by Anna Darrah: Spiritual leaders have a lot to say about how you should live your life. Ever want to be a fly on the wall and see how they live their own lives?The new Spiritual Cinema Circle featured documentary Spiritual Liberation (see a preview below) gives you an intimate look into a typical day in the life of one of the most inspiring spiritual leaders of our time, Dr. Michael Beckwith, founder and spiritual director of the Agape International Spiritual Center in Los Angeles and author of Spiritual Liberation: Fulfilling Your Soul’s Potential. I recently got a chance to talk to Beckwith about how the film reveals his day-to-day, how he sees a spiritual leader’s role in our society, and how our spirituality interconnects with our current political and economic crises.
Q. How does the film let us see into your everyday life?
A. In one part there’s a dinner in my home and some of my friends and family share their experience of that morning’s talk I gave at Agape. It flows back and forth from sanctuary to dining room table talk. It was a very sweet and very powerful thing for me to hear how my friends are integrating my teachings into their daily life, at the kitchen sink level, because that’s what matters — that there’s a practical practice that can affect their lives.
My life now is about discovering and expressing the vitalizing, loving presence we all are. People want to know about their purpose, why are they here on the planet. It’s the question that won’t go away because the answer reveals that we are here to wake up, to discover our true nature.
What role should spiritual leaders play in solving our political issues?
Visionary, progressive spiritual leaders have always been among us throughout history. They have spoken and continue to speak to more than traditionally political issues. They were abolitionists. They spoke for women’s rights. They spoke for the African Americans and other minorities. They are now speaking for gay marriage, reforming our prison systems, and stopping torture.
A genuine spiritual leader holds and conveys a vision of the highest possibilities for humankind. He or she keeps high ideals at the forefront so people remain encouraged that we live in a friendly universe — one that is constantly conspiring on our behalf, cherishes humanity, and is constantly providing inspiration that speaks to our next stage of evolution.
There’s a spiritual mandate for us to discover our gifts, talents and capacities, to uncover them, to cultivate them, and to express them. That’s why we’re here. At this time in our evolution, we have to go beyond the mere survival instinct and really begin to ask the deeper questions as to what’s trying to emerge in our individual lives. The next step is to open ourselves, to become receptive to the teachings and practices of a spiritual path that can not only meet us at our current level of consciousness, but support us in our evolutionary expansion.
The role of a spiritual teacher is to consistently point to the limitless possibilities available to us. If it rattles some people’s chains, so be it.
Will our current economic and social crises lead humankind to evolve, or to dissolve?
As I listen to people during my speaking engagements, I hear a new tonality of genuine interest in living life from the inside out rather than superficially. It absolutely feels as though the universe is projecting one massive evolutionary trigger for humanity to take a collective evolutionary leap. As we watch the old systems breaking apart, as we admit they are obsolete, we make space for the new to enter. Paradoxically, these seeming opposites are happening simultaneously.
When we look at the decay of our stock market and the global economy, what appears to be dissolving is greed, the rampant materialism, the consumerism, that which drove economic systems up to this point. Humanity is beginning to ask some different questions about values and principles. We will no longer look to the material forms of success, such as how the stock market is doing. It won’t be our barometer for success anymore.