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. There have been over 300 of them now and if you’re new to this, you can go to BatGap.com and see all the old ones archived and categorized in various ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers so if you feel like supporting it, there’s a donate button there.
My guest today is JC Tefft. JC is a former athlete, teacher, and business entrepreneur. He is now an author, producer, and teacher who corresponds with students worldwide. A student himself, first of his enlightened father and later of world-renowned teachers Jiddu Krishnamurti and Eckhart Tolle, JC’s own investigation into the nature of life and the universe led to realizations in Pure Consciousness that eventually led to the writing of his critically acclaimed book, “The Christ is NOT a Person: The Evolution of Consciousness and the Destiny of Man.” He has also written and produced a three-episode video series entitled, “Pure Consciousness: The Last Frontier” that can be viewed online at JCTefft.com. Additional writings and videos focused on non-duality teachings and the nature of Awakening unto Pure Consciousness are posted on JC’s website as well.
The way I became aware of JC was that – I don’t usually sit and watch videos on my computer – but if something looks interesting, I put it on my iPad and then watch it later. So, I was coming back from the Science and Non-Duality conference last year and while on the plane, I decided to watch some videos that I had on my iPad – and I started watching JC’s. And I thought, wow, these are fantastic, very clear, and beautifully produced, so I’d like to interview this guy. So here we are and welcome, JC. Thanks for doing this.
JC Tefft: Thanks, Rick. Glad to be here. Thanks for having me.
Rick Archer: We’ve exchanged a few emails over the last few days because I find your work so interesting and deep that I was concerned we couldn’t possibly cover it all and do justice to it in one interview. So, it would be fun if we could do a one-month interview and take a sentence and talk about it, and take another sentence and talk about it, and so on. But that would defeat the purpose of our interview today, so we’ll do more of a snapshot and hopefully do justice to your work today. Then people, if they’re interested, can watch your videos online or read your books and find out more, which is how it usually works, anyway.
JC Tefft: And I recall writing back to you, after you posed a question or two, that the work, overall, evolved over a 10-year period, so for you or anyone to digest it in three days for this one interview would be a miraculous job, to say the least. So, I fully understand that it’s more than we can cover in one interview, so we’ll just have to cover what we can.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And one interesting thing you mentioned about that evolutionary process is that the work itself became a kind of spiritual practice for you. For instance – reading here – you said in notes you sent me that “For me, the process of researching, writing, and producing these works has been an Awakening unto itself, to the point that I can now say that little if any ego remains that has not yet passed away. I could not have made this statement 12 years ago when the task of writing the book first began.” So, let’s not keep our audience in suspense any longer. Let’s talk about what we’re currently referring to with such enthusiasm. Maybe a good place to start would be talking about you for a bit. What led you to the point of writing your book and making these videos?
JC Tefft: Well, I notice that your BatGap website says it quite well – that it’s about ordinary people Awaken-ing, because Awakening is an ongoing process. It’s not something where one suddenly Awakens and walks around from that moment on as a fully enlightened being.
Rick Archer: Yeah, we initially used the word “Awake,” but after a while, we realized that’s wrong – it should be “Awakening,” so we changed it.
JC Tefft: And it seems you have it right. This also goes back to what you said earlier regarding my case, that it has been a process. It IS a process, and after a while, one realizes that it’s an ongoing process to the end of time. But in talking about my story, let’s first establish that the story is not the issue, really. It’s not important. There’s nothing of significant value in the story itself. Everybody’s got stories. They’re all slightly different, some similar. Where my story, or anyone’s story, might have some value, however, is in simply pointing to different moments, different happenings that occurred in this body/mind/ organism called JC, for instance, that we call Awakenings, that others, who have had similar “experiences” might also relate to. So, that’s what we’re really pointing to here is the Awakening process for one and all, and what it means to Awaken out of a self-centered point of view; out of the illusion of separateness.
Rick Archer: I think the value of stories is that they enable people to relate to the notion of becoming Awakened because if they only look to historical figures like the Buddha for examples of Awakening, or even contemporary examples like Eckhart Tolle, they are likely to expect that unless something exactly like that happens to them, they are not going to Awaken. But it shows up differently in each person. So, what I’m doing here is presenting a different perspective each week. And hopefully, after a while, people will get the idea that my Awakening is going to be my Awakening, not the Buddha’s or JC’s or Eckhart Tolle’s or someone else’s Awakening.
JC Tefft: Yes. You just said what I attempted to say, only better.
So, in my case, I can’t tell “my” story without saying something about my father. And, as you can see, it’s impossible for me to speak of my father in this way without welling up a bit, even now. But worry not, this, too, will pass.
I grew up in the home of an enlightened parent, a very enlightened parent, not just your average guy, and I took it for granted that this was so. And being the youngest of the siblings, I was at the receiving end of the best part, because my father went through a process, too. So, as I was growing up, he was growing up in an enlightened sort of way as well, and I was the beneficiary. Because, as a youngster, I not only lived under the same roof, but I also had a chance to sit in weekly gatherings – we called them “class” – in which he spoke of these things. And he had a following, people would come to “class” on a regular basis to listen and participate. So, I was not only present at these gatherings growing up, but I also could listen to my father talk about these things as if he was talking directly to me, his son. In fact, others often said that your dad seems to be talking directly to me all the time, which is to say, talking to whoever – because he was touching “truth buttons” in everyone at the time. So, he rarely had to come to me directly, as his son, and say, “Well, son, this, that, and another thing, and you better straighten up,” etc. Instead, he could speak to his children on a regular basis in the absence of a father-figure doing it, but rather, simply as an enlightened being – being Present and speaking Truth to his offspring. So, it was wonderful in that way growing up in that home.
I once told him, in fact, later on, that I sometimes learned as much or more from him by what he didn’t say or do, as by what he did say or do, because he wasn’t reactionary. He didn’t give voice to opinions. He didn’t come at me with his take on what I should “do” or blame me for anything. Nor did he give advice. Instead, he just brought his considerable Presence into the room, and his Presence encouraged that same Presence to come forth in me – or whoever. And if I went to him with a problem, his initial response was almost always, “Well, what part did you play in that? What did you bring to the moment?” He never blamed others for bringing about a problem. He always brought it back home to me. What part did I play?
Even so, being a boy like most boys, I sowed some wild oats in those days. So, it was hardly a monk’s existence. In fact, far from it. In high school, for instance, I had the car one night and some of us went out and hot-rodded around, so by the time I got home, the car was kind of choking and putt-putting along, but I parked it anyway and went to bed. The next morning my father had a difficult time starting the car, and when he finally did, he could barely drive it down the road. This was before fuel-injected carburetors and computers and all that stuff. So, he had to take it in and spend a few bucks to have it retuned. But he said nothing to me until after he had it fixed. And then he just brought it up gently by asking, “The car was running badly the other morning. Do you know anything about that?” He didn’t come with blame. He didn’t accuse. He didn’t penalize. But, of course, being a kid, not wanting to be found guilty, I answered, “No, I don’t know anything about that.?” But in that wonderful, beautiful way, I knew that he knew. And he didn’t have to say anything after that because from then on, I never brought that car home that way again, as one example of my father’s parenting skills. And that’s the way he showed the way to his young son. Not so much with words, but with Presence. That’s the way he taught.
So, later, I’m in my mid-twenties, and my first, impressionable Awakening occurs.
Rick Archer: Sorry to interrupt, but I’ve got to say, it reminds me of a Dan Fogelberg song, “Leader of the Band,” where he also said it was about his father. And he says, “His gentle way of sculpting souls took me years to understand.”
JC Tefft: Yes, well said. That would apply to my father, too.
So, I’m not sure of my exact age – I might have been 25, 26, or so – and what I’m about to say is where a teaching of Jesus applies – “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” By this, I don’t mean the person of Jesus is in the midst, but Christ consciousness or Pure Consciousness is in the midst. The “in my name” part is “in the name of Christ Consciousness,” so to speak.
During that time, I often hung out with a dear friend. This was after college, and we both were kind of in no-man’s-land, one might say – no doubt me more so than her – but we began to wonder together about the nature of God and Life and what it all means. We began to talk about these things. But prior to these conversations, I had never talked about my father’s teaching to anyone outside of those who came to “class.” But now, as we continued to inquire together, I opened up with her. And sometimes, as I spoke, she would say, “Oh, my goodness,” tell me more and we would continue to explore. So, we began to share in this way. Until eventually, while sitting in rocking chairs one summer day, like two old folks on her front porch, she started pressing me, saying, “Why don’t you give your life to God?” And I replied, “I’m not ready yet. I still have things (meaning self-centered things) I want to do.” But she kept pushing, kept repeating, “No, no, do it now, do it now. Say it, say it out loud.” So finally, just to get her off my back, I said, “Okay, from this moment on, I give my life to God.” And I barely got those words out of my mouth when – and I’m expressing this metaphorically – it was as if the hand of God, coming down from above, was placed upon my head, then lifted me out of the chair and said, “Well, it’s about time.” This is about all I can say when describing the “experience” of my initial Awakening, except that it had a transformative effect from that moment on.
Rick Archer: That’s pretty cool.
JC Tefft: And both of us suddenly exclaimed, “Oh my God, Oh my God,” as if she sort of saw or experienced the moment as well. And we both were in tears. It was just one of those moments when time stopped.
Not long after, when we were again together, I had a much more profound Awakening in her Presence, so my first two Awakenings occurred when we were together when I was in the Presence of my friend. So, now I can also say, with Jesus, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” The energy in those moments seems to coalesce or draw down power into Presence, if you will, allowing for Awakenings to occur. This likely is also why people who experience such Awakenings often follow up by seeking out other enlightened souls or spiritual teachers, if you will, to help sort things out because there’s a connection there, there’s energy that passes, so they can relate. So, that’s “my” story. That’s how the process of Awakening began for me.
Rick Archer: Very nice. Incidentally, I just want to interject here that I think it’s very beautiful that you become emotional when you think of your father or this incident because it reveals something that I often say on this show, which is that spiritual Awakening doesn’t just mean an Awakening of Consciousness, but it also involves the blossoming of the heart and other faculties as well. So, there’s nothing cold or sterile or bland about it. It’s a very rich, multifaceted development.
JC Tefft: Yes. Passion, Love expressing; all that good stuff. Well said.
Rick Archer: Because sometimes Awakenings are presented in a rather cold light. People kind of brush them off, saying that suffering is mere illusion and things like that. But you see the greatest exemplars of spiritual Awakening not behaving that way at all, but instead, having great compassion for the world.
JC Tefft: It seems that harmonic energy tends to work its magic in those who are sort of wired in that way – in my case, it comes from my mother – the intensity of the energy, that is. I’ve always been one who could work 24 hours straight, for instance, and stay attuned or attentive or focused on something throughout that time. That’s just always been true. But that’s an inborn quality, built-in quality, it seems. In fact, I remember my father once telling me that all that energy that’s in you will someday be a valuable thing. He could see that in me when I couldn’t, but I understand it better now.
So, returning to “my” story, Awakenings unveiled themselves in a variety of ways. But it wasn’t until later that I began to sense “why” this was so when I began writing and producing works. Having had a broad base of “experience”, so-to-speak, through a variety of Awakenings – meaning voice leadings, visual leadings, the Presence of inner Light, the Presence of utter peace, the ending of psychological time, insight into the future akin to prophesy, that sort of thing: all these different Awakening “moments,” if you will, occurring within the body/mind/organism of JC, allowed for greater understanding to occur when reading about other people’s Awakenings in the same Light. There had been a wide enough range of Awakening “experiences” in me that I could now better understand what others were pointing to. I could read or hear what others have “experienced” and say, yes, yes, I understand. And that understanding provided a foundation for writing the books and producing the videos later on. When I read other people’s commentary about their Awakening “experiences” I can relate. I get what they’re pointing to.
And regarding my father’s role in all this, I had the good fortune of being able to return to my father in later years and speak with him about such things, and he was able to give me further guidance, one might say. He was sort of like a spiritual guide in that way. And for the last 10 or 12 years of his life, we were best friends and we spent quite a bit of time together just working through these things. So, that was very helpful, both then and now.
I now must bring Krishnamurti into this story because he’s the other fellow who meant so much to me during that time. Having “experienced” some Awakenings – and by Awakenings I mean moments when the center of “me” was suddenly displaced, at least momentarily, and there was something much more profound in play. And once that happened – and another and another and another happened – I began to realize that there’s so more to Life and the Universe than the human Mind can comprehend. The Mind does not think up Awakenings or think its way toward Awakenings. There’s no such thing as a higher thought or a thought that’s beyond thought. Awakenings reveal a whole “Other” Reality that’s beyond the purview of Mind altogether.
And, of course, once you get a taste of the “Other” you want more, you want to open more and Realize it more. And that’s where seeking comes into play. So, like most other Awakening souls, I began to devour spiritual books. Sometimes I went into a library just to peruse the shelves, waiting for a book to jump out at me. This is how I “met” Krishnamurti. I had never heard of him before, but one day while perusing the shelves of a library, I saw a book by him – I’ve forgotten what the title was – but I opened it up and read one page and just dropped my jaw. He spoke to me in a very real way. I thought it was some of the most beautiful, insightful writing I’d ever read. So, I checked it out and took it home and it didn’t disappoint. I read another and another – and eventually determined that, if I didn’t fully understand what he was pointing to, this guy knew what he’s talking about. So, I dropped everything else and simply read and contemplated his works for a while, and no one else.
And rather than challenging what he was saying from my own point of view, I determined that he understood living Truth far better than me, so if I didn’t understand or Realize what he’s referring to or pointing to just then, it was best to patiently wait for something to show IN ME in that regard. I approached all his teachings in this way.
Not long thereafter I discovered that he was still alive, teaching, and giving talks in Ojai, California. Holy smokes. So, in the late ’70s and early ’80s, I flew to Ojai, lived in a tent, and attended two weeks of his talks while working on the grounds helping to park cars. I soon discovered that simply being in his Presence was transformative. I can’t possibly go into the depth and breadth of all of it here, but, for example, I returned from one of his talks and woke up the next morning in a state of absolute peace in every cell of my body – for 10 straight days – no conflict or tension of any kind. I wondered it this would last forever. It didn’t, of course. But his Presence had that degree of impact on me, again and again, in a variety of ways. Sometimes, while looking into one another’s eyes, I was acutely aware in those moments that he could see right through me, and that he knew more about me in those moments than I knew about myself. Looking into his eyes was like looking into the unfathomable depth of the ocean.
So, Krishnamurti was the other fellow, other than my father, who impacted me in profound ways back then. I’ve sometimes said that Krishnamurti is the purest human being I ever met in person or in print. He was absolute purity of soul, at least he was for me. So, I was exceedingly fortunate to have had a chance in the final years of his life to be in his Presence, too.
Returning to my father: toward the end of his life, he announced that he was going to offer a class devoted exclusively to the Bible and how biblical stories and teachings reveal the evolution of Consciousness or Conscious Awareness through time. Even though he never read the Bible until his college years, he loved reading the Bible from then on. He was not a churchgoer in his youth, but he enjoyed reading generally, which led him to major in literature in college. And following his curriculum, he took a class in the Bible as literature, which was the first time he ever read anything biblical in his life. But, as he read, he began to realize there were deeper truths hidden in biblical texts, shall we say, yet to be revealed, beyond what was being taught in his college class. So, he began to use the Bible as a tool, so to speak, to open him up, one might say, and he often referred to biblical teachings to help make his points from then on.
