Mandi Solk - The Joy of No Self
Interview by Renate McNay
Renate: Mandi is one of these fortunate beings who lives in Oneness, or non-duality, and she’s going to tell us her story today. [Both laugh.] So, Mandi, from reading your book, your transformation started after this terrible accident you had where you collided with a car. You were on a motorbike and you went through the back window and straight through the front window…
Mandi: Yes… I was much thinner then! [Laughter] Zoom - like a bullet!
Renate: Yes, so tell us about how that happened…
Mandi: I’ll tell you about that, Renate [laughing] …I’m not really a ‘fortunate being’, although that’s very nice…
Mandi: I’ll explain this as I go along… I was driving my motorbike and I hit a car. The lady who was driving it suddenly pulled out of the kerb without looking, and my bike hit her car. Just as it was about to hit it, I remember thinking, “I’m going to die now, so I’ll just let go of the handlebars because there’s nothing else I can do”. There was such an enormously spacious feeling of letting go and such relief, with no holding on to life. At the same time, there was a definite feeling of being lifted up and up, out of the situation.
Renate: And was there no fear or panic when you saw that?
Mandi: No, because there wasn’t any time for panic. I know that’s a strange thing to say, but I think sometimes people in accidents may have similar experiences, wherein the accident may look terrible from the outside, frightening people. But if, like me, the accident victim is completely ‘in the moment’, seeing that there’s nothing they can do to save themselves - which is what this is really about - then something else (God, Being, whatever) steps in and takes over. Then this great calmness and natural adaptation instantly happens. This is what happened to me.
I felt like I was being gently raised up into the atmosphere and there seemed to be a lot of green light. In fact, it resembled a forest, but it wasn’t a forest. There seemed to be lots of doors in objects that looked like tree-trunks, but they weren’t really doors. The main thing as I was rising up was being able to see the world below. I saw people and buildings and everything, but I could see through them. Even as I’m telling you this story, it is just a story, because the memory is only occurring right now, and it feels like I’m remembering a film.
Mandi: Anyway, as I was seemingly going up, I suddenly saw through these buildings, I saw that they were transparent and the people were transparent, but the feeling of Being, that vast feeling that is the basis of everything, expanded. And it was bigger and vaster than anything I could describe – limitless. And it was the only thing that had any meaning. Not the people, the objects and the buildings - they weren’t real; they had no substance at all.
As I was being lifted up, some worldly thoughts came to me, and I remember thinking, “Oh great! I won’t have to worry about the overdraft anymore – wonderful!” …And then I remember thinking, “Oh, and I don’t have to finish with that boyfriend – fantastic!” and “I won’t have to worry about my weight anymore!” [Laughter] And I was laughing so much because I started to see that all these things – buildings, people, objects - meant nothing! They weren’t made of anything. It had all been an illusion - just a dream I’d been sucked into, like mass mesmerism. And then I noticed one of the ‘doors’ in the ‘tree-trunks’, and I just couldn’t wait to go through it… When all of a sudden I woke up on the ground!
Renate: So did you expect anything behind the door?
Mandi: Well, the only thing that I just knew was behind these doors was enormous joy, light and happiness. It was just a knowing, and I couldn’t wait to get through, like it was the most exciting thing you could imagine!
So then I was on the ground and had apparently woken up. There were a lot of people around me, and the motorbike and the car were a complete write-off. Everyone expected me to be dead, and the woman who’d been driving the car stood over me, crying. Yet suddenly, I had enough clarity and presence of mind to say, “Now don’t worry, love - I’m all right. But you do know it was your fault, don’t you?” I had to say that for the insurance [laughing]!
The amazing thing was that there wasn’t a scratch on me; there was no aftershock, nothing. I wasn’t even bruised! Then I was taken to hospital to be checked out but everything was fine.
So this was one glimpse of this ‘seeing of Being’, and I completely lost any fear of death, because I had totally seen that there was no death, no such thing as death. It was an enormous comfort. So then life just went on as normal, until a few other things happened.
Renate: You went back into your story.
