The Wizard talks with Peter Fenner

WIZARD: Peter is a living Arunachala.

[…]

So Peter, of all those we’ve met thus far, I feel you’re unequalled in your capacity to demystify the mysterious changes that take place in a person who’s called upon to extricate him/herself from the suffering of conditioned awareness, what we might call ordinary consciousness so that they might abide more consistently in unconditioned awareness. I think that’s your great skill.

PETER FENNER: Okay, thank you.

TRIP: Now I have a few more compliments for you because I feel moved, and then we’ll get right into it. I want to say that your teaching is practical, clean, and accessible, very much so. When I first met you there was something different about you, I couldn’t put my finger on it, and now I realize it’s the quality of your listening. Your listening is uncluttered by an active mind making judgments. I see something there that could be really valuable to me going forward. Your perception of yourself as an ordinary person is both accurate and refreshing, you have a special gift for making what seems like inscrutable Eastern mysticism accessible to linear and logical Western minds like mine. There’s a lack of artifice in what you say and how you act, and your work appears to me as a creation of a framework of understanding to be embraced for a while and then discarded.

So getting right into your work, you say that your intention is identical to that of the, I don’t know if I’m pronouncing this right, the Dzogchen tradition. Would you share what that is?

PETER FENNER: The Dzogchen tradition emerged in North West India and then went to Tibet, it’s a tradition that’s very minimalist and aesthetic. What I appreciate about it is that it comes from what I call the “result level.” It is effectively saying, “Hey, maybe we need to do much less in order to be at the state that all of these traditions are talking about, maybe we can just experiment with being here at the culmination of the path.” We open to the possibility that we can be here right Now in a way that doesn’t require us to do any more work. We ask ourselves, “Where am I Now?” and we find that we can’t even really say where we are. We ask, “Can I do more of this? Can I enhance the state of consciousness that I’m in?” When we’re resting in pure awareness, we find that there is nothing to be enhanced. We’re already in pure awareness.

TRIP: Indeed. I’ve got eight pages of stuff here to go through with you, so I do not want to ask you anything in particular because I don’t want to miss anything here. But let’s just start. In addition to your Radiant Mind work, you conduct nondual training for a variety of teachers and therapists. I have a family member in that line of work, he’s a psychotherapist, and I’m wondering what are the outcomes for a psychotherapist, let’s just say, of the nondual training that they receive?

PETER FENNER: Psychotherapists who join the Natural Awakening Training learn how to take their clients on a journey that is essentially constructed in language and sometimes blended into silence. They take their clients on a journey in language by constructing a conversation that reveals how everything is taken care of. Clients come in with some problem that they’re working with and psychotherapists take them on a journey into this moment right Now by making a shift in their state of consciousness so that they embrace or open to the unconditioned dimension of awareness. When we’re resting here we no longer have the presenting problem, and in fact it’s impossible to reconstruct it. If the therapist asks the client, “What’s happening Now?” the client may say, “Well, right Now I feel fine.” If they were to ask, I don’t necessarily recommend that they do, but if they were to ask the client, “Can you reconstruct that problem, can you bring that back?” the client won’t be able to do it. The energy, our conscious energy, can’t be deployed in creating suffering. This is the journey that’s possible for a therapist to take with their client. It’s repeated again and again and started at different points. As clients become more and more familiar with the journey it starts to become automatic and it doesn’t require a lot of input to make the journey back to awareness itself.

TRIP: Very nice. Your work helps people realize how they move out of unconditioned awareness by making it into something, anything, which can be lost or gained, or even by trying to figure out what it is. Can you elaborate on that?

