Victoria Ukachukwu Transcript

Victoria Ukachukwu Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. We’ve been doing this for almost 13 years and that represents over 650 interviews. If this is new to you and you’d like to check out some of the previous ones, go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, there are PayPal buttons on the website and a page which offers alternatives to that. My guest today is Victoria Ukachukwu. She’s a trained scientist with a PhD in organic chemistry from Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, mother of two daughters. And she told me earlier that her name– was it of God or word of God?

Victoria: Word of God.

Rick: Word of God. So chukwu means God in Nigerian language, and uka must mean word of, right?

Victoria: Uka means word. See, there’s no of in there, but it means – the of is implied in the first part of that construction. That’s that word, yeah.

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: Ukachu.

Rick: So you came to my attention– I forget exactly how. There was some email or something, some web page that I stumbled across, and I saw you listed there with two or three other people, and I read a brief bio of you. And I thought, well, she would be real interesting to interview. And unlike most of the people that I’ve interviewed, you haven’t done YouTube videos, you haven’t written books, you’re not a professional teacher or anything, but we like people like that on this show because one of the original motivations for starting it was to show people that you don’t have to be some kind of special person in order to be spiritually awakened. In fact, the subtitle of the whole show is “Conversations with Ordinary, Spiritually Awakened People.” And that’s the impression we’re trying to convey, that this is something for everybody. It’s not extraordinary. It’s everyone’s birthright, in a way. So I’m glad we found you.

Victoria: Well, thank you for inviting me. I’m glad to be here.

Rick: Yeah. So I got the impression from the bio you sent that for most of your life, as is the case with most people, you identified primarily with your normal human identity, your marital status, your profession, your training, things like that. And you said in your bio that over time this identity began to feel very limiting. And you began to have questions about God and the nature of reality. And science wasn’t answering those questions for you. Neither was the Catholic religion in which you were raised. And then in 2010, which will be 12 years ago now, you discovered the teachings of non-duality. And things really began to blossom. So maybe you can take it from there and tell us what happened, how things proceeded.

Victoria: So as you noted, you captured it quite well. I, up through graduate school, actually, part of going to grad school was to answer some of the questions that came up for me about reality and the nature of our existence here on Earth. And some of those within the domain of science, I would say I got some answers. But the larger question, you know how you have a question, it gets answered, and then more questions come up. It gets answered, and more questions come up. So I grew up a Catholic. I was raised a Catholic. And so, of course, I had a strong belief, background in God, in a God. And in a God that is somewhere called heaven. And I would often plead and pray and beg and petition this God as issues came up for me. But I think it came to a head once I finished graduate school. I was having some personal issues relating to marriage difficulties, difficulty in my marriage, which later ended. And I felt like at this point in my life, I should be able to handle whatever came up, solve any problem. Only to realize that was just the beginning of the restlessness in terms of feeling like I really don’t have any control over anything over at least of all my life, much more the universe, questions about the universe. That’s when I started– I became curious. And one of the first exposures I had was a book about on the nature of reality that was published by Jane, who channeled–

Rick: Roberts, Jane Roberts.

Victoria: Jane Roberts, yes. I don’t know how I came across that book. I came across it in a library while I was still in grad school. Nature of reality sounded really fascinating. But I read the book, I think it was a two-sequence book, volumes one and two. To be honest with you, I had no idea what she was talking about. It just went over my head at that point in time. So I put it aside. Grad school would have been 19– now I’m talking about 1985 to ’87, about that time when I read this book. And I put it away and got busy with professional life and raising my daughters. Then in 2009, I had a real challenge professionally. I’d been– and I’m not going to name the institution – I was a chemistry professor and went into administration. And then there was a merger. It was a big, big merger that upended everything. I had been there for a while and thought I was building something. And that just threw me for a loop. Many people left and I pondered, should I stay, should I go? But anyway, I’m not going to get into all that. I say that to say that that was what really drove me to seriously asking, what is this all about? At this point, having done all this, I thought I had done everything. They said, if you did that, you would make a good life for yourself. None of that, none of that. Didn’t happen that way. That’s when I went back. And I’m going to say this. I went back. I went to a bookstore to look for a book on the nature on reality and God. And as I was looking through the books, a book fell. And the book was The Presence Process by Michael Brown. He’s not well, I don’t know if you know him.

Rick: I’ve heard of him. I don’t know much about him, but I’ve heard of him.

Victoria: He’s from, I believe, originally from South Africa.

Rick: And it actually fell off the shelf.

Victoria: It fell off the shelf. And I go to pick it up because I thought I had knocked it down, I go to pick it up and it says The Presence Process. And I looked at it. I’m like, what is The Presence Process? So I started flipping through, read the introduction. The introduction was about – he had some health challenges, serious health challenges that he overcame. And this process was describing how he overcame it. And the introduction was well done because he was emphasizing the fact that it doesn’t have to be a health problem. It could be any challenge. And this is the way to find the answers that you were seeking. Wow. I’m like, that’s what I was looking for. And I picked up the book, went to pay for the book. And it had some– it apparently was a used book, which I didn’t know. So the cashier starts to ring it up and say, oh, I see it has some markings. Well, since it appears to be a used book, you get it free.

Rick: That’s nice. I just want to add that there seem to be little elves that hang out in bookshelves and knock books off shelves because this isn’t the first time I’ve heard somebody say that. They’re standing there and all of a sudden this book falls off and it’s exactly what they needed.

Victoria: Unbelievable. So that’s why I took it. It was a process. And right now, in retrospect, it’s really– it introduced me to meditation. He didn’t call it meditation. It was just a sitting, 20 minutes in the morning and 20 minutes at night, right? And basically, before bed. Basically, what it was is be still. No matter what was happening, be still, right? But anyway, so I did that. I followed the process, finished it. But here’s the interesting thing. He warned that if you follow this to the end, something unexpected may happen. Don’t be alarmed. Don’t do anything about it. Don’t go running off looking. Don’t be frightened. And sure enough, I woke up one morning, I start limping. There was no physical, no obvious ailment, nothing. It felt like an ankle strain. I was really limping on one leg. I’m like– and prior to that, I had no issues at all. No leg issues, no health problems. So I remembered what he said. I said, OK, I’m just going to watch it. Ordinarily, I would have picked up the phone and called the doctor, and gone to see a doctor. I did not do that because he had said that, especially I didn’t fall, I didn’t bump into anything. So I continued the meditation. Within three days, it cleared. So what that did was give me faith in what he was sharing. That was my first foray into this.

Rick: Spirituality.

Victoria: Spirituality. Otherwise, it was just Catholic, go to church and pray. So I finished this Presence Process. And the questions kept coming to me, which way to go, which way forward professionally. I was debating whether to stay where I was or move. And I kept– and so incessant thought, what do I do? What do I do? What do I do? And then as I was– one afternoon, I was just sitting on the couch. One of those lazy afternoons, you’re not particularly doing anything, just– and thoughts are coming and going. And it was about, what do I do? What do I do? And then this clear– here I heard clearly, be more, do less. Rick, you have to understand, at that point, I knew nothing about non-duality, or spiritual teachings. So then that became my obsession. Because it was a voice, it wasn’t a thought. It was very clear. And I said, and so the question was, be more, do less. What does that mean? I’m not used to not doing anything. If I wanted something to happen, I have to do something about it. And this guidance was in direct response to my question, what do I do? And it’s telling me, be more, do less. So then I decided to not do anything, and stay where I was, and just see what happened.

Rick: Not do anything, meaning stay on the couch, or in general, in terms of your career situation?

Victoria: Yes, in terms of all those things I was thinking about doing, yeah, just be more. Be more, do less. So how do I be more? And now, you see, that came on the heels of doing the Presence Process. So then I dove more into meditation, using the process in Michael Brown’s book. And that’s what I was– and then just going about my life normally, and letting things be as they are, and seeing what happens. I still was a little bit anxious, and concerned about what do I do, and so on and so forth. But waiting for guidance, if you will. I’m going to just do the meditation, because that’s how I know to be more, and see what happens. That’s when a video popped up in my YouTube. I was on YouTube, and I see this video with, I forget how many million views. Just the number of views. And it was The Laughing Buddha. That’s the title of the video. And it was the first time I heard of Mooji, that video. He was with somebody, and they were talking about something. I don’t even remember what it was. But they were both laughing uncontrollably. So and then in that, there was a caption that says, “To learn more about non-duality and meditation, and how to access your true– something about accessing the true self, which is the source of everything in our lives. Go here.” So then I went, and I went to his website, and saw some more meditations. And then I started trying those. This was in 2010. Nothing much came of that. But that led me to your website, because you had interviewed him. That interview was on his website. So then I said, OK, let me see what this is about Let me learn more about this. So I came to your website, and that’s where I found– it talked about the self and all that. And all of that was all new to me. Like, what is the self? What is that related? Is that– what is God? What– more questions, right? It’s like a whole new language that I didn’t have, didn’t understand. And I set it aside. And then, I think about a year later– that’s how I discovered your website. And I would just look and see what’s– any video that looked interesting. And the next video that I watched was an interview of Rupert Spira that you did. And that would have been a year later. And he had written a book that– I think the Transparency of Them– maybe I’m not getting the title correctly. But I’ll tell you this. That interview was, to me, it felt like – contentious. Because he was talking about there is no matter. Matter–

Rick: Matter meaning, like, physical world?

