Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. I have done about 630 of them now and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu. You can also of course, explore the YouTube channel but the advantage of going to BatGap.com is we have, you know, different ways that we’ve indexed the interviews as a categorical index and there’s another page with a search function where you can quickly find a particular person or something. There’s also a page of the most popular interviews. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers so if you appreciate it, and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on the site. In fact, it’s on every page. And there’s also a page with alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Anne Sweet. Anne lives in Sydney, Australia, and let’s see, it’s about 3.30 my time on Saturday in Iowa and it’s, what is it where you are? 9.30 in the morning on Sunday?
Anne Sweet: It’s Sunday at 8:30.
Rick Archer: Crack of dawn. Anne has a very interesting story. And who she’s going to tell us. I’m not gonna read her bio, but she’ll just start telling her story. And she also has a very useful website, I think it’s called The End of Seeking.org and I’ll be linking to it from her page on batgap.com. There’s a lot of really good information laid out in a systematic, point-by-point way, and it’s not voluminous, it won’t take you weeks and weeks to read – long, long essays. But what she says is just very concise and, I think, based upon a lifetime really of sincere spiritual aspiration, which was fruitful for her and continues to be. So let’s get started. You’ve been with a number of teachers, some of them with colorful reputations. And maybe we should just start unless you feel like you’d like to start earlier than this. You know, what was it first sort of piqued your interest in spirituality and made you seek out some kind of teacher or teaching?
Anne Sweet: Um, I think I was a pretty unhappy person, you know, young person. And my family situation had been quite traumatic so I think I was looking for answers. And I couldn’t really, I saw that, you know, around me, you know, through the press, and my family and society and so on everyone seemed to be stumbling around, no one really seemed to know what was going on. And people were kind of living their mechanical lives but no one really seemed to have the answers. And I was asking all the questions. Why are we here? What’s this all about? What’s it all for? And so there was a, I think, from the unhappiness point of view, I was looking for a way out. And from inside, I was, I don’t know if I could Intuit something else, but I definitely wanted answers. And what really set the whole thing in motion was a book I picked up in London, which was a book of Osho in the mid-70s, or, I think 1977/78 and suddenly, in these pages were all the answers that I had been looking for. And I’d never really been able to kind of fit into the mainstream society of wanting a job and a husband and family and so on and he was saying ‘You’re not here to fulfill other people’s expectations, you’re here to find who you truly are’. And I’d never heard that, I’d never heard about spiritual teachers or spiritual teachings. And this was the first exposure. And I was I was aflame, I was absolutely aflame. And I think within a very short time I was living in India and part of the ashram and so on. So that was the beginning for me. And I think, you know, I didn’t, I didn’t even think to look for other teachers or other teachings. I had this book of truth, what I thought was a book of truth in my hands and that was more than enough for me. So that was the beginning. I think I was 24 or 25, something like that.
Rick Archer: Yeah I was gonna ask how you got through the 60s without having heard of other spiritual teachers and things, but you were only 14 or 15 in that period, so, you know, you wouldn’t necessarily have heard about them. And the thing about suffering, you know, I mean, I also went through some pretty rough stuff and a lot of people did. And, you know, I have this feeling that all is well and wisely put, and in my own life, I don’t think I would have been as dedicated a spiritual aspirant if I hadn’t had such a rough time. Some, maybe not everybody needs that. Some people have a pretty smooth ride, and they just, you know, like our friend, Harri Aalto whom we were just talking about. But, you know, for me, at least, the contrast was so great between what I had been going through and what I began to experience as soon as I, you know, got into meditation and spiritual things I thought, well, this is it and I never looked back. Okay, so. So you went to Puna, right to the Osho ashram and you ended up spending time in Oregon also. And I’ve interviewed quite a few people who were with Osho including one guy who was sort of his personal bodyguard or something, I don’t know, he’s pretty close to him. And even though Osho has a rather checkered reputation, most of the people I’ve spoken to feel like it was worth it, it was a good thing. They don’t really have any regrets. Although, you know, probably, many of them, like yourself, did leave before the whole thing completely fizzled out. You feel that way, too. It was sort of like alright, that was an interesting experience and I learned stuff?
Anne Sweet: I think if I’d been wiser and more mature, I would have chosen a different teacher for sure and one with less kind of complexity and
Rick Archer: Fewer Rolls Royce’s.
Anne Sweet: Yes fewer Rolls Royce’s
Rick Archer: One or two?
Anne Sweet: Yeah none at all. You know I would have probably gone for someone different but that was the stage I was at too you know. I was a kind of misfit and it was a sort of community of misfits who all came together around Osho. So there were some very beautiful aspects to the whole thing and some quite remarkable aspects. And it was wonderful to be in that. You know thousands of young people all in this Indian ashram meditating and dancing and working and so on. And the times with him when he was teaching were very exquisite, you know. All of that was fantastic. But there was so many deep flaws running through the whole thing and some very distasteful things which I can’t accept, I don’t accept as being the right way to go about things. So my hindsight is very mixed, I would say, very mixed.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, I sometimes think to myself, geez, I wish I could have had my current level of wisdom and maturity when I went through high school, you know. But it doesn’t work that way. If I’m reincarnated, maybe I will. Did you feel that Wild, Wild Country was a fair representation of that whole scene?
Anne Sweet: It probably didn’t go deep enough into some of the less salubrious aspects of the whole thing. I think it gave a broad overview. I thought it was pretty accurate. But I think a lot more went on that wasn’t shown that were negatives.
Rick Archer: Okay. So I guess at some point, the Titanic was sinking and you managed to get into a lifeboat and sail on to something else, right?
Anne Sweet: Yes.
Rick Archer: And that something else was that Andrew Cohen right away? Or did you do something in between?
Anne Sweet: No, what happened, a bunch of the artists from the ranch from Oregon we all moved east to the North Shore of Boston and had a big house together and we’re trying to put our lives together. We’d been living, you know, in this ashram situation, very unworldly. None of us had really, you know, any kind of qualifications to get our lives together. We didn’t have any money a little gone to, you know and that’s when the channeling thing just spontaneously happened. So I suddenly found myself in this other dimension or with access to this other dimension so that that kind of happened for a couple of years.
Rick Archer: Elaborate on that a little bit. I mean, how did it start happening and what actually happened?
Anne Sweet: Um, well, we were all pretty traumatized after the ranch was starting to collapse and it was a very traumatic time. And I was with a girlfriend, a friend of mine, in an ice cream parlor somewhere you know, near Boston. And she was pouring her heart out and saying, I don’t know what to do, and my family’s falling apart, and I have no way of making a living, and so on. And we’re eating ice cream and I felt my eyes close. And this deep, it was almost like a deep slumber, but it wasn’t a slumber it was as though I was falling into the very center of my being, and I couldn’t keep my eyes open. And this voice that wasn’t mine came out of me and started telling her, just giving her a kind of broad view on who she was. And very gently, very kindly, very uninvasively really not telling her what to do but just framing the whole thing and making it easy for her to see what the next steps might be. And I don’t know how long it went on for maybe 15 minutes or something and I opened my eyes and both of our ice creams had melted and we were just staring at each other going ‘what on earth was that?’ It was very exciting, because it totally spoke to her. It was absolutely accurate for where she was and what was happening. And so we went home, and I experimented on everyone in the house to see if this would happen again. And it did it and the entity that I was working with or who came through me or whatever, they started to train me on how to be grounded in the whole thing and who they were and what it was all about. And so I just naturally did that for a couple of years. people came, you know, I didn’t have to advertise people just came.
Rick Archer: Did you manage to make a living at it?
Anne Sweet: I did, yeah.
Rick Archer: So there’s your solution to that.
Anne Sweet: I was also an artist. So I had these two.
Rick Archer: Who was the entity? Who did they say they were?
Anne Sweet: The final group of entities that I worked with called themselves Entity Kailith. So it was a group that came through as one voice.
Rick Archer: Isn’t that interesting? I mean, I guess a lot of people who channel and I’ve interviewed a few channelers but I don’t remember the details. I’ve interviewed Bashar and a few other people but don’t remember whether they just came on like yours did or whether they tried to make something happen. But it is an interesting phenomenon. And it didn’t seem to hurt you any right?
Anne Sweet: What it did, I mean, I always found it mystifying. And I always found it terrifying because the client would come and sit in front of me and I wouldn’t know them, I’d never met him before. And I had no guarantee that anything would happen, you know. So I was always incredibly nervous because I had no control over the whole situation. And then these things would come out and they would really all be amazing, they would be amazing. And the people would be incredibly grateful for that insight. And so my mother came for a session, you know. She was a psychotherapist and university lecturer and very suspicious of this whole thing that I was doing. I couldn’t understand it. I also didn’t understand it so I wasn’t very helpful in explaining it to her. And they talked about her in a way that I had no way of, I’d never been, I didn’t know all those things about her psychology and who she was as a person. But what happened was I kind of ended up not being very part of the earth.
Rick Archer: Got two ungrounded
Anne Sweet: Yeah became very ungrounded and part of a different sphere and quite fragile physically I think, as well. And also, you know that particular realm, that dimensional sphere, I didn’t know very much about it, contains some very negative entities as well as very positive entities. And I started getting a few sort of cyber-attacks from these guys. And so it seemed to me that it wasn’t doing, I didn’t want to be exposed in that way and I felt it was really time to get my feet back on the ground. So
Rick Archer: When you were doing the channel did you feel that you were really being taken over as if some other intelligence was using your mind body system and you were just kind of back in the corner someplace allowing it to happen?
Anne Sweet: Yeah, absolutely. They were using my brain and my way of speaking my words, you know, my language and so on. But I didn’t have the information that they had.
Rick Archer: Did you feel like you could have just said alright, I’m quitting right now I’m standing up or were you so taken over you couldn’t have done that?
Anne Sweet: The taking over was very beautiful. It was a very, it was a very deep, meditative place. And with the entities that I was working with, it felt very, very safe. You know, it was a beautiful space for me to be in, almost a place of rest on one level. So yeah, and there was never pressure, there was never, it was always incredibly respectful. And no, there was no pressure put on me to continue or to do anything outside of what you know, felt good for me. So they’re beautiful, the entities were just beautiful, like, you know, like best friends. And they would help me with my relationship, you know. What they would usually say it was my fault, whatever was going on was my fault. And so they became kind of a family. And it’s an odd sort of family.
