Richard’s Selected Correspondence
On Ms. Ann Faraday
RESPONDENT: The following is Ann Faraday’s account of no-self. Her partner is John-Wren Lewis (who is in a similar no-self state) – and from what I’ve read both reside in Sydney, Australia. [quote]: ‘All my thoughts, hopes and fears about the future have changed radically since I fell asleep one night in October 1985 and woke next morning without a self. I don’t know what happened to it, but it never returned. This should have been an occasion for some regret, since I quite liked myself – a self born long ago when I first discovered that other people didn’t automatically share my private inner space and couldn’t intrude upon it without my permission. Since then I’d worked hard on myself to make it a good one, mainly by praying to God to remove the bad thoughts and feelings surrounding it. I soon came to think in terms of my Higher self and lower self – and hoped that God would always love me and forgive me so long as I at least aspired towards the Higher and abjured the lower. The Higher Self, I decided, was probably my soul which would eventually unite with God and live happily ever after. So it came as somewhat of a surprise in later life to learn that the Soul is not to be sought in the heavens but in the depths of the psyche, especially in the lower or shadow part which I’d tried to disown. Through psychotherapy and dream-work, I discovered that far from diminishing myself, all those buried fears, guilts and weaknesses brought a welcome softness and subtlety to life. In fact they led me on to even deeper archetypal encounters which expanded the boundaries of self in to the greater collective psyche of humankind. What had begun as a journey of purification had become one of completion or individuation, and I looked forward to attaining what Jung called Wholeness, the Self or God before too long; all I needed, or so I thought, were just a few finishing touches. In the meantime, in true Human Potential fashion, I was furthering all this growth by ‘taking care of’ and ‘looking after’ whichever self I happened to be into at the time. I no longer berated myself for making mistakes and was usually able to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty. All things considered, including many years of meditation practice, I rated myself at around 3.5 on the Transpersonal Ladder of Enlightenment. It was at this point in my imagined psycho-spiritual development that I lost myself. To compound the irony, before going to sleep that night in October 1985, I’d actually done a ‘self-remembering’ exercise for precisely the opposite purpose – to centre my energies in such a firm and clear sense of self that it would continue into the dreaming process instead of getting lost in it, thereby giving me a lucid dream in which I was aware of dreaming. I went off dutifully repeating the words ‘I am, I am, I am, ..’., a la Sri Ramana Maharshi, and was more than a little astonished to awaken some hours later, laughing because the pundits had got it wrong: the truth was much more like ‘I am not’. I was emerging from a state of consciousness without any I or self at all, a state that can only be described as pure consciousness. I can’t even say I experienced it, because there was no experiencer and nothing to experience. And far from being a matter of regret, this loss of self came as a distinct relief. In fact when bits and pieces of my old identity – hopes, fears, goals, memories, spiritual aspirations and all the rest – began to recollect as I awoke, I tried to fight them off, in much the same way, perhaps, as the reluctant survivors of Near-Death Experiences resist the return to life’s little boxes. But unlike those survivors, I brought back no blissful sense of divine presence or of a mission to accomplish, nor even intimations of immortality – just a total inner and outer Empty-ness which has remained ever since. This may not sound like a happy state of affairs to a psychotherapist, who would probably see in it evidence of a mid-life crisis or incipient psychosis. But it is far more interesting than that. I experience this Empty-ness as a boundless arena in which life continually manifests and plays, rising and falling, constantly changing, always changing and therefore ever new. Sometimes I feel I could sit forever, knowing myself as not only a fluid manifestation of life within the arena, but also as the Empty-ness which holds it. If this is psychosis, everyone should have one, and the world would be a far more serene place for it. After all this, I see no special significance in the approach of a new millennium, but as a psychologist, my hopes are something like this: I would challenge the ancient creed that developing a strong self-sense is essential in rearing children with adequate strength for living. Surely it is possible to encourage them to find a fluid identity within the constantly-changing play of life, not seeking permanence of any kind, particularly that of self. Perhaps we could even teach them to see and enjoy themselves as unique ‘nonentities’, instead of separate hidebound selves obsessed with survival. In psychotherapy, I would hope for a radically new approach to those who suffer from inner emptiness. Instead of working towards filling that void with new purpose, direction and meaning, I would aim to assist sufferers to go even deeper into Empty-ness and discover its true nature. I would actively discourage all ideas of inner-journeying towards wholeness or paths to enlightenment. These serve merely to postpone happiness here and now, and they build up the self-illusion. In the spiritual domain, I would fire all gurus and transpersonal psychologists who use stage-by-stage models of self-development (explaining experiences like mine as fifth level transient Nirvikalpa samadhi – or whatever). And I would like to see the term Self with a capital S: Self-actualisation, Self-realisation, Self-transcendence – expunged from psychological and spiritual literature, reserving the word strictly for the empirical self of everyday life. It is the whole obfuscating concept of self which needs to be transcended, for in my experience there has never really been any self to transform, actualise, realize or transcend.’ [endquote]. A question specifically for Richard. It’s interesting to me that many who have this ‘no-self’ experience say that it’s not an ‘experience’ at all – like for example, Bernadette Roberts and U.G. Krishnamurti – and here I see that Ann says virtually the same thing. That is, no experiencer – therefore no experience. Any clue whether this is just a difference in terminology?
