Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. This show is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awake or Awakening people to check out the hundreds of interviews already done, and other various other things on the site, go to batgap.com. There’s a Donate button there if you’d like to support our efforts. My guest today is Peter Fenner. I’ve had the pleasure of listening to Peters book radiant mind for the last week, and got through pretty much the whole thing. And it’s funny Peter, as as I’ll explain who you are in a minute, but it’s funny, as I was listening to the book, I really felt like we were brothers from another mother in a sense, because I don’t know if you’ve heard that expression. But I felt such a resonance with everything you were saying. Didn’t really have much disagree with which doesn’t always happen. Sometimes I listen to teachers read their books, I’m a little critical as I think that points a little off or whatever, to my own understanding. But I just felt a lot of resonance with what you’re saying. And it’s ironic in a way because we come from very different traditions, you know, you’re from a Buddhist tradition, I’m have more of a Hindu tradition background, although I don’t know if you consider yourself a Buddhist, but I don’t consider myself a Hindu. But in any case, you know, you I could have written the book myself, in a sense if I were as good a writer because of what you’re saying. And just about everything you said, for me was like a springboard to an interesting discussion. But for the most part, I was, in fact, not at all was I taking notes, I was cutting the grass, riding my bicycle, doing all the things I usually do. And that’s how I managed to listen to all this stuff. But I have a feeling that we’re just gonna hit it off and have a great conversation and, you know, cover all kinds of ground. And as we’ve been doing recently, this is a Colin, not calling it’s live stream show. And if people listening live, go to the upcoming interviews page under future interviews on batgap.com. And then scroll down, they’ll see a forum where they can submit questions that I will probably ask during the interview. So let me just backtrack a little bit and read a little bit of your bio here. So Peter is he’s in Australia at the moment as we speak. He’s a leader in the western adaptation of Buddhist Wisdom is a pioneer in the new field of non dual psychotherapy. He was a celibate monk in the Tibet in the Tibetan Buddhist traditions for nine years. He has a PhD in the philosophical psychology and Mahayana Buddhism, and has held teaching positions at universities in Australia and the US, has taught workshops at Naropa Institute, excuse me, European University, the California Institute for integral studies, Omega Institute and other centers, and given invited presentations at JFK University, Saybrook college Stanford Medical School, Columbia University and internationally. I just read this one last paragraph Peters way of teaching is known for its dynamic and engaging deconstruction of all fixed frames of reference, that block entry to unconditioned awareness. And for the purity and depth of natural uncontrived silence that emerges in his work. He also has unique capacity for sharing the skills and states of his transmission in a way that others can easily understand and begin to replicate in the non dual transmission. And if I had to summarize you, Peter, I would say having listened to that book, and also some other interviews and stuff you did, that, I found that there was a great deal of honesty. And I guess I could use the word practicality, but there’s something realistic about the way you talk about spirituality. A lot of times people I feel, have failed to distinguish between intellectual understanding and direct experience and they end up getting, you know, immersing themselves in books and teachings and, and getting very conversant with an intellectual understanding. But then beginning to espouse that and, you know, talk about it on perhaps even as a teacher, on chat groups and so on, but they don’t realize that what they are really alluding to, with their understanding is an experience that can be quite profoundly different and more rich than any sort of intellectual understanding could be. And I really got the sense as I was listening to you that you had a realistic understanding of that distinction. and also a realistic appreciation of the vast range of possibilities for human spiritual evolution. You know, a sense that, you know, it can really go very far, far more than many people realize. So I, those are two points that resonate with me a lot.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, I appreciate that introduction Rick very much. Thank you.
Rick Archer: Sure.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, well, the realism for me, is pretty important. And I mean, the way to be realistic is just to watch how we are evolving ourselves. And, like, take this as the benchmark, but not being seduced by other people’s stories, other people’s paths, not by the literature, which a lot of it. I mean, people are living into ideals and fantasies, I think, if we accept that, that we have that capacity to fantasize, I mean, we think it would be just so great if we could achieve that state of beyond suffering as quickly as possible. And so many people that I share with in different ways they’re asking, Is that, is that possible? In that in this life? You know, can I really achieve that? And, you know, maybe, maybe not. But historically, it was still a pretty rare occurrence to achieve in this life. That state of just being in bliss, consciousness, no matter what’s happening, because life can throw out a son in many difficult different and difficult situations. So as Yeah,
Rick Archer: yeah, I mean, I have kind of what I might call the crucifixion test. I mean, it’s easy to be in bliss consciousness under ideal circumstances, perhaps. But what if you were to find yourself in Christ’s circumstances what, you know, did he remain in bliss consciousness? I would like to think he actually did given the maturity of his spiritual evolution, but I don’t know. You know, and that might seem totally contradictory. Because how could somebody be in bliss consciousness when they’re being crucified? But perhaps you can, you can probably answer that question and elaborate a little bit on what we mean by bliss consciousness. But in your own case, I know you were talking about when you had a ruptured disc in your spine or something, and you were in excruciating pain. And, you know, you readily admitted that there was no question of bliss consciousness at that point, you know, pretty much Blotto by by the pain. And you had people saying to you, Oh, Peter, you know, that there’s no person to whom this is happening. And, you know, that’s not very helpful advice under such circumstances. So we kind of have to be realistic with whatever actual stage of development we may have reached.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, exactly. How I see it is that when we’ve got an opportunity to do the profound work of resting in pure awareness, which sometimes is bliss, consciousness, that’s interesting. I for me, it’s not always accompanied by sauceless bliss. Sometimes it’s there. Like it’s, it’s you saying, Well, what name can I put on this something is happening. And this sometimes really subtle, like, affective dimension? Well, the only word I can put on it is bliss. But it’s not what I call somatic bliss, because it’s not coming from a source. If I say, okay, so where’s the source of it? It’s not coming from, like some exquisite music. It’s not by being touched in a particular way. It’s just does not have a source the same as non jewel awareness. Where is it coming from? Nowhere in everywhere. So when we have that opportunity, yeah, we just take it for me. That’s the practice that when it arises, just enjoying it in a way, even though it’s unconditioned. We’re conditioning the mind streams conditioned, we’re conditioning ourselves to have more of this. Sure. Yeah. So that’s the big thing. And then when it’s not here, it’s not here, and we can appreciate that. It’s this really weird thing that we can’t lose it because there’s nothing to lose. We can even think that sometimes that takes us straight back into it. What is it that I’ve lost? Oh, wow. Yeah, he can’t lose this. And then we’re back here. Sometimes we think that thought and it doesn’t sort of dig deep enough. We think ah, but you can’t lose this, but it doesn’t get into it because the conditioning has got its own power. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Some people don’t like the talk of progressive stages of development of blue Sir, anything else? You know, they say, Well, you know, reality is what it is how can how can it be progressive, but I would respond that, you know, it is what it is fine, but our experience of it, it can be quite a different matter. And that can be progressive that can evolve and mature and develop, and so on, would need to integrate that.
Peter Fenner: Yeah. So, for example, if you take something like depth, which is a dimension of unconditioned awareness that I talk about, when we’re here, there’s no depth to it, that there’s no directionality. There’s no superficiality, there’s no depth, we can’t like dig into it more, because it’s non dual. So it’s beyond those dualistic structures. But there is a sense that we can integrate this, which has no depth more deeply into our condition being. In other words, we can over the you know, let’s say, five or 10 years after working with us, we can be present to difficult circumstances stuff that’s, you know, triggering emotions, physical pain, and it’s not producing a perturbation, we’re still fully richly immersed in this.
Rick Archer: There’s a Vedic metaphor, in which they talk about conditioning. And the, they say that a deeply conditioned nervous system a very kind of deeply, kind of ingrained, habituated nervous system is like stone, and you try to you try to make a mark in the stone, it’s a little hard to make the mark. In other words, experience isn’t very deep. But whatever mark you do make stays in the stone. And then a less conditioned nervous system is more like sand, you can actually make a deeper Mark deeper experience, but it gets washed away a little bit faster. And, you know, a less conditioned nervous system is like water, you know, real deep mark, but it just disappears. And leaves condition is more like air, you know, you can just any depth of impression, and yet there’s no lasting impression. So you hear people talk about and you can elaborate that, you know, they might have some experience and has some deep impact. And a minute later, they’re back to equilibrium.
Peter Fenner: Now, I liked that metaphor, I haven’t heard it before. Yeah, that’s great.
