Are You an Innie or an Outie?

Simon Shadowlight
No, I’m not talking about belly buttons. Rather, what is your go-to mode when it comes to making a difference in the world, specifically within the context of environmental awareness and your relationship with the natural world? Are you inclined to the inner response or are you inclined to the outer response?

One way of looking at social transformation is through the eyes of the inner response and the outer response. Without getting too picky about definitions and semantics, by the term “inner response,” I mean all the work done within oneself that is primarily intended to transform us: the ongoing examinations and contemplations of our beliefs and the mental work we do with the creative process; the examination of our values, our passions, our feelings, our habits and biases; all the work we do around aligning with spiritual values and practices (i.e., prayer, meditation, visualization, imagination, etc.); our somatic-body work with the breath, movement as a spiritual practice, etc.

By the term “outer response,” I mean the actions and behaviors we take outside of our self that either demonstrate living in accord and alignment with our inner values (i.e., I buy an electric vehicle so that I reduce my carbon footprint) or which are primarily intended to transform the physical world, society in general, and various societal institutions and organizations: (i.e., organizing, advocacy, activism, etc.)

To be clear: I see both of these as indispensable aspects of the whole; two-sides of the same coin. In Religious Science we are encouraged to “Treat and move your feet” which alludes to this partnership of doing one’s work within the self and, from that space, being called into action within the material world (i.e., we offer the prayer and we become the vehicle through which the prayer is realized in the world).

The remainder of this article addresses why I envision the future of our Sacred Earth ministry as focusing primarily on the inner response. I do want to emphasis that, even while I’m suggesting that Sacred Earth focus on the inner response, I completely understand the importance of outer action and I encourage all who are called in that direction to find the organizations or groups that are already doing that work as their primary mission and get involved. I have included some of the major players doing that work, many of which have a local group or chapter in the Denver metro area.

There are a number of reasons I am emphasizing the inner work for this community:

Reason 1:

It’s consistent with what we teach, which is, all things begin in mind… in the unseen (inner) realm. Too often people discount the inner (“We need your action not your thoughts and prayers”). But if you truly consider yourself a student of mental science as taught within Religious Science and the larger New Thought Movement, that’s a bit of an affront. All things originate from within the unseen realm, the one mind, the realm of the ideal. Nothing is created in form that is not first created and accepted in mind. It is literally the most important thing that we—as students of mental science—can be doing.

Why? Because we will not influence lasting transformation by simply acting within the world of conditions and form. We might have small victories but those can always be held-up, minimized, overruled, overturned, nullified, thrown out, or circumvented. We will not transform the world or our species until consciousness is transformed > until we—on the species level—re-envision our relationship with the Earth and all of creation. No lasting change will happen while our species continues to believe in and live by a narrative in which we are separate from the “natural world” and act in ways that are non-sustainable and regenerative. Transformation and lasting change will only occur as it demonstrates an alignment with and expression of the dominate consciousness.

I’ll say it one more time: Yes, outer work plays a crucial role in bringing forth that realized consciousness and narrative, and transforming the world but that must first be built on a solid foundation of inner work or it will not endure.

Reason 2:

There are plenty of groups that are focusing on and are very effective with “the outer response.” There are not as many who are focusing on the inner work (that I am aware of). I am looking and am finding some but, it’s not as common. There are numerous faith-based groups involved with environmental work but often they are not doing the work from a spiritual basis of actually shifting things in consciousness as a necessary precursor to external change. Often the focus is on getting more people involved with “the cause.” Often the church is seen as a pool of potentially sympathetic folks who need to be informed and called into organizing and activism from the moral stand point of their theology. There is nothing wrong with that but it illustrates the tendency to gravitate toward the outer response even when you are a spiritual organization. (NOTE: this is not the case with all faith-based environmental groups—i.e., see the One Earth Sangha below—but it is a very common expression for these groups. Part of my efforts are to continually seek and share information on those who are (first or primarily) emphasizing the inner response).

Reason 3:

The problems we face today regarding the environment (it’s not just about climate) are not problems of carbon emissions, recycling, industrialization, etc. Those are simply the effects through which the real problem is being demonstrated. The core and cause of the problem is a belief that our species is somehow separate from “the natural world”—the planet itself and the rest of creation—and that, my friends, is a spiritual problem… a spiritual crisis. Strangely enough, the belief in separation is EXACTLY what Dr. Ernest Holmes saw as the cause of ALL our problems.

OK… enough ranting. This is why I have come to a conclusion that our primary work as a spiritual community in the face of the environmental problems we are facing is to “reveal the truth” and work towards shifting the consciousness of our entire species. It’s what we do best, it’s the purpose of the Science of Mind, and there are not enough others doing this work (IMO). If you are aware of other faith or spiritual-based groups who are doing inner, spiritual work to address the concerns of our environment, please send me the information.

What can you look forward to from this ministry?

For now, we will continue to hold our monthly meetings on the second Wednesday from 5:45 – 6:45. Rev. Zimeria has a great love for this work and may be joining us as well, hopefully becoming an equally active part of this ministry. We are shifting the emphasis onto spiritual practice with the bulk of the one-hour meeting geared toward that. I also want to allow some open time for discussion and connection. I’m committed to this time for the remained of the year. Beginning in 2022, we may adjust the time and day.

Moving forward, I’m interested in expanding the spiritual practice for the environment to a weekly basis. We’ll see what the interest level is and may offer different weekly times so more people can join. Likewise, as COVID recedes, we’ll look for ways we can come together to celebrate our successes and grieve our perceived losses (i.e., ritual, celebrations, community action, book circles, etc.).

I’m committed to maintaining the newsletter for at least 6-months. I’m open to feedback and we’ll assess its value after that time. The newsletter itself will focus on spiritual practice and the inner response but I also want to provide information on the outer response for those who are also looking for opportunities for that expression.

OK. If you stuck with me this long, congratulations. If you know of others who resonate with this approach, please pass along the information. Let’s see what we can bring forth into the world. Thank you for all of the ways in which you are called to make a difference.

Peace and blessings,
Rev. Simon