Stephen D’Amico Transcript

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Stephen D’Amico 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 have done over 400 of them by now. And if this is new to you, please go to the past interviews menu, and that Bat gap where you’ll see all the previous ones. The show is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it, there’s a Donate button on every page of the site. And we really appreciate and rely upon the support that we have been receiving in whatever amount, large or small. My guest today is Steven D’Amico. Stephen is a spiritual teacher, mystical poet and author. At the age of 22, he went through a profound spiritual transformation that culminated in a permanent realization of his true nature. Since then, his life has been devoted to understanding the spiritual path from an evolutionary perspective, and helping others reconnect with their true nature to bring to help bring about a global awakening and human consciousness. The main way he does this is through the direct transmission of the enlightened state of being which connects others with their own true nature. In the past, Stephen has worked in the field of conflict resolution and restorative justice as a mediator facilitator, trainer and project leader for youth social action groups. He’s also taught at both the elementary and high school levels focusing on the special needs of students with learning disabilities. Currently, he and his wife Eniko, run Millwood melt a lively grilled cheese restaurant in their beloved community of Lee’s Dale in Toronto. And in honor of that, I had a cheese sandwich for lunch. But it wasn’t grilled. I needed Steven for that and he wasn’t here. Custom customers and students playfully refer to Stephen as the grilled cheese guru. When not feeding bodies, Stephen lives and breathes to feed souls. He currently hosts transformational gatherings, songs, and offers individuals enlightened guidance and support via phone Skype or in person. He is the author of two books, the incredible state of absolute nothingness, a personal account of spiritual Enlightenment, and Heaven on Earth, a guide to Enlightenment and human unity. And I managed to read both of them cover to cover in the past week, and I enjoyed them a lot. So one of the things Stephen did when he was in college was take creative writing courses, and he’s a good writer and conveys his experiences very, very clearly. Because I’m sure you’ll see in this interview. So Steven, thanks, welcome. Well, thank

Stephen D’Amico: you, Rick. It’s, it’s really a pleasure to be here.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Good to have you. Got a few questions already that came in from people, which I’ll be asking in the course of the interview. But maybe for starters, your your book, The Incredible state of absolute nothingness is a nice, I guess we’d say biographical account of your life. And it might be good to start on that note. You, you know, you say in your book, that it’s kind of unique that you knew your true nature as a young person as a child, but actually, it’s, it’s maybe somewhat rare, but not altogether uncommon. Among the people I interviewed, there are quite a few people I’ve interviewed who, you know, relate a similar thing. And then like, like you, they tend to lose it in their teenage years. And then And then, you know, generally among people I interview, they’ve regained it, which is why I’m interviewing them. And one fellow who was also from Toronto, incidentally, said he only had a 15 minute period and his whole life where he lost his awareness of his true nature. And he said it didn’t want to live, but he managed to recover it after 15 minutes. But in any case, I guess you were saying that from your earliest recollection, you knew who and what you were.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, there was there was a connection for sure. But let me just quickly qualify that because it’s my view is that it’s happens for all human beings. We all lose it. Yeah. What degree and how long does it last? And, yeah.

Rick Archer: Do you think we all have it at some point during our lives, or just the most people come in totally Blotto? You know, they’ve lost it from birth.

Stephen D’Amico: No, I don’t think so I think we all come in, you know, sort of still connected to source as awareness. But we’re identifying with they’re learning to identify with the body. Yeah. As we do that, and the more identified we come with the body, then, you know, often what happens is, as we’re developing human egos, we lose all connection to true nature.

Rick Archer: Right? And do you see that as a sort of unnecessary evolutionary progression that you kind of have to lose it in order to regain it in a way so as to actually be able to live it and as a human being,

Stephen D’Amico: probably as a human being for now, at this stage in our evolution? I don’t know about the future. But yeah, seems the way it goes now.

Rick Archer: They say that people who, who come in totally self realized and never lose, it aren’t actually people, their avatars, you know, who are here for a specific purpose, but the common lot tends to lose. Now, you also mentioned that you remembered later on in your life, having chosen your parents, and I’ve heard that before, I’ve heard, you know, spiritual teachers say that we choose our parents, according to the, the sort of karmic fit that a certain pair of individuals will, will provide. And I’m gonna just elaborate on that a little bit.

Stephen D’Amico: Well, I, you know, I think it happens. Yeah. It happens for all human beings, I think all human souls as the incarnate

Rick Archer: some people might say, I would never have chosen my parents if I had been given a choice or Why would some poor soul who’s born in Sudan or something choose to be born in those circumstances? What would you say to them?

Stephen D’Amico: Well, those are those are heavy questions, right? Usually, there’s, there’s a karmic reason for every every decision as you as you prepare for incarnation, I can’t say what that would be for any particular individual. But it seems to me that that’s the way it works.

Rick Archer: Okay. Now, I’m gonna just refer to some little notes I took while I was reading your book, and if I’m jumping ahead too fast, and there are things that you want to say to fill in the gaps, please just, you know, contribute that, but one thing you referred to, was, as a child, of a sudden, a subtle vision that arose in your mind’s eye every night before falling asleep. That sounded significant. What was that vision?

Stephen D’Amico: Well, it was the vision itself was what I call trance vehicles of transformation. These are all the little subtle forms that can arise as part of our inner journey. All kinds of things can happen. But that particular form was what many traditions referred to as the divine spark. And as a child, and as a baby, really, I was able to perceive that through my mind’s eye, before it fell asleep every night. And what it would do is expand my beingness into both what I now call the luminous nirvana or the light of God, and also the formless presence, that is God before manifestation.

Rick Archer: So how would you describe it? Like you say, divine spark? Was it just like a little glowing ball of light or something, or what?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, it’s a spark Pratham distance, but then as I focused on it, grow and expand, and fill my entire field of awareness. And in fact, I just lost all sense of identity and merged with the light.

Rick Archer: And that would be your nightly experience as a as a young child,

Stephen D’Amico: every night. Nice.

Rick Archer: And then, would you retain that as you were sleeping? Or would you sort of blackout when you actually went to sleep?

Stephen D’Amico: No, yeah, I wouldn’t retain it, it would sort of be a process of expanding and becoming one with this luminous dimension. And there was another part of the experience, that would, is what I refer to as a contraction face. So I would sort of the light within return as a form in my mind’s eye until it became just a tiny point. And I myself actually have to merge with that point and dissolve all sense of self. And that that would lead to the formless dimension.

Rick Archer: So every night you dissolved, all sense of self merged with the formless dimension, and then went to sleep.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah. Sometimes I would, you know, it was this process of going through the inner light expanding into that and then dissolving into the formless and then into the light again, over and over again. I mean, it you know, it was always wonderful. So sometimes I let it go for hours.

Rick Archer: Well Is that something that you could have described to friends back at the time? Or was it something you kind of remembered later on in life as having happened?

Stephen D’Amico: Oh, I’m sure I could have tried to explain it. Yeah. I don’t think it was beyond my ability to explain it. But I didn’t think anyone would believe me.

Rick Archer: Yeah. But you were well aware of it and enjoyed it and welcomed it every night. Yeah.

Stephen D’Amico: And I’ve spoken to secret since then. And it’s not an uncommon experience. It does happen for people.

Rick Archer: Yeah. To me, that suggests that the, the connection with your true nature was very lively and very strong and very clear, and that it wasn’t overshadowed to a very great degree. So that even the sort of the diminishing of sensory input that happens when we go to sleep enabled it to just kind of blossom forth, naturally. Would that be a fair? Description? You

Stephen D’Amico: think? Yeah, yeah, sure. Yeah. It happened quite naturally.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And when you woke up in the morning, was there a similar thing where the sensory input hadn’t begin to begin to impinge upon you yet. And so there was like this flood of pure awareness before you got into your day or what?

Stephen D’Amico: In the mornings, were unique in the sense that I would, I would also have a state of awareness throughout sleep, particularly during dreams. So you’ve heard people describe having the witness throughout waking, lucid dreaming, yeah. So I would have that as well. And so often, when I woke up, or as I was waking up, I’d be aware that it was returning to my, this little body, you know, being a person in the world, but I would still retain an awareness of true nature as I was waking up. And often during that time, I would, I would have a quick review or a scan of my dreams from the night from that night and just seem to naturally understood understand what they meant, how they related to me, as part of my own inner work as a kid,

Rick Archer: that’s pretty neat. I was gonna ask you about that. Maintaining awareness during sleep, I have a file on my computer that’s a compilation of quotes from a whole lot of different spiritual teachers and you know, going some ancient ones and some modern ones, things from the Bible and everything else, all related to that very experience that in the awakened person, however you want to describe it, there’s a continuity of pure awareness underlying or are continuing throughout waking, dreaming and sleeping that nothing overshadows it. You know, in a term, Turia fourth, right, and waking, dreaming sleeping are the first 3123, then to reappear awareness is the fourth and it said that once attained clearly and stably, that fourth state is perpetual, as the other three rotate around. So I guess that you’re saying that was pretty much your experience? Yeah. Yeah. And then then you lost it during your teenage years? And then did it return? I mean, is that your, your experience now? Pretty much?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, pretty much. Yeah. Not to the same degree. There was a period where I focused on establishing that the fourth stage is true, but three is true. And so I worked very diligently at it to ensure that in fact, it was possible and for months, I had 24 hour witnessing awareness but now I it’s not it’s either it comes and goes during sleep and dreaming. Yeah, sure. But it doesn’t concern me all that much.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I have friends who say something similar. They say you know that that went on for years and they got to a point where they thought I really just can’t go you know, I don’t want to be awake through just assume sleep.

Stephen D’Amico: There’s I mean, there was a period where I was sleeping as an experiment for like 16 hours a day to see if it was possible to maintain uninterrupted immersion in the formless state. And finally, I heard a voice which I refer to as you know, the divine which is like enough already.

Rick Archer: There was a sage in the Vedic literature name called named Durga tamas and his whole thing was he liked to sleep he would sleep for like six months at a time and all but he was this great same same time.

Stephen D’Amico: Like to sleep a whole lot and I have memories of my dad trying to wake me up grabbing Ronnie guy, truck driver mover and he would try to wake me up and I just wouldn’t wake up and he would actually grab my mattress and shake it like a sheet. And I would just uncooked spaghetti just rolling around. I knew he was doing this but it didn’t break my sleep.

Rick Archer: That’s funny. Yeah, some Yogi’s do that with Samadhi you do it with sleep okay, Ah, well, we’re gonna, again, continue on with. Let’s, let’s go, let’s stick with the autobiographical a bit more before we get into some of these other points. So what else is there that’s significant to recount about your childhood years in terms of spiritual experiences, spiritual thoughts and aspirations, before you got to that point where you started to lose it and knew you were going to lose it, and we were kind of dreading and resisting the inevitable loss.

