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Paul Morgan-Somers – Paul Disappears into the Ocean (and Messi is God!)

Interview by Iain McNay

Iain : Hello and welcome, again, to Conscious TV.  I’m Iain McNay and my guest today is Paul Morgan-Somers.

Hi Paul.

Paul : Hello, Iain. 

Iain : So, Paul’s got a very interesting story and he’s reached some really interesting states as well, and we’re going to combine the two and see where the interview goes.  We only actually met about 5 minutes ago before the interview.

So Paul, you lived in Wales, you had two very good parents…

Paul : Yes.  Yeah, yeah.

Iain : When you were young, you were quite into martial arts, weren’t you?

Paul : Yes, into karate, from about 13.  I was really into sport, really, and karate and football were my two passions.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : And, eventually, I gave up karate because I had to spend all my time on the football, because that’s where the opportunity was presenting itself, because I was given the opportunity to go and play for Cardiff City Football Club as an apprentice.

Iain : Yeah, but let’s just stay with the karate because –

Paul : OK.

Iain : – you told me on the phone that, when you were doing the karate, when you were quite young, you felt a special energy that seemed to be effortless.

Paul : Yes.

Iain : So talk more about that, what you remember feeling at the time.

Paul : The first memory I have of it, I was at a grading for my brown belt.  And there were two gentlemen over from Japan, who were the top people in wado-ryu karate, and they were doing the grading.  And I was sparring with the second in command, just by chance, and, just prior to that, the old gentleman was talking about this thing called ‘inner energy’ and I think he used the word ‘chi’, which I hadn’t come across before.  And I love sparring, in karate, and it was a friendly spar, which – I was quite competitive – so it built momentum and eventually I managed to catch my competitor with a roundhouse kick and…

Iain : What’s a roundhouse kick?  You’re, kind of…?

Paul : (It’s called a mawashi geri, which is it comes around, like that [indicates with arm].)  …much to the surprise of everybody.  And this old Japanese man came over, his English wasn’t very good and he spoke through his assistant and he said, “Oh, you have chi!  You should use the chi and not your muscle”.  And I was a bit confused and… but it’s like… it’s an effortless movement in the body and there can be, like, extreme force in it but the body doesn’t feel it, it’s not like a muscular force.  So, in their history, they call it ‘chi’ and ‘inner energy’ and he said, “You should work on your chi.”  And I said, “Well, thank you very much,” – I didn’t really know what he meant!

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : And, fortunately, he gave me my brown belt, despite the fact I didn’t know a lot of the other katas, and whatever, so that was my first experience.

Iain : But did you find the chi coming through, like, in ordinary life when you weren’t doing karate?

Paul : Uh, no.

Iain : So it was just when you were practicing…

Paul : Not practicing, actually competing with another person, that’s when it arose, really.

Iain : OK, yeah.

Paul : And then, later on, I felt it sometimes outside, because I became slightly more interested in it as a concept.  And, sometimes, you’re able to do a tough physical thing with no effort whatsoever?

Iain : Mm.

Paul : And with no sense of any resistance to it, to the movement.  Even though there might have been two guys on the other end, resisting you, there was no awareness of that resistance in the body.

Iain : And you still find that happens in life sometimes?

Paul : Ah… well… not really in that sense.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : That was very much a physical, competitive sense and, I’m glad to say, I haven’t fought anybody since giving up karate, so…

Iain : No.

Paul : Who knows?

Iain : So your dad was very into sports, he was a boxer and a footballer, wasn’t he?

Paul : Yeah.

Iain : Quite a good footballer.

Paul : Yeah, he played for Wales Youth, and he was the RAF boxing champion.

Iain : OK, RAF.

Paul : He was in the RAF.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : So he was very much into sport, sport was his life.  He had quite a tough upbringing…

Iain : His father was an alcoholic, wasn’t he?

Paul : Yes.  So he found his… he enjoyed being out of the home more than home, basically.  And being out of the home meant doing sport, in the local youth club, so he lived most of his time there and played all sorts of sports.  But football became his main love.

Iain : Yeah.

And so, one of the things I liked – again you told me this beforehand – I like what he suggested with you was – because you were quite a good footballer when you were young – and he said, “Because you’re right footed,” he said, “just kick the ball with your left foot,” so you ended up with equal balance.

