- PM.Would you talk a little about the experience you had as a child aged nine when you were consumed with the fear of death.
It was my ninth birthday and that evening when I went to bed, I realised that I was getting old and it hit me in a profound way.
A story ran in my mind about my life to come and, of course, the final part was death. I was seized with a huge fear and wanted to go downstairs to my mother but knew that she would not understand and would just send me back to bed. I also felt that she did not have the capability to help me with it so there was no choice but to stay with the feeling of one day coming to an end. I woke in the morning and it was forgotten about. That evening, as soon as I laid down to sleep the story came again, more rapidly arriving at the end, death, and again the feeling.
This continued to occur for about ten months. Each morning it was forgotten about and each evening as my head hit the pillow and I began to feel sleepy, the intense feeling of becoming nothing would arrive. It just simply stopped one day.
Many years later when the fear of death arose a short while before realisation I knew it was OK and that I could be present to it; it was already familiar ground.
I guess it was a preparation for what was to come.
- PM.You lived in a Christian community for a while during your twenties. What was it about Christ’s teachings that you were drawn to?
I knew nothing really about Christ’s teaching except the usual stuff thrown at children in school. I was no lover of religion.
I was about to commit suicide one evening when all of a sudden, I was watching my body as if from a globality of seeing; it lasted for about ten minutes and as it went away, I knew that everything was going to be OK.
The next day, my landlord, who was a good friend of mine, kicked me out of the house I rented from him, asking me not to ask him why he was doing it but that he had a dream that night that it must be done.
I just picked up the few belongings that I had and let Life take me wherever it wanted. Within about four days, I found myself in a Christian community in a place named Blockley, knowing that I had been brought there.
I began to feel good about my life again for the first time in years, and in about a month I was feeling a very strong devotion for Jesus. Two months later, after a strange three-day period where I was unable to eat anything and was running a high temperature, I felt a great awakening happened. I knew something very important in my life was about to happen but had no idea what it could be.
Then one night I awoke and went through the fear of death, realising that what I am is that which cannot die. It was a big suprise when in the morning the body was still alive and the world was still present. It was also clear that the ‘I’ that Jesus spoke of as being One was true of all beings; it was the same ‘I’. There was no one in the bodies, the ‘I’ referred to was nothing, an aware nothingness.
For some reason I assumed that most of the lovely people there had realised this as they kept telling me that they had found Christ; so when I went down for assembly in the chapel that morning and shared what I had realised during the night, I was met with a very hostile silence. That was the end of my Christian period, three months. I was asked to leave.
- PM.In 1972, you again had the same fear of death experience. Could you speak about that and how your life irrevocably changed?
Yes, this was that night in the community. I awoke at around three in the morning and somehow knew that what I had sensed arriving for about three days was about to take place. I began to see that everything in the room was an energy and this energy was trying to reveal itself as light, but as it did so the items began to dissolve into light and fear arose.
The arising of the fear prevented the full unfolding and the items would return again; each time they did it was clear that they were nothing other than light and that if this light outshone their appearance as separate objects, only this light would remain. This play continued between the dissolving of conditional existence into light and the fear that arose when this was happening.
Each time this occurred, there was a clearer seeing that the objects had no real existence and yet neither did the fear; they were both the same thing manifesting. Eventually there was a letting go and an asking for whatever was happening to be allowed to take place without my interference. The room and my sense of being something separate from it dissolved into light and the profound realisation that this light too would dissolve into nothing. It was clear that this nothing was ‘I’ and that this is the source of everything. The light dissolved; what remained cannot be described.
The next morning what remained exploded into an alarm clock ringing and a body getting dressed and the sudden realisation that there was no one present anywhere, it was all just energy in play.
- PM.You then read the teachings of Ramana Maharshi. How did you respond to them?
It was some three years later that I came across the book of the teachings of Ramana and in the first few pages, he described being overtaken by the fear of death to finally resting in stillness. It was a description of what had happened on awakening. Now I had a word for it: enlightenment.
