Transcript of Interview with John Butler

John Butler

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>>Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews and discussions with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done hundreds of them now, and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to b-a-t-g-a-p and check out the ‘Past Interviews’ menu.

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My guest today is John Butler, and John is a delightful man who lives in the U.K. He came to my attention and perhaps that of many others when he did an interview on ConsciousTV some while back. And I don’t know, he’s become something of a rock star, and I’m sure he’ll find that phrase embarrassing, but his ConsciousTV interview has something like over 800,000 views, which is quite remarkable, far more views than I’ve gotten on any interview before, and probably more than any ConsciousTV has gotten.

So I think people are charmed by his wisdom and his authenticity and his gentle demeanor, and various other qualities which you will see as we proceed through this interview. So, welcome John. Good to see you.

I’ll read a brief little bio here just to get us started, but then we’ll be fleshing this out a lot during the course of the interview. This is written in the first person by John:

“Childhood accustomed me to nature, solitude – a sense of God which needed no explaining. Stillness, beauty, depths of love called my heart back home where it belonged. But life grew out into the world, became possessed and lost the way.

After a few unwilling years in business, I went to South America ‘To make the world a better place’. It wasn’t so easy. Alone on a mountainside one day, an inner voice said, ‘To make whole, be whole’. I realized that, before being able to help others, I first had to work on myself. Once back in England, I looked for and found a source of meditation, which opened up a whole new way of seeing.

How can I best help the world I love? This question led me through organic farming, much travel, and many adventures to ever deeper understanding of the Work of Prayer.

I wouldn’t call myself a mystic though some say I am. I’m not sure what it means besides “Not this – not that”. Neither (in a conventional sense) am I very religious. “Mystic” conveys to me a wise unknowing of morning mist with only the promise of a day to come. It’s not an intellectual approach defined by man but trusting, waiting, quietly still before each blade of grass, each little bird (Matthew 6: 26-28) reminding us of higher, nobler government than ours.”

So you can tell by what I just read that John is a beautiful writer, among other things. And he’s written quite a bit and I’ve read as much as I can in the past week, wishing I could have had time to read more, but those of you who enjoy this interview might enjoy reading his books. He’s also written a lot of poetry.

I also want to add before we get started, that we’re recording this in, let’s see, it’s October 13th, 2018, and towards the end of this month, John is going to be conducting a meditation retreat where he lives in the U.K. So if you’re in the U.K. or if you feel like traveling there, perhaps you could attend it. Is that retreat full John or is it possible for people to still sign up for it?

>>John: Well, we’ve never done anything like this before but people can just come. I’m there at the church every day and people can just come as they like, there’s nothing regulated about it.

>>Rick: So people do that anyway, is what you’re saying?

>>John: Well it was just a local guesthouse that came up with the idea and they’ve only got a few beds, but the church is a big church and plenty of people can come, but you have to find your own accommodation.

>>Rick: Alright, so people can come any time; they don’t just have to come toward the end of October 2018?

>>John: No, no. I meditate at our local parish church every morning and evening, and it’s a public place, people can come and join me if they like.

>>Rick: Nice. We’re gonna … we could jump right into your history of meditation but maybe we should backtrack a little bit before that and talk about, you know, the influences and realizations you had when you were younger, that led you to the point where you were even interested in meditating.

Like you mentioned that in childhood you were accustomed to nature and solitude, a sense of God, and so on, so when do first recall having any inklings of interest in God or spirituality or whatever word we’re going to use?

>>John: Well I suppose it was, I didn’t use those words then. I just knew that I loved wide-open spaces. And I loved quietness, I wasn’t too keen on talking and crowds. I went around the world when I was 20. I wanted to see what the world was like then before men messed it up.

>>Rick: I’m afraid they already had by that time!

>>John: Well, not so much as now. But I always had a strong instinct of the natural, compared to the artificial. It was the time when artificial chemicals were beginning to be used on farming, so that word was quite widely used then – ‘artificiality.’

And also, being a countryman, born and bred, another common expression was ‘town-ee,’ which described that I was not fortunate enough to be born in the country. And somehow, that also was equated in my typical countrymen’s mind, with a sort of natural approach to things.

And of course machinery – motor cars were then replacing horses, unnatural weren’t they? You see, I’m well-grounded in what you might call ‘old fashion’ ways of life. So, I don’t think I ever, I don’t think I used words like ‘spiritual,’ oh, for quite a long time.

But I was sent to boarding school at the age of 7, and for 10 years I had compulsory chapel, twice – two or three times every day, in fact, always before meals, so even more often during the day. And we were brought to a recognition of God and the Church, it was the Church of England of course. So I’m very well-versed in all the traditional prayers and hymns, and the Bible, I know large extracts of it by heart, that I was taught.

And I always felt comfortable and familiar with all the old words, but they’ve all been changed now and they’re all being modernized and translated, but men of my age tend to hold to the old, the old words. ‘Spirit,’ somehow, or the word ‘spirituality’ – I don’t think I heard of that term until oh, probably I must have been in my early twenties I suppose, when I first thought of using that word, what it meant.

I suppose I just turned naturally to nature, where things seemed comprehendible, as my means of life. I suppose that was my natural meditation before I ever thought of using the word. Whoever heard of anything called meditation? Just to be quiet in nature – it was second nature to me, it always has been.

>>Rick: When you were a schoolboy and being required to attend chapel three times a day and all, and memorize much of the Bible, did the Bible really speak to you? Did you feel you really understood what it was saying, or was it more like a chore, an obligation?

>>John: Well, it’s a lifetime’s exercise to understand what it’s saying, I’m still learning. But what I loved about it were the many references to animals and nature, with which I felt at home. I was thrown into this very alien world of other little boys. Being born two years before the outbreak of war, we lived in the deep countryside, I hardly knew what another little boy was until I went to school.

And there I found myself suddenly thrust into this world of competition and sport and motor cars, and things over which I had no interest, but that daily, twice daily opportunity to hide my head in my hands, like that, and say, “God bless mommy and daddy and Sammy, our dog,” that was my, that was my connection back to what I loved and was familiar with.

And so many of the old hymns have references to: “The fox has its rest and the bird has its nest in the shade of the cedar tree, but thou couch was the sod, O Son of God” – all these things I loved so much not because I understood anything about God, but because they used words that were familiar to me, about trees and animals and the earth.

To a countryman, the Bible is full of these natural pictures of nature, because that’s really were, certainly the old prophets, drew their inspiration from – that natural world and Jesus’s teaching is full of references to the wind, the water, the flowers. So that was my connection with religion, as a boy.

>>Rick: I remember reading a passage in one of your books, or perhaps it was in one of your recordings where you spoke about your current appreciation of nature and how everything is kind of a wonder, and you can see a bug crawling on the sidewalk and just marvel at the sort of Divine intelligence that could give rise to such a beautiful creation.

>>John: Nature never failed me. I was lucky enough where I worked as a farmer for most of my active life, so the open fields and the animals are home. And as I began to discover people who talked about spirituality and opened my first spiritual books, and particularly when I listened to people talking about these things, I always somehow measured it against the experience of coming back to my farm, and if it resonated with what was taught me by nature around me, then I could take it, and what didn’t do that, then it didn’t somehow ring true for me.

