Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Self-Interview

I originally wanted to interview the Self for this month’s entry, but it didn’t say anything. It spoke to me, yet it was wordless.

As a poor man’s substitute, I decided to interview myself. It seems like a good change-of-pace. (First he writes his autobiography and then he interviews himself—what an egotistical maniac.) It’s a little longer than usual, so feel free to quit reading whenever you feel too bored or tired to go on.

Q: Have you ever interviewed yourself before?
A: Last time was when I was in college, I did a self-interview for the school paper, which appeared as a ‘guest-editorial’ and was titled ‘Turtle Soup.’ Eudora Welty was the writer-in-residence at the time, and she told me it was one of the best things she’d ever read by a college student. She was very inspiring and encouraging to me.

Q: Is it true that you blasted the tradition of fraternities and sororities in that college interview?
A: Nah, it was organized independents that bothered me.

Q: So why do another self-interview now?
A: Why not? What else is there to write? Do you have any idea how much stuff is already in this blog, not to mention the lessons of the Course of Training that people get through email? It’s challenging to come up with enough variety to make it fun for myself, and if it isn’t fun for me, it definitely won’t be fun for anyone else.

Q: Then on with the show. Could you say that you have your own path?
A: Perhaps the pathless path. Not really though. I have no desire to be identified with any particular path. If I have a path, it is the path of all-inclusiveness. No one is excluded; no one is ever left out. There are no outcasts on my path. Sometimes we are our own outcast, and think we are left out when no one is leaving us out, but that’s an ego thing. Ultimately all are embraced. There is no ‘them.’ There is only ‘us.” If I were to create a path, I’d simply want everyone to see the highest and the best in everyone, and to stop thinking anything is ever going wrong. Yet a person has to do a lot of work on himself to actually be able to do this. One might think he can do it simply by deciding to, but he’ll quickly discover that this isn’t the case.

Q: Has anything surprised you since you started writing the new course?
A: Oh, many things actually. One thing that surprised me was that many people I thought would be excited about the new course had no interest in it whatsoever, while many that I presumed would have no interest whatsoever are participating with great enthusiasm. This reminded me to never assume anything regarding another or to think you really know someone. Of course, there are also those whom there was no doubt whatsoever about, people who will remain in my life and dear to me as long as I am in this body, and beyond. Kay and I refer to them as 'course people.'

Perhaps what has surprised me most has been the power of the lessons themselves. They seem much clearer and more powerful than anything I have written before, and I feel this intense power (Shakti) flowing through me as I write. By time I actually complete a lesson, my mind is totally blown all over again.

Q: Let’s examine your writings on the Internet and in your course. What’s the point? Why do it? What’s behind it? And what keeps you going?
A: There is no point to it; it just is what it is. Why do it?—because writing has been the most joyful and fulfilling thing for me to do since I was a young teen. Most people don’t know I published my first short story at age 20. I originally thought I might write novels, but Truth became stranger than fiction.

What’s behind it?—the divinity inherent in the universe—the ‘Force’ is with me (as It is with all of us once we open to its omnipresent beneficence.) What keeps me going? Probably feedback from people who mysteriously enjoy and benefit from what I write. How do people enjoy and benefit from it? Beats me—ask the ‘Force.’

Q: So you started your quest for Truth, and the practice of yoga and meditation, in the early 60’s when you were a young teen. How did that happen?
A: You got me. I remember walking out of the Southern Baptist church when I was 13 when the preacher said we’d all burn in hell for eternity if we did not accept someone who supposedly lived at some point as our personal savior. I felt extremely smothered, and had never felt so uncomfortable in my life. I couldn’t take it. I just got up and walked out, took a breath of fresh air, and never went back. I tried every church in Vicksburg, but obviously none of them quite did it for me. Of course this was Mississippi in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Hopefully things are presented more positively and joyfully now. There’s nothing worse than a gruesome religion.

I think I originally discovered yoga and meditation in some books I found at an old book store. I read ‘Autobiography of a Yogi.’ At 15 I discovered a delightful book by Robert Collier titled ‘The Secret of the Ages,’ and it impacted me more than anything else had at that point. I signed up for a few correspondence courses and ended up dropping them all except for one that made total sense and spoke to my heart. That’s when I first started feeling that I wanted to write a similar course someday.

Q: Objectively speaking, your writings have been well-received and consistently popular for many years. Any ideas on why that might be so?
A: It might be because I am honest and say what I feel and how I see things without sugarcoating anything or trying to live up to anyone’s idea of ‘PR’ or how things should be properly presented. I was never much of a proper person, and I tend to do things incorrectly.

