Monday, July 6, 2009

The awakening story goes like this...

There once was a hard working, independent, Guinness drinking Irish woman. She went by the name Jackie O’ Keeffe and fully believed she had a personal life directed by her own free will. In her twenties she was running in the fast lane; working and playing hard, driven by ideals and ambition. For many years she attended therapy, usually psychotherapeutic in method, where she unraveled the stories of her childhood.

One Sunday afternoon, at the age of thirty, she was having lunch with friends. In an instant there was the appearance of ghosts all around the dining room. Her first response was that someone had slipped her a recreational tab – but that was not the case. This ability to see the non physical didn’t go away and developed intensively over the following week. While it was totally unnerving and stimulated a fear-filled response, something within wanted to rise to the challenge to see what this was all about. Imagine standing at the service counter in your bank and when speaking with the teller an older lady appears behind her and directly asks jac to tell her daughter (the bank clerk) to split with her boyfriend! Highly amusing and a total distraction from what was, up until then, the ‘real world’. What was unfolding - the workings of the non physical reality - was more interesting than anything else life was offering at that time.

Exactly one week from the first sighted spook, a man appeared at the end of her bed in the dead of night and said he would tell all that she wanted to know about what was happening. A long conversation followed and in the end jac believed she made a decision to let ‘spirit’ guide her way on. Within six months jac had wrapped up her contracts as a free lance arts consultant and began to work as a ghost buster. According to divine economy, her ego was given a great bashing through this career move. For jac, it was the flakiest of all occupations, cutting through her self image and destroying any attachment to a career path. One year later ability to see chakras, auras and past lives kicked in and so her clients became the living. Her perspective of the world was changing quickly. The database of what can appear as real and seems to exist with authenticity was ever expanding and somehow unending, limitless. It was clear that beliefs were subjective mental limitations and entirely dependent on the conditioning active in any moment.

The concept of surrendering personal will to divine will made sense and her work became service.

Chanting and meditation as a daily practice was as essential as breathing. An intensity prevailed and it was sensed that something was pushing her on and on and on. But to what? That was never clear to jac; there never seemed to be the rising of that question - just the appearance of much work to be done in raising consciousness in herself and others. The approach was to practice and show people how to observe their thoughts and emotions and no longer be a slave of the mind.

At a Santo Dime Ceremony a great inner black vacuum stripped all from jac. It seemed to annihilate her totally. During this spiritual ceremony it became clear that existence itself was a thought. All she thought existed was simply all she thought. Existence itself was no more than thought and so she too was not real in any authentic way. All thoughts that jac existed were stripped. Fighting for her life, for any reality that was intellectually sound proved pointless. It was a violent and traumatic experience that lasted many hours. Over the following days, it was clear that all that manifests is no more than a thought, that the perceived reality attached to creation is also a thought. But she had no more than this intellectual understanding. No books, no teachers came to her and it was some five or six years later when in India that jac came upon books discussing and explaining non duality.
Yet life seemed to continue, seeming unperturbed by the fact that all was just a dream rolling itself out, playing just for the sake of it. It was clear that all that could happen was without purpose and meaning, yet it appeared to be happening….in some dimension that was not after all at the core of all that is.

Somehow plant medicine seemed to help and ayawaska was pursued. It became clear that the healing process of the spiritual path was unending; mind would forever present new scenarios as issues to be dealt with. All it was offering in fact was more opportunities to engage in an ‘all about me’ thought process. The path of emotional and spiritual healing was cyclical and it spat jac out.

In a vision she had understood that at some point she would have to choose between her ‘normal’ life of marriage and service, and the total surrender to whatever was urging on the remnants of a personal jac. There was a belief running that she would get sick if she remained as a householder. What to do but follow light – and at that point the physical sun seemed to offer more light than any other source, physical or non physical. She moved alone to a campsite in the south of Spain for three months. After a brief wrapping up visit to Ireland she moved to El Hierro, the silence and writing, nature and meditation dictated her lifestyle. A Spanish friend asked her to come to India and in Amma’s ashram “Amritapuri” in Kerala jac has no recollection of a six day period during her stay there. She was physically taken care of by her friend and as that period of time ended and some capacity to engage consciously with the world returned it also was directly known that there are no individuals. Both personal and divine will both have no basis in Reality. There is simply the appearance of energy moving through form and part of that energy is thought. All that is in creation moves as one mass constantly in flux, never adding or losing from the sum total of all that is. Energy is simply changing from one form to another. Somehow all of this gets named and labeled as if it comprises separate parts and then somehow, thought is believed to be the truth. Yet, there is prior to all that changes and attention can remain there. For jac there was one remaining desire, still running, that gave the idea that she existed. It was intermittent and not ultimately believed, but when it was running there certainly seemed to be a woman owning a desire. The nature of desire was yet to unfold.

