The Center for Human Awakening
~ The Psycho-Spiritual Teachings of Richard Harvey ~
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Questions and Answers
Do you have a spiritual and / or psychological question? Would you like to share an experience and invite comments and feedback from the members of the Center’s community? Do you have an insight or words of wisdom to share? Q & A aims to provide a lively forum for the exchange and cross-fertilization of knowledge, wisdom, spiritual questions, psychological clarity, and personal and collective unfolding for the awakening of all souls. We encourage your participation and invite your wisdom.

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How do you tackle doubts after accepting your life purpose?

Lucia Nwabueze: Concerning what you said [about life purpose],* how do you tackle doubts after accepting your purpose. That is before the second stage when you become really sure. What if you stray from it because of the doubts and limitations?

Richard Harvey: The question seems to be principally addressing doubt and limitation with regard to life purpose in the first stage of awakening. The first stage of awakening is and should always be understood as being full of doubt and limitation also a complete absence of balanced, wise choice since all decision-making in the first stage is predicated on early life conditioning. Therefore what should we do with doubt, indecision, limitation, and so on? Learn from it, see it for what it is, don’t try to tackle it and manipulate yourself to see its brighter side or compromise your deeper truth or knowledge of your innate purpose or calling. Rather put all your effort into releasing yourself from the prison of the first stage of awakening. In the freedom of the second stage your relationship to purpose is reversed and you may allow with certainty and confidence your purpose to find you. Unhampered by thought and assumptions, egoistic desires and the need for individual accomplishment, life purpose comes to you as naturally as breathing and movement. You are here to be and from that inner sense of being the inner and outer sense of purpose manifests as naturally and as surely as you trust your life.

*See Richard Harvey’s YouTube presentation Life Purpose


Are enlightenment and self-realization the same thing?

Cathy KnightAre enlightenment and self-realization the same thing? You use both terms in your teachings; is this a case of semantics, or of subtle differences? I'm probably being pedantic but would appreciate your thoughts. My own are jumbled and saying it's all words, mind inquiries etc. Maybe it's all to do with the East versus the West. I hope anyway that it's a reasonable question which others may also be asking. 

Richard HarveyEnlightenment is the ultimate true condition of all things and All Consciousness. Everything is Light. Everything is Light and expresses itself as Truth, Love, Peace, Tranquility, Acceptance, Compassion, and Awareness. This is because the very matrix of Consciousness, in which all separate arising forms appear, exist for a while, and die, is unified, total, and complete.

Self-realization is similar and in some ways the same since within the enlightened state there is no separation and division. However, Self-realization considers enlightenment from the point of view of the individual self or conditioned adaptive form of the human being. Conditioned because subject to the conditions of space and time; and adaptive because, while all forms arising in the matrix of Consciousness potentially or actually exhibit pure Consciousness or perfect enlightenment, they are destined to present and fulfill themselves in their true nature or the nature appropriate to their given form. Thus a stone participates in stone nature and appears to be different to a tree and so on while at the same time a stone is no different from a tree in essence since the essence of everything and all is Consciousness.

Thus the individual self has the promise, through the realization of potential, capacity, and destiny, of realizing the Truth that is the Self andso entering into the stream of enlightenment, the realized condition of true Understanding, the timelessness of enlightenment, of Reality itself.


What is emptiness? Should it be fulfilled?

Agnès Bussière: I have been through symbolic death. I am aware of my role playing and defenses. I feel closer to my true nature. For a few weeks now, I feel an emptiness. Sometimes, because of this emptiness, I am looking for the fear, the sadness or the anger I used to feel. But I do not feel them anymore. I know when and why they came to see me in the past, but I do not feel them. Only love, compassion and devotion remain. What is this emptiness? What should I do with it? Should this space be fulfilled?

Richard Harvey: The emptiness you speak of is the very goal of spirituality. You have arrived at a most blessed place in your journey. As you occupy and deepen into this emptiness you will discover a fullness, the most complete emptiness. This emptiness is the matrix of existence and while it appears as emptiness or the void it is simultaneously the most magnificent fullness. This is the experience of the mystic: to discover that within, at the heart of total emptiness, there is a great fullness. You cannot have one without the other. Any more than you could have love without hate, dark without light, or day without night. You say, What is this emptiness? This emptiness is All, the totality. Gently and sensitively occupy the void. Do not be put off or discouraged. Simply sit in and with the emptiness. You have had the experience of filling this sacred space with drama, the drama and excitement of living. Fear, sadness, and anger have passed now… and there is only emptiness and because of your associations with emptiness, you may experience resistance or aversion. The associations are that nothing is there or no one is there, nihilism, barrenness, or depression. Whatever associations arise for you do not fear them, simply breathe and let them go through you. You must withstand these apparitions of delusion in order to stabilize in this inner fullness. Persist and doors will open. As you rightly say, then only love, compassion, and devotion remain. You ask, Should this space be fulfilled? Yes, let this space be fulfilled. Do not fill it… let it be fulfilled.

