320. Dorothy Hunt Transcript

Dorothy Hunt # 320

December 18, 2015

{BATGAP theme music plays}

>>Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and I am out at the Science & Nonduality Conference (SAND) in San Jose, California, where I’ll be conducting a series of interviews with some of the presenters here at the Conference, and the first is with Dorothy Hunt. Welcome, Dorothy.

I’ll read a brief bio here. “Dorothy is the spiritual director of Moon Mountain Sangha, teaches at the request of Adyashanti. She has practiced psychotherapy since 1967, at which point I really need it, and is the founder of the San Francisco Center for Zen Meditation and Psychotherapy. Self-inquiry, as taught by Ramana Maharishi, led to the first of a series of awakenings. In meeting Adyashanti she was invited to see beyond identification with the absolute or relative. Dorothy is the author of Only This, a contributing author to The Sacred Mirror: Listening from the Heart of Silence, and the Online Journal, Undivided. She is the featured spiritual teacher in the book Ordinary Women, Extraordinary Wisdom.”

So I guess my first question that I thought of as I was reading this, and this is … you’re going to like this: Were you practicing psychotherapy as a teenager or … had you made a pact with the devil to remain so young-looking?

>>Dorothy: No! J I’m quite old!

>>Rick:  Well, well-preserved.

>>Dorothy: Thank you.

>>Rick:  So Dorothy, most interviews that I do consist of two components really. One is just the person’s personal journey, and people complain when I don’t include enough of that, they say, “I want the personal journey!” and also basically the knowledge, wisdom, teaching, whatever they have gleaned or amassed from that personal journey. So that’s what I would like to cover in the next 50 minutes, and we can apportion the two things according to how we feel it goes.

>>Dorothy: How do you question me?

>>Rick:  Okay, so I guess a good question to start with is … most people I know, myself included, can actually remember a day when it first dawned on them that there was such a thing as “spiritual development;” I can remember mine, and of course there are many other milestones since then, but do you have such a day?

>>Dorothy: I can’t pinpoint it. What I can pinpoint is when my mother died when I was 12, I really, really believed that – I grew up in a Christian tradition – I really believed that [if] I had faith as big as a mustard seed … she had died the day after Christmas, her birthday was on Easter, and I really thought she would come to life! My prayers were so deep. And of course, she did not.

And so I got mad at God and I wanted to know who this God was who could give life and take it away. so, my journey was really to find God.

>>Rick:  Okay. I’m going to pause and we’ll edit this pause-out, but Ralph, do you have a mic and is there a cord which I could use to use that as a corded-mic such that we wouldn’t have this staticy thing? I know Ralph has a mic in the room, but is there a long cord we could get our hands on and so we can just use that?

{Rick talking back and forth to tech guy}

So we’ll just continue and we’ll edit all this stuff out. I’m sorry.

Okay, so your mother died and you got mad at God.

>>Dorothy: Yes.

>>Rick:  And so what was the outcome of that?

>>Dorothy: Well, it was just I think being thrown into a big question early in life, you know, “What is life? What is death?” And I also just wanted to be a normal kid, so it wasn’t as if I was having a great spiritual experience at that point, mostly I just wanted to know who this God was that I was angry with.

So if we fast forward, I began to meditate in what that time was a Christian tradition. They said you could meditate on Scripture, so I chose “Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46:10) And so it would like “Be still,” what is like to just be? To be still? To be still and know?

So that went on for a while and then other kinds of meditation. And then I got very interested in Zen at some point along there, and I also was a volunteer for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in the San Francisco area, so I volunteered for many, many years to AIDS Hospice, street work in the slums, their home for pregnant women, and so forth.

And then, I was one of those people who never ever wanted a guru, you know? I felt sorry for anyone who wanted one. I would always say, “Why go to a person when you could have God?” That was my sense. Then Ramana Maharishi appeared in a dream, and I never knew … I didn’t know who it was, I didn’t know if he was dead or alive, I didn’t know what he taught, but the power of … well, you know that face.

The power of that loving presence was so palpable that I just knew I had to find out who this was. So I started reading The Spiritual Teaching of Ramana Maharishi

>>Rick:  I can’t tell you how many people have told me that he appeared to them in one form or other. Pamela Wilson and many others …

>>Dorothy: I know, isn’t that … it’s amazing.

>>Rick:  He is a busy guy.

>>Dorothy: Oh, the mind streams are connected in some way. But yeah, so that began a period of self-inquiry where it was just a spontaneous thing, it wasn’t like, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?” but it was just like, “Who is holding the microphone? Who is eating dinner? Who is taking care of her children? Who is looking at herself in the mirror?” You know, it was just those spontaneous kinds of questions.

And also a deepening desire to know the truth, to know, as Ramana said, “God, self, guru are the same,” so it was like that was percolating until a time where that question … you know, if you ask that question and you ask it deeply enough, you’ll come to a place of “I don’t know.”

