Helen Hamilton Transcript

Transcript of BatGap interview with Helen Hamilton.

>>Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually Awakening people. We’ve done about 565 of them now, if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to Batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. And if you don’t like to use PayPal, there’s also a donations page that explains how to send a check or whatever. My guest today is Helen Hamilton. Welcome, Helen.

>>Helen Hamilton: Hi, Rick.

>>Rick Archer: Helen is a spiritual teacher based in West Yorkshire in the north of England and is a mother of four. After struggling through her own awakening, several years ago, Helen was driven by the urge to simplify awakening for all beings and to share the essential pointings that allow us to overcome common challenges along the path to freedom. Her teaching style is direct and uncompromising in its insistence that we already are what we are searching for, and yet her teaching encompasses compassion and wisdom to help us dissolve our ego with love and understanding. She teaches worldwide and holds regular satsangs online and other events, probably in person when there’s not a pandemic going on. Right?

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. All right. So Helen has done this before in other interviews. But I’d like to just sort of have her walk us through her life a little bit, you know, some of the steps that she’s taken. I listened to an interview the other day in which she did that. And one thing that jumped out at me, Helen, which will get us started is that, you know, when you were a little girl, you were seeing auras and stuff like that, and you know, just kind of came naturally. And you assumed for a while, that that’s what everyone saw, and then eventually realized they didn’t. And I think this is part of a pattern, perhaps, with people I’ve interviewed who obviously, later in life, they’ve had some sort of spiritual awakening, which is why I’m interviewing them. But early in life, they were a little bit unusual as a child, more sensitive, more aware, some are even, you know, very consciously in a state of unity, which they then began to lose as they got into their teenage years and stuff.

My theory about it, which of course, is only a theory is that, you know, we live through many lifetimes. And we all come into this life at a certain level of evolution based upon what has been developed in previous lifetimes. And you know, if a child is seeing auras or feels like they’re in Unity Consciousness, they’re probably a pretty highly evolved soul having evolved quite a bit in the past. And even though they might go into a muddled phase as a teenager, as most teenagers do, eventually the urge to sort of wake up, you know, gets really strong with them, much stronger than it does with the average person. And you know, won’t let them rest until some kind of resolution. What do you think about that?

>>Helen Hamilton: Well, you just described my life actually. Yeah. There wasn’t any unity consciousness growing up, but it was quite the opposite actually, there was just this constant fear, dread, and just this feeling that something was wrong, that I couldn’t put my finger on it. And it was just always in the background there. And this seeing auras and everything else, it just kind of added to that, that I was different from everyone else, I didn’t fit in, all of that, just kind of accumulated into a very awkward teenager. And then into trying to be normal you know, trying to, like we all do I guess, at that point, just trying to fit in with life and all that seeing auras went away for a while. I think I must have managed to stop it somehow without realizing, just wanting to…

>>Rick Archer: Did it come back?

>>Helen Hamilton: It did. After my third child was born, my son, I went into a very deep depression, and it just kind of really, there was no outer-worldly reason for it. I had a decent life, I had you know, three kids then. There was just this hole inside that had been there forever, that just kind of, probably really familiar story. But…

>>Rick Archer: Do you think it was like a normal postpartum depression or had some kind of spiritual dimension to it?

>>Helen Hamilton: Probably both the official reason was postpartum, but it had been brewing for a while. And I guess I’d always thought that having children would fill that hole and it did for a while but so I began drinking and kind of towards my late 20s and just could have easily become an alcoholic, except for the fact that I discovered meditation and kind of got addicted to the bliss that comes…realized that’s what I’ve been looking for, in a way. So the addiction swapped from that to trying to meditate as much as possible.

>>Rick Archer: That’s good. If you’re going to be addicted to something, better meditation than alcohol.

>>Helen Hamilton: I could have easily gone that way. Definitely.

>>Rick Archer:  Yeah. What made you aware that meditation even existed or was something you could do?

>>Helen Hamilton: I got really interested in brain chemistry with the depression, because I was taking, at the time, antidepressants, and they helped, but I read something somewhere about meditation affecting the brain and serotonin levels. So I kind of got interested in that. And then, ‘ok let me try some of this meditation.’ And I tried some breathing stuff and all of that. And you know, quite nice. But then my friend gave me this meditation and said, ‘You just sit, and you look at your third eye.’ And I’m like, What’s the third eye, you know, and I was just gone, like I experienced something that I couldn’t explain. And I didn’t, yeah, I just didn’t want to come back at all. So I became, you know, probably like everyone it swung that way, and just spent as much time as I could, you know, in my bedroom with my eyes closed…

>>Rick Archer: I’ve noticed that, you know, people who were kind of unusual as kids, very often what later on when they learn to meditate, they just like, BOOM you know, they’re just like, really…really take off right from the start. It’s not like, they take to it like a duck to water, they don’t have to like, sit there and struggle or figure out how to do it or anything else. It’s kind of like, natural.

>>Helen Hamilton: I kind of, I still had to go through that, I definitely had to. But I knew from that first time I’d had that taste, you know, and then, of course, my mind rebelled, like everyone does. But it was like, I just felt like I’d found what I was looking for. I didn’t realize I’d been looking my entire life until I felt this bliss and just, but I had to battle through the mind, you know, bringing attention back like everyone does, to that and no clue what I was doing. But just really enjoying it and like you say, it was healthier than alcohol at the time, so I was just kind of glad that I wasn’t going down that route anymore.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Did you ever get any formal instruction in meditation, or you just always sort of, did it your own way?

>>Helen Hamilton: I did join there’s a teacher in California actually is to go online with it to, kind of, got into Shaktipat meditation and Kundalini and all of those things and could reach some amazing states and meditation just, you know, mind-blowing bliss and ecstasy but when it was time to get up and go back, you know, to cook dinner or whatever, there was just this fear again that was constantly present and a lot of anger, and again this feeling that something was wrong. And it polarized my life even more than I was trying to get back to that feeling and trying to avoid life.

>>Rick Archer: I heard you say in that other interview that, you know, you had had a fairly successful life in many respects, you’d been into sort of what was it, Herbalife, or something like that? Yeah, and done quite well with that became some kind of a ‘Gold Crown’ whatever they call it…

>>Helen Hamilton: I’m always obsessive about everything I do, and that I’d tried all these different things, you know, through 150% in and then kind of realized it was, this is where I wanted to put it, you know, in the truth, but yeah…

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah. I’m pretty obsessive myself. Welcome to the club.

>>Helen Hamilton: I think it’s a prerequisite, right, for awakening, you have to be a little obsessed.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I always say OCD can be your friend.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yes. When properly placed at least

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, you got to admit, I mean, guys like the Buddha or Ramana and others, they were pretty obsessive. I mean, just adamantly, you know, intent on what they were seeking.

>>Helen Hamilton: And it’s always viewed as such a bad thing, obsession, but it’s really just devotion, isn’t it, we’re talking about there. Yeah, it’s a fine line between obsession and devotion.

>>Rick Archer: And again, it depends on what you’re obsessed to, like if you’re obsessed to spraying the doorknobs with disinfectant, every time you go in and out of the house, that could be an aberration. But if it’s on something laudable something really worthwhile, then it can have its value. Because obviously, I mean, think about people who, I mean, we’re putting a positive spin on obsession, but think about people who don’t actually take anything very seriously and just sort of drift around and you know, can’t hold a job, can’t stay in a relationship, just don’t stick with anything. It’s kind of wishy-washy, they get wishy-washy results.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. I think for me, this is the first time I’d really found where I could put my obsession, where it could be a positive thing, rather than trying to control my life or manipulate other people, like we all do, you know, it was okay, this is something worthwhile investing in.

>>Rick Archer: So we don’t have to go through all the business ventures and stuff that you did, but in terms of once you actually got on the spiritual path, started meditating, and then take us through some of the stages of growth you underwent with that. Like what are some of the things you explored, some of the teachers, some of the teachings, some of the practices, you know. What kind of results did you get from different things as you went along?

>>Helen Hamilton: Gosh, that could be a whole hour in itself, I think I kind of went on this, without realizing, the study of all the major pathways I could find, you know, and all the religious…For a while, I studied the Christian mystics, and you know, wanted to know what made them tick, so to speak, and St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa. And then, you know, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Pretty much every pathway I kind of stuck my nose into and I wanted to find out what is it that’s common between them all? Is it you know, like, had the Bible and read all these different texts, and there was this common thread running through them all, and I just loved the way truth expressed itself was trying to find something. I don’t know, I  just kind of researching for years, and tried about 64 different types of meditation.

>>Rick Archer: Such a precise number.

>>Helen Hamilton: Might be a slight exaggeration, but yeah, it was getting close to that. I tried, you know, all the New Age stuff; I tried hypnosis, I tried rewriting my subconscious beliefs. I tried positive affirmations, because I was aware that there were thoughts going on that were, you know, creating experiences. So I tried the law of attraction, and pretty much everything I tried just made it worse. My life, my outer world got worse. Wherever it happened. It was just yeah…

>>Rick Archer: And yet, when you meditated, you were still experiencing bliss.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, absolutely. And it was just getting stronger and stronger.

>>Rick Archer: That’s interesting…

>>Helen Hamilton: And yeah, and it’s kind of aware of, almost addicted to it, but it just couldn’t stop doing that. And eventually, this realization that it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I mean, it wasn’t changing me, I was still really divided inside, you know, could have this beautiful experience and then this kind of total avoidance of life, wanting to try to get away from the mundane life. It was…[overlapping dialog]

>>Rick Archer: Maybe that was the problem…maybe you had this attitude of wanting to get away from the mundane life and that’s why life wasn’t working out.

>>Helen Hamilton: Absolutely.

>>Rick Archer: Because when I learned to meditate, I not only experienced the inner bliss, but my whole outer life changed for the better quite dramatically. But I wasn’t trying to get away from it. You know, I was like, into a rock band, I was a drummer and I got into school, and I was doing all this stuff that I hadn’t had the coherence to do beforehand.

>>Helen Hamilton: But when you said at the start about, you know, certain beings having a head start or being more advanced in this life, I think my challenge in this life was to learn to enjoy this life, not to try to escape. You know, I was always trying to get away somewhere else.

>>Rick Archer: Maybe you had had, like, recluse lifetimes where you sat in a cave or something…

>>Helen Hamilton: Probably yeah. And it’s okay, now can you do the school run? Can you do the food shop? Can you do all those things, you know, and actually function in life, that’s what seemed to be the challenge.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah, it’s true. I mean, actually, it’s a little silly of me to say, well this is what happened to me, because everybody’s situation is different. And you know, there are obviously certain universal patterns, but we all have our unique path to walk, you know?

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. Absolutely.

>>Rick Archer: How old is your youngest child now?

>>Helen Hamilton: She’s just turned 13 now, so.

>>Rick Archer: Okay. So you’re still living…

>>Helen Hamilton: She’s still at home, yeah. The youngest of the four are at home, the rest are off, university and stuff.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Having four kids will keep you grounded.

>>Helen Hamilton: Certainly did. It certainly did. Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: Have any of your children shown an interest in spirituality?

