Thomas Razzeto Transcript

Thomas Razzeto Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. There have been over 340 of them now, and if this is new to you, or if you’re new to this, you might want to go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look at the past interviews menu, where you’ll see all the previous ones categorized and organized in various ways. There’s also an audio podcast for this, and the whole production 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 there, and much thanks to those who have been supporting it. My guest today is Thomas Razzeto. Thomas is – reading his own bio here – “One of the newest and freshest voices among the teachers of our balanced ancient non-dual wisdom. Thomas easily digs deeply into the core of this wisdom to reveal both its essential truth and the heartfelt compassion that all true sages embody when they are genuinely engaged in the world without being entangled by it. The first time Thomas heard this non-dual wisdom was in 2005, when he attended one of Timothy Conway’s satsangs. And he has continually attended these weekly meetings since they provide the foundation for all his work”. And I might add that I interviewed Timothy in the first year that I was doing BatGap, and you might enjoy watching that interview. By the way, Timothy Conway was guest number 28 on Buddha at the Gas Pump in July of 2010. “Timothy woke up when he was only 16 and later was fortunate enough to meet several enlightened masters such as Sri Nisargadatta, Annamalai Swami, and others, among Sri Ramana Maharshi’s immediate followers. Thomas teaches in plain English, yet much of what he says would be recognized by people familiar with Advaita, Buddhism, or Hinduism. Thomas has taught his book, ‘Living the Paradox of Enlightenment’ as a class for the Center for Lifelong Learning, which is part of Santa Barbara City College, the highest-ranked community college in the U.S. In September 2012, Thomas spoke for the prestigious lecture series ‘Mind and Supermind,’ which is run by Santa Barbara City College”. Thomas is speaking to us from Santa Barbara. I just want to add that I have read about 95% of Thomas’ book. It was either finish the book this morning or take a bike ride, and I took a bike ride. But I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s an interesting mix, Thomas, of Advaita explained in ways that I find uniquely clear in some respects. You’ve sort of devised some of your own analogies and metaphors and clarified my understanding of some things, and yet you kind of easily segue from quoting Shankara and discussion of Advaita to quoting Seth and Bashar and getting into a little bit of politics and social justice and all sorts of things. I consider that significant because I don’t think that non-dual realization is exclusive of any realm of life. It should not prevent one from being socially responsible, for instance, or committed to social justice or compassionate action. It shouldn’t result in a dismissal of the world as illusory, and therefore whatever is happening to anybody doesn’t matter because it’s all just a play. You know, talk like that that we sometimes hear in non-dual circles. So I think you’ve got a nice balance going of experience, of understanding, and of heart.

Thomas: Ah, thank you so much. That’s so nice to hear.

Rick: Yeah. Okay. Well… yeah, go ahead.

Thomas: So, you touched on some really important things, and one of them is that we’re not here to explain this mystery of life, God, and creation. I mean, I want to encourage people to stand in awe of this mystery, and yet at the same time we can gain a practical understanding of it. And I want to make a distinction between explaining it and describing it. Explaining it would try to go in real deeply, whereas describing it is just a little bit staying on the practical level. So I think that’s really important because this non-dual wisdom is very practical. It can lead to a deeper peace, greater joy, and more love. And what could be more practical than that?

Rick: When I hear “explaining versus describing”, the connotation of one is almost like academic, whereas the other is more experiential. Are you implying that?

Thomas: Yeah, like for example, scientists take the same approach, because if you hold a ball in your hand and let it go, it falls to the ground, and they can describe how fast it’s going at every moment of its fall, and they describe it with a mathematical equation. But they know full well that time, space, energy, and matter are all complete mysteries which they are not going to try to explain, but they can describe what they see. So they’re staying on this practical level. And so we, as sages, can do the same thing. We can step this non-dual wisdom into a practical level without really worrying about these deep questions. In fact, one of the questions that I first had for Timothy when I started to attend satsang, almost 11 years ago, was, “Timothy, is there an outside world out there?” That was a burning question for me and Timothy simply answered – one simple statement. He said, “This question does not lead to liberation”. And with that I went, “Ah, I don’t have to answer all these questions, and I just can look for something that’s helpful”. And he was speaking about liberation from these selfish or self-centered tendencies.

Rick: I heard a story about the Buddha one time, it’s just an example he used, where if you’re shot with an arrow, you don’t start asking questions like, “Hmm, I wonder what kind of wood this is made, and what kind of bird these feathers came from?” You know, things like that. You want to get the arrow out. So there’s sort of an immediacy about that, and you wouldn’t get caught up in trivial questions like that. And I think that kind of illustrates the point you’re making.

Thomas: Yes, it does, that’s very good, I like that.

Rick: Yeah. So, when did you first kind of get interested in spirituality? When you were a young kid or something?

Thomas: Oh yeah, I mean I was raised Catholic by very loving parents and a big family, and I always felt connected to some kind of a spiritual dimension, and I was very Catholic. So when I was in grade school I was thinking I was going to be a priest, and I am a priest in a way but by the time I was about 20, some of those principles of the Catholic faith just didn’t seem to hold up. And I read a book by Alan Watts called “The Book: the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”. And it was a very thin book, you probably have seen it, right?

Rick: I never read it.

Thomas: Yeah, I read it and I went, “Wow, there’s a really different way of looking at all of this”. And so for a while I just didn’t have any guidance, but I still felt quite strongly that there is a God, and that I had a soul. And about 1980, I started to read some of the Seth books. Now there are quite a few Seth books, so I only read a couple of them. And they’re very deep, and they got me thinking the Seth phrase that’s so popular is “You create your own reality”. And that really is something to ponder, and especially when you realize that Buddha says something very similar, “With your thoughts you create the world”. And so with that I was open-minded to channeling, and I would say about in the middle of the 1980s I started to go to live channeling sessions and actually was asked to be the audio guy involved in one of these groups. And so I saw quite a bit of channeling, and that was the experience of it, the guided meditations and things like that were quite profound. And I wasn’t as interested in normal human teachers, shall we say. I was really reading more channeled books, and just meditating and walking in nature, hiking, going to the beach, stuff like that. And again, about 11 years ago I showed up at Timothy Conway’s satsang. I had just bumped into a friend downtown. She said something like, “Well, I’m going up to Timothy Conway’s for a meeting”. I said, “Well, who is he? What does he do?” “Oh, he’s a spiritual teacher”. And she practically had to drag me up. We were right in the neighborhood, too. And so the thing that really impressed me about Timothy was he’s so relaxed, he’s so comfortable, he just matter-of-factly explains the non-dual wisdom. He doesn’t use any fireworks or spotlights or drum rolls. He’s all very comfortable. And it took a while for me to realize the breadth of his knowledge. He’s quite scholarly in Hinduism, Buddhism, and many many other non-dual traditions.

Rick: He’s got a PhD in what? Comparative World Religions or something?

Thomas: Something like that.

Rick: It’s more about what is enlightenment or something.

Thomas: His PhD thesis was actually written on the aspects of enlightenment. And it’s surprising to me that that thesis is 550 pages long. And when I heard that, I realized that Timothy likes to talk, and I do, too. So I wasn’t too surprised. But at the same time, he told me just a couple of weeks ago, he said, “Tom” – he also calls me Thomas – but he said, “Hey, my original draft was a thousand pages long”. So anyway, we’ll talk a little bit about what is enlightenment. So what I did want to point out was one of the things that he did do for me immediately that went, “Ah!” was people had been telling me for 25 years that I was divine. “You are divine. You are divine”. Timothy was the first one to say how I was divine. “You are divine in your awareness. It is here you find your source nature, your divine nature, your infinite nature”. And then I went, “Oh, this could be what I’m looking for”. It didn’t really make sense immediately in a deep intuitive way, but it gave me something to work with and to ponder.

Rick: When did it begin to make sense in a more intuitive way?

Thomas: Oh, it probably took a couple of months. Again, I would attend every week and he would basically go through some of these fundamental points of non-dual wisdom. And I would just go for a walk and be out in nature and sit on a rock. You don’t need to sit out in nature. You can sit wherever you are. Don’t do this while you’re driving. And I would just think, “What does it mean to be pure awareness? What is that?” And so it started to have a bit more of a feel to it, an intuitive wisdom. So a lot of people think that this non-dual wisdom actually is beyond the mind. And certainly this intuitive component is beyond the mind. But there’s a cognitive component also where we have true ideas. And as this deep intuition grows, these true ideas become clearer and clearer and the words become clearer. And this helps open you up to the intuitive understanding. And so that becomes deeper. So they each help the other. And they’re like two hands, one washing the other. And together you come to a clear understanding in words and a deeper understanding in wisdom. So it’s very beautiful and very important.

Rick: Yeah. Would it be a simple way of saying and an accurate way to say that enlightenment or higher consciousness or whatever we want to call it, has like two legs to it, experience and understanding?

Thomas: Yeah, I think that’s a good point.

Rick: And you can’t walk without both legs, really.

Thomas: Yes. And there’s actually some aspects that we can go even deeper than this. When it comes to experience, of course, we’re always talking about phenomena, the world, some aspect of the world. And an experience is, of course, the experiencer, the active experiencing and the object that is experienced. And this understanding is phenomena. It’s a collection of beliefs and ideas that are integrated into your soul, into your personal consciousness. So yes, that’s growing, but it’s all sourced in this thing that is not a thing. But you can know this, this pure awareness, because this is what you are. Everything else we know through experience, but this is something we can’t experience. You are not an object of any kind. There’s no aspect that you can see or perceive.

Rick: Yeah.

Thomas: You see what I mean?

Rick: I do. And obviously the word “experience”, as you say, ordinarily applies to every experience that we ever have, which has that threefold structure, experience or mechanics of experience and objects of experience. And maybe we can find a better word, but I kind of use the word just to emphasize that what we’re talking about here is not merely conceptual. Because there are a lot of people who immerse themselves in the concept and mistake that concept for actual realization. In fact, there’s an old Tibetan saying that’s, “Don’t mistake understanding for realization”.

