Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, and my guest this week is Anne Sermons Gillis. Welcome, Anne.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Thank you.
Rick Archer: So, you have a whole bio here that I could read. But there’s one sentence which jumped out at me, I thought we’d start with that and let the bio kind of fill itself out as we go along. And that is that you said, at age 49, she awakened to that which is beyond suffering. So, what happened?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, I’ve got to tell you, I think I awakened to it before, but I awakened to it at another level when I was 49. I don’t know how many times you wake up, but that’s when I awakened again. It was my birthday. I usually do something on my birthday for myself. I heard that Gangaji was going to be in Nashville. I lived in Memphis, and a friend of mine sponsored her. I called her up and asked, “Rosemary, I see you’ve got a speaker coming, and I just feel drawn to go to her, is it going to be worth the drive?” She said, “Anne, people are coming from all over the world for this?” And I said, “Okay, well, I guess I can drive for three hours.” So I went, and I attended the evening Satsang, and I heard her (Gangaji) talk about suffering. I had been talking about suffering for a very long time. This was one of the few spiritual teachers that I was that I heard that talked about it outright. They weren’t trying to be positive. They weren’t trying to be joyful. She was just talking about all the aspects of suffering. And as she talked, it was as if layers of stuff just came off me. And then as luck would have it, there was a private Satsang afterwards and my friend said, “We’re having in a private Satsang, would you like to come?” and I said, “Great.” We went and I sat right beside Gangaji, or at her feet; I was right there. And I was just… well, everything was undone. And I was just laughing. And everything was so funny, and life was great. And, and that was it, my mind just snapped. And that’s what happened.
Rick Archer: Did it stay snapped?
Anne Sermons Gillis: It did for a very long time. It has not permanently snapped; it snaps and re-snaps. I had a day, the other day that I was so snapped, I was driving in the car. And life was amazing, delightful, and so expansive, so blissful, that I could hardly contain myself. And oddly enough, some of my most blissful times, where I’ve had these just being drunk with this divine have been in the grocery store, the car, I mean, just almost not even being able to operate because of the joy. I gave a workshop one time. And they didn’t want to have me back because they thought that I was on drugs. I was overcome by this joy. And it was a weekend retreat. And I found out that the topic I was supposed to be talking about was different from the one I thought I was to talk about. And I just thought it was the funniest thing. And they thought that it was weird, and I should be upset. And anyway, so they didn’t want to have me back because and if people say, you know, you can’t be that happy. You just can’t be. Got to be a little more serious about this or something, anyway, not everyone says that because people are certainly open to the unmitigated joy that’s available. But some people do. Some people are taken aback by that kind of zany happiness or joy.
Rick Archer: Yes. I’d say, just based on what you’ve said, so far, your kind of in the condition that a lot of spiritual people are in where, and perhaps all people, spiritual people are in all people in general, but let’s narrow down to the spiritual, where there’s been an awakening, perhaps a series of awakenings. And yet, you know if someone says, “Are you awake?” Maybe you would have to say, correct me if I’m wrong. “Yes, I’m awake or more awake than I was, but I don’t seem to be as awake as I might be a year from now, based on the way things are going, it seems to just be ever-deepening and ever and clarifying. Is that true or no?
Anne Sermons Gillis: I don’t know. I can’t tell you what happens in my mind. There seem to be two states that I’m in. One of the states is certainly more awakened than I was in and it’s when I’m the observer, and I watch everything that’s going on.
Rick Archer: “Spontaneously.”
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, just kind of watch. You know, I’m always watching and then there’s a place where the observer disappears. And that’s what feels like complete freedom and lightness. And that’s when there’s no separation. There’s no me watching me. When me watches me, it’s cool. I’m not at effect of the world. My life is okay. And it’s interesting. My perspective is darn amazing. And yet there is this blending of this seer and seen that comes together. And sometimes for very long periods of time, I’ve had an extended for months. I’ve heard speakers on your show when they awaken, and it’s like, well, how long has it been? And they’ll say, it’s been a year, and it’s been two years, and I smile, and I think, wait until it’s been 10 years, wait till it’s been 15 years, you know, wait until it’s been 20 years and then see if you can say, I always feel awake, I always feel this, that, and the other. Because it does. It’s not that it disappears, it just it takes on different qualities or levels, within my awareness – to contracted and expanded.
Rick Archer: Yes, friends, and people who have I have interviewed, there are two or three people whom I’ve interviewed, who asked me to take their interviews down because they felt like their awakening went away again. And they felt it would be disingenuous to keep it keep up an interview proclaiming themselves to have awakened. And that was after years of having lived in a state that they assumed was a kind of permanent awakening, and yet, boom. One day they woke up and it was gone.
Anne Sermons Gillis: When I heard that I was going on BATGAP, you asked me about this interview a long time ago. And at the time I talked to you, I was really excited about being on the interview. And then your wife contacted me about doing the interview. And I thought “Crap, you know, I’m not like in the greatest space in the world.” And I told my friend about and, and I’ve been somewhat of a spiritual mentor for her for years. And she says, “But you know, Anne, when you’re in the connected times, it’s wonderful, but when you’re in the time where you’re more in your human presence, I always get more from you.” It’s always realer, it’s like I can connect with more people. There’s not a state that’s not desirable. Because if I’m authentic, I’m really the kind of person that if you walk in a room and somebody says, how are you? And I feel like crap. I’m going to say that I don’t feel good. Yeah, I had a woman come and she looked at me one time, and we were in this big event out Sedona and it was all the New Age people were to get into getting together. This is 1988-89. I remember. And she says, “Smile, smile.” And I said, “I paid $10,000 in therapy, just to be able to experience what I’m experiencing the way I’m experiencing and I’m not going to smile. You know, I don’t feel like smiling. I’m not in a really good space.” I do Joy Mastery workshop sometimes. And I’m and I’m maybe in just complete joy. And often I’ll end up there. But you know, I’ll go in and say, look, this is my job. I’m giving a joy mastery workshop. I’m not joyful. I bet you aren’t either. How is it when you really know that joy is present, and you can’t access it? Let’s work on that. Let’s go, let’s go together. I’m right there with you, Honey, let’s, let’s wake up in this moment together.
Rick Archer: That’s good. I, I admire that. I think integrity is an important thing. And you know, not pretending to be something you’re not.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I have pretended before.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And I can remember it. And I can remember; it was shame. Because I was so afraid. And I wanted to impress people, and I came away from that feeling. Just so icky. I mean, this has been years ago. I hope I am no longer in that space. But I had one big opportunity one time, and I blew it; I was just so full of pride.
Rick Archer: And I think this is something which befalls many spiritual teachers, if there’s a certain aura, they project a certain, you know, persona, they project, and the pressure arises for them, both from the perspective of their followers and from their perspective, pressure rises for them to maintain that. And, they can get more and more hypocritical or dysfunctional between their public persona and their private inner life, either their private behavior or even their subjective state. And I think that creates a strain within a person and ultimately leads to a fall. In most cases.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, ego rising. I’ve sustained that many times. I can remember, back when I first went to a 12-step program, I don’t know if you remember, but I had a church for 15 years.
Rick Archer: I remember seeing about your book. I didn’t attend it, but you mentioned that you did.
Anne Sermons Gillis: That was tough because I started out with this idea that I’m a minister and I’m meeting with flocks of the people. I’m doing all of this and by then I had, I had been meditating and as many meditators, I had had all kinds of extraordinary experiences and states of consciousness, but my inner life, was filled with so many emotional, unhealed wounds that I had to deal with. And I was so embarrassed to go to these groups because so many people looked up to me as a spiritual mentor. But I went anyway, and just, you know, just let it all hang out. And it was just great.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, you’re doing TM or some other kind of meditation. Well,
Anne Sermons Gillis: I was doing this faux TM, to meditate. And this was back in the early 70s. And I didn’t really know how to go about it. And my sister read an article about Maharishi in the paper. And in the newspaper, it told how to meditate. And it says, you get a mantra. The article went through the process. And I thought, “Well, I don’t think I really am going to go to a teacher. And there’s not one around here.” So, I gave myself a mantra. I just started meditating, I was maybe 24 years old. I gave myself a mantra, and I’ve never told anyone what it was. And I’ve meditated on that mantra and started having extremely intense experiences. It was just over the top.
Rick Archer: Interesting. So, let’s talk a little bit about more about kind of the kind of intermittent quality of awakening. You mentioned earlier that there are periods where you observe yourself, I think, you phrase someone like that. And then other periods where even that observer dissolves, and it’s more of a unified state. Right.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Right.
Rick Archer: When you’re in the periods of you observing yourself, and correct me if I’m not phrasing that accurately enough, is it sort of like, almost like a kind of a subtler, deeper aspect of your individuality is observing the rest of your individuality, but both components have an individual flavor? Well, if you have trouble with that question, I can extend it a little bit. If you want.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Extend it, I’ll just say it’s, it seems to be I’m not sure if this is what you said. But it seems to be a wiser part of myself, that is paying attention to the personality of Anne Gillis, as she goes about her day-to-day things and just observing and maybe commenting and adding something.
Rick Archer: Yes.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And watching. And sometimes even providing directions. Speaking to me, sometimes it will take over my mind, and it will start speaking to me and like when I was getting ready this morning, I’m not very organized. And this voice says, “The first thing you need to do is to turn on the computer and do this and then it’ll go and the next thing you need to do is to do this,” and I go “Okay, okay.” And so sometimes it is in a witness. And sometimes it is an actual voice.
