Enlightening Our Work Worlds Further

We are responding to the deep lessons that this season of solstice and light, Christmas, Chanukah, awaken in us.  Lessons affirming we humans best translate our inner light into service to others by way of the work we do in the world. 

“Lady Justice” by visual artist Kim Vanderheiden, removing the traditional blindfold and sword to offer a more compassionate icon. Published in the PISLAP Quarterly newsletter.

We are considering the effort by the PISLAP movement for lawyers to make the legal world a better place.

Among the principles that PISLAP sponsors are Love; Compassion; Connection; Trust; Mutuality; Social Justice; Activism; Restoration; Healing; Deep Listening; Personal & Collective Responsibility. 

How would our world—including our political world which is so often flooded with lawyers—be different if these more-than-reptilian-brain principles were put into practice? 

“Lady Justice” (detail) by Kim Vanderheiden, published in the PISLAP Quarterly newsletter.

PISLAP encourages “contemplative practices” to support and strengthen social movement work, transform legal education, promote restorative justice and restorative practices. 

It is a welcome sign to hear that lawyers are urging “contemplative practices” for this would put a damper on the reptilian brain energy that is so visible in the legal profession as we know it.  I have long maintained that meditation’s primary purpose is to calm the reptilian brain.

I am reminded of a former student of mine who, on graduating from our program, worked in law offices instructing lawyers on how to create altars in their places of work.

“Desk Altar” by Phila Hoopes

An acute observation by Peter Gabel is this:

Our current legal system is based on a competitive, antagonistic, and overly individualistic view of humanity that belies our common spiritual existence.

The medicine proposed is

…to integrate spirituality, law, and politics that transform the existing legal system in ways that promote healing, cooperation, and the advancement of human consciousness.

“Love:Law” by Kim Vanderheiden, published in the PISLAP Quarterly newsletter

Resolution of conflicts can serve “to awaken us to a deeper understanding of the dignity and value of all peoples and affirms the integrity of the individual as well as the importance of fostering social responsibility,  environmental awareness, and the creation of a loving, just and sustainable world.”

As a non-lawyer I salute Peter Gabel and his many co-workers who are daring to renew the legal profession.  I urge everyone in whatever work world they reside to take courage and imagination from PISLAP to renew their own profession.  For today they are all failing us and the planet and future generations not yet born.

4th-graders practice mindfulness in classroom at U.S. Army Garrison, Japan. U.S. Army photos by Noriko Kudo on Flickr.

If Rabbi Heschel is correct that primary work of the prophet is to “interfere,” then we can praise Gabel and JPG for their prophetic work of interfering with their own profession, that of lawyering, to make it become truer to its purpose. 

This same principle applies to all of us—are we interfering with our professions to make them wiser and more light-filled?  Are we responding generously to our prophetic vocations, which is after all what adult spirituality is all about?

* Fordham Urban Law Journal, November, 2003, p. 64.   See also: www.spiritlawpolitics.org.

See Matthew Fox, The Reinvention of Work: A New Vision of Livelihood for Our Time.

Banner Image: “You Have the Right to Remain Human” by visual artist Kim Vanderheiden as “an attempt to reframe the concepts behind Miranda in a way that shepherds humanity, integrity, and relationship.” These wallet-sized cards are available by contacting kim@paintedtonguepress.com. No permission is required to reprint the Right to Remain Human text.

Queries for Contemplation

Is your profession or place of work developing “contemplative practices”?  If not, is it time to in order to assist the great work of calming the reptilian brain and thereby moving beyond patriarchy in our work places?

Recommended Reading

Thomas Aquinas said, “To live well is to work well,” and in this bold call for the revitalization of daily work, Fox shares his vision of a world where our personal and professional lives are celebrated in harmony–a world where the self is not sacrificed for a job but is sanctified by authentic “soul work.”

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7 thoughts on “Enlightening Our Work Worlds Further”

  1. Avatar

    Thank you so much for these mediations. You are helping to keep me sane. Not an overstatement.
    I wonder if you could tell me the origin of that “Right to remain human” card? Is that an art piece. Who is the artist? Or is it part of one of the justice projects that you have referenced?

    Many, many thanks,


    1. Phila Hoopes

      Thank you for asking, Carmen!
      “You Have the Right to Remain Human” by visual artist Kim Vanderheiden is “an attempt to reframe the concepts behind Miranda in a way that shepherds humanity, integrity, and relationship.” These wallet-sized cards are available by contacting kim@paintedtonguepress.com. No permission is required to reprint the Right to Remain Human text.

      1. Avatar

        Thank you, Phila. I now see that, in tiny letters above Matthew’s video, there is information about the banner image. Sorry to have not seen that originally! But it gives me another chance to appreciate the images that are in the Daily Meditations; thank you so much for your work on this!!!

  2. Avatar

    I love the purpose of meditation being to calm the reptilian brain. Thank you for introducing this new artist and bringing light every day to us.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Thank you for continuing to keep in touch with us. Its always good to hear from you. The ideas that meditations calms the reptilian brain is fresh to me as well. If we bring that awareness to our next meditation section, I wonder what how our experience might change.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditations Team

  3. Avatar

    It’s interesting that the Sadhus of India(India’s wandering ascetic holy people)renounce the world in order to hurry Enlightenment. People flock to them for advise and support them with alms. In this country they would be called a bum.

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Gary,
      There are more layers to this question of renouncing this world in order to bring enlightenment The attitude you describe has been a classic approach in most major religions. It comes from a polarized belief system in which the world with all its sensuality, its tastes, beauty, and creativity are eschewed for a non-material spirituality. The material world is seen as evil and pleasure as sinful or selfish.

      Creation Spirituality rejects sinful processes and unjust systems, but considers joy and life’s pleasures to be sacred and its processes divinely prescribed. It calls for us to live in this world as compassionate and spiritual people, constantly evolving and recreating our life together. Everything is connected to everything else and even our darkest feelings, when honored, can become sources of light. This is unifying rather than polarizing.

      I have tried both.

      Quite frankly, its easier to be an ascetic, one who removes herself from the world. I only have myself to care about. All I have to do is NOT get engaged. Creation Spirituality is more satisfying. It takes attention and intention and it requires more of my faculties, more patience, more creativity, more openness. But I feel vital and connected.

      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team.

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