MY SPIRITUAL PATH
Peter Shepherd Interviewed by Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby
Peter Shepherd, founder of Trans4mind.com, was interviewed by Dr. Keith Scott-Mumby, to complete the The Science of Being and Consciousness series. Dr. Keith asks Peter about his background, how and why Trans4mind was founded, what spiritual growth means in practice, and the heights that can be reached with an holistic program of personal growth.
Keith: Peter runs what I think without a question is the finest personal growth and spiritual website on the web, called Trans4mind. To introduce yourself to the folks, explain how you came to have created such a vast website. What was in your mind? Was it one of those things that just grew, as things do? How did you create it?
Peter: Well it did just grow, yes. It started off because it suddenly became possible to publish one’s own writing on the Internet for free. Before it was things like CompuServe and AOL and you had to pay to have things online, and nobody read much of it anyway, it wasn’t that accessible. And it suddenly became accessible with the WWW. I’d just put together a collection of my ideas about psychology. I’d been a psychotherapist for some years, and at the same time I’d been a Buddhist since I was about 12 years old and the two had always been aligned in my mind. My training had been very down to earth, rational-emotive psychotherapy and at the same time I had spiritual experience and belief, and I thought the two should come together. And then I discovered the whole field of transpersonal psychology – I wish I’d known about it earlier – which did put the two together very well.
I was looking at positive psychology, where you can learn to look at your life in a more positive, optimistic way towards goals, as an alternative to sorting out what’s wrong with you, as if your life is suddenly going to become better if this problem is solved. In fact, with psychotherapy this is what we did all the time – solve problems – and yet the person is still left with no real life. No vision, no sense of self that they can create from. Because to go forward in life you have to have a sense of self and to really like yourself, so you believe that what you create will be worthwhile. Which is positive psychology.
Keith: It get’s round the problem, doesn’t it, that a lot of so-called problems are actually solutions. Like alcoholism, say, it’s a problem but it’s actually a solution to something. If it’s taken away the person will go away and find another problem.
Peter: You take away that person’s problem and you’ve actually taken away their solution, and they’ll just find another. That’s psychotherapy for you! It’s a bit like doctors do with the health problems of their patients: get rid of the symptom and the person is still left with what caused the health problem in the first place. It has a role to play… people like counselors and therapists do a lot of good with people who need help and are not in a confident enough state, they’re overwhelmed, and they need a figure to support them and turn things around. You do need doctors and psychologists. But personally I didn’t find that work satisfying, because it wasn’t bringing in the spiritual element.
To me, the spiritual element is that part of the person that is the real self, not the self that has been trained by their parents, their culture, their religion and schooling, to be a cog in the wheel of the machinery of the money-making society. You can take your place in that machine and life a life of unfulfilled boredom, mitigated by TV, drink and sexual experiences and so on, that give a kind of illusion that it’s worthwhile. Nevertheless there’s a gap, and that hole that is missing is the realization of one’s true self. The spiritual self. Regardless of any philosophical or religious definitions of spirituality, it boils down to the real self, the self that is behind the mind. Not the think-think, intellectual goings on in the mind, but the self which is an observer of that.
As I mentioned, transpersonal psychology was a big information source for me to put together the pieces, to understand how philosophy, religion and psychology can all mix together in a positive way, for transformation. So I put my thoughts together in a book, which wasn’t a book then but a kind of thesis for myself, called Transforming the Mind. And then it became possible to put this on the Internet very easily, so I did. Transforming the Mind lead to the sort of acronym Trans4mind, so I called the domain name trans4mind.com. I also wrote a short course to introduce people to personal development, called the New Life Course. And alongside that I had this relatively advanced spiritual development course that I had been working on, really one way or another, all my life.
Talking about past lives, all my past lives have been leading up to this life and what I’m doing now, this critical time. It’s as if I’d always known that this time was coming, and at one level I’m sure I did. Because on the spiritual plane time really is a pretty meaningless concept, it’s all happening in one time or no time. In the past I was aware of the need to learn a lot and to make all the mistakes that you can make, which lead to that learning, and I did through many lifetimes. I remember, in practice it lead to about a thousand years being a Buddhist monk, a thousand years being a Christian monk, and then a priest. When I was five years old, I’d stand on the sofa – I’d had no contact with Christianity – and give sermons to the family and visitors. Really quite bizarre.
Keith: I bet they loved that.
