Mother Meera - Andrew Harvey

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The shadow side of passion - on Andrew Harveys new book 'The sun at midnight'

by Michael Zarte

Showman Andrew Harvey with messianic gesture
Showman Harvey in messianic pose

The full moon shone very brightly the other night. The moon is, as we know, the reflected light of the sun. The sun does not shine during the night. The moon's light is only a secondary light. If the self-effulgent sun represents the pure Self, the God nature within man, the moon represents the mind, the reflection of pure consciousness through the individual ego, and thus the Godhead steps into duality, which is black and white, where every light has a shadow, with its basic conflict between good and evil. Andrew Harvey, in his new book 'Sun at Midnight', feels drawn to such a black and white version of reality. In his eyes Mother Meera, once Goddess and saviour to him, has transmuted into the incarnation of evil itself. Mother Meera attributes this to the dualistic feature of love in the human sphere, saying that where there is love, there is also hate. Similarly world-renowned spiritual author Ken Wilber feels that Harvey's love & hate are characteristic of the 'romantic lover', who vacillates between the idealisation of the lost love and its condemnation: "As a Romantic, Andrew is bound to alternate between idealizing and loathing the lost lover, so he has gone through his love-Mother-Meera, hate-Mother-Meera phase, but is now, it seems, quite happily married to Eryk, from whom, he says, he has learned more ..".from One Taste by KEN WILBER, page 21. (This was obviously long before 'Sun at Midnight' came out, since Harvey never got over the whole story, as Wilber seems to indicate.) While this is comprehensible psychologically, I would still like to respond to some of the more direct accusations of Harvey about Mother Meera, as I think they are wrong and misleading. I would also like to provide some more background information, which I think helps to evaluate the situation. Please forgive me some sarcastic or ironic remarks along the way; they are more a way of illustration than a condemnation of Harvey. For this reason I have also included some excerpts of critical book reviews from people not associated with Mother Meera at all, such as that of Lolita Lark. I know Harvey personally, and I have spoken about the issue with many people who have been close to him, including his former manager John Raatz, many people around Mother Meera, who appear in his book 'Hidden Journey' and finally with Mother Meera herself.

Paranoid Accusations and the Question of Homophobia

To be very honest, some of what Andrew Harvey writes simply sounds paranoid. To accuse his former mentor Mother Meera of black magic, of death-threats, or even of bombing his apartment is no small claim, and he doesn't provide evidence to back up these claims. If he really thinks this was true, why didn't he go to the police, and sue her? It is hard to track down the origins of these claims, and there is clearly no evidence. Who knows, maybe there really was an explosion in his apartment one day, a gas explosion or whatever, and in his fury he attributed it to Mother Meera. He claims that she uses black magic on the 'basis' of a Bulgarian clairvoyant telling him so! About the 'hate-calls' or 'death threats' - it maybe a similar exaggeration on his part. He himself phoned a lot of his old friends he had first brought to Mother Meera, challenging them to choose between him and her. No wonder there was some heated debate. If somebody really did threaten his life it is unknown to me, there is no similar claim, no similar case around Mother. If this really happened, then somebody completely lost his com-posture, and it was not at all in the spirit of Mother Meera.

In the light of all these attacks on Mother Meera, it is good to re-examine all his former claims about her alleged homophobia. There is reason for doubt here too.

A close friend of Andrew told me, that Andrew told him about 6 (!) different versions of what was said in this final conversation he had with Mother Meera in December 1993, before he settled on the final one. It seems that he had to embellish the story to make it more convincing.

All the people, who knew Andrew a little better, like his ex-partner and lover, who also wrote very positively about Mother Meera in his own biography, tell me that Andrew lies frequently. He makes up things, in order to be more convincing. Even 'Hidden Journey' isn't accurate but employs a lot of literary 'freedom', of course always to Andrew's advantage. (His ordinary dreams become visions, and voices and intuitions he has he freely attributes to Mother Meera.)

When Andrew left Mother Meera, he phoned all his friends, and pressed them to leave her. He urged them to choose between Mother and himself. In one case, at least, he even threatened the other person with "karmic revenge and total spiritual and financial ruin". So much for cultic behavior! However, most of his friends, also homosexuals, stayed with Mother Meera.

