Interviews with Die Andere Realitat Magazine

This interview with Dieter Wiergowski for 

Die Andere Realitat Magazine took place in January 2012. 

To read the interview from July 2010, please scroll down the page.

Introduction by Richard:

I want to introduce this interview by addressing a question you did not ask me during it, because it is the most important question of all. It can be phrased in many different ways, but the simplest way I’ve ever heard it put is in these three words:- “What about love?”

All other questions pale into insignificance in the face of this one, because ultimately love is the nature of everything. We could say “This is all unconditional love.” But immediately we hit a problem with the mind, because the mind cannot understand the unconditional nature of love. This is because the mind, with its likes and dislikes, its loves and hates, its shoulds and oughts and incessant judgements, always lives in conditionality. Unconditional love embraces everything, including everything that the mind most loathes. If unconditional love did not embrace everything, it would not be unconditional – I hope that is obvious. 

Unconditional love is impersonal, but we want to personalise it. When we personalise unconditional love, we make a rod for our own back. If we buy into a story that says “I have to love unconditionally” we are attempting the impossible, and so we create a way of torturing ourselves with our inevitable failure. This may be one reason why those who follow spiritual paths sometimes seem wan and drained – they may simply be exhausted by their constant efforts to try to love everyone, no matter how much they may not like them.

Because unconditional love is impersonal, it has nothing to do with you, or me, or John or Fred or Margaret or Annie. Unconditional love simply is. It has no need of you, but nevertheless it is there in everything, beckoning to you, whispering to you, waiting to be recognised in every rustling leaf, in every sip of coffee, in every wave crashing on the beach. The mind cannot fathom it, but one second of liberation reveals it. 

By the way, psychotherapists touch on the truth of this in a way, when they notice that the more “shoulds”, “oughts” and “musts” an individual carries around with them, the more unhappy that individual tends to be. They recognise that this can be a serious health risk. That’s why they warn against “hardening of the oughteries” and “musterbation”. If you want to be a happier individual, it is a good idea to give up as many of your “oughts”, “shoulds” and “musts” as possible.

Dieter:

Is it correct to say that someone who is enjoying the search for enlightenment would be better not to become involved in non-duality?

Richard:

The belief that there is such a thing as personal enlightenment fuels a great deal of searching and can make life very exciting. It can give purpose and meaning to our lives. Especially if we go to the Himalayas to conduct our search in the ashrams of yogis, swamis and gurus, we can experience exotic clothing, exotic mantras and mudras, exotic rituals and exotic food. We can also collect a fund of  astonishing stories to tell when we eventually return to our homeland.

If we begin to suspect that there is no such thing as personal enlightenment, that our search is  futile, that liberation consists of the simple seeing that there is no one who is searching, this can certainly put a dent in what might otherwise have been a very entertaining day. Worse, it can bring about despair, as all our hopes of showing off our enormous golden aura, or perhaps our astonishingly profound humility, turn to dust. But we might feel that despair is closer to the seeing of non-duality than hope. Hope always directs us to a future that never comes, whereas despair tends to be experienced more immediately. It has more of the quality of ‘now’ about it.

But there is no choice about getting involved with non-duality, or with searching for personal enlightenment. If an enthusiasm for one or the other arises, then that enthusiasm will probably be followed. But that has nothing to do with who you think you are. Enthusiasm will simply arise or not. Like so many other things it is a mystery. If an enthusiasm for non-duality arises, then, as Ramana said, “Your head is in the tiger’s mouth and there is no escape.” Now there is nothing left to do, except to wait to see whether the tiger bites your head off.

Dieter:

Recent research into the brain has shown that before I consciously take a decision, there has already been brain-activity about that decision. This means that every decision has already been taken before I seem to make it with my so-called free will. This indicates that we really don’t have any free will, we just believe that we do. So are our lives predestined?

Richard:

Neuro-science is indeed now indicating that before we become conscious of deciding to perform an action, areas of the brain have already been activated to carry out that action. This indicates that there is no free will, and some psychologists and philosophers currently agree that there is no possibility of there being a central unifying self who makes real choices and decisions. Some psychologists take the view that we are a bundle of different stimuli and perceptions, and the sense that we have a central ego is just one perception in the bundle. This view is remarkably similar to the Buddhist view that we consist of five ‘skandhas’ or ‘aggregates’.

