Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people, we’ve done well over six hundred of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com (B a t g a p). And look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, and would like to help support it, there are PayPal buttons on the website. And there’s also a page about alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Marc Levitt. I’ve just spent the week listening to or reading all of Marc’s three books, which I found very interesting and enjoyable and down to earth, and yet really profound. So we’ll talk about the content of those books during this interview. And Marc sent me a fairly long bio, but it’s just basically the kind of stuff he’s going to be talking about. So I’m just gonna let him tell us about himself by way of introduction. So welcome, Marc.
Marc Leavitt: Thank you. Thank you, Rick, I appreciate that. And I think you’re right about the introduction. Because the way I introduced myself or I present myself as just as an ordinary person, just like everybody I never had a teacher or Guru never went to India, never even really got into any particular path, except for what I read on my own. So the whole reason that I wrote the book was basically just for that, for my own myths, because basically, when I was growing up, I had my own myths, this was before the internet, we only had books to go by. So it’s easy for someone to just blow everything up in your head to be something mythical, and out of this world. I think that the main thing is, I always thought anything having to do with mysticism was out of this world. And that’s why I really appreciated your comment about the book being down to earth.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Because I guess that, was my attempt. Well, you know, the subtitle of this show is Conversations… Well, I think I just said it…Conversations with ordinary spiritually awakening people, and those words were carefully chosen. The word ‘ordinary’ is very intentional. And spiritually “awakening” as opposed to “awakened”, was very intentional.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah I like, both of those for that, for that same reason.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And the motivation is, we don’t want people to think that this is something where you know, you’re translucent, or you’re floating five feet off the ground because then they’ll feel like it’s never possible for them.
Marc Leavitt: Absolutely, and I’m glad you said, as a matter of fact, the second caption I had, in my second book was a picture of a before and after, after my experience. And what I thought before was a picture. So in the one caption of me as before, as me just normal with normal background, and then the after caption would have been a picture of me glowing with a normal background. That’s what I thought, after, you know, my experience would be like, and instead what it looked like, was a before picture of me standing there with the normal background. But in the after picture, instead of me glowing, me, I was blacked out of the picture. And then the world was glowing. So instead, the world was glowing instead of me. So it’s really more about a glorification of the world, rather than yourself. But also, I really love how you brought back the ordinariness of it. Because that’s, I think, why people get most excited. If you remember, in my first book, after I had my biggest awakening, that is the feeling that you get is that you want to tell everybody that this is it, the thing that you’re looking for is this. It’s not like you’re here, and then you’re going to be someplace else. And when I say that, I don’t mean just about that, as far as enlightenment, or as far as different realizations. But even as far as death, there’s no place to go, but this. You’re here, whether you’re dreaming, whether you’re in an astral experience, whether you’re having an enlightened experience, whether you’re dead, in the bardos. The bardos…everything that could possibly be is right here right now. This is it. And when I say this is it, it goes back to what you’re talking about, the ordinary reality that we’re looking at right now. So I appreciate you saying that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And it’s kind of a balancing act in a way because by ordinary we don’t mean blasé or mundane or insipid or anything like that. I mean, as you say, the world can be glowing. It’s theoretically possible for the kinds of experiences that Yogananda talked about to happen and the kinds of things that happen to people he knew. But on the other hand, if you, if we kind of make the whole spiritual thing, this other worldly super-duper razzmatazz kind of thing that doesn’t, that we don’t actually see any examples of in real life. It puts it into Fantasyland and it puts it out of reach of the average person.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah. Puts it out of reach Rick, I…that’s absolutely perfect. Because I think that the reason everybody’s talking about its ordinary is because it’s just your mind, this mind, this ordinary mind that we’re having this experience with right now, that is the same mind, it’s just a matter whether that mind is moving, or whether it’s still, whether it’s receptive, or whether it’s, you know active, but it’s the same mind, it’s not like you’re going to suddenly adopt a different mind, or take on a different mind after you die, or after enlightenment or anything, it’s the same mind. Just seen from a different perspective. So I don’t think anybody could emphasize the ordinariness of it enough. As a matter of fact, just recently, I’ve been starting to see that even all my ordinary childhood experiences, I’m starting to see how that everything in my life has been connected to this, to the point now that now I feel like I’m, to me, what’s been in my mind most recently for the last couple months is either the unborn or prior to birth. Just the fact that we’re sandwiched between our true existence or true existence is who we were before we’re born, and who we’re going to be after we die. So for me, it’s just all… it’s been recently coming back to something about the pre-birth or the unborn, prior to. Everything, that I think that all the masters are trying to point to, is something about being prior to. It’s not something that is going to be new. You’re going to step into something that is prior to even this. Something that’s already happening to. So it’s prior to and another reason why I like to work prior to, is because what I really point you back to is what all this is about, for me. It’s about encompassing. So when you recognize something or you awaken, it’s encompassing, you’re now encompassing something more. So I’m starting to notice that everything that we’re talking about, the pointing, the exercises is about just pointing that you are the encompass, you are the encompassing of everything. And we’ll get into that as we talk. But going back to the…
Rick Archer: Two points on what you just said, so I make sure I understand them. So this thing about, you know, what you are before you are born and after you die. I mean, you’re that now as well. I mean, you don’t…
Marc Leavitt: Yeah
Rick Archer: Obviously, there’s a.. what is that verse in The Gita, “The Unreal has no being. The real never ceases to be.” So we’re always that, but we just change bodies from time to time. That’s the underlying continuum.
Marc Leavitt: I like that. A perfect example, I just, I’m always trying to think of symbols for exactly what you’re trying to say, for how something is staying the same, while another part of it is changing. And the best example I could come up with is the tree. We already have the example of the tree, where if you look at the tree, the actual source of the tree is hidden. That’s not seen, all we see is what’s on the seen half of the tree. And that’s the changing half. But what’s directing what’s guiding those changes, everything that we see about the tree is really just the fruits, just the effects, just the result of what’s really going on, which is the tree which is the unseen. So basically, and I know the roots do change, so maybe the tree metaphor breaks down at this point. But bringing it back to this metaphor, the underneath of this would be the foundation would be the unchanging. And there’s another aspect of is that changing, but they’re both happening simultaneously.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Marc Leavitt: And that’s what I think is the most important part, is that, it’s not, there’s not a before and after they’re both happening simultaneously. We’re just aware of one right now, because of the movie mind. But that’s why we meditate. That’s why we practice stillness, because when we use stillness, that’s how we access the aspect that you’re talking about. The still part that’s always still. The still part that’s never moving.
Rick Archer: And presumably awakened people aren’t just aware of one, they’re aware, they’re, you said encompassing. One way of understanding that is that the range of our experience expands to incorporate both the unmoving and the moving simultaneously so that we have a larger container, so to speak, in which the full range of creation is.
Marc Leavitt: Yes. And for me, the only way that could take place is for you to take aware of awareness. It’s by taking, it’s by making yourself aware that awareness is taking place in the first place. That is what I mean by the backing up, just recognizing that awareness is actually happening. And once you start to become aware that awareness is actually happening, then you could see that all the things that awareness does, let’s say, like creating identities, or creating thoughts or creating feelings of a me, that’s something that you actually encompass, that’s actually something that you’re experiencing, you could experience the sense of I as attention, you could experience the sense of identification as a movie, you are the one, if when you back up your perspective to see all these movements or dynamics that are taking place in you. Why, because you encompass them. That’s the only reason you’d be able to see them is if you encompass them.
Rick Archer: And when you say backing up, I’ve heard you use that phrase a lot. I presume you mean that you, I mean, ordinarily, the attention is outer-directed. And we’re just kind of not aware of what all is happening behind the scenes, so to speak, because we’re always looking out. But what you’re advocating or describing is 180-degree turn of attention where we become aware of the inner values, and ultimately, the innermost value, which is the self. And so we’re kind of like, and then from that perspective, we see the whole range, without being oblivious to 95% of it.
Marc Leavitt: Exactly. You’re taking your actual perspective, your actual perspective, this is the way I see it. Our actual perspective is further back, we have just focused from life, from everything we’re trained to, it’s… and by the way, I don’t think this is an accident. I think this is exactly the way it’s supposed to be I don’t think there’s anything going wrong. I think the nature of awareness is we are focused, and we’re so focused on this…that we start to identify with it, because that’s all you see.
Rick Archer: Yeah
Marc Leavitt: With any situation, the more you back up, the more perspective you get. And I just think the human experience, or just the living experience, lends itself into being hyper-focused identification. I mean, put it this way, it’s a really intense trick that we pulled off. I don’t know if I’m jumping all around here. But I want to talk about lucid dreaming for a second since we are talking about awakening. When I used to go through a phase where I was practicing lucid dreaming a lot. You could get to a point where you can get too lucid, where you can get so lucid, you’re like, but this is silly. I’m just making things up. I might as well get up and daydream because this is all this is. It loses the quality of a dream. You have to give up some of your lucidity, to go back and actually have the lucid dream be lucid, because like I said, if it’s too lucid, you’re seeing the scenes of what would be a dream, but you’d know it too much. And it’s like, this is just me daydreaming. This is not a lucid dream. Like if I’m situated and imagined to you, I can imagine myself riding a horse. That’s not a lucid dream. But that’s how lucid the lucid dreams could get is, if you become too lucid. So I found out I had to give up some of my lucidity, to experience the dream and find that balance without getting too swept up in the dream and forgetting. So I think that’s what the human experience is, is we found ourselves too focused out of fun, out of sheer fun out of wanting to do this in the first place. But just like with Alice in Wonderland, she sought nonsense more than anything. She craved it more than anything, I just want nonsense. I just want nonsense. And once that desire was satiated, No more nonsense, I’m ready to wake up No more nonsense and that desire just satiates itself. And you find yourself spontaneously wanting to read books or wanting to do that or maybe meditate, attracted the stillness. But for me, it’s all a natural process of winding down that takes us there naturally and effortlessly.
Rick Archer: Good. There are two or three threads in that that I could pursue. But I think I’m gonna let you get back to what you were trying to say a minute ago. You were beginning to get into something that happened in your childhood, can you explain something of that.
Marc Leavitt: Okay, yeah, it’s really just a sense, basically, an overall sense that I feel like I’ve known this my whole life basically, is what I’m trying to say. I could go back to memories where I’m, I guess three or four years old, and actually playing with my mind and seeing how this works. Seeing how, choices work, like trying to beat my hand, trying to move my hand without thinking about it first, and realizing I actually haven’t, I didn’t have the context of free will or choice. But that’s what I was playing with. I was playing with to see if I had choices of free will and I remember coming to the conclusion that I don’t know how old I was. But at preschool age that it doesn’t matter, whether free will, and like I said, I didn’t have the words or the capacity to think free will. But whatever I was trying to play with to think if I had this thing that we call free agency, I remember thinking it doesn’t matter. Because at the end was like, we have the appearance of it, that doesn’t matter. So just make decisions on what you think is going to be the best thing. And then reality will present itself based on that and just trust that, so even at a young age, I felt like I was trying to understand the gears and the mechanism of our mind and the experience of being alive. Little things like I always felt like we were being watched. Little things like I always felt like, like this was a dream world and that we’d wake up, it would be like, oh, yeah, that’s right. And my, the feeling that I always had from that was this time, I don’t want to forget, I always had this feeling is, this time I don’t want to forget. But anyway, the only reason I bring that up is because these are all things that all of us have had I think our whole lives, we just haven’t thought about. We’ve put them in a box of childhood fantasies, or childhood thoughts. But really that innocence, that beginner’s mind has been with us from the beginning and I think all of us have inklings to our childhood that will connect this to this. Like I said, the pre-birth part, the unborn part, there’s a part of us that we remember, we were here before we were born, however you want to put that, reincarnation or not, that’s not even relevant. Just the fact that you “were” prior to birth is this overall…baseline and that’s what I want to talk about. That’s really what I want to start talking about, is what we’re really talking about is aliveness and awakeness. And we have all these different experiences in our lifetime. We don’t have to, pontificate, or, you know, read about mystics in the future, we actually have all these models right here for awakening, in our daily experience. For example, every day we know what it’s like to awaken. We know what it’s like to come to be, to spontaneously rise and just find ourselves here. We know what it’s like to wake and we have that in our brains. We have that in our inner muscle memory of…we know what it is to be awake.