Victoria: Yeah, physical matter, right. There’s no matter. And I remember distinctly, you saying, what do you mean there’s no matter? This trash– if I don’t take out the trash in my house, my wife is going to get upset with me. This is real. [LAUGHTER] But I was kind of– I was agreeing with you. Because as a chemist, what do you mean there’s no matter? Chemistry is about the study of matter, right? Its properties and structure. Then that got me attracted to Rupert Spira.

Rick: If he would say that to me now, I would probably say, well, you’re right and you’re wrong. There is and there isn’t. And it depends on what level of reality we’re talking about. But anyway, go on.

Victoria: But I mean, he was not yielding an inch. So his conviction for me was like, how can he be so sure of what he’s talking about? I want to know exactly where he’s coming from. So I went and bought the books, his books, and read them. And what that did for me was, all right, I really need to talk to this guy. I want to talk to him in person. And then the next retreat he had, I went to his website to see events that were coming up. And he had an event in 2012 in Maryland, which I went to, a three-day retreat. That was all I could afford to do at that time, in terms of time. So I went to that, and that was very interesting. And he did– he shared his yoga meditation. And one of the exercises he asked us to perform was to raise our hand without effort. Just let it go up. Initially, I’m like, how is it going to go up without effort? But anyway, I followed his direction. And midway, I had the most startling experience. It actually– I felt like my hand was moving independently of me. Like something else was moving it. I did not finish that retreat. I thought, OK, that’s interesting, but why? What happened? I could not explain it. And he explained that a lot of times we think we’re doing things, but it’s the energy of being, it’s being that is expressing. And then the idea of an identity, a separate self, comes in and usurps that and claims to be the doer. That was new to me, too. So I resolved that I would actually now go to a full retreat with him. It wasn’t until two years later, so that I could– it was in the summer. He had a retreat in the summer that I could attend. All the others were during the academic year, because I couldn’t take time to go. And that retreat was in Connecticut. And now I’m in 2012, so I went. I shared a room with somebody, and at the beginning, the first three days, I kept saying to my roommate, this is very boring. All of it, everything he’s talking about is already in his book. And I went to his retreat in Maryland, and he’s just repeating what’s in his book. But on the fourth day– each time, though, he would do the meditations, what he calls the yoga meditation. But on the fourth day was when I guess I snapped, if that’s the best way to put it. I can’t– it’s hard to describe. But the best way I can describe it is, he was talking about leading us through an exercise about being aware, being aware as our true nature, and directing us to feel it, how he does those exercises. And in the process of going into what he described as awareness, the infinite nature of awareness, the level of the mind is felt as the body, and the eternal nature, and the level of mind is time, space and time. But anyway, so he asked us to go into the feeling, to experience it directly beyond the intellectual understanding. That’s what I– so at that point, I think I just relaxed the mind and just curious about what it is I would experience. And I just remember feeling like something that was very contracted suddenly expanded. Like, unbelievable. It was like– there wasn’t an explosion, but a huge release. And I wasn’t there as an identity. All I remember was just being aware of this expansion. It’s a huge sense of exhilaration. Like, it’s like, wow. But I didn’t know what it was. It’s just the feeling, the incredible feeling. And I’m thinking– after it, I’m thinking, being aware, is that what I just experienced? There was nothing else other than that huge release. I call it all tensions gone. The body was just kind of limp. And it just felt wonderful, just wonderful. Nothing mattered. It seemed like this is all. This is all. I don’t need anything else. This was it. So the next session, what I noticed, though, was I felt like– I no longer felt closely identified with my body. My body felt like now there was a distance between what I am and my body. Like, I’m observing that even the thoughts were like things flowing through after that. So when we had the next meeting as part of that retreat, I asked him about it. And he said that, I’m so glad that I received his guidance at that meeting because he encouraged me to just let it be. Don’t try to understand it because the mind is trying to understand what happened. The mind cannot understand what happened. Don’t try to recreate it. That was just what I had just experienced was a glimpse into true nature. That was an experiential knowing, a direct knowing of it. And to just let it– and then this was the most important thing I got out of that. He said, let it, observe it, and let it reveal itself to you. And that’s what I did. Three days later, the retreat ended, but I was on such a high. I’d never been that– I’ve never been that ecstatic in my life. Never. And now people talk about the influence of that. I’ve never taken any chemical things that make people high. That was unbelievable. And he told me, he said, eventually, you’re going to come back to– you’re not going to stay there. It will unpack itself at its own time. But you need to let it and just be with it and let it reveal itself. OK, so then I’m like, OK, I’m just going to be aware. That’s my job now, be aware. So the retreat ended, I came back, drove back to New Jersey. I had taken a two-week vacation from work. The first week was for this retreat. So the second week, I was home. Thank goodness I took that time, because that second week, I finally understood what Eckhart Tolle meant by sitting on benches, except I was in my living room. I can say I felt incapacitated, but not physically. There was no desire to actually do anything physically, but there was contentment. If something needed to be done, there was no thought about it. I just got up and did it. That was a big difference that I saw. I began to notice that I’m like, wait, things just happen without forethought. And I was still able to function and do the things that I knew how to do or needed to be done, but there was just the overarching desire to just rest. I wasn’t tired either. So at the end of my vacation, I was starting to get a little worried. It’s like, I have to go back to work. I mean, I can’t go to work and just sit at the desk and watch things happen. That’s exactly what happened, believe it or not. At the time, I was an administrator managing a number of programs, academic administrator. So I go back, come into my office, it looked strange. It’s like, what am I supposed to do here was the question coming up. I didn’t forget anything. I still remembered everything, but it just seemed meaning– and it’s like trivial. The things that seemed like all important, it’s like they were no longer– they didn’t have the same level of importance before this experience. So then I followed the advice and just remained aware, observing. Basically, I was very observant, watching. And I would actually– the biggest thing was I wasn’t engaging thoughts. The thoughts that would come about, you need to do this, or this needs to be done, or you need to call this person, or — I wasn’t engaging them. But what happened was things that I need to do, if they came to mind, the activity, any relevant activity was done. Let me explain. If it’s something I could do by myself, I did it. But if it’s something that required engaging with another person or other people, I found– what would happen is I would reach out to a person that I thought was relevant. And miraculously, much of the resistance that I had encountered in doing similar things in the past, I wasn’t encountering them. And then I would think of somebody that I need to talk to, and they will call me. Or somebody I need to meet with, they’ll send me an email. I need to– can we meet to discuss? So that’s how things started to happen, more effortlessly. And that’s when the realization, it began to dawn. Then this is– I think this is part of the revelation. It began to reveal its nature to me is being more and doing less meant being present, just being aware, being in presence. And in that presence, there is an intelligence that organizes and orchestrates things. And then the activity will follow. It’s effortless. It’s more effective, more efficient way. And for the first time, it’s like I’m not– I find that I was not stressing out about things. I wasn’t planning too much. If you know academia, it’s about planning. Like months in advance. There’s some of that, but only as needed, as relevant. So that’s how I came into non-duality. And from 2012, I would say, until now, it has been me now. I feel like this, what I call this presence, this awareness, has been my– has now been unfolding itself and revealing its nature. Any questions get answered before I even ask. And miraculously, all those questions I had dissolved. It was like I understood, I knew the answer. Including one of them was, what is God? People– it goes by different names. Presence, awareness, consciousness, the self, Brahma, what is God? And so I’m going to stop there because I’ve been talking a lot. But from 2012, with that experience of direct knowing, I would call it, of a true nature of being aware and the release of the identity, what I call it, identity-free being. Being without identity. Nothing changed about me externally. There are still those characteristics that would have identified me. But now there’s no ownership of it. There’s just a functioning. There’s just being, pure being. And I’m like, why didn’t I know this sooner? Could have saved myself a lot of headache. But that’s– and in that process, I’ve come to also realize that it’s an unfolding process. It’s infinite. You never get to a point where you say, OK, I’ve got this. Its nature is infinite. It’s the incredible wisdom, the intelligence that it is. So I kept telling– at the time I was still with the meditation group, and I kept telling them, I said, I can’t believe how simple this is. I can’t believe how simple it is. But it became simple after the experience, not prior to the experience that I had. So that, in a nutshell, is how I would describe my experience to realizing true nature, which is, I call, identity-free being, being without identity.

Rick: Well, that was beautiful. In fact, the coherent way in which you unfolded that whole thing was, I think, symptomatic of the deep level from which your mind functions and the spontaneous nature of your behavior now as a result of this awakening. That was really clear.

Victoria: I’m glad.

Rick: Yeah. A few little thoughts that– oh, go ahead. What were you going to say?

Victoria: No, I call it the miracle of being, of our being. It’s like we cannot– when it’s known, by being it, you know it. You cannot describe it as something other than you.

Rick: Right. For some reason, as you were saying all that, I was reminded of that verse from the Bible of, my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Come to me, all ye who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. And it’s like we shift into a more natural way of functioning, which is just more restful by its nature. Do less and accomplish more.

Victoria: Yes. I mean, well, I’m glad you picked up on that. Because in 2019– so if I can continue.

Rick: Sure, yeah.

Victoria: This unfolding, basically, is an unfolding now for me. In 2019, I came across a teacher, Paul Gorman. He’s British. Yeah, I don’t think–

Rick: I hadn’t heard of him.

