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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done over 410 of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to watch previous ones, go to batgap.com Bat gap, and look under the past interviews menu or find all the previous ones organized in several different ways. This show is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it, there’s a Donate button on every page of the site. And there’s also a page that explains other ways of donating if you don’t like PayPal. My guest today is James Wood. James was a student of Richard Moss, who I interviewed a couple of years ago, James works with groups and individuals to discover the fundamental reality of our essential nature. Having awakened in 2002, after years of study, he began to express his spontaneous teaching whose form continues to evolve his messages that awakening is possible for anyone committed to finding truth. Originally, James studied philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and, and transformational studies, again with Richard Moss, he has combined his education and experience to express a modern integrated vehicle for others to use as a means of growth and consciousness, leading to awakening, he is dedicated to communicating the essence of the true teaching to those who are ready to receive it. And he has a book entitled The 10 paths to freedom awakening Made Simple, which we’ll be discussing. So welcome, James. Good to see you. Good to see you. So I want to backtrack, prior to your awakening in 2002, to see what your life was like and what may have led up to that. And I find that valuable. And I think listeners like it, because it helps them relate to you as a person, you know, because sometimes you if you don’t do that, then the person thinks this person is more inclined to think well, lucky him, but I don’t think this could happen to me because of such and such, you know, I’m, I’m too much of a schmuck or something. So we’ll do that. But I want to start with your awakening in 2002. By simply asking, What do you mean by the awakening? I mean, we say I awakened. It’s one of those words that a lot of people defined differently, I think so what do you mean by that?
James Wood: Well, first of all, it’s really nice to be here. And I appreciate the work that you’re doing with your website. I think it’s helping a lot of people. And well,
Rick Archer: that’s the intention. Yeah.
James Wood: The way I define awakening is full conscious realization of reality.
Rick Archer: Okay. Let’s dig into that. Let’s do that. Okay, so then prior to this awakening, you had partially conscious or partially unconscious realization of reality, or perhaps a predominance of unreality? Would that be fair to say?
James Wood: Mostly unconscious? Yes. Just ask Richard.
Rick Archer: Were you a tough nut to crack?
James Wood: Man, you have no idea. Yeah, I don’t mean to be too self deprecating. But yeah, it’s pretty bad.
Rick Archer: That’s okay. I mean, we, you know, we, we all we all came, most of us came from pretty dark places, you know, and, and, I mean, and that’s good to know, you don’t have to be, you know, some kind of child prodigy to, to awaken you can, I mean, I’m going to interview a woman like last week, and next week, who, who owned a biker bar and was a bartender for 25 years, and it was really strung out on cocaine and whatnot, and then had this profound shift and is doing very well now. So and there are examples in ancient scriptures that people who are out and out scoundrels who ended up you know, undergoing a profound metamorphosis. So those are all possibilities, you know?
James Wood: Yeah, well, we’re all scoundrels. I think I mean, that’s the thing about egos. I’m also gonna say if you’re infected with it, which is nice. Sounds kind of morbid, but, you know, ego is. He goes the problem if you will. That’s That’s what we’re dealing with. And it makes us selfish and arrogant. And what other things I was definitely, definitely those for, for sure. And I’m not gonna say that I’m not that anymore, it’s just that it’s like, when you wake up you, you see the self, or one sees the self as, I don’t know, it’s like a mirage, or hallucination or something like that. And it’s still there. It’s just not like, it doesn’t tell you who you are anymore. So I feel like some terms are useful. And the word being, I feel is, is who we are. It’s our essence, it’s it’s nameless, formless. You know, you could call it Atman, or something like that, if you wanted to. But the egos it’s like an imposter that that occupies our space in it. It’s collective as well. I mean, we can see it everywhere. And so I yeah, I was definitely occupied by that you will? before.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, the word Maya actually comes from Sanskrit roots, which means that which is not. Right. And so it kind of reminds you remind me of that by saying that. So it’s, we take ourselves to be a certain thing. But we’re actually not that.
James Wood: Right? And paradoxically, we are that. Yeah. It, that’s what’s interesting is, you know, in the, in Zen, they say, you know, first there’s a mountain, then there’s no mountain, then there’s a mountain again. So first there’s a self and a world, it’s opposed to it, and then you wake up and realize that’s not true at all. It’s freedom. And then, but then it’s a mountain again. And then then you cease from that perspective of no self or from the awakened perspective, you see self and see that it’s an illusion, like it’s uh, like I said, a mirage or something. And so you’re not seeing the lake, you’re seeing the the Mirage, which is a distortion. But everyone else is convinced it’s a lake, like everyone is convinced that this separate and separative self, if you will, the ego is who they are. And it may sound like a judgment, like it’s a bad thing. It’s not it’s, it just is, you know, it’s the condition of the world. And all you have to do is read the newspaper to kind of see evidence of that. Yeah. And I mean, I’m thinking about what happened in Charlottesville, frankly, I guess it was yesterday. For the not sure what to say about
Rick Archer: that was there was a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. And then there were protesters opposing the white separatists. And they were having all these clashes and tear gas and all that stuff. And then some new some Nazi sympathizer drove a car into a crowd and killed a woman injured a lot of people. So that’s what you’re referring to, in case people don’t know.
James Wood: Yeah, and I read, frankly, I find some of it is distasteful to read. And I think it’s good to read some, but not too much. You know, it’s like, just, you know, there’s a term called hormesis. That’s interesting. Someone asked me about this, like, what do I do? You know, someone drives a car into a crowd like that. And people get overwhelmed by that, like, like, that’s horrible. And what do I do? And I mean, I think a little bit of that, like awareness of what’s going on is important. But, you know, step away from the screen sometimes, you know, go out in nature. You know, it’s like fasting, I do some intermittent fasting, which I think is wonderful.
Rick Archer: I started doing that a few weeks ago, myself, having done a lot in the 70s. But I decided to start doing it at least one day a week now, I’ve been enjoying it.
James Wood: Yeah, it’s great. Because, you know, anyway, so you don’t want to be on all the time, you want to be like reading the news all the time. And like, inundating yourself with negativity, which is basically what it is, you know, but you know, you want some, so you can be aware of what’s going on, and then, you know, take a retreat or something. So, like with food, you know, you eat you feast, and you fast and it’s part of life. So it’s like form no form. There’s like this balance, you know?
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think that what you’ve been saying for the past five minutes, points to an underlying theme, which comes up on this show, pretty often. And that is that if I if I could explain it, that people tend to polarize. I mean, most of the world, as you said, is polarized in the direction of this is real, and I am the I am this and this is going to die and all kinds of sort of limited conceptions of reality. And they’re a bunch of pit spiritual people who kind of like, swing to the other pole. And you know, this is not real. It’s not worth our attention. I don’t exist in any way, shape, or form. There’s no semblance of self and all that. And I don’t know, I somehow think that you’re alluding to a bigger package, which puts everything in its proper context. You know what I mean?
James Wood: I yeah, I agree with that I am. You know, after I woke up, that you could say, there’s a mountain and there’s no mountain, right. And then there’s a mountain again, well, another way to look at it is, it’s like climbing a mountain. So let’s say you start in the valley, and you decide that you want to climb to the peak. So you you set out and you have the path and you go up, and you get to the peak, and then you you attain that, if you will. And then at least metaphysically, or spiritually, when you attain that peak, you do realize that ego is, isn’t real, and the world isn’t real. And it’s all an illusion, so that those things are true. For one who does that? Who’s in a sense, attain that? So is there someone who attains it? No. I mean, that’s, you know, that’s part of what that is. So, and I wouldn’t say it’s intoxicating, but it’s, it’s brilliant. And it’s, it’s ultimately satisfying. And it’s, there’s a freedom there. That’s, it’s really attractive, you know, it’s part of it, as you look around at the world, let us speak for myself. So, yeah, you wake up, and you realize that the one that wakes up, isn’t you, it’s truth that wakes up to itself through the this vehicle, this person, and it’s a wonderful place to hang out, you know, and it’s kind of tempting to do that. The thing is, what I found is that it’s not the most social place. It’s, it’s in a way detached from ordinary living, which is where we meet people and live. So part of what I’ve been doing, frankly, the last few years, why in the last few weeks, it’s pretty much a daily thing is coming back down the mountain, and, you know, what’s the valley like? And, you know, with, with wars and with, like, this violence that I was talking about, in Charlottesville, things like that, it’s unpleasant, you know, it’s, it’s nothing but drama. And yet, that is you mentioned Maya it. It’s actually one reality appearing as to Yeah, so no one’s gonna say that. Someone might be watching this and say, well, that’s dualistic, or something to talk about, you know, there’s a car and then people, they get hit by a car. But really, like, you know, there’s a reality of suffering in the world that that merits attention. And you know, so we embrace that. And it’s it’s not dualistic, if the one who holds that awareness of non duality is fine, I stop. If I’m really holding the where it’s an awareness of non duality. I can’t talk really, it’s the words. No, there is a place where it doesn’t matter. I don’t matter. You know, when I woke up, actually, and kind of strange, perhaps, but when I woke up, it was so it’s such a place of freedom that actually lost interest in food. Man, I didn’t care. I mean, I care that that place is, you see through everything. It’s funny, I would say I saw through everything, but who am I? I mean, it is, and the bot like body. My world, like, who cares, you know, and it’s, it’s actually, it’s not even blissful. It’s better than that. Franklin Merrill will talked about it. And he called it the high end difference. And it’s, it’s truly it’s impossible to talk about it. And he actually claims that it’s a, you know, this was later in his life. And he claim that as much as he tried to describe the merits of it to people that they they were either perplexed or appalled, you know, because, you know, how could you be indifferent to suffering and all of that. So, so if I’m going to embrace words and language, you know, I’m hanging out with React, and we’re having a conversation like that, that’s what I want to do. That’s how I want to be, um, James or Rick, they’re suffering. And, you know, let’s do something about it. And I feel like what brings us to that place is compassion. So if you want to ask a question, I’m talking for a while.
Rick Archer: That’s okay. I tend to do that myself, but better that you should do most of it. I just want to refer people to an interview I did with a guy named Jay. NFE Conway, I’ve done too with him. And he’s a good friend, we’ve never met in person, but we resonate a lot with each other’s perspective. But he wrote a really nice article, which I think I linked to from BatGap. And other, you can find them as site enlightened hyphen, spirituality.org. But it’s about the three simultaneously true levels of non dual reality. And in this model, it’s three, perhaps it could be chopped up in other ways. But you know, what he, what he outlines is, there’s the obvious level that everybody takes his real in which there is starvation and disease, and all, you know, riots and all kinds of stuff that somehow needs to be dealt with. And, you know, we don’t just brush them off, if somebody’s suffering or something, we try to do something about it. And then there’s, we could say, the divine level, which, you know, the level of God’s intelligence in which everything is perfect and divinely orchestrated, all is fine, just as it is. And then that you can say, there’s a more fundamental level in which it’s just the transcendent, nothing ever arose, there is no universe, there are no car crashes, or anything else. It’s just all the unmanifest. And, you know, his point is that living a life in which you can encompass all three of these simultaneously, would be optimum. And yes, you know, that there will be a dimension of your life, which is indifferent, or aloof, or untouched by all this. But then simultaneously, there could be a dimension of your life in which you’re, you know, actively engaged in trying to solve some problem or, you know, working with Doctors Without Borders or doing, you know, doing stuff. And at the same time, there’s a sort of trust in the divine that all is well and wisely put. So it’s kind of a paradoxical, both and all inclusive kind of perspective, that is not just philosophical, but could and should be experiential.
James Wood: Right? Yeah, that is my experience. The Buddhists have, I don’t know if it’s the same thing as you’re talking about, but they talk about the, there’s the Dharmakaya, the nirmanakaya, and the sambhogakaya. So there’s Dharmakaya, as the, you could call it, the absolute that I’m sure Buddhists would disagree with that, because it’s not really anything. It’s, it’s, um, you could say it’s emptiness, or something like that, or at least you approach it through that doorway. And it’s completely transcendent. Then you’ve got their demonic high, which is the form realm, which is, like you said, the suffering and car crashes and so on. But then there’s a middle realm, the same Boga kya is the bodhisattva. realm. I think they call it a celestial body or something like that. I’m not a Buddhist, in the strict sense. I just like a lot of the ideas. Tell us any ideas if they’re useless? Sure. So yeah, that’s my experience is the full embodiment of awakened consciousness includes all of that. Yeah. And when you say that, I’ll paraphrase what you just said, where, you know, one must embody the Dharmakaya in order to, you know, in a sense, meet the nirmanakaya, which is really just sufferings what it is, first noble truth, right. And that that’s what it is. And so that third mountain position to me is that it’s, and I say that and there’s a little bit of Santa really believe that because frankly, I’m not sure whatever ends of my experience of it deepens over time. And there’s humility on that. So you know, I’m a guy, I’m a dude, I’m, I’m a man, I’m a person. And, you know, It even sounds arrogant to say that, of course, of course. That’s true. It’s just I’m also that which is, you know, and thou art that we are that. So I think I think what humanity is doing are waking up, and we’re all part of it. So what am I going to do go to the mountaintop and die there, you know, blissful or not? I want to help united. Sure. It’s interesting.
