Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump My name is Rick Archer and my guest this week is Vishrant, from Perth, Australia. Vishrant and I have been going through all sorts of rigmaroles, trying to get our equipment working. We actually did an entire interview about a month ago and had technical problems. We’re redoing it tonight. But I really felt strongly motivated to do that, and as did he, because we really enjoyed our conversation. And I think others will enjoy it too. Vishrant is a spiritual teacher of sorts – not of sorts – He is a spiritual teacher in his area, with a relatively small group of students. He has a website which I’ll be linking to, where you can hear some talks he’s given. But this talk will probably be more extensive and detailed than anything on his website to date. We’re going to sketch the course of Vishrant’s spiritual life from his original inkling or awakening to spiritual things to very profound awakenings that he’s had over the years. I think some people would be able to relate personally to some of the adventures he’s been through, And others won’t because some of them are fairly extreme. So, as I recall, your first motivation, or realization that there is something more to life than meets the eye came when you were actually an adult, and a successful businessman. Is that right? Yes, it’s true. I found that life had been pretty good to me in a lot of ways. I had been successful in business. So successful as a young man, that at the age of 28 I was pretty able to cruise the world. Not work, just hang out and spend money.
(R): What was your business that was so successful?
(V): I owned a publishing company.
(R): What kind of stuff did you publish?
(V): All sorts of periodicals for different charities, for different clubs. I was the anti-drug campaigner for 8 years.
(V): Anti-drug, yes.
(R): Oh, that’s great. And, you started that from scratch, from the ground up? And by the time you’re 28, you’re financially self-sufficient?
(V): Yeah. It was a funny way to start, because I didn’t have any money at all, and I needed to be able to pay for printing, typesetting, sell staff and… So I started a company first of all that raised funds for football clubs. It was interesting because there is all this wine glut in the 70s in Australia, So much wine that the wine sellers couldn’t sell it. So I had this idea that I’d create a label for these bottles that had the football club’s colors on it, and a little character cheers the club coach. And we’d sell them in the areas around Perth where that club belonged to. The club would get a percentage of the money, the vineyards would get a percentage for their bottling and their wine, and I’d get a percentage for setting it up and selling it all. The winegrower paid for it because I didn’t have the money to pay for it, but I ended up getting enough commission from it because I had every football club in Perth done to actually fund my publishing company.
(R): That’s impressive! When I was that age… When I was that age I was teaching meditation but I never had much business or entrepreneurial sense. So, that’s inspiring. Most people would consider that to be the fulfillment of life, especially at such a young age. But apparently, something happened to shake you up a bit.
(V): I became a sannyasin, a disciple of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh and he introduced me to meditation, and the possibility of something greater than just personal wealth.
(R): Did you meet him personally?
(V): Eventually, I did, yes. I got to meet him, sit down and have a discussion with him. But that was because I had a publishing company and I was working as a journalist at the Ranch. And how did you, somehow stumble across him? There were friends of you that were into him? There were a lot of sannyasins in Fremantle, near Perth. My offices were in Fremantle. They had a lovely restaurant there called “Zorba the Buddha”. And I used to go to “Zorba the Buddha” and have the most amazing vegetarian food. I was attracted to these guys openness. They were so friendly and so open that I started socializing with them. I went to a few of their dances. And they were fun, they were a lot of fun. I enjoyed them, so I actually went along and did some kind of a group with them at some stage, about opening the heart. And during this group, I don’t know how it happened, but I had a vision of looking down a tunnel-like a long, big, water tunnel. And down the end of it was this little Indian guru calling me: “Come, come, come”! I took it as a sign, and I went: “Ok, I’ll take Sannyas” So I applied to Sannyas. They didn’t think that I was really suitable for Sannyas because I was not a hippy type, I was more a gang business man. So they said that I needed to do months and months of dynamic meditation, and months and months of kundalini meditation,… I did that. And eventually, I got Sannyas! And I got to wear an orange robe and the beads.
(R): Is there a traditional use of the word “Sannyas”? In the sense that you were actually reclusive at that point, you’re a monk, you’re celibate? Or is there a looser definition of that term? Because conventionally, that’s what that word means.
(V): It does mean that. And the Rajneesh sannyasins are not renunciates. They celebrate life. They celebrate food, sex, dance, everything! In a traditional sense, I think that even the word “sannyasin” might be a little wrong.
(R): Could be, I don’t know. I’m sure I’ve heard the Sanskrit equivalent of it at some point. But I don’t know how it’s actually defined traditionally. I can’t really comment on that. Do you know how it’s defined?
(V): It’s renunciate.
(R): In what sense is one a renunciate though, If one is reveling in food, sex, dance. In what is one renouncing?
(V): That was my point. There was no renunciation.
(R): Oh!! Hahaha!
(V): The Rajneesh sannyasins didn’t renounce, they celebrated. They enjoyed life. I think that’s what I was attracted to If they had been into renunciation I’d never had been attracted. I was truly a hedonist.
(R): It’s a sort of renunciation for hedonists! That’s what it is.
(V): No renunciation. No renunciation! Let me get that straight. It’s a total enjoyment of life. But, there is a big “But”: He was teaching meditation, and he was talking about a way of being in the world that wasn’t ego-based. That was beyond the ego, that transcended living as an ego: Living as beingness. And it interested me. Wow!
(V): Here is another mountain to climb, here is another place to go. That’s the ego saying that. But, that’s the seeker saying: “Wow! What’s out there? Let’s see if we can find it. And so, the adventure began.
(R): Is that how you got the name Vishrant? From Osho?
(R): Or we’re jumping ahead here?
(V): No, it’s a good question. When I wrote away for Sannyas, – because I was still in Perth, I didn’t go to America straight away – I had to write away for it. I’d got sent back the name Vishrant which actually means “rest”, or “relaxed”. That was because, in my application, I told them I’d like to come and help them run their Ranch! I think that one looked at my application form and said: “Take a break, dude !” ha-ha. “Here is your new name !” So, they came back with “Prem Vishrant” which means Restful love.
(R): Oh, that’s nice. Did you end up coming to Oregon and joining the Ranch there?
(V): Yeah, I came to Oregon I lived in Oregon, at the Ranch for about 4 months in 1984, and maybe 4 or 5 months in 1985. I was there when Osho Rajneesh himself was arrested by the American government.
(R): It must have been pretty wild. And there were all these wild stories about poisoning the local salad bar and chilling with the guns and all those crazy stuff coming out of the news.
(V): Yes, there was. I was there in the capacity of a journalist. I was also a sannyasin. I did an interview for the New York Bulletin, interviewing Osho. That’s how I got to speak to him. Because he was so big, there were so many sannyasins that you couldn’t just have a conversation with him. He was my One go, as a journalist, to say: “Hello! How are you going?” In that interview, he changed something about his energy field that changed my life. I’d never experienced myself lost forwards, I’d never experienced myself mindless. And in his presence, that’s what I felt.
(R): What was your take on…? I don’t mean to be asking… We gonna shift gears, and I’m going to keep asking skeptical questions: What was your take on all the Rolls Royce’s and all that? And later on, when he got older, there were all sorts of stories about being addicted to laughing gas, wearing gloves like Howard Hughes, and all sorts of cookie stuff that came out of the news. People might be curious if you’ve got a comment.
(V): He had 97 Rolls Royce’s, and I only had one, so I was failing! He was brilliant at advertising. I think that his all deal was: “Come and sit with me! See what I have to say” To get the people to come, he had all these different ways of advertising himself. I don’t really think he had much of an interest in having a huge sleeve of Rolls Royce’s. I think it was an advertising ploy. As far as Howard Hughes is concerned, I don’t know if you wear gloves or not. I don’t mind. I see it this way: From my perspective, he was my spiritual father because he introduced me to something beyond the mind. That’s that. That’s the best anyone can really do: to introduce you to your true nature. And that’s what he helped do.
(R): Yes. I may be sounding more cynical than I actually am because it’s very hard to find a spiritual movement that doesn’t have some apparently crazy stuff associated with it. And in some cases, very dubious behavior. But yet, these beautiful people come out of these things, still feeling great gratitude toward their teacher and being willing to forgive, or dismisses as conundrum mystery, some of the behavior that went down. And I’m good with that. It’s a relative world, certainly not a black and white world It’s a multi-colored universe. There’s a lot of paradoxes and things that we can’t just fully understand. Yet, there’s that saying: “Take what you need and leave the rest”, or “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water”. There is so many instances of spiritual movements that had mixed reputation, that produced all these great, wonderful, spiritual people, who went on to continue to inspire many others. That’s my attitude toward it. Take all the grains of salt, Don’t try to form any adamant conclusions about it, and just appreciate the good, the benefit that people derive from it.
