RICK: 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 over 660-something of them now. If this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu. And you’ll see something new under the past interviews menu. We have a person who developed this whole thing just in the past week and sent it to me and said, “Look what I’ve done.” And what it is, is a thing where you can type in any word or phrase and you’ll immediately see a list of all the interviews in which that word or phrase was mentioned. And then if you click on any item in that list, you’ll immediately see that video in the window up above. And if you click play on that video, it starts playing at the point where that word or phrase was mentioned. So it’s a really cool search thing. And it’s based upon the YouTube captions. And there’s still about a third of the interviews or so that don’t have captions yet. So we’re in the process of creating captions for all those as well. In fact, if you’d like to help with that project, there’s information on that page. In any case, this whole 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’s a PayPal button on every page of the website and there’s a page explaining alternatives to PayPal. Also, I encourage you to subscribe to the YouTube channel. Looks like we’re going to hit 100,000 subscribers this year, which has no ultimate significance, but it’s kind of a cool milestone. So thanks for joining us. And thanks to today’s guest, who is Matt Garrett. Matt is a young fellow living in the UK. I discovered him through his interview with Angelo DeLullo, whom I interviewed a few months ago. And I’ve spent the last week listening to various YouTube videos that Matt has made and have enjoyed his burgeoning wisdom. So I have a brief bio here that Matt sent me. I’ll just read that and then we’ll get started. Growing up, a burning desire to seek truth took hold. After years of searching, the need to see reality overtook the need to avoid suffering. Through the marriage of inquiry and surrender, realization unfolded in ways that could never have been imagined by my former self. After seeing through the illusion of separation, there is now a keen interest in exploring the mystery of reality and the human form. The stage of integrating this non-dual understanding into daily life is ongoing and beautiful and something I return to daily, not just to help myself, but to look for ways to alleviate suffering for anyone who is interested. It has been seen to be a never-ending clarification, deepening with each insight into reality, a reality that favors authenticity, honesty, and devotion. All else will be burned to a beautiful pile of ash.
MATT: It sounds dramatic when you read it out.
RICK: Yeah, but if nothing else, you’re a good writer.
MATT: Yeah, that’s funny. It’s funny because it’s so ordinary, but when you want to write it down, it’s like, yeah, it’s both extraordinary and ordinary at the same time for anyone.
RICK: Yeah, that’s very true. I often discuss that. I have a friend who’s going through a really beautiful unfolding, and she often finds herself just weeping uncontrollably with the overwhelming love and beauty she’s experiencing and everything. And yet at the same time, she also uses the word ordinary. I mean, go ahead. Go ahead. What you’re saying?
MATT: Just like she said, it’s like the most ordinary, but I think familiar is a word because it feels so like you always knew. I think that’s what ordinariness, why everyone says it.
RICK: Yeah. Some people use the phrase the natural state to refer, you know, it’s perfectly natural. And yet I think that if the average person who is deeply mired in suffering were to pop into it instantly, their jaw would drop to the floor. You know, there would be this amazement. And yet at the same time, once you acclimate and you’ve said things here about integrating and so on, once you acclimate, it’s the most natural thing in the world. You don’t walk around, you know, weeping or sit in the corner drooling or, you know, it’s just kind of natural.
MATT: Yeah, it’s as if it’s prior to everything, isn’t it? It’s what their without the doing, without the thoughts. It’s there in the thoughts as well. Even to say, like you said, that it’s just prior to everything. It’s not as if it’s waiting to be seen. It’s once everything kind of just stops for a moment. And it’s just so it’s just clear.
RICK: Yeah. Other phrases that are sometimes used are the simplest form of awareness or the state of least excitation of consciousness. You know, everything else is an agitation, but that natural state is just the most settled natural state.
MATT: Just closing the blinds. That’s OK. Yeah. Yeah.
RICK: So you’re only like 23 years old, but yet you wrote this thing as if you’ve been on this long journey. How old were you when you first got interested in this stuff?
MATT: Yeah. So that’s one thing I think is like there’s been a lot of suffering and it’s weird. I know it’s weird to like I look young and stuff like that, but I think maybe it just hit me earlier. Like very early, I remember just an intense, I look back and you can call it suffering. But and with with almost a kind of sense of humor to it and maybe a sense of that was nothing I needed to do it. But in the moment it was excruciating. It was with the burning desire to know truth. There was this need to get away from the suffering, this feeling that this wasn’t real. This wasn’t normal. Everyone else seemed normal. And there was something that needed to be seen. And even to this day, to be clarified, this, I just couldn’t live with myself or the idea of myself that I thought I was. And I knew there was a way out. But then I realized this was going to be a way through, if that makes sense. And all my ways out basically dead ended, which was just infuriating this sense of suffering, the sense of isolation. And it was really through and I hold my hands up is through teachers and things. I’ve just I’ve done this. I mean, ultimately, you see there’s no one. There’s no real teachers, no real guru. They’re just showing what’s already within. But coming across inquiry, you know, just normalizing this unfolding that was happening gave me so much courage. Keep going with it. I just you know, you just start to be so grateful that you came across these things and you realize even gratefulness doesn’t make sense. But yeah, burning, burning suffering was that was the fuel for this. I think everyone as well, really.
RICK: You said in this thing that you said, the need to see reality overtook the need to avoid suffering, which implies that to see reality, you had to confront suffering head on.
RICK: That’s a sort of face it and not try to stifle it or blot it out.
MATT: Yeah. In fact, like you said, I go even further to the only way the only keys to the freedom was in the heart of the suffering was at the core of each of these resistances, these emotions, if you want to call it on a relative level, the things we were running from most. I realized it wasn’t I had to overcome these things. I had to just examine them for what they were and really truth to be seen rather than achieved by getting over. And, you know, especially starting out with emotional work, I realized and I’ve seen in your interviews, it’s amazing when people talk about emotion because I can relate so much to the only way I’ve ever gotten through emotion was to completely surrender to it, go to the heart of it and die into it. And it’s just like surrender and inquiry just are the most magical things when when paired really. And it kind of finds you in a way. And yeah, dying into it was something that really came about, I think.
RICK: Yeah. Essentially, because the average person would look at you or would have looked at you several years ago when you started going through this and said, you know, what’s this kid got to suffer about? He’s healthy, he’s well fed, he’s living in a warm house or whatever. But obviously you’re talking about a completely internal thing where the really the alienation from your true nature was causing suffering. Would it be fair to say that?
MATT: Yeah, you’ve I think you really hit the nail on the head where you kind of dead ends everything. But I mean, on one hand, you can say I think a lot of people, especially in the UK, America, like we’ve got the survival down to a T. We’ve got food, we’ve got a shelter. I couldn’t be more grateful for a happy childhood even to an extent. It’s almost as if that added to this, this inner fury, this inner, everything dead ended. It couldn’t be money that was going to provide happiness. It couldn’t be relationships. It couldn’t be all these things. I was out of luck. I was out of anything. So and then even spirituality became the last thing because spirituality, enlightenment was this thing I can now chase. That was, you know, beyond the physical. And I could kind of turn my nose up at everyone else and say, look, they don’t really get it. I get it. I want enlightenment.
RICK: Did you do that for a while?
MATT: Then I got to the end of that as well. And that is the most horrible discovery to know that even the inner work was just another money or relationship or thing. And to an extent, I wouldn’t say that’s even bad. I think you have to chase spirituality. You have to chase enlightenment to really find that that really is enlightenment. But it’s not what we think. It’s completely radically different. It’s just transcending who we even are. So, yeah, it just dead ended everything, including spirituality.
RICK: Yeah. And, you know, I mean, you know that I don’t know in the UK, but when we were kids in the US, we sometimes would play this game where you’re trying to guess something and the person would say you’re getting warmer or you’re getting colder. You know, as you moved closer and closer to what what it was, they were you were supposed to guess. And, you know, I would say that spirituality, even in the sense that you put it just now, you’re getting warmer. You know, it’s not like drug, drug use or going to parties all night or anything like that. You’re you’re on the right track. But obviously, there are degrees of maturity and the approach to spirituality.
MATT: Yeah. Yeah. It’s like it’s like the upside down pyramid. I would say all these things you can choose from. And you try and get closer and closer to truth. And so much of spirituality is getting to the root slightly more. But then even then, if you open up spirituality, you’ve got all these things, which nothing wrong with them. Like mindfulness really helps breath work, astral projection, all these things. But if you want to get even closer to the core of that, like what is the root of suffering? Like what am I not looking at? What am I avoiding? And what can be inquired into or surrendered to? And it’s always a root. There’s always the root, the self, the misidentification with a separate self, the belief in separation. Just this simple belief triggers all of these branches of suffering that we can trim all day long with all these symptoms and plasters and band-aids, whatever you call it in America. But like many people get, is completely sick of just healing this self. But then you turn around and try and find the one you’re trying to heal. And you’re like, you can’t find it. So so that can be healing. But is a person that’s healed? Is there a self that’s even progressing? Is there a solid entity that’s even making any kind of progress? And this is what, in a way, is paradoxical because you say there’s nothing to do. And, you know, spirituality is a waste of time or something. Some people say. But really, if you if you’re honest, there’s an effortless effort that you can look in the right places to uproot the fuel behind this. And this is what a lot of people don’t understand. Like, OK, there’s no self. But can you see that there’s no self? And does that drop away? And is that seen with clarity and luminosity? I think is what most people get stuck with is you can see through self for a glimpse, but then all the mind identification hits you like a train again. And it’s all there. These conditionings and all this stuff.
RICK: Yeah, I’m glad you use the word paradox. I’ve used that word so many times on the show that somebody once sent me a T-shirt that had the word paradox on it. There’s so many things that are paradoxical in this field. And there were like a dozen things in the statement you just made that are paradoxical or something is it’s this, but it’s not this. It’s also that, you know, and we can dig into some of them
MATT: just really quickly, because you said the other day you talk about pendulum a lot between. I think it was a video with Ardish Shanti or someone. But it was so true with the pendulum on one hand. Sometimes when we break out of mind, we’re so involved in this no self that this no self becomes or this non separation becomes so amazing. But then the other shoe drops and it comes back to humanity, the human form and relative level. We want to integrate, you know, with emotions, all these things up and people either get stuck sometimes up here because it’s such an amazing experience. But that’s what it is, an experience. And then it comes back. Well, we are still in humans. There’s a form here. There’s a speaking between me and you. And it comes back this way, like you said. And then eventually it kind of goes back because it goes. And then you can kind of walk this delicate line of seeing through self, but not disregarding your humanity. I think that’s the dance. It’s that kind of skill of getting in the middle.
RICK: Yeah, maybe that’s why the Zen masters used to whack people with a stick. You know, someone would say, I am not the body. OK, whack. How’s that?
MATT: That’s the thing. But when you’re through, you can’t really do that.
RICK: There’s a woman named Jessica Nathanson, whom I’m going to interview next week. And she has a website called the Glorious Both/And. And I first became aware of her because of a series of conversations she had with Tim Freak, if you know Tim. And I think he lives up in Glastonbury. He’s been on back up a few times. But her whole thing was she had this awakening and then she dove into what we might call Neo Advaita. And she she feels like it really dehumanized her and disassociated her. And she just felt so it was in a bad place, you know. And so she’s kind of on a campaign to promote integration and balance and living the paradox fully.
MATT: Yeah, it’s there’s there’s so many traps. It’s funny because I feel like the deeper you go, the traps become almost more subtle, but deeper. So like, yeah, when you come back to the humanity thing, then you can almost take on this. I am a human, a heroic trauma healer, and there’s so much trauma to be healed. But if you get stuck in just doing that and not and almost take on the self again, because the self wants to be this hero that is doing this for like humanity or doing it for themselves to be loved all the time. And I don’t know, I think I think even there the self can operate in a way that’s trying to progress with this stuff. So in the middle, it’s like on one hand, there’s no solidity to me. There’s no kind of person here. But at the same time, there is condition. There is a momentum of behaving in a way that’s not aligned with that seeing of no self. So it’s like you say, I really like that website title. Look it after.
