Somehow it can be shared
June 2008 a young Englishman, Jeff
Foster, came to Holland for the first time. When I talk to him,
he tells me he is surprised to find himself doing the meetings
and coming to different places in the world. At first he didn’t
speak about ‘it’, because he realised it cannot be
communicated. When it was seen, it was too simple to talk about.
But then he was asked to speak to people and people came to listen.
During the interview he says: I never get bored talking about this,
it is always new, always alife. And the visitors of the meetings
in Amsterdam will certainly recognise that. Jeffs expression of
what was seen sounds very fresh, full of life, and it carries the
power of silence.
You want what you are talking about to be very
accessible to everybody?
What I am pointing to, this openness, simplicity and spontaneity, is something that at some level we all know. We all have been newborn baby’s. As adults we seem to have moved away from this and became so solid. From my perspective it is simplicity itself and it is revealed in everything. It can’t be possesed or owned, so it is available for everyone all the time. That is why I like to stick to keeping it very simple, very ordinary and accessible.
Everybody has experienced it also as an adult, playing
with childeren, walking in nature, listening to music. There is
no past and future then, no time and space. There is just what
is happening. Those moments there is no one there, life is just
flowing. As it is always, it is just living itself. To me, awakening
is not ‘out there’ or special. It is very ordinary and hidden in the ordinary things of life. Apparently we were so busy looking for something more that we missed this.
So you don’t explicitly refer to traditions
like Advaita, Zen, etc. that speak about non-duality?
This freedom cannot be contained in a system. I don’t
reject the traditions and people may call me an Advaita teacher,
but I would never call me that myself. It is something that cannot
be taught, but somehow it can be shared. So I would not say from
myself that I am a teachter. It is a pointing back to something
that is already there and that is there for everybody, but that
is overlooked because we are so busy seeking.
Ultimately it is
not about the words. Traditions are wonderful and can be very appropriate
in some point in a certain situation, but what was seen here is
that it is everywhere in all ordinary things of life. So we can
call it nonduality or oneness, all very nice words. Being an Advaita
teacher could become another identity though.
But other people will call you that anyway?
We can’t control what stories people tell of
you. The mind always make stories, it gives it something to do.
The beauty of this is: it can’t be understood, it cannot
be found by intellectual understanding. It is in the mystery of
everything, in the not-knowing, it is where we are. The mind will
go in circles trying to inderstand what can’t be understood.
Over here this trying to understand is what fell away. Then it
is nothing you ever thought it would be.
So the mind, always seeking and active is what
is in the way of awakening, how will it give up?
In the story of Jeff: some years ago I got into this
intense depression and misery and to escape that I started to seek
for answers. This idea of awakening seemed to promise the end of
that suffering. I read about hunderds of books, meditated for hours,
did self enquiry etcetera. I had all kind of spiritual experiences
and glimses of oneness. But the seeking never seemed to end, and
I got more and more desperate. The energy always was moving into
a future, the goal of the mind was now this awakening. All I can
say is that I never found what I was looking for. As long as I
was looking for it, there was this assumption that Jeff was going
to get this awakening. The seeking reached a point of despair and
in that despair something opened up. The mind failed to get what
it wanted and after enough failure it just exhausted itself. It
gave up and it was seen clearly that there is no me to get awakened.
This freedom that I was looking for was always there. The very
effort of grasping the freedom makes it appear as if it is not
here. I wanted to escape my prison, but the attempt to escape the
prison is the prison. Looking back it seems funny, but at the time
it was very serious. In the collapse of the mind the secret is
revealed and it is revealed in all the ordinary things of life.
It is in a chair, the floor, the air, in all things. So looking
for the extraordinary is creating the ordinary. As long as I was
looking for something more out there, there is the assumption that
this is not enough. They always go together, the search implies
that this is not enough.
This search is there not only in spiritual
awakening, but in all what people do and desire?
To a seperate person life is never enough, there
is always this longing to come home, to reach wholeness. This search
for wholeness takes a million forms. It isn’t only spiritual
seeking, it is also the search for money, for status, for being
somene special. It is this movement to find some sort of completion,
to come home. We often have this idea that spiritual seeking is
in some way ‘higher’. That can be a real trap. There
is no difference between I am a millionaire or I am the greatest
pop star or I am a spiritual person, it are all identities.
was seen is essentially that ‘me’ is the illusion.
It doesn’t matter what the me is. We put so much effort into
becoming someone, that is is quite shocking to see that the whole
thing is a dream. This whole me, past and future, where is it?
I just couldn’t find it anymore. It had become just a thought.
It is a kind of death to see that: I don’t really exist,
I am just a thought.