Thomas: Exactly.

Rick: Yeah. So somehow or other, maybe we can find a better word. And the kind of experience we’re talking about here is not a threefold structure the way ordinary experience is, but we do want to emphasize that we’re referring to something experiential that’s sort of like lived in a deep way, and that would be a radically different way of being in the world than if that experience had not dawned in one’s awareness. I keep coming back to the word “experience”.

Thomas: Yeah, but I see what you’re saying. It’s personal. It’s really intimately personal.

Rick: Yeah, very much so.

Thomas: Timothy sometimes uses the phrase, “This wisdom comes alive within you”.

Rick: Yeah, like if you could magically step into Ramana Maharshi’s shoes, so to speak, although he didn’t wear them, and see the world through his eyes, you wouldn’t say to yourself, “Wow, now I really understand things”. It would be more like this profound experiential shift. That would be the main emphasis.

Thomas: Yeah, and for me, I did have an experience that I write about in the book.

Rick: Tookey Williams?

Thomas: Yes, about the passing of Tookey Williams.

Rick: Why don’t you talk about that? That would be a nice segue right now.

Thomas: You know, I had been listening to Timothy for about five or six months at this time, and I became aware of this person named Tookey Williams, and he was scheduled to be put to death. And he was at San Quentin. He was in San Quentin, and he had been put in solitary confinement numerous times. And I didn’t know anything about him. It just came up in the news in one of the stations that broadcast out of Los Angeles. And they were talking about the attempt to stop this execution. And the reason they wanted to stop it is because it seemed like he had become a transformed man. And he had started off when he was only about 12 years old, I believe, in South Central Los Angeles. And the people that he hung out with later became the core of a gang, a very famous gang called the Crips. And so as he got older, he was in quite a powerful position of this gang. And so I’m sure that lifestyle was very violent, and there were many things that we would say you can’t be in society and you have to be in prison. So they put him in prison. And I heard him speak, him personally, a couple of times on the radio. And these were not just quick little sound bites. So I got a feeling for the guy, and I knew that he had written children’s book, several of them, maybe 12. And he always co-wrote them as far as I understood. And these were books about peace. They were books about the false promise of being in a gang. And he was getting a lot of feedback from people that would read his books. And they would say things like, “Your book helped me stay out of a gang”. Or someone would say, “Your book helped my children stay out of a gang”. And so here he had a positive effect on the world. And I just couldn’t imagine taking someone that’s contributing to our society in this very important way from his perspective, a perspective that I could never have. I mean, he could talk about what it was like to be in a gang because he was in one since he was 12. He was black from South Central. You know, I was born in Oklahoma. I’m white. How can I take this perspective? And so I realized that his voice was so important. And I had also been working on a children’s book, but it wasn’t getting any traction. And here he was making this difference. And so the day came where they were going to put him to death. And I usually get pretty emotional when I talk about this. And they usually do these things at midnight. And I had never heard of anything like this being stopped at the last minute. So I really wasn’t that hopeful. But I wasn’t that strongly – I didn’t think – connected to this man. And I went to bed at around 11. And I knew he was scheduled to be put to death in just one hour. And about 1am I woke up. It was just a couple minutes before 1 o’clock. I looked at my clock radio and I said, if I push that button and turn it on, the news is going to come on. And it’s been the lead story. So they’ll probably tell me what happened. So I reached over and I pushed that button. And a man said, without any emotion, that they had put Tookie Williams to death. And I was not ready for how strongly this hit me. I just started crying so, so much. I didn’t know anyone could cry that hard. And as I was crying, I just, I was still in this place of being quite comfortable, witnessing this crying, witnessing this sadness, witnessing the beauty of this moment. And I thought to myself, I’m going to find out what this sadness really is. And I pulled this sadness closer and closer. And as I pulled it into me, it just dissolved into nothing. And I realized that it was dissolving into my awareness because that is where it was born out of. And I realized that all my emotions were like that. They came out of my awareness, were witnessed by my awareness, and were dissolved by my awareness. And in this, I realized that everything was born out of my awareness, that this awareness is source awareness. And this, of course, is what Timothy was talking about. And so this helped underline what he was saying by a very personal and deep experience. And I want to say something about mystical experiences. Some people might ask, well, how come I haven’t had one? Or some people might have one and try and put themselves up on a pedestal. “I had it, you didn’t, I’m the teacher, you’re not”, all this kind of ridiculous stuff. When you really understand this wisdom, you know that all these people are this divine essence. And the person itself is this unique expression that comes from this. So in substance, they are this, and there’s nothing wrong with them. And no one is better or worse than anyone else. Now on a practical level, it’s important to evaluate people and deal with the reality of personalities and things. But I think you understand what I’m saying. And let me go just a little bit further with that. When you really understand what a mystical experience is, you understand that all experiences are mystical experiences. This is the witnessing of God in form. It’s just not recognized as that. And so I have another little chapter about recognizing something that you’ve been seeing all the time. I talk about seeing the 3D dinosaur. I don’t know if you read that chapter.

Rick: I did, I did. Yeah, that’s cool. And in that chapter you refer to those puzzle books that have just this whole computer-generated jumble of patterns and colors and all that. They don’t look like anything, but if you stare at them long enough in the right way, an image pops out. In the example you used, it’s a 3D dinosaur. And so you’re kind of saying that the world is like that. We’re actually staring God in the face, so to speak, or he’s staring us in the face. It’s like we’re looking at the Divine here, but we don’t see it for reasons we can discuss.

Thomas: Yeah, exactly. I like the way you put that, and I even like the way that you said, “We don’t see it”. To be a little bit more precise, we do see it, we just don’t recognize it.

Rick: Yeah, we misinterpret it or something.

Thomas: Yeah, exactly. That’s probably even a better way to say it. And so I also like that word you used, “pop”. I mean, when you’re looking at those images and all of a sudden they just pop right in front of you, it’s like, “Whoa!” It’s like, “Look at this! How could that have been there all along?” And then you put the book aside and you come back and you don’t see it. It’s like, but you know it’s there. You know it’s there, you can’t deny it. And if more than one person is seeing it, they can all agree, “Oh, I see it’s standing this way, it’s looking to the left, it’s got little arms or a big body or whatever it is”. And then if somebody doesn’t see it and they try to protect it and it’s got a little hat on, and then everybody looks at him like, “No, it doesn’t have a hat on”. You know what I’m saying? So anyway, what I’m saying here is be comfortable with who you are and where you are and everything will unfold with you, for you, in the precise moment. And if you want to have an experience different from the one you’re having, that might be a little bit of a resistance. But don’t worry and just let it flow and we’ll see what happens.

Rick: Yeah, and just to wrap up that previous point, you know the famous Vedantic example is the snake and the string. The light is dim, there’s a rope on the road or something and you’re walking along and you jump in fear because it looks like a snake. So you’re misinterpreting it. And then, but with a little bit more light maybe, a little bit more knowledge, you realize, “Oh, it’s only a rope, nothing to be afraid of”. So, that example is obviously always used to illustrate that we’re looking at God but we don’t recognize what we’re looking at. We misinterpret it, under-evaluate it, under-appreciate it. And of course there’s flaws in the grammar I’m using here now because who is it that’s under-evaluating it? We can get to that.

Thomas: Yeah, and I like that example and I like the fact that when you realize what it is, you realize it’s not dangerous. And when you realize what the world is and who you really are, you realize that you are this unchangeable thing that is not a thing and that the world is not really dangerous. It seems dangerous and we will respect that from the experiential point of view because if you’re driving your car or riding your bike, you don’t want to engage in dangerous activities that might be harmful to the person, to the body. But who you really are is untouchable and we also want to have compassion for people that are suffering, you know what I’m saying.

Rick: Yeah, what was that, what was it, the Diamond Sutra or something in Buddhism? I just read it in your book last night where it’s something like, I have it here, actually it’s a Diamond Cutter Sutra.

Thomas: Exactly.

Rick: The Vajracchedika Diamond Cutter Sutra, “One must save all sentient beings and there are no sentient beings”.

Thomas: And this is really an important thing, that one statement is from one perspective and the other statement is from a different perspective and both perspectives are valid, this is the key thing. And for example, maybe we can actually open up this question of why we use the phrase “non-dual wisdom” and I actually have a little essay that’s up on my website and it’s part of the first chapter of the book and it’s about these two perspectives. So, why do we call it non-dual wisdom? Well, God and creation are one reality, not two. This is the “not two” that the word non-dual is pointing to. Yet, why would we think that God and creation are one reality? Where does this come from? And of course we use the analogy of the actor coming forth as the character. And in this case, let’s think about a real actor in Hollywood. We clearly see that the actor is the source of the character, it’s not the other way around. The character cannot go on the stage without the actor. But when the actor comes forward as the character, they are one. When you look into the eyes of the character, you’re looking directly into the eyes of the actor. You don’t need to dig into a deeper level to find the actor. Every quality or aspect that the character has is really a quality or aspect that’s being exhibited by the actor. The actor is fully permeating the character in a way that makes them one. And yet we also know that it makes perfect sense to respect this difference because one is the transcendent source of the other, which is dependent. So it’s paradoxical, but we can take both approaches and recognize them both. And of course we see that the analogy I’m using it to point to God and creation. God is this invisible actor that’s coming forth as not only all persons, but also the all worlds and all props, all sentient beings. And in doing so, permeates all of creation in a way that makes them one. The character can’t push back against the actor, it has no will or power of its own. And so creation is this instrument of God that comes forward, and yet one is the transcendent source of the other.

Rick: Nice. Just a little plug for something here. I gave a talk at the S.A.N.D. conference last October that emphasized this point quite a bit, that what we see around us must display the qualities of its source. And I kind of ticked off a whole bunch of points of various qualities of the world as evidenced by scientific understanding that correlate with qualities of the absolute or pure consciousness or Brahman as understood by Eastern philosophies and religions. So, anyway, if anybody feels like checking that out, it’s on Batgap. But do you want to play off that before we continue?

