Donna Quesada: Well, Richard. It’s so nice to finally have this time with you.
I want to share with you that I have been watching your videos in preparation for our time together. Your approach is so heart centered. That’s so needed in our world today. And our founder, David, shared with me that he went to one of your retreats many, many years ago, so I know that you’ve been doing this for a long time. And your energy is so relaxed, yet so fresh. You are so present. And especially today… we are going through so many challenges, environmentally, and to sort of date us a little for any that might be watching now or in the future… now, with the health scare that we are in the middle of, we need that power of presence. I want to thank you for that… that energy that you bring to the world. And thank you for spending this time with us.
Richard Moss MD: My honor. This path chose me and I chose it 45 years ago. I could have never imagined a life so rich in relationships and the limitless capacity that every human being has, if they know something of their deeper being. If someone’s helped them and pushed them into that direction, you can evolve yourself. Evolve every quality of what you think your life is about and discover life to be. That is truly miraculous, so at a time like this, when we are faced with a pandemic, which makes every one of us ask even the simplest questions… Do I visit an elder, but risk exposing them? What happens to family gatherings? Should I go here or there? And then the whole financial layers that are going on…
The point is that every kind of internal struggle we are having now… questioning… Is happening all over the world. We are all asking the same questions… even the same concerns. I think certainly, for those of us that are more informed… I have a background in medicine, so, I can ground myself in a knowledge base that most don’t have. And for that reason, I’m really not worried about this… and there will be suffering… but I worried when Ebola was spreading… I worried when MERS and SARS were spreading… they were really deadly illnesses. And this one is not that serious, but it is showing us that our socio-economic structure… the financial structure that this world is built on does not have deep resiliency. And we need to begin to realize that we are global citizens… Earthlings, unbrokenly connected, and that the greatest privilege we have is to understand nature enough to love the miracle of nature and to become obedient to her. We can use our brilliant minds in science and technology… I have two dogs here, too. I didn’t take their collars off. They are our friends.
DONNA: I never really had them in an interview, but they got excited when I came in here. You mentioned all of those other pandemics. Yet, this time it seems to be more fraught with panic. So, I want to bring it back to this question of awakening. You might know, we have a little tradition that we start with… what your idea of awakening is like and what it means to awaken. But given this crisis we are faced with, and it seems to be worse than ever… how do we bring that quality of awakening to this, and how does it help us in the midst of all of this?
RICHARD: That’s an important place to start. I think of a sacred braid that has three strands, one of which is awakening. I’ll tell you what I think that is, in its simplest sense, in a moment. The other is growing up… maturing. And the third is, in a sense, leaning up… living by a deep moral code. Because of the awakening process… the awakening process is the assemblage point for identity… from me as an ego, as a separate self. Awareness of awareness. Now you are awake to realize that you have a relationship to your thinking, to your beliefs. I am not embedded in identity because of those things.
And so, I can choose a relationship with judgments, with thoughts, with anything that closes my heart. Awakening is in service to… in my understanding, love. Because you could say it’s in service to God. But God is such an abstraction. God is the thought we had to create, to make every other kind of thought relevant. There had to be some thought that we couldn’t reach, and we called it God. There had to be some idea of what holds us, that is transcendent… a form or category. But, God is a tricky word. I prefer to say, the closer you get to yourself… the closer you get to God… to everyone else… the more and more you see that this is all coherence of love. Creation itself is an act of love.
Why we are here is to actualize as deeply as we can. Built around the love of love itself, as opposed to the transaction “I Love You.” And of course, the early experience of love with the feelings of attraction: Falling in love. Continuing to evolve relationships, as expressions of our love of love with each other. So, awakening is necessary because you cannot do that unless you have a relationship with your own internal confusion, clutter, chaos, inner conflict… Take responsibility and examine the relationship to what closes your heart… what contracts it.
But awakening by itself is not sufficient because lots of people wake up and get inflated. They are now charismatic and transferring a certain kind of energy… touched… whatever you want to call it.. non-duality… They get very serious around that and at the same time, they do not actually have day by day relationships at home with their students, with their spouses, that are of equal sacredness and of equal significance. Equal to whatever state of awakening has been realized.
We need this growing up, maturing, which shows up in every aspect of our relationships. Side by side with the awareness of yourself. And then, that too needs to be an expression of deep love. Moral and ethical commitments… and happiness… that binds us to a path. And we cannot be shaken from that path. And we will lay down our lives, rather than be shaken by it. And that is a lifetime. Beginning-less. Endless journey. But, on any given day, you can be shaken by challenges… your unconscious assumption of the future. We live as if tomorrow will be like today… and next month will be some sort of version of today. But this epidemic of coronavirus is showing us that tomorrow isn’t going to be exactly like you thought.