Rick Archer: And wouldn’t you say, I mean, having been a practitioner for probably decades now, whatever you’ve been practicing, that, you know, if you look back five years, 10 years, 15 years, 20 years there, you know, there has been a steady progression in terms of the depth or clarity of your experience, and also the stability of it in terms of it’s not being perturbed bubble.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, for sure. And I think that’s the type of timeframe to look at things in as well, you know, one year, five years, 10 years, 15 years, and so on. Because within that, you know, we can be confronted by stuff that’s happening, death of a loved one, or just stuff that’s, you know, really complex for us to be dealing with. So anything shorter than sort of six months is a bit deceptive. So someone to begin and think, Okay, so like, where am I gonna be in six months? Great. This is the main point is that whatever the experience is, because we’re always building a resource, if we’re working with us, even though life over a shorter, tight time might be more challenging, just because of the circumstances. Yeah. But sure, over that longer term for sure that there’s a stabilizing, I think, particularly a more ready access to this, you don’t have to go through all the complexities, because we’re talking about making the journey from being identified with some conditioning, let’s say caught up in some conditioning, attraction and aversion through to here. And we’re talking about making the journey 1000s and 1000s of times, over decades, that’s how it happens. 1000s of times we make it, we go to a teaching, and you’re in and out of it, maybe 20 3040 times, you know, resting in it for five minutes, then caught up caught up in some belief system and then returning to it. So it’s just the more times we’re making the journey, the easier it is and the more automatic and effortless it becomes.
Rick Archer: I’ll give you another metaphor in India, they used to dye cloth and maybe they still do by dipping cloth and colored dye and then taking it out and bleaching it in the sun and it would lose most of its color but to a certain extent it would be retained the color and then they dip it again and then bleach it again and dip it and bleach it and keep doing that until eventually it became colorfast it wouldn’t lose its color, even in the bright side. Unlike no matter how long you left it there, so think it’s just a metaphor to illustrate what you’re just saying. Yeah. And the reason I’m dwelling on this point to start out with is that, you know, as I said, I like the fact that you seem to speak from your own experience, and not just sort of go off into intellectual abstractions that don’t pertain to your experience. And this has been my experience over the decades, you know, the kind of thing, you’re just describing the progressive development, I’m always a little puzzled when I hear people saying, you know, give up the search, or you don’t need to do anything, because you’re already enlightened, and, you know, stuff like that. And I just think they’re just kind of in dreamland. Or maybe they know something. I don’t know. But it doesn’t. That’s not the way my experience has been.
Peter Fenner: Right? Yeah. What happens for me often when people are sharing like that? I think, are you telling me something? Or it seems to me that you’re telling me something? And if you if that’s the intention, you’re telling me something that’s conceptual, it’s content? It’s not what this is, which is non conceptual awareness?
Rick Archer: Yeah. All right. Well, I think we’ve probably clarified that point enough that, you know, what we’re discussing here. And what what spiritually, ality, in general is really all about is non conceptual. The conceptual is kind of like the icing on the cake. And, but the important thing is the actual experience. I mean, you can, you know, you can stand out in the sidewalk and read the menu at a restaurant, and get a concept of what it might be like to eat there. But that’s a far cry from actually going in and eating as far as deriving any kind of enjoyment or nutrition is concerned. Yeah. Good. So, as I said, I really enjoyed your book, radiant mind. And I see someone sent in some questions about it, which I’ll ask, but why don’t you give us a kind of let’s let’s sort of walk us through some of the main points of your book as they come to your mind. And we’ll just kind of stop and discuss these points as we go along.
Peter Fenner: Okay. Well, the book, and what I offer generally, is what sometimes called result, the result level approach. So I sort of assume that at the beginning, that there’s nothing that we need to do, we can be here without needing to do anything. Because this is a causal, it’s not caused this as pure awareness. It’s not the product of anything. So there’s nothing that we have to do or not do to just be here. So like, that’s the beginning assumption. So I come in. And so often, I’ll say, so sort of, why don’t we just begin at the end? Because often, what I find is that if people are attending a workshop, somehow they think they have to do a lot of work. And they can really only get the goodies at the end, do you actually see it? It’s like in the last two or three hours, people’s mindset changes. And they think, Okay, I’ve done enough work now I’d better get what I’m here for. So I say, well, let’s if we sort of start at the end, then we can just do more of this, we can just be in the place where there’s no gap where nothing is missing. So that’s the sort of assumption that’s always there. In the background, that nothing more needs to happen. We don’t have to, there’s no practice that this is not about knowing anything, we can just be here in this state of completion. And we can check it. If we played by, for example, asking you a question like, can I enhance this? Can I make it better? And make what better? No, I mean, there’s nothing here to make better. So just checking that it’s the real, pure, non dual state. So that’s the sort of beginning assumption, and then I go back as much as is necessary to connect with people. It’s like going on a journey with people a little bit by Majan, you know, going for a walk in the mountains. And so you’ve got a group of people, and I sort of know how to get there where the path is and how to do it, how to get to the P. And, and then a lot of the work is working out what I call the gradient. If you’re trying to go up too steeply to being too radical, you lose people. It’s just what is this What is he talking about? This is impossible, I don’t get it. But then if you’re not, if the gradients just flat, you’re wasting people’s time. You’re just engaging in stories and intellectual stuff. like you were talking about. So, radiant mind is just it’s like a broad program. That’s pretty secular in how its presented. So it can appeal to people of no faith or different phase. It people can be beginners, they can be mature practitioners, that really does pick up a lot of different people. And then it just works in as refined a way as possible to produce as much resting in awareness as possible. That’s the name of the game.
Rick Archer: There’s something paradoxical, about what you just said, though, and in a way it might sound like it contradicts what we have just spent the first 15 minutes talking about, which is that, you know, if a person comes, let’s say, to a retreat or any situation, and you know, they are very stressed, very conditioned, you know, kind of all keyed up, been through a lot. And, you know, I mean, to take an extreme example, you know, go into a prison or something. And people have led pretty hellacious lives in many cases, and really seen some and done some tough things. And, you know, do you just say to them, well, this can’t be improved. I mean, this is, this is what it is, and how can it be made any better? You know, seems to me. On the one hand, there is an element to our experience, which is not changing, however, dimly we experienced that, and there are degrees of clarity with which it can be experienced. So that in and of itself can’t be enhanced or improved. But our ability, our appreciation of it, the clarity with which we experience it, and the degree to which we embodiment, can embody, it knows no end of possible. enhancement.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, that’s how I see it. Okay. I mean, if we, for some reason, I think that, oh, that we are infinitely complex and rich. So yeah, there’s no end to the depth to which this can be embodied. But no, that’s an important point that you’re making, you don’t present this to someone when there’s a big disconnection big dis continuity between where they are, because then they would invalidate this priceless state, that the non dual state, so no, what I, in that, like, the type of situation that you’re describing, I would move more in the direction of so yes, like, life is, really has been really stressful, even just a few minutes ago. And maybe in you know, half an hour, it’s gonna like, reconstitute, it’s gonna come back in that stressful way. But right now, we do have, like, 30 minutes, we do have one day, whatever it is together. So let’s like make the optimum opportunity of this time, let’s like really bring to ourselves. It’s like a gift to ourselves a gift to consciousness, what’s the optimum possibility yet all that suffering is happening. So what’s better to just like, bring in something fresh, and peaceful and serene, and open and spacious? Audit, just process all that stuff, just to let all the stories come out? Or we could just start to get into, you know, when this finishes, it’s going to be like, Yeah, we could do that. But then we’re devaluing this, the possibility of this moment, so it’d be introducing it like that rather than? Yeah, with that more radical, non dual language.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So it’s like, you know, if a room is really dark, and maybe there’s some people in the room, you’re talking to them, but you don’t say, All right, let’s analyze this darkness. Let’s talk about the darkness. Let’s dwell on the darkness. You say, Oh, let’s just flick on a light, you know, and then also, in all this darkness, that was such a problem is nowhere to be found. So I think what you’re trying to say is that you do your best to point out to people that even in the midst of, you know, difficult, difficult life, there, there is some still quiet center that can be detected if you stop a moment to detect it, and that that can be cultured and strengthened in one’s experience. I don’t want to put words in your mouth. But that’s what I hear you saying?
Peter Fenner: Yeah. And I think another important point is sort of taking stock of the fact that we will suffer in the future, at least it’s very, very likely that we will, so then we can sort of put that to the side because often people come in I’m wanting to get the thing that will make it impossible to ever suffer in the future. To which we often will just forget that just like just except that is very likely You will. And now what can we do now that we said, okay, that will probably happen? Do I have to be suffering now? Well, no, not necessarily.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And you can kind of get a toehold in that, which is beyond suffering and hope. Hopefully strengthen your stand in that as you go along.
Peter Fenner: Exactly.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Peter Fenner: Yeah.
Rick Archer: Okay, so what would you say that was? That was a good introduction to your book. So what would you say was the next kind of main main point that comes to mind?
Peter Fenner: The main point that’s here for me is that we can’t know this because the two, that’s probably the biggest thing. I mean, in doing the work I’m doing, often I see it as two mountains that we either need to go through, drills through go around, it really doesn’t matter how you do it, see that they’re not there. And they are the mountains of needing to be doing something, what do I need to do to get there? And how do I know it? And so what we’re dissolving those mountains, there’s nothing to know. And nothing to do. So in a sense, radiant mind is dissolving the notion of being on the path. Okay, so then what, yeah, go ahead and confession? Well, then, when we’re not on the path, it’s not like we achieve a goal. But then there’s no more struggle. There’s no way there’s no further step to take.
