Sruti Transcript

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Sruti Interview

Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. There have been nearly 350 of them now. And if you’d like to check out previous ones, go to batgap.com. And look under the past interviews menu and you’ll see them all categorized and organized in various ways. We make this show is made possible by the support of generous viewers and listeners. So thanks to those who’ve been supporting it. And if you feel like making a contribution, there’s a Donate button on the right hand side of every page. There’s also a donate page that explains other ways to do it if you don’t like PayPal. My guest today is Shruti Shruti writes about her experience with an uncommon and painful illness called interstitial cystitis. This ongoing and chronic condition challenged her to stay present with daily pain, and to look further inward for answers. In the extreme moment of pain in which consciousness began to fade. Shruti experienced the erasure of all that clouds over the earliest source of vision. She asks the question with whose vision are we seeing when the lights are going out? Has this early vision ever known anything at all? After these extreme episodes of pain, Shruti spent time on retreat with teachers such as Ganga Ji and tree Mooji. She found no difference in these non dual pointings and discoveries made directly in painful circumstances. Shruti finds that we can allow what is painful to become a tool to disrupt the ordinary layers of our experience. Underneath these layers, we find the unconditional peace that is our constant being in each moment. Can we investigate the source of ordinary vision? Can we find the place of True Seeing that is earlier than who we think we are? So thanks for doing welcome. Thank you. We could start in a number of places. But I think people might be curious about what I just read. And we might as well get read into your story, and then we’ll kind of take it from there. So please.

Sruti: Well, first, it might be helpful to talk a short while about this illness. Yeah. Because it’s very much the reason I’m sharing. And it was my total drive for any kind of spiritual awakening. And a lot of people don’t, they hear the term interstitial cystitis. But I’d like to speak for a moment as if you were a doctor. And also to those who are watching just about the symptoms and what it means shorten my life.

Rick Archer: Yeah, because we’re gonna be referring to him, as I’ll explain to people what it is.

Sruti: So basically, it is a urinary tract infection that has no infection. There’s no sign of infection and yet the pain of it, the need to go to the bathroom, the feeling of needing to urinate all the time. Any kind of burning sensation is always there. And normally, you would take an antibiotic to help this except in my case, this actually came on within hours of taking an antibiotic, which also makes it a potentially loaded, emotionally disturbing scenario. And if I were to sit in front of a doctor now and explain the impact on my life to get help, I would say I have many symptoms, I’m tired, I’m in pain, but the most disturbing is that it it literally feels like there are knives in my bladder. Like there are knives in my vagina. And I don’t often speak so honestly. But to understand the full impact of what this pain is doing, we need to be at the level of a doctor. And I’m quite used to saying these things to doctors. And the consequence of this is I always need to be near a bathroom. Travel becomes sort of a nightmare. If you can imagine being on an airplane with that kind of pain and if you need to use the bathroom four or five times in one hour. You hope you have an aisle seat and that the stewardesses are very accommodating. And I say this because I was just recently traveling, I wish I had a card. At night, in the beginning especially it was I couldn’t sleep for more than two hours, this pain would wake you up and be in the bathroom, we fall asleep in that pain, like up in that pain.

Rick Archer: And by the way, you haven’t actually said it yet. But in your book, you make it clear that this pain was not merely some like sensation of needing to go to the bathroom, something it was off the charts. I mean, it was like childbirth pain or something pretty much all

Sruti: there were there were times of that, yes. Which which I will come to and is the deeper reason I’m sharing. But but the day to day, it’s been eight years and counting of that symptom, there have been many ways I’ve healed. There have been many people who have helped. But for some reason this type of pain that I’m describing to you has been almost anything I do is to manage that pain, because for some reason, and for unexplained, unexplained reason, this most disturbing type of pain, I still deal with nearly daily in some manner. In the beginning, it was absolutely constant. There was no break, I didn’t even understand what it meant to have no break. And pain medications just don’t. They just don’t touch where this pain is located. You can take something for a migraine, you can’t necessarily take something for this kind of pain. Now I say this because you know, there’s the traveling the being in bed and not being able to work also emotionally socially. How can I have a romantic partner with this type of pain? How can I have a family? How can I even go out to a concert when there’s 300 people at a concert? You know, I was young as 20 A lot of my friends you know want to go to concerts and it’s a nightmare for me. I’m in pain anyway, there’s hundreds of people What if I can’t use the bathroom, I can’t drink. I can’t take any substance that will irritate me. So your whole life and an instant for me it really was a matter of hours. And you know, Thursday, it was fine. Took the antibiotic Fridays, this whole different world that looked pretty disturbing. It looked pretty disturbing. And that was where the existential angst really flared. Because also doctors this, they call it incurable. They didn’t have adequate painkillers. And I did in many ways emotionally feel left in that pain. Even though I know that people didn’t intentionally leave,

Rick Archer: left as in abandoned, you mean? Yeah.

Sruti: So all of this was sort of this toxic mix, were actually for a while I just became more and more bitter. And I would become obsessed with suffering. So there was a period where I would just read and watch everything. And just take it all in to try and understand why. If I understood why I would be relieved somehow.

Rick Archer: So what kind of things you mean reading medical things, spiritual things,

Sruti: anything. It didn’t have to be spiritual, but it often did include spiritual texts. For a long time. I didn’t know there were any contemporary teachers. I was not aware of them. And in my reading. I never came across them. I would just watch human interest. I would watch things about war and pain and illness and anything that was pulling me because of my own, in some ways, a avoidance of the pain. I was always experiencing a fear of how bad it was, what it meant, and I was often in bed. Just the seeking, seeking, seeking, seeking. And then out in the world seeking a cure seeking a pain relief seeking seeking, seeking. And you can imagine the level of suffering just became very, very extreme. But that’s not why I’m sharing. Because many people are in different types of pain. Many people don’t like to hear about pain. And also when I tell you that I haven’t had that full Recovery. Wonder why it is? And I’m speaking about it? Well,

Rick Archer: I think it’s good that you’re laying it out. And one of the things I was thinking about with this whole interview is that there are people of all who experience all kinds of pain, you know, back some people have severe back pain, some friends of mine do, and, and many other types of things. And I think you are, you’re an inspiring example of the kind of the success story in a way, even though you’re not, you know, over the whole thing. But you’ve kind of turned lemons into lemonade in a way but you know, by having this pain become an an impetus to spiritual realization. And actually, I

Sruti: was given lemon lemonade. Because if I even told you, I did something, it would be too much.

Rick Archer: Where you were seeking pretty hard?

Sruti: Well, you could say, the, the intention, the thing that was really mine, that was the intention was was a real intentions. I didn’t know what truth meant. I didn’t have a background with God. I didn’t know much about self inquiry. I didn’t know terms. I knew I was suffering. And I didn’t care if that resolution was going to be in spirituality. I didn’t care if it aligned with a great master. I just wanted it was I mean, when it’s this type of pain, it’s like. I mean, there are times with this type of pain. You sit and you wonder why you get up tomorrow? Yeah. I mean, to be very, very just honest about where you come to. If you’re earnest, and you stop running for a moment, there is this tremendous suffering that you ask, these aren’t just questions why? What is the value of getting up tomorrow in this pain?

Rick Archer: In other words, you were having suicidal thoughts?

Sruti: For sure. And suicide did not seem dark there. It seemed free. It seemed like love and rest and freedom, which I still feel. But I also have something deeper to offer. So I feel maybe we should talk then, about how this occurred. Because what I have come to is a much different understanding of pain since then. Sure. And all of that bitterness and pain actually became so much more intense, that it cut through a lot of that suffering in an instant.

Rick Archer: Yeah, please keep talking. I have all kinds of questions. I’ll ask you in the course of the interview, but you’re on a roll. So let’s keep going.

Sruti: I think I might even just jump into reading in a moment. This passage I want to read from my writing about this experience is sort of fullness of what I offer an idea that you can just read this one passage and Okay,

Rick Archer: no, I want you to do that.