RICHARD: At first glance it may very well be rhetorical (expressed in terms to persuade or impress) ... you will notice that she more honestly describes it as being an experience in her seventh paragraph. Vis.:
And twice in her last paragraph:
I would have to read more of her writings so as to ascertain whether it is indeed ‘just a difference in terminology’ or not.
RESPONDENT: Or rather whether there may be some actual, qualitative difference?
RICHARD: In the Buddhist tradition, which is where she apparently gained her understanding from going by her use of the capitalised word [quote] ‘Empty-ness’ [endquote] four times to describe the state of being she underwent, there is a qualitative difference ... I have already written before, on Jan 03 2001, about the state of being called ‘dhyana’ in Sanskrit (known as ‘jhana’ in Pali) so I will refer you to the following link:
If the bookmark does not work to open the link at the required paragraph just type the word dhyana (or jhana) into the find function of the web-browser when the page has loaded ... suffice is it to say here that this state of being is otherwise known as ‘entering into samadhi’, a trance state – a state called catalepsy in the West – wherein ‘Form’ and ‘Feeling’ and ‘Perception’ and ‘Mental Fabrications’ and ‘Consciousness’ (all experiencing) cease to exist totally.
There is only Bliss.
RESPONDENT: Along the same lines, Bernadette Roberts and U.G. Krishnamurti say there is no such thing as ‘consciousness’, but they define consciousness as self-consciousness.
RICHARD: Hmm ... yet it is possible for consciousness itself to be absent (see the above URL).
RESPONDENT: Ann uses the term ‘pure consciousness’ which aligns better with your expression of Actual Freedom.
RICHARD: What she is talking of is not the same as an actual freedom from the human condition – as evidenced in a pure consciousness experience (PCE) – as what she is describing is an altered state of consciousness (ASC) ... which is a spiritual or mystical state of being. In the ASC ‘pure consciousness’ is otherwise known as ‘God’ or ‘Truth’ or ‘That’.
RESPONDENT: Somehow, it seems that this choice that U.G. and Bernadette make – that is, saying that the self is a necessary ingredient for ‘consciousness’ must somehow be related to the stipulation that when there is no-self – there is no ‘experience’.
RICHARD: The term ‘no-self’ (not to be confused with the extinction of self in toto which I report) is a Buddhist term (translated from the word ‘anatta’) used to point to a state of being wherein the ‘I’ as ego dissolves and instantaneously expands to become everything and/or nothing ... otherwise known as ‘Sunyata’ or ‘Void’ (‘Emptiness’).
RESPONDENT: Then again, Ann says here that there is no experience, yet she calls her ‘state’ pure consciousness. I suppose everybody gets to make up their own descriptions – whatever makes sense to them without any completely developed vocabulary??
RICHARD: It is obvious that she has, of course, discussed this matter of vocabulary with Mr. John Wren-Lewis who has written the following:
He had ‘God-consciousness’ thrust upon him in 1983 and the account you quoted at the top of this page was written by Ms Ann Faraday in 1993 (in an article entitled ‘Towards a No-Self Psychology’ in the June issue of the Australian magazine ‘Consciousness’) ... there is that piece of writing and another article she wrote in the same magazine three years later (in an article entitled ‘Ann Faraday’s Summer Book Selection’ in the summer issue of 1996) at the following URL: http://www.globalideasbank.org/GIB/crespec/CS-175.html
What I found interesting in the second article is her recommendation to read the works of Ms. Antoinette Varner (popularly known as ‘Gangaji’) ... vis.:
I found it interesting inasmuch that three years after her first article she is finding that what ‘makes sense without any completely developed vocabulary’ to her is to be found in both the Buddhist tradition (‘Samsara in Nirvana’) and in the Advaita tradition (‘only ‘That which is before, during and after all objects of awareness. THAT!’’).
The Third Alternative
(Peace On Earth In This Life Time As This Flesh And Blood Body)
Here is an actual freedom from the Human Condition, surpassing Spiritual Enlightenment and any other Altered State Of Consciousness, and challenging all philosophy, psychiatry, metaphysics (including quantum physics with its mystic cosmogony), anthropology, sociology ... and any religion along with its paranormal theology. Discarding all of the beliefs that have held humankind in thralldom for aeons, the way has now been discovered that cuts through the ‘Tried and True’ and enables anyone to be, for the first time, a fully free and autonomous individual living in utter peace and tranquillity, beholden to no-one.
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