Andrew Harvey – The Death and the Birth
Interview by Iain McNay
Iain: Hello and welcome again to Conscious TV. I am Iain Mc Nay and my guest today in the studio is Andrew Harvey. Hi Andrew.
Andrew: Lovely to be here.
Iain: And Andrew is a spiritual teacher and author of many many books. I have some of them in front of me here. There is “Hidden Journey“, about his time with Mother Meera. There is the “Sun at Midnight“ which is about his.quite dark time he had... quite a challenging time he had at one point. “Son of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ.“ And then his latest book “The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism“. And a lot of our programme today we´ll base around this book, which I really, really enjoyed. And then he has a new book coming out in a few weeks called “Radical Passion“.
Iain: You´ve written about, I think about 12, 15 books alltogether.
Andrew: Oh no, I've written 30 books, yes.
Iain: 30 books! I´m only scratching the surface here then. (laughing)
Andrew: Well, it´s a good surface, thank you very much.
Iain: So I´m gonna start with a quote actually from your new book, your unpublished book
at the moment, “Radical Passion“ which I really liked. The quote is as follows: “Writing books is all very well, but spiritual practise is the essential acitivity of a spiritual seeker. You may write a hundred wonderful books, but what will they matter if you never find out who you are?“ And that was said to you by Thuksey Rimpoche many years ago. And it´s something that really impacted you, wasn´t it?
Andrew: Yes, Thuksey Rimpoche was the amazing Mahayana master that I met when I was a young man at the age of 28 in Ladakh. I shall never forget the moment I met him. I walked into this crumbling old monastery in the middle of the Himalayas and there was this very, very calm, very grand man sitting in candle-light, chanting Om Mani Padme Hum. And I realised that I was in the presence of something I had never met before: a truly realised, awake, magnificent divine human being. And he became my teacher. And after that first visit to Ladakh I was so overwhelmed by the majesty and the beauty of Ladakh, by the teaching that he gave me and by him, that I wrote a book about it. Which became my first book, “A journey to Ladakh“. Then I went back the next year and he was actually in the process of dying. And I had my first interview with him and I started to tell him: “Well, I´ve written a book about you“. And he cut me completely short, he couldn´t have cared less. All he was concerned about was wether I had actually done the spiritual practise. And then he said what you recited [above quote] and it was a very important moment for me, because unconsciously perhaps I was testing him. Would he be interested in becoming so called “famous“ in the West? He wasn´t interested at all. He was an authentically awake human being who understood that the only purpose of being on the Earth is to wake up to your divine identity and to live it out. And that was such a reassuring message to me and such a bitch slap to my ego. Because here I was, I thought... I´m offering you something wonderful. But he didn´t care about the book, what he cared about was, was I really serious about the path and was I prepared to do the work?
Iain: Finding out who you really are.
Iain: And that´s a real commitment, isn´t it? To stay on that path...
Andrew: You have to give everything
Iain: And there was something else I pulled out which I really liked... the beginning of “Hidden Journey“. When you were five years old you wandered out, because you lived, you were born in South India in 1952 and you lived there the early part of your life and you wandered out one day on your own. And you met a yogi...
Andrew: (laughing) Yes.
Iain: ...underneath a tree. Quite a filthy dressed yogi.
Andrew: (laughing) Yes.
Iain: ..and he said to you: “You and me, everything is same, one thing, one thing.“ Did that have any impact at five years old?
Andrew: Yes! Absolutely! I think children have an extraordinarily direct perception of the truth which later gets undone by, what a great English poet called, the dirty devices of the world. And I think that as a child I had a naked realisation which then got lost and then got reclaimed. Because I can remember many, many, many visionary moments as a child and when I met him he was able by his presence to communicate something of the unity of reality. And I remember looking out the window of my home as a child and really seeing that the branches and the trees and the dogs and the dirt and the old women were all emanations of one mystery. Seeing it, feeling it, knowing it directly. It got lost when I became a school boy and an over-achiever and all the other things, but it was there at the beginning.
Iain: Did your family support you in that?
Andrew: Well, my family was a very open-hearted tolerant family and they were protestants, but very deeply devoted to Jesus. In a very down-home way. But I had a Catholic nanny, a Muslim driver and a Hindu cook. And my father was always saying: “There is only one God and there are many paths to God. We happen to be Christians, but we must respect everybody else´s religion.“ That was one of the first things I remember him ever telling me. And he said:“You never ever disrespect anybody else´s path to God.“ And I think what being born in India gave me, was an immediate initiation into the oneness of reality, the oneness of the divine presence. And I knew very early on that there were many different ways of approaching this presence. They were all holy. And they all had elements of the truth, but there was a truth; is a truth that transcends them all and includes them all.