(V): Yes. That’s true. That’s true with anyone. In my own experience, I had a great time. I had a great time. I’ve heard things, as you do, But I can only talk about my own personal experience, which was excellent.
(R): I’ve met others too, with Osho who can say the same. I’ve interviewed several, like Kranti Ananta and Rahasya,… In any case, this is about you, so let’s continue. You presumably left Oregon. You said you were there for 5 months. What was the next significant milestone on the journey?
(V): Two years after I interviewed Osho, I was going to the Barrow Islands which are off the west coast of Australia about 35 miles off. I was meeting a yacht over there and we were gonna do some diving on the islands, to check out some old wrecks. I took off in the morning in a runner boat It’s only some 16 or 17 feet long, to get to islands quickly so I could join this yacht. And I hadn’t looked at the weather. I got up in the morning and that was clear, there was very little breeze, it was perfect. I got my girlfriend, we got into the boat, we took off, and the cyclone hit! Hahaha!
(R): How far out to sea were you when it hit?
(V): It’s not how far we were when we hit because the islands that we were going to, at their highest point are only And the swells were like 40 feet high. They were huge!
(R): It could have just washed you over the island!?
(V): No, they were washing one over the boat! Hahaha! I powered it up, and I ended up in very, very very rough weather. Rough seas. And at some point, the boat I was in, the little dingy I was in had hit something in the water, a bottle or something like that, a cool drink bottle. And it put a hole in the bottom of the boat. The boat was sinking. I was very sea sick and after a few hours, we were circled by sharks. Two very large hammerhead sharks were circling the runner boat.
(R): You were just bailing frenetically, trying to stay afloat?
(V): The runner boat had electric pumps on it, which were good, and they worked for about 5 hours before they failed. They burned out. I’d sent out a Mayday, and they started to search for me.
(R): Good you had a radio!
(V): Yes, we had a radio on board. They couldn’t find us. They were looking I didn’t give them an accurate position. In those days we didn’t have GPS. You could buy them, but they were very expensive. They looked for us. We were in the water for about 18 hours. The boat sank down to gutter level and we were actually in the water with the sharks circling around. The waves were breaking over the top of this boat…
(R): What kept it afloat with that heavy engine on it?
(V): There was a flotation foam on the sides, which was just enough to keep the boat afloat.
(R): I see.
(V): But there was a fear the whole time that the boat would sink because it had quite a powerful big motor on the back. So what happened for me was that I realized I was going to die. I was probably going to die from being eaten by sharks. And you know, you think of Near-Death Experiences: you might have a car accident or a motorbike accident or a fall of some kind, and it happens for a few seconds, But when you’re actually sitting in the water being circled by sharks, knowing that the boat you’re in is sinking and you’re there for 18 hours, you really look at Death. You really look at: What do I value in life? What are things worth? What have I done with my life? What has value here? It devastated me because I realized that even though I’d been quite successful in the material world I was pretty bankrupt, in that I worked out that the only thing of value was heart. I wasn’t a very hearty person, I was more like a business machine. And it broke my heart. The whole experience broke my heart. We did get rescued at 2 o’clock in the morning by an oil tanker, which was another whole trip because we had to dive in the water through the sharks to get to the net that had been dropped by the oil tanker. But it changes you. Because you, all of a sudden, have a look at: “What I’ve been doing with my life?” What is all this success worth? It’s not worth anything because if you don’t have love you’re bankrupt.
(R): It reminds me of The Sermon on the mountain, or wherever it was: This beautiful […] kept saying: You can have this, that, the other things but if you don’t have love…
(V): Yes, you’re bankrupt. That was the beginning of the year, and then I decided to go to Italy. So I went to Italy and lived in Italy for a while and then to London. I was there for about 6 months. A friend of mine I was in business with, – we were in an R&D company – kindly suggested I’d go to see Paul Lowe or Teertha in Italy. He had a mystery school there. Just for a weekend. Because he felt a little bit of sadness in me. And he was right. And I went there, I was doing this 2-day group, and then I was going back to London to continue work. I never went back, I stayed with Paul Lowe for 5 months. Paul was running a mystery school, It was a great mystery school. He took me apart pretty much daily Hahaha! So, we’re talking about things that change your life, That was in 1987 and Jesus! That was a big year. A big year of change.
(R): When you say he took you apart, you mean that he was a harsh teacher? In that sense, he took you apart? Or more subtle than that?
(V): Most people, even if they can see you, they don’t tell you what they can see. Most people just let you go your own way and do your own things. Paul was one of these guys who had an ability to see. He could see you, and he was willing to tell you what he could see. What you did with that was your business. But, if you have a whole pile of belief systems running, that are keeping you contracted and you’ve got someone who’s showing them to you, You can see him as a gift or you can see him as the enemy depending on who you’re trying to impress. For me, Paul was one of these guys who just showed me how to undo everything. How to undo all the belief systems, how to get free of all the knots inside. He was very clear, very clear.
(R): That’s great. What shape were you in by the end of that?
(V): Let’s put it this way: I came back to Perth, and I gave my companies to my staff. Because I’d realized that what I wanted to do was wake up to my true nature and find heart. And that my business dealings as a publisher, which was pretty high pressure, were in the way I didn’t want to sell my companies, because my staff might be put out work, So I actually walked in the office at a meeting one day, and I just gave all my companies to my staff members, and I walked off.
(R): You couldn’t have just continued to own the companies and derive profit from them but not have to put much time in? You needed to kind of sever your time with them entirely?
(V): I already didn’t have to put time in, I had managers in place I was living in London and Italy. I just didn’t want the connection any longer to them. I wanted to be absolutely free to take my shoes off and walk around Australia. which I did for 4 years. Pretty much like a bum.
(R): So you literally took your shoes off and started walking? Kind of like Forrest Gump, if you’ve ever seen that movie. You just started walking?
(V): Yeah. Life is like a box of chocolates, You never know what you gonna get! Yes, that’s what happened. I ended up walking all around Australia. I went about 4, 5 times around Australia, for about 4 years…
(R): On foot? Or were you hitchhiking and stuff?
(V): No, hitchhike. I had a little backpack and I hitchhiked around. And I had no shoes on because I felt like I’d got out of touch with the earth. I felt like I was living in my head, I wasn’t in touch with the Earth anymore And I wanted to feel the earth under my feet. So I took my shoes off. Because as a business man you’re pretty well-heeled! Hahaha! I was out of touch with reality in lots of aspects, because You go to a restaurant, you look at the menu and you look at the price… I hadn’t looked at the price on a menu for about 8 years. I didn’t even know what a dollar was worth.
(R): You just got whatever you wanted!
(V): Yeah. So it was very nice because I gave all my credit also to my staff to my credit controller. He set up a company a debt collection company with that, and I actually went broke. Financially broke. I went around Australia for 4 years without any money
(R): How did you eat and stuff?
(V): I worked here, I worked there, little manual labor jobs. Nothing that involved being a businessman Nothing that involved me putting myself under that kind of pressure of being a businessman. It’s not that I had a breakdown or anything, I didn’t have a breakdown. I just had enough. I wanted to find out if people could like me for me, rather than what I could give them. When you’re a publisher and you’ve got a lot of money you never know. You never know why people are with you. I use to love paying for people. And you never know. To be able to meet people. They meet you and you are nobody, not a publisher who is successful but a nobody. They like you for you! And it was great to find that there were people who actually liked me for me, and not for what I could give them.
(R): As you were walking around Australia did you encounter… did you have any interesting encounters with Aboriginals?
(V): Yes I did! But that’s another story.
(R): They have the reputation, some of them, of being wise and spiritual. Was that your experience, or maybe not?
(V): It was my experience, yes. I met some elders in different places, and I believe I connected very strongly into what they called Dream time, which is their spirit world. I had some adventures in there. That was also a part of the journey, It was like a shamanic journey around Australia, going to all the energy centers, like Ayers Rock, Uluru – they call it Uluru now; and Mount Tamborine. These places are thousands of miles apart but these are places I went to because I was interested in having a look, feeling what the Earth was like.