RICK: Yeah, there’s a on the upcoming interviews page. There’s a link to her website. One of my favorite quotes is from the old Buddhist sage, Padmasambhava. He was said to have said, “Although my awareness is as vast as the sky, my attention to karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour.” So in other words, you know, vast awareness and yet minute, precise attentiveness to the human value, to the relative value, to the act, to the behavior and so on.
MATT: Yeah, that’s it. I think Jeff Foster said, “You can honor the wave without turning your back to the ocean.” You don’t have to forget you’re made of water. There is a skill, there’s an art to it. It really is a dance. If you make it to science, it’s all intellectual, it’s all inquiry, it’s all this. But there has to be a surrender at some point. There has to be a complete letting go of the raft. And that’s the scariest thing, this void that appears. Well, it was always there, but we’re always running from, you know.
RICK: Yeah. Did you ever see Jeff’s cartoon, The Advaita Trap on YouTube?
MATT: No, I didn’t, but I’d like to see it.
RICK: It’s cute. Look it up. It’s basically these cartoon characters, and it’s based upon an experience Jeff had with his mother, where they were walking in some park. And his mother said, “Oh, look at the beautiful tree.” And Jeff goes into this thing, Jeff, the cartoon character, goes in and thinks, “There is no beauty. There are no trees.”
MATT: I remember he said that about his dad. He said something about the same with his dad. It’s true. And there’s no warmth to it. There’s no warmth to the teaching. It kind of seems a bit off. It seems a bit… It’s definitely so good, like a whack on the head for just getting out of seeking. But it’s like there’s no warmth.
MATT: it’s strange. But at the same time, we see why. But what has to be done is to just notice who wants, you know, liberation more. Because it’s just another identity on that side.
RICK: Yeah. I suppose how we might be able to summarize what we’ve been talking about for the last few minutes is that… And spiritual development, if we want to call it that, there’s many things we could call it, is a multi-dimensional undertaking. You can’t sort of isolate yourself in one dimension of it to the exclusion of the others. There has to be this holistic, well-rounded, balanced development. Would you agree with that terminology?
MATT: Yeah. I think it’s down to a spiritual maturity. I remember starting out and I was looking for a practice, a truth, a thing I could do enough of in order to achieve this plateau of enlightenment, this final ground of bliss and happiness. And everyone’s going to like me and have the best job in the world. And I’m going to be so spiritual that the books that I sell are going to go bestseller. I’m going to be the next Eckhart Tolle. We’ve all had it. And eventually, you have to mature enough to see that you have to die, really. You have to see this as a death in some ways, I think. Because I was under the impression that I could achieve, achieve, achieve, or see through self, become so enlightened. I remember walking through the forest blissed out. I was blissed out. I had no sense of… The body almost seemed to be completely empty of any solidity. It was as if I wasn’t even really there. I remember there’s a tennis… Do you know Djokovic?
RICK: Oh, yeah. Sure.
MATT: He’s described it best, which is strange, that he was playing tennis and at one moment he just felt… Who he was, this person, it just wasn’t there. It was vacant. But the aliveness was still there. Life was still going. I remember thinking this was it. But something deep down in me, the seed knew. And it’s always been the case, whenever something’s come about, it doesn’t hang around for long, these realizations. Because if you’ve got true authenticity, true honesty, you know that there’s something more to look at. There’s something that’s… Well, who’s experiencing this bliss? Who’s the self that is enlightened? Who’s the self that is these things? And on the realization that you’re everything, or the realization that you’re nothing, there’s always still a slight experience of that, a kind of progressive through that. And then the course took a very dark turn where, yeah, broken out of mind identification, everything that I thought I was, I saw through. But then all the momentum of the previous conditionings, the karmic… All the conditions just came flying back because they wanted to be looked at. It was a case of no stone being left unturned that was… It came back with more force. It came back with more rage, anger, all these things. They had to be looked at now. There was nothing that could hide. It was like reality was forcing me to look at every single way that I was not being honest with my self-image, who I thought I was. You know, these constant… We’re always bartering with life, trying to trade off with life, trying to… If I do this enough, I’ll be more happy this day. And I had to really die into this process of… Almost it took a turn into no self rather than all self. And then the will, when the will starts dissolving, it’s game over. Because no matter how much you try to get back this will of, “I can do enough inquiry to meditate.” It’s like surrender just floods your body. I was never to credit for any of this. And then it’s like, whatever you do now is not your will. It’s God’s will. There’s no you. And this is going somewhere that you can’t guide. And then you have no option but to let go of the reins. Because if you hold on to those reins again, you will get the strongest burn in your hand you’ve ever had. Because you know you’re not in control. It’s like you’re fighting your own illusion. And then eventually the lights are turned on so much, you see so much that you can’t kid yourself anymore. You can’t keep yourself asleep. You have to face every single trauma that was there, every single relationship issue, all these feelings of not being lovable or not being good enough or anger, all these things. It’s brutal, but it’s the most worthwhile thing that unfolds, I think.
RICK: Yeah. Maybe somebody who’s listening right now could do us a favor and find that Nisargadatta quote, where he says something like, “When I see myself as everything, then such and such. But then when I see myself as nothing, then such and such. And between these two, my life flows.” You know that quote?
MATT: Yeah. I think it’s like with the love and then the wisdom and then…
RICK: Yeah. Let’s see if somebody could find that and send it in through the question form. That’d be handy. Anyway, OK. So a couple of questions came in. Let me just ask those. OK. This is a question from someone named Ajay Maharaj in Canada. In the bio that I read, it states that you were seeking to find the truth and see through the illusion of separation. Can you speak on what that looked like for your close personal relationships, including family?
MATT: Yeah. So that could be split up into the seeking on one hand and then the seeing through separation on the other. I’m not sure how the seeking relates to family. I think what I get from that is the seeking… I think what there is, as well as family, as well as just the relative world, the seeking, I think, it takes you out of kind of… I remember being almost disinterested in these personal relationships that used to be… Of course, family is always there on a relative level, but there was this need to see through relationship. At the same time, almost a retreat from relationship, a retreat from jobs, money, doing a degree, sports, all these things. There was a retreat from that. So the seeking could go inward because all of these people that I had relationships with, or the career path or the sports, all these things, there was still a self that was doing that. And I’m not someone that thinks you have to be in a cave the whole time in this, but I do really think that a period of time of retreat in oneself is so beneficial because you can just let the noise just simmer for a bit, let the silence sort of grow. And in that silence is what really you’re needing to look at in isolation sometimes, just looking for this. And I keep using this because it’s like you’re no longer invested in… I remember just being completely disinterested because I knew there was dead ends to all these things. I wasn’t seeing the dead end to family, but people sometimes even, I see it, they hope to get a family and then they get the family and there’s love, there’s all these things, but there’s still this agitation, this need to find truth, not in the material good and these things, and there’s still this looking for that self. And the seeking really went inwards with, I’d say, radical, radical inquiry. This had to be known that I was a delivery driver for about a year, was it three or four years ago now? I can’t remember, but I would take the inquiry home. It wasn’t because I was forcing it, it was because I was generally so interested that I couldn’t find myself anywhere. I couldn’t find this person that was seeking, I couldn’t find Matt, I couldn’t find… When delivery driving out and about in the senses, in the experience of self, when talking to people, when delivering food, when using the physical body, I could feel sensations, but where did I end? Where did the sensation start? When I was talking to someone, when I was looking at their eyes, was I looking at them or where are they located in the body? So the inquiry became so interwoven, everything became like that message, whatever came through, everything left, there was no distraction. So this could be done not just on the cushion, like I said, in the retreat, but then you started taking it into the world, this inquiry, seeing the emptiness of objects. I remember when emptiness came into my life, in the form of the insight of emptiness, you could see that there really was no objects, not just the emptiness of self, not just the emptiness of subject, but the emptiness of what I perceive. I remember doing it on my mum at one point. I was like, well, this sounds really horrible, but if I was to really say, where is my mum, if I was to take off the arms, is she in the arms?
RICK: Did you tell her that?
MATT: No, I was just beheading her. I was trying to find where she was, or anyone, and then I thought, okay, she’s behind the eyes. But then I was thinking with myself, well, if I’m behind the eyes, let’s go to the exact particle where I am. Let’s really find this particle, this subject, this self that I keep referring to all day, that I’m trying to protect, trying to make enlightened. And all I could find was empty sensations. There was just more sensations where the brain seemed to be, and then even that I could be aware of prior to that. So I can’t even remember what we were talking about, but yeah, it was inquiry into self foremost, and in not finding the self, I think it opens up this opportunity, for lack of a better word, to deepen the no self aspect of that, the dying into nothingness. And anyway, we’re talking about the antisocial objects, but yeah, just, it was Rob Burbea, if anyone’s interested, I just want to get anyone into Rob Burbea. Sadly, he passed away, but he–
RICK: What’s that name?
MATT: Rob Burbea.
RICK: How do you spell that?
MATT: So Rob, R-O-B-E-A, and then B-U-R-B-E-A. He was a Buddhist, brilliant teacher down in Devon, I believe.
RICK: He has videos on YouTube?
MATT: He didn’t, he was like Ramana Maharshi in a way that he didn’t want anyone to, actually he didn’t want video, there’s loads of audio tapes, so if you just type it in Google. He is brilliant for emptiness. He’s got a book called Seeing That Frees, if anyone’s interested. He opened me up to the world of emptiness. And he had this thing where he said, and this is what clicked emptiness for me, one day I sat in my chair and I was deep into contemplating what he meant, because if I don’t understand something, you have to kind of sit with it in a silence, without an agenda to know, you just have to, I remember just sitting with it, and he said, we have objects, right? So let’s say you have a mug like this. We see this mug as a solid object. He took a chair and he said, he started burning the chair in this metaphor, and he said, when does the chair become not a chair? Into the pile of ashes. You see how at one point it’s a solid, and then if you look at it later, it’s just rubble on the floor, ashes. So we have this kind of, opens up this fragility of what we say is an object. So I realised I could start doing this to everything, every object, like a car for example. We say that’s a Mercedes, that’s an object, I’m a subject of that, that’s a BMW. But if you were to take the logo off the BMW, slowly start taking parts off, at what point does it not become a BMW car anymore, when it’s completely unrecognisable or something? So I could see the fragility of this world of perception of the subject object, and this was more just seeing the entities in objects before it was turned into an inquiry of the subject of these objects. So yeah, that was a big shifting point I think.
RICK: Yeah, that’s great. I mean people have been doing this for thousands of years. You can read the Mandukya Upanishad or the Astravakra Gita and books like that, and this is the way they talk. I mean they go so far as to say the universe never manifested in the first place, it’s just a mistake of the intellect to perceive that it has, and things like that. And modern physics, I mean physics will tell you that if you boil everything down to a microscopic enough level, there’s no physicality to be found. It’s just probabilities and energies, all that stuff. So I’ve always been fascinated with the juxtaposition of spirituality and modern science, particularly physics, and a lot of people are interested in that. Because through these modern tools we’re finding that these ancient wisdom teachings are true, and they just had a different way of going about it. One thing you said I wanted to ask you about, and I also heard about this, and you alluded to it in the last few minutes, but I also listened to it in some of your YouTube videos. You know how we were talking earlier about integration and balance and holistic development and all that? There are some of the things you’ve said which, to my mind, leaned a little heavily on not having ambition or initiative or motivation and stuff like that. And I think that those things can be balanced with detachment and with surrender. Like at the time you were interviewed by Angelo, you were working in a clothing store, and you were either on the door or on the cash register. And I thought, “Well, this guy has so many good–he’s a smart guy, so much potential. He can do more than that with his life.” So if you were to be satisfied with that as your life, I don’t know. I kind of see spiritual development as a full blossoming of our potentialities. And I think that a lot of the great scientists and composers and writers and people like that were actually highly evolved people, and they had unlocked certain potentials that they expressed through their art or their science. And I don’t think there’s any reason why an enlightened person couldn’t also be a great musician or scientist or something like that. He doesn’t just have to work in a dumb job. You know what I mean?