Paul : Yes.

Iain : And that’s quite a foresight, really, with father with son, in terms of encouraging you to find a way to be good all round, because…

Paul : For sure, yeah.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : He used to take me out the back of the house and used to ban me from using my right foot, basically.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : And he’d pump balls at me continuously and I wasn’t allowed to use my right leg at all.

Iain : So, football was your love and you said earlier you were invited to be an apprentice at Cardiff City, and, at some point, when you were playing football, or afterwards, something happened, didn’t it, which – something significant happened that changed the way…?

Paul : Changed my life, changed my life, yeah. {6: 20}

Iain : Just talk us through that.

Paul : I was out the back of my home, where I used to go out and practice, and there used to be an uneven wall behind my home and I used to spend hours just punching the ball against the wall with both feet, with the outside of the foot, the inside of the foot, and just practice, as fast as I could, rebound, basically.

And I was a little bit tired so I went and got a drink and sat down on some steps.  And had just a strong sense just to stay there.  And I stayed and such a deep sense of peace started to occur, something I’d never experienced, I didn’t recognise before.  Because sometimes, after a hard work out, you can feel a bit – ‘phew’ at peace in the body, a relaxation in the body, but this was utterly different.  It didn’t feel it was the body, or contained in the body, and that just went deeper and deeper until it felt, like, bottomless.

Iain : Mm.

Paul : I’ve always found it difficult to find words for what happened next, but then there was just… such a brilliance occurred.  Well, everything I was looking at was lit up, and my body was lit up, in this brilliance.  I didn’t understand what it was and my reaction was, “Bloody heck!  What’s going on?!”

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : But, with it, there was such a sense of love.  And I can’t explain it any other way, it was like this sense was falling in love with itself, like the life in my body.  And it just became boundless.  I don’t know how long it lasted for… but it was beautiful and it just completely changed – well, it started to change everything I thought I knew about myself, what I knew about life.  Because, up to that point, I was just into sport, sport was my life…

Iain : Yes.

Paul : My parents were business people, so I had no background in any sort of religious or spiritual concepts, or learnings.  So that experience started a process of about 18 months where my body would just have this sense of ‘go to sit quietly’.

Iain : But how was it, the first time this happened, you had the beautiful experience and you kept it to yourself, I think, didn’t you?

Paul : Yes.

Iain : You had no one to talk to about it.  But did it concern you at all or did you just see it as a positive, blissful experience?

Paul : There was a sense of resistance, a slight resistance in the body to it, and also in my mind because I didn’t understand what was going on.  My mind felt slightly out – it wasn’t in control, or I wasn’t in control of this experience.  I often say it was like surfing a wave:   the wave surfs you, really, it’s in control of you and you’re just going along for the ride.  So, in that sense, I was used to being – through karate – in control of my body and what I did.  But this was something very different, I wasn’t in control of that experience.  But it was bigger than me and in control of my body, of my mind, everything.  It was like being hit by a big wave, really, and everything became saturated by that brilliance.

Iain : And would that come and go or did it, essentially, stay with you?

Paul : That experience went.  It left, like, ripples in the body of, very often, a sense of wonderment and bliss just arose and carried on arising.  And then, every so often, the body would have the sense to go and sit quietly and I resisted it for a little bit and I learned to go with it.

Iain : So when you say the body had the sense, the body was… you felt this…?

Paul : Yeah, it was very physical.  I quite liked being in control and there was an element of fear in my character, because I didn’t understand what was going on, and the energy was quite intense.  And, again, an energy I wasn’t used to as – I understood pushing my muscles and my body to their maximum, I understood that feeling and that sense, but this was pushing my body, it felt, in a different way, and I didn’t quite know where the maximum could go to?

Iain : Mm.

Paul : So there was a resistance and a nervousness in my character, in my thinking, in my body, when this brilliance started to arise again.  But it had no choice, it couldn’t stop it.

Iain : So you talk about your body and your character so, even at that, kind of, early age – we’re talking about, what, mid to late teens?

Paul : 16, yeah.

Iain : You had the realisation, or understanding, that it was something separate from the body and, as you call it, the character.

