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Twenty Questions with Jeff Foster

Life Without A Centre is about the non-separation (nonduality) between

you and your world. It is about the origin of suffering, and the discovery
of freedom within that very suffering.
It is about the ways in which we try to run away from uncomfortable and
painful experiences, and the possibility of discovering ease and relief right
in the midst of those experiences. It is about seeking, and the end of
seeking. It is about seeing life as it is, right now. ~ Jeff Foster
1.) Are you a teacher?
Well, I dont consider myself to be a teacher, in the same way that I
dont consider you to be my student. I dont feel that I have anything
that you lack. Ive always seen what I do as a kind of sharing. A sharing
between friends of something thats really too intimate, too alive, too
present to talk about. And yet talking happens, and thats part of the
Why would one share the sunset? Well, why not?
Why do I talk about nonduality? Well, why not.
Call me a teacher, or call me a friend, or call me nothing at all, it doesnt
really matter in the end. I am what you are. Underneath our individual
stories, what could possibly separate us?

2.) Do you consider yourself to be enlightened or awakened?

Well, to see myself as enlightened or awakened, as a rare and special
human being, as different from or better than you in any way, I would, on
some level, have to separate myself from you. I would have to tell a story
about what I am, and about what you are not. It would be my own belief
I would have to believe my own story. It would be my own dream.
Beyond the dream of identity, how can I know what I am? Beyond the
dream, how could I ever separate myself from you?
Im enlightened or Im awakened or I get this and you dont or Ive
transcended the ego and you havent (and the list of boasts and claims
made by the ego are infinite) are all just thought-constructed identities.

In other words, somebody who thinks they are enlightened, and that you
are not, is simply somebody with a belief that they a separate individual
are enlightened and you are not. They see themselves and you as
separate. Beyond this, there is no way of knowing that you are
enlightened and so there is no enlightenment. The question are you
enlightened? becomes totally irrelevant when things are seen clearly. The
question simply burns up in the clarity of present seeing.

3.) Somebody who claims to be enlightened still sees themselves as

separate perhaps?
Of course, since there is no other way to see yourself as enlightened! A
self-image, including any enlightened self-image, is always separate. It
is always part of the dream.
This message is about seeing through the dream of separation. Thats
why when it comes to this message, there are no authorities, no
enlightened or awakened people, no gurus and no disciples. It is the
person, enlightened or not, that is seen through in the end.
An authority figure is someone who thinks that they know. This message
is all about the not-knowing. And who could be an authority on notknowing? Can I know more about not-knowing than you? Can I possess
more nothing than you? Can there be any more Being herethan there
is there? Can there be an authority on life? Or is life itself the only

4. What is enlightenment or awakening? Do those words have any

Okay. So lets take a fresh look at those words. You see, for me,
enlightenment has nothing to do with somebody becoming enlightened.
Thats the mind talking. Thats the voice of the seeker.
Awakening has nothing to do with somebody becoming awakened.
Thats the myth. Thats the dream the ultimate dream of the ego, in
Enlightenment is simply a word that points to the en-lightened nature of
life itself. If something is en-lightened, it is in the light. It is lit up. It is

visible. And what can be seen is this: Life itself is already fully visible it
is already fully enlightened, filling all space, appearing as everything,
right here and right now.
Open your eyes and the world is simply there. What a miracle! Sights,
sounds and smells simply appear. A bird singing. Hunger. Cars whooshing
past. A thought about last nights football match. Life simple appears, out
of nothing. It appears, and is seen, and life is notseparate from that
seeing. Was there ever anybody here separate from this seeing? Was
there ever anybody here, separate from life, who could become
enlightened? Maybe that was part of the dream
Similarly, awakening is simply a word that points to the ever-present
awakeness of life itself. Life is not asleep, it is awake. Life is not switched
off, it is switched on. It is already awake to itself, appearing as
everything. It is already awake to sights, sounds, smells, to colours,
textures, movement. To the sound of that bird singing. To present
feelings in the body. Was there ever anybody here separate from this
ever-present awakeness? Was there ever anybody here who could
become awakened? Maybe that was part of the dream too

5.) Could it be said the, that Life Without A Centre is about the discovery
of who I really am?
It is the discovery of what you are and what you are not! All your life
you have taken yourself to be an individual, a separate person. You live
with a story of yourself, a self-image that you attempt to protect and
defend. This story becomes your identity who you think you are and
you end up forgetting who you really are, beyond that story.
Thought weaves a story about who you are, based on past experience.
Before you know it, you are a someone rather than a no-one. You are a
person in a world. You have a past and a future. You try to fit in, to
adapt, to make things go the way you want them to, to make your life
work. You build up a list of achievements and failures. You work on
yourself. You try to fix yourself. When asked, you tell your story of me.
You listen to stories about other mes, and compare and contrast, defend
and attack these stories, forgetting that your me is simply a story, and
that story cannot even begin to describe what you really are.
You start to believe that this me really exists outside of thought. You
take it to be so much more than a story. You start to believe that this

me is who you really are! You defend this illusory story of me, and
forget that you are defending nothing more than an image appearing in
awareness. This is the origin of all violence and suffering. Violence and
suffering do not begin out there in the world, they begin with you.
The me is your personal journey, your life story. It holds everything:
Your successes and failures. Your past and future, your memories and
projections. Your beliefs, your judgements, your opinions. Your fears,
your regrets, your worries, youre seeking. I refer to it all as the story,
because thats ultimately what it is, a story, a narrative, a tale, appearing
in awareness, appearing in the present moment and there is only the
present moment.
Ultimately, your entire past and future are merely thoughts appearing in
the present moment, and thats the only reality this personal you has.
The personal you has no reality outside of presently arising thoughts

6.) Is there anything wrong with having a story of me?

Well, there is nothing wrong with the story, in itself!
Many people believe that this individual self is what they are, and they
ignore the space, the openness, the vast ocean of Being in which the
individual arises. They identify exclusively as a separate person and
never stop to ask if that is what they truly are.
You see, this message points to the possibility that you are not what you
think you are.
You have taken yourself to be a separate wave in a vast ocean. You see
yourself as a little person in a vast ocean full of other people. You see
yourself as an individual in a world which is fundamentally separate from
But of course, the separate wave in the ocean is not really separate
from the ocean at all! The separate wave is really just the ocean
appearing temporarily as a wave.
The wave is actually one-hundred percent water. In essence, its the
same as the ocean. And so really there is no separate wave at all.
There only appears to be a separate wave. The wave is in appearance
only. It is a temporary appearance of the ocean.