There were a number of things in the book that I could relate to and so this was a confirmation, but there was also a lot there that I could not agreed with. I could not agree with doing anything to get this, since in my own case, I had not done anything, it had all simply happened. Later, this became clear and it is still an area in Ramana’s teaching that cannot be agreed with.
Nevertheless, this was the first time I had come across a written work that I could really relate to.
- PM.You say that since then:
“In the following years, as the residues of the ego concept completely disappeared, three communities were created in which there was a conscious living from Oneness.”
Would you say that the ego concept has totally gone for you? And what does it mean to live from Oneness?
Well, there is no longer a ‘me’ who the ego concept has gone for! There is no longer the concept that there is someone doing what takes place. There is the seeing that everything that takes place through the forms is simply impersonal action coming into play.
If we look at things as separate objects or events happening, they are all dependent upon how they act by each and every other object or event happening, in the particular way that they are doing so in that very moment. If we look at things as Oneness, all the actions are happening as a movement of the One source. It amounts to the same thing.
Living in Oneness is the seeing that in each moment, anything that is happening is the only thing that can be happening and no one is doing it. From the dualistic point of view, which would be itself an action of Oneness happening, there is an instigator of what takes place, right and wrong exist, etc.
All of that is Oneness happening which cannot be other than what it is in that instance.
We are therefore all living in Oneness, even if the seeing of it is not present; the not seeing of this fact is also an action of Oneness.
- PM.To turn to the teaching, what actually is the message of Advaita in a nutshell?
There is no doer, only doing.
- PM.What is the difference between understanding the message of Advaita and seeing the message of Advaita?
Understanding may or may not be present but the seeing is present even when the activity that we call understanding is not.
There is the seeing that the action of understanding is happening or there is the seeing that the action is not present. When the understanding is happening it is ABOUT the seeing; when the arising of that action ends, there is just the seeing. The action (understanding) can appear and disappear in the seeing; the seeing is not therefore dependent on the action of understanding. The action comes and goes; that seeing is permanent.
Nothingness cannot be understood but it can be seen that what is doing the seeing IS Nothingness. Nothingness is also what is giving rise to the action of trying to understand.
Initially for most, there is naturally the arising of the desire to understand but after all the questions meet the answers that are coming directly from the seeing, they dwindle away and give way to the seeing. Then it is clear that the questions were coming from the same place (not locatable in time and space) as the answers. Just the Nothingness chatting with itself.
- PM.In Traditional Advaita Vedanta teachings, the premise is that from an understanding of Advaita, a seeing may arise as a subsequent consequence. In other words, the two are linked; seeing is brought about by the understanding. But you are saying they are not linked in any way?
Nothing that precedes this seeing in time creates the seeing as a result.
The cockerel noticed that when it crowed in the morning, the sun began to arise; it then assumed that the sun did this as a result of its crowing.
We could say that EVERYTHING that has happened since the moment of birth has resulted in the moment of awakening or we can say that not one single thing leads to that moment; they would both in a sense be correct.
The fact is that the timeless is not dependent upon time or any of the actions that take place in time to see itself clearly as the eternal.
When we are trying to understand something, anything, an activity that takes time is involved but when we arrive at the moment of having understood, understanding itself, there is nothing, just an empty Awareness. An Ah! Nothing.
The Ah! that is realisation is a non-action; non-action is not dependent upon action for its existence. It is also not the result of action having taken place.
The idea that something must be done before non-doing is the case is ludicrous. It is like saying, ‘I will start being here now tomorrow.’
It’s an excuse of the mind to delay seeing what is ever present; that play of the mind too is an action of Oneness. It can be frustrating until seen clearly; then it’s a joke.
- PM.There are traditional swamis who claim that the seeing has arisen by virtue of the understanding. What would you say to that?
Jesus is supposed to have said, ‘By grace are ye saved and even that not of thine own doing.’ That sounds like the words of a swami to me.
The moment of seeing is a given; it’s a gift from yourself to yourself.
