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Mandi Solk - Self Enquiry: Know Yourself

Interview by Renate McNay

Renate:  Hello, and welcome to, my name is Renate McNay, and in the studio with me today is Mandi Solk.  Hello Mandi ...

Mandi:  Hello Renate.

Renate:  Mandi wrote a beautiful book, The Joy Of No Self, and it’s actually a joy to read this book.

Mandi:  Thank you.

Renate:  And I had a good laugh as well.

Mandi:  Good, that’s very important.

Renate:  Mandi speaks about Non-Duality and she was here with us in the past.  In the past you were saying there is nothing we can do to wake up.

Mandi:  Yes.

Renate:  And now you completely turned and changed that around!

Mandi:  ...changed completely, yes.

Renate:  ...and we are all curious.  What can we do to wake up?

Mandi:  Well, what happened before, for me was that there had been a lot of awakenings... now, awakening isn’t liberation, and awakenings actually can get in the way.  For instance an awakening that I’ve written about and some people have heard about, is that I had a car crash with a motor bike and I was taken out, and I just let go.  I was taken out of my body and then I had the feeling of rising up and I could suddenly see through people and see through buildings and I lost all fear of death and there was an intense seeing that the world that I had taken to be so real wasn’t as it seemed.

Renate:  That’s a huge feeling that you had.  No fear of death all of a sudden and...

Mandi:  Well it was a huge thing at the time, and then a few years later I had a very tricky operation and died on the operating table.  Not for long obviously... [laughs] but there was another rising up and seeing through everything, and even more, that intensified that seeing through the dream.  And then there were various things, which were sometimes a few years apart.  It wasn’t that they were all boom, boom, boom...

Renate:  But it seems that it always happened in dramatic circumstances? 

Mandi:  Not always, sometimes I was simply turning over in bed, and I realised that I was see-through and there was nobody turning over in bed.  There was one day - another in bed one - was waking up in the morning and realising that it was way past an out-of-body experience, there just wasn’t anybody there, there was no Mandi... that character just didn’t exist.  And I had to… you know, get dressed and walk to places and people were talking to me and it was as if they were trying to find me and I couldn’t even find myself to speak back...

Renate:  How did this affect you, these experiences?

Mandi:  You see, this is the thing and I suppose this is why I’ve come back to talk about this, because when you have these kind of experiences, first of all as soon as you start talking about them, people who are listening think, “Oh well, if I’ve never had these experiences, then I’m never going to understand what it is to awaken” and that’s just not true.  Also, when you have these experiences, they’re so intense and powerful that you are tricked into believing that somehow you’ve seen it all now, you’ve seen the answer to everything.  You’ve seen the breakdown of the identity and you’ve seen liberation, but you see, the mind is very tricky and it can make you believe... I’m sorry, this will be a conversation where I’ll be jumping forward and I will come back... because the minute that you start speaking, it becomes a concept.

Renate:  Sure.

Mandi:  I’m coming from a spaciousness in which it’s hard to sometimes make that leap to put it into words and one of the things I want to do is be very, very clear, because the only feeling that there is here, is freedom for everybody.  Now when we go and we do these Non-Duality talks, and we say there’s nobody here, there’s nothing you can do...

Renate:  Which was your experience…

Mandi:  It was my experience and I concurred with that, so I said the same thing because that seemed to be the case.  But then over the years, I saw that liberation hadn’t happened in the way that I’d thought, and it wasn’t staying there and there was some ‘in and out’.  I think some people have these awakenings and then speak about it too early and I want to be honest and say that I think I was one of these people and hold my hand up.  I spoke about it too early. 

Renate:  And so we can say that you knew the truth, but you did not feel liberated yet? 