>>Helen Hamilton: My youngest one, they all did in their own way, but they definitely are now going through that same phase that we all go through, which is, you know, cause Mom’s a weirdo, Mom does this weird stuff for work, you know, so it’s more like, can’t you just get a normal job Mom? They do, in their own way. But they’re at that age where they just want to, you know, they don’t want a strange Mom that’s doing something like satsang.

>>Rick Archer: Right and if you had a normal job, they’d probably be saying, ‘Oh, you’re so ordinary, you know, you’re just…why don’t you do something weird?’

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. I was like that at that age as well. You’re just exploring your separate sense of self, aren’t you? Having fun.

>>Rick Archer: Okay, so what turned it around for you? So you know, you having this deep inner bliss, but the outer life is, you know, not so good. How did you finally break through?

>>Helen Hamilton: I just got so desperate I think. I just, I couldn’t stand the swinging between, you know, you hear it from a lot of people. It’s just heavenly experiences, and then this complete opposite. And I realized, after about seven years, I think that I must still be in duality somehow, still looking for truth as an experience rather than a constant thing. And I can’t remember, I was reading some book at the time, and it just said, “Truth is not an experience.” I think it was “I Am That” at the time. And it just hit me, I was like, ‘Okay, this must be something further than I’ve seen, and something deeper.’ And then I just kind of got excited again, because I felt like I had a way forward. I’d been stuck for a long time.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I guess everybody that is listening to this understands what we mean by that ‘Truth is not an experience.’ You want to elaborate on it a bit, just to clarify the point.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, it’s a very common mistake we all make, I think, isn’t it? Because we’re taught to value experience as a separate being. There’s a ‘me’ here and what I’m experiencing. And, you know, we get into a nice state in meditation, which is blissful. And we’ve kind of all heard that truth can come with that bliss and that peace and that love. So it’s easy to make that mistake to go, ‘well, this must be it then.’ And it might be quite some time before we realize that this, it doesn’t last, it’s not a constant thing. It’s not stable. And I’m also experiencing the opposite still, you know, sort of fear and unworthiness and all that stuff that comes from feeling separate. So I think it takes us a while to even realize there IS something beyond experience, something that’s constant. We’re not taught to look in that way.

>>Rick Archer: Just to play devil’s advocate a little bit, you know, it’s not wrong in any sense that meditation can be blissful. Yeah, and actually, it can be transformative. So you’re sitting there in this deep, beautiful blissful state, and your physiology, your brain chemistry and structure, and all this stuff is actually getting changed in various subtle ways. And there’s been a lot of studies on this stuff. And yeah, so you’re kind of fine-tuning the instrument. But obviously, you can’t live life in a meditative state, eyes closed, you know, hardly breathing or anything. You have to, you know, integrate that into all phases of life.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. And that’s what was missing for me and that integration and the desire to stay in that feeling just became so strong, it’s like, okay, how do I, how do I live this? When I’m doing the school run and that led to a kind of discovery, the more direct teachings, you know, the sort of non-dual teachings and…

>>Rick Archer: By school run, I think you mean, like taking your daughter to school right, and doing all the usual Mom stuff that kind of

>>Helen Hamilton: All of that, yeah and running a business and you know, all of that, that comes with life. And whatever our particular life is.

>>Rick Archer: One analogy I find helpful is that, you know, you take a shower in the morning, and then you go through your day, and you don’t stay any cleaner by remembering the shower, you know, thinking, ‘Oh, that was such a good shower, I got so clean, I better hold on to my cleanliness.’ You just, you know, you just forget about it and go through your day. But the shower has had an influence which carries through the day. So like that, you know, you meditate in the morning, if you do and then you, you can forget about it and just go through your day engage in what needs to be done, but there will be a lingering influence, but it’s not by virtue of remembering what happened in the morning.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, which I think is what I was trying to do, you know,

>>Rick Archer: trying to hold on to it while…

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, very much like my life depended on it or something.

>>Rick Archer: Uh-huh. Yeah, that doesn’t work.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I found that out eventually.

>>Rick Archer: Okay, and then, well maybe I’m skipping ahead if so, fill in the gaps. But uh, you had a rather pivotal moment when you went down to see Adyashanti in London.

>>Helen Hamilton: It was…I’d been studying the nondual teachings for a while and various teachers like Adyashanti. And I could speak it all, I could sound ‘awake,’ like a lot of people can, but I just sat in that room. And it just, there was just all this love being, it just felt like it’s been poured down through the top of my head. And it was just filling, filling up my entire being, and I was just crying for about five hours after that. And it just became, it’s like, I’ve just been waiting. I mean, you hear the old, you know, about the dry wood and the fire, the flame, and it was just exactly like that, I was just completely ready to, I don’t know, might have been very dry wood. And it just, you know, went up in flames ready to become a very real thing, a very lived thing.

>>Rick Archer: And it might have been Rupert Spira, and you know, somebody else that you went to visit but I think your time had come.

>>Helen Hamilton: Definitely yeah, it’s…The desire was just so strong at that point to live it. I didn’t want to read about it anymore, or just experience it and wanted to live it. And it was like the only thing that was important left in life, really.

>>Rick Archer: And that’s important, too. You mentioned the Yoga Sutras. There’s a line in the Yoga Sutras where Patanjali talks about Yogis of varying degrees of intensity, you know, mild-medium. And he talks about Yogis who have vehement intensity in terms of their desire for liberation, that comes more quickly.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I was just at that point, I was pretty desperate before that, it was there. I had a couple of times just sitting on my knees in my bedroom praying, you know, just help, just help. I can’t I can’t live like this anymore. It’s very, yeah. Of course, that prayer was answered, but not in the way I expected.

>>Rick Archer: “Seek and ye shall find, knock and the door shall be opened.” Do you ever advise people to in some way, intensify their desire for enlightenment, or do you just kind of, if it happens, it happens?

>>Helen Hamilton: I think it’s something that just builds on its own, doesn’t it. And I think if we find our way to a non-dual path, somehow or other we’ve got there, or very direct teaching it’s pretty much already on fire in someone. It’s usually just I found the self-doubt that’s in that person that needs to be addressed that they don’t feel it can happen for them inside.

>>Rick Archer: That’s a big one. In fact, that was one of the main reasons I started this show. Because you know, I live in a town where several thousand people meditate, and people were naturally having awakenings. And they would sometimes tell their friends, and the friends would sort of scoff at them. And they’d doubt it…there’s nothing special about you. You know, it couldn’t be happening to you, you look ordinary. And so I thought, well you know, I’m hearing both sides of this. I think I’ll start an interview show where I talk to these people and their friends can see that it is happening to a number of people and they’re ordinary. I mean, that’s the byline of this show is ‘Conversations with Ordinary Spiritually Awakening People.’ And that will instill greater confidence in them, you know that it could happen to them too.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, and humanity has been living the effect of the belief that it only happens to one or two people in a generation, and you’ve got to be some superhuman to have it happen or have the right karma or the right lifetime and all of that. And it’s time to turn that around, I really feel.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. And maybe there have been ages where that was true. And that’s why we have that belief. But I don’t think this is any longer such an age.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, well, especially with the internet, and all the variety of teachings that you can get. It just isn’t wasn’t like that before. It was that you’d have to give up everything in your life and go find a teacher and stay with them. And most people just couldn’t do that.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Look at you. I mean, you raised four kids. Meanwhile, you spent a lot of time on the internet, looking at teachings and listening to teachers and so on. And it was fruitful. That’s cool.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. So I just kept remembering, which is kind of the example I always use, that, if I Am That already as the sages have said, I must be able to realize it. Yeah, despite what my mind says, you know?

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, how can you be difficult to yourself?

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I mean, if you had to turn into something, or change something, then you could get it wrong, or it could take a while. And I really experienced that for a long time thinking I had to become this. And then it just began to get clearer that that wasn’t working. And what if I already AM this, then it’s just allowing it to come from the inside out, then. That’s a different process; much easier.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I heard you recommend contemplation in one of your videos or one of your talks. And maybe that’s what you mean by that. So would that be an example like you get the understanding, you hear the understanding that I already AM this. But you don’t just say, Oh, that’s interesting. And go on to the next thing, you actually go deep with that you contemplate it, you take it to heart, you dwell on it until it becomes more of a living reality.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, it’s a mixture of kind of self-inquiry and contemplation where really all that has to be done is to undo the beliefs that people are experiencing. You know, the Self is infinitely powerful, so if I feel I’m not good enough to awaken, I’m going to have to keep experiencing that, or if I have a lot of fear or if I have a deep-seated feeling that I can’t get what I want, and what I really want is awakening, I have to keep experiencing that not occurring, keep failing at awakening. So we’d use a contemplative technique to kind of undo these beliefs. And when this strong tendency to go with these thoughts has disappeared, and what remains is peace underneath. And realization kind of just happens then.

>>Rick Archer: So you think that just the dwelling on that idea that what you are is already peace, in some way dispels the doubts that you are that, if you just dwell on it deeply and persistently enough, it’ll dissipate that fog of doubt?

>>Helen Hamilton: I kind of realized that all these problems that my mind was telling me, that I’m not good enough, and I’m not going to be able to wake up and can’t find peace, all of that was only true if I was a separate being. And when I held all that up against what I’d been reading and all the scriptures and listening to from all these teachers, that stuff can’t be true. So okay, what if I, because we just automatically believe that what the mind saying that I’m not good enough, and it’s never going to happen for me, and you know, all of that. So, it’s just got to a point where, okay, if I already AM That, what’s left of these obstructions is still left, and it just all fell away then. I still had to do the meditation and everything, but it was easier.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. That’s great. I think I’m glad you’re making this point, I think it’s an important point. And traditionally, it’s actually a thing, if there’s even a Sanskrit name for it, I forget what it is, but you know, they emphasize several different legs to the table, you know, there’s a meditation practice of some sort. And then there’s this intellectual inquiry, which helps to remove doubts. In some cases, you have a guru or a teacher who can help you remove those doubts, you can express the doubts, and he’ll say, No, this this, and obviously, reading various scriptures and books that you know, present things clearly. So it’s not all just one thing or the other. In fact, there’s other legs to the table such as devotion and ethical practice and ethical guidelines and all kinds of things which, taken together make it much more likely that one will gain realization.

>>Helen Hamilton: If you’re only meditating and you’ve not got any technique to deal with what that brings up, you know, the more you see what you actually are, what you really are, the more everything from the egoic sense of self is going to come up to be looked at. And if you don’t have a technique to deal with that, such as contemplation of whichever way we’re doing that, then you’re gonna have this polarized life like I was,

>>Rick Archer: Like you were saying, yeah

>>Helen Hamilton: And it needs to be both, and usually to find some mixture of self-inquiry, meditation, contemplation, and devotion, as you said, and learning to trust your own judgment as well, your own inner guidance as well as to what’s right for you. All of that is important.

