There are many reasons people come to live in the Sunrise Ranch spiritual community. Perhaps first and foremost among them is the desire to get oneself together, to find a spiritual path that provides a sense of personal fulfillment and well-being. Others come here to experience the social life and the diversity of relationships that a community makes possible. Given the dearth of attractive job opportunities in the present U.S. economy, some come simply to get a paying job or to develop a job skill by working on a ranch. Maybe some come simply to consume our delicious food or to bask in the awesome scenery of Eden Valley. And some are just drawn by the mystique associated with living in a spiritual community.
None of these reasons applied when I came to live at Sunrise in early 1971. I came for one reason and for one reason only: to further a mission that I had defined for myself fourteen years earlier at the age of twelve: “I am here to serve God and to help God save the world.” The leaders at Sunrise spoke in terms of “the restoration” and “the transformation of the body of mankind,” something I could really resonate with. And I saw how working with a group of people could generate more vibrational power in furtherance of the mission than I could alone.
Commitment to a mission that is larger than itself is absolutely essential to the vitality and success of any spiritual community. David Karchere, spiritual director of Sunrise Ranch, makes this very clear in his article “What Creates a Thriving Community?”
When any community limits its sense of mission to its own survival and contentment, it begins to die. If you want to have a thriving community, it has to be for something larger than itself. Sunrise Ranch is for people who live here, so we do look to be of service to each other. But Sunrise Ranch is in service to a larger reality and a larger world. If the mission is neglected, it leads to the death of community, because truly noble, inspired people are interested in a noble and inspiring mission.
Every day I receive emails from groups or individuals offering what amounts to self-help. Here is a typical example from an email I received yesterday:
What if there was an easier way to manifest what you most want to create in your life? In this one-hour free webinar you’ll share key insights on healing, manifesting and becoming aware of the subtle vibrations within your own energy field — clearing blockages that create imbalances, chronic conditions and even block you from financial abundance!
I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t get ourselves together spiritually, mentally, emotionally and materially. An integrated and whole person is better equipped for world service. But when focus is consistently introverted and self-oriented, an individual can descend into a kind of pathological self-concern that overrides any larger sense of mission. And it follows that a community primarily composed of these kinds of introverted and self-focused individuals tends to become narrow and self-serving itself.
There was a group that was scheduled to come to Sunrise for a conference but found it necessary to cancel. However, I was impressed by the name of the event: So You’re Awake, Now What? In the initial stage of awakening spiritually, it is certainly necessary to do some concentrated internal work on yourself—clearing blockages, focused meditation, finding your grounding as a Creator Being, etc. But having awakened, now what? Surely this is a fertile time to focus on the larger planetary mission for which you incarnated.
Even if I should succeed in “clearing blockages that create imbalances” and developing a relatively creative spiritual life that includes “financial abundance,” my self-healing cannot be complete as long as the larger body of humanity is suffering from a multitude of imbalances and dysfunctionalities. For we are all one; a primal bond links us all together. And, as it has been stated, “As long as any are bound, none are free.” So obviously, it is even in my personal self-interest to serve a larger mission.
In order to avoid spiritual narcissism and keep myself focused on the larger planetary mission, I deliberately take in a number of radio and television newscasts and talk shows every day. Yes, many of the stories are about terrorist attacks, natural disasters, environmental destruction and political gridlock. If I dare to mention one of these things at a lunch-table conversation, I sometimes get the reaction: “Oh, I can’t be bothered with that; it just brings me down. I never watch a newscast.”
Is our consciousness really that fragile? Is our spiritual practice really that susceptible to disturbance? Do you really think self-healing is enhanced by isolation from the rest of the world? That’s not my experience. When I listen to a story about a shooting or the damage done by a hurricane, a radiant current of blessing and compassion is activated that actually strengthens my spiritual centering.
By the way, one spiritual leader I really admire for linking personal spiritual practice with a larger planetary mission is David Nicol. He calls his approach “subtle activism” and describes it in his book “Subtle Activism: The Inner Dimension of Social and Planetary Transformation.”
David T. Nicol introduces the concept of “subtle activism” to describe the use of consciousness-based practices like meditation and prayer to support collective transformation, such as global meditation directed toward peaceful resolution of a conflict. Subtle activism represents a bridge between the consciousness movement and the movements for peace, environmental sustainability, and social justice. It is not a substitute for physical action but rather a potentially crucial component of a more integrated approach to social change.
How good to support a movement that directly and powerfully links the planetary with the personal. This is certainly my purpose and I hope it will always be the primary purpose of the Sunrise Ranch community. And yet David Karchere, in the article quoted above, refers to an earlier time when people living here seemed indifferent to the mission.
There were people who just didn’t care about the mission of Sunrise Ranch, which is the spiritual regeneration of humankind. That’s why we’re here! That’s why I’m here. That’s why many of us are here. Even today, there are people who come to Sunrise Ranch who don’t care about that. … But there are actually some of us here who are very intent and focused on our mission. We are dedicated to it. And we don’t keep the mission of Sunrise Ranch a secret, either.
“The spiritual regeneration of humanity.” This states it very clearly and succinctly. Another way of wording it came out of our strategic planning process: “To create a clear and committed body of people around the globe who embody the presence of divine being and bring a profound teaching that transforms the world.” Surely it is passionate commitment to this mission that creates a thriving spiritual community.