Spirituality & the Occupy Movement. ~ Ana Holub

Via elephant journal
on Jan 18, 2012
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Ana Holub

Desiring to share in the activism and idealism of the Occupy Movement, I went with my two children to Zuccotti Park at the southern tip of Manhattan. We went to the spot where Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was born.

To our disappointment, we found a small, bedraggled crowd standing around in the cold drizzle. Nine days earlier, police had completely destroyed the OWS camp. The only traces left were barricades, security personnel, police and a few people with drooping, battered signs of protest.

Walking through an opening into the barricaded park, I was struck by how small the space is. Not a trace of the People’s Library, the 200 tents or the trash survived.

Yet something was still alive here, if bruised and brooding.

I stopped to listen to two young women in their 20s being filmed for an interview.

“The Occupy Movement was incredible while it was here in Liberty Square,” said one. “But now it’s moved to other locations. OWS lives on in cities throughout this country, and the world. We’re hurting here; in fact, someone just got arrested 15 minutes ago for lying down in the park. The police won’t let anything happen. We need to regroup and reorganize. But we’re not dead!”

Leaving the park, we walked a couple of blocks to Wall St., where the New York Stock Exchange, J.P. Morgan’s imposing stone mansion and a statue of George Washington stand together in a triangular vortex of political and financial power.

Breathing deeply, I took some time to release my judgments while I stood at this crossroad of American hegemony, symbolizing the Empire of the 1%. “Those greedy people,” whispered my judgments, “I bet they just care about making billions for themselves. They aren’t concerned about the environment or justice or sustainability! etc. etc.”

Ana Holub

There were many emotions, too, rising up for my attention. Anger, superiority, guilt, blame. None of it was pretty. I released it all with my breath and turned to prayer.

Standing beside the statue of George Washington, gazing at the Stock Exchange, I prayed:

“Beloved One, may this spot on Earth be uplifted. May greed and domination of one over another be healed. May everyone here come to peace and equality. May the truth of our union be returned to this land. May the joy of our oneness heal the errors of our ways.”


Knowing the power of prayer is real, I blessed the Occupy Movement and Wall Street. Together. Equally.

On the subway, I contemplated the 99%. People are coming together around the world to make a stand for justice, truth and balance. Everywhere I hear stories of “ordinary” people becoming heroes as they step out with courage, facing police brutality, racism and fear.

Some of our neighbors are taking pepper spray in the face — and worse. It’s going to take massive discipline to create lasting change. With satyagraha, the peaceful commitment of Gandhi, I know we can do it.

And while I’m inspired by the 99%, my heart also goes to the 1%. Without including everyone, we cannot forgive and start anew.

As Starhawk informs the violent dictators in her story, The Fifth Sacred Thing, “Even now, there is room for you at our table.” That line always moves me, because it tells me that even at the very last moment, there is a place for everyone. It’s an extraordinary welcome, giving the chance of grace to each person, as long as they come to the table of thanksgiving, where each person is sacred and respected.

Admittedly, it seems we’re a long way from such a resolution, however delightful it may appear. Many people, rich and poor, have no intention of renouncing violence. They may never choose to take their seat at the meal of plenty. Still, we who love peace carry on.

There’s much work to do, and we have the opportunity to do it with conscious awareness and gratitude. We need an entirely new framework, though, because all too often, leaders of the 99% devolve into the 1% once they ascend to power (see Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Pol Pot of Cambodia, and the history of France and the United States). Eventually, a new cycle of revolution begins and the process repeats itself endlessly — unless we change it.

One essential way to shift the global situation from a battle between the 99% and the 1%, or “us” vs. the “others,” is to deepen our spiritual abilities. For success, we must listen to the still, small voice within.

When everyone begins acting upon this inner wisdom, each person will intuitively know what to do, when to do it, and who to do it with. And in case you’re wondering which of the many voices in your head to listen to, remember that action from this state of consciousness is always truthful, loving and compassionate.

