Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with I’m changing that from interviews with conversations with spiritually Awakening people I’ve done, I think about 435 of them now. And over the past eight years, and if this is new to you, and you’d like to look at previous ones, go to the go to batgap.com Bat gap, we’re going to the past interviews menu, you’ll find them all organized and arranged there. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it to whatever degree there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site, and we appreciate your support. Thanks. So my guest today is Leslie Skylar, who among other things, is an extremely patient person, we’ve been sitting here with her for nearly an hour trying to get the the audio balanced. And he’s been very tolerant of that. This is a test we put all the guests through Leslie just to see if they’re really spiritual as they are. So let’s say I gotta read parts of your bio. But the first part that jumps out when you read it is that when you were nine or 10 years old, you had a, as you put it, completely spontaneous life altering experience of Satori or Enlightenment, that shook your world, everything and every facet shifted unimaginably, nothing was ever the same again. And this set you on a life course dedicated to understanding, honoring and living, what had been revealed. So what happened? Tell us about that?
Lesley Skylar: Right, well, great to be here, Rick, and lovely to have everybody listening to us as well. Come Namaste. Right? Well, of course, I was little, I didn’t know, you know, what was was occurring. But I was out in the garden one late afternoon, sitting quietly enjoying a little solitude. And all of a sudden, there was a tremendous sort of opening, you could say that, and everything sort of was filled with light. And there was the most incredible revelation of life and the world. And reality is being literally one living being one living organism unified. absolutely overwhelming love and compassion. And a view that literally just shook me to the core, it seemed it wasn’t just like looking at a beautiful sunset, it seemed to be something that was actually penetrating in my being. And the eye that was there, even those little live nine-year-old, whatever seemed to completely disappear. There was there was a melting into oneness that was just extraordinary. And tears were streaming down my face, even though there wasn’t an eye that was actually crying. And it was as if the whole world opened up into the view of what’s actually true and what’s actually real, which then set me on a course, to rediscover or to find out what didn’t actually happen to me. So it was very, very profound, something was sort of rebooted in me, you can imagine a sort of computer not just a rebooting of your computer, but almost a download from something called the Big or whatever, that literally blows the whole system. And it seems to have been seen that view or that reality seem to be established in me thereafter. And I could easily access that spaciousness at any time, which really helped me a lot in the in the coming decades.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I can imagine. We’ll have a few questions. First of all, was there any bit of a scary element, or was it just completely wonderful?
Lesley Skylar: Right? Absolutely. Zero scary 000. extraordinary beautiful. As I say, In the beginning, the I seem to completely disappear and everything was just oneness. I think if there had been an eye there, maybe there would would have been a kind of a questioning of what this was, but everything fell away. After that, after the experience some days and weeks later, and in the coming years and decades, there was a lot of confusion. Because the reality that I then sort of came back to didn’t any Anyway, match that experience. But nothing in the experience itself was frightening, disconnected, fragmented, it was more real than anything I’d ever encountered. And, you know, so there was it didn’t feel like a dream or watching a movie, it was something that was a kind of a multi dimensional thing that, you know, that impacted me, as I say, at the phone, and there was never left after that.
Rick Archer: Had you had any taste of anything like that, prior to this?
Lesley Skylar: I, I had felt in a way that what I saw was sort of what I intuited or sensed reality might be even as a little one, I, there were some things in the way people engaged, I couldn’t quite understand everybody, everything seemed much more connected and much more holes and what was reflected back in life and family and school and all the rest of it. So in a way, the experience of like coming home, it wasn’t something that felt like it landed from outer space, it was something that felt like a very, very deep homecoming, something that I’d always sort of been with. But that had landed in a really, really full way
Rick Archer: they’ve ever had past life experiences. Or recollections.
Lesley Skylar: Right, I’m somewhat not paid particular attention to, particularly what to comment on, but
Rick Archer: I’m just curious, because, you know, I think a larger percentage than the average percentage in the general population, of the people I interview, have had something like this, you know, something, something special as a child. And, and often they lose it as they go into their teenage years, and so on, and then regain it later on. But some people actually have memories of having, you know, dedicated their lives to spiritual development in previous lives, and so on. So I’m just wondering if you had had anything like that,
Lesley Skylar: right. I felt very sort of connected and resonant with anything to do with finances, or monks or nuns anywhere I’ve ever traveled. If I see someone who’s in a robe is an immediate kind of recognition. And in fact, the experience that I had at age nine or 10, actually created in me a very deep desire to actually want to be a monk or nun. I thought I was that’s what I was going to do. Yeah. Didn’t didn’t end up that way. But so,
Rick Archer: right, yeah, sure. So, yeah, in fact, you say in your bio, that you spent years as a renunciant, living in ashrams and working deeply with direct teachings of Enlightenment, both in the east and the west. Of course, in some of those ashrams, the, the term renunciate is used rather loosely. So, I’m not sure to what extent you were living, you know, renunciate life, but I guess you were maybe to worry, I mean, to a great extent, how many years did you spend doing this? How austere was it?
Lesley Skylar: It was pretty it was to especially one of the ashrams I lived in they were very serious pursuits, they weren’t sort of things that you could dip into and out of you had to qualify. And the one where I spent four or five years was very seriously, it required a complete giving up. So at that time, I was married. I have two children who are now 18 years of age happily at university in different parts of Canada are twins. They’re twins, right? So at that point it I was pulled and move to actually leave everything. Well, I didn’t know how long I was going to leave for I had an idea that I would maybe take my children with me because all of these ashrams have communities where you can have families and children didn’t end up happening that way. But I basically had to leave everything my friends, my family, my children, my money, the security of my home. And, you know, and when I got there, the teacher said, well, that’s just the beginning. That’s nothing. You know, so you’ve renounced the sort of physical things, but the biggest issues are enhancing the eye sense. Yeah. And you know, all of those things that you hold most dear, which are your ideas and your goals, and your you know, your self sense. So, it was a pretty big deal, though, on the level, you know, the level of just leaving everything in this very significant
Rick Archer: is huge. I mean, especially anyone who’s a parent or especially a mother, who’s How old were the kids at that point?
Lesley Skylar: The kids were five or six at that time, it must have been gut wrenching. It was it was gut wrenching. And, you know, as I as I mentioned earlier, this so called experience of opening that I had somehow allowed me to connect with an intuitive guiding compass or sense, a really deep sense of self and that’s what I checked in with or into what I was, you know, when I was I felt the call to actually become a renunciate. It wasn’t just a whimsical thing where I decided, well, you know, I’m leaving everything. I deeply sort of checked in that actually, this was really a deep movement, that that’s where the life energy was moving. And it was, and that’s what was required of me. And so I knew it was what I had to do, which, which allowed me to do it really it wasn’t, it wasn’t a choice at the level of, you know, a mental choice or the level of a person, it was a very deep calling that somehow I knew I had to follow.
Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s interesting, because often that intuitive voice is, is rather quiet. It’s subtle. It’s it’s just a sort of a, an impulse, you know, that if you’re attuned to it, you you follow. But very often the concerns of the world and various reasons and rationales override it, you know, and right, you think, well, this is the impulse. But if I do this, it’s going to create harm. I mean, there’s some people consider you selfish, or for doing this, I mean, here you are this, this young mother leaving her young children. And then I mean, did you have people saying to you, no, well, why do you think about the kids and stop being so hung up on yourself or something?
Lesley Skylar: I did, I did. There was a knowing that was darkness. And I’d say what it came from the same source as the revelation that somehow this was needed. And I thought, as I live, that I would end up, you know, having my children with me. So I thought that I would maybe be gone for a few months or even a few weeks. And that I would, you know, the children would come along with me in the ashram. So in my mind, it wasn’t a complete giving up forever. But five years, it didn’t turn out to be that way. But I did travel backwards and forwards quite vividly. So you know, the teacher gave me permission to do that, because of the age of my children. So I’d come back to Vancouver and spend a couple of weeks with the kids and we do lots of Skypes. And but still, it wasn’t the same thing. It was a big deal.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I can imagine I could totally relate to me, I can’t relate to because I don’t have kids. But I, I am a little bit in awe of you. Having been able to do that,
Lesley Skylar: right?
Rick Archer: Was it we won’t get into specifics, but was the ashram sort of Hindu oriented, Buddhist oriented.
Lesley Skylar: Um, it was, I would say non duality, kind of a non duality focus, teacher or Western teacher, Western teachers that looked in different locations, although I did spend time with a few Eastern teachers as well in India and Tibet debate. But the ones that I lived with for significant periods were Western teachers who spoke English. And so we could get into a real deal
Rick Archer: with this in the west or you traveled to India to do this different places.
Lesley Skylar: In North America, I lived in Europe for periods I and I lived in Southeast Asia as well. So I just like to add a little something about that, you know, because people sort of have this romanticized notion of living in ashrams. Well, so what I would say is that the primary learning I had there, I went there, already very mature and pretty deep. And I somehow, you know, as I indicated, I felt that this was part of my destiny, part of what I needed to do. But I thought that I would gain a lot in terms of an understanding of the truth and what my experience at these ashrams revealed was more about what was not true than that what was true, which ended up being a profound teaching and learning really, especially in terms of the teaching work I now do because I saw a tremendous amount about what can go wrong in the process of so called teaching or assisting or guiding others. You know, there was there were all sorts of things going on that actually were very contradictory. And, you know, I saw you posted something a couple of weeks ago on ethics, in spirituality, in spirituality. And so this was a very, very interesting window. You know, some of these teachers are pretty well known. I don’t want to mention names, but they’re, you know, if I, if I mentioned the names, everybody would know that they’re very well known teachers. So they weren’t, you know, they were supposedly truly enlightened beings who, you know, had profound teachings and yet, how they’ve manifested in terms of the actual lived situation in the ashrams was quite, quite astonishing. It took me a long time to work out what was actually going on there, how you could have, you know, in one human being the coinciding of real revelation together with truly, you know, some somewhat unhinged or dysfunctional behavior. That furious shadow and patterns that have been resolved. So I saw that up close and personal. You know, for some years I was, I ended up being very senior person in some of these ashrams and ended up running one of them with the teacher. So I really got to see the ins and outs. And anything my ego might have wanted from his teaching work in terms of power, or anything in that regard was really wiped clean, it was a deep purification to see the harm that was done to individuals there who trusted the teacher really deeply. And, you know, many I think, was scarred for life. And some of them, I don’t think it will get over that. So that was really profound and deeply, deeply touched me. And so, you know, I’ve always been very much on the moral side, I very much believe in integrity and following truth. But this really cemented it very profoundly.
Rick Archer: I want to have you elaborate on that in a second, and tell me how you came to reconcile these discrepancies. But I’ll tell you how I have, which is to say that I avoid any notion of Enlightenment, as I haven’t encountered very many examples of what I would consider to be some kind of final state, which can’t be improved upon. You know, it’s like, I kind of have the attitude that everybody’s a work in progress, no matter how highly evolved they are, and that they’re, they’re going to have human foibles, which still need to be worked out. And I don’t know, they’ll say just that much. I mean, how would you respond to that? Right.