Victoria: Yeah. Well, I came across because I was on Amazon to order a book. So you search and they show you titles and all that.

Rick: Give you other suggestions.

Victoria: And the title came up, Awareness Itself is the Secret. Right? And I read the introduction. It sounded interesting. So I bought the book, read it. By this time, it’s like there’s now spiritual discernment. I can see what’s resonating as truth for me. And most things, I just leave them alone. But this one caught my attention. And I read the book. It was good. It was interesting. But he led me to Joel Goldsmith.

Rick: Yeah, you mentioned Joel.

Victoria: He led me to Joel Goldsmith. And at first, when I started reading The Infinite Way, I think was the seminal book Joel Goldsmith wrote. And he’s using– he’s couching it in the biblical terminology. Initially, I was turned off because, as I said, I was raised Catholic. But I had questions about people fighting and killing each other in the name of God. Right? So at a point, I got turned off of all religion. But so reading his book, he’s talking about the master, which is Jesus Christ, right? Even though he himself was Jewish.

Rick: So was Jesus.

Victoria: And so was– exactly. And that’s precisely the point. But– and of course, he’s talking about the same things except using different terminologies. But I was actually picking up profound things, profound meanings, or esoteric meanings in some of the biblical passages. And so I started– now I got hooked. I was really fascinated at this point to see, OK. Because he was saying that the Bible contains all the secrets that– if anybody really understood what those passages in the Bible meant, that we would understand the secret to harmonious living. So I was curious. I’m like, the Bible? I know I– growing up, we read the Bible cover to cover. So anyway. And then I read some of his books. I think I sent you The Master Speaks by Joel Goldsmith.

Rick: Yeah. I didn’t read it, I’m afraid. But you did send it.

Victoria: Yeah.

Rick: I’ve listened to some of his stuff in the past. I think there are some recordings.

Victoria: That’s my favorite. Because in there, he talks about the conscious realization of the presence of God. And that, oh my God, it was like, wow. Now I find somebody describing what I have experienced, like able to capture it as best as possible. And his whole thing is that to know God aright is life eternal. Before, that would have been just a biblical passage to me. But he went and goes on, and I understood it now from what he wrote, that it’s to know our true being is to know God. And I think there’s a saying, he who knows himself knows his God, his Lord. Or somebody, a quote attributed to one of the teachers. And then he unfolds from there how this true nature is really an issue of non-dual being. Non-dual being, meaning there is not you and God. There is just being. There’s just being. So that’s the third author in the series of the books that I have read.

Rick: Well, if there was you and God as two separate things, then I guess God couldn’t be omnipresent. Because he’s somehow separated from you. He’s over there, and you’re over here. So if God is omnipresent, and we can explore what that really means, then I and the Father are one.

Victoria: Yeah. Yep. That’s exactly. And again, it’s funny how words– oh, my goodness. Words can– interpretations are just endless, right?

Rick: Sure.

Victoria: Endless. Initially, when I would read that statement, it would refer to an identity that I am.

Rick: Yeah, Jesus the man, you mean, was this special guy who was one with God.

Victoria: Exactly.

Rick: Not anybody else.

Victoria: Not anybody else.

Rick: Right.

Victoria: And then in his book, Joel Goldsmith points out that it wasn’t just Jesus. Jesus was saying it applies to everybody, right? But then I’m thinking, OK, so I and God are one? It didn’t quite– it took a while to come to a realization that when that I is expressed by being, by the pure being, it’s an expression of pure being. That’s the I that is one with God. It’s the same as he that is within me is greater than he that is without, right? Have you heard that one? That’s another part. The same thing, that he that is within me is greater than he that is without, meaning that he that is within is the spirit. The spirit of God is God. And he that is without, who would that be? See, that’s the– what I call it now is a functioning, the expression, right? The expression when things are happening. Like I’m talking to you now. Anybody knows – Oh Victoria is talking to Rick. But it’s simply an expression. Expression within this one infinite being appearing as Rick and Victoria having a conversation.

Rick: Yeah, so we might say the ocean is greater than its individual waves.

Victoria: Waves, yeah. Yes.

Rick: Waves are these little things. The ocean is this vast thing.

Victoria: Yeah.

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: So and I will actually– that reminds me in my– what I will call my Christian prayer days, right? Like I would dutifully kneel down and pray to God. It was during that period, the tumultuous period, had to do with work, my profession. I remember kneeling and saying, you know, show me– can you– can I hear you talk to me? I want– talking to God now. I mean, show me your face. Show me so that I know that it’s you directing me. I want clarity. You know what I got? You are my face in the world.

Rick: Mm. I like that.

Victoria: Now it’s like I say thank you. But at that point, it puzzled me.

Rick: So you mean even way before all this awakening stuff, you had that prayer and you got that answer.

Victoria: I got that answer.

Rick: That’s interesting.

Victoria: And I think I did not know. I’m like, I am– how am I God’s face? Because of the identity, it just– it’s like that’s the separation. It just separates you. And you can no longer– you can’t even see how you could be related to God. Especially with my Catholic upbringing, we are all sinners and some of us may not be redeemable, right? [LAUGHTER] But–

Rick: Can’t be recycled.

Victoria: Can’t be recycled. But that’s what prevented me from hearing that, from understanding what that meant. You are my face in the world.

Rick: I love that. That’s really neat.

Victoria: Yeah, so I’ve never forgotten that. And I think looking back, I’ve had these messages but didn’t know what they meant.

Rick: Is your interpretation of what you now know that to mean such that you could also say that all people and all animals and all trees and everything are God’s face in the world?

Victoria: Yes. Again, I’m going to go to back. I do have this Christian background, which is why Joel Goldsmith’s reference in the Bible intrigued me. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof. That’s a biblical quotation. See, I think the religions came and removed God from the world. And what do you have left when you do that?

Rick: You have some big puppeteer in the sky someplace.

Victoria: So yes, everybody, everything. Science talks about animate and inanimate, right? That’s just the consciousness. It’s just the– words fail me sometimes. The levels of– or the degree of unfoldment or the degree of illumination, as Joel Goldsmith will say, of each thing. But there’s — any appearance appears in this magnificence presence. And here’s another thing, Rick. It’s like the most– the funniest thing to me is– I think– I’ve heard you say this. Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

Rick: It’s an old Zen saying.

Victoria: Yeah, I heard it from one of your interviews. And I’m like–

Rick: And then after enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.

Victoria: So in my experience, it’s like the same world is now transformed into the temple of God. It’s like before the realization, it was a world of strife and all that. After the realization, this is God’s heaven.

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: So the seeing changes.

Rick: And some people might be thinking, well, what about Ukraine? What about Somalia? What about all these horrible things that happen? Well, I’ll let you comment on that. I have some thoughts.

Victoria: That’s the perennial question, right? Does God– why does God allow wars? Why the Holocaust, and all that? And that bugged me for a while. Where I am with this now is where in this harmony, the presence of God implies harmony. Strife– and I use my experience as an example. I was efforting a lot in my life before the realization of my true nature of being. After that, it was more harmonious. It has been more harmonious and less strife. And because we always reference our experience, I want to suggest that the same applies to the world at large. In the presence of God, where the– I forgot. I want to quote this. Where the presence of God is, there’s liberty.

Rick: Liberty?

Victoria: Liberty, yes.

Rick: Liberty.

Victoria: Liberty, freedom, harmony. So those things are– those are afflictions. And I’m not implying that anybody is– or any group of people are– that God is not– God is omnipresence. We have to start there. Everywhere, at all times. But we must recognize that. We must realize that. Actively engage and realize that presence in order to experience that presence. The effects, the nature, the attributes, the properties of that presence. We have to actively recognize and engage. It’s like, I think, one of Christ’s saying is, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” He didn’t say the truth will set you free. The truth exists, but you have a part in it.

Rick: You have to know it.

Victoria: You have to know it. That’s what I– so to me, it’s similar in response to your question, we have to acknowledge the presence of God, or God’s being, as a reality of our being. And then the miracle happens. Because it already exists. God is not withholding peace, for example, in Ukraine, or in Russia, or in parts of Africa where you have strife and all that. Peace is there. It has to be activated. And how is it activated? By people like you and me and everyone recognizing the omnipresence, the omnipotence of God. We cannot be believing in the– we cannot be relying, I should say, on physical force to solve our problems and at the same time, saying God is omnipotence, right? One power. So if you have that– if you have two powers, then you’re saying God– you want to use the power of God to overcome so-called evil. And then we set up the polarities. We set up the polarities. You put out the fire here, it comes out here. Because what we have done is established a premise where you will always need to use one power to overcome another. That’s how I see that now. It’s– people in– those of us in the US are not– we’re not immune from the challenges of war and all that, right? Let me put it– no group of people are more susceptible to it, to strife and conflicts and all of that. It’s really the degree to which we recognize– each person recognizes the presence of– the omnipresence of God in that environment. And I don’t have to be in Ukraine to realize that God is present. The space of Ukraine, the community, the– whatever, the country, that God is there too. Whether we’re in there physically or not, we can all– I have– activate is the best word I come up with. Well, we can all see that as being present for the people of Ukraine and the people of the world throughout. I tell you, this is the challenge. Because sometimes I’m watching TV and I see all these horrendous things with kids and all that. And I see my energy going down. Especially you give money, you feel helpless, what can you do, right? But what really– what I find very helpful and effective is to not allow the conflict to register in consciousness. Because by keeping consciousness– like I said, being in presence, allowing that intelligence to direct. I find that, at least in my personal life, it directs in harmony, whatever action is harmonious. It may be– it is never a perfect state of harmony, but it may be more so than it was. So to me, the difference is the conscious recognition and realization of the presence of God at all times, everywhere and in all situations, no matter how bad it appears. Because that’s how it gets transformed. You may not be the person who does it, but just that– what did I say? Ten conscious people can liberate a town. I forget how–

Rick: Yeah, there’s statistics about percentages of meditators–

Victoria: Yeah.