>>Rick Archer: That’s good, yeah. So it’s kind of a holistic, well-rounded approach. And also, I mentioned the ethical thing. I mean, I’ve seen I live in a town, as I said, where a lot of people meditate. And I’ve seen cases where people were meditating regularly, diligently, but then engaging in really unethical business practices, and you know, ripping people off in various ways. And there was even an investment company here that was high-pressuring little old ladies out of their life savings and put them into some risky commodities thing. And, you know, a lot of that ended up getting raided by the Feds and going under, that business. So, I really questioned the dichotomy that sometimes people live between this higher ideal of spirituality and the things they do in their lives.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, “by the fruits, you shall know them,” Christ said. And you can’t hide; your actions are always going to come from what you are aligned with inside and you can’t get away from that.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. And if you persist in trying to behave that way, you kind of undermine your spiritual development. It’s like trying to fill the bathtub but not plugging the drain. So the water just drains out as fast as it pours in.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, exactly. Good analogy.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. On your website, you use the terms ‘full enlightenment’ and ‘full liberation.’ And we’ll talk about that a little bit. I’m actually a little squeamish about using the word ‘enlightenment’ at all because it has this sort of superlative static connotation, you know. And it almost sounds like saying ‘full’ education, like, okay I’m educated now, can’t learn anything more. And I’ve heard you, yourself, say that, well, you’re deepening, you’re growing, you know, it’s an ever-unfolding thing. Who knows how far it goes? So how do you reconcile your use of those terms with that?

>>Helen Hamilton: For me, there was ever-deepening seeing that I am not a separate being. And that became just so clear, that I couldn’t seem to think in terms of being a separate being anymore. But there is also this ongoing unfolding in the body and mind – deepening that’s just never-ending and in fact, speeding up, you know, becoming…How the Self does that, I have no idea; how does it be absolutely what it is, and somehow keep evolving at the same time. But that’s the experience that’s going on, still for me. Of course, I did what everybody does which is, you know, have this big experience and go right, I’ve seen it now, that’s it. You know, I’m there now. And after about two weeks of denying the existence of the relative world, I started to really suffer again, and I kind of “hang on, this must be, there must be more to see, every time I started suffering again, I realized there must be more to see and it became clearer rather, that the deeper seeing is going to also include the relative world, you know, the sense of duality is not a mistake or accident, it’s there for a reason so that we can enjoy this. It’s a sense, it’s not an actual duality, but that that needs to be included inside our seeing.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, you sent me two books. One was about “Dissolving the Ego.” And the other was, what was it called, “Reality Check?”

>>Helen Hamilton: “Reality Check”

>>Rick Archer: And the “Reality Check.” I recently took some classes with Swami Sarvapriyananda about the Mandukya Upanishad and Gaudapada’s commentary on that. Your “Reality Check” book reminded me very much of that because it sort of really emphasized that well, ultimately, there is no relative creation. Nothing ever happened. Nothing really ever manifested. And that’s true in a way. But there’s a term that Swami brought out in that class, which is a traditional Vedanta term of, how does it go? Vyavaharika Satya [Sanskrit] which means transactional reality. And he used the analogy which I’ve used many times in these interviews of, you know, that’s used traditionally In Vedanta of a roomful of clay pots, let’s say. And you come into the room, and you could say, there are no pots, it’s only clay. And you would be right actually, but only partially right, because the clay has taken the form of pots, and the pots have a function and you can use them and you might need them if you’re, you know, whatever. So I think we could use that as an analogy for what you just said about, you can’t ignore the relative creation, you can’t say it doesn’t exist. On some level, you may be right, but it’s not the total picture.

>>Helen Hamilton: It’s not…I’ve come across many people trying to deny their humanity, you know, that only the formlessness is, which is ultimately true, but that formlessness is appearing as a human being is showing up as a mother or a daughter or a husband or a wife. And that has to be embraced as well. How it’s appearing as your life, it has to be re-embraced. And that’s pretty much where I spend most of my time working on with people because there’s a lot more people having a seeing that, that the formlessness is what is real, the Silence. And then there’s this kind of aversion to when we think in terms of egoic sense of self, it’s still thinking in ‘either-or’ terms. So it says, okay, form is unreal, and formless is real. But the form IS the formless, so there’s got to be this reintegration of all of it, eventually.

>>Rick Archer: Well, there’s a simple test, although I wouldn’t advocate you’re advising it because you might get sued. But if you think that absolutely the relative creation is totally unreal, test it by stepping in front of a bus.

>>Helen Hamilton: Let’s not do that.

>>Rick Archer: See how that goes…

>>Helen Hamilton: Theoretically, we can see that one, yeah.

>>Rick Archer: Test it by stubbing your toe, you know, I mean…

>>Helen Hamilton: If I walk into this wall here, it’s gonna hurt.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, right, so it’s kind of a both/and thing. Do you have a background in science?

>>Helen Hamilton: I have a chemistry with biochemistry degree that I did. So I kind of had an interest in that. And I really got into quantum physics, you know, when I was searching in that searching phase, I suppose, like most of us do. So yeah, kind of an interest in science.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I picked that up from your “Reality Check” book, because you did a nice analysis of, you know, how we can sort of go smaller and smaller and smaller in terms of relative creation, and you know, eventually get down to a level at which there is no materiality. And you know, I’ve gone through that thought process many times myself, but you know, but again, you could say, on the level of quarks, for instance, that there are no atoms, there are no molecules, there are no bones, there are no cows or anything, but then you’re sort of neglecting these other levels of, we can say, excitation or manifestation.

>>Helen Hamilton: And that’s about right back to what you’re saying about the deeper seeing is that all of these; it’s none of these levels and it’s all of these levels at the same time. Yeah. You can’t say in the end, which one it is, you can’t say neither way of seeing it is more right than any one else.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I agree. So this is Robert from Tunis, which is the capital of Tunisia. He said, Could you offer some advice for obsessive thoughts, especially regarding other people? Thank you.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. If we look at why the mind is thinking, that was a key thing for me. Like, there’s this obsessive regurgitation of thoughts about other things and other beings. And it became clearer that if I looked at why the mind was thinking, what’s the fuel? What’s the source of the thought stream, that would be the only kind of permanent way to undercut that, to undermine that, instead of trying to do something with the mind directly, look at what’s sustaining the thought stream. And that is really the sense that there are other beings and other people there and that I’m only in one location, I’m a separate being here, everyone else is ‘other’ than me.

As I began to look at this, it just became clearer that the more I think about other beings the more separate they’re going to seem to me, the more separate they seem to me, the more I’m gonna think about them. And that is the cycle of illusion. So I began to sit with this question, “Is it really true that there are any other beings?” And that I began to…I felt absolutely crazy when I started with it because of mind saying, well of course there are, but it just began to, to contemplation learning that technique to slow the mind down, and to realize if I focus only on the appearance of things, our egoic sense of self, is always judging things based on how they appear to be because it’s formed from this, I guess you could call it ‘animalistic brain’ that had to make a quick decision about whether to run away from something or run towards it, back in Neanderthals. So if we’re still judging everything from that perspective, without realizing it’s not wrong, but everyone is always going to seem different, there is going to seem like there’s billions of beings, rather than just one. So to begin to look at the essence of that, you know, through a self-inquiry.

For me, it was a combination of self-inquiry. Well, if I’m not a separate being, if I can’t find a separate being when I look, are there really any other beings out there? Or is it the same one being? And then this question, this contemplative question, when I asked this question, ‘is it really true there are other beings,’ more and more there was just silence as an answer and mind would go quiet. So it was a combination of those that I used to, to get around this. Again, not denying that there always seems to be this relative world of other beings.

>>Rick Archer: I suppose we could expand Robert’s question to ask about, you know, what if somebody is obsessed with food, or with drugs, or with sex, or, you know, with any of the things that people get obsessed about. How can one, you know, uproot that tendency?

>>Helen Hamilton: So the question, that is looking at really why there is obsession with that thing. So if I’m overeating or indulging in something or, you know, I did this with alcohol for myself. What — what is it giving me that I don’t feel I can get without it? You know, what is the overindulgence giving me? And it was usually some sense of being able to get away from the mind, or some temporary lack of suffering, or comfort, or — we’re all looking for a few things; we’re generally looking for approval, to feel safe, to feel accepted, all of that. And we’re using these things to get that, a sense of comfort, perhaps. And when we really look at why we’re doing that thing, what’s the motivation behind it, then we can start to then ask, well, is that — is it really, actually true, that it’s not here already? My very going outside for it, it is reinforcing the idea I can’t have it from inside. And so switching over – of course, it’s not wrong to want those things, but how — you know, what’s the most efficient way to feel safe, to feel loved, to feel approved of, all of that?

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, and perhaps the common denominator of all those things that we crave is happiness itself, you know, we — we want love, approval, you know, gratifications of various kinds, because they bring some happiness, and we have a natural innate desire or tendency to seek — seek greater happiness.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, and I got in that — stuck in that loop myself with awakening. I want awakening because it’s going to make me feel better, more peaceful, and safe and all of that. But all the time I was denying then and experiencing that I don’t have it, I don’t feel it, I don’t feel peaceful. And I had to eventually let that go. This is the integration, right back to the integration we were talking about: Well, is it really missing actually? Or am I just experiencing the thought that it’s missing, this peace, this security, this approval, whatever it is that we’re looking for? And then it — I sort of made an effort to look and see — let me see if it’s already here, you know, let me see. I kind of explored Byron Katie’s work for a while and, you know, who would you be without this question was quite pivotal for me. And then, okay, well, is it already here, and I just haven’t allowed it to come, come forth, you know, to — to manifest?

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, if we take an extreme example, there are people who are psychologically disturbed, you know, who are definitely not experiencing peace. And you can’t just say to them, you know: peace is already here, right? I mean, you were kind of on the verge of really getting it clearly. But some people have many more layers of stuff covering it up. So there has to be some kind of a step-by-step progression, does there not, from — to greater and greater clarity to the point where it can be seen more directly?

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, most people have to start with some meditation practice, as we were saying before, and there’s usually some feeling and letting go of a lot of emotion, emotional charge that builds up in us as human beings. And then it tends to be after that has — most of that emotional backlog is dissipated, then there is opportunity there to kind of inquire a bit deeper and to look at that. That’s why I’m kind of so passionate about contemplation because it — it gives that openness for the emotions to be felt. We’re not suppressing when we’re asking a question. We’re not – we’re rather assuming a thought to be true or we’re asking if it’s true. And in contemplation, there’s an openness, the question, to feel whatever we’re feeling, to be whatever we are in that moment, or also to see if there’s a deeper experience. So we’re not denying how we’re feeling right now. We’re just seeing if there’s more to it than we’ve recognized.

>>Rick Archer: That’s good. Yeah, I mean, I’m reminded again, of the traditional path, which usually advocates different strokes for different folks. You know, if your mind is too agitated to meditate, for instance, you might be advised to just engage in some kind of selfless service, some seva, you know, where you’re just –

>>Helen Hamilton: Like a mantra, or something?

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, or some mantra practice, or — there’s different stages. Like Ramana, for instance, had about 10 or 12 main teachings that he offered people according to their situation, but — but he is always referred to as just advocating self-inquiry, but he actually stepped it down if he felt a person wasn’t capable of self-inquiry at that stage to something they could do.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, exactly. He said, like, silence was his highest teaching. But then, if you couldn’t do that, self-inquiry; if you couldn’t do that, meditation, I think it was. And then if you can’t do that, mantra; and then if you can’t do that, selfless service in some way,

>>Rick Archer: Right, right. Yeah, and there’s nothing lesser about any of those things; it’s just like, you know, what is that verse in The Gita: because you can perform it, your own Dharma, the lesser in merit is better than the dharma of another. So you just — it’s like this — you know, the third grade in school is not inferior to, you know, postgraduate work if you — if you try studying postgraduate calculus or something in the third grade, you’re just going to be frustrated so you just — but you could get there; you just have to kind of take — take the necessary steps.