Rick Archer: Ya know, even if you went to the mountaintop to die, I mean, literally speaking, as opposed to figuratively, the dying process would would remind you rather severely that you do have a body and it does feel pain and so on. So you can’t ignore it even if you want to ignore
James Wood: it. Well, ego death is not physical death. It’s I mean, or maybe it is. So what’s interesting about it, like what is the word physical mean? I did a lot of The Work of Byron Katie, I don’t know if you’re familiar with that.
Rick Archer: Well, I know you did from reading your articles. There’s a lot of KDF got things in there,
James Wood: right? Yeah, I, man, I drill down into that. I mean, I’m not bragging about it. I’m just literally the case. You can ask anyone that knew me back then. And, you know, a question, you know, is it true? Can you absolutely know it’s true? No, you can’t You know, I exist? No, you can’t know that. That’s interesting. You know, so. So it’s like, yes, it’s one appearing as two. And if I said to you, I’m drinking water, let’s say we’re hanging out, you and I, and I say like, Hey, Rick, could you pass me a glass of water? I’m thirsty. And you say, I’m sorry. That’s dualistic. And water doesn’t exist. Like, come on, dude. Like, really?
Rick Archer: Advise the Vita police?
James Wood: Yeah, I mean, I’m being a bit harsh, maybe. But I see a lot of it. And you know, anyone that that’s hearing this that might be rubbed the wrong way? Good. I mean, that good. That’s what is as well, and like, who is it that gets rubbed the wrong way? I mean, we could just go on. Yeah,
Rick Archer: I’m glad you’re saying this stuff. Here’s, here’s a quote from one of your writings, it’s so important to realize that there are false teachings out there that will negate the existence of forums in a way that’s dishonest. It’s kind of what we’re saying. And I’ve beaten this drum quite a bit over the years to on the show. And I think it’s less than it used to be. I mean, there were allegedly, a lot of people who came out of the Papaji scene who were talking that way, you know, would you please pass the salt? Who wants the salt? You know, there is no salt, and that kind of stuff. And I think everybody got kind of sick of that. And maybe there’s another made of the whole new crop of people rising up to the ranks that are at that stage? I don’t know. But these days, it seems to me that the trend has been for a lot of people who have been around for a while to be emphasizing more integration, and, you know, a kind of a more holistic, well balanced, complete realization, rather than one in which you attempt to try and hide out in the transcendent. And I think part of the problem is people aren’t even hiding out in the transcendent, experientially, there’s been a lot of cases where people just read too much of this stuff and kind of gotten into the intellectual game of thinking that everything is not really even though it’s not their actual experience.
James Wood: Right? Yeah. What’s interesting, your time like hiding out in the transcendent? I know what you mean. And what’s interesting is this is the transcendent. Yeah, like, you hand him a glass of water is is just as transcendent as anything. And that, to me is a deeper realization, frankly, it’s now if you, let’s say, sees that metaphor, you know, if you haven’t reached the peak, and that is a thing, you know, we are talking about waking up, it is an actual event or non event. I mean, it’s not really an experience, because there’s not someone, someone that has an experience that happens to that person that that has gone. It’s just truth wakes up to itself, that’s probably as clearly as I can put it. And this is a third mountain position of Embracing the World compassionately is actually it’s what we’re here for, I feel, and it was what I was gonna say, though, if you know, if you haven’t realized that all is one perspective. And it sounds like a judgment. I think, like, well, if you haven’t realized it, and don’t say it, it sounds you know, it, there’s humility in that. You know, I sent you some talks, we, you know, some trends and articles. And I did a talk one time where, you know, I just want to call them a heckler because this guy, and I was talking about stuff. And he said, you know, he said, Oh, something like, you know, if you say that you’re awake, you can’t be because there’s not someone who’s awake, and it’s impossible, and I just kind of let it go. But the fact is, if it’s not true for you, then don’t say it. I mean, there are a lot of prescriptions and Buddhism about not saying the reason is, you know, if it’s not true for you, that’s really a big pitfall on the path. And yes, there is a path and No, there’s not a path. So let’s not get into that. Is there a doer? Like anyway? Yes, there is another reason they’re both true. There is no mountain and there is right or neither is true. Yeah.
Rick Archer: But I’m not so great song about they ever hear that Donovan.
James Wood: Sure. Sure. First, there was a mountain. Yeah. So basically, what I’m saying is, if it’s true for you, if it’s not true, then don’t say it if it is true than you really must say it. I mean, the Buddha himself said it. You know, Jesus said, I am What do you say I am the way? Yes. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I think that’s important. And it’s, I mean, part of the reason I did this I decided to do this show is I was live here in Fairfield, Iowa, we’re, you know, 1000s people have been meditating for decades. And many of them were starting to have awakenings. You know, genuine things and Some of them would find that when they told their friends, the friends would put them down and say, Oh, who do you think you are? You don’t float three feet off the ground, and you’re just Joe Schmo. I know, you know, I know you have a problem with their business or whatever, they didn’t think they didn’t associate real human stuff with actual awakening. And so I thought, all right, let me start interviewing some of these people and just demonstrate to the local population, that there are people among us who are having awakening so that it will, perhaps enable more people to come out of the closet and instill some confidence or hope in the people who don’t think it’s ever going to happen to them. And then the whole thing kind of grew and, you know, reach international audience, but that was one of the original motivations.
James Wood: Yeah, you know, I think what I’d like to see, I think, awaken the word awakening to me. I mean, this is just semantic, really that awakening, isn’t it? You know, maybe with a capital A, I don’t know. But it’s like, there is an event where you could call it enough suffering or ego death or something like that, okay, that’s the thing. But on the way there, there’s what I would call growth and consciousness. That’s just, that’s just the testimonies. And so it’s important to acknowledge if you’re growing in consciousness, and yet, the ego is so insidious, that it’ll try to co opt your progress, and make it a you know, like, you’re wearing a badge and, you know, whatever. It’s, it is insidious, and frankly, you know, emphasize working with a teacher, and I used the term true teacher just to make sure that we’re clear about what that is. Working with Richard, for example, for me, it was I mean, it’s a priceless, it’s more than that, that he, he was able to see that, you know, there’s, well, they’re not hidden, really, I mean, they were hidden to me. Right, it was unconscious, but not not anyone else, you know, like, it’ll lead to the scanning. But, but, you know, he saw that, and he, he mirrored that to me, and I can’t say it was always pleasant, but I’m really grateful for that. It’s like a almost want to say it was like a WWE SmackDown for the ego. You know, it’s just, you know, nothing. I almost want to say Jon Snow Sorry, I’m thinking Game of Thrones. Seriously, though. That’s an in joke for Game of Thrones fans out there. Okay. Yeah, so he, the thing is, he was just reflecting something for me. And it’s hard to take that, you know, the term Humble Pie. I’m not sure where that comes from. But you have to eat some humble pie. And so there’s actually, you know, humility there. And then there’s a certain transparency is not as much ego. And you can recognize that and just just don’t stop until you’re done. Yeah, and the question, I’ll say this real quick, the question may come up, like, how do you know you’re done? That’s a good question. I think it’s
Rick Archer: like, yeah,
James Wood: yeah, right. Yeah, you ascend. These are three meters or three points. I think it’s 3.14. But you know, that there’s no into pi now. Seriously, though. So how do you know if awakening, you know, how do you know if if, if you’ve truly arrived, so to speak, the question doesn’t arise. And that is my experience it like it sees itself. And then the self. Like it truth sees that. And the self being here, there’s like a sense of self, but it’s just kind of hanging around and doesn’t control anything and never did. It’s just now it’s like, it’s over buddy, and you’re done. And yeah, and it’s like, thoughts arise, and you’re like, this is you know, this is BS, this is not, you know, whatever the stream of thoughts are, it’s just, it doesn’t tell you who you are anymore. And then, you know, it’s just this freedom. Yeah, it’s pretty, it’s pretty cool. But so that’s a good question. So, you know, if, if, if the thought still arises, well, gee, am I there yet? And you think, well, maybe I’ll change my name to, you know, Swami, something or another. And, you know, I would advise against that, because it that is a pitfall It is, yeah. You know, and that’s for that’s for, you know, not for me, I don’t care. You know, I mean, I, that’s just for anyone who might be hearing this. So just keep going. And when it happens, it’s good. You know, it’s not a thought that arises. It’s not like a thought tells you like you’ve arrived. I mean, then you’re just just another thought. It’s, it’s a realization is something like that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I have several thoughts and questions based on what you’ve just said. One is about the point of having a teacher who can kind of see through your ego and help you diminish or dismantle it. And, you know, some teachers have notoriously taken on that role and done so in an extremely uncompassionate or even brutal manner. And, you know, the upshot of it was that they themselves were not free of ego, but they just thought they were saying guys like Andrew Cohen, who, you know, eventually was kicked out of his organization and did a real Mia culpa and has been really working to shift gears are Adi Da, who, you know, did outrageous things like, I don’t even want to get into it. It’s so disgusting. But, but I think one should exercise discrimination as far as who one accepts as a teacher, and if a teacher is abusive, and you know, you know, in the name of ego busting really being mean to people. Look, look, look somewhere else. Be careful. I agree. And for those that thought, Richard, before I don’t know Richard’s very sweet, yeah.
James Wood: Well, you know, he is obviously I mean, we know him. Know, he’s, yeah, that ego Smackdown thing I was talking about. It’s, it’s unpleasant, but it’s not cruel. It’s, it’s compassionate. And yet, it feels, I never felt that it was cruel that some people might interpret it that way. And think, you know, I guess the what brings me back is like, is it true? You know, maybe that’s Katie again, but, you know, it’s like, James, you’re kind of missing something Richard Richard used to say, as James, you’re kind of rigid, you know, you’re kind of need to loosen up a little bit. That was sort of a reflection that I got from him and other students. And it bothered me, you know, and first of all, it bothered me, which is telltale. The other thing is, when I, when I really looked at it, I had to care enough to look at it, and to respect the teaching enough to look at self look at ego, as best as I could and be like, you know, there’s something to that. And that’s hard to do. But I think, you know, I think that’s what one must do. It’s you have to, you have to see yourself as you are, without flinching and without judgment. And what’s interesting is, you know, I like to say that, you know, the mind is really just a stream of judgments, there’s none of them are true. So, any thought I have is not ultimately true. And, you know, I use this Mudra sometimes it’s like, will contract like, Oh, I’m this, I’m that, right? And it’s interesting, it’s like, it’s not so much. I’m not like someone says, I’m rigid, like, you know, when I was a student, it’s like, I’m not rigid, but the self is rigid, and you start to get a little loosens a little bit. You’re like, oh, man, what does this imposter this parasite, this latched on to my being? This this name and form, you know, entity or a set of ideas about who I am? That isn’t true? And things you have to see it? First, yeah, and then like, oh, it’s interesting. It’s like, yes, self is rigid. And then at some level, it’s like, you know, it isn’t who I am. So there’s, I don’t if that makes any sense.
Rick Archer: Are you distinguishing between true self and personality, like you had some rigid tendencies in your personality? But that’s not who you are.