Rick Archer: Interesting. The first time I was on a course with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1971 I didn’t know anything about channeling but he went into the whole thing about it and how, you know, even though the entity might be positive, and even though the information might be good, it eventually breaks down your mind/body coordination, and therefore, it’s not conducive to your own evolution. And that’s a bit of a generality, but he cautioned against it. And there are a couple of people whom I’ve interviewed who weren’t trying to channel or anything, but they’re kind of open and one of them was sort of a long-distance healer and stuff. And they both reported, three people I can think of now, who all reported being besieged by some negative entities all of a sudden, and you know, what the heck is going on? And, you know, just not quite knowing how to fend it off or turn it off. So this is, I guess, maybe just a cautionary note on opening ourselves up to something that we may not fully understand.
Anne Sweet: You don’t know what you’re going to get?
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Anne Sweet: You don’t know.
Rick Archer: Interesting. Okay. So what was it that ended that phase? Did it just kind of fade away at a certain point, or did you make a decision? Like I’ve done enough of that. Was it because you were getting so ungrounded? You thought you’d better stop?
Anne Sweet: Yeah, yeah, it was, it was time to get into my worldly life.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, good. And then what?
Anne Sweet: Then, after, I think there were a few years I looked after my parents as they were ill and dying. And then I moved to Byron Bay and that’s when I came across one of Andrew’s books. I’d been back to the ashram I think to live back in the ashram in India for another year. And I sort of saw through, you know, it was a very mythological situation with Osho, you know, he was this mythological figure. And there was a lot of glamour and a lot of money swishing through the ashram, you know and it was impossible as someone who wasn’t, you know, like a close disciple, to kind of penetrate the mystery. But I was living in the ashram for that final year and I kind of saw through. It satisfied that year, Osho had died by then. But it was finished. So the Osho thing was finished. And this book of Andrew’s again, it set me on fire. I think I was really ready for a close and serious relationship with the teacher. I’d been, you know, at arm’s length with Osho. And I really desperately wanted to get somewhere in spiritual life and I was prepared to risk everything, go anywhere, do anything. I just had enough of not understanding and not realizing what this whole thing was about. So I threw myself in headfirst with the whole thing with him. And that was, you know, eight years of being with Andrew,
Rick Archer: Did you know my friend Igal Harmelin in those days?
Anne Sweet: Yes. Yes. We’ve been in contact recently. Yeah,
Rick Archer: He’s a good guy. He was actually on BatGap years ago towards the very beginning. In fact, I think he was still with Andrew at that point. Okay. And so obviously, that whole situation eventually broke down with controversies swirling around and so on. But you feel like you got a lot out of it. Or did you?
Anne Sweet: Yes, again, yes and no. It’s very, very mixed in retrospect. There were a lot of great positive things. I mean to give oneself so totally, and he insisted that you gave yourself totally, so you know, it was an environment where we were all operating at our highest level, the highest level possible that we could all the time. And we were doing enormous amounts of practice, I mean, hours every day of intense practice and meetings where, you know, you kind of, it was imperative that you sort of expressed an enlightened view whether you were enlightened or not kind of thing. So the pressure was enormous.
Rick Archer: And why would you want to do that? Was it supposed to actualize your enlightenment if you expressed one even if you weren’t or was it kind of one-upmanship, where everybody had to sound like they’re enlightened.
Anne Sweet: Um it wasn’t one-upmanship, I think it was to draw on the enlightened perspective within oneself. So you had to sort of find a way of putting your ego aside and speak from your authentic self. And the consequences for not doing that were really severe. You know, it was a very punishing environment. You know, if you got it wrong, you were sort of, yeah, it wasn’t very pleasant if you didn’t manage to.
Rick Archer: I mean, I heard stories about him making people stand in cold water or, you know, do other physically painful things. Yeah. So that’s the kind of thing that you’re alluding to?
Anne Sweet: There was that. There was quite a lot of that. But there was also a lot of shaming and making people feel really awful about themselves, like they were fed failed, and there was an unhealthy undercurrent to the whole thing.
Rick Archer: Seems like that would really be fodder for people with sadistic personalities who love to bully people. It would sort of be an opportunity for them to really indulge in that tendency.
Anne Sweet: Perhaps, yes, yes.
Rick Archer: Because I was in an encounter group one time in the late 60s, and there were certain people who were just nasty and bullies. And they, you know, the encounter group was like yelling at each other and things like that. And some people were really good at it, because they were, you know, that’s the way they were. People were shattered by being the recipients of that.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes, yes. And I think a lot of people did get shattered. And I think a lot of people left feeling like they had failed as a person and failed in spiritual life. And I think that’s a very unfortunate and damaging legacy to leave with people.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Was there, did Andrew sort of feel like he was a latter-day Milarepa or something and it was appropriate to treat people that way for their own ego diminishment?
Anne Sweet: Well, I think I think you’ve understood the situation very well, Rick. I think Andrew believed that his enlightenment was perfect and that he had no more ego to deal with and that everything that he did, and everything he said, was coming from this, you know, profoundly enlightened place. And he had no authority over him, you know. He’d fallen out with his guru, his guru had denied him. And so he, you can imagine the consequences for him. So exactly those consequences ended up playing out. So I think you’ve understood it very well.
Rick Archer: What do you think about his efforts around atonement and rehabilitation in recent years?
Anne Sweet: I think maybe initially, his apologies to his ex-community were genuine but they didn’t go far enough. I mean, a lot of us are still very much in touch. You know, we’re in contact with each other. And there’s a lot of unfinished business around Andrew. And he apologized to a few people in person but not the majority of us, you know. And I think very, very quickly, as soon as he started to get back on his feet a bit, I think the first couple of years when the whole thing fell to pieces was very traumatic for him, and incredibly devastating as it would be, and should be. But I think as soon as he started to get a little bit stronger, the desire to reclaim his position as a guru came rushing back in, and so I mean yeah, I think you can’t build something new. He’s building a new kind of community. I don’t think you can do that and still leave this enormous mess behind you. So it’s incomplete for a lot of people.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you had a great quote from somebody was it Nisargadatta? I’ve got it in my notes someplace about how you can’t sort of – you remember the quote?
Anne Sweet: Yes, you can’t leave a mess behind and move on, it will pull you back.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting. It pertains to a lot of possibilities that quote, but it’s a good one. Yeah, so what was the final impetus for you to leave that scene?
Anne Sweet: Um, I was exhausted and I was broke and I was trying to establish myself as an artist in London which very difficult thing to do and my health wasn’t very good. And there was just this kind of disaster approaching of, you know, financial, physical, and every other way, emotional and I think I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I didn’t, I just, I’d had enough. I’d had enough of the whole thing. And some things happened that I felt were just not right. You know, they just weren’t right. And I didn’t want to be part of that anymore. This kind of impersonal, only the teachings matter, you don’t matter. You know, it was some kind of cruelty to people in very vulnerable situations, very vulnerable states. And I just felt that was so inhuman, and I just knew that if I fell into a hole like that, I would be treated the same way. And I didn’t want that. And I’d also treated other people in my time the same way. You know, we were all enculturated to be very fierce and ferocious and shaming and so it just, it was the end. I couldn’t do it anymore. And so I left.
Rick Archer: Well, I’m glad you did. And that’s a syndrome that you see in spiritual groups sometimes is the ends justify the means, you know, we have this grand glorious, it’s like the Blues Brothers, we’re on a mission from God. Lose brothers. And, and so, you know, you kind of doesn’t matter if there’s a few casualties. You know, you have to throw a few people overboard, because our mission is so grand. And it doesn’t culture the heart. I’ll tell you that. No, absolutely not. And culturing the heart I think is an important aspect of spirituality unless you can be an enlightened sob, but I don’t know if you’d want to be.
Anne Sweet: Yeah, exactly. Exactly. So the heart was missing completely.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and then at some point, you got involved with Lee Lozowick, right?
Anne Sweet: Well, yes, Lee had a wonderful influence on those of us who were kind of the walking wounded from the Andrew experience. He took us under his wing and very kindly just reoriented us, because, you know, for us, he was a peer of Andrew and so we could trust what he was saying. And he was very critical of Andrew and what had happened and his teaching methods. And he kind of saved many of us. He just took care of the whole situation and calmed everything down. And a lot of us were able to find our feet because of him because when you leave a cult situation, you know, you’re a mess, basically, you’re a mess. And I was definitely a mess. I couldn’t quite put the two things together, you know, the commitment that I’d had and then the fact that I’d left. And so I was trying to put the story together and these two realities, which was sort of crashing. But I think for me, something happened before I got involved with Les, that was really the turning point for me, after leaving Andrew, and maybe it would be good to cover that. So when I left I was completely alone. I didn’t know anybody else in England and I was trying to establish my art career and I didn’t want to move back to Australia. But I didn’t know anyone and I had very little money. I was horribly in debt from those years with Andrew and I had no way to live because I was living in the community. And so I was a complete mess, you know, emotionally and physically and mentally and so on. Anyway, I found a little room to rent. And I was alone in that little room and I was alone in the studio and I didn’t have anyone around to bounce off and I was starting to fragment mentally I could feel that. I couldn’t kind of, I wasn’t keeping it together and that was an unknown thing for me. I’d always somehow managed to keep it together but I realized that I was getting in trouble. you know, mentally I was starting to get into some dangerous water. And so I started to meditate really more seriously than I’d ever done before because I needed to find this place of stability within myself. And the meditations, I think, because I’ve done so much practice for so many years suddenly, there was peace, you know, in the meditation, there was peace and stillness and there was safety from the storm. And every time I meditated, I would be back in this ground of no problem, you know, infinite, ease and calm and peace. And then I would get up and all the craziness would start and my mind would go crazy, and my emotions would go crazy. And at a certain point, I just saw that I was living in these two completely different realities – two completely different realities that didn’t seem to have anything to do with each other. And I’d never investigated my experience in that way and I don’t think the teachings of Andrew or Osho or how I interpreted them had led me to doing that kind of investigation. And I thought I can’t be completely sane and clear and at peace one second, and then a completely mad person the next who was afraid of losing their sanity and falling into some pit that they couldn’t get out of. So only one of these can be true, only one of these can be true and which one, which one is it. And the pressure was really building in me because I was literally, you know, losing my mind with all the conflict that I was in. And at a certain point the pressure built to a certain point where I knew I had to make a leap, I knew I had to make this leap out of the kind of burning tower that was me because there was no longer safety there, I had no safety in that identity anymore. And at the same time, I was, as we all are, incredibly attached to this self, this personal self, this identity as this is who I am. But the house was burning down and I had to make a decision. And so in the midst of all of this pressure and intensity I chose that ground of peace and being as myself, because it was the only stable thing. And it was always available, it was always present when I chose to be there. So suddenly my whole perspective changed and my whole identity started shifting to this wellness and wholeness and completeness and fullness. And I would swing back and forth as well, you know, I would find myself back in the personal perspective but it became less and less home for me. And I couldn’t wait to get out of there because of the contraction and the constriction and the unhappiness of it. And so I gave all of my focus and again, I had nothing else going on, I had no friends, I had no one to speak to so all my attention for this, I guess it was a six-month period, went on grounding myself in this, what for me, even though it wasn’t new, it was incredibly familiar to me from all those years of practice, was this still aware, open selfhood. And eventually, that’s where I remained and didn’t flip back and forward anymore. So that was really the big shift of perspective, the big shift of identity. But by then I was really burned out with the whole spiritual thing. And I finally felt good, you know, for the first time in my life I was happy, I was settled in myself, my seeking had come to an end, miraculously, I no longer had it. I thought I’d fallen off the path but I thought, well, I feel good I don’t care if I’ve fallen off the path. And that was enough for me, you know. After all those years of trauma and seeking and intensity to finally come into myself was an enormous resolution. And so I had no desire to be with a teacher again. The momentum of seeking with Lee was still there but everything in me said I’m not going near a teacher, I don’t want a teacher, I’m done with this whole thing. And again, I thought it was kind of a failure on my part that I didn’t want to continue seeking because seeking was my whole life but I’d done it. I thought it was over for me and so for years, I didn’t pay any attention to, if I came across some sort of spiritual thing, you know, on Facebook or something I would feel physically ill, you know. If I came across some sort of quote from Maharishi I’d be like, Oh God, you know. So for years, I couldn’t bear anything to do with spirituality.
