David Spangler

Subtle Activism: An Interview with David Spangler (Part 4)

Interview By Annabel Chiarelli

ANNABEL: Can you elaborate on the difference between “spiritual bypassing” and true subtle activism?

DAVID: There is no question that people can use ideas like subtle activism, prayer, “sending Light and Love,” and so on as a way to bypass the reality of a situation or to avoid having to take any kind of physical action while still feeling good about themselves for having done something positive. The problem here is the same as with those who are materialists and only see physical actions as having any value. Neither one, the denier and the bypasser, is fully accepting, much less understanding, the reality of the subtle worlds or of subtle energies. And given the nature of our culture and what is considered normative, I can understand why.

If you walk into a room where there has been emotional or physical abuse and violence, you can feel the tension in the atmosphere even if there is no physical evidence of anything that’s taken place there. Something in you tightens up and constricts. Conversely, if you walk into a room that has been filled with love and grace and goodwill, you can feel that as well. You enjoy being in that room; something in you relaxes and opens up. These are common experiences, often overlooked because we don’t pay attention to them or just shrug them off. But the fact is, we all experience subtle environments and energies even if we don’t talk about them or understand them.

Here’s a little story. A friend of mine decided to try an experiment. She had a small office in a large office building that was headquarters to a corporation.  Each morning when she came to work, she would take time to do a simple ritual in her office, blessing everything in it and asking that this room be a haven of peace and love throughout the day for anyone entering it. She did this faithfully each day. Soon she discovered, to her secret amusement, that people were coming into her office who had no reason to be there or to see her. They were even coming from different floors of the office building.  When she asked them what she could do for them, they often couldn’t say why they had dropped in. One man said, “I’m not sure why, but I suddenly felt like I wanted to come in here.  It feels so good in your office, it makes my day!” They were all responding to the subtle energies she was consistently invoking into this room, but none of her co-workers understood what was happening. They just knew they liked the “feel” of the place and that they felt better through the day afterward for having visited her.

I know others who have done similar things. Another friend, put in charge of the dairy section of a supermarket, also made a point of blessing everything in that part of the store for which he was responsible. He said he would discover customers just standing amidst the displays of milk and cheese, not buying anything, but just bemusedly enjoying the atmosphere they felt there.

In both of these cases, these individuals were doing a kind of subtle activism. They were deliberately shaping and informing the subtle environment where they worked so that it would be a blessing to anyone entering it. And they did this not by thinking to themselves, “Oh, I want this room to be filled with Light and love,” but by exercising a discipline of daily invocation, mindfulness, and a loving attention to the physical surroundings. In other words, they worked at it, and the effect built up over time.

Another important element that separates a true subtle activist from a spiritual bypasser is that he or she is not doing the work to help themselves feel better.  One doesn’t enter into or walk away from an act of subtle outreach thinking, “Oh, how wonderful of me to send these blessings,” or “I feel good for having done something positive for the world.” There’s no ego involved in the process. It’s not about you, it’s about the other; the emphasis is on the service. It’s about holding in oneself, in a disciplined way that involves mind, emotions, and body, the qualities you want to pass on to a specific subtle environment or to the energy field of another person.  And because a true subtle activist recognizes that the world is a whole--not a physical world and a subtle world, but one world with physical and subtle aspects—they are open to physical actions they can take as well, even if it’s only making a financial donation to help a cause connected to their subtle work.

Now, one of the characteristics of the subtle realms is how responsive they are to thought.  So it’s entirely possible that a simple, selfless thought of goodwill and compassion for someone else can set into motion a cascade of subtle energies that indeed end up blessing and energizing that person. Subtle activism need not always be a “project” requiring focused time and attention. But there’s nothing facile about it, either. Generally speaking, I need to invest time, energy, disciplined and clear intention, and sometimes even physical actions to make it work. At its most basic, I have to be—in my mind, my emotions, and in the felt sense in my body—the qualities I wish to offer to a specific subtle environment or to a person. And that can take work. You can’t just “send” love. You have to be love in that moment. You can’t just “send” peace. You have to be peaceful in that moment. You are what you “send,” and to come to the proper or appropriate inner state can take work on your part.

I cannot stress enough, or repeat enough, that the world is woven out of both subtle and physical elements, and that we live in both and are ourselves made of both. We always act in the world as both physical and subtle beings, even though we may not be aware of it because our attention gets so focused on the material side of things. The best subtle activism understands this and acts in both realms; it really should be called “holistic activism” incorporating both physical and subtle actions as appropriate. And a skilled holistic activist knows what can and cannot be accomplished in both realms. Subtle work of thought, subtle energy, and spirit cannot move the rubble off a little girl buried when her house was hit by an artillery shell. Someone has to physically move the stones.  But physical work can’t bring a burst of hope into the mind and heart of a Syrian doctor laboring under the most primitive conditions, without proper medicine or equipment; it cannot energize his spirit so that he can continue working without being burdened by a debilitating cloud of depression and negative energies. Each kind of activity, physical and subtle, has its proper place, and in a whole world, they operate best when blended together.

