The other day I interviewed Clara Llum about her spiritual journey and realizations, and today we will be sharing the next part of the discussion where she interviews me.
The topics discussed include, but are not limited to:
From this point on, Clara’s questions and comments will be in normal font while mine will be italicized.
It’s a joy to have this second conversation, this time around and about YOU :-)
OK, do you have any predilection for the questions, or I just “shoot”?
anything goes, so let’s go for it and see what unfolds
OK, I read your website “about” section… and there you already answer some possible questions. But anyway, your readers may enjoy to explore a bit more about Ariel “the person” and his thoughts. I know this is very conventional question, but there it goes… Let’s talk about your background.
Describe if you will the course of your spiritual research and the present stage that your are going through.
Sure. My parents at first wanted to raise us Jewish and so we went to Sunday school for a few years at most when we were young, but quickly left that. Just wasn’t for me. Tried doing the church thing, but that didn’t work for us either.
So you were once Jewish and also later Christian?
Oh, synagogue rather. Never Christian.
After seeing my mom meditating now and then, I was asking her what she was doing, which naturally got us into a discussion about God, spirituality, and so on. I was very curious, and also pretty adamant about “How do you know FOR SURE that God exists and that what you’ve been told is true” and so on.
You mentioned you moved away from being Jewish, with someone else… Who is “us”?
my brother and I
I see. He’s younger?
yeah, about 2 years younger or so
Did your parents remain Jewish?
Not really. My dad was never into religion at all. In fact, he’s been having the same dream his whole life about being stuck in some sort of prison with really high brick walls where he was tortured for his religious beliefs. He was born shortly after WW2 and has had lung problems his whole life… so it almost seems like memories and effects from his past life. In any event, he’s not too keen on being religious this time around.
My mom’s father’s wanted us to be raised Jewish and so she made a little more of a go at it, but when she saw it wasn’t for us, she let that slowly fade away.
And your mother, she meditated… how?
She meditated basically by just sitting still and being quiet from what I understand.
Very nice of her.
Yeah, so I’ve been quite fortunate in that my both parents have been very open and supportive in allowing me to do my own searching without having lots of doctrine imposed upon me.
Is your mother’s meditation practice related to your development and path?
In a sense. Her practices ignited our conversations which lead to me starting to read books by various spiritual authors on religion-less spirituality.
This takes us to the following series of questions… The Teachings.
Some of the first authors would include people like Stuart Wilde, who explored Taoism and ego transcendence, and Neale Donald Walsch, whose conversations opened up a whole world of God beyond religion.
I have one question in regards of that…
What’s your take on institutional religions? How they are connected with the need for answers and to a spiritual journey that is so in demand these days?
They can be a great start, so long as it is recognized that they themselves are not the answer, nor what is actually important, but merely to be used as pointers to point beyond themselves.
When old and dead doctrine supersedes living truth, the greater gift is missed.
Do you discard that people can get enlightened or something alike by following traditional religious paths? Is that occlusion a defect of the religion or of the priests?
There are a whole variety of reasons of why religion has lost its purity and deeper meaning. Even putting aside any deliberate changes that were made for one reason or another, no matter how hard we try or how good a job we do, it’s simply not possible to put into words that which is beyond words, to describe the indescribable. And so there is an inherent loss of fullness when we try to box the infinite into a finite set of words and writings.
I understand that idea, but this would apply to all of us teaching using words…
It most certainly would.
I wonder if religions are still alive somehow. If they still carry enlightening power…
Religion may certainly lead to awakening, as may eating a bowl of soup, and if that path resonates with someone, by all means explore it. Yet it can be helpful to recognize that there are many misunderstandings and deviations from the original Truth (some religions more than others…) and so it would be wise to understand that one must eventually let go of ALL understandings in order to find Truth.
I agree with that. Some religions seem more alive and functioning than other ones. It’s like they keep old codes of symbols that few people know how to use or to interpret anymore… would you agree?
Too much emphasis on the rites, words, but little understanding maybe. Have you explored from inside some other religions? Hindu? Buddhist?