Rick Archer: What were you still meditating during those years? But just somehow, essentially you were able to just choose, you know. Because I went through a phase also where it was like swinging back and forth and it was heaven and hell and heaven and hell but I couldn’t have just chosen or at least I didn’t know I could, I didn’t think I could. But eventually, it smoothed out, you know but essentially you were able to just make that choice and it actually stuck.
Anne Sweet: Oh no, no, no. Well, as I said, my house was burning down, it was an emergency. If I’d stayed just as I was I would have bombed out, I would have bombed out. So the risk of making that choice and of shifting that identity, the words are clumsy but I know you know what I mean, was less frightening than staying as I had always been.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I do think we could talk about this more later, maybe. But I do think that everything you had gone through prior to that got you to the point where you’re able to make the choice. You wouldn’t necessarily have been able to make it 20 or 30 years before.
Anne Sweet: Exactly,
Rick Archer: Which, you know, is a whole topic we can get into. But there are all kinds of spiritual practices and things that people do on the path. And they can have their value in, you know, maybe even though they’re not ultimate, in some sense, but they have value as preparatory things that get you to the point to actually cross a threshold when you’re ready or to get you’re ready to?
Anne Sweet: Yes, I think that every tuning that you make, towards your own self, counts towards your eventual transformation. I feel it’s a build, you know. You build and build and build. For some people that happens very, you know, can happen very quickly and automatically with no, you know, prior history with it. But exactly, as you said, it all goes towards this one, one thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah and there’s also a neuro physiological thing going on where actual changes are taking place in the brain and nervous system which need to take place because, you know, what we’re talking about here ultimately is a very different style of functioning. And if the mind is functioning differently or the consciousness is radically different, there’s got to be some corresponding radical difference in the way the neurophysiology is operating.
Anne Sweet: Yes, you have to build those grooves.
Rick Archer: Yeah,
Anne Sweet: most people have to build those grooves. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Okay, so then what?
Anne Sweet: Well, then, I think I became a little bit interested in spirit that was maybe 10 years and I was focusing on building my art career and that took, you know, I had no money and,
Rick Archer: Is that one of your art pieces behind you on the wall there?
Anne Sweet: Yes.
Rick Archer: Nice.
Anne Sweet: And so that was taking up enormous amounts of my energy and time. I moved back to Australia and then met my partner and then when life sort of settled down a bit I started reading again, I started reading the scriptures and the teachings again, and I couldn’t believe it. It was like I actually understood them. I understood them not in the way that I, when I had read them all those years before, they were pointing to something that I intuited but couldn’t reach myself, I couldn’t. I was longing for what they were saying, but I wasn’t there. And their words filled me with this longing and this, you know, desire for liberation but it seemed a long way away. And then, here, I was reading again. I knew what they were actually talking about from my own experience. And I thought this, this is weird, this is weird. And it didn’t really matter which tradition or which teacher I was reading, I understood. I kind of understood where they were coming from and what they were trying to impart and, and how their methods might work, and so on. And I understood, you know, the different arguments from the different traditions and why they were arguing those points. And that made sense to me and I could see the truth in this and I could see the truth in that and I thought it can’t, it’s not possible that I can understand this, it’s not possible that I can read these and know what they’re talking about. And I thought, I’ve been deluded so many times in spiritual life. And I know so many people who’ve been deluded about their state and where they’ve arrived at and everything. And I thought, I’m probably deluded. You know, I’m probably completely deluded. And
Rick Archer: That’s an interesting point that you make there because one thing I often say is that the first thing that delusion does to you is deludes you to the fact that you’re deluded. So the fact that you thought you might be deluded was a healthy sign, I think.
Anne Sweet: Well, I didn’t have that insight when I was saying I was deluded. And so, you know, I was reading ferociously again and I wasn’t finding any fault in my own understanding but I totally doubted myself. And so I, there was a kind of grumpy old Vedanta teacher that I felt I could trust with my story, I really needed to know, I really
Rick Archer: Sailor Bob?
Anne Sweet: I’d rather not say,
Rick Archer: Oh okay.
Anne Sweet: So I really wanted to know, I didn’t want to get involved with the teacher. But I needed to know, am I completely off the rails? Have I actually now lost my mind, you know, and think that I’m enlightened or something? Or do I understand what I understand is what I understand and where I’m based the truth. So I wrote him this long letter, he’d never, I’ve never written to him before, or been to any of his classes, or retreats. And I didn’t expect to hear back from him. But I had to put it out there. So I wrote this letter. And I just said this is what I understand. And can you please, I don’t care what you tell must tell me the truth. And he wrote back almost immediately, very generously, and said, No, you’ve understood, you’ve understood. There may be some small areas of ignorance that you need to, you know, to tackle and so on’. And, and he said, ‘But yeah, I don’t have anything more to say to you’. So I thought this was amazing and quite disbelieving really. But it satisfied me. Again, that satisfied me. And so I thought Okay, well, I can forget about this whole thing again. I don’t need to worry about being deluded. I’ve understood something. I didn’t put a name on that understanding. It was just like, I understood something, I’d solved the riddle of my own existence and that was a huge thing for me. And just for that, I was completely grateful. And the fact that it was stable and enduring and I didn’t have to do anything for it, was marvelous. So you know I just carried on not being interested in spirituality, basically. And then, quite recently, maybe a year or two ago, 18 months ago, something – I hadn’t really ever spoken about what had happened, you know, I’d maybe mentioned something about it to a close friend, or what have you but essentially I’d kept it to myself all these years, because, yeah, why would you talk about stuff like that, you know. It’s like, sounds really weird, you know, ‘oh, I understood that’, you know, I couldn’t imagine, you know. And then, as I said, about 18 months ago, I started to really, really want to talk about all this stuff, and really share with other people what their perspective was and what my perspective was. And a friend of mine, Amir Fryman, who’s an author of a spiritual book, and is doing a Ph.D. on spirituality, and spiritual exemplars. He was putting out these amazing things on Facebook about his process and his inquiry and being so vulnerable about his questions and how they were affecting him. And I lit up like a Christmas tree. I thought this was amazing that someone could be so vulnerable and expose themselves especially because I’m so secretive and private. And so I started to engage with him on Facebook. And then I thought I’ve got to talk to him, I want to tell him my story because I know he says he’s a dharma brother, I really want to share because I was bubbling over by this time with the need to engage with all of this again. And so I emailed him and asked him if he would mind that I told him my personal story, and he was very gracious and very respectful. And so I told him my story via email, and he seemed to think it was very significant. And he invited me to be an interviewee for his research on spiritual exemplars which I thought was hilarious, and I told my partner Oh, oh, Amir thinks I’m a spiritual exemplar. And we both thought it was hilarious, you know? And, and I didn’t think that I had anything to offer Amir. I had no knowledge I had no, you know, I wasn’t carrying anything around with me of any particular value that I could relate to. And so I said ‘Yes’, you know, because I trusted him. And I thought, what, why not? But I expected to be kind of made a fool or expected to sort of just be cringing going, I don’t really know the answers to your questions. And anyway so he’s a fantastic interviewer. I mean, he’s really a wonderful interviewer. And he just kept probing, he just kept probing and asking more and more detailed questions about my experience and what I understood and so on. And I had, I had all the, I was able to answer him, I was able to clearly and easily, just by going into my own experience, tell him what that experience was. And it was amazing to me to hear myself talk like that because I’d never heard myself talk like that. And I’d never asked those questions of myself. So I didn’t know that I knew, I didn’t know that I knew. And it’s not a knowing of facts but it’s a knowing through one’s own being of what all of this is. And so we did a dozen or so of those formal interviews and covered a lot of ground and it was marvelous, it was absolutely marvelous. And I was still, I was still hiding out, you know, and then he started to put some excerpts on his Facebook page. And people responded in the most full-hearted way, it was amazing. And they were just pouring themselves out with how that affected them, and how that could relate to their own experience and what that meant to them. And I was at home hiding you know, I everyone else was pouring their hearts out. And I thought this isn’t good enough, you know, I actually have to turn up for this. And so I put a little comment at the bottom of the whole thread and said, ‘Oh, well, I’m the person he’s talking about and thank you for all of your comments, It meant a lot to me. And from that point, I slowly started to, you know, if you come out once you have to actually, have to keep on coming out to all the different things. And it was excruciating because, you know, I don’t like exposure and I am a very private person. And so the me that still exists inside was just cringing. And yet, there was a, there was like a rolling momentum inside that this just insisting that this keep going forward, that does just keep going forward. And little by little, I got more used to it and more attuned to it, I still find it all weird, a bit like channeling, I find the whole thing a bit weird.
