22 Apr Interview – Magazine 3eme millenaire
For forty years, just like everybody else, I believed I was my thoughts and my body : I believed I was somebody. And then there was a shift. Spontaneously, in a flash, mind was totally silent. Not a single thought: silence, stupefaction, profound astonishment left no room for anything else whatsoever.
Thus I started observing. The way I operated had changed. There was this “thing”, the silence… and alongside that there was “everything else”. The name I give to this “everything else” is “I am”, that is to say whatever arises from one moment to the next: I saw that everything appeared within this thing, this silence, from moment to moment. That everything disappeared within it too.
Did you say that the way you operated had changed?
There was this lightness, this well-being. I felt in sync with myself, in sync in a way I had never felt before. Things arose, situations, events, even things that would have really disturbed me previously… I could not find fault with any of it. I was no longer reacting in fact. And when my son died in an accident, two months later, the same thing. This silence, this tranquility precluded any reaction, prevented me from reacting like a mother devastated by her son’s death. I saw that suffering did not exist.
Suffering does not exist?
The situation does not cause suffering. For me, there is this silence. The situation cannot cause any suffering when this thing is there.
Who sees this thing? Yolande?
This thing sees. Seeing appears within it, a clear-sightedness that sees everything that appears. In fact it happens simultaneously: in the foreground there is this thing… with everything else that appears, the whole of existence in the background.
This thing is the space that precedes everything else, every thought, every event. You cannot understand it : it understands everything else, encompasses everything else. This thing – let’s call it Silence, Presence, Intensity, Love or Ultimate Reality – in any case words cannot describe it – this thing can only be experienced. In the beginnning, I thought it was nestled deep within me. Now I see that it is everywhere. It is everything. There is nothing else, nothing that is not it. There is nothing left to worry about, nothing to attach to.
This thing is deep within you and everywhere… so where is Yolande?
Yolande still appears, but in the background like everything else. She exists without existing. She no longer exists and yet she is there. She no longer has any power. This silence, this intensity has taken her place.
Yes but she still has thoughts, feels emotions…
Of course, thoughts and emotions can arise. But this silence sweeps them aside instantaneously into the background. So there is no longer even the remotest opportunity of identifying with them. And this thing is so strong that you can no longer turn back, no longer return to your old way of operating, identifying with… all that, that you are not.
Sometimes, in the beginning, I would try to think like I used to, make plans like before. Impossible. Just like, in the past, I could not stop myself from thinking, today even if I want to, I cannot make myself think. It’s as simple as that.
What about emotions, all these automatic reflexes we have?
It’s exactly the same. Fear, sadness are like the rest : a movement within you that arises and then subsides. If there is no-one to take it on, there is no fear, no sadness. There is no reaction.
So where do reactions come from, according to you? Is there any way we can free ourselves from them?
They come from thought. From believing that you are somebody. When this belief falls away – and it happens in a split second, you don’t need to practice it for twnety years – there is nothing but this silence, this intensity, you let it be. This new persepctive is always there, this empty fullness, this silence, sometimes intense, sometimes gentle, but always constant.
It is a sensation, like a caress, a presence that never leaves you, even in the midst of action, or concentration. This omnipresent caress encompasses you, encompasses every instant and everything arising within it, prevents you from identifying with the thought, or the feeling, that arises. It is this that gives you this profound sense that there is nobody there. And it is this, this sensation that becomes sight, action… because this spontaneity, this constant sensation prevents you from being in your head. It’s the sensation that sees everything directly. And this seeing is action.
Seeing is action?
When you are in this flow, there is action, without a filter, without thought. You see, you feel; action, gestures, words arise spontaneously, without your having to think about them.
Is it as if reality instantly responds with the appropriate gesture?
You see that things happen of their own accord. There is no need to think about them… life does not need to be thought about…. just to be seen. The rest happens all on its own.
The simple act of seeing…
… you see that all action simply flows…
What about love in all this? You say this thing is love…. What about love between two people?
This non-relationship enables relationship.
This non-relationship with the person you thought you were. This non-separation. And it is this thing within that enables this. It’s this presence that enables love, is love.
In this melting into love, you connect with this non-relationship within. It’s in this non-relating, in this thing that love resides. And it is because you make contact with it that you feel and say: “I’m in love”. The other person has nothing to do with it. Nor do you. Nor the relationship between the two… It’s the listening to this thing, within us, that enables love. It’s this that allows you to discover that love is not outside, that love is not dependant on any thing, any object, any state : it is something that is simply there, inside. There is no longer any need to seek happiness elsewhere, outside : this thing that makes you feel alive, loving, loved… it is there before everything else appears. And it is from this thing, this non-relating, that you fall in love. It’s a love that can never be dethroned by anything, ever.
It’s true, too, that in an intimate relationship, there are moments where you lose sight of yourself, moments of intimacy which are this fusion, this non-separation. The problem comes when you believe you are “in love” with the object or the person, for you recreate a relationship with yourself and you can no longer think about anything else, about anybody else. Thus you cut yourself off from your essence. This very passion should be directed towards this invisible thing that enables this non-relationship with yourself, hence with the other too, and enables you to feel the intensity of this very moment, rather than only the intensity of the relationship with the other person.
Does that mean you can no longer fall in love with somebody?