And it happens when the pathology report shows cancer. I just went through a process where I damaged my shoulder. Had an MRI. But on the edge of the MRI, they saw a tumor. Just at the edge of it. There I am with an orthopedic surgeon to find out if my shoulder can be repaired and I’m told I need a cat-scan for a tumor in my chest. I had a ripple of fear and I walked out of the hospital for a moment… walked to my car and sat down for a moment, centered… I never ever shook again… any type of worry. But I did work with my doctors.
I did have the cat-scan. I did have a biopsy. And by an hour or two later, by sheer fortune before I left for my cabin in the winter… and it was a love fest… with the radiologist that did the biopsy… with his assistant… they got so curious about me. I played the doctor card. I said I was a retired doctor. I didn’t tell them how long I was a doctor. They went to Google… Googled my name and went “Boy, you are an interesting guy.” And then, the nurse… This young woman hung out with me until my wife picked me up. She did not have to stay out in the lobby of the hotel. Hospital! Almost called it a hotel… Interesting! I walked into the place. They said “why are you here?” “To find out if I have cancer.”
RICHARD: That’s what I mean. You don’t know what tomorrow is going to be.
DONNA: None of us do.
RICHARD: Your dearest friend could die. So, the resiliency of every human being depends on how deep your roots have grown into that ground. Which is awareness. Which is the heart consciousness that’s always built. It comes alive and deepens. We are being present. And we are aware that the mind is necessary for organizing for the future. But the past is a part of what gives us a sense of meaning. It shouldn’t be self-defining. Not defined by your family of origin dynamics. You need that awakening. Awareness of awareness. You should be able to journey with the wounds. Hold the difficult feelings. Try to get more and more spacious, breath by breath with all the fears. Until you are rooted in the present moment. Rooting in the groundless ground of consciousness. This is a life path. That’s what gives peace. That’s what gives you the ability to have your future stolen from you. From one minute to the next. Yes, it’s stolen, but it’s not stopping my heart’s capacity to be in wonderment… to express love to someone… to feel their presence and be open to it.
DONNA: I’m sorry… Can I just jump in? What you have given us is so richly layered. I love what you said about awakening not being enough. And just to make sure that I’ve understood correctly: It starts with moving past the self. I’m from a Zen background. This is familiar terrain for me. We call it ignorance. We are kind of steeped in a sense of separateness… What you are saying, if I am understanding you correctly, is that awakening is when we move past that. So, that’s familiar, but I love when you say that is not enough to be in relationship. And you talk so much about the power of relationship. Not only with our own thoughts, but with others.
RICHARD: With our own thoughts… with our own feelings. That’s what we have 100% responsibility for. What others do, we have no power over. How we react to them, that’s ours… we have complete power. So, the awakening process allows you to have a relationship to fear… to loneliness… to betrayal… to illness… to grief. That doesn’t mean those things are easy. They are the place where you are evolving. So, you’ve awakened. You have experienced the non-dual reality. I’ve had as deep an awakening as I’ve ever read about anybody, when I was 30 years old, and it changed my life utterly, but it changes my ego.
DONNA: Will you share that experience with us Richard? What brought you away from an active medical practice? It’ must have been an experience that shook you to the core and I’m wondering if you might share some of that with us.
RICHARD: These experiences are impossible to explain. No one comes back from those places and truly knows how to describe it. What has changed is the relationship to yourself and everything else. And that means that for me… before I was having a great deal of existential fear. I didn’t really understand why. I had already been on the path of consciousness. I had already meditated. When this started as an explosion of energy, I had not much experience with kundalini, but I didn’t experience it that way.
Medically, I had to say to myself, “this isn’t some kind of seizure… it’s not some kind of psychosis… this is not an adrenaline secreting tumor… this is something else.” So, I was in terror, but all around me was like, pixelating. I was looking at things… through things… Nothing was formed anymore. And it was an extremely disturbing place. Terrifying. Ego-Self.
And at the same time, in somewhat relationship to that, I began the process. First, I asked the question, “who has been here before?” And the answer came back. And I was not a religious person. I was a non-religious Jew. But, the answer came back. Jesus. At least the christ consciousness, whatever that means. And so, I just intuitively understood… Oh, that’s the consciousness that I now need to rest into, as a process.
And then I began a simple process of self-observation. But it was… when I say “simple”… so overwhelmed with energy… This process was 20 hours a day. And I would just simply say that “my mind is in the future,” which is based on what I’ve lived, and it’s telling me what’s happening will never be the same. Now, I’m remembering how I was. Now, I’m judging what was happening. Now, I’m making every kind of story up out of fear and terror and unfamiliar energy. And then, after several days of that, I was in the back yard of a friend who serendipitously showed up and took me to her house. She was a Jungian analyst, and instinctually knew this was a spiritual awakening of some kind. And so, she just gave me a safe place and I journeyed. I was sitting in her back yard and there were two butterflies. One was light. One was dark. They danced in the air. Mating dance. Landed. Mated. And then they danced a bit. Broke apart and one landed on my forehead between my eyes. And when it did that… everything just changed
DONNA: Wow. And was there a relaxation about it all?