Agnès Bussière: What could help to go deep in this emptiness?

Richard Harvey: See and practice the Meditations on our YouTube channel (scroll down to the Playlist titled "Meditations and Satsangs"). Sit still and let love, compassion, and devotion be present without thought. Deepen into the emptiness, go through fear and limitations of any kind... there is nothing you have to do for love and devotion to be there because they are the natural state.


What are the Center's teachings regarding past lives?

Lakshmi Sandeep: Kind of eager to know about your stand on Past Life. Could you please share the same?

Richard Harvey: I meet people where they are dear Lakshmi. If a person believes in past lives, it's fine. Broadly in spiritual teachings there are exoteric and esoteric teachings. The exoteric teachings are concerned with morality, behavior, and social interactions. The esoteric teachings are concerned with Eternal Truth. From the perspective of the exoteric, past lives have some credence because there is a central belief in individual, separate existence. From the perspective of the esoteric, past lives have no meaning because everything is Consciousness.


What are we letting go of?

Justin Kwan: To be clear, when we speak of letting go of everything, we are talking about attachments (to emotions), not the emotions themselves. Is that correct? Otherwise we wouldn't be able to feel the emotions humans are supposed to feel. When I think about letting go to the attachment of an emotion such as fear, completely letting go of the attachment seems to mean feeling fear at the appropriate times, not living a life full of fear. Is that right? What about happiness? It sounds a bit more difficult to discern when it is appropriate to feel happy. Shouldn't it be appropriate to feel happy anytime? How does the idea that letting go of everything, not being in the realm of sad or happy relate to this? Are these two different stages - with feeling emotions at the appropriate time relating to letting go of the psyche's dependence on the primary relationships while transcending sad / happy is a different stage of transcendence?

Richard Harvey: We live in unnatural times Justin. Our behavior, our thoughts, our feelings, and our responses are all automatic, based on past experience and limited by fear, desire, and self-identity. Consider very young children. Even in these unnatural times it is possible to perceive their natural responses of emotions that are authentic, spontaneous, and uninhibited. We look to very early childhood for a pointer to how we can release ourselves from the damage of early life conditions and indoctrination in later life. Human beings need to belong, to fit in, and in contemporary society we feel compelled to adopt a level of low-functioning emotionality, really a semi-depressed state, and to consider this the norm. This way we may be acceptable to others and appropriately negative and predisposed toward criticism, feeling long-suffering and carrying some background resentment. If this seems a bit extreme or harsh, ask yourself how many people you know who feel happy, satisfied with their lives, and blessed to be human beings. How many of these people express this positivity unreservedly in their lives or infect others with their positivity and depth of emotion? I doubt you know many… or any.

Inner work and psychotherapy or counseling takes us into the realms of self-honesty where we confront these fundamental issues of the human situation. Letting go is, as you say, releasing attachment… to emotions, but not to emotionality. However you must bear in mind that conditioned, automatic emotions are not authentic. We only feel as much as is safe to feel and that line is drawn at the point we conformed and, in order to fit in, accepted that genuine emotions were unacceptable and not allowed. In order to please our primary carers we learnt to feel only as much as they were able and willing to receive, Childhood is all about reflection and what is reflected back to us is what we become.

Once this process of inculcation, conditioning, and conforming is completed it is highly questionable to speak, as you do, of “the emotions humans are supposed to feel,” or “feeling fear at the appropriate times.” Conformity and conditioning are so strong that people have used their innate power to create a world which reinforces and conforms to their psycho-physical defenses. The world most people by far inhabit is a world of their own creation that justifies their inhibitions and survival strategies. There is only one thing to do and that is to apply yourself to inner work until you have penetrated and understood deeply the origins and evolution in expression and experience of your early life narrative. When you have thoroughly performed this task it may be possible with a competent, skilled therapist to disrupt your continuity with past experience and enter into a new phase of naturalness and spontaneity in your life (in Sacred Attention Therapy we call this the second stage of awakening). In this new existence, emotions take on a freshness and a vividness which you never experienced before. In fact they merely become natural, not reactive, not conditioned, not inhibited, not limited, not inauthentic… but merely natural, genuine and real.


