In episode # 97, Dr. Reese sits down with Rupert Spira, a world-renowned spiritual teacher and author. In this talk, they get into the practice of self-inquiry as Rupert guides Kevin through the direct path. They also discuss non duality, anxiety relief, and the essential nature of a human. Plus - we find out what the main belief system is in all people.
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Dr. Reese (00:00:00):
Welcome to the podcast.
Rupurt Spira (00:00:54):
Thank you for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here.
Dr. Reese (00:00:57):
You know, I saw a quote from you. You said, instead of spending a life, trying to find happiness, turn around and investigate the one that seeks who is the one that seeks.
Rupurt Spira (00:01:15):
The one that seeks is the one that we call ourself. Me. I, I long for happiness. So the one that is seeking happiness is ourself. And so the suggestion in this quote, rather than, um, adding the search for happiness onto ourself, we investigate the self who is seeking. And in fact, I would suggest that that is that, that, that, that investigation is in fact, the path, the direct path to happiness,
Dr. Reese (00:02:02):
Happiness would be a byproduct of finding yourself.
Rupurt Spira (00:02:06):
Dr. Reese (00:02:08):
Rupurt Spira (00:02:10):
Yes, exactly. Or another way of saying that would be that, uh, peace and happiness are the very nature of ourself, but in order to, um, avail ourselves of the peace and happiness that are our essential nature, we first have to know ourselves as we truly are. Now everybody knows their self to a certain extent. In fact, we all refer to I in our thoughts and words numerous times every day. So we all have a sense of, I, a sense of being myself, but not everybody knows their self clearly. And it is this, uh, lack of clear self knowledge that is, I would suggest it is responsible for prevailing the peace and happiness that are the nature of ourself.
Dr. Reese (00:03:11):
Hmm. So we're talking self inquiry to find ourself our bud in nature, if you will, our Christ nature, our real self, our spirit, whatever term we wanna use.
Rupurt Spira (00:03:31):
Yes. The, the, the traditions, um, refer to our essential self sometimes in one tradition as, as the bud in nature, in another tradition as the Christ nature, to indicate that our essential self is impersonal. It is utterly intimate, but it is impersonal by which, I mean, it doesn't share the limitations of our personal experience, thoughts, images, feelings, sensations, or at the all these are personal unique experiences, but our essential self for, or being whilst intimate, doesn't share the limited qualities of our experience. And that is why in these traditions, it is given an impersonal name, a name that suggests it is something much bigger than the personal self that most people believe and feel their self to be
Dr. Reese (00:04:35):
Self inquiry is a very interesting practice I've played around with it. Uh, it seems to have become more popular in the modern era, through the work of Romana. Maharshi the first thing is we have to watch our thoughts, witness our thoughts. This is not an easy thing for the average person, right?
Rupurt Spira (00:05:04):
Actually watching our thoughts is not really part of the practice of self inquiry. It, it, it is a, a very common practice in, in the spiritual traditions witness, but it's not it we're witnessing our thoughts, witnessing our feelings, witnessing our sensations and perceptions, but it's not actually what is meant by self inquiry. When we witness our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions, we are giving our attention to each of these, to our thoughts. We are witnessing our thoughts, looking at our thoughts, observing our thoughts, recognizing ourself as the observer of them. However, in self inquiry, we are observing ourself. We are giving our attention not to our thoughts, feeling sensations and perceptions. We are giving our attention to ourself. So it's not quite the same as observing one's thoughts and not suggesting that observing one's thoughts is not a legitimate practice, but it's not what is referred to as self inquiry,
Dr. Reese (00:06:17):
Roman Mahar. She says that self inquiry is the, the best straightforward path. The self realization, if I'm not mistaken, he says that that, and devotion are the, like the one to
Rupurt Spira (00:06:34):
Self. So self inquiry, I, I think, and self surrender. Yes. Yeah. Are the two paths that he recommended as being the most, the most easy, the most direct and the most effective
Dr. Reese (00:06:46):
Yes. Even over meditation.
Rupurt Spira (00:06:50):
Well, if by meditation, uh, you mean the focusing of your attention onto an object of experience such as the breath or a flame or a teacher or, or a mantra then yes, he would recommend self-inquiry over meditation because in meditation, we are directing our attention away from ourself towards the objective experience, at least in the initial stages of meditation. So let's, let's take mantra meditation, as an example, when one sounds a mantra, you give your attention to <affirmative> to the mantra, you are directing your attention away from yourself towards an object, albeit a subtle object, a sound, the mantra. It, it's also true to say that as one continues in this practice, that the mantra gets, uh, quieter and quieter and you repeated less and less frequency. So more and more space opens up between repetitions. And during this space, the attention gradually sinks backwards or inwards into its source.
Rupurt Spira (00:08:09):
So the mantra is really, um, a halfway stage. It is a, um, it is a stepping stone. It is given to one who is used to paying attention to 10,000 things. And as a result, can't immediately sink their attention into the, into its source, the heart of awareness. So as a concession to such a mind, the teaching says, okay, instead of paying attention to 10,000 things, just pay attention to one thing. And this steadies the mind, and when the mind is steady, it can then begin to subside into its source. Now self inquiry is just the direct subsidence of the mind into its source without having to go via an object of experience.
Dr. Reese (00:08:59):
Well, we gotta ask a question, right? Either who am I, or what's aware, who's aware.
