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Jessica Britt – The Great Alchemy

Interview by Iain McNay

Iain:  Hello, and welcome again to conscious.tv.  I’m Iain McNay and our guest today is Jessica Britt.  Hi Jessica.

Jessica:  Hi Iain.

Iain:   Jessica is a teacher in the Ridhwan School, which I’ve been a student of, for about eighteen years, and we’re going to hear about Jessica’s life, which is a very interesting story.  And also hear about some of her work, as well.  So, let’s start with what we were talking about earlier, before we started recording.  You were telling me that when you were, I think three years old, you were in hospital and you were in a body cast.  And you had quite an interesting experience.

Jessica:  Ah, yes, I had a felt feeling… first of all, this was a long time ago, so hospitals were very different, and it was twelve children on one ward and my felt feeling was being this consciousness - it actually touches me saying it - being this consciousness that was hovering, taking care of the children, and I had mostly a sense of the children and the suffering.  I don’t remember having much of a sense of my suffering – I was very aware of the children’s suffering and a profound sense of aloneness that was actually very sad.  And so it was a sad environment and some part of me rose up to it, literally, and responded in some way.

Iain:  It’s difficult when you’re very young isn’t it, and this sense of loneliness.

Jessica:  Ah, it’s very difficult.  It’s very difficult.  And one of the things I was sharing with you and, looking at different interviews that you’ve done and Renate has done, I was really aware of how many of the teachers we love and honour had really good childhoods and I recognized that my destiny is quite different in that I had a really difficult childhood and with a tremendous amount of aloneness and unkindness in it and neglect of a certain kind.  And so I felt very alone, very isolated and at the same time, totally determined to figure out what this human life was about… because my sense of what I was having, wasn’t a very good one and I thought, “Something is really off.”

Iain:  When were you first aware of this determination?

Jessica:  Interesting question. Probably around eight or nine… ten…

Iain:   It must have really impact on your character, because I know for myself, when determination comes in, it really starts to change something.

Jessica:  You know, it does, it actually gave me a sense of - which I recognised later - of enquiry, like I really wanted to understand it.  What was reality?  What was being a human being?  I actually, truthfully, didn’t know or feel particularly human at that point.  I was so withdrawn, but with a very curious, very watchful intelligence.  And I can actually remember at one point, telling my mother I wanted to see a therapist.  And I can remember her saying, “Why?”  And I said, “Because I’m suffering”’  And her response at that time was, “Everyone suffers.”

Iain:  Yes, yes.

Jessica:  Right, and so she didn’t support it so I went into – a long story – I went into nursing school and there, my withdrawn nature, my solitude, got the attention of my teachers and they actually opened the door for me to work with my first therapist.  Actually, the Freudian gentleman.

Iain:  Right, so it took you quite a long time from eight years old when you first had this feeling of determination to find out what life was about, until what, your early twenties when you were working as a nurse.

Jessica:  Um… I was probably around twenty when I started seeing the Freudian analyst though he and I did face-to-face work.  I mean, looking back, it was a fascinating process.  First of all, he responded to my story in such a human way.  I still, to this day, remember his tear.  It touches me now, when I was telling him something and that was like, “Whoa!”

Iain:  Without going into detail, you were abused when you were a child so you had quite a heavy load to carry and a lot to explore and understand.

Jessica:  I had a lot to explore with a very abusive atmosphere for myself and my brothers, from a stepfather.  One of the things - it’s a very common story on the planet.  So, turning toward - I became a nurse - I found myself turning toward psychiatric nursing.  And I actually worked with children.  I was just very infused with the knowledge of how much suffering there was  - emotional suffering for so many human beings.

Iain:  But it must have brought you a lot of feeling of compassion for the children you were working with…

Jessica:  Totally.

Iain:  …and experiencing this.

Jessica:  Totally.  I mean, one time – this was when I was still in nursing school - I had to write a treatment plan for a child I was working with - a beautiful, beautiful three-year-old – actually died of cancer - very touching, and I remember my nurse supervisor telling me I was too emotionally involved.  And I remember knowing she was wrong.  Very clear.  But I did shape-shift myself to do what she wanted, you know, wrote the report, but I knew inside that I was on to something that was much needed and real and that I needed to let my heart guide me, basically.

