Hallelujah! It’s gay marriage for Washington State!

Lesbian Wedding
Photo Credit: stevendamron

Today my home state of Washington becomes the seventh state in the USA to legalize same-sex marriage. I am grateful for the wisdom and discernment of Gov. Christine Gregoire and the state legislature, including many Democrats and some Republicans, who have given me and many thousands of fellow citizens equal rights on this day.

I almost didn’t vote for her in 2004 because I hated her stand against gay marriage.  I’m glad I did. What I didn’t realize then was how important it is to keep forgiving and giving our political leaders a chance to change their hearts and minds. With time and lots of work and the grace of God, miracles happen.

They made a courageous choice, for sure, but not perilously so. The governor conveniently opposed gay marriage until a few weeks ago, when polls had accumulated showing that gradually public opinion in the state turned decisively towards equal marriage rights.

I don’t know when I will get married, and can’t even be certain that such a day will arrive for me, but if it does then I know that I am free to follow my God-given path without having to experience irrational discrimination from the government. Hallelujah!

To many people with a traditional worldview, the rise of gay marriage is a terrible sign of the decay of modern culture into wickedness and perversion, proof that we have entered into a New Dark Age.

To many people with a modern worldview, the rise of gay marriage is a good sign that the liberating state, focused on individual rights, is finally becoming separated from the control of oppressive religion.

To many people with a postmodern worldview, the rise of gay marriage is a terrible sign that Queers have forsaken their rebellious, bohemian queerness with its potential to critique the bourgeois, patriarchal, and oppressive sexual institution of marriage, which really needs to be jettisoned altogether in favor of an anarchic paradise of “vive la différence!”

Let’s not kid ourselves. Parts of each of these worldviews probably lives in each of us to some degree or another, if we have listened to other people and tried to give them a fair hearing. But from an integral worldview, no one of these worldviews is adequate.

Our vision is evolutionary, inclusive, and spiritual. Gay marriage is an evolution of culture and society in all its dimensions — a sign of God and Spirit in our midst — a holy and good thing not merely because it lets gay people have hospital visitation rights but because it is an expression of the inherent dignity of gay people as equally manifestations of God.

Our view is not anti-liberal; it is pro-liberal. It is not anti-conservative; it is pro-conservative. Gay spirituality includes both conservatism and liberalism and transcends them (as I wrote in 2004).

We make room for parts of traditional, modern, and postmodern worldviews, because these views have lived within us at one time in our own development, and to hate these views in others is also to reject a part of ourselves. We allow for difference, but we do not say that all differences are okay; differences evolve ever towards our True Nature, uniquely expressed.

We celebrate a victory which brings greater justice to a minority population. Today’s victory in Washington is a victory for the human spirit, that gayness which lives in all of us, whether we are homosexual, bisexual, or heterosexual … because we are all members of the Catholic Church, the Universal Sangha, the Universal Mosque, the Universal Synagogue, and the divine fellowship of humankind.

A true World Spirituality affirms the dignity of all people and will not rest in complacency so long as justice remains to be delivered for so many people around the world.

Joe Perez is an author who has published books on Gay and Bi Men’s Spirituality.

Martin Lindstrom predicts how brands will become more ethical in the future


Martin Lindstrom
Martin Lindstrom

World Spirituality as I understand it includes a practice of right livelihood, conscious business. The overarching perspective gives us the framework in which we recognize that the ethical center at the heart of work is Love, the force of evolution itself. It is from this capacity that our own individual work lives have an ethical livelihood and from the collective ethos of an organization that it has (or fails to have) an ethical brand.

The world may be evolving better, more ethical, businesses. How, specifically? One possible future: the Internet will empower consumer to hold brands responsible to ethical standards by punishing those which do not deliver. Businesses, anticipating a shift in power in relationship to consumers, will begin to act with greater responsibility rather than be punished.