Lesley Skylar: So I would agree with it, in my own experience, and looking at others and the teachers that I’ve that I know and have worked with, I don’t believe that there is any final state whatsoever. In fact, one of the deepest experiences of the absolute all reality reveal, but that’s completely not the case, we’re dealing with reality that’s infinite, there is no way that there is a finite void to infinite reality, there’s certainly not a finite resolution of the infinite in, in a human body. And so I think that’s, you know, one of the mistakes that some of the teachings make they, some of the teacher that I was involved with, presumed that they were beyond feedback, they had come to a stage that was final. And that, you know, they didn’t need any reflection, or they didn’t, they didn’t need any introspection, really a lack of humanity, humility, and also a lack of groundedness and discipline and really deep, deep practice, which then allow the shadow or any parts of them properly examined to really run rampant, you know, the greater power we have, the more those small foibles or shadow elements can become really magnified over time, especially in the context of the community. And of course, spiritual, deep spiritual work really empowers can empower the ego, if the ego is not sufficiently purified through, you know, right practice and discipline. And various practices are really focused on humility, which is, you know, part of what I do very deeply in the teaching work that I do the at various points in the process of deepening or, you know, periods where we have awakenings or etc, etc, anything that’s not hit, purified remains, and it doesn’t just disappear, because one has a so called, you know, experience of awakening, it needs to be seen through, you know, the light of truth needs to really be brought to that otherwise, it grows. And it’s magnified in the context of, of teaching work, or when ashram or a community of individuals.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so it’s kind of ironic that, you know, someone has some profound awakening. And in a sense, it makes them even more blind to their shortcomings than they might have been before, you know,
Lesley Skylar: right. That’s what I found. It was very surprising, you know, myself included, of course, it brought up so much in me, which was very helpful to see but very painful and challenging, too. I felt that a number of the people that I was engaged with in the ashrams, more senior people, including the teachers seem to have greater aberrations than the average person out there, you know, I was happy to come back from the ashrams during my visits to the kids and just chat to the greengrocer and, you know, the fishermen on the dock with the simplicity of life, you know, with regular human beings who don’t, don’t have grandiose visions of what they are teaching, but it was such a relief. So here’s an interesting thing that can happen there. As I said, you know, any of these aspects of self that have not been fully purified really are magnified in that part. It takes because you can make to a power that’s not your own. Yeah, you know, can it was deep spiritual teaching. So any ego that’s there tends to get really inflated,
Rick Archer: I’m laughing because I have this really good friend who works in the local grocery store. And before that he was working at a different grocery store. But he’s been meditating for decades. And at one point, he said to me, I was so sick of being around spiritual people, you know, I just want to work in the, in the non spiritual grocery store, you know, just in the liquor department. Just because of what you’re saying, there’s this, this sort of people’s idiosyncrasies, and, and flaws in some, in many cases, not all, seem to get magnified by the shock, they are something that they do, they’ve tapped into.
Lesley Skylar: Right, that’s my experience. And so, you know, I think it’s very useful then for teachings to, to emphasize the whole being and to, you know, engage in practices to help individuals engaged with practices and various forms of inquiry and deep looking, that can reveal these areas of shadow and blind spots. And we all have them. You know, I’ve met and worked with many people who, when I talk about this sort of thing, well, oh, she must be speaking about someone else. You know, I’ve done enough spiritual work, I’ve meditated for 20 years, or 30 years, I’m pretty clear. Well, that’s just the point. You see, Shadow is something that you can’t see yourself. And so it’s a real thing, obviously, you know, anybody who knows anything about psychology will know that these are real phenomena. And as soon as they are empowered with the Shakti of, you know, source or infinite, this infinite spaciousness that we connect with as we engage peripheral practices, anything that’s not purified will, will tend to really blow up and create some kind of ego inflation. And it’s unfortunate, because the rest people’s development, then if people are stuck in certain areas, because they can’t see where they are or where they’re stuck. I see that as one of the most significant reasons why people actually don’t end up in a place in the so called journey where they come to a binding realization. So I’ve distinguished by the way, I think this is just an important point that I wanted to make between what I would call openings or awakenings. And what I would call a binding realization, they’re not the same thing at all. And so I see that, you know, local spiritual terrain, people presume that if they’ve had some kind of experience that they, you know, that I will, I’m pretty much like, Ramana Maharshi. Now, I’m done. And actually, nothing could be further from the truth. You know, it’s, I always sort of point out that awakenings are like, drawing the curtains open, they’ll give you a view of something that is a possibility. And there are just a partial view, even the deepest ones, it then requires the individual to actually embody that view and expand and deeper that for you, in order for that to become embodied and lived and ended up being a spontaneous way of living. So yes, there is practice. And while there’s deep inquiry that’s needed. There’s really deep, you know, radical self honesty that’s needed and a whole number of factors. Otherwise, it doesn’t stabilize, because the conditioning of the human being, you know, is is so strong, and it’s so significant, that it rides roughshod over these awakenings. And that’s why people you know, kind of have a honeymoon period where they feel things are more blissful, there’s a greater openness, and then lo and behold, that honeymoon period ends within days or weeks or months, sometimes years. And sometimes, you know, people can feel they’re almost back to square one again, because what wasn’t clarified then is still remains and you know, very deep teachings and people we tend to, to sort of regard as people, you know, say, just, for example, like a Ramana Maharshi, or a Nisargadatta Maharaj, for example, I mean, you know, tremendous effort and seeing and clarity there in the in the area of purification, you can you can see and feel in their energy, that, you know, these individuals left no stone unturned in terms of their own inquiry, their dedication to truth. And, you know, it was years and sometimes decades in the making, it is not something that happens overnight. It’s a process of really deep looking and and doing a seeing through and a dissolution of the sort of bundle of conditioned impulses that we call the separate self sense of the ego. Personally, I
Rick Archer: think it’s a lifelong endeavor. Right? Yeah. As long as you’re breathing, you’re still doing it, still doing it.
Lesley Skylar: Right. I would agree with that. And as we said earlier, you know, there’s no end point but what I have noticed, you know, looking at many people that I’ve I’ve seen and worked with them to Teachers etc. And looking back over history is that there are things that we could regard as stages or points that you can come to awakening is such a point, you know, before that you’re in conventional reality, you have no clue that there’s another way to see things. And all of a sudden, there’s an awakening that, you know, that shakes your world. The same thing with abiding realization, there is a point in this journey, and it’s different for different people, you know, we can put a timeline to it, where things stabilize and settle, the deepening is sufficiently holistic, and the inquiry or the practices have been sufficient to actually create a kind of a place you could say, or position where we are no longer bound by the patenting, it’s been seen through so deeply and clearly that even though thoughts or feelings or particular patterns may arise, when he’s in a place where you’re not, you’re no longer bound to that, and then something completely different happens. In my experience, it’s a very, very different thing than any other part of the journey. It’s like you have, you know, rockets taken off into space, and you’ve got this tremendous force of the engines that have to break through the gravity and then when you reach cruising altitude, it’s like, he’s a kind of a stopping quietening. And these the spontaneity that begins to take over, where there’s not a doing any more, you know, there’s, you know, letting go even have practices, there’s a spontaneous loving as, as something completely other than what you always thought you were.
Rick Archer: One thing I’ve been thinking about last couple of days, as a result of things I’ve been going through with friends and people I’ve interviewed, is that and reflecting you also in my own experience, is that there can be an abiding state, and it can be just, you know, rock solid, 24/7 continuous thing. And, and one can, in a way, feel, take refuge in that and feel a sort of a contentment and a naturalness and resting in that. And yet, still, you know, your human behavior can go off the rails, and you may not even be aware of it, how crazy you’re getting or how off you’re getting, because there’s it’s sort of buffered by or softened by this sort of presence that just continues to abide. Can you relate to that?
Lesley Skylar: To some extent, what I would what I would say to that, Rick, is that, you know, if they ask if there’s sufficient clarity, if there’s sufficient self awareness and self understanding, and you know, one has done enough really deep inquiry to the nature of reality, there really is a deep seeing of the way the patenting works in this particular body, mind or whatever. And, you know, one is engaged, so many different ways of learning how to look and be alert, that that almost becomes second nature. So I think at a certain point, the clarity actually art shines any sort of dullness or all attempt to kind of rest in something or, and the ways of seeing that if you if that is what’s happening.
Rick Archer: Attempt to rest in anything, because it’s not an effortless spontaneous resting, but still, you know, the the behaviors can be kind of strange. I mean, we could be alluding here to world famous teachers, who had you know, Shakti pouring out of their every pore, and you sit in their presence and you feel transformed. And that then that, then there’s this strange behavior that gets on Earth maybe years later, you know, some revelation takes place, and you find out they’ve been doing this or that overshadow the period, I’ve been saying they appear to get overshadowed by things or they appear to indulge in. You know, yeah. And so And yet, you know, they’ll come back down to the lecture hall the next day and be bright as a lighthouse. So you kind of it confuses people, you know, and they wonder what’s going on? Why is this? Why does this almost seem to be the norm rather than the exception?
Lesley Skylar: Right? Because I think because of what we’ve been speaking about, the purification is not sufficient, and possibly that that individual didn’t go through enough really deep practice if the practices are sufficiently deep and rigorous and disciplined. One learns to look at yourself in 360 degrees you learn to observe not only your own patenting of mind and the way you relate to your emotions and your the felt sense of your experience, but also your actions. And if there’s been deep enough immersion in really clear teachings, that that kind of awareness will alert you to your own To actions that are going off off the track, and if one isn’t doing that, it’s because there’s there hasn’t been sufficient, you know, practice or clarification of some of these, these sticking points in the endless shadow? And one can say, well, you know, why is that the case? Well, it’s a deep process. And that’s why they are so few that really come to a place where these are real purification, it’s a, it’s a really holistic thing, every facet of the being has to be considered from, you know, eating one’s relationship to other human beings to sexuality to the self sends its multi dimensional locking, it’s not just about learning about the nature of reality, the entire human being needs to be sort of purified in the light of truth on all these dimensions. And that takes a long time, it takes very clear and deep locking, you know, at certain points, I think, if we look at Rushall scene at the moment, there are a number of teachers that I think are, you know, they’re very well rounded, they’re really deep, they’re established, and they’re not going off the, you know, they’re not going off the track anywhere. And there are some really good ones. So it is possible. Yeah. But, you know, similarly, if, if things are not being clarified enough, then there’s a tendency to go off the track. And of course, if one has a group of peers that you can get feedback from, that would would help that situation to or a lineage that that can get feedback, because then before the issue becomes significant, it can be nipped in the bud. Yeah. And the robe, teachers almost, if we can call them that ended up coming to a place where they think they’re beyond that kind of feedback. And that’s already a sign of, you know, lack of humility there. Because none of us beyond that, you know, as soon as we think we beyond any potential of the ego having any impact again, I think that’s a real sign of delusion. It is not
Rick Archer: true. Yeah. Yes, it’s a lot of the people, a lot of the most sort of notorious examples of this didn’t have any peers, because they were the top dog, you know, exactly. And so, in many cases, they actually forbade any kind of critical feedback, you know, and people would get booted out of the ashram if they offered it. You know, they kind of painted themselves into a corner. Well, we’re not gonna spend a whole interview talking about this one point, but it is an important one. And here’s a letter an email that came in from a listener, Barry Wadsworth in Sacramento, he asks, it is said that in the Zen tradition that true cultivation occurs, once one enters the gateless barrier, that is directly experiences no self impermanence, and the truth of dissatisfaction or suffering, if you agree, what practices are involved in further cultivation, cultivation? And what does this lead to?
