Cindy Teevens Transcript

Cindy Teevens Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. As of this recording there have now been about 390 of them and if this is the first one you’ve seen you might want to go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu where you’ll find all the previous ones organized in about five different ways. Buddha at the Gas Pump is made possible by the support of appreciative viewers and listeners, so if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it there is a donate button on the site. So my guest today is Cindy Teevens. Cindy is up in Ottawa, Canada, and I’ll read a little bio that she sent me and then we’ll get into our conversation. Six years after the suicide of her father, in one moment her own intense suffering was swapped for mind-blowing joy, altering her life permanently. Happiness and peace became her predominant states. Laughter exploded at the simplicity and power of the shift and tears of gratitude flowed. Understandings began to come about how we have been living backwards, how we have mistaken the outside for the inside, and how we’ve tethered ourselves to the uncontrollable winds of change in the midst of freedom, and how we can return to truth, sanity, and peace. Cindy dropped everything she was doing to show people how to feel good no matter what, because when you shift your state, problems dissolve, villains become victims, and compassion kicks in. So much gratitude came with this revelation she began helping people awaken love and joy in their lives. Months after discovering joy, one day in the woods, she was knocked to her knees by an explosion of love that ended the imaginary separation of self and other. Speech fell away and all she could do was laugh and cry at the cosmic joke. Forty years of self baggage suddenly fell away. The thinker and speaker she thought she was was gone, yet the self remained, capital S self. Cindy is writing about that direct seeing of self in a third book she’s working on, and her two previous books are Alchemy, How to Feel Good No Matter What, and The Happiness Lie, What Generations Have Been Told That Makes You Unhappy. So welcome Cindy. Thanks Rick.

Cindy: Good to see you. Great to be here.

Rick: Yeah, when in reading your book and listening to your talks, I got the feeling that you know this wasn’t just some kind of psychological adjustment, or you know you didn’t just tweak your understanding of things, you really did undergo a pretty major experiential shift. Would you agree with that?

Cindy: Yeah, it was very profound, particularly what I call the direct seeing in the woods. The shift in state people do all the time, very common. They don’t often do it in the middle of suffering like that, but so it was dramatic, it was mind-blowing.

Rick: Sometimes it does happen, I mean I could actually make a category if I wanted to on Batgap of people who awaken apparently as a result of intense suffering. It’s not a path I would recommend, but it seems to be fairly common.

Cindy: Yeah, I wouldn’t say that that was an awakening for me, I would just say that was a shift in state that felt really good and gave me a different perspective. And yeah, we have this idea, you see Byron Katie, Eckhart, totally we have this idea you have to suffer, you know, but the direct seeing came right in the midst of joy and bliss for no reason.

Rick: Yeah, no I wouldn’t go so far as to say you have to suffer, I’m just saying that for some people that seems to be the way it goes.

Cindy: Yes, yes.

Rick: And one other thought that kept occurring to me is, you know, you’ve done your best to provide a means whereby others could undergo the sort of shift that you underwent, and you know, what do you feel like your track record has been with that? How successful, how easy it is, is it for the average person to undergo a similar shift, or do people end up feeling a little frustrated because they don’t feel like they’re getting what you got?

Cindy: No, everybody’s been able to shift. I haven’t seen somebody not shift that I’ve worked with. When they’re on their own they may have more difficulty, they get stuck in certain places, the mind can do that, but when I walk them through, everybody has a shift so far.

Rick: As radical as yours?

Cindy: This is a shift from pain to joy, and it can be very radical. As for the insight of the direct seeing, that’s a different matter, but you know the thing is with Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle, who they were in their suffering, but it wasn’t the suffering that caused it, it was actually if you study them closely, there’s something else that went on, and it involved usually either self-inquiry, you know, who am I really, or a surrendering of oneself, and that was what was involved with me as well. So whether suffering or joy preceded it, it doesn’t really matter so much.

Rick: Yeah, and I guess this is not true of Byron Katie, but somebody told me who knew something more about Eckhart Tolle’s earlier life, that he actually did a lot of seeking before he had that awakening that he wrote about in The Power of Now. He was doing, you know, looking into all kinds of things and so on, so it didn’t just totally come out of the blue, but anyway that’s sort of a side point.

Cindy: Right, yeah, makes sense to me.

Rick: Yeah, okay now you just distinguished between two different things, a sort of a shift to joy and a direct seeing. So let’s more clearly define both of those things and distinguish them from each other. It seems like the shift to joy happened first, right?

Cindy: Yes.

Rick: Okay, and so let’s get into that a little bit. Maybe in doing so, let’s go back into your background a bit. There was, you know, the suicide of your father, which of course we don’t want to dwell on too much, but just the things you went through in your life, and I know you did all sorts of practices and so on leading up to this neuro linguistic programming and things like that.

Cindy: Yeah, prior to my father’s suicide I felt a draw, I started seeking just months before and then I became a Zen student. I started practicing Zen. After he passed it really started me on a quest to find an end to suffering and I did investigate a lot of things. I wasn’t really satisfied by any of them. I found some intrigue with Zen and neuro linguistic programming I found useful to a point, but I took it even to the master level and it still wasn’t what I was seeking, you know, there was still something missing.

Rick: And I guess you just knew that intuitively because you didn’t or did you know exactly what you were seeking or was it just this annoying feeling like this isn’t it?

Cindy: Yeah, no idea what it was, I just knew this wasn’t it, there was still something. Somehow I knew there was a way to be in this world that was not dependent upon this world. Yeah.

Rick: In other words you didn’t want your fulfillment to be, you felt like it might be possible for your fulfillment to be independent of what was going on in the world.

Cindy: Yeah, in NLP we’re taught you can control your state and I found that wasn’t true even though I finished and I graduated and everything, I knew that I couldn’t control my state, you know, I wanted to be very true to myself and I thought I had to control my state and it was only later that you realize that’s not what it’s about.

Rick: Yeah, and so you would say that now for instance you’re not controlling your state, you’re just spontaneously living without having to manipulate or tinker with your state all the time.

Cindy: I no longer am attached to things, people or events which is what I call the happiness lie, the belief that things, people or events make you happy or unhappy, that’s not where joy now comes from.

Rick: There’s a book by Marcy Shymoff called Happy for No Reason, have you heard of that book?

Cindy: Yes.

Rick: It’s a good title.

Cindy: Yes, it is.

Rick: You should have thought of it.

Cindy: I’m not sure when it came, if it came before me or after me, I’m not sure on the timing there.

Rick: So do you find that, you know, I mean do you find that there’s a sort of an undercurrent or a baseline of happiness that just persists regardless of what’s happening in the outer world?

Cindy: Yeah, pretty much. I mean there might be moments of something flashing through, if I see somebody beating a dog or something and you know this has happened, there might be a moment of sort of getting on, you know, ready to do something and maybe some sort of anger, just a fleeting flashing that takes care of the moment and then it’s gone.

Rick: Yeah, which is a good point. I mean it serves a purpose. I would hope that if you saw somebody doing that, you wouldn’t just say, “Oh well, everything is the way it’s supposed to be.”

Cindy: Yes, no, you take care of the moment, yes.

Rick: Yeah, and maybe even anger or some other type of similar emotion is productive in a circumstance like that.

Cindy: Yeah, you know, when you get an adrenaline rush, it prepares you, you know, if you need to do something. Having a near accident can, you know, prepare you and give you an adrenaline rush but how are we interpreting that adrenaline rush? I had a near accident once when I got home and I came into the house and adrenaline was still there and the thought arose, “I’m scared.” No, no, no. No, this is adrenaline from the accident, it’s just left over, you know, this is not a truth and it was over but if someone had to come home with that, they may have start to believe ideas like, “I’m all alone, I’m scared, I can’t live alone anymore,” you know, becomes a story of me and I rather than a recognition of just what was and what is no longer.

Rick: Yeah, and as we know, I mean, some people hold on to things like that for years, a traumatic experience. Let’s say they get bitten by a dog when they’re a child or something and then they’re afraid of dogs all their life.

Cindy: Yes.

Rick: We could think of, you know, a hundred other examples but, you know, we tend to accumulate impressions and those impressions influence our lives for decades maybe. In fact, essentially, you said in your little bio here, “40 years of self-baggage suddenly fell away,” and I sometimes wonder about that, it’s like how thoroughly and quickly can accumulated conditioning actually be jettisoned, you know, because it seems like it has a physiological component which might be deeply seeded and which you just can’t like shuck off at a moment.

Cindy: When your identity shifts, when who you think you are shifts, then everything that came with the old identity is gone, and is there really an accumulation, is there such a thing or is there just now what you’re holding to be true now?

Rick: Well, it’s a good question. I know that neurophysiologically they have explanations for how the brain, you know, accumulates impressions and you can actually do MRIs if someone has been under tremendous stress like, I don’t know, battle, being in war, being in a prison or something like that, you can see literally functional holes in the functioning of the brain with the right kind of MRI, but also there’s the word neuroplasticity, so it’s understood that the brain can change but not necessarily overnight.

Cindy: Yes, well and it also has to do with, again, how are you interpreting it, you know. With me what happened in an instant was a shift of attention, so I had been using a lot of attention, there was a lot of energy on suffering, you know, I want this, I want this, I want this, I was doing a lot of wanting and I wasn’t getting, it was very clear, it didn’t matter how much I wanted, I wasn’t going to get, you know, and that was intense energy and intense suffering and then two things happened, I promised my dad it would not be for nothing and I refused to suffer anymore, I couldn’t take it anymore, the thought of suicide came up, but it was out of the option and I didn’t know what else to do and I just stopped and right in the middle of that stopping I heard or knew you can give yourself whatever you want, because I’ve been doing a lot of this wanting and so that begs the question, well what do I want and I didn’t really know at first and it took some time to answer this, I knew what I didn’t want. We all know very well what we don’t want and we don’t practice very often what we do want and so it can be very out of reach, but it’s still there, you have to know what you want in order to know that there’s a problem with having what you don’t want. So anyway I shifted my attention from what I didn’t want onto what I did want and one thing after another, you know, acceptance, human dignity, love, I found them all and bang bang bang all the energy that was being used to suffer, switched over into love joy peace in an instant and that was mind-blowing because mind says you can’t feel good, you know, ABCD has happened, how dare you, you can’t feel good, you must suffer and I heard that and I would go back into that and then I would wait a minute, but that felt really good and then I would shift back out again and then the mind would come up and go, yeah but blah blah blah and I would go back into the suffering. So there was this back and forth and back and I could see very clearly what was going on. I didn’t have words for it, but I could see it and I learned to sustain the love, the joy, the peace. I learned to stay out of the suffering mind.