[David’s subtle colleague offers another contribution:]

SUBTLE COLLEAGUE: I’d like to add a word here to complement what you’ve said. What an incarnate person calls thought is to us on our level only partial thought. It is incomplete, especially when you define thought as something that goes on in your brain alone. Thought is much more than a mental activity.  Imagine your mind, your emotions, and your body as three aspects of a unified field. Thought to us is what is produced by this whole field, not simply by the mental portion of it. A thought is an expression of your whole being; if it originates only from your head, from your mind, it is incomplete. You might say it is one-third of a thought from our perspective.

This is why simply thinking about love or healing is often insufficient to make any difference in the etheric or subtle environment. This is especially true if this thinking has its origins not in compassion but in self-concern and self-aggrandizement, a desire to feel good about oneself for thinking in loving ways.  From our perspective it’s clear why this is so. The thought may be noble and worthy, but the emotional component moves in the opposite direction, away from the other who is in need and towards the neediness of the one doing the thinking.  And the body may not be involved at all; that is, there is no felt sense or sensation of the qualities represented by the thought.

For effective engagement with the subtle environment, you need to remember that you are a whole person and that you wish your “thought” to come from your unified field. You wish mind, emotion and body to all participate, each in its own way. And the body’s participation may be through sensation, through a felt sense of quality, or through actual movement and action, as dictated by the circumstances. However you do so, the body must be seen as being involved along with the mind and the feelings.

But there is another element which often goes unremarked. There is a fourth part to you that may be called “environmental.” This is the relationship you have with the world outside yourself. This relationship—the field of energy you form between yourself and the world—is as much part of your incarnation as your body or your mind.  So you might ask, how does the world think through me? How is my thought unfolded and shaped by my connection to the world around me?

So, if you are sending a thought of love and healing to a benighted part of the world, be aware of how that situation as a presence or as a force helping to draw that thought and its power out from you. To tap that force, you need to be connected as a field of energy with that situation, which means accepting it for the condition it’s in. You must see and accept the reality if you are to engage with it and if it is to “think through you,” so to speak, enhancing the thought-form from you that bears the qualities you wish to give.

To use a metaphor, if you had a friend who was injured and bears the scars of that injury, you cannot recoil from the scars if you are to embrace your friend with love. You cannot allow the sight of the scars to separate you from your friend. You have to accept him as he is now, scars and all, and then love can flow without obstruction. If you are going to use subtle energies to bring help to places that are filled with violence and darkness, you cannot deny or turn away from that darkness. It is part of what calls out the power and shape of your unified thought, do you see? If you can accept the tragedy inherent in a situation, then that situation can “think through you”  or join your thought to manifest the healing that it needs.

So, for us, thought is a product of mind, emotion, body, and environment all acting as a symbiotic and unified field of presence.

I leave you with my blessings.

DAVID: There’s one other thing. Not all of us are in a position to take physical actions or to make a physical contribution in a particular situation. I’m not in Aleppo, so I can’t physically move rubble or tend to the injured. Does this mean I am helpless or can’t make any kind of positive contribution?  No. If I understand the nature of subtle energies, which are not restricted by physical distance, then there are positive things I can do. Will they make a difference?  Maybe. I can’t guarantee it as there are too many variables, but I know that any energy of love or grace I can bring to a place like Aleppo, even from a distance using thought and spirit as the focusing and transmitting mechanisms, will not be wasted. It’s better than not offering any kind of blessing or prayer. After all, lifting the rubble off a little girl is not going to guarantee she will live, but it’s certainly better than leaving her buried. People in places like Aleppo can be buried under negative subtle energies; subtle activism, properly performed, can help lift this subtle rubble and give their spirits some breathing room for healing and re-energizing. Will it help?  It’s better than leaving them buried.

Subtle activism is not for the lazy or the spiritual bypassers, but it can be for people who have no other way of helping. Not everyone has the physical courage or the aptitude to wade into a dangerous situation, putting their lives at risk for the sake of others. We can’t all be “white hats” in Aleppo. But we can be “white hats” in the world we inhabit, which brings me to the final thing I want to say.

When we think of subtle activism, the word “activism” draws our minds to dangerous, challenging, or difficult situations in the world. But really, the greater challenge lies in the brokenness of our human way of doing things. The violence and suffering in a place like Aleppo exists because violence is endemic in the ways we approach our world; it permeates our thinking and ways of behavior. It doesn’t always have to take physical form. Emotional and mental abuse is everywhere. There is a tendency in modern society to treat people like things, and things can be discarded when they are of no further use or destroyed if they become an obstacle.