Rick: –in a community, and then the reduction in crime rate, and all that.

Victoria: Yeah.

Rick: And wasn’t there some whole thing in the Bible about if there are so many righteous people in this town, I will turn to ashes or something, Sodom and Gomorrah–

Victoria: Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. And that’s what I was referencing, is that we can all do something, right? And here’s the thing. One of the questions– this is related to this – one of the questions that came up for me is, wait, if everything is God, if God is omnipresence, what about evil? That’s what you’re asking. Is evil of God? And one day, the answer just came in my contemplation and meditation. It’s like, if you see evil, you are not seeing God. So if you see evil, your work now becomes to bring God– God, I use God. You could say presence, awareness, whatever term works for you– to bring God into the picture. And so what you have done is– so the responsibility, it’s almost like the seeing of evil, we help to keep it going. That doesn’t mean close our eyes, don’t see it, or deny it. No. Once you have seen it, it’s in consciousness. You also have to resolve it in consciousness. And once you resolve it in consciousness through, again, the conscious recognition and realization of omnipresence, then right action arises. It’s not about being passive. It’s about the right action, harmonious action, and reclaiming or restoring the peace, the peace of the presence of God. So that’s how I see it.

Rick: Yeah. Jimi Hendrix said, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace.”

Victoria: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. That’s very well said. Very well said. Yeah.

Rick: I was thinking about your experience, as you described it, pre and post-awakening, where during pre-awakening, you were working hard, trying to figure things out. And things were not always going well. And you couldn’t figure things out. And there were probably clashes and frictions and this and that. And then once that awakening happened, all of a sudden, you found yourself making the right decisions, doing more with less effort, and probably more harmonious in your relationships with people. There’s a couple of verses in the Gita. One is “established in being perform action.” And then another one says, “being, or yoga, meaning unity, consciousness, is skill in action.” And then there are verses about doing more with less effort and not claiming the ownership of action. And if you’re not claiming the ownership then cosmic intelligence does everything and you can just enjoy the ride. So everything you described is reminiscent of that.

Victoria: It’s amazing. And this is somebody with no background at all with the Hindu–

Rick: Perennial truth.

Victoria: Yeah. And I will share something. My daughter, my younger daughter, just reminded me of this the other day. She said, it was last year that I almost drowned. She’s in Michigan, where she goes to grad school. And she had gone out to Lake Michigan with her friends. And I was sitting– I was home here in New Jersey. And then I get a flash of insight. Her name is Chi Chi. How’s Chi Chi doing? And I talk to her often, but I hadn’t talked to her that week. I said, how’s Chi Chi doing? And then immediately, the next thing that comes up is, she is safe and secure in presence. OK? That’s just the thought. And then I pick up the phone, and I call her. And then she answers. She goes, mom, I’m OK. I’m OK. Everything is OK. I’m like, what do you mean? What’s going on? I’ll call you. I’ll call you. I’ll call you later. So I put up my– and I said, OK. And I went back to what I was doing. About two hours later, she called me. She told me that she had gone boating with some of her friends. She’s a good swimmer. And the water seemed idyllic, still. I think Michigan lakes are notorious for that. They look deceptively still.

Rick: It is a big lake, so the waves can get big.

Victoria: Yeah. And she jumped in. And her friends were sitting. And then one of them happened to look at her. And she looked like she was not OK. And she said, Chi Chi, are you OK? She goes, no. I can’t. I keep trying to swim, but I can’t. It just keeps pulling me away. I keep trying to get back to the–

Rick: The current or something.

Victoria: The current. And then one of them said, oh my gosh, she’s the best swimmer here. So two of them jumped in and then carried her back. And the minute– so as soon as they brought her– sounded like when that conversation was happening, she gave me the about time, that was when I picked up on her. You know, is she OK? But then instead of panicking, what I did was– Basically, because I’m here in New Jersey, all I can do, like I say, is in consciousness to establish her safety in the presence around her. And so she– and so she– then she was telling me– now– then she was telling me the story. And I’m getting– I’m like, oh my God. Unbelievable. So things like that, those kinds of communicate– I can’t tell you– was it the awareness of that that helped or did I– what happened there? This is a pure intelligence in action. All I can say–

Rick: I interviewed this guy. I forget his last name. His name was Steven something. And he’s a hospital– he works at a hospital on Long Island. But anyway, when he was in college, some stranger offered him a ride on his new motorcycle. And so he got on the back of this motorcycle and the guy took off. And he was going well over 100 miles an hour down a rain slick highway. And he really thought he was going to die the way this guy was driving. And finally, he came back. And he got back to the dorm at like 2 in the morning. And he’s walking down the hallway. He thinks, oh my God, I almost died. And the payphone rings on the wall. which is unusual. And he never answered the payphone. But since he was walking by it, he picked it up. And it was his mother. Steven, are you OK? I just woke up. And I was afraid that something was happening. So this kind of thing.

Victoria: Yeah. Yeah. [LAUGHS] Rick, thank you for sharing. That’s really fascinating. Because one of the things that I’ve also come to realize is this. We always think that miracles have to be these big, dramatic happenings. But it’s the, quote unquote, “ordinary experiences” that we have. And I’ve come to realize that that’s the way it is supposed to be. But we’ve come to rely more on tools, on objects, than the direct link, the direct communication. Which, tools are helpful, but we have to use them in their proper order. Just like the mind. The thoughts have their place. I was talking with a friend the other day. and his question was, so are you saying that the mind has no place? No, no, the mind has a role. But its role is not to direct. Its role is to implement.

Rick: It’s a tool.

Victoria: It’s a tool. And when it is functioning properly, it is brilliant. It can be brilliant. And I have to say, this reminds me of my work as a scientist, as a chemist. I remember the chemistry. There are so many elements, right? Out of which all the various combinations and permutations that create the different object materials that we see, matter, right? And science, again, science is exploring within the realm of the physical. Within the realm of what I will call the expressed. Well, again, we can get into the boundaries between physicality and energy and subatomic and all. And you can keep drilling down to where there’s really virtually nothing. But they come together and do something that can be measured and captured with an instrument. But this realization actually, for me, helped me to see science in its proper perspective, in its proper role, which makes it more interesting. But before, I say, one thing, as long as we’re using tools invented by mind, right, through the mind, it will have its limits. But the limits don’t define the limits of reality. So that’s like, oh, that’s exciting. But within that limit, there’s a lot that can be done. And once we hit the barrier, or once we’re able to overcome the limit, a particular limit, then look at what’s happening with technology, for example. So I just wanted to add that this is so amazing that, like I said, all the questions dissolve. It became– that’s just the knowing. It’s like, prior to that, I would question, how do people know this, right? But it’s just when you’re attuned, that based on your own capacities, and training, and abilities, and all that, the information will come through the same channels that you would normally get them. But you’ll be surprised at how much more you can access. Somebody once said that what we can observe through our senses are very limited. It’s like taking an infinite dimension and trying to squeeze it through the three-dimensional–

Rick: Yeah, here’s an example. If the Mississippi River were to represent the spectrum of the electromagnetic field, then visible light would be a few centimeters somewhere around Keokuk, Missouri.

Victoria: Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s exactly right. Exactly right. So material sense, what we’re able to sense, does not begin to– and sometimes– not sometimes — somehow, it has to be interpreted. There’s some distortion there, right? So it’s not necessarily a perfect reflection of reality. So it’s like– now, in retrospect, I see why I was fascinated by science, because of all those questions. And now, to find out that the answer actually lies beyond science is, in and of itself, a great benefit of this. And here’s the thing. I think that the funniest thing is that we are all this. Everybody is this, whether you know it or not. That’s the great love, the divine love. And it’s there, just waiting for the recognition of it. But the conditioning– I think the biggest challenge is the sense of identity. That is just the biggest, biggest obstacle. But the thing is, you can have all that. You can still have everything that you had identified with, just impersonal. It doesn’t have to be– you don’t have to own it. I had this conversation with one of my friends at the meditation group. We went to a dinner after meditation. And I was sitting down, and he says, Victoria, what do you mean no identity? How are you sitting down in that chair? I see that somebody’s sitting down in a chair. And I said, Bob, I don’t need to be a person to sit down in a chair. I could just sit in a chair. It’s just sitting. Why do I need to have an identity to sit down?

Rick: Well, language is very much structured in terms of identities. In fact, when you answered Bob, you said, well, I can just sit in the chair. And he might have said, well, who’s this I that’s sitting in the chair?

Victoria: Yeah, I know. I know. But that’s the I. That’s the personal– he’s thinking of a personal I. I’m thinking of the universal I.

Rick: Right. Do you think you have both a personal and universal I? Like wave and ocean kind of thing?

