Are You a Spiritual Progressive?

Dear Friend and Reader:

At the end of the Vietnam War, the American left fractured into numerous movements. One of them is what we think of today as the traditional left: the Progressive movement. Another was the New Age.

Photo by Liz.

The thing about the Progressive movement is that, tending toward an intellectual orientation, it had an atheist flavor. Things of a spiritual or esoteric nature were all lumped together as being about religion. Enlightened politics believed in the separation of church and state. Religion was viewed as the opiate of the masses. Public policy requires sound empirical approach, not merely ‘belief’.

At the same time, the New Age movement, a kind of eclectic grassroots spiritualism, didn’t want to get its hands dirty with politics. They suspected that politics contradicted everything they were working for — an internal orientation, devotion to growth and evolution, forgiveness, and evolving away from an us-and-them approach to life and toward unity.

Meanwhile, in the early 1980s, a new political movement was born when conservatives saw the benefit of using churches as political clubhouses, fundraising bases and a place to ferment their agenda. Out of that dangerous cocktail of religion and politics was born what some people now describe as the American Taliban: an evangelical movement with the power to make government policy and war; to make your personal decisions for you, such as trying to set the terms of our relationships; and to define the idea of your family as something proprietary. In a sense, this development proved both the Progressives and the New Agers correct. Matters of faith and matters of public policy need to be blended carefully.

What a difference 30 years can make. There are now countless people whose political views are informed by self-awareness and their deeper spiritual beliefs, and people who are on spiritual paths who understand that action is the fruit of knowledge — meaning that some issues need to be seen in political context, and worked out in a political forum. This is less about an agenda and more about a process: of awareness, of participation, of contributing to the world as a means of creating a better world — and developing yourself in the process.

If we want a better society, and if we want world peace, and if we want to protect the environment for the next generations who come after us — if we think these things will make us happy — imagine that — then we need to use every available channel, draw from every method. I call the people who understand this Spiritual Progressives. You are probably one of them.

How can you tell? You are a person of faith, and you believe in social justice.

You understand that the world begins with you, and you know that there’s work to be done in society — and you want to help because you’ll feel good and spread the vibes.

Part of your spiritual orientation is seeing that there’s not such a big difference between the ‘inner world’ and the ‘outer world’. There is you and your environment, in a relationship.

And you know that an approach based on love and awareness is precisely what politics needs. You’ve done all this learning and growing for something, millions of people have — and we all know that the time for action is now. Our civilization is infused with Spiritual Progressives, striving to put their knowledge to work, and to live in integrity.

Here’s a question: where do you see this viewpoint reflected in the world? Where do you go for ideas, for information and for a perspective on the news that takes this approach?

Planet Waves was designed specifically to satisfy a desire for cosmically aware news, informed by experience and learning. Writing that is based on supporting the connection between individuals, as that extends through our circles of friends. Writing that unfolds an approach to growth that understands that nothing less than our collective enlightenment is going to move the world to a more creative place. Doing this, we can help shift politics over the threshold where true progress can happen.

Based on a holistic view of life, Planet Waves is written with the understanding that we are sentient beings, capable of understanding the world — all of us — and we are integral to society.

Every day the world offers us the opportunity to bring our best gifts forward. We believe in you, and we want you to have the tools to make your way in the world. Drawing from a diverse set of resources — including astrology, an awareness of environmental science, a clear view of politics and an enlightened view of relationships — we offer you information and perspectives in our unique way, seeing the connections between seemingly different things.

Planet Waves is here at the right time — and we’re here for you. Take advantage of our amazing resources. Get started today.

Yours & truly,

Eric Francis

17 thoughts on “Are You a Spiritual Progressive?”

  1. Libra rising conjunct Uranus: yeah, I suppose so. Ascendant symbol: child offering birds a drink from a fountain. Uranus symbol: a man becoming aware of spiritual forces surrounding and assisting him. Yeah, I suppose as long as I get my dissing habit under control. But that’s part of what my gongfu is all about.