Rick Archer: ‘Don’t hide your light under a bushel’. Jesus said.
Anne Sweet: Well, I think there are there are other forces at work in these situations that have their own ideas. And so I guess those other forces just kept pushing me forward. So that, and then I woke up. I don’t know if I was awake or asleep. Am I talking too much?
Rick Archer: Oh no you’re great. Keep going. Better you than me talking.
Anne Sweet: And then one morning just over a year ago, I was kind of half-asleep or asleep or awake, I can’t remember, early in the morning, and this big booming voice, like it felt like a man’s voice in my head said, ‘You will create a website. It will be called The End of Seeking and you will start immediately’. And honestly, the room was just full with this sound of this voice. And I was so intimidated by it. I woke up and started making the website immediately. I literally started you know, like 10 minutes later, I had no idea how to do that or what to say or how to organize my thoughts. It was complete torture, it was absolute torture. And at a certain point, I just said, ‘Look, if you want me to do this you have to help me you have to guide me in this. I don’t know how to do this, it’s too complicated, too hard. I’m not a writer’. And so I felt like I got the help I needed which was to destroy everything I’d already done and start again. And over a period of about six months, the website took shape and form. But in the process of creating the website and writing these things down, I really wanted them to be, I wanted it to be helpful to people not muddy the water or make things more confusing for people. So I had to, every word had to count for something. I didn’t want any fluff. There’s plenty of information out there but I wanted this very direct It’s a very helpful, very purposeful website.
Rick Archer: You know it didn’t have a lot of fluff and I haven’t read every word on it yet but it’s just very systematic as I said in the beginning, you know, bullet points and it’s easy to follow. And that makes, it gets right to the heart, I think of a number of very important matters, or matters, that should be very important to anybody who’s serious about enlightenment. So I think you did a great job with it.
Anne Sweet: Thank you very much. I appreciate that. So what happened is I had to examine every word. Is that true? How do I know that is true? Am I just going on what I’ve been conditioned through my own spiritual search or is this actually really deeply true? And suddenly everything I thought I knew was up for grabs? And I did an enormous amount of reading and self-examination and cross-examination of myself. Am I leaning this way? Am I leaning that way? And so creating the website was really like a kind of baptism of fire for my own understanding as well, because I didn’t want to put anything out there that was just coming from, you know, an unclear place. So and then, and then we’re pretty much up to date. And then different people have contacted me for interviews like this and people, which is really beautiful, people through the website, contact me for discussions and clarifications and so on. Really amazing people. And so I’ve got a kind of negative teacher idea, you know that. I’m not interested in that area. But I think you can still provide a service and be of help and offer something of value without getting involved in all of that thing.
Rick Archer: Well, that might be a good starting point for talking about some of the points that are on your website, the negative teacher idea. Because obviously, there have been a lot of problems with many teachers. And it could be argued that perhaps they, you know, they began to teach prematurely or something. You might know Mariana Kaplan. She was with me last week for a while and her book Halfway Up The Mountain, the air of premature claims to enlightenment, both the title and the subtitle are great, I’ve interviewed her a couple of times. So there’s that premature thing. People jump into teaching, and they’re half-baked. And, you know, there are some traditions which say, Okay, once the master kind of certifies your enlightenment, he says, all right now, see you in a decade, then maybe you can start teaching. So there’s no rushing into it. And I think there’s a two-edged sword there because I think sometimes when people teach prematurely it can be disastrous not only for their students, or if not disastrous, at least a very kind of mixed blessing where there might be some benefit, but also harm. And it can be a real snare for the teacher himself or herself. Because it can go to their heads, you know, that they’re getting all this adulation and attention. And there have been a number of teachers, well known and not so well known, who really kind of went down the tubes, you know, as a result of biting off more than they could chew I would say in terms of their role as a spiritual leader.
Anne Sweet: Yeah, exactly. I mean, I think to even take the care of one soul into your own hands should fill you with absolute terror. You know, the awesome responsibility of taking even one person and guiding them spiritually should terrify you, it terribly terrifies me. And if it doesn’t terrify you, it’s probably not something you should be doing because of, what’s involved and what can go wrong, and the harm that can be created. So I think it’s an enormously significant role that should not be undertaken except under certain very stringent conditions. And those conditions mean that there needs to be also a higher authority over that teacher or a peer, you know, a peer group that gives honest reflection to that teacher and that teacher is willing to accept that reflection. And I think waiting 10 years is probably the minimum, you know, to allow all of this to integrate and to become wise, wiser in the whole thing. But I think even, you know, even with all of that the temptations and the pressures on a teacher and on a teacher’s seat, though, again, should terrify just you should terrify anyone who’s considering taking on that role. So I think you’re right that it’s not just that the students can be adversely affected but it puts the teacher in a position where they have to be right, you know, they always have to be right. And it can really narrow the teacher’s ability to be a free human being if you’re protecting a business or a reputation or having to always have the answers to everything. So I think it’s a very fraught, a very fraught role to take on.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a section on your website called hallmarks of a genuine teacher, it might be worth me reading these points. Must have a well-rounded, comprehensive teaching. Track record of flourishing students, some of whom have awakened. No unresolved scandals. Highly ethical standards and behavior. Endorsed by a respected tradition, or if self-appointed, submitting to peer review and or mentorship. Genuine humility and vulnerability and the willingness to be transparent about weaknesses or mistakes. Refuses to accept psychological transference from the student or be the subject of guru worship or dependency. Highly regarded by other well-respected teachers. Be aware, though, that teachers will often close ranks to protect each other during a crisis or scandal. Respects the students’ autonomy and independence. Clean record with money and donations. No excessive lifestyle spending, or overblown ambitions. Do not make themselves the focus of attention. Keeps the focus on their students’ evolution. So, as I read that list, teachers come to mind who both have lived up to those points and others who haven’t. And I heard something, sorry I’m not saying this is true, somebody was at an Adyashanti retreat or something and they overheard someone else saying, I can’t wait to get enlightened so I can quit my job and become a teacher. But it’s, you know, it’s a great responsibility. And then, if you believe in karma, there could definitely be karmic consequences of blowing it, you know, if you take on that role and misuse people or abuse people, or take advantage of them sexually, financially, you know, in any other way, psychologically. So it’s not something that one should rush into, you know, hastily, it’s redundant. But it’s like becoming a doctor or something, you know, you wouldn’t want to start doing surgery after your first year of medical school if you had any sense. You wouldn’t dream of doing anything like that.
Anne Sweet: Yes, exactly, exactly. And I think this is especially so for the gurus who declared themselves, you know. What is that famous saying ‘There is none so untrustworthy as the self-declared guru’. And it’s not always the case. It’s not always the case, but I think it’s a suitable warning. So I agree with you completely.
Rick Archer: Then you also agree with yourself because I just read all things myself. And we’re not putting down the teacher role here, are we? I mean we need teachers and in a way, it’s good that there are so many people now that are just teaching in small little circles, people like yourself, who are not sitting up on pedestals and are just sort of, in a more peer to peer kind of way are helping people, you know. Tich Nhat Hanh said it may be that the next Buddha is the sangha. So there is this sort of more peer-to-peer dynamic taking place these days. And there are some still big famous gurus but the peer-to-peer thing seems to really work for a lot of people.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes. Yes. And I think that maybe, you know, we’re due to a bit of a revolution in this field, you know, every other area of human life in the last few hundred years has undergone tremendous change and progress you know, like science and medicine and social changes and so on. But we’ve still got this old model of spirituality that’s thousands of years old, you know, the teacher guru, the teacher-student construct. And the traditions are invaluable. And I have enormous respect for them. But how effective is the methodology? Really? How many people actually get through to the other side? You know for all the people who go into spiritual life and spend 20, 30, 40 years studying with a teacher or being part of a tradition it seems that not that many come all the way through to the other side.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean – what are you wondering
Anne Sweet: I’m wondering if it’s not time for new paradigms to emerge in this whole thing, you know, as you said, you know, the peer-to-peer thing, or perhaps a small group of teachers that work with a small group of students, so it’s not so dependent on the personality and the flaws and the biases of a specific teacher. So I would love to see new ways of passing on, you know, this timeless wisdom that are more effective and that have less negative fallout for both the teacher and the student. I think we, I really feel we’re ready for an upgrade to how we go about this.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think it’s critical because, you know, I believe that the world could easily, there are at least half a dozen things I could think of off the top of my head that could eradicate humanity. And I really think that I’ve always believed that spirituality might be our saving grace if enough people could rise to a higher level of consciousness in the world, then it would defuse or release the pressure that keeps bubbling out as war and climate change and, you know, all kinds of things that could happen. But, you know, when people, when teachers misbehave it kind of sabotages the enterprise and so that’s, that’s another consequence. It’s not only bad for students and bad for the teacher but, you know, something so critical is taking place here, and they kind of shoot it in the foot.
Anne Sweet: That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. And I’m wondering, Rick, and I have this kind of, you know, thoughts about that, Maybe we can, we can pull the whole thing out of the ashrams and maybe it’s possible to create a technology like a non-mystical based technology where through the progress made in neuroscience and possibly with, you know, very targeted use of psychotropic drugs and some of the traditional or upgraded, you know, methodologies, meditations and so on. I know people like Jeffrey Martin are working on this and probably others. I think Shinzen Young is also working with a university on mindfulness and
Rick Archer: He’s also doing stuff with Jeffrey too.
Anne Sweet: Oh okay. I didn’t know that.
Rick Archer: In fact, Jeffrey has some kind of contraption that uses magnetic fields to stimulate certain parts of the brain. And I saw Jeffrey one time and he’d just had Shinzen at his house and Shinzen said he had had the best experience he had ever had using that contraption.
Anne Sweet: So this is what I mean. I think all of these technologies are available, which haven’t been available for 2000 years. And so you know, that methodology has, you know, worked to whatever extent up until now, but we have a lot more access to a lot more things. And I think to harness all of that, and I think it is being harnessed. I think we’re hopefully on the brink of making the enlightenment process more streamlined, more accurate, more effective, using everything that’s come before, but incorporating the new processes that are available, and I think in terms of the quickening that you’re talking about with what needs to happen, it really needs to happen. And so that may be one way – the old processes are too slow-moving for our current times. And culturally also, it belongs to a different place in time.