Martin Lindstrom, once named one of the “World’s 100 Most Influential People,” by Time Magazine, tells us that the world of product branding is changing. In an article in Fast Company, he says that he predicts that Wikileaks sorts of organizations will emerge in the future which are focused on keeping brands honest. Smart people in business today have to realize the importance of putting ethics first. He writes:

Last year, I began a study of 2,000 consumers in which I asked for their ethical perspectives [on branding]. Their advice proved invaluable. We would be wise to take note of it:

  • Don’t do anything to kids and consumers that you would not do to your own children, friends, and family.
  • Every time you launch a campaign, a new product, or a service, secure an “ethical” sign-off from your target group. Develop your own independent consumer panel (a representative target audience) and disclose the perception of the product, as well as the reality. Let the consumers make the final call.
  • Align perception with reality. Your talents might very well lie in brilliantly creating convincing perceptions, but how do they stack up against the reality? If there’s a mismatch, one or the other must be adjusted in order for them to be in sync.
  • Be 100% transparent. Nothing less. The consumer needs to know what you know about them. Furthermore, they must be told exactly how you intend to use the information. If they don’t like what they see, they need a fair and easy way to opt out.
  • Almost any product or service has a downside, so don’t hide it. Tell it as it is. Be open and frank, and communicate the negatives in a simple and straightforward way.
  • All your endorsements and testimonials must be real–don’t fake them. [Read more…]

Love is a path to God. But is it enough?

Art Credit: piker77

In nature, animals learn how to be their true nature by watching how their parents do things and trying to do things the same way, sink or swim. Humans too learn through imitation, not only in worldly ways but also in spiritual pursuits.

I love Jesus Christ’s new Facebook status update, a selection from the New Testament:

Ephesians 5:1 – 2 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”

Too often Christians confuse the spiritual imperative to imitate God with the all-too-human imperative to obey human traditions and institutions. But World Spirituality suggests that imitating God — or Enlightenment, from a different perspective — is our highest calling.

As I see it, the imitation of God is about growing our consciousness, inch by inch, habit by habit, thought by thought, until we understand that our True Self is one with God … as was Jesus’s own Supreme Identity.

What does that look like? It won’t have the same feeling for everyone. At a very general level, there are principles and ways of looking at God-consciousness that can help to draw distinctions. For example, Ephesians also tells us to walk in love and to be selfless in the work we do in the world. Being God-like isn’t an act one puts on. It’s not a demeanor. It’s not an attribute of the personality. It shows up in self-less love, and whenever Love is present, so too is God.

[Read more…]

Change one article of clothing, change your life

David Beckham
David Beckham

I picked up the latest issue of Men’s Health at the newstand the other day — the one with David Beckham on the cover. I was struck by something I read in the opening to the Spring Style section:

Sports and style have been playing partners since men first pulled on a uniform. (The ancient Greeks used to compete naked, so the uni was real progress.) Over time, athletic apparel and street clothes blended — athletes became fashionable, and fashion became sporty. Today the two camps draw mutual inspiration…

How we dress is spiritual. It is making beauty. It is expressing our essence. It is a way we have to integrate diverse strands in our culture — conflicting ideals about what it means to be human, to be a child of God, to be an evolving being.

Every sporty element we add to our attire communicates something, even unconsciously, about our relationship to athleticism. Every tattoo. Every piercing. Every time we wear business attire (or refuse to put on a suit and tie!), we say something about our relationship to the economic structure of civilization. Every time we don religious jewelry or attire, we tell the world something about our relationship to our religious heritage.

Some of my most interesting spiritual experiences have consisted simply in choosing an accessory or shirt that I felt really good about and enjoyed wearing. Even a simple T-shirt with a minimalist design says something interesting. I don’t want to convey the impression that I analyze my optimal fashion according to a mathematical formula or anything like that; it can be a very intuitive process.

Cowboy Boots
Cowboy Boots

Like the time I bought my first pair of cowboy boots as an adult (about seven years ago). They hurt my feet like hell and I rarely had the opportunity to wear them, but I felt good when I was in them. And pretty soon I realized that I wouldn’t be able to “pull them off” very well with my existing wardrobe. Gradually as I replaced old clothes I started replacing them with new clothes that fit the new accessory, and over time eventually my entire look changed. It wasn’t planned; it just happened.

A few years ago, I remembered that when I was a child I wore cowboy boots probably until I entered kindergarten. I remembered that my Dad wore cowboy boots all the time (probably something he did all his life, since he grew up working on farms and continued to do so until soon after I was born). I used to watch him shine and polish the boots and I forgot how much I loved the smell of shoe polish.

