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When The Spiritual Teacher Appears : Center for Human Awakening BLOG
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Blogs contained here emanate from questions or responses to themes that arose in psychological and spiritual settings – sessions, groups, training workshops, etc. Please note that blog entries 64-166 are drawn from Richard Harvey’s articles page. This retrospective series of blogs spanned over 25 years; please remember when reading them that some of Richard’s thought and practice have evolved since. We hope you enjoy this blog and that you will carry on submitting your psycho-spiritual questions for Richard’s response, either through the form on our Contact Us page or in the ongoing video blog series. Thank you.

When The Spiritual Teacher Appears

by Richard Harvey on 08/14/20

Photo Credit: - Thai Nhan

The seeker or wayfarer through life waits in despair, disillusionment, and emptiness, without expectation, without anything to hold onto, with nothing. He cries out in silence, into space, a non-receptive space… and the sound merely echoes back at him. Some of you have been here. You will recognize this place, this endlessness, this emptiness, this waste land at the end of hope.

It is here that the spiritual teacher appears. His label is unimportant. He is beyond labeling. He appears out of the ocean, out of the sky, out of the mist. He appears on the earth, strange and yet somehow familiar. He is distant and intimate at the same time. He is like music and he has a certain taste, a taste you have forgotten. He is alien to you, but close, angry, peaceful, serious, and funny. He is beautiful, whether he is lovely or ugly. He is both woman and man. He fascinates you in all ways and you would like to be like him, in defiance of all that you previously desired or aspired to. He is exotic and ordinary, plain and complicated, simple and elaborate. You cannot pin him down. He will not respond to your death-forces. He will not be annihilated by your definitions, but you need to define him, to nail him down in a coffin or up on a cross, to allot evil or virtues to him. He is somehow beyond both. He may bless you with his curses or curse you with his blessings. He is here and remote, nearby yet distant, pleasant and embarrassing at the same time. You cannot perceive him; you cannot conceive of him and yet he is before you, a reflection, perhaps a mirror, a mirage, a chimera, a monstrous apparition, or a vision of divinity.

The spiritual teacher, in reality, is a hole. This hole is an opening; the spiritual teacher is a hole into another world. He stands at the borderline of time and space with eternity. He beckons to you and, because you are ready, you can see him. The process of questioning and soul-searching has brought you to an empty receptivity. You are now available to hear the call. The Philozovo is the passionate response to the call of the divine, the abandonment of all you hold dear, even your very belief in yourself… and as you leave all this happily, unselfconsciously, you are not even thinking. You are already whole. The promise has been made flesh; the word has been made corporeal.

Traditionally and contemporarily there is no alternative to the spiritual teacher, the guide to shepherd you through the veils. Traditionally this has always been the case and it remains so. Difficult though this may be to the ego mind, it is a fact and one for which we should be grateful rather than resentful.

The complex, sophisticated, modern human relies on a little knowledge of profound topics, is absorbed in egoic processes, self-importance, and unsurpassed individuality. We are more complex and impenetrable than ever before. We are able to perform magic tricks and sleight of hand. We can think ourselves into situations, emotions, and reactions that would have astounded previous generations of humanity. Sexual, powerful, subliminal messages manipulate and dominate our consciousness, just as we in turn intimidate and manipulate through the appearance of power, strength, or vulnerability. We are truly victimized by our own deceit and delusion of control. The modern individual has fallen victim to his or her own manipulations and thought has subjugated us.

The Spiritual Teacher Is Yourself

The spiritual teacher is yourself or as it has traditionally been put he is the mirror in which you see yourself as you are, as you would like to be, human and divine, possibility and actuality, imperfections and perfections, relative and absolute, in all your great complexity. Nothing is spared you as you look into this mirror, particularly your ambivalence. Your self-importance reflexes with your lack of self-worth as your self-inflation reflects your self-perceived insignificance.

Inner work is the hope for humanity. If it becomes a universal pursuit, the value of self-knowledge will be understood to be without substitute. The work of inner ecology, balance, insight, and clarity will light the way to environmental, global, international, sociological, psychological and of course spiritual balance through tolerance, co-operation and peace.

Human beings are essentially spiritual in nature. Our mental, physical, emotional, energetic forms are given life by the spirit. We create, and inhabit our world through our consciousness. If our consciousness is based on survival and animalistic concerns, preservation of the species in its tribal appearances, on creature comforts and establishing family units, and finally in the satisfaction of our basic, unexamined, instinctual needs and desires, the world will persist in its present expression of base qualities, ignorance, and animalistic barbarism. War, perversions, violence, inhuman treatment of our fellow men, women and children, repression of natural base instincts, lack of insight and understanding, unconcern for the Earth, lack of skill in dealing with political issues, lack of tolerance, co-operation, and peaceful ways conducive to harmony, hate, anger and callousness prevail. Perhaps not in your neighborhood, but look around the world and you can see that for millions life is a pitiable ordeal without forgiveness, consideration, or love.

Sometimes it might seem as if we have been poured into a pit of hell or purgatory, just waiting in line for torture, suffering, and eventual slaughter. Why wait? The physical, mental, and biological suffering of millions in the Third World is reflected in the mental, psychological, and emotional suffering of millions in the First World. It is a comparable suffering of the inner person. Here is a posting recently placed on a chat room on the Internet entitled “Why does life suck, what to do, and does love even exist?”:

Why does life suck so bad? Every time I try something the world shits on me. I have friends but they’re in the same situation as me. We have conversations about how nothing good comes to us and how the world treats us like we’re garbage. Sometimes things seem to look up, but only for a moment, just enough to build up my hope and faith. Then the world shits on me again. I have a job but I hate even going to work. I get paid very little to get treated like crap all day. I have never had a girlfriend. When I meet someone I like, they like someone else. They don't want to be in a relationship with me or they just ignore and forget me. I don’t believe love exists. Is it real or is it just a bullshit charade that the world has invented to make people like me and my friends feel like rubbish? I have tried taking advice from people thousands of times, but it’s always the same advice and it never works. I am a Christian. I pray in both good times and bad. Things start to look up for a day or two, then it’s back down to the same bullshit. What the fuck do I do?

This man’s hell is surely partly of his own making, but arguably he is in tune with the present state of the world. His anger and resentment, frustration and derision come over loud and clear. In a hell of his and the world’s making he boils in the oil of hatred and probably daily he sinks lower into an abyss of despair.

We, who are moving closer to the light and who aspire to spiritual enlightenment, can marginalize this man and people like him, sidestep him for his ignorance and lack of understanding. But when we realize our oneness and our interconnectedness with all beings and with all of life, we see that healing—true healing—compels us to care, without prejudice. Jesus of Nazareth said. “Whatever you do unto the least of my brethren, you do unto me,” which is amplified in the common maxim: “The true test of a civilization is how well people treat the most vulnerable members of their society.” 

Does it surprise you at all if I say categorically that the most beneficial act you can offer to the most vulnerable is the powerful act of entering the crucible of awakening and burning within it?

For there is another place of travail, another hot spot for submerging yourself in fiery emotions and confronting yourself. But it is a positive one: the crucible of awakening is where the journey of self-discovery happens, where you cross over the threshold with awareness and change. It is the sphere of your own life lived with awareness, deep acceptance, and the enthusiasm to grow into wonder and devotion.


Richard Harvey is a psycho-spiritual psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and author. He is the founder of The Center for Human Awakening and has developed a form of depth-psychotherapy called Sacred Attention Therapy (SAT) that proposes a 3-stage model of human awakening. Richard can be reached at [email protected].

Blog entry #195

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