Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest today is Harri Aalto for his second interview. I did the first one a few months ago and if you haven’t watched it you might even want to watch that one before watching this one. We received a very nice response to Harri’s first interview, both Harri and me. He got maybe 600 emails from various people, some of whom he’s still in communication with and I got all sorts of comments like, “Cancel everybody else and just interview Harri every week.” So some people really resonated with that interview. And I’m going to start with a lot of questions that people sent in to Harri on the basis of that interview, and then there’s some other sections we’re going to cover in the course of this interview. Might be a long one. So I’m just going to start asking these in the order they appear.
Harri: Okay. Well, here I am again. I don’t know how you did that again, but here I am. Thank you for having me.
Rick: Well, you liked the first one.
Harri: I did. I was very appreciative. Let me just say a few words. I was actually quite intrigued and surprised by the response. Getting hundreds of people emailing you isn’t my normal existence, and I tried to answer the questions and inquiries and so forth as best I could. I didn’t get to them all, but I got to a lot of them. And I was also surprised by the depth of some of the questions. They were profound, mostly appreciative, but not always, and they were deep. They were good questions and we’re going to try to cover some of them today.
Rick: Yeah. And you also had people wanting to come to Fairfield to see you and wanting you to go and teach retreats in various places and so on, which you don’t do as of yet, but it was interesting that that got stirred up. So I’m just going to take these in order. It’s somewhat random, but I’m sure that a lot of nice material will emerge as we go on. So here’s the first question. What is the difference between no-self and all-self?
Harri: Well, you know, if I have a main story to tell or an experience to relate or an understanding to communicate, it’s that the growth of consciousness is inclusive, not exclusive. And there are movements. There’s pure consciousness, fundamental. Everybody has it. Some people are aware of it, some people aren’t. And that pure consciousness can be seen as empty or can be seen as full. It’s been my experience that there’s a younger person, in my experience there wasn’t much there, but it was there, 24 hours a day, always there. That’s called awakening, right? The first stage of awakening to me is that stage where you see this primordial consciousness that’s universal. And then my experience was that that consciousness grew as it became brighter, fuller, richer. It wasn’t so dark, it wasn’t so small. It started revealing its true nature and the true nature of the relative and the subtle relative. That’s what I’d say about that. Do you have a question on that?
Rick: No, but it reminded me of something I wanted to say, which is that in the last interview I introduced you as being possibly the most articulate person I had interviewed.
Harri: And I objected to that, yes.
Rick: Yeah, and afterwards I thought, “No, articulate isn’t the right word.” I’ve interviewed plenty of people who are incredibly articulate, you know, they’re experienced teachers, experienced writers.
Harri: Yes, very intellectual, very sequential.
Rick: But I thought of a metaphor to perhaps distinguish you from a lot of the people out there, which is that most of the people in the world think that I am a wave and I see myself as separate from all these other waves. And then teachers come along and say, “You’re not a wave, you’re the ocean.” And some people realize that experientially, “Oh yeah, I’m the ocean.” And then other teachers, I’d say a little bit more nuanced, say, “You are the ocean, but you’re also the wave, you’re both, individuality and universality.” Now what you’re saying is, “Okay, yeah, you’re the wave and the ocean, but look, within the ocean there’s all kinds of detail. There’s fish and whales and seaweed and crabs and all kinds of stuff going on within the ocean.” And you don’t hear too many people – and I’m obviously using a metaphor here – but you don’t hear too many people out there in the spiritual circuit talking that way about the fine fabrics or the fine details within the unmanifest, within consciousness. And I think that’s an area in which you are extremely articulate –
Harri: well, there’s the word
Rick: I think in that respect you are articulate, you can say a lot about that stuff.
Harri:Well, I’d like to add here that none of these fish or whales or squid or whatever swimming around in the ocean eliminate the ocean. The ocean I experience just like many, many people do. It’s an unbounded field of consciousness, it isn’t disturbed by anything, it’s there, it’s always there. And perhaps in my last interview you might have thought that I was only talking about the structure or the details of it, but I’m not, I’m talking about the whole phenomenon, the ocean will never be anything other than an ocean. What’s in the ocean – and you know, some people think there’s nothing in the ocean, and that’s true, on one level there’s nothing in the ocean. If you talk about the absolute, pure, unbounded silence, it’s pure, unbounded silence. In my experience there’s an experiencer to that silence. And when there’s an experience of somebody saying, “Well, I have this experience,” that experience is already something. It’s some fluctuation, however silent. So I’d like to make that point. The ocean is always there. I recognize if somebody has the ocean, that’s the fundamental first and most important experience of wakefulness, is being aware of that ocean of consciousness, absolutely.
Rick: Yeah, and we’ll get into questions about this later, but some would say, if you’re kind of getting hung up on all the details of angels and subtle beings and subtle levels and all kinds of stuff that’s going on, which is what we’re referring to when we talk about fish within the ocean, the subtle mechanics of creation, then you’re kind of regressing because you’re getting caught up in stuff which ultimately is maya, ultimately is illusory. If you’re really settled in enlightenment then you don’t care about all that stuff, you’re just down to the foundation bedrock of creation and you reside there without any
Harri: Yes, but nobody’s talking that that ocean goes away. The point is that the ocean is there along with all this other stuff. The point is that you’re not sitting there like Buddha with a big belly, you’re also with eyes open having the same experience, the same experience of that unbounded ocean of consciousness along with everything else. A person who has a fully developed consciousness doesn’t suddenly not see the daily relative – drives a car, stops at a red light, doesn’t drive through the red light, stops, because that’s the thing to do, right? Self-preservation is still lively. Now, pure consciousness, if you look at it from just the level of pure consciousness itself, you could say that – I said this analogy last time – when it’s clear, when it’s full, it starts like a flashlight and ends up like a floodlight and then turns into an illuminated field of consciousness that shines on everything and gives it its full value. It doesn’t go anywhere, it’s always there. I acknowledge the fact that all the non-dualists and the Advaitis have something very significant in their consciousness, pure consciousness. It’s great, that’s wonderful. My experience was that that pure consciousness is just like what I’ve said, it’s a light that illuminates whatever comes into its proximity, it doesn’t eliminate it.
Rick: Does pure consciousness have a proximity?
Harri: I said whatever comes into it, that’s a figure of speech. Pure consciousness is everywhere, but so is the fluctuations of pure consciousness, the subtle relative, and even the gross relative, it’s everywhere, it’s a universe. It’s all one continuum, and yes, it’s all one level of consciousness, seen by people who are traveling towards it as it were now. Somebody might say there’s no path, and ultimately if you want to look at it holistically, there is no path. On the other hand, we all are moving towards something. If somebody wants to eat something, they have to go to the grocery store and they go buy it. It doesn’t matter if you have pure consciousness or don’t have pure consciousness, you have to go to the grocery store to get the food. We call that a journey. Consciousness is like that. You’re moving towards recognizing something that’s already there. That’s true. That’s been my life. There’s always that sense when there’s a new experience or a new level that it’s always been there. There’s always that feeling there. Now, the only thing that my experience has been that every time I see something, say it’s a celestial level, as long as that celestial level or the devas or gods or goddesses, whatever you see, doesn’t obscure the pure consciousness, it’s a valid, good experience. If all you see is the subtle relative, then that’s not good, that’s like being lost in the gross relative, same thing. It’s all in reference to the Self, in reference to the wholeness of the experience.
Harri: All right, let’s go on.
Rick: What do you feel is the main benefit of self-realization?
Harri: In my case, it’s a sense of contentment that comes from the knowing. It’s a very simple analogy, you know. Let’s say somebody has the world’s most valuable ruby, but it’s still rough cut. Maybe they don’t even know what it is, so they have no value. They own the ruby, it’s worth millions of dollars, but they don’t know what it is. What value is that? Some expert geologist comes along, looks at this raw stone and says, “Whoa, do you know that that’s a very valuable ruby?” “No, I didn’t know that, I’ve had that for generations.” Suddenly that knowledge – what does that knowledge do? That person is very ecstatic, his life is being transformed, right? That’s a very common analogy, but it’s very true. So what I’m saying is that the understanding of the reality of your own experience, the understanding that there is this field of consciousness that can illuminate the gross relative, the subtle relative, everything in your life can enhance it – that knowledge alone is worth having wakefulness for. It’s quite apart from the fact that it makes you happier.
Rick: Can one person help wake another person up?
Harri: Well I had a lot of people say, “Help, help, can you do something for me?” And in the same way that we’re talking about understanding and knowledge, how understanding enhances experience that’s already universally available, yes, understanding can help, but everybody is different, right? And people ask me, “So if you’re having all those experiences, why don’t you change the world, why don’t you enlighten this person, why don’t you do this?” Think about it for a second. If there was such a human being on earth who could, let’s say you could enlighten me, that would upset the entire fabric of creation. If there was a healer on earth who could heal everybody, that would be the end of civilization as we know it, everybody would get healed, and there would be lines going around the world to see this person. But that’s not how it is, we have our own lives to live. Now, miracles as far as I can see are fortuitous events that happen at the right time to the right person. They don’t happen randomly. I can’t suddenly say, “Hey Rick, you’re awake!” And you say, “Oh, thank you, Harri, that’s wonderful!” But nobody has had that, the Rishis, the Gurus, the greatest people on earth, haven’t had that ability.
Rick: Yeah, but there are a great many famous and some not-so-famous people who seem to have a knack for being catalysts to others’ awakenings. Many people awoke in the presence of Ramana or Papaji, or some of the contemporary teachers Adyashanti, Pamela Wilson, various people have a pretty good track record in terms of catalyzing or facilitating spiritual awakenings among those who come to see them.
Harri: Yes, I agree with that. Pure consciousness is universal, it’s in, around, through everybody. It’s there, some people are aware of it, some people aren’t. So let’s say a person comes along who actually has this experience and he begins to describe it. Let’s say you’re close to that experience but you don’t know what it is, it’s there, you don’t know it’s there but it’s there. So the right person comes along at the right moment and starts describing it to you. So suddenly the jewel that’s in the rough stone is described to you as what it really is. Yes, you can, “Oh, yeah, I get it, I get it.” That can happen, of course, and it does.
Rick: But when you talk in terms of description, that has more of an intellectual connotation, you know, you’re clarifying somebody’s intellectual understanding, but how about the transmission quality?
Harri: But that’s what I’m saying, an awake person does not talk intellectually. He talks.
Rick: He may, he may give lectures and talks.
Harri: Yes, but it’s not intellectual. If the person is awakened,
Rick: he speaks from his experience. And so what I’m saying, in terms of what he can convey to others and how he can convey it, he can use words, but a lot of teachers say, “Well, it’s my silence,” which is the real teacher here, “My words are just sort of filler, and if you’re getting anything from me it’s because of sitting in my presence,” and there’s a kind of a contagiousness to sitting in the presence of an enlightened person, a transmission which is supposed to be conducive to awakening.
Harri: If a person is awake, his speech is the speech of enlightenment. It’s not just a transmission of an emanation, his speech is the same. Speeches can convey the subtleties of pure consciousness, of awakening to somebody else, of course, but if that person isn’t at the right time, in the right moment – otherwise a teacher like that could enlighten everybody – they can’t.
Rick: Well yeah, I mean, obviously they can’t have 7 billion people in their immediate presence, and if they have 10, let’s say, those 10 are going to be at varying degrees of receptivity.
Harri: That’s my point, yes.
Rick: Well like Amma used the example of a log that’s burning brightly can kind of ignite other logs if they come close to it. And maybe one log is dry and ready to burn, another log is kind of waterlogged and soggy, and it’s not going to ignite very easily. But if a log has the readiness to burn, there’s a greater likelihood of it igniting in the immediate presence of an awakened person than if it’s just off someplace, without such a person to sit with.
Harri: I do have trouble with saying that all you have to do is sit near a person and that person will get it, okay? That’s a little bit far-fetched.
