A.H. Almaas 2nd Interview Transcript

A.H. Almaas 2nd Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. This is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening or awake people. For more information or to help support our efforts, go to www.batgap.com. My guest today is Hameed Ali, or A. H. Almas, his pen name. I’ve had him on the show before and I really enjoy talking to Hameed. I really enjoyed our last conversation, which I just listened to again the other day. Hameed has written a new book called “Runaway Realization,” which we’ll be talking about today. And as some of you know, this is the first time we’ve experimented with doing a live stream of the interview, so there’s about 35 people online right now watching and listening to this. And you’ll be able to send in questions on the upcoming interviews page of www.batgap.com. There’s a form into which you can put your questions and then I have a fellow monitoring those who will send me some of them later in the interview. So, Hameed, welcome first of all. Thanks for doing this.

Hameed: Good to talk to you again.

Rick: Yeah, good to talk to you again. One of the reasons I enjoy talking to you, among many, is that in a way you and I have a similar attitude or perspective on things, which is that realization never ends, discovery never ends, awakenings, degrees of enlightenment never end. And that’s sort of implicit in the title of your book, “Runaway Realization.” So I think perhaps you and I will cover some of the same points in this interview as we did in the last one, because you can’t teach an old dog new tricks and we’re two old dogs who enjoy saying the same things over and over again to a certain extent. But maybe we’ll start by having you tell us, if you can, what is new in this book than in your previous books, or perhaps even might be something new since we last spoke. And then I have a lot of notes and questions and all that I’ll be asking you.

Hameed: Yeah, this book is actually a departure from the series of books I have published before. Series of books I have published before, basically they go through the teaching that I teach in its various segments, various stages, various kinds of realization, it goes in a kind of progression to a deeper, deeper, and subtler, more complete way. This book sort of takes, doesn’t continue the same direction, but sort of turns, takes like a right angle and exits that way of looking at things and looks at them from what I call a non-hierarchical perspective, not seeing things as something deeper than other or something, you know, more advanced than other. It’s a shift of point of view. And the other thing about it, in this book, what I thought was important to write about, which is rarely, I think, discussed in a spiritual book, is what is the relationship of practice and actual awakening? What does what? What makes awakening happen? What does awakening or realization, to get into the definition of those, what’s the dynamic? I call it the dynamic of realization in the book. So, I discuss, I lead up to it, so in the book I discuss various things about what make, you know, motivation for practice, the goal of practice, all these things that people think about in terms of taking on a spiritual path or a particular practice. And look at them from first from the ordinary perspective that most people do, and then from the perspective of realization itself, from what does that look like. And then until I get to the place where I can discuss what I call the dynamic of realization, which is what are the forces there? How do things happen? Do we really achieve realization by our own efforts and study or is it some other force, some spiritual force that is responsible for it? What’s the relationship between the two? That’s really the core of the new message in the book, is trying to communicate that and discuss it in some detail and illuminate it. So, that way everybody, whatever practice they are engaging, they can look at their practice in a deeper and a more meaningful way and to see what’s and I think can help people in their practice a great deal, in terms of attitude, in terms of orientation, in terms of their behavior. And from that of course, then I go on as we understand the dynamic of realization, what is the view that arises about reality and awakening and what is it we experience when there is a realization? And that’s when we talk about the endlessness of it. I basically bring in the position that many teaching take, that they have a goal, what they call the ultimate and discuss how even though there are people who believe there are different ways of talking about the same thing, I don’t want to say that’s not really exactly true. There are people talking really about, it’s a really different kind of experience each one of them talking about, a different kind of emphasis at least. And then, I don’t critique those ways of experiencing reality as this ultimate, I agree with them actually. And so, I take the view, the view is not that this ultimate is more ultimate than that, it’s more like each one of them is really ultimate. Because, you know, reality manifests itself in different ways and each one of them can be experienced as ultimate. That brings in the question of what I call runaway realization, that realization a way continuous revealing, not meaning progressively getting deeper or more free, but different kind of freedom, different kind of awakening. Because reality has many ways it shows itself.

Rick: There are about 20 questions I could ask you based on what you just said, but maybe a real fundamental simple one we should start with is, what is realization? We’re throwing around the term and you just said there could be many flavors of it and so on, but if we had to boil it down to one essential definition, how would you define it?

Hameed: Yeah, so for me realization means being what we truly are, being the truth, the fundamental nature or the spiritual nature, whatever way we, being it in a non-dual way, living it. So, realization I differentiate a little bit from awakening. Awakening meaning you wake up, you realize, “Oh, things are different, I am not what I thought I was.” Realization means you really identify what it is that you are, and not only identify it and discern it clearly, but you’re certain that that’s who you are and you’re really living it, living at that.

Rick: So, most people if you ask them what they are, they’ll say, “Well, I’m Joe, you know, and I live in California and I have this job and I have this family and I have this body and I’m so old,” and they describe all these relative things about themselves, but how would you, you know, but if Joe were a realized being, how would you expect Joe to answer that question instead of the kinds of things I just said?

Hameed: It will depend on which path they are following, you see. That’s one important thing I mentioned in the book, if they happen to be following the Sufi path, they will say, “I realize I am a pure soul that is in union with the divine, that there’s no separation between me and the divine.” If you follow the Vedanta’s path, they’ll say, “I realize that I am pure consciousness and everything is consciousness.” If you’re a Buddhist, you’ll say, “I realize that there is no self, it’s really emptiness, the emptiness of everything is what reality is.” So, to even say, “What I am” doesn’t actually make sense in Buddhism. So, there are many depending, so and I’m saying all of these are valid and each one of them is true realization, is freedom.

Rick: So, would you say that those three descriptions and other ones that we might give are essentially synonymous or identical to one another, they’re just put in different terminology according to the tradition? Because ultimately, if realization is being who you really are, you know, is who a Buddhist really is different than who a Sufi really is or who a Hindu really is, essentially we are all the same ultimate reality, right? Although we might describe it differently.

Hameed: No, I’m saying something different. Which is that in some very mysterious way, we are the same. The way we experience it is different, not the way we describe it. Our experience of it is actually different. The experience of emptiness is different from the experience of pure consciousness. You see, when you experience emptiness, you feel that everything doesn’t really exist. It’s all sort of including one’s nature. One’s nature itself is nonexistence itself. The nonexistence of everything is one’s nature. That is not what Vedanta talks about. Vedanta talks about satchitananda, that we are pure being and pure consciousness and bliss. There are commonalities, experience of emptiness has also bliss, but they wouldn’t say it’s pure being. They say being is really still conceptual. You see, so I think of them as they are all experiences of realization, of awakening, but they are really different ways of experiencing it. And that is one of the main points in the book I’m trying to make, that the different traditions are not just traveling different roads to the same thing. They are not all climbing the same mountain to the top of the mountain. It’s more like when they climb the mountain, they get to the top of the mountain, they see different vistas. There are similarities, a lot of similarities and so it comes out with all of them comes out with love and compassion and humility and all of that. But what they experience to be the essence of reality, there are subtle and people could say philosophical differences, but they are really important distinctions, which is the reason why in history there are debates, like you know between the Vedanta or the Hindu and the Buddha, there have been debates about who’s correct. They didn’t have the debate because they have different ways of seeing it, they really experienced it differently.

Rick: Well that implies to my mind that they are still like the blind man and the elephant, kind of experiencing different aspects of the same thing, but according to their vantage point having a different experience. It’s like five people looking at the same tree but they have different degrees of color blindness or something, and so they are not all having the same experience even though the tree is what it is in and of itself. And actually just to throw on one more thing, I’ve heard it said that according to one’s makeup, and this concurs with what you’re saying, that the reality will be experienced differently by different people. So in Ayurvedic terms for instance, if you had a more Kapha constitution or a more Vata constitution, one person might experience more vastness and one more bliss, and different so-called qualities of the Absolute are experienced in different proportions according to one’s nervous system, according to one’s physiological makeup. And even the Vedic rishis, each had a different kind of slice of the Vedic wisdom that they were capable of cognizing and that other rishis were not capable of cognizing. So they’re all kind of picking out a certain nugget of fundamental reality and giving expression to that.

Hameed: Yes, and that is true, that’s part of what I’m saying, but I’m also saying that is the nature of things. There’s nothing wrong with that, there’s no limitation in the person, it’s just reality just manifest differently in different situations and different people. And also, it is not possible to know all the faces of reality. No one human being can encompass all of it, because it’s infinite. And there are ways of experiencing the nature of reality that nobody has experienced yet, and yet to be experienced. So that’s why I’m saying runaway realization means the discovery continues. Discovery hardly means discovering things already been discovered before, but also may include discovering things that haven’t been discovered before, because of the potential. Because it’s not like at some point we will know the final nature of reality in a complete way and answer the question and we could just stay there. There isn’t the true nature of reality, which we call the true nature of consciousness or awareness or whatever, is always appearing in one way or another. And you can’t say, “Can it appear itself without a face?” And the answer is no. When it appears without a face it’s unrecognizable.

Rick: Would you say that God or reality, whatever term we want to use, actually needs the human being in order to know itself? That we’re like instruments through which reality can know itself and that’s why we exist?

