Richard Harvey - Psychotherapist, Author and Spiritual Teacher

Richard Harvey

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The Unique Teachings of Sacred Attention Therapy

Distinguishing features of Richard Harvey’s psychotherapy and spiritual teaching

Sacred Attention Therapy is a psycho-spiritual approach that connects psychological growth and spiritual development in a single, connected process of human maturation and development.

This is a list of the distinctive features of SAT. It comprises twelve theoretical/experiential constructs that are considered unique:

The Three Stages of Awakening

The first stage of awakening is the liberation from the childhood conditioning, the character defenses and the unconscious expression of personality. In order to awaken in the first stage, therapy and/or some form of inner work are necessary. The second stage of awakening entails opening to the true heart-nature of the human being, recovering personal authenticity, and embracing the individual’s true nature (true nature in SAT is distinct from the True Self, the former is the fulfillment of the whole human being and the latter is the term used for the attainment of the spiritual essence). In the third stage of awakening spiritual practice develops into spiritual discipline or sadhana and the unfolding of the life of wisdom, devotion and service.

The Process of Self-Discovery

The Process of Self-Discovery involves unpacking the contents of the unconscious, growing in awareness, becoming more literate and sensitive to emotions, energy, thought forms and the physical body, particularly in their repressed expression, relocating childhood beliefs and assumptions about life and understanding their relevance to contemporary life, reliving family dynamics, resolving unfinished business from the past, seeing how patterns are played out in relating to life in its various manifest forms, learning to forgive authentically, reclaiming projections (and transference in the therapeutic setting) and growing in clarity, wisdom and compassion toward self and others and becoming self-referring or adult, in the sense of moving steadily toward personal wholeness.

The Seven Core Elements

The Seven Core Elements (family beliefs, life statements, emotional-behavioral patterns, emotional suppression, sub-personalities, character strategies and the Central Character Dynamic) comprise a summary breakdown of the total survival strategy and a powerful approach to dismantling the childhood ego structure.

The Ancestral Tide

The Ancestral Tide is the weight of lineage that clients often feel more powerfully during the final stages of first-stage awakening. It comprises deep unconscious beliefs and assumptions, patterns of behavior and collective, interdependent character and personality formations.

The Central Character Dynamic (CCD)

The Central Character Dynamic is the creation and structure of the survival strategy in all its diverse aspects felt and experienced as a living, conscious entity from moment to moment complex, internal and external diagram of the summation of the survival strategies

The Original Wound

The Original Wound theory teaches that the client must be holding on and restimulating original, historical trauma consistently. The Original Wound is the core of the symptomatic and various wounds and damage the client has sustained over a lifetime.

The Seven Stages of Forgiveness

In SAT, forgiveness is an advanced stage of personal inner work. Feelings of outrage, resentment and vengeance must be resolved through feeling and catharsis before effective work on forgiveness can begin. When the stages are followed, the client is far less likely to conceal trauma and its effects beneath a sham or fake forgiveness.

The seven stages of forgiveness are, stage one – admitting that we are attached to vengeance and anger; stage two – setting about resolving the emotions that prevent us releasing outrage and blame; stage three – revealing our self-deception in our perceived right to hold on to revenge interminably and forsake a fantasy of retribution and making amends; stage four – owning our investment in seeking revenge; stage five – identifying the one who is suffering most and contacting our empowerment as the means to forgiveness; stage six – juggling all the insights of the previous five stages and feeling, experiencing and understanding our deep attachment to the past and how we forfeit real freedom for a fantasy of anger and revenge. In the seventh and final stage we take back the power and the compassion we have lost to vengeance, guilt and blame.

The Threshold of Transformation

The Threshold of Transformation is the transition between first- and second-stage awakenings, the relinquishing of the past in total (summarized in the seven core elements), the culmination of the Process of Self-Discovery, and the fulfillment of the promise of psychotherapy, counseling and inner work.

The Authentic Self

The Authentic Self is a second-stage condition in SAT teachings, which is not to be confused with the authentic self in other models. It is the seed of the original self that the client has forsaken in early life and died to under the onslaught of early conditioning. The authentic self has been replaced with a counterfeit self – the persona perceived to be acceptable to their environment.

