Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, and my guest this week is Tim Freke, who lives in the UK. I interviewed Tim about a year and a quarter ago seems like only yesterday and through and in fact, in that interview, I kept saying, Well, you know, we could do another one in a few weeks if you want, because we haven’t covered everything. And he said, Well, I’m really busy writing a book right now. And I really have to focus on that and get it finished. And he finished it. This is the book. It’s called “The Mystery Experience, a Revolutionary Approach to Spiritual Awakening.” And let me just read a really quick short bio of Tim here that’s in the back cover of the book. He said, “Tim Freke has spent his life exploring the mystery experience and sharing it with others. He has an honors degree in philosophy and as a respected authority on world spirituality. He is the bestselling author of more than 30 books that have established his reputation as a scholar and free thinker. He runs mystery experience retreats internationally, in which he guides others directly to a spiritually awakened state.” And what I like about Tim, is his inclusive all-embracing approach to spirituality. He’s not one of these people who locks into a perspective and says, This is it and everything else is, is bogus or is illusory. And it he has a both-and approach in which he can recognize paradoxical opposites as being complementary parts of a larger whole. And he likes the word paralogical, so maybe we’ll explain or explore what that word means. So Tim, thank you, and welcome.
Tim Freke: Thank you. It’s very good to talk to you again.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m really enjoying your book.
Tim Freke: Oh, good. I’m glad it reached you. And you’re able to get a flavor of this…
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I’d like it if in this interview, you know, people who want to hear more about the Tim story, can perhaps listen to the first interview in which we talked about your whole background from the age of 12. And everything, we won’t really cover that in this one. And I was just listening to that this morning, while I was taking a long bike ride, and the audio is out of balance. I’m sorry about that. I think I’ve licked that problem. But so apologies to those who tried to listen to it. My voice is much louder than Tim’s but the content is good. So check that out. And but in this today’s interview, we’re going to talk about Tim’s book and, and the contents and the points that contain so sketch it out for us, Tim, let’s start with a nutshell version of what you’d like to say. And then we’ll kind of flesh it out as we go.
Tim Freke: Well, I mean, the subtitle of the book a revolutionary approach to spiritual awakening, that’s the that is what I’ve attempted to create, I suppose having explored this now, since, as we mentioned in the last interview, since I was very young, since my early teenage years, and studied so many different spiritual traditions, written all of these books, and then come into this phase in my life over the last 10 years of going look, I want to articulate what makes sense to me. And to point out what seems to be dead ends, things which don’t know, make sense make many things that I’ve done myself, which don’t make sense, meaning more seemed to be getting in the way. And what was what’s been happening during that time is I started working directly with people and what’s become the mystery experience retreats. And what I saw was with the approach that I was now using, which we’re going to be discussing, was enabling people to move very, very, very quickly in to what I call a deep awake state to experience for themselves, this mystical awakening, do use traditional language, which often people think for other people, you know, you may have glimpsed it once when you were young, or again, but to actually say, no, look, if you pay attention in the right way, and you open yourself up, actually, we can all experience this really, really easily. And to share that directly. And so the next step became well, I want to write this down and having explored in various books from various angles, to actually write like a manual of it in a way a journey, where you could start at the beginning, and work your way through something which was intellectually satisfying, which open the heart and which actually directly engaged your life as it is, and left you at the end empowered, both as an individual and with a sense of this profound oneness that leaves behind our individuality and which is for me, overwhelming experience of love. So it’s a kind of a journey to love, really, but it’s a journey through philosophy. So in a nutshell, that’s what it is. There’s other subplots and one of the major subplots is that I’m also it’s my feeling is we need to create a new form of spirituality for now. And there’s many people trying to do this. And this is my contribution. And one of the things which a form of new spirituality has to do is it has to be congruent with science, because it’s such a powerful way of seeing the world and it’s revealed so much to us has taken us so far. And my feeling is that that can be done. And it can be done in a really rigorous way. It doesn’t have to be done in a kind of fluffy, new agey way it can we can do it philosophically and in a way, which actually opens up both the power of science and the power of this deep spirituality. So that’s another subplot that runs through it, in my attempt to create a revolutionary new form of awakening for today.
Rick Archer: Yeah, number of Eastern teachers have tried to do that my former teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi tried to use science a lot and correlate that with, you know, traditional Eastern spirituality, although to great extent the science was often used more as a PR tool than anything else…
Tim Freke: Yes…Glad you said it, not me….[laughs]
Rick Archer: …you know, a study was done. I mean, there’s a lot of legitimate science that was done and some really cool findings. But if a study was done, that didn’t quite pan out to be as supportive and as complimentary as they would have liked then that one wasn’t, that’s kind of tucked under the rug.
Tim Freke: One of the great problems and I, I’ve spoken at a couple of conferences on non-duality and spirituality and science and, and what I see often amongst the scientists, is a real frustration, and a sense that the intellectually, the science is the big boy in town. I mean, it’s so powerful, and that it gets co-opted by things which they look at going, hang on you don’t you stop your co-opting sites to give authority to something else. And you’re so you’re going, here’s what I believe. And that’s what sites to look. And actually, it may or may not be what science says, I’m not trying to do that. I mean, I think there are interesting things, but my approach with science is much more, can we lay a philosophical foundation, which is through this thing, you mentioned paralogical thinking, which we will, we must explore. Can we lay a foundation philosophically to see that these are complementary, they’re not the same? And they don’t necessarily say the same thing. But they said complementary things from completely opposite perspectives. That’s where they meet, they meet through the fact they’re so opposite, rather than that they’re the same.
Rick Archer: Do you think that being opposite, though they actually are in some cases, trying to discover the same thing? For instance, do you think that consciousness is the unified field maybe that science is trying to find that physics is trying to find? And, and you know, it’s just completely different approaches to finding it?
Tim Freke: Well, what I’d like to do, Rick, is I’d like to hold that question because that’s a huge and really important question. And it’s an area I get into in the second half of the book. And it’s really where I want to get people
Rick Archer: as the half I haven’t read yet.
Tim Freke: It gets, I mean, for me, the book just moves through. And so by the second half, we’re really into some places where I want to say some really big things, but I need to, but get other things in place to make sure people can come with me.
Rick Archer: Okay, good. Yeah, don’t let me get you off track. Yeah, lay down the whole foundation.
Tim Freke: So what I’d like to do, I think is, is start with two things, which is the two things I start the book with, the first thing is very simply the mystery experience, that there is an experience of entering into the profound mystery of existence, an experience in which you transcend your intellectual understanding, in which there’s a direct knowing of something which you could never possibly put into words. And anyone who’s had this, and a lot of people have, at some point, knows that there’s something so compelling about that, that it, all other forms of knowledge, just fall away. And the in that experience there is a profound oneness with all of the universe. And from oneness springs, and incredible love, like the whole thing is permeated with love. And it’s that it’s that experience, which means everything to me. I call it the mystery experience. People call it all sorts of wakening. I call it also being deep awake. I have lots of names for it, because it has no name. But when you taste it, you know something, and there is a huge confidence in life. And an appreciation of the wonder of existence, which is just both overwhelming and also a profound sense of coming home like this is familiar. Like I know this. I know. I’ve always known this. How did I ever forget this? This is the most obvious thing I’m alive. Even it’s unspeakably magical. So my main aim is not the philosophy, my main aim is to share that… to get you know, to keep rediscovering it myself and to share it with others. Because when we come into that love, everything changes. And there’s a sense of finally, this is yeah, this is it. And every time it’s the same, and yet, it’s always fresh and new. That’s what I mean by the mystery experience. And what I’ve tried to do is create a new language with which…a very simple language with which I can describe this experience and help people understand experiences they’ve had and, and refine the experience in a very deep way, and keep going deeper and deeper into it. So there’s a there is a new language, which I want to wanted to create. And I wanted to do that because it feels like when I was communicating, and I often do use traditional language, I will use Buddhist terms or Christian terms and things like this, because they have power and resonance, but they come with a huge amount of baggage. And when you say them, people assume that you mean this of them, or someone else would assume you mean something else. And what I wanted to do was peel that away and go, let’s, let’s communicate really clearly with each other person to person, as two explorers on this journey of life. And I’ll try and say it as simply and as clearly as I possibly can. And then you see what you think. And try it out and see if it makes sense to you. So that’s the first thing I want to put in place that that’s really what it’s about. For me, that’s what the awakening is. But where I very quickly come to is that the words in a book is what you’ve got. And the mind is what we can understand things through. And the mind is a very, very precious tool. What drives me mad when I hear people putting it down, because it’s the defining characteristic of as human beings that we can imagine things. And we can imagine speaking to ourselves, which is what thinking is, we can imagine, we can play things out. And we can come just through doing this abstract thing which isn’t in space, we can actually change the way we perceive the world. So what I what I’ve been doing for many years now is exploring what you called very beautifully, a both-and approach something which is inclusive. Now. What I’m what my inclusiveness is not about going Yes, yes. Bring it all in, let’s have a bit of everything. Everything’s okay. Whatever you believe that’s your reality. You know, I’m not interested in that. I’m not in interest interested in some sort of crass relativism, where it’s like, well, all opinions are just opinions. So they’re all equal. You know, I don’t believe that I don’t think the opinions of the Nazis were equal to the opinions of the Buddha. I don’t I you know, they’re not, they’re not, not all the same. So we need me to avoid that. Where I’m interested in is finding the best and seeing how they can fit together in a way, which means that the beauty I find in science, or in Sufism, or in Taoism, or in Zen, nothing needs to be rejected, because there’s a philosophy so big it can go, Yep, that makes sense. I can see what that is. And the foundation for that, for me has been this understanding of polarity. And what I’ve done in the new book, which is a huge step forward, for me as a philosopher, is to give it a name. And by doing by giving it a name, I’ve been able to articulate it much clearer. So the whole of the book is, it has its foundation in this idea of paralogical thinking. And paralogical thinking, is it stems from the recognition that life is fundamentally paradoxical. So okay, if I roll with…
Rick Archer: yeah, keep rolling. At some point, I’ll chime in with some questions. But yeah,
Tim Freke: I feel like I can get this in play.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I want you to lay it all out. Without me interrupting…
Tim Freke: This one idea will form a foundation. Yeah, everything that I would like to…
Rick Archer: Keep going, no problem.