PETER FENNER: Yes. In a way it’s a subtle process because even right Now, talking to you and to our listeners, it’s easy to talk about resting in awareness as something that hasn’t yet happened, as something that may happen in the future. But I’m talking about what’s happening Now at the same time that we’re talking to each other and sharing ideas, perspectives, questions, and answers. At the same time, there’s this no-thing, there’s nothing, unstructured awareness, content-less awareness that’s arising. Well, it’s not even arising, it’s not even dissipating, it’s beyond being and not being, we can’t say it is, or it isn’t. This is the awareness that can never be lost, because it’s not a thing that can go out of existence; it’s nondual, beyond existing and non-existing. It’s also something that we don’t gain; it’s quite different from a specific experience that can arise in meditation, such as a powerful insight or even a spiritual realization. We’re talking about pure simplicity of awareness itself. We can rest in this awareness Now.

TRIP: You ask folks questions that help them determine if they’re resting in a structured or unstructured state, can you give us some examples of some of the questions you might ask someone?

PETER FENNER: Yes. First of all we move in the general direction of resting in awareness, which means we become less preoccupied with ourselves. This reduction in preoccupation with our own existence – with me, mine, what I have and what I don’t have – arises when we use self-inquiry to look for the “I”. I’m sure your other presenters have skillfully led your listeners to use forms of inquiry that reveal that if we try to find who is experiencing this moment, we can’t find the experiencer, the experiencer can never be found. This opens up center-less awareness; we can’t find a self, a perceiver inside looking out, or a thinker of thoughts.

That’s how we can open up into the processing of awareness. Then we can ask what I call checking questions, such as, “Can I do more of this?” When we are here – which is not a location, because we’re just in boundless consciousness – when we are here and we ask, “Can I do more of this?” the response is, “No I can’t, there’s nothing that is being done. I’m not doing anything, there’s no ‘I,’ and there’s no ‘me’ doing anything. There’s no agency. This is just happening as it is. I can’t do more of this because there’s no this, and I can’t do less of it.” In a way that means we’re here together, just resting here, just being here in a totally effortless state because there’s nothing we need to know, nothing to be known, and nothing to do.

WIZARD: Beautiful.

TRIP: Yes. You say there are all kinds of wonderful interesting stuff in your book, I love your book, it really did a lot for me. And one of the things you say is that the Western mind is embarrassed and confused by paradox, but not the Eastern mind. I thought that was interesting.

PETER FENNER: Yes, I think that we want things to hang together in a logical way. When we move into the nondual, when we’re at the intersection of the conceptual mind and the dualistic mind, we are connecting with awareness itself. At that junction the mind is still thinking, and still producing some interpretation of that which is objectless, content-less, and has no structure, and paradoxes naturally come forth. As I said before, this is and it isn’t. We can’t say that this is because we don’t know what we’re talking about. We can’t say that this isn’t because it’s not a non-thing either. This type of talking comes through naturally, because when we’re here it can’t be said differently. When we’re resting here truth is often expressed paradoxically. It’s wonderful because these paradoxes function as keys that open the space, or in fact they don’t even open it because it’s already open, there’s no process of opening a space. The paradoxes can help us rest here.

TRIP: One of the things I like about your work is that you diminish this feeling that people have who are on a spiritual path that there’s either Buddhahood or nothing, or that where they’re at is somehow insufficient, or that they should not feel really happy about what they are. And I think that your work helps people to feel good about where they are because it creates a logical series of phases that people tend to go through, and obviously nobody fits these phases perfectly, but they go through these and it ultimately leads to abiding in content-less awareness. And so I know we’re not going to have time to go through them all, but people start with disconnection, and then there’s conflict and codependence, can you speak about that framework that you’ve created to help people understand where they’re at in their evolution there?

PETER FENNER: A little bit, but we also can recognize that from this “result level” perspective there’s nothing we need to do before we can be at the culmination of the path. As soon as we begin to talk about different states it’s really easy for people to lock into trying to discover where they are, what they have to go through next, and how they have to evolve and transform. Again from the nondual, nothing needs to happen, there’s no action, experience, insight, teaching, or realization that’s needed before we can be in and rest in our natural state.