Victoria: Well, that’s a really good question, Rick. You can have complete total identification. And all you know is that personal I. And then the degree of unfolding or realization, you begin to lose– I think they call it dying daily, releasing some of that. And it depends on the degree of release. You can release that– but if you’re asking me personally, yes, there’s still some identity, but not as much as it was. It was suffocating previously. And then it’s continuing to decrease. Because then the more experience you have, the more it’s like, it’s actually fun. Other people can still see you as that, but you’re not responding that way. In other words, you’re not coming from that identified place. Less and less, I find that I’m able to– I don’t need it. I’m actually more effective that way. And it’s easier with a community of people who understand that. But if you’re out in the workplace where not many people have this type of understanding, you just keep it quiet. I just keep it quiet and perform from that space. And they respond. And sometimes they’re surprised at their own response. It’s like– they’re surprised. And then they try to give you credit. They try to personalize it again. And I’m quick to say, nope, it just happened. It just happened. But I’m happy to be the space of it happening, the conduit, if you will. It’s just a happening. It’s just a functioning, if you will.

Rick: Yeah. I have this friend who’s going through a real profound spiritual awakening. And she’s having a hard time with personal pronouns because they just seem so inappropriate to her experience of herself. And she’s trying to figure out how to talk without seeming like a hypocrite. And I think I might have– well, I don’t think I did, but I perhaps should have quoted Jesus in saying, “render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s.” And there’s this concept in Advaita Vedanta, which is that– they call it vyavaharika, which means the transactional level of life. And then they have the other level, which is paramatmika, which is the true self. And it’s understood that on the transactional level, you just behave normally. And it doesn’t invalidate or compromise your realization. Just as, let’s say, you go into a pottery shop. And you wouldn’t say, there’s nothing in this shop but clay. Even though you’d be right, but there are pots. Or a jewelry shop, you wouldn’t say there’s nothing here but gold. There are no necklaces. There are no rings. There are no– that would be true in a way because it’s all gold. But it’s also not true because on a relative level, there are these– the gold or the clay have been formed into things.

Victoria: Right, I mean, words to me, I think– Yeah, I empathize with your friend and her quandary. For me, like I said, there was a distance. It was like I’m watching that personality. Yeah, that character. It was– it became a character. And the same thing with the thoughts, right? They’re no longer– my goodness, it was incredible. The thoughts had such a stranglehold.

Rick: Such a grip.

Victoria: A grip, yeah. So that distance happened naturally. And it never came back to– so it’s OK for me. You can say Victoria. I know who you’re referring to. It wasn’t me. It’s not my true self. That’s how I feel about it. So I’m not going to– whether you want to call it a he or a she, it’s OK. You just– I know what you’re referring to. But yes, I can totally get that. And that is why sometimes when you see people talk about spirituality, there’s almost — semantics. Sometimes it can devolve into semantics, right? Because of that very–

Rick: The Advaita Shuffle. Like you’re sitting at lunch and someone says, please pass the salt. And you say, who wants the salt? You know? It gets kind of nauseating.

Victoria: No, yes. Exactly. Oh my goodness. I remember one of those videos. I don’t remember. I saw it on YouTube. I don’t remember–

Rick: Oh, was it a cartoon kind of thing?

Victoria: No, it was a teacher saying, “there’s nothing to do. You do not exist.” Right? Early on, you do not–

Rick: Sounds like Tony Parsons or somebody.

Victoria: Yeah. Yeah. You do not exist. There is nobody here, right? Nothing to do. Oh my god. That was– I mean, true, but– [LAUGHS] But like you said, in the functional experience, right?

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: It becomes a little challenging for people to be able to communicate.

Rick: Jeff Foster made this really funny cartoon thing that you can find on YouTube. I think it’s called the Advaita Shuffle. But it was based on an experience he actually had with his mother when he was in his neo-Advaita phase. And they’re walking along through a park. And his mother says, oh, look at the beautiful tree. And the Jeff cartoon character says, there is no tree. There is no beauty. And it goes on for about 15 minutes with this. And by the end, his mother says, you’re no fun anymore. [LAUGHTER]

Victoria: Yeah. Yeah, that can happen. But the terminologies also can be overwhelming, you know? Like the different terms, consciousness, awareness, presence, God, self. Right?

Rick: And it’s good to clarify what we mean by the words. Otherwise, we’re not going to communicate.

Victoria: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, clarification is always a good thing.

Rick: I was thinking about what you were saying earlier about how your life became so much easier and smoother and more efficient after this awakening. And we’ve been talking about the state of the world and so on with wars and famines and all those things. I think that if awakening became a more universal phenomenon, then the shift in quality of life that you experienced and the ease with which things happened that were meant to happen and desires were fulfilled effortlessly and so on would begin to be experienced on a societal level. And then we wouldn’t have all these famines and wars and conflicts.

Victoria: I agree. I totally agree. I think that I see it as a threshold thing, right? There’s a certain threshold in terms of the illumination of consciousness. To me, it’s really a matter of decluttering consciousness, decluttering with all the stuff that we– concepts and ideas and notions about reality. To somebody, I say, it’s really as simple as either you know something or you believe it, right? If it is not your direct knowing, you need to be looking at what you’re believing, right? So there’s a threshold of consciousness or conscious awakening, however you want to describe that. We will see that shift. There is a shift in energy. And you can look at all the stuff that has happened in 2020 and all that. I tell you, the murder of George Floyd, oh boy, that really shook me to the core.

Rick: Yeah, it shook the whole world in a way.

Victoria: Whoa, talk about where is God. But the most amazing thing happened. I couldn’t watch the whole video, but I forced myself to watch as much as I could, to watch it and just in presence, consciously watch without judgment. Just observe what’s happening. It was easy to empathize with George Floyd. It’s very easy to have compassion with him as quote unquote, as a victim. I don’t want to say quote unquote. But what about the officer?

Rick: Derek Chauvin.

Victoria: Derek Chauvin. What about him? And so in just watching, something came up. It’s like the question was, wow, what happens to a conscious being to bring him to that point, to be able to do that?

Rick: You know what Jesus said, he said, forgive them, Father. They know not what they do.

Victoria: They know not what to do. And in that instant, it was like there was very little light in that presence, in that being. But it’s there. It’s just blocked out. And that’s the only way you’ll be able to do a thing like that. And then it shows up at a society level, on the level of society here as racism and discrimination.

Rick: Millions of people who are all blotted out. Yeah.

Victoria: And so everybody is a victim.

Rick: It’s interesting that you should bring this up because just this morning, I went into this little fantasy about what if I were there when Derek Chauvin was kneeling on his neck? And I saw myself going into action saying, sir, do you realize that you’re killing this man and you’re going to spend the rest of your life in prison? Snap out of it. Take your knee out. It’s funny. I just went into this little reverie.

Victoria: Well, that’s interesting. Again, it goes back to conscious action. If you’re coming from presence, just with the full light of consciousness, you can spring into action. But if you’re heavily conditioned, those officers standing around did nothing. You see what I mean?

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: So they too, to whatever degree or so, were incapacitated.

Rick: Look at the guys in the Uvalde Robb Elementary School standing in the hallway for an hour.

Victoria: So this, I mean, it’s bringing, elevating the light, the level of consciousness in the world helps everybody.

Rick: Yeah. Think of it as like a forest, right, where the soil is all dry and the trees can’t draw any nutrients. So all the trees are just going to be withered and gray. But if the soil gets a lot of rain and it’s nutritious soil, all the trees flourish like the rain forest. So society is like that. I think if consciousness is not really oozing into collective, into the– its expressed values very easily, then everything is such a pale shadow of what it could be. Go ahead.

Victoria: And it affects everybody.

Rick: Yeah, exactly.

Victoria: The quality of the perpetrator and the person, I guess, whom this is done. You know?

Rick: Yeah. There’s a field, actually. And everyone contributes to it. And then everyone is influenced by it. And so the more we enliven the field by awakening our own consciousness, the more others have a tendency to wake up. And I think that that’s happening in the world. There’s a kind of collective awakening happening.

Victoria: Yes. That also– you mentioned the Ukraine war. I remember when that started. And at a point– I shared the same sentiment. It’s like, how does somebody just leave their country and go and attack somebody else? Under what pretext, right? And then, again, presence– what I call the natural wisdom is like, what comes up for me is, yes, that should not be condoned. But when you have good guys and bad guys, you’re going to continue having good guys and bad guys. So isolating– and I think some of it is being borne out. The world rallied, as it should, to try to isolate the aggressor. What do we have? There could have been access to action that could have preempted the war and prevent suffering.

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: But I don’t know–

Rick: The Yoga Sutras, it says, “avert the danger that has not yet come.” And of course, Benjamin Franklin said, “a stitch in time saves nine.” So–

Victoria: That’s — But you see, access to that action comes from what I keep calling the recognition and the realization of this presence, which is everyone. You can’t exclude anybody. Nobody is excluded from that, no matter how evil or dark they seem to be. Because that’s how you actually transform it. And then when things like that– when it does happen, we say, oh, miracle. OK, it’s a miracle from the perspective that we’re viewing things. But I think this miracle should be more like how life unfolds globally.

Rick: Yeah. That’s my motivation for doing this.

Victoria: Well, you’re doing– listen, I thank you for pointing– for hooking me up with the key people in terms of those interviews you did. Because I don’t know how I– it was quite selective, too. And after the–

Rick: I think I just put them out there. It’s your intuition that draws you to the right ones.