I can’t overestimate the value, and how much I attribute value to that natural connection. Spirituality is actually natural, and it is being natural, and whatever it picks up in its passage through the human mind that is not equatable with nature, it is, it is an infallible standard you can trust.

Human cleverness is always trying to steal people away, nature brings you back to earth.

>>Rick: There’s something very profound about that, to my mind, because it would seem to me that, well, I’ve heard you speak of, what is that – the parable of the lost son who goes out and squanders all his fortune, then eventually comes back, and it’s almost like all of humanity is those lost sons, for the most part. We’ve sort of all strayed away from God. Go ahead and elaborate on that; that might be a trigger for you.

>>John: Well we’ve strayed away from nature, we’ve become unnatural, haven’t we? And that’s it.

>>Rick: Prodigal son, that’s the word I was thinking of.

>>John: In this day and age when ‘God’ is a difficult word to use because for so many people it’s a bit of a switch-off, go immediately into, “Well what do you mean by ‘God’?” That’s why I always feel safest keeping my feet on the ground and referring to the wind and the rain and the grass, which at least is common human experience.

>>Rick: Yeah. And like as you say, people, there’s all this controversy about what God may be and whether or not you believe in Him and so on, but God is not a concept. I mean, everything is a concept, just for the sake of talking about it we form concepts, but it refers, the word refers to something real, presumably, so what is that Something? And I think you’re pointing to it when you talk about nature.

And it’s most evident there. I mean, you can look at wind and the trees and everything else, and you can see some sort of Intelligence conducting all those processes, that is far more artful than any human can fabricate.

>>John: Well, that’s one way of approaching it. I told you I was accustomed to silence since childhood. My early books on spirituality, I hardly remember what they were really, I don’t think I understood very much about them at all, but I started to meditate when I was 26 and fairly soon – and I used to attend what were called ‘weekly groups’ then – and fairly soon they began to talk about stillness and silence. Well, I thought, almost to my surprise, isn’t that obvious, isn’t it?

It was obvious, it’s always been obvious for me, and particularly alone in the fields, you could hardly not be aware of it. So why was that suddenly equated with such a spiritual practice? It couldn’t be more simple. Ah! And gradually I began to figure things out, that this is what they’d been talking about all the time.

Where does stillness end and God begin? What do we mean by all these high-fluting words anyway? We talk about them as though they were items in the supermarket, as it were, that what they’re talking about really? We’re just swapping ideas, and as you say, “concepts.” Ah, come back, come back, come back and just be. Stop talking.

That’s the great key: stop talking, just come back to listen. Listen to the skylarks and the wind blowing, and you’re right there in that peace that passes understanding, and so much of this mystery becomes very simple. It’s not a thinking process at all, it’s not a reasoning: the world is wonderful, therefore there must be an Intellect behind it, never regard it as that sort of approach.

It’s so simple and practical, it’s not a thinking approach, it’s a realization, a practical realization, that here-now we’re living – well in those days, of course, I thought it was there in the fields, now I’m more accustomed to finding it where I am; it is always here and now.

>>Rick: So in other words, you could now be living in heart of London if you had to for some reason, but that silence, that Presence would be just as palpable there as it is out in the countryside?

>>John: Yes, of course. Yes, exactly. When you get accustomed to it, it’s … of course we do forget, this is our human condition, isn’t it? We forget and we get lost in thought, but practice, good practice, good spiritual practice is always bringing us back to recognize what is already here, from which we have simply wandered away, like that prodigal son.

>>Rick: Mm. Some people criticize spiritual practice because of what you just said, they say, “It’s already here. Why do you need to do anything to get that which is already here?”

>>John: Well only because we’re unnatural, artificial creatures.

>>Rick: And so meditation can sort of restore our naturalness, you’re saying?

>>John: It can restore our connection with naturalness.

>>Rick: Good point, yeah. Another thing that people sometimes say to me, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard this, “You’ve been meditating over 50 years, haven’t you gotten it by now? Why are you still seeking?” Why kind of keep beating a dead horse, so to speak? Do you ever get that one?

>>John: Laughable, “Haven’t you gotten it by now?” Where do you think we’re going? What are you expecting to find? What is it?

>>Rick: Yeah!

>>John: Whatever are you expecting to find? What is “it?”

Look, this stillness, let’s figure out just sitting here, because it’s always much simpler. You and I sitting here – you in America, I’m here in England – and if we just listen, just listen, stop talking for a moment. We’re maybe aware of stillness. Just simple stillness, in which my voice sounds, my eyes blink, there’s a sort of slight hum coming from the computer or something, but the stillness is like an invisible background.

Now where does that stillness end? It has no end does it, because it’s like a gateway to the infinite? And the one of the few things we can safely say about God is that it is infinite. Now infinite has no end, does it? So where does exploration end? The adventure has no end, it goes from better to better, ever more wonderful.

>>Rick: I know that in mathematics they say, well you can take infinity and then you can add something to it – take infinity and add 10, and then you have, in a sense you’ve created a greater infinity, which is kind of an absurdity or contradiction in terms, but mathematicians talk that way.

So in the case of someone like yourself, you’ve been deeply steeped in stillness for a long time but you still meditate quite a few hours a day, and so in your personal experience, do you find that somehow stillness, even though it’s always there, is becoming enriched or deepened or something, through your continued practice?

>>John: It doesn’t become enriched, it is already infinite. What you can do, and this also has end, and there’s a lot we say about two things that have no limit: the foolishness of man and the mercy of God.

Now so long as I’m living in a body that’s going to die, a mortal body with aches and pains, then I am in a corrupted condition. Now infinite, this stillness which is so easily present, it doesn’t die, does it? You and I, generations could die, all the bombs in the world can go off but it doesn’t change it; it is indisruptible, whereas this mortal figure you see sitting on the screen is only too destructible.

Quite soon now I shall die and what’s left? Go into the ground for worms, aren’t I? This is the fate of man, mortality. So I lost the thread of the question, but something about adding something to infinite, yes.

Now this stillness, because stillness, it’s sort of a very approachable word, isn’t it? We could use ‘stillness’ as a sort of something we can comprehend, whereas ‘infinite’ is somehow out of reach really. This stillness, you can think of it like a great umbrella really, a sort of invisible background umbrella that contains the whole world, everything. All the numbers anyone’s ever dreamed of, everything, all the millions and billions of subdivisions that make up what we call creation. It’s all included, you can only add to it what is excluded. So the question is really meaningless isn’t it?

How can you add one to absolute beauty, for example? Or freedom? Or love?

>>Rick: And so what are you adding then by your spiritual practice?

>>John: You’re getting out of the way. You remove the impediments. That’s what spiritual practice does. Now of course to begin with, we don’t like think that John Butler is an impediment, but if you go into the subject deeper you’ll see that mind is constantly throwing up distractions, appetites and things, it’s a very fickle companion. And it is this unruly mind of ours that really gets in the way all the time. And what meditation does is help one to pass through that.