Mandi:  No, not in any long-term sense, but I thought I did.  Now this is what I mean.  I want to be really clear, this is what I mean about how awakening can get in the way.  If you have even one awakening, so your awakening is that you see that you are not who you think you are, nor is anybody else who they think they are.  It’s like a dream this whole body this whole world, it’s a dream from your perspective and that is yes, a great thing to see, but then what happens is, you haven’t got any more questions.  There’s no more seeking because you’ve already seen.  But then, that having seen, and having no more questions means that you stop looking.  Now, it’s not enough actually to see through this if you then keep going back so strongly into personality.  Something has to happen whereby you cut through all the rubbish… you cut through it all.  What happened was that I had started Non-Duality North and was inviting lots of Non-Dual teachers, and I was having these awakenings as well before that and during that time, but I started to see that the people that were coming to the meetings were coming time and time again and I didn’t see any change myself.  I didn’t really see anybody... they kept needing to come back time and time again. 

Renate:  Yes, I understand what you are saying, but they argue that there isn’t anybody there that can change something, you see?  Before you came, I interviewed somebody, she for example said, “Awakening is the first step, but then you have to clear up the whole world”, because the whole world is you...

Mandi:  I am one hundred per cent in agreement with that.  That’s exactly what I’m coming to, that’s exactly what I’m coming to, spot on, that’s so beautifully...

Renate:  ...but after some years of teaching you actually discouraged people to look at themselves because you thought by looking at oneself, that emphasizes your ego structure.

Mandi:  I said that.  I even remember saying here... that yes, looking and doing all the self-enquiry, well I’d say, “Who’s doing the self-enquiry?  Who’s doing that?”  And this is the thing that an awful lot of people who talk about Non-Duality say, “Well who’s doing the looking?”  But, the whole point about self-enquiry is that it’s not a personality, it’s not a person that’s doing the looking, it’s consciousness itself.  Consciousness, I am That.  I am presence.  The ‘I am’ of our Being just wants to see itself.  Its only reason for being is to see itself and for us to see through the idea that we are not That.  So, all I can say now and I’ll come back to where we were talking before, I’ll bring it back.  All I can say now is not so much, “I know myself” - well I can say that - but the other side of it is also true, I know what I am not.  But, I only know what I am, or know what I am not through this looking.  So, there I was, one of these same people, “There’s nothing you can do, and nobody chooses it.”  First of all that is a very ego-centric thing to say, it’s without heart.  I didn’t realise it at the time because this seemed to be my experience, but I suddenly saw in one of my contemplations in self-enquiry, “Who do you think showed you what you know anyway?  You didn’t!  Grace showed you.”  When we’re doing self-enquiry, it’s just a slower way of looking.  So, if you have an instant awakening, it’s still if you like, God or Being that’s showing itself to itself.  Well, so it is with self-enquiry, it’s just more of the slow-cooking method.  Anyway, I started to get very disenchanted with Non-Duality North and with listening to teachers, and talking myself.  I found a ‘flatness’ amongst some of the people that I met, and to be fair a lot of them stayed with me and through some of them I experienced a deadness in being with them.  A deadness and not an aliveness and to be honest that’s what I felt myself too.  I felt that something wasn’t as alive and joyful.  It looked like that on the outside.  Now people tell me I look more serious, and yet I’m more joyful on the inside than ever! 

Renate:  I love the expression you use.  You said in the email you wrote me, “I realised I was only half cooked!”  [laughs

Mandi:  Yes, half-cooked, half-baked!

Renate:  [laughs] ...anyway Mandi, in the moment you realised that, how was that for you?

Mandi:  I realised I had to change everything.  I sold my house because it was in the middle of this area Hebden Bridge, which if people don’t know it’s a very social, sort of hippy alternative area with loads going on.  I mean it’s a lovely place, but I was just with too many people, and there was this absolute craving to be on my own really, and just to wipe everything clean and start again.  There was this… it sounds so un-humble to say humility, but that’s what it was, it was just this deep humility just for ‘Being’ really, and that I didn’t know anything that I thought I did, and I had no right to be saying the things that I was saying.  Then I went into a flat and then I found myself a house that was… well in terms of distance actually it’s only half an hour from Hebden Bridge, but it could be like three worlds away it’s in a totally different place.  Very ordinary, it’s not hippy or alternative, nobody knows me there, and it was a great place to start this ‘looking’.  So, for six months I just did hours and hours and hours of contemplation.  You could call it meditation, but it’s more... the self-enquiry is really just blissful sitting, recognising yourself, as I, existence, pure existence.

