Cheryl Abram Transcript

Cheryl Abram Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and this is a show in which I interview people who have had a spiritual awakening, are in the process of having spiritual awakenings, and so on. Cheryl Abram, today’s guest, is my 300th guest, so send her a cake or something. Cheryl is a mother of four from southern Louisiana. She is a graduate of Catholic University of America in Washington DC and holds a master’s degree in social work and in quality systems management. She currently lives in northern Virginia and works as a learning and development specialist in a federal agency in DC. After an undeniable experience that reminded her of our inherent value without the need of a “savior”, Cheryl is now passionate about spreading the good news that belief is not necessary. We are already innocent, eternal and free. Cheryl has written a book called “Firing God”, which I’ve read twice now. First when a few months ago when you first sent it to me and then again just this week. It’s a nice short little book and it tells Cheryl’s whole story, but we’re going to cover it here in this interview. So, let’s do the usual thing, Cheryl. Let’s kind of go back and talk about your growing up period and all that a little bit, just so people get to know you and then we’ll get into all kinds of other things. So, you grew up on a pecan plantation, was it, in southern Louisiana?

Cheryl: Yes, it was a plantation. It was called Pecan Grow because we had a lot of pecan trees on the plantation and when they’d fall off the tree, we’d pick them off the ground and my grandfather and my uncles, they put them in these huge sacks and we’d sell them at the side of the road. And, folks use them in everything, especially pecan candy, which is absolutely delicious. So, yes, I had an awesome childhood. I really really did. Just being on the plantation with my mother’s side of the family. My father’s mother lived in a city called Houma, which was not as rural as Berg was. So, but both, I enjoyed both. I enjoyed being with my father’s mother and with my mom’s parents. So, grew up with all my cousins, aunts, uncles around, went to school. Everything was really really great. Religion was a huge part of my upbringing. My uncles right now are ministers. A lot of people in my family, both male and female, are ministers and everyone goes to church, basically. So, all of that was great. It really was good. When you’re young and you feel like you are special, that God really loves you and pays attention to you and favors you and things like that, those things, that’s lovely. That feels really good. But, of course, as I got older, I saw that that wasn’t as true as I believed it was.

Rick: What made you think God loved you and favored you?

Cheryl: Because the Bible said he did.

Rick: That’s what I thought you were going to say.

Cheryl: Yeah. Because I was told he did.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: And when good things happened, the reason was because I was favored and I was a good girl. I was obedient and all those things. When bad things happened, it was because I wasn’t those things. I wasn’t good. I wasn’t obedient.

Rick: Yeah. I want to throw in a philosophical bit even now, which is that I get the impression that a lot of different religions kind of pander to our innate need to feel special – “I’m special. My religion is the bestest. My God is the best. Your God is worse”. So, there’s a lot of ego-boosting that goes on in terms of trying to make you feel like you are one of the chosen and everybody else is going you know where.

Cheryl: Yes. Yeah.

Rick: It’s not exclusive to Christianity.

Cheryl: No. And that’s another important part of it too. So, it is that I’m chosen and I’m special. But what makes that even more yummy is the fact that my enemies are going to be punished.

Rick: Right.

Cheryl: You know, that those two together make it so appealing.

Rick: Yeah. It’s like a win-win situation, right?

Cheryl: Yeah, definitely. And when I found out that that’s not going to happen, I was pissed. I mean, I really was. That was hard. That was very hard to admit. It really really was.

Rick: We’ll get on a little bit later to how you found out that wasn’t going to happen. And so, I kind of got mixed messages from reading your book and listening to your interviews. On one hand, it sounded like you were saying church was boring and it kind of made you tired and you fell asleep and you went once a week. On the other hand, I thought I heard you say you went every day. So, what was it?

Cheryl: Well, when I was little, I mean, church was not exciting when I was little. The only exciting events were Christmas and Easter when I got new clothes and shoes and stuff like that. So, I would fall asleep a lot and be very happy when it was finally over and they were saying, praying the benediction. When I got into my teen years, I moved to Houma and we went to another church, a very very fundamentalist type church. I couldn’t wear pants or makeup or jewelry, couldn’t go to dances, watch certain shows on TV, all of that stuff. And this is really where the fear of God was instilled into me. We would watch, I remember a video, I think it was called Thief in the Night or Left Behind, something like that.

Rick: There’s that Left Behind series.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. And it basically said, you’re going to get left here and your life is going to be miserable, like even more so than it is now if you don’t accept God and his unconditional love. So, that’s where, it was in that church where we went a lot. But I didn’t mind because what I came to see was that I needed a savior. So, everything I was doing was going to help me in the long run. And what I also came to see was how important it was for me to really really believe that I was unworthy and undeserving. And if I was deserving of anything, it was pain and suffering.

Rick: So, this was instilled in you by the preacher?

Cheryl: Oh, absolutely, yeah, yeah. But I needed it. I mean, I had to be less than if I was going to get salvation. I don’t need salvation if nothing’s wrong with me. So, both of those had to be in place.

Rick: Does it also have to do with humility, supposedly, that you consider yourself kind of a lowly bit of pond scum and therefore you were worthy of salvation? You’re not kind of boosting yourself up in any way?

Cheryl: Well, yeah, so, the lowliest pond scum possible. I mean, unworthiness was a virtue. It really really was. And we sang songs, Rick, about, “I’m so unworthy, Lord”, you know. And a lot of songs like that we sang every time we went to church.

Rick: That’s funny. It reminds me of a joke – I have to interject here. There was a pastor in the church and he was really into this thing of, “Oh, I’m so unworthy”, and he would be heard saying, “Oh, Lord, I am nothing, I am nothing, I am nothing”. And then the deacon sort of overheard him saying that and he got into it, “Oh, I am nothing, I am nothing”. And then the janitor heard him saying that, and so the janitor started saying, “I am nothing, I am nothing”, and then the pastor and deacon looked at each other and said, “Ha, look who thinks he’s nothing”.

Cheryl: That is funny. I’m going to have to tell that. Yeah, yeah, it’s like a competition. I mean, who could be the most unworthy?

Rick: How low can you go?

Cheryl: Exactly, exactly. But all of that was necessary.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: I see that all of that was needed.

Rick: You mean in the grand scheme of your life it was all part of the puzzle.

Cheryl: Yes, it brought me here.

Rick: That’s an interesting point. A lot of people say that, that regardless of what they have been through, and in some cases it’s been horrific. I mean, I interviewed a woman not long ago that was raped by her father from the age of nine for at least five years and then became a serious drug addict, very hard drugs. And she even looks back and says, “That was all necessary, brought me to where I am”.

Cheryl: I remember this incident I had with my son. I have four kids and my oldest son, he’s in the military now, and my baby, still my baby. He wasn’t doing what he needed to do as far as his homework and cleaning his room and things like that, teenage boys, right? You know, the typical stuff. So I’d been giving him a chance to do better. And I would say, “Jarrett, when you go in your room, this is what I need you to do. And I need you to bring me your homework when you’re done so I can see that it’s complete”. That wouldn’t happen. I would go back a while later and say, “Well, let me see this”, or “Let me see how you’ve cleaned your room because you said you were in here doing that. So, let me see that”. And he, it just wasn’t getting to him, right? That this is what mommy was asking for. So one day I decided, “Okay, this is what I’m going to do”. So he came home from school that day. He went back to his room and he almost hit the ceiling. I mean, he just went ballistic. He was so upset. “Mom, why did you do that?” I mean, he was just, he posted it on Facebook and everything.

Rick: What did you do?

Cheryl: What I did was I took his door down.

Rick: Oh, so his door was, so his room was wide open.

Cheryl: I took the driver and I unhinged the, you know, the hinges on the door and I took it down. He didn’t have a door, right? Because of what I said, as a mom, okay, the main thing that I need is I need to know. I need to know what you’re doing, okay? You’re in this house, there are things that need to be done and mommy needs to know. So I, and I told him everything that has occurred has brought me to this point, to taking down your door so that I can know. And I see this as the same, everything that has happened in my life brought me to the point to where I had to take down the door and look and see what was going on, you know? That’s what mommies do, you know? And for the first few years after this happened, it was just marveling at the fact that this happened and trying to reconcile that with what was going on in my life, which was a whole bunch of shit. I mean, it was horrible, right? And now that that reconciliation has happened somewhat, I’m now in this other phase where, okay, mommy’s taken down the door and I see what’s going on and now I’m asking what the hell were you doing in here the whole time, right? You know, when the cat’s away, the mice will play, right? And so I feel like I really need to start taking down some more doors so that I can see what’s going on, especially in the non-dual community, right? Which is a community that was, I mean, I knew nothing about it at all, but now that I’ve come into it, I’ve got my mommy face on, like, “What’s going on here?”

Rick: Yeah, well we’re jumping around, but that’s okay, because we’re going to talk about, I mean, the way I first became aware of you was you started popping up on Facebook and saying some pretty clear and coherent things in some non-dual group on Facebook. I thought, “Well, this looks interesting”, because, I mean, as I’ve heard you say, there aren’t that many black women in non-dual circles, and so it was a bit of an anomaly, and you might not otherwise have caught my attention, but there was that, and then there was this tremendous clarity. You were talking about your foray into non-duality and knocking down doors and so, but let’s go back a bit more, let’s get to that. So you’ve been through a lot over the years, and we’ve been alluding to that, and you grew up in Louisiana, and we haven’t gotten much farther than that, and then I know you went to school here and there, and you joined the military and got married, and you’re over in Europe or Kuwait or someplace, and life was throwing curveballs at you. So let’s go into some of those details a little bit.

Cheryl: Yeah, life really was throwing some curveballs at me, and it wasn’t what I was taught, okay? I really expected to be treated better than I was being treated.

Rick: By the universe, by people?

Cheryl: By God, yes. I really expected to be favored, and I got a little… I really felt some type of way about seeing people who were not Christians, not going to church, not praying like I was, and just being happier than me. That didn’t make sense to me. But I had to keep going back to, “It’s your fault, Cheryl. There’s something that you’re not doing. God really, really wants to help you, but his hands are tied behind his back because of something that you’re not doing”. So over the years, it was me trying to be better so that I can get better, I can get more and be happier, because the ultimate search was just to be happy. I was miserable. The relationships that I’d been in, some of the jobs that I’d had, it just… I was miserable. Nothing was working. So it came to a head, I guess you can say, once I finally… in my second marriage, and when I was living here in Maryland, I’d been searching for a church again, again, and I finally found one. It was a very very small church that was being held in a school. There are many black churches that do that, that they start off in a school or a storefront or something like that until they grow bigger.

Rick: When you say you’re searching for a church, it must not be that hard to find a church. They’re all over the place, but you must have had certain criteria that you were looking for.

Cheryl: Yeah, I mean, the message. For some reason, a lot of ministers right now are really into the prosperity thing, praying for money or whatever.

Rick: Reverend Ike.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. I don’t really like that. I like more the traditional stuff.