Stephen D’Amico: I guess, you know, maybe the only thing that’s really significant is that I had discovered these little ways of reconnecting whenever I felt like I was becoming a little a little too identified with my, my sense of personhood or individuality or just, you know, being a person or body in the world and not feeling connected to the transpersonal or, or witnessing state. So I had the I discovered these little little techniques that I would use as a way to reestablish reestablish that connection. While I was going about my everyday life,

Rick Archer: like what,

Stephen D’Amico: probably the most significant one was just staring at myself in a mirror. And as I would do this, I would, my, my awareness would just naturally expand. And I’d be aware more of the witness simply by just gazing at my form in the mirror. And that would that would always lead to a total immersion in beingness itself. And I would realize like being this, not only am I being this, but that being this as the the source and the substance of everything in existence, then then that would be a little too overwhelming at times, I just couldn’t believe that that was the truth. And I just sort of pull back and just abide in the witness.

Rick Archer: And how old were you at this stage when you’re having these realizations?

Stephen D’Amico: Four or five? I mean, it was it was it was there before I had conceptual knowledge. Yeah. As I was developing a conceptual understanding of my own experience, which happens as we develop as human beings, I would, I would start to understand it in a way, you know, self reflexive, verbal kind of way that we comment or experience.

Rick Archer: That’s pretty cool. I compare, you know, that to kind of things I was concerned with when I was at age, you know, and during all those all those years, just like, and you really got to jumpstart.

Stephen D’Amico: I had the same concerns too, though. Yeah. Yeah. We still a boy. Yeah, yeah.

Rick Archer: But it’s remarkable. Maybe it’ll become more and more common now as as society as a world wakes up, but I think it’s neat. So, okay, so you mentioned some techniques, where you said, the mirror gazing is said to mothers, I don’t know if these were things you were doing in your childhood? Or what like tracing back the witness quantum gazing, things like that. Was that or is that stuff you’ve developed later on?

Stephen D’Amico: I think the quantum gazing thing was more in my teenage years. But tracing back the witness, which was sort of just allowing myself to shift into the that observing state, I would just, you know, ask myself, what is the source of this? I was doing that from quite a young age. Okay.

Rick Archer: That’s good. Now you can.

Stephen D’Amico: That’s a form of self inquiry. I mean, everybody knows Roman is but the main method or technique that I teach people is simply that to sort of allow yourself to get in touch with the witness. And then as you’re abiding in that probe deeper into what is the source of this witnessing, that leads to beingness, the fullness of being this true nature, mean? Many different things.

Rick Archer: A question just came in from Jen Essman from Copenhagen, whom I’ve interviewed a couple of times, actually. And he said, If he was experiencing the witnessing that is associated with self realization, he would experience dreamless sleep as bliss is or was that your experience?

Stephen D’Amico: Bliss? Not as much it was, you know, more Peace Committee. But, you know, there was definite bliss during the light. Yeah, you

Rick Archer: did mention a stage at which you didn’t even dream that might have been later on after your big awakening at 22. Right. Yeah. Yeah. And we’ll, we’ll talk more about that and about bliss. But let’s let’s do a little bit more on on the witness thing. I know that you do have you do kind of advocate, witnessing as a practice and I’m, I must admit that I have a sort of an ingrained bias that was kind of drilled into my head by marshy Mahesh Yogi who was my teacher for many years, he was really emphatic that witnessing is not something one does or should try to do, that a sort of an attempt at witnessing will divide the mind. And that witnessing is actually more of a quality of awakened consciousness where the there’s a natural contrast between the silence of pure awareness and the dynamism of activity, and that you don’t have to do it any more than you do being clean after having taken a shower, you know, you just sort of It’s a natural condition that just is with you, or it’s not, and he kind of cautioned against trying to do anything, because he said it would divide the mind and make you less effective and activity and sort of create an inner strain. But you do have a Cait, you know, some sort of practice to try to culture develop the witness. So maybe you could help me reconcile that. That discrepancy?

Stephen D’Amico: I think what he’s he’s describing can happen, you can sort of set up a mental position where you think, Oh, I’m observing my mind. So this is the witness. But really, you’re just dividing the mind between sort of a partial amount of your awareness, which is now looking, or attempting to see what’s arising?

Rick Archer: Yeah. Because when you say witnessing, you don’t mean some little part of you over here is witnessing the rest of you over there. You mean a contrast between the unboundedness? Which is your true nature and anything in the relative world, right?

Stephen D’Amico: Yes, yeah. But in terms of understanding the dynamics of this, like, from a, from a psychological perspective, you have awareness, I have awareness, we all have awareness. So although, you know, there are things we can do to, to think that we’re getting in touch with our own awareness, we can get in touch with our own awareness, you can do it now. I can do it now. And so the process or the technique of connecting with the witness is to actually abide in awareness. And at first, you’re just aware, and you’re like, okay, so yeah, great. I’m aware, that’s not a big deal. But if you don’t, if you don’t, if you say if you let that pass the sort of the, the dissatisfaction with the non, the non significance of the fact that you have awareness and actually continue to keep your attention on your own awareness, it naturally expands into the witness.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Here’s a passage from your book, you said, subjectively, it felt like my identity was divided into two parts, an impersonal side on the one hand, and my personal sense of self on the other.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, yeah. That is the experience when you connect with a witness, right? You sort of zoom back or, you know, zoom up or zoom out of, you know, and you then realize that you have a body but you’re not a body. You have your mind, but you’re not just your mind that there’s something about us that is bigger than our own personal selves in the world.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And that’s by its nature, at least at one stage of our experience not involved in activity, right.

Stephen D’Amico: It’s our beingness their beingness Yeah, it’s we’re human beings so the human part is the doing part and the being is the part that is inactive. Yeah, yeah. It’s the it’s the it’s the bird on the tree and the that you punish on one birds that’s about it. And the other one sits idly right.

Rick Archer: Chando Yeah, I think and there are a lot of verses in the Gita to about this how, you know, in acting and sitting and walking and standing and drinking and whatever you want maintains, I do not act at all. And that’s, that’s not an attitude that’s being advocated. That’s kind of a natural, spontaneous experience. Yeah. Okay.

Stephen D’Amico: natural and spontaneous, but also not obtainable through actual techniques.

Rick Archer: Right. That’s the point I was trying to make that if you’re kind of going through your day, trying to sort of manipulate your experience and get into this witness state, I’m just not sure how advisable that would be. But it may be a condition that after a certain amount of spiritual development, you find yourself in naturally.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah. So I tell I’m telling all my, you know, students, listeners, whatever, anyone that wants to hear me talk about this stuff, that’s the importance of meditating at the beginning of the day. And if you meditate properly, and you can drop into being this, it, you’re not really going to witness. Yeah, you may maintain it throughout your day, but I’m telling you, it’s going to emerge.

Rick Archer: Right now, over time, it’ll stabilize and become more clear.

Stephen D’Amico: The time it does. This is the case for most people that are on the path, I think. Yep. Yeah.

Rick Archer: And also, would you agree that as interesting as this whole witnessing thing is it actually is a stage. It’s not sort of the ultimate state of development.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, what is that the ultimate point?

Rick Archer: Well, yeah, we’ll get onto that a little bit. But

Stephen D’Amico: it’s an important part of spiritual development. Right? For sure. Yeah. It’s when the soul finally comes online in a way. Yeah. Until that point, you know?

Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay. flipping back to your childhood a little bit. You mentioned also, in addition to this thing that would happen when you go to sleep, you know, there was a stage at which subtle beings would would kind of visit you. And there was one that you actually felt like, in a way was a representation of the devil. And as a child, you saw it as the count from Sesame Street. And then they’re, in addition to that guy, sort of tempting you, and trying to entice you to, you know, follow him in order to gain certain abilities. There were these, this may sound far out to people, but I think it’s worth discussing, and they’re gonna find it in your book anyway, there were the sort of gargoyles that were like, almost like bats hanging upside down, that you felt had a protective function. So whenever this the Sesame Street guy showed up, they would also show up and kind of watch over you. So just so that, you know, doesn’t blow people’s minds too much. Maybe you should elaborate on that situation a little bit.

Stephen D’Amico: Now, how do I convince people that I’m saying,

Rick Archer: just don’t start trying to pick bugs out of the air, and we’ll be convinced.

Stephen D’Amico: You know, this, in our, in our contemporary culture, when we hear stuff like this, we have a hard time understanding it from anything other than a psychological perspective. And from a psychological perspective, it can only be understood as manifestations of the mind the imagination, so it gets that’s it, whatever, whatever you think it is, it’s not that it’s just your, your childhood imagination, or you were dreaming, don’t worry about it. But my own understanding of the spiritual path and of that, that actual experience is occult. And there are occult phenomena, and I encountered an occult phenomena as a child. Yeah. And there are so there, I mean, look, there are not just, you know, negative force is there a positive force is positive and negative beings as well, subtle beings, and some of them tempt us, and some of them help us.

Rick Archer: Yeah, well, I’ve brought up this point many times in interviews, I’ve even devoted whole panel discussions to this topic. Because I feel even though it sort of puts some people off, I feel like we ought to really know the story, you know, we want to know what’s going on. And I feel that for many reasons that there are, as you said, there’s a whole realm, many realms in creation, which are heavily populated with all sorts of subtle forms of life. And, you know, it’s common for us to encounter those on the spiritual path, the spiritual literature, literature, it’s full of such encounters. So we might as well gain some understanding of it and not just pretend it doesn’t exist, because it doesn’t fit our philosophical viewpoint at the moment.

Stephen D’Amico: That’s right. Yeah. And there’s there is a connection between, you know, madness and mystical awareness and development. That that whole that whole zone is part of that I mean, you know, schizophrenic individuals aren’t necessarily just having aberrant thoughts, there can be beings in forces that are interrupting and interfering with their, their cognitive functions.

Rick Archer: Yeah, they can even be not only and those beings may not be unbeknownst to them, they may perceive them and see them and everybody just thinks they’re crazy and gives them Thorazine, but they could actually be opened up to stuff, you know, astral realms and so on, and yet not have the capacity to deal with it not have the inner strength or whatever it takes.