Paul : I wouldn’t have used those words back then.  I didn’t have any concepts for it, it was just what was happening and I didn’t understand it at all.  And there was no one I knew I thought I could speak to, I didn’t even know how to verbalise it, say to my parents, or whatever.  There was such a sense of wellbeing and peace, though, behind that energy that there was no panic, in a sense, there was a resistance to it, but not a panic, in which I felt I needed to go and speak to my parents.  Because I didn’t know what to say to them.

Iain : No, I understand but also, of course, your parents had a very stable relationship, you had a stable childhood, so it was as if you were being held within the family unit somehow anyway, I guess?

Paul : Yes, I felt totally secure as a kid.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : And very much loved, there was no sense of risk in that dynamic, in the family.

Iain : No, it’s really interesting because the last interview I did was a lady called Mary Reed and she had very strong experiences happening a little bit later in life, but she had a very unstable childhood so, for her, that was really, really difficult.  Experiences were, maybe, more challenging than yours, to some extent…

Paul : Yeah.

Iain : And what I realised when I first heard your history, your story, if you like, was how important it is this stable childhood, somehow.  No matter what happens, whether it be spiritual experiences, or challenges in life somehow when that’s there it makes a huge difference, or can make a huge difference how we handle things that happen.

Paul : Yeah, for sure.  I think what you say is very important, but, like, over almost 40 years of chatting with people now…

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : … it’s very difficult to see a pattern.  Like, I’ve met many characters where experiences like this have happened and the outcomes have been quite unique in all their cases.  But certainly for my case it was having that family environment…

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : … I’m sure was super for me.  It instigated no panic, because I didn’t feel I needed to speak to my parents, or anything like that.

Iain : So, anyway, your football career was still, at that point, ongoing.

Paul : Yeah, yeah.

Iain : You signed as an apprentice at Cardiff City, who, at that point, weren’t so successful, but they’re now quite a big club.  And you were trying to get into the youth team to try and get offered a professional contract, I guess?

Paul : Yes, very much so!

Iain : And that was a competitive environment!

Paul : Yeah, my whole dream was to be a professional football player.

Iain : What position did you play?

Paul : Right midfield.

Iain : Right midfield, OK.

Paul : Sometimes in the middle of midfield, but often – I preferred to be in the middle but, sometimes – a lot of the times – they pushed me out to the right.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : But I always liked to be in the centre of where it’s all happening and to have a little bit of freedom to move about the pitch.  I was very comfortable on the ball, and greedy, I loved to have the ball, so, er…

Iain : So your character had greed!

Paul : Oh very much so, yeah, yeah.  It had the desire to own that football [laughs], it was my football and I just loved playing – I still love playing football.  My instinct – if a ball came into here now, I’d want to get up and kick it and play with it!

But at that point the idea of becoming a professional football player, it just fell away as being quite… of having no meaning for my character anymore.  Because, by the time I went to Cardiff, there’d been lots of other experiences so the whole sense of identity was changing by that point.

Iain : So, when you say it was changing, just give some examples that you can remember from that time.

Paul : Well, every time I sat quietly there was that sense of bliss and wonderment, that brilliance, and also there were lots of other experiences, which I later learnt – often people in the East use this term ‘kundalini’, where there’s energies going off in the body?  And they were very powerful, strong!

Iain : So just explain that in a more practical way.  What was it like to have a kundalini energy experience?

Paul : Sometimes it can be very subtle – back then I’m talking now – it was always very gorgeous, often quite orgasmic, in that sense.  But, also very… er…  The bit I didn’t like about it, I didn’t feel in control, that energy seemed to be doing what it wanted to do and I had no control over it whatsoever.  And sometimes it felt like it was pushing the body, or the nervous system, to its maximum.  And I felt, if that energy got any more intense, I’d blow a fuse or something like that.

Iain : So you’d feel a trembling in the body?  When you say you’d blow a fuse, how was that happening?

Paul : Because, often, when that energy went off, it’s like the body became an energy?

Iain : OK.

Paul : And there was no edges – I was used to having a body, very much I knew where it was, and it was very much located.  When those energies were happening, it was like the solidity of the body wasn’t there, the edges of the body weren’t there anymore, there was just energy moving.  And there was no edges to the energy.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : The energy was becoming – for want of a better word, it felt boundless and not located.  I’ve always found it very, very difficult to find words to describe this!  And, as I’ve said, many times it felt very, very… it felt like it was pushing this system to its maximum.

