Linda Clair – I am Enlightened
Interview by Renate McNay, Conscious TV
Transcript by Augie Monge
Renate: Hello and welcome to conscious.tv. My name is Renate McNay and my guest today is Linda Clair. Hello Linda.
Linda: Hello Renate.
Renate: Linda comes all the way from Australia, and we’re happy that you’re here with us. This is Linda’s book. It’s, What Do you Want? – Conversations about Enlightenment. And, Linda is also featured on this lovely DVD which is called, Meetings with Remarkable Women. I really enjoyed this book, by the way. One thing, Linda I took from your web site was this sentence which was very sweet – you said, “Getting enlightened was like a fairy tale come true.” We all want this fairy tale to come true. [both laugh] I want to start with talking a little bit about -how did this fairy tale come true for you? I know you had a happy childhood, and you had a happy life, so you weren’t looking for anything. You had children and a husband. Everything was working fine. Normally if we’re happy, we’re not looking for something.
Linda: Well, I wasn’t consciously looking for something. I think everyone is unconsciously looking for something, and some people are actively looking for something, but no, I wasn’t consciously looking for something. My partner at the time was very much into meditation, and enlightenment, and the spiritual quest. He’s the one who actually introduced me to my future teacher. We were on holidays one time, and he had been to see this teacher, and he wanted me to come and meet him, and do a meditation evening with him. I was very reluctant – I was saying, “No, we’re on holiday. I don’t want to go and see this teacher. It feels like work.” [laughs] But, eventually I said, “Yes, I’ll go and see him.” We went, and it was good. There must have been something there because I was interested in seeing him again, but it didn’t happen straight away. So, I met him a couple more times, and we became a bit closer. We went around to his place one night for dinner, and we went outside after dinner – it was dark – and, Peter – the teacher’s name was Peter Jones…
Renate: I tried to do a search for him, but I couldn’t find him.
Linda: He calls himself PeterJi now, so it’s very difficult. And, he’s not teaching at the moment. He’s quite sick, so he’s not teaching. But, I still remember that moment. There are a lot of things I forget now, but I do remember that moment. I just looked at him, and suddenly something clicked. It felt like I had never really looked at someone before – like really looked at them, even my children, my partner, my parents, everyone I’d been intimately connected with, I hadn’t actually felt such a closeness with everyone. The light went on. Something happened. And, like I said, I wasn’t actively looking for anything, but something happened.
Renate: But, okay, so you said you didn’t look like that before, but what were you seeing?
Linda: I was seeing myself. I was seeing my potential. I was seeing something that I’d never seen before. In everything else, I had seen myself, but it was my ego self, whereas this was something beyond the ego that I saw. So, I saw the potential to be without an ego, and I saw it in him. I just never realized that that existed.
Renate: But, did you know at that time there was something beyond the ego, or was it just something you felt? Did you have the concept already – okay, there is an ego, and there is a non-ego place?
Linda: I was aware of it in myself to a degree that there was an ego there, but I had done very, very little ready. I hadn’t really been interested in meditation or spiritual matters. There wasn’t this searching, so I didn’t really know all the theoretical story about the ego, the mind, and all that. It was just something I simply felt. Like I said, “The light went on,” and I was like, “Ah, that’s what I’m looking for,” even though I wasn’t consciously looking for something, it was like, “That’s it. That’s what I’m looking for.”
Renate: And what was it exactly you were looking for?
Linda: Well, I didn’t know. Eventually I realized that it was something that I couldn’t put my finger on. That’s what I saw in him. It was something that I didn’t know. That’s what I was looking for, because I was sick of trying to know everything, and trying to know what was going to happen. Thinking was just a repetition. So, I suppose, in a way, I was starting to get a little bit bored with my life, because it did feel like a repetition – this would happen, and I’d react a certain way, and I’d have a nice experience, but the experiences would always end. And, there were times when I really wanted to stop thinking, like doing things that I really enjoyed, having a massage, something like that, and I couldn’t lie there and really be there and enjoy what I was doing. When I was with my children, my partner, there was still this thinking going on. So, I was aware that I didn’t want it to be like that, but I had no idea that it was possible to be free of that. I thought, ‘Oh, that’s just part of life.’
