In the September/October 2006 issue of Spirituality and Health magazine, Andrew Harvey in an article on Sacred Activism is quoted as saying: When the coming crisis reveals itself fully, it will threaten us at the most fundamental depths. If we aren’t rooted in our spiritual identity, we will be driven into meaninglessness and despair unless there are people to say, “No, this horror can be healed through the sublime truth! We will survive and we will find purpose and joy and love through sacred practice and sacred action.” In fact, that is the whole point of the crisis – to drive us to that place where we, as a species, will have to go into our divine nature. The truth of our situation brings tremendous turmoil, a huge, sacred turbulence into the core of one’s life, but this turbulence is the condition for the flowering of more and more divine grace, divine passion, and divine energy…I know there is a way to be a conscious creator with God in this stupendous birth of the divine human taking place through the chaos of our time…and that is the way of the sacred activist. But the word ‘sacred’ carries with it the need for great inner transformation. Only when we have truly surrendered our will to God, only when our minds and hearts are shattered open by what we have created out of our ignorance, will we go deep enough to the divine within and bring out the energies of transformation.”
These elegant words speak the truth to me and at the same time turn me off!
I have to wrestle with my knee jerk reaction to words like ‘God,’ ‘ sacred,’ ‘divine,’ even ‘energies of transformation,’ words whose meaning I can appreciate only by looking beneath them, experiencing and defining them for myself. How many of us are willing to do that? Divine this and sacred that may be too easily dismissed by the masses of people in the industrialized nations of the northern hemisphere as new age mumbo-jumbo or too divine, too sacred, too spiritual for ordinary humans who live mundane lives.
I want sacred activism to spread far and wide, because the notion lights a fire in me. And yet the definitions don’t ignite the tinder, it’s the pairing of those paradoxical words that sparks.
Sacred by definition refers to anything connected to God or dedicated to a religious purpose, including embodying the laws of religion or anything regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group or individual.
Activism on the other hand is any policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.
So I ask myself what does sacred activism mean to me?
Sacred activism means I have no choice. WHAT? Yup, I said it. I have no choice. In 1994, I painted this picture called Inside Out inspired by a vision I experienced while holding an Ecstatic Wisdom Posture .
The image might have been called You Choose as my accompanying journal entry reveals:
Black and white Kachinas dance in the center of a circle. Suddenly a tiny orange and red Kachina leaps into the middle I wonder where the women are. I find them off to the side, standing in a circle dressed in black shrouds as they help a woman give birth. Suddenly I see through the eyes of one of the black and white Kachinas. As he swings his head from side to side, I see the desecrated earth and the green beautiful earth and I hear him chant,
“You choose, you choose, you choose.”
Then the animals come spilling through, their eyes peering out of the rainforest, watching us. A huge heart rises in the midst of the circle of dancers. I see its wounds and also that it is healing itself. A river of green slashes through the heart, carrying heart energy and spilling green all over the earth. I see that the green river has opened the heart so I can see the texture of its interior. I am shocked to see it is the same texture as that of the molten “holy” rocks I saw yesterday in the Jemez Mountains. I wonder if our heart’s interior simply mirrors the earth outside our bodies, if all our bodies’ parts and functions reflect the earth outside us.
Can that be right?
Is the earth really outside us?
Maybe, instead, the earth is ourselves turned inside out.
Years later, I understood that I have no choice. My head stays turned facing the green beautiful earth. My love for life is so deeply rooted in my coeur and so passionately cellular that I no longer have to question how I live. Can you appreciate what a relief that is – no more second guessing, no more equivocating, no more resisting…I am as I am…passionately in love with the miracle of being here on this tiny dynamic world floating in the unfathomable seas of infinity…that bone deep awareness of sentient presence all around me is always present guiding me, honing me, tuning me…
I have no choice – that’s the first thing that springs to my mindheart about what being a sacred activist means to me.
(I’ll continue this exploration about what sacred activism means to me as an elder in my next post. The final two posts in this series will look at sacred activism from the perspective of the young ones, the twenty somethings who are inheriting the world we are leaving them. I have learned much from witnessing their stories.)