The second part of nurturing holistically is how to love holistically. Here are some specific requests or things we could do that in my opinion would help us nurture each other and ourselves holistically.
We need to start by seeing mind, body, spirit and soul as one entity. We need to understand that when one suffers, they all suffer. When one is nurtured they all are nurtured. We need to make sure our decisions reflect that. When eating food, we need to not only ask how is this going to effect me nutritionally, but also how is it going to effect me emotionally, spiritually, and psychologically? The same goes for the intake of the mind. Be it our own education or watching TV, we must ask how is this going to effect my body, spirit, and soul? When buying consumer goods we must ask ourselves what is the real cost of that product to ourselves, the people that made it, and the environment. Any action we take we must ask ourselves how is this going to effect the habitat in which we live, the habitat of others, and the habitat of future generations. Whether soaring in the heights of the spiritual or delving into the depths of the soul they both affect the mind and body. Make sure to keep them equal in worth and free from compartmentalization.
The next request would be to start viewing justice as making sure that all environments are primed for meeting the needs of all who live on this earth. It is commonly thought that justice is about right or wrong and handing out punishment to those we think deserve it. Some even think that it is about vindication. In contrast, justice is about fairness and protecting life. How do we do this?
First we start by voluntarily sharing our resources. From time to money to knowledge to possessions to talent to whatever resources you have, start sharing them freely with others. No strings attached. Remember that it is all voluntary. It can never be forced upon others or ourselves. A couple great examples of this today are cooperatives and the Linux community. All around the world people are growing and sharing their own food. Cooperatives are building a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood and the compassion to help each other. The Linux community strives to provide free software and operating systems to everyone. All software is open to programming changes. These two examples are the kind of voluntarily sharing of resources I would like to see in all aspects of our lives. A fuller manifestation of this point is for us to imagine a future where a gardener gets up to tend to all the gardens and lawns in the community. She is not paid. She does it for the shear fulfillment it gives her. Her needs are well taken care of by others that voluntarily share their resources and strengths, be it a techie the makes laptops, or a baker that bakes bread, or carpenter that builds her a house, a seamstress that makes her clothes and so on and so forth. It seems like utopia, but it is completely doable.
Second, we need to start cooperating with each other. It has been said that God helps those that help themselves, thus creating the mindset of competition. It is my belief that God helps us when we help each other. We need to change our outlook of only helping ourselves to get ahead and realize the only way to get ahead is to help others. The measure of any individual, society, or the world is how well we take care of the less fortunate. This is a different message than the message of domination. Those in power will not take to kindly to it. They will try to play the fear card to keep their power intact. They might even use force to impose their will. Just realize this, resist non-violently, and continue to spread the message of cooperation. As the late Howard Zinn said, “…their power depends on the obedience of the people below them…” If we stop obeying, then they loose their power.
Last, we need a sense of enough. This one is two-fold. First is the mindset that there is enough. This world is abundant and there is enough for all to share. Period. No one should have to go without having enough. It is up to us that have more than enough to share with those that don’t have enough. 12 percent of the world’s population uses 60 percent of the world’s resources. This inequality needs to end. Everyone can have enough, as Biblical scholar, Marcus Borg puts it, “…not as the result of charity but as the product of justice.” We need to make charity less necessary by have a just system in place. We can still have the rich and the not so rich, but still everyone will have enough. Second, is the mindset that one has enough. There is only so much a person needs. Even the wants and comforts of life have a point of enough. Whether or not we want to admit it, we all reach a threshold where what we consume no longer gives us fulfillment and/or happiness. Pretty soon we are wasting precious time and life energy, “…store, insure, fix, forget about and ultimately sell in a garage sale.” It is better for us to do the work of introspection in order to figure out what activities and consumption fulfills us. Focus only on that which makes you “truly” content and do away with all the excess baggage that is bogging you down. Set a goal of what is enough and work to obtain it. Vicki Robin, who co-authored the book, You Money or Your Life and who has been a major influence for me on this idea of having enough has this pledge:
I pledge to discover how much is enough for me
to be truly fulfilled, and to consume only that.
I also pledge to be part of the discovery
of how much would be enough for everyone
not only to survive but to thrive, and
to find ways for them to have access to that.
Through this commitment to restraint
and justice, I am healing my life
and am part of the healing of the world.
When we work on having enough, cooperating, and voluntarily sharing resources justice will prevail.
Another request I want to make is to place more emphasis on education and less emphasis on making laws. Let’s take the example of the very controversial topic of abortion. There are many that would like to see abortion become illegal and are fighting to have a law to make it illegal. Making it illegal will not stop people from having abortions. All it will teach them is not to get caught.
The reality is that it’s the same with most of today’s laws. We all break some laws and work hard to avoid not being caught. There is a huge disconnect between the law and the reason why we should follow it. Many people don’t follow the speed limit because society focuses more on enforcing the speed limit than educating why the set speed limit keeps us safe.
In the case of abortions, instead of working on making it illegal, I would like to see us educate people about responsible sexual practices. We need to make abortion less needed through teaching contraceptive use, thinking ahead, and how to survive having an unexpected baby. Education is the key because it shows that we care and that we are thinking about all possibilities. Passing laws is so impersonal. Education is not only a key for fewer abortions but it is the key for all we would like people to do. Think of how Prohibition did more to harm responsible drinking and its effects are still felt today. In contrast, Germans teach their children about responsible drinking and have very little problems with excess drinking. Make education a priority and cut back on making laws.