(R): Is there anything that happened in terms of your inner experience in these places, or with the Aboriginals, worth recounting as part of this story?
(V): Yes. It always comes back to this: If you haven’t got heart, in my experience you’re broke. And for me, I kept looking and finding myself bankrupt. The regret of what I had done to people in my life to be successful, broke my heart open. And I started to realize that the way I wanted to live was a life of service rather than a life of taking. So, after 4 years of that, I went back to school, because I didn’t have any other skill except, really, business management. I went back to school and trained as a deep tissue masseur, I trained as a naturopath, I trained as a psychotherapist, night schools, day schools, so I could be in service. And then I decided that I’d be in service. When I first started, it was very odd, because I was in Byron Bay which is on the other coast, the East coast of Australia. I did my first massage, and I charged $25. That was hard work!! It was an hour, and I was touching someone else’s body! Ha-ha! And I was used to earning something like $100 an hour for not doing anything! But, I felt so good that I actually had been of service to this man, and that I could actually give something back. And at the same time earn a living. It was just a whole other feeling inside of me that was growing, that: “Yeah, this is the right way to go”. This is the way. To be in service to other human beings is so beautiful.
(R): There are people in this world who make a lot of money, and yet do a lot for people at the same time. Like Oprah Winfrey and people like that. They’re billionaires, but they do a huge amount of stuff to help other people. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. You had your path, that you felt compelled to follow…
(V): There’s an inner knowing in all of us. It’s a little bit separate from our logical mind. And my inner knowing was saying: … – It wasn’t even saying, it’s like it leads you – It’s kind of like you know which way to go. And it’s not logical. And sometimes it’s very inconvenient and uncomfortable. And you have a choice to follow that or not. But my feeling was to follow that, and it led me away from publishing and it led me away from business. It led me to take my shoes off and walk around Australia.
(R): You were just doing the next obvious thing …to you.
(V): It wasn’t obvious to my family, I can assure you!
(R): Right! They must have thought you were a nut!
(V): Yeah, they thought I was nuts.
(R): When you say “family”, did you have a wife and kids at this point, or were you still single?
(V): No no, I was single. I’m talking about my mum and dad! My old friends.
(R): Yeah. They were so proud of you! “Our son, the big successful business guy.”
(V): Yeah. I broke that image.
(R): How long did you work as a professional masseur, and psychotherapist?
(V): It was a progression. I started with massage, went to naturopathy, which is mainly natural medicine and then psychotherapy. That was a 10-year period. I worked here for 10 years.
(R): Was it sort of western-based natural medicine, or did you learn also about the indigenous medicines of Australia?
(V): No, it was pretty western-based. The only side that wasn’t western was the Chinese side…
(R): Oh, Chinese medicine! Ok.
(V): Herbalism. But the interest went to… Always people were coming, and they’re all unhappy. They were unhappy with their health they were unhappy with their lives… So I thought: If I want to treat the cause of their problems, I should study the mind I should study psychotherapy and find out how to treat cause, rather than just treating symptoms. And of course, that doesn’t work either! Ha-ha! Unless you can show someone beyond their mind, they’re still stuck inside the prison of their mind.
(R): Right. But at least you’re heading in that direction. You realized you needed to get to a more causal, fundamental level.
(V): Yes, I was eliminating what didn’t work.
(R): And then did you eventually reach another hiatus, where you felt: Well, I’ve taken this as far as I can take it, and it’s still not enough… So, now, what?
(V): Ok. No, that wasn’t what really happened. What happened was … When Osho Rajneesh died in 1990, I felt like I’d lost my spiritual teacher. But I decided to keep meditating, and I’d meditate every day, and I decided to play a game: In the beginning, it was called “Zero”. And the game was something like this: If you upset me, or something upset me, and I became aware of it, How fast could I come back to zero? How fast could I come back to nothing? That’s a game I played with myself for 10 years. I’d find myself contracted or in resistance, and as soon as I became aware how fast could I go back to nothing? How fast could I be empty again?
(R): Right. By “empty”, you mean, non-reactive, I think you just said that. A sort of state of equilibrium, in other words. Not get gripped or overshadowed by the incident that challenged you.
(V): Yes. Nonresistance. So, there’s just nothing happening. I think the Buddhists might call it dispassionate, but I don’t like that word that much.
(R): Sounds kind of emotionless when you say “dispassionate”.
(V): It does. But it’s not so emotionless as it is No resistance. It’s like allowing life to come through you and not be in the way. Not offering resistance to life.
(R): Is that a game that you got better and better at as you went along, to practice?
(V): Yes. When I first started, I was terrible at it. Hahaha. When I’d noticed that I was contracted, not support the contraction. Because I think that we like to be right, and righteousness gets in the way. Slowly but surely, I wanted to be successful in this game, so I dropped righteousness. And I found that in dropping righteousness I could go back to zero very quickly.
(R): Righteousness in the sense of “Me being right”?
(V): Usually our resistance to life is a bit like that: “I’m right, you’re wrong!” or: “This shouldn’t have happened!” In other words, one is objecting to what is. And, that’s resistance. It’s like, you’re fighting with God, Saying: “Hey, God, you got it wrong!” and I’m going: “Ok. Let’s see how fast I can drop that.”
(R): And you have the humility to find the quality of not insisting that things happen any particular way.
(V): Fair enough.
(R): Would you say that this game you played, the ability to sort of go back to zero,… Is being in a zero state, as you define it or as you call it, compatible with assertiveness? Does one become a pushover, just letting oneself be knocked this way and that way, not allowed to resist anything, or is it somehow possible to balance determination and assertiveness as needed with that sort of frictionless, effortless non-resistance state?
(V): Yeah. That’s the hard bit. It’s learning how to put your boundaries up in the world, and at the same time, be open. When someone confronts us or disagrees with us, quite often we’re raising resistance. And we talk from a place of resistance, And we put afford our boundaries from a place of resistance. But can we do it from a place of openness? That was the task. That was my goal. Can I actually be in the world, and still express my boundary strongly, But can I do it from a place of wide openness, rather than a place of contraction and resistance?
(R): It’s an interesting exercise, isn’t it? I mean, those two things are paradoxical, they’re contradictory, and yet, one can culture the ability to operate them both simultaneously.
(V): Absolutely we can. I have children, and when we’re having to put boundaries in place for our children, can we do it from a wide-open space, or do we have to do it from a contracted, angry space? Or a frightened space. So, you notice that you’re contracted, you notice that you’re upset: Can you open up again and still put the boundary in place? It’s a challenge, it’s difficult. I’m not gonna say it’s easy. But that was the game. The game of zero. And it changed over time. It changed to what I called “Openness”. It started as a game called Zero, and it changed into a game called openness Can you meet the world with openness, no matter what the world is doing to you? Or are you going to close every time you disagree with how the world is with you?
(R): Children are probably a pretty good limit test because you get immediate feedback on what’s working and what’s not.
(R): For instance, did you find that when you’re really remaining open and yet firm with your children, you’ve got the desired resulting change in their behavior, as opposed to when you were more rigid and close, trying to deal with them? Was there any kind of correlation in terms of the desired outcome? In terms of results?
(V): One would hope so, but not necessarily. Kids want what kids want! You know, if they want an ice cream, they want an ice cream! That’s it. They wanna do this, they wanna do this. It’s not necessarily about getting an external result, it’s about the internal result, of you, being able to stay open. And yes, I think that dealing with children from an open place is a much better way to deal with children But it’s still not really about what’s happening outside of you as much as it is about what’s happening inside of you. Can you stay open no matter what? The game and the challenge is called openness. And you start from now! Because, life offers us opportunities to close every moment. Every moment. We can resist, we can just get a thought we don’t like and go into resistance. Or our wife could walk in the room and tell us to do something that we don’t want to do. And: resistance! Can we notice that resistance, or can I notice that resistance and just let go and go back to nothing?