You what you take yourself to be the person, the character, the me,
only has existence as an appearance, a story appearing now in boundless
Being, a story which is ultimately not separate from Being

7.) Is nonduality all about getting rid of this separate wave? Is it about
getting rid of the appearance of the me and falling back into the ocean?
Perhaps it does sound like Im saying that the appearance of the separate
person is a problem and we should get rid of it. But who is going to get
rid of the wave? The wave? How can the wave get rid of itself?
This is one of the traps that people fall into when they identify themselves
as being spiritual seekers. They think that they need to get rid of the
wave in order to reach the ocean, and there seem to be a lot of spiritual
teachers and gurus out there who believe the same thing. Some spiritual
teachers implore you to kill the ego! or destroy the mind! or get rid of
the self! and miss the fact that the attempt to kill the ego is that very
ego, and the effort to destroy the mind is the mind, and so on
The point is, the wave is already fully ocean. Any attempt to get rid of the
wave is the wave attempting to get rid of itself.
Years ago, when I was a very serious and intense spiritual seeker, I tried
desperately to get rid of Jeff, the character, the person. But this attempt
ultimately ended in failure and frustration, because I was trying to get rid
of something that wasnt actually there! I was fighting an illusion, and
when you fight an illusion, you are assuming that the illusion is real. What
you fight, you give life to. What you resist, persists, as they say.
You dont need to get rid of an illusion. To expose the illusion as an
illusion is enough. To expose an illusion is to end it.
And so the attempt to destroy the ego, transcend the mind, kill the self,
get rid of the me in other words, the spiritual search is really just a
war with life. Its water fighting water.
Luckily, my spiritual seeking failed. And in that failure, this other
possibility shone through a possibility that went beyond seeking and
finding, beyond me getting what I wanted, beyond my personal desire
to become an enlightened person. Beyond the seeker and the sought,
there was and is only unconditional love

Nonduality does not mean not-duality that would be completely

dualistic! In reality, nonduality includes (the appearance of) duality,
because it is everything. It is nothing no-thing and it is everything.
Ultimately, nonduality appears as duality. They are one and the same.
Then you cant even speak of nonduality.
In other words, the appearance of the separate wave is not a problem for
the Ocean. The appearance of your life story is itself a perfect expression
of Being. In this unconditional love, nothing is denied.
And so it was never about getting rid of Jeff. It was always about falling in
love with Jeff, and through him, everything

8.) How does the experience of being a separate person relate

to seeking?
The individual, the separate person, is a seeker. The separate person
always seems to be looking for something more. The gift of this moment
never seems to be enough. They experience lack, and look into the future
to find the end of lack (which is of course, a projection of themselves).
The moment you have an individual, a wave separate from the Ocean,
somebody separate from life you have a seeker.
The moment there is separation, the moment there is two (one thing
separate from another thing), you have a longing to return to One. You
have the experience that something is missing.
The moment there is separation, there is a longing to end the separation.
Its out of the sense of separation which manifests in the individual as
the sense that there is something missing in the present moment that
we begin to seek. We seek to fill a hole in our lives, to put an end to the
sense that we arent quite whole, the sense that we are not quite
complete. And we look out into the world (in other words, into time and
space) to try and put an end to this sense of lack at the heart of our
But no matter how much we achieve in the world, no matter how much
money we make, no matter how many spiritual experiences we have, no
matter how enlightened we get, no matter how many times we meet our
perfect partner or get the perfect job, we never seem to feel complete.
No matter how much we find, the seeking seems to carry on. We get the

new car, the new house, the new job, the new lover, the new guru, the
new spiritual high, and it all satisfies for a while but then the seeking
starts up again. There always seems to be a longing for something more.
We just cant seem to shake off the sense that we are incomplete.
But heres the problem the individual, the seeker, is the very sense of
lack he seeks to be free from.
How can the individual (separation, lack, seeking) put an end to
separation? This is the dilemma which every seeker faces in the end.

9.) When I feel separate, I seek. How is separation and seeking related to
Oneness or wholeness?
Well, really the search of a lifetime is the search for wholeness, for
Oneness, for the end of separation. We think we are looking for money,
for power, for wealth, for love, for spiritual experiences, for
enlightenment, for liberation, for Nirvana.
What we are actually looking for is wholeness.
You see, if were honest, we dont really want material wealth, power,
success. We dont reallywant to become an awakened or enlightened
person. What we really long for is to end the sense of being a separate
person, to end the sense of being someone over here looking for
something over there, to end the sense of being a seeker separate from
what is sought.
What we really long for is just to come Home. To finally come Home to
what we are. To finally see life for what it really is, beyond our concepts
about what it is.
The seeking can become so exhausting. The fight against life can drive us
to despair, to depression, to addiction, or simply to a lifelong sense that
there is something missing, that we arent there yet, that we arent
good enough, that we are sinners, losers, failures
Perhaps its the failure of seeking that points us Home in the end.

10.) Separation is seeking, and seeking is always about the search for
wholenessif so, how do we stop this process? How do we stop seeking?

Good question. But can you see that the search for the end of seeking is
just more seeking? This is another trap on the spiritual search. We see
that seeking is the problem (in the sense that seeking is the very sense
of lack we are trying to overcome) and so we try to give up seeking. We
seek the end of seeking, and the seeking never seems to end.

