Spirituality and Politics: Light Worker, Shadow Worker

“Prometheus stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals” (2011) by Manuel Marín. Via Flickr.com @manuelmarin. Creative Commons.

Recent social events and divisive politicians have motivated many public figures in the spiritual communities to step forward and comment about politics. Almost every single one will receive a vitriolic remark about staying “within your own lane” and just stick to spirituality; don’t be “low vibe and low energy” by talking politics or social consciousness.

Likewise, there are an equivalent number of public figures in the spiritual communities who have built their branding and image on compassion, love, and lightworking, and yet they have remained eerily silent on issues of social injustice, hate, hate crimes, and, well, quite frankly, political issues that they don’t think personally affects them, but are literally killing others. Which is odd, for someone spiritual who believes as above, so below, as within, so without, and we are all One…

Those who actively seek to walk a spirituality-dominant path for personal development have two options. First, they can develop spirituality inward, and focus on themselves. The goal here is personal transcendence. How can you, you, transcend? The second option is to develop spirituality outward, and focus on the collective. The goal here is collective or social transcendence, to use what Divinity has gifted you with to make a difference in the world around you so that the world can, collectively, transcend, or at least take another positive step toward transcendence. Those are the two core objectives of spirituality. It’s either about your transcendence or it’s about your collective’s transcendence

To talk about which one of the two paths everybody should take is an unproductive conversation. Both paths serve a larger purpose beyond what we are able to understand in our moment. Also, one path is the other, and vice versa. Evolve yourself and you do evolve the collective. Evolve the collective and you will evolve yourself. So both are equally compelling spiritual paths.

That’s why for someone to say to a spiritualist that you should not involve yourself in politics or comment on political matters is, well, short-sighted. It’s in effect asserting that the first path is superior (personal transcendence) and spiritualists need not and should not seek collective or social transcendence.

If you’re seeking self-improvement at the moment and using the vehicle of personal spirituality to do so, which by the way is the definition of shadow work, then yes, perhaps turning inward and detaching from the political and social landscape of your world at the moment is the prudent path. If, however, you are a lightworker, or a self-professed lightworker, well then, lightwork is defined by shining your light out into the world so that you can uplift your community. The lightworker cannot do that effectively by summarily ignoring politics and social issues. Politics and social issues are intertwined with the conditions of your community.

To heal a body, you have to find what is rotting, diagnose the problem, and eradicate the problem area so that the healthy part of the body can begin the healing process. No one disagrees with that or finds such an assertion divisive. Yet when our society is sick and everyone, no matter which side of the aisle you stand on, can acknowledge something is rotting, why aren’t we working toward diagnosing the problem and eradicating the rot? Sure, we can disagree on what the problem is and what the solution ought to be, and that’s common in any area of expertise. But if the team of medical experts are going to heal the patient, then even when they disagree with the diagnosis, they had better do so by working together, collaboratively and in harmony, or else that patient is going to die on the operating table.

Let’s also address how spiritualists take many forms, and serve different roles. Some are rhetoricians, the messengers. Others are warriors, our gladiators. We’ve got those who are physical healers, who heal us mind, body, and soul, one by one. There are those who traverse to other realms or channel entities from other realms, and bring to us important messages so the rest of us can do our jobs better. Then we’ve got the teachers, who preserve the body of wisdom we’ve attained up to this point by passing it on to the next generation of messengers, warriors, healers, and mediums. Understood in that way, it seems silly for the rhetorician to tell the warrior not to fight, or that the healer should take up arms and slay on the battlefront. That being said, if one is a self-proclaimed warrior, then one had better take up the cause and fight the war when called. You can’t call yourself a warrior and then run away from the draft.

To be political and social is part of some of our spiritual paths. Let’s honor that. Likewise, certain defined spiritual paths necessitate its adherents to be political, and yet so many of those who profess to follow such paths are too afraid of their own shadows to do what needs to be done. You cannot be an adequate lightworker if you do not walk out of your own comfort zone in search of the darkness, to find where you most need to shine your light. Do you have to be a lightworker if you are spiritual? No, you don’t. Not all spiritualists are lightworkers. But I am perplexed by those who say they are and yet who refuse to engage in political discourse.

13 thoughts on “Spirituality and Politics: Light Worker, Shadow Worker

  1. I love this! I feel like spirituality, at least online, has become quite self-centered. It’s all about manifesting your own success and so on, but what does your own success do if your sisters and brothers are suffering?

    But I must add I am not loving that sometimes it can come across as pushy when people make posts like “If you’re not posting the ‘against white supremacy’ photo then your’re not doing enough, you’re part of the problem etc etc”. To me what I do in my physical community is so much more important (and more invisible online naturally) than taking 30 seconds to post on instagram. I partake in demonstrations, I speak up against racism at my day job, and I volunteer for helping Syrian refugees – does that translate to my instagram account? Well, no, but it sure does much more good than posting that I (the immigrant working class woman lol) am against racism… It’s just been a pet peeve of mine lately, sorry for going a bit off topic. 😉


  2. Interesting thoughts. It is quite possible to conduct healing, spiritual work on disturbing issues without discussing them openly, too. That can benefit the collective as well as the individual.


  3. Thank you! It’s something I’ve thought about frequently and truly wonder why there is a palpable hesitation among many spiritually oriented people to engage in anything that’s seen as political. At the end of the day it’s about what is truly meaningful and the vulnerability found when going to that core is intimidating and often scary. What we do and say matters. It matters a great deal. If saying or doing something out loud is too much for some people, then supporting those who are speaking and acting on common causes helps. Andrew Harvey has a great book on Spiritual Activism and organizations such as The Charter for Compassion do very good work. Thanks again for a great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Excellent points here. I’ve met some self-proclaimed lightworkers and healers who are afraid that standing against certain things will cause unnecessary drama and detract from where they would like their focus to be. It constantly amazes me how people are so often surprised when someone they admire and like disagrees with them on a particular point. Working in the light can be comforting at times, but any kind of work worth the name is going to be uncomfortable and vulnerable at times. There is so much anger, so much fighting right now, where people refuse to be vulnerable enough to say, is it possible that we both mean well, that we both have similar goals, so let’s take a chance and try to build something small and work from there. I think there is a deep sense of fear on many fronts now, and should not lightworking highlight those fears and bring them forth from the shadow?

    Thank you for talking about this so eloquently.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Beautifully explained, thank you for such a well written article. I noticed a very important point made here about the forms we take and the roles we take on, being a popular concept in Hinduism of Varna’s; the order or class we choose to take so as to fulfill a specific purpose here on Earth. Again, beautifully written.


  6. The political climate today is one of exclusion, regardless of what your core beliefs are. “If you aren’t with us then you are against us” is the mainline theme. It’s everywhere, even among some of those that are “lightworkers” or “transcendsent”. Not taking a public political stance is a perfectly acceptable choice made by many good people. Some choose to live their lives by example and not by resistance or force.


  7. As you know having read my book, I don’t divorce inner and outer activism. Outer activism without inner work perpetuates division. Inner activism without outer work is, in my opinion, spiritual narcissism. As the song goes, like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other. Perhaps because people know this about me I haven’t gotten the vitriolic comments yet. Though I have to say, as a queer Jewish Buddhist who teaches Kabbalistic tarot, I am surprised that I haven’t been a target yet. Kinehora!


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