This is the trick really, this is the technique of spiritual practice. You can’t improve God, you can’t make God’s love greater than it is. All we can do is try to diminish the folly, the corruptible folly called John, so that I am not impeding the light.

Look at me. If there’s a light and I put up my hand, I cast a shadow don’t I? You see? It’s as simple as that. My hand is a block to the light, isn’t it? Therefore I project darkness into the world.

If you open your mouth and look inside, what’s inside? It’s dark, isn’t it? So that’s how darkness is created. We stand, as it were, as a block to light, and stillness of course is equatable with light because it has no weight. Stillness is, well, you can carry on the sequence of it further but I can talk more about this later, or maybe I’m straying from the point.

>>Rick: No, you’re doing well.

>>John: We’ll come back to this again and again, that the only problem in the world is me, is this ego – I think that’s a fairly well-known term these days: ego – the I, me, or mine – that thinks of me as a separate entity, body and mind, something called ‘John,’ with all his thoughts and emotions and all that.

When we meditate you see, we transcend, we go beyond, just like an airplane goes through clouds. We go through this overshadowing or these clouds of the mind and access the open sky beyond. Well, there are no “bodies” there, there are no material, mortal bodies up there, and naturally what freedom is, and that is endless. And then it all begins to make sense, we begin to understand what life actually is.

>>Rick: And so has it been your experience that repeated immersion in that sky-like unboundedness of Presence has kind of cultured the instrument that we call John, so that it can embody or better live established in that and not get overshadowed as easily by things?

>>John: Overshadowed as easily by things!

>>Rick: Yeah, no guarantees.

>>John: No guarantees. Although I’m sorry, I’m fumbling with my words but I’ll get into my stride soon.

>>Rick: Oh, that’s alright.

>>John: How could I possibly sit here in front of the screen and say these things unless I had experience of it, enough experience to give me the confidence to express this? It’s not something I’ve read, it’s nothing anybody has told me. Some of the things I read may have confirmed it, but it arises out of actual, practical experience, and that really is its validity.

>>Rick: Feel free to, any time I ask a question and you want to go off in a different direction, feel free to do that because there’s no script here, we’re just playing this as it goes. But as I understand it, you learned meditation at something called ‘The School of Meditation’ in London, which was established or founded by Swami Shantanand Saraswati, right? Who was Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math?

>>John: He guided the school, I never met him. The principle of the school used to go over to India every couple of years or so and have an audience with him, which was then recorded, and these teachings were then conveyed to us students over the course of the weekly groups that I used to go to.

And I count myself very fortunate that I had that introduction to meditation, and I think been I’ve been pretty well-taught and I know no better.

>>Rick: Yeah. I’ll tell you an interesting tidbit which you may not know. Shantanand was the successor to Brahmananda Saraswati, who was the Shankaracharya of Jyotir Math before him and Maharshi Mahesh Yogi was sort of brother disciple to Shantanand in that ashram. Shantanand was a cook and Maharshi was some sort of secretary. And then when Brahmananda Saraswati died there was some controversy about who the successor would be, and it’s a long story but it ended up being Shantanand. And Maharishi was a friend of his and a supporter of his and so on.

And the interesting thing is that these swamis were what is known as dandi swamis. Dandi refers to the stick or staff that they carry. But the dandi swamis practiced an effortless Japa meditation using a mantra – an effortless technique of meditation, which is what Transcendental meditation is and which is what it sounds like your meditation is, what you’ve been practicing.

So I think what you’ve practicing is very akin to what I learned back in the 60s, and it would be interesting perhaps for people to understand the mechanics of it, I could perhaps ask you to explain that. Because you’ve talked a lot already in this interview about naturalness and the beauty of the naturalness – of nature and its naturalness and so on.

But I think that you kind of stumbled upon, we both did, a technique of meditation which employs naturalness and which kind of uses nature’s intelligence rather than individual will or effort to do what it does, and which kind of attunes you to that naturalness in nature’s functioning. That’s a bit of a mouthful but does that resonate with your experience?

>>John: Um, to some extent Rick. Well, I’ve already used the analogy of clouds haven’t I, and I used the analogy of a mantra being rather like an airplane. Is that we’re all, the human problem is really that we are lost in thought, in what you could call the clouds of the mind, that we’re always interpreting and creating, as it were, a secondary, a secondary existence based on me and my experience.

Now, meditation uses a word – ‘mantra’ itself is a word – which if you focus on this word, it diverts your attention away from thinking. If you attend to something with full attention, you can’t at the same time be thinking of something else; that’s the simple principle of it.

You’ve got to do it with full attention, it’s no good if you do it with half attention. If you sit there thinking and maybe do the mantra a few times, it’s better than nothing, but it’s much better if you do it with full attention.

This takes some learning. It’s quite difficult to attend to something for a prolonged period. But then, and this gradually becomes subtler and subtler without your doing anything about it. And gradually you find that somehow this drip of the dispersive mind gives way to a feeling of spaciousness – a peace, or spaciousness, or stillness … any words or any analogies work, they’re all saying the same thing.

And so you realize there’s something beyond the normal thinking mind, and this in a way may rather whet the appetite because it’s a nice experience. It’s absolutely – it can be a bit thrilling, it can be a bit frightening for those of us, until you get used to it. But it simply gives an alternative to this intunement – I like that word here, an intunement within our own personal thinking process, our own personal mind. And really it leads on from there into deeper and deeper and deeper, into that which you find beyond the mind.

There are two aspects of meditation, what we call the ‘inner aspect,’ which I’ve just been describing, which takes place within the mind, and the other called the ‘outer practice,’ which consists of simply giving attention to the here and now. And actually if we do that, it has much the same effect.

If I really, if I really listen to the sound of my voice without doing anything about it, I’m aware that my voice is sounding within stillness, within something which is bigger than my voice. A listening, a reception, a silence which not only my voice, but all voices are contained. Now then, we’re getting into big country aren’t we?

What’s all that about then? It’s really allowing our awareness that what’s already here, it’s really sort of rather like cleaning your eyes so that you see better, it’s rather like removing the debris from our eyes that tend to look at everything and then say, “I like or don’t like.” It’s just looking at what’s here, and when it happens for the first time it’s often amazing. Good heavens!

You just see the table cloth in front of you, and the play of shadows, and the vase and things, amazing. Well, this is just the first step, more and more. You know it’s said that true knowledge, you can’t learn knowledge; it is revealed.

The words of Jesus, “Know what is in thy sight, and all that is hidden will be revealed unto you.” Now that is absolutely it, know what’s in our sight. And not only know what’s in our sight, but in our hearing too. If we listen with attention, the background, really, to it, just expands. The subtly of the vibration, it has no end.

So gradually, and it is a very gradual process, I’ve been meditating now for at least maybe 55 years – a long time! I’m afraid that all the enthusiastic people think they can just sit down or go on a retreat or something and they’ll get it straightaway, but I assure you, you do get something very soon, but the adventure, and it is an adventure, has no end.

>>Rick: You can sit down at a piano and bang a few keys and make a sound on day one, but it takes a while to be a maestro.