>>Helen Hamilton: And you’ve got to meet someone where they are; there’s no point saying, okay, let’s do some self-inquiry if they just can’t even sit still because they’re so agitated.  You know, this — we’ve all had a lot of time believing we’re a separate being and it has created all this tension inside the body that needs to be looked at however we’re going to do that. So it’s — there’s no spiritual teaching, I guess, that is 100% effective for everyone all the time, and it’s really what — what that person needs at that moment.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. In your book, you — your other book, Dissolving the Ego, you — you bring out a bunch of different practices one could do, and I think we’ll have a chance to talk about those. But in every one, you kind of bring up like, okay, here’s what the resistance might be at this stage, you know, you try to do this and some resistance bubbles up. So what you just said reminded me of that, because there are barriers to be cleared away. And we may experience some sense of resistance in the clearing of them.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, absolutely. And our egoic sense of self is always trying to keep things the same. It doesn’t — that resistance is there to keep us safe; it thinks that’s how it’s going to keep us safe. So if we just expect that there’s going to be resistance to it. You know, there’s this myth in our mind somewhere, isn’t it, that the Buddha — you know, that somehow we can all be like the Buddha and just sit down under a tree for 40 hours and meditate, you know.  And I’m sure he didn’t even start off like that; he must have gone through the same process of wandering attention and not being able to sit still and restlessness and all that comes with that.

>>Rick Archer: And even before his final enlightenment, he got assailed by the demon Mara, who threw everything in the book at him, you know, trying to sort of dissuade him from — from that breakthrough, but he just kind of powered through.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, and we very literally have that, don’t we, when we’re sitting in a meditation seat, and we’ve just got that feeling, “I just don’t want to do this today. I don’t want to, I don’t want to do — I’d rather be watching something on Netflix or whatever”, you know.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. So there’s something to be said for regularity of what — if you have a practice, just sort of do it and don’t make excuses. Alright, I think I’ll just get up and do something else now. Because you don’t —

>>Helen Hamilton: Don’t –

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, go ahead.

>>Helen Hamilton: Sorry. You just don’t beat yourself up.  If you can only do five minutes, that’s perfect. Start from there.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Good. Oh, and that brings up a good point too, which is that I’ve seen cases where people just say, all right, I am just going to — you know, enlightenment or bust right now; I’m just going to sit here and meditate until my head explodes. And sometimes it does, but not in a good way, you know? Safety first.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. That’s one of the reasons I moved away from the Kundalini path because there was a lot of misinformation in that and I saw some quite damaged people from doing too much meditation, without any — I suppose you find that in any path at all, not just that, but — if properly done, it’s fine. But there’s all this stuff coming up, and they’re not looking at it; they’re not dealing with it; they’re not processing it.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. No, this is a good point. I mean, the spiritual path is very rewarding, but at the same time, it is actually kind of a razor’s edge.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yes.

>>Rick Archer: And it has to be taken with a certain degree of seriousness and caution and prudence and carefulness and — and all that, because you can actually get yourself in worse trouble by…

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. It’s one of those things, isn’t it? I think we all end up needing some guidance from someone at some point along the path. But how do you know that you’ve found the right person? How do you know this person can help you? And inevitably like — like in any — anything we’re trying to achieve in life, there’s going to be those that are trying to mislead us. And so I’m kind of always saying, you know, if what any teacher or teaching is saying is true, it must be able to be experienced, to some degree, at least, to prove it in your own experience.

>>Rick Archer: What are some criteria that you would outline in terms of evaluating a teacher?

>>Helen Hamilton: Firstly, how — how you feel when you’re with that teacher, whether online or in person, are you experiencing something deeper than you normally experience? And when you apply that teaching to the best of your ability in that moment, are they — is your life getting better, basically, in the inner and outer, as we were saying before. And your own intuition is going to tell you more about that being than, you know, any amount of words will. And just to, you know, always the safety of — if they ever tell you to do something that you don’t agree with no matter how enlightened they may seem, then you don’t do it. If it doesn’t feel good to you, you – you don’t do it.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. I would add to that, that they should be kind of — they should be walking their talk. I mean, if you –

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, absolutely.

>>Rick Archer: They should be someone that you would actually want to be like. And in many — now obviously, we all have our own personalities. But if they — if they’re a raging alcoholic, and they’re sitting up on stage drinking the entire time they’re talking –

>> Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: — you know, like Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, who died in his 40s of alcoholism, then maybe — I mean, there are people who —

>>Helen Hamilton: They still have a little more work to do.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah.

>>Helen Hamilton: That’s the — that’s the — they should be — again, back to by their fruits, you will know them.  You know, you’ll find that — they should be able to live what they’re talking about, should be coming from their own direct experience.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. That’s a good point. I mean, it — that applies to any field. I mean, you wouldn’t go to study physics with somebody who obviously didn’t understand it, or whose life as a physicist was a total failure or something. So I guess I could — I could turn this into a question is: what would you consider to be the characteristics of enlightenment? Setting aside the fact that we all have our individual characteristics, but what are some universal qualities or values that one could expect to see in enlightened people? Yeah, that’s enough of a question; you got it.

>>Helen Hamilton: I guess an absence of – of course, it can express itself in an infinite number of ways and an outer in terms of personality, but an absence of any conflict inside and absence of any sense of division inside, definitely. A lack of wanting — you know, being able to cause harm to any other being, you know, is always — or themselves, of course, you know, is always a good — a good sign, and it should be an authentic lived thing, as you said. If they’re walking their talk, it’s always going to be an authentic and basically — it can express itself in, you know, in any way at all in terms of personality and mind and quirks and traits and all of that. But somebody who is deeply at home in their own life, you know somebody who was completely from perhaps from the outside, would just appear completely normal, ordinary, just going about their life. In the old — you know, before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. And, you know — so if anyone’s saying I’m so awakened, you know, then they’re probably not, you know, it’s — it becomes very ordinary and settled and authentic and just at home in my own —

>>Rick Archer: A certain humility you’re alluding to.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, and the — when it’s truly deepened inside, there’s a sense that I’ve always been this. So I’m just coming to see it; I haven’t done anything special. You know, if I’m standing up there going, you know, where’s my enlightenment flag, you know, that’s — that’s not an authentic deep seeing; you still have further to go yet, let’s just say.

>>Rick Archer: It’s funny. After I asked that question and you were answering it, I remembered that that’s the question that Arjuna asked Krishna in the Gita.  He said, you know, what are the signs of such a person? How does he walk? How does he sit? How does he talk, and all?  And most of Krishna’s answer had to do with inner considerations, you know, which wouldn’t necessarily be evident from the outside. But then there were also some external things like you mentioned, in terms of integrity and — and that kind of thing.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. There’s usually a total diminishment of fear and suffering, and joy, you know, peace, love, is ever-deepening, as we were saying before, but an absence of feeling divided, you know, not — not even seeing a division between the self and the ego, you know, that that even has disappeared, that — that’s the hallmark of authentic awakening, you know, in terms of being at peace really, there’s — there’s no — the conflict comes from the sense of being divided, trying to get back to something.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. An interesting question came in from someone named Vesna in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, who asks, if — if we are all one, how can we explain the whole array of saints, angels, and even Jesus Himself? One day I prayed to Jesus, and immediate relief was there. That made me even more confused. How can we be one and many, including saints, at the same time?

>>Helen Hamilton: It’s a very good question. It’s — it’s very common as well. And it confused me for quite some time. But the formlessness, that with — the real being a self that we are is just one and infinite. And there isn’t anything other than that. But it’s like — the old analogy is that the manifested jewel, the jewel, or diamond, or whatever you want to say, is one and whole and complete. But it can have an infinite number of faces on it, facets on it, and each one appearing to be different. And each one appearing to be unique. And again, if we look through the mind and the senses, all this always seems to be different. Every human being seems to be different. If we look at the surface characteristics, the way the self is appearing; you know, you like this to eat, I don’t, you know, all of that. But at the same time, also underneath is this formless, unchanging reality that also has the ability to appear in always infinite number of ways. And there was a time when I got really obsessed with the word individual, but I’ve kind of got this thing about the etymology of words. And it breaks down into indivi, which is Latin for indivisible, and duo, which means two. So the individual is not a separate thing; it’s the unique way the self is appearing. But it’s — still it’s the indivisible one. It’s — it’s kind of one of those questions that really a teacher can’t answer. How does the self appear to be billions of forms, infinite diversity, when it’s really just one? I guess we could say when we look through our senses, because our senses are seeing vibration, and it could be infinite, different vibrations in this ocean.  It’s always going to appear to be different, but it isn’t actually underneath when we really look, as we were saying before,

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Tim Freke used the term “unividual”.

>>Helen Hamilton: I like that. Yeah, that’s good. Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: I mean, we could extend this — this question to the universe itself. Right now on my screen, I’m looking at a picture of galaxies. I can see dozens of galaxies in this photo that’s my background.

>>Helen Hamilton: I saw you — I heard you in one of your interviews say that you got the pictures from the Hubble telescope. I’ve been obsessed with them ever since. I’ve got one now.

>>Rick Archer: Oh, good. I’ll send you a whole collection if you’d like. I’ve got hundreds of them.

>>Helen Hamilton: They’re just so beautiful.

>>Rick Archer: They really are, yeah. And you know what Vesna asked about, you know, the multitude of individuals, you know, Jesus and angels and all that stuff, you could ask the same question about the universe itself. There’s this all-pervading oneness, and yet there’s this explosion of diversity, and yet they somehow are compatible with one another.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I think at some point in my — my own pathway, I — I did what everyone does and goes: there’s no point praying, because there’s nothing else to pray to and, you know, and — and then when I got desperate enough, I was on my knees praying, and actually developed a kind of a relationship with Christ in a very energetic way, as the questioner was saying, and it really taught me to appreciate the way the Self is appearing, as all this diversity in that in every great teacher that’s walked this planet, it’s been different. And every student’s been different, and every blade of grass is different in appearance. It’ll never be the same thing twice; it’s the infinite nature of it.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, that reminds me of that thing I was trying to remember a while ago when I spaced out and couldn’t think of what it was, but — and that is, I was listening to one of your recordings, and you were talking about how — correct me if I’m not saying this right — how the — the body is not intelligent, or something like that. It just sort of goes along. And I mean, I thought about that; I was thinking, okay, now, we would call Einstein intelligent, and we would call Tesla intelligent, various intelligent people, but what are — what’s actually going on with them? What’s the source of that intelligence? And the answer might be, well, yeah, there’s this field of intelligence and those individuals happened to be really — happened to have been really good reflectors or expressions of that field.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, what makes a rock a rock and a human being a human being?  It’s the form, isn’t it, through which the self is expressing. And it’s limited by the form. And even in any particular species, there are those that are — can appear to be geniuses, like in human beings, and there’s all a range of that, isn’t there? You can’t have a conversation with a rock, but it is still the Self.

