As a child I saw an absolute division in experiences. One moment I was completely detached and in perfect harmony with the world, the next moment I was in deepest depression wishing for dissolution and to die. I was either heavenly happy or filled with sadness and death. Naturally, I only wanted to dwell in the pleasant experiences, so the search began to achieve this. Initially, it was not truth or enlightenment that I sought, but unlimited happiness-the end of suffering-and this began the search to find suitable means and tools to achieve this end. I first tried to find it through sex, and the fulfillment was very fleeting and dependant on a partner. Thus, it wasn’t a permanent solution. I next experimented with drugs, which may create a temporary state of freedom from suffering. However, when the effect is over, the result is even more suffering. I then began to read esoteric books about religion, shamanism, magic etc., and for a long period I was fascinated by Carlos Castaneda, Don Juan, and the idea of freedom.
Around the end of the 1970s, I became spontaneously aware in a dream that I was dreaming. I had remembered a Don Juan technique which suggested observing one’s own hands in a dream. So, in the dream, I lifted my hands and began to investigate them. Suddenly, something awoke in me that had seemingly been dormant. During this awakening, beginning with my hands, my whole body began to dissolve. I recognized death, and in this recognition sudden fear arose. I began to fight for my life, since an unexplainable force was about to extinguish me. It seemed-at least in my perception-like an infinite black hole. And though I woke up in my bed, the fight continued. After a number of hours there was a sudden accepting of this extinction, and the former darkness became a radiant light, with me being it. A light shining in itself. Everything seemed to be as it was before this experience, but the perception was absolutely detached from what was perceived; it was a total distance and alienation towards the world. This is not “my” home, was the only thought. The “my” then lost itself in “I”-lessness. With this awakening of cosmic consciousness, the process of dissolution of the concept “Karl” had begun.
Questioner: What do you mean when you use the word “realization?” Most people usually think of it as a kind of understanding.
Karl: Just look at the combination of the words “real” with “realization.” It is the real, and also the unfolding of the real as in time and space.
Q: Is realization something that reveals itself in time, or is there a precursor to realization?
K: Is there ever a moment in time when the Self is not realized? That which you think you are will never be realized. How can an idea or an object be realized? What realization means here, is that consciousness, which once identified with an object, becomes infinite; it becomes conscious about being consciousness. But the Self is never enlightened or unenlightened. It is always prior to all ideas of enlightenment or non-enlightenment, no matter what you say about it. All this is conceptual.
Q: Would you say that prior to enlightenment you existed in the same manner?
K: There is “no one” who ever realized anything, not even Karl, who is part of the realization. Perhaps you mean the final resignation, the absolute resignation-when full of desire to improve or change, you really see that there is not now, nor will there ever be, a way out of what you are. You can never become what you already are! This is not something that “happens,” it is just an “aha”-a seeing that what you are is what you always were and always will be. What you are is outside of time. Time exists because of you; it merely reflects what you are.
Q: This is like the final outgoing breath, the last breath of the ego.
K: There never was an ego that breathed. There is no “last” breath because there was no “first” breath. Don’t create a process out of it; there is no process. You just see that what you are is the only real thing and that it was never touched by whatever is sensorial. This is not something new; it is ancient and infinite. Just this, “aha, oh, infinity”-and all there is is the infinite, not an experience nor an event.
Q: The common understanding of a human being is, “I am conscious; one of my properties is consciousness.”
K: So, out of the idea of an “owner” comes the idea to own consciousness? This happens because of the feeling of separation. What results is the sense of being a separate person, which is also false. What you mean to say is, “Consciousness plays the role of a person, but there is no person who ‘owns’ consciousness.” If there is any ownership at all it is on the part of consciousness, which “owns” a person, because it plays the role of a person.
Q: So consciousness is creating a picture.
K: There is no creator and there is no creation. There is only the one Self and the unfolding of the Self-it’s an infinite unfolding. Because there is nothing outside of the Self there cannot be a separate creator or creation. Out of this unfolding, the “I” as awareness becomes the thought “I am”; from the thought “I am” comes the feeling “I am an object in time.” All of this is part of the unfolding of the Self.