Because the neuro-scientific research mostly concerns motor-functions, I think any half-decent meta-physician or philosopher who wanted to, should be able to drive a coach and horses through the above interpretation when it comes to the important decisions to do with free-will. Some of these are those to do with morality, responsibility and belief. So it is possible to sustain a belief in free will, ego, and the central self, in spite of this research. Nevertheless, one split-second of awakening will probably shake the belief in a central self to its foundations, and liberation will reveal that there is indeed no separate self at our core. 

What I am saying is that although the neuro-scientific research is interesting, it will always be possible to argue it either way. But the direct seeing of non-duality cannot be argued with.

Both the research itself and all arguments against it become irrelevant in the simple seeing of non-separation and the realisation that there is no separate self who could ever make a choice or take a decision.

So are our lives predestined? No. Our lives are not predestined. They are not random.  They are not orderly. They are not chaotic. They are not fated. They are not accidental. These are all stories that we tell to try to make sense of the deep mystery of being. We can only begin to grasp this when a moment of awakening reveals that this is all there is, that there is nothing actually happening, that there is no time for anything to happen in. Do not expect the mind to understand this – it cannot, because the mind lives in time. But it might get an inkling of this by analogy if it thinks about a night-time dream, in which many things appear to happen, and yet actually nothing happens.

Dieter:

Does it make any sense to look for meaning in life? 

Richard:

As long as there is a feeling of separation, it makes sense to look for meaning in life. In fact, many people are impelled to look for meaning, because living in separation is so unsatisfactory and we naturally want to bring that dissatisfaction to an end. 

But in liberation, there is no need to look for meaning anymore. It is seen that there is no meaning, which is the same as saying that there does not need to be a meaning, which is the same as saying that life is its own meaning. The meaning of a rose is a rose. The meaning of Dieter is Dieter. The meaning of Richard is Richard. A rose does not need any meaning other than itself to be a perfectly fine rose. You do not need any meaning other than yourself to be a perfectly fine Dieter. Seeing this can produce profound relaxation. That is why, when liberation is seen, instead of perhaps making pilgrimages to see the liquefaction of a saint’s blood, a simple walk round the park and a cup of coffee may be sufficient entertainment.

Dieter:

There are a lot of teachers who teach non-duality, but many do not offer it in an undiluted form. They mix it up with other things, stating that there are goals which you should reach and that you need to get rid of negative parts of your character, and so on. What is your view of this?

Richard:

There is no such thing as a teacher of non-duality. No one can teach the mystery of being. Therefore, if someone presents themselves as a teacher, it is not non-duality that they are offering.

There are many interesting and useful things that can be taught. During the last forty years, for example, I have taught meditation, self-awareness, personal development, humanistic psychology, counselling and many other things. None of this has anything to do with non-duality. All that can be offered about non-duality is an opportunity to share some thoughts and ideas and feelings, and an inadequate attempt to describe liberation where it has been seen. Nevertheless, for some of us there is a powerful magnetic pull to spend time occasionally with people who want to share in this way. Why this should be is a mystery.

As for meetings on ‘non-duality and therapy’, or ‘non-duality and improving relationships’, or ‘non-duality and self-development’, or ‘non-duality and tantra’, I wouldn’t pay any more attention to them than to meetings on ‘non-duality and cookery’, or ‘non-duality and upholstery’. You cannot use non-duality in any way. It has no point or purpose and you cannot bargain with it or profit from it. It is what it is, and it simply reveals itself or it does not.

Dieter:

You say that there can still be anger, sadness or any other emotion after liberation. So why is liberation preferable?

Richard:

Anything that happens before liberation can happen after it. But there is a strong tendency for neurotic versions of emotion, such as irritation, regret, guilt and anxiety, to decrease or fall away entirely. Natural emotions, such as anger and sadness, may actually become stronger, because the neurotic personality is no longer in the way of them being fully experienced. 

Natural emotions tend to be over quite quickly, whereas neurotic emotions can hang around for a much longer time. There are people who have been irritable for twenty years or more. I think it is preferable to experience natural emotions for a brief period, rather than have neurotic emotions lingering around, but others might not agree.

But boredom and depression tend to disappear entirely when liberation is seen. Boredom disappears because ordinary life becomes so fascinating, and depression disappears because  there is no longer sufficient neurosis to sustain it.