Rick Archer: Okay, so nothing to do and nothing to know. So let’s pick those apart a little bit. So the first one nothing to do. How do you reconcile that with your own history as a Buddhist practitioner, which you probably did hundreds and 1000s of hours of meditation practice? Was that kind of a non doing and that then that’s how you can kind of say in the, the Oh, yes, I did that. But that same time, there’s nothing to do?
Peter Fenner: Well, the nothing to do that we’re talking about here is not not like doing nothing. It’s it’s really doing the no thing it’s doing, it’s doing this, it doesn’t mean just like giving up. I mean, that’s a misinterpretation that I feel people can extract from some non Jew teachings approaches, that it’s just like you walk away and just whatever he is doing nothing live
Rick Archer: life crack a beer, you know, what’s, what’s a football game? There’s nothing to do, I’m there.
Peter Fenner: Right? This doing nothing is dirt. It’s a non doing. But it’s doing the no thing. It’s doing pure awareness, like minute after minute, just resting here effortlessly. So it’s so profound not doing it’s not the opposite of action. So we could say it’s non doing rather than not doing.
Rick Archer: Okay, I think I’ll go ahead and do it.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, so going back to my practice, I mean, I really wouldn’t be able to analyze it. But it does make sense to me the Zen notion that we have to do as much as we’ve done in order to realize that we didn’t have to do that in order to be here. Yeah. And without doing that, that we didn’t need to do, we wouldn’t be here.
Rick Archer: It’s very kind of paradoxical, isn’t it? Yeah. In fact, you read that over and over again, people say when they wake up, when they attain Enlightenment, so to speak, they realized that they always were that, you know, they’re How could they have been anything other than how can the reality have not been real? What does that verse in The Gita it says, you know, the unreal, has no being the real never ceases to be. But paradoxically, as you say, you know, we go through all these rigmarole in order to come to that realization, right. I like to think of the sun and clouds analogy, like, you know, Sun doesn’t have to do anything to shine. But if there’s clouds, then the clouds might obscure the view of the Sun for those who are on the other side of them. So maybe there needs to be some wind or something to blow the clouds away. And then the sun is found, oh, it’s always been shining. Analogies have their limitations, but it helps to illustrate it.
Peter Fenner: But yeah, I think in this work, that’s part of what we’re looking for in working with a more strictly non dual approach or results oriented approach, that we’re just looking for the way that we create something needs to happen before just that structure. That’s how that’s how we get on the path or the clouds need to disperse and then or I need to do more practice or I need to go back and fix this part of my life, or any whatever it is. And then of course, we just For long being here, we can’t be here. If we think it’s going to, it happens in the future.
Rick Archer: Well, I’m going to keep picking up on this with you. Because on the other hand, you know, if you’re deeply conditioned and attached and bound up in things, you know, you may be here, but there’s a lot of conditioning, that’s, that’s running your life. And, you know, it may be that after 1020 years of some sort of, you know, discipline or practice, you’re your future, from the current perspective ends up being a lot brighter than your present, because you’ve undergone a lot of transformation. Right?
Peter Fenner: For sure, for sure. But getting into that story, right thinking, contextualizing what you’re doing in the moment in that way. It’s not saying that’s what you’re doing, because you were looking at it more retrospectively. But if that’s what we’re doing, we’re thinking, Ah, so I do this and it sort of working, and then that’s it, it’s gonna get sort of getting better, you know, I’m gonna get this resource that will be more like, you know, solidly integrated in me, that’s not resting in awareness. Like that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s your you’re in time. So that’s, again, part of what I’m looking for we in time, in the construction, that that’s in a construction, that construction, that’s in time, you know how it’s going to be in the future. The other option is to not be in time. Not be, I mean, the past is there, the future is there as whatever we think it may be. But this is here, in its purity. And this is we can’t say what this is there, all the labels that have been applied to it. And this is the ultimate state, because when we’re here, the great thing is we don’t need anything. I mean, that’s, that’s what it is, we’re here, and someone comes and says, Look, PETA, you know, well, first, what do you need? I don’t need anything. It just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t compute. Wouldn’t you like more of it? It’s just again, it doesn’t compute. Would you? Like, you know, $1,000? Sure, why not? You have right now? I mean, if you leave if it gets left there, yes, if it doesn’t, whether there is no difference,
Rick Archer: when you say non doing is that similar to the notion like, you know, breathing is kind of a non doing, you don’t have to think about it, it just happened spontaneously. And so are you saying that the living pure awareness, or whatever you want to call it should be so natural that you know, your is just being lived without are having to think about it or hold on to it or make a fuss about it? It just kind of gets to be a second nature sort of thing? Is that what you’re kind of saying?
Peter Fenner: Yeah, exactly. Okay. And so it is natural meditation. So it doesn’t have to have the form of meditation at all. It’s this, this is natural meditation. The way to check that out is, is there any value to be derived in this moment from meditating? No, that’s not evident. That’s not obvious to me at all. Why would have meditate in this moment,
Rick Archer: we better not meditate and
Peter Fenner: whatever. But there’s time need because the the fruition of meditation has happened is through the resting in awareness. So it’s natural meditation, or another phrase that used the meditation, that’s not meditation. It’s like it’s happening without needing to do it, just to send it on us. Just come to us.
Rick Archer: And yet the Buddha was said to meditate a couple hours a day for the rest of his life after attaining attaining Enlightenment, so why, if that’s true, why did he do that? Because he was already enlightened. Yeah,
Peter Fenner: but I doubt that he was sitting down and thinking, Ah, so I’ve got to meditate. Now,
Rick Archer: he may have done a sitting meditation of some kind may have just sat and
Peter Fenner: but he may not have been able to do that. Maybe I mean, it’s not as though we’ve become you know, totally unconditioned and don’t need to eat and do this and dressing what have you. So I mean, people who have been meditating a lot in some form, they connect with the non dual but they still they still sit a lot. That’s because it’s like a habit. It’s yeah, it’s they’re used to doing it too just yet being sort of pretty immobile, and just Yeah, watching awareness watching the mind. Yeah, but it’s it’s not something that need that being done to produce a particular or an anticipated goal?
Rick Archer: Yeah, I understand what you’re saying people who know me, well are probably thinking at this point. Oh, yeah. Rick is just sort of arguing his, his particular obsession, which is that he’s been meditating for a long, long time. And, you know, he’s kind of defending the fact that he’s he still does this practice. And, you know, I would admit to that, in a way, but I also have to be true to my own experience, which differs a little bit from what you’re saying that I do find that every time I meditate, I derive very profound benefit from it. It’s refreshing, enlivening, you know, and as over the years, it continues to sort of, take me deeper, so to speak into the very same thing that I’m already experiencing, but there’s greater depth and clarity that seems to continue to unfold. So,
Peter Fenner: yeah, for sure, because earlier, when, when I was talking about creating the optimal opportunity in the moment, that includes creating the optimal conditions. So, you know, a retreat environment is an attempt to create great conditions for accessing the non dual, a component of that is meditation, like at home in a retreat environment in which you’re effectively sitting down and saying, Okay, so this time is for something different. This is not for just getting engaged in all the projects. This is not for thinking and planning what I’ll be doing for the rest of the day, next month. There, I’m sitting down, because this is an opportunity out for awareness. Right. So that’s the opportunity here. Yeah. Okay. So what is that? And also the other opportunity causes who’s meditating? Right. All right, so I’ve done this thing on here, who is here? Right? presencing? What? So for sure, meditation that has been shown to be one of the structures that lends itself to really supporting accessing awareness.
Rick Archer: Yeah, like I think you said earlier, it, it’s kind of if done in a certain way, it’s sort of a natural thing like eating or sleeping, or, you know, the drinking water, or the various things we need to do. It can become that kind of integral to one’s life. And I’m not sort of trying to argue it as a universal practice, necessarily, other people might find other things more useful. I’m just sort of playing with you here on this. First thing you said, you said two things, nothing to do nothing to know about this, nothing to do point, when just about every spiritual tradition in the world has all kinds of things one can do to apparently, progress become more pure, become more clear, you know, whatever they they offer. And so that it can be confusing for people when they juxtapose a statement, like there’s nothing to do with traditions with which they may be familiar.
Peter Fenner: So we should really change the phrase from I should have introduced a different light, and be speaking about doing doing nothing, perhaps rather than nothing to do. And how do we do nothing? Had the no thing how do we do content? lessness? How do we do selflessness? How do we do that? Atma Vidya? How do we do? Right? Beyond the personal self? One of the best ways to do it is yeah, you sit down, right already, we’re meditating, right? We sit down, and we think, okay, so like, how do I do that? How would I? Where’s the soul? How do I leave? Just pick a word whatever it is. Consciousness itself center lessness. What is that? Where is that? Who is doing this? Doing what? So those are things that, right? Those those pointers happen much more easily, obviously, in that container of what we would call meditation, because from the outside, that’s what it looks like, in a way that people can come to a workshop and I will sometimes point out I will say, so are you meditating? No, no, we’re not meditating. But then just I just noticed that if someone from the outside would open the door, because there’s a lot of silence in my retreats. People just resting eyes open eyes close. Someone open the door, they’re out there meditating. It’s this is a meditation retreat meditation class.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s that old saying it takes a thorn to remove a thorn you know, and I guess you could consider meditation in some of its forms to be doing which takes you out of doing it. It’s a, it’s a reduction of doing less than doing less and less. And yeah, you know, you’re still doing something as you as you retreat from doing. It’s kind of like if a person is standing in the middle of a great big mud puddle, and they want to know how to get out of the mud puddle. Somebody at the edge of the puddle says, well take a step that he might say, Well, yeah, but you’re asking me to put my foot in the mud again. Yeah, but just take a step, you know, and then take another step. And at a certain point, you’re out of the puddles.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, exactly. And then so yeah, the then the important point is to be aware of the way a practice can be doing what you’re saying, undoing the conditioning, like moving us through to awareness, or the way that a practice can be conditionings, which is not the intention of a practice. The practice isn’t intended to just, like really embed a need and necessity to forever do that practice is meant to release us. Yeah, bring your via moksha. Yep.
