An Evolution of Spiritual Action

By Robert Rabbin

Radical Sages is a social movement, the heart of which is the recognition that "inner spiritual work and transformational social action are as inseparable as flower and fragrance." But this realization was not initially apparent to Rabbin; it came slowly into view after many years and many journeys.

With the 1971 publication of Ram Dass' seminal book, Be Here Now, an entire generation of Americans "turned on, tuned in, and dropped out"-embracing the inward journey to self-realization espoused by the consciousness pioneers of that era. Inspired by the burgeoning "new age" of kaleidoscopic mysticism and disillusioned with the cultural touchstone of materialism and the ethos of the military-industrial complex, thousands of people embraced a mixed bag of transcendent philosophies and meditative practices. Robert Rabbin was among them.

As a high school senior in 1968, Rabbin formed a campus political committee to educate and motivate students, worked on Sen. Eugene McCarthy's presidential campaign, and joined anti-Viet Nam war marches. "I went to Sacramento to study political science, but an epiphany I had experienced when I was eleven years old wouldn't leave me alone." Over-riding his political interest and social concerns was a spiritual concern: "I had experienced the spiritual world behind this material world, and I was compelled to explore that. I couldn't give myself to anything until I had resolved the questions about who I was and the nature of reality." Traveling restlessly through Europe and the Middle East, he met a number of fellow seekers who had been to India, and he decided to go. Following a four-month overland trek to India, Robert met meditation master Swami Muktananda. "The spiritual awakenings I had with Muktananda were so profound, I knew that is where I belonged." For the next ten years, Rabbin remained under the spiritual tutelage of this famed master. Shortly after Muktananda's death, Robert began an eclectic career of writing, teaching, executive coaching and consulting. "Even though I worked in the world, I maintained a kind of transcendental distance from life. I was only at home in the silence of my inner being; I was not truly comfortable in the world. I had found my Self, but I had lost touch with my humanness. While I had love for everything, I had no feeling or affection for anyone or anything.

"The shadow side of spiritual work is the risk of mistaking detachment for dissociation, and using spiritual concepts and ideals to be socially and politically aloof and disengaged. It's almost as if apathy is a badge of honor among spiritual practitioners, especially those who engage in contemplative practices like meditation. We turn inward to find an antidote to confusion, pain, and alienation, all of which seem to be embedded in the world. Once we find the inner currents of peace and love, we are not inclined to re-engage with the same world from which we turned. I was a poster child for that philosophy."

Coinciding with the events of September 11, 2001, Rabbin says he experienced a full healing of the "core wound of humanity-separation from life itself. I experienced a reunion with life, and every cell in my body realized that there had never been any separation. In both a metaphorical and literal way, I and the world became one. The subtle polarities of inner and outer, spiritual and worldly, ego and Self all disappeared."

As a result of this experience, Rabbin said he was compelled to embody the words of Kabbalah: First we receive the Light. Then we impart the Light. Thus we repair the world. "Repairing the world requires that we add responsibility to realization, caring to love, and action to insight. If there is no inner peace, can there be peace in the world? And, likewise, if there is no peace in the world, can there be inner peace? Inner and outer are more than mirror images of each other: they are each other," he concluded. "Each generation must create its own authentic expression of spiritual wisdom. Our time is calling us to participate wholeheartedly in social and political life, to evolve the ideal of sage as 'aloof witness' to sage as 'passionate advocate for peace, freedom, and social justice.'"

While people often bond with others along religious or political party affiliation, Rabbin avoids this convention. He points to Paul Ray's definitive work on cultural creatives, people associated more by values than by religion or politics. The people who comprise this group are united by their strong support of human rights, ethical business practices, the environment and sustainability, holistic health and spiritual development.

"The core audience for Radical Sages" Rabbin continued, "are those who want to expand their awareness and develop their spiritual connection to others and life without losing touch with the world around them. We don't identify ourselves with labels like Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative; we align ourselves with those principles of living that reflect the highest expression of our common humanity. Radical Sages is not a revolution of ideology but an evolution of spiritual action."

Rabbin started Radical Sages as a portal through which both inner and outer directed people can find new sources of spiritual connection and meaning through action. "The embodiment of spiritual wisdom is through committed action. The only way to distinguish 'altered states' is through 'altered traits.' Such terms as engaged Buddhism and spiritual activism are really redundant - as long as we have life we are engaged and active. We have to convert inner realization to conscious choice." The user-friendly navigation bar leads visitors through layers of news stories, action alerts, media releases, exclusive essays by well-known spiritual leaders, world documents, speeches and interviews, and Rabbin's SageBlog. There is also a special section for contributions from kids. Another exclusive feature is the stable of social commentators Rabbin has just begun to assemble-yoga and meditation teachers and spiritual leaders who will offer analysis and opinion of current events from a "higher consciousness" perspective. Future plans include a Radical Sages web ring and an online store of merchandise branded with the Radical Sages logo. People are encouraged to volunteer their time and expertise to promote and expand Radical Sages.

Rabbin, who lives in San Francisco, currently funds all Radical Sages activities through his speaking and workshop fees, though donations are welcomed. He is the author of several books, including Igniting The Soul At Work and Echoes of Silence, and more than 200 articles.

Robert Rabbin is a San Francisco-based writer and speaker. He is the author of numerous books and articles, and the founder of RealTime Speaking, an online hub of global spiritual activism. For more more information, please visit http://www.robertrabbin.com

Copyright © 2005 Robert Rabbin, All Rights Reserved