Renate:  That’s the enquiry of Ramana Maharshi.

Mandi:  Exactly, the Ramana Maharshi, Muji, Papaji, exactly that kind of thing and people like them have spoken about it so much more eloquently than I can, but that’s what I did.  I started right from the beginning.

Renate:  How does that actually work?  Something would come up…what kind of things? 

Mandi:  Anything thing can come up.

Renate:  ...I mean, if you are on your own somewhere tucked away in a cave-like house there is not so much coming up?

Mandi:  Well, all sorts of things come up, because with the mind it never stops.  We’re not - I must just say - looking to kill the mind off.  Thought is energy, it’s part of being alive and thoughts will always be there.  It’s about not buying the stories really… just not buying the stories and also, embracing anything that comes up.  So, when something comes up, such as somebody´s annoyed you or something.  That´s great that person that´s annoyed you, because it acts like a scraper.  So this is how I worked with it, would be to [ask] - this is what Ramana Maharshi says - “To whom does that thought arise?“  First of all there´s a real deep looking.  I used to be a meditator, I´ve done many kinds, I´ve done Vipassana, TM meditation, all sorts of - lovely.  But I have to say, I have to mention them just to show that I´ve never had any experiences of depth, like I´ve had from self-enquiry.  That´s deeper than anything I could ever call meditation.  It goes so deeply into Being.  And then it´s like you´re using the I am tool.  Let me just go back...  If things come up that are upsetting you, we´re not trying to suppress anything here, we look.  First of all, I would look at where is it vibrating?  This person, or this thing that´s happened, where is it?  Is it in here, in here, is it in there? [points to various parts of the body]  And I just vibrate with it, actually, rather than having thoughts to it, just vibrate with it and then [ask] “To whom is this arising?“  And you look, and you look and what happens is, you can´t find anything, but you have to look.  And then, that fades away and there´s a stillness [that] comes, and then there‘s a sense of... if I say “think“ to yourself, then it´s like adding thought, but it´s more like having a sense of I am.  So maybe, you just say it to yourself once, it´s like a seed thought, but you don´t repeat it - not repeating it like a mantra, I am.  First of all, even just with I and then there´s a beautiful consciousness of everything.  Consciousness of the heat of you, on your bed or sofa, or birds... anything, anything that´s happening.  Whatever´s happening in the body, whatever´s happening you´re turning the mind off, really, and you´re just putting it all into what´s going on right now at this moment, because it´s allright saying to people, “The whole secret of life is found in this moment.“  That´s true.  You can´t beat that, it´s now!  Now is the only time, now is the only thing, that´s right, but how do you get to the now?  Well, the real way is that we look in and see, “ Is there anybody that´s obstructing the now?“  So we start with I.  What is I?  The idea of this is that we eventually see that what I is, is consciousness.  It´s not the personality that we thought it was.  We have been mixing the idea of I with the idea of a body and a personality.  But underlying that is pure Being and that´s what we´re getting to when we´re doing that.

Renate:  But don´t you think the experiences you had in the past, the awakening experiences gave you some kind of reference point of who you were? 

Mandi:  That´s a really good question.  I think that even if I hadn´t had that at all, you absolutely don´t need... this is the value to me of doing the self-enquiry, it doesn´t matter at all wether you´ve had this awakening or not, wether you´ve ever done any meditation or not.  Except from the point of view that you´ve got a better chance of being stiller for longer at first, otherwise it might - and this is absolutely fine, if you´ve never meditated before - it might just be short moments of just presence.  A very easy thing to do is that your mind is very busy, but you´re washing up at the time, and the minute that you notice it - because you become the observer by doing this - then literally, just look down at your hands.  You look down at your hands, what they´re doing and you´re just doing what you´re doing.  So for a minute, a second, you´re switching off and what starts to happen with either these long contemplations...  To be quite honest, if I didn´t have to walk the dog, I´d just be sitting in this kind of spaciousness forever.  [laughs]  I am blessed to have a dog, I´ve to go out an walk the dog...