MATT: Yeah. Before I go into the strivings, I think striving is probably one of the best traits you can have for spiritual awakening. I think if you’re striving inward, if you’re striving to be open, vulnerable, curious in reality, you’ve got everything you need to go the whole way.
RICK: Which you were doing. I mean, you weren’t just sort of, “Ho-hum, I guess I’ll just drive this delivery truck.” I mean, you were, you know, “Unh-unh,” inquiring the whole time.
MATT: I think that’s why I keep my private life quite separate, because what I’m doing in my actual job, which isn’t a clothing store, it’s funny, I love the clothing store job, because there’s so much interaction, there’s so much ways that someone can pull you out into your shadow and express this. I mean, working in a clothing store on Oxford Street, you’re going to be at your wits’ end on rage at times. On Black Friday, I remember just thinking, “This is the best.” If anyone’s become enlightened, get a job at Urban Outfits on Oxford Street and work Black Friday weekends. It’s like Ram Dass, where you say, “Go spend a week with your family.” It’s the same thing. So the clothing shop was a practicality for me to move to London in the midst of a…
MATT: Yeah, it was rent through the roof. So my actual job is in documentary filmmaking and making adverts for commercial work.
RICK: So you have that job now.
MATT: Yeah, yeah. And as you said there, every single… When you can go into creative, I like to keep it separate, this whole thing, but I could talk about it anyway now, because I think it might help people that are also into the creative world. Everything I’ve ever made now, the freedom you get in art, without having to take credit for it, without having to feel like you’re doing it, you’re the doer of it, also not being bound by limitation in what can be created. I think the only reason I’ve managed to carve a career in my filmmaking is because of this unfolding. And now I realise I’ve never made anything, it’s just happened through me. Just like this podcast for you happened through you. It’s a beautiful podcast and you’ve just opened the channel for this, whatever your being is. And sometimes it feels like, “Oh, this is difficult. I don’t want to give up my credit for this.” But in giving up the credit for the artwork, in giving up the doership, it just flows. It flows and it flows. And people hone in on it. The best music I’ve ever seen. Like Djokovic, when he’s playing tennis, he doesn’t even feel like he’s there. This is why he’s so good at times. You look at David Bowie or Michael Jackson. Michael Jackson said–I know there’s a lot of controversy with him, but Michael Jackson once said–let’s be honest, he’s one of the most influential people in music, most popular with his music. And he said at one point, something along the lines of, “It was just him dancing on the moon and he disappeared.” Again, like Djokovic, this no-self is creeping into the people at the top of art world or music or these things. It’s like they’re tapping into non-duality and expressing it through them or it’s using them to express. And people around the world can–something deep in them knows that, and that’s why they’re so successful, I feel.
RICK: Yeah. And somebody like Djokovic, if you have a serve coming at you at 130 miles an hour and the whole game–you can’t actually– you have to be on autopilot. Of course, you have to have a lot of training and you have to have the right physiology and everything, but the greatest athletes often speak of this kind of experience where they’re just in this deep witnessing state and things are just happening automatically.
MATT: Yeah. I think tennis is such a good one because even if you weren’t into non-duality and you didn’t have experiences, you’re not really there anyway, the way all the training’s already been done, there’s no room for any kind of thinking, “Oh, it’s 180 miles this way, I need to–” No, you’re in it. Whereas if it’s something like darts, where you’re kind of in your head and you’re thinking and you’re thinking or pool or snooker or whatever, it’s so different. But you started to touch on striving, which I think is really good. And I think the same thing, where if someone is taking this message as, “Oh, there’s nothing really to do. This is all play. I can just go and drink a beer,” that’s aversion to me. That’s avoidance to me because one thing that Angelo taught me, and I think Angelo is one of my most powerful teachers, in his ability to point without giving you candy for the mind. And he said– he commented on something the other day. He said, “The best practice really for awakening is a life well lived. If you live your life well and thoroughly, first of all, your life kind of gives way. The you gives way.” But what he means by this, I think, is that if you lean into life, you get everything out of the shadows, face everything with honesty and brutal authenticity, you will wake up because the aversion kind of seeps away. And like you said, the need to wake up kind of overtakes the need to be comfortable. The need to– because let’s be honest, people look at people who are young, but we’ve had lifetimes of suffering. I think we’re all just sick of it, the people that are into this path, and they just want to go the full way now. They want to wake up now. And the sad thing is I see so many people into this stuff, but they get sidetracked into like– I’m not saying any of these are bad, but like certain practices that want the self and keep a hold of the self, and they don’t just want to sit in an empty, quiet room and face a blank wall and just let all the suffering come up and all the pain come up and just to surrender to that because that is the best practice as well. It’s just silence, basically, I think.
RICK: Yeah, so there are a couple of points here that I want to unpack more with you. One is the striving point, and another is the doership point. And a question came in on the doership point from Charlie Melk, M-E-L-K, in Wapaka, Wisconsin. This is the age-old question. He says, “Does free will exist? And if so, what is its role in awakening? I’ve never heard a good explanation of the relationship between free will and determinism, or at least one I could learn from and apply to my own spiritual development.”
MATT: Yeah, so let’s keep this as non-intellectual as we can, but still attack it in a way that hopefully sheds light. The first thing I’d say is once we think about things, what we try and do with thought really is avoidance of what’s here and right now. So anything that’s here right now, especially free will, we can investigate anything. Let’s get out of philosophical debates, not this person, but philosophical debates about free will, determinism. The only way we are going to ever look into this is right here, right now, in this moment, in experience, in the sensations, in the– we have to go prior to thought, because if we try and figure out thought with thought, we’re just a dog chasing its tail. So these things like free will, I would say investigate. First of all, on a relative level, to be able to hold people accountable for bumping into your car or killing a dog, there’s going to be free will there. I’m not saying that, but in my experience, when I investigated free will, I could never find this will, this personal will that I supposedly had. I would say, can you even find where you first made a decision? Not only can you find the one that’s making the decision, but can you find these decisions? Because if you even look into the science aspect, this is still an investigation of now. You know the whole experiment where the thoughts were firing the neurons like 10 seconds before it even fired. So this kind of inquiry can lead you to a place of total exertion where it really does feel like if you trace everything back to the Big Bang, it’s almost as if everything is just kind of, the conditions are here for something to happen. Even me to come onto this call with you, your neurons fired to watch Angelo’s thing, something in you wanted Angelo. Angelo made a video once. This is all God’s will. I can’t find this separate self that’s doing this. I can’t find all of this. And there’s so much freedom in that if you don’t take it in a way of attachment or inversion because people take this and they’re not going to sit on the sofa and say, “There’s no free will. I’ve been doing what I want.” But that’s them resisting that insight and not facing what that truly means, which is no, now you have no free will over your suffering. And when you give up free will and suffering, it has full range to show itself, flower itself, and be processed or seen through.
RICK: I think it’s another one of those multidimensional paradox things. I like take the Bhagavad Gita, for instance. There are verses such as, “You have control over action alone, never over its fruits,” you know, “Live not for the fruits of action, nor attach yourself to inaction.” So there are these verses where Lord Krishna is saying to Arjuna, “Do something. Here’s what I want you to do. Take initiative.” And then there are other verses where it says, like, you know, “You are not the doer,” and the enlightened person realizes, “I do not act at all,” and everything is, you know, the will of God or whatever that’s carrying it on. So why would he state two completely contradictory things in one book? And I think the reason is that, you know, knowledge is different in different states of consciousness, at different levels of consciousness, different levels of spiritual maturity. And you have to be – you can’t appropriate the truth of one level to a level that you’re not – you yourself are not living. So you have to – if you experience yourself as having volition, then you have to exercise it wisely. If you experience – if it’s your experience that everything is really the will of God, then, you know, no problem. It will all carry on automatically. And, you know, when people do this kind of misappropriation, they get themselves into trouble. There was recently a teacher who was embroiled in a scandal where he was, you know, sleeping with a lot of young women who were coming to him as students, and in spite of the fact that he was married and so on. And when that was discovered, he started coming out with all these excuses like, “Oh, I am not the doer,” or, “It’s just God doing it. It’s the will of God,” and all this stuff. So, you know, it’s just kind of a BS misapplication of a beautiful teaching. And so I think, you know, the whole free will determinism thing, maybe ultimately there’s absolutely no free will, but if we experience ourselves as having it, then don’t use an intellectual concept of there being no free will as a kind of a tool in your daily life. Just be who you are, where you are, and be genuine. Otherwise it can cause confusion and get you into trouble.
MATT: Yeah. No, you’ve hit the nail on the head, because if someone’s going to be brutally honest, if someone ever says to me, “Look, my sense of self has fallen away completely. It’s never returned,” that, to me, there needs to be a fragrance of self. Because if someone’s to call your name and you don’t turn around, then that’s dropped away, you know?
MATT: This is the expectation people have. They’re like, “Enlightenment,” you know, “You’re blissed out.” No, you just see through the reality of that ego. You don’t lose the ability to speak, the ability to turn. Even when I’m driving my car and I hit someone, or not that I have ever.
RICK: That’s why you lost your delivery driver job, right? You had to get into a clothing industry.
MATT: But like you say, let’s say I was to deliver someone and I dropped all their shopping, or I, on purpose, or whatever, a backstab hit them. In this moment, you have to admit, on the relative level, to the character, you could say, “I screwed up.” “I screwed up, it wasn’t you.” But this is the dimensional thing. How deep do we want to go into this? How prior do we want to go into this, beyond all of this? Because if you were to take it out, you could look at even the two of you arguing, and you’re beyond the two arguments. The will of this person, the will of that person. But in the moment, I don’t think it’s the best thing to be in that state of absolutist no-self. Because if your child had just fallen over, or an old lady needed help, if I went into no-self absolutist, I need to go into my character as the human to be able to help her across the road in my form. We just swing the pendulum all day, until we walk that line. There was something you said I really want to touch on. This whole will, I think, if you’re premature to some of these teachings, especially emptiness, especially will, you take it, the mind takes it as, “Oh, I can use this to make myself more comfortable, happy.” “I can now say it’s fine to play video games all day,” “or be horrible to my mom or dad,” “because there’s no free will.” Like Jeff Foster said, “We’re the beauty of the tree.” There’s no beauty, there’s no tree. This is just not true, or not close to truth. I say what’s close to the truth is when you’ve really exhausted the will, even desire. I remember someone said the other day, they said, quite funny, I hope this is all fine, they said, “I have the desire to go meet a prostitute.” I would never say what to do, I just said, “In another case, though, “when desire’s there, “the prostitute is not a good example.” But if there’s a desire there, you need to not suppress it, feel it, inquire into it, the one that’s doing it. Because when we suppress the desires, we just have another form of resistance, another form of shame, guilt, all these things. And this doesn’t help at all. But with the will, back to the will, if you go to the edge of the will, and you see that you hit the ceiling, I love when Adyashanti said, “You really do hit the ceiling of what you can do,” because at a certain point, inquiry even loses its ability to see through things, even emotional work. It’s like you’re out on a raft to sea, I was saying. Eventually, all these things have gotten you out to the middle of the ocean, but the truth is at the bottom. You have to let go of the raft and sink without practice, without your own will, without any kind of knowledge or way through, I feel. And that can be taken on different levels, but it only really flowers sometimes when it’s needed. But all these practices and things are so powerful, I feel, they just sometimes need to be let go, and that includes the will.
RICK: Yeah. Two thoughts on what you just said. One about the desires. We don’t just act on any desire that happens to pop into our heads. I don’t care what state you’re in. There’s a value to discernment, you know, discrimination. And there’s a value, you might be tempted to, let’s say you’re working in the clothing store and some customer was being impatient and gnarly with you. You might have an impulse to say something to tell them off, but you can check that desire. You’re not going to cause irreparable frustration, harm to yourself or anything. It’s just there’s a wisdom to being able to hold one’s tongue or to check one’s impulses if they’re inappropriate. The second thing is about the pendulum thing. It’s never all or nothing. You know, a pendulum gives the impression like it’s way over here, but it’s not going to be over here. I’m kind of suggesting that it’s more like a zoom lens on a camera, and you’re a camera guy, where you might focus in on a particular thing, but you also still see the background. Like my image right now is focused on me, but you can still see the background. And maybe you zoom to the background and I become blurry. But in any case, our focus, there’s always going to be, if we’re really developed in this way, there’s always going to be the sort of no self, silence, non-doing dimension, and there’s going to be the kind of divine, everything is perfect just as it is dimension. And there’s going to be the, oh, we have problems here. This child just fell down or is about to run in front of a car or something like that dimension. And you don’t ever focus exclusively on one to the exclusion of the others. It’s just more of a matter of the zoom lens going to where, what’s appropriate at that time.
MATT: Yeah, I think I’ll never use the pendulum again now because this is such a good, this thing that you talked about, because like you say, when you, all this is really is a stepping back, a widening of the lens. And when you’re, what I like about that is when you’re in the humanity, it does feel like a getting closer. It does feel like a leaning in sometimes when it’s emotional, like I just say, just lean into it just until there’s no you and it, you’re almost going in and in. It almost like a tantric approach to that and the going back and back and back and back. I’d also say as well, like you say, it’s less like that way or this way, or even zoomed in and zoomed out. There’s almost a case of you can stay in the silence, even in the noise of becoming or taking the form of human, and you start to never forget the silence.
RICK: Yeah, you have no choice after a while.
MATT: Exactly. Exactly. So if someone sat there and their reading mind identifies, it’s almost as if it takes more effort to be in the silence. And eventually being in the silence you see is your state anyway, and it takes more effort to suffer, more effort to have to think and to create these illusions and kid yourself again that there’s anything wrong, that the separation has any reality to it.
RICK: Yeah. In fact, I think it was Angelo when I was listening to your interview with Angelo, he was saying that for him, the more crazy the situation, and I think he’s an emergency room doctor, isn’t he? The more crazy the situation, the more he notices the silence because the contrast is greater or something.
MATT: Yeah. I remember he said that, and it gave the same thing of, oh, this can be done anywhere. This can be seen anywhere. There was times where I was in the silence and my mind was the most noisy at that point. So it’s that same thing again, and it just shows people if Angelo can do it with the stress of his job, I have nothing to say about anything in my life that can ever–unless I was suddenly amputated with everything and I had no prospects. He has the most stuff on his plate up until that point. In terms of professional jobs, I think having something like that and to be able to still do that has given–I know other people who are doctors and they’ve read and seen Angelo’s stuff and had so much courage to do their stuff because before it was just an excuse. They didn’t have time. We didn’t have a thing. Even delivery driving, I would have probably said before, we’re not doing it 10 hours a day. There’s no time to sit and meditate. Okay, I’ll take the meditation to the delivery van driving. I’ll take it to the conversations. I’ll take it to going to the toilet. Where do I end and where does the toilet start? This kind of stuff. I want to take this back to striving because I remember one of the things I wanted to really talk about today was that this can be done by anyone. Yes, relative world, there are going to be problems where you’ve got to do a job or maybe your degree is taking over, but eventually if you’re really wanting this and more than you want something in the land of careers or money, you don’t have to cut them down, but you can incorporate this and orient towards this until this is your priority. You don’t forget anything else. You just orient towards this whilst doing these things, and you can go the full way. Anyone can.
RICK: Yes. There’s a principle we might call the highest first. In other words, you don’t eliminate all other things, but you prioritize. So this is your first priority. As Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all else should be added unto thee,” so you don’t lose everything else. You actually gain more if this inner development or whatever we want to call it is your highest priority.
MATT: Yes. Yes, I so resonate with that. I think what came to mind when you were saying that as well is the realization of the amount of suffering it took to try and put happiness in these other things like careers and these things. It doesn’t mean–trust me, post-awakening, I’ve been even more involved in filmmaking because there’s no agenda to use it for happiness. Because there’s no agenda, it opens up this complete freedom to create and do stuff and still make a living out of it. When there’s no agenda–because I was talking to another guy the other day, he’s a musician, and before the awakening, he was making music in order to– I’ll say his name as well, Yeehan Jihan, I think his name was. I just want to put his name out there because he’s such a lovely guy. He was making music before, and it was almost like an agenda. He had to make something in order. Post-awakening, you see that there’s nothing in that substance-wise that’s going to bring happiness. There’s no fulfillment in that. Suddenly, you’re free in the realm of music to create with no need to– if there’s money involved, of course, it becomes tricky, but it just opens up this freedom to create without sustaining, I don’t know, some hope that this is going to fill me up.
RICK: Yeah, and I don’t know how we want to define happiness, but I wouldn’t say that it brings no happiness, but it’s more like icing on the cake. I’m sure that this fellow derives fulfillment by creating his music, and it’s a joy to him. He’d rather be doing that than just sitting staring at a wall or something, but he probably would also be content just staring at a wall. So it’s like a value–it’s an add-on. You get to have the fulfillment and do something that is a joy and perhaps is a benefit to other people.
MATT: It goes from exactly that, from this will find me wholeness, this thing, to this thing is just a celebration of the wholeness. This thing–like relationships. I remember thinking at one point–because relationships, especially intimate relationships, were such a hotbed of resistances and suffering, and there’s so much validation and security, and we’re running into this. There’s so much there to be deepened with self because that’s why I think the self operates so much as well. What were we talking about then?
RICK: Added-on fulfillment in addition to baseline fulfillment.
MATT: Exactly, and you can sense when someone, just energy-wise, wants something from you in the room or something, or some kind of validation, even relationship, because they’re thinking this person will fulfill me, will fill me up, will add to this wholeness to me. But then if you’ve ever sat with someone–I don’t know if you have– where they just feel really content in themselves. They don’t really want anything from me. But if I say, “What’s the difference between these two people?” I say, “This person feels the fullness, feels complete, and the laughter, the things you share are a celebration of that wholeness.” Whereas anyone else usually is looking, as with an agenda, to either manipulate you to get them to like you or to attach to them. It’s just slight perspective change that happens, not through force, but through a seeing that there is no separation. There cannot be anything to attain, to lose in this case.
RICK: Yeah. You know that phrase from the 23rd Psalm, “My cup runneth over”? I’m not a big Bible expert or anything, but my grandmother used to read that to me when I was a kid. I think of that often because it’s like, “My cup runneth over.” When you are full within yourself, then you naturally overflow. If you’re not, then you can’t really overflow in the sense of the kind of person you just referred to who is content with themselves, and you feel the overflow coming when you’re in their presence. I think that the more deeply awake one is, the more one’s personality blossoms. It’s not like you become more a bland, emotionless person, but you become more vibrant, more alive, and the more it benefits others. Just one more thought before I lose it, which is that saying, “Man is made in the image of God,” when you were talking about the value of the fullness rising in waves and the joy of creating this and doing that, maybe that’s even–if we’re made in the image of God, maybe that thing you described is a reflection of what God himself is doing. Because you can imagine prior to the manifestation of the universe, there’s just sort of the God in resting pose, as it were, just flat oneness. And then I am one may become many. It rises up in waves, and there’s a value added. There’s some joy in the whole show, the whole creation, that is more than just the unmanifest value by itself.
MATT: Yeah, you move from wholeness. When you were talking, I remember something that someone said to me. It’s like, “How is it different? What is it different?” And when you’re not moving from this as if God’s moving through you, if you’re putting in this effort constantly to take credit for your actions and this doership and this thing, this energy, all the energy that sucks out of all the blame and guilt and effort, striving, and these things, you’re missing out on the truth and reality of it really is just God’s will moving through you. And the beauty and the joy that you’re talking about there, it’s almost as if beauty and joy is synonymous with this seeing. Because what’s the difference as well? Let’s investigate this as well. How can people see into it? I think the word is resistance as well. Because when you’re resisting, you’re basically saying, you’re going against the universe. You’re saying, you don’t trust God, you don’t trust the universe in this moment because you’d be saying, “No, I know best here. I shouldn’t have this feeling. I shouldn’t have this thought. I shouldn’t have this.” You’re going against billions of years of evolution to get to this state. The amount of naivety I’ve had, or most humans have, to say this moment is wrong is basically saying you know best over God. But then once you really let God show, and I don’t want to keep using the word God. Let’s call it universe because it puts people off.
RICK: Well, let’s just define it quickly. Let’s call God, if we’re going to use that word, just the sort of all-pervading intelligence which is running the show from the subatomic to the galactic levels.
MATT: Yeah, exactly. I am going to keep using the word universe now just because I’ve seen it. That’s okay. But that’s a perfect description. But when you’re going against the universe, there’s so much suffering in that because when you go with the universe, there’s no use anymore to do it. There’s just this aliveness. It’s like the weather patterns. They just come together. This body is temporary, but what it sees through my eyes and sees through your eyes is exactly the same, and it’s beyond all of that. We’re just playing a game in this moment. So when someone says, “I look at you now, and I see myself beyond your form and my form,” that is the absolutist view. You can fall into that, this beauty of it. And what the piece I think comes is this seeing through doership because when you see through doership, you realize there’s not a single thing. There’s no space for anything to be out of place. There’s no gaps where things could–oh, that could have slightly gone wrong there. I shouldn’t–every single thing that’s ever happened in my life showed me an aspect of reality I wasn’t looking at, all these wrong things, the suffering things, all these things. And when you really see that, now anything that comes to you in the future is now more an opportunity to deepen. There’s something I’m not quite looking at here, and there’s nothing wrong. The universe has just about timed it right. You said something earlier there where you said some people shouldn’t be opened up to all this straightaway. Their body minds couldn’t handle it. But the universe will just give you little pieces until–Ramana Maharshi, he had it, bam. His apple was ripe to drop whenever he was. But then he was in this state of he was having rats eat away or something.
RICK: Yeah, yeah, legs were being gnawed on by insects. And then he got out of that pit, and he went up on the mountain and sat in a cave for many years before he was whatever he needed to be to come and start interacting with people.
MATT: Exactly. So who are we to say that this is not right? Even in your life, my life, the universe is literally giving us pieces that are just right for us to open and widen our view of who we are, what reality is, what’s true. And if someone’s come across a teaching that would blow their world open, they might just implode. I don’t know. If someone’s so mind-identified, the universe is the most intelligent, is intelligent, so it knows what it’s doing.
RICK: Yeah, that’s great. The way I — one analogy I use these days which seems to fit for my life is that it’s as if we’re in this play, and there is a script to the play. There’s a script writer who wrote the play. But we also have the permission to improvise. And so we’re kind of going along, and things happen. Okay, that’s part of the script. But I think I’ll improvise this way, you know. And maybe that’s just a halfway kind of developmental state because maybe if I were cosmic enough, it would be just, you know, I totally go with the flow and everything is fine. But that’s my orientation, that there’s — it’s kind of like — I’ve said this many times before, but it’s like the nursery rhyme, “Row, row, row your boat,” where mainly the stream is carrying the boat along, but you still have a paddle, and you can row, but you’re rowing gently down the stream. So there’s just little minor adjustments you make as you go along to maybe avoid this rock or whatever.
MATT: Exactly. It’s like the preferences can still be there, but there’s just the seeing of the emptiness of these preferences, the seeing that there’s no one there deciding. There’s no credit for this or that. Because to be honest, if you were to drop the whole notion of preference, you wouldn’t be able to choose what to eat. You wouldn’t know. So the character is still there. It just — even those preferences are completely not your doing.
RICK: No, but there may still be the perception that they are. You go to a restaurant, let’s say, and you look at the menu, and you ponder it for a while, and you think, “Okay, well, this one looks like it might be good. I think I’ll try that.” So maybe that’s just automatic, and you didn’t have any choice in the matter. But if you perceive that you do, don’t beat yourself up over it. It’s just natural. But, yeah, I think the one thing I do want people to really know, I remember just thinking, I just want anyone out there to know that this can be done if you orient towards it, if you want to go the full way, or if you want to see through yourself. If I can just give a bit of context, because I feel like — I remember listening to Andrew and realizing how dedicated he was, and even that’s a paradox, because the dedication that he removes. But if you sit with this inquiry, and you really hold space, I think, is the right word, because if you’re holding space for this surrender to unfold, if you try to do this, you try to surrender it, there’s still an agenda woven into this. There’s still a need to get somewhere else to progress into this. But if you, every night, if you have — every morning, in the day, if you have a keen interest to go the full way, and you orient towards this, everything that you think you’re running from with these things, if you just sit with it, and instead of trying to practice out of it, you go to the root of why it’s even there, the fuel behind it, the self in the middle of it, it drops out. The bottom of self drops out, and the suffering there struggles to grow back without the fuel, the fuel of separation, the fuel of belief, the fuel of resistance. This is the thing I really wanted to hammer home, because I remember sat there and not thinking this was — I thought this was for the Eckhart Tolles of the world, the Ramana Maharshis, even the Adishanti, but then I came across Adishanti, and he was one of the first guys, he seemed like a normal, really normal guy, and he took the sport to the edge, he took cycling so far to the edge, and this pursuit, this striving, you said, touched on, the striving you need, you need to exhaust seeking into the ground to finally say, “I don’t know what I’m doing. God or universe, show me. Reveal it to me.” And it reveals as soon as you stop looking for it.
RICK: That’s kind of what happened to Adya, too. He just has this competitive spirit, so when he got into Zen, he was like, “All right, I’m going to do this to the max.” He would go on these long retreats and just meditate like crazy and everything, and he finally reached a point where he thought he was going to snap, and he left in the middle of a retreat and went home, and he had this little meditation hut in his parents’ backyard, and he just went in there and he said, “I give up.” That’s it. And boom, then he had his big awakening.
MATT: Yeah. How true is that? How true is that? Any insight that’s ever really come about, in my experience anyway, is sometimes I’m just staring out to sea, or if I’m just sat. Because in that moment, I think the groundwork could be put in, the inquiry, the exhaustion, but then it kind of just flowers when you’re least expecting it, because that’s when the will kind of takes a break for a second. That’s when the agenda, the pursuit kind of bottoms out for a bit.
RICK: Yeah. But Ajahn might tell you, and probably would, that he wouldn’t have had that awakening if he hadn’t done all that striving.
MATT: Yeah. I think a lot of people exhaust themselves, and in the exhaustion, they finally stop. And not a physicality stop, but they stop beyond the physicality. They just give up looking for something, and they just allow the universe to show them. They hold space for something to unfold, because the resistance to… Whenever you’re seeking, you’re resisting now. You’re saying, “There’s something here that needs to change.” When you give up seeking, you’re almost giving fertile ground for the flower to bloom, whatever you want to call it poetically. There’s a stopping that takes place, and in the stopping, you see the silence that was always there. You just… It unfolds, and you wonder why you were ever so caught up in all of these thoughts. You never looked at the silence between the thoughts. Yeah. It’s always there.
RICK: This whole thing of giving up seeking, it’s kind of a popular phrase these days. Papaji once said to a group of people sitting with him, “Give up the search.” And there are conferences about the end of seeking and websites about it and everything. I don’t know. My orientation to it, and feel free to disagree or comment on it, is that there’s a phase, obviously, where you’re just not feeling much fulfillment. And so there’s a kind of a desperation, “Man, I got to get this. I got to realize this.” But then there’s a time when the fulfillment really has matured quite a bit. There’s the Sanskrit word “santosh,” which means “contentment.” So there’s a contentment quality that grows. But you don’t necessarily rest on your laurels at that point. There’s still this enthusiasm and motivation and curiosity and realization that there’s so much more to deepen and to know and to integrate and so on. But it’s done more on the basis of a fulfillment quality rather than a desperate emptiness quality.
MATT: Well, this is the taboo, I think, that you’ve talked on, where seeking can end. And I found the seeking end. And now I call it clarifying, or I call it– because in a way, there was so in post-awakening, I’d say the intensity of suffering–if you want to call it suffering, maybe less of the word “suffering,” because there was no personal suffering, but suffering–it made me face everything. And even though the seeking had stopped, I think it’s because the seeking had stopped, I now could numb myself with thinking my way out. I had to face it all full on. And like you say, the enthusiasm, yeah, all the positive stuff, but there’s a clarifying of death, which is like a post-awakening where there’s a big taboo where–I don’t even mean for these videos that I post to kind of gain traction. I think eventually I will just stop at some point and just rest and do the video stuff. So this is just taken away from the fact that I didn’t want this to really come about, but it’s all God’s will, whatever you want to call it. But what was it about the post-awakening? The seeking has stopped, like you say, but that doesn’t mean really that this has deepened to its fullest depth. Because I think not many people have gone–when I say people, not many beings have allowed the personal will, the death. There’s a lady–you did an interview with Aadha Shanti, is it Suzanne?
RICK: Susanna Marie. Yeah, she and Aadha Shanti and I had this conversation.
MATT: Yeah, I love that because they touched on something that I couldn’t really see much online, which was this, the no self, the real sense of even the center, the one that’s experiencing this. Like people can stop seeking because they see they’re everything, but now let even that experiencer of bliss, let the experiencer of enlightenment really die into nothingness. Because some people still take credit for even the inquiry up until that, and that shows that there’s still a residual will there. So it’s almost like this. It’s like this big, grand thing, and you go on YouTube and you sell your insights, and then everything comes crashing back because you now need to embody this realization. You need to breathe it, live it. How you converse with people, how you–like these hooks. Let’s put our hands up. People that–unless all your conditioning falls away, I think I was quite lucky and still am that things hit me with such an avengence afterwards because I thought I was in the clear. I’d broken out of mind identification. It’s almost as if I woke up on the level of mind, and this hadn’t caught up. This was still operating on the old system, and it needed to be– and this is the funniest thing. You can’t go around it. You have to go through it each time. It’s like the animals come running at you, and you just get trampled, and the only way you can do it is really face whatever’s running at you and see what they’re trying to tell you because every single trauma that comes up, every single bit of suffering that comes up, to me, I can speak from experience, was something that I wasn’t looking at in reality, either my self-image, maybe it was something I was denying, maybe I didn’t feel good enough, but I tried to be a better filmmaker in order to put up with that, validation in how I looked maybe. All of these things you have to let down. Like you said, the seeking stops, but I feel like the clarifying is where it’s brutal. I think if you want to go the full way, reality is looking at you like this, and you have to face each of your resistances, each of your things until there’s no stone left unturned. Then that, to me, is the start of embodiment because it’s not that you’re now blissed out and happy. You lose the ability to resist, which doesn’t mean– truth doesn’t care about happiness. This is aliveness. This is the realization–this is the end of chasing happiness. This is the start of seeing truth through this integration. Even integration loses its time because it implies it never was integrated. It’s just like you say, these depths of awakening. I think the only people that really resonate even at this stage for me– because I don’t do much looking online, but definitely Adyashanti, definitely Angelo, Susanne Marie. Those are the people I’d really recommend to others if they feel this is resonation to go beyond awakening. I think Adyashanti’s got a video called “Beyond Awakening” or something, but the one that I really like is one that he’s called– I think it’s on his website if anyone–it’s called “Beyond the Person.” Only watch it if you’re resonating with it because it can really take you to places maybe you don’t want to go. But I think everyone’s going that way anyway.
RICK: Yeah. Check out Harri Aalto sometime. You ever watch any of my interviews with Harri?
MATT: How do you spell his surname?
RICK: Well, firstly, his first name is spelled differently. It’s H-A-R-R-I because he’s Finnish, and Aalto, A-A-L-T-O. You’ll find that there’s an index on the past interviews menu of Batgap where you can just pop that name and it’ll come up. Anyway, different take than most people on all this stuff. I won’t elaborate. I’ll let you just check it out. So a few more questions have come in here. Let’s see. Here’s one from somebody in your neighborhood, Darren Emerson in Jersey, UK. “As part of your awakening, have you lost contact with friends and family because they no longer get you or you get them? If so, how have you reconciled it with yourself? Personally, I found this a source of sadness, so I’m interested in your view.”
MATT: So, yeah, that’s–it’s a beautiful question because it’s so honest because what I hope people resonate–well, I hope people gain something from this, basically, if I can get context for it because there’s so much alienation. We feel so alone sometimes in this part, which is funny because we’re all looking for this oneness. I’d say deep down, I never got–I was never getting someone. They were never getting me because as long as we’re in identification– and it seems like people are getting each other. I think I look at people and sometimes they’re used to being envied, but people seem to be able to play these characters, these things. But I think what I realized is there was no fulfillment in that. There is to an extent, but when it’s that celebration of wholeness that we talk about, I see more and more that I was never really celebrating this wholeness. I was always–I was never being got, and I felt so alienated in this place. And so to answer your question first from dead on, awakening, I find, is a lot more ordinary than people think. I think people have seen a huge shift in the way they speak to me, the way I am with them, because I think there’s a difference in just the energy shift and these things. All these things are just words, but the ordinariness of awakening, I think, takes over. And you see there wasn’t much–the only difference is that I can’t– it’s almost too painful to play a certain character to fit a thing. So this authenticity can come through, and relationships you do form, I find, are just through people that resonate, people that– you don’t feel a need to be friends with people in order to get somewhere and validate them. And your friendships of celebration of wholeness, they’re– it’s really hard to describe. Even the family stuff, you almost give up hope that these two separate entities will become the perfect relationship or these things. You just see through all of that, and there’s a freedom in that. And then the expression of joy through this stuff. But to take it back a step and give context for this, there is this big alienation that people really don’t get you, because when you’re not living your truth, when you’re very mind-identified, in fact, I think it’s easier to live in the world. It’s easier to overlook reality, overlook the truth that you’re everything and play the role really well. And people do play it well, and it can be almost not too much suffering. People go their whole lives playing these characters. And that can feel alienating, because somebody in you has this calling to go deeper, and everyone else seems to not be going deeper. And I remember that’s what, for me, if this happens to anyone, was so isolating was that I was seeking something, and I knew there was a burning desire, but they seemed content with– there’s nothing wrong about it. There’s no higher or lower beings. It’s just what resonates and what comes together for the body-minds. But they just weren’t into the same stuff. And it was really difficult for me to accept that people could just be somewhat content with their body-mind and not suffer too much to the extent of this thing, and eventually it overtook me that it didn’t matter. I didn’t need these people to understand me or do these things. And what seemed to happen, as soon as I stopped looking for that in people, I’ve met so many people that are into non-duality and even just authentic people that aren’t into spirituality, but they’re so true to themselves or truer than people from before that we speak, and there’s no need to feel a silence if I’m with them. We just enjoy each other’s presence. If we do talk, it’s about art or film or something that cuts through the human condition and can help people or this thing. And I think that’s the difference it makes is you start to lose your interest in relationships which aren’t resonating deeply with what you’ve seen in this inward journey.