Victoria: So you’re doing a great service. And that reminds me, there was a time, like I said, I was leading meditation. And then it just– and people were saying, you should start teaching. You should start doing this. I’m happy to share this as the opportunity comes. But if the teaching needs to happen, I’m not going to make a decision about it. It will happen.

Rick: Yeah. Well, you’re doing a good job today. You’re very eloquent.

Victoria: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Not I, the spirit within. The spirit within speaks.

Rick: A question came in from an old friend of yours named Mandy Smith. You may not remember her, but she said she met you at a Rupert retreat about eight years ago. She lives in Brevard, North Carolina. And her question is– remember Mandy?

Victoria: I do remember her.

Rick: Her question is, is the release of identity a conscious process? What was the most important guidance for you in this process?

Victoria: Yeah. That’s a good question. The release itself is spontaneous. It’s spontaneous. You just realize that it has happened. It’s not something that– at least in my experience, I can’t describe any process. But I can talk about my interest and curiosity about the nature of reality, of which our true nature is one. Our true nature is reality. So in following those interests and trying to have a greater understanding, you make contact with this infinite presence, this infinite being. Once that contact is made, in my experience, it takes over. Now, to what degree depends on where you are and what has gone on. So I would not say that there’s a conscious process. Conscious process means that, as I understand it, that I’m doing something consciously to make that happen. It happens spontaneously. But it happens within a receptive being, an openness. There’s a receptivity to it.

Rick: And you made yourself more receptive. You were doing some kind of meditation that you had found. And you went to a couple of Rupert retreats. And so there’s that old Zen saying that enlightenment may be an accident, but spiritual practice makes you accident prone.

Victoria: Yeah, no, I think– so to answer the question– hi, Mandy– there is openness and receptivity. If a truth resonates with you, accept it. If it doesn’t, for me, if it doesn’t resonate– and again, some spiritual discernment comes in– you leave it alone. In fact, I really used to question and be critical of certain viewpoints about spirituality. Not anymore, because you don’t know where each being is in their own unfolding. If it doesn’t resonate as truth for me– truth is eternal. And once it connects with a truth within you, it resonates. And then you contemplate it. And I was fond of asking questions like, what does this mean? That means something has resonated, but I did not understand what it meant. And then it will reveal itself in your own consciousness. And then it becomes your truth. And you can then– and then the activity of that truth in your consciousness will then lead you to what is needed for you at that point. So that’s my experience of it. Be open, be receptive, and then listen. Listen for the guidance.

Rick: You know, Jesus, he said, “Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened.”

Victoria: Yeah.

Rick: I think when we have that intention, we send out a signal to the universe, so to speak. And the signal gets answered. We start finding what we need to find.

Victoria: Yeah. Well, you know, that’s really interesting. You mentioned that quote by Jesus. I think it was yesterday in meditation. It’s like, what are we seeking? You know, “Seek and you shall find.” What did Jesus mean by that? But he also said, “The kingdom of God is within you.”

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: So if the kingdom of God is within you, what are you seeking?

Rick: There’s a– what is it? T.S. Eliot poem where he says– I forget how it goes exactly, but he said, “At the end of all of our seeking, we will come back to the place from which we started and know it for the first time.”

Victoria: Yes, yes. And I answered that question. It’s like, you know, it’s easy to think– and I was– I did that too, seeking. Oh, my God. If I need a million dollars, seek for a million dollars and you shall find, right? Or whatever, material, whatever it may be. I’ve come to understand or realize that, you know, seek ye the kingdom of God first.

Rick: Right, and all else should be added unto you.

Victoria: And all else should be added unto thee– because that kingdom of God is this– this is our consciousness, it’s our being. It’s our being, it’s everything, it’s complete. So it’s just– I cannot tell you how liberating that is. Liberating. That is the ultimate freedom. Because nothing– in other words, all the fears and, you know, about whatever it may be. You know, I come to realize that if you’re resting, if you’re anchored in your being, in that consciousness which is the kingdom of God within you, what is there to fear?

Rick: Yeah. How did you fare during the whole COVID thing? Not that it’s totally over, but, you know, some people really had a hard time because they weren’t used to social deprivation and isolation and all that stuff. But how did it hit you?

Victoria: Yeah. That’s a really good question. And I thought about that, that people were going to have a hard time. But, you know, once I integrated meditation, it’s no longer a practice, it’s a way of being for me. It’s almost like– this is going to sound funny– activities distract me from meditation.

Rick: I know what you mean.

Victoria: You know what I mean? It’s like, that is the real expression. And in that, all the activities are self-organizing, arranging what needs to be done and in what order. So during the COVID, I was fine. It’s like, I teach and we went remote. And many people had a hard time with it. Because, again, the isolating aspect of it, for me, it was an opportunity for more silence, more stillness, even in my work, to be able to have more of that. Because it can be quite noisy. So no, I was fine. Plus, also, I was consciously aware that the fear of contagion, the fear of infection, was worse than the virus itself. I’m not speaking scientifically now. The fear itself just degraded people’s physical ability to cope with it, I think. Which is what the vaccine did. It just lowered the fear threshold. And then it’s fascinating. It’s really fascinating. The chicken or the egg, right?

Rick: Well, a placebo wouldn’t have had the same effect as the vaccine did, but it definitely helped.

Victoria: The vaccine did. I think that it would have been difficult to get people to fear less without the vaccine. The panic threshold was incredible.

Rick: And a million people died. So if you’re afraid of dying, there was something to fear.

Victoria: Yes, yes. So because I was remote most of the time, I waited. I didn’t get the vaccine until it became freely available. I know some of my colleagues were hunting vaccines, right? Some drove distances to go find them. Like, why?

Rick: Yeah, people were flying to Florida.

Victoria: Yeah, no, but thank you for asking. I manage a campus, and we had to– when we finally reopened, oh my god, I was responsible for making sure the protocols are in place and people followed them. And if students or faculty became– that was the challenge, is more of managing other people’s behaviors, right? Yeah.

Rick: You were talking earlier about endless spiritual development. And just last night, I read a quote from Sri Ramakrishna in which he said something like that. He said that there’s no end to spiritual unfoldment. And I presume he meant even after the body dies. But anyway, do you have any thoughts on that? I mean–

Victoria: Absolutely. That’s what the realization has led me to understand is that it’s infinite. And we say it, right? It’s infinite, infinite being. So I think that infinity itself, that there’s no end to infinity.

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: Right? So it’s from glory to glory, if you will, from growth to growth, just ongoing, which is a good thing. I think, to me, I see it as exciting. Now, death, well, that’s another matter altogether, life and death.

Rick: Well, Woody Allen said, I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens. So you’re not going to be, right? You’re already not going to be.

Victoria: Well, the question is, I think we need to be– that comes up is, has anybody answered what is death? We’re told– well, first of all, some people say they remember when they were born.

Rick: Yes.

Victoria: Most people don’t, right?

Rick: Or they remember before they were born, some people.

Victoria: Oh, before.

Rick: That too.

Victoria: Some people. Is that most of the people?

Rick: Most? Oh, not most. No, but some people have– like, you know, past-life regression therapy and stuff like that.

Victoria: Yeah. So I ask that because most of the things we believe about life and death is based on belief, not direct experience, right? And right now, unless I know something, I’m not inclined. I don’t need belief. Why do I need belief? I don’t need belief anymore. So as it comes to death, I don’t want to believe the cultural mores about it. I call it cultural stories about it. Yes, the image of the– but we see the body stop doing what it was doing, right? I would say of somebody who dies, the body would no longer get up or something. It degrades. But the body is a physical– is a physical– at least the body we see is a physical object, right? Material. But we know the body doesn’t function by itself, right? So if we put your hand on the– you rest your hand on a chair or somewhere, it’s going to stay there until there’s a conscious intention to move it. So that, to me, tells me that there’s something moving, directing, and moving, functioning the body. The body responds to something, right? So when the body stops responding, what happens to that agency that was directing or setting things in motion? What happens to that? And to me, that’s what’s eternal about being. That’s the eternal being. And that’s what I’ve come to realize as my true nature. So I do– at this– I don’t want to say believe. I do feel, based on the experience of expansion, that essence– that essence is part of the infinity of being and cannot die.

Rick: And it’s scientific of you to eschew the word “belief.” I mean, I don’t think– well, I guess scientists believe things, but they don’t– they’re not satisfied with belief. They need to have some empirical verification and experiential verification. I remember Oprah Winfrey was interviewing Eckhart Tolle. And she did this little thing at some point where she gave him a couple of words and had him complete the sentence. And she said, “I believe,” and he said, “Nothing in particular.”

Victoria: Yeah, exactly. Why do you need belief, really? And experience can be subjective, yes, because it’s your knowing, right? But at least you have that. You can see the mayhem in the world that’s caused by beliefs.

Rick: Yeah, absolutely. Killing each other over beliefs.

