Saturday, August 25, 2012

In the Garden of Spirituality – Andrew Harvey

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“We are not on earth to guard a museum,
but to cultivate a flowering garden of life.”

– Pope John XXIII


The Wild Reed’s series of reflections on religion and spirituality continues with an excerpt from Mark Thompson's interview with author and mystic Andrew Harvey. Thompson titles this interview "Rebirth Through the Wound," and it's one of a number of interviews that comprise his book Gay Soul: Finding the Heart of Gay Spirit and Nature with Sixteen Writers, Healers, Teachers, and Visionaries. In the excerpt that follows, Harvey talks about his understanding of soul and spirit, and how "love engenders action."

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I would say that soul is the diamond and spirit is the shining of the diamond. Soul is the divine essence in us that is changeless and unaffected by anything that happens and is always at peace, always in a state of calm, bliss, and love.

Spirit is the agency, if you like, of the soul – like the Holy Ghost is the agency of the Father and Son. It's the creative fire, the creative effulgence of the soul that acts in life to permeate different activities – from scrubbing the toilet to writing poetry. But no human words can ever be adequate to the subtlety of the interaction between the spirit and the soul. It might be said that the soul is like a sun and the spirit its rays. The rays and the sun are one, but the rays have a different function; they are the glowing agents of the soul, working in reality to transform reality.

. . .[I]t's essential to nurture the soul, and the best way to do that is to continue to remind yourself of its existence. Sitting in simple meditation and following your breath is a very good way. Or repeating the name of any divine person who really moves you, repeating it in your heart and imagining the divine light drenching your body and mind as you are doing so. Those two forms of meditation are extremely simple and can be done anywhere, under almost any circumstances.

Very slowly you will come to realize that your whole life can flower into a kind of meditation, and you become not disassociated from your life but freely detached from it, able to watch it and so able to manage and love it with generous dignity. As Blake wrote: "He who binds to himself a joy / Does the winged life destroy; / But he who kisses the joy as it flies /Lives in eternity's sunrise."

You're beyond the point of knowing. You are in love with a mystery. You trust it and go on and on moving deeper and deeper into its heart of light. . . . [This] mystical transformation doesn't lead to passivity nor to a higher sublime form of narcissism; it leads to the most passionate, unstinting form of action in the world, which is the action of love and service. . . . Love engenders action. What's remarkable about the lives of nearly all the greatest mystics is that after their illuminations they work, work tirelessly. They build monasteries or write books or go on and on explaining, communicating – Buddha didn't just sit about after his illumination; he trampled throughout India for fifty years giving what he had been given away!


For a series of excerpt's from Andrew Harvey's book Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ, see The Wild Reed's 2010 Holy Week series:
Jesus: Path-blazer of Radical Transformation
The Essential Christ
One Symbolic Iconoclastic Act
One Overwhelming Fire of Love
The Most Dangerous Kind of Rebel
Resurrection: Beyond Words, Dogmas, and All Possible Theological Formulations
The Cosmic Christ: Brother, Lover, Friend, Divine and Tender Guide

See also:
A Dance of Divine Light
Toby Johnson on the Mysticism of Andrew Harvey

Opening image: Michael J. Bayly.


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