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The Essential Mystics: The Soul's Journey into Truth Hardcover – January 1, 1998


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Product Details

  • Series: Essential (Booksales)
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Castle Books (1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078580904X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0785809043
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,029,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Mystical experience, Andrew Harvey explains in his introduction to The Essential Mystics, is that "direct, unmediated experience of ... an almost unfathomable mystery," a mystery beyond name or form that draws the mystic toward its presence into a relationship of rapturous, awesome, ecstatic love. But this experience is not the exclusive domain of a few chosen beings; it is "always available--like the divine grace it is--to any who really want it." Harvey speaks of the urgent need for humans to look to this grace as the best hope for addressing pressing social problems. His collection, a "feast of the greatest and wisest mystical texts," presents the most precious testimonies to this divine relationship from all major world traditions. Included are teachings from Native American, Australian, and African visionaries as well as writings from Taoist, Buddhist, Jewish, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, and ancient Greek sources. Moving selections from Maori legends to the Upanishads, writings by Plato, and words of Mother Teresa reveal different approaches, but all echo the same longing of the soul to merge with the divine--and a simultaneous need to be fully engaged in the world to effect this union. Harvey pays special attention to the neglected role of the sacred feminine, saying that "without the balance of the knowledge of God as Mother as well as Father ... the human race will die out and take a large part of nature with it." The Mother's knowledge of unity, her powers of sensitivity, balance, and respect for life, he explains, must be invoked if humans are to overturn the damage wrought by centuries of adherence to a patriarchal vision--one that has left the external environment and our inner lives in serious need of repair. By understanding the divine in its complete masculine and feminine aspects and by looking to the great mystics, Harvey says, humans can initiate themselves into a fullness of the wisdom that inspires real action in the world. --Uma Kukathas

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Customer Reviews

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As an introductory guide this work is excellent.
Shalom Freedman
Harvey's book on mysticism is highly engaging discussion of the wonders of Divine Presence in the lives of numerous people from greatly varying religious traditions.
Joseph A. Schrock
A real treat to read - I most certainly would recommend this book to anyone interested in going beyond what we commonly know of spirituality and religion.
Jolene P Duff

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 42 people found the following review helpful By FrKurt Messick HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Andrew Harvey's 'The Essential Mystics' is subtitled 'The Soul's Journey into Truth'; this is a book which takes a broad approach to exploring the mystical side of religion, whatever cultural contexts it might take.
This is apparent from the basic listing of chapters:
Voices from the First World
Taoism: The Way of the Tao
Hinduism: the Way of Presence
Buddhism: The Way of Clarity
Judaism: The Way of Holiness
Ancient Greece: The Way of Beauty
Islam: The Way of Passion
Christianity: The Way of Love in Action
Drawing on the holy texts of the different traditions, and exploring the practices of the spiritualists, monastics and holy teachers of these traditions, Harvey has given us a concise volume that reaches to infinity. Harvey's ancient, native and cultural mystical experience has a choice example in the following:
'Sacred One,
Teach us love, compassion, and honour
That we may heal the earth
And heal each other.'
- from a Yokuts prayer
With regard to Taoism, Harvey says, 'This vision in its sanity, lack of pretension, depth, humanity, and wise, demanding humility offers, I have found, a marvelous touchstone by which to inwardly test both the truths and the imbalances of the later mystical traditions.'
In exploring Hindi mysticism, Harvey claims that Hinduism's chief attraction to us now is that it has kept alive a very full at once majestic and tender vision of God the Mother.
'Daily existence in the heart of my extended family
is the worship beyond worship
that perceives Mother Reality
as every being, every situation, every breath.'
The way of clarity in Buddhism is exemplified by the Buddha's statements, such as, 'Be a lamp into yourself! Work out your liberation with diligence!
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By OAKSHAMAN VINE VOICE on June 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
_If I was to take one book along to an isolated beach or island this summer for a serious read and reflection this would be it. You'll end up feeling better about your self, because you'll end up feeling better about mankind. This book proves that people of all cultures and all times have had the capacity to transcend the commonplace and petty and know God. This is the "golden thread" that connects all mystical traditions, all true wisdom in the world.

_Inspite of the extensive footnotes, I would not consider this to be a scholarly book. Rather, I would consider it a spiritual book- that is why it has value and is worth the reading. Here is the mystic heart of native cultures, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddihism, Judaism, Classical Greece, Islam, and Christianity all in one beautifully designed book of 236 pages. What better use could you find for your reading time?
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By merrymousies on October 3, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a beautiful book that is really well put togetther. I love that it opens with "voices of the first world" - native american poems. It then moves into Taoist poetry from the Tao Te Ching, then into Hindu poems, the Judaic writings, then writings from ancient Greece, then Islamic poems, and finally christian passages and poems. The book is marvelous in the way that it shows that all religions are talking about the same things, just using different words/concepts to express them. Too bad more people don't realize this - there'd be fewer wars. Great book, really nicely pulled together. Glad I bought it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph A. Schrock on November 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Harvey's book on mysticism is highly engaging discussion of the wonders of Divine Presence in the lives of numerous people from greatly varying religious traditions.

While this book was a fascinating read for me, I think that the most important lesson I take home from the book is the wonderful fact of how the Divine is present in all great religions -- to some degree or other. This sort of thinking helps one to refrain from prejudice toward those of different religious persuasions, and it can induce a strong sense of appreciation for how God can show up in the lives of human individuals all over the world, in all countries, all cultures, and all great religions.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in reading of the mystical journeys of highly spiritual and (oftentimes) highly intelligent people of all human eras and all parts of the world.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I checked out this work in regard to the religious tradition I know best, the section of Jewish mysticism. I found what Harvey does there very respectable. He writes a short introduction in which he does show an understanding of the special qualiies of the Jewish religious tradition, especially its uniquely prophetic moral dimension. The excerpts he provides are major elements in the tradition, from the opening section on Creation from the first chapter of Genesis, through various Psalms, Isiah's vision of the Lord, sections from Daniel, the Song of Songs, Pirke Avot, the Zohar. The same respectful attitude is present in his work on other sections. I also found his short opening introduction informative.
As an introductory guide this work is excellent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jolene P Duff on September 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A real treat to read - I most certainly would recommend this book to anyone interested in going beyond what we commonly know of spirituality and religion. I could hardly put this book down and plan to read it again as soon as I finish the other books I bought when I purchased this one. I'm sure I will be returning to it over and over again...
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