Hameed: That’s another part of the book that I also try to make explicit, which some teachings talk about, some teachings don’t discuss, which is that, yeah, the Sufis for instance, one Sufi saying, you know, Ibn Arabi, well-known, the Sheikh Al-Akbar, the Grand Sheikh, he said, “God needs the soul as much as the soul needs God.” And the idea is the soul needs God to be, to exist, but God needs the soul for God to know what it is. So, the soul is like an organ of perception or a lens for reality, for it to have experience, to know itself. And both are real, they’re two sides of the same thing and we can go into the subtlety of that, you see. And I don’t adhere to the people, don’t believe the people who say the soul or the individual being is an illusion or a construct. I think the construct is taking the individual being and reifying it and giving it a particular form and a historical pattern and all that, saying that will be what’s called the self, but that is not what is the individual being. The individual being is of the very nature of reality. It is like reality itself, the pure consciousness or pure true nature expressing itself as an individual being, like Being becomes a human being, but without losing the fact that it is pure Being.

Rick: Yeah, there are certain Vedantic sayings such as, you know, there’s the snake and string analogy from Shankara and then there’s that verse from the Gita which says, “The unreal has no being, the real never ceases to be.” And often those are taken to do what you just said, to dismiss any relative phenomena as illusory, but you’re saying that in some meaningful way relative phenomena can’t be entirely dismissed as illusory, they have their own intrinsic reality.

Hameed: Yeah, well we were talking about the individual soul or the individual consciousness, not just all phenomena, as a slightly related but not exactly the same topic. So, I’m saying that the individual experience, not only is needed, there isn’t experience without it. How can true nature have any experience of itself or anything else without it? I mean if you have to, if anybody has to claim that, they have to resort to something like the Bible says so, because it cannot be experienced by a person, right? A person is not needed, they say God knows himself independent of human being, Christian theology says that. Maybe, maybe not, we don’t know, but we know from our experience that there’s always the experience of awakening, there’s always a human being involved.

Rick: Yeah, I mean there’s a saying in the Vedas someplace that there’s no Brahman without a knower, in other words that Brahman, the living and the experience of totality isn’t going to happen unless there’s a knower to know it, and that implies some individual structure.

Hameed: Yeah, I would say the Brahman needs the individual for the Brahman to know itself. Brahman is the knower, but it knows through a vehicle, through a manifestation by individualizing itself in time and space to have a context and to have experience, and that way it can realize what it is.

Rick: Which kind of gives you a nice theory for why we even have a universe in the first place. It’s like this whole show is, I mean, maybe it seems kind of anthropomorphic or egocentric or something, but the whole manifestation of the universe seems to have … well, let’s get to your thing here, you talk about the enlightenment drive, and I get the sense that in the enlightenment drive is not just essential to, it’s not just a kind of a drive within us as individuals, but it’s intrinsic to the entire universe. There’s this sort of force of evolution, which we might call the enlightenment drive, that’s just been orchestrating and evolving everything to the point where human beings can have conversations about reality like this, based on living the experience of it.

Hameed: I have the same view, that the enlightenment drive is behind the evolutionary drive, for instance, and how life evolves until life is able to experience things and wonder about it and understand how come it is experiencing things. And so, yeah, but the enlightenment drive appears specifically in human beings at some point as the drive or the need or the longing to know reality, to know God, to know themselves. But it’s always operative in that direction until we recognize it consciously.

Rick: Yeah, would you even say perhaps that all desire is, the enlightenment drive is, fundamental to all desire, desire for a new car, desire for a new partner or something, but one is just kind of seeking a little bit in the wrong direction and one reaches a certain stage at which one recognizes, “Oh, you know, that which I’ve been looking for all over the place, that enlightenment is the thing I want to really find in order to fulfill that quest.”

Hameed: Yeah, and it’s actually part of my teaching, which is not in the book, which is what is the relationship of the enlightenment drive to what I call the instinctual drives, drive for survival, drive for company, drive for sexual pleasure, the main drives in human life, which all desire come from. And of course, those drives emerge in life earlier, you know, like in animals and until human primates, they begin to have the social drive, until we become human and we have all the three drives together, and then there emerges the enlightenment drive, and the enlightenment drive can show itself to be underlying all those drives, and part of the work of any path is how to harmonize those drives, those basic animal instinctual drives, when the enlightenment drive, by showing that there are really fundamental expressions of it. There’s a primitive initial expression, well, to make life happen, to make life survive, to make life, you know, I mean, sexual drive, you know, without sexual drive, there won’t be people after a while. So, nobody, a survival drive, if you don’t survive, nobody will have a chance to find that. So, all that are serving the enlightenment drive, but you know, the usual, the ego self takes them for the ultimate thing, their satisfaction is the purpose of life, and that’s when people get into trouble, they think it’s final, I just need to satisfy, I just need to survive, or I just need to have sexual satisfaction, or I just need to have the right company. If you just stay with that, you stay what’s called a conventional life, and those drives don’t evolve, don’t develop, but when somebody who has their enlightenment drive awakened, it’s part of awakening, the enlightenment drive becomes conscious, and it becomes a drive in our life, and then of course it comes into clash and conflict with those original instinctual drive, with all their desires, until we understand them and harmonize by recognizing at some point that they really were initial expression of that enlightenment drive. Then they become harmonized, so the drive for instance for company, the social drive, becomes we recognize ultimately the drive for intimacy, and intimacy is one way of experiencing our true nature, and the drive for sexuality is ultimately is the drive for union, union with the beloved, the ultimate, and the survival drive is recognizing that it doesn’t make sense not to survive because we are something that doesn’t die. So, if you really understand the survival drive, you realize at some point you want to survive because at the deep level you know you are indestructible.

Rick: That’s very interesting, so it’s like you’re saying you can see faint shadows of the qualities of true nature in the more superficial drives that drive all beings, not only people, I mean squirrels and cows and everything else, that they’re all reflecting qualities as it were of true nature, but when the enlightenment drive really wakes up in a human being, then those qualities are kind of recognized directly, and rather than pursuing shadows, one pursues the thing in a direct way.

Hameed: Yeah, that becomes what’s called the work of actualization, which is not just awakening, but actualizing, to live the awakening, which means to bring those forces which are deep in a human psyche, to bring them in alignment with the awakened condition. So, to serve it, it becomes like energies for practice instead of opposing or distracting forces.

Rick: There’s a lot of talk about that sort of thing these days in contemporary spiritual circles, there’s a lot of people talking about embodiment and some people even specializing in helping people embody their realization and so on. It’s like people went through a phase where there was this, a lot of people were having non-dual realization, but they were running around saying there is no person and kind of negating their humanity. And these days there seems to be a growing popularity to integrate, as you’ve just been saying, our humanity with our sort of non-dual or deeper nature.

Hameed: I’m glad that that’s happening because that’s been my perspective all along, that our humanity is the way our realization expresses itself and how else? But I know, when you are in a non-dual condition, you don’t find a person around, so it’s easy to dismiss the human being and say, “Well, I’m just the Brahman.”

Rick: I’m laughing.

Hameed: Yeah, and it’s true, you are the Brahman fundamentally, but the Brahman always expresses itself through an individual, you still have to go to the bathroom, do things like that.

Rick: I know, I just laughed because I was listening to something recently by Jeff Foster, you may know Jeff Foster, and he was talking about an incident where his brother told him to wash the dishes and he went into this non-dual rap of, “Oh, you’re so ignorant, you don’t understand that I am not a person, you know, and there are no dishes.” And he of course was laughing at himself for having spoken that way, but some people seem to go through that kind of phase.

Hameed: Well, so how do you do the dishes when there are no dishes? How do you become a Zen Ka?

Rick: I guess you just chop wood and carry water, you know, you just do the dishes.

Hameed: Yeah, you do the dishes, although not fundamental, that’s something that’s changing, you know, and maybe reality is more fundamental than that, but still, one has to carry on with that. I mean, that is one thing, for instance, I see the distinction, for instance, between Zen and Vajrayana Buddhism.

Rick: And what? Your audio is breaking up a little bit.

Hameed: Vajrayana Buddhism, they’re both expressions of Mahayana Buddhism, but they really talk about re-capitalization. If you study Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism, they’re all talking about experiencing the pure awareness, which is the fundamental, called the Dharmakaya, or the fundamental nature of things, which is pure, empty, vast awareness, that is the nature of everything. That is the emphasis, and that’s what they try to actualize in Tibetan Buddhism, and Zen, although they know about that, that’s not for them, what’s important for them is what’s the relation of that and everyday life. So, for them, as you said, carrying wood, you know, carrying water, chopping wood, is the expression of that vastness in everyday life. So, that’s for them, so the conjunction between the particular and the formless is for them what is needed to be learned. So, it’s a different kind of emphasis, so as a result it brings different realization, different ways of talking about it, and I find both to be instructive and useful, and they’re different, again, from a Sufi or Christian or Kabbalah, and each one sort of got a correct piece of the pie, let’s say.

Rick: It seems to me that if you’re going to deny the reality of dishes and use that as an excuse for not washing them, in the same breath you’re going to have to deny the reality of food and let yourself starve to death, you know, because the dishes are no less real or more real than the food.

Hameed: Yeah, well, I mean, I agree. I mean, nobody ignores that, I mean, regardless how realized they are. I mean, I know in India sometimes there are gurus who don’t do anything, who are their students, take care of them all the time, right? But they still have to eat, they still have to go to the bathroom, change their clothes, and all of that. They just don’t have the skills to take care of life because they haven’t actualized that part, they haven’t practiced it. They’re just sitting in Samadhi and that’s what they know, but even somebody sitting in Samadhi, you still have to go to the bathroom, regardless of whether the bathroom is real or not.