Rupurt Spira (00:09:07):
Yes. Self inquiry is at least in the early stages initiated by a question whose purpose is to invite the mind away from its objective content back towards its source. Now, of course, as you, as you say, Ramani Maha's favorite question was, who am I or from where do my thoughts come, but it's possible to ask any such question, for instance, am I aware in order to answer the question, am I aware you have to go to the same place in yourself that you go to when you answer the question, who am I, or where do my thoughts come from? So it's not the, the, the actual question itself is not important. It is. It is where the question takes you in your experience. That is important. And it's also important to, to, to, um, just to point out that the asking of the question is not really what is meant by self inquiry. It is just a prelude to self inquiry. It sets your mind in the right direction.
Dr. Reese (00:10:20):
It shifts the attention, right?
Rupurt Spira (00:10:22):
It shifts the attention from its objective content to its source. Instead of following attention, outwards towards an object, we trace the attention inwards towards ourself. So the question, the purpose of the question is to facilitate that turning around of the attention. But once it has done that, we should not go on asking the question, because as long as we are actually asking the question, we are giving our attention to the question to something objective.
Dr. Reese (00:10:54):
So here here's my tea in my hand. So using self inquiry, can I say, who's aware of drinking the tea.
Rupurt Spira (00:11:04):
You could start with that. Yes. And then what would the answer be to who, who, who, who is drinking the tea or who is aware of the tea? The answer is obviously I am, but then the next question. Okay. Who is this I that is aware of the tea?
Dr. Reese (00:11:25):
Well, there's two, there's the ego false self personality. And then there's the beingness, right?
Rupurt Spira (00:11:35):
Well, but we don't actually feel that we are two entities. Everybody feels that I am one, uh, one person, one self, one, uh, however we describe it. So conceptually, we might conceptualize these two, but actually in our experience, we all feel that every moment I, I am one person, I am one entity. I am one being. So at this stage, it's not, it's not important. In fact, it's best not to redefine what this eye is. It's more important because this is an experiential investigation. It's not an intellectual investigation. Of course we are now, uh, rationalizing it. And, and, but, but it's, it's, it's important that the investigation remains experiential. So when we say who, who is aware of the taste of tea, we don't feel, oh, there are two eyes, not E ye the letter I, there, there are two selves that are, that is, that are aware of the tea. Which 1:00 AM I really, we think there is one self called myself or me or I, who is aware of the tea now, who is that? What is that? What is its nature? That is self inquiry.
Dr. Reese (00:12:57):
And so could someone sit there and ponder these questions off of tea for minutes and minutes, hours, and hours? Or is it just a quick thing
Rupurt Spira (00:13:09):
For someone who is coming across this approach for the first time, it may require, require some time. So for instance, uh, let's imagine that we ask someone who has never heard about this before, um, who, who is it that is experiencing the, the taste of tea and the answer is, well, I am, and then the next question was who, okay, but who, who is this eye? And then their next, um, the next answer is, well, it, it is this body. Okay. So this body is something that you experience. Yes. It is a, you experience it as a flow of sensations and perceptions, presumably they'll they agree with you. And then you ask them that, who is it that experiences this flow of sensations and perceptions that we call the body? Well, it's obviously me. It's obviously eye that experiences the body. Okay. I experience the body.
Rupurt Spira (00:14:09):
I am not identical to the body. So who is this eye? That experiences the body. Oh, well, okay. We think about that, but I must be, it must be the mind. Well, what do we mean by the mind? The mind is a, a flow of thoughts and images and perceptions. It's can a thought experience the taste of tea, obviously not can an image or a perception experience the taste of tea, obviously not. So when we say it is the mind that experiences the taste of tea, what, what do we mean exactly? What, what, what do we mean by mind? It's obviously not a thought or an image or a feeling or a perception that experiences the taste of tea. And in this way, the person is we are that they're tracing their way back. First of all, they thought it was, it was my eye.
Rupurt Spira (00:14:59):
It was my tongue that was tasting the tea. Then it was my mind. And it was, we go back and back further. And this process may take some time to begin with and, and everything that seems at first to qualify as I, the body, the, our thoughts, our perceptions, these are discarded. It's not my body. That experiences thet. It's not my thoughts. It's not my perceptions. Did we discard everything? And in this, we are tracing our way back to our essential self. This is the process of self inquiry. And eventually we, we cannot, we get to a place in ourself. If, if we can call it a place in ourself, we get to a place in ourself where we can't go back any further. We just arrive at the, the raw fact of being aware, irrespective of what we are aware of now, to answer your question about time.
Rupurt Spira (00:15:56):
This may take 10 or 15 minutes to begin with because you have to discard each possible, the body, the amount you have to discard everything. Uh, one by one, after you've done that a few times, you no longer need to go through the whole process. What took you 20 minutes? The first time takes you two minutes after a couple of days. And then after a, while you no longer you, you actually no longer need to even ask the question. The question is just to, to take you to the, to the, to the right place in yourself. So very quickly, self inquiry, it no longer need be initiated by a question or a line of reasoning. The impulse comes up. You notice your experience. You might have one question, but what is it that is aware of this? And you go straight back to the fact of being aware.
Rupurt Spira (00:16:51):
And in fact, self inquiry then gives way to self abidance. You're no longer questioning your experience. You are abiding as that, which is aware. And that is really the, the essence of self inquiry. Self-inquiry in fact is better translated. I would suggest as self abidance. It, it, you, in the literature, you see it translated it. The term is AMA Viera, and it is sometimes translated. Self-inquiry sometimes self abidance while both are, are reasonable translations, but self-inquiry, I would suggest is the early stages, or it is the prelude to self abidance, which is really the essence of self.