Tim Freke: Okay, paralogical thinking. It’s the idea that the reality is fundamentally paradoxical. And that isn’t? Well, you know, it isn’t one it is many, it’s both one of many, for instance, to use a spiritual concept,
Rick Archer: I might just interject here, that may be paradoxical to a localized observer, but to itself, it’s just fine the way it is.
Tim Freke: But the reason that I’ve developed a new language is again, you hit minute, when you say the word paradox, you hear a problem, right? Because for logical thinking paradox is a problem we haven’t resolved yet. So I’ve started talking about a paradoxity, which is rather than on a problem you haven’t resolved yet, but a solution that you’ve arrived at. Now, this probably sounds incredibly abstract to anyone who hasn’t read my book. So I’m gonna just put it kind of pull it down a bit and make it concrete and I I’d like to use science because that’s, you know, not to coopt it, just to use it as an illustration. And the illustration I use in the book is the very famous wave particle display. So we have over 100 years ago, we have the top physicists of our time, looking into the nature of light. And discovering something absolutely incredible. That if you set up an experiment one way, light, that light behaves as discrete particles, and if you set it up another way, it behaves as if it is a wave. Now, logical thinking of which I’m a huge fan, I mean, I think logic where wish we’d be far more logical than we are, it would, you know, life would be much better if we could all just think rationally with reasons. But logical thinking, I think can only take us so far. And that’s because it’s based on the idea that something is either true or it’s not …it can’t deal with paradox it so first with the wave particle duality. For someone who’s logical which scientists where it’s, well, it’s either a wave or its particles, …which is it? The huge jump was made by these theorists, particularly one of my heroes, Niels Bohr, the Nobel Prize winning physicist, Danish physicist. And what he said is, look, in effect, what he was saying was what we’re describing… we don’t know what it is. That’s the mystery. But when we get down to this very fundamental layer, we can describe it in these two opposite ways, depending on which way we look at it. And both are true. It’s not either a wave or a particle, it’s both a wave and a particle, depending on which way you look at it. That fundamentally, when you get down to the real depths of life, I’m paradox. Now on the surface of life, where we live our daily business, we need logic, either or, and that works just fine. And it’s very similar in physics, that’s the Newtonian world, as it gets called, you know, where if I, if I drop my book, you know, it will fall, if I drop it, it will fall if I drop it, and it’s either in the air or on my desk, it’s not, but it’s either in the air, or it’s on my desk. And that’s, we need that, otherwise, we go nuts. But if you want to go right down into the depths of what is what existence is that won’t do, then you move into the quantum world. And you find there that these paradoxes exist, and they need to be embraced. So paralogical thinking, is a way of thinking about the depths of life, which says, when we hit a paradox, it’s not a problem, It’s the solution. That when you find two opposite views, which coexist and complement each other, like the wave particle duality, then we have arrived at a deep understanding which we need to be able to go yes, I embrace both, not this or that. Now, why that’s so important, as I’m sure we’ll find in this conversation is that if you then apply that to your life, and spirituality, spirituality and awakening, in particular, a lot of problems which we all hit along the way disappear, and it becomes much easier to awaken. And the key one, I mean, I’ll just throw out and we can, you know, the key one, I guess, for many people these days is that with the wakening generally, that’s been happening in certain circles, there’s a great understanding of the oneness of things beginning to arise. But it’s leading to a massive rejection of the separateness of things. And the individuality and the separate self is I’m coming across it all the time is being seen as the enemy, or an illusion or irrelevant. See, if you’re stuck in either or thinking if you discover it’s all one, it can’t be all separate. So it’s got to be one or the other separateness is an illusion we have oneness is reality. If you approach the such questions paralogically you actually don’t do that at all. You go, oh, look, we found an interesting paradox here. It is both… totally, utterly individual, as is obvious by the really obvious, isn’t it by the fact that you and I separate individuals communicating? And yet also behind that, it is fundamentally all one, which is actually of course, also what science says. But fundamentally, there’s one energetic field which is rising as all these individual qualities.
Rick Archer: I think this is very important. And, you know, to take an example from the from physics, I mean, the quantum physicist might understand very well that you know, it The reality is not Newtonian on the level of quantum physics. But that doesn’t absolve him from gravity. If he goes jumping off a building, you know, he has to obey the laws on that level as they function and can equally understand and appreciate the laws on a level where that, you know, Newtonian physics does not break. Yeah, yeah. And in spirituality, it’s there’s I interviewed a couple ladies last a couple weeks ago who have this website called liberation unleashed. And their whole aim is to show people through a series of questions and steps, that there is no individual self, there’s no one home, so to speak. Because you can’t find it. If you look for it, you can’t find any entity in their little puppeteer. And then, you know, so people have this realization, and then But then it’s like, oh, man, I just broke up with my boyfriend, and I’m so upset. And you know, the human life kind of keeps rearing its ugly head.
Tim Freke: Well, you know, I was, I was at a conference in Holland, earlier in the year on this one on non-duality in science. And what I saw there really intrigued me because what became obvious to me was the non-dual, modern non-dual philosophy, Neo Advaitic. As it gets called, sometimes this modern version of non-dual philosophy, which has exploded really, since I remember when I was exploring it 10 years ago, and no one knew what it was. And now it’s everywhere. And there’s people teaching it on every street corner and millions of websites and everyone’s enlightened and all that stuff… but what is what is done for so many people is it solved one problem, it’s a bit like medicine, it’s like giving people medicine. And it’s like, they take medicine, it’s cured the disease, but the side effects are disastrous! It’s like, you know, take this pill, take the non-duality pill, but expect nausea and meaninglessness to arise. Because you end up in a very cold, meaningless place, you know, where you’re living your actual human life. I mean, there was a, there was a beautiful moment for me when I did my workshop there, where this young guy came up after I’ve been sharing this both and which is fully embracing our humanity, as well as our deep, deep oneness. And he came up and he said to him, thank you so much for that Tim, he said, Because, and I really got me out, I actually want to think of it he just said, because now I feel like I’m going to be able to have children.
Rick Archer: Ah, that’s interesting…
Tim Freke: I said, Wow, what do you mean? And he said, Well, I’ve just, it all seems so meaningless. And the whole illusion, and just like, why would you know, I will, how could I bring other beings into this world? And why would I do that? and, and hearing you speak to that, I just feel like it’s unleashed this enthusiasm in me to actually live a human life. And to me, is that is the essence of what the philosophy needs to do needs to set us free to be human with this deep, awakened experience, and the understanding which comes from it.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you and I talked about this a little bit in our last interview, and you had spoken at the science and non-duality conference in California. Prior to that, to that, and you mentioned there that the audience breathed a sigh of relief when you came out with the whole both-and idea. And we discussed the thought that perhaps there is a maturation taking place in the non-dual world where people are kind of shifting from the initial infatuation with absolute-only to a more all-encompassing view of absolute and relative together. But do you see that trend continuing? I mean…
Tim Freke: yes, yes, absolutely. Absolutely. And not only this, I also noticed that there were various people who were non-dual teachers who had also gone down that path.