Rick Archer: Okay. Sometimes, it’s in a deep voice. I mean, like giving me when I say deep, I mean, knowing, knowing something that I wouldn’t know consciously, and it tells me this is going to happen, don’t do this or something like that. Okay, good. Yes. So, to my understanding, and, you know, always subject to revision and there are subtler aspects to the personality, subtler and subtler and these subtler aspects can wake up without necessarily having had the deepest aspect…having woken up fully, that deepest aspect, not even being personality or even individuality. You know, there’s a kind of a universe, universal awareness, universal consciousness, and we’re all kind of ultimately grounded in that, right. But through meditation, through spiritual development, however we go about it, there can be an enlivenment or an awakening of the subtler levels, which can result in deep intuition, a sense of silence that’s separate from activity, you know, that kind of thing.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, I was I was reminded, I have an experience of waking up that occurred the year before I met Gangaji. When I think that was in 97. And I was in Oklahoma, and I was with a Native American medicine woman. And I had to go and speak the next morning, which was Sunday, and she was going to be speaking on Saturday night, and it was a seven-hour drive. And I said, I just don’t think I can stay for this, this session, because I’m going to have to drive home and I can’t drive all night long and speak and she said, “Stay, it’s not going to be a problem.” And so, I got in my car to leave it was a seven-hour drive. And in what seemed like two, and I was completely refreshed, like, two minutes later, I stepped outside of my car, and I was in Memphis. It was a seven-hour drive, but it was only, two minutes in my consciousness. And I was fully awake. And then when I got home, and I got into bed, my consciousness expanded so much that there was very little experience of who I was as a personality. And I was in this thing that was kind of like Contact, when I saw Contact and went, “Oh, my gosh, somebody’s had this experience,” but I was way out into this infinite expression of whatever life or reality. And I, I came back, I knew I had to go to church the next… but what I experienced, there was what seemed like an amazing awakening. I mean, it was so powerful. And in that experience, I had what seemed to me the ability to work with a lot of different powers, the power to get anything I wanted, it was a kind of power of manifestation that was a hyper power from anything I had ever gotten from study or metaphysics or any kind of demonstrations or manifestations that I’d ever had. And I thought, “What do you do when you have something like this, this is extraordinary?” And when I came back into my body, I was only half here, part of me was in this, Universe of stars. And then part of me was in my body. And I went to speak that morning. And I had always had trouble getting people to volunteer to do things but that day, I mean, here I am, like half in and half out talking. And people are saying, “Whatever you need done, I’ll do it.” I never had people flocking toward me like that. And it took a couple of weeks before I came back into my body so that I wasn’t out there in the stars; it was like I was this jewel, I can’t even explain what it was. And so, I… knowing that I had power that I had never had before, some kind of ultimate power. I didn’t really know what to do with it or how to use it and I knew how the ego gets with that kind of stuff. So, I laid it aside as much as possible. But when I met Gangaji, a year later, what I realized was that what I had, it was almost like the experience that Jesus had in the desert, maybe he was tempted by all these things. It was like I was being tempted by this. And this was something to lay aside, this was something not to use. This was just, even though it seemed like it was magnificent, like it was the real thing. It really, maybe it was a step or stage. But it wasn’t, it certainly wasn’t awakening, or putting my ego down or something. But you know, I thought wow, you know, like this is it. But when I was seven, or when I was in my mid-20s, I had an experience of bliss. And I was like, “This, is it. This is it.” It wasn’t it. It wasn’t what I thought it was – everlasting, solve your problems, always be present, direct experience of reality, unmitigated by the ego. That it wasn’t.
Rick Archer: Yes, there apparently are degrees of it and I think there’s a tendency for whatever reason, to jump to the conclusion that some awakening we have had is it, the final awakening. And some people seem to stay at that stage for years. Some people, as we were saying earlier, lose it again and think, “Oh, well, I guess that wasn’t it.” And others continue to have deeper levels of awakening and realize, and maybe after you’ve had enough of them, you get accustomed to the fact that there will probably be more and you don’t jump to that conclusion. But I’ve heard Adyashanti and others write about this, this syndrome, in which one tends to jump to the conclusion that an awakening or something that one has had is complete and final and you know, what more could there be? And I’ve interviewed people who want to ask them, how’s it developing now; where do you see this going? And they look at me like I’m from Mars or something? What more could there be? I would like to speak to them in a few years and see how they’d answer that question.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, I hear people speak like that, I think are very genuine. Gangaji, I think she has a connection that seems to be ongoing. And I, I have one too, but again, I don’t think it’s the same and, it doesn’t matter where their mind is, whether it’s like someone else’s or not. Certainly, people have different levels of awakening that are maybe stronger than others – like being on top. It seems they are more advanced. If’s someone’s great; I stop and listen. If Gangaji walked in this room, my mind, my mouth would be quiet. I would listen to John Sherman, if I walked into room and he was speaking; my mouth would be quiet.
Rick Archer: I’m not sure there is a top. I interviewed Gangaji. I don’t remember the details of our interview, but as I recall, when we spoke, it was along those lines that this keeps evolving. I came across a quote from Adyashanti, recently. He said that even now he feels like he’s just beginning. I find that theme interesting. I don’t think I’m in danger of assuming that I’m at any kind of final stage of development. But I talk to people all the time, and obviously, a lot of people listen to this show, and if that is a syndrome, it’s one that one can fall into. And then it’s good to propagate the knowledge that perhaps, you know, the course of evolution is vast. There’s a quote from Mooji. I’ll call it up on my computer and read it in a second. But then, so there’s another theme here, which is integration and whether stages of awakening can make you dysfunctional at a certain stage. And I got an email this week from someone who had a profound experience when she was 12. And then when she was 18, she fell into a nondual state for four hours. Her Kundalini awakened at the age of 23. She went into state what she calls Nirvikalpa, samadhi, or cosmic consciousness, basic self-realization. She said it was such an enormous shift that she became dysfunctional, and I still am, my identity disappeared into consciousness, like becoming a baby at home and embraced, yet scary, not knowing how to survive physically, because I was on my own and didn’t have any people to reach out to for help. And she, she goes on. But you know, she basically says that she admits to having only, even though she’s relaxed into this state of everything consciousness, she still considers herself half baked, not I am not in a full embodiment at all, just slowly beginning to learn how to function and relate. But it really takes time; it may take years, although I find my progress is proceeding very rapidly. I’m getting used to resting and everything is consciousness, even the one doing things as me is consciousness. In the beginning, I couldn’t speak or move, I had to learn talking and moving again, and I am still learning. I watched a bit of a YouTube video of hers and she looks like, whoa! But it’s interesting, because I, speaking of TM, Maharishi, one bunch of people asked Maharishi one time, “Couldn’t you just sort of enlighten us just like that?” He said, if that were possible, you wouldn’t want it, it would take 10 strong men to hold you down. In other words, the contrast would be so great that you’d be unable to function. And so this sort of incremental developmental process, that most people, if not everyone, seems to go through is, is well and wisely put; it’s the way it’s supposed to be. It’s not like we should feel there’s anything wrong with us if complete and permanent, utter awakening is not instantaneous.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I agree. My first awakening was probably when I was about three or four. And I had something like a near-death or out-of-body experience. And I really didn’t figure this out until recently. I always said, my spiritual journey started when I was about three or four, I was so curious. And I was at a conference, and somebody talked about going under ether, and what happened to him, and I thought, “Oh, my gosh, I went through this tunnel, and all this stuff happened, when I was under ether.” And after that, when I was a young person, I went to all the churches; we’re talking four years old, I would go to my neighbors and ask them to take me to their churches, and I went to all their churches, and I went to the revivals, and I dragged my mother to church. Afterall, she was my ride.
Rick Archer: The opposite with me. My mother’s dragging me to church.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Fortunately, I was always in very liberal churches that supported my growth. And they supported me to the point of allowing me to let them go, but my journey started with that experience and this curiosity, but it was just enough so that I wasn’t nuts. What more than any of the sudden awakenings I’ve had, that knocked me off-center, was that I used to meditate to try to escape. I would meditate for two or three hours a day, never having an instructor and having a teacher. I would go into states of bliss. I was having out-of-body experiences. I was having interdimensional experiences. I was having astral realm experiences. And I remember going to a workshop with a teacher; she was psychic, and she goes, “You are fried. Your nervous system is fried. What are you doing?” I would lie on the floor. I would shake my leg so I could maybe go out and I was trying to get to the bliss. And I’d breathe and say “Take me. Take me to go wherever it is,” because I just wanted out so badly. I had not dealt with my emotional pain and all the stuff that you do in psychotherapy, stuff you must go through, whether it’s just me doing it or healing in a group, whatever it is, I hadn’t done it. I hadn’t done that work. I wanted to leave. I wanted out of here and meditation was a way out. That was my path.
Rick Archer: Yes, fried, I’m going to interview a guy in a few weeks, who wrote a book called, “Are You Getting Enlightened or Losing Your Mind”? And having been in a meditation group for years, and, you know, having been sent to console the people, when someone had jumped out of a four-story building, you know, because they kind of flipped out when they’d done too much meditation, and something had happened. It can be very destabilizing if you don’t have proper guidance, and if you do too much of it, you can flip out. I can look back at long periods in my life where I may have seemed presentable enough, but I was pretty nuts, very eccentric, obsessive, and idiosyncratic. It’s almost like your subjectivity becomes so predominant and the outer worlds so kind of secondary or ephemeral, and subjectivity can be so full of strange things that you know, that becomes your world and to the outer world, you may appear to become very strange, can you relate to that?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Oh, I can relate to that, probably in a way that’s a little different. Because my mother did flip out, I come from an unusual family, I’ll just say because I was exposed to things such as palm reading. And my mother, at one point knew that she had the ability to heal. She ran all over the house with these powerful currents running through her. She had many nervous breakdowns from the time I was young and throughout the rest of her life. We had to admit her to psychiatric wards. And basically, I think that she had these Kundalini experiences, and there was no place for the energy to go. And she was going crazy. So, my early years were very, very guarded, because I was trying not to go crazy, and I was afraid of the God experience or the awakened experience, because I did not want to go crazy. It had a unique battle with insanity. And, and I have experienced plenty of it myself. I have watched myself go to the breaking point of insanity. And because I had a witness that could watch that, I didn’t lose my faculties. But I saw myself going to the breaking point and said internally, “Okay, let’s just keep being present, keep being present, keep being present.” I talked myself through it until it dissipated. My latest book is called “Standing in the Dark,” and it says that even if we are awakened, or if we’re spiritually attuned people, it doesn’t mean that life isn’t bumpy for us. Even so, I’ve experienced some incredible wonderful states of joy. I don’t think difficulties are all there is. But too often, it’s only polite in spiritual circles to talk about the great phenomenal experiences, and not the deep, dark experiences. And my book does talk about some of those experiences; maybe I don’t talk about the metaphysical experiences, but just experiences. For example, in November, my best friend dropped dead. The week before she died, we had seen each other frequently. She was out of town with her children for Thanksgiving when it occurred. Her children called and told me she dropped dead due to an aortic aneurysm. When I heard the news, I just fell to the floor. It was profoundly painful. And I worked through the loss, but at the time, I allowed myself to be extremely sad about her death. There were times that I could have had someone close die and I would not have allowed myself such grief. I would have been very enlightened about it and seen them in the light or whatever images I came up with, but now I just let myself totally, but temporally, collapse into painful experiences. That was something I used to not do.