Dr. Reese (00:17:41):
To me, it almost seems like a reprogramming, almost like, like we were, we were socially engineered to become like these kind of thinking machines, these dream seeking robot type humans. And then self-inquiry kind of breaks that. Cuz if, if I'm say I'm out on the porch, drinking my tea, watching the birds and my mind drifts off to a mental rehearsal, this is a new term that I just discovered mental rehearsals. Uh, it's something my mind does a lot. It's automatically programmed to rehearse something that hasn't happened. So in other words, a week ago, I may have, in my mind had a conversation with you preparing for this interview. It may only last 20 seconds, but with self inquiry, I can stop that by saying what's aware of the thought, right? Am I, am I on or off?
Rupurt Spira (00:18:54):
It it's true. Uh, you, you can, at at any moment of experience, you can so to speak, press the pause button. And instead of following the train of thought or the, or, or the activity that you were engaged in, you can so to speak, pause and ask yourself who or what it is that is aware of this process of thinking or, or acting. But I think it's important to point out that this doesn't imply in any way that there's something wrong with thinking or acting or indeed that there was something wrong in you preparing for this interview. It's very natural. If you're going to give an interview that you prepare for it, or that if you're going to cook a meal, you have to make a, a shopping list of your ingredients.
Dr. Reese (00:19:49):
Sure. So, and I understand that, but the mental rehearsal auto thought it could also be for doctor's appointments. I mean, you can really spiral yes. Outta control.
Rupurt Spira (00:20:02):
Of course, of course. It's very true that the vast majority of our, of our thinking it serves no, um,
Dr. Reese (00:20:10):
Rupurt Spira (00:20:11):
Practical or, or positive yeah. Purpose. It, it is a, um, a mechanical habit that we have, um, that has been programmed into us.
Dr. Reese (00:20:21):
Yes. Yeah. That's why I call 'em auto thoughts. They just, they just come. They're just automatic from the subconscious somehow.
Rupurt Spira (00:20:30):
Yes. And, and they, I would suggest they also, they serve a purpose. These thoughts, they, in most cases, the thoughts that don't have a positive or, uh, practical or creative function, they, they serve a purpose to deflect our attention away from uncomfortable feelings so that they are the, the kind of easiest and commons form of addiction in more extreme forms. When we have uncomfortable feelings, we, we, we go for, to the fridge or, or the bottle or the cigarette or the, the drugs or whatever it is. Um, whereas compulsive thinking is the most benign form of addiction. In fact, it's so addiction, mm-hmm, <affirmative> it for most people doesn't even register as an addiction, right? It's not, it's not expense. It's free.
Dr. Reese (00:21:30):
Rupurt Spira (00:21:30):
It's not dangerous. It's not bad for your health. So there are, there are no obvious repercussions at a physical or mental level that there are repercussions, but they're not immediately obvious to compulsive thinking. So for, for most people, compulsive thinking remains, uh, below the, the, below the radar. So to speak, it is not diagnosed as an addictive habit, but, but it is an addictive habit. And like most addictions its purpose is to deflect our attention away from unbearable feelings, feeling of emptiness, of loneliness, of sorrow, of anxiety, shame, guilt. We take off into a fantasy about the future. And we forget about our sorrow, our shame. It gives us relief from our sorrow in the same way that a glass of wine or, or a, um, a YouTube clip
Dr. Reese (00:22:27):
Or, yeah, it's a distraction.
Rupurt Spira (00:22:30):
It's a distraction from it's a sort of smoke screen, an effective or reasonably effective smoke screen that prevents us having to fully face and feel unbearable emotions.
Dr. Reese (00:22:47):
Well, some people are just
Dr. Reese (00:22:50):
Gonna J daydream regardless. Right. Even if they live a so-called happy life. Um, I'm sure. Uh, I don't know, LeBron James, as an example, one of the most famous athletes in the world. Okay. You'd have to say, he's living a good life. He's living on his dream. He's got tons of money. Does he daydream? I'd have to say probably, uh, unless he's doing self inquiry on the low and meditation, we don't know, but, uh, you know, this, this, this dreaming habit that the mind has, how do we stop it or do we not stop it? Do we just ignore it,
Rupurt Spira (00:23:37):
Trying to stop the mind is an activity of the mind and more or less subtly perpetuates it. So I would suggest that much of the mind's activity is orientated towards finding peace and happiness. Once we find the peace and happiness that are the nature of our being the mind's activity, at least that part of it, that is not positive creative. The, the, the practical that part of the mind's activity comes to an end naturally effortlessly, spontaneously, not from not through discipline or effort or practice, but through understanding why, because the impulse for that, that, that, that generated much of the mind's activity has subsided. In other words, are suffering. It has subsided, and therefore there is no longer any need to escape from our current situation. And therefore that part of the mind's activity whose purpose was to escape from our current circumstance subsides leaving us in, in, in the present in peace.
Dr. Reese (00:25:00):
How about your mind? Is it only used as a tool at this point?
Rupurt Spira (00:25:05):
Mostly. Yes. I won't say that there are, my mind never has, uh, daydreaming thought that there's, you know, that there are old habits still linger in the mind, but that by far larger part of the mind's activity, whose purpose was to seek happiness in objective experience as, as subsided.
Dr. Reese (00:25:29):
Hmm. And what kind of doors does that open up or is it just that peace and happiness that you spoke of?
