Russel Williams - Looking Through the Horse’s Eyes
Interview by Iain McNay
Iain: Hello and welcome again to conscious.tv, I’m Ian McNay. My guest today is Russel Williams. Hello Russel.
Russel is a very extraordinary man. He was born in 1921, which makes him 94 years old. So he’s really lived a life in many, many ways. We’re actually in Manchester at the headquarters of the Manchester Buddhist Society of which Russel is the president, although he does say also he’s not a Buddhist so we’ll try and find out how that fits together later. I’m gonna have to condense a lot of this because so many things have happened to Russel over the years, he’s had so much insight, so it would be very hard to get it into one program but we’ll do our best and we’ll se where it goes. And he has a book which he did with Steve Taylor which is called Not I, Not Other Than I, which is partly biographical and partly about how he sees reality and there’s some questions and answers in there as well with some students which is very interesting. So Russel let’s start at the beginning when you were born… because you can remember being born?
Iain: So what do you remember about being born?
Russel: I remember it was not very pleasant at all. Initially, I remember feeling very comfortable and then there was a great deal of pressure as though I was being crushed to death. You might relate it to putting a football through a six inch pipe; the squeezing. And then of course, the pressure releasing and opening out and suddenly one is aware of a sensation, which is totally different to where it was before. One can only say now it was cold.
Iain: It was cold?
Russel: Yes. But one didn’t know that then, it was just an experience, which was not identified. One could see - I remember it was in a long room and there were some windows all along, high up. There was lighting; I didn’t know at the time, but it was gas lighting, a sort of warm yellow light. And there were sounds, like blows. And then one took in air, that cold air, and then it was freezing inside. One had been living like a fish in warm fluid and now there was cold air that had no substance, so it was really brutal. It’s only later we know to put names to these things but these were truly experiences. But strangely one didn’t see or experience it as suffering or discomfort; there were no such thoughts, merely a sense of difference. That’s a strange thing isn’t it?
Iain: It is and from the conversation we were having before we started recording that is very much the way you experience now; things are just the way they are.
Russel: Exactly, exactly, I’ve gone back to that aspect. But now you see I can identify things as well, but I don’t need to, because the experience is sufficient in itself.
Russel: So that’s the way I remember it - birth is not a pleasant thing. I wonder sometimes if the fear of death is not death itself, but the innate knowing of the rebirth that follows.
Iain: So what happens is, we’re born and we have sensational experience but we don’t …
Russel: The consciousness is there without thought. Therefore thought is not consciousness.
Iain: So there’s no names, there’s no judgement, good or bad… just the way things are.
Russel: Just experience. Just experience.
Iain: And then over time, two, three years or whatever, then we start to…
Russel: Then one begins to appreciate things as a ‘bio entity.’ One is taught to be a somebody, if you follow me. It’s all taught, it’s not there otherwise, and consequently one is taught to identify things: a table, a chair, a person or whatever. You get taught these things, otherwise you’d never know. For instance, unless somebody explained it to you, how would you know what a lemon was?
Iain: What a lemon was?
Russel: Yes. You’ve never seen one, you’ve never heard of one, but people talk about them and you have no idea what they’re referring to. Then someone offers you one, you experience it and now you do know what a lemon is. See what I’m getting at? You experience it and then you can identify it. Without the experience there is nothing to identify.
Iain: Yeah and I’m just remembering and I’ve read in the past about tribes, very basic tribes in South America that are relatively undiscovered, they see things that we don’t see and the other way round we see things that they don’t see and it’s very much what we are taught.
Russel: That’s right. Yo recognise and appreciate special experiences is almost a language in itself without word identification.
Iain: So it’s all conditioning really.
Russel: Yes exactly.
Iain: Because you write in the book that when you were young you were very poor, but you were also very happy…
Russel: Oh yes.
Iain: …because you didn’t know that poor was bad.
Russel: No, of course we didn’t. When you’re born into it, that’s all there is and you’re quite content to be that way. When you get more - that’s where the problems begin because then you want even more [laughs].