>>Rick Archer: Although I know people who said they’ve had one, but yeah,

>>Helen Hamilton: I’ll probably try that at some point.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, so I don’t know, it’s — it’s — we can play around with this, but the whole universe is just this ever-evolving display of forms through which consciousness or intelligence is more and more fully expressed or is able to live more and more fully as a living reality.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. You could say, on the — the unmanifest is completely already itself. But when it takes an appearance or a shape, it’s constantly looking for more self-awareness and self-expression. And as a human being, it can do that; as an amoeba — it still has an experience but not so — not as complex as a human being.  And whatever comes after human beings will probably be even more self-aware somehow.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, so here’s a couple of questions that came in. Here’s a — here’s a mom question. Monica from Warsaw, so – I’m a mom of an 18- and 20-year-old, two kids. And at the very beginning of the awakening process — she is, I guess she’s saying — discovering the non-duality teachings going through pretty much the same process from depression to ecstasy due to meditation and self-inquiry, what I find the most difficult is to manifest presence with teenagers questioning and resisting everything. I’m putting the emphasis on there. So how did your path manifest in your parenting?

>>Helen Hamilton: Oh, gosh, yeah. That was — I think that children are our biggest teachers quite often. And being a parent for me brought out all of my unworthiness completely, just — it seemed to be a very dualistic experience, as we’re talking about, you know, coming out of meditation in this deep bliss and then getting a teenager attitude coming back at you. But the most direct way I found is to feel how you’re feeling in that moment. If you’ve some negative emotion arising due to this interaction, can you be authentically that in that moment, instead of spiritualizing yourself, you know, “I shouldn’t be feeling this way; I should be feeling peaceful”. And that is the disturbance, this idea that I shouldn’t be how I am in this moment. And I think Christ is such a good example of this; if he was angry, he was angry. He never tried to – and he had his doubting moments and all of that. And so there was, there was this process at first of denying how I felt, as we all do, but then, kind of — okay, I have to — if I’m going to be how I’m going to be what I am in this moment, that has to include feeling really upset right now, or whatever I’m feeling: anger, unworthy, and then allowing those emotions to be felt, that began to finally disappear.  Everyone is always trying to get away from what they’re feeling in this moment as a human being. And awakening is going to — especially teenagers are going to call you to feel that, definitely.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Ram Dass said, if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your parents. But as a parent, you get to do that all the time, you know?

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. And it’s a — it’s been a process for me like anything, to understand that I’m worthy of respect, and, you know, all of that, and then I’m already adequate and good enough as the Self. And I’m adequate and good enough as a parent, that most of what I think is going on in my head is not really how it is, but also respecting the fact that they are teenagers, and they’re going to do what teenagers do, you know.  So can I have this experience without allowing it to make me feel I’m not good enough inside? Can I just let this teenager be this teenager? And can I be myself in this moment? Which is, you know, a work in progress for most of us.

>>Rick Archer: You know how in Aikido, the martial art of Aikido, how you use your opponent’s energy to — to kind of, you know, take advantage of them, or take advantage of the situation? Do you think there could be something like that in parenting where you can use your teenager’s tendency to question everything as a great aid in helping both you and them go deeper in some way?  You say, oh, this is great, you’re questioning everything; let’s sit down and question everything together and — you know, let’s question this and that and question me, question you, question the government, and you could somehow just get into their world and use that as a spiritual teaching.

>>Helen Hamilton: In a way, I think if they’re open to that, yes, you can. But — I did a lot of, you know, using that outcoming force and turning it to my advantage, as you were saying, but — okay, why — why do I really feel I need respect from this being? If course we do, we want respect and all of that, but do I need to feel diminished if I don’t get it? Because more than likely, we’re not going to get it at that point, you know, from that person. So in that way, I used what was coming at me. Does it make me any less of a being if I’m not — if I’m feeling angry or upset; you know, can I forgive myself more for just being who — you know, feeling these negative emotions? And what happens when I stop saying should or shouldn’t about myself? Or this, you know, this teenager. Definitely — it started to shift then, that — there was better communication between me and my children then. And I was clearer in that moment, I was just able to feel more what I was feeling. And of course, I would want them to treat me better. But I wasn’t insisting on my own happiness coming from that.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah.

>>Helen Hamilton: My own peace.

>>Rick Archer: I suppose a little Byron Katie in here would be helpful too.  You know: Mom, you’re a jerk. Well, let’s see. Is it true that I’m a jerk?

>>Helen Hamilton: It was kind of — as we were saying before at the start, you know, there’s — you know, the last thing a teenager wants is a really weird spiritual teacher for a mom.

>>Rick Archer: That’s true.

>>Helen Hamilton: So it’s kind of this questioning of my own authenticity coming from an outside echo. Inside: do I really want to be this weird person as well, you know, so I kind of dealt with it on those levels as well.

>>Rick Archer: Interesting. We’ve never had kids, so I haven’t gone through all those challenges

>>Helen Hamilton: They’re great teachers.

>>Rick Archer: I’m sure.

>>Helen Hamilton: You can’t get away from it, yeah.

>>Rick Archer: Okay. So, now at any time during this interview, if a thought comes to your mind and you think I’d like to talk about this, then just let me know and just like we’ll launch into it; it doesn’t have to just be me doing that. So feel free to just, you know, shift gears, or get into some other area, whatever, as we go along.

>>Helen Hamilton: I kind of like where it’s going. I’m enjoying.

>>Rick Archer: Okay, good. It’s jumping around a little bit, but we’re covering all the bases. Here’s a question. Okay, this is a question, and it actually will lead me into another question I want to ask you. This is Rajiv, from somewhere in India saying: is there a difference between consciousness and awareness? Or are they the same?

>>Helen Hamilton: I think this is one of those tricky things about having so many teachers.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, and how we define our terms.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, absolutely. Usually, it depends what you mean by it. But there’s usually some term that teachers will use for the separate sense of self, you know, the ordinary mind, so to speak. And then another term they’ll use for the — the real Self, reality, whatever we’re calling it. And I think awareness and consciousness have just got so mixed up as to what they mean to each person, that you could say — I found it more helpful to say sort of limited expression of consciousness and unlimited, or limited expression of awareness and unlimited. When it thinks — when the Self thinks itSelf to be a separate being, it expresses in a very limited way; when it realizes its unlimited nature, it will express in an unlimited way.  People get kind of hung up on labels; you know, when each teacher calls things different things, it’s going to be confusing,

>>Rick Archer: it is confusing. I mean, so there’s, you know, I am aware of my hand. And that’s an ordinary thing. But then we also — we also refer to awareness or consciousness as having this, you know, unbounded, vast oceanic quality, which is not necessarily aware of anything; it’s just this kind of foundation of the universe. So again, it depends on what context we’re using terms.

>>Helen Hamilton: I’d say that they’re both the same thing; the same awareness that is looking at my hand just turns inwards to look at itself. It’s not — not any different. And perhaps it just feels — it has an effect on the body then when it looks at itself that’s more expansive and feels better than when it looks at a thought, experiences that thought then. So it’s the same basic awareness or consciousness underneath.

>>Rick Archer: Right. Okay. Another thing we’ve already talked about this a little bit, but, you know, after all my years of spiritual practice, and all these years of doing this interview show, I still feel uncomfortable when, you know, someone says, well, is so and so awakened? It’s like, I think, what do you mean by that exactly? You know, it’s like — so do you want to elaborate on that one a little bit? Because you use the term yourself on your website; you talk about becoming enlightened or, you know, becoming awakened and so on so – and we’re trying to talk here about standardizing terminology. So what do you mean?

>>Helen Hamilton: I think there’s various stages to it, you know, first — the first stage will be to realize I’m not my mind. I’m not my thoughts, I’m not my experiences; you know, the neti neti classic approach. And then, from that place, there might be quite some pause then between awareness wanting to move further into seeing. There’s quite a — really, there’s quite a relief for me seeing I’m not my mind and not my — you know, all of that. And then we have to kind of qualify what we mean when we’re asking if someone’s awakened. To me there is not really — not linear stages, but there seem to be several deepenings where first I’m not — I see I’m not my mind. And then I’ll come to see at some point that, you know, deeply not – I’m not a separate being at all; I’ll experience that somehow, either in self-inquiry or in meditation. And then there’s a deeper seeing of everything else is also that Self as well; there isn’t anything other than me. So I think it’s kind of a little bit problematic to say somebody awakened, because the answer is very — depends where that person is at and what they’ve seen and what they can understand by the answer even.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. And you know, that old saying that the — the Eskimos or the Inuit have like 50 words for snow or something because they’re so familiar with snow. Like in the — in the Indian tradition, there are actually many different words for various stages of awakening. They don’t just throw everything into one, one term. Yeah. So, you know, our English language is a little bit limited in that regard.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, definitely. And I think ultimately what matters most is that we’re not suffering anymore, that we’ve found — even if there’s negative emotion still arising for us and some egoic fragments coming up, are we feeling peace as well? Are we able to maintain that peace? That’s the — that’s the bottom line, isn’t it, that we’re all searching for?  Can I go through my life without suffering? You know, and that’s — that’s the fundamental thing.

>>Rick Archer: And one thing I like about your teaching is that you emphasize that it is natural to have such a realization. It’s not rare. It doesn’t need to be rare. It’s everybody’s — everybody’s birthright, you might say. And it’s not really far away. I mean, it’s not like some long, distant, far-off thing that you’re going to have to spend decades struggling to find. But I think that gives people hope.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I’ve found my own awakening experience is very much the opposite of that, as we were saying before, that I really literally experienced it being very, very difficult and taking a very long time, 25 years in the end.  Of course, all that was necessary to get to the point where I realized this isn’t working for me, there must be a more direct way. But it’s — if we’re not even starting from the right premise, how can we ever expect to experience the awakening to any degree? And if we’re starting — if we’re already the infinite — infinitely powerful self, whether we realize it or not, and we’re putting that infinite power behind this idea that awakening is really difficult, then we’re going to experience that over and over again.  And you hear this from a lot of people, you know, “I’ve been seeking for 30 or 40 years and don’t feel like I’m getting anywhere”. And, you know, it’s — let’s start from the right place of, you know, as we were saying before, can that really be true if I am that already?

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. There’s a couple of verses in the Gita. One is — it says, no effort is lost, and no obstacle exists. Even little of this Dharma removes great fear.

>>Helen Hamilton: I listened to that particular verse this morning actually.

>>Rick Archer: Oh, yeah? Cool.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. So there you go. I mean, it’s saying any — any effort you put into this is worthwhile. And ultimately, no obstacle exists. There may seem to be obstacles, but they’re not insurmountable. And even a little of this removes great fear. Now, if you’re going 40 years, and you don’t seem to be getting anywhere, then you might want to question your approach.

>>Helen Hamilton: Reevaluate the technique.

>>Rick Archer: Right.

>>Helen Hamilton:  Now, if you — if you go to bed tonight and you feel more peaceful than you did this morning, that’s success in awakening to me.  You know, if you — if you go through some traumatic event that would have really shaken you up and you cope with it better, that’s success, isn’t it? That’s — that’s actually really living it. Is this making a difference in my life, in particular?  And that’s the — that’s the — the bottom line.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Related to this awakening question, Laurie, from somewhere in the US says: can a person be awake and not know it?

