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David Bingham - Non-Dual Pointing - Part 1

Interview by Iain McNay

Iain:         Today’s guest is David Bingham. And it’s an interesting little story with David, because we get a lot of emails and phone calls and letters into Conscious TV, people wanting to appear or recommending someone they know should be on Conscious TV; and David wrote in. He didn’t say he wanted to appear, but it was just interesting what he said in his first email, and we followed that up and had a few phone conversations between the two of us. He hasn’t got a book out, he’s not really a practitioner of any kind, he doesn’t lecture, he doesn’t do sessions, he’s actually an artist. The state that he’s in is a very interesting state, so we’ve invited him along here - I think his first TV - and we’ll just see how it goes. So welcome, David.

David:      Thank you.

Iain:         Thanks for coming along. So, whereabouts are you in yourself? It was very interesting what you wrote, because you seem to be in a place which we would call ‘self-realisation/non-duality’ - but I don’t know how you would describe it for yourself.

David:      Well, I like the term self-realisation because it’s a realisation of what is already the case for us all, and I like to keep it quite simple because the opportunity for self-realisation is something that is openly available now. In the story of human history it has been something that has appeared in the distant past, or something only other people have, or something you have to achieve after a long time of spiritual practice. But the way consciousness is unfolding, the opportunity for self-realisation is something that everyone can now attain.

Iain:         Because, that’s right, it used to be that this was a special state and you had to live in a mountain for several years and a lot of them actually became hermits, or they were gurus. And now it seems that it’s happening more to fairly ordinary people, even British people.

David:      Absolutely. And I think that’s how it starts. It seems as though it’s something that’s wonderful and amazing, and then there’s a realisation that people from your own country have actually made the shift, and then people that you know, and then you think, “Well, hang on a minute - maybe there’s a chance for this to happen here as well”. And so the whole process is actually going on by itself and, in the story of human awakening, the opportunity is there very widely now. And if you look at the story of the way the world appears to be, it’s probably required. I think it’s something that could make a massive difference, because it is realisation of one’s true nature.

Iain:         Yes, we’re talking now towards the end of 2008, and… the last few months have been a pretty hairy time in the outside world, yes. So let’s just run through in the first few minutes what happened in your life up to where you are now. One thing you were telling me earlier was that you were… you can remember being very young and being like in a state of oneness; and something changed, I think, when you were about four years old, where you started to realise you were actually separate.

David:      Yes. Up until the age of about four, things seemed really wonderful and I just felt in a great space. Then there was a shift in circumstances and the point of separation was very clear. I think for everyone there’s a period of time where you feel just really comfortable. If you look at photographs of children, especially up to the age of two, you can look into their eyes and see that they’re in absolute total ecstasy, and there’s a sense of completion, there’s no problem; and in that state, there’s nothing wrong at all.

Iain:         But they are crying sometimes. They’re not in ecstasy then, are they?

David:      Well, they’re crying because there’s a physiological need. Usually it’s because they need some food or something, but the awareness in which they’re residing has no ruffle or strain or discomfort. The story we all take part in, in human life, is to move from the state of complete integration, through a cycle of separation - or apparent separation (because it actually has never taken place) -and to return again to full knowing of our true nature...

Iain:         Right.

David:      ...and in the way human life has been, in known history I would say, there hasn’t been the opportunity to complete the cycle, other than for very few. Whereas that opportunity is there now: to return to a point of knowing rather than seeking.

Iain:         Right. Just to keep in this sequential thing to start with, just to keep it in context with you as the human side.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         So you were also saying that at the age of ten, you started to feel this sense of expansion; that something started to change for you a little bit then.

David:      Yes, there was an experiential thing then. It happened when I went to bed. There would be settling down to sleep and then, just before sleep, there would be a sense that awareness expanded beyond the boundaries of the body. There was still awareness of a body lying in a bed, but the consciousness seemed to expand beyond that. It was a sense of stillness and peacefulness and at the time it just seemed totally normal - which it is, because there is no boundary; there is no boundary in consciousness. So for that to be experienced is quite commonplace, and that’s how it felt at the time.

Iain:         Did you speak to other kids about it or you just kept that to yourself?