And, as fortune would have it, near the end of his life he announced he was offering a class – twelve classes, in fact – in which he intended to trace the evolution and flowering of Consciousness, as revealed in various books of the Bible – and I attended those classes – all but one – and taped them and took copious notes. And, while in the midst of attending these gatherings, it came to me that someday I might write a book along these same lines – tracing the story of the evolution of Consciousness up to and through the time of Jesus.
Not long thereafter my father was diagnosed with cancer and was effectively on his deathbed at the time. I took leave from work and spent the last six weeks or so with him, pretty much most of the time. But prior to that time, I had begun to outline in very rough form the book that later became “The Christ is NOT a Person.” Even so, it was clear to me that I wasn’t yet ready or capable of writing such a book. Nevertheless, it showed that I should clear it with him first, to be sure he would be okay with me writing a book, any kind of book, based on his teachings. So, one day I brought a file with me into his room that included notes and outlines I had written to that point and set it down nearby. We then just visited for a bit, but before I had a chance to bring it up, he suddenly changed the topic and said, “Sonny, come over here – no, a little closer please.” And I ended up putting my head on his chest and he began stroking my hair before saying, “Drop the idea of writing a book. It’s not yet time.”
Rick Archer: You hadn’t even told him you were thinking about it yet, right?
JC Tefft: Correct. He simply was consciously aware, not by means of his mind, but by Awareness Itself. And there wasn’t an ounce of resistance in me regarding his request. I just said, “okay” – I was tearing up then, too – and I took the file back home, put it in a box with other notes and tapes, and stored it on a shelf where it sat untouched for almost 20 years.
Then sure enough, I was going through a transition again – from a work-a-day routine to so-called retirement, and the same thing occurred as in days of yore. I hadn’t heard of Eckhart Tolle before. Nor had I read a so-called “spiritual” or “path to enlightenment” book for years. But, while browsing through a bookstore one day I came upon “The Power of Now,” picked it up, and began to read. And “Oh my gosh,” it touched me in some way and seemed like powerful stuff. So, I bought it, took it home, and devoured it. And reading “The Power of Now” moved me to take the notes from my father’s work off the shelf to see if I was ready to write a book, too. Thus, I spent the next few years organizing, researching, and writing what eventually became “The Christ is NOT a Person.”
And, as we were discussing earlier, the process of writing the book was part and parcel to the ongoing Awakening process as well. I would come across commentary in my dad’s teachings, for instance, as well as biblical and other ancient teachings, and realize that I didn’t, as yet, fully understand with sufficient Clarity what it all meant. So, just as with Krishnamurti’s teachings, I often went to bed at night with something in the forefront that was unclear, and sure enough, the next morning I awoke and Clarity on the issue at hand would be Present. And I continued to write. So, the process of writing the book brought ever-greater Clarity unto Itself. The process of Awaken-ing was now in high gear.
And the process of producing the videos was basically the same, as far as ever-greater Clarity is concerned. Such that today, if I were writing the same book, there might be a few things I would change – but not much. But there was a witness that was often writing the book – an in-between entity, mentally speaking – that for the most part is no longer there. In the process of producing the videos, however, that witness pretty much disappeared. So, there is no one writing, there is just writing. There is no one producing, there is just producing. But we can talk about this more later if you like.
Rick Archer: So, this might be a good time to ask a question that came in related to this point. A fellow named Gordon from Trenton, Michigan asks, “When we think we are the doer is it all beyond our control and in God’s control? Is it true that our ego believes to have control, but in reality, our lives are already planned, and we just witness the self and the set plan unfold?
JC Tefft: Well, that’s two questions. (Laughter). Let’s see if we can respond to the first part, which has to do with … could you please read the first question again?
Rick Archer: Oops, hang on. I just deleted it. But maybe I can get it back. Okay, I think I can paraphrase. The first part was about thinking that we are the “doer” when we’re not. There are a lot of verses in the Bhagavad Gita about this kind of thing, about the authorship of the action. We think we are the doer, but we’re not the doer.
JC Tefft: Forgive me … I’m not trying to promote the videos here, but the second episode of the videos – especially “Part II” of “Episode II” – is primarily about the nature of Mind. And among other things, it explores the science with respect to this issue: is there such a thing as a separate entity who “chooses” anything at all? And experiments have revealed that no separate entity exists between the movement of what we call “choice” and the action that follows. This has been demonstrated by strategically placing electrodes around the head that record electrical impulses that determine the time between when a person “thinks’ they are deciding to “do” something and when the actual impulse to do whatever it is, occurs.
A person is hooked to the machine, then given a button to push when they “think” they have decided to “do” or say whatever, and then the machine measures the time delay between the electrical impulse in the brain to “do” something and the moment of apparent “choice.” And in every instance, there is a 5 to 7-second delay (I’ve forgotten exactly which) between the time an impulse to the brain is received and the moment the button is pushed. In other words, an impulse leading to a “decision” that a person “thinks” they are making is triggered seconds before the person “thinks” they are making the decision. Thus, there is no separate entity making a “choice.” There is only an impulse and then the move to do whatever the impulse triggers one to do, with no separate entity in between.
Rick Archer: Yeah. In other words, we’re not aware of the impulse when it first occurs. But then, after a few seconds we “do” the thing that we think we have “chosen” to do, but actually, there was no “choice.”
JC Tefft: Yes. The ancients called it “usurping the power.” I call it the illusion of separateness because there is no separate entity usurping power. The egoic center is built around concepts of Mind and concepts have no power unto themselves. The ego, at its’ core, is just an illusion of Mind. And the illusion has no power. There’s no middleman “choosing” anything. There’s simply the impulse and then the movement to “do” whatever, that’s all.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Here’s the question again, Dan asks, “We think we’re the doer. But it’s all beyond our control and in God’s control. Is it true that our ego believes we have control, but in reality, our lives are already planned out and we just witness the set plan unfold?
JC Tefft: Let’s not go into the “planned out” part just yet but stay with the first part of the question about “egoic control.”
Rick Archer: Okay.
JC Tefft: The question itself suggests a sense of duality, with “God” being separate from “me” and “me” being separate from an impulse sent from “God,” as if there is someone separate from “God” making a choice. Is there a separate entity making a choice or is “God,” as a separate entity, making the choice and then sending an impulse that affects “me,” as a separate entity, separate from “God?”
Actually, neither of these scenarios is true because in Truth there’s no duality. There’s no “God” over there separate from “me” over here. There’s simply an impulse that arises out of the universe as a whole. And in this case, the impulse occurs, let’s say, in the body/mind/organism we call “me.” Then a moment of time passes, which scientists say is about five seconds before the Mind “sees” the thought or interprets the thought. And after “seeing” the thought the ego steps in and says, “I” decided to do that. And from then on it seems that “I” am the “doer” or “I” am following an impulse or “I” decided to do that or “I” did that, as if an egoic entity exists that makes decisions when the entire scenario is inaccurate and untrue. No one decided to do anything. In fact, there is no one that exists that can decide. The existence of a decision-maker is an illusion of Mind because in every case, the impulse occurs first. It never occurs after a so-called egoic decision is made to do whatever. There are no separate entities “deciding” to “do” anything at all.
Rick Archer: So, even if you think “I” am going to make a fourth video, and it’s going to be all about such and such, and you sit down and start planning it out – what you’re saying is that if you have a sense that there’s a separate you doing all that and having this great idea, that it’s a mistaken notion. That really, it’s just the universe doing it using the so-called “you” as an instrument to do the work.
JC Tefft: Yes. Pretty much, but even absent the idea of a separate “instrument.” This was stated more efficiently and beautifully by someone I read recently, saying something like, “If there appears to be a choice, then there is no Clarity.” Or “In the presence of Clarity, there is no choice.” So, it’s all about Clarity. And what I can also say to Dan is, in my case…
Rick Archer: Actually, Dan forwarded the question. The question itself was sent by somebody named Gordon.
JC Tefft: Okay…. So, in my case, for example, there was a part of me that still thought “I” was writing a book. So, when I wrote about free will and choice in that book, I wrote that we have a modicum of free will and therefore choice. As if we can choose the good part or the greater part – that kind of thing. And yet I know now that that’s not true. And the “knowing” that this is untrue occurred as Clarity came.
In other words, at some point when I was producing the videos and writing about free will and choice – the notion of free will and choice literally dropped away, just like that. And in that moment, there was the realization that there’s nobody here “choosing” to write anything. In that moment, the “I” entity, or the illusion of the “I” entity that I thought was in the middle of what’s going on, dropped away. And it happened naturally, spontaneously. It wasn’t something that was sought or that I thought my way through. That’s how Clarity occurs.
Rick Archer: So, let me throw a few things at you. This whole topic interests me and I have debates with friends about this. In fact, I’m going to discuss this with Adyashanti and Susanne Marie in October – about the falling away of the sense of a personal self. And, you know, I’m kind of the control group here because I feel like I still have one – a sense of self. (Laughter) If you jabbed me in the leg with an ice pack, for instance – that’s kind of a gruesome image – but, wow, there’s a “me” here that really doesn’t like that. There’s a “me” here who reacts to that. It’s not like some guy in China suddenly cries out in pain. It’s a localized experience that is unpleasant.
And – one more thing before I let you respond. In the course of speaking the last few minutes, you’ve used the word universe. You’ve acknowledged there is a universe – it could be argued metaphysically that there actually isn’t a universe – that nothing ever manifested, nothing ever happened…
JC Tefft: … I would say, there isn’t a universe beyond Mind. Mind is what interprets the universe as the universe – conceptually speaking. So, when you’re talking about what’s beyond Mind, then you’re also talking about what’s beyond the universe.
Rick Archer: So, we’re going to have to talk about what we mean by Mind. But for now, what I’m asking is; if we acknowledge that there is a universe, then there’s all kinds of things in that universe. There’s a body, for instance, that has eyes and a nose and senses and so forth. And if there’s that, then why can’t there also be subtle components, such as the sense of sight and the sense of hearing and so on – they call them Andrea’s in Sanskrit – the subtler aspects of the physical senses? And if there’s that, then why can’t there also be the perceiver, the knower, the Jeeva, as they call it in Sanskrit; a sense of a personal self?
And you argue in your video that there’s no reincarnation because that would imply that there’s someone that actually could go from body to body. And yet there’s abundant evidence about reincarnation, all kinds of interesting things and nearly all the traditional scriptures talk about it. Yet, in the same breath, I can acknowledge and agree that ultimately, in considering any of these things – universe, body, sense of self, and so on – and boil them down to their ultimate essence, they don’t exist in any manifest sense. They’re just an appearance. But if, for the sake of practical living, we acknowledge that appearance, then why should one thing not exist, but all these other things still exist in a conditional way. In Sanskrit, this is called Mithya, which means, dependent reality. And an example of this is that a pot is really only clay, so there is no pot, but the clay has taken the apparent shape of a pot and as a pot, it serves certain practical functions. But in the same breath, there is no pot, there is only clay. So go ahead.
JC Tefft: (Laughter) The pass is thrown to me?
Rick Archer: (Laughter) Yeah, the ball is in your court.
JC Tefft: Well, what helped me understand this, in all its complexities – which you described very nicely, in all its complexities – is when I realized that everything, meaning EVERY THING – all phenomena, every movement of Life that is seen or conceived as a “thing,” an object or force in space and time, from the broad universe on down to you and me as bodies in this universe and the atoms that make us so – is INTERPRETED, 100 percent, into concepts of Mind by Mind Itself. That’s essentially what Mind is, what Mind does. It perceives and conceives objects and forces in the universe and gives them a name. It reveals an appearance as an object or a force that is interpreted as an object or force accordingly, conceptually by Mind. That’s what Mind does.
Rick Archer: Capital M universal Mind or individual mind?
JC Tefft: Yes, capital M universal Mind. There’s no such thing as an individual mind, lower case “m.” Just as there’s no such thing as an individual entity, apart from the Whole.
This was realized in “me” when reading about the physics and biology of the universe: that the brain is not separate from the Whole, as if it’s capable of doing its own thing, separate from the universe as a Whole. Just like the heart isn’t separate, or the lungs – nothing is separate from the Whole. The heart beats and there’s no ego in charge of beating the heart. There’s no egoic entity telling the heart when to beat or how fast to beat. There’s no egoic entity that regulates breathing, there’s just breathing occurring Now. When you sleep you continue to breathe. It’s the same for the human brain. There’s no ego that regulates the brain, telling the brain what to think or do. The brain is simply a physical, biological extension of the field. And the field applies to all human expressions.
It’s the same for the human body/mind/organism in its entirety. Each human expression is a gross manifestation of the field. The gross manifestation is the part we see, as interpreted by Mind. But in truth, the human body is a confluence of uncountable fields, of unseen vibratory energy, expressing Now that encompasses the embodiment, in its entirety, that we call Rick and the embodiment, in its entirety, we call JC, that can disappear in an instant – or not – according to the Will of the universe. So also, the brain is an expression of the field that expresses universally throughout all humanity.
So, when you say there’s an entity somewhere, anywhere, that’s separate from the whole, the fact is, there’s no such thing as an entity living here now, just as there’s no such thing as an entity living in another dimension in a hereafter because it’s ALL an illusion of Mind brought about by the illusion of separateness, which is how Mind works. Most nondual teachers, including Krishnamurti, declare in one way or another that there’s no such thing as a separate entity, separate from the whole, including the physical body that we “see,” as interpreted of Mind. The body is simply the gross aspect of Life-Energy expressing Now that the Mind interprets separately as “you” and “me.”
The Buddha put it succinctly this way: “Life is movement, and movement is Life.” So, the embodiments of Rick and JC occurring Now is brought about by means of uncountable vortexes of spiraling Energy expressing Now as Rick and JC – that’s all. And when the movement dies, so also Rick and JC cease to “BE.” Here today, gone tomorrow, one might say. In this exact same manner, Life expresses as animals, as plants, as planets and stars. But unlike humans, in whom the sense of separateness appears, when an animal feels pain, it doesn’t identify with pain and call it “mine.” It doesn’t give it a name or go to the doctor to help the pain go away. The animal screams or runs away, perhaps, but only because the pain dictates that this be so, and not because the animal thinks the pain is theirs and no one else’s. They don’t think of it as their pain at all. It’s just pain occurring Now, and they react accordingly.
When there’s a disassociation with the idea that pain is personal; when there’s a lack of egoic identification with pain, as it appears, there’s no longer an ego experiencing pain anymore. There’s pain, but it’s not “my” pain. It’s just the pain of the universe that happens to be expressing through this body/mind/organism called “JC” right now – that’s all. We could call this “liberation” from the sense of self-centered pain.
Rick Archer: I don’t know. When my dog feels pain, he’s not quite so philosophical about it. It’s like, he makes a fuss. It bothers him and he tries to get away from it.
JC Tefft: Yes. You’re describing a spontaneous response to pain. So, when suffering ends, as the Buddha put it, it doesn’t mean that pain ends. It means that the sense of personal suffering ends. It means I no longer identify with pain when it occurs.
The same reality applies to reincarnation. To identify with the notion of reincarnation, which is a concept of Mind, requires ongoing identification with an egoic, self-centered entity, rooted in the sense of separateness, that reincarnates from one form to another and back again, right? This egoically centered self in this life now, which we acknowledge is, in fact, an illusion of Mind, somehow continues to live as a separate self, which is likewise an illusion of Mind, in another life somewhere else. The whole business, which, as you say, has been with us since ancient times, is the ego’s way of fooling you into thinking you’re going to live forever – until at some point, you’re no longer fooled.
