Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out

Spiritual Politics: Changing the World from the Inside Out

by Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson
Ballantine, New York, 1993; paper, 478pages.

Many of those fascinated by the title of this book will have read other books with catchy titles and been disillusioned. Most, however, will feel that their time has been well spent with McLaughlin and Davidson, because Spiritual Politics clarifies why a mystic's spiritual pilgrimage should include a lifetime of appropriate ventures into political activism.

The reviewer is a world federalist and libertarian, and does not share the theological or political perspective of the authors. Davidson and McLaughlin, however, explain clearly why purifying one's intent through prayer and meditation is essential for healing our political process. They do not expect readers to share their political and theological views, but encourage us to adapt our own theology and politics in a prayerful blending of politics and spirituality.

Too many writers about political activism fail to appreciate that results achieved are dependent primarily upon methods used, And too few writers about meditation techniques also promote political activism.

The authors refer often to their own spiritual pilgrimage. Both were JFK enthusiasts in the sixties and now praise President Clinton. McLaughlin and Davidson met at Findhorn and later started a similar community in Massachusetts known as Sirius. They wrote Nan earlier book on intentional communities called Builders of the New Dawn. Earlier, Davidson had been a Peace Corps volunteer in India. Total assets invested with some type of social sensitivity grew from $40 billion in 1984 to $700 billion in 1992, partly because of his work as head of the Social Investment Forum. He also participated in activities at the United Nations as a representative of World Goodwill. McLaughlin has taught at American University and lectured on political psychology. In recent years they have been in Washington, D.C., with Sirius Educational Resources.

 So long as the political establishment encourages constituents to imagine themselves as powerless "to fight city hall," an abundance of political apathy is assured. Although organized religion has a reputation for glorifying the status quo, millions of individuals who cherish spiritual values have had faith that "we no longer have to be victims of powerful political forces we don't fully understand or control. What we do, and what we think, affects every other living being in the web of life" (28).

Those who have greater wealth, education, and freedom have responsibilities for solving problems that affect humanity, such as starvation. "People facing starvation today are not likely to worry about the effects of climate change tomorrow" (56).

As McLaughlin and Davidson note, "what is encouraged by the Ageless Wisdom tradition is to first purify our motives for wanting to help, and then to align our personal will with God's will, asking for the highest good to come from our efforts, realizing we may not consciously know the deeper lessons and karmic purposes being played out in a given situation" (393).

To heal the world, they contend, we must develop right relationships. "The principles of unity, cooperation, and serving the common good can be our guideposts along the high road of planetary wholeness.... As more and more individuals around the planet awaken the fire within their hearts, the positive, loving energy field around the planet is strengthened and together we build a new world" (421).

Spring 1995