Timothy Conway writes in
Humanitys most ancient wisdom text is the Brihadâranyaka
Upanishad, the Great Forest Secret Teaching. This remarkable Sanskrit
oral scripture from nearly 3,000 years ago in northern India, the first of
hundreds of Upanishads and other wisdom texts, was the first scripture ever to
clearly reveal the great Divine Truth of nondual spirituality:
The Âtman (Absolute Self) alone is to be
meditated upon, for in It all are one
By It one knows all this
. Whoever knows
thus, I am Brahman/Reality becomes this all. Even the gods cannot prevent his
becoming thus, for he becomes their Self
. This Divine Self is a world for all
beingsgods, seers, ancestors, humans, livestock, and tinier creatures
. All the
vital breaths/energies, all worlds, all gods, and all beings spring from this
Âtman. Its inner meaning (upanishad) is the Real behind the real, or Truth of
When there is some other thing, then one can see the other, smell
perceive the other. [But in Self-realization]
one becomes the single ocean, the nondual Seer. This is the Brahman Reality
"This is the highest goal, the highest treasure,
the highest world, the greatest bliss
. A verse says: When all desires dwelling
in the heart are banished, then a mortal becomes immortal; he becomes Brahman
here (in this life).
Knowing that immortal Brahman, I am immortal. Those who
know the life behind breathing, the eye behind seeing, the ear behind hearing,
the mind behind thinking, have realized the ancient, primordial Brahman. With
the (intuitive) mind alone must one realize It. In It theres no diversity; one
goes from death to death seeing diversity in It. This un-showable, constant
Being can be realized as One only. The Self is taintless, beyond space, unborn,
vast, and immovable. Let a wise aspirant directly realize this insight, not just
reflect on tiresome words.
~ ~ ~
Read the entire article, Nondual Spirituality or Mystical Advaita, by Timothy
An Interview with Rupert Spira
Publication: The Transparency of Things
(Non-Duality Press, 2008)
Q. Could you give a short factual biography of your life up to the age
I come from a large, close family. Both my parents are kind and loving and
gave everything they could, in their very different ways, to their children. My
childhood was essentially happy and free.
My parents separated when I was six and we lived with my mother in
Hampshire. However, I also saw a lot of my father. My mother is eccentric,
artistic and has a deep interest in spiritual matters; my father more measured
and conventional. I learned a lot from both of them.
Q. At 16, you say you started to meditate. Was there something specific
an event perhaps that precipitated such a thing?
At the age of 15 I became disenchanted with the life towards which my
scientific education was preparing me. At the same time I saw an exhibition of
the work of Michael Cardew, which stirred my imagination beyond anything it had
previously encountered. I also started to read Rumi and Shankaracharya which
awakened the sense of a completely new possibility within me.
Q. You say you started to read Rumi, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky,
Krishnamurti, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj and Shankaracharya, amongst
Somehow, I had the deep intuition that was I was reading was true. Their
words resonated deeply within me and kindled an intense desire to know for
myself what they were speaking of.
Q. You say you wanted to make a career in science but felt it wasnt
the right way to go. Why was that? What was it about science that you felt
didnt appeal to you?
It wasnt so much a rejection of science as an attraction towards art. Art
seemed to engage my whole being, not just my intellect. I felt that art provided
the means to explore and then express the deepest realms of experience in a way
that science could not.
Q. You went to art school. Was there any particular discipline that
inspired you pottery and ceramics presumably and why?
I first saw Michael Cardews work and, later on, pieces from the early
ceramic traditions of China, Korea, Japan and Persia. At the time my response
was instinctive and inarticulate, just an unmistakable Yes from the depths of
These objects were like condensations of intelligence, love and beauty. I
would spend hours in museums looking at them. At times I would feel my body
dissolving in front of them. It was exactly the same experience that I had many
years later with my teacher in satsang.