Although Andrew had already been living together with his partner Eryk Hanut for at least 3 years, and had sat next to him at Darshan whenever they visited, he claimed that he had just freshly fallen in love with him, when they came for what turned out to be the last visit in December 1993. If Mother was against this relationship, why hadn't she told him before then, as they had been visiting together all this time? Andrew had also introduced his former partner (the one who says he is lying and who wrote a book about his experiences with Mother) to her.

Mark Matousek, author of "Sex Death Enlightenment" who has visited Mother Meera with Andrew Harvey, says the accusation of homophobia is unjustified: "I do know that the idea that she's homophobic is completely ridiculous. For God's sake, we were served breakfast in bed together in her house." (Quoted from an Interview with Cliff Bostock published in Creative Loafing, Atlanta)

Andrew is also silent about another fact: that he had some kind of a problem in his relationship with Eryk. At least this is what he told to my friend Daniel (who appears in "Hidden Journey" under a different name). This in fact is the reason why he approached Mother for this last interview.

A writers embellishments: How a myth is created

The question now is: Why does Andrew lie, when he loved Mother Meera so much before? What was really said at this last meeting in December 1993, and is Mother Meera really homophobic, as Andrew claims?

Mother Meera is not homophobic. If she were she could simply say so, couldn't she? She could have told Andrew long before, and she could tell everybody now. Yet, she says if two people love each other with all their hearts, it is all right before God. But, she did not want to be an icon of homosexuality. Andrew started to present Mother as the 'Avatar of homosexuals' in his talks. Mother didn't want to be that. Andrew started to gravely misrepresent Mothers message and she wanted him to stop doing so. When Andrew asked Mother to make his relationship official by a marriage, she said no. This does not mean, that she condemns homosexuals. It just means that she did not give her blessings to Andrew making his relationship official, as he was a kind of a representative. (he was no 'master disciple'. There are no master disciples). Her refusal must be seen in this context. Mother Meera is there for everybody and not any one group in particular. At that time people had phoned here to ask if they still can visit Mother even though they were not homosexuals!

Did Mother Meera ask Andrew to marry a woman (and which woman anyway)? No. This is another of Andrew's embellishments in order to make his whole story sound more plausible. Mother also never asked Andrew to write any book at all, even his first book 'Hidden Journey'. Mother never went for publicity, she never asked anybody to write a book about her. Harvey's first book about her wasn't written at her request, nor did she ever want him to proselytize in her name. She is also not into traveling or other ways of making herself known. Mother Meera is an extremely practical person. If she wanted Andrew to marry a woman, then whom did she want him to marry? If there was no candidate, how could he marry and write about it?

Andrew parted from her after he had just set up a whole lecture tour through US for himself, and he had also wanted to present Mother within that context. As Mother denied him her blessings for his marriage (a denial is not a condemnation!) he got very upset and left her. He now had to think up a story line which he could present to people, without it sounding just like a hurt ego. He had to explain himself to people. So he kept changing the original story gradually, so that it wouldn't sound trivial. Please don't forget Andrew is a writer. The lines in his book look invented to me: Adilakshmi alledgedly reported to him,

"The Mother has just said to me, 'Tell Andrew that he has a choice. He can either become celibate or he can get married.'"
"Mother prefers that you get married. When you are married, Mother wants you to write a book about how her force transformed you into a normal person, into a heterosexual. Mother says that single-sex love --- man-man or woman-woman --- is not good, not healthy, not wise, not in the spiritual way at all, not healthy."

The way he uses an imitated 'Indian style' English, in short abbreviations, is not typical of neither Mother Meera nor Adilakshmi. I very well remember how Andrew made jokes with us using Indian English, inventing sayings of Gurus. This sounds just like it.

Andrew, while stealing Mother's basic message, that you can approach God directly, actually turns it against her, accusing her of manipulation, black magic etc. Mother has never said that you should adore her, but that you should adore God, and she can help you if you want it. But she never has left any doubts that a direct relationship is to be preferred, if you are capable of it. Andrew, while being with Mother, always emphasized that she is not a guru. Now he does claim her to be a Guru and his parting with Mother Meera is styled as 'a break with the Guru system.' Either Andrew was lying then, or he is lying now.

