Mid-Course Summary

You have seen Brother Sun, Sister Moon, Jesus Christ, Super Star, The Mission, Gandhi, and The Last Wave. You have also been encouraged to read handouts from my website and to explore various other websites.

To summarize all of the above would take more pages than you want to read or than I want to write. However, certain themes stand out. For me, they are:

  1. The spiritual journey is a very complex one and its complexity is only rivaled by its importance.
  2. To embark on such a journey in an intelligent and educated manner requires that you have an open and inquiring mind, that you explore many different ideas before you even begin to develop your own spiritual position.
  3. An essential partner in such a daunting journey is a sense of humor---although your soul is at stake in this journey, you still must bring along the perspective that a sense of humor can provide. The human ability to laugh at yourself is very healing and enlightening.
  4. You know that you have begun to tap into the power of God in your journey when you see LOVE at the heart of your quest (Love = empathy + unconditional positive regard + genuineness).
  5. The guides along your path are many and one of the most important things to remember is that you need to select your guides very carefully. (For example, in the movie The Hurricane, you see Rueben "Hurricane" Carter is reading J. Krishnamurti while in his prison cell. It is my contention that one of the ways he was able to succeed in his journey is that he chose such a wise guide.)
  6. Role models are also very helpful for assistance on your journey. For example, one of the great role models in modern history was and still is Gandhi. Martin Luther King, Jr., among others, used him for a role model, so obviously you don't have to find your role models from only among your own belief system. One of the things that makes Gandhi a great role model is not only his non-violent civil disobedience but also his concern for people of all faiths. He was also very aware of how economics fit into the picture. He knew that food and clothing were essentials that needed attention in order for people to be able to focus more clearly on spiritual concerns.
  7. The Jesuits knew the importance of economics also when in The Mission they organized the indigenous people into a cooperative some 250 years ago. The work you do during your life is very likely to either lead you toward or away from your spiritual quest ---so select your life work very carefully. The Mondragon system with its worker ownership helps people join together with a concern for one another and is a modern example of what the Jesuits and the early first century Christians understood and implemented.
  8. The movies Gandhi and The Mission also, hopefully, help us develop greater empathy and understanding of the endemic oppression of billions of humans that is still a major problem in today's world society. However, this is a theme that goes back to Christ's efforts to develop an inclusive spiritual message 2,000 years ago. St. Francis was also aware of this need to reach out to those in poverty and to value them. Many of the great prophets and saints throughout history have fought against the oppression of many by those in positions of control---those in control who tend to be part of the problem rather than the solution include those who own businesses, the politicians that they buy, and the religious leaders that more often than not provide support for those in power.
  9. Recognition of how those in control are the puppet masters trying to make you their puppet is a very important starting point on your spiritual journey. It leads you away from ethnocentric thinking, away from elitism, away from simplistic answers to complex questions. That recognition can make you angry so that you want to fight, however, fighting tends to simply create new rulers who exploit the masses. What is necessary is a building of new habits, habits of love, habits of remembrance. That is what the ritual of bread and wine is all about, a way of remembering His love for us all. It is not about control, it is all about letting go.
  10. Letting go to what? To life! Saying no to greed and oppression is the first step. The next step that St. Francis took was saying yes to life, yes to the joy of the spirit, yes to nature and all the wonders that God has provided, yes to a life of simplicity so that we don't get so caught up in complexity that we lose sight of God, yes to loving others and to loving ourself, yes to building our bodies as temples to God, yes to coping effectively with stress, yes, yes, yes, to the joy of life! ("Do few things, but do them well." From Brother Sun, Sister Moon). God has created a wondrously healing system of endorphins and other body systems that make us feel good and live healthy lives when we love God and love one another. Tapping into that deep well of healing and sustaining love is what has made all the various spiritual leaders able to do the miraculous down through the millenniums. You too need to drink from those waters.
  11. We are all sinners, we are all people who have given into temptations. Like in The Mission, we are mercenaries, slave traders who have murdered our own beloved brother. We may feel, as did the DeNiro character, that: "There is no redemption, no penance hard enough for me." God disagrees as he is constantly challenging you with opportunities that you can take to overcome your temptations. The question He poses for us all is the one that was posed to DeNiro: Yes, a penance does exist. "Do you dare to try it?" As with The Last Wave, we truly are running out of time. The world we have created due to our failure to love God's natural world is choking on the pollution we have created through our focus on a material rather than a spiritual life. You can make a difference. "Do you dare to try?"