Rick: And most of those teachers don’t say that either. Some of them say, “Well, I can only do so much.”
Harri: Yeah, you’ve got to do something, you’ve got to practice, do some meditation, you have to be ready for it. I think we’re in agreement on that.
Rick: Okay. okie dokie, “How is it possible to be eternal or experience infinity since everything seems to be ending?”
Harri: You know, that brings up the whole thing of the ever-changing relative. Our daily lives seem to be nothing but a series of events that begin, go somewhere, and end. Like that’s relative life, the universe seems to function that way, right? There’s a beginning, a middle, and an end. And then this whole concept that many organizations or spiritual movements talk about, that it’s all an illusion, it’s all “why go there?” And in terms of a person who doesn’t have pure consciousness, I totally agree. If you don’t have the pure consciousness established 24 hours a day, then the relative appears to be not worth much. You can become afraid of it because it’s always ending and at the end of your life you’re gone, it’s over. Now, a person who wakes up has the experience that at first there’s a separation that takes place. In some organizations it’s called “cosmic consciousness,” there’s a big separation. Pure consciousness is separate from your activity, separate from your senses, your body, your environment, your friends, the world – it’s just separate, it’s just there. You don’t really know what it is, it’s just there. It’s self-awareness itself. It knows itself, but whoever you are doesn’t know it. So from that point of view it looks like an illusion, it feels like an illusion.
Rick: The world does.
Harri: The world does, yes. The relative life seems like it’s a waste of time. Now, as that separation becomes less and less, let’s say it’s here and let’s say the rest of life is here, and it gets closer and closer and closer, call this a light. Call pure consciousness a light. You begin to recognize, “This is the kind of you here,” and it gets bigger and bigger. This is not really happening because it’s already happened, you’re already one state of consciousness, but you’re realizing that. And as you realize the fundamental experience of pure consciousness, it begins to unite everything on the understanding, deep, deep understanding level first. There’s a growth of consciousness in terms of the illumination or the expansion of the self. The expansion of the self means that the changing value of the relative begins to be known in its non-changing value. Remember, pure consciousness is everywhere. It’s not just the relative that’s just here, it’s everywhere. Now, the trick is, or what certainly has happened to me and certainly has been my experience, is that neither the experience of pure consciousness or the experience of daily life, relativity, neither of them actually change in any way. The absolute doesn’t turn non-absolute, the relative doesn’t turn non-relative, it continues to appear to change. The illusion is that there’s the appearance of change, it’s an illusion, it’s an appearance, it doesn’t really change. Even the relative doesn’t change because it’s permeated by pure consciousness, infinity, the absolute. Now where I might differ from other people is I would say that even the silence is a field of fluctuating knowingness. It’s actually the ground state of all relativity. If it’s a ground state of all relativity, then the relativity is also absolute, is also non-changing, is also eternal. Every single moment in the world, whether it’s spiritual or New Age talks about, you can wake up, there’s a field of infinite life, eternity, you can experience the absolute. What does that actually mean? It means just that, there is a field of absolute. It’s not absolute life for the absolute, absolute life for some nebulous, huge, unbounded nothingness, it’s infinite life for you and for me and for everybody else. If they can realize that, if they have the experience of wakefulness, then ultimately you begin to realize that everything is that, including the small self, including the senses, including the body, including your friends and environment, and all of that is infinite in the end. All of that has infinity as its base value. Now, as long as it’s something you don’t know, then you might as well say you’re not. You don’t have an eternal life. You have an eternal life if you know it. It’s not the absolute that has the eternal life, it’s something else. And my experience – I went through maybe a decade where I had this huge abstract experience and I was looking for, “Who’s having that experience? Where is he? Where’s that person? Who’s having it? Is it just unbounded, absolute knowing itself?” Because that was my experience, this kind of a unified knowingness that everything was unbounded, everything – the relative, the subtle relative, gods, angels, everything – all unbounded, pure consciousness. But who was having that experience? There didn’t seem to be anybody there, nobody home. That went on for about a decade. And what happened over time, it’s hard to put into words, but let’s try, that unified, abstract experience started turning more concrete, more physical. Somehow, I’ll tell you how, but my senses began to function and move within that absolute, without coming out. It didn’t disturb that absolute consciousness, that absolute fluctuation of wholeness. Even the senses did not disturb that. And soon as I had an inkling of that, I said, “Aha, that’s where the I is. That’s where the big I is, the little I is, the middle size – all the knowingness that I’ve had for all these years actually has a center, has an experiencer.” And I realized in a flash and had the experience that between the absolute and the relative is that experiencer that holds them together and holds them apart, sees the absolute, sees the relative. At that point, when the knower, my knower, your knower, you are a knower, and there’s a kind of a point-value personality there, as well as a universe, that knower as if ties the entire experience of togetherness, all the layers of creation suddenly say, “I am that. They all are that.” So nothing is excluded, the experiencer says, “I am pure silence, I’m also pure dynamism.” At this point the relative life, daily life, takes on the same quality, even though it remains exactly the same. On the understanding level, sensory level, experiential level, the daily life takes on the same value as the absolute, while remaining regular life, no longer seen as an illusion, seen as the fully glorified aspect of the self, one of the fully glorified aspects of oneness. There is one state of consciousness, I agree with that, but that state of consciousness recognizes and is all the different layers as well.
Rick: This reminds me, the last couple of weeks I’ve interviewed a couple of physicists, one with Peter Russell, and he wrote a book called “From Science to God,” and then last week Bernardo Kastrup, who wrote a book called “Why Materialism is Baloney.” And with both of them, the discussion came up about the mechanics of creation. And on the one hand we are always saying, “Everything is consciousness, it’s all consciousness,” and yet how does consciousness become flesh and paper and metal and stars, or does it? Because if you look closely enough, you find that those things are also very insubstantial. This appears to be a hand, but if you go down to the subatomic levels, it’s just probabilities and there’s really nothing going on. And Bernardo actually tried to distinguish between inanimate things, such as cups, which there’s nothing that it’s like to be a cup. A cup has no self-consciousness, and animate things. And we got into a debate about where you draw the line between what’s alive and what’s not alive, and so on. And he used the analogy that it’s all water, and a whirlpool in water is nothing but water, but it has a sort of existence as a whirlpool, and it has a sort of self-reflective quality, where one side of the whirlpool could reflect the other side of the whirlpool. Whereas he distinguishes with something like a cup, which it’s more like a ripple in the water, it hasn’t become a whirlpool, so it has no self-reflective quality. So the question is, if everything is nothing but consciousness, absolute, and this is perhaps an eternal question, and the great mystics have been baffled by the mysterious nature of maya, but how is it that consciousness absolute appears to assume form without actually losing its quality as consciousness absolute? Because if it can lose it, if consciousness can become plastic or metal, then it changes, and if it changes it’s not unchanging. It gets converted into something else, so it’s relative like everything else.
Harri: Yeah, that’s true, that’s a perennial question, right? And I started writing about just that thing, how does the absolute manage to remain absolute in the process of becoming the objective world. And I’ve written maybe hundreds of pages of stuff on that, and let me see if I can summarize it with my experience of that. Yes, there is a process. The reason I call experience “pure consciousness” on its fundamental level, because it’s conscious, conscious of itself, I also call it “pure intelligence.” Intelligence has a quality of intelligence. That intelligence is, let’s call it “the packets of knowledge that have imbibed in them the seed values of relativity.” Now, relativity doesn’t have any validity on that level, because on the primary level of pure consciousness everything is eternal, it’s always fluctuating. In Indian terms it’s called “the ved” the fluctuations of the universal consciousness and individual consciousness. Now, those packets or those reverberations of knowledge, how they become, how they objectify from this subjective field of consciousness, how do they become? I loathe to say this because somebody will accuse me of being a know-it-all, but I see that, I can see how that takes place. I wasn’t going to cover it in this meeting. I’m going to do a little bit of that. I got to a point in my experience where there was nowhere else for me to go to understand it other than because I was looking for how to describe that entire process that I’m experiencing, how pure consciousness becomes this moving consciousness, becomes this subtle relative consciousness, and becomes this gross relative, as they say. And it doesn’t really become that because it’s already that. There’s the answer, it’s already that. That’s the answer to if a person’s consciousness is aware of the pure and unbounded consciousness, aware of the subtle relative fluctuations of consciousness, intelligence as it’s fluctuating, as it’s becoming conscious, more objective, and as it becomes the world of the natural law, or let’s call it the natural elements – sun, air, water – all those elements of nature that make the body, the sun, the air, all of those things, there’s a process that’s taking place that’s maintaining you. Those are also part of the process. And once you get to that level, it’s only one little step into the gross relative. So you’ve got this continuum of consciousness, it can be seen, it can be known. Now the ancient Indian rishis of course described this in the four primary Vedas. I wasn’t going to talk about that.
Rick: Talk about anything that comes up.
Harri: So they have the Rig Veda, the Sama Veda, the Yajur Veda, and the Atharva Veda. Those are the four. Keep in mind I’m not a Vedic scholar. I’ve had an experience and I put it into this framework for understanding because I haven’t found it anywhere else. So Rig Veda is described as – there’s a word called “sanghita”, it’s pure consciousness, pure unbounded consciousness. That’s how the rishis called the Rig Veda. Everything is included in this Rig Veda. Sama Veda is the movement of that consciousness. I see the movement of that consciousness as if part of that pure consciousness. It’s imbibed in it, it’s everywhere. The self-awareness of this abstract field of consciousness is called Sama Veda. It’s also extremely blissful. But the movement of consciousness is already somewhat physical. It’s moving, it’s fluctuating, it’s doing. And there’s that word I used last time, Sama Veda. The movement of consciousness is one of the aspects of the experience that I have. I see consciousness, I see its movement. Some people will immediately say, “Pure consciousness can’t move because it’s pure, unbounded, immovable.” I agree, it’s pure, unbounded, immovable. But I also experience a field of consciousness that actually moves along with that. It does not obscure, neither is obscured. And then there’s the Atharva Veda, which is the subtle relative. In Indian terms it’s the devata level. In Christian terms it would be the heavens and all the angelic beings that the mystics have described. And so it’s a continuum. There’s this pure consciousness, there’s this movement of pure consciousness, then there’s the celestial level, the divine level, the subtle relative level, one continuum. Now you might notice it’s going from the abstract to the movement, and that’s a little more concrete than the abstract, going towards the movement, going to the subtle relative level. That’s more concrete, but it’s still divine, not in most people’s consciousness. Now if you’re just lost in the field of that, you know, angels and gods, then that’s no good. It’s no better than being lost in relative life, no better than being lost in the Absolute, where nothing exists. So the fourth field of Ved would be the Atharva Veda, that would be a description of the relative.
Rick: Yajur, you haven’t mentioned. I think you already mentioned Atharva Veda.
Harri: I’m sorry, Yajur is the subtle relative, and then the Atharva Veda would be the last. It’s a description of the, let’s call it just our daily lives, universal existence on the gross level. So in Vedic terms, which actually relates to my experience very clearly, is that there’s these four levels. Now they’re not independent levels, they’re not one, two, three, four, they’re one field of consciousness. So I agree with that. There’s one consciousness, and for the sake of articulating that one consciousness, for the sake of understanding that – here’s the jewel again, okay? This jewel has value because it has all this detail, it has this wonderful detail, it has this unbounded quality, it has this movement quality, it has this divine quality, and it has this relative quality, all of which makes one eternal, unbounded consciousness, which is what eternal life is all about. You can’t change that, that’s a reality. Everybody will eventually get there.
Rick: Let me ask the same question in a slightly different way. One thing I kind of ran into with Peter Russell, I think if I understood it.
Harri: We’ve only gone through three questions so far.