Rick: Let me come back to my notes here a little bit and talk about something that we started with in this interview. You were talking about the paradox of practice, that realization, and I’ll elaborate a bit on what you said earlier, that realization often happens without being connected with practices. Sometimes it’s spontaneous, people haven’t had any interest in any kind of spiritual thing and they have some profound realization. And other times well, who was it? I forget the guy’s name, some Zen guy, I’ve been told his name, but he was famous for saying, “Enlightenment may be an accident, but spiritual practice makes you accident-prone.” And so there’s this interplay or this question of individual intention and will versus God’s grace. God helps those who help themselves is a famous phrase, and Patanjali says that realization comes most quickly to those who have vehement intensity in their desire for it. So, there are all these kind of points on different sides of the argument.

Hameed: Right, yeah. So, that brings us to discussing what I call the dynamic of realization. What is the dynamic? What happens? So, as we see, you can practice, you can meditate, you can do prayers or centering prayers or chanting or visualization or whatever kind of practice, and if you just do that by itself, much of the time nothing can happen, you know, it might not happen. But, sometimes it does happen, some things open up, and the interesting thing besides the fact that sometimes things happen regardless whether you’re practicing or not, is sometimes when the practice works and you see things happening. In my experience, I realized that even when things happen after practice, there’s something else that made the experience happen. It wasn’t just the practice, like some other force that we could call grace. Without it, the practice wouldn’t work. And because I see, I have seen it many times and that’s why I formulated that part of teaching, is that when the experience happens, I realized something was going on for some time leading to this that I didn’t know about, that wasn’t my own doing that got me into this experience. Some other force was already in charge, and you know, I give different examples in the book, but recognizing that even our own efforts are nothing but the grace itself appearing to ourself as our effort.

Rick: I like that point.

Hameed: You see? Because remember, the individual is an expression of the ultimate, they’re not separate. So, whatever the individual does is the true nature itself functioning, because its enlightenment drive is manifesting, but appearing in us as our will or our dedication, and we can own that will, we can own that dedication, and owning it, it actually becomes one of the obstacles. You know, as many teachers have to give up, you don’t own it, it’s not yours. And when you realize it’s not yours, things open up.

Rick: Interesting. A question came in, let me read a question. “What in your experience is the greatest obscuration to self-realization?” Someone said, “This seems silly for me to ask at the moment. Is there a paradox here in the personal will,” and this is related to what we’re saying, “Is there a paradox here in the personal will versus the will of the One? As I am seeing more and more the arrogance of believing that of myself I can do anything, then the question is, who is it that creates the obscuration, and who or what is removing it? Is it time to just ride the wave and watch how life unfolds itself here on its way to realizing itself, or is there paradoxically an independent will that either works for or against the will of life?” Good question. Go ahead.

Hameed: Yeah, there are many questions in that question. And obviously, the main obstacle, all teachings agree on that, is the belief in and identifying with the separate self. To believe I am a separate independent self that have my own will and my own choices, that is the main obstacle. And it has many aspects and expression of it, you know, desire or attachment, but all amounts to believing that you are a unit in time and space with your own volition, and that you are going to maybe get enlightened or not, or you’re going to accomplish one thing or not. The freedom from that is really the main thing in any kind of awakening. And the question is, it’s an interesting thing, where does the ignorance, where does the delusion come from, right? So, that’s why I think that some non-dual teachers, for instance, they have non-dual experience, but think dualistically by saying, you know, reality is pure consciousness, and if you’re not realized, you are deluded. You have an illusion that you are a separate individual. Well, if you say there’s only consciousness, there’s nothing but, how can there be somebody there who is deluded? It can’t be, you see. And the reality, it is nothing but reality itself that is deluded in that location. Reality itself still hasn’t developed in that location for its illumination to shine bright, to reveal itself. So, reality in all over the universe is, man is evolving. That’s when you bring in the question of evolving. Things are evolving, lives are evolving in different degrees of awareness and luminosity. And part of the stage of development is experiencing reality in a way we call it deluded. And I also have a view of whether ego experience is delusional or not, because many teachings things are deluded. The fact of it, think of it this way, Rick, how many people are deluded in the world?

Rick: Almost all.

Hameed: Almost all.

Rick: By that, you know.

Hameed: According to non-dual truth or fundamental reality, whatever we call it, they’re all expression of the same reality. How can they all be wrong? Why so many of them wrong? So, that’s why I tend to think about it that the ego way of experiencing things as separateness and duality and all of that, is not exactly itself a delusion, it is just one of the ways that reality appears. Believing that is the true way and that’s the only way is the delusion. But it is one of the ways reality appears is dualistic.

Rick: How about if we look at it this way, that as we were saying earlier, if the universe arose in order to eventually produce beings who could become living embodiments of reality and, you know, breathing, thinking, talking, loving, speaking, eating, embodiments of reality, then those beings didn’t evolve overnight, either physically or as souls. And so there was going to have to be a developmental process, and you’re not going to have enlightened amoebas oozing around, you have to have more complex life forms before you can actually have anything that we would meaningfully call enlightenment. And so it’s necessary, just in a developmental sense, for there to be various degrees and stages of ignorance, if we can trust ignorance with enlightenment, in which one is deluded or seeing only dimly, what was that verse in the Bible “through a glass, darkly,” you know, and that one isn’t going to go from Neanderthal man to the Buddha in one snap, it’s going to have to be a developmental process and you get closer and closer to the point at which the enlightenment drive becomes conscious.

Hameed: Yeah, so I agree with you, that sounds like a good way of looking at things, but I think of it as a way of looking at things. I’m not saying that’s not the only way.

Rick: One way of explaining it.

Hameed: It’s a good way of explaining it, it’s useful, that is what I call the progressive or the hierarchical way of looking at things, like things are evolving and developing until reality, until life can become sentient and look at itself and recognize what the hell is happening. So, that is one way and it is one of the major ways in most teachings that we do it. However, if you look at it from the perspective of reality itself, reality itself is not sitting there judging, “This is primitive, this is advanced, this is just manifesting itself one way, this way, now as an amoeba, now as a human being, now as an enlightened human.” It’s always the same reality manifesting itself that way and it itself doesn’t say one is more developed than the other, it’s just different ways of it manifesting itself. That is another way of seeing it.

Rick: Yeah, and I don’t think that the way you just said and the way I just said are actually contradictory, they’re both true.

Hameed: Yeah, I’m just saying they’re different ways, each one of them has its usefulness. And the way I’m mentioning it, that reality is always reality, right?

Rick: How can it be other?

Hameed: And to call it deluded is from a certain perspective or a certain other experience, but when it is happening it is what is happening. And I’m saying this because this is actually what happens when realization becomes established and certainty is there and comfort and when so established in realization you don’t care in what state you are in. And then what happens is that whatever it is, it is the truth. Whatever is happening, you see. You don’t need to be seeing neon light for you to be enlightened. So having your cup of tea is the same thing as being the vastness of Brahman. The mind doesn’t compare the two.

Rick: Yeah, and there too it’s not an either or situation. You can be the vastness of Brahman while enjoying your cup of tea, right?

Hameed: Yeah, you can be both or one and then the other, it doesn’t matter. So the progressive way, the evolution is a very useful way, in fact it helps one understand things and put things in a certain order. It makes sense to our human mind. But if you think of reality, it’s not just human. If you take the human way of looking at it and just leave it to reality, it just keeps transforming from one way or another.

Rick: Yeah, I suppose another way of

Hameed: All of them are real, all of them are reality.

Rick: Another way of putting it might be that reality isn’t becoming more real. Reality itself isn’t progressing and becoming realer and realer, it is what it is. But we as appreciators of reality, as livers of reality, can continually enhance our capacity to do that.

Hameed: Yeah, and we can say, like certain ways of reality manifesting itself has suffering more than other ways. Some of the ways that people call the conventional deluded way is really reality manifesting itself, but manifesting itself in a way that has a lot of suffering. Other ways it manifests itself, it has more bliss.

Rick: Which is a very good point, because some people take the point you just made, “Oh, everything is real just as it is,” and use that as an alibi for not having any spiritual aspirations whatsoever. “Why should I bother everything is real just as it is?” But as far as you are concerned as a living being, there are qualitative differences and it could be a lot more enjoyable if you were living a life without suffering.

Hameed: Well, I mean that’s what I said. What I just said, the view, the non-hierarchical view, which is whatever any moment, whatever it is, is reality. That one can be in that place after going through the whole path. You cannot do it at the beginning when you’re still just in one condition. You’re not free to go to the other conditions. So, the other condition, when you say everything, there is a freedom, anything can happen. One day is Brahman, the next day is Shiva, the next day is the Divine, the next day is Sunyata. All this happens. Well, if you haven’t done the practices, you’re only staying as this individual who is striving to be successful in life. That’s it, you’re limited. So, while they all sound the same, one has lots of limitations and the other one doesn’t have the limitations.

Rick: Yeah, and here’s a little quote from your book that relates just to what you said. You said, “We have to experience and understand and embody all kinds of spiritual dimensions and all kinds of enlightenment in order to be free and to accept our everyday ordinariness without it having to be anything else.”