Rick Archer: Yes, it’s interesting. A friend was over here the other day, and her cat died recently. And she said, I’ve been grieving so much for this cat, crying so much. She said, “I didn’t even do that for my parents,” but that was some years earlier when her parents had died. And the thought occurred to me, “Well, maybe she’s more spiritually mature and more developed in her whole personality now so that she can allow herself to grieve, and it doesn’t conflict with her image as a spiritual person. So, it’s a more holistic development.”
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes. There were times that I was fine with it, but when a friend would come up, and hug me, embrace me, and say, “I know how to difficult this is for you.” I would just collapse in their arms and sob, and it was so wonderful to have that support. It’s great to laugh together, but to be able to cry in someone’s arms, how often do we allow that?
Rick Archer: Yes. I think this speaks to the point that, however spiritual we may be, we’re still human beings. And human beings have human desires and emotions and all that and becoming profoundly spiritual and profoundly awake or something doesn’t make you a colorless SAP. It doesn’t deprive you of those experiences. In fact, it may make them more poignant, more vivid. Here’s the quote from Mooji. you know, Mooji is. Right?
Anne Sermons Gillis Yes.
Rick Archer: I interviewed him a while back, if anybody wants to look them up. But even in the fullness of awakening, he said, “The fragrance of conditioning may still arise, but it will not cause trouble once you are sure of your true position, as immutable and unaffected awareness.” So that swings a little bit more toward not getting bent out of shape by things. The Gita is full of quotes like that about equanimity, maintaining balance during times of gain and loss, victory and defeat, tragedy and success, and so on. But which, you know, speaks to the whole structure of what awakening is, is ultimately, not just a flowering of the individual personality, but primarily is an integration of the universal consciousness into the structure of individual experience and awakening to that. And once that becomes your identity, your identity shifts to the knowing yourself as That, then the things that happen to the individual consciousness are more like things that are happening to an actor in a play, but actors in the play cry, if they are good actors.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Right. That reminds me of an experience that I had. I was in a relationship for a couple of years. And with this guy, actually, for four years. It was a strange relationship. But we got along pretty good together, and he lived with me, and he’d pay a part of the rent. And that worked well. And one day he went off on me, and he went off on me in a way, I mean that’s not so unusual. I can take stuff from people. But he really went off in a mean way. And I went upstairs to gather my emotions.
Rick Archer: By off, you mean, he got angry at you, or he left?
Anne Sermons Gillis: He was angry, but it was in a way that he knew exactly where to strike.
Rick Archer: Right.
Anne Sermons Gillis: When you get intimate with somebody, you know where to strike them, or you know how to hit the mark. This time he hit the mark in a way that he had never hit before in terms of loss of respect. I don’t remember exactly what it was. So, I go upstairs, and I sit down to meditate and quieten myself so that I can look at it in a different way, process it, and take responsibility for creating all this stuff. And I’m listening to my inner voice, and I’m very quiet. And I hear a deep rumble. And that’s it. Here it comes. It’s going to tell me how to get rid of this and how to be peaceful. And I heard this voice that goes, “Don’t put up with a shift. “And I bolted out of the chair. And I ran downstairs, and I spoke. “You will never speak to me like this again; this will never happen again.” And the following night, in the following night, I had a dream. And in the dream, there was a golden heart. And he had a stick, and he was pushing it. It was my heart. And I knew that the relationship was over. And I went to him, and said, “You know, this relationship isn’t working.” And we worked out details. And we had an amazing breakup. It was just probably the greatest breakup I’ve ever had. It was beautiful. You never, know what kind of response we will get, but that was a higher voice. There’s no consistency on how we are guided to respond. Many times, somebody might go off on me or there may be anger or upset, but I feel no need to defend myself. They’re not touching anything in me that must respond.
Rick Archer: Yes, that brings up a whole interesting theme, which is the whole loving what is, Byron Katie’s theme, and that can be interpreted as passivity, or even, allowing oneself to be a victim. This is what it is. I got to just love it. But I don’t think that’s the way Byron Katie means it. And I think what is required is to find a balance; what’s required is to be acting from a level of consciousness where, you respond appropriately in every situation, and that can’t be faked. It’s something that actually has to be in your bones and happening spontaneously. But perhaps along the way, there’s some little fine-tuning and intervention that one can do too. “Oops, I shouldn’t react that way. Oh, I gotta adjust my attitude here.”
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, absolutely. The ego is stealthy. It’s like our mind; ego is that part of the mind that takes the best of what we are, our highest intelligence, and it uses it against us. And then it covers its maneuvers up so that we don’t know what’s there. Then when we get in a situation, we actually think that we’re authentically responding. But we might not be. It takes authenticity, if someone is upset or going off on me, and I am not touched by that, then I can just sit there and listen. But if something happens, and I’m really touched or triggered, that’s the time I might set a boundary: I certainly don’t yell at them. I mean, I don’t go off and scream. At least I don’t remember doing that for many years! But I would just say, “This is not appropriate.” Or, “When you go through that kind of upset. like on Saturday, please don’t talk to me like that again,” or “No, this doesn’t work for me”; then set a boundary. But I need to know, when I’m in the consciousness that I’m really hurt, that I may need to do something different than when an infraction just rolls off me. And I need to be tuned, stay tuned to who I am and what I think and feel in the moment to be able to have that appropriate response, as you put it.
Rick Archer: Yes, one could imagine being so tuned. Well, this is actually a good question. Can one become so tuned, and so deeply tuned, and so, stably tuned, that it’s never going to be a sort of an issue anymore? It’ll always be one’s natural way of functioning.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I don’t know.
Rick Archer: Yes.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Because since I haven’t had that experience. I don’t really know.
Rick Archer: Hmm. Interesting to consider anyway.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, it’s interesting; it would be nice. I mean, there have been times of brilliance. I think I just wrote about this in my newsletter. I thought about that when I had a love relationship who was leaving me. One of the things that I’ve struggled with in my life was relationship addiction. And when the person started pulling away from me, I felt those deep states of pain and grief. He was leaving and the way that he did it was that he started putting me down instead of just saying, “Look, I want to get out of the relationship.” He was finding fault with me and putting me down and he looked at me one night, he says, “You’re the meanest, most vindictive, manipulative, controlling bitch I’ve ever met my life.” And I went, “Hmm, so I’m a mean controlling manipulative bitch. That’s interesting. Is there anything else that’s that you don’t like? That’s pretty big.” I said, “Is there anything else you don’t like about me?” And he looked at me and he was so not expecting that, that he just looked at me we both just started guffawing. I mean, we just hilariously laughed. It was so funny.
Rick Archer: Interesting how a more detached reaction can elicit can defuse a potentially horrible situation. Here’s that other quote from Mooji that I was referring to. “As long as the body is existing, there will continue to be a kind of maturing taking place, becoming deeper and deeper and purer and purer, against the background of unchanging awareness. You can only contemplate and keep contemplating because in your contemplation, you’ll find, I’m here, and whatever will happen next, you’re not concerned about.”
Anne Sermons Gillis: Beautiful.
Rick Archer: Yes. So this brings in the theme of the background of unchanging awareness, which I think is an important thing to bring into the equation. Because a lot of times when people talk about their spiritual experiences or their awakenings, it’s like, “I have this experience. And then I had that experience,” and, and by, you know, the very syntax of it, they’re referring to experiences which come and go, but Mooji here referred to a background of unchanging awareness, which brings up the movie screen analogy that Ramana and so many teachers have used; in a theater, every week, there’s a new movie and within the movie itself, it’s changing on the screen, but that’s that same old screen is still sitting there.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Oh, absolutely. When I had the awakening in 97.
Rick Archer: Um-hum.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I was so much a part of that consciousness when, like the young woman we spoke of earlier, I had a difficult time expressing myself. There wasn’t anything to express and ultimately that’s why I ended up closing my spiritual center and moving and doing something different. There was nothing to do. I was not sure what to do. I didn’t know how to even talk. All the belief systems that I’d built my mind on were gone. They didn’t work. I am this expansive being and how do I live in this body? How am I going to do this because I was just so much more than I’ve ever known myself to be. It was quite a reorientation, but yes; it was a good thing in a way but in the other way it took so much integration.
Rick Archer: It does. And like the girl, the young girl said it apparently can take years. And, personally, having hung around Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and others, Ammachi and so on quite a bit, it’s my impression that it really does never stop. I’ve used a quote from St. Teresa of Avila in recent weeks. She said that it appears that God Himself is still on the journey. I thought I used to see enlightenment as some kind of static end point, beyond which, any further development couldn’t take place. And I have friends who still argue that that’s the way it is, but I don’t buy it. I don’t. I’ve never observed it in anyone, whereas they may have that background of unchanging awareness. And that might even be very powerful and very predominant, at least in terms of the relative expression which we identify as this person or that person. There’s no end to growth, there’s no end to refinement, deeper and deeper, purer and purer, as Mooji said.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, that’s just so cool. Because that’s what I mean, ultimately, what I am, is this consciousness expressing through many bodies, and I’m going to want to have every experience. I’m an entourage. I’m Shiva dancing, I want to experience life in everything. I’m not going to say, “Ooh, this doesn’t look good. I’m not going to do this. This, I don’t like this.” And that’s where, going back to Byron Katie’s work helps; regardless of what kind of experience I have, in my mind, or what thought runs through, it’s like, wow, how creative, even if it’s depression, it’s all this creativity moving itself through me as a body. That’s phenomenal. It’s exciting. It’s incredible, regardless of what state; I don’t need to avoid any state because everything is okay now. There’s not any “not now; not okay.”