But even logically one can argue the point, because if the ego is an illusion of Mind in this life now, it’s an illusion of Mind forevermore – until it isn’t. So, for the notion of reincarnation to end, the illusion of separateness must end as well. That’s all reincarnation is – a construct of Mind and nothing more, that needs to come to an end, which is to say, Clarity on this matter must occur for the notion of reincarnation to end – not in a life hereafter, but in this life now, which is the only Life that is.
Rick Archer: In other words, maybe you’re saying that it’s not that there isn’t such a thing as reincarnation, but the illusory sense of self takes on other bodies until it gets it that ultimately there is no individual self and then, as the tradition says, you stop reincarnating when you get that?
JC Tefft: No. I’m saying there’s no such thing as reincarnation at all. It’s nothing more than a construct of Mind that ends when the sense of separateness ends.
Rick Archer: Well, you’re kind of flying in the face of Hinduism and Buddhism there.
JC Tefft: A lot of things said today fly in the face of a lot of things said in ancient times. Right? Biblical scripture is a great example. There’s much that is written in the Bible that has nothing to do with much of anything today, really. It’s just ancient, so it’s been around for a while, that’s all. Just because it was written two or three thousand years ago doesn’t mean it’s somehow more insightful than what we understand today or realize Now to be so.
Rick Archer: Although it has stood the test of time, which may or may not be a good thing.
JC Tefft: Remember, it’s just language. And what was written in those days was not written by Jesus, for instance. He didn’t write the gospel according to Jesus. The Buddha never wrote anything. The writings in ancient texts were written by what we might call lesser lights, most often decades after the fact according to stories passed down through time in an era when myths and legends ruled the day. Most of the authors never even met Jesus or heard him speak. So, they didn’t present the teaching as Jesus presented the teaching. They presented it as best they understood it at the time, within the context of the culture in which they lived. So, their understanding was not up to par, to be blunt about it. But because they were the first to write it down, they’re given an extra degree of credibility that they don’t actually deserve.
So, let’s forget about what the ancients wrote about reincarnation, let’s say, and look at how we might see or understand reincarnation now. This is an understanding that we can come to now, is it not? In fact, we must come to it NOW if it is to be understood at all. Right? We can’t rely on others to understand it for us then or Now. That’s a requirement, in fact. Nothing ever written by someone else is the “answer” to anything. It must be realized NOW in you or in me or it’s not realized at all. So, that’s what we’re talking about here. There’s no need to justify what someone else wrote. There’s only a need to realize and understand the Truth of it within ourselves.
And because we’re not going to inquire into this for the rest of the interview, I’m just flat out saying, there’s no such thing as reincarnation simply because there’s no such thing as any separate entity anywhere in the universe, period, whether it be in this life or some other life. All that stuff is nothing more than a concept of Mind about reincarnation or about a future life or whatever, it’s all concept, no matter how subtle or sublime or beautiful or uplifting or inspirational or hopeful – you name it – it’s all concepts of Mind – all of it.
When one Awakens, and the sense of egoic separateness collapses, then there’s Clarity in this regard. There’s a realization that all phenomena is limited to concepts, as interpreted of Mind. So, what we’re talking about or pointing to here is that which is beyond concept, beyond Mind or “Other” than Mind. We’re not trying to explain one concept versus another concept or trying to say this concept is correct, but that concept is incorrect. We’re simply saying that all concepts are born of Mind.
Rick Archer: In other words, there’s no JC Tefft, there’s no Rick Archer. Those are just concepts that are illusions of Mind.
JC Tefft: Well, not quite. I remember reading one fellow who was saying that if you turned around and no longer saw what was behind you then that was as if whatever was behind you wasn’t there anymore in your consciousness, as if it no longer existed because it was no longer conceived in your mind’s eye. So, for the fun of it, I went down and stood in front of our fireplace and turned around, so it was behind me and, of course, it was no longer in my view, so in a way, it was as if the fireplace was no longer there. Yet the fireplace was still there in the mind’s eye, consciously speaking. And someone else who was looking in the direction of the fireplace could also see it was still there, so the fireplace was still in existence, so to speak. Then suddenly I realized it’s not that the fireplace no longer appears in the universe as a fireplace. It’s that the Mind is what interprets it to be a fireplace, whether we’re looking at it or not. The appearance remains a fireplace, but no one is going to be conscious of its existence all the time.
Moreover, if one looked deeper into the structure of the fireplace one would discover that the fireplace is actually a bunch of atoms and molecules, which are combinations of vortices of energy. Then again, one might realize that absent a conceptualized interpretation of Mind that “sees” and names the movement of energy as a fireplace, the fireplace does not consciously exist absent Mind in play. It’s only Mind that interprets it as such. Beyond Mind, Awareness is all that is.
You know, people who go through what I call grand mal Awakenings, like Eckhart Tolle, for instance, and for them the whole world is obliterated in that moment. And in the absence of a sense of the world, they ultimately discover that Pure Awareness is that which is Aware of all phenomena, whether it be the universe or the world. And awareness is changeless and formless and eternal, but not phenomena. Phenomena come and go, and are in constant flux. We live, we die – it’s all just the Movement of Life expressing Now, just as the Buddha taught: “Life is movement and movement is Life.” If it’s not in movement, then it’s not Life. So, Pure Awareness, of Itself, in the context of Consciousness, is not Life either. It’s simply Awareness of the movement of Life.
So, this realization occurred in JC – that Mind interprets phenomena conceptually, and that which is other than Mind, which is Pure Awareness, is non-phenomenal and therefore non-dual – which means that all phenomena appear per interpretations of Mind only, but that which is changeless and formless is not phenomena but is that which is Aware of phenomena, therefore beyond phenomena or beyond Mind or Other than Mind, as Krishnamurti sometimes said. And Awakening occurs when egoic identification with phenomena, as conceived of Mind, collapses, and falls away. One then realizes that Absolute Truth encompasses phenomena and that which is Aware of phenomena. Nothing exists outside of that ONE whole Reality. Nor is anything separate from that ONE whole Reality. Thus, All is ONE. Nothing is separate from the One.
Rick Archer: Okay, I’m good with that. And there are all sorts of traditional expressions of that in the Upanishad, which you also quote in your work. The point I was trying to make, which I don’t think we’ve quite resolved, is that if we regard the universe as an expression of Mind or as a concept in Mind – cosmic Mind – then we’re saying or acknowledging that there is, at least provisionally or conditionally, an actual universe. And if that’s so, then that doesn’t put any limits on what phenomena the universe can contain. If it contains gross physical bodies, then it can contain subtle bodies, and subtle bodies can transmigrate. And if it contains flesh and blood life forms, then it can contain subtle life forms, such as angels and devas and all that stuff – subtle realms. And yes, ultimately, they can all be boiled down to the Absolute or Oneness and we can argue that they don’t exist because everything is ultimately nothing other than that. But in a conditional sense, we can also accept them as changing phenomena that is all part of the whole, cosmic play.
JC Tefft: Yes, but I’m pointing to that which is beyond Mind. From the standpoint of that which is beyond, it doesn’t really make a difference whether we’re talking about the gross physical plane or subtler planes or other dimensions – they just get more and more refined in terms of concepts of Mind. Regardless of the subtlety, as you say, it’s all part of the universe, right? The problem is that we too often differentiate between gross concepts and subtler, more refined concepts as if somehow, subtler concepts are more profound or a purer way of seeing things – as if the subtler the concept, the purer or more enlightened is the insight.
But I say, it’s all Mind or it’s all as interpreted of Mind. There’s no such thing as a purer or more refined concept versus a less pure or less refined concept of Mind. Whether it be dimensions, as interpreted of Mind, or afterlife, as interpreted of Mind, or reincarnation, as interpreted of Mind – it’s all in the realm of concepts of Mind. Regardless of the subtlety of the concept, therefore, or whether it’s considered somehow more spiritual or more enlightened or whatever, none of them point to or are the same as Awakening unto the Reality of Pure Conscious Awareness.
Such concepts only point to evermore concepts of Mind – to other realms, other images, you name it – seeking peace or love or acceptance – whatever. That’s the central problem of world religions. They merely point to evermore concepts of Mind that you should become or aspire to attain. We hope to go to heaven after we die, so if we believe this or practice that we’ll continue living in another realm when we die. And better yet, we can “choose” to come back into this realm later by reincarnating into another being here on planet Earth and work out more problems then.
I say that this entire scenario is a concoction of egoic Mind. From egoic Mind’s point of view, it’s always about becoming something other than what we already are – becoming enlightened, becoming saintly, reincarnating from here to there, becoming this, not becoming that – all of which is nothing more than egoic identification with evermore concepts of Mind wanting to become something other than what we already are. Enlightened living in this world Now is not forged out of the content of Mind.
Rick Archer: I would argue that if you want to become something, you can set it up that way and will end up being reborn in some subtle realm and live there for a long time and then come back or whatever. But that doesn’t mean you’ve grasped the ultimate reality or that’s ultimately what you should shoot for.
JC Tefft: Well, I wouldn’t say anyone can “do” any of that or “shoot for” any of that….
Rick Archer: Yeah, I know. I didn’t word it very well.
JC Tefft: Someone wrote me recently, for instance, about the videos. She had just watched the last one – the fourth one – and said that after watching the video she realized that – I’m paraphrasing here – what she thought she believed were in fact nothing more than subtle attachments to mental constructs of Mind that began to drop away – subtle attachments that had remained in play. So, the sooner one realizes that it’s all in the Mind, the sooner one ceases to egoically identify with the many and varied aspects of Mind that are always in play. And it ends the argument or the illusion about whether I need to become something or not – to live another life or whatever. If you want to hold to that belief, go ahead, but it doesn’t have anything to do with what’s ultimately being pointed to here.
Rick Archer: Well, I would say you can acknowledge the mechanics of the universe, subtle and gross, and so forth, without identifying with it. You can acknowledge that maybe it works in the ways I’ve been alluding to, with other realms and other lives and all that stuff. But it doesn’t mean you necessarily identify with that or are caught up in the illusion of it.
There’s a story about Shankara – I’ve told this before – who is considered by most people to be the founder of non-duality. He went to visit a king and the king wanted to put him to the test. So, as Shankara approached the palace, the king let loose a wild elephant. And the elephant ran towards Shankara, so he scampered up a tree to escape the elephant. And the king said, “Aha, you failed the test. If everything is an illusion, why did you bother climbing the tree? And Shanker responded, “The illusory elephant chased the illusory me up the illusory tree.” So, if we’re going to function in the world – and obviously even to make a statement like that, there’s all sorts of words that can trip you up, like “we” and “function” and “world” – we can cut to the heart of all those words and continue to avoid what those words represent.
JC Tefft: Yes, I get your meaning. It’s not possible to communicate verbally and avoid words or what words represent. I’m simply saying that all words represent or point to concepts of Mind, that’s all.
Rick Archer: Right. If we are to live as human beings, then in a sense we’re making a concession with Maya. This is referred to as Leisha Vidya in Vedantic lore, which means faint remains of ignorance. There’s a sort of concession with the faint remains of the unreal in order to have a functioning existence.
JC Tefft: It’s sort of like – following a substantial Awakening, such as with Jesus, when he was driven into the “wilderness” by the Spirit. There was still some left-over dross that needed to be worked out in him. It’s not like it all disappears in an instant.
I remember reading about Eckhart Tolle, for instance, after he had his grand mal Awakening that it was five years before he began to teach. For a long time, he didn’t quite know or understand what had just occurred. There’s a lot of dross that remains in the field. Some conditioned reflexes, so to speak, don’t fully disappear in an instant – stuff that’s been expressing in the human energy field for thousands of years. There’s a strength of conditioning there that doesn’t necessarily let go.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And the Buddha continued to meditate all his life.
So, here’s a question that came in and I think it pertains to everything we’re saying. This is from Dan in London. Following on the previous question asked by Gordon regarding who is really the doer? “Interesting point about the impulse occurs first, which I completely understand. I know science has proven that instruments can see that neurons fire before the thought to do the action arises. However, is it also not a form of yoga to avoid acting on impulses. I think this is actually more complex than this. The fact that neurons fire before the thought does not really prove anything because impulses can also be avoided. And one can be mindful of thoughts. So, we’re talking about discrimination here. I do think that we have no choice regarding the actions we perform, and I have an intuition that I am not the doer, but I don’t think that this actually proves that point. What are your thoughts? Apologies if this sounds argumentative. Perhaps I misunderstood your point.”
JC Tefft: No, no, Dan. No apologies necessary. This is a very good question. And I must admit I haven’t really given much attention to this precise inquiry, but it’s a valid inquiry.
Most of us go through life experiencing constant motion, as interpreted of Mind. It seems that thoughts just keep cropping up all the time, such that people often ask, “How can I stop thoughts from arising?” The Mind seems to be active all the time – vibrantly, nonstop – especially in today’s world with all the stimuli. But one of the problems in understanding how this all works is that there’s no separate entity that can stop anything from occurring or happening, least of all Mind. Mind simply interprets an impulse. It can’t stop an impulse. Mind has no power unto itself, as if it were separate from the impulse.
So, when impulses arise or phenomena appear, especially in high stimulus moments, why is there not necessarily a reaction or why is it not necessarily acted upon? A mental image or an emotion appears, and one is aware of this, but no action fundamentally occurs. Why not?
Well, in an egoically centered, highly charged environment there’s a tendency in the respective human energy field to flit about from one moment to the next, one impulse to the next, as one identifies with this or that impulse, or resists or denies or strikes out in reaction to the impulse. Whereas, if one is resting in the stillness or peace of the moment, one might say, the field is less likely to be reactionary or responsive to such impulses. There’s less of a tendency to let fly or take the emotional ride. Yet, if something needs to be moved upon, regardless of the stillness embodied in the human energy field, then that movement can arise, appear, and express as intended, according to the impulse appearing in the moment, absent ego involved. In such cases, there’s simply pure action, based on the impulse at hand. But there’s no egoic identification process occurring that makes it seem as though an egoically centered “me” is making a choice, one way or another.
So, the more one rests, as Dan put it, in the yoga of stillness, so-to-speak – unidentified with or unattached to the content of Mind, as such arises, then even subtler impulses to act or express in the moment, one way or another, are less likely to either occur or express. And if subtle impulses do arise, there’s much less strength or power in the impulse, allowing it to die on the vine, so to speak. So, one is simply less reactionary in the moment to impulses arising, as interpreted of Mind. Moreover, when in a meditative state, fewer impulses, as interpreted of Mind, are likely to occur.
So, as Dan suggests, it seems it’s a matter of degree. How deeply rooted is the egoically centered Mind in any given human energy field in any given moment of time? The freer one is from attachments to egoic self, the less likely are impulses, as well as reactions to impulses, to occur. And when impulses do occur in a field that is still, they are more likely to express freely, as intended, than to be modified, suppressed, denied, or limited based on interpretations of Mind from egoically centered points of view. The universe lives itself through the respective human energy field naturally and spontaneously, thus expresses more freely, than when an impulse is filtered through an egoically centered Mind and/or field. There’s less of an illusionary “me” in the way. There is only the universe expressing Now – freely and spontaneously – as THAT, whatever THAT might be.