Rick: I brought my pillow and my blankie and my teddy bear. The quality of intelligence, I mean, long before there were living beings who could have discussions like this, there was an evolving universe, if the Big Bang Theory is correct, and stars were getting formed and stars were exploding and reforming and heavier elements were getting created. But if there had been anyone there to really examine it closely, they would have seen that all these processes were being carried out by very profound and precise laws of nature – gravitation and electromagnetic, all the laws of nature that physicists currently understand. So it didn’t take any kind of biological life to understand all that, and even now, things happen in the world without biological intelligence. There’s an intelligence governing creation itself, and biological intelligence is just one expression of that. So what fascinates me for some reason is that whole issue of intelligence. The word “consciousness” has kind of a plain vanilla connotation, it’s flat, nothingness. But it’s so much more than that, obviously, if we look to the display of it in creation. There’s just such infinite intelligence governing every tiny particle and every vast galaxy and everything in between. It’s one seamless orchestration of intelligence, everything infinitely related and infinitely correlated. So how does that relate to your experience of the actual mechanics of what is going on, and what is this intelligence, both in its universal value and in terms of its individual agencies, the expressions of that intelligence which conduct the manifestation and governance of creation?
Harri: That’s a pretty heavy question.
Rick: I want a heavy answer.
Harri: You say, where’s the biological component to this apparently mechanical, almost random ?
Rick: No, no, no, not random, nothing’s random. And biology is just kind of an offshoot of a much vaster intelligence which exists whether or not there’s any kind of biological expressions. Whether there’s human beings or newts or anything else, the universe is this sort of beautiful display of intelligence. And you’ve described to me in the past, experiences of deep laws of nature that are actually responsible for the whole show.
Harri: Well that’s what I was going to get to, is that as soon as you say consciousness, as soon as you say intelligence, I immediately have the experience of, let’s call it cosmic biology. Let’s put the word “God” in there for a moment. And you could take the word “absolute” and exchange the word “God” there. You know, in this age we don’t talk about God as much, you know, we have more scientists, they like to talk about the absolute and the vacuum state and all these things. But when I listen to a physicist talk, particularly a physicist that’s really kind of delving into it, it sounds very much like what I’m experiencing. Now if I were to describe my experience in terms of light or movements of consciousness, I can see the structure, and it looks like all those terms that physicists use, I forget what they are, but you know, “quantas of light” and all that.
Rick: Yeah, there’s force fields and matter fields, and quarks and leptons and bosons and all that stuff.
Harri: It looks exactly like that to me. Right now, if I were to describe my experience to me, I would see pure consciousness and I see all these sheets and waves and points of light, they’re fluctuating and they’re crossing each other, there’s points where they cross, they spiral out. This field of unbounded consciousness which doesn’t move, is immovable, on its surface, as it were, surface being everywhere, it’s not one-dimensional, it’s all-dimensional. There’s this field of fluctuating sheets and waves and points and twirling ricks of light. I can see it, I can see it now. And I see these going into those four fields that I talked about. They bifurcate, as it were, they get more and more complex, but the complexity becomes more and simpler and simpler, because all these little points and fluctuations, they make a wholeness. It’s like your body, you know, on one level it’s a simple unit, we’re all the same, we’re running around doing what we do, we’re a body. It’s infinitely complex, yet we’re still just, I see a guy walking, “How simple is that?” or whatever, right? It’s one body. In the same way this pure consciousness looks to me like a cosmic body, like God. How can I say that? In some way, little old me, little old you, we’re related to that. I don’t want to use the word “entity,” but let’s say just “God,” let’s just use the word “God.” We’re related to God.
Rick: Tom Traynor used to like to say, “Sense organs of the infinite.”
Harri: You could say that. In a sense you’d say the elements of nature are the functioning of the sense organs of God. That’s one way of talking about it, right? So what we’re saying, describing this absolute experience and those four levels that I talk about, they’re not levels independent of each other, it’s one continuum of consciousness.
Rick: So when you’re seeing all these streams and points of light intersecting and doing all this stuff, it’s not like just some kind of
Harri: It’s not random.
Rick: It’s not random and it’s not some kind of meaningless visual hallucination. You say you’re actually
Harri: Some people might say that.
Rick: Some people might say that, yeah. But you’re saying that those are actually the mechanics of creation that your perception is allowing you to apprehend, to whatever degree. Maybe it’s not 100% complete, maybe there’s even more going on.
Harri: Yeah, I’m sure there is.
Rick: But you’re kind of tuning into something that is integral to the manifestation of the universe on an actual visual level.
Harri: Yes, and it’s undeniable to me, personally, because my daily life is not disconnected from that subtle relative. The subtle relative is not disconnected from this absolute field of pure silence, they’re there simultaneously. I can’t deny that they’re there. And it’s not just a knowingness, it’s a visual, auditory, sensory, I can literally taste it, even. All the senses are part of that. That’s why I like the word “wholeness,” and I know that it might be hard to understand. Imagine if your inner experience is not inner experience, it’s actually inner to outer experience, and that inner to outer experience includes pure consciousness, the subtle relative, and the gross relative, all as one continuum. Then the knowledge dawns on you that “what isn’t absolute?” Nothing in this fluctuating field or this beautiful field eliminates pure consciousness. Pure consciousness does not eliminate those subtle fields, nor the so-called gross relative, which has ceased to be gross, it’s now found itself in its full value. The full value of the relative is the full value of the subtle relative, the full value of the subtle relative is the full value of the absolute. And I loved your analogy at the beginning, describing the ocean, yes, you’ve got all these things swimming in the ocean, the ocean is not disturbed in any way by all this stuff, and there are not distractions to the wholeness. Quite on the contrary, what I found, my experience has evolved over 40 years, it didn’t happen overnight. Every time I had a new experience and maybe I’d get lost in it for a little while and say, “Oh, this is so beautiful, this is glorious, whoa, man!” But it was like a puzzle, another puzzle piece. And what happens when you see a puzzle piece put into a puzzle, you see a bigger area, right? So it reveals more of the puzzle, you see more of the scene, or whatever the puzzle is. And then there’s five pieces missing there, and you suddenly have this experience, or you find the puzzle piece, you put them there, what happens? Well suddenly there’s a panorama. So in a sense, all of this, after a certain point of clarity of consciousness, everything that happens expands the field of unboundedness. And of course it’s already unbounded, but since my physiology and my senses and my body is only having a certain amount of that, it can keep growing. Well you know how to put that.
Rick: Like you were saying at the very beginning, the infinite is already infinite, has always been infinite, unboundedness is always infinite, but it’s a matter of how much we can appreciate it. And you don’t necessarily go from A to Z in one second, it’s a progressive growth, and there’s always more to appreciate.
Harri: Yes. Let’s take a few more questions, so I don’t get a million questions, “Why didn’t you answer my question?” I think we may have answered this one, what is this illusion that everyone talks about?
Harri: Yeah, let’s leave that one alone.
Rick: I think maybe the next one, “Describe what it means to be awake to pure consciousness.” I think you’ve already done that.
Harri: We’ve done that, yeah.
Rick: Okay, but let’s touch on this one just a little bit more. Why do you always talk of subtle layers? Are they not just another form of illusion?
Harri: Yes. And they are another form of illusion if that’s all you’re experiencing.
Rick: Yeah, if you’re hung up in them.
Harri: If you’re hung up in a celestial or some angel or god or something, and all you have is that experience, or you have some psychic power or whatever, and that’s what you have. Pure consciousness is not there, but this wonderful or not-so-wonderful experience is there. If you’re lost in that experience to the exclusion of pure consciousness, yes, that would be the same as running around the relative and not having that experience of pure consciousness, same thing on the subtle level.
Rick: And it seems that by the same token, you can get lost in the absolute. There’s a phrase in the Upanishads which says, “Into blinding darkness go those who worship the relative, into even greater darkness go those who worship the absolute.” It uses slightly different terms, but it’s almost like if you become a fundamentalist of the absolute, dismissing all the relative implications and levels of experience, that is just as incomplete as what people ordinarily do, being hung up in the relative and unaware of the absolute, if I’m interpreting that verse correctly.
Harri: And everybody has to realize he said that, not me. No, but you have to give full glory to the absolute, right? Because that’s the fundamental experience of wakefulness, is do agree with you in principle, but I would never put down the absolute because that’s where my experience started and is still there. That has never changed. Pure, unbounded consciousness is a field that starts small, it’s a flavor’s taste, maybe a kid kind of knows it but doesn’t understand it, so it doesn’t mean much. And then perhaps you have pure consciousness at night sometimes and you wake up in the morning and you say, “What was that? I had all this stuff.” But it’s dark, it’s small, it’s here, intermittent, and over time, let’s say it becomes permanent. By the time it becomes permanent, it’s substantial. You’re walking down the street, you know, “What is this pure, what is this thing?” And then it gets clearer and clearer and clearer and clearer. I don’t believe that clarity ever stops, because there’s almost an infinite distance to go to the infinite. Now, at some point you realize that you are that unbounded field of consciousness, and at another point you realize not only are you that unbounded field of consciousness, you’re also it’s also fluctuations, it’s second phase, it’s movement phase. And at some point you realize not only are you on the subtle level of understanding and experience that movement of consciousness, even the relative, your daily life is part of the story of that consciousness. And at that point you start thinking, “Well, there’s some kind of wholeness here, some kind of knowingness that includes everything.” So yes, pure consciousness is fundamental, but in my opinion, in my experience, so is the subtle relative, so is the gross relative. The gross relative is kind of an illusion if you don’t have pure consciousness, and if you don’t see the connecting links between the subtlest to the grossest. The connecting links is the experiencer. There’s so much talk about, “Well, there’s no experiencers, there’s no ‘I,’ there’s nobody having the experience.” Well, go ahead and die if you like, because that’s what you’re describing. But you’re not describing that, you’re describing an experience, somebody’s having it. Now, the somebody that’s having that experience of the Absolutes is very, very, very subtle. Very subtle, it’s so subtle that it’s not recognized as an ‘I,’ that’s how I look at it, and ultimately it will be.
Rick: Yeah, I mean there are a lot of people out there who say, “There is no ‘I,’ there is no person,” and so on and so forth, and they go around teaching that way. So you’re saying that there is one, but it’s so subtle that you can miss it, even if you’re in some kind of awakened state. I mean, people who are not in an awakened state, they practice self-inquiry, “Who am I? Who am I? Who am I?” and they never find anything substantial that they can say, “This is the kernel of my existence, the ‘I,'” and hopefully eventually they arrive at unboundedness and they realize, “Oh, I am that unboundedness.” But you’re also saying that there is some kernel, there is some individual knower who stands at the door between the Absolute and the relative, and that’s subtle and takes some time to actually recognize if one ever does.
Harri: Every guru, every teacher, every movement throughout time, from the ancient rishis to the present teachers and luminaries, they all open their mouth and say stuff.
Rick: Based on their experience.
Harri: Based on their experience. If the case was that nothing matters, no path, it’s all unbounded, don’t have to open your mouth at all. But it’s not like that, it’s just not like that. On the day-to-day level, we all need a little help.
Rick: Yeah, I mean there are even teachers who say, “You don’t need teachers, you don’t need techniques, you don’t need anything of that, but keep coming to my meetings.” They actually make a joke out of that. Okie dokie. “Does one need to meditate to progress since pure consciousness is already everywhere?”
Harri: That’s a good question. We’ve kind of covered it, but you want to become a good violinist, what do you do? You practice, right? It’s really that simple.
Rick: The flip side of this question would be, if you’re realized, if you’re awakened, if you’re enlightened, why would you need to meditate? And you said in the last thing, “Well, I have a body and the body needs rest,” but if you’re really established in pure consciousness, doesn’t that sort of silence of pure consciousness constantly sustain and refresh and rejuvenate the body without having to sit down and engage in a specific practice?
Harri: Well, is my hair white? Yes. Is every guru or teacher, I’m not a guru or that, but they’re aging.
Rick: They all age and die.
