089. Karen Richards

Karen RichardsFrom Karen’s site: In February 2008 at the age of thirty-three, Karen experienced a sudden and radical awakening. Prior to this realisation, no teachings or practices were followed – in fact at that time the terms non-duality and awakening were completely unfamiliar. This spontaneous realisation presented itself during a period of intense emotional suffering and when demands in life exceeded Karen’s physical capability.

Karen attempted to persevere in the face of these challenges, the consequence being a severely debilitating illness that affected physical functioning on every level. Although the illness had a devastating effect on life as it was then known, it seemed to create a space for a deeper reality to be recognised.

As her state of health was so poor, Karen was unable to return to work – meaning that she spent a significant amount of time confined to her home. The effect of this period of solitude was profound surrender, allowing the realisation to become deeply integrated into daily living. Two and a half years after the initial recognition, someone Karen didn’t know approached her for guidance, which really was the beginning of sharing in a more active way. Karen now shares openly with all those who wish to enquire into the true nature of reality.

Karen grew up in a small town in the heart of England and was born into a non-religious family. After a somewhat turbulent childhood and unsettled early adult life, she trained as a nurse in 1993. After qualification in 1996, Karen went onto practice nursing in the NHS full time for twelve years, gaining experience in many specialities including general surgery, urology and medicine before specialising in intensive care. In the years prior to the realisation, Karen has experienced challenges and disappointments that seem common to many. She is also a certified life coach and that, coupled with her nursing career has given her considerable experience of working with people from a variety of backgrounds and circumstances. This has endowed her with the ability to empathise and understand life as it is to commonly experienced, making her easy to communicate with.

Following the realisation, Karen’s experience of illness – coupled with her extensive experience of healthcare, enabled dis-ease / illness to be seen from a different perspective. Misperception of what we are and the stress that can ensue in direct relation to that misperception, means that we are often in a state of persistent resistance to life as it is. This negative state of functioning is the foundation for many of our health challenges. The rediscovery of who we are is fundamental for the transformation of the human life experience. It means that the peace that is already here is recognised and experienced directly, having potentially profound healing effect on the mind and body.

Realisation – from a human perspective – means that the unity beyond apparent diversity is remembered. Life can then be embraced fully and authentically – without contamination from the lens of the conditioned mind, bringing relief from all psychological suffering. An inevitable consequence of this recognition is the arising of compassion, love and respect for life in all of its appearances – having an ever deepening impact on the human experience. This has the direct consequence of transforming the world we see literally before our eyes, having a powerful healing effect on the planet as a whole.

‘May you rediscover who you truly are, for in that knowing lies liberation, peace and wisdom. You are THAT for which you have been seeking’

Much love, Karen Richards

Interview recorded 9/25/2011

2nd interview with Karen

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

33 thoughts on “089. Karen Richards

  1. Karen and I are going to do a follow up interview in a few months, because after we stopped recording, we realized we had a lot more to talk about.

  2. Exceptionally clear and resonant. I look forward to the continuation of the interview.

    Thank you!

  3. I feel sad because i seem to lose the capability of understanding what is talked about “enlightenment”. Hm. Maybe if i listened more often and with more concentration..
    After so and so many interviews the picture is not exactly getting clearer. Oh dear. Lost.. Can please someone tell a joke? ;D

  4. A guy is walking through the forest and by chance comes across a religious group who are getting baptised in the river. Being inquisitive and interested in what was taking place he gets caught up in the queue to be baptised.
    He is taken by the priest and lowered backwards into the river, then lifted up. The priest asks “Have you found Jesus?”. “No” he replies.
    He is lowered in again and lifted up. He is asked “Have you found Jesus?” He again answers “No”.
    For the third time he is submerged in the water . On being pulled up again he is asked “Have you found Jesus?”.

    To this he finally splutters “Are you sure he fell in here?”.

  5. @Rick . . “Karen and I are going to do a follow up interview in a few months . . ” Yay!!

    per Snow: “On with the magical mystery tour … “

  6. In this interview, I don’t think clarity comes through, meaning that Rick’s draws did not really help her, although it was his intention. I like his interviews like Bentinho and Florian, and I think it may be based on my conditioning!

  7. I’ll delete your comments if you really want me to, but I don’t mind the criticism. I know I sometimes (usually) talk too much, make some of the same points or use some of the same quotes far too many times, etc., so the constructive criticism helps me curb those tendencies.