What I´m trying to say is, this has come about through doing self-enquiry.  There starts to be a wonderful switch and it starts to happen automatically.  This is the beauty of it.  At first, there´s lots of thoughts with the occasional bit of presence, but then, after a while of this constant practise - it sounds like such an effort, yes, maybe you have to put a little bit of effort in at first - then there´s a switchover and then there´s presence dominant and thoughts are just in the background.  I love what Mooji says, he says “Imagine that you´re a stingray, that´s your Being.  A big stingray and there´s lots of little fishes and they´re all having a little nibble and tickling you all the way around, but it´s not stopping you being a stingray.  It´s not interferring with your stingrayness.“ 

There´s always going to be little thoughts naturally, and we just welcome them, we just allow them to be there.  There´s really nothing that we have to do to stop having personal experience.  We can´t stop having personal experience.  Things happen and if they are upsetting things [such as] somebody dies, something happens to someone we´re fond of, we might miss them, there might be sorrow.  If somebody told me that something happened to my dog, I´d be very sorry.  I mean these things happen, we´re not talking about trying to attain a mind that doesn´t have this in it.  When there´s enough a prominence of Being, of what you are, prominence or a dominance of that, the sense of that is there.  You´ve looked into it, you´ve enquired into it and you´ve found it.  Then everything comes back to that, rather than everything coming to thought.  There´s a switchover.

Renate:  So what you say is, if you dedicate yourself to enquiry and you stay with this I am, there comes a point, where a shift happens from thought dominance to presence.

Mandi:  Yes, and I´ll tell you something: there´s only one thing that would stop anybody having this.  And it´s simply one thing, but it´s very important: it´s not wanting it enough.  Many people come and come to teachers and everything and say, “But I want it, I want it!  Why is it not happening?“  But they don´t want it enough.  I´m going to try to explain this.  My need to see this completely was like an intense laser beam, or a flaming sword.  Everything else stopped mattering and it won´t ever matter to me again.  And this is to anybody that does this.  I don´t look forward to things.  And people can hear that and think, “Oh, how boring.“  No, no, it´s great, because if you spend your time looking forward, say to an event, or a friend´s wedding or whatever, well, first of all you are before the moment so you´re building up a false expectation of the moment and then you are in the moment and then you´re behind the moment, it´s finished, it´s gone.  It´s like the world doesn´t offer me anything else.  There´s nothing I want from the world anymore.  I used to think, “Well, yes, I pretty much got that, but really I´d like to have a loving relationship.“  That´s gone, now if one arose and it was right, great, but needing that, or needing anything to be other than it is, that´s what I found is just completely gone.  It had gone before the self-enquiry and the self-enquiry made it sharper. 

Renate:  Can I just come in with a question?  Because that´s interesting.  If all the motivation is gone... let´s say for life..

Mandi:  For, for the world... for the external things.

Renate:  How does one survive? 

Mandi:  Beautifully, actually, because you´re not in combat with an expectation of anybody.  For instance, it was last year some time and a friend and I were going to go on a holiday in Cornwall, I think.  And then at the last minute she said she couldn´t go.  And I said, “Oh, okay“ and she says, “well what do you mean, okay?“  And I said,  “So we´re not going now.“  And she said, “Aren´t you disappointed?  If it was the other way around I´d be really disappointed.“  And I thought well, the idea of going was a nice idea, but now it is not happening, so something else will happen.  Something  will replace that for both of us, and then she just went, “Oh,“ sort of like to be let off so easy...

Renate:  She was disappointed by you. 

Mandi:  She was disappointed that I wasn´t disappointed. 

Renate:  You didn´t make a drama.

