“The Severity of our Predicament”

In Radical Regeneration: Birthing the New Human in the Age of Extinction by Andrew Harvey and Carolyn Baker (iuniverse, 2020), the authors want to make sure that we understand “the severity of our predicament” today from the pandemic, climate change, racial inequality, and political unrest. Yet their main discussions center around the optimism of our human evolution at this time.

Harvey and Baker point out three concerns that they feel “we as a race have avoided…

1) Fundamental systemic change of our political and economic institutions and ways of living with nature.

2) unified and global revolution of Sacred Activism. 

3) A far deeper, richer, nobler vision of the divine and of our potential.”

While I agree that all three of these concerns must be addressed, I don’t feel the need to discuss the changes in our political and economic institutions, nor connecting with nature. Those are probably obvious to most readers. Years ago, I was inspired by Harvey’s Sacred Activism that he defines as “a mystic’s passion for God with an activist’s passion for justice.” That fire for social activism continues to burn within me but is not my focus, either. This book, however, started me on my recent mystic journey. For that reason, Harvey and Baker’s wish for a “deeper vision of the divine and of our own potential” is most significant for me.

“Our ultimate soul sickness and ultimate origin of our planetary predicament is the belief that we are separate from all other living beings.” Harvey and Baker

“…the real work, the real journey is inward. There is unequivocally nowhere else to go.” Baker

The above two quotations seem to explain the work we must now do if we hope for a greater future. They further the idea of “a nobler vision of the divine and of our potential.” Our view of the divine and reaching a new potential aren’t difficult. Both are clear. Both require our recognizing that what holds us back is simply within us. Without work on ourselves, any external actions will ultimately fail. The main problem is our “belief that we are separate” when, in fact, we are connected to the divine and to every other being. If we accept that, we can begin to heal. Imagine never feeling alone. Imagine understanding that all of our actions impact others. Imagine everyone gravitating towards helping others. That is the world we want to create, the world that will save us. As Harvey and Baker state, “We are deeply challenged to understand viscerally that what we do to the ‘other,’ we do to ourselves.”

“Within our wounds is where the potential for transformation lies” Harvey and Baker

Accepting our inherent connection to others and to the divine is the first step. A second step is to feel and recognize our wounds. Only then can we heal and envision a better view of ourselves. The wound may be the cause of our disconnection. As I was writing this post, I was blindsided by a long buried memory of my perceived blame for my niece’s suicide almost thirty years ago. The details are insignificant here, especially since I have written about her actions before. But the old pain resurfaced after reading Harvey and Baker’s words. We often don’t know the pain that is holding us back. Being open to any possibilities, even long ago hidden ones, can help us grow. My remembrance did that as I released any misplaced blame. I wonder how many others have surprising wounds lurking and keeping us locked in a negative view. Confronting them doesn’t need years of therapy. Not making light of any professional healing, I trust each one of you will know what is necessary. Often just an acknowledgement and opening to the pain is “where the potential for transformation lies.”

“To claim that anyone knows or could know the outcome is absurd.” Harvey and Baker

“The severity of our predicament” is real. Each day the news brings another disaster for us to comprehend: Unusually powerful storms cutting off power for millions, senseless shootings harming innocents, new strains of coronavirus appearing, and insufficient vaccine doses being available. All take an economic and emotional toll on too many people. We thought 2021 was going to be an improvement, yet so far that has not been true. There is no assurance of a better future anytime soon. We simply do not know. All of our correct actions may or may not offset the current negativity. But Harvey and Baker provide a blueprint of needed political, economic and climate reform, Sacred Activism, and inner work to assist us. Ignoring the reality of our difficult and demanding situation, even though an uncomfortable truth, is no longer an option.

“Prepare for the very worst, and continue to live with joy and creativity and compassion tirelessly for the very best.” Dalai Lama

Baker requests that “We not waste this crisis,” and continue to do our part to make the world better, both externally and internally. Acknowledge the dark times, but also acknowledge the many examples of human kindness and outreach exhibited. The most important element, however, is to be sure to not accept the disconnection from our soul and from the divine. Don’t ignore the wounds, hidden or obvious, keeping us hostage.

“Your longing for a new world can only be revealed in you, to you by simple opening to spiritual possibility.” Harvey and Baker

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