Killing the Guru and Finding God: the Andrew Harvey Story.

Andrew Harvey

I was recently introduced to a fellow by the name of Andrew Harvey while listening to the always enlightening Sounds True: Insights at the Edge with Tami Simon. Intrigued by what Harvey had to say, I ordered one of his books, The Direct Path—and came across his fascinating story of spiritual transformation and redemption.

Harvey was born and raised in India and after a childhood rich in spiritual encounters he became a disciple of a Hindu guru named Mother Meera. He followed her for 10 years, eventually helping Mother Meera gain a worldwide audience with a book he wrote about her titled “Hidden Journey: A Spiritual Awakening”.

During this period, Harvey also met and studied with a Tibetan mystic named Sogyal Rinpoche. He was invited to help Rinpoche write a book that detailed the essence of his Buddhist teachings on compassion, the spiritual path and dealing with death and the dying. It was called The Tibetian Book of Living and Dying and it quickly became a worldwide bestseller.

At this particular point in time, 1994, all was right with Alex Harvey and the world. He had co-authored a spiritual classic. He had discovered his guru. When suddenly, during a two month period, his whole spiritual world came crashing down. It’s a time that Harvey refers to as “the anhililation” and it shook down like this:

  • In a committed relationship with another man for several years, Mother Meera tells him to break with his partner and get married—to a woman—and “write a book claiming that her divine force had transformed me into a heterosexual”.
  • It’s revealed in the press that eleven of Sogyal Rinpoche’s female students are suing him for sexual abuse—and there are many others with similar claims.

As you might expect, Harvey is devastated, realizing that his guru “was not the divine master I had believed her to be” and then finding out that the Tibetan mystic he helped put on the spiritual map was not true to his own teachings on love and compassion.

So what do you do when you’ve reached a spiritual dead end, when all that you’ve believed in is now without meaning or relevance?

Well if you’re Harvey, you pick yourself up and look for another path. You begin by looking inward and through many hours of meditation and prayer discover “the force, passion, and transforming power of the path of direct communication with God.”

This transformation was helped along by a supernatural event that Harvey calls “the most important inner experience of my life”. A couple of years after his spiritual crisis, he decides to attend mass at a local Catholic church. After the priest had finished delivering an especially powerful sermon on the passion of Jesus’s love, he looks up at a crucifix at the back of the church to find it has literally come to life.

For fifteen astounding minutes, with my eyes open, my entire being racked by the glory of what I was witnessing, I saw the Christ on the cross extending his arms in a gesture of all-embracing, absolute love to the whole of reality. Wave after wave of divine love invaded me…I gripped the pew in front of me as involuntary sobs of gratitude shook me from head to foot.”

Harvey points out that this encounter did not turn him into a Christian but had an immensely powerful impact on his life. It got him looking into the real message of Jesus, something I’ve explored in past blog posts including The Forbidden Sayings of Jesus and Three Bible Passages that May Blow Your Mind. From Harvey’s point-of-view:

Christ’s real teaching was not, as the churches have claimed, about worshipping him as son of God; it was an attempt to transmit to everyone else the intimate, direct, totally transforming relationship he had himself realized with God…after all, if everyone is able to be in unmediated contact with the Divine, to be taught in the terms of their own lives directly by the Divine, then what need is there for a priest class, monasteries and temples, or gurus?”

Harvey reached the same conclusion that can be found throughout the Gnostic Gospels and one that I happen to share—that what we seek is already within and around us. It’s a point that’s referenced in what if often called “the fifth gospel”, The Gospel of Thomas: “The Kingdom of God is inside of you, and it is outside of you. When you come to know yourselves, then you will become known, and you will realize that it is you who are the sons of the living Father.”

To access this divine essence, Harvey recommends developing a regular practice of looking within and he spends much of the book expounding on different meditation and prayer techniques. He believes that with time and a little effort, divine consciousness and direct access to God can be achieved at all times, by all of us. Again, in the words of Harvey:

Search, even half consciously, for a higher meaning to life, and you will find that the Divine will start to initiate you in direct and sometimes shocking ways…start to search sincerely for a higher vision, and the Divine will open for you a door into its, and your, essential truth.”