David:      No, I didn’t at all. It was just something that happened and it wasn’t something I drew attention to. I didn’t even tell my parents or my family.

Iain:         So you thought it was kind of normal that other people felt the same thing as you?

David:      Yes. I remember other people saying that they sometimes had this experience where there was a loss of a sense of scale. There’s a feeling that the hands could be 300 feet across; there’s a total loss of scale. I’d heard things like that, so I thought it’s just an experience within consciousness, within awareness.

Iain:         Right. And then at the age of twenty-two, I think, something else happened to you, didn’t it? Your thinking process stopped and you suddenly felt this stillness and peacefulness.

David:      That was the beginning of a search. I was working away one evening on a painting and it started to flow in a way where there wasn’t much effort involved. I noticed that by just allowing, just following a feeling, there was a moving into a space where the work went by itself. Accompanying that was a state of complete stillness; the mind just sort of went flat. There was a feeling of elation, a feeling of total stillness, but also the work was going by itself or with very little effort. I then realised that something exists beyond the mind, some level of functioning that isn’t through the mind. Around that time - I suppose coincidentally, you could say - I discovered that my history of art tutor was a teacher of meditation, so the following year I learnt meditation, because I wanted to know more of this.

Iain:         Right. And what was the first type of meditation that you learnt?

David:      I learnt TM, which was a very powerful meditation practice, and immediately had some great experiences, very similar to the experiences I’d had when I was ten years old and those I had as a student. It was a total stilling of the mind; a sense of consciousness expanding beyond the boundaries of the body; and also experiences of bliss. And so there was a state... a state of moving beyond the mind, beyond sensory experience, beyond any sense of looking for fulfilment in the world, but realising that the happiness we’re looking for is inside.

Iain:         Yes, well, that’s quite a deep, deep realisation to have at that stage in meditating; the beginning stage. And you were doing your TM twice a day, twenty minutes in the morning and in the evening?

David:      Yes. And then the whole concept of enlightenment was introduced; the idea that an individual, by spiritual practice, by meditation and observing certain routines and lifestyles, can refine and develop experiences. Then there’s a moving towards enlightenment. My understanding at the time was that there’d be a point where all experiences would join together and there would be an eternal state of happiness and permanent separation from the field of activity. So the consciousness that one resides in is experienced as separate from activity.

Iain:         So you felt that you as an individual, David, were moving towards a state called enlightenment, yes?

David:      Towards something in time. I continued with the practice for about a twenty-year period. There was a refinement of experience, but there was also a level of duality. It was with reference to a particular type of teaching which involved taking on board concepts and ideas and practices. So with that was a dependency; it was almost like a parent-child relationship. You feel safe because you can look to your master because he always has the answer. If there’s something you don’t know, you can always look to him.

Iain:         And were you staying with TM throughout that whole time?

David:      Yes, I was.

Iain:         It worked for you from the beginning and you stayed with it?

David:      Yes. Although after about twenty years of that practice, the surface of my life began to change. There was some turbulence and some different things happening, but also the feeling that in terms of three score years and ten, having undergone that process for twenty years, it may not be possible to reach the goal in this lifetime. I started to think, “Well, hang on, is there something I can do to speed up this process?”

Around that time, there was some emphasis on making the distinction between concepts and non-conceptual awareness. Also the key thing - which became foremost for me - was the realisation that one’s own inner knowing is the thing to go by; and that was actually part of the TM teaching. Being self-referral was the key thing. So even though there are different practices and techniques available, the selection of which one to use comes down to one’s own inner knowing; so using intuition.

Iain:         So just explain when you’re talking about concepts and non-conceptual awareness; just explain that briefly.

David:      OK. Well, concepts are what most people are familiar with. For example, “Meditation leads to enlightenment” is a concept.

Iain:         OK.

David:      And that’s a concept that some people accept. Some people think, “Meditation is a waste of time” - that’s also a concept. Non-conceptual awareness is simply the awareness within which all thoughts and experiences arise.

Iain:         Right.

David:      Non-conceptual awareness has no boundaries. Every concept is a limitation. Every idea, every thought, is closed, is limited.

Iain:         It’s defined somehow, isn’t it?

David:      Yes. Non-conceptual awareness is timeless while concepts seem to exist in time.