Stephen D’Amico: That’s right. That’s right. And, you know, a large part of those beings are from what Aurobindo referred to, as the intermediate zone. They’re sort of half you know, half realize have corrupted beings all throughout the universe. And you can encounter them and oftentimes they you know, they want to, they want you to follow them there’s a desire to have you follow and listen to them, but they’re not immersed in the truth completely. And so what he said is that you can still learn from them but you know, they’re it’s a it’s a roll of half lights and half truths, and it’s all mixed.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. But tamas really talks about this in the yoga sutras. He actually says that at a certain stage you may be tempted by certain celestial beings or whatever and they kind of tried to lure you with certain promises or and you should just like you know, say, Thanks, but no, thanks. Okay, move on. Yeah,

Stephen D’Amico: yeah. I mean, I think it’s a it’s an important distinction. Because the the most important part of spiritual development, at least in my understanding, and although this view isn’t necessarily as accepted, or it’s sort of going through some kind of debate, debate in spiritual conversations, the, you know, the whole point of the spiritual path is to awaken to the absolute truth. And so that’s why in many traditions, you know, they sort of say, nevermind, all of that visionary stuff move past that, because it’s all a distraction at this point. Until you get established in your own true nature, don’t worry about any of that stuff. But then afterwards, you know, you begin to distinguish between benevolent beings and malevolent ones and and on the path, the benevolent ones can certainly be helpful.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, I mean, well, you know, to reference marshy again, he always used to use this example of a territory, which had all kinds of interesting things in it diamond mines, and gold mines and stuff. And then there was a fort at the center of the territory commanding it. And he said, it might be tempting to go after this diamond mine, or that, that gold mine, but what you really should do is capture the fort. Because then the territory will belong to you, then you can explore it at your leisure safely, without getting you know, in a dicey situation, because you’re you’re venturing into something that you have no command over.

Stephen D’Amico: That’s right. Orders from headquarters. Yes.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So while we’re still on this point, you just said that you felt like these subtler being some of them anyway, could be helpful on our path. And it’s worth throwing into the mix here that, you know, there’s not only the sort of astral level, which is still relatively gross, but there’s a celestial level, which is more refined, much closer to the absolute level. And in what way, would you say that, you know, the subtler impulses of intelligence, which are functional in the universe, could be helpful to humans spiritual development.

Stephen D’Amico: They’re always helping us. You know, they are trying anyways, that’s, that’s part of I think, their divine purpose. Yeah. But if we open up to this possibility, at a certain stage in your own spiritual development, or just curiosity, I mean, maybe the richest religious people are in all wrong. You sort of like, maybe they’ve got something, they’ve discovered something beneficial here. And you open up to it, and you invite that influence in? Yeah, miracles upon miracles.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, a new age people are always talking about, you know, ascended masters and guardian angels and spirit guides and all this stuff. And I guess, you know, you still have to have the have a little caution. You know, when you when you say invite something in, that has little bit scary connotations, but, but at the same time, you kind of want to keep a balance, I think, and not just, you know, dismiss out of hand all of this stuff as hogwash. On the other hand, don’t just sit and be undiscriminating and open and anything goes and I’ll invite whatever comes along, it’s like, I don’t know, there’s just sort of this balancing thing. That spiritual

Stephen D’Amico: maturity and you know, a lot of new age people don’t necessarily have it, and they hook into this stuff. And, you know, again, they get they get trapped in the intermediate zone.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. Safety first. Okay, so as you got a little older, you realized, you know that you were going to have to disconnect from this formless dimension that had been so predominant during your younger years. And you’re just gonna have to become a wild and crazy teenager for a while. And he said that there was actually something intentional. You did to precipitate this, you began breathing from your upper chest rather than the belly. We’ll talk about that a little.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, well, one of those little techniques that I discovered when I was a young young kid growing up was to really focus on breathing, and I naturally breathe fully, which is what we learned in yoga to you know, to have full breath. And so by breathing into my belly, I would dissolve into not first my own sense of beingness as an individual, but then from from there from the belly center into beingness itself. So that was another technique that I used. And I knew that I had to give up my connection. So I dropped all my practices. And it was that one in particular that I focused on deliberately not doing by only breathing into the upper part of my chest as a way to forget about the absolute truth. But I stopped all the other practices trace Think back the witness looking in the mirror. Those are the two main ones. And deep breathing.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And you actually became agnostic then for a period of years. So it certainly because most people that I’ve spoken with who felt like they had, you know, some degree of awakening during childhood, really didn’t want to lose it, and they kind of did everything they could to prevent themselves from losing it. But you, it seems like you realized, it’s like you walked willingly into the fire, like you realize I’m gonna have to go through this phase. And all right, I’m shutting it down.

Stephen D’Amico: I’m trying not to be so extreme as immature as a human being. Anyway, yeah. Yeah. I mean, that was I think that was just the way it unfolded for me. And it was something I knew I had to do. And it was it was, you know, sort of demarcated by a very time bound sort of event. Like it happened. I knew it was going to happen, that it had to happen. And I said, Okay, well, let’s do this completely. You know, my dad, you know, sort of maybe had some, I don’t know, influence here. But you know, don’t do anything half fast. If you’re gonna do it. Do it all in.

Rick Archer: All right. Yeah, that’s funny. So how many years did you go in that phase of being kind of shut down?

Stephen D’Amico: Four or five sort of spent till about 16. Or 17.

Rick Archer: That’s not too bad. No. And then what what was it that began to egg you to what you know, waking wake up again? And what was Was there some like little voice inside that said, it’s time to remember?

Stephen D’Amico: Well, yes, but it happened after having my heartbroken.

Rick Archer: romantic breakup. Yeah,

Stephen D’Amico: I was, yeah, I was with a girl and you know, it. It was a real good learning experience. I didn’t waste time exploring human sexuality, either. So when that ended, my my delusions ended very quickly. I’d sort of been in a way at the very young age of 15, or 16, sort of broken down by this tumultuous, romantic sexual relationship. Yeah. And that, that prompted me to realize, okay, now you have to get it back.

Rick Archer: Hmm. Interesting. What do you mean, you didn’t waste time exploring human sexuality? You mean, you were in this sexual relationship when you’re 1516? And then the girl broke up with you? And so then you didn’t get to explore it that long or something? No,

Stephen D’Amico: no, I did everything. We it was like I experienced the full like, all you could possibly experience in a relationship, all the insanity of it. I experienced all of that.

Rick Archer: You just compacted into a short period of time? Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So you went through all that. And then at the tail end of that you thought this guy got to be more and oh, yeah, there’s that spiritual thing that I forgot about four or five years ago?

Stephen D’Amico: That’s right. Yeah. So that that that reignited my, my, my journey as a seeker again, every evening made it, central focus of my life from that point on.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So what sort of things did you do to, you know, as a seeker to get the train rolling again?

Stephen D’Amico: Well, I was really asking myself all of those spiritual questions that we ask as teenagers, I think to, you know, it sort of coincided with that, like, what’s the purpose of life? Why am I here? Why are we here? What’s the meaning is there meaning all of that? And so it was really a search to find the answers to those questions, not really realizing that the answers to those questions were states of being that I had lost touch with and had forgotten how to get back in touch with them.

Rick Archer: And did you start doing various kinds of practices again,

Stephen D’Amico: I had no idea about spiritual practices. Not really.

Rick Archer: So you’re just seeking intellectually, emotionally?

Stephen D’Amico: Sure. This is before the internet. So yeah, right. Quick, you could find at your local library.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And you mentioned that you somehow realized the importance of selfless service and started doing a lot of that.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah. That became as I sort of got going with the search the inquiry into the answer to these questions. I, I began to have experiences again. And one of those, one of those was The discovering that engaging in selfless service kind of gets rid of your own personal desire for satisfaction from life and that getting that out of the way and realizing that if you just give yourself to others, you actually gain your true self. That’s what I did all the time.

Rick Archer: Cool. What forms of service did you do?

Stephen D’Amico: Just everyday stuff. You know, like, if I was put myself through high school and university, I worked as a waiter at a restaurant up here in Canada, I don’t know if you have them down there. And we have a restaurant called Swiss chalet. It’s a rotisserie chicken place anyways. So I still I still enjoy it from time to time. It’s pretty good. Anyway, I work predominantly, I would, you know, help my fellow employees that clear their tables for them without being asked the drivers in the back if they or anyone needed my car, I just throw them the keys, take it don’t give me back any I don’t want anything in return. I just wanted to do things for other people. So I did whatever, it didn’t matter. For them read get their coffee, like their cigarette, I guess whatever, whatever somebody needed, I would try to do to provide it.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And you felt that that was sort of effective and helping to attenuate your ego and your sense of self importance or something?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah. That was good practice. It’s still to this day, I do it.

Rick Archer: Yeah. You know, and as I’m sure most people know, that, you know, this is considered to be an important thing. And all forms of spirituality really Eastern and Western. They call it Seva and Sanskrit, and I’m sure that in Christianity, there are words for it. And certainly examples of it. It’s kind of a time honored method of, of helping to diminish self centeredness, you know, and put one more more in service to the divine.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, and awaken the soul. Yeah, it’s the soul. And from the soul, you get more accurate Intel better orders from headquarters.

Rick Archer: So, from the time you, I guess, you’re 15 or 16, you kind of got on the secret train again. And then you had your big awakening at 22. So that’s about, you know, seven or six or something years, years. And was there like a lot of intensity during that whole period, like, you know, whatever this is, I gotta get it. Or, like, I can’t stand living like this, I’ve got to achieve. And you know, what, I mean, you mentioned last few months prior to your awakening was one long, long, dark night of the soul. But I mean, you know, so what was going on during those years?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, there was an intensity. You know, I was also going through all kinds of, you know, transformations, inner transformations changes as we do, just being a human being. But as part of those I was getting back in touch with certain realizations, but it wasn’t connected to an understanding of the Absolute Truth. So I was moving in and out of the witness, but I had no idea what the witness was. That’s why I felt sort of disassociated. I’m you have to remember, I’m a materialist. I’m an agnostic at this point. And as far as the world is concerned, I’m disassociating. But I can’t forget, you know, what’s happening? Am I becoming, you know, schizoid.

Rick Archer: So you’re trying to make sense of your experience. And so what was the nature of this dark night of the soul that you were in for a few months before your awakening,

Stephen D’Amico: I was sort of based upon. So part of, you know, going through these changes of state and not really understanding them, there was some confusion and along with the confusion, depression because of not knowing, not understanding and not feeling very grounded, I was also at uni in university and was quite challenging. The first two is often are very challenging. So there was that I was, you know, as a result of the witness, emerging and me not really understanding it and sort of being dissatisfied too with my own life and lack of knowing I began to suffer from what we call existential onwy Or you know, the sense of like, nothing matters. Yeah. Which is a you know, can be a universal experience. And I’m sure you’ve come across accounts of people having that feeling of not understanding and then being very dissatisfied with conventional life and knowing that there has to be more but not understanding what that more is. Yeah. So it was that it was like,

Rick Archer: yeah, that’s, I think, you know, I mean, I don’t know what the percentages are. But there are a large percentage of the US population and probably the Canadian is on Prozac and Zan fell by Zantac or whatever these drugs are called, you know, that try to provide some kind of solace because they feel so miserable. But I think a lot of it’s kind of almost universal, that people don’t feel satisfied, whether they’re still thinking that they’re gonna get satisfaction from the relative world or have given up hope to in doing that. There’s a lot

Stephen D’Amico: either way, why? What is this? How come I’m not happy? I mean, this this is this is perennial, yet, but this is just how it’s showing up in the in the modern world, and people are medicating

Rick Archer: Yeah. So I have a little passage here that you wrote about the moment of your Enlightenment. But is there anything you wish I could read just a few sentences, but is there anything you want to say about the events leading up to that moment? That would be interesting for people to hear?