Peter: A bit freaked out probably. I was a choirboy and when the priest was giving his sermon, about how everybody in the congregation was basically sinful, and unless they repent and stop having a life that has any kind of pleasure in it, they’ll suffer for eternity in Hell. My mother was in the congregation; I knew that my mother was, as she is now, a loving, innocent person and there was no way that anything he said applied to her. So I walked out of that role of cute little choirboy, and that’s when I got into Buddhism, which had a natural kind of resonance considering my background, just as being a choirboy was a natural resonance of being a priest and monk. Anyway, I found a much purer source of information in Buddhism which has been and still is a fantastic influence.
Keith: I’ve always thought that Buddhism was more an advanced psychology rather than religion and I’m sure you have too.
Peter: Yeah, it contains advanced psychology, but it also contains the simplicities that I’ve found are at the root of spiritual understanding. About the importance of compassion, for example. Universal truth. Most of the other religions and philosophies camouflage universal truth with a whole load of dogma and stories, whereas Buddhism is in more of an exposed form, which one can easily learn.
I wrote this Transforming the Mind, put it online and it was very popular, partly because there was very little competition at the time…
Keith: This was how long ago, Pete?
Peter: 1998. So I had two courses, an introductory course and an advanced one. People liked the book and downloaded it … over 600,000 copies downloaded, partly because it’s free and also because people want to read it. I’ve had so much good feedback from that and also some of the people do the introductory course and some do the advanced spiritual development course. It’s all been so rewarding. It’s all built up largely because I wanted the site to reflect many different points of view, and different paths that are appropriate to different people and the position in their life. What’s the next best thing for somebody to do is different for one person and for another.
Keith: That’s an important point to make, isn’t it. These ‘pathways’ are so often laid down as a totality but mostly it’s not appropriate, it just depends on where the person is at in their journey, and not just this lifetime at all.
Peter: A course on anxiety reduction might be exactly what a person is looking for and needs at that point, and the other things will come later.
Keith: I think it’s true to say that just about everything is on that site, isn’t it. There must be very few omissions. It’s an absolute wonderland, an Aladdin’s cave of magnificent jewels that you find when you go to that site. You can spend hours there easily. I must say this thing has grown to become an enormous force, Pete, and I dare say it’s been dominant in some people’s lives. You were telling me what became a tragic story, about a group that were following you. Tell me about that.
Peter: There was a group of people in Libya, they lived lives really without information that could be liberating for them, and the women in particular have lives where they’re totally under the thumb of the men. They found Trans4mind on the Internet. One person in particular lead a group of people in studying different materials from Trans4mind, and they would ask me to coach them on it and help them, which I did. It was quite time consuming as I wanted to help them as much as possible because it was quite significant to bring this sort of information into their culture. But they had a government secret service person who infiltrated their group, and the leader of the group was taken away and interrogated and tortured. Really terrible as they had such fantastic gains from it and I had wonderful emails from them. But the guy who was tortured did get back to me, that he had managed to escape and get out of the country.
Keith: Oh, great. Politicians are such notorious liars and they just get scared witless by the idea of truth. They hate it.
Peter: Yeah, because it’s liberating and people in power depend on the brainwashing they have instigated to give a belief system in which they are the top dog. So any kind of open-mindedness it a threat to them. The basic motto of Trans4mind is, “Minds, like parachutes, function better when open.”
Keith: But not too open, so that things fall through it like a sieve. A person has to be open to the evidence, don’t they, and then they have to make a decision, based on the evidence. You can’t just stay open minded forever and never actually connect with things, that’s not a good path either.
Peter: You have to have beliefs, but also beliefs have to be provisional, so that when you get new evidence, you change the belief. As soon as you become attached to a belief, it’s a mouse trap.
Keith: When we first met, you were involved with some pretty deep research, the kind that I would call “extreme mysticism” … what can you share about that? You’d have to talk for weeks to cover it all but tell us a little. It’s very exciting what you’re doing and it is available on your site, isn’t it?
Peter: Yes, we call it the Insight Project. It’s about getting to examine all the thoughts you have, the considerations and beliefs, and finding out what’s true and what isn’t. And what is actually belonging to somebody else… something somebody else told you and you’ve accepted. What’s, in other words, been imprinted or programmed. On the other hand, stripping that stuff off and finding what is your own inner truth. Because it comes from inside you it is pure and is your inner knowing, your knowing that is from you as a spiritual being. It’s based on universal knowledge, that is knowledge that is free of any kind of conditioning.
Keith: But hadn’t we better make the point here that this is not just social enculturation and memes, and bad education on Earth… we’re talking about all across eternity, the purposes of the being, a fusion that’s gradually built up over eons of what it means to be conscious.
