On a beautiful Saturday morning in late September, 25 Boston evolutionaries (including me) gathered in a sun-lit room at MIT. We were filled with eager anticipation, as Amy Edelstein was going to be leading a day retreat on “Spiritual Warriorship,” and we knew that her penetrating clarity and simplicity could help each of us, as well as our group, develop in new ways.
How did we know? Amy is becoming a regular here in Boston, having given powerful presentations at our monthly EnlightenNext Meetup groups in June and September. We also know her from her 26 years of dedicated practice on the path of Evolutionary Enlightenment, and as one of the principal leaders of EnlightenNext, the worldwide movement founded by spiritual teacher Andrew Cohen.
The retreatants included people from different walks of life, including Kenzo An, the managing director of EnlightenNext Boston, Amy Jo Gengler, an acupuncturist just establishing her business in the North End, Vedran Peric, a manager at Akamai who hails from Bosnia, Jean MacDonald, retired executive assistant to organizational development guru Peter Senge, and many others.
What brought us together? Our commitment to spiritual development at the deepest levels, and to building a culture based on our highest aspirations. Almost everyone in attendance had devoted years, if not decades, to walking the spiritual path in earnest. And most are very active in the EnlightenNext Boston community, working together to create tangible and demonstrable examples of the teachings of Evolutionary Enlightenment.
So when Amy started the day, we were ready.
After a brief period of meditation, Amy began by asking three questions, which she would revisit twice more during the day:
- What brought you here today?
- What do you hope to get out of the day?
- What are 3 ways you can respond to the first question, and support the intention that brought you to be interested in becoming a spiritual warrior in the first place?
These were (are!) powerful questions that highlighted directly what it takes to change: what do you want, and what are you going to do about it? And their repetition throughout the day helped us distill our responses down to the very essence of what mattered to each of us.
But the moment that delivered the biggest flash of insight and inspiration for me was something else. Something even simpler.
Midway through the day, Amy looked at us and reflected on the specific people in the room. She noted that what we had in common was that we had all made some kind of commitment to the transformative path of Evolutionary Enlightenment. Even the fact that we were there on a Saturday, rather than pursuing one of the countless options we had in Boston, was an example of our priorities.
So she stressed the enormous significance of our commitment to becoming spiritual warriors, and pointed out how rare that kind of motivation is in the world.
(I say this not to hold our community up as being special in some way. If you’re moved by a desire to transform yourself and the world, then this includes you, too!)
Think about it for a moment: how many people hold as their number one priority to change the world through transforming themselves at the deepest level? It is a rare thing. And it needs to be cherished.
Because trusting in your own intention, and giving it the weight and significance it deserves, is one of the keys to having spiritual self-confidence. Spiritual self-confidence is the feeling that anything is possible. It even goes beyond feeling, it’s a knowing or even trusting. You could say that spiritual self-confidence is trusting in God.
And that kind of commitment, when cultivated and supported, and engaged with in a community, can lead to results beyond what any of us may have seen before or may be expecting. In other words, what becomes possible between people who are striving to give birth to something new is emergence—the arising of something higher and more integrated from that which is lower and more diffuse.
Emergence at the level of consciousness is the goal of Evolutionary Enlightenment.
And that’s what was so thrilling about the day: we were coming together in order to develop, but we realized that we were part of something that was already significant on a cultural level. In a way, the battle had already been won!
Of course, as spiritual warriors, we all must continue to develop endlessly. There is always more we can bring about, and so much needs to change before we can say that we’ve actually had a big impact on the world.
But the fact is, acknowledging and appreciating our own commitment and pure motivation goes a very, very long way to bringing about the change we want. In fact, the retreat helped me see that it can’t happen any other way.