Iain: And you had a happy family and your parents were happy together?
Russel: They were very nice. I couldn’t have had better parents. Unfortunately they were both never very healthy. That’s one of the tragedies of life, but there it is. Had it not been that way I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m grateful to them. Extremely grateful, I only wish I could tell them.
Iain: And you were never afraid?
Iain: Why do you think that was?
Russel: I don’t know. I’ve never been afraid of anything other than myself.
Iain: What do you mean by that… ‘Other than yourself’?
Russel: Later, as I became a little older, we were living in Palestine, and my mother was in a sanatorium in Lebanon. My father went up to visit her and I was preparing a meal for myself and my brother and sister, and it dawned on me that there was something about this suffering that I ought to know about. I knew the obvious physical things - my father was gassed in the war, his lungs were gone, my mother had consumption. Okay, these are illnesses, but there was something beyond that, and I wanted to find out what it was. I didn’t know how to; I didn’t know how to approach it in any way. I was frustrated and that made me very angry.
Iain: How old were you at this time?
Russel: Nine. Nine years old
Iain: So you knew that things weren’t right.
Russel: That’s right and I couldn’t understand why, so I had put to put it to one side. But it was frustrating. And from there on things became very, very difficult.
Iain: Because you were close to death?
Russel: On many occasions.
Iain: Many times… you almost drowned several times.
Russel: And I was never afraid. It was always accepting - ‘Okay, this is the way it is.’
Iain: The story I like most about you getting in a dangerous situation was with the elephant, when you were five years old.
Russel: Oh that! Yes this was just before we went to Palestine. My grandfather on my mother’s side lived about half way between Tilbury and London. There was a little turning on the main road that led to a little village called Aviary. Opposite there was a huge sand and gravel pit where my grandfather worked. He’d bought some old army huts - Nissan huts - from the previous war and turned them into tearooms. They were on a plot of land about half an acre. Now this was a time when the King of Siam had sent a white elephant to our King and to keep it company sent a grey one with it. They were walking from Tilbury to London and stopped there.
Iain: It’s just extraordinary that elephants would walk along the road to go to…
Russel: Well that’s right. They didn’t transport them in those days; they had to walk. We all had to, virtually, unless we had horses… So they spent the night on this plot, drove some stakes in the ground and tied the elephants to the stakes to sleep overnight. And the dog that I assumed was mine in those days, because we were constant companions…
Russel: Tinker. He got a bit a bit upset and started barking and got too close to the elephants. One picked him up and threw him. He yelped and I started pummelling the elephant with my fists. [Laughs]
Iain: You were hitting the elephant? No fear?
Russel: No fear, just anger. [Laughter]
Iain: We don’t have time to go into all the details of that but I feel that’s a lovely story. And then sadly when you were eleven years old both your parents died.
Russel: Dad died first. I’d just turned ten and things were in very bad straits. Being older than me, my brother joined the navy. He got a good education out of that; in fact he stayed with the navy for thirty-five years. But I insisted I had to go to work to help mother so I had to leave school. I was given special dispensation to allow me to work at that age. But after I’d been working for about two months, mother died, she was so ill. Strangely, I knew the precise moment when both of them died. I was well aware of it, I felt it and I was happy because I knew they were free. I sensed it in here, inside me.
Iain: So you knew that they were dying even though you hadn’t been told that they were dying?
Russel: Oh yes, oh yes. It was a great relief. It made me happy to know that they were out of it.
Iain: To be out of their suffering?
Russel: Yes, I knew they weren’t dead. Their bodies had died, but I knew they were still alive. How I knew, I don’t know.
Iain: Yes, they were alive somewhere.
Russel: How I knew I don’t know. Just one of those things…
Iain: And then you had to go to work.
Russel: I was already working.
Iain: But you had to support yourself.
Russel: Oh yes, that was even more difficult. I started on ten shillings a week, which was not a lot even in those days. You needed at least a pound a week to live on. I had to do all sorts of things morning till night. I eventually finished up on a trawler because that fed me and watered me. But then I had an accident and that ended.
