Richard Harvey - Psychotherapist, Author and Spiritual Teacher

Richard Harvey

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Three Different Paths

There is a saying: “Ecstasy is the meal, service is the offering.” When we reach this stage in the sacred journey, we discover our bliss. We sit in being-ness and experience the ecstasy of existence. The response is devotion and it arises out of gratitude, out of compassion, out of love and the flowering of our humanness.

You feel compelled to make an offering and the offering is service to the Divine. You are no longer separate from existence, so you serve existence. You find your purpose and fulfilment in your surrender to the Divine will and in service to Life. That is the fulfilment of the penultimate spiritual stage, the return to the Source. The suffering and the joy of others become your own. You are no longer removed from life in separateness. Your path is the path of return.

Ramakrishna, who followed many religious paths to fulfilment, described the sacred journey like this:

“There are three different paths to reach the Highest: the path of I, the path of Thou, and the path of Thou and I. According to the first, all that is, was, or ever shall be is I, my higher Self. In other words, I am, I was, and I shall be forever in Eternity. According to the second, Thou art, O Lord, and all is Thine. And according to the third, Thou art the Lord, and I am Thy servant, or Thy son. In the perfection of any of these three ways, a man will find God.”

Each of these ways is a spiritual path but only one transcends the illusion of separateness altogether and that is the first: “the path of I.” Nothing less than the transcendence of this final illusion, namely the manifestation of opposites, is required for entry into the kingdom. It is the release not only from false identity, but also from identity itself. As the ancient Vedas describe it: TAT TVAM ASI—that thou art. In other words the “I” inside me is what I really am. The realisation of this is beyond duality.

Here is a passage from my personal notebooks:

“My struggle against God had been long and hard. I had always maintained my will strongly against the Divine Will and, begrudgingly and ironically, I knew I was doomed. I had a vision of my death: I was in a forest and it was night. I was walking towards a house brightly lit from within. I looked through the window then entered through the front door. His figure was awe-inspiring—a huge swaggering Samurai in full armour and helmet with a giant sword. I pulled out my own sword, tiny in comparison, and we began a fierce fight that lasted some time, until I became increasingly exhausted. I realised this Samurai was playing with me. He could kill me at any time. Smarting from the futility of it all, I renewed my attack on him. With a mighty thrust he delivered a fatal blow and I fell…I was pure consciousness, no body, no self—nothing but consciousness—drifting serenely in space. A long way ahead was an object I couldn’t yet see. As I came closer, I saw that the object was a goblet, a chalice, which tilted towards me and poured sparkling, glinting water into my being. In that moment I knew that death was the same as life. I knew that nothing had changed. The cosmic joke was this: death and life were the same and life was everlasting.

[Excerpt adapted from The Flight of Consciousness, Richard Harvey, Ashgrove Publishing 2002]

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This article was published in Spiritual Guidance, June 2012, on

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