ADDENDUM TO ORIGINAL POST, 9/25/12:

What do you do when you’re in the spiritual doldrums or have hit a spiritual dead-end?

The day after this story was posted I received an e-mail from a reader who was facing a severe loss of faith and looking for advice. It got me thinking about my own moments of doubt and also got me wondering–have you ever faced a spiritual crisis like Andrew Harvey and how did you deal with it? Feel free to add to the comment section below or contact me directly at tomrapsas@gmail.com. In the coming weeks, I’ll be writing a follow-up story (or two) on how I and others have dealt with a loss of faith and managed to rediscover God.

  • Sharon

    I have been awakened to the Infinite One that is in dwelling. Is there a book you can recommend and a religious affiliation ?

    • Tom Rapsas

      Hi Sharon, there are many books I could recommend, but given the two-part nature of your question, I have a special one in mind. It’s “God of Love: A Guide to the Heart of Judaism, Christianity and Islam” by Mirabai Starr. Contrary to the norm, Mirabai is a devoted follower of several religions and she makes a very compelling case that the love of God can be found in many diverse places. I share the same belief that whatever spiritual readings or practices bring you closer to God are the right ones for you, regardless of where they may originate. Best wishes on your journey, Tom

  • c. jones

    Gee I dunno about Mr. Andrew Harvey’s latest revelation. It would appear from the brief bio that you provided, that Mr. Harvey spent over 10 years with a “Guru” that he actually knew very little about. Had he not found the time to inquire as to her actual beliefs regarding homosexuality? Did she suddenly change up on him, or was he so carried away by his own need to feel enlightened (and then write bestsellers about it) that he chose to simply overlook any troubling contradictions he had previously found? He then apparently made the identical error w/ his other ” mystic” and presumed “Ascended Master”. He really doesn’t sound too discerning does he!

    When you’re two for two in picking straight up “spiritual” charlatans to guide you and btw also at the same time making you a lot of money writing counterfeit “Spiritual Classics”, about bogus guru’s, maybe you ought to just find a more honest line of work.

    • Tom Rapsas

      Fair comments, c. jones! I believe we all suffer periods in our life where our spiritual beliefs can be turned upside down. In Andrew Harvey’s case, he was fortunate enough to find a new belief system to take place of the old one. If there’s any fault to be found, it is in placing one’s faith in a “guru” when I believe we all have the ability to achieve a one-to-one relationship with the Divine, with no need for the middle-man. ~Tom

  • D. Davis

    At a time I was at a spiritual low, I read basically a dare “Read Psalm 91 everyday for 30 days and see what happens.” I accepted this dare / challenge and have been far better for it. At the first reading I was rather confused, however each day I read it as I had committed to myself. Along the way I was lead to many other verses and chapters in the Holy Bible and other spiritual readings from various authors (Oswald Chambers, C.S. Lewis etc.) Since then I have grown closer to God and experienced a far greater inner spiritual connection than ever before. When we sincerely search for wisdom and spiritual contact with God we will find it. I believe in God the Father and the Holy Trinity. He has brought me peace and comfort and purpose to my life. Along my journey I discovered this website and have added it to my constant searches. Every time I visit here I find another nugget of faith and spirit to hold on to. Thank you

  • cosmicmom

    “Loss of faith”…hmmmm. I find my journey from the Xn Church and Trinitarian Xnity much more of an evolution of faith rather than a loss of faith. I love that much larger and loving umbrella. Having been ordained in a mainline denomination in 1981, the very paragon of orthodoxy and buying into the company line, over the past seven years I have found a much richer and more fulfilling spiritual life by going within. We truly are beings of light and love and don’t need all of the church baggage. Although I am still serving a church and will do so for four more years until I retire, I have found that preaching and modeling the love, compassion, empathy, forgiveness and mercy of all religions and urging them to go within, rather than preaching doctrine and scripture which has come to us through political agenda and the power of the Church, has made a profound change for the better in my congregation. People don’t know WHY things have changed, only that they have – and life together is much better now than in the past. At one time all I wanted to do was to leave the Church. I have been suicidal on more than one occasion because of the Church, yet now I awake every day, eager to serve, even though I’m not strictly a Christian anymore. There is such a wonderful freedom in throwing off those hard shackles, yet seeing such a miraculous change in myself and my people.


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