Peter: It is about all that but you get into that through the route of the present moment. Because all of the history that you have as a spiritual being, as well as a being that has been incarnated in many lifetimes, forms a structure of beliefs and identities (in particular) that were at the time solutions to the problems you had. They were identities you need to adopt to achieve goals that seemed to you at the time to be fulfilling your purpose. Very often those goals were stopped and you got nowhere, then you changed your identity to another identity, maybe a lesser version. Over time, these intentions and identities became stuck in structures of impasse – what we call Goal Conflict Structures.
If there’s a goal and you achieve the goal, no problem. If there’s a goal and you fail completely, no problem. The problem arises when you’re wanting to achieve something, and at the same time, because you compromise and compromise, you end up with your identity the opposite of what you started with. Both are still functioning at the same time, so you have an inner conflict which acts as a kind of mass, and it sits there in a kind of no space and no time. The situations in your life now bring back those identities in different circumstances and you replay those roles again. You then have those inner conflicts in the here and now. It’s all overwhelming, really, so overwhelming it becomes unconscious.
This is a kind of structure that remains with you after you die and into the next life. It’s not a kind of body-mind traumatic experience, or a temporary learning that is in the body-mind structure. If you have a near death experience and go to the other side, you’ve still got your Goal Conflict Structures there. There are beings on different levels after their life because they have different degrees tat they’ve sorted these kinds of deep, goal problem structures. Really, there isn’t another understanding of this, or way to deal with it, that is available on the planet. Even the most advanced Buddhist methods touch on this but don’t handle it fully.
Keith: We defuse it, don’t we Pete, like take all the violence and power and the terrible force out of these things. I mean people get by these, don’t they? People die of these sometimes. When you bring the whole purpose mass crashing in on you, that’s the time you have your mid-life heart attack and die. It can be that powerful, can’t it?
Peter: Yeah, it can be powerful, but the way it’s handled in the Insight Project is extremely safe – because you only look at things that you can actually look at safely. In real life it doesn’t work like that because the charge comes banging in, and you get cancer or something and you have no idea why or what’s going on. But as we handle it with a structured course, that’s been designed specifically to make it safe and workable to deal with this stuff, it’s dependent on the use of biofeedback.
Keith: I want to talk about that in a minute but I want to make another point, because I know we share this too, just before we move on, and you did hint at it. You know, no matter where these things come from, and how many past lives, and how deep into the past, what really affects a person is what they’re doing with it right now in the present. How you are interacting with these things. So it is a present time thing – just being historical and going back a million years doesn’t really help; what you want to do is fix what you’re doing with it right now.
Peter: That’s one of the reasons it’s safe to do this. Because you are only looking at what you’re believing or what thoughts are imprinted that you’re playing out, in your life right now. They’re accessible because they’re there, you’re using them. Once you realize that they’re actually not your truth, you can just let them go. That might be to do with something that goes back goodness knows when and it doesn’t matter where it comes from, you don’t have to go back in time and find the experience. Very often a bit of the past comes with it so that you do get pictures of the past, but when you let go of the untruth of that belief or consideration, it automatically just disappears. You no longer have that connection and that ball and chain from the past; it’s gone for ever.
Keith: That’s an important principle isn’t it. You get the absolute truth of something and it will vanish or you’re free of it. I don’t want to scare people, Pete, and maybe I gave a bit of a scary view, but to me it’s a bit exciting that bits of the past do pop in to view, as you say, and you can deal with other worlds, other planets, other identities… sometimes other universes. There’s all sorts of strange things that appear to your consciousness.
Peter: It’s very exciting to know your past lives, and to know why you’re doing what you’re doing now, and to know what you have been doing and why you did it, and to know what beliefs you have that are actually true – and how much of your life was spent following other people’s ideas of what true. It doesn’t really matter if what you’re following is true or not, if it’s somebody else’s belief that you’re following then it’s still not your truth. It helps if it’s true but all too often it isn’t. It’s just another dogma and another person’s filter on life, and you’re better off without it. But when you do get to the truth it’s exhilarating, it’s illuminating, and you find out interesting things too like past life experiences that explain so much, and you can see the thread of your past and how it’s integrated into the present, and you can move it into the direction you want to go in the future instead of it being like a pre-ordained tapestry… now you can change the picture on that tapestry to make it your picture.
