transcript: A Conversation with Andrew Hewson and Davidya Buckland on Renunciate and Householder Paths

Andrew: Peace and love everyone. My name is Andrew Hewson. I’m a spiritual teacher. I’m here with my friend, David “Davidya” Buckland. David is an author. He has a blog, Davidya.ca, where he writes about various topics within the general theme of life and enlightenment.

We have been having talks here together for about a year now, and we have discussed many different things. It’s all, really tying back into the general unfoldment of realization or enlightenment and the various things that may be encountered in the midst of that. David is also the author of a book, Our Natural Potential. It’s a wonderful book that goes into the details of the seven stage model that he expresses.

And we both really come into this subject from direct experience and direct cognition. So we’re not arbitrarily or intellectually just repeating things that we’ve heard. We both are just coming from what we have seen in our own process and what we feel may be relevant for the listeners. So we’re glad that you’re here with us.

Today we’re going to be exploring the difference in orientation when it comes to the unfoldment of enlightenment, one of the classic differences between the householder and the renunciate path and just subtleties in the midst of the process.

So I’m glad to be here with you, David, to explore this subject.

David: Thank you, Andrew.

A: Perhaps we can begin by just looking at the difference between the householder way of life and the renunciate way of life and give a little bit of context and see how that kind of filters the perception and the recognition of the process of unfoldment as it arises.

D: Yes, I think it’s important to understand first though that the underlying process is the same for everybody. What’s actually waking up to itself and so forth. What varies is in the flavors of experience that different body-minds have. In essence, each of us is a unique point of experience, a unique reference point within universal consciousness.

And that’s essentially our nature to be here, to have a distinct experience of the whole and add that to the whole experience of itself, to bring out all the details in that wholeness. And so it’s in our nature to experience this process in a distinctive way, somewhat different from everybody else’s, and yet the underlying process is the same. There’s variations in the flavors and experience of it. And yes, one of the primary ways that unfolds is in that distinctive householder-renunciate dynamic.

Now, one of the things it’s important to recognize is the flow of time, and time moves in rising and falling cycles of greater and lesser awakening. And historically, there was a descent out of a Golden Age into a progressively heavier period, and into a dark age, literally when we had the dark ages in the West, as described in the West, it was a dark period in consciousness. And during that time the renunciate path had been somewhat lost and was revived by sages like Shankara and, you know, re-emphasized. Particularly in a darker age it was very difficult to make spiritual progress while out in the world. And so the renunciate path became very strongly emphasized and overemphasized in a way.

But now we’re rising out of that darker age and the renunciate, is no longer necessary to withdraw from the world to make spiritual progress. It’s better now to be following our natural path and by far the vast majority of us are naturally in a householder’s path, and that’s only natural. I mean, if we’re all renunciates, then the human species would die out.

So it’s important to have a balanced life, and you know, we can look at the ancient texts, and the vast majority of the sages in those texts were householders. This isn’t something unusual. Did you want to comment on hat further?

A: Sure, yeah, I can say a few things. I think it’s interesting that you point out that in the ancient texts that a lot of the sages were householders, but I also find that there there are many scriptures that tend to have more of a renunciate emphasis, that have become popular within the circles of non-duality.

Scriptures that are coming from a space of seeing the world as illusion or seeing through the world. There’s a heavy emphasis on seeing that the world is just a play of appearances. And one of the most important things to recognize is that these scriptures are quite appropriate, but within a certain context.

So oftentimes certain scriptures are coming from a certain stage or a certain recognition or modality of conscious awareness. And if that is taken to be the only option or that is taken to be the ultimate or the end goal without the proper understanding that it’s one stage in the midst of an unfoldment, then there can tend to be a little bit of confusion or a little bit of trouble that arises.

Now, that being said, we’ve also discussed how seeing the world as illusion can correlate with the dominant guna or just the egoic filter that is present. And so certain scriptures may be coming from more of a rajasic filter, or more of a space of seeing through something. It is appropriate, and we may pass through those phases where there’s a prominence of seeing through something, seeing that something is unreal.

At the same time, that’s on the way to realizing what its reality actually is. What is the underlying truth of the appearance? So it’s only half of the story to see what is unreal. The full story contains the recognition of the real. So in the context of the householder-renunciate flavors, the renunciate path tends to have more of a masculine style approach and it tends to emphasize the seeing through the unreal and transcending the limitations of the world and everything that is contained within that web of attachments. At the same time, if it’s not balanced out by the feminine, then we end up with a bit of a lopsided process.

D: Yes, and one that’s somewhat dry and so forth. Yes, I fully understand and agree with your points there. And perhaps it would be worthwhile just reviewing the Guna influence. Those are Tamas, Rajas and Sattva.

