Perhaps the most essential way to bring about a better future is to begin to live every day consciously treating all beings, including the Earth, as if they were truly sacred, a unique and inherently worthy part of the cosmos. Consider what a world would be like if everyone assumed that they and every living being, and the Earth Herself, were sacred — no violence, adequate resources for all, environmental sustainability, peace, and justice. Clearly, the lack of acceptance of equal sacredness is a public health problem, a social problem, a political problem, an economic problem, and an environmental problem.
Conversely, try to imagine a utopian world without a focus on everyone being sacred. It has no spiritual center, no underlying unity, no absolute reason why people should behave in a peaceful and egalitarian way that sustains the Earth and all members of the community.
Treating all beings as sacred on a daily basis isn’t as easy as it sounds, even though I would normally say “of course I believe all beings are sacred.” I find that I have to constantly re-orient myself from thinking in narrow ways about people. I have to stop myself and remember, if someone is causing difficulty, “this person is sacred,” and almost always when I switch my perspective, the difficulty becomes much easier to resolve. It means taking real time, listening deeply, and not judging people for needing help. It means meeting people where they are and realizing that whoever I am interacting with may be carrying immense burdens and doing the best they can to be a good person, however they define that.
It also isn’t easy realizing that we are sacred ourselves. Even though I had grown up in an environment that affirmed my sacredness, it was only when I saw Diane Wolkstein perform Inanna that the reality that all of me, including that part of me for whom being female is essential, was sacred and participated in the Divine.
Knowing the sacredness of all beings, including ourselves, is not something that just comes from our upbringing or a one-time epiphany. It is a lifelong process and adventure to fully understand what this means. My writing is one way I do this exploration for myself.
All my writing touches on the belief that the most important thing we can every day is treat every living being as sacred. The work that dives into this most deeply is a novel I wrote and self-published in 2009 titled The Temple of the Subway Goddess, about how a photographer living in the East Village in the 1980s and the spirit of an ancient Goddess priestess build a temple in a rundown park in which all people see their own faces in the Divine. You are welcome to download it for free (or purchase a print copy if you prefer) from Lulu press by clicking the link below.
Of course, compassion is deeply related to treating all beings as sacred. Here is a story about a burned out Goddess of Compassion who finally gets a little help from humanity.
And friendship is another essential way we show others that we see them as sacred. This is a poem written in honor of a group of friends who have connected entirely by message board, telephone, email, and holiday cards for many years under the name The Bakery.
You are invited to go to the next and last chapter, The Ocean Refuses No River.
You may also go to other chapters by clicking the links below, or back to the Library using the link in the menu above.