Iain:         A beginning and an end almost.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         OK, good. And then you... I think you found Roger Linden, is that right, who we’ve also had on Conscious TV?

David:      Yes. In the late nineties, the surface of my life started to disintegrate. The identification with TM and that whole teaching...

Iain:         It sounds quite a scary process: “the surface of my life started to disintegrate”. Do you want to give a little bit more, explain what happened?

David:      Yes. Because I’d had great experiences with TM, I was fully identified with the technique. It came to an end because there was a realisation that it was necessary to be self-referral, and instinctively I felt I had to go beyond attachment to any particular teaching. Whatever it took, I just had to go beyond those boundaries. It was challenging at first, because the things we know - our family, our religion, our work, etcetera - generate a level of relative security. At this point, there was something deeper coming through and I knew I had to put everything on the line. So that’s what happened; I moved into a new space of losing identification with particular teachings. A sequence of events followed which made it very clear that the most reliable thing we each have is our inner knowing.

Iain:         Yes, but it’s quite brave, because this had worked for you for twenty years or something, and you got to the point where you thought it wasn’t working and you worked with letting it go and almost starting again.

David:      There was a moving towards a self-referral and self- reliant way of being. Also, there were certain conditions around the meditation practice and it wasn’t possible for me to continue. The introduction of my own direction was something that didn’t really fit with the teaching. Meditation is usually most effective when one is focused on a single technique. If you move from one thing to another without a clear direction, it can become very confusing. TM is therefore based on the integrity of a single practice.

Iain:         Yes, absolutely, but I think it’s a tradition in the East, more so than in the West, that you do change teachers after a time. You get to a certain stage and you find this is finished and you move on.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         Anyway, the thing with Roger that I really found interesting, something you sent me to read: he said, “Self-realisation is not an experience”.

David:      Absolutely. That was a real turning point, because the period between the late nineties and early 2005 when I came across Roger’s website was a period of settling into self-honesty, I guess. But the trigger of seeing Roger’s website was a real turning point because I’d known Roger from years before and I knew he was...

Iain:         He was a TM teacher.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         And we interviewed him on Conscious TV and talked about that, yes.

David:      Yes. And I knew Roger to be somebody who was totally reliable, someone who was honest and straightforward. So when I came across his website and he was describing the shift to self-realisation, I knew that that was the case. He isn’t somebody who would say that had happened if it hadn’t.

Iain:         So you read this on his website, “Self-realisation is not an experience”?

David:      Well, he doesn’t say “Self-realisation isn’t an experience” on his website; that came in a one-to-one meeting I had with Roger later in 2005… He left it open, because he said “Self-realisation isn’t an experience”, but I didn’t know what it was, because up to that point everything to me had been experiential.

Iain:         You thought you were moving towards enlightenment, something would happen, you’d be there and that was it.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         That was a big change.

David:      It was. Initially, it appears as though you are an individual moving through time, looking for something called enlightenment. What you eventually see, when the whole thing opens up, is that that sequence was consciousness revealing itself to itself. There’s no personal volition, there’s no personal direction. It’s unfolding in a sequence that’s totally perfect and totally unique to everyone. So everyone has a different story; the way it happens for everyone is different. But what is different now is that it’s becoming available in a way that it’s never been before.

Iain:         So, you did some searching because this statement of Roger’s - in one way it threw you and in another way it encouraged you to look in a different direction?

David:      Yes.

Iain:         And you were trying to find your own way and what he meant, and that led you to listen to a tape of John Wheeler speaking...?

David:      Yes.

Iain:         Is that right?

David:      Yes. I attended only two or three meetings with Roger and went to one or two of Tony’s (Tony Parsons) meetings, as well.

Iain:         Oh right, yes, of course.

David:      There was a speeding up through the summer of 2005, a feeling that things were happening very quickly. Then in October 2005 I had a one-to-one meeting with Roger and he made the statement that “Self-realisation is not an experience”, which was an important key. The period of time between then (which I think was the end of October), and listening to the recording of John Wheeler (which was on 13th November 2005) was very short.

Iain:         Yes, yes.

