I have been re-reading your book, This Is It, and I am amazed at how strongly I resonate with what is stated therein. There is definite knowing of what is described in the book, yet there is also self-doubt about my ...worthiness of this knowing. How can there be such knowing and at the same time still a fascination with the limited self? That is what appears in my clouded brain.
JK: Well, even the clouded brain is a perfect expression of Oneness.
There is still a fascination with the idea of the "spiritual warrior" and levels of spiritual maturity. There is a knowing that the whole personal aspect of spiritual progress is so obviously spurious, but when it comes to the group I'm involved in, there is the viewing of such deep feeling and expression of powerful courage in facing “inner stuff" and "breaking free" from conditioned patterns by those in the group, that this ego puts a great deal of weight on these spiritual displays.
JK: It all comes down to the fascination with the "spiritual warrior” you believe you are. And group settings usually only intensify this sense of being in a horse race. When I was a medical student, I was involved in such a group myself. There was a siddha-yoga guru from the Muktananda tradition in Belgium where a group of spiritual seekers was gathered around. And the group indeed showed all the striving and wanting and comparing on the spiritual level. I was part of it and fascinated by “my” progress. The new insights I received from the master, all the techniques and mantras. All that stuff was mind blowing. All these processes were fascinating to my seeking mind because it all came down to “me.”
So you know what I am talking about.
JK: As long as you are hungry for spiritual food, you will be attracted to these gurus. Because they will provide you with what you crave for. Don’t blame them for it. Enjoy it while you’re there. And maybe one day you will see through it all. And when the spiritual seeker is unmasked, the whole spiritual game may become obsolete.
Is that what is called “clear seeing?”
JK: Clear seeing is seeing through the common idea that we are limited to this individual we see in the mirror, a spiritual seeker who has to make his or her life work.
But I like this game. At moments I hate it because I don’t seem to attain my ultimate spiritual goal, but on the other hand I am coming closer to “it.”
JK: As long as the firm belief in being limited to this personal entity is overwhelming, you will be fascinated by “your” progress, and the spiritual opera will go on and on.
In your book, you say it is all a daydream.
JK: Life is a good movie: you don’t realise you’re in a movie because everyday life looks so real. That’s why I call it a daydream. But when you have a good look at what this person really is, you may discover that it is a concept. I think it is one of the greatest discoveries you can make in life, really seeing that the ego is an idea that appears in the mind. What you think you are is built up by hearsay and memory.
It’s a label.
JK: Yes, it is just an image appearing on the screen. It is not “you” watching the movie, the movie is being watched by the Light and your ego or personality is just one of the thousand images that appear on the screen every minute. While you read these words, you are convinced that there is a person – you – who is reading them. There is indeed a sense of “you” around. We believe it’s something solid but in fact it’s an image that pops up. Not always, but let’s say regularly. There is also a sense of letters forming words – and these sentences having a meaning. So you believe you are reading these words right now. This means that both the text as well as the sense of “you” are being witnessed. What is the witness of both your “me” and the words? Who or rather what is the final witness? It is the Light that makes your movie shine.
That is my higher self then.
JK: No, not all. Don’t try to claim it for yourself. Please be accurate here. The idea of a higher self or soul is again an idea in the mind, it is just another image appearing in the daydream. There in only one Light. And that is not “your light” or “my light.” You as a person appear in It as an image, that’s all. What you really are is that Light, not the individual. There is only one of it: it is timeless and borderless.
I see. It is the light in the back of the movie theatre. It shines on everybody.
JK: But It is not separate from the images: the Light and the images are one. It’s like a plasma screen. That’s why it’s also referred to as Oneness. One Light. One Consciousness.
What is it like, this Oneness? Is it like perfection?
JK: You can’t describe Oneness. The Light that is the very essence of our movies can’t be described with words. It can’t be seen during spiritual peak experiences. It is the very seeing itself as well as what appears. It is That which is beyond form, present in every form and at the same time It is without form.
I see. It’s formless and at the same time expressed in every form. And the Light is not separate from me or you: it is in each one of us. No matter what I look like or what I did in life.
JK: Endless variations appear within this Light. All sorts of images appear in It and the Light doesn’t care nor judge. The Light doesn’t have an agenda or higher plan, there is no operator or designer behind the Light. The Light just shines.
And we are all made of that Light.
JK: There is only Light. All the images on the screen are made of the same substance. Just like clay can take any form, a statue of a saint or a statue of the devil - without changing its clay-ness. The essence is the same, no matter what form it takes. So, in the end, there is only one clay. One sand and many sandcastles. One formless Light appearing as many forms.