Mandi: Yes, that’s a good way to put it - it seemed like I went back into my story. But you see, and this is really hard to describe because the moment the words are out of your mouth, you contradict yourself by even saying ‘I’, ‘you’, ‘me’ - anything… However, we have to use some language! All I can say is that, at the time, I perceived there was an ‘I’ who’d gone back into this ‘story of somebody’, but in fact that isn’t what happens. This is where people can get this whole non-duality thing a bit confused, because they think you have a glimpse and - hey presto! - that’s ‘IT’! That’s the transformation…
Mandi: …but it isn’t really, because nothing really happens. People tend to think there is a state called enlightenment or nirvana and one person has got it and the other person hasn’t. But this isn’t true. And the reason it can’t be true is because there is nobody ‘over there’ or ‘out there’ to have anything that ‘you’ haven’t got! Because all there is, is Being.
‘Being’, that which we truly are, I described in my book The Joy of No Self. Imagine a huge diamond that stands from floor to ceiling – a beautiful, sparkling diamond with millions of coloured facets. Your eye suddenly takes you to a certain deep red or a blue facet, and it’s so vibrant, this colour, that you want to go up to it to have a proper look. But as soon as you do, you see it’s completely transparent, because it never really was red - it was just a trick of the light. And that’s all that’s ever really happening. If we looked at all people, buildings and objects under an electron-microscope, we would see that they are just transparent empty spaces, too.
When I’m asked the question, “What is non-duality?”, the answer is, “What is not non-duality?” Because nothing is dual - there is only Oneness, there is only Everything. It is Life, and so vibrant!
And so after my motorbike accident, that was one of the times when I was left with this feeling of utter aliveness and vibrancy, and I no longer held any belief in the solidity of things. After that, I looked for other people who’d had similar experiences; I think many people do. They start to read spiritual books, because there’s such a hunger to know more about it.
Renate: You become a seeker.
Mandi: You become a seeker!
Renate: That brings us to the world of the seeker.
Mandi: Yes, yes!
Renate: You’re going to tell me later… what the seeker is…
Mandi: Yes, and you must help me not to go off in too many tangents, because I do, you know! [Both laugh] Anyway, I’ll try and stick with this one! But, yes… where was I? Oh yes…
Renate: When you were looking for like-minded people…
Mandi: Looking for the ‘like-minded’. So I went through years of Christian Science… Nothing to do with Scientology - people get them mixed up, but they’re very, very different. In Christian Science non-duality is taught. Even so, there were things that made me want to leave that religion, mainly because it had been made intoa religion and only Christian Scientists could have this non-dual point of view. However, Christian Scientists are wonderful, they really are, and there are some brilliant truths in that. So I was very, very taken by the non-dual aspect taught in Christian Science and that seemed to feed me, for a long time. And then I wanted something that was less formally religious and Western, and I became deeply immersed in Buddhism and was even studying at one time to become a Buddhist teacher. But that didn’t feel quite right either. Again, I was so put off by all the rules and dogmas.
Renate: Did it not feel right, because you had this amazing experience of Oneness, and then you came back? I think you were obviously looking for something which gave you this picture back.
Mandi: Well, I think you’re right, Renate, because the mistake we make, really, is that we hanker after these glimpses, these peak experiences - which is the one way to keep them away! Ha!
Renate: Exactly. Yes…
Mandi: You get in the way of it. Seeking is an obstruction to seeing.
Mandi: Because the mind is really the thing that’s seeking it. Anyway, then I went on to another school of Buddhism, for about three years, but it held nothing for me. After that, I came to Eckhardt Tolle’s lovely teachings and was very happy with them and The Power of Now. It made complete sense to me and it felt the nearest to the end of seeking. I thought, “Oh yes, I’m very happy trying to be in the now” [laughter]. And I managed it, as if it were a practice, for longer and longer periods! But actually, that was very ‘dual’, because here was a person who believed they were a person, trying to be mindful and in the present moment.
