When you make the two one,
And when you make the inside like the outside
And the outside like the inside,
Then will you enter the Kingdom.
– Jesus, Gospel of Thomas
The deed there is, but no doer thereof.
Nirvana there is, but no one seeking it.
A quiet revolution in spirituality is taking place. There is a growing sense that freedom cannot be found in philosophies, religions, ideologies; that it cannot be located in books, or reached through lifetimes of intense spiritual practice; that it cannot be passed on by enlightened or awakened spiritual masters; that it cannot be owned, cannot be taught, cannot be captured.
There is a growing sense that freedom is all there is, that it goes right to the heart of what you are, that it is constantly available and costs nothing. And that’s what this message, which I call Life Without A Centre, points to – the absolute freedom right at the heart of life. It’s a radical message, to be sure. And yet it’s as soft and gentle as a kiss from a loved one.
Life Without A Centre is about the possibility that the spiritual search, and indeed all the seeking of the mind, can come to an end once and for all. And in the absence of that search, there can be a clear seeing that all there is, is Oneness. And in the clarity of Oneness, life loses its heaviness, and what is is always enough. Some people have called this “spiritual awakening”; however, it’s not something complicated, and it’s not reserved for the lucky few. It’s an awakening as simple and obvious as the sound of the rain splish-splashing up on the roof. It’s a bit like having a dream, and getting lost in it, and then waking up, and opening your eyes, and looking around and realising that yes, of course, it was just a dream…
There is no condemnation of seeking here, or of any religion or belief system. Seeking is nothing more or less than a longing for Home, a desperation to remember who you really are beyond name and form, beyond thoughts, beyond concepts, beyond all beyonds. And the search plays itself out, as it must. This is not to condemn the seeking, but to point to the possibility that it can fall away, to reveal something far more explosive than the spiritual teachings of this world ever promised.
This is not a new set of beliefs, or a fresh collection of ideas for the mind to chew on. No, this communication uses words to go beyond words, to point to something that cannot really be spoken of. It is not a teaching, not a communication from individual to individual, but a sharing from Oneness to Oneness. A sharing that ends in a revelation which completely transcends the dream of “me-and-you”.
And on some level, no more words are really necessary: it is already complete. Oneness is already perfectly whole, arising presently as the chair, the floor, the table, the body, the eyes, the nose, the arms, the legs, the heart beating, the breathing. All of this is Oneness, and nothing is out of place. And yet, for the individual, perhaps this cannot yet be seen. For the individual, there may be more reading, more effort, more going to spiritual meetings, more meditating, and more trying to understand all of this. And that’s exactly as it must be. The teachings of nonduality will appear to be relevant as long as there is an individual there trying to grasp them. That is the only purpose of these words: to be there, in friendship and love, for that individual. To meet them exactly where they are.
But when that individual dissolves into clarity, when the search unravels, these pointers to the ineffable will fall away too, and there will only be the immediacy of what is, with nobody there to know it. There will be a robin singing in the tree, a car whooshing past on the road, a cup of tea in your hand, and it will all be the divine Mystery; you will never look for anything else ever again, and there will be a complete release from the burden of individuality. A perfectly ordinary life will be lived, but nobody will be living it. And, in joy and clarity, it will be seen that there has only ever been this freedom, and that all the seeking and suffering of a lifetime played out in absolute innocence.
It may help to speak briefly about my past – bearing in mind, of course, that what we call “the past” is just a memory, just a thought arising presently, and that my past is really no more special than your past, or anyone else’s for that matter.
In my mid-twenties, after a lifetime of shyness, anxiety and an intense dislike of the entity I called “myself”, I entered a period of deep depression and illness. Fuelled by the desire to escape the suffering of a lifetime, I then embarked on an intense spiritual search which lasted for several years, taking me on a journey through all the world’s religions and spiritual traditions. For all of my life I had been a committed atheist, but the suffering had finally become so intense that an escape into spirituality seemed to be the only option.
I became addicted to the idea of “spiritual awakening”, and shut myself off from the outside world, meditating and self-enquiring and constantly changing and questioning my belief systems, reading literally hundreds of spiritual books and sitting for hours at a time in my garden trying to be “present”, waiting for the moment when the separate self would disappear and suffering would be no more.
However, I never found what I was looking for, and my despair and frustration reached a critical point. And then, in the midst of that despair, something opened up. The mind, exhausted from a lifetime of trying to reach unreachable goals, collapsed, and a deep relaxation took place. And the secret was revealed right in the midst of what I’d taken to be “my life”. The spiritual search ended with the realisation that there was only Oneness, and life was already complete, and wasn’t separate from what I took myself to be. In that clear seeing, all seeking fell away, leaving only the clarity and simplicity of what is. It was a shocking to realise that the secret of spiritual awakening had been with me right from the beginning, but I just hadn’t been able to see it, because I’d been too busy looking for it, and in that, separating myself from it. But the separation had been an illusion, and in the falling away of that illusion the truth was revealed, as clearly as a punch to the stomach. And the truth was revealed in a chair, a flower, a tree, my hands, my feet, everything. The revelation of Oneness had been happening all around me, in each and every moment, but in my search for an identity I’d missed it completely.
But in hindsight, how perfectly it had all unfolded. A lifetime of seeking and suffering had been necessary in order to wake me up from the dream of seeking and suffering! And in fact, the seeking and suffering had always been pointing to another possibility: they had always been pointing back Home.
At first, I just met with people in pubs and on park benches and chatted about my experiences. Then a website appeared, and books got written, and meetings started to happen, first in London , and then in other parts of the UK and abroad. I never expected any of it. The whole thing seems to have a life of its own now, and who knows how it will evolve?
It’s clear that Oneness delights in expressing this message. And what a gift it is to be able to meet so many people from all over the world, and yet to see that there are no “separate people” at all, and that it’s all One. Really, I’m only ever meeting myself and every question that I’m asked is the same question: it’s the mind longing to come Home. What a perfect play it all is.
Well, now it’s time to come Home. Read these pages with an open mind, and an open heart, and it may dawn on you: it was never about the words. Beyond the words, something else is happening, and it’s too extraordinary to talk about. This isn’t really a teaching at all. It is a bonfire, in which all the questions of the mind unravel and burn up, leaving only the wonder of what is. Really, nothing can be said about this burning, because even the attempt to talk about the burning burns up in this. And yet, words continue to come, and life continues to unfold, and it’s quite clear that we are not in control of this astonishing dream world, and that we are constantly being embraced by Oneness, in each and every moment, from cradle to grave, and beyond.
May you meet your own absence, and explode into wonder.