Stephen D’Amico: Well, let’s hear what you want to read. And then maybe we can,

Rick Archer: okay, so here’s what you wrote. You said, every, every remnant of my personal identity was gone, obliterated, it was like amnesia, but even that fails to convey the sense of emptiness fully felt like I’d never existed, there was nothing, no more life, no more memories, no more me. Nothing. All that remained was my disembodied awareness and this endless realm of nothingness, a vacuum devoid of any features, forms or qualities, no formless bliss, no absolute truth, nothing. So you sort of you fell into this void, apparently. And you you kind of identify that as the big watershed moment.

Stephen D’Amico: I mean, that was part of that. Yeah, that’s part that was part of the transformations that I was experiencing on the night of my awakening. But there was no, there were definitely as you read in my autobiography, things that happened or occurred before that, and as well, as after that, why don’t you fill us in a

Rick Archer: little bit, tell us about some of the things

Stephen D’Amico: my wife told me to prepare for this question.

Rick Archer: wrote a book about it.

Stephen D’Amico: So she said, don’t tell people to read the book, you have to be you have to be prepared to you know, give them the details. So I’ll do my best. Okay. Well, let’s just move move from there as, as I do, on the night of my awakening, sort of what what was occurring was alright, sorted. I don’t know where to start. Probably just sort of I’m, I spent the evening out with a friend and I, you know, or something happened, we went to a bar, and something happened at the bar that sort of got me really turned off with wanting to be out out at all anymore. And I’m suffering from, you know, existential, anxiety and onwy. And all of this. So I just wanted to go home, I went home.

Rick Archer: And it was really cold that night, as I recall,

Stephen D’Amico: it was a cold night or something. Sometime in the middle of January, I just gotten back from Florida with my girlfriend, and my mom had bought me a ticket to go because she knew that I was sad. She wanted to send me to Florida to try to help me get happy again, because she didn’t understand what was going on. And I came home that night. And there was a an intensified longing for, you know, final resolution to my search, I wanted to understand the answer to the questions that I had about life and meaning and purpose and all of this. What am I here? Why are we here. And I went into the house, I ended up sitting on the couch, and just sinking back into the witness. And from there, got the impulse to get up and go to the bait. I had a room in the basement of my, my parents house at the time and to go into the basement, which was pitch black and lie on my bed. And I sort of felt something kind of big was about to happen, but I didn’t. Again, I didn’t really have any conceptual understanding for any of this. So I didn’t really know what was going on, but something was going on. And I felt in my room as I was sort of thinking more and more fully into the witness. I felt this presence actually come into my room and that it sort of enveloped the entire space and And the presidents had this quality of the voidness that you just described. And it said, you know, if you want to find the answer to your quest, you have to let go and become what you’re feeling emanating all around you. And I was terrified. I didn’t, I didn’t want I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. And so I was sort of apprehensive. And then I had a subtle vision arise in my mind’s eye of a, of a vortex just sort of opened up in my mind’s eye. And I felt from that unfathomable presence in my, in my dark in the darkened space of my bedroom, sort of urging me like, go into that. And I wasn’t sure what would happen if I did, but felt like this is pretty significant. And I know I, I’m not getting the answers any other way. So I’ll let myself dissolve into into this vortex. And as soon as I did that, that’s when what you described happen is sort of my entire sense of self was obliterated. It was shattered in a kind of a psychological shamanic dismemberment. It wasn’t bodily, but it was psychological, my entire sense of self was obliterated, and dissolved into that void. And as I was in that void, I thought, Oh, this, you know, this is a mistake. This can’t be the absolute truth, there’s nothing here. And am I going to have to stay here in this, like, if so, like, I’m done. I’ve made some kind of cosmic spiritual error, and I’m just gonna have to sit in this limbo like, place of a void and nothingness, it was like a limbo without any any indication of ever getting out. But that now I understand that that is a part of the transformation that we can even go through during meditation. But it was more confabulated during this experience. And it was out of that voidness that I then was brought into a state of unity with the forum was planning on the fullness of that emptiness. Yeah, yeah.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, there’s sort of this interesting collection of terms that are used in spiritual literature, Vedic and otherwise about, you know, whether it’s a fullness or an emptiness, you know, the Buddhists talk a lot about emptiness and certain Vedic or Hindu texts talk about fullness, Purnama Dopper, Nami DOM, and marshy used to talk about it both ways he would talk a fullness of emptiness and fullness of fullness. So I suppose it just there can be different flavors to that experience and different understandings. I mean, would you say maybe it could be thought of as empty since there’s nothing, no thing there to be found. And yet it’s full in the sense that it’s the sort of this is the field of all possibilities is the source of all manifestation. Everything exists there in seed form.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, that’s all part of it. It’s flavors. And it’s also stages. Yeah, there are facets and stages of it. Right.

Rick Archer: So you went through this thing? And it was the evening it was called, and then what just go to sleep wake up in the morning? Or did you Was there more like, Oh, my God, what has happened to me and you sat up half the night coming to terms of it?

Stephen D’Amico: No, I mean, the experience sort of finished off and I realized that I brought into been brought into a state of, you know, reconnection with source and with my own true nature. And so that was good, it turn out good at that point. And it was at that point, so I was sort of a, you know, immersed in the bliss of the formless. And also all kinds of realizations about the significance of the form is how it’s a part of a necessary part of manifestation. All kinds of realizations were occurring as I was immersed in it, and I, there was a, again, that voice from that presence, that said, okay, you know, do you want to stay here or do you want to go back to your life? And I thought, well, I’ll go back to my life, I felt pretty confident that I had rediscovered the absolute truth that I had been searching for it and understood it by becoming it. And so I decided to come back and when I came back, that in that process of actually deciding to return to my my body, my mind my my sense of self as an individual I went through a transformation that completely changed my psychological makeup and also my understanding of who I was as both an individual and also as more than an individual. Yeah, when

Rick Archer: you describe that in the book, it actually sounds like a near death experience, you say, I remember being in the same dimension prior to incarnating, which is when I recall undergoing the after the after life phenomenon known as a life review. So it’s, it sounds like you actually went through some kind of life review, even right there in the basement, as you were deciding to come back, right?

Stephen D’Amico: That’s right. Yeah, it was, it was a full on, you know, psycho spiritual conversion, with with elements of near death experience. visionary experiences were part of it mystical, formless dissolution. So there was, you know, it happened, the entire experience lasted about 10 minutes, but there was there were many featured many components to it. And the near death experience that that I subsequently read about, as part of my own, you know, research, I realized, so I that was part of my awakening, I actually went through a near death experience, and also understood that human beings go through the exact same process at the end of life or return to the void, which can be very disorienting if you don’t understand it as I was disoriented. But that’s only a preparation to then go through the life review. So we have to completely lose our, our life, the life that we live in a way we have to completely let it go or drop it in order as for in order for us to extract the wisdom that we’re supposed to out of it as we go through that process.

Rick Archer: And so did that kind of happen to you? It’s like you, you transcended so utterly, that you had pretty much dropped your life almost almost like dying, but your body wasn’t dying. And, and you so because it was so complete, it put you through a life review?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, I went, I went through a total life review. Yeah, completely. And the way I you, I don’t know if you recall, but in the book, I describe it the way that it happened, which was, I sort of had 360 degree vision. And I was just looking through all of the screens, at the same time, just getting replays of my entire life. Sometimes people talk about their entire life flashing before their mind’s eye. I had that, but on multiple screens all around me all at once. And I just didn’t resist. I accepted the truth of it all. And it wasn’t always pretty,

Rick Archer: right. Did you feel like you learned a lot from it? Like, you know, I was I was SmartCare. I was a good guy there. And you know, that kind of thing. All of that.

Stephen D’Amico: All of that. But it’s stalled. It was it’s incomprehensible in a way to think about how much I understood because, you know, we go through life, and we have experiences and we learn from them. But it was like that.

Rick Archer: Do you feel like it really had a function or purpose that changed the way you operated? Thereafter?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, yeah. My entire Yeah, my entire life was changed at that point. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Yeah. You mentioned that. You completely changed a lot of things. I mean, you you became a vegan or something. You lost a whole lot of weight. You stopped smoking, I guess you had been smoking. And, you know, there’s a picture of you and your book, you know, you’re all skinny and great looking. It’s like he completely your friends thought maybe you had anorexia or something. But you completely rebooted your system.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Or it got rebooted. And I just didn’t, you know, I just did what I had to do to, you know, make sure that the install stayed.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think I remember you saying something, though, that it was like you felt like, you know, that saying from the Bible about not pouring new wine into old wineskins. It’s almost like you felt like this vehicle needs some housecleaning before it’s fit to hold this new awareness, and therefore I’m going to radically clean house.

Stephen D’Amico: Yes, it did. And I did. Yeah.

Rick Archer: You mentioned in the book that your your whole sort of orientation of your yourself changed. He said that the location of my new self was no longer in my body. Instead, it hovered mysteriously above your head above my head. So you felt like you were kind of like hovering up there? Because viewing your life from a few feet above your head or something?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah. Yeah. Sort of like in the zone, like athletes sometimes get in the zone. And they have that perspective and allows them to control the game.

Rick Archer: Really? Yeah. And that was going on all the time.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, for about three years.

Rick Archer: And so that’s what you mean when you say it was going on for about three years. That’s what you mean by you were kind of in the in a transcendental state of awareness. And you needed to eventually come down from that body

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, yeah, we all do. I mean, this is, you know, this is also something that’s being understood more and more I think in the contemporary spiritual world, then awakening isn’t just a transpersonal experience we can you’ve heard about people that have these experiences, and they do transcend. And you’ll hear teachers refer to the body and the mind. They’re talking about themselves. Yeah, but in the third person, because they’re fully immersed in the transcendent perspective. But as part of spiritual maturation, as I understand it, then it has to become embodied.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve interviewed a woman named Jac O’Keeffe. And she, I don’t know if she’s still doing this, but she always used to refer to herself as the jack character. And this used to drive another friend of mine crazy. We I did a panel discussion with them at the sand conference. And the other friend is Francis Bennett. And he was saying why he called himself the jack carrier. Like, there’s a sort of detached implication, you know, to using a phrase like that with to refer to oneself that he couldn’t relate

Stephen D’Amico: to. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, I’m sure he met some friends who, you know, refer to themselves in the third person. But that’s a different thing,

Rick Archer: anyway, and yet, you’re in this whole trend? I’m sorry, go ahead. Well, you know,

Stephen D’Amico: it can be irritable, because, you know, sometimes your friends but you know, the Steve or whatever. Yeah. But I think, you know, keeps experience, it’s still, you know, it’s still at that transcendental stage of realization, where it really I mean, this is my, this is me, but it’s not me, right.