    Regarding “always coming up with analogies and metaphors that support what the person being interviewed is saying”, these days I tend to see all teachings as valid. Although many teachers see their teaching as more “right” or “complete” or “clear” than others (and I’m not alluding to Karen), I see them all as pieces of a larger puzzle. They occupy a niche, and attract a certain segment of spiritual seekers, to whom they’re appropriate. With that perspective, I can agree with and support a particular teaching, even though I may not regard it as being as complete as its proponent may feel it is.

    Because I see it as a niche, I feel that both teacher, teaching, and students may evolve over time, and I often try to probe the interviewee to see whether that may be the case. Some teachers (e.g., Adyashanti) are very much aware that they and their teachings are evolving. Others don’t see how that could be possible. These tend to be those fixated on an unmanifest, absolute view to the exclusion of the relative. If a teaching is static, seekers often outgrow it, but may still look back upon it as having been very helpful and appropriate at a particular stage of their journey.

  8. Actually, I prepare by listening to audios of the person on my iPod during the week before I interview them, usually while riding my bike, brushing my teeth, etc., but I seldom write down any questions. I just “tune in” to the person, and then wing it during the interview. Each next question bubbles up somewhat intuitively.

  9. Lovely interview! I look forward to the next one and the book also. Keep up the good work Rick. I find your interview style endearing and engaging. Love the cat!

  10. I really got a lot out of this interview. Because of Karen’s career as a senior nurse, she is able to draw precise distinctions and clearly describe concepts regarding awakening. I remember when I was first beginning to meditate (TM), and being one who always preferred to learn from first-hand experience, I found it so refreshing to read or hear about something I had been experiencing, like another voice in the wild.

    Now, after waking up, not in hell actually, like some, but as a result of what I considered at the time a stressful time in my life, the pinnacle of my self-deceit (lol), the house of cards of conditioned beliefs, the incessant thought patterns, and endless checklists to support all of this flimsy “identity”, collapsed in about 45 minutes. Afterwards, I felt empty and at peace with myself for the first time in my life, where I could trust it, and knew I was meant to be here, now, it felt solid. The nothingness was solid, and continues to be.

    Oh yeah, and I have been to hell while fully awake, and it *still* pretty much sucks – what would you expect, right?

    Last but not least, it is amazing to have this resource Rick, and all of your guests, to serve as a repository of scripture; transcendental truth. Thank you for providing it!

  11. ** Hi chuckee, Thanks for your questions – I copied your post below and answered in-line:

    Hi Jim. I love your story. Do you think it happened because of the stressful time or did it just all of a sudden start to happen in such a way that it could have come anytime?

    ** It was during a time when I was trying my hardest to have a successful outcome (get hired at a company), as I understood the world, so the stress came from the near complete cognitive dissonance between what I though I was doing and what happened (didn’t get the job, despite being convinced I was “one with god, etc, etc, etc”). My previous state was built out of experiences, but they were all misunderstood by the ego, misunderstood to be facets of my experience that I could will into being, in service to who I thought I was.

    Was it like one insight that caught hold and then others came, and then it was like everything unraveled until it collapsed?

    ** I recall being in deep despair after I had been turned down for the job. There was a subtle sense that nothing I was doing was working. This grew in intensity for a couple of days as I recall. Then one morning, the final matchstick broke, and I was flooded with tears and perspiration for about 45 minutes – a complete cleansing and washing away of everything I had sought so strenuously to keep in place. During that time a complete feeling of relief and surrender and letting go washed over me again and again, and I was in a state of blissful witness during the experience. I have been still and empty within myself since then. There was no way to return to the former edifice of matchsticks, and no desire to. Then my journey of discovery of life began anew.

    Was it smooth all the way or did something just give way leaving void? Or was it more like something collapsed, then something else collapsed, and continued until done. Did you find it obvious, like; ‘wow this is always the way it is!’? God! You watched yourself unmanifest in 45 minutes! Was it kinda like that? Empty and peace, solid, and kick ass alive! Yes? And it continues. How long ago this happen?

    ** It was in the spring of 2005. And yes, the process of awakening very much continues. About six months into my initial awakening I was so blinded and overcome by my sense of relief and seeing the world as it is, free from my psychological suffering, that I did not notice that I still had a lot of work to do in continuing to awaken – lol.

    The initial experience continued, the deep foundation of silence, the identification of Now as me, without anything else to grasp onto. And yet, having lived for awhile already, there were habits of thought and action that I was unaware of, and came into awareness of subsequently, and continuously. Now that I know such things are not me, it is easy to see them for what they are and modify them, or let them dissolve.