And most times the mind backs up or it goes off to India or it does something besides stay there at that place of the unknown. But eventually, the question, if we get close enough with the mind to Source, it just flips it, it subsumes that idea of separation. So that’s what finally happened, in terms of what I would call “the first realization of true knowledge.”

>>Rick:  How many years had you been doing this sort of thing before it flipped?

>>Dorothy: Self-inquiry probably about three years.

>>Rick:  Okay, and what was that flipping experience like?

>>Dorothy: Well I was one of those that had the big, dramatic, dancing, crying, falling on the ground, you know …

>>Rick: In other words you weren’t an “oozer.”

>>Dorothy: Right, I know … whatever that is!

>>Rick:  Oozers are the people who just sort of shift into it so slowly and they don’t know anything happened.

>>Dorothy: Oh, no, this was a definite moment, a definite moment where identity shifted, and just that sense of being everything and feeling the oneness of all, of all things.

>>Rick:  Did you go into “I got it, I lost it” phase, or was that like a transition that never reversed?

>>Dorothy: Well, I mean it’s always deepening and that was certainly just the first what I would call “other kinds of openings” – opening the heart, and down deeper. I don’t know if I ever thought, “I lost it.”

What happened, until I met Adyashanti, was that something began to just hang out in the absolute. So you know in Zen they would say “stuck in emptiness,” and that was an experience that I didn’t know I was having, actually, but one can get very good at staying very safe in that absolute perspective.

So that went on for a while until I met Adya.

>>Rick:  So when you were kind of stuck in the absolute, so to speak, what impact did that have on your so-called “relative life?”

>>Dorothy: Well this is a funny, funny story! So at one point, my kids were in their teens by this time, and both my kids are, but my son and I were having this very deep conversation and so I was trying to explain to him, “I’m not really your mother and you’re not really my son, and what we really are,” and I’m going on and on and you know, he’s kind of scratching his head.

And I didn’t even know the shift had happened until some years later when we were on a boat. And he is 6’3” but he was lying down on this bench and he had his head in my lap and he just said, “Oh mom, I’m so happy you can be my mom again.”

>>Rick:  Oh, that’s great.

>>Dorothy: So it was that kind of not even realizing in myself that something had shifted, but definitely shifted back to that acceptance. And the willingness to just live this ordinary human life.

>>Rick: Yeah. Do you feel like … I mean you probably, as a teacher, you’ve seen many people go through that phase, right?  Do you try to help them move on through it more quickly …?

>>Dorothy: The “I got it, I lost it?”

>>Rick: … rather than getting stuck there for a long time?

>>Dorothy: You mean the emptiness piece or the “I’ve got it, I’ve lost it?”

>>Rick:  Yeah, the “I’m not a person …”

>>Dorothy: Oh, well it’s kind of hard sometimes to break through that because it’s so free, you know, and it’s so detached in a certain way that one can hang out there for quite a long time. And it’s kind of like you come only halfway around the circle, you know?

To wake up to the absolute is an amazing and important thing to do, and of course in spiritual teaching, it’s often a division that isn’t true, but a division that is made just to invite people to realize there’s another dimension of themselves, this transcendent dimension. So it depends on the person and the situation.

>>Rick:  Well in Zen isn’t that why they whack people with a stick and say, “Hey, did anybody feel that?” you know …

>>Dorothy: Yeah, exactly, yeah! One great story is someone had had really true, authentic awakening, and it wasn’t that it wasn’t authentic but I think it was Aitken Roshi threw something at his head and you know, “Who felt that?” And [so] we have to come back into this relative world as what we truly are, and that is to me what awakening is about; it’s not about separating ourselves from it.

>>Rick:  Yeah, I mean if it were about separating ourselves from it, why would we need a relative world?

>>Dorothy: There you go.

>>Rick:  You know? I mean what would it all be for?

>>Dorothy: Exactly. That.

>>Rick:  Okay, so then what year did you meet Adya?

>>Dorothy: 2001.

>>Rick:  That’s pretty early on, relatively. And I guess his operation wasn’t very big at that point, so …

>>Dorothy: Yeah, we both were speakers at a Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy Conference together. And a lot of my friends had seen him but I wasn’t looking for a teacher. I felt like the journey had ended, I was “done” you know, you have that illusion at some point.

>>Rick:  Yeah, as Francis would put it, “Did someone stick a fork in you?”

>>Dorothy: Yeah right! Exactly, exactly. So anyway, I was the first speaker in the afternoon and he was the keynote speaker, and when he began to talk I just felt this incredible transmission that I knew I needed.

And as grace would have it, he was doing a retreat in the Sierras, I think beginning the very next week, and had already been set up. And so to the organizers of that retreat I said, “You know, if you ever do this sort of thing again, I’d love to be included.” And the very next day one of them said, “Somebody is too sick to go, would you like to come?”