Rick: Yeah, the spiritual nature of it.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. So I was looking for something like that. And this guy, I really liked him. He’s very personable. He was a young man. He had a very small congregation, but he really seemed down to earth. And he was talking about things that were going on today, in today’s world. He would take the Bible and try to apply it to the current time. So I like that. He gave me a book to read. I love discussing things and asking and answering questions. So Bible study is something that I’ve always enjoyed because I love learning. So he was having a Bible study. He gave me a book to read pertaining to that study. I don’t remember what the book was, but I was very excited about it. And when I got a chance to read it, I was going to do that. But it was about a week or so before I was able to get to the book because I’d come home one day and I went to my kitchen and I saw all kinds of correspondence in the kitchen, bad stuff – like bills and a foreclosure notice, there was a summons to go to court, all of this stuff. And I was like, “Oh my God, what am I going to do?” And at the same time, my marriage is falling apart and I was tired. I was just so tired. So I said, “Let me go in my bedroom and read this book. I got to read something, some story of somebody who’s been where I am right now and came through it okay”. So I sat on my bed and I started reading the book. And what I read in the book was I had to take all the Stephen King novels out of my house because of the demons associated with stuff like that.

Rick: Even the Shawshank Redemption?

Cheryl: Even the Shawshank Redemption.

Rick: That has demons in it?

Cheryl: I love that movie.

Rick: He wrote that.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. So all of them had to go. The spirit of Stephen King was in my house with those books. So I’d heard that before. That was nothing new about taking dolls and you never go to a garage sale because spirits are on some of the things or whatever. I’d heard that before. This was nothing new to me. But at this particular time, being as low as I was and as helpless and hopeless, fear was not doing it for me. And this scared me. It really scared me. And I was so upset at the anger. It was unbelievable. I mean, it was white-hot anger. So I said, “I’m done. I am so finished with this”. Because every time I’m talking to God at this point, every time I come to you, “It’s Cheryl. You’re not good enough. You got to do this. You got to do that. I really want to help you, but I can’t because you didn’t pray enough. You’re really not tithing like you should”. And of course, all of this is coming through the man of God. I’m not hearing this directly from God. So something is always wrong with me and I’m like, “I’m finished. I’m not going to do this anymore”. And at that moment, I decided, “You know what? Let me just be honest. I don’t love you. I don’t even know you. And you can fuck off”. Now, I was very afraid of saying that, but I really felt like I had to be honest at that moment because nothing else was happening. Nothing else was working. So honesty was my last resort. It was my last resort. And with that, it literally felt like chains were just lifted. Like I’d been chained and they were gone. Just with admitting that, that I didn’t love God – I never did. And I didn’t know him either. So almost immediately after that, there was a very, very strong compulsion for me to read the story of Adam and Eve. I don’t know where that came from. It was just a feeling, something that was felt. I didn’t hear voices or nothing like that. I just felt like I needed to read that story, which I refused to do because I just told God to fuck off and I wasn’t having anything to do with the Bible or anything else. I was done with that. But the compulsion kept coming. And it was after a couple of days that I decided, “Okay, let me read the damn story and just get rid of this”. So I read the story. Nothing happened. But the next day, all kinds of questions just started coming up. Why are there two stories? Why was that tree there? Questions I’d never asked before because I just accepted the story. This is the way we came to be. And this is why I have to suffer right now because Eve ate that apple when she shouldn’t have and Adam didn’t stop her. And that was just what it was. There was no reason. Why would I question that? I’ve been told this by all kinds of authority figures. There was no reason for me to question it.

Rick: I heard this really funny comedian the other day. In fact, our friend Phil Escott turned me on to this. But the guy was going on about how, here’s this story and there’s a talking snake and they doom all of humanity to perdition because she ate a particular piece of fruit and she came out of Adam’s rib and all this stuff. And then he kind of concludes by saying, “And this is the book that we put our hand on, promising to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?”

Cheryl: Exactly. Exactly. I mean, that’s exactly it. But like I said, I had no reason to question it. Why would the minister lie? Why would my family lie? So it had to be true.

Rick: Well, and so you wrote a book called Firing God. Now let’s examine this whole thing now of truth and belief and experience and everything else. I mean, here’s my take on things. And that is that religions all start out pretty good. They start out with some sage, some seer who has a profound, deep experience of what we might call truth or reality or the deeper dimensions of life. And very often that realization is so profound and so deep that that person really makes an impact and stands out. And then, over time, the message is lost. It’s usually lost even in his lifetime. He’s saying stuff, people don’t know what he’s saying, and then certainly after he dies and generations go on, the thing is lost more and more and more and more, to the point where you have hundreds of millions of people killing and torturing each other in the name of what was once, what started out as the most sublime experience a person can have. So there’s this huge loss of the original essence of what gets a religion going. And religions become like these empty shells which bear no resemblance to the original thing. So that’s kind of my orientation to the thing. And since there’s no experiential basis left, no experiential essence left, or at least not in any general sense, maybe there are some exceptional individuals here and there, the whole thing hinges on belief. And what does belief do for you? I mean, you and I could stand on the sidewalk in front of a restaurant, starving to death, arguing about what the food was like inside, without actually experiencing it. And so that I believe it’s good, you believe it’s bad, who cares? We’re starving, we should go in and eat. But religions for the most part have lost the ability to provide that access to that restaurant, so to speak, and so people are left hanging on believing stuff. And without – I’ll say one more thing and then let you take it – without the experiential anchor or verification for all these beliefs, the beliefs can get more and more and more out there, more and more weird, because there’s no kind of check and balance, there’s no kind of even understanding that the beliefs should at best be kind of like hypotheses, “Okay, we believe such and such is true, let’s find out if it is”. And there’s never that second part, “Let’s find out if it is”, it’s more like, “You have to believe this or else”. So take it from there.

Cheryl: So the way I see it is that, in my experience, belief was so important, and part of the reason was because of where I come from and who I am as an African American woman. I remember when I went to Salve Regina, I was in a class – I forget which class it was – but I was one of two black people in the class.

Rick: And that’s a college in Rhode Island, right?

Cheryl: Mm-hmm. A college in Rhode Island, yes. And the instructor asked the class, he said, “I want you all to go around the room, we’re going to go around the room, and I need you to tell me where you came from. How did you get here? A little bit about your heritage”. So they went around the room, some folks, their great-grandparents were from Ireland or England, a couple of folks from South America. They knew where they were, where they came from, where they originated. So they got to me, and I had no answer. I was like, “Louisiana? I don’t know”. And Rick, that was so… I was so embarrassed, and I was so hurt, because I don’t know.

Rick: Well, are you saying that you just didn’t know your genealogy? You didn’t know very far back?

Cheryl: Yeah, I don’t know. And I feel bad about that.

Rick: Because the records were lost of all that, and you just don’t know what country your original descendants came from or anything.

Cheryl: Nothing at all. Nothing at all. And for those who do know, I think they have such a gift. They really really do have such a gift to know that. And I think the purpose of that, he was talking about that I and Native American people were like some of the… if anyone was American, then it was us, right? But that’s a whole other subject. But belief gave me that. Belief gave me my genealogy. This is where I come from. Adam and Eve are my origin, and God is my father, and all of this. It filled in the blank. There was a huge blank there, and belief filled in that blank, right? And that is my root. Those are my roots, so I’m good now. Now I can move from there. And when I finally saw that that is not true, it was like a death. Like I died. To let that go, to let go of where I thought I came from, left a huge open space again. But I saw it for what it is at the time. But it was painful. It was very hard.

Rick: Now with your current orientation to things… I mean the way I look at it, my ancestry was English, Irish and Scottish, but I don’t particularly care, I never pay much attention to it. And I tend to think of myself more as an evolving soul who might have had lives in India or China or… who knows, I don’t know. But that’s really my lineage. And then if we want to transcend the individuality, then we are all the same person and there’s that eternal self, and that’s who I am. So if I want to make sense of things, those two things are more meaningful to me than my actual genetic heritage. Do you kind of feel that way now that you have this newer orientation to things?

Cheryl: No.

Rick: No? How come?

Cheryl: I mean I would still like to know, eventually. But this new orientation, as you say, is okay. I mean it’s not so critical, it’s not so imperative, it’s not life or death, if I don’t know. But it would be nice to know. And I’m no longer holding on to something that’s not real, to take the place of what is real.

Rick: Yeah. So if as a Christian you derive solace from the sense that Adam and Eve were your ultimate ancestors and it gave you a sense of belonging and now you no longer believe that, do you feel a little bit rudderless now or do you feel like something more meaningful has actually replaced that kind of concept you used to take solace in?

Cheryl: I did at first. It took a long time to let go, right? So let me… okay, so I’ll get to the point to where everything happened and then go from there.

Rick: Okay.

Cheryl: So, as I was saying before in my room I read Adam and Eve and all the questions started to come up. So with these questions I went to people in my family who, they’re well-versed in the Bible, so there were questions about the Bible. So I’m going and I’m asking things like, “Why are there two stories?” You know, “What’s up with that tree? Why would he do that?” And I wasn’t, the answers I was getting were the same old thing I always got and I wasn’t satisfied with that. So that’s when I went to Google, right? And I was like, and I was looking for commentary on the Adam and Eve story and I started to read things that I’d never read before. Like the possibility that that story is just a metaphor, like it’s not even real. It just represents, I’d never heard that before.

Rick: Google must have demons in it.