>>John: And of course people always say, “Well what’s there? And how do you describe it?” But you can see that words themselves have a limit, have a boundary, and that’s why it’s actually beyond description. Because description can only take you as far as time, and space, and name, and form, and all these things are really limitations encompassing what they appear to mean.

And again if I may quote from the Bible, “Eye hath not seen nor ear heard, neither has entered into the heart of man the things that God has prepared for those that love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9). You see, it’s so much more than what we can even presume to access with our thoughts or mind.

The heart can take us much further when we start functioning from the heart, because the heart brings us into these, into these unlimited aspects, that we’re all familiar with and use every day, and we’re failing to always realize that these things are indescribable. Who’s ever been able to describe love, or freedom, or indeed, life?

>>Rick: Or anything for that matter. I mean, try describing what a mango tastes like. You could hear a two hour lecture on it, you can go home and think about it, but it’s not going to be like tasting one.

>>John: Absolutely Rick, that’s absolutely right. So the word that’s often used in spiritual talk is ‘real-ization,’ it’s when something becomes real to you. And of course we all try with our ways to convey this because it’s so good when you discover something wonderful; we all want to share it, don’t we? I often think that the deepest, the deepest meanings in life are often, it seems, best shared by silence.

>>Rick: Yeah, especially since the deepest meanings are/lie in the realm of silence, and one can only experience that for oneself; it can’t be conveyed verbally or conceptually.

>>John: Something I could say here perhaps is that, to some people perhaps, concepts of stillness and silence seem empty. “What’s there?” they say. Like that airplane going beyond the clouds, well what’s there? Nothing’s there, is it? No thing.

And yet, everything is really, it’s really the causal, “the causal” world is really another way of describing the spiritual world. It’s all, all that we see and hear, the names and forms and creation, are really like precipitations or crystallizations of, of, of what’s there before the name and form.

Like ice. We can pick up ice, we can draw it, we can – it’s an object, isn’t it? It’s a thing. Before ice there is water, before water there is steam, vapor, and then subtler and subtler and subtler sorts of vapor. This is how creation arises, from the unmanifest into the manifest.

And that’s why those that explore Spirit, it’s far from being empty, it’s actually the fullness of everything that appears in limited form in the material world. That’s why there’s no difficulty going deeper into Spirit, because that is the fullness of what we experience on earth, in part. It’s the totality, it’s the oneness of what we know as separation, it’s the undivided wholeness of what we know in little bits here and there, which we’re always trying to put together.

But the wholeness is just found by letting go our identification with the separate part. You don’t “lose” anything, even though you may appear to be just sitting there with your eyes closed in deepest mediation, you’re actually in the fullest possible participation in the creative process, because you have gone to that causal Source of it all and removed the barrier of separation.

That’s why incidentally prayer, which is really another way of describing what I’m doing, is the greatest power on earth.

>>Rick: Pardon? I was just going to say, there are of course levels of prayer, degrees of prayer, and the Christian mystics talk about this. And you know, some are much more discursive or verbal, asking for specific things and so on, but others are much more akin to what you’ve been describing as your meditation experience – very deep, nonverbal, settling into the unboundedness, communion.

>>John: Yes, because you see, as we … separation is really something we manufacture in our own mind, this idea of “me.” You can see it in a little child, how very early on in life it begins to – often encouraged by its parents – to talk about “me” and “mine,” and then divides the world into want, “I want,” and then “I’m John” and somebody else is Sammy, somebody is else is, different names, forms.

This is what we call “growing up,” well actually, we’re really growing into imprisonment, into this, you can see really, life is an imprisonment, where we live a sentence of hard labor and a sentence of death! That’s really what life is, what we call “life.” But of course it isn’t life really, it’s a shadow.

This whole world is really a shadow of Divine origin, but we live in it because we know no better. We try to figure out one bit of dark one’s shadow with another. But those of us who are lucky enough to somehow get drawn into a meditative process, which enables one to sort of let go this fixation on separation and taste the Source, um, we discover a completion. Because everything is contained in its pure existence, and in pure existence there is no corruption, there is no death, there is no killing and eating.

There’s none of this incessant chasing after insatiable desires because one, and it is One, is complete. One is complete. You find completion by letting go of incompletion, and incompletion is “me.” Why are people interested to listen to a program like this? Because they feel in some way that we’re incomplete. You think that somebody else may help to fill out some blocks in your understanding maybe.

Um, I know it’s easy to talk. I hope something, the attitude of what I’m trying to express comes through. I often feel I fumble with words. And I hope even, if you’ll forgive my words, you’ll pick up this unchanging stillness that lies behind the words.

>>Rick: Well you know, people, for thousands of years have been trying to put into words the things that you’re saying today, and I think you’re doing a pretty good job of it. No one has ever been able to completely convey what they were trying to put into words, as we were saying about the mango; you can talk all day about one and it’s still not going to be like tasting one.

But you know, words are how we communicate, and I think that the value of words is not in the words themselves, but perhaps as an inspiration to, um, get one interested in having the experience themselves, you know? You go to a lecture about a mango and that sounds good, I think I’ll go home and buy one and try one, and then you have the taste and, “Oh, now I know what he was talking about.”

>>John: Yes, yes, yes, of course. Communication, well yes, it usually starts with words. Sound waves soon come up against barriers, don’t they? Like anything, if we come back to the stillness, and to a little extent merge in this stillness, you realize that this stillness isn’t confined to this room, is it? It actually is outside the room too. It contains the whole outside too. Where is the end of it?

Is the whole world contained in stillness? And what, it knows no barrier does it? Now, see, stillness, isn’t it the same as silence? Isn’t that the same as peace? Look how many people are longing for peace, and yet it’s so immediately present and really available, isn’t it? Peace.

Now let’s go on a bit further, space. Is space any different? And what do we mean by “spirit” anyway? What is spirit? Is space the same as spirit? Where does one end and the other begin? And isn’t spirit, well, we say that God is Spirit, so where do any of these things begin or end? Or is this simplicity of just being still actually synonymous of what we call “God?”

>>Rick: Be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10).

>>John: Well exactly. This is a very well-known quotation isn’t it? And yet it’s so practical, isn’t it? How can it be more immediately available to us than simply this stillness?  

>>Rick: This is a theme that you’ve been touching upon throughout the last, well, throughout this whole conversation now, and I wanted to sort of interject a comment and have you elaborate on it. But before I do that, I want to remind those who are listening live that if you have a question you’d like to ask John, you can go to the ‘Upcoming Interviews’ page on and scroll down to the bottom, and there you’ll see a form through which you can submit your question.

Yeah, I mean, you’ve been talking about stillness, you’ve been talking about the fact that the world is kind of tumultuous and yet stillness is all-pervading. And so somehow this tumult is happening in the midst of stillness, unbeknownst to most of the people who experience it as tumult. You know, they feel like life is crazy, and I’m upset, and I’m afraid, and this and that, and yet they have this treasure within of deep silence and deep stillness, which they could access if they had a means to do so.

And you’ve talked about your meditation practice and you talked about subtler and subtler – meditation leading one to subtler and subtler levels of thinking or of experience. And I’m reminded of an example that we could use, that is, if you and I were to shout what we were saying right now at the top of our lungs, people would probably have to turn their speakers down; it would probably be really obvious and gross.