So opportunities for holistic activism—activism that draws on both our physical and subtle (i.e. our spiritual, mental, and emotional) aspects—are all around us. They are in our homes, in our jobs, in our places of shopping and entertainment. How much love, how much grace, how much blessing, how much compassion, how much goodwill and open-hearted listening and attentiveness do we bring to the others we meet, the others we work with, the others we live with? We are everyday through our physical and subtle actions shaping the subtle environments that affect us all. What world are we creating in our own backyards?

The true holistic activist knows that every day the world presents him or her with opportunities to heal, to mend, to bless, and to help, either physically or subtly, or best of all, in both ways. This is a discipline of daily awareness. It’s work, but it’s the only kind of work that will truly transform the world.

Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 of this interview.

Subtle Activism: An Interview with David Spangler (Part 3)

Interview By Annabel Chiarelli

ANNABEL: David, can you elaborate on the energetic quality of love that is distinct from how we experience it as an emotional and psychological state?

DAVID: Love as an energy is an affirmation of being and identity. At least, this is how I experience it. It affirms and reaffirms existence, like a part of God recognizing and greeting another part of God. Love is God saying, “You are Mine. You are part of me.” Yet, there is no sense of being absorbed into something larger. Rather, love enhances the sense of freedom, the freedom to be what you are and to explore and unfold your unique potentials.

When I feel love for my wife Julia, there is a sense of warmth, of security, of attraction, of appreciation, of bonding. All of these I experience as emotions within myself. Yet when I feel love from a being in the spiritual realms—from an Angel, say—there is none of this emotional response. Instead, I feel affirmed in my beingness and also affirmed as part of the whole community of divine life that permeates the cosmos. There is a sense of celebrating who I am. Of course, in my love for Julia, there is also this same celebration of her unique identity and beingness. In loving her, I want to affirm her identity and her freedom to be herself and to unfold her unique potentials.

On all levels, love is an act of blending. In our human sphere, this is often experienced as a sense of togetherness, a melding of mind and heart. In the spiritual realms, the energy of love becomes, as I said, a celebration of the other and through that celebration, a participation in the other’s beingness. In this sense, love is a portal into an experience of unity and wholeness.

Love as an energy gives me a foundation on which to stand by affirming my beingness and existence. From this place of standing, I am free to give and receive love as an emotion, to desire, to connect, to appreciate, to honor, to cherish…all those feelings we associate with loving.

Having said this, I hasten to add that this is one person’s perception. Love as a universal, cosmic force undoubtedly has qualities and manifestations far beyond my ability to perceive or comprehend. And I also want to add that in the energetic fields that correspond to human thought and feeling, the same fields in which “The Scream” can exist, love does manifest its energy as one of attraction, desire, and connection. It’s just that as our consciousness interacts with higher levels of being, we discover it’s much more than just that.
ANNABEL: Is it in part a holding of that indestructible potential for redemption?

DAVID: Yes, I think we could say that. After all, redemption is the affirmation and re-claiming of one’s true, sacred identity. It’s an affirmation of who we really are, and that affirmation is certainly an expression of love.

Everything that comes into existence possesses its own unique spiritual identity which then unfolds its potentials along whatever developmental track or tracks become appropriate for it or chosen by it. Love is the energy that recognizes and affirms that identity and empowers its sacred expression, by which I mean the expression of what is true for it as established by the circumstances of its emergence from the Generative Mystery. But along this developmental track, a being or identity may lose sight of who and what it is and become entangled in patterns not true to its nature. It becomes in some way broken, or broken away from its true nature. In a way, this is what evil is, the expression of a broken identity, an identity that has forgotten its basic nature. The redemptive power of love lies in its ability to recall a being to itself, to enable it to remember who it is and thus to become disentangled and whole from what has been limiting or distorting it. No being is ever so lost, so broken, so entangled that love cannot ultimately reach it, enable it to remember, and thus redeem it, though it may take a very long time for this to happen.

ANNABEL: How do we go about cultivating this energy of love within ourselves in our subtle activism work, particularly in the case of dealing with negative energies, people, and situations?

DAVID: Subtle energy work benefits from a clear perception of a situation. I would even say that it requires it. Indulging in wishful thinking or fantasy only makes matters more difficult as it can distort or weaken the subtle energies we wish to work with. So, if I see something that’s negative and that causes me to react, I need to be clear both about what I’m seeing and about my own reaction. I want to name what is happening as accurately as I can.