Sruti: So this passage I’m going to read is about an experience that happened when the pain became even more intense, this extreme like you said, childbirth. You extraordinary moment of pain that was so intense, that actually I was writhing on the floor and losing consciousness. And instead of this being a huge trauma, which it could have been this huge trauma I remember for the rest of my life, this moment cut through my life. And this passage I’m going to read now about that moment is called pain is God’s tool. The most extreme experience I had in pain occurred one morning very early as I came downstairs for breakfast. In the time it took to cross from the stairs to the kitchen. I went from a zero to a 10 on the pain scale. It felt like there were knives in my stomach and I couldn’t stand up straight. At the same time, my internal body temperature skyrocketed to what felt like a 500 degree oven and there were waves of nausea after trying to quickly take what pain medication I could, I rushed to the small bathroom nearby. And I barely had time to dial the window air conditioner down all the way with the fan on high before I was on the floor. The pain was so so severe that I couldn’t lay down properly, couldn’t stay still couldn’t stop rolling and writhing trying to twist away from those knives. And the heat was so extreme that even after I had taken off all my clothes, with the AC as cool as it would go, I was sweating. I was burning internally, rolling on the cold tile floor and nauseated. Then the pain became even more intense, and everything that was in my stomach and bowels came out several times, I could hardly move from the floor to the toilet, and each time there was no relief. beyond comprehension, the pain continued to intensify, as if all of the knives were coming out and leaving a trail of agony behind them. It was like being paralyzed, but in motion, totally trapped in a world of pain, unable to even speak out for help. And it was at this point, when there was nothing left to come out, and the pain and the heat. And the disorientation had reached a level I had never known was bearable, that I became hyper aware of that undercurrent of calm. It was no longer an undercurrent. It was the focus and the only thing that had any reality, trapped but in continuous motion. I could only look out from behind these eyes, breathing, seeing and being more primary now there was no room for anything else. All thoughts had stopped, and in their place was a vast open silence. And this silence beyond the ordinary silence, you can hear sadness and fear did not exist, hear the silence the space, the calm, had an internal solidity and steadiness and fullness that took the place of any emotion. Then the pain began taking away my vision. And I could see the black edges of unconscious darkness, moving in from either side of my eyes like a cloud. I felt that I was seconds away from passing out and that when the darkness clouded everything over, that actually I am still here. And I am whole. I am earlier than even the earliest knowing I am here behind this waking life that I can see and feel earlier than this body. These thoughts, these feelings and even that subtle sense of aliveness when they are all taken, and when I am no longer able to know anything, I am still here. I no longer moved alone through a vast random chaotic world. The world moves through my view. And this view is the same as me. There is a fabric of calmness within that does not leave, and it does not change. Before this incident, the story of the illness and its progression were the primary focus and any insight was used to feed that story. But the extreme pain renovated the perspective the pain revealed that it is only the tool for what is truly primary. And what is truly primary is this ground of calm. This not knowing perspective. There is no story about it, because it does not grow and change. Free of progress. It does not move, but activities happen and change occurs within it. From this grounded view, I felt grateful for my experiences in pain and that they cultivated patience and strength in discomfort. There is both tolerance and a decisive clarity. There are definitive boundaries, and it is carved out new daily routines and habits. It forced the breaking of addictions and challenged the emotional story around them. The silent view that this pain revealed shows me that harsh is not necessarily hurtful. It promotes humility and erodes pride. It shows that real power comes from depth of Love, and it creates potential for the deepest connections and relationships. It cuts away false responsibility and obligation and freeze behavior from survival. it cultivates emotional maturity and asks for kindness. It demands honesty and integrity and adjusts what is out of alignment. It cuts below appearances, and even embraces the dark, the difficult and the bad, but without bitterness or exaggeration. When great pain arrives, this unknowing silence is what I still love. It does not belong to this physical world. Nor is it within the world of the mind and imagination. None of these are lasting. Pain sucks the joy and the pleasure from all that we know of. It stops the mind and leaves only abroad and utter silence. In its most intense form, it can take away the sense of consciousness. And beyond crossing that line into darkness, we do not know anything. The pain is a tool for the unthinkable to discover what this silent void is composed of. In these ephemeral days and years of our lifetime, we may use what is uncomfortable and negative, to assist in our ability to see as the unknown to know without thought, what really lies within the unconscious darkness. Pain is God’s tool to help us let go of what is personal, in favor of what is eternal. It is not necessarily a pleasant tool. It is a humble reminder of our loss of control. It may come and take what it wants without argument. And yet its gift is the clearest clarity, the most expansive freedom and the embrace of the deepest love. The correct relationship with pain I find is not a relationship. It can be used as this intangible tool to bend our attention backwards to where we meet our inner source. The true relationship with our source is understood within the silence it brings. And even the darkness it reveals. This inner silence and vast darkness are the gateways to a direct relationship with God and an intense pain, nothing but God will satisfy nothing from the external world that the pain belongs to, will be adequate to end that suffering. Indirectly contacting God, we discover that we are that space of silence strength within us. And our suffering can end even if pain continues. Beyond even intuition, or inner voice lies, the true being the ground of not knowing. Pain is extraordinarily helpful for discerning that even the deepest intuitive knowing cannot survive a pain that is so intense that we are losing consciousness. In pain of that intensity, we see that all things are taken away except the last unknowing one. Can we see from behind our eyesight when pain arrives in our lives? And can we rest there? Can we use the pain to look inward? And see if our earliest vision has ever known anything? With whose vision are we seeing when the lights are going out?

Rick Archer: Beautiful, it’s beautifully written. Thank you. Your whole book is beautifully written. I went through the whole thing cover to cover. Um, so many things we could talk about here. I’m sure you’re aware that great many kind of indigenous cultures and Native Americans and so on, use very painful rituals as a means of shifting consciousness. Have you ever pondered that and, you know, looked into some of those traditions?

Sruti: I haven’t. I was not aware.

Rick Archer: Oh, yeah. Like for instance, there’s that thing that Native Americans do where they that some kind of a sun ceremony or something where they pierce the breasts. I think maybe just men do it but they pierced the breast muscles with hooks. And then you’re kind of lifted up by leather straps, you know, and it’s all part of this kind of really intense thing involving fasting and all. And it’s supposed to just catapult you into, you know, a higher state or an altered state or, you know, the ground of all being or, or some such thing. And then Bushman and many other cultures have that they’ve actually institutionalized this kind of thing, not as a means of torture or punishment, but actually as a means of spiritual, you know, catalyst catalysis.

Sruti: I didn’t know that actually. It makes sense. I wouldn’t go looking for pain. total wimp. No, and that’s the funny part of this thing is you read, maybe read this and think, you know, maybe somewhere I love experiencing pain, but like most people, if there were a pill that were offered, that would cure this illness, or if there were pain medications, and when there are, I will take them. But But on the flip side of that, sometimes we when we have that out, we fear, pain like that, we fear the consequences of it. And I suppose if there is value in this in pain is a pathway, because it’s not necessarily the only pathway. And it’s not necessary to what’s the deepest offering here. Value is that we often in spiritual awakening, it’s the other way. We have a light, beautiful awakening experience, myself included, and it’s real. And then the dark in the painful moves in as it does in duality. And we question and we doubt that awakening, so for me, if there is a value in also sharing the pathway it is that if you find this light, if you find truth in a dark, dark time, it’s very unlikely it will be shaken. And I found the most stable awakening occurring in moments like these.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, if awakening can be sustained, you know, under intense pain, then everything else is kind of a piece of cake in terms of sustaining it, right? I mean,

Sruti: yes, it. It can be that way. I’ve seen other beings. Just come very gently. Yeah. And then it doesn’t matter. Because your perception of pain changes anyway. But for many, many beings who myself included awakening as you often a roller coaster of good, bad, good, bad, and sometimes just bad, bad, bad. Or at least even now, even though I speak more, for this example, before you have a recognition. Yeah, you just experience. Bad, bad bad, perhaps like I

Rick Archer: was since that awakening that you just described in your reading. What has that been sustained? And has it sort of become a buffer for the roller coaster ride, you know, so that you don’t, even in your darkest moments? There’s that underlying foundation?

Sruti: Yes, everything I write is much more than words for me. Actually, I didn’t really expect to write because what was valuable to me after that experience, I stopped reading, stuff watching. All of the interest is in this constant. You could say a constant inquiry, you could say it’s final. You could also say the fascination with the constant fulfillment of each moment is more valuable than anything I was seeking. And I didn’t expect to write but what happened what happened was people were asking me to share some were not aware of this pain because it’s invisible. I don’t look particularly ill. You look good. And when I sat down to write, almost immediately, I developed Very intense infection,

Rick Archer: when you sat down to write, and like any kind of correlation there, you say,

Sruti: well, for a moment it was, gosh, what poor timing, how can I write in the state. And then of course, you know, it didn’t take long for it to become clear. It’s like, even even the awakening must be written from, from this place, for some reason, because it’s here. This whole book is written in very intense pain. So even the writing is transcending the pain as it’s being written. And it was this wonderful opportunity, even for myself. After all those years of misunderstanding and angst to sit with it again, in in almost the same levels as when it first started, because it was this infection over the course of a couple of weeks. That just made all the symptoms worse again, and I had the chance to see them for what they were, and to find the deeper truth in them that I knew now that I could sense that was transcending it, even as it was happening, and it didn’t make it any more enjoyable. It made it very It made it divine. And this changed you you asked the initial question, you know, this, this up and down, is after awakening, and I still have infections like that, in in the physical world, is very extreme still. However, the experience of good and bad in awakening becomes something entirely, it’s not even the same definition is not even the same world. So intensity, like that feels like intense reverence. And times when there’s no pain feels like this effervescent, continuous St. Bliss, like sometimes people I never used to understand or like that word very much. But it does is a kind of a bliss that doesn’t need anything. And then when the pain comes, there’s a reverence that is pointing to something deeper than this challenging experience. So duality sort of becomes this flow between the challenge and the reverence and the enjoyable, light free effervescence. And somewhere in between this play is going on. And yet, because it’s it’s it is that way, because it’s blossoming first. From this understanding, that does not change I

Rick Archer: hope everyone’s understanding what you mean by that. And if they aren’t, then feel free to submit a question on the upcoming interviews page, and I’ll ask Shruti, but I understand what you mean. And I think, Well, I think you’re expressing it very clearly. But like, for instance, when you use the word before, originally, to or prior to, when you were talking about that field of silence, and that kind of has a temporal connotation, like it happened prior to that, but you don’t mean it temporarily. You mean it sort of in terms of more fundamental, more primordial kind of like, before the relative world has even manifested that that alone is that kind of thing?