So I was working as a psychotherapist, we had house guests, my husband was in the middle of a trial (he was a lawyer). And I ordinarily would never have done anything in one week, I would have “given my clients much more notice” and so forth, but it was just obvious, “Go, go.” So that was the beginning of my time with Adyashanti.

And you know, he really was … some people called him at that time “the closer,” because so many people came to him who had already had some degree of awakening or some very deep glimpses of true nature.

But while I was with Adya, and he is still here in my heart, always, but there was this awakening of the heart and awakening of the hara, you might say, where something just falls away and …

>>Rick:  On that very first retreat or just during the whole …?

>>Dorothy: Well, on that very first retreat there was a sense of “things were just what they were, without any additions.” Just washing the dishes. Not liking or disliking the dishes. Just the outhouse, not, “Ooh, it smells terrible.” It was just what it was.

That didn’t last indefinitely, but there was that sense on that first retreat with him, that this was a dimension that was truly free, truly free of additions, of additions from the mind.

>>Rick:  And somehow Adya facilitated an atmosphere in which that recognition was readily available or something?

>>Dorothy: It’s a mystery how these things happen, you know? I can’t say what was the cause of anything really, I mean I think everything has infinite causes and conditions, so it was just the experience of that moment.

>>Rick:  Great. And this is 2001. Now, we’ll kind of go through some more details, but fast-forwarding a bit, has there been or do you even believe in such a thing as a kind of “final realization,” after which you aren’t going to be expecting any more significant breakthroughs, or do you feel like it’s a never-ending …?

>>Dorothy: Well as I would say, in the infinite we are, how could there be an end to the deepening?

>>Rick:  Some would argue if it’s all one, how can “one” have shallow and deep? It’s just one, so how can there be levels of gradations of it?

>>Dorothy: Yeah, right, I mean, reality is as it is, this awake space is at it is, but our experiences are shifting from moment to moment every day like right now I’m experiencing you nodding. And so experience can deepen, what we are doesn’t deepen, it’s already as it is.

>>Rick:  Right. So these people who say, “Well everybody is already enlightened,” you know, that includes Pol Pot, Adolf Hitler, everybody who ever lived, so it’s meaningless, as far as I can tell.

>>Dorothy: Well, it’s an interesting question, because in awakening to your true nature you see that everything is that and that there is – at least the way it showed up here – there is no separate one to enlighten. The “me” thinks there is, but to wake up to the totality is realizing there is no separate one to awaken. And therefore there are definitely levels of bumping up against that knowing and those expressions where that hasn’t happened.

And so if we knew we were one with everything and everyone, I think there would be much less violence and power-tripping and all the rest.

>>Rick:  Yeah, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

>>Dorothy: Absolutely.

>>Rick:  Do unto others as we would have them do unto us because we see them as us.

>>Dorothy: As ourselves, absolutely.

>>Rick:  Which is an interesting point, I mean, would you agree that perhaps spiritual awakening, of the type that we are discussing here, is the real antidote to the world’s problems?

>>Dorothy: Who knows? You know, I can’t speculate as to what would be the antidote to the world’s problems because life and totality are just moving as it moves, minute to minute, moment to moment. But it certainly would help.

>>Rick:  Yeah. So let’s parse it out a little bit. We’ve just agreed that it’s kind of a never-ending unfoldment, or deepening, or refinement, or clarification, or whatever …

>>Dorothy: I hope so, I hope there’s no end.

>>Rick:  Yeah. What are some of the significant milestones that you have encountered since those initial stages with Adya?

>>Dorothy: Well I was speaking about this earlier today with someone, but for me – and I think it’s the case for many people, many minds believe that “I couldn’t possibly be awake unless all of these things had already happened”, you know?

As I said in some poem I wrote one time, “Until I’ve planted my peace garden, until all my furniture is arranged in a certain way, until I no longer have this feeling,” and so forth. But the surprising thing, here anyways, was just that this freedom is the freedom to have the experience of the moment without resisting it, without anything saying it shouldn’t be here, because here it is.

So that is an incredible liberation, from self-judgment. It doesn’t mean that the truth, as it is moving more and more deeply in the system, doesn’t see those moments where we are out of alignment and then we have the opportunity to investigate what’s really here, what wants to be seen here. So it’s not a “go back to egoic living” where anything goes, but there’s no refusal of what’s here. So if it’s anger, if it’s conflict, if it’s a confused mind, whatever it is, that’s what’s here.

>>Rick: Hmm. Yeah, that brings up an interesting question. A lot of people … I’ve heard that many people say that sort of thing like, “Whatever it is, anger, confusion, this and that,” and I was talking with Mariana Kaplan the other day and we were talking about how all the people she talks to privately, who were her spiritual teachers and many of them are going through all kinds of crazy stuff.