Rupurt Spira (00:25:37):
Yes. It, it, it,
Dr. Reese (00:25:39):
It needs, you must, you must vibrate at a higher level, just, you know, there's energy involved here.
Rupurt Spira (00:25:46):
It just means that the, the peace and the joy that are the nature of our being is available to us all the time. We don't expect our circumstances to provide peace and happiness for us. We realize that our peace and happiness is prior to an independent of our circumstances. Mm
Dr. Reese (00:26:12):
Well said, yeah. It's
Rupurt Spira (00:26:14):
What, it's what C Machi referred to. When, when he said, I don't mind what happens, what he was really saying was my, my piece and my wellbeing are not dependent on the content of my experience. They are prior to it and independent of it. And therefore he was at peace all the time.
Dr. Reese (00:26:38):
What if someone's going through a tough time though, illness, anxiety, insomnia, what if somebody's going through a tough time like that? What can they do to relieve themselves?
Rupurt Spira (00:26:54):
And these are three very different examples. You've given me illness, anxiety, and insomnia, and then they require three very different solutions. Yeah.
Dr. Reese (00:27:03):
Rupurt Spira (00:27:04):
Can we say, what about if one is suffering psychologically or emotionally mm-hmm
Dr. Reese (00:27:09):
Rupurt Spira (00:27:11):
So this is not, um, we're not talking about, um, having broken your arm, Right? That, that, that, that pain, physical pain is involved there. I make a distinction between physical pain and emotional or psychological suffering. So we're talking now about psychological suffering.
Rupurt Spira (00:27:36):
So for instance, a anxiety. So if we ask ourselves who is them, who is it? That is anxious, who is lonely, who is upset, who is jealous questions like this? These are all instances of psychological or emotional suffering. The answer to all these questions is I am I'm upset. I'm anxious. I'm lonely. Okay. Then let's explore this eye. Try to find this eye. Uh, your body is not, obviously not lonely. A body. Can't be lonely. Uh, a thought can't be lonely, an emotion. Can't be lone. It is you who is lonely. Okay. Let's look for this. You, when you go inside yourself, you, you find thoughts, images, feelings, memories, sensations, perceptions. Can you find the, you the I, the me on whose behalf these emotions arise. And if we keep on looking inside ourself, we eventually come to the fact of being aware or awareness itself. Well, awareness is like an open, empty space. It's like the space in your room. I can see your, your fan is, um, Rotating, uh, rapidly on the, um, on the ceiling above you. It is, are the blades of the fan hurting, upsetting, or disturbing the space of your room. Not at all. The nature of the space of your room remains the same. Whether the fan is turning or not. Well, awareness is like that at
Rupurt Spira (00:29:33):
It is not disturbed by the content of experience. It's like an open, empty allowing space, a aware space. So it's not awareness that is upset. So who is upset when you say I am upset, it's not the body. It's not a thought. It's not a perception. It's not awareness. Well, there isn't any other, I, the I, who is upset, lonely, afraid, anxious, guilty, et cetera, is a fictitious eye. An elusory eye who has existed in us as us all these years, simply because we have not seen its nature. Clearly. If we were to look in ourself and see clearly the nature of that, which we call, I, we would recognize this just the openness of awareness and that one is not upset. And that is why it is said that this path is, is the direct path to peace. It is the direct path to the end of suffering. It is really the, the, the end of the imaginary self who was suffering. And once that self has been, um, seen to be illusory, the suffering, which arose on its behalf can no longer stand.
Dr. Reese (00:31:04):
And if somebody is suffering from the three things I mentioned, could the practice of self inquiry help them if they were taught correctly?
Rupurt Spira (00:31:11):
Yes, yes. It could. It would help with that aspect of their circumstance, which was dependent upon their belief in being a temporary, finite, separate self. So the extent to which their insomnia or their illness, or their it's always suffering, but the extent to which they're insomnia or their illness was dependent on, and an expression of the belief in being a separate self, then this investigation would clear up at least a degree of their illness or their insomnia. However, it wouldn't necessarily cure them of their illness because part or all of their illness may not be the result of the belief in separation.
Dr. Reese (00:32:08):
Well, a physical illness like, uh, irritable bowel syndrome or something like that. That's physical that's
Rupurt Spira (00:32:16):
Yes. Remind mahachi died of cancer. I believe so. Did Naga Naga data, uh, the, this, these illnesses were not resumed by the result of an express or an expression of the sense of separation. Now, there, there are other illnesses that may be compounded at least partly by the belief that we are temporary finite separate selves, that that belief does have an impact on the body. And, and if it is chronic over many years, then it could turn into illness. But I want to be very careful here, right? I think we have to be, to make it very clear, or I would like to make it very clear that I'm not suggesting that all illness comes from the belief that we are temporary finite separate selves. It, it, doesn't,
Dr. Reese (00:33:15):
Anxiety's an interesting one because anxiety is pretty much somebody dwelling on the future, too much. Somebody worrying about something that hasn't happened.
Rupurt Spira (00:33:24):
So who would be that one? It's obviously not the body that is anxious. Although anxiety has an impact on the body, but it's not the body itself who is anxious now. So a thought cannot be anxious, although it can express the feeling of anxiety, but it's not the thought itself. That is anxious. And awareness is obviously not anxious awareness. As we said before, it's like an open, empty space. So who is the anxious self?
Dr. Reese (00:33:54):
Right? So if somebody is having anxiety and they know this practice, they can take a pause and say, who is anxious right now?