11.) If we cant stop seeking, and seeking the end of seeking is just more
seeking, what can we do?
As Krishnamurti said: There is no how to be free. If you ask how, youve
stopped listening.
If you ask how do I a separate person stop seeking?, youve already
stopped listening to what is being communicated here.
This message is about the possibility that there never was a separate
person there never was anybody there separate from life. There never
was a seeker separate from what was sought. The question how do I stop
seeking? is rooted in faulty assumptions about who you really are.
And so the question how do I stop seeking? is replaced by is there
actually anybody therewho can seek or not seek?
The question how do I stop seeking? is replaced by is there a seeker at
At the heart of your experience, can you actually find a seeker? Can you
actually findsomebody there who is separate from life? Can you
actually find a person there who is living your life? Or is there just the
present appearance of life?
Is it true that you are a separate
person doing breathing, doing seeing, doing hearing, doingthinking? Or
are breathing, seeing, hearing, thinking just happening? Have you ever
stopped to look, with fresh eyes? Or have you been on automatic pilot
your whole life, just accepting what the world tells you about life and
yourself, and never questioning it? Do you believe that parents, teachers,
gurus, masters have the answers, and have you accepted their answers

12.) How can I see that Im not separate from life? It seems as though I

Well, thats the play. Of course it seems as though you are separate. Of
course it seems as though theres a me and a you. Of course it seems as
though Im over here and youve over there. Of course it seems as though
theres somebody here subjectively looking out at a solid, objective world.
Its supposed to seem that way. The seeming is the appearance.
Theseeming is the play. The seeming is the dance the dance of duality.
But beyond the seeming, is there actually any separation?
Right now, what is happening? For a moment, if you can, and if you are
willing, put everything you believe on hold, suspend all your second-hand
knowledge, forget for a moment what youve been told by teachers,
gurus, authorities, and look with fresh eyes at life. Look with fresh eyes at
your own experience. Begin again, like a child seeing the world for the
first time.
Right now, are sounds appearing? Listen: sounds simply happen. Without
any effort, without you having to do anything, sounds simply appear. The
sound of breathing. The sound of cars beeping their horns outside. The
television blaring. A bird singing.
There is simply the spontaneous play of life.
And then a secondary movement seems to happen: thought comes in and
says I am hearing. I am a separate person, hearing these sounds.
Theres me, and theres the sounds. I am the subject, and the sound is
the object. There is a perceiver and the perceived.
But does this separation ever really happen? In direct, unfiltered
experience, is there any evidence that there is somebody here, hearing
sounds? Is there actually a person here who does the hearing, or is
hearing simply happening, effortlessly? Is there somebody
here doingsounds, or do sounds simply appear spontaneously?
Yes, thought says I hear the sounds, but this begs the question, what is
this I who hears the sounds? Is there really an I hearing the sounds?
Who hears the sounds?

13.) There is hearing, and then a thought says I am hearing?

Well, in direct experience, right now, can you find two things (the one
who hears the sound, and the sound itself)? Or is there just the sound,
being heard, effortlessly?

Is any personal doing involved in hearing? Or does hearing just happen?

Could it be that the hearing of the sound, and the sound, were never
separate? Can you find any dividing line at all, in your direct experience,
between the hearing of the sound and the sound? Any gap in time, or
distance, between the sound and the hearing of the sound?
Can you find the one who hears the sound over here, separate from the
sound over there? Or are over here and over there never part of your
actual experience?
Are there two things? Or is there just the singular movement of life?
Same goes with seeing, thinking, feeling. Can you find anybody
here doing seeing, doing thinking, doing feeling? Or are seeing, thinking
and feeling simply happening, effortlessly?
A question asked by spiritual teachers throughout the
ages: Who sees? Who thinks? Whofeels?

14.) Is this what you mean by Life Without A Centre?

Well, can you actually find somebody there at the centre of life doing
hearing, doing seeing, doing feeling? Or is everything happening
spontaneously in a very mysterious way without you?
Without the thought I hear, hearing still happens, doesnt it?
Without the thought I see, seeing still happens, doesnt it?
We say I am thinking, I am feeling, I am seeing. But in direct
experience, isnt it more true to say that thoughts just appear? Feelings in
the body just appear? Sights and sounds and smells just appear?
That they dont appear to you or for you, they just appear?
That life isnt happening to you or for you, its just happening?
That really life has no centre?
That really, there is simply the present appearance of everything?
This is the dream: that you are a person at the centre of your life,
somehow separate from life. That you are a person doing life, a person
controlling life, a person in charge of life, a person orchestrating thoughts,
feelings, sights, sounds smells

See that life is just living itself. This is not your life, this is just life.
Freedom from the burden of individuality cannot be found by the
individual in time. Freedom from individuality is right at the heart of
individuality. True freedom is not freedom from the personal. Its
freedom in the personal. Freedom as the personal. As Jesus said, you
have to lose your life to save it. Perhaps this is what he was pointing to

15.) Do you offer a practice, a method, something that I can do that will
bring me closer to what youre saying?
Well, in a way, if you ask for a practice, youve not been listening to what
Im saying. Youve already concluded that you are not there, and that you
need a practice or method to take youthere. Of course, if this is what you
believe, it becomes true for you. If you believe that you are not there,
then you will need time to get there, wherever you think there is!
Of course, when it is discovered that there is really here, the question
how dissolves. Because the end of seeking, as I always say, is life as it
is. The end of seeking is not something to be found by the seeker in the
future. The end of seeking is the seeing-through of that very seeker a
timeless seeing that is always now.
The end of seeking is hidden in and as the seeker. Ingenious!
Im not saying that practices and methods are wrong, or bad. You will find
yourself doing practices or not. Im certainly not saying dont do a
spiritual practice because all spiritual practices are dualistic of course,
that would just be a practice in itself. The practice of no practice. The
anti-practice practice.
Some people meditate, some people self-enquire, some people visit
gurus, some people just like walking in nature or listening to music. Its
all life, its all absolutely appropriate to each and every dream, and Im
not here to tell you how to live or what to do. But what these words are
really pointing to is the possibility that there is nobody there separate
from life in the first place and that life itself is not the result of any
You see, no practice can bring you closer to life. There is only life, and all
practices, and absence of practices, appear within life, which is what you
and where you are. If you think you are closer to life, or further away
from life, these are just thoughts appearing within life. Closer and

further away are simply concepts appearing in that which is prior to, and
beyond, all concepts.
Some people do meditation because they think it will get them closer to
what Im pointing to. Some people do self-enquiry because they think it
will get them closer to what Im pointing to. Some people give up
practices altogether because they think it will get them closer to what Im
pointing to. Im not saying any of this is right or wrong, Im just saying
its what seekers apparently do!
The real question of course is who does the practice? Who sits down to
meditate? Who self-enquires? Who asks questions and waits for answers?
All practices, in the end, lead to this question. All seekers, in the end, are
confronted with their own absence.
So, are you open to discovering what lies beyond seeking? Or are you
going to run away from this message, and fall back into seeking, and into
time itself?

