Being Radical

Being Spiritual? Being Radical

War and Peace

War and Peace

Radical was a seventies word for me. The specter of tie-died kaftans, headbands, bells and beads and that inevitable fist waving in the air, hovered around it. Those radicals were extremist, and extremists were, well, over the top! When I first heard it used as a descriptor for being spiritual, I had to roll it around in my mind for quite awhile. I needed to release it from its earlier associations.

What I resisted was changing my stance, my position, my understanding, my belief of the word. I had to surrender my “I-know-what-this-means” mind. When I did, clarity flooded within like a peace-filled sigh. A new understanding of the descriptor “radical” rose up, clean and shining – a perfect expression of intention.

peace symbolHow does the word radical work as an adjective for your intention? Can you imagine living as a spiritual radical? Radical peace! Radical love! Radical Joy! Imagine using your everyday life – your loved ones, work mates, family members, the faceless crowd – as catalysts that offer you every possible opportunity to apply peace, love, and joy.

A radical focus will bring out the negative beliefs you hold. Such beliefs reflect your particular fears and serve obscure or block your intention. The shadows, the resistance, the beliefs in unworthiness become obvious. What was previously hidden, becomes your spiritual work.  Surrendering such fear is like spiritual cloud-busting. And, when you do, those higher states, always present, become obvious.

In the societies where spirituality is inter-woven into its psyche, a sacred greeting is expressed and reflected as part of the culture. People meet each other with a Namaste or a bow. Consider how we greet. We nod and say, “Hello.” Hello’s humble origins are that of inciting dogs to hunt or to shout an S.O.S. someone when you need them to stop.

The Eastern salutation, on the other hand, reflects the fundamental acknowledgment, on a person-to-person basis, of the Divine. Such greetings constantly remind those who participate of the obvious sacredness in each other. Inner Divinity becomes a commonplace understanding and rooted in their beliefs. We could consider such greetings.

Peace Mudra

In Greece, most streets have a shrine, most houses have set up a beautiful alter to the Divine. That is radical. Where in our society, in our culture, is the constant acknowledgment of the fundamental Spirit that we are? Would doing so be considered too Eastern for us? Too radical?

Radical means arising from, or going to, the root. So what is the root of spirituality in the Western world, in our Western hearts? We may not be certain, but we are discovering it. We are experiencing a renaissance of living it. We are hungry for it. Many of us thought we lacked faith, but perhaps most of all, we lack our natural sustenance rooted in the acknowledgement of Source.

Being Spiritual is radical. Being spiritual goes to the root, the heart of what we thought we lost; alignment with our Source. The “mysticism of action” that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin writes about reminds us of the possibility of bringing our commitment, our faith, our drive into the society we live in.

In that sense, radical is what many of us are moving toward. The radicals live productive, regular lives. You cannot tell them from others. They wear no outward signs. Ellen's Heart RockLike millions of others, contemplation is how they go about their day. They watch the thoughts that rise in their mind.  They release emotions as quickly as they catch them (and are willing to do so). They offer gratitude, prayer, and love to all in their awareness. They have their roots growing deeply in the soil of commitment. Being radically spiritual sums us up.

Yes. Yes. Being so committed takes focus, intention, willingness, and faith. So what do we do to live that way? We take baby steps, in the places where we are most resistant, and we stride along in the light of the cleared areas.

Is it a peace-filled life? Not always.  We are learning that finding the shadows, the resistances, the avoidance, the mistakes, are what clears away the darkness and reveals the shining, radical truth of us.

Peace to you.

Photo use of “War and Peace” courtesy of flickr creative commons licensing. Photographer: Jayel Aheram

About ellen

Ellen Sutherland shares her work through her sites:, and her book: "At Your Heart's Pace",
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