Richard Harvey - Psychotherapist, Author and Spiritual Teacher

Richard Harvey

connecting psychotherapy and spiritual growth for human awakening
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Poems by Richard Harvey

Most of us live life sequentially, practically, and rationally and quell the spontaneous, irrational, and artistic forces within. We live our lives as prose, rather than poetry. When we live our lives as poetry we find that the small self and its primary instrument, the mind, become less important.

Living life as poetry rounds off our corners, opens us to the natural flow, and vivifies the beauty of life. We are less concerned with reasons and divisions, and the Self is at once the centre and the outer reaches of our consciousness. Poetry awakens us to expansive experience, bridges the worlds of inner and outer, and connects us to the whole of Life. (extract from The Flight of Consciousness by Richard Harvey, Ashgrove Publishing UK)

If God appears in these forms…

(On Jeremy Annear’s Genius Loci VIII and IX 2012)

If God appears in these forms
Then he is coupled with mystery.
He is angled in colour and shrouded in clarity.
He is apt to be a figure escaping
Down a clandestine corridor,
Leading us over carpeted fields
With footfalls echoing through dusty streets.

But these picture—do they say all that?

They are silent; they are colourless,
Yet full of dazzling blazing figures,
And musical

interludes—or is it artistic
interludes over a seamless heavenly orchestra?

If God appears in these forms
He is shaped like a hydra, a chimera,
A toppling figure, a trapeze artist,
Looking down into fields of sand and clay,
Iron and asphalt,
Meandering towards balance…

… or symmetry

And God is a circle
Or so he seems to be.

In coupled shapes edged with guarded though careless definition,
How do these relationships grow?
How do they even begin?
Drop to your knees and behold the Lamb
In raggedy bindings.

For nothing is perfect under the sun.
Behold the Lamb in His portrait of discovery,
As you are led to the blessed font, to the glorious baptism.
Crouched beneath the Calvary moment
There can be only one possible response:
Copious tears are shed for the son of the true artist.

Published online, July 2014

2½ Minutes

“Nuclear catastrophe was hanging by a thread ... and we weren’t counting days or hours, but minutes.”—Soviet General and Army Chief of Operations, Anatoly Gribkov

In 2½ minutes the world will explode
Or that’s what we learnt in school.
It’s what we were told.

The Cuban Missile Crisis
It was called.
It called everything into disbelief
But we were not fooled.

The cause of the panic
And the cause of the terror
Was the fear inside us.
The fear that forever

Had filled our hearts,
Our ears and our minds.
The fear that caused us to be unkind.

We listened to music –
Pop, boy-meets-girl songs
And the fear of the romance
And the fear of the wrongs

That people could do to each other
In their love life.

It was 2½ minutes –
Every song.
They couldn’t be longer
Because the radio
Would be wrong.
We listened to the wireless for time and good cheer
And humor and wisdom
And knowledge and fear.

2½ minutes for every song.
Love-making too
Took just about that long.

2½ minutes had everything timed:
A beer, a joke, a song, a poke,
A foolish jest in rhyme.

In 2½ minutes you could live a life,
In 2½ minutes you could sharpen a blunt knife,
In 2½ minutes the world would explode
And leave us in oblivion
Though we weren’t very old.

Published online, October 2012

And I Will Sing You a Loka

Inform me of nothing
And I will sing you a loka,
If your joke turns the nighttime
In disbelief into laughter.

And feeling very ordinary
I will tell you a great secret.
You may take it or find it
Or eat it or keep it.

The do or the didn’t in the evening sky
Says I keep forgetting,
But I leave you to cry

And when I have taken the bloom from your cheek
I was never here, do you hear me?
Never here, so why weep?

Oh, the days come in sevens
As I lay down to bed
With an eerie pagoda hung over my head

I don’t come to greet you.
I need you no more.
Come here now,
Hear the waterfall’s roar.

Inform me of nothing
And I will sing you a loka,
If your joke turns the nighttime
In disbelief into laughter.

Published online, October 2012

I am not here...

I am not here to placate you
or please you
or teach you what you don’t want to know.

I am not here to argue with you,
convince you, inhibit you
or manipulate you or unhinge you
or put you back together again.

I am not here to indoctrinate you,
influence you,
or tell you what you must do.

I am not here to paper over the cracks,
advise on the color of your repaint
or persuade you to put in new foundations.

I am not here to do or say or murmur
or utter anything.

I am not here ... I am not ... I am!

Published online, October 2012

The Last Argument

I have only one last argument now
What is the breeze? No, that’s a question isn’t it?
Neither a wasp nor a cloud…

What was I born to be?
What is now slipping away from me?
Perhaps it is less an argument and more of a cry,
a plea for clemency, for absolution, for help!
For I no longer thrive in this place.
I have been lifted and keenly realigned.
I don’t know is perhaps more correctly my only statement,
the only one that is necessarily true.

