Richard Schooping Transcript

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Richard Schooping Interview

Rick:  So welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest this week is Richard Shooping, whom I have promised on two previous occasions was going to be next week’s guest, but finally he’s this week’s guest. So welcome Richard, good to have you.

Richard:  Thank you, it’s wonderful to be here.

Rick:  Yeah, and I found out about Richard because he was watching one or more of the shows we’ve been doing and got in touch with me and said, “Hey, would you like to interview me?” So I checked out his website a little bit and it looks like he has a very interesting story, which I think you’re all going to find fascinating. He’s also written a book. And what’s the title of your book again?

Richard:  “From Suffering to Soaring Through God I Transcended AIDS.”

Rick:  So “From Suffering to Soaring Through God I Transcended AIDS.” And I was just looking, a few minutes ago I was looking at the feedback you had gotten on your book and people were really appreciative of it. They say you’re a very good writer and people were moved to tears repeatedly while reading it and so on. So maybe I’ll read it myself. Sounds very good and I’m sure many of our guests will be interested. So you told me earlier that you had AIDS and that you had a spiritual awakening as a result of which you no longer had AIDS. Is that correct?

Richard:  That’s right. It just left my reality. At one moment it was there and I was dying and I was suffering and the next it was gone.

Rick:  So let me ask a very mundane, skeptical question to just get this out of the way. Did you have it medically confirmed that you definitely did have AIDS and have you had it medically confirmed that you now definitely don’t have AIDS by the traditional, down to earth, regular doctors?

Richard:  Yeah, I was under allopathic care, took the prescribed cocktail medications for AIDS, told many times I was going to pass, had the double pneumonia, had cancer. Pretty much my body was just breaking down at a very rapid rate. But to answer the second part of the question, I have no desire, nothing inspires me to look further into it now. It’s just I listen to my body in this moment, I respond to my body in this moment and that’s the depth that I go with the story.

Rick:  Are you taking any medications?

Richard:  No.

Rick:  And how long has it been since you’ve had any kind of symptoms or complications that would be attributed to AIDS?

Richard:  I had double pneumonia in 2007 and I was hospitalized, signed papers, said you’re not going to make it, blah, blah, blah. I was out in five days, lungs healed in about three months and ever since then my body has just become more and more vital.

Rick:  So it’s been about three years since you’ve had anything that would be symptomatic of AIDS?

Richard:  Yes.

Rick:  Cool. Alright, so let’s get to the back story. Had you always been a spiritual person or did getting sick kind of scare the bejesus out of you and make you a spiritual person? What happened? How did this all come about?

Richard:  You know, I always had a pretty good connection with some inner qualities. Natural compassion, laughter, funny, love my family, love my friends, wrote music, sang before I could talk. I basically just at a young age and continually began to carry the burdens of the world. What I thought were the burdens of the world. I kind of came in this big golden angel with a sword and I’m going to save the world. I thought I was trying to but you know life just continually started to slow me down until I got to a point of pure exhaustion where I stopped looking, seeking, because I didn’t have a choice. I was going to die. So what is going on? Why am I going to die? I wasn’t really on any type of spiritual quest. I just, like you said, I became so ill that I had to start paying attention to my own reality or I was going to lose my body.

Rick:  As John Lennon put it, “Life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.” When you say you came in with a golden sword ready to save the world and you had that attitude from a young age, what do you mean by that exactly? For instance, when you were 10 years old and you said you were feeling the weight of the world, were you feeling, “Oh my God, there’s all these wars taking place and people are starving.” You were kind of acutely aware of all that stuff, even as a child?

Richard:  Yeah, much more as a child. It was almost like I didn’t have an emotional skin. I didn’t have anything to guard me. So I felt everything. If people yelled, I would cry. If I saw something on the news and bombs going off and some war, I would cry. It would just happen. One day my mom sat me down when I was 10 and basically said, “Unless you build a shell, you’re not going to survive this earth.”

Rick:  That’s amazing. Did you mainly feel the pain of the world when you saw it through the media or in your environment, people suffering? Or did you even feel like if you were sitting alone in your room, not watching TV or anything, could you somehow feel all that pain out there in the vast, big world? And it was sort of impinging on you, even in that quiet privacy?

Richard:  No, no. I was in my own world completely. If anything, I felt like I was behind a little thin veil of plexiglass, just watching it all. So when I wasn’t paying attention to it, I was fine. I’d daydream, I’d play in my room, get in my closet, read comic books. It’s just when I went out into it, I always felt like an alien. All my poetry was like, “I’m the blue being and all the pink people are running around the planet.”

Rick:  Did you write poetry as a child?

Richard:  Yeah, and especially in my 20s, I just started writing hundreds of poems every month. I began to purge and heal on levels I wasn’t even aware of.

Rick:  Have you published any of that?

Richard:  I attempted to, but because I was always singing in bands, I used to do that lyrically. Again, I would write a poem and it would just be for me in that moment. Then I suddenly had a stack of poetry like this, and I lost it. I’ve lost everything I’ve owned a few times, so it helps you not be attached.

Rick:  I know how that is. When did you get into music?

Richard:  I was singing before I could talk. My dad was a professional jazz piano player. He had a quartet and a symphony, and I’d get up and sing on stage with him. There was always music in our house, so I got in my first band when I was in eighth grade. I kept being in different progressive bands, different stylistic bands. I have always expressed musically, it’s just always pertained to my state of consciousness.

Rick:  I see you have a keyboard in the background there, so you’re a keyboard player in addition to a singer?

Richard:  Yeah, I would say I’m predominantly a keyboard by technical means. I write through all instrumentation when I program music.

Rick:  You’ve got some CDs out, I think, right?

Richard:  I do. This song we sing is for sale, and I have a new one be here now. I’ve just been giving it away at this point.

Rick:  As usual, after the interview, when we have a thing up on the BatGap website, we’ll link to your songs and your website and all that stuff. You have some YouTube videos, we’ll link to all that for the benefit of people listening. You may have just said this, but pre-AIDS, pre-getting sick, did you have a spiritual practice or path, or were you reading spiritual books? Or were you just enjoying life?

