Santa Cruz Good Times

Oct 10th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Into the Eye of the Storm

AE_HarveySacred Activism as a path of transformation
What breaks your heart?” Andrew Harvey believes that when we each answer this question we’ll be inspired to engage in compassionate and radical action to transform humanity. The India-born poet and translator is also director of The Institute for Sacred Activism and author of many books including “The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism” and “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying” with Patrick Gaffney and Sogyal Rinpoche. His newest book, with Karuna Erickson, is “Heart Yoga: The Sacred Marriage of Yoga and Mysticism.”

Harvey will be in Santa Cruz to share his vision of Sacred Activism as the birthing force of a new humanity on Feb. 24 and 25 at Inner Light Ministries. GT spoke with Andrew about possibilities for positive change.

GOOD TIMES: I’d like to hear your vision for transforming the United States, a country

permanently at war where economic and retributive violence is the status quo.

ANDREW HARVEY: Also, we’ve just been sold to the corporations by the Supreme Court, which has given corporations carte blanche to invest in American politics. We are in the best democracy that money can buy! It’s amazing to me that the American people aren’t on the streets because this is actually the prelude, potentially, to the rule of fascism.

I’m very alarmed, too, at the spiritual response to this. We’ve had a spirituality that’s sanctified greed and consumerism and has been not at all concerned with political and social transformation at the very moment that they are needed most.

How can we change structures of domination and control?

The corporations are certainly not going to go through a quick change of heart. People have to face that there is very little hope in the political system. The responsibility for major change now lies in us. The one hope for the world is in a global mass movement of love in action. I’m devoting everything I’m doing to mobilizing people into what I call networks of grace.

ae_thehopecoverExplain more about these activist networks.

Networks of grace are cells of between six to 12 people who are gathered around heartbreak or a cause. There will be networks dealing with environmental protest and transformation and the creation of different forms of energy. There will be networks working on poverty, famine and the transformation of our relationship to animals.

What I suggest to people who really wish to discover what their mission is in this chaos is that they get up at three o’clock in the morning, ground themselves in the divine in whatever way is natural to them and ask themselves, “What breaks my heart?” Rumi said that when you uncover your heartbreak you uncover a compassion that will never run dry.

In “The Hope” you write, “I am not a dogmatic pacifist ... In certain extreme situations, which I pray do not arise but could, I would be prepared to take up arms and use force.”

Everybody should, as far as possible, pursue the path of nonviolence. I also believe that given the situation as it is—the omnipotence of the corporations, the strength of the military-industrial complex—we might, and I say might, be brought to a situation so extreme that even those who have committed ourselves to nonviolence would consider a disciplined, focused and economic use of force. When I interviewed His Holiness The Dalai Lama he said something which permanently changed my mind, “If it comes to the necessity of using force, only those people can be trusted to use force … who have been profoundly, over a long time and with a deep spiritual intensity, trained in nonviolence.” Obviously the use of violence must be the absolutely last resort.

You recommend uniting spiritual practice and social change into sacred activism. Many of us are interested in balancing what you call, “the sacred marriage between serenity and urgency.” How best to train ourselves as sacred activists?

I suggest that people combine four kinds of practice: cool practices like vippassana meditation, breathing, calm mantra repetition, and visualizations; heart practices which enable you to keep your heart open and compassionate even when the world is burning; prayer practice and lastly sacred body practice. My book “Heart Yoga” brings together yoga in its most ancient, mystical form with practices from all of the mystical traditions.

What the world is going through is an equivalent of a dark night of the soul; it’s a dark night of a species. We are heading into the eye of a perfect storm of crises that threaten the extinction of the human race and the desecration of a great deal of nature. We have ignored all the warnings and indulged in a vast coca-coma. I also believe that this is not the end for the human race. This is a wake up call for the human race to get real about putting love, compassion and wisdom into urgent, focused, radical action. If millions of us take up this challenge then what this great death that is materializing all over the plant will turn out to be will be the birthing canal for a new humanity.

What Breaks Your Heart Open? will be a discussion with Andrew Harvey on Friday, Feb. 25, at 7 p.m. at Inner Light Ministries, 5630 Soquel Drive with Rev. Deborah Johnson and spoken word artist, Lex. Tickets are $15 at Gateways Books and Join Harvey with Eric Schneider on Thursday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. for Rumi’s Embrace—Hope for Humanity. A limited number of tickets are available for $40. Call 426-5755 to leave a reservation message. Check out for more information. John Malkin is a local writer, musician and host of The Great Leap Forward, Wednesdays at 7 p.m. on Free Radio Santa Cruz, 101.1FM and
Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Rebecca Kemble, March 19, 2011
Interesting that this was published on the first day of the occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol and massive demonstrations that are still going on today.

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Hot in Here

This ain’t no Burning Man—the MAH’s GLOW festival flames on


Mercury Direct in Libra, Columbus Day, Libra New Moon

Mercury completes its retrograde Friday, poised stationary direct Friday evening at zero degrees Libra. Mercury begins its journey through Libra once again, completing its retrograde shadow Oct. 12. Things should be a bit less complicated by then. Daily life works better, plans move forward, large purchases can be made, and communication eases. Everything on hold during the retrograde is slowly released. Since we eliminated all thoughts and ideas no longer needed (the purpose of Mercury’s retrograde) during the retrograde, we can now gather new information—until the next retrograde occurs on Jan. 5, 2016 (1.3 degrees Aquarius), retrograding back to 15 degrees Capricorn on Jan. 25. It’s good to know beforehand when Mercury will retrograde next—Jan. 5, the day before Epiphany. On Monday is Columbus Day, when the sailor from Genoa arrived in the new lands (Americas), Oct. 12, 1492. This discovery by Columbus was the first encounter of Europeans with Native Americans. Other names for this day are “Discovery Day, Day of the Americas, Cultural Diversity Day, Indigenous People’s Day, and Dia de la Raza.” Italian communities especially celebrate this day. Oct. 12 is also Thanksgiving Day in Canada. Monday is also the (19 degrees) Libra new moon festival. Libra’s keynote while building the personality is, “Let choice be made.” Libra is the sign of making life choices. Often under great tension of opposing forces seeking harmony and balance. There is a battle between our lower (personality) and higher selves (soul). We are tested and called to cultivate right judgment and love. When we align with the will-to-good, right choice, then right judgment and love/wisdom come forth. Our tasks in Libra. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of October 9

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


Seoul Food

Santa Cruz’s new Sesame Korean is a great introduction to an ancient culinary tradition


Is there evil in the world?

Yes, some people don’t think right because they have been treated badly. Milo Robbins, Scotts Valley, Second Grade


Dos Aguilas Olive Oil

Aptos company is letting locals pick their own olives in October


What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When people say they’re “going down” somewhere, and they’re actually traveling north. Julia Ragen, Santa Cruz, Psychologist