Speaking in this tone of voice, they don’t have to turn their speakers down, they can still hear us. Or we could just start thinking what we’re saying right now and people wouldn’t hear us at all, but we’d still hear ourselves.

And so in the same direction, there are yet subtler levels of thought which we ourselves don’t experience because they’re too subtle; we don’t experience a thought until it becomes sufficiently loud in the mind or gross. And so what meditation does is it enables you to sort of, step by step, traverse those subtler levels of thought right back down to the field of silence or stillness from which they emerge.

And then as you say, to just sort of marinate there – you didn’t say that! – but to rest and reside there and kind of imbibe that stillness into your mind and body, your physiological functioning.

And when you come back to the field of activity, you bring it with you to some extent. It naturally is able to be retained or stabilized in the midst of dynamic activity. You could be, you know, doing something very busy in the marketplace and yet it stays with you to some extent. And that grows over the years, which gets us back to this question of, why would you want to meditate for 55 years? Well, it just continues to grow.

>>John: Well, yes. But may I come back to very simple, ordinary, natural behavior? Now I happen to live in a little tourist center in the middle of a beautiful part of England, and many people come here on sunny days in summer, there’s a lovely river just down the road.

And they just sit by the river there and maybe feed the ducks and just feel the quietness of the water flowing by, have their fish and chips, let the children play, let the dog run in the park, and at the end of the day they go back and they say, “I’ve had a lovely day,” they feel better for it.

Now this is a district of hills, great walking country, and many thousands of people come from the cities roundabout with their hiking boots on and go for a walk up in the hills, and again, without any thought of being spiritual; they just feel better for it.

Now years ago, when everybody had a coal fire in their house, there were no televisions, people would just sit by the fire at the end of the day and watch the embers, maybe the wife would knit, do her knitting and mending, and that brought people peace. They loved it, naturally, probably didn’t even think of peace, they just, it was natural.

Now life is full of these, these natural what you could call “meditations,” because meditation is as natural as just that, as natural as going for a walk in the country or taking the dog out. It doesn’t, you know, people always known the Presence of God, it’s only when they got so clever that they began to doubt it.

One of the notable things about real experience is that there is no doubt or question about it. Doubts and questions lie entirely of, in this part of a human (pointing to the head). And truth is actually utterly simple, it’s the simplest thing, the simplest thing there is. It’s simplicity itself, just like sitting here, hearing these words, and just feeling the peace, the stillness.

And all the walls in all the world aren’t big enough to interrupt this peace, it’s universal. And all the little human, you know, irritations that go on, even pains of your body are contained within this.

So, I didn’t get along when people start talking too much about, “Oh, I ought to meditate,” or something like that, because life, one of the first things, most importantly, is just to stop talking. I really think this is the first step in the spiritual life, is just to stop talking. Just be quiet.

And then, do what you love. If you ask people what they love doing, it very often brings you to just some simple thing, and that gathers all your interest and it really goes to what you love, to what you find attractive.

>>Rick: It’s true John, but you know, even in your own life, you were doing what you loved, you were living in the country, you were farming, you did some travelling around the world and this and that, and yet you had your problems and your difficulties and your heartbreaks, and you didn’t feel there was a lack of contentment.

Yes, and then you learned to meditate and you did that, and that gradually, over the years, contentment grew. And as you say, everybody in the world takes walks or looks at a fire or does, has their peaceful moments, and yet you alluded to wars, which are the opposite of peace.

So obviously, there have been a lot of horrible situations in life and yet all of that, you know, on the foundation of stillness and Presence, and yet apparently, those who were perpetrating those things weren’t very well tuned-in to that stillness or Presence. And so, you know, perhaps a collective attunement to that would be beneficial for humanity.

>>John: I suppose. You’re quite right in what you say. Nearly all spiritual life, it starts with, with one’s own self-interest: what’s in it for me? Very soon, as you, as identification with “me” begins to loosen and expand, it begins to include a wider, wider world.

It’s said that the second step in mediation is with and for other people, and for me of course I always thought in terms of animals and the land. And then there’s a further step even beyond that, when we meditate for the love of the work itself. ‘Work,’ by the way, is what I’d call spiritual work, which is the work of dealing with all this, with the realm of darkness, of course, or the works of dark, or the unpleasantness in life, the confront in life, which if it doesn’t come from your own self, it comes from all around you, and we have to face this day by day and deal with it.

And indeed, as the deeper and stronger we become at our own practice, the more it seems we are given to cope with, we’re more, we somehow embrace all the, all the troubles of the world. And again, I often think of the words of Jesus: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Galatians 6:2) – the law of truth.

Bear ye one another’s burdens, and indeed this is part of the work, at least what I tend to now call “the work” of prayer. Yes, I listen to the news, I’m well aware of what’s going on in the world. I’ve had a very full experience of life myself, I’ve seen, not only been through awful depression and troubles in my own life, but I’ve seen much of the world. I’m no stranger to the works of dark.

And somehow all this is brought to peace in … well, perhaps even better than that because I’ve already alluded to prayer, of course in all spiritual work, one’s own understanding of what is meant by these things, it grows and develops through many, many years of life.

I really think of prayer and meditation as the same thing. I know one starts thinking of God as something over there to whom you ask for something and meditation has a slightly different approach, but they come together. And indeed what really gives this work meaning, at least in my state of life, is this worldwide absorption or realization of the human agony and its redemption in the work of, through prayer, in the all-perfecting love of God and Spirit.

And then, and again you know, this again is something hard for people to understand, that when you’re blessed with times of light, enlightenment, there is no more darkness. There really isn’t. Does the sun see shadow? In the light there is no dark.

“But, but,” everybody says, “what about Syria or crimes?” or something, well, I showed you before how my hand casts a shadow, doesn’t it? And how this shadow is actually the beginning of what creates the work of dark, which is everything that we call “wrong” in life.

And as you learn to – and of course you can’t cut your hands off, can’t get rid of my body, it’s still like that – but as you lose your identification with this and as it were, more merge into the light and no longer function as an impediment to this light, then what stops the light? What stops the light flooding the world? And in that light, what happens to this appearance of darkness? Is it as real as we think? What happens to death? What happens to depression? It just melts away as mist before the sun.

People say, “Why does God make a world like this?” This is made by you and me. This is what man does with it. This is a projection of man’s blindness. The world is what we make it. The real world is perfect, is heaven, is the kingdom of God, and there’s no darkness there at all. There’s no separation. One, one complete perfection; that is the destiny of man, that’s what we’re called to.

And you referred in that reading you made first of all, how as a young man of 20, 26 I think, in South America, I seemed to receive this message: “To make whole, be whole,” of course I didn’t understand what it meant then, and almost the whole of my life’s been spent trying to understand a deeper meaning of what that meant. But I think I’m nearer understanding it now, that in wholeness, or holiness, everything is whole. That’s really how it is.

>>Rick: So are you saying that as one becomes less and less an impediment to the light, one at the same time – to the degree that one does become less of an impediment – one at the same time becomes kind of a transmitter of the light and helps to infuse it into the darkness, or to illuminate the darkness.