Richard:  I was just enjoying life. Life would bring me books here and there, and I’d read it, or maybe a chapter of it. A lot of times I’d just pick up a book and go, “Oh, that’s a cool book,” and I wouldn’t even read it. It didn’t stop, because I was doing it.

Rick:  When you got sick, how much do you want to dwell on the whole sickness phase? I imagine you talk about it in your book, getting cancer and going through all this stuff. What aspect of all that do you feel would be worth mentioning in this interview, or do you want to just get right on to having come out of it, whatever you feel?

Richard:  We’re here now, in this moment, spontaneously. Basically, we’re more. We are more than AIDS. That’s the simplest message on just one tiny expression of life that came through AIDS and cancer, and shows you there’s another journey you can take when dealing with it. It happens to your body, and you can actually realize more of yourself through it, once you let it happen.

Rick:  So in other words, you’re saying that if you approach it in the right way, or deal with it in the right way, it can actually be an evolutionary process, is that what you’re saying?

Richard:  Yeah. Through gratitude, the grace will reveal itself.

Rick:  And of course, there are all kinds of accounts of people having spontaneous remissions from cancer and from various serious diseases, not always by virtue of some spiritual awakening, but these things do happen, so it’s not unheard of. Since you had this experience yourself, did you investigate a little bit and become more aware of how widespread this kind of thing may actually be?

Richard:  Yeah. AIDS became my reality a long time ago. I lost three lovers over nine years, and one died of AIDS. And so I was involved in all of that, and every bit of it was an education. And so when my own suffering began, I did nothing but exhaustive research into every vein of existence, trying to find how am I going to survive.

Rick:  And so, when you did finally have this spiritual awakening, was it by virtue, do you think, of all this research and investigation you had been doing, or did it just kind of hit you out of the blue, just one morning you woke up to it?

Richard:  Well, as my mind calmed, there was just a slow awareness of being more present. But the actual shift, which was a literal shift in a loud, silent explosion, is probably the best way I can explain it, just happened.

Rick:  Why did your mind calm? Why was your mind getting more calm?

Richard:  Well, I had started to realize I had all these personalities in my head. There was the nurse, there was the savior, there was a student, there was a philosopher, the brother, blah, blah, blah. And they were all arguing amongst themselves, and they were all attached to different stories in the world. I was insane. And so once I started to absolve that…

Rick:  You and seven billion other people, by the way.

Richard:  Yeah. I mean, well, know thyself. You’re in the world. And so once I started to understand these personalities, how they had been created, I forgave them. I realized it was about self-love, and that the world was just showing me what I believed myself to be. My mind began to calm more and more. And it’s just like if you’re standing in front of a hundred mirrors, and your attention is looking at every mirror, you forget that you’re actually standing before the mirrors. So as all these reflections start to unify, and now it’s just you looking in a mirror, you become self-conscious that you’re looking in a mirror, and that’s when you wake up.

Rick:  Interesting. There’s a verse from the Gita that just came to mind when you said that. It’s something like, “Many branched and endlessly diverse are the intellects of the irresolute, but the resolute intellect is one-pointed.” I agree. It’s a much more simple way of explaining it. That’s quite lovely, but yeah.

Richard:  Yeah, that’s cool. And so this didn’t happen through any kind of spiritual meditative practice. It just happened through the insight. You just looked within, as it were, and began to see what was going on, and enabled your…

Rick:  You went through a kind of self-simplification process, through a sort of introspection. Could you say that? Would that be correct?

Richard:  I would. I was doing Vipassana. My brother had showed me that. For some reason, out of all the other things that I had read, it just seemed so natural. I just sat there and became aware, and I realized that my body isn’t just a body. It’s a reflection of my mind. So if I would be scanning my body, and I’d get to my left ribs and they would hurt, it would open up a whole door, and I realized it was just like a holographic library system going on. And so, like you say, it was the unlearning that made me present to myself. Because everything you want to learn, that’s your personality that’s learning another thing. It’s not your awareness that is watching the personality do this. It started to just become an unlearning of what I thought was healing, what I thought was spiritual, what I thought was enlightenment. And that is when my own awareness started to become more present within my experience.

Rick:  How rigorous was your Vipassana practice? Were you practicing an hour a day or some such thing, or what?

Richard:  About 45 minutes a day. But it was quick. I started meditating, and then I really started getting self-sensitive within just a couple of months. It was just time. I felt like, if you want to say this, the veil was really thin because I was so ill. And I was laying in a bed, and I was on a body cast, and blah, blah, blah. I wasn’t pushing back. I wasn’t holding the wall up. So really, it seemed like the moment I put my attention there, it just happened.

Rick:  Why the body cast? Did you break things?

Richard:  Yeah, this all started because in 2001 I fell down a mountain snowboarding here in Michigan. My immune system was already destroyed from my mentality, and I physically crushed myself, broke everything off, and it just put me in bed. I stopped watching television, and I started watching my mind.

Rick:  Interesting. I instructed a guy in meditation once who was in a body cast. I was teaching TM at a prep school.

Richard:  I was in a self-body cast.

Rick:  This guy was like in a heart. He was like the mummy. I was staying in an infirmary at this school because I needed a place to stay while I was teaching this course. I stuck my head in the door, and he said, “What are you doing here?” I said, “I’m teaching meditation. Do you want to learn?” And he said, “Yeah!” So I cranked him up a little bit and did the whole thing. It was sort of like somehow the situation that his life had come to brought him to a state of readiness, and turned around his wild and crazy ways and made him a seeker. He had this whole stack of spiritual books on his bedside. It seems that happens to people sometimes. It’s like life smacks you round enough, you say, “Okay, I’m ready.”

Richard:  Right, yeah. So, okay, the veil was thin, you were doing vipassana for a few months, and then you say the veil broke, or you pierced it or something.

Rick:  Yeah.

Richard:  Describe that experience, or that situation.

Rick:  Yeah, there’s a lot to it, of course. It’s a whole rocket ride. I can look back in retrospect and tell you certain things about it.

Richard:  Let’s go into it a little bit. We have time. Let’s talk about it.