Having said that, I do notice that we have different relationships to our experiences that can obstruct this natural resting. The main ones are attraction and aversion. In the conditioned state of mind we’re assessing whatever we’re experiencing in terms of whether we like it or we don’t like it. Either I like this, I want this, I want more of this, I want this to last, or, I don’t like this, I want this to go away, I don’t want to be here, I’d like this to diminish. For as long as we’re in that reactive state, nondual awareness doesn’t present itself to us, because the energy is wrapped up in either trying to maintain what’s happening or in trying to escape from some mentally constructed prison.

TRIP: I’ve got lots more things to talk about, but is there anything that you came today wanting to share with us?

PETER FENNER: What we’re sharing, this is beautiful for me, right on.

TRIP: All right, well then let’s just keep on going. This is real meditation for us. The Buddha said, “Don’t keep searching for the Truth, just let go of your opinions.” I really liked that, that was a nice one that you had in your book. But one of the things that really appeals to me and that I think you do in a beautiful way, in a way that I maybe haven’t ever encountered before, is this pure listening that you do.

PETER FENNER: Yes.

TRIP: That is a powerful, powerful thing that you do, because when you are listening to someone they get the feeling that they have your absolute attention, and that they’re not being judged by you. So you create this space of incredible intimacy between yourself and the person that you’re listening to, and I think if people could master that their relationships would go off the chart. I mean, I know that mine would with my significant other, if I gave her that attention in my listening, she’d be just thrilled. Can you talk about that?

PETER FENNER: Yes, for sure. There are a lot of things happening in the Radiant Mind book and the nine-month Radiant Mind course, and people often ask if there is one thing that I can point them to that would be really helpful. I always come back to pure listening, because pure listening is something that everyone can do, it’s not a particularly difficult or tricky process or way of listening. What I do here is I just distinguish between positive listening, negative listening, and pure listening. It’s really quite simple.

Positive listening is when we’re positively assessing whatever we’re hearing. We’re giving energy to it, we think it’s interesting, we think it’s great. By listening in this way we’re overtly encouraging the person to whom we’re listening to engage in their construction, in their story, and in their description of what’s happening for them. Negative listening is the opposite. It happens when we’re listening to someone and we get bored, we wish that we weren’t where we were, we’re looking for an escape route, and we’re trying to figure out how to bring a particular conversation to a quick closure so that we can engage in something more interesting. Pure listening is listening from pure awareness, listening from no mind. When we are listening in this way it can look like there’s close attention, but it’s effortless, there’s no concentration or attention involved, it’s listening beyond judgment, it is pure hearing. We listen without validation or invalidation. As we listen to whatever is being said in this way, it just dissolves in our awareness. This transforms what other people are thinking and saying and provides an invitation for people to move beyond the creation of meaning.

An easy way to think about it is we listen in a way that goes beyond agreement and disagreement because we’re not adding mental commentary.

TRIP: One aspect of that… I’m sorry to interrupt you.

PETER FENNER: We hear everything that someone is saying, we can give feedback, we can relate to them, but at the same time we’re connected with the nothing, the pure awareness that’s always present in the midst of everything.

TRIP: One thing that I watched, and I watched you listening, and I’ve listened to your interviews and watched your interviews, this little piece about the not validating is huge, because we have been trained that it is our responsibility when we listen to someone to nod our head and go, yes, got you, got you, yes, uh huh, constantly getting sucked into identifying whatever the thought form is in a positive way. And I watch you, you don’t do that, you are open, and clean, and attentive, and you have a smile on your face, but you don’t do that, you don’t nod your head and say, yes, or whatever. That’s a very unique way that you do that, and that’s a really powerful way of being.

WIZARD: There is no mental movement in that process.

PETER FENNER: Yes.

TRIP: Okay. Then you also, and I think it’s worth spending the time on this, you talk about pure speaking as well, I think that’s very powerful as well.