Rupurt Spira (00:34:08):
Dr. Reese (00:34:11):
And I am anxious right now.
Rupurt Spira (00:34:13):
I am anxious, but
Dr. Reese (00:34:14):
Who is I?
Rupurt Spira (00:34:16):
Two, two days ago, I was not anxious. I was in love. Let's say, well, if you can be in love one moment and anxious the next moment or the next day and tired the next day and hungry the next day and upset the next day, then tiredness, coldness, loneliness, upset cannot be essential to you. They visit you from time to time. If anxiety was who you really are, then you would always be anxious. Even when you were deeply asleep. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, but you're not you, your anxiety comes it lingers and a vanishes. You don't feel it for three days. It comes back again. You feel it for an afternoon and it vanishes. So anxiety's added to you. It is not who or what you are now. What is the eye when it has been divested of all these temporary feelings? When it, prior to the anxiety, to the fear, the shame, the guilt, the sor the loneliness, who is the I, the I am before it is qualified by experience.
Rupurt Spira (00:35:25):
It's like asking what, what is the essential nature? This is just an analogy. What's the essential nature of the movie after all the temporary images that, that, that, um, constitute the movie have been removed. If you take away all the images, what remains just the transparent screen. Well, that's the, I am is the transparent screen of awareness. That is not itself conditioned by any particular experience. It is pure naked. Self-aware being, and its nature is peace and joy. That's what, that's what the experience of peace and joy are. It's just the awareness of being before it is qualified by experience.
Dr. Reese (00:36:13):
So a, a new practitioner of self inquiry. Once they get back down to their eye, their real eye, their being this, their essential self as you call it, then what is just kind of a, oh, okay. And then move on and do it again. When it comes up.
Rupurt Spira (00:36:34):
Well, you, you, you say, you say then what, but who is asking then what does awareness ask then? What does your being say then? No, there's no. Then what? The one who asks then, then what is the one who feels, uh, discomfort with their present circumstance? I don't like what is happening? What, what next, when you are happy, you never ask for what? Next question, because you've got what you want. You don't want what's next, when you are happy you want this, right? So there is no, what next, when you are happy, when you are at peace,
Dr. Reese (00:37:21):
But a new practitioner, isn't gonna have that peace and happiness right away. It's gonna take some
Rupurt Spira (00:37:25):
Time. Of course, of course, through force of habits, the old, um, thoughts and feelings will return again. And so instead of following them, as we would normally do and start trying to, um, arguing with our partner or, or our colleague or our neighbor, or trying to change our circumstances in order to, to, uh, get rid of our anxiety, which we know perfectly well, doesn't, doesn't work instead of doing that, we, we remember, oh yes, go back to myself. Who, who is it? That is anxious. I am anxious. Who am I really is anxiety essential to me? No, under anxiety's like a, a t-shirt that I put on, on the Mor in the morning, I may wear it most of the day, but it's not me. I can take it off. In fact, I don't even need to take it off. I can be aware of my naked being underneath the anxiety.
Rupurt Spira (00:38:22):
And my naked being is inherently free of the anxiety. We don't need to, you don't need to touch the anxiety. You don't need to have to get rid of. You don't need to get rid of it or discipline it, or it will eventually it will leave by itself simply because you are no longer reinforcing it by believing I am anxious because this is going to happen to me. No, you, you, you, you, you, you understand and feel that your essential naked being is prior to an independent of experience. It is free. It is at peace. It doesn't need to be made such. It simply is such, it only need to be recognized as such and in time, the anxiety will just leave you because its foundation has been removed or rather hasn't been removed. It was never really there to begin with. But the belief
Dr. Reese (00:39:16):
It was all here and the head.
Rupurt Spira (00:39:18):
Yeah, exactly. The belief. I am a temporary finite self that is subjected to what's gonna happen in three weeks time that that separate self has been seen through. You have seen the true self, the only self, this open, empty Lumina, spacious awareness,
Dr. Reese (00:39:36):
Thoughts, typically create emotions, emotions create our mood, which affects our nervous system, which then may create a physical response. That's kind of the, the map of anxiety.
Rupurt Spira (00:39:50):
Yes. And it can go the other way, of course, as, as well, um, physical actions can, can create feelings. Feelings can create thoughts, but yes, all, all, all of these elements of our, um, experience interact with each other. Yes, yes.
Dr. Reese (00:40:04):
But when you absolutely know that you are not, you, you are being this, you are,
Rupurt Spira (00:40:12):
You know, that you are, you just, it's not that you, you know, that you are not, you, you, you, you are still you, but, but, but that you is the real, you definitely. In other words, that I don't want to suggest that there is nothing in our experience that corresponds to the name. I, I is the name we give to our unqualified being. In most cases, I is the name we give to our qualified being. Now we've recognized I is the name we give to our unqualified being. And this doesn't even mean that thoughts, cease, arising, thoughts continue to arise. There's just a certain category of thoughts that no longer continues to arise. And that is the thoughts that depended upon the belief. I am a temporary finite, separate self. Those thoughts see rising, but other thoughts like, um, you need to make dinner and you may need to make a list of, of, uh, a shopping list, or you need to prepare for an interview, or you are making a trip. You know, these are practical thoughts that they're, they're not thoughts that arise on behalf of a temporary finite separate self thoughts. Another example, for instance, thoughts such as the thoughts that you and I are now having thoughts whose purpose is to investigate truth or reality. These are thoughts that arise on behalf of our love of truth, not on behalf of a separate self. So these kind of thoughts continue,
Dr. Reese (00:41:49):
Speaking of awareness, it's interesting how we can place awareness on anything. Pretty much. We can place it on a tree. We can place it on our hand. We can place it on drinking tea. What, what you're saying is we're taking that awareness and we're kind of we're placing awareness on awareness, right?
