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Lions Roar : January 2018
I would like to make a distinction between spirituality and religion, because they aren’t quite the same thing. Spirituality can be a very personal experience, while religion provides sup- port from other people who are trying to move in the same dir- ection. But sometimes religion gets tribal, and then it becomes “us” against “them.” When the Israelites were freed from Egypt, God parted the seas, which then crashed in on the Egyptian army. When the Jews rejoiced, God said, “Why are you rejoicing? They’re my children too.” With our herd instinct tendencies, we sometimes forget that. There are religious people who are falling into us vs. them, while other churches, synagogues, mosques, and so on are reach- ing beyond that. I think it’s quite possible to do both: to have your intimate spiritual community, your sangha, your congre- gation, as well as reaching out to people in other congregations. When we do reach out in a respectful way to somebody across the divide, that can allow the kind of change we need right now. Van Jones: Well, all human institutions are shot through with all kinds of foibles and problems. Also, all human institutions tend to assume aspects of the society in which they exist. I think it’s a mistake to get madder at religion and religious folks than we get mad at anybody else. People who run corporations, who run sports teams, who create television programs, are also infected by human foibles and societal biases. I think we Why America Needs Love continued from page 70 do ourselves a disservice when we make totalizing statements about religion, because it tends to bypass a deeper truth. Is some form of spiritual practice or understanding necessary for us, as a society, to really change how we relate to each other? Van Jones: What I would say is that I can’t do the work that I’ve chosen without a spiritual grounding. I am blessed to get to talk to some of the poorest people in the country and some of the richest people in the country, often in the same day. Because I’ve been exposed to different ways of thinking and being, I have a better chance to actually learn something and be a con- tributor than I would otherwise. Lama Tsomo: I really had to sit with myself. I tried freestyle meditation, but that was not very successful. So I decided to pick a time-honored method that has been refined over a very long time. Luckily, the world is full of lots of lineages that are replete with wonderful tools that I would never have thought of myself. I really appreciate the methods I’ve learned. I found a master who is very accomplished in them. Personally, I have found it really helpful to pick tried-and-true methods. I’ve also found it helpful to be with other people who have a similar goal. For that reason, I picked an established religion, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel for myself. But I think if people just sit quietly for a few minutes a day, not having to respond to things on the outside, that’s a great place to start. ♦ LION’S ROAR | JANUARY 2018 80