    But that’s only the surface. Chiron semi-squares my moon and squares my sun: weepy despair and snarling pessimism are common traps for such an arrangement. But hey, a Capricorn sun always takes a long time to learn how to pilot properly even if it’s nothing but trines and sextiles. Uranian energy only starts out as knee jerk rebellions against anything that reminds me of wicked teachers and snarling stepfathers. That’s another level of the gongfu: cooling off my head so the super computer in my skull can work at optimum levels. Uranus conjunct ascendant doesn’t have to cook my head if I’m aware enough of my qi field to regulate its responses. With Aries Chiron squaring my sun/mercury I’m sure thankful I got a martial arts brother when I was still young enough to benefit from his teaching.

    Speaking of which I need to go stand with trees. Having a buzzing computer this close to my qi field enhances the tendency to cook my head. Blessed be.

  2. hey fluidity —
    of course i mention those things in a “tip of the iceberg” sense — the idea being that starting with snowballs is less overwhelming than thinking one has to jump into an avalanche straight off.

    and of course, all the snowflakes are not going to look alike as it all coalesces…


    but yes, the reminder to ever-more active and creative actions is important; comfort zones get very… comfy.

  3. where i go, for the spiritual aspect of the progressive?


    zaporacle dot com

    evolver dot net

    i would say that zaporacle hit’s it the most on, even though it’s probably the least political

    i find a lot on both other sites (no disrespect meant) to be too much in the ‘spiritual’ without being really grounded in solid political understandings …

    evolver is all over the place, but not in the ‘radical politics’ so much (what passes for that there is mostly conspiracy stuff)

    and here, it is a good take on a lot of world events, but where’s the actual ‘activism’ (and again, no disrespect, but the whole ‘smiling’ / ‘voting’ / ‘writing letters’ are hopefully only a bit of the tip of the iceberg, that underneath is full of people attending meetings, planning campaigns and projects, creating propaganda, holding events, doing actions, learning, and whatever other less-stereotypical things that the movements are doing these days to organize)


  4. Just two quick things since I don’t have time to really digest this right now but you may be interested in:

    The Coming Evangelical Collapse by an evangelical minister in The Christian Science Monitor

    and by George Lakoff on framing

    1996. Moral politics : What Conservatives Know that Liberals Don’t, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 978-0226468051

    2008. The Political Mind : Why You Can’t Understand 21st-Century American Politics with an 18th-Century Brain, ISBN 978-0670019274

  5. My parents were Mother: libra/cancer moon, Father: scorpio /libra moon…. ( yes classic!)
    both had uranus in aquarus, & I would bet you serious money they both had Aquarius rising! Mom’s NN in aquarius conjunct uranus. I grew up dutifully, weekly, attending Presbyterian church singing in the Jr choir, Dad sang the tenor parts in Messiah………….music transcended church dogma…………..I couldn’t swallow the “predestination concept” so through H S community service, defected to the Quakers in my teens. Dad was Dem chair, Uncle was State Senator…………..
    There you have it; the makings of a Spiritual Progressive!
    I can’t NOT be active……………and I am finding with love, & the proper framing… CAN educate, turn on the light bulb…………..I am helping a few…… the light.

  6. Eric,

    I am 100% for what you said…change comes from within and action. If everyone would use the “gifts” that have been bestowed upon them we could see change rapidly…something from Gandhi “I am too conscious of the imperfections of the species to which I belong to be irritated against any member thereof. My remedy is to deal with the wrong wherever I see it, not to hurt the wrongdoer; even as I would not like to be hurt for the wrongs I continually do.” Just movin’ the Yin into the Yang…continuous flow, until it’s all stirred up and you don’t see the separation….just one big batch of LOVE! Peace!


  7. “Goldberg, Behar walk off ‘View’ set during O’Reilly interview”

    As the cast debated whether there should be a community center and mosque built in Lower Manhattan, O’Reilly declared that “Muslims killed us on 9/11” to back up his position that it’s “inappropriate.”