Renate: And, what happened then, after this first experience?
Linda: Well, not long after that we invited Peter down because we were living quite a way away – it was a couple of hours by plane. We invited him down to do a weekend in the city that we were living in, in Adelaide, in South Australia, and he came down. And, I felt it even more strongly while he was there. As I said, I’d never really been a spiritual person, and I’d always been quite logical, so it was quite a surprise to me, but I felt this almost magnetic pull towards him. So, he stayed with us for about a week, and it just became stronger, and in that week we thought, ‘Ah, we need to move to be close to him.’ So, we moved up to Northern New South Wales, Northern Australia, where he lived, and moved about five minutes away. My partner and I both started going to meditation sessions with him. After about a year, I was doing a retreat with him and something happened. I’d call it an awakening.
Renate: When you started meditating, did it come easy for you?
Linda: Relatively. I didn’t feel it was easy, but it was more natural. It didn’t feel easy, but I felt at home doing it. So, in that way, I was a natural meditator. I did realize that I had been, in a way, meditating – not formally, but really watching my mind for a lot of my life. I thought that was just normal. I thought everyone did that.
Renate: Which kind of meditation did you do with Peter?
Linda: He was doing Vipassana meditation. He had done a lot of practice with Burmese Sayadaws. It was called Insight Meditation. It was basic Vipassana meditation, just sitting, feeling your body, sitting still for periods, sometimes long periods. That was basically it.
Renate: And, watching your thoughts?
Linda: Watching the thoughts, watching the breath. Really being very aware of the breath, and sitting as still as possible, and seeing the mind – coming back to the body. So, coming back to where you are. Rather than using the mind, it was more like using the body – becoming more and more grounded in the body.
Renate: Feeling the body from inside?
Linda: Yes. Really feeling the body. Being very aware of sensations. Not ignoring anything. Being very aware of sensations. Looking at the difference between pain and pleasure, and whether there was any difference, and why there was an avoidance of pain and this reaction to pain as, ‘Ah, that’s bad. It shouldn’t be there,’ and pleasure, ‘That’s good. I want more of it.’ So, it was trying to watch that from this neutral point of watching, non-reaction.
Renate: And, you had a lot of pain in your body.
Renate: How was that for you?
Linda: It was hard. It was terrible. [laughs]
Renate: And, you still were okay sitting in the pain, or did you have some tricks?
Linda: I had lots of tricks. [laughs] I found it difficult when I first started to even sit for even half an hour – it felt like a long time for me. And, I started off sitting on a chair, and then gradually went down and sat on the floor by the end. That took about six/eight months for me to really graduate down to the floor, because I’d never really sat on the floor much before. But, it was really difficult. A lot of people don’t talk about the pain that everyone who goes deeply into it feels in meditation. A lot of people have got the wrong idea about meditation, and what it involves, and what it is.
Renate: Are you talking about physical or emotional pain? Both of them?
Linda: Well, you feel both. There’s an emotional reaction to feeling that pain, because it’s facing the pain that you’ve been avoiding for most of your life. So, sitting there, keeping the body very still is an incredibly…
Linda: Yes… challenging thing to do. It’s much more challenging than moving around trying to relieve things. Sitting still for long periods is incredibly challenging. It’s like you’re challenging your mind, and your mind starts to react and says, ‘No, you’re not going to do this. You’re not going to sit through this.’ And, it does its best to stop you.
Renate: ‘Come here. I need you for this problem. It’s much more important to put your attention there.’ Yes.
Linda: But, when Peter explained this method, it just sounded incredibly logical and simple to me. I wasn’t attracted to rituals. I wasn’t attracted to religion. I’d never been religious. I’d never been attracted to spiritual groups – I thought I wasn’t really spiritual enough, compared to my partner. I thought he was the spiritual one, and I wasn’t.