>>John: So deeply embedded is this idea that “I have to be instrumental in this process!”

>>Rick: No, no, I’m saying that if there’s less of the “I,” then the inner light can shine through without impediment, not that I am shining light on things, but that light within is passing through. Well there’s that saying in, you know, the Bible, “A lens … seeing through a lens darkly” (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12), as if the lens is occluded, and then William Blake talked about “cleaning the windows of perception. So there are these metaphors about a lens or a glass or something that’s dirty and isn’t allowing light to pass through very well.

>>John: Yes, yes. All these are relevant at different stages on the way but ultimately, one merges in the One, and there’s no more two. And that’s how it is, there’s no more instrumentality about it. One, and no more two.

It really cannot be described. Why do I still meditate? I’m not sure that I have a reason really.

>>Rick: Or that you need one, even!

>>John: I’m not even really sure what I do any longer. I go through the process of sitting down, I don’t really know what happens, I suppose I’m taken in some way.

>>Rick: Yeah, you say in your book …

>>John: And yet, and yet, sorry to interrupt.

>>Rick: No, go ahead, I’m sorry.

>>John: And yet, there is nothing, nothing in life more meaningful. It is, it is the completeness of that which we call life is but a shadow. Sorry Rick, I’ll get back to you.

>>Rick: No, that’s okay. I was just playing off the point you made that you said in your book, “Realization comes not at our bidding, but as it were, from the other side.” So it’s not like you’re doing something, it’s more like you’re…

>>John: On this long process, and bear in mind, I’ve been practicing for 55 years. Twice a day, without fail, for 55 years I’ve been doing it. So, if anybody starts on this journey, do be prepared for the long haul, and it’s said that the most important requirement is determination.

And there’s another thing I sometimes throw in, I think in many ways it helps to be a pretty unhappy individual, as I was and have been, because if you’re really miserable in this life, there’s a motive to find, look for something better, turn to something different.

>>Rick: I think you’re right, and you might be more likely to notice a contrast when you do turn to something better, and that will motivate you.

>>John: Yes, yes. It’s funny, looking back now I can see all my periods of despair and misery actually as …

>>Rick: Goads!

>>John: Actually as aids on the way. I’m quite sure this life is like a school in which we learn by our mistakes, and we never stop learning. But keep plodding on my friends, don’t give up even though it seems to be getting, you know…

>>Rick: Ah, you know, but I, when you use words like ‘long haul’ and ‘determination’ and ‘plodding on’ and so on, it makes it sound like a drudgery or a tedious journey, and I don’t think you would characterize it that way.

>>John: On this journey of meditation, and this also is quite an important point, I’ve never, ever in all my years ever experienced anything bad, frightening, or sinister. So, it is a light, it is a journey from darkness into light, from confusion into simplicity, and, and it’s, you can’t argue with it.

It’s, even at the very beginning, it’s a real experience; it isn’t something that you can read about in books or be told. You know, just sitting here I can look at a screen or I can turn and look at the sky through the window. Now the screen has its, it’s like the performance, aren’t we, we’re doing this in this context of a, of a Skype interview.

Now out there is a sky, and there in contrast is like a freedom, isn’t there, an infinite dimension, and meditation is like that, you can’t argue about it, because when you turn from what is small and limited to what is less limited, you instantly recognize it.

And then of course we come back into this world again, but something of that, of that other dimension, gradually, gradually permeates our existence, our mortal existence.

>>Rick: Did Shantanand ever use the analogy of dying a cloth? They use this in India sometimes. You take a cloth and dip it in colored … a cloth, like a piece of fabric. Take it and dip it into colored dye and then you bleach it in the sun, and then you dip it in the dye and then you bleach it in the sun.

And each time it bleaches in the sun it loses, it retains a bit more of its color until eventually it’s colorfast – whether it’s in the dye or in the sun, same color. So, it’s kind of what you’re describing here.

>>John: Yes, yes, certainly that, and many, many other analogies are used, indeed. Yes, the wave and the ocean, I’ve already said mist before the sun.

>>Rick: What’s your, I’m sorry, go ahead.

>>John: No, no.

>>Rick: I was going to ask you about God. Presence, silence, stillness, we’ve used those sorts of words, but obviously most of the religious Scriptures of the world talk about “God” a lot, and they also talk about Presence and silence, but would you equate the two or is there, are we implying something even more profound or significant when we use the term ‘God?’

>>John: Everybody, well not everybody, but many people have a very definite concept of God, or were brought up on a verbal formulation that we repeat with more or less understanding of what it means.

I’m a little bit wary of entering into religious language because of so many people have so many interpretations of it. When I was a young farmer I was very impressed how the fact that my feet would crush the grass under my feet. Now I loved grass, I’ve always loved grass, and you’ve only got to just kneel down and observe grass, especially an old pasture, which we have many in England, to see the wonder of it – the delicacy, the beauty, the order, the unbelievable, miraculous miracle and wonder of what grass is, and of the phrase, “The forgiveness of nature, growing over all the mess that we make of it.”

Well, I think I … because you know the phrase, “The Lamb of God?” (John 1:29), I’ve kept sheep many years, I’ve always loved sheep, and as I began to observe my own and observe what happens to sheep, the life of sheep, this phrase, “The Lamb of God,” meant evermore to me. The way that these innocent creatures are sacrificed to provide for man, of course, food for man.

Why should it be like that? Why should this lovely grass be trodden down, broken and bruised under my feet? Still more when motor cars drive over it or something, without a second thought. And then I began to think of Jesus, the Lamb of God, broken for our sins, sacrificed for our sins, where does Jesus end and my lambs or the grass begin? Is Jesus just a human embodiment, 2,000 years ago, written about in the Bible?

Isn’t Jesus, as He Himself says, “I am with you always?” (Matthew 28:20). What do we mean by that? Do we see a man in white clothes walking about? No! We see lambs, don’t we, and grass. Well then, aren’t the lambs Jesus? Isn’t the grass, isn’t every blade of grass Jesus? Again, the Scripture tells us “all” – in all, everything is Jesus.

Everything is the Spirit that we call “God,” crystalized or incarnate in this world in which we live, and dying, being sacrificed, consumed for our sins, which is my projection of darkness. I project darkness because I’ve turned away from God. I am a sinner.

Fortunately you haven’t asked me the question, am I a Christian or something like that, because I feel much safer saying “I am a sinner,” because I am, and for 80 years I’ve done my best to obstruct the light and created the works of darkness. And so for my sin lambs are killed, the innocent die, and the grass is crushed. And this really was, I’m beginning to sort of get in my stride now, you see!

>>Rick: Oh good, you’re all warmed up here!

>>John: This really became the great motivation for me to practice ever more and more and more, as I began to realize that it was my responsibility how my beloved nature has suffered, how I was the cause of that suffering, not because of plastic bags and this sort of stuff, but because of what went on in my silly head! This is the original pollution.

