerged Green Tara and White Tara.
Green Tara pledged to help by removing obstacles from the path of humans so they could walk the path to enlightenment with greater ease. White Tara vowed to help humans by increasing their fortunes and extending their lives. Together they help Avalokitesvara making it easier for us humans to receive blessings and to achieve enlightenment.
These deities serve as models for us about the meaning of compassion and spiritual activism. They have the altruistic mindset of service, not for personal fame or aggrandizement, but because they care about our human condition. They want humans to live better lives so they in turn will become enlightened spiritual activists who work for the betterment of humanity. The Taras stay focused on the positive, on what they can do, continually helping us to overcome obstacles, especially our negativity, so we can envision a better world for all.
The Taras understand that all beings are interconnected. When one human achieves enlightenment and can live more in a spirit of compassion, then they have a positive influence on those they touch, raising the vibrations of people around them. As one of us becomes more compassionate and caring, then they demonstrate to others the power of compassion and the importance of standing up for your convictions.
Look at both Martin Luther King and Mother Theresa, two humans who strove for enlightenment, embraced compassion for their fellow beings, and pledged their lives to work towards their convictions. One human can inspire others and start a movement for peace, freedom and equality.
It’s also important to note that each Tara had their assigned tasks. They did not take on everything, like so many of us humans try to do. They chose selectively where to put their efforts rather than being all over the board. It’s important for us to also use wisdom and discernment when we select a cause to fight for. When we focus, we can apply 100% of our efforts and thus have a chance to make a difference. When we splinter and apply our efforts among multiple causes, which are all very important, we dilute our effort, and end up making minimal impact. This is an important truism for all of us to keep in mind.
Take time to reflect on the lessons from Green and White Tara. Become a spiritual activist; take a stand and make a difference. But come to your activism with an altruistic and compassionate heart. Remember to focus on the positive. Stand for what you are ‘for,’ not what you are ‘against,’ so your mindset can stay positive.
Always remember that we are all interconnected. What we are and what we do has an impact on those around us. Your bad mood can dampen the mood of others. When you are full of joy, it radiates to those around you lifting their moods. Finally, choose what you commit to with wisdom and discernment. Remember it is always better to under-commit and over-deliver than to over-commit than under-deliver.
If you, and I, can commit to these gems of wisdom, then we will have a chance to change the world – together!
This article was inspired by a blog posted in 2015 on http://fiercelove.wordpress.com