Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done hundreds of them now and if this is new to you and you’d like to watch previous ones, please go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers, which sounds a lot like what NPR says, but that’s basically it, no advertising, and we do this as our full-time thing now. So if you feel like supporting it and appreciate it and feel like supporting it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. My guest today is Lynn Marie Lumiere, MFT. What does MFT stand for, Lynn?
Lynn: Marriage Family Therapist.
Rick: Okay. And Lynn is a non-dual psychotherapist, an author who is dedicated to awakening consciousness and meeting life’s challenges as doorways to greater freedom. Her work is sourced in over 40 years of dedicated spiritual and psychological exploration, as well as almost 30 years of marriage and practicing psychotherapy. This experience has led her to the understanding that no matter what the problem, healing and freedom from suffering are possible when we tap into our infinite and ever-present true nature. She has been especially interested in applying this understanding to healing relationships and trauma. Lynn Marie is one of the pioneers in the exploration of non-dual wisdom and psychotherapy, and is a contributing author to The Sacred Mirror, Non-Dual Wisdom and Psychotherapy, 2003. She’s also the author of Awaken Relating, a Guide to Embodying Undivided Love in Intimate Relationship, to be published July 1st of 2018, which I’ve been reading. Her primary spiritual teacher is Adyashanti, who’s been on batgap a number of times, and she has studied with many teachers from non-dual Buddhist and Hindu traditions. She lives in Grass Valley, California. So we had this power outage this morning and had to delay the start of this interview by a couple of hours, and so I went up to a coffee shop where I could use their Wi-Fi, because I didn’t have anything at home, to get on my iPad and try to contact you, Lynn, and various other people that needed to be notified of what was going on. And a friend sat down and was talking to me while all this was going on, and explained to her that I was going to be interviewing someone who specializes in using non-duality to enhance relationships. And she said, “Well, that’s a bit of an oxymoron, I mean, non- duality, the word Advaita itself means not two, but relationships imply at least two.” And so I’m sure you’ve been confronted with that before, so how do you respond when people ask you that question?
Lynn: Well, that’s the living paradox, you know, the truth of this existence is entirely a paradox, there is no two, and we’re all the same one being, and yet it’s expressing itself in all of these different forms, and we relate to each other in these different forms, even though we’re the same one being. So, both are true, it’s a paradox.
Rick: Yeah, a friend of mine posted on Facebook the other day, said, “For God’s sake, please don’t ever use the ocean and wave analogy again,” because he’s so sick of hearing it. But it’s a handy analogy, I mean, it’s one ocean, but there are individual waves, and you can’t say there aren’t individual waves, but it’s all the same water.
Lynn: That’s right, and it changes the experience of relationship as we come into that understanding more, because the more we experience the other as separate, and having something we don’t have, and so on, that’s where it causes a lot of discord in relationship.
Rick: Yeah, another thing my friend said when I mentioned what we were going to be talking about, she said, “I’m kind of skeptical of that.” She says, “I know people who’ve been meditating for decades, some of whom actually claim to have had profound awakenings, and they’re still jerks, you know, they still act like a-holes, you know, and maybe they mistreat their wives, or they do this, or they do that,” and she said, “How do you reconcile that paradox?”
Lynn: Well, if they claim to have awakenings, and they’re still, you know, being jerks in relationship, it means they don’t have relational maturity, or haven’t healed their relational wounding, or so on, which awakening itself doesn’t do. Awakening alone will not do that, so the whole embodiment piece includes bringing that awakening into our being, into our wounding, into our humanness, and then into relationship. So some people, maybe they have an opening, but they don’t work with themselves, you know, on the level of the psychological, emotional level, or develop relational maturity.
Rick: Yeah, I’ve heard several different angles on that whole thought. One is that, I mean, some people go to, they take refuge in the absolute view, so to speak, and say things like, “Well, you know, the world is an illusion, and so forget about it. It doesn’t matter what you are on a relative level, there is no relative.” Others say, “Awakening has nothing to do with behavior, and there’s no correlation whatsoever, and you know, you’re just going to be whatever you are when you wake up to your true nature.” And others say, “Well, there is a correlation, and awakening is going to inevitably percolate into your relative personality and transform it for the better, hopefully, yeah, for the better.” And others say, “It’s not going to happen automatically. You’re actually going to have to do something, and if you don’t intentionally do something to integrate awakening into your relative life, it may not happen.” So there’s like four different viewpoints there, what do you have to say?
Lynn: I think I go along mostly with the fourth one. You know, I do think, well, the third and fourth, I think there is a correlation, and it’s all inseparable to me and in my process, and you also do have to make some kind of intentional effort, you know, to embody this awakening. It doesn’t just happen automatically.
Rick: Yeah, I know in my own case, you know, I think spiritual practice definitely softened me, made me more sensitive gradually over the years. I mean, you know, it’s been a lifelong process, made me more averse to inflicting any kind of harm on anyone else, made me more tender-hearted, I would say. And also, but it wasn’t just the spiritual practice, I also think it was life, being married, just interacting with people, growing up. I mean, some would say that too, that’s a fifth perspective, that spiritual practice doesn’t really change your personality, you just mature, and you can think of all kinds of people who were wild and crazy in their teens and early 20s, who are now very well adjusted in their 50s or 60s.
Lynn: Well, you know, spiritual practice is a part of that, you know, that adjustment that happens if they do it, you know, it’s all a part of it, you know, what we call relative reality, we engage with that every day, and that’s part of what wakes us up and helps us embody. It’s an illusion in the sense that it doesn’t have any independent existence.
Rick: What doesn’t?
Lynn: The relative reality, you could say it’s an illusion in that sense, but to me it’s not irrelevant, you know, it’s an expression of our consciousness playing out, like a mirror reflection of that, so it’s giving us feedback all the time about where we are, just like our inner experience is giving us feedback all the time. If we’re feeling unrest or pain inside, then it shows that we’re out of alignment, so we’re constantly being worked with, you know, with our experience.
Rick: Yeah, I would go so far as to say that, taking, you know, that thought, that what happens in our lives, even events that we seemingly have no control over, is not random and is not coincidental or arbitrary, that the whole universe is pervaded with intelligence, we are that intelligence, that there’s nothing but that intelligence, it’s trying to wake up to itself in this or that embodied expression, namely this human being or that human being, and it will orchestrate things so as to wake us up, and sometimes those things might be a little harsh because we need a bit of a slap to, you know, come out of our slumber.
Lynn: Yeah, that seems to be true to me, you know, that it all has some infinite wisdom, it is pervaded, that’s the only thing that’s happening, and so it is trying to wake itself up, everything is about waking up, in my senses, that that’s what everything is about.
Rick: Yeah, and of course not everyone would agree with that, and it might just seem like a philosophical perspective, but I think you might agree that, you know, there’s some kind of experiential verification of it that becomes clearer and clearer as you go along.
Lynn: Oh yes, I mean we suffer less, you know, we feel more peace, you know, feel more stabilized in the resting in our being, you know, more joy, more love, you know, those are all experiential indications that we’re on the right track.
Rick: Yeah, and if we’re on the wrong track, you know, there can be a few hard knocks to kind of like alert us to the fact that we are.
Lynn: That seems to be true for most people, it has been true for me. Yeah. I mean it seems like, you know, we’re so asleep, most people, you know, we do need some hard knocks sometimes.
Rick: Right, and that one can be taken too far too, because sometimes people say things like, “Oh, so-and-so got cancer, it must be his karma, he must be doing something wrong or something like that,” which I think can be quite heartless, and there’s a saying in the Gita that karma is beyond the range of human intellect, the intricacies of it, and you can’t just make these glib pronouncements about why this or that happened to somebody.
Lynn: Yeah, I agree with that, you know, ultimately it’s beyond our understanding, so I think the best stance is to be in not knowing, and then what’s important isn’t like trying to make some sense out of this is happening because this or that, but how we meet it, you know, whatever it is that comes, what’s important is how we meet it. We don’t really know what’s going on.
Rick: No, and you’re not going to figure it out.
Lynn: No, and it wouldn’t help even if we could.
Rick: Yeah, true, I mean you might figure it out and still not meet it properly, so how we meet it is probably the most important thing.
Lynn: That’s right, that is the most important thing, and that gets back to my point about awakened relating and how we need some awakened consciousness to be able to meet life, you know, the hard knocks especially, but all of it really, without some awakened consciousness then we actually don’t fully meet it, because if we’re operating out of the egoic structure, then all that that knows is resistance to what is in some form or another, right? Reacting to it, resisting it, getting caught up in it, avoiding, that the entire repertoire of the ego structure is to avoid or in some way get caught up in what’s going on, so it’s incapable, it’s just a function for survival, it’s incapable of meeting what is, so it’s really necessary for us to have some sense of our own awakened consciousness to be able to meet life.
Rick: Yeah, Jesus said, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do,” and I would add, they knew not what they did, what they were doing, because they knew not what they were, what they are, you know.
Lynn: That’s true, if you don’t know, you don’t know, and so you do the best you can with what you have and you just stumble along with the ego structure and all of the defenses it has to offer, which don’t really go anywhere, but if you don’t know anything else, that’s all you have.