Rick Archer: Which is not to say we throw out the entire baby with the bathwater because there’s lots of valuable stuff in these old traditions but only a new seed can yield a new crop as they say. And essentially, go ahead. I’m sorry, go ahead.
Anne Sweet: Oh, no, just to reiterate your point, that my respect for the traditions is enormous and what they have done and the refinement and the nutting out of the incredibly accurate descriptions and ways of seeing is irreplaceable. So that all has to be brought in, it can’t be, it would be foolish beyond belief to deny all of that. So Sorry, I interrupted you.
Rick Archer: No I interrupted you. It’s interesting. Several people have mentioned to me recently this idea of psychoactive drugs being an important tool in this regard. And the way one person put it was, you know, what percentage of humanity is going to either, you know, do the kind of serious study with the teacher that you’ve done or get onto a regular practice of meditation and stick to it, like, you know, clockwork, or, you know, do various other things like that, and make and really stay with it and make significant progress. It may not be that many people, but if there could be, you know, widespread, very responsible use of psychedelics, not as an ongoing thing for people, but as a kickstart, you know, that could really open their eyes to the possibility that there’s so much more to life than they had realized, you know, springing out of perhaps the research at Johns Hopkins, or NYU, or Yale, or one of these places. That could be a much bigger society-wide catalyst for a huge shift in people’s orientation to spirituality.
Anne Sweet: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So that is something like that may be happening, and it does seem to be happening. You know, that with the legalization of things all over the place. And with the research taking place, it’s happening in a completely different context than it did in the late 60s.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes. I mean, I don’t have any personal experience with psychoactive drugs but I see the potential, I see the potential for breaking in the way that I broke due to circumstances. A targeted breaking of the old conditioning and the old self-perspective which is then supported by everything else.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I had personal experience back in the 60s, and although I was a pretty messed up kid, the takeaway from it, which I could never forget, was just that, you know, the way I had assumed that life is, I had just taken for granted that the way I perceived life was pretty much the way it is, and pretty much the way everybody perceives it. And you know, I got shifted into such a radically different state of consciousness that I just realized that there are so many different possible perspectives on life that are much more profound than the average person experiences. And, you know, once I left the drug phase of my life behind I could never forget that. And I just felt like, that’s really what life is all about, is realizing the full potential of what one can be, an experience as a human being, it’s not about accumulating this thing or that thing.
Anne Sweet: Yes, that’s right.
Rick Archer: So anyway I’m rambling a bit. But the idea of that being something that becomes widespread and, you know, there are many things which have started out with a small handful of people and have eventually become the norm in society. It always works that way.
Anne Sweet: Yes. And I look at the example say of yoga and meditation which in the 60s, you know, nobody meditated, it wasn’t a thing and yoga wasn’t a thing. And now it’s ubiquitous, and in the prisons and the schools and the corporate situations and so on. So, my secret hope, which is not that secret is that an enlightenment technology could also become ingrained within society, within culture, that this could be seen as a normal part of human development. Not some extraordinary exceptional thing that just happens to the few and that most people don’t even believe exists but something that is ingrained that, you know, that for anyone who’s interested can easily access these courses and that the discourse is happening, not just in meditation halls and in the ashrams but it’s like a new possibility for humanity for where we are now. I don’t see that that’s an impossibility, especially as we’ve talked about these new understandings and new breakthroughs happening in neuroscience and in the use of psychotropics.
Rick Archer: Yeah and I agree and, you know, there have been initiatives. The TM movement has done things. There’s a wonderful woman what’s her name? (Caverly Morgan) I don’t know, she’s teaching mindfulness and stuff in the schools on the West Coast. And there are a number of programs like that in, you know, prisons. Gangaji was teaching in prisons back 20 years ago. And so many of these really problematic areas, like the criminal justice system, have been, or like the schools in the inner cities, have been impacted so profoundly by these kinds of programs. And then there’s usually some kind of blowback, you know, some fundamentalist Christians say, Oh, you’re trying to infiltrate Hinduism into our system here, things like that. But I think those arguments will be less and less, you know, compelling or effective. And then they will reach a critical mass, you know, things become really ubiquitous.
Anne Sweet: And normalized and normalized.
Rick Archer: Normalized yeah. And like you say, it will probably have to be stripped of any kind of esoteric or eastern trappings, which it doesn’t really need to have in order to be effective.
Anne Sweet: It doesn’t, it actually doesn’t. You can always add the mysticism in after if you want, you know, I mean, I love all the mystical side of things, but
Rick Archer: but you don’t have to change your name and you don’t have to wear funny robes and you don’t have to burn incense. I mean, there are so many things that handicap the introduction of these things, because they strike people as weird.
Anne Sweet: Yes. And also, you usually have to take on a new set of beliefs.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that too.
Anne Sweet: And so none of that is necessary. None of that is necessary. And that I firmly believe is what the next stage needs.
Rick Archer: And when you mentioned beliefs what comes to mind, in two weeks I’m going to interview a guy named Joseph Selby and he’s written a book called The Physics of God which is sort of a contradiction in terms in a way because science and God, how do they fit together? But you know, the way science works, you don’t have to believe anything. In fact, you shouldn’t. You can believe that perhaps this hypothesis is worth putting time and money and effort and money and doing it might yield some kind of result. But believing it only takes you so far, you actually have to have the empirical evidence to verify the hypothesis or disprove it. So with spirituality, it should really be the same way. In the West, at least, you know, spirituality or religion has been about what you believe. And if you believe this you’re saved, if you don’t believe it, you’re going to hell, and so on. But it really doesn’t matter what a person believes. What matters is what they experience. And belief is only a starting point, I believe it will be worth my doing this practice or something because then I might experience something.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes. And I think really that’s what my website was made to do was bring it all down into this very simple thing, that we go through our lives in this contracted state, often anxious and unhappy with a sense that something’s missing, and something’s not quite right, and a sense of disconnection. And we fill that hole inside with, you know, ambition and experiences, and sex and money. And all of those things which only give a temporary sense of fulfillment when all the time we have this enormous, infinite full self that has no end, that is connected to everything, that has an uprising of that, as part of its nature, its expression is an uprising of just quiet joy and peace and love that takes care of the existential angst that most of us carry around with us all the time. And so that is really the crux of the matter, understanding that we are not this personal sense of the historical narrative, conditioned cell. But we are this ground of eternity. And it’s really just a shift of understanding and a shift of self-investigation. It doesn’t need all the trappings of Eastern mysticism. It doesn’t need a whole lot but the willingness to find out what’s in there and have enough information available that you can differentiate between these different parts of yourself, the false sense of self, and the reality of who you are. And that’s really all it comes down to
Rick Archer: Speaking of differentiating, how do you differentiate between understanding and experience? Because a person could pick up the Upanishad or something and read ‘I am that’ and ‘all this is that’, yeah, I understand that, I can kind of get it. But they’re not necessarily having the same level of experience as the guy who wrote those words. For that person presumably, it was full-blown experiential reality?
Anne Sweet: Well, they go hand in hand. Experience and understanding go hand in hand.
Rick Archer: They do, yes.
Anne Sweet: So, and each one supports the other. And without the other one is going to fall over, you need both. And I think for me personally, and I think for my generation of seekers, the experiencing side was at the forefront, you know. I wanted the bliss, I wanted to have a master, a perfect master I could devote myself to, I wanted these amazing spiritual experiences and I had all of that, but I didn’t understand what they were, I had no idea. I couldn’t contextualize them. So all they were experiences. And I thought if I had enough of those experiences I would get enlightened. And that’s a myth that simply has to die, it has to die. If I’d had the understanding and the wisdom and the teaching or the understanding of the teaching that I had to contextualize those experiences. I had to know what they meant. I had to know how it all fits together. If I was experiencing bliss and peace and an infinite spaciousness and love was that an aspect of my ego or was that something quite different? Was that a doorway into my own true being? But I didn’t have those understandings or insights. And so I spent 30 years chasing experiences until the whole show ground into a catastrophe, you know, a grounding catastrophe. And I was fortunate enough that I didn’t fall into the bottomless pit, you know, that I was able to make that shift of perspective, that shift of identity. So, yeah, so.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s good. Let me just refine it a little bit. On the one hand, if you read the Yoga Sutras, for instance, Patanjali says yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, and then the seer rests in the self, okay. In other words, you meditate and go into Samadhi. So you can say that’s an experience and it doesn’t last. But there is, and we were talking earlier about neurophysiological refinement or transformation, there is something to be said for having an experience like that repeatedly because over time it stabilizes much in the way that in ancient India, they would dip a cloth in the dye then bleach it in the sun then dip it in the dye then bleach in the sun. Go back and forth enough times and it wouldn’t lose its color even if it was in the sun. So you might say, in a way, I don’t know if it’d be fair to say that what the yogi Patanjali is writing about is chasing experiences but it’s just a certain path where it’s understood that, you know, regular, intermittent, clear glimpses of the self will eventually lead one to the point where that realization can be stabilized. Do you agree with that and feel free to disagree?
Anne Sweet: Well, it was within a context of the teachings so the experiences weren’t just happening for their own sake. Experiencing or chasing experiencing, having these experiences wasn’t just to have an amazing experience. He had a whole contextual teaching in which they were embedded. And yes, you do need glimpses you do need experiences to know what it is that you’re going towards, you need to know what to give faith and to give confidence that you’re on the right track. I’m not against experiences. I’m against chasing experiences and not knowing what they mean so that you’re on this endless road looking for experiences and looking for a kind of spiritual high.
Rick Archer: Yeah, as a matter of fact, we were talking about psychedelics a little while ago. I’ve talked to people who have friends who can’t wait for the weekend because they’re gonna take psilocybin again and they figure maybe this time it’ll break through and it’ll be permanent. They’re chasing experiences.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes so I agree with what you were saying about Patanjali that yes, all of those are significant. But again, there are two legs to this, the experience and the understanding of it and that’s what goes to make, you know, something significant and grounded and integrated possible.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I think that’s the case all the way along the journey is, you know, the two legs are experience and understanding. You can’t you can’t really make much progress if you’re just trying to hop on one.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes, yes.
