From Ethical Politics
Sacred activism, also known as spiritual activism, is the practice of fomenting social, cultural, or political change through the combined use of activist organizing techniques and spiritual principles.
Sacred activism is "a transforming force of compassion-in-action that is born of a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage, love, and passion, with wise radical action in the world." It is built around the "two sacred fires": the passion and love for both God and justice. When these two fires are combined--the mystics' fire for God and the activists' fire for justice--they engender a third fire, which is "divine love and wisdom in action," which has a far greater transforming power then either force individually.
The fundamental basis of sacred activism is as follows: a spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic, and social institutions, a holy force - the power of wisdom and love in action - is born. This force is defined as sacred activism.
Practitioners of sacred activism
Sacred activism was practiced by people like Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama, Nelson Mandela, Rosa Parks and Desmond Tutu. Each of these individuals rose up to meet the challenges of their time with great spiritual grace and integrated inner contemplation with decisive action. The work of Paul Ray and Paul Hawken reveals to us that there is in our contemporary world an arising of different groups of concerned people anxious for change. Sacred activism provides these people with a system of thought and traditional wisdom practices to help support the kind of transformative change that is necessary for the world to be preserved.
Both contemporary spiritual seekers, and activists have traditionally not been connected to a vision of action that is inspiring, hopeful and rooted in deep spiritual wisdom and compassion. Some spiritual seekers, for instance, use spiritual knowledge as a subtle way of dissociating from hands-on realistic social, economic, and political engagement in the world, thereby ensuring that the world and its people will be abandoned in its hour of extreme need.
Activists, on the other hand, are prone to complete exhaustion, burn out, and debilitating and divisive rage and are often cut off from the healing and transforming wisdom of the spiritual traditions and the simple techniques, prayers, and practices that could sustain, inspire, and nourish them in their heroic endeavors.
Proponents of sacred activism believe that the large-scale implementation of this practice can become an essential force for preserving and healing the planet and its inhabitants, and for contributing to the evolution of the species, helping to give birth to the next level of humanity, which is a spiritually-integrated being known as the "Divine Human."
- Andrew Harvey and the Institute for Sacred Activism
- The Great Death: Andrew Harvey on Sacred Activism - video interview on YouTube.
- The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, Andrew Harvey, Hay House, 2009.
- "A Story of Sacred Activism" - excerpt from Andrew Harvey's The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism, Reality Sandwich, September 24, 2009.