This paperback by Andrew Harvey and Mark Matousek offers a thought-provoking and soulful examination of the mystic renaissance and the return of the Sacred Feminine in western spiritual circles. Journalist Mark Matousek spent two weeks in dialogue with Englishman, scholar, educator, writer, and poet Andrew Harvey. They modeled their discussion on the Sufi tradition known as "sohbet" or spiritual talk of friends. The result is a one-of-a-kind mystical education that includes in its sweep commentary on world religions, a critique of modern culture, a celebration of the spiritual wisdom of indigenous peoples, and much more.
Harvey defines a mystic as "someone who has direct cognition of God beyond thought or image." Although there is a mystic in all of us, contemporary culture has tried to combat the ideals of unity, wisdom, compassion, and grace with what Harvey calls "the concentration camp of reason." Other obstacles to the mystical path include the trivialization of serious issues and the relentless pursuit of distraction.
Despite all of this, individuals are re-discovering the breadth and depth of mystical resources within Christian, Islamic, Judaic, Buddhist, and Hindu religious traditions. Modern-day mystics, Harvey explains, see the world as "the theatre of divine grace." They are practicing spiritual disciplines, confronting mortality, and trying to shatter narcissism. Harvey is also convinced that mystics are heroic and active. He notes that "their creativity, stamina and altruistic action have been fueled by divine knowledge and energy."
A second phenomenon is the return of the Sacred Feminine. "The Sacred Feminine," according to Harvey, "is very hard to define because her essence is subtlety, flexibility and mystery and her essential work the radiant overcoming of the definitions of mind by love." The Divine Mother is making her presence felt in all religions where dogma, authority, and hierarchy have held sway under the umbrella of patriarchy. She is evident in the new emphasis upon the feminine powers of the psyche including intuition, patience, tenderness, and an appreciation for the unity and interdependence of all things. And finally, she is at the forefront of the widespread impulse to spiritualize work, relationships, and everyday tasks.
Both the mystic renaissance and the return of the Sacred Feminine emphasize the importance of cherishing and preserving the natural world a task which indigenous peoples have been practicing for centuries. Harvey also discusses their contributions. He proves to be the ideal scout for this territory and what still lies ahead. His affirmation of adoration for God, humility, laughter, and spiritual discipline is salutary. Dialogues with a Modern Mystic presents a vision of far-reaching consequences.