Let’s take a concrete example. There was a report on the news about the children being hurt and killed by the artillery and air attacks upon Aleppo in Syria. They showed a small girl, maybe three or four years old, being dug out of the rubble of her home and rushed to what passes for a hospital in that benighted city. All the rest of her family had been killed. My reaction was sorrow and grief for this child and for all the children and civilians being injured. I wanted to reach out with subtle energies to bless the little girl and also to bless and hold in love and vitality those “white hat” responders who day after day and night after night go to these piles of rubble that used to be homes and try to dig out survivors.
At the same time, there’s a war crime being committed; innocent civilians are the targets of air and artillery strikes for the purposes of generating terror. The people ordering and carrying out these strikes are directly to blame for the suffering they are inflicting, and I’m angry as hell with them. And I felt anger and grief as well that humanity allows such things to happen, fully acknowledging that I am part of this humanity and therefore share in our collective responsibility as a species.

Now, if I’m going to do an act of subtle outreach, I need to accept all these emotions I’m feeling: the grief, the sorrow, the anger. They are part of my energetic reality. And I have to accept the negative energies swirling around Aleppo. At the same time, I know that I don’t want any subtle energies I project to make matters worse.  I want to elevate the vibrations in the subtle environment, not coarsen them. This means I need to respond with love.

Here, I think, is where people get hung up. How can one respond with love unless one denies or suppresses the other emotions that are present, the grief, the anger, and so on? And just what can subtle activism do in this situation anyway? Might it not just be a fantasy I do in my head in order to feel I’m contributing in a positive way?

The last question is easily answered by anyone who knows that we simultaneously inhabit both a physical world and an energetic one. Subtle actions cannot replace physical ones, but the converse is also true: physical actions are enhanced in a supportive subtle environment. Now, if a person is a materialist who denies that anything other than the physical world exists, then none of this will make sense anyway. But for those of us who are aware of the energy environment, we know that its quality impacts its physical counterpart.

Now, it would be the height of arrogance and grandiosity for me to feel that I could change the whole subtle “atmosphere” around Aleppo. That is more than any one person can do. But I can contribute to changing the subtle environment around a person or a group of persons, and I can provide positive energies for other beings, Angelic beings, to use in their work as they do attempt to heal and transform the negativity in that place. So in seeking to bless the little girl and those who are trying to save children like her, I am not wasting my time.

However, I cannot bless her or them, or anyone else, if my own energy field is defined by anger, even though that anger is justified. So my first step is to acknowledge my anger and grief and any other negative emotions I may have, like a sense of helplessness in the face of such tragedy. Then I thank these feelings for heightening my awareness of the situation in Aleppo and connecting me to it emotionally and mentally. In a way, they have been messengers alerting me to trouble. But now they’ve done their job. Now a different set of thoughts and feelings must form the response, and these must be based in love. The reason energetically is very simple: love-based energies cannot be hijacked and co-opted by any negative elements active in the subtle environment around Aleppo. Angry energies could be; fearful or hateful energies could be. But love cannot. It’s like a heavily armored convoy that cannot be attacked and can deliver the goods.

So my next step is to focus on my ability to love, while honoring and appreciating my anger and understanding perfectly why I have it. I need to go to that inner place from which love emerges. Each of us has such a place; we just need to find and acknowledge it and then practice drawing from it. I find the Touch of Love exercise I present in my book very good for doing this.

Once I am in touch with my loving energy, then I fill my being with it. Note that I’m not suppressing my anger or grief in so doing. I’m not denying them or pushing them away, and I’m most certainly not telling myself that I shouldn’t have anger, that somehow it’s not “spiritual.” That’s nonsense. A horrendous act has taken place, and I have every right to be angry about it. But I’m like a surgeon. To do my work, I need to step into a calm, focused place. As I said, the anger has done its job. Now it’s love’s turn.

So I fill myself with love and then I imagine (yes, imagination is very important as a focusing lens) myself in the presence of this little girl. Am I really mystically or psychically with her? Maybe. What is important, though, is that where my mind is focused, there my energy flows whether I’m aware of it or not. So I’m focused on being with her as a presence of love, of calm, of healing, and of compassion.

I hold this for as long as feels comfortable and right. It could be for several minutes, it might be just for a few seconds. Duration is not really important. But when I feel complete or full in my body, then I stop.

But what about those who are committing the war crimes, attacking civilians or ordering it done? I’d like to do some inner work with them, too. And here as well, the energies I work with must be love-based, otherwise they will be rejected or worse, will stimulate an energetic reaction that may make the individuals even more violent, more aggressive, more hurtful. So I have to discern how loving I can be. At what level can I honestly engage with these politicians and soldiers with loving intent? I want to be clear about this in myself. My objective is not to attack them, damage them, take revenge upon them, make them suffer for what they’re doing (however tempting all that might be!). My objective is really two-fold. One is to offer protection and healing to the souls of these individuals, for the actions of their personalities in causing needless pain and suffering to others attacks the vitality and “texture” (I don’t know what else to call it) of the soul. The soul is sickened, and I have compassion for that. So that’s one thing. The other is that I want to place into their energy environment a Light that can awaken in them a resistance to what they’re doing so that they will stop. If I just beam Light at them, it will probably be rejected. But I can gently surround them with a loving Light that a person could absorb and in so doing, become horrified at what they’re doing and make a decision to stop.

