Sacred Activism: An Interview with Nina Simons and Deborah Eden Tull

Sacred activism speaks to what inspires, guides and resources us to serve life, while integrating deep listening, collaboration and restoration. In this Q&A with Nina Simons and Deborah Eden Tull, we explore the importance of sacred activism and how they found themselves fascinated by the subject. Sign up for their Sacred Activism Bioneers Learning course to learn more about sacred activism and relational leadership.

Bioneers: Why is Sacred Activism so important for people to learn about right now?

Nina Simons

Nina Simons: We’ve received a culturally entrained bias that inclines us to falsely segregate our relationships with the Sacred and Activism, to our detriment. Now that we’ve entered a time of convergent crises — both ecological and social — that asks so much of us, reconnecting Activism with the Sacred can offer us regenerative energy for the long haul.

Deborah Eden Tull

Deborah Eden Tull: This is an age of collective liminality and change. We face the unknown together, as narratives, stories, assumptions, limiting beliefs, and reliance on systems that human consciousness has invested in for a long time come into question. Many people are feeling powerless today. Sacred activism invites us to embrace a more vast perspective about who we are and how we can respond wholeheartedly to the times we face. 

Sacred activism invites us beyond the limiting confines of ego to embrace our partnership with nature, the more than human realm, and the invisible realm… as we work on behalf of our collective. It’s not just what we do but how we do it. Sacred activism begins from the ground of deep embodied listening — listening within, to one another, to mother earth, and to the world at large.

Bioneers: How did your career in Sacred Activism begin?

NS: Every major career decision in my life — I see now in retrospect — has been motivated by my sense of the Sacred, or by a sense of feeling called to serve a larger purpose that seems fundamentally (but not religiously) spiritual in nature, so it’s been a lifelong practice that I’ve only recently begun to recognize as such.

DET: I come from a family of activists, visionaries, and agents of change. As a young person whose heart was broken by the polycrises inherited by my generation, I had, at the same time, the privilege of being raised in a family mindset dedicated to service.  I witnessed both the power of people dedicated to change, as well as the potential for burnout and self-righteousness. As a Buddhist dharma teacher, my path has been about bridging personal and collective awakening, and helping to nurture a movement of regenerative leadership. In other words, how we treat ourselves and how we treat one another and the earth are the same. 

My passion is bridging the personal, interpersonal, transpersonal, ecological, societal, mystical, global effects of engaged meditation. Over the years, I’ve helped meditators awaken their activism and have helped activists embody mindfulness. We are more powerful change agents when we recognize interbeing, our connection with source, as the ground of all conscious response.

Bioneers: What is one recent learning or piece of inspiration that you find particularly fascinating?

NS: Central to my own worldview is that unless we can alter our culture, we won’t access the power needed to alter our collective course. I believe that combining the Sacred with our definition of Activism can potentize all of our efforts in those directions, and also help to address our current tendency for leaders to over extend their efforts, and burn out. 

DET: Right now I’m drawing great inspiration from the teachings of Harriet Tubman, as celebrated in Spring Washam’s new book about Harriet Tubman’s life. In an age of profound adversity, Harriet modeled spiritual partnership with nature and immeasurable courage, to save hundreds of lives through the Underground Railroad. There are lessons to be learned. The challenges we face today require that we move beyond the shortsightedness and reactivity of the human ego.  It is vital that we move beyond anthropocentrism and egocentrism and tap into the inter-being that gives us access to skillful and collective response. It is vital that we address the polycrises of our times with a deeper, more embodied, imaginative, and interconnected awareness.

Bioneers: Tell us one great reason why people reading this should sign up for your course?

NS: Our Sacred Activism course will open up new pathways and frameworks that can help you to tend to your own nervous system’s equilibrium, to regenerate your sense of commitment to effectively influencing change, and to cultivate a sense of balance and joy within yourself, even while facing the challenges and difficulties that we face.

DET: This course is not about sitting back and receiving more information from the “experts.” This course is not an intellectual or heady training about activism. This series invites your participation in an experiential journey, a heart-based community, and an emergent conversation that may be one of the most important conversations of our times. These are divisive times, and we reclaim shared power through the relational field. We hope that you will join us, with the intention of both strengthening and sharing the unique gifts and medicine that are yours to share in response to the crises we face together as a species.

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