Dieter:

Do you think that people can maintain the illusion of duality and live on after physical death? There has been research into ‘Instrumental Transcommunication’ involving machines through which you can talk to people in the spirit world. This has  shown that people continue to ‘live’ for twenty minutes after their so-called death. 

Richard:

Death is the end of space and time. Death is the end of the dream of separation. Everything else is a story.

It is natural for a person, living in a state of separation, to be concerned about death. Our individuality seems precious to us. So does the individuality of those we love. We hope that we and they can survive death and we tell many colourful stories about how this may be so.

But in liberation it is seen that there is no separate individual before death, so the individual’s continuation after death is hardly a problem – it becomes irrelevant. In practice what this means is that generally, when liberation is seen, concerns about death cease to bother us, and stories about an after-life cease to interest us. This leaves more attention free to enjoy whatever is happening right now.

I like the words of Ramesh Balsekar on death. “What does death ultimately mean? It means the end of the struggle of daily living. It means the end of duality.”

Dieter:

Do you think that a human being is unable to live in a completely self-responsible way?

Richard:

Concepts of self-responsibility become irrelevant when it is seen that there is no separate person to exercise responsibility. Nevertheless life goes on, much as it did before. 

Some people worry that without a concept of self-responsibility, mass-murder and mayhem will break out on the streets. All I can report is that, so far, I have committed no mass-murder and only a disappointingly tiny amount of mayhem. Others that I know who have seen liberation have also not become murderers – of any kind. They behave much as before except usually they manifest a reduced degree of neurosis.

Dieter:

If we cannot live in a self-responsible way, then we cannot solve our own problems. So trying to solve our problems is senseless. Is that correct?

Richard:

In the dream of separation, it makes perfect sense for us to try to solve our problems. But the one problem which we cannot solve, is the problem of separation, the problem that we seem to exist as a separate entity. Nevertheless, this sense of separation can simply drop away.

In this waking dream called life, cause and effect and consequence apply. If we have a hole in our roof and we do not bother to fix it, our ceiling will fall in. So unless we enjoy sleeping with a view of the stars and with rain falling on our face, we might as well call in a builder. Sometimes this is referred to as only making our prison more comfortable. But as long as we feel ourself to be in a prison we might as well make it as comfortable as we can. Eventually it might be seen that we never were in a prison – that the prison we perceived only ever consisted of our sense of separation.

There are no recommendations in this communication about non-duality. I don’t recommend that you ignore your problems and I don’t recommend that you do something about them. It is simply noticed that if you ignore them, life will probably become more and more uncomfortable and you might end up with ceiling-plaster all over your bed.

Dieter:

Is the progress we feel we have made by doing workshops, for example, real progress? Or is it just an illusion?

Richard:

For the one who feels separate, real progress may be made in terms of, for example, decreased neurosis, increased self-awareness, greater ability to deal with stress – or depending on the workshop, perhaps enhanced enjoyment of tantric sex with our partner. All of these can make life more enjoyable. None of them have any bearing on whether non-duality is seen or not.

Non-duality does not care how neurotic we are, or how self-aware, or whether we deal well with stress, or even how practised at tantric sex we are. Non-duality does not negotiate and liberation is non-negotiable.

Certain aspects of life are extremely democratic. For example, neither hang-overs nor influenza care whether you are rich or poor, whether you went to a good university or not, or whether you are a prince or a peasant. Liberation is democratic in a similar way. 

Dieter:

Can self-development help us in our ‘prison’? Or is it better to study non-duality? Can studying non-duality help us, or is that also no help at all?

Richard:

Some kinds of self-development can certainly help to make our prison more comfortable. However other kinds can actually make it more uncomfortable – I’m thinking particularly of ones which encourage detachment or encourage us to become over-analytical. Socrates said “The unexamined life is not worth living”, but the over-examined life may not be worth living either. And developing detachment, although it can protect us in a way from life’s pain and is very popular amongst the more ascetically inclined of us, also deprives us of the juice that makes life enjoyable.

If you are carrying on a practice or technique that you find to be enjoyable, or useful, or both, you might as well continue with it. If your practice is neither enjoyable nor useful, perhaps it would be a good idea to consider giving it up. I’m sorry if this is stating the obvious, but much about living life well is obvious, until the mind comes in and complicates it. That is when we may find ourselves doing a practice that we dislike for twenty years because our beloved guru has told us to.