PETER FENNER: Yes, there are different types of pure speaking, but pure speaking for me relates to a concept that I write about and teach about called “ongoing completion” – being complete moment by moment, and not creating residues. In our speaking it’s easy to say things that are not necessary for us to say which can lead to future regrets. For instance, we wish that we hadn’t said things and then we have to get involved in either processing it internally, or what I call “remedial communication” – going back and fixing things up, saying, “Hey, that’s not exactly what I meant, I’m sorry to have said that, I see that you’re offended.” We have to get involved in conversations that take us back in time and preclude us from continuing to be in this fresh moment, to be in the Now.

It relates to how to be continuously complete, so we don’t say what we don’t need to say. We learn how to listen to the internal impact of what we’re saying in our own minds. Ideally we don’t have to ever think about what we’ve said, we just continue to be in the moment, and we don’t have to go into the past and process what we’ve said. So that’s one aspect of pure speaking.

The other aspect is how to talk from awareness itself. How can our speaking act like a form of an induction? How can we use what we’re saying to lead people into this state of complete perfection where nothing is missing?

TRIP: You have quite an amazing background, various traditions. You’ve researched, I’m sure, many others, and you talk about the special conversation that is talking about nothing. You see this nondual conversation as a penultimate conversation. I think that’s a beautiful thing, and I think that we in the nondual area feel that way strongly, it is a special conversation. Could you talk about that?

PETER FENNER: It is, it’s a different conversation because in every other conversation we’re talking about something: we’re talking about what’s happening in the world which is sensory phenomena; we’re sharing the content of our feelings, our emotions, our moods, and the energies in our body; or we’re sharing through concepts by talking about our thinking and our interpretations.

Talking about nothing is quite different because there’s nothing, nothing that we are sharing. There’s no object of awareness, it’s what I call “content-less transmission.” So when this is happening in a group or in a one-on-one interaction, we learn how to point to this by saying, for example, that there’s no this, or that the this that I am pointing to can’t be known. I can even say something like, “What I am talking about is unrelated to the words I am using. I’m talking about something right now, but what I am talking about is unrelated to the words that I’m using because there’s nothing for the words to stick to.”

TRIP: You gently, gently gore a few sacred cows in your book, and one of them that I really love is one which governs my own sense of who the biggest and best Trip could be, and it’s this idea of unconditional love. I mean, I’d always thought that one’s capacity to love unconditionally spoke to the state that one had arrived in, and if one could love unconditionally then one was an amazing human being. But you speak about the intimacy of embracing everything versus unconditional love. I think that’s a very important distinction.

WIZARD: Is unconditional love something we “do”, or is it…

TRIP: It’s something that we do, yes. I mean, that’s what I-thought.

WIZARD: We think we do.

TRIP: Yes, we think we do it. Yes [Laughs].

PETER FENNER: I feel that unconditional love is the space that we’re in when we’re resting as or resting in pure awareness because there’s no manipulation. In this space I, we, don’t need anything and nothing needs to be different because we’re fulfilled in the moment. Therefore we don’t need people to be different and we’re not asking or demanding anything from anyone else. We’re not trying to keep people within our sphere of influence thinking that they are a source for our happiness and enjoyment, nor are we trying to push people out of our sphere of experience. It completely allows people to be where they are and brings forth the beauty of people’s existence because we know that everyone has access to this state of effortless being, of resting as awareness.

WIZARD: Acceptance.

TRIP: Another way that you say that in your book is you say, “If I hold to your suffering as unreal, it negates the compassion, if I hold to it as real, it negates the wisdom. In order to really experience this union of love and wisdom I have to let go of the struggle to understand.”

PETER FENNER: Yes.

TRIP: Beautiful.

PETER FENNER: Yes, it’s a subtle point that you’re bringing to our attention. This goes immediately back to pure listening. In pure listening we don’t reify, consolidate or concretize what people are sharing with us. Someone is sharing how something is not working for them, how they’re challenged in some way, and as we listen we don’t make it real or project a reality onto them. We also do not communicate that it’s unreal or trivialize someone’s experience. We walk the bridge between neither energizing people’s constructions, particularly those around suffering, nor trying to de-energize constructions. Being in that space beyond validation and invalidation allows for a natural release, perhaps the quickest release, of difficult suffering situations.