Rick Archer: Good point. I mean, we’re talking about whether we are the “doer” or not the “doer.” If you’re not the doer, then who is the doer? The doer is Cosmic Intelligence if you want to put it that way. And Cosmic Intelligence is not bound by the conditioning of egoic Mind. Therefore, it responds more appropriately, more evolutionarily, if that’s a word we can use here?
JC Tefft: Yes. That seems to be an appropriate word. Cosmic Intelligence responds or expresses in the way it wants to respond or express, so to speak. The closer one is to just being in the moment, the more one is living in the Now according to what is actually so. Life expresses and continues to express; it doesn’t cease expressing. It’s just expressing naturally, spontaneously. It’s like when Jesus was moved at some point to go to Jerusalem. He knew ahead of time, or perhaps better said, there was a “knowing” in him that revealed he would clearly be walking to his death, at least he alluded to it in that way. But he also knew that for whatever reason the universe (or God, to use his word) wanted this to happen. So, he moved accordingly. Now, if the ego of Jesus had gotten involved, no doubt there would have been some resistance and he would have questioned the move, right? Saying, “I’m not so sure about this. Are you sure you want me to go to Jerusalem?” (Laughter)
Rick Archer: That sort of did happen, in the garden of Gethsemane.
JC Tefft: Right. That’s a wonderful story where he’s sort of wrestling with that a bit, like, really, are you sure? And then, I think it was after the third time around he settles down and he’s okay with it because it was dealt with directly – in himself. He didn’t avoid the issue or resist or deny, he allowed it to work itself out, according to the Will of the universe. And from that moment on, he was clear-minded on the issue at hand, which is another example of how Awakening is an ongoing process, even in the likes of Jesus of Nazareth.
Rick Archer: Okay, I think we covered that. Just one more analogy to throw in here, though, just for the heck of it.
If we think of thoughts as being like a river that starts out as a trickle and then gains momentum as it moves towards the ocean. And if we think of self-realization as being established at the source of that river, kind of like Gangotri, for instance, at the source of the Ganges River. Then if we were there at the Source, we could perceive the thought as it emerges. And it might be easy to redirect it in some way or to send it off or whatever. Whereas, if we’re way down in Calcutta, by the time the Ganges has gotten huge and massive, it’s too late to change the direction or course of the river. It’s like at full force in that moment. So, like that, if you’re not very well established at the Source, then you’re externally oriented, shall we say, and at the mercy of thoughts and impulses that arise. There’s very little discrimination or ability to act, as we were saying, in accordance with Cosmic Mind, and individual conditioning runs the show.
JC Tefft: Well, that might be a reasonable definition of ancient religion. Like Christianity, for instance, or any religion, for that matter, but we’re generally more familiar with Christianity in this part of the world. As you know, the church redefined, even rewrote ancient writings to conveniently fit their conceptually constructed, doctrinal beliefs and processes, and in so doing, they developed lines of thought as to what certain ancient teachings meant or were about. And then they put their lines of thought out into the public marketplace. And to get their point across, they imposed their system of belief onto others quite forcefully and required everyone to belong, to join in, and pay tithes. This still goes on today. But back then, they went so far as to say you could only get a favorable dispensation of God’s goodwill directly from the church, setting themselves up as judge, jury, and executioner in all matters considered religious. Beyond that, for more than a thousand years they didn’t allow anyone outside the priestly class access to the Latin Vulgate Bible. So, the general populace never actually knew what was in the Bible. They only knew what the fellow up in the podium dressed in his formal gowns told them it said and meant.
Eventually, however, the Bible gets published in different languages, and for the first time, the general public could read it for themselves. And sure enough, there was a lot in there that didn’t quite jive with what the Church had been telling them for more than a thousand years. So, long story short, the teachings of the Church are, metaphorically speaking, like the river. And by the time all that false narrative reached downstream – the conceptual barrage of all that stuff – a degree of force had been built up in those weighty, mental constructs of Mind, such that they almost had a life of their own. They became firmly embedded in the human psyche even before one was born. So, now there’s a need to rise above all that morass. When you’re young, it’s not as much of a problem. But before long, that indoctrination more easily comes into play, and the longer it’s allowed to take hold, the more difficult it is to shed away.
I think there’s something in the Bible, or perhaps it’s something my father said – probably that – that if Jesus had all the children in his Presence for an extended period – say for one generation – there would be a whole new pattern established in the field because the children would not be brainwashed with all that cultural conditioning. Cultural conditioning can be tenacious stuff that resides in all our fields to one degree or another, like that downstream force that you’re alluding to in your story. And it’s certain that the less one is identified to the downstream stuff, the freer and more open one is to Life expressing in the ever-present Now.
Rick Archer: Freedom and flexibility. Yeah, but I was talking about this in terms of individual conditioning, and you put it in terms of societal conditioning. But I think it’s the same dynamic either way.
JC Tefft: Yes, it’s the same whether you speak of it in the context of a person or of a society. It’s all conditioning. And it all has to do with identification with the content of Mind – or not.
Rick Archer: So, let’s ask another question that just came in. This is Gloria from Asheboro, North Carolina: “Words are important. In listening and reading some of your thoughts. I noticed that there are times when you use mind and consciousness interchangeably. Personally, I experience these two terms as very separate. I use the term mind to describe experiences, beliefs, opinions, cultural conditioning, etc. that I have downloaded over my 79 years, including my world identity ego. Consciousness is my awareness of the outside world and awareness of my inside world. Only my conscious awareness can reprogram my mind. I would appreciate your thoughts.”
JC Tefft: Forgive me if I make it seem as if the words “Mind” and “Consciousness” point to identical realities. Perhaps I can clarify by saying that I generally use the word Consciousness to point to the overall awareness of the movement of Life that arises or appears Now, in its totality, including the content of Mind. Whereas, the functionality of Mind is to interpret, if you will, that which arises into conceptualized images or parts of which Awareness is aware – the two acting as One, so to speak – but not exactly in the same way. At least that’s a conceptualized version of what I understand those two words to mean.
In the videos, this is conceptually depicted in its entirety using David Bohm’s intriguing theory….
Rick Archer: … the Implicit, Explicit order.
JC Tefft: … Yes, the Implicate and the Explicate. The Explicate, in David’s theory, is the energized expression of Life, the movement of Life, as the Buddha put it, that appears in Awareness. And the Implicate is the ground-state of Consciousness out of which all “things” arise and is also that which is Aware of the explicate, as “things” arise. And that which arises is energized phenomena that is, in the human experience, perceived and conceived and named of Mind as energized phenomena, whereas that which is Aware is that which observes that which appears, one might say – again, the two acting as One. And Consciousness, in its totality, is Pure, one might say – as in “Pure Consciousness” – when the illusion of separateness brought about by means of egoic identification with that which appears is not in play.
That’s pretty much the gist of how I see it or how I define the meaning of those words.
Rick Archer: And it’s terminology we’re talking about here. Because other people might use the word consciousness the way you’re using the word awareness, so we’re just trying to get your take on your use of these terms.
JC Tefft: Okay – let’s give it one more go to see if I can express this more clearly.
Mind is that which interprets the explicate conceptually – interprets the movement of Energy and of Life in conceptual terms. And the human Mind then names it, calling this movement such and such and another movement something else. This is the fundamental distinction between animal consciousness and human consciousness. The human mind conceptualizes such movements and names the various movements, which then become knowledge of past, present, and future. Concepts thus become “things” unto themselves. Animals, on the other hand – generally speaking – do not embody within them the capacity to conceptualize, therefore animals experience the present moment, and then it’s gone – without holding to a concept after the fact, so to speak. So, there’s little, if any, egoic identification with the content of Mind within animals. Consequently, animals are generally more spontaneous in the moment than most humans.
So, Mind acts as an interpreter, one might say, that converts energy arising Now into concepts that are “seen” as if separate from one another when in Truth they are not. And Consciousness, overall, in its entirety, includes the functioning of Mind and that which is Aware of that which appears in the explicate order of things that are conceived of Mind – in the human experience, at least.
I guess that’s the best I can express it right now.
Rick Archer: Okay, I hope that helps.
We might as well throw in another question here, and then we’ll move on. This is Prithvi from Boston: she says, “Hi, JC. You mentioned that Krishnamurti had a deep influence on you. How would you summarize your seeing of his core teaching that there is no observer? How does the illusion of the observer come into being?” (Rick – I guess we’ve already discussed the first part, but this next part we haven’t.) (Prithvi – “How does the illusion of the observer come into being in the first place? How is it related to thoughts and the origin of thoughts?”
JC Tefft: Wow! These are all good questions.
I’m not sure I can say exactly “how” the illusion of a separate observer comes into being, other than perhaps by using the example of a newborn child to illustrate the developmental process of the sense of separateness. Initially, when a newborn first looks out onto the world – perceives the world – the conceptualization process is not yet well-developed. So, no naming takes place. A newborn or young child hears a sound, for instance, but doesn’t name it, doesn’t conceive of it in any particular way. There might be a response that occurs based on a perception of the sound in the moment. But in a newborn, this is simply a spontaneous response based on pure perception occurring Now, that’s all.
But then, as a child matures, society in general and parents in particular, coupled with emerging capacities inbuilt in a child, systematically enculturate a youngster, as he or she grows into adulthood, to identify with the world, as conceived of Mind. So, as a child matures, the process of interpreting the phenomenal universe in conceptual terms, together with the practice of naming and determining what seems good, bad, or indifferent from an egoically centered, socially acceptable point of view, progressively takes hold. This occurs quite naturally, as part of the human experience, as one matures. Consequently, it’s the evolution of the identification process, as constructed of Mind, that brings about the illusion of separateness in humankind – the illusion that “you” are separate from “me” and from the world “out there” and the world “in here” – that creates the dualistic sense that the observer is separate from the observed.
But, as one matures into adulthood, there can be an ending to this process, if and when Awakenings occur, but especially as liberation or freedom from the known ensues, revealing that the egoic sense of separateness is an illusion of Mind created by the illusion of separateness that interprets the movement of the Energy of Life in conceptual terms. In such instances, mental constructs of Mind are “Realized” or shown to be false and not who “I” truly AM. And the false sense of separation between the observer and the observed is no more.
Rick Archer: And there’s a fine point worth making here. It’s not that concepts and thoughts aren’t useful. It’s just that the identification with them isn’t good. Because it’s useful to know that this is my bicycle, and this is my mother and this is my spinach, and so forth….
JC Tefft: Yes … concepts are useful for daily living. The problem occurs when we identify with concepts, images, and thoughts to the exclusion of Truth.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve interviewed some people who clearly remembered that as a child; that they were basically in a state of unity, an enlightened kind of state. But at a certain age, they sensed that this unified state seemed to fade and was beginning to be lost, and it was quite painful. Then, after going through their teenage years and into their early 20s, the light returned to a degree, and they realized, whoa, I better pay attention to this. And they began to practice yoga or whatever and the sense of unity began to return. But most people don’t experience that, especially at such a young age, and they mostly go through life in a state of confusion, more or less. But some blessed souls enter the world in a rather clear state, which is a blessing I didn’t have… (Laughter)
JC Tefft: No, me either. I don’t remember much of anything earlier than five or six years old. (Laughter)
Rick Archer: All right! So, we’ve been exploring this and that somewhat randomly and taking questions from others, but we have your whole body of work that we haven’t fully addressed in a systematic way. We obviously don’t have hours to do that, but perhaps you could give people an overview of what’s in your book and in your videos, and maybe we’ll have some discussions around some of the points you bring up, as we go along?
JC Tefft: Okay. Well, in general, I can talk about those two projects in broad terms.
I’ll start by saying that the book was five years in the making, and throughout the process, the work was quite intense because I was dealing with a lot of material. And, as I indicated previously, the motivation to write the book began with my father, when he gave those twelve lessons outlining the evolution of Conscious Awareness, as revealed in biblical lore – from the book of Genesis up to and through the teachings of Jesus. He basically wove an interconnecting thread through pertinent stories and teachings in the Bible that revealed a developing, unfolding, ever-expanding Conscious Awareness in humankind – skipping the narratives of little consequence, while highlighting significant milestones along the way. So, that’s fundamentally what the book, “The Christ is NOT a Person,” is about.
But while writing the book, because I had no interest in promoting western culture or Christianity or the Bible as the book of “Truth” versus other ancient works that appeared about the same time, it was made clear early on that I should include writings from the Bhagavad Gita, the Upanishads, the Tao Te Ching and other similar works, as well, to illustrate that when considered together, as a whole, they essentially point to the same reality – the evolution and flowering of Conscious Awareness in humankind through time.
And as I worked along, reading through numerous ancient works, together with the Bible, which remained the focus of the work, it became ever more clear that the essential teaching everywhere was the same. Naturally, they emerged from different cultures, using different words and images to express the unfolding, yet they all pointed to the same, fundamental Truth. So, it was purposely made into an inclusive, rather than an exclusive work; one that did not pit one culture or practice or religion against another, but instead brought it all together to illustrate that in Truth, at a more profound level, there is fundamentally only one teaching that points to the same, underlying Reality that began to arise out of different cultures, speaking different languages throughout the world about five thousand years ago, or so.
Rick Archer: The perennial philosophy.
JC Tefft: Yes, the perennial philosophy. But the book focuses exclusively on ancient teachings. It doesn’t consider contemporary teachings, such as non-duality and the like. Nor does it consider modern science – physics, biology, field theory, and the like. That was produced later in the form of videos. In the book, I attempted to peel back the layers of conceptualized, doctrinal teachings established in ancient times that pretended to “know” what the teachings of a few enlightened souls actually meant when, in fact, they did not understand.
Jesus, himself, had difficulty communicating to the general populace because, frankly, they weren’t prepared to receive a teaching such as his – especially in the “stiff-necked” culture of his time that tended to look outward, rather than inward for the Presence of their notion of God to appear. He spoke of this directly with his disciples, in fact, when he said, “I speak to them in parables, because hearing they do not hear, and seeing they do not see, nor do they understand,” or something to that effect. There wasn’t a ready audience to hear what he really had to say or would have said if he were speaking, for instance, to audiences today. So, I wanted to show Jesus’ teachings, as well as some of the Prophets and other stories, in a different light, which was another factor that motivated the writing of the book.
And a story I have always loved is the Creation story in the Book of Geneses, to which I dedicated two chapters. This ancient story, which actually is a combination of several, similar stories written by at least four different authors, including a redactor, over four centuries, is beautifully written with so many metaphorical references to the initial budding and flowering of conceptualized consciousness in humankind. But beyond this, the story also references the possibility for something more profound yet to come – from the unfolding of the “Tree of Knowledge,” which is the development of the conceptual Mind in humankind, to the possibility of Awakening unto the “Tree of Life,” which is a Realization of the Wholeness of Life or the Oneness of Life, when not divided into parts by conceptual Mind.
Despite the ancient language and imagery used at the time, the various pointers are quite clear. They point to the ongoing flowering of something new, a new dispensation that later flowered in the likes of the Buddha, Lao Tse, Jesus, Paul, and numerous others, as Awakenings and liberation from the separate sense of self occur ever more frequently worldwide, even to today.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you point this out in your videos, as I recall, that today is a dawning of a new era in Conscious Awareness in humans. And that Jesus and Buddha and others of their ilk were like the forerunners of a new race. But now it’s really beginning to flower. Maybe we could talk about that a little bit.