Rick: How long did this seesaw period last?

Cindy: It was most intense the first day and then a couple of weeks it started to settle down and I was more and more stabilized and I remember clearly one day walking on the street where there was this joy bubbling up and then mind came up and said, yeah but blah blah blah, I just burst out laughing at it because I knew how powerless it was, you know, and I thought anybody who sees me must think I’m crazy. This woman walking down the street, you know, suddenly bursting out laughing at nothing.

Rick: Oh, these days people do that all the time because they’re talking on cell phones and you can’t see the phone. First time that ever happened to me, I was in the grocery store and some guy was looking at vegetables talking to himself, I kind of moved away.

Rick: So looking back at that, I still have the question, you know, do you feel like this was, to what extent do you feel like this was something you did and to what extent do you feel like it was something that kind of happened to you because you were ripe for it, maybe a bit of both?

Cindy: You ask me that now, I would say nothing. You ask me back then and I would say this is what I did.

Rick: It seems like you had some kind of like little strategy where you were, if you find yourself caught up in, you know, old habits or something, you would say, no, no, don’t need to do that. You would use a little bit of intentionality to shift back.

Cindy: Yes, well there was a learning that whenever attention went on to what I didn’t want it hurt and whenever attention went on to what I did want it felt good and what happened was I started to feel good, I got relief and I was drawn to the relief. So every time suffering started to arise, I would wait a minute, no, go, take the time, shift my state, start to feel good, I got the relief but then I stayed with it a little bit longer and I started to feel pleasurable and I went, wow, this feels really good and then I started to pursue it and it would grow, it would grow and it would grow and the mind would come in and go, yeah, but you can’t feel that good, nothing’s happened and in that instant, I would lose it. So that’s interesting, I wonder if I could sustain beyond that and ignore mind and so I started to experiment with it. So there was this idea of me experimenting and doing this and I found that it would grow and it would grow and grow till I was experiencing states of bliss, joy, ecstasy for no reason. Why did all that happen? If you look for the reasons and the causes in this world for why things happen, you can’t find one particular cause, right? I had information that I discovered accidentally, now I pass it on to others and I say, hey, check it out, look, now you have that information, will you check it out and look? Maybe. A lot of things come together, they say that nothing exists in this universe without the whole universe making it so. I can’t find a singular cause for anything.

Rick: That’s very wise. I mean, I’ve just been reading some books about physics and science and stuff like that and you know it’s understood that nothing is, there are no sort of totally closed systems that are not influenced by everything. So there’s that so-called butterfly effect, you know, where a butterfly flapping its wings in China could influence, I think it’s chaos theory, where it could influence the weather in New York or something. Everything is interrelated and you know, you could say there are reasons for everything but actually figuring them out could very easily be beyond human intellect.

Cindy: Yeah, and you know it couldn’t just be the butterfly because there are so many other things going on here. So yeah, you can’t pick out one cause, least of all the i, the i did it. No, this one doesn’t have an effect on anything. I liken that to a radio broadcaster, you know, sitting up in the glass dome above the hockey game, watching the hockey game and nattering on about the hockey game and oh and he did it because of this and he’s gonna do this, what? It has absolutely nothing to do with the game. They can say whatever they want but it has nothing to do with the game.

Rick: Yeah, the players aren’t listening to that guy.

Cindy: Right, yeah, and they’re not playing.

Rick: So there are Eastern teachings which say that the mind has a natural tendency to seek a field of greater happiness and that there’s infinite joy inherent within us, deep within, Ananda, you know, bliss. So given those two points, why do you suppose it is that everybody suffers so much? I mean, it’s like we’re, metaphorically speaking, it’s like we’re millionaires, you know, have this vast wealth and yet we’re sort of begging on the street corners, you know, to buy a cup of coffee.

Cindy: Yes, it is most amazing really and I think it’s because we do all want to be happy, it is our natural state. We get confused about where happiness comes from, what its source is and how to get it. You don’t have to get it, you actually are it but the moment you think you need to get it, you go looking for it in something and you’re agitated, you know, you’re agitated. Like say I had this nice little tape measure and you really really wanted it, right? You really, really want it. Look at that, it’s got a keychain. You really, really want this but I have it. What goes on?

Rick: With me, I think I’ll go down to Walmart, easier than coming up to Ottawa to take yours.

Cindy: Yeah, so you’re planning how am I gonna get that because you really want it and you’re agitated because, you know, she has it and I don’t and there’s a dissatisfaction and the minute that you do get it, say, here you go, you know, you have it, if we could send that to you, you stop agitating yourself and you feel so much better. This is the same relief that I got when I did that. Okay. So then we think this causes our pain and it’s really confusion, or sorry, that this causes our happiness. It’s really confusion. This is why I say the happiness lies. Things don’t make you happy or unhappy and we’ve inherited that lie, generation after generation.

Rick: Well, because it kind of seems like they do. I mean, you get into the great relationship and you’re so happy and then the great relationship goes sour and you’re so unhappy and you know, you get the job promotion and you’re so happy and then your new boss is a jerk and you’re so unhappy. So, it seems like external circumstances have a lot to do with our happiness. So, you can’t blame people for thinking they do.

Cindy: What’s missed is it’s not the circumstances or the thing or the event, it’s the thoughts about it. Oh, isn’t she great, this new relationship, right? She’s what I’ve been looking for, she’s perfect. So, you’re on to these good feeling thoughts and they’re temporary as long as they last and then reality sets in three months later after the rose-colored glasses falls off and now maybe the negative thinking comes in. I don’t know, she’s not what I thought she was, she pretended to be something else. And so, we’re not paying attention to what’s actually going on and so we miss what actually causes our pain.

Rick: But it is natural for people to want things, it’s natural for people to want relationships and a comfortable house and you know, a car and all that stuff. And so, distinguish for me the difference between a person who resides in a state of happiness regardless of whether or not they get this, that or the other thing that they want and people whose happiness sort of rollercoasters according to what they’re getting or losing.

Cindy: Yeah, rollercoaster is a great analogy and that’s what it is, right? When you’re attached to things, people or events, you’re going to be jerked up and down and all around by things and events that change because that’s what they do, everything changes. And so, the difference is you enjoy what comes and if it goes you don’t suffer, you’re not attached.

Rick: And how do you attain that detachment?

Cindy: Well, you have to start recognizing that your happiness doesn’t lie in things, people or events, that it’s here and available all the time if you’re looking toward it. And when I say that, that sounds conceptual. Your power of attention, I speak about the five powers we’re all born with and you need to be aware of where is your attention right now and then you start to realize, oh, when my attention is on something I don’t want, I feel it and it feels bad. When my attention is on something I like, I feel that. But your attention can also not narrow onto one thing or another and just stay open and you are just present and your being is naturally joyful and it doesn’t have anything to do with anything. And so, I think direct experience, a lot of people have ideas about things that sound good but everybody, I hear them saying again and again and again, I know that mentally but I want to get it in my bones or get it in my cells. So, what’s going on here? What makes it a concept is having it as a thought that somebody you’ve said that sounds good but not actually having it in your direct experience. So, connecting the dots up that way. You know, one example is people will say, yeah, everything is one, we’re all one. But this is one example of I have it mentally but you know, we’re all one until my neighbor lets his dog bark at 4 in the morning and now I’m [Makes dog barking noise] and so it has to take it from a concept and put it into your direct experience, it has to become your direct reality. And so, this idea that we’re all one is just an idea and they’ll say, well, but I don’t have, why don’t I have the direct experience, you know, of this one self? I said, well, actually you do. You never don’t have it, you’re having it experience 24/7 but it’s just not your perception. And why is it not your perception is because you have false knowledge. False knowledge it says there is a separation which you and I just explored that there is indeed separation in the universe anywhere. So you’ll have a thought that says there’s you and a me and the world and we’re all separate and that sort of supersedes and overrides reality. And so the work I do with people is really pointing to direct living truths that collide up against our beliefs and one or two has to go, one of the two. Just like with me, I either had to give up the joy and go into the suffering or keep the joy and ignore the suffering and ignore the bad thoughts and I chose the joy.

Rick: Okay, so that was a really good point you’re just making, one that I would have asked you a question about if you hadn’t made it, which is, you know, how do you go from this being a concept and it’s easy to entertain concepts to it sort of being in your bones, to use your phrase. There’s a Tibetan saying which I often quote, which is that, “Don’t mistake understanding for realization,” and I see people doing that a lot. They read enough books and listen to enough talks and they get really good with the words and many times they sort of feel like, “Okay, well I’m enlightened because we’re all enlightened, right? And I understand that and that’s all there is to it and I’m done.” So right now there’s like 110 people listening to this live and there’ll be thousands listening to it later. What can you say to the people listening to this interview that would enable them to shift more from conceptuality to actual experience? And I presume that, you know, to really go more deeply into it, they’d want to get more involved with you in an ongoing basis, but what can you give them in the context of this interview that would enable them to make that shift to some degree?

Cindy: Yes, yes, everybody can do this. What you just need to do is pay attention to your direct experience as opposed to a thought about it. For example, there’s these ideas and thoughts that there is separation, that there is a you and a me, right? So in your direct experience though, can you separate my words from your hearing? No. You cannot. I’ve not found anybody yet who can do this in their direct experience. All you could do is have a thought about it and go, “Oh no, there’s a you and there’s a me and this is all thought.” So in your actual direct experience, you cannot separate my words from your hearing. So whose words are they really?

Rick: Well I guess you’re probably asking me to say my words in a way because I’m hearing them and yet I don’t have any control over what you’re saying. You could start singing Happy Birthday right now or something and then switch to Purple Haze and I wouldn’t be able to stop you. Well I could stop you.

Cindy: So there’s that idea, there’s of you and me and I can’t stop you because there has to be the idea of you first in order for there to be the idea of me and if you throw away the idea of you as a separate being with some kind of control, just for a moment and look again, can you separate my words from your hearing? I don’t actually want you to say that they’re my words. It would be, I can’t find a you or me. I find words, I find hearing, seeing, touching, tasting.