It was a wonderful way to begin a life. And I think it´s been the foundation of my work. Because my work has been about a universal mysticism, a universal reality. And I´ve taken different paths myself to that reality. I was initiated into Mahayana Buddhism, I studied Sufi mysticism in Paris and plunged into Rumi. I took the path of devotion with Mother Meera. I studied Christian mysticism, became the disciple of a great Christian mystic. So I have gone through these different disciplines and initiations as an attempt to really approach the one reality from the holiest paths that I had access to, so as to deepen my own knowledge of it and so as to bring together the deepest insights of these traditions and the most potent sacred technogies of meditation and visualiation, so that I could help others. Because this is such a dangerous time and we need all the truth we can get. (laughing)
Iain: We´ll come on to that later.
Andrew: Yes, we will.
Iain: I think one of the things I always enjoy about your writing is your deep honesty. And there´s a nakedness in how you reveal your inner torment and you describe wonderfully your spritual openings, but you´re not frightened to go into the dark night side. I know you started off with... at the beginning of “Hidden Journey“ you were talking about when you were in Oxford, I thought you were about 18 years old...
Ian: ...you were in despair and you thought about suicide, but you couldn´t talk to anyone about it. Can we look briefly at how it is to be in that situation and then find the way forward? Because there´s many young people I know that are very unhappy. How did you deal with that crisis practically?
Andrew: It´s a wonderful question, I think....It wasn´t really at 18. What happened was, I went to Oxford when I was 18 and then at 21 I became a fellow of All Souls College which is supposedly the greatest English academic honour. It´s an elite College and you are only elected to it, you can´t get into it any other way. So I found myself at 21 being a member of this starry elite and then wondered why I was so miserable. One reason was that when you actually meet the people who are ruling this world it´s a pretty disappointing process because you see why this world is in the state it is. And another reason is because I was beginning to understand the limitations of the life of the mind. And another reason was that I had a series of very, very painful and very depressing and distressing love affairs. And the combination of those three kinds of disillusion led me to the brink of total despair.
I was saved by my childhood I think and the memory of a sacred world. So I knew somewhere - although I wasn´t religious in any way, I´d abandonned my religion - that there was another reality. I trusted there was another reality. What´s frightening for so many young people in our culture is that they don´t have the guideposts to this other reality. And this is what I hope my work and the work of other people can offer them. I hope that my work can say to a young man, a young woman: “Don´t give up! There is a wholly new world waiting for you to discover. And it won´t immediately relieve you of your pain. But it will give you a wholly new perspective on reality and give you so much hope and joy and encouragement. If you´re prepared to do the humble work. And if you are, God will do the rest and open up for you a wholly new realm of joy. Hang in there!“
Iain: You have to take a chance, don´t you and come out of this environment...
Andrew: You have to risk.
Iain: ...that doesn´t work. It´s probably both physically and mentally. And and in your case you went back to India. You were drawn back to India at that time. And that started a whole new adventure, because I think... I forget always the sequence of your life, but you...
Andrew: I do too! (laughing)
Iain: ...you went to the Aurobindo Monastery I think... in India.
Andrew: Yes, I left England when I was 25. I went back to India for a year and I wasn´t really looking for anything consciously. And I found myself living in the Aurobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. And at first I was really resistant to all these people in white robes and the tomb and the adoration and all of this. I thought this was a fantasy. But I had the luck to meet a very humble, very sweet, very intelligent French-Canadian poet, Jean-Marc Frechette who lived actually in the next hut to me in the hotel that I was living, by the sea. And he did the best possible thing for me. He just laughed at me for about a month or two. And everything I said, which I thought was so dazzlingly intelligent, he used to say things like: “You´ll grow out of that kind of thing once you have some real experience.“ And at first I was extremely annoyed, but then I got to see him as he was and as he is, a very, very real, open and sacred person. And I was so moved by him I gave up my arrogance and I started to read this amazing philosopher Aurobindo, who is probably the greatest philosopher of the evolution... of sacred evolution that the world has ever seen. The Plato of the divine evolution. And I had a series of overwhelming mystical experiences which showed me that everything I had learned up to that moment – and I was horribly overeducated, I knew many languages and I could quote Kierkegaard in the original and Kafka and Rilke – but what I learned in those months was that everything that I´d think I knew was nothing compared to this vast new realtiy that was opening up for me.
Ian: And that was something that was tangible and palpable because you had those experiences.
Andrew: Yes! It wasn´t mental at all. I think I needed to be hit over the head by the fist of gold of the Beloved again and again and again. Because I, like many intellectuals, I was so drunk on my own intelligence that I really needed direct first aid from God which took the place of huge mystical experiences which left me completely aghast. And very vulnerable and fragile because here I was, supposedly one of the intellectual elite and here I was being exposed to the barrenness and sterility of that whole vision of the world. What was I going to be, what was I going to do, what was going to happen to me? There was a lot of drama about it.