And one would hope … I mean, let’s talk about the utility of awakening if we can use that phrase. One would hope that we’re clearing out a lot of garbage as we evolve spiritually and that our life isn’t going to be such a chaotic mess. Do you think there’s any merit to that notion?

>>Dorothy: Well as far as I can tell, awakening is not … it doesn’t give the “me” anything.

>>Rick:  No, but doesn’t it refine the “me,” because we’ve talked about how there’s more and more refinement …

>>Dorothy: Well there’s transformation, absolutely, there are transformations. But you can be … and we’ve all seen this haven’t we, with certain spiritual teachers? There’s an incredible clarity, an incredible ability to point in such a way that people feel and experience and somehow know this dimension that seems more true, and they are not necessarily grown up in certain other ways, do you know? So growing up and being awake may not happen altogether at the same time.

>>Rick:  Yeah. Do you feel that … I used to feel that there’s a tight correlation, that whatever degree of spiritual progress you made, there was going to be an equivalent degree of all these other lines of development …

>>Dorothy: Ah, it’s going to look a certain way.

>>Rick:  Yeah, but now I kind of see it as a big stretchy rubber band. There’s going to be some correlation, and the rubber band, once it stretches to a certain point, it’s gotta pull the other stuff a little bit, but it has a lot of latitude.

>>Dorothy: Well it’s kind of like, as Adya would say, sort of like a bungee cord. You go very deep and there’s often the result of it coming back up to … I mean, what I would call an “egoic mind,” which isn’t a thing, it’s just a movement, a movement of thought. The “I thought” – it simply moves, to resist, to try to manipulate, to control, all of those things.

And it can hang out quite a long time, it can claim the awakening, and we’ve seen that happen many, many times, you know, “I’m awake and you aren’t,” but that’s completely, from my perspective, you’re not seeing what’s true if you make a claim like that.

>>Rick:  Yeah, I used to use the analogy of sleeping elephants. Anybody hear this analogy? Where there’s like a whole herd of elephants sleeping and you manage somehow to tiptoe through the herd of sleeping elephants and get to the other side, but somehow or other, maybe the tiptoeing stirs up a few elephants. So there’s some commotion and you have to come out again before the elephants wake up.

But maybe if you continue that process long enough, you have “elephant free” territory.

>>Dorothy: Yes, well it’s part of what you were mentioning a little while ago about the “I’ve got it, I lost it,” because so many folks, in fact, most that I know of, who have a deep awakening to their true nature and it’s quite authentic, often then will have all this stuff come up: “What have I done wrong? I thought I dealt with this for 20 years in therapy (or whatever it is)? And here it is again.”

But what I would say is, truth and love are really just moving in the system in a way to show us wherever we’re still divided, wherever there is still a sense of separation. So we haven’t done anything wrong.

{Speaking to Rick about technical/mic issues}

>>Rick:  So I’m sorry. Can you pick up the thought … do you remember exactly what you were talking about?

>>Dorothy: Well the “I’ve got it, I lost it.” You see, when things come up … we think awakening looks like the awakening experience and that is an incredible experience, but when we’re hooked on experience, we’re going to try to go for the next one, the next “big” one or the next “bliss” moment, or the next whatever, “everything falls away” moment. But you see, to live as this that’s awake is to be present to what’s right here and now.

So these things come up to be liberated, you know? And we have an opportunity when that happens to actually become interested in “What is this experience made of? What is it really?” And what I find in terms of working with people and in my own experience as well is, what is it like to go through all the layers of experience, all the way through, because that’s what ultimately has a liberating potential.

>>Rick:  Mm. In a discussion we were having the other day with some people, we were contrasting the notion of doing a lot of healing and house-cleaning and so on pre-awakening, so as to have … versus awakening and then having the stuff hit the fan afterward, because that house-cleaning hadn’t been done. Do you have any comments on those two approaches?

>>Dorothy: I would say it happens both ways, and that the house-cleaning post-awakening probably is much easier because there’s nothing, or there’s less resistance to actually being present to what’s here, so we’re not trying to “fix” self anymore.

And yet here is this moment of conflict or here is this moment of separation, and so there’s more of an interest – if we’re devoted to truth that is – there’s more of an interest of actually going into it and finding out for yourself, “What is this?” Rather than pre-awakening, where it’s more like, “How do I fix a deficient me? How do I fix the flaw? How do I never suffer again? How do I …” whatever. So it’s more of a linear thing, whereas this feels more like it’s a vertical exploration.

>>Rick:  {Clearing his throat} Excuse me. Yeah, someone used the example of, if you had some poison, let’s say, and you drop it into a glass of water, then it’s really going to be a noxious glass of water. But if you took the same amount of poison and dropped it into an ocean, the ocean would have the capacity to dissipate it and the ocean would appear pretty much the same.