16.) Why do you think some spiritual teachers give out practices, then?
Well, perhaps the ultimate point of practices is to make you believe that
you are getting somewhere, until it is seen in clarity that there is nowhere
to go but here! To make you think that you are getting closer to your
goals, until its seen that your goals are imaginary. However, this could be
seen whilst doing spiritual practices but it could also be seen whilst
having a cup of tea, or walking in a park, or listening to music, or
shopping in a supermarket
Theres a world of difference between sitting down to meditate to get
somewhere, and meditating for its own sake. Theres a huge difference
between singing mantras because you think it will bring you closer to
awakening and just singing mantras. Theres a huge difference between
sitting on a chair watching your breathing because you think it will bring
you closer to enlightenment and just sitting on a chair. Theres nothing
wrong with meditation, or singing mantras, or sitting on a chair. How
could there be?
But the question is, what are you looking for? When will you find it? And
is there actually anything to find? Or is there only the present appearance
of life? Is there only life, appearing to no-one? Is that possible? And are
you open to that possibility?

Yes, the need for spiritual practices may simply fall away when its seen
that theres nobody here separate from life. And then you will find
yourself meditating, or not meditating, and either way, you cant go
wrong. Because you will see that meditation is equal to eating a cheese
sandwich. And repeating mantras is equal to going to the shops to buy a
newspaper. It is all the One Taste, as they say in Zen
Perhaps the reason I dont give out specific practices is because I dont
know whats best for you, in your dream. I am not an authority on life
theres no such thing. Im not a guru I dont have a one-size-fits-all
method or practice that will magically solve all your problems. Thats a
lovely idea but unfortunately life doesnt really work like that. In the end,
life isnt something that needs to be fixed anyway

17.) Are you saying we should just stop practices, stop trying to help
ourselves, and others?
Im not here to tell you how to live, only to point back clearly to life as it
is. Im not telling you to give up on life, Im not telling you to stop doing
what youre doing, Im not telling you to stop helping others, Im not even
telling you to do nothing
Look, you will find yourself helping people or not. You dont need me to
tell you how to live. But beyond helping and needing to be helped, there
is a wordless intimacy here in which nobody can help anybody because
there is simply nobody there separate from life. Beyond help and
helplessness, you are already free, and thats the possibility that is being
shared here. And again, this could be seen in the midst of practice, or in
the midst of watching TV or doing the washing up.
Nonduality isnt about detaching yourself from the world and from other
people (and justifying that detachment with the belief that there is no
world and there are no others). Detachment is separation. No, this is
about a life lived in fullness, where nothing is denied. And that fullness
could include moving to help apparent others, although ultimately there
are no others. It could include moving to improve your life, if you think
that your life needs to be improved, even though ultimately its not your
life at all.
To the mind its a total mystery, a total paradox but to what you are, it
is the clearest and most obvious thing of all.

If someone is hungry, you might give them food. If somebody is in

physical pain, you might help ease their pain if that is possible. If
somebody is upset or frightened, you might help them to take a look at
what they are thinking in the moment, to help them feel exactly what
they feel, to see it all as just a story, and to find the open space beyond
the story. When there is unconditional love, there is enough room for all
of this. But where the action comes from, you dont know it all happens
spontaneously, without any specific agenda.
When the completeness of life is seen, there is room for appropriate
action, always.
When you see that the world does not need your help, perhaps thats
when you become the greatest help. Because you get out-of-the-way.
So, after all that, do I really need to give you a practice? Cant you see
that you already have the perfect practice? That youre doing it right now?
That, in fact, you are it?

18.) Do spiritual practices bring you to that very realization? Didnt you do
spiritual practices when you were a seeker? Didnt they bring you to
where you are today?
My goodness, year ago I used to be obsessed with spiritual practices! I
was desperate to become an enlightened person, I was desperate to
become awakened, to lose my self and merge with life. I was a
depressed, miserable human being, and I saw spiritual enlightenment as
the only way out. Modern psychology hadnt worked for me it only
seemed to deal with surface issues. I didnt want to fit in or adapt to
society I wanted to be free, totally, radically, free. I didnt want a
fleeting state called happiness I wanted truth and reality, something
absolute and unchangeable, something totally beyond earthly pleasure
and pain. And so I turned to the teachings of enlightenment, and I
became obsessed with my own enlightenment (a wonderful contradiction
in terms!)
I tried everything. I meditated for hours every day, I did self-enquiry
obsessively, I even became a vegan for a while because I thought it
would bring me closer to enlightenment, closer to the disappearance of
the self, closer to the dissolution of separation. And it was all very
exciting at first, because I thought that I a separate person was

getting somewhere. I thought that the seeker was getting closer to the
sought. I thought that I was nearly there.
But eventually, the seeking failed. Why? Because no matter what I did, or
didnt do, there was still the sense that there was somebody there,
separate from life, doing or not doing. No matter what I did, or gave up
doing, to try and get rid of separation, separation still seemed to be
I was in a double-bind. I saw that seeking was futile, but I couldnt give
up. I saw that practices were pointless (because they seemed to fuel the
sense that I was separate) but I also saw that not doing practices, or
giving up practices, was just another practice, just another tactic to bring
about a desired change. The seeking ended in despair and frustration.
How could a separate self get rid of a separate self? Not possible. I was
And in that lost-ness, in that frustration and despair, another possibility
arose. And it had nothing to do with somebody doing something to
get somewhere. It went beyond doing practices or not doing practices.
This possibility said that freedom was already right here and right now,
and that there had never been anyone here separate from it. That no
practice can take you to freedom, because practices already arise in
freedom. That the I could never become awakened, but ever-present
awakeness is already here, lovingly embracing everything, and here is the
end of all seeking. It all became as clear as crystal, as obvious as
breathing. It wasnt an experience (experiences come and go), it wasnt a
passing state (states are in time), it was life as it is, and it had always
been staring me in the face.
In the seeing of this, practices became totally unnecessary. Having a
coffee with a friend became equal to sitting down to meditate. Why?
Because it was seen that the one who sits down to have a coffee with a
friend is the one who sits down to meditate! The one who walks through
the park looking at the beautiful flowers, or the one who lies in a hospital
bed in extreme pain, is the one who sings mantras or goes to therapy or
spends a lifetime seeking enlightenment! The seeker is the sought. There
is nothing to find nothing was ever lost. As wise men and women
throughout the ages have tried to tell us You Are That. Already.
And so these days, life is very simple. The spiritual search came crashing
down, and what emerged from the rubble is a very ordinary life being
lived. Who it is lived by, I have no way of knowing. The question, Who is

living life? self-destructs the moment it asked. It collapses under the

weight of its own assumptions every question does in the end.
Who is living life? that question cannot stand.
The mystery is enough. I still call myself Jeff (the character is not lost,
the wave goes on being a wave), but what is seen is that Jeff is simply a
wonderful story, a narrative that comes and goes in that which does not
come and go. I dont even need to be attached to the story I am not Jeff
or I am nobody that would just be another identity, something else
that comes and goes.
And so, what is left? Life, lived in fascination. Life, lived in gratitude.
Life, in its radical simplicity.