Iain: And what I also liked was you stayed with it, because you were in the monastery and you felt nothing was happening. And in fact, it was the last day I think, you were going to leave the next day. And you were sitting meditating and then... you first experienced something opened up... but you´d had the courage and the patience to stay with it although nothing was happening, I think that´s what...
Andrew: Well, I was desperate... I think that the greatest gift that you can have is a kind of desperation. I knew that I was miserable. I knew I was emotionally miserable, intelletually miserable, sexually miserable, I knew the world that I was going back to was not a world that was nourishing me. And I knew that something was happening although I couldn´t describe it. And I knew that I had to stay. Finally I had the beginnings of the beginnings of enough humility to be able to stay. That´s really what´s required: the marriage of desperation and humility. And if you have that, you are a very lucky person because then the Beloved can start working with you.
Iain: Yes. And you then heard about Mother Meera who at that time was 17 years old and living in India.
Andrew: Yes, yes,yes. Well, it was the same person actually, Jean-Marc Frechette who stayed on in Pondicherry and then wrote to me when I had returned to Oxford. “I have met this very extraordinary person and I want you to come back and meet her.“ I was then in America, I was teaching at Cornell. And, because I trusted him, because I knew he was not a flake, or a fool, or a fantasist, because he was my different, I said: “I´m going to try this. I´m going to see.“ And I went back to Pondicherry that winter. And I met Mother Meera for the first time in a small room in Pondicherry. There were very few people around her at that time. She was extraordinarily radiant and beautiful and she had the great courage to teach in total silence, which floored me and thrilled me. No words, no concepts, the direct presence. And that was a great blessing for me because I think if she´d been in any way an intellectual teacher I would, my mind would have found ways around it, or ways to critcise it. But I had either to accept this extraordinary presence in silence, or reject it. I chose to accept it. And it was a very great blessing at that time in my life that I could surrender to this amazing presence in her.
Iain: And also it´s quite extraordinary because she was 17 years old... and a young Indian girl and you were a very educated person and you were willing to say to her, well you are my master. You are my guru.
Andrew: Yes, it was unmistakable actually. In a way that´s true, but in another way when these things happen they happen at such a level that you have no choice. And she was so beautiful and so pure and so integrated it seemed at the time and the whole scene around her was utterly without any kind of nonsense so that I felt safe. And I was so my soul thrilled to hers. And I loved her.
Iain: It´s interesting you say you had no choice. And I think...
Andrew: I think it was my destiny to meet her. And I think it was part of my soul´s contract. I felt like that.
Iain: Yes. And so it´s kind of like you felt you were in a flow with your part, a flow with your destiny.
Andrew: Yes. And although I later left her, as you know, and it was painful and tragic and dramatic leaving, I never regret having known her. Because the years - the 15 years that I spent as her disciple - were years of immense transformation. And I remain extremely grateful to all the qualities of love and tenderness and generosity that she showed me. She is a very extraordinary person. And I know she is helping many people.
Iain: And you had quite dramatic openings when you were with her...
Andrew: Oh yes! Oh yes!
Iain: ...how you saw reality. There´s one [quote] I just again pick out from your “Hidden Journey“ book. “My eye dissolved in a long ecstasy that remained unwavering day after day lucid moments, but also went through horror, pure fear and bliss receded. Became aware of the calm that persisted underneath and throughout the fear.“ Can you talk about it, how it was to have the bliss and then the fear, and then find the place underneath the fear?
Andrew: The great Indian teacher Ramana Maharshi was once approached by one of his disciples who said: Oh I´ve had the most incredible vision, I ´ve seen Krishna and Radha and all the Gods and then I saw the universe. And then I saw everything dissolve into light and reappear in light. And Ramana was smiling. He said: “Master, why are you smiling?“ And Ramana said: “Well, all of those things come and go. But the important thing is to discover what remains under all circumstances because it has never been born and will never die.“ And that is the Self, the divine identity. So I think what that experience is about, is about being taken into one aspect of the divine, the great, great bliss, which is of course central to the nature of the divine and then being plunged into a raw experience of the destructive energies that are also part of the divine´s working in duality. Going through both and then being shown that underneath and permeating both, lies the calm of the Self, the normal calm of the divine identity which is really clear as water and in a beautiful way totally ordinary. And one of the great things of having persisted on the mystical path is that I am very grateful for the amazing experiences I´ve had. There have been great graces. But I´ve never ever become addicted to them finally because I´ve always know since that experience that the real state is the normal state of clear awareness. And that is the real achievement, to stay in that state, patiently, lucidly, calmly, on and on and on, radiating from that state whatever is needed in the moment.
Iain: Can you talk more about how clear awareness manifests for you, how that feels for you?