It was seen right in the midst of misery and
confusion and despair. Right in the heart of not getting what I
wanted. So if you are 5 or 100, if you are a millionaire or a beggar,
it is possible to see that I is just an illusion.
You talk to people, they listen and how will
this help awakening in them?
I don’t even hope or expect that awakening
will happen. It will happen when it happens. Also I don’t
feel it is my mission to wake people up. I see this as a sharing,
like meeting friends. I have no sense Jeff is doing this. The words
come out, I hear the words come out and sometimes it shocks me.
I, Jeff, coudn’t have done it. This is oneness expressing
itself, it is oneness meeting itself.
Somehow, I don’t understand
how, it can be shared. In that sharing there is no longer me and
you, no longer Jeff teacher and you pupil. In sharing there is
just oneness, oneness appearing as this body, oneness appearing
as that body, oneness looking through these eyes, oneness looking
through those eyes Oneness appearing as the chair, as the floor...
When people ask questions it are all questions I also asked. I
never got answers to any of these questions. I am not a teacher
because I never answer anybody’s questions. There is just
circling around them till the questioning dissolves and it is seen
that this is already complete. In itself life is whole, complete,
it is already oneness. It is oneness expressing itself, oneness
meeting itself. People who come to the meetings sometimes say that
the words leave them confused. The moment you talk about nonduality,
there is paradox after paradox. But beyond the words something
is happening. It is like a feeling: I don’t understand it,
but somehow I know it, somehow I have always known this. This is
what these meetings are about, not about Jeff trying to teach.
Do you think there is some kind of a process
before someone is seeing this?
There appears to be, but when it is seen, it is seen
that there is no past. Of course we can still tell the story about
the person Jeff who was miserable. But it feels like a story, as
a dream. It might be a story about someone else, the whole past-
it is gone. This is what is more amazing, so alive, so fascinating.
This is constantly changing, now and here.
When you meet people,
in the heart of that, there is nobody there. It is the most natural
thing and true for all of us. It is not a special state I am in.
It is true for us all that the past is just a story, what we are
as a person is just a story. As I said earlier, we experience that
all the time. Mind doesn’t want to stay with that for long,
it always wants to seek again. So the mind comes back and makes
everything seem solid again, but it always is falling away also
all the time. We don’t notice it, because there is nothing
to notice. When you are not there, there is nobody there to notice.
When the mind knows as information how that
works, it can at least be open for that?
It can see: o, it is that simple. That is what happens
in the meetings. Questions fall away. It is simpler than every
thought. Relax into that , you don’t have to meditate for
thousend years, it is already trying to show itself in everything.
Everything is trying to teach us this. When you see a flower and
you are absorbed in a flower, this is destroying you. Maybe we
are so attacted to nature, because in nature there is no grasping.
The trees and flowers allow you to be nobody, to be not separate.
All spirtitual teachings are pointing to this. But
they become a practise, something to do, to put effort in, another
addiction. On the other hand, when you find yourself meditating,
this is exactly what is needed. In my case it was seen that life
itself, whatever is happening, talking, sitting ouside and eating
breakfast, whatever, that is already it. Trust that the practises
are there when you need them, whatever they are. Ultimately you
are not doing this, there is something far beyong the mind, that
the mind can never understand. Life is actually always trying to
show us things are outsinde out control. When this relaxation happens
there is no way of knowing where this will take you when this starts
to resonate. You might be the greatest meditator in the world,
become a spiritual teacher, go off and make a million on the stockmarket
or anything else. There is no way of knowing this. It is so clear
in the case of Jeff. I found myself doing this. A year or two ago,
when you would have said that I would be talking to people and
travel around the world I would have thought you were crazy, but
life takes you there. It is a mystery of life, that it takes you
where you need to be, because you are not separate from life.
The theme of this Amigo is 'the beauty
of our powerlessness? Of our not-being-able-to… You said
already a lot about that.
In my experience the intense suffering was necessary
to wake me up. Your whole life is given, everything is trying to
wake us up, even pain or suffering. There is a beauty in all the
seeking and suffering and longing to come home.
Home is so close,
it is here. Then it is seen that you were already home and have
always been home. It is astonishing, it is the mystery of creation
that this is even possible, that there is apparent separation from
oneness and seeking – some people go all over the world-
and then coming back to itself. Seeing it has always been there.
The whole thing unfolded in complete innocence. Mind is innoncently
looking for something it can never have, for something that has
never been lost. Somehow, yes, there is a real beauty in that.
Jeff published 2 books with Non-Duality
• Life without a centre: awakening
from the dream of separation
• Beyond awakening, the end of spiritual
[by Patrica van Bosse]