Mandi:  Yeah, but my purpose [in coming back] here, which I felt I misconstrued last time, it´s not for me to sit here and say, “Oh, isn´t this lovely for me?  I don´t need these things and you, well... it will either happen or it won´t, but you can´t make it happen.“  I mean that is terrible!  Can you imagine Being, which is just pure love and including everything and everybody?  Can you imagine the truth would have it that some people see this freedom and other people don´t?  How could it be like that?  That means we´re putting in, even into the spiritual realm, the haves and have-nots.  Well, we have enough of that in the imagined world, don´t we?  But to think that that could really... and then you have people saying, “Well, I know that I don´t know anything now.“  That´s another biggie - I don´t know anything now - because that sounds really good to say.  And they probably believe it because I used to believe it.  “Oh, I don´t know anything...“ 

Renate:  [Laughs]

Mandi:  But there´s really realizing that you really don´t.  I was watching in my garden yesterday a bird I´d never seen before, well, not in North Yorkshire.  Anyway, it was a lovely bird, yellow with bright red things on [laughs] I don´t know what they are called, I´m not a bird watcher, but I just thought “Gosh, it´s like a tropical bird in my garden.“  And then it played with a squirrel, my gosh!  And then it just got me.  It was so humbling, because I thought, “Yeah, a second ago you didn´t know that.  A second ago I didn´t even know what I would say.  A second ago you didn´t know what you were going to say.“  It´s totally humbling living this life.  So to go the opposite way and say, “But I see this, but you can´t, unless it happens by grace“, you know it´s just... 

Renate:  But we really don´t know what happens in the next moment... 

Mandi:  No, we don´t!  We don´t, but some people somehow think that they do, or there´s a double standard, “No, I really don´t, (but I think I do).“  But this self-enquiry... I mean people must be laughing when they watch this, because I´m at the bottom of the pile here, because so many people have done years of self-enquiry and I´ve gone the other way around.  I had all these awakenings, I went this Non-Duality route and then realized that it can´t be the way that it is sometimes described - shall I put it like that.  And self-enquiry gets rid of all the... can I say “shit“ that you´re carrying?  [laughs]... you have to look.  You have to look.  When you look you realise there’s an awful lot of peace and spaciousness, but then - now this is not my expression, because Mooji says this - he says, “More gets burped out.”  Now that’s true.  Then you see more stuff, stuff that you were carrying.  How would I have been able to see what I was like a few years ago if I hadn’t been looking?  You might have been able to see it, but I couldn’t see it.  I was still deluded.  Even though I’d had these awakenings which showed me the truth of how things were, I was deluded by some of the stuff that came after.  I listened to too many Non-Duality teachers actually.  I wish I’d… I don’t wish it would be any other way than it is, because I love the way it is now.  I love being able to say truthfully to people, “If you want this enough…”, that‘s the only thing.  To enter the Kingdom of God you have to have the key - the key is that you want it more than anything; that nothing of the world matters as much as this: seeing what you are.  And then it goes even beyond that, even beyond that because…

Renate:  You need to be ready to jump off the cliff. 

Mandi:  Yes, you have, and it doesn’t mean getting rid of your car and your iPhone or whatever - it just means getting rid of the addiction to any of that, really.  Nothing will take anything from you.  You know in the Bible it says, ”What profiteth a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul.”  And I think that that phrase was quite key to me in this Non-Duality movement.  I thought, “Well, you might think that you see it, but if there’s no heart there, if the love and the compassion and the aliveness isn’t there, this won’t really translate to anybody as anything that is real!”  I’ve never felt so much love and compassion, honestly - it goes deep.  People might see this and think, “Oh there’s that woman again talking a load of rubbish…!”  But one thing I can honestly say is that the love and the compassion that’s here has come, thank God, from seeing what it really is, to really be no-one.  Even as I’m saying it I think, “Who is the I that’s speaking now?”  Well, we have to use words to put this across, but how it feels is that there’s just a space, like a huge space behind me which is trying to make a leap, to jump into – to put it into words.  I don’t know if I’m being very clear…[laughs]

Renate:  Would you say Mandi [that] you are free?  Do you feel free now?