JC Tefft: Well, you and I are talking about it now. Right? And you have a rather large audience that views your weekly interviews online. And you’ve interviewed hundreds of people. Right? And then there’s the Krishnamurti’s of the world and the Eckhart Tolle’s of the world that have huge followings. And Adyashanti and Rupert Spira and Tony Parsons and the list goes on. Add in all the websites dedicated to this work. It likely numbers in the millions worldwide who are drawn to these teachings often referred to these days as “non-dualistic” in nature. They represent a much larger audience than the Buddha or Jesus ever spoke to in their day. So, there it is….
Rick Archer: Right. Which was not the case 2000 years ago.
JC Tefft: No, not at all. I doubt that in his lifetime Jesus found anyone he could speak to openly, including his disciples. They only understand him to a limited degree.
The one fellow who ultimately did understand Jesus and his teachings in a direct way was the apostle Paul, who was not a disciple. He was just a guy who had a grand mal Awakening on his way to Damascus in which he unexpectedly “saw” or spontaneously Realized the Truth, and suddenly, oh my gosh, this guy Jesus isn’t who they say is. He’s not the devil incarnate. He’s actually an enlightened fellow. And from that moment on, Paul was a completely different fellow, too. And like Jesus, Paul went off into “the wilderness” – for about 13 years, in fact – during which time ever-greater Clarity ensued, to the point that he returned to Jerusalem to pick up the torch where Jesus left off, so to speak. So, Paul turned out to be the one, more so than Jesus’ disciples, to spread the word throughout the Mediterranean area during that time. But that’s only one other guy who understood Jesus to the core in that region of the world. Of course, there were a few lessor lights, but not many, to be sure. Most remained susceptible to legends and myths that are still with us today.
Rick Archer: It’s interesting that he got zapped like that because he was an anti-Jesus guy. And he was heading to Damascus to terrorize Jesus’ followers, so you wonder about that….
JC Tefft: …The universe in action, I guess you could say.
For whatever reason, I’ve always sensed an affinity with Paul. I’ve even pictured him to be about my size (laughter) and full of energy, you know. A non-stop guy who enthusiastically led his troops, believing he was doing what was right for the world. But, as it turned out, all that highly charged energy made him a good candidate to be zapped in that way. If he had been a laid-back sort of fellow, he likely would not have been a good candidate for such an Awakening to occur. It’s kind of like a lightning bolt that connects with that which attracts the energy, which to me sort of explains his dynamic Awakening.
Rick Archer: And just to throw a little bit of woo in here to keep it interesting. I believe that the universe is not just some amorphous field of intelligence and now it zaps Paul. There are hierarchies and agencies and impulses of intelligence governing everything. And there are those who perceive these things. But the whole notion of angels or various beings working on various levels of Creation, doing various things; personally, I don’t have a problem with that whatsoever, or with reconciling that with non-duality. It’s just part of the beauty and mystery and intricacy of how Creation functions.
The reason I bring this up is, in thinking about somebody like Paul, there was some intelligence or intelligent agents who recognized in Paul the capacity to do what he was destined to do, and were therefore responsible for Awakening him in that moment that led him to go on and do what he ended up doing. So, I’m kind of bugging you a bit here by going back to our previous debate about subtle realms and reincarnation and all that, saying, it seems to me, there’s no conflict between seeing the mechanics of the universe in that way, as well as ultimately being a pure, non-dual mass of Brahman.
JC Tefft: Well, allow me to woo back at you here.
Rick Archer: Okay. I see you one woo, and raise you two woos. (Laughter)
JC Tefft: (Laughter) Okay. Well, let me get my woo out first before you raise me one. The flaw in what you just presented – and forgive me for….
Rick Archer: …No, it’s okay. It’s a friendly debate.
JC Tefft: … Well, I’m not intending to argue with you, I’m just pointing out that IF there’s no such thing as a separate entity acting independently from the Whole in this life Now, because it’s an illusion of Mind, then there’s no such thing as a separate entity acting on its own volition in any other realm one might theorize to exist. So, when you say there are subtle beings living in other realms that are capable of making decisions or acting according to their own intelligence, it simply is not so. We just talked about how we don’t make egoically-centered decisions here now. Right? We only imagine that we have the capability of doing so, but it’s not actually true in the grand scheme of things. Truth Here in this Life Now is the same everywhere all at once in all circumstances at all times, whether it be in this realm or any other realm, as conceived of Mind. Clarity reveals this to be so. There’s no such thing as a separate entity making independent decisions anywhere in the universe in any realm, whether thought to be in this world or the next. The notion of separate entities is an illusion of Mind in all circumstances, no exceptions. There’s only ONE Life expressing, and that’s this Life – Here, Now.
Everything that arises in the universe arises out of ONE Source, not many, which the ancients called God, but what some refer to now as the ground state of Consciousness, because the phenomenal universe arises in Consciousness and nowhere else. And the ONE Source is the one and only Source, not one of multiple sources. So, there are no separate entities anywhere in any realm making independent decisions, independent from Source, as if deciding to “help” this or to “do” that. There simply is no separate “doing” going on in so-called higher realms, just as there’s no separate “doing” going on in this realm. Because the sense of separateness, whether in this realm or the next, is an illusion of Mind.
But we can take what you said about the “existence” (I don’t like using that word) or appearance of subtle beings or subtle realms and make it viable simply by saying that all expressions, whether they be gross material expressions or subtle ethereal expressions might appear and express, as long as we realize that, regardless of how subtle or sublime, the movement of Life, in its entirety, arises out of ONE Source that expresses the ONE Life, or the ONE overall movement of Life, not as separate, individual entities, but as the Whole movement of Life, just as the Buddha taught: “Life is movement and movement is Life” – period. There are no exceptions to this fact, not even for designated periods of time, such as, until one becomes enlightened one remains stuck in the world of time. The world of time is an illusion of Mind – that’s all – full stop, end of story.
Rick Archer: There’s nothing that exists that’s independent of the Whole.
JC Tefft: Correct! Just end it there. Don’t add anything to that statement.
Rick Archer: I totally agree with that. My finger is not independent of my body. My eye is not independent of my body. My ear is not independent of my body. All these are functions … or my organs of perception and actions, right?
JC Tefft: Yes, but they aren’t actually yours….
Rick Archer: Right. Right. But they’re the organs of perception and action of this mind/body mechanism. So, same with all beings, all animals. Right?
JC Tefft: Yes.
Rick Archer: People? Angels? Whatever? They are just sense organs of the Infinite.
JC Tefft: Yes.
Rick Archer: They don’t have any sort of autonomous existence, independent of the Infinite. They’re all just expressing Infinite, divine intelligence through their particular instrumentation. Like one giant, vast, wholeness of Consciousness expressing.
JC Tefft: Yes, to all that. That’s basically how I would say it.
Rick Archer: Good. That’s how I would say it, too. (Laughter)
JC Tefft: It’s like the initial Awakening that occurred in me we discussed earlier when, metaphorically speaking, the “hand of God” came down and a “voice” said, “It’s about time.” That “hand” and that “voice” did not emanate from a separate entity out there somewhere and come down to a separate entity named JC down here, to give JC a buck-up speech and a pat on the back or whatever. It was simply the universe expressing holistically by means of the movement of Life through vortices of energy occurring in that moment of time that was interpreted by Mind as the “Hand of God,” when in truth there is no such thing as the “Hand of God.” The idea of the “Hand of God” is an illusion of Mind.
Rick Archer: I agree. But, coming back at that, I could also say that an instrument used by the Divine sent a message, so-to-speak, by means of JC Tefft’s guardian angel, let’s say, if there is such a thing, who was acting as a sense organ or whatever, and that was Divine Intelligence’s way of influencing JC – to inspire him to realize that now is the time or whatever.
JC Tefft: And I’m saying, take the word “instrument” or the idea of a separate “entity” out of the equation and simply call it “the movement of Life” or more specifically in this case, an “impulse” apparently manifesting as “God’s hand” or “God’s voice” – emanating, arising, appearing – however you want to describe it – out of the ONE Source – Here, Now – then poof, gone. Because in no instance does the movement of Life emanate from a separate entity dwelling in a different realm, as if such an entity is primed and ready to go, so as soon as JC says, “I want to give my life to God,” this other entity lets JC know that “It’s about time” you did that. The movement of Life simply does not occur in this way – from one entity to another. And certainly not according to any one entity’s inherent volition.
Life expressing Now is a universal phenomenon that is holistic in nature, not individualistic in nature. One Source “speaking” through Creation, if you will, per the Intelligence of the universe, as a whole – never through separate entities, one to another. There are no separate entities anywhere in the universe taking distinct, self-generated action, just as there are no separate entities “deciding,” according to their own volition, to do this or not do that. There’s simply Life expressing, arising, appearing, disappearing – out of the ground state of Consciousness – that’s All. One Reality, not two or more.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I agree. But, at the same time, Source “speaks” through impulses, intelligent impulses similar to the way the ocean rises in waves. Holistically speaking, there’s nothing other than the ocean, but yet we see waves. In the same way, Divine Intelligence expresses through various forms and phenomenal impulses. It’s like the puppeteer’s hand is in the puppet, so the puppet does not have a separate volition, but still, we see puppets. There might be gross puppets and subtle puppets, powerful puppets and weak puppets, but in all cases, it’s just the divine expressing through all these various forms.
JC Tefft: In the Here and Now, constantly.
Rick Archer: Exactly.
JC Tefft: Yes. And as a side note, because I’m generally a writer and not a speaker, I became aware early on that what I write ends up “out there” in stone somewhere forevermore and I can’t take it back. So, I do the best I can when I write, to use appropriate words, or at least words that I feel are the best pointers – because words are never the actual, they simply point to the actual – to that which in Truth cannot be adequately expressed in words. And to that end, I also try to be consistent in the use of certain words, so that readers can rely on the fact that I’m pointing to the same reality each time, more or less. But, in maintaining this habit, I also tend to sometimes challenge the use of words, if they’re not used in the same way that I use them. So, forgive me if it seems as if I’m challenging you on some of the words you use. It’s just that I’ve developed the habit of not using a word or words to point to or describe such things, when that’s just my habit speaking. Sorry.
Rick Archer: No, that’s okay. I think words are important, actually. Because if we’re going to use words to communicate then we have to agree upon their definitions. Otherwise, we’re speaking two different languages – the tower of Babel kind of thing.
Also, in a larger sense, I feel like the broader spiritual community of the entire world needs to evolve in this respect, not only in the use of words but in the understanding of what the potential is for Awakening and the development of Consciousness. For instance, in the beginning of this interview, you and I spoke about Awakening being an ongoing, never-ending process. Well, if that’s the case, then what are the various stages of it? And if this tradition over here is talking about this experience, and that tradition over there is talking about that experience, are they talking about different stages? Or are they talking about the same thing in different languages? It would be interesting for the world culture to grow in clarity and precision, and thereby have a better understanding of the full range of human potential in the spiritual sense. So, as a collective, we understand it more precisely, as we do with more objective things that science studies.
JC Tefft: Okay, so regarding the use of words, here’s an example of a problem for me. I would not use the word “stages,” for instance, in reference to Awakenings or a path to enlightenment because “stages” imply specific “levels” of Awakening in order to go down a path that has a beginning and an end, and the idea of “stages” or “levels” or “paths” are all concepts of Mind; as if there is a first stage that leads to another stage, and another, and so on, until one is fully enlightened. But the fact is, as we’ve already pointed out, Awakenings occur in the same context as the movement of Life Here and Now, as a whole. And there’s no beginning or ending to the movement of Life, it simply is so, appearing and moving Now – that’s all. And within this holistic movement, Awakenings occur. So, no particular Awakening leads to another Awakening that inevitably follows later on. Nor is there a separate entity that’s being Awakened, step by step, just as there aren’t any “stages” or “levels” of Awakenings wherein a separate entity must begin and then work through in order to arrive at a higher “level” at the end of a designated path to enlightenment, at the end of a series of Awakenings. Awakenings simply occur NOW, just as the movement of Life occurs NOW – that’s all.
Rick Archer: I never said there was an end to Awakening.
JC Tefft: No, I get that. I’m simply sharing with you how I see the notion of “stages” or “levels” when considered in the context of the Reality of Pure Conscious Awareness, as a Whole. You asked about the idea of “stages” in connection with the “development of Consciousness” in humankind. So, this is a reply to that inquiry.
It seems a better word to use to point to the overall nature of Awakening unto the Reality of Pure Awareness is “Clarity,” which is to say, Awakenings bring about ever greater Clarity in this regard. It’s like the analogy of the purification of water we spoke of earlier. In the same way, Awakenings lead to ever greater Clarity. And just as water isn’t fully clarified in an instant, so also Conscious Awareness is not suddenly, fully clarified in an instant in a particular human expression. It’s more akin to a movement, an unfolding, a flowering that purifies the human energy field overall, so to speak. Not one versus another.
Maybe I could say one other thing about Awakenings that I think is a valid point in concert with what’s being pointed to here.
Rick Archer: Is it related to what you’re saying now?
JC Tefft: Yes.
Rick Archer: Okay, good.
JC Teff: Generally speaking, when initial Awakenings occur, there’s already an established, deep-seated sense of a separate egoic self in play. And because Awakenings occur unexpectedly, out of the blue, one might say, such occurrences are generally interpreted as “experiences” within the self, even though Awakenings are radically different than anything the self has ever experienced before. Consequently, in the aftermath of most Awakenings, especially initial Awakenings, the sense of oneness or spaciousness or release or insight that accompanied the Awakening, fades not long thereafter, as the sense of a separate egoic self returns. So, the immediacy of most Awakenings are generally relegated to a memory of the past, rather than remaining Present, as the sense of separateness returns and remains in play.
What’s being pointed to here is a generalization, to be sure, not to be confused with “grand mal” type Awakenings that occasionally occur within the likes of the Buddha, Jesus, Krishnamurti, and their ilk. So again, generally speaking, as ever more Awakenings occur within a body/mind/organism, so also ever-greater liberation from the sense of separateness occurs as well, until the “experience” of Awakenings of the nature I’m describing here, cease to occur in the same manner as before, as the sense of a separate self weakens and dies away. So, Awakenings of the kind that occur initially no longer apparently occur, but instead, there’s simply a Presence, one might say, that‘s Aware of the movement of Life in the eternally present Now, absent the sense of a separate self in play. It’s just, “Oh, Oh, Oh, Ah, Ah, Ah,” as the movement of Life in all its complexity appears and disappears within the Universe, as a Whole. There’s no longer a separate self that “experiences” Awakenings anymore. There’s simply the Presence of Pure Awareness Here Now, which is Clarity, pure and simple – that’s all.
And in that Clarity, one Realizes that there is no separate self, nor was there ever a separate self or a separate entity who “experienced” anything at all. Nor are there “stages” or “levels” of “self-realization for a separate self to attain. There is simply Pure Awareness or Pure Consciousness or the ground state of Consciousness – call it what you will. And the Universe is already fully awake, so there’s no need for the Universe to attain any “stage” or “level” of Conscious Awareness at all. One Realizes that the notion of separateness, of a separate “you” and a separate “me” or a separate “self” that goes through “stages” of development or aspires to attain enlightenment, is an illusion of Mind – that’s all.
Rick Archer: Okay, I’m cool with all that. You know, Ken Wilber uses the terms “states” and “stages.” And according to him, “states” are more like the experiences you might have, whereas “stages” are more like stabilized degrees of realization or refinement. So, using the analogy of water, there are different stages in which we can find water. It can be ice or liquid or steam – but it’s all water. Just in different “stages” of its appearance.
JC Tefft: Well, I would say what I just said to Ken Wilbur as well.
