099. Robert Wolfe

Robert WolfeMore than twenty years ago, my (second) wife and I divorced, after ten years of marriage. We both had, originally, looked forward to our years ahead with each other, and had planned for a comfortable retirement. I was in my early forties when we married, and I focused my attention on a career (as an insurance agent) so that we might further our goals. In so doing, I put aside what had been a primary interest prior to my marriage and this career: the “spiritual pursuit”, for enlightenment.

After we divorced, I recognized that I had some unfinished business: it revolved around “the meaning of life”, which is at the bottom of the spiritual pursuit—to which I returned.

As soon as our house was sold, I took my share of the equity and bought a fully-equipped camper van. I parked it on the property of an absentee friend in the redwood forest, near where I had been living in Northern California. I lived there in virtual solitude: reading, contemplating, taking walks for hours in the forest. At the end of three years, something suddenly fell into place. The spiritual quest resolutely came to an end. I discovered the actuality which is inescapable.

The inseparability of all things, which has been referred to persistently by mystic sages for 3,500 years of our written history, is commonly spoken of as “oneness” (or Oneness). There is an aspect of this oneness which is rather apparent to most any attentive mind. But the aspect which seems to give many of us some difficulty has to do with our personal, individual relationship to this oneness. This latter aspect is the matter which had now become clarified for me.

It was not that something was added to my fund of knowledge; it was that I saw the truth in what was already actually present but which had been overlooked or ignored. The situation is similar to one of those “optical illusions,” which you have probably encountered: what appears to be, say, a black candlestick and its holder is displayed against a white background. But in addition to this apparent picture is a picture which is not so apparent; if the white portion is viewed as the foreground and the black, candlestick portion seen to be its background, an entirely different picture emerges: the outline of two matching profiles whose noses nearly touch.

My relationship to the whole of existence was now revealed in a radically different light. If you were to view a fish in an aquarium, for instance, directly head on, what you would perceive would be remarkably different from what you would perceive if you were to shift your perspective so as to observe it broadsided. It would not be a different fish than it had been—and nothing would have been added to it—but your perception of it would now be thoroughly different.

This radical, and sudden, shift in perspective was received like good news by me. Where before there had been confusion and perplexity concerning the relationship of the individual to the whole of existence, now there was a calming clarity. There was a profound resolution of the uneasy questing which had punctuated my prior years, a resolution which was not transitory because it has not since been apart from my general awareness.

I hoped to share the good news, particularly with those whom I knew to have quested concurrently with myself. I knew, from my own experience, that a certain element of this unitive understanding is communicable from one mind to another; the analogy is sometimes given of a flame leaping from one torch to another torch. Probably a more apt analogy is that of a center-fielder making a throw to home plate: if the catcher is not fully attentive, there is nothing within the center-fielder’s power which will complete the transmission. But the fact that the transmission may rarely be received is not a reason for inaction.

There is a certain reasonableness, or even “logic”, to the unitive understanding—up to a point. However, in the case of this uncommon understanding, there is a point beyond which logical progression will not take you. At that point, only an intuitive connection can be made. However, once the tumblers have fallen into place, it matters not that a hairpin replaced a key.

For the past fifteen years, I have conducted a considerable number of discussions (both individually and in groups) with persons who indicated their interest in resolving—and in recognizing that they had resolved—what has been called the perennial question. I have carefully observed the junctures at which their confusion compounded. I have also observed that for a few individuals there was no point at which their confusion was not surmounted, to their satisfaction.

The essence of the unitive understanding is that it is liberating; the marvel of the unitive understanding is that it is basically effortless. Its liberation is a consequence of the non-attachment it engenders. This is not a detaching of piece from piece, item by item. It is an across-the-board release of attachment, which even includes non-attachment to the continuity of one’s life. This dispelling of attachment is, in the same moment, the dispelling of correlated fear—and that is dynamic liberation.

And, so, it is not that one first removes fear; removes attachments; and then the unitive revelation falls into place: it is that the latter is coincident with the former. This is the true marvel of the unitive realization, the effortlessness of the deconstruction.