Mandi: So that wasn’t quite ‘it’ and, meanwhile, I was having more experiences. For instance, I’d turn over in bed at night, and there was no body turning over in bed; and it was like a part of me was missing or transparent, just like it had been after the car accident; followed by similar disappearing acts. I seemed to be dissolving…[laughing]! I mean, it’s all very funny really, and none of it matters, so why are we talking about it then? I’ll get to that.
Then a friend pointed me towards some non-duality speakers and writers, and I went to a meeting, and I just thought, “Yes! This is it! This is it exactly! This resonates with me absolutely”. In fact, even before I went to my first meeting, I was halfway through reading one book about non-duality when something happened – or maybe, I should say, didn’t happen. I woke up one morning and there was just nobody there. There wasn’t a location anymore to the person called ‘Mandi’, and ‘she’ was no longer inhabited in the body, in the bed. She/it was everywhere, but not in a location…
Renate: Wasn’t that a freaky situation?
Mandi: Yes! It was [laughing]!
Renate: But it must be for the ego…
Mandi: …quite frightening!
Renate: …the ego structure all of a sudden… It must feel completely disorientating.
Mandi: Well, it was. I remember just trying to dress myself and put things on - but there was no one to put it on! Who was it going on? What was this? Where was I to put this jumper on, and how could I dress nobody? There was also a sense of knowing that something was supposed to be done that day, to get something from the market. And I remember there being a greenish colour… I don’t know why there was a colour… But everyone’s experience is different. We talk about everyone but, like the facets of the diamond, every part of being, knowing itself, bearing witness of itself, has apparently different experiences.
Renate: Was it emerald green or…
Mandi: A kind of a darkish green, with tinges of black in it. I sometimes call it ‘the greenness’. But certainly there was absolutely nobody there, no sense of anyone. I did somehow manage to dress myself, even walk the dog and get out to the market. But when I was in the market, it felt like there were just ghosts everywhere, that none of this experience was real, as I had once imagined it to be real. People who knew me would approach me to have conversations, and it was extremely difficult because they were all looking at me as though I was ‘in’ - but I wasn’t ‘in’ at all.
After that, there was a seeming to go back into the story again. But, you see, this time it wasn’t the same, because the experience I have just described - which is just a thought now of an experience - is completely unimportant, it’s irrelevant. People have similar peak experiences all the time and then hanker back to them. It’s because we’re looking for something special, something that’s different from the norm.
Mandi: But when this is really seen, then what is seenis that ordinary living is not about life showing you little entertaining peak experiences - it’s all about what’s happening right now. So then all aspects of seeking fell away, and it is that which has never returned. There’s no one here and no one seeking, so everything that occurs doesn’t happen to an identity.
Sometimes that can mean that emotions are even more raw than when there was thought to be a person there. What I mean by that is, for example, that if I was driving along a busy road and someone pulled out in front of my car causing an accident, what might occur is that fury might arise like, “How stupid!” and so on. But then what happens is that the anger is so fresh, so honest, raw and instant that it fills every aspect of the room, everywhere… There’s not a millimetre where there’s no anger; it’s fully expressed. But then in the very next moment - which is also this moment… it’s gone! The anger arose like a bubble from nowhere and then it’s gone again, not leaving anything behind. This is because there’s simply no body for it to attach to. Formerly, ‘I’, identifying with a ‘me’, would have taken the whole episode very personally, and stayed angry for hours, maybe even longer.
Or, perhaps compassion arises when seeing somebody hurting or suffering… But when it arises, it fills all space, it’s absolutely full; there’s nothing else except that feeling, that compassion. And then it’s gone again and nothing’s left… nothing, like the reflection in a mirror.
When a child dances in front of the mirror, the mirror dances with her but, when she goes, there’s just the empty reflection, with no trace of the little dancer. But now a lion comes roaring by the mirror which is all reflected back to the lion. But when he goes, the mirror is empty again. The mirror is a great analogy of Being. Being is still, unmoving, static and nothing flutters or changes it; and it only reflects the pictures that move in front of it. It is only ever the mind that’s constantly moving.
Renate: And do you still experience a moving mind?
Mandi: Thoughts come and go – it’s just Life living itself.