Rick Archer: Yes, and the way you just express it was beautiful. If you take the perspective of being cosmic awareness, universal awareness, then you are expressing through Anne’s body; you are expressing through Rick’s body. And you know, through Byron Katie’s body, through the cockroach’s body, just through all these different expressions. You want to say something there?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, I was thinking about a few experiences I’ve had of being, being in a body is just such a slippery thing. One time I showed up, and I was somebody else, I was in a hospital room, and I was in another body. And it was very, very brief. And it’s like, “What am I doing here?” I wasn’t thinking, there is no Anne. There was just no Anne; there was none of that Anne personality. I was somebody else. I remember being another person. And also remember and I will tell you that this was a drug-induced experience. I have not done many drugs, but there have been some from time to time and actually spiritual teacher gave me these. What was that? Oh, mushrooms. And I had an experience of more than one dimension at a time. I actually was experiencing five dimensions simultaneously. And when that happened, I thought, “Oh, my God, no wonder I have limits. I said, “Give me the limit. I can’t deal with this.” I couldn’t. You just can’t do it when you’re in five different dimensions at one time. I can’t. I can’t do that. It’s too expansive. There’s not anything wrong with this contraction. It’s okay.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting point. Very interesting point.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Tell of another experience I had of being cosmic awareness in I don’t know, that was an awakened state, but I was everything. And I thought, well, the only thing I could remember was the name Anne. And I thought, well, if I drop Anne then will I still be there? But that went on for a while. And then I came back, and I experienced myself as more contracted and more and contracted, and I finally became my house. I was in the walls of the house, and I was just the house. And, and at that point, I recognized that I was consciousness contracting and I thought, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe it. I’m going to get in that body called Anne, and I’m going to really believe that I am that. I can’t believe that’s going to happen, and I’m going to totally forget who I am. You know, and it will happen and there’s not anything I can do about it.” At this point I’m already vague and contracted down and then I’m back.
Rick Archer: That’s interesting.
Anne Sermons Gillis: You know, just the states of consciousness. Time is slippery, states of consciousness, who we are, all of those things. Who knows? I’m going to show up and I might show up as a dog and not even know it, I mean it’s just so much we could do that we’re not aware of.
Rick Archer: One of the siddhis that Patanjali potentially outlines being able to occupy the body of another person. There’s the story of Shankara having done that. He is the founder of Advaita. He didn’t know anything about sort of romantic relationships, and he was supposed to debate this person and he couldn’t win the debate unless he learned something about that. So there was some king who was just happening to die at that point. And Shankara went and occupied the body of the king. And so boom, the king wakes up, shocker. His body is sitting in a cave, protected by his disciples. Everybody’s so happy, the king is back to life and Shankara lives this life for about a month. And the king had several queens and the queens were delighted at the newfound intelligence and brightness of their spouse. And they kind of got hip to what was going on and decided to go and have Shankara’s body destroyed, so he wouldn’t be able to return to it. He could stay in the king’s body and be their husband. But then Shankara started to lose his remembrance of who he really was, and actually got into thinking he was the king. In order to save the day, some of Shankara’s disciples came to the king’s court and began to read this poetry that Shankara had written about the true nature of the self and all that stuff. And that jogged his memory and he just left, and the king’s body dropped dead. Shankara reanimated his own body, just as it was about to be burned, and – end of story. But what you said about contraction, and you know, that there’s nothing wrong with it is a cool point to ponder. We know, from studying science in high school, that if we were able to see a full range of the electromagnetic spectrum, we’d be completely overwhelmed. Obviously, we can only see a sliver of that, in terms of visible light. And perhaps if we were able to hear everything that a bat and a dog and every other species can hear simultaneously, that would be overwhelming. So, it’s natural that an individual physiology has its limitations, which are conducive to its particular role, its particular functioning.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And we can grow that, we can incrementally grow our nervous system, so that we can take in more and more and have more and more awareness, like Aboriginal people who, from the get-go can hear with their skin, and they have so much more sense of sensory awareness than we do. And if, suddenly, just like that, all senses popped, it might just overwhelm me, but incrementally I could grow into that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and there are people who can who routinely perceive angels and subtle celestial things, gods, deeper levels of creation – as they’re driving a car, eating breakfast, or whatever, and that becomes normal. But all this stuff must grow over time. And if there are sudden openings to it, they can be completely nonfunctional until they either go away, or somehow get integrated.
Anne Sermons Gillis: It’s strange, I have had a little snippet of many kinds of experience, but never full-time seeing. I’ve had one manifestation of something that I’ve seen, I’ve had rocks talk to me, twice. I’ve had things just little snippets, never, “I can talk to the nature of spirits,” but just maybe one conversation or two conversation with them, but nothing long term, just kind of a smattering of experiences with different dimensions.
Rick Archer: Yeah, but there are people like that who function like that all the time. It’s just it becomes routine. It’s just a matter. And that’s an interesting thing, too. We become accustomed to whatever we’re experiencing. And it’s like, right now, for instance, if you were to revert back to the state of consciousness, you were in when you were 20 years old, you might find it agonizing, because of the contrast, but when you were 20, it was okay, you could do it. You’re accustomed to it, or if you’re conversely, if you were to go for you know, if you’re 20 and you were to jump to the state of awareness or consciousness that you’re in right now, it might have been like so much ecstasy, you wouldn’t have been able to handle it. Yet now, you can function normally. We acclimate. I mean, you see these people in these horrible situations; how do they do it? You know, in Africa, in really difficult situations. It’s as horrible but somehow, they acclimate.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I actually do a lot physically, to stay stable and to keep my body clean and straight, because I can’t handle it if I didn’t do that. I just be a nervous wreck. I exercise, I stretch, I eat well, I meditate. I do all of those things. Some people might not need that. I do.
Rick Archer: Yes, I think it’s important. And in fact, when I’ve been on long meditation courses, and people have been flipping out and whatnot, the recommendation has been, “You need massage,” “You need to meditate less.” ” Go out and take a hike. “Eat some heavier food. Don’t just eat this fruit diet or something. “Have some chicken; have something heavier, smoke a cigar, whatever it takes.” So sometimes we need grounding. We need tamas, t a m a s, which is it’s a Sanskrit term meaning that’s sort of the dense, heavy quality of creation can’t be all sought when necessarily.
Anne Sermons Gillis: That’s what happened earlier. I needed tamas. I was meditating and trying to stay in this high states. And that’s why I was just so nervous and anxious all the time.
Rick Archer: Yes.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Which was interesting. I mean, it’s all interesting. And it’s fine that I had those experiences. I got to experience those kinds of mindscapes that a lot of people would never get to experience because they would not dare tread there, places that they’re afraid to go to. And going into those mind states and those experiences without fear is, is great, really. I mean, whether it’s a state of anger. I had to learn how to have states of anger without being upset about it. I can remember one time I had washed and polished my car. It was so pretty, and I was coming back from a walk. My neighbor was mowing his grass, and the grass was going all over the car. And for a moment, I looked at it and thought “Everything is in order, it’s perfect.” And then I thought, “You know, you just washed the car, couldn’t you give yourself like one half a second, I mean just a half a second, at least. It will be fine for you to feel anger. You will not fall apart. It will be fine. Just give yourself this half-second,” then I went, “Yeah, I’m really upset” and then boom, it was gone. But just to give me that half-second at least. I had to find my feelings. I guess I thought having a feeling would make me feel insane and I was always trying to handle my family’s insanity.
Rick Archer: Yeah. That’s great. I still want to keep coming back to this theme that you said earlier about contraction is okay. I don’t know why, but I find it interesting these days, I’ve been thinking about this. It’s almost like, contraction is not only okay, what are you doing there is that contraction?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Contracting and expanding.
Rick Archer: It’s not like it’s only okay, but it’s necessary. If there wasn’t a sort of a principle in creation, that that causes contraction that contracts, we wouldn’t have a universe. And there’s, in terms of physics, is tremendous force involved. The amount of energy bound up in an atom, we know, is immense. I remember Maharishi giving a lecture one time, we were talking about Maya, which actually comes from Sanskrit roots, meaning that which is not. But he said, “Imagine the strength of grip, that could squeeze the whole ocean in a drop” he said, “It must be somehow even greater than the whole ocean, the strength of grip that could squeeze the whole ocean in a drop.” And, you know, physics tells us that in a cubic centimeter of empty, at the level of vacuum state on the Planck scale, there’s more energy than in the entire manifest universe. So, there’s this tremendous infinite potential energy, and it gets contracted down and bound up in matter. Speaking of physics, and in terms of our experience of life, it gets bound up or contracted into this teeny, teeny weeny, beenie little individuality, whereas in fact, we are this cosmic awareness, you know, we’re unbounded; the universe is like a pea within the oceans of our being. I find that fascinating, and the whole game seems to be, to integrate the two, to have that complete unboundedness and yet be able to function within boundaries within very precise minute boundaries. And without losing the unbounded awareness that you are.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, you got it. And I think that to add to that; infinity goes both ways. There’s infinite, big in terms of being big and there’s infinite in terms of being small. They can divide a particle or boson or, you know, any of those things they can divide them. They can keep dividing, they keep finding it’s smaller; it’s infinite. They can go infinitely smaller, constantly, infinitely smaller, and you can go constantly, infinitely larger. Infinity is what we think of it when we’re expanded that we’re infinite. You know, we’re infinite. We can keep going. But if we keep going the other way, we’re infinitely small also, infinity meets itself on both sides.