Iain: So you were fishing on a trawler out to sea and that was hard wasn’t it?
Russel: Very. Very hard indeed.
Iain: I don’t think we appreciate these days how hard it was for people in those days in the 1920’s and 30’s.
Russel: We don’t know what real poverty is these days. You didn’t know when your next meal was coming or if you’d have one.
Iain: Can you remember… were you aware of a life force, or a drive that kept you going.
Russel: There’s something that keeps you going under all circumstances - survival instinct I would call it. There was never any thought of giving up. You carried on in some fashion or other until you got through, somehow, somewhere. You didn’t know where you were going. You were trying to get away from where you were, from your predicament.
Iain: The human spirit we could maybe call it?
Russel: Exactly. You would do anything in order to survive. Survival is the thing.
Iain: Then the war broke out and you started...
Russel: That was my salvation to a degree [laughing].
Iain: Yeah you talk in the book about enjoying the army; it kept you out of trouble?
Russel: Yes it did.
Iain: And it gave you stability, food and shelter and it taught you self-discipline with your emotions.
Russel: Yes that’s right, very much so. You would never believe the state that the country was in at that time. I joined the army as a volunteer January 1940. The BEF were still in France at the time. I joined in Hammersmith and they gave me 24 hours to wind up my affairs and join them properly.
Iain: Yes. And then you also talk in the book about how you were at Dunkirk.
Russel: Yes that was by accident.
Iain: Yeah. For people who don’t know, Dunkirk was when the British army was surrounded by Germans and there was an operation to evacuate.
Russel: Yes, and it should never have happened. Everyone who came back said the same thing. They all ran out of supplies and ammunition.
Iain: You were on a small boat, and you went out…
Russel: We were on a small boat, we went out three days and nights ferrying soliders from the beaches out to the destroyers or frigates. We didn’t take them to land at all, we took them to the boats, in and out, in and out, in and out.
Iain: They were lining up and you picked them up in small boats.
Russel: Each boat went at their own speed as best they could because these were only river boats. They weren’t made for sea, but fortunately the sea was quite calm. We loaded as many soldiers as we could, but didn’t have much leeway. Any sudden pressure and we’d get swamped. The first trip was okay; it was the second one where the problems started, the Focke-wulfs and the Messerschnitss. And then came the Stukkas, the Dive-bombers and the shells coming over.
Iain: So there’s planes coming down and they’re machine gunning...
Russel: The stukkers, the dive-bombs, they had sort of sirens on them and as they stooped to come in they made a huge noise and you’d see them coming at you. At about 500 feet they dropped their bomb on you…[becomes emotional] Thank you. We’ll leave it there, if you don’t mind. Even to this day it affects me.
Iain: It brings up emotions. Yeah. Okay, and then shortly after it was the Blitz?
Russel: Yes I became company manager in that period of time. We had some platoons on the docks, at Harlesden. We had some on Barnsbridge, and some in the central telegraph office, up on the roof, with machine guns up there. During the Blitz they kept losing their bases and had to find new quarters to stay in, and I had to make sure they got their food and everything they needed. So I was always constantly on the move. I went for quite a few days without sleep in those times because it was so urgent. I had a bicycle at first but I chucked it away. There was so much rubble in the streets I couldn’t ride it.
Iain: It must have been so disorientating.
Russel: It was as though we had to make order out of chaos, as you might say, but we managed it.
Iain: Yes. You also got electrocuted…
Russel: I was working at an airfield and had to go and inspect the state of the transformers where the mains come in to the airfield. Obviously there was weathering on it because it was only a brick built thing with an iron gate, with no true roof, so it was exposed to the weather. They thought it would probably need a paint job, you know? So I went in to have a look around and I brushed against the shed and got caught. We didn’t know the insulation had been broken down, so I copped it and it threw the body across the whole three cables and 33,000 volts shot out. The last thing I remember as it went out was saying ‘Oh God, I’ve had it’ Quiet as that. No thought about it. And then I was way out in space. I became aware of a great light and then thought, ‘There’s something funny about this.’ I realised it was me. I was the light.
