Andrew Harvey on Our Global Dark Night

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My dear friends, I am honored and thrilled to be able to talk to you directly, and right from my heart to yours, the truth that is emerging about this devastating time. The only way I believe that you can understand, or begin to understand, the immensity of what is happening to us is to begin to realize that we are living an unprecedented Kali event, a global dark night. This global dark night has now begun with great dramatic ferocity. We are in the furnace of evolutionary transfiguration, and the door of the furnace has been shut. What this means is that we must so deeply expand our sense of who we really are that we become strong enough to surrender totally to the mother.

What this means is that we have to find in the depths of ourselves, as the crystallization of all of our years of longing and searching, the courage to say to ourselves that we have reached the time when we need to die into life, so as to be transfigured into the divine human. If we can find in ourselves the insane sane courage to will this sacred death, utterly amazing vistas of possibility that are being born in the seething madness, chaos, horror, of what is happening, and what will happen, will reveal themselves. What I have learned on my journey is that the eruption of the dark night is the most extreme imaginable blessing. It is the sign that one whole way of life is over and another is struggling in its magnificent turbulence to be born.

When I went through my dark night, the only thing that got me through was that I was given the map for the process by Rumi and by my great teacher who was himself being transfigured, Father Bede Griffiths, and why having a map for the dark night is so crucial at this moment is that it gives you the geometry of the massive crumbling that you are inevitably going to go through if you don't waste this supreme opportunity that the dark night is offering of dying to the past, dying to your full self, dying to your greed, dying to desire for power, dying to your belief that you are enlightened, dying into deeper and deeper embrace of the exploding mystery of unimaginable divine human birth. The great mystery that is now unfolding in terror and grandeur before our eyes.

What I also learned in the agony of my dark night is how essential it is to know the end of that map as you are writhing in the pain of the process. To know that the dark night is never when it is deeply surrendered to the end, but the beginning, the beginning of installed, embodied divine life and presence in heart, mind, soul, and body. And why knowing this is both utterly amazing and deeply empowering when you are suffering horribly, is that it gives you a vision of who you will be when you have died into the arms of the eternal light of the eternal beloved. It gives you, however brokenly and fragmentally, a picture, a living, burning picture of the being that you will become when you submit totally to the laws of the mother's evolution, the law of death and rebirth, crucifixion and resurrection.

Having this picture, this icon, a flame in the core of your imagination and of your belief in your faith as you writhe in the sufferings of the dark night, gives you the guts, and the courage, and the faith, and the endurance, and the stamina, to take the dissolution that's necessary to let the black acid of the exploding suffering burn away your shields, and masks, and fantasies, and delusions, so that you can become one with the whole of reality in rapture through the grace of the dark mother, the Golden Kali. This isn't something I read in a book. This is something I am living, and this is something that I came to live with you because this is the time in our evolutionary journey that we have reached a threshold in which two paths are now the only two paths that we can take.

We can continue in our fantasy of separation, and our appalling arrogance and hubris, and our insane consumerism. We can continue like that, but it will lead to total chaos, total catastrophe, and eventual, if not swift annihilation, because the coronavirus is not the only global catastrophe that we are dealing with. It's the smaller of the two in fact, because the great catastrophe is the completely collapsing environment. This terrible circumstance is the real amazing grace because it offers you and I the chance of all of our lifetimes to take the mystical path and the promise of transfiguration that the greatest mystics have always known was possible.

To take the noblest possible imagination of who we are and what we can be, and work with it at such a depth of truth, and authenticity, and rawness, and sheer bloody anguished need, that we finally turn up as collaborators of the great birthing process of the mother. Turn up in such a way that she can pour herself into us mind, thought, soul, and body, and birth us as divine human sacred activists coming together with unique passions, and skills, and hopes, and visions, to co-create with her a wholly new way of being and doing everything. This is the second path, and it is laid out for us.

It is the deep meaning of the tragic and amazing dark night birthing process we are in, and it is the potential goal that we could reach if we allowed our global dark night to truly burn away everything in our personal and communal full selves that keep us separate from each other, the creation, and the burning light source that is always fueling all of the universes. What an amazing adventure this is, and why I have such a devotion to Shift is that Shift has given me the opportunity to pour out what I'm learning about this birthing process.

Doing that with everything that I now feel I have been given to know and have to offer has been for me a source of ecstasy in the middle of the agony of facing just exactly where we are, so I'm speaking to you out of the kind of birthing consciousness that I feel we need. One that holds the full horror of what's happening without any pretense, and one that is simultaneously open to the glorious mystery of being transformed by this dying into a living, deathless, embodied, divine, ragged, gorgeously eccentrically unique human being, linking with other human beings to co-create with the wild and holy mother a new way of being and doing everything.

Andrew Harvey is an author, speaker, and founder/director of the Institute of Sacred Activism, an international organization focused on inviting concerned people to take up the challenge of our contemporary global crises by becoming inspired, effective, and practical agents of institutional and systemic change in order to create peace and sustainability.

Andrew has taught at Oxford University, Cornell University, Hobart and William Smith Colleges, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and the University of Creation Spirituality as well as at various spiritual centers throughout the U.S. He was the subject of the 1993 BBC film documentary, The Making of a Modern Mystic, and appears also in Rumi Turning Ecstatic and The Consciousness of the Christ: Reclaiming Jesus for A New Humanity. 

He is co-author of the bestselling The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, and has worked with the great Iranian Sufi dancer Banafsheh Sayyad in producing a film, In the Fire of Grace, which marries Sufi-inspired dances to the stages of Rumi’s understanding of the path of divine love.

Andrew’s many books include Turn Me to Gold: 108 Poems of Kabir... Sun at Midnight: A Memoir of the Dark Night... The Essential Mystics... and The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.

Click here to visit Andrew’s website.

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This article appears in: 2020 Catalyst, Issue 11: Mindfulness & Meditation Summit