Rick: So would one way of phrasing it be, well you know the creation rolls along and all of its diversity and glory and mystery and you know we have control over very little if any of it and you know is that the kind of thing you’re alluding to?

Cindy: That’s not to say that there is no you, okay. There’s a lot of non-dualist thought out there that says, no there isn’t anybody, I’m not here, you know you’re imagining me. It’s not that you don’t exist, right. It’s there is not a separate you and a separate me. So with the direct recognition, the direct seeing in the woods, it was I saw for the first time through this body-mind that everything is the same I, is me, and I am not limited to this body-person that I thought I was, that that is not who I am.

Rick: Would it be true to say in your experience and understanding that both are true, that there is not a separate me and there is a separate me and paradoxically both of them kind of coexist just like you know there’s only water but there’s also waves, they’re still water but they can be distinguished as waves.

Cindy: But if the wave had a thought of I’m a separate wave, I’m going to do something different and why does this always happen to me? This overlay on the wave doesn’t exist, it has no reality whatsoever. The reality of the identity of the wave is a wave and this is a direct identity, not a thought-based identity and the wave is not separate from the ocean, wave and ocean one in the same. So it works but what we keep trying to do is keep our I thought, I want to keep my separate me and this has to go, this is what has to go.

Rick: Yeah, but well let me just belabor this for me. So you know a surfer is out there on the ocean he said, “Oh here comes a really good wave, I think I’ll take this one.” So there is some distinction if we can carry the metaphor this far, there is some distinction between the waves and yet it’s all one ocean the surfer is sitting on and really the wave can’t all fundamentally be distinguished from the ocean. So you know I just heard a talk on this yesterday from a friend so that’s why I was thinking about it but it almost seems like the you know it’s kind of not totally true or helpful to totally deny one or the other of the two.

Cindy: No, the wave exists and the ocean exists, they are one in the same but what we do is we would be like a wave thinking it’s a special wave that wants to continue as a separate identity. Yeah, and that’s where the error is made.

Rick: Okay, so to get this back to having the experience in our bones, we’re getting a little conceptual here you and I, but I think we’ve clarified something. So practically speaking again, we probably already said it but say it again, how does one go through one’s day not being so utterly convinced by you know the individual dramas and you know being less attached, less kicked about by them?

Cindy: I would start more fundamentally. One of the things that I used to do was play with my direct experience, my direct senses. So one time I was sitting out on a bench with a friend and an airplane went by and I said to her, where’s the sound? And she said, in the airplane. I said, so without air is there sound? She said, no. I said, so where’s the sound? She said, it’s in the air. I said, so without the eardrum is there sound? Oh no. So where’s the sound? It’s in the eardrum. So without the airplane is there sound? And she just stopped dumbfounded you know and so did I because it’s the first time I had ever done that and it occurred to me the sound is not somewhere as separate localized and neither are any of our senses. I cannot separate a cup from my feeling. It’s hard, it’s shiny, it’s you know I cannot separate any of the senses from the sensed and this is the end of duality. Duality only exists in the mind not in reality.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: And so using the senses this way, right, it’s going to rub up against the mind and mind’s going to say yeah but and what you do is you use your direct experience to inform the mind rather than the mind informing you about reality.

Rick: So give us an example of that.

Cindy: Sounds are one, sounds are fabulous for this. Any sound that you hear, try to find where it is. Try to find where you are, where do you start, where does the sound end, this type of thing. And it’s really going to mess with your identity, with your location. So it’s going to mess with all of the ideas of me as a separate localized person and you can do the same with anything. You’re looking at, seeing, feeling, hearing, touching, tasting and you’ll notice the difference between that and a thought about that and that can help you wake up out of the dream because the dream is all thought based, what I call the movie of the mind, which is going to be thoughts, feelings, memories, can be still shots, can be moving shots, it can be smells. All of that goes on in the midst of what is actually going on and the two aren’t, they don’t match up.

Rick: So would another way of understanding this be that, I mean you take let’s say a human being and a bat and a cow, a dog and they’re all kind of looking at the same tree or something and you know we understand that actually they’re each seeing something very, very different and maybe if there’s sounds, the bat can hear certain things and the dog can hear certain things which we can’t and so on. So it’s like each mechanism, each individuality is fabricating really a completely different universe out of that very apparently same experience and so which one is true, which one is real? Is that kind of what you’re getting at?

Cindy: Well they’re all different bodies and so the experience of the body-mind is different for each, but there’s only one self. It’s like you can have gold, you can have a gold watch and you can have a gold necklace. They look different in shape and form and different name and there’s a different experience involved, but in essence they’re all gold.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: So what are we looking at? What have we put our attention on? What have we focused on? We focused on the form and we say that is a separate being. This is all thought-based, it’s not reality-based. Where is that being seen, heard, felt, sensed? Is it outside of you somewhere? So using your direct experience this way can eat up and start to dismantle the false self, the false separate self.

Rick: Is this something that you find yourself doing all day long or is it something that you kind of went through a phase of doing and then it became kind of second nature?

Cindy: I don’t have to do it if that’s what you mean. Everything to me is the one self and what is going on here is I’m seeing, hearing, touching, tasting the self.

Rick: Yeah, you mentioned when you had that experience in the woods fell to your knees, that was the predominant thing initially, it was “Whoa, everything is myself.” And of course we’ve all heard that kind of saying that we’re seeing the world in terms of the self, unity, consciousness and so on. Can you elaborate on a little bit on that? I mean obviously it’s not like you’re seeing Cindy every place, Cindy tree, Cindy rock and Cindy bird, that’s not the self you’re referring to. So you know what’s the actual living experience of that?

Cindy: Yeah, when I tell people the story when they try to retell it to me they say you saw yourself as the trees. No, everybody starts from a central me and wants to project me out there. It’s me fell away, this idea of me fell away and so what is revealed is this I that is fundamental to everybody is omnipresent. You cannot go anywhere without everywhere you go, there you are, isn’t that saying? Yeah, it is a saying. Yeah, it’s omnipresent and it is what everything is and including you and that’s the direct reality and the direct truth. What happens is we get a thought about it, so we have this idea of me, right? So when we think about oneness we want to think that I become one with something else that I get to retain the me and it somehow merges with something else but I still retain me, you know. No, one means the same, no difference, one without a second and that’s what it was. So you know I look up at the trees, yes I see them as trees, shapes of trees, leaves, whatnot, but indisputable, inarguable recognition of myself and so what had to happen is the false self had to fall away for this to be revealed, for it to be not present and I went to say it’s me, nothing came out and I looked everywhere, I looked all the same, I couldn’t speak. Who would I speak to? So what it is, is this I that everybody has, you think it’s a separate and a different and a distinct and a special I, but it’s the same I and it’s just are you identifying with what you’re not which is things and bodies and thoughts and feelings in the movie in the mind or are you recognizing the one I, the one self and after a while, you know I laughed and cried and laughed, it’s just hilarious, I don’t know why it’s hilarious, it’s just hilarious because all your life you are striving and trying and afraid of what’s out there and protecting yourself and you realize there is nobody to protect against, there’s nothing to do, there’s nowhere to go, it is the cosmic joke and yeah I laughed and cried and cried, it was like every cell in my body was being tickled simultaneously and I know you when you were a kid if you were being tickled beyond where you started to hurt after a while, right? But this didn’t hurt, I was like is this gonna hurt? Thoughtless, there was no thought at this point, no never for one minute hurt and just eventually you know exhausted and I stood up and the sun was going down and I you know and I just knew I could stay here forever but I could stay anywhere because nothing matters and then I realized though that I’m co-hosting a party that night, oh well yeah I can stay anywhere I’ll go to the party, right? So I was late, I got home and I phoned my friend and I said, I’m late.

Rick: You better not drive, call a cab.

Cindy: It was almost like that, yeah. I was trying to get the laughter under control you know and I tried to tell her in the car what happened and it was just I couldn’t speak it and these were a bunch of spiritual friends we were going to the have this party with and I guys come here, come here I got to tell you something is the most on the one hand profound thing but it was also the most normal thing and when I got a few people around I started to go yeah well I looked up and looked at them. Couldn’t say it, couldn’t say it. I mean I tried to and as one Zen master says when I try to speak it, it sounds like something out of a dog’s mouth. Yeah but in that moment of not being able to speak, it was a few moments later speech came back but it was a faint voice and it was way over there to the left and there was like well I know who I am, who the hell are you? But of course it didn’t ever answer because it’s not a who right and it speech came back clearly and you know came louder but I couldn’t ever identify with it the same way. It’s not just speech, it’s the voice in the head that we have and that we identify as us and as other people. So we tell stories about us and other people that have nothing to do with other people and that’s how you know 40 years of self baggage can fall away because it has nothing to do with you. It never did.

Rick: Did you find that this shift to seeing everything in terms of the self made you much more compassionate? Like there’s that saying by Jesus, “Whatever you do unto the least of these you do unto me.” And you know that poem by John Donne, “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee.” So there’s that kind of unity with all things. Does it make you more sensitive to the plight of all things?

Cindy: It does, not in a suffering way, in a very compassionate way and it brings you to really take care of this moment whatever it is. You know no more, “Oh gee I don’t want to take out the garbage now, it’s too cold out or something.” It’s like you find yourself just taking out the garbage and taking care of the moment because everything is you and you are everything and it’s just that is natural. Yeah, that is natural.

Rick: I just remembered a song, there was some song the words were, remember this song? “You are everything.” So again I come back to the thought, “Okay this sounds great, everyone would love to have this, how do you make it happen?” You know I just can’t come back to the practicality. I mean I want to be like Cindy, how do I do it?

Cindy: Yeah, once again you can’t do it because you have to disappear, but maybe that’s the thing you need to do, you know that may be the last thing you need to do. And what happened for me there was more to it than just an explosion of love and boom it happened you know spontaneously as if nothing came before it, of course something always does. And there was a desire to know the truth, there was a desire to know God actually and I was not spiritual in that way, I didn’t you know follow any religion or anything, but I started looking at God as the unknown, as everything other than me I guess.

Rick: Prior to the shift there was this desire you’re saying.