My brothers and I all wore boots for years, and I don’t recall when or why exactly I stopped. Probably I just needed a more conventional shoe for school. I don’t know why I stopped back then, but today I have a choice. And on my birthday last year I got a new pair of cowboy boots that are so comfortable I can wear them everywhere, every day, and even walk for miles in them. Really.

In the past several years, I reached the age that my father was when I was growing up. Looking at pictures, I can see a strong resemblance. In my twenties, I wanted nothing to do with him or the way that I was raised. In my thirties, I reconciled myself to my childhood and realized that my adult life was what I made of it. I could no longer blame anyone else for my problems; I had to do my own work on my self.

Now, having entered my forties, it seems I’m rather literally walking in my father’s (style of) shoes. Without even trying, I’ve integrated a part of myself that was underloved and underappreciated, and included it in a wider embrace.

To change one article of clothing can lead to a sea change in a wardrobe given enough time and inclination; it can even change our relationship to diverse aspects of our human nature, such as the athletic and the professional sides (or in my case, helping me to find my “inner cowboy,” that tough-loving, honest, straight-shooting, free spirit side).

And that’s how spiritual integration works, too. We can change one habit and then slowly without even realizing it we find ourselves different on the inside.

What does the world most need now?

Illumined World
Photo Credit: Stuck in Customs

Some say the world needs more peace and others say the world needs less complacency.

Some say the world needs fewer carbon emissions and others say the world needs more jobs.

Some say the world needs less hunger and poverty and others say the world needs more gratitude.

Some say the world needs a cure for terrible diseases and others say all disease is in the mind.

Some say the world needs equal rights for women, racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities…and others say the world needs to recover a social order from ages past.

Some say the world needs more conservative solutions to problems, and definitely more individual liberty. But others say the world needs more progressive solutions to problems, and definitely more cooperation.

Some say the world needs people to feel more and get “out of our heads.” But others say the world needs people to be smarter, more rational, and moved less by irrational feelings.

Some say the world needs nothing: that it is perfect just the way it is.


The fundamental Integral principles teach us that every one of these answers has a part of the truth. They all see the world from a different point of view. But not all windows on the world are equal; they don’t all have an equal part of the truth. There are many different levels of truth, as there are many different layers of an onion…and peeling back the easier, superficial answers isn’t for the faint of heart.

Also, the Integral toolset gives us a great starting point for organizing ideas about what the world needs now: it can help us to visualize how each of these issues involves many different dimensions, and it can tell us a great deal about how different people with different psychological profiles and intellectual worldviews make sense of these needs.

But in itself, the Integral platform does more to specify a range of possible answers to the question and frame the potential answers than actually answer the question. It requires the addition of an empowering and ennobling and wise spiritual vision within which to work its magic. And it is this vision that people in the World Spirituality movement from around the world are articulating, learning about, putting into practice, and building community experiences around. It is one way God is speaking and Spirit is working in the world today.

World Spirituality is, as Marc Gafni says, about democratizing enlightenment. It is to affirm that no task is more important right now than Enlightenment…and that this is not just a project for cave-dwelling monks but the highest and most profound calling direct for each and every one of us.

It also suggests the HOW of Enlightenment in a wide variety of ways that do justice to all the complexity and developmental perspectives. This is important because it helps us to avoid making mistakes like lapsing into fundamentalism, scientism, postmodernism, or any other ideology masquerading as the Total Truth. And one of the most central insights is that we all have a divine Unique Self; therefore we must all be our highest and wisest and truest self, and not try to hide or diminish it.

So the answer to the question, “What does the world most need now?” begins with YOU. Only and uniquely YOU. If you are living from your True Self, you are not selfish and egotistical or just concerned about the ideals of people just like you; you are concerned about every sentient being and want the best for everyone and all creatures.

You need not concern yourself with all perspectives on the question, only enough perspectives to help you move forward step by step from where you are right at this moment. You need not be paralyzed by worrying that you won’t do the perfect thing.

THE NEXT THING YOU DO is what the world most needs now, if you are practicing a genuine World Spirituality.