What does it mean to you to be yourself?

Bozena Sawa: As early as millennia ago the Greatest Minds emphasized the most important thing for MAN to achieve is TO BE HIMSELF. Q: What does it mean to you TO BE YOURSELF? Do YOU believe it is important? Why? Why not? Q: Are you yourself? How does it manifest itself if you are ? (or aren't) Is it important to you to be? My own answers cannot be disclosed now because it would be unfair to the future readers of the 2nd volume of my book series "Life Wisdom" which I am working on (to be entitled "Be Yourself"). The 1st volume largely about the people who are not themselves (look at the cover) has just been published. Best regards, Bozena Sawa

Richard Harvey: Dear Bozena, before you can be yourself you have to know yourself and before you know yourself you have to know who you are being. We live in complex times and the true nature of human beings is hidden from many, if not most, people. However, human beings are distinguished by their inherent ability to self-reflect. Inevitably self reflection leads to exploration of the psyche or that sense of “I” which we have developed over our early life conditioning. In order to know yourself then you must, first, enter into a process of deconstruction of your false self, which is a product of your conditioning. Once the false self is adequately understood, honestly confronted (primarily in yourself), and psychologically released, it may be possible with great courage to live according to your true nature, i.e. to be yourself. This experience leads some to a further challenge, which is to transcend the human condition through profound soulful practice and discipline in order to live in the world as an essentially spiritual being, mediating between time and eternity. Essentially you must die to this life to become who you truly are. This then is the condition of truly being yourself and it involves fulfilling your potential and capacity and living your divine destiny with awareness. The individual self is not the real self, rather it is a vehicle for the being-ness of the soul and the spirit. Once your attachments to self-identification, separation, and division are released you may realize your True Self. Thank you for your question.


Life as an opportunity to let go of identity

Trinity J Jordan: I worked with you, and a real sense of connection to life was the foundation; as 'I' see life as a opportunity to let go of identity, how is the world doing based on your travels?

Richard Harvey: This is a very insightful question and I appreciate it, thank you Trinity. Yes, our work together was really based on a life connection. And, yes, life is an opportunity to shed identity. In order to shed identity most of us have to work through our holdings and attachments to the past. Our early life conditioning adheres us to the “I”-sense we created in childhood and developed through adolescence and “adulthood.” Personal therapy can heal the scars of the past and open up a new vista, a fresh life of heart-opening, authenticity, and compassion which in Sacred Attention Therapy we call the second stage of awakening. The central challenge and activity of the second stage is to shed attachment to the childhood ego as we have developed it. It amounts to self-identification or a sense of ourselves as an agent of a life led separate and divided from all other arising forms. Yet in Consciousness we are One – really no different from one another or from anything else. Although in appearance we are individual and unique, our essence is the same. This was beautifully expressed by Anandamayi ma when she met Yogananda who she called Father:

“Father, there is little to tell.” She spread her graceful hands in a deprecatory gesture. “My consciousness has never associated itself with this temporary body. Before I came on this earth, Father, ‘I was the same.’ As a little girl, ‘I was the same.’ I grew into womanhood, but still ‘I was the same.’ When the family in which I had been born made arrangements to have this body married, ‘I was the same… And, Father, in front of you now, ‘I am the same.’ Ever afterward, though the dance of creation change[s] around me in the hall of eternity, ‘I shall be the same.'” – Paramahansa Yogananda quoting Anandamayi Ma, Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 45.

My travels spanned various European countries and I was fortunate to encounter some marvelous human beings. But then people attracted to psycho-spiritual practices tend to be unusual. Even more rare are those who commit to a path or a way and, rarer still, see it through to its culmination in higher states of consciousness. My experience of such commitment was naturally mixed. While I would love to see more people engaged in spiritual life with earnestness and dedication, I nonetheless remain optimistic for our world. As more of us embrace the opportunity to shed identity, through transcending separateness and division, cooperation and tolerance may grow to usher in a time of peace and compassion in a world where the authentic sacred-spiritual life becomes the central essential condition of humanity and existence.

Thank you for your question.