(R): That’s good. I think it’s a very valuable point you’re discussing here. Have you ever heard the story about the Zen monk? He had some followers and he was living in a village. This young girl in the village got pregnant by her boyfriend and she accuses the Zen monk of being the father. So, the parents were arrayed and they brought the baby to the Zen monk, and said: “He’s yours, take care of it”. And the Zen monk said: “Is that so?” Of course all of his followers were disgusted and they all left him. After some time, nine months or a year, the girl started feeling very guilty for what she had done, and she confessed that it has actually been her boyfriend, and this boy hadn’t been the Zen monk’s. So the parents were distraught that they accused him of it. They went to him and said: “Oh, we’re so sorry! We take the baby back.” And he says: “Oh. Is that so?” He let the baby. Meanwhile, he had been taking care of this child and begging for food around the village to feed him. It’s a kind of an example of going with the flow.
(V): Yes. The story is a little longer than that: genetic testing came into play. The geneticists test the baby and found that it was the Zen monk’s baby and they presented him the results, and he said: “Is that so?”
(R): Ha-ha. I never heard that angle of it.
(V): It’s an Australian version.
(R): Ok. So, ten years of massage, and then naturopathy and psychotherapy… But obviously, you’re not practicing psychotherapy now. So, lead us along. What happened next?
(V): There was still an interest in Truth, but there was a sense inside of myself that I’d miss this life time. Because my teacher had died and I didn’t really know if there was any other teacher out there. And I heard about Papaji, who was in Lucknow. He only just died, which was a shame because I watched a video of him and I thought he was great. But he had some people giving Satsang, One of them was Gangaji. I listened to some of her videos and I thought: “Wow, she’s great!” This was back in 1998, or something like that. And then I heard that there was a guy coming to town! That was Isaac Shapiro. He was coming to town 400 Kms south, about 300 miles south of here. I booked some accommodation and I got the family all ready because we’re gonna go down to Denmark, which is south of Perth, and we’re gonna sit with this guy and see what he’s like. And then I got a video of him! I watched this video, which was called: “The relationship video”, and he was sitting there with his wife, giving therapy to people. And I didn’t agree with it! I just didn’t agree with this guy!! Aww, God! But I already paid for the trip down to Denmark. So I took the family down there, thinking that I’m not gonna get anything from this man. I went in, I wasn’t even interested, I sat in the back of the hall, as far away as possible I wasn’t interested in scrambling to the front, as a lot of people do. He walked in the room, and I went into Beingness. Hahaha! The fire inside of me after that was just huge!! Everything was given to Truth.
(R): Had you had experiences of going into Beingness like that before? Or was this your first time that something of that degree had happened?
(V): No, I had satoris in the ’80s, and I had experienced myself,… or an absence of myself, and I experienced Beingness, So it wasn’t an unfamiliar experience, but it was unexpected. And there was, all of a sudden this fire for Truth within me again, And I was willing to throw anything on this fire, anything that got in the way. Any obstacle that was in the way. It changed my life because I had a new direction The direction now was to open up and let go of everything and find myself as that. And of course, that’s the ego that wants to do that, but that’s the ego that is the seeker. And in that throwing everything on the fire, in the devotion to that, you start to experience yourself as that.
(R): It’s a little bit metaphorical to say, “throwing everything on the fire”. What exactly to you mean by that? What were you, metaphorically throwing on the fire?
(V): All belief systems, all righteousness, anything that contracted and was in the way of the expansion. Anything that was in the way. Anything that brought awareness back to the mundane. Self-inquiry was used to bring awareness back to itself continuously for long periods of time And there was a flip-flopping affair where there had been an experience of this vastness of Self, and then an experience of this contraction of self. And then an experience of the vastness of Self …and then back to this contraction. There was a sense that there was a loss. And at some point, there was a realization that there is no loss, there is just awareness shifting from itself back to a dream. back and forth.
(R): This was different from your exercise of coming back to zero? or coming back to a simple non-grasping state, that you’ve already been practicing for some time. This sounds like an order of magnitude greater although it does sounds similar.
(V): No, it’s much greater. The coming back to zero is just a mind trip, just dropping the mind.
(R): Just a mental exercise, yes. Ok.
(V): This is awareness becoming aware of itself. Beingness becoming aware of itself. In the “Coming back to zero”, you’re a contracted mind, and then you’re not a contracted mind. But you’re still mind. Whether you’re contracted or not contracted, you’re still mind. This is awareness aware of that that the mind appears in. Awareness of what everything appears in. It’s a different experience. I can’t really be described, actually. It’s profoundly different.
(R): Were these oscillations from that to contraction and that to contraction, were they at all within your control or they’re completely automatic? Do they have anything to do with anything you could…do? Could you do anything whatsoever to trigger those expansions or were you holding on for life and going along with the ride?
(V): Ok. That’s a good question. Sometimes I was holding on for life because it pulls you in. You as an “I” are thinking: “I’m going on for that”. And you find that it pulls you in. That’s a sense. It’s not quite correct, but it’s a sense. There was also self-inquiry because I was very keen on Ramana Maharshi’s methodology of self-inquiry. So, I could ask the question: “Who am I ?” and then start to disappear as an “I” and start be this expanding reality as Self. Then the mind would come back in again. And often you would have this combination You’d have this expanding reality as Self and you would have the ego standing there somewhere. The Truth and the lie they’re standing together. But the lie, the “I”, was now kind of like fantom rather than something really solid. Like you could see through it. And it didn’t have the power, because it had lost its credibility. In that: Here I am as Truth, without an “I”, and here is the I, as just knowing it’s not real anymore, knowing that what’s real is Beingness, and the I is just a dream. Without projection, without imagination, it doesn’t exist. Knowing it! Because we’re so keen on the belief that I am the body, I am the mind. But it’s a belief! You take away imagination and there’s just nothing here, there’s no one here! There was this experience of the two together. Then the mind has a choice which one to serve. You can serve the ego, serve the I, or you can serve Truth. If you’re serving Truth, for instance, sake as a mind, you would be continuing to self-inquire. You wouldn’t be getting involved in the story of I. The other side of serving Truth, in my experience, is that you give your life to Truth. You give your life to Heart, You give your life to whatever. Whichever way it wants to take you rather than what way you wanna go.
(R): It does sound from what you’re saying that there is sort of a choice: you can shift the attention this way or that way, give a little bit more emphasis or priority to this, or a little bit more emphasis or priority to that. And according to which way you did it, you’re either dropped into that vastness, or you contracted more.
(V): Yes. It’s like that. Then after 9 months of this kind of flip-flopping affair, there was this sense of… This expandedness was here, as Self, and it was always here. I get to bed at night, it would be there, I’d wake up in the morning, it was there. It still would be something else there but it wasn’t relevant. The expandedness was relevant. It was a surprise. The mind itself was so surprised that this was the case because it was so used to waking up as I: my future, my past, what am I doing today? And instead of waking up as that, there was this sense of…”Wow! This is still here! This is beautiful”.
(R): Was there any sort of adjustment period as this was dawning? Was your functioning impaired in any way? Learning how to function in that abundant state? Or was it a pretty smooth transition?
(V): No, it wasn’t smooth. The mind, the ego, the identified part kept wanting to claim it. Ego would try talking, and there would be this jagged kind of way of talking. It was difficult at first. It was because the editors keep trying to interfere and slowly, slowly, slowly, the editor dropped away. So there is talking without this prethought, overthought or afterthought. The editor started to disappear into the background and it became much easier. For me, I didn’t know. I didn’t have a teacher available at that time. They were all overseas. So what I did was that I decided to sit still. And I had to sit still. I’d sit all day. I’d get up at 6.00 in the morning, and I’d sit still. I had breakfast, then I go and sit still. I’d sit still all day, and I’d sit still until night. And as result I lost my psychotherapy practice I lost my naturopathy practice. Because people would come as clients and I’d be sitting there with them, but I couldn’t talk.
(R): I see. You’re still going to the office, you weren’t just sitting in your room. You’re still going to the office but you just weren’t very animated.
(V): In those days I was home schooling my children, and I was actually operating from home. I had a clinic set up in my house. So people would come to the clinic at our house. I didn’t have to leave the house, I just go into the clinic, they come in and they tell me their problems, and I’d go: “Hum, hum…!” But that was about it. “hum, hum”! Because I was so profoundly in silence and in stillness, “Hum hum”, was the best I could manage! And of course, they went: “Hum, hum, we’re not paying you anymore”.
(R): You were married at this point?
(V): Was I married?… Yes, I was married.
(R): How was your wife about this?