Iain: So you were out and you were this great light.
Russel: It was me. It may have been a million miles, I don’t know. There was just enormous space and this light and I realised that I was the light. And then something dawned in the consciousness. Without words, implied that there was something that needs to be done. I had to go back. And from the position looking down, I could see this body lying like a little doll, this body lying across these cables. The alternative was to carry on through and get born again. I had a choice.
Iain: So you knew you had a choice to either get born again, or go back in your body.
Russel: It seemed there was an urgency of some sort. I didn’t know why or what. And I thought, well in that case we’ll get the body going again because it’s already mature. It would take time to get born and go through the whole process again. So I went and got it back. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, to take a breath into that body in order that it could escape from the paralysed situation in which it was. One breath and it was out - puff. I became aware that my clothing was smouldering and the shoes of my boots were smouldering but my body was untouched. How do you account for that?
Iain: It’s remarkable isn’t it?
Russel: I can’t - even to this day it’s unbelievable.
Iain: 33,000 volts…
Russel: That applies to other situations too - I don’t know how or why, but I wasn’t allowed to die.
Iain: But you had to get a new pair of boots did you?
Russel: I did [laughs].
Iain: So you realised you needed to rethink your life. You had a new starting point. You had a job but you felt that you didn’t want to go on like this.
Russel: You see, whilst we’d been working I’d made plans with a colleague to start up a small electrical repair business because through the war there were so many electrical parts that had been collected and needed dealing with. So I said, ‘Ok I’ll start there’. But when it came to VE Day, I resigned. I said to my pal, ‘I’m sorry I can’t do this. It won’t do me.’ And then I looked at many different avenues I might have taken. With each one, I knew it wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go. So I took to the road. I was a mess, mentally, emotionally, physically. I just took off. I wanted to get away from myself and everything else. I wanted to know, perhaps then I could clarify things. I don’t know how long I walked.
Iain: You just walked with no idea where you were going?
Russel: I just walked from where I was with a couple of shillings in my pocket, nothing else, and the clothes I wore. That’s all, just walked. I just wanted to get away from my self and everything else.
Iain: You slept in haystacks?
Russel: It’s very hazy. It’s very hazy. I remember one time when I was naked sitting on the bank of a stream, watching my clothes dry in the sunshine on the other bank on the other side. I’d washed them. I remember painting a fence for somebody, for a sandwich and a cup of tea. I just walked and walked. I remember once shovelling snow outside New Street Station in Birmingham just for a day’s pay, with a few others, down and outs. I remember peeling potatoes, digging them up out of the ground. One day I remember when it was icy cold I dug a swede out of a farmer’s field with my fingers. It lasted me for three days.
Iain: And so for several weeks you just walked and did odd jobs?
Russel: Yes. And then one beautiful sunny day I was walking across the moors in Devon and I came across a showman sitting in his broken down van. He was sitting on the steps having a pot of tea and offered me one as I approached. He offered me a job if I could get to Newquay by morning, about seventy miles away. He gave me a meal and a note to take with me. He’d started a tiny circus. He’d borrowed four animals to go and his children were acrobats, and so on. Somehow I made the seventy miles and met them as they were leaving. And I was with them until the end of the season. Then I took a job in Chesterfield, looking after horses.
Iain: And you formed this special relationship with the horses.
Russel: You can’t not love these animals when you live with them, day and night. You live with them, you sleep with them, 24 hours a day, and you can’t not care. I thought if I could understand their true nature, I could care for them even better. And I set myself that task, to understand their nature, without allowing myself to form any opinions whatsoever. That took a bit of doing, but after three months I stopped thinking.
Iain: For three months you just focused on the animals?