Rick Archer: Yeah, Jeff Foster, Scott Kiloby…
Tim Freke: Yeah, yeah…Jeff was one of those guys. Yeah, Jeff was exactly the one I was thinking of, because this time when I met Jeff, he had had had moved I he that his trajectory in his own life, had been very similar to my own. And I felt very close to what he was saying, because I could see he was also reached back to the humanity. And I think this is a natural process. I think there is a moment, you know, I mean, forgive me if I repeat anything we said before, just take me off somewhere else because I can’t remember. But you know, one of the things which I wrote about many years ago, which was my best seller was Gnostic Christianity. And in the initiatory process agnostic Christianity, it was very much first a discovery of the psyche, the soul, the inner world, the personal, that led then to a breakthrough into what they call the pneumatic or the spiritual, which was the discovery of the Christ within which is the Atman, the Buddha nature, there is all one, then this is the kind of death of the self, which is the cross in the course of the Christian myth. And then what happens is and then there, then there’s the resurrection, which is the coming back to life. And it’s the resurrection in the body. And that’s where the love takes off, which is back into the personal, you get the same thing in the Zen tradition in the 10 bulls, for instance, yeah, you know, you get the same the movement out until you hit number eight. And originally there were only eight in the 10 bulls, which is a sequence for those that don’t know, in Zen tradition is pictures and little stories that go with them. Overcoming the personal self, which is the bull. And that’s the same as and then the Christian initiatory process that’s the psychic or psychological process, then it’s the transcendence where you end up with just the empty circle. But it but then at some point, somebody added two more long time ago. And those two more are the coming back from the mountaintop into the village. And you coming back? You know, and you’ve got lovely pictures with a guy often you get him with a bottle of wine in one hand and he’s going. “Way-Hey! Back in ! Whoo hoo! …And that’s how I feel, I feel like, yeah, do we need to see this and there is a process we transcend the self, and then it comes to life. It doesn’t, that’s not the end. That’s just the beginning of some of a new way of living. And that’s coming right back into the marketplace…bottle of wine in your hand… You know, “I’m alive. Yea!”
Rick Archer: Well, you know, Jesus, if he existed, which is a whole other topic. He didn’t, he didn’t say, you know, go into the kingdom of heaven, heaven and just wallow there. He said, Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven. And all else shall be added unto thee like, you know, it’s like a springboard where you know, that you can really relish and flourish and in the world, once that kingdom of heaven, so to speak, has been established.
Tim Freke: Yeah, “I come to bring you life.” What great line is, it’s like, you’ve got that, haven’t you?, well, I come to bring you life. And that’s how it feels like now comes to bring you life. We’re alive. So the place you want to end up is this enlivenment. It’s not some, I’ve extinguished this. And you know, the little thing I did. And it’s funny, we should be talking after I’ve done these two different nondual science retreats… But this is coming up again, for me, where somebody was going was saying, in the audience, I think, was saying to me, you know, but it’s all one… separateness is an illusion. And I just thought, you know, look, I’m gonna think something. But you don’t know what it is, you don’t even know if I thought something, we are separate get used to it! Individuals were conscious individuals, if you can lose sight of something that obvious, then your philosophy is really up its own backside. You know, that is nuts. But the non-dual philosophy has something huge in it, which is, which is, you know, when you discover it is immense, that there is a deep self, a place where we’re one…a place where everything is boundaryless. We don’t lose that. But to think that we have to lose the other thing, which is obvious, which is our individuality, In order to achieve it is perverse. I think that doesn’t make any sense to me. And the more I go down this path the less sense it makes.
Rick Archer: One interesting way of thinking about the illusion thing, which I’ve heard people say is not that the thing doesn’t exist, but that it’s not what it appears to be…
Tim Freke: Yes. Now that is definitely true.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Tim Freke: And I can use the word illusion. If you if it’s like a magic trick, it’s just like watching, you know, David, Blaine levitate, and he’d go, Wow, what an illusion. That’s magic.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Tim Freke: You know, one of the ways I’ve seen the word the Hindi word Maya, translated is rather than illusion as magic. Like all this is the magic and nothing is what it seems. And what I love, again, about the paradoxity of science and spirituality, is that both of them show on the surface, life is one thing. At the depth, it is its opposite. And nothing is what it seems. And, and science has been fantastic at going everything you think the way you think it is, is just on the surface, go deeper, pay attention to it. And literally, this isn’t here yet, which is phenomenal, isn’t it? This isn’t here.
Rick Archer: And I guess one question we could raise is, you know, in the, in the ultimate big picture of things, is there really a surface and a depth or is it really one holistic wholeness, and this surface depth consideration comes into play for living beings who are, you know, tuned into one or another level of it?
Tim Freke: Yeah, I think it’s a good way of saying it. I mean, one of the key ideas which again, you know, we’ve gone in very deep as I suspected, we would… So we’re kind of gone right into the end of the book for me. And that’s fine. I mean, really, that’s fine. I’m sure that anyone is going to be listening to but at the gas pump, and you know, the title that great, I’m sure will be doing fine. The consciousness itself, it seems to me is, discrimination. Now, I’m talking about consciousness with a small c, I’m talking about that we are conscious. And it seems to me that consciousness is separateness. Consciousness is discrimination, consciousness is what allows us to experience anything… is that I have this perspective and not that perspective, that I’m dividing the world up, this is the microphone, this is me, this is you, this is the computer screen, this is my office, this is up, this is down, everything is divided up fundamentally into opposites. Actually, not there’s not that, you know, this, or this, everything. And through that, so. So immediately, you’ll have surface and depth, because everything, to be conscious of it, we have to discriminate it into opposites and qualities, and that’s what makes us conscious, then there’s the ground from which consciousness is arising, which is undiscriminated. And that I think, as you call it, I think earlier, you know, the idea that there’s a field of being… now I have a problem with calling it as some people do, and you mentioned earlier, Rick about a field of consciousness. It’s not that I don’t, I don’t use that anymore. I have done in the past. And it’s usually consciousness with a big C to discriminate it in some way. Because I find that it’s a difficult word, because it seems to me that that what the field of being is, is not conscious. The field of being… it’s hard, really to say unconscious, either, in itself because they arise together. But it’s not it becomes conscious through these separate centers that arise within it.
Tim Freke: Interesting.
Tim Freke: And that’s what’s that’s what, that’s what we’re experiencing. So through the separateness the field of being can become conscious, by taking separate form.
Rick Archer: Exactly. Maharishi laid out a very interesting thing, once he said, ’When existence becomes conscious, then intelligence becomes intelligent, and assumes the role of creative intelligence.” So in other words, pure existence in that level of abstraction isn’t conscious. But it’s somehow this, this self-referral situation begins to arise within it. So you know, looking at itself, so to speak, and so then it becomes conscious, then there’s some duality that is set up, and then sort of the creative intelligence aspect comes into play. Whereas before it was dormant, and there was nothing.
Tim Freke: Yeah, I mean, God, there’s a lot in what you’ve just said. I mean, one of the things which comes is that, yes, so that the field then if you call it the field, or you can call it God, if you prefer, you know, it’s like, it’s science. And I’m going to just jump back a second here, science, the paralogical nature of science and spirituality is fundamentally I think that one is looking out objectively into the, into the shared world, and one is looking within, subjectively, to your individual being. So here exploring the nature of the qualities of being …here, you’re coming back eventually into the subjective knowledge of being.
Rick Archer: How about if we said through your individual being to Universal Being? Yes, exactly. Being as a, as a vehicle to arrive at something that transcends it?
Tim Freke: Perfect, perfect. Yeah, much. That’s absolutely perfect. Yes. So they’ve got these two ways of going at it. So the field is for me, either way, you look at it, whether you come back and come in through spirituality or out through science, what you end up with is a field, which is really potentiality.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Tim Freke: And that’s what’s before the singularity. That’s what’s before the Big Bang, that’s what is underneath everything at all times. So it’s the potential for consciousness, which is becoming actual through and you said it very interestingly, when you were describing those ideas a minute ago, through the experience of duality.
Rick Archer: Right.
Tim Freke: Now suddenly going Oh, right. So duality is what’s allowing the one to be conscious. This is not some pernicious illusion. This is an incredible achievement. These 13 and a half billion years of evolution hadn’t been some cosmic mistake. the arising of human beings with an ego and a separate individuality and a perspective and the ability to think this is more like Oh, terrible mistake, get rid of all of that, stop thinking, don’t be an individual. Just go, No, this is the very vehicle through which everything is evolving into consciousness. And the fundamental ground of the ground is arising as this duality, this multiplicity and through that, well, here we are, and that’s something really to be celebrated.
Rick Archer: It’s beautiful. It’s rather Um, I guess? I don’t know, what’s the word? very philosophical, what we’re saying very ontological, you know, we’re sort of probing deep mysteries intellectually, but I think people, there’s a kind of a universal, intuitive grasp of this stuff that, you know, resonates with people far and wide.
