How is The Call (GSC) different from other appeals for global peace and co-operation?
The Call seems vague and idealistic. Don’t the times call for action?
The Call is different from most other appeals in that it points to a mature spirituality as the necessary precondition for real peace and cooperation. It articulates the basic principles of such a spiritual orientation and points to the social implications that follow from them.
Specifically, it calls for a spirituality that is both transformational and trans-traditional. By transformational we mean a spirituality that is not just a set of beliefs but also one that provides sacred experiences that open the heart and expand the mind, thereby enlarging the sense of “I” and “we” to include all of creation. By trans-traditionalwe mean capable of transcending the specific forms that give expression to spirituality, while also embracing and honoring each of those forms. Trans-traditionality recognizes the Ultimate Reality that is beyond all traditions and institutions, but it also recognizes the enduring value of those traditions and institutions in the lives of individuals. It calls for including and integrating all all religious, spiritual and secular practicesthat can help guide people to a better life.
One of our main political problems is that we focus on trying to remedy specific “issues of the day” without having a long-term vision of where we want to go or a perspective that integrates all of the seemingly conflicting matters of concern.
The Call points to a vital element that has been missing from discussions of our social and political challenges: the inner dimension. Our policies and actions are normally outer-directed. But unless we improve the quality of individual minds and hearts, which are now operating far below their potential for wisdom, creativity and compassion, many of our decisions are doomed to partial success.
Furthermore, to act without knowing who we are and how our lives connect to one another and the cosmos is to put the proverbial cart in front of the horse. We need to privately and publicly explore who we are and who the “other” is in a more profound way than we now do. The Call gives us a launching pad for that exploration and for creative action based on what we discover.
How is “trans-traditional” spirituality different from the interfaith movement?
Sometimes, it seems like the world is going mad and falling apart. Does the call address the huge issues that confront us?
To its credit, the interfaith movement has done a great deal to promote religious tolerance and understanding. Those who participate in interfaith activities work learn to tolerate one another’s religions, faiths, beliefs and attitudes, as they are all considered equal in a conventional sense.
Trans-traditional Spirituality shares many of the goals and aspirations of the interfaith movement but is different in three major ways. First, it focuses on individual spirituality (and, by extension, its impact on society), whereas interfaith events tend to feature dialogue among leaders of organized faith traditions. Second, trans-traditionality focuses on inner experience, not just a comparison of doctrines and rituals. Third, it emphasizes the transformation of consciousness as a prerequisite for proper moral and ethical behavior. The “Golden Rule” [treat others as you would like them to treat you], is the rallying cry of the interfaith movement, and it is certainly desirable and necessary. But the big unanswered questions are “How do we walk our talk?” or “How do we bridge the gap between the principle and the real." Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists etc. are not of one mind, even within their own organizations, and we frequently witness outbreaks of conflict even among people who agree in principle. For those reasons, the individual hearts and minds that contribute to collective problems need to be transformed through effective spiritual methodologies.
Trans Traditional Spirituality seeks to go beyond merely tolerating one another’s differences. It seeks a deeper connection through the apprehension of the ultimate unity that underlies those differences. Without that transcendent, unifying awareness, interfaith activities cannot address the elephant in the room: the unspoken belief by many that, while they tolerate those of different faiths, they privately believe that theirs is the one true way. Trans-traditionality recognizes that every tradition is capable of bringing individuals to the highest levels of spiritual development. It calls for spiritual leaders to incorporate all elements that work to bring about that growth, wherever they may be found. That means not only understanding other paths, but actually learning from them in reaching for, the highest development of both inner life and outer life.
Trans-traditionality seeks to identify spiritual and secular practices that lead to higher stages of personal development and realization. It recognizes the vast differences among religious traditions, and honors them as expressions of common underlying principles revealed by the great wisdom teachers, especially in the mystical branches of each religion. In short it recognizes spiritual diversity and spiritual unity as equal parts of a single whole.
For example, most adherents of major western (Abrahamic) religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam (in historical order) – follow devotional paths, which are driven by the emotional dynamics of having a personal relationship with an external, (super) human-like God. Followers commonly pray and talk to God and may have transformative experiences. This kind of religious practice and experience has been adopted not only by adherents of the Abrahamic religions, but also by others, as for instance by practitioners of Bhakti Yoga and Sufism. Trans-traditional spirituality recognizes that these are valuable and recognized practices on the spiritual path, but not the only ones. Some traditions (e.g. many sects of Buddhism and Hinduism) do not require a personalized, external God, and others emphasize non-devotional practices, such as study and contemplation.
Who developed the Call and Why?
The world seems to be “falling apart” because we tend to see ourselves as separate, and often in competition with each other. This sense of separation can often become alienation, wherein we feel cut off from each other, from nature, from the Divine and even from ourselves. When we act from this level of awareness, it can indeed be a form of madness.