Harri: Yeah, so yes, it’s a good idea to close your eyes once in a while and have an authentic technique from a good tradition, and practice that because it rests the body. But apart from that, everybody meditates according to the level of their consciousness, so if you’re awake your meditation is different than somebody who isn’t awake. There’s no denying, if I close my eyes I have different experience when my eyes are open. I’m not saying it’s greater or better, I’m just saying it’s different, and that’s enjoyable.
Rick: Here are some points from our friend that we’ll talk about more later on. But in a profound awakening – this friend of mine who I mentioned in the last interview who sent in a lot of rather skeptical questions, and we’ll come back to these other questions but in a profound awakening there is not one shred of difference in experience with eyes closed and eyes open. No division between inner and outer, if one’s mindstream has been stilled, which is why meditation is no longer desirable or even feasible. It is clearly seen in experience that all there is is the Self, silence, and one is that. Where would one go for more of anything? Every moment is meditation, empty of self-will, doing God’s bidding. Awakened people who meditate are not talking about a compulsive formal meditation, they are just sitting in silence enjoying the view. A mantra is a vehicle, and once the river has been crossed the vehicle gets discarded. To want to go somewhere twice a day that is other or better than where we are is illusion. If there’s an expectation of more or better or different, then we’re still processing. Only the mind craves more, better, and different, and thus the seeking continues. The real reason why continuing to meditate while claiming liberation is that we feel incomplete. If further evolution is to take place, it will unfold by itself. It’s not something we could make happen by formal meditation after a certain point.
Harri: I think that does it. That’s what we’ve been talking about. That’s kind of like saying that’s the opposite of what I’m saying. Just like essentially the difference between Advaitic thinking and my thinking and my experience is that I say everything has value, has full value, eyes open, eyes closed, that tree out there, this room has value in terms of the Self. When the experience is in the Self, totally within the Self, then all the experiences are enjoyable or not enjoyable in terms of the Self. In terms of the Self means that you’re inside the ocean of consciousness, everything has come inside. It hasn’t been thrown into the garbage heap of life, it’s been absorbed into the wholeness of pure consciousness, and it exists there as an experience. In order to become immortal or have the experience of infinity, everything has to be included. There has to be an experiencer, there has to be an “I,” there has to be a knower. And if there’s a knower, if there’s an experiencer, if there’s any experience whatsoever, and it doesn’t matter how non-dual you’ve become, you can see the wall and the tree and the car. I’m saying that all that experience becomes the Self, known as the self. But since it doesn’t disappear, it takes on its full value. It’s there anyway. If you say, “I am all this, but I am not all that,” that’s certainly a legitimate experience of this state that I talked about, this CC state. It’s separate, it has no meaning. You’ve kind of jumped into the absolute without incorporating everything else. Now, when I close my eyes there’s pure consciousness, when I open my eyes there’s pure consciousness, when I sleep there’s pure consciousness, it’s always there, it’s been there forever. Okay, it’s always been there. Always and never will. Nothing disturbs it. If I’m in pain, it’s there. If I’m not happy, it’s there. If I’m happy, it’s there. It’s always there. So I agree with that, there’s nowhere to go. However, I continue to experience everything else as well. And everything else that I experience kind of adds to, is within, is part of the experiencer of the silence who’s inside the silence. Inside the silence reveals what the silence is. The silence is non-movement, movement, the subtle relative and the gross relative. All is one continuum of consciousness, one enjoyed, understood, experienced phenomenon of consciousness. And to say that, you know, if I … you know, there was somebody complained about, because I move around a lot, that guy can’t possibly have any experience, I mean, he’s twitchy,
Rick: he’s jumpy.
Harri: I mean, a person like that can possibly … well, we’re all different, you know, a horse doesn’t look like me and Rick doesn’t look like me. We’re all different and we have different personalities. And whether we’re awake or not awake, we all act differently.
Rick: Well, I mean, Nisargadatta was kind of jumpy himself. He was very animated and, you know, shouting and gesticulating and smoking cigarettes constantly, and he’s regarded as one of the most enlightened people.
Harri: All right, well good, I’m glad you’re saying that. I did have one or two people say that, you know, kind of awful, you know. But no, and there’s no real answer to what she’s asking, because what she’s saying is completely true on its own level. Pure consciousness does exist, it doesn’t move, it’s always going to be there. Now, over the years I realized that kind of along with that pure consciousness, everything else is included and you could say that it’s pure consciousness as well, but it doesn’t lose its value, it doesn’t go away. I filled my basket with it.
Rick: Yeah, I thought of an example that might help to illustrate it, you know, using our ocean analogy from the beginning. One might say, “Okay, if this person has realized that he is the ocean, then continuing to meditate is like taking cups of water and dumping them into the ocean. What does he expect to add by taking cups of water and dumping them into the ocean?” But the way we use the analogy, “continuing to meditate” would be more like, “Oh yeah, I got it, I’m the ocean, now let’s explore within myself and see what can be discovered here, this fish and this underwater formation, this coral reef.” There’s an endless world for exploration and it doesn’t mean that you’re sort of becoming more ocean-y as a result of that explanation, you’re just becoming more intimately familiar with the finer details of your own self, of what you already know yourself to be.
Harri: Okay, I like that analogy. And looking at it a little more fundamentally is that, let’s say you’re this ocean of consciousness and you see this or you see that or you see that, the ocean doesn’t move but you see all this stuff that’s in it. The more of these points that you see, the more of them that are connected, they’re kind of like the microscope and telescope that is the self that looks at the wholeness, the self that looks at the ocean. And because there’s more of those points and there’s more connected unity to the whole thing – and this is just words now – it feels like the mirror of consciousness can see pure consciousness even bigger, even bigger. The more of that structure of consciousness you see, you’re kind of cleaning the mirror and you see more and more of this purity, there’s more and more of the silence, more and more. And seeing more and more of the silence doesn’t denigrate or put away the points of silence or the movements of silence, quite on the contrary, they complement each other. There’s controversy in Vedic circles as to how do you explain the absolute, how does the absolute manage to not eliminate everything, because it’s absolute, it’s already everywhere. And the only way, in my experience, is that there’s something just as absolute as that, equal to that.
Rick: Which is?
Harri: Pure consciousness, it’s the knower. The knower is unbounded, his fluctuations are everywhere the same.
Rick: Are you drawing a distinction here between the absolute and pure consciousness, like they’re two different things?
Harri: No, two absolutes. Three absolutes, sorry, there’s no other way to put it into words. Let’s put it this way, if there was nothing but the absolute, nothing but silence, you wouldn’t exist. That’s not how I experience it. There’s the silence and then there’s this knower of the silence who is just as unbounded as the silence, just as unbounded. And because he’s just as unbounded, just because I’m just as unbounded, I can look at the silence and say, “Yeah, that’s silence. Yeah, it’s immovable, it’s always been there, always will be, but so will I.” How else can you say it?
Rick: And that knower of the silence, which is just as unbounded as the silence, that is all one knower that you and I and everyone else are? Or are you saying that somehow there’s the Harri Alto knower and the Rick Archer knower and so on, that are each just as unbounded as the silence?
Rick: The second thing?
Rick: So there’s 7 billion unbounded knowers?
Harri: There’s trillions. Yes, yes. Well, you have to know it to know it, but yes.
Rick: So I guess what you’re saying is that every life form, at the subtlest level or at the junction point of the absolute and the relative or something, contains an absolute body or an absolute form which is unbounded and just as silent, just as unbounded as the absolute, as the silence, and that is the instrument through which the silence is known and lived.
Rick: I think what I’d like to do now for the next bit is read some passages from posts that you’ve posted on your blog, and just use those as springboards for discussion. And then maybe we’ll come back to some of these other questions again. K
Rick: So one of your blog posts is entitled “All-Inclusive Awareness,” and I took snippets out of these that just sort of jumped out at me a little bit. It’s “I am no more active with eyes closed or eyes open. Also, I am no more still with eyes closed or eyes open.”
Harri: Do you like that?
Rick: I don’t know, for some reason that jumped out at me.
Harri: And that’s the case. You know, this pure consciousness, this overriding, overarching experience of pure consciousness is this immovable silence, right? And that immovable silence – these are just words again – has become kind of like the eye of the self, the ears of the self, and whatever is seen, heard, tasted and touched feels like it’s part of that silence, like that. So when I open my eyes it feels like I’m not going anywhere, I’m already there, I don’t leave from anywhere because I’ve already left. Yes, that’s the sense of an awakened person’s consciousness, that everything’s been accomplished, except all experiences are additions. There’s an aspect of pure consciousness that’s active, that’s constantly growing, constantly becoming clearer, and because of that clarity, like I said earlier, because of that clarity and the movement of consciousness, the silence of consciousness also appears to become greater, like that bird analogy – clear blue sky, right? Clear blue sky, nothing there, zero, you don’t see anything, but you know it’s there. A bird flies across the sky or something across the sky, a plane, and suddenly the sky looks immense. And in terms of pure consciousness, the more of those points that you see, those illuminations, those fluctuations, the bigger, broader silence appears to be.
Rick: Yeah, even I get that. When I do something really dynamic, like traveling and I’m going through an airport or something like that, airports are particularly like that because they’re so chaotic, there’s so much going on, but it seems like it stirs up the silence even more, that you feel even more contrastingly this deep, profound silence in the midst of all that chaos.
Harri: Yes, that’s pretty what I mean.
Rick: And I would imagine you also even see the chaos and the people and all the hustling and bustling as silence also.
Harri: Well, imagine for a moment, if you actually saw your consciousness, imagine that you can see silence, see it. What does it look like? It looks like a field of self-awareness, the seeing of it is inside of the experience. And when the seeing of silence is inside the experience, then it’s like a cosmic eye. It does not eliminate what you would say or somebody else might say is out there. It says, “I am that also,” because you’re within the silence, the silence is everywhere. That sight doesn’t come out of the silence when it’s looking at the tree or the bird or the other person, it stays inside, as it were.
Rick: So here’s an excerpt from the blog post entitled, “The Wonderful Diversity of Unbounded Awareness.” I hear personified intelligence, I see personified intelligence. And interrupt me if you want to comment as I go, if I haven’t finished.
Rick: I am aware of and participate in a divine social structure of divine beings of nature. We cohabit all the layers of creation in complete harmony and natural awareness. The fullness and complete divinity of this space is my oneness with God. With the divine social hierarchy that is kept lively by the dynamics of the eternal relationship of God and His creations, I realize that the absolute does not break up and the relative does not emerge. I am both realities together in their fullness. And I actually think this other part is from later on in the thing, so maybe you want to comment on that first part.
Harri: You would pick that one.
Rick: I like that stuff.
Harri: What I’m talking about is the subtle – let’s call it the subtle relative – the subtlest aspect of relativity, where consciousness is very lively and these kinds of experiences can be had and are being had by any consciousness that’s dwelled in pure consciousness for some time and become habituated to pure consciousness, begins to see the subtle relative as well. The subtle relative is extremely close to pure consciousness, extremely close. It’s part of the fabric of pure consciousness. And in terms of God, starting from the grossest level people are devoted to God, right? They’re devoted, “Yes, give me this, I want my children to be happy, I want whatever I want.” And then as consciousness grows, you begin to sense on a feeling level of God’s presence, right? Maybe in your heart, you say, “Oh, what is this? It feels like God is in my heart or in my consciousness somehow.” And then as that gets clearer and clearer, perhaps the senses get involved in that experience as well. You know, great Christian mystics have described how they see the heavens and the hosts of heavens and all these hierarchies, and so have the Hindus and so have the Muslims, all of the Buddhists have all talked about these levels. I’m not talking about them as something that you go after, I’m talking about them as part of the experience of pure consciousness becoming clearer and clearer and seeing the fine fabrics of its own nature, your own nature. That’s how I’m talking about it.