Sruti: It is. Well, this brings up for me even speaking about like a shift, which is what I read to you this moment of shift, which is a little bit silly, and, and not quite accurate. Because, indeed, there there was a dramatic difference. There was a moment of very clear understanding of watching. being lucky enough to watch each layer leave me in this is a rare experience in pain like that. And that’s not necessary, but the value of such clarity that each layer is leaving. How I how I never questioned this is, is very strange. Like all the layers were always so loud, it never occurred that even in their loudness, they would leave and if everything can leave me why am I so interested? And what does that make me? And so this this, this shift in perspective is a shift and yet it’s it was never not that way. It’s never not That way that I am this wholeness and I am looking out from earliest being. And yet the suffering of it was so much caught in the layers that ended up just leaving.

Rick Archer: When you say they left, do you mean that the pain actually dissipated? Or do you mean that once you had shifted to the perspective of the, you know, the, whatever we want to call it, the unboundedness, or the silence, that then they were kind of peripheral or, you know, they just no longer they weren’t the foot the center of your orientation anymore, therefore, they didn’t have the same power over you that they once had had.

Sruti: Yes. And this passage I read, there’s a little sentence that does this flip a little bit, it felt like before this, that I was managing my illness, I was ill. I moved alone, I was abandoned, I was in pain, I was broken. I moved through this world, and I was vulnerable. Yeah, and sort of like nieghbors, the world’s just sort of accidentally because of this pain, it sort of was that way

Rick Archer: us a little wave getting buffeted about by the winds.

Sruti: Exactly. And this caused enormous angst. And, and pain felt like an insult. It felt like I was less than, and the question of death felt like annihilation. It felt like my God, I am so vulnerable and weak in this illness that I might die. I’m certainly in enough pain, where I’m considering it. And, gosh, I’m just so alone in in death. And I’m going there as this weekend. So you can you can hear where that suffering is coming from even in describing this view. And what really shifted, I guess, yes, exactly. And what really shifted was that I Yeah, because the, again, if we just literally come to this experience in pain, just literally what I’m experiencing. I begin to watch things that I thought were me, Spanish. So first, the body. I mentioned paralyzed foot in continuous motion when you lose control over your body. And you’re lucky enough to still be aware in the body, as you’ve lost control of it. I mean, this rolling on the floor was not a choice. This was automatic, as if you were shocked by an electric plug like convulsions. Yeah. And it’s just happening. And when when you lose control that way. You is like this shock of my gosh, at every other moment, I assumed this body was mine. Even even unconsciously, I could say to you, I’m not my body, but I would know I had control and feel somewhere that this had something to do with me. And when an instant when that control is taken, and when you are aware, but the body is lost, you could say then there’s just an enormous disinterest and also a relief. Because you are okay as the body is lost. And the next thing to go was thinking. And normally there’s a almost continuous stream of some kind of whether it’s conscious or unconscious, and only when there is just absolute silence. And you hear silence of thought that you are put in a circumstance the question How did my thinking, leave me? What value did it have for me if in this moment of pain, you could say at the door of unconsciousness? And none of my beliefs, none of my thinking. None of my self referencing. None of that comes and is still I remained sentient to see that. And with the thoughts, feelings are often so attached. That we have these feelings in the body that seemed to signal dismay, doubt fear, sadness, happiness, but in pain, these darker things and none Have that is felt, it’s just not there. And the silence is also this felt silence the silence of a felt story. And the story is silenced, the body is silenced, the feelings are silenced. And how amazing that all of these ordinary layers of your experience can leave you in an instant, and you remain. And for a moment in time remain is just breathing is just, I can still see, I can see the floor, I can still I know that I’m conscious. And all of this before you’re even thinking those things, just the direct knowing of eyesight, and that I am still conscious is the only thing that matters. And then even the pain becomes so much more intense. The gift of pain that can take absolutely anything. And literally this experience of unconsciousness moving in the cloud of it across vision, the shutting down of eyesight, the edges of conscious awareness, that feeling of falling back, away from being awake. Watching the ends of eyesight, you’re watching the end of awareness. How else can you describe these things. But even before you care to describe these things, the direct knowing of these things. Have I am here to know these things, I am here to simply see even the edges of the bubble of my whole life. And I am here and nothing has happened to me.

Rick Archer: When you say silence, I presume you’re referring to the silence of that I am which precedes all activity in which to which nothing can happen. You’re not necessarily referring to relative silence. I mean,

Sruti: it was quite loud. Actually.

Rick Archer: The silence is loud.

Sruti: Now the or what was loud was the experiences

Rick Archer: Everything elso that was going on?

Sruti:  It was this chaos of I mean, maybe there wasn’t, you know, loudness of rolling. But there was loudness of pain. Certainly.

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Sruti: And so no, it was not a cessation of pain. And it was not a silence of hearing. The silence is deeper than even the understanding of that word.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, even now, do you? Maybe not only pain, but other situations like driving too busy traffic or hurrying through an airport or something, you find that that silence kind of becomes even more stark or clear or evident when contrasted with something that is the opposite of silence?

Sruti: It’s very good question. I feel I didn’t get up off the floor. Meaning I feel that the recognition of silence of this spontaneous inquiry into what is i? What, perhaps we might say, in spirituality is not a practice and it’s not a temporary thing. And the whole world is that silence. And yes, in the midst of even the loudest activity, perhaps because the recognition occurred in the midst of the loudest activity. Yes, there is always it’s coming from silence, and is informed first by silence because you see, my interest also shifted. If this place that I see from is the only thing that cannot leave me and is actually also what I am. And these other things come up again. They’re not deeply interesting to me because they already left me Yeah. And where they come from.

Rick Archer: It sounds very much like you know, Buddhism, you know, which talks of life being suffering because it’s constantly changing, it can leave you you know, dukkha and, you know, you’ve kind of discovered that which cannot leave and, and by contrast, then the things which can labor which can come and go lose their significance. It’s almost like if a person were a popper, then every little gain of $10 here or every the loss of $10, there would be a big shakeup. But if they’re a multimillionaire, then they can gain and lose 1000s 10s of 1000s. And it’s like, yeah, you know, because there’s they’ve sort of sorted that status of

Sruti: it is an it’s like everyone is a spiritual multimillionaire. Yeah. And myself, even in this pain where I mentioned, it was there’s such feelings of lack of less than of. I mean, there’s a reason that many people don’t even that I’ve known do not know the level of suffering from this illness, I have not spoken openly, often. And there’s a reason for that, because up until it was also going to be shared with this deeper understanding, is quite disturbing for people. And I understand, I understand from trying to share why that is, I mean, I’ve had people walk away. I’ve had, I’ve sat at wedding parties, and you know, literally out of a movie people, like take a swig of, they hear my story, and it doesn’t necessarily come with what I’ve shared with you. And it’s just too much to take a swig of wine. And I have to go and yeah, I understand.

Rick Archer: Well, for one thing, they probably can’t relate to it, because they haven’t experienced that kind of pain. And they probably feel a little awkward because they don’t know what they can say or do to be of any use to you. And also if you begin talking, you know, you said a minute ago, people are all spiritual multimillionaires, but but the vast majority don’t realize they are they’ve lost the keys to their bank account. And they’re they’re running around thinking there poppers.

Sruti: It seems that way. And it is a very strange, it has been a strange process of even sharing, because it doesn’t always feel like I particularly need to be sharing. For that I particularly need to tell you things with such honesty if they’re so uncomfortable. And there is this deeper, there’s this love of the huge desire to share how could there not be sure it is also tempered by a deeper love that. I don’t I’m there is also not knowing in my sharing I did it feels more often like some of this intensity just is used for honesty.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, you know, the majority of people aren’t going to experience pain like you have. And yet what, what you can share with them is that, you know, whatever you’re going through, it’s not a deal killer in terms of realizing who you are. And maybe maybe one helpful thing will be that they’ll feel like, jeez, if she can endure that, then this little tribulation that I’m experiencing is Yeah, it’s really not that big a deal. And I should just, you know, keep a stiff upper lip and kind of like keep keep the eye on on the goal or self realization?

Sruti: Well, I like what you say that people might see that there’s no barrier. Yeah. Because when you’re in that kind of suffering, any condition, anything you need to do. Anything you need to be anything you need to gain, anything you need to recover, is going to sound very cruel to say that there is anything between you and God. There is anything between you and deep relief. There is anything between you and yourself as what is already whole. It’s just going to sound cruel to say to someone in that level of suffering. Oh, you know, just wait until you do a bit of yoga. And of course I can’t I think yoga is wonderful. I think you should. But what if I can’t I just looking at any condition is going to seem huge. And so the value of this type of pointing is is is quite humble. That actually, I was completely debilitated to know what is actually quite simple. And if there is a danger, it’s that you also feel like these rituals that you need some sort of intense pain, like it’s a very intense recognition and it’s actually not but for some reason for me, these layers so clearly disrupt Did in a way where I can be nothing but grateful for pain like that?

Rick Archer: Yeah. At least in your, in your own situation. I mean, it’s not a path that everybody’s going to walk. But it’s it’s laudable that you have arrived at a place where you can feel gratitude for, you know, yeah. Do you ever ponder, you know, these people met probably usually young people who who cut themselves intentionally in order to I don’t completely understand it. But I gathered that it’s because there’s a sort of a numbness to life and they end by experiencing some pain, at least they feel alive or they feel some something. Have you ever kind of pondered that? Or would you have any advice for somebody who has an inclination, I know there’s somebody who watches BatGap, or used to watch that had that syndrome. And I once made a comment that was very politically incorrect about it. And he was quite upset. But you have any kind of comments on that?

Sruti: Well, like I said, I don’t go looking for pain. So I don’t quite know. the why behind that. Nothing in my teaching recommends pursuing pain, right. So I’m afraid I can’t speak to that experience. It’s much more, it’s much lower than that, really. What I mean is in any in any pain, and this, this desire to hurt oneself at the physical level,is still out in those further layers.

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Sruti: And if there is a true inquiry, it must come deeper than that. It must transcend each of those layers. And whatever is going on there will have to be confronted in that it will have to be met from a deeper place. A way that when I’m in pain, and I can’t help it, it is met from a deeper place. And any experience is valuable as these tools to cut lower than experience. And I do often use the metaphor, cutting lower.

Rick Archer: But that means I remember, here’s an example. I mean, I remember one time, I had a really bad flu. And I was a relatively new meditator at that point. And I experienced that when I meditated, it would I’d kind of go beneath the flu, you know, I kind of get to a level that was prior to the flu. And I felt good there. And then I’d come back up into the flu but but feeling a little better, having dipped into that level that was prior to the flu,

Sruti: it does feel that any experience happening out here, there’s these layers of flu or layers of whatever, angst of despair, physical pain of emotional pain, and they are layers only. Yeah. And the intact entanglement. Whatever the expression of the entanglement is, is from assuming they have something to do with you, of needing to fix them, of needing to heal them, of needing to say, This is good, this is bad. And not often is there, the trust and the strength to let those layers be especially when there is pain. And part of there’s this instant, I described but there’s also eight years of ongoing daily practice with this pain, where there is a lot of you could say contrast that has to be met between painful circumstances that you don’t want. And resting is what doesn’t need and doesn’t want. And these things come together in ways that challenge the seeing. You know, if I’m about to roll on the floor, do I take that pain medication if I don’t need anything, I mean, these are mental things. And when you come deeper this these questions also dissolve because the resolution of them is actually bubbling up more naturally. The knowing how to fix things than knowing how to heal some things because I don’t know how to heal myself heal this body. You could say I don’t know because everything I try I look like some kind of health guru. The way I eat the way I live Have I mean, actually, quite a few people might benefit if I decided to be some kind of health guru, but that’s not what I’m offering. Yeah. And it’s not a value because even this healing in this health comes to an end. And sooner or later, even the healthiest body will go, we will come back to these questions. And if first we come to this question, then the whole goal in life shifts, and now the goal is not necessarily healing at the physical level, there’s actually not much interest. And if I’m healed physically or not, there is a continuous interest in what I found, was my deepest question on the floor, my deepest longing.

Rick Archer: Really, though? I mean, wouldn’t it kind of be nice to just, you know, have that deepest value that you found on the floor and be physically healthy? Oh, and with that, you know, if you had your druthers wouldn’t, wouldn’t that be preferable?

Sruti: I, it’s always preferable when there’s less pain, and actually, I always make decisions, you could say,

Rick Archer: you do what you can to minimize always

Sruti: or, you know, you’re always wanting to relieve pain. So even I, my very baby organization called Shruti, Sangha is designed that way, the intention is that way, what I mean is, the deeper part of the offering that I cannot fully offer now is a healing environment. Because the way I live, it’s not like I’m in pain. And I’m asked to just always be in pain, and it’s never ending. Actually, I’m, I’m often making decisions for healing. They’re just not the deepest that I’m offering. And they’re not where it’s coming from. Yeah. So even without the healing environment, there is resolution. And this resolution is the most valuable thing to point to another in myself, even before healing, it’s not good or bad. It’s not you shouldn’t heal, it’s not you should Outlast pain, or you should always, you know, go into circumstances that are, it’s not any of that. It is much more simple, much more kind.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And for many people, you know, the path is not going to be a particularly painful one, it might be a very relatively pleasant one. Although I think everybody has their dark night of the soul to some extent, in one way or another, there’s stuff that really has to be cleared out. And it’s not always going to be pleasant.

Sruti: No. But I could see and I do see that, like I mentioned, this book was written from within pain, because that’s how it happens. And so when I give an interview, or when I speak to the book, I am still speaking to what is also still in my experience, this pain is a big part. It’s a driving almost every decision still just just from necessity,

Rick Archer: wondering I mean, if if writing the book somehow stirred up pain so that you were able to write from the perspective of pain, does doing an interview like this are giving us thoughts on trigger pain? Also,

Sruti: no, but I do often experience pain in and around Satsang. And if pain is present in Satsang, it it is used for the same purpose as this book, which is to bring it to the inquiry to include it and often there are other beings in the sights on that are experiencing some form of pain as well.

Rick Archer: Do you feel like the energies that get stirred up or enlivened during Satsang somehow have an effect on your nervous system that causes pain? I know audio Shanti has that experience sometimes when he teaches a lot he’ll it exacerbates something in his nervous system, some condition or something just because of the the energies that are channeling through him, you know,

Sruti: it’s very interesting. There are parts of sharing that cause me a lot of pain. And I always must go into them as open is the experience on the floor. Knowing that I’m not asked necessarily to always be in pain. And knowing also that what is really being offered is automatically also healing. So, for example, Shruti Sangha is intended to be a healing environments. And I know because I’ve experienced that the times when I’m in the least amount of pain, actually, when paying off almost disappears. Or when I’ve set foot or been a part of these environments. So even my offering is designed to be healing not just for myself, but for others. And there’s this strange existence of both were what I’m sharing has nothing to do with healing. It’s not interested at all, in form. And if nothing else, I would hope that that is what someone comes to in our meeting. And at the same time, the way that that is offered the structure of it in form, I know is is also designed to be healing. And to be something that is not bringing people pain.

Rick Archer: You could think of it as a side benefit or something. Yeah, it’s not the the main point, but a main focus, but it’s a nice, you know, it’s a nice symptom or outcome of of the of the focus on the main thing. Yes, yeah. Yes. Here’s a question that came in. Mark from Santa Clara asks, short of the debilitating pain you experienced? Can you suggest a practice for using chronic lower level lower level pain such as sciatica, to sink deeper into self?

Sruti: Well, often, people will read the book and ask, they’ll say I love the writing. I hear what you’re saying, but you didn’t tell me how to do it. And I’ve had publishers say this and and people and Satsang. And it’s a common, they want a little formula? Yes. And my response is, first, that the whole I feel the whole book is you could say how you do it. But I also feel that this is this is much simpler than doing. How can you do what you most naturally are? And even to tell you to do something, and I’ve failed myself. Because if anyone told me to do anything in those moments of pain, I wouldn’t even hear. Yeah. So but but, but don’t mistake this for some kind of aloofness, it’s not aloof, and it’s not that you can’t come to this. What I’m asking is much, much simpler and deeper than doing in each moment, already, this is your most immediate seeing. And the pain, even low level pain can be used like an anchor. It is keeping your attention in this moment. And it is keeping your attention. There’s some body awareness, I find that I don’t even say these things to people, but there’s always body awareness in ways that there wouldn’t be perhaps at that level if I wasn’t in pain. So the attention is already naturally fixed in this moment. Except for when we become frightened and try and distract ourselves. So if there’s something it’s okay to sit with pain in this moment, and have it be there. It’s okay to let attention rest, even if it’s not feeling comfortable. And then from this jumping point, because we’re I’m saying is not even to keep attention in the moment of time not to keep the tension on the pain, not to keep a tension in the body. But to use that to bounce back to inquire where it is your attention is coming from. You are looking and seeing naturally the space between what you are experiencing and where you are seeing experience from. And this is a natural, natural inquiry, nothing to do with questioning nothing to do with the mind. For me, inquiry isn’t a mental word that is directly seeing the space between you and your experience. In each experience. You must see each time There is, especially if it’s negative, you have to see the space between you and that feeling. You have to see the space between you and the sensation of pain. You have to see the space between you and the thinking about the pain, you have to know that none of it, all of this is separate from you.

Rick Archer: I wonder if that’s clear to people, I wonder if that is a description which people are going to have a hard time taking as a prescription. You know, I mean, that’s kind of what happened to you as a result of the travails that you were put through. And that’s kind of the way you naturally function now. But I wonder if you can prescribe that and have people actually get it and be able to do it in a non doing kind of way?

Sruti: Yes, I find that there has to be a very deep willingness, that this is this is your whole intention. But before you meet me, before you know anything about me, before you know about the story and pain, that very deeply this there’s a desire to know this in each moment of your life. And then I’m not actually really giving anyone anything i The more I share, I become less clear. On my role, I really do. I don’t I couldn’t even call it. I mean, I definitely can’t call it teaching. And I certainly have trouble calling it even guidance. What guidance do you need for yourself. And this, this willingness, it’s almost there must be a willingness to meet, to meet at the deepest offer. And there must be something you could say that you must be doing some, you must have some intention. If I call it work, it won’t be the right word. You could say, for me, I’m always working. For me, I’m always inquiring. For me, I’m always meeting. And if someone is also even if they’re not totally aware of what that will mean for them yet. If there is that desire, then there are certain ways to come to this gateway. Some of these ways are what I mentioned, using pain as an anchor for awareness. Coming back to body awareness in each moment, you could come back and come through the layers sometimes this is a shell of a practice that just to kind of even if you’re not in the experience, I had take it as an example, to check in, in each moment, if you can, when you remember each layer of your experience in that moment. And instead of analyzing those layers, when you notice them, you’re automatically clarifying how you’re able to see even all of those layers and this seeing is also an automatic resting and so often the only thing standing between a deep recognition and suffering is just a continuous distraction or pull of that attention

Rick Archer: what you just said kind of sounds like it would apply to people who are not in pain and who are you know, pretty healthy and happy and things are going pretty smoothly. It’s sounds like that that could be of value to them too.

Sruti: I find both come to my site sounds I’ve seen people in pain but I also see those who who don’t experience very high pain at all Yeah. And I again as I share I become less clear on my role and also who might be interested in I become less clear I don’t It’s not like therapy I don’t sit around and keep notes of other people’s progress I don’t feel I’m progressing anything and I very deeply feel for myself that in losing control is not this the control chips it’s like it was never yours in all of life is handling it. God is handling it. Yeah. God has your God has me by nowhere and no God has my whole life and it’s okay because the trust of that, of this practice of returning and questioning very deeply what happens to you who you are amidst these layers. You’re finding how God is carrying your life already. And so I’m not deeply worried about the progress of others, I feel that God is handling everyone’s progress. And so what, what role? Personally, it’s almost is too much to assume that I could know, just from this one experience that I have, what other people will go through,

Rick Archer: I don’t think you need to have a conceptual certainty about exactly what your role is, I think if you just continue to do what you do, then it’ll just and considering where you’re operating from, that it’ll just unfold as it’s meant to unfold. You know, you don’t have to sweat the details too much.

Sruti: Often, it seems a lot like like a romance. How so? You know, romance, that there’s not necessarily a roadmap, right? There’s not necessarily progress if it’s real love. There’s not, it’s not the same as like self help. For example, in like a self help program. There’s steps that others doing there’s a formula there’s this clear, like clear, clear signs of progress, but in law, like a 12 step program, for instance. Yeah, exactly. And that’s, that’s wonderful and helpful. But this this is much more like, like love and in love. Like you say things unfold quite spontaneously. And, and then the role. I don’t know maybe sometimes there’s teaching in relationships, but the role of real love is not quite like teaching. It is like love. It is like, humility is like some altruism, it is like not wanting to see someone you love, suffer. And, and sometimes you just you sit with someone, and you have no idea what you do. I’ve sat with people in grief. And I don’t know what to say. And I’m sure like you said, someone might sit with me and not know what the heck to say.

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Sruti: So this is much deeper than than that much kinder.

Rick Archer: I think the deeper thing is the thing that really has the the impact, you know,

Sruti: yeah,

Rick Archer: words can be trivial. Earlier on, hopefully. Well, do you have any more to say on that before I do a little segue.

Sruti: You can segue.

Rick Archer:  Okay. Earlier on, you said something about I forget the word use and might have been gratitude for the pain. It’s almost like you felt like it was a gift in a way? And do you feel like, even now if you if you take some pain medication or something, because it just gets too intense? Do you feel like you’re cheating yourself out of an opportunity?

Sruti: No, no, no, no. I’m all I’m actually, if anything, I’m much more quick to take the pain medication. Because there’s there’s not the same interest in what happens. I mean, there was some sort of dark into like an angst. There was like an angst around like I said that this if pain doesn’t go, oh my goodness, this this nightmare scenario where pain doesn’t go and I know there’s no dark abyss there. Because

Rick Archer: maybe pain has served its purpose, you know, and shifting you into this deeper state, and you really don’t need it’s like what Alan Watts said with regard to drugs, when you get the message hang up the phone. So you know, you don’t need to keep hearing the message.

Sruti: Yeah, and actually in taking so when taking codeine or something and you have kind of that high, even the high is not anything all that special, right? What these experiences are of pain or drugs is disrupting experience. It’s still disrupting experience and my interest has come to what is not an experience always and naturally. And so all the experiences like I said, maybe more challenging and then there’s reverence, maybe less challenging and then there’s joy celebration. But the when, again, to come back to even Yes, the awakening and also this type of pain that comes In use, I mean, it’s naturally a disinterest, you could say most of life. So what I mean by that is when when this pain is your reality, and and you can’t find a way to make it go away. I struggled to think of what anyone could offer me, that would be all that valuable. So you could give me, you know, millions of dollars. And to be very honest with you, it could not buy me the cure for this illness. And even with all that money, I would be operating under the same restrictions. And I would probably use it, you know, to go buy my lettuce and my supplements and do what I’ve been doing that is managing, but the lure of something else. Relationship I mentioned, I actually, I was lucky to have a very loving, long term relationship at a young age before this illness, because I don’t know if I’ll ever be able, physically, to have another relationship. But even the offer of that is stale. is

Rick Archer: stale. Did you say? And what do you mean? In other words, that doesn’t interest you anymore? Well,

Sruti: first, like I said, physically, likely will not be possible. But also emotionally. Now the offer that was there before, of love, or caring, or commitment, or loyalty, all of these things I will be experiencing, and this pain is naturally eroding them. What I’m trying to get at is the pain is eroding a lot of the promise of getting something out of life. But the greater gifts, the multimillion the spiritual multimillionaire is that my sole interest because of this challenging circumstance is God. Yeah, is only love that has no condition. And this same God, the same love the same sense of being the same wholeness is encompassing somehow all of the world of experience for me. And so instead of the interest being attached to one thing, or the other, even the greatest things that life could offer to me, the pursuit is always it’s in wrapped in itself. The seeking for what was once in suffering cannot find the foothold in the world the way it could. And the in the interest is like in the root of interest. It the fulfillment is in the source of all of my being and what I experience in the world. And so this always fulfilling Well, the springing forth of it, this, this is a gift, that of pain that is often overlooked. Because at first if you just hear that pain has, you know, sucked away the joy of all of life you don’t want that sounds kind of bleak, it sounds sort of bad, but instead of bleak, the whole world is on fire in a way that it never was the feeling of wind on your skin, the taste of a small cup of coffee, the even the experience of pain that is cutting away layers and the reverence. I mean, these experiences do not compare the fulfillment does not compare to a permanent pain relief.

Rick Archer: It’s interesting. It’s like It’s like God has made you renunciate whether you liked it or not. Exactly. And and if you talk to true renunciant or Nancy has a read the stories of their lives, especially the saints, you know, St. Teresa, and some of them went through a lot of pain, incidentally, but are St Francis and many others. It’s like, you know, they don’t have the world but they don’t miss the world because the inner world that they’ve discovered is just so sublime, that by comparison, everything else is tawdry and everything else is kind of insignificant.

Sruti: It’s sort of like because it’s quite ordinary, the sort of even gritty, the story, but then what like you said the sort of this renunciate without choice, I do often find that the most joy I experience and the deepest offering I have has become much more devotional has become much more about living a life that is totally based around inquiry and God and these these things that actually is quite funny because if you had met me before this illness, I could not have said the word God to you without extreme discomfort and misunderstanding. So there must be there’s such a deeper gift that like you said, it’s sort of even practically on a physical level, I’m I feel less pain in those environments, like feel less pain in those offerings.

Rick Archer: In those environments, meaning in spiritual environments. Yes, for

Sruti: example, I have been on retreat with three Mooji. And the, I mean, every aspect of that environment, the source of it being inquiry, but also the details, the air, the food, the people, there’s no difference for me, in God between the inquiry that’s offered that is formless and the expression of it in form and in this I have experienced pain levels will drop dramatically.

Rick Archer: Does it make you feel like living in his ashram? It does, like you might aspire to do that maybe or something?

Sruti: I am in touch with them. Oh, cool. And like I mentioned, the deeper drive for sharing is, you know, if not there, then the creation of that, because for me it it almost is sort of it is my life. I have seen people benefit. But still, like we said the it’s not quite a healing center, I have seen my wonderful therapist who survived cancer twice. And she offered to she helped found a healing center where her thing was, you know, your not your illness, but still very much based around physical healing. So what I find again, in my own life is, is physical healing has not, even if it were to come true would not satisfy me.

Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s there plenty of people who are physically very healthy and are miserable, you know, so it’s not like, it’s not the be all and end all. Incidentally, we got a nice little thank you from the mark in Santa Clara, who was asking about the sciatica he said, Wow, that was really helpful. Thank you so much.

Sruti: Thank you, Mark.

Rick Archer: Yeah.  Okay, I have some notes here that I took as I was reading your book. Just some of them are a little bit like just little pithy fragments that I thought were meaningful, like, here’s one behind the scenes, inner workings of grace, what does that elicit from you?

Sruti: So much of my drive was so practical that if I didn’t see grace working in the world of form, working within the practical, there wasn’t interested. wasn’t interested in God over there. wasn’t interested in grace over there. It wasn’t interested in an understanding that didn’t also live my life. And the living of life is also revealing the behind the scenes inner workings of grace. So actually, each moment of the practical have meant of taking a pain medication of eating certain foods, of going for a walk of managing money, anything if the intention is to reveal where these are coming from Then the real value of all of these practical details, is revealing the behind the scenes inner workings of grace, of how these, all of the practical details are coming together in ways that you don’t understand, and that are totally perfect, with the goal of always revealing how you are free of them as they are occurring. I also said somewhere else like puzzle piece reality. Which was not my experience, I’ve viewed a dark, chaotic random worlds before the pain. That was my honest, if you were to ask me, I would say, Well, I don’t know I just see random. And so the puzzle piece, the behind the scenes in our working, the developing of trust. This is coming from direct recognition. But it’s also you could say bound by time. As you live in the world of time, the world of time is revealing the timeless

Rick Archer: ice, you speak very poetically. Here’s another one, some others here I wrote down what we’ve already kind of covered them. But here’s one, God is waiting in the silence when our sense of all knowing is dropped.

Sruti: Yes, and like I said, I, you would not have caught me using that word, even a couple of years ago. So my offering of that is quite direct. God is waiting

Rick Archer: for us very little silence. Look at look at the title of your book here the hidden value of not knowing so it’s kind of a central theme, right?

Sruti: Yes, that that God is waiting for you to find? What is direct in your experience very deeply. In these moments of pain, when all I want is, God when when speaking to a doctor is not enough anymore, when speaking to an expert is not enough anymore, then the questioning is all for God. And when it’s so visceral, that way, you’re not speaking to God through a scripture anymore, you can’t there’s no time. And this most intimate longing that exists in these moments of, of the pain of feeling separate is not pain is not required to drop further to drop below, even questioning out questioning to a God over there. And this questioning is part of the knowing tendency to understand God to understand life. And sometimes in Satsang, I say we unconsciously are looking somehow accidentally for a continuous understanding. Like if we just find a continuous understanding, like we’re really gonna figure it out, like like, like, well understand, but this time, it will be totally continuous across every moment. And that’s unconsciously what we might assume. Continuous means but understanding can never be continued continuous. Even if just we look at this experience in pain where it’s gone. Even if your whole life your understanding is continuous, you will come to the edge of consciousness where it is gone. And what is deeper that remains that really is continuous. This is what I mean by God is waiting. When you drop. God is waiting in the silence. God is waiting in the absence of understanding.

Rick Archer: Well, if it were about understanding, then every night when we went to sleep, we’d be cooked because you can be totally gone. Yeah, you can’t understand why you’re asleep. So we’re kind of what we’re talking about here is something that actually is more fundamental than even the sleep state.

Sruti: And actually you can do this at night. If you’d like to mimic the experience of this pain. Everyone mimics it at night. Everyone is crossing into unconsciousness at night. Still where you see where you are aware to even wake up the next morning and tell someone I fell asleep last night. That’s so simple. Yeah. The simplest awareness does not sleep. It does not fall asleep. Just consciousness falls comes false. And so actually in sometimes also in pain, like I mentioned being woken up by the pain at night, even the concept of sleep shifts, because if you’re always intent on being, then you know, you don’t sleep, you know, you don’t experience that pain and also you don’t sleep you are always resting, watching the fluctuation in and out of consciousness even.

Rick Archer: There was an Indian saint and and thought, well, Ababa and somebody asked him one time do you sleep? And he said, What would happen to the universe if I slept?

Sruti: I remember Ramana I believe, I believe he said something like, I don’t sleep. And His devotees said, but we hear you snoring at night. Yeah, that’s not what he meant. Because he’s not referencing the consciousness.

Rick Archer: The Song of Solomon, the Bible verse, it says, I sleep though my heart wake. Yes, I have a file on my computer have like dozens of quotes like that all about that inner awareness during sleep? Here’s a question that somebody asked. Let’s see, Jeff from Louisville, Colorado asks, I don’t think we quite covered this can the wisdom of your path be a guide for those not in physical pain, but in mental or psychological pain? Well, which everybody in the world is in to some extent or another?

Sruti: Oh, there’s physical pain, and then there is suffering. And suffering is usually about the physical pain. Like I said, the pain the suffering can end even if the pain continues. So actually, what I really feel I’m offering is much more about suffering than physical pain.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, someone once said that expressed the opinion that Christ never suffered. And you say anything like that people say, What were you talking about? How could you not have suffering but look at what he went through? Yeah, but go ahead and elaborate a little bit more.

Sruti: My deeper interest is in this suffering, actually. The physical pain is not so interesting to me deeply. It is truly a tool like I write and the resolution of suffering is deeply interesting to me. And so it doesn’t quite certainly there’ll be similarities of if I’m approached by those in physical pain. But physical pain does not guarantee that this offering is what you’re looking for it any given time.

Rick Archer: Here’s a quote from your book actually, let me just read it here. He said, pain is God’s tool to help us let go of the personal in favor of the eternal and intense pain nothing but God will satisfy our suffering can end even if the pain continues.

Sruti: Yes, and this is you could say my, my whole being is oriented around this these sentences. I am not in a position to offer pain management. I’m not in a position to offer recovery. And I’m also not deeply interested in because they did not bring me and could not bring me what it is I have. And instead of looking elsewhere, to heal or to fix all of my orientation is in these sentences in recognizing what is already okay. And to contact not just to hear it from me and say, Well, someone named Shruti said it was okay. If it’s truly valuable to contact what is already okay in the midst of any type of suffering. This one contact this one clarity is like its own healing because it rises up And pervades every aspect of what you thought was suffering. And you are already in a healing of being you could say, You’re healed at the point of contact. And then also your life is transforming in all of these spiritual ways. And my total interest is in bringing attention to the gateway to the point of contact to what is so valuable that I find always in my experience, in my darkest experiences, and my lightest, and I don’t really mind what type of suffering it is. The same way I don’t know about progress. I mind if the suffering is more valuable to you? Still, or it’s a mistaken value, then what is always not suffering? The contact where you already sense you are not suffering, and can you rest there is there encouragement to rest there and resting is the investigation. Resting is the doing of it.

Rick Archer: Here’s a little quote from your book that somehow what you just said, reminded me of, but has a different flavor. And maybe you can elaborate on it. You said, real prayer is not an asking but a being.

Sruti: Coming from someone who rarely prayed? Yes, prayer is such a high and valuable orientation. In fact, I am envious of those whose pathway is prayer and very different than what I experienced. But somehow, in prayer that’s arising in these moments of extreme suffering. Where I don’t even know what I’m praying to. Almost immediately it’s going even deeper than prayer. Because prayer is still asking to something outside of your experience. It’s just this simplest shift of value. Where even the highest because prayer I mean, such gratitude such humility and prayer, such intimacy such longing in prayer in ways that you know, if you’re seeking the self sometimes this maybe that’s a more intellectual path. So all I’m saying here is that even the highest expression of prayer, I feel prayer is so beautiful. If it remains still an asking between you and another, you will suffer that longing of that distance, especially in a moment of intense suffering. I don’t want any distance. I don’t want even anything outside of myself. It will leave it will vanish the one I am praying to and I won’t know that one is I cross and am I really crossing so true prayer is not an asking but a being it’s like the prayer is rising up out of what cannot leave out of being that naturally cannot leave because being is what you are.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And if we’re praying to God, and whatever we understand God to be if there is a sort of an external orientation, then exactly where is he hiding out? You know, I mean, is he on the on the Dark Side of the Moon or where does he live?

Sruti: Oh, yeah, it’s quite it is it is. I know for me this was so urgent and earnest because I didn’t have the background with God and I felt so left like hanging out to dry in this extreme intense experience. And I there I want I want God I don’t know if I’m going to be annihilated I don’t know what the pain will do to me. I mean, these are just like some of the most humbling questions to have. And there’s even a chapter in this book where I write about rolling on the floor pleading with God please God make the pain stop and it’s just like he couldn’t words can’t even like the twisted in its Praise, praise God. Like, it’s just as this is not within my upbringing, or my conditioning and my personality and yet Still, the resolution of this, this pleading and this praise, the most intense moments, even the pleading, and the praise will go. And I must know more directly the source of these things, the source of myself, will my source be annihilated? And this you don’t need pain to realize this recognition of always now always here, always home. Always God always love always existence. In each moment, there is no separation. And if your inquiry is not as dramatic as watching them leave, your inquiry can also be the noticing of them as separate from you as a basic questioning of how the heck are these things separate from me?

Rick Archer: It’s interesting, all the points you’re making kind of like segue nicely into little snippets that I’ve written down here. But it’s because I think, pretty much the whole time we’re actually talking about the same thing. We’re just getting at it from Little different angles.

Sruti: That’s how I feel the whole book is, isn’t it?

Rick Archer: It is, Yeah. But it’s not, it’s not redundant. You know, it’s, it’s, each one is like a different flavor of this. Like, it’s all ice cream, but different flavors of ice cream. But here’s a nice one. And perhaps you can juxtapose this with your experience, which many people going through the kind of pain you have gone through, would not resonate with this little quote, and, but it would help them to be able to, and the quote is, “the fabric of our universe is more benevolent than we know”.

Sruti: Yes, this this, this is a little bit what I spoke about when I said that I truly saw a Heart of Darkness. And every experience of pain seemed to confirm, because it was bad. A chaotic, random Heart of Darkness. And just the eye don’t lie about the extraordinary bitterness, the rage, the very deep despair. And that, strangely, it was coming up because of the same pain that would later free me from these things. And, yes, that to feel to know directly a fabric that is benevolence, beneath what is bad, and to say it is very powerful. And to say that the seeds of that sentence come actually from extraordinary bitterness. I mean, there’s some very dark artwork we could put up and you might believe me. But again, saying these things will not be as powerful as the inquiry that I offer, in the very beginning of this book in my direct experience. So in some ways, I’ve even said to people I the book is written from within pain, I feel it is very direct. Sometimes I even feel it’s it’s a bit long. It’s a short book, and I feel it, it’s not well, a bit long for someone in pain. Like if I read it and I sometimes do in pain, I just want the heart and went to the heart of the matter. I don’t have time. And I want to know these things directly. I don’t necessarily even want to hear someone telling me these things. So there’s some value in saying it like that. There’s other passages that you know, puzzle piece reality, benevolent universe fabric of love. How do you come to that? What are the tools to come to that what is the most powerful tool to break through extraordinary bitterness, to really truly words that are pointing to a very different lived reality. And you my whole offering is in that one passage I read to you in some ways, if I was in extreme pain, I needed to know that I needed to be handed the tools just end of the line tools. This experience is that it’s a framework almost. It’s a framework for your direct inquiry. Whether you’re in pain or not, you have the power to see these layers. Whether you’re in pain or not, you have the power of attention.

Rick Archer: Speaking of layers, here’s a question that just came in from Frank in Norway. And he asks Shruti has talked about layers? Can she describe them in more detail? Is there a hierarchy of layers? Is it helpful to see them and work through them one by one from the simplest to the most subtle,

Sruti: they can be. I don’t know there’s a hierarchy. But I often do them in a certain order.

Rick Archer: The order enumerate them a little bit, or what

Sruti: it is actually the order that they disappeared in real life. So the first layer would be the body. And there is actually a short, I call it a meditation on vision at the very end of this book that sort of does this by the way, after someone asked me how to do it. And more than doing is this exercise is really an exercise in seeing, not an exercise and doing. And so the first layer we often come up against is the body, the outer layer. And this body awareness is checking into the body is the first step. For me in pain, this is happening sort of automatically. So to check in with each sensation, in this moment, of what it feels like in this body. Just stay at the level of body for a moment. And for me, for example, there is pain now. Mostly I’m checking in because of pain. And I am I’m noticing pain in the part of the body it’s located and allowing it to also bounce to other parts of the body that there’s no pain. And this is just a common body awareness practice that anyone can offer. And as you’re aware of your body in this moment, you can also allow the attention to be on any thoughts that come up. And if you’re in pain, the attention is anchored. And the thoughts are appearing. In the midst of your practice of this body awareness. And when first you’re practicing body awareness, and your attention is rooted in this moment, you can let the thoughts just come up and not elaborate on them. Not let the attention go and analyze what they’re saying. Not be interested in what the content of the thoughts are just same as the body where you feel a sensation in the body. You feel a mental sensation.

Rick Archer: Treat the thoughts as if they’re in Japanese. Yes.

Sruti: Yes, it’s helpful to be in a foreign country by the way Yeah. Feelings. As I’ve mentioned, they are the bridge often between body and thought. You feel feelings as sensations in your body. And yet they’re often hooked into a why or how or a knee and all of that is hooked into thought. And naturally in this practice of widening the scope of your attention to not fixate but remain present. You are able to encompass all of the layers as equal. sensation. Thought is sensation. Feeling is sensation body is sensation. Pain is sensation. And as you do this, there’s like this soup of sensation. And somehow your attention encompasses all of that soup. Whether you start one by one, or you’re able to just drop, these layers remain on the same plane. And as all these layers are occurring, we come to other more common practices like breathing, like eyesight. And this was my experience in pain, that after each of these other layers that were used to vanish, or in this case are seen, we come to the basic parts of experience of breathing and eyesight, and simple awareness. And if this is your whole practice, of coming to basic awareness, this is enough for a while, but never is any of my offering, stopping there even the breathing and the eyesight and the awareness of the soup you could say the knowing of awareness is your most immediate possibility in this moment always. And you are seeing not just the soup of these layers, not just the soup of experience, you are seeing the bubble of experience. You are seeing the edges of consciousness from a place that isn’t even conscious that doesn’t need consciousness to see. That doesn’t know anything. Because it’s knowing is so much more direct is just recognition. This one you will not know about you will not know about yourself as earliest division. It won’t matter and none of the soup will be all that intelligible. The whole practice of touching into these layers is to touch into come earlier to stay earlier and the true desire the true desire to know what you cannot ever prove or describe to anyone and for this there is no practice. For this there is no doing for this there’s just meeting before you meet another your intention is to meet to see if you can meet your earliest cell. What will that meeting look like? Will there be two? Is it enough to recognize where you are aware from instead of what you are aware of. In my experience, what you are aware of has transient and fleeting value. That word of means leaving it means it leaves me

Rick Archer: I would say that even though for this there is no practice as you just said, because what you’re referring to precedes it’s in a realm which practices can’t touch it by this but on the other hand, just as pain for you was a sort of practice it wasn’t like a voluntary practice and but but it chipped away at that which, you know, clung to the transitory and He kind of forced you into that realm, which precedes the transitory there are actual practices which can help do that as well, you know, that people have traditionally practiced throughout the ages. They are more voluntary than what you have undergone gratefully. But they can nonetheless be effective in kind of thinning the clouds, you know,

Sruti: there’s always the choice also of attention. Yeah. And I’d hesitate to call that a practice, even although, I suppose what we just did was a bit of a practice, the choice of attention is the strongest choice. And you could say that in this moment of intense pain, for me, it was yes, deeper than choice to have to somehow, you could say, remain present in this volatile circumstance. Really, the choice is attention. Where, what, what is the attention fixing on that is of most value, the hidden value of not knowing is even in the title of this writing is, is it’s not so much about right and wrong or correct or not correct? Or doing the practice, right, it’s more about a deep sense of value of interest. And somehow that interest, like can explode into itself, where you think you’re interested in something. And instead, you’re finding the source of interest itself?

Rick Archer: It does seem that that’s one thing we do have a handle on, you know, is our attention where we choose to put it? Very much. Yeah. Here’s a question who came in from walk us Khan from Pakistan? Who asked greetings Shruti. From your experience, what is your perspective or experience of the unified consciousness, what is usually referred to as a cosmic consciousness, not as a mental understanding of interconnectedness, but pure experiential, waking state of objective reality?

Sruti: I don’t know how to answer differently

Rick Archer: than you already have, or differently than you’re about to

Sruti: both. See the where the question is coming from, I know from myself, you could say this, there’s not really an interest in cosmic reality,

Rick Archer: I guess he’s kind of wondering whether what you’re experiencing is what has been referred to by various sages and scriptures and so on, you know, he’s wondering if that’s what you have somehow glommed on to?

