068. Richard Sylvester

Richard SylvesterRichard Sylvester is a humanistic psychologist, therapist and lecturer. For thirty years he engaged with a variety of spiritual practices while also training in psychotherapeutic techniques and teaching counselling. In 2002 Richard met Tony Parsons and as he writes in his first book “That was the end of what I thought had been my life.”

Richard writes “The most common misconception about liberation is that it is something an individual can gain. But actually it is a loss – the loss of the sense that there ever was a separate person who could choose to do something to bring about liberation. In liberation it is seen that thoughts, feelings and perceptions simply arise in Oneness – there is no one to whom they belong.

“The sense of separation makes us take the everyday for granted and clamour for something more exciting to happen. But when separation is seen through, the ordinary becomes transformed into this wonderful play of consciousness, and it is seen that this is already it and this is already sufficient.

“This is a recurring message. It overthrows all authority. It can’t be killed off. It requires nothing. It requires no churches, no philosophical tracts, no scriptures, no history. If everything that had ever been said or written about non-duality were to disappear in a moment, it would simply re-emerge. It would re-emerge because nothing has to be learnt, nothing has to be studied, nothing has to be done, no spiritual purification and no pleasing of God has to take place, for the seeing of liberation to occur. It arises spontaneously. One moment there’s somebody there, the next moment there isn’t. One moment there’s somebody crossing a field, the next moment there’s just crossing a field.”

Richard has written three books about non-duality, ‘I Hope You Die Soon’, ‘The Book Of No One’ and ‘Drink Tea, Eat Cake’.  He gives talks on non-duality in England and abroad. If you would like to know more, please visit www.richardsylvester.com or www.richardsylvester.co.uk.

Interview recorded 5/8/2011.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast. Due to technical problems, this video only contains still shots of Richard, while Rick’s video is normal.

Note from Rick: I may sound a bit argumentative in this interview, but that was not my sentiment. I do not doubt Richard’s realization and I appreciate the clarity of his expression, but I do doubt and question the tendency of some speakers to offer a description of the awakened state as a prescription, or to state that nothing can be prescribed, and that spiritual practices and realization are unrelated. I felt the interview would be more interesting and authentic if I honestly aired these doubts and questions, so I did, and a lively discussion ensued which we both enjoyed. In fact, Richard suggested that we do a follow-up interview, which we will eventually.

104 thoughts on “068. Richard Sylvester

  1. p.s. When I said “Oh, so portentously”: I was referring to the ‘sayer of the saying’; not to YOU!

  2. Sorry, but in a debate you make your position clear and debate specific points. We don’t even have clear positions yet. You’ve said you’re familiar with the subject matter yet keep making statements that indicate you’re not.

    For example, Shankara is held as one of the greatest proponents of non-duality, a major theme of interviewees here. In the example I used, he is describing a key aspect of the unfolding (transpersonal) stages. And you suggest he’s “off his trolley”.

    A change in being changes our relationship with reality and thus our perception of it. This is what I mean by Transpersonal stages and what Spiritual Awakening means on this site. This is much more than a new concept of self or philosophy.

    Here’s the thing – until you recognize your cosmic nature, you experience a personal self or me. When you recognize your cosmic nature, then it is seen through and can be recognized as an illusion. But believing it is an illusion before it is the experience is delusional. It can be useful to point it out to help the process but making it a belief is just a concept, not reality.

    If you want a debate, you’re going to need to become familiar with what you’re discussing. Otherwise we’ll just continue in circles of misunderstanding.

  3. It seems to me that you haven’t read. or at least haven’t understood the initial point I was making, as you have again stated that prior to recognizing what you call your ‘cosmic nature’, you experience a personal self or me.
    I am saying that you don’t and, in point of fact cannot experience a personal self or me. You can only define it academically as a mind-body organism and, as I’ve alluded to, I do assure you that will remain the case, as I’ve said, until you’re in the coffin. Regardless of what ‘state of consciousness’ you consider yourself to be in.
    It is precisely because I am ‘familiar with the subject matter’ that I am well aware that what you consider to be your superior knowledge is ‘familiarizing’ yourself with what supposed Authorities have said and then quoting them at me. But this is not ‘knowledge’ at all. And what you’re actually doing in this case is ‘trying to teach your Grandmother to suck eggs’.
    I am also perfectly well aware of who Shankara was and what I know of him (or at least what he supposedly said): I don’t like. Not least because much of it would appear to me to be patently untrue. Not to mention unintelligible. And by the way, there are no ‘proponents of non-duality’.
    But it would appear that you are not entitled to a view on this, because you are confusing what such and such a supposed authority has said with truth. Which, by the way (while there’s nothing wrong with listening to others) , you can only find out FOR YOURSELF.
    But: you are right. There’s not much point in discussing much of anything with the Turkeycocks of so-called Non-duality. One can only stand back and allow this infantile departure in incoherent thought play itself out. As it will.

  4. Rick: I just viewed this interview today (and Tony Parson’s yesterday – I must say you did a masterful job with a rather challenging interviewee!) and am curious if you have changed your position on the beneficence of Sadhana?

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