>>Helen Hamilton: I haven’t experienced that with anyone. But I guess it’s theoretically possible that they’re just not, you know, not feeling divided inside. But I should imagine, at some point, it’ll become obvious to them that there — there is something very different about the way they see the world to other — other beings who are feeling, you know, a lot of fear and all of that. So I think the first seeing can happen without realizing what’s — you know, the seeing that none of this is what I think it is, and I’m not what I think I am; that can happen. I don’t want to use —  accidentally is not the right word, but just — it can just happen spontaneously. But the integration of that takes some conscious — even Ramana, you know, after his massive awakening, took him a good couple of years to kind of integrate that then.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I don’t –

>>Helen Hamilton: Which you don’t hear so much about.

>>Rick Archer: I heard Swami Sarvapriyananda talk about that. He’s the head of the Vedanta Society Center in New York that I mentioned earlier. He’s been on BatGap. But he was saying, you know, in terms of Ramana’s experience, that, you know, he had this full-blown awakening, but it takes — it can take many years for it to fully permeate –

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: — or integrate into all the structures of the — of the mind-body system. And so that’s why he sat in –what was that cave, guru — I forget the name of his cave on Arunachala for many years, before he came out and started interacting with people.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I don’t particularly see how someone could go through that integration process to allow it to reflect through the mind and body without noticing that something is happening.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. But you know, there’s the saying in the ….I’m sorry, go ahead…..

>>Helen Hamilton: I was gonna say, even if they’re not conscious of what is happening to them; they must know something is occurring.

>>Rick Archer: There’s a saying in the Bible that it can sneak up like a thief in the night; the kingdom of heaven can come like a thief in the night. And so some people have these blowout things like you did when you went to see Adyashanti, and you were crying for five hours. But other people….there’s this incremental sneaking up. And, you know, perhaps at some point something triggers that ‘oh, yeah, here it is, it’s been here all along, but it grew so incrementally that I didn’t notice.’

>>Helen Hamilton: It’s a really good point, actually; it’s something I do want to talk about because a lot of people are expecting it to be one or the other; I’m either gonna have this massive moment, or is it going to be slow and gradual? And it was absolutely both for me. And I see, you know, people are looking for one or the other, and they’re missing the progress they’re making.

And there were these pivotal moments, like you just said, for me. But then there was also this one moment where I don’t know me; I think it might have been an argument with one of my children, you know, something happened. And I just would have been really upset and distraught about it for, you know, hours and hours afterwards. And there was just no response inside, there was a ‘right well it would be better if that didn’t happen,’ you know, ’if we could resolve this peacefully.’ But all of a sudden, this time, there was just nothing that went into conflict inside. And when I was just kind of pretty amazed, because I don’t know when that changed. I couldn’t tell you the day and the time that that happened. You know, and I was waiting for this big firework moment, like everyone is.

So, I tried to think of other things that used to make me suffer. And then it was just the same thing. There was nothing in conflict inside I was just…. meaning, if there was fear, or anger or whatever I was feeling, I was able to feel it and peace at the same time. There was nothing that could reject what was happening in that moment. When that fell away, I can’t tell you exactly. So, it’s gonna be both; a lot of people experience both: this gradual, incremental ability to move through life; but there might also be some deeper moments as well, in that.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. And the way you function right now, as you go through your day, I’m sure it’s not this Wowie Zowie kind-of, you know, overwhelming flashy thing. And you’re not crying all day and, you know, drooling in ecstasy or anything like that. Yeah, you know, you’re just functioning normally. But…

>>Helen Hamilton: It happens every now and again; but, for the most part, if I focus on something like The Gita; I was listening to The Gita this morning, and there were tears and all of that.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah!

>>Helen Hamilton: But yeah, it’s funny. I think, usually it’s just kind of, you know, like this.

>>Rick Archer: Right. And yet, if you somehow could shift from the way you were 10 years ago, to the way you are now, instantly, you know, boom!  It probably would be quite, quite a shock.

>>Helen Hamilton: Like Ramana, yeah.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah. I mean, he just… he couldn’t function for a while.

>>Helen Hamilton: Very shocking! Yeah! I often think I’m quite lucky that it was very gradual for me. And I think we see more and more of that when somebody has a job and a family, and they literally couldn’t have one of those big explosive moments and take two months off work to assimilate it. it’s just not going to work like that.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay. So, a little while ago, we were talking about Kundalini, and you mentioned…. so, a question came in about that from Sonia in Amsterdam. You spoke about stepping away from your Kundalini journey. Could you explain what occurred to you to make that decision, or which situation made you decide to get off that journey?

>>Helen Hamilton: It was a combination of a couple of things. Firstly, there was greater realization that I was trying to make something happen from…..I’d been reading a couple of teachings that the Kundalini awakening would happen after realization rather than the other way around. And I was kind of realizing more and more that trying to raise the Kundalini just as it is, wasn’t working for me.

>>Rick Archer: What were you doing? Pranayama practices or something?

>>Helen Hamilton: The Third Eye meditation and there was lots of energy moving, and there were changes, and you know, these experiences happening. But again, it wasn’t providing any lasting change in my life. It wasn’t… I wasn’t able to take it out into my experience. And I was also aware of my addictive nature, and the fact that I was kind of getting addicted to that form of meditation, perhaps in an unhealthy way as well. So, it was a combination of both of those. And the realization that it was still something I was trying to do. I was trying to do it.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I was gonna just ask that, like you were making an effort to make it happen as opposed to it happening kind-of, spontaneously.

>>Helen Hamilton: There was a lot of effort; a lot of efforting! Olympic gold-medalist efforting, you know! OK, this isn’t going to get me there; I have to find some way to discharge this seeking-seeking-seeking, try-try-try energy, which was kind of getting in the way at that point.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve heard certain authorities say that… that you shouldn’t make an effort to raise Kundalini or any such thing, it’ll just sort of raise… it’ll rise naturally of its own accord when the time is right. But it could be actually dangerous to try to force it or something.

>>Helen Hamilton: There was definitely some- you know, and I don’t think it’s spoken about enough really- that the energetic component to awakening that happens, perhaps after a deep seeing, and there is a very much awakening of a lot of energy. And having to…. the body had to get used to that; there was a lot more energy than there used to be, that gradually settles down into….. there was this open outward movement that then this downward thing that happened as well, kind-of; I don’t know whether the right word is to say it was kind-of moving outwards, into my life and my relationships, and all of that. But there’s a very real path of the process. And that, to me, is what takes the time, and is, you know, needs to be worked with consciously.

>>Rick Archer: Do you feel like you have a lot of energy now, that actually just gets applied practically in your daily life more than you normally would, do you think?

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, it’s gone both ways. I can actually sit still here and not feel like I should be doing something. I can just sit with a cup of tea, and actually not feel I’ve got to get up and do something. But then when something needs to be done, it gets done, and it gets done a lot more effectively, a lot more efficiently. Rather embarrassingly, my body can handle all it needs to do without me in the way much better!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah!

>>Helen Hamilton: You know, without the thoughts in the way. So, you know, more energy, better sleep, better quality of sleep; just, you know, the body’s just better in itself really.

>>Rick Archer: That’s great! I mean that practical stuff is very valuable.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: In fact, there’s another verse in The Gita for you, which is that yoga is skill in action.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah! I love that!

>>Rick Archer: ‘Karmasu kaushalam’. It has a practical significance in terms of…..

>>Helen Hamilton: Oh absolutely, absolutely!

>>Rick Archer: ….in terms of functioning in life, you know.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, like, I break down at the side of the road; instead of going into panic mode, out of fear, can I just call a mechanic and, you know, without being swamped by all this unworthiness and fear and all of that.

>>Rick Archer: I’m laughing because I remember a circumstance, one time when I was driving along with my mother, and the car broke down. And to tell you how checked out I was, I actually pulled out a Shankara book and started reading it by the roadside, as if that was gonna somehow fix the car!

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah! If I just pray hard enough, this tire is gonna re-inflate itself or something!

>>Rick Archer: Speaking of energy, you mentioned somewhere, I think it’s on your website, ‘a major benefit of attending satsang is to receive the silent transmission from the awakened teacher. When we spend time in the energy of someone who is already enlightened, their aura or energy field is radiating a high-frequency transmission that is picked up by the student to the degree to which they are ready to receive it’.

So, you’re referring to yourself there, I suppose. And a friend sent me that because he was a little concerned about that. But I’ve experienced that so many times that, you know, I think, as long as it’s understood in the proper context, there’s nothing wrong with it. Sometimes it’s not the proper context and there’s this sort of I am special’ kind-of thing and ‘sit there and bask in my radiance’. But….

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. It’s like I experienced when I went to see Adyashanti. It was just something that happened. And it wasn’t a doing that anyone was doing. It was more like, well, the old analogy is if you strike a tuning fork, and there’s another one in the room, it’s going to start singing too. The same frequency, that’s all.

Even for the average person to experience that there is possible to be conscious and not thinking; that is a profound change that they might experience, maybe for the first time when they’re in Satsang with someone. But it’s not anything that anyone is doing. They’re not giving them anything.

You know, and that’s, that’s another reason why I tended to move away from the Shaktipat teaching and the Kundalini in the end; there was a lot of that going on in there. You know, I touch your third eye and you wake up, and you don’t have to do anything. And it’s like, okay, there’s a little bit more to it than that!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah! It also fosters a dependency on the teacher; you know, a kind-of a specialness or a, …..and also, I would add that, you know, it’s not just the teacher getting the other tuning forks going, it’s this sort of collective consciousness thing that happens, which the bigger the group, the more coherent the group, the more powerful it can be.

>>Helen Hamilton: And that’s what we’re finding. We’re finding the more people are having this deepening of seeing- being able to live that- the more that somebody is coming into Satsang for the first time, is finding it’s easier to believe that it’s going to happen for them; that it can happen for them.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah.

>>Helen Hamilton: That collective consciousness effect; 100th Monkey syndrome, or whatever you want to call it!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah! I was in a group one time of 8,000 people meditating for a couple of weeks; and not a couple weeks straight, but of course, for a couple…. And it was just really palpable, you know, just profound.

>>Helen Hamilton: Well, there’s been documented experiments with the effect of crime in major cities when people pray collectively or meditate together. And they’ve actually seen a dropping in the crime rate; spontaneous, same time as that’s going on.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, I was involved in those projects. We went to Washington, DC for a couple of weeks, one time, and there was this big change that was measured by sociologists. And I spent three months in Iran just before the Shah left, and there was a kind of interesting thing going on there with a group. Anyway. So collective consciousness, we’re just talking about and the fact that people radiating spiritual influence actually have an impact on society. So, it’s an interesting thing.

>>Helen Hamilton: And even just by their example; here’s someone that’s peaceful, you know, that it’s possible. I think there’s more of that needed. Because like we were saying before, there’s this sense in all of us that it’s only for somebody who can leave their life or, you know, somebody who is in the right lifetime, or has the right karma, and all of that. It’s so necessary to have modern-day examples.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. So, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Here’s something somebody sent me this morning. A quote from Woody Allen: ‘What if we’re all victims of a mass delusion and nothing exists? In that case, I definitely overpaid for my carpet!’

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah!

>>Rick Archer: I just gotta throw a joke in!

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: So, we have about half an hour left. What would we like to cover? There’s your whole book, you know, where you talk about the Noumenon and the phenomena; and there are a bunch of chapters in your…in your ‘Dissolving the Ego’ book, you know, advocating specific practices. So, what do you feel would be the most fruitful way of spending our time now during the remainder of this conversation?