Rick: Yeah, now in many traditions, and perhaps to some degree in the public consciousness or at least the consciousness of spiritual seekers, it’s often assumed or taught that awakening is really a long-term project and could take decades, could take lifetimes, and here in your notes to me, which I’m going to be going through to various points of discussion, you say awakening is immediately available now. What keeps most people from it is a belief that it is out of reach, as well as beliefs about it needing to be a big spectacular experience. So let’s dig into that one a little bit.
Lynn: Yeah, let me explain that, you know, that when I’m talking, when I refer to what is immediately available, that is just an initial glimpse of recognition of this non-dual awareness that is present all the time, you know, that’s looking out of our eyes. I feel that that is immediately available, and just have a glimpse of recognition of that, to just become aware of being aware, is to me the very, very beginning of awakening, the whole process of ultimately stabilizing in that, realizing that that’s what you are, realizing that that’s what everything is, that’s what can take what appears to be time for most people, for most people that’s a gradual process. But what I feel is immediately available is just that simple recognition of what we are more than the thinking mind, and many people don’t just put awakening as something out of their reach or far away in the future, and you know, leave out even that simple beginning.
Rick: Yeah, that’s helpful. I mean you could maybe make a metaphor of just as the dawn begins to break and the birds begin to sing, you can see a glow on the horizon, and that’s the sun, you know, you’re seeing it, but it’s going to be a lot brighter at noon.
Lynn: That’s true, but once we have the recognition, then we have an opportunity to return to it, and to me then that becomes the practice, you know, once we know that, then paying attention to that by resting as that it becomes the practice, and the more we rest as that the stronger it gets, the more it grows in our consciousness.
Rick: Would you say that you can rest as that both in a meditative way, eyes closed or whatever, just sitting quietly, or even in the midst of dynamic activity, is it possible to rest as that to some extent, and would you want to, or would that kind of divide your mind if you’re trying to play tennis and rest as that at the same time?
Lynn: Well, that can be done at any time, at any time, and the more conscious this awareness becomes, the more awake to itself it becomes, then the more accessible it is, you know, no matter what we’re doing, it’s like the background that’s always here, but you’re awake to it, and so it doesn’t matter what you’re doing, you don’t have to sit down and close your eyes or stop anything, you know, it just becomes, it’s the background that just becomes more in the foreground, and can be experienced at any time.
Rick: And is experienced perpetually, really, as it grows, and without having to think about it, like breathing.
Rick: I mean, because people shouldn’t have the sense, I don’t think, that they need to sort of keep checking in all day long and doing something to maintain awareness. It’s like having taken a shower, you maintain a certain cleanliness throughout the day or whatever, or I don’t know, breathing is an example, or you know, just being awake in the ordinary sense, you don’t have to keep reminding yourself that you’re awake, you are awake. Do you agree with that, or do you feel like there should be something more that one should do?
Lynn: Well, I think it depends on where people are at. I think in the very beginning, first of all, you know, if there’s no recognition of awareness, all they have is thoughts, all they are is identified as the thoughts, as the egoic mechanism, and then when there’s a direct knowing or experience of the nondual awareness that holds all that and pervades all that, then they have a chance of being somewhere else. And yet it depends on the person. They may need to check back and check back. The practice that I put in my book that helped me a great deal is a practice of short moments of resting many times over time that makes it more continuous. So you might have to do many short moments repeatedly until it becomes more pervasive, more naturally.
Rick: I think Eckhart Tolle might recommend something like that too, as I recall. Okay, and you know, I mean, so as what we discussed in the last few minutes is that, you know, the very first glimpse of one’s true nature might be rather dim by comparison to what’s possible. I mean, if you want to sort of put that on one end of the scale and Ramana Maharshi on the other end of the scale, there could be a pretty wide spectrum in between, but that anybody can have that first glimpse and they can, from wherever they start, they can take it from there and begin to culture it and stabilize it. That would be a fair summary?
Rick: Yes, I think so. I mean, several things I want to emphasize is the accessibility of that. You know, it’s something that’s just always here, very ordinary in many ways. It’s immediately available, so that’s one thing I want to emphasize, because there’s so many ideas and beliefs about awakening being hard to get to or far away. And then, yes, it needs to be given attention, it needs to be valued. You know, sometimes I’ve pointed this out to people and they go, “Yeah, I’m aware,” you know, it’s kind of like, “So?” and you know, and it doesn’t feel like anything special, and then they kind of toss it aside. So, it’s also important to know how important that is, that little initial glimpse of awareness, which can seem like just kind of, you know, just awareness, you know, you don’t yet feel the qualities of it, like deep silence or deep peace or love, and that you don’t just know that that is the doorway into infinite amounts of love and peace and wisdom. So, having some understanding, even if it’s intellectual, of the value of that, so you will commit to it, because it’s a devotion, really, becoming devoted to it. It takes a deep commitment to keep returning to that and resting as that, rather than the habituated state of being in the constantly moving mind.
Rick: Yeah, I think that point you just made about an understanding is an important one, that’s part of the reason I do this show, is that, you know, understanding can go a long way to inspiring people to do some, to commit themselves to some sort of practice or process, because it gives you a vision of possibilities and it also can kind of instill confidence that you are capable of this, you know, and that was one of my initial motivations also, it’s like I would run into people who had been, even people who have been meditating a long time, who felt like awakening was never going to happen to them, because they conceived of it as something so extraordinary and they felt like they were an ordinary person. And so I started interviewing people who claimed to have had some awakening, who were just people around town here, and just to sort of show their peers that, “Hey, you know, this guy and this person and this woman are having this and you can have it too.” And then it just kind of branched out into this.
Lynn: I think that’s very important for people to get, you know, that it’s available to them. You know, last week I was on retreat with Adyashanti and he said that in the 22 years that he’s been teaching, he has seen that the biggest obstacle to awakening for most people is believing that it’s not available to them somehow, it’s out of their reach, it has to be some big thing, you know, all the beliefs and the ideas about somehow it’s unavailable. He says that’s the biggest obstacle.
Rick: There’s that old example of a fish in water being thirsty, you know, and saying, “Oh, the water is unavailable, where’s the water?”
Lynn: When am I going to get to the water? It’s really like that, it is literally like that, because we’re just surrounded and pervaded and you know there’s nothing but that, but you know it’s just right here, but it is more of a inward focus, you know, we’re always looking out, even thoughts are looking out, we’re looking to something other than that most of the time.
Rick: Yeah, and that’s because the senses are designed to direct the attention outwards, that’s their job, you know, and so there’s that verse that I quote the Gita a lot because there’s a lot of handy verses in it, but there’s that verse about it’s like a tortoise withdrawing its limbs within its shell, you can turn the senses 180 degrees, go inward and you know find the source of the senses and the source of everything which is your true nature.
Rick: And just one more verse to throw at you, there’s a verse which says, pardon me to those who have heard me quote this kind of thing too many times, but says, “No effort is lost and no obstacle exists, even a little of this Dharma removes great fear.”
Lynn: A little of the Dharma, what does that mean to you?
Rick: A little practice. A little turning your attention to this, putting your attention to this, you know, some kind of step in the right direction or whatever, however you choose to do that, even a little of it can make a big difference.
Lynn: Oh yes, absolutely, absolutely, it’s the most important thing, so whatever effort we make can go a long ways, just to be looking for something, something that’s beyond this sense of a separate self that we feel we’re trapped in.
Rick: And one thing I’ve experienced in talking to all these people on this show and hearing their stories is that there’s a real potency in just having the sincere intention or desire for this. Once you, “seek and you shall find”, once you have that intention, all kinds of opportunities and possibilities begin to present themselves.
Lynn: Yes, I think so, I think that’s one of the most important things is a sincere desire for this, and in many ways that’s the ticket home, is to just have the sincere intention and desire, and we don’t know what creates that or why some people have that and other people don’t, we really don’t know, but at some point in life or lifetimes, people develop a real sincere interest in this, and I know that that happened for me and nothing could stop it, you know, it just took over.
Rick: Yeah, me too, I’ve been a fanatic most of my life now. Alright, so we’re going to be talking about relationships and we were talking a minute ago about the senses sort of being outer directed, and we know that it’s typical of many relationships to be looking for something from somebody, looking for someone to love us, looking for some satisfaction or gratification or whatever from other people, and you know one of your points I think is that we already are the love, the peace, the happiness or whatever that we’re seeking, we’re just out of touch with that when we externalize the source of that love.
Lynn: That’s right, yes, and that’s so common, you know, that in many ways has never even been questioned, you know, that the love is found outside of ourself, you know, we live our lives and I know most of my life I lived with that understanding, I was seeking love outside of myself in another, and the problem with that is it’s just not true, you know, the actual truth is that we are the love that we’re seeking, and so we’re looking out there towards the other and missing, you know, what’s here, and even if we find, you know, something opens up with another person in relationship, you know, when we fall in love there is a magical experience that does open up, and in many ways it opens up a experience of that deeper love that we are, it opens up, and we get to share that with the other and it doesn’t feel like there’s any separation and there’s deep unconditional acceptance for however long that magical state lasts, and then it eventually gets pinned on the other person, you know, as being the source, and that’s where the division and problems start, so what I’m talking about is just bringing that understanding some in there, seeing what opened up there, opened up something that’s within us already, it wasn’t coming from the other person, and as we find that love that we actually are more, then we can share it with the other and with everyone, and we have more love if we just let that go, but this is a tough one, you know, I decided to take that on in my book and it’s like I don’t know anybody else that’s really done that, at least not to that extent, it’s new in human evolution, you know, for all of us to even explore what I’m talking about here.