RICK: When I first started meditating when I was 18, I had to leave my friends because they were all doing drugs, and I just didn’t want to be around that scene anymore, and I left a band that I was playing in. I just spent a few months walking the dog every morning, and I got into a community college and started doing other things with my life. But of course I gained new friends, and that’s the way life always is. We’re probably not in touch with most of the people that we were friends with in high school now because our lives have gone in different directions. But there’s an old Bengali saying which is, “If no one comes on your call, go ahead alone.” And so sometimes it’s necessary to just go ahead alone, especially if the people who you’re associating with just don’t get what you’re doing. But like family, you can always accommodate and be interested in the things that they’re interested in when you go to visit them. I have a sister who’s not interested in this kind of stuff at all, and when she comes to visit, we play card games or do fun stuff together. And I don’t bring up politics because her politics and her husband’s politics are at the extreme other end of the spectrum from mine. But we love each other and we enjoy, so we don’t always have to wear our spirituality on our chest, so to speak.
MATT: And like you say, people that do and take non-duality and put it in people’s faces, as some of us all do at the start, I think it’s further than truth. When you go into your sister’s and play cards, that’s closer to truth because to push non-duality on someone is basically also not trusting the universe. But that will come into their life at some point. And I remember with my mum, I had a similar thing. My mum is religious, but not to the extent of going like read within and seeing through self. I remember at one point, I think I did try, you know, we all come across this, like, “Mum, look for your sense of self. You don’t exist,” all these things, and they don’t know. And the spiritual maturity is to see, you know, this isn’t really aligned with what I think. I don’t need to push it on people anymore because I’ve seen what I’ve seen, and if it resonates for them and it goes with them, that’s great. But right now, all my mum needs is a hug. All my mum needs now is like someone to talk to. On their perspective of life, which is not less, no more, wrong, this is the end of right and wrong, they don’t need someone telling them there’s no self. Just like the lady that crossed in the street. Like, if she gets hit by a bus, I’m not going to say, “Well, there’s no one there. She’s dead.” You know, there’s definitely no one there now. But it’s more just like there’s just a maturity and a flexibility to the way that reality moves. Reality doesn’t move that rigidly. It doesn’t stay in non-duality. It moves with something that can accommodate for everything, and I think that’s what I’ve seen as well, like we said there with your sister.
RICK: Yeah, we speak on the level of the listener. There’s an old Indian saying that when the mangoes are ripe, the branches bend down so that people can just easily pick them. So the branches don’t stay up on high and say, “Nah, nah, you can’t pick me.”
MATT: Yeah, exactly.
RICK: Okay, another question came in. This is from Ka Rudolf in Germany. “As a tantric practitioner, I have reached a very good level of being in peace. After awakening, an extreme purification occurred, but it seems that there is no creativity and no feeling of purpose. Does this arise in the process of awakening at one time? I can’t get myself going for any activity like before awakening.”
MATT: It’s definitely a case as well. First of all, I found different body minds are hooked up definitely differently in the creative aspect, but I think this seems less of a like, “Oh, creativity, what can I…?” I sent up a flatlining here. The purpose, I think, is the more the thing that can cause a bit more of a confusion because it’s as if everything that we were striving for, as I say, with the dead ends, you get to the dead end, you realize nothing there. So then it’s like this no man’s land, then what? If this isn’t it, even spiritual, even enlightenment isn’t it, then what? And this purpose drips and drops away. And this no man’s land really is what I would call the best teacher to be silence. Because there are so many gurus and teachers out there who can give you the techniques, the tantric approaches that I just sense this guy was into. All these things are so powerful for creating the conditions for awakening, even mindfulness to an extent to silence the mind can help. But there’s a certain level where you do have to start to trust your intuition because again, we’re going to go into the realm of, “Well, I need another practice or to get purpose or this or this.” I’d really orient towards, firstly, the subtle sense of self is still there because if you don’t have a purpose, who doesn’t have purpose? Where is this purposeless person? This slight entity we refer to, it’s not all in the self because sometimes the lack of purpose is almost a reaction to losing what we had before, a kind of grief of this in whatever it was we were doing, this creation work, all these things. I think the maturity as well comes in, you learn to listen to the silence, first of all, you bask in that silence, you let it show to you because when you’re lacking purpose, what you’re really saying is, “I need something more. I need to be working towards something to improve this state that I’m in.” There’s something here in the now that needs to be looked at, not there. Even if it’s a residual resistance, the subtle self that’s going on, this can really be seen in a bit more of a delicate way, the slight inquiry sometimes, where is this self? The realisation that – because purpose belongs to a character. If you’re identifying with a separate self, you’re identifying with a purpose, you’re identifying someone on a timeline moving somewhere. So I think what I just want to point to is the subtlety of the later stages of this no man’s land. Sometimes emotional work can still be there, but even that can be let go of. I really love just sitting in silence because then what will happen is the mind goes, “I need something in order to gain my purpose or get something better,” and then what you’ve got to do is get used to not knowing, get used to that sweet spot of not needing an answer, not needing to get somewhere in an agenda, and something unfolds in that unknowing, I would recommend in that no man’s land.
RICK: Yeah, I don’t really know the nature of his practice, but I wonder what he’s doing with his time. If he’s just sitting and watching television all day or something, maybe if you didn’t allow yourself to indulge in something meaningless like that, some purpose would arise. Okay, now what can I do that’s constructive here? Maybe I should go to school, or maybe I should do this creative endeavour that I’ve always thought I wanted to do if I’d had time. There could be something. Because I think that–I mean, there are people who are naturally inclined to be monks and recluses and, like you say, sit in a cave, but most of us are not wired that way. I think that there’s a–I don’t see what you have to say about this, but there’s a phrase that goes, “Brahman is the charioteer,” meaning cosmic intelligence is driving your chariot. There’s a transitionary phase that a lot of us go through where we’re used to being in the driver’s seat, and somehow or other there’s got to be this shift where Brahman is the driver. It can be a little awkward in the transition. It’s like one can lose a sense of purpose, one can go with the flow so much that one isn’t taking any initiative and is becoming wishy-washy and allowing oneself to be just driven around by the winds. You know what I mean? Have you ever gone through anything like that?
MATT: Yes. It’s like that transition phase, whereas before it’s almost less suffering in the case of I’ve got a purpose. You’re moving towards it, and you see so many people that are striving. You see, like, the sportsmen usually, and then they reach the end of the career, and they have to give that up, and there’s the grief of losing this purpose, this drive. I think you sensed into that, and I would add the most peace I’ve ever found is giving up purpose, giving up meaning, not even having to somehow practice to then find this more aligned higher purpose, but a whole different paradigm, dimension of prior to purpose. I’ll go back to it again. The meaning belongs to the character, the character that doesn’t exist, the character that’s moving along this enlightenment history line of going up and up, close to enlightenment, and now my purpose is going to be there. So what I think the character is doing in this moment, he or she is in the transition phase of not having purpose because the ones that did before have dropped away, I feel, because he sees through the separate self or the meaningless of that meaning, if that makes sense, and now it’s like grasping at something else to have purpose. But I find the peace is when I let go of even purpose because, like we say, it’s a subtle resistance that happens. We have a subtle momentum of needing something in order to get towards, but you can really orient towards it until you can now sit on a park bench. Of course, career-wise, it’s all play, it’s all creativity, it’s all these things, but I could happily stare at, and I have this whole weekend, stare out at the sea in awe of not needing anything. Purpose can be so heavy. To carry around this purpose, even I’m going to liberate all beings. That’s why I don’t really like my bio there because at the end of it, it said to alleviate suffering for others. It sounds harsh. I will put my videos out there if people need them, but if I could delete my channel in a second, I could delete everything. It’s not about income. I’ll go work in a coffee shop. The reason I think I get quite a lot of comments, which can sometimes be– I think you even sent me that email earlier today of someone really going through a video. I think it was a seven-minute video, and you gave quite a few paragraphs of what you disagreed with, and that’s absolutely fine, but I think sometimes I feel I’ve hit the nail on the head in a way if someone’s really triggered by it because it means if someone feels really strongly by it, sometimes it means there’s something–and I’ll always hold my hand up if I’m wrong, and I’ll look at it and I’ll think, “What’s being said here?” Sometimes, more often than not, if someone’s really triggered, it means that the message is quite direct, and it’s pointing to something they don’t want to look at. If I was to be really direct, I’d say, “Go beyond purpose. Go beyond meaning.” But if I was to–if you’re in a state of absolute depression, like, “Look, no, there is something to look at.” On each level, it’s not wrong. It’s just this will help the person more if I tell them, “Go back into the emotion, the feeling of purposes. Can you feel that out fully?” You can kind of compassionately work away, or if you go all the way, you could just say, “There’s no truth. There’s no self or this thing.” But there’s a skill to that. But I really think the freedom in this is found just prior to meaning, just prior to purpose, beyond the character, I think.
RICK: Yeah. You mentioned Park Bench earlier in this response, and of course that brings up Eckhart Tolle, who, after his awakening, pretty much sat on a park bench for a couple of years. And then I think somebody started talking to him, and he started explaining things to this person, and he found that this knowledge was kind of flowing through him. And one thing led to the next, and now he’s written all these books and traveled the world. And of course his purpose is spiritual teacher, and that’s not going to be everybody’s purpose. But I think maybe sometimes we do need a period of hiatus where we just put it in neutral for a while. And if we’ve been pushing ourselves in a certain way, okay, let’s relax and let everything settle down. But eventually some kind of momentum is likely to start up again, and maybe we’ll go off in a completely different direction than we were going in before. And it’s good that you give yourself this little period of rest, but it’s not going to last your whole life, or it shouldn’t.
MATT: Yeah. I’m interested to hear your view on this, that the mentum can come back, but without purpose. I think the mentum can go in a way that it unfolds, and at any moment you don’t know where it’s going to take, even the purpose. If the teachings wanted to just stop and no one would listen to the channel anymore, that’s fine as well. It’s more that it doesn’t care about purpose. The truth now just moves its own way. And for me to put a purpose on something would be giving it an agenda or limiting it to my personal purpose. But I’ve seen so much freedom in allowing this to just take whatever it wants, even if it kills me. I think this body of mine, that’s the extent you need to go. Let it completely take away with no agenda.
RICK: I think in what you just said, you’re associating the word “purpose” with attachment a little bit. You know, like I have this mission in life and I’m attached to it, and I’ll be unhappy if I can’t do it. I think there can also be purpose without attachment, that one can be highly motivated and dynamic in doing a certain thing, but if for some reason that has to stop, then okay. In fact, I wish I could find it. It would take me too long to find, but I read this great quote from the Tao Te Ching this morning about just not being attached, basically. Just if something is taken away or you’re no longer doing something, okay, that’s over, on to the next thing, without any remorse or longing or regret or anything like that. Just basically living in the now, you could say.
MATT: What’s wrong with what you’re talking about was, like you say, the difference between attachment and purpose. I always think litmus tests are really good, a quick checking in. When you’re ever making an apparent decision or these things, and it’s always, you know, am I making this decision on the behalf of a separate self? Is this moving from a place of fear? Am I moving with the whole here? Is this something moving through me? I even remember in the post-raping phase even to this day, it’s constantly clarifying. For example, coming here this week, obviously I live in London and I got the opportunity to visit back home my family, live in New Zealand. Sometimes I go to a certain location to get away from life, you know, these things, and you think, am I doing this through fear or aversion? But this week, for example, it’s so nice to get out of the city and it feels like this is just what was right. Some decisions, there’s no fear there, there’s no attachment there, things just flow without an agenda to suit a separate self. The litmus test is just a constant questioning and inquiring into am I moving with truth? Am I moving with authenticity? Like you say, let’s go meet in the middle. I completely agree, purpose could be there. Maybe the purpose of the universe, just non-personal purpose, is what truth.