Rick Archer: And yet, you know, you weren’t a space cadet, you’re in this transcendental state for about three years, but you are going to school, you’re working as a mediator. You were even planning 1000s of trees, I believe that was in that same stage, which was physically demanding job, you’d be out in the bush, you know, planning, even a couple of 1000 little trees a day and, you know, commuting long hours on a bus and all that stuff. And yet you say you were in a kind of a detached, transcendental, aloof state during all that. Yep. That people regard you as being transcendent, a little aloof, or did it seem like you were pretty integrated?

Stephen D’Amico: Maybe aloof.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Just passionate, maybe?

Stephen D’Amico: I don’t think they understood or had any way of knowing that, you know, my, the seat of my consciousness wasn’t in my body.

Rick Archer: I wouldn’t say, Yeah,

Stephen D’Amico: I think they definitely people would pick up on the aloofness quality. But I wasn’t completely aloof, either. I was still very personable. But at that point, it was similar. My own experience was similar to Jackie O’Keeffe’s it was just the character responding to people. Yeah, response because my body has to continue functioning in the world. And it has to do what it has to do and take care of the things it has to take care of. And not and also just because you said I was engaged in all these other activities, all of that was optimized in a way

Rick Archer: optimized meaning it was performed efficiently, very efficiently. Yeah. It almost sounds like you had the perspective of a puppeteer or something you know, above your body and the body sort of functioning, but you’re not really the the doer or the the chooser.

Stephen D’Amico: Well, we get into that. Okay. Yeah, I was above. And that’s where the real chooser is in the real doer.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting. But then at a certain point, after about three years, you felt like for whatever reason, you were prompted, or you decided to whatever, that it was time to integrate. And I don’t know where this quote is in the in the sequence of things but you say your book, during my waking state, I was plagued by ancient fears and primitive reactions to life and countless nights were spent fighting, sadistic and tormented beings in recurring nightmarish dreams. Was it was that kind of during the reintegration phase or what?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, that was, but that was part of a deeper process that I engaged in, I had agreed to engage in in a way as part of my, my own unfolding. So most people that you know, as they reintegrate with the body, from a transcendental perspective, they just have to come back into the body and learn how to become sensitive feeling, normally functioning human beings. So that was the main purpose, but I also did some deeper spiritual work as part of the same process of descending so when I descended, I didn’t come back actually into my body and went past it down into a deeper level.

Rick Archer: Is that Is that related? This is an old thing.

Stephen D’Amico: This is a very old call what happened at this point?

Rick Archer: I wouldn’t get a little occult. Is that related to what you say here at more advanced stages of spiritual evolution, the overall karmic inheritance of humanity It is confronted and transcended. It can be Yeah. Is that why you were having all this sort of nightmarish stuff you were taking on the collective karma or something?

Stephen D’Amico: It sounds crazy. But yeah, no, it

Rick Archer: doesn’t sound crazy at all. And it’s something that I’ve been hearing periodically for decades that, you know, once we’ve cleaned up our own shit, so to speak, then we take on humanity shit, and we’ve become a washing machine for that.

Stephen D’Amico: I’ve heard you use that analogy. Yeah, we do. I mean, to live as a self realized or some somewhat realized human being in the world, you, you, you, you become a sensing heart centered, but your individual and you take on you feel other people, you kind of take it on. Yeah. No. So that’s how we ended up existing. A lot

Rick Archer: of people have said that to me that, in fact, you know, marshy said that 1970 Someone asked him know what happens when we get rid of all of our own stress. They used to call it stress, you know, the Vasanas the impressions that the gunk clogging us up and you said, then you start taking on cosmic stress. That’s right. Yeah. Interesting. Cosmetic and personal. Yeah. Really? Well, this might be a good point at which to throw in a couple of questions that people have asked a couple of questions, a couple of people asked about freewill. And on a second here, someone named Lynn from Toronto asked about freewill. And you mentioned in your book, The Incredible state of absolute nothingness, that God only allows evil to exist as a necessary consequence of giving the ability of free will to beings like us. So maybe you could comment on that. And just to elaborate a bit, for Lin sake and other listeners. Okay. And let me just preface this with one more bit, which is that I’ve had sort of discussions about this with various people I’ve interviewed who don’t feel we have any free will they feel like, you know, everything is automatic, we have no choice, it appears we have choice, but we don’t they quote, the scientific studies where the, the impulse to move your arm actually happens a few seconds before you actually move the arm, but you appropriate the ownership of it and think you’ve actually done it. But there’s no there’s no choice and so on and so forth. It’s it’s a sort of a perennial debate. But yeah,

Stephen D’Amico: well, I think that is kind of connected with right brain and left brain integration and how the brain functions and works as a receiver for consciousness. But the question of freewill is one that often gets raised on the spiritual path. And many non duelist say that there’s no free will. Yeah, my own understanding is that that view comes from the absolute perspective, from absolute perspective, there is no free will, because all of this is happening as a simultaneous manifestation of the divine in form. So it’s unfolding exactly as it’s meant to. But if you change your perspective, and you zoom in closer into what actually happens here in the world, and you look at what the experience is, as a human being, we make choices all the time. Sure. Seems like it sure does. I mean, you can you can choose to, you know, not take out the garbage today and leave it till next week, but then you’re gonna get maggots or you take out the garbage and you take care of that. Like, these are choices. We make choices all the time. And those choices lead to outcomes. Right? Yeah. But from the absolute perspective, which is where I think that you come from you, when you get in that state, you realize that everything is happening instantaneously. So how can there be a choice, but choice is is is programmed into the structure of the universe?

Rick Archer: Yeah, it seems to me that from the really absolute perspective, if you want to really get extreme, but nothing ever happened, there is no universe therefore there is no choice or freewill. It’s like, you know, but as soon as you acknowledge that there is a universe, then all these relative considerations come in which you kind of have to take seriously.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, there you know, I mean, there, I’m sure in even the empiricists or scientific people agree that different laws operate at different levels of reality. Absolutely. So it’s the same from the absolute. The the realization is that everything is happening exactly according to divine will. But as you as you come out of that and move into the relative, you realize that well, there’s actually free will is part of this great unfolding.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I heard an interesting discussion of from A panel at the sand conference the other day, I was listening to this, and they were talking about whether there’s a self, and one of the panelists who I think happened to be a physician that that studies livers and does liver biopsies and stuff like that. But he’s also kind of a spiritual guy. He was saying, well, it’s all really a matter of scale and perspective, you know, at a certain scale and perspective, you have a liver, and a certain other scale. It’s just molecules which have no quality whatsoever of liver in us, you know, and go even deeper, you’re down to the atoms, and then the quarks and so on. There’s there’s so that you can say the same with with a sense of self, you could say the same with a sense of free will. I mean, it just depends on the level you want to tune in on consider. Yep,

Stephen D’Amico: yeah. But even even at the level of a court, let’s say there’s some agency, there’s a court that wants to connect with an antiparticle or I don’t understand quantum physics as well as they used to. But there’s, there’s agency there, and it wants to do its job, right. And so it’s seeking out its complimentary opposite. It’s true,

Rick Archer: it has certain tendencies and proclivities and roles and functions that Now some would argue, well, the court can only do what a court can do, it has no choice. But other grounds.

Stephen D’Amico: They’re all making choices that are leading to, you know, all kinds of outcomes. Yeah, some realize their full potential and some don’t. Some return back into the forum was they self annihilate? Okay.

Rick Archer: So I think that’s a pretty good coverage of the freewill issue. You know, philosophers have been debating this for millennia, and we’re not going to resolve it here. But I think that gives a good perspective on it.

Stephen D’Amico: Just I’ll just add, just because I feel like I want to say more about it. Sure, you know, there, we all have circumstances in life that limit our options, but we still have choice. And the more the more that we understand that we have a choice, and the more that we are willing to make good choices, then it seems that freedom increases that we get better and better opportunities.

Rick Archer: Good point, it’s like to write something down, it’s like it, there’s a kind of a, I think, an analogy we could find with like growing up, you know, when you’re a little child, you have no autonomy, no freedom, you’re kind of completely under the control of your parents. And then you get to be an adolescent, and you have to start making choices, you start gaining autonomy, you have to start cutting, cutting loose from your parents. And, you know, and it can be kind of reckless at that point, you know, you’re making all kinds of crazy decisions. And then eventually, hopefully, you become a mature adult making wise decisions. But it almost seems like in the whole span of evolution, you can compare that to, you know, animals who are completely in tune with with natural law, and can only behave as monkeys or zebras, or whatever they are. And then human human beings who have this kind of freedom of choice, and can get themselves into trouble. And then enlightened sages who are again, completely in the lap of the Divine doing its bidding, but have come full circle, you know? You like that analogy.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, it’s great. That covers covers everything.

Rick Archer: Okay, good. Someone just posted a question of how do you ask a question during these interviews, there’s a forum on the upcoming interviews page on If you if you scroll down on that page, you’ll see the form at the bottom of the page and you can submit a question through that form. Okay, here’s a question from a guy named Patrick, in Gatineau, Quebec, who you may know him, he wants to know, can a person be happy, spiritually aligned and maybe even enlightened without meditating reading wisdom books or having a metaphysical experience? If so, what is the role of effort on a spiritual path?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, I can happen. Sure, yeah. But, you know, oftentimes, at least what I’ve seen is that people have awakenings. They realize it’s effortless. Because there’s a certain effortlessness to it is you realize when you already are the thing that you seek that you don’t have to go anywhere to get it. You just have to stop trying so hard and realize that it’s already the case. All right, yeah. You really get that you fully get it, then no, not necessarily. You know, you don’t have to do anything. You got it.

Rick Archer: But then, you know, many, many spiritual teachers have said that the desire for God or the desire for Enlightenment is very instrumental in the likelihood of you’re actually realizing the more photonics he says this to the more vehement you are in your intensity of desire, the more rapidly or quickly you’re going to realize, yeah, you being a case in point.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, anyone really, I think this is the I mean, that’s the most important desire to have, you know. And with that desire that lead that it’s that desire that joy arrives the soul to evolve more and more and more now the realization of the non dual perspective of not needing to find it because you already are that that’s just one realization, that’s not the full process of spiritual maturation, you know. And so you can, you can have that realization and just stick with it. Often times, what I see happening is that people either let too many things go because they realize nothing ultimately matters. And so their lives kind of fall apart a little bit, which I don’t think is advisable, or they lose it. And then they become seekers again, and they don’t know why they’ve lost it. And it’s at that point that you, you know, have to have desire or you have to have, you know, practices you have to there’s some discipline that’s involved to, to maintain to develop, cultivate and maintain any kind of ability, including spiritual abilities.

Rick Archer: Yeah, as there’s that old famous saying that Enlightenment may be an accident, that practice makes you accident prone. Zach? Yeah. Here’s a question that came in from someone in Toronto. She said, Steven, you mentioned that as a child, your father was trying to wake you from sleep to the point of pulling a mattress out from under you or shaking it as you slept. As a child, you existed in realms outside your body. Was there any trauma in your environment that made you not want to be in your body?