    Do you find that it’s much more than solid and trustworthy, in that it is your very being? Do you find it all quite funny?

    ** Yes, I find the whole thing ultimately meaningless and hilarious too. Then it is time to empty the dishwasher, or compose a song or do anything else that needs doing. Staying out of my own way has become both a science, uncovering that which needs to be seen, and an artform, living gracefully, moment to moment. And the moments seem to be getting both more granular and longer somehow. Now lasts forever.

    I hope you don’t mind me asking. I am curious. I know this experience, but it comes and goes in my case. I have no idea why other than because…….

    ** Yeah, after you taste it for awhile, it becomes more and more familiar, to the point of not being able to live without it.

    When you say going to hell still pretty much sucks. ‘Pretty much’ is the qualifier isn’t it? It’s different isn’t it? It’s like the same, but didn’t you find a ‘sweetness’ in it all? Like watching it with love or something?

    ** The experience I was thinking about when I wrote that had to do with dreams I had several years ago where I would visit hell. It was basically what you would expect – gross and disgusting. So I was talking more on the level of the senses.

    I remember being in tears as a young man after my father told me I was useless, and I was happy/sad and filled with love for no reason other than being alive.

    ** Thanks for sharing that. Your dad was just projecting his own sense of worthlessness onto you. Too bad. Parents aren’t often aware of the power they have over their kids.

    boy i just felt that…….
    thank you

    **Thanks!

  12. Hi chuckee, Glad you enjoyed it. What did I do? I opened my mind with 35 years of meditation at least 2x daily. Over time I became so focused on the goal to the point that it was either it or me. It won. 🙂 Focusing my intentions through a personal representation of God helped too, as did prayer.

  13. hi Jim… thanks for sharing…

    if you feel like it … can you say something about your … “personal representation of God” and “prayer”… and if you feel it relates to Adya’s awakening in head… heart… gut… are you stable in one of these and others are coming along… or… your view is different…

  14. Hi Anatol,
    I copied your post below and answered in-line:

    can you say something about your … “personal representation of God” and “prayer”

    ** I took the TM Sidhis course 30+ years ago, and what began to happen was that I was able to apprehend saints and gods at the level of the (refined) senses, on what is sometimes referred to as the astral plane. I could both see them and feel the radiating of their darshan. Good thing as there were no teachers here on earth I was attracted to. Prayer just became a process that rather than my thoughts being aimed nebulously above, they were directly communicated to whomever I addressed them to. Prayers became real.

    … and if you feel it relates to Adya’s awakening in head… heart… gut… are you stable in one of these and others are coming along… or… your view is different…

    **I don’t know the context of Adya’s expression. On the one hand the progression from head to heart to gut is a general statement of learning *anything*: First we understand it, then we own it and finally gain confidence in it. With Awakening I had all of those three things at once, dramatically, though I have of course continued to grow and develop since, which I don’t anticipate stopping or stagnating – that would be impossible.
    Hope that helps!

  15. thanks Jim… i like your common sense… “First we understand it, then we own it and finally gain confidence in it. ” … although i feel there is something more to what Adya says… which may come later in your growth… or not… perhaps… paths… stay unique… before awakening and after…

    and astral planes… far out… it is said that our physical earthly existence is just a very small part of the entire creation… and i know one “awakened” fellow… who says he will be glad to see the body go… so he can explore… didn’t say he would just merge in the “absolute” … or the body would drop off… and the absolute would remain… i know… the words here are not strictly advaitically correct… where is the advaita police…

  16. Based simply and only on my experiences, having seen and communicated with many loved ones who are no longer here, its not like we just dissolve into nothingness after a lifetime here on earth. How cruel that would be, to break the continuum of life, growth, delight, experience and learning just because the gross body wears out.

    At the same time, I don’t want to get there any sooner than I have to! 🙂 By experiencing those other unearthly places, this one becomes so precious – kind of like if I want to leave, I haven’t really arrived here yet.

    Also, about “the astral plane” I have heard that it can become a distraction, and I suppose that is true, like having vacationed on the Amalfi Coast and always imagining it while doing other things. However, it can be integrated and worked into daily life also in an appropriate and useful way, the thought for example, “bring an angel”, and so on.

  17. @snowleopard — thanks for the much needed joke, haha,– feels lighter while falling down…! (nice blog of yours btw)
    @chuckee you didn´t jump allright? Phhh.. glad to see you keep on keeping on.