Mother Meera: No Revenge

It is quite amazing to see that Mother has never had any feelings of revenge toward Andrew. When asked, she always said, that where there is love, there is also anger and disappointment, at least in the human sphere. About one year before publishing his latest book 'Sun at Midnight', Mother Meera told me that she is basically alright with Andrew, and that despite his being against her, he has his own connection to God. She said this in a very tolerant and loving way. She excused his fury by saying that where there is love there is also the opposite, that human love is never completely pure. This she said to me. If she had thought that his homosexuality was a major sin, how could she say that he is connected to God, as this would be then an obstruction to God, if it were a sin? Yet she didn't seem to think so, nor does she think that she has to prevent homosexuality, or warn homosexuals against possible dangers. She said in her book 'Answers I' that sexuality and enlightenment are unrelated. She said 'Sex is sex', obviously not discriminating between different kinds of sex, pointing to the fact that the basic sexual impulse is independent of its specific expression. When I asked Adilakshmi, Mother Meera's longterm secretary, if she considers homosexuality to be a sin, she said clearly 'No'.

Because Mother Meera made no public attempts to defend herself, many people who otherwise are very capable of judging his output and his self-aggrandizements, still at least partly buy into his story line. Yet Mother Meera feels that people can judge for themselves. Another question comes into my mind here: How could Mother Meera possibly cause all this havoc of death-threats, bombings etc., when in actual fact she doesn't even seem to care about defending herself publicly? Her lack of self-defense should not be interpreted as an admission of guilt though. When asked, she said that she has nothing against homosexuals, she has even invited homosexuals to stay in her house. Mother Meera said that she didn't want to be used publicly as an icon of homosexuality.

Critical reviews of the public

In this context the commentary in the Washington Post comes to mind, which quite rightly calls Andrew's book an "overwrought soap-opera". If someone is washing dirty laundry in public after so many years, doing his little revenge thing, not just to Mother Meera, but to all the people associated with her, he probably needs to (mis-)use her name in order to sell his books better. Lolita Lark, a literature critic, comes to a devastating conclusion about the book, surely not because she is homophobic:

"We have here someone who is convinced of the sanctity of his agony. The sub-title alone equates Harvey's holy to the martyred sufferings of holy figures out of Christian history: St. Peter, St. John the Divine, the multitudes of visionaries, and, dare we say, the Great Martyr Himself, practically yanked down from the cross to attest to the depth of Harvey's woe"
and:
"The English language offers a writer a thousand subtle ways to tell a story. Harvey resolutely avails himself of but two of them: shouting and sobbing. In his fury and despair, gentle artistry, irony, understatement, poetics all go out the window. The chance to build a potent case is subverted by rants. What he has to say is either bathed in a white-hot rage or sunk in a deep blue funk. This is a man troubled by losing his guru, but he is also a man troubled by inchoate writing. He wails and moans to such a point that this reader was tempted to dump the whole mess in the office shredder..
She comes to this conclusion:
"Readers interested in Mother Meera and the various gossipy dealings of her tiny world might be swept up by this one, but anyone who has a serious interest in Eastern religions would do well to bail out far earlier than I did. We all have problems, but there are some in the world who are convinced that their problems are more wonderful than those of the rest of us. Such people are not only tedious, they are dangerous. Stay out of their bathtubs --- else they'll drown you in tears if not in sperm."
Source: Lolita Lark at Ralph Mags website

I would like to congratulate the critic for this view. Just one small correction: the book is also not interesting to those interested in Mother Meera and, yes, the small world around her. The way he aggrandizes himself and his various moods is just the way he embellishes and fabricates his story around Mother Meera. It is not a story of truth, but one of exaggeration and invention. I fear that Andrew not only instrumentalized Mother Meera for the homosexual cause, but instrumentalized the homosexual cause itself for his own self-aggrandizement, for his own victimization and for styling himself in a messianic role. He actually does a disservice to the homosexual cause by unashamedly lying, and by spreading a mystic fog about his own mission.