Iain : Mm.

Paul : And just as it got to the point where you thought ‘Oh!  Something’s going to blow!’ it “poof” [indicates dissipation of the energy] like it knew.  It would just go [indicates settling of the energy].

Iain : And did you feel different afterwards?

Paul : Er…  Well yes because, again, there were lots of experiences – it all sounds a bit…  I started seeing things before they…  like, time and space started to change…

Iain : OK.

Paul : … that’s the only way I can put it.  I started seeing things before they happened.  The sense of my identity, instead of being located in the body, was extended, like, through time and space and there was just a physical body in the middle, playing football and kicking a ball and practicing and...  But the awareness was extended, way beyond the body.

So, it was like my whole understanding of everything was being changed and questioned.  Everything I’d been taught by my parents, everything I’d understood from school, was all almost like not relevant to what this was experiencing at that point.
{20: 58}
But, with it all, there was just such a deep sense of peace, and love, and wonderment, that, for some reason, my character didn’t panic.

Iain : Well, I can understand that because that’s obviously a wonderful feeling to have.

Paul : Yeah.  It was like the panic, or the, like, ‘Oh shit, what’s going on?!’ used to arise, and then that wonderment, that peace, would just engulf it and ‘phew’ [indicates disappearance of anxiety].  It wouldn’t have anywhere to hold on to.  Like the resistance to it couldn’t grab anything to hold on to, to keep itself there.  It would just get swept away by this brilliance.

And then I started seeing, like, the energetic matrix of everything I was looking at, like the energies in everything.  There was one experience, which continues to this day, I had a sense to go and sit quietly so I left – I was in the kitchen – I went and sat on the end of my bed upstairs…  I don’t understand this so I’ll just say out of interest.

Iain : Yeah, yeah.

Paul : And then, in the corner of the room, like, a violet energy I saw –

Iain : The colour violet?

Paul : Yeah.  Just swirling and coming into a form and swirling out.  And I remember thinking ‘Oh, what’s that?’  It was beautiful!  When I say it was a colour that was, like, alive, it was beautiful.  And it moved and I thought it had… and then it went up towards the ceiling and I thought ‘Oh’.  So I laid back on my bed to look at it because it was fascinating, I was fascinated by it.  And then it started, like, raining onto my body.  And then the whole body just went “Boof!” into, like, an energetic sense?  It was, like, really vibrating and moving.  And it was quite funny at the time because my headboard – if I moved on my bed, the headboard used to bang against the wall behind.  And I thought ‘If my body’s moving’ – because it felt like the body was moving – ‘my headboard isn’t making any noise’.  So I knew it’s not my body moving, there’s something else going on.

Iain : Mm.

Paul : And then in that energy, again, there was no edges, it just…  And, in a sense, that happens every time now this character sits quietly, or every time it goes to bed, that violet whatever-it-is, and then there’s no edges.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : There’s no body separate to the bed or to anything else.  It’s just this energetic, locationless, edgeless, seamless, something which I’ve never been able to conceptualise or put into words.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : Because a lot of the other experiences all fell away because, at some point, this brilliance, then, was seen in everything.  And I call it the ocean because I have no other word – I love being on the beach and on the sea – so I just called this stuff, I just call it the ocean.  And it was everything, it was the space between everything, it was my mum walking into the room, it was this body, it was the football I was playing with.  So I was just amazed ‘Oh God, everything’s made from the same stuff!’

And there was such a brilliance and such a wonderment about this.  I think at that point this character started falling madly in love, although it sounds crazy, with this brilliance.  And, at some point, it was just like this brilliance was just self-luminous, and then there was no sense of a Paul located in the body or extended through time and space experiencing that brilliance, the ocean – what I call the ocean.  It was just ocean, there was just brilliance, which was everything and utterly, utterly boundless and timeless.  And nothing that I can put into words touches it.  If this character goes there, the words just stop.  It feels like a baby, really, trying to describe [makes baby gurgle noise].

Iain : OK.

Paul : What I’ve never been able to describe.  I just call it the ocean, which is everything.  And it makes no sense to anything prior, to what I’d learned from my parents, or from school, or from my sports coaches, or my karate teachers.

Iain : Yeah.

