This interview appears at the end of The Origins of Man and the Universe, Barry Long's cosmic master work

CT: Barry, I’d like to talk to you about how you came to write ‘the origins book’ and how you see its purpose in terms of your own life and work. So, first of all: what was your original starting point?

BL: Well, it actually began when a friend, David White, showed me a small book he’d written as an introduction to judo. The presentation was very simple and well done, with illustrations. David suggested that we write a similar book about the origins of all the martial arts — the power behind the force. It seemed so simple an idea. David was to write the practical part and I was to write the philosophical side.

CT: You had no personal experience of martial arts?

BL: No. But David was a Black Belt in judo. We also wanted to include the western self-defensive sports. Somehow boxing and wrestling didn’t seem to fit into a work about fighting ‘arts’ but we decided to lump them in as best we could, along with other examples of violence — brawling, vandalism, terrorism, the lot. It was my job to find the thread that links them all together: to explain why man must fight at all. I suggested a title — ‘The Fighting Spirit’. But how I would justify such a high-sounding title for a book about violence I didn’t yet know.

It wasn’t long before I was writing about the opposite of the fighting spirit — the fighting force. Quickly the whole thing just developed — until David said, ‘Look, this is becoming a book in its own right. There’s no purpose in trying to do what we started off with. Why don’t you just keep writing?’ So I did and the whole book unfolded. Without knowing it I had started to write a book about an aspect of man so vast that I shall be dealing with it until the day I die.

CT: This was sometime in 1978, while you were living in London and before you were recognised as a spiritual teacher. At that time you earned your living by writing astrological commentaries for a commercial publisher . . .

BL: Yes. I was teaching too — a small group of people who met in my house in London once a week — and I’d started to farm out some of my writing contracts, which gave me more time to devote to this book.

CT: Did it occupy you consistently from that moment?

BL: For about five years . . . I’d write and rewrite section after section, not in any particular order. I didn’t begin at the beginning, but fairly early on I wrote the first section about science and religion, as an introduction, because that’s the basic division in human thought.

CT: As you worked on the material you were going deeper and deeper into one subject after another. So although the book starts as a fairly straightforward account it gets more and more profound, drawing on increasing degrees of self-knowledge.

BL: There’s so much in this book . . . it’s like a base which my whole teaching goes back to, or extends from. My current teaching might be more refined, but is always consistent with it.

CT: The language might be different, but the knowledge is the same?

BL: Yes. The revelation to the mind or intellect which is speaking, which is Barry Long, is a continuous process of living. And God-realisation is a continuous revelation to the intellect of that unfoldment. What I have knowledge of now is far more refined or more particular than when I wrote the book.

CT: Your teaching seems simpler too, because so much of it relates to practical day-to-day living. Whereas the book starts with remote events. What was it that took you back to the beginnings of time? Taking the chapter on the gods for example, how did it happen that you suddenly saw that there’s more than mere legend to ancient myths?

BL: I say that the myths were not fictions, but represent the actual living experience of man and woman in that phase in evolution. The Greek gods displayed themselves, walked the earth. They were not Godmen or Godwomen as today I might say I am a Godman, or a master is a Godman. They had no knowledge or expressed appreciation of the one spirit or being behind their godhead. They awarded that to one of their number, such as Zeus, or took it upon themselves in the form of separate personalities — whereas the divine being is total absence of any independence from the whole; having no wanting or trying, no attributes, no need to even be.

Where we are now the gods have disappeared forever. You and I are these gods in a different time, extended into a totally different matter — because time is matter. The thing now is to be the gods in this different matter and time, so as to be a Godman or a Godwoman. That is to be completely surrendered to the most high, which is the most deep; to realise that profundity inside the body listening to these words or speaking them.

CT: Can you say how it happens that such knowledge arises in you? When you suddenly realised one day that you wanted to write about the gods of myth, were you just looking in the bathroom mirror?

BL: It happens now. All I have to do is look at a subject and the truth of it is revealed to my intellect. If you ask me to look at a leaf, or anything, and give you the truth behind it, I can do it. When I sit down to write anything, that’s what happens. I couldn’t sit down to write a novel. It would end up to be the truth of some aspect of life. There’s no such thing as fiction where I am.

CT: And yet there’s a story-telling thread running through the whole thing — ‘The myth that came to life’.

BL: As the book says, the way to get as close as possible to the truth is through myth — not fiction, but mythic telling. For instance, I might tell the myth of man and woman, a most important part of my teaching . . . there are five thousand million bodies but there is only one man and one woman. That principle is endeavouring in each one of us to manifest in the senses, right up in the front of the brain; so that I am the closest possible expression of that divine man or woman that I can be in this matter now. In that I embody a great knowledge of truth.

That’s not to say that I am divine. I am matter. What is speaking is force coming through matter. But its origin is another matter, we could say.

