094. Jeff Foster

Jeff FosterJeff Foster graduated in Astrophysics from Cambridge University in 2001. Several years after graduation, following a period of severe depression and illness, he became addicted to the idea of ‘spiritual enlightenment’, and embarked on an intensive spiritual search which lasted for several years.

The spiritual search came crashing down with the clear recognition of the nondual nature of everything. In the clarity of this seeing, life became what it always was: open, loving, spontaneous, and fully alive.

Jeff presently holds meetings and retreats in the UK, Europe, and around the world, clearly and directly pointing to the frustrations surrounding our seeking activities, to the nature of the mind, and to the clarity at the heart of everything.

His uncompromising approach, full of humour and compassion, enlightens and exposes the seeking mechanism – the mechanism behind all suffering – shattering our hopes for a future salvation, revealing the unconditional freedom and ease that is always already present, right in the midst of the human drama, and within every experience.

You may email Jeff at thisispresence AT yahoo co uk, but please note, Jeff is now receiving many emails per day, and unfortunately he can’t reply personally to every email. But he does read and appreciate all correspondence. Thanks for your understanding.

Jeff belongs to no tradition or lineage but has a deep respect for traditions and lineages. Jeff is not an ‘authority’ on life. His words are equal to the sound of a bird singing, or a cat miaowing. All are expressions of the One Life. And when all words have disappeared, as they do, all that’s left is laughter.

Jeff’s site: Life Without a Centre

Jeff’s books: An Extraordinary Absence: Liberation in the Midst of a Very Ordinary LifeThe Wonder of Being: Awakening to an Intimacy Beyond Words

Interview recorded 10/30/2011

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

39 thoughts on “094. Jeff Foster

  1. “Ah, but we’re never ‘not’ here … That’s the point :]]”

    Telling an addict that he’s not an addict rarely relieves the addict of his or her addictive ways.

    Ditto for the conditioned self. Who, because of his or her conditioning, is not often here/now.

    Our actions reveal if we here/now, more than our verbal attestations to that effect.

  2. No doubt we’re all thinking the same thing: Rick could do a segment that is an actual hacky sack game between Inelia Benz, Jeff Foster, and Tony Parsons during which they simultaneously volley statements regarding reality!…..how cool would that be?! :)

  3. On the where do we go from here question, I once again find myself back at “Chop Wood Carry Water”. I mean there really is no escaping that.
    To quote Jeff: “Every wave is an invitation to see the ocean.” :The waves dont stop” ” Life is a constant invitation to see”……Yes, I wrote these down. :-)

  4. Good answer Fran … an old stand-by, and as satisfying an answer as any, I suppose. Life carries on nonetheless.

    Another answer I might be inclined to explore is: “Wherever the heart takes you.” I can’t say its wisdom has ever steered me wrong … though it is not always painless :]]

  5. Peter… i just started watching this interview on YT… about 20 mins into it… i took a break and read the YT comments… which you may want to read also… here’s one that addresses your question about “growth” …

    YT comment : “by eroozdar 1 day ago : Sweet Mr. Jeff Foster, I have listened to a few of your lectures over the internet. You are one of those teachers who were telling people, there is nothing to do. It seems that You are growing yourself my friend. We need to be clear inside first, then have meetings and trying to help others. Don’t we? Thanks~ ”

    anatol: i also watched several of Jeff’s videos for few years now… and noticed growth… i congratulate him for not getting stuck in the absolute… perhaps i should finish watching the rest of this interview… but my feeling is that Jeff’s heart will be blossoming more & more… and he might even start talking about Love… after all how else can you embrace all that is…

  6. Thanks for your reply, anatol. I have yet to watch or hear Rick’s interview of Jeff, which is why I asked the question.

    I know that Rick asked many of his past interviewees what they thought of spiritual progress and development. And I was hoping that he did not exclude Jeff from that familiar and often reoccurring question of his, simply because I would enjoy hearing Jeff’s response to it.

    As for someone’s opinion about someone else’s’ spiritual growth, I’m more interested in what Jeff had to say on the matter.

    If Rick asked him that question, that is.

  7. I for one did watch the entire interview. Can’t recall specifically if Rick put a direct question to Jeff on spiritual development or evolution, although the topic was broached. I’m also not sure that Jeff offered any direct opinion. However, Jeff fully conceded that his message has changed over the years, and that he no longer resonates with his earlier version. He now seems to be more of an ‘I know nothing/embrace the mystery’ kind of guy. And so I suspect that any answer would probably reflect that sentiment.

  8. This was great! Finally someone talking about the true integration that denies nothing ! The waves integrated with the ocean, instead of denying the waves.

  9. finished watching… great interview… many thanks to Jeff & Rick…

    in a sense most of this interview was about growth… Jeff was an astrophysicist & atheist… that explains to me why he never sought out spiritual teachers… in science the idea is to do your own research… so when circumstances turned into life-and-death scenario… he desperately felt he had to find the answers himself…

    i can relate to some degree… when as a physicist at age 31… i encountered my first very challenging personal situation… for me it felt very extreme… relative to my moderate life up to that time… for onlookers it may have appeared par for the course of life…

    that’s when my spiritual journey started … but continued in a much more milder way than Jeff’s journey… unlike Jeff reading many books… i started with two… one was J. Krishnamurti… & immediately benefited from his message to observe my conditioned life… to think for myself… to see through the veils of conditioning … & not to get stuck in philosophical teachings… but rather rely on my own experiences… observe without preconceptions… and i felt no need to read any more of his books since his simple message clearly meant to move on… and not get stuck…

