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Heath Thompson, Debra Wilkinson, Rory O’Connor ‘You Have To Want To Be Free’

Moderated by Renate and Iain McNay

Iain:  So welcome back to Conscious TV, I am Iain McNay and this is Renate McNay.   We are now having a discussion; you would have watched the first part of the program where you would have seen either Heath or Debra, or Rory’s story and we are now going to have the three of them together, just talking about the important things that were fundamental in their opening up to who they really are.  So, Renate… (Iain turns to face Renate).

Renate: So it is my turn! (laughs).  I would be interested in knowing what the most valuable thing was in your transformation.  You know, was it meditation, was it enquiry, or was it anything else?  So we will start with Heath.

Heath: For me, it was just the experience of stillness really.  I see it all around me, even in things that are moving but it is probably more accurate to say settled, rather than still, I suppose.  So that when there is chaos around for example you can still be calm and if somehow the chaos is happening or the world is unfolding around you, but you still have this calmness.  And for me it feels like it is here (points to chest) and it kind of means an end to meditation because you are living through it in a sense.

Renate:  Was there a practice, did it take you some time to actually be able to see the stillness in the world, once you saw it in yourself, or was that immediate?  Can you still get pulled out of it?

Heath:  Yes, there was a month probably between the moments where I felt that presence, which I realised was stillness and then I saw it in the world around me.  And then after that it is just there.  Can you be pulled out of it?  Yes.  If there is a strong enough fear for example, then you can be pulled out of it.  You can worry.  But you see it differently.  And I know that lots of people have said the same but you are not touched in the same way by the same fears…but you can let it be so if that’s what you want.  It has just brought more calmness even though I was pretty calm anyway, it’s less trouble, I feel more untroubled.  How does that help people who are watching?  They just need to stop, in a way, just to be still now and then, you (will) find yourself being more silent and more tranquil.  I don’t know, you might be a single mother with children tugging at your shirt-sleeves every moment of the day and finding that silence is difficult but it is there and if we just do little bits here and there, there is a settling, our energy calms down as well and I suppose we begin to notice it around us more.  It fills us a bit more.

Renate:  In a way, we could help us by making little notes everywhere.  I was just in Vienna visiting my grandchildren and my daughter-in-law, and on the fridge, everywhere, she has these little stickers trying to remind herself that all does come back to this place which is always there.

Heath: Yes, it is a good idea.  One other thing I found helpful; in my previous job I did a lot of travelling and you can be stuck in traffic jams and you can get stressed, like I was this morning (stuck in traffic) but it’s an opportunity to see the clouds, it is an opportunity to see the wildlife, plants and so on, and that calmness is there.  It is there.

Renate: So would you say your enquiry is always coming back to this place of stillness?

Heath:  In a way it just is there, rather than coming back to it, I suppose.  I don’t know, it is like saying, I’m coming back to being a man, in a way.  I cannot not be (that)…but if you want to get to that, it does help to get these little moments, these reminders to stop, have a cup of tea, you don’t have to meditate to look out of the window for five minutes with a cup of tea in your hand, and just forget. 

Renate: And you Debra?

Debra: Could you ask me the question again?

Renate: What was the very thing, most important thing that helped you in your transformation?

Debra: I think meditation, well I call it pondering actually a lot of the time because I don’t sit like this (mimics a meditation posture) for seven hours, it’s just a deep self-enquiry which also spreads to the outside.  I would say that the meditation / pondering, lead to the self-enquiry.  So I can’t really separate it into one tiny thing because the whole thing was what lead me to the end result, but I think that in each moment through life now, if I pick up a cup of tea for example it will go through my mind who made this tea, who picked it, who shipped it?   And it feels like a gift, a real gift.  It is not just a cup of tea anymore; all these people, even the rest of the world is involved with everything that you do.  That’s important because you don’t get caught up in your mind anymore.  My mind doesn’t catch me now, where before it would constantly be contemplating everything that might be going wrong or going on around me.  So I think the self-enquiry for me was the big key because just going out of myself, I realised that from that place of being out, I was just trying to outrun me and even though it was beautiful and I have had meditations that have been so amazingly powerful it feels like every cell in my body is at the height of orgasm and it can last for an hour.  So those things are quite useful (laughs) and enjoyable!  It is a combination for me of going right inside and then looking right outside; in and out and in and out, the big, the small, the big, the small and then it all just makes sense.  It all just starts to fit into place.

Renate: So would you say you live a lot of your time beyond your mind?

Debra: Yes, I think so now, yes.  I see everything from, I see it all as Creation and everything, even going into the supermarket you just look around and think wow, look at all this that everybody has done.  And that connection, it feels like I am a tiny, weeny part of something enormous and I saw such joy in that.  And everybody that I see, I think look at me while I’m doing that, look at me while I’m doing that, look at how I behave when I think that. 