>>Helen Hamilton: Well, meditation is a good thing to talk about; I think it’s a misunderstood thing in itself; it certainly was for me. That it’s a doing, or, you know, that’s the idea we all come to it with, that we’re…going back to what we were saying about efforting.

For me, the most direct form of meditation has also been the simplest, as I’m describing in the book. And really looking at this idea that if thoughts arise during meditation, or an emotion, that that’s disturbing my meditation, that shouldn’t be happening. Over and over again, I find people are trying to….expecting those things to stop, to go away during the meditation. And in fact, they can be an aide,,.. like you were saying about the Aikido.

If a thought is arising in meditation, you can notice that there’s awareness of that thought; you can only see it because there’s…, or even that sense of restlessness inside that you don’t want to meditate today, I just don’t feel like it; you can only know that’s there because the awareness is present first. And it’s worth raising this point because maybe our meditation is already perfect; we’re just not looking at it in the right way. You know, we’re not… if the phenomena are arising of thoughts and emotions and experiences, even deep states of peace, none of that has to be a distraction to our meditation,

>>Rick Archer: Right. Yeah, I taught meditation for quite a few years. And one of the things we always used to say is that anybody who can think, can meditate and that even if we’re in a noisy market or something, we don’t lose our ability to think. And I myself have meditated under very noisy circumstances, airports, and all kinds of places and….

>>Helen Hamilton: And children…

>>Rick Archer: And children, yeah! And dogs, and…..

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: And I suppose if a person has a preconception that meditation is supposed to be some kind-of blank, serene state with no thoughts and no nothing and you’re, you know, then they’re going to be disappointed and perhaps struggle against it if thoughts come up or feelings come up and all. So it’s… partially, it’s a matter of getting a correct understanding of what it is.

>>Helen Hamilton: And it’s massively misunderstood. I mean, there’s, as we were saying before, there’s all these different types of meditation, but the most direct one is has been the simplest and most effective for me; and there can be peace there, even with thoughts arising. You know that, noticing that which is constant in our… in the background of our experience, whichever way we’re doing that.

So, in the book, we can call it awareness; we can call it silence, stillness, consciousness, they’re all words for the same thing; just to- whichever way we can- to find that which is in the back of our experience that’s constant and unchanging, and often unnoticed, because it’s constant and unchanging. Noticing attention always goes to that which is moving, like thoughts, you know, and emotions. We can begin to contrast that, use those, to recognize what’s stable and unchanging.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, so that’s how you used to meditate or still do? You would sit and close your eyes and just notice that which is unchanging, as opposed to that, which changes.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, and when attention then wanders to thoughts, again, I would just gently bring it back when I could, back to that. And even the absence, the presence of thoughts, rather, and emotions can help you contrast; there’s something that isn’t changing and isn’t moving. But if I’m at war with my thoughts when I’m meditating, if I’m thinking they shouldn’t be there, then I’m missing a golden opportunity in that.

So sometimes that is more recognizable- what’s in the background- as silence; sometimes it’s just a sense of being aware. Sometimes it feels more like a field, you know, invisible field. Just noticing whichever way it’s showing up for us in that moment, you know, presenting itself somehow; it must be because it’s always here.

>>Rick Archer: It’s the old movie screen analogy. You know, the movies play on the screen, and they overshadow it, and you get caught up in the movies, you don’t see the screen. And …but you know, what you were saying is, it’s a practice to see the screen, despite the movies.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, and right back to what we were saying before that we’re always getting better at that. It’s always a work in progress. It’s always… if less than less each day, I’m at war with my thoughts and my emotions; if I’m more and more just allowing them to be and feeling a deeper peace, then that’s, to me, that’s successful meditation.

And as you said, it might be quite different to what most people think of as successful meditation, that all of that should disappear or, you know, thoughts should stop or something like that. And if they’re going to stop, it’s never…if mind’s going to go quiet, it’s never going to happen by trying to get rid of it. Then it just makes it worse.

>>Rick Archer: Here’s a nice little quote from one of your books, you said… well, I’ll read the whole thing: ‘The outer search is a reaching, a trying, becoming, wanting, trying to find, hoping to achieve, or reaching a destination type of search; it involves a tremendous amount of effort and will not succeed. The inner search is a relaxation, a tuning into, a clarity of focus, a final seeing and understanding, a recontextualization, a softening and inclusion, and allowing and letting it be as it is. It is effortless and immediately bears fruit.’ So, I like that.

>>Helen Hamilton: I was watching a gardening show once, years and years ago, and it really struck me that…. it started off with this shot of this flower. And you can see in crisp detail this flower. And then the camera just kind of zoomed back out. And you could see the whole garden, but you couldn’t see any one particular thing in any detail. And it was just kind of like, it struck me: that’s what meditation is, it’s just kind-of, more of a zooming out, you know, and taking in the whole context of it.

>>Rick Archer: Do you have an explanation as to why thoughts come up in meditation, and well we don’t want them to; let’s say we sit down, we think ‘I’d just like to settle into silence here and enjoy that’ and next thing you know, you’re thinking about all kinds of things that are happening in your life. What causes them to come up even when we would just as soon they didn’t?

>>Helen Hamilton: The root cause that I found in my own life was the belief that there actually are separate objects to think about. You know, back to what we were saying before that there actually is a world full of other beings; you know, there will always appear to be. But if I’m deeply feeling I’m a separate being living in a world with other beings and things that can affect me and harm me and hurt me then; and that perhaps I might be wanting things from those beings, like respect, etc. That’s going to fuel the thought stream. So that, fundamentally.

But also because we are, to some degree, always being inauthentic, as human beings, we’re always saying, ’I shouldn’t be thinking in this moment, I shouldn’t be… there should be less thoughts’ or we’re denying our experience in that moment, somehow. It’s usually a combination of those, that the sense of being a separate being is leading to this idea that everything else is other than me, separate to me, which fuels the thought stream.

>>Rick Archer: So, you’re saying, are you saying that if you could more, sort-of deeply appreciate that there are no separate beings and that we’re all one, then the mind would automatically get quieter?

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, just to go deeper into each moment to really more experience the essence of what everything is; that comes with a quietness, and a peace. Because we’re less- we’re not making thoughts wrong- but we’re less and less referencing them to understand the world. And the deeper we go into this moment to experience it, there’s going to be more of an experience of what the essence of everything is, which is that silent formlessness. So, we’re not trying to make mind stop and we’re also not making that way of seeing the world wrong. We’re just saying, well, is there a deeper way to experience this moment?

>>Rick Archer: I’m not sure which is the cart, and which is the horse here because perhaps, you know, because you have a quieter mind, and you tend to see the unity of everything, and all, I mean, well, because you tend to see the unity of everything, your mind is naturally quieter; it sort-of goes along with that perspective. Whereas somebody who is, to quote the Gita, again, ‘whose mind is many-branched and endlessly diverse, and irresolute,’ it’s a naturally a noisy mind. And they are not seeing the oneness of everything. So, it’s kind of like, I don’t know if you could have a noisy mind and see the oneness of everything; it’s that the two are kind of interconnected.

>>Helen Hamilton: It’s simply the idea that it’s one or the other of those that disturb us. If I could just let my noisy mind be as it is, in this moment, and also see if there is more to experience in this moment about myself and the world, then I’m not going to be fighting against what is; and it’s that fighting against what is that causes….

>>Rick Archer: it makes it even noisier, yeah!

>>Helen Hamilton: And as Krishna said, you know, Arjuna said to him, ‘I don’t think I can meditate, like you’re telling me to; my mind’s all over the place.’ And Krishna just really compassionately says, ‘well, just give it a go, no effort is wasted.’ And just, you know, that… we can always…there’s no finish-line is perhaps the most important thing to see with this, in terms of, we can always go deeper into this moment, and always be more authentic about who we are in this moment.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. And you don’t want to try to suppress the… the agitations of the mind; you know, there’s that verse from the Yoga Sutras that, that yoga is the cessation of the vrittis, or the agitations….

>>Helen Hamilton: …our mental modifications.

>>Rick Archer: …Yeah, they settle down. But let’s say you have a pail of water, or a swimming pool, or something that has waves on it, and you want to stop the waves. If you start pressing on the waves to get them to stop, you’re actually going to create more waves.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I’m standing in a still water, and I’m flapping my arms around wondering why it’s disturbed! Just, just let it be as it is, you know, let your mind be exactly as it is, in this moment. Somehow, I did it myself, as well, as we all do, come to meditation with this idea that the idea of meditation is to stop the mind. Because we’ve all heard that there is this state where there aren’t any thoughts and peace and love and joy. But we don’t hear about what that person did to achieve that; that he didn’t at all try to be in opposition with anything; especially the mind.

>>Rick Archer: I think that what you just described is the sort of….it’s is a description of the way the mind is, once it has settled; it’s not a description of how to settle the mind, you know. You try to suppress the fluctuations, you’re only going to create more, but if you can settle into a deep state, then the fluctuations will just sort of…. you know….

>>Helen Hamilton: It’s just a couple of ideas that really get in our way. And that’s that the presence of thoughts is gonna diminish my experience. But I noticed one time… I’d been lost in thoughts for ages. And then when I actually, sort of, came back into clarity, there was a bliss there. And when I looked at that, why is it blissful? Because I was just completely absorbed in thoughts; I wasn’t fighting that at all. At all! And there was a peace and a bliss.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah! You were just being natural.

>>Helen Hamilton: I wasn’t thinking I shouldn’t be thinking or something.

>>Rick Archer: Weren’t battling with yourself!

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, exactly!

>>Rick Archer: One thing I….one thought I just wanted to throw in here; it’s been occurring to me in the last few minutes is that, one thing I….one reason I think maybe thoughts arise in meditation is that, you know, that physiology has all these impressions in it. What do they call them, not vrittis?

>>Helen Hamilton: Samskaras?

>>Rick Archer: Samskaras, yeah, or vasanas? I always get those two words mixed up! But all these impressions. And meditation is actually very conducive to the loosening-up and release of those impressions. But when they start to release, then there’s a bubbling up of mental activity, right, because mind and body are interrelated. So we start having all…..

>>Helen Hamilton: And the body very literally stores that stuff in the tissues as well; you know there’s a very physical component, that’s got to come to the surface, like you said. In thought forms and emotions and even just a deep sense of tension in the body, will be felt. So, if we’re coming to our meditation with the idea that our mind’s supposed to be getting quieter, and all this stuff needs to arise, it’s just not going to work. That’s why I think meditation is a fundamental thing, if that’s….. if we’re coming to that, from the right perspective, it’s going to be so much easier!

>>Rick Archer: And if we resist that we’re actually resisting a natural beneficial result of meditation, which is a clearing out of those impressions.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, exactly. And to realize that every sage that’s walked the planet must have gone through that exact same process.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah!

>>Helen Hamilton: You know, of this stuff just coming up and up.

>>Rick Archer: Yep, you say that here, you say, ‘as you walk the pathway, know that every enlightened sage that ever walked the planet is with you, every saint is for you, every master is beside you. All those that have done it are supporting you in unseen ways. And grace is helping you as you make each step.’