Rick Archer: In fact, Vedanta very much sides with the notion of understanding or, not understanding in a merely intellectual sense but the subtlest level of understanding being the final bridge to permanent realization.
Anne Sweet: Well it’s interesting with Vedanta because Vedanta really helped me contextualize my experience. That was what really answered a lot of my lingering questions, you know. When I had approached that grumpy old teacher I’d gotten interested in Vedanta and it wouldn’t have interested me 20 years ago because I wanted the highs and I wanted the love experience, I wanted the devotion and the Bhakti and all the rest of it. And Vedanta,
Rick Archer: Which are also valid, and those are, yeah,
Anne Sweet: They’re valid but again there has to be another link to them, they can just be. But Vedanta just looked like this dry, boring textbook, you know. I thought, Oh, my God. But approaching it from a place of, I really want to understand how this whole thing works, what was that 30 years of seeking all about? I couldn’t make sense of it. And Vedanta opened those doors for me. It gave me the ability to see the relationships between all things myself, my true self, God, the world, and how they all kind of fit together. But in any system, no matter how refined and no matter how comprehensive they all have their bias, they all have their blind spot and they all, they are not reality, they are an impression of reality. And Vedanta for all of the magnificence and the effectiveness of the teaching has limitations. And I’m going to offend all your Vedanta. But I hugely respect Vedanta. But by focusing on one thing you have to deny something else. And I feel I could say that about any of the systems in any of the traditions because, you know, as we know, the map and the territory are not the same things. So
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, if I had to say what the limitation of Vedanta is, and I’ve been studying it regularly, it’s, there’s too much of an emphasis on getting out of here. You know, I mean, this life is Maya and you don’t want to, you don’t want to be reborn again, let’s just get liberated and be done with it. And there’s also not enough emphasis for my taste on the sublime nature of divine intelligence, which is another miracle and every little molecule or atom and cell, you know, just the whole thing. We’re swimming in an ocean of divine intelligence and if that doesn’t make your jaw hit the floor then you’re missing something.
Anne Sweet: What a perfect thing to say. I appreciate what you just said. That totally touched me. I think I lit up like yes, yes, I completely lost my train of thought because of what you just said. What did you say before you
Rick Archer: Oh just about you know, divine intelligence and. holy mackerel, Irene just sent in about five questions from people.
Anne Sweet: I just wanted to say one thing that’s going back to Vedanta and your take on what the perhaps shortcomings are in an otherwise wonderful system. I was watching a video by Swami Sarvapriyananda who
Rick Archer: He’s the one I’ve been studying Vedanta with twice a week for years now.
Anne Sweet: It was a wonderful, wonderful talk. And he said, at a certain point even Vedanta is false. At a certain point, even Vedanta is false. That you have to leave all of these things behind in order to see reality as it is. You can’t carry even Vedanta with you at that point. Even Vedanta is false.
Rick Archer: That’s great.
Anne Sweet: That is great. And that is absolutely in line with what my understanding of the whole thing is as well.
Rick Archer: That’s good. And once you cross the river get out of the boat.
Anne Sweet: Exactly.
Rick Archer: Now let’s talk about what crossing the river means. You have a section on your website here about common fallacies about enlightenment. And maybe we’ll go through these and discuss them a little bit. I’ll take them one by one, you can comment. Number one that enlightenment is extremely rare and only for the special few.
Anne Sweet: That is a fallacy. Yes, yes. And I think this is something that
Rick Archer: and define enlightenment before we go too far, because why don’t we all
Anne Sweet: I don’t know if I would even want to. That’s probably my least favorite word because it has so many different meanings to so many different people. It’s almost meaningless in and of itself.
Rick Archer: We agree I hate to use that word.
Anne Sweet: I really use it under duress. So I wouldn’t attempt a definition, although I’ll try if you insist. And I think I’ve said it in different ways throughout our talk already. That it is the effortless, persistent, unchanging knowing of oneself, as all that is, as the self, and that the conditioned, personal historical self is seen through and seen for what it is as a conditioned self, as a false sense of self that is no longer in the driving seat. And that the self, the true self, the self with a capital S, which contains all, which is all, is the operating system of the individual, is who that individual is. And with that recognition and that being and that effortless resting in and as the self, comes knowledge and intelligence and love and care and spaciousness and connectedness and intimacy with all things. So it doesn’t deny the characteristics of the individual, it doesn’t deny that there may be deep egoic entrenched marks within the psyche that need to be dealt with. It doesn’t indicate any kind of perfection but what it does indicate is the stable, unchanging knowing of the truth of who we are,
Rick Archer: Do you think that the stable, unchanging, knowing of the truth of who we are could possibly be just a very significant milestone and that there could be higher stages at which we might approach something more akin to perfection? And, you know, having purged, you know, kinds of shadow materials that we might still have retained and things like that?
Anne Sweet: Well, anything’s possible and in my experience, I feel that there are different growth spurts of enlightenment. That once you have recognized the self, you know that you’re the self, that’s no longer a question for you, that has embedded that is who you are there is continued evolution, there’s much more, much more that goes on. So it’s only the beginning of a process. It’s a significant, hugely important, and very desirable shift from unhappiness to happiness, from incompleteness to completeness. So it’s the beginning of a new life from a different place. But it’s only the beginning. And that continues to expand. I don’t know if it’s possible for there to be perfected beings. Maybe in this relative world, it seems a bit unlikely but anything is possible, anything is possible. But for me, again, I think what I’m focusing on in terms of with the website or with other people, is just to get over that first line, just get over the line, and then you know, then the whole cosmos, the whole spiritual cosmos is there to explore. And it’s an infinite field to explore. And someone as we were talking about Harri, you know, has gone an incredibly long way in exploring those further dimensions and so on. So, it’s an ecstatic and never-ending journey.
Rick Archer: So words are only useful if we agree upon their definitions. And if we’re gonna, you know, if we can define enlightenment, just like you said, it’s kind of this watershed point after which, you know, we know who we are, and there’s a world of possibility To explore. Or, you know, if we wanted to, we could say, it refers to what happens after you’ve completely explored that whole world of possibilities. But I don’t know if that is ever complete or ever could be.
Anne Sweet: So enlightenment is not a particularly useful word.
Rick Archer: It’s a tricky word. It just has this superlative static connotation it’s a good one. Actually, the byline of BatGap used to be conversations with spiritually awakened people. And at a certain point, we realized we had to change it to awakening because at what point can you say you’re awakened and you couldn’t awaken further or explore deeper or whatever?
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes, I completely agree with that.
Rick Archer: Okay, so some other fallacies here. Enlightenment doesn’t exist. I mean, maybe this audience doesn’t have a problem with that one. Unless it again depends on how you define it. If you define this perfection, maybe it doesn’t. And perfection means what? I mean everybody dies of something. Maybe enlightenment is you don’t die, you have a light body or you attain immortality or? But then it gets really farfetched.
Anne Sweet: Yes, it does.
Rick Archer: Enlightenment will solve all your problems, that’s an interesting one. Do you feel like you have problems?
Anne Sweet: In the relative sphere, there are always problems, that’s the nature of the relative sphere. And anyone who says that enlightenment or awakening takes care of your rent, or, you know, a disagreement with a friend or a partner or any of those things or someone taking your parking spot, you know, these are all the things that have to be dealt with, as part of life. And also I think the whole process of awakening also kind of wakens up the sort of dormant, what is it, you know, Samskaras, the dormant psychological processes that are maybe not very sound or very healthy and they also need to be kind of seen and integrated, understood.
Rick Archer: What you’re saying is sometimes you can have a profound shift, and even an abiding shift and all of a sudden all kinds of stuff starts bubbling up that you didn’t even know was there, right. Is that what you’re saying,
Anne Sweet: Absolutely. But as far as the whole thing of problems goes I think the difference is that before this shift of perspective, whatever you call it, I just think of it as self-recognition or solving the riddle of oneself which is very down to earth and ordinary. That when problems arise the problems are very immediate and you’re very unprotected against them, you know, the problems kind of hit you with no buffering. But after this shift there’s a kind of, you’re already in a very supported inner state, there’s already a ground of wellness and wellbeing. So the problems are not so dramatic or not so impactful. And there’s an ability to, often not always, to have a bit more clarity about what it will take to resolve them and so on. So the problems don’t go anywhere, but your relationship with them and your ability to respond to them can be different.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And your equanimity tends to be greater.
Anne Sweet: Yes, exactly.
Rick Archer: One handy analogy for that, let’s say you only had $20 to your name, and somebody gave you $5. Oh, thank you. Well, that’s huge. Or you lost $5 Oh, my God, I have only three-quarters of what I just had. But if you were a multi-millionaire… Who was it? I read an article recently about this billionaire who lives in Florida. And he’s not living a life I want to live. He sits in front of his computer from seven in the morning to midnight doing stock trades. He’ll call his broker at noon and the broker will say ‘Well, you’re up $10 million this morning’ and it’s not like a big deal. No big deal because he has billions. So what it’s $10 million. So in a way, it’s a kind of a crass analogy, but there’s an inner fullness that dawns and things that happen in life don’t tend to add tremendously or subtract tremendously from your fullness.
Anne Sweet: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. And there’s also a deepening of trust in the whole process. There’s a deepening of trust in the whole life process.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Anne Sweet: And, and that is a very restful place.
Rick Archer: There is. You know that thing I said a little while ago that you liked about swimming in an ocean of intelligence, but you get to feel that you know that this is a notion of intelligence and that everything is unfolding in some kind of way that exceeds your capacity to organize. And there’s a bigger organizing intelligence that’s orchestrating things for you in a way.
Anne Sweet: Yes that’s right.
Rick Archer: Okay, I’m skipping some of these things about fallacies here. We’ve already cleared the perfection business. This is a good one that enlightenment is always a sudden revelation. Sometimes people are just waiting for the big aha moment.