19.) Did those practices lead you to this realization?

Yes and no. Its always yes and no, and totally beyond yes and no. The
mind operates in the world of yes and no. But of course, life is always
beyond mind. This is why this is very difficult to talk about
You see, practices were all about me attempting to get somewhere, while
this realisation was a seeing-through of this me who was trying to get
somewhere! Practices were all about doing something to bring about a
change this was the seeing that life is always exactly as it is, and no
change, in the moment, is necessary.
Practices were all about cause-and-effect, about putting in effort to get a
result, and what was seen is that life is ever-free from cause-andeffect. Life as it is is not the result of effort, because effort and result,
cause and effect, indeed all thoughts about life, are simply thoughts
appearing in life.
The thought of a cause doesnt actually cause anything. The thought of a
result is not the result of anything. The past does not bring you to the
present. The present is all there is, and the past is just a story arising in
the present. (And ultimately the present is just another thought too)
In the story of time, it seems as though there is cause and effect.
It seems as though A leads to B. It seems as though acorns grow into oak
trees. It seems as though what I did brought me to where I am now. It
was this illusion (this seeming) that was seen through! The seeming has

no reality outside of thought. Im not saying there is no seeming. Im

saying there is onlyseeming in thought.
No practice brought me here, because I am not here! Or you could say
that I is just a story arising here, appearing in the vastness of life itself.
The shocking realisation was this: freedom had nothing to do with
whatever Jeff did or didnt do on his spiritual search. Freedom is not a
result of Jeffs search. Life is not caused by Jeffs search (what arrogance
it would be to think that!). Jeffs search appeared in life and itself was a
full expression of life.
In other words, I had always been Home, but hadnt realised it.
Even in the depths of seeking there had been Oneness. But that hadnt
been seen and thats why the seeking had continued for as long as it
did. Seeking is equal to not-seeing.
It was Oneness, dressed up as a seeker, looking for Oneness!
Oneness looking for itself

20.) Do you feel that your seeking was necessary?

I must say this: the story of Jeffs search is the only story that could have
happened, because it did happen. I simply had to go through what I went
through, not because it was predestined, but because it happened, simple
as that. What happened, happened. The dream you dream is the only
possible dream. Your life story is the only possible story that could have
arisen. Your dream is perfect for you.
And so spiritual practices were necessary (only because they happened)
until it was seen in clarity that they werent necessary. And when it was
seen that they werent necessary, it was also seen that they had never
been necessary, because there had only ever been life, and no practice
had ever taken me even one inch closer to life.
You see, I have always been this. Even before I did spiritual practices I
was this. When I took my first breath, I was this. When I take my last, I
will be this. I cannot not be this. And neither can you. You are what I am.
And that recognition renders all spiritual practices obsolete.
As I said, this is not a rejection of spiritual practices, but a movement
beyond them, for those who are open.

It doesnt take another 50 years of meditation, or psychotherapy, or guru

worshipping, to become what you are. However, if you believe that it
does, if that is your dream, then you will probably find yourself
meditating, or worshipping a guru, or attending psychotherapy sessions
for the next 50 years. I wish you the best of luck! You live your own
dream. What you believe is necessary becomes necessary for you, in your
dream. Its that simple.
And maybe the freedom that being pointed to here will be seen in the
midst of meditation or psychotherapy. Or maybe it will be seen in the
midst of doing the dishes, or walking through the park, or reading these
words. Who knows. There are no rules, and there is no authority. Or if
there is any authority, it is life itself, not any particular individual within
life. Although ultimately every apparent individual is simply an expression
of life
You will find yourself meditating, or not meditating, and I am not here to
tell you how to live. There are enough people in the world telling you how
to live! But if you really listen to what Im saying, you may find that the
need to practice or be practiced on simply falls away very naturally and
then all thats left is life happening, with no need to do anything to get
closer to life happening. Its an intimacy beyond words, and really its
where you already are, even if you dont know it. Everybody is this, even
if they dont recognise it.
Ultimately you cant even return Home because you never left Home in
the first place. You cant find the miracle because youve always been
living it. You cant become awakened, you cant transform into an
awakened person or reach an awakened state, because life itself is
already awake, and there is nobody here separate from that ever-present
awakeness. In a way, this turns all spiritual teachings upside-down and
inside-out, revealing a previously ignored simplicity right at the heart of
For the spiritual seeker attached to their spiritual teachings and teachers,
this message is radical, no doubt about it!
I know that not a word I say could be true, because no word can touch
life. Life is too alive for words. So, no, I dont actually believe in this stuff,
in the sense that I cannot form it into a belief that Im separate from. I
dont believe in life because there is only life. Life as it is does not
require belief, and thats the beauty of it. It is simply this here and now.
It is breathing happening, it is the heart beating, it is sights and sounds

and smells appearing exactly as they appear. It is sound of the washing

machine whirring. It is the taste of the cup of tea Im drinking. So simple,
so obvious, so present. So wonderfully ordinary, so extraordinarily
wonderful. No need for belief, at all. All belief comes and goes, but this
remains, whether Jeff believes it or not!
Life is the bonfire that burns up all beliefs, all words, even these words,
leaving only presence. These words appear and are immediately burnt up.
Jeff knows he is not special or different he is simply an appearance in
life. I cannot be an authority on nonduality, I cannot know this, because
these words are equal to the barking of a dog or the tweeting of a bird. It
is all the One expression, it is all an expression of the One, and nobody
can separate themselves from that expression and claim ownership.
Nobody can teach life itself, nobody can give you that, because the dog
barking, the bird singing, the sun shining is already life itself. Nobody can
teach you it because everything is teaching it everything is it.
Im not saying there is no authority, except for Jeff! (and this is the
guru trap of course). Im saying there is no authority, and that includes
Jeff and his expression . To be totally free from all authority, including
your own thats the real freedom.
These words come from the certainty that there is nothing to know. Its
not the certainty of the mind, but the certainty that is not-knowing itself.
All knowledge, all intellectual certainty, is just a play of thought. Beyond
thoughts, there is no world. Beyond the world, there is nothing to know.
Who would know it?
You see, where there is belief, there is doubt. Anything you believe, you
can also doubt. If I believed any of this stuff, I could also doubt it. But
because for me this is not a belief, there is no doubt either, not a trace of
Life as it is cannot be doubted. In simple language, you cannot doubt that
you are awake and present, right here, right now. You cannot doubt this
simple feeling of being that is identical with life itself. You cannot doubt
the sound of that bird singing, or the taste of this cup of tea, or breathing
Oh yes, you can doubt everything you know about life, you can doubt all
the language we use to point to and describe life, you can doubt even the
word life itself, but you cannot (unless you are in total denial!) doubt the
reality to which the word life points. And even if doubt appears, life is