Q: It seems that you are speaking of three levels: The “I,” the “I am,” and the “I am this.”
K: This is just a concept. The only thing which is not conceptual is the Self. With concepts you can look at things from infinite angles and in the process make new and different concepts. This does not require an explanation! This is only about seeing: to point to the very core, to see that only Self is reality, and this reality is prior to all ideas of existence or nonexistence. Any idea that arises is fiction. That, which is prior to fiction, to ideas, is what you are. Replacing one concept with another concept in order to create a “clear” concept is not an advantage at all. This is not part of understanding. What we are speaking of is what you are, and this does not require understanding, or knowledge about how it functions. Just see! Self is all, and whatever takes place is only in and of the Self.
Q: But people are coming to this because there is an urge to understand, to get out of the story, to realize something.
K: People come to find a way out and I show them that there is no way out. They may come to see that the idea of a way out occurs because of the belief that there is one “who needs a way out.” If I show them that what they are has no need of anything, and that there is no necessity to leave what they already are, they may directly see that whatever they cognize is not what they are. Without the absolute perceiver nothing would be present. Even the relative perceiver, the person, is part of the act of perception. The ideas of a perceiver, the act of perceiving, and the object perceived is only just a part of this realization. Although the unfolding is a functioning of the Self, the Self is always absolute stillness and is untouched by any unfolding. Ultimately, there is no unfolding of anything, even this is a concept.
Ramana Maharshi said that you use one concept to remove another concept, and then both are discarded. All of this is just to see that what you are is not a concept. And this absolute experience is seen when you are in total emptiness; then there is no second. When there is nothing to perceive, what remains is still what you are. In this total emptiness, it is not possible to say if you are or you are not. So you exist even without an idea or perception of anything. You remain what you are even when the sensation of being “you” no longer exists.
Q: To see this is a huge step, a profound shift in perspective.
K: When you see that nothing has ever happened, there are no more steps. You are what you always have been and always will be; the rest is just lila-a theatrical play. The Self doesn’t depend on anything. Whether or not you see the Self as the source of everything holds no advantage for the Self, since it neither realizes nor becomes ignorant of anything. Becoming clear on a particular point is meaningless when you are clarity itself. So, in this way, you are worth nothing.
Q: The Self is pretty mean. First, it creates people worth nothing, and then these people feel they are suffering. And the Self is having fun all the time.
K: The Self is not the caretaker of what unfolds. The Self is as it is, and is perfect in itself. It is the absence of all ideas of what the Self is or is not that brings perfect happiness and contentment. Always come back to the following point: Be prior to that which exists in time. See that what you are cannot be touched by what is perceived by any of the senses.
Q: Are you speaking about pure awareness without any object?
K: Awareness is the first unfolding; it’s a sense of self which is aware of existence. So there is a self being aware of its separateness. In this way, awareness is already part of separation.
Q: Because awareness is already a function of the Self?
K: Exactly. It’s part of the functioning but it is not that which is functioning. You may call it the source of the “I am,” which is the source of “I am Karl,” but you can only truly rest when you see that whatever you define cannot be what you are. Just as the eye cannot see itself, the absolute definer cannot define what the definer is. What you are can’t avoid resting in “what is,” nor can it rest in something else, because Self is all there is. And you cannot escape because all there is is Self-wherever you may go, you will already be present. Whether you stay still or move about, no one moves and no one stays still. Just see the totality of what you are, even in the world of time and space. This totality is all there is.
The unfolding of the Absolute is as absolute as that which is unfolding. Even this image called “me,” which pops up in the morning and goes down in the evening, is without any need of realization. As long as you believe you are this image, as long as this “I”-thought is your reality, the Self is only an idea. It is consciousness looking for the Self.
Q: As long as we consider ourselves to be a person trapped in time, there will always be trouble.
K: And there is no way out of it.
Q: Do you mean that the identified consciousness will be always exist?
K: Exactly. It will always be there because identified consciousness (consciousness imagining itself limited to an object) is part of the infinite.
Q: But that which exists in time doesn’t look at it this way.