True! How long we wait for truth and how futile and how strong is the search.
I have only one last argument, but that was long ago blown down
like a dour chimera turning its back
on imaginary prey.

Published online, December 2011

Long Before Our Heart Forgot

We don’t want to hear about your years in the Zen training monastery.
We don’t want to know about your afflictions,
Your confusion, your dilemmas and your striving.
We don’t want to be taken into your confidence,
To be impressed by your personal journey
(it was never that personal anyway - you said that)
And touched by your confessions of imperfection and vulnerability.

We don’t want you to lie or tell the truth
About yourself or any other,
Who is alike or not alike to you
(we are all different and all fundamentally the same - you said that).

We cannot stand one more Zen story
Or American-Indian, Hindu, Hopi, Sufi, Buddhist, Jewish
Anecdote, parable in rune, poetry or monosyllabic mantra…. allegory
(please! OM!!).

We don’t want to know you, befriend you,
Be taken into your confidence or flatter you
(you are as boring or interesting as anyone else, you know).

We don’t need your teasing, your feigned embarrassment,
Your promises, assurances, secrets or teaching.
We don’t ask you to save us, work for us,
Lead us, seed us, complete us, discover us,
Explode us, implode us, put us on the commode
Or heal us or sew us up or heat us,
Or cool us or otherwise tamper with our natural self-regulating, harmonious,
Essentially unconscious, natural being-self
(as you said, it needs no interference).

We will not tolerate another self-satisfied
Prophet, guru, bodhisattva, savior,
World teacher, disciple posing as a world teacher,
Author or healer, therapist or analyst,
Observer or scientist, healer or peeler,
Self-concealer, Sheila or Bruce, artist or dancer
(you all make us vomit).

But we are without the mind to repel you,
Thoughts to set us on a path,
A will to know you,
Spiritual muscles to arm-wrestle you,
A heart to feel and see through you,
Feet to stamp all over you,
A back to turn on you,
A hand to gesture to you,
Or an ass to show you.
We are truly spewed, touched and left for dead
(at 9.99 a throw).

So, we will silently walk
Obliquely away
And cross over past another sunset
Into a new dawn,
Not knowing if our shirt is buttoned right or not,
If our fly is zipped,
If our socks are matching
Or our spectacles are the right prescription.

Book-less, leader-less, with no help,
No assurance, no guidance,
We will lead ourselves
And only mumble (inarticulately)
Directions to the moment,
Inflections of now

With a feeling
Leading us on

To heaven knows where,
To God knows what,

To a place we inhabit in heart
Long before our heart forgot.

Published online on Buzzle, May 2011


I was well into my fiftieth year
when I received the teaching.
It came through all manner of appearances.
It spoke of the deep wound of the soul, the delusion
of the spirit, the feet stuck in the earth, the head
in the heavens. It spoke of contraction, of stuck emotions,
self-aggrandizement, of material suffering, of thought
flown so far away as to be eternally absent. It came to me
in the stars, the moonlight, the dew on the grass, smiles
and laughter, a line of books, the movement of a soul
in the body, on waves of sound, in sight
and brisk entertainment, held and uninhibited, green
and gentle, orange, red and blazing. It turned upon me
in the fragrance of memory, in the brushstroke
of true art and with a featherlike touch
swathed me in its pity and care.
If only I’d been there I would have sounded
a fanfare, employed dancers and dressed the area
around my house with ribbons and flowers and asked
windhovers, starlings and swallows to fly over
us to almost eclipse the eagles.
But I was absent. No thing of beauty knows
itself to be beautiful and, beyond that, nothing
of worth takes form but out of the ground of unity.
There is no respect or love or holiness; no violence
or gentleness, no intolerance, no resentment. There is
no forgiveness or fear or desire…and nothing
I want, but to be with you

Published online, March 2010

In that Peaceful Centre

In that peaceful centre
There is perfect stillness
And everything we could ever need
And much more besides

All activity spirals from that centre
Meaningful action is grounded there
Even the deepest emotions are superficial
Compared to that centre
Though they may help to bring us closer

In that peaceful centre
All beings are one being
Nothing, no one is ever lost

In that still and perfect centre
Is pure love

Published in Self and Society, European Journal of Humanistic Psychology
Vol. XIV No.4, July/Aug 1986

Have you Ever Noticed?

Have you ever noticed
How people get together
When they’re leaving?
Have you ever noticed
How people want a way out
When they’re meeting?
Have you ever noticed
When people are friends
They want a safety net
When it comes to ends?
They want to go just so far
With their joy
In case they can’t get back
From the edge of the void.

