023. Rick Archer interviewed by Richard Miller

I’m the Chief Cook and Bottle Washer at Buddha at the Gas Pump. Richard Miller hosts a similar interview show called Never Not Here. Somehow we connected and he asked to interview me, not necessarily as an awakened being or teacher, but as a fellow spiritual aspirant. In the summer of 1967, when I was 17 years old, I was driving through Westport, CT with three friends in the car. One of them in the back seat was reading from a commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead by Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass). A quiet but memorable realization dawned in me that there was such a thing as “enlightenment” and that realizing it was life’s ultimate goal. I rather recklessly explored that possibility through drugs for a year, then saw the futility of that approach and learned Transcendental Meditation. I taught TM for 25 years and still meditate regularly, but am not affiliated with any particular spiritual organization. I respect any of them which seem to offer genuine benefits to their participants.

Interview recorded 6/5/2010.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast. Video also available on Richard Miller’s site, NeverNotHere and on Facebook.

10 thoughts on “023. Rick Archer interviewed by Richard Miller

  1. Rick does an introductory lecture. (laughs)
    This was particularly interesting to me as it illustrated the depth of your understanding and how much most people get into positions about concepts. Concepts about concepts.

    It also strikes me what a great interviewer you are – while you use concepts, you use them to point at experiences rather than concepts to talk about concepts. Richard seemed to prefer concepts about concepts being invalid, yet held firmly to other concepts. He also didn’t seem to think some of the old teachings have real validity today. In a funny way, it was like you were being interviewed by his story rather than him.

    If the thought takes you out of the moment, then the moment isn’t fully established. Thought isn’t the problem.

    I fully agree with your position later in the interview about the value of understanding there is layers. While this sense of layers can lead to issues that get in the way of progress, it is equally true that there are a lot of people who have an awakening and get stuck because of this idea that there is only one truth. As we were discussing in the chat group, Genpo Roshi has also observed this.

    Well Rick, an interesting interview but it doesn’t qualify as a full BATGAP interview. You’ll need another to explore your awakening. You’re not off the hook. ;-)

  2. Thanks for the compliments. Dan and I had agreed to interview one another. I’m holding him to it, even if I have to travel to Saudi Arabia.

  3. David: “it was like you were being interviewed by his story rather than him.”

    I enjoyed the interview as well. Many of us who regularly visit Richard’s oasis found out about Rick’s one for the first time, thanks to Rick’s recent visit there. Silver linings are cool.

    I would only like to caveat David’s above observation with the suggestion that ALL conversations are dialogues between two of more story tellers. And that all of us are storytelling when we chat with each other.

  4. Hi Peter
    Yes, each of us speaks from our experience which we frame conceptually in a story. But what struck me about the interview was that Rick was using stories to point to how he experienced it but Richard was largely holding a specific conceptual position. He appeared to be using stories for his concepts rather than stories for his reality. That’s an important difference.

    When one sees reality as a spectrum of perspectives, there is a range of valid viewpoints. One thing seen many ways. When one holds a specific position in that spectrum, they see one right answer and a bunch of wrong ones.

    Ramana’s teachings are very popular these days. He had a single waking and spoke of one true perspective. This was very valid for him and he beautifully described the experience. There are many popular teachers who also teach this approach, largely discounting concepts.

    However, many of their followers do not share the experience, so naturally develop concepts about no concepts. Thus, one gets into conceptual debates about no concepts, a trap if there ever was one.

    Most of the people I’ve talked to who have woken have done so in stages or layers. While concepts can get in the way of experience, they can be invaluable in understanding what is taking place. Because of that, if we refuse to recognize there is a process, we’ll be getting in the way of it just the same way those who have too many concepts will.

    Concepts are actually not the issue – the issue is how hard we hold them, just as with thoughts, emotions and experiences. And funnily enough, if you have a conceptual model that jives with your own experience, the mind can feel satisfied and let go of them.

    This is why I valued Ricks more open perspective of the journey.

    I have watched a few of Richards interviews and can understand why you enjoy them. I am not trying to discount what hes doing. But everyone is coming to the party with their own perspective. If you fail to recognize the spectrum of valid perspectives in the larger journey, you can get stuck in a conceptual box.

    Nice concepts but concepts don’t awaken.

  5. Thanks for taking the time to develop your response, David. I appreciate that.

    I was enjoying a slice of pizza (with anchovies, my fav) when I read your thoughts… a double treat… when I read your closing line and dropped the remaining crust.

    “Nice concepts but concepts don’t awaken.”

    Which prompts to ask:

    are you embracing the core belief that some thing(s) can and do awaken some folks?

    I’ll acknowledge your disbelief in some or all concepts being able to do that.

    But does that mean, however, that you believe that there are other things that can and do?