Rick:  Well, really what happened is each time I had this inner understanding of … I used to think I was judging the world, and then I realized, “Wait, I’m just judging myself.” And so once I started to water the seed of myself, if you will, that’s when that real nurturing started to happen. When I started to love myself, I realized, “Wait a minute, nobody else is even here.” Everything is neutral, and I’m overlaying my drama over it, so I don’t even experience it. That’s crazy. And so I just started … it was like a rocket ride. It was almost like I was going through layers of space in my mind. I would come to something, and I would forgive myself for being angry and a bit great or something, and it would be an expansion. And the more I did that, the more I realized I wasn’t the objects in my space, I was the space containing it. And it went from … I read some things. I hadn’t read Advaita or anything like that, so after I “had a big clarity happen,” I realized it was very much like that, because I started to just wonder, “Well, who’s still aware?” Who’s looking at this in my mind right now? Somehow the ocean started to become conscious of me. I felt like the waves back to being the space. I mean, I wouldn’t even feel my throat. I could sit there and go, “Wow, why do I understand what it would be like to have a galaxy in my throat?” I feel the galaxy. That’s insane. I had an opening in my crown chakra, whatever you want to call it, upper higher light. I could start to feel it. And the stories just started to go. It’s amazing. The moment I was going to step into something, it was gone. I started to break. I was doing Hindu chanting. And it’s like the moment I was even thinking about letting that become a structure, I would see through. I would realize that I was seeking again. And that’s what happened. It just continually happened more and more. I expanded out more and more. And then I kind of went to this void, like there was nothing, and it was petrifying. And it was just like, I can’t even explain it. It was just like there was nothing anymore at all. It was almost like there wasn’t even awareness. And then I was sitting in my office here on the floor, and I wasn’t even meditating. I was just kind of sitting in this space. And it was really a discernible shift within. And I just started to laugh, because I realized I had been looking for myself the whole time. Rick: Interesting. I’m going to rehash some of what you just said and have you elaborate on parts of it, because that’s very fascinating. So first of all, you were saying that it always fascinates me when I meet people who just seem to be on this fast-track program of evolution. And they just have an insight, and it’ll be a breakthrough, and they’ll have another insight, and it’ll be a breakthrough. And it’s almost like their whole world kind of shifts every time they have a little bit of a deeper insight. And I’ve had some other friends who are like that too. I sometimes feel somewhat envious that my world is not quite so malleable as theirs seems to be. But anyway, that’s fascinating. So then what you were saying was you would begin to acquire an interest in a particular thing, like Reiki or Hindu chanting, and you’d just have a taste of it, and you’d see that that wasn’t necessary because you had already reached the fulfillment of what that could give you. Is that correct? It’s almost like, “All right, I don’t need to do Reiki because I can see where that could possibly lead me, and I’m already there, let’s try the next thing.” Yeah, or it was more, “I was trying to do it to make myself whole instead of just enjoy it. I didn’t want to fall into the pattern again of looking within it for my own wholeness.” The beauty is, once you have your own self-love and your own sense, you can go back and everything becomes a gift. So, in other words, there would be no harm in you doing Reiki or Hindu chanting or whatever you wanted to do now, but it would be more like icing on the cake. It would be sort of like just an adjunct to the awareness of wholeness that you live naturally. You wouldn’t regard it as a technique or path to that wholeness. Is that fair to say? Yes. Yeah, okay, good. That’s an interesting insight because there are a lot of people who have spiritual awakenings and they begin to poo-poo techniques and practices and seeking and the whole deal. I tend to take exception to that because I sort of feel like if a person feels motivated to do such a thing and if they feel like they do need to seek, let them seek. If they reach a point at which they don’t feel they need to seek, they won’t. Or if they don’t feel they need to practice this or that, they won’t. But if somebody wants to be a meditator or a chanter or a Reiki practitioner or a yoga practitioner or a fundamentalist Christian or whatever floats their boat, I figure that’s appropriate for their stage of experience or development, whatever that may be, until it’s not, until maybe something else, it’s time for them to move on to something else. Would you agree with that? I agree completely. The ocean teaches us that all the different waves are all working together. They’re not all the same size. There it is. Yeah, and it’s never going to be that we all become a such and such. We’re all not going to march in step with the exact same practices or beliefs. There’s white blood cells, red blood cells, hair follicles, DNA. All kinds of stuff. It’s the one body. Good. Well, that’s a broad perspective, and I appreciate that. And not all spiritual teachers talk that way. I mean, a lot of them have a certain realization, and I’m not implying you’re a spiritual teacher. I don’t know whether you are or not. But a lot of people have a certain realization, and they kind of feel like, “I want to get into this one size fits all attitude where meditation is bunk, gurus are bunk, there’s no such thing as God, there’s no such thing as reincarnation because the world’s an illusion, and there’s no one home.” Or they kind of hammer away at a particular way of seeing things. To me it does not do justice to the diversity and intricacy and beauty and intelligence of life, which is by, quite obviously if we look around, very rich and diverse by nature. It’s just the way the universe is. And so it stands to reason that the diversity of human beings and spiritual practices is going to be a natural thing. Yes, I agree. Okay, I’m talking too much. I got some feedback after the last interview from this friend of mine who said, “You talk too much, why don’t you just let them… I know what you think, let’s keep hearing what they think.” My wife often says this too after these, she overhears me doing these things. So, let’s dwell more on your experience. You touched upon some beautiful things, the hole opening at the top of your head, and vastness, and galaxy in your throat. What can you tell us, unpack it as much as you possibly can, in terms of just all the beautiful little flavors and stages of your awakening. Oh, you know, there weren’t any angels. Pardon me? There weren’t any angels that didn’t show up in my office. Big lights in the sky. Really just the unraveling of my mind, which is what was intense. To at one moment have a certain identity and a concept of yourself, and then to have it instantly change, I mean, that’s amazing. There were so many times I thought I’d never open my eyes. I did. I thought I was going to go to India and leave everybody and everything. I didn’t. I thought I was going to live in a cave, go to Nepal, go to Fiji. Because you start to get to these really deep spiritual beliefs in your mind. Once you start to get to those, you get frightened because you’re like, “Well, if I’m not that, what’s left?” And that keeps happening