Thomas: Yeah, it’s really interesting as the process of enlightening unfolds within the person, the person becomes more transparent, more open for the instrument and the power of God to work through. So it’s this openness that the person becomes, but who you are is this open source awareness.

Rick: Yeah, and I really like the way you dealt with that in your book. There’s all kinds of things here. Here’s something that I quoted from your book, “The main paradox of enlightenment is that the true self, the Divine Self, does not become enlightened. Enlightenment is a set of conditions exhibited by the functional self, but that is not really you. Your true self is the unborn eternal divine awareness, which never changes since it has no form that ever could change. It is free from all conditions and as such it could never be or become enlightened, yet it is what enlightens all souls”.

Thomas: Yeah, I’m glad you read that. Timothy likes to say that who you are is the clear light that enlightens all souls. And notice he doesn’t use the word “white light” because you would see white light.

Rick: It has a quality to it.

Thomas: Exactly, it can be perceived. But you can’t see clear light, so who you are is aliveness itself, who you are is awareness itself, and it magically, we’re only describing, we’re not explaining, through the mystery of creation, this formless reality, capital R, that exists and always exists, magically comes forward as all form. And in this, there can be the polishing up of the person so that it moves down the road of spiritual unfoldment to the point where it becomes enlightenment. And then the main paradox is you’re cruising down the path thinking, and most people are not too egotistical about this, they’re just kind of curious, “Well, maybe one day I’ll become enlightened”. And then when you wake up, you realize, “Oh, the person is not who I am fundamentally. I am this open source awareness which cannot become enlightened”. But the person became enlightened. How interesting. There was an awakening, but that is not really me. Except in the way that you are all persons. And Timothy likes to use this phrase, the supra-personal, because God is not a super person, a big human, with the qualities of being the good guy or the good gal or whatever. It’s supra-personal, meaning it gives birth to all persons, permeates all persons, animates all persons, and yet transcends all persons.

Rick: So, you would agree that, as contrasted with what some teachers say, that yeah, you are a person, you’re just not only a person. Would you agree with that?

Thomas: Oh, absolutely. And the important thing about that is, well, it’s quickly with the analogy, the invisible actor comes forward as the character. There’s no doubt, if you walk up to someone playing a role and you look at them and you say, “I know who you are, you’re really”, and then you name the actor, of course it’s true but they are at that time playing that role. That is who they are there and then. So, you are both, yet there is this transcendent nature, which is truly the self. There is only one self. It gives birth to apparent selves, which are apparent in the sense that they are not really autonomous. They are not the source of their own will. If they appear to be the source, they appear to have their own will and power, but the will and power that’s expressed is truly that of this invisible actor, this one source.

Rick: Yeah. Well, let’s play with this a little bit. So, we know that Rain Man, Ratso Rizzo, and Tootsie, they never really existed. They were just roles, fictitious characters played by Dustin Hoffman. We know Dustin Hoffman exists, but those things were just things we saw on a movie screen. So, some people argue that there really is no person. I mean, it seems like there is, but there is no substance to it. When you get right down to it, you do not exist. And yet, we talk about reincarnation, you’re comfortable with that, that there is something that accumulates experience and merit and demerit and whatever as it goes from life to life and evolving. So, it would almost seem that there is a subtle essence of something or other that keeps on moving along. And we hear about ascended masters, for instance, even Jesus, interceding in human affairs. So, as highly enlightened as they were when they were on earth, they don’t seem to have dissolved into nothingness like a drop going into the ocean. They seem to exist in some discrete autonomous form still and are playing some kind of functional role. So, how do you reconcile that with the notion that none of these things… and I think I could almost answer this question myself, but I want to hear what you say. Go ahead.

Thomas: Well, I like the analogy of the movie. And especially, let’s use Hollywood. Imagine you were down in Hollywood. It exists. We’re going to use that as our framework, our main framework, Hollywood. And within this framework of Hollywood, there’s a stage, and on the stage, we fabricate, we create a story. Now, people often say that the movie is not real. But the more correct and precise way to say this is the movie exists as a movie. The movie exists as a fabrication. The movie exists as a fictional construct. This is how the movie is real. If the movie wasn’t real, you couldn’t go to the movies, you see. So, I like to say that the movie is one level down. It’s not real in the same way that Hollywood is real, but the movie is still in existence as a movie. Let’s suppose the story, the movie, has a murderer. The real police are not going to show up and arrest the actor who plays the role of the murderer because he was only pretending. There wasn’t really a murderer, but there still is a construction. So, the world exists experientially, but who you are exists absolutely. Who you are exists before space, before time. Who you are, this pure, open awareness, exists in the here that gives birth to all apparent here and there. Who you are exists now, in the eternal now, that gives birth to all these fleeting moments we call “now”. And so, there’s a reality to this movie, to this dream, to this construct. It is real experientially. It is vivid. You know this is real in some way. And yet, it’s not real in an absolute way because all of it is changing and it can all disappear. Now, I hear people, and Timothy’s one of them, that talks about how it disappears many, many times a second, and I don’t have any way to know that. But Timothy, he speaks so casually and he never boasts about where he is and who he is and all that kind of stuff. But he, in my opinion, probably goes into Samadhi. Now, I myself am not one that has experienced that. But when you exist as pure awareness and all worlds have disappeared, you become so sure that this fundamental source awareness is indeed the source of universal consciousness, the construction of all worlds and all sentient beings. And so, they are constructed and they’re real experientially, but I think it’s a mistranslation to say that they are not real or that they don’t exist. And I jokingly say something like, “The pink elephant in your pocket, that’s what doesn’t exist”. So there’s three terms I think we should use. Non-existence, reality as experienced, and the reality in this absolute way. And I think Shankara says something about this. Reality with form, reality without form, or reality with qualities and reality without qualities. One is this absolute transcendent source awareness, which you are, and the other is this emanation that comes forth as a dream or a constructed story or a constructed fiction.

Rick: I think that’s Nirguna Brahman and Saguna Brahman or something like that.

Thomas: Yes, you’ve got it and I often don’t know which one is which.

Rick: Well, Nir would be without, so Nirguna would be without qualities.

Thomas: Okay, there you go. I just want to make a little statement about language. Timothy is a scholar, he has strong aptitude in language, but I myself, that’s not my strength. When it comes to language, I’m a little bit dyslexic, I don’t spell very well at all, I have to look up all kinds of words, you’d be surprised.

Rick: I caught some typos in your book, I’m going to send it to you.

Thomas: Yeah, and I’ll appreciate that. And I’m okay with it, I mean this is who I am, this is how it is, my aptitudes lie elsewhere. It’s not like I’m completely inept with language because I like to speak, but when it comes to those kinds of things I don’t do well with that language. And what really helped me with Timothy’s satsang is whenever he used a Sanskrit word he would immediately explain it in plain English, and he would take words that… well, I had tried to pay attention to Buddhism in the past and I went to some Buddhist classes and stuff, but I just couldn’t get a handle on all the language, and so I just didn’t go there. But anyway, it was very easy for me to deal with Timothy.

Rick: Well that’s one thing I find refreshing about your book, is it’s written in very clear, plain language, and you use some really nice, clear examples, some of which I guess are original with you because I haven’t seen them before, but they help to illustrate things very nicely. Like the example of the house and looking out through the windows of the house, and so on, maybe we’ll get into that. I just want to throw one thing out here, because we were talking about whether the world is real and so on, and I think you used the word “dependent”, and there is actually a Sanskrit example for that, which is the word “mithya”, which means “dependent reality”, and they always use the example of a pot where it’s obviously there, you can put water in it or beans in it or something, and yet if you look more closely it’s only clay, so there is no pot, there’s only clay. But, for all practical purposes, there’s a pot, and it’s absurd to sort of ignore that level of reality and not use the pot or deny its existence or something, just because you happen to know it’s only clay.

Thomas: Yeah, that would be silly. And I have a chapter about illusions, and one of the things I point out about illusions is that even when you understand the truth of the illusion, in other words all illusions point to a false idea, once you realize that false idea is false, you let go of the idea. But still, quite frequently, your experience will show you that the false idea still appears to be true, and one example I use of course is the sun traveling across the sky. And right there I said it, and everyone went, “Yeah, okay”. But in fact, the sun isn’t what’s moving, it’s the earth that’s spinning on its axis, but it’s perfectly okay to be comfortable with the language and structure the language from the inside of the illusion as if the false idea is true. And so we have words like sunset, sunrise, and I’m not going to jump up and down and insist, “You can’t use that word because it’s not true”. It’s like we all know what it means. And so I think it’s equally valid when it comes to understanding this illusion of the world, that it’s perfectly fine to speak from the framework of the illusion and say, “Hey Rick, how was your bike ride today?” And you don’t have to go, “I am the unborn awareness, I can go nowhere”. I mean, that’s a dysfunctional response.

Rick: Sure.

Thomas: You know that’s not what I’m asking, and most of the time we can tell the difference between the you of the normal ordinary world, the personal self, and the you, this absolute amazing source of awareness, who you truly are.

Rick: And I wasn’t part of this scene, but apparently there were people who kind of spun out of the Papaji scene who actually talked that way. You know, you’d ask them to pass the salt, and they would say, “Who is it that wants the salt?” and “Is there really any salt?” and things like that, which probably got pretty old pretty quick.

Thomas: Yeah, if I would have run into a group like that I just wouldn’t have hung around. Like I said, I had trouble hanging around the Buddhists because I just didn’t understand the language. It’s not that I don’t resonate with some of these really really beautiful ideas. I mean, one of them is this idea of being the spiritual friend. There’s a Buddhist term for it, maybe you know it.

Rick: Mithya?

Thomas: I think it’s

Rick: No that’s the one I just used.

Thomas: a two-word phrase. But this is Timothy. Timothy is your spiritual friend. I mean, he’s here to just share these ideas and listen to where you are, where your head is at, where your heart is at. And it’s such a beautiful expression. And I want everyone to know how much I greatly appreciate being able to be with such a beautiful teacher who is so helpful in this way.