The Three Veils of Ignorance

The Three Veils of Ignorance are thought, relationships and nature. Each one is an obstacle to full consciousness. Only when the thinking faculty has been brought into the service of the heart can we be said to be truly liberated from the stultifying effects of thinking. Relationships in the sense in which we habitually understand them are merely transactional, separative and intimidatory. As long as there is two there must be strife, contest and need and desire. The human being is in essence is love so she has no need of another to satisfy what rightly belongs to her and is perpetually available so long as she is in contact with herself or her essence. Nature in its terrifying destructive guise and intensely beautiful face is a beautiful adornment of the temporal realms. We must learn to see through nature and embrace the Divine essence it points toward.

The Birth of the Soul

Rather than being a given in Sacred Attention Therapy the birth of the soul is considered a potential. The soul comes forth given the right conditions for growth and furthering. The SAT position on the soul is not totally without precedent, viz. the twentieth century spiritual teachers GI Gurdjieff and Rudolf Steiner. In short, we relate to the temporal world through the soul, through our senses. So it is our soul that keeps us attached to this world. Whereas our spirit is our wings that allows us to soar to transcendental, timeless realms. The soul is what we think of as our evolving self, whereas the spirit is beyond birth and death.

The Four Stages of Ego

The Four Stages of Ego are, first, strengthening the ego. This is the process of creating a robust healthy sense of self, particularly healing the past damage that resulted in the ego being stunted or undeveloped; second, offering the ego in service to the soulful life; third, shedding egoic attachments following the perception that ego is illusory, and fourth, transcending the ego via the truly spiritual life. The four stages of ego in the Way of Sacred Attention synthesizes the usually oppositional views of western psychology and eastern spirituality and recasts the psycho-spiritual journey as a single, connected whole process of human awakening.

The Philozovo

The Philozovo is a term unique to the Way of Sacred Attention. In an unsacred age a term to denote the call of the Divine has been largely ignored, considered unnecessary and even redundant. Concepts of course underpin thinking and the worlds of will and emotions. The Philozovo reminds us that the call of the Divine may come at any time, in any place and under any circumstances. It is a word that evokes an ancientness, the primordial experience of a meeting with the numinous, the Divine or with God.

The Philozovo can appear in a plethora of ways and instill in the aspirant-seeker a variety of responses. The history of spiritual narrative has recorded some of this diversity. Yet none of these stories is likely to prepare us for the uniqueness and awe-inspiring nature of our true call to divinity.

Sacred Attention Spiritual Practice

Toward the end of the second stage of awakening if the spiritual aspirant possesses a strong potential and motivation toward the sacred-spiritual life he or she enters into a period of intensive preparation. This period of preparation involves the reperceiving of all the basic elements of the worldly life and their transformation from the personal or biased individual viewpoint to objective or transpersonal perceiving. The movement is away from the self-perspective and toward the viewpoint of Truth, i.e. no point of view at all. As the second stage of awakening demanded the loss of the childhood ego with its innate sense of protection and defensive reaction to threat in order to ensure its existence, so this preparatory period demands the complete loss of individual viewpoint, endeavor and personal investment for direct and complete participation in Truth and Reality.

As the basic foundation and building blocks of life as we know them are dismantled and transformed so the spiritual aspirant moves deeper into their intention, commitment and devotion to Reality.

Sacred Attention Discipline (Sadhana)

The second aspect of SAST is spiritual discipline or sadhana. Spiritual practice deepens through levels of intensity, devotion and wisdom and naturally develops into a perpetual spiritual discipline. When this takes place the aspirant is fully committed to a life in knowledge, devotion and service. The eternal moment is, as it has always been, ever-present as is the Reality of the Divine Source. No problem or issue in life is perceived outside its manifestation as arising forms in Consciousness and the self-identification at last gives way to the unfaltering insight that you are the Consciousness in which each and every form, all and everything, arises and subsides.


Mahanaman (from the Sanskrit) means the Great Name and it signifies the state of enlightenment and the full identification of the individual with Reality and Truth. without separation or self-identity in the process of arising forms out of the source state of being. In the teaching of Mahanaman the Divine Person resides in the center but also the periphery of each individual as their very selves. Mahanaman is the teaching of One Self only, One Self alone, and One Self as the salvation in realization of humankind and all beings in all realms at all times.

For training in this approach please see the Sacred Attention Online Training Course on this website.

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This article was published on this site in 2019.

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