Renate: …it’s thoughts…
Mandi: A quantum physicist would say that thoughts are just frequencies of moving energy. Thoughts come from nowhere and go back to nowhere. Thoughts arise all the time because that’s life. Life is all of this. It includes thoughts, but thoughts aren’t ‘IT’. Being is everything, but thoughts aren’t Being. You can’t think yourself into Being, because Being is the vastness, the spaciousness. But thoughts arise. For me, now, thoughts tend to be more in the background, whereas they used to be much more in the foreground. I used to run with my thoughts and go with them, but it’s not like that now: I’m not run by them anymore.
Renate: Do you think… rather than sitting and contemplating and thinking about it… you are spontaneous with life?
Mandi: Yes, indeed.
Renate: You just follow - or nobody follows! I don’t know how to say it.
Mandi: Yes, life feels very ordinary. It’s great not to be burdened by ego anymore because, when it is seen that ‘I’ am everything and everything is ‘me’, there’s no possibility of feeling special anymore. How could there be? However, when people are still seeking or following a path, it can make them feel special compared to others who aren’t following that path. But when it’s seen that there’s no path to follow because ‘you’re’ not even there, there is no ‘you’, then there’s just whatever is arising presently. That’s very humbling.
I’m pretty sure that nobody would look at me and think that I was enlightened. Because it’s all a myth, this fairy-tale blissful state. How do we think someone in this state would behave? What would they look and act like? It’s often imagined that it would be someone who appears consistently quiet and smiling and gives off a very calm light. So many people misunderstand this and think that, when someone’s very calm and very light, they must be enlightened! But that particular character is either like that, or pretending to be like that. They may indeed be a very calm person. But, like the many facets of the diamond, there are many different facets of Being,and no one is any more ‘enlightened’ than anyone else. We are alive and living and conscious and that’s it! I’m sure every speaker that you’ve had here talking about non-duality has very different characteristics.
Renate: Yes, yes, I think that has to do with the character, how one carries on as an enlightened being. If the person was calm before, then he will be calm afterwards.
Mandi: It’s like the myths that surround money. Many people have really weird ideas about money, but money is just another facet of Being, money is energy. But a common belief is that, if people have lots of money, they’re suddenly going to become mean. But it’s only if they were mean beforehand that they’d be even meaner if they had more money. If they were generous people before, they’d be even more generous if they had lots of it! Money is one of those things that definitely expands and amplifies experience.
Something that has been of concern to me over the years, from observing people attending non-duality meetings - and I’ve seen a lot of them, mainly through running ‘Non-duality North’, which is where I invite speakers to come to the north, to talk about non-duality… What seems to happen a lot is that people go to these meetings and start reading non-duality books but, from the amount of emails I receive, they will insist that there’s something to ‘get’ and then some of them think they’ve ‘half got it’. Then they mistakenly think that non-duality is about detachment. This is a really important point, because non-duality is Life, Love, Being… But we can’t keep on using so many words, so we use the ND word. But people often think that it’s all about being detached.
So they will write to me and say things like, “Oh, I’m not interested in doing things anymore”, like going to gigs, art galleries, the movies or listening to music. Also - and I get this a lot – “I’m not getting on with my boyfriend or my girlfriend because they just don’t understand this”. Then they end up in an island of self-isolation, and they’ll say things to me like, “I just don’t know what to say to anyone anymore because people are mainly so trivial [laughing]”.
But it comes from a totally mistaken idea about what Life is really about - so they become ‘detached’ and it’s a false detachment. What we are actually talking about here is Love, and what comes with that is a natural non-attachment, not detachment, which is mind-made and forced. There’s just a natural, subtle and gentle falling away. So you can’t practise it because you can’t practise being in the moment. You either are or you aren’t.
Everybody’s such a treasure, no matter what they’re rabbiting on about. It’s all part of this glorious Being. What people miss about all this Life is the intense aliveness. Being is vital, sexy, alive and joyful - and how can you miss that? Now that isn’t a description of somebody who’s detached, is it? There is nothing to obstruct, pare down or interfere with the aliveness of every bit of ‘nowness’.
