The Intuitive-Connections Network

Current Update as of April 25, 2005 

Inspired by The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies

Edited by HENRY REED, Ph.D.

Explore Our Contents Here Learn how to Use Intuitive Guidance! Get Connected with Intuition

Spirit Matters

Spirit Matters

Book Summary by Clayton Montez

     Is there a recipe for a perfect world? A healthy sprinkling of wealth minced with power seems half-baked, some might say. Perhaps a soulful soufflé with a sprig of olive branch, a slice of spiritual life and a heaping helping of moral vision will help. At least that's what Rabbi Michael Lerner has on the menu.

In his new book, Spirit Matters (Hampton Roads Publishing), Lerner pictures a way for us to enrich our personal lives and improve the conditions of our society. Noting that we live in a society whose bottom line is "looking out for number one"; he remarks that this condition has gradually destroyed our sense of connectivity with each other and all living things.

Our grappling for self-preservation has undermined friendships, made relationships difficult, produced alienation and loneliness - and has been used to justify corporate irresponsibility and environmental destructiveness.

Consequently, Lerner urges that we must reverse ongoing conditions that perpetually repress our spiritual needs. Instead, we are to create the world we privately tell ourselves we really believe in.

Spirit Matters introduces the notion of Emancipatory Spirituality, an application of soul consciousness that connects humanity to a transcendent spiritual vision.

It is a call to balanced living by adopting an attitude of generosity, atonement, joy, and celebrating the wonders of the universe in the midst of a world that leads us to compromise our own highest values.

Instead of hiding our spiritual life from the public domain, Lerner encourages us to apply the holiness of our true selves to enrich the world of work, politics, law, education and ecology.

Spirit is not to be mistaken for something that is split off from the "real world". However, it ultimately shapes the world. Like Edgar Cayce's tenet, "spirit is the life, mind is the builder, and physical is the result", Lerner explains in a similar vein that we are a conduit of the creative forces when minding the purpose of spirit.

"The more we include the awesome power of spirit," Lerner reasons, "the less we will tolerate a society that functions on the assumption of competitiveness and where its members look out only for themselves."

Emancipatory Spirituality can be found nearly everywhere, according to Lerner. It is emerging on college campuses and in churches, in community centers and on websites.

Nevertheless, tens of millions of people with renewed interest in spiritual issues barely comprehend its significance. Lerner shows the scope of Emancipatory Spirituality in the following descriptions:

  • Recognize the sacred in other human beings, the earth, and the universe.

  • Affirm the sanctity of each individual through empathy, compassion and love.

  • Affirm the equal worth of every human being.

  • Seek the healing and transformation of the world.

  • Cultivate enlightened egos.

  • Develop mindfulness.

  • Embrace suffering with empathy.

  • Build communities and social practices with joy, pleasure, love and compassion.

  • Encourage artistic expression.

  • Bind moral responsibility with sensory pleasure.

  • Support others while maintaining our own needs.

  • Respect all life forms and the universe's resources.

  • Honor the wisdom traditions with all of its shortfalls and breakthroughs.

  • Support changing the "bottom line" of self-centeredness to an ethos of love and caring.

  • Embrace higher levels of consciousness and open up to spiritual guidance.

Lerner explains that most conventional religions tend to follow more restrictive precepts and fail to grasp the concept of Universal Oneness, an essential characteristic of Emancipatory Spirituality. They are often regarded as religions of refuge to protect human beings from exploitation.

"The realm of spirit", says Lerner, "does not subordinate human needs to the needs of progress." Their basic assumptions consider human beings intrinsically worthwhile rather than diminish their worth as a means to an end in the corporate world. But it stops there.

Despite their usefulness, conventional religious beliefs are more reactive to outside influences but do not necessarily create events to manifest spirit. Reactionary Spirituality, as Lerner calls it, is limited by three major flaws.

1) It promotes elitism through a privileged group of people who claim to bear the truth or have an exclusive right to interpret sacred ideas;

2) It pontificates over social ills and quashes rational inquiry while preserving the status quo; and,

3) It selectively honors some parts of humanity at the exclusion of other parts, thus failing to recognize everyone's equal share in the Unity of all Being.

Lerner's message is both complex and simple. It creates a new framework for thinking about childhood, loving relationships, and social developments. Still, it speaks to the heart.

As time passes, we continually grow and think about the universe and ourselves in new ways - a change in orientation such as a movement in consciousness. The time worn pattern of fundamentalism is losing its appeal, but we cannot wholly discard it either.

Lerner warns that we can no longer hide our doubts and fears behind it. "We must resolve to live life in a whole new way, with new confidence… in our struggles that are increasingly taking place between Emancipatory Spirituality, Reactionary Spirituality, and the ethos of selfishness and materialism (market consciousness).

One way to describe the way that Reactionary Spirituality and Emancipatory Spirituality clash is their treatment of sexuality. Reactionary Spirituality often strives to control female sexuality and reaffirms male dominance.

Men see that women must be contained, for if they were perceived to have more power, men might feel that they had less power. Most fundamental religions veil women in modesty. However, the opposite effect became just as real: "The sensuous female body becomes the prize commodity of fetish… and the consequent valuation encourages promiscuity."

Under these circumstances, a competitive marketplace exploits the protection of a community of traditional values and actually provides sexual freedom."