Cindy: Yeah, so the mystery you know of what’s going on here and I actually fell in love with love and joy itself is what happened. I discovered that when you shifted your attention from out there onto what you think you need to be happy onto here, wow, first relief then love, joy, peace and the longer you stay there the bigger it grow. And so I pursued that like a lover, I became obsessed with it actually, I fell in love with love and something weird happened at some point I was the one pursuing it, I would go out in the woods for hours on end and just indulge in this and this joy, this very real, very sense oriented love and joy and at some point it started to pursue me, the me I thought I was right, meaning it was happening out of my control when I didn’t want it to happen. I would be at a grocery store or something and see something, a woman with a child you know and it just start bawling right there, no, no, no, this can’t happen here, but when this started to happen it wasn’t, I didn’t have any choice anymore in the matter and so I just found myself seeking the woods more and more and more and more and in the moment before the explosion of love at the chest it was very visceral, very physical. I had said basically this is so good and it’s just getting better, I don’t care what I do because at that point I was struggling with business and doing what I wanted to do and I just said I don’t care what I do, do with me what you will, just complete surrender to that and then moments after that was this inquiry, well I’m seeking God now very potently, very intensively and I asked well if God is everywhere and this is what we hear, God is everywhere, turn over a stone right, if God is everywhere how come it’s not obvious right and I remembered hearing, I can’t think of his name right now, a teacher said that there is no question that is a true question, they’re all a statement of your doubt and then I so I turned on the question I said well what is obvious, well trees are obvious, rocks are obvious and it’s like we think we know what trees and rocks are, they become mundane to us but suddenly they became miraculous and I was like well everything is God, oh that includes me, I’m not separate from everything and this explosion happened that hit my chest and then my head and just knocked me to my knees bawling the intensity to love and I was experiencing a lot of love and joy and bliss before then, this was just earth-shattering.

Rick: Again it’s good you were in the woods and not the grocery store. I think there’s several key components in what you said, one is the intensity of your desire and we’ve all heard that story about the guru who holds the disciples head under the water until they’re practically drowning and then they say this is how bad they have to want it, so there’s that and you want to comment on that before I continue?

Cindy: Absolutely, I love that story. You have to be extreme to reach the supreme, you can’t sit on the fence and muck around and you’re just playing in the mind, there has to be a desire, a flame lit that will make you go beyond and beyond what? Well beyond the mind because usually we stop at the mind, mind will say no you can’t feel that good, oh okay, and it’s reaffirmed. Mind will say all kinds of things like you’re separate, so all of our doubts need to be addressed, they need to be compared against your actual direct reality and see wait a minute, what’s really going on here, what’s really the truth? Don’t just accept what mind has to say and don’t stop. Some people say well I have a job, I have family, I have to do this, doesn’t matter. It’s like when you fall in love, it whatever you’re doing, what’s on your mind? That person, right? So fall in love with love or God or whatever and whatever you’re doing, this is top of mind, don’t let it go.

Rick: Well you know Buddy Holly said it’s so easy to fall in love and I guess thinking of a lot of songs today, you had me remembering a Frank Zappa song a few minutes ago but I didn’t mention it. It can’t happen here, that was from the Mothers of Invention, but anyway, so the question here is how do you intensify that desire? You know the disciple who gets his head held under the water, the Master wants to show him how intensely he has to desire God or realization. What do you do, what does anyone do to ramp up the intensity of the desire?

Cindy: For me it was easy because I just fell in love. I just fell in love. So I’m a proponent of joy, love, but you have to take it to the extreme. I tell people this all the time but not many people take me up on it. They’re either embarrassed or whatever, they feel so good but then they put a cap on it, they won’t do it in person with other people in a group or whatever. I say fine, go home, do it in the privacy of your own home, your own neurology and just push beyond where you think you can go. As soon as you hear mine say you can’t, then you should, then you should, then you must, if you really want this. And if the fire has been lit in all truth, you don’t have a choice in it, it won’t be much longer for you.

Rick: Yeah, there’s a subtle thing here. I mean you just said if the fire has been lit. I remember Amma using the analogy of a burning log, like someone who’s really on fire is like a burning log and a log that’s not lit or that maybe is even damp or something, that log can get more dried out and begin burning itself if it gets close to the burning log. And so I’m kind of thinking here, what people can do to intensify the desire and not just sort of think, “ho hum, whatever.” With you it almost seems like you had no choice, you were just on this mission and one thing led to the next. But maybe it’s just the desire or the intention, maybe it’s just it really has to, maybe it’s a matter, see if you agree with this, maybe it’s just a matter of where you put your attention. I mean if you really want this, you’re going to just put your attention in this area more and more and more and more and one thing will lead to the next. You don’t just get to the top of a mountain in one step, but each step takes you closer.

Cindy: Yes, yes, I can absolutely agree with that, yeah. And I encourage people to fall in love with love itself, not a thing or a person, and understand that even if there is a person in front of you and you are feeling love, recognize the source of that love, it’s not out there. Where is it really to check to do this, you know, a reality check, I call it, of what is actually going on and you’ll notice a good feeling thought, ah yes, but that doesn’t diminish the love, that actually should release the love. When you realize that the love is not attached to somebody, it’s no longer limited to them what their actions are or who they are, it becomes unlimited and so if you get a taste of this unlimited love that goes beyond the mind, you could become addicted to it like I did and that could be adding fire to the flame or adding gas to the flame, you know. So that’s some way. Another way is having a direct realization of some sort that goes against the mind. You’re like, you know, mind will say that can’t be, but it is, right. This is one of your powers to talk about the fifth power of authority. You’re the authority, nobody else is and so that’s what happened to me. I was in this pain, then I was in this joy and mind said you can’t be happy and I went, I already am, thank you very much and I prefer it, so I stay here with it. And so what happens is we have put our power of authority into untruths and so we experience those as if they’re real and what needs to happen is you need to start to have things rub up against that where you realize, oh look at that I was happy even though in this case normally I wouldn’t be, but look I am, so it has nothing to do with that and you start to disentangle yourself from the happiness lie. This is what needs to happen, find the joy within. Suffering will not do it. There were times I went out in the woods angry at God. Show yourself if you’re real how can you blah blah blah, of course that’s all mind stuff right and it’s going to go nowhere, but it seems we do have to do that to a point till we give up on it. We do need to do the intensive inquiry until we give up on that and use as Mooji says a different power. I heard him say that way, I have a different power. Of course you do other than the mind. Yeah, you are alive you know not just between the ears. You have the whole universe, what is the Rumi quote? You have the whole universe, I say you have the whole universe, why do you play in your little 3d sandbox?

Rick: Oh right, yeah that’s something like that.

Cindy: Called mind is the way I put it, right. So oh I have the whole universe, what does that mean? And so go experiment. I encourage experimenting, direct experience.

Rick: And one little summary point that comes to mind for this part of the conversation is you know that to which you give your attention grows stronger in your life.

Cindy: Yes, yes it’s like a magnifying glass. Everything gets bigger, louder, brighter, it appears real and that’s why we can suffer so severely too. You get wrapped up into that and it looks big and it looks like that’s all there is and that’s all there ever can be and it is not the truth, you know it is just not the reality.

Rick: What are these five powers that you refer to? Would it be useful to talk about those?

Cindy: If I can demonstrate the two-minute technique to inner peace. Sure. Because that would be a great way to do it.

Rick: Okay.

Cindy: Okay, good. So the first power is your power of awareness and there’s nothing you need to do for that, it’s completely free. Right? How easy is it to hear what you hear?

Rick: Automatic.

Cindy: Doesn’t take any effort whatsoever, right?

Rick: Right.

Cindy: Doesn’t take an I doing it, right?

Rick: Can’t help but hear.

Cindy: Can’t help but hear. Alright, so that’s your power of awareness. The second one is your power of attention and I can demonstrate it by asking you, are you feeling your left foot right now?

Rick: Now I am. You mentioned it.

Cindy: So what happened? Had your foot stopped feeling?

Rick: My attention had been focused on you and so I wasn’t paying very close attention to my foot.

Cindy: Yes, your attention is elsewhere either on me or your thoughts about what I’m saying, right? Yes. So can you sense into the top of your head? Yes. What about your right shoulder? Yep, there it is. Had it too? Okay, what happened to your foot?

Rick: I don’t have a foot anymore. Hadn’t been paying attention to it, I was shifting around.

Cindy: Yes, so attention. So when you go from your feet to your head, can you do that like back and forth?

Rick: Mm-hmm.

Cindy: Feels like a movement, right?

Rick: Yeah, you can even do both at once if you want to.

Cindy: That would require an opening. So your attention can contract and it can open, right? So when you go from your foot, you go to your feet, you contract, you open up and you contract on your head open. So this is what is the movement appears like a movement, right? So yeah, and you can direct it and you can narrow it. This is how we can have selective hearing because if you can eliminate or appear to eliminate a foot, how much more can you eliminate things that other people are saying, right? I was actually in a was up there with a megaphone. He was like, you know, going away talking really fast and I got an idea and I’m like, okay, I gotta write down this idea and I turned the sound up on my idea and down on his voice and I got my idea written down and then he came back in and I missed what he said. Oh, and then I had to ask somebody else, what did he say? So even though he’s got this, you know, microphone, we can actually do that with our attention. So this is how we become blind, deaf and ignorant when you get in a blind rage. You can not see the person behind you that you cut off. So you’ve narrowed your power of attention on to one thing to the exclusion of practically everything else but it can also open. Now when your attention is, you’re not taking conscious control of it, it goes on autopilot much like your breathing. Are you breathing?

Rick: Mm-hmm.

Cindy: Now that I mention it. I see it’s a good thing our breathing doesn’t require our conscious breathing. It all fall over. So it goes on autopilot and so does your power of attention, right? Next shiny object, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding.

Rick: It seems like there’s a value to this though. I mean if let’s say you’re a neurosurgeon and you’re operating, you’re being very careful, you don’t necessarily want to be aware of your foot or you know the ticking of the clock on the wall or something like that. You need to focus on what you need to focus on. But I think what you’re getting at is that if focus precludes comprehensive awareness, if you lose the forest for the trees, then you know, and because routine work does demand, or even any focused work does demand our focused attention, but you know then we lose the comprehensive awareness. So the ideal would be to be able to have both simultaneously, which wouldn’t mean that you’re necessarily aware of every little possible sensory input all the time, but there’s the underlying awareness which is unbounded, that could be there along with focusing on a particular thing. Am I right? Is that what you’re getting at?