    “Oh my God!” Goldberg responded, before uttering a few words bleeped out.

    “Muslims didn’t kill us on 9/11?” O’Reilly responded. “Is that what you’re saying?”

    Goldberg called O’Reilly an “extremist” as several of the co-hosts responded to O’Reilly’s statement that “Muslims” — and not Muslim radicals, extremists or terrorists — killed “us” on 9/11.

  8. Eric –

    The belief that we are human beings and therefore capable of more consciousness is ancient.

    Example of spiritual political action: a village in India where every inhabitant was a serious spiritual practitioner – meditation and you name it – heard that they were about to be beseiged and colonized by the English army. Overnight, rather than experience battle, humiliation and enslavement, the entire village from the old down to the children, intentionally died. The British commander wrote in his diary that he had never felt so bad in his entire life. This story makes people in ex colonies laugh very hard because it reveals the deep ignorance colonizers had of spirituality – colonialism itself is the evidence of a lack of spiritual development.

    Unbiased knowledge of human nature paired with gentleness and benevolence towards human nature is the basis for true spirituality.


  9. “There are now countless people whose political views are informed by self-awareness and their deeper spiritual beliefs, and people who are on spiritual paths who understand that action is the fruit of knowledge.”


    and i think that “actions” as simple as smiling at strangers with an open heart (i think we underestimate how profound an effect that can have) to more tangible actions such as voting, volunteering, writing a letter to an editor/politician all work together on multiple levels of the same puzzle. they feed each other.

    for me, i see as an essential part of the equation the consideration of “whole” and not just “sides” and polarities. it is a struggle, especially in the political realm. but i think that is where all of this spiritual work on self may have the most effect and be most needed: recognizing our many facets as part of a single being, reconciling our own internal fractures… rippling out to seeing and empathizing with the same in others, individually and then culturally… to bridge the gap between our separate egos and our source, our oneness.

    it seems the hard part is often remembering what we are working/fighting *for*, rather than fixating on what we are *against*, since that only reinforces the divide on all levels. anything that gives us something to react against reinforces polarity and division, i suspect internally as well as socially.

    it’s a tactic many seem to wield with considerable skill, and the political left seems to often find itself on the defensive these days. so, do we need to dig ourselves out of the defensive pit & “win” those battles before we go back on the positive campaign for love and unity? or can we just get going on the latter and let it diffuse the former? i’m not sure.

    or maybe that “either/or” question is another false division?

    what i do know is that when i experience a community of acceptance and openness and love, and allow myself to surrender to that sense of love and generosity completely, some wonderful things happen. i feel better about myself and am more prone to patience, clarity and to be less hard on myself, more loving and forgiving. my intuition and my ability to hear it and act on it spike. and i am better able to carry that sense back out in to the world via tangible actions — whether a spontaneous kindness toward a hurting stranger or a piece of writing or some form of giving back to those who have nourished me in some way.

    so, yes. “spiritual progressiveness” may start within, but it continues ever-outward.

  10. Anyone remember Karl Marx and his concept of Alienation?

    Accordingly, the Capitalist Mode of Production, sees workers forfeit their self-determination because they are denied, through time and process, a sustainable concept of self as an actor with power to change things; to define their relationship to others; and vitally to take ownership of that which is produced by their actions. Instead, workers are merely directed into goals and actions prescribed by the elite (who just happen to own the means of production) so as to extract maximum surplus value from said workers in a world not owned by them in any way.

    Alienation is also estrangement and this is from self and other. We can also see this as fragmentation or dislocation. Too much of this, for too long, brings the death of ideals and the birth of apathy.

    To prevent this attrition, people need to connect. Marx and Engels conceived and brought forth the ideological basis for the Union of the Proletariat. That is Ancient History of course.

