BECK index

Spiritual Awakening

by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book BEST FOR ALL: How We Can Save the World.
For information on ordering, please click here.

My philosophy of doing what is best for all is based on the mystical oneness of all life in the infinite God or Spirit. I believe that as individual souls we are all eternal and divine beings, and we are each responsible for the consequences of our actions. Death of the physical body is a temporary escape of the soul from life on Earth, but each entity goes on to other experiences. The spiritual law of karma is that every action by a spiritual being eventually returns to its source because souls are eternal and must live with the consequences of their actions forever. By this process we each learn how to be responsible creators. Groups such as nations are also responsible for their collective actions; but unlike individuals they have no escape in death, though they may change their forms. As human beings we are more responsible for the fate of the Earth than any other species because we are both more creative and more destructive. This increased awareness and creative ability give us the freedom to choose based on our ethical values. In my view our ethical decisions are the most important aspect of our behavior because they determine the future well being of all humanity and other forms of life on this planet. I suggest that we are at a critical stage in our spiritual evolution in which we must learn how to act in ways that are best for all. If humans continue to act in selfish ways as we have done through most of our history, we may come into such conflicts that could destroy ourselves and damage life on Earth.

All the great religions and philosophies have taught the golden rule to act toward others as we would like them to act toward us and the silver rule not to do to others what we would not want them to do to us. Thus we can love our neighbors as we love ourselves, and by doing so our immense social and political problems may be solved and healed. The freedom of democracy implies that every individual has the right and responsibility to choose what is best, and today nearly every nation in the world is either some form of a democracy or claims to respect such human rights. However, actions often do not live up to our ideals, and we need to be constantly vigilant and active to preserve these rights for ourselves and others. Some individuals may abuse the power they gain in government, but the people by using their democratic means are always responsible for holding them to account. We need to evaluate our own actions and those of others, especially those who are claiming to represent us. The basic ethics of not doing harm can guide us, and we must be wary of those who try to give reasons for using force and killing people. We need to realize that a bad means does not bring us to a good end, because for some people the consequence of the bad means is the end.

I believe that in this evolutionary crisis many more people will be awakening to these spiritual values and that by working together we can save our planet from destruction by ignorant and selfish people. The near future does look very challenging, and many sacrifices may have to be made in this process of awakening; but I believe that by our living example we can inspire others to join us in the loving ways that lead to justice and peace.

Most of the great religions have prophesied the coming of a divinely enlightened being who will lead humanity into a golden age of love. The Hindus believe that God incarnates in avatars as Vishnu and Shiva. The Buddhists have been looking to the coming of the Maitreya Buddha. The Jews have been expecting the Messiah who will establish the sovereignty of God on Earth. Christians believe that Jesus is this Messiah or Christ and will come again in the final days. Muslims look to the Mahdi to fulfill the teachings of the prophet Muhammad. I believe that all of these prophecies are coming true as each of us realizes that we are divine beings and act accordingly. God or the Spirit is within each of us. If anyone convinces you that it is only someone else outside of yourself, then you are not truly free. Following a master that is outside of oneself is more like slavery; but following the spiritual master inside ourselves is true freedom. Thus the ultimate enlightenment only comes when each person realizes inside oneself the divine directly. As more people come to this realization and practice it in their daily lives, then society will greatly improve. In my opinion those who claim they have the only truth in one particular religion are merely demonstrating their own intolerance and lack of true enlightenment, for God is in everyone. Those who love God love every person and all life on Earth.

We need to realize that people in different cultures use different terms and names for God or the divine or goodness. Even those who are agnostics or atheists usually believe in the betterment of humanity by our own actions. We can learn to respect the various beliefs that people have while we may evaluate the actions of each. Let us not judge persons but only their behavior. I do not believe that anyone is evil, though some may do evil actions in the sense that they have bad or harmful consequences. Thus we need to purify our hearts and open our minds so that we can love everyone and forgive those who repent for past misdeeds. We all make some mistakes, and we need to learn how to forgive ourselves as well. We know that we can change, and we need to allow others that opportunity as well.

In my view what we believe is not as important as what we do. If one respects all people and life on Earth and acts in loving ways for justice and peace, it does not matter what religion or lack or religion one has. So I am not prophesying or calling for a religious awakening but a spiritual awakening that will mobilize millions of people to dedicate themselves to bringing about peace and justice in every country. In my two-volume History of Peace I have written about many exemplars of peace and justice, both individuals and groups, and I have suggested that we can learn from them and find guidance in the ways of peace. The prophets of Israel told people to beat their swords into plowshares. Chinese sages such as Lao-zi, Confucius, Mo-zi, and Mencius taught the wisdom of solving problems without violence. The Buddha and his followers gave up worldly goods to pursue enlightenment and peace. So did Mahavira and the Jains.

Jesus and his disciples traveled and preached the way of love. Jesus was crucified for telling people not to pay taxes to the Roman empire, and he told his apostles not to accept any Roman money nor carry any with them. Thus the misunderstood saying, "Render unto Caesar" meant not to have anything to do with the Roman money system. Even when facing death, Jesus showed it is much more powerful spiritually to forgive and not use violence. Many early Christians sacrificed their lives rather than worship or fight for the Roman Emperor. After the Christian religion was corrupted by Constantine's exploiting it for military power, the Christian leaders that had been elected by their congregations often cooperated with state violence. Francesco of Assisi revived a more spiritual way by following the example of Jesus and his disciples, renouncing wealth in order to help the poor. He even traveled to Palestine to try to stop the violence of the crusades. In Islamic culture many Sufis also demonstrated the love of God by living simply and helping others. During the religious wars of the Protestant Reformation, Erasmus and pacifist Anabaptists and Mennonites showed there is a better way than fighting.