RICK: Yeah. And there have been all kinds of saints and sages throughout history who have, from the outside, appeared to have had tremendous purpose. They’re driven, they’re accomplishing great things and overcoming great obstacles. Like Mahatma Gandhi, for instance. I mean, he basically overthrew the British, and yet he had this sort of simplicity about him and innocence and surrendered to the wisdom of God, if you want to call it that. So I guess what we’re doing here, perhaps, is dispelling the stereotype of an enlightened person as being just the guy on the mountaintop sitting in Lotus. A person can be very involved in the world and have all kinds of purposes and responsibilities and so on. And not only is that not incompatible with enlightenment, or if I can use that word, but it’s actually enhanced by enlightenment or an awakened state. It gives one greater resources for doing whatever purpose one is called to do.
MATT: Yes, and the key word there is surrender, like you said. Complete surrender. And bringing back to what might help people is, if you ever get confused about what to do, where to go, just orient towards either inquiry or surrender. Those two are the sharpest tools you’ll have in your non-personal box of spiritual toolbox. If you either question a belief or you release resistance, either of those things will help. The belief really, that goes to the roots. These beliefs that we hold, we carry around. I truly think if someone’s honest enough and they allow us, they hold space for us enough, you’re in a constant state of surrender anyway. People say, “I can’t surrender.” Every time you put your foot on the pavement, you’re giving faith that your leg’s not going to buckle. Every time you step on a bus, you don’t know if this guy’s suicidal. He could just crash. I don’t want to cause any fear here, but I’m showing how much you trust life already. Just trust it inwardly. Trust that nothing needs to change, nothing needs to be done in a way that’s by you. The only thing that needs to be done is something to be looked at or let go of. That’s all. You bring it back to this, like you say, you use the word surrender, this marriage between inquiry where you can do something and surrender where you can’t do something. In the middle of there, it’s just that magic place where the bottom’s out.
RICK: Yeah, it reminds me of that alcoholics thing, that thing that, “Grant me the wisdom to change the thing I can change, accept the things I can’t change, and the wisdom to know the difference,” or something. I’m sort of slaughtering it, but something along those lines.
MATT: That’s probably exactly the same thing in non-spiritual terms, in a way. Even that’s very spiritual.
RICK: It is. It’s a spiritual thing. AA is a very spiritual organization.
RICK: But what are we saying here? Anyway, I guess we made that point. Okay. One thing you were just saying that I found interesting is, it sounds like, in your experience, self-inquiry or discernment or whatever you’re calling it is an ongoing process. It’s almost like second nature now. How would you put it? It’s not something you got over with and awakening happened, I don’t need to do that anymore, but it’s kind of the way you roll all the time.
MATT: Yeah, it transforms from – I think this is the case in a lot of people – it starts off quite clunky, especially in the Western world. We are open to Ramana Maharshi and all of these distorted, translated ways. We try and work out what is this self-inquiry. There’s a lot of great pointers even in the West for self-inquiry. We ask, “Who am I?” The first time to ever look to this person that’s even trying to do all these things, get happier, become enlightened, all these things. It’s quite clunky. It’s quite intellectual. It’s like, “I’m not my name. I’m not my face. What did my face look like before I was born? Where am I located in the body?” All of these things which kind of – we’re a very tight ball, and we’re kind of picking away the threads which kind of unravel the ball slightly. Let’s use the metaphor of a wall. I like poking the bricks out of the wall. My physicality – I can’t even locate myself in the body. So that’s kind of making the wall of the ego a bit brittle. These are the top ones. You can do it for every label you’ve ever been given. I could change my name to Rick Archer, and suddenly – and you could change your name to Matt Garrett. That shows the fragility of all these labels on us. I could shave my head. People are changing their gender. There’s so much fragility of our labels. So you go deep and deep to the core, and then it’s like kind of non-physical, the thoughts, the subtle self. Whenever you have a thought of the future or the past, remember there’s a self in the middle. I physically can’t have a thought without there being a character in the middle, like a Matt Garrett or a Rick. I can’t have a thought without yours would be like a Rick in the middle doing a podcast tomorrow. The self-inquiry became so intense, and I would say more radical. It was constant inquiry. It went even deeper to the just subject/object, just trying to find the subject. Even when I used to see the visual field, I see colors. Okay, does that imply a subject? I know colors, but does that imply there’s a color visual field where I couldn’t find one? Hearing, it was more transparent. There was no subject in this. I’m just getting to the point where inquiry then– this was still within an agenda. I was doing it with the hope of finding enlightenment. I only find insights in this when I let go of the agenda. But what inquiry transforms into is you’re inquiring out of interest. You’re inquiring–of course, when suffering’s there, it’s sometimes the best time to inquire because this is where the self really goes. You try and find this self that’s really, really suffering, and you just can’t find it. It loosens and loosens to the point where, like you say, the seeking’s gone, but what the momentum of the previous conditionings was, was this momentum of behaving like a self, even though my intellect knew who I was or what I knew I was, was beyond all of that. This is where I think suffering can become really intense because you know you’re not behaving in the right way. You can’t blame anyone. You know this is all your own doing to an extent. The inquiry basically became subtler and subtler. It was the “I am” sentence. It was the experiencer of these no-self things. Like you say, now it’s endless. Anyone that says there’s an end, I am quite suspicious about because it’s as if they’ve achieved something. But to me, you can never clarify this enough. With the balance of not becoming too personal will and getting that revved up, you can always clarify. Life becomes so mysterious because I know so much less now. I’ve unlearned things. I know very little. And it’s scary to me at the start because I was like, this was everything I needed to know. And I let go of the knowledge. And even now I’m speaking, I don’t really know what I’m talking about, but it resonates. Something resonates beyond the language. And that’s where I think I get the best conversation with people when I don’t know what I’m talking about, but something moves through, this knowing, this knowledge that’s being let go of. I don’t know who I am. I don’t know all of these things. And it’s very difficult sometimes to talk about that with someone that’s into a particular thing they know a lot about, can speak about, but this is the end of knowledge. And because I think you can move into this place of living and not knowing, surrender, it’s like you then know the truth because the mind doesn’t need to take up all that silence with noise. So the inquiry, like you say, becomes more subtle and subtle and without agenda, and that’s how it transforms.
RICK: Yeah, this thing about, you know, you said about somebody who thinks that they’ve reached the end of it all or something. There was a St. Teresa of Avila said, “It appears that the Lord himself is on the journey.”
MATT: Yeah. You’re coming out with some great quotes. I need to look all these up after.
RICK: Yeah. Did you–you know, you have this deep self-inquiry thing going on. Did that just sort of happen spontaneously when you were younger? It just started happening, and then that led you to reading Ramana books and other things which gave more of a definition to it? Or did you start reading these books and get the idea to do the self-inquiry? Which is the cart and which is the horse?
MATT: Yeah, so this is kind of going more into the personal story, which I think can provide a lot of help with people for context, because I especially remember listening to others thinking, “Oh, I resonate with that, and nothing I’m doing here is wrong.” So maybe I should have talked about this at the start, but it was just actually intense emotional work for a good period of time where, like I did with Inquire, I can’t not take things to the edge. Like, with emotional work, it got to the point where it’s actually damaging the journey because I became so attached to the emotional work.
RICK: Emotional work meaning like you were actually working with a therapist or just doing it on your own?
MATT: I had one practice, and that was to sit in a silent room or whatever, anywhere you were, just quietly, even starting off in my house because I needed that retreat, and just to allow whatever was in the body to be there without trying to change it, manipulate it, even practice out of it, basically die into it. And this is when I got–I hate creating all this candy for the mind, but I got kundalini energy which just bolted up through my spine and just seemed like this energy and had this like– all these crazy revelations which now looking back, it was good that I never got sidetracked into them because this is where people can set up camp. So with all of this emotional work, what I realize now was it was almost a form of inquiry because these layers of emotion were seen to be layers of identity, layers of contraction. They weren’t just emotional work and then inquiry. I was doing the tantric approach first for day and night. I remember one time I racked up like 10 hours of just sitting with it. And at that point, I knew–
RICK: So this sitting and letting whatever happens, that you call that tantric work.
MATT: I’d call it–yeah, I think it’s tantric. This is the thing I don’t read about. If you do–it was just one practice. I think David Hawkins had a single technique of just get as close as you can to wherever it feels this resistance is and just to die into it, let it stay. What I found was all these little residual–they’re like traumas that I pushed down. Even lifetimes ago, especially in childhood, they were coming up and these– it was an intense period of time and then deep, deep lows and then massive highs and all of this coming up. And one day, I was riding my bike and I knew deep down, I think what the grief that was coming was that this technique wasn’t going to be the truth. I had to let go of the technique and the grief in that because it is something about dying away. I knew–I just started saying “I” in my head. I was cycling about–I had a flat tire, so I was really going against it. So there was that. I was fed up. I think that really added to the surrender, but I was going, “I, I, I.” There’s something about “I” because I remember Ramana Maharshi video and I clicked off it because it probably made me try and look at something I needed to look at. And I was going deep and deep into the sense of “I.” And I sat down under a cathedral and I opened up this video of Ramana Maharshi and I knew every word he was saying–I know it wasn’t him saying it, it was like a translation of an English guy just reading out what he’d said– was, “Look for the self,” or, “Investigate the self, and that is all.” And I rode home that day and I think, as the mind does, it wants to watch videos. I remember coming across Rupesh Vara that day. I remember coming across all these great teachers that were looking for the “I” and I thought, “I’ve never looked around before and looked for the one that’s even doing emotional work.” And that sparked a good amount of time to just inquire into the self. And I became so interested in the self. I was suffering a lot, but I think I had this slight, “Aha, I can go through this. I don’t have to go around it with emotional work or this stuff.” And I took that to the edge, like you said, and that’s when we go back to how we used to talk about without even weaning off into integration.
RICK: That’s very interesting. You were just–I mean, you referred to past lives a number of times today, and I ascribe to that notion as well. I think we reincarnate, and you definitely seem to me like one of those people who have been on a spiritual path for many lives, and when you came into this one, it just sort of kicked in again. Speaking of the Gita again, Arjuna asked Krishna, “Well, what happens if a person is on the path and he doesn’t make it and he dies? Does he not perish like a broken cloud?” And Krishna basically just said, “Well, no, he hangs out in heaven for a while, then he comes back and picks it up where he left off.”
MATT: I’ve spoken to a lot of people, and there’s nothing really special. Obviously, we’re all the same source. It’s literally if you sense something, but it doesn’t correlate with your memory of this body-mind, I’ve usually associated that with something previous to the body. Something like a resonation, something that resonates, but even an energetic movement. I think I’ve sometimes–people, everyone’s said it, it’s not just me, people have talked about it. Sometimes you feel something, and the feeling is as if it’s impersonal. It doesn’t even belong to you. It’s like you’re feeling that part of humanity. So for example, in the masculine, we have definitely in males, even in the Western world, we have certain–we’ve all got our own little stories of why we suffer, of course, personal to them. But with males, for example, I think there’s a lot of suffering in generalization, but in needing to be an alpha male at times. We’re taught we do these things, that kind of aspect. With women, not to generalize, also have some which they can all relate to. We’re all feeling out something that’s quite impersonal at times, whether it’s your lifetime, whether it’s just this part, the shadow work, I’m not sure, but I think there’s something to really say about you start to realize this suffering doesn’t even belong to me. It’s almost as if you’re having to go through it for something that’s bigger. It’s not even yours, and never mind past lives where the body and mind don’t match up, so the memories don’t make sense. But you just energetically feel like, of course, the apple dropped from the tree for me young, and now it’s just a radical honesty with oneself to really feel this through until it permeates all aspects of experience, and you live life just oriented towards truth.
RICK: Interesting. I was a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi for many years, and he used to speak of all the accumulated stuff in our nervous system as stress. That was the English word he used. I think the Sanskrit equivalent would be samskaras. But anyway, someone asked him, “Well, what would happen if we managed to release or resolve all of our stress and didn’t have any anymore?” And he said, “Then you start working on cosmic stress,” meaning, I think, the stresses of the world, the stresses of society. You become a washing machine for that. The number of people I’ve interviewed have said that. They feel like they can feel like they’re processing things that people are going through all over the world. They’re acting as a purificatory mechanism or something for stuff that’s in the collective consciousness.
