115. Karen Richards – 2nd Interview

Karen RichardsFrom Karen’s site: In February 2008 at the age of thirty-three, Karen experienced a sudden and radical awakening. Prior to this realisation, no teachings or practices were followed – in fact at that time the terms non-duality and awakening were completely unfamiliar. This spontaneous realisation presented itself during a period of intense emotional suffering and when demands in life exceeded Karen’s physical capability.

Karen attempted to persevere in the face of these challenges, the consequence being a severely debilitating illness that affected physical functioning on every level. Although the illness had a devastating effect on life as it was then known, it seemed to create a space for a deeper reality to be recognised.

As her state of health was so poor, Karen was unable to return to work – meaning that she spent a significant amount of time confined to her home. The effect of this period of solitude was profound surrender, allowing the realisation to become deeply integrated into daily living. Two and a half years after the initial recognition, someone Karen didn’t know approached her for guidance, which really was the beginning of sharing in a more active way. Karen now shares openly with all those who wish to enquire into the true nature of reality.

Karen grew up in a small town in the heart of England and was born into a non-religious family. After a somewhat turbulent childhood and unsettled early adult life, she trained as a nurse in 1993. After qualification in 1996, Karen went onto practice nursing in the NHS full time for twelve years, gaining experience in many specialities including general surgery, urology and medicine before specialising in intensive care. In the years prior to the realisation, Karen has experienced challenges and disappointments that seem common to many. She is also a certified life coach and that, coupled with her nursing career has given her considerable experience of working with people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. This has endowed her with the ability to empathise and understand life as it is to commonly experienced, making her easy to communicate with.

Following the realisation, Karen’s experience of illness – coupled with her extensive experience of healthcare, enabled dis-ease / illness to be seen from a different perspective. Misperception of what we are and the stress that can ensue in direct relation to that misperception, means that we are often in a state of persistent resistance to life as it is. This negative state of functioning is the foundation for many of our health challenges. The rediscovery of who we are is fundamental for the transformation of the human life experience. It means that the peace that is already here is recognised and experienced directly, having potentially profound healing effect on the mind and body.

Realisation – from a human perspective – means that the unity beyond apparent diversity is remembered. Life can then be embraced fully and authentically – without contamination from the lens of the conditioned mind, bringing relief from all psychological suffering. An inevitable consequence of this recognition is the arising of compassion, love and respect for life in all of its appearances – having an ever deepening impact on the human experience. This has the direct consequence of transforming the world we see literally before our eyes, having a powerful healing effect on the planet as a whole.

‘May you rediscover who you truly are, for in that knowing lies liberation, peace and wisdom. You are THAT for which you have been seeking’

Much love, Karen Richards

First Interview

Interview recorded 3/18/2012

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

80 thoughts on “115. Karen Richards – 2nd Interview

  1. It is all Self – staying still or in movement. Who would suggest that Self cannot move?

  2. Vama –
    Thank you for the Vedic lesson…..I bow to your knowledge of Yoga…and its physiological/psychological manifestations..I can only speak to that from my own sidha yoga experience of shiva meeting shakti – As I’ve said before, as profound as it was – it wasn’t enough..and I knew to look further..

    I quite agree that the specialized yogic knowledge you’ve acquired in terms of maintaining health and helping the body to hold the energy is very important…we’ve discussed this on these pages – I wish more teachers today had taken better care -and am sure we are both ever grateful to Maharishi for his input there…If you have taken the knowledge of the body even further as a yogi, then you can fill a great void in spiritual circles..and teach to that..

    And certainly we agree that a guide is necessary on any spiritual journey..no question about that..and hope that each will find the perfect teacher for them..

    What is not clear here, and what precipitated this discussion, is whether specialized knowledge of the apparent afterlife or other realms is important to anyone who is interested in awakening..It certainly isn’t interesting to the profoundly awakened…What could possibly add to the fulfillment of resting in Brahm?

    I think we both can agree that Self Realization can either be a beginning awakening experience or a culmination of all that came before..

    I do feel though that you misunderstand the final Realization that Ramana’s people experience..Everyone does till they come to it…which is the coming down through the amrita nadi and resting in the heart of the Self..before manifestation..before time began..We awaken out of the dream..