So post-awakening house-cleaning you could probably process a lot more stuff efficiently than pre-awakening.

>>Dorothy: And you know, I’ll just mention this because I think it comes up, at least certainly in people I work with, if we go down deeply enough through any emotion, the layers, what I would call the layers – could be anger, fear, sadness – and you just keep going and you come to a sense of vulnerability, and most people are spending their entire life never trying to be vulnerable again, you know.

But this openness, when it is moving in the body-mind, frequently feels vulnerable in the beginning, because we’ve been so used to trying to protect and defend some image of ourselves. So you get to vulnerability and you realize, “Mm, there’s a sense of not being in control here, and what’s going to happen if I’m not in control?” And then you go to the deeper levels and it’s kind of like, “And what’s beneath that, and what’s beneath that?” If we really want to know the truth about it.

So what’s beneath that? Then there’s a fear of living or a fear of dying, and what I’ve discovered is that for most people, and it’s not about a fault, it’s just how consciousness is moving in that particular moment, but there’s a preference: “I would rather be a flawed, deficient, unworthy, unlovable somebody than to face into being no-thing. That’s infinitely worse, from the mind’s perspective that’s trying to hold up this psychological identity that’s separate from reality.

>>Rick:  Yeah, I think that might be a bit of a misunderstanding though of what the experience is actually going to be once awakening happens. You know, people read stories of Eckhart Tolle having to sit on a park bench for two years and things like that and [they] say, “I don’t want that, I have kids to raise.”

>>Dorothy: Well who really wants it, because it’s a subtraction of who you thought you would be. It’s not a good selling point for enlightenment I have to say, but let’s be truthful. At least in the experience here, it’s a subtraction, it’s not an addition. And it’s not just a neti-neti, it’s like life is showing you, circumstance [is] showing you that you aren’t what you thought you were, over and over again.

And it’s inviting you to keep coming back, coming back, coming back to what I would call “zero” – how the mind moves and then it comes back to zero, emotions move and then we return to zero, but they are always holdouts for most of us.

>>Rick:  Like those knots in your string.

>>Dorothy: Yeah! Exactly, exactly.

>>Rick:  Dorothy, explain your string. You probably don’t have it with you, such as that people understand what I’m referring to.

>>Dorothy: Well I have … I did a presentation yesterday called Untying the Knot of Separation. I brought a rope and there was a knot in it, and if we look at the rope as being the movement of awareness as consciousness in the body-mind, that’s what’s identifying with its own creation.

It’s not something that’s wrong or bad about how the mind is working; it’s doing itself. But as you begin to inquire, “Who is this me really? What is this knot? What is this contraction?” you’ll feel it in the body if you’re sensitive to energy, that there’s a knot of our separate identity.

So when we begin to let the light of awareness move into that knot, we begin to see that it is simply the misidentification of consciousness itself. So the knot gets a little bit looser and maybe unties itself. We can’t make that happen, it’s not an intellectual exercise. But as I had some other little knotted ropes off of that knot, and those are the holdouts; we will all have holdouts where there’s a contraction around something or someone or some situation.

>>Rick:  When we discuss this sort of thing we are kind of discussing it from human, individual perspective, or at least that’s the way the language works: “I did this and I did that,” and “I experienced this,” but as you said earlier, the individual doesn’t wake up.

But it’s kind of interesting to zoom out and consider that if everything is the Divine, if everything is Consciousness, then from the perspective of the Divine, as opposed to from the perspective of the so-called “individual” approaching the Divine, it’s a different perspective on what’s actually taking place in this so-called “individual” … you know where I’m going with that and would you like to respond to it already, or would you like me to say a little more?

>>Dorothy: No, say a little more.

>>Rick:  Well just that it seems like we’re doing stuff, and it seems like we have a destiny we’re trying to fulfill, and we’re lucky enough to happen to run into this teacher and all, and this teacher provides this benefit, and so on, but I kind of see that there’s a Divine hand in all of it. That the course of events that leads to our awakening is much more profoundly orchestrated by some much vaster intelligence than we actually realize; we are only getting a peep of it, and maybe we only appreciate it much more fully in retrospect.

>>Dorothy: Well I would say the “me” has absolutely nothing to do with it J … I mean that’s what we discover, that the one we thought was the “me” actually isn’t what we thought. And so when you understand that’s it’s all the Divine moving.

And you see, we all want the Divine to be only the good, the pure, the beautiful, but it is also destruction, it’s also chaotic, it’s also confused mind, and we don’t want our God to be confused, you know, God forbid. But here it is!

So either it’s all it or only parts of it are it, and when you see it’s all it, then there’s space to see that the causes and conditions at any one moment being what they are, are vast and they go back from beginningless time, probably.

You know, I can’t really speak about [that] but there’s just this sense that it’s all doing itself. And that doesn’t mean there’s no perception of choice because clearly there is, but who is choosing and who is not choosing, that’s for the mind to contemplate. But from that deeper place, there is actually a choicelessness about living.