(V): It was very, very difficult for her, because one of the things that happened for me at least, was that as there was more of the finding of this Beingness as Self, there was more of this tremendous purging of whatever was inside of me. It affected my mind, it affected my moods, it affected everything. And there was an unwillingness to cooperate, in a lot of ways. I just wanted to sit in my room and to be alone. I feel that it was very hard for her in those years. And I say years. It wasn’t just months. Because there was this huge pouring out of energy, that had been stored for life times I guess. And it’s huge, huge!
(R): Are you still with the same woman?
(V): Oh, yes. She did leave for about 18 months, but she came back.
(R): She sounds like a trooper!
(V): She’s great.
(R): It sounds like you didn’t really have a lot of choice in the matters: this thing was so big, and it was so relentless and so insistent, the changes you’re going through, that you couldn’t put a lid on it, and just be a normal guy. You just had to go through what you were going through. Right?
(V): It seems that way. But I don’t know, because I did support it rather than not.
(R): Yes, you allowed it to…
(V): Yes. I didn’t fight it. It was like I wanted it. My mind wanted it. It wanted this. So it was willing to pay whatever price was required to support it.
(R): Were you optimistic that there was gonna be a light at the end of the tunnel? That you were going to somehow pass through this Dark knight of the soul or whatever you were going through, and things were gonna be nice on the other side? Or was it really unknown territory? You had no assurance of that?
(V): I had no idea that there was ever gonna be anything different than what was happening in the moment. And that was Ok, because Beingness is here, and Beingness is beautiful. Even though all this other stuff might be happening. But Beingness is beautiful. And my mind was and still is in absolute adoration of Beingness. It’s a devotee. From the mind’s perspective, I’m a total devotee of Truth and Heart.
(R): As far as your practical life was concerned, you had no assurance that you were gonna become a more functional person, at any point. This could have gone for all of your life, for all you knew?
(V): I had a suspicion I was gonna end up in the gutter. [both laugh]
(R): You could also take your shoes away and walk around Australia again, I suppose!
(V): That wasn’t that unrealistic, because I was losing… I lost my client base as a naturopath and…
(R): You’re losing your income.
(V): Yes. And what happened was that people started coming to me because they wanted to find out about Truth. They wanted to sit with me. And that was nice. So, there was a change over where I went very very poor for a while but it picked up. But there was a willingness in me, there was an absolute willingness to go totally broke. To end up in the gutter. Whatever it took. Whichever way it took me …I was God’s girl! One way of putting it!
(R): I was mentioning this sort of gentle transition from supporting yourself with patients, to having spiritual students come. I presume they donated or paid some little fees, to enable you to sustain yourself.
(V): Yes. At the beginning, it was all by donation. About 5 years ago I changed it to operating a mystery school. So people pay a fee to come to a mystery school.
(R): Standard tuition or whatever?
(V): Yes. It’s at set hours. It’s nine 3-hours meetings a week. If they want to come to them all, they can, or they can come to a few. It’s up to them.
(R): But I have a feeling that your personal story isn’t finished, as you related it to us. There were some more profound or dramatic shifts or awakening at some point. Right?
(R): Pardon my use of terminology. But you were still going through this transitional thing. You hadn’t completely stabilized or solidified in this Beingness…?
(V): Ok. Beingness is always stable, let’s put it that way. It’s about where awareness is at. If you put your awareness on all the junk, if you put your awareness on the world, that’s where you live. You pretty much live where awareness is at. Awareness here, no matter what is happening, is on itself. There is this sense of stillness and silence and vastness. It’s here.
(R): At a certain point, did that become unshakable? A point of no return?
(V): Yes. That happened around about But what I was trying to say before, was that even though that had happened there was still all this junk coming out of the body. I noticed that my mind, even though there is a sense of vast expansion of Self, the mind was moody. And for about 2 years, there was a sense of being drunk all the time. I thought, because I studied the Sufis a little bit, that it was Divine drunkenness. But it occurred to me after, because it stopped, that there was actually the experience of Beingness and then the mind experiencing purging at the same time. And it made the mind feel like it was drunk. And then one day it just went absolutely crystal clear. Bang! It just stopped.
(R): So all the purging, the catharsis, and all that stuff, it just stopped? Bingo, like that?
(V): The drunkenness stopped.
(R): Do you still feel even now that there is some purification or purging or whatsoever going on? Or did you finally reach a point in which all that was finished?
(V): From time to time, things come through. You can’t see what you can’t see. What’s unconscious in you is unconscious in you. So I can sit in my room and be absolutely everything, and then something might come through, like a cloud. I haven’t been interested in stories for about 12 years, but you get different things that come through. But nothing matters. It’s like: “So what?” You can pay attention to it and get caught in that, or you can just let it pass through.
(R): Yes. And it just passes.
(V): I love the analogy of letting the river take you rather than you trying to swim. In trying to swim the way you wanna swim, that’s also analyzing what’s going on. That’s you trying to work it out because you want to be safe. But this is about letting go and trusting, and letting the river take you. So if it wants to drown you, it drowns you.
(R): You’re a married man, you have one or two kids,…?
(V): Three kids.
(R): …and do you enjoy normal stuff with your family? Watch a movie, go to a football game, whatever? Or do you find yourself to be rather disinterested in ordinary things like that?
(V): I lost interest in all of that around 12 years ago. I still watch movies, but I prefer to be alone. I don’t go to football matches. But I do get involved in things for the Sangha, or the group that comes and sees me. As far as my family is concerned, I try to get involved in what they’re doing but there is not much interest. There’s not a great deal of interest. I prefer to sit in my room by myself. This might sound very selfish, but there’s just not a great deal of motivation to do anything else
(R): Is the family OK with that?
(V): The family is pretty good. We homeschooled our kids, my wife is also a naturopath, and she stayed home to home school them So they get a lot of Mum, and I’m here all the time in the house. I’m just not very active in other ways. My life just changed: It went from being very active in the world, to very quiet in the world. It was a real change for me, because I was one of these people who used to be into everything. And I went into stillness and silence. So I’d say, it’s been difficult for them.
(R): How old are they now?
(V): My son is 15, my daughter is 16 and my other daughter, because I have two daughters, is 22. My 22-year-old left home quite a while ago We still have the 16- and 15-year-old at home, and… I love them to bits.
(R): That’s the age when I was just going to my hellishest years.
(V): Oh yeah! Same.
(R): Becoming a real terror for a couple of years there.
(V): me too. I was bad news when I was a teenager, for everyone. So, the Mystery school that I have, I get them involved in that to some degree because we have a sport. I got them involved in martial arts. Swordplay. For a while, I taught it and practiced, but nowadays I’m sitting still again. My son last night was out with the group, called Templestone swords, and they’re having a training session with kingly swords. There is about 30 of them together and they play swords. They armor up they’ve the shinais and they do all the different sword motions, and they have fun.
(R): Great. So, you’re saying that the sword stuff or the martial arts are actually part of your mystery school?
(V): They are indeed, yes. Everyone participates. Everyone who is in the mystery school.
(R): What else do you do in your mystery school? I mean, what is the curriculum? What sort of practices, or what are the people engaged in?
(V): Ok. We come into Satsang, we come into a meeting, and people tune into the background if they can. They tune into that and see if they can find the background as themselves.
(V): Beingness, yes. And they might just stay like that, or they might have something in their life that’s noting them up, that they wanna have a look at, some kind of belief system that they are holding, something with a relationship that’s not working for them,.. Then there is an attempt to have a closer look at that and look through it, and see how that particular belief system might be keeping them trapped…
(R): They articulate their belief systems to you, and then you help them to see through it. Is that what you’re saying?
(V): Yes. That happens. The other thing that happens is that people give their opinions about things. We’re all pretty friendly with each other as it’s not a very big group, and in giving their opinions, they start to see the possible places where they might be stuck and caught and contracting, losing this beautiful expansiveness to come back to this solidness and recognizing: “Ha-ha, there is something I haven’t seen before! There is something that’s actually keeping me trapped.” In a way of living that’s unpleasant maybe.
(R): In a way you’re teaching them the old “come back to zero” game that you used yourself, right?
(V): It’s more than come back to zero. If you just let go and come back to zero you don’t see the belief systems, so they’ll repeat themselves. In looking at your mind, in watching your mind as you’re doing this and seeing through your mind, you see the belief systems and then you don’t have to repeat them. If we don’t see why we’re contracting, if we don’t see how it happened, it just keeps happening.
(R): I see. You can relax out of it, but if you don’t see why it keeps constraining, then it will just keep doing that.