TRIP: In my own journey, a critical tipping point in my own personal affirmation was the point at which my mind let go of its need to understand, do you see that to be the case for others as well? That is a critical aspect of the whole thing, isn’t it?

PETER FENNER: Yes, it’s a big one for sure. When I’m working with a group of people it sometimes feels like there are two mountain ranges to go over before we are just resting together silently in deep contemplative appreciation of the nondual. There’s no particular order. One mountain range is the need to know – needing to know what you’re saying, needing to understand what this is, how it works, what your life is, where you’ve been, and where you’re going. This mountain range is the need for a reference point in knowledge. The second mountain range is the need to do. What have I got to do? How do I do this? Am I doing it right? Do I have to do more of this? In the nondual, especially when we come at it from the results level, there is nothing to do, no doer, the work’s been done, it’s finished. Now we’re here, no one going nowhere, wow!

WIZARD: Peaceful.

TRIP: Hey, I’m going to play a little parlor game with you [Laughs]. I’m going to put you on the spot, okay, but this is for fun, because I think you’re going to be able to do this.

WIZARD: Trip’s a rascal.

TRIP: I’m a rascal. But it is a trick parlor game that I just created for you, alright. Okay, so we’ve got this friend, his name is Ganesan, and he once told me a story that really, really, really, rocked me, because it was my first glimpse into what someone who is walking in unconditioned awareness experiences, right, versus the ordinary consciousness that I was walking around with. Okay, so he tells this story and he told it from the perspective of the ordinary person and then the sage. I’m going to tell the ordinary person’s perspective, and then I’m going to start with the sage’s and I’m going to let you finish you. All right.

PETER FENNER: [Laughs] Okay.

TRIP: Yes, but don’t worry if it doesn’t work out. Okay. So the ordinary person, he’s walking down this path, and up in front there’s a shiny object on the ground. So there’s an immediate perception, wow, shiny object, a nanosecond after that perception he’s thinking, “Oh, that could be a piece of gold that someone dropped on the ground.” So there’s an immediate differentiation that goes down. Then a nanosecond following on that is the idea, “Wow that could be worth something, I think I’ll go over there and check it out.” So the person walks over there and they reach down and they pick it up, and they look it up, and they saw it’s just a gum wrapper, and they go, ah, just a piece of junk, and they toss it on the ground.” Okay. Now there’s an encapsulation of the traditional thought forms that go through a human being’s mind with almost every experience that they undertake. Now the sage walks down the path, and there’s the perception of a shiny object, now what?

PETER FENNER: Wow. Well you could walk closer to it, that’s a possibility, but equally that shiny object could recede from our field of awareness, because we’re not being driven or captivated by what looks good or what looks interesting or uninteresting. For me, it’s this idea of not knowing what is going to happen next. The sage does not know and does not need to know what will be happening moment by moment. It’s this notion of the ever-fresh presence of awareness.

TRIP: Exactly.

WIZARD: The Mystery.

TRIP: Exactly. The sage doesn’t do anything [Laughs]. Just shiny object and that’s it, no let me go over there and pick that thing up and see if it’s a piece of gold, and then I’m going to have some more money, none of that.

PETER FENNER: Lovely.

TRIP: It was lovely, that was my first taste. I love that. One of the things that you mention several times in your book is this concept of broadening the river of life.

PETER FENNER: Yes. Well I think that broadening naturally happens when we rest more in awareness and we become less involved with the particular events of our lives. There’s an enhanced capacity to receive whatever is arising, particularly in terms of pleasure and pain. It’s possible to experience pain without freaking out, without thinking that it shouldn’t be happening, without thinking, “Hey, what have I got to do, what’s wrong, what do I do to alleviate this?” So we have an increased capacity to just receive the sensations that can be produced by our mind and nervous system without needing to close down. Similarly, it is possible to enhance the refinements of pleasure and bliss so that we can receive them without fearing that this isn’t good for us, without listening to some historical story in our mind, or without feeling that it’s dangerous to experience this much pleasure. That’s what I mean by broadening and expanding the river the life.