Cheryl: Yes, it must. You know, and I would look over my shoulder like maybe this is the devil trying to convince me of something. But yeah, so I started to read those things. I started to listen to folks like Christopher Hitchens and I felt so guilty listening to him because I’m like, man, I really shouldn’t be, I shouldn’t be listening to this guy, the stuff he’s saying. But I just needed to hear other things, because I’d been in this box of Southern Baptist speak for so long that I need to hear somebody else’s story. So that went on, and one day at work, so this was, I don’t know, like a month or so after that, I was at work one day and it was early in the morning. It was in May. It was still kind of cool up here. So I had my heater on, but I have my heater on all the time because that building is freezing. So I had my heater on, I had a cup of coffee next to me and I’m checking my emails. That’s the first thing I do every morning when I get into work. I check my emails and answer them and things like that. Well, all of a sudden I’m terrified out of my mind. My heart is beating so fast. My palms are sweaty. I’m breaking out into a cold sweat and I do not know why. I’m looking at myself wondering what the hell is going on here, you know? And then I’m thinking, am I having a heart attack or something? Which was crazy because, I’m very healthy and I’ve never had any heart problems or anything like that before. So finally, as this goes on and I’m just getting more and more terrified, I thought, “Oh my God, I’m dying. I am seriously dying right now. This makes no sense at all”. And the terror just kept increasing and increasing and I’m like, “Oh my God, what’s going to happen to my kids?” Because I know now, there’s no question in my mind that I’m about to die. I see it coming. And I’m like, “What about my kids? Who’s going to care for my babies? I’m not going to be able to tell them bye”. But there was nothing I could do. So I just had to say, “Okay, I’m just going to die right here in my chair at work”. And I just let it go. I was like, “All right, let’s do this”. So once I just said, “Okay, that’s the way it’s going to be. That’s just how it has to be”. The terror was replaced by something that I have absolutely no words for at all, none. And it was so beautiful and freeing. And the thing that made it so amazing was the fact that whatever I was knowing right then, I was knowing it for everybody, every single person, even my ex who I was going through the divorce with and I hated with every fiber of my being. I knew it for him too. And that just made me so… happy isn’t even the word, I’m telling you, it’s not. So that feeling lasted for a while. And while it was going on, strange things were happening. I’m looking at my computer like, “What the hell is a computer doing here? This makes no sense”. What was happening made all the sense in the world, but the stuff around me was just weird. Like, “What is this?” So it lasted for less than a minute, I would say, and then wore off a little bit. And man, at the end of the day… I don’t remember what I did that day. All I remember is sitting at my computer, that happening, and I remember walking home at the end of the day, going to the train station. But I was like, “I got to know what this is”. I know I can’t have been the only person who’s experienced this. So as soon as I got home, I was on my computer, typing up stuff like, “Already in eternity, already in heaven”, those sort of things. And this is when folks like Osho started popping up in my search, and Rupert Spira popped up, and some other people that I’d never heard of. Osho was saying stuff that was totally weird. I just didn’t get it at all. I had nothing to hinge it onto. It just didn’t make any sense. Rupert Spira was just speaking another language. I’m like, “Who is this guy?” He reminds me of that guy with the Afro who paints, and he’s so nice. He paints these awesome pictures, and the clouds are happy and stuff like that. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Rick: No.

Cheryl: Yeah, somebody who’s watching this will know what I’m talking about. But he’s very relaxed and stuff like that.

Rick: Oh, he’s very mellow.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. Very very…

Rick: Soothing voice.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. And then Tony Parsons was another person, and I just wanted to punch him in the face because he wasn’t giving me anything. I’m like, “This guy is..”. So all these folks are… And I’m listening, but I’m not getting it. It was like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, but I know what you’re talking about what happened, but I don’t know what you’re talking about”. It was really weird. It really was. And then I found The Course in Miracles, and I started reading that, which oh my God, the second I picked up that book and started reading it, I’m like, “This is clearly demonic. Clearly”. There is no way that I, Cheryl, the son of God, come on. And I wanted to put that stuff down. I didn’t want to do all that. First of all, because I had a lot of shit going on in my life. I didn’t have time for universe stuff, finding out who I was. I mean… Later, I can do that later. Right now, I have bills. I got court dates. I got… My kids need me, all that stuff. But I couldn’t stay away. I couldn’t just put it on the side and go back. Something just kept drawing me back there. As much as what was going on was telling me, “What you experienced was not so… You are not good. You are not already here”, or whatever. So the chatter that was going on over here was kind of… There was a battle there, almost, trying to get me to forget this.

Rick: Yeah. Like the old little angel and devil on your shoulder.

Cheryl: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly what it was, right? But this wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t, not at all. And it took a while for me to grow into that. I had to keep going back to it because, man, the chatter is so convincing. It really really is.

Rick: A lot of interesting stuff in what you just said. First of all, it might be interesting to know, and you probably already do know, that a lot of people go through this fear thing on the verge of an awakening. Have you come across other accounts of that?

Cheryl: Yes.

Rick: Yeah. And it reminds me of… I don’t know if you’ve ever read the right stuff or saw the movie, but when Chuck Yeager was the first man to break the sound barrier, as he was approaching the speed of sound, there was all this turbulence and he was holding on to the stick of the plane and all, and when he finally broke through, it just became totally smooth. So there’s this transition point that he had to go through, and after which it became smooth. And there’s a verse from the Upanishads that says, “Certainly all fear is born of duality”, and it’s almost like there’s this fear membrane we have to pierce as we transition from duality back into unity. And then if we go the other way, unity back into duality, then there’s the opportunity… we’re in a fear-based orientation because it’s dual. There’s us and there’s them, and there’s this and there’s that, and there’s vulnerability. So you pierce that membrane in the transition to a unity kind of experience, it seems to me.

Cheryl: Yeah, it seems so, yeah. And it was funny because as I was looking for others who’ve had this experience, I really wanted to hear from someone who looked like me. That was very important to me. I didn’t want to listen to Rupert Spira. I didn’t. I’m like an English white dude. What does he know about anything that I’ve experienced?

Rick: How about Mooji? Mooji comes close.

Cheryl: Yeah, he comes close, but he dresses weird and he has the thing on his lap. I mean, he was too guru-y for me. So I wanted to find a normal person that I could really talk to and who I could relate to. And I didn’t find that, but I needed to know so badly that I pushed that aside. I said, “Okay, fine, whatever. Let me just listen to what these folks are saying”. And of course, eventually none of that matters in the end, but that experience has resonated with me throughout because…

Rick: The experience you had in the office, you mean?

Cheryl: And the search for somebody who looked like me. So what I did was, in my research, I looked up this guy and Jerry Katz is his name.

Rick: Oh yeah, sure. I listened to your interviews with him.

Cheryl: And I read that it seemed like he’d been in a non-duality game forever. So I emailed him and I said, “Jerry, my name is Cheryl. This is who I am. This is what’s happened to me”. And in the email I said, “So where are all the black people?” Because I really thought he’d been in the game so long that he would know where we were housed or something. Tell me, “Oh, well, the black non-dualists have a thing in Detroit every year or whatever”. I was really like, because he’d know. If anyone would know, he’d know. And he was like, “I don’t know”. So we did the interview and things like that. So now that, as I said, I’ve started to, over the years, grow into this, I see that, now this stuff never stops, the chatter and all the problems and all that stuff. And I talk about that in my book. I was still going through crap. I was still feeling shitty after my court date and I still hated my husband and all that stuff. All of that was going on still while I was growing into this other, whatever that is. And now that I feel like I’m, I don’t know, more stable, I guess. I don’t even know the word for it.

Rick: That’s a good word.

Cheryl: I’m starting to focus more on this, on the chatter and what’s going on over here. And again, Jerry, he’s started this group called Diunital Consciousness. And it’s about how you mentioned before, either/or. It’s about either/or not being the only option.

Rick: Right. Both/and.

Cheryl: There is another one. Yes. Both/and is also there. And this is leading me in my talks and with my book. And last weekend I went to Atlanta to talk to the black non-believers to really introduce this to my community, to the community. Because Rick, when I had that experience in my office, it was so… To grow up feeling like you don’t belong, you don’t know who you are and you deserve every horrible thing that happens to you is an awful way to grow up. And to see that the people around you, they feel the exact same way is really hard. I mean, I know, I’m sorry.

Rick: That’s okay. This is sweet.

Cheryl: I know some beautiful, beautiful people and they’re so afraid because the belief that they’re holding on to, they feel like that’s all they have. There’s no other option. And I just want to do what I can to let them know that there is. I’m sorry.

Rick: That’s good. Now you can cry, just don’t slap your microphone.

Cheryl: I’m sorry.

Rick: No, it’s very, very sweet, Cheryl. And I’m sure you will. I mean, I’m sure you’re going to do a lot and you are doing a lot and this interview will help you do more. But the whole thing about, I mean, to my mind, the experience you had in your office, beautiful experience and there are people who kind of live in that state all the time and I’m sure you have to a much greater degree now than you used to. And so we’re talking about something really wonderful and sublime and what’s fear got to do with it, to paraphrase Tina Turner. You know, it’s such a shame that there’s been so much nonsense in the name of spirituality and that generations of people have been kind of condemned to fear over something which should be the polar opposite of fear. And it’s funny, I had you listen to my interview with Michael Dowd. He mentions that statistically in the sort of the Bible belt areas of the country, there’s a much higher incidence of porn and spousal abuse and alcoholism and all kinds of creepy stuff than there is in the sort of non-religious parts of the country, like the East and West Coast. So you kind of wonder what, I mean, personally I think there’s a kind of a nugget of truth and goodness in religion ultimately, but what’s it doing for people if that’s the society that it tends to build, and if it just creates hordes of people who are out of touch with reality and are dominated by fear?

Cheryl:Yeah, and I’m glad you say, what’s it doing for people, because one of the things after I was able to process all of this, and I talk a little bit about it at the end of my book, is, “So what? Okay, we’re all one. We’re already in eternity. So what? I’m still hurting. I’m still suffering. I’m still… all this stuff is still going on”. So now what do we do with that? Because now I feel like from where I am now, now I can begin to evolve, right? Because with belief I felt stuck, I could only go so far. I can’t go any further than this, right? But now I see that, so it’s kind of like, change is possible now because of what I see, because I see that I cannot change. Now that I see that I cannot change, I can do it, finally.

Rick: Elaborate on that, clarify that.

Cheryl: I can get out of… because I feel like what I see is, I was using belief. Belief was taking the place of permanence. It was taking the place of stability and safety, right? Because I could not see who I really was. I couldn’t see that. So I was making this thing up because I thought I was missing that. But now that I see that I’m not missing that, I don’t need this anymore. I don’t need this faux stability, this faux peace, this fake permanence. Now I can change. I can get rid of that stuff and go ahead and change the way I need to change, the way I want to change because I see that I can’t. And they have to work together. Not changing and changing have to rise together and happen at the same time, which is what di-unitality is about. Now we get into the real stuff, you know? And I really want to see, because I don’t see, and this is just my opinion from what I’ve observed, like, how is the non-dual community showing up? You know, how, I looked at the SAND conference stuff last year and I went back to Jerry, like he knows, right?

Rick: He’s a go-to guy, yeah.

Cheryl: I was like, again, question, where are the black people? I mean, because I’m like, I’ve never heard this. I’ve never heard this. Why isn’t anybody telling anybody this stuff, you know? And so now I feel like, okay, I’m in mama mode. I got to take your door down. Now that I’m here, you brought me here, you brought me to this place. So now I feel like we need to be more open and out there, just telling everybody about it.

Rick: So there’s a few threads in what you said I want to wrap up and elaborate and get your feedback on. First of all, to reiterate what you’re saying about belief and change and non-change, just to make sure I understand what you’re saying and that the audience does, I think you were saying that prior to this shift that you’ve undergone, you’re hanging on belief. Belief was your rock, but it wasn’t actually a rock, it was a sort of an unstable, tenuous kind of thing because it had no foundation. And then with the shift, there was an actual element of permanence that was introduced into your life, something that actually is intrinsically permanent and stable. And then with that you could kind of come back and deal with the changing stuff more effectively. I think as you said, this diurnal thing, there’s sort of the dual and the non-dual together. There’s a verse in the Bhagavad Gita which goes, “Established in yoga, perform action”, and yoga means union. So established in being, in permanence, in stability, on that foundation, perform action. And then it says, “Yoga is skill in action”, another verse, which means that your action is going to be more skillful if you have this foundation. So I think that’s what you’re saying about that, right?