that which is doing the doubting. So in the end you cant escape it. You
are Home, no matter what. Beyond belief, beyond doubt.
When there is nothing to know, when there is no belief and therefore no
doubt, all thats left is life itself, in all its beauty and rawness, and a deep,
unshakeable knowing that this is all there is and that this is enough
(because this is all there is).
Its not something that you know. But, undoubtedly, it is known. Life
knows, because life is. The Knowing is the Being, and in that, everything
comes full circle, and life completes itself. The origin of life is its
destination, and its destination is its origin. Creation and destruction are
To look life in the face, and to see only love, only an intimacy beyond
words looking back at you, thats when you know its all over and only
just beginning.
Welcome to Life Without A Centre, the life you are already living!

Twenty Questions with Chuck Hillig

Theres just something about Chuck Hillig that draws you to him. Maybe
its the warmth of his voice or the twinkle in his eye. Or maybe its
because he can explain the mysteries of the universe in such a simple
way that you have to nod you head and say, Well, of course. I knew
that. Its almost tempting to say that hes part Ram Dass, part Alan
Watts, part this sage or that guru. But thats just not fair. Hes just all,
wellChuck Hillig. He knows who he is and, because of that, he knows
who you are, too. And because he really knows it, he transmits that
knowledge in his books and his talks and, truth be told, just in his being
around youif youre open to it.
Hes a fascinating Speaker whose talks leave your soul singing. Hes a
compassionate counselor who has a gift, not so much for taking your
burdens from you, but for showing you, as you travel along the path of
your life, how to set them down and leave them behind. As with all good
teachers, (and thats maybe the best description of Chuck, though not
one he might choose for himself), Chuck doesnt jam the information
down anyones throat. He lovingly beckons awareness from where its
been hiding inside of us. He doesnt tell us what we dont know; instead,
he reminds us of what weve forgotten.

Hes one of those rare individuals who can do that with a smile or a
glance. And for those who dont get it from just that, he has written some
truly extraordinary books (now in five languages), gives enlightening talks
and is available for professional consultations. ~Laren Bright
When Consciousness pretends that theres a separation between what It
says It is (the I), and what It says It isnt (the not-I), then the world
mysteriously reappears. But Its not really going anywhere. Remember
that the purpose of a song is not to arrive at the final note. The purpose
of a song is found in the joyous singing of It. So it is with Consciousness.
In other words, Its just singing!

1.) But Chuck, It really cant be that basic. Arent you simplifying this
whole thing a little bit too much?
A: How can you oversimplify something that is, by Its very nature,
simplicity Itself? In fact, because Its simplicity is absolutely complete and
pure, It can only manifest Itself by pretending to be complex. In other
words, when the indivisible Consciousness pretends to be divided into
parts, It creates an illusory world of polarities. And you already are that
very Consciousness, Itself!

2.) Yes, but if Im really this so-called It, then why dont I have a direct
and personal experience of being It right now?
A: This you, (the illusory ego-self that you think you are), can never
personally experience Its own true, fundamental nature. You can only be
what It already is (i.e., It). In other words, you will never be able to get It
simply because It already is It! Or, to put It another way, how can you
ever arrive at a place where you are already dwelling?
Believing that youre not really there, however, provides the cosmic
momentum for It to, seemingly, go out looking for Itself.
Its this purposeful misidentification that sets the entire drama of your life
into (e)motion.

3.) Well, if any of It is really true, how can I actually use this philosophy
in my everyday life?
A: You cant use It in the usual sense because, actually, It will only be
using you. At one level, though, you can stay more aligned with It by
consciously choosing exactly what It appears to be choosing for you.
In other words, practice saying a resounding Yes! to whatever shows up
for you. And, even when you feel like saying no, then just say yes to the
fact that, at least for that moment, youre saying no.
Its best, though, to always make Yes! your default position in life. Dont
reject anything, not even your own rejections!
Remember, however, that you, (the historical ego-self) are only
pretending that youre able to manipulate or control It. Consciousness will
always get Its own way in the end, simply because, no matter where you
think your ego-self is going, It is already there, waiting for you.

4.) Is this why you say that It is always directly in front of me in Its
absolute totality?
A: Yes. I mean, where else could It possibly be? By definition, there cant
be some of It here and then some more of It around the corner, too. That
would be implying that It could, somehow, be divided from Itself. But, if
Its absolutely simple and complete, then It cant really have any parts at
all. It can only pretend to have parts. The you that you think you are is
only one of the many parts that It is pretending to have.
So whatever is in your experience at this very instant is absolutely all of
It. Theres really nothing and nowhere else. Or, to put it another way,
through Its own Is (your Is), It sees 100 percent of Itself, 100 percent of
the time. None of It is ever missing simply because none of It can ever be
left out.
Not ever!
Its right there in front of you, in Its absolute totality, all of the time.

5.) But where does our idea of God come in?