Renate: Did it become easier, sitting?
Linda: No. [laughs]
Renate: So, you have a lot of determination.
Linda: You have to. It’s part of it. You have to be very…
Renate: There was a goal there.
Linda: Well, I thought there was a goal. The only reason I kept going was because of my teacher. And, as I kept going more deeply into it, my connection with my teacher became closer. That’s what spurred me on. And, my love for him became deeper, and that’s what spurred me on. Yes, there was a lot of determination needed and involved, but a lot of love that was involved as well. That’s what kept me going. And, it was often at times like he was holding up this carrot saying, “Come on. Just keep going a bit more, a bit more.” And, sometimes it was ecstatic, and other times it was just awful. It was really, really difficult at times. And, like I said, people just don’t talk about that, whereas he was very honest about it, about what was involved. And, he was very honest about how much it took, and how a lot of people could have an awakening, and I could see when that happened to me, it was very tempting to just stay there and go, “Okay, I don’t want to do any more,” but it was because of him that I knew that that wasn’t it, and I needed to keep going.
Renate: So, what I’m hearing from you is also the importance of having a teacher.
Linda: For me it was essential. And, I’d say for most people it’s essential. The habits of the mind are so deep-seated, so strong, so habitual that you actually need this body sitting in front of you who has realized that reality is possible, that freedom is possible. You need it in human form, well I did, in front of me to keep reminding me, and also to challenge my mind that this is possible.
Renate: Yeah, and we also need the pointers, you know – what can come up, what to do if something comes up. I know I read once in one of the Dalai Lama’s books, and he said, “There are hundreds of monks sitting in caves, all over Tibet and India.” He said, “If they do not get pointers – they can sit there for ten-twenty years – but if they do not get pointers they never break through the mind. They always stay underneath.”
Linda: I agree totally with that – you need someone. I could become deluded within a few days. I used to go and sit with my teacher two or three times a week, and then do retreats with him. I would go on a Tuesday night, a Thursday night, and sometimes on the weekend – and, between Tuesday night and Thursday night I could become deluded, and suddenly feel I was somewhere where I was not. So, the teacher was necessary in so many ways. Energetically, it really intensifies the energy. When I was sitting with him, I did feel more pain often.
Renate: What did you do with emotional pain when it came up – with belief structures, or delusions?
Linda: Watch them, came back to the body, watch. Of course, sometimes I’d get involved in the emotional stuff that was going on, and I cried quite a bit. I think you need to cry at times, but not feel too sorry for yourself. At times I felt incredibly sorry for myself, and then I’d come out of it, and it would be okay. [laughs] But, the emotional pain – there’s no easy way through it – just sitting with it, sitting still. After a while I started to crave doing retreats. So, I would almost live for retreats. In between retreats of course I’d meditate, but it felt like I was just waiting for the next retreat because I knew doing seven days, ten days of intensive sitting would really make a big dent in my ego.
Renate: So, how many hours did you sit in intensive retreats?
Linda: In intensive retreats, probably about seven or eight hours a day, which isn’t all that much…
Renate: It’s not? [both laugh]
Linda: In Japan, in some places they sit more…
Renate: They don’t even lie down at night. They even sit in a box…
Linda: In some retreats in Japan, they do…
Renate: Okay, so you had your first awakening in one of the retreats with Peter. What was the awakening? What did you realize?
Linda: I realized that I was not my mind. I realized it – it wasn’t just that I intellectually understood it. It was that I realized that I wasn’t my mind. To realize something, you can only do it through your body, through the body, through this body. That’s what I realized.
Renate: You take a lot of emphasis on being grounded in the body. You say that only through the body you realize we are not the body.
Linda: Yes. Meditation is really preparing the body for the shock of realization, which is realizing I’m not my body.
Renate: Right. And, what else is involved in this shock? What happens to the body in the moment of the realization or waking up?