Rick Archer: Yep, there’s actually a Vedic phrase specifically for that, “Smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest.” Aṇoraṇīyānmahato mahīyān which means smaller than the smallest, bigger than the biggest. And it refers to that which we are. If you could zoom out to from yourself, to the perspective, where you’re seeing the whole universe from afar as it were, there you are, you are that presence, which contains the universe. If you could zoom down to the level of the Planck scale, where there actually is no materiality whatsoever, it’s just all pure potentiality. There you are; you are that presence on that level. And everything in between is encapsulating or embracing at all.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yeah, it’s definitely bigger than our awareness, our, current, laugh… I am not even going to try to phrase that, right.
Rick Archer: Yeah
Anne Sermons Gillis: I can’t get the words for that.
Rick Archer: No, I know what you mean. And again, you know, we’re playing around here, coming back and back, but the name of the game is, learn how to live both, you know, be that cosmic awareness and be that and be a specific individual, you know, be able to be riding a bicycle or trading the stock market, or whatever you do. Well, not at the very same time, your awareness is broad, unbounded, absolute, non-changing.
Anne Sermons Gillis: There are some days that really, I’m really in the flow of that. It’s amazing. And it’s unfortunate sometimes because what happens is that when I am aligned with the infinite and the finite, I am extremely productive. A lot of people think that if you’re spiritually out there, you’re not going to be productive. But when I really line those two things up, being in tune with action, I get so productive, that when people call and ask me to do things, or being on committees, I say yes. But then when I end up in a more contracted state, and I’m not aligned, and I can get overwhelmed by those commitments, because when I’m in that infinite state, there is almost nothing I can’t get accomplished. when I said, “I am going to do this book”, I got the book together in eight weeks. I was just in the flow, all the sudden, and it was like, “Oh, my gosh, I could do 10 books, it’s just really easy.” Whereas before, my internal dialogue was, “I can’t.” And then it felt like ten books were already done. And so sometimes it has its advantages and disadvantages. I remember, someone used to say that if they had a lot of things to do during the day that they would meditate longer in the morning because then they could get things done, because I think the topic was having enough time to meditate and a lot more things to do I meditate more. And I actually find that true, the more I stay centered and quiet, the more life flows. And if I feel disconcerted, and I’m overwhelmed, I just completely stop. I stop everything and just say, you know “That’s the end of this drama.”
Rick Archer: Yeah. which points to the notion that being established in the absolute and that unchanging Awareness actually impacts the relative if it’s properly integrated, in terms of greater coherence, clarity, orderliness of thinking, support, in terms of your intentions and desires, you know, you have a desire for something at some somehow seems to get fulfilled, even something as mundane as a parking place. And it’s not that you’re not that you drove more efficiently and that found you the parking places but there was a larger context in which things get organized, which is not just limited to your subjective or to your individual sphere, their impulses of intelligence everywhere, which ultimately you contain, if you’ve awakened to your status as the home of all those input systems of intelligence, then they do your bidding.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And then when I am not aligned to that, the trick is to keep my mind centered so that when things are not going my way that my mind still experiences that flow, that it is to be equally surrendered into that as completely okay, knowing that that’s absolutely right also.
Rick Archer: Yeah, because what can you do when that’s the state?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, the surrender somehow, even in the things that seem a little bit more difficult to me, often yields to sweeter states of consciousness. Not that I’m going for a state, but it is a nice dessert, but because there’s just something that springs out of that space A Course of Miracles talks about this when it says one of the most beautiful places of the world is where an ancient hatred becomes a present love. If I’m really resisting that moment, how it seems to go against everything I want, I can let go and when I’m totally present, no resistance, everything is just so sweet.
Rick Archer: Nice, Beautiful.
Rick Archer: So is this kind of what your book is EZosophy is about, having things flow easily, as opposed to struggling and straining? And do they flow easily by virtue of, of being in that, you know, unbounded awareness, or was that a whole different take you had when you wrote that book.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Let’s see, when I wrote that book, there’s so many different levels. EZosophy is what the book is about, and there many different levels of awakening to that (EZ) ease. I was awake to that level when I was awake to that level. And what I addressed mostly in that book is, I believe that our culture is addicted to struggle, and I’m not talking about the struggle of life, I mean the struggle of living, I’m talking about life as a struggle. And that’s the cornerstone of our culture, life is hard. And you have to struggle. And it’s not honorable for it to be any other way. And, we live by that code. And it’s a subconscious unexamined code that we live by. And it’s not about learning to be a positive thinker so that everything can be better. It’s a matter of deeply examining that there’s a decision down there. And there’s a collusion with our culture. And if you get outside that you seem a little bit strange and weird, but it binds us. And there’s so many people who have made that decision, that life is irrevocably difficult all the time. That is my little niche, to point out all the made-up struggle and suffering. And it’s not for people that are going for non-dualism, It is for your everyday person walking down the street. They get up in the morning, it starts with the alarm clock, “Oh, my God, I got to get up; I got to take the trash out; how can I have so many things to do?” It is that kind of struggle. That’s endemic; it’s a pandemic. Everyone has seems to have that disease. And that’s what that book is about, is learning to give that up.
Rick Archer: Well, is that the pandemic because for the most part, our society consists of people who are locked into an individual perspective, devoid of any kind of universal awareness. And if and if we had, you know, a society in which the opposite were true, then “life is not a struggle” would be the norm?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, if we were in a culture where life itself and maintaining life was not believed to be a struggle, we would be in a more expanded state of consciousness.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So yes, the question is, what which is the cart in which the horse you know, I mean, can a person enable life to become more effortless and struggle free, just by tweaking some things and the way they, you know, their attitudes, their understandings? Or does it really take recourse to, you know, absolute unchanging awareness for the relative phase of life to shift and rearrange itself, in a more effortless way?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Both approaches are valid and helpful.
Rick Archer: Go at it from either direction?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Somebody can be completely asleep, and they can have just one idea. And that idea can shake them. And that idea is that I don’t have to suffer about this. And just that very moment, because I don’t have to not suffer about it in the future. I don’t have to not have suffered in the past. It’s just in that moment, when I say, oh, my gosh, I don’t have to suffer. This, this is great. And the other side about being in the culture, there are cultures in South America whose language does not have future and the past tenses. So if you were born in that culture, you really wouldn’t have to read “The Power of Now.”
Rick Archer: Right.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Because you wouldn’t have the concept of living in the future or living in the past. And so just by the virtue of our culture, we are given certain parameters that we never know are there, just getting out of the concept of now, because we have these tenses and we live like that. So we have to learn, relearn to join the present moment to be here. And that’s the way it is with struggle, we have to examine areas of struggle. And one of the things I talked about with people and people will get it right away. And that is if you’re in a car and you’re riding for 12 hours, somebody will meet me and say, “Are you okay? You’ve been riding for 12 hours.” And I used to do a lot of driving to lectures. I just drove till I was ready to stop. “I feel fine. I didn’t die, I was just driving.” It’s more difficult now that I’m older but I stop frequently and get out. It’s more difficult for me to ride now but people think that certain things entitle you to suffering. If the weather’s not good, people are going to suffer about it. This is what I’m talking about. And the reason that I bring this up to the conversation is because this is certainly not the ultimate teaching. But I’m not the ultimate teacher either. What I do teach what I know. I do know that there are levels of pain and suffering that can be undone without having to totally destroy what you know is your life and your belief systems, you can keep moving up, or dehypnotizing yourself until you’re ready to look for infinite awareness or to long for that. But until then, maybe just wanting your life to be easier is what’s up for you.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s great. I respect that. And obviously, it almost seems absurd to, you know, be suffering over the weather. But I’ve known people who’ve done that. I mean, I remember this one person, I used to know who would go into depression all winter long. And, how crazy is that? I mean…
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, there’s, there’s also secondhand suffering, and I have to watch it, because my best friend that died was very allergic to a lot of things. And when she went into a room, if there was incense or people had on perfumes, and so forth, she would be bothered. I would walk into a room with her, and I knew immediately that there was going to be a problem. And I’d start thinking, “Oh, my gosh, she’s gonna … that.” And I had to let go of that. And then when she died, I noticed I would walk into a room, and I’d smell something. And I immediately tensed up, then I would remember that the odor was not a problem, that my friend wasn’t here anymore. And I think that we have those kinds of habits where something is no longer even there, but we’re still carrying that need to suffer. And we just project out the old thing and, and suffer, and it’s our identity too. Suffering is an identity that we love.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Now, of course, when we talk this way, we’re talking as privileged Americans who live in comfort and relative wealth. I mean, if we were one of those poor people who just died in the garment factory in Bangladesh when it collapsed, and imagining the life, the lives that they were living, even before the building collapsed, you know, working, working long, long hours, at some horror for a few dollars a day, you know, just like, there’s billions of people in this world for whom life is a struggle, by anyone’s definition. And it would, it would seem glib to just say to them, you know, just change your attitude don’t suffer. It’s kind of like,
Anne Sermons Gillis: Right. Absolutely. I usually put something of that effect in the introduction to my books that in my book. “Remember, this is ego-driven suffering. We are privileged. Remember this (book, teaching) is for the people that are really in a psychological space that we’re lucky to be in.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Anne Sermons Gillis: But one day, I went to do a talk, and it was to a group of therapists that work with homeless people. And I was to give my talk on EZosophy and letting go of ego-driven struggle. And when I got there, it was the homeless people that I was speaking to, not the therapists. And so immediately, my mind went where you did, but I spontaneity and wisdom showed up and, in my talk, and I was able to get through to everyone there about what they could not suffer about because they still had ego-driven suffering. Now, of course, they’re different types; the person you see that has this terrible haunted look in their eyes. I mean, that’s, that’s a whole different thing. And yest, and I am very in tune with the true suffering in life and honor that. There are those who contend with physical hunger, illness, and pain. I’m certainly aware of all that. This calls for compassion, not correction.