Andrew: Well it´s constantly expanding for me. I think when it first arrived, it arrived as an experience of divine light permeating and creating everything. When I was 36 I saw the universe vanish into white light and reappear in the diamond white light of divine consciousness, saturated with that light. So I understood and beyond concept, that the whole universe and everything in it, is a crystalization of light energy and that that light energy was not two with my own divine consciousness. So a certain seperation was over and a unity consciousness was beginning to be born. And for a long time how clear awareness manifested was that I could get into a state of calm concentration and the universe would suddenly light up as if a switch would go on and that would be accompanied by great peace, great joy, great tenderness in my being. So it was as if my divine being was seeing the divine world and there was this exquisite connection. That went on for many years, but then I realised that that too could be a fixation, because it was so delicious that I would try to get there, could become an addiction of a very refined kind.
So then I let it go... or it left, actually. And I found myself much more normally, just relating to realtiy. Everything really, a cup of coffee, a person in the queue in the shop, the aeroplane, music, relating to it from a spaciousness which was ordinary, but very, very beautiful and calming and powerful. And what I´m finding now is that that´s getting deeper and richer and more and more embodied. So that it´s something that I feel I´m not only doing in my mind, or not only in my heart, but that more and more my body is becoming vibrant with it and I think that this is the next stage which is unfolding.
Iain: It kind of because... it affects your cells, doesn´t it?
Andrew: It totally does.
Iain: It affects everything physically,emotionally, mentally, spiritually...
Andrew: Well, I see it as a unified force field. I think the physicist and the scientist are looking for the unified force field; it´s already here. It is this light divine consciousness. It is sat chit ananda: being, existence, bliss. Everything is unified in the great mystery of this light presence. And the path is allowing this unified force field to take you over through grace. And first it usually appears in visionary experiences, which are really the refined intellect or the open heart. But at the later stages of the path you realise that your whole body is being subtly transformed by it so that you can enter into it completely and become one thing just as it is one thing.
And you can see this in the wonderfully realised people that there are on the Earth and I think if you have the luck, as I had the luck to be around the Dalai Lama, the Dalai Lama is an entirely unified integrated person. He is as much present when he is giving a hug to a visiting astronaut, or blessing an old lady, as he is when he is giving a very high teaching, as when he is blowing his nose. It´s always this complete integrated mind-heart-body loving being that you´re experiencing. And I think that´s where we´re all being invited to go. That´s our true nature, our true destiny, our true identity. It´s very very wonderful.
Iain: How was it for you integrating these experiences?
Iain: How does it feel? How´s that...?
Andrew: Very, very difficult. Well, of course, you see, once you connect with this amazing power and light all the dark stuff comes up in you. The shadow in you comes up to be healed. But it means you have to look at it. Because what´s being asked of you is a massive transformation of everything. The way you think, the way you feel, the way you choose in every aspect of your life. How do you choose to react to the person who makes you angry? How do you choose to react to the inevitable blows of life, sickness, or bankruptcy, or having a critic not like your book very much? How do you choose to react to your impatience? The qualities in you that really need to be transformed? So once you´ve had these experiences, this isn´t the end of the path, it´s actually the beginning of the integration process, which is the tough part because you have to do the real work then. And you can only do that patiently and humbly, through sacred practise and through shadow work and through failing and through being a fool and falling and picking yourself up again.
Iain: Yeah, in your book “The Hope“ which I´ll do a little plug for again because I love that book, you talk about... there´s a death happening... and also a birth and I think you´re one of the rare people for me that really recognise the... in the one way there is no inside and no outside, in another way, in duality there is an inside and the outside. And you understand that the outside represents at one level what´s going on, on the inside of all of us. And the challenge is to find... and you mentioned, the shadow... is to find where there´s reactivity, or the something that we´re not quite sure about. To find the source of that place in us...
Andrew: Oh let´s be honest about it: cruelty, savagery. I think when you´re really exposed to your own ego, you come to understand – and this is one of the most important ascpects of the mystical path – you come to understand that what you think at the beginning of the path [is] that you have an ego, but it´s, you know, like everybody else´s ego, it´s no big deal, it´s sad in places and tormented in places, but fundamentally you´re a nice person. Well one of the things that you learn is that the ego is lethal and cruel and addicted to power and can be, when pressured, extremely nasty. And that this ego that you have is also the ego that everybody else has. And this ego is a false self which creates all kinds of dramas and crazynesses in your life and causes a great deal of pain in your life wether you want it to, or not. So part of the courage of taking the mystical path is learning how to face the depth of what I can only call the criminality of the ego. We´re all serial killers as long as we live...
Iain: We all have that potential...