Renate: Yesterday you mentioned something which I have been very touched with when we had dinner last night; that you spoke to your son and your son is going through some grief and you said to him ‘how wonderful! What a great experience.’

Debra: Yes, well he’s a musician and he’s just spent six months in Germany with his girlfriend who he met in Spain and she’s German.  He’s been there with her and now he’s gone back to England to try and break his way into the music scene and was just so sad saying ‘I miss her so much’ and I was saying to him what a joy.  I feel that all of the emotions that we have throughout our life, they’re all our learning.  To know what it’s like to really miss someone, that is God knowing that.  And he wasn’t quite getting it because he was saying (puts on a sad voice) ‘but I miss her!’ but (I said) think of the longing, how wonderful it is to long for her, to want to kiss her, to want to be with her and just like, when you first will see her again, there’s the joy, try and see joy not the negative. 

Renate: So your way is turning suffering into delight.

Debra: Yes, because it is all a delight.  In the end it is always a delight.  I think even the deepest suffering, when you look at it as it is, you see how much you learnt from that and we’re here to learn everything, every emotion.

Renate: …we keep running away.

Debra: Yes, because we don’t want to face it, it is frightening but when you look at it you realise it’s not frightening at all, it’s just love, all of it.  Even the most negative things are love, it is just our interpretation of them.  That’s the problem. 

Renate:  Thank you.  Rory? (laughs)

Rory: Okay, yes.  It is very hard to put it down to one thing.  Certainly self-enquiry was the process, if there was a process.  Trying to understand.  It is the thing ‘Know Thy Self’, know thy self, if you understand yourself you will understand everybody and everything because it’s all you, at the end of the day.  If I had to put one particular thing that was the catalyst it was the suffering that came from trying to fix the world, trying to fix things.  Ambition, going, you know, just trying to bend the universe to my will, you know what I mean, that just broke me.  It happened in stages, I burnt out several times and I would say my journey was like, initially God, or Creation or whatever you want to call it whispers what you need to know and you will ignore it, then it says it a little bit louder, and you ignore it, eventually it will kick you in the face and then you’ll be sitting in a pile of rubble.  That’s what happened to me.  Eventually, you will just get an awful smack because you’ve ignored the same thing over (again).  It gets louder in my experience.  So it was my arrogance, if you like, you know, “I am going to make this work!”  I had no other choice either though; all you can do is go “this is what life is”, this is the best thing I can think of to do, which was to try and fix it all and I was trying to fix it all to the point where I had to admit there was no fixing anything.  So, I was suffering really, to put a word on it, suffering.  That’s what broke me, I don’t think I would have ever wilfully have given up or surrendered.  I hadn’t given up but let go enough to see that I didn’t know anything.

Renate: Just what you just were saying reminded me of something that happened to me two weeks ago, you know, where life made through me a full prostration and banged me on the floor, on concrete with my face.  I mean the way I looked, it healed nicely but I thought ‘gosh, that was a push life gave me!’I am still thinking about what it all meant (laughs).  But it is true…

Rory:  …it literally brought me to my knees.  I don’t know, (that) I can make a connection.  I don’t know how useful it is to say that caused that, but within months of this sort of psychological or emotional awakening my back went, and my legs went and I was on crutches for about a year and it felt, very like, I was physically having to let go of all that tension as well.  I can’t say that’s what happened but it happened.  I just can’t say there was a connection but it seemed that I was mmm, within that, like what you were saying there was this sense though that I still felt as bad as I was, and I even considered that I’m…I didn’t know what was happening…I had to be okay with whatever happened, and I was, I just went oh, if I have this, if I never recover from this it will just be that.  And it sort of felt okay, as intense and as crippling as it was at the time, it took about a year before I was readybut it did seem like a physical manifestation of this psychological letting go but I don’t know but it happened.

Renate: yes… (turns to Iain), you have a question?

Iain: is the process ongoing with the three of you?  You all said in your own way that you are free in terms of a human life, you feel free to a large degree but do you feel that freedom deepens, do you feel your process gets wider.  Let’s start again with you Rory.

Rory:  Absolutely.   Yes, there’s with every passing day, a letting go of any concept about anything, any idea that you know anything.  I mean really just any notions of how anything should be and the questions stop coming; the question “what is this about?”, nothing is about anything (laughs).  You reach that point where it is just what it is, it is just what it is.  So there is nothing left to ask at that point and you know, most of what people are doing is asking themselves what’s this, what’s that, why does this happen, why does that happen?  That, gradually is met with It just IS.  That took time with me, certainly and I can’t imagine that that process, even though the questioning has stopped, the peacefulness seems to just become bigger, or whatever the word is; there is more of it, or…I hate using words like ‘profound’ and that because it adds a quality that really doesn’t exist but…it’s just…

Iain: …it deepens somehow…

Rory:  …yes, it just does.  It does.  And, you know words like beautiful, it just becomes…you know it just does, it sounds…and that makes it sound like a thing, which it isn’t, but there is certainly an expansion of it, whatever that means.