Victoria: But that’s sometimes– I’m in education, and I see education as a very powerful tool for transformation, right? And these days, I keep contemplating– the subject matter is important, right? Like you say, for the functioning and all that. But should we be offering a fundamental education on– and I’m laughing because of the censorship about textbooks and what should be–

Rick: Are you saying we should have some kind of spiritual development in schools? Is that what you’re–

Victoria: Well, I may not use the phrase “spiritual development,” but just a basic understanding of what we mean when we say “I am,” or like your nature, your identity. Nobody’s going to tell you who you are. You will come to it. But just to point people in that direction from the beginning. And then before we start the overlay with all the specialized fields and all that. Because you see what’s happening. Somebody like me, I go and get a PhD in chemistry. I have to come back to that fundamental, right? To get it. Because we accept what has been told us about the nature of human beings and life and world and all that. And then it takes us so far until you hit a wall in your own particular path. And then the question comes, why isn’t it working? It’s supposed to work. They said it’s supposed — So somehow integrating that. But that — I would love to find a way to do something like that.

Rick: Yeah. I mean, even in psychology classes, you’d think that this could be brought in without stepping on anybody’s belief systems. And there are some programs. I was actually– the reason I was in New Jersey for six months one time was that they were introducing transcendental meditation into the public schools. And there was a big legal uproar about it because the Christians felt like they were sneaking Hinduism in on a Trojan horse. And they ended up having to end the program. But there are some good programs around the country where mindfulness and other practices are taught to the kids. And it usually gets very great results.

Victoria: Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. Yes. And the other thing, too– yeah, I think you started out in transcendental.

Rick: I did. Yeah, way back.

Victoria: You taught it, right?

Rick: I did for about 25 years.

Victoria: 25 years. OK. Sometimes I also think that you can meditate for a million years as a separate identity. It’s not going to do anything for you much. I mean, you might get some superficial– I don’t know, maybe not superficial, some temporary–

Rick: Well, it thins the veil. It’s like I said earlier with the spiritual practice, makes you accident prone. If the body is full of stress and tension and impurities and the mind and body, it’s theoretically possible that awakening can happen. But the probability is less than if you clear the clutter out.

Victoria: Yeah. Yeah.

Rick: And that’s why Buddha and various other teachers have always recommended it.

Victoria: Yeah. No, listen, it can’t hurt.

Rick: I mean, it helped you. I imagine that the meditation you did prior to your awakening led to it. It wasn’t that meditation awakened you, but it set the stage to some extent.

Victoria: I agree with that. But I also know one thing is, I remember studying — I remember reading Rupert’s books, Rupert Spira’s books, going to his retreat. And he’s saying, oh my God, my first retreat with him, The three — I was like challenging him. How do you know this? I don’t think he saw it as a hard time. But from my perspective, he was answering them. It was how do you know this, right? Now I get it. It wasn’t he, the man that I see. It’s drawing from an intelligent presence. But I think that I had that curiosity to know what is the source of this knowledge?

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: That’s what I was going for, quite frankly. So I don’t have to be looking for a teacher. I think I told you that I don’t– I’m not a follower. I’ve never been. But I can take what I need. I remember in 2000, I forget when, it might have been ’13 or so. I don’t remember which year. But I went– there was some ashram in New York. It’s close to a shopping center that I go to. So I decided I would just go there. There was some guru coming from India. And I didn’t know and a friend said, oh, if you’re around there, just go there this weekend. So I did. And I went. I’ll never forget it. It amuses me to this day. I went there. And his energy was good, presence, right? Like you can feel. And then there was this process. You come in, and people would go up and genuflect and–

Rick: Bow down and stuff.

Victoria: Bow down. Kiss the feet, all that. So there was– after the initial opening, and then there was a segment where he allowed people to come up and their master and all that. That’s just so foreign to me. I was the only one who did not go up. And everybody was looking at me like, why is she here? They didn’t say that. But then they came to the question and answer segment. And I raised my hand. And I said to him– I asked him, I said– which was bothering me a lot. I said, do you think that the master-student relationship encourages–

Rick: dependency.

Victoria: Dependency. And duality, right? His answer blew me away. He said, yes, it does. But when the student gets the teaching, that drops away.

Rick: Yeah, you were saying earlier about how there are many different teachings and teachers, and you don’t resonate with a lot of them, but other people may. And so I think that’s legitimate. I mean, kittens depend on the mother cat.

Victoria: That’s right.

Rick: But at a certain point, the mother cat starts hissing at them when they get to a certain age to make them leave.

Victoria: Yeah, again, take what you need. That’s what it comes down to. And it may be, like you said, for a period of time, that that was needed. And then people move on. But I guess I’ve just been — I have an independent streak.

Rick: There’s a question that came in from Adisa Dawes in Palmdale, California. She said, “I get very excited whenever I see guests that have an African name like I do. I appreciate the representation. Question is, how do we love our enemies during adversity? I live in America, and the patience it takes to constantly educate people about social issues gets exhausting, especially since being different affects every aspect of my life. I love myself, and I wish to better love others.”

Victoria: Great question, and one of those tough things to practice. Hello, Adisa. I’m going to reference a quote in the Bible. Forgive them for they know not what they do, right? In terms of forgiving our enemies. But before we get there, I want to speak to the premise. Once we have established an enemy, it becomes very difficult, makes it more difficult to forgive. Because what that means is that we’re saying that this person, whoever it is, we have put them in their box, whatever box that may be. In order to be able to forgive, we have to see– in normal terms, we have to see– we have to acknowledge, not even see, acknowledge the humanity of the person. Even if we don’t agree, we don’t necessarily accept what they’re doing. So for me, that’s always the premise. I go further, not accepting the humanity, recognizing that that being that we call a person is God’s being. And if you recognize that, then now you are– it becomes easier for you to– it becomes easier to also recognize that it’s an error. Forgive them for they know not what they do means that they know not what they do. They’re acting in error. It doesn’t excuse it. It doesn’t mean we should do nothing about what’s– but what it does is it frees you. It frees you from the shackles of upset, hatred, you name it, the negative emotions that come up with that. And I know what I’m talking about because I’ve experienced it. I’ve experienced– I have had that feeling before this realization. Becomes easier when I start from the premise that that being is also God’s infinite being. That being would not be without the grace of God’s infinite being. And from that premise, then again, the right action, whatever you need to do, will come. And it will be more effective in addressing all– or in addressing the situation. I’ll share one example, and I’ll talk about the George Floyd again. Oh, I mean, it was– that thing shook me to the core. And I was just– again, back to how is this possible? This is– what can I do about this? And then I took it in meditation and sitting, and that’s where the recognition of the humanity of the person doing it. And it became easier to forgive because there’s just so much darkness there. And then send some light and see that human– see that being, the pure being of that person. He’s not acting from that pure being. He’s acting from a place of separation from his or her true nature. But the next thing that happened surprised me. Well, I don’t get surprised anymore, but it was pleasant because you never know what– how that action will come up. I was at a leadership meeting for the school that I work. And we were talking about plans. But this time, I think it was– this happened in May. So around July, August, we had this leadership retreat to plan for the upcoming semester, the fall, as we do every year. And they were talking about the usual things, strategic plan, admission, all the stuff we usually talk about. And I’m sitting there feeling incredibly frustrated. And I did not know why. And this was a three-hour meeting. So I sat there. I did not participate, but a lot was going on within me. Eventually, the person facilitating this was the chief executive of the institution, asked for– did anybody have questions before we concluded? We’re now 2 and 1/2 hours into the meeting. And I just– my hand shoots up. I had not said a word. And I get up and I said, can we have a moment of silence for George Floyd? You have to understand how out of– I mean, it came out of the blue. And then at that point, I realized why I’d been so restless. I felt like, how can we just act like nothing happened? At least, as far as I was aware, there was no response. And it was well-received. We had a minute of silence. I tell you, silence is powerful. After that minute of silence, it opened up a whole discussion about that and what the institution can do. How can we help our students process it? OK? And I thought that was the end of it. The next meeting, a month later, I was now asked to talk about inclusion, inequity and things that lead to those kinds of behavior, to lead that discussion. And I’m going to make a long story short. It led to all kinds of policy ramifications. Right? But I pull up that example to show that we’re not talking about a passive power here. But we have to tune into it, align with it, to allow that power to express through us. And when it expresses, then you will address this from a place of power, not from a place of anger or weakness or victimhood. And then your own particular situation and talents and expertise will then be put to use in the opportunity that you have to address it. So that’s what I would offer is that if you don’t deny anything, you don’t bury your head in the sand. You recognize it, you see it. Because in that seeing, you have to see it without the negative thing. The negative emotions that come up need to be released. And you have to resolve in consciousness your role in that whole process, in that whole experience.

Rick: That’s great. We might say that the best way to eliminate an enemy is to make him your friend. And Adisa’s question and your answer reminded me of a story I heard on NPR about five years ago. I just looked it up. I’ll read you the headline and the first two paragraphs. It said– it’s entitled, “How One Man Convinced 200 Ku Klux Klan Members to Give Up Their Robes.” Daryl Davis is a blues musician, but he also has what some might call an interesting hobby. For the past 30 years, Davis, a Black man, has spent time befriending members of the Ku Klux Klan. He says, “Once the friendship blossoms, the Klansmen realize that their hate may be misguided.” Since Davis started talking with these members, he says, “200 Klansmen have given up their robes. When that happens, Davis collects the robes and keeps them in his home as a reminder of the dent he has made in racism by simply sitting down and having dinner with people.”

Victoria: Yes.

Rick: Pretty cool.

Victoria: And that’s cool. That’s a really good example. And it may seem like, oh, 200 people, big deal. Ah.

Rick: That’s a big dent.