And the same applies to water. To define various appearances of water as different “stages” of water is simply applying a concept to an appearance and saying, there’s water appearing as ice or water appearing as steam or there’s muddy water, and so forth. It’s simply applying the concept of “stages” to water. But if you let go of the concept of stages and don’t name them, then they just become a movement of Life, as a whole, or better yet, an appearance occurring Now, and not a stage or level of development occurring in water because water is already fully developed. If it’s not water, it’s something else. The notion of development is nothing more than a concept of Mind, a concept of progression from this “stage” to another “stage.” Consciousness does not need to develop through stages or progressions. Consciousness is simply Aware of stages, that’s all.
Rick Archer: So, regarding stages of development, you’re saying that there was a stage in which you thought, “Oh, this is happening to me. I had this flashy experience. I hope I hang on to it. I hope I don’t lose it,” or whatever. But later on, all that passes, but there’s still, like you said, those moments of, “Oh, oh” or different degrees of refinement or Clarity. And I’m suggesting that those moments or degrees of refinement could actually be defined. Otherwise, how do I define anything?
For instance, everybody dreams, right? So, we have a universal enough experience that we now all agree that there is this thing called the dreaming state. So, it could very well be that if higher consciousness or whatever we want to call it, we’re as common as dreaming and pretty much everybody experienced it, then we could begin to parse it out more precisely the way we parse out names for snow – there’s about thirty of them, you know – so various graduations could be delineated. For instance, there could be a stage at which the self has clearly realized that one rests in Pure Awareness, and yet the world is seen as separate or different or detached from oneself. Then there could be a stage at which the sense of separation begins to diminish, and one could begin to appreciate more refined values of the relative world, such that they were hardly discernible from Pure Consciousness, and so on. There could be all kinds of subtle gradations and delineations, if as a culture, we understood this stuff more commonly.
JC Tefft: So, what you just described is a scientific approach to defining phenomena that appears in Consciousness.
Rick Archer: Yeah, exactly.
JC Tefft: The problem with that approach, and the reason why Consciousness remains a BIG PROBLEM for science, is that Consciousness is not a “thing,” is not an appearance that can be interpreted of Mind or relegated to “stages” of Consciousness. Consciousness does not appear in Awareness as an object of Mind or a “stage” of Awareness. Consequently, there’s’ nothing there, as far as Pure Awareness is concerned, for scientists to discover, define or describe.
The only thing that the scientific approach can do is drill down into the quantum and sub-quantum world looking for particles, which are actually vortices of energy, so scientists keep looking for more “refined” particles if you will because scientists can only study that which appears in Awareness. They cannot study Awareness Itself. Awareness is not built out of particles. Nor is it contained within a particle. So, in the end, no particle is going to be the “God particle” that will define or describe the universe, as a Whole. Nor could it be the Absolute Reality of Conscious Awareness, as a Whole. It’s only through Awakenings and the loss of the sense of a separate self that the movement of Life is seen as that which is interpreted of Mind, while Awareness is that which observes the movement of Life or is Aware of the movement of Life, so to speak. So, there might a conceptualized distinction in that way, but even that is nothing more than a conceptualized view of the nature of Conscious Awareness, as interpreted of Mind, and not the Actuality of the Oneness of Conscious Awareness, which cannot be defined or described, nor attained through the processes of Mind.
Rick Archer: So, you’re saying that there could be a stage at which this whole process is seen as mental structures of Mind and the Awareness observing it merges into a greater wholeness in which this whole process, which was once seen as mental processes of Mind is now seen as the very same awareness which was observing it. So, a larger wholeness dawns.
JC Tefft: That could be called the death of the witness, the last vestige of an egoic sense of a separate self, which, when active seems to be a sort of go-between as if an observer of the observed. When that collapses, however, then there’s nothing but Pure Awareness. But again, I wouldn’t call that a “stage.” If I had to call it anything, I’d simply call it the end of the sense of separateness, or the end of suffering, as the Buddha called it, or freedom from the known, as Krishnamurti called it, or liberation from self as others have called. It doesn’t really matter what one calls it. It only matters if one insists on defining it one way or another. Pure Awareness remains what it is, regardless of how it might be conceptually defined by the human Mind. It is now and forevermore untouched by the vagaries of Mind.
Rick Archer: And yet we can still function in the world because of Leisha Vidya that I mentioned earlier, which is defined as faint remains of ignorance, in which things are seen predominantly in terms of what they are – Pure Awareness – but secondarily, there’s this faint remains of appreciation for distinction and difference to allow us to go about daily life more efficiently.
JC Tefft: Yes. Daily life for human beings, especially these days, requires concepts of Mind to navigate the business of Life – to drive a car or perform at work or simply speak to each other. But the conceptualization process tends to get in the way when there’s attachment to concepts, as they appear, and judgment ensues, and resistance and tension and all that, leading to conflict, hatred, and war, which is the other extreme of that involvement, of the identification process that gets out of hand, so to speak.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And what you said a few minutes ago – “Oh, that’s science” – what you were saying is that’s the scientific method, right? And that’s what I was intending to imply – that coming to a better understanding of the nature of Pure Awareness is amenable to a scientific approach if it were repeatable by enough people, which is a primary criterion for the scientific method to be valid. If we could define it in a more universally agreed upon fashion, and if enough people were having the same experiences, then we could compare notes. And we could even establish theories – if you do this, that, and the other thing, then there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll eventually have this experience. So, you do that and see if it’s right or not, and so on – a more scientific approach.
JC Tefft: The problem with what you’re suggesting is that it generally is about seeking to know, and seeking to know, of itself, is a dead-end street or a continuous loop when it comes to Awakening unto Pure Presence Now. Once one Awakens, however, one realizes there’s no need to “know” anything at all or practice anything, in particular, to be Present Here Now. For, as far as Pure Awareness is concerned, there is nothing other than THIS HERE NOW – that’s All.
Consequently, no matter how far we drill down conceptually – to describe the structure of the universe or explain the nature of Pure Awareness or define the path to enlightenment in conceptual terms – until Clarity comes in this regard, we continue to look to concepts of Mind for answers – and the living Truth of Pure Awareness Here Now is simply not there. Pure Awareness is not Realized by means of description or explanation or definition of anything at all.
Rick Archer: But look at yourself, your work. You’re enthusiastic about this topic. You’re writing and producing videos. I don’t know whether your motivation was or is to enable your own knowledge to become clearer, or whether you just want to impart what you’ve come to know to others, or maybe both?
JC Tefft: You bring up a good point and I’m glad to speak to this. Many of us read books and meditate or follow enlightened teachers, seeking enlightenment. Right? Yet nearly as many never actually realize what’s being pointed to by all the teachings, practices, and guideposts that have been promulgated since ancient times. Because no matter how much knowledge we gain or how many practices we undertake or how many times we seek guidance or advice – until Awakenings occur, or significant moments of Clarity occur, or liberation from the dualistic sense of self occurs – the Silent Presence of Here and Now that lies beyond concepts of Mind is not Realized – until such Awakenings or liberating moments occur.
Until the illusion of a separate self, created by the illusion of separateness, is peeled away, so to speak, not by an imagined “me,” but by the overall movement of Life Itself, and thus, as was said of Paul, the “scales” are removed from one’s eyes, the ongoing process of seeking persists until Clarity occurs. Seeking is not the answer because you can’t seek Clarity. In other words, the “answer” to the question of Clarity is not in the literal word or the definition of the word. The Living Truth of Pure Conscious Awareness is beyond all that – beyond concepts of Mind. So, Clarity must first be Realized before understanding comes of what others have pointed to since ancient times as the true nature of enlightened Being or Pure Presence or Pure Conscious Awareness, or whatever one calls it.
And regardless of what one wants to believe, there is no path or stages one must go through to attain this Reality. The Apostle Paul is a perfect example of this fact. He didn’t go through stages, he simply Awakened unto the Truth of enlightened Being – full stop, end of story.
So, when you ask if this is how it played out in JC over time, my answer is, “No.” Awakenings occurred first and Clarity and understanding followed such Awakenings. Anything I thought I “knew” prior to Awakening was basically wiped away in an instant. Richard Bucke, who wrote the book, “Cosmic Consciousness” more than a century ago, put it this way, following his initial Awakening: that he learned more of the true nature of what he called “Cosmic Conscious” in an instant than he could have learned by reading a thousand books. This is how he articulated this same point.
So, when the time came to write the book and produce the videos, I did not look to concepts of Mind for answers or seek out other teachings or teachers to enlighten me as to what I should write. I did not read books to accumulate more knowledge about what I should write. Instead, most days, knowing in advance what was on the docket for the day, I sat in my workspace, rested in Presence as much as possible, and the words flowed from there. Some days I wrote with greater Clarity than others, so I got into the practice of editing prior work the following day and then continued to write anew, as the words flowed. Admittedly, the points I was making were not as clear in the early going, but as the work proceeded, I eventually realized that JC was not writing a book. There was simply writing occurring Now and JC was the conduit, one might say, through which writing occurred. Consequently, the writing flowed even more readily as the book came forth.
The process of researching the book was similar. I wasn’t interested in recapping what others had written about enlightenment or liberation or the physics of the cosmos. I simply read works, whether ancient or new, to ascertain what others said and then allowed whatever they said to filter through my own understanding of what they might have meant or what they might have been pointing to, whether they knew it or not, regarding the evolution of Consciousness or the overall nature of Pure Conscious Awareness in humankind, as per the Clarity in the moment when words were making their way onto the written page. JC did not write the book. JC merely allowed the book to come forth.
Frankly, much of what I read, especially in the realm of physics, bored me to death. I’m not a physicist, so, much of what scientists explore in this realm is not of interest to me. But I read them anyway, not to enhance “my” knowledge about these “things,” but to be sure I understood, as best I could, their point of view so I could write intelligently with respect to the work that was making its way onto the written page. I wanted to show, for instance, how certain scientific discoveries in the modern era might point to the living Truth of Conscious Awareness, even if not fully understood in this way by the scientists themselves. Because the big problem with science, regarding Conscious Awareness of the universe, is that the scientific approach, which is to study the appearance of “things” and thereby gain knowledge about phenomena that appears, by its very nature, ignores the Presence of Conscious Awareness or that which is Aware, in the grand scheme of “things.” They study phenomena but ignore that which is Aware of phenomena. Whereas, the primary intention of my work was to point to that which is Aware of phenomena, not the nature of phenomena itself.
So, as my research progressed, I discovered that David Boehm’s theory regarding what he called the “Implicate and the Explicate Order” was, conceptually speaking, the closest to how I understand the overall nature of universal expression occurring Now. I also found that “field theory” and the theory of a “holographic universe” were helpful as well. From my perspective, with the exception of David Boehm’s theory that is not widely accepted today, these scientifically rooted theories demonstrate the interconnectedness or wholeness or oneness of a universe that expresses as one whole organism, not many, in the Here and Now, of which the ground state of Consciousness is Aware.
Rick Archer: So, I brought up the science point because I think one of the downsides of religion is that it hasn’t in any way been scientific in its approach to understanding the Truth of human Consciousness and the Cosmos. There’s been so much bigotry and warfare and hatred, etc. because people become attached to beliefs propagated by religious authorities without actually experiencing what those beliefs are supposed to represent – and then killing each other in the name of God, and so on.
But the Scientific Revolution, when it came along, was supposed to be an antidote to that. An attempt to get away from all that nonsense and find out what’s really going on. And now, it seems, there’s sort of a marrying of science and spirituality, as represented by the “Science and Nonduality Conference” and the like, where spiritual people and scientific people are trying to understand to what extent they’re actually talking the same language. And generally, they conclude that they are. They just have to sort it out and find common ground by clarifying their terms and finding out where they are meeting one another in this way.
And personally, I think that merging the spiritual with the scientific has tremendous implications in a world where science without the spiritual dimension has brought us to the brink of potential extinction. This has tremendous implications, for instance, with environmental issues, and GMOs, and all kinds of similar issues. For the first time perhaps, it could create a balance in which we, as humans, are fully alive in not only our brains, our intellects, but also our hearts and souls, and that balance could bring about an unprecedented quality of life in the world.
JC Tefft: And to my lights, it seems you’re using the right word when you say spirituality and science, not religion and science.
Rick Archer: Right. Religion to me implies beliefs and rituals and all that stuff.
JC Tefft: Yes, as you rightly point out, religion is basically founded in ancient doctrines, rituals, and beliefs.
And to follow on what you said, it’s interesting, if not a bit baffling, that the only subject stemming from ancient times that endures to this day and continues to have a firm grip on the human psyche today is religion. Even though religions first appeared thousands of years ago, we still promulgate doctrines and beliefs in the name of religion or in the name of God that have been with us since ancient times. What other subject or discipline that we teach today mirrors what was taught thousands of years ago when legends and myths reigned supreme? Not one, other than religion.
Rick Archer: Well, we teach agriculture today, but obviously, it’s in a much more sophisticated form than it was 2000 years ago.
JC Tefft: Yes, but it’s a discipline rooted in science today, not oral history handed down through time. It’s considerably different today and not what was taught two thousand years ago.
Rick Archer: So, as I see it, what you’re attempting to do, and what I’m alluding to here, is taking the scientific approach and way of thinking and marrying it to spirituality, so to speak, and thereby ridding the human Mind from the ridiculousness of ancient belief systems that have dominated for so long by separating the wheat from the chaff, thereby realizing that there’s a whole lot of valuable and worthwhile insight to be gained. But only if we apply it in a context that is practical for the modern era, and that frees us from all the stuff that has given religion a bad name.
JC Tefft: That’s not quite it, but that’s okay. We’ll leave that for another day.
In my view, as far as religion goes, you could chuck religion today altogether and the world would be better for it because those two and three-thousand-year-old dogmas that are still with us today are just ancient myths and legends that have little to do with living Truth or Awakening unto Pure Awareness Now.
Rick Archer: No, but the heart of it, the gist of it, the core of it is pointing to Truth.
JC Tefft: Not the heart or core of “religion.” Religions do not point to Truth. If anything, religions over thousands of years have primarily promoted myth, legend, fear, and dogma since ancient times. But the teachings of enlightened beings the likes of Lao Tse, the Buddha, and Jesus are a different matter.
Even today, Christian religious authorities declare that Jesus initiated Christianity, therefore is the head of the church. But this is patently untrue, Jesus didn’t create the Christian religion or create any religion at all. He certainly didn’t head up any church. He simply lived in an enlightened manner and attempted to show and teach others a new way of Being, a new way of beholding Life and of treating one another. It was not until centuries later that various religious authorities throughout the Roman Empire were called together by Emperor Constantine in what was called the “First Council of Nicaea” in 325 A.D. for the purpose of creating statements of belief and canons of doctrinal orthodoxy for what would become the new Christian Church, in order to create a single religion that would replace paganism and a multitude of Christian sects that had sprouted up over time that would be suitable for the entire Roman Empire. So, those same authorities commandeered, if you will, the teachings of Jesus and Paul and others, as well as various books of Jewish scripture, known as the Hebrew Bible, and plugged them into a conceptualized version of what they thought selected ancient teachings ultimately meant.
The problem, of course, is that the rituals, beliefs, and doctrines that were ultimately prescribed bore little resemblance to what Jesus actually taught or proclaimed in his day. Worse yet, the newly organized Christian religion soon fueled the fires of resistance, division, hatred, and war between those who joined and/or “believed” and those who did not “believe,” much the same as before. And none of it tended to bring Love and Peace into the world, which was the core or “heart” of Jesus’ message to all humankind.