Andrew never again contacted Mother to talk things over. Instead he wrote at least two more books about her, and started to present himself as a kind of anti-guru guru in the style of Krishnamurti. Andrew allegedly said that he wanted to totally stop Americans from seeing Mother, like he once tried to stop all his friends from seeing her. I am sure that he will say anything to succeed. But, fortunately, not everybody is taking him seriously.

For a spiritual practitioner, you woud think, that he should stop being occupied with the past and live in the present. You would think that the more enlightened he is, the more he will have transcended all memories of past hurt and pain. (especially if this pain was not really inflicted on him). I also don't understand how people could speak of abuse here, simply because a blessing was denied. Do people really know what abuse means? There have been enough sad cases of abuse in this field, but very obviously not in the case of Mother Meera. Here is an attempt by the followers of Andrew Harvey to actually misuse those sad instances of real abuse, in order to throw more mud on Mother Meera by including her in the same group.

The Sexualization of Spirituality

I also strongly disagree with the way in which Andrew equates sex with God. I agree that as God is in everything, he is also in sex, and s/he can also be experienced temporarily through sex, but there must be some space in life which goes beyond sex. I'd like to remind Andrew that some of his most admired saints like the Dalai Lama or Bede Griffiths had been monks (not to speak of Ramakrishna or Sri Aurobindo). Even Osho Rajneesh, who taught Tantra, makes clear that sex can, at best, only offer a temporary window into Godhead, and that it has to be transcended ultimately. Tantra itself, is the only eastern spiritual discipline that uses sex, but only in a very restricted manner, within a framework of religious ceremonies, under the close supervision of a spiritual preceptor. The main idea of Tantra is the transformation of the sexual force, and the use of it for the awakening of the spiritual power within man. Both Yoga and Tantra are very aware of the energy aspect and its conservation. Mother Meera has never denied sexuality or advocated its repression. But she has always advised her devotees to use moderation in sex. While repression of one's sexuality can be dangerous, excessiveness is surely contra-productive to one's spiritual progress. To equate sex with God is surely a mistake. At the same time it is intolerant to the monk's way of life, which sublimates sexual energy just like the tantric does. So, considering any relationship, a master will surely look how much it is determined by sexuality, and how much this sexuality is in the forefront of one's awareness. This is the same for homosexuals or heterosexuals, and I am aware of heterosexual relationships which Mother Meera did not support because they were predominantly sexual in nature (which doesn't mean that real love wasn't involved!).

Besides the Divine Mother, Andrew's other great passion is Rumi. In the same way as Andrew used Mother for his basically sexual cause, he also tries to do this with Rumi, declaring his relationship with his master to be a homo-erotic one, and giving Rumi's poems a predominantly erotic twist.This is what Rumi expert Ibrahim Gamard has to say on this topic:

"I'm posting this in response to recent discussions in the 'Ruminations' mailing list about Andrew Harvey's versions of Rumi and how much of what he produces is as much his own messages as it is of Rumi's. I agree with this.
For all the praises on the book jackets about what a brillian scholar Harvey became, at such a young age, etc., I find his work on Rumi extremely sloppy, and very distorted by his Hinduizations-- as well as by his homosexual biases.
He does not directly claim in his books that Rumi's relationship with Shams was a homosexual one, but he seems to suggest it in his versions of Rumi's poetry in his various books (which more recently refer to Harvey's "husband"). A friend of mine, who is a local leader of the Mevlevi sufis, wrote: "In San Francisco, for example, Andrew Harvey frequently holds well publicized and attended lectures premising that Mevlana and Shems-i-Tabriz (may God be pleased with them both, and exalt their stations!) were (May Allah forgive me for repeating it!) homosexual lovers..." There is no evidence whatsoever that this extraordinary relationship with his spiritual master was a homosexual one. To believe otherwise is a misunderstanding and lack of knowledge of the traditional symbolism of "lover and beloved" in the Islamic Persian culture of Rumi's era."


Sources: Ibrahim Gamard, Usenet posting 1 and posting 2. See also on the same author's website Rumi & Shams and his posting in Ruminations, a yahoo group.