Mandi:  This is how I feel.  I don’t want to say any words like liberation, enlightenment, even freedom.  I can only say it like this, there is a huge freedom, and it’s the ability - well not the ability, that’s not the right word - that whatever happens in life, whatever it is, however deeply unpleasant it is, it’s all perfect the way it is.  Now, that used to be an intellectual idea.  It’s a very spiritual idea - “Oh it must have been meant - oh it must be perfect!”  But beyond these words that we say, these clichés and platitudes, there has to be a very, very deep understanding of what that is and through this scraping away and hollowing out of this idea… of whatever I thought I was… 

Renate:  Of your structures and conditioning. 

Mandi:  “Conditioning” – that’s the word!  That’s the word.   Then there is that absolute seeing that whatever happens, whatever happens in any moment, is just exactly right.  So what starts to happen is there’s more ‘in-tuneness’ with life.  Life is easier, there’s an inner joy, there’s a bank of peace that nothing can ever… it’s unshakeable. 

Renate:  And there must be a deep trust.

Mandi:  Yes, exactly, because that goes hand-in-hand with it.  There’s an absolute trust and there’s a feeling of love being poured on you from something that you can’t see.  It’s just…

Renate:  From yourself. 

Mandi:  Because it’s really ‘I am’, seeing itself.  That’s it!  There’s no other… exactly.  So that’s lovely, but it doesn’t make me feel – and this is the difference, you see - “Oh right, I’ve got it” this idea that we’ve got it…  it’s all fallen away now – that’s it.  That is not how it is, because in the expression of this, there is not exactly a ripening - there can’t be a ripening of what I already am because that’s there - but there’s a ripening of the recognition.  All this is about recognising what you truly are, or what you truly are not.  I think we were saying about the difference between somebody who’s talking like this and a Master.  There’s no way I am a Master, or you are a Master, but you know what I mean…

Renate:  So what’s the difference between somebody who…

Mandi:  Well, I was thinking about that.  And the difference in terms of how we look at a Master, or a Guru… just going back to this thing of Gurus, I also was very rude about Gurus.  Having not really ever met one, or listened to one.  And I’ve a quite rude poem about Gurus [laughing].      

Renate:  I know, we’ll read it afterwards! [laughs]

Mandi:   Maybe we should read it now, just before I go on.

Renate:  Okay, we have two options – I’ll hold the book here, or you try my glasses.  

Mandi:  Oh yes, glasses!  I never thought of that [Takes Renate’s glasses laughing]  Oh yes, here we are:
Oh to be a Guru, now that April’s here!  There’s a picture of my dog Howard there.

TV or not TV?
That, is the question,
since being a guru is now my profession.
My life must reflect transcendental expression,
now that enlightenment is in my possession.
So I’ll have to watch ‘X-Factor’ at my discretion,
and lose Coronation Street in the recession.
And no longer watch films with sex or aggression.
Oh no - it’s all starting to feel like suppression,
but I think I’m learning a valuable lesson.
‘Liberation’s’ not up to my first impression
in fact it’s giving me indigestion!
I really don’t feel as I thought I might
so I’ll just see what’s on TV tonight…….
[Both laugh]

Renate:  Brilliant!  You have a few poems like that in this book. 

Mandi:  It was a bit disparaging about Gurus.  And really, ‘guru’ means removal of ignorance.  And I was full of ignorance.  There’s bits in that book that I like, and there’s bits in that book that… when you write a book - on this kind of subject - and it’s years later and you really wish you hadn’t said it… one of the things I’ve said in there is that you can’t be taught it.  You see, this is another thing that I’ve heard some Non-Duality teachers say, and I’ve said it, “You can’t be taught it because that’s who you are.”

Renate:  It happens through grace.  The realisation has happened through grace. 

Mandi:  And it does sometimes, but it’s very, very occasional.  So that’s not going to help anybody is it?  And that’s another thing - we’re not here to help anybody.  How can I help anybody?  This is the thing.  We need only guidance and we need people like Mooji, or whoever you choose, who are great, eloquent speakers and adept at removing the ignorance so that we can recognise what we are.  Nobody can teach you to be who you are, but they can help you recognise what you are and what you are not.  So this training is very important and to think that you are above and beyond needing that, is just the height of arrogance as far as I can see, and being humble is a lovely thing.  That’s where grace can get in.  And it is very humbling to see how much you need whoever Grace has picked for you, if you like - to help you see the pitfalls of what the mind can do. 