Linda: Fear. It’s partly the realization that it’s nothing like anything you felt before. It’s the shock of living with no fear. So, suddenly all this fear – well not all the fear, because even at that point which you call enlightenment, all the fear doesn’t go – 99.9% of it goes – there’s still a bit later on, and that’s a whole different journey. But, the shock is that there’s suddenly no fear there. So, the whole body…
Renate: is free…
Linda: …is free. Not the whole body, but most of the body, and that’s a huge shock. And, it’s also because, I think in everyone, before realization there is a part of you that really doesn’t believe that it is possible for you. And, like I said, it was like a fairy tale coming true, and that’s a shock. It’s a huge shock.
Renate: A surprise, I guess.
Linda: Yes, and the shock was that it was felt so ordinary and so simple, whereas I felt it was going to be more special, more of something.
Renate: With fireworks, and…
Linda: And, it wasn’t like that. It was like something just clicked into place, and everything that I thought was real became unreal, and everything that seemed impossible was suddenly real. I said it was like this fairy tale coming true – it was almost tangible, like I could touch this reality.
Renate: Yes, so you saw reality in this moment in a different way, when you say everything you thought…
Linda: Well, I had no idea before that what reality was, and you can’t because it’s not an experience – it’s not something that you go in and out of. Reality is something that you’re in, and that’s it. That’s what enlightenment is. So, you can’t go back. Maybe that’s part of the shock too, that you can’t go back.
Renate: Well, some people seem to go in and out.
Linda: Well, I would say that’s not reality and that’s not enlightenment.
Renate: I guess that you would call it an awakening.
Linda: I’d call that an awakening…
Renate: And then they remember the awakening, and then they try to integrate into their life this awakening experience.
Renate: So, I guess, if I look at it, it’s the ego which is actually then doing the job without realizing it needs to die – this integration, what else would it be – how would it work? You know what I mean? Your awakening or enlightenment was an abiding enlightenment. It did not leave you.
Renate: You had before two different awakenings.
Linda: Two? Did I say…? [laughs]
Renate: Did you say…? [both laugh]
Linda: Actually, yes, well, I would have called it… And, I was talking with a friend yesterday about when I actually met Peter and the light went on, that was an awakening. So, around a year and a half later there was another, deeper awakening. I feel like when you have an awakening the best thing to do is forget about it – just forget about it and keep going, keep working. And, it’s the same with enlightenment, which is really realizing you’re not the body. What you need to do is – but, you can’t help doing that then is – just forget about it. Don’t try and remember it. Don’t try and repeat anything.
Renate: But, isn’t part of the remembering important to integrate it more into your daily
experience in life?
Linda: I can only speak from my experience. What happened during my practice is that I forgot more and more. My memory really changed. When it first started happening it was a bit disconcerting because I would just forget things. Then Peter said – and, I’ve read it with other teachers too, that that was part of the whole thing because thinking is just remembering. When the mind starts breaking down you just naturally stop remembering things, trying to remember. It doesn’t mean that you can’t function because the body has got its own memory, and it will do things that it needs to do. But really, we don’t need our memory nearly as much as we think we do. The big thing about enlightenment was that the desire to remember went. And, I realized that I don’t need my memory. The trust is that everything will happen without trying to remember things. So, after enlightenment, no I didn’t need to remember anything. Everything just started happening without me involved.
Renate: So that ‘the me’ was gone.
Linda: Almost gone. There was still a bit there.
Renate: You said, which I like, “I was free of myself.”
Linda: Yes. I was free, but then I became free-er. I know some people say there are no degrees of enlightenment, but I would disagree – there are – in my experience. I’m in a very different state now to the state I was in ten years ago.
Renate: How can you become free-er?
