The Conscious Activist -- where activism meets mysticism

By James O’Dea - Preface from his new book

Activists and mystics are pioneers and adventurers. They leave the safer territory of comforting spirituality and charitable service and venture to the edges of personal and social transformation. They have a degree of longing and passion that makes some people uncomfortable. They have an unsettling degree of intensity. They ache for breakthroughs. They destabilize normality. They rock the boat of acceptability. They go off the radar screen of life’s prescribed trajectories only to return bursting with ecstatic insight, fiery conscience and new codes to rouse us from a sleepy moral conformity.

Both mystics and activists let their imagination catch fire. Rather than experiencing vision as an abstraction they join with it as active participants. Vision enters into them and courses their veins until it is fully embodied. They are relentlessly called to step into the cauldron of real-life verification in order to bring airy concepts into flesh and blood reality. The path of enactment can be clumsy, painful and dangerous but there is no other way for those who want to live the reality others conceptualize but hesitate to incarnate.

Have you been fed enough concepts lately? It is exciting to hear so many leading edge concepts on everyone’s lips but, for my part, I get indigestion if I swallow too many great ideas at once. I need to savor them. I need to experience them in action.

One way important concepts move from a heady parade of ideas to full integration with my heart, my gut and the grip I have on reality is when I see them played out in lived experience. I like to see alluring concepts actualized in richly revealing personal narrative and tested out in the context of societal complexity. I am a little wary when intellectual brilliance feels disembodied. 

It helps me to know how people live the scintillating ideas they present to others. I want to know how they got there; how they grew up and what were the pivotal intersections in their personal growth. This is why I decided to share with you those key pivot points in my own journey. There is more than a full spread of ideas about activism and mysticism in this book but it is my hope that you will also enjoy the adventure of how they were explored and tested and finally integrated.

There is more biographical material in the early chapters on my childhood and adolescence- sharing our origins is an essential part of revealing our growth and development. In contrast, there is more conceptual material in the later chapters laying out the collective growth, integration and quickening of this era of unprecedented transition to a more conscious planetary civilization.

What is intended is that you experience the contrasting requirements of authentic growth for both activist and mystic before you can come to a full understanding as to how they integrate in a visionary embodiment for a new humanity. The Conscious Activist describes the many rigorous initiations needed before the power of the activist can become one with the power of the mystic.

The very great idea of a unifying field of engaged spirituality and transformative action, emerging as an earthly reality of universal peace and justice, is not sold at the front door of this book. It is a vision that cannot be accessed without participation. The Conscious Activist will reveal the sacred conjunction of mystic and activist as you enter into its stories, as you meet its many wisdom keepers and reflect on the threading of ideas whose time has come to ignite the integration of ecstatic spirituality and inspired action.

To order your copy of The Conscious Activist—where activism meets mysticism, click here.

James O'Dea is award-winning author of The Conscious Activist and also Cultivating Peace. He is founding faculty for the Shift Network’s acclaimed global "Peace Ambassador Training". He has conducted frontline social healing dialogues around the world for many years. He is former president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Washington office director of Amnesty International and CEO of the Seva Foundation. He is a member of The Evolutionary Leaders group and is on several advisory boards such as The Peace Alliance and Kosmos Journal. James is also a mystic who is passionate about global transformation and has a special interest in Meher Baba’s evolutionary vision and in Sufism. He is followed extensively in social media and lectures widely. James grew up in Ireland and England, has seen war and human rights violations in a number of the world’s hotspots and currently resides in the visionary community of Crestone in Colorado.

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This article appears in: 2014 Catalyst, Issue 25: Commitment to Conscious Activism