>>Rick:  Yeah, I think there is a principle here, which is that knowledge is different in different states of consciousness. And there’s a tendency for people to read a bunch of books and then apply the knowledge that’s appropriate to a certain state of consciousness to their own state, and end up kind of intellectualizing a lot of stuff that should be experiential.

>>Dorothy: Yeah, you bet, you bet. And that is why I think it’s so important to be honest with our own experience. When we stop wanting our life or our experience to look a certain way and we want the truth more than we want it to look a certain way, then truth comes in to meet that, it begins to reveal itself in ever deeper ways, when we’re not attempting to have it look a certain way or to “match” some teacher’s …

I mean, we’re all projections of one another on one level anyway, so we are projecting onto this teacher or that what we don’t see in ourselves yet.

>>Rick:  Yeah, it’s like we started out by your telling the story of your mother dying and getting mad at God when that happened, but I think if we can acquire the ability to regard life as a sort of Divine play that’s ultimately being benevolent, [that] there’s an evolutionary purpose here and the Divine is evolving Itself into more and more forms, more and more capable of embodying the Divine, then we can be more patient and tolerant and appreciative of whatever comes our way rather than saying, “Why in the heck did that happen? This shouldn’t have happened,” and all of that.

>>Dorothy: Well it depends on how we define “Divine,” doesn’t it? There is one way of looking into the no-thingness that I would call that “dark face of the mystery,” where once you bump up against that, you could never again say that you know what that is. It is an unnamable mystery, it can’t be defined.

It’s kind of like being in deep sleep, where there is no world, there is no God, there is no other, there is no self, and yet there is something that’s so profound, you can’t ever again say, “I know,” do you know? At least that’s how it feels here.

>>Rick:  And so are you referring to something that you’re experiencing right now or something that you experience in deep transcendent state, in retrospect?

>>Dorothy: Well, it’s kind of like these experiences are messengers. We’re not trying any longer, hopefully, to have one sustaining experience; we are realizing what it is that’s experiencing all of it, and it isn’t a separate “me” that’s experiencing. So once we have that, for lack of a better word, it’s kind of a non-experience of no-thingness; everything falls away and there’s no way you can speak about it. I mean that’s why they say, “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao” – there’s no way to speak about it.

So once you know that that’s what is permeating life, that’s what is the source, we could say, of life, a mystery that we can never know because we can’t make it an object, then there’s just that knowing, you don’t have to be having that experience. When the mind doesn’t move there’s nothing here, and when the mind moves, there’s this.

>>Rick:  One thing some people say is that these experiences we have, which aren’t perpetual but they are experienced that could go on, we actually do kind of incorporate them but they become so familiar …

>>Dorothy: Yeah, it’s the new normal.

>>Rick:  It’s like you eat food and it becomes tissue in your body, and you are no longer aware of that meal but you’re benefiting from it.

>>Dorothy: Yeah, yeah. And it’s kind of like if people have dealt with chronic pain or something, there’s a new normal. That would be an envision of a limitation and what we’re talking about is almost opposite; it’s the sense of, “Something is unlimited here.” It’s unlimited in its variety of expression and unlimited in the moment that can be experienced.

But it then becomes the new normal, so you don’t have to sustain an experience to know that this that’s awake, this that’s awake in all of us as all of us, that’s what’s here in this room right now.

>>Rick:  Yeah. I’ve often thought that the new normal principle that you just brought up is sort of symptomatic of the compassion of God, that we acclimate to things. Because you see people living in horrendous circumstances but somehow they have acclimated to that, to a certain extent, and if we had to suddenly transition to that and live that it would be completely intolerable, but they have grown accustomed. And vice versa, if they were to transition to what we’re experiencing they might be in total bliss, but we’ve grown accustomed, you know?

>>Dorothy: Yeah, reminds me of something Mother Teresa said. She said that when she came to this country she was struck by the spiritual poverty that she didn’t find in India, she said that people can be in abject poverty materially and they may still know that their neighbor needs something and they will share the food, whereas here she found a different kind of poverty.

>>Rick:  Yeah, interesting. So regarding the continuum principle we were just talking about, if you look in your experience right now or any time, do you discern that there is something that is a continuum?

>>Dorothy: It’s not this way, it’s this way. J  {Dorothy uses her hands to indicate a vertical continuum, rather than a horizontal one, as Rick demonstrated with his hands.}

>>Rick:  This way, okay, explain that metaphor.

>>Dorothy: Well the best I could do as a metaphor is to imagine this kind of cylindrical, eternal now, but has no boundaries whatsoever. And within that, everything that is, has, or will be is part of how I would envision. What comes to me in terms of how the mind stream is continually moving, but it is moving as this eternal now, which isn’t an increment of time.

