Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, and I’m at the Science and Nonduality Conference in San Jose, California, which is an annual pilgrimage for me for the past six years. And I’m honored to be speaking right now with Hameed Ali and Karen Johnson. I’ll just give a little biographical sketch of each one. We’re going to be speaking about non-dual relationships. So Hameed, perhaps better known as A.H. Almas, his pen name, was born in the Middle East, but at age 18 moved to the U.S. to study at the University of California in Berkeley. And incidentally, I’ve interviewed Hameed twice, so if you’re watching this online or those of you here in the audience who would like to see the previous interviews, you can find them there. He was working on his Ph.D. in physics, where he was studying Einstein’s theory of general relativity and nuclear physics, when he reached a turning point in his life and destiny that led him more and more into inquiring into the psychological and spiritual aspects of human nature. Hameed is the founder of the Diamond Approach, a spiritual teaching that utilizes a unique kind of inquiry into realization, where the practice is the expression of realization. This inquiry opens up the infinite creativity of our being, transforming our lives into a runaway realization, moving from realization to further realization. Hameed’s books include The Inner Journey Home, Essence, The Pearl Beyond Price, Luminous Night Journey, and The Unfolding Now. Karen Johnson, whom I’ve also interviewed on BatGap, participated in the development of the Diamond Approach with Hameed since the 1970s. She has been teaching in the U.S. and Europe for 35 years. She has an M.A. in psychology and trained as an artist and dancer. She has an interest in the true spirit of scientific investigation, based on the love for truth. The underlying truth that manifests through the beauty and order of the physical and spiritual universe has been a motivating force in her life. So, Hameed and Karen wrote a book called Divine Eros, and in light of that book we’re going to be talking about non-dual relationships, which in a way is sort of an oxymoron or contradiction in terms, when you say non-dual relationships, because non-dual implies one, and relationships implies more than one. But the great famous non-dualists, all the ones that I can think of, were very devotional people. Shankara said, “The intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion.” He wrote beautiful devotional poetry, even though he was the great founder of non-duality. Ramana Maharshi is famous for his devotion to a mountain, actually to Lord Shiva embodied in a mountain, Arunachala. Nisargadatta, after giving his non-dual talks, and half the people would leave, he’d break into raucous bhajans and perform pujas and all sorts of devotional practices. And almost every traditional non-dual teacher like that had a guru to whom he was devoted, not only in terms of his knowledge and service, but also his emotional love. And yet we just referred to three people who are all monks, and most of us are not monks, and we don’t live in monasteries, and are engaged in, or want to be engaged in, relationships with our peers, our fellow men and women. So how do we reconcile our quest for enlightenment and non-dual realization with the complexities and challenges of human relationships? I imagine that’s one of the things we’ll be talking about here. And maybe that’s a good starting point. How would you like to respond to that?
Karen: I think it’s exciting.
Karen: Yeah. To think about how from that ground that we know as the unity and oneness, each of us express that differently. Even when we’re in a state of non-duality, we call it that, we’re still aware that it’s our experience. So it’s coming through each individual consciousness. And if you’re feeling that oneness, it doesn’t necessarily mean the person next to you is feeling it, although you know it’s their nature, you know that they could have access to it. But there’s something about the fact that there’s an individual consciousness that is part of that oneness, that’s expressing itself. And that’s the beauty of really learning about what it means to be a real human being in the world, and having contact that isn’t separated from that ground. That there’s a way that the consciousness is a living consciousness that has qualities. It’s not just this kind of grey consciousness, that’s just knowledge and everything knows everything, that there’s knowledge and it’s got qualities of intelligence and strength and will. There’s many colors and flavors to that consciousness. And the way it comes through us in life are real qualities, qualities of consciousness, living consciousness, and that can interact with another living being. And the more we’re in touch with that unity, that ground, the more we can open to and become a conduit for those qualities to come through. But not just as an openness, that’s one possibility, that we’re just open and it can come through, but as a personalness. Like as I’m talking to you, I feel like I’m nakedly here and in contact with you. That there’s an in-touchness, but it’s personal. And so we need to understand what it is to have individual consciousness that’s not separated from that ground. And that consciousness develops in a way that allows us to have a sense of personalness without being a cookie cutter person. It’s a consciousness that’s a true form of humanness. And when those two human beings that are in touch, it’s like when those tips of the iceberg, of which we’re all really grounded underneath in consciousness, when those tips begin to actually acknowledge one another in their fullness and totality, that can create the appeared dual nature of relationship is actually just the individual expression of that ground. And that’s when the sparks can fly or the differences can become interesting rather than divisive and exchanges are enriching and valuable.
Rick: Let me just throw something in quick, based on what you said before, Hameed responds before, because I’ll forget it. But it seems to me that what people are seeking in relationship is a kind of a union, an intimacy. And using your iceberg analogy, the tips of two icebergs can’t actually meet if it’s just the tips. But the larger iceberg, maybe the two tips are actually part of the same iceberg, just sticking up in different places. And if people could recognize their fundamental unity with everyone else, namaste means I recognize that part of you which is part of me or whatever, we’re actually the same person expressing through different instruments. Then you can have actual intimacy where there’s total union.
Karen: Right, well that’s actually necessary. That’s why going inward and knowing what you are is a significant component of what it means to have a real relationship. You have to be willing to be alone. If you’re just going for relationship to avoid aloneness, you can’t really know that inner sanctum. That you need to be able to be alone in your nature and know it for what it is for that to express itself personally. So it’s like a tip of an iceberg that says yes I want a relationship is trying to head for the other peak and they can’t get there. And so it means settling into that deep water and feeling the fact that one’s aloneness actually is the connection. And then that can be expressed in many ways.
Rick: Nice. Hameed, you want to respond to that?
Hameed: When you mentioned the various non-dualists and how they had a bhakti connection, I also remember that you did mention that some of them were married. Nisargadatta Maharaj had a wife. Atmananda wasn’t only married, he was very devoted to his wife. So I wonder how, I don’t know if anybody asked him, how do you feel about your wife? But I remember one time when I was into non-duality and experiencing learning and waking up one night, waking up my wife and telling her, you know, you’re only a figment of my imagination.
Karen: I bet she was real pleased about that.
Rick: She said, you’re a figment of my imagination.
Hameed: That was non-duality. That’s the perspective of non-duality. Everything is your own mind. She went back to sleep.