If it is characteristic for one to go the way of understanding then that is the way it is; if it is charateristic for one to not move in that way, then that is how it is. In either case, there may or may not be awakening.
I meet a lot of people who have a lot of understanding and yet realisation has not taken place. I have also met people who never went in the direction of trying to understand and they suddenly see. I have seen people simply accompany someone to a talk with no interest in the talk and in minutes, suddenly step into the seeing of this. It happened one time to a long-term seeker whose wife had no interest in his silly hobby of questioning life. She had a baby of a month or so old and did not want to be left at home alone that evening.
She was breastfeeding the baby and apparently not listening to me waffling on when suddenly, she stated that she and her baby and her hubby and everyone in the room were all herself and she was the one talking through this form. She spoke about this with great awe for about twenty minutes.
The look on her hubby’s face said it all; years of hard work, meditation, studying deep scriptures on his part and she got it like that!
If one enjoys understanding, that happens here, then that is the way it is but it is not a necessity that such action takes place prior to realisation.
- PM.In recent email correspondence, when talking about the suffering in the world and the sad state of humanity, you said:
“Let us be clear about something in regards to such actions appearing, they will not come to an end whilst the concept of being a separate being remains. The answer therefore is NOT to try to change the outer appearance but one’s view of one’s Self. To the degree that this can take place so too will the outer action of consciousness appear less separative and more compassionate.”
Here the suggestion is to try to change one’s view of oneself. How is that to be done?
Words tend to get stated in a way that they sound like commands; that was not the intention when this was written.
BUT! Take a simple honest look at what is looking through the eyes of the form right now; if this can happen, it will be seen that there is nothing looking through the eyes. This nothing is what we are and when this is seen, things in the world begin to change without a wish for them to do so, or without effort on the part of someone. They change in a way that makes it a greater possibilty for so-called others to come into the seeing of this.
As within so without. When it is seen that there is nothing within, then it is also seen that there is no within OR without; it is all One Self, one unbroken consciousness. The conscious living of this realisation is reflected as the whole.
Shaving the face in the mirror (the outer) does not remove the bristles; the bristles seen there are a reflection.
When it is seen that there is no central subjective object within that the experiencial information relates to, then there is no inside or outside, no distance, just Oneness.
- PM.You speak a lot about love. It is a word that is often bandied around. What for you is the definition of love?
Love is the biggest bandied-about word in existence, and even when it is believed to have a meaning, it is usually related to an emotion.
Love here is the realisation, the seeing, that there is no body; when there is no one, there is only Love.
Love is this that knows no sense of otherness; otherwise, the word is relating to a feeling or thought that is dependent upon the idea of separation, duality.
Aloneness (all Oneness) is Love, regardless of how many bodies are present.
Live knows no sense of otherness.
- PM.Again in recent email correspondence, you said:
“We must again know (not in the sense of understanding) our Self to BE this Love prior to all the actions that we see arising in consciousness. “
How can we know something without understanding it? And by what means would we come to know it?
Words again! This reference to knowing is not refering to understanding but a knowing that is fully integrated, a Being knowing.
We are using words here to point to, and hopefully bring our focus to, rest upon something that is beyond description. Just because it cannot be described, it does not mean that one cannot BE it.
Trying to describe nought in terms of 1, 2 and 3 would bring us no closer to understanding it, but if all the numbers were to fall away and the mind were to rest with what IS, then nought is immediately the case. It requires no description.
The joke is we all know THIS in the sense that we are all BEing it; our attention is wandering from this to that, looking for this, and all along this is the One not giving the attention to itself, the place (not locatable in time and space) where the attention is arisng from.
What is giving rise to the action of seeking is what is being sought. The seeking mind seeks this as an experience of some sort; so of course there are endless experiences to be had which keeps the attention from coming to rest at its source, which is a non-experience.
- PM.Furthermore, you said:
“If it were possible (and it is) for all human beings to come to SEE that what lives through the human form, appearing AS it, and BEING the experience of the play of Life, is what they are then this madness in our world would end.”