Anne Sweet: Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s another myth especially we’ve had here in the West, you know, for the last two or three decades that that’s the only way it can happen. And that’s the only real enlightenment. And I don’t see that as the case at all. And I think we covered that a little bit already with, you know, you saying that each of those experiences goes to concretize or to emphasize and enlighten or illuminate the being. And so they all count for something. So, I think I think there are many, many ideas about enlightenment that lead people astray and that make it possibly more difficult for people. And I’m very keen on simplifying and clarifying whatever those sort of roadblocks might be, in my own small, small way.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Another thing that you mentioned, some people say that, if you read Bernadette Roberts or people like that they emphasize that all sense of a personal self has been lost. And that’s something I’ve never properly understood, really been able to grok and I don’t see how a person could function or even get up and walk across the room unless there was some sense of a personal self. So maybe I misunderstand what she’s trying to say. But from what I understand, from what I understand you to be saying is that it’s not that it is utterly lost, just that it kind of takes a backseat. What was once your, the totality of your existence has just become kind of a smaller part of a much larger reality. Is that a good way of putting it?
Anne Sweet: I think, when that change first happened, the presence or the sense of that personal self was still very much around, you know, and was more concrete. And as time has gone on, especially in this last year or so, I think the more one exposes of this and the more one speaks about it and opens oneself up to it, which has been what has been happening in this last period, the being, the true self really comes to dominate very, very fully. It really seems to take up, you know, the whole space. And there is still like, you know, my personality hasn’t changed, like, I’m still a private person, and I’m still, you know, I eat too much chocolate or whatever. So, you know, so those things don’t change. But the sense of self, you know, defining the Anne personality or the Anne identity is pretty well impossible you know. I can’t grasp that person who lived that life. It’s not clear to me anymore. And that’s been a slow process of dissolvement. But I wouldn’t say it had gone completely by any means. And I think you are right in saying that even when the sense of self disappears completely there is still an operating mechanism, there’s still a functioning mechanism. And it’s interesting you said that about Bernadette Roberts. And when I first read her work I couldn’t relate to it either. And then I had an experience and it was only an experience and it was only for, I don’t know, a short period of time, half an hour, I don’t know how long. I’m used to living in and as this ground of being, it’s very familiar to me, it’s very known to me, and I’m very comfortable with it. And then, in this experience, that fell away, actually the Self with the big S, God damn it. fell away. It actually fell away. And what was left was this pristine, stark, almost blindingly white consciousness in which there was only awareness and no self. Only awareness and no self. There was no central reference point that all experience came through and was understood or what have you, there was just being.
Rick Archer: This has been about half an hour?
Anne Sweet: Yeah for about half an hour. So in that, I saw a glimpse of what Bernadette Roberts and others have talked about. It’s not my normal state by any means but it gave me a glimpse that there is this radical, I mean, if enlightenment, if we call it that is a radical shift, this is an probably even more radical shift out of any known sense of self or being. It’s stark, it’s fundamentally dimensionally different and it’s quite terrifying. I mean, I was like, get me back to the banks of the river, you know, I was desperate to clamber back. And thankfully I was able to sort of, you know, hold the fear at bay enough to be able to start to appreciate the pristine, immaculate beauty of this state of being. And ever since then, I’ve kind of longed for it and wanted to return to it because it’s the closest to this word perfection that I’ve ever come across, you know, where the worldly self of any kind and the spiritual self of any kind all fall away, all of it goes. And there’s just that. So maybe that’s what enlightenment is, in which case, I’m not enlightened. And I don’t really care one way or another.
Rick Archer: Yeah I always wonder if someone’s in a state like that and then they stub their toe, you know, what happens? I mean, obviously, they don’t, it’s not like, you know, Joe Schmo down the street who’s experiencing pain, somehow the pain is this localized thing that? I don’t know.
Anne Sweet: I think you still feel the same pain because the body has its own autonomy and reality. I don’t think, I don’t see that that would be different but the experience would be within that field, that immaculate field with the awareness of the pain. That would be my sense of it. Thankfully, I didn’t stub my toe during that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there are so many stories of people like Ramana Maharshi or Ramakrishna and others who died of cancer. It would kind of be revealed that they were really in bliss and just the suffering was rather apparent. There was one story Swami Sarvapriyananda told where there was this old fellow and I guess he suffered from, he was a kind of enlightened guru or sage in that tradition and he suffered from severe asthma or something. And he was awake all night coughing and everybody could hear him and it sounds like he was having a miserable time. And the next day, so and so said, ‘How are you doing sir?’ ‘Oh, absolutely marvelous, just wonderful’. ‘But we heard you coughing all night. It sounds like you are really suffering’. ‘Oh, the body, yeah, it’s horrible. The body’s in really bad shape, but I’m just doing fine’.
Anne Sweet: I think that’s entirely possible. That makes sense.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Some questions have come in here. The first one alludes to the grumpy old man, I think. I wonder if I should ask it without mentioning his name because you didn’t want to mention his name. What basically the guy’s wondering like, which of the teachings from that teacher had the most lasting impact on you?
Anne Sweet: Um, it’s a bit hard to remember now because it was some years ago. Gosh.
Rick Archer: You don’t have to answer it if you can’t.
Anne Sweet: Yeah, I don’t really have an answer at hand. I think it was more a clarification as I said, of how the whole thing fits together, the personal self, the true self, the world, and God if you like. I never really understood how that whole thing worked and I think Vedanta is very methodical in separating out Mithya from reality, so untruth from truth. So I think that was really revolutionary for me because that had been the key to my own, you know, shift.
Rick Archer: This, incidentally this teacher his first name started with a B. Is this the guy that you think I’m talking about or is it a different person you’re alluding to?
Anne Sweet: We’ve spoken about this before but yeah. So it was really just the clarification of the spiritual path. It was the deep investigation into one’s internal experience which again I stumbled into because I was in crisis. So Vedanta laid out the whole picture for me and I was able to understand much more clearly how this whole thing works.
Rick Archer: Okay, here’s a question from Andras Lomstein in Denmark. I use writing as a prayer or meditation along with sitting. When writing, I often feel something deep coming through or becoming more clear. How do you write? And do you have a ritual around your writing?
Anne Sweet: I can completely relate to what they’re saying. It looks like what Andras is saying, that’s exactly my experience. I’m not a writer and I could never have written or continue to write the volume of things that I’m writing from myself. It’s just not part of. I’m an artist, I don’t work through the mind, you know, it’s not my thing. So I rely on, what my process is really, I’ll get an inkling of something like, is conflict a necessary part of relationship? Or is there another way of dealing with difference? Does conflict always have to be part of a release? So I have this idea of something working away, I didn’t put it there it put itself there for whatever reason and my mind or something got hold of it. And I won’t really know the answers but suddenly I’ll get a sense that something wants to be written. And I’ll pull up a Word document and it will write itself. And I’ll probably have to do some editing, you know, with the whole thing but essentially it’s there in its totality. And you notice that I tend to only write short pieces because I only get short bits of information. So if I had to do it myself that would be torture, it would be absolute torture, I’d be worried about every word. And I wouldn’t, you know, I don’t have that clear a mind to be able to, you know, put all these ideas and sentences together. So I would flounder if I was personally responsible for my writing. So thankfully, the writing comes as, as Andres was saying comes from a deeper place or somewhere else or something, something wants to be written, fine, I’m happy with it. I tinker with it to make it, you know, maybe, you know, change a little bit here and there. Or if it’s only half-formed in that way I abandon it. I don’t even bother pursuing it from my point of view because I know it’s going to be somehow not quite good enough. So I can relate to everything they’re saying.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Sounds like you’re channeling again Anne.
Anne Sweet: No, it’s different. It is not about entities this time. It’s there is a source of intelligence and wisdom that we can pull on each and every one of us. And we do, that’s very much part of all of our experience. I believe,
Rick Archer: Yeah our friend Harri Alto likes to write a lot too. He writes reams and reams of stuff and somehow feels that helps to clarify or anchor or something. Find subtleties of his experience.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes. Yes, it’s a process of discovery because as the writing happens and as I’m reading it I’m going oh, that’s actually, Oh, I see. So I’m learning through the writing as well, very much so.
Rick Archer: Probably a lot of people can relate to this either writing or even speaking. Let’s say you’re having a philosophical discussion with a friend and, you know, stuff comes out that you know, you wouldn’t ordinarily find yourself saying, but just the act of expressing brings forth something deeper.
Anne Sweet: Exactly. I mean, this, you know, when you invited me onto the program and I thought my experience is always the same, I don’t know anything, I don’t have a bag of tricks, I don’t have a teaching to refer to. So I can’t, you know, just automatically hand something over that, you know, that I can rely on that’s there. And my experience is that I don’t have any knowledge. I’m not carrying around any knowledge. And so it’s always very intimidating to be interviewed because kind of like a bit like the channeling thing. I don’t know. You know, if I can respond, I don’t know if the answers are going to be there. And yet, exactly as you’re saying, in the act of speaking we draw on whatever it is that’s available to us. And in the drawing of that we also profoundly increase our understanding and we push the boundaries of our knowledge outwards. So it’s incredibly important to talk, even if you don’t really make sense or even if you’re fumbling, it doesn’t have to be perfect. But the very act of trying to express self is self-expressing itself and expanding and moving into new areas of understanding. And I find that very miraculous.
Rick Archer: Yeah, any teacher will tell you that the best way to learn something is to teach it. Even probably tennis or something. You learn something in the teaching that you don’t get by just being in the student role.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes and I feel very much like a learner. It’s why I go to Harri’s group. I’m still learning I’m still discovering. There’s still infinite territory for me to explore. So
Rick Archer: Yeah me too. This is a question from my friend Raymond Schumann who has been on BatGap. He’s in Olympia, Washington. He refers to Andrew Cohen and said he had doubts about Andrew from the first of his books that he read but at the time his magazine was the best spiritual periodical available and he was wondering if you were involved in the What is Enlightenment magazine?
Anne Sweet: No, no, I wasn’t but the best minds of the community were and Andrew is very intelligent. And he, you know, he produced that remarkable magazine. So I completely agree with you. That was really a very, very valuable contribution for many years, you know, for many years.
Rick Archer: Yeah I used to subscribe to for a while.
Anne Sweet: Yeah, yeah. So no, I wasn’t personally involved.
Rick Archer: Okay. This is a question from Rob M in Newburyport, Massachusetts, your old stomping ground if you’re on the North Shore, I guess. Given your experiences with questionable teachers and cult situations, why do you think you didn’t stumble into atheism since the spiritual pursuit was filled with impurity or lack of love?