Cheryl: Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying. It’s exactly what I’m saying. I really feel like now I can do something where before belief just had me locked in this thing and I just couldn’t get out of it, you know?

Rick: I’m reminded of Christ referring to Peter as the rock on this foundation that will build my church. He was talking about something kind of substantial and solid that he saw in Peter, that Peter had apparently experienced or was experiencing. Yeah, and this… what’s it? di-un…?

Cheryl: Di-unitality, yeah.

Rick: Okay, I’m not too familiar with the word, but I guess I’ll have to get used to it.

Cheryl: Join Jerry’s group, you can learn a lot.

Rick: Yeah, I don’t have time to read groups too much. But I get the emails, I think, maybe. I glance at the titles. But I think the non-dual world has to a great extent come around to this. I see it over and over and over again where people start out with kind of the Tony Parson’s orientation of “you are not a person and there’s nothing to do and nowhere to go” and all that stuff, and there’s an emphasis on the transcendent impersonal stuff. But then people begin to, “Hey, what about my life? I’ve got all this stuff going on, how do I deal with that? Are my children illusory?” And so you might enjoy watching this talk that Adyashanti and Francis Bennett gave together, I can send you a link to it, in fact I have it on my website. But they’re kind of addressing this at great length. And in a nutshell, the way Francis puts it, he says, “Of course you’re a person, you’re just not only a person. So of course you’re a wave, you’re just also an ocean. So it’s not like I am just the ocean, I am not a wave, and it’s not like I am just a wave, I am not an ocean, you’re both. And being both, there’s a tremendous advantage to then trying to be one or the other.

Cheryl: There is, there is. And in growing up in the black community, there’s such a sense of lost identity, because of this double consciousness, right? We don’t know if we belong here, do we belong there? How’s that going? And I actually wrote to, in the group that Jerry has, I was very, very open and very honest, because I felt like, I felt like, where race relations are in this nation, right? In the US.

Rick: Yeah, they’ve got a long ways to go still.

Cheryl: And a very long way to go. So like I said in my book, how I became free once I was honest, like the honesty was like the last resort I had, it was the last tool I had in the box, right? So being honest about what’s going on and not just pooh-poohing it away, or what happened 100 years ago, and all this other kind of stuff, because that stays with you, it stayed with me, you know, it stayed with me worshipping this white dude on a cross. I felt like every white person was like that.

Rick: Who wasn’t actually that white, did you see that thing I posted on your…

Cheryl: I did see, I did see that.

Rick: That’s probably more what he looked like, was…

Cheryl: In all of my aunts and grandparents’ homes, he looked like that.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: You know, he had blonde hair and the blue eyes and all that stuff. So I took that and I attributed that to everyone who looked like that God loved them the most.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: You know, and I was secondary so if they looked at me, touched me, talked to me, wanted to be friends with me in school I felt real special. I really did. And I feel like I needed to be honest about that and we all need to be honest about what’s happened and then we can move on, then we can move on from there.

Rick: Yeah. Of course, there’s this popular saying these days, “Black lives matter”, and it’s a little bit of a cliché, but really obviously all lives matter, polar bear lives matter, white lives matter, tree lives matter. It’s like everything is, to my way of thinking, everything is God incarnate, every being, every form of life. And so if we treat… Well, look what Christ said, he said, ‘So whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.’ And least of these could mean any race, any animal, anything. So if we clear-cut the rain for us, we’re destroying our own lungs, if we pollute the oceans, we’re poisoning our own blood, if we kill off species, we’re lopping off our own fingers and toes. So there’s just this kind of, to me the Divine is imminent in all life, in all expressions, and it all needs to be treated with reverence and respect.

Cheryl: Right, that is true. And what I can say is if you look at Maslow’s, the hierarchy of needs that he has there, when looking at where I came from and the way we grew up and the struggles and things like that, I don’t give a shit about rainforests and GMOs and all this other kind of stuff, because I’m just trying to live. You know, right now, walking into the store, I’m trying to survive.

Rick: So in your personal life you’re not at that point in Maslow’s pyramid, you’re sort of dealing with critical things.

Cheryl: Right, and I think a lot of us are dealing with that, and it’s not until we can feel safe, let’s say that, it’s not until we can feel safe, until I can be here with you, Rick, and know that I am completely safe, that I can engage you and have a good relationship with you and evolve so that we can do all that other stuff with the rainforest and the food and all these other things. But if I don’t feel safe with you, you can forget about that. I’m going to do what I need to do to survive.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: Right?

Rick: Hopefully you feel safe. You feel safe with me?

Cheryl: I do. I feel very safe with you.

Rick: I’m not tooth-breaking.

Cheryl: I do.

Rick: I remember somebody was giving me a ride one time and I was telling them about how I used to hitchhike a lot as a teenager and all, and people used to pick me up and she said, “Well, you probably never looked very sinister”. You know, sort of boyish look about me.

Cheryl: Right.

Rick: Yeah, so, in terms of what got you crying a few minutes ago, this feeling of a need to help your brothers and sisters who are kind of in fear mode and have had that drummed into them for so long, what sort of inroads have you made so far with that? How do you see yourself playing that role?

Cheryl: Yeah, no inroads at all. None.

Rick: Well, how about when you went to that thing in Atlanta?

Cheryl: Well, those are the Black Nonbelievers.

Rick: They’re already kind of over that hurdle.

Cheryl: Oh, yeah, yeah. I believe Mandisa Thomas is the head, the founder of that group, and I believe it started in 2009. So, yeah, so they’ve kind of gotten over that hump a little bit, but what I say when I go out and I speak to people is that I’m not attacking beliefs. I mean, keep your beliefs. Don’t let them go. Hold on as tightly as you can. Whatever you believe when you came in the room, believe that exact same thing when you leave. All I’m saying is look at what you’re believing. You know, that’s it. Just look at what you believe because there’s nothing I need to do. The same thing that allowed me to see what I saw is in everybody. I don’t need to do anything about that. So I’m just asking if you feel inclined to do so, you might want to look at what you’re believing. And from there, just from the looking itself, from there, they’ll figure it out. It’ll come to them.

Rick: You know what Thoreau said? He said something like, “Go ahead and build your castles in the air. That’s where they belong. Just put foundations under them”.

Cheryl: And something that I know that you’re interviewing Robert Rabbin next, right?

Rick: Yeah, speaking next week.

Cheryl: Yeah, and as I mentioned to you, Robert’s my public speaking coach.

Rick: Oh, I didn’t know that. I forgot you said that.

Cheryl: Yeah, he’s awesome. He’s absolutely awesome. So one thing that he says in speaking is, “Look at what you’re doing. Like, pay attention to how you’re moving your hands, your head, how many times you’re saying, ‘Um'”. Just pay attention. You know, just give attention to it because you cannot change what you don’t give attention to. If I don’t even know I’m doing it, how am I going to modify, do something else, right? So it’s all about looking and just paying attention to what’s going on.

Rick: Yeah, and more fundamentally, it’s about where you’re at. I mean, you can be a polished public speaker and not really be living the message and it’s not going to have the same effect as if you were somewhat green as a public speaker, but, you know, actually really imbibing the message that you’re trying to convey.

Cheryl: Exactly, and he talks about being authentic. That’s his whole thing. About being authentic and that’s, how can I not be myself? The work comes and I try not to be myself, that’s where all the effort comes. But being myself, that just comes naturally.

Rick: So this whole thing about firing God, I mean, I don’t feel like you actually fired God. I feel like you fired his crazy uncle, that God is a bit embarrassed about being associated with. And, I very much believe in God, but we could perhaps define, we could talk about what that means. And I have a feeling that maybe you do too, or maybe you will, and that you’ll hire him again, but it won’t be the same guy and it won’t even be a guy. So, you want to talk about that a little bit? Or you can even tell me what your orientation is to what I just said before we proceed.

Cheryl: Yeah, so in the book what I say is, God was my system of beliefs, like the whole thing. And it wasn’t just belief in Adam and Eve and all that stuff. It was belief in the fact that this is a computer. Belief in the concept of a cup, of a tree, of air – all that stuff. That entire system was God, because there is no sun unless I believe there’s one, right? There is no air unless I believe in air, which is what belief wants, tends to do. You need this belief in order to have something. Belief is about getting more, about more stuff and religion is all about promising more stuff, mansions and milk and honey and 10 virgins and all this other stuff.

Rick: 72.

Cheryl: Is it 72? Man!

Rick: Well, for the Muslims anyway.

Cheryl: Wow.

Rick: Except they’re all nuns and they’re carrying rifles. They don’t find that out until they go there.

Cheryl: Okay. Yeah, but, yeah, it was just a system of beliefs, right? So, the system of beliefs is there, but I’m not so invested. I don’t value it and I don’t use it to try to get me something because there’s nothing more for me to get.

Rick: Okay, so what you just said about you don’t believe in, I mean, the sun doesn’t exist unless you believe it in or something. Got to help me out on this. I mean, there have been cultures who thought that the sun was a fiery chariot going across the sky and who kind of had no idea where it went at night or it went into some netherland or something and then came out again in the daytime. And there are all sorts of mythological beliefs about astronomy and all kinds of other things. Now, obviously, even when people were believing those things, the sun and its motions or the earth’s motions were exactly the same as they are now, now we just have a better understanding of it. And so we’ve kind of cast aside, strange or mythological notions about astronomy as the case in point. So, what I’m getting at is, it seems to me that there is a reality to the laws of nature, to the way things work, which is not subservient to our understanding. It works the way it works, whether or not we understand it. Gravity did just fine before Sir Isaac Newton came along, doing the same thing now. So, it’s not like nature hangs on our opinion or our understanding of it, it is what it is.

Cheryl: Yeah, exactly. And that’s what I’m saying, like the example you used earlier about being at the restaurant and me believing one thing, I mean, it makes absolutely no difference at all. So, that’s what I see now, like with my system of beliefs, it really doesn’t make a difference. And I don’t have to imprison myself in those beliefs, thinking that there is no other way, there is no other option, this is the way it has to be.

Rick: Yeah, so I guess the point I’m making is that spirituality should be about arriving at truth, arriving at reality, and beliefs are only useful in the service of that if they are kind of pointers or aids toward the actual experience of that truth or reality. We don’t want to sort of remain with them merely as beliefs for a lifetime without substantiating them through experience.

Cheryl: Okay.

Rick: Okay?

Cheryl: Okay.

Rick: Sorry, maybe it’s not okay. Here’s something Carl Sagan said, he said, “How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, ‘This is better than we thought. The universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant.’ Instead they say, ‘No, no, no, my God is a little God and I want him to stay that way.’ A religion old or new that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by conventional faiths”.

