Cover image for The direct path : creating a journey to the Divine through the world's mystical traditions
The direct path : creating a journey to the Divine through the world's mystical traditions
Harvey, Andrew, 1952-
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Publication Information:
New York : Broadway Books, 2000.
Physical Description:
x, 291 pages ; 25 cm
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BL625 .H34 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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"The Direct Pathis the Path to God without dogma or priests or gurus, the Path of DIRECT self-empowerment and self-awakening. Whether you know it yet or not, you have been on it since the day you were born." Today more Americans than ever consider themselves to be "spiritual" people, and yet regular attendance at religious institutions is down, perhaps because many of us are searching for a way to encounter the divine on our own terms.  We long to connect with something greater than ourselves, but are often conflicted about the teachings and rituals of organized religions, or simply don't know where to begin.  In this groundbreaking, eloquently written work, renowned religious scholar Andrew Harvey builds on his twenty-five-year study of the world's various mystical traditions--including Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Sufism, the Kabbalah, and Christian mysticism--to create an illuminating spiritual map that anyone can use to develop a direct path to the divine. Andrew Harvey has devoted his life to the study and pursuit of the divine, and inThe Direct Pathhe chronicles his own spiritual journey, revealing the events that led to his own disillusionment with the guru system, and the hierarchy and hypocrisy of many contemporary religious movements.  He then provides us with the tools we need to cultivate a personal relationship with the divine without relying on gurus, churches, or other institutions and intermediaries.  Drawing on mystical traditions from around the world, Harvey outlines eighteen sacred practices--including breathing, chanting, meditation, prayer, and the practice of lovingkindness--that readers can use to unite mind, body, and soul, and he streamlines them into a step-by-step guide to personalized spiritual development and enlightenment. He discusses the four stages of spiritual transformation--awakening, engagement, marriage, and birthing--and shows us how we can incorporate the sacred into everyday life through activities such as dieting and fasting, dancing, laughing, and healing exercises such as yoga and tai chi.  Through practical lessons and exercises, Harvey guides us in excavating our spiritual self, and creating not only a path to the divine but to the millions of other selves who walk the earth with us. Perfect for anyone who, in this time of spiritual uncertainty, yearns for fresh teachings and wisdom that will bring them closer to their life's purpose and meaning,The Direct Pathis an intelligent, beautifully crafted masterpiece from one of today's most celebrated and respected spiritual luminaries.

Author Notes

Andrew Harvey is the author of "Son of Man" (named one of "Publishers Weekly's" Best Books of 1998) & the bestsellers "The Journey to Ladakh" & "Hidden Journey". With Sogyal Rinpoche, he coauthored "The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying". He lives with his husband, photographer Eryk Hanut, in Nevada near the Mojave Desert.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

There is a certain irony in the existence of a book that intends to guide one in realizing that self-guidance is the only guidance needed on the spiritual path. That said, Harvey's effort is highly likely to be consulted by those seriously interested in the mystical enterprise. Well-known for his translations of the Sufi sage Rumi and for his several spiritual autobiographies, Harvey spent many years following gurus before deciding that "the direct path" was better. He finds the same insight in a variety of traditions, and the breadth of his knowledge about the world's religions impressively and substantively underpins his work. Defining the spiritual life as the progression from awakening, through engagement, to marriage and birthing, Harvey shows how breathing exercises, meditation, and other practices can strengthen the individual's spiritual life. Firmly grounded and clearly articulated, Harvey's argument offers inspiration to those searching for such a life. --Patricia Monaghan

Publisher's Weekly Review

HWhen Harvey (Son of Man, 1998) was six years old growing up in India, he sat on the balcony of his home and learned that God was everywhere. He watched in amazement as the kindly, drunken family cook played a drum ecstatically, stopping suddenly to pray. The man explained that God was always listening, always loving us just as we are. This wonderfully bold book is Harvey's latest offering, his song of faith and praise. He begins with a call to spiritual revolution. With great passion, Harvey describes the spiritual longing that led him to abandon a fellowship at Oxford to search in India and other countries for a guru. The wrenching disillusionment he experienced with his guru helped him realize that everyone has the ability to make a "direct and unmediated contact with the Divine." To help others discover the "direct path," he offers a rich compendium of exercises taken from the world's traditions, from prayer to tantric lovemaking to a Taoist laughing dance. Harvey describes each practice with a down-to-earth clarity and simplicity, writing not as a guru but as a spiritual friend eager to share the tools that others have shared with him. Some readers will shy away from Harvey's radical stand, but the friendly wisdom of this book will encourage many others to claim their own power and possibilities. Author tour. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Harvey is famed for his spiritual memoirs, but this is more of a how-to guide for seekers of all stripes. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