Iain:  So you were starting to have the therapeutic sessions with the Freudian therapist.  How did you find that?

Jessica: Well, mostly I found it, I’d say, it organised the chaos of my story.  Just telling the story, telling my experiences and having someone listen.  It started to break open the feeling of isolation, actually.  That was the main thing it did for me, it organised… so I felt less crazy.  It started to make sense of why I felt the way I did, even though I wasn’t fully into the feeling level of it yet.  That happened when I got to California.

Iain:  That’s a relief in itself, isn’t it, when you start to understand why you feel the way you do?

Jessica:  It was a huge relief.  And I remember, I read like crazy, like I really wanted to understand what a person was, what an ego was.  I was just determined and my determination basically got me out of the east coast to California and there… I mean I’ve watched this… there I worked as a nurse, again.  I went into psychiatric nursing as my main emphasis and worked with children.  And out of that, I entered into the exploration of Jungian work.  The Jungians do this thing called sand tray therapy which is fascinating and that went from, the Freudian world organized my story and then the Jungian world, kind of, opened up what’s known as the world of archetypes - large, governing principles beyond my personal mother and father, like the ‘great mother’, the anima, you know, the female part of the man.  So it opened up a larger view.  And that’s what I started feeling, like every new thing opened up a larger view.

Iain:  So you were starting a journey weren’t you?  You took from the Freudian work what you could take from the time.  It took you to a certain level and then something else that opens up.  So, you move on to Jungian work?

Jessica:  Yes, right, and actually, as you say that, what I realise… I mean I went through a few.  The one that really got my interest and has not let me go has been the Diamond Approach work.  So, from the Jungian work – long story short – I ended up – and working with children in psychiatry – I ended up at the Esalen Institute.

Iain:  Which is in California.

Jessica:  Which is in California.  It was one of the original human potential centres.  And Dick Price, who was one of the co-founders of Esalen, and his wife, Chris Price, had this program where they invited people working in the community… like for a while I worked with children who had been raped and incested.  Very intense work.  So, Dick would invite people working in the streets to Esalen for a week of rest and their own work and that’s where I got introduced to Gestalt Therapy.

Iain:  This was homeless people he’d invite in?

Jessica:  No, no, he’d invite people, people like myself… the service workers, the nurses, the doctors, the therapists, the social workers, and that’s where things really broke wide open.  That’s where I first started experiencing Gestalt work and so, everything I talked about in Freudian work, that I thought about, in Jungian work, I actually started feeling in the Gestalt work.  It was really quite an eye-opener for me.

Iain:  So, you were coming really into your body at that stage, the beginning of a process of discovering your body.

Jessica:  I was totally coming into my body and again, graphic memory, my very first Gestalt group, I remember it with a smile, right.  Chris Price did a guided imagery and the content of the imagery was so based on my history and I was lying there and I was thinking, “That brat [laughs], she’s going to get me into feelings, right!”  I’m a New Yorker, I’m sophisticated and – long story, short – the next thing I know, I am sobbing and crying, Chris is one side and Dick’s on the other.  I mean, I’d never had such an experience, and in that experience, as the sobbing softened, I remember, I remember to this day, that my hands, my body, felt so alive with my presence, with my consciousness.  I was startled.  I remember just holding my hand up in wonderment.  It made me realize how far away I was.  It touches me to say it - I was so far away, so far away.  So, I just became… it was like the feeling was, “I’ll do anything to stay and find out what this is here.”

Iain:  That in itself was deepening your commitment…

Jessica:  That’s true, that’s true.

Iain:  … to take things to another level.

Jessica:  Yes, I mean… you know how people really love… yes, I became an explorer, I became a total explorer of what it is that we are.

Iain:  That must have been a very exciting time because I remember interviewing in this studio, maybe a year ago, Claudio Naranjo…

Jessica:  Oh, yes.

Iain:  …who also went to Esalen and worked there and, very much, it was a whole new thing, wasn’t it, where people were starting to explore themselves and find out more how they ticked, how they worked.