So again, remembering that the cardinal rule in subtle activism is not to impose but to respect the sovereignty and integrity of all involved, I again fill myself with love and in my imagination, place myself in the environment of those ordering and committing these acts. Then I ask that the love and the Light I offer become part of their environment in a way that will stimulate awakening and change. And I call upon spiritual allies to help with this, particularly in ways that will ensure the subtle energies I offer will stick around awhile in that environment and have a chance to do their work.

This sounds wimpy and un-warrior-like, but I do not have the power to make these people change, no matter how puffed up I make my self-image or how much I want to "fight evil." However, I can contribute to altering both the energy environment in which these people are working and the probabilities of their success. Does this have any effect? Yes. I’ve seen this work in very difficult situations where on the surface things seemed hopeless, yet within a matter of hours and days amazing transformations took place.

And I’ve seen it not work, as well. Situations and people are complex, and many variables can be at work. But love is never wasted. Its effects can be delayed but never ultimately stopped or denied.

Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 of this interview.

Subtle Activism: An Interview with David Spangler (Part 2)

Interview By Annabel Chiarelli

ANNABEL: Can you elaborate on “wrongly made” thought forms? For instance, is there such a thought form around the idea of racial prejudices? Also, can you clarify the distinction between a thought form as a thing that can be destroyed as opposed to a being that can be redirected or redeemed? Whose decision is it to destroy a thought form? Is this something that we as embodied humans can help with or is this something better left to our subtle allies?

DAVID: Let me begin by defining a thought-form or energy construct. A thought-form is simply any pattern of energy brought into existence by thought; it is energy of some nature molded and shaped in a particular way by an act of thinking and feeling. It is an energetic artifact, no different from things we design and make here in the physical realm. It is not a living being, although--just like our own artifacts--it is composed of living energy.

We create them all the time. If I see an ad for something in a magazine and think, "Wow, I'd like to have that," I've created a thought-form. But unless I put some emotional and mental "juice" into it, it won't last. I'll turn the page, see another ad for something else that I find more desirable, and a whole new thought-form is created around that object while the first thought-form now fades out of existence.

These kind of temporary thought-forms are being made and dissolved all the time. It's when a particular pattern of thought and feeling becomes a habit, something held and repeated over and over, that it starts to become a construct in the subtle worlds such as my inner colleague was describing. In other words, there needs to be some persistence and consistency of thought and imagination and some intent for such a construct to take shape and develop a potentially autonomous existence.

This is a complex topic and I've seen whole books written on this one subject alone, so I can't cover it all in this interview. However, for our purposes in discussing subtle outreach and subtle activism, let me describe two general kinds of energetic constructs.

The first arise from cultural habits and are collective in nature. You used the example of thought-forms that embody racial prejudices. As collective cultural constructs, such images can stimulate corresponding thoughts and feelings within individuals. A feedback loop is established between the thought-form and individual minds that attune to it.

In other words, if a collective thought form around African-Americans in the United States is one of fear, then if I am an individual influenced by this thought-form, I can have fearful thoughts and feelings when I see a black person on the street. The energy of this fear then feeds the thought-form itself, keeping it in existence.

Now, collective thought-forms such as this can be reduced in potency and in their ability to affect individual minds by subtle world intervention such as my colleague described, but they cannot be destroyed or mitigated entirely since they are also being generated and supported by incarnated humans. Energy hygiene is not enough here. There needs to be social change, institutional change, education, changes of mind and heart, and so on.

In other words, a collective thought-form being actively supported and energized by human beings cannot be erased by subtle means alone, speaking generally. I can't get rid of a habit like smoking if I continue to indulge and support it by smoking! So human level interaction and change is absolutely needed--physical activism, if you wish. But if this is present, then subtle forces can intervene more effectively and destroy the constructs themselves, as my colleague* described.

I should add here that thought-forms can be good and helpful or negative and unhelpful. The image of Uncle Sam is a thought-form of the American character; the American flag is another, one that can inspire love of country and patriotic acts. Every country has its collective thought-forms from which it draws its identity and positive energies.

The second kind of thought-form is the one that is deliberately created to achieve a specific end. You might do this as part of a manifestation project, for instance, in which you project a strong and clear image of what you wish to manifest into the subtle worlds. You might form a positive self image of the kind of person you wish to be, and that becomes an inspirational thought-form in your life.