A: As I said earlier, God really doesnt come into It at all. God actually
comes out of It. The word God (or the Self, Allah, Yahweh, Spirit, etc.) is
simply the egos attempt to give a more formal name to the unnamable
Its like a movie actor whos trying to name the underlying screen that he
believes is necessary for his unfolding drama to be made manifest.
The greatest obstacle, though, is the actors ego based wish to be a
personal witness to his own awakening to this truth.
However, thats completely impossible. Why? There cant be a separate
person present at the so-called awakening, because there isnt a separate
person present right now, whos not awakened.
In other words, theres nothing for this actor to get. There isnt a separate
actor present whos available to be getting It or, not getting It in the first
place! In short, all that there truly is, is the seamless and unbroken
Screen of Pure Consciousness, Itself, this mysterious It. After all, It is all

6.) Yes, but what does that do to this whole idea of choice? I mean,
doesnt free will really exist?
A: Before addressing that question, you need to determine if there are
separate individuals out there who are truly present and real.
You see, if all separation is an illusion, then any discussion about some
illusory self having a free will or not would be as useless as arguing about
the probable water temperature of a lake mirage out in the desert.
Just like theres no real lake out there with a water temperature, theres
also no real separate self present which could have (or not have) a socalled free will.

7.) But what does that notion do to the idea of karma, reincarnation and
the law of cause and effect? Are any of those ideas real?
A: Well, yes and no. At one level, karma and reincarnation do exist, but
neither of them is actually real. These two phenomena persist as long as
there continues to be the illusion of a separate and an individual self who
believes that he is the so-called do-er.

Heres how It seems to work: If you consider yourself to be setting up

causes, either good or bad, youre automatically implying that, sooner or
later, youll have to be experiencing their effects either good or bad.
Cause and effect always arise simultaneously.
But, if all separation is illusory, then exactly who is actually experiencing
the phenomena of cause and effect?
In other words, who, specifically, is all of this life and death drama
involving karma and reincarnation happening to? Whos the who?
If all there is, is Consciousness, then exactly who is being reincarnated
Or, for that matter, who really died in the first place in order to be

8.) So are you saying that all of mankinds past history is only part of
this great illusion, and that none of it ever really happened!?
A: Theres only One so-called movie playing on the Cosmic Screen, and
Its always the very drama thats surrounding you.
So, did mankinds history ever really happen? Consider this: When you
watch a movie, did the off-screen events that are referred to by the
characters in the film really take place at all? No, of course not. But the
dramatic story on the screen is greatly advanced (and enhanced) by the
viewers willingness to pretend that those off-screen events being referred
to did, in fact, actually occur.
But It (the Cosmic Movie) is always fully present in Its absolute totality,
right there in front of you. Nothing is ever being left out.
In short, this really is It, and Its all happening just for you in this very
precious moment of Now.

9.) Yes, but what about the future? It almost sounds like youre saying
that I shouldnt try to do anything about it.
A: No, Im not suggesting that at all. For example, if It moves you to save
the whales, help the poor, stop the spread of HIV, etc., then go ahead

and throw yourself into It 100 percent. Dont hold anything back! Go
ahead and do It.
The you that you think you are, though, is not really the do-er or the true
source of any of these actions. Consequently, this same you need not
concern Itself with the results of any of these actions that Its feeling
compelled to do.
Remember that Consciousness is only sourcing Itself. So, by playing out
all the so-called parts, Consciousness is the only One thats really doing
any of It. Its the only game in town!
In truth, theres nothing else (and no one else) present at all. You are not
really here. Only It is here. And, although It uses different mouths, Its
only been having a monologue.
As strange as It sounds, It is totally alone!
Or, to put It another way, It is All One.

10.) But are you saying that I shouldnt really care about how things
work out?
A: Actually, Im just suggesting that you play out your role in the cosmic
drama with gusto and passion. Remember, though, that you can remain
truly detached from what shows up for you only if you give up your idea
about what working out looks like. In truth, things will neither work out
nor will they not work out. They will only be whatever they will be.
If you overlay what you think should be happening on top of what actually
is happening, thats only a manifestation of the ego-self pretending to be
the do-er of whats unfolding. But, in truth, It is doing It all.
The irony here is that, even though it doesnt really matter what you do in
your role, Its still very important that you go ahead and do It anyway.
After all, the dance is best honored when the dancer (It) dances the
dance, even if It means that, sometimes, Its going to be stepping on Its
very own toes!
Its all only a dazzling display of colors in a cosmic kaleidoscope. The
nature of the Consciousness that you are is to be what It is, by
pretending to, seemingly, become what Its pretending to not be.

11.) Are you enlightened?

A: Well, if all divisions on the Cosmic Screen are illusory, then how is
individual enlightenment even possible?
In other words, what separate being is ever really there to be enlightened
(or, for that matter, to be unenlightened) in the first place?

12.) But isnt any of It real?

A: No matter what activities are happening in the movie, the fundamental
reality beneath It all is still only the unbroken and seamless screen thats
supporting all of the dramas that are being played out upon It.
Although the world appears to exist, the only thing thats really real is
Consciousness Itself.
So, as the historical ego-self that you think you are, youve always been
looking directly into the cosmic mirror of life Itself, and beholding the
wondrous and multifaceted face of God.
The incredible miracle is that Its always been your face!


So, then, why is everyone seeking some sort of enlightenment, this

A: In truth, you already are who you are looking for. Enlightenment is not
the attainment of anything new. Instead, It is more like a discovery of the
essential truth about what actually is. Your personal drama, though, will
continue to magically unfold around you exactly as It does. You wont
really awaken from the dream as much as youll awaken to the dream.
But, in this awakening, the Dreamer has to disappear entirely. If not, hell
just substitute one dream called once I was asleep for a newer dream
thats called now I am awake! And heres the great cosmic irony: The self
who is asleep is also the very same self who is awake. After all, theres
only one self. Only one Consciousness. Only one It.
The mesmerizing seductiveness of the dream is seen in the longstanding
belief that, someday, if the Dreamer only plays his cosmic cards right, he
will eventually awaken. But, in truth, the enlightenment bus that hes

been waiting for will never show up for him. Why? Well, by expecting that
some future awakening may occur for him somewhere in time, hes only
reinforcing his belief that the very same Consciousness he is seeking is
not 100 percent fully present for him, right here and right now. But It
always is.

14.) Isnt there some kind of objective reality in the world? What about
the idea of good and evil? Dont they really exist, even as a small part of
this universal Consciousness?
A: It might help you to consider that Consciousness (It) is a kind of
context or space that appears to contain a world of polarities. But, at the
very heart of truth, theres really no success or failure. Theres no right
and no wrong; no good and no bad; no victors and no victims; no heaven
and no hell and no life and no death.
All of these polarities only appear on the subjective spectrum of opposites
that It creates for Itself in order to play out Its cosmic drama.
In a sense, these opposites appear to radiate out in all directions from the
point of view that you (as your historical ego-self) think that you have. It,
however, contains It all.