Talking to you, Renate, which is lovely… cooking sausages, which is scrummy: sausages frying in the pan, hearing the noise and everything - I mean, these things are really gorgeous and astonishing! What can be more spiritual than that? Why do we have to divide it, the ‘spiritual’ and the ‘non-spiritual’? It’s all spiritual, because everything is spiritual in substance. Everything! Take meditation, for example: meditation is glorious, wonderful, but it’s not going to get you enlightened any more than eating sausages. Forget ‘enlightenment’ and just enjoy eating enlightening sausages!
Renate: Mandi, that sounds so lovely and I would love [laughing] to be there…
Mandi: You are there [laughing]!
Renate: …and experience that. Yes, I am there - sometimes, and sometimes not. I don’t know. But do you experience something like challenges in your life? You know, where you have to survive, where you have physical things happening, where you have to take care of your body? There are some things which maybe are not so blissful. How do you deal with that?
Mandi: Well, none of this is blissful, unless a blissful moment happens. If I’m sitting in the jacuzzi at our local swimming pool and I’m enjoying the warmth and the bubbles, then I find it very blissful. But that isn’t a state separate from anything else. ‘This’ or ‘Life’ or ‘Being’ isn’t something that I exclusively have and you don’t. We are all ‘IT’. In any case, there isn’t a ‘you’ and a ‘me’ - there is just Oneness.
But you mentioned ‘challenges’: Mandi has lots of challenges, such as, in my story, ever since I’ve been little I’ve had trouble with my knees. I’ve either had one or other of my legs in a plastercast - always from my ankle to the top of my thigh. This has gone on for years, all of my life, and so I have trouble walking and sometimes pain. I also suffered quite a bit from ME ever since I had glandular fever when I was eighteen. And so I’d get exhausted - and I still do, to a certain extent.
But whereas, before, these things used to seem very difficult, now there’s only the feeling that this is what’s happening. Also, there’s no searching after ‘a life purpose’, like I should be doing something else… seeing the world perhaps, or doing some great service. So the way that things are is absolutely fine, the way they are. Sometimes unhappiness arises if I can’t do as much as I want to do, but it doesn’t stay like that. It’s all like water off a duck’s back, waterproof. Certainly a sorrowful feeling or an angry feeling can arise and fill all space… Yet it burns itself out very quickly, and then it’s gone, leaving no trace, like the reflection in the mirror we talked about before. So I move on through things pretty quickly.
Renate: What about physical pain? How do you experience physical pain?
Mandi: I take painkillers! [Both laugh.] None of this new age stuff!
Renate: You don’t put a crystal on your knee [laughing]?
Mandi: That’s interesting, because that brings me on to something else. Some people are really surprised, or shocked, that the way I earn my living is from practising various therapies. For instance, I practise Sound Healing (I call it ‘Body-Tuning’), which is a mixture of healing, laying on of hands, along with overtone chanting and using special tuning forks and Tibetan bowls. This works very well on physical ailments and disease. I am also a trained Assemblage Point practitioner, where I use a massive crystal and beat the patient on the back - not with the crystal! - giving them ‘the shamanic strikes’ - which I love doing! It’s very centring, and it certainly appears that the people who come for this treatment get really amazing and permanent benefits.
However, all of this work that I do is just seen as part of ‘Mandi’s story’ and, as such, there’s no investment or ‘mission’ or effort involved. After all, in truth there is no patient, no ‘other’ person to heal. But this, ironically, brings about excellent results, because ‘I’ have gotten out of the way, so Love can flow unobstructed. ‘I’ no longer have the responsibility of the healing. So now I love my work because it’s open and easy, loving and effortless. The investment and ‘mission’ have gone.
I mention all this because people often write to me and say things like, “I’ve been a life coach, or a healer, or a stockbroker, but maybe I should give that up now since I’ve heard about non-duality [laughing]”… And “Nothing matters” and “There’s no point”, etc. So I tell them, “No!” Because nothing changes - only the senseof personal investment or mission. The answer to the whole work issue is, “If you love what you’re doing, carry on doing it! If you don’t, stop it!”