Q. You spent a number of years at the Study Society, which was set up
by Dr Francis Roles, under the guidance of HH Shantanand Saraswati, the
Shankaracharya of the North. What philosophy/teaching did you learn there and
how was that helpful?
When I arrived at The Study Society the last remnants of Ouspenkys
teaching was being ushered out in favour of the Shankaracharyas Advaita
Vedanta, which was considered to have been the source of Ouspenskys
I immersed myself in the teaching and also learnt Gurdjieff s Movements
and the Mevlevi Turning - beautiful, contemplative movement practices. These
teachings were my home I lived in them and they lived in me.
Q. After leaving art school, you worked as an artist to make a living.
You say you believed that beauty was linked to spirituality and it was a way in
which you could bring that concept to life. It reminds me of Keats
Beauty is truth, truth beauty that is all
Ye know on earth, and
all ye need to know.
Could you expand on that?
Our apparently objective experience consists of thoughts, sensations and
perceptions that is, the mind, body and world.
When Awareness takes the shape of thinking, it seems to become a thought.
When it takes the shape of sensing, it seems to become a body and when it
takes the shape of perceiving, it seems to become an object, other or
When thinking comes to an end, the apparently objective part of it (the
thought part) disappears but its substance, Awareness, remains. In that timeless
moment (timeless because the mind is not present) Awareness tastes itself as it
is, unmediated through the apparent objectivity of thought. This experience is
known as Understanding.
When sensing comes to an end, the apparently objective part of it (the
sensation or body part) disappears but its substance, Awareness, remains,
knowing itself as Love or Happiness.
And when perceiving comes to an end, the object, other or world disappears
but their substance, Awareness, remains, knowing itself as it is, unveiled by
the appearance of objects. That is the experience known as Beauty.
In other words, Understanding, Love, Happiness and Beauty are all different
names for one and the same experience, the presence of Awareness, the knowing of
our own Being.
The paths through Understanding and Love (the paths of Jnana and Bhakti)
are well documented but the path through perceiving is less often mentioned. The
path of perceiving or the Way of Beauty is the way of the artist.
It is a path through which it becomes clear, and the means through which it
is expressed, that the substance of all perceptions is made out of
Although all seeming objects are made out of Awareness, it is not, at a
relative level, the function of all objects to reveal this. For instance, the
purpose of a kettle is to boil water, not to reveal the true nature of
However, there is one category of objects, which are made specifically with
the intention of revealing the true nature of experience and such an object is
what we call a work of art.
The function of a work of art is not simply to point towards, but actually
to reveal the true nature of experience. As Cezanne said, to give us a taste of
Like the words of the teaching, such objects come pregnant with their
origin, the silence and love from which they originate and, as such, are
So, Beauty is the experience through which we come to know and feel that
all seeming things are made out of that which knows them.
Keats was right. 'Beauty is truth, truth beauty.' The experience of Truth
and Beauty are one and the same experience.
'That is all ye know on earth.' The mind (which is the expression of Truth)
and the world (which is the expression of Beauty) are one. That is, the apparent
knower and the apparently known are one. Whether we recognize it or not,
this is always our experience. It is, as Keats says, all ye know on earth'
the knowing of our own Being in and as all seeming things.
and all ye need to know.' Yes, this knowledge alone, if deeply considered
and made ones own and subsequently applied to all circumstances, is all that is
required to lead a sane, happy and loving life.
Keats was rather more economical with his words than I am!
The great artists of the past, of whom Keats was one, were perhaps the
vehicles through which this knowledge was communicated most powerfully in our
culture but it is not their provenance alone.
This experiential knowledge of the true nature of experience is, in fact,
known by all but sometimes seemingly forgotten. However, it is never far from
the surface and even in popular culture - music, fashion etc. we see this same
longing for Love, Beauty and Happiness, all of which are simply variations of
our longing to return to the true nature of our most intimate being.
When this Love, Beauty and Happiness is seemingly veiled by the appearance
of the I entity, it cries out all the more loudly. All around us in our
culture we hear these love cries all desperately searching in the wrong place
for what lies at their heart.