Rick Archer: Yeah, various kinds of abuse. And I mean, slavery is still the dominant and common in the world, even in the United States, there’s, you know, literal slavery taking place where people are just kind of indentured servants that being paid nothing and being forced to work. So I just kind of like it could get a little new agey and glib somehow.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I live in Houston, Texas, and they’re more slaves, more sex slaves than any other town in the country. It costs less to buy a human in dollars, if you consider inflation; it costs less to buy a slave now than it did during the time when slavery was legal in this country. And there are more slaves in the world now than there ever have been, of course, the population is bigger, but we have more slaves now than ever. I am conscious to try to buy Fairtrade items, and I don’t drink coffee, but I buy it for guest and so forth. And, you know, that most coffee is cultivated by slave children slave as well as chocolate and the sugar. And we need to be aware of their suffering, I don’t think any of us want to do anything that increases the amount of genuine suffering on the planet. It’s up to us to be responsive in our hearts.
Rick Archer: This might seem like a tangent to some listeners, that we’ve gone off on but I think it’s in keeping with the theme that life is multi-dimensional, and to render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s you have to with issues on their own level. Einstein’s famous saying that if you deal with a problem on the same level of consciousness which the problem was created, you’re not going to solve it. There is the value of bringing in the second element of deeper, your broader awareness. But that doesn’t mean you can just wallow in that nice deep awareness and expect sex slavery or starvation or these other things to disappear. And a lot of teachers whom I respect like Llewellyn Vaughan Lee, for instance, this Sufi teacher, really addressing this point nicely these days, there was an interchange at the science and non-duality conference between David Loy and, and Francis Lucille about this kind of thing. David said “Well, what about environmentalism? We nondualist should be concerned about these relative things as well.” And Francis was kind of brushing them off, “Oh, the Earth is like a speck of dust.” So it’s an interesting thing to consider.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, you know that the truth is living with both of those things being true because the Earth is just a speck of dust. And yes, I’m going to do this, consider the environment, because this is what I want to do. Because it’s my dharma. I started working for zero population growth in the 60s, I started working for environmental causes when I was very young. I mean, because you can’t wake up and not want to take care of yourself. And that myself is the tree, the bird, all of these things, and I made time to go spend in nature and vision quest and, be on the land and fast and do things to connect with earth so that I didn’t want to just be out cosmically, I wanted to be in and experience all of those things. And, you know, I’m on committees, and I’m the chairperson of kinds of things. And I’m a facilitator for environmental education. When I went to the Earth Summit in 1992, in Rio de Janeiro because I was concerned about environmental issues, and continue to take action, but if it overwhelms me, I usually will stop. I only do it, because that’s what there is to do, I don’t do it, because I have to, and the world as we know it probably will fall apart. But I have my little part.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s great. My personal advice, if I were in a position to advise anybody would be to incorporate the whole spectrum; do not take refuge in the absolute to the exclusion of the relative, nor vice versa, do not be so caught up in relative things that you don’t have access to the deeper value, in which case, you can become very cynical and depressed and even suicidal. There have been cases of people, I remember some photographer in Africa, who was photographing these starving children end up committing suicide. It’s just like, life was too much to bear had he had access to that deeper value of life, it may have buttressed him up and enabled him to deal compassionately with the horrible situation, yet not lose his own, stability or whatever.
Anne Sermons Gillis: That happened to me, too. I traveled around the world, and I was doing a lot in terms of trying to facilitate global transformation. And at some point, I thought, “I’ve got to stop, go home, and take care of myself. I’m too stretched out there. This is not working. I don’t know whether I’m making a difference or not. I must come home and take care of me.” I needed to take care of my body, my retirement, all those kinds of things. “You’re not a kid anymore, you’re going to have to…. Why don’t you get your air conditioning fixed? Get an IRA?” I’d go to India and spend the money and not get my air conditioning fixed so that I could go out on a limb. I mean, finally, it was time to maintain my life.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I admire the fact that you’ve done all that.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And, and I am relatively retired. And, for example, I’ve just published this last book. I don’t know whether I’ll sell any or not. But when I published my first book, it was imperative that I sell books. I needed to do it for an income. And now what I’ve done is that I work on my prosperity consciousness. People say, “Oh, we don’t want to be materialist.” But for me I say, “Wait a minute. If I want to pay my bills, I need to have a relationship with money in which I’m not afraid. I don’t back down. When one does not get a regular paycheck, it takes some imagination, creativity, and guts.” And I did. And my money is good. I mean, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, I don’t have to work, I can work. I can do whatever I want to do. And that is by design. I don’t have a great deal of money but I don’t have a great deal of wants either.
Rick Archer: That’s great.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I’m not ashamed of that. And it gives me the luxury of not having to sell or hawk my book. I decided to just get a few copies of this latest book. I usually get 1000s of copies of books, but now I’m just getting get a few copies. If sell through a distributor I make about $1 on it. SO I’m just selling these myself. Today the finances don’t matter as much. I don’t care. But when my first book came out, I had to sell them. This time I don’t have to, I’m going to sell them, but not aggressively; I’m going to write them. I’m going to put them out there. They can sell; they cannot sell. I’m a writer. That’s what I do.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I know. I’m thinking of Ram Das, he, you know, had thrown himself into this spiritual life and given all his money to the causes that he was concerned about. And then, you know, at a certain point, emails started to come from Hawaii. You know, let’s help poor Ram Das, he’s done. He can’t even get along now. And yeah he’s..
Anne Sermons Gillis: Oh yeah. I got one of those notes.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So, you know, you got to kind of keep it together on all levels. Basically.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, I remember the story that he told us. I heard him speak years ago, and he was telling the stories about when he had to divest his stuff. He burned all his photos. I think he said, “I am burning all these photos. They are attachments.” And then later he thought “Dang, I wish I hadn’t done that.”
Rick Archer: Yeah. “in this moment of detachment.” Right. So what’s this one about, “Offbeat Prayers for the Modern Mystic?”
Anne Sermons Gillis: When I had a spiritual center, church, I would write the liturgy, the prayers and meditations and so forth. And somebody just came to me and said, “Look, why don’t you put this in a book?” And I said, “Well, I don’t I can do this.” And she said, “Well, I’ll help you do it.” And so we just gathered together the prayers that I had written, and I wrote some introductions and vignettes of my life. Did you read the introduction to the book?
Rick Archer: I think I did. I read whatever you suggested.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Right? And so it was about, wait, let’s see, it was about waking up and different books tell it different ways because it depends on the audience how I write things. Because, I honor that there’s a way that that people will listen to me. It’s prayers to God. And I had not done that kind of prayer, like to an external God. And at that point, this was in the 80s and early 90s. But all of a sudden, I found myself in need of the image of something that could take care of me, like the parent in me was not there. And I needed to do that. So that book was written out of that need and come to find out a lot of people really loved that book and would keep it and read it in the car or bathroom. And it changed their relationship with prayer. It’s not really the way that I personally communicate with the infinite because I don’t have that much need to communicate with the infinite in that way anymore, but it’s, it’s like Psalms or prayers to God. Yeah, I used to love those. In India, you know, if you read some of the poetry, I think that I was influenced by that. And I thought, “What is my version of that?”
Rick Archer: It may not be that the Infinite is something one can pray to. I was just listening to a talk today about the personal and impersonal aspect of God and the impersonal that the absolute is not responsive. It’s like a log. It’s just like, it’s absolute. But then there would be some relative phase of God that could be responsive, and that could hear one’s prayers and respond.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, there have been responses. And you could call this a prayer. I’ll tell the story that I tell in the book, Offbeat Prayers, and it was a time when I was getting out of a relationship. And it was painful. I had lost 12 pounds, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. It was just terrible. And I was so addicted to this guy. It was like a hit, a cocaine hit or some when I saw him, and I called my mother to talk to her about it, because it was so painful. And I thought “Does God really listen and answer prayers?” I needed this to be true because I was in so much pain that I was looking for anything I could grasp. So ,I call my mother. And my mother told me about the breakup that she had with my dad. And it was exactly the same thing that happened. I mean, it was just unbelievable. She described details, and the same thing was happening in my life. I’ve got some passed down pain in my life. She told me how she wanted to stop smoking cigarettes. Oh, no. She told me about my dad. And she said, “I didn’t want him to leave”. And it was painful for her. Mom said, “I prayed and I sat and this calmness came, and it responded to me, and I could let him go. And the same for the cigarettes, after the prayer, I never had any desire to smoke. And I thought, Okay, I thought I must get with that program. I sat down, and I did that. And I kept thinking, This is so silly to talk to God like this, but I said, “I’ve got to have help. I’ve got to have help. I’ve got to let go. I’ve got to let go. This is my prayer.” And I heard this word bubble up through me it was “Ismael. Ismael,” I started feeling calm. I looked up the meaning of that. And in a book and it said, the meaning of Ismael in my metaphysical Bible dictionary. The meaning was God hears and answers your prayers. More profound synchronicity occurred that day, but the bottom line was that I was able to let go. And those kinds of things happen to over and over again. And as long as I needed that to be true for me, the universe would respond. I had another instance in which I was in bed, and I was in so much pain, getting out of that the same relationship. Boy, it was hard getting out of that relationship! And I’m in pain, I’m breathing, and I’m trying to be present to God. I was really a trooper When I look back at myself, gosh what courage that sweet little kid had. Back to the story. I’m breathing, and I’m hurting, and something crawled in bed with me. And it was an entity. And it just wrapped itself around me. And it was the essence of the person that had left. And he says, “What you think is going on is not what’s going on.” And this loving presence engulfed me and surrounded me and I was at such a peace. And I’ve just found that, regardless of whether I’m so contracted, that I need that immediate response from a higher power, or I am that higher power, that there’s always this compassion and love present, that is just amazing.