Stephen D’Amico: No, no, no, it wasn’t that. It’s a fair question. You know, my parents didn’t have the greatest marriage, but there was a lot of love in our home. So it wasn’t sort of some

Rick Archer: you weren’t trying to escape from some

Stephen D’Amico: emotional defense mechanism to avoid the trauma of my upbringing. My upbringing was fine. Yeah. It was like sleeping was pretty ideal in some ways, but no, no, life is perfect. Sure.

Rick Archer: Okay. Good to get back to some other, you know, broader issues and philosophical questions in a minute, but we’ll take care of a few questions that have come in. Here’s a challenging one. This is from a guy named Mark in Santa Clara, Santa Clara, California. He said, Okay, you follow the vegan diet for a time. Yet your restaurant the mill would melt serves tuna, ham and bacon? Does compassion for animals slaughtered for food production figure in the awakened perspective? Or is it somehow a moot point? By the way, the Buddha was reputed to have died from eating rancid pork, but go ahead

Stephen D’Amico: of cheese. Yeah. You know, it’s a serious question. Obviously, I myself, I’m not vegan anymore. But I was vegan for many years. I don’t eat a lot of meat. Meat that I do eat, I try to make sure that it’s been raised humanely. It’s organic. So those are all I mean, as you become more spiritually sensitive, you realize that when you’re eating pork, let’s say you’re eating a fairly sentient animal. Yeah. As opposed to a carrot. Right? So no, I understand. And I’m grateful for the food that I eat. I know that this is all for food. You know why this chariot unit the material? universe and our own experience here on Earth? This is food. Yes. Correct to unfold in the, in the experiment of consciousness becoming the physical. So that’s how I understand it now.

Rick Archer: Do you serve like, you know, organic or humanely raised meat in your restaurant, if possible?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, we do at times, not not all the time. Our bread is organic. It’s made by a church, which I love. But, you know, by if I were to be completely organic, what little amount of money I do make doing this, I wouldn’t even be able to make that. Yeah. Okay, just financially possible.

Rick Archer: Fair enough. They say the Native Americans, at least this is the story used to have a sort of a reverential attitude when they killed an animal, you know, that they would thank it for its life and for helping to sustain their life. It wasn’t just killing for the sake of excitement or sport or anything like that. Obviously,

Stephen D’Amico: that is an that is how could you not as you as you become sensitive to the importance of sanctions, you feel that? Yeah. And we, I know that both my wife and I have that reverence. And when we prepare, prepare food, we prepare it with love. And with reverence for the food, we’re not, you know, just throwing things together. It’s done in a very reverential way.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Let’s get down to talking a little bit about your teaching activity. You mentioned that the most inspiring revelation you received during the transformation you underwent 96 is that humanity is on the verge of undergoing a collective awakening. And you yourself have seen yourself as a an instrument in that you’re wanting to serve in that capacity to help facilitate the awakening. And in the intro that I read at the beginning, you mentioned let’s see, where are you set it? The main way that you do this is through the direct transmission of the enlightened state of being which connects others with their own true nature. And a couple of people one in particular, Lynn, I believe it was from Toronto, was asking about Shakti pot wanted you to talk about that. And someone else asked actually, also from Toronto, maybe they’ve been to one your Satsang. What if somebody who attends your Satsang is basically unsure about whether a deliberately directed energy transmission from another is personally helpful for them. So maybe let’s talk about Shakti pot a little and whether one’s attitude is important. And if one is going to get Shakti pot, and what Shakti pot is for those who may not know, and so

Stephen D’Amico: yeah, I mean, you know, I try to be as clear as possible about what I’m offering before people show up. But what you get from Shakti pod or energy transmission is I mean, it’s really a sort of a process of resonance, I as the transmitter are and immersing myself in being this as much as possible. So that that becomes amplified, and then I’m locking into you often through the eyes to bring you into that same state of being. People may be unprepared for that. When people cry some people break down from doesn’t happen that often. And I try to be very sensitive and almost psychic in terms of figuring out where it where’s the person out? And what can they handle? You know, if you if you come and you get a transmission, and I give you a transmission, you’re going to get something.

Rick Archer: What are you experiencing while you’re doing this?

Stephen D’Amico: Me personally, yeah,

Rick Archer: well, let’s ask both, you know, what are you experiencing? How did you begin doing this? What, you know, what made you feel you could do this? How do you know you’ve had this ability? And also, second part of the question would be, what do other people report experiencing when they’re doing this with you?

Stephen D’Amico: I sort of discovered it gradually. In a way I would sometimes notice that if I just sat and manifest or sort of tried to amplify my own connection to Source that people around me would sort of feel it. And then sometimes just say things so authentic to me, they just blurt out things. So I knew something was happening. So that was the first inkling that that you know, that something could be transmitted received. And then out of that reception, a response could come. And my own process of discovering that I could do it happen, really in a more profound way, shortly after I started teaching, when I began teaching, it just started happening in a pretty powerful way, which I didn’t even understand really what I was doing, it would just happen, I was just meditating with the people that were in the room. And some, something that sort of, in a way feel like it was taking over and allowing a flood of all kinds of energies to come through me, that would pour into other people around me. And so I knew that this was happening. I wasn’t sure that it was happening. But I felt like it was happening. And I would say, I didn’t tell anybody about that. That’s what I thought was happening. But I would sort of ask people, What was your experience? How did you feel, you know? And it just developed sort of that way as I was sitting with people and discovering that it was occurring, and then eventually I discovered exactly how how I make myself available in the right way so that it’s a much conscious process. Today,

Rick Archer: we’re talking earlier about higher beings who were, you know, instrumental in human evolution and concern and you know, wanting to foster human evolution and so on. And you know, you have these people who are channelers, who say they’re channeling Saint Germain or somebody like that, in the case of Shakti pot, do you feel like there’s any sort of higher being involved that’s transmitting through you or you mean, or is it more like being itself presence, pure awareness, you know, the universal consciousness that you’re providing? You’re being like a conduit or a transmitting station or something?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, yeah. No, no, it’s just I feel that I’m a conduit. So myself up in the way that I now know how to, but it was Jesus that showed me how to do it. Oh, there you go. That was the higher being.

Rick Archer: Yeah, talk about that. You open that can of worms, the better explained.

Stephen D’Amico: I mean, as part of the discovery that I had the you know, that I could be used as a vessel this way. That back off precipitated by a direct encounter with Jesus Jesus’s light or the light of Christ consciousness.

Rick Archer: Okay, obvious question, How do you How did you know it was Jesus? What did you actually see Jesus? You know, explain how that, you know, elaborate on what you just said?

Stephen D’Amico: Well, it was, there was a sort of a historical component to it. I knew, as I was going through this process of feeling like I was being visited by a luminous entity, that particular entity was Jesus, the historical Jesus, right. But at this stage, in my understanding of Jesus’s development, that personal self is, doesn’t it, that’s not even a part of the makeup anymore. That that, that that entity, that enlightened entity exists as a function of the Divine.

Rick Archer: That’s an interesting point. I mean, I’ve had conversations with people. For instance, I had this whole conversation with Adi Shanti. And Susanna Maria about a year ago about the falling away of the sense of personal self. And one of the points I made was that it seems like there’s all these higher beings like Ramana, and Jesus and various others that, that visit people, or they have cognitions of them some in some cases, without ever having heard that they existed. You know, Rama Ramana, has come to people who, who had never heard of Ramana before, and then later on, they see his picture on a book. And so the question was, well, if there’s a complete cessation or dissolution of any sort of semblance of personal self, how is it that these people are showing up? Do they? Are they still functioning on some higher plane? And one argument is that, well, the divine intelligence, no, they don’t exist anymore in any way, shape, or form, but the divine intelligence knows what it’s doing. And it it sort of creates an appearance of that forms, which later on, you’ll encounter on a book cover or something. And you say, Oh, that was Ramana. So what is your understanding of those mechanics?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, I’m not sure.

Rick Archer: That’s a good answer.

Stephen D’Amico: It could be that way. Or it could be that these are highly evolved beings who, in a way knowingly continue their work on behalf of the Divine.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. Well, I don’t know if

Stephen D’Amico: the more towards that understanding, even though both are true. Yeah, I think they’re both true. It’s a matter of, again, it’s a matter of scale or perspective.

Rick Archer: Okay, that’s one of those other interesting questions, that is fun to touch on every now and then. But I don’t expect it to achieve any sort of, you know, certainty or of resolution to

Stephen D’Amico: let you know when to have the whole answer.

Rick Archer: Okay, great. We’ll have to do another interview, then. Maybe you can bring in Jesus and Ramona. Okay, so here’s some other points from your second book that I read heaven on earth, a guide to Enlightenment and human unity. It was a nice, I thought, a nice roadmap of, you know, stages of development and so on. And you said, here’s one passage in which you said, Every great religious tradition testifies that there is one experience that powers above all others, that the ultimate spiritual goal, traditionally called Enlightenment, and you kind of referred to your awakening at the age of 22, as Enlightenment, and yet you went through all kinds of stuff afterwards, you know, continued growth and adjustment and integration and purification and so on. And it’s because of that, that I, I hesitate to use the the term Enlightenment, a lot of people hesitated. It has this kind of static superlative quality to it, that implies that you’re done. There’s nothing more and yet for you, even after that experience, there was a heck of a lot more and, and there’s still there’s still stuff going on. So, you know, I mean, what do you think about that?

Stephen D’Amico: You know, Enlightenment is really just when the soul comes online.

Rick Archer: Okay, if that’s how we wanted to find the word. Yeah, yeah.

Stephen D’Amico: But the experience of merging with the absolute often does lead to a complete cessation of all other activity. I mean, Ramana How long did he sit and do nothing? Oh, yours, right. Yeah, I happen. But then he, you know, ended up getting help and Then he became, you know, a teacher and a server of people. And so he can, you know, and I’m sure it sounds like also, as he became more identified with the particular body that he inhabited, he also became more compassionate, more loving, like, it seemed like he, as he matured throughout life, from a younger awakened soul to an older one, he became far more loving and caring, and his outward behavior. So that, to me shows evidence that that that mature that that process of maturing continues.

Rick Archer: Yeah, he had a worldly function to perform, which wasn’t being served by just sitting in a cave. And and the performance of that function had, you know, an impact, which is still being felt, you know, send out ripples, which are still washing up on various shores. Yeah. And whether or not that means his own personal inner development was continuing, some would say that it’s still continuing that he’s still, you know, he and everyone else, whoever existed or still somewhere, it’s still evolving, but it’s another one of those issues.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, I think I think evolution continues. Yeah. It’s, it’s also it’s on ending in a way or it’s still happening, we’re still evolving, even, even even us as human beings to awaken. And then, you know, after we awaken, there’s still development that can occur.

Rick Archer: That’s my sense of things. And talking, I’ve interviewed a few people who when I asked that question about, well, you know, how do you sense for the development happening for you now? And they look at me, like, what kind of question is that? How could there be anything more? But most people have an answer, you know, they say, yes, it’s still unfolding. Yeah. You have this X sign on the wall behind you. And I guess that’s the cover of your book. And it was very significant for you, you had this whole experience of an X. And not I don’t know how much time we’re gonna spend talking about that, because I’ve never heard anybody else that had that experience. But, you know, to the extent that you think it might be relevant or interesting to people, maybe you could explain what what that was all about.

Stephen D’Amico: So the x is, or that form that you see behind me. And on the cover of my book, that was another one of those vehicles of transformation. We’re talking earlier about the Divine Spark, this was one that showed up in that period, where I hadn’t yet gone through the that major awakening that I experienced at 22. But leading up to it, all kinds of subtle experiences were occurring that I didn’t quite understand. One of them was the emergence of this luminous ex that just appeared while I was in a writing class at university, just in your mind’s eye. Yeah, it was, it was instigated by the poem that I was reading. The poem I thought was written by a Canadian poet named Christopher Dewdney. But I asked him since then he goes, I don’t know maybe. But in any case, this poem, as I read it, it launched my consciousness into an altered state, again, I was the same higher dimensional level, my conscious sort of zoomed up and out and above my head, and it was at from that place that then this forum emerged. And I didn’t quite know what to make of it at the time, but I, you know, sort of came back down into my body and finished the class I was sort of in a quasi state. But this x continued to emerge as I was going about my daily life. So whether I was in school, or at home, studying or working at Swiss chalet, it would just appear. And I began to realize that it, you know, wanted something from me who was trying to show me something. So I sort of became more curious about it, I was very, at the same time kind of uncertain about it, because it’s an X. It’s a sort of striking symbol with different associations. But I learned to trust it. And as I did, it would lead to the transformation of my ordinary state of consciousness into the non dual state. And it did it by as it would emerge in my mind’s eye, I would just allow it to and then I would focus on it and as I did pulses of light would would move from all four corners down to the center, almost like it wanted to pull me into the center. So it was sort of training me to do this and I would just watch it and allow it. And if I allowed myself to become fully drawn into where the light the course is of light, or suggesting me to go with my attention, I I would actually merge with the form. And at that point, I would have an experience of the luminous Nirvana that I experienced when I was younger, I would have that experience, but only for a flash. And then right after that, the yantra, the light would dissolve, but I would realize, Oh, I’m in the non dual state. So it would precipitate it became a, an inner tool or vehicle of transformation that precipitated the transformation of my own consciousness into the non dual state. But that wouldn’t that didn’t hold, it wouldn’t stick, it would fade away. And now, I have put it out in the world, because it’s a young, it’s what is considered a yantra. I now know that it’s a yantra. And you can use it in the same way as a device.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Yantra is like a visible, like a Mantra amount, whereas a monitor would be auditory Yantra is visual. And it’s a tool for transcendence.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah. And you know, munches are considered emanations of the Divine direct. I mean, sorry, entrence. This came from the Divine, you know, that’s where it came.

Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah. And mantras are said to have been cognized to it’s not like somebody just dreamed them up, and then experimented sort of like they actually cognize seed sounds that are intrinsic to creation that are conducive to transcending. And perhaps the same is true of, you know, of Yantras. And all kinds of our typical symbols, you know,

Stephen D’Amico: that’s right. Yeah. They reveal their reveal through the through the the inner journey. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Well, two questions have come in from people in Toronto got a fan base up there. One is a an elaboration of what we were just talking about, just and it’s a little bit of a semantics thing. What how would you distinguish between an awakening and Enlightenment? Keeping in mind that those are words that we can assign whatever meanings we want to words, but how would you differentiate between awakening and Enlightenment, if you would,

Stephen D’Amico: just in the way that I use those terms, awakening usually is some sort of momentary or temporary glimpse. And it may not be a glimpse of the full truth, you know, right. So we can have all kinds of spiritual awakenings, we can awaken to the knowingness of reality, and we’re like, oh, everything is now we get it. And so that awakening leads to that. But Enlightenment is the complete or at least allowing, and this can happen in meditation or through spiritual experience, the complete the complete dissolution of the ordinary sense of self, and a return to the primordial, eternal infinite dimension of beingness, that you that that, you know, that gives rise to your own awareness, but that it transcends it, and in fact, is the source and substance for everything in existence. And the more that we go through that experience, because sometimes one time is not enough. And for most people, the process of spiritual awakening, leading to some kind of a permanent shift in consciousness, to that enlightened state, happens gradually over time. It’s usually with spiritual teachers, or people that have made significant enough process on the spiritual journey in previous lifetimes that they go through these more traumatic ones being it’s much more gradual, but we still we have to understand, okay, so what is the transformation that we have to experience. And then the more that you experience it, the more it leads to a permanent change in your overall sense of self, such that you realize you’re no longer just an ego or personality or your particular body, mind, emotions, thoughts, all of that. Those are still all intrinsic parts of you as a human being but who and what you are, is more than that.

Rick Archer: Yeah, there was something good in there. I mean, there’s a lot of good stuff in there, but I want to make sure people caught it. I mean, sometimes people wonder how come some people just have these amazing experiences as children and they wake up, you know, so apparently easily without a whole lot of practice? And I think you just nailed it in terms of development in previous lifetimes. Some people don’t believe in previous lifetimes and all but I think that that’s really a thing where, you know, people have and it talks about that in various scriptures too. And the Gita for instance, Arjuna asked Krishna, you know, what happens if you don’t make it in this lifetime? And Krishna basically says, you pick up in the next one where you left off. So I think there’s a lot of that that happens when somebody is a child protege spiritually, maybe even in other fields, like musically, how come Mozart was so good at the age of five or six, you know, or it’s Yeah, yeah. And then. Alright, well, I guess that covers that point. A couple people asked a question along these lines, both again from Toronto, one asking if you had met other enlightened if you have met other enlightened sages, and another elaborating a bit and saying, Have you had any personal interaction with a living Master or any mentor? Have you been a student of some mentor? Who could question you or hold you accountable? I think it was Adi Da who said that dead gurus don’t kick ass. But you know, having said what, that dead girls don’t kick ass. But the implication is that, you know, if you have a close association with a living teacher, they can sort of put your feet to the fire and really make sure you don’t get off on tangents or, you know, help to work out kinks in your personality, and so on and so forth. And, you know, they say that good students make good teachers that so but have you ever really had a student ship phase under the tutelage of any spiritual teacher? No. Okay. At least not.

Stephen D’Amico: Because I didn’t want one not because I didn’t look for one, but I’ve never, never found

Rick Archer: one that worked for you. Okay, so if anybody wants to ask any follow up questions on that they can. Okay, anything you in the back of your mind at this point that you want to say that I haven’t been bringing up? Is there any, like, interesting point that we haven’t been touching upon?

Stephen D’Amico: That I can think of I mean, we, you know, we’ve got into some pretty interesting stuff, I think,

Rick Archer: okay, no problem, just want to give you a little opportunity to jump in there. If there’s, I have a few more points here in my notes that we can talk about. This is a nice one, just throw in we can maybe just dwell on it for a moment in what in your heaven on earth book, you quoted Hildegard of Bingen as saying everything that is in the heavens on the earth and under the earth is penetrated with connectedness penetrated with relatedness. It kind of reminds you that notion of the net of Indra, you know, Indras net, where every point creation is infinitely correlated with every other point in creation, and that it’s all just divine intelligence interacting within itself completely in a completely holistic or what’s the word? complementarity and physics? I think everything is connected with everything else. You want to elaborate on that particularly in light of your experience?

Stephen D’Amico: No, just that it’s a it’s it’s, you know, her words are based on a direct experience. It’s just, it’s just something that we we can experience is again, one of those flavors or facets of awakening. Yeah, yeah, at this point, one of the things that, that I’ve come to understand is there’s so many different realizations, so many different states of being that we can we can enter into. And there are different practices that are more conducive to the you know, experiences of non dual interconnectivity, like one that you just described. And then you know, there are other practices that are more conducive to states of realization of the Absolute inherent emptiness of everything, or its formless potential.

Rick Archer: Do you feel that as we go through these stages that you just alluded to, that were like the blind men feeling the elephant where we’re kind of getting sort of different perspectives on a larger reality, and that, you know, eventually to, you know, using this metaphor, if we become sighted, if we lose, if we’re, if we’re no longer blind, we can see the whole elephant, we’ll all see the same thing. And so that in the sense of all the spiritual, aspirants having all these different experiences, some are emptiness, some or fullness, some say there’s no free will some say this free will go on and on many, many different flavors of experience, you feel like if there’s a state of spiritual maturation, which potentially everyone could reach, and eventually we’ll reach perhaps, in which we’ll all sort of be in accordance with one another in terms of our view of reality.

Stephen D’Amico: Maybe not in the way that you’re, you’re sort of suggesting up I’m not really sure, I’ll just say that. With all of these different experiences, that we can have all the different kinds of spiritual experiences that we can have. What’s more important is to just legitamate them. They’re real. Yeah, they happen. And because one teacher has an experience of love, and another one has an experience of peace or another teacher has an experience of bliss. It’s in the nature of that particular individual to emphasize the The different facets of awakening that they’ve experienced. So that becomes part of what they share. You see, Rick, it’s all love. There’s no love in the universe, it’s all just peace and nothing actually exists. This is all a dream. These are all different perspectives that come from states of being, and real, and the realization that go with those states of being, but all of them are the elephant, because it’s all the divine.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s a good point. I suppose another way I might have asked that question is, is if Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Mohammed, and Laos, and a few others walked into a bar, you know, would they all have, you know, agree with one another in terms of what the reality is? I think your answer brought out a good point. And I’ve heard this said that, that we all have different nervous systems and different makeups different predominance is of, you know, doshas they call them in in IR VEDA. And according to the different or different makeups, we’re going to, even if we’re all experiencing the same reality, we’re going to express different facets or flavors of it differently, like even the Vedic rishis, that they had a certain cognition of one, one portion of the Veda, another issue would have another cognition, and no one had all the cognitions because it just doesn’t work that way, you know, we have specialized capabilities. Yeah,

Stephen D’Amico: I think that’s part of it. I think also, you know, you know, a meeting of all those, you know, great sages, they probably after they got over the difference in semantics, assuming they all spoke the same language would probably all agree with the, what I call the absolute truth that all of this is happening, as an expression of some transcendent mystery, from which nobody really knows where it came from. And yet it created all of this. Yeah, where they might differ is, well, I’ve experienced I had a vision of a donkey, then I went up into heaven, the others, I never I didn’t know I didn’t write, I didn’t see any visions. So they might differ on those those particular details. Right. But I think they would find agreement in an understanding of the actual mystery of existence.