Rick Archer: Good. So what the other part of it that you said, is not knowing, and you hear that a fair amount. And yet, you also, you know, there are all kinds of scriptures, one can read, and you can learn all kinds of things. And and, you know, so called enlightened people seem to be very wise and sometimes very articulate. And they say profound things, it seems like they know a lot. So play with that. And what are you saying, when you mean, not knowing?
Peter Fenner: What I’m what I mean, in saying not knowing is pointing out that this awareness isn’t an object of knowledge. So we know that it’s not, it’s no more complicated than that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Could you say it knows itself in some way? Or does is that even too dualistic to say?
Peter Fenner: Well, what I do at this point, I, when I hear you or someone say something like that, can this know itself kind of when it’s not? So I just look at what my mind does with that. That’s the only really the only significant thing. If my mind starts to do something with that, then it’s not the phrase is not doing what I think it’s intended to do. Which is to take me beyond the mind. In fact, it’s giving me something something to think about. This can know itself that is this the same thing? How does it know it? So as a philosopher, I could get quiet. I know that you can effect there, there. There’s a whole there. School schools, some schools built on the fact that awareness is so of knowing and others refute that, it can become a big thing. I’m just looking for. How do we disengage the mind? So that we can presents this? Yeah, so I just try and keep it as simple as possible.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And speaking in terms of our own experience, you know, I think we both have some experiential familiarity with what we’re discussing here. But it’s not like something we know the way I know, you know, what my ring is made of, or I know some mathematical formula, or I know my wife’s name or something. It’s not a subject object relationship kind of thing. Would you say that it’s the knower, really into awareness, and that the knower that can know this, that or the other thing, but to know itself? What does it have to do?
Peter Fenner: Yeah, it’s the knower that can’t be found.
Rick Archer: Because it can’t step apart from itself and say, oh, here I am over here. Because then it
Peter Fenner: right, because because because then the subject is being objectified.
Rick Archer: Right
Peter Fenner: So we’re continuing to look for, like the ground of subjectivity. Like where the knowing is coming from who the Knower is, and if we know anything about that, that’s no longer the knower.
Rick Archer: There’s something actually that relates to both these points then the doing and the knowing. And it’s actually reflected in a question that someone named Elizabeth had sent in say, she said, is what you call radiant mind equivalent to Sahaja Samadhi. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with all those Samadhi terms that I’m not either they’re all these different flavors of Samadhi. But, but if we if we Think of what we’re talking about. I mean, ordinarily, the mind is agitated, right and to a certain extent, and it were, the attention is directed outwards. And what we’re talking about here is a kind of a settling down. So as the way are you familiar with the Yoga Sutras? The second verse in the Yoga Sutras says, yoga is the cessation of fluctuations of the mind. Yeah, Yogas Chitta, Vritti Nirodha. And then the seer rests in the self or the knower rests in itself. That’s, that’s what we’re describing here. So how would you describe what you’re saying, in terms of some of those? I know you had a Buddhist background, but in terms of some of those more traditional Hindu terms, I guess Buddhists have the same things. They talked about Samadhi and so on, don’t they also? Sure,
Peter Fenner: sure, sure. It’s just radiant mind is just one way of using one phrase to talk about the CO arising of the conditioned and the unconditioned, the CO arising of awareness, and the contents of awareness, the CO arising inseparability of emptiness and appearances, emptiness and form, which is the sahaja. State. It’s not emptiness, as a state that’s disconnected from the conditioned reality. It’s this weird recognition that this is unconditioned, and really, totally inseparable from all of these conditions, the shapes the forms, the sounds, this infinitely complex matrix that can be subdivided probably, in so many ways, and that this that has no content can’t be differentiated. I mean, it’s impossible to this shouldn’t be, it’s like, in some ways, it shouldn’t be like this, this should be impossible. What’s happening right now. But it isn’t just the way that awareness that has no content can interface. I mean, that’s not even the right word, because there’s no interface but that it can interface with the contents of awareness. I mean, I’m not never going to have an answer for that. That for me is, like in Buddhism, an unanswerable question. It’s not formally one of the unanswerable questions but it is unanswerable.
Rick Archer: It’s a beautiful point actually, the mystery of awareness being able to interact or interface with stuff and the way I understand it is that this stuff with which awareness appears to be interacting or interfacing is actually also awareness. So, that awareness is interacting with itself and through the process of doing that gives rise to the apparent diversity of subject object relationships, forms and phenomenon, but even from the standpoint of contemporary physics, at least some physicists understand it, if you analyze anything deeply enough, you get right down to that bedrock of non dual state and that that thing, which appears to be a thing is nothing other than that non dual state. So it’s a fascinating thing to consider, I mean, if if the non dual state is the ultimate reality, then can there actually be I mean, there are there can be subsidiary realities, we can say all the forces and you know, fields and matter and so on, that comprise the universe, but what are they essentially, you know, other than that non dual state, having somehow gotten excited, or perturbed, but, you know, look at it more closely. And it never did get excited or perturbed there saints like Ramana, Maharshi, and others who say, nothing ever happened. Actually, it just appears to have happened. This string was never a snake, it just was mistaken to be one.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, yeah. I.
Rick Archer: Well, let me throw a question at you because I kind of left you stumped there.
Peter Fenner: I don’t have nothing’s happening.
Rick Archer: One thing I find interesting is that you know, you define yourself as a non dual psychotherapist, or you have a non dual approach to psychotherapy is, is non dual, and I’m not very familiar with the Buddhist tradition, is non duality, really a lively term in in Buddhist thinking, or are you kind of a hybrid between, you know, Buddhist tradition and Advaita. And that’s, that’s why I use the term non dual.
Peter Fenner: Really, I really appreciate question because many people don’t really realize how thoroughly the term non duality is you used in Mahayana Buddhism in particular, but it is it’s used again and again, in anything that is coming out of what’s called the prajna paramita, the perfection of wisdom traditions, so zen zolgensma, Jamaica, maha mudra all of the central text you go to any glossary, you’ll find non duality. So it is it’s, it’s an integral part of those traditions and a non duality that is essentially the same as non duality. That’s the in which the language of contradiction, neither this nor that, the language that you find in Advaita interesting, the, the probably the closest, just in terms of language is a Gowda pada from advisor who some people thought was a was a crypto Buddhist. Buddha said that no, no, it’s embedded in Buddhism, you also have the notion of Rupiah skillful methods, this you know great diversity of methods of leading to the non dual state. So that’s in a way what has supported this diffusion of methods and diffusion of different non dual approaches. Okay.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it stands to reason I should hope that non duality would be there as much in Buddhism as, as anywhere, because obviously, I’m of a mind that if you got together, the founders of all these great traditions, Jesus and Buddha and Muhammad and put them in a room together, they would all describe a common experience that they had just spoken about in different languages in different cultures. But but there’s really, what is it the incredible String Band sang light that is one of the lamps the many,
Peter Fenner: huh? Yeah, well, going back to what we were saying about meditation, I think there’s a certain point that we’re just taken through into the non jewel app for you know, for a while, it’s efforting and mindfulness or just observing what is awareness, like deconstructive inquiry, unfavorability, self inquiry, pointing out whatever it is, that at, its seeming to require something from outside, but then it’s like, when you really are close to awareness, it just draws us in. Yeah. And then you get that natural release and that deconstruction, the dissolving of thoughts and just the the play of awareness.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that draws us in point. It’s nice. I mean, what were we started talking about the beginning, the very beginning, we started talking about bliss, right? And it would seem that the mind would naturally be drawn toward bliss, if given the opportunity. I mean, if you and I are talking like this, and then some beautiful music started to play over here, our attention would just kind of be attracted to it because the mind has this natural tendency to seek a field of greater happiness. And it’s seems almost perplexing in a way that all these traditions speak of the blissful nature of reality and such at Ananda bliss of the self and all that stuff. And yet we are kind of estranged from it. No, it would seem that we will just sort of sink like a stone into that bliss. And yet
Peter Fenner: yeah, and yet it will given right the conducive opportunities and elegant instructions, elegant ways of doing it, that is what happens if you people just see the opportunity and you can just feel them just go into these real Samadhi states that are really just so nourishing because they’re like, just giving our nervous system a different message that giving our nervous system the message that yes, we are capable of generating great bliss Maha soup within ourselves as a function of consciousness and and our nervous system.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and I mean speaking neuro biologically neuro chemically if you I’m sure you’ve heard of neuroplasticity, where the brain can actually be sculpted through experiences like that. And, and all the various chemicals that one could hope to take you know, as a drug in order to elicit some kind of response our own body manufactures those if we learned how to and can manufacture them in greater abundance if we know how to use that instrument. Someone asked here, Elizabeth again, I have a bunch of questions from her and maybe others will be sending him some questions. But let’s, let’s try to nail down a definition of Enlightenment. Her question is, is Enlightenment really anything other than resting as awareness that is, in the nature? In the innermost nature of mind with stability is that would that be a good working definition of Enlightenment?