Let’s have a look, again, at the sequence of events because there’s some – I think there’s some interesting things that happened along the way.

So you left Cardiff City, decided you weren’t going to be a professional footballer…

Paul : Yeah.

Iain : … you went home…  I’m just looking at the notes that I pulled off the Internet about you here.  So we talked about the fuses in the body…  Yeah, and then you wanted to understand more about it so you went to London, didn’t you?

Paul : Yeah, I – by that time, my character just became really super-in-love, that’s the only way I can describe it.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : And I just wondered one day:   Has anybody else – it’s so obvious that everything’s the ocean, has anybody ever talked about this ocean?  Again, because I had no spiritual background, I didn’t know, and this was just prior to Google and the Internet, because it’s… just about 40 years ago now.

Iain : I just want to say at this point that we are here in Google studios, YouTube…

Paul : Yeah.

Iain : … and there’s a band rehearsing next door, there might be a slight interference, but we’re going to keep going anyway.

Paul : OK, yeah, yeah.

So… again where I lived was a very sleepy place, there was no bookshops and…  So somebody told me – I can’t remember who – “The biggest bookshop in the world is in London, called Foyles”.  And I thought ‘I’ll go there and see if anybody’s written a book about the ocean!’  And, in my naïveté, I thought there’d be a book called ‘The Ocean’!

So I went, I caught a train, went up to London, and started looking around the various departments and – I can’t remember, it’s a long time ago – and somebody told me there was another bookshop in London called Watkins, which is close by.

Iain : I know them both very well.

Paul : OK.  So I walked over to Watkins and went downstairs in Watkins, and I picked out some books called ‘The Upanishads’, which come from the Indian tradition and were apparently written 2,500 years ago, or whatever.  And I opened it and there were people, or words, in there speaking, or pointing, had this flavour of the ocean about them.

And this gentleman there, I said to him, “What’s this book?” and he explained to me what ‘The Upanishads’ were.  And there was a label in the back of it ‘Published by …’ this monastery, which was just outside London.  So I thought ‘Well, I’ll go there!  They must know about this ocean.’

And so I went home and I got another train, I went up and visited this monastery, knocked on the door and said, “Could I speak to somebody?”  And, eventually, I was shown upstairs to the Sanyasin, or the monk in charge, and we had a little conversation and he said, “Oh, something very natural has happened to you but it might be a good idea if you come and live here for a while, if you’d like to.”  And I thought ‘Oh great!’ [both laugh]  So I went home and sorted some stuff out, and wrote a little note to put on the kitchen table to mum and dad ‘Don’t worry, I’ve just gone to this address to this monastery’ and…

Iain : And they had no idea what was happening to you.

Paul : No idea whatsoever.

Iain : So they must have been – a complete surprise for them.

Paul : Yeah, it was… looking back on it, it was very much, it was such a shock to them, because –

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : – this football lad was suddenly gone somewhere which they knew nothing about themselves.

Iain : Yeah, yeah.

Paul : So that’s what I did, I went back up and spent almost 5 years in the monastery meeting, well it felt like, meeting the world.  Because, again, I was a country boy, the only foreigners I’d ever met were English people.  But there I was very lucky, the gentleman, the monk in charge, was… he was a medical doctor before he became a monk.  And he was involved in getting the Dalai Lama, when the Dalai Lama fled Tibet.  So he moved in those circles.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : And he used to organise all these quiet, behind closed doors, inter-religious dialogues.

Iain : So the Dalai Lama actually came to your monastery?

Paul : No.  I met him in London.

Iain : OK.

Paul : But we had Buddhist delegations, and delegations from the Vatican, and Muslim delegations, and all sorts coming there.  And they’d speak on various topics, like mysticism or meditation or prayer, and the whole idea was to find common ground.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : So suddenly I met all these cultures and all these people and realised all the stories that we make up about trying to measure this ocean, which is not measurable.  But we try to and we create stories about it.

Iain : So you heard similar stories, adventures, in different traditions to yours, is that right?

Paul : To a certain extent.  Mainly, you come across people arguing over their stories. [both laugh]

Iain : Really?

Paul : Yeah, yeah.  Because what this ocean is can’t be measured…

Iain : Yes.