more and more, and it’s fast, too, because there’s almost like a gravity that occurs. Even physics shows us this. Once you get over 50%, 100 wants to pull you up to the next one. We’re not really growing. We’re being called up in vibration, through light, and that’s how I kind of started to experience everything as light and presence, because it is. Yeah. And so that is what was so shocking. I had all these big hang-ups about being a gay man, huge hang-ups. I was like, “I can’t be the next Christ being a gay man, blah, blah, blah.” Once I forgave myself for that and I got out of that story, I could see that I was love expressing now as a male human body. And so those are the things that happened. And as I kept going out more and more, I became lighter. I began to heal. Like I said, I realized I had to own everything to arrive at the present, and then I could just throw it all away again, because nobody ever stepped in my footsteps. No matter how much you imagine, there’s not something coming in and walking for you. You’ve made every step, so you’ve created your reality up until this point. The problem is you disown it, and you wait for somebody to come and heal you, and then you die. It’s like if you have library books, you check them out, and you have three books, and you give one to a friend, and you give two back to the library, you’re going to be fine until that other book comes in. So it’s pretty much that simple. And so once I got to the present moment, that is when I was more than the tangle of my mind, because it’s kind of like when you’re in it, holding it all together, and you’re a part of it. But when you can observe it, it just starts to naturally disentangle, because your energy is holding it together, because life wants to flow. And so that’s what basically began to happen. I would just observe it more and more, neutrally, and I wouldn’t knee-jerk into another attachment. If something came up in my consciousness, I would just observe it. And the more I did that, the more it would just not be anywhere as dramatic as it was before, because again, it wants to just flow, because I stopped holding on to things. And that’s amazing. It’s beyond words. Because you realize that you wanted to know who you are for so long that you just habitually were looking outside of yourself, and you were attaching to everything, every guru, and who knows. But when you have that center in yourself, when you become aware that you don’t want to do anything, you realize you are exactly where you are, and it’s perfect, because that’s what’s occurred. So, it’s interesting. So you said that prior to your breakthrough, you went through a phase of fear. There was like this terror or something. And then you kind of broke through and the terror dissipated. That’s something I commonly hear. For instance, Swamiji, whom I interviewed a couple of weeks ago, said the same thing happened to her. She was sitting on the banks of the Ganges in Rishikesh, and this abject terror overcame her. But then that dissipated, and she broke through and had her awakening. And others have said that too. Suzanne Siegel, who wrote a book called Collision with the Infinite, had an experience where she kind of broke through, but she didn’t know what it was, and she went through a period of terror for ten years until she realized that it was… Jean Klein told her to stop looking back for a personal identity, and when she just kind of relaxed, then the terror went away. There’s a verse in the Upanishad which says, “Certainly all fear is born of duality.” And it almost seems like when we’re on the verge of transitioning from duality to unity, there’s this kind of… It’s like breaking the sound barrier. There’s this sort of thing we break through, where we break through that fear that is so fundamental to dualistic existence, and then we’re through, and it’s gone. It’s kind of like you’re hanging over a cliff, but your feet are just two inches from the ground below you, and you have to link up, and then you’re not on the ground. (Laughter) Yeah, interesting. And so another thing I kind of gathered from what you said is that once the… maybe this happened before the breakthrough, but it also sounded like it happened after, maybe it’s both. But once the breakthrough had happened, then things started to kind of resolve and unravel much more quickly even. Is that correct? It’s almost like the processing power got amped up considerably. You went from a… what do they call these things? A Pentium I to a Pentium IV. Yeah. And you can sort of process and deal with and resolve stuff at even a faster pace. Was that your experience? Yeah, because for a simple analogy, when you have a laser beam and you spread it out too thin, it has no power. And once you have a clarity, once it’s less refracted in the mirrors of your consciousness, it’s much more pointed. And like you said, it’s just powerful. Now you can burn right through things utterlessly. It doesn’t take all the analyzing anymore. And not that there was a lot of analyzing, but there is in the beginning, because you even have to just find out, “I’m in a forest.” Before that, you’re just lost. Then afterwards, it’s like something comes up and this awareness just goes, “Whoop!” and it’s gone. It could have been a 10,000-year story. Who knows? It could have been this amazing path. But awareness recognizes its own wholeness, so it doesn’t even understand that that’s a path. Yeah. It’s like that verse in the Gita again, “The resolute intellect is one-pointed.” It’s not diverse. No, and then what’s interesting, it can’t be, and there is only one point. Right. Interesting. My wife is watching something in the other room and laughing, if you can hear that. So, how did your life reorient itself after this awakening? For one thing, obviously, you seemed to get out of the AIDS dilemma. That must have been a big reorientation. Do you feel like you came through this vortex and on the other side of it, a whole new life opened up with new possibilities? You put your disease behind you. What impact did it have on your writing, on your music, on all that stuff? Yeah, everything. At every moment, we’re expressing what we realize ourselves to be. When I was ill, I wrote about five or six albums and it was really all my pain, my frustration, worshipping my heroes. And then once I had the new album come to me, after having this kind of clarity and this absolution of my personalities, my music became much more universal. It became “This song we sing” instead of “I sing this song.” Nice. Do you have a listenership? Do you play in a band? Did you still fit into that band or did you need to get with a new bunch of guys? Well, this disease and this experience naturally put me into a cocoon. What happened is I kind of popped out of it and there was an instant resonation everywhere other than all this India and all these crazy books. Everything started just popping up in my… because it’s resonance, in a very simplified way, it’s resonant. But locally, I didn’t have musicians and I still don’t really either. I just kind of sing when I’m spontaneously asked to sing. It was a huge shift because really after clarity, again, it’s almost like you wake up, you’re really believing your personality. Then you kind of wake up into a spiritual personality and then you observe everything again and you detach from that because again, you can get lost in that story forever. You can be the savior of the world, the dream savior, the super god. Thank God again, thank awareness that that was another thing. It was like I didn’t get stuck in Reiki and I didn’t get stuck in the spiritual things either. I still came out of that. Once I came out of that, that is when it became so simple. Then I