Rick: Here’s something related to that. From the same essay, “I experience innumerable beings of light flowing into a centered heaven that is my heart, a universal space of cosmic and individual dimensions, a huge cosmic cone of energy structured from millions of devas, all streaming into my heart, the heart of God. I experience this one great creator, the one great God, shining self-effulgent in the center of creation. What a wonderful secret.”
Harri: Maybe we should have kept it a secret. Yes, that’s my experience.
Rick: All the time? Or when you tune into it?
Harri: One of the things that happens, which is kind of interesting, a little bit of an offshoot on this. Years ago I’d have to go somewhere, you know, somebody would ask me a question, I’d say, “Oh, let me think, let me think, yes, okay,” and then at least I could go there and I could find an answer. Now, in the last so many years, I don’t go anywhere. Whatever I experience comes out of my mouth. If it doesn’t come out, I don’t have it. Now, that particular experience is – what to say about it? It’s there. It’s simple, every experience is simple. It sounds glorious and it is glorious, but it’s also so simple it’s not funny. And I have to say at this point that all these experiences that I describe are infinitely simple. And the reason they’re infinitely simple is because they’re in terms of the self, which is the simplest state of awareness. And if they’re in terms of the self, that means they’re close to the self, or they’re reflected in the self, or they are the self, therefore they are very simple. Everybody can have them, anybody can have them, that’s what I’m trying to say. Anybody can have flashy experiences, but they come from that established state of silence.
Rick: Yeah, I think the reason you’re saying that is that there’s a concern that people might get sidetracked by flash and just fascinated with that while neglecting the simple foundation of it all. And I understand that, and people do do that. And the reason I bring up such experiences is that it’s a little bit different. I feel that sometimes enlightenment or realization is dumbed down in terms of being only that silence, and that’s all there is to it. And anything else that you’re beginning to elaborate on in terms of subtle beings or devas and all this stuff, you’re just getting caught up in fluff, you’re getting caught up in mind candy that is not really essential and important, and you’re just going to distract people. So I’m just trying to create a balance in that respect. I think a person can go to either extreme, but a really mature picture would be, yeah, the silence has to be there as the foundation, and once you become really familiar with that silence, you may begin to experience all this stuff, so deal with it.
Harri: Enjoy it. Yes, no, that’s perfect, I like that.
Rick: So perhaps a lot of these are somewhat along the same lines.
Harri: Maybe they have one edition of the celestial level.
Rick: Okay, spiraling fields of light, personified intelligence. Here’s a good one. “Heartfelt clarity,” this is from that essay. “Recently, Catherine, my wife, experienced a tangible fullness and opening of her heart that has not diminished over time. Her experiences have the extraordinary effect of now revealing both of our heartfelt, heart-centered physiologies in my awareness, as the structure, emergence and expressions of unbounded unity.”
Harri: One of the benefits of pure consciousness is this quality of – I’m of a Finnish heritage, so we don’t like using the word “love,” but yes, that’s the feeling – that there’s this within this knowingness, within this knowledge, within this pure consciousness is the growth of love, obviously first for your immediate family, but even for your society, even for the world. And that kind of only happened to me in the last ten years or so. Mainly I was, most of my life I’ve wanted more and more knowledge, more and more knowledge, but then as that knowledge got bigger and bigger, then in terms of my own family, I noticed that there was just a much deeper feeling. And say, when Cathy has a profound experience, this shared phenomenon of that experience created a much exponentially greater sense of feeling, of expanded love. That’s all that is. And that has grown in me, the fact that I’m out here talking to people means that I’m wanting to share, and I’ve really never wanted to do that in the past. I loved it on the so-called “mountaintop” by myself. But I can’t say much more about that.
Rick: Okay. Well if I read more experiences from your blog, it’s going to be more of these celestial beings type of things.
Harri: that’s ok no problem, i’m forwarned.
Rick: Because I picked a lot of those things out. So here’s one I haven’t read, you can comment on, then maybe we’ll go back to some of these other questions. “The structural intelligence, the very physicality of vibrating knowledge and love, I perceive as a highway between God and me. This solid connection, structured from universal existence and all of its layers, is known and experienced as one continuum of my individual to cosmic awareness. It feels, and is so concretely solid, that it seems I could actually physically traverse or walk this road to God. It is thick with interweaving layers of knowledge, love and light, that literally put me into the presence of God. God’s awareness is reflected in my awareness. I experience within my heart, my mind and my senses, my whole body, a phenomenal co-created divine, terrestrial and cosmic hierarchy that is precisely and perceptually related to all levels of my life. All aspects and functions of my body I experience as structurally and physically extending to this personified totality. This relationship unites all emerging events into one continual experience of individual unity.”
Harri: I couldn’t say it better myself. That kind of covers what we’ve been talking about in many ways, doesn’t it? And I think the emphasis for me is that pure consciousness is not just pure consciousness. It involves the body, the senses, the mind, the environment, the universe – all of it is included in pure consciousness. The word “pure” means “everything included” to me. Let’s call it “unbounded consciousness.” “Unbounded” to me doesn’t mean exclusive to unboundedness only, it means inclusive of everything. “Unbounded” to me means wholeness, it’s all there. And the body, our physiologies, are part of that experience. And I guess many people kind of put the body down and the environment down and the gross relative. I would say that our physical existence, the story of our lives, our daily activities, our physiologies, when those aspects of consciousness or those aspects of our lives are seen in terms of the self, that’s when awareness is at its full range. Pure consciousness is one fundamental first step, perhaps a subtle relative, you start seeing some of that. Second step, you still have pure consciousness. Third step would be seeing everything in terms of the self, including the relative. And even a sense of the universal existence is there. Ultimately I sense that the universe affects me – the stars, the galaxies, the moon, the sun – I can feel their influence, even if I can’t totally see them or anything, I feel their cosmic influence, as it were. So all of that is inclusive in this huge sense of wholeness that eventually evolves, and you eventually get to, everybody gets to. Come back to some of these.
Rick: Did I already ask this one? What do you mean that the senses can experience the absolute? I don’t think I did ask that one.
Harri: No, but we kind of covered that. But that was kind of a surprise to me. This is kind of interesting because I think anybody who has the experience of pure consciousness actually sees something, only they don’t think of it as seeing, they think of it as something. How do I know pure consciousness is there? There’s some kind of sense that it’s there. But thinking back on the witness when I first started having it, I wouldn’t have said that I could see it, but now I’d say, “Of course I saw it, I saw it, it was there. It was a seeing as well as a knowing.” And that’s what I mean. That kind of seeing, that kind of hearing, that reverberation of pure consciousness actually has a sound. The sound is the intelligence becoming manifest into the objective world. So the senses get involved over time. It starts on a subtle level of feeling, a subtle level of understanding, and ultimately the senses get involved in the experience of even pure consciousness. That’s what I’m saying.
Rick: There’s a question about describing your experience right now, this minute, and how it’s different than at other times, but that kind of reminds me of a question which I want to ask, which is that a couple of weeks ago you came over to my house and it took quite a while to give you directions to get to my house. It was sort of like trying to guide a blind man through a maze or something. And you’ve told me before, you can easily get lost driving around town or something. So what is your actual experience that makes it difficult to deal with? And like in that panel discussion we had a month or two ago, you said when you got married you needed to get married because you couldn’t even manage by it, you couldn’t write a check or anything, Kathy had to take care of it. So is there a sense that you are so out there and reveling in cosmic realities that it’s really hard to deal with mundane realities sometimes?
Harri: No, I was always like that.
Rick: Yeah, but you’ve always been reveling in cosmic realities.
Harri:No, but I was always … and I’m not …
Rick: So it’s more of a personality thing?
Harri: It’s very much an idiosyncrasy of my life. I was that way as a kid, I don’t have a sense of direction, I didn’t have it ever. And so it wasn’t something that developed as a consciousness guru, it was always there.
Rick: So in your opinion then, somebody could be in every bit as evolved a state of consciousness as you are, whatever state you’re in.
Harri: Or a lot more.
Rick: Or a lot more, and yet be an airline pilot or a brain surgeon.
Harri: Absolutely, totally, totally, but not me. Don’t have me fly your plane, I’ll go to Timbuktu or something.
Rick: Or right into the ground.
Harri: Yes, no, no, absolutely. As a matter of fact, if that’s their tendency, they’ll get sharper and clearer and more direction-oriented. I went the way that I naturally am.
Rick: Yeah, okay.
Harri: You know what I mean?
Rick: Yeah. So just to beat home the point, so enlightenment is not in any way an impediment to functioning in the relative, in a practical world. You would even say it’s an aid to it, if it’s properly integrated.
Harri: Whatever talents you have, if it’s kind of, you know, they’ll grow, those talents. And incidentally, I’m not saying I’m particularly enlightened, I’m just telling you what my experience is. Yeah, whatever it is, draw your own conclusions.
Rick: However enlightened one may get, you’re saying it doesn’t mean you’re just going to be sort of non-functional. And we’ve seen that, you know, all these stories about yogis who just sort of have to have people feed them and everything, or they’ll just go wandering off into the forest and they don’t seem to be really grounded in the practical world.
Harri: That’s true, but you know, I’m an artist, so that’s highly focused. You see how detailed my art is, very, very tiny little things I’m painting, all extreme focus, so I’m very directionally oriented when I’m painting. So maybe, you know, it’s not like I’m not focusing, it’s just somehow my sense of direction when I’m driving a car or something tends to be, I’ve never had an accident, knock on wood or whatever. So it’s not that I can’t drive, you know, I’m visual. If they remove the tree from a corner that I’m used to seeing a tree in, it takes me years to recover from that.
Rick: What is the function of memory?
Harri: You know, memories are really interesting, isn’t it? Have you ever thought of your memory? You know, you’re a kid, you’re a teenager, now you’re a guy, whatever age you are, and everything that you’ve gone through is just a memory in the past. And in a sense, the future is a memory too, in the sense that you don’t know what it is, but you envision it could be like this, and it’s all sort of something you remember. Now, my experience with states of consciousness or states of experience that I’ve had is that when I have them, it’s like I remember to have them. I remember to have pure consciousness, I remember to have this unified state of consciousness, I remember that sight is part of that. There’s this quality to my experience, and I think everybody’s experience, is that you’re remembering who you are, you’re remembering where you’ve been, you’re remembering wholeness. It’s like it’s there, so somehow you lost it, now you’ve gained it, and because you’ve gained it, it must have been a memory. Does that sense that?
Rick: You know, in the end of the Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna says to Lord Krishna, “My memory has been restored, I know who I am now,” or whatever words he used.
Harri: It feels that way to me, that memory is being restored, because the natural experience is that human consciousness is unbounded, is infinite. Where did it go? You forgot it. You forgot to remember that you’re awake. It’s that simple, isn’t that something, really?
Rick: Yeah, and yet, this could also be misconstrued, it’s not like you should walk around all day saying, “Whoop, got to try to remember the self, remember the self, remember the self,” as some kind of a … you could drive yourself crazy doing that, it’s not that kind of memory.
Harri: No, it’s something that happens naturally and isn’t something that can be contrived or thought of, it’s not that kind of memory.
Rick: And theoretically, an older person who is starting to lose their memory, can’t find their car keys, that kind of thing, they could very well be perfectly established in pure consciousness, it’s not affected by that kind of memory loss that comes with older age.
Harri: I don’t think so. And this whole thing about appearance, what should an awakened person look like, you don’t have to be intelligent, you don’t have to be talented, you don’t have to be anything specific to be awake. Awakefulness is so natural that it’s available to anybody.
Rick: Tell me if you think you want to add anything to this, how does the intellect or understanding help the growth of consciousness that we haven’t already covered?
Harri: I do like the fact that every experience has an understanding component to it. Within the experience itself, one of the joys of the experience is that you understand it and you get it. And when you get it there’s a sense of stability and permanence and continuity and connectedness between people and the environment, when the understanding says, “Aha, this is all part of that wholeness.” So that’s what I mean by intellect.