Cindy: Yeah, yeah, pretty close. The thing is if you focus too narrowly, you may miss something like that sponge in the patient’s belly. So it is possible to stay open and aware and hear everything, but focus on no particular thing.

Rick: You do have to focus like you’re stitching them up, you need to focus on how you’re doing the stitching, you know, you don’t need to be aware of, you know, some helicopter flying over outside or something, you need to focus on what the task is.

Cindy: Certain things you’ll decide are important and are not, and that’s generally what happens, but what we tend to do is decide this one thing is important, what you said is important and nothing else matters, and we’re not actually hearing what you said, we’re hearing what we thought you said, and we’re not consciously aware of that, but coming back to it is you can be aware of everything and it doesn’t impede anything, it doesn’t impede you doing what you’re doing, there is nothing that blocks you, nothing can block awareness.

Rick: So right now are you aware of that plant behind you?

Cindy: Yes.

Rick: Now you are.

Cindy: But it’s in front of me.

Rick: I’m seeing one behind you.

Cindy: Yeah, I’m feeling my feet and taking in the peripheral, we haven’t finished the technique yet.

Rick: Okay, we’ll let you keep going through the exercise.

Cindy: So your attention will go on unconscious autopilot and cause all kinds of grief if you’re not aware that this is what’s going on, but you can open your attention as you already knew, if you can sense into your feet and the top of your head at the same time, take in your peripheral vision at the same time, and notice your breath moving in and out, all at the same time, and do that for a few in and out breaths. [Silence] And what’s that like?

Rick: It’s like your awareness softens and expands.

Cindy: So attention is softened and expanded and opening. Is it quiet?

Rick: Yes, more quiet.

Cindy: Yeah, but you hear things, right?

Rick: Mm-hmm.

Cindy: So how’s it quiet?

Rick: It seems like it’s a more settled state.

Cindy: What’s absent?

Rick: I don’t know, is this a trick question?

Cindy: You can check it again to see.

Rick: Absent I would say is, well, more settled by definition means less agitated, more coherent, less incoherent.

Cindy: Less agitated?

Rick: Yeah, less agitated.

Cindy: What would you normally be agitated with?

Rick: Well, I think mind itself is a sort of a stirred up state of awareness, it’s an agitated state to whatever degree.

Cindy: Yeah, the movement of mind. So thoughts, are thoughts absent?

Rick: Pardon? Yeah, thoughts become absent. In fact, the second verse of the Yoga Sutras says that the yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Yeah.

Cindy: Yoga is bringing together

Rick: Union

Cindy: Union, and when you open your attention to everything simultaneously, nothing is separated anymore, but mostly you’re not putting your power of attention into the mind, into the movie in the mind, into the stream of thinking, is that’s really its powerfull and that agitates it. And so people say it’s quiet. You can hear everything, but it’s quiet. I did this in a room at a Zoomer show with, you know, 70 and 80 year old people with a band in every corner and noise everywhere and they went, it’s quiet. Yes, the noise isn’t the outer noise, it’s the inner noise. Yeah, so I call that coming to your senses, and I call it also the two-minute technique to inner peace, but it’s actually about two seconds, you know, but if I told people that nobody would believe me.

Rick: So is this something you would advocate doing all day long whenever you think of it?

Cindy: Sure, yeah, doing dishes, brushing your teeth at first, these are good examples of when you can come to your senses. And what you can learn to do is you step out of the movie in the mind, the illusion, the dream, and you become very aware of all the senses. Some people will use the word grounding, it’s very grounding.

Rick: Yeah, grounding is a good word. What I experience, see what you think about this, is just that naturally, habitually, not always, but there’s a tendency for the awareness to sort of be settled to the optimum degree under the circumstances. So if I’m driving, for instance, yeah, I can drive long distances without getting tired because there’s not a lot of excess agitation or anything, but I’m fully paying attention to what’s going on, but there’s sort of no extra agitation like, oh my god, oh what’s he doing, you know, you can keep yourself in a frenzy, and that’s not productive.

Cindy: No, yeah, and what you’re describing to me it sounds like that’s what people do when they meditate on a thing. Meditate on a candle, which means you eliminate everything else, right, or supposed to try to. When you’re driving, you are paying attention to the driving, hopefully, but how many times have you ever driven across the city, got to the other side, and not remember the trip?

Rick: Yeah, that happens, not so much anymore, but yeah, because you’re off in your thoughts, you’ve distracted your, yeah.

Cindy: Yeah, you’re in, you know, you’re thinking about what happened a minute ago before you left, or what’s going to happen when you get there, or something, right, so the movie in the mind is running, you might even miss your exit, and this is a universal experience. Almost every driver I know has put their hand up. I think every driver I know has said, yeah, me, I’ve done that. It’s even, some people have gone through red lights because of that.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: And so, yeah, it’s a form of meditation. I think it’s probably a very useful one because you’re not particularly focusing on any one thing, in which case mind can come in and play some games. You are aware of everything simultaneously. Nothing is lost, nothing is omitted. Thoughts may come and go.

Rick: Sure.

Cindy: They may come and go, but you’re not engaging them.

Rick: Not obsessing on them.

Cindy: Yeah.

Rick: So, in an important phase of your life, you dedicated exclusive time to this process, you know, spending a lot of time in the woods and stuff like that, and what you’ve been referring to in the last few minutes is something you might do while you’re driving or washing the dishes or whatever. In addition to that sort of thing, do you advocate some sort of exclusive time, like such as a quiet meditation period or retreats or anything else to just really go as deeply as possible?

Cindy: Yeah, I used to and I still do sit, but I don’t do it for the purpose of going as deeply as possible. I just enjoy it.

Rick: But not only for your own sake, but I’m talking about people that might be listening to this and, you know, what would you advocate as a daily routine for them?

Cindy: Absolutely. Yeah, sure, definitely. Meditate, when I say meditate, I don’t mean some kind of concentrated, you know, guided or concentrated or with music or something like that, the sort of the Western idea of what meditation is. Sort of Eastern meditation is you sit still, you know, on a blank wall doing nothing straight and tall, and I would suggest people look up how to sit because there is a certain form that helps you not fall asleep and whatnot, and follow that. Yeah, once a day I would definitely suggest that, but don’t let it stop there. People usually think, well, I did my meditation and then they go about their usual mind, you know, during the day. What the idea is what you learn when you’re sitting, you carry into your daily life. So every chance you get, feel the feet, feel the breath, take in the peripheral vision, notice, you know, all of the tactile senses, and you really start to learn the difference between being lost in the movie, the dream, the illusion, and what is actually going on here. When people do self-inquiry, they ask, who am I? First it starts on the level of mind of movie, and if you ask yourself who you are, you go to your mind, oh well, I’m Cindy, I’m a sister, daughter, I’m a, you know, this is what I do. That’s the answer you’re going to get, and it seems that we have to burn through those until we give up on those. So answering it from the mind will never be productive, except that you might learn one day, oh, it’s not there, the answer is not there, I’m not going to find it there, I am not a thought about me, and you come to this stillness and you do inquiry from here.

Rick: Yeah, I think when Ramana advocated self-inquiry, he wasn’t encouraging people to engage in a new form of mental chit-chat, you know, or who am I, all kinds of mental agitation, he was advocating a much quieter, settling in to, you know, a much more experiential.

Cindy: Yes, contemplative, experiential, introverted, and actually I love Ramana’s writings, all of them, I read them for fun, it’s just because I love it, and you know, the direct seeing wasn’t the end of it, it wasn’t quite over yet, it was another week, there was still some questions and things that were stirring, the mind came back, right, and I did self-inquiry very intensively in the woods again, and there was a moment where mind just folded in on itself, just self-destructed, and that was the end of the questioning. So it seems like once you know the truth and you allow it to inform the mind, instead of the mind informing you about the truth, which it can never do, then it’s inevitable it’ll be over very shortly after that. This is why I’m a real proponent of looking at what’s actually going on, getting very specific, you know, bringing this thing down to the ground, and that’s why some people say that this is down to earth yet spiritual. All the same thing to me.

Rick: So yeah, so you know, a plane lands and they keep running the jets for a little while and before they totally shut them off, so you had this direct seeing in the woods and then you had a week of still working through things, and so you said the mind turned in on itself and then it was over. Can you elaborate just a little bit more on that?

Cindy: Yeah, so I was doing self-inquiry and the answers were coming from the mind, “Who am I? Cindy, who am I?”

Rick: This was after the direct seeing you were doing that?

Cindy: After the direct seeing, yeah, and I had already done this before, okay, but I was still doing this after the direct seeing.

Rick: But those answers must not have been very satisfactory because you knew that you’re something much deeper than that.

Cindy: Yes, and that contrast allowed this to happen I think, and initially the answers would come from the mind and I’d look at each one and go, “Nope, nope,” right? So everything that I said that I was in a positive way, then I started to look at it, “Well, I’m not this and I’m not that,” and threw all those out too, and then came a point where these are all thoughts, and as very similar I guess to Eckhart Tolle, “Am I a thought?” Yeah, and it was like, and I can’t describe it any more than that, but it was that moment of, and it was over. The questions, the seeking, you know, I had been trying to find out what was that thing that happened, who, has anybody else had anything like that, and I couldn’t find anybody, but that all fell away after that final. So the direct seeing is you see, you know, the truth of the one self, which you are, and then this is you see what you’re not.

Rick: Yeah, you were kind of like sifting through a basket of old clothes or something and tossing them out, not this, not that.

Cindy: Yeah, exactly, and everybody has that capacity. I do this work with people and everybody can do that. You just have to do it. You have to do it intensively and see what you’re left with, you know.

Rick: And so that was like what, five years ago or something?

Cindy: Yeah, that was in 2010, six years ago.

Rick: Okay, six, seven years ago. And so how, after that, after that final thing, a week after the direct seeing, how did your life roll after that? I mean, what was your momentary day-to-day experience like getting up in the morning, cooking breakfast? I mean, just what was your orientation?