Jessica:  Definitely.  I mean Esalen… I was there in the eighties, so Claudio was there more in the seventies.  I did not work with him directly, though of course I’d heard of him.  I mean, he’s made such an incredible contribution, not only in the Enneagram but also in Gestalt work.  But, you know, Stan Grof, R D Laing were there, Timothy Leary, you know, John Lilly, the wild ones!

Iain:  It was a place, wasn’t it?

Jessica:  It was the place.  My focus really was on discovering – along with Chris Price and Dick Price – really working with myself and others, opening ourselves up to what really we’re experiencing if we let the masks down; basically, if we really allow ourselves.

Iain:  Was that scary for you?

Jessica:  Ah…  certain feelings were and certain feelings were not.  It was easy to get me to cry.  Anger was a whole other thing and, oh that was a whole other thing!  Anyway, I won’t go into all the details, but I had this dream and I knew if I worked on it with Dick Price… there was an aggressive figure in the dream and I knew he’d ask me to become it and I knew, for two years, he’d been working me up to feeling my anger [laughs] right?  Directly!  And I knew that if I sat on that seat, which he called the ‘open seat’, something unexpected would happen.  So, anyway, for some reason, I ended up on the seat.  Something other than my mind put me on that seat and I remember saying to him, “If I tell you this dream, you’re gonna…” and I started crying.  And he said, “Okay, let’s just go for it.”  So, needless to say, I had this very huge experience of aggression and anger at my own bottled up rage. 

What’s spiritually significant about this, that took on more and more meaning over time, was that, in the middle of feeling rage – and I was probably pounding pillows, I think people might have been holding me, I mean I was furious.  In the middle of it, some inner light of consciousness was there.  And it had a sense of ‘I’ and, I knew, “Ah, I’m experiencing anger and I’m not a killer.”  And I’m in the middle of raging while this is happening and then the feeling was, “I have anger, but I’m not anger.” 

You see, what was so powerful there, I would never have known that if I hadn’t had the space to feel the anger.  I would have pushed it away out of fear of being it.  And by allowing it in this very safe environment with people I loved and trusted, who had a lot of presence, had a lot of integrity, I discovered, “Oh, my God, I have all these experiences, but some part of me is not these experiences.”  That was a very big door.

Iain:  Yes.

Jessica:  A very big door… that’s kept opening, actually.

Iain:  Well, that is the big one, you’re right, because for myself, when that started to happen, that intrigued me even more because that was taking me, “Well, who am I really?  If I’m not all these experiences, these emotions, then who am I?” 

Jessica:  Right, right.

Iain:  Which is the kind of ultimate question, really.

Jessica:  Yes, I get chills when you say that.  I feel touched as you say that.  Maybe that’s why we share a similar path - of the Diamond Approach.

Iain:  So you mention Diamond Approach, again, and of course, Diamond Approach is a school started by Hameed Ali – A H Almaas his writing name – and you met Hameed at a very early stage, didn’t you, before he’d started the Ridhwan School, Diamond Approach work?

Jessica:   Yes, yes.  As we were talking about earlier, you know, because of my childhood, I was so fundamentally disembodied.  The technical language would be ‘disassociated’.  I don’t know, I was so in my own mental realm that the movement through organising the story - mental realm, larger mental realm – Jungian, feeling realm - Gestalt work, but Dick Price and Chris were very bodied centred Gestalt practitioners. 

So, I wasn’t living at Esalen yet, so I was looking for a Gestaltist to continue my work, up in the Bay area, and I couldn’t find one that was body centred.  So, someone suggested I find a Reichian therapist, someone who works with the breath and the body and emotions and a friend said, “Why don’t you start working with Hameed Ali?”  And I met Hameed.  I actually saw him at a social gathering and he had the kindest face.  And the other thing I realize at this moment - as we’re talking about bodies - he walks with a cane because he had polio and I remember thinking to myself, “He will understand me” because I’d been in this body cast for three years and I had a very crippled self image.  So, I chose him.  And I had no idea he was a spiritual teacher.  So, the first couple of years, I just would go, you know, lie down, do the breathing work, have different emotions, feel my body more and more, unwinding and opening and then I noticed, he started asking me questions that nobody had ever asked me before.