From Kerala to Tamil Nadu and the mountain of Arunachala. Attending satsang and finding words that would point to That which is beyond allowed the jigsaw of an intellectual understanding to draw itself together. It was clear how Born to be Free would now become a book….there was, after all, a way to point towards Truth. Speaking from truth produced silence and with great relief words again had some role to play in all of this.
Staying in Tiruvannamalai, there were periods of intense spiritual practice, and extended periods of a natural silence. One day, it felt as though mind was breaking; splintering into fragments. Memory was revealed to be no more than a thought. There was no way to connect any past story with this physical body without a believed thought together with the quality of memory attached. Memories are simply believed to be true and there is no way of knowing if they ever actually happened. Maybe they never did, time itself is the great fooler…..connecting dots that are not connected at all except through concepts believed to be true. The sense of needing psychiatric care passed through mind and yet somehow, suddenly there were no more personal thoughts.

Thoughts are no longer believed to be true, that capacity, that neurological wiring appears to not function any more. Is that permanent or not? Who knows, but one thing is sure, there is no one here who is bothered if the movie is believed or not. All is just passing through consciousness, benignly and gently moving through. All is manifesting as it is, it can not be any other way than how it is, but a personal ‘I’ will believe otherwise. That is the nature of the personal ‘I’.

One year later, jac was asked to give satsang and well……….somehow the show goes on without ownership of any thought, any action. No ownership does not mean no responsibility, for it is clear that there is only God, all is God or all is Nothing - as you like. Without the personal ‘I’ there can be no ownership of anything, not even one thought is ‘yours’. All is passing through and even the seeing of all - the labeling of what is passing though fades also.

What’s to be said – except that cliché – that at the end of it all, nothing ever happened!


  1. Yes, dear Jac. And "we" who read these words sense between the lines that ultimate truth, and feel the intensity of the heat in your now dissolved crucible, and share your relief that that period for "you" has passed in "time."

    And 'Born to be Free' emerges from those be read by all, those living the fractured dream, perhaps to be spared the anguish of your path, and those released from it, with gratitude.

    Could you expand on "leela in maya," mentioned only in passing in BTBF? Thank you.

  2. Hi Sighclone,
    Thank you for your gentle words. Pardon the language here following; the 'you' referred to is the general reader.
    Here’s the quote from BTBF “It is your option to simply get off the roundabout once you come to understand and know the truth of this game of consciousness, the leela or play of creation.” Firstly the roundabout is that crazy perspective that has you/one believing that you are an individual autonomous human being. You are not a human being – you are something expressing as and in human form. But as long as subjective thoughts are believed to be the truth of how things are, then for sure you will take it to be a fact that you are an individual person and the capacity to suffer is thus activated.
    If you continue to believe your thoughts then life has its ups and downs and tosses you with it. This state of play goes on and on, or around and around, like a roundabout. It can not find resolution; it’s not wired to do so. Any happiness and joy will be temporary and your state of mind will be dependent on the next thought. Thoughts are taken to be true or not true – either way an individual perspective is at play.
    Seeing this great show for what it is brings relief and freedom. It is just a movie, a great gig to offer the capacity to fully experience all that you can imagine. When it is seen to be no more than a series of thoughts believed into experience – it’s just impossible to take it seriously. The fun of creation is there to be enjoyed. What you are radiates by itself. In the emptiness of no personal thoughts all is enjoyed, life is fun and beautiful. The ability to suffer is also a thought. What you are was never in this movie and yet somehow you will continue to feed your family, and write birthday cards. A joy arises from what you are and that joy becomes the connection point between your form and the rest of what is in fact you also, expressing as creation. It’s not a choice to enjoy or not enjoy, as it is so obvious that all is there to be enjoyed. So much so, that you must laugh out loud in the exquisite opportunity to play.

  3. Hi Jac.

    If everything is a play of consciousness like my job and my financial situation and the economic crises what is the meaning of this all?

    Can you just say ....the hell with it i listen to myself(source)and let what ever happens happen.

    When i quit my job i know for sure that my financial situation turns out to be a disaster.

    What i wanted to say is that what you say sound so simple but it is not for people who are living a "normal"life.
    How can i ever know that what you say is true.

    I listen and watched a lot of so called "realised persons"and they all are telling the same thing. But they all are NOT capable to explain it to you or make it happen to you. They tell their experience and then i think well what can i do with it ? I am still here and they are there !! its frustrating.

    Life goes on the next morning and it is nothing more then a story in a good book.

    But to end with a positive feeling one way or another i can't get my head off it i have to think watch, read and listen again to you day i get it or maybe tomorrow.
    how about now !!

    best regards,

  4. Found this blog with one single post, but what a wonderful one. I love those stories of awakening. Love the sweet taste of letting the words filter through my mind while dropping deeper into the heart of presence... Love the recognition, not of the particulars, but of the essence... Love the subtle knowing that all those stories are to be found within my story, and my story is to be found within any one of them... Just love... - with no story attached... Thank you!


  5. beautiful. thank you for sharing. watching richard and you on nevernothere is pure joy and grace. thank you.

  6. Jac -

    Can you respond to this question by a Tamil-speaking native of Southern India on our Tolle forum?

    Ramakrishna, Ramana Maharshi and almost all truly enlightened indian saints speak about Nirvikalpa samadhi, a state in which the senses are asleep but you are awake, with absolutely nothing inside the mind.. In fact Ramana stayed in a cave for years in samadhi without food and water (body automatically forgets hunger and thirst during samadhi, as I heard from saints)

    An enlightened person is always said to be capable of going into samadhi, even for days...