Bringing meditation practices to the forefront of our personal lives complements our action in the streets. The compassionate nature of reality offers wisdom when we examine the option of switching our bank accounts from corporate giants to credit unions.


This is no longer a time for an either-or mentality when it comes to living on Earth.

We aren’t spiritual OR political. It’s time to be both.

Your inner listening will guide you to right action.

One obstacle you may encounter is the idea that peaceniks are weak. Many protesters wonder how they’ll have any impact without their anger.

A big part of our transformation demands grabbing a-hold of the immense power of Creation. Rather than the temporal muscle of Wall St., we choose, instead, the supremacy of the force-which-gives-us-life.

Walking off the battlefield altogether, we’ll find that we still show up at meetings and protests in the street, but now with a sense of serenity and determination. Listening to and acting on our inner guidance, we gain the kind of power that served Gandhi and Martin. In addition to being gentle at heart, we’re fiercely committed to liberty and justice for all.

We agitate for what we do want, rather than ranting against what we don’t want, receiving increasing clarity from our inner vision. Taking time to be still, we’re energized to spread the message of peace and respect for the Earth who sustains us.

If you need some inspiration, let me tell you about our brother Pancho, who lives at Casa de Paz in Oakland, CA. Pancho fasted for 9 days to dispute nuclear weapons research in the UC system. Sitting peacefully with locked arms at a student protest, he invited his arresting officer to a Mexican meal, saying, “I tell you what, when I get done with this and you get done with this, I’d like to break my fast with you. What do you say?” At another arrest during Occupy Oakland, he wrote on a piece of paper: “On Mondays, I practice silence.  But I’d like you to hear that I love you.”  The officer smiled.


Ana Holub, MA teaches about the healing power of forgiveness and other peacemaking techniques. As a writer and counselor, she offers sessions, seminars, CDs and books about creating peace, justice and joy for all. Get more information at www.anaholub.com and www.clearpathtopeace.com.


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32 Responses to “Spirituality & the Occupy Movement. ~ Ana Holub”

  1. Kim says:

    "We aren’t spiritual OR political. It’s time to be both." Very appropriate to read this on a day when the Internet is covered with black banners protesting potential censorship laws, SOPA and PIPA. The power of the people is great! It's fueled by freedom. Thank you to Ms. Holub for her visions of peace as the Occupy movement continues to expand.

  2. Very well said Ana. It feels very true to step away from the anger and remember our connectedness. Thank you.

  3. Dawn Fazende says:

    Well done Ana – anger begets anger and nothing good ever comes from it.

  4. Beautiful writing! What a stunning article! Thank you for printing it!

  5. Jen Mathews says:

    Thanks for the reminder that as we learn to listen to the intuitive, spirit-connected voice inside, our actions will reflect more compassion and forgiveness for ourselves and those we tend to deem as "other." Creating space for us all sitting down at the same table is such a powerful image . . . and your words and work in the world move us closer to real and authentic connections in this way (rather than a dining room table of human family dysfunction). Occupy love, indeed.

  6. Peaceful agitation for what we do want! I love that. Thanks, Ana, for your inspiration. Your article speaks to the heart of spiritual activism.

  7. Awe-inspiring! Gave me tingles. Thank you, Ana.

  8. mira el says:

    i really liked your article and say bravo to you for being involved and on the street! yes it is time to remember we are all connected and family. blessings to us all. xo

  9. Lisanne McDonald says:

    Beautiful article, Ana. I'm so glad it's published for all to read.

  10. Stephanie Hoffman says:

    Thank you for your sharing your insights and ideas!

  11. Linda Ryan says:

    Ana, I appreciate the inclusiveness of your sentiments expressed in the article. Multiple perspectives are key albeit tricky are key to change.

  12. Donna says:

    When judgement no longer feels right we get to embrace equanimity. This loving affirmation that we can join together reminds me that going beyond the limitations of who we think we are is what may be our next evolution. What the heck are we doing here anyway?

  13. Amore Vera Aida says:

    Thank you, Anna, for your clarity and for reminding us to include all sides in our peace prayers. Otherwise, how can we spect peace in the world?

