On the evening of 13th April, in a crowded upstairs room at the Community Centre in The Park, in front of an audience filled with anticipation and curiosity, Joanna Macy and Chris Johnstone excitedly launched their new book Active Hope: How to Face the Mess We're in without Going Crazy. Jane Hera, of the New Findhorn Association (NFA) was on hand to welcome the group and introduce the authors. Jane explained that she first met Joanna and Chris in 1999 at the Love of Nature conference and was inspired by their work and by the way they worked together.
Both Joanna and Chris have a long history with the Findhorn Foundation, Chris having attended Joanna's workshop, The Power of Our Deep Ecology back in 1989. Both have been back several times since and Chris spoke of his and Joanna's delight to be launching their new book here. Now living locally, Chris was present for the evening while Joanna, who lives in California, joined us through the magic of modern technology. As regards the technology, Chris expressed his thanks to Hanna Morjan for her help with logistics the previous week.
Chris described their new book as the best of what he and Joanna have discovered over the years of doing their work, and expressed his hope that it would become a friend to each person who reads it. Joanna spoke of how blessed she feels as unexpected deeper knowings came, opened up and instructed by the book.
Having had the pleasure of a sneak preview, I can say I feel inspired and excited after having read Active Hope. During these times of extraordinary global challenges, when it would be all too easy to be hopeless, Joanna and Chris show us how to engage in Active Hope — becoming active participants in bringing about what we hope for.
Active Hope is based on intention — identifying what it is we want to see happen and then taking steps to bring that about. It is nurtured in us by The Work That Reconnects, an empowerment process initially developed by Joanna in the 1970s. Through coming from gratitude, honouring our pain for the world and seeing with new eyes, we are enabled to go forth and play our part in healing the Earth, our home. Throughout the book, the authors include exercises to help strengthen motivation and the capacity to act, and they strongly encourage people to join together and work collaboratively as the whole then becomes greater than the sum of its parts.
Early on in the book, the authors point out that a new view of reality is emerging, one that is based on the understanding that we are intimately interwoven with our world. They write about the archetype of the bodhisattva, one who acts for the wellbeing of all life, and who is driven by bodhichitta, the desire that all life be well. Chris and Joanna share a story that stirs the heart and mind, a prophecy from the Tibetan Buddhist tradition about the Shambhala Warriors, and ask each of us to read the story as if it were about us. In this story, the Shambhala Warriors dismantle the weapons of the barbarian powers. They are able to do this because the weapons are 'mind — made,' that is, made by the human mind and arising out of our relationships, our habits, our priorities. Through making choices aligned with what the authors refer to as The Great Turning, and working with others to do the same, we can turn ourselves away from the path of destruction humanity is on.
I would like to end with the words of the authors themselves, as these words sum up so beautifully the pearl of wisdom held within their book: What helps us face the mess we're in is the knowledge that each of us has something significant to offer, a contribution to make. In rising to the challenge of playing our best role, we discover something precious that both enriches our lives and adds to the healing of our world.
Joanna Macy returns to Findhorn in June next year.