>>Helen Hamilton: Very true. It’s good… it’s good to remember that because there- yeah, in my own awakening- there were some very dark times. And actually, for a while, I was obsessed with St. John of the Cross and his work on the dark night of the soul. There’s horribly desperate moments where you feel completely cut off from anything divine at all. And just to… to even work with those, to embrace those to whatever degree you can, when they happen.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. And as George Harrison sang, ‘All Things Must Pass’. So, if you feel like you’re going through a dark night, it’s not going to last forever.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. And I came to see, as horrible as they are, there is always some clearing away afterwards; there is always some deeper peace afterwards. And I also came to see they’ll last as long as I resist them. You know if I…. you know, cos nobody wants to feel that way; desperate and in absolute despair and despondency. But if we’re feeling it, we don’t have to… maybe we can fight it a little bit less this time or something?

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, we might be prolonging it if we fight it.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: The question just came in that relates to what we’ve been discussing; it’s this from John Andrew in Dublin who asks: ‘My understanding is that thoughts depend on there being a subject and an object, both of which are actually false.

Hence, thoughts should not arise for an enlightened person. What do you think about this?

>>Helen Hamilton: It’s one of those ‘Yes and no’ questions; that there’s always going to be some of those..….you know, theoretically, there’s nothing to think about at all. You know, that’s…that is the natural state; that there’s only the one formless being, but we’re still experiencing that through a human body, and there’s going to be some latent impressions, as you were saying, too, that need to come to the surface. Somewhere that I’m seeking something in terms of, still, I might be looking for respect or security or something; feeling that I’m missing something. So, the thought stream will continue there for a while. So yes, and no, you know, in that both of those are true.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. I think if a person is alive, they’re going to be having some thoughts because if they’re acting, thought precedes action; it’s just that an ordinary person has all kinds of thoughts that are not relevant to their situation; kind-of like a radio tuning in 10 channels at once or something. Whereas we can say, quote, unquote, an ‘enlightened person’, the thought stream has become very efficient, and is not cluttered with extraneous noise.

>>Helen Hamilton: And also how… what relationship are you in with those thoughts? Are they just another phenomenon arising? Or are they being…are they my thoughts? Are they happening to me? Am I experiencing them? Are they impacting me? And there’s a very large experiential difference between those. Like, we’re not running around getting upset ‘cos the rain’s falling out of the sky.

>>Rick Archer: That’s true,

>>Helen Hamilton: You know, but we’ve all…because these thoughts…. this idea that these are my thoughts, and I’m thinking. And if we investigate that, there can be thoughts present and it can be a really noisy mind; and it’s just another thing that’s happening in this moment rather than, it’s impacting me, personally.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah,

>>Helen Hamilton: ….as a separate being.

>>Rick Archer: Good! Alrighty! So, tell us about some of….well, tell us about the books you’ve written. And tell us about what you do with people. I know you have, like a weekly, online satsang on Zoom, or something that I presume anybody can tune into. And…

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah.

>>Rick Archer: I’m sure there’s information about that on your website. I’ll just show your website here, for a second, on the screen. You’re not seeing it, but the people are seeing it. And so…good…there we go! So, tell us, you know, what you have to offer in that regard, that people can interact with.

>>Helen Hamilton: There’s currently two free satsangs a week with the pandemic, but we are going back to just one per week. And as you said, they’re open to anybody to join; they’re always free. And there are intensives that we do, where we look at…we’ll have a satsang, but we’ll also have some guided self-inquiry, meditation. And generally, some silent sitting as well. There’s a… we’ve got an online virtual retreat, which is the first one we’ve done this way…we began with the pandemic; that’s in September.

And really, for those that really kind of want to speed it up, we do the ‘Dissolving the Ego’ course, which is a four-week course. Again, you can start, you can join from anywhere, but really just to… the fundamentals, to get the fundamentals across, most of which we’ve discussed today, starting from the right place.

Also, what meditation is, in its most effective; teaching some of the practices in the book as well. There’s a whole range really of what everybody is ready for. On the… on my YouTube channel, there is also core a teachings playlist of three satsangs we did on contemplation, self-inquiry, and meditation, which are, kind of the basics of what I am talking about. Again, from my own experience of what helped me, what worked best for me, fastest.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, and I’ll link to those things from your page on Batgap, you know, to your website and to your YouTube channel. And so, from what I gather is that there is plenty of stuff that people can do without any cost. And then there are some more intensive things for which you charge an admission fee because you need to support yourself.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, I try to keep the prices as low as possible. But like you say, you’ve got to support yourself. But yeah, there’s a lot of stuff on there for free. There’s hundreds of satsangs, I think now, on the YouTube channel as well. All free.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah.

>>Helen Hamilton: I’ve got stuff on the website as well. Now, I just want to say thanks for having me on. I’ve really, really enjoyed it. And it’s been a fun experience. So, thank you!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, me too!  Oh, I just wanted to ask you, this is a little…. I don’t mean to spring this on you at the end, but that friend of mine who sent in a few questions, he said, ‘Why does she call herself ‘the northern guru?’ He said, ‘how would it sound if Rupert Spira called himself, ‘the southern guru?’’ And I dunno, maybe he should? But do you get any….any blowback about that?

>>Helen Hamilton: It was just something we did for a while really, just to raise awareness. Because there was a time here where there wasn’t really anyone teaching sort of, direct teaching, in this part of the north of England.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah!

>>Helen Hamilton: It just…it just kind of caught on as a catchphrase.

>>Rick Archer: As a catchphrase yeah! Alright! And I didn’t mean to give you any trouble with that!

>>Helen Hamilton: No, it’s fine! All good!

>>Rick Archer: And actually, I like….you know, I have a little bit of an aversion to the term ‘direct teaching’, in a way, because sometimes when people use that phrase, they’re saying things like, ‘you’re already enlightened, you don’t need to do anything, you know, there is no person, there’s no blah, blah, blah. And all the teachings are unnecessary, practices are unnecessary and so on…’

>>Helen Hamilton: That really does get me a lot…that’s such a good point to talk about actually, that’s yeah… I’m a bit passionate about that. That it’s …I mean, yes, you might talk to someone who’s really just trying to come out the idea of a separate being; you might say something like that then, in a satsang.

But there is that…. I don’t know spirituality has gone to the complete other end of the scale and ‘none of this is real’ and ‘you don’t need to do anything about it.’ And it’s that line between enlightenment and delusion that’s been crossed there hasn’t it? Where I’m just in avoidance of everything and bypassing my entire …when all my stuff’s coming up. Yeah, you’ve got me passionate about it. It was fashionable for a while and hopefully, it’s going away now!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, hopefully. Well, it’s like you say there’s a kind-of a both-end way of doing it, where you can acknowledge those teachings, like I was saying earlier, the Mandukya Upanishad, or the kind of stuff, you say in your ‘Reality Check’ book, and, you know, you can go deeply into that. But in the same breath, you kind of have to acknowledge that there’s also this world of diversity and…and the sort-of the totality is kind-of the inclusion of both. It’s not either/or,

>>Helen Hamilton: Yes, if somebody deeply feels they’re separate being still, you know, I’m not going to try and convince them otherwise. And I’ll meet them wherever they’re at. And I think that if they need help, feeling, you know, working with an emotion that’s really troubling them, I absolutely work with that. And that’s what’s real for them in that moment. That’s where they are. And that’s what they need help with. And to just kind of say, ‘well, sorry, that’s just a remnant of an old state of consciousness. It’s not real, get over it,’ it’s just not helpful, is it!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, not helpful.

>>Helen Hamilton: And I think compassion and love, as awakening deepens, it wants to meet someone exactly where they are; it’s not gonna be in denial of anyone’s experience.

>>Rick Archer: There’s a saying, in India, that when the…when the mango fruits are ripe, the branches bend down so that people can pick them easily.

>>Helen Hamilton: Ah, that’s beautiful.

>>Rick Archer: So, it relates to the idea of just meeting people at whatever level they’re at and being able to offer something to them there.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah, and then, that should be… the teaching I’m describing is direct in that way, not necessarily direct as in, ‘there is only the Self and nothing else exists.’ There is a place for speaking like that, obviously, like in that book, ‘Reality Check’.

But most of what I do is on a very different level as well, you know, there’ll be a lot of time spent helping people with karmic patterns that are coming up, and to just say, ‘well, you were never separate being’ is not going to help them in that moment. You might be able to get to that afterwards, after you’ve worked with the emotion and all of that, but, you know, start from where you’re at with that person. It’s what love wants to do, isn’t it? What love would do.

>>Rick Archer: Yeah, beautiful. And there’s some nice examples of that in your YouTube videos that I was listening to just sort of… I don’t know, one lady was being gypped out of her inheritance by her mother or something. She was pretty upset about that. And I thought you dealt with it quite nicely. You just didn’t say, ‘well, there is no mother, there is no inheritance,’ you know, you just, kind of, like, met her on her own level and dealt with it.

>>Helen Hamilton: I mean, don’t get me wrong, Rick, I did that in my own awakening: ’none of this is real! I don’t have to deal with my stuff!’ you know. But after a while, that doesn’t….it’s not fulfilling enough.  Love wants to embrace everything and meet everyone where they’re at. And that person having that emotion come up, it is the Self too and it should be respected, as the Self appearing right that way in that moment.

>>Rick Archer: Good! Nice! Well, thank you, Helen. I think you have a very, for what it’s worth, my saying it: I think you have a very kind-of mature understanding or approach to spirituality; it kind-of is very inclusive, and I really appreciate that.

>>Helen Hamilton: Thank you, that’s nice to hear!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah. The reason for all of this is to help people, isn’t it? And if it’s not doing that, then it’s got to be re-evaluated.

>>Rick Archer: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, really, it’s…it’s not to get out of life or anything, it’s to be able to live life fully.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yeah. And I finally feel like I can do that; I finally feel at home in my life, whatever that is; you know, I think everyone should be able to have that.

>>Rick Archer: Great! Alright, well, thank you so much! I just want to say to those who are listening or watching that I do one of these every week and as I said in the beginning there are hundreds of them ‘in the can’ so to speak, and many more planned.

Next week I’ll be speaking with a fellow in Australia who is one of a close students of Sailor Bob Adamson. And even when I first started this show, Sailor Bob was feeling like he was too old to do interviews, so I didn’t get to interview him. But this fellow seemed to really be immersed in his teaching and perhaps even…well, we’ll see when I talk to him. In any case, that’ll be next Saturday.

These interviews are streamed live, and as you’ve noticed, people can send in questions during them. And, of course, then after a few days, the live one comes down and the permanent one goes up. So, on the… there’s an ‘upcoming interviews’ page on batgap.com where you can see the schedule and also a form through which you can submit questions. You can even do that before an interview; days before if you want to, and it will save it until the interview comes.

There’s also a place you can subscribe to be notified by email when a new one is posted. There is a place to subscribe to the audio podcast on various podcasting platforms. And I mentioned the donation button in the beginning. What else? There’s a few things: just explore the menu and you’ll see what’s there. So, thanks! Thanks again, Helen.

>>Helen Hamilton: Thank you very much. It’s been lovely!

>>Rick Archer: Yeah! Have a good evening! And we’ll be in touch.  If you want, I’ll send you those Galaxy pictures.

>>Helen Hamilton: Yes please! I’d love that, yeah!

>>Rick Archer: I’ll do that. Alright, thank you, everybody. See you for the next one. Bye-bye!