Q. For myself, I attended the sister school of the Study Society,
called the School of Economic Science, where beauty was also exulted. Inasmuch
as I agree that beauty is a means by which the heart may be opened, I wonder if
it is at the exclusion of other parts of life that are very unbeautiful. On a
day-to-day level, the cult of physical perfection is effectively distorting
peoples attitudes to their own and other peoples bodies and causing a great
deal of suffering. As a woman, I feel forever judged by my physical
The cult of physical perfection is a pale reflection and a
misinterpretation of our innate knowing of Beauty. When we forget about the
presence of Awareness, Beauty is relegated to the status of an object, in just
the same way that when Awareness is seemingly forgotten, the self, other, object
and world seem to become real.
If Beauty is considered to be a property of objects then it will be
considered to be just the opposite of ugliness. Even in some expressions of
contemporary advaita this is sometimes misunderstood and in these expressions of
the teaching, Beauty is relegated to an objective experience that is considered
to be just one more appearance within Awareness.
But it is not. Beauty is another name for Awareness, the knowing of our own
And likewise when we love another, it is truly the Self in the other that
is loved. And it is the Self that loves. That is, the Self is the lover and the
beloved. In other words it is Love itself, with no other. That is what Love is
the absence of the apparent other. We all know that experience of dissolving in
Love. All that keeps us separate and apart is dissolved and that dissolution,
even in common parlance, is known as Love. Of course when the mind returns, it
appropriates the non-objective and timeless experience of Love and creates out
of it a lover and a beloved and then wonders why the experience of Love
itself has seemed to disappear!
So, Beauty and Love are one and the same experience. It is only in our
culture where this has been overlooked that they have been reduced to objects.
The cult of physical perfection you refer to springs from this misunderstanding
although there is still a flame of recognition of the true nature of Beauty and
Love that burns at its heart.
Shakespeare knew this well: 'All things seem but cannot Be. Beauty brags
but tis not She.'
All things seem to have an existence of their own, separate and independent
of Awareness, but do not. The Isness of an apparent object belongs to
'Beauty brags,' that is, the beauty (with a small b) that seems to belong
to the object 'brags,' pretends to be the real thing, draws attention to the
object, 'but tis not She,' that is, tis not She, the true love of our hearts,
objectless Beauty itself.
Q. During this period of your life, you say that you had a model of the
truth and then there was living a life (relationships, having a family, earning
an income, etc.). Effectively, there was a split between them. Can you
My models were the great sages of previous eras and foreign cultures such
as Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta and Rumi and for a while I mistook the cultural
expressions of their understanding for the truth itself.
I felt that I had to turn away from the world in order to access this
truth. This attitude is enshrined in some traditional teachings. For many of us,
the belief and feeling that it is I, the body/mind that knows the world, is
initially replaced by the experiential understanding that I is the witnessing
Awareness that is aware of the body/mind/world.
In order to see this clearly, it may be necessary to temporarily place the
body/mind/world at a seeming distance, as it were, in order to establish
experientially that we are the witness and not the witnessed. For many people,
and I was one, this position of the witness is an important step and establishes
the presence and the primacy of Awareness.
This position is enshrined in some monastic traditions where the world and
even the body are denied in order to focus on the presence of Awareness.
However, in this position there is still a subtle presumption of duality
between the perceiving I of Awareness and the perceived object, other or
world. This distinction is sometimes naturally dissolved over time or may
dissolve as a result of further exploration of experience. Either way, the
result is the utter saturation of the body/mind/world with Awareness (in fact,
it was always thus but is now known and felt to be so) in which the body, mind
and world are no longer believed and felt to be dangerous or threatening and can
again be fully embraced.
Q. Why did you leave The Study Society? You mention you felt like
something was missing.
Yes, there was still a distance. I couldnt completely make the teaching my
own, so to speak.