Hameed: Yeah, and that’s really the freedom. But, we can’t do that until we know lots of things. We know I have to see spiritual lights, consciousness, awareness, emptiness, and all of those have to be realized and you have to live them. You know, they have and in fact by studying some of the traditions, you know, I noticed that and rarely mentioned in the text usually, but it’s usually towards the end or some people mention them and that the masters actually that’s how they live. They don’t care what state they’re in. It’s not that they’re always in bliss or even being in bliss or not is not relevant at some point. And that is a kind of freedom, you see. It’s the freedom that the enlightenment drive has fulfilled its function. So, life or being is free to unfold in whichever way. In other ways the revelation of our potential becomes loosened, becomes free to actualize itself. While in the limited way, the first way of experiencing things that people come from, we could say, “Well, I don’t need to do anything.” No, the fact is that you haven’t actualized yet. You can’t actualize in that condition. Much of the potential is not yet actualized. The other way, although it sounds the same, it’s ordinary, but the potential is free to actualize itself.

Rick: Yeah, here’s a couple points that relate to that. Well, here’s a point from your book. You said, “Realization is not the end of practice. Practice is the ceaseless orientation toward reality.” And when I read that, I was sort of thinking about the type of Master that you were just describing, who in a way is resting on his laurels. There’s been such a profound degree of realization that the kind of effort and diligence and striving and so on that are often associated with the word “practice” are not relevant to his experience. He’s just living that reality and is in a state of freedom regardless of what happens. But you say that practice never ends, and so if practice never ends, does practice kind of change its quality where it becomes so automatic that it’s completely spontaneous and one doesn’t feel that one is doing anything in particular, but there’s just a deeply ingrained habit, kind of like the way when you learn to ride a bicycle and it just becomes second nature after a while and you don’t think about balancing.

Hameed: Sort of like that. It’s more like practice becomes the expression of realization instead of the other way around. Realization becomes the ground from where practice comes. So, practice becomes orientation about life, interest in the truth, and being authentic and openness and all that, not forgetting that, recognizing and becoming spontaneous naturally that way. And also, not only that, the great masters, they continue to meditate to their usual disciplined practices. They don’t stop.

Rick: Is that just to set an example or is that to actually gain some benefit themselves or both?

Hameed: Because that is how their realization wants to express itself, to continue to, because and also, nobody finishes the actualization. Actualization is an endless process of being more and more what you are. Even the greatest masters who are enlightened and they are themselves haven’t seen everything about reality. Can’t see everything. So, continual practice means you keep seeing more of reality, not because you need to, but you love to.

Rick: It’s the enlightenment driving again.

Hameed: Yeah, that’s life.

Rick: Moving you on.

Hameed: Yeah, that becomes your life, greater, more discovery, different kind of ways, creativity and seeing things and expressing yourself and all that.

Rick:I think we have to keep coming back to the idea, to reminding ourselves that we’re not just talking about individuals realizing something, we’re talking about total true reality or Being realizing itself through its expressions. So, why would it want to stop? Or why would it want to say, “Okay, that’s enough, I’ve realized enough through this expression, there couldn’t possibly be any more.” As long as the expression is living and breathing, there could be the possibility of some further refinement.

Hameed: Exactly, further refinement, not just refinement, new discoveries.

Rick: New discoveries, yeah.

Hameed: Because the fundamental truth is so mysterious, indeterminate, it can appear so many ways and each one of them is greater illumination or different kind of illumination, let’s put it that way. It illuminates different angles, different things, and it shows different possibility, different capacity. You know, you could be a realized master but not know how to talk to students intelligently, for instance.

Rick: There have been some.

Hameed: There have been many.

Rick: I mean, obviously, even among the contemporary spiritual teachers, we see quite a wide range of capabilities in terms of clarity of expression.

Hameed: Yeah, and so that control practice will hone those skills, that’s part of it. Because the skills need time to develop.

Rick: My dog is down here seeing a squirrel and making little noises. Okay, here’s something I like, slight change of topic from what we were just discussing. You said, “Discernment, discrimination, understanding, love, intelligence have to mature because practice uses these faculties.” I kind of like that, I’d like you to elaborate on that a little bit.

Hameed: Yeah, so, for practice to really happen, to mature, as you said, practice involves being able to focus, to concentrate without distraction, being able to discern what arises, and clarity meaning that we see what we see without the prejudices of our previous beliefs and ideas. And these don’t only just become liberated, first they become liberated from the influences of the past and then there is a process of maturation because we’re talking about capacities, faculties. So, these faculties don’t just open up all at once, it’s just like exercising a muscle, it gets better and better and better. So, these are faculties that the more they are developed, not only they help our practice, because practice relies on all of those, it relies on concentration, discernment, clarity, and steadiness and all that, but also they’re instrumental in our expressing our realization, our life, expressing what we are, you know, in our work, in our relationship, our movement, and our interactions, and what we put out to the world. We can express it more effectively, more efficiently, more heartfully, more intelligently, and so all those, and this is a process of development that all teachers are in process of development. As you notice, teachers mature, they don’t stay the same.

Rick: That’s true.

Hameed: Yeah, they get better and some of them don’t, some of them continue saying the same thing. See? And some mature and develop, you can see there’s more maturation, there’s more simplicity, or more directness, or more precision, all kind of ways it can develop, or more heartfulness, or more practicality, all of that, all those ways that, because these are the development of the individual consciousness itself and the human being, because Being itself or true nature itself doesn’t develop, it has different ways of being, but the instrument develops, the body and mind develop.

Rick: It almost seems there’s a correlation between the teachers who continue to say the same things and those who, in their philosophy, say that this realization is all there is, once one has had a kind of fundamental non-dual realization, what more could there be? And it seems that if one gets locked into that concept it tends to result in stagnation in terms of their expression, not evolving significantly over time. Whereas those who say, “Whoa, this is a great milestone, but there seems to be more,” they continue to evolve in their expressions.

Hameed: Yeah, continue to be more in terms of what I can be and more in terms of how I can express it, how I can live it, in both sides of it.

Rick: Would you say that what you were just saying about developing faculties being useful in terms of living and expressing reality, would that include even conventional education? You know, I mean getting a really good education in physics or literature or whatever you’re attracted to.

Hameed: Yeah, that includes that and that way hooking into what people know or what people are learning in the present time and using that language as bridges. So, sometimes I use the language of science, sometimes I use the language of philosophy, different kind of ways that help people connect because you know, spiritualization is a very subtle thing. It’s sort of seeing the invisible and if you just keep telling the person, “You’re the Self, you just need to know that you are the Self,” you know, it doesn’t do much for most people. For most people, you know, I’m having trouble with my life, first I want to deal with that, I can’t get my mind off that. So, you have to help them how to get their mind off that problem before they can listen to and appreciate saying, “You are the Self,” and that’s a skill, you see, not everybody has.

Rick: How does that compare with, you know, “Speak ye first the kingdom of heaven and all else shall be added unto thee,” in other words that tapping into the deeper reality will help to sort out all your relative problems.

Hameed: And another way, it’s true, some people have the realization phase, that brings in what are the stages, there’s realization, there’s actualization. Some teachings say first there is realization and then actualization happens after that. Some people say first actually in the sense you mature and then the fruit of that is realization. And my path is more like they go hand in hand, they’re intertwined. The more realization, the more actualization they go. So, yeah, there are different ways that the path do it.

Rick: I think the intertwined thing actually makes more practical sense because it’s very unlikely that you’re going to have completely realization to the extent that realization can be had and then once that’s finished you’re going to start integrating it. It would seem to me that you take a step of realization, a step of integration, a step of realization, a step of integration, and it just kind of keeps developing that way over time.

Hameed: I think that’s how it happens to most people, but it does happen sometimes that people have big realization and it takes them a long time to integrate it.

Rick: Yeah, sometimes they can’t function for a couple of years.

Hameed: Some of them don’t function for a while. I mean you probably hear the story of Meher Baba for instance.

Rick: What was the story?

Hameed: He couldn’t function, he was sort of unconscious and he needed help from other masters how to function in the world.

Rick: Yeah, there are a lot of stories like that actually. You know, Amma, the so-called hugging saint, she went through a phase where she would just fall down in samadhi and be lying on the ground, you know, and just be unable to speak or do anything and you know it took a while to develop the

Hameed: Yeah, so that happened, so we don’t want to discount that, even though the intertwined one seemed to happen most.

Rick: Most commonly, yeah. Here’s another little tidbit from your book, “We practice without a particular goal because having a goal implies we know what is supposed to happen next.”

Hameed: Yeah, so you can second-guess God.

Rick: But then again people read all these books and they get all these ideas which become goals, they think, “Oh, well this experience is possible and this state is possible,” and so on. So, you can’t help but have those things in the back of your mind as possibilities.

Hameed: Yeah, and that’s true and that’s part of the danger of writing about these things or talking about them. But I’m referring actually more about many teachings who have a particular goal. They said, “Our goal is Shunyata, our goal is Brahman, our goal is union with God,” and the person is feeling they have… that’s where they need to go. So, you’re putting it in your mind and I’m saying, if you do it that way, that becomes a barrier after a while.

Rick: Yeah.

Hameed: Yeah, that becomes an obstacle and not only becomes an obstacle because you’re trying to make things happen, where trying to make things happen is standing in God’s way in some sense or trying to twist God’s arms and because also you don’t know what’s the next thing to happen. So, how can you try to force it to happen that way when the next moment is unknowable? Not only that, but having a goal implies the belief that reality is going to be that way.