    But many people who say that they are enlightened, including Eckhart Tolle don't seem to talk about it.. Do you really think that they do go into samadhi but prefer to keep it as a secret (because of the attachment that one can get to enligtenment itself, since the concept of samadhi seems to promise something in future or do you think that it is something that is like a second stage of self-realization?

    (I am happy to have the oppurtunity to have visited Ramana maharishi's ashram and speak with a lot of eye witness of Ramana's presense and samadhi since it is just three hours travel by bus from my place, Chennai, India)

  7. Hi jac -

    Seeing the Chicago marathon after the event I can report that I no longer have the feeling of being in a tumble dryer. Rather miraculously im now one of those coloured balls you see when kids are playing Bingo.
    Ever so gently Jac picks them up, one by one, and puts them too their corresponding numbered hole.
    Then the suspense in the room is building and suddenly Richard stands up and shouts - OH MY GOD. I GOT IT. BINGO…
    Jac smiles, shrug her shoulders and whispers in too the microphone
    - But there is nothing too get…nothing.

    Thank you guys!


  8. Dear Sighclone,

    Here’s what comes in response to that posting which originated in Chennai.

    There is, in the west, undoubtedly a movement towards demystifying enlightenment. The natural state of constant abidance in the Self is missed by one who seeks it, by virtue of the activity of seeking a state. Mind understands states to be something that can be experienced. Knowing that there is no individual (no jiva) how can there be subjective experience by something that does not exist? Setting up any state, including nirvikalpa samadhi as criteria becomes the obstacle. With self-realisation the capacity to claim any experience as ‘mine’ ceases.

    The ability to name or label states is an illusory and cumbersome mental exercise; such division in manifestation is not perceived once Self is realised. The perception and acknowledging of difference is necessary to recognise even states of samadhi. However, self realisation allows a clear seeing of what is.

    In the west, no states are advocated as states within the natural state. The natural state is qualified by saying it is not a state, but the direct experience of what you are. Once Self is realised the senses no longer command the unqualified power to motivate action. Sometimes there are thoughts, seen as thoughts appearing in consciousness and always manifest without personal interest in story content. Sometimes there are no thoughts but the seeing of this is only possible once thoughts begin again and this happens when it is noticed that there is communication required from another person. Even then it is known that the thoughts appearing are not personally owned (there is no personal ‘I’) and are passing through consciousness as integral to the flow of all that changes. It would be a thought to recognise that there are no thoughts but when mind is reactivated or pulled outward in the case of when a question is asked, a flow of consciousness takes care of the response.

    Similarly the activity of the senses are a happening in consciousness and without personal ownership there is little if any noticing of their function and certainly no motivation to follow their contribution in a sequential, cause and effect system. Maybe hunger happens, maybe it doesn’t – how can this be known if mind is inward focused and thoughts are not recognized. To a seeker, this is recognized as Nirvikalpa state.

    Post self realisation, a deepening of intellectual understanding continues. It is this understanding that allows the recognition of the samadhi states.


  9. Moving right along -

    Excuse me, can you just move a little, I have special delivery coming in. Its a truck load of flowers and flower petals. I am supposed to drop it at this spot. So just step a side please, it wont take a minute.

    It is addressed too miss O Keeffe,

    Sender unknown.

    Thank you // Peppe

  10. Thank you just so, so much, dearest jac!
    Infinite Love,
    maren xxx

  11. Dear Jac:

    If you are ok, would you be able to expand your interaction and teaching with Ramana Maharshi?

    Thank you for everything!

  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

  13. Hi Jac:
    At this instant, a question has appeared. Do you attach the same importance to your atypical visions of chakras and ghosts to what most people can perceive phenomenally? Would you be open to have these phenomeno brought under 'scientific' scrutiny,similar to the way Buddhist luminaries such as Matthieu Ricard and others have at the Mind and Life institute?

  14. Gorgeous pictures on your site, Pure Awareness shining with self-luminous Beauty, so, so enjoyable, stops the mind instantly!

  15. Hi Jac,

    I have seen about half a dozen contemporary non-dual teachers in person and your communications and descriptions of non-duality are by far the clearest. Well done!

    Having had some experiences myself, I understood everything you described in the awakening story post, although I do not currently have these experiences.

    However, I was disappointed to learn that the use of ayahuasca was part of the story. All the non-dual teachers are trying to awaken people with words or with just their presence, but that is not necessarily how they themselves became awake. You began to awaken spontaneously before the ayahuasca, but the plant was obviously an important part of your awakening. And of the awakening stories I have read, each person's awakening took a different form and proceeded differently.

    Thank you for being and for teaching.

    David Savage
    Vienna, VA

  16. Lovely and resonant. We appear as another to mind, but we are more than mind. We are THAT from which mind flowers. We have never been and will never be unless we think we do.

    Enjoyed discovering yOUR expression today.

    And so it is,

  17. Nice knowledge gaining article. This post is really the best on this valuable topic.
    non dual thinking