Rick: Yeah. Several threads in this conversation that I want to follow up on. Here’s what comes to mind at the moment. So, you mentioned, you told the Tookey Williams experience, which was a huge catharsis for you and a big breakthrough, and things were probably never the same since in some respect. You said, like, probably Timothy goes into Samadhi, but you don’t have that experience.

Thomas: Yeah, that’s true.

Rick: So a couple questions to come out of this – is going into Samadhi any kind of criterion of awakening? And do you consider yourself to have awakened, and was that Tookey Williams experience the kind of the watershed moment for you? And do you consider there to be stages of awakening, and might that have been a sort of a heart awakening, like heart chakra opened up, but there are other stages yet to unfold?

Thomas: Yeah. I asked Timothy a lot of questions about this, and one thing he did say was, “For full enlightenment, Samadhi is necessary, but some people that go into Samadhi don’t really understand it. They don’t have the context, and they just don’t get that they are this pure open awareness”. So sometimes people will go into Samadhi, or other – what’s the word I’m looking for – yogic-type talents and they make themselves special and put themselves up because they can do this special thing and other people don’t do it, or it’s not as common. But I haven’t had the experience of Samadhi, which I think is better phrased as the only experience that’s not an experience, because it’s the dissolution of personal consciousness. And so yes, there will be more awakenings for me, and I do think that there are many steps up. And we’ll get into the definition of enlightenment in a little bit, I’m sure, but the first one is this waking up to your true self. And it isn’t just one awakening, it’s a sequence of awakening, but they do appear to be jumps, whereas other processes of enlightenment are more gradual polishing and cultivation kind of thing. So I certainly don’t consider myself fully enlightened, but I have a very strong intuitive understanding that I am open source awareness and that everyone is this. In fact, let’s make it a little bit clearer about that. I think this understanding of who you are as awareness comes through three steps, and it may happen simultaneously. And there may be even other steps to more complete awakenings of enlightenment. But the first understanding, intuitive understanding, is when you go, “I’m not my body and I’m not my soul”. I’m talking about the first awakening to the understanding that you are awareness. You go, “I am pure awareness. I have no thing-like qualities. I am the capacity to perceive”. When I use the word awareness, I’m just talking about the capacity to perceive. And then the next step is to go, “Ah, the awareness that’s looking out of my eyes is the same awareness that’s looking out of everyone’s eyes”. So it isn’t my awareness, it’s the one awareness, this awareness. So that’s the second. And the third is, “Ah, this awareness is the source of everything that it’s aware of”. So that’s the third. And these are all intuitive understandings. And as you know, science deals with observation and logic, and they do a good job on the topics that they’re well-suited for. This deep, mystical, non-dual understanding comes from observation, logic, plus intuition. And this intuition is sourced in this pure awareness, who you are. And because this is who you are, you know it by being it. You don’t know it by studying an object. You will never find God or an aspect or a phenomenon that there is the source or there is God.

Rick: You can’t stand apart from it and experience it because you are it.

Thomas: You are it, and it is completely imperceivable. You could not stand in front of a mirror. Somebody joked at satsang a couple of months ago, “God cannot take a selfie”. (Laughter)

Rick: That’s funny.

Thomas: But yes, it’s not something that has any aspects that can be perceived.

Rick: Yeah. As you were saying that, I was thinking that I often criticize people, I guess I should say it this way, who apparently mistake an intellectual understanding for actual realization. But in all fairness, I don’t know if you can actually gain an intellectual understanding of what you just said without having an intuitive experience of it to some degree, because it’s just going to sound like gobbledygook without some kind of intuitive.

Thomas: Yes, exactly.

Rick: So, I kind of refute to some extent that thing I’ve said so many times about mistaking intellectual understanding for actual realization, because you really have to some degree of realization if that understanding makes sense to you at all. You’ve already got an experiential or rather intuitive feel for it. Now the question is, how clear can that experience or that intuition become? You know, is a vague sort of aroma of it sufficient, or can it be like totally crystal clear that you’re really immersed in 24/7? I think there’s that realm of possibility.

Thomas: Yeah, I think they refer to it as Sahaja Samadhi.

Rick: Yeah, there are different names for Samadhi. There are all these different Samadhis, Nitya Samadhi and Sahaja Samadhi, and all these different things if you read Patanjali, right?

Thomas: Yeah. So, there was a lot in what you said and I don’t know if I want to unpack it. Was there something there?

Rick: That’s okay. We can just keep on keeping on. But one point that fascinates me, and I think I might like to have a conversation with Timothy about this in the relatively near future, is what do we really mean by enlightenment? What are the possibilities? Because there are so many people that have some kind of awakening which is obviously genuine and profound for them.

Thomas: Absolutely.

Rick: And sometimes they jump to the conclusion that they’re done, and that this is it, and that there’s nothing more. And they start telling other people, “Hey, you realize what I just realized and you’re done too”. And I take exception to that because I think that the realm of possibilities is really vast. And I think it would be interesting for us as a spiritual culture to have a much clearer road map of what the realm of possibilities is, and what things are contained within the territory, and what things that might seem relevant to enlightenment might not actually be important in the territory and we might want to just pass them by. But I think there are cultures who have had this to a great extent, the Eastern cultures, but the language needs to kind of be translated into our contemporary culture, and I think that’s very much a work in progress.

Thomas: Yes, I certainly see myself as… God, the grace of God is working on Thomas and everyone, and we’re works in progress. When it comes to awakening and whether awakening, and whether there’s only one awakening, Timothy one time said, “Is awakening full enlightenment? No way, Jose”. I think he said it that way. And then there are many steps up, there are deepening, and even he himself said, I think this goes back about 25 or 30 years, that he had been giving some satsangs, perhaps not so regularly, and he stopped just to let things deepen a little bit more, because he woke up – he’s about my age – and he woke up when he was 16, just all of a sudden, this is all God, God is doing everything and he had no meditation practice, no spiritual teacher, no nothing, and for most of it’s going to be a little bit different than that. But the other thing is the fruits of enlightenment will come forth more and more as the enlightenment becomes deeper and deeper. And we’ve kind of touched on all of this, but let’s just go ahead and put the definition of enlightenment on the table.

Rick: I’ve got it right in front of me here, I think you said, “Being awake to true self, liberation from selfish desires and tendencies, which might take many lifetimes, and gentle passion, no desperation, humility”.

Thomas: Yeah, Timothy often talks about how the path… whenever he finds a seeker that has these two qualities, sincerity and curiosity, he says, “Curiosity transforms into wisdom, and sincerity transforms into love”. And so now you have the wisdom that shows you that you are, that you can disidentify from the world, and yet you have this love and this open compassion and kindness that engages you in the world. So you’re engaged in the world, but you’re not entangled in the world.

Rick: There’s a Nisargadatta quote here you could give us.

Thomas: Yeah. Go ahead.

Rick: No, you know. What is it?

Thomas: It’s something about wisdom. There’s something about “wisdom says, I am nothing, love says, I am everything, my life is the balance of the two”. And this is so beautiful because, again, enlightenment, this non-dual wisdom unfolding in all its stages is so practical, and one of the things that it brings forward is a very loving person that’s going to engage in the world. And we all engage along the lines of our own wholesome inspiration. And I use that word “wholesome”. Some people joke about Buddhism, and I think it’s a funny joke. I mean, feel free to laugh. People say, “Buddhists desire to be free from desires”. And most people don’t know what Buddhists are, and so they laugh at that, and it’s funny. But what is really being put on the table here is a wholesome desire to be free from selfish desires. And so this has to do with your motivating factors. If you’re motivated through fear and ideas of separateness, and “I need this”, and “Boy, I better make it happen this way”, and “I’m more important than that person”, letting go of those motivating factors, opening up to this more cooperative attitude that comes down from your higher self, if you want to put it that way, the person being one self, the regular self, the higher self being the soul. And of course, I say that both of those are not really a self, because they’re not autonomous. You only have this one open source awareness.

Rick: Yeah. What would you say to somebody… In October I’m going to have a conversation with Adyashanti and Susanna Marie about the sense, the falling away of the sense of personal self. And Adyashanti did a whole course about that, and Susanne Marie talks about it a lot too, because that has been her experience recently. And I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, because I don’t see how it’s possible to function without a sense of personal self. And if I were to say to one of them, “Hey, Adyashanti”, he would turn his head.

Thomas: Of course.

Rick: So it seems to me that there’s some kernel at least of a personal self that is functioning there. If he bangs his shin on the coffee table, the pain is felt there, not by some guy in China or something. But yet… there’s another guy I’m going to be interviewing in a few weeks named Atreya Thomas, and I notice he’s written about this rather deeply. We’ll be getting into it more with him. But what do you have to say about that?

Thomas: Well, the person is a construction, and one of the finest points of the person is that sense that this is me, and I’m using the lowercase m, me. This is me. I am a separate, mortal, sentient being. And that sense that it’s you is just a viewpoint, just a perspective, and it’s functional. And so some of the words that get used sometimes are ego, and when people use this word ego, they almost always are pointing to some type of selfishness – he’s being egotistical. So the ego is sometimes seen as that part of you which is 100% selfish and blah, blah, blah. Well, there’s an – and that’s fine to talk about selfishness and being desirous of purifying and removing these selfish tendencies. But when your selfish tendencies are completely flushed out of your personal consciousness, you will still have a functional sense of who you are as a person in the world. And somebody once said something about “How much ego should you have? Well, just enough so you don’t get hit by a bus”. It’s to be functional. You can’t drive your car home without a sense of who you are as a person and how you fit into the world. But to have a sense of that as a person is different than understanding it as your fundamental identity. Your fundamental identity is this open source awareness that is nothing like a person. And yet the person does exist and it operates in the world as an instrument. And so this sense of self allows the apparent interaction between us. It creates the “we” so that there can be the sharing of this one love. So that’s something about that. Adyashanti, I’m only a tiny bit familiar, surprisingly perhaps to some people, is I’ve never read any non-dual books and I’ve hardly listened to any other non-dual teachers whatsoever. Timothy has a book, I haven’t read it. All I’ve done is go to Timothy’s every week. Oh, and here’s what I did do. I started to record some of them and I started to listen to them over and over. I had about two months and I just kept listening and listening and listening. And there’s about a year’s worth of satsangs available on both my website and Timothy’s website, if you guys want to grab the audio.

