The Goddess of Apocalypse is appearing to us with two mirrors. In the dark mirror of her left hand, she is showing us exactly what will happen if we continue on our dark road of greed and pride. In the right hand she carries a mirror of brilliant golden light in which we can see our divinely inspired faces and the world transfigured by divine love and divine action. Which are we going to choose? We have been brought to the moment where we do have the power to annihilate the whole of nature if we go on pursuing greed and pride, or to begin a journey empowered by the energy of divine love so as to create the world in the golden mirror. This is a thrilling time and I am thrilled to be alive, participating in it. But I know that everything depends on our choice and on that choice being made very, very soon. We do not have much time.
MT: In The Direct Path, you break down the taboo of talking about our own personal and mortal death.
AH: There’s a great mystery behind death which you can only find if you acknowledge that you are dying. If you run from the fact that you are dying you will run into all kinds of false solutions, all kinds of fantasies to try and drug your mind against the fear of death. But if you embrace the fact that you are dying, you will discover in the end what Rumi discovered. He found, if you practice and if you love God deeply enough, that “all the roses are blooming in my skull.”
If you were not dying, if you were simply deathless and eternal, you would only be participating in one aspect of the Godhead; the transcendent aspect. But because you are both eternal in your soul and dying in your body, you participate in the full nature of the Godhead which is both transcendent and immanent. So death is not a disaster. Death is, in fact, the cup from which we drink the wine of eternal knowledge and ecstasy. And only by embracing death can we discover that each moment is sacred and unfolding in a divine, timeless bliss. Only through the embrace of death can you discover eternity. That’s the paradox at the heart of the search that every mystic discovers. But you also stumble across this deeper mystery, which is that death is the condition of the ecstasy that you experience here. If we were living forever, the preciousness of all of our relationships, the divinity of my love for my cat Purrball and my love for my husband wouldn’t be so acute and poignant and ravishing and important.
Remember what Rumi said, “Creation, destruction, I am dancing for them both.” And the “I am dancing for them both” is the soul that knows itself present as much in death as it is in life. What we call life and what we call death are only two aspects of one eternal reality, the smile of Shiva, and that is something that you come to know. And it frees you from fear.
MT: So, being freed from the fear of death also frees you from the fear of life, and the fear of risking what it takes to make a difference in the world.
AH: That’s exactly right. Of course it’s a progressive thing. You don’t free yourself from the fear of death immediately, but as you come to know the infinite love of God, and as you come to know that your soul is immortal, and as you come to taste the truth of what all the mystics have told us about eternal divine consciousness being at the core of everyone, then you start to grow a very strange and wonderful fearlessness. You can play in the great game of the Father/Mother for the transformation of the world fearlessly, because you know what Arjuna knows in the Gita; that he is eternal. You know that you cannot be destroyed, that whatever is sent against you is only sent against your physical or emotional being, not against your soul. It can’t destroy your soul because the soul is indestructible. And that gives you an astonishing capacity to get out there, to tell the truth, to try and become (as far as you can be) the truth, and to go on pressing, pressing, pressing against the forces of injustice and ignorance. In fact, it’s the source of that astounding courage that you see in Gandhi, in Martin Luther King, in the Dalai Lama. It’s the source of that sweet, deep certainty that gives beings like them, who guide us forward, the kind of courage that they needed, and that we need, to really embrace the difficulties ahead. It lets us know that we will be given the strengths we need, that whatever happens to us, it will be, finally, in the ultimate sense, all right because we are being held in the arms of the living God.
Andrew Harvey is an author and mystic born in India and currently living in the American Southwest. He will be coming to Oregon to teach later this year at Oregon House (October 6-8) and Breitenbush Hot Springs (October 13-15). His latest book, “The Direct Path,” was released in March, 2000.
Maria A. Todisco, Ph.D. is an educator, transpersonal psychologist and freelance writer.