James Wood: I was really hardcore. I mean, as a student, I’m sure there are people out there that could outdo me in that regard. But I was really focused and determined and kind of for that, and, yeah, well, I wasn’t fanatical. Like, I wasn’t pushing for an ideology or for views. It was just I’ve tried really hard. And some of that is ego, like, I’m going to do this. And, you know, we could talk about like, a deliberate path versus spontaneous awakening, which I think is interesting. And even Richard discussed this interview. But I mean, I was on it. I mean, I was deliberate. And I came, I was like, This is what I want. I want to wake up I want to be free. And yeah, there’s a lot of rigidity there, you know, and, but that can be used, you know, that you loosen that up a little bit like, you know, I was in this Richard’s program, it’s called the Mentor Program. It’s a three year process residential process, and it doesn’t go on all year. You go twice a year. It’s wonderful anyway. When I Okay, so when I showed up at the Mitzvah program, the first meeting I was in again, yes, I’m saying I was okay as like, ego self was whatever. I was, like so gung ho that it actually irritated the other students, other participants. And that was interesting. A part of it what I realized what As like I had my regular life where I go out with my friends and maybe party and just go out and have a few beers and just relax and not talk about, you know, quote unquote, spiritual matters. And then I’d go to these meetings and just be, you know, so focused and almost monk like, you know, just just the laser. And by the end of it, I realized, like, I was actually our last meeting, I’d heard this enough and I relaxed enough. Richard helped me with that enough that, you know, I went out with one of my friends from the group. And as I recall, I had four pints of Saravana Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. And no I’m not I’m not sponsored but no, you know, four points. What is four pints? Is that half a gallon? I can’t really think but usually, I was like, Man, I wouldn’t be doing that. Like it’s a spiritual retreat. Right? We work all day. I go out and like, Yeah, let’s go out and have some beers. And we’re now pleasantly altered, if you will, you know, and usually like, the next day, I’d be hungover and be like, oh, man, why did I do that? Right? guilt, shame, all that kind of stuff. I felt great. And I feel like there was a deeper realization there of frankly, humaneness just yeah, go out and have a beer, dude, it’s fine. Like who you are, you don’t have a spiritual self, and then a partying self. I mean, that’s one thing. And it’s it is a party and just, you know, everyone’s invited. So just be, you know, be yourself that, you know, integrate that. You know, it’s more authentic.
Rick Archer: They still like to drink sometimes.
James Wood: Definitely. I was, yeah, I was. I didn’t drink actually, it’s interesting. Around the time that I woke up, I had a commitment to be sober. And it’s interesting. It’s, it’s quite a story, but I don’t want to bore anyone with it. But yeah, I was I was sober for about six years, including the time that I woke up. And at some point, I realized that alcohol would be helpful. And, frankly, just rounding and, you know, like I said, I was sort of more in that mountain top space for a while. And then like, yeah, you know. So yeah, I like to drink sometimes. And I mean, the craft brewing scene is amazing. I mean, it’s, you know, I don’t I don’t pound Budweiser, like I might have in high school. Exactly. But, you know, I’ll sip a nice IPA or something. And it’s wonderful. It’s got this aromatic nose, and you can taste it is it’s wonderful.
Rick Archer: Yeah, the reason I asked is that, you know, when I learned to meditate, I soon found that the way I felt all the time, couldn’t be improved upon by any chemical substance, alcohol, or marijuana or anything. It’s like, I felt worse if I tried that, something like that. And so I just completely lost interest in it. Never thought about it again. But anyway, I guess to each his own things are different for different people.
James Wood: Yeah, you know, actually, I will tell you this. Currently, my experience, yeah, it’s in the moment. It’s like, how am I you know, if I drink this substance, what is it doing to me now, you know, next week, it might be different. So, again, that’s rigidity, right? It’s dogma, like, I’m not gonna drink as it’s bad. It’s like, well, maybe sometimes it’s not. Yeah, what I’ve noticed is, I mean, it’s a CNS depressant, right? Alcohol is central nervous system. Yeah, sure. And I noticed that even now, like, I can enjoy it, but lately, it seems like, like, I’ve really noticed that it’s like a damper a little bit like, I’ll feel a higher kind of a higher energy or more present. And if I told you, I was doing some intermittent fasting, like, I find that with the fasting, it’s really wonderful, you know, this sort of clarity and an energy. It feels really good. Now, I’ve noticed that if I drink, it, puts a damper on that. And I think you can sort of play with that, or mess what I’m doing. Yeah. But it may be useful. And like I said, When I woke up, I was completely stone, cold, sober, whatever that is, but yeah, it was so good. Yeah. So you know, I think you know, if you listen within yourself, and you’re like, yes, this serves. This serves me right now. Then, then. Yeah. Okay, whatever.
Rick Archer: Let’s come back to the whole waking up thing. I received an email,
James Wood: Let’s talk about drinking, I want to talk about you want to keep doing that.
Rick Archer: I received an email from somebody a couple of weeks ago who said, you know, you could clarify your confusion about this waking up thing. If you think of it as like water boiling. There’s, you know, a certain phase transition point at which water boils 100 degrees centigrade, 212 Fahrenheit. And before that, it’s not boiling. After that. It’s boiling, turns to steam. And he said, It’s like that with awakening. There may be many, many degrees of growth of consciousness as you put it earlier. But there is definitely a specific point at which awakening happens. It’s clear, it’s unmistakable. It’s a clear demarcation. Now others say, you know, Christ said in the Bible that the kingdom of heaven sneaks up like a thief in the night. And I’ve heard Adyashanti. And some others say that, you know, you can sort of slip into awakening and not really even know that it’s happened or no marking on a calendar or anything like that, because it grows so incrementally. So would you disagree with that or and say that for everyone, there’s definitely going to be a point at which there’s a shift that is unmistakable, or what?
James Wood: Or you said some really interesting things. What did you thief in the night was that
Rick Archer: Jesus said, I think that somebody might have meant by that allegory that she knew of Heaven sneaks up like a thief in the night. Yeah,
James Wood: it does. You know, it’s interesting, because the mind can’t grasp it. So yeah, it does. It’s interesting. The night before I woke up, I remember I had a sort of a foreboding sense of presence, or, you know, I could say light or energy, but that you know, it’s like a, I would say it’s awareness or consciousness, something like that. It is it is like a light. It’s just not literally being blind or something. And I have to say when it had, like, after it happened, it was clear that something had happened, and that my partner at the time, asked me what had happened. She could feel it. It was interesting. It actually happened while I was sleeping. I was you know, I went to sleep. I know Eckhart Tolle fell asleep, and then woke up, you know? So it’s not unprecedented, I guess. But so I really felt like something was going on the night before. And I wasn’t, he was suffering tremendously. Before that experience. I was an Ida. I was on a deliberate path. So I’ve been doing a lot of practices and felt, again, a sense of, I don’t know if foreshadowing, whatever. And then, so when I when I woke up literally out of sleep. Man, everything was different. It was like, like it woke up. It looks around, and the cells kind of hanging around, but like, like, it gets up goes in the bathroom. looks in the mirror. I’m looking, I’m looking at who am I? Like Ramana Maharshi. Right. Like, there aren’t any words for that. And it’s looking at itself. And so did I know what that was? No. I mean, did I know what oh, I just woke up. No. I mean, it there’s so but what happened was I left the bathroom just kind of astounded, you know, just really open and just not knowing, came back, went back in the room. And she worked. She had gotten up to him. And she I could tell I could feel her there. She was like, something and it just happened, you know, I can feel that sort of sense. And she said, I’m like, she said, what happened? Like, what, what happened? What just happened? Something like that. And I said, Okay, so the thought came up. This is like the old The old man. I knew William Samuel, by the way, I don’t if you knew that, but he’s just say, man whose breath is in his nostrils. You know, so the old man, you know, the mortal man or whatever the thinking part. She said, What happened? And I could hear the thought, like, well, I woke up, I woke up and I’m in the bathroom. And I looked in there, and it was really weird. And oh, my gosh, what is that? But it was never his thoughts. Right. But what’s interesting, is it. So I was gonna say, I woke up and did all this stuff. And what I said was, I woke up. I mean, I, I mean, who said that? Who is that? I still? I would say, I don’t know. And yet it’s the not knowing that’s grounded in beingness. That that just it’s apparent, and yet it isn’t an object of thought. So did I know what that was? No. Like. And yet it’s, it’s it is evident. So to answer your question, I would say they’re kind of both true. Like you don’t like I saw Haji one time, I saw him in Tucson. I don’t know it was within a year or two after I woke up and I was curious about it to see what he was like. So I had met him before. And I was listening to him. And I heard that, you know, I heard him basically acknowledge that it is it’s an event you know, it’s a, it is a transition. But the idea that you’re going to somehow know in in terms of, like conceptual cognition that you’ve arrived, that’s, that’s not it at all.
Rick Archer: And how would one distinguish between sometimes people can have some real explosive or profound or dramatic spiritual experiences or shifts And how would one know that that’s it? Or that that wasn’t just something? And even referencing idea he’s spoken about, you know how easy it is for person to sort of have a realization and figure that’s the final thing, where it’s actually not and one can hang out in that place for quite a while before realizing that, perhaps that wasn’t final.
James Wood: Yeah, it’s a good, it’s a really good point. Like I said, the thought doesn’t arise. That’s the clearest way I could put it like, it’s just not true.
Rick Archer: What thought doesn’t
James Wood: arise? The thought, well, am I you know, am I there? Am I there? You know, it? I mean, it’s funny, because I just had, you know, that’s a thought, right? But it’s just confidence
Rick Archer: and natural confidence, like,
James Wood: is the earth flat? Is the earth flat? Rick? Like, what’s the answer? Like? No, it just, just reality is it is funny. I mean, it’s interesting, like reality is, and, you know, there’s always thoughts, and they’re just, they’re not true. And yet they’re relatively, they can be relatively true. So what’s interesting is, there is a relative truth. Like, could you pass me the salt? That’s a relative truth. And to deny that is ridiculous. Like we talked about, like, we’re in a restaurant, you know, having the water? Of course it exists in some sense. I lose my train of thought. So
Rick Archer: I’ll jump in here, then. Yeah. So among your fellow students, with Richard or among your own students, have there been awakenings, akin to what you experienced?
James Wood: I don’t know. Don’t people talk about him? I’m not really well, I’m in touch with a few. I’m in touch with a few of really, really, there’s probably just one friend that I had in the group that I’m kind of in touch with on Facebook. I haven’t sought them out. And that’s, I would like to I probably will at some point and ask him. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I guess the reason I asked that question, as, you know, whether there was a similarity in their orientation to what happened because of the path they were on, or tradition or in, you know,
James Wood: yeah, okay. Yeah. You were talking about like big experiences, like a lot of energy and like Kundalini explosions and things. Now, again, I listen to Richard’s interview, and I know him well. And I’ve read about it and read the Black Butterfly and my sense of what he went through. And I’m willing to be wrong about this. But my sense is that, and you guys talked about this. It was interesting. His path was not what you might call a deliberate path. I mean, it was the he admits that. He wasn’t quite sure what it was he was doing at the time. He was he was experimenting with energy and healing. And, you know, he met Franklin Merrill Wolf. As I recall, in the Black Butterfly, I mean, that’s something. So you mean, Franklin,
Rick Archer: Merle may say who he was, most people won’t know who he was.
James Wood: Sure he was. If I have a lineage, I would say Richard is my teacher and Franklin Merrill Wolfe was his teacher. And I, I would, I frankly, I would say that Franklin Merrill’s teacher was chunker because he if you read his book experience in philosophy, he he really penetrated this texts and entered a deep meditation. That’s why the second chapter of my book is called study because sometimes I think people think that just reading is not very useful for spiritual progress. But it really is if you bring a certain focus to it. And I feel that that’s, that’s largely what he was doing. So yeah, so Shankara, Franklin, werewolf, Richard. He was, we could talk all day about Franklin, but he was a brilliant mathematician. I think he was at Harvard. And he studied mathematics to the point where he realized that that realm of study in the university, he was on a tenure track, he could have just written his own ticket. But he intuitively recognized that, that it was limited. And he wanted to know truth. He wanted to realize truth itself. So he left and he moved to the base of Mount Whitney. Because someone had said, some sage has said that the place with the greatest spiritual power is the tallest peak in that country. So at the time before Alaska, it was added. You know, it was it was Mount Whitney, California. So he lived at the base of Mount Whitney, and that’s where he, you know, where he woke up and did his work. And it’s still there. The center is still there. I haven’t been there yet, but he’s highly philosophical. He’s He’s, it may not be everyone’s cup of tea and that form, you know that it’s very rational, but it’s extremely precise and I found it highly useful.
