Richard Harvey—Psychotherapist, Author and Spiritual Teacher

Richard Harvey

connecting psychotherapy and spiritual growth for human awakening
Follow my work on TwitterFollow my work on LinkedInFollow my work on Facebook

Follow me on:

The Spiritual Path

My neighbor, now deceased, used to have a wonderful shed filled with seeds of all kinds. Some of these seeds were loose, just lying on shelves, some were bagged and labeled, and some were in little pots or trays, germinating before planting. Depending on whether they would be flowers, trees, bushes, fruits, or vegetables, they were cultivated to various sizes, tended lovingly, and in time released to germinate in the big wide world of her various garden environments with moisture, shade, wind, sun, and time, nurturing the growth until the seeds developed into the unique form nature intended them to be.

In spite of her diligence with the seeds, inevitably some youngster or volunteer who knew no better spilt some seeds or mishandled a bag or shook them out in the wrong way. Seeds wound up on the floor, on top of cardboard boxes, and on the ground. Now here is the wonder of it. Some of these seeds born in the crevice of the sole of somebody’s work-boot made their way from this potting shed along a cement walkway, down steps, tumbled out of the shoe sole, landed in some tiny gap between stones or in a crack in the wall, and over time with no tending, no attention whatsoever, grew into a healthy plant, a small tree, a flower, or a fruit! Meanwhile, as my friend would often remark, she could go through the lengthy, thoughtful, informed process of nurturing the seeds into plants only to have them perhaps die at any point in the process.

Some spiritual practitioners practice diligently and never arrive, never awaken. Others, who haven’t done half so much or anything at all, awaken instantaneously with no spiritual discipline whatsoever. Given our current understandings, there is no sense in it, no reasonable explanation, no analysis that will satisfy the rational, thinking mind. We have absolutely no idea, although we can’t rule out deeper understanding of the path, in the future. Certainly, we can distinguish between the path of awakening, the journey out of conditioned illusion, and the arrival in an awakened state. Relative to current knowledge, the journey can certainly be hard to understand, in a comparative sense, although again in principle we might hope to collectively advance our maps of structural features. Almost by definition, the destination must always be irreducibly mysterious and unpredictable, because knowledge is part of it (and so changes in knowing change the territory), and more importantly because it is inherently creative (and creativity is an order-of-movement beyond knowledge).

There are people for whom the methods of awakening that are appropriate to western culture are irrelevant. They may be simple, fortunate or they may be, like in the story, like one of the seeds that against all reason germinates, grows, and flourishes in the crack of a rock by a fortunate accident. After all, awakening is mysterious and there is truthfully no reasonable explanation for it. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t try. Just because seeds grow out of rocks and just because some people are enlightened without effort does not mean that we do nothing and wait for enlightenment to happen. Neither does it mean that those who are privileged to be involved in psychological practices are better than others, nor that it is only them who can reach enlightenment.

When I speak of the psychological process, which precedes the second and third stage of awakening, I don’t mean a necessarily mental, intellectual process or a questioning in the abstract mental sense. For example, in previous books I have recounted at least two case histories that are not remotely questioning or psychological processes in the way we usually think of them. In one case a young woman literally dances her way to liberation. In another, several months of therapy were spent in silent sharing of the space, no words, a wordless therapy which resulted in a psychological breakthrough for the seeker. So the process is not necessarily self-conscious and you don’t have to know that you are questioning anything at all.

One of the most momentous points in my three-stage model of awakening is crossing the Threshold of Transformation. It is the culmination of the process of self-discovery and coming at the end of the first stage, the threshold is very simple and entirely unselfconscious. That simplicity may well be like the simplicity of the “lucky ones”, experiencing life as pure light.

There is no judgment, no criticism. However you get there is fine. No right way exists. The way for each of us from whatever culture, time, or country is unique and ultimately mysterious. We don’t have to try to make everybody the same. Everybody is surely very different. Each of us is a unique individual, relating and trying to live to the best of our abilities, conscience, and aspirations. But for some of us there is an overriding pull, an urge, a yearning we have had since as long as we can remember. It is a yearning for the Divine, a longing for God, a desire for pure love. In this remembering and longing we can relate to each other perfectly, just exactly as we are.

This article is an excerpt from Richard Harvey’s book Your Divine Opportunity.


Share this article

This article was published on this site in January 2024.

Related information