Russel: For three months I just focused on them, just observing feeding, grooming, doing whatever had to be done without thinking about it. It was just so natural. Then another three years went by and one morning, in September, we were in at Doncaster, for the last tenting of the season. I was there on the camp bed, I woke up and looked across at an animal, and there was steam coming out of its nostrils. The next thing I know, I was looking through the eyes of the horse, and feeling it and knowing it as if consciousness had transferred. It was wonderful, and very strange. Then I looked at the lions, and knew them in the same way. Then one of the Alsatians came out and I knew that too. I looked across and saw a tree and knew that too. Then I looked into my own being - it was just the same, no different. Just conscious life itself, nothing else. At that point all the emotional aspects disappeared. I was in total, utter peace. And it’s been that way ever since. Nearly sixty-five years ago I think.
Iain: You were twenty nine then I think?
Russel: I was twenty-nine years old then.
Iain: Yeah. Yeah. But I’m interested to just go into a little more detail, so you looked through the eyes of a horse and it’s as if you were the horse.
Russel: Yes, and I see my own body lying on its bed.
Iain: You saw your own body?
Russel: Yes that’s how I know I was looking through the horse. Yes.
Iain: And you did the same with the dog?
Russel: I saw it and felt it. I did the same with the dog and the lion and the tree.
Iain: So you were in the tree.
Russel: They were all the same thing. They’ve all got the same source. It’s amazing isn’t it?
Iain: It’s extraordinary, yes
Russel: It’s beyond thought, it’s beyond understanding. But I know it to be true.
Iain: And how did that impact your life?
Russel: It was totally, utterly different. Prior to that, I was angry with myself. But now I knew now what I had to know. I realised that this related to when I got electrocuted. It was what I was meant to come back for, although I didn’t know yet what I was supposed to use it for. I hadn’t a clue.
Iain: So when you were electrocuted you felt very peaceful and serene when you were outside of your body?
Russel: I was totally at peace out there but there was something to be done. Now there was nothing to be done. I wondered, ‘What’s all this about?’ But I thought ‘Okay, well l’ll be shown when it’s necessary. I’ll trust that.’ So another seven years went by before I found who knew what I was talking about. Wherever I travelled around, I approached the local clergy and people like that, but they had no idea what I was talking about.
Iain: They didn’t understand what you were saying. [Pause] I want to go back Russel to the horses because something happened with the horses after your opening. You could heal the horses, or feel when they were distressed?
Russel: What happened was, as the horses were moving about we used to let the horses loose in the fields, if we were able to. And on one occasion one of the animals unfortunately stamped down on to a broken bottle and was in great pain. And as I approached it, it trusted me. If you try to take out little bits of glass in a load of blood it’s a hell of a messy job! [Laughs] But the horse let me do it. I managed to get it all out with the pliers, plugged it up and actually went down to the blacksmiths to get a new shoe made in order to slide the leather in underneath to hold the dressing in, and keep on changing it until it was healed.
Iain: What was happening between you and the horses it was like… they completely trusted you ?
Russel: They trusted me completely. I didn’t know this until we went to Newmarket. We slept there, and built up on the Sunday ready for a show on Monday. I was sitting on a bale of straw, mending a bit of harness, and the boss came in to see the trainers in the stables. They were talking quietly amongst themselves and then one said, ‘Hey what’s happened here?’ I said, ‘What do you mean?” And he said, ‘The horses are laying down!’ I was known as Bill in those days. Someone said, ‘Bill, go outside again’. I did, and the horses stood up. ‘Come back in again.’ And the horses lay down again. They regarded me as one of them.
Iain: They regarded you as…
Russel: ...one of them. When I was on guard duty, I would lay down, and one of them would stand up. One would always stand up.
Iain: You also realised at this time (I’m reading here a chapter from the book) that you saw that space was the most important quality in the Universe, ‘Out of the emptiness things began to materialise’.
Russel: Now that’s something you can’t explain. That is beyond all understanding. It has such a depth of meaning as to be unbelievable. I cannot explain it, but I know it. There is so much in this area that I am so familiar with. And I can’t tell you, there are no words! How do you explain emptiness to anyone? Can you describe it?