Rick Archer: Speaking of your book, let to go through the main chapter titles of your book, and and
James Wood: oh, can I say one thing real quick? Yeah, I’m, I don’t really think very linearly, so I’m coming back to something. So the big energy experiences like I said, I think, see I was prepared. So Richard Richard went through that he was prepared. But like he says in his interview, he wasn’t led through it. He wasn’t spoon fed or handheld, really, with a teacher through a process. I was. And I’m grateful to him, because I think it was because of the difficulties that he had after his opening. I mean, he talks about that, how destabilizing it was. That, um, it’s thanks to him that frankly, when I woke up, it was it was actually quite easy. I mean, there’s a lot of energy, there were some things that happened that were kind of mind blowing, if you will just want to energy and, you know, kind of a destabilization. But I felt, in a sense, I felt him there, I felt a presence that it had led me all along. And in a sense, it ushered me across that threshold with great kindness. And so it doesn’t have to be difficult. But so I think if they’re so yeah, if it’s a more spontaneous thing, I think it can be a lot more dramatic and destabilizing, because the mind hasn’t quite been prepared for that yet.
Rick Archer: Nor the physiology, I mean, it takes a certain physiological purity and strength to sustain or maintain to embody awakening and the energies that come with that. And if people haven’t done any sort of work in that area, it’s you’re pouring new wine into an old wineskin to use another biblical metaphor. And it can do it very,
James Wood: you can do it. Sorry to talk over either. Yeah, it is problematic. Like, it’s kind of like having an old car whose frame is bent, and maybe you straighten it. So you do some work, you know, get straight psychologically. And then maybe it’s not totally straight yet, and then take it out on the freeway, you know, to get to 100 see what happens, you know, it might rattle you know, it, can you get there. So the early stages of work, I usually call there’s like a level two, it’s in the book, it’s just a way of looking at it, but you get straightened out earlier on, so that, you know, when you enter like a, like, when I did the mentor program with Richard, I had been prepared a bit. So it’s like, it’s like acceleration is a lot more energy, things change happens really fast. And it is destabilizing. But if you get that, like, yeah, if you get your vehicle and you really straighten it out and tune it up and might be off slightly, but you can really, you could go 100 on the freeway, and it’d be a relatively smooth journey.
Rick Archer: Somebody once asked Marsha Mahesh Yogi, can’t you just enlighten us like that? You know, and, and he said, maybe it maybe I could, but it would take 10 strong men to hold you down.
James Wood: All right, what was it? Right? I mean, just sure. Yeah, yeah. I mean, maybe we’re here to enjoy the journey. And that’s, I’ve written about that, that I started to enjoy it closer to the end of the path, the earlier parts are pretty difficult and kind of humiliating, you know, the ego that, you know, later on, it was enjoyable. Like I said, I was doing The Work of Byron, Katie, I noticed that when I would do some of that work, I would feel better, and I would feel happier, but not just happy, but like, there was a joy. And it you know, it just, it was wonderful. I was like, Wow, I’m just gonna keep doing that, you know, just keep going. And that’s what happened. I
Rick Archer: think it should be enjoyable in the long run. I mean, there might be a dark night of the soul thing where you no longer derive enjoyment from the things you used to, and yet you haven’t found adequate inner enjoyment sort of really, you know, fulfill you. And so there’s a dry period. But ultimately, I think, the whole spiritual path and feel free to differ, but the whole spiritual path is largely about greater happiness.
James Wood: Sure, can you can you really be happy if you’re not free? Yeah. So that’s what’s interesting. People want to be happy. I’ve been thinking about this. Everyone wants to be happy. And I think if you actually Google this the other day, it’s kind of silly, but I’m like, what do people want more than anything else, and just to see what would come up, and some people, you know, the freedom is there, but then that happiness is really what people want. I want to be rich, I want to be successful. I want to I want to be loved and all this. And it’s basically because people want to be happy, right? Yeah. But you know what, it’s not enough. Because if you’re not free, you can’t really be happy because in a sense, you’re a slave. And that sounds harsh, perhaps but Kant talked about that, right? If you’re so it’s the second noble truth. If, if you’re if there’s desire, it’s like you’re being driven by unconscious forces. It’s like an addiction, you know, and if you’re driven by an addiction, it’s miserable. And at some point, so ego is like an addiction. It’s an addictive or compulsive attachment to self. Like that self is who I am and you can’t not do it. That’s what compulsive means. It’s like an added cannot not do it. But with help you become free of that. And if you’re truly free of all that free of ego, then yeah, why not be happy? So I feel like you know, it is the way to happiness just as interesting because like when you choose to be happy, and can you choose to be happy if you’re not free? It’s just something to think about something that came to me
Rick Archer: and what you’re asking what you’re saying kind of begs the question, well, where does happiness come from? What is the essential ingredient of happiness? You know? Does it come from what we experienced through our senses? If so, it’s very tentative, and, you know, variable and unstable, because what we experienced through our senses is always going to change. And if it’s not what we experienced through our senses, how come we do get seem to get happier when we experience a nice thing and less happy when we experience a bad thing? But then, can there be a can there be found a source of happiness, which is independent of what we experienced through our senses? You know, kind of a deeper wellspring of happiness? And of course, think so. Yeah, spiritual traditions have all talked about this.
James Wood: Sure. I mean, happiness includes sadness, you know, there’s up and down high and low. I mean, it’s the human scene. I mean, one could say, What about the bliss of nirvana? Well, I’m not talking about that. And it’s different. But just happiness.
Rick Archer: I’m talking about that. Okay. I mean, talk about that, in terms of ultimately, what what is really going to fulfill the human craving for happiness? I don’t know if anything else ultimately will.
James Wood: I agree with that. What’s funny about it, though, is you have to let go of happiness in order to have it. Yeah, you have to let go. I mean, there’s nirvanic. Bliss. And then there’s, it’s like, there’s Nirvana and samsara and they’re the same. Yeah, I mean, it’s, it sounds best, you know, Franklin, Mara Wolf, if you read, so his book is experienced in philosophy, you know, he took the, if you look at his part of that book is called philosophy on consciousness without an object, it’s really it’s really worth reading. And, you know, he talks about that, he says, you know, summation is something like, besides the great space, there is no other that before that, he talks about how, you know, there’s Nirvana and samsara and yet, from the perspective of that, again, transcendent consciousness, they’re the same. That’s why the third mountain position can’t be dualistic. If you’re awake, because you know, you’re eating a hamburger. And yet, is there someone you know, it’s both true and not true at the same time? I’m not sure if I’m addressing your point. I just think there’s like, so you’re talking about bliss? I think that’s tempting, you know, to think bliss is the point. I mean, bliss is okay. But I have to say, when I woke up, it was it was, you know, it’s peaceful. Made you want to, do you wanna be blissed out all the time? Or do you want to be at peace like that? Just free? Bliss is great. It’s just, you know, I like bliss, too. You know,
Rick Archer: I think what I’m saying is not that, I mean, blissed out implies a sort of, like slightly overwhelming kind of situation. I think there’s, there’s a sort of a baseline of contentment is called Santosh and Sanskrit, which characterizes the awakened state, and which is independent of changing experiences and circumstances. And, you know, which there’s a there’s a saying, as a contact with Brahman is infinite joy. And it’s kind of this juxtaposition of the awakened consciousness with relative experience that stirs up waves of bliss way sloshing around in a bathtub stirs up the warmth. You know, if you’re lying to still you don’t feel the warmth anymore slosh around a bit, you begin to stir it. So I’m just kind of saying this stuff because people talk about you know, being able being enlightened and yet being depressed or neurotic or this and that and I wonder whether such people have really worked it out and that you know, perhaps the more traditional the Zen monk you know, with his hands in the air laughing with a big pot belly is actually more characteristic of what true Enlightenment or full Enlightenment really is.
James Wood: Yeah, chop wood carry water. Totally. It’s just like I said, it’s it’s there’s that realization of freedom. And then nirvana. You know, if you recall And then yeah, and then sure chop wood carry water. I mean, that’s. Yeah, I mean, I do feel part of this, I don’t control it, you know, say I? And you know, it really does come back to who am I? You know? I would say I don’t know. And that’s There’s wisdom in that. It’s just, it’s what I am is unknowable, and yet its relationship with form. Yeah, it’s really it’s pleasurable it can be, it can be unpleasant. It could be blissful in a sense. But to me, that’s, yeah, just stir up a certain kind of enjoyable sensation may be
Rick Archer: darker moments when some even that when if something happens in your life, or I don’t know, you, you’re sick or something happens. Do you? Do you still discern a dimension in your life, which is untouched by those things, and which sustains you in a way, which, you know, 40 years ago, 30 years ago, if you had been underserved, similar circumstances and bereft of that dimension, you would have felt the full impact of the negative thing with no buffer with no sort of foundation? You know, that to modify or to put the relative experience in a larger context?
James Wood: Right. I mean, I agree with what you just said. And that’s basically how it is like, yeah, I get sick sometimes. And it’s really unpleasant, it can be overwhelmingly painful, depending on what it is. And in those moments, the pain or the unpleasant is certainly dominates, too to field of awareness. And yet there is that sense of detachment that’s
Rick Archer: not the entirety of who and what right out of your experience. Yeah.
James Wood: Yeah. And it doesn’t judge. It’s funny, because the self like, ego wants to judge but it you know, you’re awake, it’s like, again, if you see my hand, but I can so judgments, like, gripping, I want this, or I don’t want that, you know, it’s it’s desire and aversion and attachment. So an unpleasant experience comes up, we usually what we pull away from it, right? You know, we’re, I don’t want that. So it’s over there. And we’re trying to and it’s based in a judgment. I find that doesn’t arise. And yes, it does add to the misery if you’re judging it. When the judgment doesn’t arise. It’s almost like it’s like a flower. So the mind still runs. You know, as, as the heart pumps blood, the mind pumps, thoughts. So it’s a rising and it’s as if awareness season, it’s like, yeah, it’s not true. Yeah. And yet, when it’s really painful, the body’s cringing the nervous systems like, oh, you know, could be, and yet there’s no judgement of that. So it’s, yeah, it’s allowing a human experience. Yeah, it’s wonderful. I would, you know, I’m not going to say that I don’t feel pain. That would be Sir, let me but who feels see who feels pain? That’s what’s interesting. I heard that, you know, a lot about Ramana Maharshi. I believe, here hearing these things. I’m not an expert. I know a bit I’m historically My understanding is that he, he had cancer at the end of his life, right. Like, of course, he had cancer, you know, and that, I don’t think he sought medical attention for that did he is that
Rick Archer: people, he let people do all kinds of things to him, you know, whatever the whatever they wanted to do. And he wasn’t seeking it. But all concerned people are all tending to him and trying different things. Sure. But he didn’t he didn’t get morphine or anything to muffle his pain. Yeah,
James Wood: seems like a read somewhere that his quote was, let it grow. Which, really, but you know, from that really? Oceanic consciousness, it’s nothing. Yeah. And yet, again, he might like romp, Sri Ramana. To whom does that thought arise? You know, to whom was the sensation arise? Yeah, I get that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think here’s an example that will wrap up this point. And that is, let’s say you had $10 to your name, and you lost five, or you gained five, somebody gave me five. That’d be a big deal in other day, like, significant change in your financial status. But let’s say you had just won the lottery. Somebody just won the lottery the other night got 300 and something million dollars, and then somebody gives you five, or you lose five. It’s like, what does it matter in the context of my financial status? It doesn’t really it’s not that significant. I think that we can use that as a metaphor for, you know, kind of an awakened consciousness and its orientation to the the gains and losses in life relative to an unawakened consciousness, which doesn’t really have the capacity to suffer. Then major gains and losses without being shaken.
James Wood: I think that’s a good analogy. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay.
James Wood: About my book, you’re gonna ask him about it.
Rick Archer: I was I mean, you have a bunch of chapters in each one of these words that constitutes a chapter title is an interesting area for discussion.
James Wood: So other way I’m interrupting you, just to say we there was some discussion prior to this about maybe I would send you a copy or something. The reason I didn’t is it’s, it’s pretty, it’s 100,000 words, 300 pages, and I just, you know, figured out Oh, no, I figured to read that entire thing and simulated in what a week,
Rick Archer: you would have had to say read, you know, pages 35 to 38 and 45. To, you know, like that, I wouldn’t have read all of it. But that’s okay. But the chapter titles aren’t nice. Now. I’ll read them quickly, all 10 of them, and then we can maybe poke around through them. So honesty, study instruction, action, commitment, embodiment, meditation, community life, devotion. And this is called the 10 paths to freedom. So are you presenting these as autonomous independent paths or stages and an overall system are what is what are you saying here with these words?