Rick: His satsangs, you mean?

Thomas: These are his satsangs, I’m speaking.

Rick: Right.

Thomas: So I’ve also created a few excerpts and highlights and stuff like that. And he’s got a section where he was talking about the Upanishads. So if audio is something that works for you, that’s available to you. And so that’s what I was doing. I don’t drive very much, but when I drove I always listened to Timothy. And I would just listen and think and listen and think. And so…

Rick: Yeah, I do that too.

Thomas: That was very helpful for me.

Rick: Audio. Yeah, so I’d say that we’ll table that point, but it’s something yet to be totally resolved in my understanding. Because I do talk to people who say, “Any sense of a personal self has completely fallen away”. But from my perspective on them, it seems like they have one. And I respect their experience. I can’t refute anybody else’s experience. So I’m just trying to come to terms with it a little bit better. There is a term in Sanskrit, an advaita that sort of helps, which is “leshavidyā”, which means “faint remains of ignorance”. And it’s said that you have to have that in order to function as a human being.

Thomas: Oh,I see what it is.

Rick: It’s a little bit derogatory, but it would sort of mean that the sense of personal self is ignorance, because ultimately there isn’t one, but you have to have some faint remains of it at least in order not to step in front of buses or in order to know where your mouth is.

Thomas: Exactly. And that’s what I mean when you function in the world and you’re in this illusion. If you were to talk about the sun traveling across the sky, it’s perfectly fine to talk about that, even though it’s not the truth. We know it’s not the truth. So the one thing I would like to say is that if a person feels comfortable having that as a goal, to have this dissolve completely, I’m okay with that. I feel like that’s their path, but that was not my goal. I didn’t have that understanding that I should have that as a goal. I was just pondering. I used the three-step method that Timothy gave us, which is an ancient method – he certainly didn’t create it. The idea of hearing the truth, pondering the truth, and meditating on the truth. So I spent a lot of time listening to Timothy, pondering, that’s what we’re doing, lots of different ideas, what about this? Does it look like this from that angle? There’s a lot of thoughts, there’s a lot going on. And then the meditating, where there aren’t so many thoughts, maybe just one. What does it mean to be pure awareness? Who am I as pure awareness? Meditating on that. So that’s the ancient three-step method. And of course you don’t just complete it one, two, three, and done. You do each step as many times as it comes up. So my focus was much more on just stepping back into this open awareness rather than thinking of dissolving something that’s a part of who I would normally identify as me. You see what I mean? It’s stepping back.

Rick: Yeah, and it almost seems funny, contradictory to say, “Well, I have this goal, I want this”. Because who are we to say exactly how it’s supposed to turn out? I think perhaps a more healthy attitude would be, “Okay God, make of me what you will”.

Thomas: Exactly.

Rick: Develop my experience as it is meant to be experienced, ultimately. Who am I to say exactly how it’s supposed to look 20 years from now? You know best, go ahead and work me over.

Thomas: I hear you loud and clear, and that’s acceptance, of course. When I use the word “goal”, I like to put it on the table as just a guiding thought, not some kind of absolute top of the mountain.

Rick: Not so specific, perhaps.

Thomas: Exactly. And it may have, as it gets closer and closer into time, like I had a goal of coming here today and talking to you, and I had a desire, a wholesome desire, that the technology would work and that we would have a nice conversation. And so it’s just a guiding thought, and then it will be let go because that time will pass, and then there will be another wholesome inspiration to pursue something else.

Rick: Yeah, I interviewed Suzanne Giesemann a few weeks ago, and she quoted somebody as saying, “Convert your demands into preferences”.

Thomas: Oh yeah.

Rick: I like that.

Thomas: The first time I heard that, oh go ahead.

Rick: Yeah, well basically it says it right there.

Thomas: Yeah, I heard that, I read a book called “The Handbook to Higher Consciousness”. Did you happen to read that book?

Rick: Who’s that by?

Thomas: Kees or Keesie?

Rick: That might be the person she was quoting actually.

Thomas: Something like that.

Rick: I think that was the person she was quoting when she said that, yeah.

Thomas: And that book was a bit of a hit, and I read it and in there was the distinction between being unhappy when you don’t get something you want and just making an adjustment when you don’t get something you prefer.

Rick: Yeah. And that actually segues us into something you talked about quite a lot in your book, the whole thing of like the secret and wanting to fulfill your desires and all that. Perhaps we should talk about that a little bit.

Thomas: Yeah, it really surprised me that I wrote so much about that. The two biggest chapters in the book are the chapter about this and what I call the Satsang chapter, which we’ve been talking about, this understanding of who you are. So I started reading the Seth books in 1980. You create your own reality. What does that really mean, you know? And of course, Buddha, with your thoughts you create the world. Is there something to this, you know? And I think there is. Now, let me quickly say that the idea, the world’s simplest philosophy, which I don’t adhere to, seems to be, “I will be happy when I get what I want, and here’s how to get what I want”. So if that philosophy is being strengthened by using some kind of secret, it won’t really liberate you. It’ll simply entrench you. I heard a teacher many years ago saying something like, “The only prayer is the prayer for liberation. To pray for anything else, it will only bind you further”. You know? So, is there something to this? Is there something to the secret? And I think they put something on the table very clearly, “Ask, believe, and receive”. And it’s very outer-oriented, very thing-oriented. Now, some of this is not presented this way, which is one reason why I put Bashar in the book, because he talks about getting what you need, not getting what you want. And it’s not about you going out and getting it, it’s just being open for it so that it comes.

Rick: Mick Jagger talks about that too, as you may recall the song. “You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need”.

Thomas: Exactly, yes. This is really a nice posture, because you have this comfort of, “Ah, I’m being taken care of by God”, and yet you’re alert to your wholesome inspirations. “Ah, I think I should engage in this. Ah, I think I should not engage in anything right now, be more passive”. So you have this flow that you go with, or as I like to say, you glow with the flow. You glow with this love and peace and joy that comes from just flowing along and not pushing back or pulling – you know, “I want this”, or “I don’t want that”. There’s just this flow. Now, as far as that phrase, “glowing with the flow”, that came from someone else I heard in the ’80s at a channeling thing. So some of these phrases are actually mine, but, and it doesn’t matter. The core truth is this ancient truth. Nothing that I put on the table of substance is my own, “Oh, we’re going to do it the Thomas Razzeto way”. No, it’s not that at all. I mean, you are this reality, you’ve always been this reality, this is the reality that does the teaching.

Rick: So with regard to this thing of desiring and getting things, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi often used to say, “First deserve, then desire”. Make your priority be increasing your deserving ability, and then the thing, desiring, kind of comes second. It will be taken care of if deserving is there. There’s actually a story that comes to mind in the Vedas where Brahma, the creator, wanted to create creation. And he tried, but he couldn’t do it, and nothing was happening. And then this voice came which said, “Nivartatvam”, which meant “retire” or “transcend”. And so he retired, he went inward, and for, I don’t know, eons or something. And then having done that sufficiently, then creation was able to just come out effortlessly.

Thomas: Yeah, spontaneous. I mean, is the tree efforting, growing, you know? Does a baby growing in the womb, does the mother or the baby have to do something like, “Oh, today I’ve got to work on the liver”, you know? But you know there are things that are a little different than that. People often talk about growing your hair, the energy to digest your food. But it does seem like we get in our car and we go places and we do things. But to just see it all as just flowing along with the flow that God brings us. But I did want to say something real quick about this, the secret. I mean, something about the universe, in my opinion, is not a catalog that you order things from, you know? But there is a dynamic interaction between the personal consciousness, and I’m using this word “personal consciousness” and I’m equating that with soul. Soul, personal consciousness, the Sanskrit word “jiva”, and also perhaps viewpoint or window. And we can talk about that window analogy of being in the room later. But this soul has a certain collection of beliefs that are integrated into it. And this creates a certain vibratory state which can attract things. And so if someone is always in a grumbling mood, then, the things that come along, they’re going to kind of reflect that. In fact, everything that shows up is a reflection of that and can actually reflect a positive or a negative experience. If someone gets in a situation they may be surprised at, suppose they lose their job, you can open up and give positive energy. “I wonder what’s going to happen. I wonder what’s going to come next”. You know, rather than, “Oh, no, I’m not going to be able to pay my bills”. So there’s a reflecting in the moment and you could use an affirmation that, “I always see the good in everything that arises for me”. And you can spin that just a little bit. “I always see God in everything that arises for me”. So this reduces the desire to push back or pull. And it also opens you up to the mystery of what’s going to happen, the surprises. If you always were this so called deliberate creator, there would never be any surprises and what would be the joy in that. But Timothy does talk about how on the astral plane there are some beings that are very skilled at creating what they want. And he says that they don’t find liberation because they don’t really know the truth of who they are. And they don’t really understand the gifts of letting go and just allowing that which comes. Maybe you have some other points on that?

Rick: I kind of do. In fact, I’m reminded of Hamlet, “To be or not to be, that is the question”. Whether to be nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take action against a sea of troubles and by opposing, end them. And I think I butchered that a little bit. But in my own life I kind of went through a balancing act for years between assertiveness and passivity, because there was a shifting sense that I was moving into the experience of God doing everything, nature running the show, and yet still there was plenty of individuality there which had its own drives and motivations. And so there’s this kind of balancing act between how much do I want to be assertive here and try to change things, or how much should I just let go and let God, to quote the bumper sticker. And I feel kind of like I’ve made a fair degree of transition in that regard, and there’s much more of the latter taking place, although there’s still individual assertiveness and stubbornness and what like that sometimes. But it’s an interesting metamorphosis people go through between feeling like “This is me and I’m in charge, damn it”.