    Now let’s zoom into the late 20th Century, Gene Roddenberry and another form of Union (a toxic one). We can all relate, I’m sure, to the concept of The Borg, that so gripped our Sci-Fi imagination in Star Trek.

    “We will add your distinctiveness to our own” was the mantra, which was their process of assimilation. Beautiful celluloid construct. We will add your distinctiveness, but this means you will lose yourself and moreover we won’t really change as a result.

    Diversity assimilated, condensed, canned. Self lost.

    So Mr Francis and his Piscean idealism are inviting you someplace. Where??

    – To that place where you can connect: Big Brother Borg on the other hand, will assimilate you; consume you; cast your shell aside.

    You need to ask yourself if you wish to participate. Everyone needs somewhere to place their feet, kick them up and relax sometimes. Other times they need to be able to speak and know that their voice can be heard.

    How much do you care? Sometimes we don’t.. because we get worn down. But I’ll say this: A tree is a bad place to seek shelter in an electric storm.

    Spiritual Progressives will always need nutrition. You can live on an island of estrangement if you so choose but maybe, just maybe, there is an oasis in cyberspace. Think about it. Intelligent, well-researched, conscientious, driven, ethical, relevant, participative growth potential – in reach of your fingertips.

    Is it sensible in this world of perpetual change to be a Spiritual Progressive on an island, humming mantras, and waiting for Jesus to come back – or can you invest in yourself and in your world by supporting the Waves of sustainable loving action that our Planet so badly needs?

    Yep, Planet Waves..

    If this sounds like an advertisement.. it is. I simply can’t be more honest than that. Only you need to decide “for what?”

    Remember Alienation, Estrangement. Marx was spot on. But where have we reached today and what shall we do? Think about it! Self lost could become Self retrieved. The story’s outcome is surely in our hands.


  11. Hello Eric,

    I do so much love that term/title/label/phrase. As a bit of a family outcast, having been called many things, I now have a response. I am a spiritual progressive. The fun I will have at the next family get together. Priceless! The family unit is strict Roman Catholic.

    Be well brother,


  12. You really write/speak to the beat of the collective drum Eric. And I think we’re all thinking or taking steps on the questions of how to bring our spiritual understandings, or current state of consciousness, whatever or where ever that is, to the political front, the economic front, the environmental circumstances we are all facing currently. Someone on Facebook posted a YouTube piece about “it’s time to let go of religion”, the structure of it, and join together with the essence or common truths’ of religious forms…. the Dalai Lama has been saying something similar while he maintains his Buddhism. he says some practices and teachings dissolve while others apply right now. we have to let go of some and apply others. and we each have to listen inside ourselves for the answers. everyone is becoming “a star” on FB, Tw, Youtube… maybe to realize eventually we are all stars and the guru is within, the connection to the “ultimate” is within. that is a great choice and it is a challenging road to trust when one has followed a religion, a teacher, a guru. one’s feet and legs can feel real wobbly at times. Uranus & Jupiter in Pisces bringing us all kind of paradox, illusion, mystery.

    another interesting “piece of the puzzle” is ego and polarity and the inherent nature of human beings to polarize in the journey of life, that is part of what makes magnets work, the world go round. how do we find non-duality on the political stage? how do we bring it there? how do we really reach Obama and those who are making political decisions? things are moving fast, the recession and depression is deepening much faster than political choices that can change the economics are being made. and it certainly isn’t abut economics, and at the same time people paying their mortgage, rent, bills…. is about economics and politics! what parts of the process do we engage internally, shamanically, meditatively if the outer world really is a reflection of our inner worlds, and what part do we engage externally? how much time do we spend in one place or the other in a day?

    These are some of the questions I see people asking, while doing what we are each called to do at any given moment, whether that is watering the garden, taking out the trash, calling or writing to our congressman/woman, holding the hand of a dying friend, doing our job, paying our bills hopefully and while juggling timing, teaching a workshop, writing a blog, whatever it is we do… all the while releasing ourselves from our attachments bit by bit. Some say we are all One and that behind all of the ongoings of our lives we are inseparable from stillness, silence, emptiness. How can we rest with this when our outer world is in such a state?