Rick: Yeah, well maybe it’s new, let’s talk about that. I mean, there have been spiritual traditions which have honored the paradox and the value of relative experience as triggers for awakening, as catalysts, for instance the whole tantric tradition, and tantra doesn’t, sex is only a small part of tantra for those who usually hear that aspect of it. But another question is, I mean, sometimes if the kind of thing I just said, that we’re already the love that we seek, so a person might conclude, well, why do you need another person? If you are the love you seek, why bother with trying to interact with another person? Can’t you just find that love directly and be content with that?
Lynn: Yes, and that kind of thinking is kind of classic dualistic thinking, because the mind can only think in terms of either or, you know, you’re doing this or you’re doing that, that’s the way the mind thinks. But it’s like we find that we are the love and we experience that within our being, we still move towards relationship, but it’s not out of need in the same way as it is when we believe we’re in separation. We are human beings, you know, no matter how awake we are, we’re human beings, and human beings are social creatures, and we do best in relationship, and we naturally move in relationship. When there’s love there, we love to share it, and we love to share it with somebody intimately, in addition to all other kinds of relationships. So there’s a natural movement in human beings towards that, no matter how much we realize this.
Rick: Yeah, I also think that, you know, the right kind of relationship can serve as a catalyst to open the heart and enliven things that really wouldn’t happen automatically so easily on your own, you know. Do you agree with that bit?
Lynn: Oh, absolutely, yeah. That’s also one of the main points I was making in my writing, is that the relationship is probably the biggest catalyst we have, and we’re in a relationship with everything at all times, right? So my book was focused primarily on intimate relationship, because I feel that’s where people have the most trouble, because that brings up usually the more deeper, vulnerable parts of ourself, and relational wounding, if we have it, and deepest fears of abandonment and so on, come up more in the closest relationships, and that in ways that, yeah, absolutely they would not, you know, without being in relationship. Being really in relationship, whether it’s close human relationship or with everything, is what wakes us up, is what shows us all these parts of ourself.
Rick: I was on a monastic program for about 15 years, from the ages of about 22 or 23 up till 37, and you know, sometimes living in ashrams, and boy, I mean people could get so idiosyncratic in that lifestyle, so kooky, because they didn’t really have the kind of checks and balances that you have in a close relationship, and you know, if somebody started to rub you the wrong way, you could just gravitate to somebody else, or just hang out with other people, and you were never really called on your stuff.
Lynn: Right, exactly, yes, that’s true, yeah, we can’t get away from our stuff in close relationship, and many, you know, we just can’t, and many monks, maybe they’ve been in a monastery all their life, if you put them in a marriage, it’d be a whole different story, you know, because that’s, yeah, that brings it all up, it’s a mirror, and then it matters, you know, how we meet it, and can we meet it in a way that brings about deeper awakening and deeper embodiment of that awakening, and I think that relationship is, you know, one of the ways that that happens most, or potentially.
Rick: My wife and I, she was on the woman’s counterpart to the program I was on, and we went from those programs, cold turkey, into marriage without actually any sort of real ordinary courtship period or anything else, and you know, it was sort of intense.
Lynn: I bet it was, so you experienced what I just talked about.
Rick: Yeah, and it was intense for both of us, I mean, I was a piece of work, and all kinds of obsessions and whatnot, but anyway, now, you know, to shift the topic a little bit, but not too much, you know, there are people like Mickey Rooney or Elizabeth Taylor who were married seven or eight times, or Donald Trump three times, and that only counts the marriages, and so there’s this syndrome of falling in love, and it’s all hunky-dory, and then it starts getting difficult, and then you think, “Well, this one isn’t working out,” and so your attention gets caught by somebody else, and you think, “Well, this one seems like the real deal here, I’m starting to feel that feeling again,” you know, and in some people’s lives that syndrome repeats itself many times, and yet they say statistically that second marriages don’t last as long as first marriages generally, or they have a worse track record, and perhaps the track record continues to decline as the marriage count increases. So, you know, how would you explain the mechanics of that pattern, and what can people do to sort of not be caught in that pattern?
Lynn: Well, some of it is what I already mentioned about falling in love, and it’s this magical experience, I had mentioned that, and that we don’t understand that it’s opening up something that’s already there, so remember I said it gets pinned on the other person, so that’s where the trouble starts, you start to feel separate, you start to feel, you know, judging the person, you get more and more separate, there’s more and more conflict, and so this isn’t right, then you go on to the next one, and maybe that’ll work, and then you’re seeking that high again, too, people are seeking that high, and then the same thing happens, and well, this isn’t right, and so they instead of taking a look at what they missed in what opened up, you know, they blame it on that it wasn’t the right person, you know, and then if you’re a little bit more involved, you say, well, maybe it’s something in me, and I have to go to therapy, and you know, work on it, and usually, you know, oftentimes people come to therapy after they’ve repeated this pattern enough times over and over again that they start to think, well, I need to take a look at myself, I’m repeating a pattern here, and you also see that it’s similar types of people, similar patterns, you know, that repeat themselves, so people finally get it if they’re lucky, that they need to look inside and start examining what’s going on on a psychological-emotional level, and if they’re even luckier, they’ll look deeper to see, you know, what’s actually here already.
Rick: Yeah, and of course, most marriage therapists in the world, there are probably many thousands of them, don’t have this non-dual perspective. I suppose, you know, given the growth of interest in spirituality and non-duality and all that, it must be seeping into various people’s practices and methodologies, but you’re probably in the extreme minority still. So, what advantages would you say that you have as a therapist over someone who is using more conventional means?
Lynn: Well, it’s a pretty significant advantage because, you know, how the saying that’s attributed to Einstein, “We can’t solve a problem on the level that which it was created.” So, the root cause of all the problems that people experience in relationship or anywhere else is the belief in separation, you know, that’s where it starts, and then out of that, you know, we grow up in a world of separation that causes a lot of wounding and trauma and disturbance, and you know, people struggle like crazy, you know, with relationship. So, a conventional therapist will work with the trauma or with the wounding and so on, and then that can be opened up, that can be made more conscious, that can be relaxed to some, but in terms of really truly being free of the struggles that we have living in separation and duality, that can’t happen, you know, without a non-dual understanding, and so without a direct experience actually of our non-dual being. So, if the therapist has some direct experience and is sitting as that, then that in itself can potentially open that up. There’s a resonance there that everybody can feel whether they’re conscious of it or not, and it provides a deep safety, you know, for them to open up and take a look at what they need to look at, and if they’re ready, then the therapist can point directly to this in them, and then if they recognize it within them and it’s conscious within them and awake in them and it’s awake in the therapist, then real magic and transformation can happen in a way that it cannot, you know, without that.
Lynn: It’s very limited how far you can go without that.
Rick: I sometimes like to think of one’s true nature, pure awareness if you want to call it that, unbounded awareness, as being like a solvent that, you know, can dissolve a lot of stuff, or to use a metaphor, you know, without recourse to that, it’s as if your awareness were like a cup of water and you want to dissolve some mud, so you put the mud in the cup of water. The water doesn’t really, the cup doesn’t really have the capacity to dissolve that mud, whereas if the awareness can become like an ocean, then, you know, it can easily dissolve quite large loads of mud.
Lynn: Right, the awareness is the solvent, it’s the universal solvent, it’s the only solvent, and that’s one of the understandings that has been growing in my own process, is there really isn’t any alternative, you know, and the more you understand that, then the more committed you become to turning to this mystery, you know, which is, the ego doesn’t really like, you know, in many ways resting in that, because there’s no sense of a self there that’s really defined, but I see that I don’t really have any choice, there’s getting to be more and more immediate suffering if I go on into separation, and there’s no solution there to anything.
Rick: So, nice work has been done and is being done using meditation of various kinds in inner-city schools and with veterans suffering from PTSD and stuff, and they’re very often finding that, you know, serious trauma can be healed, which seemed kind of like intractable otherwise.
Lynn: Yes, it can be, and in the work that I do, I speak about the importance of bringing in this awareness, to have something that is already free of the trauma, that was never touched by the trauma, that has the power to dissolve it, if it’s strong enough in us, if it’s awake enough in us, and I feel that with most people, they also need to do some trauma work, you know, with the nervous system, because trauma can dysregulate the nervous system and make it very difficult to be present in the moment, you know, it causes you to, well, you know, Peter Levine, who I studied with, you know, one of the leading trauma therapists or teachers, said that defined trauma as the inability to be present with what is, and we know that that’s required to be awake, right? Being awake is about being present with what is. So I wrote an article in the Sacred Mirror, I think it was 2003, about that, you know, because in my own experience it was difficult having a dysregulated nervous system early on and having spiritual teachers say, “Just be present with it,” when I couldn’t be, you know, my nervous system didn’t have the capacity to do that, you know, so I needed to work both ways, you know, really work with the trauma and really work with the awakening, and they were inseparable for me.