So even though everything is ‘the story’, we still live ‘as if’ it’s true. Everything still needs attending to; even though no one’s there to attend to it, it still gets done. If there’s a belief in pain arising, I may take painkillers or I might use some of my Body-Tuning on it, whichever works best. Life goes on the same, but without the burden of an identity.
Renate: And so what is motivating you in life?
Mandi: I’m glad you asked that, because I don’t think that there is motivation anymore - in that motivation is something that pushes one on to do something else, and I don’t have that. It’s no longer necessary. Life is living through ‘me’. ‘I’m’ not doing the living of it.
Renate: Do you have a mission to… help other people wake up?
Mandi: Definitely not! No, not at all!
Renate: [laughing] So what is motivating you to get up in the morning?
Mandi: The dog [laughing]! That probably is it, really.
Renate: Because I heard from Eckhardt Tolle, for example, and you know I’m a big fan of Adyashanti…
Renate: …and they both said that if the ‘outside’ wouldn’t come in and pull them out, they wouldn’t do anything. They just would sit there in a peaceful state, or blissed out, or whatever. So somehow something must motivate you to come out, because you need to earn your living.
Mandi: I don’t even really think about it. I suppose that’s true in a way, except it’s not always ‘bliss’ that arises. Life throws up all sorts of surprises! But I think they’ve probably put it much better than I could. You see there’s no feeling of doing anything, or making anything happen. So I get up, when I wake up… No, that’s not quite true, because I put the alarm on snooze and I have another twenty minutes! But then I get up, because that’s what happens…
Mandi: …and the dog wants to go out, and I enjoy walking the dog so I go out, and the day starts to unfold. But if I could just sit there looking into space - oh yes, I could totally do that! That would be lovely.
But again, we have to be careful here, because ‘this’ doesn’t mean that things are always blissful. This mistaken idea is what causes people to think that there is a ‘you’ who is ‘enlightened’ and a ‘them’ who isn’t. This is just not true. It promotes misguided ‘separation thinking’ such as, “I’m miserable with all my thoughts, but you’re in bliss all the time”. It’s simply not the way of it. Things are only blissful if bliss is the nature of what is currently arising.
For example, I’ve had blissfully good fun talking to you, Renate, so this is all very pleasant indeed. But then, if I suddenly fell down the stairs on my way out and hurt my knee, that certainly wouldn’t be blissful, because there wouldn’t be any bliss contained in that moment - there’d only be pain filling all space. The feeling of doing nothing is lovely to me. I can just sit there. Some of the time there may be bliss and some of the time there may be falling asleep.
Renate: So what would you say to us little seekers [laughing]?
Mandi: [laughing] Oh, so you’re making yourself separate again! It’s impossible! Yes, what were you saying? Sorry, Renate - what would I say to you little seekers?
Renate: [laughing] Well, we are all little seekers till we dissolve into that.
Mandi: Well, seeking is what happens until it comes to a natural stop. Everybody’s seeking every moment, whether it’s through alcohol, drugs, sex, overworking; or too much TV, food; or hunger for constant sensation, constant company; or a greed for material items. But when the true ‘I’ is found - Being - these needs and addictions gradually drop away, and balance is restored.
I used to buy loads of music CDs. I’d go to lots of gigs and social things, but all that has dropped away, including making the effort to search the internet for bands playing, or looking for new CDs. Instead, it’s more spontaneous. For instance, a friend came round last week and said, “Oh, my boyfriend’s in a Latin band. Do you want to come?” So I went.
Things come to you effortlessly when there’s no seeking for them; and some old habits, like my smoking, just dissolved away. There is nothing to seek for. Just the fact that you’re alive is enough. There’s nothing to get. There’s nothing different, there’s nothing at all that makes me different from anybody else, and I would not like them to think there is. Because any time you believe that, it traps you back into seeking and thinking that there’s something that must be done, or to achieve that which cannot be achieved.