Tamas is essentially inertia, that which keeps things solid and stable. And for most people, that’s the dominant guna in their experience. And so they experience the world as solid and real. But as we do spiritual practices and culture, a deeper sense of self, then the Gunas tend to shift.

We shift into a more transformational phase and then Rajas becomes more dominant. And when Rajas is dominant, then we tend to experience the world as illusory, almost like a mirage. And there can be a more renunciate emphasis in that period as well, simply because the world that we had been devoted to before has become illusory, and so it loses its charm and we’re much more interested in the inner reality that’s been unfolding. And so there may be a tendency to let go, which is great because it’s essentially a letting go process that results in awakening. And so that has become the teaching of a number of teachers, to assist in that initial shift. But not everybody has that flavor of process. And it is possible to awaken even when Tamas is dominant, but that tends to be a much more, not as nice a process and tends to be create more absolutism, what’s the word, fundamentalism, rigidity about the experience and the understanding.

And then as we further culture the physiology, then sattva becomes dominant, and then the world is seen more as the divine play. We become more conscious of the dynamics that are underlying the activity of the world and what’s driving that. And so the perspective changes again.

But for sattva to develop, that requires the feminine. That requires the refinement and unfolding to take place. And that’s what fills out the process when we have both masculine and feminine processes underway.

A: Yeah, that’s a really beautiful point. And it kind of reflected back some deeper layers of what I was attempting to move into. And it’s kind of this recognition that a lot of the information, a lot of the teachings that we have received in the West tend to come from sannyasis. They tend to, you know, at least in the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, you know, a lot of teachings were coming from or through teachers that had taken a renunciate vow, you know, they were living a renunciate way of life.

And so that information made its way into the collective, you know, consciousness of the the Western spiritual marketplace to some degree.

And so the differentiation between the household life and the renunciate way of life was not always explicitly understood. There was a lot of perhaps vague borders and things that were not clearly delineated. Now, there were certain teachers that did clearly delineate the difference expressed that it was appropriate to be more in the household way of life. But I find that oftentimes there’s just sort of an automatic assumption by many, including myself, that spirituality means something that is associated with this renunciate way of being. And indeed, it does have a distinct tie to renunciation, but I would say that there’s a version of renunciation which is appropriate for the household, and then there’s a different, more delineated, more, how would you say, exposed level of renunciation, which has to do with taking vows and, you know, not participating in certain activities and those kinds of things.

Did you have something you want to say?

D: Yes, that’s a very good point. I remember when I was young, my teacher was a monk at the time, and I read one of his books, and in the back he talked about the different yogas or paths to enlightenment. And I have a strong intellect, and so I read about the path of the intellect, the jnani. And he said that for the jnani to be successful, he has to be able to distinguish reality from unreality, and it’s very difficult to do that in the world, so this is the path of the monk.

And so I spent a little bit of time trying to figure out how I was supposed to be a monk in the West. He actually developed a renunciate program later, but it also became very, very clear that to me, you know, I was a bit of a slow learner on that one, but it became very, very clear to me that I was a householder and not a renunciate.

And as the saying goes, if you try to follow the path of another, then you’ll fail at both. So if one is a natural householder, it’s important to follow your path. I mean, that certainly doesn’t deny that we go on occasional retreats or have a period of where renunciation is more emphasized, but it’s more a renunciation of attachment than renunciation of relationships and money and possessions and things. It’s attachment to those things in either path. It’s the attachment that’s the issue that keeps us tied to our individuality and if we can unwind that attachment, that’s where we get results.

A: Yes, yeah, very beautiful points. So even in the household way of life, renunciation is going to be a part of the unfoldment, you know, the release or the relinquishment of that investment, you know, that identification and all of those things which tie us to feeling that we are small and limited and lacking, so on and so forth. So it’s very much there.

And what I find is that there just seems to be sometimes muddy waters when it comes to the way in which that can express itself in a very effective and efficient way. You know, I find that a lot of us have, or a significant portion, have, you know, renunciate karma.

So perhaps in different incarnations, there was more of a renunciate way of life. And that tends to translate into our current householder situation. You know, there may be an attraction to this style of teaching, you know, an attraction to Zen Buddhism, or an attraction to this kind of monastery way of living or something like that. And, and that’s, that’s beautiful and, and appropriate and natural and not something that anyone is deciding necessarily. But when we are exposed to teachings that were being expressed in a monastic setting, you know, they have, they have a certain tonality, they have a different approach, that isn’t always appropriate, you know, when we are around our family, and and we’re in the midst of those dynamic exchanges of daily living.

And if we are not clear about this, then there can be perhaps some difficulty that that seems to arise even in the midst of the unfoldment, where there appears to be this discrepancy between what we feel is truth and aligning with truth and what seems to be present in the world around us. No doubt there is a gap there when the conscious experiencing still is taking itself to be the body and the mind and feeling that it’s limited and that is this field of ourself is awake to itself.