Rick: I’m glad you said that, because, you know, I think spiritual development is a neurophysiological process as well as being a more subjective one, and sometimes that’s not taken into consideration, but you know, but those who do consider it can tell us that there’s all kinds of physiological change taking place, and you can do fMRI scans and see that the brain is really actually being restructured, and there are all sorts of things that can be measured that change profoundly over time.
Lynn: Yes, and it’s really that awakening as we rest more deeply in it, it brings the nervous system into more of a rest, and I think that’s what we’re all longing for, and with trauma it can be helpful to actually use methods and skills and so on to facilitate that.
Rick: Yeah, there was one study I recall where they measured meditators, the speed or the ease with which they habituated to stressful stimuli, whereas, you know, someone who didn’t meditate would continue reacting rather markedly to repeated stressful stimuli, the meditators habituated rather quickly, they certainly reacted initially, but then the reaction just kind of dropped off, so there wasn’t this sort of habit pattern that was compelling the nervous system to keep responding unnecessarily and inappropriately to something.
Lynn: That’s true, and if somebody has significant enough trauma in their nervous system, even with meditation, it might keep pulling them into repetitive reactions if they don’t work through that trauma.
Rick: Sure, I’m not intending to say that meditation alone is the panacea here, but it’s just sort of an example of some research that was done, and I’m sure that the work you do is an important adjunct to meditation and important in and of itself. Okay, going through our notes here a little bit more. So we’ve kind of covered this one, I think, the ego mind cannot ever provide for our deepest needs, only our being can, right? I mean, is there anything more you want to say about that?
Lynn: Well, when we go back to relationship, you know, most of the human race is looking for getting needs met from other people, you know, and most of us had deficits in our childhood, we didn’t get all of our emotional needs met, and we’re looking for those needs to be met through another person, and that’s really problematic because there isn’t really another person separate from us that has something to give us that we don’t have. That’s all an imaginary thing, so it can’t work and it causes great deal of suffering for people and points them back to themselves, you know, where those needs can get met. We need to find that deeper ground of stability and love that’s always here, that never moves, and no human being, even in the best of relationships, is always here, it’s always available, as always, you know, attending to you, that’s just not possible, yet we long for that, right? We long for that security and that stability and that never-ending love, and that’s only found in our own being.
Rick: Yeah, and if people don’t believe that this is the way it is, then just listen to pretty much 95% of all the pop songs ever written.
Lynn: They’re all about that.
Rick: Yeah, they’re all about that, “Oh baby, I can’t live without you,” blah blah blah.
Lynn: We don’t know what they’d write about if people wake up out of that, what would they sing about?
Lynn: It’d be different.
Rick: Okay, so I’m going through some notes and it triggers our conversation. “We cannot fully transform ourself or our world without addressing issues at their root, which is the belief in separation and duality. Relationships will always be challenged within that belief.” Yeah, both parts of that point I really like. I mean, you can’t solve problems on the level of the problem, which I guess just paraphrases the Einstein quote, you can’t help a tree much by watering its leaves, you have to water the root. And so palliative care and treatment is superficial, doesn’t really get to the cause. You’re picking weeds, I mean you can’t really get a weed out unless you get the root out. So maybe comment on that one first, and we’ll discuss the second part of belief in separation and duality. Well, you have to, what, addressing pulling it out at the root? Yeah, getting to the root of things rather than just painting the roses red, you know. Yeah, if you pull weeds out on the tops, they just grow right back, right? And so I feel like there’s an evolutionary imperative, there’s an evolutionary imperative, that’s a big deal, that the human race is facing right now to wake up out of separation and duality. And unless they get to that root cause of all the insanity that we’re seeing in increasing amounts in our world, it is not ultimately going to shift. If we keep going to superficial resolutions, and it is just, you know, cutting back a little bit, then it goes, you know, it’s not turning it around. And now we’re at a point where the survival of the species and the planet itself is being threatened. And generally through the evolution of life on this planet, it seems that when it gets faced with an evolutionary imperative, something happens. So that’s what I’m hoping for, is that something will happen that the human race will start to look deeper into what’s going on here. Because as I said, it’s consciousness playing out of reflection. We look at the world, it’s a movie playing out of our individual and collective consciousness, and it’s a mirror being held up, you know, to us. And it’s like, are you going to look at this? Look what’s happening here. And people still look at, blame it on external things, politicians or situations, and think we need to change this in order for it to be better, and we do that in relationship, we do that all the time, instead of going to the root of it. And that’s going to be necessary if we’re going to even survive ultimately.
Rick: Yeah, I think we get the politicians that reflect the collective consciousness of the people and that collective consciousness is, you know, the conglomerate or the sum total of all the individual consciousnesses. There was a nice section in your book, you were interviewing somebody and he was saying that he was kind of ticking off some of the many problems that alone could wipe out the human race, and there are quite a few of these which all have the potential to do so. And I’ve talked to people who only see that side of it and are pretty glum, you know, pretty pessimistic about the prospects for our long-term survival or even past the end of this century. But then your interview in the book, very nicely, I forget how he put it, but he expressed very nicely how there seems to be this counterbalancing force arising in terms of this, you know, mass awakening taking place, which you don’t see much on the news, but which is nonetheless real and significant and hopefully potent.
Lynn: Yes, and I think that that is coming out of that evolutionary imperative, you know, there’s a movement and it keeps, the consciousness keeps increasing and moving and accelerating, and it can get intense for all of us because this needs to happen right now, and it’s still, it’s just a race to, you know, like somebody else said in the book, you know, beat the clock against mass extinction, you know, this race, and we don’t know if enough is going to wake up and enough time to turn this around.
Rick: No, we don’t, I’m glad you said that because I don’t think we should be complacent and sort of like take solace in New Age platitudes about the golden age coming and all that stuff.
Lynn: We’re all going to ascend.
Lynn: We’re going to ascend.
Rick: Yeah, yeah, actually that’s what some of the Christians think, that they’re going to get pulled up, you know, to heaven and everybody else is going to just sort of live in flames. But it takes diligence, I think, and attention and sincerity, and for everyone who is in a position to do so and is aware of what we’re talking about here, to do as much as they can with their life to help shepherd this thing along.
Lynn: Oh, absolutely, and I know for myself, you know, the more my process evolves, it is naturally evolved from in the beginning, even the spiritual process was very self-absorbed, you know, like me and my spiritual experience and my meditation and my therapeutic work and my process, and there’s nothing wrong with that, it needed to be that way for a while, it was pretty consuming, and now it’s like opened up to include more of the whole and a concern for the whole, and a very deep knowing and experiencing that I’m not separate from the person sleeping on the cold sidewalk or whatever I see, the many countless horrors in the world, these are my own self, and I’m experiencing it that way, so not only I can’t dismiss it as an illusion, you know, in a way it is, and in another way my heart just breaks, you know, for what’s happening in the world, and there’s a natural movement to do whatever I can, you know, to facilitate and alleviate the suffering in others, and that’s where I got into what I called awakened activism, which I spoke about at the S.A.N.D. conference last year, because I have a political activist in me, I used to be one when I was younger and then I just kind of gave up and went into spirituality, and I thought, okay, I’ll find freedom that way, this is like politics was just too hopelessly corrupt, but I came back to it, I got inspired by Bernie Sanders trying to move towards a revolution, and because I saw one was desperately needed, unfortunately that didn’t follow through, and so I just sat with, for quite a while I sat with what strong opinions I have, when it gets to politics everybody has really, really strong points of view, you know, even sort of really awake people or very conscious people, you know, you can even get a group of people, and I’ve experienced this together in a room that have a lot of awakeness, and they’re still like fighting on these different points, and when it comes to politics, and I saw that we needed a more awakened, less divisive way of approaching the great problems that we’re facing on the planet, and somehow I needed to wake up out of my fixed points of view, and they were very strong, and you know, I’d fight people on them, and it took quite a while of sitting with them and feeling the reactions and resting in the reactions, and feeling the reactions and resting in the reactions, before I finally moved beyond that, and I feel like I’m holding them lightly, I have a real understanding that we ultimately don’t know what’s going on, on, you know, even political levels, let alone, you know, cosmic levels, and that opens the way to allow a movement of a deeper wisdom, again, not solving the problem on the level it was created, we need to move from an infinite wisdom, our little egoic conditioned mind can’t even begin to solve the problems in the world, and it’s only going to approach them from a place of opposition and fighting against, and you know, whatever it is we’re fighting against, anti-war, you know, when I was in the anti-war movement in my early 20s, I stopped because at one point I was in a massive demonstration and there was tear gas being thrown and yelling, cops hitting people, and I just stood there and I realized that I was protesting war in a war, that we created a war between us and the police, and you know, we have to get beyond all of that to be able to move into a kind of activism that’s sometimes called spiritual activism or sacred activism, and what I’ve called awakened activism, just a little bit different in that I’m just adding awakened non-dual understanding to that, you know, coming from a more undivided place beyond our points of view. And that’s asking a lot of people to do that, but I think that’s what’s required.
Rick: I think so, I’m reminded of that Buffalo Springfield song, you know, a thousand people in the street singing songs and carrying signs mostly say hooray for our side.
Lynn: Yes, right, and they’re right, and even the people fighting for peace and anti-war, you know, and even though it sounds like what they’re doing is right, it’s still, you know, they’re taking a stance and they’re fighting against something and they’re back in duality, and there’s no solution there.
Rick: There have been some nice initiatives where people have gotten together physically in a hall or something, you know, from polar or opposite ends of the political spectrum and have kind of like managed to sort of learn to see each other’s points of view and to find common ground and all. There’s some interesting movements and initiatives in that direction, but I definitely think, you know, getting back to the non-duality thing, that that really can be a tremendous asset or aid to doing just what we’re saying here.
Lynn: Yes, because that’s the common ground. Non-dual being is the common ground. When we start seeing we’re one being, one planet, you know, and stop all of this division and fighting against, you know, the them, whether it’s the blacks or the Muslims or the immigrants, there’s always a them, you know, we’re one being, we have to get into more of that understanding.
Rick: Yeah, Nisargadatta said that the ability to appreciate paradox and ambiguity is a sign of spiritual maturity. I know in my own case I’ve been to quite a few different countries, I spent three months in Iran one time, and Philippines nine months, and India a couple times, and wherever you go, even a country that you might consider to be antithetical to your perspective or belief system like Iran, many people might feel, you meet these gems, you know, these wonderful people and they’re everywhere. I mean, there’s another guy who I saw recently who is a black man who makes it his mission to convert Ku Klux Klan members, and having done so he collects their robe as a sort of a token of his success, and he’s got quite a few robes that he’s collected, and he just kind of sits down with them, man-to-man, human being to human being, and begins to communicate and eventually wins them over, you know, just through that directness.
Lynn: Yeah, and I think that that’s a part of what I call awakened activism, and also of our embodiment of awakening as we evolve, and we’re more attending to the whole and not just me, me, me. We each have a gift to offer, you know, we each have some special gift that we are offering to the whole, you know, we are this one being expressing itself in such, you know, seven point whatever billion ways, but as that opens up in us, there’s something we have to offer, like this person, maybe that’s his piece, you know, converting Ku Klux Klan members, you know, we each have something, and it’s only the ego that says, well, their gift looks bigger than mine, it doesn’t matter what it is, if it’s your particular gift that you’re here to offer, it’s the best thing you can give.
Rick: Very true, and you know, we all have different talents and different gifts, and also, I mean, look at nature itself, how diverse it is, how much variety, you know, look at the tropical rainforest, how much diversity, and then go to Siberia, and the animals there, and the kind of plants there, and just like wherever you go, if we want to speak of God or the divine, it just is like this explosive creative force that just keeps churning out, you know, diversity.
Lynn: Yes, explosive creative force, that really is what it is.
Rick: Yeah, and I don’t think, you know, you sometimes hear people speaking of a more enlightened world as being less diverse in a way, you know, we’ll all believe the same thing, or you know, there won’t be any individual governments, or who knows, but it seems to me that variety is the spice of life, and that variety and diversity can be harmonized, and its clashing parts can be reconciled or lubricated by this solvent again of non-duality.
Lynn: Yes, absolutely, it all comes together, you know, in that solvent, and you know, we can be actually, I think, more of the individual expression, that’s my experience, is that you know, the more I wake up, the more fully the Lynn-Marie expression gets to be. You know, she’s not so inhibited by all these insecurities and self-doubts and so on, and she gets to be more fully her expression.
Rick: Yep, I agree. I mean, all the quote-unquote enlightened people that I’ve hung around with have these vivid personalities, you know, just full of life, full of uniqueness and joy and expressiveness, and there’s, you know, no sameness among them on that level.
Lynn: No, no, not on that level, just on the being level, you know, the deeper being level, but yeah, they get to be more the full unique expression, and at the same time, you know, there’s the sameness, this is the paradox.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, I mentioned the rainforest a minute ago, the reason there’s so much diversity there is that it’s such a fertile place for plants to grow, you know, so there’s more diversity because the ground is nutritious for the plants, so, you know, the ground of being is nutritious for us, and, you know, tapping into that isn’t going to make us all the same, it’s going to make us different, in a way, more different, more unique.
Lynn: Yes, absolutely.
Rick: And yet, harmonized with one another.
Lynn: Yes, harmonized because we see we’re the same thing, the other is our own self, so that naturally harmonizes everybody. I mean, that’s the solution. We don’t know, like we said, how many people are going to really wake up to that in time, you know, to really change this planet, but you know, that is the solution.
Rick: I don’t think it’ll take a majority, in fact, it could be in the single digits percentage, because it’s so potent.
Lynn: That’s right, just a few people, really, established in that changes everything.
Rick: Yeah, 1% of the cells in the heart are called pacemaker cells and they regulate the synchronized beating of the entire heart, and in a laser, the square root of 1% of the photons have to align coherently before all the rest of the photons entrain with them and the whole thing behaves as one coherent beam of light.
Lynn: It’s true, yeah.
Rick: These examples in nature.
Lynn: That’s right, that’s right, so it’s not going to take a majority, that’s good news.
Rick: Yeah, and I suppose another way of explaining that is that the more fundamental a level you operate from, the more leverage you have, you know, the more influential you can be. Again, apologies to those who for me use this metaphor many times, but if you were to try to change the course of a river down near the mouth of it, where it enters the ocean, you couldn’t do it. It’s already run its course and there’s too much force, but if you could get back to the source in the mountains or wherever, where it starts out, maybe just with some little diversion you could change the course of the river. So if you can kind of get back to the source of your thought, to the source of your behavior, and just function consciously from there, with very little, you know, effort you can change the whole…
Lynn: Oh, because you’re operating from the infinite power of our being and that’s what has the power to change things, to influence things, so we need to rest back in that, plug into that, be that, and let that move as each of us, and let that do what it knows to do.
Rick: Yeah, and this would get us back to the relationship thing again, which we’ll keep coming back to, which is that, you know, if you don’t function from there, then by the time you’re ready to speak or act, you know, there’s such a sort of a… you’ve become gripped or identified with whatever you’re about to say or do, whereas if you do function more from the source, there isn’t that gripping, and so there’s a sort of a greater freedom to be kind of spontaneously in accord with whatever is the right thing to say or do.
Lynn: Yes, it gives you the space to do that, you know, because it’s resting in a big open space of allowing and accepting, and even if something comes up and does grip you, then you can always access that again, you know, to open up that grip, you know, whatever is happening, you know, that is the solution.
Rick: Yeah, I find in my own experience that, you know, I mean, if something comes up with my wife and I could say something, but if I were to say that particular thing, there might be three days of bad feelings, you know, or I could just say, “Hold on now, just okay,” and five minutes later, whole thing’s gone.
Lynn: Yes, I find that in my experience that, you know, oftentimes whatever comes up in relationship that can be resolved or solved in the awareness without ever needing to take it to the partner.
Lynn: Most things don’t need to be even taken to the partner, and if they do and you allow it to resolve in awareness, you rest it in awareness, then you have the clarity and the wisdom to know how to do that, and you’re going to say it in a way that won’t create bad feelings for three days, you know, so it gives you a way to be more awake in your relating, you know, have a place to go, so to speak, I don’t know how else to say it, to rest that does provide, you know, a wisdom and a space and a love to allow whatever is happening, even the intense charged things that come up in relationship, and to allow them to unfold in a way that doesn’t end up being reactive to the other person and causing harm.
Rick: Yeah, I mean think how many people are in prison because they behaved reactively or impulsively, you know, and if they had a little bit more discernment, you know, they would never have done that thing.
Lynn: No, no, most majority of murders I read, you know, have to do with that, just you know, emotional reactivity.
Rick: Yeah, incidentally, you know, those who are listening to this live, we got about 150 people on, if you have a question and would like to ask it, you can go to the upcoming interviews page on batgap.com and then there’s a form at the bottom of that page through which you can submit a question. Okay, so as we go along then, you know, we’re going back and forth having this conversation, but if there’s anything that comes to mind that I’m not bringing up, feel free to just jump in and we’ll talk about it.
Rick: Okay, anything at the moment?
Lynn: Well, maybe I can talk about what I call the three R’s of awakened relating, because that applies to everything, that applies to all of life, that might be useful for people, it’s just kind of a little map that came out of my consciousness, you know, and no map is absolute truth, but you know, I just tried to break it down in simplistic terms that could hopefully reach a larger number of people than just maybe the non-dual crowd, you know, so people could understand, first of all, the first R is recognize, you know, that it’s possible to recognize, as I spoke about earlier, this ever-present aware space that’s always here, that’s behind all thoughts, that’s always looking out of our eyes, that pervades everything, and that there’s simple ways, like stopping thinking for a moment and just seeing, you know, most people can stop thinking for two seconds and then see that they’re still here, what’s still here, and it’s not something that you can define or grab a hold of, but you can experience that there’s still something that’s an energy, a presence, something that’s aware, that’s still here, and we don’t have to stop thought forever, but for moments it’s necessary just to see what’s here behind the constant stream of thought that obscures this awareness that we actually are. So that’s one simple way of being able to get a glimpse of that, and if we get a glimpse of that, we see, oh yeah, there’s an awareness here in that gap, that’s awakening, that’s the very first step of awakening, you get that glimpse, you’re awake, then you have a chance of returning to that again and resting as that. So even if it’s for a couple seconds at a time, and for most people, people need to know this, is that in the beginning it’s usually only a couple seconds that people can be with direct being, you know, before the mind comes flooding back in and pulls us out. So it’s just returning to it again, even in very short moments, again and again and again. So first it’s recognized, then it’s rested in, and that needs to happen as often as we can remember to do it, as much as we’re committed to doing that, as much as we recognize the importance of doing that, that by going there we’re going directly to infinite being, you know, we bypass the mind and we go directly to that where it has everything we’ve ever needed or wanted. We start to understand that, we go there, even if it’s for a couple seconds. And then, you know, we learn to rely on that, we rely on it, you know, something happens in relationship or in our life, you know, where do we go? It’s good to take a look at where we go. Usually it’s like to our conditioned mind, right, that just has a bunch of conditioned thoughts, or we go to other people and their conditioned thoughts, you know, nothing that really goes anywhere, or do we go back to that direct experience of being, even if it’s a few moments of the power of that can change the whole situation, even in just a few moments. People think they have to like be there all the time or have some deep realization, they’re never moving from it. I’m trying to break it down so people can start to see that they can access this and bring it into their life. And so we start to rely on that, that goes, that becomes our go-to, that becomes a place where we turn for everything that we need, security, comfort, answers. And there is a fourth “R” that didn’t make it into the book, which is, I thought of after it was too late to make changes, which is realize, you know, ultimately we realize that we are that, that we’re resting in and we’re relying on, we are that. And the more deeply we understand we are that, we start to see everything is that. And to me that is what you could call enlightenment, or you know, being awake and starting with the first glimpse up to that. So that’s my little map that I thought would, you know, can be helpful to break it down, people, and give them practical way to move in towards that.
Rick: Yeah. And I guess I have two things to say to that. One is that if it seems appropriate, if it fits your lifestyle or whatever, if you can find some kind of practice that you actually devote your attention to exclusively for a certain period of time every day, some kind of meditation thing or something, where you sit for 20 minutes, half an hour, or whatever, I think that is a valuable engine on the train, as well as this thing you’re talking about that you might do throughout the day.
Lynn: It enhances it, because oftentimes, you know, the cutting through the mind to the direct awareness is challenging if you’ve never done any meditation, if you’ve never done any mind training, where you’re really taught your mind to be more concentrated and quiet. You know, in Tibetan Buddhism, Dzogchen, I have been influenced by that a lot, those teachings, and they would only give these direct instructions, a direct pointing out of awareness itself, to monks that have been meditating, I don’t know, 20 years more, you know, really had concentrated, quiet minds, then they would tell them. So, we don’t have time for that now, so people are being given this direct instruction without having done mind training. So, it can be helpful to do that, even though that’s not taking you necessarily directly to the awareness, it helps you to be able to see it and stabilize in it.
Rick: Yeah, and I would say, find a practice that is enjoyable to you, this shouldn’t be a chore. The guest I had on last week, Dean Slider, teaches meditation, he was talking about naturalness a lot, and you know, if it’s unpleasant to sit and meditate, you’re not going to do it, you know, I mean, so there are types of meditation one can learn, which you look forward to doing, and which are refreshing and enjoyable and even blissful. So, find something like that, if you can, if that appeals to you.
Lynn: Right, and we live in this techno age where I hear from a lot of my clients, they’ve got apps with all kinds of meditations on them, and you know, guided meditations, they go to their apps and listen to those.
Rick: That works for you. Personally, I would prefer not to be reliant upon any external contraption, but you know, whatever floats your boat, you know, whatever works. Another thing about you saying, realize you are that awareness, and so is everything, and you said earlier something about, I don’t know, something about belief in, yeah, belief in that or something. I just wanted to add that what we’re really talking about here is not a belief. You can stand on a sidewalk and read the menu and believe that the food in there is really, in the menu of a restaurant, and believe that the food in there is really delicious, you can starve to death doing that. You know, you have to have the actual experience, and there is a distinction between believing and experiencing.
Lynn: Oh, absolutely, and like many people that are in religions, they rely on belief rather than, and the belief, they’re taught that they just need to have faith in the belief, and then it keeps them from direct experience, and then even in the non-dual spiritual world, which I’ve been in like 25 years, you know, people, it develops its own religion, right, and its own concepts and dogma that people start believing in instead of going to direct experience, and I know for myself, and in many ways it’s been a blessing and a curse, that I just had, you know, I feel things strongly. I was, you know, as I started on this path, I was in way too much pain to rely on a belief or a concept. I needed real experience, and you know, that absolutely was necessary for me.
Rick: Yeah, and you know, I mean, that’s actually the scientific method, if you think about it, you know, a scientist wants to do an experiment on something, he has a certain amount of belief that his hypothesis might pan out, and so he states the hypothesis, and at that point it’s only a belief, maybe this is true, and then he starts doing some experiments to actually ascertain experientially whether it’s true or not, and maybe it will turn out not to be, or maybe it will turn out to be, but he’s not content with mere belief, wouldn’t get him anywhere. I think spirituality should have that kind of scientific emphasis.
Lynn: Yeah, might be helpful, yeah.
Rick: You know, one shouldn’t be satisfied with belief.
Lynn: No, well it’s not satisfying, so that’s, you know, like I said, for me it didn’t resolve my pain, so that wasn’t going to do it.
Lynn: You can’t rely on a belief when the going gets rough, it doesn’t hold up.
Rick: Yeah, another problem there is that if you try to make a belief absolute, then every other belief clashes with it, and so you see everybody else as the other, and as the enemy, and in extreme cases as deserving of death because they don’t ascribe to your belief.
Lynn: That’s right.
Rick: And that creates a lot of trouble in the world.
Lynn: Yeah, that’s caused, you know, most of our wars. Yeah. It’s crazy, but yeah, that’s how crazy it can get.
Rick: Yeah. Okay, back to these wonderful notes you sent me. This is a good fodder to chew on. Well, actually funny, the one my eyes just fell on springs right off of what you just said. Our world is showing us daily that living in an imagined duality causes massive suffering. Our world is a reflection of our consciousness. It is consciousness. We need to look in the mirror of that reflection and take responsibility for what we are all creating.
Lynn: Yes, I had mentioned that before, so I’ll just emphasize what I didn’t emphasize, which is to taking responsibility. That’s something that’s very difficult for the ego, egoic imaginary separate self, doesn’t like taking any responsibility, you know, it’s always something else’s fault. So, you need to have some, a little bit of a consciousness, whether it’s awakened consciousness or just be more aware conscious person, to be able to start taking responsibility, and that’s absolutely necessary to see for our personal lives, our behavior, how we are in relationship, what comes back to us, what feedback do we get from life. And it’s telling us, it’s a reflection of what’s going on inside of us, but the tendency is to make it about the other, right? The tendency is to always make it about somebody out there. And like you said earlier, our politicians are reflections of our collective consciousness, and that is so true with our current administration, you know, it’s a reflection of this kind of culture that’s been developed out of, you know, reality TV and whatever, and it’s reflective of it, of where our culture is devolving into, but people, you know, blame them, you know, or blame the current president, it’s all about him. And it’s really, can we take responsibility? We created that, you know, and same with the troubles we have in our life, we always have some responsibility for that, and so a willingness to take responsibility comes from having, you know, more living from a space bigger than the ego, because the ego just doesn’t do that.
Rick: Yeah, I also think that kind of like in relation to this point, that a love of truth is valuable. I mean, politicians for instance say all kinds of things that might please their base or might please their donors or whatever, but have no relationship whatsoever to what’s actually true. And you know, there are sites like PolitiFact which analyze the things that different politicians say, and they have ratings from, yeah, really true to pants on fire, you know, that it’s so untrue. And I don’t know, you can’t make everyone wish for that, but in one’s own life it’s nice to sort of have a desire to really know what’s true, and not only about political issues or things politicians might speak about, but about anything, about what your guru says if you have one, you know, is it true just because the guru says it? And I mean, there’s that great quote from the Buddha where he says, “Don’t believe something just because I said it, you know, test it in your own experience and your own understanding and see if it’s really true or not.”
Lynn: Yes, that’s good, because you know, aside from taking responsibility, being committed to truth is another quality that’s needed in order to awaken and embody awakening, and this is something that my teacher Adyashanti has always emphasized and I learned from him over the past 20 years, is he’s really emphasized a lot about being honest and truthful, first of all being honest with yourself, that kind of a rigorous honesty. There are so many ways we can delude ourselves and not be honest with what we’re actually experiencing and what’s actually going on, and being committed to truth, both on a relative human level speaking truth to each other and being committed to the deepest truth we know in any given moment.
Rick: Yeah, and I don’t think that means sort of in-your-face honesty necessarily, like my wife was at the dentist yesterday and they always have sort of 60s, you know oldies playing on the intercom there, and the dental assistant was singing some song and my wife said to her, “You know, you really can’t carry a tune,” and I thought, “Wow, that sounded kind of harsh,” and you know, I mean you don’t necessarily need to tell somebody their tie is ugly or you know, you don’t like their face or some such thing. There’s a story about Winston Churchill where he went up to a woman at a party and said, “Madam, you are the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen,” and she said, “Mr. Churchill, you are drunk,” and he said, “Yes, madam, but in the morning I’ll be sober, yet you’ll still be the ugliest woman I’ve ever seen.”
Lynn: He wasn’t too pretty himself.
Rick: No, he wasn’t actually. There’s a saying in Sanskrit of “speak the truth which is sweet.”