Peter Fenner: See, when you’re asking someone who’s versed in the Buddhist tradition, particularly in Mahayana, Buddhism, what’s Enlightenment? You’re gonna get a different answer. Because then if you ask someone in, let’s say, the Advaita tradition, Sufism or Taoism, or whatever other non dual traditions because a distinction is made between Enlightenment and Nirvana, Enlightenment and personal freedom, what’s the difference? Differences. Personal freedom is sometimes called realizing the profound, which is the profound, empty nature of mind. It’s really what I am offering in radiant mind. And what I guess I would say, is a path that I feel that you know, in a lifetime, you can do something with it, you can get somewhere with it. It’s accessing becoming more and more right? Firstly, recognizing and then becoming more familiar with awareness, senselessness pure awareness. So that’s reaching a state in which it’s like this mind stream, who I am, who I connect myself with being that I have reached a state of fulfillment, contentment, that there is no where further to go? It’s like the works done. This is it in this moment, at least, we can break regress from that and think we’ve lost it so on but in this moment, it’s complete Enlightenment. Is this what you referred to, I think, at least how I understood what you’re saying, it’s this the possibility that we are infinite in some way at the conditioned level, that I am not just like a skin encapsulated body with a pretty small mind, that can become liberated, but in some way, I am infinitely complex. And that the awareness can be deepened that that that it’s like, and then it’s so out there in Latin, relative to moksha, or nirvana is so out there. It’s like the macrocosm and the microcosm, you know, becoming one, it’s more like, it’s becoming divine. Enlightenment is part of Tantra, for example, and the practice of deity yoga. So it’s in contrast to the profound it’s called the extensive or the expansive. So it has this notion of expansion, to include or infuse, somehow, we become the consciousness that infuses the universe, that would probably be the best and perhaps the only way I can describe it at the moment, okay. Without it starting to sound like sort of Buddhist theology or something. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And maybe we’re, you know, extrapolating beyond our direct experience by but, but I suppose it’s, it’s good to define our terms so that we were on the same page in terms of what we’re talking about. And so I would have thought that, in Buddhism, Enlightenment is just the English word for Moksha or nirvana. But what you’re what you seem to be saying is that those are kind of, in a way more preliminary or fundamental and that Enlightenment is kind of even more glorious, or profound or expansive, or something than those.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, that’s how it’s understood. Yeah. It’s like you. The first thing you get under your belt is Moksha or Nirvana, right? Because then you know, how can You’d be this, the A, become a cosmic contribution to others to the universe. First, you’ve got to get your own liberation handled. So you sort of go, that’s huge. Yeah, you go to preliminary school and get that, get that out the way. And then you go for Yeah, this deepening through the, the art, your own internal structure. And then you have this cosmic vision in which the subject object isn’t playing out. You’re not just a, you know, a unique body mind, but somehow connected with the cosmos.
Rick Archer: Okay, so based on what you’ve just said, let me just summarize it to see if I understand, what you’re saying is that moksha, or Nirvana would be sort of a realization of oneself as pure awareness and, you know, resting in one in that state of pure awareness, but not necessarily an appreciation of, you know, that pure awareness permeating the entire or containing within it, the entire universe. But Enlightenment would be that with the latter, that there, there’s a much greater wholeness, which is kind of subsumed, both relative and absolute within its,
Peter Fenner: yeah, yeah. Yeah. I appreciate the way that you’re describing it. Okay.
Rick Archer: Another question from Elizabeth Elizabeth, who is conducting this interview? Well, we’ve kind of covered this one, let me know if there’s anything more you want to say about it. She said, What is the role of various sadhanas in relation to simply resting in and as the nature of mind? And I think you may have touched on it pretty well, in terms of one can do all sorts of things to eventually arrive at the realization that one isn’t doing it doesn’t need to or are doesn’t need to have done anything. But it’s another any more point you’d like to say on that.
Peter Fenner: Just that, yeah, you’d like to pick a Samadhana that at some point, has you asking the question, who’s doing this? Right? It would be good.
Rick Archer: Not one that you’re just going to kind of grind away at endless Yeah. Okay, good. This is an interesting question is, is something like confidence necessary in order to rest as awareness? In other end? Is this confidence emotional? In other words, a sense of being capable, worthy deserving? Or is it cognitive based upon just a clear understanding of our true nature being nothing other than pure awareness? I guess I would just add to that question, does one need to sort of be emotionally healthy or mature or integrated, and as well as mentally capable and clear in order to rest as pure awareness? Or can one be sort of flawed in one or another, these dimensions? And yet still rest as pure awareness?
Peter Fenner: Yeah, sure, I don’t, I think we see that again and again, that there are no preconditions. So you can have someone who looks, you know, really healthy, you could put them directly psychometric testing, and they come out, you know, a really healthy individual, who, you know, lives life well, and they’re responsible and so on and confident, doesn’t necessarily give them a basis for letting go of self identity, letting go of everything and being no one going nowhere. And being awareness and you can have someone who’s like, the whole thing’s a bit shaky, you know, who I am and what’s white and life doesn’t look for, you know, particularly together and have a history of even some like psychological imbalance disturbance, for whom, that who has ready access to this. So the sort of, that’s possible, because there are no preconditions and certainly going back to India and Tibet, I mean, you didn’t like have to be mentally integrated. They’re pretty weird and wild and wonderful. Women and men who were often the virtuosos in nondual practice. Then the other question is, though, from a teaching point of view, like who do you who is who do you offer this perspective to? And for me, the important point in this is that you don’t two things. It’s important not to make this attractive to look attractive. It’s important not to have to hack edge awareness as something that people should have that they need. If they have this, then they will have everything they want. Because then that brings that people are coming in on the basis of deficiency on the basis of made. And so that’s a tricky, tricky business. Well, I can Oh, go ahead. No, please. Well, I can see
Rick Archer: how, you know, you’re, you don’t want to package it in such a way as to, you know, suggest that if you have awareness, you’re going to get the Mercedes and the flashy girlfriend and, you know, all that kind of stuff. But, but speaking of sort of emotional and psychological abnormalities, isn’t the world the condition of the world a kind of a display of collective psychological problems on a on a mass scale. And, and I’ve kind of always thought of spiritual development as as not only getting established in pure awareness, but kind of getting all your your loose screws tightened. And, you know, getting all the all the blind spots and, and the shadow stuff and psychological twists and turns that might be disrupting your personal life, resolved and healed in the process of your spiritual development. And that, you know, if enough people were to do that, we might see that that effect on societal scales?
Peter Fenner: Yeah, sure. For sure, yeah. In the long term, if someone like has an initial recognition, and that this, they want to take this to heart, take the non jewel to heart and work with it and develop it. Yeah, it does require. Yeah, like,
Rick Archer: I mean, I’m sorry, go ahead.
Peter Fenner: Well, it requires healing your mind it requires working with your mind, perhaps at a psychological level, but just in terms of how you’re interacting with people. So you’re not creating like one drama, one trauma, one breakdown after another, which just throws you further into the conditions further into samsara, and doesn’t let you engage with the practice the simplicity of just what is this, this is awareness. And this is what we’re doing just sitting here in this really uncontrived, settled, settled way.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And we might ask, I mean, if pure if getting established in your own nature, pure awareness, settled awareness, whatever you want to call, it does not result in you being a better person in some way. If it’s just sort of a marinating in my own inner bliss, and then I come out and I act like a jerk. What good is it? You know, I mean, it seems to me that I’ve seen people get very self indulgent, in spiritual in pursuing spiritual development and actually become less nice as people than the average person rather than more nice, and that that’s sometimes a head scratcher.
Peter Fenner: But I’m not sure that the states that you’re talking about are the set is the state of pure awareness center lessness, the state that is really embracing the state, that that in a way compels us to deal with whatever’s arising. The state that doesn’t let us retreat from engagement doesn’t let us retreat from complexity. I mean, awareness is the state that I mean, that’s, there’s no escape. Like, whatever is arising, it’s there. And has to be worked with and dealt with in whatever way it is. There’s no There’s no, this. There’s no how, or energy within awareness that lets us avoid anything.