started to understand what Zen was. I understood how you could just be where you are and just be. Yeah. I thought I came here to do all this work again. Oh my God, I can’t wait to go do this work, do all these projects, do all this, see everybody. But I realized, no, I came here to wake up. You came here to what? Wake up. Wake up, right. But having woken up, do you feel a sense of mission? Obviously, you’re out there. You have a website, you’ve written a book. Those are ways of reaching out to people and teaching people in a way. You’re not hitting the lecture circuit, but you’re sending a message out through your music. So you’re not sitting in a cave by any means. No, no. But I would say the one major difference is that there are expectations. I can make an album, give it away, and I’m done with it. Then I can go outside or I can go kayaking or I can paint a picture. Before, it was like, “These have to bring me something to make me joyful.” Now it’s just joy expressing itself in the moment, and that’s when you’re free. Yeah. So previously you might have had an ambition, “Okay, I’ve done this CD and I’ve got to sell X number of copies, and then we’re going to go on tour and I’m going to make this much money,” and so on and so forth. You’re doing it for the sheer joy of it or just because you’re spontaneously motivated to create, and then come what may after that. Yeah, exactly. It’s going to come through me anyway because I’m not doing any of this. It’s just when I stop and think about it, I think I am. It’s happening. Do you manage to support yourself financially with your music and your writing and stuff? What do you do about that, if I may ask? Well, it’s provided for me now through my lover, which is a part of life that I’m resonating with and traveling with, and joy. That’s another amazing thing. I was familiar. I didn’t sit around and read spiritual books all the time, but I was familiar and I understood. Like I said, when I started to really wake up, it’s like that spiritual beliefs came in. You can’t have a family, you’ve got to be alone, blah, blah, blah. But you can get through that. I mean, you can have any experience you want, your awareness. It was amazing because I used to judge my lover because he wasn’t being spiritual like me, he wasn’t doing yoga, we weren’t in India. Then when I started to have my own clarity and get over my attachments to all that, this being, this lover, began to shine brighter than my eyes could see. That’s when you realize that through the veil everything is distorted. You’re never going to see the garden through ten things of broken glass, but the minute you get rid of them, there it is. That’s what’s happening now, is we have this relationship to where he’s providing at this point because I used to. And we’re happy with it. If we stop and think about it and we measure it and we say, “You should or I should,” we’re going to suffer and go in some deep trauma. But we don’t seem to have that ability right now. We just love being loved. How long have you been together? Fifteen years next to none. Wow, that’s a long time. We have gone through it all. Yeah, not all spiritual teachers say you have to go to India and sit in a cave and give up. No, I just believe that. Yeah, yeah. And some of them do say that, obviously, but some of them don’t. Yeah, right. Because all different expressions are demanding. So you may have said this, but what year was it that you had this spiritual awakening? Three years ago or no? I would say it began the end of 2004. Okay, so about six years. And then the AIDS kind of lingered for a while, but then you kind of came out of it. Yeah, I understood the pneumonia as being an incredible purge. And it utilized my lungs. That was it. That’s just how I went into it. I was laughing, you know. I didn’t care. It’s just the body. Yeah, right. Bodies, you know. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. And what seems to be happening now? Are you just sort of resting in the wholeness and life just kind of floats along from day to day? Or do you feel like – I mean, previously, at least, the way you described it, there seemed to be this rocket ship ride of breakthroughs and realizations and awakenings and so on. Has that all kind of simmered down, or do you still feel like there’s a sense of progress going on, perhaps a more peaceful one? Well, no, the rocket ship ended. That seemed to be very intense. Maybe it was – I don’t think about it. To be honest, I just get up, I go to my day job, I work at a library part-time. I’m so grateful I can be there with everybody and help them and see them beyond who they think they are. Just kind of walk through the world and just observe it. It’s amazing. Yeah. When you do interact with people, let’s say in the library, I can relate to the point you’re making about seeing people as being more than they think they are. In fact, the first time I ever took LSD, back in 1967, around the time you were busy getting born, that morning we were up all night and then the morning we went into a donut shop and I looked at the women serving the donuts and I just kind of was amazed at what I saw in terms of how much more they were than they appeared to think they were. It was just this realization that happened. Now, ordinarily I don’t walk around seeing that all the time now, but maybe you do. You’re in a library and you’re dealing with people coming up to the counter, and what do you see when you deal with so-called ordinary people? I just see one happening. If you talk about the physical eyes, there are some things that open up. You do see more presence and things like that, but that’s just the personality that’s seeing that. The beauty is that when your personalities in your mind aren’t trying to have all these communications and arguments with everything that comes up to them, it’s just an open, clear communication in the present moment. That is how I experience people. If people walk up to me, it’s not like there’s any separation. It’s more of a gradient. It’s like you can experience them in their drama and you can experience them more than that. As if the person having the drama is like the tip of the iceberg and then there’s a much deeper thing. Yeah, exactly. And that’s a relative way to look at it, but it is kind of that holistic perspective for me. I can understand immediately what their drama is. I’m never going to say I understand their heart. I can only understand what they’re conveying to me and the feelings I get. But because I don’t get stuck in that, I don’t react, we both get a lot deeper into each other. And then that’s when you would say healing occurs, resonance occurs. So earlier in our talk, you said that when you were a child, you didn’t really have any kind of shell or filter, and you were just experiencing everything raw. And your mother told you that you better build a shell or you’re not going to make it in this world. Do you feel like you’ve come full circle now and as a result of this awakening, regain the ability to function without a shell? You’re open, but at the same time, you are not vulnerable as you once were? Yeah, because there’s nothing to be wounded by. The only time I think I’m going to be wounded is when I believe I’m real. Other than that, it’s just a neutral happening that depends on what is being overlaid on top of it, or it’s just a beautiful one that is occurring. And that’s how it is to me. When you talked about fear, I was immobilized by fear. I was constantly told I was going to die. My lovers and my best friends were all dying. Everybody was dying. I was worried about chemical trails. I was worried about everything. Oh my gosh, it was incredible how fear was my existence. You mean chemical trails in the