Cheryl: Possibly.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: Yeah, but what I know is that when I was in the church, devout Christian, whatever I believed, that was it. I mean, it couldn’t get any bigger, it couldn’t get any smaller, because if it did, then that means I was wrong. I needed to be right. More than anything in the world, I needed to be right. I will ignore what I needed to ignore, I will do all kinds of acrobatics as long as I can remain right.

Rick: Yeah. Which again, harkens back to a point we made in the beginning, which is that if religion is belief-based and not experiential-based, then there’s all kinds of acrobatics, as you just said, trying to… you know how cats like to get into boxes and sit in them. I don’t know if you’ve had any pet cats, but we used to have this cat that would be hilarious in trying to fit itself into a little tiny box that it would have to be like a quarter of its size to actually fit into, but it would be trying this way and that. And so that’s kind of what I see religion doing, in the sense that various evidence comes along, and rather than expanding its perspective and saying, “Whoa, yeah, God is greater than we thought”, it’s more like, “Wait a minute, I have to shoe-horn this into my little understanding”. So, the world was created only 6,000 years ago and people used to ride around on dinosaurs and God put fish bones in the Himalayas to test our faith. It just gets crazy.

Cheryl: And like I said before, it’s not just that. It’s like, at least for me, it was where I came from. These were my roots. You’re not going to mess up my roots. This is what they are, okay, and you can’t change that, right?

Rick: Yeah. So, to me, the whole key about what you hope to do for the black community and for people who are caught in a world of mere belief, the whole key to it is to get them to understand that what they so fervently believe in and have dedicated their lives to, it actually refers to an experience, not just a belief that you hang on to, but a living experience like you had in the office that day and that you are growing into more and more now. And that should be the orientation, that I can actually experience what Jesus was talking about or whoever else. And Jesus said many things which substantiate that. He didn’t just say, “Believe me”. As far as I’m concerned, if he said, “Believe me”, it was just more like, “Okay, believe that this is possible and now I’m going to show you how to actually experience it”, not just believe. But believe, “Here’s the first step. This is a possibility for you. Now let’s get on to experiencing it”.

Cheryl: Well, right now I’m not going that far. What I’m trying to do is, right now, if I see someone with a hammer hammering their hand on the wall, I just want them to look at what they’re doing. Because right now they’re crying, they’re complaining about the pain, something’s going, they’re blaming other people, all this other kind of stuff. I’m saying, just look at what you’re doing. And once you realize what you’re doing, then whatever happens, happens. I’m just trying to get them to see. Just look, just see what you’re doing.

Rick: Yeah. But it’s hard to take something away from somebody. If you’re kind of like living in a little hut, let’s say, and you’re attached to your hut and someone tries to get you out of the hut, it could be a struggle. But if someone comes along and says, “You see that beautiful house over there? I want you to move into that”, and all you have to do is leave your hut, but don’t worry, keep your eye on the house, you’re going to get into the house and you’ll forget all about the hut, it’s going to be much better. Then it’s a lot easier to accomplish your aim than it is to just wrench them away from the hut.

Cheryl: Right, right. And also, what I saw was… as I mentioned before, my goal was not to fire God. I was not looking to not be a Christian anymore. That is not what I was looking for. I just wanted to be happy. I was miserable. I wanted a good relationship. I wanted to be a good mom, because I felt like I was ruining my kids’ lives because I couldn’t get my shit together. I wanted my financial situation to be awesome, my job to be great. I just wanted to be happy. I saw it was possible. Other people were happy. I wanted to be happy too. So what I saw was that, using the example I just used with the hammer on the hand, is for me to… me being happy first started with me stopping what I was doing. Stop hammering your hand, Cheryl. Okay, it starts there. Okay, so that’s… which led me to all this other stuff. Just seeing what I was doing to myself, to myself, led me to all this other stuff.

Rick: And I think everybody wants that. I think that’s the most fundamental human desire, is for happiness. And it’s just that we have all kinds of… we look in all the wrong places for it, you know? And basically we look outward, and we never find it outwardly. Which is not to say that we should totally stop looking outwardly, because we want relationships, we want a comfortable place to live, we need money and all that stuff. But like you said a little while back, if there’s no foundation of the inner experience, then the outer is just always going to be unstable.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Rick: So I have another little theme I want to introduce, but do you have anything on your mind that I haven’t… that we’ve been skirting around that you haven’t had a chance to elaborate on?

Cheryl: No.

Rick: Okay. Well, let’s…

Cheryl: You’re doing great, Rick. You’re doing great.

Rick: Oh, gee, thanks. Let’s talk about God a little bit more. I mean, what is your… do you believe in God now?

Cheryl: No, I don’t.

Rick: Okay. And you certainly don’t believe in the crazy uncle.

Cheryl: Oh, no.

Rick: You dropped him. And so you don’t believe that there’s kind of anything, anywhere, on any level of reality that the word “God” might pertain to?

Cheryl: Possibly, but I mean, I don’t… I don’t know. That’s really hard to answer. I know sometimes what I see is I imagine, like what’s going on right now is happening within this vast universe, right? And it’s just amazing. All I feel is amazement. I think it’s just… it’s awesome. I remember one time I was in my kitchen frying some eggs for breakfast, and I’m looking at the eggs, and they’re like shining or something. And I was giddy. I felt like a child, like, “Oh, my God, these are eggs? Where the hell did that come from? What is that?” So it’s kind of like that, and I don’t know if it’s God or whatever. It’s just so amazing. It’s just so amazing.

Rick: Now think about what’s actually going on with those eggs. I mean, we can start anywhere. We can start with the chicken, which is a conglomeration of billions of cells, literally billions. I mean, we in our own body have cells, if you examine them microscopically, is about as complex as Tokyo. I mean, it’s an incredibly complex mechanism. The DNA inside the nucleus of a cell is about six feet long, coiled up in each cell, and each of those DNA strands contains all the information necessary to make another chicken or another human being. And then taking it down to the molecular level, there’s all these little molecules buzzing around, and to the atomic level, all this stuff going. And it’s so obviously not just a chaotic, random, billiard ball kind of arrangement with things just sort of without any order or intelligence producing chickens, or human beings, or eggs. There’s a vast intelligence completely permeating and orchestrating everything from the subatomic through the galactic, and everywhere in between, without a gap anyplace. And scientists generally acknowledge this, but they kind of stop short of saying what that intelligence might be. I mean, they define thousands of different laws of nature and identify so many different mechanisms of how amino acids work, and how DNA works, and all this stuff. They just don’t kind of ask, or if they do ask the question, they don’t answer the question of, “How is all that happening? What’s behind that? If that’s the clock, then who’s the clockmaker?” And so to me, the notion of God is that intelligence which obviously permeates everything. It’s not just sort of far removed off at a distance, like a clockmaker might be. It’s at the heart of every phenomenon in creation. And omnipresent, omniscient, omnipotent, all those adjectives that are used to define God traditionally, but that are completely glossed over and misunderstood by traditional religions. But one can attune oneself to the experience of that level of nature’s functioning, and then it begins to become very real and very vivid and very felt. So that sounds like a bit of a rant, but I’m just saying that because what did Einstein say? He said, “He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand wrapped in awe is as good as dead”. And most of us just don’t go through our days wrapped in awe, but we’re actually looking at and participating in something that’s incredibly profound and beautiful, and we just sort of take it for granted.

Cheryl: Yeah, and I think Einstein also said, “The only thing that gets in the way of my learning is my education”. Yeah, so it is just about going with the flow, evolving, changing.

Rick: So to me, the whole thing I just said is actually relevant to the whole non-duality thing and the whole diurnal thing – or whatever you call it, diunitive.

Cheryl: Diuintive.

Rick: And it’s even relevant to what you said about your life having had a kind of an orchestration to its unfoldment that seems to make sense in retrospect, as difficult as it may have been as you went through it. There’s some kind of intelligence that governs the universe, not only in terms of mechanical things like I was just describing, but in terms of the course of our lives. And you were talking earlier about God loving you or not loving you and what not, and what does that really mean, that God loves you or doesn’t love you?

Cheryl: Well, to me, in the beginning, it just meant if my father loves me, he’s going to give me stuff. I’m not going to suffer. You know, that’s what it meant to me in the beginning. Now, love is just everything. It’s just whatever it is. No boundaries.

Rick: So as a mother, if you were scrubbing dirt from behind your kid’s ear when he was 3 or 4 years old, he probably thought, “I hate this. Stop it. Mommy doesn’t love me. Leave me alone. I don’t want this”. And so all the stuff we go through in life that’s not quite the way we would have it be could be seen as scrubbing dirt from behind our ears.

Cheryl: And like I said with my son, when I took his door down and I said, “Mommy’s job is to know”. That’s it. I need to know. And I love you, so I know you. You know, mommy needs to know everything.

Rick: So, I’m talking too much and I’m getting a little philosophical, but I just wanted to bring these themes into the conversation because I don’t know if they’re emphasized enough in the so-called non-dual community. A lot of it kind of stops short of considering what I’ve just been saying. And I think it’s extremely relevant. And in some spiritual traditions, an appreciation of God, experiential appreciation or cognition of God is said to follow eventually from self-realization. You know, we get to know who we are, but then having come to know who we are, our ability to appreciate what’s actually going on here begins to become enhanced. And that appreciation grows to the point where we begin to sort of desire to know and appreciate and cognize the intelligence behind all this or intrinsic to all this.

Cheryl: Yeah. And as far as getting philosophical and explaining it in various ways, I have to admit I was so lost. I mean, reading some of these books and I needed a PhD to get through some of this stuff, which I don’t have. So, that was hard. That was hard too, trying to learn about it. And because I felt like I’m excluded again because I don’t understand what this is saying to me. The language wasn’t simple enough. So, what I did and what I’m trying to do is like with my blogs – I don’t know if you’ve looked at any of my blogs – but I take very, very common things like the game Words with Friends. I have a blog about that and tying it into this scene, right? I have a blog about the Terminator or I’m talking about the movie with Sarah Connor and all that. So, I try to make it very readable and relatable. I talk about orgasms and stuff like that and death and things that people are just familiar with and try to make it as short as possible, which is one reason why my book is so short and to the point. Because I see that there’s another audience out there who… and they’re looking, they’re tired too. They’re just as exhausted as I was. But like I said before, don’t know that there is another option. Don’t know that there’s anywhere to go except to another belief, which is in all beliefs are the same. So, you’re just going to keep putting those walls up, putting those walls up around yourself. So, communicating this in a more inclusive way is really helpful, I think.

Rick: I think it is and I think it’s great. And if we think, if we come back to the thing I was just saying about God being in everything and everything is in God – we can put it both ways – then God being that sort of all-pervading intelligence, then we are representatives of that. We are sense organs of the infinite, you could say. And so, you’re a sense organ, I’m a sense organ, Rupert Spira is a sense organ. And everybody expressing anything is doing it through their own capabilities through their own orientation. And there are going to be people out there who resonate with this, that, or the other orientation, and one size does not fit all.