  14. Bonnie Thomas says:

    Yes! Your inspiring words come for the heart. Yes, peace is possible and it starts with each one of us going within to the wisdom that knows how to forgive and how to love. And, yes, it is possible to perceive Oneness. It's all a matter of "What do I want?". Thank you, Ana Holub, for a great article.

  15. jack moore says:

    insightful and honest…thanx ana!

  16. Doug says:

    Amazing insights. As an old peace activist, I agree. "Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you."

  17. nina sussman says:

    As always,I appreciate your powerful,yet gentle words!
    I needed to hear a positive spin put on a seemingly bleak situation.
    Oh & thanks for reminding me to slow down & breath….

  18. Ami says:

    Thank you Ana for modeling love in action.

  19. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the brand new Elephant Spirituality Homepage.

    Braja Sorensen
    Lost & Found in India
    Editor, Elephant Spirituality
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  20. Susan Brown says:

    Thank you for reminding me I always have the choice to be "truthful, loving and compassionate" even while I am standing tall for what I want to see changed.

  21. Shahan Jon says:

    Beautifully stated. Thank you. Compassion is the transformative force that uplifts us all.

  22. Jane says:

    "Without including everyone, we cannot forgive and start anew." Well said.

  23. Ana Holub says:

    Thanks for your thoughts, everyone. Our individual and collective forgiveness process takes us deep into discomfort and then beyond it into the realization that we are all EQUAL in the sight of our Creator. We are originally innocent. I know not everyone agrees nor lives this way. This is the people's movement, with the people's spirituality. What is our spirit telling us? Together, we find out.

  24. Posted to Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

    Braja Sorensen
    Lost & Found in India
    Editor, Elephant Spirituality
    Please go and "Like" Elephant Spirituality on Facebook

  25. Eleanor says:

    Political action from that place you name is spiritual practice/action ~ & gathering/walking/marching with others of like heart feeds my soul. Thank you for the reminder that there are no enemies. Power to the Peaceful!

  26. Gentle Thunder says:

    Thanks Ana for being the presence you ARE in the world. I feel you walking your talk, being real and this is truly a great article. I recognize that we are actually so close to wholeness realized in humanity… 99% and 1% that need to come together to make 100%! Holding the vision of wholeness. Yes to choosing love!

  27. Roger Wolsey says:

    Good stuff! Here's what I came with "10 Things that Christians (and other Spiritual Folk) Should Know and Do about the Occupy Protests" http://www.elephantjournal.com/2011/10/10-things-

  28. Bagavan says:

    An amazing and thoughtful piece from a modern, informed sensitive woman that cares.
    If you dont know Anas work its time.
    Blessings on all beings,all creatures, everywhere.
    May we live in peace, Bagavan

  29. Ana Holub says:

    Thank you, Bagavan. I feel blessed that you should post this. And thank you for all the work for peace that you do in your life as well. May we all be touched by peace, inside and out.

  30. Ana Holub says:

    Thanks, Roger. I read your article and agree completely. Jesus is a radical revolutionary of loving justice for all. Not only 2000 years ago, but NOW. As you said, "Jesus said that 'his way is narrow.' Try following it anyway." Amen.

  31. sarahjanecooper says:

    I appreciate the fortitude that all those Occupy-ers had, and the passion that has been given to us all through it. The evolving understanding, that Ana describes, of peaceful ways brings to the foreground the fact that if we only "fight", they will win, because they are counting on that. If we evolve, include, understand, love and do it actively, it is not so easy to "fight' and win against that.
    Sometimes I do get discouraged, though, so I thank you Ana for reminding me of the ebb and flow, and that the Big Flow is happening even when it looks like the opposite. Love! to all!

  32. […] Two years later, I relocated to NYC and left my Chicago clients. As irony would have it, I left those who were chained to the bottom 1% of poverty, for clients in NYC who were dancing on top of their mountain of wealth (the group we now reference as the 1%). […]