Keith: You were just telling us about the biofeedback meter as the way of channeling these things, so that you know you’re accurate in perceptions. That’s what makes this safe and gives the accuracy - tell us about that…
Peter: Alongside beliefs are feelings. You know whether a belief is true or not, because of your inner knowing. Your surface mind doesn’t know if it’s true or not. A belief can have a lot of emotion attached to it because of the conflict between your inner knowing that it isn’t true and your ego mind’s thinking it is true. That gives it an emotion that activates a body-wide nervous response, which changes the skin resistance. So a simple skin resistance galvanometer, a GSR, can show when there are emotions that are surfacing there. Because these feelings threaten the ego’s picture of things, they are suppressed, but when suppressed emotions come nearer the surface and are accessible – and also by that very reason not dangerous to look at – they are normally still not seen by the ego mind but they do show on a skin resistance galvanometer, which indicates this emotional response. They show up as a tick on a needle or a movement of an LED.
Keith: It’s telling you it’s near the surface, isn’t it?
Peter: It’s saying that there’s something there. Very often you want to know, with a list of possibilities, what to go for and the meter will tell you what item on that list is the key thing to look at. So instead of spending ages looking at the wrong things, you can go straight to the right thing… which leads you to another thing, which leads you to another thing. The development of the Insight Project was largely about discovering and working out the thousands of hooks on which to hang this technique, to open up the picture, the awareness that is available in one’s inner knowing and universe.
Keith: Now there’s another reason it’s important too. I should say that I have been using this device myself too, I know the kind of instrument that Pete’s talking about, and it’s wonderful. My use of it goes back over 40 years actually. But it also tells you what needs addressing, doesn’t it? It doesn’t just say it’s there and can be addressed, what it’s saying is this is where you should go, and that’s what helps. You might, for example, have got someone who’s suffering PTSD, say a Vietnam war veteran, and a typical psychologist would wade right in, thinking they know, and they hammer this person up against their war traumas and often tie the person up in a ball and wreck them. Because the person is not capable of doing that. On the meter it would be dead, the needle would not respond because the charge is not ready to access yet. You might get a big accessible read on “pet dog died” and you say, let’s address the loss of your dog, and they’d burst into tears and it all starts healing.
Peter: The meter also gets past the defense mechanisms, because the person doesn’t want to look at the thing which is the real issue for which they have responsibility; they’d rather go on complaining about the next door neighbors’s dog or something.
Keith: The severe trauma or suppressed issue will come to the surface eventually. Soon or later you’ll start getting skin responses and emotional responses on the Vietnam war, say, in the example I gave.
Peter: It will come when it’s ready and accessible, and therefore also safe to look at without getting overwhelmed. There a lot of stuff in one’s past… if you were to get into, or remember, or be taken by hypnosis, into a time when you were murdered, and at the same time the guy had murdered your wife – we all have experiences like this – it’s totally overwhelming to remember such a thing, you’d be in shock and emotional crisis. If you’re doing a spiritual development project on your own, you have to be emotionally stable enough to do it, you can’t be in an overwhelmed state, therefore it’s very important to use the biofeedback methods in the way that people are taught to with this course. Everything just looks after itself that way. Eventually the charge is reduced layer by layer so that you can face the biggest things with equanimity.
Keith: Right, now this technology has gone forward a stage, hasn’t it? With the bilateral implementation we can see what’s happening in right and left brains. Explain how that’s helpful to people, can you Pete?
Peter: Well it’s to do with the structure of the brain and the way the left brain functions and the right brain functions are different. The left brain has the ability to construct a reality, to imagine, to make up a story or to lie; the right brain hasn’t that ability whatsoever, it simply doesn’t work in that way of a sequence of things or logic, it works in the way of direct perception of reality and remembering of real experience. So, very different. There are also many other differences between left and right brain, but for this purpose it’s instructive when you’re looking at what’s true and what’s not true that the left brain becomes more aroused when you’re making something up and the right brain becomes more aroused if you’re recalling a real experience. That’s useful information. If you could have biofeedback that showed you when the left brain is aroused and the right brain is aroused, and to what degree, it gives you complementary information about what the conventional type of GSR meter is telling you about what causes overall brain arousal or less arousal, because of the emotional response or suppression of response.
So there’s two different kinds of response that are instructive to use together. This bilateral metering approach was originally developed in a London hospital to help diagnose people who were schizophrenic or not. The florid schizophrenic who lived in a completely alternative reality would be very unbalanced toward the left brain. The manic-depressive, totally overwhelmed by their emotions, would be very much right brained. The bilateral biofeedback device we use today was developed by Mind Development Ltd in the 1960’s to use in the context of psychotherapy, to find out whether a person was talking of real experience and real emotion, or whether they are actually simply avoiding the truth – making something up, which the person may well believe to be the case but it’s still being invented as a defense mechanism.