Tim Freke: Yeah, absolutely. And so if we come back from the philosophical, right down again, into the personal the other side, because the two, you know, it’s a paradox, do they sit together? There is that Whoa, and then there’s me. And Rick, life and death and suffering, and families, and yeah, psychosis and neurotic tendencies and all that, and, and then you come right back into that, and you go, Look, what I’ve seen is, and the thing which is a relief for people, is that you say to people, you have got to get rid of, if I say to you, you got to get rid of Rick, if you want to be enlightened, then if you are foolish enough to just believe me, you are now going to head off on an impossible task. Because it’s only Rick, which is making you be conscious. So you can’t actually ever achieve it you can pretend to, but you can’t actually achieve it. And not only can’t achieve it, but it will be destroying the very foundation, which life has created, through which you can experience something. So there’s going to be a big part of you or me, in my case when I did it, which goes, no, no, no, don’t do that. And then if I come back to that, I go, Oh, there’s my ego trying to stop me being enlightened. Can I get rid of that? And no, no. And then what I’ve started to realize is that voice which goes no is not ignorance. It’s wisdom. That life wants us to root ourselves in the personal and then flower into the impersonal and the most important thing is to hang on to the root. Because without that, nothing happens. And if the separate self isn’t solid enough, we can’t actually awaken. It’s why in the ancient traditions, you know, the cabbalistic tradition. As for in the Platonic tradition, in the ancient world, we wouldn’t be even discussing this stuff until you’re older than 40, which in the ancient world was old? Yeah. Because you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t have established your separateness strongly enough to be able to withstand the impact of this awakening and still keep it solid. So very interesting and different perspective.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Andrew Cohen wrote an article the other day and sent out an email along these lines, he said, I’m not into destroying the ego, I’m into actually expanding the ego until it kind of encompasses everything. And it reminded me of a lecture Maharishi had given back in 1968, at the Harvard Law School in which he said the same thing that, you know, we don’t snuff it out, we actually it needs to be strong, integrated in a whole wholesome, healthy.
Tim Freke: Yeah.
Rick Archer: …in order to sort of provide a fit vehicle.
Tim Freke: Yes
Rick Archer: …you know, for this awesome experience. Otherwise, if it’s weak and diminished, and, you know…
Tim Freke: I can I can relate to what Andrew was saying there. But I would say differently because I think you’ve still got this idea of somehow Tim could be everything. And Tim isn’t. Tim is Tim. You know, Tim is a vulnerable human being with certain qualities and certain foibles, and he’s got some various psychological things that he… wounds, and he’s a, he’s a guy, he’s got a great side, and he’s got a side, which is not so great, and he’s the same as everybody else. And Tim isn’t going to miraculously become super Tim, he’s not going to become Uber being I don’t think ..used to.. hasn’t happened. Maybe it’s happening to anyone else not having to
Rick Archer: rip your shirt off. And let’s see if you got.
Tim Freke: what I feel now is this paralogical approach is much more obvious. And so it’s, it’s kinder…it just goes Look, let Tim be Tim and Rick be Rick and see also the opposite
Rick Archer: right
Tim Freke: … issue. You are both this limited individual and the ground of all being Yeah, and you’re both this evolving imperfect thing and this thing which is completely what it is just perfect, which is embracing everything just as it is which is present in the moment always and that and you don’t have to change this to become that which is I think what Andrew is saying because they coexist because at the deep level the opposites coexist. Now why I think I’ve been able to so quickly you know, literally at my retreats over the from Friday to by Saturday night, the vast majority of people are feeling the big love so much it’s vibrating in your body, you can’t miss it. And why that a tangible experience is happening is because the right from the start, I’m going look, just let your human self be. Just let it be, you know, it’s gonna be there and it will piss you off and it will delight you that’s what it is to be a human being. And let that be and then notice this as well. And that’s there as well, isn’t it? This is still just Tim, and then there’s this incredible presence of my deeper being, which is shared. And there is a paradox that exists together. And that makes it so much more accessible. Because there’s nothing to change or get rid of.
Rick Archer: There’s a section toward the beginning of your book where you talk about the mystery, and you talk about does anyone really know what life is, you know, and you say, you know, your parents, your guru, this? That’s the other thing? Does anybody really know? And your conclusion is no. And this kind of, it also kind of ties back to what we were saying a few minutes ago about the scientific versus the sort of spiritual approaches to gaining knowledge. And it reminded me of a metaphor I heard someone use recently, in which she said, You know, we’ve we sent men to the moon, right, and maybe within our lifetimes, will send men to Mars, and they can go there as objective observers and see the moon and collect rocks and everything. But we won’t be able to send men to the sun to do that. Because if they go to the sun, they will become the sun, you know that there’ll be consumed by the sun. And there’s this saying, in the Vedas, someplace, the knower of Brahman becomes Brahman. And so and that presumably points to people’s actual experience. And that being the case, I would believe that the mystery has been solved for those who have arrived at that. But not It’s not like the individual has say, Hey, I got it all figured out as an individual. It’s more like, you know, the individual becomes the universal and as such, you know, is established in pure knowledge, or knowingness or whatever. And then, of course, has to come back to living life as an individual. But if that is retained to a profound degree, then it seems one doesn’t sort of one may still be sort of mystified about the way a cell works or about the way photosynthesis or gravity or any relative phenomenon works. But there’s a kind of an essential knowingness that is foundational to all relative phenomena that fort has captured. And then you govern the territory, your will.
Tim Freke: Yes! yeah, I mean, for me, that’s what I mean by the mystery experiences exactly that my is that there’s a deep, deep knowing of the Gnosis to use the ancient term, you know what I said at the beginning, that there that you just know something, but the thing about that knowing is that, although it’s so certain, it’s the only thing which is certain… it’s not something you put into words, or you can try, and that’s what I’ve done in the book. But the words can never capture it, you know, I can give someone the book, and they may or may not get it, they read the words, and I understand the words, but that won’t necessarily mean my hope is that that will make them go. And they’ll get it and they’ll feel it. And you know, when you become Brahman, that you feel that you feel the love. You know, that’s the so when I see it, my Mystery Experience retreats, what I love, is seeing a whole group of people knowing and suddenly it doesn’t, you don’t know anything, actually. And you know, this, right? You don’t know anything else, that your judgments have gone, you got, you know, everything’s just like, I have no idea in words, and you see words for what they are.. wonderful, amazing, symbolic things, but no set of words is ever going to capture the universe. I mean, what would it be a sentence, a paragraph, a book, a library? How many words would it take to capture this moment.. even? You couldn’t do it.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, words…just these little symbols that we think in our heads, and so they’re just, they’re a far cry from, you know…
Tim Freke: They enable us to communicate about separateness,
Rick Archer: yeah.
Tim Freke: And negotiate it, and they’re brilliant, I love them. And then there’s this thing you’re talking about, which is the deep knowing, and then you do know, but it’s not something it’s not a knowing like that… it’s a different form of knowing. And, and it’s a beautiful thing. And then as you say, there’s a dance, then that can happen between the two, where there’s this …ah!… And then there’s this journey, which I must…which I’m constantly having to learn on, which means thinking and learning and changing and transforming and finding common areas and pulling over and getting up again and find out how many did and falling over and all of that. And that that’s still there. And yet this this fundamental Well, for me the thing it’s a love of life. Yeah, that you fall in love with the very process you’re on the enables you to then make the journey with this knowing
Rick Archer: what I think of when I think of people coming to a retreat and having the mystery experience and so on. And not only that but other situations when people talk about spirituality and people say, Oh, I had an awakening or I’m totally awake or whatever. You know, I think of…
Tim Freke: [Laughs] Sorry, I just find that funny!
Rick Archer: Someone said that to me recently, said, I’m totally awake!
Tim Freke: I was just like, Wow, man, how do you do without sleep? [laughing]
Rick Archer: Well, actually, I said something along those lines that I said, Oh, I said, Actually, traditionally, it’s understood that at a certain stage of the game, you know, pure awareness has never lost even during sleep, is that happening to you? You know, not exactly that when maybe you’re not totally awake, then. But the thing that occurs to me is that, you know, as I mean, when we talk about having these experiences, mystery experience, and all, we’re talking about, you know, an individual, the individual instrument, you know, it’s the, the sense organ of the infinite that we call Tim, or Rick, you know, becoming attuned in such a way that it can tap into something deeper, right?
Tim Freke: Yes.
Rick Archer: …and, but they’re layer after layer after layer after layer of conditioning, and impressions and experiences, all of which, you know, tend to numb us a bit and condition us and constrict us in various ways. And I suppose there’s, there’s a certain stage at which regardless of all that conditioning, there can be a clear recognition of the of the foundation of it all. But having had that it doesn’t mean all the conditioning has been erased. And there could be an entire lifetime or whatever, of unraveling all that and as it unravels, greater and greater clarity and richness of appreciation.
Tim Freke: Yeah, although, I mean, I know exactly what you’re saying… I would, for me, it’s more like… that what’s growing? Is it what’s happened to my own little strange journey? It has been that I’ve been catapulted into this deep awake state, very young, and keep going back to it. And that is quite straightforward. Now…
Rick Archer: You know, it’s pretty well stabilized. You mean?
