Saturday, December 31, 2016

Andrew Harvey on Radical, Divine Passion in Action . . .

. . . Our Source of Creative Wisdom and Purpose
for the Great Adventure Ahead

In a New Year message to its supporters, the Bangarra Dance Company notes the following: "2016 has been an intense year for the company, both emotionally and artistically. But what has challenged us has made us stronger. In 2017 we will continue to evolve, tell stories and connect with audiences around the world."

This idea of choosing to respond to challenging circumstances and events in ways that allow us to evolve and grow wiser and stronger reminds me of the writings of author, scholar and teacher Andrew Harvey.

In particular, in these waning days of 2016, I find myself drawn to the introduction that Harvey wrote for his 2012 anthology Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action.

In this introduction, Harvey notes that humanity is in an "apocalyptic situation," one which he succinctly describes as follows.

A global financial elite, drunk on greed and desire for total control, manipulates the banks, markets, media, and all political parties. The gap between the tiny handful of the rich and the billions of destitute or deeply struggling human beings widens daily. Nothing real is being done to address the now lethal menace of global warming. Our food and water are increasingly poisoned. Ninety percent of the sea is polluted. Many of our crucial individual liberties have been drastically curtailed that the foundations of a global fascist state are now visible to all those with eyes to see. Hundreds of animal and plant species are vanishing every month, in the largest continuing extinction event since the last ice age. What more evidence should any awake human being need to show that we are in extreme danger and must respond comprehensively and urgently before spreading disaster becomes irreversible extinction?

Harvey wrote these words four years ago. Tragically little has changed for the better since then. Indeed, one need look no further than the ongoing global breakdown of the norms underlying representative democracy and the recent election of Donald Trump as U.S. president to realize that, politically, things are getting worse. With this in mind, Harvey's words from 2012 remain both disturbingly relevant and enlighteningly insightful. The latter makes Harvey's observations and analysis a testament of hope, which is why I share them on this last day of 2016, a year that for many of us has been very challenging.

I definitely resonate with what Harvey has to say. Indeed, I've shared my own similar thoughts previously at The Wild Reed (see, for example, here and here). Harvey's perspective also resonates with me because of my interest in evolutionary spirituality and the Sufi Way. And, of course, the life and example of Jesus. I also have to say that I find much of what Harvey writes reflected in the indigenous wisdom of Buffy Sainte-Marie, a woman whose life, music and activism greatly inspires me (see, for example, here, here, and here).

For all these reasons I share the following from Andrew Harvey's Radical Passion: Sacred Love and Wisdom in Action. May you too find strength, inspiration, and hope in his words.

The reason I still have hope is not because I believe the human race is going to find a technological, political, or economic solution to [the] devastation [facing us]. I do not believe in the potential transformation of the existing corporate nightmare; I do not believe in the magic of technology; I do not believe in the ability of a corrupt and political class to deconstruct its own power. I do not believe in the spiritual depth and sincerity of the great majority of religious and New Age leaders, or in their capacity either to tell the truth about what is happening or to galvanize human beings to react urgently and wisely to it. Our inherited notions of salvation, redemption, and enlightenment are as dissociated and ineffectual in this immense evolutionary storm as our continuing tragic obsession with perpetual growth and technological wizardry. Nothing undertaken from our current level of consciousness will now work. This crisis is the destined graveyard of all human "isms": all religious, political, and economic agendas, fantasies, and projects. The grandiose mask we have constructed for ourselves out of our demented narcissism is being stripped from our faces to reveal us as we are – terrified, lost, and helpless before a global agony of our own making.

The hope I live for and explore in all my work and teachings has nothing to do, then, with the current smorgasbord of fantasies for sale in the corporate bazaar. My hope is grounded in three interlinked truths, derived from a lifetime of mystical and personal search. These truths are: first, that the human race is now in an unprecedented and destined evolutionary crisis – a global dark night. Second, that this global dark night is potentially the birth canal for a new, embodied divine humanity chastened by tragedy and illumined by grace. Third, that the birthing force of the divine human is the force of the Motherhood of God, expressed not only in a new and radically evolutionary mysticism, but also in sacredly inspired, radical action on every level and in every arena.

It is this vision that I have been working on for three decades. It is this vision that works itself out, fugally, throughout [the] collection of my introductions and interviews called Radical Passion.

The passion I'm referring to has nothing whatever to do with emotionalism, theatricality, or even conventional and understandable forms of anger and outrage at injustice. It is divine and sacred passion – a vast, focused love energy – grounded in peace and knowledge of divine identity, increasingly purified of shadow and demonizing judgment and directed like a laser to the radical and urgent transformation of both our inner version of awakening and our outer practice of political and economic reality. . . . It is this steady, peaceful, compassionate passion that fuels the work of all those who now, seeing where we are, are prepared to gamble away their lives and resources for the possible creation of a new world.