Andrew: We all have that potential. And once you see that, it gives you a very stark insight into why the world is as devastating and devastated as it is. Because there is not only a human ego, but there´s also a communal human false self that is being created by our addiction to dominating nature, our lust for power, our vision of ourselves as the chief potatos whereas in fact we´re just part of a web of life. And that has led to what is now ravaging the world, a great environmental crisis, a political corporate class that is dominating the world to stripmine it. 2,000 billion people living on less than a dollar a day, the amazon forest burning down, 95 % of the sea polluted, animals being slaughtered, whole species being destroyed. That is a result of our addiction to the ego and our addiction to the false human ego. And that is the scenario, that´s what´s happening.
Iain: OK, what practically did you do to look at that within yourself? Because this I think is the key for so many people that they see the excesses on the outside and yet...
Andrew: They can´t make a connection.
Iain: Well I think... I´m not a bad person. I´m a kind person, I think I have my moments when I loose it. Maybe I loose my temper about something, but I´m essentially a good person. Yet, all this terrible stuff is happening on the outside. So what is the key for looking within? How do people start this?
Andrew: Well I think the first thing is to get over your fantasy of being a good person. I think the most dangerous block to real realisation is believing in your propaganda about yourself. For example let´s take that statement: I loose it sometimes.
Andrew: Right, but when you loose it sometimes you probably cause a great deal of pain to the people you love most. And when you loose it to a person in a shop, perhaps a very patient person who is serving people today, you bring misery, real misery into the life of that person. So the first thing is that you stop making excuses for yourself. And then you understand that as long as you are acting in any way like that, you are actually participating in a massive destructiveness that other people may be acting out on a larger scale, but the way you do it, connects you to that larger scale.
Iain: It feeds that.
Andrew: It feeds that. It keeps it going. So while a Hitler or a Pol Pot may be an orgiast of that kind of darkness, their darkness and your darkness is only a matter of scale. You have what they have inside you. And until you´ve got to that place, you´re in a fantasy about yourself and you´re not doing the real humble work of opening up this darkness to healing from the Beloved, which is really where the path starts.
Iain: Okay, so you´re talking about practically taking every reaction, maybe quite a small reaction... to somebody you don´t like, especially interaction with other people where you speak quite loudly, or angrily and you look back and you understand the source in you and maybe even why that´s come up in you first place...
Andrew: Yes, and the wounds that are behind that source. For example I´ve had a long problem with anger which I hope now I am very close to transmuting with the help and the grace of God. And that comes from my childhood suffering, that comes from my addiction to my intelligence, that comes from a real heartbreak about what people are doing in the planet. But as long as I indulged it, as long as I was holy and righteous, I was its slave and it could be very dangerous in my life and it could be very dangerous in my teaching. What I had to learn was that that anger actually connected me to the destructiveness of so much in the planet. And I also had to learn that behind that anger was a frigthened child, brutalised and humiliated child. So I had to open that frightened, brutalised and humiliated child to myself. I had to start protecting him in me. And I had to start opening his pain to the divine healing, so that I would no longer secretly and unconsciously be mastered by him. And that didn´t mean giving up the energy of anger. Because I think it´s very important to hold on to that tremendous energy, but to transmute it into fierce compassion energy, which is what the masters have. I´ve seen the Dalai Lama furious, but his fury was a divine ferocity and it lasted precisely five minutes, it was totally effective, it was clear and then he was himself again. His beautiful calm, tender, compassionate self. So it didn´t feel like his wounded child spilling out. It was truth itself.
Iain: It wasn´t personal.
Andrew: ...intervening, it was not personal.
Iain: Yeah, now I understand the difference.
Andrew: So you have to work on the personal wounds behind your personal anger to free the fierce compassion energy and the clarity that anger can give you access to, but can dominate and destroy, if you let it become your master and not your servant.
Iain: Yeah, well that is real work for most people, isn´t it, because you got to be...
Andrew: Real work for everybody, this was real work for me.
Ian: ... you‘ve got to be ruthlessly honest with yourself.
Andrew: Yes, naked.
Iain: You‘ve got to be dilligent and you´ve got to spend the time understanding the dynamics of what goes on and you´ve got to, in effect, take responsability for everything that goes on on the outside, grounded in you.
Andrew: That´s it and that´s why the spiritual path is very difficult. But on the other hand, people seem to spend an awful lot of time learning French, or Chinese if they want to become business people. It´s very, very hard to learn the intricacies of a business if you´re in a corporation. People need to get real about what life is truly about and devote their true energies to the most important task of all which is how to live your true self, in action, in the world, at a moment when the world desperately needs more and more of us to turn up as loving agents of The One, creating a new world together.
Iain: I know at one time you were very close to Father Bede [Griffiths] He is dead now...
Andrew: Oh yeah, he was my greatest teacher of all.
Iain:... and he talks about us living in the Hour of God. Explain the Hour of God.
