“All divine visions are hard to embody. They require hard work. You have to keep looking at your own shadow — and sacred activists have two shadows: they have the shadow of the mystic, longing to escape into the light and leave the world behind; and they have the shadow of the activist, which is full of denunciation and divisiveness and anger. But if you examine those two shadows long enough, something amazing happens: the mystic’s shadow gets purified by the activist’s, and vice versa.” ~ Andrew Harvey, The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism
The human condition is a multi-layered, multifaceted, superbly complicated, but infinitely fascinating phenomenon of nature. Sometimes even our shadows wear masks. Indeed, even our shadows can have shadows.
And, really, the more we know, the more shadows we create. This is one of the reasons why knowledge is pain and ignorance is bliss.
Like Clarissa Pinkola Estes wrote, “One of the least discussed issues of individuation is that as one shines light into the dark of the psyche as strongly as one can, the shadows, where the light is not, grow even darker.”
Knowledge is power, true, but with great power comes great responsibility. As such, we are just as much responsible for our powers of darkness as we are for our powers of light. Like I told one of my readers in the comment section of Splinter in the Mind, Part 1, “The only thing that makes me happier than being a beacon of light in the dark, is being a beacon of dark in the light.”
1) Balancing heart with mind
“Creativity is intelligence having fun.” ~ Albert Einstein
Imagine the heart and the mind as seeds. As with all seeds, they must be opened in order to grow. When the heart is open, love flows. When the mind is open, imagination flows. The task of all sacred activists is to balance these two powers.
As mystics, when we get the urge to escape, we can leverage our power by remembering that love requires an interconnected frequency. As activists, when we get the urge to be overbearing with our ideals, we can leverage our power by remembering that progress requires compassion.
Love nourishes imagination and imagination nourishes love. Beautiful art is created in such ways: paintings like Guernica by Picasso, novels like 1984 by Orwell, music like Bullet in the Head by Rage against the Machine. Balancing heart with mind creates a Zen-like experience of proactive meditation that is a force to be reckoned with.
2) Balancing soul with body
“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.” ~ Amy Bloom
Imagine the ego is a caterpillar and the soul is a butterfly. One transforms into another. But never forget that the backbone of your soul will always be your ego, just as the butterfly’s makeup will always be the caterpillar. Our ego is our embodiment of self, our psyche-body interrelationship.
Our soul is our individuation of self, our self-realized interconnectedness to all things. When soul is balanced with body (ego), individuation occurs, and we liberate ourselves to become self-actualized.
As mystics, when we feel the urge to leave everything behind and become one with the cosmos, we can leverage our power by realizing that part of becoming one with the cosmos is being an individuated force of nature for the cosmos.
As Activists, when we have the urge to stick to our guns, forsaking all others, we can leverage our power by understanding and being tolerant of the fact that most people are still on the path toward liberation. Balancing soul with body creates a Zen-like experience of active, walking meditation, where both the ego and the soul become powerful tools for transforming reality.
3) Balancing presence with action
“A little knowledge that acts is worth infinitely more than much knowledge that is idle.” ~ Khalil Gibran
Imagine an inactive Gandhi. Imagine an inactive Martin Luther King Jr. It wouldn’t even matter if they were present, individuated, self-actualized people if they weren’t proactive about it. Without action, their presence would have been limited to just themselves. We need more people whose presence has become active.
We are faced with a worldwide addiction to money and power, and a worldwide existential depression that is affecting everything on the planet.
Like Terence McKenna said, “Western civilization is a loaded gun pointed at the head of this planet.”
The only way to break these two spells of addiction and depression is through individuals who are both present and active, who are both aware of things and a force of nature to be reckoned with. It will require a wakeup call of global proportions, and sacred activists will be the ones carrying the bullhorns.
Like Andrew Harvey wrote, “For people to come together, they must first be broken by what is happening. When people allow the horror and pain and sorrow of this time to go through their heart like a spear, the thought of hiding away in their private devotions becomes repulsive. They need to turn their love into action.”
4) Balancing transcendence with immanence
“Wisdom ceases to be wisdom when it becomes too proud to weep, too grave to laugh, and too selfish to seek other than itself.” ~ Khalil Gibran
There is no outside without inside. There is no infinity without finitude. There can neither be internal nor external without middle. We are the middle. We are the sacred balance. We are the paradoxical crux of the cosmos, the pinpoint upon which the entire universe hangs in the balance.
We, each of us, are a sacred spark in an otherwise mundane fire, impossibly perceiving beginnings and endings, love and angst, hunger and satiation, life and death.
It is our duty as spiritual activists to be the walking personification of the Middle Way, poised between the sacred and the profane.
Like Loius G. Herman wrote, “Self-mastery, maturity, and wisdom are defined by our ability to hold the tension between opposites.”
Transcendence is a state of tranquility discovered through the perception of outer limitlessness and its permeation of all things. Immanence is a state of tranquility obtained through the perception of inner limitlessness and its permeation of all things.
Both states require an observer, a middle ground, a sacred impermanence to perceive the paradoxical interconnectedness of all things.
When transcendence and immanence are balanced, both the mystic and the activist inside us are humbled, and true loving compassion, tolerance, and forgiveness becomes a possibility. Forgiveness is the liberation of the soul. We need to forgive all things, not because all things are worthy of our forgiveness, but because we are worthy of peace.
Like Lao Tzu said, “If a person seems wicked, do not cast him away. Awaken him with your words. Elevate him with your deeds. Repay his injury with your kindness. Do not cast him away; cast away his wickedness.”
When we allow ourselves to be worthy of peace, we liberate the peace within others, which allows for the propagation of more and more peace, like an irresistible domino effect toward a healthier planet for us all.