The theme of spiritual freedom is crucial throughout the world. It is enough to go to the websites of the associations that deal with protecting the right to free religion and spirituality and the problem appears in all its evidence.
 To varying degrees, sometimes from the State, in other cases from newspapers, political forces and opinion groups, religious groups large and small, with a long or more recent history are the object of hostile campaigns, disguised as a form of protection towards citizens. In Italy, for example, where the right to free spiritual expression is protected by the Constitution, a campaign against neo-spiritual movements based on accusations that have nothing to do with the religious or spiritual sphere has been under way for over ten years, referring to violations of personal freedom and to the fact that groups and communities would always or almost always rely on the exercise of mental manipulation.

From Italy to all of Europe

To support their thesis and scare the public, anti-spiritual conspiracy theorists claim that in Italy there would be close to four million people affiliated with dangerous spiritual groups. From where this data comes, it is not known, also because according to researchers working in the field, the real figure is enormously inferior. Spiritual minorities in Italy are equivalent to about two million citizens, and among them, there are also Muslims, Protestants, and others belonging to bigger world religions. So, where they came up with the number of four million dangerous spiritualists, is truly a mystery.
We mention Italy because it is the country in which Damanhur was born and developed, but in the rest of Europe and the world, the situation is often equally worrying. It seems that we are limited in the European Union, despite the FORB (Freedom of Religion and Belief) provisions on this issue, recently presented at the Italian Chamber of Deputies.

Does spirituality cause fear?

The real question is: why is a free expression of spirituality so frightening? Why is it perceived, by some at least, as something to block?
Before answering this question, it is necessary to make a premise: it cannot be excluded in principle that there are groups in which things that are unclear and not very correct take place. It is not enough to profess oneself “spiritual” to be immune to mistakes. It would be like saying that there are no corrupt magistrates, doped sportsmen or uninformed journalists! The big difference is that there are thorough investigations before prosecuting magistrates, sportsmen and journalists if they have done something unethical. With regard to free spirituality, prejudice is upstream, based on rumors, personal grudges, and prejudices. Many people feel free to say and write anything, even about places they have never been or about people they have never known, with little respect for life and the choices of individuals.

A propulsive force

Returning to the initial question: why is free spirituality so frightening? In his visit to Damanhur last May, Ross Jackson, one of the founders of the Global Ecovillages Network (GEN) said something extremely interesting: the scope of GEN is not spiritual, rather it gathers communities and ecovillages based mainly on other values, primarily environmental, social and educational. However, the ones based on a spiritual vision tend to be lasting long in time. 
In the words of Ross Jackson, who is an entrepreneur and not a spiritual teacher, there is a good part of the answer: a spiritual vision, which can be expressed in the form of faith, religion, philosophy, or lifestyle, is a propulsive force on a personal and collective level, which no other energy possesses.

A spiritual choice transforms people and gives strength to their dreams. This is why it is so “dangerous” for those who consider themselves the custodian of the status quo, and this is why it is so difficult to understand by those who are not involved: because a change and a rupture of patterns by others are difficult to understand and to accept.
Seen from within Damanhur, this is motivating us to be able to explain our experience even better. We want to be known for what we are and get advice, receive questions and even be open to criticism.

We believe that communicating and writing should increase everyone’s freedom, both of the speaker and of the listener.

Watch the video with Ross Jackson