Direct Path to the Divine

Andrew Harvey returns to his boyhood mysticism

One night in India when he was six years old, Andrew Harvey relates in hisbold new book, the family cook taught him that God can appear anywhere, anytime. His parents were out for the evening so his nanny let himhave his dinner on the balcony. Afterwards, the kindly, alcoholic cook saton the ground beside Harvey and played a drum ecstatically. Suddenly, theman stopped, set his drum aside, and knelt to touch his forehead to thefloor. He explained to an amazed Harvey that he was thanking God.

"And you think God hears you?" Harvey asked.

The cook was astonished. "God is the moon. God is the garden. God isyou. God is me. God all around. God always seeing. God always listening.All you need to do is to whisper and God will hear."

Harvey's upbringing in India, where many religions and many strands of spirituality coexist, bred in him a deep faith in what Keats called "the holiness of the heart's affections." The author of the best-selling "A Journey in Ladakh" and "Hidden Journey" believed he could experience the sacred in what he loved and the acceptance and kindness he encountered from a vast array of characters, from theHindu cook to holy men to the Muslim driver to his own Protestant parents, affirmed that this was so.

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India also bred in Harvey the sense that the divine could be presentin nature--he could see the sacred in the sensual as well as thetranscendent. At nine years old, Harvey, was shipped off for an education in England, where, at 21, the gifted student was elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford, England's highest academic honor. Before he was locked in the "dark refrigerator" the English public school system, he remembers feelingGod's presence in the wild beauty of peacocks dancing at twilight in a bramble-choked, snake-infested field behind his Delhi house. Longbefore he read Shakespeare, this rapturous image of beauty emerging fromchaos has became for him "a sign that the Divine threads all of the Creation with its secret splendor."

But spiritual longing led Harvey to abandon a promising career in academia to search in India and other countriesfor a guru. He thought he had found a true divine master in a young Indian woman, Mother Meera. Yet, in 1993, Mother Meera, urged him to leavehis new love (and current husband) Eryk, get married and write a book describing how her divine force had zapped him straight.

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