  13. There is this very moment a highly-animated argument on Astrodienst about ‘whether or not Utopia exists.’

    It has not been pronounced, but there is a little polarisation taking place between thosewho think you have to change things politically, and those who think that you haveto change the consciousness of individuals.

    It was in the 80’s when I saw this polarisation at its most – well, polarised. There was a real divide between what the political activists I encountered disparagingly called ‘mystics, whilst amongthe ‘mystics’ or New Agers I encountered the just -as dogmatic notion that ‘we all create our ownreality, so any kind of injustice/poverty/misfortune/illness encountered is alldown to your own nagativity or victimmentality.

    Do me a favour. I graduated in 1981, at a time when there were 500 graduates to one job, with a family that did automatically decide that I was a scrounger. I was disappointed to find this right-wing bigotry among the so-called New Age of Peace and Love – and encountered worse than the kind of sollipsism that declares, for example, that any one puny soul anywhere can wilfully create Wall St Crashes or tsumanis.

    I found most activists just as bigoted in other ways, however. Yes, there was no time for ‘mystic crap’ such as tarot cards, crystal balls and horoscopes, and I did disconcertingly enounter the kind of extremist who seemed to revel in the idea of ‘violent, bloody revolution’ and killing a few people along the way.

    More often, it seemed to be about more and more in-groups of ever-further splintering factions, where it could be very easy to be exclusded as ‘bourgeois’ if you wore the wrong clothes, or had the wrong drinking tastes and habits, let along ideologies. So well….Great Minds and All That…..

    I am trying to explore these ideas in my own piece, ‘Full-time Dreamers’ though this piece is still under revision.

    But now itis time to look to a Way Forward,hopefullywith a perspectivethatis a little less polarised. I believe there are astrologers who think the split is between Uranus and Neptune – Marx had this conjunction on the MC for example and now there is a new generation of Uranus/Neptune kids growing up – Marx also had Eris rising in Aquarius, that might have squared his New Moon too.

  14. I’ve often heard amongst spiritual circles that one “must be in the world but not of it.” I think I know where that comes from, but that same idiom has also released some people who call themselves spiritual from their responsibility to the rest of us on the ground. I think we need to re-define that term “in the world but not of it” and change it to “be in and of the world”.

    This is not embracing materialism, but honoring the very material of the world: its natural resources, its people, their cultures and traditions, and the physical health of all. I think being spiritually progressive means you honor the world upon which we live, you honor the body that you inhabit. You honor the individuality of the bodies in your community: family, city, county, nation, world. You recognize the value of each and every life.

    When I write about politics here, I do not place it separate from a spiritual reality. In fact politics has a direct relationship to our lives in our bodies which house our spirit, here on the ground, and some policies and some leaders are too far removed “from the ground” to make or enforce laws with integrity or provide for the common good.

    The Common Good – I think that was a term used by our forefathers when they established the republic. That was followed soon after by The Public Trust. Those terms have their roots in respect for, diligence in maintaining and adherence to an enlightened form of civilization.

    This is why what we talk about here, what I try to do here as a Planet Waves writer is to wake us up to the spiritual aspects of our responsibilities as a community – which includes our government which springs from ourselves. Our representative democracy. If anyone tries to convince us that this is anything less, that they will make these decisions for us — is dangerous to the very concept of a free and open republic.

    Being a spiritual progressive is to me to be openly and sincerely involved in the process of governing ourselves for the benefit of each other. Fulfilling our responsibility in maintaining The Common Good. Locally and globally.

  15. This piece pretty much sums up why I’m a member of the Planet Waves community.

    Today — October 14, 2010 — is my first Saturn return.

  16. Thank you, Eric. Good, sound evaluation of recent history. Reasoned but passionate call to your tribe of choice. Sane and sensible and that’s a nice alternative to have.

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