But I can’t see this Unicity.
JK: You never will.
JK: It’s impossible to see or feel It. This Oneness is just like space. It is here, it is everywhere and yet it is invisible. One could describe it as “nothing” while it is at the same time that in which everything appears. It doesn’t exclude anything.
How can Awareness become apparent then?
JK: This self shining Awareness will not come to the surface as the result of your effort. There is no need to follow the rules of a spiritual tradition with the expectation that suddenly Awareness will be there. It can’t be lost, it has never been away. It’s all and everything.
Is that what Advaita is all about?
JK: I am not an expert in Advaita. I am not a teacher in Advaita or nondualism. All I know is that Advaita means “not two.” It tries to point at That which is undivided. No more demarcation between one and the other, between subject and object.
Several Advaita teachers claim to be speaking from the non-dual perspective, and yet the majority of these teachings still convey a dualistic message of getting better. Of going somewhere. Of turning this world into a better place. Is that real Advaita?
JK: Well, there are a lot of misconceptions around. A lot of teachers say that “all there is, is Oneness” and in the same book they will subtly suggest that there is somewhere to go. They will make the reader feel as if there is something wrong with him or her, or that there is something to get rid of. To me, real Advaita means there is no separation between this and that.
It is just a label they give themselves because Advaita is popular these days.
JK: Maybe. I don’t know. And there is nothing wrong with the dualistic teachings. I just point to the fact that they are not using the right label. They drive a BMW and say it is a Mercedes.
Does it matter?
JK: No, it’s not important. It’s rather a matter of being clear. Real nondualism can’t accept any goals or levels in the spiritual field. That of course puts an end to all your religious beliefs. For a lot of people that’s just unacceptable – especially if they have invested a lot in their spiritual tradition.
But words can be tricky. Maybe a teacher says one compromising thing to help the reader before telling the whole truth.
JK: I don’t accept that as an excuse. Why would we lead the reader up the garden path? There is only this – which is simply that what appears. Really, there is no need for a divine plan to make things appear. When that is clear, it is obvious that there is no longer the need for holy books, prayers, saints or karma. There simply is no divine purpose except in the minds of the people. It is amazing to see that some teachers say they only talk about Advaita and 5 minutes later they tell someone to still their minds or to be careful with egocentric thoughts. That’s not Advaita to me. I don’t say that they are wrong and I am right: I just point to the fact that they are driving a BMW. It’s not a Mercedes. But most people don’t notice the difference anyway.
In some parts of your books, there is also a tendency to suggest there is a difference between one teacher and the other.
JK: I know. It sounds as if one is better than the other – while on another page I say there can be no hierarchy. I don’t say that the Mercedes is better than the BMW. That is why I always add that there is nothing wrong with some teachers compromising Advaita. The real Advaita is not better or higher than the dualistic teachings. The compromising and the side tracks are also perfect expressions of Oneness.
The subject is hard to put in logical terms anyway. Impossible to talk about using words. And there is a lot of confusion around regarding non-duality.
JK: Take for example my last book “This Is It” (Watkins Publishing). The subtitle I gave my publisher is “the Nature of Oneness”. But on the bottom of the front page they also wrote, “Interviews with teachers of non-duality including Eckhart Tolle.”
What’s wrong with that?
JK: I believe the publisher made a mistake there. Tolle is a nice guy, but he is not a teacher of nondualism.
Why is Tolle not a teacher of non-duality?
JK: Because he is telling the reader what to do. Maybe it’s not so obvious in his interview with me but it certainly is in several parts of his books. On the first page of his book “The Power Of Now” he says that “you are here so that the universe can develop its divine purpose; that is how important you are!” He is talking to you as a person, you have a spiritual goal. The ego likes that of course, but is that nondualism? I understand the publisher who wants to sell as many books as possible. As Eckhart Tolle is a best selling author, he wanted to use Tolle’s name to boost the sales of my book. That’s ok with me. But there are only a few people in the book that are not compromising.
JK: To name just the two I know quite well personally: Tony Parsons and Nathan Gill . There are others around of course, but these two seem to be the closest to what I am saying in my books. And both have had great influence on my writings.
Why did you keep the interviews with the others as well?
JK: Because they are very interesting. You see, the interviews in the book were done over several years, from 2000 till 2002. And the first part of the book “This Is It” was written much later, at the beginning of 2004. And if the reader is attentive, he or she will notice that this book invites the reader to have a critical look at all teachings that are around these days – including those in my own book.
You invite your reader to have a second look at the people you met? In other words, the fact that their interview is published in your book doesn’t mean that the reader has to agree completely?