Linda: After enlightenment it happens naturally. But, one of the main things I feel is – humility. And, that’s another reason for a teacher – humility.[long pause]
Renate: I realized we were jumping away from your fairy tale story, [both laugh] because I know you went to Japan then, and you meditated…
Linda: I spent around six years with Peter, and then he wasn’t teaching quite as much then, and I wanted to do – I felt like I needed to do some more intensive retreats. So, I started doing some Zen retreats with a master who lived in the area. I still had contact with Peter. I really enjoyed the whole Zen practice. I felt like I needed a little bit more discipline. Then I found out that – he used to talk about his master who lived in Japan who he spent about ten years with at a monastery in Japan – he said that they took western students into this monastery. As soon as he said that I was like, “Ah, I’m going to go.” So, not long after that I went over and spent six weeks there. That’s really when it happened – when it really finished me off. [both laugh]
Renate: Yes… The human story ended then.
Linda: It did. It was the start of something else.
Renate: You had children at the same time. How was that for you to do all this meditation, taking care of children, and all the change or awakening? How did you deal with all that, with the simplicity of your life, of having a family and having to go shopping, and so forth, cooking, and what have you…?
Linda: It was a great thing. I started my practice with Peter when my son was thirteen, and my daughter was twelve. So, they were becoming a bit more independent by then. And, sure it was hard doing retreats and things, and organizing child care, and that sort of thing, and maybe going and doing a day’s intensive meditation, and then coming back, and having to help them with math homework, or something like that. But, I can see now, it was a great thing. Of course it was difficult, but bringing up children is difficult. It was a great thing because it grounded me. It really stopped me from getting too obsessive about the whole thing. It was like this anchor in the world. It was great. It just kept me really earthed – down to earth. It was really good.
Renate: So, would you say Linda that you’ve reached enlightenment through your dedication and meditation, and [that] everybody else can do that?
Linda: Well that’s just a small part. I would say I’m enlightened because of my teachers – that’s why – because of their compassion, their love. It’s because of them. It’s the only reason I kept going. [laughs] I wouldn’t have kept going without them. Of course yes, I’m determined and all that, but it was just…
Renate: I like the way you say, “I am enlightened.” My teacher said once, “This is such a rare occasion that somebody gets enlightened.” Well, he said that a few years ago, “Maybe in the moment on this planet are just a handful.” How do you feel about that? What is your experience with people you’re working with, or you’re meeting?
Linda: I haven’t met many. I’ve met a few, but not many. What I feel is, ‘Why shouldn’t it be possible for more people.’ But, it is rare, and it’s incredibly hard. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It just was so difficult. The most amazing thing – I mean it’s the most valuable thing you can do in your life.
Renate: What was the most difficult thing?
Linda: Everything. I can’t pinpoint one thing. It was different at different times. Sometimes it was sitting there in a retreat with this incredible pain in my head that was just blowing my head apart. And other times, it was just not being able to see my teacher when I wanted to see my teacher. Other times it was – it was different at different times, so I wouldn’t pinpoint. I know the time in Japan was incredibly difficult for me because I was out of my comfort zone. The practice there was just intense, really intense. It was so cold. I’d never been in such cold. Most people there got frostbite. I got frostbite being there. They don’t have heating. You sit in this…
Linda: I don’t think it was that cold, but it was snowing. We weren’t supposed to wear socks -not in the Zendo, not when we were meditating. So, it was a real shock, but it was the most amazing time as well. And, I needed it. I needed it at that time. Not everyone does, but I know I needed to do that. And, I needed to meet this master there, who’s incredible. But, I needed to also get away from my comfort zone – my partner, my children, my house, running hot water, everything. [laughs].
Renate: We don’t like to leave our comfort zone.
Linda: No, no. And, I was still into my comfort zone. So, it was a good thing for me to do at the time. And, by that time I was desperate. I would have done anything – I really would have.
Renate: So, you’re a meditation teacher now, and you do retreats and seminars. How do you bring your students out of their comfort zone? [both laugh]
Linda: Depends on the student. It’s different for each student.
Renate: Can you see where each student needs to be thrown out?