Iain:  Such as…? 

Jessica:  Such as, I can remember this one time he asked me, I mean I’d been breathing, belly, chest, he said, “What are you feeling in your chest?”  And I said, “Nothing.”  Now, in the past, someone would have gone to something, or had me breathe more, so I had something more to report and he said to me, “What’s the nothing like?”  And I can just remember just rolling my eyes and looking up at him and saying, “Hameed, what is nothing like?  Nothing is nothing.”  So, he’s sitting there and in his very kind way, he goes, “Well, is it a light nothing, or a dark nothing?”  That was the most outrageous question anyone had ever asked me.  He said, “Is it a light nothing, or a dark nothing?”  And the impact of that question was… I had to really… I’m kind of shutting my eyes and really sense much more immediately and carefully.  I remember saying, “It’s a dark nothing.”  And he said, “Well, what’s it like?” 

In describing the indescribable nothing, something opened and I actually recognized I was feeling a kind of spaciousness in my chest.  That was like I’d taken some acid or something… [it] opened up this other door and over time, I recognized - where you and I might be talking and I might ask you this or that - he’d suddenly go, ”Did you notice over here?  What about that?”  And so his questions - in Gestalt you’re not supposed to ask questions - opened up these other realms that made me appreciate at a whole other level, that continues to have me appreciate at a whole other level, that what I am, what you are, what everything is, is way beyond our normal mode of perception and understanding.  If you ask the right question, if you slow down enough to sense and feel.  Reality reveals things that a young girl from New York never suspected.

Iain:  You gave me some really comprehensive notes before the interview, which were really helpful.  I’m just going to read something which really interested me because, from the early sessions with Hameed, you wrote that he was helping you to awaken to the beginning of a recognition of different levels and dimensions of being present.  Present in name, present in feeling, present in body, present in consciousness.  Can you say something of those different levels of presence?

Jessica:  I think it’s just a very simple way of saying it - when I began to recognise, as my own sense of self started being released from just my history.  What I recognise, is that I go to a party and I know my name, I know who my parents are.  I could say, “Ah, I’m here, I’m at the party.”  And then, I noticed, that as I learned about feelings, my sense of this ‘here-ness’ took on another palpable octave, fullness, richness.  It was like, “Oh wow, now I’m really here!”  And then my body and my sensing and my recognising – because I’d been out of my body, so now I’m like in it – I’m going, “I am my body.  Oh my God!”  Now, I’m really, really, really, really here, right?  I’m really here now, full, embodied. 

And then, as the inner realms started opening, first really feeling the inner spaciousness, inner qualities like compassion, strength, I slowly began recognizing they were not just reactive feelings.  There was a palpable feeling of kindness and it was like the sense of ‘here-ness’ took on a whole other texture.  Like now, I’m here, not only in feelings and belly, I’m actually here in presence.  But then it became even more interesting, like, now I started noticing, now I’m in my body, the sense of consciousness, the sense of ‘I’ was less located in my history, like I could hardly remember my history.  Like, self thought or self awareness, less and less and less was attached to history and more and more, it was a feeling of the simplicity of awareness, a kind of palpable [long pause] yes, these things are hard to talk about - a palpable presence that was a new feeling of, “now I’m really here, and what’s here is way more than my history.  It’s coloured by my history, it’s textured by my history.”  So, like the light of the awareness itself… I feel a lot of love right now, actually, as I’m speaking [Jessica is emotionally moved… laughs]…

You’d better ask me a question.  I think I’m on a roll!  [laughs]  Yes.

Iain:  What I’m thinking as you talk, is that, in a way this is very different from what other people sometimes say, that the body can be like an entrapment.  The body is - you get caught and that reinforces the ‘I’, the kind of a narrowness of the human self.  Whereas, your experience has been from your disassociation from your body as a child because of the traumatic experiences and coming back through these different therapies as you did, into the body, and the body not only has started to give you an idea of who you are on a human level, but has expanded it beyond that.

