Mindful Advocacy is a spiritual practice with the power to transform injustice and suffering in the world. It differs from traditional advocacy in a number of significant ways. For example, the mindful advocate doesn’t lay blame, feed on anger, fear, or hate, or identify enemies to the cause. There is no striving to amass power. Instead, the mindful advocate transforms suffering through loving kindness, insight, and compassionate, skillful action.
I offer here ten reflections supporting the spiritual development of the mindful advocate. Consider these reflections at times of quiet contemplation. If you regularly read, study, and practice these ten reflections, you will cultivate greater stability, peace, and ease in your efforts to heal the world.
- Aspiration. Heartbreak and the desire to help others are the roots of Mindful Advocacy. From the ashes of our suffering, let us rise to compassionate and skillful action and hold as our deepest aspiration the realization of true, universal happiness.
- Looking Deeply. The fullness of reality is difficult to comprehend and always changing. Let us monitor the present moment and look deeply into its causes and conditions in order to cultivate understanding, acceptance, compassion for all beings, and wisdom to know what to do.
- Self-Care. Strong emotions like anger, hate, and fear are obstacles to happiness. Let us cultivate calm and well-being in ourselves and others, avoid and heal stress as it arises, and practice self-care to bring freshness, nourishment, and creativity to a healthy continuation.
- Impermanence. Clinging to the past, trying to “fix” circumstances in the present, or worrying about the future denies the fact that everything that arises will cease. Let us embrace impermanence as the key to potentiality: anything is possible because of the reality of Impermanence.
- Interbeing. Defining people and ecosystems as “others” creates harmful separation and denies the reality of Interbeing. Let us look deeply and see the interpenetration of the sun in the flower, the hungry child in the oil company executive, the melting glacier in the automobile. Let us see adversaries as teachers and know that our happiness is dependent upon the happiness of all beings.
- Aimlessness. Frustration and despair arise when we fixate on particular outcomes in order to be happy. Let us hold our aspiration for true, universal happiness loosely like a guiding star, let go of attachment to narrow outcomes, and work with ease and joy in aimlessness.
- Power. True power emerges not from control, dominance, or force but from spiritual insight and wholesome, compassionate action. Let us embrace ethical teachings: reverence for life, true happiness, true love, loving speech and deep listening, and nourishment and healing (see the Five Mindfulness Trainings at http://plumvillage.org/mindfulness-practice/the-5-mindfulness-trainings/). Let us do what needs doing where we stand and have loving and skillful actions be our message.
- Mindfulness. Distraction, confusion, and mindless disbursement of personal energies dissipate spiritual power. Let us practice Mindfulness, take hold of our consciousness, seal energy leaks, and grow more spiritually mature to benefit ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.
- Skillful Means. Advocates can cause harm while doing good. Let us work toward true, universal happiness in ways that extend kindness, ease, and joy. Let us reflect—before, during, and after taking action—by asking, “Am I sure.” Let us sustain loving actions for as long as they are needed and helpful.
- Community. The next Buddha is a Sangha. Therefore, let us gain friendships in our advocacy, flow as a river, and contribute to the synergy and momentum of the healing collective.