Renate:  Where do you see yourself right now?

Mandi:  Well, right here.

Renate:  Yes.  Can you say more about your experience?  How do you live your life now from this shift, from [that] perspective?  Did something change in the way you perceive life and the way you live life? 

Mandi:  Well it was going back to what I was saying before - needing anything to be other than it is.  Really that says it in one go…

Renate:  So you’re centred more in the moment? 

Mandi:  Yes, life is lived from presence.  And stories come up.  I have never met anybody where this is not true and I really wouldn’t believe anybody even anyone who says it’s fallen away in one, because we are living a human experience.  I know it was either Ramana or Papaji, but what they said was, “Be vigilant to the last breath.”  So it doesn’t mean that you have to watch your thoughts and put so much heaviness on being the observer, watching yourself, being the witness all the time.  No.  When the enquiry has gone on deep enough eventually the stick that stirs it - the I am stick, always coming back to I am - even that starts to melt away and there’s just an automatic seeing of the stories as they arise and if you get locked into them.  Something can arise and rather than me having to think, “Oh oh oh oh, I must not get locked into that.” bring it back to presence!   But I did have to do a lot of that at first.  Then, as I said before, there’s a switchover and what starts to happen is there’s enough presence there to automatically see that.  The stories are seen automatically.  They don’t stop coming up, like you were saying, up to your last breath stories that you could get pulled into do come up, and I think everybody can relax now, “Oh right!  I thought it was about getting rid of thought and constantly witnessing.”  It’s not about doing that - thought is always going to be there, and thought, when we employ it, to use it to do a timetable or whatever we need, that’s fantastic.  It just gets out of hand.  But the enquiry is what turns the switch around so that there’s this presence-dominance rather than thought-dominance and then life is lived with - yes - much, much more freedom. 

It’s just lovely, everybody can do it.  But I was saying there’s no practice that you can do.  I completely know that’s different, but I also know that whereas this seeing will ripen and others before me, far beyond, they’ve been seeing it for years.  What happens is there’s something that’s locked in that’s permanent and that’s your Being so that seeing of Being, that knowing what you really are, the expression of that, that can’t change, but where I was before, that was subject to change.  How was it subject to change?  It was from a series of awakenings where things fell away, but not permanently because I hadn’t looked deep enough.  This is the difference you see.  So I don’t expect to be coming back in another four years [laughs] even if I was divinely invited to besaying, “Well, I’ve changed again!”  Because the root has been exposed, it’s been sorted at the root.  Do you know what I mean?  I hadn’t seen it before, but it was rootless.  But I do see that in other people that speak about this as well.  Not what I’m saying today, but the way I used to speak because you can feel it sometimes, there’s that lack of compassion, there’s these dead faces…

Renate:  And what feedback do you have when you talk about that?

Mandi:  Well, I’ve only done a little video - a tiny little video which is called “Yes, there is something you can do!”  [laughing]  That’s what I called it and I was thinking “Oh dear, I wonder what the onslaught is going to be!”  But that’s only been out a few weeks really, just a little video on You Tube, and I’ve had some lovely things really.  I was really unprepared first of all, anyone being the least bit interested… because I’m not really very well known, so I didn’t think anyone would watch it, but the emails that I have had were, “Thank you Mandi, yes, that’s such a relief” … “Oh, what a relief.”  We can’t underestimate one thing and that is - how much you want it.  So, it’s not something you can, I don’t feel, just dip into eight minutes or ten minutes every so often…  

Renate:  It needs to be your life.

Mandi:  It needs to be… well, I just got addicted to it and you tend to.  It’s the peace and the ever deepening of it.  I spent about an hour and half in the morning, an hour and a half in late evening and maybe in the middle of the day and I was also reading lots of Ramana Maharshi texts… everything… I mean, for six months I was sort of living like a monk, …a ‘monkess’ [laughs] or a monkey and I know I was just constantly studying and doing deep contemplation.   

