Defend the Sacred
A Book Review by Ronald Engert – published in Tattva Viveka, September 2019
Translated from the German by Christine Kuehnel,
edited by Juliette Baigler
This book is a very beautiful one in many respects. Firstly it has a noble design. The graphics and the texts are put together in a very pleasing and extremely professional way. The numerous pictures of wonderful and interesting people are brilliant. Just looking at them as one browses through the book is a great pleasured. And this is particularly so because they and their ideas show and represent an enormous power, the power of a great vision of a life lived in a holy way, for which these people stand as activists and revolutionaries who want to redesign the way we live. This huge power can be felt in the texts too.
The relatively short texts are written about and/or by the many people who joined the “Defend the Sacred“ peace conference in Tamera, Portugal, in 2018. These are very impressive people. They come from all continents and countries, mainly from suppressed or indigenous peoples – Africa, Palestine, Syria, Latin America, India etc. – and there are also, of course, many Europeans who are looking for alternative ways to live.
The book is structured according to certain topics. It begins with the ecological situation concerning energy production and the healing of water. After that it deals with the question of a planetary community, the sacred, life itself. Then there is a chapter on the female revolution as well as one on the transformation of economy and on visions of bringing forth a new earth.
At this meeting in Portugal there were representatives of numerous movements and initiatives which, in their respective countries or fields, are engaged in a new understanding of life. For instance the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN), the Transition Town Movement, One Billion Rising and many others. What I found particularly enticing in this conference was the strong connection between politics and spirituality. All of those texts make a claim for the necessity of political activism and at the same time an awareness of the sacred. Hence the title: “Defend the Sacred”.
It is exactly this which I find most important, as usually these two aspects are separated and also dealt with separately. Countless political initiatives are concerned only with the material and external aspects of finance, economics, the rights of the employees and ecology. Most of the spiritual movements on the other hand are only interested in their own inner development, psychology, love relationships and enlightenment. But it is precisely these two aspects which have to be brought together.
Buckminster Fuller said, “This world has become too dangerous for anything less than a utopia“ (p 9). This utopia is the vision of a healed earth. ”We are now in a birth process, one that brings political activism and the spiritual source together,“ (p 12) says Sabine Lichtenfels, one of the founders of Tamera. During the conference a big protest against oil drilling off shore the Portuguese coast took place. It was organized with some creative and non-violent events (refer to the article of Dieter Duhm). And, by the way, the oil drilling was then suspended.
The reports of the activists are indeed very touching. They bear witness to a deep-rooted personal realisation of spiritual qualities. Here things come together which belong together. We are facing political change, this cannot be denied, and things have to be done on this level. However, we also have to recognise and preserve what is sacred within us and on Mother Earth, as this carries our soul and helps us to act in a life-supporting way. In essence life is sacred. At the same time these people are creating communities. They work in healing biotopes, spaces to create new forms of living-together which do not only oppose the existing system but which already realise a new way of living as far as this is possible. Tamera, which has existed for 40 years now, is an example of this.
The cover picture shows Ladonna Brave Bull Allard one of the initiators of the resistance at Standing Rock in North Dakota, USA. One hand raised as a fist – that is the political gesture – with eyes closed in a meditative way – the spiritual aspect – and the other hand, the left, on her womb – this is the aspect of the feminine and of Mother Earth. Here the diverse aspects of life truly come together.
Another very moving report is that of Salim Dara from Benin, Africa, who spent many years in prison for participating in a demonstration as a student. Nowadays he is the king of about 80 000 people. His understanding of being a king is quite unconventional but just right: “A king does not govern his country, he listens to his people.” Another very moving report is about Monique Wilson, from the Philippines, who coordinates “One Billion Rising“, a global campaign for women´s rights.
What also touched me deeply as a man was the article on the Sacred Masculine by the Navajo activist Pat McCabe, U.S. Her deep understanding of indigenous spirituality and religion which is so closely connected to nature answered my long-standing question about what the good in a man is. She says that the man is the sacred fire keeper. This can be translated into the fire of passion and sensuality, a driving force that moves life onward, “that laser, at times singular, focus of your amazing mind”. That “molten blaze” (p 118), for which a lot of discipline and integrity is necessary to hold this energy in an honourable and respectful way.
All in all it is a beautifully rich, political, spiritual and practical book which creates a lot of hope because on many levels worlds are brought together which absolutely have to come together: practice and theory, man and woman, politics and spirituality, the individual and community. And the best thing is – it already exists. Could it be possible that we turn the world around? Then the old contradiction would also be solved: that for every winner there has to be a loser. And we would truly have the new paradigm described in the subtitle: “If life wins, there will be no losers”.