It has fantastic applications in psychology, diagnosis, psychotherapy and mental development; it’s also got an application in methods I was describing earlier, in spiritual development, determining what is true and untrue. It’s not essential to use the bilateral meter for theInsight Project because we already have a working system to find out what’s true and untrue, using the conventional GSR emotional response. Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating potential future direction for the Insight Project to also include bilateral biofeedback, which is something that we are working on together.
Keith: Something we’ve come to realize is that most emotions are heavily locked up on the right side, where you say the true feelings are, so it’s not all friendly on the right side – fear, dread, misery and so on come from the right side. The left brain gets a bad rap today, as if its cause of all the trouble, and too much left brain certainly is, but it’s the left brain that can reason and understand. With help and guidance the left brain can figure out what’s going wrong on the other side, and work out what truths are. And between the two halves we can come to the truths, but the right brain is often inept in spotting what’s really happening because of the lack of linear logic that explains why they feel that way. They just know they feel like that but don’t understand why.
Peter: The right brain has a perception but it’s not an understanding. It’s how emotions come through, and also intuition and spiritual insight comes from the right brain in terms of images and feelings, but that has to be interpreted by the left brain and understood in that way. So the two work together as a team and are as important as each other. When you have a good understanding based on reality, the bilateral meter gives a reading which is balanced between the two sides, which are in good communication. When there’s stuff in the right brain that the left brain doesn’t want to look at, like things the person has done wrong, or painful experience, then there isn’t a balance between the two sides. When experiencing the trauma of an experience the meter goes to the right, or you go into the rationalizations and excuses and justifications which you invent to not look at the experience, then you go to the left.
If your mind is full of rationalizations, excuses and justifications – and other defense mechanisms – you lose contact with your right brain, it’s information is suppressed. You lose contact with your source of reality, intuition and feelings, and that happens so much. To reinforce that you have an educational system which is based on reading, writing and arithmetic. I remember a nephew of mine, when he was four years old before he went to school, he would sit down and talk to me about philosophy and his past life… he talked like a wise old man. Absolutely astonishing. A year later, after he’d gone to school and his brain waves changed from theta to beta, which is a natural development, his verbal left brain started to be trained by the school, he could remember any of his past identity and knowledge, he was like a kid who hadn’t got a clue about anything.
Keith: Isn’t that sad.
Peter: That’s what happens with our society, we’re trained to be cogs in a machine with reading, writing and arithmetic. They don’t train us to be creative. The reason for that is you can only really be creative if you are being yourself, finding something which inspires you, not something that you are told is a good idea to do to earn a living. And creative people are a threat because by their nature they’re working outside of the box and they are being open minded. Whereas creative training is the ideal stimulus for left-right brain communication. The most enlightened schooling methods use a great deal of creative exercises and practical methods to encourage the children to be themselves, bring out their real personality and aspirations. They encourage children to express their feelings, and understand them, not to suppress them. So they teach creative and emotional intelligence, as well as logical intelligence.
Keith: The wisest education doesn’t try to push things into the kids, does it, it tries to draw things out of the kids. As you say, we’ve got it horribly wrong. I don’t know if you know, I did Latin at school, and education comes from educare which means “to lead out of” – it does not mean indocare, that’s “indoctrinate.” We call it education but we don’t educare, we do indocare.
Peter: It would be better called indoctrination, wouldn’t it.
Keith: There is a gender thing in this, isn’t there. You were saying, if you live in the left brain and you’re full of excuses and justifications, and you lose touch with your feelings, well, I thought, he’s talking about a man, obviously. But it’s true isn’t it?
Peter: If you go to personal development seminars, particularly if they’re a bit spiritual, emotional or to do with health - it’s largely women there. They are much more open to their intuitions and knowing, and also spiritual abilities like telepathy, clairvoyance and whatever. We’re all capable of that, we just need to open up.
Keith: My first wife will confirm, I was known as an honorary women for about 20 years, because I liked to talk about past lives, feelings and telepathy – but the guys all wanted to talk about cars and beer and stuff, and that was boring as hell to me. As soon as the last man has gone out of the room, they start talking about their things, and they talk about things that would probably quite shock the average man. 20 or 30 years ago it would anyway. They don’t say, do you believe in past lives or whatever, they just do it!