(V): Yes. That’s my experience. It’s like this game of zero that I use to play or the Game of openness that I use to play It allowed my mind to go “pfffooo”! ha-ha. I think Ramana talked about having an elephant walk around in his hat, something like that. The mind feels like a bomb has gone off and it’s gone “Pfffooo”: It’s just flat.
(V): And I put that down to this game, this practice of zero. Because it’s easy for us to stand up solid and be strong. It’s easy. But can we actually be nothing? Because that’s the hard bit. So these people come to this group, and all sorts of things happen. People have satoris, people see what’s in the way, People learn to love each other. How beautiful is that! Learning to love people!
(R): Absolutely. Do you use a sort of a Byron Katie kind of system, to help people dismantle their beliefs or their grip on their thinking?
(V): I’m eclectic. I use anything that works. And from time to time, I definitely use Byron Katie’s work. Whatever works to help a person see through his/ her mind, to see what’s in the way. I’m not stuck on anything. I like John de Ruiter’s teaching of being tenderly Ok with whatever appears. That, in itself to me is one of the best teachings I’ve ever come across because the ego can’t defeat it. The thing with being tenderly Ok with whatever appears is that the ego can’t make anything of that. If you are tenderly Ok with what is, the ego is disappearing already. Whereas with Self-enquiry, which is Advaita Vedanta, there is a possibility of using it to escape stuff. You’re feeling uncomfortable, so you enquire and you get away from it. That’s just another escape technology. So there needs to be a little bit of care: Why are you self-enquiring? Are you Self-enquiring to find your true nature, or are you self-enquiring because you’re on the run? And if you’re on the run, you gonna keep running! Because my observation is that, one of the things that need to occur is that this running away from what’s inside of you, needs to somehow cease. And it needs to become a willingness to actually be with what appears. Rather than a controlling, a continual controlling of what is.
(R): Yes. What you’re saying implies relinquishing the reins in a way. Because as long as you’re controlling, you’re keeping your ego very nicely intact in the driver seat. But you won’t have that kind of freedom that you’ve been talking about.
(V): That’s it. It depends on what you want, doesn’t it? If you’re actually going for freedom, the controller needs to learn to let go.
(R): Yes. I think that’s utterly what people want, but perhaps they want it in stages. You can’t quite see that it’s what you want if you’ve got so many stages yet to go through before you’re close to it. You yourself just gave us an account of several decades of going through various stages. Each stage has its own arising. You get to that arising and you see another arising…
(V): Yes. It’s true. It’s a journey. You can make it a fun journey, or you can make it a hard journey. And that’s totally related to how much you accept what’s going down. If you’re in acceptance of what is going down, it can be a fun journey. If you’re in non-acceptance, you’ve just created a highway to hell. For yourself.
(R): Do you feel that there is a fairly wide range amongst your students in terms of their stage of progress? Or they’re all fairly advanced, intermediate,…?
(V): I’ve got people who are very advanced and I’ve got people who are just beginners. What I love about them is their enthusiasm, because I think that’s what makes the difference. If you’re enthusiastic for Truth, that’s it. That’s all you need. You only need enthusiasm. So when someone comes to me, and say he/she is enthusiastic, wants this, that’s all he needs! Nothing else matters. Who they’ve studied with, what they’ve read, what they know, are irrelevant compared to their enthusiasm, their thirst for Truth.
(R): Good point. How many people are in the school?
(V): Currently we have 14 full time, they come every meeting, and we have a circle of people who come every now and again. We have an inner core, and we have an outer core.
(R): Right. I saw a picture on your website of a group of people with those Greek leaf things on their heads or something like that. Is that something people do, or is that a celebration you’re having, or what was that?
(V): We have parties, for birthdays. So every time someone has a birthday, – we try to put two of them together – and we have a party. And every party is fancy dress. If you go on my Facebook page, you’ll see all sorts of different costumes that people are wearing. Because we get very creative with our themes.
(R): It sounds like fun.
(V): I think I like having fun a lot, and I find that a lot of spiritual groups tend to be very sober, in that they’re very boring, ha-ha!
(R): It’s funny because a few minutes ago you’re saying: “Well, I like silence, I don’t do much interesting stuff with my kids, and I like to keep myself to be silent…” And now you say that you like fun, you like parties and everybody dresses up!
(V): I understand. For keeping people interested in having a look, I’ve created an environment where they have fun. I’m quite happy to sit in my room and just stay there. I love my room. But as a teacher, I’m looking at what’s gonna work for these people. Because a lot of people are young and sitting still in meditation is a bit dry. So I look for different ways where, as a group, we can find things to do that are entertaining. And more of a celebration of life, rather than a denial of life. Which brings us back to what we were talking about before about being a sannyasin. Osho was into celebrating life, and I kind of took that mental on board. I like the people who come to see me to celebrate this journey rather than struggle.
(R): Are some of the people in your group having the sort of awakening that you had? Settling into Beingness, as you put it, in a kind of stable way, and they don’t lose it?
(V): At the moment, I haven’t got anyone stable but I’ve got people going into Beingness regularly. I’ve got people having satoris regularly finding themselves as Truth, every Satsang. But it’s: leaving Satsang, finding yourself as Beingness, leaving Satsang, and then getting caught up in drama again, and forgetting, and putting something before Truth. How do you teach people to put Truth first? I don’t know. You got to want to. You gonna want to put Truth first, more than anything else.
(R): You went through the same stage. You went through a period when you kept vacillating or fluctuating between one or the other and eventually kind of stabilized. Maybe there is a physiological thing going on, where the physiology has to be cultured or stabilized, in its ability to maintain that?
(V): Could be. So much is unknown! I didn’t have a teacher who taught me how to teach. I kind of have a guess at it. All of a sudden, there is this knowing Self as Beingness, and then people wanting to know: How do you do that? And I’m going: “Yeah… I don’t know!” Ha-ha! I don’t know how you do that! Because you don’t do that, it’s a non-doing. But It’s like going back through your own history and having a look at: “What did I do that helped me get out of the way?” “What did I do that may have supported this?” And then try to help create that in another human being. And blindly sometimes thinking that maybe that will work and experimenting. Because I don’t come from a lineage, I don’t have a teacher behind me who’s willing to say: “Hey, that works, and that doesn’t work”. A lot of it is in the dark. And really, I’m just a nothing, trying to show people how to be nothing. And egos don’t want to be nothing! They want to be something, they want to be the something that is a nothing, ha-ha!
(R): As you say, you are eclectic and you take advantage of whatever works. And it must be someone who has arrived at the goal of all those different techniques, to be in a position to interpret them or utilize them, more effectively than someone who hasn’t. You know what I mean? You can take for instance Byron Katie’s work, perhaps see it and apply it with a clarity that might not be available to you, had you not early arrived at the place where the work tends to bring a person to.
(V): I understand what you’re saying. But…there’s no mistakes. People are where they’re meant to be at. There’s no mistakes. This idea of being a teacher is a false idea. This idea of having a teaching is also a false idea. I mean, it’s all Beingness, everything is Beingness. You get out of your head and there’s no teacher, there’s no teaching there’s no disciple, there’s no students. We’re all just one. And then you come back into your head, which is a dream, and you go: “Oh ok, these persons think they are a somebody, and he want to be nothing” They already are nothing!! Hahaha! How do we get rid of the thing that thinks it’s something?
(R): You know there is a saying which is… I guess this could be put either way, but: “The gun of the waking state can’t kill the tiger of the dream state” or vice versa. The gun of the dream state can’t kill the tiger of the waking state. So, yes, it’s a dream, but you have to sort of play around in that dream, with dream toys, to help people to come out of it. You have to meet people on their own ground, to a certain extent.
(V): Yes. Yes, you do.
(R): Otherwise, you can just sit in your room and not have a mystery school. Sit there in silence and let everybody work it out on their own. But you’re kind of meeting them halfway.
(V): It’s funny, because you look at your mind, and you look at your drives. What drives you to do this? What drives you to do that? Once upon a time, I use to be driven by a need to be successful to prove myself to my dad. And I was also driven by anger. I saw these drives. Now there is a look for my drives, and it’s just not there. But if you, for instance, are interested in Truth, something arises in me, that wants to meet you, and just wants to be with you. It doesn’t want to teach you, but it wants to be with you. I’m looking at that. My mind is looking and it’s going: “What’s that drive?” And I don’t know. But what’s with it is love.