Jessica:  Beautifully said, yes.  And as you say it, I’m in touch with some sadness for people who see the body as a solid object.  I mean, if one takes spiritual teachings really deeply, really seriously… Buddhism, let’s say, emptiness.  What are you talking about?  You know they say, basically, this body can be experienced as transparent, as an open system.  I can feel my body as dissolved and just spaciousness.  I can feel it, as started happening as I was talking about it, as love.  It’s not just an emotion.  And so the body itself is not something separate from being-ness, it’s not something… we’re not just this being that kind of enters the body and we die.  When one takes the spiritual perspective and really hears it fully, then it must include the body.  It must.  The body can’t be separate from your true nature.

Iain:  And importantly, that was your experience, as well.  It was the kind of portal, the gateway for you, wasn’t it?

Jessica:  It was the gateway for me.  It was the gateway for me.   Then it was the gateway for me for the miracle of life, for love manifesting.  We can talk about awareness manifesting, we can talk about appearance and emptiness co-existing.  I mean, there’re so many different ways of talking about it.  And also I realise, each person’s conversation is a contribution because the miracle of what the totality is, no one person can give voice to.  No one enlightenment can give voice to.  Each one of us has a different purpose, different destiny. 

One of the things I’ve come to realise through the path, is a lot of students I work with, I mean especially people who have tough histories, the fact that I walked through that valley and am so okay, from the most disappeared, dark place to really feeling the luminous goodness of reality, is part of my function.

Iain:  But it also took that commitment early on and the courage to follow it through, the determination and the adventure of finding the different therapies that helped you and one thing led to another.  It’s not always a straightforward, easy journey, is it?

Jessica:  [laughs]

Iain:  You have to follow the clues and stay in there…

Jessica:  Right, right.

Iain:  …and stay with the feelings as you were saying.

Jessica:  Basically, it really helps if you’ve got a strong, strong curiosity that won’t be stopped.

Iain: There’s one thing you put in your notes, I also wanted to bring up briefly, that I thought was interesting, was that in the early days you tried meditation and it didn’t work for you.  It took the discovery of the body and the broadening of who you really are until meditation was something important in your life.

Jessica:  Yes, you know it was really interesting for me, contemplating my journey to be here with you today, and I suddenly saw so many people whose path really has been through the classical meditation path and I’m struck by a lot of them having really good parenting – not everybody.  I was already in such aloneness, for me to go sit on a pillow alone, there was too much congestion and suffering in this location [gestures to her body] I couldn’t do it.  It was like I needed to ‘uncongest’ myself to even have enough room. 

I can remember when I was on this two week meditation retreat – I’d already started working with Hameed – I was in so much pain and suffering and I felt like a total failure.  And I went and saw Hameed and went, “Phew!”  And he said, “Jessica, you know, kindness, kindness.” 

Just from the body cast… to be sitting in that posture. “Phew!”  So, I needed - this is my location [pointing to her body] - I needed to open up some space where I could even begin to sit.  You know, I love the Dalai Lama.  He’s one of my inspirations.  He talks about how loved he was, so he’s sitting learning meditation surrounded by love, right?  That wasn’t my beginning.  So when I sat on the zafu, I still was feeling like an empty shell with no love around and the zafu just felt like, basically being in prison and I didn’t have enough inner resources yet to understand the nature of the prison.

Iain:  How long did it take you from first working with Hameed Ali and starting the Diamond Approach work  ‘til you really started to feel that you had a ground that was supporting you and you were really on your way, so to speak?

Jessica:  Good question.  Let’s see… I started with Dick and Chris probably in ’74, met Hameed in ’76.  I would say by the time - probably by ’84, ’85 - I started feeling some kind of palpable inner ground.  And as I say that, I’m also recognising one of the wonders of being graced with living in Big Sur for ten years, was literally all the movement work I did.  It started giving me legs, the walking I did, the hiking.  So I started feeling an internal ground and I started feeling connected to the literal earth ground and it all worked in harmony.

