BL: Yes, yes, yes! Because tradition means past, and traditions is old, and that's yesterday. And there is no truth in yesterday whatsoever. Like there's no truth in the Bible because it doesn't free you. It doesn't make you a total being. So if you follow a tradition, you're following something that's old. Why not be now?

WIE: You say in your article that you discourage people from even mentioning enlightenment on the grounds that doing so "puts people further from the state," because it implies a separation of time or distance from this natural condition. On the other hand you teach enlightenment and are very outspoken about being a master of enlightenment. It seems that a strong motivation towards enlightenment is important because of how much has to be given up and how much is demanded for there to be real transformation. Isn't it important to talk about enlightenment in order to encourage people to actually strive to attain it?

BL: No, you must not strive for anything. It is your striving that's caused you to be unenlightened, to forget what enlightenment was. Give up your negative feelings -and that's all feelings - and then you will stop thinking. You'll have the first amazing experience of the mind stopping, of no thought. Feelings continue and then you have to give those up. That's all you've got to give up, nothing else. Just don't be unhappy, now, not tomorrow, not next week, now. What have you got to be unhappy about? There's nothing for you to be unhappy about. You're interpreting events through your feelings, your personal self. There's no need to interpret. The problem is that you have feelings of negativity, of failure, of jealousy, of guilt. These are your problems. All you've got to do, and I will tell you how to do it, is to get rid of those and then you'll say, "Hallelujah, I'm free." And you won't even have to mention enlightenment.

WIE: In your article you seem to advise people to stop thinking, just as you advise people to stop feeling. Again, it doesn't seem to me that thought and feeling are necessarily the problem. What is important is one's relationship to them. Are they obscuring objectivity, are they obscuring your ability to see what's real and respond to it, or not?

BL: Every thought you have is an obscuration of reality because thoughts are always partial. You have to know nothing. I know nothing and in knowing nothing I know everything I need to know. You can ask me a question and I will be able to answer it. We are talking about a thing called enlightenment. Enlightenment is not gained and regained without enormous giving up of everything. You can't hold on to anything. Now that doesn't mean giving up your wealth, giving up your car. Giving up all those things are conceptual ways of sacrifice. The greatest sacrifice of all is to give up your feelings, which are the powerhouse of your thought process. So when you get rid of your feelings, no more thought. You've got to give up what counts, but people give up what doesn't count, their cars, their money. They shave their heads, they do something else, but that's not what it's about. It's about the supreme sacrifice, which is to sacrifice my humanness my suffering, which are my feelings. And that leads to the giving up of my thoughts. It's as simple as that because all I have is my feelings. That's my only corruption, my only unenlightenment.

WIE: Without thinking and feeling, how does one function when it comes to acting in the world, which inevitably involves making judgments and decisions and choosing between this and that? How do you function?

BL: Well, I don't make decisions. Somebody says to me, "Would it be okay to go to England?" and I say, "What are the dates and how does that fit in with everything? How's my health? Well, I'm all right, I think I can stand that sort of thing." So they put things to me and I can or I can't. In other words, I always go for the biggest "yes." I don't make decisions. Really, you don't need to make decisions. It's a conceptual thing and the more enlightened you are the less decisions there are. That's why I say you do as you do. You don't have alternatives and you don't have choices to make because that's the state.

I like to suggest that people don't use the word decision because that introduces a selfish aspect, the idea that you are controlling your life. "I decided." You know it is a very staccato, sharp-angled, suffering thing. Better to just look at the situation and do what you do. Now when you do what you do, it gets rid of the chooser, the winner and the loser. You'd be surprised how all day, most of the time, you're not making any decisions and you're doing all sorts of things. It's only a mental concept. It's selfish to think that you're making decisions. If you want a better word, where I come from - this is how everybody runs their life anyway - you go for the biggest "yes." There's no certainty in life so you look at a situation and there's six points for, and there's eight points against, and so you say, "Well, I'll go for the biggest 'yes' which in this case is no - so no I don't think that's a good idea." You just want to get rid of these big decision-makings. It's too harsh, it's willful.

WIE: You write, "Enlightenment is to be emptied (not empty) of feelings and thus at one with the purest sensation of divine being." What's the distinction here between being "emptied" and being "empty" of feelings?

BL: Yes, well I noticed that in your last issues' interviews with those Eastern teachers ["From light to Light," Jan. 1995], emptiness was mentioned a lot. I find that a wrong word. Because in God realisation and being one with God the Most High, the unspeakable one, there's no sense whatsoever of ever having done anything yourself. It is all done for you. It's by grace. And so it's not being empty, it's being emptied. There's a different emphasis or a different connotation to that. Nobody, it doesn't matter who he is, is ever going to be the Most High. He might think he is and start calling himself Bhagwan or The Bright and all that bullshit, but it's not true. It is by grace that I live, it is by grace that I am speaking now, it is by grace and grace alone. And that grace empties the vehicle of what it needs to be emptied of. And then there is the state of enlightenment, or wonder, which has no knowing in it. So the void that the Buddha is supposed to have spoken of, and which I am in and which I am, is not empty. It is pregnant. It is utterly potent but it's nothing.

Barry Long

© The Barry Long Trust