Andrew: (laughing) Explain the Hour of God! Well, I´ll tell you the story. I don´t know how many people listening will know who Father Bede was, but Father Bede Griffiths who died in 1993 at the age of 87 was the greatest Christian mystic of the 20th century with Thomas Merton. And he was someone who opened up Christian mysticism to the glory of the East. He lived for the last 40 years of his life in India and he was a saint. He wasn´t just a brillliant man who´d had a few experiences. He was quite obviously a saint and a prophet and radiated humility and the highest kind of love. He was an amazing, glorious, transcendently, beautiful person. And I had the honour to make a film about him. And at the end of the filming I was sitting with him waiting for the crew to arrive for the last day and he leant across the table in his little hut in his ashram in South India and he said: “Andrew you know that we are in the Hour of God?“ And because I´d been trained at Oxford and if you´re trained at Oxford you´re trained to ask snotty questions, I said: “And what exactly do you mean by in the Hour of God?“ I´m so glad I did because he told me, he said: “Humanity has come to the biggest evolutionary crisis of its history in which it´s going to have to choose between the human false self that is addicted to the domination of nature, power over others, a whole set of structures that are fundamentally created out of fear and anxiety and suffering and seperation, between that and humbling itself before the Divine and going through a massive transformation that will make it potentially the co-creator of a wholly new way of being and doing everything.“ He said: “This is the moment that we are at.“ And then he said, “There are three potential ways forward“, and this was the most important conversation of my life because I was listening to an enlightened person, a saint and a prophet and he was giving me very tenderly and very precisely the map for the whole of the rest of my life and for this time and for the work that I was meant to do in this time. And I knew that because we had that relationship. He was my sacred beloved, it wasn´t... more than a master, it was a Beloved-Beloved relationship and so I listened with every cell of my body and he said: “There are three possiblities: first, that the human race will see that it´s about to commit suicide and matricide, about to kill itself and kill a great deal of nature, the body of the mother. And that it will cry out to God for transformation and it will be transformed.“ He said, “This is totally unlikely, it´s not going to happen like that.“ And it sure hasn´t. Then he said: “The second possiblity is that we are so addicted and so power-drunk and so crazy and so psychotic that we´ll just go on and on and on destroying, destroying, destroying in this fantasy of perpetual growth. And we will commit suicide and we will take a lot of nature with us. Although nature, of course will regenerate in the end. And he said: “Many days I think that that´s really what´s going to happen because we´ve done so little about the environment, we´ve done so little about the horrific ways in which capitalism depends upon poverty. We´ve done so little about educating people to the real crisis and helping them, but - and then he smiled – the God that I know, the God that I know is living in me and living in you and living in the universe is a God of infinite love and mercy and great skillfull means and will go on reaching out to us to try to help us.“ And then he said: “There is a third possibility and this is what I believe is going to happen.“ He said: “I believe now, that the human race is going to go through a great global dark night.“ And he was using the word “dark night“ in a very specific way. In the mystical systems of Christianity and Sufism and Judaism and also in Vadriyana Buddhism, in certain kinds of Hindu Tantrism it is known that in order to be in the state of divine consciousness you have to die in this life to the false self. And it is know that this process is a very gruelling, terrifying process. I have experienced it and many people have experienced it. And it nearly kills you because it has to. And it´s ferocious beyond imagining because the Divine has to surgically get down to the roots of the roots of your shadow and your ego and dig them up out of the core of your life to save you from them. And you don´t know where they are yourself, so the Divine has to do it and it usually, in a personal journey, manifests as a series of overwhelming crises which are tailored just for you to get you bleeding on your knees, humble before God. And this is what he said is going ot happen to the whole human race. We´re going to be taken through a massive set of interlinked crises, which are going to explode and are going to completely annihilate the false selves, false agenda, this terrifying banal cruel obscene agenda of power that we´ve become addicted to. But that, it´s not going to be the last judgement. It´s not going to be the end of humanity although many many people will probably die. It´s going to be the crucible of the birth of a new humanity. Just as the individual mystic goes through the dark night to open up the possibilty of the divine consciousness being installed in the burnt out wasteland of the hollowed out self, so as we go through this immense global dark night what´s going to happen is that a wholly new consciousness will be installed on every level, in a humanity purified by tragedy and purified by immense suffering and chastened by a confrontation with its shadow that will take it to the brink of extinction, but not to annihilation. This I think is what is happening and I think it´s quite clear that we´re very far on in this process and about to go, in my opinion, into the eye of the storm very soon. But I am not in despair. Because I met him, also I went through my own dark night and I know that at the end of this terrifying process there is a glory and a peace and a beauty and a joy which you can´t get to without it. And which is available now on the earth to those who can grasp it.
Iain: And you also talk about... you were with him, I think, a few days before he died.