15.) What can I do to improve myself spiritually? Dont I need to change

in some way?
A: But how can who you are really change? Your basic nature is pure
Consciousness. Essentially, you are infinite, omnipresent, impersonal,
omniscient, and immutable. As such, there is nothing that you need to
remember, to learn about, to realize, to strive for, to pray to or to
meditate on.
In fact, Its the very belief that real change and spiritual progress is
possible that provides the momentum for you (as the historical ego-self)
to want to propel your story forward and out into some kind of illusory
future where you can, hopefully, become satisfied, sanctified, or made
more whole.
But, in truth, you cant ever become any more of who you already are.
Why not?

Because you already are whatever It is that you are seeking.

16.) What about all of the current interest in metaphysics? Wont It help
me to study things like astrology, ESP, tarot, crystals, channeling and so
forth? Why wouldnt my growth in those esoteric areas be a very positive
sign of my spiritual progress?
A: Although the study of metaphysics is neither good nor bad, It often
proves itself to be a time-consuming diversion for many people. When
youre spiritually seduced by the promise that you can attain special
knowledge or powers, Its easy for the seeker to become unwittingly
distracted from his true inner quest.
Consequently, these esoteric and pseudo-spiritual practices often give the
seeker something else to get attached to or, even worse, to feel superior
about, instead of helping the seeker to look inside, to discover the truth
about who he really is
Playing the game of spiritual one-upmanship is a subtle ploy thats often
used by the ego to avoid the possibility of experiencing personal
annihilation in the face of Its own infinite vastness.

17.) So how do you suggest that I learn to live with myself being this
infinite Consciousness?
A: Does an ocean wave really need to find the ocean? You already are
whatever It is that youre seeking. So, just commit yourself 100 percent
to doing whatever It is that youre doing, but do It consciously and with
an open-hearted sense of detached compassion and total love.
Avoid judging or discriminating against anyone in any way. Other people
are neither bad nor good. They just are as they are. Period. After all,
doesnt an author love his villains every bit as much as he loves his
Touch life softly, and live each moment as if youre arriving at It, and
departing from It, at the very same instant.
Consciousness will appear to tease you, seduce you, scare you, amaze
you, and, from time to time, even try to overwhelm and destroy you.
Oftentimes after It scares you to death, It thrills you to life. But learn to

fully embrace It as who you are because Its just doing the incredible
dance of the divine. After all, Its the very play of Consciousness, Itself!
And, remember that all of It is being staged for your own delight and
edification! Welcome It all joyfully, with a sense of deep gratitude and
profound wonder.
Your being able to play in the world is a miraculous gift that
Consciousness is giving to Itself, so be sure to be an appreciative
audience to your own melodrama. All of It is just for you.
Let everything happen to you because Its really all okay, right here and
right now, being just as It is!
Remember, the so-called purpose of any dance is not for the dancers
body to end up in some final, frozen position. The real purpose of any
dance is only found in the actual dancing of the dance, Itself!
Since you cant get out of It, then just get further into It.
So, whatever happens to show up in your drama, just keep on dancing,
right where you are!

18.) Wont I need some kind of dance teacher to help me with all of It?
A: Yes. A teacher is necessary, but you need to give up your idea about
what this teacher might actually look like. The guru may not show up for
you as a physical human being.
However, the guru (It) is ever-present, and Its always appearing directly
in front of you as everything, and everyone, that youre pretending youre
not. And, since the experiences that show up for the historical ego-self
are, in fact, the gurus deepest teaching, you cant get lost.
You need to trust that this grace will slowly begin to awaken you from
your delusion of separation. Whatevers happening in your life at this very
moment is the golden path that It has chosen to lead you to your
awakening. The drama unfolds when youve forgotten that you have
chosen It being exactly as It is.
And so here is yet another very strange paradox: It turns out to be Its
own guru!

19.) Well, does this philosophy have some kind of special name?
A: Yes, It does. This is a taste of the cross-cultural perennial philosophy
that has appeared in all societies and cultures. In India, for example, Its
known as Advaita, the ancient path of direct insight and knowledge. Its
really the way less way because the seeker is not focused primarily on the
ritualistic devotion, surrender or outward activity thats usually found on
many of the other paths.
The emphasis here is to use the power of self inquiry to seek out the
source of the belief in I by asking yourself the ultimate, primordial
question: Who am I?
All of the answers to that mind stopping question slowly drop away. You
awaken to find yourself in a place in the heart that you never really left.
At that pointless point of awareness, your ground of being becomes, quite
simply, I am, and you recognize the very essence of who you really are:
Love. Loving Itself!

20.) Okay, but quite honestly, how can any of this strange stuff help the
real world?
A: Well, is it the so-called real world thats asking this question, or is it
only the you whom you think you are?
Your spiritual work lies in discovering for whom this question is arising.
As Ramana Maharshi said, The answer to lifes problems is to first see
who has them!
And so, It is.

Before he retired in 2006, Chuck Hillig worked professionally as a statelicensed psychotherapist in California for 30 years. During his long career,
he has helped thousands of people deal with a variety of both worldly and
spiritual issues: depression, anxiety, communication, stress reduction,
relationships, grief work, anger management, parenting, addiction, life
transitions and re-discovering spirituality.
Over the years, Chuck has presented hundreds of lectures, seminars and
workshops about both psychological and spiritual subjects to a wide

variety of audiences from teens to seniors. He has been invited to speak

at churches, hotels, libraries, high schools, universities, hospitals, retreat
centers and military bases in more than a half a dozen different states.
Chuck is a Life Member of Mensa and is a regular Speaker at both their
local Regional Gatherings on the east coast and at their yearly Mensa
Annual Gatherings across the country.
Because of his formal training as a psychotherapist, Chuck is able to
effectively combine the spirituality of eastern philosophy with the
practicality of western psychology in powerful ways that clearly speak to
the Heart of who we really are. Chuck has appeared as a Guest on dozens
of TV and radio shows in California, Illinois, New Mexico, Colorado, North
Carolina, Utah, New York and Canada. Chuck was also interviewed about
his books and philosophy by the producers of the powerful movie, Leap!
Chuck Hillig makes his home in Locust Grove, Virginia, and has one heck
of a good time living life. Chuck is available for private sessions either by
phone or by video Skype. You can contact him at: