Andrew

UP #121: Sacred Activism in a Hostile World with Andrew Harvey

Andrew Harvey is a multi-book author, passionate speaker and Founder Director of the Institute of Sacred Activism, an international organization focused on inviting concerned people to take up the challenge of our contemporary global crises by becoming inspired, effective, and practical agents of institutional and systemic change, in order to create peace and sustainability.

Andrew’s history is rich. He was born in south India where he lived until he was 9 years old. He credits this early period in his life with shaping his sense of the inner unity of all religions and providing him with a permanent and inspiring vision of a world infused with the sacred. He left India to attend private school in England and entered Oxford University in 1970 with a scholarship to study history. At the age of 21, he became the youngest person ever to be awarded a fellowship to All Soul’s College, England’s highest academic honor.

By 1977, Andrew was disillusioned with life at Oxford and returned to his native India, where a series of mystical experiences initiated his spiritual journey. Over the next thirty years he plunged into different mystical traditions to learn their secrets and practices. In 1978 he met a succession of Indian saints and sages and began his long study and practice of Hinduism. There is far more to Andrew’s profound story, but for brevity, his life path is one of studying, writing, and speaking passionately about the sacred, mysticism, and inspiring sacred activism in a far reaching context.

A few years ago, I read Andrew’s book, The Hope. This was when I first discovered sacred activism, a form of activism that aligned with the path I was embarking on. As a long-time animal rights, environmental and social justice activist, I’d grown weary and disillusioned with the fighting and resistance-based activism that is most familiar in our world. It was no longer working for me, nor was it working for those I was supposedly fighting for. I knew there was a better way that aligned with the spiritual path I was embracing. The Hope gave me hope. It inspired in me the activism that was already emerging quite naturally, but that I had no language for. It was this activism that birthed the Unplug podcast as well as my book, Unplug. Needless to say, Andrew’s work has had a profound influence on my life.

In this week’s passionate conversation, we discuss:

  • The era of Trump: When the shadow descends on the globe.
  • How the coma of denial has been broken. Now what?
  • What is sacred activism?
  • Transforming anger into passion to create change.
  • Why we must feel the deepest pain of our most intense heartbreak.
  • The danger of new age “spirituality”.
  • Resting in the unknown.
  • Living in a state of abandonment and true love in action.
  • Embracing uncertainty as a path to liberation.
  • The spiritual nature of animals.
  • How animals reconnect us to our own Souls.
  • The difference between happiness and joy.
  • How joy is always with us.

Enjoy this inspiring conversation with the eloquent, passionate, inspirational, and activated, Andrew Harvey.

Andrew Harvey and Guy McPherson

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This Post Has 5 Comments
  1. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview. I have been a big fan of Mr. Harvey for quite some time now, and I think that his book The Hope is a powerful book so far. I do believe that the reason why activism has not been successful is because of the unresolved issues of many people who claim to want to change the world for the better-I personally think that the reason why Trump won is because too many ‘well-meaning’ people have refused to take a good assessment of themselves. It’s very easy to point to the Ultra-Right, when the Left has problems of its own. A sterling example is the Occupy Wall Street Movement, where many, many women within the movement complained bitterly about the misogyny within OWS and were able to give concrete examples of what they were talking about (rape jokes, unwanted touching, ideas by women being ignored, etc.). While the state came down hard on OWS, the internal problems of the movement didn’t make the takedown too terribly hard. There are other examples, like the hatred of transgender women within the Feminist Movement, and the infighting of Pacifica Radio that has gotten so bad at times that there were actual fist fights during board meetings. Small wonder that the Far Right is a reflection of the world’s dysfunction and hypocrisies.

    My concern is that, as much as I agree with Mr. Harvey that spiritual activism is the way to go, I don’t know if he’s thought about the fact that so many activists are atheists and agnostics-so the kind of inner spiritual work needed to be a sacred activist would be rejected by such people. Just how effective could spiritual activism be in such a situation? Do the spiritual activists simply go on with their work and not worry about the other activists?

    1. Totally agreed Diane. It makes no difference if a “movement” is left, right; up, down; backwards, forwards, etc. If those within the movement expect change to occur “outside” while they remain “victims” to their own wounding inside, inertia, stagnation, and backsliding will always be the outcome. All those who work to change systems are deluding themselves. There is no incentive for systems to change. Like corporations (and all other cultural entities), systems have no morals—no conscience. A “win” with one government is a “lose” with another when the “new” dudes in charge (let’s get real, they’re all the same) simply wipe the slate clean and do it their way, as can be seen with Trump and his cronies.

      I also agree that most activists can’t be bothered doing the inner work. In our culture of blame and victim consciousness, it’s just easier for them to point the finger and project their rage at the perpetrators of destruction and violence, than it is to look within and take ownership for those places within that perpetuate the very destruction and violence that they are “fighting” against. Been there, done that. Glad I’m no longer in that place.

      It’s a strange place to be. I no longer relate to activists because the unhealed, stagnant rage is toxic and I want no part of it. I also find it challenging to relate to those who profess to be “spiritual”, as they are often steeped in their own narcissism under the guise of “unconditional love”. Spiritual activism is messy, raw, vulnerable, passionate, fierce, and yet, it is highly effective. Although I don’t label myself a “spiritual activist”, I relate to Andrew’s description and I know how it has transformed my life.

      In relation to my own life (re spiritual activism), I simply go on with my work and don’t bother with other activists. I have zero control over anyone’s life anyways, so why waste that energy when I can put it into something that matters to me, like caring for animals and the natural world? It means redefining community and meaning to suit our own individual needs however. I’m not part of an activist, spiritual or spiritual activist community. I am a community of one, and yet I’m never alone. If you haven’t read my recent post, I’ve processed my latest heart musings and put them on display for anyone willing to join me on this deep journey of the Soul.

      Unlike Andrew, I know it’s too late. I don’t believe in a .0000000000000001% chance of getting out of this mess. So he and I are coming from different places. For me, the activism is far more personal. I do it because I care. Not to change the world or anyone else, but for the evolution of my own Soul and just because I love this planet so very much!

      Perhaps some of this will resonate. 🙂

  2. It absolutely does resonate! I am very, very glad that I discovered you! As much as I admire Andrew Harvey, I am more in your camp. I have been feeling a real ambivalence towards the human collective for quite some time, and at first I thought that I had a problem, but now I think that it’s patriarchal spiritual beliefs that tell us that we must love those that may hate and hurt us, that we must suffer for our path-something that never made any sense to me at all! The matrilineal spiritual traditions seem to be much more for empowerment and protection of the seeker, which is the path that I relate to much more. And, like you, I agree that the human race is finished-something that I have learned to be OK with. I think that what this earth will be going through will be a true baptism by fire that the human race needs to go through and brought on itself.

    Marie-Louise von Franz believed that the only thing you can do is to work on yourself, and that wanting the change the world was a childish illusion. I have to say that I agree with her at this point in the human condition.

    Thank you so much for your comment.

    Take care 😀

  3. Dear Deb, I listened to your interview with Andrew Harvey last night. And I also listened to some of his interview with Guy McPherson. First, I want to say thank you. I’m trying to figure out how to exist after an intense and painful awakening, during this very dark time, which sadly may be the end. The natural world has always guided me and healed my spirit. I’m devastated at the lack of care humans have shown toward the Earth and each other. What you’ve said resonates with me. It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who feels this way.I also feel like a community of one. The experience of psychic phenomena led me to investigate many spiritual paths. The amount of spiritual materialism in the U.S. is also disillusioning. I suppose nothing is beyond commodification. I began reading Andrew’s book after an intense lucid dream last spring that I now realize was prescient. Now trying to integrate all this and figure out how to live without completely despairing. Your words and voice helped. Thank you.

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