An Excerpt From the book The Direct Path
By Andrew Harvey
Brief Biography of Andrew Harvey
Andrew Harvey is a world-renowned scholar and teacher and is the author of over thirty books, including the critically acclaimed
Son of Man and Journey in Ladakh, and coauthor of the best selling
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying. Born in South India in 1952, he studied at Oxford University and became the youngest person ever awarded a fellowship to the prestigious All Souls College. He has devoted the past twenty five years of his life to studying the world's various mystical traditions, living in London, Paris, New Your, and San Francisco, and teaching at Oxford, Cornell, and the California Institute of Integral Studies. Andrew Harvey's book
The Direct Path-Creating a Journey to the Divine Using the World's Mystical Traditions is a guide to practical spirituality which empowers and challenges each of us to take control of our spiritual destinies. It is filled with easy to follow yet profoundly transformative spiritual practices gleaned from the world's sacred traditions.
Review of The Direct Path
Since first discovering Andrew Harvey's Hidden Journey and
Journey in Ladakh I have eagerly awaited each of his literary offerings. His passion, eloquence, sensitivity, and deep understanding of the world's mystical traditions transforms whatever his chosen topic into a sumptuous feast for the heart and soul. Reading the first few pages of
The Direct Path I was touched to find that among those listed in Harvey's acknowledgments is his cat Purrball. Delving more deeply into
The Direct Path I began to realize that I was partaking of the most beautiful and deeply touching commentary on the spiritual significance of animals and nature ever written. If you have hungered as I have for a spiritual path that included the sacred significance of animals and nature,
The Direct Path will leave you feeling as if you have come home at last. Not only does Andrew Harvey include the animals in this magnificent yet profoundly user friendly book but interweaves them passionately throughout.
Nature as Revelation and Source of Healing
from chapter three of The Direct Path by Andrew Harvey
(quoted with permission)
To awaken to the sacredness of the body and of embodiment is to know yourself increasingly, and increasingly normally, as a divine human being in a divine world. Nature is not dead or other or simply a set of gorgeously complicated interlocking systems as many scientific and some religious philosophies would have it; what mystical awakening reveals is that nature and all things and beings in it are sacred both in their origin and in all their relations and holy particulars.
As the divine light in consciousness works on and clarifies and purifies all your physical senses and divinizes them, the essential beauty and glory of nature will become clearer and clearer, more and more astounding, and more and more revelatory of the glory and beauty of the Divine that is everywhere appearing in and as all things and beings in nature. The mountain reveals itself as divine stability; the waters of the sea as the always-flowing divine power; the tiger as divine strength; the anemone as divine delicacy.
As this holy awareness deepens and as the great adventure of marrying light consciousness to the body's emotions, actions and thoughts begins and becomes more refined, nature starts to unveil even greater secrets. What the growing marriage between body and spirit deepens is the sense of divine identity between you and every other sentient being and the knowledge of the holiness of every thing and creature in the universe. As you learn to bless your own body as the manifestation of God more and more completely, so a faculty for blessing all other creatures grows more and more rich in you until every flower, every passing animals in the street, every fall of sunlight on the snow peaks, every sudden fall of rain, becomes different notes in one long and endless symphony of divine presence and divine love. "Everywhere and in everything my Beloved appears," sings Kabir. "I see Him every time I turn my head. What wonder and what bliss!"
What this marriage between you and your body and you and your body and nature and the light Source of all things makes more and more obvious to you is two interconnected revelations. The first is that all living things are equally holy and equally sacred. I am not more holy or sacred than the worm in my garden or the little cricket suddenly lost and bewildered on my white carpet because he wind has blown him into my drawing room; I am not more important in the web of life than the slug or sea horse or ladybug. A frog appears to me as beautiful as any archangel. While it is true that I have been graced by God with the consciousness to participate in Divine Origin and see all things flame out with Origin, that does not entitle me to believe myself special; it makes me a partner in that divine humility that is manifesting itself as all beings and all creatures, in what a great Christian mystic of the thirteenth century, Angela of Foligno, called "the unspeakable humility of Divine Love that hides itself in the Creation and takes on all shapes and forms within it."
