On being a spiritual Misfit
From the introduction to my best selling book on Amazon, "Spiritual Misfits: Collaboration and Belonging in a divisive world"
This book is a new, more inclusive story of who we can become. Not the true story, the only story, or even the best story. It is a new story because it is still unborn and, if you choose, you will carry and birth it together with others.
You. The misfit.
The one who is finished with business as usual.
You are not a rebel. Rebels react. You are not from the resistance because you are a part of the problem. You are not defined by your past, but you embrace it. You know how desperately we need new stories about who we are, why we are here, and what we should do... what we can do... to ensure that our planet will be habitable in years to come. You are aligned with a core story that every single person and each point of view matters. But you also sense that holding (only) this story is no longer valid—our stories need to synch.
Like a guitar chord, each story is a note that can be played simultaneously, to create new harmonies. Ideas, feelings and experiences can be woven into larger stories about how we can come together, learn from each other, heal, and love. You know that collaboration is possible, even among enemies.
You sense that it is no longer acceptable to just agree to disagree, or to assume that because our stories are different, they are incompatible. All of these stories are also outdated because they do not take into consideration how complex we have become and how we need stories that can bridge and fuse the growing fragmentation in society.
I want to make stories that dare not to know their endings, that help us understand our interdependence and to rethink our outlooks on life. I want to take part in creating stories where paradoxes are accepted, mystery is celebrated, and soulful living is integrated, with everyday practicalities.Stories that do not sacrifice human needs on the alter of cultural and social values.
In these stories, we are the protagonists and the supporting cast, the writers and the fictional characters. These stories are not random, and they do not resolve neatly. They combine playful chaos with harmony, the rhythms of life with the inherent balance of the universe, systemic thinking with radical acceptance.
Our lives are the ink with which these stories will be told.
Our stories are always part of a bigger story, which is itself part of an even larger, always evolving story. No matter how truthful your story is, it is partial. This is also true of the stories I will tell in this book, and of your reaction to them. In my own life, I have sometimes felt resistance to change when someone offered me a perspective that was different from my own. The hardest thing to do is to admit to ourselves that we are wrong or limited when the perspectives that we hold so dearly no longer align with the ever-dynamic nature of reality. You see, humans have the innate capacity to adapt to new environments, ideas, and values. But we also have an inherent fear of change. Once in a while, this tension facilitates a massive shift in how we live and perceive the world. For example, the 17th century gave us the Age of Enlightenment, a radical shift that made reason the dominant form of thinking and introduced such concepts as liberty,science, and tolerance. The first part of the 20th century brought humanism and then relativism. The second part of the 20th century saw an explosion of knowledge and access to technology we couldn’t have dreamed of before.2 I believe we are ready for another big shift—a call to adapt— by integrating all that came before with what we know today, for the sake of a sustainable future. It is the contention of this book that premodern wisdom can coexist with modern ideals and postmodern freedom. Throughout the past 300 years, we have divided everything into many wonderfully discrete systems, but have not done enough to integrate them into working synergies, especially in the domain of spirituality and psychotherapy. This division should be seen not as an endgame but a stepping stone in the evolution of our collective spiritual work. It is happening. With each passing year, momentum toward integration is building. We can, through what can only be understood as new emerging stories, heal the ancestral wounds in our communities for the benefit of people and life on this planet. We need new types of synergies that can simultaneously grasp the incredible diversity we hold as a species, together with localized, human scale, collaborations. Far too many of us are isolated in this respect. Torn between our human potential (and need) to actualize as individuals and the lingering thirst for what can only be realized by commitment to a system that is bigger than the self. If you are a seeker of this kind of integration, this book is for you. If you feel like a misfit in a confused world, this book is for you. If you seek more collaboration and belonging, this book is for you! It will speak to your longing for depth but also to the reason you cannot go back to your original spiritual home—no matter how profound, wise, or complete it may be. Because you are from more than just one world(view). You seek a common ground among differences and the emergence of new ways of perception. You hold a vision for the future, but still do not know how to make it come alive today for yourself and for the people and planet you care about. You live in the future. Surrounded by the past.