I also object to Andrew equating sex with the earth. Sex is part of our earthly existence, but its not the totality of earth, because you could very well be involved in sex and not have your feet on the ground. I know Andrew personally as one of the most impractical people I have ever met. This is not to denounce him! I just refuse to be told anything about the integration of earth by him. You know something about the earth when you have to deal with all the tiny stubborn problems of daily life, like any hardworking individual.would know. Knowing him then, and looking at his photo now, I can see that Andrew is totally in his head. On the other hand, Mother Meera is one of the most practical people I have ever met. To say she is not in contact with the earth is as absurd as an airy person such as Andrew claiming he is. Sri Aurobindo, the sage who is most outspoken about this divinization matter, for example, thinks that sexuality has to be transcended before this can happen. I get the impression that Andrew lives in a world of his own making which consists largely of symbolic representations, and simplified equations, like: love=god, sex =love, sex=earth, sex=love=god on earth. You could add to this list of representations, but the main thing is, he lives in those symbols and cycles that he constructs, and in story-lines he writes. In this context Mother becomes the dark, the ultimate evil, even though he claims to be in union with all consciousness, and with every viewpoint. This is total hypocrisy!

You may also ask, why did Andrew wait so long for this moment of reckoning? Because he had announced this book long before. It is precisely because he had to spin this net, invent his storyline and his symbols and recast and reinterpret everything he had written in 'Hidden Journey', without admitting all his embellishments. He is a master of words, no doubt, but words can be lies.

Manipulative Language

This excerpt from the Book 'Sun at Midnight' shows that Harvey employs language in a highly manipulative and almost demagogic way:

Andrew Harvey
Loves drama and robes:
Andrew Harvey
"After a week of agonized questioning, Eryk and I fled Germany to go to Belgium and dedicate our love and future to the Virgin Mary."

"Eryk and I left Talheim early Sunday morning before anyone was awake, in a dark and blinding snow storm that grew more and more furious as we drove on into it, as if whipped up by some hidden Force that wanted at all costs to keep us in its power. "If we can leave Germany, if we can only leave Germany" Eryk kept saying "we will be safe." Time and time again, whirling snow would so whiten the front window of our rental car that we could hardly see anything, only the dimmest imaginable blur of lights from the cars in front of us. Yet, we drove on, even when the road became almost unnegotiably treacherous, and the car started to skid and sway or tremble in the hissing storm wind as if it were made of balsa wood.

At the Belgian border, as if by Divine magic, the snowstorm suddenly stopped and a pale winter sun came out and lit up the lush green hills of the Ardennes.

And with the sun, a great curtain of sane calm seemed to descend on everything."

He feels that everything in nature is only a reflection his own agenda. Incidentally, this Belgium to which he fled and in which he felt so safe is also the home of pedophile and child-abuser Dutroux. I wonder why he didn't feel him in the atmosphere.

Conclusion

I do not object to Andrew Harvey having left Mother Meera. May everybody decide for himself where he is most happy. If Harvey thinks that a more direct and unmediated connection to one's Divinity is preferable, so much the better. Some of my friends have suggested that this might have been the reason for Mother Meera saying those sentences, which she allegedly - according to Andrew Harvey's version - said to him: to help him to go beyond the personal form, which is obviously limited. I personally appreciate this as a valid view, even though I disagree that Mother Meera manipulated the events for that reason. Besides that, Harvey is still deeply committed to finding God in the personal form, but he simply projects it now on his partner Eryk. My own view I have stated above: Mother Meera's refusal to be the 'Avatar of the homosexuals', and quite possibly, her rejection of a predominantly sexual relationship, (which is equally applicable to heterosexual relationships, especially in a spiritual context. One has to remember, that whatever was talked about was specific and personal to Andrew Harvey, and wasn't meant to apply to anybody else.) Obviously this posed a challenge to Andrew Harvey which was too much for him to take. I do suggest that there is a core of truth in what he reports, that Mother Meera indeed refused to bless his marriage, but his claim that she asked him to marry a woman and write a book about, it is simply an embellishment to make his story sound more plausible.