When the mind gets hold of something like this, it turns it on its side, and now it looks like we are flowing from past to future, and that’s what happens when this awareness moves through the conditioned mind; it moves as this experience of time because then we can have a sense of duration, it moves as the experience of space, then we can have a construct of form.

But for me, from one perspective – and of course I can go to many perspectives, as we all can – but it’s just here, now, and we’re experiencing this piece of it. And there can be the mind stream of sports, the mind stream of music, the mind stream of medicine, of physics, of science, of spirituality, that’s all moving itself now.

>>Rick:  If you could speak to the 17-year-old, was it, Dorothy, whose mother had …

>>Dorothy: Twelve.

>>Rick: Twelve-year-old Dorothy whose mother had just died, what would you tell her now?

>>Dorothy: The child you mean? What would I tell myself as a child?

>>Rick:  Yeah. If the current Dorothy could send a message to the 12-year-old Dorothy whose mother had just died, who was mad at God and didn’t know what life was all about, what would you like to tell her?

>>Dorothy: Well, in my life there have been many deaths and partings and separations, and so forth. And I would say (because I had this feeling that I’m here to learn that there’s no separation and to learn to love), and I have felt that from way, way back, and I would say, “If that’s what I’m supposed to learn, then why are all these separations happening?

And you know, I look back on it now and I say, this was life’s compassionate movement, because what’s happened from that is the knowing that there is no separation. And it has been so potent since my husband’s death last year, that there is just no separation in this heart that we share.

Doesn’t mean I don’t miss him, doesn’t mean that there aren’t moments of grief, but this that we are, this spirit that we are, we are now, and the form may transform, it doesn’t die, it just transforms, and we what we always were.

But now I get to see that spirit of him or of Adya or you, or anyone … here it is in the clouds, here it is in the bird’s song, here it is in the moment; it’s not someplace else.

>>Rick:  Yeah. I guess you’re kind of saying that if you hadn’t actually experienced those separations you might not have learned that, right?

>>Dorothy: Possibly. You know, we don’t know why life moves exactly the way it does, you can make a lot of theories about it. But I have read many Zen master stories and many of them lost parents at a young age, some younger than that, and it does throw you into the big questions early, or it is possible that it does.

>>Rick:  Yeah, well that’s an interesting point, whether there is a correlation between the difficulty in life that one encounters at a young age and the zeal with which one ends up pursuing spiritual realization.

>>Dorothy: Yeah, yeah. I think ‘zeal’ is an important word because I do feel like our intention, our desire … I mean when I would first meet with somebody, say for the first time, I would often ask a question like: “What is the deepest desire of your heart?” because it feels like that’s like the rudder of our life. And we may not be conscious of it but, is it really to make a million dollars? If it is … have it …

>>Rick:  Go for it.

>>Dorothy: Yeah, go at it, have at it. But you know that deepest desire, and when that deepest desire is to know the truth, or to know God, or to know yourself, it invites that experience. Something responds.

>>Rick:  My former teacher used to say that the angels in heaven aren’t really interested in enlightenment because they have got it so good, you know – it’s just a beautiful celestial world, they don’t feel like closing their eyes or anything else, and that the school of hard knocks actually gives you more of an impetus to see what truth really is.

>>Dorothy: Well you know, what was the Buddha’s whole path? He saw old age, suffering, and death, and that pushed him out of what most egos would think was an incredible existence, you know, as much wine, women, and song as he could possibly want.

So yeah, life will move however it moves to awaken itself in whatever way that happens, and it happens in so many different ways for different people. I don’t think there is just a one-size-fits-all.

>>Rick:  Yeah, I mean, my friend who just handed me this microphone has taken 40-thousand pictures of butterflies and he can name 100-and-something different kinds of butterflies just actually by seeing them fly by and all. So just look at the diversity and richness of nature itself, the unbelievable creativity of the Creator, if we want to speak in those terms, so it is definitely not a 1-trick pony show.

>>Dorothy: Right! It’s an amazing thing this life that we are privileged to live. To have an experience called “life” is an amazing gift, it’s truly an amazing gift.

>>Rick:  Yeah. So there’s a question I typically ask towards the end of most interviews and that is, do you have any sense of where it goes from here, for you? Do you see a horizon out there that you are moving toward or are you just so completely in the now that you don’t worry about that?

>>Dorothy: Well we can’t know that, I mean, can you say what’s going to happen tomorrow?

>>Rick: No, but I can sort of see areas of my personal development that I hope will continue to flourish, like I can have more expansion of heart …

>>Dorothy: Sure, of course.

>>Rick:  Or more wisdom or intellectual understanding, and underlying all that [is] greater clarity of consciousness and establishment in being, and that kind of thing.

>>Dorothy: So there would be the desire to embody more and more fully what we have both experienced is the truth of our being, right? So I would share that with you, definitely.