Iain: And he said to you: “Do not grieve. I am not dead. How can a lover of The One die?“ A beautiful thing to say: “How can a lover of The One die?“
Andrew: Well, it reminds me of the wonderful lines of Rumi´s when he was dying – the great mystical poet Rumi – he said: “When I die, I will die at the breast of the All-Merciful. What am I saying? How could the lover ever die?“ Bede was in deathless consciousness. He was going through a terrible dying process, but it was quite clear that part of him was crucified by this dying process, but another part was utterly free. And I was very blessed to be with him. He died in May 1993 and I was with him in January for two weeks while he was going through this process and it was a very extraordinary blessing. But even after he died I experienced his presence very vividly, in fact, there was a wonderful moment which happened when I heard that he‘d died, which I heard in California. And I was destroyed by grief because I´d only just met him. He´d completely overwhelmed me with his beauty and truth. And I´d experienced this tremendous pain being near him while he was dying and also the tremendous joy of seeing him so radiant. And now he was gone and the world felt completely bled of colour and of any hope and possibility. And I went down to the sea at Big Sur and cried. And suddenly the sun came up and it was very strange. And this shoot of white light, golden white light came across the sea and illuminated me and I heard his voice and it said: “Oh Andrew, don´t exaggerate,“ he said, “I´m not dead. I´m just one of the flames of eternal reality. (laughing) And I am going to be with you always. Whenever you need me, I will be with you and even when you don´t know I´m there, I will be protecting you and loving you.“ And it was like we´re speaking now. And I thought: this is very strange! But I felt very elated. And then, about seven months later, I met a Rumanian psychic who had been trained by Padre Pio one of the great psychics. And she said: “It´s so strange. There´s a man in orange curtains, he looks as if he´s English.“ Bede used to wear the robe of the sanyassin. “And he´s in the room and he´s got a message for you.“ And I thought, my God, this is really weird. And I said: “What´s the message?“ And the message was... she said I have no idea what this message means: “What you experienced by the sea in California was more than illusion.“ And what was so beautiful about the message was that the film company that had made the film about his life was called More Than Illusion Films. So Bede was very English, was revealing to me the immortality of the soul by a little joke. This is very, very, very British way of instruction. But... he´s never... he´s never away. Death is nothing to the lovers, because they´ve already died in life.
And once you´ve died in life, you´re living in the deathless quite normally. And that´s why you can gamble your life away for God, that´s why you can jump into the fray. That´s why you can be fearless, that’s why you can love abandonnedly and not be too terrified of the cost. Because you´re no longer identified with this (gestures towards his body). Although you love, cherish and nurture this, it´s very sacred, it´s the temple in which this consciousness lives.
Iain: In a way it´s easier for you, because you´ve had the realisation of who you really are, so..
Andrew: It´s available to everyone.
Iain: When I went into your lecture in Oxford last night you talked about... I think it was five things that people could do with regard to sacred activism. We have about ten minutes left, so why don´t you just run through those five things that people can practically do?
Andrew: Well, let me first describe what Sacred Activism is, because this is truly my life´s work. As all of these realisations came together I realised for myself that what I - and I think everyone else at this moment is really being challenged to do - is to put divine consciousness, love and knowledge into sacred action in the word. Because I came to understand that mystics can tend to be narcissistically separate from the world and be addicted to transcendence and be addicted to their sensational mystical experiences and that, that can be an escapism of a very dangerous and subtle kind. I also understood that activists as they are, while driven by very noble motives, can also lack self-knowledge in the kind of way that we´re talking about, which inevitably makes their activism tainted by ego, self-righteousness, divisiveness, an unhealed anger which leads to what we see. People not being convinced, people being scared of becoming activists. So it came very clear to me that if we´re going to heal this crisis, we´re going to have to have on the earth a new kind of human being that fuses together like Jesus did, like Martin Luther-King did, like Ghandi did, like the Dalai Lama does, a profound spiritual awareness of self-knowledge with a commitment to radical action, but inspired by divine wisdom and spiritual wisdom. And coming from a healed ego, an illumined ego. So I devoted the next five years to really speaking with people I knew who were sacred activists, studying the mystical traditions and to living it out myself and then I wrote the book “The Hope“. What I came to understand is that everybody can do this if they really bring themselves to the point where they can commit to these five kinds of service. The first is that you need to be able, I think, to serve the divine reality, by praise, by adoration, by gratitude, by profound commitment to love it totally through everything. And if you can do that, in whatever terms is natural to you, doesn´t matter if you´re a Buddhist, a Hindu or a Daoist or a Christian, it doesn´t matter as long as you turn to it. It will guide you and it will show you what you need to do and what you need to be and what you need to read and what you need to attune your whole being to. It is wisdom itself and the whole of life will be lit up by it and you´ll be guided in amazing ways. And everyone who has entered this field knows this. The second kind of service is that you really need to be someone who consciously prepares yourself to become an instrument of this great love and knowledge force working in reality. And that to me means five kinds of practise. Cool practises that enable you to calm down, so that you can be in the peace of your essential being, hot practises that work on the heart to keep it alive in compassion, prayer practise that aligns you with the will of the Divine, because sometimes you are not going to be able to do either the cool or the hot, because you´re too stressed out. Body practises, because what´s trying to be born on the earth is a new embodied divine human. So you need a body that´s suple and strong and able to integrate these energies that are awakened by the divine experience. And then shadow work, because without working constantly humbly on this darkness in one´s ego you´ll find that even your great realisations can be taken over...