CT: What suggested all the different subjects in the book? Did questions just arise in you or were they prompted by life in some external way?

BL: Well, first of all we have to go back to how Barry Long suddenly changed at the age of thirty and started to speak the truth, or the beginning of the truth that I speak now. It amazed Barry Long that such truth could come out of his mouth. This paralleled an enormous change that had happened within. People talk about going ‘within’ but for me it was an actual reality. As I started to descend into that place there was more and more truth, as revelation. One of the astounding things was that wherever I went I would speak to the truth with such certainty that it was continually said to me, ‘Well how do you know this? How can you say that? Everybody’s entitled to their opinion.’ And I’d say, ‘Nobody is entitled to their opinion. There’s only the truth and what I say is the truth.’ Of course this was very extraordinary to them, especially coming out of Barry Long.

CT: Why ‘especially’?

BL: Because I’d been such an ‘ordinary’ man. My aspirations, my work as a newspaper-man, my whole life was entirely based on intellectual materialism. I believed in science and ‘cause and effect’. That world certainly exists but only in the frontal part of the brain. The inward-going gets rid of it. The state that Barry Long started to enter is deep within the brain. And as I descend into it the knowledge is enormous.

The knowledge

CT: How would you make the distinction between just knowing something and contacting the knowledge deep within the brain?

BL: As I descend into that state I am going towards what would be called ‘gnosis’, or in Indian philosophy ‘jnãna’. Both words have the same root as ‘knowledge’. But it is not what scientists call knowledge or the knowledge that anyone has as a result of their external experience.

Human knowledge is based on experiencing my place as an individual in the sense-perceived world, and my endeavours to connect various experiences up to make sense of them. It necessarily follows that there is cause and effect. I know in my experience that if I drop a glass it is likely to break on the floor. If I put my foot hard down on the accelerator when I start the car, it’s likely to bound forward. That’s what happens in most cases in my experience — which is always in the past.

What happened yesterday isn’t necessarily going to happen the same way today — because the past is not reliable in the present. The newspapers are filled with what’s new, which is what we didn’t expect to happen. That’s the uncertainty in our lives; the ‘uncertainty principle’ which science recognises. Nevertheless, all human knowledge is based on the probability that the past (the cause) will repeat itself in the present (the effect).

Human knowledge is based on the experience of an individual mind or body. Real knowledge is not dependent on cause and effect or on the frontal part of the brain that we call the human mind. It is based on the being of the human race — that is, life on earth. Real knowledge is impersonal.

CT: I’m still looking for what was the significance of the book in your life . . .

BL: Well, I’d say it was the means of getting all that I had seen and realised in my life into one stream of truth. By this time, 1978 and 79, many things had happened to me. I’d been through my transcendental realisation ten years earlier. I’d been through so many things that my profundity was enormous. But from the time in India when I started to write the beginnings of my truth, and then in London when I was writing poetry, what I was writing was fragmented. It was all one teaching — even now my teaching is just an expansion of those writings; different, but the same truth — but I hadn’t brought it together into one stream of expression. So ‘the origins book’ provided a focus or funnel for it. It was a gathering together of everything that had happened since Barry Long started to change and this truth, this gnosis, started to come out of him.

CT: To sum up, how would you describe the purpose of the book now, in relation to your current teaching?

BL: It is a journey to take you into the place that I now call ‘me’, the immediate presence in everybody of their own being. Everybody can experience me now, as that most intimate sensation and knowledge of life inside the body, before life takes form. It can commonly be experienced as the sensation of joy or wellbeing.

This being is as infinitely deep as the space we see in the universe, which is actually a re-presentation of the depth of me. As I descend into it, I start to realise more and more of God, truth and love. So the book is a means of descending step by step into a place where ordinary information and ordinary thinking are dispensed with. Here I have implicit knowledge without the need to analyse, categorise, or think about anything. It is the place of gnosis.

CT: The final question: you talk about ‘where I come from’. Where is that?

BL: From being. I come out of the joy or wellbeing in every body. As I only exist where there is an object, the realm of ‘I’ is out here in existence, where all objects are. Wherever there are objects there’s the subject — ‘I’. But when I look inside, into me, which is a dark, endless, black place, I see nothing. For there is nothing in me. And if I look long enough at nothing inside of me, then I, the subject, disappear. At some point in everybody’s life this disappearance into nothing becomes an object of terror. In the mystical or divine life I have to go through that. It is what’s called ‘the mystic death’. What happens when I disappear? Lo and behold — there is simply being. No subject and no object. No duality. Only the indescribable state which, for want of another word, is called being. As there is no object in being you could say there is no purpose in being. It is therefore an effortless state. For all effort is a struggle towards some aim, object or purpose. Being is effortless, because it is now. And that’s the end of it. Nothing more can be said.

Peter’s Point, Jamaica

8-9 June, 1993

Barry Long

An extract from The Origins of Man and the Universe

© The Barry Long Trust