David:      My intention was to meet with Roger again and continue seeking, but it presented itself in a particular way. A close friend had mentioned John Wheeler and from his website was a link to a radio interview. There was a programme that went out on the West Coast of America called Let’s get Real. And the interviewer, Allin Taylor (who is actually Annette Nibley), was interviewing a number of people, trying to discover what reality was; talking to people where there had been shifts in consciousness.

Iain:         And so, you heard the tape?

David:      And so I heard the tape. It was about 40 or 50 minutes long; where John points directly to the true nature of the Self. There is a tradition of Advaita. The shift took place for John in about 2003 when he went to see Sailor Bob Adamson. John had been seeking for around thirty years, and he went to see Sailor Bob and his doubts were cleared. Sailor Bob had spent time with Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj in the 1970s...

Iain:         Right.

David:      ...and saw clearly what Nisargadatta was pointing to. So the way John Wheeler uses non-dual pointing is in a very specific way. It clarifies the distinction between what is permanent and what is temporary. And that’s why self-realisation is something that is available to everyone now, because it isn’t something that just happens to special people...

Iain:         I want to know what happened to you.

David:      OK [smiling].

Iain:         You listened to this tape. You were sitting at home presumably?

David:      Yes.

Iain:         In a chair?

David:      I was actually...

Iain:         And then take us through the process. I’m fascinated by people’s process when something really important happens.

David:      OK. I had a computer in my bedroom, and I went up to have a look at some things on a Sunday afternoon. It now seems like a cosmic joke because Sunday 13th November 2005 was Remembrance Day! It’s interesting to recall the way it happened.  Allin Taylor was interviewing John Wheeler and he started describing the nature of consciousness. As he started speaking, I felt really drowsy. I’d noticed in the past, when really clear knowledge is coming through, for some reason, the physiology shuts down. So I just lay down to rest. I rested for about an hour because I just thought, “I really need to hear this in a clear state...”

Iain:         So you were lying down with the tape... you lay down for an hour beforehand and then...?

David:      I put the recording on again, and started listening to it. John Wheeler went very clearly through a description of the nature of consciousness. He points to what is permanent, to what is real, and he also describes what is temporary, and the way consciousness disguises itself. After maybe fifteen minutes, there was total clarity and a seeing and knowing of what he was pointing to.

Iain:         Right.

David:      At the end of the recording, Allin Taylor explained how she had met John a couple of weeks before, to talk about the interview, and the shift had taken place for her before the interview! I later realised that they had structured the interview to enable this process of revelation. She was asking questions that allowed him to reveal what he needed to reveal.

Iain:         OK. And is this still on John’s website, this tape, as far as you know?

David:      I don’t think it is. I’ve only been in contact with John and Allin a couple of times; even though they played such a pivotal role, I haven’t really been in contact with them. Once this is seen, there isn’t really much to discuss! I’d read quite a lot of material on John’s website where he was responding to questions. To me there was something about the dynamics of hearing the person’s voice and hearing a description of the Self, even though it was only a recording. There was something about that, which for me was far more potent than the written word, because I’d read all these things before but they didn’t seem alive.

Iain:         Maybe the vibration of his voice kind of touched something.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         But we are going to do a separate programme, my wife and I, where you’re going to talk more specifically about non-dual pointing, which was the process covered in this interview.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         So then I know you talked about a period of integration and clarity after that?

David:      Yes.

Iain:         So something happened and you saw things differently...

David:      Yes.

Iain:         So how did that impact on your day-to-day life? What changed?

David:      The main thing - and I think this is true for most people where there’s been a similar shift - is that the seeking stops, because up until that point we’re convinced we really are this human being bound in time and space...

Iain:         Moving towards something.

David:      ...moving through time towards something we want. Now that can be a spiritual motivation; it can be trying to find the perfect relationship, somewhere to live, children, a good job, trying to make money - all of those things. They’re all forms of seeking. Spiritual seeking tends to come after previous forms have been exhausted but, really, there’s no pattern to it.

In terms of the integration, what took place for me is that the seeking stopped. Having seen clearly who and what you are, there’s no possibility of any further seeking because you realise you are already exactly where you need to be. There’s a fine-tuning where intuition becomes much clearer; it becomes totally reliable. And, for example, even though there’s a desire to share this, because consciousness is at the helm it can only be shared when consciousness gives the nod.

