by Brenda Mitchell, Ph.D.
O'Keeffe found Heard's footprints around the tree where he had been dancing, as well as a cryptic inscription he had etched into the earth at the base of the tree.
Two largely ignored paintings from Georgia O'Keeffe's oeuvre, D. H. Lawrence Pine Tree and Gerald's Tree I, bring up several important issues concerning O'Keeffe's disguised portraits and her close relationships with literary figures. In both paintings O'Keeffe has portrayed male writers (men of culture) as trees, an apparent paradox from a woman linked to the world of nature by her contemporaries and even by the artist herself. O'Keeffe once wrote: "I feel like a little plant that he [husband Alfred Stieglitz] has watered and weeded and dug around — and he seems to have been able to grow himself — without anyone watering or weeding or digging around him." She later distanced herself from the world of culture, especially literature, declaring to painters Arthur Dove and Helen Torr, "I am quite illiterate." Yet she lived at the center of American avant-garde art production, and included in her library were major works of philosophy and literature, as well as art theory by, among others, Clive Bell and Wassily Kandinsly (in whose Concerning the Spiritual in Art O'Keeffe would have encountered Theosophy). The apparent paradox begins to disappear when we recognize that her subjects in these paintings, British novelist D. H. Lawrence and Irish writer Gerald Heard themselves experienced ambivalence toward the world of culture, and that O'Keeffe's symbolic portrayals placed her squarely in the mainstream of American Modernism.
H. G. Wells, pioneering science-fiction writer
"Heard is the only man I ever listen to on the wireless. He makes human life come alive."
Aldous Huxley, prominent author
"Gerald Heard is that rare being — a learned man who makes his mental home on the vacant spaces between the pigeon-holes. He has looked into a score of specialties and, out of what he has seen there, has constructed a comprehensive picture of the world — a picture in which the most diverse elements of reality take their places and are seen in significant relationship."
W. Somerset Maugham, famous playwright, novelist, and short-story writer
"Gerald Heard is a scintillating talker. One of his happiest gifts is that when you attend one of his lectures you do not feel that you are listening to a prepared address, but to the most natural, brilliant and stimulating conversation."
G. Lowes Dickinson, historian and Cambridge Fellow
"If [the reader] derives from the book as much interest and vision and I have done myself he will not regret any trouble he may take in mastering the author's meaning." (From Mr. Dickinson's introduction to Gerald Heard's The Ascent of Humanity.)
Christopher Isherwood, popular novelist
"Gerald Heard is one of the very few who can properly be called philosophers, a man of brilliantly daring theory and devoted practice."
Professor Huston Smith, noted authority on the world's religions
"Heard's book [Pain, Sex and Time] converted me from the scientific worldview...to the vaster world of the mystics. I am in good company in owing that conversion to Gerald Heard, for Heard also converted Aldous Huxley from the cynical nihilism of his Brave New World to the mysticism of The Perennial Philosophy."
Dr. (Hon.) Rhea A. White, founder/director of The Exceptional Human Experience Network
"By far the person that has influenced me most is the former BBC science commentator and practicing mystic, lecturer, and spiritual advisor, Gerald Heard. It was not only his ideas that influenced me but his very being, which was distinctly numinous and unlike anything I had previously experienced or have since. In Gerald Heard I experienced what I would call the aura of sanctity."
Willard L. Sperry, former Dean, Harvard Divinity School
"Gerald Heard is a man of mature culture, of many contacts and keen understanding of the modern mind. He feels deeply the spiritually poverty-stricken state of our modern world, and our need of a rebirth of personal religion. The simple directness of all that he thinks and says stirs both the imagination and the conscience of those to whom he speaks."
William H. Sheldon, American psychologist
"Considering the whole panorama of human life, historic, anthropologic and archeologic, Mr. Heard may well be the best informed man alive. He is certainly one of the ablest lecturers and one of the most articulate speakers among English speaking people."
Dave Brubeck, world-renowned jazz composer
"Gerald Heard had a brilliant mind...I can truly say he broadened my vision of religion and spirituality."
John Haynes Holmes, former minister of the Community Church of New York
"Gerald Heard is a scientist, seer, and a saint. The combination is impressive. Mr. Heard speaks with precision and clearness on profound themes."
The New Christianity
"To many thoughtful readers of this generation, Gerald Heard's books give the impression of a mind almost uniquely profound, sensitive and original among contemporary writers. His mastery in the fields of anthropology and psychology makes for fresh and creative interpretations of history; and his remarkable equipment is utilized in a way to establish more firmly the realities of religious faith."
Ellery Queen, from the March 1947 issue of Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine
"Gerald Heard is the spiritual godfather of this Western movement [i.e., the Vedanta philosophy during the 1940s]... Mr. Heard's controversial books are brilliantly and provocatively written."
Georg Feuerstein, noted yoga authority
"Heard's work—and he published a number of insightful books — was one of the ideological sources of the human potential movement and was also instrumental in the spreading of Vedanta in the Western hemisphere."
"His work was a forerunner of, and influence on, the consciousness development movement that has spread in the Western world since the 1960s."
Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, founder of the Jewish Renewal movement
"Gerald’s The Five Ages of Man [is] where he can be seen as the savant, the repository of the most encompassing cosmology of his generation."
Charles E. Vernoff, Emeritus Professor of Religion at Cornell College, Iowa
"Gerald Heard — as Huxley's spiritual mentor — must be acknowledged as true grandfather of the New Age. I believe Gerald's vision both preceded and transcended the attempted spiritual revolution of the 1960's."
Philip Goldberg, prolific author, interfaith minister
"Gerald Heard was unrivaled as a catalyst for the propagation of Vedanta, largely because he sparked the interest of people who would, in turn, reach millions of others. His role in accelerating the evolution of consciousness in the West was huge, thanks to his impact on key movers and shakers in the consciousness movement."