    TIA (thanks in advance)

    Peter

  6. Hi Peter

    I try not to embrace too many beliefs. (laughs)

    What I’ve seen is that it is Self that wakes up to Itself. It has nothing individual to do with the person or their beliefs. However, the person is not separate from That either. We could say the person is the collapse of infinity to a point, a mechanism for That to experience Itself. As such, That may adjust the person so that certain things seem to occur that will refine the reflector. What can be experienced through the person.

    This has the effect of increasing the value of That which is reflected until such time as the Self can know itself through the apparent person. It awakens to Itself a little more.

    The value of some concepts here is that they allow the mind to be satisfied and relax and they allow the person to cooperate with the process. The value here is mainly in making the awakening process smoother.

    This can be illustrated with books by people who have fought the process for a time. Like Collision with the Infinite.

    It’s not that suitable concepts or techniques awaken, it’s that they can help the process, make life smoother, and improve the quality of experience. In essence, that’s the point of there being a person in the first place.

    Hope that answers your question.

  7. Thank you, David, for giving me additional background info for me to appreciate the context that you are coming from.

    Differing points of view receive their legitimacy from their respective, unique viewing points.

    I now have a better idea of where your viewing point lies, so I can see how you formed the observations that you did.

    My viewing point differs from that of yours, so my points of view will follow suit accordingly.

    But I’m glad to know a little about the lay of the land on which you tread.

    Thanks again.

    P.S. I’ll have to-read Collision With the Infinite again (it’s been eons since I last read it), ’cause my recollection is that the source of her angst was the absence of her self… not the experience of her Self awakening to Itself. Thanks for giving me a reason to re-read it.

  8. Hi Peter

    You’ll find Rick and some of the other Interviewees here come from a broadly similar perspective. If not, as in this interview, Rick raises the point.

    I would say her angst was because her experience did not match her concepts and she was unwilling to accept any opinion otherwise for quite awhile. Thus, she was in fear of her experience.

    It can be noted that it wasn’t a full absence of self otherwise the fear would not have been there. While the core may have fallen out, what remained was grasping to hold on. Nadeen calls this the deliverance. Adyashanti speaks of post-honeymoon.

    But there is a possibility her waking was thorough enough to touch the core identity and thus give her a kind of BBQ experience of it. What Genpo Roshi calls Fall from Grace. I suggest this simply because of the degree of fear. That’s a key quality of the core identity., that which divides our sense of ‘inside” and “outside”. She doesn’t describe her later shift in enough detail to be certain though.

    This is why we see the importance of understanding the underlying process so such drams are much less necessary.

  9. Rick- I very much enjoyed our time together today. I have since watched Richard Miller’s interview with you. I found it both entertaining and educational. I enjoyed it.

    I’ like to extend an invitation for you to expand you distribution by being invited to become one of our Stillnessspeaks micro blog contributors. These are autonomous micro sites within Stillness that allow for you to extend your reach thru the StillnessSpeaks distribution channel. There is no cost to you and you may poit back to BatGP on the site. all we ask is that you have a link back to Stillnessspeaks on your website in return. it think it could be very good for you.
    Co gratulations on the site and on your interviewing ability. Let me know if you would like to keys to your own micro site at StillnessSpeaks.

  10. Sorry that I didn’t notice this two years ago. It is an interesting interview for me since I have a similar background to Rick’s. I find the current typical spiritual philosophy (reflected here by Richard Miller) frustrating, as it does not accord with either my personal experience or with the knowledge I gained through TM teacher training with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in the early 1970s.

    I see the entire Advaita movement, comprising many self-proclaimed Self-realized Satsang leaders, as absolutely permeated by a conceptual philosophy that eschews concepts. I find this very strange. Advaitins have very rigid ideas about all the spiritual basics: life, concepts, consciousness, enlightenment. Each differentiates themselves from the others by their own absolute statements and concepts. For example, some proclaim that there is no “enlightenment” because we are already there. Others use this word freely.

    Just as I was frustrated with Richard’s objections to Rick’s concepts, I was almost equally frustrated with Rick’s attempts to describe his own philosophy of life.

    Rick and I share a common training in all the concepts and experiences necessary to lead anyone to higher states of consciousness (starting with a firm base of inner absorption, or samadhi) from where they are, which is having been wounded by living in a stressed and suffering world.

    But Maharishi did an unexpected thing as the 1980s progressed: he abandoned his earlier enthusiastic and joyful, single-pointed message of 200% value of life. He turned to increasing mysticism, he praised wealthy people, and he raised the TM course fee to unbelievable heights.

    Most of his teachers were disappointed; many were disillusioned; many left his movement. Rick left completely, but I helped to set up an alternative organization.

    Rick continued learning, accepting knowledge from any source. He mentions here Amma, who shares on the level of feeling.

    I turned to working on the Natural Stress Relief (NSR) project, helping to refine written teaching materials on transcending and providing personal support, so that we could continue Maharishi’s original plan to transform the world to peace, joy, and progress based on the development of each individual in consciousness.

    I don’t think either choice, Rick’s or mine, was inherently better. They both make sense in terms of our personalities and goals.