Renate: What intrigues me when you said, “I am free of myself,” and your relationship to your body – you said you experience your body in a different way. You also talked about how all your senses changed. Your vision changed after enlightenment, your hearing, your memory changed, you mentioned. So, what happened to your vision and your hearing? Why does that change?
Linda: Because you stop focusing on something. It becomes much less fixed. So, the vision actually widens – you’re very aware. When there’s not all this stuff going on in the head, and you’re not using the mind as a reference point, then you start to use the senses in a very different way. It’s more as a survival instinct which is what they’re meant for predominantly. I mean, it’s good to have pleasure , but you become more like an animal. So, the vision becomes much more… I’m very aware of things to the side as well as the front. Even when I’m looking at you, and mainly looking at you and looking into your eyes, I’m also very aware of the plant and things all the way around. So, it’s almost impossible to focus exclusively on something. With the hearing, it’s the same. If someone is sitting next… If I’m talking to someone and then there’s someone not very far away, and I can hear that conversation as well, it’s very hard to actually separate it – I just can’t separate anything. So, I’m very aware of all the sounds around as well.
Renate: Is it the same with the feelings? Do you feel the feelings of people around you, their pain, their emotions?
Linda: No, no.
Renate: So, I guess there is nothing in you anymore which can – you know, which is kind of a reflection – no, reflection is not the right word – where something from the outside can get stuck.
Linda: No, I can’t remember what it’s like to suffer. I can’t actually remember what that’s like.
Renate: And, do you still have feelings of being sad?
Linda: Sometimes, yes – a bit sad. They go through very quickly. It’s very different. People think, ‘Well, without your emotions you must be a robot.’ That’s not true at all. Without your emotions the selfishness goes because I can see now that emotions are just very selfish feelings, “It’s all about me.” That’s why I really started this whole journey, because I was sick of everything being about me – everything revolved around me. I couldn’t feel real compassion. I couldn’t really feel sorry for someone because it was always to do with how I felt about it. I wanted to feel real love. I wanted to feel compassion at times, but I just couldn’t do it because I was so obsessed with myself, incredibly obsessed. So, the opposite happens. Rather than becoming a robot, you become truly authentic, really authentic. The self-consciousness goes. The fear goes.
Renate: So, what is your reference? Is there still a reference point in you? How do you know, if there is no self? How do you know it’s you if somebody says, “Linda,” if there is no reference point anymore?
Linda: I don’t know. [laughs] Someone says, “Linda” – I go, “Yes?” [laughs] I don’t know.
Renate: So there might be still some memory.
Linda: There’s memory – there’s still memory in the brain. There’s just not emotional memories. So, when there’s no – well almost no – I can never say that there’s none at all, but when there are almost no emotional memories, you can… for example, I can meet someone who I’ve known for a long time and it can be like the first time we’ve met. Of course I know who they are – I recognize who they are – but, there’s not all this stuff going on around, “Ah, he said this to me last week ” – that sort of thing. It’s just fresh, and new, and open.
Renate: Isn’t that nice in a marriage? [laughs] You see your partner everyday fresh.
Linda: Well, I’m not married at the moment. [both laugh] But yes, it’s the same with… That’s how it feels. It’s like everything is new, is fresh.
Renate: Everything is created in this moment, fresh. And, this is actually your experience?
Renate: As I’m looking at you, I keep spacing out. [both laugh] So, I have to read my notes. I’m more, also very interested in this body – how the body becomes free, because there is so much… All our belief structures, and paranoias, and what have you is stored in our body, like every cell has a memory – an unpleasant or pleasant memory. It’s fascinating when you said, in the moment of your awakening it’s like the body became free, or was there a process of alignment?
Linda: There was definitely a process. What I feel is happening with meditation, and what was happening with me, and anyone who gets deeply into this, is that the cells of my body were purifying, being purified of the emotional memory. That’s what meditation is – seeing and cutting that thinking process. It’s not about stopping thinking, but just seeing, realizing what thinking is, understanding the mind, and realizing that thinking is just a movement away from now. It’s just this movement. We put a lot of importance on what we’re thinking. The subject of our thoughts is not really important at all – it’s that movement away – that’s just the bait, what we’re drawn towards. So, it’s breaking that habitual movement away from here, and coming in. Each time you do that, you’re purifying your body, maybe just a small degree. That accumulates. And, enlightenment is that point, that critical point where so many cells in your body have been purified that it tips you over the edge.