I’ve been told by many that they feel they can trust me regarding spiritual matters, because they know that, if nothing else, I’m at least honest about what I say, whether anyone actually likes what comes out or not. I spent enough time around the Guru to no longer cater to another’s ego, and if they’re serious about sadhana they appreciate that and recognize its value.

Also I’ve been told that my writings are very clear. I have some kind of innate ability to communicate principles of Truth in ways that others actually experience what I’m saying. It happens beyond mere intellectual give and take. Yogis might think of it as a siddhi. But all this is simply feedback I get from others. To me I just write what feels good and what I enjoy reading as I write.

Q: Do you honestly feel true transformation is possible through simply reading words, as in the lessons of your course? Isn’t there some kind of inherent limitation in the written word?
A: Well of course there’s a limitation to written words, but who says the course is limited to written words? They are only the apparent outward form. Any path, any practice, has an outer form, and then, behind the scenes and between the words, there is Essence, there is Being, there is Presence, and this is quite palpable. No one has to take anyone’s word for anything. The written course is only the tip of the iceberg. Also, people gain a lot through our interactions, if they are open to putting themselves out there and not protecting the ego at any cost, especially in a public way. The sooner we realize there is nothing to hide, the freer we will be.

Q: You do have your detractors, though. I’ve read some stuff about you that borders on the obscene.
A: I can’t believe all the stuff I’ve heard and read about myself, or whoever used to be me, over the years. I can’t believe how many different people I am in the eyes of different people. My Guru once said, “I am as you see me,” and more and more I understand exactly what he meant by that.

Apparently you can’t be popular with some without simultaneously being attacked by others. I’ve been called everything from a sexual predator to a snake-oil salesman. I can see why people who are really famous have to totally give up caring whatever anyone else says or writes about them. It isn’t worth it trying to correct all the untruths, and you finally have to simply let them be. Thankfully none of it affects anything that truly counts.

Q: What about the girl?
A: Yes, the girl. I experienced an indiscretion of sorts 16 or so years ago that had unexpected consequences. Warren Zevon, on writing his classic, ‘Lawyers, Guns, and Money,’ said that before he wrote the song he had experienced a day of “improbable and grotesque mischief.” I thought that captured the story of my life quite nicely.

As far as ‘the girl,’ however, she contacted me a while back for the first time in many years to apologize for what she had written. Now she takes the course, reads this blog, is a friend on Facebook, and has an ongoing dialogue with Kay, so her story written all those years ago hasn’t much merit or substance anymore, if it ever did. I certainly wouldn’t recommend that anyone rush out to read it, and neither would she. It was just one person’s perspective of something that once happened, a karmic hiccup along the way. We all do strange things when we’re young. And look at me—I am stranger now than I was then.

Perhaps one day she’ll write her own comments here as she readjusts to the course community and reassumes her rightful place in it. Who knows? This world is strange and unpredictable. I always knew she’d be back when she came back to her heart. She still is who she always was, only, like all of us, more mature and a bit wiser regarding what life is truly all about.

Also, genuine remorse must be honored. If it isn’t, then what honor is in that? How can we live a life of respect and integrity if we refuse to forgive when sincere remorse appears? Forgiveness is the key to the experience of oneness and unity. As long as someone remains unforgiven, that’s a part of us that we are holding separate from God and making less than God. We cannot truly experience God until everyone is finally forgiven for everything (including ourselves). Forgiveness is a great sadhana all in itself.

Q: You recently wrote on your Facebook page, ‘In the process of dissipating the power of personal history, so to reclaim my true life in the present moment, I am tossing out all personal secrets.’ What did you mean by that?
A: Our personal history has a certain power to it. Not in itself, per se, but in our identification with it. If I am still identified with my life of 20 years ago, then I am limited to who and what I was then. If someone else sees and relates to me as I was 20 years ago, then they are limiting me to who and what I was then. If I try to hide any of it, and hope no one ever discovers something about my past, then I am bound by that and it becomes more heavy baggage to lug around. I want to travel lightly, so I do whatever is necessary to break free from the bondage of personal history. To be free from the bondage of personal secrets, reveal them in appropriate ways, and you will be free. This applies only to your own secrets, though. It is adharmic (against dharma) to reveal another’s secrets that you might be privy to.

Q: So you’re tying all the ‘loose ends’ of your past, and, as you sometimes say, bringing everything into a ‘coherent and harmonious whole?’
A: Really, what else is there to do at my age?

Q: Can we ask about Kanti, the mother of your 3 children? How is she?
A: Kanti is living in Manhattan and is doing absolutely great. She never ages, and pretty much looks the same as she always did. She’s like Richard Alpert in ‘Lost’ in that way. We have remained great friends and have mutually determined to maintain a happy family environment for our 3 wonderful children, who are all doing so well in their own lives. She is still offering astrology readings and is excellent at helping people to understand the nature of their karma and to get some perspective on the focus of their own personal sadhana. Kay and I get readings from her every few months to maintain some perspective on what’s happening in our own karmic play. If anyone wishes to contact Kanti for astrology, or for old time’s sake, contact her at nadinekennedy1@gmail.com. This also contains her Facebook name if you care to friend her there.