Rick Archer: Good. Yeah. So I mean, you’re the psychologist. That’s why I’m asking you this question. It’s because So are you saying that awareness is like light in a way that it she kind of begins to illuminate stuff that might have been hidden from us. And or to use another metaphor, it’s like a solvent that begins to dissolve stuff that’s been kind of embedded, and that if awareness is developed, then you know the dark corners of our minds and emotions, or the tight knots of constriction, that that might be hidden to us begin to resolve and life begins to flow more smoothly, because we’re not carrying around this this hidden baggage. What happens
Peter Fenner: as we become more familiar with awareness as awareness infuses our being more comprehensively we become aware of our conditioning in a most that’ll way we become aware of how we’re conditioning things moment by moment. So in relationships in conversations, there’s just more acuity more sensitivity. We say a sentence we wait, wait, we sense the impact of that. And in radiant mind, I talk about working in a way that we are ongoingly complete so that we’re not creating incompletions. So, so being in the world in a way that we’re taking care of what has to be taken care of, in the moment in the here and now. So then in the next moment, we have more possibility, more opportunity of being in that moment, because we don’t have to go back and like do repair work, because we were rough and unskillful in communication in an engagement that we had.
Rick Archer: That’s a good point. There’s a verse in The Gita that says, yoga is skill and action. yogo karma sukoshi them. And you think of like Christ said, when they were crucified and said, Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do. I mean, if a person were spiritually aware, and as you say sensitive and attuned, they wouldn’t be able to do a thing like that. Right? You know? Yeah. So it would seem that kindness is an outcome of greater spiritual attunement.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, kindness, care
Rick Archer: compassion,
Peter Fenner: yeah.
Rick Archer: All those good things. Okay,
Peter Fenner: yeah. And just in relationships, not not being manipulative, being able to have a greater intimacy in relationships, because we’re not trying to manipulate people, there’s nothing from our side that we’re trying or needing to defend. So we can really let people enter us and let them interact with us.
Rick Archer: I wanted to just dwell on that a little bit, because sometimes even in this conversation we’ve been having it’s it’s sometimes suggested that there’s that spiritual development is sort of intrinsically that useful. And in terms of the subjective experience one has, but it doesn’t necessarily have practical implications or applications to one’s behavior and daily life. And, you know, I don’t agree with that. And I think you’ve articulated nicely how it does have practical implications in terms of being less of a schmuck. And ideally, possibly an even saintly person, as time goes on. That actually related to this a little bit. We talked about, we’ve been talking about emotions and treating people more kindly, and that being kind of an outcome of being more sensitively attuned to awareness. A more kind of superlative degree of this sort of thing would be devotion. And Elizabeth asks, what is the role of devotion in relation to resting as awareness?
Peter Fenner: Mm hmm. If diversion I mean, I’m just looking at it now, what I what I enjoy doing is taking a word, hearing a word, like diversion and just seeing where I can go with that. Taking a word like, center lessness, taking a word like source, price consciousness, whatever it would be, and just seeing where I go, what what journey can I how can I move with that and, and devotion has something very sweet says there’s something that I can do with that, personally, it’s not like there’s a right answer to any of these things. I think that we have bring to this a great deal of responsibility in terms of how we work with different concepts, something like diversion, if we can do something that’s very sweet and very simple with this that may be identified with someone something a source of energy, St. Teaching, have devotion to it, that’s, that’s great. But also just realizing that the devotion here is devotion, also to the totality. It’s, it’s a really I can see devotion, working to a lot of what we’ve been saying, which is this notion of taking care of the totality. To our existence, so that we can do what we’re doing now what we’re doing now, even though it’s unconditioned, it is a product of all of the things that we’ve done and the care that we’ve taken. And the devotion and commitment that we’ve had. To teachings to the path to other people. So yeah, devotion, I see devotion. Yeah. More hope in a holistic way that that can work.
Rick Archer: Have you ever been in a relationship with a teacher, let’s say, and experienced, you know, real kind of waves of love and devotion? Really, I mean, that’s a better word than just love because of the kind of the purity of it and the, the height to which it, it can soar.
Peter Fenner: I have
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Peter Fenner: Yeah.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s a sweet thing. And I have to and you know, they’re, sometimes there’s a sort of a dryness to the way spiritual teachings are presented. But if you kind of look into the heart of them a little bit more, you usually find that, you know, these, these teachers that we revere, Ramana, and Nisargadatta, and all that they really had their devotional dimension. And, and they, they themselves lauded that as being something really precious and sweet. Not to be missed.
Peter Fenner: Absolutely.
Rick Archer: Here’s an interesting question. This, again, is a little philosophical, I think, another one from Elizabeth. There’s, there’s some people who say that, you know, since there really is no person, essentially, at the core of who we are, we’re really just pure awareness that reincarnation doesn’t make sense, because that would imply a person who somehow reincarnates from body to body. So So Elizabeth is here, what is a mindstream? And what is it that reincarnate from one day to the next one lifetime to the next one moment to the next? How, if at all? Is reincarnation consistent with a non dual view?
Peter Fenner: Well, it’s, the question comes down yes to how do we exist from one day to the next, from one second to the next? It’s not only a question of the possibility of there being a continuity from one life to another, if there’s no self, how is it that I wake up? thinking I’m the same? So today, as this person who I remember waking up? Same environment, same body yesterday, I don’t really have an answer for it. I mean, there are a lot of things that I’ve, you know, thought about and taught and written about studied. But a stream of consciousness, it’s a sort of person is it’s just a body mind, the conditioning of which is contained, sort of causally contained in a particular way. And you don’t need a self for that to be coherent for that to function coherently for it to function, and have continuity over time, question of reincarnation, so in a little bit different because it sort of assumes or more, would you say, mentalist or more? That, you know, the universe maybe is not as solid as we think it is? It’s? Yeah.
Rick Archer: In a way, I’m asking you all kinds of metaphysical questions. It’s not really fair in a way, because, you know, we’ve been talking from the beginning about being true to our own experience, and I’m hitting you with all this stuff that you know, who can really answer for sure. So I apologize for that. And, you know, I want to make sure to keep it real here and to keep I mean, she Elizabeth is asking some interesting questions. But, you know, I want to make sure that we don’t miss the opportunity for you to talk about things that are really dear to your heart and that you consider really important for people to hear. So, you know, if I don’t bring out some question that and you feel like I wish he’d asked me this, feel free to just like, throw it out there and, you know, start talking about something. Okay. Okay, thank you. So is there anything like that that’s important to you that we don’t
Peter Fenner: I think we haven’t been ignoring it. We’ve been touching on it. But I think the that’s just the ease of what we’re talking about, and that it is effortless. and that I love the idea of natural states, just the words natural state because it works. It works at two levels for me. We have our natural state that at the unconditioned level in which your natural state everyone who realizes their natural state has awareness. It’s like the same realization and I find it beautiful to think that the saints of the past Sufism, Advaita, Taoism, Buddhism, when they are resting in awareness, we know what was happening, we know where they were, and for me, being able to draw on the lineage in that way, not just a Buddhist, but the non Jew lineage and just feel well, we are participating in his lineage that’s been represented so comprehensively, and that there have been historically, hundreds of 1000s of people who’ve been masters, virtuosos live their lives in this state, is really inspiring. Because for many people in the West, it’s new, it’s what is it, and it’s something that is part of our historical heritage to draw on, and then also realizing that, yeah, no work that this is the utmost in simplicity, when you’ve got I mean, just giving our minds nothing to think about is a beautiful gift. For however long we do it, nothing to work out, nothing to think about nothing to process, just like break from the whole thing, just to Yes, and then realizing that there’s nothing to do nowhere. That the doing nothing, doing no thing. And realizing that it is the the ultimate medicine as it spoken about in Buddhism, the Buddha was the sort of preeminent Doctor teaching the ultimate medicine. And, and that the words that we use are just not important. You know, emptiness, self knowledge. Sahaja Samadhi. It’s and the word that I really go for is this. Because it’s so worth its offer. This because it’s used in Buddhism of tatata. Just this keeps it simple.
Rick Archer: In your own experience, was is was resting in the natural state, something that just sort of grew imperceptibly like, like the sun rising very slowly, and it just starts to get a little bit light and a little bit lighter, a little bit lighter, or was there some kind of dramatic shift at some point, which is high, and then you kind of like, never went back after that.
Peter Fenner: Will certainly the former Yes. things growing, developing incrementally over the years. And then that, that being punctuated by Yeah, like, milestones, yes. Something that, you know, I would say, you know, particular time and place, particular, insight, realizations, whatever happening, I think, oh, wow, that was, that was pretty Yeah, that was an important that was a significant milestone, but not something that and those things, of course, can take you all the way through just as we can come all the way through now, to presencing. Awareness. But still regressing from that still, things closing up still, you know, feeling contracted. So no, I haven’t had states that have taken me all the way through and then stabilized. Beyond that. I think I was trying to clarify that at the beginning.
Rick Archer: So So do you feel like for you, the degree to which you rest in the natural state kind of oscillates, you know, sometimes much more, so sometimes less so and? Yeah, yeah, yeah. So when you feel more constricted, or, you know, kind of a little like you’ve lost the natural state to some extent. What do you do to regain it?