Karen: You’re lucky that’s all she did. [laughter]
Hameed: So non-dual experience, people think everything is beside the consciousness or the vastness or the beingness of non-dual condition. Everything that manifests is not only unified but not really real. It’s sort of creation of the consciousness. There’s no real people, no real cars. They’re all one picture. As Nisargadatta said, that consciousness is the greatest painter in the world. The whole world is a picture. So that’s true. All that is true. From non-duality we see everything is just one thing. From the whole universe, all of appearance including all people are one fabric. But this fabric has variations in it, has designs. This design is all what we see, what we experience in life. Part of that design are living beings. Those living beings can know what I know. It can know consciousness too, can experience non-duality. And because of that, there can be non-dual relationship in the sense, first of all, one in the non-duality can relate to somebody who is not in non-duality. I do it all the time.
Rick: Can relate?
Rick: You do it all the time, but you think they can relate? That’s an interesting question. There are probably relationships in which, there are billions of relationships in which neither partner has an inkling of non-duality or interest in enlightenment or awakening or anything else. There are probably some relationships where one partner is fervently interested in that sort of thing and may actually have awakened, but the other is not and has not. And then there may be others where both are interested and both have awakened. So it would be interesting to sort of compare and contrast the quality, or the potential quality of relationships in those different scenarios.
Hameed: So we could discuss all of those. That’s a very good classification. So, as I said, most people are not living in non-duality. So, if I’m not living in a monastery or a cave, I interact with people who don’t know what non-dual is. But I am being in non-dual or even some other more odd condition.
Karen: And that’s really where the knowledge of what it means to be, the fullness of being arising within time and space, but not experiencing oneself within time and space, is really important. That that’s really the bridge, and it brings with it the feeling of the various qualities and sensitivities of what it means to be talking to someone who’s not where you are, or to be able to know, to also honor the value and beauty of what they are, regardless of how they know themselves. So the personal reverence for another being, regardless of where they are, is fundamental to relating to somebody.
Rick: Sure. And a person who has a nicely blossomed heart, and lots of compassion and all that, is going to have a reverential attitude toward everyone, and to animals and everything else. But I guess the question is…
Karen: That’s not necessarily personal. You can have kindness, and act in a very kind way, but it isn’t necessarily particularly responsive in that moment, in a personally contactful way. That’s got a different flavor to it.
Rick: So you mean someone with whom you live, and with whom you’re extremely familiar, is that what you mean? Are you implying bi-personal here?
Karen: No. By personal I mean a quality of consciousness that makes you feel like there’s actually somebody there. That there’s someone there, not just a compassionate presence, but a compassionate presence that’s like a feeling of “I’m here with you” in a compassionate or strong…
Hameed: It’s attuned to the other person. Attuned to the qualities, the capacities of where the other person is. To be personal with another person, you have to acknowledge, recognize, and experience and feeling who is the other person, what are they about, where they’re at. And responding to all of that makes it personal to them.
Karen: Like they’re a person in their own right, wherever they are. And what I am is… And there can be some contact there. When you’re personal with somebody, you feel there’s a contactfulness.
Rick: So you’re talking about the capacity to really tune into and empathize with whomever you’re interacting with and not just be acting out of habit or with any kind of constricted awareness, but to really appreciate the depth of the person and their individual expression.
Hameed: And it’s not just a matter of not a habit. Also, not in a generic way. People think if somebody is enlightened and they’re loving, they just love everybody generically. Because there’s love, so there’s love for everybody. By personal here we mean there is the universal love for everybody, but it can’t be personalized so specifically directed to a particular person in the way they need it. In the way they need it. There are teachers, non-dual teachers, who don’t know how to do that because they haven’t developed the personal capacity. So we’re saying the personalness is a quality of consciousness. Pure consciousness can manifest a particular quality we call personal that allows universal non-dual consciousness to be personal with a particular person.
Karen: Actually, it might be important to mention that we see there’s sort of two lines of awakening. One is an inner awakening, that inner aloneness where you are in touch with the ground and the nature of being, the presence. There’s another line that’s more of a development of that individual consciousness that develops and matures and becomes– well, at first it becomes an ego structure, but we see that as just a– not a mistake, not as a bad thing, but that it’s an arrested development in a sense. And that we need to continue the development of the person onto being impressed by being itself to go beyond and into new areas of capacity and fullness and presence. So you’re a person of presence that has the capacities to function in the world and has the relational capacity. So awakening, the first way, is not necessarily a relational development. It’s an inner identity, awakening to what you are as an identity. The other is more of a how does that get expressed personally through this conduit. So that’s what we’re talking about when we talk about– I mean, that’s why I brought it up to begin with is you have to really know what it means to be in the moment as a person before you can actually have a personal relationship. And we begin wherever we’re at regarding that, and we can use relationships to actually help one another mature. I mean, I think everybody here has been in a relationship. You run into trouble. You either work it out with somebody, and you kind of move into another level of– “Oh my God, I didn’t think this was going to work out, but actually I feel deeper, I feel more in touch with you, I’m feeling more my love.” You get vulnerable, you have to be real, you have to be willing to take that next step and really talk about how you feel, and something starts to change and grow and develop. And you either become aware that you need to separate, maybe, that really isn’t working with the two of you after many, many, many of these things you’re learning about one another, or we’re really coming together in ways we never imagined. So there’s something growing, there’s something changing, there’s something expanding between you. And that’s how we feel relationships are incredibly valuable tools for dual awakening as one, as really the relationship becomes one vortex of being.
Rick: I have an old friend that I’ve known since the 7th grade, and he got in touch with me recently and told me that he and his wife of 28 years or something were getting divorced. And the explanation he gave was that, “Well, we just ran out of steam.” And my thought was, “Well, you need to keep building up ahead of steam,” to use the steam engine analogy. And if you’re not replenishing and augmenting the steam, so to speak, on a regular basis, then it can be depleted. And just one more little bit on that is that if you don’t have the steam, then there’s a tendency to want to get steam from the other person. In other words, the relationship is about taking. And if both people are taking, no one gets. But if both people are giving, then both receive. So there has to be sort of an abundance of–an overabundance of steam. I don’t know how it got into steam. [laughter] It’s my friend’s analogy.
Karen: It’s getting interesting. Tell me about the steam.
