Visions of Daniel

A Statement of Spirituality


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Through the ages, concern with religion, spirituality, and the meaning of life has fascinated people who today would be called gay or recognized as homosexual. Highly revered in many cultures, they were among the originators of myth and religion. Their outsider's perspective naturally gave them valuable insight. Today, though outcasts of religion, homosexual people could not but continue to nurture their spiritual sensitivity. Forced to break new ground on their own in a world of change and diversity, they have struggled to discern the true meaning of spirituality.

Accordingly, on May 1, 2004 , at Garrison Institute, Garrison , NY , USA , a small workgroup of participants in the first Gay Spirituality Summit prepared this Statement of Spirituality. It is offered for discussion to help clarify the nature of "spirituality" in the gay community and beyond.

Spirituality is the out-working of the human capacity for self-transcendence, variously called consciousness, Buddha Nature, Atman, true soul, higher self , human spirit. Spirituality shows itself in increasingly aware and deliberately chosen participation in the positive unfolding of the universe. Beliefs and behaviors that are hurtful and destructive shut down this unfolding; those that are helpful and up-building further it.

Apart from any other-worldly implications that it might have, spirituality pertains to life on this Earth, and the measure of spirituality is compassion, love, truth, gratitude, growth, and good-willed give-and-take among human beings. In the final analysis, spirituality is as spirituality does.

Spirituality has no truck with the hateful, destructive, intolerant, and divisive. Nonetheless, loving attention to negative tendencies, forces, occurrences, and persons fosters the personal and collective healing and integration that allow the human spirit to flow freely and to bring something positive from the negative.

The forces that govern spirituality, however they are conceived, are built into and work through the human spirit. On-going cultivation of the spirit-in communion with fellow seekers and through spiritual practice, psychological healing, bodywork, virtuous living, and ecological concern- brings on expanded awareness that flows into genuine harmony with all people, all living creatures, all inanimate things , and all life-forces , for spirituality is ultimately concerned with the unity of all things. Profound sensitivity to this awareness and harmony makes for what the religions have called mindfulness, enlightenment, mysticism, soulful living, expanded consciousness .

Although they are not identical, spirituality is certainly related to religion . Religion is at the service of spirituality. The role of religion is to express and foster spirituality, and it does so in a rainbow of cultural variations. These might include belief in God (by whatever name or conception), revelations , doctrines, religious myths, sacred texts, rituals, prayers, meditations, trances , and ideas about afterlife, former lives, and metaphysical entities . All these religious matters have legitimacy insofar as they support spiritual sensitivity, elicit transcendental awareness, and, thus, contribute to the positive unfolding of the universe.

"My religion is kindness," says the current Dalai Lama. And Jesus said , "By their fruits you will know them." Therein lies wisdom about true spirituality.

Thus, loving-kindness is the measure of goodness or sanctity or holiness or spirituality. The rules of ancient societies or the trends of public opinion do not determine the moral worth of homosexuality or of anything else. In the final analysis, what matters is the loving-kindness that real, live people-homosexual or otherwise-show to one another and to their neighbors, the positive contributions that people make to one another and to their societies. Such is the spiritual path.