    It is most certainly not just an I Am That experience..which is more of a unitive awakening experience although it includes that…It is rather, a culmination experience bringing consciousness to rest beyond and before time and space – to the no-thingness of Brahm – It is eternal but certainly not static – just an ever deepening well of love, wisdom and embodiment..It’s a delicious deepening into Reality…

    If you feel that specialized knowledge has come your way through Shakti’s ever changing play of lila – and this has brought you to fulfillment – are no longer seeking anything- and that what you’ve learned can help or even heal others – beautiful…each to his own.. I know your intent is only to help… I’ve found that one helps most when they get out of the way and let IT do the teaching..We don’t want to leave a trace..

    The Self Realized friends I know are similarly inclined in terms of pure intent..They obviously speak from the heart of the Self when they speak – but mostly their Silence speaks for them..They can walk into a room and instantly quiet it down..Presence is palpable..

    Because they have gotten out of the way and let IT do the teaching, they can transmit the Silence in person or long distance or even through words..That could not happen unless the Realization was a culmination experience…I certainly was not able to transmit after the yogic ride because I was not at full rest..The mind/ego/persona was subtle but persistent..

    They call the final teaching of Vedanta – the undoing of everything we believed we were and the world was – It is no teaching at all because it is unformulated – It is spontaneous – no thought involved..MMY devoted but one page to it in the Gita – the last one – cause he didn’t think most would be so inclined..

    Of course we know it is Grace itself transmitting the Silence and it is humbling..We don’t take pride in it..as we are fully aware that it comes from beyond the mind and it’s the only thing that I’ve seen truly awaken anyone and lift them out of suffering…It is simply Love Itself – all the rest in my opinion – are details..

    I wish you well..

  3. Steve – yes inevitable – It seems you have absorbed your master and are speaking his Truth…a far cry from just quoting him…I’m so happy to hear you speak directly from Self…It’s awesome..
    Ising – same for you..love you both..

  4. Jill – when you wrote:

    ”… I do feel though that you misunderstand the final Realization that Ramana’s people experience… Everyone does till they come to it… which is the coming down through the amrita nadi and resting in the heart of the Self..before manifestation… before time began..We awaken out of the dream…”

    Are you quoting what I wrote on the thread of the interview I had ? Here it is:

    ”…For instance, Ramana’s view of Kundalini is strikingly similar to that held in Kashmir Shaiva philosophy. According to Ramana, Kundalini culminates its movement in the (spiritual) Heart, not in the Sahasrara (as viewed by many yogic scriptures). That is, the Shakti rises up the Sushumna all the way to the cranium and then descends down through the ‘amrita nadi’ to the Heart where it finds repose or dies. It is here where the Mind fully merges with the Self as seen by Ramana (and further explained by one of his self-realized disciples Lakshmana Swami).

    Kashmir Shaiva tradition expounds this view with a precision of modern astrophysics. According to that tradition there are eight chakras as opposed to ‘classically’ known seven, plus few extra channels like the Amrita nadi which goes down to the Heart. The Sahasrara is known as Brahmarandra (the hole or gate of Brahman) and though crucial in the process does not constitute the full Realization of the Self. The seat of the Self (Shiva) is in the Heart and it is here where Energy (Shakti) returns completing the full circle of involution to merge with the Source.

    Myself I keep to that view and hopefully we’ll delve into it fully in the next interview… ”

    I would have not spoken about it if that was not based lived reality, Jill. But when you insist that: ”… I do feel though that you misunderstand the final Realization that Ramana’s people experience… Everyone does till they come to it…”

    I feel it is a gross generalization to fit everyone under the so called Ramana’s experience. You’ve missed the main emphasis of my communication on BatGap starting with your very first comment. I don’t blame you and you are not alone.

    Sometimes when the opposite of what we’ve accustomed to [acknowledge] comes to light we are in the blind spot as it were. For Ramana the World was an Illusion, it did not exist at all, it was the classical, 12 hundred years old Maya of Adi Shankara.

    For me the World is not an Illusion but a living pulsating Reality of Pure Consciousness itself. Parama Shiva IS Parama Shakti. Maya could be translated as something other than – Illusion, Jill.

    Funny enough the same dispute has broke out elsewhere and Rick and I will delve into that theme on the next interview. I am out of the blog until the above would be clarified in in depth discussion.

    P. S. Snow and Uli – I am glad you brought the non-hindu tradition into this talk.

    Yoga after all is just as Indian as Theory of Relativity is Jewish or Electricity is German.

    At times in order to understand better ”one’s own” country one needs to travel abroad…

  5. Can’t be divided – it’s that simple. Snow: the English language Wizard. Love you.

  6. Vama –
    Yes a good time to retire the blogging for us all..spring has sprung..and the outdoors call..
    At this point in time my friend – you just may be a man without a country…Sorry for any misunderstanding of what you are trying to convey..I was hoping for a Self to Self resonance but honestly couldn’t find it through or around the words..not sure why…usually we all get the same download..Perhaps in your next interview there will be further clarification of your experience of reality…I wish you well..and thanks for all the vedic lessons..

  7. Vamadeva ~ “…. For me the World is not an Illusion but a living pulsating Reality of Pure Consciousness itself. Parama Shiva IS Parama Shakti. Maya could be translated as something other than – Illusion, Jill. … ”

    this is a good point… i feel… to point out that “Illusion” … is not the best translation of “Maya” … because the word “Illusion” may connote non-existence to some… but Amma points out… (paraphrased) ~ “it’s not that maya does not exist… maya does exist… but it is not-permanent… it is ever-changing” …

    likewise… vedic words translated into english words … real / not-real… truth / not truth… have similar defects… perhaps best to use the words… “never-changing” and “always-changing”… or simply keep in mind that words… especially English… are not it… and “know” what they are really pointing to… when listening to different teachers… and their choice of English words…

    anyone interested in Amma quotes… can check out… https://www.facebook.com/pages/Daily-Amma-Quotes/219053961448174

    note: although Amma added clarity to the English translation of Maya… we have to keep in mind that Amma speaks in Malayalam… and someone has to translate into English… which may contain words like… non-existence, unreal, etc and even illusion…

    haven’t read all above comments… maybe someone already made similar ones…

  8. In my version of reality there is a simple answer.

    We do not wake up by the mind achieving anything ( eg years of meditation or following strict guidelines ) but rather if the Soul decides to let the mind experience the Soul.

    When it does, it shuts the sucker up ;)

  9. The writer Sherman Alexie writes about fancy dancing.
    In some of these posts there’s a lot of dancing with fancy words.

    Recently a Zen master said, “Who knows how enlightened you are? Who cares?” When this point is clearly seen perhaps it is possible to take another step.
    Or dance a new dance.

    Shuzan held up his teacing stick before those assembled and said, “If you call this a teaching stick, you oppose its reality. If you do not call it a teaching stick, you ignore the fact. Tell me, what will you call it?

    This question contains:
    stick/nonstick
    phenomenal/essential
    relative/absolute
    existence/nonexistence
    Being/nonBeing
    form/formless
    ignorance/enlightenment
    sound/silence
    birth/death
    action/rest
    seeker/nonseeker
    Self/nonSelf
    just this/not just this

    The list can go on and on. You may add to the list as
    you will. Having exhausted all answers…what is it then?
    Then what is it?

    No words; no silence. Speak at once! Speak at once!

  10. this translation seems to be useful…
    ‘ Wendy Doniger O’Flaherty, a Sanskrit scholar from the University of Chicago:
    Interestingly, she looked at the root meaning of the Sanskrit word, maya, and discovered that it could best be translated as “transformation”.
    She writes, “To say that the universe is an illusion (maya) is not to say that it is unreal; it is to say, instead, that it is not what it seems to be, that it is something constantly being made.” ‘
    ***
    I really don’t want to enter in a competition of guru quotes, I want to share these ones for fairness sake…

    Honey in the Heart for all of you,
    Uli
    (The Mother is Sri Aurobindo’s yogic partner)

    ‘The pure existent is then a fact and no mere concept; it is the fundamental reality. But, let us hasten to add, the movement, the energy, the becoming are also a fact, also a reality. The supreme intuition and its corresponding experience may correct the other, may go beyond, may suspend, but do not abolish it. We have therefore two fundamental facts of pure existence and of world-existence, a fact of Being, a fact of Becoming. To deny one or the other is easy; to recognize the facts of consciousness and find out their relation is the true and fruitful wisdom.’ – Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 86

    ‘The significance of our existence here determines our destiny: that destiny is something that already exists in us as a necessity and a potentiality, the necessity of our being’s secret and emergent reality, a truth of its potentialities that is being worked out; both, though not yet realised, are even now implied in what has been already manifested. If there is a Being that is becoming, a Reality of existence that is unrolling itself in Time, what that being, that reality secretly is what we have to become, and so to become is our life’s significance.’
    – Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine, p. 1024

    ‘One movement is within, containing everything in itself, without any expression of what is there; and the other movement is just this [the Mother makes a gesture of projection], and all that is within oneself comes out.
    And then, for this to become perceptible, it must be continuous. When it is within, it can be simultaneous, for it is unmanifest, so all is in an eternity outside Time and Space – immobile, inexistent. In the opposite direction, everything becomes and so there is a continuity of perceptions which follow one after another and spread out in Space and Time.
    And it is the same thing.
    It is exactly as if you are like this [the Mother makes a gesture of being doubled up], and then you do this [open up] – and so what was there comes out. So these two movements are literally opposite, but it is the same thing in two opposite attitudes which are simultaneous: it remains like this [inward gesture], and at the same time it is like this [outward gesture]; the one does not cancel out the other and they exist simultaneously. But in one direction it is imperceptible because it is contained within itself, in the other movement it is thrown outside, and so it can be seen. And when it is self-contained, it is co-existent in a perfect simultaneity; and in the other movement it unfolds itself in a constant becoming. And when it unfolds itself, it necessarily creates Time and Space, while there it is outside Space, outside Time and beyond all possible perception. But it is the same thing in two opposite movements.
    And that is what truly is.
    It is like that…. one single thing in two opposite aspects.’
    – The Mother, 11 April 1956, Questions and Answers

    ‘Sri Aurobindo says that when one succeeds in not separating [the Master of Existence and the World-Mother] in one’s consciousness, one can fully understand who the Lord of the Sacrifice is.* Otherwise one leans to the side of the Master without laying stress on the Shakti or the Mother, one goes into the Impersonal and out of creation, one returns into Nirvana. … Till today this is what has always been considered as yoga: to abandon the personal and enter into the consciousness of the impersonal. Sri Aurobindo speaks of it as an overwhelming experience, for it gives you the impression of liberation from all the ego’s limitations. And later, he describes the union: insistence on the personal side and union with the divine Person; then the world is no longer an illusion nor something transient which will disappear after a time, but the constant and dynamic expression of the eternal divine Person…. when one has the two together, one is perfect.’
    – The Mother, 18 April 1956, Questions and Answers

  11. Thanks by heart!
    Towards a participatory spirituality…
    “One of the challenges of working with different dimensions is that they move at different speeds and follow different laws.
    The physical world is the most dense and slow-moving of the worlds and appears the most fixed. In the symbolic world images can shift and change, as we know from our dreams. Here we are not imprisoned by laws of gravity or the inertia that governs the material forms of the physical world. A shaman who works here is sometimes known as a shape-shifter; he can metamorphose from one form to another, become an eagle soaring in the sky, a fish, a wind. The plane of the Self is subject to even fewer constraints. It is not constricted by the laws of duality; it functions according to the ways of oneness in which everything is present at the same moment in the same space – the world in a grain of sand. This dimension moves so quickly it sometimes seems not move at all; it is the “still center of the turning wheel”.
    Working with these different dimensions means being able to move freely from one set of laws to another, from one vibration or speed of consciousness to another. It means not getting caught in any fixed understanding of how things are. How things appear in the physical world may be quite different from how they are perceived in the archetypal dimension, and that appearance is even more different from the way they are perceived by the Self, which barely registers separation and multiplicity. And in the planes of nonbeing the appearances of this world do not even exist.
    This does not mean one abandons or rejects the laws of a particular world, however limited and even unreal they might appear from the point of view of other worlds. (..)
    We are here to participate in the many worlds we inhabit; the key is not to get caught in any one of them but to be able to move freely between them, so that we do not limit how our consciousness can be used.”

    ~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Alchemy of Light: Working with the Primal Energies of Life

    One of the pivotal discoveries that many people make in this work is the realization that these bliss-soaked, light-filled, God-intoxicated dimensions of being that initially appear to surround spacetime waiting for us to find them are relentlessly trying to penetrate spacetime. They are the matrix, the Cosmic Womb that has given birth to this realm, that holds it in existence moment by moment, and that is constantly working to saturate it in ever greater measure. When we first become conscious of these more refined realms, we may feel that we have been marooned in a harsh and barren world – cast out of the garden – but in time we discover that we are in fact emissaries and pioneers here. After the joy of reunion subsides, one sees more clearly that the task is not to escape but just the opposite, greater Presence. Our individual and collective goal is to draw the Divine Impulse ever more completely into physical incarnation.
    (…)
    To discover that the passion of God is to awaken ever more completely inside creation shatters all dualities and completely reframes the spiritual impulse. Where shall we “escape’ to? Where can we be that God is not? The challenge is not to exchange earth for heaven, but to awaken more completely to the heaven that everywhere presses upon us. (…)
    In this exercise, the conditions of spacetime are simply the weight upon the bar. Weight-lifters do not complain about the weight but use it to their advantage. Similarly, our task is to use the resistance of spacetime to accelerate the development of capacities that would emerge more slowly in the subtler planes of existence….”
    Christopher Bache, ‘Dark Night, Early Dawn”

  12. if this is not sublimely heart-expanding…I don’t know what is…the gnostic knowledge, awakening in our awareness again…

    “I was first taken back to the primordial beginning before creation and there experienced human evolution in the context of a larger cosmic agenda. Suddenly I was overwhelmed by the most extraordinary Love, a love unlike anything I had ever encountered before. It was a romantic love, cosmic in scope and intensity. As I stabilized under this amorous assault, I began to remember from deep within my story. An ancient love, a divine love of unbelievable proportions. I was a Cosmic Being being loved by another Cosmic Being. Though at one level I had never been separated from my Lover, at another level we had been separated for billions of years, and my return was rekindling our ancient love. The pieces were hard to catch. Creation seemed to be a reality that had come forth from the dynamic relation between two Cosmic Beings, which had themselves emerged from a more fundamental Primal Unity. One Being,who felt more like a He, had remained fully conscious outside of matter while the other had plunged Herself into the task of creating the material dimension, knowing in advance that She would lose Her self-awareness in this work and become unconscious of Her true reality for billions of years. She had voluntarily submitted to this long and painful exile in order to create the raw substance of physical life that would in time become transparent to divine intention as matter evolved into full self-awareness. This work now largely complete, the self-imposed exile was coming to an end, and the Lovers were being reunited at long last….”

    Dark Night, Early Dawn: Steps To A Deep Ecology of Mind, Christopher Bache

    http://www.kheper.net/topics/Aurobindo/Matter_becoming_Divine.html

  13. Uli –
    How lovely all these quotes are- inspiring – so many wonderful masters both living and dead – all speaking the same simple Self-evident Truth..undivided….living seamlessly…having made the two One..

    Those like Llewellyn Vaughn- Lee who I met years ago when he was starting out and who btw Rick is trying to get for an interview for the site, are just like you…all just regular people who have found resolution through sitting with an awake personal teacher…not gods or anyone to put on a pedestal..All they’ve done is step out of the way and let the Vastness speak..not as complicated as some would have it..

    Sacred knowledge is precious and can increase one’s desire and longing for God- but can’t take you over the moon…Only Grace can do that..and Grace in the form of the manifest Self, is just about everywhere one looks today..

    I hope that one day you enjoy a sweet surrender to Self, so that these words and all the scriptures can then become alive within you..

  14. Thank you for your kind words, Jill
    yes, it’s a magical mystery trip this life – beginning with a overwhelming pranic awakening when I was 17 initiating me in the Prana Path, to recent nondual glimpses.
    Big Love!
    Om Shakti Ma!