Paul : But a concept, by its very nature, is a measurement.  So the paradox about what I call the ocean is it can’t be conceptualised, it can’t be written in a book, it can’t be spoken about, it can’t be described, so anything that is written, crazily, is, in a sense, not it.

Iain : Did you feel things deepening when you were in the monastery?  Maybe deepening’s the wrong word, but did you feel something expanding, or did you feel just pretty much the same?

Paul : There was just an ocean; it was just like a love affair but it’s not for any thing.  It’s not – there wasn’t a sense of a separate something Paul deepening, but…

Iain : More like a Paul disappearing, in a way.

Paul : There was just ocean.  A pureness, everything was pureness, the whole of time and space…

Iain : Mm.

Paul  : … and all the names and forms, all the measurements, that are born out of time and space, measuring something which is utterly, utterly immeasurable.  It’s like the ocean is that [clasps hand to face] and the act of measuring is doing that [pushes hand to one side].  And always a movement into something else.

So that’s what I learnt, my character, in the monastery, really.  All these world religions were trying to measure something, in a sense wanting to know something, which is immeasurable and doesn’t need the movement of knowing.  It’s almost prior…

Iain : Mm.

Paul : … it’s the isness in the whole movement of time and space.  In every single measurement – it’s not like one measurement’s better than another measurement, or closer, or more true, or less true.  The ocean is the wetness in all those measurements, in all those stories, in all those religions.

So I’d just be talking about the ocean to bishops and archbishops and…

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : … to the Dalai Lama, whatever…

Iain : You told the Dalai Lama about your ocean?

Paul : Yes.  Yeah, yeah.

Iain : What did he say?

Paul : Um…  It was quite difficult because there were so many interruptions – there was quite an entourage around him.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : We were talking and he would always refer back to something within his understanding…

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : … but the crazy thing about the ocean, it doesn’t have an understanding.  It isn’t something that needs to be understood.

So there were very few people that really – I think I mentioned to you about the Italian hermit?

Iain : Well, you mentioned to me, but talk about the Italian hermit, yeah.

Paul : Yeah.  There was a…

Iain : You met him at the monastery.

Paul : Yeah.

There was a delegation from The Vatican.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : I think it was on mysticism.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : So I think they’d asked this gentleman to come out of his hermitage, because he’d had a whole history of visions of Christ and other things.  And his English wasn’t brilliant but I was looking after him and we’d chat a little bit, and I’d chat about the ocean, and the craziness of all the stories we make up about it, and trying to hold on to it, or trying to measure it.  And he didn’t say much, but he was a lovely gentleman and, on the last evening, he said to me – I was bringing him tea, I think, or something – he said, “Paul,” and he said, “One day when I was praying, Christ appeared to me and he walked into my body.  And, when he walked into my body, we both disappeared.  And then there was just what you call the ocean.  So I know what you mean, but please don’t tell anybody.”  Which was such a – he said it in such a childlike way.  He didn’t want to get into any trouble with his superiors, I think.  And that’s why, perhaps, he told me on the last evening, and then he was gone the next morning, back to his hermitage.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : But, I think, in all religions, like in ‘The Upanishads’, there’s lots of what I call, like, sweet confusion, really, or…  But there are flavours in it, in all the religions, that point to this isness that can’t be measured, that can’t be written into a book, can’t be formalised, that can’t be built into a structure.  And it can’t be built into a method, because it’s unconditional.  There aren’t any conditions necessary for it, because it’s already the case.

And I think it’s frustrating, when you’re trying to get a measurement of something, that there is no ‘correct’ measurement, or ‘true’ measurement.  It’s, in a sense, beyond measuring, beyond concepts of true and untrue.

{38: 15}
Iain : I just want to just, kind of – because there’s some interesting things still to come, so…

Paul : OK.

Iain : … on a practical level.

So, when you left the monastery, you were like a hermit for about a year, I think you –

Paul : Yeah, I went – I lived on my parents’ farm in a little caravan for over a year, like a hermit.  Because my character would just sit for hours and days, sometimes.

Iain : Mm.

Paul : My character was just in love, the character was just in love with this ocean, this brilliance.  And, when it was sitting one day, I heard the name, a woman’s name, in my head and I just knew I’d marry her.

Iain : What was her name?

Paul : Suzanne.

Iain : You heard the name Suzanne in your head –

Paul : Yeah.  And her surname – I won’t go into that.  And then – I think about 10 days or two weeks later – I heard her name in the local village, there were two ladies speaking.  So I went up to the ladies and I said, “Do you know who this Suzanne is?” and one of them said, “Yes.”  So, eventually, I got the phone number of her.  I didn’t know what she looked like or anything.

Iain : Or how old she was! [laughs]

Paul : Or how old she was, nothing, I just knew I’d marry her.  And so I phoned her up and said, “Hello, my name’s Paul, would you like to go out for dinner?”

Iain : At least you didn’t say, “I want to marry you straight away!” [both laugh]

Paul : No!  I had that much sense!

And she said, “No!” [both laugh] “I’m not going out for dinner with you!”  She didn’t know who I was or anything!

And I remember putting the phone down and thinking ‘that was weird because we’re getting married!’

Iain : But you didn’t even know if she was married to anyone else or not, did you?

Paul : No, I didn’t know anything.  Nothing at all.  I just knew I’d marry this name that happened when I was sitting quietly.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : And then, a few months later, she phoned me…

Iain : You left your phone number anyway.

Paul : Yeah, yeah.  I said, like, “Well, if you ever change your mind, this is my number.”  And so she contacted me a few months later, because of various circumstances.  And, talking about snow, she was snowed in – she lived in the Preseli hills.  And, I think, out of an emergency, she phoned me and said, “Do you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle?” and I said, “Well, I have access to a 4-wheel drive vehicle,” because my parents had one.  And she said, “Well, you know you invited me out to dinner, then, if you can come and get me out of here, I’ll go for dinner.”

So I went and there was a long, long lane of snow and I managed to get down there on the 4-wheel drive vehicle.  And there were a couple of gates, farm gates, which were just iced up and you had to break open the ice and open the gates.  So it was quite an adventure!  And we went out for dinner and we got married.

Iain : And did you tell her, when you took her out for dinner, that you were going to marry her?

Paul : No, no.  I was a bit more practical. [both laugh]

Iain : Took your time.

Paul : Yeah.  But there was no doubt, in my character, that I would marry her.

Iain : Yeah.  And you had, I think, two children, is that right?

Paul : I’ve got two great boys.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : One’s just gone to university and my youngest boy, a similar story when he was just 13, in the words that people sometimes use, he had an awakening to this, what I call the ocean.

And often for characters, when the separate sense of the self – it’s like a wave in the ocean – suddenly is confronted by this ocean, the authority structures of the separate identity no longer really hold?  Or the model, the whole story of ‘me’, basically, gets shaken.  So it was quite funny.  We were in the garden – he does a lot of parkour, which is free running and quite dangerous…

Iain : Oh right, yeah.

Paul : And I’ve often taken him to A&E, because he’s fallen off things or done...  So we were in the garden and he was training – I built lots of things in the garden for him to try to train in reasonable safety – and I turned round and he was crying.  And I said, “Angelo, are you OK?  Did you fall?”  And he looked at me and he said, “There’s no one here, is there, dad?”  And I said, “No, there’s no separate something.”  Because they’d – both boys had grown up in the ocean.

Iain : When you say they’ve grown up in the ocean, had you talked to them about it before?

Paul : Well, the ocean’s everything.  It’s just –

Iain : Yeah, I understand that but you actually had a conversation with him about that?

Paul : Well, I think it’s just – because of my character, it’s just been there…

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : … and, if a question comes, I’ll speak about it.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : But there’s no speaking about ‘the ocean’, as if it’s a something, unless my character gets prodded, with a question.  So, unless the boys ask something specifically, I would never go and start speaking about the ocean.  I’d much prefer speaking to them about sport, or making money, or doing their education.  Because it’s all the ocean.

Iain : Yes.  I understand, I understand.

Paul : So, anyway, so… from that.  He said, “There’s no son or father, is there?” and I said, “No.”  No two separate somethings, there’s just the ocean appearing as a son or as a father.  So the whole story, the whole authority structure of mum and dad, of school and things, suddenly gets shaken as well, because it’s all very connected to the identity.

So, a little bit after that, he produced a 22-page document and a resignation letter to the headmistress.  So he handed his notice into school. [both laugh]  And presented me with this document:   School is an Inefficient Use of My Time.

And so he quit school and his character completely changed, in a way.  And, as his dad, I just love him to bits, he’s a lot more intelligent than I am.  So he’s gone off on his way, with a whole different energy now in his character, running a business.  He’s fascinated with the blockchain and cryptocurrencies.  And he says, “There’s an industrial revolution coming our way, dad, another one.”  He says it’s between the blockchain, and AI, and VR, and things like this.  And he said, “What they’re teaching me in school won’t be relevant much longer.”

Iain : Huh!

Paul : So he’s making money, he’s developing things in business, he’s writing a book.  So his character’s just completely changed.

Iain : So, this is a question that’s quite a difficult question, in a way, maybe for you to find an answer on the level I’m asking it, but…  So are you aware of influences on your character that take you in certain directions?  I understand there’s the ocean and you are the ocean.  The character is Paul – not just a human Paul but a human Paul living a human life.

Paul : Very much so.

Iain : Is there something in the character that’s aware of the ocean, maybe directing, or has that gone?  Is it just the one thing that’s moving?

Paul : There is always movement, but no sense of a something moving.

Iain : Yes.

Paul : So there will be just a naturalness, really.  It’s almost like on a football field:   if the flow of the game goes that way, the body, the character, will naturally go with the game.  It doesn’t try to pretend it to be something else, it goes with the game.  So, with life, suddenly that happened to Angelo, and so suddenly his whole direction changes, as a character, so you just respond, in a very practical way.  You speak about the pros and cons of what he wants to do, the possibilities, and education, and making money, and…  There’s nothing, um, divorced from the nitty grittiness of life.

Iain : Mm.

Paul : Because life is it.  It’s this boundless love affair of… life.  Of this appearance of time and space, of movement, like a football game.

Iain : Well, I was just thinking when you watch – the team I watch is AFC Wimbledon, a small team [Iain smiles, Paul laughs], but I love going to watch them play.  When I watch on TV, I see a Messi or Ronaldo, I actually feel that they – you could almost say that they are in the ocean, because what they are doing, it’s like they know where somebody else is without looking, they are sometimes – especially Messi – it’s so magical, the play, it’s beyond human.  I don’t know if you feel the same way?

Paul : Well, for me, Messi is God!  [both laugh]

Iain : We should call the interview that:   ‘Messi is God’!

Paul : I just – he astounds me.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : But, for me, the ocean is Messi-ing.  There’s no separate something, which is Messi, that is in the ocean, or connected to the ocean.  It’s that measurement, again we call Messi, Messi is the ocean.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : Although it’s crazy, the table, or Messi, or whatever, is absolutely boundless.

Iain : Yeah.  Mm.

Paul : It’s freedom Messi-ing absolutely stunningly, beautifully, exceptionally, amazingly, uniquely that character.

Iain : Yeah.

Paul : And he astounds me, as a footballer, when I watch him.  That’s why I call him God! [both laugh]  He’s just – I’ve never seen anything quite like Messi.

Iain : Yeah, yeah.

Well, maybe that’s the best place to end the interview! [both laugh]  Anything else that you feel is relevant?  We have, actually, about two or three minutes left, if you want to say anything more – or the ocean wants to say anything more.

Paul : It’s quite funny because my character tends to like to stay… is quite a quiet, silent character.  So only speaks about the ocean when it gets prodded, in a way.  It’s just there’s nothing that isn’t the ocean.  It’s not a something that can be achieved at a future time.  It’s just… for me it’s just a song that just sings, it’s just a love affair, really.  That sings – only one thing, really, there’s not two, there’s not two, actually, not two separate things.  And that’s all it sings.  And it just falls madly in love with that realisation, as it were.  And then there is no father and son that are separate, it becomes so much more ‘intimate’, so much more of a love affair than that.  There is no one thing separate from another thing.  So that’s the only thing that this character, if you could use the word, knows.  And it just plays like a football game.  It’s just the ocean playing.

Iain : And some oceans play better than other oceans!

Paul : Oh indeed! [both laugh]

Iain : Yeah.

Paul, it’s been really interesting.  I love the fact that your character loves football, because I love football, and I’ve enjoyed talking to you very much.

Paul : Thank you.

Iain : And thank you, everyone, for watching Conscious TV, and I hope we see you again soon.

Goodbye.

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