Only superficially. I really enjoy connecting to my own inner guru, and from this place of connection, looking back and seeing the beautiful truths within many religions, and the way that the teachings have been misunderstood and misinterpreted over time.
I understand what you’re saying very well. When some degree of awakening happens, then the many scriptures appear more clear in meaning…
It’s really amazing to see this happen.
But before of that, the language seems cryptic, very obscure.
lol yes, Zen koans especially
And I think that is one big problem for religions: they don’t communicate to the common person because of that archaic language.
There seems to be some sort of belief that God is old school and would only appear using words like “Thou and thine.” God can’t be alive here and now, speaking like modern normal people. Somehow “Thou shalt not kill” is more God-like than “Don’t whack people upside the head.”
Yes, it’s a relief, and a revolution: mysticism is becoming mainstream.
About this, I have some questions…
What do you think of the last decade’s explosion of nondual teachings being offered and the profusion of teachers?
Quite beautiful to see changes coming about, and a sort of integration and blending happening between the east and the west. Recognizing that it’s all one, why not?
You have a point. We are the latest generation of now 200 years of the West studying the East, starting with Emerson and others.
The blend has been happening for a long time now, but do you think people are really becoming awakened in mass?
I see the same blending happening in so many ways. Science and religion, the mind and the heart, the east and the west, black people and white people, etc.
EVERYWHERE I LOOK people are awakening!
Yes, I agree, it’s a time of many convergences.
There’s so many people that are having some sort of glimpse of something more than the limited self. They may or may not necessarily know what it is, but there’s a recognition of something deeper. It’s like this inner being bubbling back up and ready to resurface into consciousness.
Maybe it’s true this is the Age of Aquarius! :-) It may be so!
That nonduality, “God is all”, is becoming a mainstream concept, is something amazing.
It really is.
I also have faith that this is “something,” that we are seeing changes that will improve our life together.
Even things like the proliferation of self-improvement books and the prominence of the Law of Attraction are offering something more. They’re a step in a positive direction. Even if people don’t agree with some of this stuff, the fact that it’s even arising within their consciousness is already quite cool.
Yes, I agree, even if there’s many cheaters doing business.
Certainly, but that seems to happen in almost every arena.
In regards to nondual teachings… There’s been a criticism also from teachers of Vedanta trained under traditional gurus in India about the little efficacy of what they call neo-Advaita. What’s your position?
Live YOUR Truth and don’t cling too tightly to what others have taught. If what others have taught is indeed the Truth, your own discoveries will point you right back to what the more traditional teachers have taught. Nothing in this world is static. Demanding that anything in Maya remain constant is a problem waiting to happen.
Yes, what I bring is their concern about the lack of efficacy of the so called neo-Advaita movement.
Because they suggest some methodology and many neo-nondualist teachers refuse any method.
Ah, so there’s a problem with other people not doing it right?
Yes, they argue that neo-advaitins contribute with much confusion… I mention this because I have a friend who is very prominent in that debate. Anyways, we can say what we said before: what works for someone, works for them. Even the confusing teachers point to clarity.
And this without even mentioning the Buddhist skepticism… meaning the lack of support from most Buddhist schools toward this movement. Are you aware of this controversy?
You do very well! Let’s talk of something related to tradition…
Lineages. What’s the role of “confirmation” of enlightenment? Have you received such kind of sanction from another teacher? Is that important? How?
I’ve been wondering about that lately.
I just mention this because it is something that some neo-advaitist teachers seem to have adopted. Well, most of them claim some kind of lineage. It’s like a love/hate relationship with tradition.
Meaning: “I want to play outside of traditions, but I claim my authority from it”.
It’s very common.
kinda sounds like a child’s pseudo-dependency upon a parent
Even some big names are affected with this. What’s your take on the whole thing? -i.e. confirmation?
It can be very helpful to have a teacher available to point you beyond where you are now, but what is confirmation necessary for?
People use confirmation to start teaching others. To justify it.
Truth stands on its own. It needs no justification beyond itself.