Iain:  Okay…Debra?

Debra:  I think as long as you still have a mind, which we have because we need one to survive, enquiry can never really end but I realise from where I am now, everything that I experienced, is as if it is happening for the first time.   So, yes, I think it is never-ending.  It is as you change, your perspective changes and I don’t think that’s ever going to end.  I think it is like a show that you are moving through and your perspective may change but I don’t think it will ever end…as long as we are here in our lives, because experiences are always coming aren’t they, they never stop coming.

Iain:   But you discover more subtle programs, more subtle historical…which you become aware of, and with the interview you talked about healing them does that still goes on?

Debra:  The healing part of it, that feels like that is healed but now it’s just a kind of realising that I don’t actually believe anything that I believed and I hear myself think something or say something and I think I don’t even believe that, I don’t even know why I said it.  So, it’s a deepening of understanding constantly.   Something I even thought about a week ago, I can think about again and realise I don’t think that at all anymore.  So, yes, it is just a constant questioning happening, I don’t think my questioning will ever stop.  I’m just a questioner (laughs).  Yes, I think it just moves through levels, to level to level.

Renate:  Is it a kind of a deepening into the present moment, where everything else starts to collapse, like the time, the future, the past, it contracts?

Debra:  In my daily life I don’t think about the past at all.  Well, I’ve been going through a period of looking at it from the perspective of now, which in some ways was harder than the clearing of the past because I can see now where I was actually the problem and that was quite an interesting process but that seems to be slowing down now and it just seems to be more of an accepting of all and…

Renate:  …when you say “I was the problem” can you say more about that?  In what sense were you the problem?

Debra:  I was the problem because my mind was the problem. 

Renate:  Which you projected outside?

Debra:  Yes, I projected…for example a few weeks ago I went to pick a flower and I was meditating and I had some lovely nasturtiums growing and I noticed that there was a weed, a big weed and my mind said that’s a weed and my hand went to pick it up and I thought, look at it, it’s absolutely beautiful but I’ve been told that’s a weed and I believed that it’s a weed, so I just let it grow, it’s enormous now (much laughter).   I can’t pull up that dandelion well, that dandelion has its own right to be there.  (You) see it is more of a deep accepting of all and I find that people’s behaviour and things were before they could niggle me I just see their pain or where they’re stuck and its perfectly fine.  There is no need to interrupt anything or anyone.  So yes, it feels very deep.

Renate:  Can you be still pulled out of this depth?

Debra:  Well recently I haven’t been, so I don’t know if I can be because it hasn’t happened but for the last…once I’d dealt with shame, that was the biggest, the end point for me, as far as my anxiety and suffering.  Well the suffering had gone but I was still having anxiety but once I spent an evening completely immersed in my shame of my life, all the things I felt ashamed about, by the end of that, I have not had a single moment of anxiety.  So whether or not it can come.  I mean this, what I am doing today, would have been absolutely out of the question for me to do, I wouldn’t even have my photograph taken and so the fact that I am doing this, part of me can’t quite believe it.  No one I know can believe it.  They’re saying “what, you are doing what?”  So, I have forgotten what I was going to say (laughs).

Renate:  So when you say, you spent a whole day immersed in shame, how do you do that, what can you tell somebody?

Debra:  Right, okay, well, shame came, well what happened to me was that it came through me as an emotion…

Renate:  …on its own and then you sit down and then called it up?

Debra:  No, I never called anything.  I sit and then I allow.  There is never any interruption from me, whatever comes, comes.   I can sometimes think, mmm I think that this might be about that and then it’s not, so I don’t get involved, I just allow whatever comes to come and this feeling came, and it came and the pictures started to come of the things I’d done in my life that I was ashamed of and then it lasted about three hours.  I had to see everything; every single thing I had ever done that I held shame for, came to me.  I was curled up in a ball, it was awful but at the same time I am watching it, so I am completely immersed in it, to the point of shaking.  But at the same time I laugh.  And I am looking at it and I’m going wow, that’s amazing that this is all coming!  So it’s kind of like I am 99.9% immersed but this one point is on the outside. 

Renate:  So, I mean, it’s so beautiful, it shows how when you allow it, nature heals itself through this body-mind.

Debra:  Absolutely, yes.