As to studying non-duality, there is no point in doing that unless you enjoy it. It will have no relevance to whether liberation is seen or not. The mind cannot bear this, because the mind thinks that liberation should be a reward for effort made. The mind wants to cry “Unfair” and “Foul Play” because liberation descends, as it were, out of a clear sky, with no apparent rhyme or reason. That’s a metaphor by the way. Don’t make too much of it.

Dieter:

You say that there is nothing we can do to bring about liberation. But you meditated for thirty years. Do you think that meditation could have had something to do with the seeing of liberation in your case?

Richard:

There are no rules about liberation. You can’t bargain with Oneness, or sell it in a box, not even one tied up with pretty ribbons and labelled Meditation or Mindfulness or Self-enquiry.

Some individuals meditate for thirty years and Oneness is seen. Some meditate for thirty years and Oneness is not seen. The same could be said for drinking vodka, or self-enquiry, or playing golf, or mindfulness. The individual will believe whatever he wants about this, but nevertheless what happens is what happens. 

Dieter:

The following questions may be of interest to people who wish to organize a meeting for you. As there is no one giving a talk, then there is no one charging any money. Is that correct? 

And why do you talk about non-duality at all? If liberation is coming anyway, why should people be involved in investigating non-duality?

Richard:

No one is giving a talk. No one is attending a talk. No one is asking questions. No one is answering questions. And yet somehow a fee is being paid. It’s a mystery, just like everything else. 

Let’s not delude ourselves that it matters in any way whether meetings on non-duality are organised or not. It has no importance. Nevertheless, they can sometimes be fun.

There is no reason why people should be involved in investigating non-duality. But some people are irresistibly magnetised to this, and then, as I said before, there is no escape.

Dieter:

According to you, self-consciousness is responsible for our separation from the whole. So does it not make sense to become more conscious of ourselves by trying to integrate our shadow?

Richard:

I have not said that self-consciousness is responsible for separation. It is simply that as self-consciousness arises in the young individual, so a sense of separation also usually arises, bringing with it much drama and many joys and sorrows.

It is very sensible for us to attempt to integrate our shadow, and if we succeed this usually makes life more comfortable. In integrating our shadow, we take back the projections that we place on others, and so we see both ourselves and them more clearly. This avoids a great deal of confusion and unnecessary drama.

Integrating our shadow can be said to be both easy and difficult. It is easy because it is simply a matter of first recognising our shadow and secondly owning it. But it is difficult because both these processes are extremely demanding. We can make a start by, for example, seeking honest feed-back from those who know us about how they see us – and not taking offence and becoming defensive when they tell us. Therapy groups committed to honesty can be very helpful in this. Then as we recognise for ourselves the knots within ourselves and the barnacles on our hull, we become less likely to project them onto others. We begin to disentangle “What’s mine” from “What’s thine”. 

Doing this not only frees us from some of our compulsive neuroses, it also helps to free others around us from some of theirs. As Sylvia Brinton Periera puts it “She who bears her own shadow, liberates the collective.” In withdrawing my projections from you, I make it easier for you to withdraw your projections from me. This is why it is commonly experienced that when an individual works through some of their personal issues, perhaps by undergoing therapy, other individuals often change in relation to them as well.

But remember that none of this has any bearing on whether liberation is seen. Non-duality does not care whether we have owned our projections or integrated our shadow. Liberation is not a reward for therapy work well done.

Dieter:

What does liberation mean?

Richard:

Liberation means seeing through separation, which brings about the falling away of all the stories of meaning and purpose. It means seeing that This is it, and This is enough. Although there are no necessary implications in the seeing of liberation, there are tendencies. One of these tendencies is that a great deal of neurotic energy is likely to dissipate, and that which is left is likely to gradually unwind.

Dieter:

What do you think of hope?

Richard:

Hope is a hard task-master, because it keeps us continually focussed on the future and on tasks to be achieved. Although when hope disappears it can leave us in despair, strangely that can be experienced as a relief. In despair, there is nothing to be done so some relaxation may take place. Several people have written to me expressing that it was a profound relief to them when hope was replaced by despair.

