Loch speaks with Founder of Sounds True in this interview about his new book and direct form of insight meditation.
Tami Simon: Loch, your new book Shift Into Freedom is packed with “techniques” for spiritual awakening. One might even say that your book is an awakening curriculum. I’m curious, do you really think that spiritual awakening can be taught through a type of curriculum, if you will?
Loch Kelly: Well, I prefer the word “pointers,” rather than “techniques.” The word “technique” implies that we need to do something to achieve an awakened state. The pointers and “glimpses” that I offer, are ways of untying knots or de-hypnotizing ourselves from the techniques that we do consciously and unconsciously every day that create our mistaken identity and suffering. In some ways the pointers I offer in the book and audio program are a form of direct insight meditation that can actually help relieve us from the burden of techniques.
So, awakening is more like returning to our natural condition—which is already here for each of us. It is an undoing of techniques and a returning home, and a way of discovering and uncovering a natural condition. When this natural condition becomes revealed, we then learn that it can maintain itself in a very wonderful way. However, the initial first step requires glimpsing the natural condition, which involves a willingness to unlearn.
TS: OK, I can go with that! “An unlearning curriculum of pointers.” What would you say is the core thing that needs to be unlearned?
LK: I would say that the core thing to unlearn is the mistaken identity of a separate sense of self. Most beings identify with a looping pattern of self-referencing thought. According to developmental psychology, this habit starts early in childhood when a child realizes that thinking can become aware of thinking. Developmental psychologists call this the function of “self-awareness.”
What seems to happen is that this self-awareness process creates a secondary sense of self which co-opts the entire programs of the body and personality. Unfortunately, this sense of self which is constructed by thoughts, makes someone feel separate from their surroundings. And since someone feels separate, they are always unconsciously trying different techniques to make themselves feel safe and at ease. They become identified with the habit of incessantly trying to protect and nourish themselves.
Thus, the pointers that I offer invite us to drop or “unhook” from this separate self of self. When we successfully do this, we find that we are able to able feel safe, connected and at ease in nearly any circumstance.
TS: OK. What you’re saying is that this looping pattern had a function early in our life, but that it no longer has a function once we enter adulthood?
LK: Yes. Instead of saying that our habit of ego-identification is evil or bad, I find it helpful to recognize that our ego patterns have played an important role in our human developmental process. We’ve become expert problem solvers! We’re great at finding the nourishment of food, shelter, and relationship. However, most of us are unable to see that these functional abilities do not define our existence. When we awaken, we find that one of the key things that defines our existence is the fact that we’re not separate from anything.
To do this, we must not only awaken out of our thought-based way of knowing who we are, but also awaken into an awareness-based way of knowing who we are. It’s an initial unlearning, and then a retraining in this new awareness-based mode of being.
This is an transcript excerpt with minor edits from an interview with Loch conducted by Tami Simon, the founder of Sounds True Publishing. To listen to the entire interview, or read the full transcript, click HERE.