(R): That’s nice. Maharshi used to use an analogy when he said that the reservoir just can’t set itself forward a reservoir. People need to put a hose up to it or put a pipe up to it. And according to how large a pipe they put, that’s how much water they get from the reservoir. So you need to approach the fullness of knowledge, embodied by the teacher who, even by himself might not have any motivation to do anything. But that sort of interaction is a catalyst to get him to flow in your direction.
(V): Yeah. There’s still a sense that there’s a teacher. And, I don’t get that sense. There’s no teacher. There’s just vast emptiness, that is beautiful, and there is dreams that would like that, but are already that. And it’s so difficult I understand what you said, but in acknowledging what you said, there’s an acknowledging that there’s a teacher. And the truth is: I can’t find a teacher!
(R): Yeah. That’s true too, totally. Obviously, ultimately, I think we would both agree that there is no teacher and that all the stuff, all the […], is all dreams. But there is some acknowledgment of … There seems to me that anyone who is appearing to play the role of a teacher if you want to put it that way, is… I don’t know if the word “compromised” is right, or “accommodate”, but there is some sort of willingness to interact with the dream characters who would like to wake up from that dream themselves. You know what I’m getting at?
(V): I do. It’s a pretense. It’s a pretending to be someone who knows and taking on a role, which is a pretense, of being a teacher. And it’s not real too, and when a person does find themselves as Truth, they see the Truth of that: There is no teacher. This is just rubbish. There is no teaching, just this vast space or vast Everything. I’m stuck with… You’re in front of me talking to me right now, and I’m gone: “This guy is keen on Truth! What can we do with him?!!!” Because for me you’re real right now, everything else is not real. Because we’re here together. If we’re playing this game, how can we play so we both get blown apart and find ourselves as Truth? How can we play this game? And it’s the same when a student comes, it’s like: “Uuuhhmm! How can we blow this person’s mind so he can find himself as Truth?” Because the only thing in the way is the mind. There’s nothing else in the way. The one who’s seeking is the one who’s in the way. Ha-ha. That’s throws people a bit!
(R): For some reason, these interviews are a good mind-blower for me. I usually feel pretty blown by the end of each one. Somehow it serves the role of an evolutionary practice or spiritual practice.
(V): What happens to me with you, because we talked a few times now, the more we talk, the greater this love arises for you. It’s like you’re my only brother who I’d love to do anything for. Hahaha. I have no idea where it comes from. It’s a mystery.
(R): And you probably experience that with a lot of people, right? Not just me? Whoever you’re focusing on, interacting with, that love wells up, correct?
(V): I first noticed it a long time ago, years and years ago, maybe 15 years ago. I was watching a snail crawling up a plant leaf, and this love arose for this snail! If you ever come to my house in Perth, the garden is full of snails, because I can’t kill them, because I love them so much!
(R): That’s beautiful. I interviewed a Swami last night, You will see the interview, I want to put it online. Radhanath Swami. We couldn’t hang up at the end of the call! We end up the interview and the two of us just sat there for 10 minutes, continuing to talk. There was just this reluctance to hang up, because so much love had developed during the interview. He’s such a hearty guy! I was gonna ask you… Now, I’m going blank too.
(R): You’re getting to me!
(V): My favorite place is blank.
(R): Well… I have drawn a blank, for the first time in a long time. Oh, I know what it was, I was gonna tell you a little story. We’re talking about illusion, and how everybody is a dream character I told the story before in these interviews, but it’s been quite a while. There is a story about Shankara, the great Advaita teacher who lived a long time ago, He was becoming very renowned around India, as being this enlightened sage. He’s very young as well, he was only like 12 years old when he wrote his commentary on the Brahma sutras. Some king wanted to meet him, and he wanted to test him to see if he was as enlightened as everyone said he was. So as Shankara was approaching the palace the king let loose a wild elephant, and the elephant came charging down the road. And Shankara just scrambled up a tree, out of reach of the elephant. When the king saw that, he said: “Ha-ha, you’re obviously a phony, because if the world is an illusion, why would you bother to climb the tree?” And Shankara’s response is: “Well, the illusory elephant chased the illusory me up the illusory tree!”
(R): And I guess the moral of the story is that you do take action. You don’t just say: “Oh, the world is an illusion” and splash, you get squashed! You take appropriate action in all kinds of ways, but without losing the recognition of what’s real and what’s not.
(V): That’s a good point, because sometimes the reference points disappear so much, that there is not much here that you recognize at all. The ego basically holds itself together with reference points. It references itself from memory from the past, and projections and imagination to the future. It references itself in analyzing and references itself in a body. And you get to a stage when a lot of these reference points disappear, being in the moment: no future, no past, the body starts to disappear,… It’s like Lalaland, but it’s not Lalaland, because you’re really present. And then operating a car can be fun, because you’re driving alone in a car, and… you have no idea where you are!
(R): Is there anyone really driving the car?
(V): No one is really driving the car, and it’s not Alzheimer’s, It’s that you’ve lost your reference points, because you’ve gone too far in the Beingness, and the reference points have disappeared. Then you come back: “Yeah, I gonna be here, I gonna drive this car, I gonna go shopping.” Ha-ha.
(R): Yes. And of course, there have been famous sages like Anandamayi Maa, Neem Karoli Baba,… they had to be fed and kept from wandering off into the jungle because they were so unconcerned or uninvolved with their bodies. But it seems to me that there is always a sort of integration process and that one can reach states of awareness or degrees of presence that would render a person completely nonfunctional if one would enter into them instantly or suddenly. But through a process of integration, one can culture the ability to function in practical, ordinary life, and yet in a very profound [state]. You may take exception to some of these adjectives but in a very exalted state.
(V): No, I don’t take exceptions, ha-ha.
(R): I mean, for instance, Osho. You had great reverence for him, and he seemed to be a very high being, and you felt transformed in his mere presence. And yet he was running an organization and probably giving people all kinds of directions and conducting interviews, doing all kinds of practical stuff.
(V): With Osho, I wasn’t one of his friends, I was a disciple who he never even met until I interviewed him. You and I are having this wonderful conversation where we can be very friendly. This is quite nice. He was a distant kind of figure for me. I don’t really know much about him because it’s all what he says. I wasn’t there, I wasn’t the one he spoke to, I wasn’t the one who got involved in what he was doing. He was playing more of a distant role.
(R): In organizations like that with lots of people and a famous guru, there is usually a pecking order. There are all sorts of politics going on, as to who’s gonna get close and who’s not. It’s nice you have this intimate little mystery school, just you and your people, able to be together without all the hoopla. I have a feeling that your answer to this question would be a stroke of the shoulders because you live so much in the present, I’m sure you don’t think about the future and all that stuff, but: Do you have any sense of life having a direction? A feeling that maybe there is this arising and this gonna be my next arising… Is that absurd to even talk that way? Are you just living fully in the moment and come what may?
(V): Yes, I don’t have a future.
(R): Ok. I thought you would say that.
(V): I don’t have a future and I don’t have a past, really. I’m just here. I can pretend to have a future, and I can pretend to have a past, but to me they really are pretenses. There is just now with you, and this is pretty cool. Here we are.
(R): Let me put it this way, just to push the point a little bit: Do you have a sense that now there is some greater clarity or insight, and expansiveness than there was a year ago? 2 years ago? there is a kind of continual deepening, or unfolding, or is it just: “It is what it is”, and there is no sense of progress, to use that word?
(V): Progress is probably the wrong word, but there is a sense of continuing an absence of the I, an absence of the mind. It’s not so much a progress as a diminishing.
(R): I see. That can be a sort of progress. Progress in the direction of diminishing!
(V): People talk about going deeper into Beingness. Beingness is just the way Beingness is. The only thing that can change is the mind. So the mind, as it opens up further and further, and leaves all its reference points behind there seems to be a sense of continuation if you like. But really, it’s just the mind… this is what I think, in my opinion, it’s just opening further and further.
(R): That makes sense to me. Beingness has always been what it is, is always what it is, obviously, and it’s just our capacity to live it, reflect it. Some people say that there’s no limit to the refinement of that. Whether it’s in terms of the mind, or the subtlety of the senses… You mention love, for instance. Perhaps there is no end to the degree, the fullness to which love can be developed, or experienced.