Again, how is it possible to see life as is, without any methodology to achieve it?
It is only when methodology, which would be an attempt of the imagined one, ends that this is seen.
There is no methodology in order to watch this happening now – fingers typing on a key board, thoughts arising, etc. It just happens that way. What is maybe different here is that where all this action is appearing out of is not lost sight of.
There was a time when this was overlooked and now that is not the case.
No one was busy overlooking it when overlooking was the arising action; no one is busy not overlooking now that the seeing of this is present. Any attempt, the applying of any method at all, would be based on the concept that what is being sought is somewhere else in another moment to be found. Seeking is an action arising and when it ceases to arise, what will remain will be seeing, without any effort, method, practice or technique.
What has always been will be seen by what has always been.
- PM.How did you arrive at a point of seeing if it wasn’t through understanding?
Understanding did take place and I guess that it was understood at some moment, that the wanting of that activity (understanding) to arise was itself an interference on the seeing of this.
The mind itself saw its own limitation.
One is trying to make to come to rest a still clear pool that has become disturbed; the trying to understand how to do that causes ripples on that same pool, hence the disturbance.
Understanding still arises here, more clearly and much more swiftly than ever as questions are asked in talks or retreats but the background, as it were, is not lost sight of. The Stillness, within which all of that is taking place is present prior, during and after the action has taken place.
When the body is alone, there is no arising of the activity of understanding in that way; there are no questions in the seeing of this, nor answers required.
- PM.Would you say seeing is like surrender, by which I mean a total bowing down to the Self in the heart.
Yeh, sort of. I would say it’s more like a giving up where no one does the giving up, it just happens.
Surrender still sounds, when most people use it, like the final thing that they can do, and of course it never is because it doesn’t work either. There is still an element of a doer doing something in that word.
I think Buddha just said one day, Eff It!, and walked away from all attempts to get this and soon afterwards came into the seeing of it; giving up happened.
- PM.You say on your website:
“Non c’è libertà, non c’è liberazione, perché c’è solo ciò che E’ che non è mai né libero né prigioniero.
Only a fool would try to attain liberation through a method.”
How else would you attain it?
By the realisation arising that it cannot be attained, it is already one’s Being! One is always this.
- PM.You also say on your site:
“There is no freedom; no liberation, for there is only what IS which is neither bound nor free. By doing only what is appropriate in each moment one comes to see that there is no one who is restricted in any way at all.”
I am reminded of the quote from Ramana Maharshi:
“You yourself impose limitations on your true nature of infinite being, and then weep that you are but a finite creature. Then you take up this or that spiritual practice to transcend the non-existent limitations. But if your spiritual practice itself assumes the existence of the limitations, how can it help you to transcend them?”
Could you comment on that?
Ha! This is one of the things that he said that I totally agree with.
By living as though one is something other than the One, one plays at getting rid of the limitations that one feels to be not Oneness. The one that imposes the limitations is the same one that imposed the idea upon itself that it is other than what it actually is.
We are all the One and as this One, we are all the Source. If the source creates the idea of separation upon itself, it will then create ways to get out of the sense of being separation – it is endless entertainment. As the game goes on, the suffering involved in holding to be true of one’s self, that which is totally illusive, becomes too much to bear and the game falls apart.
Whether we know it or not we create, it is our nature, when we are ignorant of this fact; we nevertheless create and creation done in ignorance results in the sense of separation being true. When awakening happens, then it is recognised that one is the source of all that is appearing; as a consequence of this what appears changes, for now it is not the creation of ignorance.
- PM.When will I be graced with seeing rather than understanding?
When the interest in undestanding is no longer arising. Anytime.
What is it that is seeing the idea that you are not seeing this right now?
That idea is words appearing as the mind. What is seeing those words is what you are; you are not the words, for they are just a temporary appearance. You are what sees them arising and as this One, you are permanent, ALREADY!
Always nothing. Non-action witnessing actions arising and dissolving.
It is exactly the same here; we are the same One.
Interview with Bodhi Avasa