Victoria: That’s a big dent for one individual.

Rick: Yeah, that could ripple out to others.

Victoria: But more importantly to Adisa, once you have acted from this place of compassion, meaning forgiving– first of all, don’t define anybody as an enemy, number one. Recognize the humanity, if you will, or the being-ness. We are all, even in layman’s language, they tell us we’re all children of God. If that resonates with you, use that. Use that. Literally. And then from that position, then act, right? Whatever you have opportunity to do. Because then you will feel you will be at peace. Sometimes it’s like this feeling of helplessness, that, oh, what can we do? Or you feel part of a group that is oppressed. I think we can help change that by not feeling oppressed ourselves. That’s the first step. And then move into a place of power, not personal power. That’s the power, the power of God within you. And use that. Apply that.

Rick: Good.

Victoria: To good.

Rick: A question came in from Greg Cannon in Florida. He said, I had never heard of Joel Goldsmith. What was it about Goldsmith that personally, or impersonally, enhanced your awareness?

Victoria: Yes, thank you for that. He actually– that’s a really good question. Remember I talked about I, and I think you mentioned it, and then we talked a little bit about the I. I and my father are one, right? That’s a quote, and I’m not sure if the questioner is familiar with that. That’s a statement attributed to Jesus Christ. And it was thought that it meant Jesus and God are one, right? Therefore, Jesus is special. But in the same Bible, Jesus talked to us about, we are all sons of God, or children of God. So back to your question, what Joel helped me to see when reading his books clearly was the distinction of the two I’s, what he calls the two I’s. The universal I, which is the I of God, the I of the universal I, and a personal I. Like when I say, “I am talking to Rick.” So previously, it may mean to me that I, Victoria, here, I’m talking to Rick as a person. But in the clarification, what Joel Goldsmith helped me to get incredible clarity about is that there’s really just the I of the infinite being. That I’m not a separate being from that. That my being is sourced in that infinite being, right? So that I is misappropriated by an identity that thinks it has its own separate being. So that personal I, for me, I remember I want to say, oh, I does not exist. The personal I does not exist. But if we believe in that, then it’s real for us. And that’s the ego, the false sense of identity that clouds the true nature. So that distinction between the universal I, the I of God, the I of Jesus, I. The I, it does not refer to a man named Jesus. The I is when– it’s almost like when the consciousness of being announces its presence. I. But there’s a label given to it, Victoria or Rick or Joel. Or Rick or Joel. Then you have created a duality. One is false and not real, but it can cause havoc. It can cause a lot of grief. Because you think it’s real, and you start acting on that, only to find out that there’s only so much you can do with that. But the eternal infinite I is a true I of the– in fact, it’s not even necessary to use the I, but to realize in communication that that I is referring to, is actually a reference to true being, the source of being. That distinction came clear, very clear, in reading Joel’s books. And so he talks about conscious realization of the presence of God. I is God. I, in the midst of me, is God, not Victoria.

Rick: If you do a Google search for Joel Goldsmith, his website comes up number one, or a website about him. I think it’s called The Infinite Way. And also, if you search on YouTube, I think a lot of his old talks are on there. You can listen to them. He died in 1964 or something, but a lot of his stuff is online.

Victoria: Yeah. And I’m amazed. Actually, what amazes me about his books is– or his writings, I should say– how so current, you know? Because truth is eternal, you know?

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: He just couches it in religious language. And he was, I understand, a mystic healer, too, in his time.

Rick: Yeah, I’ve always heard good things about him. OK, well, we’ve probably been going just about long enough. This is a lot of fun. Is there anything you feel like you would like us to have talked about that we haven’t?

Victoria: No, I think we really covered a lot of ground today.

Rick: Yeah.

Victoria: And I know that people listen to your interviews, at least I did, for insights and helpful hints and all that. So in that vein, I would just encourage people to, if you find yourself questioning, inquiring, seeking, as they say, to just have a receptive consciousness, right? Knowing, if you will, and to be open. And then trust, trust your intuition, trust your insights, trust that intelligence. Because it’s there. Like I said, we just have to release it. Recognize it and thereby release its expression through us. And it will guide you. You know, I remember Krishnamurti, there was something I saw. One of those clips, little clips, like five minutes of his talks. He said to people, I think he used to have big meetings, he said to them, if you would just be quiet and listen, it will reveal itself to you. I had no idea what he was talking then. But now, this infinite intelligence is within each one. It’s just that developing the capacity by clearing up the clutter, still being quiet, stillness, quietness. Call it meditation, call it whatever you want to call it. But start with that five minutes, and just listen and see what is received. And it will guide you. You know, that’s what I want to just offer and say thank you, Rick, for this opportunity.

Rick: You’re welcome. You’ve been a really good guest. I’ve really enjoyed this. And I just want to add, because we had that discussion about meditation earlier, that as I understand it and have practiced it, the whole purpose of it is to allow the agitated mind to de-excite, to just settle down to a state of least excitation, you could say. And then this– in fact, the yoga sutras say that very thing. They say yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Then it says basically your true nature is revealed, or the seer rests in the self. So it’s just a matter of calming down the waves of the– you know how a choppy pond isn’t going to reflect the sunlight very well. But if the water is completely like a sheet of glass, the sun can just shine off it so brightly that it’s blinding. So it’s kind of like that way with the way the self can reflect or not reflect in a settled nervous system or an agitated nervous system.

Victoria: Right. Yeah. And then again, just to highlight that, I’m glad you make that point. Just to highlight it is to know that it is already within you. Sometimes–

Rick: Yeah, it’s there.

Victoria: It’s there. And starting with that knowing, that confidence, that acceptance, it can begin to unfold for you.

Rick: That’s really– that’s so important, too. I mean, I’ve often used this analogy. It’s like we’ve– in a way, it’s like many people are like beggars on the street, and yet who have actually won the lottery, but they didn’t even– the lottery ticket is in a sock drawer or something. They’ve forgotten it’s there. So they all have this tremendous wealth that they don’t realize. So we have this wealth within us of wisdom and joy and peace and all that.

Victoria: Yeah. I think in this day of experts on everything, there’s a tendency to look to others for the knowledge, for guidance. That has its place. For me, I would just say that if you are led to a person, to a teacher, yes, go, like I was. But it starts with you. You have to trust yourself. You have to accept. It’s acceptance, not belief. Just accept that it’s already within you, and that you can access it. And then you may find a book falling from a shelf while you’re in a bookstore and say, here, this is what you need. Or somebody will just give you something. But it starts with you. You have to open it up. What is it? Open up– create an opening for the imprisoned splendor to escape. But then who said that?

Rick: I forget. Sounds like Rumi or somebody. That’s great. And you found a good teacher, and Rupert didn’t sit up there and say, I am Rupert the Great. Come and kiss my feet. He basically said, it’s within you.

Victoria: He was great. I remember– oh, I’m so glad you– a lot of people felt that he was so intellectual.

Rick: He’s kind of intellectual. His voice is so soothing. Whenever I listen to him at the Science and Non-duality Conference, I would fall asleep because I’d be tired from the pace of the conference. And he would just– [SIGHS]

Victoria: That worked perfectly for me, I will tell you, because I like intellectual rigor. But what really, really resonated with me was, we were in that retreat where I had this experience. Somebody asked a question about, how can we see what you see? How can we see? And Rupert said, “I see the same things you see. I am no special person. I’m just like you. But I’ve just come to– but the difference is that I see things from my true nature. And you can, too.”

Rick: Perfect.

Victoria: Yeah, and that was great.

Rick: Good. All right, well, that’s a good note to end on. You can, too.

Victoria: You can. Yeah.

Rick: Great, well, thanks so much, Victoria. It was really, really fun. And let’s stay in touch.

Victoria: OK, thank you, Rick. Appreciate it.

Rick: Yeah. Thanks for listening and watching, folks. Next couple of interviews are going to be interesting. Next week, it’s Bernard Carr, who’s a cosmologist who studied under Stephen Hawking. And he’s an expert on the fine-tuning principle, which is sometimes called the anthropic principle, which is, how is it the universe even came to be and came to support intelligent life who could actually think about the universe, as opposed to just being a random jumble of nothing? So we’re going to talk about that. And the following week, I have– what’s his name? Thinking Aloud, New Thinking Aloud. And anyway, Irene will get his name. But he’s had this interview show for longer than I have. And — Jeffrey Mishlove, Jeffrey Mishlove. And I think both conversations are going to really be fascinating. So come to the website. There’s an upcoming interviews page. You can set a reminder in your calendar to be notified of the live ones, if you’d like to watch them live and send in questions. And there’s an email address sign-up thing if you’d like to be notified whenever a new one is posted, so that you can go and watch it. And of course, hey, it looks like this year, we’re actually going to reach 100,000 subscribers on YouTube, which is kind of cool. So if you haven’t subscribed to the YouTube channel yet and you feel like doing that, just hit the Subscribe button. And when you hit the Subscribe button, a little bell pops up. If you also click on the bell, then YouTube notifies you for sure whenever a new interview is posted. So thanks for listening and watching. Thanks again, Victoria.

Victoria: Thank you.

Rick: We’ll see you for the next one.

Victoria: Thanks to Irene and your team.

Rick: Yes. Thanks to Irene and our team, she says. Yeah, couldn’t do it without them.

Victoria: OK, bye-bye.

Rick: Bye-bye.