sky? Yeah, everything. Everything was justifying my fear. My spirituality was justifying my fear because it wasn’t heaven yet. We need to make it heaven. But then one day I realized, well, if I don’t like the wallpaper here, am I going to like it in heaven? I’m never going to like it. I’m always going to find something wrong. And that is when, again, that was through the rocket ride. And then at one moment, peace isn’t created, you realize it. You can’t create it. You can only become it. You can only realize you’ve always been it. And that’s the peace. I just realized one day, if we all stopped arguing about our beliefs, peace would be. That’s it. We’re just burning out these candles. We’re burning out these flames and spraying gasoline on each other and blowtorches and lighting new candles. But until people stop doing that, they’re not going to realize it. But then again, who cares? And on the other hand, it is easier said than done. You can’t necessarily just walk into the Middle East and tell the Arabs and Israelis to just stop arguing or stop. They’re doing what they’re doing. It’s happening. But on the other hand, some people like to believe, and there seems to be some evidence of the idea that if the ambient level of consciousness in the world rises enough, then these conflicts, which seem to be intractable on their own level, will somehow miraculously begin to dissolve. Just like the Berlin Wall fell and the Soviet Union broke up. No one could have foreseen those things, but they just sort of happened when enough of a shift in consciousness had taken place. Yeah. When the One awakens, it’s done. Because there’s always going to be something perceived by the mind personality that is wrong. But if you let the ocean be … I mean, imagine if you went and you said, “Oh, this wave shouldn’t hit this one. Oh, that’s horrible. This wave shouldn’t come here.” You know? Yeah. You couldn’t even walk out of your backyard if you’re worried about the lengths of grass. You know? That drives you crazy. Yeah. Am I stepping on little bugs or whatever? Yeah. The multiplicity teaches you to let it be. And then that’s what kills the complexity. That’s what petrifies the ego, because it needs stories and complexities to exist. Yeah. In fact, that’s, I think, what very often motivates people’s conflicts with one another, is it reinforces the ego. You know? If I’m at war with you, then I’m intact. And if I’m not, then, “Whoa, what’s happening to me here? I seem to be dissipating or dissolving.” Exactly. Like the witch of the West. Yeah. When your center is external, you have to utilize the external as your food. That’s a brilliant phrase. When your center is external, you have to use the external as your food. Yeah. Interesting. Well put. Huh. What was I going to say? Anyway, say something. I lost that thought that I was going to ask you. I don’t know. It can be so simple, and we don’t need to be afraid of simplicity, because that’s our nature. Yeah. Brilliant. We think we know what our nature is, but those thoughts are just reflections of our true nature. Yeah. It seems to be easier for some people to realize this than others, and I used to be rather skeptical that this kind of talk would be of practical value to anyone, because I sort of felt like the average person really needs some kind of concrete, definite technique, practice, something or other. But look at it these days. The success of people like Eckhart Tolle, who basically just sits there on stage and talks for a couple of hours and puts everybody into a state of simple awareness. I don’t know whether people have always had this capacity or whether it’s becoming more commonplace, but someone like him wouldn’t be as popular as he is if he didn’t have an effect on people, and it seems that millions of people are amenable to being affected now in this way. I agree. He wouldn’t have an audience unless he was here, and he wouldn’t be here unless there was an audience for him. I mean, that’s how it’s working, because he’s not a piece, he’s just a part of the flower. Everything grows. Nothing in nature is stagnant, so anything within the external is going to grow, and this includes groups of consciousness, groups of human cells, whatever, human beings, this planet, to keep it simple. I mean, wisdom is on the Internet now. Yeah, it is. It’s not like 2,000 years ago when you had to be in a small group that was isolated and deep in mystery schools. So now wisdom is here, and you’re right, it is awakening at an exponential rate, because that’s what it is. It’s available, it can find itself so much quicker and through so much less dogma and less veils, because apparently that’s what’s happening. Yeah, it’s a very interesting concept. It’s almost as if the Internet is like the world’s nervous system or something, and it’s enabling communication to take place. Imagine us, a couple hundred years ago it would have taken days to get from Iowa to Detroit and having gotten there, it would be just you and I having a conversation, nobody else would be aware of it. And as it is now, we’ll have this conversation and people all over the world. I look at my Google Analytics and there are people in Russia and Portugal and Japan and Australia, all over the place listening to these things. Yeah, I agree. I have Facebook friends that we resonate at a very, very high level of understanding, at that undeniable experiential presence. It’s happening. It’s incredible. Yeah, it’s cool. And if you think of the evolutionary impulse as the fundamental motivating force of the universe, then the development of modern communication such as the Internet could be seen as an expression of that to enable it to fulfill its purpose. It’s like it needed to grow that sort of appendage, that sort of capability in order to bring about the kind of transformation that many people feel the world is undergoing. Yeah, or it’s just happening. It’s just happening. I get complicated. Well, I mean, there’s no should or shouldn’t. The personality, again, basing it on its past experiences karmically, it’s just happening. My status was, “What if today isn’t just Tuesday? What if it’s not just a day in September? What if it’s the most advanced state of evolution now occurring? How would your gratitude be?” It’s like you said, no matter what you see with your mind, it’s more. So what we’re seeing is the Internet and thinking it’s called the Internet and thinking it’s this communication. It’s still more and it’s still happening. There’s this line from The Incredible String Band, “Whatever you think, it’s more than that.” Yes, true. I don’t know if you remember The Incredible String Band, but they were great. No, I’ve heard of them. They were a British group back in the 60s. So what haven’t we covered? You have a very simple story and it’s beautiful. I feel like on the one hand I could probe you to elaborate on this experience you had and that experience you’ve had, but on the other hand it’s like you’re conveying in a very beautiful way the simplicity of your life and of your experience, and it almost seems a little bit crude to ask you to embellish that with specific experiences. There’s this kind of naturalness that you seem to be enjoying that I really appreciate. Yeah, I agree. This is our resonance. If it’s not comfortable to go deep into some recesses, we don’t need to satisfy anything, again because this is just one here. Right now I’ve created you by asking you certain questions, you’ve created me from asking certain questions, but there’s really just one. We have that resonance, that’s all that matters. There’s another line from The Incredible String Band, “Light that is one, though the lamps be many.” Yeah, right. That’s my song, “One is the Many.” That’s