Rick Archer: There’s a great story that relates to what you’re saying in which God and the devil were walking down the road and God reached down and picked something up and put it in his pocket. And the devil asked, “What’s that?” And God said, “Oh, it’s Truth.” And the devil replied, “Oh, give it to me and I’ll organize it for you.”
JC Tefft: Ha! Good one. My dad admitted later in life that in the early years of his ministry, following his Awakening – this was back in the mid-’50s before the Internet – that he wrote letters to people of some renown regarding “New Age” teachings, let’s call it, although that’s not what it was called then, in an attempt to organize the teaching and the community in which the teaching was being proclaimed. He said he spent a year or so trying to organize it in this way because of his prior experience with organized religion, until it finally dawned on him that the universe is already, perfectly organized, so he didn’t need to organize a thing. There was nothing he could “do” to organize it better. That was simply a fallacy of Mind.
Rick Archer: So, here’s a rather long question that just came in, but Irene edited it for greater brevity and clarity and I think you’ll find it interesting. “Your father once said that what had changed him so was when he realized that the Christ is not a person. How did he see Christ? And how do you see Christ?” There are more questions, but maybe it would be better if I stopped here and let you respond to this one, and then I’ll pick it back up after you’ve finished.
JC Tefft: Well, I’ll tell you a little story before answering this question directly. My father, who was not a churchgoer in his youth, was introduced to the Bible in college when he took a class entitled, “The Bible as Literature.” But as he read some of the stories in the Bible, he was struck by what seemed to him to be more profound meanings that lay under the surface, so to speak, beyond the meaning of the literal word, than what was being taught in class. So, after completing this class, he was moved to read and study the Bible even more. Which ultimately led him to Yale Divinity school in search of answers, but it turned out he didn’t find them there, because that’s not where answers to such questions are found. Nevertheless, his career path was the ministry, so he eventually accepted a post as head minister in an inter-denominational church.
Even so, throughout his years of study, he was never drawn to religious doctrine or ritual, but only to the underlying meaning of what biblical teachings, and particularly Jesus’ teachings, were actually about. Consequently, in his early years, he had a difficult time meshing what the church proclaimed was the meaning and message of what Jesus taught versus what he sensed the meaning might be beyond the literal definition of the words. Until finally, at age 37, during a time when he was somewhat depressed, an Awakening occurred and suddenly he saw the Light. And from that moment on, his ministry changed as well.
Years later, having been diagnosed with cancer, my father was in hospital, essentially on his deathbed, when a former colleague came to visit. He had not seen or spoken with my father for many years, but during their conversation, he told my father that his ministry had made a significant impression on him many years before, and he specifically asked what had changed in him that made this so? How had he come to see the Light? After reflecting for a moment, my father replied, “It was when I realized that the Christ is not a person,” hence the title of the book.
The word Christ stems from the Greek word, Khristos, meaning “the anointed one.” Because Khristos is a Greek word, Biblical authors did not use this word prior to Jesus’ time, which is why it’s nowhere to be found in the Old Testament. Nor is it likely that Jesus ever used the word Khristos or Christ to describe himself or anyone else during his ministry, if only because he spoke Aramaic and not Greek. But years later, as stories about him spread throughout the Mediterranean area, others began to refer to Jesus as the Christ, “the anointed one,” not Jesus himself. So, the word Christ was not used to describe Jesus during his ministry, but apparently began to be used decades after he was gone.
My father, during his ministry, spoke of the Christ, not to point to the person of Jesus, but to point to that which he sometimes called the “Christ Mind” IN Jesus or “Christ Consciousness” that Awakened IN Jesus, the Presence of which is now Awakening generally in humankind.
So naturally, I, too, always thought the word “Christ” pointed to the “Christ Mind” or “Christ Consciousness” in humankind. In my youth, however, it was not because I had Awakened unto the Truth of this, but because this is how my father used that word for as long as I can remember. By the time I sat down to write the works that we’re talking about now, however, Awakenings had occurred in me as well, such that I now use the word “Christ” to point to Christ Consciousness, just like my father. Except now, because I’m semi-steeped in the non-duality language of today, I tend to use terms such as “Pure Awareness” or “Pure Consciousness,” rather than “Christ Consciousness,” to point to the same Reality.
So, both my father and I came to understand the word “Christ” to mean “Pure Conscious Awareness” Awakening IN humankind, and not a person named Jesus, who lived two thousand years ago, who, according to ancient legend and myth is thought to be the one and only Son of God. That is nothing more than a fiction of Mind that has been passed down through time.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. These questions, by the way, are from Suzanne in London. So, here’s the second one. “Two weeks ago, I interviewed a young Episcopal minister named Matthew Wright, who’s a wonderful, bright fellow. And in the interview, Matthew said that we should not take all biblical sayings literally, but rather as ideas born through the Christian tradition that were later ascribed to Jesus. This includes sayings such as, “I am the Way the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father, but through me.” Or “For there is one God and one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ.” Do you agree with Matthew? Or is there perhaps more to it?
JC Tefft: Yes. I agree with Mathew. In fact, as I mentioned earlier, the Christian religion, as we know it today, was not firmly established until 325 A.D. at the “First Council of Nicaea,” and then several more “Councils” thereafter, all of them gathered centuries after the crucifixion of Jesus. The first gathering of religious authorities from around the region was called together by the Roman Emperor Constantine, not because he was all that religious, but because he wanted to find a way to keep all the warring, religious factions from destroying his realm and undermining his authority. So, he brought together a group of prominent religious authorities within his Empire and told them to come up with one story, one religion that he would then make the official religion of Rome. And equally enticing to the authorities gathered there, Constantine would then require everyone in his empire to join the church. His primary concern had nothing to do with what the message and teachings of Jesus might mean, but everything to do with bringing law and order to his realm with the emperor in firm control.
Up to this point in time the Roman peasant class generally held to pagan views, which means they believed in many gods and worshiped all of them. On the other hand, Christians and Jews believed in one God, so, to convert the masses to their way of thinking, the Christian authorities managed to create a storyline that made Jesus the one and only Son of the one God, to fit him nicely into their monotheistic traditions. But they also needed to convert the Roman pagan populace to their way of thinking, so they merged a few pagan traditions into their newly organized Christian religion as well, which no doubt made Constantine happy.
Moreover, the four gospels that were ultimately included in the New Testament (dozens of gospels were circulating among early Christian communities before four were finally selected) were all written six to ten decades after Jesus was crucified by authors who never met Jesus personally or heard him speak. So, for these reasons and more, the sayings and stories attributed to Jesus could not possibly, accurately represent his message or his teachings, but instead are what others thought he might have said or wanted him to say so they could incorporate his message and teachings into their version of events and thereby solidify him as the one and only Son of God appearing in human form. Consequently, sayings, such as “I am the Way the Truth and the Life” and “No one comes to the Father, but through me” clearly do not accurately represent what Jesus might have said, but were purposely stated in such a way to justify the Christian belief that he was the one and only Son of God come to Earth to save all those who followed him – just before they collected their Christian tithe.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You mentioned all the gospels that were not included in the Bible; look at the Gospel of Thomas, which was later discovered among the Nag Hammadi scrolls. It never went through all the editorial committees.
JC Tefft: Yes. That is a good example. So, the Gospel of Thomas is likely a purer gospel, one might say, than those included in the New Testament because it seems to more closely represent what Jesus actually taught, while leaving out all the legends and myths attributed to the person of Jesus long after he was crucified that the church used to make him into a one and only Son of God.
So, sayings of the sort that Suzanne cited were clearly added long after the fact, either by the gospel writers themselves or by church leaders later on to bolster the legends and myths that were already circulating at the time. But once one Realizes even a modicum of Clarity in this regard, about the true nature of Pure Conscious Awareness, then one can quickly spot the corruption in such sayings that you know perfectly well, Jesus, as an enlightened Being, could not possibly have said.
Rick Archer: So, the final part of her question pertains to what you just said regarding sayings she quoted previously, such as “I am the Way the Truth and the Life,” and so on. She says that “Stephen Ford” (who is someone I [Rick] interviewed a few months ago) “mentioned that after his Awakening, he came to realize that Christ is the ‘I Am’ of Pure Consciousness, and is free from attachment to mental, emotional, and physical constructs of Mind, through which the unmanifested field of potentiality, the kingdom can manifest itself and so know itself. This would seem to put in an amazing perspective the above sayings ascribed to Jesus such as, ‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life.’ What do you think of this?”
Well, you’ve already pretty much declared what you think about this.
JC Tefft: Well, it’s like the biblical term ‘I AM’ that’s used even today to point to Pure Conscious Being or ‘Being-ness,’ with the emphasis on the ‘AM’ and not the ‘I.’ Unfortunately, the church focused attention on the ‘I’ and not the ‘AM’ by declaring that the person of Jesus was the one and only Son of God, born to the Virgin Mary and all that stuff, which has only served to perpetuate legends and myths of ancient times. But the expression ‘I AM,’ if understood rightly, is intended to point to the ‘Am-ness’ or ‘Now-ness’ of Being. I think it was Jeff Foster who said, “You ARE God, so get over it.”
Rick Archer: And speaking of the word ‘God,’ in the modern era we often speak of Awakening unto Pure Consciousness. But the word ‘God’ is also used to point to ‘God Consciousness,’ like having God become an overall experiential reality, not just Consciousness in the plain vanilla sense. Sort of like Divine Intelligence, permeating and orchestrating everything. And to come to that realization, you really have to know who you are before you can know what that is. As my former teacher once said, you couldn’t even telephone God from a distance if you had not first established Self Realization because you’d be crushed by the immensity and power of the experience. So, you really need that as a foundation for God-realization to occur.
JC Tefft: Well, I can’t speak to the thought process of all that or the requirement of all that, but certainly the embodiment or expression that is “you,” or Sam or Sarah or JC, is born out of a universal expression of Life, as a Whole, that we call human beings. And human expressions embody certain capabilities or capacities that go through an evolutionary process of preparedness, one might say, like the ancient teaching, “be ye prepared,” that potentially allow for Awakenings to occur. But not all body/mind/organisms are the same. Nor are Awakenings all the same. And many will not Awaken at all, nor is it likely intended to be so, nor is it necessary for all to be so.
It’s like the parable of the Sower who “soweth the word.” But some seeds fall “by the wayside,” while others bear fruit, “some a hundred, some sixty, some thirty-fold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.” All are not born for one purpose, which is why different fields carry within them different capacities to respond to the Power of the Cosmos one way or another. For some, there’s insufficient capacity to respond. For others, it’s a highly charged event. And there’s a wide range in between.
Rick Archer: Absolutely. I recently was engaged in an email correspondence with a fellow in Australia who had written about a number of his friends who were longtime spiritual practitioners who ended up having mental breakdowns. So, I brought a few other friends into the conversation, such as Craig Holliday and Francis Bennett, whom I’ve interviewed before, and we got into a conversation about how preparedness for the immensity of the experience is so necessary to purify and strengthen the nervous system. And how, in monastic settings, such as Francis Bennett has been in, there’s a very careful screening process to make sure people are going to be able to handle it, because it can be very intense and potentially too much if there isn’t sufficient preparation. Do you want to comment on that?
JC Tefft: Just … regarding the word preparation. I suggest that preparation in the vein of “be ye prepared” isn’t about mental preparation, really. There’s not much one can “do” or “study” to mentally prepare oneself for an Awakening. Either the mind/body/organism is made prepared by the universe itself or it’s not. It has to be a universal reality, so to speak. it can’t just be driven by an illusion of mind that thinks “I” need to prepare, or “I” am preparing for an Awakening to occur. If that were so, I suspect almost everyone who’s ever been a monk or a sannyasa would have Awakened by now, and we know that’s not so.
Rick Archer: I disagree. I mean, Jesus said, don’t pour new wine into old wineskins. And what yoga and other similar practices are all about is preparing the wineskin, preparing the vessel to make it capable.
JC Tefft: Well, if you’re moved to do yoga, then do yoga. But the movement must be natural and spontaneous, not driven by illusions of Mind. And even then, everyone is not Awakened simply because they lived as a monk or did yoga for an extended period of time.
Rick Archer: So, if you’re not moved, it’s a moot point.
JC Tefft: Sort of, in a way. I would say, it’s less about preparing the Mind in any way in particular. And it’s certainly not about seeking enlightenment. So, If I simply say or think, for instance, that if I do yoga to prepare for my Awakening I’ll eventually Awaken. That’s not going to cut the mustard.
Perhaps a better way to put this, regarding “preparation” of the body/mind/organism, is that whatever the movement is to “do” or not “do,” it must spontaneously arise from within for it to be valuable in this way. It’s not nearly as valuable, if at all, if it’s superimposed from without, so to speak, through the processes of Mind. It’s not like running and lifting weights to prepare for a season of football.
Rick Archer: I agree. And in the larger context, I would say that whatever you’re doing, or whatever it appears that you’re doing, or whatever is happening, it’s all “big picture” preparation, because we’re all a part of the whole movement of the universe.
JC Tefft: Yes, much better said.
Rick Archer: It’s sort of like one, big, cosmic finishing school. (Laughter)
Here’s a good question from Cheryl in Tennessee. She asks, “If there really is no choice and God or Source is making all the choices, then why do we make wrong choices?
JC Tefft: Well, who’s deciding what’s wrong or what’s right?
Rick Archer: Why does someone become a heroin addict, for instance? Or why do people murder other people? If God is really pulling the strings, why do people do dastardly things?
JC Tefft: Well, in the first place, this is looking at the expression of Life in the present moment in dualistic terms, as if there is a God out there pulling strings that moves individual people/puppets here to “do” this or that, which is then labeled by the human Mind as either “good” or “bad” relative to some desired way to be. On the other hand, consider this possibility: what if God is experiencing life as a drug addict? Or as Hitler or Mussolini? Not as an egoically centered life, but simply God’s Life expressing Now as THAT, whatever THAT is.
Rick Archer: Right. As a murderer or whatever.
JC Tefft: Yes! As a murderer or a drug addict or whatever.
When looking at Life holistically, rather than self-centeredly, as a holistic movement expressing Now and only Now, then one might realize that everything living or expressing in this moment experiences life as the universe governs it to BE, so to speak. I don’t mean that there’s a preordained destiny for all that expresses. I just mean that, if you’re born a tree, for instance, then you’re not going to experience Life as a rock or a bear or a human being. You’re going to experience life as a tree and respond as a tree and live as a tree, within the realm of “treedom,” shall we say. Well … it’s the same for human beings.
And, just as there are a great variety of trees – colorful trees, poisonous trees, magnificent trees, thorny trees, you name it – so also there are a great variety of human beings – colorful and magnificent, but also drug-addicted and murderous – a whole range of expressions, just like everything else that appears in the universe. The only limitations imposed upon a particular expression, one might say, is the overall nature of the energy field that encompasses the expression itself. Consequently, within any particular field of expression, anything is potentially possible but is simultaneously limited to the capacities of the particular field. For something to radically change or transform, therefore, the respective field must radically change or transform as well.
Regarding the human energy field in particular, because attachment to the overall content of the human Mind since ancient times has increasingly become a determining factor in the transformability of the field, it is commonly pointed out today that it’s helpful, if not imperative, that one ceases to egoically identify with the content of Mind, as such appears in Consciousness. This is so, because egoic identification with concepts of Mind tends to strengthen the overall sense of duality, which then strengthens the overall sense of a separate self, which then leads to beliefs that determine, based on the illusion of separateness, what seems good or bad for a particular human being, as well as the overall human race, from an egoically centered point of view.