  18. Lovely interview – lots to digest and worth listening to again. Rick is a master communicator and because he is so knowledgeable on this topic, I feel his insights, analogies and experiences add to the conversational stye of these interviews and are integral. Furhtermore, he has an uncanny way of asking the same clarifying questions that I am wondering just at the right time. I have learned as much from Rick on the topic of enlightenment as the guests. Please don’t change the format- this is one of few interview shows I – don’t get bored with. I think it’s perfect as is. Thanks you for making it available to all of us.

  19. Rick,
    You and Karen mentioned a sort of uncertainty that has been discussed. I wonder if this can become an obstacle or an unnecessary source of confusion for those who have experienced a fundamental awakening yet do not comprehend the simplicity of it. In other words, their conditioned mind is experiencing a lingering doubt even though the identity has shifted. Is this what you are talking about in that interchange? I had not come across this discussion in any of the other interviews I have viewed. Could you or Karen elaborate further, either here or in your next interview? Thanks.

  20. Hi Erick,

    I’ll save your post and bring up the point in our next interview. I’ll have to listen to this interview again to be really clear on the point to which you’re referring.

    Thanks, Rick

  21. The section I mentioned above is (on Facebook) Part 3, 11:27…

    In reviewing it I got the gist of it better. The uncertainty is in the nature of the knowing. But I’d still love to hear an elaboration on the point. It is good for people to hear.

  22. Hi Rick,

    I want to thank you for your beautiful interviews.
    And I want to say thanks to both you and Karen for this one.

    For my part I am an “oozer” of an awakener … but anyway all these interviews are such helpful encouragement, and confirmation, and also give helpful practical tips. I particularly liked when Karen said (maybe a fusion of several quotes):

    “The difficulties that arise from the momentum of old conditioning
    are opportunities to SEE them clearly, and allowing them to be without trying to change them. And when we see them clearly
    with relaxed [calm, alert] vigilence, they are allowed to run their course and drop away.”

    Also: “That IS the bliss: To be in the depths of despair, and yet have it be ok. Because it is cradled in unshakeable peace.”

    For me, that is still brutal. I HATE my despair and pain.
    That is why I became interested in spirituality. Yet, my hatred is an attachment. It seems each time I go through a painful
    episode (every few months), the attachment has to be seen;
    the story that is believed has to be seen. If you see and
    question the belief of every story, or relax the focus on the story
    (as Benhito M puts it) then all that is left is a feeling in the body
    and THAT is what can run it’s course, once it is disconnected from the story which was believed and not seen. The believed story IS the propagation device for the negative emotions, it is how they continue to try to live on and on in you.

    Yet, how difficult to do in the midst of pain … For the story may include: “I am trapped in this pain and I cannot see.”
    This pain will utilize any thoughts to survive; and you
    believe those thoughts, because at that moment you ARE
    that pain, you WANT that pain.

    I liked the analogy of ripples on water as well: “If we TRY to smooth the water, we create more turbulence; instead we can allow the waves to run their course in their own time and return again and again to this recognition.”

    I sympathize with those who feel confused or lost. I’d like to offer a little advice, which like all advice is more or less difficult to follow according to who you are, and how you can reflect and integrate it it into your own experience. I recommend you
    relax: Don’t worry about anything that doesn’t mean anything to you. Key in on the simple things that make sense to you, and especially those which give a heightened feeling of aliveness.
    This is not really about understanding anything with your mind, it is about relaxing your desire to understand and noticing something very simple: your own beautiful presence.

    Much love and best wishes

    -Joe

    PS You know another taboo in these nonduality circles?
    It seems to be taboo to mention the name of Eckhart Tolle. Is he just too main stream, too obvious? 🙂

    For me he has been the most powerful and clear teacher again and again. Yet of course certain view points may be clutched at
    if one takes his teachings too, too seriously (for example one could hope for a sudden awakening like his). 🙂 I agree with Rick:
    It is very helpful to look at several teachers and view points.
    For is it not attachment to view points that we wish to see clearly?

    PPS I apologize for overlong comment, even though I lengthen it
    with this apology. 🙂

  23. Karen seems to struggle to shift her mind to what Rick is saying, rather she is fixated on her story and her message. Being in the moment means you can drop your story and be with what other people are saying. Rick offers a lot of wise references in which Karen seems utterly uninterested.

  24. Hi Karen. Today I spent some time and sent Rick some audio for my upcoming interview, took a nap, and am sitting here now listening to your interview. Having an awakening experience myself, the interview is like listening to everything familiar. Thanks for taking the time. Wonderful. Clark.

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