Mandi: It will keep you seeking forever. I say, just forget the whole thing and do whatever you do. Just don’t worry about it. There’s no mission here. How could I make anybody understand anything? Thoughts just arise. The thought of needing to become enlightened will hopefully drop away for people.
Renate: How would you call it? Which name would you give it?
Mandi: I’ve no answer to that, really. It’s just the experience of living, it’s living life [laughing]. No, I don’t know what to call it - it’s just the way things are.
Renate: Life living.
Mandi: That’s good. It’s just life, the astonishing vitality of it, living it to the full.
Renate: So I want to come back to your book. Mandi wrote a book, The Joy of No Self. I like what you wrote on the first page. It says, “This book wrote itself. The words come directly from presence and that, which is reading this book right now, is the same presence”.
Renate: I liked it.
Mandi: Well, for that sentence, I have to give some credit to my dear friend Jeff Foster, because I was saying to Jeff, as we were talking on the phone one day, how my book ‘wrote itself’, and then he said, “Yes, and it’s the same presence that’s reading it”. And I said, “Yes, absolutely!” And I loved that, so I put it in the book [laughing].
Renate: And reading through your book, I really liked it; it’s like a love song, it has such a beautiful energy coming out of it. I like the way it’s written, you know, all these big letters and lots of space in between to contemplate the wisdom [laughing].
Mandi: So people won’t have to look for their glasses, including me!
Renate: You did it all for yourself [laughing].
Mandi: Well, who else would I be doing it for [laughing]?
Renate: Exactly! And it was actually funny, because a couple of weeks ago a friend took me for a couple of days on a retreat, and she started to read your book to me.
Mandi: Oh… really!
Renate: It was a birthday present for me…
Renate: …to be there. Anyway, this book is full of beautiful poems and other things. At the end there is this poem, which I really like, and I was wondering if you would read it to us.
Mandi: Oh, thank you very much - it will be my pleasure. Yes. So, this one’s called: No Self No Suffering.
There is no ‘Self’ to own a feeling
Or emotion that needs healing
Nor a past that needs revealing
Or a person who needs ‘toughening’
To cope with ‘their’ apparent suffering
And guilt can no more plague a heart
In Oneness, where it has no part
There is no Soul to seek and find
Through practices to clear the mind
There is no Self behind the eyes
Yet joy or fear could still arise
But no one’s ‘in’ to sympathise!
No self - no suffering – no one seeing
That this aliveness HERE, is Being.
Renate: That’s beautiful, thank you. Thank you, my dear [smiling]. Again, the book is called The Joy of No Self - and that’s how we experience you, very joyful!
Mandi: Thank you.
Renate: Mandy, we have to close in a couple of minutes. Is there anything else you want to share with us, or tell us?
Mandi: I just really want to thank you very much, and I’d like people to see the joy in ‘This’, because people do struggle and they don’t need to. By all means, attend non-duality meetings, read books about non-duality if you like, but don’t feel that you have to become a ‘detached’ person just because you hear all this. Simply hear it, and see if it resonates with you. Don’t feel there’s anything else you need to do, because there isn’t. And that’s the joy of it, that’s the freedom in it.
Many people see that as a worry and feel that there must be something to do, or they get very angry, because the mind gets so frustrated when it’s told repeatedly that there’s nothing it can contribute! But since there really isn’t anything that can be done - no technique, or formula to practise or memorize - then there’s such a glorious freedom in that. If that can be embraced, then who knows? Seeking may just dissolve away, and then real joy is found at the root of everything.
Renate: You hear over and over the stories of seekers who finally realise that there’s nothing they can do: they give up and then it happens to them.
Mandi: Yes, it certainly can. I think there’s more chance of Being being seen when there’s a natural ‘let-go’. Seeking thoughts create what is known as ‘the veil’, which is formed through millions of thoughts busily knitting together with other thoughts until a metaphysical ‘fabric’ is formed that Oneness cannot be perceived through. But since there is no ‘you’ who can do anything about it anyway, you might as well relax and come to terms with whatever is the content of this present moment.
Renate: Thank you, Mandi.
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