Robert’s website.


Interview recorded 12/3/2011

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

90 thoughts on “099. Robert Wolfe

  1. “Again, to ‘whom’ does it make a difference?”

    I’m not inclined to affirm that I don’t exist. I’m more inclined to affirm that I exist as an appearance that appears and dis-appears… who perceives only appearances around and within me.

    So whatever difference exists for me, are differences in appearance only.

    When you affirm that you exist only as an appearance, I’ve found, you are uninclined to participate in the myriad of mentations of “I don’t exist”.

    “regardless of the desiring”.

    ah, but suffering is a very real appearance-based experience for all of us appearances. And desire plays a very significant appearance-based role in it.

  2. Hi Rick

    You’re very eloquent in your writing and persuasive in your argument, but I have to disagree with you here 🙂

    Of course, the absolute certainty that I spoke about was about there being no causal connection between any “practice” and “getting it”. Obviously if you’re talking about meditation as something that sort of “prepares the ground” then I can’t possibly say with “absolute certainty” that meditation, or any other experiential thing at all, didn’t “prepare the ground”. But as far as experiential (“story”) stuff goes, nobody could say with absolute certainty that anything didn’t “prepare the ground”, be it meditation, drugs, a near death experience, murdering someone, or anything else.

    The One who “realises”, sees immediately that whatever the experiences of “the story” were, they were always leading here. It is clear that the “story” in its entirety, right from the very start, was always leading here, and was always ever only going to end when it did.

    This necessarily implies that there couldn’t ever be any ‘preparation” during the story. It’s very clear that there was nothing that you could ever have intentionally done in the story to get here.

    There is no “doer” anywhere, and I’m sure that any one of those great sages would say the same thing.

    Ramana, Nisargadatta and Shankara were just people like you and me, with their own life story and their own conditioned responses. They naturally felt compassion for those who believed that they didn’t know the truth, and so they advised them to practice things which they thought might ease those frustrations – and their advice was based upon their own culture, traditions, and personal experiences. As much as you might accuse me of universalizing my experience you might accuse them of the same.

    If any of them were asked whether the advice they offered would lead to enlightenment, they would have had to answer truthfully “only if it was already going to do so”.

    Spiritual practice will happen, (and “awakening” will happen) if and when it was always going to happen. If meditation apparently “prepared the ground” for “awakening” then that was what was always going to happen (in fact, you could say, it always already happened).

    In truth we ought not to be advising the seeker what they should “do”, we ought to be telling them that they are already doing exactly the right thing 🙂

    I see that Peter and Snowleopard have already said similar things.

    Robert was delightfully honest when he said that it wasn’t anything that he said to Natalie, because (to paraphrase him) she was already headed home anyway.

    Nevertheless, I understand that being told that there is nothing to do runs the risk of exacerbating the seeker’s frustration.

    The “seeking” seems to be the most significant driving force, and nobody wants to discourage that. Not because the seeking will necessarily lead to awakening, but because seeking is by its nature mindful, and mindfulness appears to provide a measure of relief from the suffering of apparent separation.

    My comment about practice and meditation was not meant to be critical of any practice, or even of anyone advising a practice, but rather to say that no practice is necessary.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that in most cases advising the seeker to “give up the search” would be the source of further suffering rather than a source of relief.

    So, while I try to avoid offering “something to do”, I have to admit that when pushed, I do offer advice. Generally though my advice is that whenever there is a feeling of a spiritual need to “do” something, one should immediately investigate the nature of the “need”, and see if you can find the “needer”.

    Of course I see that this advice is just as much future based as any other advice “to do” is, so I can’t, and don’t ever, criticize anyone who offers any “practice” advice to the seeker, but it remains crystal clear that any advice given to the seeker will only work if it was already going to.

    The One who “realizes”, sees immediately that any advice that was received in “the story” was given by the same One who received it 🙂

  3. “The ‘seeking’ seems to be the most significant driving force, and nobody wants to discourage that. Not because the seeking will necessarily lead to awakening, but because seeking is by its nature mindful, and mindfulness appears to provide a measure of relief from the suffering of apparent separation. – YouAreMe

    With one caveat, YAM.