We may derail ourselves with the gender issue, but one of the strong saying that I have, and I keep bringing it up in this series, is that spirit doesn’t have gender. Only bodies and creatures have gender.
Now that we’ve set the stage, as it were, let’s talk more about spirituality and nature. Specifically, people are tuning into this series to look higher than the brain, Pete. We all know that mind isn’t the brain, it’s much bigger than that. Rupert Sheldrake actually said it beautifully a couple of weeks ago, that your mind is as big as your theatre of perceptions. If you look outwards to the edge of the universe, even if it’s using a telescope, you can see a star squillions of miles away – that’s how big your mind is. The mind has that much reach and extent. So we’ll leave the brain model behind. But I think it would be wrong to skip self and ego, and I think you’re good on that, so why don’t you do that for us in this series, Pete? You know, spirit coming down, downwards causation meets the body and the animal coming up, and in the middle is the so-called self and the so-called ego, identity and all that. Talk us through it, Pete.
Peter: There’s a big picture which goes from the highest spiritual level, which you could call Source, or God or something like that, and a whole range of viewpoints which go down through spirit, soul, mind, emotion, body and the material, physical world. When you look at the world through any of those different levels, it’s a different picture. When you look at the world from the point of view of the human animal or the body-mind, it’s a different picture from the view of a spiritual being who’s incarnated into that human animal – which is the real human being, the ‘being’ of the human. You could call that being the soul, and souls come from a higher plane of existence, from the spiritual planes. One thing about that soul as the human being is that it’s motivated primarily by love.
People who have had a near death experiences say this, and my own experience of the truth of things… whenever I’ve looked at what’s true and false with the Insight Project, when you get down to the bottom of what your inner knowing is, the truth is always a loving viewpoint, always guided by love, it’s always what will result from understanding and empathy and compassion, and acceptance of what is without judgment. That’s where the spirit’s coming from.
The human animal is very different. As a result of evolution of the human body and competition for survival, it is primarily motivated by survival and because of that it is ruled by fears of not surviving. The human animal has attention on the past and future because it doesn’t want to repeat the things that went wrong in the past and is anxious about what might go wrong in the future. The human animal reacts emotionally all the time to circumstances, the next thing that happens, and is carried along in an unconscious way, really leaving very little room for the human being to have any say in it.
The human being is motivated primarily by love but is in a culture where love hardly gets a look in, especially in the case of men, particularly the “warrior man,” the macho man who never cries because that would show weakness. As an aside, tears are liquid love. They are about losing or regaining or remembering, and about compassion and oneness, and they’re about life. They are about both the tragedy and the triumph in life. Love embraces both. It isn’t like the spiritual is everything going right, and never going wrong. It isn’t like “life is the will of God” … people complain if something terrible happens that it was God’s will but how can God who is Love intend such a terrible thing to happen? It’s not like that, we’re all making our life. Each one of us is a spark of God, so we all have free will. Both tragedy and triumph can happen, we have the freedom to create both.
If life didn’t have room for light and dark, and good and bad, ugly and beautiful, tragedy and triumph – it would be so bland as to be not worth living. Life includes these things but it’s all a oneness that makes life so wonderful, so colorful and worth living and worth experiencing.
If we cut out love from the equation – particularly in our society it is something that men find so difficult to deal with – then we are cutting out the human being, the soul from our consciousness. We are also cutting out universal truth because that is always guided by love. It’s the best guide we have for how to live our life, which is: “What would I do as love, for love?” Because that question is always true in its answer. If you’re making a decision, “Is this choice guided by love?” In that way, life is incredibly simple and you’re not depending on any beliefs from other people, anything intellectual, nor any code or dogma.
Keith: I think that’s so much better than “What would Jesus do in this situation?” which of course is what Christians think of. It’s much more universal, isn’t it, what choices would be made by a decision in the name of love.
Peter: It’s what Jesus wanted too. He was no fool, he said the Kingdom of God is within you. He wanted everyone to be their loving self. It was all distorted by the churches but Jesus had it right in the first place. He understood the simplicity of it, “What would I do in the name of love?” In other words, what would I do, because I am love.
Keith: Yes, that plays straight to one of my favorite sayings, “We are love.” That’s our being, we don’t have love, we don’t give love, we don’t do love, we are love. I think it’s important people realize that.
Alright, fill in the bit in the middle, the identity, the self… how does that get constructed? If we deconstruct it, is that helpful or do we fall apart if we don’t have a self?