Have you ever noticed
How people think you’re precious
When they’ve lost you?
Have you ever noticed
How people build up walls
You’ve got to see through?
Have you ever noticed
How they cry so loud
When there’s nothing there
To cry about?
They talk of loss
And they talk of love
But they’re more separated
Than below and above.

Is it any wonder
When we play our games
We feel our losses
And forget our gains?
Peel off our pride
And shout our shame?
We’ve heard of joy
But we don’t know its name…

Have you ever felt the time
When you draw a line
Around your satisfaction?
Have you ever felt
How right you could feel
Without correction?
Have you ever been in love
When your colours change
And you feel so full
And you act so strange?
Well, that strange place
Is like home to me
When I’m not there I miss it
And when I’m there I see.

I’ve been talking to my spirit
And I feel there’s no limit
To my feeling.
Now I know I’m my master
I can’t go any faster
That’s what I’m seeing.
I can feel my light
In the dead of night
I can feel my truth
I can drop the fight.
I don’t always know
Where I need to go
But I trust
My direction will show.

Have you ever noticed
How people get together
When they’re leaving?
Have you ever noticed
How people want a way out
When they’re meeting?
Have you ever noticed
When people are friends
They want a safety net
When it comes to ends?
They want to go just so far
With their joy
In case they can’t get back
From the edge of the void.

Published in South West Connection, Issue 3, May–August 1982

Author's Notes

If God appears in these forms…

My second piece of writing on Jeremy Annear’s works. Following a discussion which began with the question, “How should I approach your work?” I find that when I look into his paintings I am filled with inspiration. The title/first line was so perfect and suggestive I despaired of the rest of the poem surfacing but when it did it came like a whirlwind.

2½ Minutes

Written on the fiftieth anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this poem recalls, among other things, the vivid memory of walking to school and almost “seeing” the black missiles cruising through the sky out of the clouds, imagining this would be one of my last moments. To the backdrop of Dylan and Baez protest, CND and mental airiness, we maintained a stoic outlook in the face of a very real possibility of a nuclear world war. After thirteen days, public and secret agreements were reached, both super powers climbed down and we were safe again.

And I Will Sing You a Loka

There is something very poignant about the non-existence of everything that seems so relationally real. We may never get over the pain and the sadness of creation while we remain restless to fulfill our desires and our fears. But the image of a world that is sung is poetic and healing, a fleeting image of sunlight and mist.

I am not here...

What can I say? This one just came, flowed, with no thought whatsoever and wrote itself. It is neti-neti, or the Mahavakya in reverse. In few words the assumptions of relationship are stripped bare. Although it applies to the teaching relationship, it speaks of a relationship paradigm that transcends dependency, a merging of the passions, and the gifts that are designed to fill the chronic sense of lack. The last two words express the taste of divine being, which form a viable basis for a truly spiritual relationship.

The Last Argument

In inner work, sooner or later, you move through the last resistances, shed the last attachments to personality, lose the last struggles and fights and, when the dust has settled, you laugh long and hard. But just before that moment you may experience the deep sadness of creation.

Long Before Our Heart Forgot

This was a lot of fun to write. Who is it? What is it about? To answer is to render the poem insignificant when the poem itself leads you to the only thing of value.


You can have intuitions and forecasts of your destiny. When I was walking on a beach in Dorset, England once I picked up a fistful of tiny pebbles and heard an inner voice say, “This is your number.” When I counted the pebbles, there were forty-nine. I always felt 50 would be an important year, the gateway to deepening spiritual revelation. But when this poem came to me it felt somehow disembodied or separate from me. I felt it, but it didn’t feel like it was about me. In any case I enjoyed writing it down and I enjoy reading it.

In That Peaceful Centre

This poem came directly out of my own therapy process and was a direct insight into the transpersonal realms. It reflects one of the first of several revelations I had in the '80s concerning the nature of the divine.

Have You Ever Noticed?

In another chapter of life I was a singer-songwriter. One summer evening I was walking in Golders Green, London, on my way to a gig I had secured in a wine bar. Quite suddenly and completely unexpectedly I was filled with this lyric. It came so full and fast I had to put down my guitar case, take out a sheet of paper and literally write it as fast as I could in case I missed it. There was no thought process whatsoever! The lyric appeared inside me with the music completed. It became a song I not only loved to perform, but one which meant a great deal to many people who listened to it.

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Left Quote MarkIn this modern time where the material forces of this world are so predominant, it is difficult for the poets of today to find a space in which they can share and exchange their creativity and inspiration. Our modern language, and our use of words, mirror mostly what preoccupies our minds and our hearts. Seldom is it used to mirror our struggle to reach our soul. Richard Harvey, in his writings, gently leads us to that place which is far beyond the material world.Right Quote Mark Leonard Lasalle, Artist.

Painting by Jeremy Annear

Painting by Jeremy Annear