Sruti: It feels like there is no me in the world. And this I feel, intimately indirectly. And what I mean by I’m not interested is I don’t I don’t be so fulfilling that I don’t really mind if it’s not the great cosmic understanding. And I don’t mind in pain. I didn’t I didn’t mind if the answers did not align with spirituality. This is much more urgent and humble. That if I could not attain something, I was not interested. And my direct experience so profound, so fulfilling, so deeply, such deep relief and end of the line interest that even the idea of those things is of less value than what is my direct experience each moment. And so what the reason I’m answering this way is that I don’t feel that the answer is different than my offer. I don’t feel the answer is different than what I say very directly. About and in my experience, I do sometimes find that what I say a lie ends with certain traditions, and it aligns with certain terms. For example, I, I came up off the floor and discovered Shri moody and found absolutely everything was more than alignment. It was in pain, the whole world was speaking. Like you say, Japanese or something foreign. I couldn’t even hear regular words, but I could hear the words that Sri Mooji was saying. And I’ve read Ramana Maharshi, his book in hindsight, and find that the offer there, there’s some alignment, but the interest in alignment, the interest in in comparison, I even in the mildest form is not bringing me anything of value. And especially when pain is still being experienced. My offer remains so immediate. Yeah. So immediate also for others, where instead of being so concerned, because I do have some people in Satsang, you know, oh, this sounds like I am that, or, Oh, this sounds like I am the seer. And perhaps, but I will I sort of leave that up to you. Because I don’t have the energy or interest, especially when pain is the reason and the ongoing driver. And pointing to the ongoing fulfillment. To pretend that I can make those kinds of a line

Rick Archer: seems to me like that your experience is its own confirmation, you know, and its own justification. And it’s known with an immediacy of directness and certainty, that doesn’t really require external authorities to confirm it, or, you know, articulate it or anything like that.

Sruti: And in some ways, it in order to have the courage to share, sometimes, even just you share the the nature of the pain, and you don’t commonly find young women sharing the nature of pain, like I wouldn’t have, I would have been embarrassed, I would have been maybe even ashamed. So somehow to have recognition that is valuable in that level, at the deepest offer, is also is present in my whole being an offering and sharing. And, again, to it would be a mistake to assume that this is avoiding a question. This is deeper than that question even deeper than proof and deeper than needing to confirm, like you said, deeper than needing to confirm. And it’s it has to be that way, or else we’d get stuck five minutes into this interview. And I wouldn’t tell you with such honesty, about things that are very, very challenging sometimes, yeah, I would not do it.

Rick Archer: There’s something that occurred to me a few minutes ago, as we were talking about the fabric of our universe is more benevolent than we know. And I’ll try to express it but, you know, we live in a culture in which the dominant paradigm has been material, scientific, culture, scientific worldview, in which the universe is assumed to be mechanistic and in a way meaningless. And, and and many people feel that to quote my friend Alex, to Karis, if skeptiko.com that we’re we’re biological robots you know, in a in a meaningless universe. And, but, I think, you know, if we, if we consider that in the light of the the idea that the universe the fabric of the universe is actually benevolent, then it may be that our very culture is going to be put through and is already being put through a metamorphosis, which may involve pain, you know, on a social or collective level, much as involved, it was involved for you on an individual level, and that you know, what we there may be travails, difficulties, trials and tribulations that Did that seem capricious that that seemed if we have this mechanistic viewpoint that the you know, the vagaries of, of a cruel or mechanistic or heartless universe, but that actually in the big picture and at the deepest level, are something very benign, taking place unnecessary purging, or that is essential for waking humanity up. So that is a little bit long winded. Irene has been riding over here. But I’m not writhing but sighing and just just pixelating and yawning. So, but I think you probably understood what I said, and did you have any comments on it?

Sruti: I was listening.

Rick Archer: Just Just a recap that that on a collective level, we may be going through an awakening which recapitulates the individual awakening, and in which many of the same symptoms that individuals go through will be seen on a societal scale.

Sruti: Perhaps you could make a metaphor with recovering from addiction, you see the same very similar symptoms and feelings and processes across many different people. And I do feel that many awakenings do involve some type of pain. And that it’s not all that personal. I haven’t I mean is. The experience of the of how you deal with pain or bitterness or whatnot is not all that personal, I feel. The value of sharing an experience like this, is if indeed these awakenings that we’re seeing now involve pain like that. The challenge is then does this pain, bring us deeper into disillusionment? Or is there some guidance or trust? That actually this pain is like a tool handed to us collectively? And yes, we do. See, we’ve seen some very painful things play out globally recently, that seem like things are getting worse. And I have to say that very deeply, I don’t feel that way. I don’t feel that things are getting worse. And it is directly because of what I’m offering. From my experience of seeing things get worse. Because what’s available is a much deeper understanding of the worlds and understanding of yourself in the world. And where pain and suffering come from. If this is part of the value of sharing, then like I said, some of the most powerful awakenings can be if you find the candle that cannot go out as you’re walking through the valley of the shadow of darkness, like why do you have to wait? My whole book is white, why you wait to leave the valley? To find the light? Why do you need to recover to find out who you are in that suffering who is not suffering? If you find this once, if you find what cannot be put out by pain, then this is the strongest awakening I can imagine, at least for me. There were many experiences of awakening, but the strength, the foundation, the solidity, the unshakable beneath confirmation, beyond doubt. This actually came from the darkest moment. It’s just an offer. It doesn’t have to be that way. We don’t have to do that to find stability. And you’re seeing like I said, I’ve seen many different pathways.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So for those listening, if Donald Trump gets elected president you don’t have to move to Canada. In the big picture despite the the bleakness of the prospect to the next four years, something good is happening. And it’s all this kind of all is well and wisely put, and we’ll see how the divine drama plays out.

Sruti: If at least just with you.

Rick Archer: Have you been in pain during this interview?

Sruti: Yes, I am in pain now,

Rick Archer: more than, I mean it looked like kind of came over your face after a while more it builds.

Sruti: Like I said, it’s a it’s like a an ongoing experience of form. And if this, if this understanding, were not so deeply loving, I would always see it as a disruption. But instead of a disruption, I always see it as a guidance. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Beautiful. Well, that’s a good note to end on. And I should let you go. So thank you very much for this conversation. It’s, I think people have been enjoying it, and many more will enjoy it when it you know, goes on for about 100 people have been listening throughout. And when we put it up on BatGap, many more will listen in the coming weeks, and months and years. So

Sruti: Well thank you so much for having me on. It’s such a pleasure.

Rick Archer: Yeah, pleasure for me, too, and blessings on your path. I hope that you know, if if you get to get to live in Mooji’s ashram if that’s what you want to do, or that whatever happens, you know, that even though pain has been a teacher for you, I hope it’s already done its role and you can be relieved of it

Sruti: I see what you’re saying.

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Sruti: Thank you.

Rick Archer: So I’ve been speaking with Shruti. And, as usual, have a page for her on batgap.com and have a little bio and links to her book and her website. And so on. The Satsang as you do, are they just in Boulder, or is there something on? Do they? Are they online live? I know you have a lot of your satsangs on on the internet on YouTube. Have you

Sruti: We’ve been

Rick Archer: on YouTube, but

Sruti: we’ve

Rick Archer: Can you actually tune in live?

Sruti: But we’ve been trying to get recordings up there. I’m realizing now that we need to have webcasts.

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Sruti: So something that we’re beginning to offer that I’m working out, because I’m not familiar.

Rick Archer: Some people use Zoom for that. You might want to check into zoom.

Sruti: Okay. Yeah, we live webcast, because there is there are people in Boulder but I am aware that the

Rick Archer:  big world out there

Sruti:  there is yeah. Is much beyond Boulder.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, great. Well, people will be getting in touch, I’m sure, both far and wide and near and far. And it’s really been great speaking with you. Next week, I’ll be speaking with David Spangler, who was one of the original founders of Findhorn up in Scotland. And that should be an interesting conversation. And as I mentioned in the beginning, this is an ongoing series. So if, if this is new to you, go to batgap.com. And you’ll find all the past ones archived, you’ll find a list of all the upcoming ones that have been scheduled so far. There’s a place to sign up to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted. You can also subscribe on YouTube and YouTube will notify you when a new one is posted. There’s an audio podcast of this you don’t feel like for those who don’t feel like sitting in front of their computer for a couple hours. You can listen while you’re driving, and so on. And donate button as I mentioned earlier, and a number of other things, explore the menus on batgap.com. There aren’t too many of them, but there’s some interesting little resources and things that people might enjoy. So thanks for listening or watching and thanks again. Shruti.

Sruti: Thank you, Rick. Thank you. Such a pleasure.

Rick Archer: Yeah, pleasure. And we’ll see you all next week.