(V): That may be true, but there is no interest, ha-ha.
(R): Yeah, no interest in the sense of: “Oh, man, I gonna get this, I can’t wait until this happens!”, but you may find, as the years progress that there is a greater blossoming or deepening, or unfoldment of that. Just as you’re saying that there is a sense of a greater diminishing of the mind.
(V): But, to who?
(R): Well, I’m not saying it’s happening to anyone in particular, it’s not happening to you, it’s not happening to an ego. This instrument which we call Vishrant,… I don’t mean to be putting words in your mouth, this is more of a form of a question, which I’m masking as a statement, but there could be a further refinement of that instrument. I’m not saying it has any effect on Beingness, I’m just saying that as an instrument who appears to interact with other Beings, students, there is a sort of a further development or refinement.
(V): It could be. But there is no interest. Papaji had a way of putting it which I like. He said: If you’re at the airport, and you’re in the waiting room waiting for the jet, you don’t change the furniture around.
(R): Elaborate a bit. What do you mean by that exactly?
(V): Here we are in this place, why alter anything, everything’s Ok. Why refine anything? Everything’s Ok. It’s just a waiting place. The body will die. It will all go. Nothing needs to change, it’s all perfect, as it is. Nothing to do. It seems like there is something to do before you find Beingness as Self, but after you find Beingness as Self, everything is just happening by itself. There’s nothing to do. There’s no real interest in refinement. At least for my side, I have no interest in refinement. That’s over.
(R): Right. I wasn’t actually implying that you did, I was just saying that maybe it will happen anyway. Because of the natural evolutionary force, which seems to be carrying everything along That in itself could be the engine of further refinement, without any sort of personal motivation or interference?…
(V): What if it goes the other way? What if the mind comes back very solidly, starts thinking it’s a somebody, starts suffering because it goes into resistance in life? That could happen too.
(R): I suppose it could. Do you think it would? Do you think that’s likely?
(V): I don’t know! That’s what I’m saying, I don’t know. When you take your hands off the wheel, and you let the river take you, if the river wants to take the mind back to there, the river is allowed to.
(R): I know people to whom that happened. I have a friend who was actually skiing, in Jackson, homing down a very steep slope and he had this awakening. It was a sudden, profound awakening. For 3 years, he was in that state. He refers to himself as Big Dan and Little Dan. Because there was still a sense of a little Dan, but he identified predominantly with Big Dan, which is Unboundedness or Being. And after 3 years, it went away again. He was pretty unhappy about it.
(V): Ahh. Well, it can happen I guess.
(R): I bring it up because you suggested a possibility. I’m saying that yes…
(V): But it doesn’t matter. Sometimes, we have a lot of ants around, and I watch the ants. They work, they build nest, they get food,… They’re all working in a kind of an order, and they’re all Beingness, you know. I look at them, and I think: What’s the difference between them and me? As far as a body is concerned, as far as the mind is concerned, nothing really. We’re all Beingness. They are Beingness, I’m Beingness, They’re doing what they are programmed to do, my mind is doing what it’s programmed to do, it just think it’s smarter than an ant. But that’s a thought. We’re all just Beingness. We’re all one. Whether this mind and this body goes back to darkness or stays in the Light, that’s up to God. That’s up to Truth. I take my hands off the wheel, and it’s gonna go that way, or it’s not gonna go that way. Because the moment you put your hands back on the wheel, in my experience, you’re lost again.
(R): Yeah. That’s great. That’s very clearly stated. In that line of questioning that I pursued for the last 5 or 10 minutes, I wasn’t trying to imply gripping the wheel. I wasn’t trying to say: Here is what you should do, you should get yourself more refined,… I was just suggesting that your hands are off the wheel, God’s driving now,… But here is a way of putting it: Someone who has woken up to this realization, become a very useful tool.
(R): …They don’t live for themselves anymore, their personal individual self, they become a very useful tool of the Divine. Perhaps, if we can attribute motivation to the Divine, perhaps we could say that the Divine would like that tool to be as sharp as possible, as effective as possible, to serve in whatever way it can, as fully as possible.
(V): You have to attribute something to Beingness that I don’t think exists.
(R): I’m giving it some anthropomorphic qualities…
(V): You are. Whereas I see it like I’m as useful as the ant.
(R): I think of Beingness as an intelligence, though. When I look at the Universe, the ant or the galaxy, the flower, whatever, there is this marvelous intelligence, which seems to be governing and structuring everything. It’s not only billiard balls bouncing into one another.
(V): It could very well be true. I just don’t know. I don’t know why I teach, I don’t know why. It’s happening, but I don’t know why. I don’t have the answer. I can give a logical answer, but it’s not necessarily true. It’s just a belief system. I don’t know. I just don’t know.
(R): That’s good. That’s a saying: “Don’t know mind”. It’s a good thing.
(V): If you accept it it’s a good thing. If you fight it, then it hurts.
(R): Right. It could be rather disconcerting.
(V): Yes, yes.
(R): Good. We’re likely to be here and speculate all night long, Well, I’m speculating, you’re just saying that you don’t know.
(V): Hahaha! I use to think that I knew once. You talked a little while ago about refining. And for me, refining is: I don’t know. I used to know. I don’t know anymore.
(R): I play with these ideas as theories. It’s not like I’m saying: This is what it is, this is gonna happen. I do tend to believe and favor certain things, but I really can’t get very adamant about them. Because who knows? It seems to be this way, or that way, but might be wrong. Maybe it’s not.
(V): So what motivates me to want to get up and give you a big hug now? I don’t know!! But it does. There is this thing inside of me, that just wants to wrap itself around you and love you!
(R): You gonna have to hug the whole world, because we’re on up at each side of it.
(V): We seem so close though. It’s so cool.
(R): I know! It’s great. And the connection is very good, it’s instantaneous, but you’re there in Australia.
(V): Yes, no delay.
(R): Yes, fantastic. It was worth upgrading your equipment.
(V): Ha-ha. Yes, it was a good idea. Buying cheap cameras on eBay is not the way to go. And you were so polite with me that you pointed it out in such a way that you didn’t upset me.
(R): Could I have? I don’t think so.
(R): I don’t think you get upset around a cheap webcam at this point.
(V): I don’t think so. Thank God for that!
(R): This has been great. I appreciate having had this opportunity again, I’ve benefited from two wonderful conversations instead of just one. So maybe it was to our mutual advantage that everything flopped after the first interview.
(V): It’s meant to be. Absolutely. The funny thing is, if memory serves me, this conversation is different from the last one.
(R): It’s entirely different. I think that to a certain extent I was feeling a little distracted by the fact that everything kept crashing, I couldn’t hear what you were saying half of the time last time because there were technical difficulties, This one turned out much better, and you actually came out with all kind of things that we didn’t talk about the first time. I’m really glad we redid it.
(V): Yeah. It’s lovely to chat with you.
(R): If I ever win the lottery and start traveling the world, I’d definitely come to Perth, and let you give me that hug.
(V): That would be nice.
(R): If you ever come to the States, come to our little town, We have all kinds of people come here. Gangaji has been here,…
(V): You’re in South…
(R): Southern Iowa, in the Midwest. About 4 or 5 hours west of Chicago.
(V): Oh, ok. It’s not where I thought it was.
(R): No. Look it up on a map, you’ll see.
(V): It’s like you’re sitting at the table with me, and we’re having a cup of coffee right now!
(R): Yeah, I know! It’s great. But anyway, we’ve got about a thousand people probably listening to this within a few weeks, so we better wrap it up, because they might be a little bit bored by this chat. So let me do that. My name is Rick Archer, and you’ve been listening to Buddha at the gas pump, which is a series of interviews with people who had a spiritual awakening. If you listen to many, you’ll note that I define that term rather broadly, because I think that spiritual awakening and development is a rather large basket, which shows up in many forms. I’ve been speaking with Vishrant, who lives in the area of Perth, Australia. He has a website, which you can find a link to on my website, batgap.com You also find there all the interviews I have done and will do, you can sign up to receive an e-mail every time I post a new one. There are little discussion groups that develop every time I post a new interview. People start commenting on it, and they comment on the comments. Sometimes we go on pages and pages of discussion. So that appears too. You can find it there. In any case, firstly I appreciate your participation Vishrant, I’ve really enjoyed this, as we said. I appreciate the participation of those who’ve been watching or listening. And we will see you next time!