    my next step was Transcendental Meditation… whose main purpose was experiential… not philosophical or religious… and one could just practice privately without any group involvement… if that’s what one wished…

    getting back to interview… Jeff pointed out how intense he was about life… even though he was suffering increasing depression… and Rick pointed out that great intensity of search leads to quicker realization… so, having quickly awakened to non-duality…in a messy sort of way… Jeff apparently became quite an intense neo-advaitin… “nothing to do”… “no one here”… etc

    but… being open to intimacy & relationship… and really listening to his audiences… apparently Jeff’s heart started opening… and my prediction… at 30 mins into interview… that he will soon start talking about love… came true later in the interview… except he used words compassion, intimacy & relationships… instead of “love”… close enough… unless you are a neo-advaita-denier of love…

    again let me try to be clear about my own situation… i claim no non-duality realization… perhaps because i was never too intense about life… however at the end of my first year spiritual journey… i did experience a very profound heart opening… to the vastness of God’s Love… which flooded my whole body with its intensity… and although the intensity did not stay… the influence did stay… throughout my spiritual journey of 40 years now…

    and so as i watch the young… head-awakenings of the absolute value of Self… i see some getting stuck in absolutism… or fundamentalism( neo-advaita )… and even denying the LOVE value of Self… so i am very happy that Jeff is on the right track… in my 2cent view of looking at life… that Self is both… unmanifest absolute never-changing & ever-new love manifesting…

    so Jeff joins many earlier interviewees of embracing the totality of life… overcoming whatever stuckness may show up…

    then again… as Jeff pointed out … and Rick likewise in various inteviews… that even this absolutist stuckness has a value… which reminds me of a Mooji dialogue… a lady, apparently starting awakening to non-duality, complains to Mooji… “where is the love, the bliss, that’s what i want” … Mooji, apparently helping her to realise the present moment as non-duality… without past or future… says “forget about love… for now… it will come later” … so this is step one… on the path of knowledge… let’s enjoy it… but not get stuck there… godless & arrogant…

    oh… so as not to be misunderstood… when i spent a few satsangs with Mooji… i definitely felt a lot of love in his presence… he is one of my favorites…

    without maturing in love… we see the arrogance of some “advaita double talk” and of laughter at the “silly” duality type questions of sincere seekers… while mature teachers elicit the laughter of awakening first… and then laugh with them not at them…

    laughing at oneself… not at others… is the beginning of appreciation… gratitude & love… mystery of God… the One Unspoken Truth…

    on the path of devotion( bhakti ) … one starts with love for God in duality… and non-duality comes later… even without seeking it… perhaps even without noticing it as being important… as the devotee and God-Guru merge in oneness…

    but it should also start to become apparent that with mature spirituality… awake or seeking… all three are necessary… intentional selfless service… a lot of love…a little knowledge… and as Amma says “love has to be expressed” … and should become visible…

    so… i always liked Jeff… and few years when he started… i even enjoyed his stuckness… for a while… the only question i have for him now… is what is he referring to when he mentions “old teachings” implying some faults… because as in everything… there are good & bad “old traditional teachings” … and Vedas are full of great teachings… containing examples of everything probably… stuckness… many pitfalls… innumerable paths & techniques… and examples of how to overcome obstacles… various phases of realization… etc etc…

    why not embrace all these beautiful ancient teachings… which definitely were/are great spiritual aids to many… and no doubt the source of present phenomena of many awakenings… including the occupy movement… which seems to be a great verification of the hundredth monkey effect… around the globe…

  10. Let’s be honest, this is a nice interview but the whole conversation is just between two persons. A talk about the ocean and the waves leaving out what’s behind it al.


  11. wow. either the interviewee isn’t aware he’s faking it or he’s outright deceiving people.

  12. When I learn of others who have experienced awakenings of various sorts, I am naturally prone to wonder if I can use the lessons of others, such as interviewees here, as aids in pursuing awakening.

    These are among avenues to awakening I’ve encountered in initial


    But can these “avenues” really be thought of as a guide?

    Five caveats.

    First, since realization is rare, maybe the ‘methods’ above rarely really “work”. Second, some people realize, but only *after they “give up”. The problem arises of how to give up in an wholesome or effective way (paradox alert!). Third, in perhaps direct opposition, some people say they realized not when they gave up, but when they hungered desperately for it (contradiction alert!). Fourth, the
    inner processes involved are tricky to convey, and so hard to emulate. Fifth, do avenues to awakening entail sensitive personal matters unlikely to be disclosed by most interviewees. For example, one interviewee said before awakening she wanted to die. Is that required? Hmmm!

    What is the upshot? Though we have learned much, perhaps what we don’t know is still far greater in magnitude.

    Maybe the avenue to realization is so individual that the lessons of others can’t bring us very far. Or, they can bring us far, but only if we are willing to receive their lessons very lightly, while perhaps simultaneously listening more to one’s own intuition.

    Despite all these challenges and limitations, part of me is nonetheless pretty tempted to try to see if I can use the lessons of others as aids in pursuing awakening and relief. It would be nice to have that relief sooner rather than later.

  13. @ Joe … anyone, regardless of the apparent degree of ‘awakeness,’ can potentially offer a gateway, or a glimpse into the One that you are, because everyone, without exception, IS a reflection of that same Oneness. Likewise, as you aptly point out, there is only One window of experience — One’s own.

    The ultimate paradox of seeking is that what you pursue, you already are … this very moment.

    “All existing things are really One” ~ Chuang Tzu

  14. Refreshing, someone who has recognised “awakening” as just another phase of spiritual development, normal, not unlike having a crap and eating.
    The thought that always comes to me when people are stuck in spiritual egotism is get over yourself.

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