Anne Sweet: I think I did stumble into atheism after the Andrew experience as I said, I spent 10 or 15 years feeling nauseous at the very thought of anything spiritual. So I really turned my back on the whole thing for a very long time. But I think spirit is a greater force than any of our bad experiences. And I don’t like to say it, because I’m trying through the website to save people from making the same mistakes that I made. But at the same time and I think you talked about it Rick, there’s a cohesiveness to the totality that we exist in where everything fits together. So even the bad experiences go towards, you know, some resolution, some future resolution or some important thing. You know, it sounds a bit new agey but it kind of feels like that. So yes, so I think I did, I was very disillusioned with the whole thing for a long time. But in spite of myself, there came to be this uprising of spirit expressing itself that wouldn’t be silenced. That was greater than any cynicism or disappointment that I suffered.
Rick Archer: Swami Beyondananda calls it an upwising. Yeah, life is interesting. I mean, I just have this, it can seem kind of unkind sometimes. I have conversations with friends who are atheists or strong agnostics and they just raise issues about all the horrible things that happen to people, you know, starving babies, the Holocaust, and all kinds of things, and how could there be a God, if this kind of thing happens in the universe? And I usually come back with, you know, kind of philosophical answers about well, if you’re going to have a relative creation there’s got to be pairs of opposites. If there’s going to be happiness there’s going to be suffering, if there’s going to be hot there’s going to be cold, fast and slow, and so on. So, you know, we go through, I mean, Shakespeare didn’t just write comedies, he wrote tragedies, also. There’s a whole gamut of experiences that a soul can have in the course of its evolution. But I always kind of come around to the point that in the big picture, if you zoom out large enough, the whole thing is this huge evolutionary machine and all souls, all beings are moving in the direction of enlightenment and will eventually reach it. And that might be pie in the sky or it might be new agey, but that’s the way I see it.
Anne Sweet: Yeah, I probably have quite a similar sense of things and if one can’t prove it of course, but there is a sense of, I mean, I don’t think there’s perhaps individual perfection but there is a perfection to creation and to the movement, as you say, of evolution. And it has to contain if there is, if there’s a relative realm, where did that come from? From an absolute realm, perhaps but that absolute realm has to contain everything that can’t be anything external to the absolute. It all has to be part of the picture. And we all know that we do, yeah, anyway, so that it’s intrinsic, it’s intrinsic, but you have to be able to also see through that to the divinity that has created it and the understanding of why. And that’s part I think about a purpose if there’s a purpose of life, to just be through to see through.
Rick Archer: And I think when it’s when you really see through clearly enough, you realize it’s all that divinity, you know.
Anne Sweet: It’s all that divinity.
Rick Archer: So there isn’t some mean old God doing stuff to us. It’s, you know, if anything, God’s doing it to himself or herself or itself. It’s all just one, I saw this great cartoon. Adam and Eve were standing there and God was hiding behind the tree. And God had like his hand in the Adam and Eve puppets and he also had, he was also doing the snake. And, you know, the whole thing was sort of. Yeah. Okay. So what should we say in conclusion? We’ve covered a lot of points, there are probably more points we could cover. But I think people have gotten a good sense of who you are and what you know, what you’ve been through and it’s really, you know, commendable. And although I’m sure it’s not the kind of thing where you’re taking credit or feeling proud or anything, I commend you on the dedication you’ve put into this whole lifetime, I guess. And it’s borne fruit. And it’s an example to people.
Anne Sweet: Well, I think the dedication wasn’t mine and the result wasn’t mine. So I don’t think we can lay claim to those things. But I appreciate what you’re saying,
Rick Archer: Though you do have a section on your website where you talk about the qualities a student needs to have and one of them is this kind of arduous. Not arduous, what’s the word you use? Just sort of a kind of a
Anne Sweet: Sincerity of purpose,
Rick Archer: Sincerity and focus and, you know, if we have a lackadaisical attitude about it, I think we’re less likely to have the results we might otherwise have.
Anne Sweet: Yes, it’s a precision endeavor, a precision endeavor and it’s very, very subtle. What you’re looking for is something, because it is actually part of your experience, usually, in the background, it’s almost impossible to identify the self, the capital S self. And so in order to discover it, you need enormous focus and the ability to discriminate. And if you’re lackadaisical you’re not, you’re simply not going to have those tools available to you. So it takes a lot of intention to find out what this is all about.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay. So I highly recommend that people read your website, it’ll probably only take a person an hour to read everything you’ve got on the website. And it’s really good. You could consider, you could turn it into a booklet if you wanted to, but people can find it on the website, and that way you can update it more easily. But it’s a really good overview of things. We haven’t, we sort of touched on the ethical thing, speaking of Swami Sarvapriyananda again, he often says you can have ethics without enlightenment but you can’t have enlightenment without ethics. And I know you’re a member of the Association for Spiritual Integrity which is something that I and some others started to try to have some influence on, you know, the whole ethical values in spiritual teaching world issue. And, you know,
Anne Sweet: Ethics for anyone on this path is the beginning, the middle, and the end. It’s the beginning, the middle, and the end. There is nothing probably more important because the whole armature rests on that. And if there’s a distortion, that distortion is going to only grow and become a greater aspect and eventually derail you or derail the ones around you. So getting yourself straight and right and Ken Wilber’s Wake Up, Grow up, Show Up and Get It Together, you know, his clean up whatever is, all of that is essential. That’s the foundation.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And you don’t get a pass. I mean, I come across instances in which teachers are really screwing around, literally and figuratively. And, you know, they say well it’s just God doing it or it’s just, you know, bodies having sensory experiences. There’s no doer involved, what kinds of, you know, Neo Advaita BS. But they end up facing consequences not only in terms of their reputation but in terms of what happens to their mental state.
Anne Sweet: It metastasizes. That distortion metastasizes and affects the whole being. And then to come back from that is a very difficult and arduous thing. That’s why you have to get it right from the beginning. And you have to know why you’re doing it. And it has to be for the right reasons. You have to be great for all the right reasons. And it’s not some kind of conventional morality or anything like that. It’s simply the structure and the armature that you carry forward. And if that’s not right the whole thing is going to fall at some point. And we’ve seen it, we’ve seen how they fall. It’s only a question of time before we see it. And then someone like Tich Nhat Hanh, you know, who’s got an, who had an enormously complex life, you know, with so many, you know, faculties he was running and institutions he was running and the enormous impact that he had. And he was straight, the guy was straight, you know. So this is anybody’s that is all bullshit. It’s all absolute justification and bullshit and you will pay a price and the people around you will pay a price.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a quote I’ve probably said this twenty times on the show but it’s from Sarva… not Sarvapriyananda, from Padmasambhava. He said, although my awareness is as vast as the sky my attention to karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour. So, and by that he means, you know, just absolutely mind your P’s and Q’s. You don’t get a pass no matter how enlightened you are.
Anne Sweet: I know exactly. And I think even more important after the enlightenment business because you have so much more personal power and so much more competence and so your ego can become a very confident ego. So you have to be more precise and more self-aware and self-questioning and, and self. So the razor’s edge gets sharper because there’s further to fall and you have more ability to fall from a greater height.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I don’t know if it really happens this way but theoretically, the judge gets punished more than the ignorant man who doesn’t know the law if the judge breaks the law.
Anne Sweet: Yes, yes. And the same, the same applies to a spiritual teacher or someone.
Rick Archer: That’s right. Yeah. Okay, so you mentioned that you, we’ve talked about the website. Is there a contact form on the website if people want to get in touch?
Anne Sweet: Yes.
Rick Archer: Okay plus, you have a Facebook page and you mentioned that, you know, you have chat to people. Do you do this one-on-one? Do you charge money for it? Do you have webinars? What kind of things do you do?
Anne Sweet: People I usually do by email, because I also have a real job. I usually do by email, I sometimes do zoom if I think it’s important. I don’t charge. I wanted to produce or provide or offer something that wasn’t part of the commercial thing and I respect that you also do the same thing. I don’t ask for donations. I don’t have enormous capacity to engage with a huge number of people, obviously, as just one person. I don’t do webinars, I don’t do anything like that. But I’m happy to engage with people who have questions or want clarification. Or sometimes all people need is to know that someone is standing there, just there, who’s just there, who they can refer to, or go to, or so on. And often all I do is act as a mirror. People almost always know themselves and so I just remain, you know, quiet and wait for them to discover the answers for themselves. And that’s the most important thing because me giving answers isn’t really that helpful. But people discovering for themselves what they need for themselves is empowering and creating autonomy in that person. I think that’s very, very important
Rick Archer: Alrighty. And, you know, there have been over 250 people on the call today watching this and you’ll have 1000s of views when I put this up so you may get a bit of an influx of interest. So who knows, maybe you’ll end up doing some kind of zoom thing where you can talk to 10 people at once if you want to, I don’t know. It’s just an idea. But anyway, people can get in touch and you’ll figure out how you’re going to deal with it.
Anne Sweet: I’ll do the best I can.
Rick Archer: Okay, great. Well, thanks so much, Anne. I’m really glad we did this. I don’t know who entered you as a guest suggestion but I think maybe you did. But whoever did I thank them for doing it?
Anne Sweet: You did, you contacted me.
Rick Archer: Oh, I contacted you. I don’t know how I found out about you but I’m really glad I did.
Anne Sweet: it was a, thank you, it was a, I made a comment on one of the enlightenment forums and you contacted me a year or so ago. And that was the beginning of our communication. Pleasure to meet you, you know, I’ve seen you, you know, doing these interviews. I always appreciate what you’re doing and who you are and the incredible thing that you’re offering, which I think is a benefit to so many people. So thank you for letting me be a part of this program.
Rick Archer: It’s my pleasure to have you on and who knows, if I ever make it to Australia we’ll have a big gathering of all the people I’ve interviewed in Australia.
Anne Sweet: That would be fantastic. I would love it.
Rick Archer: Alright, great. Well, thanks. So thanks Anne and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. Not sure who I’m going to have next week because the guy that I was going to have seems like it’s not happening. And we’re, we have somebody in mind, don’t know if we’ll get them at the last minute. But anyway, there’s a page on BatGap which is called upcoming interviews under the search feature, interviews menu, and you can see who we’ve got scheduled. And you can also click a little icon on the right and have it put a notice in your calendar or your notification thing so that you can tune into these live interviews and be reminded of when they’re going to happen. Okay, thanks for listening or watching. Go to the website batgap.com. Explore the menus, and we’ll see you next time.
Anne Sweet: Thank you, everyone. Thank you