TRIP: All right, I cannot find anything in your work that I want to pick a bone with, but I worked hard to find something and even this I can’t pick a bone with. But, okay, let’s just talk about meditation for a second. You say we practice in order to deeply realize that we don’t need to practice, but without this practice we don’t see that we don’t need to practice.

PETER FENNER: Because again we’re looking to arrive at the point where the fruition of meditation is happening without needing to meditate. If our meditation is a function of a need that we have then there’s a meditator looking for a particular result. If looking for a particular result is what’s behind the meditation, then it’s not producing the intended result, which is to let us be where we are, totally fulfilled with nothing missing.

WIZARD: Meditation without doership.

PETER FENNER: No one needing anything.

TRIP: So here’s my little tiny bone, and just for the fun of it, but now Urja Shanti says and I think the Wizard feels this way, and I do too, that he says that he sits but he never sits because he tells himself to sit, he only sits when it seems to want to happen, where it’s just comfortably happening. But I see that in your work you do recommend that people actively create the space to sit, that’s a little bit oppositional to just letting it happen of its own volition.

PETER FENNER: Yes, I think that the way that you’re doing it is great because the invitation is there and you just find yourself meditating without needing to know if it will be for five minutes or two hours. But the point here is that this is considered meditation when it’s being defined by our body, particularly the placement of our body in a certain position. What we’re really looking for is how to support natural meditation, the place where the meditation is happening on its own. In other words, we discover a place where we’re meditating without doing it. We find that we don’t need to meditate because meditation doesn’t impact the quality of the state we’re presencing. We’re already in a state that can’t be enhanced, can’t be prolonged by an action of meditation, and can’t be refined any further. That’s what we’re looking for, how to discover what in the Dzogchen tradition is called the “meditation of non-meditation” – the place where meditation is just happening.

WIZARD: When there’s no doer?

PETER FENNER: Yes, there’s no doer, there’s no one looking for any outcome.

TRIP: Way more beautifully said than I could ever hope to. I would say, just to add to that, that the Wizard and I both concur in that accepting our true nature and in both of our cases, he’s a rascal and I’m another rascal, accepting that nature for us trumps practice, and so we both feel that the pages of life is where our true practice lies. You probably feel the same way, right?

PETER FENNER: Yes, for sure. In considering the path, people often think, “I’ve got to find my path,” or , “What is the best path for me?” And then people think, “Am I on the path? I got off the path. I got lost. I got waylaid. I’ve got to get on the path again.” If you look at it, we’re always on the path, aren’t we? The path is life, the path is exactly what is happening Now, there’s no being on it, or being off it.

TRIP: I have a number of friends who are actfully engaged in the ripening of their spiritual lives, and I’ve had numerous occasions where people have reported to me where they’ve lost it and I’m sure you have too, where people talk about how they’ve lost that feeling of centerness or whatever. And I’ve looked inside myself and I’ve asked myself what does it mean for me when I lose it, and for me it’s always a shift of my attention away from awareness without thought into anything else, and it happens a lot. I mean, I have to admit that my attention being shifted away from awareness into everything else is pretty much a predominant factor in my life now, but I don’t care because my attention always comes back to awareness. So even though obviously I’m not a realized sage, I do feel a possibility of relaxing into what wants to happen, because I know that awareness is going to come back again. Can you elaborate a little bit more on what losing it is really? When people express that feeling they’ve lost it, what’s really going on?