Rick Archer: That’s really sweet. And boy, that’s a mantra for all of us. What do you think is going on is not what’s really going on. We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg. And there’s something so profound, running the show, and, some something so loving and compassionate and looking over us. I believe that; it boggles the mind, if we could see that it would, it would be overwhelming.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, I had a dream one night, and it was unbelievable because I there was a period of time where I was integrating some kind of subconscious unconscious level, the masculine and feminine sides of me. And I would, I had a dream of this male presence coming to me. And it was my other, it was the male aspect of myself incarnate. And, and I realized how it had gone with me through threads of lifetimes. And it had always been there. And it had been constant. And recently I had, I had a dream, and I was with a man and we loved each other so much. And it’s like, you realize that this is only a dream because sometimes my dreams are just so absolutely real. What’s that word? Lucid, lucid, that I can’t tell the difference between the dream and the waking in the, in this, you know, I can’t tell the difference. I was telling him, “You need to know that this is a dream. And we’re going to wake up. I want you to remember this because this love is so steady. It’s so present. So always.” That was a recent one. The other one was a long time ago. But it’s like I’ve experienced all these archetypal patterns and threads that have looped within my life, whether it’s been excruciating pain, or whether it’s been unmitigated, unparalleled bliss and love. I’ve had intimate encounters with both aspects of reality.
Rick Archer: Cool. Well, this is a dream too, and we’re going to wake up, not only is the dream a dream, This waking state life is also a dream from which we wake up and realize that, it was kind of just this ephemeral kind of thing that we took so real took as so real.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I don’t know, I have no idea. I don’t know. I can’t even speculate about reality. It just presents itself as I’m limited. And I’m in course, I’m going to speak about anything: I like to talk. But in general, when I really get down to it, I just don’t know. I love to talk. I love to hypothesize. I love to speculate about reality, and it’s so much fun. And there’s so many realities that I can, join with someone and we both believe those to be true, but I am certain I’m guessing. I’m just playing a game with words. And we’re just kind of buddying up with this reality.
Rick Archer: I can, I can relate. But there are things that I am a lot more certain about than others. Like if someone said, you know, there’s absolutely no intelligence in the universe, it’s mechanistic. It’s just like little billiard balls bouncing into each other. And somehow by chance that gift gives rise to you know, kangaroos and, and, and butterflies. And so, I would say, Well, I don’t think so. I think there is probably something deeper to the story, you know, that you’re not seeing. So yeah, I wouldn’t say absolutely not. You’re totally wrong. No, because that’s, that’s too rigid a stance, but I favor one perspective over another.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, I understand. Yes.
Rick Archer: So how about your final book that apparently, I’m honored to discover you cooked up in anticipation of this interview Standing in the Dark? What’s that one all about?
Anne Sermons Gillis: When you’re a spiritual person, and you’re awake, it’s not always as smooth of a ride as you think it’s going to be. I talk about loss, I talk about death, I talk about health, I talk about mission. And when I talk about mission, it’s not you have a mission, go on a mission, I suggest to let go of your need for a mission. It’s like, let go of success, let go of your goals. It’s the let’s be on a no mission. And It’s interesting, the way that book fell together. I took a lot of things that I had written, I wrote introductions to them. And, and I thought, “What am I going to call this book, and the book?”, and I heard, immediately, I heard “Standing in the Dark,” and I thought, yeah, I’m not going to sell any books named that. Standing in the Dark: who loves to hear that? I said, “You got to convince me that this is the name of the book.” So my inner guide says, “Okay, and I’ll explain it to you. Think of how many times you’ve been in the dark, but you had to go on in your day-to-day life. And you didn’t really know what to do, your belief systems were not valuable anymore. They didn’t do it for you anymore. They were too limited. You have moved on from those, and you had to get on; you were standing in the dark; you had your little light but basically you’re standing in the dark.” I said, “Okay, that’s pretty good.” And then the voice said, “Think of how many times you’ve been brilliant. You have been ahead of your time.” I could identify because what’s usually currently in the current spiritual narrative are things that are no longer relevant in my life. “Things in the current were spiritual narrative no longer part of your consideration, and how many times you’ve known that you were speaking truth, you’ve known that you were right on. And you’ve, you’ve spoken your truth, and you’ve done it brilliantly, but you’ve been in the dark, because there was no audience that heard you.” I’ve seen that with musicians, people that were that were good, but there wasn’t an audience for them. I’m talking virtuosos. They’re amazing. More from the inner voice, “There’s also another aspect of standing in the dark. The dark has the sweet space. It’s that dark, velvety, deep, spiritual quality of life. It requires letting go, and it’s the void. And so that also speaks to standing in the dark. The title came to me and asked to be the title of the book. And then as I begin to look at the chapters, how to arrange them. There’s a story about my best friend dying and how difficult that was for me to handle. then there’s aspects in the book about making your life easier, and even some exercises on making your body healthier. How do we stand in the dark? How do we deal with that? It’s a lovely book, but it doesn’t take on the nature of regular books. It’s not getting you anywhere, it’s not really doing anything. It’s just talking about life and hoping that that will capture your heart and open you in some way.
Rick Archer: Nice. There’s that Marianne Williamson quote that’s sometimes attributed to Nelson Mandela, but it’s actually from Marianne Williamson, about what how’s that go, you know, about being afraid of our greatness and. (Here’s the quote Rick referred to: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.”)
Anne Sermons Gillis: We’re afraid of our greatness; that comes down to the expression, my aliveness, I believe that my aliveness hurts other people. If I believe my success or brilliance harms others I’m going to constantly dampen that down so I won’t hurt people through by my aliveness.
Rick Archer: You also mentioned the notion of like musicians that were way ahead of their time and so on. And obviously, there have been all kinds of people, musicians, scientists, artists, civil rights leaders, they just all sorts of people who were ahead of the curve. And there’s a Bengali saying, which is “If no one comes on your call, then go ahead alone.”
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, my oldest sister stood alone. She was much she was my mentor for many years. She had an IQ of 160. She would describe how it was in her city (small southern town) being just so much more intelligent than everyone around her and her filters for life, were so different than everyone’s. She gained a certain amount of emotional intelligence because she had the sense to look. She talked about how it was to be alone with few people she could talk with about existence.
Rick Archer: And maybe in light of this conversation in this audience, oh, people can relate to the idea of feeling a little bit alone in terms of their spiritual enthusiasm and not having a lot of comrades or peers that can, they can share that with. In fact, I get emails from people saying, I live out in the boondocks, and no one can understand this. And, you know, do you know any teachers and even places like Toronto, do you know, any teachers in Toronto that I could get in touch with and, and whatever. But there is a sort of a global network, I think of people who are waking up and who are, you know, regardless of what spiritual path they may be following who feel a kinship, and a camaraderie, and that seems to be getting more and more populated all the time with interesting folks.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, I was alone in so much of it. The first one of the first awakenings I had was, it was in the 70s. And I had gone through so many experiences, and I had been on my own and I told the universe, I said, “Look, I’m going to give this up because I know nobody else. Nobody ever mentions or talks about esoteric matters. I’ve been on this trip for years, and I am going to get off this plan unless you give me some something; you got to give me something here.” And so I heard, “You know, that book such and such, you read, okay, go get the book.” Okay, I go get the book, and it says. “Look in the back.” And it says, “You see that it says Silver Mind Control?” “Yes,” it says, “Check that out.” I called up and find out there was of course, in my town coming up in a week or two. I went to the course; it was at a Unity Church. And all of a sudden, I met 200 people who were open-minded. And before there was nobody, and as long as I believed that there was nobody, there was nobody. And then when I said, “I’m gonna quit,” or “There’s got to be somebody,” things opened up. I had a similar experience with your show. Because since 97, I’ve felt pretty alone with this, even though I’ve maybe read a few books, I had like four books. I had Papaji’s book, and Gangaji’s. I was in India for five weeks and I went to Tiruvannamalai. I got Ramana’s books and books written by his followers. I brought back everything I could and absorbed everything I experienced when I was at the ashram. I wanted to take it with me because I was so alone with it. And I Googled vicāra because I was doing vicāra. I was very literal. I was just spending every day going, “Who am I?” That was my total mantra, day and night. Who am I? Who am I? I frequently thought, “Am I really just a nut? But I figured I might as well do that, because there was anything in the mind that was interesting enough that I hadn’t examined, nothing more I wanted to do. I Googled vicāra, and John Sherman’s name came up. And that was really exciting and amazing listening to him, and what he said was exactly what I knew. But he said it and no longer was I alone or crazy with it. When he said, “You just have to contact the essential me.” I felt relieved because that was basically what I was constantly doing – was going back just to me. And then Charles Rubio and I became friends. He sold my house and helped me buy another house. Charles told me about your show. And I started listening to your shows. And I thought, “Oh my lord there’s people like me everywhere.” People are so awake to nonduality compared to how they were when I had another awakening. It was in the 90s. I was just getting internet savvy in the 90s. But there weren’t websites like BATGAP. You couldn’t get a webcam streaming live from Arunachala. Yeah, today you can sit in your living room and watch a live stream of many sacred places. It was amazing to connect with your show and find these people. And I would listen, I’ve listened to so many of your interviews and they would say something, and I would think, “Oh my gosh, I’ve had that experience. And it was something like weird. It was like, “Oh my gosh, I’ve had that experience.” It was comforting to listen because I felt like I had a friend. I remember listening to, I believe it was David Parrish and they were they were six or eight things on his interview that were like, BINGO, BINGO, BINGO. Bingo. Bingo. Bingo. And I listened to him, and he would talk about seemingly opposite things. One was like a story of expansion and the next a story of expansion. And I was like, “Yeah.