Dieter:

Sometimes you advise people to relax and have a cup of tea. But surely there is nobody who can relax?

Richard:

No, I have never given that advice, precisely because of what you say – such advice would be useless because there is no one who can relax. Relaxation either takes place or it does not. But if it does take place, that can be a great blessing. And then gratitude may be felt.

Dieter:

Isn’t talking about non-duality a contradiction, because talking belongs to duality?

Richard:

Of course you are right. Language can never convey liberation. Nevertheless talking about non-duality can be fun, and language can point towards liberation if used carefully.

Dieter:

You say that what happens, simply happens. But surely our thoughts create the circumstances of our life. Are our thoughts not responsible for what we experience?

Richard:

This is a very popular belief, particularly at the moment in Germany and America, but also to some extent in Britain. The author of ‘The Secret’ has become extremely wealthy through popularising it, although it has been extant as a belief for a long time. But notice that it is a story, or a belief system. If we’re rigourously honest, we can see that like any belief system, its assertions can never be known. This, that which is arising right now, is known. Everything else is speculation, whether it is the belief that I can influence physical materiality by my thoughts ( for example, by creating a parking space for myself through visualisation), or that my sins will be redeemed through the love of Jesus (or Mithras or Artemis or Dionysus or Shiva or Kali), or even that the world is controlled by giant shape-shifting lizards. 

One of the most obvious facts about us is that we have endlessly creative imaginations and make up innumerable colourful stories about how reality works. We tend to do this because, living in a state of separation, ordinary life seems boring. So we have a powerful impulse to make it more interesting, first by inventing these stories and then often by making mischief around them. 

But when the veil of separation has fallen away, ordinary life is quite fascinating enough and we do not need these stories anymore.

Before awakening, we may have many beliefs and many stories, which we may cling to fiercely. In awakening all this assuredness is blown away and what is left, instead of knowing, is a great unknowing. Liberation is a recognition that what we thought we knew is empty. It is a dive off the edge of a precipice into a chasm of not-knowing.

Dieter:

You have said that when liberation was seen, there were no thoughts anymore. Normally thoughts cannot be controlled by us – rather, they control us.  Masters say that when liberation is seen, we  control our thoughts and not the other way round. 

Richard:

I have not said that there were no thoughts anymore when liberation was seen. But in liberation, it is seen that there is no mind which thinks those thoughts. In other words mind is not an entity, it is simply the process of thinking. Were do thoughts come from? They arise from Oneness, just like everything else.

When this is seen, we can throw all the nonsense we might have learnt about controlling our thoughts into the waste bin. It is very stressful for us to try to control our thoughts. It is far more relaxing to see that they are not our thoughts, they are Oneness thinking. Of course if our thoughts are troublesome, if they are stressful, neurotic or intrusive, then it is a good idea to do something about that. Perhaps some psychotherapy or meditation might be helpful in that case.

Dieter:

When we met in Germany, there was no difference between you and others. You and I drank wine together, we talked and laughed together, we shared an ironic sense of humour. So what is the difference between you and a ‘normal’ human being? After all, you have said that nobody can become enlightened. You have also said that liberation is nothing special. 

Richard:

There is no difference. You and I are both ‘normal’ human beings, whatever that means. Liberation is simply the return to the natural state of being. In liberation, the character goes on. The personality and preferences may continue unchanged, except it is likely that there may be less neurosis and more enjoyment of a simple life. 

Liberation is the seeing that where the person was thought to be, there is instead emptiness. There is nobody who can become enlightened because the existence of the person is a dream. It is the dream of separation.

We could say that liberation is both a tiny shift and a cosmic shift. It is tiny because it is the simple seeing that there is no person, and then life just goes on. But it is cosmic because the life that goes on is seen to be going on for no one. Nothing is changed, yet everything is transformed, when there is no longer any separation between apparent subject and apparent object. Then an ordinary life continues to be lived, but by no one.

**********

Die Andere Realitat Magazine, July 2010

Dieter: You write that after liberation, you continue to feel anger, joy, sadness, fear and so on. Who feels these things? Can ‘nobody’ feel?

Richard: Liberation is all embracing and excludes nothing. Anything which arose before liberation can continue to arise afterwards. Having said that, there are tendencies for certain things to change – for example neurotic thoughts and feelings may lessen or die away.