Cindy: Experience was very strange for three months, direct experience. I was taking buses at the time and it was just, I can’t even, I don’t even have words for what that experience was like, but it was, yeah, I’m speechless on that. Direct experience, I just want to say was very wonky for three months. I think things were like, you know, settling in, integrating and settling in and rewriting everything, you know, because everything is, that’s the best way to describe when mind collapsed in on itself, it was rewritten. We could, we could sort of look at it like a virus that says, you are a separate person, it’s running, and then it gets rewritten. Oh, you know, the virus itself is rewritten, you are nothing, this is not who you are, this thing. And so for three months there was this weirdness, but it was joyful weirdness of experience, and it was like, what am I going to do now? You know, I can do anything. I had written a book and I was helping people shift state, but I thought, well, what really matters right now? And I thought, I’ll get a dog, because I like dogs, and I’ll go rescue people out of falling buildings, you know, but I had a herniated disc at the time, so I wasn’t much good for that. And everyday life was just normal, but very joyful. It didn’t matter what I was doing, I’m smiling, and that’s still the way it is now, that hasn’t changed. And then after three months, I said, well, I’m pretty good with people, you know, I looked at the book that I had written, I have to rewrite it, I have to clean it up out of concepts and meanness. And I did a fair bit, but I didn’t entirely, because I thought, why not leave that for some people who relate to it, but put an asterisk in and say, this is how, what was believed then, as I thought I was something I wasn’t, and this is actually, you know, the truth. So I rewrote it, and I kept moving forward, just doing the shifts from pain and suffering to joy and happiness. And I was happy to leave it that way, because I couldn’t speak this anyway, I thought. And what happened over time was when I was working with people, things started to come out, and then questions started to come, and more and more I spoke about it. It’s only been about a year and a half now that I really overtly speak about it. And it just happened on its own. It wasn’t like, I’m awake and I have to go and

Rick: Save the world.

Cindy: No, it was very clear that the world was fine.

Rick: So it sounds like, and this happens to everybody, a period of acclimation, is that the word, acclimatization, getting used to it, whatever that word is, yeah, and integrating and embodying, and I mean those kinds of words are very much in vogue these days, because pretty much everybody finds they have some kind of profound awakening and they ain’t done. They have to learn to live it.

Cindy: Yeah, and the whole questioning of what was it and all of that didn’t matter, just fell away. But accidentally I came across somebody who had, from the description of it, the exact same thing, and that was kind of, oh, interesting, but didn’t really matter, and that was Adyashanti.

Rick: Sure.

Cindy: Yeah, and so that was like, yeah, okay, everything is like that now.

Rick: He expresses things very well.

Cindy: Yes, yes, I enjoy him too. There’s a few speakers and writers, some living, some dead, that I enjoy, but not many. That was the other thing that happened. I lost total interest in the spiritual thing. I had all these spiritual friends who were seeking and doing this and doing that, and I was just like, not interested. There’s nothing to do, everything’s okay, and I know that that, to them, because it wouldn’t have really helped me either. So

Rick: If that doesn’t happen to me, I’ll be out of a job.

Cindy: Well, maybe not. I wasn’t out of a job. It just may come up in a different form, and you carry on, right? So, don’t let that get in your way.

Rick: No, i wont. So, what happened after three months? I mean, was it just that after three months there had been enough adjustment, and that it was just another sort of settling down phase that you finished off, and the whole thing became more normal?

Cindy: Yeah, it does, basically. It just sort of like faded. I never sought that experience again. I never wanted it again. What for?

Rick: Which experience?

Cindy: Sorry, the bliss, the joy, the laughter of the direct seeing, you know.

Rick: It didn’t continue?

Cindy: Oh, laughter and joy continues, but.

Rick: The giddiness of the initial transition didn’t continue.

Cindy: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t even know what to call it. Giddiness is a good word.

Rick: Yeah. You’re able to keep it together in grocery stores.

Cindy: Yes, I’m able to do that now, although sometimes so, sometimes some tears and things do come up, but there was a movie that I saw that triggered it later on. It was very powerful, and my friends were all disturbed, and that was just one more reason to not indulge in it, although I don’t have any say in that. It’s three months of this wonkiness, and then prior to that, there was one other thing that I would think is important to touch on, and that is, I heard Mooji say this a lot, you know, people will say, “I had this experience,” and then, right? And then. So, they end up putting it into the past, mind grabs it and takes it, and he goes arisen again, and it gets added unto me, all of this goes on instead of the me falling away, and that almost happened, but I knew enough from the teachers I’d studied, and there was a video that I watched of Mooji that particular week, where he said, “Yeah, there’s the experience, but what about the context?” You know, and to me that meant, “What about the truth? Is the truth the truth? Is it still true that there is the one self?” Yes, of course, and so it never happened, I didn’t so-called lose it. You don’t lose it, you just trade it for something else.

Rick: I mean, even now, as you walk around, or right now, as you’re looking at me on your computer monitor, do you still see everything in terms of the self?

Cindy: Yeah, I can’t separate your words from my hearing. I mean, as you walk down the street, and you look at people, and dogs, and trees, and cars, is it all the self? It’s I’m seeing myself.

Cindy: Yeah, absolutely, absolutely, yeah. That could have been compromised at some point, before the mind self-destructed, and before this confirmation of the truth settled in, and that was in the first week.

Rick: Yeah, a lot of times people do have intermittent tastes of various things like this, and then eventually they become abiding, you know, they become stable.

Cindy: Yeah, abiding is an interesting word, and I think it has a lot to do with recognizing the truth, you know, your power of authority, and saying, “No, this is the way it is. Mind may be trying to say something else, but no, this is the truth.” Upholding the truth, you know.

Rick: Yeah, one thing that I often am curious about, and you know, in talking with Adyashanti and others, they all seem to say, you know, even though there have been profound shifts, and it hasn’t just been a flash in the pan, but it’s been abiding after that, and they get used to it, it becomes second nature, but there’s still a sort of an ongoing evolution that seems to take place, and sometimes it can be described, like if you look at the kind of things Adyashanti is saying now, and the kind of courses he’s teaching, and all they have a different flavor than they had five or ten years ago. So do you find that in your own experience over the last five years, for instance, there’s just been a continuous evolution in some sense, and if so, how or what?

Cindy: Not in any evolution of me, of an I who’s changing or anything.

Rick: Right, in terms of the expression.

Cindy: Yeah, and that’s happening because of the people I work with. You know, I’ve worked with people who were extremely suicidal, and they teach me how to, in looking at them and what’s going on for them and comparing it to me, this is what I would do, how can that, what goes wrong here, what is happening here? And so they’re teaching me these very tangible ways to point to the truth, to free them from the little dirty sandbox of the mind. And so what I say evolves because of that, you know, right now we’re doing a lot of talking about the movie in the mind versus reality, and what do you see here touch taste as opposed to what’s playing up here. So you get a real in your cells or in your bones understanding of the difference between the two.

Rick: Yeah, a lot of teachers in the past have said that if it weren’t for the people I interact with I wouldn’t be saying much of anything, but you know, according to what comes to me then I come out with something.

Cindy: Yes, exactly. Nothing I say is brilliant, it’s they say something and then it comes from there, you know, it’s really amazing actually.

Cindy: Yeah, do you also feel that there’s an analogy that a teacher is like a reservoir and according to what kind of pipe you put up to it that’s how much is drawn, like if you put a drinking straw not very much but if you put a big pipe then a lot comes gushing through. Do you find that with certain people they evoke a lot more from you than other people?

Cindy: Yes, definitely. You can listen to different conversations of me with people, there’s some more going up and certain people will only play in a certain area of the sandbox and that’s where the conversation stays, but every now and again I try to pull them out of it, I’ll offer something else to see if they’re willing to step a little further, you know, expand a little further and sometimes they do and so definite difference between the quality of the questions and that’s really what makes a difference for people, you know. I was talking to somebody the other day and I was talking about the powers that we have, the five powers and which we didn’t finish by the way. We’ll get back to those. Yeah, and I’m talking about your power of attention and this next power and he goes, where am I in all this? Yeah, that’s the important question. I can talk about all this and it’s great but that’s the ultimate question and my answer was where are you not?

Rick: Alright, well thanks for the reminder. Let’s get back to the five powers. Where did we leave off with that?

Cindy: Alright, so we’ve done so far two, we’ve done power of awareness and power of attention and a lot of people confuse their power of attention for awareness. They’ll say awareness expanded. Now awareness is absolute, it doesn’t change, doesn’t move but our attention we move within awareness and then you have the power of interest. You weren’t interested in your foot till I asked you about it and then oh yes I have a foot and so what you’re most interested in is what you get and that’s how the practice I call alchemy works. It’s a shift of attention. It’s from what you don’t want onto what you do want. This is of course all mental but when you get a shift from a bad feeling to the opposite good feeling you open up to what is, you’re not so contracted anymore and you have access to wisdom that you don’t normally have and information that you don’t normally have because you’ve opened attention and so we use the power of interest and then the

Rick: So you’re saying that in that good feelings are a lot intrinsically a lot more interesting than bad feelings and is that what you’re saying and that you know I don’t know, we use the power of interest by intentionally putting our attention on the more valuable useful and enjoyable things.

Cindy: We can be confused where we think, this is because of happiness and I, we think we have to put our attention on making somebody act differently because then we’ll be okay and we’ll be happy. So we’re interested in the wrong thing here.

Rick: If only the boss were a different person I would be happy.

Cindy: That’s right and so you try and do whatever you do, maybe you don’t try anything with the boss and maybe you just complain about the boss and your interest is always on complaining, always on what’s wrong and then in this work you shift onto what you do want, what do you want, you want your boss to be you know kind or whatever and you stay with that and if you stay with that long enough you will find ways that your boss is kind actually because nobody is a thought, nobody is limited to a thought except you are limiting yourself to a thought and you can track your power of attention due to being interested in the idea that your boss is mean, whatever. And so there’s your power of attention and then there’s your power of interest and your power of authority and this is the one that really trips people up.

Rick: So far we have awareness, attention, interest and now the fourth one is authority.

Cindy: No, so we have awareness, attention, interest, I missed one, thank you, and the fourth one is discernment.

Rick: Discernment, there we go.

Cindy: Authority is the final which makes total sense. So yeah discernment and discernment is you have the power of discernment over many things like you can discern the movie in the mind from the direct reality. So for example if I said to you your stove is hot, do you know that your stove is hot actually?

Rick: Well it’s in the other room I’d have to go in and see and I’d see by getting close enough to it to determine that.