Rick: If there’s an overabundance of that–
Karen: I like steam.
Rick: then my cup runneth over. And you have enough for yourself and more to give.
Karen: Right. But we also have needs, and those needs we want to have met. And that can create a huge implosion that puts out the fire when we feel like our needs aren’t being met. So there’s a lot of different dynamics that can come into it. And people do grow apart, and that does become a real thing.
Karen: But also, dynamics in relationships are so powerful, and there’s so much to understand there. But it can be used to fuel the fire of truth, to really find out what the truth of the relationship is, and not just, “Let’s really work on it so we stay together.” No, let’s work on it. If you’re really interested in realization, you have to be interested in what’s real. And that means between two people. And what’s true might not be what you want to have happen, or what’s the most comfortable thing, but it’ll end up being the right thing if you’re both really interested in that. So, for me, it’s not a matter of how do you keep one another together, but how do you use it to really optimize what’s supposed to come through the two of you. Which is, really, in a relationship, you can become one. So one that you can’t tell yourself apart from the other. Not in an emerged way, but that you feel it’s like a well-oiled machine when it’s working well. I mean, when you fall in love, you feel like you’re really intertwined and dancing the same dance, and you’re responding, and it’s a beautiful dance, and then something happens, and you go, “What the hell happened to that?” You know, it was so perfect. And it brings out all the stuff that isn’t that way. And then you work your way back to it. But I could chat on forever.
Rick: So let’s give you the chance.
Hameed: One thing to remember is that Karen talked about individual consciousness, which can develop and mature, which is part of spiritual development. Spiritual development has the awakening, the true nature, and the individual consciousness is always learning and developing and able to manifest different qualities, different skills. Now, a relationship is itself a unified consciousness. When the relationship becomes real, the two create a field, a unified field. And thus, unified field becomes like a living consciousness on its own that can stagnate or can grow and develop. And grows and develops if the two actually work it out, as Karen said. So I wanted to bring in that a relationship is like a person. A relationship is a being on its own. And it can be more alive and more dead. It can lose its steam, meaning, you know, just like a person, lose its steam and they get depressed. Or they become more alive, more lively, and more discoveries, and more openness. And that way the field itself expands. At the beginning, it might be just a small field between two people. But if the two people are really learning and expanding, then they both can get into an non-dual experience together. And both be in an non-dual place together. And that will be an interesting thing for a relationship to happen. So we need to talk about a real or true relationship. So when we say an non-dual, it’s a large category that includes something like a true relationship even before people know what is an non-duality. In the sense, they are real. Sometimes people are real, emotionally real. They are honest with each other. They are really there with each other. Sometimes there is a sense of presence, a sense of consciousness, even though it’s an non-dual. But that can develop all the way to an non-duality. And relationship can grow through all of those stages and further.
Rick: I wonder if the two of you would like to speak from your personal experience. You’re both married, right? So far we’ve heard about your wife being an illusion in the middle of the night. But do you feel like… If you don’t mind my asking, do your spouses have the same sort of zeal about enlightenment and awakening and all that that you do? And if not, has that created difficulties? Or if they do, then what sort of blessings do you feel that that has brought to your respective relationships?
Hameed: Yeah, that’s a good question. (Laughter) Do I want to say more? (Laughter)
Rick: Be careful because this will be online. Well, who goes first on that? (Laughter)
Hameed: My wife has been interested in the inner work from the beginning. That’s how we met, actually. We met in a work group. So she definitely is interested and has developed. She’s a teacher herself.
Rick: A Diamond Approach teacher?
Hameed: She’s a Diamond Approach teacher. She’s just not the same development that I have. So there is a mutuality, recognition of each other, and the qualities of each other, but also recognizing how the relationship has evolved throughout the time. There were times, there were intensities of being in love, and the usual things that people have. And then we became more mature as just two adults who respect each other and their qualities. And there are difficulties. There are things she does I still don’t like. I like her not to do. And sometimes she doesn’t like the way I do things, or my choices, or the way I talk to her. So all that still happens, you see.
Karen: Funny how when those things happen, you’re much less a figment of your imagination. Somehow.
Hameed: Yeah, you can talk to a figment of your imagination.
Karen: What the hell? And you go, oh, yeah. I mean, one thing that’s been awkward at times that we’ve actually all had to really work with is that Hameed and I, throughout the years, have had a very intense friendship that’s very unusual and that the work has developed through. So we have a great — I mean, nobody knows one another the way we know each other. And it’s very strong, and we have a tremendous desire to be together a lot. And so that’s put pressure on in various ways.
Rick: You must have very strong marriages, actually. I can’t imagine too many marriages in which people would have the latitude to be able to do something like that.
Karen: It’s difficult, yeah. And it puts pressure in various ways that we’ve had to work through and manage and so on. So I don’t think we’re a good example of what’s possible for everyone, but I do think it does bring to highlight how I mean, many people have very strong friendships outside their marriages. That can cause all different kinds of difficulty. People expect to have everything happen with one other person. And the fact is that you have many relationships in your life, and each one plays a very important part. I knew Hameed since I was 22, and the minute we met each other, it was like, click, that’s it. And it’s always been that way. And we didn’t marry each other. I mean, there’s a way in which we were following some kind of force that did not put us in that situation, that we had feelings for others, and marriage wasn’t part of it, but we have a kind of bond that’s extremely unusual, and it’s got a tremendous amount of power to it, and really we see that as it’s for the work. And there’s many
Rick: So it’s a finally ordained arrangement.
Karen: I don’t know.
Hameed: We sometimes wonder, how come we didn’t get that route?
Rick: Get what?
Hameed: That route to getting married.
Rick: Oh, right, yeah.
Hameed: Why didn’t we do that? Sometimes we wonder, and one of the ideas we have, probably we would have gotten too busy with kids.
Rick: Could be that.
Hameed: Instead of developing the teaching.
Karen: And getting involved
Hameed: We don’t know, but that’s one possibility.
Karen: One of the things we see that actually puts the fire out with some people is getting involved in the practical details of life, and comfort, security, all of the things that our instinctual level deals with to get established. And so working through those instinctual things is very important for people to be able to have shelter and work and all of those things, and a lot of libido that gets lost in those things.
Hameed: That’s the question that steams sometimes.
Karen: We didn’t have that issue of establishing house and home and division of labor and that kind of stuff. So I think that’s some of that.
Rick: You mentioned libido.
Karen: Who knows?
Rick: Getting lost in those things. In your case, libido wouldn’t really be a practical or useful
Karen: We see libido as showing up in every relationship. With your girlfriends, you get together and you go, “God, that looks really good on you.” You get all excited, and, “Oh, my God, you’ve got to have these shoes with that,” or whatever you do. [laughter]
Rick: So it’s a matter of how it gets channeled. It’s a libidinal thing.
Karen: You get excited, and women can be very touchy with one another. There’s comfort, there’s holding, there’s lots of different things. Or there’s the erotic. If your sexual orientation is toward another woman, then the men, they have their own way of dealing with their erotic nature with one another, the things they get excited about.
Rick: Chest bumping and stuff.
Karen: Yeah. Whatever.
Hameed: Actually, what I wanted to say was the question of steam, losing steam. What I noticed in many relationships, especially marriages, they lose steam because of the power of the instincts, the instinctual needs. Survival, safety, companionship, and all these things that become institutionalized in a marriage and stamped by the state. You’re married. Now your bank accounts are connected. Your retirement account. All of that, so the relation in time, it becomes dominated by taking care of those external, physical concern and needs at the expense of the libido and the energy. That can kill the energy and the libido because it’s like we’re comfortable together. We’re fine in the sense that we’re living together, but there isn’t the liveness. The love itself can stay there in a little sweetness, but there isn’t that passion, that power of attraction because those other things, especially as people get older, they’re very important, as you know. That’s why divorces are so difficult. Separation can be very painful and disorienting for people because the whole field of the relationship is not just a psychological, emotional thing, but has all kind of physical ramifications and safeties and support and all of that.
Karen: That’s why a lot of times people, to be able to have the intimacy, they need to actually get away from their life. They go on vacation, and then they can look in each other’s eyes and candlelight dinners and feel spacious, rather than actually practicing together, working the issues out, not distracting themselves from it, but finding time to be together and work in a way that brings in their realization of being to the relationship and take risks. People stop taking risks, is what I notice. They don’t challenge the relationship that brings the life to it. They stay with comfort, they stay with all the security, and don’t say, “This isn’t working for me. Am I willing to risk all of that for the truth of what I’m actually feeling?” Sometimes it’s little risks. It’s not like, “OK, I’ve got to dump the whole thing.” But we need to be willing, just like in our own realization, we need to let all of that go to be able to find something new there, rather than trying to get back to the same place all the time. The same thing happens externally. We have an idea of the relationship, a sense of what it was, and we try to get back to it instead of, “This isn’t happening. What’s happening? What’s going on for us?” Instead of, “Let’s try to do that again.” No, let’s find out what’s here and dip into that together. That’s a very risky proposition because you might not find anything, or you might not find what you want to find, and that’s hard for people.
Rick: What Amelia was saying about the mundane practicalities dampening the
Karen: It can. Not always, but it can.
Rick: Think of it. We all have a spark of genius. Imagine that Steve Jobs had to work on an assembly line, stamping out widgets for eight hours a day or something like that. It would be extremely frustrating and stressful, and it would kill the genius in him. And yet widgets have to be stamped. Somebody’s got to do it. So it seems to me that the practicalities of life, we all have to deal with them. So somehow there has to be a way of replenishing the genius in us, and I mean the emotional genius as well as the creative genius, and in the face of and in spite of or in the midst of the mundane practicalities that we all have to deal with, it’s kind of like being able to sort of have both simultaneously rather than either/or.
Karen: Right. Well, there’s also some elements needed for a relationship to actually take hold in this way, which is a real commitment to one’s own willingness to go in and practice, but also the willingness to really see the other and not just the projections and the ideas and the things that are, there are so many things that we put on another person that aren’t really who they are, and we begin to, we need to peel those off of somebody and be willing to really listen to them and hear them and not just want to be seen by them but want to see them.
Hameed: And having realized non-duality does not remove those projections automatically. One can be non-dualistic and realized and still project on individual people different things. That’s one thing we’ve learned. So non-dual realization does not delete all our psychological baggage, including our relational baggage. So one thing, for instance, important that we’re discussing related to our connection, to Karen and myself, for instance, one thing we discovered, how the spark of the connection continues, is, as Karen mentioned, letting it go. Several times in our 30, 40 years we’ve known each other, we thought that’s it. One of us confronted the other, didn’t like something, and we’re mad about something, and we thought that was the end of it. We both gave up on it. We don’t know what’s going to happen next. It’s called the death of the relationship. There’s ego death, there’s the death of relationship. It was dead. As far as we’re concerned, we’re dead. We don’t know what’s going to arise after that. And from that death, what arises after that, what we discover, we discover what is the real relationship, what is it, what is our relationship really, what is the connection, what is the nature of that connection. That’s what we discovered through the death. And that went through several stages, many deaths. And that is the thing that most people in a relationship are not willing to do. They’re not willing to let go completely of the relationship, believing if they let go, it’s going to be gone. Just like when you, with ego death, it doesn’t mean you’re going to die physically, although it feels that way.
Karen: But you actually feel like it is.
Hameed: It feels like it’s going to die physically.
Karen: At those junctures I thought, “Okay, this has all been great.” I can’t imagine life going on without this friendship. But that looks like what’s happening. Grief comes, all those stages, feeling frustrated about it, angry about it, grief, hurt, all that, and then it’s like this different levels of emptiness kept showing up. And then something started to build again. “Well, what are you feeling?” “Well, I’m feeling this way.” And that’s actually how we began to discover different ways of experiencing reality. So we began to use the relationship actually for our realization.
Rick: It sounds like it was sort of a shifting of gears. You can’t shift into second gear until you pull it out of first gear and so on. And there’s kind of an intermediary stage between first and second, and second and third, when you’re not in any gear there for a moment.
Hameed: And you don’t know that there’s going to be another gear. You don’t know. Just like in ego death, you don’t know if this is going to be the end or not. You give up, you surrender, you think that’s it, it’s going to be the end of everything. And then the illumination arises, and there’s a rebirth that happens. And you realize, “Oh, you still exist, but in a different way, as a being of light, as a non-dual unity or whatever.” The same thing happens with relationship. And that’s what I noticed. For most people, they just don’t have that idea. They don’t think that relationship can die and be reborn. They don’t know that. They think relationship can get negative or positive, it goes up and down. But to completely die, completely gone, and come back again, most people are just Most books, actually, about relationship don’t mention that. And for us, it’s really an important teaching about relationship. And that is how, if that happens, the steam is powerful. The steam is the new rebirth of steam, of energy, a different kind of energy, a different kind of connectivity, a different kind of love, different ways of knowing each other, different things we know about ourselves and each other. And that is a potential of this relationship.