Lesley Skylar: Alright, well, I would leave aside them to talk about no self for right now. Because that, in my view, is a very, very deep stage. And I think very few people in my experience have got there. So we’ll leave that for the moment. The way I see it, and the way I teach it, is that it’s not the ego self, or the separate self that has to do this work of purification that we’re speaking about. It’s actually the light of truth itself, there are certain practices, we can use that open the awareness, to accessing different, you could call them states of being a kind of state that you will experience, for example, in really deep meditation, or in some kind of an awakening, it’s a different, we could say state of consciousness, it’s not the sort of separate self sense that is suddenly looking at itself trying to fix itself. In fact, quite the opposite is the case, you know, we are nothing that we appear to be everything that is, is consciousness is God, I believe those are very profound points. So we can then that gives us an insight into to seeing that the consciousness that we live with in conventional reality, is a pinprick in the realm of what’s actually possible. And the reason we don’t access these deeper states is because we, we haven’t learned how to do that. So I would say that the practices need to involve a teaching of people of how to race in this deeper place that they can access in their own being it’s not a special place isn’t doesn’t isn’t the province of special teachers or human beings. It’s, it’s our own true nature. So one of the practices that helps really deeply with us and I’m sure you can attest to this from your team background, Nick, Rick is, is meditation I think meditation He has a very profound and important practice. It’s something I advise everybody that I work with to do. Because what we do there is we learn to actually access, you could say a part of our being the deepest part of our being, that isn’t subject to mind and read with really deeply a meditation, we are practicing no relationship to thought and feeling that results in a quieting quieting of the mind and almost a sense of objectivity as zooming out, we can then begin to actually embody, not just conceptually, we’re not going to some kind of spaciousness in our mind, we actually have to feel the depths of this higher vibrational frequency or different state of consciousness in our own being, the heart rate drops, the being quiet, you feel the heart soft, open and undefended. And that kind of stilling of the mind and ability to learn to practice no relationship to thought and feeling is a real gateway to deepening as one example. And there are a number of other practices that I work with and I teach. Some of the most profound I think, actually come from the sanction tradition, which is a form of a type of Zen Buddhist Buddhism that has been taught by masters in Tibet in the fall. And that focuses very much on direct experience, if there are practices that orient you, and teach you essentially mimicking abiding realization, to live live your everyday life, when you’re cooking your breakfast and having a shower and going to work and talking to your family, from the same depth of consciousness or awareness that you do in a meditative state. So when you deeply meditate, that same clarity, that same spaciousness that you encounter, we want to translate that into your everyday lived experience. And we have various practices one can do to help do that. So one ends up living life as a kind of awaking meditation, where instead of dipping into an out of the sort of contracted consciousness of the sacred self, we learn to bring the depth of the consciousness that we encounter in meditation, for example, into all these other areas of our lives, that’s essentially what embodiment involves, and then you you run aground in all sorts of problems as you do that, because we are so you know, we so deeply conditioned to relate to reality, through our minds through our thoughts and our feelings. And this virtual reality world that we create. By living in a basically in a bubble in our head. Abiding realization is living outside of that bubble, it’s actually living in reality, as a whole. And the center of this bubble really is a self sense. So practices like meditation, begin to orient you and teach you to access to some degree, the consciousness that’s actually beyond this bubble of your mind, the mediated reality of your own mind. Without that, no deepening is really going to happen, because these patterns of the self sense of incredibly strong. And I think one of the most profound things I think I’ve learned in these sort of decades I’ve been involved in this work, is I’ve learned to really appreciate and honor the depths of the egoic structure. That is a it’s a very profound piece of work that we’re dealing with there. And anybody who underestimates what they’re dealing with, will end up you know, falling, falling into traps and, you know, running aground in their own understanding, because they haven’t properly seen what’s actually there. And how deeply, deeply deeply we are imprinted and conditioned, largely unconsciously actually, to take the position of itself. So these ready practices like some of those Longshan practices and meditation, begin to orient us to a different way of being and that creates a doorway or pathway to a different different way of functioning. And it also, you know, reconfigures the whole being it’s the egoic structure is not just a thought I am separate self, if it was that simple, you know, we’d have the whole half the planet enlightened, but it’s a very complex structure, which includes emotions, think includes the felt experience, the body, the energetic system, the neural networks, the nervous system, you know, it has been conditioned from birth. So we have decades, you know, trillions and trillions of repetitions of certain patterns of thinking that are basically imprinted in the way the mind functions. And that’s why the ghost structure is so challenging to really work with because it’s not Just a matter of saying, Well, who is the I? Oh, yes, I know, I’m not separate, I had that one experience. And people say, Well, how come I can’t sustain that view? Right? Because the view that you conditioned in actually holds the old egoic. View basically in place and the practices that allow you to access a different part of your being, begin to create a pathway to finding your way out of that entanglement of the egoic structure. So with our practices, I, I’ve never really seen it happen. I’m not saying that it can’t. But
Rick Archer: some people have spontaneous awakenings without practices, but like you did, but then usually, right, they need to do something in order to stabilize and integrate, you know that and make it a permanent living reality. And that’s
Lesley Skylar: exactly that’s what I know. Right? So I, by no manner of means was I enlightened at age not and I can assure you, I had just as everybody else’s I had my full fair share of issues and problems and self doubt, and all sorts of things that I had to contend with. And that was the process of embodiment that I had to then work through to, to almost come back to, and also deepened what I had originally seen it, you know, it was an it took me decades to do that it wasn’t a matter of a couple of days, or weeks or months even, it was a long process.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I just want to count on a couple things you said and then ask a question or two? Well, one is I like your emphasis on experience, because a lot of people become top heavy, and they read a lot of books and watch a lot of YouTube videos and stuff. And, and so they kind of begin to hypnotize themselves into thinking that the understanding of gaining from all this is equivalent to the experience that, you know, Ramana or somebody else was actually having in a much more visceral way, not just not just an understanding. So there’s that. And then your reference to the physiology, I think, is really good, because, you know, physiologists tell us that any mental activity or state of consciousness, even major stages is waking, dreaming, and sleeping, have very distinct physiological correlates, waking the physiology of waking is is unlike the physiology of sleeping, as the experience of waking is unlike the experience of sleeping, and the same will be true of Enlightenment or higher states of consciousness. If they are radically different, subjective ways of experiencing life experiencing the world, then there ought to be there has to be radically different physiological functioning, which could be and which many studies are trying to measure and have done. So I’ve done to a pretty great degree, but I’m sure they can do a lot more research. So and the reason you say it might take decades, is that your entire physiology doesn’t get transformed in a moment. You know, they say we replace pretty much all of our cells every seven years. And you know, and then people are talking about neuroplasticity where the brain can change. But all that takes time, and the physiology can be dramatically and profoundly restructured, but it’s gonna take time.
Lesley Skylar: Right. And that’s why the emphasis on practices I think, are really important. If you look at individuals say in the last 100 years, who have truly come to a place of abiding realisation, both deceased teachers on those still in the body at the moment, you will find that all of them have done significant or most of them have done really significant practices. Maybe they had a spontaneous awakening, but then they spent 10 years in a cave or Exactly, exactly, I do Shanti many others. So if you look deeply at the history of these individuals, you’ll see that there is deep practice deep looking and evolved. And the reason for that is exactly as we were just speaking about is because the patterning needs to be dissolved through repetition of a different state of consciousness, we have to immerse ourselves. In this you could say, you know, different state of being different state of consciousness is completely different vibrational frequency, and when you when you learn to attune to it, you can feel it in your own being. It’s what some people call transmission. And that you can do that by commanding it into your experience, like, you know, the mind decides, well, I want that now. It doesn’t work like that. It’s like anything that in life where you have to learn something, like I want to be a grown up, right. Exactly, exactly. Or, you know, I want to be a master shift right now or, you know, world class pianist exactly anything takes practice it’s you know, in in their practice is trial and error you learn where the erroneous views are, you purify things that you’re holding on to, there’s a deeper and deeper surrender as you engage with these practices to watch to that which is your own true nature, which is completely different state of consciousness. It’s You know, it’s entirely different different to the to conventional consciousness. And the practices allow you to literally reconfigure the being someone’s brain almost begins to think and function in a different way, which impacts the nervous system really does, literally. And you know, as you’ve, as you’ve mentioned, many studies on meditation and other things are showing that to be true. So the repetition of, and the repetition of the accessing of these deep states is absolutely crucial to rewiring the being and reconstituting the being if one is interested in any kind of abiding realisation, it’s not going to be done without practice. So
Rick Archer: yeah, there’s also a safety issue you wouldn’t want to have be you be, you wouldn’t want to experience overnight, what you’re going to transformation, you’re going to undergo over 3040 years or what you would be fried to a crisp, I mean, you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t be able to function. So there has to be this incremental modification, you know, and so that it’s integrated at every step of the way, I’ll give you a little metaphor, which might illustrate this for people in India, maybe even now, but they used to dye cloth by dipping the white cloth and let’s say, red dye or something, and then they take it out and bleach it in the sun, and it would lose most of its color due to the bleaching. And then they dip it again, and then they bleach it in the sun. And again, it would lose most of its color, but a little bit more would remain. And they repeat that process until it, you know, became just as read in the sun as an stayed that way as it as it was when it was in the die. So you can think of that as a metaphor for spiritual practice. Right?
Lesley Skylar: Right, very much. So. And the other thing about practice, Rick, is that, you know, people think as well, well, I’ll just quickly do meditation and get a book on whatever assumption and quickly practice that it doesn’t work that way, either. Because what one is doing here is, it can be a beginning point, but one is actually doing is learning to access a completely different state of consciousness. If those you know, we can use those words, it’s not as simple as simply saying, Well, I’m just going to close my eyes sit quietly with my spine erect. And that’s going to be equivalent to meditation. You know, I work with many people. And I have seen in my own experience, that even people who are very experienced in this terrain, people who have meditated for 10 years, 15 years, they can discover at a certain point in their own journey as their own capacity deepens as their own understanding deepens, that actually something like meditation, they’ve even wrongly engaged for large periods of those 10 years, they use meditation, for example, as a way to grasp that or get to states of bliss or peace, or, you know, the ways of orienting that the mind will still grab on to, on separate self, since will still use these practices, to try to get to get to push and pull to avoid certain things, you know, which is already going function. Ego functions normally. And so those things continue in spiritual practices. So the teacher and the teaching them, if one is working with spiritual community, helps to then give you specific feedback to see where you, you know where you’re going wrong, a teacher can hear by the way, someone is describing their experience over time. And by the results being achieved, whether you’re actually stuck in a particular thing, or misinterpreted aspect of the practice, or whether your mind or your ego, it’s I’m using these words interchangeably, my ego separate self sense, is actually the one doing the practice, and that you’re not really accessing this very deep state of consciousness. So you know, one could meditate for 10 years, but be wasting your time, if it’s not being done correctly. And similarly with all the other practices. So, which is why, you know, in the days of old, the Masters only gave these teachings to people that they actually taught in person they didn’t, you know, write on a piece of manuscript for whatever or script and simply send it out to people. People have to be coached and mentored and given very direct feedback, to actually optimize and deepen and, you know, create a Write, write practice. So again, practice isn’t as easy as it appears. It definitely needs to be coached in my experience for it to be really deep. I’ll give you
Rick Archer: an objection to practice that you sometimes hear in new Advaita circles, you know, people say sometimes, practice is only going to reinforce the notion of a practice or and that you are already that so why do you need to do anything to become that which you already are? You’re just reinforcing some sense of it. ego or individuality by sitting down and doing something, what do you say to that?