K: That which is in time never looked because there is no time and therefore nothing to be in time. Only the Self looks. It doesn’t matter how the Self looks: from in time, out of time, or prior to time. The Self perceives, and what it perceives is only the Self, because the Self is all there is.
Q: But for perception time is necessary!
K: Time comes out of the idea of a “me.” All of these ideas are only part of the unfolding of the totality, the Self. Even though you may perceive what seems to be finite time, and it appears to come and go, it doesn’t mean that it exists in something finite like time.
Q: What about suffering? The Buddha said there is an end to suffering.
K: Look for the beginning of suffering. When you can find the beginning, then you may be able to find the end of suffering. Did suffering ever start? For suffering to be present there would need a sufferer, so look for the sufferer first. As long as you look for the “end” of suffering, there will continue to be a sufferer. The sense of “I am” brings with it a sufferer-maybe not suffering-but at any moment, without attention, it can go back to suffering. So the only way is to annihilate the idea of a sufferer. When the sufferer is annihilated, where is the suffering?
The total annihilation of the sufferer can only take place when you really see what you are-when you perceive yourself as that, without beginning and without end. When this manifestation is seen to be only the Self, there is absolute annihilation of the sense of separation, of existing as a separate self.
Q: What is the difference between the experienced seeker who may listen to talks like these for fifty years and the butcher who is not interested in this subject, but just wants to make lots of money, have a nice house, and simply be happy?
K: Good steaks, good Schnitzel! Yes, both want to be happy, absolutely happy. Due to the ignorance of what they already are, they both strive-as consciousness-for absolute happiness. The idea of separation holds within it a sense of imperfection, which drives both of these people to look for perfection, not knowing that they are absolute perfection itself. So, both the butcher and the seeker are consciousness looking for satisfaction. There is no difference.
Q: But doesn’t it help to hear you say this for a period of years? What advice would you give to the sincere seeker who devotes his or her life to the pursuit of enlightenment?
K: Imagine that there is somebody who could be helped and that there is one to do the helping. That would be hell. Don’t listen to anybody, not even to yourself. Whatever you perceive cannot be what you are. Whatever you have understood you can forget. And the belief in an entity that can “become clear” is not what you are.
Q: But there is the idea that slowly, there is less and less ego.
K: Less ego; more ego. What can disappear can surely appear again. The ego which goes may return sooner or later. First, see what actually appears and if that appearance is real. Then, who cares about an appearance? This is the main question to ask, not what comes and goes. How stupid to care about an appearance. This is ignorance of the Self, the belief in a separate self, which takes an appearance as real.
Q: What about all of the ideas of purity: to live a pure life and strive for goodness like the Bodhisattva?
K: It’s all “Dharma-keeping.” It keeps the Dharma alive; it keeps the lila alive.
Q: Is there an advantage to being good?
K: As long as you want to be good, it’s an advantage to be good. And as long as you believe being good will make you happy, then it’s better for you to be good.
Q: But it makes some people happy to be bad.
K: Yes, in the same way. Both come out of the ignorance that you need something different from what you are now in order to be complete or to be happy. Just see that what you are is perfect just as it is, and that ideas of imperfection are merely ideas and cannot touch perfection itself.
Q: But what if I know that I am “no thing,” that I have “no form?”
K: The idea “I am without form,” or “I am not,” is still within the realm of separation. “Who” is it that has no form but still needs one? Just see that what exists in “no-form” also exists in form. I am still the same either with form or without form. Without the sense of difference, without the sense of separation, it is all complete. You do not require any special circumstance. That which you are exists in any and every circumstance. The circumstances we call birth or death can never touch you. You are prior to the sensation of birth and death. What you are existed before this body was born.
See that you are total compassion, that nothing happens to you, that whatever arises, is because you are. There is no difference between this eye looking at something or the other eye; you are the infinite eye, which looks from infinite angles into what you are. You are the infinite perception which perceives only Self-information. The main thing to see is that there is no need for a way out. And in this resignation-that you are the essence or substratum of what is-there is no way out because you are the very source of what is. Only then is there peace.