a new song on my album. Oh, cool. “To the seed, to the tree, to the branch, to the sky, to the rain, to the skin, to the hand, to the shovel, back to the grave and back to the seed. The one is the many, the many is the one.” Do you acknowledge the existence of levels of awareness, or do you feel like that’s just sort of a concept, that there really is only one awareness and it’s only for convenience sake that we might think of it as having levels? Yeah, I don’t even think about levels. It doesn’t make sense to me anymore. Duality, all those things, to me it’s one flowing experience. Everything else is like a … it’s all truth, it’s happening, but everything else is kind of the branches we talked about before. They’re great and you can go off of them, but what’s happening right now in this exact moment, that’s what’s happening. If I want to imagine all these levels and all these dimensions, it’s the act of imagining it that creates them. Else I’m here. Yeah, although, it’s an interesting thing. Let’s probe that for just a second. Right now, for instance, there are radio waves going through our bodies and people maybe in the next house over are listening to the radio by virtue of those radio waves that are going through our bodies. Now we’re not aware of them and their existence does not depend upon our being aware of them, so it’s not like we have created them by our awareness, but I guess what I’m getting at is there may be all sorts of realities which we’re not aware of, which exist without depending upon our being aware of them. Let’s say there are angels, let’s say the angels inhabit the world on a subtle level that most people can’t see, and if someone acquires the ability to see angels, it’s not necessarily that that person created them, it’s just that they kind of tuned into them. When microscopes were first developed and we started looking at the microscopic world and seeing all these little parameciums and things like that, they didn’t suddenly come into existence because we had a microscope, they’d been there all along, we just became aware of them for the first time. David: Yeah, that’s what I mean, where you look you’ll find, but that’s not … like you said, it doesn’t have to be your awareness now or your wholeness, it’s just where you look you’ll discover more, and it’s almost like you’re plugging your consciousness into a program. It’s like the computer, when you have programs on your computer, when they’re not running they’re not in your reality, they exist potentially, and then when you plug into them and it becomes a part of your reality, then that’s your experience. And so that’s how I experience things, you know, if angels suddenly showed up … because with clarity you do see more, there’s a lot more occurring, but you can’t go and tell the ego to look for these things because that’s just another attachment. You know, again, that’s just food for the ego. Rick: If you’re meant to experience them then you will experience them. David: Exactly, and so that’s your reality, but this is where if you start looking for things your actual looking is going to affect how you experience it. Now if it’s just your nature and you’re walking down the street and an angel pops up next to you, that’s nature occurring, and you talk and experience and then whatever else happens. But if it doesn’t happen you don’t want to suffer because of that. Rick: Right. So in other words, you’re content and complete the way you are, and whatever happens, you know, angels might start appearing tomorrow and that’ll be fine. You’ll still be content and complete, but if they don’t you’ll be no worse off for now. David: Yeah, because we’re awareness. Awareness would be a form of light, which is a form. Rick: Sure. There’s a friend of mine who likes to use the phrase that we’re all sense organs of the infinite, and if you think of it that way, think of the whole universe. I mean, I start my day by looking at the latest NASA picture of the day, which is usually like a bunch of galaxies or something like that, and consider the vastness of the universe. And here we are, in our true sense we’re vaster than that, but in terms of our being a human being with eyes and a nose and ears and so on, we’re just kind of like a little tiny perceptual pinpoint who can kind of poke around at this, that and the other thing and explore, but our fulfillment is not contingent upon that exploration. It sort of rests in something much more vast than that. David Yes, yeah. There’s so many ways that the mind tries to figure it out and look at it, and we get so many conceptual ideas. I went through so many of those, and I get attached to one for a little while, but then again, awareness would just burn it away, because something would start to move a little bit out into the center of that concept. But again, it’s like your natural awareness and presence just brings you right back. Rick It’s almost like you were trying to find yourself a little cozy cubbyhole you could hide in with this concept or that concept, but awareness kept saying, “Nope, I don’t fit into that.” David Yeah, exactly. Truly. Because it’s fun, we can have fun and think about these things, and this is a gift, man, this is Eden, truly. Once you get out of the way, once you stop judging everything, you realize how amazing it is, then you just want to go kayak. You just want to enjoy and be for people, so we don’t want to get into such a scholastic mode. We just want to let it unfold. For me, from my experience as one of the many, as you said, it’s very simple. It’s just what has happened is multidimensional. The center is in the center of everybody. And so it’s the same awareness. When we’re still and we don’t think right now together, we’re gone. It’s only awareness. It’s just as this light shines through the certain signature of your mind, it creates this experience, and then that’s all that’s happening, and we’re just reflecting everywhere. We’re going to get past the mind trap and figure it out. That’s fun. Rick That’s well put, you described it nicely. I watched a documentary about the Buddha a couple of months ago, and he obviously was a very ardent seeker and was just determined to reach enlightenment and get off the wheel of samskara, no more births and deaths and the whole thing. But then towards the end of his life, when he was nearing his death, there was a poignancy, there was a feeling that he would really like to stick around a whole lot longer because life was so much fun, it was so enjoyable to him. And I feel like I’ve gone through a transition like that myself. In my earlier days I used to feel like, “Oh man, life really is difficult and it would be so nice to just be liberated and not have to live it anymore.” And now I feel like, “Hey, if God wants me to just live life after life after life, that’s cool because it’s really so fascinating.” I’m the same way, I don’t really have any agenda. When you can just let it be, it’s amazing because you don’t even have to make really decisions like you thought you used to have, you just have to let it flow. It’s incredible. Rick: Yeah, things kind of get decided for you. There was this phrase that Maharishi Maheswari Yogi always used to use, “Take it easy, take it as it comes.” And again, that’s what the mind hates, those simple things. I remember I had read Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance when I was young, probably eighth grade or something. You go back and look at it after you’ve had clarity and you’re like, “Oh!” And it’s the same with I Am That or something. Before, you look at that book and it’s cryptic. I remember I opened up that one talks with Maharishi after I had a clarity and I was just like, “This is it!” But I never could