James Wood: Yeah, yeah, each one could be used in itself. And if you read the introduction, which I recommend, it explains that, of course, you didn’t have a copy. But But I mean, for anyone who’s watching this, it’s, yeah, it’s definitely worth reading. And I would read the introduction. And, you know, it’s, like I said, there’s a way of reading that’s more in depth and more focused. It’s not just the thoughts or the words, it’s like, there’s a depth. Yeah, so it’s interesting, because what I would say is, it’s a linear. When I wrote it, uh, started writing this a couple of years after I woke up. And like I said, I was really in that more mountaintop perspective. And the main thing that book is about is how did I get there? So to speak, right? There’s, there’s no one and no one gets anywhere. And we all agree on that. But basically, that’s how I got there. And it is a linear, I think it’s important to read it in a linear fashion, if you just jump in the middle, that might not make sense, because I defined terms early on. But if you read the whole thing, you’re like, Okay, you got to take that in. And once you get grok, that whole thing, then you Yeah, you could read, you could use one chapter of the other, like, Chapter Seven is meditation. Yes, you can use that by itself. And yet, what’s interesting is like, frankly, every chapter could be looked at as a form of meditation. So it’s really nonlinear. And yet, if you read it, I would recommend starting at the beginning and going all the way through?
Rick Archer: Well, let’s, let’s discuss some of these just for fun and see what comes out of it. So honesty, for instance, would you say that honesty is an important starting point for a person? And if they’re going to embark on the spiritual path? Or if they’re already embarked, and maybe haven’t really taken care of that area of their life? They should?
James Wood: Yeah. That was really important for me, I read a book called Radical Honesty by Brad Blanton. I don’t agree with everything he says in it. But one of my mentor, friends, a student had gone to one of his seminars, and he told me about it. And I was like, wow, I gotta check this guy out. Because he’s if you if you look at him, you know, how Blanton lives? I haven’t looked at it lately, but he’s just brutally honest. You know, and I don’t always agree with that, that you’re almost to the point of cruelty, you know, but basically, I read the book, and I realized, I just could sense that that was important for me is when I was a student, so I embraced it. Like, I’m going to do that, right? I’m going to be honest. And like, I think even the same day, or the next day, something occurred, something happened. Where I realized that I was I would have lied about it before it was more subtle. And was like, oh, man, I can’t do that. That’s, but I committed to it. So I told the truth about it. What had happened is a good friend of mine came by my apartment was a mess. I mean, it was like a train wreck. I felt bad about it. And he came by and knocked on the door, and I realize I’m like, oh, man, I can’t let him in this place is terrible. And I love this guy. You know, he’s good friend. And so he knocked a knock and then went away. My car was in the driveway. So there Yeah, or you know, maybe I went for a walk or something. So he called me later and like, oh, man, I gotta tell like I knew I’d read that book I committed and I’m like, um, and I gotta tell him the truth. All right, I’ll do it and it’s hard to do Yeah, it’s embarrassing see that’s part of that like egos gotta be seen. And it’s unpleasant. So he Yeah, so hey, I dropped by earlier and the car was there. You know, knocked on the door, in answer with You know what’s going on? Immediately I knew that what I would have said before, it’s terrible. I know this, what I would have said was, oh, yeah, I was in the shower or something. Don’t we all do that, or I’ve done it probably. And I said, You know what? His name is John. I said, John, I, I was there, and I heard you knocking, and I was just embarrassed, my place is a mess, and I’m gonna let you in. And he, he said, Oh, man, it’s okay. You know, and understand that and, gosh, it was a relief. It was like, wow, I don’t have to hide anymore. And, and also, I’m like, I really want my friend to come visit. So I had to clean the place up. And if I hadn’t embraced that, I don’t think I would have done it. There are other examples. But yeah, it’s it was liberating quite a bit, quite a bit. And people don’t like it. I mean, I remember I was single, quite a bit in that at that time. And don’t go don’t go out on dates sometimes. And, you know, meet someone and like, Yeah, I’m going to this thing called Radical Honesty. It’s amazing. And I certainly I talk a little bit, I never see him again, you know, looking at the watch, like, I don’t know, it’s just, but you know, eventually you meet someone that says, Really, that’s awesome. And you know, that’s the person you want to be with. Sounds great.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And there’s a saying in Sanskrit, that says, comes down to something like speak the truth, which is sweet. And, you know, obviously, there, there was a story of Winston Churchill running into some woman at a party and he walked up to the woman, he said, Madam, you’re the ugliest person I’ve ever I’ve ever met. And she said, Mr. Churchill, you’re drunk? And he said, yes. But in the morning, I’ll be sober yet, you’ll still be the ugliest person. And so, you know, maybe that and obviously, that was his subjective opinion. So it’s not necessarily even truth. But I think people can get kind of in your face in the name of honesty sometimes. And
James Wood: yeah, the teacher I mean, my experience with Richard frankly. He basically, I mean, I’m speaking just about him, I’m would think that any authentic teacher would probably be like this. But like, basically, ego gets reflected back. How does that work? I’m not sure. But it does. And every time I talked to him, when I first started working with him, it changed over time. I had to I had to grow past that. Right. But I couldn’t live like that had to had to do it. But yeah, when I first started working with him, it’s like, everything I said, sounded like idiocy. And it was, you know, it was I mean, on some level, it was just blah, blah, me, me, and I’m like it. But I didn’t really notice it unless I was speaking to him. And he would just look at me. I mean, that’s not cruel. That’s, that’s honest. Where I was like, it’s like a space where you hear yourself, you know, like a canyon, where it reflects back and you’re like, Oh, my God is I want to sound like, and it’s wonderful. I mean, if you use it, or if, you know, if ego wins that particular battle, you’ll, you know, you could blame the teacher, which I don’t recommend, because that’s, you know, doesn’t get you anywhere.
Rick Archer: Well, let’s take another example. Let’s say you’re married, or you’re in a committed relationship, I don’t know what the legal status is here. But um, let’s say you find yourself, you know, befriending someone else. And you know, there was some a friendship growing, you know, would you just tell your partner, hey, this friendship is growing? Or would you think, Alright, I’m just gonna deal with this somehow, and not necessarily put this in her face? And, you know, you know, kind of somehow come to terms of this situation. Rather than really rocking the boat.
James Wood: You can rock it a little bit. In some way, right? You don’t want to rock it too much. Yeah, you want to be honest. I mean, I you know, I wouldn’t like if you ever met ally, but my partner Ally and I. Yeah, I, I would tell her something like that. I mean, it to me, it we in this is sort of a, you know, in the book, I lay it out quite systematically, but you know, what I call basic honesty, is telling the truth. It means not misrepresenting your experience. So, you know, I see what looks like an orange globe on your bookcase there, but when I would say there’s things, yeah, there’s a there’s an orange globe on your bookcase that matches my experience. We probably both agree on that. So that’s basically honest. What but human
Rick Archer: relationships are more complicated.
James Wood: Well, yeah, there’s, there’s another level. I’m sorry,
Rick Archer: I interrupted nuance that? Yeah. Yeah,
James Wood: you’re right. The next level, if you will, is, you know, not just telling the truth that when do you tell it? To whom do you tell it? Why, you know, who’s around that might hear it is all these things and you have to listen a little more. You have to be like, Hey, is it appropriate? What’s the grade? I was? Yeah, so I call it I call it situational. honesty which sounds like you would, it doesn’t mean that you change the truth to fit the situation it means that you, you just notice what your situation is. Yeah, yeah.
Rick Archer: So do you think that dishonesty and it’s not a black and white situation as you just said, but do you think that some sort of habitual tendency to dishonesty erodes the person or erodes the sort of integrity of the personality in such a way that is that creates an impediment to spiritual progress?
James Wood: Yes, it’s a, I would say it’s a way of hiding. Because if you’re honest, you’ll you’ll start seeing stuff. Like I said, I’m, I used to hide from my father. That way. That was one of the scariest things that was shortly after I read that book. And I was in the mentor program at the time. So a lot of there’s a lot going on. There was a stage of my life where I felt moved intuitively, completely. Intuitively, I had no idea why I moved to Las Vegas. Why don’t I get into that, but I could feel it. It was it was true in my mind was like, Yeah, but yeah, but not. And finally, I was so painful to resist it. I said, I’m just gonna do it. I’m just gonna listen, I’m gonna do it. Why? I don’t know. though. I had lunch with my father. And his the last time actually lived in my hometown, and I left and never went back after this. Important. I mean, I visited that and went there after that. Anyway, so we’re having lunch. And I just said, I said, Dad, it was hard to do say this. I said, Dad, I’m moving to Las Vegas, because God wants me to. And he, you know what he did? He had this thing where he put it, you let it go like this? You know, overs food. Like, and you put any? Yeah, and I was like, part of me was scared, you know, but I did it. And took courage, you know? And then Then he said, Oh, well, we’ll, we’ll deal with it. We’ll work it out. And like, wow, that was easy. You know, actually, you know what I mean? It’s like, we tend to hide. So that opened up all kinds of stuff for me, if you can be honest with your parents is hard to do. But you know, yeah. And I’ll add one
Rick Archer: more thing around that said, if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.
James Wood: Exactly. Go home for the holidays, you think you’re awake? Go home for the holidays. And yeah, it’s it can be it can be fun. It can be unpleasant, it can be happy. It’s all kinds of stuff. But basically, you love them. And right, and that’s the, the basis. But there’s one more level of honesty, I’ll get to you real quick, which I call absolute honesty. And that’s just a term that basically what it means is basically what meditation is, it’s what consciousness is. So there’s Okay, so there’s telling the truth, and then there’s knowing when and where and to whom, right. You get that straight now, then you have thoughts arising. absolute honesty, is seeing that No thought is absolutely true. And so again, I’m making this gesture. It’s like thoughts arise in what do we usually do egos like, oh, you know, some form of I don’t want this or I do want that. And it just it, you know, snark flick, this Narcissus thing, you know, in our thoughts, but conscious process where you meditation thought arises, and you just see it is empty. You see it is it may have relative truth, but it doesn’t have an absolute truth. And I think that’s important. So that’s, yeah, yeah, that’s really if you’re lying, I think if you’re lying habitually, I don’t think he can really do that. I don’t think you can get to the place where you just clearly witnessed your thoughts arise because you’re too busy hiding. So yeah, you have to get it straightened out,
Rick Archer: you’re creating some kind of deep complexity in your, in your structure that is not conducive to resting as in the simplest form of awareness. Right. And it’s worth adding that there’s a lot of, again, in the, I don’t know, but in the Vedic literature, at least, there’s a lot of emphasis on on that there are people who, who are so much into their honesty that if they say something, they have to do it no matter what, like Ramana you know, I’m not Ramana ROM in the Ramayana, he committed to go into the forest and, and so had to do it, he had to do it because he couldn’t go back on his word. Or in the, in the Mahabharata. You know, the Pandavas, five brothers brought home this woman that they had found on their journeys or whatever, and they they said, Hey, Mom, you know, look what we brought home and their mothers in the kitchen and she said, whatever it is shared equally among you. And it was this woman so they she became the wife of all five because the her mother couldn’t they couldn’t disobey their mother. She had said it, it had to be there otherwise do in addition, okay, so enough on honesty, incidentally, those who are listening and there’s about 100 and 40 of them now or something, if you have a question that you’d like to ask them as a question for him on the bottom of the upcoming interviews page on batgap.com. Second of your points is study, and you touched upon this earlier. And
James Wood: it’s like letting the meaning penetrate the words, you know, there’s a deeper meaning, you know, to the degree that a text was written from a place of consciousness, so, you know, whatever that is, so it could be someone who’s awake, or someone who just is very conscious either way. And again, is honest, I mean, so builds on the first chapter, so it’s basically honest, and there’s a degree of consciousness coming through. Yeah.