We’ve put all, you know, our outer pollution which we typically think of as, “If we clear up pollution it will be better,” but dear friends, if only you’d attend to cleaning up the pollution in our own mind, you’d be a lot more effective! And so for this Christ is crucified literally, in every creature on earth, it is incarnate God – God in everything.

And I remember sort of how step by step, perhaps I’m really, it seems so simple and obvious to me now at the end of my long life, but it’s been thrillingly exciting as little, by little, by little, I began to realize what it’s all about, what ever they mean when they talk of sin and Christ and redemption.

And you asked me what we mean by “God,” well, and If I would even venture to confide within words, but God to me is, as I’ve said to you, is perhaps the best way I can convey what I understand by it, is taking this simple stillness and just keep expanding it, expanding it beyond all limits, to where it has no end.

>>Rick: Some might ask, based upon what you just said that okay, you wanted to diminish the footprint, so to speak, of your life on nature, the damage you might be inadvertently doing through your actions, you know, “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do” (cf. Luke 23:34) – you wanted to diminish that.

And some might ask, “Okay, well have you stopped eating lambs?” You know?

And there was a passage in your book where you had this pet pig who followed you around everywhere and you eventually had to slaughter him, and it took you three years to eat all the pork that you got from that, and that might seem kind of contradictory in some people’s minds. How do you reconcile that, that kind of thing, as a farmer?

>>John: Well yes, yes, I know this. One can get awfully bogged down in these things, can’t we? Um, well, it is a very humbling process to recognize, I’ll use this word ‘sin’ if you don’t mind. I know it’s rather politically unacceptable now but to a degree …

>>Rick: As long as we define it so that everybody knows what we’re using the word for.

>>John: It’s very illustrative of our human condition. And because we are all sinners and we cannot not partake of this, of the consequence of sin, we all have to share in the corporate guilt, if you like, of sin, and bear the burden of what we have caused, and realize that it’s only through the grace of this spiritual radiation which one may turn towards, that one can, again words, words. I must be very careful of what I say or I’ll say something foolish.

You know the words at the time of Jesus’s crucifixion, “Not My will but Yours be done?” (Luke 22:42) We use the expression “God knows,” don’t we? I don’t know. I think one thing meditation has taught me is gradually to trust in myself less, and in this, in God more. The less of me, the more of God (cf. John 3:30), is a phrase I like to use.

The less of me, the more of God. And perhaps there’s no quality more suitable to our human condition than that of humility, or realizing that without that spiritual grace we can do nothing and that in surrender to that, the inadequacy of John to really do anything very much, apart from writing a few books and fumble about with words in an interview like this, is, is, is surrendering to that which we call “Almighty” and “All-Merciful.”

And the deeper one gets into that, the more you realize that that, perhaps particularly that second description – “All-Merciful” – is absolutely true. I spoke previously of the foolishness of man and the mercy of God, the wisdom of God that governs all things. Why does He allow wars? Well, you see, it’s all a great lesson for us. We learn by our mistakes.

God doesn’t create any bad, there’s no dark in the real world. In the real world, there’s light. What’s described in Revelation is absolutely correct – there is no dark. It’s life, full life, as we cannot even conceive of with our human concepts.

Yes, we’re all tarred with the same brush, we’re all sinners, we all, even if you stop eating meat you’re going to eat something. Do you think if you eat vegetables that you’re killing anything less? You can’t do anything, you can’t function, everything. You can’t breathe without breathing in microbes and killing them, you can’t walk without treading on things and killing them. Your very existence is, again, the Bible says, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake” (Genesis 3:17), as when Adam left Paradise, which is all our natural home, Paradise.

And bear in mind there was only one Adam. Man was singular then, man hadn’t divided himself. That is the union, that is the true communion. Not communion with some thing, but union, one. And then you go into separation and cursed is the ground.

And of course this, everyone’s talking about it now, we call it a new word called ‘conservation’ or something, but the whole world is infected with this disease of sin, which is actually is humanity, is mortality. That which we so esteem as human is actually a shadow of Divine origin, it’s a sort of inversion of real life. It is literally a disease, that’s why it is full of corruption. It is, isn’t it?

No matter how healthy you try to live, we’re all, you’re going to die. That’s the wages of sin, is death. Whatever dies isn’t real life, and what in this world doesn’t die? Because the whole world is infected with man’s disease, or sin, and that’s why to return, to come back, to come back to our senses.

In that story of the prodigal son that you quoted there’s a very important phrase. He was feeding the pigs, wasn’t he, and he came back to his senses. He probably, that literally means he opened his eyes, he listened, he saw where he was and he said, “I will arise and go home” (cf. Luke 15:18). And the father came to meet him with open arms, didn’t he?

The father ran to meet him with open arms. And you know, in the depths of meditation, far beyond where you and I can “do” anything, the door is open from the other side. And you get these, what might almost be described as love running to meet us, with open arms. This spiritual love that holds this, not only you and me but the whole of creation in those open arms.

Remember, the less of me, the more of God, and that in truly, in truly surrendered meditation or prayer, long after you’ve forgotten about your own separate ego, there is actually, you’re no longer limited. It becomes a, it becomes an unlimited process.

That’s why it’s true to say that I am also the first of sinners, because I’m the one that turns away in the first place. And “I Am” is also the name of Christ.

>>Rick: As I recall, the etymology of the word sin is that it means, ‘to miss the mark.’ And you know, perhaps the attenuation of sin involves sort of, as you’ve been saying, surrendering to God more and more so that, presuming that God, if God were the complete motivator of our actions, they would hit the mark, they would be in tune with the will of God. And you know, to the extent that we’re involved, some egotistical volition, then we kind of divert that will of God and end up missing the mark.

>>John: Indeed, indeed. We grope for words, don’t we? Such is our human compulsion.

>>Rick: Well there’s a lot of terminology like that, you know, like you were quoting Jesus: “Thy will be done, not Mine,” and so there’s always this theme of, let me get out of the way so that Thy will can be done.

>>John: Yes. Well, yes. I don’t know where the process ends. But here and now, whatever we make of our human situation, whatever condition it’s in, there is this stillness, isn’t there, this Presence. Just listen to it. It’s so immediate, isn’t it? Like an invisible hand that we can hold. It’s like I can put out my hand and hold it.

“Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil, for Thou art with me. Thy and rod and Thy staff comfort me” (Psalm 23:4). How true that is! And how many countless generations have used those lovely words for their funeral service, even though they wouldn’t call themselves sophisticated spiritual people?

>>Rick: I love that 23rd Psalm. My grandmother used to read it to me, you know, every night when I was a boy.

>>John: It was so widely known, wasn’t it?

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>John: I’m so grateful I was taught these things as a boy. I really grieve for modern children who under some sort of political correctness are somehow deprived of this great heritage of these lovely words.

>>Rick: It’s amusing that when you were a young man you contemplated being a priest for a while, and that apparently the authorities told you, you weren’t Christian enough! It’s kind of ironic.

>>John: Well soon after I learned meditation. I was so thrilled by it. I’d been reading Christian devotional books then and I thought, “This is exactly what it’s all about!” Suddenly it all began to make sense. So I went off to the local Bishop and wanted to be a priest to share this knowledge, but yes, I’ve lived most of my life under this, this label which, half of which I’m sorry about, half of which, in a funny way, proud of: not sufficiently Christian!