have understood it before I had the eyes to see. Rick: Yeah, that’s a common phrase too. Jesus always used to say that, “Those who have the eyes to see or the ears to hear, let them hear or let them see.” Yeah, it’s true because senses are realization. I don’t have to think to make myself be able to see something; that’s being taken care of. I don’t have to think to hear; that’s being taken care of. So instead of going into your mind stories, when you really listen, you really feel, you really hear, that is the experience, your direct experience. It’s like the tree is out there and it’s an experience. And in the moment I overlay my belief on a tree or I put my memories on the tree, the tree is gone. But if I just go up and hug a tree, smell a tree, look closely at a tree, drink in the tree, that’s realization. Rick: Yeah, yeah. There’s something the Sargadatta once said, which was that we all digest automatically, we breathe automatically, our heart beats automatically. He said, “For me, my behavior is just as automatic as those things, my speech, my thinking, my behavior.” You feel like you’re doing things and making these decisions. For me, it’s as automatic as digestion. Yeah, right, because you don’t have to think about it, you’re in the body of the One, interacting in the One. Of course, I’m not perfect, so I can’t say everything is like that, but when your center goes back into yourself, there’s a lot more coming from you than your interpretations of the external. Yeah, I was going to ask you, do you find that occasionally this smoothness, this realization gets perturbed by anything and the boat rocks a little bit and then it has to steady out again? Waves come and waves go, and it depends on how much I cling to them that creates my experience. I don’t, seeing as you need a sense of duality to forget, and there isn’t duality in the center of your being, I don’t think it’s possible to forget. But I believe you could probably be, maybe become impassioned by a wave, but personally for me, I do experience waves. They are few and far between at this moment, but when they come through again, I just remind myself that it’s a wave. So you never went through an “I got it, I lost it” kind of a phase, just once that realization had happened, you were good? Yeah, once I shifted. Because if you draw a circle on the ground and you put a point in the middle, every line going out is going to be equidistant, and that’s the perspective. If you put the circle off a little bit, every line is different in that perspective. So if you shift to that center, every line is now equidistant. That’s a good metaphor. Good. All right, well is there anything that we haven’t covered that you’d like to cover, that you haven’t thought to ask? Like I say, no, to be honest I don’t think about this very much. It’s kind of like the burner was turned off, theoretically, the kettle is still whistling, but it seems to be a natural calming, and less … just a quieting. It’s just, again, it’s like all … You mean even greater quieting seems to be taking place? More and more quieting? Yeah, simplicity I would say. So simplicity and perhaps silence are getting more … Yeah, because you need the stories to create personality, to create conversations, else there’s stillness. Well that’s kind of what I was getting at before, in terms of do you sense a kind of a progress taking place. Progress isn’t such a good word, but there’s a deepening. I’m hearing that more from other people too, who maybe initially after their awakening thought, “Well this is it.” It’s like that beer ad where the guys are sitting out in the boat fishing, “It doesn’t get any better than this.” But then after maybe 10, 20 years they’re saying, “Well, as a matter of fact, something really profound has been taking place over the last 10, 20 years. The silence has gotten more all-encompassing or deeper,” or some such thing. Sure, I’m sure not going to say yes or no. Again, I’m just living in my moment. For me, it’s more of a dissolution, of an unraveling of what I thought reality and God was. And deep, deep within us, if you have some type of resonation and that belief is going to come across as a wave, it’s going to make your strings sound like a violin, and then you just have to let it be, and then it’s gone. And you realize that it’s always been occurring, it’s just been our attachments that’s elongated that experience of the wave. So you still feel like there’s a dissolution process taking place, an unraveling process taking place. Things come in, get dissolved, and then another one comes in, gets dissolved, periodically. Ideas, concepts, experiences, various things like that. Yes, and they all tend to be “deep spiritual beliefs,” concepts. Because again, I can be sitting here aware. I’m always aware, but that has not left. You know it can’t, you’re not looking out. Again, I mean, if somebody walks by naked, you’re going to, you know, it catches you because that’s the personality. The difference is, “Oh my God, I’ve got to go find you, I’ve got to call you, I’ve got to do you.” Or it’s like, “There went a body.” You know, that’s what happens being a human being, the sense is, “Follow these things, pick them up.” Sure, I mean, if you’re hungry, you want a sandwich or something. If the house is on fire, you’re going to run out. Yeah, if you want to just walk across the street and eat an apple in the park, it’s like, “Oh, is it what the Guru did this? Would Jesus do this? Is this right?” And then you’re immobilized and you start to “deaf spiritually,” quote-unquote. But just walk over and eat the flippin’ apple and do the karma. You know, that’s the difference. It’s like we really are simple. It’s so simple you can’t see it. That’s why you have to be it. Yeah, so in other words, your life is not – I’m speaking – your life is not being motivated by concepts. It’s just sort of being lived in a simple way. That’s all you’re saying. Yeah, responding to the wind that’s happening now. Yeah, and if you find yourself kind of getting tugged around by a concept, perhaps that you might have been unaware of before, you’re more acutely aware of that now, and so you see through it. It unravels and then that one can no longer tug you around. Right, because once you absorb that energy within yourself that was calling that out – or like an antenna, in a rudimentary way to say it – but once you change your frequency, you go to a more holistic frequency, you’re not going to experience that. It’s like a certain satellite dish is tuned to a certain frequency and that’s where it experiences, so once you change it, you’re not going to experience it. To our conversation about angels or not angels. Sure. Good. All right, well, I think we could sort of go on like this, spinning this concept around and around, but I think we’ve done justice to it. Yeah, I’ve enjoyed myself. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. So I will – you never know where people are hearing these things because they’re in several different places and people can forward them around, but there’s, B-A-T-G-A-P, where all these things are archived, and then there’s a YouTube channel, I put them all there. I put them on Facebook and so I’ll be uploading these videos to Facebook, but I’ll tag you in them so they’ll show up on your Facebook page in the video section. Your Facebook friends can watch them there if they want to. And you’ll send me some information, we’ll link to your website, your YouTube videos and so on, and so people can explore the world of Richard Schuping. Well, thank you very much. So you’ve been listening to or watching Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest again has been Richard Schuping. Thank you. You’re welcome. (end)