Q. And then you met Francis Lucille. How did he help you?
Something about our encounter made it clear that what I am is ever-present
and without limits or location. As a side effect of this discovery, the me
that was looking for help was found to be non-existent.
Q. Would you say that you are Self-realized/enlightened, for want of a
Both the answer, Yes, and the answer, No, would presume the presence of
one that may or may not be enlightened. In the absence of such a one, only the
Light that enlightens all seeming things remains. In fact, it does not remain
in time. It is realised to be the ever-present reality of all experience. It is
Q. What does it mean to be Self-realized/enlightened?
These words can be used with different meanings. The meanings with which I
use them are as follows:
To be enlightened means to know oneself as Awareness and to know that this
Awareness is ever-present and without limit or location.
To be Self-realized means to think, feel and act in line with that
Enlightenment is instantaneous although it may not be immediate.
Self-realization takes apparent time and involves the gradual dissolution of all
the olds habits of thinking, feeling, acting and relating on behalf of a
separate entity and, as a result, the realignment of the mind, body and world
with the experiential understanding of our self, Awareness, as the sole witness
and substance of all seeming things.
Q. Why arent I Self-realized/enlightened?
Because of that very question. With that question you presume yourself to
be an entity that is other than and separate from the light of Awareness. This
presumption is known as the person or the separate entity and seems to veil
the Love and Happiness that are inherent in Awareness knowing of its own
This apparent veiling of Happiness is synonymous with the search for
enlightenment or the feeling of being unenlightened. That search is what the
separate entity is, not what it does.
Once we have imagined ourselves to be such an entity, the search for
Happiness in the objects of the mind, the body and the world is inevitable. If
we believe and feel ourselves to be such an entity and believe at the same time
that we are not in search, we are simply deluding ourselves. We have simply
buried the subtle rejection of the now, which is another name for the search,
under a new belief in non-duality.
However, sooner or later this search comes to an end, in most cases, as a
result of suffering and enquiry. At this point, we may, as it were, turn round
and question the very one who is in search only to find it to be utterly
non-existent. In its place, where we are expecting to find the I of the
separate self, find only the I of Awareness.
It is inevitable that the search up until this point will seem to have been
undertaken by the separate entity we believe and feel ourselves to be. However,
even if we provisionally credit the apparently separate entity with this
activity, it does no more than this. In fact, in realty it doesnt even do this.
What can a non-existent entity do? However, we should be wary of buying the
there is nothing to do belief while the feeling of separation is still
Q. How is Self-realization/enlightenment attained?
In order to think that enlightenment can be attained we first have to
believe that it has been lost. Once enlightenment is believed to have been lost
we will, by definition, consider ourselves to be a separate entity on an
inevitable search for Happiness. This search revolves around the separate entity
we consider ourselves to be and who is felt to be unhappy. Therefore, in such a
case, the very best thing we can do is to turn towards this unhappy self that is
longing for Happiness. When we turn towards this I that we intimately know
ourselves to be, we do not find a separate entity. We find Awareness, Presence.
And what is it that finds Awareness? Awareness is the only one present there,
capable of being aware of Awareness.
Simultaneous with this Self-recognition comes the recognition that
Awareness is, in fact, always only knowing its own Self and at this point we can
truly say that there is never any ignorance.
However, until this recognition has taken place it would be more honest to
recognise that we feel ourselves to be a person on an inevitable search of
Happiness. As this apparent person we turn round, as it were, towards the source
of our being and, like a moth flying into the flame we, this imaginary entity,
seems to dissolve in it.
Only then do we realize that there was never an entity to begin with. Then
it is clear that there was no one who turned round towards the source of their
being. There was always only Presence, seemingly veiling itself with the belief
in separation and seemingly unveiling itself with the recognition of its true
nature, but never, in fact, for a moment knowing or being anything other than
its own Self.
~ ~ ~
Read Part II of the interview of Rupert Spira by Paula Marvelly: