connecting psychotherapy and spiritual growth for human awakening
Richard Harvey answers questions about Spiritual Teaching, the Divine, Levels of the Heart, the 21st Century Dilemma, and Psycho-Spiritual Community
I want you to intuit, contact, and experience your inner knowing sense, not a teaching as such or a method or a dogma, not even the apperception of Advaita Vedanta, but direct knowing.
There are many flavors and tastes and fragrances to the Divine. Ultimately everything is Divine, all is God. So whatever you are doing at whatever stage you find yourself, it’s essentially all good. But by no means is it all equal. Just like in any endeavor there are levels of practice and attainment. The crucial point is finding what’s right for you and in spiritual endeavor that inevitably means discovering the way that aligns with your heart.
Yet there are even levels to the heart. There is the personal heart, the spiritual transcendent heart, and the collective heart; the three hearts of waking, dreaming, and sleeping life. Spiritual progress—if there could be said to be any—is the movement from the personal heart which traditionally occupies the left-hand side of the chest cavity to the spiritual transcendent heart which traditionally occupies the right-hand side. The way is through dreaming or the meeting of consciousness with unconsciousness that brings about the experience of wholeness and integration.
Thus it is inevitable and essential that the serious spiritual practitioner develops their personal psychology to the point where the darkness inside is dispelled or where they have transcended their fear of the outer world. This involves working through imagination, expectation, and assumptions of terrifying and intimidating scenarios inevitably originating in the past.
Only when the psychological and the personal material is worked through can a genuine spiritual effort be made and the motivation and desire to live a life in God be truly realized.
No, it’s not eclectic. Eclecticism has been a mixed blessing really hasn’t it? On the one hand we opened up the barriers to exclusivism in the 20th century, knocked down a few walls, and became open-minded. On the other hand eclecticism often masks a complete lack of originality or substitutes for an authentic evolution in radical change and transformation.
I believe we have to review the traditions now. What could make this an exciting time is if we look clearly and objectively at the world religions, belief systems, and mysticism, Gnosticism, and ask how it serves us. With thousands of years of spiritual and religious endeavor, ritual, and ceremony behind us, how is it that we have a world like the one we have today? Two and a half thousand years ago Buddha observed life is suffering; two thousand years ago Jesus exhorted us to forgive each other. These teachings are still a bridge too far or perhaps another way of looking at it is to say that even these great masters (or at least the religious institutions that sprung from their teachings) have failed societally and collectively in their outward social mission.
The way is not mix’n'match spirituality and religions. I believe the way is the transcendence of religion in the corrupt form we know it today by extracting the core message and recasting it and evolving it into an approach that addresses the present century dilemma. Ultimately we can only develop spiritually from the sound basis of authentic spiritual teachings.
The ego-processes of self-contraction have become the overriding convention of modern times. The basic assumption is that we are identified with a bodymind egocentricity and optional soul and so on that are poised separately and in fundamental contrast and inherent conflict with everything else. The dilemma lies in our avoidance of the collective and personal call to enlightenment and salvation.
Everyone experiences it because they are human. According to their level of consciousness they respond. Thus you may respond by becoming an alcoholic, or becoming famous, being a down and out or a successful businessman, a fashion model, a shop-keeper, a truck-driver. Nothing in your life is outside of the Divine call because your life is an expression of divinity—everyone’s is! However if your level of consciousness is comparatively low then you may have little or no parameters for responding appropriately or adequately. This is why it is so important that we develop ceremonies, rituals, and rites of passage, and make awareness of inner wisdom and the sacred commonplace, return the true church so to speak to prominence, establish the ancient truths, and do it in a way which is relevant and powerful enough for the present era.
God is the traditional name for the fathomless Mystery of life. God has been understood anthropomorphically, abstractly, cynically, blindly, and even scientifically now. But there really is nothing you can say about God. God is the Reality, Truth itself and, as John pointed out in the Gospels, the truth will set you free. So God is true freedom.
Perhaps, but the spiritual endeavor does not truly have a goal. There’s a psychological goal, which is personal freedom, freedom from individual attachments, and finally the belief in the small separate self or self-contraction. There is even a goal in the work of the heart, the true heart, and that is to realize compassion and yourself as love. But in true spiritual discipline there isn’t really a goal or an endeavor in the sense in which we usually understand it. The ascent to the Divine Nature is an event outside of time in which no separation exists.
How can you compare pebbles on the beach, or leaves on the trees, ripples in the ocean, or clouds or flowers or dogs or stones or colors? The teachers are simply what they are: appropriate life expressions for their time, continuous with their milieu, interdependent and contextualized within their short moment of arising in an eternal moment. There is no better or best, no valid comparison. A stone may enlighten you, a smile or a movement, a child or an animal. In truth enlightenment pervades everything, all phenomena, and all phenomena are temporary arising appearances of the Divine or God.
The Arhat community is a psycho-spiritual community in which the goal is to work through and not avoid psychological states that have become calcified and remedial within the individual organism. Then not only your psychological individual potential is prevented from manifesting but your spiritual possibilities are denied you also.
So the Arhat ideal is to rise through shedding psychological states that belong in the past, ascending to the heart nature, and from their entering the serious spiritual practice of awareness and devotion.
The right people will be attracted to the project and to the community. We have no need of going out to persuade or proselytise. You cannot make people do what they don’t want to do anyway. When the fruit is ripe it falls easily from the tree and this analogy holds true in human development.
As you pointed out, with the proliferation of spiritual teachers today, we have many and varied approached to the Divine and to our divinity. So let us not try to influence anything or anyone, but rather relax and be guided by our inner wisdom. Everyone finds the way that is right for them.
Who am I? How should I live? What do I honor?
I don’t know what the answers are for you.
The totality. In absolute freedom. The unconditioned Truth.
The Source of Reality.
In Un-Knowing. You don’t truly know anything at all. You must find within you the courage to live in the Mystery without explanation, knowledge, or justification. You must be free enough to make your stand in a placeless place, a location where you cannot be a target, where you cannot even be toppled or challenged, because there are no attachments, no clinging, and no barriers to love anymore.