Cheryl: Right, you’re right. You’re exactly right. So, I’m the one black female.

Rick: You’ve got a monopoly.

Cheryl: I do.

Rick: You can cash in on this.

Cheryl: I’m cornered over here.

Rick: This is big, you should totally cash in before you get any competition. You need an agent. Actually you do have some pretty big competition in Oprah.

Cheryl: Oprah?

Rick: Yeah, because she’s been talking about this stuff for a long time. She’s really into spirituality, she meditates, she’s always doing things with Deepak, and she does her best to get this message out there. She has an… you may have seen her show Super Soul Sunday, where she’s interviewing Adyashanti and Byron Katie and all these different people. So, I think you missed the boat.

Cheryl: Oh, did I? Yeah, maybe I did. Maybe I did. Yeah.

Rick: No, I’m just kidding.

Cheryl: Yeah. So, can I ask you a question?

Rick: Yeah, please.

Cheryl: So, when I was first investigating this stuff, you are one of the folks who popped up in my Google search, and “Buddha at the gas pump”, that really threw me.

Rick: You’re like, “What does that mean?”

Cheryl: I’m like, “What the hell does that mean?” Buddha at the gas pump? What is that all about?

Rick: Do you get it now?

Cheryl: I think so. Is it just like, you know, Buddha being in an ordinary place? Like Buddha at Walmart or something like that?

Rick: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, it could be Buddha at Walmart, it could be Jesus at the Baskin Robbins or whatever.

Cheryl: I know one thing though, Buddha at the DMV, if he comes to Virginia, he will lose his Buddhahood really quickly. It will be Siddhartha at the DMV. These people will take you there. But yeah, no, I get it, I do, I get it, I get it.

Rick: Yeah, and I actually can’t even take credit for that title. I was thinking of something much more trite and boring as a title, but a young friend of mine in his 20s like spewed out about a dozen ideas, just in a minute, and that was one of them. And all my friends said, “Yeah, that’s what you should call it”. So I did.

Cheryl: It is catchy. It’s like Paul Hedderman’s Zenbitchslap.

Rick: Right, right, right.

Cheryl: Yeah, that’s good. I like that. I’ve been wanting to ask you that for three years now.

Rick: Yeah, that’s the deal. And Irene didn’t like it. She thought it was a dumb name, but most people kind of like it.

Cheryl: Is Irene there?

Rick: She went out of the room, but she’s around. She’s coming and going. You can meet her later if you like. So let’s see, I took some notes when I was reading your book. Let me just see if this gives us something that we haven’t talked about yet. Yeah, there’s one section in your book where you talk about, you have a chapter for each of the following – sin, responsibility, belief, and perfection. Shall we chat about each of those for a few minutes?

Cheryl: Sure.

Rick: Let’s start with sin. Incidentally, something opened the door to your room back there.

Cheryl: That’s the wind.

Rick: All right, we’re okay. The lighting is still okay. Let’s keep going. So what are you saying in the chapters of the book that we could talk about?

Cheryl: So those things are… when I first came into the realization, there were a lot of beliefs that were just… they dug themselves in there, and they were not just going to be let go. And those were the ones that were more entrenched, I guess you can say. Sin, I mean, sin is just the thing. Sin is you’re disobedient to God’s word. Everything is a sin. Every single day I was a Christian, I went to bed at night when I said my prayer, – please forgive me for any sin that I’ve committed, because if I died that night, I wanted to go to heaven, and I wanted to be fresh, freshly forgiven before I went to bed. So sin was a huge, huge thing. And just entertaining the idea that it’s not what I thought it was was hard.

Rick: That sin was not what you thought it was.

Cheryl: Yeah, that sin is not… maybe it’s something that just happens naturally. It’s like a reflex or something. Maybe it’s just a natural thing that happens in nature. And it’s not something that I do and have control over, like I can sin or I can’t sin. Maybe it’s something else. And in all these chapters it’s more like a, possibly, could it be something else? With responsibility, I was never responsible for anything. Either God did it or Satan did it.

Rick: Before you buzz through all of them, let’s take them one at a time. So I think we can safely assume that whatever religion understands sin or responsibility or any of these things to be, is probably not what was originally intended by the use of the term, and not actually what the founder of the religion was referring to. And so the sin thing comes from that, what is that term that means to miss the mark? I think it’s an archery term, and it means you’ve missed the mark. And so, I guess the question is, there’s the whole philosophy of karma that Eastern religions hold, and even Western, I mean, “As you sow, so shall you reap”, isn’t that in the Bible someplace? So, it raises the question, are there consequences to our actions? Do we have free will? Do we have control over or any willpower to do things this way as opposed to that way? And if we do things in such a way that they’re going to harm people or cause suffering to people or retard their spiritual progress or something, does that matter? Is that any different than if we do things that help them and make them happy and so on? What do you think?

Cheryl: So, in the book, so missing the mark, I do mention that in the book. And also, I have a chapter that’s called “Making What’s Missing”, because there is no mark. The mark is a belief, like whatever the belief is, and we know that that’s not true, right? That’s something made up, and so there really is no mark to miss, right? And that’s on this side. Now, back on this side, and we’re back into the diunital thing again, we have created these marks. They’re here. They’re right here. And it’s possible to miss them. But it’s from seeing that at the place where there are no marks, where I can now move on to make change in the world in whatever way I think change needs to be made. But it can only happen effectively, from what I see, from seeing that change is not necessary, right? Does that make sense?

Rick: Yeah, it does make sense. And my former teacher always used to say that one can only act from one’s level of consciousness, whatever that may be, and if the level of consciousness is not very developed, then inevitably one is going to behave in certain ways that create suffering for oneself and others. And if the level of consciousness is higher, then again, spontaneously, without a whole lot of brow-beating and effort, one is going to behave in such a way as to help people flourish, to have an evolutionary beneficial influence on others.

Cheryl: Yeah, exactly.

Rick: I think that’s kind of what you’re saying there.

Cheryl: Yeah, it is.

Rick: You have to kind of… it depends on where you’re coming from and your first priority should be to be in the right place from which to act.

Cheryl: Right, exactly. And I love how you say it happens spontaneously, like with no effort.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: So I don’t have to try to be nice to you or kind to you. You know, that’s just the way it’s playing out.

Rick: The way you roll naturally.

Cheryl: Yeah, exactly.

Rick: Right, and let’s say it’s not your natural inclination to be nice or kind and you’re straining to be nice and kind because you want to be a good Christian and all, then what happens when you get home or something? There’s this pent-up frustration or something and you’ll lash out because you’ve been straining.

Cheryl: Exactly, right. I have a friend who is just such a liar. I mean, they just lie all the time. Not just that, but they tell everything. I mean, I can’t say a thing without it getting back to somebody else, right? So trying to not be that way is hard for this person because that’s not what they do. That’s not how they roll. But I know this about them. They’re very honest about it. So I’ve actually…

Rick: They’re honest that they’re a liar?

Cheryl: Oh, yeah.

Rick: How do you know they’re telling the truth about that?

Cheryl: Exactly. But also that they cannot keep a secret. There’s no way I can say, “I’m going to tell you this, but please don’t tell anybody else. You can forget about that”. But because I know that and there’s honesty there, I can go to this person and say. If I don’t want to say something to someone, but I want them to know it…

Rick: Right, just tell her.

Cheryl: …it can go to this person. Yeah. So she’s useful. She’s very very… because she’s being who she is. You know what I mean? So being who you are is all that’s necessary. That’s it. Just being exactly who you are and you fit in exactly where you’re supposed to fit in and things work the way they need to work.

Rick: Yeah. And I would say that, speaking hypothetically, I don’t know this person, but in general, in the course of one’s evolution as a soul, and I do believe souls evolve as we go along, this person isn’t always going to be a liar. That’s a character flaw of some sort that, one way or another, will eventually be worked out. And she may, if this is a woman, she may encounter some slaps here and there as God or nature tries to correct that tendency in her.

Cheryl: Possibly.

Rick: Yeah. I mean…

Cheryl: I’m glad you said that because something… when I went to black non-believers this past weekend, there was a lady there who had a disability. And what she said was – it was very interesting because I’d never heard this before – is that she talks and possibly writes about disabilities in the Bible. And how every time you see someone with a disability, it’s because they’ve been infected with a demon or something or it needs to be cast out. Like being disabled is wrong. When what she says is, that is totally not true. Being disabled is perfectly fine. We’ve just labeled it disability. Like they’re lacking something. But disabled people, they’re not lacking a damn thing. They’re really not. And to see that, to really see that, is hard. When you feel like if somebody can’t see, then they need operation so they can see. If they can’t hear, they need those cochlear things or whatever, to be just like everybody else. So that’s something very interesting to me that I’m really interested in finding out more about.

Rick: Yeah. I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I mean, if I were deaf and some operation could restore my hearing, I’d want to get it.

Cheryl: Possibly.

Rick: If I break my leg, I want to have it set properly so I’m not limping for the rest of my life. The bone can be set in a certain way. So don’t we do our best to overcome handicaps if we can? And then what’s that Alcoholics Pledge? The ability to change the things you can change, not worry about the things you can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Cheryl: Yeah. But my question is though, like for individuals who are born with certain things, is it a handicap? I’m calling it a handicap because I’m comparing it to me and saying, I can do this and you can’t. So you’re handicapped in some kind of way. So my question is just, is that really what that is? Is it a handicap for real?

Rick: Yeah. I mean, we’re all handicapped compared to somebody else who has greater abilities in this or the other way than we do. We’re all handicapped. So we are who we are and we’re just kind of going along doing the best we can. And again, we’re evolving. I really think that. I mean, there’s some kind of paths or traditions that dismiss that notion. They just say, well, you’re enlightened or you’re not, and you just, you are what you are and so on. But as I see it, there’s a sort of an evolutionary tendency in the whole universe and all beings are kind of not only evolving biologically through various species perhaps, but evolving as souls into greater and fuller expressions of the Divine.

Cheryl: Yeah.

Rick: You can tell that I kind of interject a lot of my own philosophies and opinions into these interviews.

Cheryl: That’s fine.

Rick: Some people hate it, some people like it, and it is what it is because I can’t help it because I’m just me. Like you were just saying, it’s my handicap.

Cheryl: Yeah. It’s your handicap. You’ll evolve from that.

Rick: The devil made me do it. So what about responsibility?

Cheryl: So responsibility, that’s about, like I was saying, as a Christian, a believer, I am not responsible for anything. You know, it’s either God or the devil. God did something good or the devil did something bad or God allowed the devil to do something so that I would fall into this hole to teach me a lesson. I mean, there is no responsibility at all, ever, for anything.

Rick: That’s the way you used to see it.

Cheryl: Oh yeah.

Rick: But then how could you feel so guilty and stuff if you weren’t responsible?