Peter: Well, the body-mind of the human animal, also combined with the human being, structures a personality and the top-dog identity of that personality is the ego. Just as we were saying, if the human animal is ruling the roost with fears, the ego is going to be dominated by its fears, and it’s going to be egotistic, selfish, afraid and fall easily into things like anger, and if things don’t go right depression and all the negative emotions, which are derived from a weak ego. Because it’s being influenced so much by the animal fears.
Keith: That would daughter things like cheating and lying, wouldn’t it. They would become natural instruments for somebody in that poor condition.
Peter: Yes, and that’s human nature as we know it. If we deal with that stuff, accepting negative feelings, experiencing them and then letting them go, and start to live a life that is more in accordance with loving compassion – including primarily for oneself – then the ego can be less and less afraid, more and more aligned with the human being, the soul. Where love is recognized as the source, as one’s very essence. It’s also felt as being infinite because it is. Because love is also life, the light and the consciousness of the whole universe, and one with everything. One is connected to an infinite resource, therefore there is infinite love within you. One need feel no lack; one is so abundant one can love everybody. And that totally changes the ego, it then becomes transparent to the human being. An ego empowered by the soul. It’s still an ego, but not in any sense of being egotistic.
Keith: Well, a viewpoint really, perhaps we would say?
Peter: It’s still a mental construct, one’s mental identity, who you think of as you – a kind of left-brained thinking. Not the same as the soul, which is more of a viewpoint, a witness that remains exterior to or behind the mind.
Keith: Could we let that ego go completely? What would happen? Would we revert to Source and go on and mix with universal consciousness?
Peter: That’s what can happen when you die, if you are ready for it, but here we live the human life, and we do need the mind for that, and we do need a kind of identity in the mind to order the mind. But it needn’t be a betrayal of the human soul, it can be integrated and transparent. They can be one. So the human animal and the human being become one, at last, and there isn’t a separation of their motives. Yes, the body still will be motivated by survival – if a lorry is coming fast straight at you, you’re going to be afraid. If somebody was to attack your wife, you would defend her – you’re still a human animal and survival is a concern. And at the same time you have this external viewpoint or awareness, of a soul – the witnessing, self-remembering – which means you can be mindful, you can be conscious in the present time. You can therefore control the human animal, not by suppressing it but by training it, a bit like training a dog, to not just react but to remember to follow your motivation of “Is this choice guided by love?”
When a car crashes into yours, do you scream at the person or do you remember you are actually behind this mental experience that’s going on, conscious and mindful and able to realize there’s a situation here… but you can accept it as it is, and even enjoy it as part of the tapestry of life. And not go off in a direction the human animal would go in if he or she were simply to be reactive.
You can be mindful. Which is why so much of meditation, and Buddhist meditation particularly, is about mindfulness and a way to practice this skill.
Keith: You mentioned witnessing before. I’d like you to say a bit more about that. That’s quite deep, like Gurdjieff for example, they go deeply into this concept, don’t they? I just think of it in simple English terms, it’s “see yourself being yourself.” It’s important to go through life in that way (largely anyway, there’ll be times you drop it) and see yourself as a being that’s participating and not just a machine.
Peter: As a person involved in life, there’s two common modes of consciousness. There’s the involved, in the flow mode, which is right-brain dominant. If you are dancing or playing tennis, it’s no good being in a witnessing mode then… as soon as you become self conscious you’re out of the flow and you upset the rhythm. At the same, a good tennis player will nevertheless step back and look at his tactics, and that is the mode where the left brain looks at things objectively and considers what can be learned from the mistakes that have been made. How could the plan be adjusted to better achieve success?
So there are these involved or reflective, right or left brain modes… but there’s also a kind of consciousness which is nonverbal and not directly involved either. That’s the spiritual consciousness, which is aware of being aware. It is this that enables us to step out of things and not be reactive, a third part of the triangle which is able to pull the strings of the human life. We develop that, either deliberately through meditation or simply through maturity. One further way to develop it is to remember that the motivation of the being who pulls the strings, the true being, is in fact love, and it is God, and it is connected with All That Is. You’re connected with the people you’re dealing with too, because they’re also love, and they and you are part of the creative consciousness that is creating all our experience.
It isn’t only necessary to use Buddhist meditation to become mindful, you can do it through the Insight Project, or through continually coming back to your inner knowing and realizing that is the you who is external, and you can do it just by remembering “who I really am” … I am the loving viewpoint in this.