Rick: Yeah.

Hameed: Finally, and that will be the end. When my view is that, “No, all the goals are true as manifestations of reality,” and it for you might be a different one, not the one you have in mind.

Rick: Perhaps we could use science as a nice metaphor here, where a scientist, if he pursues his goal, his research with very specific discovery in mind that he knows he has to make, who knows, I mean, chances are he’ll just waste his time. Even like an archaeologist who goes out and thinks, “I am going to find this particular kind of dinosaur by digging around in the dirt.” Rather he would have the attitude of, “Yeah, there’s probably dinosaurs in this area, I’ll dig around and see what comes up and I don’t have any idea what it might be.”

Hameed: Yeah, and there are many stories how things have been discovered in science by some kind of accident or mistake.

Rick: Yeah, yeah. Penicillin was discovered that way, it was a total accident.

Hameed: Yeah, it’s like, again, about the practice in grace, you need to do the work, however, at some point you need to be free from that goal of doing the practice for grace to have a chance to break through.

Rick: Well, actually, you brought up penicillin, it brings up an interesting example because as I recall, the guy who discovered penicillin, this mold kept growing in his petri dishes and it was ruining his experiments and he kept thinking, “How am I going to deal with this mold?” And then he realized eventually that, “Oh, this mold has very interesting properties.” So there could be things coming up in our experience as a spiritual practitioner which we might consider obstacles but which might actually be very useful areas for exploration.

Hameed: Oh, yeah, that happened to me, myself for my first discovery of presence, what I call presence, which is an important part of my teaching. At the beginning, I didn’t know, it was arising in me in some kind of way, I said, “What’s this thing happening in my body?” It’s like I thought it was tension or pressure or something and I was trying to sort of get rid of it. I was getting headaches and all that, I thought was a problem. It took me a while to recognize, “No.” When I didn’t try to get rid of it, when I didn’t try to make it go away or change it, it showed itself as this luminous kind of presence.

Rick: Interesting. That kind of gets us to a point of trust. This takes us back to something we were talking about earlier about grace, where if you have a trust in a kind of a higher intelligence, if you want to call it that, which has our best interest in mind and which is helping to guide our process, then you can perhaps be more accepting of things which come up and see the potential value in them rather than seeing them as obstacles.

Hameed: Yeah, like you see them as having a potential value or as everything is a conduit, can be seen as a conduit, like a wormhole to another way of experiencing.

Rick: Nice. Okay, here’s another tidbit from your book, “The view of totality can hold both dual and non-dual perspectives simultaneously by being outside both of them,” or I put in my own parentheses, “or by containing both of them. It holds all views, known and unknown. When we fully understand this view, we don’t need to stick to any particular view, yet we can take a particular view without having to adhere to it as final.”

Hameed: Yeah, so that’s more letting Being operate spontaneously without us making the choice of how it should operate, you see. And part of the freedom of being, what I call dynamism of being, the fact that Being or true nature, even saying Being, I’m trying to, people can take it as a fixed way, that being means your being, your existence. I’m using being in a more general way just to refer to whatever this nameless thing, right, is that the freedom of being to reveal itself in our personal experience, a lot of it has to do with our view of reality, because there is the conventional view of reality, everybody believes in. There is a non-dual view of reality, being non-dual, everything is an expression of the same consciousness. And I’m saying these are actually views and if you’re really confident, if you have true trust in Being and its goodness, you don’t need to hold a view. You don’t need to adhere to it as this is the view of what is real and I have to sort of believe it. You take it as that’s what’s useful now and reality might change tomorrow or the next month and reveal a different view and operate through a different view.

Rick: So, you’re saying that you’re going to have views but you’re just not going to be rigid about them.

Hameed: Yeah, the idea is that views are useful because you operate in the world from all the same perspective, a certain view. So, views are part of reality. Each state has its view. Each state, if you stay in it for a while, it has its view, its way of looking at things. But the idea is not to be rigid but to be fluid, to allow our mind not needing to fix, not needing to believe in something. So, not believe in something as has to be that way. I don’t mean not believing that it can happen that way, but it can happen that way but doesn’t have to happen that way. So, the freedom of view, there’s a freedom of fluidity of experience.

Rick: I’ve heard that as a definition of humility actually, the quality of not insisting that things happen any particular way and you can apply it not only to happenings but to beliefs and views, you know, not insisting that my particular perspective is the right one and everybody else’s wrong or inferior.

Hameed: Yeah, you’re right. I mean that’s what happens actually, unfortunately, many of the spiritual teachings, even the great tradition, they believe they got it and the other traditions sort of partial or maybe a little approximation. No, they even say it, even the great masters. And I think taking that view, taking one view and saying that’s it is the beginning of fundamentalism. That’s how fundamentalism begins. Even though it’s an enlightened place, if you say it has to be that way, then you’re excluding others, other ways of being it. And by excluding them, you’re turning to become fundamentalist because you have to stick to that particular way.

Rick: Yeah, I think this is actually a very deep point and it’s germane to a lot of the stuff you discuss in your book because if we think of ourselves as sort of individual lenses through which we have a vision of reality, a taste of reality, and there could be many other tastes, then obviously each lens is going to have its own perspective. But if we take a God’s eye view of things, then at least conceptually we can understand that a God’s eye view is going to contain every perspective that might possibly exist and harmonize them all, you know, contain them all comfortably without any conflict or difficulty.

Hameed: Yeah, and it is part of certain realization that makes that more possible. And that’s why I bring in in the book view of totality, which means the view that allows any view, all views, and open to them. But I bring in what I call total being. It’s not just being, total being. And I bring in that, I use that language because for two reasons that are really important for us to go over. One reason is that when people talk about being or consciousness, they think of everything now and they think of the now, this moment. Everything I experience now, I am everything, right? I am the totality of this being, right? I am everything and I’m thinking in the now and that although it is the usual classical mystical experience of the oneness of being or the non-duality of consciousness, it is still excludes other times, excludes the experiences of other times. Total being is recognizing that the unity, not just in space but also in time.

Rick: Well I think that those who emphasize on the now would argue that there are no other times. You know, there never is a future, there never is a past, you can’t step one second into the future or one second into the past. The future and past and time itself are kind of concepts and that all there is is the eternal now. How would you respond to that?

Hameed: That is the non-dual view and I understand that when I experience it, but I also know another way, another way that other traditions have talked about. I don’t know if you read Dogen Zenji, Zen master, founder of Soto Zen. He has a teaching called Uji which means being time. He says, “There’s only the moment, but the moment is all being.” Right? But being is all time, so this moment is all times. So for him, being and time, he makes being time. So people think of being as extended in space, he thinks being extended in space and time. So he doesn’t eliminate time, it is always now, but this now contains all the nows of all other moments. Because think of it, if you are in the presence of the now, right now, right? Yesterday you were also in the now. Is that now different from this now?

Rick: Same now.

Hameed: It’s the same now. That means this now contains yesterday’s moment. So this moment contains yesterday’s moment. If you look at it that way, you begin to have an experience that I’m not only all things in the world, I’m all things at all times. So you can … so the non-dual becomes what I call total being, which means being that doesn’t only contain everything in the moment, but contains everything at all moments, at all moments for all experiencing individuals. It’s a different kind of unity, it’s a more expanded unity that doesn’t say it’s true, there is no other moment. In fact, Dogen himself says, “This moment is cut off from other moments, it doesn’t have a past, it doesn’t have a future.” The way he says that is not because there are no other moments, all other moments are included in this moment. They’re not negated, they are negated as a sequence.

Rick: My most popular

Hameed: And as such, as are they all now?

Rick: My most popular interview was with a woman named Anita Morjani, who had this really profound near-death experience, and she said that what she cognized when she had this near-death experience is that all of our past lives and all are not something that happened in the past, we’re actually living them simultaneously in the now, and that somehow as individuals we just create this filter which gives us a sense of linearity with time, but that actually time is not so linear.

Hameed: That’s one consequence of understanding time. So, this realization of total being, it brings time back into the timelessness and has timelessness and time together. Where timelessness includes time, they don’t exclude each other. So, when you have both time and timelessness, then Being is truly free of time. Because if Being is only timeless, it is dependent on the negation of time. However, if Being doesn’t negate time, neither affirm it, there is time and timelessness and Being contains both. So, I can be timeless or can be in time or can be timeless and I’m aware of time passing.

Rick: At the same time.

Hameed: It doesn’t pass on me, it passes in all phenomena, all phenomena is changing. But Being itself, time doesn’t pass because time is within it. So, it always feels now, in fact for me, I don’t feel now anymore. I used to feel now, I just don’t feel time. To say now, I’m only also relating it to time. When you’re free of time, there is no now, there isn’t even a sense of this moment. Things are much more fluid than that. I’m aware of time, I’m aware of clock time, I can look at my watch and I know time is coming close to finish talking about something, all this awareness is there, but my sense of myself, I’m independent of time. Independent of time, but I can also experience myself the way I was 10 years ago.

Rick: So, when you say you’re independent of time, you don’t just mean that there’s a kind of timeless awareness that persists while temporal events roll along, you’re also saying that, well, like you just said, you can experience yourself the way you were 10 years ago, or maybe 20, 30, 40 years ago. You’re saying that somehow those times are contained within your perspective, within your awareness.