Cindy: Yes, so you need a direct experience, you would see or feel or if somebody said I’d throw water on it and maybe if it’s hot enough that would be an indicator, right? So we have to have a tangible experience to know, right? So what you’ve been given is second-hand knowledge, like and I give other people second-hand knowledge when I say there is only the self. Okay, now you’ve got second-hand knowledge but now it has to become first-hand knowledge and so more knowledge isn’t gonna help that, you have to have a direct experience. So discernment of the movie in the mind versus what’s actually happening, discernment of a thought as a thought itself, not as what is, not as reality, discernment of yourself as not a thought, as not the movie in the mind, discernment of others as not the movie in the mind, not a thought. So we discern a lot of things or we don’t and if we don’t discern we get lost in the movie in the mind, we think it’s real, you know, it’s sort of like sitting in a movie theater and you know you get right into it and you forget you’re in the movie theater and you get in until you get scared enough and then oh oh it’s not happening, it’s not happening, it’s just a movie theater, it’s not happening and that’s what we do. We have so much pain, this is why sometimes pain is your friend, it’s trying to wake you up out of the dream, out of the nightmare. So you have enough pain that you just you can have this recognition and discernment, it’s not happening, it’s not real. Eckhart Tolle’s was, are there two of me? And then there’s a reality check, no, it’s only one. So one is false. So that’s your power of discernment.

Rick: That’s good. I think that it goes subtler and subtler, you know, they’re more and more refined, discriminating, I guess discriminating is another word for discernment, more and more finer and finer levels of discernment that one can fathom. Yeah and one example is a recent one where a client said, I got an email from my mom, she’s suffering and in crisis and we are having a conversation on Skype, her mom is nowhere in the room and one of my questions, I have many angles I could go at this is, but you know, one of them is, do you know that for certain now that in this moment your mother is suffering and is in crisis? Well, no, I guess I can’t in this, you know, I got that email earlier this morning. So that’s on a sort of a superficial level.

Rick: That’s not to say she isn’t though, she might be still.

Cindy: But that would be imagination.

Rick: Right.

Cindy: In your direct experience, conjecture, in your direct experience, it’s not happening, okay. But we can suffer if we believe that to be a reality, we suffer here and now and many people have had the experience of where they’ve suffered for an hour or something and then they found out the person was gone off partying with friends and here were left suffering, how dare they. But I take it a level deeper as you say and the level is, this is a dream, not because you don’t know whether or not your mother’s actually suffering, but are you feeling your feet? Are you aware of your breath? When you compare the movie in the mind to what is now, does it have anything to do with what is now? Even the thought, well no I can’t possibly know my mother is also the movie in the mind. So what should happen when you come out of the movie in the mind is it’s over, you stop completely. You don’t engage more thought about it, it’s just over.

Rick: I guess one objection that people might raise here is well, would this make you oblivious to things? For instance, you say you love dogs. Now there are a lot of horrible situations with dogs where they’re in puppy mills or they’re being mistreated in various ways and there are people who take action to correct those situations. You don’t want to have a sort of an out of mind, out of sight kind of attitude where well I’m not aware of it so I’m oblivious to it. I mean or am I off on some wrong tangent here?

Cindy: No, I can talk about this in two ways and one is you say there are dogs that are being abused and right here right now there are not.

Rick: No, not for you and I at the moment but when we finish this call if it’s our calling we might want to go out and you know do something to change the situation.

Cindy: If there were dogs suffering here, I don’t think you and I would be having this conversation.

Rick: No, we’d stop and take care of the dogs.

Cindy: Take care of the dogs, exactly and so I have people come to me, sit on my couch and go on about the world is in a horrific state and the world, the actual world right here right now is not in a horrific state, okay. So the people who do this, who suffer in a dream, they’re dreaming, they aren’t doing themselves any good and they’re not doing the world any good.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: So if you really want to be of use, don’t sit and suffer in the dream, go do something and then you won’t be suffering because you’ll be doing. So the suffering is completely irrelevant and not helpful and it’s just the habit of going into the suffering is really the bigger picture I want to point out here is you know you may say well this is important, we’re going to suffer about this, this is important. Then you’re just perpetuating the dream. Yeah. You’re not waking up.

Rick: If you can’t swim, don’t get a job as a lifeguard.

Cindy: I love the way you put that.

Rick: I mean you look at somebody like Mother Teresa, she was in the midst of the worst suffering in Calcutta you know, but when you see pictures of her face, doesn’t look like she was suffering, you know, she was just full of love and bliss and compassion dealing with helping these people.

Cindy: Yes, I totally get that and that is the point. Your suffering doesn’t help anybody. I say the best way to help somebody who’s suffering is to end your own.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: You know about them, otherwise you’re no good. The blind can’t lead the blind, right? I remember when I was in suffering and pain prior to discovering the joy, someone turned to me in the car after they heard what happened and said, “Oh, that must feel so bad.” I just went, “Thank you very much. Thank you, just affirm my suffering.” You know, and this is something that it would be good for us to learn not to do. There is a way to support people without affirming their suffering and engaging in it and supporting them in it because that really doesn’t do them any favor.

Rick: Yeah, there’s that word commiserate, you sort of share in their misery, but again, lifeguard analogy, you know, co-drowning. You don’t want to be in the same pickle that the person you’re trying to help is in.

Cindy: Exactly, exactly, and that has helped me in working with others because I cannot go into their box. I know when I first started after I finished NLP before I had the love and the joy and everything, and if someone came to me that I had the exact same problem, I’d be in trouble. Oh no, I’m in the same box you are. Uh-oh, what are we going to do here? You know, either I can’t help you go home or I have to learn to step out. So it was good for me to learn to step out.

Rick: So let’s see, what’s number five?

Cindy: Authority.

Rick: Authority, right.

Cindy: Yeah, it came up early because it’s so important, you know, and these operate simultaneously and so authority is something you can’t abdicate. Some people will say, “He hurt me.” Well, you’re saying it. Anybody else saying it? There’s nobody else saying it. What happens if you don’t say it? And this sounds very Byron Katie-like, right? This is your power of authority and action. Whatever you say is true will appear to be true, whether it’s true or not. So if mind comes up and offers, and mind is a reflex organ, its job is to give you possibilities, ideas, whatnot, to creative function. Nothing wrong with mind, but if it comes up and says, “Oh no, you have to hurt because this happened.” If you go, “Yes, that’s true,” you give it your stamp of approval, you’re going to hurt. You’re going to believe it. You’re going to perpetuate it. You don’t have to. You can notice the thought and dismiss it. That’s using your power of discernment and your power of interest. “I’m not interested in this. That’s just a thought.” And you come back to your senses, where it’s safe, peaceful, quiet.

Rick: Yeah, a common example is you hear people say things like, “Well, he makes me mad.” You know, it’s like you’ve advocated your power of authority there. What power does he have to make you mad?

Cindy: You’ve tried to, but you can’t. You’re the one saying it. This is what’s missed, right? This is what’s missed. You really think he’s doing it, but you’re the one saying he’s doing it. You’re the boss. Yeah, he has no power, and we’re trying to grow up out of this. You hear some people sometimes saying things like, “Well, you can’t hurt me unless I let you.” Right? “Unless I let you.” So what is this letting you’re doing? And if you’re doing it consciously, why would you do it at all? Who wants to hurt?

Rick: Yeah

Cindy: You know, this is like, “I still want to hold on to this idea that somebody is hurting me.”

Rick: Unless you’re a masochist.

Cindy: This is an example of, “Well, I still really want to hold on to this idea that somebody is hurting me.” This props up the false I, right? There’s someone else other than me hurting me, and I still want to hold on to that. But I’ll concede that I have some more power in this. You have all the power. Nobody can hurt you. Nobody can make you feel bad or good, actually.

Rick: There’s one point in Byron Cady’s book where people tend to throw the book at the wall, which is that some woman talks about how her father sexually abused her or something, and Byron Cady tries to turn it around and say, “Well, I abused him.” Or she kind of puts the the responsibility on a nine-year-old girl who was nine at that time. So, I mean, what do you say to that kind of extreme example? Is there some kind of line beyond which we aren’t responsible due to our our youth or some other factor over which we do have no control?

Cindy: Yeah, I read that book way back then, too, and I think I threw the book at the wall at that point, too, because there’s been some abuse in my past as well. And yeah, I had great difficulty with that, but I also had great difficulty with Arjuna and how he had to kill his relatives.

Rick: Right.

Cindy: And yeah, that story. Until you get the message, you will fight with that, right? The message there is to be not attached to the fruit of the outcome.

Rick: Yeah, there’s a great verse there from the Gita. It’s, “You have control over action alone, never over its fruits.”

Cindy: Exactly, and therefore you’re not responsible.

Rick: You do the best you can with the action, but then you have to sort of surrender the outcome.

Cindy: Yes, you surrender the outcome.

Rick: But that doesn’t address the nine-year-old girl who was abused by her parents, her father.

Cindy: I’m coming back to that. I think what Byron Katie is mostly trying to point at is right now, because that happened when you were nine, you’re now say 29. So, for 20 years, you’ve been raping yourself over this. And that is a very good way you can get it.

Rick: Yeah, that helps to resolve it.

Cindy: Helps to resolve it, yeah. And when you see that that’s what you’ve been doing with your power of interest, your power of attention, your power of not discerning and engaging in the movie over and over and over, I know this one very well. When my father died by suicide, I found him. And that experience, I was in the Zen being, I was a Zen student at the time, and their advice was, you know, don’t talk about it. The hospital’s advice and everybody else was talk about it, talk about it, talk about it. And I tended to agree with the monks because experiencing it once was plenty enough. I didn’t need to re-experience it over and over. And I knew a woman who was raped or nearly raped and had her jaw broken years back and she re-experienced that in therapy for 30 years. It didn’t help her. You know, she had to live four floors up and have earplugs in her, you know, ears at night and couldn’t watch a sunset because she had to close the curtains. There’s a difference between not being able to talk about something and re-experiencing it over and over in your neurology. And that’s unnecessary.

Rick: Is there some kind of happy medium though where with a therapist or something there would be a, you know, a rehabilitative value in discussing something to a certain extent without overindulging? Because you don’t want to just sort of like, “Oh, that didn’t happen.”