Iain: You say in the book that from 29 years on, till your mature 94 years, you only think when it’s necessary.
Russel: That’s right, exactly, and I’m quite happy not to.
Iain: So what happens when you don’t think?
Russel: I’m quite content.
Iain: You’re content and you’re aware?
Russel: Content in the sense that I don’t want anything, I don’t not want anything… I’m perfectly content to be what I am.
Iain: You talk about in the book that beforehand, happiness was something that you were looking for.
Russel: It was, but happiness is the wrong word because it’s one of the conditioned areas which you’re best without. Contentedness is the greater. Happiness depends upon this or that, contentedness doesn’t need anything...
Iain: Contentedness is just a state…
Russel: It’s outside of the conditioned area!
Iain: Do you think it’s possible to find this contentedness without having the experience and the realisation of being one with everything?
Russel: It is possible for people to quietly come to it without any great experience, if they’re prepared to begin to see. Start with thinking and the minimum aspect of understanding which then provides the guideline, and then following it through to become more consciously aware by feeling. You can make the transfer from one to another and within that you will find it. You have to move away from all conditioned areas without any form of emotion of any kind.
Iain: That implies there is a process of moving away, is that really the case?
Russel: Oh yes, it can be followed by anyone. This is the most important s thing in your life: the way in which you live. Oneself is the main interest for anybody in this world.
Russel: Now, why do we do anything? Because we’re not satisfied with what we are.
Iain: We do certain things because we need to, we need to eat, we need to sleep…
Russel: Well, we think we need. Do we really need, or do we really want? There’s a big difference. Needs are very, very few. Wants are enormous. Can you distinguish between the two?
Iain: It’s a good question!
Russel: Here’s another thing: have you ever lived your own life? No. On this basis there are very few people who have ever lived their own lives. If you meet someone who’s angry and makes an angry point, do you become irritated and angry? Do you take on their condition? Do you not carry it a little while and then pass it on to somebody else as well? Who started it? Was it you or did you borrow their condition? See what I’m getting at? We’re sharing these things the whole time and not really living our own lives! Would you say there is a particular mode in which you live which is you? Are you the same person that lives in anger as what you are now?
Iain: But you see my more fundamental question is: do we have a life to live?
Russel: Not as an entity, no. There is no entity. As I see it, there is only consciousness. All else is delusion. Yes, there’s a physical body here. It was conditioned to a great extent and it was very unhappy. It’s now unconditioned and knows darn well that when this body dies it will be totally free.
Iain: When you had the realization - you had the experience at 29 - was there any kind of process of letting go, or of integration?
Russel: It had already let go, it didn’t have to come back. It knows when this is released it will have to go and not come back again.
Iain: In your book, you talk about all your frustration and anger going…
Russel: All gone, all gone.
Iain: Did all the programming go at the same time?
Russel: When the realisation dawned, it all disappeared. It didn’t come back in the body. There was some sort of knowing what the true reality was, though I didn’t understand it at the time. Looking back I can appreciate it for what it really was: a great depth, without any form of conditioning whatsoever. This was so utterly peaceful that you can’t imagine it. That has stayed with me. It was no longer me as an entity. I had a great identity. It was an angry one, motivated by all kinds of emotions, but that doesn’t happen anymore. All it has is a great deal of concern and love for all things. And I am that quality. I am not a person anymore. But if there is someone in need, it responds to that. I don’t know how it does it, it’s beyond my understanding. I don’t have to understand it. I know it works, that’s all and I accept that.
Iain: So I know that in this house where we are, Steve Taylor has told me you talk a couple of evenings a week.
Russel: Yes, whenever possible for me to do so, sometimes I maybe ill and not able to…
Iain: Okay, what actually happens between you and the people? Some of them are here now.
Russel: Ask them, ask them.
Iain: Well, the camera is not set up for that. What is your experience?
Russel: Well, I look from here... so I can’t tell you precisely, but I see a lot of people sitting here who seem to be rapt in what they’re looking at.
Iain: What do you mean by rapt?
