All participants have settled beautifully into the rhythm of the course, especially the yoga and the breathing techniques. Questions are being asked, and knowledge is beginning to flow.
One participant asked a question about consciousness, I think she asked “What is consciousness?” Nancie spoke for a few minutes about this. It is very difficult to capture the gist of what she said… She explained that even when cells are cloned in the lab, there’s a little spark of electricity that has to be fed before their metabolism gets going. Consciousness is like that spark, that force by which the union of a single male cell and a single female cell grows into this complete organism with such a diversity of features: eyes, face, hands, etc. that function so beautifully together.
Q: How does consciousness happen?
A: It doesn’t happen. It just is.
Perception is very different from existence. Consciousness is already there in all of us. Do you remember that space after kriya when we were not quite asleep, not quite awake? That state is very close to the fully conscious state.
Q: Have you ever been one with pure consciousness?
Q: What happens then? What do you think about?
A: There is no thinking. Everything goes away.
Q: Can you be there for long? How long?
A: Oh, some people can stay in that state for days, even months. I haven’t gone that far yet!
Q: Why do you need to go there?
A: There is no need. It just happens. See, in order to understand the mechanics of the mind, you have to witness the mind. For this you have to go beyond the mind. Do you get it?
I can’t believe I’m talking about this on a Part 1 course!
The capacity to go to that place at will and experience it again creates that ability, that clarity of perception, where you can see the mechanics of the mind clearly and rise above it. The vast majority of people have this experience frequently, but they just don’t know what it is. And they have no capacity to experience it at will.
Q: How often do you feel the need to go there?
A: After a point, there is no more here or there. It just effortlessly happens. Twenty minutes twice a day of deep meditation is enough. That’s what Sri Sri recommends.
When you get done pondering the nature of the mind, then you fall in love. Or some people are so engaged in the mind, they have to fall in love to get past it!
Q: Fall in love with what?
A: Everything. The present moment, the people around you, the bad mood, the policeman giving you a ticket, the nature, the city, everything without exception…
Q: How did you come to the Art of Living?
A: In 1988 Sri Sri visited Santa Barbara, and after He left someone called me and told me about Him. As they were speaking, I was directly getting an experience of Him. I was taken aback. I was having a profound experience just hearing about Him. This person ended the call by asking me, “Can he really be enlightened?” Somehow I said, “I’ll do whatever He tells me to do.” I shocked myself with that statement. I had no idea why I was saying that.
The next time He was in the US, I got three calls from people telling me to go meet Him. I gave the usual excuses – time, money, etc. And the time after that, it was 8 to 10 calls, saying I should go and meet this man. I thought I was being stalked, and I made up my mind never to go. I was quite resistant.
In the meantime, a very challenging client I was working with stopped coming to me. I felt relieved, since the sessions weren’t doing her any good anyway. Six months later, she came back to me, and wow! She was not even the same human being anymore. The change in her was off the charts. She could access and address things about herself that I couldn’t have dreamt of. I asked her what had brought about the change, and she said she had done the Art of Living course and traveled to India with Sri Sri.
Now I was intrigued. It would be irresponsible of me not to take this course and find out what it was. I had so many people I could recommend it to. This was in 1990. Sri Sri at that point decided not to return to the US for the next three years, but fortunately for me He changed his mind and came during Christmas. But a family emergency pulled me away to Europe, and I couldn’t meet Him. Throughout 1991 there was no course in Europe or the US that I could take. In 1992 He came back to the US, and the organizers called me. I arranged to take a course with another teacher, but Sri Sri later told that teacher not to teach that course. That’s when I knew, He was coming to teach me himself. He came to Canada, and I went there. He taught me my first Art of Living course. I was sitting at His feet just a few feet away. And He hadn’t taught a Part 1 course in years! At that point He was only teaching the advanced courses.
That was the beginning of the end of my mind. About a year later I was full time.
After our course session was over, some of us volunteers sat for an hour with her in the hall. Her intuition was able to pull out something about each one of us. The advice that she was able to give us was just… amazing. Words cannot do it justice, so I won’t even try.