Karen: So we’re at runaway realization together. But what I’m realizing right as we’re talking is that that’s the way we approached our experience from the very beginning. Just wanting to find out what it was. And we kept losing what we thought we were going to run up against. Whatever realization we were in, we’d stay there for a while and recognize essence or any quality of essence, and then emptiness and love and all these dimensions. And then we’d wake up one day and it’d be gone. And then we’d want to have it back again. But that wasn’t what was happening, so we had to let it go. And then we’d realize another dimension of something. So it’s really how our entire process in our solitary realization went. And then at some point it became much more focused on our relationship and what our relationship was about. So the same thing started to happen relationally. And I think part of the dynamism between us is what unlocked certain secrets about unilocality and some of the things that Hameed was talking about in his talk. Some of the different ways of looking at things that are beyond dual and non-dual that actually happened because of our relationship. And I think that’s part of the design or something that was happening that took us to the point of being able to use the duality for the dynamic flow to happen, to open things up. It needed a supercharge kind of situation.
Rick: Speaking of shifting gears, I’m going to shift gears here and throw out something and see where it takes us. This might seem a little strange, but Robin Williams famously said that God gave man both a penis and a brain, but unfortunately not enough blood supply to run both at the same time. [laughter] think the same can be
Karen: Yeah, she was smart, wasn’t she?
Rick: Yeah, so think Bill Clinton, for instance. Or that the same applies to women. That astronaut who put on diapers so she could drive all the way from Texas to Florida to intervene with her romantic rival or something and not have to make bathroom breaks on the way. [laughter] Remember that about five years ago? So people do crazy things when they get stirred up. And it seems to me that the energies that are responsible for the nourishment and blossoming of the heart are the same energies that are responsible for that crazy stuff. And it’s kind of a matter of channeling them appropriately and learning how to channel them into higher expressions, perhaps. Not to say that there’s anything wrong with the physical expression of them, but in many circumstances it’s not appropriate. And so if those energies are stirred up, rather than chasing them into the immediate temptation, learning how to redirect them and have them nourish the heart and the mind and everything else. What do you think about that?
Karen: That’s true tantra, actually. It’s not acting out on whatever feeling you’re having, but learning how to hold it in such a way that it’s not containing it, but allowing the energy to flow and letting that express itself and bring understanding.
Hameed: You know, people think that we are two. We’re not.
Rick: You mean you and I? Or you and her?
Hameed: Yeah, Karen and I.
Rick: The reason I said that is the last time I interviewed you, you said our hearts are one.
Hameed: Yes, I was experiencing that. I can experience it again. But in general, there is the capacity to be one with somebody else. That arises, the capacity to be one with another does not arise from non-dual experience. Non-dual experience doesn’t make you feel that. It makes you feel you and the other are not separate. But there are other kinds of realization where you feel you and the other are one and the same. And that is–you can experience this with anybody, with anything. However, Karen and I, we discovered that we are one all the time. We’re always the same. To the same degree? Or is it
Karen: We’re Siamese twins.
Rick: Yeah? Separated at birth?
Karen: Never separated. Never born.
Hameed: So we’re one in some interesting ways. Not everybody is going to find that in their relationship. But it happens in human life that some people two people–they can be married, can be friends. They might not even know each other, but they’re one. They’re two sides of the same thing.
Rick: You mean like a soulmate kind of thing?
Hameed: It’s even more close than soulmates. It’s one soul.
Rick: Ah, well that’s interesting. Have you ever had any kind of past life flashes about where you both came from?
Hameed: Sort of have some of that.
Rick: I mean, I’ve heard that said that sometimes a single soul will split into two and occupy different bodies to serve various functions and so on.
Hameed: Yeah, sort of like that.
Karen: That’s what it feels like.
Hameed: Yeah, so as a result, it’s easy for us to be one. We’re sitting next to each other and we’re one. And different kind of ways one. You know, sometimes we’re walking, go walk together. We just went on a walk. And Karen says, “Who’s walking?” And I say, “Nobody.” And when I say nobody’s walking, I don’t mean there are two nobodies. One nobody. Nobody, that is one. That is very paradoxical in language. But experientially it’s possible to be one without the one being a body, or being an object. But one as a condition of realization. And there are different degrees and different levels and different kinds. That’s the thing about relationship. You see, that’s the thing, I think, why we called it non-dual. We thought this should be called non-dual relationship because people think non-duality, how do you have relationship? Non-duality doesn’t make sense. And some non-dual teachers say relationship are not important. But there are, although many of them are married. So you wonder what they think of their partner. But then the question is, people also don’t know there are other ranges of relating to somebody else different from the usual. Different ways of being intimate, being connected, being in contact than are familiar to us. There are many kinds.
Rick: Do you want to give a few examples? Well, Karen talked about the contact, feeling personal contact. The other one is the one you reminded me when I felt our heart were one. Another example I just gave you that we are one. Sometimes we are one as one presence. Sometimes we are one as the non-dual universe. We are both the non-dual universe. Without us, we are two. We are neither two nor one in some sense. We are both. There are two in the sense that we’re talking to each other. But there is one we are the same being. And that same being be non-dual or can be an individual being. And there are many others. I can come up as we talk. I’m saying the crucible or the context of relationship is rich possibilities of discoveries, of learning about our humanities and our potential, including our spiritual potential, that many people don’t know about. The average person doesn’t know about. And many people who are involved in non-dual teaching don’t know about. You need to go to other ranges of experience to find out.