JK: Exactly. Sometimes even my own words are not 100 percent Advaita.
That’s interesting. I’ve never heard of a book on this subject doing so. You invite your reader to have a critical look at what is written there.
JK: But I was surprised to hear that most readers don’t seem to get that idea. Even after reading my book. I thought it would be obvious.
Let’s make it clear then: you invite the reader to check who is compromising and who is not.
JK: Yes. That’s right. I give the reader all the tools to do so in the first 75 pages of the book. When you keep that in mind while you read the other teachers, you will see that some of them are indeed talking about real Advaita, while others - in the interviews or in their own books - may be compromising sometimes.
I am not sure if I can believe you here.
JK: All I ask you is to check it all for yourself. Don’t believe me. The character “Jan” has nothing to do with Oneness. Anyway, a teacher who addresses the reader on a personal level is compromising. And you just check out for yourselves when this is happening. For some teachers it is obvious, for others it is only subtly there.
I will have to read your book again, I believe.
JK: You may indeed discover a new book if you look at it this way. The introduction says it all: there is no individual you, so there is nowhere to go. You are already That, so how can I give you any advice to become what you are?
But you’re apparently not the only one saying this.
JK: For example, Tony Parsons , Nathan Gill and Leo Hartong write in the same way, but each one of them uses his own words. And there are a few others around. To me, Tony Parsons ’ way of expressing this subject might be the most radical and consequential of all.
Doesn’t it feel scary to most people to discover that there is no one? That there is no free choice? No responsibility?
JK: Yes indeed. But Tony doesn’t say you have no responsibility, he just says, “there is no one.”
That’s even worse!
JK: How do you mean?
Well, it feels uncomfortable. Nobody home.. And who am I then? What is the purpose of my life then? Why is there suffering? Doesn’t it all matter then?
JK: Lots of so-called seekers just hate this message. They keep coming back to the argument that what Tony is saying promotes laziness and indifference. They say it is dangerous.
JK: But these people don’t comprehend what’s fundamentally being said. The real nondualism says that there is no hierarchy on the spiritual level. There is nowhere to go. There is nothing wrong with you, simply because there is no real you. It’s just an idea in your mind – and in the mind of “other” people around you. Your parents have given you a name. They have told you that you are a person. But have you ever checked?
No, I haven’t. But everybody believes that they are a person.
JK: The person you believe you are is just a ghost. Do you believe that a ghost can (or should) attain enlightenment?
But there are all these stories about saints and avatars. About heaven and hell.
JK: I know. It’s a beautiful opera, isn’t it? And seekers are fascinated by all these stories. They believe they get answers to their questions.
I still find it hard to just put it all away.
JK: You don’t have to put away anything. When there is a clear knowing that the person is a phantom, you can still pretend to be a person for practical reasons. Say for social reasons. Even if you feel identified with your ego, so what? Nothing matters when the daydream is unmasked. Awareness doesn’t exclude the appearance of your ego-image. Awareness doesn’t exclude the appearance of emotions which you believe are yours. You can’t do anything “wrong” to make Awareness go away. Forget about all the religious leaders with their restrictions and rules. Nothing is excluded. Nothing can be excluded from Oneness.
You make it too easy. Spiritual traditions make it complicated and you make it sound so simple.
JK: Let me tell you: it is simple. I can’t see anyone who is not enlightened – and on the other hand nobody is enlightened – never was and never will be.
It’s all consciousness anyway. I’ve read that somewhere: “All there is, is consciousness.”
JK: The term Consciousness or Awareness (with a capital) is a conceptual pointer to the Light that makes all our movies shine. There is nobody or nothing outside of It! Your ego is also part of It – whether you see that it is a ghost or not. No matter what you think or believe.
JK: Check out if this 'you' that supposedly does the thinking can be found apart from thoughts themselves. See if there really is a person inside that brain that does the thinking. If it cannot be found, then who is going to find Liberation?
Theoretically I agree: I can’t find this person inside my body or brain or soul. But on the other hand I must say that it still feels as if there is somebody living here in this body. I mean in every day life. Don’t you feel the same?
JK: Well, I don’t know how to answer this, because who is the ‘me’ saying there is no ‘me’? If the seeker is an image, how can I (who?) say that Jan’s spiritual search is over? That would be just another idea. That would be just another image on the screen.
But the person can still appear?