Tim Freke: No, I don’t mean that. What do you mean, I’m glad you picked me up. I don’t mean stabilized. I mean, that when I was when I put my attention there, it’s very easy, comparatively easy to how it was.. to, there it is. And that’s why I can take other people there. And we were the way we do that, you know, is very much, you know, come out of your life come out of your story, you’re in a very safe environment. And, and it’s actually easier than people think. And then there is the unfolding the adventure of life. And what’s happening in that is much more about how can I be in this both-and? And how can I both engage with Tim’s adventures authentically, with all of the different things he’s experiencing, and this… now it’s not, it feels the model of you know, dissolving the conditioning. That phrase doesn’t quite work for me anymore. Because, you know, my accent is gonna stay the same, and that’s conditioning, my body posture is going to stay the same, and that’s conditioning, the things I like, and I don’t like the food I will eat the food I won’t eat is my culture, and that it feels as if everything about nature is conditioning. And it goes right down to a cellular level, on an atomic level even. And that nature is these habits, these it evolves, and then through the habits of nature of body evolves, and through the habits of the body itself evolves, and that has then psychological habits and you’re forming an individuality. And in that process, what marks us out as conscious beings is we can intervene consciously, and therefore, we can shape the conditioning, we can reflect on it consciously and go, “ that’s not serving me, I want to lose that”. And that is I’ll be okay with that. And conditioning is a good thing, is what I’m trying to say.
Rick Archer: Yeah, no, I agree. I mean, obviously, if you’re going to be a great violinist, you have to undergo a lot of conditioning.
Tim Freke: Right. Great example. Great.
Rick Archer: But you know, how the Gita talks a lot about the binding influence of action? And I think the principle here is that, you know, there’s conditioning can be binding, or it could even or it could also be liberating.
Tim Freke: Yes.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And, and there’s a sort of an art to going about life in such a way that the routines that we need to do in order to live in a practical sense, switch over from being binding to in a sense, liberating.
Tim Freke: Yeah, I think that’s really great, Rick, because when I was saying earlier about what’s what has become the challenge for me, the interesting thing I’m involved in my own personal journey is Can I explore this both -and where it’s this big loving “Ooh”, and this “um,” ..same thing… at the same time. And what I see then is that if my consciousness is pulled right down just into Tim, then the conditioning just conditions me, there’s no freedom there because I’m just going to respond in a habitual way. For better or worse. If there’s this sense of the profound mystery of this, this knowledge of my deeper being, there’s this huge spaciousness, there’s the you know, that I know, my deeper being is the space the ground within which everything is arising, there is a I am now, I can now see the conditioning. Yeah, in a way that when I’m in it, I can’t, at which point then there is a freedom of choice. The more aware awake I am, the more choice I have to be able to go. Right, let’s reshape that, let’s transform the self.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Tim Freke: …and, and not dissolve it. But just let’s, let’s, let’s see those areas where it can become wiser. And so one of the ways I’ve been playing with recently is, you know, that there’s love and wisdom, that ancient, you know, I was in Tokyo giving a seminar earlier last month, and they had two Buddhas there, one of those shrines I went to, you see them often, you know, one with their hands closed, like this, the one and one with the hands like this, the two… of air, they were sitting next to each other, and one was the buddha of love, And one was the buddha of wisdom. And there it is, that’s the paradox it, there’s the one, there’s the two, one is the love, which you just come up into, and is actually quite easy, relatively to do to find. And then there’s the wisdom, which is integrating that and allowing that to transform and come through the vehicle, as you said, and that’s a lifetime or lifetimes. I mean, that’s a whole journey. To me. That’s something which goes on and on and on. What is it to actually live lovingly? What is it to live in a knowledge that you’re separate, and not separate? These are not questions you ever answer. You can only answer them in this moment… And now this moment, and now this moment.
Rick Archer: Nice. So just to dwell on this for one more moment. You know, we could sort of think of it in terms of situations, which once might have been binding, and sort of casting us more deeply into blindness and ignorance. With the introduction of this big myth of mystery experience, or the you know, the deeper value that we’ve been referring to, can actually become opportunities to, you know, learn to integrate that into some facet of our life.
Tim Freke: Yeah. I mean, one of the things I noticed that, you know, very, obviously, is that if my sense of identity becomes sucked into Tim, you know, it’s tight. And literally, it’s tight in my body, it’s tight. It’s tight in the way I think I behave in reactionary ways. And the minute there’s this spacious quality, there’s this, this deep awake,
Rick Archer: …you relax.
Tim Freke: Tim instantly changes, right? Instantly, you know, it’s like, Oh, hello… because it’s like trying to take this massive thing and cram it into Tim, and it won’t fit. And it’s like the tight suit that Ram Das used to talk about. And then suddenly, Ah, okay. And then there’s a there’s love, there’s ease of being.
Rick Archer: You see, this, this is similar to something you said a minute ago, we thought when you said something about? Well, if I just take a moment to remember the, you know, the bigger, deeper perspective, then, you know, I kind of everything and gets okay again, but have you found over the course of the years that it’s less and less something that you’d have to sort of make a conscious act of remembering, and more and more something that is just spontaneously there? Whether you remember it or not.
Tim Freke: Yeah, I mean, I think I think it is always there. Yeah. And it’s not a matter of thinking about it. Although it depends, Rick. I mean, I mean, one of the great things that I feel if we’re going to have a new form of spirituality is we need to be really authentic with each other. And so for me, I would say that there are periods where that’s been true. And then there’s other periods, which may happen, I mean, can be really short periods or can be longer periods, where Tim is facing some sort of challenge in his life, which is so difficult that he’ll be pulled into it.
Rick Archer: Sure.
Tim Freke: And, and, again, what’s happened for me is I would have seen that as some sort of failure. Oh, here I am. I’m writing books on spirituality and I’ve just got pulled into this. Well, there is a part of me that feels that …but I don’t listen to it too much now. Because the way a deeper understanding for me now is “that’s a life.” What you’re talking about is a life, Tim. And you if you get thrown something you know if tomorrow I get through some awful thing, you know, which I don’t want… something which, which really, you know, something bad for people I love or myself or it’s like, well, that will be that will be a, that’s life, that’s what will allow that transformation to happen. And part of that is that I may get sucked into it for a while because often, in my experience, that the next big jump in the evolution can often happen when you feel, you know, in the darkest moment, suddenly the brightest light. And so it’s not for me, it’s not like yes, you start off, and I’ve reached this place now where it’s all like this. And you know, it’s like, no, it’s like life still… It’s like whoosh! And I think in a minute, I mean, personally, I feel like the minute I just set myself up and go, Yes, I like this life’s gonna take me and go, “Oh, Yeah?” ..try this. Oh, God! So I don’t want to go close to that. Right to me, I just want to tell you the image which works on it’s really simple. It’s just a journey. It’s like, if you go on a journey, then if I’m, if I’m going from a journey from here to London, then I will have to pass through countryside, I might have to go across a wood, I might have to go into a bog, you know, it’s like … And so the fact that, that in a certain stage in your life, you feel like God, I mean, I’m feeling like I’m walking through a marsh here, I can hardly move doesn’t mean you’re rubbish. It just means you’re at that stage in the journey, someone else might be swinging along in the meadow going there, but I’m having a great time doesn’t mean they’re great. It just means on their journey, that they’ve reached the meadow… look out, there’s a desert coming, but they don’t know that… there will be your life. And if we can just engage with it, and be kind to each other, then I think life will do its business through us quite nicely.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And if we believe or understand that, there really is a sort of Infinite Intelligence permeating everything, then this stuff isn’t happening capriciously, you know, it’s not happening randomly it’s happening, there must be some deeper reason or significance to everything that happens.
Tim Freke: Yeah, I feels like that to me. I mean, going back to the other theme, which we were developing earlier on the conversation with science and, and spirituality. One of the things an image which I, which I quite liked, when I was thinking about this was, you know, that science is very good at looking at the mechanics of life, but it doesn’t, it can’t engage with the meaning of life, in fact, that if you follow, if you just take an objective view, you just look outwards, you won’t find any meaning. It’s because the meaning occurs from our individuality, when we look within …so you know, we need to say what I love is, of course, is that we do this all the time, you know, if I, you know, I don’t know how to whatever If I had a row with my wife, and she throws plates at me, she doesn’t, by the way, but if she were to, you know, I could look at the plates and know that they’re falling on the ground, through the laws of gravity. And that would be there. And I would duck because I would understand the laws of gravity. But I would also be thinking, Ooh, what’s the story here? What’s happened in the past that has led to this? What does this mean for the future? What does this tell me about me? What does it say about our really, there’d be a whole meaning element, and these two sits side by side, all the time for us, we instantly take a paralogical approach, where we can understand it’s mechanical, and it’s meaningful, at the same time. So the idea that these don’t sit together seems crazy to me. The analogy can I just rob could throw this way. The analogy which I use, which I was, I was quite pleased with because again, I love simple things, was I thought it’s a bit like taking a movie, giving someone a copy of a movie, I chose a wonderful life because I thought it’d be fun. So you give someone a copy of wonderful life on a DVD, and you go, what do you make of this? And they come back and they go all I’ve studied it in great detail. Great. What do you think? And they go, Well, it’s a lot of digital information, very interestingly, encoded onto a disk, which when played in a certain machine creates the illusion of flashing lights and sound. And you go, Yeah, that’s true. And that’s really interesting. But what did you think of the story? And that seems to me like, you know, what science can do so well, is that, but it misses the story. And the most obvious thing about our lives is the story. And that’s where this whole conversation we’re having comes in …philosophy and spirituality is about… what’s the meaning of this story?