Russel: They’re in thrall. They seem to be in that condition and they say nothing. I ask them and they say nothing.
Iain: They’re in a kind of trance?
Russel: Almost as if they’re in a kind of trance. I don’t know what they’re looking at. I’m looking deeper into them and I know they’re so at peace within themselves in these moments it doesn’t really matter. I know they’ll pick up everything as they go on.
Iain: The same way as you could look into the horses’ eyes. Do you do that with people?
Russel: Oh yes.
Iain: Are you looking into my eyes now?
Russel: No, I don’t need to look into your eyes because I’m looking at you by feeling and not by seeing.
Iain: And that is something that happens automatically with you?
Russel: Yes, I don’t make it happen. This is the wonderful thing that I find. As you know, people live at all levels - consciousness, thought, emotion. And this will adjust to whatever level is needed. I don’t know how it does it. I think one of the strange things is (and I think you may find confirmation of this) is that I can’t talk to a group. I can only talk to one person at any one point in time at their particular level, no matter how high or low it is. And yet at the same time everybody else - the whole group - gains from it. I don’t know how it does it.
Iain: So there’s a focus between you and one person.
Russel: It would appear to be and then it just spreads out, like light. I don’t know how it happens, I’m not aware of the processes. All I’m aware is, it works!
Iain: One of the other things you talk about in the book is that when you’re with someone you’re totally with them. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a shop buying something. It’s a state of total attention with the other.
Russel: Yes. It’s only them and the process. Shall we put it this way: in the Buddhism aspect, they talk of mind-ful-ness. Mindful? Actually it means an empty mind so that whatever the focus is, it fills it completely, utterly. Therefore within that utter fulfilment all the qualities which are there within That are here in this, and this doesn’t’t exist - there’s only That, in here. Does that make sense?
Iain: It does actually!
Russel: Strangely it does, doesn’t’t it? It’s so natural. But how often do people give their full attention to things? There’s too much clutter, only half your attention here, and a bit over there, and a bit somewhere else...
Iain: I think, Russel, there are two things here and maybe I stand corrected. There’s me giving you my attention and I can do that through mindfulness, through concentration, and then there’s me being in a spacious space without the me so much, and there is attention happening, they’re different things!
Russel: Well, can I put it in this way: you for the moment are concentrated here on this. Does it fill your mind?
Iain: Well,... there’s a mental effort because I have to get used to your voice…
Russel: But then there is just this, operating momentarily within your perception
Iain: I’m fully concentrated on what’s happening here.
Russel: Okay fine, okay, whilst that full concentration is there, are you really there, or is there only That?
Iain: That’s a deep question…
Russel: Yes, isn’t it?
Iain: Say it again!
Russel: If your mind is full of this, how can you be full of self? Have you not given yourself away?
Iain: Well, there’s still... you see Russel, the problem is, there are still preferences running.
Russel: Then you’re not fully there then.
Iain: As much as I can be!
Russel: Yes, you see when it’s wholly there, there is only That. There’s no me, there’s only you. So I disappear in that because there’s only That. I think we can go back to something the Buddha taught to an old man a long time ago: ‘In the seeing there is only that which is seen. In the hearing there is only that which is heard’ and so on. Does that makes sense? Only that which is seen. What do you see? What do you hear? You’re seeing things, you’re hearing sounds, that’s all. Do they have any meaning except what you emotionally make of them?
Iain: Yes if I‘m cold, or the body is cold, or the body too hot, that has meaning. The state of the body…
Russel: Yes, someone is attached to the feeling. It made it mine, through clinging. You see, all these aspects are there - of course they’re there, nobody said they’re not. But do you have to make them mine?
Iain: Maybe that’s a good place to finish: they’re all there, but I don’t have to make them mine! [Russel laughs] I’m going to show your book again which you wrote with Steve Taylor who’s sitting here next to the camera: Not I, Not Other Than I. As I said in the beginning it’s great because there are so many interesting stories about Russel’s life as well as some transcripts of some of his sessions with students, which also are very revealing in many ways.
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