Karen: I think that for most relationships, what we would say is that love really is the connecting link. And the feeling of an attraction to somebody, whether it’s a friend or whatever kind of relationship it is, that love plays a central part of that, that brings people together and makes you want to be close or acknowledge the closeness that’s there. I mean, I know mothers that actually they love their children, but they don’t necessarily like one of them. And they feel bad about it, but they don’t like the person that they’re becoming. But their love makes them feel they want to nurture them and all of that, and then they can’t wait for having to kick them out of the house or whatever they do. But love is part of that relationship. Love is a very common denominator of the person that you want to be around or near or with. But that love can express itself in many different ways. It can mean an intimate relationship with someone. It can mean a friendship. You know, there’s different kinds of love, but that’s a very important thing. It’s a feature of relationships we have. We don’t just have the same relationship with anyone. When we’re in a total non-dual condition, we actually feel that well-being and openness, goodness toward everyone. But there isn’t the specific love coming in a specific way to a specific person. So this brings in the whole question of what attracts us to a particular person, what brings that kind of love. It’s a much larger question than just, “Oh, it reminds me of my father,” or “Am I this or am I that?” We don’t know. It’s a mystery what draws us. And as we work through the things that have drawn us, if it is mostly based on history, if we’re really wanting to know the truth, those layers of the onion peel away over time. And as we work through them, we can actually ignite something that’s deep within that onion, more central to what’s real. But some of us are attracted to people who we know from the minute we meet them that there’s a surge of “Yes.” There’s a big fat “Yes” here, and I don’t understand it. My laundry list is not happening here. He doesn’t look the way I think he should. He doesn’t act the way–he doesn’t have the education he ought to have. He wears the way wrong kind of shoes. And I’m totally in love. I’m in love. And what is that love? It’s drawing you to that person, and you have no control. There’s absolutely no control over who you fall in love with, and something else is attracting you. So there’s a lot already in usual experience. You don’t have to be mystical to fall in love and follow that.
Rick: Well, you know, as Buddy Holly said, it’s so easy to fall in love, but the trick is to stay in love but obviously not in the sort of hormonal frenzy that might initially characterize falling in love, but something that will stand the test of time and continually be replenished and redefined as you go along. So does the diamond approach have techniques or approaches or practices or something to facilitate that?
Hameed: Yeah, we have inquiry. We know our main approach is inquiry.
Rick: That sounds like an intellectual thing. I think of the heart as being such an important thing.
Hameed: Maybe you could say something about inquiry. How is that intellectual?
Karen: Okay. Inquiry for us sounds like an intellectual thing. What we do in inquiry is we validate all the capacities of the human being. There’s the capacity for discrimination that is a mental faculty, but you have to, for inquiry to deepen into being and actually follow that continuum, you have to love the truth for its own sake. And that has a power to it that builds over time. The more you get in touch with who you are, the more that love is really the fuel, and that becomes the dictating force. So that’s the beacon, is what’s my experience right now? And that brings the belly in. What am I feeling right now, whatever it is? Whatever I’m feeling, that’s what I’m going to go into. And I have to be able to accept what’s here, whether it’s a reaction, maybe it’s an aspect of my being that’s showing up, it’s some kind of feeling of reality. Whatever my experience is, I want to know the truth of that. And that is where the heart’s main force of love and draw deeper into what that real inner beloved is. So it’s a love story, it’s a fire. And the more we’re on fire with a question of, “What am I? What does this mean? Who am I? And where am I going?” The more you’ve got the desire, really, that’s how we use desire. That brings in the belly, that brings in our libido, of feeling that energy for inquiry. It’s not just taking the blade of truth and going into your experience and circumambulating. No, the more you’re on fire with a question, the more you feel like you really want to know. And I really feel like I’ve been pondering this and I’m experiencing this feeling and I want to know its nature. The more that’s there, the more that allows that blade of truth to cut through the layers of the onion and show what they are and peel them back so that we understand the situation. But it’s not an understanding with my mind, it’s an understanding of, “Oh, there’s impressions and hurts and wounds and feelings that start to flow out.” And as we see those and understand them, we experience the opening to something else. But it has to be really fueled by the love to know. It’s got to be really a curiosity fueled by love.
Hameed: Inquiry for us is experiential. Ramana Maharshi called his method inquiry. And the main inquiry is, “Who am I?” Our caution is, “What is the truth of what’s happening to me now?” “Where am I now?” “What’s going on?” I mean everything, not just what I’m thinking. What am I feeling? What’s happening in my body? What state am I in? It’s trying to find out what is that. And that is continual inquiry that if you continue it, it will peel all the layers of the onion to reveal the underlying illumination.
Karen: Because the blade is from the inside. And that fervor to know the truth, is that truth rising up? We think of it as the questions that are showing up, and we understand them, and then something emerges that helps to deepen, and you have an insight when actually something’s moving through. It’s bringing the questions that’s tickling the mind, the heart, and the body to open to it. If we look at it from the outside in, it looks like we’re having curiosity, and we’re interested, and we’re loving the truth. But actually this arising is our nature coming to the fore, that’s throwing those things out like breadcrumbs to follow in, kind of.
Hameed: But this started you asking whether there is a method about working with relationship. And I wanted to say inquiry, but it’s a different kind of inquiry. It’s a specific inquiry that has to do with relationship. We call it dialectic inquiry, in the sense that two people, like you and I, are inquiring into our relationship at the present moment. What’s happening now? What are we feeling? Is it like you? Are you scared of me? Why? What’s that about? Are we both feeling the same thing or differently? What are they? That is what we call dialectic inquiry. A dialectic inquiry requires, besides the individual inquiry, which involves heart, body, and mind, all of it together, it requires a mutuality, mutual respect, mutual consideration. It requires reciprocity, people reciprocate, not just one person engage. It requires openness to mutual influence.
Rick: To mutual influence.
Hameed: If there is no mutual influence, there is no dialectic inquiry. I have to be willing to be influenced by you, and I have to be willing to influence you. When we interact that way, there is an inquiry. The dialectic inquiry is an interaction, a living out of the relationship, but in a way, not only living it out, living it out to find out what it is, to let it grow, to let it develop.
Rick: Let’s say that, hypothetically, my wife and I would decide to go to Berkeley and get involved in the diamond approach, and we heard you explain all this. What would you send us home with to do on a daily basis to actualize what you’re saying and actually make progress?
Hameed: I saw some of the element to it. When I first taught dialectic inquiry, I spent 10 days retreat. Each day, each meeting, two meetings a day, each meeting was a different element of it. It’s pretty involved teaching. It has many factors, facets to what needs to be looked at. There is responsibility. We have to be responsible for ourselves and responsibility of how we impact the other. I mentioned respect. There is a valuing of oneself. There are many things involved in dialectic inquiry, and they’re not all easy for most people to be responsible for themselves. In a respectful way for the other person, it is a mature thing to do. Not everybody has that kind of maturity. It is a practice. We call it a practice because it takes time to learn how to. It’s a skill to develop.