But some thought-forms are created and shaped by negative and pathological thoughts. For instance, ISIL is deliberately propagating thought-forms of violence through social media but also, seen from the inner worlds, through the collective thoughts and intents of those who are part of that movement projected out into the mental environments of humanity. An individual can be radicalized and become violent partly through the influence of images on social media but also through the energies--the thought-forms of hatred and revenge--that lie behind those images.

Or someone becomes a mass killer, something happening with greater frequency, unfortunately, here in the United States. When interviewed the person may say, "I don't know what happened. I just felt I had to kill people." They can rationalize this in many ways, but fundamentally they were acting out of an energetic impulse which more than likely came from a "mass killing thought-form." The thought-form and its energy triggered or stimulated the decision to kill within the mind and emotions of an individual who was vulnerable and predisposed in some manner to such a prompting.

Such a thought-form could be deliberately created by someone filled with hate and violence, or it could be inadvertently created by thoughts of killing which vibrationally "clump together" through resonance in the subtle worlds and become an autonomous construct of energy seeking outlet in the human world through acts of killing. It's these kinds of thought-forms specifically that my colleague* was thinking of when he spoke, as there are many of them floating about.

Remember that there are just as many—indeed, more—thought-forms that are positive, inspirational, healing, and helpful in nature, so it's not like we're surrounded by a cloud of energetic constructs all seeking to do us harm. Far from it. But harmful constructs do exist.

What makes a thought-form something that can be destroyed, as differentiated from a being who can be redirected or redeemed, is that it doesn't possess life. It's like a robot. It has been programmed to act in certain ways, and it cannot do otherwise. It can have the appearance of agency in that it will seek to fulfill its "programming" and it can have an appearance of life simply because it is composed of living energies that seek sustenance. Remember, what is being destroyed is the form or organizing principle and intent that is holding the thought-form together, not the living energies that comprise it.

As to who decides to destroy them, there are guardian beings, both angelic and human souls, who have this as a task; think of them as a subtle world police force or as subtle janitors. They don't have carte blanche, for they cannot interfere with the workings of karma or human free will, but there's a lot of psychic garbage in the band of energy I call "The Scream" which can be cleaned up. Also, since you asked, an embodied human being who knows what he or she is doing can certainly disperse and destroy a thought-form.

ANNABEL: Can you elaborate on this strong place of soul? Are there instances where the warrior image can be helpful or is it something that should be completely avoided?

DAVID: Let me say that I come from a military background, raised on an American air base in Morocco, so the term "warrior" is not a red flag for me. And it's not particularly bothersome to my inner colleagues, though they wouldn't necessarily use that term themselves. If seeing oneself as a warrior helps a person evoke courage and strength and a positive self-image, then it can be helpful.

However, when doing any kind of subtle work, militaristic images are rarely helpful. We need to be very aware of what our own energy is doing within us and around us; we need to be mindful of what we're generating and projecting, or put another way, mindful of the "flavor" we impart to our inner work. And in this regard, militaristic images of any kind tend to give an adversarial "flavor" that can ultimately work against the very healing, harmony, or wholeness we seek to foster.

Yes, redemption and healing are keywords in subtle work. No one is ever abandoned, no matter, as you say, how complex or lengthy the process may be of restoring their wholeness and connectedness to the Sacred. And this should definitely inform our attitudes towards each other. For instance, I detest all that ISIL stands for and the violence and hatred they are promoting, but I hold the individual souls who are part of that pathological collective in love. That soul will deeply regret the harm it is causing and will seek redemption at some point. My prayer is that my love will ease that transformation when that soul is able to undergo it. At the least, I do not want to burden that soul with projections and thought-forms of hatred and fear from me.

But I would not hesitate to stop that soul's personality from doing harm in the world if I had the opportunity to do so, nor would I hesitate to protect others, on any level, from the malevolent energies this group is collectively and individually projecting into the world. I would just not go about it from a militaristic attitude. There are better ways energetically speaking. As you say, neutrality and strength are important.

Maybe I should say something about what I mean by neutrality. I don't mean being inert emotionally or not having feelings. I can be very passionate in my neutrality! What I'm talking about here is a condition of energy, what really should be seen as a kind of "subtle chemistry." What I don't want is to provide any resonance in my own energy field to which something like the ISIL thought-forms could attach.

Neutrality is not armor, it's not a shield, it's just non-interaction, non-reactivity. The classic phrase for this is to "Stand in the Light" which by its very nature disperses the darkness without actually "fighting" it. If there are shadows in my room, they disappear when I turn on the light or when the sun comes out. The Light is not "against" these shadows; it is neutral or non-reactive. But the nature of Light is that a shadow cannot exist in it. The Light doesn't have to "hate the darkness" in order to remove it by the nature of what it is.