Lynn: Well, yeah, that’s it, you know, glad you brought that up because to clarify that, that that’s not what’s meant by speaking the truth, just you know, downloading all of your negative judgments about somebody, because the negative judgments are not the truth. So if we have some kind of reaction to somebody, mostly it’s always something reflecting back to us, some part of us that we’ve disowned in ourself and therefore we’re judging in somebody else, so we’d be honest about that in ourself, and then mostly nothing needs to be said to the other person. If we say we give truth to the other person, it’s usually something like, you know, instead of getting angry that they weren’t there for you in a certain way, saying, you know, I really needed your support and I’m scared, you know, all right, you know, that kind of thing, that kind of truth, you know, instead of saying something that’s not really true about them, when really what it is is that you’re scared.
Rick: Projection of our own thing.
Lynn: Yeah, so that’s what I mean, you know, by being truthful in relationship.
Rick: Yeah, well a question came in from someone whom I think you may know, John Lumiere Wins from Nevada State, California.
Lynn: I think I know him.
Rick: John asks, “Could you share some stories of using shared awakeness in working with trauma and/or relational wounding?”
Lynn: Share stories?
Rick: Stories of using shared awakeness in working with trauma and/or relational wounding.
Lynn: Yeah, I have some, you know, I have a lot of experience with that myself. John and I have a lot of experience with that together, and in my book I describe, you know, experiences I have with clients, and sometimes I just use everything that there is, you know, if I have a client who has some awakened awareness, then they can be with even very strong traumatic experience, which is the hardest thing to be present with, you know, it pulls us out of the present moment very strongly. So we resource the body in different ways, you know, through various work I can do, and we can just gaze together, just lock eyes and go into that awareness together, where there’s a field that opens up a presence, you know, between us that just holds the space for that experience to be had and to allow it to unfold. We’re there together, there’s the other, so they’re not alone, that’s the resource of being in relationship, you know, and there is a resource of maybe guiding them to feel their body in certain ways, and ground in that, and that massive resource of the shared presence of our own being, being there together, and allowing that intense experience to dissolve and open up into some kind of deep connected presence, it’s very, very beautiful, powerful process. To bring those things together.
Rick: So give us some concrete examples if you can, in terms of people you’ve actually worked with, like you have in your book, you have specific stories about people who did this work with you and the kind of changes they underwent.
Lynn: Well, I just described it, but you want me to describe the actual symptoms that they were going through?
Rick: Well, you know, like say, you know, what happened to Mary, and Mary did this, and this is the way she used to be, and then she became like that, and if you can give us just a couple of concrete examples of actual cases.
Lynn: Well, there’s cases like what I just described, where we came together, they were there within the shared presence together.
Rick: Like you have a woman in your book who had been sexually molested by her grandfather, and that definitely had an influence on her behavior and her relationships, and then she went through this whole process with you, and then her behavior and her relationships changed quite a bit. So examples like that.
Lynn: Right, yes, as I was just starting to say, there’s examples where that got resolved more with me in the shared presence together, and in that case, that person actually had a depth of awakening to such an extent that she was able to be with some of the deeper wounding on her own, that it wasn’t in my office that some of that happened. So I use that, even though that’s not common, as an example of what can happen with awakened awareness, that even on your own with something terrifying like learning to sleep alone with the light off for the first time in her life, and being with the terror of that in the presence of her own awakened being, and having that resolved within a week.
Rick: Yeah, because her grandfather used to come in to a room. He’d come in at night. You mentioned the siblings or the sisters would sort of trade off staying awake to stand guard or something like that, but it didn’t always work out, so it built this huge trauma.
Lynn: That’s right, and so she had a great fear of sleeping alone, you know, and so she had to overcome that, and that she did on her own with her own presence, but you know, in the other cases, you know, they worked with that with me, you know, so we have both of our presence there together, and that would be true for most people.
Rick: Well, a burning log can get another log burning, but once the other log is burning, it can maybe burn on its own.
Lynn: If it is burning strong enough, it can even get through something that powerful, and I wanted to give that amazing example so people could see that that was possible.
Rick: Yeah, sure. John also asked, “Also, what about being awake in relationship in relationship in the world?” I think a nice example of that was your chapter about Adyashanti and Mukti, his wife, and how they feel that sort of an awakened relationship based upon two awakened individuals enables them to interact in the world differently than might ordinarily be the case.
Lynn: Right, yes, and it also grows the relationship, there’s no longer this need to get something from each other, you can just more or less enjoy each other and share this love together, and it spills out over to wanting to give beyond the relationship, you know, that’s the fruition of awakened relating, it develops beyond that. So in the case of Adya and Mukti, they actually don’t spend a lot of time together. On the retreat last week, Mukti was there for the seven day retreat, Adya said it was because, so they could spend some time together, because they spend so little time together with their mutual travels, so they’re really just giving, you know, of what they have been given, they’re giving it out, both of them fully beyond the relationship, and you know that becomes more important than the relationship.
Rick: I was thinking before when you were talking about how earlier on you were sort of self-absorbed in your spiritual quest, you know, and then at a certain point you began to sort of have a more giving orientation, and it’s like it reminds me of the 23rd Psalm of “My cup runneth over,” it’s like until the cup is full, you’re going to be busy filling the cup, but at a certain point it’s going to run over once it’s full, and it’s going to continue to overflow.
Lynn: Yeah, that’s just a natural movement of our evolution, I think, is the more ego-identified we are, the more we’re just totally self-absorbed, and it’s all about me to actually insane degrees, you know, with what’s happening on the planet where, you know, people try to get more for them, like corporations, you know, denying other people a lot, you know, in order to get more money for themselves.
Rick: Oh yeah, I mean possibly extinguishing the human race just to make sure the next quarter goes better.
Lynn: Right, so that the heads of coal and oil industry can get more money. So it goes from that extreme to slowly opening and opening to more of a sense of the one being that we are, and the taking into consideration everyone, and taking care of everyone, and you know, in general this world’s not organized that way, but like you said, there’s gems everywhere you go, you find these beautiful open-hearted people. I think this is just my personal opinion, so this is just an opinion, that, you know, what’s really wrong with this planet is more the leadership than the people, you know, and it’s got a leadership that people with the most money and the most power tend to be on the greedy side, but there’s a lot of beautiful open-hearted people in the world.
Rick: Yeah, well, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” Bernie Sanders sent out an email yesterday about Disney, you may have gotten it, and how the head of Disney got like four hundred million dollars or something last year, but there’s a tent city outside Disneyland where a lot of the employees live because they can’t afford to live in ordinary houses, and Bernie’s email was about giving them at least fifteen dollars an hour, which is still barely a living wage, so there’s this huge inequity in the world.
Lynn: Yes, and that’s growing more and more, isn’t it?
Rick: It is.
Lynn: We’ve seen the tent cities, and you know, I just moved here to Grass Valley three months ago, I lived in the Bay Area for over half my life, and living in, seeing Oakland and San Francisco.
Rick: All these tents under the bridges.
Lynn: Oh my God, it’s just getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and nothing’s being done about it, they just keep pushing them away somewhere, and so this shows how far we’ve gotten from our true nature and our basic humanity and our inherent sense of compassion and caring for each other, how far away it’s gone from that, and the people who have, you know, they’re worth five hundred billion dollars and they still don’t want to pay taxes or don’t want to give their employees fifteen dollars an hour, it’s insane, it’s literally insane levels of greed, and that’s where it goes when we don’t wake up.
Rick: Yeah, and there’s historical evidence to suggest that, you know, extreme disparities of wealth and privilege like that lead to the toppling of civilizations.
Lynn: Yeah, they’ve all toppled, all of the empires have toppled for that reason, they always end up there where everything goes to the top and they ignore the masses, leave the masses with nothing, and then it collapses in on itself, so particularly the American Empire is right on the verge of that or it’s heading towards that.
Rick: Yeah, and you know, lest people listening to this think that they’re now listening to a couple of socialists, heaven forbid, you know, I think this is germane to the whole issue of spirituality and to the whole, to, you know, profound points such as we are all one essentially. I mean, if you’re really, if you think in terms of your body, you wouldn’t want to just like put a mitten on your hand in the wintertime and run around naked otherwise, you know, you’d want to somehow protect the whole body. And so if we really, if we are all one, and I think most people listening to this will realize that essentially we are, then, you know, it’s not good enough to just know that on a sort of a transcendent level. It really has to manifest, it has to be appreciated in terms of its full range of manifestation, and you know, whatsoever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me, to quote Jesus again. And I don’t know, it’s like, hopefully, if spiritual awakening is really dawning in the world, we’re going to somehow or other see things being shuffled around so it becomes a practical application of this perspective. And, you know, so much suffering, I mean, starvation is completely unnecessary now, there’s enough food in the world to feed everybody, but things just aren’t distributed properly.
Rick: That’s just an example of one thing. Yes, it’s like taking into account, first of all, the wholeness of ourself, just being with the truth, that’s it, it’s just being with the truth. It doesn’t work to live away from the truth, within separation and duality, we just come into alignment with what’s actually true, which we are the source of everything we’re looking for, and we are one being, so nothing’s going to work till we come into alignment with what’s actually true and include all of ourselves, including all of the hurt and wounded and abandoned parts of ourself and our whole being, then we can work towards healing the planet and taking everybody into account, and how can everybody have what they need? We take care of each other.