Rick Archer: That is You mean like studying spiritual teachings and texts and things like that. So that is basically
James Wood: what it is. Right? And I talk about that there’s like, see, there’s a relative and an absolute value. And so in Tibetan Buddhism, they call this the two truths. Okay. So there’s really only one reality one truth, we know that, that there’s this relative appearance, and so we’re dealing with that that’s the, you know, Rick, would you pass me the water? That’s the relative truth. Absolute Truth is Brahman, right? It’s, I am that. So you know, you’re reading for. Like, if you’re reading for entertainment, like a novel, you’re just reading is basically relative level. There’s some feelings emotions you might have, if you’re reading a spiritual text. So you’re reading Christian discrimination, which is fantastic. By the way, if no one’s read that chunker. Like as you penetrate it, it’ll penetrate you, in a sense. Sounds funny, maybe, but there’s a depth of it. That’s like I said, Franklin, Merle wolf was studying. Forget what he was reading when he woke up. At first it was a commentary wrote a lot of commentaries on the apana shots. But, or chakra did, Frank Well, no, yeah. chunker. I wrote a lot of commentaries on that on a shot. But say, like Chris jewel, for example. It’s really clear, philosophically. And yeah, and that’s important. That relative level of just clarity of thinking, and yeah, there’s a depth because who’s writing it? And from which place? It’s being written? And they’re both going on at the same time? So actually, it’s a it’s a form of meditation.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I guess my thought on study is that it’s the that spiritual progress or if you want to call it that definitely has a knowledge component as well as an experience component. And without the knowledge experience can be misinterpreted. One can have an awakening and it can be a source of confusion and fear. If one doesn’t know what it is, I’m yourself said when you first woke it didn’t think you didn’t know what this was. And also, you know, too much study without the experiential component can get lopsided, you can just get all hung up in intellectual ideas and mistake those for actual realization or experience. So but there’s a kind of a, you know, step by step process where it’s nice if the if knowledge and experience can go hand in hand. I think.
James Wood: I agree with that. That’s basically what chapter two is about.
Rick Archer: Right? Good. Okay. And instruction isn’t is sort of a natural follow up from study, I guess it’s like, you’re meaning you’re getting some guidance from an actual person rather than just trying to figure it out on yourself on your own from a book.
James Wood: Right? I would call that just look at these are just conventions. Don’t get hung up on it. But the level one I call it Level One is you’re studying, you haven’t met yet literally met an awakened teacher in person. It’s very different. Man that Richard is, you know, when I met him, when I first met him, it’s a different is a different quality. They’re both important. So yeah. I’m gonna say one more thing about studying before we abandon it. It’s not just text, it’s also videos. So in this day and age, you’re watching. Yeah, well, YouTube is really useful. And there’s a way of listening within yourself as you’re hearing this conversation, for example. And you’re right, is that you know, there’s an intellectual component and there’s an awareness component that’s has a depth to it. Yeah, so chapter three instruction. I know that there’s some disagreement sometimes about whether a teacher is necessary. I would say, really, what happened? See we have an inner teacher. actually capitalize the term like you have your school teacher from third grade, that’s lowercase t fine. Unless unless you happen to be awake. That’d be kind of cool when that your third grade teacher has awakened the great now, but anyway. I don’t think mine was sorry, Mrs. Stewart. Anyway, so um yeah, so it’s an inner capacity. We all Have for awakening and they say when the student is ready the master appears to me. That’s what it’s like. It’s it’s as if it’s like it appears outside you but it’s not. Like if this is a dream, you’re trying to wake up from the dream. Like I really want to wake up I’m really sincere get honest do some study teacher appears when I found Richards book the Ida is we his first book. It was random. I thought it was someone else. There’s a guy named Rick Moss who did some kind of work. In in Texas, like in Austin.
Rick Archer: Yeah, no one knew him. Actually. He was an old TM teacher back in the day.
James Wood: Oh, cool. Yeah. Yeah, I’d seen him present. And I’m like, Oh, cool. He wrote a book and it said Richard Moss, you know, rip, Richard, pull it off the shelf, open to page one, like, whoa, was this just in really, frankly, a transmission? Just, just bodily just Oh, my gosh, and I just devoured and so on. Like, what made that appear? Or it was was it random? You know, I don’t? Like I don’t know. But I think that if you’re ready, and your sincere help will come.
Rick Archer: Oh, yeah. I’ve spoken to people who, you know, they walk into a bookstore. And they’re walking down the aisle and a book falls on the floor. They pick it up in his Ramana. And now it’s like, right, what’s going on?
James Wood: Yeah. So is a teacher necessary? Well, no, not really. I mean, look at Eckhart Tolle. What is spontaneous, right. I don’t think he
Rick Archer: somebody told me he had a lot more seeking phase before his awakening than he lets on and the power of now, but who knows?
James Wood: Yeah, I think he was an intellectual. He talks about that he was a student University in England. But yeah, I mean, who knows? I’m just saying that. What I would say, and I touched on this earlier, but the basic thing is that having a teacher makes it easier. Yeah. Like, why don’t avail yourself of that help? It does not mean now find someone I write about this. It is really important to discern truth from false. It’s just how it is. I mean, look at Jim Jones. I mean, do I need to say anymore, like, just don’t go there. But you know, there may be more subtle forms of that, and just basically have to listen within yourself. And if you’re honest, and you studied, you know, it is a process that like, you get a certain degree of clarity and you learn, it’s almost like a flavor you need. It’s not a taste, it’s that, like, this is true, this is a real? Yes, you get that and then but then you you don’t check your intellect to check your intellect at the door. You continue to participate. And it takes a lot of trust. Yeah, and if signs of abuse come up, which you mentioned someone, yeah, get out of there.
Rick Archer: And we got an email from somebody recently who said basically, you interview all these bozos, you know, and none of them are enlightened you Why haven’t you interviewed my teacher, my teacher is really enlightened. Don’t know about that person’s teacher, but that the whole my attitude and doing this is that everybody’s a work in progress. I don’t know if anybody’s ultimately finished. And, but in this day and age, you know, that does seem as tick not Han said that. The Buddha is the Sangha, you know, that there, there are hundreds and hundreds of spiritual teachers all doing their thing. And
James Wood: it’s back and most of
Rick Archer: them Yes, back. And most of them have something to offer to people who resonate with them. And you know, somebody might like totally resonate with you others, like I don’t get this guy, I’m not interested, fine. Then you have your niche, you know, you have your affinity group. And I think that’s kind of true of all the people I interview and, and, you know, some might stay with a teacher for a long time. Others might, you know, hopscotch a bit from one to the next. And as long as they’re not being a dilettante, and just dabbling and not really going deep with somebody, but really, all right, this guy has taught me everything I need to know I’m going to move on. I think that somehow the this in this day and age it, that’s the nature of it, you know?
James Wood: Well, you mentioned Adi di, I don’t wanna get into that too much. But um, yeah, I’ve read when I read method method of the Siddhis, his first book, I just, it really affected me. I mean, it’s very powerful. I thought, you know, we might disagree on whether you know, it’s quality or so on, but I will say that his the community around him was a bit strange. And I don’t mean any disrespect to him. It’s just I don’t know it didn’t feel right, you know, and so I write about that in this chapter that you can sort of investigate and see what it’s about. And then if it’s not for you, you can respectfully back away yeah, I mean, it doesn’t you don’t have to be go online and you know, start a flame war about it just it’s not for you. It’s fine. No disrespect and then you know, and then Um, that’s when I found I that is we met a couple years later and Richard just worked for me basically.
Rick Archer: Sure. Yeah, I mean, I’ve interviewed a number of people who were with him, Sanyo bonder, who was one of his top people, Sondra Glickman, Mercedes kirkko. Probably a few more. Terry Patton was with him for a long time. And, you know, they all have laudable qualities. They all obviously grew and gained something, but he himself was he really don’t want to get into it. It’s just yeah, let’s not go there. We could get into horror stories. So, you know, after four, yeah, chapter four. Action, action.
James Wood: Yeah, action. I could just start anywhere. So is there a doer? No. Rick, would you hand me the water? Yes. It’s like, they’re both true. Yeah. So I mean, a lot of this, I just would say that from basically the absolute or you say it’s just a conscious perspective. And say, you’re a student and you’re working on this, you’re becoming more conscious. You start to see through ego, you start to see through. Instructor relax a little bit. And then there’s just you could say, there’s just being this, there’s just, we mentioned happiness, yes, you’re happier, like, wow, cool. And maybe you’re sad. And you’re like, oh, sadness is kinda interesting, too, you know, and you’re just a little more loose and like, you know, having a glass of water, it’s not a problem, you know. And, like, if there’s look, if you’re embracing dualism, for example, and if you want to, it’s going to be unpleasant. Like, you know, if you’re attached to a thought that disagrees with reality, you’re going to feel it. So you don’t have to go around, you know, wondering if things are dualistic or not. I mean, they’re basically not, that’s the premise all is one. The world is a mirage, or something. But I mean, it’s like you’re in a bad dream, and you’re trying to wake up from it well, in if you’re in the dream, you know, it’s scary and painful as you start to wake up like, Yeah, and you start, you know, it changes. So no, there’s not a doer. And yet, I don’t know, I know, I’ve heard it said, there’s no doer, great. Just don’t make that a dogma. Right? They gave us like, yeah, you know, pass the salt. It’s not that big a deal.
Rick Archer: I think there’s a levels thing, like we were talking about earlier, where there’s a level at which there’s no doer, there’s a level at which there’s a doer, both are true simultaneously. I mean, taking taking the Gita as a case in point. Now, half the book is Krishna, exhorting our junior to get up off his butt fight. And, you know, I want you to do this. And yet there’s this whole chapters about how, you know, the self realized the person realizes I do not act at all, you know, the Gunas of nature are performing action. It’s not essentially who I am, that is the actor. And then they’ll throw in a verse like you have control over action alone, never over it’s fruits, you know, so that kind of goes back and forth between those perspectives. I think the only kind of resolution is that, in the bigger picture, both are true. And you have to sort of render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and, you know, if there’s a sense of performing action, and doership, then honor that on its own level. But if there’s also simultaneously a sense that I do not act at all, then that’s also true. They’re not mutually exclusive.
James Wood: Like when I hear you speak, for example, I’m hearing honestly, I’m not trying to flatter you, I just, it sounds like there’s a clarity like you’ve obviously thought about this you’ve obviously study and there’s a certain wisdom that comes through based on your experience and your honesty and so on, like intellectual honesty, and you admit you don’t know things and you know, we’re having this conversation and I forgot I was gonna say, it’s, like, you know, are you is, you know, is there a doer? I don’t know, but there’s that your innocence, transmitting a conscious position, where you can get your you can get yourself out of the way you are, Rick, I mean, I’m saying, you know, babies, like I said, there’s, there’s a degree of consciousness that I’m hearing that really isn’t about you. That’s what I’m trying to say. And yet, you’re also there’s humility, where you’re like, Yeah, I’ve had this experience in that, and then you’ll, you know, I, it is both, but becomes less intellectual and more about how we live, and like the quality of your presence, and there’s an intellectual precision to what you say, and I try to do that, too. I’m not always good at it. There’s also a presence and it just kind of get yourself out of the way a little and you know what I mean? It’s more honest. And then there’s a connection. There’s some kind of we all want that. Yeah, I would say we want connection. There’s a lot of loneliness and so we listen to each other differently. We’re listening into the being and then like, is there a doer? I don’t know, ma’am. has to solve. Yeah. I throw it in my head, I might duck. But otherwise, yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, my own orientation is just that I, you know, ever since I was a teenager, I’ve really been lit up by this stuff and have had my attention on it. And I kind of had this inclusive attitude of all the various components, the intellectual understanding, the experience, the the morality, all these different things are important components, and you can’t take any of them in isolation or to the exclusion of the others. And I very much consider myself a work in progress. I see a picture of arm over my shoulder, she often says we should often we should always have the attitude of a beginner, I’ve heard you say that, to feel that I kind of feel that it’s like Unreal. And it’s I think it’s literally true, not just a sort of a little intellectual safeguard, but relative to beings who may exist in this universe and levels of spiritual development that might be possible. We are all relative beginners. So I’ve
James Wood: got on how to play the bagpipes, I’m sure if I tried it would be terrible. Yeah, you know, you got to start somewhere. Right.
Rick Archer: Sure. And, and even in the realm of spirituality, that’s why I kind of a little bit, there’s two things that bugged me. One is people who say they’re done. And, you know, and they’re kind of adamant about that. And another is, there’s people who miss who take opinions as absolute truths. Like, they might have a certain attitude about teachers or about some particular thing. And, and it’s like, this is the way it is, you know, and it’s not like, this is my perspective, and maybe another perspective be equally valid. But, you know, this is the truth. I think that that’s a kind of a boxed in way of living.
James Wood: It could be I guess the key is not to be one of those people, right?
Rick Archer: Yeah. And describe to them that to become one.