RICHARD: It’s beyond words. The absolute oneness of inner, outer, above and below. It was all love. And it was all stillness. So, that was the first moment I found awakening or waking up. And it repeated itself again and again and again. Between the ego kept asserting itself… and our egos can’t conduct this energy. The assemblage of me that a baby doesn’t have. It’s 8,9,10 years before it’s consolidated. And then, the functioning of a separate self from me and 7.7 billion people. I’m living from now. At that point. That’s the pandemic. That consciousness, when it finally became homo-sapiens and consolidated into the species that we are. That’s the pandemic the world has not recovered from which is threatening to destroy us. Because we are operating as if we are separate. And because we develop and we have to reach that. But, awakening is when you gain access to a new consciousness that allows you to digest all forms of separate self-identity.
DONNA: Now, you were also talking about the need to bring about a kind of maturity to this awakening experience. You speak about that and is that why there is so much fear this time around? For example, from the other pandemics that we have seen?
RICHARD: The other pandemics were contained there in China. There in Africa. They were not highly contagious. They were able to be controlled. Ebola was very scary but it wasn’t spread through the air. You had to get blood on you. You had to get body matter on you. They are still terrifying illnesses. Suffering is unbelievable. This one shows us that we are all interconnected. Two friends of mine, 77 and 73 years old… we skyped just today because I got an email today saying “we have corona virus.” They simply went to an evening party with eight people and two of the people had come back from some time in Northern Italy. The guy was a retired doctor but he didn’t realize that his wife’s flu symptoms… And so, she came to the party and lo and behold she found out a few days later that she had corona virus. So, she exposed every single person there, simply because she showed up unwell. Her husband should have recognized it. That’s what I mean by maturity.
The waking up is not enough because the awareness of awareness is not enough until service is consecrated to something. And that something for me… even before I awakened… I knew it was not fear. I know that fear was a great God. It was the teacher of survival. No one will ever defeat fear. There will be place or a circumstance when you will vibrate with fear. But it does not have to be your God, which means you do not have to build your life for safety. Do not build your life for security. There is a great God. Just like there are infinities greater than other infinities. Fear is an infinity, but love is a bigger infinity. And one is the infinity in which you can start to have a relationship with fear, learn to relax through fear, keep you heart open when there is fear… fear of heights, fear of crowds, fear of abandonment, fear of betrayal… is a sensation that we can, once we are awake, journey with, and explore with, until fear becomes the ally of love. Because what’s the point of saying “I love you, darling” and then three or eight years later, “I hate you, darling” because you made me feel unsafe or scared me?
In other words, the relationship started with love, but it wasn’t consciously created. It was falling in love—the deliciousness of that. Now, you have to decide, how deep into love will you go? How deep into intimacy you will go? And that, in any relationship, will bring you to rules and hurts and you have to be able to journey with that. Some foundation in Zen… some form of awakened practice. You won’t know how to journey with it. I love love more. I want love to teach me a relationship with fear. Fear turns out to be love’s ally. And it becomes meaningful if you are ill with this illness and you are hoarding stuff from the grocery store out of fear. And you are not thinking… Am I buying so much that others can’t have some too? You are not thinking that way. You are just in Me consciousness. Separateness consciousness.
A pandemic that has been desolating this planet for 100,000 years… killed off all the big mammals. No species has ever inflicted more self-harm and killed more human beings than us. And now the environment is saying to you: “You are beings. You are global citizens. Bounties are unreal and manmade. And you need to start knowing that or it will not sustain you!”
And when we get crazy people that think we are going to inhabit the solar system… We are questers. So, we develop engineering. Maybe we will go to Mars, but we will never turn Mars into the Earth. We will go into space and find planets one millionth as rich as this planet. It’s a form of insanity. It’s a left brain escape from what we really have to do here, which is to love each other and wake up enough to digest what causes our hearts to take 1000% responsibility… and live into love deeper and deeper and when you reach the wounds and the places where you defend yourself, say “Hallelujah! This is my evolutionary edge!”
That’s the growing up. That’s the maturity. It’s the remedy for “I went shopping and I bought just enough for me, or two or three, and not enough for me to survive alone.” And that selfish self-involvement… self-interest… is so exaggerated when we are afraid. That is the real pandemic. And the other thing that we can’t measure is how much goodness there is. There is so much innate goodness in us that we cannot see… that the media does not know how to express because fear is more immediate. Love is a much deeper immediacy.
DONNA: Fear is habitual?
RICHARD: There are a lot of wonderful human beings that have never awakened… ethical and good.
Continued in Part 2…