Cheryl: I don’t know. The guilt was just… the guilt was there before I could walk, almost. I mean, the guilt was just there. It was just constantly there. There was no reason for the guilt. It was just there, you know? And I guess the fact that God and the devil and my enemies were there around me, I could try to get rid of it by blaming them or something like that. Like, I shouldn’t feel bad about this because it’s for whatever. But yeah, I don’t know where that guilt came from. I really don’t. And that’s a good question because responsibility, I didn’t want to be responsible for anything. I wanted to be blameless for anything, right? So with this seeing, that was really hard to let go of because the belief is like a buffer. It really is like a buffer. And with that buffer gone, man, everything is just raw and there, you know? And that hurts. It hurts. It hurts to feel pain and not be able to just give it to somebody. Like all this stuff that was happening when I was going through my divorce, all the feelings I was having, man, it was so hard to not just give that to him and say, “It’s your fault. This is why I feel this way”.

Rick: To give it to Jesus or to your…

Cheryl: No, to my husband.

Rick: To your ex-husband. Okay.

Cheryl: Yes.

Rick: In other words, you had to take responsibility for it.

Cheryl: I had to. I had to hold that pain close to me and just be with it. I didn’t want to do that. I mean, it was tough. It got easier, of course. It did get a lot easier, but it’s hard to do. I don’t want it. I don’t want it.

Rick: So is your orientation to life now that you pretty much take responsibility for everything in your life and everything that happens to you?

Cheryl: I take responsibility while I see what’s going on in life. So it’s not like I say, “Something happens. You hit me with your car”.

Rick: Right. Whiplash.

Cheryl: Don’t be like, “Don’t worry about it, Rick. No, you’re going to pay for my car”. But I see that if I feel some kind of way about that, if I’m angry at you and all this other kind of… Then I’m doing that. All you did was hit my car. That’s the end of the story. And all that other stuff is going to happen. But anything that causes me to suffer for that, if two weeks later I’m still thinking about it, “Well, you should have paid me more for that”, or, “He didn’t have to do anything”, or, “Why was he… ” That’s on me. You don’t have anything to do with that. My car, that was it. Done.

Rick: Yeah. So in other words, you don’t spin big stories out of…

Cheryl: No, I mean, it’s too time-consuming. I’ve got other things I need to do.

Rick: Yeah. I was driving along with a friend a couple of weeks ago on the highway and some car pulled out right in front of us and I hit the brakes and didn’t hit him. And my friend was like, “Okay, love, forgiveness”. And we drove along for a little while and I said, “You know what my reaction to that car was?” And I wasn’t saying this to brag, it was just my reaction. I said, “Well, hit the brakes, keep driving”. And there’s a Zen story where two Zen monks are walking along, an older monk and a younger monk, and they come to a stream and there’s this pretty young girl standing at the stream and she can’t get across, right? And so the older monk picks up the pretty young girl and carries her across the stream and puts her down so she can be on her way and they keep walking. And a couple of hours goes by and the young monk has been very silent and finally says, “I can’t stand it anymore. I just have to say this to you. You know we’re monks, we’re not supposed to touch women. Why did you pick up that girl and carry her across the stream?” And the older monk says, “Oh, are you still carrying her? I put her down a few hours ago”.

Cheryl: Yeah, exactly, you’re right. That’s exactly it, whatever I’m still carrying, that’s on me and I can’t blame that on anybody.

Rick: Yeah, good. Alright, so that’s responsibility.

Cheryl: Mm-hmm.

Rick: Belief. We’ve already talked a lot about belief.

Cheryl: Yeah, we talked a lot about it.

Rick: How about perfection?

Cheryl: Perfection, so the Bible says, what does it say?

Rick: “Be ye therefore perfect”.

Cheryl: Yeah, as your Father in heaven is perfect.

Rick: “Is perfect”.

Cheryl: So we see that, let me speak for myself, I saw that, I was taught to see that as a race to the finish line. I’m not perfect yet – oh, I’m hitting the mic – but I’m gonna get there, so I gotta do all this stuff to get to perfection, right? So I’m proposing maybe this could just simply mean you’re already that, be ye perfect, you are perfect, because I’m your Father, we’re the same, we got this thing going here, I’m perfect, and you’re already at the finish line.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: So anything you’re doing has nothing to do with the finish line, because you’re already there.

Rick: And you would apply that universally?

Cheryl: Yes.

Rick: So that guy in Lafayette, Louisiana, who shot up some people in a movie theater the other night, he’s perfect?

Cheryl: He doesn’t have to go to the finish, he’s already at the finish line. Now all that other stuff he’s doing has nothing to do with who he is, okay? It may have something to do with what he sees, like what he understands, how he’s seeing himself but that’s got nothing to do with the reality of who he is.

Rick: Yeah, let me give you my spin on this. You know, that has nothing to do with the reality of who he is, like you just said, and ultimately we are and all this is that reality, what else can it be? You know, how could the… there’s a verse in the Gita that says, “The unreal has no being, the real never ceases to be. The final truth about them both has been known by the seers of ultimate reality”, or something like that. And that last bit is relevant, “the seers of ultimate reality”. So just because there’s an ultimate reality to things, and that’s what we always are and have been and will be, eternally that, doesn’t mean we see it, you know? And so to me the notion of “be therefore perfect” is really an injunction to see the level of perfection in a deep, cognitive, experiential way, to know it experientially. Because the vast majority of people are estranged from that, you know? That if we want to just draw a diagram, that reality is down here at the foundation of things and they’re just kind of floating around on the waves without any contact with that. And so the recommendation in that verse is to actually make contact with that, to merge with that, to become that, to consciously know yourself as that, and then you’ll be living perfection, not just philosophizing about it.

Cheryl: There was… we’ve had several discussions in one of my groups about veganism, right? And they’re very interesting. And I’m not a vegan, but I joined a vegan group, right? Just because I want to see… I really want to see perspectives that are in contravention to mine, you know? So I’m in Christian groups, I mean, all this stuff, because I’m just looking at the conversations and just following them, seeing how they change.

Rick: I think that’s a really cool trait about you, that you just want to expose yourself to other perspectives.

Cheryl: Yeah, I absolutely do. So there’s lots of discussion around that. Some folks are really passionate about it, some are passionate on the other side. And what I see there is that kindness is a big thing, being kind, not just to animals but to all of life, just being kind. And what I see is that I feel like the being kind is already taken care of. It’s more about seeing kind, right? My vision is obscured, right? So I’m not seeing what’s there. I’m really not seeing what’s there. So it’s working on that. And I can only see kindness, as I said before, from this realization, because that’s really what takes the veils off my eyes. And the more that I can see kind, okay, then the being kind, which is already there, I feel, just is able to be more exposed, I guess. So the more I can see it, the more it can be. Does that make any sense at all?

Rick: It makes total sense. Yeah, I know what you’re saying. It’s like we were saying earlier, you can only act from your level of consciousness. And so if you’re in sort of kindness consciousness, so to speak, then your actions will flow spontaneously from that. And there’s some wiggle room in that. I mean, I know people who are very kind and ethical and enlightened, who still eat meat and stuff, and that really freaks some people out. They think, “Well, how can they do that? They’re not walking their talk”. And I don’t know, I can’t really speak to that, but I try not to judge it. And hey, I ate chicken and fish once, after decades of vegetarianism, and I get flak for that from people. As I mentioned it before, people say, “Well, you’re not really there yet, Rick”.

Cheryl: “You’re not there yet?”

Rick: Yeah, I don’t know. It’s like you have to sort of, you can intellectualize and talk and discuss about all this stuff, and at a certain point you just have to give people some latitude and not judge them.

Cheryl: Yeah, you’ve got to give them latitude.

Rick: Besides which, I mean – this is a bit of a tangent – but there are people who are health advocates and so on, who say that if your whole life and also generationally going back for hundreds of years, there has been meat consumption, it could be really bad for your health to just quit cold turkey and try to adopt a completely different diet for which you’re not naturally constituted.

Cheryl: Yeah, could be.

Rick: Yeah. All right, well, we talked about perfection. A few more little tidbits here. “For one to be delivered, all must be delivered because we’re all God’s one son”. I’m taking these little things from your book that jumped out at me. Talk about that.

Cheryl: I hated that. I mean, that was a huge hump.

Rick: Because you got kicked out of the exclusive club.

Cheryl: Yes, yes, and like I said in the beginning, yes, I was special and favorite and all that stuff, but that was made even sweeter because I had enemies who were going to burn in hell forever. And I loved that. Yeah, so there’s a documentary called Waiting for Armageddon, and I posted this once in my group, but looking at… I watched that documentary like eight times, no lie, like eight times I watched it because the way they talk about it, there’s going to be blood as high as a horse’s bridle, whatever the Bible says about that. God’s going to come back and destroy it and this is how he’s going to do it. And the ground is going to be soaked in blood. I mean, blood was mentioned like a thousand times in this thing, and it was mentioned with such glee. One guy was like, “It’s going to be so exciting to see”. Oh, not that I want to see, but I really want to see this happen because the prophecy will be coming, fulfilled because I will be right. I’ll be right. And it’s so fascinating to me because I used to think that way too. It was very comforting, extremely comforting to believe that God was going to kick somebody’s ass for me. And I would say so God is going to get you. You don’t mess with a child of God. That’s what we say. You don’t do that. Like the don’t mess with Texas-type thing. Really don’t mess with a child of God because he’s going to get you. And now that I’m saying what I’m saying in the Christian community, what I’m hearing is, “Cheryl, you better be careful. You better be really careful about what you’re doing and what you’re saying because God’s not going to tolerate that. He’s not going to go for you telling people what you’re telling them. So watch out for your kids. Watch out for yourself”. So it’s all this. If you’re not on the side of the goodies, if you’re on the side of the baddies, I’m sorry for you, but you had it coming and I’m glad to see it anyway because I’m right.

Rick: Yeah, it’s just all ego-aggrandizement as far as I can see. You know, trying to compensate for one’s felt sense of inadequacy by making oneself feel special and making others feel less special helps even more. You know, it’s not enough to just feel special oneself, but you feel even extra special if the other people are all going to hell.

Cheryl: Exactly, right? So letting go of that, like seeing that my enemies will not be punished forever in a lake of fire and all this other kind of stuff, I was very upset. I was extremely upset about that.

Rick: Oh, you’re not upset anymore though, right?

Cheryl: No, I’m not upset anymore.

Rick: It’s like, “Let them live”.

Cheryl: But that was hard to get over. I mean, it really really was.

Rick: Yeah.

Cheryl: Yeah.

Rick: Well, I mean, you had a lot of things that were deeply ingrained. We all do, you know, but you really had that stuff drummed into you for a long time.

Cheryl: A long time, yeah.

Rick: And you don’t… this is probably one useful point here, which is that our conditioning doesn’t just go in a flash. If it ever does for anybody, it must be very rare. It’s like layer after layer after layer after layer, and it all has to be sort of examined and rooted out.