James Wood: Yeah, I will say for your first point there that I do in my book, and again, I was I was definitely when I wrote that it was it was like, at least 10 years ago. It was it was definitely more I was more on the mountaintop perspective, which is fine. It has it the book is really about you’re in the valley and you want to get to the peak after that and I’ll say a lot about it maybe a little I feel like I’m whatever I write from here on out I probably address that maybe but I’m gonna live at first right I do stress that when you’re done you’re done. But the really the question is who’s done and I don’t mean to play a little Samantha and
Rick Archer: what’s done what what do we mean by done suffering
James Wood: I mean ego let’s just call it ego ego dies. Now I can almost hear Richard like oh, you know, play my dad like no, I don’t know what you think of that. But no self Okay, here’s the thing is is really important. I’ve heard misunderstandings self there’s still a self it’s just seen as like a phantom or mirage. It is like if I made a shadow puppet on on a light and I’m not going to shadow puppets but if I made say like a bunny on the wall or a duck or something I can say hey, ribs, see you see the bunny be like Yeah, yeah, see it? But there’s no bunny so they’re they’re both is and is not a bunny. It’s a concept. It’s sort of like when you’re watching a movie like Whoa, did you see that? You know that guy got shot or something like yeah, like is that real? Be like no you know, so you entertain disbelief. I mean, what do you suspend disbelief and yeah, but so when egos not there, so if egos are coming, it’s like an addiction. So an addict isn’t free, right? An addict, an addict. An addiction is defined as a compulsive behavior. Like such as the use of the substance or gambling or something like that. It’s compulsive, despite negative consequences. That’s the textbook definition. And you can’t stop. It’s compulsive and you need help. Egos like that. Basically, similar. It’s a it’s a compulsive attachment to self. Self importance can be big, self, small self. Look at me, I’m important, or oh, I’m insignificant. They’re both false. And what happens is they awaken perspective. Again, the mudra is like from just freedom. It’s like it is. Is it true? No. Is it relatively true? Sure. Why not? Why? Because I’m talking to Rick. It’s compassion. It’s connection. It’s It’s freedom as it’s lived in the world. It’s like, let’s do this together. Let’s come on. Let’s do this. At the same time, it’s like yeah, none of that’s real. And that was that’s what gives you the freedom to doesn’t matter what you do. i Yeah, sounds terrible. It’s, there is a morality about it. It’s like it doesn’t matter. And yet I find that kindness, generosity and this sort of virtues that we tend to talk about are natural.
Rick Archer: You’re the Getting into something here that I was going to say based on this done point, which is that, like you mentioned, well, I can’t play the bagpipe bagpipes. But obviously, that is a very tangential sort of skill and not something that everyone in the world needs to learn. Thank God. I mean, it would be funny if they all did. But there are certain qualities
James Wood: We’re all doing that, metaphorically aren’t we?
Rick Archer: There are certain qualities that are so that we associate with spiritual development and have been historically associated with it, like you just mentioned a couple of kindness and compassion. And I would like to think that, you know, that, though there are certain qualities like that, that aside from awareness or realization of truth, or self, that are important components of spiritual development, and that there are always may be exceptions and variations, and so on and so forth. But the, you know, once that ground has been established a being that it’s going to begin to percolate into various aspects of the personality and one might find that the heart becomes more and more and more full, and blossom and compassion and love and devotion and qualities like that begin to grow or that the senses begin to become more refined and subtle, and in their appreciation of everything, and, or that behavior begins to become more, you know, helpful and compassionate and so on. I don’t know, those are qualities that and I’ve heard people argue the opposite. And I’ve heard them say that there’s no correlation between spiritual awakening and behavior. And all that behavior could be very crude and cruel and rough, and yet one could be awakened. But I really just questioned whether that’s fully true, whether there might not be higher values to awakening that, that are being missed there.
James Wood: That’s a really good point. I would say it’s about connection. I mean, if I’m a jerk, you’re probably gonna tune me out. I mean, I don’t know maybe I’m a jerk. And you’re there. You’re still listening. I don’t know. But I mean, selfless. The nature of self is like the Fool in the tarot deck, like just stepping off a cliff who, you know, just doesn’t know anything. Yeah, if I’m a jerk, who cares if I’m awake? or Now you’re probably gonna take me out. So I try to you know, and it’s interesting, like, what I just wouldn’t be a good or moral person or a kind person. Like, for a purpose? Yeah. Because freedom. I, you know, it’s such a, it’s it is the foundation for me. Anyway, it’s the foundation of all of that. So, I mean, that’s part of why the relative is called relative because it relates. So like passing me the salt. That’s a relationship, right? That is a certain object relations, whatever. What’s it for? Like, what is the world for? Attend to say it doesn’t have an absolute value. It has a relative value. But what’s interesting is if you use it, say you use what you have in the world to wake up. It changes everything. Because, like, say you have a pencil. It’s just this absurd object. Right? If you don’t, you can write with it. Well, you know, a journal for a long time. I mentioned William Samuel, he got on the end of that kept a journal for 12 years. I mean, I that was really important work. And so I used during the commu, but you know, the
Rick Archer: chances. Yeah, I was gonna mention her name in case people want to find out more about William Samuel. I did an interview with Sandy Jones, which you can look up on that. Yep.
James Wood: But she endorsed my book. Oh, by the way. Nice. Just just a little tidbit
Rick Archer: there. Yeah. Okay, we may have covered the point. But I guess the point I wanted to make is you said, you know, if I’m a jerk, and you’re gonna tune me out, my question would be, if you’re a jerk, if you’re behaving like a jerk, not that there’s any absolute universal criteria of jerkiness. But
James Wood: we all kind of know what it is. But you don’t know then you’re the jerk,
Rick Archer: then is that really representative of the full value of awakening? Or would that indicate a sort of a half baked or partial stage of development and there’s more potential there for for development? It’s a great question. And you asked about what is the purpose of the world or what is the purpose of existence or something like that? I mean, some people like to think of it in terms of that evolution of consciousness development of awareness is the purpose and the universe is one big giant Evolution machines so to speak. And if that is the case, you know, speaking, just hypothetically discussing or but then it would seem to me that someone who is really awakened has has kind of merged with or discovered their essential identity with that intelligence which is intrinsic to and is governing, the creation, and it has really become a servant of that. And many people have spoken that way that they’ve become a servant of the Divine, you know, Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Saint Francis. So, you know, if you’re really serving the divine, of course, the divine likes to blow up planets by crashing asteroids into him and stuff like that, too. But there’s a kind of a, who was it, Stephen Colbert said that the truth has a liberal bias. I think that, that the universe has an evolutionary bias in terms of promoting and facilitating greater and greater expression of its essential nature, divine nature, and that awakened person becomes a servant of that, ideally. And if they’re not a servant of that they seem to be serving something in opposition to that, then maybe further awakening is desired.
James Wood: Yeah, I’d say that, like, the event that I’m calling awakening definitely is a thing. And then self esteem is empty. And at the same time, like I’m constantly improving and growing, yeah, but when I say I, I’m talking about, I’m talking about the person that dude, like, the one that we’re handling is the one that hands you to solve whatever that is, like, hey, let’s hang out, like, if I’m, you know, just transparently, being with no, you know, what am I gonna do? It’s like, you know, we do things we, you know, I like to hike, I like to ski, I like to go and have a beer, I like to be with people, I like to do this work. And there’s a sense of self that’s there. It’s just, it’s empty, right? So every object in the universe is like that. It isn’t ultimately real or true, but it has a relative truth. And again, it’s about connecting, it’s about relationships, it’s about connecting. So the better that better I can be in that respect. I think the more I’m able to connect with others. And I mean, I think everyone, we’re all jerks to some degree, we’re all it’s everything’s awkward. I mean, the self just doesn’t know what to do. Because it’s like the fool. It’s in the tarot deck, just, there’s such a humility about it. And I’m constantly surrendering myself to not knowing when to calm not knowing just I don’t know. And yeah, there’s a beingness that it doesn’t know conceptually, because it has nothing to do with it. Because thoughts aren’t true. It’s what Franklin or wolf called knowledge through identity. It’s I am, like, is a river know how to flow? Or does it just flow? It doesn’t think it just is and it’s perfect. It’s just, you know, some dowels. Just, I think morality is part of that I feel, I feel, at least for me, personally, which is probably the most honest thing to say is that I really do try to be a decent human being, do I succeed? No. Just ask me I’m kind of I can be abrasive, I can be rude. I can interrupt me, I’ve interrupted you a couple of times. I try not to
Rick Archer: know you’re doing okay. You know what you said about not really knowing there’s, I keep quoting the Keto people, some some people don’t like that. But I happen to know at least the first six chapters, but there’s a there’s a verse which says unfathomable is the course of action. And the implication there is that the the intricacies and the ramifications of any action are so complex that they’re beyond the grasp of human intellect. And what what is advice is to sort of get in tune with or are merged with that intelligence, which does permeate and orchestrate the whole thing. And then spontaneously action will be performed with the sort of skill, which you might have if you did actually know all the ramifications, even though you’re incapable of it.
James Wood: I agree. I agree. What comes to me is, darkness is just as light as light and light is just as dark as darkness. You know, yet and young. As soon as you think you know what it is it isn’t. It’s it is purely movement or stillness. What is that? Jesus says? What’s the sign of the kingdom of movement within stillness? There’s something I don’t know. I read this, I think Gospel of Thomas maybe but it’s it’s interesting. It’s an absolute consciousness that includes it’s hard to say this, frankly, for me, but it includes genocide. How do you reconcile that? I don’t know. We’re working on it. Like that. i You know what I’m not I try not to be a genocidal maniac. That’s my job. You know, and I, through doing Katie’s work is radical, if you really get into it the turnaround that she has, like, for example, people shouldn’t judge that’s your thought, well, first of all people do judge so it’s not true. I mean, it’s all we do. Like, it’s just everywhere judgments. But then it turns around, like, I shouldn’t judge Oh, wait, I’m doing that. It’s like, it’s like, the problem is littering, and everyone’s string garbage everywhere. And, and you’re like, that’s terrible. And you’re doing it to? Like, you got to stop, you know, I mean, it was just stuck to clean up your part of it.
Rick Archer: And decide what the other turnaround
James Wood: is. So it’s, I shouldn’t, I shouldn’t judge and then there’s, yeah, I don’t want to get into that. And you go ahead.
Rick Archer: I was just gonna say you kind of choose what team you want to be on? Do you want to be on the genocide team? You want to be the guy who drove the car into the crowd in Charlottesville? Or do you want to serve a higher purpose? Human Yeah. All as well and wisely put in it and it takes all types to make a universe but, you know, where do you want to? Affiliate? You know, and what is the what is the experience of your life gonna be like, based upon with, you know, whom you associate with whom you affiliate with the kinds of actions you do you choose, you know?
James Wood: Yeah, I mean, it’s an ongoing process. That part doesn’t. It just keeps Richard talks, you know, in your interview, I watched it. And I feel that he, he’s a wonderful teacher. I mean, again, I don’t mean to flatter anyone, but you know, he is, and I’m just glad that he taught me that stuff. You know, I don’t know what I’d be like, personally, if I hadn’t. I mean, I don’t know if it might even be here like talking to you. But I think he mirrors a certain social responsibility and sort of a grace and dignity that we can all understand. And that’s part of it. It’s, and yes, so is the jerkiness. There’s a lot you gotta have a little of that, right? I mean, it’s just, it’s part of the spice of what we’re doing. If it’s held consciously, it’s not a problem. That’s the thing. In my book, I noticed to say a lot about like anger and Buddhism, they’re like, well, anger and certainly rage, fear. These are like, afflictions, I think, you know, they’re their problems, and they are. But if they’re held consciously, it doesn’t matter. I mean, you can actually, like, be passionate, and it’s not a problem. Yeah,
Rick Archer: I think it depends on you know, I mean, whether how much you indulge, and also whether you whether you use spirituality as an alibi for misbehavior, which I’ve seen people do.
James Wood: That doesn’t happen, does it?
Rick Archer: Yeah.
James Wood: Yeah. I try to be a decent person. That’s what I try to do.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, I, I’ve actually somebody is telling me the other day about somebody in our town, maybe there’s more than one who have done all kinds of scurrilous business things. And you know, when they’re called on it, it’s more like, oh, it’s not I’m not the doer. I’m not the actor. You know, it’s just all, you know, the Gunas of nature carrying this out. And so they’re using all that to the judge. Yeah, right. Exactly. They’re using spirituality as an alibi for misbehavior.