Karen: It also requires that you have a certain level of knowledge of what you are on your own. If you flew out to Berkeley to get involved in the Diamond Approach, what you’d find yourself doing is getting involved in a group that would teach you practice, or a personal teacher maybe. We have different ways that we do it. But someone who would teach you practices and meditations on your own and work with you to get you in touch with yourself. The dialectic inquiry actually evolved down the road. It was something that just showed up, and it became part of a development of the individual consciousness that we were talking about earlier. You would learn more about what it meant to be in touch with your essence. What’s you? And be able to speak from there, and to be able to have some development of the more personal level.
Rick: We have about ten minutes left, and we want to take time for questions. I can keep coming up with questions. I can follow up that with a question, but I want to make sure that we give the audience the opportunity to ask something if they want to. So, does anyone have something? The guy in the back with the red shirt and the vest. Wait for the mic.
Hameed: Yeah, the microphone.
Audience member: I have the following question. I discovered recently, you see, that what gives strength to my love is that there is involvement also on another plane. That is to say that me and my lover, apart from loving each other, in addition to that, we are both passionately interested in something. And then I found out that that what made this very strong, very strong loving connection. Can you say something about that?
Karen: I’m not sure I understood that.
Rick: I think they share a mutual passion for something, and that has solidified their connection and made their relationship more solid. Is that what you said?
Hameed: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. Suddenly we found that apart from love, we also got together, like, say, for example, into teaching, certain kind of teaching. And it is this process of working together on something else that absolutely strengthens that love between us.
Karen: Well, if I’m understanding you correctly, getting involved in something passionately, especially when it has an effect of enriching you each personally on your own, actually enrichens both of you at the same time. To actually have that, like for Hameed and I, what really stimulated our relationship and allowed us to actually let it go at times was the fact that we loved the truth more than we loved what we were going to get from each other. And that that truth was the core of our teaching. And that we love the teaching, we gave our life up for the teaching, we’ve given up many things in our life for the teaching. We will continue to give up many things in our life for the teaching. If it comes to whether it’s going to be good for the teaching or just good for us, it’s whatever is going to be good for the teaching. And that passion about that actually is what our relationship circumambulates around. So to have that kind of passion for something, especially when you’re discovering new things together and discovering truths about yourself in relation to that, that has just a flowering effect. And always just being focused on one another for that is again the two tips of the iceberg trying to connect when actually you’re wanting to go into something else that’s really connecting both of you. So I think that’s great to have that.
Hameed: I think that kind of passion you talk about is really what happens in many good friendships and many good collegial relationships, people working together.
Hameed: Collegial relationships. And they are involved in studying the same thing passionately. An interesting relationship develops there. It can be a lifetime relationship.
Rick: Okay, we have several questions. And then the mic lady can decide where to take it.
Karen: Mic lady.
Audience member: So I’m also a Diamond Heart teacher, no, a student for about the last two and a half years. So I love the inquiry process. One thing I’m curious about is when you mentioned one soul, and I’ve had similar experiences with various different people in my life, and I’m wanting a little bit more description of what that looks like. And my experience has been that I was so connected to certain people that even not being in the room with them, I could feel their presence, and their presence could be talking to me. And it was different than a soulmate relationship. And I was wondering if you could speak a little bit more about the one soul relationship in relationships.
Rick: If possible, let’s try to give concise answers so we can get two or three more questions. See if we can do that.
Hameed: I remember when we–we didn’t always know that. It was a discovery. It was a spiritual discovery. At the beginning, we didn’t like it. We didn’t want to be one. Everybody wanted to be ours. I wanted to be myself. She wanted to be herself. I wanted to be autonomous being. So it took a while for us to accept the fact that we are one. So people who like being one from the beginning, I wonder what kind of one they’re talking about, whether it’s really real. The real oneness we’re talking about is very challenging, very scary. Most human beings wouldn’t want to. People want to be themselves. And they think themselves means autonomous, singular. So to be one, which can happen, first of all, we need to know it’s challenging, it’s scary, and it’s rare at the same time. But it does happen.
Karen: I think one thing I can say briefly is what you’re talking about, too, has to do with a loving connection with somebody. Mothers and their children, or parents and their children, often feel they’re connected. Twins very frequently will feel things that are happening. So there are different kinds of connections. So it would take a long time to explain all the different ways. But it might not be one soul, but it might be knowing the presence of somebody else in a way that connects you to them.
Hameed: I think there are a few instances in history when that was the case. One famous one that I remember is Rumi and Shams. That’s an example of how a spark happened between two people. And people thought they were two people. But the way Rumi talks about it, you could see some places how he and Shams are one.
Audience member: There’s a line from Rumi which goes, “Be the friend, then you can eat from a poison jar and taste only clear discernment.” So my question is about this dimension of the friend, not a friend or friendship as a category or a special case of relationship, but of a dimension in relationship that comes and goes. There’s an ebb and flow to it. So for instance, my son and I are not friends. But there’s a dimension of friendship that can go up and down. And similar experience with students and colleagues that some quality or dimension comes in and it has its own elusiveness and fragilities. And so these thoughts have been arising in witnessing your relationship, and I’d love to see you reflect on that.
Hameed: It’s a natural thing for that to happen, that there is an undulation, friendship, marriages, all that, that ebb and flow. But the question is, what is the actual relationship? Not what the people feel about it, not what the two people think about it, but what is it really? When you remove the beliefs and the ideas and the history, what’s left? And that, sometimes we’re aware of it, and that connection, but sometimes we get busy or we get distracted by other things, or we get involved in other things. So that proceeds. And when it proceeds, a different kind of relationship can dominate. But the thing about all kinds of relationships, any kind, whether parent and child, friends, collegial, student, teacher, is what is the true relationship? Because most people, what they know about relationship is what they think of each other, what they feel about each other, not the ontological presence of the relationship itself. What is its reality? And we are saying it is possible to find out and to know it. [audience member]
Lissa Deniston: Hi, thanks so much for all of this. I’m Lisa, and this is Dennis. We listened to the Conscious Love program that you did for Sounds True, which was really helpful for us because we met about two years ago and have had a very unusual relationship, not a romantic relationship, but a very strange relationship that it was helpful for us to hear that program. One of the questions that we’ve had, and this has been one of the real struggles, is that we’ve had a lot of what I now know is called tele-somatic events, where, for example, Dennis is in Peru doing an ayahuasca medicine journey, and I’m throwing up in California having no idea what’s going on with me. Or I’m breaking up with my boyfriend and feeling devastated, and he’s having chest pain. When we don’t know intellectually that these things are going on, and it’s been quite terrifying. When you were talking about the autonomous being and that feeling of, like, we don’t want this, I don’t want to be yoked to this person who’s making choices and then I’m having consequences of them. And so it’s created a lot of challenges. I just wondered if you could speak to that a little.