MATT: Yeah. I mean, try sitting with anyone post-awakening and trying not to feel what they’re feeling. You just feel it, and there’s no “I’m feeling” or “You’re feeling it.” There’s just karmic energy that needs to be released. There’s something in that that’s beautiful because then you realize– I remember an insight quite late on was, “This isn’t even my story. This isn’t even my suffering, me.” This is like the universe waking up to itself, just in my little corner of the universe if we go back to space and time. But it’s not even mine. It’s like the universe, like you say, there’s something really resonating here about you lose the– because it’s so juicy, isn’t it? All our little stories of, “This is why I’m suffering,” and we all have our own. Maybe–unless you’ve seen a therapist or someone else–not you, but if anyone’s not seen a therapist, then maybe they’ve never even talked about them before. But we all have them, our little juicy stories that we like to cling to and say why we suffer. But to resonate–to orient towards truth is to really give these up as well. And that’s sometimes so hard because it’s so nice and comfortable and warm to feel why I’m suffering, why I can’t– because of this, I can’t wake up, or because of that. And that’s what surrender to an extent is. Like you say, you bottom out to your personal suffering. And now sometimes you just feel this general heartbreak for humanity. You feel this grief like we’re all losing ourselves. And in losing ourselves, we’re going back to source. But to get back to–or to reveal source as who we truly are requires a tremendous amount of surrender. And now this doesn’t even feel like this is my suffering. This is just–I’m feeling this on behalf of humanity here. And it’s crushing. It’s difficult.
RICK: Yeah, no, that’s beautiful. We expand our territory of influence, we could say. I think it’s a natural human tendency to do that. And there certainly is a lot of suffering in the world that needs healing. And I’ve always had this orientation about spirituality that, in a way, it’s the hope of the world, because without it, we’re never going to sort everything out just with surface-level solutions. There needs to be a change in consciousness, really, for the world to be changed. And so I find great hope in the fact that people like yourself and many other people around the world are just having these awakenings. And you don’t see it on the evening news. And if you didn’t realize that this whole dimension exists, it would be easy to become pessimistic. But I think that the fact that this whole network of people around the world is waking up could very well be the thing that saves humanity.
MATT: Yeah, as you were talking, that made me think of the word “responsibility.” You can look at the word “responsibility” in your own personal journey of things, and also responsibility for why are we doing this. And, of course, if we are to be really pretty honest, it usually is fueled by suffering. And no matter how–of course, there’s good people out there that will do it in order to make you better than someone else. But I think the best way you can help others is to really work on your own realization. Because when you’re–for example, for me to go into my realization, or Angelo to go into his realization, he didn’t try and help me. He went into his own realization, flowered his realization, and through his realization sparked something in me. Or, you know, we don’t want to call it cause and effect, but it was his own– it’s when people wake up themselves that has this ripple effect. It’s less about this, “I’m going to go and help these people,” because once you do that, personal agenda, personal will, all comes back. And it just takes up the room of what reality was trying to do there.
RICK: Yeah, I mean, look at some of these people that think, “Okay, we’re going to send missionaries to Africa and save these poor heathens, and turn them onto Jesus or whatever.” And yet those people themselves haven’t had any real genuine spiritual awakening. So, you know, obviously– It’s premature. Yeah, it’s premature. That’s the word I was looking for. And which is–there’s a flip side to everything. And there are people who think, “To hell with you. I’m working on my own realization, so you can just go to hell. I’m not interested in you. Get out of my way.” It can become a selfish thing, and I’ve seen that. But again, there’s always a balance.
MATT: Yeah. Let me start again. Am I acting from fear or am I acting through love? And there’s something you said there that I really want to go into.
RICK: Just now?
MATT: Yeah, just then, when you talk about the missionaries. It’s the thing with suffering, because I think we project this kind of saviour complex sometimes, where we want to help these people. But sometimes it’s their suffering which is going to wake them up. For us to try and get away from our own thing, to go and help these people– not to the extent of the African. Let’s say it’s someone that’s just spiritually suffering. They’re your friend or something. And sometimes we can take the saviour complex that I need to help them. In trying to just do it by forcing something on them, like non-duality or this or that, I think, one, it’s an aversion from sitting on your own and working on your own self. And if you really were to realise this deeply, it would flower that what they’re going through is exactly needed for them. I’ve only ever had insights through deep suffering. And there’s an extent to–yes, you can help people on a practical level. But sometimes I’ve found to tell someone to just sit with it–I’m not going to help– but sit with the silence and see what unfolds if you don’t get help. Like you said, the balance of that. On one hand, we need people to take responsibility for their own awakening. And I think that’s what I’ve seen on the brutal side of things. And this isn’t to do with the African or the relative level of helping. This is to do with being careful of how much suffering you try and take away from someone.
RICK: Yeah, there’s that. I think that groups like Doctors Without Borders or people that go and help people build solar-powered wells in villages where the women have to walk 20 miles a day with a bucket on their head, and now they can get local water. All that kind of stuff is great. And there should be more of it. But I think a lot of the times the motivation for going in to sort of “save the heathens” is very egocentric. I mean, there’s been so much violence and brutality in the name of that throughout history with all the colonization that happened around the world. And even now, I think a lot of times the tendency to want to get everyone to believe what you believe is a symptom of your own doubt and insecurity. And it somehow helps to reinforce one’s self-confidence if you can get everybody else to buy into your particular trip. But there’s a case of actually really needing to look within and not going out and trying to impose your beliefs on others.
MATT: Yeah, there’s two words you said there. You said reinforce self-confidence, but I would go, like you said, reinforce self. If you’re going out with your projections, your needs, you’re just solidifying the self that’s being this hero saving someone. You’re running from the truth that you’re nothing. Because to be able to help someone, you’re then creating this self-image of a savior or someone that can do something as substance to you that you’re going out and doing this thing. And I would completely agree on the relative level of Africa, people that are in poverty, there’s that. But I’m talking purely on the spiritual level or purely on the level of mind and suffering, psychological suffering. If I were to think about it, it would be if I could actually make myself believe illusion even more and feel I need to go and help the South of England wake up or London and start a meditation center. These are all great things to do when done with the right purpose, motivation. But I can do that as an aversion to having to sit in silence and sit with what I’m running from. Because as soon as I have these always big plans to help London or something, I’m now back into mind, back into getting away from that. And I’ve seen just sitting in realization, I’ve reached people through my YouTube channel where I upload a video and it goes whatever. And very little effort on my part. But the most effort I put in is just tackling that which needs to be seen in the deepest, darkest places of my mind. And it’s the worst thing I ever wanted to do to start with. Then you start to realize looking and illuminating these dark places of your mind and seeing the self that appears in all these stories, it starts off being the most painful thing. But then you realize it’s the most relief because this is where all the suffering was tightly in a ball. And that’s when it expands or dissolves.
RICK: I mean, recently the Pope went to Canada to apologize to the indigenous people because in the last 150 years or so, or whatever the time span was, the children were taken away from the families and put in these Catholic boarding schools. And to have their native culture stripped away from them, shave their heads, force them to speak English, all kinds of stuff like that. And then they ended up getting sexually abused and physically abused and a lot of them died. I mean, so it’s a complete disaster where people who thought they were righteous were just doing tremendous harm. And I guess this is a little bit apart from our general conversation, but I don’t know, for some reason it’s coming up. And I think that one always has to make it one’s first priority to know the self, to purify oneself before trying to help other people. If you want to be a lifeguard, learn how to swim before you start trying to save people from drowning.
MATT: Yeah, I think that’s the best metaphor for it. And also the thing with the Pope is this increase in consciousness has allowed, it’s almost like there’s more awareness now to see what’s been happening. And it takes a tremendous amount of self-honesty to go and apologize. And this is what comes down to is honesty, not just with others. There’s no more blame anymore for anyone else. This is what’s horrible, really, because it’s so nice to be able to blame certain people and even guilt. There’s a slight residual resistance and these things, and you do have to be so honest to take full responsibility for your own awakening. But yes, on a relative level, people can harm the body, these things, words. And there’s a lot of trauma out there, which is unfortunate for certain people. But to an extent, for the real psychological roots of suffering, it is all our own doing, but it’s all our own play. We’ve just lost track of who we really are in this big play. And this is what I’m just, all I’m interested in, all I’m interested in is that root of suffering, because people can take it out. And then, you know, we talked about with all these different spiritual stuff, where there’s all these branches of spirituality, you can train all day, but it will just grow back if the root’s still there. And if you don’t take the root out, and even when the root seems to be taken out, there’s still this momentum of the root growing back, and you just need to die into that and make it your life’s orientation.
RICK: Very good. That’s a good concluding point. And I know we’d better wrap it up, because you have to leave in about five minutes or someplace. So I looked at your website, and there is a simple website, not a lot on it, but you do have quite a bit on your YouTube channel, and I’ll link to both of those from your BatGap page. But on your website, you also have a little thing where a person can have a personal conversation with you or something. So I don’t know how much time you have for that kind of thing, but do you do many of those? If people want to get in touch, they can do that?
MATT: Yes, I’m obviously my full-time job in film, so that’s what I do. But when anyone is ever interested, I do get quite a lot of those submissions. I just set aside Fridays, usually, for them, or it would be on Thursday if people want to talk with me. I’m always open to chat and email as well, just in case you just want to speak. So if you want a session, yeah, Fridays, but my email’s through my website, so we’re there if you need to chat.
RICK: Okay. Do you take a donation or a fee for that or what?
MATT: Yes, so the first session is completely free, because I give up a day of working.
RICK: Yeah, you only have so much time, right?
MATT: Yeah, so there’s a fee, but obviously, full refundable. But I’ve always found these conversations to be so – on my end as well, I learn so much. So it’s great, and you meet people. I’ve met so many people through it that I resonate with, and we keep in touch, and I absolutely love it. So, yeah, Fridays, I set aside for that.
RICK: Great. All right. Well, thanks so much, Matt. It’s really been great talking with you and getting to know you, and I hope we stay in touch and see each other in the future, maybe even in person someplace. If I ever get over to the UK, I’ll definitely get in touch.
MATT: Yeah, that’s one thing I was going to say, because I think at some point we’ll come to America again, just because Dr. mentioned doing a moment on consciousness. It would be so cool to – America’s a hotbed for everyone I want to interview and stuff.
RICK: Yeah, well, I can help you get in touch with people.
MATT: That would be really helpful. Thank you, Rick.
RICK: Yeah, good. Okay, well, thanks a lot, and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. And as I mentioned, next week I’ll be interviewing Jessica Nathanson. She lives in Israel, although she’s from my home state of Connecticut. We used to actually ski at the same ski area, although we never ran into each other, either literally or figuratively. But I think it’s going to be a really interesting interview, and I hope you stay tuned for that. If you’d like to be notified of future interviews, on the Upcoming Interviews page, there’s a little thing in the right-hand column where you can click and put it into your calendar to be notified of the live ones. And then the permanent ones, we send a newsletter out, email out, when I post each one. So if you’d like to get that and be notified, sign up for the email list. There’s a place on BatGap to do that. And subscribe to the YouTube channel if you like. Anyway, if you go to BatGap and explore the menus, you’ll find a bunch of different things that you might find interesting that I don’t have time to tell you about here. But just check out the website, look at the different menus. All right, thanks. I’ll see you for the next one. Thanks, Matt.
MATT: Cheers. Thank you.
RICK: All right, have a good whatever you’re going to do.
MATT: I will. Enjoy the rest of your day. Very nice to speak to you.
RICK: Yeah, good to speak to you. Take care.
MATT: Thanks, guys. Bye-bye.