JK: The idea of being a person looks real sometimes, indeed. But even those moments are just snapshots. They come and go like all the other images that appear in “our” movie, say sixteen every second - as in a real movie. The idea “I am a person” is just one of the ten thousand images that appear every day. And these images are just as real as the movie seems real while you’re watching it and while you’re hypnotised by the story. And real life is supposed to look real! That’s how the daydream is designed. But if the person has been seen through as a ghost, what can this phantom then afterwards claim to feel or not feel?
But without your body you couldn’t even write these books about awareness? In other words, doesn’t awareness require the brain?
JK: Without this body, there would be no concepts about awareness in this head, yes. But that doesn’t affect awareness. It is like saying that gold depends on your wedding ring to be gold. Gold does not depend on your ring but vice versa. You appear in Awareness, not the other way around. Don’t confuse Awareness (with a capital) with the medical term “awareness” which is related to brain activity and can be measured through an electroencephalogram visualising our brain waves.
But I am here! And I still have the strong feeling of doing things, attaining things, going through an evolution, making choices, having responsibilities. I’ve been to India to visit Ramana’s holy mountain. I’ve been meditating for several decades. I’ve chosen to become a spiritual seeker. I feel I’ve made a lot of progress in the spiritual field by doing what I’ve chosen to do.
JK: Most seekers still believe in the reality of individual choice. We are taught to make effort and make our lives work. We are invited to pray, to meditate, to work on our karma. To do our best. But what does it still matter if there is no one?
That is all I have to accept? That there is nobody home?
JK: When it’s clear that there is only Oneness, all your spiritual interests will disappear. Your holy books will become like toys you used to play with. There is nowhere to go. When it is obvious that there is nobody home, there is nothing left to attain. Nothing to claim.
Ok, from this day on, I will try doing nothing!
JK: Even “doing nothing” won’t bring you enlightenment.
I will try to accept life as it is.
JK: That would be another task. There is nothing to accept, nothing to let go. Don’t try to get rid of your ego. Even selfish thoughts in essence are Consciousness. Even the ego is an expression of Oneness. And so are the misleading teachings. So, nothing can obscure Awareness.
So, there is nothing wrong with me?
JK: Again, it is more correct to say that there is no me. And there may also appear a recognition that indeed there is only One Being appearing as 6.5 billion (apparently separate) people. When there is no longer a sense of there being a separate individual living in this body, there is nothing left to argue about. What prescription can I give you if there is no you to give the prescription to?
What about all these special places then? All these techniques? All these avatars?
JK: If you bring me to that holy mountain in India, sitting on the top of that mountain - in the lotus position with our eyes closed - will be no more holy then having a beer at the bar of a local hotel nearby. It’s so obvious and still a lot of seekers seem to refuse the idea. Oneness is everywhere. Is that clear? Everywhere is everywhere. I can’t point out one person who is better on the spiritual level than another one. That doesn’t mean there are no special energies around, that there are no higher experiences to be had, that there are no charismatic teachers, I just want to say that these are all mind games. Beautiful ones, fascinating sometimes, but they don’t point to Oneness. Rather the opposite. They point to the differences, they suggest that there are spiritual hierarchies.
Is that what your books are really about?
JK: What I refer to in my books is not about doing or becoming something, but about being, simply being. Not you being, not me being - simply being. Oneness or Consciousness points to what you truly and already are – no matter what you believe or no matter what the others said. Forget about what all the priests and teachers have told you. Seeing this is not so much a result of doing your best, letting go the ego or being in the now. It’s about the falling away of the belief in a spiritual seeker who has to attain a higher level of awareness.
So for you, Liberation is the complete end of the sense of separation.
JK: Not for me, because Jan has nothing to do with liberation. Jan is just one of the ten thousand actors on the screen. I am talking about the Light in the images, not about a character finding liberation for himself.
But there’s still a body-mind organism that has memories and preferences.
JK: Yes, of course. In the appearance, anything can happen. That’s the adventure. Lust, love, laziness and impatience may still keep coming up in the daydream. But they are not mine, they just pass by. And all sorts of images can appear, nothing can be excluded.
Even egocentric thoughts?
JK: Why not? The plasma screen doesn’t care about what kind of images appears on the screen. Although less likely, images of pride, anger or fear can still appear. They are all the expression of Unicity.
That’s how Oneness expresses sometimes.
JK: These are images as well, the Light doesn’t care. Nothing or nobody can be excluded from “This.” In fact, nothing matters, not even what we have just discussed. Forget my words, they are concepts as well. Everything is as it is. The daydream still goes on, even when the daydream has been unmasked as a daydream.
Return to list of topics in Discourses by Teachers and Writers .
See the list sorted by Topic.
See the list sorted by Author.