Renate: So, I guess, what the tip is, as more cells become free, the current, or the vibration, or the light, or however you call it, can pass more strongly through your system, or your nervous system?
Linda: Yes. I think it actually happened when I was in Japan, and I didn’t realize it. About nine months later, after I left Japan I did a retreat with my Zen teacher in Australia, a Japanese man. We were sitting there one morning, and he came around – he used to adjust people, adjust posture every now and again. He adjusted my posture – he hardly ever did that – and I suddenly let out this strange noise when he did it, and it was really embarrassing, and I felt really self-conscious about it. Something in me suddenly went, “You’ve done all this practice, everything, and you can still feel embarrassed and so incredibly self-conscious about something like this.” Rather than feeling sorry for myself, something else just clicked in. It was almost like a turbo-boost, like, “Okay, this is it. I’m not going to put up with this anymore.” So, from that moment on, during that retreat, I decided to sit through all the bells. So, rather than getting up and doing the walking meditation, I would just sit there. I’d sit in the mornings about three hours. I’d hear the bell and my body would start vibrating and there was this incredible fear. It was like… My heart was beating – I was sure someone could hear it, and I felt this incredible fear. This went on for a few days, off and on, until it gradually started to subside. It was like the fear, the final bit of fear just coming out of my body.
Renate: Was it fear about something, or was it just fear…?
Linda: It was just fear. It felt like pure fear, pure fear.
Renate: You mentioned in the beginning of our interview – fear, but there’s a whole other level of fear.
Linda: After enlightenment?
Renate: Yes. Do you want to say something about it?
Linda: So much has happened since then. When it first happens… I would definitely describe it as enlightenment. There was no question about it. There were no more questions. And, the way I expressed it was quite final like, “This is it. This is enlightenment.” Then after a while, I realized there was still a degree of fear there. There was still a bit of fear. But, when it first happens to you, the contrast between how it was and how it feels now, is so great that it does feel like the total opposite. But, after a while, like I said, I realized that there was still a bit of fear there. You have to admit that to yourself, and it’s very difficult when you’re teaching to actually admit to yourself, “Okay, there is still a bit of fear there.” But, that just naturally starts to go, to dissolve those bits of fear. But, you still need to respect your teacher, to feel deep gratitude to your teacher, and to be very open to the fact that there’s more that needs to happen in you. That can be difficult when you’re teaching and there’s authority there. You can feel, and I’m sure some teachers probably feel that if they admit that there’s still something there it’s going to affect their authority. But actually, the opposite is true. Once you start to admit that there is more to do, you automatically become more humble, and that gives you this deeper, much deeper authority, because people can sense when there’s fear there, and they can sense the authority in humility.
Renate: I sometimes look at teachers and I can sense they’re not completely clear.
Linda: No. Well, I would say I’m not completely clear, but who is? Maybe that only happens at the point of death. I don’t know. I went to India a few months ago and sat with a teacher there. He’s been in this state for maybe thirty or forty years. It was obvious to me he was more deeply here than me. A few years ago there might have been a bit of reaction to that, “I don’t really want to know about that,” but at this time it just felt quite beautiful, and an incredible opportunity for me to go more deeply into this. That’s the excitement about the whole thing – that it does keep going. It can’t be finite. You can’t say, “This is the end,” because in eternity, there’s no end. That’s the most beautiful and exciting thing about it.
Renate: In what do you go further into? How do you experience more freedom? Where do you go? Where do you expand into? I think I read in your notes that you said, “I go deeper and deeper into the moment.”
Linda: Into the unknown.