    But I do think that Rick’s message has been compromised by the admixture of additional spiritual concepts.

    Sometimes Rick presents an idea or an analogy that is very familiar to TM teachers, but he doesn’t follow through with the needed explanation. Rick says that he doesn’t feel comfortable parroting the TM ideas when he hasn’t experienced them all for himself.

    But the result is a lack of the power to help others. When the message is presented in a weak way, it cannot compete well with the currently fashionable Advaita concepts, that are attractive because of their total nihilism and beguiling simplicity (“stop seeking and discover who you really are”; “live in the Now–nothing else is needed”).

    To the Advaitins, there are only three states of consciousness: waking, dreaming, sleeping. For them, the waking state can be in ignorance or can be in full knowledge of one’s true, nondualistic nature.

    The strong way to counter this, to offer another approach that many help some people better, is to proclaim that there are seven states of consciousness, and to describe each one in detail. This way, those who are beginning to have advanced experiences of consciousness can see for themselves how well the Vedic (TM) philosophy matches with their actual experiences, and how poorly the neo-Advaita philosophy matches.

    The view that awareness can be rooted in either the dualistic or nondualistic mode is attractive for its simplicity. It lends itself to Sri Ramana Maharshi’s technique of Self-inquiry.

    But Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s view is very different: it is that consciousness develops from a kind of unity of ignorance (in which we are attached to our separate bodies and egos) through a perfection of duality (in which we are simultaneously aware of the material world and the underlying unbounded field of bliss, 24 hours a day), and then culminating in new kind of Unity (in which we are fully unified with the Divine, Absolute level of life).

    The value of stating this clearly is that it offers an alternative to the Advaitin simplicity, an alternative that may accord better with our actual experiences along our spiritual path.

    In this interview, I can see clearly how Rick has benefited from his own path: he has a clarity and self-confidence that helps him reach others who can in turn benefit from his help.

    But because Rick has dropped the full expression of Maharishi’s philosophy of the development of consciousness, his message becomes harder to follow, and more vulnerable when compared with Advaitin and other approaches offered by teachers whose main qualification seems to be their own level of spiritual attainment.

    To me, that qualification is not enough. A messenger who is afflicted by an illness can point in the direction of the hospital. But someone who does not know where the hospital is, cannot provide practical help, no matter how healthy they themselves are.

    We are fortunate to have quite a few Self-realized souls among us today. But almost all reached this state in ways that do not qualify them as effective teachers: they may have discovered their transformation through Self-inquiry, or through mental breakdown, not through any well-charted, well-described, well-prescribed spiritual path.

    Seekers stay with one teacher for some time, then get frustrated and find another. Not one of the current independent spiritual teachers in the world offer the insight into stored internalized stresses that makes all the difference in Maharishi’s approach. Not one fully views thoughts as helpful and as a part of meditation; more often than not, they view thoughts as obstacles to be overcome.

    I have known many seekers who found it frustrating to try to clear their mind, when all the mind wanted was to be filled with gripping thoughts and feelings. The effort it took felt wrong because it is wrong–spiritual success can only be based on increasing effortlessness, not on trying.

    In TM, Maharishi provided us with a technique that starts where we are familiar: with thoughts, doing, and taking ownership on ourselves. TM then, in the space of a minute or two, brings us to the source of all thoughts, the experience of pure awareness, which is joyful and free of thoughts and ego. This effective process of transcending, accompanied by a detailed theory of stress release that explains our varied experiences, is deeply satisfying. It is perhaps the reason that Rick continues practicing transcending even though he seems no longer to advocate it for others.

    I’m not sure where my disjointed comments lead. If I had the ability, I would urge Rick to return to his spiritual origins, to work again for the adoption of transcending as a spiritual practice.

    It may be relevant for me to share my motivation in posting such pointed comments. In my daily activities in supporting the experiences of my meditation clients, I see the practical effects of transcending in people of all backgrounds. Most of my clients are not spiritual seekers. They are ordinary folks who have trouble getting along with their spouse, or have persistent anxiety, or have mental health problems. Rick will be very familiar with the dramatic improvement in the lives of such ordinary folks when they begin practicing transcending twice a day: some problems clear up from the first session; some may take years to clear up. But everyone enjoys the deep refreshment that clears the windows of perception, improves the ability to focus and act in life, puts us in better contact with spontaneous joy and the ability to give and receive love.

    Rick knows all of this. His interviews with enlightened people are entertaining and can be useful as visions of possibilities for our own development in life. But our world needs more. Our news programs still reflect suffering, not the triumph of the spirit. Wars and oppression continue in many places. Greed and selfishness continue almost everywhere. The world needs all of us humble messengers to come out of our self-protective retirement and once again inspire the world to practice the dramatic and scientifically-validated procedure of transcending, by whatever names this simple, natural, and effective technique may be known.

    David Spector
    Natural Stress Relief/USA

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