The awakening of Nathan Gill
...and then I hit the Advaita scene. I read everything by and about Ramana Maharshi, Jean Klein and Nisargadatta Maharaj and everything by Ramesh Balsekar.
A lot of the confusion that I had felt before went. I understood that all there is is Consciousness, but why did I still feel like a separate me? What was the missing link? If I was already awake and free then why did my life seem like a pile of dung?
In 1997 I read Tony Parson's first book called 'The Open Secret'. I contacted him and he invited me to join a discussion at a private house in London.
I went along and sat in the crowded room and it became clear to me how much mystique I had built around the whole 'enlightenment' drama.
Tony looked like an ordinary man. He spoke with humour and patience. I listened to what he said in response to people's questions and I was struck by the simplicity and clarity of his answers. I went to more discussions over the next year and spoke to Tony on the phone whenever I could.
I wanted to make him into my 'teacher' but he explained that he had nothing to teach, that there was nothing to learn. He pointed out that there is only Consciousness and that I am already that. Although I had accepted this already, it really began to sink in. Tony pointed out that there need not be any kind of 'event' associated with the recognition of your nature as Consciousness.
Well, as it happened, in September 1998 an event did occur. I was gardening and it was drizzling with rain. I looked up and there was a subtle sense of 'me' not being there. I got on my bike and cycled around the lanes and it seemed like there was a movie going on without any effort needed on my behalf to be taking part in it.
Even though Tony had pointed out that no event is necessarily associated with the recognition of your nature as Consciousness, I had obviously still been subtly waiting for one because now that this event, or experience, was occurring I gave myself 'permission' to be awake. I had been waiting for confirmation.
I rang Tony and excitedly explained what was going on and, having given myself 'permission' to be awake, I allowed myself to speak from the clarity of understanding that had already unfolded during the process of my seeking before the event took place. I no longer related as a seeker to Tony and he recognised that I now spoke from my nature as Consciousness.
Now, having associated this experience with being awake, I started to get a bit precious about it.
I woke the next day. Was it still there? Yes! Then, after a few days, I noticed that the experience was wearing off a bit, but a couple of days later it was full on again. After a couple of weeks of the experience coming and going and of trying to hold on to it, I went to one of Tony's discussions and the experience seemed to be re-charged by being there but then a few days later the experience disappeared altogether. I didn't say anything to Tony about it and I didn't go to the meetings for a while. I felt confused again.
Then I happened to read a book called 'Collision with the Infinite' by a woman called Suzanne Segal who, over many years, had an experience going on constantly. After several years it was confirmed by certain 'teachers' that it was 'enlightenment'. Then she got ill and died, and, in the epilogue to Suzanne's book which was written by a therapist friend of hers, I read that near the end she had become confused and frustrated because the experience had left her.
That was it! Suddenly it was absolutely clear to me that these experiences — I call them transcendental events or experiences — actually have nothing to do with clarity. A transcendental experience can last a few seconds or ten years or maybe even the rest of your life, but a transcendental experience is just that. An experience. Many people have had these experiences and then the experience is gone and often the person is left with a desire for more of it. They think they have been given a taste of 'enlightenment', when all that has happened is that they have had a transcendental experience. Walking down the street is an experience, but it's an ordinary one so you don't go looking for more of it.
The confusion was gone. I knew what I am without any doubt and it was obvious that I already had been that all my life. I no longer required any transcendental experience to prove it to me.
The whole of my 'spiritual' search had been added on to what I already am and I also understood why people are confused around this whole issue. Why they confuse 'spirituality' with clarity. This recognition of my true nature was not associated with any transcendental event or experience. It was clear that a transcendental experience of any kind is easily confusing if it occurs before you recognise with clarity your nature as Consciousness.
It is obvious that the transcendental event that was experienced had nothing to do with clarity of recognition. The occurrence of the event brought my confusion to a head and allowed me to see clearly how I had been subtly waiting for an event as permission to be what I already am.
I see now that no transcendental event has any significance in the light of the plain, ordinary, everyday clarity of what you really are.
[Nathan Gill from 'Clarity' — the whole book can be downloaded from http://www.nathangill.com]