Thomas: “And we’re doing it my way”.

Rick: Yeah. And like just really being kind of like an instrument of the divine. And it’s not like you wake up one morning and you’ve made the transition. There can be years and years and years of transitionary phases.

Thomas: Yes, and I think in every specific instance it can be helpful to tune into your own intuition, to ask yourself, “How active should I engage right now?” And even if you engage in something, say there’s someone that’s doing something that is inappropriate or harmful for others, you can perhaps engage in that, preventing them from doing any further harm, with still love in your heart for this person. And that person may even have to go to jail, but not to be punished, just to help them learn who they are and how they can come to a greater understanding of who they are as a kind person. So, for example, if somebody is walking down the street at night by themselves, and somebody jumps out of the bushes and grabs them and is going to do bad things, and it just happens to be that there’s a police officer driving by, and he jumps out and runs up, should he say, “We are all one. Everything is God”, or should he grab that guy and get him off that person?

Rick: Yeah, I mean, ultimately it’s God grabbing God and getting him off of God, and all are playing their appropriate roles. And so, if the police officer had that perspective, it shouldn’t diminish the enthusiasm or the zeal with which he intervenes and tries to change the situation, because we’re all… I mean, the Gita comes to mind. There was a point at which Arjuna was saying, “I’m just going to sit down here in the chariot, and I can’t fight this fight. It’s better to live on alms in this world than to engage in this battle”. And Lord Krishna says, “Hey, I’m doing it all anyway, so just play your role, and it’s already done, basically. So take a very assertive role in this situation, don’t just be passive”. And yet he said, “But first get yourself established in union, established in yoga, then perform action, then you’ll sort of do it in tune with Divine Intelligence, not out of individual ego or anger or any such limiting thing”.

Thomas: That’s very well put, because you will see this person as a unique expression of the Divine. They are in substance this one source awareness.

Rick: Yeah. Good. Okay. So, I have a lot of notes here from you, and I’m just going to glance at them for a second. In the meanwhile, you just pipe up if you have anything that you’d like to jump out with. I’m sure if we settle in for a second, thoughts will come to mind. But I want to make sure that we’re covering some of the more significant points in your book. Well, I mean, here’s the thing. We’ve kind of addressed this, but… Well, first, a nice wrap-up point from what we just said, and then I’ll go on to the next thing. I quoted you – I’ve got a quote from your book here, “On a practical level, engage in your life as best you can while holding the intuitive wisdom that the Divine is doing everything”. That’s what we were just saying.

Thomas: Yeah, exactly. And along these lines, I’d actually like to point to the Serenity Prayer. And of course, everyone has heard this, but I’d still like to put it on the table. “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the wisdom..”. Did I say that wrong?

Rick: No, “to accept the things I cannot change, to change the things I can”, right? “And then the wisdom to know the difference”.

Thomas: Thank you. And some people might be surprised going, “My gosh, a non-dual teacher is teaching a prayer that’s based in duality”. And again, this goes back to what I was saying, it’s perfectly fine to use a language that’s structured in the framework of our illusion. In other words, I know that it is God who is speaking through the person saying this prayer. And this person is asking for God to come and help and polish this personal self up. So I think it’s perfectly fine to ask it. Timothy also sometimes says something like, “Prayers allow God to lift us up”. And it’s God opening up the people that are praying and lifting them up. So you don’t see yourself as the one doing this.

Rick: I think if you’re praying in the right spirit it’s not, “Hey God, give me this”, it’s more like, “Let thy will be done”, and sort of a more submissive or surrendered kind of attitude.

Thomas: Yeah, and I have another affirmation that goes something like, “I always resonate with well-being on every level”. So it’s along these lines, going along with this flow.

Rick: Yeah, well, if non-dual teachers – let’s say the most famous and significant ones, Shankara and Nisargadatta and Ramana and many others, Annamalai Swami – if they all just dismissed the world as either illusion or it’s all one and why bother doing anything, then why would they have gone to so much effort to teach people? I mean, what people? There’s nobody to teach. Shankara marched all over India setting up these different centers of learning and training disciples and writing books and commenting on scriptures and so on. And they all… some teachers like Amma for instance, does something almost superhuman on a daily basis to uplift people. She’s not saying there are no people, and yet she has that non-dual vision. In fact, there’s some story I think I’ve told this before where she has all these projects going on, hospitals and schools and orphanages and all this kind of stuff. And one of her swamis came to her and said, “What more can we do to help the world?” And she said, “What world?” So she’s got that, the “what world” part is clear. But in the very same breath, people like that spend every ounce of their energy consoling and helping and uplifting and trying to remove suffering from a world which they know ultimately is unreal, but they’re comfortable with sort of the multi-leveled reality of things and can operate on all levels simultaneously.

Thomas: Yeah, exactly.

Rick: In fact, they run through that three-point thing that Timothy does, there’s three levels. That’s kind of cool.

Thomas: Yeah, on the practical level, the ordinary reality that we seem to experience with the guy over here and a guy over there and me doing this and me doing that, we have a functional understanding and in here we see justice and injustice. And we work for justice. We see all kinds of atrocities and we work for those to be removed, eliminated. We see people that have broken hearts that need to be loved and held. And so we engage in this from the framework and the morality that most of us would understand as quite common sense. And this is what he calls Level 3. And this is respected by the non-dual sage because it’s experientially true, it’s experientially real. And so we engage in it and also we know that everything that’s there is in substance God. To say that this is all an illusion and therefore doesn’t matter is to say that God doesn’t matter. Because this illusion is structured out of God, permeated with God. How could God not matter? Now on the next higher level, which ruffles some people’s feathers, we see everything that’s going on as the perfect reflection of God’s love. And there’s nothing wrong with it. And similar to saying, “What world?” we say, “The world is not broken. You don’t need to go anywhere and fix anything. God is taking care of everything”.

Rick: And that ruffles feathers because of all the horrible atrocities that have taken place.

Thomas: Exactly.

Rick: How can you say that God is doing that or that that’s God?

Thomas: How could you be so cold and heartless and we need to fix this and you can sit on your little chair and meditate all day, but that’s not helping that guy over there who has…

Rick: Yeah, but of course then you can take him back to Level 3, which is, “Yeah, we do need to fix this. We didn’t say you didn’t need to fix this. We’re just saying that this in its essence is the Divine playing all of its various roles”.

Thomas: Yeah, and these are all the dynamic interactions between the souls, the karmas, the souls that have all these beliefs that are integrated into them. And these beliefs are dynamic because you can look at your beliefs and you can change them and integrate new ones in there. And then your soul will be resonating with different souls and different people will get together and interact in new ways. So while there may be trouble afar, the real question is what’s happening where the rubber meets the road where you are? Is there something you can do right here right now to help the world be a better place? And sometimes it’s simply loving yourself and bringing your own personal experience into a higher vibration, one of, “Oh, I don’t have to complain about my life all the time. I don’t have to worry. I’m going to stop worrying as much as I can”, and you can make progress. And this increases your enjoyment of life. So, but let’s get back to those three levels.

Rick: Yeah, I just want to make a comment on Level 2. Or do you want to say something first?

Thomas: Yes, go ahead.

Rick: I just want to say, if God is somehow absent from the horrific things that go on in the world, if He has somehow vacated those premises, then number one, He’s not omnipresent anymore, and number two, He’s not omnipotent anymore. And maybe He’s not omniscient either because how could He know about those things and not want to somehow be involved or something? But I would say that if we took a really close look, we would, let’s say at the molecular level or the subatomic level, in the midst of a horrible situation, whoa, there’s that divine intelligence orchestrating all the molecules and the atoms and the cells and the bodies of the guards at Auschwitz. And there’s that infinite intelligence orchestrating every phenomenon on every level. So, indeed, God is there. Okay, now you take it.

Thomas: Well, I mean, it’s one of the points that atheists will make. I simply am not going to believe in God because look at all these atrocities. If God really was all-knowing and all-loving and all-powerful, He would stop this, right?

Rick: Right, otherwise He would run the universe on my terms.

Thomas: Yeah, exactly. It would be different. And therefore, it’s… yeah. So, I mean, you hit on it really well, but the thing is, from that box, from being inside that box, you will have to come to that conclusion. And you don’t have to stay in the box. What if, what if this invisible source awareness is actually playing all the roles? What if this source awareness is the only one that experiences anything? The personal self, the personal consciousness does not experience anything. It just offers this experience to the one experiencer. And there’s an ancient… well, actually, it’s not that ancient. I was going to say the Indians used the metaphor of the movie screen. The white movie screen is always the white movie screen, no matter what is playing, whether it’s a love story or a comedy or a tragedy or whatever. There’s this open reception, open receptivity to this, but it doesn’t change it. And so, yes, it’s just God. God is showing up as everyOne and God is doing everything. And I like to spell everyOne with a capital O in the middle. And so in this we have the perfection of the world and the world is dynamic. It’s always changing. We don’t know what’s going to come. We don’t know what’s around the corner. We could shift into world peace tomorrow, today, now.

Rick: Yeah, and just to keep going on this little point, maybe we should say Shakespeare shouldn’t have written tragedies. We only want the comedies.

Thomas: Exactly right.

Rick: But people find the tragedies very entertaining. I mean, so if this is all God and somehow the Leela of the universe is God’s play, then is he going to restrict himself to just comedies, just butterflies and bunnies? Or are there also going to be the difficult situations? And if the universe is… if you have to have a relative creation, it always seems to me, then you have to have pairs of opposites and everything has to have its opposite. You have to have the full range of all things, from hot to cold, to fast to slow, to good to bad, to suffering to joy. There’s just going to be the whole panoply, the whole phantasmagoria of situations. And in this vast universe, every second there are probably inhabited planets being blown to smithereens by asteroids. And then there are heavenly realms, which are just unimaginably blissful and wonderful. And just vastly beyond our comprehension, the whole show goes on.