Renate:  If you give it the space and the attention and love.

Debra:   Yes, that’s all it wanted.

Iain:  Let’s give Heath his turn now.  You remember the question?  (laughs)

Heath:  Yes (laughs), similar in that I think may be just living it, teaches you more about the understanding that you had, when you first had that moment.  It doesn’t feel to me like there is something new that I am learning, (however) in a way it feels, yes, it’s, I can’t think of the word but it’s reflecting what I knew then, at that moment.  It’s like a lot of understanding comes in one moment and then you are living a life and it does feel like it is a door that keeps on being pushed open and it does feel beautiful, as Rory said.  But actually, I don’t really think about it during my day in a sense of…someone said to me years ago that I have gone from thinking of the little self to the big Self all the time, so there is still something there.  There is something nice about not thinking, you can actually, if you start to try and do it, I don’t know what’s going on in the brain but it does seem to, those gaps do seem to get bigger.  You lose a lot of concentration as well, you forget what someone said or asked you and people think you are losing it (laughs) but I don’t know.   I don’t expect there to be ever a point where I feel I have got to the end of it at all.  I hope there isn’t really because I think what I am particularly interested in is how this, this feeling and why we are here, how it interacts with life, how it interacts with people fighting one another, people being obsessed by one another, possessive of one another and stressed at work and so on, what’s the point in what we are talking about unless it helps in that way?  If we each believe our experiences and what other people on this program have said then we are all That anyway, we are all that Peace anyway.  So what is stopping us from seeing it?  And that’s what it is about, it’s about stopping and letting go of thought, not letting go of them but letting them happen and whoosh don’t grab at them.  It’s not going to happen all the time, it still happens to me, if there is a strong enough thought there I still get it and I find myself minutes later thinking ah, I grabbed hold of that (thought) and felt stress or something but there would have been a time when I wouldn’t have had that stopping and I would have just carried on and got more and more angry.  Until you become angry and you don’t know what you are angry at.  I think if we forget about awakening and so on and we just relax a bit more, be a bit more gentle on ourselves and not ask too much of ourselves then there becomes a letting go and a forgiving and I think that’s happened to me as well over the years. 

Renate:  It’s exactly what a very high Lama said once to a friend of mine who after years and years of studying Mahamudra (from Tibetan Buddhism) and all the sutras and what have you (laughs), he said “forget it all, the only thing you need to do is just relax” and then the nervous system lets go I guess, all the trouble…

Debra:  yes it feels like it is more of an unlearning than a learning; it is unlearning all the stuff you’ve learnt and then what’s left at the end is reality.

Renate:  Yes, I will have later on today an interview with somebody who is coming from Australia and she is enlightened, she says “I am enlightened” (laughs), which is quite intriguing.  She doesn’t say I am awake, she says I am enlightened but she says you know, her mind doesn’t work properly anymore.  She needs to write everything down because like you said Heath, she forgets.  It’s not important anymore, you don’t focus on all the stuff we try to remember…

Debra:  I don’t think it goes in really…

Renate:  …what do you need to remember you remember anyway?  If not, who cares?  (laughter)

Iain:  I was just going to read the last paragraph of what you all sent me.  I thought was quite interesting.  Debra said you don’t have to be special, you just have to want to be free.  With Rory, you said, when you know that you know nothing then you are free to consider anything and believe nothing, it doesn’t matter how you describe it or label it, life simply is what it is and the description / label is meaningless.  And Heath said, well actually, it’s still a bit different, current expression is through poetry, it comes to me from nowhere and I scribble it down before I forget, I call it Taoist Poetry.  A little bit of a different feel but I think you have all kind of in your way, you are all saying the same thing.  You have all summed it up in your own unique way and I think that’s wonderful actually.   So you didn’t actually really meet until, two of you met last night and Heath you came in today.  (Turns to camera) they all wrote into Conscious TV saying we are ordinary people with awakenings, so maybe you want to do the same if you are out there and looking.  I think we have had very valuable programs today and just to explain again; you are watching this at the end of one of the three interviews with Heath and Rory and Debra, so if you haven’t seen the other two you can find those on Conscious TV and you can watch the first part which you mightn’t have seen.  So, thank you very much guys.

Debra, Rory, Heath:  Thank you.

Iain:  (To Rory) you have flown in from Dublin, (to Debra) you have flown in from Spain and (to Heath) you have flown in from Leamington Spa!  (laughter) So you are very lucky to get here (on time for the show).

Renate:  (about Heath) and he is moving this afternoon to Austria (laughter).

Iain:  So there is a lot of coming and going with you guys.  Thank you again for watching Conscious TV and I really hope we see you again soon. 

Iain and Renate:  Goodbye.


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