No judgement in the enlightened condition

There is also a big misunderstanding about the enlightened condition: Any enlightened person, and that includes also any Avatar, will not judge a person. The enlightened condition is defined by a person having transcended the identification with one's relative personality, and that includes transcending the sense of personal doership within any person. Mother Meera has repeatetly pointed out to me that she doesn't judge people. She in fact sees all people as the same. It is a very frequent mistake on the side of the devotee to interpret her actions in a personal way, seeing it as a personal judgment and the like. This is simply because we are conditioned to judge and be judged. We long to be loved by our parents, and therefore act 'good', so that we may be judged well, and be rewarded. If we are not 'rewarded' (or whatever we consider to be so), we feel judged negatively, and we may react by either 'improving' our action, or we revolt, and may reject a person all together, just like Andrew Harvey did. In the end there is no ultimate 'good' or 'bad' action. Each action only relates to a specific social context in which it happens, and therefore the reaction of any enlightened one also only relates to this specific social context at the given time, and to the psychological condition of the individual concerned. There is no ultimate evil or good. You can see this when you meet Mother Meera: there is no trace of condemnation, no trace of judgement in her.

No path is the direct path

Andrew Harvey proclaims proudly that people should follow the direct path. According to him this would involve a rejection of the Guru System. In my opinion there is no direct path. In the non-dual view of Advaita Vedanta we are already the God-essence, we have always been it, just we are not aware of it at the moment. Therefore, according to Vedanta there is no path at all. We could speak of a pathless path, but a direct path would still involve duality, between the Self (God within) and self (ego-mind). It also seems that what Harvey understands as direct, is primarily communication to non-physical beings, like the Virgin Mary or Jesus or probably any Avatar or messenger of God. If you think about it, you clearly see a logical fallacy in this view. Why would a contact be more direct, if the person is not-incarnate, than when s/he is actually in the body? Jesus and Mary were all living beings in a human body at the time. According Harvey's logic, to contact them now would be more direct, than when contacting them when they were actually in the body. Do you see the mistake he is making?

Harvey's direct path is the phenomenon of channeling

And moreover, how can you ever be really sure when you 'contact' somebody this way, that you really got the right address. Let's say you hear a voice claiming to be Jesus or Mary, how would you know it is really so? Well, you could say you feel it, and it remains a matter of belief, but it is clear that there is no certainity in it. For example, you could hear a true voice, but when you would hear that voice again on the next day, you could not even be sure that it is the same. It is clear that any such process involves great maturity and discrimination on the side of the devotee. The chances of a pitfall are much greater than when you relate to an incarnate being. At least there you know that you are talking with the same person, while if you talk with a spirit being, you may talk with changing entities, or you may even project everything from your own mind, or twist and bend everything to your own mind's satisfaction. Therefore Harvey's call for a more direct relationship is just semantically misleading.

To a great extent Harvey's difficulty with Mother Meera is due to this confusion about 'channeling'. He imagined the voice that he heard to be Mother's, but he found out that it wasn't, at least not at all times. Now he blames Mother Meera, but not the voice. How would Andrew know, that the voices he hears of Mary or Jesus, who are 2000 years dead, are true? How could he be sure of their approval, if he would actually meet them in the body? It is obviously much more comfortable to adore someone who cannot contradict you, because your mind can always manipulate any message given the way it wants to. Further, the notion of a direct path as opposed to an indirect path, has connotations of being the only true path, or the perfect path, and therefore has an undertone of intolerance in it. Link this with his attempt to make all his friends choose between himself and Mother Meera.

If you really care about it, I would advice you to form your own judgment. If you visit Mother Meera, you will see and experience her silence, the peace and radiance that is transmitted without words, her utter lack of any attempt of manipulation. If you read Andrew Harvey's latest book you will get a completely wrong image of Mother Meera, which will not be verified when you actually see her. She is the sweetest person you could ever imagine. This is my experience and the experience of many others who came here. Or you can see Andrew, who impresses by words, sweet and sour. There is no doubt that Andrew has a great ability to talk about and describe love. No doubt, this can be helpful and inspiring. But does that mean, that he cannot possibly lie? Or also have his shadow sides, e.g. hysteria? It would be naive to think so. Everybody can decide for himself.


Author's Note: This article reflects only my opinions, unless otherwise quoted. I am not Mother Meera's spokesman, but speak only for myself. - Michael Zarte
Photo credit: www.oasistv.com


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