Rick Archer: Cool. Well, that was one of my initial motivations in setting this up. Because you know, I live in a town where 1000s of people meditate but there was a sort of a stigma against proclaiming oneself awakened or something. It was like, okay, buddy, you’re getting a little fool yourself here getting on an ego trip. And you don’t look awakened to me. You just look like Joe Schmo whom I’ve known for 20 years. So, tone it down a bit buster. But I thought, “There are authentic people genuinely awakening, they may not look different, but they are. Let’s start talking to some of these people who are willing to talk and put it out there and see if it can shift the attitude. And, fairly quickly, I realized it wasn’t going to happen on a local level, it needed to go out on a bigger scale. I ended up getting it on the internet. And it’s been marvelous, really fun.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And I love that. I love the internet and how it’s connected everyone and everything. It’s incredible.
Rick Archer: Yeah, this wouldn’t have been possible when I’ve when I first got online. Back in the late 80s, it would take me about three hours to download a 256k file, some system upgrade or something.
Anne Sermons Gillis: CompuServe was $3.95 a minute in the early 80s.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there you go.
Anne Sermons Gillis: CompuServe $3.95 a minute. People were not online.
Rick Archer: No, and there was no such thing as webcams or Skype or any of this stuff. We’ve come a long way, baby.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yeah. Was it Peter Russell that wrote The Global Brain?
Rick Archer: Yes.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And what he was talking about was that we knew that there was going to be a shift in consciousness; we knew something was going to happen, to connect us, but we never imagined that the internet was going to be what it was. That’s what so many of us were thinking, “Something’s going to happen and something happened.
Rick Archer: Yes, at least on a technological level, that’s what it was. And it needed to be that or something like that, in order to interconnect everyone. We could even speculate that the arising of the Internet is a physical reflection of the awakening of consciousness on a deeper level. That’s how it has given it. It’s a kind of symbiotic thing where the awakened consciousness gave rise to a technology which could interconnect everyone, and the interconnectedness technologically gave rise to the ability to spread awakening. And it’s one big happy feedback loop.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes, absolutely. Consciousness is always the beginning of everything; the invisible making itself manifest is always – it always starts there. It’s exciting to see all the different ways and different forms, that it comes out of.
Rick Archer: Interesting. So we could say that it wasn’t Al Gore, who invented the internet, but rather it was, you know, Vivekananda, Yogananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and all of this Ammachi, all the various saints who have come along and who have given an acceleration to the awakening of consciousness have, if things do percolate up from the deep to the, to the manifest, who’ve given rise to this, this marvelous technology.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I am from the opposite point of view too. I know that we’re so concerned about GMOs and foods and, and organic. And I’ve been into that since I was a teenager. I lobbied for labeling and organic and all that kind of stuff for years. But what I talked about a recent article, what I pointed out was, that my belief is that we are sick. And then it if we were not sick, if we didn’t have illness in us, we wouldn’t be eating sick foods, that that really is a manifestation of us at a certain level. And so of course, we want to, I mean, I’m going to support legislation against GMOs, and all those kinds of things I can do as an activist, but certainly, I’ve got to be responsible for that consciousness of illness inside of me, because food magic doesn’t work. But so anyway, I wrote an article about that. And it was exciting to realize, because if one looks at how I’ve been a food voyeur all of my life, that our food and how we grow it reflects the consciousness of the people. And it’s just been an interesting journey. If you look over the way food production has changed, and what we can grow; how things have changed over the past 30 years.
Rick Archer: Yes. So you eat what you are.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Very good.
Rick Archer: Nice. Well, you’re one of these people that I could talk to all day. But we probably shouldn’t do that. So is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion that you know, kind of wrap-up points that you feel inspired to say?
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, one thing that we haven’t really discussed and that is, I just would like to point out even though we talk about growth and growing, I do like to point out the immediacy, I’m really with Papaji on that. There is the immediacy and it’s always now.
Rick Archer: Yes.
Anne Sermons Gillis: There’s a lot of things that I like to do, and there’s healing that I can do. But it’s almost like at any point, I can reel my mind back to now. That’s important, too, for me. And that it is only now that I can have this experience of being awake, and I am awake. Even when I’m asleep, I’m awake. This is it, and it is now; there’s no tomorrow to it. It is now and staying present in that now, just now. It is now. And whatever that it is, it is but it’s just the idea of waiting or having to put things off or somebody did it better than I did it or it’s not going to happen to me. And all of those thoughts are just very limiting thoughts. What is it that? Ramana or Gangaji said something like the biggest obstacle to waking up is the belief that it will happen sometime in the future, or that happened to someone, some master in the past. But it’s never going to happen for me. And the only time that it can happen for me is really now.
Rick Archer: Yes.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I can only be awake now.
Rick Archer: I’m glad you brought that up. After all that emphasis on growth and progress and stuff. It’s important to keep that in perspective. It’s one of those paradox things where that’s true. And growth is also true, but it’s good to keep it balanced.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Oh, definitely. I think that so many of your programs do focus on that, which to me, is that the pinnacle and that is it is now, in the present, in letting go. We haven’t focused on that answer. Hopefully, some of the listeners have had enough experience and understand that that is ultimately the truth so that they can deal with a little flip flop on the other side for a minute, without asphyxiating, because ultimately, I know and I live in the now and that’s it.
Rick Archer: I remember seeing some cartoon where this family is all sitting together meditating, sort of like a family would ride together in a car, you know. And then the little opens his eyes slightly, and says “Is it now yet?”
Anne Sermons Gillis: And also to make the distinction that now is not the psychological time; it’s not a time on the clock, but it’s just a word to us to an opening in the consciousness, where the mind can flip and let go of itself and be in more in that infinite or it’s a joining that we have with who we are, instead of holding it back like we do with our consciousness. And now is the opening, but it’s just the door. So you go to the door and you open it up. So now is just a door that we have to go through in order to get to that infinite or that letting go of the mind.
Rick Archer: And know we’re looking at is this, you know, presence that we feel, that we sense, that we perceive ,that we are, that that’s the thing that we’re looking for. So, then bingo, here it is.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Right. Three words that I think of – one is reality. And one is presence. One is now and I must also use the word life. And those would be the words that would be closest to my heart in terms of trying to language this at all.
Rick Archer: Yes, and they’re all pretty much synonymous. It’s just different flavors of the same thing. Yeah, yeah. Good. Well, this has been great. I think people will enjoy it and get a lot out of it. And, you know, maybe some of them will get in touch with you get your books and whatnot. But it’s you’ve been living a very interesting life; I would say very commendable one. I mean, I really admire the fact that you were on to this stuff at such a young age and, and living it on so many levels, you know, not just the spiritual but environmental and social justice and you know, even ecology.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Political is too analytical. Oh, Lord. Yeah. I’m on all kind of political committees and I could go to the string of stuff I o politically, but I won’t. I actually hold office.
Rick Archer: I’m with you. I mean, there was a time in my life where I brushed all that stuff off, you know, all you need to do is meditate, all that stuff will take care of itself. But I really quite fervent about a lot of those issues now.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Well, and it may be that there was a time where we have to slough it off, to really get to the spot where we can deal with it. Because if we go out prematurely into activism, what we do basically is get angry and hopeless and usually project that onto other people and we are ineffective.
Rick Archer: Yes, it’s a good idea to know how to swim before you go jumping into save drowning people.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes. We need fuel.
Rick Archer: Yes.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Meditation. Yes, feedback, contracting. Thank you so much and something that I’d like to say also to anyone who is listening, and I say this with sincerity and I feel a little vulnerable saying this. “I love you.”
Rick Archer: Oh, thank you. I hope you’re not saying that just to me. But you’re saying, everybody was listening
Anne Sermons Gillis: Everyone there, I just want you to know that I love you. And that love is alive. And it’s alive right now. And it’s a love that is me. And I’m speaking as that. And I hope that you don’t take this as being prideful or you know that I’ve got some kind of weird thing going on here. It’s simple. And it’s the truth.
Rick Archer: I think people will get it. And I think the feeling will be mutual.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Yes. And thank you so much. This has been super, I just love to do this. I’m so grateful that I can do this.
Rick Archer: Oh, thank you.
Anne Sermons Gillis: Because all I like to do is talk about this stuff. And I don’t get to do it that much.
Rick Archer: Yeah, me too. I mean, I get to do quite a lot, but not as much as I’d like. The more the merrier.
Anne Sermons Gillis: I’ve spoken in a lot of Unity churches in a lot of Church of Religious Science churches, and a lot of groups like that. And the things that we talked about today are not really the things that you talk about there. (Remember this was recorded almost ten years ago. I think nonduality has hit those churches today) And I love speaking to those people. I mean, it’s just so authentic, and it’s wonderful, but often I am giving the topic that I need to speak on. I mean, it’s great to be able to just to have no holds barred.
Rick Archer: No holds barred. No, no holds barred. Right. Yeah, right. Yeah, the wrestling term. Okay, good. So let me wrap it up. I’ve been speaking with Anne Sermons Gillis, who lives down in Texas, but travels and does all kinds of things, both online and in, in the flesh. She might come and speak for your group if you like. She’s written three books that I know of, EZosophy, Offbeat Prayers for the Modern Mystic, and Standing in the Dark, which I have on my iPad so I can’t so easily show you. And this interview has been one in a continuing series. I think this is number 172. They’re all archived at Buddha at the Gas Pump, which is batgap.com. B-A-T- G- A-P. And there you’ll find both an alphabetical listing and a chronological listing. The alphabetical ones in the right-hand column, the chronological one is under one of the menus, menus called other stuff, pull that down, you’ll see the chronological one. There’s also a tab there to sign up for a newsletter to be it’s just a simple email that comes out every time I post a new interview. There is a chat group that springs up around each interview and usually results in hundreds of posts within a week’s time people discussing very often goes off on tangents but usually get started with what we talked about during the interview. There is a donate button, which I appreciate people clicking if they have the wherewithal. And there’s a link to an audio podcast, which we’re having a little trouble with by at the moment, but hopefully, it’ll be fixed by the time you hear this, which enables you to just subscribe to the audio and listen to it on your iPod while you’re commuting or something. So that’s about it. So thanks for listening or watching. Thank you, Anne. And we’ll see you next week.
Anne Sermons Gillis: And from Texas Namaste Jose!