Emancipatory Spirituality takes a different approach. Rather than "protect" women with false modesty, it seeks to challenge the manipulative ways of the market. It affirms new sources of power: the power of love, interconnection, interdependency, mutual vulnerability, and mutual solidarity.

It does not seek to feminize womanhood, but rather, to reclaim and reintegrate the strengths, experiences, and talents of women. Indeed, it seeks to rebuild this world with spiritual principles.

"Our fading sense of wonder and appreciation is ruining our health," says Lerner. It is not what we think and do. It is how we process and assimilate our activities that determine our mental and physical condition. For example, there is a positive and negative way we may consume food.

On the one hand, food can be regarded as a gift from the earth, and the corresponding expressions of gratitude lends a spiritual level of understanding. On the other hand, foods that are products by exploitation, e.g., through forced labor, will likely create negative health consequences.

Lerner includes this and many more illustrations to emphasize the need to cultivate an awareness that matter in the world is filled with spirit, an awareness that reveals that we are deeply connected, sharing one planet. This fundamental interconnection grasps our sensibilities with the implied admonishment: "You cannot act immorally without global consequences."

Irrespective of our station in public or private life, Lerner explains that we are "momentary expressions of the consciousness of the universe." However, we tend to live amongst veiled myths of cooperation and generosity when in reality the common denominator of our nature is centered on competitive individualism, scientism, materialism, and selfishness.

Lerner advocates that we must elevate the priorities of spirituality or we shall remain as sleepwalkers in a sea of coping strategies that will manifest in the form of spiritual pain, social alienation, and psychological depression.
Spirituality is about equilibrium. We are 'flawed' within an imperfect world and at the same time we are reflection of the God energy of the universe.

Rather than perpetuate the dominant values that deprive us of spiritual transformation, Lerner says that we should teach all that we've discovered about history, literature, philosophy, anthropology, science, religion, and technology in a new way. "Unless we awaken to new possibilities for thinking and exploring," writes Lerner, "much of what we learn is going to be useless, no matter how wonderful its content."

A spiritual world that Lerner proposes challenges the ethos of selfishness and materialism in every aspect and dimension of our lives. From our economy to the legal system and from the medical profession to education, we are to replace the dominant values with higher, spiritual ones.

Underlying our ability to create a new world is the need to recognize and overcome the coping strategies that we blindly follow in an environment where repressing and denying pain is socially rewarded. In this context, caring is superficially doled on the basis of selfishness.

Lerner contends we cultivate a true concern for others by balancing our personal power with theirs: "to allow things in our life and in relationships to develop without us always needing to be in the driver's seat… to think about the world without the desire to control things."

We are continually recreating the world with the power we have, but we are just part of the bigger picture. Emancipatory Spirituality calls for moral selflessness, giving up control, but not subjugating ourselves in the process.

This revised mindset replaces what Lerner calls "the slavish subordination of everyone to the idols of the marketplace and its 'common sense' that all people should maximize their own advantage without regard to the consequences for others, that the physical senses validate all that is real, that it is human nature to compete for individual excellence, and that schooling should aim to promote economic success."

Emancipatory Spirituality opposes marginalizing people through 'melting pot' standards. Rather, it strives to preserve the differences and multiplicity of cultural heritages by recognizing that everyone has a part of the truth and is partly a manifestation of God's presence.

So how do we know what Emancipatory Spirituality feels like? Lerner provides a few "markers":

1. A drive to change societal conditions that causes pain and oppression.

2. A desire to help others feel loved and safe when they fail to live up to their professed ideals.

3. An ability to serve, heal and repair without finding fault in those who seem weak.

4. The demonstration of leadership within the balance of compassion and support.

The road toward Emancipatory Spirituality involves forgiveness, repentance, and atonement. Forgive people who have offended or hurt and let go of past hurts. However, forgiving others is hardly possible unless we can forgive ourselves for being incomplete.

Lerner says, "We are beings created in the image of God, but we have gone astray, and departed from where we really want to be, and have become different people. At our core, we are pure; the holiness of our true selves can never be completely fouled. The task is to evolve our lives toward greater connection with God or to become more fully embodiments with Spirit."

One way to meet this important goal is through the exercise of Shabbat. Shabbat is a Jewish practice of putting the world aside for one day in order to focus on spiritual living.

Many of the busywork obligations we normally tend to are avoided in order to focus on pleasure and to contemplate spiritual matters. Various elements of Shabbat include an absence of work of any kind, no errands, no computer or cell phones, etc.

The elements of Shabbat may be customized to fit one's level of comfort. However, it is important to include it routinely and to work the energy of Spirit into the rhythm of every day.

Lerner concludes that we, who are embodied spirits, have the power to reveal our true potential in the daily choices we make for a spiritual grounded life. "The more we embrace Who We Really Are, the more we will make the world safe for Spirit, and for those who hunger for it."

To order a copy of Spirit Matters from, click here!

Google Search Our Pages or the Internet Here

Search WWW Search

Please Visit Our Sponsors
Atlantic University
Association for Research and Enlightenment
The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies

Web Design by HENRY REED and MARIO HADAM. All Rights Reserved.

Atlantic University Association for Research & Enlightenment The Edgar Cayce Institute for Intuitive Studies