Rick Archer: Yeah, I was, as I mentioned, I was listening to our previous interview a little bit this morning. And I mentioned in that interview, that it astounds me that a surgeon or a scientist who really looks closely at things could be an atheist because, you know, they’re looking at this marvelous, you know, display of intelligence, and yet if they somehow As you say, just go for the mechanistic approach. And okay, the heart pumps this way, and this vein is connected to that, and so on and so forth, then they could actually miss that entirely.
Tim Freke: Yes.
Rick Archer: And whereas really, they’re looking at a miracle, and yet they just see it as an interesting mechanism.
Tim Freke: Yes. Yeah. I mean, and often the problem is, you see, because I think, in traditional religion, you have the idea of God as this big, intelligent person,
Rick Archer: right? Big guy with a beard.
Tim Freke: But I think if you went look, the ground of being is it’s not consciously intelligent. It’s just intelligent.
Rick Archer: Right
Tim Freke: And it becomes consciously intelligent through the surgeon looking at the thing. That’s the, that’s it’s consciously intelligent, that the surgeon is nature consciously intelligent, looking at the incredible intelligence of itself. Yeah. Which it’s done unconsciously, or not, not conscious in the same way. And then you see them working together.
Rick Archer: I think I was getting out earlier, as I was thinking about your retreats, and the people have this deep mystery experience. And then I was thinking, Well, how do they retain that when they come back to daily life and, and there’s a point I was gonna make, which is Gurdjieff, apparently used to teach people to kind of remember the self. And this would something some people result in a very halting style of speaking because they would be saying a word and then remembering the self, saying another word. And I’ve actually met a couple people and interviewed a couple people who had some who had some Gurdjieff experience that seem to talk this way a little bit. And so and we’re talking about whether it’s really necessary to remember this or whether it becomes so ingrained in your, in your DNA that is second nature, and you don’t really even have to think about it. It’s not maintained by thinking nor lost by forgetting it. It just is. And so, you know, that’s a little bit of a long question. You can riff on it if you’d like. But in terms of your what you’re actually teaching people, how do you enable them or help them to have this become more of a living? 24/7 reality, as opposed to a cool thing that happened on that weekend with Tim?
Tim Freke: Yeah, well, the first thing I do is, is suggest that it will never ever be a 24/7 living reality, and suggest they take that monkey completely off their back, put it in the bin, no one’s in that condition. It’s all a fantasy. The only people who are in that condition are people who we imagine are in that condition because we’ve never actually met them closely enough. When we do we find that they’re not. And that’s been my experience and the experience of all the people I know that have really been around this. Or the other thing I like to suggest is that a lot of this idea that we can arrive at this 24/7 total fully realized ..boo.. gone through the end of the journey …arrived. You know, this is not a universal idea. This is a specifically Indian idea. You don’t find it in Taoism.
Rick Archer: But let me just interject, in my own experience. And I bet you could say a similar thing. I mean, I’ve been on the spiritual path since I was 18. Now I’m 63. Almost. So I’ve been meditating hours a day for all that time. And, you know, there’s something about my experience, it’s something grand 24/7 That certainly wasn’t there when I was 18…
Tim Freke: Sure
Rick Archer: …and probably wouldn’t be there now, if I hadn’t been doing all this stuff for all these years. So..
Tim Freke: definitely, definitely…
Rick Archer: not, just not to say, I mean, some beatific, you know, kind of …
Tim Freke: Exactly, yeah, of course, if you, if you pay this attention, your life will be magic. Yeah, if you pay this attention, it will become familiar, like anything. But the place I always want to start is let go of the fantasy of always being awake, because everyone sleeps, it’s the nature of consciousness to rise up from the from the unconscious source and fade again, it relies on energy, when you’re very energized, you’re more likely to be awake than when you’re not. There’ll be moments when you feel very, very awake, there’ll be moments where you don’t . so much. So allow that and so you don’t go off into I’ve had this incredible experience, how can I hold on to it? It’s like, no, don’t do that. Don’t hold on to it, allow it to move and flow. But now my greatest concern when I do the retreat is that you know, once you know, you know, now you just need to remember that you know, and if you keep if you keep returning the book, this is really why I’ve written the book as a manual for the whole of the last section of the book is about exactly this question because it’s a huge question. So my hope is that people can use the ideas and the techniques which I explored very profound and simple things we can do to just keep returning to it, but not in some permanent sort of idea like you know, that idea of balances if it’s like there, but more as a organic sense of now this, now this ,now this, and allowing consciousness to rise and fall All and in so doing finding that you’re the state you gravitate to, and I think this is what you’re describing, recommend, certainly true for me, the state you’re gravitating to, is doing this all the time. And there’s moments where it suddenly does this. And, you know, but then don’t be surprised if it suddenly does that afterwards. That’s okay. Or it’s all okay. Yeah, allow that process, and trust it and keep it just keep engaging with it. And, and if we do that, then I think this, this grows naturally in us.
Rick Archer: it’s kind of like riding a bicycle. I mean, you can get really good at riding a bicycle, there’s never a point and balance may become second nature to you balancing. But there’s never a point at which you are going to just be able to stop balancing, because you’ve been on this bicycle for a long time, and it’s just gonna ride itself, there’s always the balance may become some almost subconscious, but there’s always gonna be this process. And you could always fall off the bicycle.
Tim Freke: You know, you know that one of the things I say in the book is even the best musician hits a bum note now and again. You know, forget this perfection out here. And because it’s in the nature of duality that for it to be evolving, and therefore to be imperfect, yeah, there’s always more there’s always further and the more your bicycle. I love that analogy. Because the problem when people think about arriving or balance is dead. But what actually balances is moving all the time. You know, when we ride a bicycle, we’re moving, it’s congruent with what is balanced depends on the road. And so it’s never one thing…
Rick Archer: When it’s not moving, you can’t balance anymore.
Tim Freke: Exactly, exactly. It’s a great analogy for how we can live. So then it becomes like surfing, if you will. And then it’s like you’re surfing the waves of the good and bad of awake and asleep, of all the different realities that we’re experiencing. And, and that becomes much easier it feels to me, if you have your sense of balance rooted as deeply as possible in the ocean.
Rick Archer: There’s something you wrote in your book that I liked a lot. I typed it out, and it pertains to what we’re saying right here. He said, on page 119, “The art of awakening is to move the focus of my attention between the mystery and the story, whilst retaining the other pole in my peripheral attention.”
Tim Freke: Yes. Yeah. I mean, one of the and this again, yes, it does. I’m glad you brought this up. Because this does refer to what I’m exploring is that it feels that attention itself has this paradoxity to it, that a bit like with my vision, you know, I’m focused right now on you. But I can see the window in my peripheral attention in my peripheral vision, but it’s out of focus, but it’s still there. And if something was to happen, if someone came to the door, I would move my center of attention. And my attention, like my visual attention, my conscious attention seems the same. It has a center, I’m concentrating now on this conversation, I’m taking in everything you’re saying and allowing the words to flow out and response. But if it needed to go elsewhere, it would, because I’m aware of a whole load of other things as well. But I’m just not focused on them. But when I want to be I can look, there it is. So when I said for me now, what I’m exploring is the both living in the both and living in the paradox, what I’m looking at is, okay, how can I, what will used to happen is that, I go, Whoa, my God, Whoa, he’s fantastic. And then I’ll be back into him, where’s that? I got no idea. I feel desolate, I feel alone. It’s on I feel like all of that. Now, what it feels to me is, Can I come into Tim and actually authentically, again, engage with being Tim with all of that, that means not in some romantic sense with all of the unromantic bits, too. And then it might still be my peripheral awareness if you like, there’s that deep awake state. And so I can take it and go, Whoa, there we go. I’m, Tim’s a bit fuzzy. But this is very clear. And one of the things I feel is, you know, if you come on a retreat, or you have that big awakening, I think anyone who’s had that will know that the separateness does become very fuzzy in the you know, if I’m in that big love, really immersed in it, where I love to be… my favorite place, don’t ask me to deal with the mortgage. You know, don’t ask me to, you know, money? What’s that? Don’t ask me to deal with practical things in that way, because it just feels a million miles away. So I need the ability then to just go like, Okay, here’s the big love. Yeah, life is perfect. It’s all great. And now what’s the shit I’ve got to deal with? Oh, yeah, right. Yeah. Feeding the family. Right. Okay. And, and can I do that without losing this, but not that I’m immersed in this, I’m not now. If I was I’d be, you know, gushy, and you know, though, couldn’t function. But I’m right here with it. And that’s still there. And then, oh, there’s the ocean. There’s the waves on the surface. There’s the ocean. There’s the waves on the surface, and it’s more like that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, And I think if you if you do that cycle enough times, the more that happens, the more integrated the two become, you know that Upanishad that says two birds sit on the self, same tree needs of the fruit and the other eats not and so on. It’s like, that’s the two birds.