PETER FENNER: Yes. That’s an important question because people often have that experience. If we’re authentically resting in awareness itself, we’re not resting in anything, there’s no one resting in anything, and there is nothing to lose. But when we’re resting in awareness it’s often accompanied by nice feelings and sensations. They can often be feelings of tranquility because our mind can slow down and there’s less energy involved in that whole enterprise of trying to understand, and trying to create meaning. The mind slows down and becomes more or less tranquil. When we go inside, we can experience incredible states of bliss, sometimes sensate states of bliss, and we can say where the bliss is coming from. At other times, it’s unconditioned bliss and we can’t say from where it’s arising, it’s this amazing infusion of bliss energy throughout awareness. What happens is that people begin to identify nondual awareness with these beautiful experiences of less thinking, deep tranquility, and bliss. These are conditioned experiences that are happening. Take tranquility as an example, tranquility is an experience, whereas resting in awareness is not.

WIZARD: Beautiful.

PETER FENNER: So we can lose the experience of tranquility if something changes. This is one of the checking questions: can this change? If we say, “Yes, this can change,” it means we’re identifying with a conditioned aspect of this. At some point the of tranquility will change and it’s easy for people to think, “Ah, I’ve lost it.” But they haven’t lost nondual awareness, they’ve lost something beautiful that was accompanying it.

WIZARD: The side effects.

TRIP: You’re an amazing teacher, and I think you have a stable of teachers perhaps that are involved in the Training of the trainers, but it appears that people can actually engage you if they want to, is that correct?

PETER FENNER: To some extent, yes. A lot of my time is now involved in teaching teachers and therapists here in the US and in Europe, and running the Radiant Mind program, but I have some time for working with people individually.

TRIP: Well I think that’s amazing, that you create that time, and the Radiant Mind program sounds fantastic. Did you want to talk about it at all so that folks who are listening who haven’t heard of it might find it something they want to do? Or is there anything you’d like to say?

PETER FENNER: Just a little about how it came into existence. I taught workshops around the world and people would ask how they could continue this work over a longer period of time. This led me to come up with the nine-month Radiant Mind course. One of the great things about it is that over a nine-month period real things happen in people’s life, like losing their job, forming a new relationship, or getting some serious illness. These things can be integrated and are integrated and worked with within the context of Radiant Mind, which makes it different from a short-term workshop.

TRIP: Okay. And what’s the Center for Timeless Wisdom about?

PETER FENNER: Center for Timeless Wisdom is the center that I founded and that I direct. It’s a California non-profit that organizes, delivers and manages the nondual trainings, programs, and retreats that I do. Its overarching mission is to adapt Eastern nondual teachings, particularly from Mahayana Buddhism, and make them relevant and easily accessible in the West.

TRIP: I can keep asking questions [Laughs]. Are you going to do the nondual conference again next year? Do you know yet?

PETER FENNER: By that you mean the Science and Nonduality?

TRIP: Yes, are you going to do that again?

PETER FENNER: Yes, I’ll be participating in that in San Francisco. It’s a fun event.

TRIP: I’m wondering you’ve probably been around a lot; you’ve definitely been around the block many more times than I have. I heard about a thing called Spirit Fest in Bali, that’s the only other thing I’ve ever heard of, but what are some of the conferences that you have participated in that you think are really good?

PETER FENNER: I’ve been involved in conferences for many years. I’ve been involved in the annual Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy Conference since its beginning in 2000. This is a professional conference that is mainly intended for mental health professionals. I don’t do a lot of conferencing myself mainly because I love the trainings that I offer – and they’re a little conference in their own right. We had close to 30 people in the Advanced Nondual Training this year in both the states and in Amsterdam. The trainings are really much more rewarding for me than conferences which can tend to be a little bit intellectual.

TRIP: Yes. All right, well one last question for you. You’ve got the trainings, and the book, and the exercises, and it’s all excellent material. You also confess that there must be a network of support for people that engage in this. So from your point of view, what is the ideal looking network of support, what might it include for somebody?