    Mindfulness (or Insight) Meditation is a form of mediation where seeking is not an ingredient of the practice. Not even the seeking of relief from anything.

  4. Hi Peter

    Not having any knowledge of the various meditation types, I have to ask what the purpose of insight meditation is, if any.

    Perhaps what I call mindfulness is what most people would call a type of meditation, even though there’s no formal “sitting” involved.

    I’ve always thought of meditation as sitting in silence, and I’ve always thought of mindfulness as a type of “contemplation” while going about your daily business. If I’m confusing the two please excuse any confusion caused.

    Either way, I’d like to be clear that I don’t in anyway condemn any sort of meditation or “practice”.

    Whatever blows your hair back, it’s all good 🙂

  5. “Not having any knowledge of the various meditation types, I have to ask what the purpose of insight meditation is, if any.” YouAreMe

    Being aware. Period. Not being more or better aware (for that can be a form of seeking), but just being aware.

    One simple, unadorned intention: the intention of being aware.

    It’s the one intention that, practiced in the arena of time and space, loses its intention in time. What remains is naked awareness without intention.

    P.S. What blows my beard back (head is shaved) is riding my… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BvLtNBm1yyA&feature=related

  6. Peter, Gerry, I am u, snowball;
    and few others write quite well about the subject-
    but somtimes – i am occpied with subjects of study,
    my computer a bit slow and jumping in depressive
    and insomnia and changing moods i somtimes
    i dont read with carefulness.
    somtimes i tell meself i go back and look at the intreviews
    the last 4 or 5 i thought i should read everything.
    well, anyway it seems though the writing almost
    similar or meshes together.
    i wonder if each one write a page of what make
    their thinking different.
    or my halucinating.
    what you think about art science;
    litreture; should we all be nondualist and
    if you feel like answering- sort
    to summarise the previous necassity
    to communicate your thought – me
    be the need arises becasue of living in
    isolation in an industrialize world.

  7. —Yoga is a tool invented by a human being, by ‘thought’ (perhaps enlightened and not so enlightened), as are all disciplines, practices, methods, tools – you name it.—

    Isn’t this conclusion about Yoga itself a “thought” ?

    Seeing beyond thinking…Seeing the personal in the impersonal…Seeing the human being as “human” in the “being”….This is yoga, it yokes the two into what they essentially are – ONE!

    The benefit of Yoga is that it keeps the realized established in their Self, the seekers established in healthy bodies and minds and the non-seekers established in sexy bodies .It’s a holistic package ..just that it’s being sold..and worse ..sold the wrong way 🙁

    —-I suppose, some of us could create tools, methods and practices that would attract practitioners and followers.—-

    as long as the personal expression of such tools and practices stems from an impersonal ground ,its fine .Self will “express” itSelf … it will happen as it has to happen [ try answering : what was the first thing you wanted to do after the awakening ? 🙂 ]

    —Ever listened to the rubbish that Andrew Cohen has come up with?
    He has his cult of followers and believers – just as do Lucifer and Satan – ha-ha.—

    True Sir ..i concede that the non-Self also expresses it’s self 😉 i seek refuge in Alan Watts, Richard Rose from Adrew Cohen :))

    —[from Wicked-pedia:
    …………Yoga , Samkhya etc.
    I will readily concede that you probably know much more about Yoga than do I.
    I haven’t studied it in depth, at all.—

    “i” request “you” to do the same.As Robert said , there’s a whole new meaning in the scriptures for the awakened.