Feelings such as anger, joy and sadness are natural and they come and go. There is no need to try to suppress them. In fact the attempt to suppress them is quite damaging to the psycho-physical organism.

I did not write that I continue to feel feelings. I wrote that feelings continue to arise, which is completely different. Feelings always simply arise, for nobody. Nobody has ever felt a feeling, because there is nobody. You, Dieter, have never felt a feeling, but there may be the sensation there that feelings are happening for you. When that sensation ceases, it will be seen that you have never owned your feelings, just as you have never owned anything.

Dieter: Does the character with its preferences remain after the loss of the person, too?

Richard: As long as there is a body-mind functioning, there will be a character and there will be preferences. It is possible, but not inevitable, that after liberation the character’s preferences may change. Here there is a greater preference now for living quite a simple life, for walking round the park, and for drinking cups of tea.

Dieter: Perhaps using the word ‘nobody’ is misleading, especially in the way we normally use that word. I know that words cannot describe this, but surely ‘nobody’ cannot describe something. If there is nothing, there can be no description. So could you just be imagining that you are no person? Could there still be something like an ‘I’, in the same way as when ‘I’ watch myself from a distance as a witnesser or an observer? 

Richard: When the person drops away in liberation, the emptiness of all phenomena is seen and it is seen that the nature of this emptiness is unconditional love. Then there is no possibility of confusing this seeing with detachment or with the observer or witness state. The witness state has no value, although it may make the person feel more comfortable. Techniques for developing detachment may also reduce a person’s suffering, but at the cost of their vitality. Drinking vodka also temporarily reduces suffering but at the cost of the person’s liver.

Dieter: Do you think that nonduality is the absolute truth or just your ‘personal’ interpretation? Do you think it’s possible that on one level you are not a person, but on  another level you are still a person? How can a ‘nonduality being’ speak and write? Speaking and writing belong to duality.

Richard: I have no interest in the truth. Absolute or relative, the truth is always a mental construct. I am offering a description of liberation and not an interpretation.

There is no possibility that on any level I am still a person, because I never was a person. You never were a person. No one has ever been a person. 

How nonduality speaks and writes, or makes a cup of tea, or does anything, is a mystery. Listening to the mind’s attempts to explain this mystery can be very entertaining.

Dieter: My feeling is that anger comes when I make judgements. If there is nobody making judgements anymore, I cannot believe that anger and other emotions can still happen from ’emptiness’. What do you think? 

Richard: Anger is a natural emotion. It arises and falls away, like all natural emotions, usually quite quickly. But when good people suppress their anger because they think that anger is ignoble, they tend to become rather irritable, and this can go on for a very long time.

Dieter: You write that the time between awakening and liberation can be a desert. So awakening is not freedom?

Richard: No. Awakening is a glimpse of freedom. In awakening the emptiness of oneness is seen but not its fullness. But in liberation, oneness is seen to be full of love.

Dieter: You write that nobody knows when the person may drop away. Is it a ‘natural law’ that determines when someone loses the person? What happens if you don’t want to lose your person? What happens if you still want to keep a bit of your person?

Richard: Nothing determines when the person may fall away. It is a mystery as to why someone should feel the tiger’s breath on their neck, or why their head should be caught in the tiger’s mouth, or why the tiger may bite their head off – or not.

Whether you want to keep a bit of your person or not is irrelevant, because liberation has nothing to do with you or with what you want or don’t want.

Dieter: For me it seems that what you describe is still  story. Perhaps there will be another stage of awakening. Do you think that this is possible?

Richard: Anything that can be described in words is a story. When the person drops away, all stories, including this one, are seen through.

There are no stages to awakening. The person either drops away or it does not.

Dieter: Your definition of freedom is not the same as my definition. For me, complete freedom does not mean that there can still be emotions, because emotions are bound up with the personality. What is your opinion?

Richard: Then there may be a bit of a shock for Dieter if liberation is seen. Then it will be seen that emotions, personality and everything else simply arise from nothing.

Nevertheless, many emotions are bound up with the sense of being a separated person, and so it is quite likely that if the person drops away, the emotions that arise after that may change.

Dieter: If your wife asks you: “Can ‘nobody’ wash the dishes?”, what would you answer and what would you do?