Rick: I’m going to be interviewing this lady in a while who had this profound, rather spontaneous awakening, and her cousin also had a very profound, spontaneous awakening at the same time. She was in a social relationship context in which she was able to get understanding and support, and her cousin ended up in a mental hospital. But it’s interesting that the two of them had this sort of soul connection or something that caused them both to pop at the same time. And you guys have this soul connection. That’s what I’m talking about. Maybe you do too. Maybe there are people who just have this bond that they’re not aware of what the roots of it may be, but they go through this kind of thing.
Audience member: Dennis Wilde had a spiritual emergency. Shortly after we met, Dennis had a spiritual emergency, and we worked through all of that and had to get a lot of support and had no idea what was happening.
Karen: Well, it would take a lot. I feel I’d be a little bit ahead of myself to say, “Oh, I know what that is.” But I would say, obviously, there’s an important connection, and it’s important to inquire into that meaning, to stay abreast of what’s happening, to actually see what it is that’s occurring and see what you can understand about it. How much of it is the connection? How much of it could be other things simultaneously? I mean, there needs to be patterns that, if you’re going to be scientific about it, to really not just jump to a conclusion, but to actually see what kind of patterns they are, how they emerge, in what ways do they emerge, and try to understand it and get in touch with, “Well, what is going on?” Actually, when we’re together, what do we experience of one another? What is happening in terms of our consciousness right now? And see if you can find those elements.
Hameed: Relationship, we need to remember, being one is just one kind, rare kind. Most relationships are two people interacting. That’s what relationship means. And we need to value that. We talk–this whole interview is–we’re making that important, that relationships have their own value, their own truth, their own value. They have their creative value, but also value for their inner work, for the development of both. Any kind of relationship–collegial, friendship, marital– but just relating to two people or a group of people together, they can have a relationship. As we know, when there is a group involved in a project, like in meditation or doing something together, that creates a field that’s powerful that everybody benefits from when we become involved. And that’s a kind of relationship.
Karen: Like everybody here.
Rick: Yeah. Well, yeah, a conference like this creates a whole that’s more than the sum of its parts, and energy gets generated. There’s a saying–towards the end of the 10th mandala of the Rig Veda, there’s a saying that an assembly is significant in unity. And there’s a whole beautiful thing, but it has to do with the group of the enlightened coming together and something very profound getting generated from that that wouldn’t be generated were they just to be individually scattered around. So I think we’re just about out of time. Any final thoughts before we wrap it up?
Karen: Thank you.
Rick: You’re welcome.
Hameed: Nice talking with you. And it’s good we have people this time.
Rick: Yeah, we have some people.
Hameed: We have people, we have questions. It’s nice to have everybody here. Thank you.
Rick: And I just want to say I’m always interested in the practical thing. So people are going to be listening to this in South Africa, in Thailand, in the Moscow, all over the place. So should they basically just, if they’re interested, read your books? Or is there anything more they can do without having to travel to Berkeley?
Karen: Well, we just opened a program of Diamond Approach online, and we’re going to start putting things through that. Because we notice there’s lots of different disparate things about the Diamond Approach on the net, and we’re trying to bring things together and really put out the trunk of the tree instead of having all these leaves everywhere. So we’re putting out the teachings in a way through the Diamond Approach online.
Hameed: The books are good. The book we wrote together, The Power of Divine Errors, is a lot about relationship, really, different kind of relationship.
Rick: Yeah, I hope we talked about enough of the points of that. I had a whole lot of notes in it we didn’t get.
Hameed: People can learn a lot by reading the book.
Karen: And what is the erotic nature of relationships of all kinds, not just intimate.
Rick: So I’ll link to that from the BatGap website. Is there anything else? What’s your main website you’d want people listening to know about? DiamondApproach.com or something?
Hameed: At the present time, Ridhwan.org.
Hameed: Yeah, R-I-D-H-W-A-N.
Karen: And we’re in the process of rebuilding it at the moment. And we’re going to have Diamond Approach online go through it. But that would be a good place to start.
Rick: Okay, it won’t be hard to get in touch if people want to do it. They can figure it out. B
Audience member:And I understand you don’t need to go to Berkeley. We do it in New Zealand, Australia, and all over the world.
Karen: Yeah, there’s groups everywhere.
Rick: Okay, that’s good for people to hear because otherwise they might just give up or lose interest or something. They thought they had to travel.
Audience member: But can I go to Berkeley?
Rick: Yeah, you can go to Berkeley. It’s all right. You’re welcome to.
Karen: We’re popping up everywhere like Starbucks.
Audience member: Can we see you in Berkeley personally? Is it possible to see more of you? Do you teach, live teaching?
Hameed: We do live teaching sometimes.
Karen: We have lots of teachers too.
Hameed: We have many teachers.
Karen: So there’s different groups, there’s different events.
Hameed: We have a teaching school. So we have many teachers. The two of us teach some groups together. And sometimes we do public teaching.
Karen: I think there’s a new group developing right now. There’s some flyers upstairs that the teachers sent along.
Hameed: There’s a new group going to open. So you can take that information.
Karen: That’s one way.
Hameed: I’ll be involved in that, teaching that group.
Rick: And like anything else, I suppose, the more you get into it, the more you can sort of interface and, you know.
Karen: There’s no way to unpack all of it in one hour.
Karen: For sure.
Rick: Just a taste.
Karen: 50 year.
Hameed: We haven’t discussed yet the different realization, different from non-dual, how relationship happens. That’s a whole field.
Karen: That’s a whole other thing.
Hameed: That’s a whole field. A whole field, you see.
Rick: Okay. Well, thank you all for coming.
Karen: Thank you.