Lesley Skylar: Right? Well, that might very well be the case and probably is at the beginning of your practice. But here’s the point. There’s no other way that I’m aware of. And you know, anybody who’s teaching has looked into these things yourself. And if we look back over two 3000 years of human history, we have access to all the deepest teachings that have been given, you know, from the beginning, you will punish shots and the Bhagavad Gita and the things that the wishes wrote in, you know, 2000 years ago. So when we talk about practice and spiritual teaching, we’re not just talking about like me for myself, a sample of one, why do you shun to revert spiral, these individuals, we’ve all engaged really deeply across the board to see what’s there. And it’s very clear that if you don’t engage with some kind of practice, that people can test it out for themselves, you will get nowhere. And the reason for that is because the patenting is so strong, we are so deeply conditioned on all these levels of the being, to relate to reality from a certain viewpoint. That viewpoint is not under the control of your personal or your mind, you cannot simply wish yourself deeper or you know, decide that you’re going to be enlightened in a week’s time and that and have it be so. So what the practices do, even though in the beginning, they may, I wouldn’t say reinforce, they are simply doing what normal people are doing. In any case, they’re not doing anything worse. But what they will show you if you’re a diligent rigorous practice, practitioner, is soon and especially with the help of teachings or teacher, you will begin to see where you’re going wrong in your practice. And so as Ramana Maharshi says, The reason for efforts is ultimately to see that there is no effort needed. But you can skip over that you can bypass the practice and jump to the final point, in the same way as you can, you know, train yourself to become an Olympian by wishing it was so reading a book, actually have to engage in the errors and the problems and through that, what you begin to see is where you need to optimize where you need to let go. And, you know, ultimately, it’s all a process of dissolution.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And, you know, I mean, sometimes maybe somebody has tried to practice or two, and maybe they didn’t enjoy it that much. And all this talk about practices is making things. But they don’t have to be effortful, and they don’t, they can be very delightful to experience. I mean, you know, I’ve been meditating a couple hours a day on average for almost 50 years. And it’s never taken discipline. And believe me, I was not known as a disciplined person. When I start this, all my friends thought I was gonna just quit and a week or two and beyond my next fad, but it was just so transformative and so enjoyable from day one, that I’ve never missed a sitting and all these years. So practice can be a joy, it’s something you look for, it can be something you look forward to every day, it’s not, it’s not a, you know, burdensome kind of thing, necessarily. I mean, some might be, but then they aren’t all.
Lesley Skylar: I totally agree with that. And you know, when you see what the benefits of the practices are, then it’s very clear how really important and useful they aren’t, you know, they can be incredibly illuminating. So, you know, practices would include self inquiry, so I’m very big on self inquiry, as an adjunct to these other practices we’ve been speaking about. And that’s thrilling, there’s nothing more interesting, there’s nothing more routing, than to really begin to discover the depths of your own beingness the nature of reality itself mean what could be a more interesting thing to inquire into. And, you know, this kind of inquiry is not a conceptual inquiry, it’s an inquiry, that one can discover it in the depths of your own being in your own experience over time. So, ultimately, it’s all pretty thrilling. I mean, most of the people that I’ve seen or people I work with find the journey so called absolutely thrilling, it’s something that is astoundingly beautiful, you know, when when one opens up depths of your own being, you see begin to see shifts in the way that you perceive the world. That is just like nothing that you can encounter. You know, anywhere in the world, no pursuit, no hobby, no endeavor is in any way comparable to this. I mean, when you know when seeds that everything is beloved, everything is precious, everything is beautiful, these beautiful spiritual points that one can read about that say, everything is one will come to experience that in your own being there is nothing was astounding, you know, your heart explodes you your whole being shifts, which is you know why often people have come to these really deep places of abiding your life changes radically often because your point of view is not just something that is some abstract thing that you look out there, every aspect of the being. And the way, you know, one relates to reality shifts, to the point where one doesn’t see the other, no one sees everything really as a kind of reflection of a oneness, which, so, if a few practices are going to help you come to this kind of depth of understanding, a true homecoming, you know, people look for love and happiness and achievement to their deepest self, well, there’s only one place you can get that there’s only one solution for all of that. And that’s, you know, to actually come home to your own beingness. And, yeah, so,
Rick Archer: I agree. I mean, I think that what we’re talking about here is the greatest of all human endeavors, and of all scientific explorations. I mean, Elon Musk wants to colonize Mars. And that’s interesting. But sort of, and, you know, and we want to understand how the universe works through quantum mechanics, or, you know, various other fields. And that’s all great, we should keep doing those things. But if we don’t know who we are, and if, let me just throw in another angle. And that is that Elan musk, by the way is a regular meditator but but um, you could think of the human mind and nervous system as the ultimate scientific instrument, it’s able to explore levels of reality, far more profound than any instrument that scientists have been able to construct. Even a single cell is more complex than pretty much anything scientists have been able to construct. So great. We have the Large Hadron Collider, let’s use it. Let’s see if we can, you know, prove the Higgs boson and whatnot. But we each possess something more marvelous than the Large Hadron Collider, let’s use its full potential and see what that will result in in terms of our own personal experience. You know, I mean, the guys in Geneva, they say that found the Higgs boson, great, I don’t even understand what that means. doesn’t do much for me personally. But if I can use this instrument, to the fullest extent of its capacity, or its potential, it’s going to be a completely transformative thing in my life. And I’m speaking obviously, of everyone’s left.
Lesley Skylar: Exactly, yeah, totally agree. Totally agree. And the interesting thing about any kind of awakening or opening, it seems to create almost a sense of a calling, much like I had, we were talking about, you know, when I went off to the ashrams, it happens differently for different people, but there’s almost a felt responsibility to actually live into the fullness of what you’ve seen to, with integrity and authenticity, to actually express and love that. And that seems innate in this deeper consciousness. It’s, it’s a manifestation of that of the consciousness itself that once once you have a taste of it, it sort of beckons it calls you it calls you, oh, nothing else is gonna surprise.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a verse in The Gita, which says, even a little of this Dharma delivers from great fear. But it’s, you’re right. I mean, it’s not just this aspiration that we’re describing this endeavor is not just an individual thing. It’s It’s God working through anyone who wishes to sign up for the project. And it’s working through everyone, obviously. But if you become a conscious participant, in what I regard as the sort of the deep evolutionary trajectory that has been evolving the universe for 14 billion years, you it really accelerates, you know, that divine intelligence working in and through you.
Lesley Skylar: Right, totally agree. And, you know, the beautiful thing is the journey often started for people as something that they want to get for themselves, they want to get rid of suffering, you know, they will not find a way out of it, and that’s fine, or whatever, right? And that, that will purify itself over time, motive will shift over time where there’s a deeper and deeper connection to truth itself and to just wanting to live this itself as one is purified. And, you know, ultimately, we discover that the journey we thought we were on individually, to come home to ourselves is actually something completely different about it’s literally awareness. Coming home to its own mean, it’s awareness cup becoming conscious of its own beingness and they ultimately isn’t a personal dimension to that at all. You know, the deeper one goes, the more the personal is just a memory of something that one felt in the past. It just isn’t like that, you know, you, you literally are lived by this deeper consciousness that doesn’t have a cell center, it’s some I’ve speak about it as a center, the center and I. And I felt that from the first experience, a deep experience I had at age nine or so. And it was one of the things that profoundly confused me, you know, I, I couldn’t understand how I ended up in this particular body. And I remember as even a teenager, and many times in my life, it’s almost as if what had happened is they’ve been such a shift in the being that I then had to integrate the level of form, not the other way around. It’s like, I’d landed in the depths, and I actually had to integrate the form whereas, you know, many people work from the, the sort of shallow end into the depth. And so there was such a felt sense of oneness that was prevalent, and it was like, How did I end up here, I couldn’t quite work out how this Consciousness is awareness, seem to be specifically only able to feel sensitive to tasting, touching smell, through this particular vessel. It’s like, well, why
Rick Archer: why is it localized? It’s not localized in and of itself. So why, why? I mean, you’re not seeing things through my eyes, or through the dog’s eyes, or through, you know, the billions of other eyes and ears and so on in this in this world, or trillions in this universe. So how does the ocean manage to get so squeezed into a drop that? Is that what you’re getting? Right?
Lesley Skylar: Right? What would it be, you know, even the sense that the five senses and the way the body functions, it’s a very deep part of the illusion of being separate self, because, you know, it appears as if all I can do is taste, smell and see and hear from this particular vessel, and then deepens the illusion of being, you know, a separate self. And so I had the the opposite view, I knew that I wasn’t a separate self, but yet it appeared, you know, when I didn’t know what was going on. Yet. When I hadn’t really clarified this, it appeared as if, hmm. When I touch this only I can feel it, how does it work, I think was the most astounding thing like even Yes, sitting? How did it end up that I’m actually sitting having a discussion with Reagan, all these beautiful people around the world? Who listening? How did that happen? I mean, over decades, this is the kind of thing that that, you know, points us in the direction of the mystery of being you see, ultimately, you know, youth, spiritual teachers and pointers, and they point but ultimately, the depth of what the says is so far beyond our mind, you know, we, we see with, with the deepening in this journey, that I mean, nothing I ever thought about this, even as I was grappling to try and make sense of my experience, and forward, nothing I ever thought about what it would look like, ended up looking that way. It’s an like, even now, it’s a mystery that is very, very difficult to speak about. And yet, it’s felt and it’s lived in the being. And so yes, there are still times even though I’ve done all this work, and, you know, teaching people and whatever, every now and again, it’s still the mystery, the the or the beauty of justice. And, you know, the the profundity of the fact that it can appear as as it for itself, but but it’s not here, I am apparently talking to Rick. And yet I know that what he’s talking here is awareness is actually conversing with itself. It’s, it’s a sublime mystery. It’s extraordinary, beautiful, and it speaks to the intelligence that that we are that is a source energy.