Hameed: Yeah, yes, I am saying that, but I’m also saying I don’t experience myself as timeless awareness. I experience myself where the idea of time or timelessness don’t apply, because I’m free from the concept of time. If you’re free of the concept of time, you don’t talk about timelessness. So, you’re still using the word time, the concept of time. So, true freedom from the concept, the whole notion of time, is I can be timeless, I can be in time, can have both together, or the usual thing, which I’m neither of those. I mean, I can think about them, they happen, I can experience them, what do they have to do with me?

Rick: Is time nothing but a concept? Einstein talked about space-time, and you’re a physicist and so you understand this better than I do, but it sounds like he was talking about space and time as being kind of the fabric of creation, and it seems to my mind to have given it some kind of fundamental reality, as opposed to just a human concept.

Hameed: Okay, that’s a good question, Rick, about time-space. It brings back Kant, Immanuel Kant, and he talks about the categories of experience, and he said there are categories of thought and there are a priority category that’s always there, and one of them, time and space, he thought they’re always there, you can’t have experience without them. So, he thought they are made by God, that’s what he, what Newton actually believed, time and space made by God. So, the way I think of time and space, they are concepts, but they are concepts in the mind of Being, they are not concepts created by human beings, although human beings can use them, utilize them, and sort of reify them and make them more concrete, more linear, but the fact is that manifestation appears as extended in space and it seems to change, and we recognize that, we recognize the fundamental concept, what I call basic concepts that are inherent in being, you know, it’s not a human creation. But it is conceptual in the sense you can go beyond them.

Rick: That brings up a whole kettle of fish which might be interesting to get into about, you know, because you do talk, there’s a whole chapter in your book about non-conceptuality and all, and maybe we want to touch upon that, but let me throw in a few questions here, some nice questions came in from viewers watching the live stream. Here’s one, he said, “I’ve been engaging with a varied spiritual practice for the last 15 years, including the Diamond Approach, and have, in the last few years, seen the fallacy of practicing in an ego-driven way, picking up more experiences, efforting, and so-called progressing. However, I now feel in a bit of a no-man’s land, no impetus to practice, and nowhere to go. How does one practice without practicing?”

Hameed: Well, first of all, it’s important to really follow a path, make a path be more central. It’s okay to practice many paths as long as one of them is the central one, because you need to go deep into it for it to really bear its fruits, right? And so, and practicing without practicing, that’s what they call motiveless practice. Motiveless practice, practice always motiveless, however, human beings, as we practice, we don’t know that. First, motivation is that we heard about it, we hear it can be enlightened, you see people and you admire them and you want to, you know, attain their kind of freedom, their kind of luminosity. So, you have a motivation of practice because you want to accomplish that and then the motivation can become more closer to you. You might feel the enlightenment drive itself as the drive to practice, which at some point can become a longing to be a reality or to be one with reality, or at some point you can become really loving to find out what is the truth. That becomes a motivation, right? So, the motivation gets subtler and subtler until you are the true nature Itself. From the perspective of true nature Itself, as it continues to practice, it has no motive. It is its expression. It is not practicing because of this or that, it’s a spontaneous intelligence, it appears as practicing. And turns out, we’re always from the beginning doing it that way, however, being in this vast compassion appeared in us as interest, as love, as longing, all that. That is already the enlightened drive, but the enlightened drive is just a drive, it’s not a motive. But people, so practicing without practice means learning to be free from the motivation but continue to practice.

Rick: That might sound kind of contradictory to people, but I understand what you’re saying. Perhaps we could put a fine point on it by saying that when one is very much egocentric in one’s perspective, then one usurps or attributes to oneself a motivation which is really much deeper than the individual drive. It’s the enlightenment drive, as you say, which is a universal force, and we misappropriate it and say, “Oh, this is my drive.” But then as we mature, it seems that this sense of my drive is dropping off and one might wonder, “Am I losing my motivation? Am I becoming disinterested in this stuff?” Whereas in fact, it’s just more of a relaxing into allowing the reality of what’s been happening all along, which is that the kind of universal enlightenment drive has been running the show.

Hameed: Yeah, yeah, that’s a good way of saying, and one of the transition points there is coming to a place where you feel there’s no interest. There is a sense of neutrality, not interested in anything, but if you’ve done, if you arrived at that place by practicing diligently for a long time, that is a real place. It’s a transition to freedom. It feels like no interest, but what it turns out to be is that you don’t need anything. You’re feeling you don’t need anything. So, it appears at the beginning as a disinterest and not knowing what to do, while after a while it’s like, “You know, I’m practicing not because I need something, I’m practicing because that’s how I’m expressing myself.”

Rick: Yeah, and I imagine you’re really expressing your own experience here, whereas there must have been times in your earlier years where there was this very driven, desperate sense of seeking, and “I need this, and I’m suffering, and I want to get out of suffering,” and yada, yada. But these days, I mean you live and breathe this stuff all the time, but it’s more like just a sort of an adventure and exploration without the desperate individual cravings attached to it.

Hameed: You’re right. There was a time, you know, intense desire, intense focus, and desperation sometimes, and frustration, and disappointment, and all that, and that’s part of the path. One has to go through that, you see. And then at some point, when we are more in the condition of realization, it’s like it’s easy, and it’s not just easy, it’s the spontaneous thing that you practice. And also practice has two kinds. There is a formal practice, which is you do your usual practice, which is chanting, or sitting meditation, or it is a visualization, or prayer, where you do it regularly as you’ve always done it before. Some enlightened masters even do it more afterwards. And there is the practice of just the way we live our life. The way we live our life, we are expressing our realization, and by expressing it faithfully, is practice. So, practice is all the time. Not just this formal practice, and the informal practice, which is just whatever happens. The way we are being, the way we are responding, the way we are interacting, is really a practice, because even that you’re expressing yourself, you’re honing your skills as you’re living your life. You’re honing your skill, and you’re allowing your true nature to come out more fully, but in newer and novel ways that are necessary for the new situations.

Rick: Yeah, good. Well, I hope we’ve satisfied that question. Let me ask another one that came in. Could you say something more about how all times, and this is what we were talking about earlier, about how all times are here and now. I can relate to non-locality in terms of in regards to space, but time, how can that actually be? What is it like to experientially realize timelessness?

Hameed: Yeah, you know, non-locality is something they even have in physics. They call it entanglement, about how two parts are far away, they know about each other, although there is no time has passed for them to communicate, so they’re called entangled. So, they are like they’re operating as if they are in the same place.

Rick: Right, but they’re many light years apart.

Hameed: Right, and they’re finding out now that there are wormholes connecting them. Wormholes in time space, that’s what they’re finding. But what’s a wormhole? A wormhole in time space means there’s no time and space in the wormhole. Since there’s a wormhole between them, they’re sort of right on top of each other, although it appears in time as if they are very far apart. But in the wormhole, they’re right there next to each other. So, that’s called non-locality. But they’re finding out, their point I’m bringing here, they’re finding out in physics there’s non-locality in time, not just in space. Like something happened in the past can be entangled with something in the present, something in the present can be entangled or connected with something in the future. Meaning, the time between them, the distance of time is also eliminated. There’s wormholes between them. So, there’s a wormhole in time. And Einstein actually did, Einstein’s wormholes are in time space-time, not just in space. That is really similar to the kind of realization I’m talking about of total being, where you’re experiencing first there’s a movement from time to now, to nowness, and then there’s a move from nowness to timelessness. And there’s a movement of timelessness to no time. And then in no time, you realize all time is here. No time, because I am outside of time, I hold all of time. So, it’s a subjective feeling, which can’t be meted out. So, it’s subjective and it says this is a feeling. And that’s the part about this I forgot to say again, which is the role of the individual. We talked about how the individual expresses the formless. In this condition, the individual not only expresses the formless and the fastness, it contains the vastness. The particular individual, you as a particular individual actually contain the whole universe. If you have that realization, you realize you’re not only expressing the whole universe, the whole universe is in you without you getting bigger.

Rick: Yeah, actually I have a note here that I was going to ask you about from your book. You said each part contains the whole, the individual is the whole universe and contains all space and time, exactly what you’ve been saying. And maybe we can just probe into that just a little bit, because Being, you could say, Being is not compartmentalized. If my fist is essentially Being, then is it just a tiny bit of being? Or if Being is infinite and all-pervading, then what is within the totality of Being has to also be within the Being that’s occupied by my fist. Does that make sense?

Hameed: Yeah, and that is actually seen by many people. One of them is William Blake when he says, “The whole universe is a flower on great sand.”

Rick: Yeah, what is it? The eternity in an hour, infinity in a wildflower, eternity in an hour.

Hameed: Yeah, and the universe in a grain of sand.

Rick: Right, so it’s literal, it’s not just poetic.

Hameed: It’s not metaphorical, that the whole universe expresses itself as a grain of sand. The grain of sand, it is a kind of realization, it is getting into consciousness and through nature and seeing some of its deeper properties. Its deeper properties is like it is inherently a wormhole to everything. It’s a time-space-space-time wormhole. It’s connecting all objects to the same object. It’s like each object, because it’s open to everything else, its openness is free of the concept of time and space. So everything sort of collapses into it in some sense you could say. Without it collapsing, it is still vast but within the particular. It’s a kind of realization and it is sort of counterintuitive, it’s difficult to sort of believe that because it’s easier to think of the being as extended and vast, and it is extended and vast, but in this kind of realization, the infinite and the finite are within each other. Like the finite contains the infinite, which is counterintuitive, but that’s what happens in this realization.