Cheryl: And there was a lot of fear in there, and I’m not talking about… I’m talking about real, like stuff I felt in my body, fear for no reason. Like I’m sitting somewhere on a sunny, beautiful day, and just like what happened on my job, just terror. You know, when I think about something, like people aren’t going to hell or whatever, just simple thoughts like that.

Rick: That would stir up fear?

Cheryl: Yeah, it would stir up, horrible, horrible, out of fear.

Rick: Interesting. Yeah. It’s almost like, you’re kind of like… it’s almost like what comes to mind when you say that is that each time you felt or feel a wave of fear like that, it’s a signal that some nice purging has just taken place or is about to. You know, it’s like kind of the smoke as something burns off, just giving you a signal that the thing is being burned.

Cheryl: Yeah, maybe that’s what it is. I remember that I emailed Rupert to ask about that, because in the satsangs that I’ve been listening to, I really hadn’t heard that a lot. It was all about beauty and bliss and light and all this other kind of stuff. Nobody said how they wanted to piss their pants throughout this process. So I was like, what’s up with that? And he responded, I don’t remember what he said. But I did hear after that one lady mentioned something about that, which I was happy to hear, because it was good to hear that someone else was going through that too.

Rick: Well, you remember what Yoda said to Luke Skywalker, right?

Cheryl: What? What did he say?

Rick: Well, Luke said, “I’m not afraid”. And Yoda said, “You will be”.

Cheryl: Maybe that’s what Rupert said in his email. Yeah, no, I don’t know.

Rick: Yeah. Here’s a nice line that you said, “I can love my neighbor as myself because my neighbor is myself. We are not separate”. I think that’s the key to loving your neighbor as yourself, by the way.

Cheryl: And one thing that I said in this group, this diunital group, yesterday was when, and I use the interviews that I’ve done as an example. I’ve done interviews with white folks and black folks, okay? And because of what I believed and the way I grew up and things like that, I really felt that in those interviews with the white interviewers, I had to be somebody else. I had, my voice had to be different. I really paid a lot more attention to what I said and how I said it. I was a lot more cognizant of what was going on because I was trying, I wanted to be like my interviewer. You know, I want to be like them. But when I’m with someone who’s black, I feel like I can just be me. I don’t have to be like you, you know? And what I said was, because the question I asked in that group was, “Do you have enough?” You know, because Jerry and Greg Goode, he’s in this group too. So it’s, two white dudes talking about diunital consciousness, which is something that comes from black studies and that community, which was kind of weird to me. I’m like, and all the commentary, all the decisions, I mean, all that stuff is coming from these guys. So my… but I’m an admin on this group too. But, so my question was, don’t y’all have enough? You know, really, don’t you have enough? Because I feel like the reason why I do that and probably other black people is that…

Rick: Obama was criticized for that. I mean, when he was campaigning, he would be speaking to black groups and he’d sort of take on a different way of speaking to the brothers. And then when he was speaking to white groups, he was speaking… so he was criticized. So maybe it’s a natural thing that we just…

Cheryl: Well, what I said was, diunital, like the diunital consciousness, the “am I this or am I that” type thing is about survival, right? So if I feel like I can take on your mannerisms, if I can be like you, then there’s nothing for you to take from me, okay? Because I’m like you, we got the same stuff, right? And when I’m with someone who is like me, I feel more comfortable because they’re not going to take any… I can still leave that conversation whole going back to all the stuff that’s happened with slavery and the Native Americans and all that stuff, you know? So in that conversation, it was about seeing that and acknowledging that, that this is what I’m doing, like right now, this is what I’m doing. And now that I see what I’m doing, I can pay more attention to it and see what that’s all about.

Rick: So in this interview, do you feel like you’ve conducted yourself differently than if I were a black man interviewing you?

Cheryl: I don’t know. I feel comfortable with you, Rick, but I mean, I don’t feel like I’m being anything other than who I am.

Rick: You don’t seem to be, as far as I can tell. I’ve listened to a bunch of your interviews. I’ve listened to one where a black woman was interviewing you on some internet radio show and she kept calling you…

Cheryl: Did I sound different in that one?

Rick: She did, not so much you. You sounded kind of like you sound now, but she kept calling you “my sister” and things like that.

Cheryl: You haven’t said that once.

Rick: I haven’t said that. Well, I would be phony if I were to talk that way because I don’t talk that way. You know, it would be like I would be reversing the roles and doing the same thing you just described.

Cheryl: Yeah, maybe. But that goes back to me feeling safe, right? I cannot have a relationship with you if I don’t feel safe with you, you know? And we can’t evolve together back to the hierarchy of needs unless that safety is there.

Rick: Yeah. All righty. Well, let me read a paragraph here that was towards the very end of your book and we’ll see if there’s any commentary on this. And if there’s not, maybe this is a good point on which to wrap it up, but we’ll be able to make some wrap-up comments too. You said, “The thing I hated, despised, and wanted to punish was not my enemy. It was my judgment of myself as separate. As a Christian, I forgive others and know that I am simultaneously forgiving myself because there are no others. Ultimately, it’s seen that there is nothing to forgive and this is true forgiveness”.

Cheryl: Yes. There was… I’ll comment with a story that I read. This story where this little girl, she did not know her dad. She was born and he left and he went and he had another family, more children, things like that. And the mother was a little disturbed by that, but she was always honest with the little girl to let her know, “This is your father. He’s not here right now. He’s there. He has another family”. He’d come to visit her every now and then, whatever. So one day, the little girl, she goes to her father’s house and meets the family. He’s a good father. The kids love him. Everything is going well. So when the mom picks her up, she asks the little girl how did it go? And she said, “Well, mom, I’m very happy to see that he’s a really great dad and they really love him”. And the little girl had no animosity or anything like that. She was just very happy to see that her dad was finally able to be a dad, the way he should have been. So when it comes to seeing that there’s nothing to forgive, you are being exactly who you are right now. How can I condemn you for that, for being exactly who you are? There’s nothing to forgive you for. You haven’t done anything. You haven’t affronted me in any kind of way by being exactly who you are.

Rick: Doesn’t it say something in the Bible about, you are already forgiven or something? There’s this kind of like, as if sort of a constant flow of forgiveness. I don’t know whether that was Jesus or what reference that came from, but it’s sort of like if you’re actually in that state, you spontaneously forgive everyone. Well, on the cross he said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do. They knew not what they did because they knew not what they were or are”. And he saw that and forgave them even in the act of crucifying him and undoubtedly forgave everyone else throughout his life who were doing much less heinous things to him or to one another.

Cheryl: Right, and I see that forgiveness, like forgiveness happens before. Forgiveness is what allows all this stuff to occur in the first place is what I see. So I don’t have to forgive you. It’s already been done, which is why I can even be here with you now. It’s because of forgiveness.

Rick: That’s nice. Good. Well, that’s a good theme to end on, I suppose. So you live in DC, you work for the government. That’s just about everyone in DC does.

Cheryl: Pretty much. Or a contractor. It’s one or the other. A contractor for the government, yeah.

Rick: Yeah. And you would kind of like to do more public speaking. So if people are hearing this interview, wherever they may be and would like you to speak, they can get in touch with you through their website, through your website.

Cheryl: Through my website, mm-hmm.

Rick: Which I’ll be linking to. And it’s just, right?

Cheryl: Yep,

Rick: And I’ll be linking to it. And you’d be happy to fly around and talk here and there.

Cheryl: Oh, more than happy, yeah. Definitely.

Rick: And maybe you could come to the Science And Nonduality Conference sometime. I think you’d find it fun and you’d have a good time meeting Rupert and all these people in person.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah, that would be really cool.

Rick: Yeah, you could speak at it. Probably not this year because they’re not taking more speakers but next year you could do that. It would be great. Is there anything else you’d like to tell people about… I mean, do you have individual Skype chats with people or anything like that? You probably don’t have a heck of a lot of time, but…

Cheryl: Oh, yeah, I haven’t done that in the past. I work full-time, I have four kids.

Rick: Yeah, you’re busy.

Cheryl: Yeah, so… well, I could squeeze one or two people in.

Rick: Yeah, if they want to email you about something.

Cheryl: Yeah, like in the evenings after the kids go to bed or something.

Rick: Yeah, okay, good. Well, thanks. I really enjoyed this conversation.

Cheryl: I did too. I really did. Thank you.

Rick: Yeah, I knew it would go well because you’re just so articulate and clear and the things I’ve seen online and just… and it’s really cool that you just have a kind of a voracious appetite for understanding this stuff better and exposing yourself to new perspectives and all. I think that will serve you well throughout your life. It’s always so good to kind of enrich one’s frame of reference, to enrich one’s self by kind of looking at things in fresh ways. I remember – speaking of Obama again – I remember someone asked him whether he watched some particular news show or something. He said, “No, I don’t watch that because I’m not going to learn anything new on that. I always want to spend my time doing something that’s going to teach me something new”.

Cheryl: Yeah, yeah. I’ve always loved school. I love learning new things and I’m on the path that I really want it to be on in terms of I love speaking and I love writing. I love doing all that stuff, but I knew I was going to write a book. I just thought it was going to be like an erotic romance novel.

Rick: Maybe you’ll get to that one.

Cheryl: Totally, no. This is not erotic at all. Well, it could be, I don’t know. But yeah, this is really great. I’m really enjoying this.

Rick: Yeah, life is fun, isn’t it?

Cheryl: Yeah.

Rick: Okay, so let me make some general concluding remarks. I’ve been speaking with Cheryl Abram, interview number 300 in the series Buddha at the Gas Pump. So, if this is new to you, if you haven’t seen any others, you can go to and you’ll see under the past interviews menu, you’ll see them archived and categorized in about five different ways. Under the future interviews menu, you’ll see what’s upcoming. There’s a place to sign up to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted, if you’d like to be notified. We finally got the podcast fixed. I’ve been saying for months that the podcast is broken, it’s finally fixed. So if you’d like to sign up for the audio podcast, you should be able to do that successfully, and there’s a page for that and a link under every interview. And there’s the donate button, I didn’t mention that in the beginning, but I wouldn’t be able to do this anywhere near as much as I’m doing it if people hadn’t been donating all these years. So if you really appreciate the show and feel like helping to support it, any donation, large or small, one time or ongoing, is appreciated. There are both those options there on the button. So thanks for listening or watching and we’ll see you next week. As Cheryl mentioned, Robert Rabbin is… that’s how he pronounces it, right?

Cheryl: Yes.

Rick: … is my guest for next week and now I’m going to spend the next week plunging in and learning all about Robert Rabbin because I don’t know much about him yet.

Cheryl: He’s amazing. He’s hot too, so that would be great.

Rick: You mean hot in the sense of good- looking?

Cheryl: Yes.

Rick: Oh, well, I don’t know if that will appeal to me too much. Whatever, to each his own, you know. (Laughter) Alright, well thanks Cheryl.

Cheryl: Okay, thank you Rick. I really enjoyed it.

Rick: Yeah, talk to you later.

Cheryl: Okay, bye.