Keith: The Insight Project is really a quite remarkable and transformative program, and for so little that it’s amazing. Let’s visit another couple of topics before we end off, Pete. Let’s start with forgiveness. I see forgiveness as loving the other person more but also self love - when you forgive it’s yourself that released, isn’t it? You’re doing yourself a favor, not letting the other person off the hook.
Peter: If you’re not forgiving you’re simply attached to an outcome that can never happen, which is that what happened in the past happened differently. The way forward is always to accept what happened in the past and to learn from it. If somebody did some harm to you in the past, if you’re not forgiving them, you’re not accepting the past as it was, as what happened. It’s happened and it’s gone, and you’re now in the present but you’re suffering as a result of that attachment. If you let that go you will be able to be more compassionate and understanding of the person on the other side of the situation. As well as compassionate for yourself and how you have suffered. As long as you’ve got this kind of attachment that the past shouldn’t have been the way it was, you’re going to be stuck in the past and continue to suffer.
Keith: True. Let’s take the other one, Pete, which is gratitude. To me, two really powerful things that transform people are love and gratitude. Of course, they’re connected, but how does gratitude work?
Peter: Gratitude is abundance. It’s a sign of the fact that you accept things as they are, and you appreciate that they are the way they are. Love is unconditional acceptance therefore gratitude is your expression of love for life. It’s therefore a connection with all those things for which you are grateful. If you sit and think of all the things you can be grateful for, the list goes on forever.
The more you get into that way of looking, in the present moment – that all that you perceive, all the connections you have, all that’s going on – is positive, you can’t help but be incredibly happy with a big smile. So gratitude is the key to happiness.
Keith: OK, so we’ve had a fantastic tour of the mind, a tour of the psyche and the ego and so on, it’s been wonderful talking to you Pete, and thanks for sharing with us. To finish off, you share on your website what you are calling the “Love is All You Need” program. Could you explain that and tell people why they should do that. It’s totally free, right?
Peter: Primarily Trans4mind is an act of loving service, that’s the reason there’s so much free on the site. It’s partly to reflect an open view of things and non-dogmatic, and partly because I want to give people all the tools I possibly can to help them raise their consciousness in a way that they feel is appropriate for themselves. One such thing that is recently added to the site is the “Love is All You Need” program. It’s a program of exercises and meditations, and affirmations and audios, that are inspirational and lead to one’s own insights. This is something that people can start doing in their life every day.
In fact, about three months ago, a group of us that run Trans4mind sites in the different languages around the world, decided to do this “Love is All You Need” program on Skype together, twice a week for an hour. There’s something about working together in a group, there’s different energies and it’s more than the sum of it’s parts. One of the things that these exercises have in common is that they’re about opening the heart chakra, opening your whole being to love, and therefore discovering your real self. Everyone’s got so much out of it in the last few months and everything’s going right for all of us. You know, I had a bonanza week just when I needed it, and we found a new house in the country that we’re moving in to next week, and I wonder what’s next. It really does work, and other people are having similar stories.
Keith: So it’s a better version of the so-called Law of Attraction.
Peter: Yes, the Law of Attraction has been misrepresented.
Keith: I call it the Law of Gimme Gimme, because that’s how people see it. They want this and that and send up a shopping list to the cosmos and think the cosmos is going to give it to them. Why? But a better way forward is simply to love people, love life, love everything and then you’ll start finding the flow works for you.
Peter: It’s like the law of gravity, you don’t have to do anything, it just is. If your heart is open you’ll connect in a much more open way with others and synchronicities happen. In other words other people will telepathically clue into what your intentions are. But your intentions do have to be of loving service, it doesn’t work as a greed thing.
Keith: I’m going to love people because I’ll get rich doesn’t work, does it?
Peter: It doesn’t work at all. Also it’s got to come from you. You have to take responsibility, you have to do it. Because if you say it’s somebody else’s responsibility, it’s the universe is going to look after it and do it, that is separating yourself from the universe. You need to be one with the universe and you have to be as responsible as any other part of that universe. You have to start acting, being and doing all that you can – right now – if you’re going to be part of manifesting something. It’s not a sit back and wait thing, and it’s so often misrepresented that way. It’s about vibrations attracting each other thing, and when that vibration is one of loving service then what you get back is what you want to get back. It might not be material things at all, that’s not the point.
Keith: Well said, Pete. It’s all fascinating. Turning it over in the mind is a wonderful thing but of course to go out and be and do and experience it is even better. I’m sure people have got tons of good ideas from your talk today.
Peter: I’ve very much enjoyed talking to you, Keith, as I always do.