Barry Long and John Pearce
Only Fear Dies
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LOVE IS NOT A FEELING ~ The Interview
Barry Long was interviewed about Love is Not a Feeling by Hal Blacker, editor of What is Enlightenment magazine.
This interview was published alongside the article in What is Enlightenment Volume 4, Number 2, Summer 1995. Reprinted here with permission from 'What is Enlightenment'.
WIE: In your article you make a distinction between feeling and sensation. But it seems to me that sensations are as ephemeral and time-bound as feelings. What's the relevance of sensations to enlightenment, which is beyond time and beyond change?
BL: I have no feelings at this moment and I don't have feelings. But if I want to I can feel a sensation in my body within, which is the pure sensation of my sensory existence, which is the beginning of time. That sensation never changes, it's always there. But as I detach myself from existence, that is from my feelings, from the necessity to think or feel, that sensation disappears. It's not necessary. It only appears when I want it or when somebody mentions it. Otherwise I have no sensation and no feelings and I exist in knowledge.
You can't be enlightened unless you've got sensation, pure sensation. I'm choosing the word pure sensation because pure sensation doesn't have any feeling in it. I don't like to use the word experience because experience isn't direct. Pure sensation is direct being and that's the basis of your and everybody's sensory existence. Now enlightenment is the other side of that. Where sensation itself even disappears because it's not necessary, there is enlightenment. It's the other side of pure sensation.
WIE: What is the connection between love and enlightenment?
BL: Love is the state of enlightenment and enlightenment is the state of love. You can't make any separation between them. Enlightenment is the state of no feelings and pure knowledge and so is love. And both are impersonal. Now to be personal is to have feelings, feelings about this, feelings about your mother, feelings about your father. Oh, everybody lives off their feelings all day, as you know I say in the article, but that's personal. The personal is what changes every couple of seconds, although we don't know it. So that's your feelings. Now the impersonal state of love is something that very few people on this earth know anything about. And to bring that impersonal love into existence - which is where you and I are speaking now - that is even rarer than the realisation of God.
Now I'm going to tell you what everybody's problem is: it is love of woman in the case of a man, and the love of man in the case of a woman. All your problems come down to love. Your love life is what your problem is, and everybody else's on earth. God in existence is man and woman. There's nothing else. And unless you have loved God in existence - your duality which is woman or man - unless you have united with that through love and devotion without going through your feelings of love, you're not going to be enlightened.
The love of man and woman is the beginning of the love of God. You can realise God within like many men have done. It's one of the rarest things on earth to realise God, but everybody seems to think that that's the end. Where I come from, realising God was the easy part of it. That God of love which is already here anyway - who wouldn't be able to realise it? The difficult part is to bring that God into this world where God or love is not, into that body listening to these words and this body speaking them. That's the task.
WIE: You write that all feelings are false and deceptive. It seems though that having feelings is part of being human. Isn't it possible to have true and appropriate emotional responses such as anger at injustice and hypocrisy?
BL: Oh, no, no, no. That is a justification of your feelings, your negativity and your unenlightenment, and that's what everybody on earth does. They don't want to bite the bullet. Nobody wants to be utterly and completely honest and natural. So when you justify feelings, tell me, what feelings are genuine? Now for instance, do you want anger? For God's sake, I don't want it, thanks very much! And I'm sure the people I live with don't want it. So what's the good of it? It's purely selfish to be angry because it satisfies me, myself, instead of being universal.
WIE: But it seems that if you are human you're going to have an emotional response to the complex and sometimes terrible situations that do arise in life.
BL: Now wait a minute. In the article I say that feelings are the interpretation of events. What you're describing - these terrible things that happen in life - they are life, and terrible things happen in life. For instance I might lose an arm today. That would be, let's say, a terrible thing. But it wouldn't be a terrible thing to me. It would be that I would lose my arm and possibly suffer physical pain. That would not be a terrible thing to me. If it were terrible that would be a selfish and feeling interpretation of an event. The fact that it hurts is not terrible, that's life; and the fact that it happened is not terrible, it's life.
WIE: Well, it's life but I don't know that life necessarily excludes making those kinds of judgments. The way that you're describing it seems to exclude a large area of human existence.
BL: Because humanity is not enlightened. Do you know what humanity is, what the word "human" means? The word human where I come from - which is the enlightened state - means suffering. So when you say you're a human being, you're saying you're a suffering being. And I say you have to get rid of your suffering and then be being. Enlightenment is the state of being which I am, this moment and every moment. So I'm not suffering. But humanity loves to suffer. People love to suffer because they love to get excited with their feelings.
All you've got to do is get rid of your feelings, which are always negative. Why not get rid of the whole lot of it, now? That means you don't know feelings and then you don't know negativity, and then you'd be in love, and then you would love everybody by not loving anybody in particular as a feeling. That's the state of enlightenment. People want to get rid of this feeling, they want to get rid of their jealousy, they want to get rid of their anger - but what you've got to get rid of is the whole lot.
WIE: You seem to be very much against Eastern Traditions. Aren't there some teachings in those traditions that can be helpful, but the problem is that often those teachings are not really being lived?
BL: That is so. You will find that nobody is living those teachings now because the master who wrote them was not enlightened, or the priests that copied them out were not enlightened and the original master is dead. Now only while a master is here can you realise what the master says. You can't realise it in the written word. You can get help from that and you can realise little bits here and there, but the idea is to be with the master like you are with the master now. He's speaking to you and this is direct communication.
All Eastern teachings are partial. The teachers themselves don't live them because most of their audience is in the West and the West is a totally different place than the East. If you try to live an Eastern teaching and be in the West, you're not facing the immediate difficulty. The immediate difficulty is the Western mind that believes so many concepts and writes so many dictionaries and invents so many things. You are a Westerner and that's where God is found - in your culture. Not in trying to find some other culture to solve it for you.
I am master of the West. No one is as straight as I am because I do not have any Eastern beliefs. I do not look through any sort of film. I see things precisely as they are. The West puts nuts and bolts together and sends space-ships to the moon. I do the same thing in connection with God. I am very, very practical and I have no Eastern thought in me.
WIE: Do you
feel that all traditional religious teachings have to be
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