Review: Radical Passion by Andrew Harvey

This week Zoe is reading Radical Passion, a collection of Andrew Harvey’s previously published works plus new interviews. It’s an epic tome that builds on his last book, The Hope, which outlined his argument for the importance of Sacred Activism in today’s crazy world. Sacred Activism is a combination of the mystic’s vision of unity and compassion with the activist’s passion for bringing about radical change in the world. Andrew Harvey believes we need a revolution in the way we tackle the many problems now facing us, and this book is his prescription.

The list of growing crises seems endless: ecological destruction and extinctions, social inequality and the erosion of civil liberties, rampant corruption… but there is a way through the maze. The key is to recognise the crises as symptoms of a global dark night of the soul being experienced individually and collectively. The shadow of the dying Age of Pisces: of rampant materialism and denial of Reality, is finally bearing its terrible fruits, and the call is going out for people to make positive changes to birth a new humanity and a new world.

“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.”

Andrew Harvey is often criticised for being a doom monger, but I think that’s unfair. He has little patience for the self-absorbed New Agers who believe that by eliminating all negative thought and refusing to look at the darkness, our problems will simply go away. Reality doesn’t work like that. Alchemy doesn’t begin in the light, but in the darkness with the dross and the shit. You can’t get to the light except through the darkness. You don’t get one without the other – reality is a whole; light and dark. So we can’t transform without a descent into the dark night. Rebirth only comes after the crucifixion; the dawn comes after night.

Only those in denial and fear of their shadows could believe we aren’t now in serious trouble. It’s time for us to wake up to the challenge of being true adults, grounded in a spirituality that has its roots in reality, not in our narcissism and self-indulgent fantasies.

It’s time for the ultimate wake-up call.

Radical Passion, if read in one big gulp, could feel repetitive, as Harvey rams home his message: the way through the darkness of our dire apocalypse. So perhaps it’s better to pace yourself. Live with the book over time and let it work from the depths of your soul and up.

There are two linked aspects of the dark night that those mystics who have entered into the divinising field know and can guide us into. The first is passive and demands total surrender to the necessary brutal alchemy of the Divine.…This is the way of the lover, known in all authentic mystical systems. It begins where reason and any desire for comfort, security, and ordinary survival end. To carry it through to its transfiguring goal, you have to be, as Rumi said, ‘strong, wild, and fearless as a lion.’

The second linked aspect of the dark night process is active. As horror, chaos, and agony do their ordained work of burning down in you every hiding place of addiction and illusion, you have to find the courage to awaken, without mask or illusion, to the agony of the burning world. Then you will discover in yourself the compassion for all sentient beings trapped in this worldwide fire. …you have to open to the heartbreak of the planet, be shattered finally open by it and set about with grounded peace and focused passion to put all your inner and outer resources into radical action. The way of the lover then opens into the way of the sacred warrior. …

Marry the opposites of unconditional, passionate surrender to the inner and outer disintegration process of the false self with an active, passionate, fearless commitment to do everything you can with your own unique gifts and resources for the world, and you will be given all the divine energy, power, and love that you need to become a midwife of the birth. Then, whatever happens, you will be living a humble, authentically divine life.”

>Find out more about Sacred Activism here


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