Iain:         Yes.

David:      Self-realisation is to see that the changing appearances on the surface of life are arising within the permanent, ever-stable presence-awareness-existence that one truly is and has only ever been.

Iain:         Yes, I think this state can also be described as ‘essence’ and ‘true nature’. I think other schools might put them in that terminology.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         OK. And then life started to move from a different reference point in one way?

David:      There’s a line in the Bible where Jesus said, “The lilies of the field neither toil nor spin”. There’s a point that’s reached when seeking comes to an end. Life then seems to go on by itself. There’s a knowing of what to do as things arise but, because there’s no motivation to do something to get somewhere, then everything is purely what it is.

So, for instance, being here is totally about just being here with you - there isn’t anything else that actually matters. So there’s full attention to everything: whether in terms of a perception or an experience, everything is just seen purely and totally for what it is, and one is just fully present with that. The state before is that there’s something missing, that this is incomplete, that this can be improved upon, that I can do something to be in a better situation than this. So full attention isn’t something that is available.

Iain:         I understand, yes. Something I liked, that you said earlier, was that people are... people are always trying to find happiness. I know for myself it’s very true, and I remember going to a seminar years ago - it was Anthony Robbins, actually, whom I liked at that time very much - and he was saying that, basically, the human mind is always trying to move towards what it perceives as pleasure and away from what it perceives as pain. I thought that simple statement was so accurate for me and for most other people.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         And even people who are very... And you go through this process and you get money and you get material things and hopefully you have your health and you get a good relationship and beautiful children and whatever. But still this feeling: it’s not enough.

David:      Absolutely.

Iain:         So, we all try in our own way and it may seem unintelligent, what we are doing, but most of us are trying to move towards what would appear to be an intelligent place of happiness. But, unfortunately, happiness on a human level doesn’t really contain the magic missing ingredient, does it?

David:      No it doesn’t, and that’s part of the incentive in a way. It’s that sense of incompletion that allows the game to be played. As there is already only presence-awareness-existence, then everything is already home, so there isn’t anything to find. But the way consciousness plays the game is that most of the stuff in the manifestation is in contrast to its own essential nature. So it’s the idea of not being home, the idea that there’s something missing, the idea of incompletion, the idea of impermanence and the idea of imperfection - all the things that are opposite to one’s true nature are apparent in the manifestation. In one respect, the reason it’s like that is to allow consciousness to know itself fully, because it’s by the contrast of imperfection that perfection can be known.

Iain:         Now I understand that as a theoretical thing. Partly sometimes it’s practical for me, but not always, and I’m wondering… You, David Bingham, as your human persona, do you ever have the feeling that something is not perfect? Are you ever striving towards something, or is that all gone for you now?

David:      Well, there are two things going on: there’s an ultimate knowing, there’s an ultimate trusting that everything’s as it should be, and I fully accept that. If a terrorist walked through the door and shot us both then that would be all right. But obviously there are human responses to things. Fear can still arise and pain can still arise. Underneath there’s a knowing of the impermanence of those things, that they don’t actually grab you for very long. They can come in and they can go out again, but it isn’t something that the mind gets hold of and starts to spin a big story about.

Iain:         So when fear or anxiety or whatever comes up for you, you kind of just watch it as something passing - is that how you would say you deal with it?

David:      Yes.

Iain:         Just try and explain your process, say, when you get frightened about something for some reason. What actually happens?

David:      Well, fear isn’t something that comes in that much for me; it’s something that doesn’t appear too much… Situations can still arise. You are driving along in the car and somebody comes along and you can tell they’re getting really angry with you. Sometimes you have to deal with that, but at other times you don’t respond to that at all.

There’s the appearance that we’re able to create our own reality - now I think that’s only an appearance but, when it’s accepted, there can be a moving away from turbulence. We can seem to choose to follow a feeling that takes us in the direction we want to go. It’s very simple; it’s what all human beings are already doing, except not consciously. We just move in the direction of happiness. The intention is always to move towards happiness, but we can do it in quite a convoluted way. For example, a lot of entertainment is about pain. Many of the things that people watch on TV are about murder, conflict, upheaval and discomfort.

Iain:         Well, it’s drama to engage people, isn’t it?