The Map The soul grows by its constant participation in that which transcends it. --Gregory of Nyassa You have to climb the stairs and rest your feet firmly on each step in order to reach the summit. --Sri Aurobindo Between me and You, there is only me. Take away the me, so only You remain. --Al-Hallaj Why We Are Here Take courage. The human race is divine. --Pythagoras The first thing we must understand if we are to take the Direct Path in full awareness is why we are here in the first place and who and what we really are. The great mystical traditions are astonishingly united in their answers to these questions; they each claim, in different ways, that we are essentially sparks of Divine Consciousness, emanated by the Divine out of itself, and placed here in this dimension to travel back to conscious union with the Godhead. Thus, for the Buddhist mystics, the purpose of being incarnated here is to unfold our innate Buddha nature and enter into conscious possession of its timeless peace, bliss, power, and all-seeing knowledge. For the Hindu mystics of the Gita and the Upanishads, the whole meaning of human life lies in realizing the essential unity of our individual soul, the atman, with Brahman, the eternal reality, that timeless and spaceless and placeless bliss-truth-consciousness that is at once manifesting everything in all the worlds and beyond all manifestation. Sufi mystics claim that the human being has a unique relationship to God because God fashioned us with his own hands, while creating all other things by the Divine Word and its fiat; they believe that God, while making us, breathed into us his own being, sowed in our innermost core a memory of our origin in him, and ordained that the whole purpose of our lives on earth should be to return in full awareness to the Origin, whose children we are. For Christian mystics such as Meister Eckhart and Teresa of Avila, the soul is placed in a body and in matter to undertake the immense journey to a living aware "marriage" with the inner Christ and his divine love and knowledge. For Taoists like Lao-tzu and Chuang-tzu, the whole of the universe is a manifestation of the the mystery of the Unnamable--which for convenience's sake they name the Tao--and the one who realizes his or her own nature realizes his or her own essential unity on every level with this Tao in its original peace, harmony, and boundless fecundity. When you look past the different terminologies employed by the different mystical systems, you see clearly that they are each talking about the same overwhelming truth--that we are all essentially children of the Divine and can realize that identity with our Source here on earth and in a body. Although each of the mystical systems expresses it in subtly different ways, this realization that we can all have of our essential identity with the Divine is always described as a nondual one--that is, as a relationship in which we wake up to the overwhelming and glorious fact that our fundamental consciousness is "one" with the Divine Consciousness that is manifesting all things, all worlds, and all events. In other words, we are each of us parts of Godhead who, when we are aware of it, enter into a naked, nonconceptual identity-of-consciousness with the Source from which all things and all events are constantly streaming. Each of the major systems has a different way of characterizing this astounding truth. Jesus in the Gospels says; "The Kingdom is within you." The seers of the Hindu Upanishads describe the awakening in three interrelated short formulas: tat tvam Asi, aham Brahmasmi, and sarvam Brahmasm, which mean "You are That," "You are Brahman," and "Everything that is is Brahman." A Tibetan Buddhist, Nyoshul Khenpo Rinpoche, describes this nondual realization of essential unity with all things in the following way: Profound and tranquil, free from complexity, Uncompounded luminous clarity, Beyond the mind of conceptual ideas This is the depth of the mind of the Victorious Ones. In this there is not a thing to be removed Nor anything that needs to be added. It is merely the immaculate Looking naturally at itself. A great Sufi mystic, Rumi, speaks of the mystery of this union when he writes: Love is here; it is the blood in my veins, my skin I am destroyed; He has filled me with passion. His fire has flooded the nerves of my body Who am I? Just my name; the rest is him. A Jewish mystic, Ben Gamliel, says of this ultimate truth state that it is the "seamless being-in-place that comes from attending to Reality." All these formulations are stammering attempts to put into words what can never be adequately expressed but can be experienced--and has been over the course of human history by millions of true seekers in all traditions. The Paradox of the Journey All major mystical traditions have recognized that there is a paradox at the heart of the journey of return to Origin. Put simply, this is that we are already what we seek, and that what we are looking for on the Path with such an intensity of striving and passion and discipline is already within and around us at all moments. The journey and all its different ordeals are all emanations of the One Spirit that is manifesting everything in all dimensions; every rung of the ladder we climb toward final awareness is made of the divine stuff of awareness itself; Divine Consciousness is at once creating and manifesting all things and acting in and as all things in various states of self-disguise throughout all the different levels and dimensions of the universe. The great Hindu mystic Kabir put this paradox with characteristic simplicity when he said: Look at you, you madman, Screaming you are thirsty And are dying in a desert When all around you there is nothing but water! And the Sufi poet Rumi reminds us: You wander from room to room Hunting for the diamond necklace That is already around your neck! The "Sublime Joke'' of the Journey Knowing that we are looking for something we already have and are does not, of course, mean that the journey is unnecessary, only that there is a vast and sublime joke waiting to be discovered at its end. Excerpted from The Direct Path: Creating a Journey to the Divine Using the World's Mystical Traditions by Andrew Harvey All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.