Rick: Okay. There’s a lot of teachers out there these days teaching, saying all kinds of things, and this question pertains to that. How would a person know that they are listening to the truth?
Rick: The sad thing about knowledge is that, let’s say you’re in a high state of consciousness and I’m in a lower state of consciousness, then I will hear what you say on my level and you will speak from your level. Now, maybe they can go together a little bit because you said something profound, if I trust you. But generally speaking, the movement of consciousness moves from higher to lower.
Rick: In a deep situation?
Harri: Yes, that’s the way it is. And what can you do about that other than keep speaking what you know and ultimately or eventually somebody will hear it or not hear it up to their lights.
Rick: Yeah, and I would say something about this question, that there should be some kind of resonance with one’s experience. If somebody is saying something that’s supposed to be truth, if it is, there should be some kind of resonation or some kind of connection on the level of your experience that verifies it for you or makes it seem right to you or something. You know what I mean?
Harri: Everybody has some intuition, right? And some deep, in-ground, even if they don’t know how to talk about it. Pure consciousness is universal, therefore somewhere you have it and you have intuition, everybody has some intuition, and yes, you intuit that, “Yeah, this person is saying the truth, I want to hear more of what he’s saying.” I agree with that, yes.
Rick: Yeah, and there’s actually a flip side to that, which is that people get that intuitive “aha” when they listen to or read something profound, and then they think that that’s basically all there is to it, is that intuitive “aha,” and they don’t realize how much vast potential for maturation of actual experience there is.
Harri: We all tend to, when we have a profound experience, everybody tends to say, “This is all there is,” right? “Oh, I’ve made it now!”
Rick: What is the process that allows love to grow?
Harri: You know, when we were first talking about consciousness and the movement of consciousness, the movement of consciousness is the movement of love, it’s the movement of connectedness. Connectedness means unity, unity means deep feeling. So if consciousness grows, then the sense of unity grows, the sense of this movement of consciousness, this continuity, this love is a by-product of consciousness becoming aware of itself, and you becoming the knower of that experience, the knower of that experience is the being, is the individual that feels love. It’s not the absolute that feels love. You, as an “I,” are the loving entity that can communicate and talk and help and whatever.
Rick: Yeah, I read a nice lecture by Maharishi the other night that I had heard a recording of a thousand times, but basically he was saying that love grows by culturing the habit of not minding the crude and minding more and more of the subtle, and just the subtler values get more habituated and then appreciation grows by virtue of that, and with more refined appreciation love grows.
Harri: That’s essentially what I’m saying, yeah.
Rick: Yeah. What is the dying process and can we skip it?
Harri: Okay, the dying process.
Rick: You’re the one who gave me these questions.
Harri: Yeah, I know. That one I should have skipped. The dying process is the process of being born, waking up. That’s what the dying process is. Imagine if nothing was passing, if nothing was ending, then everything would die eventually, there would be no rebirth. Now, to me there is no such thing as – okay, if you want to talk about illusion, I think death is the biggest illusion, and it’s an illusion because human beings can be immortal, they can gain immortality.
Rick: In their physical bodies? Or on the level of consciousness?
Harri: There are many levels to the body.
Rick: Ah, good point.
Rick: Well, you were talking earlier about some kind of unbounded level of the individuality that interfaces with the pure silence, so presumably it’s not only unbounded but it’s eternal.
Harri: I’m not a big advocate that the Absolute is the experiencer of unbounded infinity. I’m a proponent of that the individual, on a subtle level, can be and will be and is eternal. Now, an individual in the sense that it’s an awake individual, that means immortality to me. That experiencer will never die.
Rick: And even if it’s not an awake individual, how about my dog? Is there some essence to the dog that’s eternal and that essence is going to grow in its capacity to appreciate its own eternal nature over time?
Harri: I believe that’s true, going on to a bigger and bigger level. And how do you answer questions? They say the universe will end eventually, but to me it’s like the universe goes to sleep just like we do when we wake up. We don’t know what’s the next universe or the next one, if there is one. Where’s the universe going to go?
Rick: And actually my next question ties in with this next question, which is how do I know you’re not making all this up? Which is that when you say a thing like that, “The individual is eternal and we all go to sleep when the universe dissolves,” is that just something you read in some book or is there some aspect of your personal experience that kind of substantiates that for you?
Harri: Okay, when you have the experience of pure consciousness, pure consciousness is unbounded, and you see the fluctuations of that pure consciousness, and those fluctuations are also eternal, those fluctuations are the universe. I can see the universe in those i can intuitive it, and to a certain degree, see it. Now, that’s just my little consciousness. How is it that I can see that? I know that the universe is my consciousness, I can see it.
Rick: It’s an expression of your consciousness?
Harri: It’s an expression of my consciousness, it’s not the other way around. The universe is contained within my consciousness, and yours too, and everybody’s. Human consciousness is the movement of consciousness, it’s the wholeness of consciousness, and it’s the material universe as well. The material universe is also part of that consciousness. Now, once you know that, you see that, you intuit that, there’s no end to the universe either, there can’t be, it’s eternal. If the Absolute exists then everything is Absolute. If I exist then I’m Absolute. You can’t discount my body or anything and say, “Well, that’s not real.” How is it not real if the Absolute is everywhere?
Rick: Well, let’s take this piece of paper. It’s a piece of paper, but it’s also the Absolute in its essence, appearing as paper. And I could take a match to it and it would be ashes and smoke and gases and whatnot, so it no longer exists as paper, it has been converted chemically into other things, and maybe the atoms themselves haven’t been changed, they’ve just been totally rearranged and dispersed, so there’s no localized piece of paper anymore, it’s been turned into other things. Every atom in your body was once part of a star and
Harri: Okay, this gets awful abstract, okay, but I’ll just say one thing here. In terms of pure, unbounded consciousness which is eternal, even the coming and going of the universe is like that, that’s all I can say. So it’s coming, am I to say that it comes back again? I don’t know. In terms of eternity, in the universe it’s just a fleck of time.
Rick: Yeah, okay, I don’t know if that answers the question, but it’s pretty abstract.
Harri: It does, if you know. It’s very abstract, yes.
Rick: Why do so many people not have inner sight? And by inner sight I guess you mean awakening.
Harri: Yes. Why is that? To a person who’s gone through these stages from kidhood on, it seems inconceivable that it isn’t recognized more, because it just needs to be recognized. Even the first stage of pure consciousness, why don’t more people have it? My sense is that everybody has it and they don’t get it. They’re looking somewhere else. Yeah, they’re overshadowed but I don’t even find that word appropriate because I think it’s there. You know, I’ve described pure consciousness to many, many, many, many people and they go, “Yeah!” and like that it’s gone, but they got it for a second because it’s always there. How is that possible that they forget it the next second? But it seems to be.
Rick: Well, if you’re watching the movie, it’s like you’re really into the movie and some guy sitting next to you could say, “Now look carefully, see that little sparkly thing there? That’s actually the screen, see how it’s this big flat screen?” And you say, “Oh yeah, I see what you mean,” but “Wow, I’m really into this movie, I’m going to keep watching it.”
Harri: I guess that’s why we’re here on earth, to discover why we’re not having the full experience. And some people have it and they want to pass it on to other people, or try to.
Rick: Yeah, and maybe it’s the nature of the age that it’s rare. It’s an intense time we live in, maybe 100 years, 200 years from now it’ll become more common and it would seem absurd to have conversations about it almost because it’s like everybody experiences it.
Harri: It could be.
Rick: What do you think of free will, or is everything determined?
Harri: Well, that was a question that came up from people, more than one person asked me that. And if you think of any event, let’s say there’s an event, like we’re meeting here, it’s an event, it was kind of created by a previous event. There’s always a previous event to the event. And let’s trace this event back in time to when we first met, it started there. But even before that, there was …
Rick: Before that we moved to Fairfield.
Harri: Yeah, so there’s events, events, events, events. We go to the first event, that first event is pure consciousness. There’s a fluctuation in pure consciousness that started this event. Now that fluctuation is eternal. At that point, if you’re aware of that first fluctuation of this stream of events, and there’s no prior events, at that point you could say you have free will, you’re at the hub of the wheel, you could go in a million directions. At that point you have this sense that free will is dominant, you can go in any direction, and all these streams start there. But only at that point where there’s no prior events, that would be an awakened mind, there’s no prior event to that.
Rick: That’s a good answer. I think the hub of the wheel is a good metaphor. If you’re at the hub, you can go down any spoke. If you’re already out on a spoke, you’re committed to that spoke.
Harri: You can’t go to that spoke.
Rick: Right, right. And there’s that verse in the Gita which goes something like, “For many branched and endlessly diverse are the intellects of the irresolute, but the resolute intellect is one-pointed.” So the resolute intellect is like, you’re at the hub, and from sitting there, you can move in any direction. You’re not already bound and committed to something that’s controlling you.
Harri: On a more mundane level, think of it, it all feels like free will, right? “Hey, I want to move my arm.” Well, I decided to move that arm, so that feels like free will. So I’m enjoying the sense of free will, perhaps it’s based on previous events, but my enjoyment is of the free will. So that’s on a more mundane level, but that’s how we enjoy our lives. We think it’s all free will. In a sense, if we think it is, how is it different from free will?
Rick: Yeah, philosophers have debated this one forever, but from a practical standpoint, I think the point you brought up is really great, which a lot of people feel just conditioned and bound, and they’re just rolling along and their life is out of control. But in your experience now, isn’t there a real sense, sitting at the hub, sitting at the point at which all streams of life emerge, from which they all emerge, isn’t there a real sense of being at the master switchboard, and there is this kind of freedom, not only in terms of subjective unboundedness, but even freedom in terms of decision-making?
Harri: Yes, and it also feels like thoughts that you have on that level find their fulfillment. And do they always? Some take time, but they tend to happen, tend to happen more regularly for sure.
Rick: Do you ever, like the other day, my wife was on hold with some company and they were playing this stupid song over and over again, and she had it on speakerphone, and when she finally got off, the song was going through my head, and I finally turned on Pandora to listen to some other music to get rid of it. Do you ever have that kind of silly, conditioned kind of stuff?
Harri: Not really. Probably in other ways, maybe not with music, but yeah, that’s funny.
Rick: What more can I do to speed up the process of gaining pure awareness?
Harri: We talked about meditating and obviously eating good food, having a healthy lifestyle all of those affect what you experience. Now fortunately once you have a certain degree of wakefulness that influences you less and less, but on the path, as it were, then for instance a meditation technique, it certainly helped me. And when I started meditating as a young man, immediately stuff started happening in a way that wasn’t happening prior to that, understanding, depth of experience, all kinds of stuff, very rapidly developed. I could see it and feel it and know it. So yes, meditation, good food.
Rick: You weren’t drinking a six-pack and smoking a joint every night?
Harri: That’s right, I wasn’t.
Rick: That kind of thing helps. I mean, I say that facetiously, but I’ve been in touch with people who are kind of interested in this.
Harri: Obviously not in Denver.
Rick: Yeah, or Seattle. I’ve been in touch with people who are interested in spirituality, but they have a drinking problem or they’re doing something which seems to be hampering them, like the elephant analogy, the elephant washes itself off in the river, then it gets out and throws mud on its back again. So obviously people have, we don’t want to be lacking in compassion for people who have problems with that sort of thing, but we also don’t want to say that such things can be accepted as legitimate paths to enlightenment. I don’t know.
Harri: No, you get it. My whole angle is understanding, right? I mean, if you read my blogs or anything else or how I speak, I try to convey my experience and hope that somebody gets something out of that. And invariably of the some hundreds of people who commented on my last talk, quite a few of them got something, whatever that something was. So that’s what I do.
