Interview with

This interview with Richard by Tom Carter of took place in 2009

Tom: Can you explain what non-duality is?

Richard: Non-duality is a description of the seeing that there is only Oneness, or rather an attempt to describe this, as an actual description is impossible. The seeing of Oneness can only occur when the sense of being a person, an individual living a life full of choices in a separated world, falls away. When this happens, the self is seen to be empty, the individual is seen to be an emanation of consciousness, and ‘you’ and ‘I’ are seen to be the light in which everything arises. The relationship between the apparent individual and Oneness, or Being itself, is the same as the relationship between a wave and the ocean. The wave is the ocean waving; you and I are Oneness ‘personing’.

This has been described in many spiritual traditions, from Advaita to Zen, yet it belongs to none.

The seeing of Oneness either happens or it doesn’t. Nothing that the false self can do, no practice or reading of spiritual texts, will enable it to see that it is false. I do not give recommendations, but if I did, in the face of this immense hopelessness, I would recommend that we relax. This is it. This is the entirety. This is already the promised paradise. Samsara and Nirvana are one so we may as well relax and enjoy it.

Tom: How did you arrive at this view point or awakening?

Richard This is not a point of view. A point of view is an idea which emanates from the mind. The mind can never see or realise non-duality although it may comprehend or miscomprehend many concepts about it.

Awakening and liberation are either seen or they are not seen. Here they are seen, but that’s not important. In any case, being awake and being asleep are the same thing, but that cannot be known while we are asleep. The awful paradox is that there is no such thing as liberation but that cannot be known until there is liberation. The mind has a tendency to collapse around such a paradox.

Tom: Has it been a positive force in your life?

Richard: No, because I do not have a life. Actually, no one has a life, but until liberation is seen it will be felt that there is a person who owns their life and has responsibility for it.

Nevertheless, although liberation has no necessary implications, there is a tendency for certain changes to take place when Oneness is seen. For example, a certain level of neurotic feelings may drop away and there may be more relaxation and presence. Time is seen through, so there will probably be less guilt and regret about the past and less anxiety about the future. The disappearance of meaning, purpose and hope can also be a great blessing and so can the end of searching. So this character has a preference for being awake.

Tom: Can people learn to wake up to the idea of Non Duality, or is there just awakening and it either is or it isn’t seen.

Richard: People can learn about Non-Duality, but we cannot wake up by learning. Learning is a function of the mind and the mind cannot help us to awaken although it may fervently believe that it can. That is the nature of the mind.

Tom: In ‘The Book of No One’, are you giving a description when you say “There is no one”? Do you mean we are just experiencing things happening but we have no control over them, as if we are observing the mind of God through each other?

Richard: “There is no one” is not a philosophical statement, it is a literal description of what is seen in liberation.

We do not experience things happening, because there is no ‘we’. Things happen, and these may include the sensation that they are happening for ‘me’, a person. This sensation ceases when liberation is seen.

This communication is often misunderstood as stating that we have no control. That is not what I am saying at all. I am saying that there is no control because there is no person, which is altogether different.

If you want to describe Oneness as God observing itself, I think that is a lovely metaphor, but I tend to avoid such language myself because the word ‘God’ can set too many hares racing across the Western mind. This is because in the West, we tend to think in terms of a personal creator God. In the East, the language used about God is much closer to the language used about non-duality 

Tom: What are your insights into death? What happens to us? Do we continue in any form?

Richard: Death is the end of the dream of separation. In liberation and in death (which are the same thing) it is seen that there is no person, there is only Oneness.

Nothing happens to us in death but that’s all right because nothing is happening to us now. There is no ‘us’.

We are not continuing right now, so we do not continue after death. There is only Being.

Tom: If non-duality is seen, do your choices still matter, the choice to be good or the choice to be bad, depending on what you determine to be good and bad?

Richard: There is no one who makes choices. There never was anyone who made choices. A person may feel that all kinds of choices matter and may consider them to be good or bad in all sorts of ways but this is seen through in liberation when the person falls away 

Tom: If you were a murderer and you awoke to non-duality would you remain a murderer? If you were a kind and loving person before you awoke, would you still be kind and loving afterwards?

Richard: There are no rules. Non-duality excludes nothing. As soon as we exclude something, we are back in duality – we have non-duality over here and something we have excluded from it over there.

Nevertheless, if the impulse to commit murder came from a neurotic or psychopathic tendency, it is quite likely that this would drop away in the seeing of Oneness. And if the impulse to be kind and loving came from a compulsive and neurotic need to be needed or liked, what is often called ‘co-dependency’, that also might drop away in liberation.