George Fox and William Penn practiced the way of friendship, were called Quakers, and founded the colony of Pennsylvania that flourished on a frontier without using armed forces. Abolitionists like William Lloyd Garrison took the teachings of Jesus seriously and practiced non-resistance, which means not fighting back with physical violence even when one is abused. Yet they had the courage to stand up against the evils of slavery, and abolition was accomplished, though by a foolish and bloody civil war. Women in the United States, Britain, and other countries all around the world worked for seventy years to gain the right to vote by using nonviolent but active efforts to reform society.

Mohandas Gandhi experimented with more massive nonviolent methods in South Africa and India to gain equal rights for all races, religions, and those pariahs of the caste system he called children of God. Hindus united with Muslims in a tremendous nonviolent struggle that eventually was successful in removing British imperialism from India. These nonviolent methods were taken up by Martin Luther King Jr. and others in the United States to protest actively against segregation and arouse a civil rights movement that gained important legislation. The peace movement that has challenged the genocidal dangers of nuclear weapons, the Vietnam War, the proxy wars in Central America, and the illegal US invasion of Iraq have awakened many to the need to change the policies of a violent national government. Thanks largely to the enlightened leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union was able to undergo a radical transformation to a more democratic commonwealth while allowing the nations that had been dominated by this superpower to become independent. This left the world with one superpower that has so far refused to renounce its genocidal weapons of mass destruction. Just as Gorbachev's restructuring (perestroika) and openness (glasnost) allowed a nonviolent revolution, so too enlightened leadership in the United States could lead the world to universal disarmament, peace, and democracy with justice.

Yet so far the United States has not lived up to the opportunity made possible by the end of the Cold War, but instead the plutocratic parties have sought to increase their domination of the world and have attacked remaining socialist nations such as Yugoslavia and Iraq. Yet in February 2003 millions of people marched for peace, and even the major press began to realize that a second superpower had emerged. They called it world public opinion; I call it the world peace movement. This is the movement that will save the world from the foolishness of violence by using nonviolent methods to awaken people and bring about universal disarmament and global democracy so that we can alleviate poverty, protect the environment, and establish justice, health care, and education everywhere in the world. This movement will require the dedication of millions of people working diligently to educate ourselves and others as to how we can reform our societies. This movement coalesces with a spiritual awakening because of the transcendent principles of love and justice that need to be applied on a massive scale. This movement does not depend on one or even a few great leaders, though such do and will emerge. Even when the forces of darkness kill such leaders, many more will take their places and continue the struggle. No one can stop this movement that is the goodness in all people working for the good of all people. The greedy, selfish, and ignorant may delay the process, but it is only a question of time before enough people will awaken and act boldly to save the planet.

Enlightened people need to expose the hypocrisy of those who claim to be religious and for life but support politicians that promote aggressive wars while neglecting the needs of the poor. If even half of those people who claim to be Christians would actually practice the teachings of Jesus, this society could be transformed in a short time. Why do Christians let themselves be led astray by wealthy evangelists who distract them with hatred and fear of homosexuals, attempts to make government intrude itself into the bodies of women in the name of life, and efforts to impose creationism in biology classes? In my view the natural selection of evolution helps explain the intelligent design of the Creator, because selection implies consciousness and free choosing. If people value life, why do they kill and eat mammals? Why do they support killing in wars and capital punishment? Did not Jesus teach repentance and forgiveness? Is it not hypocrisy to try to teach people that killing is wrong by killing people?

Souls are eternal and can adjust and find another opportunity if a tiny fetus is aborted. No one can kill a soul. The soul usually does not enter the body until birth with the first breath. A fetus is part of a woman's body and is unable to act as an independent organism until after birth. Why not support better birth control as well as abstinence so that unwanted pregnancies can be avoided? No one wants to have an abortion, but does government have the right to criminalize what women and their doctors may choose to do within their own bodies? Abortion may prevent that child from being born, but contraception and abstinence also prevent children from being born. In a time when many scientists believe that the human population is already surpassing the carrying capacity of the Earth, we need to plan intelligently how we can stabilize human population in order to prevent enormous misery for millions if we do not. Wise and compassionate family planning with good health care and education can greatly reduce the number of abortions in the world. Surely Jesus taught people to be peacemakers and not use the sword lest we perish. He urged people to help take care of the poor and warned that one cannot worship both God and money. He challenged a rich man to sell all his possessions, give the money to the poor, and follow him.

People can refuse to pay taxes to governments that promote war and give their excess income to the poor or charities or nonprofit organizations to further their values. These are the kinds of sacrifices that do not harm anyone but help many; even those who give will be much better off spiritually.

Those who understand spiritual principles need to reach out to people of various faiths and help educate them so that we can all work together for the peace and justice that Jesus and all the prophets teach. Gandhi's leadership has shown that Hindus and Muslims can practice nonviolence together to achieve major political reforms. Buddhists such as the Tibetan Dalai Lama and Thich Nhat Han have been tireless advocates of peace, and many Buddhists practice the way of compassion. Ultimately I believe that most people will come to recognize that we are all one in God or whatever one chooses to call the ultimate reality that has created all the universes and that we must learn how to live in friendship with all people and in harmony with all life on Earth.

Copyright © 2005 by Sanderson Beck

This chapter has been published in the book BEST FOR ALL: How We Can Save the World.
For information on ordering, please click here.

Global Emergency
Alleviating Poverty
Disarming Weapons of War
Creating Global Democracy
Reforming the US Constitution
Restoring Justice
Sustainable Economics
Freeing Communication
Spiritual Awakening
Nonviolent Strategies
Global Disarmament Treaty (first draft by Beck)
Constitution of the Federal Earth Democracy (first draft by Beck)
Constitution of the United States Revised (first draft by Beck)

BECK index