Q: The Internet seems to be a great place to contact people and groups that exist to promote spiritual evolution on the planet, yet there are also sites that basically post all the dirt that can be gathered regarding spiritual teachers and groups. You’ve made it clear before that you have a bit of disdain for such sites, comparing them to ‘ticks, mosquitoes, and skunks.’ Any further comments on that?
A: I can’t believe they think they are providing a service. I guess they think they’re helping people to not get duped by dubious teachers and groups, and there’s some merit to that, but the problem is that they’ve lumped all the good guys in with the bad, and no one can really tell which is which anymore. My Guru once told me that there are so many false teachers around that it makes it very difficult for anyone to recognize or appreciate the genuine article when it comes along.

Still, if you’re focused on digging up all the dirt and gossip you can gather about everyone, you end up throwing the baby out with the bath water. Even the greatest teachers end up with disgruntled former students whose egos couldn’t take the fire, or who couldn’t accept some aspect of the whole, and who are quick to publically turn against the very ones that most tried to help them.

More essentially, and relevant to all of us, my Teacher said that if more people like you and say good things about you, it won’t help you, and if more people dislike you and say bad things about you, it won’t hurt you. Like everything else he ever said, I have found this to be very true.

I have been the golden boy, loved and respected by so many I didn’t really have time for any of them, and I have been the rejected and frowned-upon outcast who led the whole world in mistakes. I was surprised to learn that it didn’t matter much either way. As far as my inner experience went, I remained the same under both extremes. This actually surprised me, but it was one of the greatest teachings I have had the grace to receive.

Q: Why bring up the past at all?
A: To help bring closure to anyone who’s ever been affected by reading (or writing) such things. To resolve and harmonize all that has come before now. Besides, you’re the one who brought up the past.

Q: So, getting back to the present, how would you currently describe your course, your writings in general, your philosophy, and what you have to offer others?
A: The lessons of the course offer people something to do with their minds instead of habitually following their usual mental routines. It gives a certain focus in an expansive direction. Simply reading and rereading the lessons expands the ways we think and see things. It causes the mind to work in different ways than it’s used to, as well as offering it new avenues to explore instead of repeating the same old parrot-like patterns without ever once recognizing what we’re doing or that our thoughts aren’t even our own.

The lessons are a means of opening up within and discovering and consistently experiencing who we truly are, instead of the dream we’ve had about ourselves ever since we were programmed as children. It’s a way of ‘waking up,’ as the scriptures put it. It’s not for everyone, but for many it’s the best way they’ve yet found.

My writings in general, including the course, the blog, and Facebook, present the Truth of the Present Moment as I have come to understand it after 50 years of seeking, studying, training, being whipped into shape by various teachers in various ways, having my ego obliterated over and again by the Guru until I couldn’t be anyone other than who I am, and the experience gained as a teacher, writer, speaker, answerer of innumerable questions, and leader of many classes, workshops, and retreats over the 30 years I functioned in such a role.

The past is a memory; the future is a projection; neither exists now except in our mind. What is the Truth of the existing moment? Is it the pain in my back and hips? Is it the confusion in the mind? Is it the continuous emotional ups and downs? Probably it’s not any of those, as they all come and go; relative truth is only temporary, or for this time only.

The Truth with a capital ‘T’ is the one Principle that never changes in a universe where everything else on every level of being constantly changes. The body changes, thoughts change, emotions change, the world around us changes, ‘others’ change, but the Truth of divine Awareness within never varies in the least. It is eternal, all-pervasive, and all-inclusive. Nothing exists outside it. It includes the entire cosmos of the waking world, the innumerable realms of the dream world, the vast world of deep sleep, and the Turiya state that simultaneously permeates the other three. It is the only Truth there ever is, ever has been, and ever will be. It is without beginning or end. It is an unmodified, undifferentiated, unconditioned, formless Awareness of Being.

Did you know that scientists are now discovering that perhaps there never was a ‘big bang’ that began the universe? Those on the ‘cutting edge’ are now discovering that, wonder of wonders, the universe had no beginning and has no end. Welcome to the Vedas, the Upanishads, and all the other scriptures that have existed for thousands of years saying the same thing.

As for my ‘philosophy,’ I’m not sure I really have one that could be put into words other than, in my own experience and observation, all of life, and all spiritual seeking, leads to eventually living in the Truth of the present moment. I don’t have any mental speculations. The mind is only the 16th of 36 Tattvas (levels of creation); what does it know? I wouldn’t put my trust in thoughts or concepts. The only thing concepts are good for are to be broken.

