Hidden Journey: A Spiritual Awakening
by Andrew Harvey.
Henry Holt: New York, 1991,
253 pp., $22.50.

 

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Andrew Harvey, courtesy of Christine Cox.

Andrew Harvey has a gift for spiritual experiencea—an openness and attunement to the surprising manifestations of the Divine in the contemporary world—and also the rare ability to render it as “real” in his writing. Born and raised as a child of English parents in India, he was “put through the mindless rigors of private education in England” from age nine, won a scholarship to Oxford at nineteen, and became one of the youngest fellows of All Souls three years later. Despite his success in the academic and literary world (he soon began publishing fiction, poetry, and translations that have grown now to eighteen volumes including two memoirs), at age twenty-five he found himself suffering insomnia, nervous hysteria, and a pervasive sadness, and decided to flee “the concentration camp of reason” he found in the West to search for “the strange and bounding joy I always felt when I thought of India.”

Harvey first returned to India in 1977 and has become a kind of literary and spiritual commuter and communicator between India, England, Europe, and America, where he came on a fellowship to Cornell and returned again to teach at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in upstate New York. On one of his return trips to India in 1980, Harvey’s spiritual search led him to Ladakh, a part of old Tibet that is now India, to be with “one of the greatest Tibetan masters then living, Thuksey Rinpoche.” With that master as his guide, Harvey immersed himself in Tibetan Buddhism, an experience recounted in A Journey in Ladakh, a book that belongs in the same high rank as Christopher Isherwood’s classic My Guru and I.

We learn in his new book, Hidden Journey, that Harvey’s dramatic “spiritual awakening” began several years before he met the Rinpoche; that in fact he believes he was led to the Tibetan master through the guidance of an even more powerful guru who he made no mention of in A Journey in Ladakh because “she was still too profound a mystery to me to begin to speak of her. “

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