Here, there is a gap and there is some seeming distance, but it’s always our impersonal responsibility as the one that is awake to itself to understand where the one that is not awake to themself seemingly, is coming from. So it’s not possible for someone that is dominated by the mind and dominated by the ego to understand where someone that is in a stage of enlightenment is coming from. But it is possible for someone in a stage of enlightenment to understand where someone that is at a different stage of evolution, still feeling that they are limited to content and form, is coming from.

D: Yes, because they’ve been there. Another thing I’ve seen is that living the world can be very challenging. We get difficult karmas showing up and circumstances that we’re not comfortable with, so there can be this tendency to want to reject what’s here and what our life is, what’s on the table with our life and our emotional state. And so one of the ways people approach that is to withdraw from the world and try to become renunciate, rather than facing challenges. And, you know, those experiences are here because they need to be experienced, not because they’re just something there. And if we’re trying to escape, you know, go off and live in an ashram somewhere, and I’ve certainly met several people like that, who spent their time trying to figure out how to escape their life. And what they really need to learn is how to be with their life and how to process what’s arising and complete it so that it stops or winds down.

Escaping is the opposite. It’s not going to resolve what’s coming up. It’s an aversion. And that’s not gonna get the results we’re looking for. Spiritual progress results from engaging life, not from trying to escape it.

A: Yeah, a really beautiful point. And I think that that oftentimes is a part of the picture when it comes to a rejection of the healing process and the need for healing or the possibility that there’s still unresolved material after the initial shift.

So oftentimes I observe that an initial shift has taken place and it’s very clear that there’s some sort of a finality that’s been defined in that and, and, uh, pushing away of the, the possibility of any sort of further development, you know, that could potentially take place and, and an unwillingness to acknowledge, certain things when they come back around and when they come back up, not seeing that that’s going to continue to happen, no matter how many times we say, you know, that’s not true. It’s not real anymore. I’ve seen through that. I don’t believe in that or, or whatever, it’s gonna keep coming back around.

And so the householder way of life is one that embraces the experiences of daily living in such a way that they serve the process, they serve the healing and resolution of unresolved material. And in that, they serve the refinement, they serve the deepening, they serve the expansion of clarity.

D: Yes, and we develop through that process, we develop a great skill at that. And then we’re called on to help that with the collective. So we process those similar kinds of things in the collective. So it doesn’t end, we just serve a larger self.

A: Yeah, exactly, that’s it. And it’s so amazing how it works. It’s like we’re given training wheels at first, you know, and certain things are being worked out in what appears to be a more proximate environment.

And then that, as those different layers of unresolved material clear and process out, then that starts to expand. And we see how it intimately is associated with what is taking place within the collective right now. And because of the impersonal clarity and the impersonal open power that has realized itself there’s a natural invitation for certain things to come into that space which is really willing to allow them to process out, to allow them to heal.

D: Yes, and that’s really the beauty of the Householder’s Path, is because it is a fully engaging with life. One of my teachers used to describe it as 200%. So you get this 100% of the inner absolute and 100% of the relative world. Of course later on those two come together and become one anyways. But it’s still 200%.

A: Yeah, very beautiful. There was something else I was gonna say. Just surrounding our general orientation and the way in which we experience the unfoldment, there are so many factors that go into that. Our cultural context, our family setting, whatever it is that we seem to have an affinity with when it comes to the hearing of truth or the reading about truth, whatever the case may be, these things tend to factor in to the process to some degree, not in a way that alters the same basic intelligence as you pointed out at the beginning, because that is just a flow of the naturalness of conscious awareness blossoming within itself, but it’s the way that it’s held.

The subjectivity tends to hold itself in a unique way as that grace is unfolding.

D: Yes, we’ve talked before about, with the masculine and feminine, they’re both essentially accumulative, our development on the side of, development of consciousness and development of sattva or clarity are cumulative through lifetimes. So when we come into this lifetime, we’re going to be picking up where we left off to some degree. There’s often some karmic processing stuff to do before it kicks in. It varies quite a lot. But there’s that fundamental balance is already, we’re starting from a certain place, which might be a lot of refinement, and it might be very little refinement. It might be a lot of clarity of consciousness, it might be very little clarity of consciousness. And the two of them are in all kinds of different mixtures. So that in itself is going to create a certain flavor, a certain style of experiencing life and the unfolding process.