Rupurt Spira (00:42:14):
Yes, yes. If I understand you correctly, we, we normally think that awareness is an attribute of a person or of a body. That that awareness is a, is a faculty that a body has or possesses or, or that a person possesses this person is aware, which suggests that awareness is a faculty that a person has, which, which in turn suggests that the person is primary and awareness is something they acquire use and lose. No, I would suggest that that's, that that's a mistake that it's not a person who is aware. It is awareness, who is aware, only awareness is aware the person, what we call the person, which is this, this bundle of thoughts, images, feeling, sensations, perceptions, activities, and relationships. These are things we are aware of. They are not themselves aware.
Dr. Reese (00:43:22):
Awareness can be very powerful. Uh, attention is another term, right? Pretty much the same thing for awareness attention,
Rupurt Spira (00:43:32):
Uh, attention we could say is the directing of awareness towards an object, be that object, a physical object, a glass of water, a subtle object, such as a thought, a sensation such as the tingling sensation at the souls of your feet. Uh, the sound of my voice, uh, all of these are more or less subtle objects and attention is the directing of awareness to, or towards those objects. In fact, the very word attention, um, indicates its meaning. It comes from the, the Latin app tender meaning app, meaning two or towards and tender meaning to stretch. So attention could be seen as the stretching of awareness towards an object of experience. Now self inquiry is the opposite process. It is the relaxation of attention, the subsidence or the back of attention into its source, the presence of awareness from which it arises
Dr. Reese (00:44:38):
In Daoism or ancient China. They used to say the, the, she follows the ye. She being the energy and ye being the attention. I've heard a lot of people who are experienced. Yes, yes. Like national travelers and stuff. That's their little method. They, they, they shoot their attention out to something. And then the energy follows and
Rupurt Spira (00:45:01):
E exactly. Now, now what if, if the place towards which your atten attention was directed was the place from which your attention arose
Dr. Reese (00:45:19):
Was the place where your attention arose.
Rupurt Spira (00:45:21):
So you, you, you talked about shooting your attention towards, uh, um, in, in the case of a traveler, a distant land mm-hmm <affirmative> and that you embark on that journey from where you are towards your destiny.
Dr. Reese (00:45:35):
Rupurt Spira (00:45:36):
And what I'm suggesting is what is your destiny is the place where you are,
Dr. Reese (00:45:42):
Rupurt Spira (00:45:44):
What, what journey would you make? What journey do you have to make from yourself to yourself?
Dr. Reese (00:45:53):
Yeah. Go inside.
Rupurt Spira (00:45:54):
There's no journey. You, you, if I were to ask you now, Kevin, stand up and take a step towards yourself. What would you do?
Dr. Reese (00:46:03):
I'd say Steph wire, <laugh>
Rupurt Spira (00:46:05):
You, you wouldn't do anything. You, you are already there, right?
Rupurt Spira (00:46:09):
So that would be a, a, a nice, a nice, um, analogy for, for self inquiry or self or self more accurately, self ABIs resting in your being, as you are being without going away from yourself towards something. Even if that's something is a thought that is still a movement of yourself toward it's a journey you take from yourself towards the thought true self abidance is resting in your awareness, resting in your own, being as your own being resting as yourself. So strictly speaking, it can't even be considered a method or a practice would always be a movement of yourself towards something. But, but to begin with, as a concession to one who has lost themselves in the content of their experience, in other words, they've taken a journey into a far off land, like the Al sun, that this is what the story of the protocol sun is about. That that they've, they they've gone to the furthest reaches of the kingdom. They've made this journey. Now they have to make the return journey. They have to come back to the palace. So that as a concession to the separate self, to, to, to one who is lost in the content of experience, it is legitimate, at least in the early stages to, to suggest this return journey, come back to yourself, remember yourself, uh, know your recognize yourself.
Dr. Reese (00:47:56):
So how long if somebody starts doing self inquiry, let's say they sit down in a chair. Like they were, you know, like a meditator would maybe how long would they do self inquire? Can, can you, I guess what I'm trying to say is, can you narrow it down to, okay, I'm gonna do self inquiry for 10 minutes every morning, or do you just go without, throughout your day and do it as a day unfold?
Rupurt Spira (00:48:22):
I, I would suggest that one <affirmative> one, uh, puts a aside some time each day, let let's, let's say morning and evening. If you have a busy working, working life that, that, before you embark on your days' activities and in the evening, when your days activities have finished, that you put by some time to just turn off your phone, close the door, um, close down your computer and, and, and, and close your eyes, sit on the, on the floor or a chair, or, and, and ask your yourself this question. Who, who, who am I really, what is the nature of my being, what is it that cannot be removed from me? What is it that is always present a question such as this, so that those would be, uh, formal periods of meditation or self inquiry. But I also suggest that numerous times during the day in between the gaps in our activities, and there are numerous such gaps that we spend, perhaps not 10 minutes, perhaps two minutes, or perhaps 10 seconds asking these, these questions you in between, you can have a busy day at work.