The last request I would make is that we make passion a part of our lives again. Specifically passion for a vocation and passion for each other.
Steve Irwin and Steve Wozniak have been heroes of mine for the simple reason that they were passionate about what they did. The late Steve Irwin, also known as the Crocodile Hunter, could be seen on TV practically jumping out at you with a love and passion for educating the viewers about wildlife. Steve Wozniak spent countless hours drawing computers that were never physically made for the soul purpose finding ways of using less and less parts. Eventually he came up with what would be the Apple I.
Where are the Steve Irwins (the gifted naturalists) and Steve Wozniaks (the technology geniuses) of the world? I will tell you. They are waiting to be reborn out of the meaningless and passionless jobs that they do just for a paycheck. The concept of having a passion is such a foreign idea to people that we call it daydreaming. If you were to ask someone what their passion is or what would they do besides their job, they probably would not have an answer. They have become institutionalized, just like in the movie Shawshank Redemption. They are fearful of what doesn’t make sense to them. They are afraid to hope that their passions could pay off. To them it is just easier to stay institutionalized than to hope for a better life outside the prison walls they have made for themselves. However, just like Red had to do in the movie, we have to choose to either “Get busy living or get busy dying.”
When was the last time we got up excited and raring to go, no matter how hard the work was? I don’t believe in the phrase, “It’s not supposed to be fun, that’s why they call it work.” That to me is a lie. Joseph Campbell said that all religions have one common theme. That is do nothing that is not play. When we are doing something we are passionate about it is always fun no matter how hard the work is. But we can’t be passionate about just anything. What we are passionate about needs to meet our needs and utilize our strengths. Steve Irwin probably could not have invented the Apple I, the world’s first personal computer. He may have had the desire, but not the natural talent involved. Likewise, Steve Wozniak probably could not have brought Steve Irwin’s vast amount of wildlife awareness to the world. We simply cannot be passionate about just anything. Some can be passionate about working in a factory for the rest of their lives. However, some working in a factory are not passionate about their work and would be better suited elsewhere. We need to find our passions and work hard find to a way to pursue them full time no matter how long it takes. Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” It took the main character in Shawshank Redemption nineteen years to break free from prison. Once we do, we will find more zest to live for ourselves and with more time and energy for another passion that has been long subdued. The passion I am referring to may surprise you.
That passion is sex. Not just the act of sex, but the sensual aspect of it too. For a good example, we need only to look at the Bible. The Songs of Solomon is a passionate love story, steaming with sensuality. When was the last time we heard it read like one? It is a good example of how sex has been subdued. The religious community has turned it into being a metaphor for God’s love for us. Unless we believe that we ourselves are gods, then that metaphor just doesn’t work for me. I guess it works if we change our view of God from the big guy upstairs to God being everything that is, including ourselves. It’s actually the way I would like us to view God. However, I do think that the author intended it to be a sensual love story between two lovers. For some reason the religious community can’t handle that. Sex and the sensual to them is so animalistic and God forbid we are viewed for what we really are. Remember, mind, body, soul, and spirit are one. One is not greater than the other, therefore sex is not confined to or just a function of the body. I would like to see it find its way into every aspect of our lives. Mind, body, spirit, and soul. I would like to see it celebrated in our art, music, worship, and way of living. I would like to see it be a real expression, unlike pornography, which is staged. It is empty and it leaves all who partake in it empty.
As Thomas Moore says in his article, The Temple of the Body, “[pornography] focuses on organs and acts.” It is void of any human contact or, “…there is no love, little sentimentality, and almost nothing that could be called foreplay in any innocent sense of the word.” In other words there is no work involved. It is instant gratification. Anything that is wonderful in this world requires work or foreplay. However, Moore also says:
Every time we think of sex as biological, every time we teach sex education as a secular study, we are setting ourselves up for more pornography, and, strangely, for all its stupidity, lack of taste, and outrageousness, as a symptom pornography both reveals and distorts the imagination in sex. Pornography is full of problems, but mercifully it keeps sex from becoming the heartless preserve of the medical establishment and the social scientist.
I would add that as long as the religious community plays down the role of sex in our lives, pornography will flourish. We cannot scandalize sex any longer. We can no longer keep it separate from our every day being. We need to give ourselves permission to express sex and the sensual in real ways.
Here are some suggestions (with help from Thomas Moore’s article).
Spice up the architecture, infrastructure, and the décor or aesthetics of the spaces we live in. Focus less on function, efficiency, and cost. Instead focus more on what appeals to the senses, like form and foreplay. There is a reason why we associate an iris is with the shape of a vagina and why we won’t find in nature a domicile that has four corners. If we have not noticed these things in nature maybe it is time that we step out of the sterile concrete world and on to a nice meandering path. Visit a decadent bakery or make sensuous meals at home. Give yourself the liberty to be unproductive every once in a while. Idleness has been called the devil’s playground only because we have allowed sex to be associated with devilishness. Of course, maybe we need a healthy dose of devilish behavior in our lives. According to Moore, we need to give more time and attention to “pleasure, desire, intimacy, and sensuality, and give these very qualities a place in all aspects of daily life.” We can do this not just with our lovers, but also with family, friends, co-workers, and our communities. As long as we value the life and innocence’s of each other, what is the worst that can happen? Go ahead and risk living sensually, sexually, and passionately.
One last thing, Madison Avenue knows we are starved for sex and love so they use that to sell us empty substitutes and distractions, keeping us in a passionless cycle of always wanting. Be attentive to all that distracts us from our passions and focus only on those things that fulfill our passions.