James Wood: Yeah, I don’t I hear that. I. I don’t know if I do that. I try not to. Yeah, I might have. It is convenient. You know, but it’s just not talked about being a jerk. I mean, yeah, I just tried to take responsibility for all that. No, not do that.
Rick Archer: Okay, now, there’s about five more points in your book. And if we spend 10 or 15 minutes on each one, we’re going to go away over time. So okay, lightning round. Yeah. So it’s like you know, commitment embodiment meditation, community life devotion. Alright. Thank you. So commitment, and let’s let’s just spend like a lightning round like you say,
James Wood: Sure. Commitment. I talk about the bodhisattva vow. Again, I’m not a Buddhist, but it’s important. It’s in the middle of a book because you’re at the point if you’re at that point in the process. This it’s it’s going from a level two to three where you’re committed in the practice to the path. We’re talking about committed rise chapter five, yeah, you’re committed. No, you’re committed to I call it the Path of Awakening, which sounds it might sound kind of lame, but is what it is. Yeah, I mean, yeah. So there’s actually a vow that one takes Franklin Mara wolf took it, Richard took it and Richard fortunately, allowed me to take it. And in Yosemite Valley is beautiful. I mean, I’m telling you, and there’s a certain rightness and maturity for that to occur. And it’s really important to talk about in the book, but it’s necessary to get past that point, so to speak.
Rick Archer: What was the vow?
James Wood: I haven’t had it memorized. It’s in the book.
Rick Archer: What was it? What were you committing to?
James Wood: It’s like a Man may all beings what is it? It’s funny. I can’t remember this basically like,
Rick Archer: like the bodhisattva. Yeah,
James Wood: I said, Yeah, I think Richard calls it the Kuan Yin Val because, right, but it’s, he gave it to me so yeah. It’s it’s in the book it’s like, May all beings be free like basically I’m gonna stay behind and so all beings are free Yeah. And we could get into what that means and you know but but it’s it’s more of the spirit of it more of the spirit I mean Jesus says He who is lastly first and first class. So you know there’s some of
Rick Archer: that someone called Ramana about the bodhisattva vow and he’s he laughed, he said, That’s like saying, I’m not going to wake up from this dream until everybody else wakes up from the stream.
James Wood: Yeah, I, I can see that perspective. And yet, you know, if Richard had said, We want you to stack this pile of rocks, and then take it down and stack it over there and do that for 10 years, I would have done it. And then we could get into what that means. But it’s like there’s a certain degree of transmission that’s going on Chapter Six
Rick Archer: embodiment. We’ve already talked about that a little bit. embodiment.
James Wood: Richard talks, Richards. I, at the beginning of that chapter, it’s funny, I had two quotes that contrast Shankara with Walt Whitman might say which one of these is true? chunker says the body is like a bag of bones and filth and is worthy of our contentment. And like, and yes to that, and then
Rick Archer: Whitman
James Wood: Walt Whitman yes,
Rick Archer: I Praise the Body Electric,
James Wood: I Sing the body, the body electric, you know, the armies of those I love and girth me and I and girth them. And you know, I shall not go off until I just corrupt them and charge them full with the charge of the soul. That’s a paraphrase. I mean, botched it, but they basically mean those are both true. And if you read the book, it’ll make sense,
Rick Archer: great meditation,
James Wood: I will say that I do a lot of embodiment, moving meditation in my retreats. And it’s wonderful, and it’s awesome. And it works we do sit into but if your body isn’t awake, then you’re not awake. That’s just I’m asserting that without defending it, you know, but that’s how it is. And learn more. Chapter Seven meditation. I just cover I really cover the different forms of meditation, mindfulness, inquiry, prayer, they’re all different takes in the same process that I call conscious relationship.
Rick Archer: And teach some forms of meditation on your retreats and stuff.
James Wood: Totally. And it’s pretty simple. I try to keep it simple, because it’s complex, you’ll forget it and you won’t do it. But the one of the main points I make at the beginning of that chapter is that meditation practice and meditation itself are not the same thing. And again, I can’t get into it, I kind of want to, but meditation is is the relationship of the formless with form. And it is already so practice is just waking up to that.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. Community,
James Wood: basically, so working with a group magnifies, if you do it. Again, it’s important to have a good teacher and to have heard, there’s a section in there literally called avoiding cults. So check that out. I mean, I have no interest in anything remotely related to what looks like an authoritarian came to talk and authoritarian deal, but I wrote about it there. That being said, getting a group together and invoking that presence, through these practices it met greatly magnifies the presence you’re saying something about. The Sangha is the
Rick Archer: tick, not Han, the famous Buddhist Zen master said the next Buddha may be the Sangha. In other words, we’re not going to be waiting for some great big superstar Savior type guy, but the Sangha, the collective, the groups that we form can be our teacher.
James Wood: Yeah, that’s basically what that is. Yeah, Chapter Nine is called life and that is, really it’s about just living this in the world living your student. You’ve made all this progress and you’re getting closer maybe and yes, it sounds linear and the sound is so it’s living it
Rick Archer: dedic for linear I don’t think you know, that. Yeah, I guess spiritual development is linear. I have yet to find anyone who hasn’t progressed through various stages.
James Wood: Okay, so remember, so I was saying, so you have to like your party self and your strict spiritual self and, you know, like, just live live it, whether it be be a decent human being and like deal with your parents to you know, Home for the Holidays kind of stuff. How do you do you know, that’s really what that’s about. And then chapter 10 Devotion is it’s really I will say it’s real. And I’d really liked that chapter. But it’s written with a, it’s as close as I could get to that sense of formlessness. And what that’s like, and to put it into words, and frankly, it sounds a bit, almost want to say apocalyptic, which I think viewers need to know, like, what, you know, they basically so you’re talking about ego death, you’re talking about, you know, if you read, it’s in the literature, like the world ends, you know, the universe ceases to exist, self ego, you know, I think if you don’t understand that, that’s where it’s going, at least conceptually, like, okay, that’s what it’s like, then you’re, you know, it’s to me, it felt dishonest not to put that in there. That being said, I don’t know, I just read it. It’s such a thing. But but it’s, it’s like, part of it is like, you’re done. It’s over. It’s ended, like you were saying, I if I were to write something now, it would probably include more about like, Okay, what’s it like after that? You know, it just kind of ends. It’s like your, you know, formlessness. So I would say it was that was honest, when I wrote it, and it’s still as long as you understand, okay, that’s what it’s like. And then you wash the dishes, you know?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Let me dwell on this for a bit because I don’t yet understand why you would associate a word like epochal apocalyptic with devotion. But um, all the great non dual teachers that we talked about, like chakra, Ramana, Nisargadatta, Papaji, and many others. They’re all extremely devotional characters. You know, Shankar wrote all this beautiful devotional poetry and was devoted to door guy believe and Ramakrishna to Kali and you know, Ramana, to Shiva in the form of Arunachala, and Papaji, to his teacher and Nisargadatta to his teacher, and they’re always doing poojas and singing, bhajans and prostrating to the floor and all this stuff. So there’s, there’s no, at least in the examples of these people. There is no incompatibility between non dual realization and devotion. And in fact, it would almost seem that non dual realization provides a context or a platform or in which devotion can really soar. So how does that relate to what you’re saying here?
James Wood: What did I say apocalyptic?
Rick Archer: It didn’t say that. I’m not I wasn’t sure why.
James Wood: Yeah. Good question. Because it ends your nightmare.
Rick Archer: Oh. It’s like the end of the night.
James Wood: Yeah, we all okay. You know, isn’t the law. I’m really not a Bible scholar. But isn’t the last book in
Rick Archer: the Bible revelations? Yeah, but that all sounds like a fire and brimstone. And, you know, I know, I know, I think sinners being cast into the fire and all that jazz.
James Wood: How many cults have there been or continue to be or they’re just like praying for the nether world? Like, yeah, it’s wicked and sinful. It’s like, I wouldn’t say all those things. But I would say there is some kind of understanding the spiritual path has to do with, like, ending that, you know. And if you read say, Shankar I mean, he’s really clear about it. He’s like, it’s done. You’re, you know, the world ends. And of course, I’ve said that embracing the relative continues. So it’s just empty. So there’s that. But um, that’s why I said apocalyptic because devotion to me is the purest. It’s basically love of truth with a capital T is Love Where You love Remember when I said I was doing The Work of Byron, Katie? And I’m like, Wow, I love this. Like, I felt good. I felt happy, like but more than happy like, more freedom more just I don’t know like consciousness you know, and if you’ve you know, to fall in love with that is I would say is the most potent the most potent weapon you had in the war against falsehood. Now, it’s funny because like, you know, these militaristic images, that I mean, Whitman says, you know, the armies of those I love and girth me and I gave them the armies you know, this, there’s something about it, there’s a fierce there’s, there’s a determination, it’s like Devotion means giving everything, give it all you’ve got, and you know what, your next like, it feels like you’re being undermined. It feels but it’s, it’s ego, but man, it feels like you it’s like, so not you, Rick, but just in general feels like, if so devotion to Me. I felt that and that’s what helped me across that threshold was talking about so ego death, like what do you let go into? I talk about faith. Faith isn’t a belief. It’s a relationship with the formless. It’s just complete, unknowing. And but yeah, devotion, drowsy Ford. And man, there’s no control. No one. It’s just its love of that, which is That’s it. And so it’s at the end of the book, because if you start out with that, yeah, the egos probably going to cooperate and you’ll win The I don’t know doing what but watch out, you know. I was just It could become an obsession with, you know, devotion. It’s poorly understood, but in our culture anyway, maybe on India, but it’s important to develop a certain discernment I think before you get to that point and that’s why it’s the end. But I mean, if you could skip to devotion, yeah do that I think devotion
Rick Archer: needs to have a foundation in terms of Self Realization, because if you don’t know who you are, then who is going to be devoted to what the there’s Margie is to say that a small pond can’t rise up in big tidal waves without stirring up the mud at the bottom. And by the same token, unless there’s that foundation of being, then the heart can’t rise in great waves of devotion, because it just doesn’t have the foundation or the depth or the capacity to do so.
James Wood: Yeah, so I wrote it that way. Because it? Yeah, I mean, he just read it. I’m just saying, like, I hate hearing you say that, like it kind of bothers you. And people say, Well, I’m done. It’s over. I do kind of say that,
Rick Archer: that much. It’s just like, man,
James Wood: right? I mean, we can still pass a solid hang out. So So it’s both. And I want the I want people hearing this to hear that. And the heart of it is really compassion. I think I mean, you know, if you love people love beings, and you want, like, Yeah, let’s do this, you know, let’s do it. Okay,
Rick Archer: good. Well, we’ve covered a lot, there’s been a good conversation. Thank you. Yeah, I knew it would be just listening to your talks and whatnot, that you’re an articulate guy. And I’ve put a lot of thought into this stuff and taking it very seriously. And I have a feeling we’d have an interesting conversation, which we have. Thank you. Okay, so let me wrap it up. I’ve been speaking with James Wood. And I’ll be linking as always, to James to Well, I almost create a page for each person and say a little bit about them link to their website and stuff. So James’s website is James Wood teachings.com. And I’ll be linking to that. And you can go there and find out what James has to offer and get in touch with them. As you know, probably this is an ongoing series. And if you would like to, you know, check out previous ones or be notified of future ones, or subscribe to the audio podcast, or donate or, you know, see who is scheduled in the coming months or whatever, go to batgap.com. And just check out the appropriate menus to do those things. So thanks for listening or watching. Next week, as I mentioned, we’ll be well I didn’t mention her name, it’ll be glory Gee, who is this woman who was around a biker bar and was a bartender and had some horrific experiences and ended up sort of literally on her knees, and then the light broke through. So I think she’s going to be really interesting. So thanks, James.
James Wood: And, yeah, I’ll say, I’ll say one thing of a practical nature that we got a new website recently, and you know, we’re really adding more content to it. Okay. If there’s like, if people are wondering, like, what can they do? One thing you can do is get on our mailing list, and we don’t spam me, but we’ll let you know about upcoming retreats and things like that. Yeah. So James would teachings.com Yeah. Good. And you get a free download of chapter one of our templates. Okay, great. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And, and I don’t spam you either. I mean, if you sign up to be notified of each new interview, you get, basically one email a week. They don’t use the list for anything else. So great. Thanks for listening or watching everybody and we’ll see you next week. And thanks again. James. Have a good life.
James Wood: You too. Okay. See you again. Yeah, me too.