Rick: Okay. Alright, I think we pretty much covered all these questions, they’re all just variations on the same theme. So back to some other questions here. In terms of your own experience, did you ever have in the last interview we talked about this experience you had where you were wondering what all this unboundedness was that people were talking about, and then you had the experience of losing it for 10-15 minutes, and you realized then and that was horrible and you realized then that you’d actually had it all your life.
Harri: Did I ever tell you the experience I had with this word “bliss”?
Rick: I think you told that in the last interview too.
Harri: Okay, I did that one.
Rick: you were saying, “What is all this bliss?”
Harri: Yes, yes, okay, I got it. But the point that we were making then is
Rick: Well the point I was going to ask is, other than that 10-15 minutes, did you ever have a dark night of the soul, any kind of really difficult time you went through?
Harri: The worst period that I went through was in my late teens for about a year or two, in my early 20s, when I had this separation kind of stuff. Up until that point I had this kind of unitative sense that everything was consciousness was light, and then it shrunk or separated into this kind of separation where I was aware that consciousness was there but I wasn’t part of it. Now, for about two years
Rick: Your individuality wasn’t part of it. Are you talking about a cosmic consciousness kind of thing, where there was a separation between absolute and relative?
Harri: Yes, and it was very clear. At night it was 100% there, during the day it was 100% there but I didn’t like it. And it affected my happiness level, my contentment level, I wasn’t very happy that everything was separate, I wasn’t happy. And it was kind of a tense time for me for about two years. And then I had some dramatic experiences of subtle nature that changed that.
Rick: You wanna tell us what those are? might as well.
Harri: These kind of more divine experiences, so the subtle relative experiences where I started having, along with that witness, that silence, came this more divine level of experience, there was this more celestial level of experience, until it became so intense that I was almost lost in it, but I wasn’t, because there was always call it a witness if you like, that pure consciousness that was clear enough and big enough and full enough that it didn’t disappear, along with this divine experience or these celestial experiences. So they were there simultaneously, and so all that disturbing separation disappeared. They were close enough, the subtle relative, the subtle levels of creation, the heavens, the beings that exist on those levels were there, along with this unboundedness. Now there’s an interesting point here. There’s a question in here somewhere that says these divine levels of existence, whether you want to call them Christian or Vedic, or whatever you want to call them, do they have a purpose? Most people don’t think of them as having a purpose. But those subtle levels of creation are where the laws or all these aspects of nature function. In Christian writings of the saints who wrote about those levels, they talked about these different levels, how this level creates this on the relative and this level creates this on the relative. So those subtle levels of creation also have their personifications, those are the hosts that live on those levels. Now I’m not in any way advocating trying to look for these or go for them or use them as techniques, I’m just saying that these subtle levels of creation have a function. How light, how air, how earth, how all the elements of nature go through this process of becoming human beings is orchestrated on those divine levels. And in the future, if it’s appropriate, I’ll get more into that.
Rick: Why do you hesitate?
Harri: Well because it’s a field that nobody talks about and isn’t experienced by many people it seems.
Rick: All the more reason to talk about it.
Harri: Well in your case, yes. But yes, you always want to leave something for the future, right?
Rick: Yes, you want to learn them.
Harri: There’s a tremendous amount, but I want to emphasize that the reason anybody could see these or put them in their proper perspective is because there’s a consciousness level that’s silent enough, pure enough, that all of this celestial stuff and the gross relative stuff is incorporated into that experience.
Rick: So you’re saying that the realization or perception of these subtle things is what kind of got you out of this dark night. And it’s interesting because your experience follows a trajectory, Adyashanti can’t say that either, he always screws up that word, but it follows a path that is very much in line with what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi laid out in terms of seven states of consciousness. He said, “This cosmic consciousness state you’re in, established in and as pure consciousness, and there’s this separation. And then the gulf begins to be bridged and there’s this unity of God consciousness, and then eventually there’s total unity.” And I don’t hear people talking so much about that unity of God consciousness. They either seem to, maybe, sometimes I wonder, are people just in cosmic consciousness and they think it’s the final state, this self-realization and separation from the relative? Or have they somehow jumped over, leapfrogged over the God consciousness stage and they’ve arrived at unity, everything in terms of the Self, without having ever explored, or having needed to explore, all this subtle relative phenomena?
Harri: There’s two things that aren’t talked about much, this state of celestial perception in relation to pure consciousness, and then after unity experiences. After a unified wholeness of experience, that’s when these senses and the body and all these things move into the absolute and everything is seen from the absolute level. So those two areas aren’t discussed much for some reason. Now I don’t like to talk about Maharishis seven states of consciousness because the implication is that I’ve gone through those states. Let’s just say that I’ve had experiences that seem to correspond to those states throughout my life.
Rick: Why wouldn’t you want to imply that you’d gone through them?
Harri: Just because I don’t.
Rick: Out of humility sort of thing?
Harri: I’m not really humble by nature, you’ve seen that, I’m just saying. Okay, I seem to have those understanding and experience, I went waking, dreaming, sleeping, right? We all have that. C.C. was this kind of witness, was there for years and years and years, didn’t think anything of it.
Rick: Cosmic consciousness, yeah.
Harri: Yes, and then there were celestial experiences for many, many years, and then that evolved into a kind of a unitative state, unity consciousness, whatever you want to call it, which is there now, I have this unitative state. But those are really simple states of consciousness because they don’t really involve the senses or the body or the environment in a profound way.
Rick: The way you describe them or the way you experience them?
Harri: The way I experience them. I feel my experience started once I realized that I am everything.
Rick: So that’s when it got interesting.
Harri: That’s when it got interesting to me, and we haven’t gone there yet, and a year or two from now I’m actually, I can’t believe it but I’m actually, like everybody else, I’m now writing a book. So I will state all that in it.
Rick: Okay, and then we’ll talk about that.
Rick: Because I don’t even know what to ask. I mean, I’m just poking around here asking what I can, but I’m not as familiar with your experience obviously as you are, so there’s all kinds of things you could probably say that haven’t even occurred to me to ask you to say.
Harri: I’m trying to stay practical as much as I can, you know, and it’s hard.
Rick: Well, you know, I always found when I was teaching meditation that it was nice to give people a wide range. So even in an introductory lecture I’d give some really practical down-to-earth benefits, and then I’d kind of take them on a vision of possibilities of ultimately, if you develop this area to its fullest extent, what could it be? And then I’d come back again to another area, really down-to-earth benefits, then take it all the way to its extreme. And that way whoever’s sitting in the audience, you’re kind of hitting their particular sweet spot, you know?
Harri: There’s millions and millions of people and teachers and gurus and movements and New Age this and New Age that, who are dealing with those evolving issues, you know, up to and including the first stages of enlightenment. And there are very few people dealing with these post-unity experiences or GC experiences.
Rick: Because there isn’t much of an audience for them?
Rick: Or because there isn’t anyone qualified to talk about them?
Rick: Yeah. I guess if there were much of an audience for them, then members of that audience would become the teachers who would begin talking about them. So you’re just saying it’s really not as relevant to our collective evolution yet as it may be somewhere down the line?
Harri: No, it’s just not that interesting, because having said that, I am interested in that.
Rick: So you’re totally interested in terms of that having been your own experience?
Rick: You’re just saying you don’t feel too much inclination to talk about it because there aren’t that many people who are really ready to hear it, that’s what it sounds like to me.
Harri: Well, alot more than I thought. I didn’t expect to have such a response from you. I really didn’t.
Rick: So is your book going to pull any punches or are you really going to spill it?
Harri: I’m going to say everything.
Rick: You’re going to spill all the beans?
Harri: Every bean that I have.
Rick: Good luck with that. It takes people years to write books, but hopefully you’ll have a fair amount of time to put into it.
Harri: Well, I’ve already probably written 20% of it.
Rick: Great, great, okay. So, let’s see here.
Harri: You know, I would like to say that one of the things – what was it this one person said? It said something like, “Who do you think you are?” And I don’t think I’m anybody special, and I don’t think I’m any different. I think everybody has the potential, everybody has the ability to have every experience if I can have it and anybody can have it. That’s my attitude, okay? And it’s an honest, true attitude. I mean, look, I don’t take up any more space, I take less space up than you do, so you know what I mean?
Rick: All righty. So there’s more questions from this person who asked the question about why you continue to meditate. It might bring out a few new little nuggets if I ask a few of these. We already talked about why continue to meditate.
Harri: Alright, go ahead.
Rick: I’ll just throw out some of this stuff and see how you respond to it. “True awakening or self-realization is the end of all states. It’s knowing the self or Brahman as who we are, who we really are. Out of this awakening, all the virtues unfold as old conditioning falls away, but there is no step-by-step process, no illusory self-noting change.” And let me read one more paragraph that relates, “Although revelation continues on the subtler levels until all conditioned responses fall away and we are fully integrated and at rest in the heart of being, we don’t need to make any effort to have grace unfold once the opening occurs. The self reveals itself to itself quite naturally.”
Harri: It’s true, I don’t have any problem with that.
Rick: No argument with any of that?
Harri: Not really.
Rick: Yeah, so whatever you’re doing is not in violation with the question she’s raising, in terms of practicing TM City program or doing this or doing that.
Harri: Okay, what she’s saying is correct, but the implication is that, “Stop doing stuff, stop enjoying stuff, sit in the silence like Buddha.”
Rick: Yeah, there’s nothing more to explore.
Harri: But I don’t abide, because I’ve always seen more. The silence is there, the silence is huge, unbounded. The movement of that silence, the revelations of that silence keep unfolding, I see more and more. Even the gross relative, I go to national parks, enjoy myself, I don’t sit like Buddha at the base of the trail, I climb to the top of the trail like everybody else, I have a good time. I don’t see advocating going into a retreat and staying there with the eyes closed for the rest of your life.
Rick: Yeah, and I don’t think that’s quite what she’s saying, because she has an active life and goes to the gym and has a couple of kids that she visits with and all that stuff. And I think what she’s saying is that if you’re really at rest in the self, then there’s no seeking after more subtle experiences. And I agree with what you’re saying here, I’m not arguing her position, I’m just using that as a stimulant to bring out more stuff. For instance, she said, “There are a thousand and one experiences that Mother Shakti can show us, but truth is one. The yogic path does not necessarily lead to rest, the energy gets turned on and just keeps circulating. Only an act of grace can bring the energy or consciousness to rest.” But what you’re saying is, you arrived at rest decades ago, and that state of rest can be a platform or foundation upon which to enjoy further exploration, that there’s no end to exploration.
Harri: The waking up process doesn’t eliminate anything, and I just repeat myself, it does not eliminate the enjoyment of the relative, it increases the enjoyment of the relative. It increases the enjoyment of the subtle relative, it increases the enjoyment of the silence. All of it is increased, increased, increased. It’s like you’re owning more and more, you’re not owning less and less. If you have an experience of silence that overpowers you, overpowers your intellect, maybe that’s a strong word, or overshadows everything else, then I could see that yes, you would say, “Just enjoy the silence, there’s nothing you can do.” Now, there isn’t anything you can do to the silence. The silence is the silence, the pure consciousness is there. Now, the most wonderful thing about silence is that it’s not silent.
Rick: I think that’s the key point right there. If silence is nothing but silence, and then once you’re established in it, then all this stuff about devas and other experiences, it seems like a getting away from that pure silence. It’s a stirring up of something which you finally had arrived at, and pure silence, “Oh boy, you’re there, why stir it up again?” But what you’re saying is that silence isn’t just silence, it isn’t just flat absolute, that it’s a world of possibilities, and if you rest there long enough and start to see things clearly enough, you’re going to begin to want to explore those possibilities.
Harri: And I’m not even saying that you’re not seeing them in terms of the silence you are, you’re seeing them in terms of the Self, let’s call it the big Self, rather than silence.
Rick: So exploring these possibilities doesn’t take you out or away from, in any sense, the big Self. It’s not detracting or diminishing, and there’s not a sense of, “I’m not going to be content until I’ve explored all these things.” It’s more like, “Established in contentment, this is unfolding,” and it’s a joy to be a participant in that experience.
