[NB: First published in June 2009]
This column is the first public announcement about a hugely ambitious project. It is appearing first in Cygnus because you, dear readers, are at the heart of it. From one perspective, this project is yours.
Over the coming months, the non-profit Foundation for Holistic Spirituality and HolisticMap UK will be launched.
Their purpose is to integrate our approach to spirituality – open-hearted, open-minded, holistic – into mainstream society. We are particularly aiming at healthcare, education, social services and citizenship.
Our purpose is also to achieve representation on all those decision-making and consultative bodies where traditional religions have a voice – for example, interfaith, religious education committees, pastoral care and chaplaincies.
Working solidly together for the last two years, my friend Nigel Anthony and I have created the foundation and the website infrastructure for this project. We now need your active involvement, love and support.
Showing our numbers
Several times over the last decade I have represented a holistic and new age approach at conferences and in the media, and have often been told, ‘Yes, it seems like there is a substantial movement – but where are the numbers, the core beliefs and the ethical code?’ In one academic description of this new spirituality, the author actually suggests that we have no chance of getting heard because it is doubtful that we can network and organise. Let’s surprise him.
Our first major strategy – in order to achieve representation and be heard – is to show our numbers. To achieve this we have created a website that functions like a holistic yellow pages and can list and map all holistic and spiritual activities in the United Kingdom. Please register on it and get your friends to sign up too.
I know, of course, that organising spirituality can be risky. Power games and dogma can hijack the golden essence. But I believe that we can avoid this as long as we stay humble, self-reflective and transparent.
Many of you will know that much of my life is dedicated to dismantling sacred cows. My heart is with Groucho Marx who, having finally been accepted as a member of an exclusive club, resigned immediately saying that he could never join a club that would have someone like him as a member. I am with Groucho. Let me assure you that if this project ever looks like it is duplicating religious pomp and dogma, I will be the first to press the self-destruct button.
Choosing to engage
Why then am I helping to initiate this project?
My passion is modern spirituality. I love its inclusivity and diversity, its focus on personal experience and how it integrates with healthcare and personal development, environmentalism and social justice. In particular I love the great waves of benevolent energy, grace and healing that flood through existence; and the many strategies for grounding them into earth and humanity.
I passionately believe that a holistic approach to spirituality has huge benefits to give the modern world. I believe that our work – yours and mine – is now to land this new approach into mainstream society.
For a while, however, I was complacent about this mission – until I shocked myself into action. The shock occurred at a new age conference at Findhorn several years ago when I was unwittingly rude to the audience. I heard myself scolding the audience for having put on their slippers and become armchair commentators and critics. I reminded them of a quotation from the African liberationist, Franz Fanon, who said that the greatest tragedy for any generation was to not fulfil its mission.
My presentation received a lukewarm reception. The event upset me and I reflected on it and my behaviour. Was I actually the one who had disengaged? Was I telling other people to do what I ought to be doing? I pondered my life choices. I had two options. Retreat and start a meditation retreat centre. Or engage. I chose engagement.
Our generation’s mission has progressed well. We have almost completed stage one. In this first stage, we birthed the new spirituality – healing, metaphysics, shamanism, tribal, dance, psycho-spirituality, feminist/goddess spirituality, eco-spirituality and many other good things too.
Now we need to ground all this within mainstream society.
Having made my personal decision to engage with this work, steam pouring from my brain and out of my ears, I started to think hard. I urgently wrote a book to clarify my thoughts and describe the new movement, Soulution: the Holistic Manifesto. It was written intensely and combined spirituality, psychology and politics. It is not a fluffy book, but a wrestle and it could have been better structured, more personal and more friendly. But it was a great process of clarification.
I then met Nigel at a big green gathering. An accountant and international consultant, he had had an awakening in the Australian rain forest and was now running a vegetarian cafe and spiritual centre in Swansea. We share the same birthday, but are very different. He is Cliff Richard to my Groucho Marx. I found his work inspiring as he shared with me how he had been integrating contemporary spirituality into Interfaith and the community of Swansea. We share the same passion – as I know many of you do too. Nigel’s mantra was very simple: make spirituality a normal part of everyday life.
So as two clever-dick Aquarians we began to work on this project. We have now put in two years of hard graft, sometimes sixty hours a week. We have clarified values, concepts and structures. We have a real sense that something very big is seeking to land here, and Nigel and I alone are not enough to manage it all.
We now need to build a team, bring in new partners (we are having very enjoyable talks with Ann and Geoff of Cygnus about our future collaboration) and manifest a wave of support to enable next steps. We want to build an organisation that has the status, integrity and influence of an Oxfam or Greenpeace.
If you are online, please visit our websites www.holisticmap.org andwww.f4hs.org (short for Foundation for Holistic Spirituality). There you will see what we are doing and what you can do too. You can write to us at: William Bloom, PO Box 3662, Glastonbury, BA6 8ZY
Or you can telephone us on 07940 001394.
All my love,