I agree. That’s a courageous stand.
So long as the teacher is within their integrity, open and honest about who they are and where they are along their spiritual journey, it’s okay if you’re enlightened or not. It can be dangerous to teach something that you haven’t yet fully realized, and so it’s important to not try to pretend to be something you’re not.
I totally agree. So called non-enlightened people can teach very well too. It happens all the time.
Yet one of the great things about teaching is that if you’re full of shit, people will call you out on it and it will become clear. You can fake it to others for a little while, but you can’t fake Truth to itself.
Buddha said teaching is the greatest form of giving.
It really is a blessing to be able to teach.
Sometimes people abuse large groups for years.
They do. Things happen. Is it really up to us to make sure other people do something or not do something based on whatever rules we make up though?
I agree, people are just following their path with the lights they have, and it’s just fine.
You are very much on top of your blog, website, and forum, providing a lot of content for your online visitors. How do you feel about that?
It’s simply a way for me to express the inner whatever-this-is that I am. It’s like my way to paint or sculpt. It’s my creative outlet. And what I find is that when you’re true to yourself, you automatically offer the greatest good to others as well. How wonderful!
So my own selfishness in wanting to be me turns out to being the most Selfish thing (with a capital S) I could possibly do.
I see you connect very well with many people, and I congratulate you on that. You are doing very good. I see your honesty and care.
Who would you like to meet if you could? – alive or gone.
hm… Whoever/whatever has a complete and total perspective of All That Is. That’d be pretty awesome. Probably not a human being, but still.
If I were to pick a person though, maybe Jesus and Buddha. Not so much to ask them questions, but to just feel the energy, presence, love, and light. I have connected to them in meditation, and their energy can be overwhelming, so it’s nice to gradually go beyond where I am now little by little.
That would be great. Do you have favorite authors or books that you go back to for inspiration? In the present stage, I mean.
Their conversations take spirituality and make it very practical and directly applicable to real-life. Same with David Deida.
What’s been the role of the body on your peak aha insights?
A place to ground and experience that which I know within. It seems like insights take on a whole new level of depth and understanding when they are applied rather than just realized. There is value in manifesting the truths you have come to know.
I see. That’s from the mind to the body direction. How about the opposite direction? Does your body enlighten you once in a while?
It helps show me where I have yet to open fully to Love. The body reflects my emotions which reflect my thoughts which reflect my beliefs which reflect many of my subconscious resistances to Love. It’s like a feedback mechanism allowing me to deepen my own exploration into myself.
You are big into sports. Has this provided you peak moments of bliss or ecstasy?
It allows me to experience Life’s expansive aliveness in a very new way, to unite the internal aspect of the spiritual game with the external aspect of actually living your life. It allows Creation to flow and manifest in a variety of new ways.
My last question, or so….related to the previous. Have you found that sex is a gate to experience oneness?
The energetic aspects of it more so than the physical. The limited physical act itself I have little interest in at this point, especially when it is primarily based in lust and disconnected from the heart. What I enjoy about it is how sex can be integrated with the deeper aspects of ourselves and used as a vehicle to experience oneness in yet another powerful way. Combined with the deeper energies, the physical becomes Divine.
I agree, the heart is of primordial importance. When energy, love, and awareness unite, great insights and bliss manifest.
And they are just the envelope that contains the message: we are all and beyond.
It’s lovely to talk with you, and also I recommend everyone to follow your blog posts, forum inputs, and tweets @arielbravy.
You are a refreshing hub to all things nondual.
Gracias, gratzie, merci, danke, cpacibo, and thank you.
People can feel your love and enthusiasm.
Also your innocence and playfulness, and this is very inviting.
You do a great job.
Just bein’ myself! God is my homeboy. He makes me look good.
A pleasure to meet you.
and you as well!
Greetings to the common friend through whom we connected, another nondual teacher and artist, Ashley Ruiz, Ash.
Ash! What an amazing beacon of love and light in living expression!
I hope to keep meeting you around. LOVE!!
Love and synchronicity make the world go around. I hope so too!