Rick Archer: You mean, because we wake up every morning.
Marc Leavitt: Exactly. Yes, exactly.
Rick Archer: So, for you, I don’t know when you wake up, because you are like, working in a sleep lab.
Marc Leavitt: I’m constantly waking up, I’m in a constant state of waking up and falling asleep. So… I lost my train of thought…
Rick Archer: Me too. You’re saying we know what it’s like to awaken because we have that experience all the time.
Marc Leavitt: Thank you, Rick. The main thing is the baseline, the reason that we don’t take our dreams seriously, the reason we could so discredit our dreams so easily to the point that sometimes, even if you have a really cool dream, you don’t even share it. We could dismiss our dreams so easily. Even if it’s an emotional dream, you ever had a dream that made you cry? you’re gonna be able to shrug that dream off. However, with this world, even with the most mundane things, being lost in traffic or being late for work, you could feel like the end of the world is about to come…the seriousness of the world. And why? Because we wake up to the same one every day, there’s a sense of continuity, there’s a sense of…That one is not real, because it is encompassed by a bigger one, we wake up out of that dream into a bigger dream. So now that therefore makes the other one not important. Right so you’re saying the nocturnal dreams are illusory, or we dismiss them as such, but we take the waking state to be real as compared to the nocturnal dreams. And yet that too is a dream. Just a more concrete one. Is that what you’re saying? And the reason I’m saying that…I’m not just saying it. Death says it, we have death, staring at our faces, the new baseline. So basically, we know if you believe in death, if you believe there’s such a thing as death, we know that the waking state is not the ultimate baseline. But that is the only reason we give it any more credence than the dreams. We know that dreams are an experience. We know that they’re fully experienced, we’re dreaming, we’re crying. We’re having all these emotions. But for some reason, when you wake out of it, it’s easy to dismiss the whole thing. Why? Because you woke up out of it. But yet with this world , we know we’re gonna wake up out of it. We all have dead relatives. We’ve all been to cemeteries, we know that there’s death. We know death is a reality. That’s the future which means we’re sandwiched between birth and death. We know it ends. So therefore we know that this world is just like the dream world. So what are we just waiting to wake up and die and say, Ah, yes. Now I see all was illusion. You know it already. We have death in our lives, we have birth in our lives. We have all these experiences in our lives. Yet we’re somehow to do this cognitive dissonance to where…This is the real one. I know I woke up several times out of many dreams. But this is the real one. It’s a bizarre, to me it’s an unnatural inclination to hold on to.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I think what makes it seem more real is that it’s more concrete, and also that it’s, there’s intersubjective agreement about it. You know, you could have fifty thousand people in a baseball stadium, and they’re all watching the same baseball game. They’re not all having individual things like they might have if they all were dreaming. So, you know, it seems more objectively real than nocturnal dreams.
Marc Leavitt: It’s absolutely, absolutely. So anyway, the only reason I mentioned that is because these childhood memories, feelings, and intuitions let’s say, they stuck with me so much that when I got out of high school when I got into college, I should say, the first thing I did was I started to study astronomy, because I wanted to know, where are we? What is this place? You know, you’re at that age, where people are trying to tell you what to do in life, here’s your values, get a job, get married, here’s your thing. And I’m just thinking, before we decide on this, what is this? Where are we? You know, and it always kind of those like, Wait, really, it’s almost like, really, we weren’t given any instructions. We’re just here and no one knows. Like, there’s no historical data for why we’re here. And we just found it so puzzling. We just found ourselves here. And no one seems puzzled about it. I know we have religion, and we have things. But that doesn’t seem like people puzzled, it seems like they’re just reporting. Yes, there was a story of a myth and this and we’re reporting the facts, but there didn’t seem to be… Of course, I’m young, I didn’t realize there was philosophy and Eastern philosophy. But for me, with limited knowledge I have, I was like, before I decide to live my life, I want to know what this is, what reality is. So I thought because, like everyone else, I believed in the physical world, study astronomy, what is this? You want to study this, you study this. So I studied astronomy, but I found that astronomy was a physics class, at least my professor was a physics professor. So I barely passed the class. It couldn’t, it was not interesting to me, because I was always thinking, I guess philosophy, I want to know what it is. But it was basically a physics class. So that didn’t pan out for me. So then I thought, okay, if I can’t find out the universe through outer space, what if I look through inner space. And then that’s when I got into psychology and started looking into the mind. And then actually, that’s when things actually did start to pan… That’s when things did start to work. Because the first thing I discovered was meditation at the age of 19. And that is, I think, is the bedrock for all of this, Rick. Everything that we’re going to talk about, from everything that we’ve talked about, and we will talk about, is always going to be centered around stillness, simple stillness. And that’s why I think, for everybody, just meditation. Just the fact that we have the still aspect of us going back to what we talked about before, there is a still aspect of us that always exists, that has always existed and will always exist. And we are that. That’s what we’re actually processing from or experiencing from, is this unborn awareness. But yet, all we see is the reflection of it, is the stuff, its emanations. Kind of like if you’re the sun, and you’re so far back being the sun, all you see is your emanations. And that’s all you see is the sun rays. And so you’re thinking that’s something different. That’s you, looking at you.
Rick Archer: Let me ask a devil’s advocate question, that wouldn’t be my question, but some people might have it. And that is that, you know, somebody might say, well, you know, how are you going to understand the universe or what life is all about or anything if you’re sitting there with your eyes closed, kind of shutting down your mind trying to, arriving at or trying to arrive at a state of stillness, if you really want to understand, why don’t you, read the philosophers or, you know, study science or like you were doing… you started studying astronomy or study physics, physics talks about deep fundamental aspects of nature’s functioning, how are you going to gain worthwhile knowledge with your eyes closed?
Marc Leavitt: I would say they’re right actually, I would say they’re right. The next thing I was going to say is that my spiritual practice was a coupling. A walking. A left foot, right foot approach to either being extremely interested into experiences, which is all we’ve talked about so far, I really promote experiences. For me, everything is about actually experiencing something. So going back to what you’re talking about, the person that values more of understanding and actual understanding is going to put experience more in the subjective corner which I totally get. Because I did balance half my life. I was either really into experiences when I say experiences, meditation, I got into Hemi Sync. I’m sure people in your audience, I’m sure they are familiar with the Monroe Institute.
Rick Archer: Yeah, we need to talk about that in a little bit. In fact, some guy sent in a question about it already but…continue.
Marc Leavitt: Actually that’s a perfect, I will get into that. I’ll get into that right now. That’s actually where we’re going is. I got into, basically what I realized is my mind is the playground. My mind is the reality. If you want to study reality, you have to study the mind. And I realized my mind is the playground. So all I did was just constantly study the mind. And so all these different tools have come in, like the Monroe Institute, these Hemi-sync tapes, Out of body experiences, Salvia divinorum, lucid dreaming, as I mentioned, all these parallel…
Rick Archer: Salvia is a hallucinogen of some kind?
Marc Leavitt: It’s yeah, it’s more close…If you’d consider Ayahuasca a hallucinogen, it’s more like that, okay. It’s something that’s experienced for five minutes, and then it’s done. But it would be basically like being dropped at the top of Ayahuasca experience for five minutes, and then it’s done, so it’s not classified as a hallucinogen, but generally speaking, yes.
Rick Archer: Okay. So you were just…and it’s cool. I don’t want to have you lose your train of thought. But I admire and appreciate the fact that you had such an ardent interest in understanding what’s what, from an early age and you stuck with it. I think, like you said, why doesn’t everybody have this interest? I mean, why do we just take for granted that, whatever we’re told is the way it is, and we should just get a job and live life. And then, without really understanding what the heck we’re here for, you know, why? Why did we get here? What are we supposed to do? What’s the ultimate goal of life? I mean, is it just, you know, he who dies with the most toys wins or what?
Marc Leavitt: You know, it’s interesting. Now, I’m going through a phase where I’m looking at those people as actually being stronger than me. That they’re actually stronger, because I’m starting to look at myself as like a baby now, who couldn’t handle anything. And that’s why I sought out enlightenment. Like we came into this for a reason Rick, we explored this for a reason, we are unbounded, pure awareness and out of our infinite freedom, this spontaneously must manifest or we can have these limits, these laws for you to have this experience. And it’s just ironic that once we find ourselves on this side, all we want to do is get back to spaciousness, and no laws and no form and anything like that. So for me, I’m thinking, like, it’s almost like you’re ruining the dream, that you came in here to dream and you’re ruining it by waking up. And I know that’s not true. I know, that’s natural that we do that. But I’m just looking now, as people who are not, just extremely brave and extremely, extremely brave, I guess is the best way I could say it.
Rick Archer: And I suppose you’re saying that because they have to go through life, thinking that their fulfillment is actually going to come from the things that they experience outwardly. And in fact, those things are never ultimately gratifying or fulfilling. And so what a burden to carry. Whereas, we have sort of the cheat sheet of being able to tap into inner fulfillment, which is actually fulfilling. And the outer stuff is more like icing on the cake.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah, that’s exactly it, thank you, you could not have said it better. But I don’t want to forget your friend’s question about the Monroe Institute. Because that’s where actually everything started. Everything started after the Monroe Institute. So leading up to the Monroe Institute, like I said, for my understanding, I was really interested in pretty much just Zen and Dzogchen. I didn’t, I don’t have a lot of, a wide variety of philosophy, Eastern philosophy. I was like a magnet, I knew exactly what I knew in eastern philosophy. I zeroed in on Zen specifically, and Dzogchen, which is just Tibetan Buddhism, that’s extremely close to Zen just pretty much a mind-only school of Buddhism. So, taking that into context, I discovered the Monroe Institute tapes. And basically, for anybody that doesn’t know it’s a sound technology where they induce one frequency in one ear, a different frequency in the other ear, and your brain has to make the difference between the two. So it creates a beat frequency or a binaural frequency, and it creates an experience based on whatever frequencies you’re using. My wife uses these every day for cat nappers. When we had our daughter, we would put a super sleeper on for her every day. You could use it for meditation, you could use it for lucid dreaming, you could use it to quit smoking. They use these to die. For anybody who knows the Monroe Institute, people use these tapes to go to what the Buddhists would call the Bardos, and in the Monroe Institute they call them focus levels, but it’s basically the after-death where you get to do soul retrievals and all these different things. And I don’t want to get too far off track, but basically.
Rick Archer: Go for it But you have some really cool experiences of them. You describe it in quite some detail in your book you got really deep.
Marc Leavitt: I did, it was, okay…and you know what I will get on that didn’t want to get into it just because we have so much to cover Rick, I feel bound by this to…
Rick Archer: Yeah don’t let me get you boxed into little corners when you have a big broad picture of everything you want to cover?
Marc Leavitt: Yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, feel free to say “I don’t want to talk about that. We don’t have time. Let’s keep going…”
Marc Leavitt: Oh, no, no, no, I know. I do. But wait, what was your specific question now?
Rick Archer: Well, just that I was impressed by, I mean it made me feel like going there when I was reading your book. And the thing about the Monroe Institute and the kinds of experiences you were having were pretty cool.
Marc Leavitt: Yes. Okay. I mean, I’m glad you did stop me for that. And I will say that everybody’s experience is going to be based on you because it’s your mind. Just like if anybody has an Ayahuasca experience, it’s gonna be different, because it’s your mind, all these things are your mind. And even Robert Monroe would say, these tapes are not the magic, your mind is the magic. I was in a room, I was in a participant of 25 people, no one had the experiences I did, because no one had the background I did, they had the experiences that were appropriate to them. But it’s basically your mind, coming undone, coming unfurled. But anyway, the reason I do want to value and point out what the Monroe Institute taught me was that everything is the imagination. Everything is the imagination. Kinda like what I said before about how whether you’re dead, or whether you’re enlightened, or whether you’re not enlightened, or whether you’re dreaming, it’s all the same mind, there’s only one, I look at it as like an etch a sketch, all there is in reality is an etch a sketch. And the nature of the etch a sketch is to move and to draw itself. And it’s constantly drawing itself, it could draw itself as heaven, it could draw itself as Earth, it could draw itself as dreaming. But all there is, is the one spacious space where all happens, whether it’s Nirvana, whether it’s happened, whether it’s bardos, there’s just this aware space that all these things are happening. And at the Monroe Institute, at least that’s what I learned from my experience, that I was just awareness and all these experiences, were my mind. But bringing this back to the book and our talk, this all starts with, when I came back from the Monroe Institute. They, it was a particular program, we were learning by guidance, we were learning to access a higher aspect of yourself. And like I said, everybody is going to see this through their own lens. You’ve heard the expression, we don’t see the world as it is, we see it as we are. I see, think that goes with everything. Enlightenment, you don’t see enlightenment, as it is, you see enlightenment, as you are, you don’t see God as it is you see God as you are. So, what I realized in this experience is that everything that we’re experiencing is based on our base, it’s based on your heart, what your heart is, what your essence is, the way you actually experience the world. That’s what you’re going to attract to you. So for me, guidance was not a guide, not something external. But just guidance, it was me, there was just guidance. So some people would actually see a guide, you know, maybe was one of your old dogs or something like that. For me, there was only guidance. So as I practice guidance, I noticed that I was having some experience where I was popping back behind me. And I think that’s where I got the whole practice I described earlier about the backing up, I kept noticing this unique state was just behind me as if I was popping up just behind my head. And I was seeing myself from this kind of detached state. So one day, after I came back from the Monroe Institute, I’m playing around with that feeling, I’m just playing around with going back and forth between backing up and noticing. That’s the whole thing, Rick. Is, I really think it’s just about noticing you’re already back here. You’re already back here, as the stillness. As the stillness, we’re so close to everything. We feel like we’re the movie, but you’re actually not, you’re actually the stillness experience in the movie, and you’re just so close to it. It’s natural. It’s inevitable that you take yourself to be the movie, it’s just inevitable. But you can’t have these experiences, through stillness, that put things into context, that gives you a context, a backdrop. So anyway, so the first vision, and basically, before I get into this, the reason I call these “visions” is because I did have a lot of non-ordinary experiences. But four of them stood out because I had nothing in my context for reality to explain these. And what I mean by that, these were all four of these, what are called visions where I was living my normal life with my wife and with my daughter, I walk to the car, and all of a sudden what I’m looking at is overlaid… or not overlaid, almost as if it gives way to show that it was an overlay for something underneath, almost as if, like in the background, I could see the rest of the world but in, under, in the center of, my vision, I could see what’s underneath of what we’re looking at, almost as if I’m looking at you, and all of a sudden your face would yield to just white light. But I see the routing, I see what’s really there, just white light. So the first experience I had that with the vision, as I call it. I got back from the Monroe Institute, I’m playing in my kitchen, and I’m just looking at the kitchen absentmindedly. And next thing I’m staring at what was the refrigerator just became an ocean, just an infinite ocean. And I just knew that I was being shown that it was the universe. That this is reality, just an infinite ocean. And then I was, my perspective was taking in, or maybe just the ocean revealed itself to be all drops. So now I’m seeing that same ocean, but drops, and it was going back and forth, the ocean, and then the drops. And I just saw instantly, that Oh, I get it. We are both things, we’re the ocean. And then we’re also the drops. In the vision, I get from that. Because I know that’s not anything anybody’s never heard, the ocean and the waves. But the specific feeling I got from that is, picture the eyeball as an all-seer. So the actual physical eyeballs now see it. Now just imagine someone taking a screen, you know, like a lattice screen with squares on it, and they take it over the eyeball and it starts squeezing on it. So the eyeballs start pressing out from one of those screens, from all the screens, now you have infinite eyeballs. So it’s the same eyeball. But if you were to squeeze it with that screen or press it through a screen, now you get the same eyeball pushed through and you have eight eyeballs. So that’s what I felt like it was showing me. It’s one ocean, but there are particles, and you keep looking back and forth. It’s like it’s a screen, like a screen was just pressed and all there was just uniform water, as if someone took a screen and put it on the water. And now you could see, like I said, if you were to take a screen over an eyeball, I know it’s a gross visual, but just take a visual of an eyeball and someone squeezing it. Where now the eyeball’s protruding in eight, sixteen different ways. That’s what I felt like I was being shown. It’s the same thing, different perspectives.
Rick Archer: Are you trying to say that what you were seeing was that everything is oneness, but then this sort of individuation percolates up out of the oneness? Is that what you’re trying to say
Marc Leavitt: Naturally
Rick Archer: Or am I missing it?
Marc Leavitt: No, you are, you got it. And it’s natural and it’s spontaneous. It can’t be any other way, Rick, that’s the thing.
Rick Archer: So you’re kind of seeing the one and the many simultaneously, just… or oscillating back and forth between the…
Marc Leavitt: It’s the same thing. They’re the same thing. They’re identically the same thing. And it’s its nature is to do that. The ocean cannot be a wave, there’s no such… if everyone’s thinking they’re going to get to a point where there’s just an ocean, and that’s it, the ocean is gonna be wave. Going back to what you’re saying. The ocean is so deep, there’s a part of it, that’s always still, even though part of its waving. There’s a part of the ocean, that’s always still, but there’s a part that’s also waving. That is the analogy that I think that you were talking about earlier.
Rick Archer: Sure. And it’s right here. I mean, it’s not like, if we look at something such as I don’t know, this book, and then even what physics tells us about this book, when we go down to the molecular and the atomic and the subatomic and, basically, this book is empty space. But on some level, that’s what it is, if we could see it microscopically enough. But, on this level, on the level of human experience, it’s solid, it doesn’t appear to be empty. And both realities have their credence, you know, both are relevant and legitimate. And, you can’t say, well, it’s only empty space, there is no book, you could say that, and there are scriptures which do say that, but in the same breath, you have to say, Yeah, but…
Marc Leavitt: And, I want to get to that absolutely. As a matter of fact, I will kind of skip ahead for a second. I was thinking about that. Because, like I said, Now I’m listening to these teachings all day long. And I noticed depending upon whether you’re listening to Hinduism, or Buddhism, you know, between the two, you’re either going to hear that everything is either empty, or everything is all awareness. The reason I love Dzogchen so much is because they’ll never ever say the word emptiness, without the word clarity. It’s always the inseparability of emptiness and clarity.
Rick Archer: And clarity means what in that context?
Marc Leavitt: Oh clarity could… it’s just another… they don’t want to quite yet say awareness yet. Because to say awareness is a little bit too much because when we talk about awareness. It’s almost like we want to jump to consciousness, being aware of, so I noticed when they’re really describing the very subtlest essence of reality and we’re looking for our most basic, basic experience, you don’t even want to say aware yet, you want to go just a little bit more subtle than aware and you start, you want to use words like cognizant, or lucent, or, you know, wakefulness or something. And so the most general word that they use in Dzogchen is just clarity. It’s the inseparability of the clarity and space that gives rise to what we call, awareness. But clarity could also be the awareness aspect of. Like I said, there’s so many different religions and backgrounds, that as you know, we can’t cling to any of these words because they’re based on the cultures that they came from.
Rick Archer: Vedanta has a handy term in this context, which is “Vyavaharika satyam” which means transactional reality. And basically…and sometimes also called Mithya. And some, they use analogies, like, you come into a room full of pots, and they’re basically made of clay. You could say, and you wouldn’t be wrong, that there’s nothing in this room but clay. It wouldn’t be the full truth because obviously, there are pots and they can be used, as for holding beans or water.
Marc Leavitt: It’s clay as pots.
Rick Archer: Yeah
Marc Leavitt: That’s the whole thing, we’re gonna keep coming back to that.
Rick Archer: But it’s not just clay, it’s clay as pots.
Marc Leavitt: You can’t have just clay, there can’t be a big pile of clay. So a good picture of this would be a big pile of clay, and out of that big pile of clay has come in a perfectly formed pot, but it’s still connected to that clay. So that would be a good symbol of what we’re talking about. There’s just clay. But this is clay as a pot. It could be clay as a spoon. So that would be a good analogy, just to show clay will show clay forming itself. It’s natural. That’s its natural process is to form itself. So I want to get back actually now. Go ahead. I’m sorry.
Rick Archer: Well, just like you take your daughter, for instance. I mean, you could take, you could have jars on the table that contain all the chemicals that make up your daughter. But you wouldn’t just say well, that’s my daughter, because obviously, you know, the arrangement of those chemicals imbued with life is something very different than just these component parts.
Marc Leavitt: I love it.
Rick Archer: So you just have to sort of keep playing this dance where you respect all levels of reality.
Marc Leavitt: Yes. That’s exactly all of it. You just set it Rick, all of it, everything. And that’s the other thing too. I’m just going to briefly say, you know, when people just want to dismiss this world as a dream or an illusion, what else do you got? This is it. This is what the imagination does. All there is is imagination. If you’re expecting to go to a rock-solid reality, where there’s God and the Buddha in their sitting there, like nope, the dream’s done, this is real, rock-solid reality. No, all we have is imagination. So if you want to degrade the role by calling it an illusion, then you just don’t understand what illusion is, because imagination is all we have. This is it. So, illusionary is not a denigrating thing to me. It’s just more of an impersonal descriptive. I actually… it’s, I guess, really, we use it to describe a misperception, if we use the word illusion, because we’re misperceiving what it is.
Rick Archer: Yeah. That’s a good way of putting it. Just throw in one more quote and I’ll be quiet and let you continue. Just since you use the word imagination. Shankara used a nice phrase when he said. “The intellect imagines duality, for the sake of devotion”.
Marc Leavitt: I love it. And I think in the Buddhist that’s what the Bodhisattva vow is. And I think all they’re saying, all these personifications are our natural instinct because we’re aware, we come down, we exist almost out of compassion. We are here almost…because we just can’t help it. We just can’t help it. It’s inevitable. And what I mean by that is that in reality all there is, as you said, is just unbounded aliveness. There’s space, and there’s the inseparability of space and awareness. And that unboundedness of it expresses itself as freedom. So aware-space version of freedom is activity. It’s complete space that has the freedom to act and to move, and we are the activity. All we experience is activity, going back to the Etch A Sketch. Just picture space as the Etch a Sketch itself, and the aware part of aware-space as that little mover, in the Etch a Sketch. It’s the inseparability, it’s always going to be moving. It’s always gonna be constantly taking pictures. So the aware-space is always gonna be showing pictures of whether it’s heaven, whether it’s hell, whether it’s a dream, it has no choice but to move and show you something. Because that’s its nature, its energy, its aliveness, it’s not dead. It’s alive. And there’s space, the inseparability of the two, boom, we have all this incredible freedom, all this incredible appearances. And as appearances, all we want to do is end them, all we want to do is stop the appearances. No more, I just want space. I just want to have the space, you are empty space, getting the freedom that you have.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, that attitude implies that the universe is a mistake or an accident.
Marc Leavitt: Exactly, it’s inevitable.
Rick Archer: And we should get out of it as quickly as possible. And so now we’ll have that attitude. But I don’t know, to me, that’s sort of an insult to God.
Marc Leavitt: I agree.
Rick Archer: Like he didn’t know what he was doing.
Marc Leavitt: Absolutely. But I don’t think that. And I know you don’t either…that God didn’t do anything. I think this is inevitable, and just the nature of what it is. It all takes place inevitably out of the nature of what it is because what is it? It’s awareness. All we’re talking about is awareness. And once you acknowledge awareness, everything becomes inevitable. What is awareness? Awareness is to be aware, what is there to be aware of, there’s nothing but awareness. So awareness has no choice but to become aware of itself. And that’s why we riddle ourselves with a beginning and a big bang. There is no beginning there is no big bang. There’s awareness aware of itself. And because… now here’s the other cool thing, though. When I, experienced this, when I saw this, I saw it as a sphere. So basically, the way I’ve gotten any of these visions is basically just contemplating my basic experience, just always, what is this? What is my basic experience underneath everything? We/you can call it the mind, you can call it reality, you can call it the I, you can call it the self. But what is this? What is the basic experience? And as I looked for the basic experience, it would, it shows itself as what you are prior to anything, and that’s why we can’t talk about it. That’s why we have all these words, to try to describe something that’s impossible. Because it’s Essence, because it’s not actually real. We’re here in the real of externalized. But what we’re talking about is pure essence. And so it’s not actual, it’s not externalized, we are the externalized. So what we do is, we project, we can’t help but to project so All there is aware-space, but when aware-space becomes aware of itself. It basically, the way I saw it, is it invaginates on itself. So awareness actually implodes on itself like a black hole to become aware of itself. And what I noticed was, so all you have is aware-space, and so when aware-space contracts in itself, it’s experience externalized. So now you have awareness as individual lives and now you have space as almost like a physical space. So the world that we’re looking in, we call it space-time matter. But it’s an externalization of what the real reality is, which is just pure aware-space. So as that is, like I said, invaginated inward. So the universe…so when I saw this expanding, so basically all there is, is awareness and space, and the inseparability of them makes it expand, but we think of expansion as going outwards. And what I saw was, it’s actually expanding inwards, it’s expanding inwards. And so your experience is kind of like a black hole where everything that you’re seeing, is you, bent over, looking at you as something else.
Rick Archer: And so what you were just saying there, if I understand. We were talking about this a little bit before we started the interview. Are you explaining there, the sort of, the mechanics of creation in terms of consciousness as the fundamental reality becoming aware of itself and setting up a triune or threefold structure in so doing, and then this giving rise to material creation? Or were you actually just talking about something else, just then?
Marc Leavitt: No, I think that is it. I think the essence is that. That basically, it’s inevitable because, yes, okay, to answer your question, I’d say the triune that you’re talking about is inevitable, because of the essence of what it is, is awareness. And the nature of it, is to be attracted to itself. And out of that, you’re naturally going to have an emergence of a third thing. The best way to show this is on the cover of my third book. As if you take the One, so let’s say… (yeah, I think I appreciate that, Rick) Okay, so you have these sticks on your book… If you imagine the stick as the One so that all there is is awareness. The nature of awareness is to become attracted to itself. So that stick would find itself bending towards itself. And as it’s finding itself bending towards itself, that friction, that intensity of the attraction, would spontaneously cause the fire from within that was already there, for the stick to manifest as fire. And the reason I think that’s important is because it shows the fire was already there. And when the fire emerges, it actually eclipses the stick, in the rubbing, you don’t see the stick and you don’t see the rubbing. We don’t see awareness, and we don’t see space, all we see is the result of the inseparability of aware- space, which is these colors, which is this myriad of forms. And what do we call this myriad of forms, we call it space-time-matter. That’s what we call it. We think we’re living in space, but it’s an externalization of the actual space of the Great space that everything exists. And it’s a physical space, that’s a reflection of the actual space and what exists in the space…life matters. All it is is just organic matters, organic matters. Because what is that? That’s a reflection of what it actually is, which is pure awareness. So you have pure aware-space, externalize, and it appears as, you have a physical space and physical light beings, separated and interacting with each other, when that’s actually what it is. But a reflection of the reality of what it truly is, which is just pure-aware space turned on itself experiencing itself as physical space and physical matter. Another one, I’ll give the perfect example for the triune that I really rely on, is the classic prism. When you have the light, shining through the actual prism, and on the other side, it comes out white light, it’s the same thing on both sides, whether you have white light, or whether you have the color, the color still is the white light, it never stopped being white light, the essence of the rainbow is white light, it just appears as color. So you’re not going to change the rainbow into a white light, you’re just going to perceive the rainbow to be different. To perceive it as it is, which is actually white light. So there’s not two different things. We don’t have a rainbow, and a white light. There is just white light. But when that white light is bent, it appears as a rainbow. But as we know, we have these experiences, we have these things to allow… how we know how something could appear to be something but we know it’s not that. We have this in our in our muscle memory.
Rick Archer: So what you’re saying here, just to help people understand is, you’re trying to…Everybody who’s listening to this interview has heard statements like “it’s all consciousness”, or it’s all Brahman, or it’s all Being, and so on, it just appears as physicality. Everyone’s heard people or books, say that kind of thing. What you’re trying to describe are the mechanics through which this appearance arises. And those mechanics being what we might call the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness. So there’s this fundamental field of consciousness, its nature is to be conscious, there’s nothing for it to be conscious of, at that level other than itself, so it becomes conscious of itself. And in doing that, it sets up this threefold structure of observer-observed and process of observation or no or known and process of knowing. And that threefold structure gives rise to the whole appearance of physicality, materiality, the physical universe, that’s what you’re attempting to explain here, right?
Marc Leavitt: Yes. And, a further point, that the world that is created out of it. So let’s take the example of the rainbow. The rainbow, which is let’s say the child, so let’s say the parents are the white light and the bending. Those are the parents. The emergence from the attraction of the white light to the bending, the inseparability, that’s the whole thing too. I don’t use the word union or anything like that. Everything is inseparable from the very beginning. So the inseparability of the light in the bending, spontaneously and necessarily manifests as a rainbow. And once you see the rainbow, you don’t see the parents anymore, you don’t see the white light and you don’t see the bending, all you see is rainbow. And that’s the situation we’re in now, where the more famous metaphor for that is the ocean and the waves. The ocean is what everyone’s trying to achieve. That’s the Oneness. That’s the placid, perfect ocean. But all we see is the waves, we can’t see the Oneness. That’s all we see is waves, waves, waves, waves, waves. But yeah, they’re the same thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and then there’s the whole movie screen analogy too. You go to the movies. You don’t go to see a screen, you go see the movies. But you wouldn’t be seeing the movies, if that screen weren’t underlying. Now, in a way, you go to see the movie, but you don’t really want to be in the middle of a war, or a car crash or have robbers chasing you or anything, like the kinds of things that are in movies. You go knowing that it’s safe to be there, because, it’s really only a movie. And we were talking about that before, how you were saying in a way, people who don’t get that it’s just a movie and that there’s an underlying screen are the brave ones because they really think that they’re in the middle of a war.
Marc Leavitt: The space…Exactly. And that’s all there is. Just the space and awareness and everything that we’re experiencing is just the interaction of the space and awareness, showing us what we’re experiencing, which, like you said, is the experience of Being. Is the experience of being a perceiver of a something. That is the result of this dynamic. It’s not a mistake. It’s actually the result of it. Exactly.
Rick Archer: They don’t realize that it’s just a movie.
Marc Leavitt: You can pull your safety shoot anytime you want, just remember!
Rick Archer: Yeah you can get up and leave the theatre, if it gets too scary! So that’s the advantage I think of spiritual awakening is that…One of the many advantages is that it enables us to take, to have much greater equanimity in dealing with the vicissitudes of life.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah, I think equanimity absolutely, is perfect. Just because going back to the rainbow analogy, you do see even though that we have all these varieties between red, orange and yellow, they are equal. They’re all white light. The orange is white light, the pink is white light, the blue is white light, that’s their equalness. There’s diversity, but they’re equal in their essence. In what they actually are. Not their appearance.
Rick Archer: Now, a few minutes ago, you were about to tell us four different experiences that happened after the Monroe Institute. And I don’t know how many of those we actually got into. Do you want to loop back to some of that?
Marc Leavitt: Thank you, I was just about to go there. So the first one was just the simple vision of me coming back from the Monroe institute and being shown the contrast of the water, the ocean, and then the particles, just the ocean, the particles, the one and the many. After that, the second experience happened a few months later, and this was the first really jarring one. Prior to this point in my life, any of the non-ordinary experiences I had, I could have just dismissed as meditations, or I was at the Monroe Institute, or I was doing a tape and that could explain a non-ordinary experience, but the following experience I’m going to explain, there was no context for it. I wasn’t meditating, I was in my living room, playing the guitar to George Harrison’s ‘My Sweet ‘Lord. And I was just feeling all this love and all this devotion to reality, just this up swelling of love to reality, and just feeling and the song, anyone’s listening to ‘My sweet Lord’. It’s a song about longing, longing to be with God and longing to be back with it. And why does it take so long, it’s just this feeling of just longing. So I’m feeling this gratitude and this devotion to God and reality, the Supreme Source, just feeling this incredible devotion and gratitude. And then right in the middle of the peak of this gratitude, this up swelling of joy, I heard a voice that spontaneously said, ‘Look behind you’. And I did. As I’m playing my guitar, I look behind me. But now when I look behind me, I’ll see my wall. But at that moment, when I looked behind me, I saw the void. I didn’t see behind me, there was absolutely nothing behind me. And in front of me, was still the world. But the world was now at a distance. I don’t know, just a few feet, but just enough to show that there was a gap between me and the world. And just the seeing of it you recognize exactly what it is for what it is. You’re staring at a screen, just by backing it up, just by having what we see backed up, you say ‘Oh, my gosh, my living room and everything I’ve been seeing my whole life has just been a screen’. And I just kept going back and forth between looking at that. Gawking at my world that the whole world I put treasure in. My wife’s upstairs with my baby. That’s on the screen. That’s all on a screen in front of me. So I’m going back and forth and looking at that, and then looking behind me and just…void. There’s absolutely nothing behind me. And so I go back and forth between writing all this down. I’m writing all this down, I’m looking in front of me, and I just, I can’t stop the void behind. It’s like there’s a void always stuck behind our back. Like we’re always experiencing the void. And now actually, I want to go to the share screen thing we talked about because in the second book cover…
Rick Archer: Sure
Marc Leavitt: I actually use something like that for the book cover to show that. So let me share the screen of what I mean by seeing behind me. So this is what the experience would be like. Everything that we see in the world, it seems like we’re in it. But in reality what I saw, is for just our faces are smooshed up to a screen and there’s nothing behind us. Our faces are smooshed up so close to a screen that we feel like we’re inside the world. We feel like we’re one of those people, we’re inside the world, but we’re not, we’re perfectly still. We’ve always been perfectly still, like we’re in a virtual reality, just always still and just watching the world. As you described watching different worlds come and go. Like the TV screen. After you die, something different is going to pop up. Or, when you go to sleep, something different pops up. Everything. If you go through a profound experience. If you go through any type of life-change, your scene’s going to change, your world’s going to change, you’re going to introduce new characters into your life, you’re going to draw new places into your life. As you change your scene changes, your reality changes. Based on your heart, based on your essence. So as you change your recognition, your perception, the way you see the world changes. Your actual physical world changes, because you’re the creator of that world. So you’re going to create different people, different essences, different vibrations, different scenes, different places, the whole different world, based on your heart, your essence.
Rick Archer: So that book cover you just showed, and the point you just made. Are you saying essentially, that, whereas most people experience…they think of themselves, as this body. I am this body, and I am in the world, I’m moving around, I’m going here, I’m going there, I’m doing this, I’m doing that. Whereas you’re saying that it once you sort of step back far enough and know yourself to be the vastness or the void or whatever word you want to use, then the orientation, flips, such that you realize that this body and this world, and everything that exists is within me.
Marc Leavitt: Yes.
Rick Archer: I’m not within it. It’s within me. Is that what you were getting at?
Marc Leavitt: Yes.
Rick Archer: Yeah, It was not a concept. It was a visceral experience.
Marc Leavitt: Absolutely. One hundred percent. But the thing about it Rick though, was the realness of it. I mean, really. It was…I felt, I couldn’t tell anybody about it. It was literally like seeing a UFO. Because when I go tell you, let’s say I tell you, I saw UFO. I’m now actually intruding upon your reality, because I don’t know how you philosophically feel about UFOs or anything.
Rick Archer: No I’d love to hear about it if you’ve seen one. I want to know.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah, exactly. But it’s a heavy thing to put on somebody. I didn’t tell anybody…Say ‘By the way, none of this is real. We’re all smooshed up against the screen, experiencing reality, and we’re on a virtual reality. We’re all inside of a virtual reality. And none of this is real’. I didn’t have the inclination to share that at all. I didn’t have the slightest inclination to share that at all.
Rick Archer: You should have been playing ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’, instead of ‘My sweet Lord’, you know…
Marc Leavitt: Yeah
Rick Archer: ‘Nothing is real, nothing to get hung about…’
Marc Leavitt: But what it did was, is it just emphasized the void. I just saw the void as my true home. I was like, Oh, my God, that’s what we actually are. We really are the void. This is our reality. This is the unchanging. The unchanging is the void, and what we’re seeing changes. And that was profound, because that now shaped my practice to be based on that. And what I found was once I had that experience, when I started to look at the experience, I revisited the spiritual path, revisited all the books I was reading. And I realized, all the books at least that I was reading, they’re leading us towards death, they’re leading us to kill ourselves. Now we call that egolessness. Or, they’re trying to shrink your ego. But really what it feels like is. It feels like you’re being suffocated. It feels like what I described is like a suicide mission. When you practice spirituality, and you want to yield yourself to more of what is, and not try to insert yourself and try to move things or steer things or find yourself trying to control the world. It feels like suicide, to let yourself be, to let yourself be without a…how do I say this…reminding yourself that ‘You are’. Or creating yourself every second by saying ‘I am…I am doing this’. To not do that is to starve yourself. We don’t realize that but, to keep this, and I don’t even want to say the word facade. But to keep this appearance of you being limited, it takes a lot of work, you’re constantly having to talk yourself, you’re constantly have to think about it, you constantly have to create what I call a Stick man. And the way I look at it, is we create a Stickman with our thoughts. I’m Mark, and there’s an arm and I like to do this. There’s a leg and the more thoughts you have mirroring each other, the more that Stickman becomes real. And now he’s got eyeballs. And now he’s got a nose and he’s got…The more of these thoughts that could come together that you’re believing in, you’re building a stick man, and all the practices, is to stop building the Stickman. To don’t invest in the stick man, to trust the void, to trust the empty space, to trust your silence, to trust your stillness, and to stop building your thoughts, to stop continuing your thoughts of building this idea of ‘Yes, I’m doing…’. So you’re watching your thoughts and you’re realizing I’m creating myself constantly. I’m in my head constantly creating myself with ‘I wish I did this. I wish I did that. I’m doing this…’. And what I found was the suicide mission was to stop all that, basically to go backwards and to not put all that energy into creating a sense of self and to let it…to feel free to just let it hang in space to just be, without you trying to pin it down and hold it and maintain it, to maintain it.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, it comes to the mind as you say that is a couple of verses in the Yoga Sutras, where, what you’re saying essentially, is that, there’s a constant state of excitation which keeps us manifest, you know, which keeps us individuated.
Marc Leavitt: Yes.
Rick Archer: And those verses in the Yoga Sutras are the second verse in the first chapter is Yoga, which means just basically Union or falling back into the void. Yoga is the cessation of those fluctuations. It’s the settling down and quieting down of those fluctuations. That’s the second verse, then the third verse is, ‘Then you rest in the self’.
Marc Leavitt: I love it. I’ve never heard that, but I love it. And that just reminds me, okay, yeah. Okay, now you’re getting to actually what was the essence of my understanding. So remember, I said, I had two different, I was doing two different things. One was working with actual experiences, whether they be meditation, Monroe Institute, lucid dreaming, sometimes actual experiences. And the other part was understanding. The part that I was doing the understanding on was the Buddhist part. So it’s a lot about death, everything, you know, The Tibetan Book of the Dead, where the Buddhists look at life as a preparation for death. So it also…The Monroe Institute does. So all of my experiences at the Monroe Institute or with Buddhism, or even when I was in childhood, knowing that death would be the next baseline, that we think that waking is the real baseline, I knew that death was the actual baseline, and this was a dream…to death. So you have a dream, then you have waking, then you have death, that’s just the baseline to waking, just like waking is a baseline to dreaming. So I knew that death was the bigger baseline, the more encompassing baseline of what we come from. So my attitude, what of all the Sutras of everything that I read, the reason I like Dzogchen, was one particular Sutra, that one sentence and it just stuck out. It’s called ‘The King that created everything’. So the king that created everything, is the Supreme Source, and the Supreme Source is the mind. And so basically, the highest essence is to recognize that all there is is mind. And anything that exists, is imaginations of the mind. So therefore, whatever you see, you have to recognize it as an emanation of you, as mind. So basically, the practice for death, is to acknowledge this. To acknowledge what you truly are, is awareness. So upon death, that when you get the visions, when you’re swept up into the bardos, and all the visions appear themselves, and you’re going to get seduced by all the different things that could be raised, ‘Come over to this bardos and we’ll show you the secret to the universe. Come over here. And we’ll do this’. Whatever the thing is…
Rick Archer: There’s a bunch of recruiters there on the other side.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah, it’s seducers, yes exactly. But it’s your mind. But it’s your mind coming undone Rick, it’s your mind coming undone. All your fantasies, hey, we can finally have it, we can know the secret to the universe, we can have, all of your pleasurable desires. Whatever. It’s your mind coming undone, and your mind knows you more than anything, and you’re going to get seduced by all these things. And what you have to do. The practice is, to remain aware of your true self as just awareness. So every single vision that appears before you, you’ll recognize it as an emanation of yourself, you’re not going to believe it as an external reality, you’re going to recognize it as an emanation of yourself, that no matter what appears before you, the greatest joys, the greatest heavens, you have to recognize that as mind, All there is is mind, and this is emanation of mind. And I’m not going to believe it. That’s the whole thing is, you can’t get into the thing, right ‘I believe this’. And now, that becomes a reality. That’s how the bardos turn into the next life. Whatever you believe. There you are.
Rick Archer: So you’re saying that, if you’re so well established that you don’t believe it, when you die, then you won’t be reborn? Is that the idea?
Marc Leavitt: I think so. And I don’t know that for sure. It could be. I’ll go back and forth on this. Well, for one part, overall, I think there’s inevitability of this. I don’t think there’s never an end. So there’s always going to be existence. So on that level, it doesn’t make any sense for this to be an end. But I think there’s the appearance of that. And what I mean by that is, let’s just take even the concept of enlightenment, we could look at enlightenment as simply just waking up and knowing who you truly are. Waking up as your true self. Or you could look at enlightenment as the highest highest highest enlightenment, like in Dzogchen they look at it, as totally waking up. So anybody that’s on Earth talking…me, you, Ramana Maharshi, anybody, there on earth, they’re talking. So the best that you can say is that they’re lucid dreamers. They’re dreaming and they know that they’re dreaming and they’re the dream. Waking up, waking up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up, wake up! That looks like their rainbow body. That looks like ‘poof’ nothing. I don’t know if anybody knows what the rainbow body is but, in Dzogchen, the highest awakening would be where your body actually disappears, your body actually transforms into a rainbow. That is…So if we hold that as the truest waking up, then we’ll know that every other waking up is put into that context so that there’s always more to wake up into. There’s always more, there’s always waking up, waking, as soon as, basically that’s why I said, we need to look at enlightenment or awakening more of like lucid dreamers, we know that we’re dreaming. We know this is a dream, but yet we’re in the dream you’re continuing to be dreaming. I think that there is, and like I said, the rainbow masters are an example of someone that wakes up to the point ‘boom’. No more dream. Body…done. But just to put that into context, Rick, that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m not interested in that I have no interest in the rainbow body. I’m more interested in the Bodhisattva vow. I’m more interested in being in service to people. So that’s why I hesitate to say that I think it’s possible to wake up and boom, everything been done. Final enlightenment. Even though we have the rainbow body, that could still just be another thing to wear, ‘boom’. It’s a whole other level we can’t conceive of. So that’s why I’m saying I got two things, in my mind that I’m trying to balance. One, is that there is awakening where ‘boom’ your body blasts off and disintegrates. And also the fact that it doesn’t ever end. So I’m trying to hold those two things together.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m kind of on the same track as you and my attitude is, ‘Let Thy will be done’. You know?
Marc Leavitt: Yes
Rick Archer: I mean, there must be, I feel there’s some higher intelligence orchestrating things and when I die, or even while I’m alive, it’s like a guiding light. But when I die, it’s like, alright. Use me.
Marc Leavitt: Yes.
Rick Archer: What do you want me to do? Should I stay here? Should I go to this loka?
Marc Leavitt: Yes.
Rick Archer: Should I go back to Earth? Whatever you say, you know.
Marc Leavitt: Exactly.
Rick Archer: That’s, my attitude…
Marc Leavitt: Mine too.
Rick Archer: To be of value.
Marc Leavitt: That’s the Bodhisattva vow. And by the way, I think we make up all these things, I think the Bodhisattva vow…I think all these things are made up. I think they’re intrinsic in the nature of the original dynamic that we described. That all there is is awareness, and the nature of awareness is to become aware. And that’s why we have the Bodhisattva vow. The Bodhisattva vow, I experienced it myself. When I started, like I said, I barely read any Buddhist books, I was only attracted to the highest of highest of teachings, like I had a magnet. I would not read anything that wasn’t like the highest of all the teachings. And…I forgot what I was saying. What was I just saying?
Rick Archer: Bodhisattva vow.
Marc Leavitt: Oh, the Bodhisattva vow, thank you. Yes. So what I found… So after you do this, it becomes…and this is why, by the way, I think the Mahayana path and the Dzogchen path came to beginning, because the Buddha taught enlightenment. And so we practice, we do it for ourselves, let’s just say we are suffering, we just want to get out of it, we do it for ourselves. But somewhere in nature, we realize it’s not for yourself, it’s for everyone, because you are everyone. There’s not ‘you’. You’re not separate from the world, there’s no such thing as ‘enlightened you’ and the rest of the world, that’s unawakened. And so, after a bit of time, if you do experience an awakening, it’ll become like, let’s say constipation, where all that bliss, stops at you. And it becomes like a constipation. And people can experience it energetically as all these, you know, different phenomena. But basically, this energy wants to go through you, wants to come past you. So even if you do get into enlightenment for selfish reasons, it’s about my pain, it’s my suffering. Something does bring you back. And it comes in the form of the share. It comes in the form of sharing. At first, okay, and I’ll give you an example. When I first had my experience, I was like, I’m done. Enlightenment, for me was being on vacation. I’m done world, screw you. I’m out of here. I don’t have to think anymore, enough, I don’t want to seek anymore. I’m done. You can have the world. But life brings you back. Life teaches you. It’s constantly teaching you. And what you have to realize is you can’t be constipated, you can’t be stuck, you can’t stop. This energy needs to move through you. And so what you find out is that you want to share just spontaneously, this thing comes out and you want to share, you want to give of yourself. And the only thing that we have to give of ourself is our essence, of what we have. And so that’s why I think the Bodhisattva vow is something spontaneous and something that spontaneously happens. Because historically, let’s say people that did get enlightened, after a certain time period of time, they do go back, they do want to come back and help people because they realize that’s natural. That’s all we’re doing. And to do that would be like I said, a form of constipation or just blocking. It’s basically all there is is just joy going through and going through you. And you have to get out of the way, basically, because you’re like a tube. You’re supposed to just be a tube as a catalyst for this energy to go through you. But if you don’t have that essence of the Bodhisattva vow, it’s more like I said, of a constipation. Where you’re just experiencing all this bliss and like I said, I make an ugly face now, because that bliss could just feel like too much energy. Just too much of a good thing.
Rick Archer: You know, you say, if you get enlightened for selfish reasons, I don’t think you can get enlightened. Of course, there’s a whole thing of there’s no ‘you’ which gets enlightened, but you can’t get enlightened if there’s selfishness there. And what you were saying reminded me of the 23rd Psalm, My cup runneth over. When the cup isn’t full, there’s this craving, I got to fill my cup. But then once it’s full, then it’s sort of like, alright, it can’t get any fuller. So it naturally spills over and begins to bless the world.
Marc Leavitt: I love it. I love it. That is better. That is it. And by the way, you reminded me of something else. I keep wanting to emphasize how I think all this is natural. Everything is natural. And the way I see the world is, you remember the TV show Fantasy Island?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I remember it mainly because you…Is that the one where that little guy kept saying ‘De plane! De plane!’ ?
Marc Leavitt: Yes. Okay, good. I’m glad you don’t remember because it gives me the opportunity to explain for people that haven’t…
Rick Archer: I never watched it, I’d see that and I’d turn the channel.
Marc Leavitt: Oh my gosh, okay, I loved it. I’m not offended. So Fantasy Island, that’s actually a really good point. I think Fantasy Island is a metaphor for Earth, Samsara, Life. It’s a metaphor for it. Basically what Fantasy Island is, it’s an island that you go to, and you get your fantasies fulfilled. Just like I said, Alice in Wonderland, she had a fantasy, I just want nonsense. I just want nonsense. You have this fantasy of what nonsense is going to be like, and this will fulfill me in this desire. So you go to fantasy island, and they give you your fantasy, they provide your fantasy, but the show is a very dark show. So by the end of the show, you realize like, oh my god, I got my fantasy. But it wasn’t what I wanted. It created it a whole bunch of different circumstances. And now by the end of it, now I fantasize for something different. And that is I think what Earth is. You come here with a certain fantasy. I want this. I want this. Love is the answer to everything. I just want to have romantic love, then you come here. And by the end of it, it’s like, Um, no, that’s not it. Now I just want enlightenment, and that’s what we keep doing. Life after life is just like Fantasy Island over and over again. This will be it. Now I want this. And that thing is going to beget another desire. And the satiation of that desire is going to beget another desire. And I’m not saying this in a bad way, because I think it’s evolution, I think it’s natural, but it’s natural that we learn and we recognize, and you do get to a certain point that, like in Alice in Wonderland, you do want to wake up. You satiated that desire for the nonsense, and you want to wake up. And that’s when you spontaneously attract teachers into your life, the books, the teachings. Your teacher, whatever it is, what philosophy, your book, it’s your essence, you bring in whatever teacher into your life, whether it be a book or a teacher of your essence. Your guide, your inner guide is attracting you to an external guide that’s going to guide you. But you’re attracted to Buddhism for a reason, because that’s in your essence, you’re attracted to you…whatever you’re attracted to, because that’s in your essence. And that is going to now be your guide, that external book is going to be your guide, but it’s actually you externalizing it because that is your essence. That’s what you’re resonating with. Um…go ahead…
Rick Archer: No, I was just gonna say this. You said something about naturalness. You used that word. And you know, a lot of people say, Well, you should stop desiring, you should kill desires. This and that. I think it’s that people are at different levels. I think it’s natural for people to have desires. And in a way you could think of desires as stepping stones of progress. They’re not going to get you where you think they are, in a way, although it’s nice to have a good home and nice food and a happy family and all that stuff. But ultimately, you know, we’re looking for that sort of infinite fulfillment, which resides in our essence. And so none of these things are going to be ultimately fulfilling. But like I said, before, they’re icing on the cake. You can have what we might call 200% of life, where if you’re just going after the 100% outer stuff, you’re never going to be fulfilled. But if there’s a balance, like you said earlier, left, right, left, right, you were saying that with regard to knowledge and experience, but it can also be thought of in terms of fulfilling our desires in the outer life, like I think I’ll get my PhD and I want to, write a, win a Nobel Prize or whatever, but at the same time you’re developing your inner life. Then you can have that fullness of both, if that is your dharma, if that is your natural tendency, I mean, some people are just happy. I’ll just go live in a cave and that’ll be fine for me. Good. That’s good for them. But I don’t think anyone can be ultimately fulfilled if unless they’re developing both.
Marc Leavitt: Perfect and I’m glad by the way, I’m really glad you said that about desire. Because I think desire. I don’t look at desire as a bad thing. I know even in Buddhism, you know, you could read it, interpret it that that’s our downfall. But I look at desire as the original dynamic, it’s simply attraction. Desire is inevitable because why? What is this world? It’s a reflection of the actual world, which is just awareness attracted to itself. So this whole world that we’re experiencing in, is based on, it’s born from attraction. Attraction is the mother. The father was space, the mother was attraction. So in this world, attraction is going to be what drives everything. So desire, I don’t look at desire as a bad thing. I think our desires naturally lead us to what we call awakening. And why? Because our desires become more and more refined as we play Fantasy Island. As we go on Fantasy Island to get more and more refined to where we desire more and more. And we’re getting closer and closer to the essence, until we experience…Now a different metaphor I’ll use is called Wargames. And the reason, now I’m going to go really extreme, what I’m going to describe to you now you’re probably going to balk at and say, wait a second, people shouldn’t be doing this. This was just the stage I had to go through that was necessary. I don’t experience this now. But this is a stage I had to go through. And it goes back to what you’re talking about desiring. And all of a sudden I desire. All of a sudden I realized my biggest desire, the only desire. All of my desires got whittled down to one desire, one last big desire that I desired more than anything in the world, all of my desire was focused on having one last desire. And that desire was to have no more desires. I wanted that more than anything, I was so sick of myself Rick. I was so sick of my mind, I was so sick of the moving, I was sick of the constant I this I that. The moving, I was done. That’s what I sought. I sought to have no more seeking. And that’s when I realized. That’s what I call the suicide mission. And you just realize that the seeking that I’m seeking is to have no seeking, I want that more than anything, just to be that. Okay, so anyway, that gets back to the Wargames. So what I realized was that what’s going on on Earth is all of us are one permutation. And like I said, all these experiences that was happening, I was out in the mountains. So I’m out in nature every day and nature’s teaching me and I’m looking at the leaves, and I’m seeing how nature is the same, and it’s different. You look at the leaves, every leaf is the same, but each one is different. So there’s all these permutations of life where nature’s trying itself in every single way, every single permutation, it’s trying this, it’s trying that, and what’s the best way, what works, this works, that works. We’re doing that too, as people. Everybody, without a choice, spontaneously, we’re going on the road, this is the best way to live, you need to be doing this, this is the best way to do, this is what we should be doing. We should be exercising more, we should be vegetarians, we should be Buddhist, whatever it is, we have a thing of this is the way we should be doing it. And going back to the Wargames analogy…
Rick Archer: That was another movie, right?
Marc Leavitt: Oh right, I’m sorry, let me go back to that, another movie. So there is a movie called War Games, where the plot was about the United States government created a computer program to work out every single simulation of a nuclear war, how we could win a nuclear war with Russia. So they developed a program as a simulation, how we could work out every single possibility, until we work out a winnable solution, how we could win a nuclear war with Russia. So by the end of the movie, the moral of the story was the only way you could play, the only simulation, the only configuration of all the configurations that work. None of them work except for one configuration. Don’t play the game at all. Yeah, it’s the only way. And that’s what I meant by the suicide mission. I realized, any movement, anything any desire whatsoever, I was just sick of it. The way I looked at it was everybody was trying to rule the world in their own way. I want to rule by making it more Democrat, I want to make it by making them more vegetarian, I want to make it, whatever it is you’re trying to rule the world. And what I just realized, I’m not any different than anybody, you know, me pushing non-duality, or enlightenment or anything, me favoring anything and thinking any way, one way is better than any way. It’s no different than any way. And I just wanted out, I just wanted out from the whole dynamic. So basically, what I realized is we could either try to rule the world, or we could train our minds. So we could live in a world that’s ruled by anybody. And to me, I found that more advantageous, that really, I have my mind. And that’s what I could work with. And I’m not going to be dependent upon conditions of the road. The conditions of the road could be whatever they want. I can’t be dependent upon the conditions I have to stick with the one thing that I could practice, which is the one thing that’s beyond all conditions. And that’s when I realized that the War Games analogy was just not the plan at all. Just not the plan at all. And what I mean by that, and that’s what I’m saying when I say that, I could see how somebody would say it as, you know, you’re not participating in life, you’re blocking or you’re getting out. It was basically just me not believing in any of my beliefs anymore, I would acknowledge the beliefs that they would come up. But I just wouldn’t believe the beliefs. They could spontaneously appear, but I wouldn’t believe them, I would just recognize them for what they were, spontaneous occurrences, spontaneous beliefs that are happening. And I wouldn’t believe the beliefs. I would acknowledge the belief, I would acknowledge the identification or belief, but I wouldn’t actually believe the belief.
Rick Archer: What you’re saying reminds me of the analogy of ‘It’s easier to put shoes on than it is to pave the earth with leather.’
Marc Leavitt: I love it. Yes, I’ve heard that a different way, you know, with slippers. ‘It’s easier to put slippers on than to carpet the whole world.’ Absolutely, and that’s the whole thing. That’s what we find ourselves doing is trying to adjust the world to accommodate us.
Rick Archer: Yeah. But what you say about not believing beliefs, and also about desires…I mean, I don’t know if anybody is ultimately free of desire, but maybe it depends on how we define desire.
Marc Leavitt: I don’t think, yeah, you’re right, I don’t think we are.
Rick Archer: Ramana Maharshi. I mean, if he got really, really cold, he would desire a blanket or if he got hungry, he would desire food, or if he got tired, he would desire sleep. And it might not be the sort of gripping obsession, type of desire that some people have, but it would still be an impulse.
Marc Leavitt: Yes.
Rick Archer: That motivates your behavior, I should think.
Marc Leavitt: Absolutely. Yeah, exactly. And so you’re drawing, you’re drawing the distinction, like what I said, desire is always going to be there, because like I said, it’s a reflection of the natural, the original dynamic, which is attraction.
Rick Archer: Yeah
Marc Leavitt: Everything that we’re looking at is the result of attraction. So attraction is always going to be there, there’s always going to be the desire. What we call desire, you know, in a more way that we’d say we want to overcome, would be more like a craving, a more of a sense of a dissatisfaction, and I guess, it comes back to more of a belief, you can have all these steps…That’s what I mean about not believing your beliefs. I know I need all these things, I know I have all these things, but I just don’t believe them. They’re just happening.
Rick Archer: I think it also depends on how much inner fulfillment there is. If there’s a lot of inner fulfillment, then your whole existence doesn’t hinge upon the attainment of this or that particular desire. It’s like, I’ve used this analogy many times. Let’s say someone’s a multi…let’s say someone’s really poor, he has ten dollars to his name, someone gives him five bucks, and it’s like, Oh, my God, this is incredible. Five bucks, or he loses five bucks, oh, I just lost half my fortune, you know, it really throws him one way or the other. But if a person is a multimillionaire, you can gain or lose…I read an article a few weeks ago about this guy who’s a multi billionaire, and he’s up and down millions of dollars every day. He’s like eighty something years old, and he sits there for twelve hours a day playing the stock market. But it doesn’t really rock his world that much because there is such a foundation. So if we’re really sort of, if the cup is full, if we’re really fulfilled, then the desires, the attainment of them, the lack of attainment of them. They’re just ripples on the surface.
Marc Leavitt: I love it, that’s an absolute perfect way to put it. Because basically, that’s the other thing I’ve noticed too, is as you go through life, we recognize it, more and more recognition, you just realize it’s the same thing. It just goes from gross to subtle, like everything that, let’s say my wife is dealing with in her practice, I’m also dealing with just on let’s say, a more subtle level. There’s not a single thing that anybody in the world that could describe whatever they’re going through, I could relate to every bit of it. Even if it’s just on more of a subtle level, it’s always the same thing. You’re just getting more and more refined. And that’s natural. That’s where we’re being guided. I feel like we’re being funneled. I feel like life is a natural mechanism that was wound up. And we’re just having the unwinding. And it’s just natural, and everything that’s happening is spontaneous, and natural. And it can be trusted. I think that’s the main thing is that we can trust whatever is happening, so we could surrender to it. The most important thing for me of anything, for people listening, is the surrendering part. I don’t think there’s anything more essential as far as a practice, as far as a philosophy, as far as a way of life, of just surrendering, which is just not to hold on. It’s simple as that. Surrender is not anything more deep or more profound than to just not holding on, from that deep trust, from the essence of your experience. And that’s why I treasure experience so much, because that is your essence, that’s what everything has to be based on is your actual experience of your mind. And that we should just always try to bring our attention back to our mind. And by the way, I never even got to the biggest vision, so let me… unless you have something to ask?
