The Direct Path: Creating a Journey to the Divine Using the World's Mystical Traditions By Andrew Harvey (Broadway Books).
Andrew Harvey, one of the today's foremost mystics and spiritual teachers, brings forth in "The Direct Path" a volume destined to become a classic in our time. Drawing on both personal experience and information gleaned from a lifetime of exploration of the many spiritual realms, Harvey offers an invaluable map for the spiritual voyager. He reveals how the journey may be undertaken, the stages by which it may proceed, and describes both the pitfalls and rewards of the undertaking.
Harvey begins with a compact account of his own amazing spiritual adventure. Born in India, he experienced, even as a child, deep mystical encounters. Sent to England for schooling, he won a scholarship to Oxford, and seemed destined to achieve a brilliant career as a don (the youngest ever appointed at All Souls College.) Disillusioned by the prevalent cynicism and skepticism of the university scene, he simply walked out and returned to India to seek his spiritual roots. There, he encountered a charismatic young woman whom he accepted as his guru, venerating her as an avatar. Ultimately, he left her when he found her deeply flawed. His continuing explorations have led him to the discoveries presented in "The Direct Path."
Harvey has explored at length the many spiritual traditions of the world, including Buddhist, Tibetan, Sufi and Christian, and he has written eloquently about all. In particular, he is a recognized authority on the Sufi mystic/poet Rumi, and his translations and biographical/literary study ("The Way of Passion") rank among the finest in this blossoming field. Recently, he has focused primarily on Christian mysticism ( Son of Man, 1998). In this work, he emphasizes that personal piety is of little value unless it is yoked to active striving for societal change.
Throughout his writing, Harvey has consistently presented the feminine principle-the intuitive, receptive, creative factor-- as the key element of the sacred journey. In "The Direct Path" this emphasis emerges through a remarkable collection of meditations and practices which prepare the student to experience the divine presence "directly" (without intermediary such as guru or prescribed dogma.) These exercises are rich gems retrieved from a lifetime of profound spiritual study and exploration. In essence, they are techniques to "open the heart," so that the sacred reality may come in. Drawn from the major spiritual traditions of the world, many utilize breath, mantra, and chanting. Other approaches range from "practicing the presence of the beloved," to "Becoming Buddha or Christ" and "Birthing the Divine Child in the Mother." As with all mystical techniques, their value is to be known through the actual experience rather than verbal description. Their usefulness is not limited to the "independent seeker" nor to the advanced student: they can easily be incorporated into the practices of church or other spiritual groups, and they are readily accessible to beginner and adept alike. What they offer is a way to know the sacred essence immediately, rather than merely hearing about it. Their effect can be immediate and astonishing. In times past, such expert instruction would have been available only to a select few associated with esoteric groups or cult leaders. Now this invaluable information is available to all of us for the asking.
In addition, Harvey offers guidance in various other areas, including the uses and care of the body, sacred sexuality, and the experience of dying. He emphasizes, however, that the ultimate aim of the mystic path is not ecstasy nor the attainment of esoteric "powers," but to serve humankind in the humblest, most selfless way. Only through such dedication can we truly function as "tireless instruments of God." "When you discover for yourself how real the Direct Path is. . . your whole life will change and you will discover with wonder and delight why you are here and what you are here for. You will discover. . . the freedom that is yours by right of being a child of God, the freedom of your divine nature and your divine truth, and this freedom and this truth will make you increasingly an empowered agent of change in every arena in the world." Andrew Harvey's own selfless dedication, his willingness to surrender egoistic ambition for "worldly" success is evident in this and the many other volumes he has produced (over thirty in all). At the book's beginning, he quotes the Bodhisattva's vow: "However innumerable sentient beings are, I vow to save them." Like the Bodhisattva in action, he does not rest until the world begins its collective journey home.
"The Direct Path" is an indispensable guide to all who wish to join this crucial endeavor. It is a priceless gift to each one of us in this critical time.