David:      Yes.

Iain:         That’s what they try and do: hook you into something so you stay there watching the programme.

David:      Yes, yes.

Iain:         And drama is very compulsive in one way, addictive.

David:      It is, absolutely. But they also create a resonance within one’s own awareness so, if you’re watching something disturbing, you’re taking that vibration in. People can be anaesthetised to that energy and not fully aware of the implications.

I think what’s happened for me is that sensitivity has increased, so I’d rather not invite those experiences in. I tend to choose things that make me feel directly better rather than experiences with a double-edge.

Iain:         One thing that you wrote that I like is, “Awareness is ever-present, it doesn’t come and go. And you are either aware or not aware of it, but the awareness is always available”. Can you talk more about that?

David: Absolutely. Awareness is ever-present for everyone, it doesn’t come and go, and there’s a subtle overlooking of that. It’s the simplest thing but it’s overlooked. And the whole of the manifestation, to a point, is to conceal itself; to conceal awareness.

So, if you take this moment, there’s awareness of these bodies sitting on chairs, and there’s awareness of the hum in the background, the slight movements and the light in the room. And all these things are being directly registered in awareness.

The subtle thing that is overlooked is that everything is known directly by awareness, but it’s assumed that everything is coming in through the mind. It’s assumed that everything is registered in the mind. But awareness isn’t local. When the mind’s engaged, the mind would be saying, “That light’s too bright”, or “That’s too noisy”. It’s making a judgement or putting a closed concept around something. The awareness that is present for everyone is simply the clear open space in which everything is perceived.

As an example, people would say, “I’m tired”. Now they personalise tiredness because they say, “This is me, I’m the body, I’m tired”. If you look at what’s really happening, tiredness is fully known in awareness, so there’s a full knowing of what tiredness is. We all know what tiredness is fully, but it appears as though it’s something applied to a person rather than something that’s known directly. Every sensory experience is like that too. It’s possible to say, “I taste that water”, but it’s because there’s a sense that the ‘I’ is limited, that the ‘I’ belongs to the individual, so it appears as though water is being tasted and it’s an individual that’s tasting it. Our true nature is impersonal being, but we are mesmerised by the temporary sense of individuality.

Very young children experience awareness as a wide open space. For instance, until my niece was two years old, if someone said to her, “Would you like a drink of water, Holly?” the reply would be, “Holly would like a drink of water”. The reason is that full identification with the body-mind called Holly hadn’t yet taken place. The body may have required some water, but the ‘I’, the ‘I’ of pure existence, hadn’t yet moved into the illusion of thinking that it was a little girl called Holly.

Iain:         [nodding] I see.

David:      It has now. She’s five years old.

Iain:         Yes, yes.

David:      So, the apparent separation takes place and there’s identification with the body-mind. That’s what happens in nearly every case for human beings.

Iain:         There was also something else I picked up in the essay that you sent me, and it was, “Happiness finally merges with bliss”.

David:      Yes.

Iain:         I thought it was an interesting statement. Can you describe that?

David:      OK. Well, happiness for human beings is normally in relation to the experience of something, so if you eat some pleasant food or fulfil a desire, then happiness can arise. But it’s a conditional happiness because it’s always in relation to something. But the nature of happiness that very young children experience is something that’s just present, it’s just there, and it’s already kind of spilling over. You can see it with them, just the smallest thing: they pick up a stone and look at it in total awe. The perception is completely wondrous to them. The trigger required for happiness in young children is much smaller. As people get older, the ability for happiness to come through sometimes decreases, especially if there’s been a lot of pain.

Iain:         Yes, but it’s also to do with the new experience, isn’t it? For a kid, the stone can be a wondrous new thing, but when you get to a certain age you’ve seen lots of stones, so it’s not...

David:      Yes.

Iain:’s not so new, and that’s... I know my human side: it’s very much something new, exciting or challenging or whatever, and then when you’ve done it a few times, it becomes less so… That’s often the case.

David:      Yes. But to go back to the link between happiness and bliss: happiness is something that is triggered by an apparent external experience, so it’s because you’ve picked up the stone or the new car, or the new girlfriend, or the new job, or you’ve won the lottery. These are examples of happiness being triggered by what appears to be happening outside.