Tim Freke: That’s right. Two birds. That’s exactly that’s exactly. You know, this is a very, it’s a very old philosophy. I mean, that, you know, the classic one is that is Taoism, the, the yin and the yang, that inside, the fundamental nature of reality is that paradox. And within the black is the white with the white is the black. And that’s the way it looks to me that that’s a very, very profound thing, and you find it in all these traditions. And my feeling is if we can bring it out now, then we can really heal a lot of divisions in ourselves, and also like, science and spirituality, and, and all sorts, you know, another division, which I see is between devotional spirituality and enlightenment spirituality. There’s a great feeling, I think, amongst those like me, who I’ve been in both, and, you know, but when I reached the whole oneness thing, there was something seemed a bit primitive about the whole, oh, you love you god, you know, and I’m really into the oneness. But there’s something very sweet about it, too, and profound and real, you know, I read Rumi or, you know, have those devotional experiences. It’s just beautiful. And being greedy, I want both…I want to be able to sit with both and go, yeah, no, both of these fit into my worldview, I can understand. You can stand here, in which case, there’s little Tim in love with the mystery. And then I can be the mystery, just being… holding Tim and everything within it. And they’re both real.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you’re not alone. I mean, some of the great Jnanis were bhaktas also, you know, Shankara, who is the founder of Advaita wrote all this marvelous devotional poetry and, and stuff. So it’s, there’s no compatibility there.
Tim Freke: And I think it’s, again, it’s the two in the one. So the one in that sense, the one which is devoid of the two does become cold. Because the love is the relationship. That and that exists between you and the relationship with God or being and also between each other, my relationship with you, with people around me, with the world with nature with everything. That’s where Love arises,
Rick Archer: we’ve been having this conversation about the seesaw, you know, of the mystery to the, and the practicality kind of going like that. I’ve had, I had a kind of a debate with a friend who insisted that, you know, at a certain point, if you really want to, like be in the mystery state, big time, like you said, you know, who cares about money, and who cares about all this practical stuff, you actually do have to kind of give up any hopes of holding down a real job or, you know, maintaining a family or anything, you have to kind of leave that behind in order to really get out there into a more profound degree of realization. Do you agree with that? Or do you think that? Or maybe you don’t know? And we don’t know, neither of us knows? Or do you think that perhaps the, the integration could continue, such that there’s no limit to you know, living the depth of life, and yet still, you know, maintaining a practical existence,
Tim Freke: I think I probably spend most of my 20s trying to do the former, just for me, I mean, my journey into the world of having a family and a job, or that’s a funny one has been a late development for me, because for waking up very young, it’ll look crazy. And it was like, we’ll forget that that’s nonsense, money, success, the world …nonsense, and wanting to just be out there in the big love, and it’s very attractive. And it’s beautiful out there. And I understand completely why people would go, hell, I’m heading up the mountain, and I’m just gonna go get myself lost in this. And I think that’s a perfectly good option. And clearly, the one wishes to experience that through various people. But I don’t think it’s better. I just think it’s an option.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Tim Freke: And I’m not sure is the, you know, it’s not the option for me, I feel much more intrigued to take on the greater challenge, which is to integrate the two together. And my feeling is that that’s what life really wants us to do is to engage with both and that’s, that’s what a human life is. And by attempting to push the difficult bits away. Yes, it seems to make it easier, and maybe it does in certain respects. But you know, life is being a human being on this journey is such a precious thing. It would seem to shame to come to the end of it and go so what do you make of being human? I didn’t do it. When he didn’t do it. I just went straight home. Oh, really?
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s a good point. I mean, if we were all Ramana Maharshi sitting around in a loincloth, then who knows what would happen to the world…
Tim Freke: We need to be and we need to be, you know, let me be provided his dharma. And I’m not saying this about Ramana Maharshi. Let me just say that just because you mentioned him, but, you know, I do feel we need to be very curious. And we need to be able to look things in the eye and go look on it. An awful lot of what passes as spiritual awakening seems to me very close to mental illness.
Rick Archer: What do you mean by that?
Tim Freke: Well, I think if we saw people behaving in the ways that some people behave in a different context, we would think, then, that there’s something wrong. But because it’s in this context, that they may be fairly helpless or whatever, slow, or whatever they are, or, and they have this, we see it as something great. Now, I’m not trying to make value judgments about anyone who’s got mental illness, because I think we all have various ways. And I’m not trying to make any value judgments about people who are like, you know, these spiritual people, I just want us to observe it. I mean, Freud famously rejected mysticism because he saw his regression. He regression to infantile oceanic states. And there’s something in that, you know, it’s something which is hard to swallow, because I’ve, I’ve gone in a very different direction. But if we just go back into that, you know, I take people to that place, that oceanic place, that’s what I do. But if we, if we just stayed there, it would be a type of regression. Now, why Freud is wrong, is that when we go there, sit on one of my retreats or through spirituality, why it’s not regressive, is we then go there consciously, we become conscious of that oceanic thing, which was there, when we were babies, in a way that we’re not conscious of it as babies. But that still needs us to hold on to the adult persona, which has enabled that to happen consciously, and then to engage with the adult human journey. And if we don’t, then I think we at least have to be open to the possibility that it may be a form of aggression rather than progression.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting. I mean, if you read Yogananda his book, for instance, there’s stories of Yogis who just sit on dung piles and throw rocks at anybody who comes around…
Tim Freke: Yeah
Rick Archer: …that could be considered a form of mental illness, I suppose. And, and, you know, as I’m sure is, is your experience, I’ve known a great many people on the spiritual path. And it almost seems like when you embark on that, there, there can be a kind of an ungluing of the nice rigid structures that have held your personality together. And you can get really nutty and really, really idiosyncratic. And you know, you need some, you need some stabilization, need some integration. Otherwise, you know, you could end up in a nuthouse and it, you might actually have progressed in the direction of spiritual development, but you did so in a way that wasn’t balanced and ended up getting you off the track.
Tim Freke: I think so, Rick, and I think we have to be really open to this. And I think one of the great things for me is with the book is, I want to bring this deep wisdom, this real deep stuff into mainstream society. And unless we can think in the ways that we’re discussing now about the sort of rather more difficult areas, that will never happen, because mainstream society will look at people sitting on dung throwing rocks, and just go, that’s crazy. Yeah, I don’t want it. The what is astonishing to me, is that, you know, I read that book and others like it in my 20s. And I thought it was fantastic. Sure. Why did I think that was fantastic. Why didn’t Why didn’t I go as I do now? Oh, God, I wouldn’t want to be like that. I wouldn’t want to be sitting on dung throwing stones. There’s nothing romantic about that. That’s just not very good. That’s really nice. Why would you want that? That’s not something to aspire to. And yet I’d get I got caught up in a whole load of my own romantic ideas to such an extent that I saw this is great, Crazy Wisdom or something. Now that that’s what happens as you said, with spirituality, kind of the jar gets glued and cobbled it back together again, which is why for me it’s so important. We root ourselves in our separateness, we develop the intellect we have you know, as well as the and the heart in a very human sense. And then we transcend and as Ken Wilber says we transcend and include it. So that is there that doesn’t go away. But now this is a deeper thing where we can see through, you know, it’s a bit Like, if you were studying physics, you’d start off by learning the laws of Newton, how this falls down. And then when you’ve got those, they’re not going away, you can now go and actually, there is nothing in your hand, and there’s no hand. And you need to now go deeper. And you go, okay, but you haven’t lost the laws of Newton.
Rick Archer: Right?
Tim Freke: You have no disappeared on you. They’re still there.
Rick Archer: Nice. I suppose one of the just thing to throw in here is that it may be perfectly appropriate for Ramana Maharshi, to, you know, do what he did. He didn’t necessarily have to become a stockbroker, in order to live a spiritual life, he had a role to play.
Tim Freke: Yeah, definitely.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And there’s that verse in The Gita, “because one can perform it one’s own Dharma, though lesser merit, is better than the dharma of another, the dharma of another brings danger”.