PETER FENNER: Well, it’s really just a community of people who, or for whom, the nondual has become central in their lives. In our training we create a sense of community – we have an online community, and people also do a lot of one-on-one and group work with each other by telephone. Through these connections we have even begun to create bridges between our students in Europe and those in North America. Timeless Wisdom is just one umbrella for bringing students together and students’ practice can be powerfully informed and supported by working with other people. We have people meditating together by telephone, people call each other, say hi, and then they just begin. They’re here together. It brings a different quality to their contemplation just knowing that someone else is online doing this, this that can’t be found, this that’s not an action. They know someone is, or a few other people are, doing this with them at the same time. It’s like they create their own mini induction field.

WIZARD: We aspire to be a part of that community in affirming that with our listeners and audience, and I really appreciate that.

TRIP: We only have a couple more minutes, but I had one last question for you. You’ve been blessed with a level of mastery, and it’s quite apparent to me that it is beautiful and you’re now able to help so many others. But I’m just curious. Before you became a celibate monk, was there a time in your life where you were a numb skull like me, where you were a little chippy, or you didn’t really, get it, or you’re confused, or whatever, and then, I don’t know, can you reflect on that life journey, was there a time when things weren’t so sublime?

PETER FENNER: Yes, I could, but I notice that it may not be necessary to describe yourself in the way you just did. It’s so easy for us to put ourselves in a box and think, “Wow, I don’t have what’s needed, I don’t have the history.” It’s important to realize that no history is needed to be here in the purest and most ultimate way possible. We don’t have to have traveled a path, we don’t have to have suffered X amount, and we don’t have to have followed certain teachings. We’re just talking about being in our natural state in this moment, free of concerns about the past and the future.

TRIP: Well thank you for that, but if I want to really lay myself down on the couch, this is what I’ll say, and maybe you can… my own self perception is perhaps negatively conditioned by an idea that because I don’t abide in unconditioned awareness with nearly the consistency that you do, that this somehow then creates a hierarchical relationship in my mind between power and relative peace.

PETER FENNER: Yes, but this is not a competition or a need to find a way to get more out of it. Because you can’t rest here, we can’t be here, if we’re thinking about it in those terms. It’s just a slow process of reconditioning our minds so that we can rest here more frequently and we can make the journey back here when we feel that we’ve lost it, even though that we haven’t. We can make the journey back here more easily, with less effort, and more automatically. It’s just a slow process of cultivation over the years. In five years time, you realize, “Wow, I do have more access, this is really wonderful, the river of life has broadened for me. I do spend more time in my natural state, just resting as awareness, and interacting with others from this state.” In 10 years, we say, “Wow, and now it’s developing further.” So that’s the timeframe that I invite people to look at in their lives when they’re working with this nondual material, when they’re integrating this into their lives.

TRIP: Peter, you’re a beautiful, wonderful and gracious man [Laughs]. Thank you so much for joining us for this hour.

WIZARD: And thank you for sharing.

PETER FENNER: A really great pleasure. I loved being with you.

WIZARD: I was curious before this show as to whether that rock of silence and stillness would be accessible on the radio… It is.

 

 

Peter Fenner

About Peter Fenner

Peter Fenner, Ph.D. is a spiritual leader in the adaption and transmission of Asian nondual wisdom and Founder of Timeless Wisdom, a California nonprofit. He is a pioneer in the development of nondual therapy. He created the Radiant Mind Course® and the Natural Awakening: Advanced Nondual Training. Peter runs courses, trainings, retreats and satsang telecalls and offers individual coaching sessions. His students and clients include Buddhist psychotherapists, psychologists, coaches, Zen masters, Sufi masters, Vipassana and Mindfulness teachers, Yoga teachers, psychiatrists, medical doctors, hospice workers, students of Tibetan Buddhism, followers of Advaita, artists and spiritual seekers worldwide.Peter also offers retreats on 4 continents. He has presented his work at leading universities and institutions including Columbia, Stanford, CIIS and Naropa. Stay in touch: • Join Peter Fenner's network on LinkedIn • Like his page on Facebook
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