  15. mmmm…now is speaking the blood of a heretic running in my veins… ; )
    what if the troubadours didn’t misinterpret the Sufi mystical poems…but began to articulate the hidden lineage that is resurfacing now (and possibly giving birth to a yoga of the future: lifetime couples as spiritual practice…) ?
    http://cregs.sfsu.edu/article/western_sexual_mysticism

    ‘Imagine an alternative Christ whose message of love and redemption is conveyed, not by a story of heroic self-sacrifice and martyrdom, but by the passionate love between Man and Woman, The Perfected Couple as Religion, A Mystico-Erotica as its most sacred scripture. As Krishna proclaimed of Himself in his Song of God, “I am the passion in beings that is attuned to (Sanathana) Dharma.”
    A rare kind of sex in which desire shudders throughout the body in myriad crescendos of awe heat bliss rendering all bodiless religions and myopic sexologies vestigial to an age on the wane that had become dedicated to exacting the truest of confessions from a shadow.
    How so?
    Far beyond the thrall of the teenaged awakening Nature has hidden in us numerous rare and mysterious erotic reflexes and transformative puberties (except for “Kundalini”, completely unknown to modern times- did we really believe we had discovered everything there is about the erotic universe?) the fleshy basis of all spiritual yearning that only a ever-deeper passion might awaken:
    Shuddering genital reversals vajroli mudra, shakti chalani, that emerge in meditative depths or only after the second hour of embrace, spinal surges Kundalini-shakti,davvening, Quakering, Shakering, zikr-ing, holy ghosting, involving perhaps twenty years novitiates of sublimative maturation, excessively devotional surrenders requiring an ease with tears at the thought of it all, and even more distant throat- choking pharyngeal hypoglossal arousal khecari mudra, soaring into consummate pineal emissions soma-rasa, nectar of the Gods, inebriating the inmost soul with breathless beauties everywhere, perhaps a dozen lifetimes away. In a different economy of bodies and pleasures we might call these awakenings postgenital puberties as in the ancient name for Yoga:
    “shamanica medra” “the going-beyond-genital-awakenings”
    -but beyond into what?
    Always oscillating, Krishna worships Radha worships Krishna man worships woman worships man thus becoming god, becoming goddess from the inside out molting their human skins born out of their arduous longing for this other, the beloved, the ache of it all endured, this life into That into this into That, a weaving maturing of souls verging on oneness, circling auguring ever-deeper into the Source of incarnation itself, close and even closer winding toward the vertiginous center everything quickening the hopes and fears of each lover there ever was or will be.
    The awe of creation, the power of it, life itself. Immortality inward outward the other puberties endlessly beyond words English or Sanskrit to this edge where Happening itself happens…”

  16. ooops..this is the author:

    “Your Perfect Lips.A Spiritual-Erotic Memoir”, by Stuart Sovatsky

  17. So, before realization we are subject to and responsible for our ‘conditioning’ which yields an entertainingly diverse bunch of personalities, which, after awakening mature into honest, yet individualized expressions of Truth. But really we are all the play of the Divine even before awakening and it is amazing to observe all of the myriad and beautiful paths that Nature manifests as we all approach the inevitable in our own way.

    Even more interesting is the relationship between the awakenened who guide and those still struggling their way out of the conditioned prison. The guide’s pre-realization conditioning forms the personality that then attracts and interacts with those that are enriched by their teaching/transmission. It’s an infinitely complex yet ridiculously simple system, unfathomable, yet seamless.

    We’re all on this amazing tour of the universe and each of us brings a special hand to the table. I agree with Jill that there are many distractions and that we should simply flow into the highest first, yet is it not the play of Nature that forms our paths in the first place? And should our path take us into deep knowledge of some relative field, be that civil engineering or tantric yoga, is it not OK to share that wisdom, that perhaps someone along the way could use it to build a bridge? Just make sure you say that you are still a work in progress.

    Perhaps I am mixing my views of reality, but I think there is room for everyone here…and there is a special place for those who hold the beacon. It’s all an amazingly integrated whole. Keep shining, everyone.

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