In its ultimate divine origin, this passion is nothing less than the power, or Shakti, of the Mother side of God and of Her evolutionary will. Aligned with and inspired by this passion, there is nothing we cannot – even at his late desperate hour – accomplish. Without its radiant, clear, illumining energy, the energy of evolutionary wisdom itself, we will not be able to rise to the challenge of our times, and we will die out, taking a great deal of the already debilitated natural world with us. The word radical derives from the Latin radix, "root." The passion I am describing and trying to live springs from the root of the Divine itself and focuses its wild, pure energy on the roots of our evolutionary nightmare – our abandonment of the authentically sacred and mystical, our fatal dissociation from the glory and healing of the creation, our addiction to technology and science, our separation – so convenient to the elites who dominate our world – of divine reality and justice from active socio-economic and political reality. It is "radical" in the deepest and highest sense, because in order to be born in sufficient power, it requires – even demands – the death of the collective false human self, a total inner revolution that expresses itself directly in a rehaul of all current ways of being and doing everything. Millions of years ago, a group of brave, prescient, and desperate fish left the toxic sea that was killing them. They endured whatever they had to in order to be slowly and gruelingly transformed, in a wholly new dimension, into birds. The radical passion that drove them is the one that will have to drive us if we are to transform in time from our current dark and poisoned narcissism into joyful and humble servants of the birth of a new divine humanity.

Such a revolutionary transformation, although ferocious and extremely difficult, is, I believe, still possible, because it is willed by the Divine and supported by torrential divine grace. Whether the human race will choose its rigors and demands remains to be seen and is not by any means certain. We are as likely to choose the destructive shadow of global fascism and die out in a series of man-made and natural disasters as we are to be galvanized by revelation and heartbreak into sacred action. The very worst and the very best, the rivers of blood and the rivers of milk, as Rumi puts it, now run side by side. Everything now depends on us . . . on our courage in accepting almost unbearable ordeal as the gateway into new life and growth, on our radical passion to put the will of the Divine for a transformed humanity into inner and outer urgent action, on our creativity renewed in and inspired by divine peace, wisdom, and passionate compassion.

. . . When my great teacher and beloved, Father Bede Griffiths was dying, I asked him, "Do you really believe, with all you now see and know so clearly, that humanity will survive and transform?" He withdrew deeply into himself for one long moment and then said, "Yes, i do. What is to come will be harder than any of us can imagine, but a birth will take place." Then he smiled."It will be a great adventure, the greatest adventure of all."

In this great adventure , whose terrors, rigors, ordeals, and amazing possibilities are now becoming clear to those who dare to understand, radical, divine passion in action will be our fundamental fuel and source of creative wisdom and purpose. Anything we have to go through will be worth it in order to realize its power. Nothing we do, inspired by its fire, will be wasted. Whether you or I survive the coming storm of chaos does not matter as much as the peaceful, clear, and impassioned spirit with which we set about, right now, building in ourselves the divine strength and compassion necessary to go on going and building in the world the humble and tenacious structures of action that can weather whatever unfolds. On the rock of these truths we can build a house for a new humanity if we are illumined, fearless, and brave enough to risk everything.

For more of Andrew Harvey at The Wild Reed, see:
In the Garden of Spirituality – Andrew Harvey
Toby Johnson on the Mysticism of Andrew Harvey
A Dance of Divine Light
Remembering and Reclaiming a Wise, Spacious, and Holy Understanding of Homosexuality

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
Threshold Musings
Called to the Field of Compassion
Surrender Yourself
Love is an Adventure
Something to Think About – October 13, 2015
"Trajectory is More Important Than the Current Status"
In the Garden of Spirituality – Judy Cannato
In the Garden of Spirituality – Beatrice Bruteau
In the Garden of Spirituality – Ilia Delio
Buffy Sainte-Marie and That "Human-Being Magic"
Buffy Sainte-Marie's Lesson from the Cutting Edge: "Go Where You Must to Grow"
Buffy Sainte-Marie: "Sometimes You Have to Be Content to Plant Good Seeds and Be Patient"
Jesus: Mystic and Prophet
Sufism: Way of Love, Tradition of Enlightenment, and Antidote to Fanaticism
Doris Lessing on the Sufi Way
Doris Lessing and the Challenge to Go Beyond Ideological Slogans
Sufism: A Call to Awaken
As the Last Walls Dissolve . . . Everything is Possible
Clarity, Hope, and Courage
A Kind of Dancing Divinity
Michael Morwood on the Divine Presence
Discerning and Embodying Sacred Presence in Times of Violence and Strife
Prayer and the Experience of God in an Ever-Unfolding Universe
Divine Connection

Related Off-site Links:
Andrew Harvey's Official Website
How to Face a Trump Presidency: Resist, Reconnect, Renew – Sarah van Gelder (Yes! Magazine via Common Dreams, December 22, 2016).
Five Resistance Resolutions – Rob Burnett (Common Dreams, December 29, 2016).
The Great Resistance 2017 – Marianne Williamson (The Huffington Post, December 24, 2016).

Dance images: Bangarra Dance Company.
Radical Passion book cover: Photo by David Sutton, design by Suzanne Albertson.

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