Rick: Yeah, I mean there’s actually almost a stereotype of spiritual people as being selfish, you see that sometimes, it’s like you were saying a little while ago, “me, me, me,” you know, it’s like my evolution, my meditation, my diet, you know, and it can get kind of neurotic, but maybe that’s a phase and people grow out of it if their growth is genuine.
Lynn: Yeah, it was a phase for me and it was necessary at the time because it was so all-consuming working through everything I had to work through, I didn’t have much space for anything else, and so it’s necessary at the time, but I did evolve through it.
Rick: Yeah, so we don’t want to sound judgmental toward people who might still be functioning that way, but you know, we do live in precarious times, I mean, you know, many people might deny it, especially if it has some relevance to their income, but you know, there’s a very real possibility that billions of people could die unnecessarily in the coming decades, for a number of different reasons, and you know, you can’t evolve spiritually if you’re dead.
Lynn: And it’s just interesting what it takes, we were talking in the beginning about needing hard knocks to wake us up, and it’s sort of like, how big a hard knock can you get than that kind of an evolutionary imperative, and still you know, people are sleepy, so it’s like I don’t know what it’s going to take, but you know, they are waking up more, for sure.
Rick: I think part of the problem is it’s a slow-moving train, you know, I mean climate change, for instance, take that example, it doesn’t seem like it’s happening very quickly, and you know, then there’ll be a snowstorm in Washington DC, and some senator will bring a snowball into the chamber and say, “ha ha, global warming,” you know, because people aren’t statisticians and they don’t understand science, and they’re not looking at major trends, and they’re not interested in truth, you know, they’re interested in pleasing their donors.
Lynn: That’s exactly right, and I think it’s saying that it’s pretty dire.
Rick: Yeah, so it’s funny that we’re meandering like this, from relationships to consciousness, to global warming, to politics.
Lynn: Well like I said it all applies to everything.
Rick: It’s all intertwined.
Lynn: It is, it’s all intertwined, and the truth of what is applies to all of it.
Rick: Yeah, and it’s kind of neat that we’re both talking this way, and I think not just us, but a lot of people do these days. You’ve got people like Andrew Harvey and others talking about sacred activism, Vera de Chalambert, many others, and I interviewed those people, Kimberly and Foster Gamble, who did the Thrive movie, and we were talking about how back in the late on their butts, the activists were shouting in the streets, and both camps thought that the other were in La La Land, and that nothing was going to… Now the meditators are sort of thinking in terms of sacred activism, and the activists are thinking in terms of spirituality, and there’s this kind of this marriage that’s taking place.
Lynn: Yes, and I think like Andrew says, you know, you have to DO something, you know, he gets so intense about it, you know, you have to get off the cushion and do something, and so I wanted to make that point too, that I know in the non-dual world it’s been common to think of, you know, do nothing and there’s nobody to do anything, and for many, many years I did not meditate because there was that influence of, you know, you’re not supposed to do anything, it’s all a matter of, you know, just being or just accepting what is, and you know, I eventually realized that there is a kind of doing that needs to happen. You could call it an effortless effort, the resting is kind of an effortless effort, but I also had to do, I had to backtrack and do some real mind training for a while, you know, to learn to have my mind become more trained and quieted. Not everybody has to do that, but I chose to do that, and there’s a constant kind of non-effort effort, intentionality that’s involved in this, it’s a giving everything, all of your attention, your devotion to this, it is a misunderstanding that there’s nothing to do or you’re not supposed to do anything, and that’s also true with what’s going on in the world. I hear people say, “Well, I’m waking up, and you know, that’s enough,” or “What is there to do, it’s all an illusion,” or these are all concepts, you know, that we hold on to, there is something to do.
Rick: Yeah, no, it is concepts, and it’s also a confusion of levels, that’s one way of putting it. You know, there is a level at which you don’t do anything and you’ve never done anything and nothing’s ever happened and there is no universe and all that jazz.
Lynn: But unless you’re there, that concept doesn’t do you any good.
Rick: Right, and even if you are there, you might be, to all appearances, dynamically engaged in activity, you know.
Lynn: That’s right.
Rick: Going back to the Gita again, you know, Krishna says, “What would happen to the universe if I did not continually engage in activity?” And yet there’s other verses which say that, you know, the awakened person, even sitting and standing and doing this and doing that, he does not act at all, and yet he’s doing stuff. So it’s like just a matter of appreciating that there are different levels of reality and we can kind of grow to incorporate them all and then we resolve these paradoxes. You won’t be doing anything and yet you’ll be doing everything.
Lynn: Right, that’s another paradox. Yes, and there is plenty to do in the world as we’re moved to, but it’s important where it’s coming from.
Rick: Yeah, well, we’re on this point actually, you know, many people, like maybe yourself in your old days, got burned out on activism because they didn’t have recourse to that silent level, and they were, like you said, there’s an old group in the called “Kill for Peace,” and look at the Weathermen and groups like that, they’re trying to change society, they’re killing people, what kind of society is that going to be?
Lynn: Well, look at our government, they’re fighting for peace, they’re creating wars for peace, you know, that’s Orwellian, you know.
Rick: All right, well, we got a couple of old radicals here. So, we’re almost going two hours here, and we’re a little bit retracing our steps, but it’s kind of fun because we’re kind of going around and around and back to the point and new point and back to the point.
Lynn: And like you said, they’re all interconnected.
Rick: Yeah, so hopefully people find this useful, but I do. So, in any case, before we wrap it up, maybe we should do a wrap-up that sort of gives a synopsis and a kind of action steps kind of thing that people can take to, you know, get something practical out of our conversation. How would you like to approach that?
Lynn: I think the most important thing would be to have that basic recognition, to either find a way to have that recognition, whether it’s pausing the thoughts for a few moments and noticing what’s there, or as Rupert Spira says, you know, asking people “are you aware?”, and it’s just, you know, just kind of getting aware of awareness. And if you already are aware of awareness, to rest as that, to dedicate, to devote yourself to that. All we really have to give is our attention, you know, to really rest attention in that, to know that that’s the most important thing that we can be doing. And out of that we awaken more, and out of that we become more the fullness of our expression, and that we’re able to give to the world in a way that only we can. But it’s not going to happen unless we go directly to our own being, and so to me that’s a very practical way, recognize this, it’s immediately available, but then devote yourself to it, and rely on it until it becomes more and more stable and obvious, and eventually takes over, you know, it’s allowed to consciously take over, it’s already doing this life. But that’s how we awaken, we really recognize it and then we devote ourselves to it.
Rick: Yeah, and I would say it’s a lifelong project, but the fruits of it are immediate, and so it’s not like you’re going to wait a lifetime for something good to happen.
Lynn: That’s right, yes, there’s fruits of that right away, you know, even if it’s just moments of more peace or rest, but there’s benefit right away, that’s true, and then that can motivate us. And then we can learn that when things get difficult within our life or within ourself that we have that to rest in, we have something to so-called turn to, you know, to hold us and inform us and provide for us with everything that we need. It’s not out there in the others or even a spiritual teacher or a partner or anybody, it’s that beingness within ourself.
Rick: It really does develop in one a reservoir that can be drawn upon, you know, in times of difficulty. I was talking to a friend and she’s saying her father has a sort of a kind of dementia that makes him really nasty and how trying that is and everything, but there’s this some kind of buffer that’s been developed through years of spiritual practice that makes it easier to deal with a thing like that.
Lynn: Yes, and it’s important not to, I’m talking for a while, not to wait till things get really difficult, you know, to turn to it. Then that takes a deepening of understanding of the value and importance of this.
Rick: Yeah, I was trying to think of a biblical parable, but there’s even the story of the ant and the grasshopper or something. What was the one thing where the animal is accumulating all the what it needs for the winter and the other animals are just fooling around and then the winter comes and it’s too late.
Lynn: Yes, and we do have to deepen our presence so it’s like strong and stable enough consciously to hold us in the really difficult stuff.
Rick: Yeah, and when the difficult stuff comes, if you haven’t been doing that, it’s too late to do it. You got to sort of do it as you go along so you’re ready. There’s a saying in the Yoga Sutras, “Heyam Dukham Anagatam,” which means, “Avert the danger which has not yet come.” So, you know, you’re in California, you have a book, people could read that wherever they are. I’d hold it up, but you sent me the e-version so I imagine that I’m holding it up here.
Lynn: That’s available for pre-order on Amazon right now. Yeah, I’ll link to it. I think the books will start to be shipped within a few weeks, you know, later in June.
Rick: Yeah, I’ll link to it from your page on BatGap. And aside from the book, is there any other way people can engage with you? Do you do any kind of sessions over Skype or anything like that?
Lynn: I’m actually doing more and more sessions over Skype because I’m transitioning from the Bay Area to here, and so yes, I’m doing a lot of sessions over Skype, so that’s available and you can connect with me through my website, this is myname.com.
Rick: Good, I’ll be linking to that from your page on BatGap also so people can get in touch. All righty, well thanks, this has been a lively conversation.
Lynn: Yeah, covered a lot of territory.
Rick: Yeah, thanks for listening or watching and thank you again, Lynn.
Lynn: Thank you, Rick. Bye-bye.