My philosophy is to be real, be sincere, be who you truly are, live according to your own heart and your own nature, feel good about yourself as God made you, even manifests as you, just as you are. Drop all pretension. Give up your fake veneer and your hypocrisy even when you think you’re being genuine. Stop playing your phony games that you’ve been playing so long you don’t even remember that they are phony games.

Give up the endless desires to impress anyone or to improve anyone. Please, please stop explaining yourself. There’s nothing worse than someone insisting on explaining something to you and thinking that you’ll understand something about them better after they complete their explanation. We all already get it. Get over yourself.

Rip off your mask of propriety and hurl it into the ethers. Forget everything you’ve ever been taught you should or shouldn’t do. Free yourself from the shackles of conformity. Stop worrying about being good enough for anyone else. You already are all there is. All you lack is this understanding.

Whatever you do, at least don’t feel guilty about it, because the guilt you feel is much worse than whatever you did to feel guilty about. In fact, the secret to truly enjoying a fulfilling life is simply to love every single thing you do during every single moment. Of course, you have to greatly value your own life in order to do this, but then that’s the point, isn’t it?

You are already divine; there’s nothing to become. Don’t do anything to seek the good opinion of others, to make others like you, or to attract others to you. Otherwise you will only lose yourself and fade into oblivion in the objective world of humanity, thinking you exist yet being only a floating reflection of how others see you. This greatly reduces you and in fact dissipates whatever Shakti, whatever inner power you might have gained, by caring how you are perceived by others. Love them, honor them for who and what they are, for whatever function or role they play in your life, and remain in harmony with whatever arises from one moment to the next.

No one needs to see you except yourself. Others need only to see their own Self. No one will ever understand you except yourself. Others have to understand their own Self. When we all do this, when we really get it that we’re the only One here, and that everyone around us is an individualized aspect of the same One, we’ll realize that deep within we share the same Self.

Spirituality is a matter of realization or recognition of the already existing Truth. Many have the delusion that it’s about becoming something or attaining something we don't already have. My Teacher said the Self is already attained. The only reason we do sadhana (spiritual practices) is to purify the mind and ego. Once they are clear and no longer prone to projection, delusion, and false identification, the Truth reveals itself within us naturally and spontaneously.

What have I to offer others? In myself, there is nothing. I love and honor all, but there is nothing I can offer anyone except to share what I have learned from the universe in the forms of all my teachers. If I can do or say anything to help anyone recognize their own inner Self, their own inner value, then I am immensely fulfilled. I am fulfilled anyway, yet there is a great dharma in helping others to recognize their own Truth and to enjoy their own freedom, and it is very gratifying.

On Facebook, I offer lighthearted friendship, a humorous perspective, some words of wisdom, and even some good music. On the blog, I offer all that anyone can or will accept. However, due to the nature of the way things work, one is limited in how much he or she can or will open up to accepting and receiving until there is some degree of commitment to the process of uncovering and dismissing all that is false, and some contribution to the source of the possibility of new knowledge and an expanded sense of being.

My friend Baba Rampuri, an American who was the first Westerner to ever be initiated in the glorious tradition of the ancient Naga Babas in India, and who now functions as a guru himself—and whom I hope Western yogis will come to know better, for he has much to offer us—recently wrote that people have this delusion that knowledge should be free, yet knowledge is the most expensive thing there is, and it has to be highly valued before it can actually be received and used in meaningful and transformational ways.

(I recommend Rampuri’s excellent book, “Autobiography of a Sadhu,” and you might also enjoy his website: rampuri.com. Obviously I like him a lot, as you know I don’t recommend people lightly. He has experienced over the past 40 years a life that most of us could hardly imagine. If I didn’t have my own peculiar karma, I’d probably be a Naga Baba. Or perhaps it’s just fond memories of another incarnation.)

In the lessons of the Course of Training via email, I offer all that the universe is willing to pour through me. Everyone starts out on the level of his or her own current understanding and perspective of things, and with each lesson, on the 1st and 15th of every month, we take another step in the process of breaking free from all that we’re not and opening up to all that we truly are.

In one of the lessons there is a quote from Ramana Maharshi, the great Indian saint and sage. Let’s end with his words for now, for to me they perfectly sum up everything:

"There is no greater mystery than this: Being Reality ourselves, we seek to gain Reality. We think that there is something hiding Reality and that it must be destroyed before the Truth is gained...A day will dawn when you will laugh at your past efforts. What you realize on the day you laugh is also here and now.”

For information about the Course of Training written by D. R. Butler and available by email, write: drbutler.course@gmail.com

For Spanish, write: drbutler.cursoesp@gmail.com