Richard: The question is a bit hypothetical as I no longer have a wife. But I find that standing with my arms up to the elbows in warm soapy water is quite pleasant, so I would probably do as I was told.

Dieter: I sometimes feel empty, and during that time I have the feeling that I have never learned anything. Sometimes I feel discontent and that something is missing. I know that it is unity,  oneness, which is missing. What would you suggest I do?

Richard: I don’t give advice, but if I did it might be to do some simple activity that you find pleasurable. I enjoy walking round the park and drinking coffee by the lake.

Dieter: You suggest that spiritual techniques cannot bring about liberation. So is it useless to do seminars and to learn techniques. I feel that after having learned many techniques, I am still not content, because there is still something missing. So is your advice to stop learning techniques because they do not lead to freedom anyway?

Richard: Nothing is either useless or useful. Everything is simply what it is. Techniques will not lead to freedom but they might make the prison which we feel ourself to be in more comfortable.

No one has ever practised a technique, but if practising techniques is happening, that’s o.k. Not practising techniques is also o.k.

Dieter: If you have headache, how does it help to be conscious that you are not a person? And if there is a reason for the headache, for example a problem within the family, would you advise addressing the problem? Taking tablets cannot always be a solution. Maybe it is better to discover the reason for the problem.

Richard: A headache is a headache. Liberation makes no difference.

I’m not very enthusiastic about taking tablets. I agree with you – if there is an underlying cause it’s better to find out what it is and deal with it. But beware. This can lead you on a merry dance involving many complex stories. By the time you’ve finished going to the aura healers, the polarity therapists, the iridologists and the analysts, you may have no money left and still have your headache.

Dieter: You write that you can remember the past but with some distance. How can nobody remember something when there is nobody? How can there be thoughts of the past?

Richard: Memories, just like other thoughts, arise from nothing and fall away again. But we think they are happening for a person who has a mind and who takes ownership of these memories. 

Memories are simply oneness remembering.

When liberation is seen, the past tends to lose its fascination and its energy. Consequently, less time is spent there.

Dieter: You say you are not a person, but nevertheless there is a body. When this body dies, could it be that there is ‘nobody’ in a spiritual body after death? Can a ‘no person’ have a spiritual body in life-after-death?

Richard: To a person, death seems, to say the least, to be a bit of a problem. It threatens the end of our precious separate identity. So we tend to make up many different stories about how this separate identity can continue after death, perhaps in an eternal paradise, or perhaps in a series of rebirths.

But when the sense of separation falls away, death is no longer a problem. There is no one after death, but that doesn’t matter because there is no one before death either. The simplest thing I can say about death is “Don’t worry. It will be alright.”

Dieter: I still have a ‘me’ and I think that life has no meaning, and regarding that I feel relaxation. Nevertheless I have a body which wants to survive, and I feel no relaxation about that. In fact  I feel a special pressure about it. What is your comment?

Richard: It’s natural for the body-mind to want to survive and preserve itself. It’s also evolutionarily necessary – without this need we would have died out long ago. There’s no reason to make this a problem.

Dieter: I think that a ‘me’ cannot be completely killed off. In oneness there is complete freedom, so anything is possible. ‘Me’ could appear again after it seemed that it has been lost. What do you think?

Richard: You are right. In liberation anything can happen. Therefore, at least theoretically, the sense of being a person could arise again. But once the fullness of oneness has been seen, this is rather unlikely. However, if it does happen, it doesn’t matter. Being asleep and being awake are in any case the same thing. Seeing liberation brings no prizes or rewards. 

Whether the seeing of liberation is permanent or not seems important only to a person who is seeking an end to their sense of separation. But actually nothing is permanent, everything is in a constant state of flux.

Dieter: You went to talks about nonduality and met Tony Parsons. If you hadn’t met him you probably would have described everything in a different way, wouldn’t you? 

Richard: When people ask whether I have heard this or that speaker on nonduality, I usually reply “There are only two people I can listen to speak about nonduality. One of them is myself, and the other is Tony Parsons.” This is only half a joke.

I like Tony’s mode of expression and his energy very much. But you will find nonduality described, often very quietly, in many different places and at many different times. The words I use may sometimes also have echoes of phrases from the Upanishads, or from Buddhist sutras, or from Christian mystics, or from writers on Zen. There are, after all, only a limited number of ways that anyone can write about nothing.