Rick Archer: Okay, now, a couple of questions are coming in from us from listeners, I want to ask those but since we’re on this topic, and anyone who listens to this show regularly knows that this is kind of a Zen koan for me trying to figure out this self separate self thing. I did one thing with Adi Shanti, and Susanna Murray, dedicated to this topic, we’re falling away of a sense of separate self. And so let me go on for just a minute about this, then have you respond? I mean, in physics, they would tell you that anything which appears to be physical, like my fist, if you go down microscopically enough, you find that there’s nothing physical whatsoever, there’s no fist, there’s nothing resembling a fist, it’s all just up quarks down quarks and electrons. You know, there’s no individuality. There’s, that’s the or even more fundamentally than that perhaps there is some vacuum state or unified field from which quarks and electrons arise. So there is and that would be the ultimate reality. And if it’s the ultimate reality, it’s probably the only reality and yet there’s this appearance of manifestation. And and there are various levels of manifestation between the pure and manifest and all grosser realms? So wouldn’t it be true to say in terms of separate self and not not having a self and so on that, you know, your your your person, but you’re not only a person, in fact, you’re not fundamentally a person, yeah, essentially a person, but there’s still some kind of manifest manifest value of personhood, of selfhood, or whatever that makes living possible. Would that would that be true or not so much to your experience and understanding,
Lesley Skylar: not so much. You know, what I found, as the steepened here is that the sense of self that I thought I was, has radically shifted. And they were periods where we I felt like you’ve just described where there’s some way that we can make the sort of fit. But the deeper one goes, one sees ultimately, then what you presume as itself. It’s none other than a collection of very complex and very beautiful when often meaningless in any way, a very complex and very beautiful identification with all the content of experience. So the way that I explained this, is that all there is is consciousness, consciousness arises and manifests this body mind that we call Rick, when it arises, you know, in infancy, what happens, because this consciousness arises in a vessel that’s not yet fully developed, the conditioning occurs where the consciousness becomes identified with the content of the awareness. So every thought and feeling we have, and that starts at, you know, as an infant, maybe even in utero. So what we what the consciousness really has learned to do, is really identify with every thought form and every feeling, and we call that my experience. So the question is, who was there and why that’s having this experience. If you look really deeply, and over time, it becomes revealed that the only thing that’s going on in there in truth is that consciousness is manifesting a body mind. This body mind is, you know, the thoughts produced, you’re not producing and we don’t create our own thoughts. But through a very complex interaction of this body, mind with its environment. The thoughts become conditioned and patent in a particular way. And of course, that way, the thoughts and feelings and experience arises also connected to genetics and epigenetics, that’s a very complex thing. Basically, we’ve got a bundle of consciousness that’s completely identified with the content of its own of its experience. As we go deeper spiritually there, entanglement unwinds and we can come to a point where we see that what you call the person actually is a body mind with certain DNA, but the essential identity there is pure consciousness. There is,
Rick Archer: I understand that the essential identity is pure conscious,
Lesley Skylar: there isn’t an entity in the cold Rick, there isn’t something that you can identify even as a body mind is the body mind,
Rick Archer: body, why not a subtle body? One sort of a Jeeva which which perhaps, trans migrates from body to body, and people talk of Ascended Masters, you know, enlightened beings who are still right, you know, even though they became enlightened, they’re still functioning on from some level of creation or something like that.
Lesley Skylar: Right? How to explain those things. But if we look and feel deeper, what we see is that these lessons based on anything that looks like itself, there is not an entity and even these things that we we talk about, like reincarnation or Ascended Masters. Looking from a certain view, you can see that actually, some of those are pretty simplistic attempts to explain something complex that we don’t understand that, from where I sit, I don’t see reincarnation at all. I see energy, I see a oneness that is manifesting in millions of form that trillions of forms infinite forms. I think what causes the issue is that as human beings, we have this highly developed brain that’s capable of self reflection. And that creates a real sticking point there. If we had to look at nature, for example, and look at a willow tree in a tree. We wouldn’t be having this dilemma. We have oak and we have Willow they two different forms. But you don’t presume that these Mr. Oak inside the Oakland Mr. Willow inside, you see there’s a way and one may not be aware of it until you look deeply but there’s a deep unconscious presumption of a kind of an entity that A self that actually is a kind of an entity somehow, in a mysterious way sort of inside this body mind, there is no such thing it doesn’t, it doesn’t occur. So in a way, you and I are like an oak tree on a willow tree, there’s an oak tree, he has a willow tree, there’s a blue rock and has a brown rock. We are simply forms that consciousness manifests. And these particular forms happen to have a very highly developed, you know, fat brain function, which makes us capable of self reflection. That’s the function that creates this apparent identity doesn’t occur in any other other loving forms that we are aware of. And the deeper you go, the more you see that that whole thing is an illusion. It doesn’t exist in the way we think it does at all. The deeper you go, the more you see that there is just lifeforce there is just life energy, everything is God and it’s equally God. And when I when I’m saying equally, I don’t just mean Rick and me and everybody watching, you know, all those engaged in spiritual practice. I’m talking about an earthworm and a rock and a cloud and Jupiter, and the fullness, all of it is equally a pure manifestation of this consciousness.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a couple of points here. I don’t know, I’m not going to belabor this too long because I could go on all day. But firstly, a couple of Sanskrit things in In Vedanta, there’s one term called mithya, which means dependent reality. And they use the example of jewelry or pots. You know, pots are made of clay. And really, there’s no pot, there’s only clay, there’s a form of a pot, which you can do things with. And so they use that to sort of just, you know, come to terms with the fact that we have all these apparent forms and body minds and everything else, which are essentially nothing other than God are nothing other than Brahman, even though they appear to have forms. But so there’s a sort of a concession to relative to relative reality, for the sake of practicality, you know, pots jewelry, whatever. We we know that ultimately they don’t exist, but relatively we say Yeah, fine. And and then there’s the Ultra, the notion another one, another term of Leisha video, which means faint remains of ignorance. And it said that without some faint remains, which is sometimes metaphorically described as like grease on your palm, after you’ve thrown off a butter ball, but your palm is still greasy, with without that faint remains, living wouldn’t be possible, there has to be some ability to distinguish between body and wall and body and rock, and whatnot. And again, in the same breath, they would say, ultimately, there is no self but relatively, there’s some kind of manifestation and perhaps even a subtle self, just just as there’s a gross body, there could be a subtle body, and the whole package makes it possible to live and to to embody the ultimate reality as a living reality. And just before I stopped, just, here’s a quote from Winnie the Pooh, I think this must have been er, the quote is, there must be somebody there because somebody must have said nobody. Go ahead,
Lesley Skylar: right? Well, you know, this is a, this is a really deep inquiry, it’s not actually possible to settle this matter. Conceptually, they aren’t really unlock, it’s interesting to have this discussion, and maybe those listening might be intrigued to look deeper. And I would encourage you to do so with deep practices, pointers, and, you know, certain kinds of teaching or teachers. One can be pointed to actually explore this territory, for example, no self territory, I work with that with people who have come to the stage where they’re ready to do those inquiries. Not before because there’s, there’s a certain readiness and capacity that has to be there. Otherwise, it’s just a conceptual. It’s a conceptual inquiry. And, you know, all I can give people then are new beliefs that they will attach to like, okay, now I know I don’t have a self. Well, that’s completely beside the point. No, self is not an experience. It’s more like a point of view. And it’s not one you can will yourself into through reading a book or watching some YouTube videos. In some process of dissolution thick,
Rick Archer: you might begin to feel around, maybe I do have a self after all,
Lesley Skylar: even that, you see, that doesn’t pertain to itself. It just means that these, you know, this particular body mind is an aching tooth of this body mind. And who’s experiencing that? Your awareness itself? That’s what I would say,
Rick Archer: yeah. But the awareness is, but you’re experiencing that toothache not even though you and I are the same awareness. The the toothache is being felt there in Vancouver, not here in Iowa. And so, so how come this is what you were saying earlier? How come universal awareness seems to have been localized into one body in one place?
Lesley Skylar: Right? That’s a very confusing thing that you can own Come to see in your own experience. And what I’m saying is that it doesn’t, it doesn’t refer to itself, there isn’t a self, the self is really a it’s a conclusion that we’ve drawn unconsciously due to the way this consciousness arises in this particular body mind. And so when you say, you know, consciousness is arising here as Lesley or, you know, there’s a lazily consciousness, I would say, No, that’s not true. There isn’t a leisurely consciousness, I don’t even see this as a fragment of consciousness, it, there isn’t actually a leads me in the way that we think there is there is this body mind, like there’s an oak tree that we don’t call the oak tree, Mr. Oak, as I said, we just call it an oak tree, there’s a body mind here. And yes, it’s more complex than an oak tree, it’s got a different kind of a brain, etc, etc. And different kinds of capacities. But that doesn’t imply that there is an entity inside the court itself. And with certain inquiries, and looking very deeply, and if our, if our awareness has expand and stabilized sufficiently in certain areas, you can come to see this in your own experience. But it’s not something you know, I see some particular groups are looking at doing this, you know, as a weekend inquiry or something, it’s not, in my view, it’s not in the nature of that you’re just left with a whole lot of beliefs and, you know, dialogue, that could be riveting. Interesting, but
Rick Archer: well, okay, so I’m going to move on, because I’ve been thinking about this for years, and we’re not going to resolve it now. And I believe, it’s just that I don’t totally get it as fully as I believe it can be gotten. But But I find it interesting and perhaps beneficial for me to keep pondering it, maybe. But I don’t want to spend your whole time.
Lesley Skylar: No, no, no, I but I just if I could just add one point, right. So what I’m basically saying is the reason that you can’t see it in the way that you know, you’ve been pondering it for years, and you’ve looked at pointers, and here we are discussing it, it’s because of the point of view that you’ve got, it’s because of certain things that you are still holding on to or attached to. And when those are pointed out to you very directly, and you work with that in a certain kind of a way you can come to see something else. There are certain way types of inquiries, and really the point of one can use to show you specifically where you are still holding on to certain erroneous views that will allow you to shift your point of view because I know you have the background and you know, some of the other practices like meditation, that then allows the point of view to shift where you can begin to see something from a literally a different point of view, and then it’ll start to dawn. It’s like, Oh, my goodness, you mean, therefore this point is we’re referring to and that’s been my experience, you know, over a long period of time, the dawning of the meaning or the the reality of certain points that I retained 20 years ago. It’s like, Oh, my goodness, I wish thought I knew what that means. Now, yeah, now I actually see it, you know, it was Jesus said, You know, when he came to a point where this was a biting realization for Him, if we could use those as terms, it was like, now I have new eyes, you know, I’m reborn and born as a child. I mean, that’s literally what it feels, you see something you’ve read 1000 times, but it’s seen from a different, completely different vantage point. And that point of view is not a mental thing that you can get the conceptually, it’s a whole being function. And the only way we can get there, in my view, is through a process of dissolution. It’s not about attaining anything, it’s not, you can’t read 10 More books or ponder it again. In fact, I don’t think you’ll get there that way. But the certain kinds of practices that help in the true dissolution, like some absorption practices, for example, and certain kinds of pointing, or possibly even certain shadow aspects, there may be certain tendencies, you have to cling to a self sense, and that will color your view quite considerably. So it kind of locks you into a point of view with this is just not you can’t see it. It’s not within your purview.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. For me, it’s kind of a both end thing. I mean, you know, there’s, there’s no one home and at the same, well, to put it succinctly, I often feel like, I’m everywhere. I’m nowhere and I’m right here. And all those three things coexist quite nicely. Beautiful. That’s an abiding thing. And maybe the maybe there’s an ebb and flow between, you know, balance between the three components, sometimes one seems to be dominant than the other, but they’re all there to some degree all the time. For what it’s worth, okay, so, let’s not beat this one to death too much more. We’ll come back to it. Maybe someday. Maybe I’ll even do a session with you sometime. You can See if you crack that shell, but ask you a few questions that people have sent in. So this is from Tim in Vernon, Canada. I don’t know if that’s anywhere near you. Tim asks, prior to directly experiencing the truth of ourselves, is there any aspect or quality of our relative conditioned experience that we can actually trust as we attempt to open?