The second revelation that the marriage of body and spirit brings is that all human beings, precisely because they have been graced with origin consciousness, have the responsibility to serve and protect the creation in and under God, following with reverence the laws of the Father-Mother as revealed in and through nature in her relations and rhythms. As the child of the Father-Mother consciously aware of my origin in that light that is the origin of all things, I have a final and inescapable responsibility to treat all things and beings with divine love, divine respect, and divine tenderness. The more I do so, the more I will grow in my own human divinity and the more I will experience, with ever greater intimacy and wonder, the Divine Presence in every rose, every bird, every shifting play of wind in the grasses, every fern and poke weed.
One of the greatest and most reassuring mystical experiences of my recent life was seeing my cat Purrball blazing softly in divine light at the top of the stairs, licking her paws. From the moment I first saw this beautiful tabby sitting resignedly at the back of a cage in the pound, my heart contracted in love for her. That love grew and grew in the weeks and months that followed; I never knew that I could feel so unconditional a tenderness for any creature. I experienced each moment with her as a direct, almost deranging blessing that I began to know was taking me deeper and deeper into the scared heart of the Father-Mother. It was as if she were the "worm" on the hook of divine love and that divine love, using her as bait, was drawing me into an ever deeper realization of the holiness of all things. Because I loved my cat so much so suddenly, every animal I saw in the street or on television, even animals that I had before disliked or been afraid of, such as cockroaches, boa constrictors, and alligators, all became not only startlingly beautiful but also profoundly touching. I had known for years about the horrible ways in which we treat animals in slaughterhouses, cosmetic factories, vivisection institutes; I had also known many f the facts about the extermination of animal species that our environmental holocaust is causing. Loving my cat more and more made all these forms of knowledge suddenly inescapably real. Every time I saw the face of an abused animal, I saw the face of my cat in pain; every time I read of the disappearance of a species of fish or insect or bird I saw her face being wiped out by darkness. I realized that the Divine had given me my cat to open my heart finally to the living horror of what we are doing to animals and the natural world.
At first the immediacy of such naked knowledge scared me. I believed that a great deal of mystical experience had already opened my heart; I was not prepared for this rending of another veil by love. But as I surrendered more and more not only to loving Purball but to loving all animals and things in nature in her and through her, I found that I grew in heartbroken love for all things and beings menaced now by the environmental catastrophe human greed and blindness are engendering, and hat from that heartbroken love came a more and more passionate desire to do everything in my power to help others awaken to what I was being shown. I remembered what an old Indian chief had told me years before at a conference in New York: "When you allow yourself really to fall in love with the world, your whole being becomes full of a mothers passion to protect her children, and a fathers hunger to see them safe and strong."
And then the moment came, when on evening, after I had been down to the fridge to drink some milk, I came back up the stairs to our bedroom and saw my cat at the top of the stairs surrounded by a nimbus of dazzling sweet diamond light. Every aspect of her seemed supernaturally precise in that dazzling light; each whisker, the white under her chin, the shining of her eyes, the "M" mark on her forehead, all were utterly clear; It was if I had never seen them before, never loved or adored or revered them enough. I realized that if I completely married my body, heart, soul, and mind together, I would see all things with this sacramental passion, burning with the glory of God.
What the Direct Path has brought me to, then, is the knowledge that I am one with all things and beings in a divine awareness and energy that streams from the light. It has also brought me closer to the love of the Father-Mother for all things, and the protective passion that arises naturally from that love. I at last am really beginning to understand what the Lakota Indians mean when they say that all living things are their relations, and to feel some small part of the love that drove St. Francis to love the larks rising from the dawn fields of Tuscany and pick up the worms from the paths near his hermitage.