Thomas: Yeah, exactly. If you want to show the quality of courage, you need danger to be there for it to play against. If you want a lifeguard at the beach, you need big waves and a riptide. You need some apparent tragedy right around the corner so the lifeguard can go in there and save the person. So, all of these things are brought forward. And as far as…

Rick: Yeah, right here. Speak to the idea of challenging situations being opportunities for growth.

Thomas: Oh, if you have prepared the way by thinking about this ahead of time, you might be able to pull it in when a difficult experience happens. If a difficult experience is happening to someone else, it is probably inappropriate at that moment for me to show up and say, “Boy, aren’t you lucky I’m here because I’m going to give you the key to release your suffering”. It’s like I’m the answer guy. No, it’s to have that shoulder to cry on and if they happen to be open to a little less pushback and letting those tears flow through if that’s the type of challenging situation, it’s like, “Oh, this isn’t really hurting me. I can just let this sadness wave. Oh man, just wave through”. But there are many different kinds of tragic or challenging situations and you might be referring to something such as divorces or things like that.

Rick: Well, all kinds of things, even worse things than that. And I get emails quite often from people who are posing these philosophical questions and wrestling with how there can be so much suffering in the world if there is a God. But if we kind of step back and think of the universe as this sort of vast evolution machine where souls are evolving to more and more profound abilities to express the Divine or to be conduits of the Divine, then perhaps we can see it from the perspective of all experiences in the big picture, even though it’s not going to seem like that in the small picture. But in the big picture, all experiences being ultimately conducive to our full enlightenment and full ability to express Divinity through our individuality.

Thomas: Exactly. Timothy says, “It takes all experiences to polish up the soul, even the experiences of misfortune, to polish up the soul to enlightenment”.

Rick: Yeah. And I have interviewed people, well Susanne Marie is another case in point, I mentioned her earlier, who had tragic circumstances in life that triggered major awakenings.

Thomas: Exactly.

Rick: In her case, her brother died and it was a huge shock, but it precipitated a huge shift for her.

Thomas: And a little bit along these lines is if you practice trying to find good things about everything, then when the bigger one comes, you might think, “Oh, I’m going to try and find something in that”. And so along these lines I have a short chapter in the book about the book “Pollyanna” that was written in 1913. And it’s just this beautiful 11-year-old girl who’s going around and telling these people that are very stubborn and stuck, “My life is bad, I can’t change this, this is why my life is bad, you have to agree, right? You can see it’s right there, it’s not going to go away”. And she’s so compassionate and she lives by example and they slowly learn that they can go, “What about this? Can I find a little bit of something that’s good about that?” And they call it the Glad game. And again, the book was published in 1913 and it became a big sensation and they made board Game out of it and the Glad game and “Pollyanna”, but it was misunderstood. And so people took the phrase or the name “Pollyanna” and turned it into like a negative, “Oh, you’re just a Pollyanna, you’re just living in a dream world, you’re not being realistic”. But she really did find good things of something and it can be helpful and that’s why people like it. And so to this point, I mean, when my father passed away and we had the memorial mass, I mean, it was a beautiful experience and my sister arranged all the singing and the singing was just so beautiful and when they started, when the instruments started to play, it was very beautiful. But when those vocalists hit that first note and my sister sitting right behind me, singing full voice because she would normally be in the front, boy, I just started to cry. Everybody in the church knows me, 200 people in this packed church. And it was just such a beautiful and profound experience and it’s not like, “Oh, I’m crying, I have to stop, it’s bad to cry”. It’s just like, “Wow, how profound is this? What a beautiful gift”. My father was a beautiful gift and I want to dedicate our interview to my father.

Rick: Nice. I think that the world would be a better place if we could all cry a little bit more easily, readily.

Thomas: I think so too. And when someone’s crying, you just put your arm around them. And I prefer not to say, “It’s going to be okay”, because in their mind it might not be okay. But just put your arm around them and say, “They’re there”.

Rick: Yeah.

Thomas: They’re there.

Rick: We’re all so bottled up to one degree or another. And if we really were to feel everything that’s bottled up, we’d all be sobbing for a while. And we would be purged of a lot of that stuff that’s bottled up through that sobbing. And nature has its safeguards and the heart has its shell that forms through the lifelong impact of various experiences. But I think in a way, enlightenment or rising toward it is a thinning of that shell and an eventual elimination of it. So everything is felt fully, but the heart is so vast and full that it becomes like, when experiences come, it’s like dropping handfuls of mud into an ocean rather than dropping handfuls of mud into a glass of water. The ocean can accommodate and dissolve those handfuls.

Thomas: Exactly.

Rick: But first we have to be, have to… It takes some work to get ocean-like.

Thomas: Yeah. Maybe you have another segue, but one point that I’d like to put on the table is the distinction between personal consciousness and awareness.

Rick: Yeah, I’d like you to talk about that.

Thomas: This was quite enlightening to me when Timothy started to use this phrase – well, he’s been using it forever – when I first heard it. And he makes a distinction between awareness, which is the only thing that is not a thing, and it’s the only thing that is sentient, and personal consciousness. Personal consciousness is more like a window through which the one awareness looks. And because they work together, they’re often identified as the same thing by science and researchers and spiritual seekers. But when you open them up into the one awareness, and we use this word “one” not because there is one and we counted it, but because it’s always whole. It doesn’t branch out like a tree might branch out. And it doesn’t break into pieces, either connected or disconnected pieces. This one awareness that’s looking out of your eyes right now is this, what I’m talking about, this open source awareness. This is the only thing that experiences. And yet, from this has flowed many personal consciousnesses. Each person has their own personal consciousness. This is why when you take a bite of food, you taste it, but I will not. You can see your thoughts, but I cannot. You can remember your memories, but I cannot. And so, if we use this analogy of the room, imagine you are this one awareness, and you’re in a big room with a bunch of windows that look out into the world. When you look through the first window, you see what they see, hear what they hear, think what they think, and have all the experiences of that person. And yet, when you look through the other window, the next window, you have all the experiences of that person, and so forth for all the windows. If there was just one big, giant window, all these sensations would just flood on top of each other, and it would be just a big, giant mess. So, in this way, it can be described, but not explained, how the one comes forth as what appears to be the many. There are many personal consciousnesses, but they are not really selves, they’re not autonomous. And what does a window see? A window doesn’t see anything. A window can never learn to see anything. A window merely presents to the person viewing the objects that are in the scope of that window. So, your personal consciousness, your soul, your jiva, is permeating your body right now, because you’re awake in the world right now, you’re not asleep. So, that’s why you have this sensation of touch that goes throughout your entire body, because your personal consciousness, the doors of perception, it’s been said, right? And I’m not just talking about the five physical senses, but all senses, the ability to see a thought, the ability to perceive your intuition, to feel a feeling. So, your personal consciousness is permeating your body, which is like another window into the world. So, when these two windows line up, the experience of being in the world as a person, with the sensation of being a separate person, is presented to this one awareness. And at night, when the body goes to sleep, this personal consciousness can permeate the dream world, I’m sorry, permeate the dream body and experience things in the dream world. And at night, the personal consciousness can completely disappear, dissolve. And that’s the same as Samadhi, but Samadhi is a conscious experience of that, rather than a process when the body is asleep.

Rick: Yeah, and a couple of things there. One is that when we have sufficiently woken up to our true identity as pure, what do you call it, pure source awareness?

Thomas: I like to call it, yes, I like to use those two words together – source, because that shows us the creative aspect of it, and awareness, because that shows its capacity. You are this open capacity for experience, this open source awareness.

Rick: And so when one is sufficiently woken up to one’s essential nature as that, then even when the personal consciousness goes into deep sleep, that source awareness remains awake.

Thomas: Oh, absolutely.

Rick: That’s what they call witnessing sleep. I have a file on my computer with dozens and dozens of quotes from various sages about maintaining pure awareness during sleep. And another thing I just wanted to throw in here is that you’re talking about the window analogy, and when the physical body dies, then that particular window is shut, but there’s still the subtler body, which still has its window into a subtler realm. It’s just the physical body has no longer providing access to the gross realm, but the subtle body still has access to that realm. But still it’s the source awareness that is the seer.

Thomas: Yeah, exactly.

Rick: I guess one question I always wonder is, just as the physical bodies die and are reborn, does the subtle body ever cease to exist? When full enlightenment arises, for instance, does it just go kaput and never again, or does it still kind of continue to move to subtler and subtler realms, and still function in some capacity, like I was alluding to earlier? Because so many people I’ve talked to have had experiences of Ramana Maharshi or Neem Karoli Baba or Jesus Christ, or all these great beings who still seem to be doing something on some level.

Thomas: Well, I would say this. First of all, I’m no expert, but the personal consciousness dissolves every night when you fall asleep, and then is reconstructed when you wake up. That’s why you’re getting in your body.

Rick: But it’s kind of still there in seed form, it’s just sort of gone into like a flower folding its petals in at night and then coming out again when the sun shines.

Thomas: I think that’s a good way to put it, and also in formless trance state, Samadhi. And then when the body passes, then of course the soul is in the soul realm, and it can go through sudden shifts immediately, or it can be polished, or whatever, but it also can be available, perhaps reconstructed, it’s not like it’s always hanging out going, “God, I wonder when someone’s going to call me”, you know. But it can be constructed in such a way that someone will have an experience of these great souls that you mentioned. And also you know from your work that there are mediums that can get in touch with people that have passed away. So this is a great area where I think science could be more honest, because I really think that science can be used to study past lives, communication with spirits that have passed away, out-of-body experiences and near-death experiences. I don’t think science has done, in the mainstream, has done an honest job with that, but there have been some scientists that have written many good books about that, and some of them even give practical guidance on how to have your own out-of-body experience. And then you would be someone that has had a conscious experience and know from that experience that you are not just this body. And that can be really important. I haven’t had one of those.