This comes back to what I said earlier about altering the environment so that a particular kind of organism or force cannot live in it. Hatred cannot live in an environment of love, energetically speaking. (And part of our challenge is that we translate these words into emotional and psychological terms, which turns them into something else, something quite different from their energetic quality. We need to learn how to think in terms of an energy world, as well as a psychological and a physical one.)

Anyway, neutrality doesn't mean a lack or weakening of intent, and when speaking of strength in this context, I'm really speaking of clarity and firmness of intent. Think of Gandalf in the Mines of Moria saying to the Balrog, "You shall not pass!" Now that was a very clear and strong intent!

Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 of this interview.

Subtle Activism: An Interview with David Spangler (Part 1)

Interview By Annabel Chiarelli

ANNABEL: A popular stance in subtle activism work is that of the “spiritual warrior battling against dark forces.” You have cautioned against this, and I’d like to hear your thoughts about why it’s so important not to fall into that trap, as well as your thoughts on the nature of “dark” energies or forces and the band of negative energy you call “The Scream.” Do they have some kind of independent malevolent agency of their own or are they fueled by plain old human greed, hatred, aggression, and lust for power?

DAVID: Let me begin by saying that before I became a spiritual teacher when I was twenty, I was studying in college to become a molecular biologist. Thus, even today, fifty years later, I still tend to think in biological and ecological terms and metaphors. These are the metaphors I draw on to answer your questions.

The sources of evil in the human world are complex because humanity is complex. It's not as if there's a single entity who is the source of all malevolent and negative forces and actions, inspiring--if that's the right word--human beings to acts of violence and hurtfulness. As you rightly suggest, much of what motivates us to act in ways harmful to others, to the world, and to ourselves are simply unresolved and negative patterns and habits in our own psyches. It's our own greed, our own fear, our own lusts, and so forth. This is often quite enough to create the problems we see in our world.

What I call "the Scream" is a layer of negative energies in the subtle borderlands close to the physical plane that is the product of our own negative projections and actions. I think of it as a kind of psychic smog which in some cases is simply irritating but in others is truly toxic, just as pollution can be in the physical world. By itself, it doesn't actively or willfully seek to expand or promote its conditions; it has no agency. But given the right conditions, it can spread just as physical pollution can spread unless steps are taken through energy hygiene to prevent it or to clean it up. For instance, if an angry, vengeful energy exists in an area, people can pick up on it, feel their own anger amplified or augmented, and then add to it through their own actions and projections. We are the agency through which this psychic pollution makes itself felt and can grow.

It's important to understand that it's not making us do this. But it does create psychic or subtle energetic conditions that can make it easier for us to choose to go along with those conditions because of elements and habits in our own psyche. We can resist, and we can transform such subtle conditions if we choose to do so and are willing to do the inner and outer work of emotional, mental, and even physical hygiene that may be involved. In other words, we can choose love over hate, courage over fear, respect over contempt, and so on. It can be work to do so and not always easy, but that's the kind of work our souls call on us to do!

This is not a matter of fighting anything. I don't "fight" pollution. I recognize it and then I clean it up. I can be deliberate and focused in this cleansing process--I hesitate to use the word "aggressive"--but I am not being a "warrior," except in the sense that I am courageously standing in the midst of the pollution and not running from it.

But as a biologist, I know that any environment, including toxic ones, can become niches for opportunistic organisms which may in themselves be toxic. For instance, a local beach on a lake near our home was closed down this summer for a time because sewage had leaked into it and pathogenic bacteria had been detected. People who swam in the water got sick.

There are subtle forces that feed on negative energies such as fear, hate, and so on. The ecology of such forces and beings is complex. For instance, there are bacteria in sewage that will make you very sick and even kill you if you take them into your body, but they are necessary to help process the sewage; they are part of the natural cycle of decay and transformation. There are subtle beings and forces like this, and left alone to do their work, they have no malevolent intent towards human beings. But human beings sometimes don't leave them alone and do invoke them, much as people use toxic bacteria to create bio-weapons. When this happens, such beings may be let loose into the energetic world of humanity and can become a hazard that has to be dealt with through appropriate steps of energy hygiene.

On the other hand, there are beings and forces that are simply malevolent in nature. Their origins are, as I say, complex, and many come into being as products of human thinking; they are potent thought-forms that have been created by someone specifically to do harm and then are released into the world. And some have origins deep in the primeval past of our planet.

