Yes, I get that point. What I'm just saying
is: you are suggesting that there is a different
relationship with thought.
Oh yes, I am.
Would you not say that, by and large, we go
around believing ourselves to be the thinking?
Would you not say that the average person goes
around caught up in-'my car is not working, I've
got to fix it, what am I going to do about it,
why is it happening to me'-and it goes on and
I know. I think he's just immersed in this
world and he has no escape. Not escape-it's the
wrong word-he has no peace, no stillness at his
centre. He imagines he hasn't-because he is-he
is that. This is not an achievement. This is what
he is. Everyone of us is doing it, doing it right,
living it from who we really, really, really are-everyone
of us is doing it right, but he is not cashing
it. It's like having a million pounds in the bank
and thinking you are a pauper-and writing no cheques
Douglas, your daily activities involve, obviously,
some planning for your next trip and so forth,
and whatever you are involved in at home; by way
of writing, household chores and so forth. So
you would then say little Douglas is busy with
all of that, perhaps thinking about letters to
I wouldn't quite put it like that. You see
I don't think there are two centres-who I really
am here and little Douglas who's there-this kind
of supermarket of consciousness with little Douglas
a corner shop, a little tiny bit of consciousness
no doubt borrowed from here-but no, it isn't.
Little Douglas, really, is not conscious; little
Douglas is a phenomenon for others, for me and
so on. But he's not a sentient being. Sentient
being is one Being in all beings.
So a new thought arises in that sentient being?
Yes, that's right-and the mystery is why these
thoughts, which are so partial and very often
misleading, arise from who we really, really,
really are. And of course, that is the whole mystery,
to which there are no answers. But certainly,
it is very mysterious why illusion should come
along anyway-because the illusionary thoughts
arise from the same indivisible consciousness
in which we all share.
So this leads to the next thing I find quite
interesting. I, for instance, sometimes find myself
very alert to my thoughts. For instance, my recent
loss. Grief arose and one was alert to it. In
fact, I find it easier to be alert to those things,
to be awake to it, and to see it within myself.
But then, other times, there is a sort of hypnotic
state as it were, you're just being carried along
by this and afterwards you realise-gee whiz, I
seem to have been unconscious. Do you feel that
this still happens to you?
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think practice is enormously important - indispensable
to keep coming back to this. Coming back to it until
it's natural to be natural.
Yes, it certainly does, and I thank God it
does. It means that one is more of a human and
not less human, and anyone who did not feel grief
at a bereavement like yours, anyone who never
thought an unworthy thought, would be an impossible
person, a monster-impossible to live with. The
people who fill my heart and I love, are people
who have a weaker side, who have these limitations
as people. Yet, they are truly human in the best
and most loveliest sense. Who I really, really
am hopefully doesn't make me less human, but more
a human, and that humanity involves these feelings.
I think that this is a human condition and not
to be deplored, it is something to be experienced
and is never separate from who I really, really
am. Which does, in a sense, transform it, but
does not abolish it. One's stability does not
abolish one's humanity, it doesn't cease to be.
In fact, it's more human and it's certainly, as
such, not only imperfect but imperfectable. Affection
lies in who I am not in my phenomenal Douglasness.
I understand the humanness of grief and pain
and all of that, but very often when these arise
within me there's an awakeness to it, and actually
seeing that this is within me, the impersonal
me. I'm also talking about those times when there's
a kind of unconsciousness which Gurdjieff would
have called being like a robot-you know just going
around and not being awake-and then suddenly realising
that you were for 10 minutes or so, or half an
hour, whatever, in a kind stupor. And I think,
when one practises the seeing, this division becomes
more acute, of actually knowing times when there
is a wakefulness and which is very difficult perhaps
to talk about, and times when you suddenly realise
after the fact-I've been going around in a robot-like
fashion. But I'm asking, does this state still
exist for you? Can one be alert all the time as
Well, this is good perennial question, always
crops up, and well I'm sure you've heard me say
this, that Ramana himself gave the key when he
was asked a similar question. He said-when he
was asked whether he was brilliantly awake or
alert all the time-that sometimes it's like the
treble melody in the piece of music which you
attend to; if you're attending to that music then
that's what you attend to, not to the bass accompaniment.
But if the bass accompaniment were to stop you
would notice it-and sometimes his experience is
more in the bass accompaniment, and sometimes
in the treble melody, and therefore there are
rhythms of attention. And the way I put it, is
this. I think practice is enormously important-indispensable
to keep coming back to this. Coming back to it
until it's natural to be natural. And this coming
back to who one is, is only possible because one
has to some extent gone away. I mean, it's like
my love for Catherine, for instance. For hours
and hours, it might be the whole day when I didn't
think of Catherine-it doesn't mean that I don't
love her anymore. There's a level in my being
when I go on loving her whether I'm celebrating
it and spelling it out or not. The love is going
on anyway, and it's similar with who I really,
really, really am. I mean this deep, deep conviction
of who I really, really, really am is not an idolatrous
being hooked on all the time in being absorbed
in that Reality. I think this is freedom. And
one is free to play around, not in total negligence
of who I am. But leaving that realisation on hold
is going on at a certain level and I'm convinced
that it doesn't have to be raised to consciousness
the whole time. To think that it has to be raised
to full consciousness the whole time seems to
me a species of idolatry.
of the side diversions of this whole thing, is at
a certain stage to cultivate the siddhis, powers,
that do come with the seeing of who one is - and
they do come."
There is a kind of paradox, isn't there, that
one has to practise to be what one is naturally?
Yes-well you practise to really get rid of
the illusion-not to achieve the Reality.
Yes, that is a very important point, because
in the spiritual supermarket that has mushroomed
over the last 2025 years, there seems to
be a constant movement to achieve some extraordinary
state, and you're directly the opposite. Would
you not say that we're really practising only
to remove the illusion?
That's right. All of us are living from this.
Ramana kept saying everyone's living from this-everyone's
enlightened. Everyone is firmly stationed-where
else could they be but in natural nature-and the
only difference between himself and others is
that he enjoyed it and others ignored it. It's
not any different at all-except in that.
But you would not deny that certain disciplines,
if practised arduously at great sacrifice, can
lead to fairly extraordinary experiences, but
they're simply experiences, and we are over-looking
Oh yes, indeed, and one of the traps, one
of the side diversions of this whole thing, is
at a certain stage to cultivate the siddhis, powers,
that do come with the seeing of who one is- and
they do come. And it's different for different
people. Some people get a good old helping, others
don't. But that's one of the snags, one of the
diversions, and it's a very serious one.
And perhaps because it's simply just that,
an experience-no matter how extraordinary it is-it's
what prompts those who have these to don some
fancy clothing and set themselves up on a pedestal.
I think that in some cases, yes-and it is
to get power over others and this is the criterion,
really. I mean, am I out to get power over people?
And one of the ways to doing it is to claim that
one's special and dress up in a special way and
put on holy airs and so forth. I think this is
such a pity.
Douglas, the other question I think readers
would like to enquire into is the dreaming one.
A lot of psychologists, and some-I'm going to
use the ugly word-enlightened people, say that
dreaming very often is simply the working out
in sleep of problems that we have left unattended
to during our waking hours. So symbolically, the
brain is trying to bring some order to itself-and
most dreams, not all, are simply that-and therefore,
theoretically, a problem-free mind would not dream
as much in sleep. What's your response?
page was published on October 21, 2001.