Rick: Well it conflicts with their paradigm, that’s why science doesn’t want to deal with it, because it’s a materialistic paradigm.

Thomas: I hear you. Yeah.

Rick: I have this good friend named Alex Tsakiris who has a show called

Thomas: I think I saw him.

Rick: Yeah, he interviews people all the time who talk about these sorts of things, near-death, out-of-body, and so on. His favorite phrase, I even sent him a t-shirt that has this on, is that we are not biological robots in a meaningless universe.

Thomas: And you know you are alive, you know you are aware, you know you are not a biological robot. And I talk a little bit about it in my book about picking up a pencil. Who picked up the pencil? Well your true self is the source of what picks up that pencil. But there is an evaluation of your choices that are available and your decision to make. I’m going to pick up the pencil and picking it up. There is a puppet aspect to the person, but you are not the puppet. You are the puppet master, but the puppet master is invisible and is infused with the puppet. That’s why it looks like the puppet is self-animated or alive. It looks like it’s alive. And it’s also perfectly valid, in my opinion, to see this aliveness that you are emanating forth as the totality of creation permeating it with aliveness. So it’s also perfectly valid to see the entire creation as alive. It’s not the source of its own aliveness, but you can say that it’s alive in this way.

Rick: Yeah, and if we actually take a real close look at what we’re looking at when we look at the creation, we’ve covered this territory already, but what is it we’re looking at? I’m looking at my computer here, am I really looking at plastic? Alright, let’s look at the plastic more closely. What is it? Go to the molecular level, go to the atomic level, go to the subatomic level. Boom, we’re right down to pure non-material, something or other, unified field, which some scientists have tried to equate with pure consciousness, which we could ultimately equate with God. I like to think of it in terms of everything that we perceive is God having apparently taken form, but we’re just not looking closely enough, I don’t necessarily mean microscopically, but perhaps in terms of subtlety of perception, to see what it is that we’re actually perceiving. But there it is, and that’s all there is, and we’re just sort of this one unbounded ocean of consciousness moving within itself of divine intelligence interacting with itself, and we’re kind of a player in this fantastic adventure, an aspect of that.

Thomas: Yeah, and it remains a mystery at its core level, and I think that that’s beautiful, and we stand in awe of this mystery.

Rick: Yeah. A question came in for you from Dan in London. This gets back to your personal story. He wondered, “you mentioned you had a very loving upbringing. I think this shines through in your very gentle demeanor. Did you have any spiritual experiences in childhood, and do you think having a loving upbringing sets the scene for a spiritual awakening later in life?”

Thomas: Well, I think that that’s true, that it did do so for me, and I can’t speak for anyone else. And if I were to say, yes, it’s important to have a loving upbringing, then people that didn’t have that might go, “Oh, well, that door’s closed for me”. So I think it’s really important to look back on your past and ask the question, could this actually be perfect for me to unfold? What’s happened to me? Could that really be something that will allow me to see God in everything? So I definitely appreciate my family. I still appreciate my family, and I also want to dedicate this to my mom, too. But what I want to say about that is I sometimes use the analogy, “Oh, we can all be like a nice big family”, and in my mind, I’m thinking of this happy family that gets along, and other people must hear that and go, “Boy, you haven’t been to my family, we don’t get along”. So I really appreciate the fact that I have had such a caring and supportive family. They’re very Catholic. I’m a bit of a problem in that sense. It’s like, “Tom doesn’t go to church anymore, what are we going to do about that?”

Rick: He didn’t become a priest.

Thomas: Yeah, and we’ll pray for him. But my mother prays for me dearly, but she does embody the love of God, so that’s good.

Rick: So here’s a question that came from France, from somebody named A.C. in France, asking, “If life is just a play, maya, lila, in which there are good stories and bad stories, so as to make it more interesting, then why would we bother to make things better, such as protect the environment, be compassionate, etc.?” Good question.

Thomas: That’s hard to answer, but if it happens to arise for you a wholesome inspiration to make things better, and of course that’s measured on the level three of the ordinary world, it’s better to have peace than it is to have people fighting. Better in what sense? Who says? Well, from an absolute perspective, it isn’t better. But from our perspective of the world, it’s more comfortable. I mean, I make a funny little joke in the book about going to a restaurant and order breakfast, and you order some oatmeal, and the waiter brings it, and it’s not oatmeal, it’s sawdust. And you look up at the waiter and go, “Where’s my oatmeal?” And he says, “Everything is God, we’re all one, sawdust is oatmeal”. No, they’re different, and this is what the non-dual sage respects, the difference in experience. Hot and cold, good and evil, these are experience, they’re real as an experience, and they’re different. And you can have a preference towards one or the other. And there are other types of dualistic expressions in the world. It isn’t just this continuum between two polarities, because there’s gender and there’s also coins that come forward with their head and tail. And the world is also filled with many examples of things that are not dualistic. Multiplicity, who you are is unique. There is not a dualistic representation opposite of who you are. You and him and her and us – multiplicity, the world is filled with these multiplistic and dualistic expressions. How are we doing on time, Rick?

Rick: We’re doing okay, we’ll wrap it up in a couple minutes. I just wanted to add that if all the world is a stage, and all the men and women are merely players, then what sort of role do you want to play? If you feel like you’re going to gain maximum satisfaction out of being a murderer or something, then I guess that’s what you’re going to be attracted to. But if you feel like you have a choice, and I think most people would prefer if they had a choice, to play a role that is actually going to be gratifying in some meaningful, beneficial way, to bring some good into the world. Obviously not everybody makes that choice, and I guess whether or not we have choice is a whole other question. But addressing A.C.’s question here, personally it would make me more gratified to work toward some environmental solution than to be a polluter.

Thomas: Yeah, it seems to arise organically in your soul what you’re called to do, and if there is a calling to come forth as a helping hand, it can come forth selfishly, “I’m going to be the great helping hand and help little tiny you”, or “I’m here to help you”. And when you see it all as God, when you see everything is perfect, it doesn’t, “Oh, okay, I can stop now because everything is perfect”. There’s still a calling within you to come forward and engage, engage without being entangled.

Rick: Yeah, and there is blowback, I mean things do have their consequences, and it seems to me that it’s more blessed to give than to receive, etc. And if you are working for something that has a positive quality to it, in whatever way you’re helping stray animals or doing some kind of service, that it cultures your own life in such a way that’s very gratifying and brings you greater happiness, even though obviously if you’re doing it merely to gain greater happiness, that’s kind of a selfish perspective. But it’s sort of an outcome or a consequence of working that way.

Thomas: Let’s touch on that.

Rick: Yeah.

Thomas: Being happy is not necessarily a selfish thing, it can be self-love and it’s important to make a distinction between being selfish, which is, “I get it, you don’t, get away”, and there’s an attitude of disrespect for others. But if you go get a massage, it can be a very loving thing to give yourself. So it’s important to be open to the self-love, and a happy person most of the time is much more of a loving person, right? It’s much easier to open your heart up to others, and so I think that’s really important.

Rick: Yeah, and there’s a whole interesting section in your book about social issues and social justice and economic equity, and things like that, which we don’t really have time to go into at great length, but it seems to me that those who promote such things… (dog barks) We’ve got dog issues today here.

Thomas: That’s alright.

Rick: Those who work for social justice, the Martin Luther Kings and the Gandhis and so on of this world, that arises from or springs from – and we might even mention the Bernie Sanders of this world – it arises from an impulse of higher consciousness than those who are saying, “Me, me, me, what more can I get, and to heck with all of you”.

Thomas: Because it’s oriented towards cooperation rather than competition, that’s the core difference, you know.

Rick: Yeah. Alrighty. Well, that might be it. There’s no ideal end point for this conversation?

Thomas: Oh, I’ve got a good end point.

Rick: Good end point. Okay, go for it.

Thomas: I love that expression, “We are all one”, and it speaks from two perspectives, so I’d like to open it up a little bit. I’d like to say, “In form, we are many. In essence, we are one”.

Rick: That’s great. Let’s leave it at that.

Thomas: Thank you so much for having me on, Rick. It’s been a real pleasure.

Rick: Yeah, Thomas, it’s really been a joy, and I think people will enjoy this conversation. I’ll be linking to your website, of course, as I always do, and linking to your book on Amazon, so people can get it. Is there a physical book or just a Kindle book?

Thomas: There’s a paperback and a Kindle, so it’s Amazon. Paperback and e-book.

Rick: Link to that place on the site.

Thomas: By the way, if anybody wants to get a book but they can’t afford it, the e-book, just send me an email and I’ll send you a copy.

Rick: Yeah, and it’s only like $4 or something, isn’t it, for the e-book on Amazon?

Thomas: I think the Kindle is $7, and the paperback is $14, and it has a beautiful cover. I meant to bring it, but anybody that’s interested can look on the website. I happened to shoot that cover when I was walking on the beach nearby. So, I don’t want to put up any kind of financial barriers. I very much would like to speak in public as much as I can, and so we’ll see what happens.

Rick: Yeah, so if people want to invite you to come and speak someplace or something, you’re up for that?

Thomas: Yeah, I will definitely consider it.

Rick: Great. Okay, so let me just make a couple of wrap-up points. Well, specific to this interview, as I just mentioned, there will be a page on which has all the necessary links and information. In general, if you go to and explore the menus, you’ll find all kinds of things which will be pretty self-evident. So, rather than run through them all, I’d encourage you to just go there. There’s not that many things, but just drop down the different menus and see what we have to offer, because there’s lots of interesting stuff. There is, I will mention, an audio podcast of this, and also a place to sign up to be notified by email each time a new one is posted, which is generally once a week. And the “Donate” button I mentioned in the beginning. We rely on the support of appreciative listeners and viewers to keep this thing going, and it’s totally voluntary. And otherwise, we, like you, like to make it free for all those who would like to watch it. So, thanks for listening or watching, and we’ll see you for the next one.