Tim Frekes' Glorious Path to the Both/And!
In this excerpt from Tim Freke, who I'm ever-grateful for because of how he’s helped me evolve beyond radical self-negation and a non-relational and humanity-trivializing either/or non-dual worldview into a profoundly humanistic, both/and view (and experience) in which we don't disappear into oneness, and every individual person is a precious and really real evolving expressions of the entire universe, of the ground of Beings' becoming, whereby we get to be in relationship with what & who we're one with, which is an experience of being what Tim calls, unividuals. I hope others will be inspired to make a similar journey!
"I started off with a spontaneous awakening when I was 12, in the West Country of England, while sitting on this hill, and my sense of it is now is that I was always profoundly struck with how mysterious life is - I still am every day, just this profound sense of how enormous and breathtaking the mystery of existence is - I grew up feeling very confused at all the grown-ups seemingly pretending that they knew what was going on when clearly they didn't, and why no one ever mentioned it - you went to school and no one ever went, "yeah the universe, what the hell!?" And I think that was the thing which probably spurred what I now think of as the moment I tasted what I call being deep awake, which is a name I've ended up with because it feels like being awake but deeper.
I remember it vividly, this profound sense of oneness or communion - one and many at the same time, a deep connectivity between everything, and this profoundly wonderful love, the whole universe just pulsating with love, which hit me very strongly as a little boy and which still does, and then this sense which I now think of as a gnosis, of deep knowing that there's a fundamental goodness to existence that despite everything, despite all of the suffering of which there is so much, that underneath that there is something fundamentally good about this.
Then I did everything I could do to play with consciousness, studied and heard teachers and gurus and took everything I could find to explore consciousness, and what I found was it kept happening and I could go deeper and deeper and deeper into it but like everyone, I was very influenced by what was around me, and a lot of it was the influx of Indian spirituality in quite an uncritical way, so I just took all of that on to some degree, even though it didn't totally suit me, so as I got older I began to question that and began to think "Well hang on, I've rejected Western religion because it didn't seem up to the job but I've kind of taken on a lot of Eastern religion without giving it the same critical thought as if it's absolute, as if it's just the way it is," and over the last period of my life, it’s felt like no, what's happening is I'm evolving, because the whole universe is evolving, and part of that evolution is to frame these awakening experiences in a new way.
So I started writing books, starting by studying all the different spiritual traditions of the world, very much from a perennial philosophy perspective that seems to be saying there are human beings like me who one day went “Poof!” and “Oh yeah, it's all one!" and then said it in their own vocabulary, so it came out with a certain flavor and tradition and they had a philosophy of their time. And this last phase for me has been an interest in understanding my own experience of life in the hope that maybe other people are having a similar experience and that what I can maybe do as a philosopher, if I can understand it and share it, is help other people to understand their experience.
And so this last period has been "How can we understand this awakening now in the 21st century?" Feeling that a lot of the stuff that happened in the past was great then, but we need to be able to revise it, and for me that's in two main phases - the first was what I see as a huge amount of deep spirituality being inherently life-denying, rejecting, and I think it's a natural thing, like what I said when I first woke up was "Yes, oh my god, why can't it just be like this always? Why do I have to go?" And then someone came along and said “Well the problem is you!,” “You're the problem,” it's your ego, or it's your personality, it's just your separate existence, that you believe in a "Tim," that I’m emotionally attached to things, that I wanted to do things with my life, that I had aspirations, that I kept thinking all the time and I wasn't just completely empty or silent, so maybe a human being was the problem, and if I could just stare at a white wall long enough, then I would turn into this imaginary figure that I thought these other people were - I've met them now and I know they're not like that, but from a distance that's what it looked like, and so I wanted a spirituality which was genuine to my experience and my experience has not been that. It's been much more interesting than that.
What I've discovered, which has really intrigued me, is that I seem to be two things at once, that there's this profound depth to my being which is formless and one with everything and I'm Tim on a journey, and I hope to be more conscious tomorrow than I was today. It's been a journey of I want to say humility, but probably humiliation is probably closer! It's a constant discovery of how wrong I've been because that's the only way I evolve, and so there's Tim who's constantly evolving and I see no sign of that possibly ending and then this thing which doesn't move and change and they both co-exist, so I've developed what I call a paralogical philosophy of spirituality, paralogical because it's both/and, a paradox rather than one or the other and what I see from so much spirituality is it's based on one or the other and generally it's like "get rid of that, and then you can have this," where my experience is that they both exist together, and the more I can just be with Tim and let him be okay, the more this just opens up, there's just an evolving Tim, and the love comes with them both together.
So a lot of my time over the last few decades has been speaking out against more extreme forms of spirituality, especially with the advent of massive popularity of non-duality over the last period which has been like "This reality is the illusion" and it's felt like for me all of this is not just an illusion, this is all really important, and it's through this, through this process of evolving form that we are conscious of anything at all, and that we can be conscious that the One is becoming conscious of itself through being many, so this journey we're on, rather than being an illusion which needs to dissipate, is actually the foundation through which this deeper awakening is coming into existence, and that led me into really appreciating this evolutionary current, this amazing idea that we now have from science, although it's an ancient idea, the whole universe is evolving, everything is evolving, there's a lovely line from a scientist and philosopher I admire greatly, Bryan Swim, where he says something like "If you take hydrogen and leave it long enough it learns to sing opera," and I love that because you just get the scale of the vision that we're talking about, so in the first stage it was like "oh my god it's all one" and then it became really wanting to engage with humanity.
I want to speak up for this, I want to see the ego as the hero of the journey, not the villain. I want to encourage people to feel empowered as individuals, not disempower them, and the more empowered and the more we become ourselves, the more we will wake up because the thing you notice straight away is that people who get attracted to this stuff, they've individuated away from the herd, they've become more themselves, the individuality hasn't diminished, its increased and the more we can do that and when we think for ourselves and don't just believe what other people say, when we question, the more conscious we become.
So I want to speak up for that, and I've created a whole philosophy called emergent spirituality which has been my contribution towards how we can bring together science and spirituality into one story, one story of evolution, so that we can see that they are part of one human endeavor, so we can bring these two strands into one and so that we can say to spirituality that this human journey we're on, which is not just a human journey but the whole cosmic journey, really matters, that's my deepest intuition. Not just in the grand sense which is amazing, but in the particular sense that your individual journey matters, in the tiniest little things, like your relationships with your family and your struggles, those things really really really matter and this awakening is not from those, and we don't need to just dismantle the egoic self, we need to make it healthy, and encourage it actually, because most people hate themselves and that's part of the problem, and then from a healthy ego this deeper depth can further open up…"
Transcribed from video https://bit.ly/2XC4dOx