Mighty Companions Hosts
In late October of 1995, we were asked if we would have an evening for this physician-turned-healer, who was an early wayshower for many. He was on tour with his new book, SECOND MIRACLE, which is an earthy call to humanity to embrace "consciousness without outcome…trusting we can change." He is intent on "reducing the fear of going into the mystery," where oneness is the reality and we're "disciples of life…learning how to learn…creating communities." Richard's realness is catching. We need this sort of epidemic!
Suzanne Taylor (S.T.), Founder of Mighty Companions
S.T.: As an introduction, I want to repeat a story Richard told at the Bodhi Tree Bookstore Wednesday night. He said that he was in a different consciousness when he first started this work, whereby he characterized his life then as monastic. He slept in a different bedroom from his [first] wife because he wanted to keep his energy "pure." He wrote this book, The Second Miracle, with his children playing around him. What changed?
RICHARD: I took two and a half years to write this book, as opposed to 90 days for The Black Butterfly. When you write a book over a length of time you get to see your thoughts reflected back at you from life. At some point I began to realize I was understanding the teaching that was living through me. Not Richard Moss's teaching, but the teaching I was a disciple of, which I express in my own unique way. I was perceiving it not so much as my creation, but as something I give in service to life -- something of an opportunity. This is the work I'm trying to do -- to give something back.
Since we know our lives are so darned short, I don't think there's any hurry. I think it's the exact opposite. Slow down. Take more time. Don't be in a rush at all. I think that feeling a simple openness is the healthiest thing. Urgency to fix our planet can produce disciples to fear, instead of the compassionate giving of oneself to play in the adventure of life. The minute that I start to see that I'm cutting myself off from resting, playing, spending time with my children, being with my wife, I say, "Whoops!" When my business overhead got too big, I said, "This isn't worth it. I'm working too hard and I'm not really celebrating." I could feel my body beginning to lose that current that's most always there. Slow down and live in the present moment.
I actually made it into Reader's Digest, in the quotable quotes. It's a statement that distills down all that I feel I've learned and all that I intend when I teach or share with people. And it's simply this: The greatest gift we give each other is the quality of our attention. I feel spiritual maturity is our capacity for intimacy. Not our capacity for altered states, not our capacity for clairvoyance, not our capacity for entering into or breaking through into other dimensions of consciousness, but our capacity to meet each other. I don't mean in "relationship" the way we traditionally use the word: that special thing we have with one person. But rather, the capacity to be in relationship to our feelings, to our bodies, to our thoughts, to the mystery -- that which is beyond thought -- whatever you want to call it: the Tao, God.
S.T.: If that capacity is fully developed, is that what you'd call enlightenment?
RICHARD: I define enlightenment very simply. It's not a question of whether you are in a state of unitive consciousness or satori, or subject collapses into object, or you've had a kundalini opening. Any of that may be part and parcel of a process, but as an epi-phenomenon of something else. If you want to find someone who's enlightened, look for a person who has a deep understanding of human nature. The paradox of it is that the ones who claim to be absolutely enlightened create some of the most psychologically crippling relationships, which to me is a sure sign that, while they may have experienced an extraordinary phenomenon, it hasn't deepened into real profound humility or acceptance of the human condition. I made myself miserable when I said that I was enlightened, enough to know that I'm not enlightened, or that enlightenment is a process -- an ongoing, forever process.
S.T.: How can we engage that process?
RICHARD: It's really important to be grounded in our bodies. You don't build spirituality and consciousness on good ideas -- you build it on a cellular sense of well-being in the body. It's pretty hard to have it without learning how to really be touched. I think most of the work is to get us to a place where it feels wonderful to be in a body.
For instance, very few people are doing zazen with other people. We sit and we do our meditation with our soft eyes looking down at the floor, or we face the wall with closed eyes. And then, the minute we're with a person, we forget virtually everything and we put back on our psychical clothing: the need to be understood and to understand, the need to be safe, the need to be recognized. We're so quickly dressed, and very little energy moves between us. We do these exercises where we teach ourselves how to be available to the deeper energy, and we walk back home and we put back on the old clothes again. After twenty years of teaching people about energy, I find that most people then hide in that energy: "I know how to do it, and now I can give it to you, and you receive it from me." We have hundreds of thousands of years of people working with energy, so how come if we've experienced so much we've learned so little? Because we build another identity out of all of this. The ego can co-opt anything. We go into a place which shows us new dimensions of consciousness and we construct new identities right there -- we rest our heads once again. We've got great words for it -- shaman, healer, teacher -- we're always hiding. And I guess in reality in our world we need to do it. But what if you yourself didn't need to? What if you just didn't care what someone saw in you, because your relationship was already there, deeply imbedded in mystery between you and the infinite?
S.T.: How do we know when we're past fooling ourselves? Could you describe your own personal process?
RICHARD: First of all, I don't think there's any place where we can rest our heads. I think our ego at any point can start naming the game and begin thinking, "I've reached this," or, "I know this." At that moment, once again we become vulnerable to all the fears -- the fear of loss.
One day my own process was ignited in some way completely of its own intelligence. I hadn't chosen some of the teachers who powerfully influenced me nor had I chosen the opening that changed my consciousness, and yet I was acting as if these occurrences were precious. "I" became important in it. Until one day I had the simplest insight: I simply stopped dividing myself from what was in front of me, in the moment. I can't tell you what my process is, so maybe it runs itself. I do know that there's still unconsciousness in me, and in everyone -- I don't believe there's anyone who ever lived who was fully conscious. Now, I may meet teachers and I'm open to anyone and everyone, in any given moment, but I'm not looking for anything. I wouldn't have the slightest idea what to be looking for. If something presents itself, then I hope that I'd be available and that I'd listen. How to relate to you, or be a good parent, or live in a marriage -- call that the last workshop.
S.T.: Who gives that workshop?
RICHARD: Just like we are discovering the secrets of the atom and of the gene, we are discovering the secrets of the self. And to discover the secrets of the self, we need each other. We need the mirror that each of us is for that. We need to do this work with one another where we don't presume I'm better than you or you're worse than me -- I'm the healer, you're the healee. In fact, we're healer and healee to each other. Just change the context and then the person who is in need becomes the source who helps someone else. You might be a great healer, but if you're lost in New York, go find a taxi driver. And while that's a simple image, we're so busy making some people special and making ourselves not, and that's not the healthiest way for us to come together. The more we romanticize the mystery, the more we cloak it in metaphysical stuff, the further and further we get from really vulnerably living what we need to learn to live with each other. As a healer myself, I was teaching people about energy and reaching states of consciousness where I would hug someone and they would pass out on the spot. Or my handprints would be left on their body after doing a laying on of hands. I finally realized that that doesn't mean anything. No one can go home and live it. And it didn't help me in my marriage. And it certainly didn't help me with my kids. So don't throw that away -- it's neat. Great. But don't cower behind the cloak of the mystic, and don't put on the safe identity of the healer.
S.T.: Do you think of anyone as a spiritual hero?
RICHARD: For some people Mother Teresa is a spiritual hero. But on what basis? I think it's harder to live with a spouse than it is to take care of the sick of the world. We're seducing ourselves into thinking that certain types of archetypically good behaviors are really what people should be living. Maybe we have to say, "She is truly authentic to her own nature." And there's no way on earth for you to know that. The only person that needs to be concerned with that is Mother Teresa. What is a life well lived? Who's a spiritual hero? Who are we going to look to? These are really deep questions. I know of a woman who had 16 pregnancies and raised 13 kids. I met four of her children -- each one of them is an extraordinary human being. And I thought to myself, "No one is ever going to sing your story. You're not going to be up there on a throne enrobed with your rich female insights." And yet I don't know that what she did isn't as great as anything that's been done by any spiritual master. A family of healthy human beings -- that's a pretty extraordinary thing.
S.T.: What does make for the heroic life?
RICHARD: We have to be alert. The thing that I was trying to say in this book was that firstly, nature -- or God -- had to give us some awareness and an ego so that we could be conscious of this moment, but that the consequence of that consciousness is separation. We then begin to use that consciousness in ways that are either destructive or healthy. And what I feel is that we are here in this room because we're already obedient to something that is seeking to awaken in us, which is a new level of consciousness. We're not going to become happy because we gained new consciousness, but simply because we recognize that we're already servants of it. That's where the joy comes in, when we're doing the best we can with our lives. When we're so busy chasing after an experience, we're not really very happy.
S.T.: How can humanity get on the right track?
RICHARD: I'm quite an optimist, because what I've seen over and over again is that you take people from all different walks of life and all different levels of development and when you put them together you see the revelation of intelligence that is greater than any single intelligence. And they see it in each other and they become disciples of it. I think there's a lot of places where there's so much fear inside of us that we want to become special and we get seduced by metaphysical glamour. It's a stage we pass through and we see that it didn't really help us live any closer to our spouses or our friends and it didn't really make us more able to love or to receive love. Let's get undressed. Let's find out why we're so afraid. The ego is a disciple of fear. I think there is a responsibility not to be seduced by fear. Our responsibility is to keep our connection to ourselves, and to live from that connection.