Renate: Into the unknown. So, the moment, the now…
Linda: The now is totally unknown. When you’re completely – I still say completely, but – when you are completely here, it’s unknown – you can’t know anything. Before, the unknown to me was scary, “I don’t know what’s going to happen.” Now, it’s incredibly, as I said, exciting and beautiful – this unknown. What also happens after enlightenment is that you do have to – well, it happens gradually – it took me seven years to really integrate the relative and the absolute. I’m still living in this body. I’m still living in this world. To really feel completely one with it, for me, it took seven years to feel that union, so there wasn’t that abrasive quality of the world, of everyday life – it just all became one.
Renate: So, when everything is one, how can one person get enlightened? How does that work? If the experience is, there is only one, how can you say then, “I am enlightened?”
Linda: Well, of course, using that language, you can say, “Nobody can be enlightened.” But, you need to use language to communicate with people. The only reason I said, “I am enlightened,” was because I know during my practice, that’s what I was interested in. I know not everyone is consciously interested in becoming enlightened. But for me, that was the thing. And, if I saw a teacher who said, “I am enlightened,” I wanted to find out whether they were or not. That’s what got me going. I didn’t want someone to say, “No, I’m not enlightened,” – I wanted to know it was possible. And, I know when I started saying it – I don’t really say it as much now – I just don’t feel to, but it’s true – I am.
Renate: And, I am intrigued by that, that you can say that. [laughs]
Linda: Yes, and that’s why I say it. When you do say it though, you get a lot of people saying, “How can you say that? And, you can’t be enlightened because you say that. And, what an arrogant thing to say.” The only reason I can say it, is because there’s no arrogance there, and I really don’t care what people think of me. What I care about now – the only thing that really gets me going is the fact that it’s possible for others to be free. And, it is possible.
Renate: One of the beliefs we have, a lot of people have, is that it only can happen through grace. But, listening to you I get the feeling if you put in enough effort, and dedication, and make it the highest priority in our life, we can get it.
Linda: Well, that’s what you need to do. You need to put it first, before anything. That’s what happened with me. I didn’t make myself do it. It just happened. You can say that grace was meeting my teacher – that was the grace. Then after that, it was up to me to use that grace, and to appreciate that grace, and to work because I had the good fortune to meet this deeply enlightened being, and to connect with him. So, it was up to me to fulfil my potential, which I saw in him.
Renate: And when you work now with students – you have students mainly in Australia – or you also have students in England?
Linda: I haven’t got many in England. [both laugh] I’ve got a lot in America. I’d be happy to do some things in England, but I haven’t actually worked at it. I’ve been travelling quite a bit lately.
Renate: You go to Denmark afterwards.
Linda: Yes, I’m going to Denmark to do a retreat at the end of May. I can’t remember the date.
Renate: It’s all on your website.
Linda: Yes, it’s all on the website…
Renate: But, what is the biggest obstacle? What’s in the way with people?
Linda: Fear. It’s all about fear.
Renate: Fear of?
Linda: Well, what it comes down to is fear of death of the body. So, it’s fear of death. All our fear comes from that basic fear, that primal fear.
Renate: So, it’s basically deep identification with the body. How can you break that?
Linda: How can you break that. Through seeing again, and again, and again that I am not my thoughts. Breaking that momentum of the thinking process, and coming back to the body. It’s really the practice that I teach. It’s just basic Zen practice. It’s all about the body. It’s using the body to realise that I am not the body. Which sounds like a paradox…
Renate: I like that, yes, I like that.
Linda: It’s through the body, and even after enlightenment, it’s all about the body.
Renate: Well, I just realized I have to stop. [both laugh]
Linda: That was quick.
Renate: I know. I just wanted to go more into the body, but maybe next time when you come to England.
Renate: Okay, so I have to say good-by and thank you for watching conscious.tv, and thank you Linda for being with us.
Linda: Thank you.
Renate: You’ll find all the information, lots of information on Linda’s website.
Linda: Thanks Renate.
Renate: Bye –bye.