A Year with Fred
It’s been about a year since I signed up for Fred’s Continuing Student Program, following an awakening session and two clarity sessions.
Filled with quirky experiments in self-reflection, the awakening session was not what I expected (it never is, apparently). No sudden immersion into a headless way. No profound feeling of ecstasy (although there was definitely a sense of joy and release). Yet, over the days that followed, there was a subtle but profound sense of something fundamental being understood in an experiential, non-intellectual way. The clarity sessions deepened this sense of an itch which no longer needed to be scratched and of a new orientation to life.
I asked about the Continuing Student Program and an evening was spent deliberating the costs and benefits.
I remember struggling with the tension felt between the opportunities sensed beckoning and the (for me, significant) costs involved. It was a while before a decision was made to enroll.
Spirituality can cost at the moment. And that’s an issue we’ll all have to deal with as we think about how the current structures of the world correlate with spiritual opportunities to appreciate the formless. Personally, I find Fred’s wide range of free pre-recorded material incredibly helpful to this end.
At the same time those structures have made widely available teachers and guidance which would not have been possible otherwise.
Personally, I am deeply grateful that the decision played out the way it did. I am also very aware of how privileged I am, in so many respects, to have this opportunity.
For me, Fred is like a spiritual osteopath or chiropractor. One can learn better posture, the do’s and don’ts of going through this world. But there is nothing to beat having someone regularly untwist the knots that one has unwittingly acquired between times. Of course, there is something deeply paradoxical in this, in that when he is at his most helpful is when I least see the point of him!
Fred has many sides. Energy drink Fred – lively, provocative, good humored, slightly manic. De-caffeinated Fred – deeply patient, attentive, compassionate, good-humored, impossibly still (see Fred’s Heart Sutra meditation for a great example of this).
Either way, nothing throws him. I’ve had intellectual discussions, deeply personal discussions, spiritual concerns and just weird stuff coming out of my mouth which makes no obvious sense at all, and it all comes to rest in a profoundly nourishing space. The satsangs and videos are great, but Fred one to one is a unique experience.
What is the point of all this? In a sense, there really isn’t any. But as this human wanders through life, being a student of Fred has been profoundly helpful in exploring how life fits together and how it doesn’t. To take just one example, I used to think that “my” thoughts and feelings occurred inside “me,” where “me” was something other than just all of this. Now, I experience a transitioning where the old notions of inside and outside no longer make sense in the way they used to, and this is just fine. Some say the truth has nothing to do with how it makes you feel or how you impact others, but by happy coincidence, this seems to have resulted in a greater sense of serenity and more effective responses to others.
In my sessions with Fred, I’ve been encouraged to take it easy, warned about complacency, been taken out of my head, been intellectually stimulated, reminded that the body is an idea, pointed back to the physical nature of this incarnation. To every-thing, there is a season. And to no-thing also.
Fred has such great respect for both the world of the formless (the absolute) and the world of form (relativity). Deeply aware of the limits of language, Fred is always conscious of the dangers of trying to describe the truth, all the while relentlessly pointing to it.
Deeply aware of the depths of human suffering, Fred is always conscious of the dangers of belittling everyday experience, all the while looking to transcend it (see his remarks on coronavirus for an excellent example of this).
As we slowly transition from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural society with regards to spiritual teaching, it has been great to be part of the wider spiritual community associated with Fred. The wisdom and different perspectives which everybody brings to satsang and the continuing student Facebook group are always appreciated. As is the not always visible, yet ever-present, Betsy whose loving presence can often be sensed behind the scenes in everything Fred does.
Following a long period of “silo mentality” with regards to spirituality, it is great to see so many different traditions and approaches beginning to cross-pollinate effectively. I am grateful to so many people who have taught me directly or through their writings or pointed me towards other teachers. It has been wonderful to discuss these in a wholesome way with Fred. He is always interested in the manifold ways in which roads to clarity can unfold for different audiences in different contexts. Conversely, one can see Fred’s positive influence on many other teachers from different approaches.
Fred is also fascinated by emerging concepts in mathematics and philosophy outside conventional “spiritual” domains, for example the relevance of chaos theory to awakeness: https://awakeningclaritynow.com/the-nature-of-nature-the-ios-app-you-gotta-get/
It can be very tempting on this journey to try to fossilize what is seen. “Ah yes, that’s it, I’ve got it now.” A linguistic expression arises, which captures an insight in the moment. Then the expression is repeated to oneself and to others in the future as if it were the insight itself. If there is any purpose to this missive at all, which may well not be the case, it might be to invite everyone to keep coming back to the living water. Fred is never interested in the experiences he or anyone else has had in the past. He is only ever interested in whether clarity is present, right here, right now. Engaging with this on a regular basis is a wonderful antidote to fossilization.
I can only acknowledge the tsunamic contribution awakeness-through-Fred has made and continues to make to the unfolding of awakeness-through-Gavin and wish everyone everything for now, continually.