And there’s nothing wrong with any specific experience. That’s a key thing to understand here. I mean, it is ideal that there’s a balance of masculine and feminine process, and we both encourage practices that help develop both. But where we’re at is going to vary a lot in terms of what’s developed already and what’s unfolding. And so, you know, if we have a lot more masculine and renunciate tendencies, that’s naturally, that’s fine. It’s just we don’t want to be going by concepts. What our mind thinks we should be doing. If you hear the mind telling stories, “Oh, I should be like this, and I should be like that, and this is wrong, and I shouldn’t be feeling this and I shouldn’t think that and you know, those are all rejections of the experience and we want to find a way to be with it as it is so that it’s it’s smooth and we’re allowing what’s arising so that we can process it and clear it, as opposed to being in a constant resistance and being in a battle with life. That’s not the household, the householder’s path either. That’s just the path of resistance that so many people in the world are on.

A: Yeah, yeah, that’s a beautiful point and it kind of reminded me of what I was thinking about earlier. I find that on the other side of the extreme, you know, there’s that renunciate approach which, you know, has varying degrees of sophistication, we could say, or alignment, you know, there’s renunciation, which is very sharp and clean and precise and actually cuts, you know, cuts through. And then there’s renunciation, which is more sort of an attempt to use concepts to manipulate experience or to explain things away. And, you know, I don’t even know if we would consider that true renunciation. More of like a manipulation or rejection or an attempt to control on a, you know, behind the mask of some sort of spiritual understanding.

D: Yeah, because conceptual renunciation isn’t really renunciation at all. That’s a grasping at concepts that fit the bill. And yeah, there’s a… I remember running into an animated video that somebody had done where these two people are having this conversation, and one of them talks about how beautiful the weather is and the flowers that are coming out and the other one dismisses it all as an illusion. But it’s all conceptual. And finally, surprisingly, there’s some breakthrough there and they let that go a little bit and are actually able to experience the world.

A: Yeah, beautiful. So, and on the other side of the extreme, I have seen certain attempts then to sort of spiritualize certain areas of experience as a way of moving into some surface level reconciliation of a conflict or a sense that something is unspiritual or wrong.

So an example would be, let’s say that we, there are certain belief systems or concepts or understanding surrounding spirituality that place certain areas of experience outside of the realm of being spiritual or outside of the realm of being in alignment with spiritual realization.

You know, these ideas that would say, if you do this, then that’s going to affect your enlightenment, or if you do that, then that’s going to affect your enlightenment or whatever. So those are in place. And I mean, generally speaking, everyone has a little bit of that here and there. You know, it depends on the case. Sometimes it’s pretty heavy, other times it’s lighter. But then on top of that, there can be this attempt to layer, no, this is actually spiritual. This is actually, I’m going to use this for my spiritual enlightenment, or I’m going to make this spiritual or something like that.

So I would call that like “spiritualization,” quote unquote. It’s not actually realizing the essence. It’s like an explanation to try to justify something, to try to make something okay that we inherently feel isn’t okay, because we have this position within our experience that hasn’t been resolved. Yeah, so it just ends up being more crap just layered on top, you know, and there can be these kind of ideas about Tantra and things like that, that are really more just kind of new age pseudo understandings of what Tantra truly is, you know, Tantra has, of course, deep roots and is a very valid path. But it’s, in the West, there are certain understandings about it that are not the most accurate, you know, and that can be, it can apply to everything. It’s not just the commonly understood sexual activity, but you know, just like eating food or enjoying the different array of phenomenal variety, you know,

D: Yes, like this idea of sattva we were talking about earlier, there can be this real emphasis on living a sattvic lifestyle, but completely superficially, like I have to do this way because of this, I can only eat these sattvic foods, even if it’s hard on your body or whatever like that, we don’t pay attention to that, we have this concept of this being sattvic. Whereas the Sattva that changes how you experience the world is primarily in a much deeper place, and it’s going to naturally rise to the surface. It doesn’t come from concepts and belief systems.

A: Right. It’s not through not eating garlic that you become refined. There’s certainly a lot of that around. But yeah, it’s the same kind of thing. They’re really belief systems that are picked up innocently, you know, innocently, and they’re not, they’re not, they’re, I think, originally, you know, they come into being with some degree of value, but it probably is more according to the context and, you know, to the crowd that’s listening, and then it sort of gets passed on or translated into, to other areas, and it becomes an overgeneralization, you know, that doesn’t have room or flexibility when it comes to to the specificity of our unique, you know, flowers that are the human physiologies that we’re perceiving.

D: Yeah.

A: So it’s a real major piece of an in, you know, a comprehensive, integral unfoldment is is self honesty. And, and really, this kind of self honesty is a gift of grace. I mean, it’s not the self-honesty that we say, okay, I’m going to be honest with myself.