Lesley Skylar: Not really, okay. I would say basically, the whole thing is an illusion. However, having said that, I want to add that that is not just a kind of a wasteful, you know, I will lift everybody’s walking around as a kind of any go itself, what a waste of energy, what a waste of time, what a, what a useless situation. This, this is the paradox of really deep, you know, realization is you see that, even though that is the case, what is true is that being who’s completely identified with the limited consciousness with ego consciousness, is pure consciousness itself, the essence, there is pure consciousness. So, I’d want to just add that in otherwise, it sounds, you know, very dismissive and very, I think what we what we come to see, and you see this more as you go deeper and deeper, is, basically there’s nothing in the condition in the condition view or the conventional view, that is true, it’s not just not right. And yet there is the essences there, it’s just been covered over by all of these layers. And there are times when maybe individuals who’ve never done any spiritual practice might come into contact or feel that essence. And sometimes people feel it in the form of an intuition or a sense of connection with the oneness of all when they’re watching a sunset or something. So it’s, it doesn’t mean that because the conditioning is very strong, that there is absolutely no access to essence essence is completely there. Sure. It’s just very hard to access it. But in terms of something that you can trust, no, the only thing I would say, the orienting point for someone who’s not done any spiritual practice is your own intuition. However, having said that, what your own intuition is, when you still, you know, identify identified with separate self is very colored by your own point of view. So it’s not really intuition, it’s a kind of a steal, it’s kind of a, an appendage, really, of your ego, but still, there may be little, little aspects of the essence that can kind of be felt through that the light can be felt through that. And you want to trust that, and then someone would encourage you to find a teaching or a teacher that you resonate with, and engage deeply. Because if you simply attempt to deepen, in your own point of view, in your own life, in your own self view, by reading a few books, or whatever, if one is really serious, it’s not going to go deep enough, because what you’re doing is you’re trying to find something with in the point of view that you already existing, it’s like you’re in a bubble, you guys like a bubble, it creates a whole world virtual reality world, I call it you’re looking for truth in your own virtual reality? Well, it’s not possible to do that. Which is why we need teachings and practices like meditation that allow you to begin to access something outside of this bubble meditation does that. And the point isn’t teachings do that they show you the pathway out of your Bubble to something else.
Rick Archer: Good. Okay. Yeah, I mean, the thing you said about intuition, there’s that verse in the Bible about seeing through a glass darkly, you know, and then later on, it becomes clear. So, you know, I mean, pure consciousness is there, we wouldn’t be conscious that we are conscious, but But it’s filtered or occluded to a great idea, and very much legend earlier in our conversation about purification. And we’ve talked about the in the nervous system as a sort of an instrument of the Divine through which that is lived. So the instrument needs to be continually fine tuned and purified and rendered more and more capable of reflecting clearly and fully this sort of inner inner awareness. And there’s a great discussion about this in the in the spiritual literature and you know, talk of Samskaras and kleshas, and exactly sattwa, rajas and tamas and all these excellent Kundalini mechanics and all sorts of explanations as to how the nervous system might not be functioning up to its full capacity for expressing pure awareness and how it might be made better able to do so.
Lesley Skylar: Yeah, I completely agree. Yeah, beautifully said.
Rick Archer: Okay, so here’s another one. from someone named Kranti, in Baltimore, over the six second judging from the last name, it looks like an Indian person. Over the ages, some Yogi’s immediately left the body after the final stage of realization, whereas New Age enlightened people seem to stick to the body until they die naturally. How do you explain this contrasting behavior? I would actually question that question. Because if you read all the Vedic literature and literature of other things, people don’t just check out as soon as they get enlightened, they stick around, usually teach people, so I’m not sure what she means by that. But do you have a response to that question?
Lesley Skylar: Not particularly, I think, again, you know, that, that that particular reference comes from a certain teaching with a certain tradition or a certain point of view, I would
Rick Archer: look around right around you know,
Lesley Skylar: so I think basically, the way I would see it more is that the, you know, the, the body mind, the vessel itself has a certain destiny, that will live itself out, I think, you know, all that actually happens with Enlightenment is that you come to see that you are not the body mind, you are not this vessel that you thought you were, I remain as I am. And the body mind, as Nisargadatta said, continues, its its destiny so that, you know, the destiny of the body is to live until you’re 90 or 100 or 52. And then so be it.
Rick Archer: Right? Okay. Personally, I think it’s, well, I don’t know. It’s necessary, I think for if it’s for those whose destiny it is to stick around to do so. And of course, they don’t choose not to, because it’s their destiny. But if they didn’t, then we wouldn’t have all these great, you know, teachings, teachers who have had such a profound impact on humanity over over 1000s of years. So, so thank God that they don’t just sort of check out as soon as awakening takes place. Here’s a question from David in Grass Valley, what do you feel is the best practice for deepening the experience of pure awareness while strengthening its participation in embodiment?
Lesley Skylar: Right, I would say, one of the zongshen Liberation practices. Now, I don’t know, if David can access that in some way, I can give you a little sense of what I do, I do. But the teachings are very profound. Unfortunately, they not very accessible in terms of literature, because a lot of those teachers didn’t write books in their particular culture, their particular tradition is more an oral tradition, the teacher teaches by mentoring and feeling the energy of the students and working with you to guide you in the, in the practice of these of these things. So there are a few books available. But they’re very much written in the EDM of Tibetan and Nepalese culture, and not particularly accessible to Westerners who don’t understand that culture. So basically, if I could summarize it, it’s, as I was referring to before, what one learns to do with meditation, if one is doing it correctly, is begin to have no relationship to your thoughts and feelings is a practice in meditation where you learn to rest as the spacious awareness that is not contracted down, or identified with particular forms such as thought, and feeling my experience. So what that opens up in you when you want to use meditated and I’m sure you can resonate with us, which is you feel a sense of spaciousness, even though as we sit here together and those watching. If you allow the attention to open beyond your normal, attend to your normal awareness, it’s like okay, he has a glass I’m here I’m listening, I’m sitting in a chair if we just simply sit and relax and without paying attention to anything in particular, any object or what I have to do tomorrow, what I’m doing, you know, next week on my to do list if we just sit and relax and allow the awareness to open up. It’s almost a kind of a feeling of spaciousness. Allow yourself to sink deeply into the body, be very present in the body and allow the attention to open up into a spaciousness, thoughts and feelings might arise in their spaciousness. For right now, we’re not going to pay attention to any of those hooting car might happen outside or someone might knock on the door. Can we just simply hear the more one is practice to doing this, the more what you’re doing is actually, literally physiologically experientially doing this. It’s not a mental exercise, were you sitting in your chair saying, Well, I’m not going to pay attention to thought you feel it’s a whole being feeling of this sense of spaciousness, it’s like the being starts to expand. Like right now you can even feel the awareness expand beyond the body. And just raced out in the field itself, as a kind of soft, open spaciousness of almost like a point of view, like, imagine zooming out, imagine you’re focused very tightly on a, you know, an object as a photographer or something, and you allow the awareness to expand, zooms out. So this is essentially what we’re doing, you’re allowing it, the attention to expand out. And we’ve deeply f the awareness you are, whilst not paying any attention to the thoughts and feelings that are arising.
Rick Archer: So let’s say you’re doing that and then you suddenly realize that you’ve been daydreaming for five minutes, I’ll find something else. When you do that,
Lesley Skylar: right, you simply bring yourself back to the spaciousness that you’re right, you just end that you realize, okay, I was so wrapped up, just simply very quietly, bring yourself back. So not a demeaning of that, or not a beating yourself up for having doing that. It’s like you bring yourself back, the more practice you are doing it, you’re not going to really drift off, you’re simply going to learn to be utterly present, right here. Now, with absolutely no relationship to thought and feeling when it’s gone really deep. That’s what the practice feels like. It’s like you’re doing meditation, but you’re doing it with your eyes open. And here, we’re speaking, it’s much harder to do it with your eyes open. And while you’re speaking, which is why meditation we learn this practice in meditation with eyes closed, quietly on your own, you’re not speaking because as soon as you’re engaged in speaking, all sorts of other impulses and your own condition patterns arise, you notice things in the environment that triggers you, suddenly, the attention is often you know, looking at all these shiny objects around you. So it’s much harder, what is possible to do. So essentially, what you’re doing is you’re, you’re transmuting, or allowing the energy of the meditation to be the energy that you’re relating to the other person with now, as we’re speaking to get soft, open, spacious, clear thoughts and feelings arise. And as you practice with us more deeply, you learn to see what those thoughts and feelings are. And which of them tricky, when which of them sort of kick in certain patterns that will then create almost a hamster wheel situation where the patterning gets stronger and stronger, and you get really drawn into it almost like a negative spiral. So as you’re, you know, learning to see where we triggered and what the patterning is, we learned to let go of that. So instead of, if you understand that there’s just a button being pushed your own button being pushed by a certain event or circumstance or situation arising, it’s possible to a certain point to actually not allow yourself to go in that direction, you simply see, I don’t need my button to be pushed. I know that this is not the patterning that’s arising is actually not me, I know it doesn’t find me or my, the way I am or it’s simply a pattern that I like to sort of identify with. And you know, people do this in all sorts of ways. In life, people who go on a diet or people who learn to ride a bike, or we practicing this fundamental movement, all the time in different ways. In the spiritual practices, it’s just a much more subtle, deeper version of the practice. So we learn to actually not relate to our experience, through attaching to thoughts and feelings and creating a virtual reality world. It defines me in a way by identifying with thoughts and feelings and our own experience. We’ve, we’ve taken this infinite reality, and we’ve condensed it down into a pinprick, and we’ve called it we’ve put it put a flag on it and said, This is ridiculous. This is lazy. This is me, when in fact what’s actually there is an infinite field of consciousness. In a way, it’s an arbitrary marker. The fact that you say Rick is the body mind is, in a way an arbitrary marker. I’m saying the physicality of the body in the five senses is what helps create that illusion. But why do you define your experience is limited to your physicality, you see? Anyway, so these are some of the things you begin to see when you do this. practice, it’s like, okay, none of these patterns that are arising are actually mean. Actually, the awareness that sees the pattern, but not the pattern itself.
Rick Archer: Now, so 1000s of people are gonna listen to this interview. And perhaps we could, let’s round this out a little bit what your what you’ve been saying now, so as to let people give people something, they can actually sit down and try out, they can even pause the interview right now and sit and do this, or they could do it tonight when they get home or something like that. So I want to ask you a couple of questions that that these people might ask to, so they have a little bit more instruction. One would be like, for instance, I asked you about wandering off and thoughts. Now there would be like, let’s say, you’re not wandering off, you’re very much aware that you’re sitting there but you’re feeling sleepy, or you’re feeling anxious, or you feeling bored or feeling antsy, and you don’t feel like sitting there any longer, what should you do them?
Lesley Skylar: Right? So what you would look at is where that movement is arising from. So for example, you feeling bored? What is boredom? Where is that arising from, so I make a distinction between two facets of your being one of the facets, is what is true, it’s this pure infinite field of consciousness that you are the other is a very contracted narrow field, that you’ve defined yourself as in the body mind. So what we want to learn to discriminate between is whether you’re actually acting from the energy and the attention and the point of view of the self sense, or whether that movement that’s arriving is coming from the pure consciousness itself. So when something like boredom is arising, and this is where, you know, one has to look and learn about is, it’s one of the plastic qualities of the ego, to be bored. I will say that pure awareness, it doesn’t have the capacity, it doesn’t get bored. There’s no boredom in pure awareness. So the moment boredom is arising, one knows, without arising from, that’s a patent arising from the self sense. And the patent arising from the self sense, you know, can take the form of boredom, even due to a restlessness that the basically the ego consciousness has, it’s a very restless energy this stuff. Right? It can, it can be at the physiology too. And there’s also a kind of a kind of an inertia, it’s got to flip sides, the egoic energy tends to either be restless, you’ll notice people, some people who are new meditators, for example, will sit down to meditate. And within a few minutes, they need to reach out and check your cell phone or wonder what’s happening on Facebook. Can you see it’s that restless energy? It’s like, the self sense when it’s not practiced enough. It’s very bored with just being so
Rick Archer: restlessness, let’s say, Do you want to try to tune into the physiological counterpart of it? Like, you know, because restlessness and boredom are they have a mental connotation to some extent, but they perhaps also have a physiological counterpart where you’re going to find some agitation in your solar plexus, or some, I don’t know, some tension in your head or something that is corresponding to this unsettled experience you’re having? Do you want to sort of shift your attention to the physiology? Or what would you advise,
Lesley Skylar: I would say, depends on the individual and how pronounced some prevalence issue is, if it’s happening all the time, it sounds like it’s quite a severe, strong pattern, if it’s not what I would generally recommend, and so one has to work with the individual to see what’s what’s needed. But the most the simplest course of action, the simplest advice I can give is to recognize this moment of boredom is not coming from the deepest part of me, it’s not coming from my true nature. It’s not coming from this expansive field of consciousness. It’s a movement of the contracted energy, and therefore, that’s a revelatory thing. You’ve realized, wow, right. Now I’m actually identified with the limited consciousness. So how about I simply let that go. If you have some practice with meditation, a few other practices, I would advise you to simply say, well, so you sitting here, suddenly you feel bored, and the tendency is like, Okay, I gotta reach for my cell phone, or maybe turn on the TV. Because, you know, I want to alleviate this boredom. I would say simply see that you’re actually acting from a limited point of your own consciousness, you’re acting from the contract itself sense. So simply let it go. Thank you very much. I’m not going to do that. And what I would suggest you do with them is see if you can open more deeply into the spaciousness again, like during a meditation for example, if you’re 10 minutes into your meditation You’re feeling restless energy, and you’ve committed to meditate for an hour. Unless you know you’re not a very good practitioner, you’re not going to jump up after 10 minutes and go running. To follow this lower impulse that’s calling you, you’re simply saying, I’ve committed to sit here for an hour, there’s a movement arising in me, it’s my ego, it’s not a true movement. It’s simply a conditioned pattern. So I simply did a go and I open the energy, relax the energy, relax more deeply into the field itself and see if you can simply let it go like you, you know, you would let something go. A car is shooting in the distance, pay no attention to it. So the way I describe this, when I teach meditation, and some of these practices is I say, that ultimately the depth of your consciousness, this deeper part of you, it’s like a really deep ocean. Imagine you’re you’re meditating, are you doing a practice and you’ve got this boredom? What are you are you a leaf or a little lug floating on the surface of this profound ocean or you the ocean itself. Now egoic consciousness tends to be identified with the surface, a little leaf falls, you know, a little bit of boredom comes a thought arises, and we quickly the consciousness of the attention moves to the surface, was immediately there wanting to pay attention to each leaf falling on your surface, what you want to do is recognize, okay, there’s a leaf that’s fallen on my Surface. I’m not that leaf do I need to go and examine every leaf that falls on my surface. So I simply relax and allow myself to race in the depths of the stones that I am. So instead of rushing to the surface, to grasp and pay attention to every thought, or feeling or movement, or experience, or at making money, or now I’m feeling bored, and now I’m thirsty, oh, suddenly, I feel really tired. leaves on my Surface, let that go. Leave can sleep and stay on the surface. And what am I going to do, I’m going to allow myself to rest and sink even deeper into the depths of the ocean. The more you practice the doing that the more you feel yourself anchored and rested in the depths of the ocean, you might glance up and see a pile of leaves falling on your surface doesn’t really matter. In fact, if you’re very deep grounded in the depths of motion, it doesn’t matter if a typhoon is blowing up on the surface, can you see let’s it’s a really good metaphor. And that’s literally what feels like in the being. So the feeling of boredom arises, I know what it is, it’s a leaf on my Surface, let it go, what am I I am that which is the depths of the ocean. And so physiologically, experientially, energetically, I allow my conscious to miss to expand into rest and sink into that depth. And really, what there’s a very profound practice one is doing them because what you’ve practicing is a must. Because there is a kind of a mastery mastery, who’s the master, or the being is the the true consciousness or our true nature, the master, or is the egoic consciousness or self, you know, the self sense of the master. Because if if whatever is arising in the world, or your awareness, can pull you to act and to respond to it, no matter what it is, then you’re enslaved to your mind, your thoughts and feelings and all the experience around you. Whereas if you can see what’s arising and make a choice, how you want to respond to it are there’s a leaf on my Surface, I might just go up and take a look or No, thank you. I’m relaxing, and sitting in my meditation or whatever, I’m not going to do that all I know, it’s a movement from the ego or the mind. And therefore I’m not going to respond to this moment of boredom. What you then do is practice to actually engage from this deep place of your being that strengthens and deepens your capacity to live from a deeper place if you continue with that and apply various other practices and deeper looking. And you learn to actually shift the center of the gravity of the being so instead of, you know, being having a knee jerk response to every thought, feeling and experience that arises. you’re responding from a clearer spaciousness, which ultimately you will see is a completely different consciousness. It’s not the same. So the the the awareness that will run after and be tricked into or respond to every thought feeling and experience is what I would call the conditioned mind. The reason we do that is because we’re conditioned to do that. We conditioned and We believe that those things are real. And they true when they meet. I’m feeling bored. Who’s feeling bored? I am, I define myself as the one who’s feeling bored right now. And therefore I need to respond or react to that particular movement. From a place of realization, you don’t see it that way, a movement of boredom arises, you don’t see it as you at all. It’s just a movement. It’s like a cloud floating in the sky or leaf of learning on your surface. And over time, if you don’t react to each and every leaf falling on your surface, the leaves, the leaves fall less and less frequently, you respond to them less and less, they find out you could say that you go patenting thumbs out weakens and softens. To a point where there’s very few leaves landing on your surface, very few thoughts kind of coming in, and you’re not attached to them, you can see them for what they are, because what you’ve done is purified to being to such an extent that you are resting in the state of being at all times, under all circumstances in all places. And you’re not able to be swayed by anything that’s occurring in the world in terms of a circumstance, someone’s action, your own thoughts, your own feelings and your own experience. And yes, it starts with things like a feeling of boredom, or, you know, I’ve committed to do this practice, but now I need to sleep right? Guess what it is? It’s the part of you that actually doesn’t want to do the practice, which would be self sense.
Rick Archer: But also, you need some sleep. I mean, if you’ve been sleeping,
Lesley Skylar: and if you haven’t been sleep deprived, then it’s a very practical way of looking at it. Okay, I feel that the body because
Rick Archer: sometimes when you settle into meditation, you know what you get more in touch with what you need, and what your physical geology needs. Yeah,
Lesley Skylar: exactly. And if that would be the case, then that then you would simply take a nap when you need to.
Rick Archer: But even before I meditate, just residual fatigue, and then meditation is much more clear. Exactly, yeah. Let me ask you a couple more practical questions. You know, we’ve been going on about the importance of practice and meditation and so on. Most of the people I know, who learned to meditate, I probably I taught about 1000 people back when I was teaching. They ended up dropping off, you know, they don’t they don’t stick to it regularly. I of course, I know many others who have been doing it for decades. But what would you say to two part question, what would you say as a tip for getting yourself to meditate regularly? And sticking with it? And secondly, what sort of daily routine? You mentioned, an hour an hour might be a bit much for busy people, people with families and so on. You know, what would what would you recommend that the average person who’s fairly busy can actually commit to? And what? And how would you help them? Commit to it and stick to it? So this, this whole conversation we’re having isn’t just some memory? Oh, yeah, I remember that lady. She said, I should meditate. Well, it’s been six months, I haven’t done it.
Lesley Skylar: Okay, the first thing I would say is I would situate the meditation context, that makes sense, if I wouldn’t recommend someone coming to this cold, simply just decide I’m going to meditate. And hopefully there is very little is going to reveal it
Rick Archer: here. But you probably would recommend that I think I would recommend something a little bit more personalized and specific.
Lesley Skylar: Oh, absolutely. Right. Now, you know, when I work with people, we might spend two hours or three hours doing something, and then they go and practice it. And then I come back and give them feedback. You know, it’s got to be done in depth, and it’s got to be done properly. But wherever people are, you want to situate your meditation in the right context, it’s not something you just want to grab, hold off, you know, hopefully, I can just sit there with my eyes closed and something serious is going to happen. It’s just not we’re basically going to have the self sense of the ego simply sitting meditating. And that’s not, you know, it might achieve a little bit, but very, very little. So educate yourself about what meditation is, ideally, get some instruction from, you know, someone who’s teaching meditation in your local area, teacher, whatever the case may be. So that’s tip number one, know what you’re
Rick Archer: doing practical stuff, you know, turn off your phone, tell your family, you’re gonna do it, tell them not to bother you for 20 minutes, or however long you’re gonna be in there. You know, I mean, just sort of, like if you preparations don’t sit down in the middle of living room, when the kids are trying to watch television or something, you have to sort of,
Lesley Skylar: it’s not gonna work. So yeah, quiet space, some time. You know, and commit to what you doing. Don’t sit for five minutes and then reach for your cell phone that is not meditation. So see what you’re practicing then is a kind of a rigor and discipline, which will get you some way so But first, some instruction. And you know, if you don’t have a teacher in your local area, whatever, book some YouTube videos, at least something to educate you. The second thing that I would recommend is I think, in my experience, meditation on its own, is not that helpful. I would always combine it with other things. So again, engage in something that you feel resonates with you a teaching a teacher, a community, start with some YouTube videos, if you like some really deep books, Nisargadatta, I am that whatever. There’s some really lovely books, these are a starting point that you know, they’re not going to take you particularly deep, but it’s a good orienting place. And I generally recommend inquiry and additional practices alongside meditation, because what I’ve seen is that people who only meditate, they find, even when they’re meditating, so called quite well, although they’re doing the practice quite accurately or efficiently, there is not the benefit that they thought they were going to get. Because there are other things that are still in play, that meditation is not going to address. And things like additional practices and inquiries particularly, are going to be very helpful for that. So educate yourself about, you know, the spiritual direction you’re interested in, in whatever way you can, that will enliven and give you a context for your meditation, if you’re just doing meditation on its own. Generally, people who do that end up dropping the meditation after a while it gets boring, they don’t really see results, and they don’t really know what to expect and what to look for. So that’s what I would suggest. Yeah, that’s
Rick Archer: a good point. I think, understanding is, there’s like two legs to spiritual progress in my book, understanding and experience, and you have to kind of, you have to walk, you have to sort of use both legs. Exactly. Understanding without experience, you can, you know, get top heavy, as we were saying earlier, you can mistake intellectual understanding for realization, experience without understanding, you can lose inspiration, you can be fearful of something that’s actually very beautiful, maybe because it’s so different, and you have no context for it. So, and it’s not you and I, you, and I aren’t just saying this. I mean, this is stuff that goes back 1000s of years, again, that traditions all advocated, you know, clear understanding and deep experience as a full package, you know,
Lesley Skylar: it’s a full package. Right? Right. So, you know, when, when, when works with people, you begin to identify as a teacher, that there are a number of facets that really keep people stuck. And meditation only deals with one or two of those facets. That’s why on its own it, you know, it doesn’t take you far enough. And if you don’t deepen your understanding in other areas, then you’ll become very frustrated with the meditation if you think meditation is the be all and end all it isn’t it, you know, rightly done, it can be very, very stressful and inefficient, is one leg of the stool, and I would say, maybe there are about eight legs of the stool.
Rick Archer: Currently Patanjali that’s exactly how many there. Okay, well, beautiful. Yoga.