Rick: I find it more intuitive than counterintuitive.

Hameed: It contains the infinite of space but the infinite of time too.

Rick: Yeah, I find it more intuitive than counterintuitive, it really makes sense. And it’s like maybe the phrase “infinite correlation” would be handy here, where every point of creation is directly correlated with every other point of creation, because every point of creation contains the whole creation. And that could explain non-locality. I mean, how does this particle over here communicate with this particle on the other side of the galaxy? Well, they’re directly connected, directly correlated, not separated by a hundred thousand light years.

Hameed: Yeah, so the spiritual correlated non-locality, you could say. I was actually talking to some scientists a few days ago in a conference, and I was telling them, they wanted me to talk to them about consciousness. So, non-consciousness, that consciousness has quantum features in the sense it is characterized by total non-locality in time and space. Like everything in time and space interpenetrates. The word interpenetrate is the classical, some Chinese philosophy a few hundred years ago, they call it interpenetration, that everything interpenetrates each other. Not an expression of the same thing. They really are the same thing. Plotinus, you know, the father of Neoplatonism, the Greek Plotinus, said each soul, soul is indivisible. Your soul is not separate from others. Your soul has all the other souls in it. He said the star has all the stars in it.

Rick: Interesting.

Hameed: It’s in the Enneads, you can read in the Ennead. He said the planet has the whole universe in it. And people don’t know that Plotinus actually said that.

Rick: That’s very cool. And there are all sorts of, I mean, this isn’t just abstract philosophy. I think that there are, I don’t know if I could articulate them all, but I think that there are real practical implications of this for our lives as, you know, awakened or awakening beings. It somehow comes right down to something that is significant in our daily living experience.

Hameed: It’s for learning. It’s really, really handy for learning. If you really establish or have an access to this place of non-locality, when you realize you have access, because all times and you have access, you can learn from others directly. Like people tell me, “Did you study Shankara?” I do, I did, but when I study Shankara, I actually get into the mind of Shankara. I go to the time Shankara was experiencing himself and experiencing him the way he experienced himself at that time. And that is not possible if you don’t have this non-locality. You see? So, I’m not just remembering, I’m actually stepping into the shoes of somebody. You could do it by stepping in the shoes of somebody else right now. In fact, it’s very useful for a relationship. You can know what the other person, where they are coming from, what they’re feeling, by feeling them from inside.

Rick: That’s very cool. I actually have a friend for whom this is not only a knowing thing but a visual thing. If he goes into a deep state and tunes into Abraham Lincoln, he sees Abraham Lincoln wandering around in the Oval Office or sees Jesus Christ preaching or something. And this might seem far-fetched, but it’s a very vivid thing. It’s not just a vivid imagination. He feels like he’s really crossing across time and tuning into an actual cognition of that individual.

Hameed: So, he has that access. You see? So, it’s all potential for us, because each human being, we are the whole universe in all its times. So, it’s a question of developing the access. The access is not easy. There need to be a maturation and development in many capacities and openness and being free from all the beliefs and ideas and the limits that we put on ourselves for what is reality. And so, that’s why I’m saying expressing realization, practice continues, because we never finish with these potentialities. So, nobody still has developed the capacity to locate themselves physically at any time they want to be. But it is potential for us, see? We can do it with our minds, with our conscience. And some people learn by locality or something like that. You heard about that? Some people can.

Rick: Sure, yeah, like Don Juan and Carlos Castenadas Books.

Hameed: It does happen, but it is really a potential for us.

Rick: There’s a comedian named Stephen Wright and he said, “I went into a restaurant and it said breakfast served anytime.” He said, “Okay, I’ll have French toast during the Renaissance.”

Hameed: Yeah, why not? Yeah.

Rick: So, here’s another question for you that came in. “What is driving reality to manifest in all these different ways?” Short, simple question.

Hameed: Yeah, so that’s a question that many people ask, “Why is it that way?” Especially people ask the question that way when they are frustrated in their practice. “Why is it like this? Why do I have to do this?” That’s one reason. “Why does God design the world this way?” Right? And usually my answer, “Well, different traditions give you different stories.” Right? “Why it happened that way?” The way I see it, first of all, I don’t know if I have an answer for it. I don’t know if I have a final answer. I probably have a different answer at a different time. But the way I see it now is that that is the nature of reality, to be that way. The nature of reality is not that it is a mystery, but it is a creative mystery. It is always creating, actualizing its potentialities. It is infinite potential that is inherently manifesting these potentials in various ways. That is just the nature of how reality is.

Rick: I feel like we are individual expressions of that same tendency. Don’t you find that you just have this sort of tendency to want to express potentials and to be creative, and everybody does. It’s like we are just kind of like little facets of a much larger jewel of God, God or universal intelligence, and we are just reflecting that same tendency that we see in nature itself, which is just endless, explosive, diverse creativity.

Hameed: That’s true. That’s one way I see it, that each one of us is a facet or an expression or a lens, and where it’s natural for us to express our potential. In fact, we feel unhappy when we can’t do it. We feel limitations that we don’t like, and partly because it is a facet. But remember what I said, the facet contains the whole. We are the total reality whose nature is creative and is always manifesting and illuminating its manifestation. And it is, you know, life becomes interesting when we are like that. We are both the individual, but we are also beyond the individual at the same time. We can be the whole, we can be the non-dual and expressing ourselves through this individual in that person’s life, or we can recognize as the individual, “I am the whole actually. I am all of it anyway, as an individual. So of course I have the property of the whole because I am the whole.”

Rick: Yeah, that’s cool. Towards the end of your book, the last few chapters, I found something very interesting that you were doing, which was you were making these fine distinctions between subtle levels of reality. For instance, you said, “Pure presence,” in your own experience, “Pure presence and knowingness transitioned into pure awareness, which transitioned into the absolute.” And then a little bit later on you said, “The absolute is subtler than pure primordial awareness because there is no perception or capacity for self-reflection. It is still possible to discern these dimensions because discerning intelligence of reality is present in all its dimensions.” What I found interesting about all this is these fine gradations between pure presence and knowingness and the absolute and pure consciousness. And to me, that’s not clear in my experience. To me it’s like one whole realm of life, but I couldn’t possibly discern between the fine layers of it.

Hameed: Well, it’s actually happening in our experience anyway.

Rick: Is it?

Hameed: And we are seeing the basis of what’s happening in our experience all the way. Let me just put it that way for you, Rick. You’re perceiving things, right?

Rick: Yeah.

Hameed: And you’re perceiving and you’re sort of recognizing what you’re perceiving. And the recognition and the perception seems to happen simultaneously.

Rick: Right.

Hameed: Right? And I’m saying it is really the perception precedes recognition.

Rick: Yeah.

Hameed: And there can’t be perception without recognition.

Rick: Sure. Like you mean, for instance, just to understand what you’re saying, so it sounds like you’re talking about sort of cognitive science kind of stuff, where a baby might perceive something but not recognize what it is, because it doesn’t have the knowledge or the interpretive abilities.

Hameed: Yeah, doesn’t know what it is, because its mind hasn’t developed, its cognitive capacity hasn’t developed. However, in exploring our way of experiencing and all the faculties used in experiencing, I see that there is first the perception and the perception brings about knowing, which then brings about naming and labeling. So, you can actually recognize you can know without naming, in the sense you can feel love and you’re loving and you don’t, nothing in the mind, in the mind is love, although you’re acting in a loving way.

Rick: But how does all this relate to what I was asking about pure consciousness and the Absolute and so on? Because it sounds like there you’re making fine distinctions between very subtle levels of reality. When I think of pure consciousness, I’m thinking of some kind of fundamental ground state, very close to, if not identical with, a sort of ultimate, absolute reality of being.

Hameed: Okay, now this fundamental ground state, is it aware of itself or not?

Rick: If I were to feel, I’m not necessarily qualified to answer that, but I would say it becomes aware of itself because its nature is consciousness. Well, let’s put it this way, pure existence might not be aware of itself, but it has within itself the seed of self-recognition or consciousness, and so it becomes aware of itself, and then in becoming aware of itself, a kind of a dichotomy is set up, knower-known, process of knowing, and a whole sort of diversification ensues.

Hameed: Yeah, so exactly, that’s what I’m saying, but I’m saying it in a more detailed way. For instance, so the consciousness or whatever we call it, the absolute, it is, first it is, and then it can perceive that it is, and then it can know that it is. Seeing something and knowing it are two different steps, you see? So, I’m saying that consciousness, the ground, can be non-conceptual, in a sense, has no concepts in it, because it has no concept, there’s perception without recognition. Similar to the way the baby is, sees many things but it doesn’t know what they are. We are innocent again, that’s the place of pure innocence, it is a condition of realization when you are, and you are aware, but you don’t even know you are, but you are spontaneously yourself. But there can come cognition, which is another dimension where you know that you are, and you know what you are, you know you are consciousness. Before that, you are the consciousness and perceive it, but you don’t know that you are being consciousness. If you stay at that level and not get the recognition, that’s what Gurdjieff called the stupid saint. In the sense that you go about saintly, but you don’t know why. Awakening includes knowing, there’s not just awareness of the ground, but recognizing it, recognizing not only what it is, recognizing that that is what you are. All of that includes knowing, but that knowing is another faculty, I see it as another dimension of being arising out of the pure awareness. First, there’s just pure awareness, non-conceptual, and out of that arises another dimension that brings in knowingness. So, perception and knowing are two levels of consciousness. So, that makes a distinction like that, and further distinction than those, but these are the main two.