Peter Fenner: The best is to engage in a conversation about it. And that can be a conversation with myself. It can be a conversation with other people with students with peers, it can writing by fire and really great, because, you know, I, when I write I want to write from this. So that’s a great way to come back here. I can read something that I’ve written that comes from the state, and then it takes me back into. So that would that would be the way. So the air conversations that are deconstructive conversations that are designed to take us beyond the mind and bring us back here.
Rick Archer: Is this conversation doing it?
Peter Fenner: Yeah. Yeah, I can. I can. Definitely. Yeah. Thank you very much.
Rick Archer: when you’re resting in your natural state, most clearly, most profoundly, most deeply. How would you describe that experience?
Peter Fenner: Well, I think it has the two components, what I was describing our natural state as awareness. The other component that’s great is natural state can be talking about our conditioned state as well. In other words, just being natural, not feeling contrived, not feeling artificial, not trying to prove anything, not trying to avoid anything, not trying to be, you know, deploying energy trying to be someone different from how we are. So it’s natural at the conditioned level, just being who I am, then the effortlessness that’s involved in that, and the naturalness. And in fact, we have to discover ourselves in that way, to also allow for the recognition of our natural state in this more profound way. Otherwise, we’re just involved in the management of our identity, how people are thinking of me what I need to do, you know, just all How am I just all of that stuff that we can get so preoccupied with?
Rick Archer: It strikes me that a good synonym for natural, the way you’re describing it would be simple. You know, Christ said except to be as little children shall not enter the kingdom of heaven. So we think of children as simple and innocent. And the opposite of that being all sort of contriving and complex, and, you know, all the stuff that people get caught up in so innocent, that that’s another good synonym. Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. Childlike almost. Yeah. Why is it serpents gentle as doves. And you see that actually, in it more kind of vividly and certain saints, you know, like, Ramana, just kind of sitting there with a sort of look of complete innocence on his face. And, you know, gentleness and naturalness. And, you know, and then contrast him perhaps with someone in the commodities trading pit at the Chicago Stock Exchange, you know, it gives you a good illustration of what natural state looks like.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, yeah.
Rick Archer: One thing that people are talking a lot a lot about a lot these days, it’s is embodiment, there’s, there seems to be a trend and contemporary spirituality, where a lot of people had some sort of non dual realization or recognition of their natural state of their, their, their true nature. And but it was not really integrated with their experience as a human being, you know, who has relationships, who has financial challenges, and, you know, all kinds of things like that. And so a lot of people these days are talking about embodiment, and somehow integrating the self realization or whatever you want to call it into real life. Yeah. Do you have any comments on that?
Peter Fenner: Well, I think if we’re doing it in the way that we’re doing it, now, we’ll say let’s just say a little bit, like in the radiant mind way, that the embodiment is happening because this is not something that’s happening separately from everything else in our life, like you’re in your environment. I’m involved my environment, like familiar environments, you know, books this and that, things that signify different projects and kitchen and all of that, what have you. So the the integration happens through it presencing the non dual in like our regular daily environment, and activities. So in a program like radiant mind, running over nine months, a lot of it is happening, end on end with what’s happening in people’s lives. So a lot of the work happens like this video conferencing teleconferencing. So people can have just come out of, like a difficult conversation with their partner or come back from work, you know, stressed out and what have you. And then a few minutes later, they’re on the phone, you know, presencing awareness, like making the journey, but still with an awareness of the context of their lives. So the integration is happening. By being said, there’s no segmentation happening. Like you’re not, you don’t have to segment yourself and sort of compartmentalize yourself in a particular way to, to be here. So this for me is how the, the embodiment doesn’t read. You can’t like take awareness and, you know, whatever, shove it into our body, push it into relationships, it comes through being open, not being closed. And as I said, when we’re aware, I mean, real awareness, we can’t close down anyway. I mean, we are we’re compelled to be open. So I think the, what’s happening is the emphasis on embodiment is describing an integrated practice of awareness. Basically, yeah, it’s describing and, and that’s more and more what people are looking for, in the West and integrated practice, not one, that you head off to India, and you go to Naipaul or the Himalayas or wherever and you hang out there for a few months, doing a retreat, which is great. I think, really, I think that is really excellent. And I think that’s integrated too. I don’t I don’t see that as being an integrated V or integrating with stuff that wouldn’t come up if you weren’t sitting with yourself for a few months. So I overall, I just think it’s great what everyone is doing. I just think it’s, it’s, it’s really wonderful. And I don’t find myself being critical and thinking that’s so good, they should be doing this. I think there’s just so much energy and application and interest that we find these days in spirituality, the non Jew Buddhism, it’s all wonderful.
Rick Archer: I agree. I mean, I wasn’t criticizing those people who are talking about embodiment, I think it’s long overdue, and there was too much disembodied talk going on for a while. And that can only last so long. Because life smacks you in the face. I mean, in your case, you were like a celibate monk in the Tibetan Tibetan Buddhist traditions for nine years. Were you like in monasteries? And over there and Tibet or some?
Peter Fenner: No, in India, but more in Australia. Okay. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And was there a bit of a reincarnate? Re integration period? That was a little difficult for you after those nine years?
Peter Fenner: The transition was very difficult. Yeah. Then that took about a year. But yeah, the transition because it was a transition from a system that in a profound way had supported me. I mean, really supported me. Yeah, you know, for me, so I was really indebted to what I received from it. So that was, that wasn’t simple. But it seemed necessary, it seemed it was going to be pulled apart. Anyway, in part, maybe in order to do what I have been doing in the last couple of decades in terms of, you know, discovering, and then offering something that’s more secular, not overtly Buddhist based, and you know, has a wider spread to it.
Rick Archer: Right. Yeah. So you had a preparatory phase, and then, yeah, come out in the world. And, yeah, someone named Doug sent in a question. Just now he said, How does happiness relate to the resting in awareness? So the second part of the question you said sometimes it appears, meditators appear to be more paranoid and have high anxiety than the rest of the populace. Why is that? I would say, sometimes it does. Sometimes it doesn’t. But I see this point why why would that be? Do you think?
Peter Fenner: Yeah, well, I don’t I don’t see that. You know, maybe maybe that being the them being more
Rick Archer: high.
Peter Fenner: meditators can get a little bit nervous about, like, if they’re holding on to their meditative state, if they’re wanting to then it can easily feel threatened. Sure. And, yeah, then. I mean,
Rick Archer: I guess the way I’d phrase it is, sometimes it seems that, you know, people who are really into spiritual stuff are kind of obsessive idiosyncratic, kind of nutty sometimes, and I’ve often wondered, are nutty people attracted to spirituality or to spirituality make you nutty? And yet, that’s not a total generalization, because there are all kinds of wonderful, bright, clear people, but it does seem, or maybe it’s just a cross section of the general population. And, you know, you’d find that anywhere spiritual or non spiritual.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, it’s I don’t have enough experience to, you know, to read. I don’t know, okay. I yeah, I, the people that I don’t know what to say, well, I don’t know, what’s the first path? That happiness? Yeah, I wouldn’t really want to say there is that. Obviously, the non dual is different from feeling happy. Because happiness is something that comes and goes, it’s a condition state. And I think it’s great. I mean, happy is being healthy, more happiness we have, the better, that it’s not the final goal, final objective. And if it becomes the final objective, it begins to produce suffering, we become attached to it and then suffer when we lose it.
Rick Archer: Well, it also sort of depends on what we mean by Happiness does it doesn’t it I mean, there’s kind of relative transitory happiness that’s based upon the condition of our physiology or what we’re experiencing. And then there’s that ground of awareness we’ve been talking about, which is kind of said to be intrinsically blissful, and which, but you know, I mean, this is worth dwelling on for a second, and that is that it may be intrinsically blissful, but who experiences that bliss other than a being such as ourselves? And it seems that our capacity to experience is is always going to be somewhat vulnerable and fluctuating. I mean, when Ramana was screaming in pain, when he was dying of cancer, was he experiencing bliss underneath that pain? You know, or, I mean, when people said to him, Oh, we’re so sorry that you’re suffering like this, he would say, I’m not suffering. So perhaps it is possible to achieve a state in which, despite outward appearances to the contrary, one resides in a, in a field that is untouched by relative, you know, pain and pleasure and whatnot, just establish an equanimity regardless of whether you’re, you’re burning in fire or getting a nice oil massage.