Tim Freke: I think that’s beautiful,
Rick Archer: ..you know, so we all have a role to play. We’re all like, little sense organs of the infinite and the infinite wants to be a guy in a loincloth over here, and it wants to be a guy with kids and a family over here. And, you know, to experience all the infinite diversity that can be experienced.
Tim Freke: Yes, I think that’s exactly right. I mean, so in itself, you know, that somebody wants to spend their life just meditating. You know, I did that for years myself, you know, I think that’s great. If someone else wants to spend their life, learning to become very, very good at hitting a very small ball long distance into a very small hole. That’s great as well, I, you know, I’m amazed, I’m sure they will discover the infinite wisdom of the universe through that, actually, it doesn’t make any sense to me, I wouldn’t spend my life doing that. The important thing is, we said that we find what’s, what our way is. And the problem only arises, because so much spirituality develops the fantasy that you know, well, I had it. If you’re, if you’re a Class A seeker, you become a monk, right? And I did that almost twice in my life…
Rick Archer: Right
Tim Freke: And luckily, I escaped.
Rick Archer: And if you don’t that, you’re selling out your compromising.
Tim Freke: And if you don’t do that, you can you know, if you’re not up to that, you could be a householder,
Rick Archer: right, yeah. Well, oh, in the muck for another life,
Tim Freke: I’m just gonna be a household. Oh, no, I’m just gonna have a family, Jesus Christ, you know, have kids and a family, you’ll get woo! That has been the biggest challenge for me that I’ve ever taken on that compared to that meditating is just an easy
Rick Archer: Piece of cake. Speaking of kids and family, you mentioned that you’re taking care of your daughter and her she’s got a cold or something like that. So do you want to sum we want to move toward a wrap-up, I could go on for another half hour, but if you want to, like, you know, maybe touch upon some things that you feel we have left out of this conversation, and
Tim Freke: yes, it’s been a great conversation. As always,
Rick Archer: Groucho Marx is famous for saying that time flies like an arrow fruit flies like a banana.
Tim Freke: Well, there’s this thing we’ve left out, which is at the end of it, one of the things I love about it also about the mystery, is that you see how funny it all is. That you can’t take it seriously, because you’re not attached to it in a same way. When you’re held tight, it’s like, the whole thing is nuts. Yeah. And, you know, I just open mouthed in front of it, really. So I don’t know, there’s loads we’ve left out, there’s an infinite amount… but I need to leave something out so that people go out and buy my new book!
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Tim Freke: Because it’s, I you know, I’m, I’m really, I’m really, I’m really proud of the book, it’s a huge amount of effort went into it. And I, the reactions I’ve been having have been so pleasing, that I’m very encouraged and want it to speak to as many people as possible. Also, I made a little movie called The Mystery experience five minutes long. It’s on YouTube. It’s on Vimeo, which was made by a, an incredible film director took a little script of mine and made into this movie, which is a bank trying to describe where we started, Rick, you know that? The love the oneness. And that movement that happens when we become conscious of the mystery. And anyone who’s enjoyed this conversation, I’m pretty damn confident would enjoy that movie. And they can see that on my website, along with all sorts of other interviews and talks, including this one when we’re at which, which is the mystery, the mystery experience.com Mystery experience.com and
Rick Archer: I’ll link to it also from my great, I’ll link to the movie I could even embed the movie there so that people can watch it right
Tim Freke: there. That’d be that’d be lovely. That’d be I really, that’d be great because it’s a great way of you know, what I want to keep doing is finding new ways to say old truths. So they stay alive.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Tim Freke: Because they don’t you think you have, you know, they so easily calcify and we need to keep them keep it moving. And that’s what conversation does. And the ability to do this
Rick Archer: Maharishi always used to say only a new seed will yield a new crop. Oh,
Tim Freke: brilliant. Great line. Really, really great line.
Rick Archer: So speaking of calcify, let’s kind of end on this note. You know, I keep having the thought, what can people do to keep it alive? You know, because life comes at you. And it can you’re working a nine to five job you got kids, you got this, you got that life can be very kind of numbing, and dulling and, you know, can get you down. So what can people do to kind of continually refresh and revive and deepen the sense of appreciation of mystery?
Tim Freke: Well, I think it’s about you know, it’s, it’s as simple as nurturing it, which means spending time with it. And one of the things about doing that, on a regular basis is that it becomes much easier to find. But when you’re really lost, that doesn’t even that can help in when you’re pulled into it. So my sense there is that the simplest thing is going to be the best. And the simplest thing is the wonder of life, or the mystery, which is in front of us each day. So for me, if I’ve, if I’m pulled into my story, I forgot that I don’t know what’s going on. It’s as simple as that. You know, I really think I know what’s happening. I forgot the other pole, which is the other pole is I don’t know what’s happening. They’re both true. Now, I don’t have to deny that I really know what’s going on. Because that’s my story. That’s fine. But can I see the other pole as well? Can I see that on a deeper level under the surface? Oh, my God, I don’t know what life is we’re in an infinite Galaxy universe or have 100 billion stars. This isn’t really here. I geez, what am I thinking, I don’t know what is happening. And then suddenly, there’s space. And so for me, this is a way of wonder to find the wonder in the moment, to remember how good it feels just to breathe, to look at a color, to hear a sound. These are really simple things. And as I develop the ability to use them as doorways, I could find a way out of where I’m stuck. Or there’s a Sufi story, I don’t know think it’s in the book. It might be. But maybe it’s in the one before but I do love it. And it’s an old silly Sufi story. But maybe I can tell this as an end, which is about this. It’s in the Sufi story, there’s the princess is in the tower. And she’s a prisoner. And the prince is at the bottom trying to get her out. And you know, that’s the site of the soul being needing to be rescued. And the way that he does, it is very clever. He gets her to drop down from the tower. She has a jar of honey, and she pours out honey and a little trickle of honey runs down the tower. And then he takes an insect and ties a tiny little thread to the insect and the insect eats the honey and works his way right up on this one honey to the top. And then once she’s got the little thread, he ties a string, and then she pulls it up. And then she’s got the string. Once he’s got the string, he ties a rope. And then she pulls it up. But she’s got the rope in which point she can tie the rope up and come down. And what I love about that story, because it’s a bit cheesy, but I do love it is that it feels like in any moment where I’m trapped in the tower. There is a trickle of honey if I can find it, even in the worst situations, and life can be really, really tough. I think.. I know, really tough. There is always a trickle of honey, it may be very small. But if I can find that trickle of honey and just follow it, follow it, then I will slowly start to get out until I can come down out of the tower and be free again. And so as much as anything it feels like yeah, look for that. And we’ll be okay.
Rick Archer: That’s great. Okay, so I’ve been speaking with Timothy Freke, or Tim Freke, who has written a lot of books, the most recent one being The Mystery Experience. And I have a lot of books, people send me books, you know, because I interview them. And sometimes I’m trying to read a book a week and I sometimes I don’t have more than half an hour before bed to read. And I have to just read so much of a book and then that’s on to the next week. And I’ll give that book to the library or something. But, you know, this is one which I fully intend to finish. Every page is a delight. So I recommend it. And to conclude, make just a few concluding remarks. This interview is one in a continuing series with no end in sight. And if you would like to see more of them if you happen to be watching this on YouTube, you can subscribe to the YouTube channel. You can go to the YouTube my YouTube channel and you’ll see them all listed there. If you subscribe, you’ll get an email from YouTube every time a new one is posted. You can also go to BatGap.com bat gap where you will see them all. And there’s an index on the side of all the people’s names, you can click a tab there to subscribe to an email notification. Every time a new one is posted, you’ll get an email from BatGap. And there’s a discussion group there, which springs up around each interview. The last one, I think there were about 219 comments so far. So people get into it, they talk about what has been discussed in the interview. So feel free to join in on that. There’s also a lesser-known yahoo group, which you’ll find a link to on batgap.com. It’s Buddha at the Gas Pump yahoo group where smaller group of people have ongoing discussions. There’s also a donate button, which I very much appreciate people clicking from time to time, it helps to make this whole thing flow. So that’s about it. I’ll be linking to Tim’s website and perhaps embedding alter that little five-minute movie that he was talking about. So you can go to there to get in touch with him and see what he’s up to as he travels the world giving mystery retreats and writing books. So thanks, Tim.
Tim Freke: Thank you, Rick. I look forward to meeting you in person. I hope next time maybe at one of the retreats have I come back to the States. And it’s been it’s just so refreshing to have real conversation. As I think what you’re doing is fantastic. I really do.
Rick Archer: Thanks. I really enjoy it. And I really enjoy have enjoyed talking to you. And we’ll do this again sometime to I have maybe a couple years or whatever, because there’s so many in the queue but I’d like to touch base with you from time to time and see how things are developing.
Tim Freke: Great. That’d be fantastic. Thank you, my friends.