What is common to all these "dark" beings and forces, though, is that, like any organism, they seek to create environments and conditions conducive to their nature. They seek safety and they seek food, and because they are subtle beings, both of these are energetic in nature. So in a worst case scenario, yes, forces and beings can arise that actively work to generate and maintain conditions of fear, hatred, anger, lust, and so on within the human world. These beings are truly parasitic as they require human complicity to create the environments they need, and once created, they will seek to trigger human emotions and thoughts along lines that will continue to generate the necessary negative conditions.

So, do I fight these beings? Again, I think here like a biologist. None of these negative forces can exist if the environment becomes inhospitable to them. But to change an environment can require a combination of energy hygiene or subtle activism and outreach and ordinary physical, psychological, and spiritual work with the humans involved so that they stop generating the energies that such negative inner forces use parasitically to maintain their existence.

This involves, to my way of thinking, an ability to create and hold the desired environmental conditions of love, Light, courage, respect, safety, and so on in myself first and then to expand those conditions outward through how I relate to the environment and the people in it. This is why I have trouble with militaristic metaphors. They may make us feel powerful and good about ourselves, but it's all too easy for us to slip into an adversarial stance that actually ends up feeding more negativity into the environment.

Clearing up the more extreme areas of subtle toxicity is not a simple process, and there is truth to the idea that I want and need to stand in my sovereignty in a courageous and warrior-like way. Even something as relatively passive as the polluted psychic energies in the Scream can resist being changed. There can be some pushback, and I need to be prepared for this. If I'm dealing with a force or being whose current existence is dependent on a hateful, negative environment, then that pushback can be fierce. So I need to be clear, strong, stable, and above all loving in my ability to hold the qualities of the environment I wish to create. I'm not a warrior wielding a weapon of Light, but I am a "warrior" wielding a stout heart, courage, presence, and a fiery hope! (And as an aside, I shouldn't attempt dealing with such negative organisms unless I do have the skill, the knowledge, and the connections to deal with the possible pushbacks and consequences. I don't wade into the toxic water of a lake to clean it up unless I know what I'm doing, understand the nature of what I'm dealing with, and have the right equipment to help me.)

Are there malevolent dark forces seeking to take over the world? No, not in the sense of a centralized, vast planetary conspiracy. But are there "dark" subtle organisms that would like to expand the negative environment that protects and feeds them? Of course! It's what organisms, whether physical or non-physical, do. We don't need to "fight" them in a militaristic sense, at least not as a general rule--there can always be local exceptions--but we do need to be strong and clear about the kind of physical and subtle environment we wish to have and use our agency to make it so, drawing on whatever spiritual and subtle allies are near and dear to us. In so doing, our "stance" really does need to be one of love, for love is at the heart of the best environments!

[After David sent this response, one of his subtle colleagues offered a contribution to our discussion]

SUBTLE COLLEAGUE: Blessings! This is an interesting discussion which caught my attention. As I'm sure you realize, you are only scratching the surface here. But I thought I'd contribute the following from my perspective. I am aware of three kinds of responses to three kind of forces and beings that are sources of negativity in your world. One is healing and redemption, one is recycling and restoration, and one is destruction.

In the first case, we seek to heal and redeem those who to us are suffering diseases and pathologies of the soul, internal habits and ways of thinking that promote harm, whether to self or to others. This can be a simple process or it can be a complex and lengthy one depending on the soul involved and the nature of its consciousness.

The second deals with the forces you think of as energetic or psychic pollution. These are vectors of energy that currently are harmful but which can be realigned and reorganized to be harmless and restored to a pristine condition. Altering the environmental conditions as you have described is usually sufficient to accomplish this.

Finally, there are those constructions of thought, feeling and energy that are wrongly made from the outset. There is no being here, and the energies that make up such constructs are bound to its shape and purposes. Here is where we wield what metaphorically you would call the Sword or Spear of Light to break up and destroy the construct, thereby allowing its energy to be freed and redeemed. Some of these constructs are very ancient, formed in the distant past, and by now they have gorged themselves on human negativity and seek more, for they have become simply black holes of energetic hunger, never able to get enough. They are unstable at their core, but they can be very resistant to change. They cannot be changed simply by altering the environment but must be broken up by the surgical application of Light.

However, as you have perceived, this cannot be done in anger or even in a prideful way as one wielding spiritual power. It must be done from a neutral and strong place of soul. When confronted with such a construct, we do not interact with it but act to destroy it if possible (and sometimes it is not possible as incarnate humans are actively supporting and maintaining it for their own purposes). Thus, there is no compassion for the construct, only implacable will, but there is love for the energy trapped inside the structure. When the organizing impulse of this construct, that which holds it together, is destroyed, then we receive the liberated energies in compassion and love and set about their redemption.

This is all I have to offer. I thought you would be interested in hearing the perspective of one not in the body.

Again, blessings!

Click on the links to read Part 1, Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 of this interview.