Renate:  And the good thing is that we can all do that, as you say.

Mandi:  Absolutely!  If you want it enough… spending the time.

Renate:  And I really appreciate your honesty with that and coming out and saying, “Hey, I changed my mind and my experience is different.”

Mandi:  Yeah, before I think, it was in the mind, that’s the point.  It was seen through the mind, but these awakenings, they don’t always mean then you live… it’s not liberation.  It’s momentary liberation and, as I say, it can get in the way.  I wanted to say that because so many people have said, “But well, if I don’t have a car crash, if I don’t have a big drama, how am I ever going to see it?”  No, no, those things can help, but in a way they’re irrelevant because you don’t need them if you look!  And it’s not a person that’s looking, it’s consciousness looking.  And you see that very quickly.  It might start with the thought, “I am, I’m looking,” but that disappears and… consciousness itself… when consciousness sees you looking for itself, it’s like you’re drawing the curtains a little bit and the light’s coming in … it sees you looking… it sees itself looking and pulls the curtains all the way.  It wants to help so you’re not on your own with it.  It wants to help.  Thoughts and stories - stories, all the stories, they’re like a massive magnet, but we’re not a flimsy iron filing that can be pulled so easily by the magnet.  We have the power to just drop these thoughts, the power to see through the stories and just keep coming back to I am.  And then… it’s lovely!  [both laugh].  And then sometimes it’s not lovely because stuff comes up, but it goes deeper and deeper, that’s true freedom because it’s there for everyone.

Renate:  Do you feel life is more flowing now?

Mandi:  Absolutely!  In every way… in just little things like parking spaces, or meeting the right person at the right time… but a lot of it, a lot of it.  Ah, but I also get stuck in stuff.  Something will come up but – I don’t think I get stuck anymore – it’s seen too quickly.  That’s what it’s done for me, it’s seen quickly.  So, as soon as there’s a tendency to get pulled, what I do is look at that though, I’m not afraid of it anymore, like, “Ooh!” [grimaces] because if you’re afraid of it, it keeps coming back and back.  That’s what suppression is, but to just really look… not so much at the thoughts, but the feeling of what’s underlying that.  “To whom is that arising?” and then you’re scraping it out, scraping more of …

Renate:  Do you feel you are a more integrated human being?

Mandi:  Um, I suppose so.

Renate:  Well we are human beings…

Mandi:  It’s balance.  It’s balance, isn’t it.  It’s about being balanced.  I know that what comes out is incredibly deep, compassionate and a welcoming.  Whatever comes, whatever comes good or bad, it’s welcome, it’s embraced.  Because it’s there, so it must be right.  Anything that’s there is right, however horrible as well, but when you have that seeing, even if it’s horrible, I welcome it.  And guess what?  Hardly anything horrible happens in that way, there’s a lot less of it, you know.  Instead of life being like that [makes biggish flapping movements with arms and hands]it kind of goes… it goes… it’s more … [arms and hands become more even/balanced, not flapping].

Renate:  Yes, the horrible thing is only what the mind makes out.

Mandi:  Exactly!  That’s a good point, because even the judgments, “Oh, this is horrible”, “this is nice”, “this is horrible”, even they’re not there because that’s what’s happening.  Yes.

Renate:  I guess we have to finish.

Mandi:  I’ve gone on again! [laughs]

Renate:  It was interesting, Mandi.  We thank you for coming back.

Mandi:  Thank you for having me back! [laughter from both

Renate:  And thank you for watching and we see you again.

Mandi:  And thank you for because I think it’s fantastic.  It lets all those points of views be seen.  I think it’s a vital thing, it’s a beautiful thing.  I deeply thank you and Iain for actually creating it and doing it and long may it continue, then people can make their own mind up, you know.

Renate:  Yes, everybody has a different path.  And there’s no one better than the other.

Mandi:  No. Impossible.

Renate:  It’s all consciousness trying to wake up itself.

Mandi:  It’s all having a good laugh, a good game.  [quiet laughter from both]

Renate:  Thank you.  Goodbye.


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