>>Rick: Good. Does anybody in the audience have a question or two? I should probably do that towards the end of these interviews. Would anyone like to ask anything?

>>Dorothy: Yeah, you don’t get to do that on Skype, do you?

>>Rick: No you don’t. Well actually we do. I have a live streaming thing where they can type in questions.

>>Dorothy: Oh, I see. I haven’t watched it …

>>Rick:  So if anyone has a question come up here so I can give you the mic, if you have a question, because you need to be on the mic.

Come on up here. You can bring her the mic but we will get her on camera if she comes up.

>>Dorothy: Yeah, that’s a beautiful face, come up, be on camera.

>>Rick: Just stand up here by me and ask the question, if you don’t mind.

>>Audience member: It’s not a question. I just wanted to see if you could improvise and give us a poem.

>>Dorothy: Oh! Improvise! A challenge! J You know, I’ve written hundreds and hundreds of poems and I haven’t memorized any of them.

These flowers on the carpet, they’re made out of the same as the flowers outside, do you know? And if you look deeply enough you will see that this energy is moving in these flowers, and these flowers, and the flower of your being.

I don’t know if that’s a poem but it’s what came to mind.

>>Rick: That’s a beautiful poem. That’s great.

So did you have a question?

>>Audience member: Thank you very much. I am a lover of Ramana Maharishi …

>>Dorothy: Oh, beautiful.

>>Audience member: I feel like I have some personal obstructions, some deep desires, many of them have subsided but some haven’t. So what would you call as some obstacles in your own path, that’s question number one. And the other question is, how do you now go deeply into interactions with other people, how did that change?

>>Dorothy: You know, I’d be more interested in the idea that you have to get rid of desire. Can I speak about that?

>>Audience member: Yes.

>>Dorothy: I mean desire is something that arises in our human experience, doesn’t it? We’re hungry, we desire food, we’re thirsty, we desire a drink. And the more we can allow this human experience to be what it is, it doesn’t mean acting out on every desire, but when we’re at war with desire, we’re at war with the so-called “ego,” which is simply a movement of your own mind, it’s not a “thing,” it’s not a solid somebody, but when we’re at war with our mind, we’re just fueling. We’re fueling the desire, we’re fueling the fight, we’re fueling our resistance to what is.

So in this openness, in this space of our own truth, we just see it for what it is. It’s not right or wrong; there’s just desire here. Now sometimes the desire is so strong we will call it an “addiction,” but let’s face it, if we were all in a 12-step program about thinking – “I’m addicted to thought.” Wouldn’t most human beings say that “I’m addicted to thought, to thinking?”

But it feels like we have an opportunity to see if just for a moment we’re not acting on a desire, what’s beneath that? What’s underneath that? What’s underneath that? Just like I was describing a little earlier you know? And many people with an addiction, and I’m not saying that was your question but we were talking about a very deeply held desire, there’s a sense that many people have that, “I’ll die! If I don’t have this I will die!” Do you know?

Well, let’s put our head in the dragon’s mouth. What’s that like, to die, into this moment? And then something … it’s kind of like, the way I would use my hands to describe it is like, this awareness, this awake nature of ours, when it’s moving from inside the thing we’re trying to get rid of, instead of trying to get rid of it but we just let awareness come inside, it begins to liberate it from the inside, whereas the mind tries to pry it open or get rid of it.

But for me anyway, awareness is like a sun that melts these frozen things, you know? And so much of what feels like a block, it’s just some kind of frozen feeling, a frozen experience that hasn’t been allowed to simply be. So when we allow it to be what it is, and I’m talking about our inner experience, you know?

It’s like I think the Buddha said at one point, “Hold your anger as though it’s your only child.” It’s like bringing that compassion and that embrace and that intimacy, bringing it close so we can see, “What is this?” instead of “How do I get rid of it?” The mind wants to know: “How do I get rid of it?”

But this awake space, this awareness has no judgment, and that’s why it is so much easier to work with the “stuff” after we understand that, “Oh my gosh, this has no judgement whatsoever, it doesn’t have an agenda. It is just shining the light on what is! And then we begin to see desire for what it is.

Anyway, thanks for the question.

>>Rick:  We’ll have to end on that note because we’re getting ready for our next speaker. Thanks very much.

>>Dorothy: Okay, well, it’s been a pleasure darling. Thank you, mwah! Yeah, thank you so much.

{Audience applause}

>>Rick:  Let me just make a brief concluding remark or two for those who are watching this online. This interview is part of a series of six interviews here at the Science & Nonduality Conference, and so far 312 or 313 interviews on www.batgap.com.

So if this is new to you for some reason, please go to www.batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, and check out the ‘Past Interviews’ menus, they are categorized in various ways, the ‘Future Interviews’ menus, might even check out the ‘Donate’ button!

>>Dorothy: For sure!

{BATGAP theme music plays}