Bliss is something that awareness can merge with and no external experience is required. Through meditation practice, one can enter this state, where the mind settles down to this level of peace, and within that peace there can also be the arising of bliss, which is an uncaused joy. It isn’t a joy that’s in response to something. If you look at the mechanics of desire: when you clarify what it is you’re seeking, something you’re moving towards, you put a massive amount of effort into moving towards the goal. The mind’s engaged, there’s activity, and pulling things towards you, pushing things away, as you try to achieve the goal. When you reach the goal, then happiness arises.

The happiness that arises was already there inside because it’s our innate nature. What puts a cover on it is all the mental activity. The reason it’s experienced at that point isn’t because the new thing has brought you joy - it’s actually because all the seeking, intensity and focus that was required has put a lid on the happiness that’s already there. When the goal is reached, there’s a letting go and the happiness that’s already there comes through. This is a realisation that’s very liberating, because you discover that you don’t need a constant stream of new experiences to be happy. When you know happiness is inside, a level of self-sufficiency comes through where external objects are no longer required.

Iain:         So you went through a long process or journey or whatever we call it, to get where you are. Do you have any advice for people in terms of… you know, lots of the guys we’ve had on talking about non-duality have said, “Actually, there’s nothing you can do”. They are all seekers in their own way and they spent time doing meditation and all kinds of things, but they say in the end, “It happened”. The discovery that they didn’t exist as an individual - they knew that as such, and there wasn’t anything they did beforehand that helped contribute to that state or realisation. Would that be your viewpoint or...?

David:      Absolutely. There’s a story that’s taking place... There’s a dichotomy because there is refinement of the relative aspect of consciousness. In a phenomenal sense it has value. The same is true in terms of spiritual practice. With meditation and stilling the mind, eating food that is conducive to good health - all these things have value in terms of experience, but actually none of those things will take you to self-realisation. Spiritual seeking isn’t necessary for self-realisation but it often precedes it.

What’s apparent now - and I’ve experienced it first-hand - is that people for whom there’s been no spiritual seeking are in some ways more ready for this shift than those who have been seeking for a long time. The seeking, the gathering of concepts, the attachment to practices - it can add another level of disguise. Following the clarity that arose in November 2005, there was a period of integration, where there was a move from seeking to allowing. This year, in February 2008, one or two people started turning up...

Iain:         OK.

David:      ...they just started asking questions; either they were in a state of suffering or just wanted some clarification. It isn’t something I was seeking to impart. This year, as a result of non-dual pointing, around eight people have made the shift. Two are very young. One had an aversion to spiritual knowledge. She wasn’t interested at all. But going through the process of non-dual pointing one evening, the mind just totally stopped and she saw who and what she really was.

Iain:         Right.

David:      Then there was a complete letting go. Her life is lived very much as before, but there’s more enjoyment because of the stability of self-realisation. Then the contrast of experience in relative life gives a context that’s totally different. It’s as though you’re watching a film and identified with what’s going on, with the roller-coaster of the drama.

Self-realisation is simply waking up to the realisation that all the contrasts are arising in the ever-stable awareness that one has always been. All the diversity that is evident in life on earth is seen in that context.

Iain:         And you can experience it, but you’re not it.

David:      Absolutely.

Iain:         You’re not engaged.

David:      There’s a clear distinction between the permanent and the temporary. When presence-awareness-existence is realised, it’s realised as not being owned by the individual; it’s also known to contain absolutely everything that is appearing. There is a deepening of compassion towards everything - not just human life but animal life and everything in creation, because everything is It. So there’s no longer the predominance of the subject-object relationship; no longer ‘me’ here in this alien world. There is presence-awareness-existence in which everything is arising and the ‘I’ is the ‘I’ of everything, the universal ‘I’; it isn’t the ‘I’ of David Bingham anymore.

Iain:         OK. We need to wind up now, David.

David:      OK.

Iain:         But I’m just going to explain that we are going to do a session on non-dual pointing with my wife Renate. David is going to lead in our next programme, so you might want to watch that as well.


To watch the original video interview click here. This transcript is included in the book: "Conversations on Non-Duality: 26 Awakenings" published by Cherry Red Books. The book is available from, and as a kindle edition.

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