Harri: I do agree that.
Rick: I don’t mean to put words in your mouth, I’m just putting words in your mouth. I’m just putting words in your mouth.
Harri: Everything in pure consciousness does unfold from within itself, of course. And you want to give some validity to attention, then I’ll give some validity to attention. If I put my attention on an aspect of understanding, then understanding unfolds, and it unfolds automatically, but it seems that the initial impulse has to be put there, has to be started, take a direction, and all this stuff unfolds. Now, there’s an ongoing continuity to my life that has never stopped, has never stopped being clearer and clearer. Pure consciousness has not stopped unfolding from within itself and become a greater and greater silence. I don’t usually even like using the word “silence,” because pure, unbounded silence isn’t even an experience. You could say that’s a nothing state. How do you experience nothing? By the time you have an experience, there’s something happening. Pure consciousness is “there’s something happening.” That something happening is the movement of consciousness on the subtlest level. That subtlest level is enjoyable. The subtlest level percolates into the subtle relative, percolates into the gross relative. It’s one continuum of experience, and it keeps unfolding. For instance, think of, I can’t immediately go to Mars or any planet and see what’s going on there, right? So that’s an unknown.
Harri: Pure consciousness is kind of like that. Every time something unfolds, it also unfolds a whole field that you haven’t seen before. There’s always more. It’s enjoyable. It’s just as enjoyable as going to the grocery store or eating good food or having a relationship with somebody or your family. Knowledge becomes the enjoyment aspect of your life, so more unfolds from within itself. You say, “Oh, that’s pretty cool,” and so more unfolds. And every time more unfolds, there’s a bigger puzzle.
Rick: And as it unfolds, it’s still pure consciousness, right?
Harri: It’s absolutely.
Rick: It’s not like something has kind of split off from pure consciousness and become non-pure consciousness.
Harri: It’s still the ocean.
Rick: It’s still the ocean. It’s just like a new to get back to the metaphor we used at the very beginning of the interview, you’ve discovered some new little coral reef to explore in the same ocean that you are and that coral reef is contained within you, it always has been, it’s just that you hadn’t really tuned in on it. “Oh, now it’s here, let me get my scuba gear and explore this reef because it’s part of me.”
Harri: Let’s bring it even closer to home, like what I’m doing right now. This is one of the fish in the ocean, me talking. Otherwise why am I talking? I enjoy it, I want to share it, you enjoy it, you want to share it, that’s one of the fish in the ocean. Why should I stop? And why should not more and more people get it? Why not? That’s what it’s all about. Now to say that you don’t have to do anything, go ahead and do nothing then. Don’t talk about me, don’t make comments about me if there’s nothing to do, don’t, leave me alone. And you don’t have to believe me, that’s okay. You know what I’m saying? The reason we go forward is because there’s more to go forward to. It doesn’t matter how awake you are. Why do all the gurus open their mouths and have people? I’m not a guru, I just have an experience that I’m wanting to relate, and I enjoy relating it now. If I didn’t enjoy it as much in the past, I do now, and that’s kind of what I do.
Rick: And I think the person who’s asking these questions has the same fundamental motivation, which is to share knowledge, to clarify people’s misunderstanding, to prevent people from getting deluded or sidetracked or something. And she has her take on how things are, and it contrasts with your take on how things are, and I would love to be able to sit you down with such people and have you hash it out, rather than me trying to play middleman, but it’s not working that way. But it actually does provide a stimulus for bringing out more information. If you just took questions that were all just entirely in tune with your viewpoint, there would be certain areas that
Harri: wouldn’t come out,
Rick: and certain people who would be left out of the discussion because their viewpoint wouldn’t be taken into consideration.
Harri: Well there is, I agree, but it isn’t just this one person, there’s hundreds of people.
Rick: Sure, she represents a whole niche.
Harri: An entire niche.
Rick: And there’s other niches.
Harri: Of the silence people.
Rick: There’s that, and the Hare Krishna people are going to hear you one way, and the Christians are going to hear you another way and say you’re going to hell. I mean, there’s all these people with different perspectives.
Harri: I agree with that, but the people you’re going to help are the people who are receptive, it’s always like that. And this lady can help the people who are receptive to her.
Rick: And having you answer her questions can help people too, because as you say, there’s a whole sub-category, there’s a whole niche of people who think a certain way. And personally, me as an interviewer, I’m in a great position because I get exposed to a different perspective every week.
Harri: And nobody can blame you.
Rick: Yeah, so I love having this flavor and this flavor and this flavor, and just kind of exploring all these different perspectives. And personally I think that’s a healthy thing. And so, I don’t know, it’s like the Democrats and Republicans, the Democrats are all watching MSNBC, the Republicans are all watching Fox News, so they’re each in their own bubble. And they don’t really kind of like…
Harri: They don’t mix much.
Rick: Yeah, there’s a divide, they don’t mix, there’s a gulf between them. So it’s kind of useful, I think, especially in the spiritual world, to mix it up and to explore different perspectives and use that as a way of, just like what you’re saying, exploring, broadening the range of your experience.
Harri: Well, I accept their experience, they don’t accept mine. I totally respect the fact that they’re talking about pure consciousness, I have that same experience. Even if I wasn’t having the experience that I say I’m having, intellectually I would hedge my bets and say that everything is included, rather than nothing is included. I’d hedge my bets and say, “God is there, the angels are there, the devas are there, the relative is there, and it’s all good.”
Rick: Well, that’s kind of what I’m doing, because I don’t experience all those things, but intuitively it makes such sense to me, and intellectually also. I mean, just understanding how creation works, it’s got to be this way, that I can almost taste it, even though I don’t experience it.
Harri: And yes, I’m not fond of the word “illusion,” even though it describes a certain state of consciousness and it’s clear that that elusive quality of the relative is there, up until you understand and see it in the Self. If you can imagine, for one moment, if your eyes and your ears are seeing the subtle relative and there’s no gap between the fluctuations of the most silent level that is possible for my consciousness, let’s say, to experience, and there’s no gap between those fluctuations and the subtle relative, the divine relative, and no gap between the divine relative and the so-called gross relative, what if there was no gap? If you could see that as a continuum, what would you say that all was? I say it’s all consciousness, I say it’s all a continuum, because that’s how I see it, that’s how I know it, that’s how I hear it. Even intellectually, I can’t conceive of a state where there’s only unbounded stillness. Now that unbounded stillness, this is interesting, does permeate the subtle relative, does permeate the gross relative, so it is all unbounded silence, immovable silence. By immovable, it looks immovable. There is a state of nothingness, but you don’t have that experience, you kind of intuit that there’s this vacuum state somewhere, there’s no experience there. By the time you have an experience, there’s already, let’s call that pure intelligence or pure consciousness, it’s a self-knowing field.
Rick: It’s kind of a warmed up …
Harri: Warmed up, yeah, that’s a good way to put it. And that warmed up field, you can see what it is, you can actually see it, you can hear it, you can even touch it. And the reason you can have a sensory experience of pure consciousness is because it’s your experience, ultimately, ultimately it’s your personal experience. How can the absolute be personal? Well, it can be personal because it’s an experience. If it wasn’t an experience, you couldn’t have it. Since it is an experience, somebody is having it. That somebody is ultimately seen as a physiology as well, ultimately. And as soon as there’s a connection to God and the subtle levels, you begin to see it on a more cosmic level, but the individual, the I-ness of the individual is still there and is rediscovered. Many people lose that I-ness in some states of consciousness, but it’s regained, it’s regained. If the state of immortality exists, then somebody has to have that state, otherwise it’s not immortality.
Rick: Otherwise it doesn’t exist, I guess.
Harri: Otherwise it doesn’t exist. If you just merge into the absolute, then that’s the same as death. Now if consciousness survives, then something survives. What is that something that survives? The individual who is cosmic, the individual who is unbounded, the individual, the person, the I-ness of consciousness. It’s kind of interesting because the experience of pure consciousness, the experience of the I at a certain point is universal, it’s everywhere, the I is everywhere. Now to recognize that I as universal and personal at the same time, that’s the trick, that’s the trick of awareness, that’s the trick of enlightenment. They’re there together. There’s no difference between the unbounded I and the personal I, they’re the same thing, but they’re there together, they exist together. And that togetherness of the I, the I is everywhere, but the I is still focused at the center of the wheel, the hub of the wheel. So let’s say consciousness starts expanding from the center and goes in all these directions. If the I-ness of the pure consciousness of that first initial experience is seen as the Self and it doesn’t lose itself in the pieces, let’s say that all the pieces of consciousness join each other, they’re like a web, right? So the web can get as big as you like, but because all the points in the web are joined, they continue to be pure consciousness, they continue to be wholeness. As a matter of fact, the more of these points, the more of these layers, the more of these even relative phenomenons ultimately that you experience, the more they reveal the Self, the more they reveal even the silence.
Rick: “The world reveals Brahman,” is that saying?
Harri: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: Cool. Well that was a little far out and abstract for some people maybe, but it might be a good stopping point.
Harri: Yeah, I think so.
Rick:Yeah. So, this is good. I guess I’ll just make some concluding remarks, and you probably don’t have any final comments because that was a good one, but if you want to you can.
Harri: Okay, I’ll make just one comment. I do tend to go out there sometimes with …
Rick: That’s good stuff, I mean, and I could start probing you on that and all that.
Harri: But, you know, everything in pure consciousness, everything on these levels, everything has a practical day-to-day. The story of my life, my daily life, is the same story as it is on the subtle level. It’s the same story that is on the Absolute, it’s one story. And everybody has that story, everybody has that connectedness, everybody is a totality of a consciousness. I know that sounds out there, but totality is a simple state, it’s not a complicated state. Pure consciousness is a simple state, the subtle relative and the gross relative all tied together, it becomes knowable and becomes simple, it doesn’t become more complicated because everything is revealed. No one aspect of consciousness hides any other aspect of consciousness, and if it doesn’t hide it, it becomes clear and simple. There you go.
Rick: Well, for most people there’s plenty of hiding taking place, you know, many layers of obscuration. And so for most people this will be a long-term – for everyone, I’d say – it will be a long-term exploration, never-ending exploration. And it’s hard to say exactly where any one person is on the whole.
Harri: It’s almost impossible.
Rick: Yeah, but wherever one happens to be, keep on truckin’.
Harri: Keep on truckin’.
Rick: Because there’s yet more to explore.
Harri: Well, I’d like to thank you for having me again, it’s great, I enjoyed it, and we’ll do it again someday.
Rick: Yep. It’ll be interesting when your book comes out, I bet you it’ll sell well. So I’ll make a few concluding remarks. So I’ve been interviewing Harri Alto. Harri and I live in the same town, as you can tell, and this interview has been one in an ongoing series, there are about 240 of them or so now. You can watch them all – not watch them all, but you can investigate to see what ones there might be to watch by going to batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, and there you will find, under the “Past Interviews” menu, you’ll find an alphabetical index, a chronological index, and a topical index, categorical, which we’re doing our best to sort out. There’s also, on “Future Interviews” menu, there’s a list of upcoming interviews, and there’s also a page to suggest a guest, if you’d like to suggest someone to be interviewed. There on the site you’ll also find a “Donate” button, which I appreciate people clicking and need people to click, if they can, to keep this whole thing going and expand it. There is a chat group, which gets quite lively sometimes around each interview. Each interview has its own theme in the chat group. There is a link to an audio podcast, so you can listen to this just in audio while you’re driving or whatever. And there is a link to sign up to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted, and some other stuff too, if you explore around. So thank you for listening or watching, and we’ll see you next week with, I believe, David Hoffmeister, I think his name is. I think he’s a Course in Miracles guy, so we’ll talk about that. Okay, thanks. Thank you, Harri.
Harri: Thank you. It was great. Thanks for having me.