Cindy: Yes, yes. Well, unfortunately with most therapists, I don’t see that happening a whole lot from my own experience and from what other people have said. But there is definitely a way and that’s when the experience is reframed. And meaning, so, I was abused as a child and it got reframed for me one day and it just popped. Like, I had to blame myself because, you know, you can’t blame an adult. They’re perfect. You know, as a child, they’re like God. They know everything, right? And what I realized was that at some point parents are not gods. You realize that too. But as an adult, it got reframed in an instant and I could therefore quit blaming myself and I could let responsibility lay where it were, you know, really belonged and let what I call natural consequences take their toll. Sometimes natural consequences happen right away. Sometimes maybe they don’t. But nobody escapes them. So, I’m not worried about it, you know. And I think this is what children need to learn is natural consequence. An alcoholic who’s protected doesn’t ever get to experience natural consequences, you know. They’re hidden. They’re lied for. They are, you know, a lot of things happen that we do to protect them but it really doesn’t help them. It keeps them. It enables them to keep doing what they’re doing, you know.

Rick: Yeah, that’s the word enables. And they teach you if you’re, you know, related to an alcoholic and stop being an enabler.

Cindy: Yes, yes. Let the natural consequences if they drink themselves into a stupor and they fall on the floor, leave them there.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: So that they’re left with the natural consequences, you know. And my mother was always calling my father’s office. Dick is sick today, you know. Yes, that’s what I’m talking about. You know it. Yeah, yeah.

Rick: Here’s a question that came in. Let’s ask you this. This is Matt from LA, Los Angeles. He says, “Do you think humans exist as a living tool that consciousness is using to have a more direct effect in the world? And if so, do you think it would be important for us to understand the purpose of all of it so we can steer humanity in the right direction? There is more talk globally nowadays on how we are killing the planet for future generations and there is a need to take action today.”

Cindy: The first part of that was, do you think that human beings are here to…

Rick: As a living tool that consciousness is using, as if we’re instruments of the divine or sense organs of the divine or something that through which the divine consciousness or whatever can channel its intentions into the world. That’s the way I would phrase it. And if so, do you think it’d be important for us to understand the purpose of it all so we can maybe be a more effective tool, I think the guy is saying.

Cindy: I think the most effect you can have on the world is to awaken and self-realize who you are and then come back and look at this because until then, who’s asking? Who’s asking? To me, the joy of seeing oneself is enough reason for humankind. Yeah, there is no higher joy.

Rick: True, but look what happened in your own case. You know, you have had the joy of seeing yourself but then you, and maybe because it’s your dharma and it wouldn’t be everybody’s dharma, somebody might continue to be a cab driver or something, but you’ve naturally sort of transitioned into or assumed the role of a teacher through which your experience is being disseminated or shared in a way with with other people.

Cindy: When I surrendered myself, I didn’t care if I swept the streets for the rest of my life and I still don’t care.

Rick: Right.

Cindy: There was this interest to be of use. How can I be of use? And I looked at what I had available with me, you know, and that was writing, language, communication, people. I had already been developing a way to help people out of suffering, so it just carried on, it just cleaned up. But sweeping the streets is no less of service. Absolutely no less. It is your being that is of service, not what you do.

Rick: Yeah, primarily. I think also things need to be done. You know, the people who are inventing better solar panels or curing some disease or something, they’re doing a valuable thing, but the consciousness, you quote Einstein in your book, that quote of, you know, trying to solve problems at the same level of consciousness at which they were created, which is futile.

Cindy: That exactly addresses this question.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: The best service you can be, honestly, really, is to wake up out of the dream. Put all your attention and interest, all your powers into it. Let that flame burn, throw gasoline on it.

Rick: Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all else should be added unto thee.

Cindy: Exactly, exactly, exactly. Don’t be distracted by anything else, even the idea that the world is, you know, in a disaster. Find out who and what you are first, then you’ll know about the world.

Rick: Yeah, well I think one way we might phrase it is, okay, I see the world is a disaster, now what can I do to help? Okay, first priority is know thyself.

Cindy: Yes.

Rick: And you know, that should be the number one tool in your toolkit and then having that, you know, there’s various other ways you can serve, but if you don’t have that then question is how valuable will you ultimately be?

Cindy: Yeah, yeah. Will you be suffering in your serving and will you therefore be contributing to the mass unconsciousness, you know, that goes on? And happiness lies one of the mass unconsciousness, you know, we agree with each other about our suffering. Oh, that was a terrible thing to happen, that shouldn’t have happened to you. And so we are feeding, this is one of the toughest things, you know, when I first had this realization, even of the joy and I went and started to hang around again with friends and they would start to talk, I wouldn’t know how to answer them because I would hear the suffering and I know it’s unnecessary but I’m not in the position of a teacher or anything. So I did learn, I learned to speak a little differently, to stay in alignment with truth and present and compassionate with what’s going on. So it is totally possible.

Rick: Yeah, and you probably learned not to always be preachy to them and be a total pain in the ass, you know, it’s like because it’s not always, well it’s not always invited.

Cindy: No, no, very little of that because you get shut down real quick, which is fine. I do remember being in a group of people where we were eating dinner in a very cramped area and then there was like an open living room and we had finished for a long time and I looked over at the open living room and I was really inviting and I just got up, cleaned my plate and sat down in the living room and then the next day I got an email that said, you can’t be comfortable in groups.

Rick: They misinterpreted your move.

Cindy: Yeah, and I was like, no, it’s because I am so comfortable that I can get up and move freely in a room and so dealing with that was interesting too and what I’ve learned is not to tell people anything but to ask them questions. Questions are really powerful and that’s also good for the individual. Don’t try and tell yourself something, question, question yourself, question everything.

Rick: Yeah, that’s good. I suppose you could have said, hey, you know, we’re kind of cramped in here, let’s all go in the living room. Yeah, I suppose I could have. It was just so natural. There was no limitation. Oh, what if I get up, what are they going to think? There was none of that. It was just, you know, and even after they commented, it was still none of that. Oh, I shouldn’t have done that. No, there’s this freedom, freedom with it, spaciousness and it’s okay that someone misunderstood and we can clarify that.

Rick: Okay, so we covered the five powers, you call them, and is there anything else that’s like, you know, really important to you and important to what you teach and say that we haven’t covered that you’d like to cover?

Cindy: Geez, I don’t know, Rick, you’ve done a good job here.

Rick: Here’s a little tidbit for you. I really like this little quote from the Buddha that you put in your book. You said, “If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.” I often ponder that sort of thing, I mean, what a miracle. I mentioned in last week’s interview, or maybe the week before, that in a single grain of salt there are a billion, billion atoms, and every single one of those little atoms is a miracle, I mean, operating perfectly according to laws of nature that we don’t even really understand, and there are a billion, billion of them in a grain of salt. Imagine how many in the universe, and imagine the whole marvelous complexity and beauty of the whole thing. It’s like, again, the Buddha says, if we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, or even a single grain of salt, I would say, our whole life would change.

Cindy: It’s true, and it is a fabulous example, because that is exactly what happened to me in the woods when that thought came up. How come it’s not obvious? And then it was, wait, what is obvious? Well, the trees are obvious, but well, the trees are obvious, yes, the plants are obvious, but nobody knows how this happens. Nobody knows how a leaf unfolds from nothing into nothing, and that’s when the recognition of, oh my god, it’s all a miracle, oh my god, it’s all god, you know, all of it, and this caught me, it caught me in it though, because this all of it, I am not outside of this all of it, and boom, that was that.

Rick: Beautiful realization, gives me goosebumps, you know, to contemplate.

Cindy: It’s a lovely one, thank you for that.

Rick: Yeah, well, Irene passed me a note to say that the company that provides our fiber optic service is digging outside. Well, I’m saying they could disrupt our internet connection, I’m not sure. Okay, she doesn’t think so, just saying, so maybe that’s a sign that we should kind of wrap it up. I think we’ve really covered things nicely, but before we totally wrap it up, give people an indication of like, all right, if I seem to like Cindy, I think I want to get more in touch with what she’s doing. You know, what kind of programs or courses or what offerings do you have?

Cindy: Okay, so we do have a group program that’s coming up called the Edge Out the Ego, that’s on the 20th to the 24th, you can enroll for that. Beyond that, we have, I have ongoing once a month spiritual inquiry calls open to the public, anybody can come in, ask questions, and we also have a private program available for those whose the burning is, can’t be denied. So that’s about it, you can find out about all of those at my website, which you can go to or

Rick: Okay, great, and I’ll be putting up a page on Batgap for this interview, and I’ll have links to that website and to your books and so on, so people can get in touch and they can take it from there.

Cindy: Thank you, thank you so much.

Rick: Yeah, thank you Cindy, I’ve really enjoyed talking to you, it’s been a real natural, easygoing conversation.

Cindy: It surely has, I appreciate your questions and your humor as well.

Rick: Yeah, there was another song I thought of, you’re talking about how love needs love or something like that, and the Stevie Wonder song, “Love’s in need of love today.”

Cindy: Yes, I love that you brought up songs because I used to sing and play guitar and I’m picking it up again, and there was a time though when I was just disgusted with the ego and I couldn’t sing any songs, I realized they’re all egoic. I was actually listening to the lyrics instead of just mindlessly humming along and I, oh my god, I can’t sing that song anymore, and then I was actually told by a monk, well no, not all songs, and I went, okay, right, I have to start looking for songs that are not egoic. And what happened was I found that if you take a different perspective, there is no song that is egoic, even if you’re saying, you know, you hurt me so I never want to see you again, well that’s the ego. So I can sing those songs now too.

Rick: Yeah, what the heck.

Cindy: Yeah, and then if you’re like, I can’t live without you, well that would be the divine.

Rick: Yeah.

Cindy: So I’m free to sing all songs and I really appreciate the lyrics in some of them.

Rick: Sure, Sigmund Freud said sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, so maybe by the same token sometimes a song is just a song.

Cindy: With a good little diddly going on.

Rick: Right, so let me just make a general wrap-up point, which is that you’ve been watching an episode of Buddha at the gas pump, ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. The series continues. If you’d like to learn more about it, go to and best place to start there perhaps is the “At a Glimpse” menu, where you’ll see everything that’s on the site kind of summarized and itemized. You can click from there to other things, such as subscribing to the audio podcast or signing up to be notified by email of new episodes and so on. So thanks for watching or listening and thanks again, Cindy. It’s been a lot of fun.

Cindy: Thanks, Rick. Thanks for being part of my journey on the way, because everything counts and you were part of it.

Rick: Great, and vice versa.