Iain: That´s right.
Andrew: So the third kind of service is really service to all sentient beings. We´re in a time where there has to be no more separation between us and anyone else and between us and the animals. We´ve got to start to realise that we are crucifying the animals in a horrible concentration camp and therefore limiting our whole experience and bringing upon us a great tsunami of dark karma. So service to all beings means truly recognising the Divine in and as everyone and everything in the creation and honouring it, cherishing it, respecting it by turning up as far as you can with your complete dedicated self in every human contact.
The fourth kind of service is to be aware of this great death and the great birth that´s trying to take place on it, be aware of the central truth of it, but not get lost in the grandness of all of that. Get real about doing something local. And what I´ve asked people to do is to ask themselves the question to discover their mission: “What is the cause that breaks my heart most?“ I´ve done this all over the world and if you do it with four, five hundred people and they´re doing this deeply, amazing things happen. Because you realise that there´re many things you care about, but there are probably one or two things that really, really lacerate your heart. And if you can work with other people in what I´ve called networks of grace, cells of between six to fifteen people – there´s a networks of grace organisation on my website that people can look at – if you can form cells of people, ordinary people like you and I, in real life, working around these causes that really activate you, then you´ll discover purpose, mission, passion, peace, joy. And you´ll discover how much is available to those who work in this humble way together. And that will change your whole vision of life and that will give you energy where you felt paralysed.
And the fifth kind of service is just to get real about making yourself congruent. And that means, how do you invest your money? Do you really invest in companies that are stripmining the world? Or are there companies that are trying to make a difference, trying to birth a new reality? Who are you voting for? Do you really look at those policies and really, really make a serious choice to vote for someone who will help the environment, who will help the poor, who will bring in animal rights? Because if you´re not doing that, you´re participating in the death machines orgy of destruction. How do you treat the people in your life? How do you treat the people in the shop? How do you treat the waiter? How do you treat people? If you´re not treating them with what the Persians call adab which is courtesy of soul, you´re still in duality. You don´t realise that whoever is in front of you is an aspect of God and there should be a reverence and a respect in it.
Iain: And an aspect of you.
Andrew: And an aspect of you because in the essence you and God are not two. And you have to really work to become congruent. But the more you become congruent the more peaceful you become and the more joyful you become and the more divine power, through the grace of God, can come through you. So if you can bind those five forms of service you can do a great deal even in this very extreme situation. People say: “Oh, what can I do?“ My God, what you can do is to get a serious spiritual practise, really ask yourself what concerns you most, get together with some other people just like you and start doing something. And you´ll be guided, you´ll be fed, you´ll be inspired and you will find peace in the middle of all of this. And more important you will find joy. And you´ll find purpose. And this is not a fantasy. There are hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people doing this now on the planet. So let´s get with the programme. Let´s stop using the desperation of our situation to justify our paralysis. Let´s use the desperation of our situation to galvanise ourselves, to fling ourselves into a transformation to truth and identity and start working humbly together to change the planet.
Iain: Great, well, almost perfectly you´ve take this to...(Andrew laughing) the last minute. I think one of the things I really liked was, you were saying to me yesterday, that this is the happiest time of your life.
Andrew: Oh, by far!
Iain: I think that´s wonderful. You´re doing the work you love and it´s brought you happiness.
Andrew: Well look at Aung San Suu Kyi. She´s been in house arrest for 15 years, but she is happy. She is radiant because she´s fullfilling her destiny. You only can be happy if you have learned that life is service. And you´re not serving out of duty. You´re serving yourself in others because you´re one with them and what gives you more joy than to serve others in that spirit?
Iain: Okay, it´s totally common sense, isn´t it?
Andrew: Totally self awake.
Iain: Okay Andrew, we need to finish, I´m going again to show four of your thirty books. So we have “Hidden Journey“, about his adventures with Mother Meera. “Sun At Midnight“, the dark night of the soul book. “Son Of Man: The Mystical Path to Christ“ and the book we based the last part of the interview on, called “The Hope“ which I personally really enjoyed. And you have a new book coming out called... is it “Radical Passion?“
Andrew: Radical Passion! (Laughs) That was a provocative title.
Iain: Good, thank you very much for coming on to Conscious TV.
Andrew: My great pleasure, thank you.
Iain: And thank you everyone for watching Conscious TV, I hope that we´ll see you again soon.
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