The Call points out that the goodwill and cooperation needed to address our global challenges can only come from a new way of being that reflects the reality of our essential oneness and expands our sense of “I” and “We.” It presents a set of fundamental principles for this new way of being, based on the world’s great wisdom traditions and spiritual teachers. These principles can serve as a guide to individual and collective transformation, leading to a greater sense of unity and interconnection.
Isn’t it enough to do my spiritual practice and try to be good person?
In 2004, while witnessing the depth of ethnocentric polarization in the world and frustration around the election in America, a team of spiritual leaders & teachers from the US and Canada came together to address the question: What, if anything, does spirituality have to contribute to the wider political conversation? Our stated purpose was: To give voice and life to an inspiring new vision of the role of trans-traditional spirituality in society in a way that informs politics and governance and creates a compassionate and secure world.
After nearly two years of dialogue, the team produced a document that represents that new vision: The Call to Global Spiritual Citizenship. We believe that the Call can serve as an inspiring groundwork for people on a variety of spiritual paths, and who have different political leanings, to come together and co-create solutions to the great issues of our day.
We invite you to read The Call and ask yourself if the principles it annunciates describe a world and a future that I would like to be a part of. If you find that the Call resonates with what you feel is important, then please sign it and consider getting involved in actions that give life to this vision.
The members of the design team are listed in "who we are ."
Shouldn’t Church and State be separate?
It is indeed vital for each of us to work on our inner lives and behave with kindness and love as we interact with others. Many spiritual people have been content to do just that, and the world is better for it. But in our times, it does not seem to be enough. We also need pragmatic, innovative action to address collective challenges.
Strong faith and high moral and ethical standards are essential as far as they go. But our daunting global problems require a high level of integration as well as global cooperation, and that is unlikely to occur without global consciousness. At present, most of the conventional religions are not only failing in the task of elevating and broadening consciousness, but some of them contribute to worldwide conflict by promoting extremism or a narrow, our-way-is-the-best-way mentality.
The Call to Global Spiritual Citizenship calls on each person to not stop at having faith, but to develop a personal experience of and relationship to the Ultimate Reality that all religions point to. That direct encounter with the Sacred can provide a foundation for a healthy spirituality that reaches beyond the constraints of narrow beliefs that keep those who are different at arms length – or places them in the line of fire. Living in the awareness that arises from knowing the unity of all things, we can better address the challenges before us with sincere cooperation and creativity.
I’m just an ordinary person. How much good can I do?
The separation of Church and State historically comes from the founding of democracies at a time when religious leaders could unilaterally declare what was truth and what was not. Western democracies and others have tried to institutionalize the importance of both the religious and secular perspectives, while keeping them in separate domains. We hope to integrate them in a way that threatens neither and enhances both.
We recognize that while church and state must be kept apart operationally, it is impossible to separate spiritual perspectives and values from political decisions. Nor is it necessary or desirable. The Call points to that which is universal about spirituality, not sectarian: the common ground of being that unites, as opposed to belief systems that separate. A body of evidence suggests that direct experience of that common ground can erase artificial divisions among people who are different from one another in their religious beliefs and practices, revealing the oneness upon which we can build solutions for the common good.
Although it can be useful to make distinctions among human beings and between human beings and nature, it can also be destructive. At a time when we all recognize that we live in an interconnected universe, need to be able to honor those distinctions and at the same time integrate that knowledge into abroader, deeper, unifying vision of what is possible.
What are you going to do with these signatures?
"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." Margaret Meade
Some of the most influential movements, businesses and social enterprises have had their origins in the heart of one ordinary person – think of Gandhi or Martin Luther King, who were ordinary before they became extraordinary. And two or ten or a hundred ordinary people united for a common purpose multiplies that power geometrically. We hope that the Call will bring people together in small or large units to dream up spirit-based projects that can impact communities, countries and the planet as a whole. The Forge Institute is committed to helping people do that, either independently or through Forge-sponsored programs.
Everyone shares both a hunger and a need for meaning, quality and value in life. No matter how much wealth, power, information or technological capability each of us has, we need to make wise decisions that enhance the quality of life on our precious planet.
The GSC Call is intended to empower every individual. It offers a set of principles, based on the age-old spiritual traditions of the planet, that point us to greater unity, compassion and awareness. We can use these principles to guide our individual lives and to make decisions concerning our collective lives.
Once we gather a large number of signatures, we will publicize the figure to demonstrate that the principles in the Call are widely held. We will inform the media, and we will contact leaders in politics, business and various social interest groups to put pressure on them to create a worldcentric order in which each individual is able to thrive in every aspect of life.
Also, since our hope is to generate action based on universal spiritual principles, we will stay in touch with people who are interested in specific areas of concern, such as global warming, elective politics or poverty. We will inform them of events, programs and initiatives they might want to get involved with, and if they request we will connect them with others who share their concerns. We will be setting up local salons, seminars, conferences and online conversations about various issues, all based on using the Call as a starting point for creative action.
One thing we will not do is sell the e-mail addresses or give them away to other organizations. Signing the Call is not an invitation to be spammed. Also, signatories to the Call will hear from the Forge Institute only for reasons they pre-approve.