Rick: Yeah, I find it a useful exercise to try to understand these distinctions, it’s sort of culture’s subtler thinking. And it seems to me you can take it in two directions, I mean you could think of the inner journey as you proceed more and more deeply within, and everything kind of folds in upon itself and you arrive at levels of being which are pre-conceptual and pre-manifest. And you could also take it the other way, and even in a universal sense in terms of the manifestation of creation where pure existence becomes conscious, and then consciousness becomes intelligent and begins to assume a creative role, the whole thing emerges in that direction.

Hameed: That’s another dimension, which is recognizing that this consciousness that is awareness and knowing also has a capacity to create, to manifest its potential to become different forms and phenomena.

Rick: And it would seem that it’s self-knowing is the thing that stirs the ocean of being in order to stimulate creation. It sort of creates an impetus for creation when the self-knowing occurs.

Hameed: Yeah, and the knowing is very important you know, and Vedanta, they make the knowing the most important thing, like there’s only knowing, some of them say, because you just know and you know that you know and everything is knowledge, right? And you could see that, I mean I remember Rupert Spira trying to convince you that he’s telling you everything is knowledge, which is true logically speaking, all you have is your knowing in the moment of what’s happening, right? However, that knowing first requires a perception and the perception, it is possible to have that perception free from the knowing, you see. I don’t know whether the Vedanta goes to the non-conceptual, probably some of them do, I don’t know, but they usually always talk about the knowingness, they equate in Sat Chit Ananda, yeah, Sat Chit Ananda, chit, which is consciousness, they always think of it as knowing, and I see like that knowing can be differentiated at different levels. There is the consciousness, which is just awareness, perception, and there is the knowingness of that, and the knowing is not mental knowingness, it is an immediate knowingness that the conscious itself knows it is consciousness and knows it’s Being, you see. And the interesting thing about knowingness is, as we said, we talk about the baby perceives but doesn’t know, right? In fact, in the baby, some say it’s similar to a stupid saint, not completely because they still have their, you know, temper tatrum and all that, but they can perceive purely without the mind, without the beliefs and the habits and all that, they’re just, their doors of perception are just there. But the cognitive capacity is not developed, it has a rudimentary one, and as we know through development of psychology, that the cognition developed takes time to develop, and I see that as … and that development of cognition gets us to become an ego-self, because we … part of the knowledge is on the cognition, you know, this is this, this is that, I am not you, and so they develop what’s called dualistic knowing, but I see it as a stage, as necessary for the development of cognition, for knowing, so that when realization appears again, the capacity of knowing is developed and that we can know. So, the baby who was a stupid saint now becomes an adult who is an awakened saint. You know what your being is, even though you were it before but you didn’t recognize it, now you recognize it.

Rick: I think it’s an important point because some people say, “Oh, babies are enlightened and then they lose it,” you know, but maybe that’s true in the sense that there’s a sort of pure innocence, and innocence is also characteristic of enlightenment, but obviously as you just said, one has to go through all sorts of developmental stages before enlightenment in any real meaningful sense can become a living reality.

Hameed: If you don’t recognize it, it’s not enlightenment yet.

Rick: Yeah, and if you can’t function in the world while yet maintaining that pure awareness, then it’s not going to do you much good.

Hameed: Yeah, so knowing adds something to just being, an awareness of being, and there is knowing, and when the knowing is a habit of being, that opens the heart and then adds a whole dimension of love, where the whole conscious is pervaded by sweetness, by lovingness, by goodness, by joy, and that’s the ananda, satchitananda. We recognize the knowing and the lovingness are two sides. In fact, one of the things you know about being is its goodness. It feels freeing, it feels good, it feels good, we call it blessed, but basically it feels good, it doesn’t feel bad, you see. And you have to know, you have to have knowing to know your heart.

Rick: It’s a nice point. Shankara said that the intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion, and I don’t know whether duality is imagined or real, we’ve discussed that earlier, but definitely if there is duality and if there is a sort of a relative creation, then there can be love and devotion and all those lovely qualities which you wouldn’t find in complete homogenous oneness.

Hameed: I think his expression actually comes from experience, in the sense the process of creation from being is similar to our imagination. Like we imagine things and they seem real, just like in our dreams. So, reality you could say is created by imagining, but imagining is its way of creation. God imagining is the creation of the world, you see. It’s not an individual who is imagining.

Rick: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi was once asked, you know, what is the purpose of creation? He said the purpose of creation is the expansion of happiness. And I think he went on to elaborate that just flat wholeness or being without any manifestation is okay, but that there’s a joy and an expansion of happiness in the manifestation, the diversification, the living of being as opposed to just the sort of flat being by itself not being lived by anyone.

Hameed: So, we can surmise that, you know, we could give manifestation a purpose, but also if you stay in the non-conceptual, you’re not thinking of a purpose.

Rick: Right, you’re not thinking anything.

Hameed: It is just what it is. It’s just what it is. It does what it does. See, it does what it does. And if you start knowing, then you could see meaning to what you know and then you could derive purpose from it, which is at different stages you have different, you think of different purposes which are useful for the path.

Rick: Well, we’ve nearly reached the two hour point. Is there anything you want to mention in closing that we haven’t brought up yet? We’ve covered a lot of ground, but is there anything you feel is important in your book or anything else that is on your mind that you’d like to throw out there?

Hameed: Have something in my heart. As we talk, I notice this more and more sweetness and more and more connection with you and also with the audience. I don’t see, I feel like an aroma arising, you know, a flower opening. Like as we talk about reality, reality is happy.

Rick: Yeah, I have the same experience. It’s funny because you said that at the end of the last interview too and I listened to it just the other day and it’s really true. I mean, it stirs up the bliss to have a conversation like this.

Hameed: Yeah, there’s bliss, there’s happiness, there’s lovingness, there’s appreciation, and there is, you know, the different ways of connecting and being that we are expressing the same reality, but we are also not only expressing that we are the same reality. Like I feel you are there, I am here, however the there is here. You’re not over there, you see, you’re actually right here. I feel you’re right here and I feel myself over there.

Rick: There’s a wormhole between us.

Hameed: Yeah, there’s a wormhole. First I’m aware of the love, the heart open, and that opens up the wormhole.

Rick: Yeah, it’s beautiful. Good, well we’ll see each other in person at the non-duality conference in the Science of Non-Duality in October. You’ll be going there I imagine?

Hameed: Possibly, yeah. I don’t know yet, I’m still talking.

Rick: Okay, I hope you come.

Hameed: Possibly, yeah. It might be interesting.

Rick: Good.

Hameed: Well, good talking to you, Rick, as usual. I like that you try to get into the details of things, not just do things in general.

Rick: Well, that’s where the juice is, you know.

Hameed: Indeed, I love you. I like the fact that you’re having people ask questions.

Rick: Yeah, I like that too. I think that went pretty well. So, as far as I know, we’ll continue to do that as long as it goes well and people enjoy it. It seems like, I don’t know how many questions were sent in. I asked the fellow who’s monitoring the questions to just send me a few of them, because if 50 came in I couldn’t ask them. So, he’s been screening and picking out what he felt were the best ones, and they were good ones that people sent in. So, we’ll keep doing that.

Hameed: Yeah, that’d be good. And maybe in the future, if we do another interview, we can do it about another book.

Rick: Yeah, sure.

Hameed: Like that. Do you remember the book “The Power of Divine Eros?

Rick: I remember the book, I haven’t read it, but I remember that’s one of the ones you wrote.

Hameed: That’s the book that Karen and I wrote together, and it might be interesting to do an interview about that, because it brings the tantra, what people call tantra, and how life, and we discussed how tantra is a way of living life. It’s not just what people think of it in the limited sphere. And it might be an interesting thing, because if we do that interview, you’ll do it with both of us.

Rick: Yeah, maybe we could even do that.

Hameed: I think the relational aspect in it.

Rick: Maybe we could even do something like that out at SAND. Karen, I mean Maurizio and Zaya were talking about having it a little bit more formalized, where various people are interviewed by me and Zaya and somebody else as part of the program.

Hameed: Good idea. You’re good interviewers, I’m glad they’re going to ask you to do that.

Rick: Yeah. Alrighty, well let me make some quick general concluding remarks. We’ve been speaking with Hameed Ali, who goes by the pen name A.H. Almas, and this is my second interview with him. If you enjoyed it, you might also want to check out the first one. We’ve been talking mostly about his book, “Runaway Realization,” which I enjoyed a lot, and he’s written quite a few books. You’ll see this book and a number of his books listed on his page on www.batgap.com, and links to the Amazon pages where you can get them, and also a bit about Hameed and a link to his website, you’ll see all that on www.batgap.com. If you go there, you can also subscribe to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted. There’s a “Donate” button, which we depend upon people clicking in order to support this whole thing. There is an audio podcast of the program, and you’ll see a button that you can click to sign up for various ways with that audio podcast, and a bunch of other things if you explore the menus. So, thanks for listening or watching, and we will see you next week. Next week I’ll be speaking with a guy named Vasant Swaha, he’ll be Skyping with me from Brazil, I believe, or Argentina, yeah, Brazil. Okay, thanks Hameed.

Hameed: Yeah, thanks.

Rick: See you again.

Hameed: Yeah, bye.