Peter Fenner: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I think that’s the word we will what’s what we are discovering for ourselves, that, that possibility, and occasionally, we can break through to that. Finding that something that intensely painful, can be come transformed, does become transformed, maybe just for a few seconds into something that’s, that’s blissful. Then quickly, like a rubber band, it just snaps back into, into an experience of pain. For me, the most important thing is being really appreciative of what we already have, and not not sort of racing ahead too quickly into how things might be really appreciating that we have the recognition of awareness, the most profound recognition that’s possible for any human being. So that’s happened I mean, that is incredible, marvelous. It’s, it is rare. It doesn’t happen to everyone. So that recognition has happened, we’ve got, like the market, we know what it is, without any doubt or dispute, and that it’s become an integral part of our lives, we’re living our lives in order to develop and grow this. So there’s nothing more to do. I mean, that’s, that’s what we’re doing sort of as much as can be done, if we were trying harder, we’d be doing something else, it would be this would be, you know, being caught by our desires, our need to suffer less our need to whatever. So really appreciating what we have already accomplished. And having the somebody mentioned confidence, Elizabeth. And the confidence is there at this point, it’s great when you arrive at the point that we know that we can be confident that we can’t let go this this is sort of got us. And it’s going to be with us, least for the rest of this life. And it’s not just something that we’ve picked up and looked at and played around with a little bit and said, that was fun. And that was interesting, but we move on to something else. No, we’ve sort of gone beyond that. And that’s a really wonderful state to have achieved.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and use the word rare a minute ago, it has been relatively rare given the, you know, the 8 billion people in the world that what percentage of people are having the kind of experience we’re talking about, but I do find it kind of inspiring and hopeful that it seems to be becoming more and more commonplace that, you know, whereas 2000 years ago, you had to be spiritual Superman to have the kind of breakthrough that these days, you know, people having all over the place, there seems to be some kind of popcorn effect going on. There’s some kind of epidemic effect that I think bodes well for the future of humanity, hopefully. Yeah. And it’s great that people like you are playing their part and helping to bring that about,
Peter Fenner: mmm, wonderful that you profiling so many people, and doing what you’re saying, but both that you’re bringing the sophistication of the conversation, that’s that, that you are in in your sessions, I really appreciate that. That the sophisticate your right leg, yeah, at the edge of where the conversation isn’t needs to be. And that you’re able to profile so many people who were sharing awareness, sharing their experience of it is a testament to what you’re saying, Well, I
Rick Archer: really enjoyed doing it. And I realized that there are a lot of people out there that really, I would love to talk to, and that deserve to be on this show. And, and that people would like to get exposed to, and I just do as many as possible, which so far is one a week, I hope to eventually increase the frequency, but I still have somewhat of a day job and other things going on. But, you know, for me, this has been a lifelong interest. Not just you know, not just sort of a curiosity or, but really a passion, and, and devoted literally hours a day to focus on application of this interest. And so, and it’s been very fulfilling for me, it’s brought me from being a very kind of unhappy, confused, mixed up kid to, you know, pretty happy guy. And, you know, I use the word happiness sort of tritely, but it’s, it’s a lot more than that, obviously. So, it’s an honor to be able to have conversations with people like you and all the people that I talk to every week. It’s, it’s a surreal, real joy for me. And it’s a joy to be, you know, I sometimes have the thought that, in our own ways, each of us is kind of a tool of the Divine. Like, I like to think of it that way. You know, that you know, that beautiful prayer by St. Francis. Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. And it goes on to, you know, where there’s, you know, sadness, let me so, so happiness or whatever, however, the poem goes, and I’ve kind of always wanted to embody that sentiment ever since I was a teenager just sort of make my life be kind of a contribution to the world as much as I could make it. You know what I mean? I bet you feel that way, too.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I feel that To, we’re all doing our little bit, there’s there is a phenomenon of the wisdom of the ACE coming to the west. And there’s so much to be done all the little bits and pieces and you’re doing what you’re doing. And it’s not a matter of who’s doing it. Am I doing the right thing? But we’re all doing our bit. Yeah. And and we’re all I feel sort of a product of the ages, our age is a product of who we are. And if I wasn’t doing this song, I would be doing effectively the same thing. It’s not personal. We’re all doing the bit, whatever is assigned to us. And doing that as best we can have my cards is that desireless action without getting focused on the on the results of our work.
Rick Archer: There’s a cool story in one of the Vedic scriptures, I think it might be the Srimad Bhagavatam where Indra became jealous of Krishna because Krishna had all these devotees in Rinda Vaughn, who loved him so much, and Indra felt like oh, you know, Who’s he? I mean, what about me. And so he started to pour down all this rain on the village, and just it was inundating the village and everybody’s going to drown. And so all the devotees of Krishna pray to Him to save them. And he just took this mountain and lifted it up and held it, held it above the villages and umbrella, you know, with one hand, and then after a while, the villagers thought, well, that’s very heavy mountain, you know, we better we better help them. So they all grabbed sticks and held them up to sort of hold the mountain up. So it wouldn’t strain Christians wrist or something. And they all felt like they were doing something. But of course, it was Krishna doing. It wasn’t. So you and I and all of us were just kind of holding up our sticks.
Peter Fenner: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Okay, great. So is there anything else? I’m sure that I mean, usually, after hanging up on these interviews, I think, Oh, I wish I’d asked that. Is there. Is there anything that you feel like, want to throw in there before we wrap it up?
Peter Fenner: I just, I just appreciation. That’s the word appreciation for everyone who’s holding up the stick everyone who’s helping in this profound movement. Yeah, Brilli will be already is important part of human history. And appreciating all of it how, when we began, it wasn’t quite as easy to make the connections and it was often a bit of a struggle to. And so there’s already been an amazing contribution over 40 years. So acknowledging everyone and acknowledging how it moves forward from here, and how it’s through your work, and so on really diffusing much more widely into the population.
Rick Archer: And so if some people want to plug in more to what you’re doing, participate in some way with what you’re offering, what what what is there they can do?
Peter Fenner: Yes, to a website, I guess, easiest website to remember, which will take them to three or four websites that we have with just what is wisdom.org is the easiest one to remember. wisdom.org
Rick Archer: Okay, and I’ll be linking to that, of course, from from your page on batgap.com. So wisdom, that org and then what kinds of things would they find if they I mean, you’re in Australia, right? Yeah, I
Peter Fenner: think the audios that sounds true produced. People really enjoy them. I have people, you know, that I meet and say, wow, I’ve been listening to your audios for a year. And I go, what I mean, how do you how do you do that? You know, that’s fantastic. And you know, they say it’s everything from they’ve helped me sleep, they’ve helped me drink less. They’ve really helped me on my path. So I thought it’s all non dual that it seems to have something more in it than just a non dual. So I would say yeah, the audio. And then there are conference calls that a lot of them come out of Portland that people can connect to. So if they email Yes, wisdom.org I will get them on to Heartland calls. I do video calls not. I’m not sure when I’ll be back in the US. I also do an advanced program, natural awakening, which is teaching people how to do the type of non dual transmission that I do. That’s what I put a lot of work into in recent years. More teaching teachers Teaching facilitators
Rick Archer: is all this stuff done in person like in or you do it remotely.
Peter Fenner: It’s based on three workshops at that particular course runs over 10 months, three, four day workshops, and then a lot of other components, what we call the non dual coaching lab, designed by my wife. So that’s like an intense process that we do in person and by phone, small groups, conference calls, projects that people work on.
Rick Archer: Okay, so it sounds like people can go to your website and explore all the possibilities. Some of it, some of it may involve flying to Australia or something. But others. There’s got to be over the phone or Skype or whatever. Yeah, yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, great. And you come to the States once in a while to Europe? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Okay, great. Well, um, there’s, I should mention that there’s a page on BatGap under the past interviews, section, which says has like geographic locations or something, and, and you’ll be adding information there. But if you type in a location, such as London, you’ll you’ll automatically see a list of the teachers who are going to be doing something in London or come there regularly. And then you can go to their websites to get the details on what they might be doing. So we’ll have Have you put in your information on that. All right. Well, thanks, Peter. Really appreciate spending some time with you. Yeah. And we’ll probably run into each other in person one of these days.
Peter Fenner: Yeah, that would be great. Yeah, I look forward to that. That’d be wonderful.
Rick Archer: Let me make just a couple of general wrap up points. So I’ve been speaking with Peter Fenner. And I think you must know that by now, this is a this interview has been one and an ongoing series. And we have them planned well into the future. I hope to continue doing this for many years. I love doing it. And it seems to be beneficial for people. If you want to explore the archives of ones that have been done, go to batgap.com. Look under the past interviews menu, and you’ll see them organized in four or five different ways. And then there’s also a future interviews menu, which shows what’s upcoming. And there’s a Donate button which I appreciate people clicking if they can to help support this. There’s a place to sign up for email notification of each new interview. There’s an audio podcast and a link page dedicated to various ways to sign up for that. And a bunch of other stuff. If you explore the menus, there’s even like a ringtone for your cell phone if you want to download it. Next week, it’s going to be Bonnie Greenwell who has written a couple of books about Kundalini and has been through a whole lot of experiences herself and then made that her life’s focus to understand Kundalini and and you know, has interviewed 1000s People who have had all kinds of Kundalini awakening. So that should be interesting, because I get emails from people saying what is happening to me, you know, like, I can’t sleep, my legs are thrashing. I feel like I’m having seizures or something. But I know it’s not that and so this is something that probably one should have in one’s collection of understanding in case one encounters it. interesting topic. So that’s all due next week. So thanks for listening or watching. Thanks again, Peter. Yeah, it’s a pleasure. And we’ll see you all next week.
Peter Fenner: Okay, thanks, Rick.
Rick Archer: You’re welcome. Bye.