You have fallen in love with this thing, that’s for sure. But even so you can fall in love with someone, for that is what I am experiencing. It’s beautiful to see that, in the present moment, you are also in love with this person. But if they leave, are no longer there, nothing is missing. This thing is still there and it enables you to live, even without the other, in a state of total well-being.
So Yolande can fall in love… that’s not an emotion?
This intensity points the way. It can be stronger with one person than with another. The intensity is there : you are it. It is what brings you here or takes you there, to be with this person or that person. You do not decide: you go, you are there. The mind does not intervene. Nor does emotion either.
How do you perceive another, others, in this intensity?
I percieve them as I perceive myself, the trees, the mountain, my thoughts : in the background. This “I” always returns to this thing. They are there, without being there. They have retreated into the background in the same way that I did, that my body did, that everything I believed I was, did.
Yes, but how do you perceive each one of us ? There are individual differences aren’t there… even in the background?
Above all, what I feel is that which is closest to me, that is to say, my body, sensations within my body which are magnified beyond measure. In this background, in this I am, that is what is closest. Sensation, intensity, movement. This intensity varies according to what appears in the moment, including the closeness of this or that person. But there is no thought saying “because I feel this movement in the body, this person is like this” or “I must do such and such”. What is going to happen in that moment, will happen… but it will not be because of a knowing, or an understanding: it’s this silence that is at work.
You cannot own anything?
But can you perceive my psyche, my moods?
You are present, you feel whatever is happening flow through you, this movement in your body, fused with everything else. But you don’t intervene, you don’t react, hold an opinion or comment on it. When someone comes into the room, you can feel discomfort, or on the contrary this intensity might increase, but you don’t deduce anything based on what happens. You don’t try to understand why, nor how, nor if there is something that needs resolving, nor how to do it. You feel, full stop.
And when someone confides in you, asks your advice?
All you do is listen. There is no movement, no Yolande thinking this or that. My “I Am” is fused with everything that appears in the moment and I let this thing in the foreground take action if it must take action. So if a gesture arises, it arises from silence. Silence is what knows, is what takes action.
What do I have to do to live this silence?
I have total confidence in this invisible presence. So the only thing one could say, or so it seems to me, is be what you are in the present moment, be it to the full, simply… and allow spontaneity to do what it does.
This is something that cannot be understood, learnt, sought or known. So let yourself be…. what else is possible?
Simply, fully experience the present… that is not that easy!
There are many moments in life when the thought that you are somebody disappears, where there is only this thing seeing everything. Moments of joy, astonishment, wonderment before a beautiful view or on hearing a beautiful piece of music. When in shock too, or intensely fearful…. But most of the time we do not notice these moments, because immediately afterwards our thoughts step in and claim them… be still instead. Before thought : feel. Stay fully present, let yourself feel whatever comes up, without trying to understand it, nor solve it.
Give all your attention to this sensation, welcome it totally, welcome it silently, not mentally. Really accept it totally, in being… in all simplicity.
Many people think there has to be a light, a bright light, extraordinary happenings…. And what if it is quite simply this silence? When there is silence… stay with this silence, this tranquility, discover a little at a time the lightness that prevails from seeing that everything is there, yes, but in the background… no need to make a song and dance of it. And when there is discomfort : stick with this discomfort, totally, let it engulf you, let yourself die – a psychological death – so as to make room for this silence. Let this silence take the upper hand once and for all…
Stay with it, with this sensation in the moment, this intimacy… do nothing. By just being there with it, you are already no longer there, because you feel everything within that moment without interfering. So you are no longer involved in thinking you are someone, you are only sensation. You feel this consciousness, possibly it feels a little personal still, that “your” body is uncomfortable with this sadness, this uneasiness with where you are at : already it is a gift, because you realize in an instant, that tihis intensity, this truth is not in your head…. It is wonderful to be able to feel that already. To already accept the simplicity of this feeling that that is what life is, not seeing bright lights or going into a state of ecstasy : and it’s that too. It’s simply not being a person feeling. It’s sensation, full stop.
For the most part these moments do not last…. What happens? The agitation comes back…
It’s a question of false identification. The mind, steps back in, takes over again, and traps you. Trapped, you totally believe in the mind, you forget the silence, this intense thing that is there. Just experience these moments when they arise.
Experience them before the thought…
Thoughts too, you must accept them. They are always there in the background. Simply allow this attention, this sensation, this thing in the foreground to be there, before re-identifying with the thoughts “this is happening to me” or “this will pass”. May be simply accept the simplicity of this silence, the simplicity of this sensation, the simplicity of being before being someone. Experience the simplicity of feeling, quite simply, without seeking out this sadness, without attempting to feel your body nor anything else for that matter.
Let yourself be taken by what is, because it is there in that moment… So what point is there in a spiritual quest then, since it is aimed at knowing, at a state, progress, something up “ahead” ?
It has meaning because it is there, because it has appeared. Wanting the opposite would amount to the same thing : it would simply be refusing what has arisen…. I believe you have to welcome everything that happens, whether it is meditation, doing yoga, being on a spiritual quest – for it is this primordial state, presence that brings all this about, as is the case with the rest of life in fact.
So let it all happen, even though your personality is there wanting, hoping. Feel, rather than experiment with all sorts of techniques… but you must accept these techniques too : they are simply part of the path appearing before you…
Article translated from the French by Mary Mann. The original article appeared in the autumn 2008 edition of 3e millénaire, no 89 and can be purchased from www.revue3emillenaire.com