Rick Archer: Yeah. And they wouldn’t be killing each other over their differences, as their followers tend to do. No, I don’t think so. One thing that’s an important theme to you, and me, too, is the notion that there is some kind of global awakening taking place, you can read things, I was just reading something the other day about the sort of most worst case scenario of global warming, or climate change, and how it could be way worse than, you know, even our most pessimistic projections, that that sea level rise will be the least of it. And it can make you feel like well, you know, I don’t even know if the human race is going to exist, another couple of generations. But on the other hand, there’s this spiritual upwelling taking place and people all over the world having spiritual awakenings. And, you know, which a lot of people aren’t aware of, because it’s more beneath the radar. But personally, I find it extremely inspiring, and, you know, conducive to optimism. So, I mean, what’s your sense of that, and from either just a personal opinion, or some kind of cognitive realization.

Stephen D’Amico: You know, evolution is the evolutionary impulse. And what’s happening now, it’s sort of, it’s forcing, it’s forcing humanity to awaken in a way,

Rick Archer: like hell, so

Stephen D’Amico: Well, it’s sort of like crunch time in a way. Like we’re continuing on with our current level of development, participating in systems that we helped co create, because of our own either lack of understanding of any other alternative or, or just because this is the way we we, we experience and accept that the world is we’re all participating in our human shared experience in a way. But yet, we are also beginning to realize and more and more people are beginning to realize that the way that we’re doing it is killing the planet, it’s or potentially going to create a situation that is so irreparable, that we may not be here. Right. I doubt that very much. I think, you know, some of us will squeak through worst case scenario. But it’s a case it’s like it’s a case of like, Easter Island. Are we going to continue to do this? Like, why haven’t we stopped? Why are we not even like, we’re not even barely tapping the brakes. And really, according to the colleges, we should be hitting full stop and reversing.

Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s scary. I mean, Yuri, maybe people aren’t aware of what happened on Easter Island, but basically, the the civilization there wiped itself out by cutting down all the trees and eliminating the the basis of their sustenance. And we’re kind of doing that on a global scale. But, but there is a sort of hope. I mean, you know, it’s not like accidental that there’s some kind of spiritual epidemic taking place. And it may be actually in direct response to counterbalance the the devastation that that we’re doing by persisting in our, you know, unlife supporting ways.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, you know, we’re like this as human beings, we, we put off what we know we have to do until it becomes situation critical. Yeah, do this in our own individual lives. And it seems we do it collectively.

Rick Archer: Winston Churchill said of Americans who said that they always can be counted on to do the right thing after having tried every other possibility.

Stephen D’Amico: I’m very optimistic just because of the our level of technological development. Like I just think, you know, when when push comes to shove, some whiz kid is going to invent something that’s going to, you know, reduce the carbon imprint? Yeah, is it really, I just think it’s just a matter of political will to

Rick Archer: the capabilities already there. I was reading an article about Elon Musk the other day, and he was giving a presentation to, I believe it was actually oil company executives showing that, you know, putting solar panels on 100 square miles of desert out in Nevada or someplace, could power the entire United States. And you add to that, you know, localized solar panels, so that there’s, you know, we’re not totally dependent on big transmission lines and, and batteries, which are getting good enough to, you know, hold the charge for a long time. And we’re completely off fossil fuel is pretty much completely off. It’s just a matter of will and political, you know, an economic. Yeah,

Stephen D’Amico: absolutely. Yeah.

Rick Archer: There’s a good question that came in from Manuel in Toronto. He asks, today, everyone wants to become a teacher. How do you distinguish a true realized being from a fake guru?

Stephen D’Amico: No, you need a good bullshit detector?

Rick Archer: Yeah. How do you get one of those

Stephen D’Amico: life experience? get burned a few times? Yeah. You know, I think it’s they’re, they’re all kinds of teachers, they’re all kinds of in any, in any human endeavor, you know, like, there are people that are really good at it, then there are people that are average, and then there are people that are complete frauds. Yeah. Sometimes you hire them to do rentals on your house. Same with spiritual teachers.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I guess that’s a good enough answer. I mean, you know, I’ve interviewed so many hundreds now. And if I had to answer that question, I would just say, look for sincerity, what you see is what you get kind of feeling from the person not putting on airs, you know, not claiming to be something superduper special and holding themselves above people, you know, walking their talk, you know, very often it can be just a sort of a natural down to earth goodness, you know, that they’re not afraid to say they run a grilled cheese sandwich shop, or you know, or are struggling to make ends meet, because they’re raising a couple of kids, you know, as a single parent or something, and yet, they have a wisdom and a sincerity and, you know, intelligence that that really comes through.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah. And I think it takes a while to get to know the answer to that, you know, you have to spend time with anybody, it takes a while to get to know a person. And the more time that you spend with them, the more you get a feel for who they are really, yeah. They want you to how they want you to perceive them if that is in fact, something that they’re trying to do. Right.

Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s like falling in love with somebody versus having been married to them for a few years, you know, you’re really getting to know them. Yeah, I suppose one one we could answer we could give to that is don’t don’t drop your critical faculties. There’s no harm in asking questions and scrutinizing and, you know, expecting rational answers. And if, if someone is offended by your doing that, not that you should be confrontational or rude, but if, you know if someone appears to be like, trying to maintain a facade and is threatened by any challenge to that facade, then, you know, be very wary.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, see what happens when you give them a poke? Yeah, yeah. THEY GIGGLE Right. Or do they do they scream you out? The Room for breaking the illusion of what what it is that they’re, you know, trying to get you to, you know, buy into.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Also other points are coming to mind. Are they kind or are they abusive? You know, I mean, are they doing weird things with money? Is there some kind of inappropriateness going on with sexual relationships with students anything like that was is a real red flag? Do they rationalize that kind of stuff by saying that well, I My ways are inscrutable, and you shouldn’t question them anything.

Stephen D’Amico: All those things are crazy wisdom. Yeah.

Rick Archer: I’m very leery of this quote, quote, so called Crazy Wisdom. Thanks. Yeah,

Stephen D’Amico: that’s right.

Rick Archer: Yeah. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s a duck. Okay, well, we’ve covered quite a bit of ground. Unless there are any further questions that come in next few seconds, we could probably wrap it up or if there’s anything else that you feel you’d like to add. Obviously, let’s just talk about a bit what you have to offer you there in the Toronto area. And obviously, you do things locally. You also I guess, do some webinars and all online that people can tune in on from around the world.

Stephen D’Amico: I’ve just started using Facebook Live. So I here in Toronto, I offer Satsang. On, I’ll probably start broadcasting that on Facebook Live. Yeah. I just recently, as you know, launch that project of walking in the woods, on Facebook Live. So I offer, you know, sort of presence and guidance in real time. And you can tune into that. I’ll be doing that probably once a week after this episode. I just spearheaded it last week to see if it would actually work. It’s something I’ve been dreaming about doing for a number of years.

Rick Archer: Now listen to that today while I was walking in the woods. Another thing you might want to consider, which I’ve some friends of mine have found successful as you you set up a thing with Zoom. And then and then you have like, you know, 2030 people or even more can join in, and you can join in and you give like a little Satsang you can talk for a while and then they can ask questions and that you might want to consider something like that.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, thanks for the tip. Yeah. It’s a matter of learning the technology and you know, yeah,

Rick Archer: yeah. Well, my friend Jerry, who sets my guests up with their equipment and says, you, you were easy to set up here and you seem to be technically proficient. Yeah, I’m

Stephen D’Amico: okay with this stuff. YouTube’s Great. Yeah. It’s also a matter of time. Yeah, I’m to do these things, but true. And I also am available for one on one Skypes. And there’s information about that on my website.

Rick Archer: Okay. And your website is Steven D’Amico dot com, right? Yep. Okay, which is Stephens Ste pH en da, mi, co, dot CLM. Okay, great. So thanks, Steven, there’s been a lot of fun.

Stephen D’Amico: Likewise, I really appreciate the opportunity. Rick, it’s great to actually finally meet you. I know I sort of mentioned I’m not sure if I mentioned at the top of the interview, but it’s really this is like a dream come true. For me, I’ve sort of as a, as a spiritual teacher, after my awakening, I didn’t say anything to anybody for 10 years, because I knew I wasn’t in any way ready or equipped to guide anyone anywhere.

Rick Archer: It was funny to say that, because I often mentioned that apparently, in the Zen tradition, they say that after your awakening, you shouldn’t do anything for 10 years, you know?

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, you say this recently. And so that was confirming you know, I got the timeline, right. According to Zen. And ever since I’ve discovered your work, I thought, you know, one day it would be great to be on your show. And here we are today.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I got the sense that the timing was right, I heard you say in your walk in the woods that you had just sort of, I don’t know, you’d reach some point, which you felt like alright, now it would be good time for a wider audience. And then Irene got in touch with him.

Stephen D’Amico: That’s right. Yeah. Cool. Yeah, it was. Yeah. Yeah, thanks again, for, for, for having me on the show. And also for doing this, because what you’re doing is really providing a platform for spiritual teachers that are, you know, trying to convince people of these very subtle and esoteric truths that people like, I need that why do I need that?

Rick Archer: Well, it’s like, we’re all serving each other. You know, I mean, this is a great blessing for me to be able to do this, and it helps the teachers who do it and it helps the people who watch and listen. So it’s this kind of mutually supportive endeavor.

Stephen D’Amico: Yeah, well, and you know, that’s why I called you the incomparable Rick Archer. You spearheaded this. You’ve been there since the beginning. Really?

Rick Archer: Yes. In the beginning, God created Rick Archer. Back out. On the second day, smack the back of the head Let me make a couple general wrap up points. You’ve been pretty much people know what I’m about to say you’ve been watching an interview with Steven D’Amico, and on this show Buddha at the Gas Pump. And I’ve been doing this for about seven years now and intend to continue doing it. So you can go to the site to check out the previous ones, you can sign up to be notified by email of future ones, you can subscribe to the you to the YouTube channel, which actually helps a lot. I mentioned this once in a while, but there’s this sort of magic threshold, you cross when you reach 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, they, they really sit up and take notice. And I’ve already been getting a lot of help from them that it’ll be even greater greater if I ever reach that point. Right now, I’m still in the high 20s of 1000s of subscribers. But if you haven’t subscribed, you might click on the subscribe button. And then you’ll be notified by YouTube every time there’s a new interview. Then there’s an audio podcast of this if you’d like to listen to things while commuting or walking in the woods or whatever, and a bunch of other things. So just go to the site and explore the menus. There aren’t too many things. But what you’ll find there, I think you’ll find useful. And again, as I said, beginning we appreciate any financial support you care to offer large or small. So thanks for listening or watching. And we’ll see you again next week. I hope next week I’ll be interviewing Shri M for the second time, the very sweet, saintly man from India who has a very interesting story. And he’s written a sequel to his first book, which I intend to read in the coming week, which is subtitle of it is the journey continues. So I’m eager to see what he has to say and to talk to him again. So again, thanks, and we’ll see you next week. Thanks, Steven. Thanks, Ray. All right. Good luck. Thanks.