Lesley Skylar: Okay, there we go. Right. And so, you know, when one engages with a teaching that you resonate with, and a teacher that you trust, and that you feel it feels authentic, what you will then engage on these eight legs. So when I work with people, I’m tuning into their energy, I’m feeling them I’m, you know, like, even as we’re speaking now, each sentence you utter really reveals your point of view, where you standing, what’s important to you, the extent to which you’re identified with the self, since that, you know, that was connected with his body, mind, and a number of other things that really gives the teacher deep clues as to how to guide you. And that’s how one can then you know, work with these eight different legs, for example, if they are eight, I mean, I, yeah, I sort of levels of different, exactly the different facets that needs to be engaged in order to untangle this ball of identification or, you know, sort of soften and dissolve, ultimately, this virtual reality world that we inhabit. So this is why it’s quite challenging to do on your own right, because, you know, as much as teachers might say this, it can’t really be heard from the point of view itself sense and we say things like there is nothing to attain. And truly, I will say there is nothing to attain. This is not completely not absolutely not about the gaining of additional knowledge, like you’re building a big house. Yes, knowledge can be gained, but in a certain context, and that knowledge ultimately, is surrendered. In in, in a in a in a movement and in a sort of a blossoming that allows a completely different consciousness to flower in you. Now to the mind, that might sound like gobbledygook. So what the hell How do I do that? Right? Well, that’s why we’ve got you know, 1000s of years of teachings to help give us practices and Dev teachings that can orient you. So, you know, one of the deepest things that I’ve seen and learned is that it’s not about acquiring more and more conceptual knowledge, the conceptual mind is not able to understand the mystery of being. So paradoxically, yes, we do need knowledge, but that kind of Sacramento. Exactly. And it really feeds into a deep understanding of really, ultimately, what you’re patenting is where you’re stuck, where you’re still holding on, which then allows you to no longer be be blinded and be blind to the patenting that’s engaging you. So it’s a kind of a stepping stone to help you sort of step out of the patenting, but ultimately, the stepping out of the patenting. All of it is a dissolution. Everything is about the dissolving, of everything you thought you knew, everything that you thought was true, who Rick is, what he’s been his whole life, everything you’ve learned from the 400 people you’ve interviewed and the meditation you’ve done in your own experience, that needs to be surrendered to what? to something much deeper the intelligence of the being, which is more like a field of energy. That doesn’t work through the conditioned mind. Yes, it uses the mind, mind is part of this vessel, but the mind in a clear form, not in a condition form. So I’m not, you know, denying or denouncing mind, I’m saying the two functions of mind. Before we are stably realized, we function in the conditioned mode. Basically, when is run by your own thoughts and feelings and your own experience and everything that arises in your own. In the contents of your being basically, you’re right, you identify with you think everything that you experience is real, and it’s true. And that’s what reality is. And guess what, that’s me. Now it’s not. And so that conditioned mind has to be surrendered or relinquish, to allow something different to blossom. And then different teachings refer to in different ways, I refer to it as clear mind with this thing here, the gray matter here becomes a clear vessel for the energy and the consciousness that’s flowing through it no longer is it, distorting, amplifying, you know, twisting things around a self sense, which is self oriented, which causes you to look at things in a particular way, self referencing everything, not just what’s up there. But what does it mean about me? And how do I relate to it? And what am I going to get from it? You see, that’s what a self sense does, it twists the entire point of view. And it’s also very, very limited. So as these patterns dissolve, what opens up is, is the clarity, which functions through all aspects of the being the heart of soft, open and clarified, undefended. It’s not making anything right or wrong, it doesn’t need to attack it doesn’t need to defend. The energetic systems are unblocked and open. And the mind is clear, free. And so these are an open spacious, quiet intelligence that doesn’t function. According to the old thought pattern. In fact, thoughts have few and far between, they’re really only engaged when you practically need things. And the rest of the way that their life is engaged is really through intuitive flow. Spontaneous, right speech and action that arises when the vessel is sufficiently clear. And that’s what’s actually functioning and, you know, works through through the mental capacity, that the cognitive capacity that it works through is clear mind. And that’s how I would describe it. That’s not to say that the mind disappears. What we wanted disappear is the conditioned mind that we want to, you know, we don’t want to be run, we don’t want to be
Rick Archer: young by habit and conditioning, exactly the line with cosmic intelligence if we want to call Exactly,
Lesley Skylar: exactly and that doesn’t give itself center. And one discovers that as you engage with it, it’s like where is the self center there isn’t one there isn’t a center it’s a field that you engage and then as you’re engaging more and more from this place of right speech and action which becomes spontaneous. You look and you see this basically not a self anymore there is it shrinks, it becomes more and more transparent. And this beautiful body mind and you know, everything is seen as one’s brother and sister and that includes you know, all of nature and the whole universe and the the beautiful giving energy that then can flow because the vehicle has now been purified and, and opened up it’s no longer kind of held in these sticky patents from before. So everything we ever wanted is coming from that mode in the happiness As the contentment, the, the sense of being whole and being true and being clear, there’s only one place that it comes from and that, you know, and that’s that, that’s pure clarified consciousness. The conditioned mind is, you know, for as long as we engaged in that, to whatever degree we are is a recipe for suffering. Source of all psychological suffering basically is our own. Yeah, initially,
Rick Archer: I just want to comment briefly on something you said earlier, and then we should wrap it up and, and that is that, um, you know, said, Well, we’re in some kind of meditation, find a teacher or something, I mean, you’re not necessarily going to be satisfied, if you just go down to your local YMCA and take a yoga class and learn some sort of meditation, they teach the discriminating shop around, I mean, your life is an example of seek and you shall find, you know, I mean, you really went at it, like a professional, you know, dedicated yourself to it and actually moved from thing to thing as you found that one thing was unsatisfactory in some way and, or maybe you had extracted all the benefit, you could, you could from it, and decided to, you know, better move on. So, bit, you know, people need to be discerning, and, and if something is not done, don’t be a dilettante, you know, superficial dabbler. But if, if something is not working out, don’t don’t give up, you know, keep on truckin. You know, find find something which does work, you know, call Lesley, or, or do whatever, until you find something which is really producing results, and then
Lesley Skylar: exactly, stick with it. Exactly. And that’s a very good point, you’ve made the Eric because when you do engage with something that’s authentic and deep, you will see the results. And you know, even though I’ve, even though I’ve emphasized that this is a process, and it takes time, the results can be seen really quickly, when you engage Oh, yeah, I mean, week to week, when one works with people, you can see the growth, they see it themselves. And that’s what, that’s what keeps one engaged in the process, really, you can see how you’re actually shifting your point of view when your clarity is increasing. And your you know, your self doubt is diminishing, and all these things that used to niggle and worry, there’s many, many dimensions that that shift. And basically what’s doing it, it’s not the ego, that’s now fixing itself. Basically, what one is doing when you engaged in really deep practice. And with the D teaching, is you’re allowing the intelligence of one’s true nature, actually just flowered. So that’s what’s blossoming, you see, the teachers not even doing it. All the teachers doing is giving you pointers, the teachers alone, the territory really well and experienced it, and as you know, is a guy that can really point out the pitfalls and where to look. And, and the end, the teacher can also see where you’re stuck, which is very, very helpful. So you can give people very direct feedback. And that produces real growth that you can see real transformation that’s there. So it’s not a question of saying, Well, okay, I meditate for 10 years before I see result, it completely is not like that, you know, should be
Rick Archer: from the outset. Once Yeah, exactly. Very close to the outset, once you begin to notice, but and I asked you really about how can a person stick with it, they’ll stick with it, if they’re if they’re seeing results, and and there’s no one who is incapable of getting results if you’re doing it if you’re going. And there’s all kinds of cool stories about meditation, you know, PTSD sufferers and drug addicts, and you know, people in prison, and kids in inner city schools and people in dire circumstances, and if it works for them, it can work for anybody, you just need to make sure that you’re doing something that works.
Lesley Skylar: Right. So I was just going to add to what you’ve said, there really good point. Anybody who’s really moved to do this can do it. And why is it why is that possible? Is this only, you know, available for for people who have the, you know, Ramana Maharshi genes? No, you know, why? Because your own true nature, everybody’s true nature is this this that we’re speaking about is the source and the essence of everybody’s being. That’s why anybody can engage. And yes, you have to engage with the kind of a seriousness, but if you’re interested and you’re willing, and you stick with it, it does produce fruit. And you know, one of the things that if I could just speak to maybe some of the people that I know that are watching or others that are out there who’ve engaged in spiritual practices and found that they weren’t making progress, I would say look a little deeper, maybe find something that is a better fit for you. See, you know, examine where you were stuck in that you weren’t moving forward, reengage, but don’t give up. I’d say the thing that creates the sort of deepest pain for me is when I see people stopping the work because they feel one of two things either that they But, you know, it’s not for them or that they can’t do it, which is not true. Or the other, the other negative is that they’ve actually reached a place where they, they, they’re or they’ve done it. And you know, that’s very rare, you know, this really deep place of abiding realization is still quite a rarity in our modern world, even though a lot of people are engaged in spiritual practice. So if you give them too soon, or conclude that you’re there, what you’re doing is you’re you’re truncating, or you’re erasing your own spiritual journey, even if you’ve come to a very deep place, and if you have a teacher will point that out to you and be happy to sort of agree with you on that. In most instances, people are not nearly as deep as they think they are. But they give up prematurely because they think they can’t do it. Or because they’ve reached a certain thought, I think they’ve done it exactly. And both points are completely wrong, unfortunately, and then, you know, what they end up doing is basically setting up base camp at a certain part of the mountain, they haven’t actually reached the summit. And that’s really unfortunate. So I see that, you know, I’ve seen that when I was engaged in practice myself, and I see it with people I work with. So those people who stick with it through thick and through thin in a way, it’s kind of like a marriage, when you’re doing deep spiritual work, you don’t just give up when things are not going well. In fact, that’s the, you know, that’s the time that you really need to stick with it. You really, when you’re going through a rough patch, you know, you stick with it through second through seventh. And you’ll be surprised where you, you know, what you can learn from those difficult periods? And yes, it’s possible it’s possible for anybody, if you really stick with it?
Rick Archer: Well, I think we’ve given them enough of a pep talk for now. I have six pages of notes here, and it didn’t really even need to look at them, because we’ve been carrying on so easily. So I want to thank you for your time. And I will be creating a page on batgap.com as I always do, which will link to your website and through that people can get in touch with you, right? And and is there anything else by way of practical contact kind of information you’d like people to know? Or should just go to your website and see what’s there,
Lesley Skylar: right? Go to my website and see what’s there. Or check out my facebook page regularly on Facebook, do all those things. Yeah, perfect. So either way, take a look. And feel free to contact me if you’d like to speak. You know, I’m happy to do a free session with you. I’m happy to just chat and meet you and see where you are and give you some tips if you just like something small or if you’d like to engage more deeply. I’m happy to do that, too. So
Rick Archer: so people will get in touch. And thanks again. And just as a general comment here, just pretty much everyone watching this knows but this is an ongoing series. If you go to batgap.com and just explore the menus, you’ll see what’s available. And I don’t really need to go through all the details just go there. There’s a page that’s sort of called at a glance which summarizes everything. And so I hope you’ve enjoyed this and stay tuned for many, many more. Thank you very much. It was wonderful spending
Lesley Skylar: this Thank you. Thank you very much Rick, wonderful spending the time with you and everybody else who will be watching us. Take care and wish you all very well on your on your spiritual journey.