The Church is a little bit more open now than it was when I started.

>>Rick: Well you know, I think it would do Church people good, it would do them well to study a little astronomy. There’s something like 40 billion earth-like planets in our galaxy and an estimated 10 trillion galaxies in the known universe, and I presume that any inhabited planet has had numerous religions on it, all of them, most of them claiming to be the only one. So if you kind of put that in perspective it’s like, you could be little bit more humble.

>>John: Well, I do have, I do have great respect for the, for the Christian teachings. I said to you, I think our mistake is we keep Christ too small. And I think for me meditation, as I was describing realizing that in fact every lamb, every animal that is sacrificed for us is, to my understanding – I know some people will be enraged by what I say, but – but for me that is Christ.

Everything is Christ, and in my service to that, I, well, as we say, thank God, God judges, finally.  And I would just like to come back because we’re getting into rather deep water when we speak, of this utter simplicity of this stillness that is so near, without any pretentious names of it being Christ or anything else, is just this simple, immediate rest. Rest is another good word for it.

Rest, silence, stillness, peace – they’re all the same. It is, hopefully you’re picking up some of it just maybe from hearing my voice, hearing this interview.

>>Rick: Oh I am. I think you have a very soothing, settling effect. In fact, somebody took the audio of the ConsciousTV interview you did with Ian McNay and put up a YouTube video that’s called something like, I think it was like “The Best Cure for Insomnia,” or something like that! Because your voice is so soothing!

>>John: I’m greatly amused by this, and also this ASMR that some people, because I had no idea what ASMR was…

>>Rick: I don’t either, what is that?

>>John: I’ll send it to you, but it’s some new word that people are using for that sort of soothing voice. But you know, it can’t really, it’s not really my voice, but it probably has something to do with my many, many years of surrender to this, this real soothing, the real comfort, which is this Spiritual Presence.

And that again, in the Bible Jesus says, refers to the Spirit as “the Comforter,” doesn’t He? And It is that.

>>Rick: Well that’s kind of what I was alluding to before when I spoke of transmitting something, because I think it kind of permeates one’s makeup after a while, and one can’t help but sort of radiate that quality, you know?

>>John: I still feel safer to call myself a sinner than a conveyor of anything better!

>>Rick: Well, that’s okay.

>>John: If some people pick that up, well, glory be to God, not me.

>>Rick: Yeah, nice. So, let’s, to wrap it up, you know, if you were to sort of try to say in a sentence or two, you know, what the essential lesson or wisdom is that you have learned in this life, that you could impart to or bequeath to anyone who cares to pick it up, what would that be? Doesn’t even have to be two sentences, you can go on a little bit, if you want to.

>>John: Well you’ve asked me to put it into words, but I always feel safest really when, when I’m silent. Um, but if you press me to put it into words, perhaps, the less of me the more of God.

>>Rick: Good, and we can leave it at that. I don’t know if you want to elaborate on that because that kind of says it all, doesn’t it?

>>John: And it’s always now. It’s always in the here and now. This has become quite fashionable now hasn’t it, to talk about …

>>Rick: Yeah, Eckhart Tolle.

>>John: Yes, been very good at conveying this but it’s been a timeless message, that God is present and all that our human, all that we yearn and hunger for is to be found in those words: the less of me, the more of God.

Paradise awaits us. It’s real, it’s really real! It’s not a matter of belief, it’s a matter of experience, the real experience. So dear friends, be encouraged.

>>Rick: Yeah.

>>John: Tread the pilgrim’s way, face the ups and downs. Takes courage, very often. Paths of darkness.

>>Rick: I think we could say also that that paradise that awaits us is really everyone’s birthright, it’s not anything that’s kind of an exclusive privilege of a few. It’s something that we all universally have access to, if we choose to take advantage of that access.

>>John: We always think in terms of plural, don’t we?

>>Rick:  Mm-hmm.

>>John: Of “we.” But actually, as we surrender our separate existence, we draw closer to one, undivided reality. And you see, when, even when just for a moment one gets a taste of this undivided oneness, then what is excluded? What is separate existence? Are all these egos as real as we think? Now there’s a question.

Don’t we all die? Are we as real as we think? What happens to a nightmare when we wake up in the morning? What happens to it? What happens to darkness when you switch on the light? So where are all these hundreds and thousands of people cuing up to be enlightened?

I used to think as a child, when I first heard about heaven, well, where does God put all the people? What is? You talk about the prayer of the saints, well are they just repeating “Our Father which art in heaven” over and over again? What’s it all mean?

That’s why I struggled for many, many, many years with all these theological concepts; what on earth does it mean? Am I failing because I can’t get it? And then I, then, and it took me many, many, years to be as sort of confidently acquainted with unity, with oneness, as I am now. But truly, in oneness there are no more separate, separation left.

The whole world of separation, all these millions and billions of people, and never mind people, billions of ants, and animals – we’re all in the same cart as it were. It’s simply, it’s just, it’s just works of darkness, it disappears, it’s like a dream.

When you wake up it’s no longer like that, there’s only one, one perfection, one completion. To make whole, be whole. Do you think I figured it out at long last what it actually means? It’s taken me, it’s taken me well-nigh 60 years!

>>Rick: Well I think you’ve made it clear that you didn’t figure it out through some clever intellectual process. Even the word “figure it out” doesn’t do justice to it because it sort of resolved itself as your experience really matured and blossomed.

>>John: Yes exactly, yes. And yet we can’t not figure it out as long as figuring it out is real for you. In other words, I think we can’t avoid this long, slow, painful process of dealing with our separate existence step by step, unmasking it, and that’s why I so esteem this blessed practice of meditation which in a way does it for us.

And so we don’t know, we just follow this practice, and well, miraculous ways, it happens. That’s really all I’ve done, I’ve just plodded on with practice, through a long life.

>>Rick: Well, as I think they say, what was it, Star Trek: “Live long and prosper.” I think you’ve done that, although prosper would not necessarily, I don’t think Leonard Nimoy meant it in the financial sense when he said that in Star Trek, and I think you’ve done that, admirable. And it’s really kind of an honor to spend some time with you.

>>John: Thank you very much. May I just say, God bless you all.

>>Rick: Thank you, John. So let me just make a couple of quick concluding remarks. I’ve been speaking with John Butler. John lives in, I believe it’s called Bakewell, which is in Northern U.K. someplace, or, yeah.

And you know, if you’re planning to go to the U.K. and like to visit John, I think he’d be open to that. You might want to get in touch through his website to make sure he’s feeling up to it or going to be there or whatever, but you can go and meditate with him in the church, or perhaps have some tea and have a chat, or something like that. And I think it would be a very edifying experience.

So, thank you John. And thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching and we’ll see you next week. Next interview will be with Bonnie Greenwell, who’s been on Buddha at the Gas Pump before. And we’ll be discussing some different material than we discussed in the first interview, but Bonnie is quite knowledgeable about Kundalini and various mechanics of physiological transformation that take place during the spiritual journey.

So thanks for listening, and we’ll see you then.

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