Rick Archer: No, There’s always things I could…you go ahead.
Marc Leavitt: I just realized I looked at my notes. I haven’t even told the big story! But let me make a segue, So from this. So basically what I’m talking about now is the surrendering. Is the recognizing that what you are and surrendering to. Oh okay, so getting back to the story. So after I had that profound experience of seeing behind me, I saw that I was nothing. So I definitely saw there was nothing. But yet still, the world continued. So now the next phase of my life was continuing in this world, when I saw for a fact that it’s just the void. There’s nothing but void, and we’re just appearances on a screen, but yet my world continues. So now my world continued, when this undeniable reality, but now I’m faced with, like I said, in the world where I have my daughter, and I have work, and I have all these things. And I’m starting to contemplate the relationship between the one and the many. I’m looking at my daughter, and like, how am I not aware of her thoughts? If I’m the one, if I’m everything? How am I pulling this off that I’m not aware of her thoughts? And I became obsessed with this for a long time just studying the nature of reality. How can we do this? How could we pull this off to where I know that I’m nothing…?
Rick Archer: Here’s a good analogy for you. You know, I have a light bulb here. And there’s a refrigerator in the other room, and they’re both running on the same electricity. But the light bulb doesn’t know what the refrigerator is thinking,
Marc Leavitt: Ah, wow, that is beautiful. I love it. Kind of like our bodies, with the brain and the heart and the lungs and everything. Yeah. So it was kind of poetic, because, the actual experience actually happened with my daughter sitting on my lap. So one day, I come home from work, and I’m sitting on the back deck, staring at the mountains with my daughter on my lap, and I’m sitting there just innocently looking at her. Like, wow, it’s, it’s so weird how I’m not privy to your thoughts. Like, I know, I’m everything, but I’m looking at you, I have no idea what’s going on in your mind. And all of a sudden, as I’m in the middle of this contemplation, because like, we’re always being shown everything, that’s what I’m saying, we’re always being taught, we’re always being shown. And then the next second, my whole perspective switched. And I was seeing from behind my daughter’s eyes. I was no longer seeing from my eyes I was seeing from her eyes. And as I was seeing from her eyes, I don’t know if it’s because of what’s going on her mind, it was just quiet, spacious. And then from there, it backed up even further, to where I saw that I was not just behind her eyes, but I was actually behind every single eye in reality. And that’s the book cover.
Rick Archer: But you still didn’t know everybody’s thoughts…
Marc Leavitt: Not at all, not a single thought. Because when you’re experiencing everything at once, none of it is individual. None of it is…It’s in the context of what it is, it’s everything at once. So in order for you to have individual experience, like I said, that focus is going to have to come down here. Let me put out my book cover again. So this is basically what I saw in my diamond vision. I backed up and saw that I was the eye behind all these eyes, but you don’t see it really as detailed as that. Because in order to do that, you’d have to focus on, to come to that. You’re just broadly coming back and seeing from an impersonal perspective, that you’re the awareness behind all that. The noticing all that. This is being created, like all this stuff. That’s being created within that sphere. That’s being created within that sphere. That’s being created with solid sphere, it’s basically all of your thoughts and your imagination, you’re creating this thing. So when I’m seeing that, I’m experiencing it as the whole. So all the little things, you got to think, this is all made from specifics. Colors and shapes and things like that. So you’re not experiencing it like that as the whole. So you’re seeing everything all at the same time, but not every single little one individually. Because in order to do that, you have to focus on the one, otherwise..
Rick Archer: You’d have to be omniscient for that, and human bodies are not capable of it. I mean, you know, sure, we’re all the same consciousness, but we’re not all the same perceptual apparatus.
Marc Leavitt: Yes, exactly. And that’s what I was showing. And that’s why I thought it was so beautiful and poetic, that the answer that I got was it showed me, it didn’t tell me, it showed me that you are everything. And that’s when I started to realize, that’s why we have these folds. That folding of awareness, that came from the initial attraction to itself. That’s what actually causes the black hole of our world to make us think that we have separation. So all the separation that we feel is what they mean by illusory, it’s an appearance. And the way I’ll explain that is actually with the last, fourth, the final vision that I had. The final vision that I had was I was actually at my computer and I was talking to somebody on the computer and they asked me a question about enlightenment, about awakening. And I, for whatever reason, I guess just to better position myself to contemplate, I sat up. And I contemplated what they thought of enlightenment, like the word enlightenment, what they even mean by that I was trying to just, go into the space of what I know what they mean by enlightenment. And when I did that, the whole world disappeared. Everything was gone, pure voidness again. And then I saw everything form slowly. So from the black voidness is just a subtle movement of the blackness. Just a subtle movement, just blackness and then maybe suddenly, a blackness upon blackness, just a contrast of blackness upon blackness. And then more contrast of blackness upon blackness, we’ve come in this contrast of blackness of shaping this, it’s basically activity. Basically, what I was experiencing was the Void is not just nothing, it’s active, it’s percolating, it’s alive, it’s raging, but it was potential, I guess the best way to say it is the emptiness that everyone’s referring to is its potential. It’s not just the dead vacant, nothing. It’s an actual potential. And the subtitle of my book, I call it a raging nothing. It’s a raging nothing with potential just ready to burst upon our scene, which is this. The way physics puts it, by the way, is that there’s more potential energy in a cubic centimeter of empty space than there is in the whole expressed manifest universe. Wow. That’s powerful. That is true. And that’s another thing too is I experienced that the whole universe, everything in reality, it’s not big. I experienced it. It’s a tiny sphere. It’s the tiniest little…and to even say it’s tiny is not correct. But it’s basically imploding. It’s basically in. I don’t know, I don’t want to get out on the weeds on that. But so, okay, so from the void this, as I was seeing the shuffling, so the shuffling of the blackness, because blackness upon blackness, until the contrast could form, I guess, what we would see is like browns, or grays, or some type of forms of shadows. And from that, I noticed the turning of the movement was turning into shapes, and then colors. And then all of a sudden, the shapes and colors started to take on objects, but the objects didn’t take any meaning yet, they’re just objects that you can just know they’re objects. And then finally, boom, okay, there’s objects, and now these objects are taking meaning. There’s clothes, and all of a sudden, there’s clothes in the closet, these clothes are in a closet, oh, there’s clothes in the closet. There’s your daughter’s closet, you’re in your daughter’s room, you’re in a person. And you were not a person a second ago, in I was seeing all that. And what I saw. The vision that I saw was that all we are is like. The way I saw it was like an aware string. Like all of awareness is like…Let’s say you were a string, and it becomes attracted to itself and it forms a loop. And again, I’ll go back to, in my book, to show…I’m trying to do the share screen.
Rick Archer: Is that the stick you’re gonna show us?
Marc Leavitt: No, I’ll just put it right here. Alright, so what I just saw was that all we are is awareness. And that awareness is an aware string. But the nature, so that’s the basis of what it is, it’s an aware string. But the path, what it does, is invaginates, due to the power of attraction to itself. And then when that shape bends over enough, it’s going to take over a complete black hole. And so basically awareness. So just imagine now taking one piece of string, and it forms one loop, that’s Rick. Then that same string forms another loop, that’s me. Then another loop, that’s Ramana Maharshi. So there is infinite, infinite loops, and all death is, is that loop coming undone. Boom. Now you’re right back to the flat screen that you were.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Here’s a cool quote that I wanted to bring up. This is from Chapter Nine of the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna speaking. Krishna, supposedly, God incarnate, he says, curving back within myself, I create again and again.
Marc Leavitt: That’s it. This is all literal. That’s the whole thing that blows my mind. All these things are literal, this is not symbolic. All these things are literally happening, the bending back, the appearances, the dreaming, this is all literal. By the way Rick, that’s kind of like the most important thing I want to share, that I’ve been wanting to share with everybody for this last couple of months, is how real this is. And what I mean by that, the reason I want to say that is because, and we talked about this before the broadcast, so I’ll just repeat it again. After my experience in 2002 I never read any books afterwards. I never watched any spiritual videos. And even before 2002 I was not a very well-read person. I only read a very few books, very specific, Dzogchen and Zen books. But afterwards. But then when I put all the books down, and I have twenty years of experiences. Then, as I said to you, I don’t know if I said all of it on air, so I’ll say it again, just this last year, my wife took a really keen interest in the Dzogchen teachings. And so because of that, I started to relive them again, I started to, go back and want to share her stuff so I’m reading stuff. And now for the first time in twenty years, I’m reading the Dzogchen books constantly. I’m listening to them twenty-four hours a day, I’m reading them. And what I’m realizing is, is there’s something really real about it. I don’t know what came first, but it’s almost as if they planted…
Rick Archer: The chicken came first and then there was an egg…
Marc Leavitt: Ah, you solved it! Thank you Rick! I hope we got that, I hope someone heard that! But I felt like, just that seed. Like the seed that I got from Buddhism, just the basic essence of it. Like I said, I was not well read, not well rounded, I know nothing about it. The pages of Dzogchen and Buddhism that I read would be counted in the hundreds, you know, I mean, it’s very little, but the seed was so potent, that twenty years later, when I come back and start reading it, it’s making me feel like I was plagiarizing them, like, Oh, my God, all these experiences that I thought I was having by myself, and I’m writing about them. They were all there in these teachings. And you can even say well you read the teachings. So even subconsciously, even though you didn’t know you read it, it’s there. And I think that’s true. I think that these teachings, all the teachings, by the way, doesn’t have to be Dzogchen could be Advaitic, could be any non-dual teaching. The essence teachings, our teachers are so real. They’re so real. There’s something beyond time that have been here, that the main thing that I want to share with people is that this is real, everything that people are talking about. With Buddhism, and advaita. This is a real thing. It’s actually happening now. You practice these things. There’s a lineage behind it. There’s a history of it. Basically, the way I look at it is these people, we’ve all been, let’s call it reincarnation, for the lack of a better word. We’ve been repeating this, we’ve been spinning our wheels, being reborn in this virtual reality dream over and over and over again. The way I look at the Buddhist or the Hindus is, some group of people, they decided to start mapping it out and start to create lineages, so they could pass it down. So they say okay, remember being here. Let’s start writing this down. So we have this thread. So in the next lives, we have these people that we have this living Dharma, this living teaching of this collective knowledge towards we’re aware of ourselves before death and after death. And we’re bridging it together. And I think it’s real and like I said, the reason I keep going back to saying it’s real is because I read very, very little, and I live my life. And by the way, my essence, my heart was to not have any philosophy, was not have any teachings. I’ve never considered myself a Buddhist, never. And even Buddhism, I give it credit for everything. It’s my heart. It’s my essence, I get ,I owe everything to Buddhism, but never one second would I have ever considered myself a Buddhist because the nature of Dzogchen, just doesn’t lend itself to you thinking about yourself as anything. It’s just more beliefs. Be like what? A famous Dzogchen master said ‘Why would you call yourself a Buddhist? Isn’t being what you already are enough?’ Like, why do you have to add anything? You just would be adding more crap to it? So I forgot my basic point. But my basic point was that I was always just looking for the essence, I was looking for the essence. And that because of my essence, I was attracted to the Dzogchen teachings because that’s essence. Buddhism is a huge religion. If you’re more on a religious path, you know, learning, then you’re gonna be attracted to the Theravada teachings, the pure, the Buddhist teachings. But, I don’t know, I forgot my point.
Rick Archer: There’s one thing I want to get to before I run out of time, and maybe some things you want to get through before we run out of time. And that is that, you had this. I mean, a lot of people listening to this today might be thinking, Well, yeah, you know, but anything that comes as an experience isn’t the ultimate reality because the ultimate reality doesn’t come and go, but experiences come and go. And so we can have profound experiences, but that’s not awakening, because awakening is that which never started and will never end, you know, Ramana, Papaji and people like that have spoken this way. But it does seem that, twenty years ago or so, you had this big breakthrough, that caused an abiding stage or shift, which didn’t come and go, and yet, and you called that enlightenment. I did. I would not now. Now that I’m starting the Buddhist teachings, I would not because before I looked at enlightenment as a general word that any of us could use, you could be enlightened to the pizza shop, I was enlightened to who I really was, my true nature. But now that I’m reading Buddhism, they hold enlightenment as waking up waking up. Like I said rainbow body. So no Yeah, yeah, okay. That’s the way I…I tend to reserve that word for something that hardly anybody…
Marc Leavitt: Yeah. And we should, because that puts it into context of what it actually is. It should have that seriousness of totally, totally waking up. Totally totally, because that’s what it is. Totally waking up. And by the way, like I said, That’s not what I’m interested in. Because I look at totally waking up, what I’m actually describing is the rainbow body, like if we really want to describe the difference between lucid dreaming, which is what I would say I’m experiencing. I know this is a dream. But yet the dream is persisting. The rainbow body, we have a storable document of people that they know it’s dreaming so much that ‘poof!’ they pop out of the dream. I’m not interested in that wreck. I’m not interested whatsoever, as you, I’m just interested in service. I’m interested in awakening, continually awakening, continually practicing, so I can be of service to the most. And to be honest with you, I don’t believe that there’s a final awakening. Even the rainbow body, I think they’re going to wake up to find out there’s just a whole other level or a whole other shore to cross or something like that. But I don’t know, and I don’t care. Like I said, we know who we are, we know what our true essence is, and we’re not in control. And we’re not here to try to control, we’re not here to try to want to go to heaven, to try to want this or want that. The only thing you should want, is just a want to serve and you are serving, you’re already doing what you want, just by being you and being…you’re suffering, and you’re learning and everything. That is your service, your share.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. Yeah. And I would say I mean, I’m not even attached to there being a rainbow body. Maybe that’s just a mythological fantasy.
Marc Leavitt: Exactly.
Rick Archer: And there aren’t any rainbow bodies, I don’t care, but whatever, you know. The ride we’re on is really wonderful. And you were saying earlier that, life is a kind of preparation for death. I also think death is preparation for life. You know, if you read Michael Newton’s books, for instance, he regressed people hypnotically back to the period between lives and it’s basically a school you go to for a while and you review everything, you learn things and then you work it out, what your next life is gonna be. And…pardon? Oh Irene is saying she hates school! But anyway, so this other point I wanted to get to, and you kind of just answered it, because you were saying in your book, well, I had this…I was enlightened. But then, you know, my wife threatened to leave me and I got depressed and I started drinking and I gained a hundred pounds. And I thought, wait a minute, that couldn’t have been enlightenment. Because could a person who was really enlightened, as I would want to use the word, undergo all that sort of turmoil? But you kind of just resolved the whole issue. But maybe there’s something you’d like to comment upon about how you had this profound awakening, but then the shit hit the fan for a while. And, you had to learn through that to get to a more mature stage.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah, I think I touched upon earlier, when I said that I think everything is the same. It’s just whether it’s gross levels are subtle levels. I think that’s all there is. Everything’s always going to be the same, whether it’s a gross level, or a subtle level. And so what I experienced, what I described in Book Two. That came years after the awakening experience that I had, where I said, where I gave up on everything, and I was no longer practicing, and I was no longer doing anything. I think that is a result of the Bodhisattva vow that brings us back. I think that all of life is an expansion and a contraction, and the contraction is just to collect more stuff and to bring it up. That’s like the true Bodhisattva vow like a heartbeat, it swoops up, but then it comes back down for one last collection to bring up more. So I think, that’s a natural process that basically we’re constant. Okay. This is the way the Buddha described it. The Buddha said, There’s only bliss and purification. So basically, whenever you’re going through something, as I described in the second book, which could be a whole other talk, it was intense madness and suffering. Just the worst, worst, worst thing. But what I knew was that, I was just the space for it. This was not to be denied. This was here. It was natural. It was real. It was here to be experienced. That was ever here to be experienced. It’s not just the good stuff. What was here to be experienced was my weight, my heaviness, my experiences, all my thoughts, all my madness, my resistance to the world. That is what I had to sit with. And specifically, it was the heaviest thing though, because as you mentioned, it was my wife leaving me, it was my daughter. It was literally the most painful thing in the world. And I could not turn away from it. I had no ability to turn away from it. I lost the muscle to turn away from stuff. To reject it. I had to be there. That’s what the Buddha refers to as the purification. So that horrible, horrible thing that I could write about, and I tried to capture this horrible thing, because it was the bleakest, bleakest thing. But that is the purification. You don’t turn away from it, you don’t turn away from the black hole, you don’t turn away from the blackness, you are the space for all that. And if you’re not going to be the healing space for all that, then what is?
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s great. I really like that. And I really get what you’re saying. So there are these cycles. And very often a profound awakening precedes a huge purging or processing of gunk, that was cleverly hidden, that we can no longer hide, and then that has to be processed in order for our evolution to continue. And I once heard a teacher say, someone asked him, Well, what happens if you totally purify yourself? If all the hidden stuff has been purged and released. Then what? Are you done? He said, no, then you start taking on cosmic stress.
Marc Leavitt: Yes
Rick Archer: The stress of the world.
Marc Leavitt: Yeah, exactly. That’s exactly it. Because you are the world. There’s nothing. And that’s what I’m saying, these just go from gross to subtle forms. Now, my practice, my practice is, I’m only looking out for my defilements, for my problems, for my attachments, for my things. I’m only looking for that. Why? Because that’s where the freedom is. The recognition in this. If I ever recognize any type of attachment or thing like that, that is to me as a liberation, because you’re recognizing. It’s liberated upon your recognition. So for me, the highest state is not the absence of bad, or the presence of good. It is that recognition when you’re recognizing your own ignorance, your own defilement, that moment, that slight moment of a subtle Aha, like, there I am, there I am. That recognition is spontaneously free in the moment, just by the recognizing of it, no judgement of it, because there’s no thought that it shouldn’t be this way. Because it’s all natural, that this attraction, attraction is natural. So there’s not the sense of, oh, I should be doing that, or I should be doing that I recognized it’s doing that. Thank you. And the recognition is freeing. And you’re just so grateful for the recognition of it, because the recognition is showing you what it is right there. There is no sense of, Oh, that’s right. I shouldn’t be doing that. Everything is being freed in every moment that we’re experiencing, even your thoughts are just awareness being freed. That as I said before, it’s the unbounded expression of the infinite through all these things. And now here we are on the other side, trying to make them go away. And get back to that great space. Now we’re trying to get back to the great space that we actually are.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So you still have a job right? Are you still at the sleep lab?
Marc Leavitt: I’m still work at a sleep lab, which is perfect. Yeah, I work as a… You have to stay up all night while people sleep? I do. And that’s…The universe has set me up in a strange life. Because I’ve been living my life on the opposite of everybody else. Like I work at nights. And I only work three days a week. So I have really long weekends. But when I’m working, when I get out of work, like I would do my grocery shopping. So the stores are empty, the roads are empty. So I’m sleeping. So my whole life’s kind of been like that, where I walk into stores and they’re empty and everything’s always been quiet. My life has been a very quiet life, I get to work by myself. So I think that my reality was set up in such a way that it’s conducive to this.
Rick Archer: And then you sleep in the daytime, presumably, as much as you need to?
Marc Leavitt: Yes, yeah.
Rick Archer: Okay, so and then. Are you doing anything that people watching this could plug into? I mean, webinars or chat group?
Marc Leavitt: I was, maybe I should I say no, but I’ll say yes. Lately, as I said, I’ve been more interested in just being a student. I’m really, really, really, really into learning and learning. So yes, I do have a website. It’s called This Aware Space. And actually, I did. It’s called thisawarespace.com that you could find my books and videos and everything. But if anybody wants a free book, you could also email me I’ll send you a PDF. So no I don’t have…The YouTube channel – If you’re interested in seeing anything or learning more. Just look up Marc Leavitt on YouTube or go to my website, which is This Aware Space. I did have a coaching thing that I had up there, but I stopped. It was just too overwhelming. I didn’t realize how much of a need there is…and I have a full-time job. But the way I put it was it’s a case-by-case basis. I just realized something that I just realized. I’m only interested in really talking to people that are truly interested in the waking up aspect of all of this, the people that are truly are radared in and on “what is this, what am I, and I want to wake up”. Rather than the just to not want to suffer because all of us don’t want to suffer. Nobody wants to suffer. But really, my thing is, I find that the only way you can truly deal with suffering is by understanding. So I can’t walk I can’t step I can’t part myself from understanding is everything. That the view is understanding. Every state, everything is understanding, understanding is all. All the pain, all the suffering, everything that we’re experiencing…Understanding, I do believe is the root of, of everything. And so because of that, I really only want to talk to people that also share that awakening or getting to the root bottom of…seeing the truth for what it is and not just getting pleasure is more important. Seeing the truth for whatever it is, is more important than just ending your suffering. I guess that’s what I’m talking about.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. Yeah. So I’ll have a page up on BatGap. Okay, I’ll link to your website and your YouTube channel and your books, if they’re on Amazon or anything and people can get in, keep an eye on what you’re doing. And you know, either you’re talking to people, you’re not talking to people, whatever, it might change over the years, but…
Marc Leavitt: Oh yeah to answer your question, yes. So I was doing videos, podcasts, I guess. And I’m getting a lot of inspiration. So I do imagine myself doing that. So yes, I do.
Rick Archer: Good. Did you get any more pugs?
Marc Leavitt: No, those pugs…as you read my book that was such a horrible, horrible, gut wrenching, painful experience that both me and my wife were not going to have dogs, period for at least a couple of years. Because we were like, we would do everything for the pugs. We would travel with them, you know, we wouldn’t want to go without them. So we’re going to use these next few years to be able to travel and to feel untethered. But yeah, I definitely feel like my future with the pugs will be back…some other pugs.
Rick Archer: Good. Maybe the same pugs reincarnated. Pug them? Yeah, on the one hand, it is hard to travel and all if you have pets, and it really ties you down. But if you’re not, if that’s not an issue, then I’ve talked to people who’ve…My wife ran the dog adoption program at the local animal shelter here for about eight years. And you know, sometimes a pet will die and they’ll say, I’m never gonna have another dog because I don’t want to go through the heartbreak and all that. But it’s like, hey, there’s so many dogs in shelters and dogs are being euthanized, and just get another dog already. And they don’t want to do but…
Marc Leavitt: I’m glad you said that. Because that is what we do. We will just rescue the elderly dogs.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Marc Leavitt: And then when we do, that’s exactly, when we do get dogs. That’s actually was the last two we got was the you know, the rescue dog. But that is exactly when we do that. And that’s going to take care of both things, because it’ll be an elderly dog.
Rick Archer: We’re still doing the interview here.
Marc Leavitt: So it’s not like a ten-year commitment. So I agree. I do agree with that, and to rescue the ones who are like elderly, the ones that don’t have a home…And the most rewarding too, by the way, are those rescue ones?
Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah. Okay, good. Well, speaking of dogs, we’re going to take them for a walk now while it’s still nice out.
Marc Leavitt: Well, thank you, Okay, I gotta say, I’m not used to doing these talks. I really appreciate it. This has been incredible. So I really appreciate the opportunity. And I’d like to speak to you again, you know, sometime too, so thank you for everything I really appreciate.
Rick Archer: I’ll be in touch and I’ll send you some book recommendations and things that I thought of when we were talking.
Marc Leavitt: Absolutely. Thank you. All right. Thank you, everybody. And thanks again. Rick.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. Next week, I’ll be interviewing a guy named Andrew Holecek and he’s…I think it might be Dzogchen he’s into also and lucid dreaming and all kinds of stuff. So I’ve got about fourteen hours’ worth of his books to listen to, I don’t know whether I’ll make it through them all. You can hear the dogs are getting excited about our impending walk. So we’ll end it but, thanks. Thanks, and I really enjoyed getting to know you.
Marc Leavitt: Thank you, Rick. I really appreciate it
Rick Archer: Alrighty. We’ll talk to you later.