COVID-19: Seeking Solace Through the Words of Andrew Harvey

| Spiritual teacher and our wonderful tour leader, Andrew Harvey

We are the depths and discomforts of our global situation with COVID-19. This time, however, is an invaluable opportunity for transformation and even the formation of joy and wonder. Let’s take it from Andrew Harvey with 6 sets of his consoling advice and maxims.

1. “Let’s just put it absolutely out there. We are in a massive evolutionary crisis that is going to determine whether or not we survive at all—or whether or not the world goes on at all. And this evolutionary crisis is now reaching critical quantum points.” —Andrew Harvey, The Treasure in the Infinite Rock (Talk with Sacred Earth Journeys in North India)

Andrew Harvey, our tour leader who guides our pilgrims through large portions of South Asia, is fervent over his belief that we as a humanity are going through a sort of mutation. It seems prophetic that he spoke these words just a month before COVID-19 entered the worldwide consciousness and began shutting everything down. According to Andrew’s words, COVID-19 is one of these critical points. It is a threshold brought about by irresponsible human behavior and a lack of sacredness in the world—which we will all inevitably need to attain more of if we are to continue on as a species. It is through housing more sacredness in our systems, Andrew argues, that humanity will mutate in the ways needed to sustain our lives on Earth.

2. “A spirituality that is only private and self-absorbed, one devoid of an authentic political and social consciousness, does little to halt the suicidal juggernaut of history. On the other hand, an activism that is not purified by profound spiritual and psychological self-awareness and rooted in divine truth, wisdom, and compassion will only perpetuate the problem it is trying to solve, however righteous its intentions. When, however, the deepest and most grounded spiritual vision is married to a practical and pragmatic drive to transform all existing political, economic and social institutions, a holy force – the power of wisdom and love in action – is born. This force I define as Sacred Activism.” ― Andrew Harvey, The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism

Andrew Harvey is the founder of what he himself coined “Sacred Activism.” It is a philosophy that states we shouldn’t reserve our spiritual bliss in our system, but rather, share it and bring it into the collective consciousness, and even get political with it. We’ll be learning more about this when discovering how Buddhism is embracing Love in Action during our tour in Ladakh with Andrew. Andrew also recognizes that existing forms of activism that aren’t grounded in spiritual and loving insight tend to further eternalize the very issues we wish to rid the world of. For example, we can look back in history and study the activism of Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Their activism was grounded in love, spirituality, and purified by psychological awareness. As a result, they were able to make a lasting impact. 

So what does this have to do with COVID-19? In this time, we need to harness ideologies like Andrew’s Sacred Activism to not only stay grounded in ourselves, but to help spread the truth about what is happening to humanity. In these times, the truth can be hard to come by, yes, but we can still stand firm in our groundedness, spread it to others, and shed light on how to move forward more effectively as an entire species. 

3. “To be in a body is to hear the heartbeat of death at every moment.” ― Andrew Harvey

We are currently inhabiting a dying piece of flesh. This may be an anxiety-inducing sentiment for some, yet a divine revelation for others. Here we see the importance of perspective. If we feel it as a divine revelation, then surely we’ll be comforted during this unsettling COVID-19 epidemic. People are feeling insecure and vulnerable. The possibility of death, whether for individuals or their families, is undoubtedly a cause of such unsettlement. With a new perspective on death, how might we find ease from such anxieties?

4. “You will be graced by the necessary catastrophes.” ― Andrew Harvey, The Direct Path: Creating a Personal Journey to the Divine Using the World’s Spiritual Traditions

The relevance of this quote to our current global COVID-19 cataclysm seems almost obvious. Many of us are stranded in foreign countries or separated from loved ones, now unemployed or struggling to get financial assistance (or both). We’re all affected one way or another. 

This quote, like the last, takes a certain perspective if we are to fully harness its wisdom. Catastrophes, after all, are branded as unessential, unnecessary, undesirable, useless, and ineffective toward happiness. But what if they’re exactly what we need? What if they’re the greatest catalysts by which we grow and have our lives steered in the right direction? I think if we meditate enough on it, catastrophe can be re-stigmatized to be viewed as necessary (though challenging!) components of our path and expansion!

5. “Nothing that happens on the surface of the sea can alter the calm of its depths” ― Andrew Harvey, The Direct Path: Creating a Personal Journey to the Divine Using the World’s Spiritual Traditions

This can be read as a call to observe and imitate the being of the sea. If you’ve ever been on a pier or along a shoreline overlooking large ocean waves, then you know how intimidating the ocean can be. But have you ever been scuba diving? Down there—down under the harsh ferocious ocean waves—is an ocean of calm, an ocean of stillness and peace, an ocean much different than its surface. 

To be like the sea, we must alchemize the “bad” things that happen to us so might we transmute them into opportunities for peace. Like the ocean, we can take on the battering of hard ocean waves while maintaining a deeply seated peacefulness that clings to our core. This is an extremely important message to eternalize during these COVID-19 times. 

6. “If you’re really listening, if you’re awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold evermore wonders.” ― Andrew Harvey

This is one of Andrew’s more popular maxims and for good reason. Here, he expresses Rumi’s beloved idea that “the wound is the place where the Light enters you.” By living in complete, accepting awareness for what is, we grant ourselves the opportunity to experience the obstructions of life as not only beautiful, but as opportunities to hold more wisdom and yes, all the “wonder” of the world.