Rupurt Spira (00:49:39):
You may have 20 emails to, to respond to in between each email, pause, just five seconds, 10 seconds allow your attention to relax. Its focus from, from the content of experience, just allow your attention to come back, rest in being as being 10 seconds and then embark on the next, um, assignment. Uh, and to begin with, we feel that we, that we visit our being from time to time in between all our other activities, but, but very quickly, we were realized that our being actually remains present, not just in between our activities, but in the midst of our activities, in the background of all activities, so to speak. And in time we, we cease losing contact with our being during our activities. And then our whole day begins to be pervaded by the piece of our true nature. However, busy a day, we may have
Dr. Reese (00:50:50):
Can self inquiry be considered contemplation or vice versa.
Rupurt Spira (00:50:57):
Yes. Except it's a unique kind of contemplation where we are not contemplating the content of experience. We are contemplating the contemplator,
Dr. Reese (00:51:10):
But it's under the umbrella of contemplation
Rupurt Spira (00:51:12):
As long as it's correctly. Understood. Yes. It, there's no reason why it shouldn't be, it's a unique in a way it's the, the highest form of contemplation.
Dr. Reese (00:51:21):
Rupurt Spira (00:51:23):
But yes, it, it, it could be considered contemplation. Yes.
Dr. Reese (00:51:27):
How about self noting now I've seen this practice too
Rupurt Spira (00:51:31):
Self noting or noting,
Dr. Reese (00:51:33):
Rupurt Spira (00:51:34):
Dr. Reese (00:51:35):
Yeah. Like the, the, uh, I've seen this taught too, where you kind of dive into your thoughts, it's a form of witnessing, right? You watch your thoughts and let's say something, an image of a, a car accident comes up, fear, fear, you know, the next image might be, uh, you you're driving a Lamborghini, uh, desire, desire. What about something like that? Do you just note it and let it go?
Rupurt Spira (00:52:09):
Yes. So that, that, that practice, it, it may be a valuable practice, but it's not self-inquiry or SELFA as we discussed at the beginning, because in this case you are observing the content of your experience, your thoughts in this case, you're noting your thoughts or your feelings or sensations. I feel, uh, tightness in my throat or my belly, or I feel a tension in my shoulders, or I feel, uh, anxiety. When I think of a particular person, these are, we observing sensations, feelings, thoughts, and not meaning to imply that there's anything wrong with that, but it's not observing the observer. It's observing the observed. And it's very different in, in observing the observer attention is going back to its source in observing the content of experience. It is proceeding from its source and going towards the content of experience.
Dr. Reese (00:53:15):
Yeah. It's probably more in line with like a Vipasana type thing.
Rupurt Spira (00:53:20):
Dr. Reese (00:53:21):
Could that method be a good appetizer, so to speak for self inquiry? It,
Rupurt Spira (00:53:26):
It could indeed be a prelude. Yes, yes, yes. It
Dr. Reese (00:53:31):
Like if somebody did self noting slash F for say two weeks and then self inquiry after that for two weeks.
Rupurt Spira (00:53:44):
Yes. It, it's more likely that someone may have been brought up in a, or practiced in a VAPA tradition for some years and become very skilled at watching their thoughts, watching their breathing, watching their actions, watching their walking and, and, and that at some point they felt, uh, that, that the need to go deeper. And as a result of that, they would then realize that there's a, there's another direction in which the attention can go. Instead of always going towards our thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, the attention can, we can observe the observer. It can begin to sink back in the other directions. So that would be a for passion in this case would be a kind of preparation or a prelude for this, um, deeper form of meditation. Now, some people, as I said earlier, may come across it spontaneously someone who had practiced meditation for many years, for instance, may find that instead of sitting down for half an hour, repeating the, the meditation, you know, every like this, that they just sound the mantra once. And that's, it that's enough to steady the wandering energies of their mind, their mind comes to rest and it begins to subside spontaneously in its sort. So, so,
Dr. Reese (00:55:21):
So you feel mantras can be a nice addition to somebody's practice.
Rupurt Spira (00:55:28):
I think a prelude to somebody's practice of self inquiry
Dr. Reese (00:55:32):
Affirmations, which are basically
Rupurt Spira (00:55:34):
The same thing in the end, in the end, it would, if one and I, in fact, practiced mantra meditation for, for 20 years, because I didn't know about, about self inquiry. Uh, so it was a good rather lengthy preparation for me. It's not necessary nowadays to have such a lengthy preparation, but what, um, suggesting is that that one, one who practices a method like this may come spontaneously to, to self-inquiry, or they may need just the slightest hint from a friend, in which case it would be the next natural step for them to take likewise, uh, affirmations. Um, some of the great, uh, MAVA DTA, or I am Brockman these, uh, again, they are, they could be, uh, preludes preparations for the mind.
Dr. Reese (00:56:34):
I recently had one, uh, that was, uh, I had to look at my board that remember this, I am loved by God. And, uh, I was doing that. And, uh, I just started, I just started crying.
Rupurt Spira (00:56:50):
Yes, yes, no, that, that, that's a, that's a beautiful thought. I am loved by God. And, uh, a thought like that can have a very powerful effect on the mind and, um, can be a, a, again, a, a preparation for the subsidence of the one who is loved by God into God itself. So the, the recognition in the end is that there is, there is no eye separate from God either to be loved by God or not. However, as a compassionate concession to the separate self, the thought I am loved unconditionally for God is beautiful. It puts the separate self, the apparently separate self in the right place, in the, in relationship to God and prepares it for its eventual subsident in God.
Dr. Reese (00:57:52):
Hmm. Are there any mindfulness exercises that someone can do to really get themselves grounded in the present moment? Some people like look at their hand and do like certain things or Zen walking, stuff like that.
Rupurt Spira (00:58:12):
Yes. All, all the, the purposes of all such practices is to bring one's attention outta the past and the future into the present and such practices can be very helpful for that because obviously one's walking or one's breathing is taking place. Now it's not taking place two weeks ago or in two weeks time. So the mind that is following your walking or your breathing is by definition broad in out of the past and the future into the present. And that is a very good, it's a good stepping stone. The next step having been brought out of the past and future into the now the next step is for that mind then to dissolve into the heart of awareness. So these kind of mindfulness practices, again, especially in the early stages, can be very helpful preparations.
Dr. Reese (00:59:16):
It's funny how all these beautiful practices seem to all kind of lead up to self inquiry.
Rupurt Spira (00:59:24):
Yes, exactly. And all these practices have arisen over the centuries in response to people's difficulties, with sinking the mind into the heart of awareness or in religious language to surrendering one's self entirely to God's presence. So in response to people's difficulties, the teachings, the traditions elaborated various practices, okay. If it fits too hard for you to do that, just focus on your breath, just focus on your breath for 10 minutes. Then that immediately brings a degree of relief. The person is no longer worrying about their, their job, their family, their home, their money, their health, their, their, their, just their, their mind has come to rest on a neutral, transparent object. In this case, the breath mimics the transparency of awareness. And is there such a, a kind of preparation? So these, all these practices have evolved as compassionate concessions to the individuals who struggled with the, the, the, this direct subsidence of the mind in the heart of awareness and as such, they are entirely legitimate.
Dr. Reese (01:00:44):
Hmm. What about reprogramming of the subconscious? This is a big topic right now, out there. Uh, the work of like Dr. Joe Dispensa and Dr. Bruce Lipton, and these guys who, you know, are they're, they're not necessarily coming at it from an enlightenment self realization aspect. They're coming at it from a everyday. Joe has a subconscious, and it's like a program that's been developed. And, and now you can kind of reprogram it by using visualization and mental rehearsals. And I mean, what, what do you think about these practices? Cause they're getting very popular, hypnosis type stuff.
Rupurt Spira (01:01:33):
Yes. Well, they, they, they are undoubtedly, um, successful to an extent, but the, the, the ultimate program that is running in us is the belief that we are temporary finite separate selves. Now, if that belief is not uprooted through understanding, then however, we may reprogram the contents of our mind conscious or unconscious the, the, the primary program will still be running and will continue to generate conscious and so-called unconscious material. So I don't mean to imply that it's not a, a, a valid, um, practice or endeavor and that it may not have some beneficial results. I'm sure it does. But, uh, ultimately that, that the, the, the primary program on which the mind's activity is based must be clearly seen. And in time dissolved that, that this, that this, um, SELFA is, is in a way, the ultimate reprogramming of both the conscious and the unconscious contents of our minds.
Dr. Reese (01:03:02):
Before I ask my last question, uh, where can people come find you if they wanna learn more about Rupert Spira?
Rupurt Spira (01:03:11):
I think the first place Kevin would be to go to my YouTube channel. Um, there are, oh, an embarrassing number of YouTube clips. I'm afraid I've forgotten how many, but there must be three or 400 YouTube clips and that they can come there's, it's free. They can watch, you know, to their hearts contented to see if this approach, um, resonates with them. And then probably the next step would be to come to a webinar, you know, for, for, for a couple of dollars, you can, you can attend a, a, a webinar to our meeting. We have a guided meditation opportunity to have a conversation such as this and ask questions. And then of course there are, there are longer, uh, meetings, all on zoom at the moment weekend meditations, five day retreats, online, this sort of thing. And hopefully in the not too distant future live retreats in Europe and America.
Dr. Reese (01:04:05):
My last question is what is nonduality
Rupurt Spira (01:04:09):
Nonduality is the, is the understanding that really underlies all the great religious and spiritual traditions sometimes referred to as the, the perennial philosophy. And it, it consists if you were to distill the non-dual understanding into two statements, it would sound like this peace and joy are the nature of your being, and you share your being with everyone and everything.
Rupurt Spira (01:04:55):
Hmm that's that's 3000 years of non-dual philosophy. In a nutshell, that's basically what all the great religious and spiritual traditions are saying, what the first statement refers to our inner life, our, our, our longing for peace and happiness. And in response to that, longing, the nondual understanding says peace and happiness are the very nature of your being. That's where to find joy and peace. And then the second statement, it refers to our, um, external experience, our, our, our experience of, uh, others, people, animals, and, and the world. And it says simply that you share your being with everyone and everything. In other words, what, what, what we essentially are is the same being that everyone and everything essentially is. And this is the, the experience that we know as love or beauty. That's what the experiences of love and beauty are that the, the recognition that we share our being with everyone and everything, that's it. If you've understood that if one has really understood that happiness is the nature of one's being, and one's being is shared with everyone and everything, then one has really understood the entire non-dual tradition. All that remains is to lead a life to the best of our ability in a way that is consistent with this understanding, well said,
Dr. Reese (01:06:37):
Thank you for joining me
Rupurt Spira (01:06:38):
Today. Kevin, thank you for inviting me. It was a pleasure to spend, spend some time with you. I wish you the very best.
Dr. Reese (01:06:46):
Thanks for listening to inner peace with Dr. Reese. If this episode opened your heart, feel free to share on social media and tell your loved ones. Also be sure to subscribe. So you never miss an episode until next time may peace be with you.