    Yoga , Samkhya and other four schools are called Darshanas (literally “Seeing” , but translated as “philosophy” because of the respective philosophical treatise of each school that enable the “Seeing” from their perspective)

    Patanjali did not create Yoga ( he starts with yoga anushashanam – henceforth, hereafter i explain the tradition (discipline) of yoga) He is essentially reiterating an already existing discipline through precise aphorisms that could be easily memorized and reflected upon later by aspirants.

    samkhya and yoga are close in their philosophy but not in the Seeing … for example, samkhya Seeing is the seeing that there are infinite “seers” independent of manifestation( universe) ..while Yoga Seeing is the seeing that manifestation is nothing but the modification of the mind

    —-Now…some of these tools, methods, disciplines and practices (can) lead to the same ‘result’.
    Each ‘personal’ manifestation of ‘what is’ will eventually find his/her ‘way’ or ‘tool’ or ‘practice’ – or, perhaps, ‘no-practice’ at all, to awaken.
    No need for us to be (too) concerned – ALL IS WELL.
    The SELF knows what’s it’s doin’ – when-how-where to ‘DO ITS THING’.
    If someone is attracted to a ‘feeling’ or ‘emotional’ teaching, then so be it. Or, if someone is attracted to a ‘thinking’ teaching, then….
    If one goes crazy following the ‘wrong’ teacher or teaching or practice, then they will eventually get ‘clued-in’ – or maybe they will jump off a bridge.
    You mention ‘the goal’ and ‘you Rest in your Self’.
    ‘Who’ has a ‘goal’?
    ‘Who’ is Resting in your Self’?
    You must mean ‘the me’, ‘thought’, ‘self’ – because Self is Always Resting in Itself.

    IDIZWHADIDIZ indeed ..thats the absolute Truth !

    But it’s forgetfulness is it’s for-get-FULLness ..as many fors ..as many gets ..and yet fullness IDIZWHADIDIZNNOT

    every night I enter the dream …sometimes a snake bite, sometimes a push from a highrise , sometimes a friendly chase and sometimes just like that ..I wake up.Who can tell which is the best way to Awaken ?

  8. —(Btw…I said Patañjali invented ‘various FORMS of Yoga’, not that he invented Yoga.)—

    actually all limbs of yoga (yama, niyama etc ) are mentioned in the vedas. Patanjali’s contribution is, presenting the same as “sutras”(literal: thread, trans: precise aphorism)

    —Many thoughts are conclusions: 2 + 2 = 4
    The conclusion: 2 + 2 = 5, is incorrect.
    Therefore, some thought-conclusions are, in this sense, valid and correct.—

    2+2=4 or 2+2 /= 5 assumes many axioms ..it aint conclusive at all ! … it holds only if symbols (“+” , “=” ) are assumed to be unambiguous and the equation is ”type”, “units” and “scales” agnostic!! That’s the power of Maya . (2+2=4) would take a book to establish itself and that too with a fundamental axiom that numbers exist “of themselves” 🙂

    Albeit, i agree that there are thinking-thoughts and working-thoughts.With their objectivity, working thoughts do allow the “me” appearance to transact with the “not-me” appearances in Me.

    —Just SEEING, period.
    Not ‘seeing the personal in the impersonal’, nor ‘the impersonal in the personal’.
    No seeing of ‘being’ and/or ‘not-being’.
    No seeing of an (apparent) two that needs to be yoked into ONE.—

    SEEING needs duality in IN SIGHT ! what else would the One SEE if not the dance of duality in ITSELF

    Yoga is an apparent instruction for the apparent “me”.. a working thought !

    —It’s ‘thought’ that seeks to unite the (apparent) two into ONE, and sees the human being as “human” in the “being”.
    Why? Because thought has created these divisions to begin with – it’s just what thought does.—

    that’s not how I SEE … here’s “my” story.. “i” dissolved in I …Knowing happened … “i” reappeared, this time, along with “not-i” ..I SEE the dual pairs…I am FREE to play with “i”

    the Knowing is “I” , the BEING is “I AM” , the HUMAN is “ I PLAY”

    —No biggy!

    JUST SEEING, without seeing any-thing.



    “When thoughts arise, then do all things arise.”
    – Huang Po—-

    Knowing is I , beyond SEEING . SEEING is I AM-ness of the seen

  9. “I wonder when God does his Yoga routine?
    Before or after his meditation practices?”~ Gerry

    Probably after the morning routines ..shit happens ..even in nothingness ..lol !

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