And that’s something I’m going to do, right? You know, it’s something that we’re gifted with through a sincere, earnest, you know, openness to really see, to really see beyond our own blind spots and our own, you know, constructions about what is going on. And when we have that, then we’re able to sort of penetrate through a lot of those ideas that attempt to place the spontaneous grace of enlightenment within these very limited kind of boxes and parameters, you know, that somehow are having to do with cause and effect and things like that.

D: Well, it’s interesting too, because it’s like this self-discovery process, and it’s not just on the level of the cosmic Self within an awakening process, but it’s a discovery of what’s actually here. We get all this stuff laid on that you’re no good at this or you’re good at that and you’re supposed to do this, this is how you’re going to make a good living and all these sort of ideas and stuff laid on on top of our self-concepts and seeing through that and finding out what’s actually here.

You know, like I developed a concept that I couldn’t write. I was terrible at at it because of some experiences in high school. And I mean, it probably wasn’t time for the writing to start until much more recently. But nonetheless, I went through this whole long period of having these concepts that I was no good at writing. And yet, it just started to arise naturally. And I finally caught up to the– that’s what I was supposed to be doing.

It took me a while to realize that because of these concepts I had that were contrary to that. So it’s a real self-discovery process and a lot of that can mean dropping all these old self-concepts that really, you know, stories about ourselves that really don’t reflect what’s actually here.

What are the laws of nature that are functioning and when we get out of the way that they can express through this body-mind.

A: Yeah, yeah, exactly. And the householder way of life really supports that, you might say, in a way that the renunciate approach doesn’t always, not that it’s not there, but perhaps a little bit more concealed or hidden. In the sense that we’re really opening into the vulnerability of our humanity, you know, while there’s a simultaneity of realizing the infinity of our Divinity, of our reality as this field of conscious awareness. So we move through this sweetness of allowing these deeper energetic wounds that, they’re not wounds that have come from out there, you know, they’re self-inflicted, if you will, in the sense that through our own misperception about existence, you know, and our own ignorance, certain things seem to have been accumulated.

And when we open into that and allow it and feel it out and witness it resolve, then that softness that kind of touches into itself, realizes the power of itself, because that softness, that openness, that gentleness is really, truly powerful. It’s actually extremely potent. And there’s a familiarity that can begin to develop. And so then, rather than curling up or constricting every time something arises, there’s a more and more a willingness to open in and to open in and to feel that fully and to really allow that to complete.

And one of the things that I often speak about is how we come to this space where we realize that we’re actually this one infinite father, this one infinite mother, and we’re the child. So in a way it’s like we’re our own child, because we’re the source, we’re that love, we’re that rock, that power, that gentle, compassionate light. And at the same time, the expression, there’s the expressed value of that.

And so it’s almost like we’re able to hold our own humanity like a child from the space of our infinite motherliness, fatherliness, you know, on the level of formless reality.

D: Yes, it’s a beautiful point. I would also note that from a householder standpoint, that relationships are a great way to learn about what we are and because they’re a reflection of that and also of our stuff. What hasn’t been seen yet can get reflected back at us and we might, you know, often be in a mode where we’re blaming the other person for being a certain way and yet how we are is often what brings that out of them.

How we are is what calls that out of them. And so those kinds of dynamics show up in relationships. We’re not going to find them sitting by ourselves somewhere. Well, we might, but it’ll be a little slower.

A: A little slower. That’s a great, such an amazing point, David, you know, and it kind of goes back to what we were touching about at the beginning. We can have these phases where it’s very attractive to be, you know, alone, or to spend long hours, you know, sort of kind of, you know, on our own and not really have much interaction, you know, we may go to the grocery store, go here or whatever.

But there’s, there can be definite stages where there’s an attraction to less interaction. And that’s valid, it has its place, as you as you noted, it’s only only natural that we’re going to go through that. At the same time, once we begin to taste the power of that, of the of the process of healing and resolution and see how valuable that is. And, and after you know, a certain maturation and in stages and modalities unfolds, then we kind of more or less oftentimes come back around to that, you know, come back around to the, to the depth of the value of resolution and healing and, and the… go ahead.

D: Yeah, I just wanted to note too that there we just have to check in because sometimes it’s natural to have a more inner period. When we’re processing a lot or we’re just wanting to be with the peace or the happiness. But it’s important to check in and make sure it’s not an avoidance.

A: Yes

D: We’re not stepping back because there’s something we don’t want to see or there’s something we’re uncomfortable with. That’s a time to actually step forward and step into it. However, it’s showing up.

A: Yes, yeah, great point. That’s kind of what I was moving into is that, you know, that’s only a temporary stage, you know, in, for most of us, it’s just something, you know, different periods that we pass through where, where that does feel appropriate. And if there is some sort of avoidance mechanism, David, or there’s some, some aversion, or an attempt to to escape or get out of something, typically, it’s going to be revealed in the interactions that are present, you know, so if we’re touching into interactions, and there seems to be conflict, or we seem to be just pushing them away and saying, whatever, or using spiritual concepts as a way to justify or rationalize or write off stuff, then that’s a that can be a signal that perhaps there’s something we need to look at. And that also can be an invitation to return back into more of an interactive way of being, and to allow that to really enliven the path in a new way.

D: Yeah, it’s a fascinating process too, because it’s such a minefield, because relationships are also often a vehicle for karma, and there’s kind of like a mutual advantage in there, and that they’re or bringing out some aspect that they need to see and in the interaction or bringing out something in you.

And I mean, I’ve even seen circumstances where somebody pulls out of a relationship because they don’t like how they become when they’re with a certain person because of the way the person is. And it’s not necessarily overt. This can be quite subtle. There can be just this energetic holding that’s, even though we’re not conscious of it, it can be very present and bubbling just below the surface, so to speak.

And then whoever we’re relating with is responding to that, even though we’re not conscious of it. And then we sort of, oh, they’re being a twit or whatever, you know, and, and that, but then if you ask them, they’re like, I’m not like this with anybody else, you know, this is not my normal pattern of behavior or something like that. Or maybe it is their normal pattern. Cause that’s just, they’re attracted to somebody who’s difficult or, or who, you know, the classic thing where people end to end up getting the same difficult boss wherever they to work or the boyfriend that ignores them or the, yeah, whatever. There’s all kinds of flavors of that that are very, very common. But that actually, what they point to is not them, it’s you. And it’s not that there’s some blame necessary in this process here. It’s just a recognition, just turning back on yourself and looking at, “Okay, so what is it here that’s calling that forward?” And this isn’t something we’re going to answer with the mind.

Maybe sometimes the mind gets a sense of it, but really this is about looking deeper, looking in what’s driving the bus, so to speak. What are the energetic drivers? We’re much more likely to experience that as some kind of emotional aversion or reaction or some flavor on that level, because that’s kind of the way we subjectively experience a lot of energy, is through our emotions.

A: Yeah, that’s such a great point. That’s really the name of the game, if you will, when it comes to the reflective potential of relationships, is seeing that there is no one to blame. Whatever it is that’s being reflected back is being reflected back. There’s something that is wanting to be seen, if you will, from a more optimistic perspective. And if we have that recognition, then we can develop an introspective lifestyle where we are reflecting and we are sort of looking and investigating in a non-controlling way, in a way which is just gently opening and allowing and willing to see, willing to see really.

D: Not obsessing, you know, just noticing.

A: Yeah, just noticing. And willing to optimize the karmic value of relationship, because the point you make about relationship being such an intimate possibility within the householder way of life is just profoundly true. You know, it, these, and it’s not just relationships. We think of relationships as, oh, my relationship with my wife or my relationship with my grandparents or my relationship with my father or my husband or my brother or whatever.

No, you know, those relationships of course tend to be a little bit more right here, you know, and depending on the case, but any relationship, any kind of dynamic relational interaction has profound value in it. You know, whether it’s a trip to the grocery store, your interaction with the cashier and just different attractions or aversions that may arise if you’re sort of in a group setting or you’re walking by somebody or you, you know, see a judgment or something that’s just a little conditioned pattern.

So it’s just allowing the whole field to mirror back different things and just noticing and relaxing and just being willing to fold that back in or offer it back.

D: Yes, so much of our interrelationships, we have no idea how we’re affecting other people. And again, that’s not in our control, how they’re responding is their territory. But we do wanna put our best foot forward, so to speak. Just going through the world in a bad mood and grumping at everybody, it’s not going to really bring us a positive experience of interactions with other people.

But if we’re doing that introspection and healing and are respectful that other people are a part of our life, we live in a world, in a community, just as our body is composed of millions of cells, trillions even, each with their own life, so too on a consciousness level, we’re a part of a much larger milieu that is composed of all these other life forms that are also experiencing from the same consciousness. We’re not a separate, isolated individual.

We’re in this together and we’re constantly interacting and playing off each other in all kinds of complex ways, much of which we’re totally unconscious of. But the idea that we’re separate in any kind of real way, I mean, even the basics of food and water require a whole system and infrastructure to support us. And those are fundamental to even living.

A: Yeah, really, really beautiful point. There’s a couple of things that are coming up surrounding the kind of, the non-dual concepts that can sometimes be adopted in certain settings and misappropriately sort of used.

So, as you point to there not being any separation, there is no separation, it’s so true. But the idea that there’s no separation or the idea that there’s no people or just the concept of that, in the context of the emergence of relationship, has the potential to be misused or misappropriately held.

D: Yes.

A: So even in the, let’s say we directly perceive that there are no others, and that is, that’s not a concept, it’s an obviousness, yeah?

D: Yes.

A: Even then we’re on an even more intimate level than feeling that there were other people because then we’re beginning to see that it is ourself that is appearing as the other. Or we’re beginning to see that it is the divine that is appearing as the other. So we don’t move from feeling like there are people and acting sort of appropriately in the context of loving exchange or relational dynamism to then seeing that there are no people and acting like other bodies are just pieces of furniture to be sort of whatever, or made into something, you know?

D: That can happen sometimes.

A: It can, it can, yeah, yeah.

D: But it’s a transition, it’s a phase, and it should not be taken as any real sense of greater reality.

A: Right, yeah. So that’s kind of my point. Of course, it does happen, but it’s a temporary stage. And I would say, David, if we understand that that could happen and someone is watching this, perhaps where that is the case or something like that, that there can be a sort of an accountability to a higher principle like love or understanding or compassion, yeah?

That holds the vision of, yeah, these just seem to be sort of like hollow mechanical body minds or whatever walking around. That does seem to be that way. At the same time, there’s a willingness to not let that become something that it isn’t, you know, and not in an attempt to control, but just as the wisdom of discerning that there’s more to the story than perhaps meets the eye.

D: Yes, beautiful. Yes, that’s one of the values of spiritual study, is to put things in context. And yes, people can create big concepts out of spiritual ideas that we’ve been talking about, some of those as we’ve been going along here.

But the real value there is in understanding what’s ahead. And then we have some context. It can feel, some of these experiences can feel very real, very like this is reality. This is complete reality.

A: Absolutely.

D: That can be there. But if we have some context and recognize that that’s something that can arise, but it’s not an absolute, you know, in that kind of sense, we may have an impression of, then we’re not as likely to get caught in it. And when we get, we buy into it and invest in it, that’s when it can cause us some trouble.

A: Yes. That’s also the value of like having a teacher or teaching where there’s some maturation that is present and is able to give that context, is able to provide a stable point of reference in that.

D: Yeah, and to call us on our BS.

(both laughing)

A: That too, yeah, yeah. So, and that’s really accountability. Of course, we have the potential to enter into relational accountability in more of an explicitly delineated way, you know, in an agreed upon way.

But basically the whole universe is a system of accountability. And in a certain sense, we may be more or less conscious of it, but just the mere relationship that you were pointing to, relationship itself is a form of accountability, you know, when we allow it to be, because it shows us, you know, different areas that need to be looked at.

D: Yes, and another aspect of this too is, if there is sufficient feminine unfolding, sufficient sattva, after awakening there’s a period where the higher value of the heart opens, “Hridaya” it’s called, and it’s also referred to as the heart “Mahamarma”. there can be this beautiful unfolding of the heart and love as you spoke to. And for some people, the way that unfolds is, well, essentially it unfolds through relationship. And for some people, that unfolds through relationship with another apparent person. And because in order for love to flow, there has to be an other, in a sense, not necessarily an overt other, but just some value of an object of devotion. And that might take the form of some form of the divine, or as a teacher, or through one’s mate, or yeah, but largely in some form of relationship.

A: Yeah. Yeah, that’s, I’m glad that you brought devotion up, because it’s relevant in what we’re talking about here today, when it comes to, you know, the different orientations and, and the householder versus renunciate path is. Believe it or not, you know, devotion is present in renunciate settings and Sanyasi, you know, monastic ways of life, just as much as it is in household settings. So typically, we, you know, there’s association of a monastic way of being with being more of a masculine approach, but oftentimes it does have a great deal of devotion and heart development contained within it.

D: Yes, when I first studied the yogas or paths I touched on very briefly earlier, I was under the impression that you were on this path or you were on that path. I mean when they say things like, you know, if you try and follow the path of another you’ll fail, but most of us are actually blends. There’s the, you know, path of the intellect, there’s the path
of the heart, there’s the path of the karma yogi through action and perception. Perception’s a key part of the karma yogi path. And then some other finer flavors, and I used to think it was one or the other, but I realized that, number one, that we’re usually a mixture. And so I have a strong intellect, but I also have a devotion to understanding. And also, the different stages of the path have roles at different stages of the process, too.

Like I mentioned, the heart opening, devotion has a major role there, and it can become quite a bit more dominant during certain phases like that. The process of coming up to awakening is often a karma yogi kind of process because it’s through this integration of touching into source and then integrating that through action, that we come to a place where we’re prepared for the awakening.

And then the Unity process, the intellect plays a key role. We may not identify with it as the intellect in that kind of sense. Some people are more masculine form of intellect, but then you have the sort of the discriminative intuition, we could say, that fine flavor, the sort of feminine flavor of the intellect, which, in either flavor, has a key role in the Unity process, because there’s this whole progressive recognition of all the layers of experience being the Self, and that’s discriminated through the discriminating intellect.

And so there’s that multiple things where we have these different flavors of paths, and we tend to be a bit of a blend, and then we also have this unfolding process where one becomes more dominant for a while and shifts around.

A: Yes, yeah, and when it comes to devotion, you know, in its most essential sense, it’s really, I would say, you know, it has the potential to be recognized as present irrespective of the stage and irrespective of the unique conglomeration of impressions. In a certain sense, you know, we’re always devoted to something.

It’s just a matter of what that devotion appears to be directed towards. So we could say that in our unawareness of the Self, you know, depending on the case, we tend to be devoted to our perception of the world, you know, what we think we are, who we think we are, what we think is going on, what we feel is important in the world that we see as being out there. And that’s, it’s, in a way, a form of devotion and it’s one that is oftentimes quite resilient, you know.

It’s like unwavering, you know, devotion from a certain perspective. Now, you know, there’s a more refined understanding of devotion and that typically points to the devotion that moves in the direction of realizing reality, you know, of reality waking up to itself, of this field, seeing the truth of its always isness. And in that context, there’s devotion to truth, there’s devotion to understanding, just like you’re pointing to. There’s devotion to expression or application, to meditate every day, to have a certain attitude, you know, in the midst of the unfoldment of life.

So there are these different levels of devotion, you know, different ways in which devotion expresses itself and whether it’s gyana or karma, you know, devotion is present because we cannot move in this directionless direction of realizing what we are without that devotion, without that commitment, you know, to the unfoldment itself. And then in the midst of that, you know, there’s this possibility of the devotion taking the flavor of love, you know, taking the flavor of that love of love, that love of the sweetness of Divinity, you know, the sweetness of life itself. But it’s always present, you know, and we go through different stages where it seems to be expressing itself in a certain way, and they’re not necessarily set up in an either or dynamic, you know, it’s, as you were pointing to, very much a blend, very much a mixture. So in the household way of life, in the West, there tends to be sort of a misunderstanding of devotion and kind of a strict association of it sometimes with, with Judeo-Christian sort of background, or if it is understood in the Eastern context, then it seems to be, you know, only associated with like altar worship or those kinds of things, which those are, you know, very much a part of it and appropriate.

But there’s another possibility for devotion in the midst of simple daily living, you know, devotion in the midst of human relationship, devotion in the midst of the unfoldment of life. And that can be very supportive on the householder path. And I found that just the willingness to open into that and to sort of acknowledge, you know, the word acknowledge has profound significance when we allow it to. It’s almost through acknowledging something, we enliven it.

You know, we enliven it. The Self enlivens that possibility within itself, enlivens that intelligence within itself. So when we acknowledge, when we begin to just subtly acknowledge the Divinity of life, then that tends to be enlivening. And not as a belief, not as something that we should do, you know, not as something that’s going to get us somewhere, but because that couldn’t be true acknowledgement, you know, but as a true acknowledgement. And I’ve, you know, I’ve seen this kind of sweet possibility for in the midst of what seemed to be kind of mundane, simple interactions, just kind of bowing, you know, to what appears to be the other, but not necessarily in a, you know, hands folded kind of, you can see the bowing way, but just in an inner acknowledgement, you know, just bowing and to the trees as you walk by, just a bow and you can feel life bowing back. You can feel the flows of life just bowing back.

And there can be that resonance of the flow of love and appreciation and recognition that begins to shine forth.

D: Yes, and life loves to be acknowledged.

A: Yes, and that’s the funny thing, we’re acknowledging ourselves.


Well, I feel like we’ve covered quite a bit. Is there anything that you feel like we’ve left out?

D: No, it feels, yeah, that’s good.

A: So we’ve just done is there a recapitulation we’ve gone over the difference between the household and the renunciate way of life, we’ve discussed that they’re not, you know, there’s more effective and efficient ways to be aligned with both and that they’re also, that renunciation is contained within the household life to a certain degree, you know, and that our appropriate context is vital, you know, as far as the potential for a deep, comprehensive unfoldment and an effective and efficient way to be with the process, to align with the process. That there’s the possibility for the different filters, the different gunas, you know, the different perspectives and that we can hold those as temporary, you know, depending on the case, and we can witness the fluctuations in that. And we can see relationship become a beautiful tool or a beautiful aspect of evolutionary intelligence in a conscious way, in a way which is immediately recognizable. And we can allow the daily presentations of human life to serve that ever deepening, ever fulfilling flow of realization. And yeah, all through grace.

D: Yeah.

A: And we always give all glory to pure Divinity.

D: All glory.

A: Thank you, David.

D: Thank you, Andrew.

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