Iain:  Were there any particular breakthroughs you remember that were really important?  Things you did or realisations you had?

Jessica:  Ah, there’s so many.  Do you have a particular level?

Iain:  I’m just very interested in when you had the early adventures.  You were going through the different therapies and then you stayed with the Diamond Approach for thirty years or something, now…

Jessica:  Which is beyond a therapy.

Iain:  Yes, absolutely, it’s almost a way of life, isn’t it?  You talked about one of your first sessions with Hameed.  What were your other really impactful times or some, just one or two as examples?

Jessica:  Well, it’s interesting this comes up.  I can remember my being in dialogue with Hameed and before I had the conversation with him – I think I must have been driving to go see him, or something - and I was doing my practice of sensing my arms and legs and I started going through and said, “Okay, I feel my feelings, I feel my body, I even feel my awareness.”  And I suddenly realised I had no idea who or what I was.  It was the strangest thing.  And so I went into this session or conversation – I don’t remember the context – “Hameed!”  I said, “Hameed!  I feel my body, I feel my emotions, I know what I’m thinking, I feel my awareness, I feel the ‘I’ that’s aware of all these things and I don’t know who I am!”  [laughs]  It was this innocence, right.  And I remember him saying, “I was wondering when you would notice.” [laughs

Iain:  [laughs

Jessica:  I was in a group meeting.  He said those words and all of a sudden the whole room started spinning.  I mean, spinning.  And I fell into this huge black space.  Many, people write about this.  I fell into this huge black – like the black night – space and the stars and I suddenly really felt myself as a point of light and, as I was having that, I remembered that point of light from when I did that anger piece I told you about and I started feeling – and I get chills – that point of light as ‘I’, that was so beyond history and then, over time, that point of light became like an anchor and then it started changing.  And I can remember going, “Where’s the point?  Where’s my point of light?”  Because, it was just space.  And then, it started opening up.  So the thing just keeps opening.  In the Diamond Approach, we call it, ‘open, open-ended enquiry’.  No place is the final resting place.  Anyway, I could just …it just keeps opening.

Iain:  This interests me.  So, who you are is constantly changing and yet you don’t lose your ground of support even though who you are is changing, or who you feel you are, or your experience of who you are is changing, the ground, the being shall we say, is still supporting you.  Is that the case?

Jessica:  Yes, but it’s even more mysterious than that.

Iain:  Yes, go on.

Jessica:  The ground sometimes feels like just dense holding and sometimes it feels like nothing is ground, kind of like the night sky that holds the planets.  From a little girl, feeling the emptiness as totally deficient and void, the emptiness or the spaciousness becomes an openness that creates the space for everything to arise and the openness itself, paradoxically, becomes ground.

Iain:  So what does being awake mean to you?

Jessica:  What is being awake?  It means a love affair with reality.  It means a sense of the grace and luminous that’s at the core of everything that manifests, even hatred.  Even hatred.

Iain:  So, explain that.  When we think of being awake we think, “Well, that’s someone that’s beyond hatred.”  I use the word ‘we’ but that would be my understanding – that it’s moved beyond hatred.

Jessica:  I don’t know … first of all, I don’t believe anything in ‘anything is final’…

Iain:  Okay.

Jessica:  … when I said, “even hatred” - just very quickly - I had been doing a group of people with abuse histories and it was a particularly intense group, particularly intense feelings.  Big compassion came into the room …  and I was furious, about reality.  This was, maybe, fifteen years ago, I don’t know, I’d have to really think about that, and I went to a session with Hameed and I was stomping, I was just furious and, actually, I wasn’t going to touch on this, but what got… and I was furious with a God that would allow…

Iain:  Well, we all go through that sometimes, being furious with God.

Jessica:  Yes, yes, yes, and I had never really fully let myself feel the depth of my fury and Hameed really created the space.  He even went to Gestalt, had me put God on the pillow and as I was in this full thing, my concept of God got revealed as just cardboard, it just dissolved.  It was like ‘Whoa!’ and the room was full of this kind of light of love.  So I went from being totally pissed-off to, “Oh, my God, God is just a concept in my mind.”  My concept of God, it dissolved and what’s here is just incredible love. 

So I left that session.  I’m in this grace and love and it was perfect and I’m driving down the highway in Berkeley, the sun was setting, the colours were pink and golden.  I remembered I had to make a phone call.  In those days there were no cell phones so I stopped, got on a pay phone and there was a parade.  I’m telling my friend, “Life is incredible!  My God it’s like, my God is beyond God and not only that, there’s a parade happening!”  And the parade – it was Berkeley – was a Ku Klux Klan anti everything parade with people with the white things.  I was shocked and I was like, ”Whoa!” 

And I looked into the eyes of the man leading the parade.  He was saying terrible anti-human being things and his eyes were black points of hatred.  And I just looked and then I - this is my experience - I saw it was like, it’s going to be a weird way of saying it, like that black point of hatred was like the most, any, any, any, any contracted point of love turned in on itself.  And I thought, “What kind of childhood does that boy have?”  And so the recognition was, is that love is more primary than hatred and hatred is, in a certain way, the result of being so cut off from love even in the human form.  Whether you’re feeling it at the cosmic level or not, that, um… anyway, I could, I should stop here [laughs]… I’m on a roll.  Anyway, that’s all I want to say about that.

Iain:  What do you feel is most helpful for you these days in, let’s call it, your journey?  You mention it’s an on-going process that, who you are is changing, does change from time to time.  Do you have a practice that you do regularly that is particularly helpful?

Jessica:  My main practice is being present, being aware of what I’m experiencing as intimately and as immediately as I can be, whether it’s a positive state or a negative state and being curious.  Even if it’s a positive experience, like, “Ah, what’s really here?”  If it’s a negative state, “What triggered it?  What’s really here?  What am I taking myself to be right now?  How am I really seeing the other?  Am I really seeing the other?”

So, it’s a certain kind of lived awareness and wonderment about the whole evolution.  Truthfully.  Like my working question right now is – I love these working questions, I have questions.  So, my working question right now is, looking at the whole arc of evolution in time and space, “How does a star gain a heart?”  Or, “What is the purpose and function of the human heart?”  And if we look at the whole movement of evolution, it feels like the human heart is at the forefront of our evolution right now.  Being personal. 

We were talking about the transcendent – really living.  … I don’t get to, just … “Whew!”  I’m not called to just – quote, unquote – be transcendent.  It’s not up to me, in a certain way, what I’m experiencing.

Iain:  Talk more about that.   It’s not up to you what you’re experiencing…

Jessica:  Well, you know, in a certain way it’s like radical openness.  Radical openness, like right now, I’m feeling a lot of grace and really enjoying being here with you.  This is probably the most contact you and I have had.  I’m liking it, I’m feeling pleasure in it, I’m feeling love.  I feel transparency and I feel the goodness with you.  And I feel you’re feeling the goodness with me.  That feels really something evolutionary about that.  It’s my feeling about it.  So, that’s my question.  All the stars are becoming hearts.  And what will creation… what’s the Absolute up to?  What’s the mystery up to?  What’s the…

Iain:   There was one question that I hadn’t written down, which I really wanted to ask you.  We have this … it’s almost like a dilemma in that, we’ve done so many interviews on conscious.tv, Renate and I, and a lot of them have been on non-duality which has been, I won’t say restricted the interview, but it’s been a certain way of looking at things and there’ve been different opinions on how people ‘wake up’.  And a lot of people say, that whatever they do in terms of work and determination and what else, when they did feel they ‘woke up’, then it was a kind of grace of God and all that work they’d done, didn’t really contribute directly to the work of ‘waking up’.  I just wonder what your experiences of you at the times, when you’ve had the breakthroughs.  Is it because of the work?  Did the work contribute?  Or did it happen in spite of the work?  Was it a combination?

Jessica:  That’s a great question.  My lived experience is, there’s no one answer.  For some people, the waking up is just grace.  I think that’s true.  For some people, it’s hard work.  I’m a hard worker.  It’s like, I needed – quote, unquote – to follow the urge, like we call that, that determination, that curiosity, that love of the truth, wherever it takes you.  Why did I have that in my soul?  Not everybody has it.  So we could say, that’s grace.  And, something that felt like a personal ‘I’, chose to engage it.  So I could say, okay, I was in partnership with it and for a long time that is the felt experience.  And other times, I can say that, that feeling of that young girl… she wasn’t seeing herself objectively.  She, herself, wasn’t arising out of the whole.  So, it depends on where you’re located, how you answer that question. 

I don’t know if that’s helpful or not.  My personal experience is that it’s the combination of both.  Like it’s the form working with the formlessness, it’s the sense of the individual soul working with reality.  It’s true nature working through the individual soul.  I mean we could talk about this in so many different ways.  And they’re all valid.

Iain:  And the whole?  There’s also a debate about whether consciousness can evolve.  There’re some people who say, consciousness is consciousness and you become awake, you discover who you are and you’re never changing, all these different ways that people talk about it, the phrases.  And that’s who you are and that’s it.  And there’re other people – and I think you’re in there, the other group - where you feel and you know for yourself, that there is a constant evaluation of consciousness.

Jessica:  I’m definitely in that group, but I would also allow both, you see, because the inner nature of the consciousness and the dynamism that’s unfolding and I do … my own felt sense is evolving.  This conversation you and I are having right now and how we’re experiencing each other and ourselves, having it, is relatively new on the planet.  Certainly between a man and a woman… so, there is within that changing, the unchangeable.  That’s part of the mystery, you see.  That’s part of the openness that the ego mind, the usual mind, can’t think, “How can I have evolution of the unchanging?” 

One way we could say it, is that the forms coming out of the unchanging are evolving in their capacity to express and reveal the full potential of the unchanging in all of this manifestation.  One way we could say it.

Iain:  Well, I think the important thing – I know for myself – the important thing is, it’s following the potential in whatever I feel is me…

Jessica:  Right

Iain:  …and that, like you, it changes over time.  And I think that’s probably the message – not the message so much - but what we try and do at conscious.tv.  It’s about presenting all these different ideas and something, somewhere, it’s moving forward.  Whether it’s moving forward to discover itself or whether it’s moving forward …

Jessica:  … I totally agree with you…

Iain:  …because the universe is always expanding.   We know that scientifically.  So, why shouldn’t consciousness always expand?

Jessica:  That’s my orientation with the unchanging, there.  I mean, I love what you’re doing on conscious.tv.  Having all these different voices, I think it’s just a great service for people.

Iain:  Well, it’s a great adventure.

Jessica:  It is a great adventure.

Iain:  We have about three minutes left.  Is there anything that I haven’t asked you, hasn’t come up and you’d like to just quickly talk about, in the last three minutes?

Jessica:  Well, I think the one sense I’d like to say because I’m feeling it right now, that came up while we were chatting earlier is, back to the body.  I’m really aware of my experience right now, which continues to be very light, transparent, mischievous, that this question of form-formlessness and the mystery of that, from my location, is more completely understood if we include the body because it’s the form we are most intimate with.  That’s what I’d like to say.

Iain:  So we’re born with a body and the body grows and eventually it seems to be that we, hopefully, grow in terms of understanding and our feeling of who we are grows and everything else, and in the end…

Jessica:  As you say that, the image of this death… I was with a friend when she died and we had the great privilege of having her body for three, four days.  And you know, so what I see is, the soul, the consciousness expands.  The body is a living cocoon that’s not separate, for a long time, with the consciousness it nourishes and feeds and is a part of.  And then in death, it does appear the consciousness expands beyond the body.  So, is the body then an object?  Or does the body become a part of the universal soul and the soul and consciousness of the earth?  So, I’ll leave you with that.

Iain:  You leave us with more questions than we started [both laugh]  It’s good.

Jessica:  It’s good, I’m very glad.  Questions are the way.

Iain:  Jessica Britt, thank you very much for coming along to conscious.tv.  Appreciate that.

Jessica:  You’re welcome.  It was a pleasure.

Iain:  And thank you, everyone, for watching us at conscious.tv and I hope we see you again soon.  Goodbye.

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