Consequently, as regards radical transformations in Conscious Awareness, a.k.a. Awakening unto that which is beyond Mind, such tendencies fly in the face of what Jesus succinctly pointed out; that no judgment is required. This is so because the process of making mental judgments about what might be evil or good or hated or desired effectively holds out against the possibility for a radical transformation of a human energy field to occur. This is succinctly expressed in the ancient teaching, “Love thy neighbor as thyself.” This is all one really needs to “know.” Love conquers all, so to speak.
The fact is, absent the illusion of separateness in play, one realizes that the universe, not “me,” is that which experiences Life in all its’ reflections – as a drug addict, as a murderer, as a singer/songwriter, as a mother or father, as an interviewer or an interviewee – across the spectrum of all human expression. And once egoic attachments to mental concepts of good or evil regarding any and all universal reflections that appear cease to occur, then one realizes there’s no need to judge one way or another, because the universe is perfectly capable of taking care of itself, thank you very much. So, just let go. And resting in Silent Awareness, whatever movement that naturally and spontaneously appears, move accordingly, if at all, and such movement or non-movement will be in accordance with the Will of the universe, and not according to an egoically centered point of view.
For the drug addict, it is the same. To rise above addiction, the movement must essentially arise from within for that to occur, not according to judgments of Mind, but according to the Will of the universe. Addictions are not going to disappear just because someone takes him or her by the scruff of the neck and says, “don’t do this anymore.” We all know that doesn’t work. But this doesn’t mean that two or more people won’t be moved to come together to help each other. It just means that, generally speaking, if so moved, such movement must arise from within for it to be valuable in this way.
Rick Archer: Would you agree that there’s such a thing as hot and cold, fast and slow, heavy and light? You know, various contrasting parallels throughout the universe?
JC Tefft: Yes. That’s a result of the magnetic field. For every action, there’s a reaction. Pleasure, pain, all that. In fact, with the exception of protons of Light, everything that appears in the phenomenal universe appears within a magnetic field.
Rick Archer: So, the reason I ask this question is that if we don’t have a problem with hot and cold, fast and slow, big and small – all these pairs of opposites – then we shouldn’t have a problem with good and evil. It’s just another one of those relative polarities.
JC Tefft: Yes, except to say that all of it expresses within the field of duality. So, when it comes to the notion of “good” and “evil,” when applied to a culture at large, those concepts are often used to keep society in line. In such cases, the notions of “good” and “evil” then trigger a great deal of tension and denial. If it’s determined on a grand scale that something is “good” and we all should behave in this way, for instance, but something else is “evil,” so if any of this occurs, you’ll likely be put to death or end up in jail, then inevitably, conflicts ensue.
So, if approached purely from a dualistic point of view, an egocentric point of view, the notion of “good” and “evil” is often used to keep society at bay or to force others to think in the same way. In this way, judgment creates tremendous tension and conflict in society, as potential resolutions continue to remain in conflict with each other. All this when, as the Beatles pointed out, all you need is Love. If love ruled the world, conflicts would not only take care of themselves but also melt away.
Rick Archer: If it did – Love, that is – rule the world, because there would be so much unifying influence that the polarities would no longer be so extreme.
But what I’m suggesting is that in the universe, irrespective of human judgment, there are such things as fast and slow and hot and cold, which essentially is a measure of how fast or slow my molecules are vibrating, that there are also some negative and positive qualities in creation, which are not merely human judgment. And then, through the human lens, we see that it’s bad to rape children and good to feed the homeless, for instance – that everything that happens is not just an arbitrary, superficial, capricious value judgment on things happening now.
The reason I’m saying this is that a lot of times when people speak of non-duality, they tend to wipe out all relative distinctions and brush all that aside, as if relative distinctions are meaningless and are merely concepts of Mind, and we (those who speak of non-duality) are beyond those distinctions. But I would say that we can appreciate the non-dual nature of things without losing our appreciation of relative distinctions. We might prefer Bernie Sanders over Donald Trump, for instance, and yet be a highly enlightened person.
JC Tefft: Going back to something you said a while back about the Mind-Heart connecting, and then they sort of play together – in fact, there’s a segment about that in one of the videos….
Rick Archer: Yes, I have it right here. You say (reading from a script), “It is estimated that at least half of the cells of the heart are neurons with clusters of ganglia attached, just like the brain. And at least one aggregate of the heart’s neural ganglia connects directly to the spinal cord, thus, to the nervous system of the entire body, just like the brain.” I’ll let you take it from here.
JC Tefft: Yes. What you’re pointing to, I think, is that in the midst of tensions occurring, as an outgrowth of judgments of Mind, there’s also the possibility of compassion. And compassion is a relative term in that it has an opposite, but it arises in the realm of experience more so than of Mind, such that It can be called a feeling, which, in the case of compassion is a movement to help others, for instance, or at least to empathize with others. So, the difference between the intellect judging phenomena – bad, good, whatever – absent the heart in play, could well be the difference between whether there is resistance and tension in the present moment or, if the heart is in play, an amelioration of that tension, which allows for Love in the form of caring and softness to express in the moment. So, in terms of the appearance of phenomena, one might call that “good” phenomena, shall we say?
Rick Archer: Yes!
JC Tefft: The way I expressed this in the book, as far as the notion of “good” and “evil” is concerned, is that which is “good” is that which supports the Awakening of Pure Conscious Awareness, while that which is “evil” is that which resists or denies such Awakenings to occur. So, it’s not about an intellectual or conceptualized division between “good” and “evil,” but about the unfolding and flowering of Pure Conscious Awareness in humankind. So, in this vein, the conceptualized relativeness of these two terms doesn’t need to be rejected or denied, it simply needs to be better understood.
But what those who speak of non-duality are saying, I believe – I don’t want to put words in other mouths, but I say this too – is that the ultimate “answer” to the reality of Pure Conscious Awareness is complete Clarity on this fact: that all conceptualized constructs of Mind occur within the illusion of separateness, which is the world of duality, and egoic attachment thereto. Whereas, when egoic attachments to the world of duality collapse, then one Realizes there is no stand-alone world of duality. There is only One universe and One Life expressing in the eternally present Now. Which is to say, there is nothing other than THIS.
Consequently, regarding Awakening unto the reality of THIS, there’s no getting there from here, there’s no path to enlightenment. There instead must be a complete disengagement from the world of duality, as conceived of Mind, for Awakenings unto that which is beyond the purview of Mind to occur. This means that refining the definitions of this versus that, of “good” versus “evil,” is not very meaningful in this regard. For Awakenings to occur, identification with the world of duality, as envisioned from an egocentric point of view, must end. And such “endings” are not triggered by anything we “do” or any way we “think,” as opposed to another. Rather, Awakenings occur naturally, spontaneously, as we’ve already said, so that the movement of compassion, for instance, is free to arise spontaneously, absent any effort on anyone’s part.
Likewise, the notion of “choice” is realized to be a spontaneous movement as well, and not a movement that is triggered by thoughts that we erroneously believe to arise in the “mind’s eye” according to egoic will, that in Truth simply does not exist. There is no such thing as Egoic will. The notion of egoic will is rooted in the illusion of separateness, therefore is an illusion of Mind.
Rick Archer: I would say that the bottom line is not to be “disengaged” from duality. That might be a stage, but after that, the bottom line becomes “reengaged” with everything. It’s like the saying, “I and my Father are One. Whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me.” Like the Golden Rule. One eventually “sees” that I am the suffering person; I am the terrorist. So, that’s where compassion comes in. There’s no longer this cold, aloof, and detached kind of relationship with other people or the world. There’s an infinite intimacy instead, with everyone and everything in which you feel as they feel. Do you know what I mean?
JC Tefft: Yes, this seems to be so. But, in the same vein, one also should point out that there’s a difference between “seeing” or “realizing” something, as in insight, and moving to something to influence an outcome from a self-centered point of view. No doubt the Buddha, for instance, could “see” the Truth of what you just said, but if someone was in an accident in his presence, let’s say, he wouldn’t necessarily be the first responder to influence the outcome. I’m not saying he definitely would not respond. I’m just saying he wouldn’t necessarily be moved to run to someone’s aid because that movement might arise in another to move accordingly. So, there would be no need for the Buddha to respond. To move or not to move? That is the apparent question. And there’s no definitive answer.
But this doesn’t mean the Buddha wasn’t compassionate. It simply means that compassion and an immediate movement to respond to save a life or help another in danger – or not – is not necessarily the same in all situations. It’s like, insight is insight and movement is movement. So, for instance, enlightened beings are not going to give to every charity, respond to every accident or help all the homeless. One simply moves as one is so moved – or not. But in either case, it doesn’t mean that one is not a compassionate being. It simply means there wasn’t necessarily a movement that arose in that being, in that instance, to directly attend to another. In other words, insight, compassion, and movement are not an automatic progression or outcome in all situations.
Rick Archer: Okay. You and I aren’t in Africa trying to feed the starving children, for instance. We’re here doing this because this is how we are moved to be useful.
JC Tefft: Exactly. No one is called to do everything or born to do everything. I suspect that’s at least partly why there are so many of us.
Rick Archer: Right. We’re sense organs of the Infinite. We can only do what we can do, or what we are moved to do. Okay, I’m good with that.
So, let’s see. We’ve been carrying on for a while. As I said in the beginning, I knew I was going to enjoy this conversation, so I expected it to be a long interview because there’s so much to cover, even though we can’t cover it all. But is there anything else you’d like to say that we haven’t covered before we wrap this up?
JC Tefft: Well, perhaps it’s worth repeating that the ultimate end to realizing the living Truth of what is being pointed to here is the collapse and death of egoic attachments to the content of Mind, as such appear in Consciousness – even to the subtlest of appearances that are embedded, if you will, in the energy field that encompasses who we are. So, I must admit that much of what we’ve discussed in the last couple of hours, from my perspective at least, does not necessarily lead to that end. Because it’s not about identifying ever-more subtle phenomena that appear in Consciousness. But about the ending of attachments to even need to “look” in that way. For, as long as we remain focused on the phenomenal world, on examining the nature and meaning of phenomenal expression, like scientists do – to decipher it or define it or mentally attempt to organize it in some way, while holding to the belief that we’re more likely to Awaken if we go through certain stages, as conceived of Mind, then we continue to be focused on the phenomenal universe and not much more. It’s like moving chess pieces around the board anticipating that we will eventually win the game, but the game never ends – until Awakenings occur and attachments to the content of Mind in their entirety, fall away. In such moments, seeking to “know,” ends.
Forgive me for carrying on, but I’ll end with a quick story to help make this point. When I was much younger – in my 30’s I think – before I could say with any Clarity what I’m saying now, I was experiencing a knot in my belly, like a clenched fist, that fluctuated in intensity, day by day, for months, but didn’t go away. I never thought of it as an illness, so I didn’t seek medical attention, but I was mindful of it so I “looked” at it, inwardly speaking – paid attention to it – this “knot” of tension in my belly, without giving it a name, without defining it or analyzing it to determine what it might be. And the more I “looked” the more a sense of detachment ensued, such that it didn’t seem like “my” knot anymore, but simply a knot of tension of which I was aware that was apparently hosted in “my” belly for a while.
It took several months for this process to play out. And I should add that Awakenings that have occurred in this body/mind/organism have always occurred in a moment of repose. They have never occurred when the workings of Mind were noticeably engaged. Thus, they always come as a surprise. So, there I was, resting in a state of repose, paying little attention to the knot in the belly when suddenly the tension released and let go. And this release was accompanied by a visual impression appearing in that same moment of a barge on a river containing all this tension breaking loose from its moorings and floating away down river, never to be seen or experienced again. Simultaneously it was revealed that the tension floating away on that barge was an accumulation of resentment that had been held onto for years that, until that moment, had not been realized was there – either what it was or that it had been accumulating in the body/mind/organism since I was a boy.
While this story is anecdotal, I’m fundamentally declaring in this moment that Awakenings or Realizations such as this do not occur as a result of defining or redefining concepts of Mind in an attempt to better understand the livingness of Life in the Here and Now. For this kind of understanding, which is understanding that lies beyond the purview of Mind, comes of its own accord, absent any illusion of egoic Will in play, as attachments to the content of Mind let go entirely. And as often as not, such attachments, unless they grow to the point of a fist of tension in the belly, as per this story, are rarely realized to even be in play until an Awakening occurs revealing this to be so.
Rick Archer: And as you say, it was attention that brought this about. So, that implies a physical sensation that is being attended to. So, I suggest that these things are detectable by virtue of a physical sensation. We notice some tension, some pain, some constriction, and as you say, the tension is not something to be analyzed intellectually. But if we simply pay attention to it, while in a meditative repose, which allows our attention to sort of dwell on the physical sensation, then that helps to unwind or disengage from the sensation.
JC Tefft: That’s how it was for me, in that instance, at least. So, the Awakening process, if you will, is about detachment from the visceral sense of phenomena that seems to arise as an experience in the human energy field, as if the experience, from the point of view of egoic mind, is “my” experience, when in Truth, such experience belongs to no one. This includes the sense of pleasure or ecstasy as well as pain or depression because it’s all experienced within a magnetic field, which, as you pointed out, is a field of opposites. And it’s possible to become egoically attached to anything, which then becomes our addiction. And addiction can only be dealt with long term by means of detachment from same, which occurs when and if one is fully Present and Aware in the Here and Now, which is what Awakenings are – a moment of Clarity when one is Present in the Here and Now, when the illusion of separateness collapses and, metaphorically speaking, the veil is lifted from one’s “eyes.”
Rick Archer: And I’d only add that, as you pay closer attention, it might seem that the phenomenal sensation you are experiencing initially becomes more acute and more uncomfortable than before, leading you to want to look away, suppress, or resist the experience. Which is often why people do drugs, to relieve or block out the experience. But instead, if you look directly at the experience and confront it, so to speak, so that you intimately feel the experience by being acutely Aware, the fact that the experience becomes increasingly painful is actually an indication that the process is beginning to work itself out. So, if you can ride out the process by paying attention all the more, they the pain or whatever will likely tend to dissipate until suddenly – poof – in an instant, as you said, it’s no longer there.
JC Tefft: Yes. In a nutshell, there it is. That’s all one needs to know. (Smile)
Rick Archer: Okay, great. That gives us a practical note to end on. It gives people a technique to work with.
JC Tefft: Well, I’ve really enjoyed being here, and thanks for having me.
Rick Archer: I really enjoyed it, too. And thanks to whoever it was that alerted me to your videos. I think they’re beautifully done, and I enjoyed those very much, too.
We’ll be creating a page on BatGap, of course, with a link to your website, which is www.jctefft.com, where your videos can be viewed, and there’s also a link to your books, “The Christ Is NOT a Person” and “Pure Consciousness: The Last Frontier” at Amazon.com.
So, thanks again, JC. And thanks to those who have been listening or watching. We appreciate everyone hanging in there for this longer-than-normal interview.
Next week I’ll be speaking with Suzanne Giesemann, who had an interesting transformation. She was in the military, a commander in the Navy when she experienced a huge change in her life in which she eventually became a medium, and I expect we’ll be discussing many things of interest with her, too. And Byron Katie the week after that.
So, thanks for listening and watching and we’ll see you then.