An Evening in Oxford with Rupert Spira

“Cease being exclusively fascinated by whatever you are aware of and be interested instead in the experience of being aware itself.”

Rupert Spira, Being Aware of Being Aware

Yesterday evening I attended a talk given by the spiritual teacher Rupert Spira. The event took place at the Quaker Meeting House in Oxford. I arrived a few minutes before the event was scheduled to start, entering the venue at the same time as Rupert himself. I overheard him say that he had come on his bicycle as he lived just up the road.

Whilst I have been vaguely aware of the work of Rupert Spira for a number of years, I recently revisited his teachings on the back of my interest in The Sedona Method. I listened to a discussion between Rupert and Hale Dwoskin (founder and director of Sedona Training Associates) and then listened to Rupert on a 12 Step Recovery podcast. Previously I had found Rupert’s presentation too dry and theoretical for my tastes, preferring the more accessible style of teachers such as Anthony de Mello and Eckhart Tolle. (In spite of his popularity, I have never really connected with the work of Alan Watts either: Too much ‘head talk’ for my liking.)

The talk was sold out and the room was almost full when I entered. I took a space at the back of the room, wondering if that was part of my desire for separation, or simply affording myself the space to stretch and fidget away from the guru’s gaze. I then immediately started judging my fellow audience, wondering if I was the only person in attendance who had never been on a skiing trip. Fortunately I was able to succeed in banishing such petty, ego based thoughts, in keeping with the spirit of the event.

At 19:00 Rupert took his seat at the front of the room, and the audience chatter died down. Rupert welcomed the audience back to the Quaker Meeting House as it was the first meeting to be held there post-Covid. Rupert then closed his eyes and the audience did the same. We were led on a guided meditation that lasted for approximately forty-five minutes. My meditation game is weak, and after fifteen minutes my mind began to wander. The meditation was powerful though. Rupert asked us to imagine that we were new-born babies, devoid of thought or conscious feeling. After weaving this narrative, we were asked to fast forward to the last minutes of our life, and consider whether or not there was any difference between the two states of beingness.

There was then a question and answer session. A few people shared their personal struggles, hoping that a word from the guru might ease their suffering. A woman who had been diagnosed with a brain tutor shared how whilst she was at peace with her medical condition, she still struggled with everyday. She wanted to understand why this was. Another woman whose husband had recently passed away, wanted to know if it was possible that her husband was still guiding her. She stated: ‘In a way I fell far more influenced by my husband now than I ever was whilst he was alive’. Rupert replied with a kind smile: ‘I’m sure your husband would be delighted to hear that’. A young man who had taken a long leave of absence from work shared about his anxiety about returning to the office. Some of the other questions were poorly formulated, their meandering nature suggesting the inquirer wished to signal their own level of learning to the crowd of seekers.
I also had the privilege of asking Rupert a question. Bearing in mind the Lester Levenson maxim that misery is complexity and happiness is simplicity, mine was a simple enquiry: ‘Is it worth paying attention to specific emotions such as anger, fear, joy etc?’ The reason I asked the question was because I have spent the last few weeks practicing the Sedona Method and releasing the nine emotional states of apathy, grief, fear, lust, anger, pride, courageousness, acceptance, and peace. Rupert had made the point that our emotions, the content of our lives, are just images on the screen of beingness. I therefore was wondering if because any emotion was potentially a distraction from our eternal nature, it was therefore unnecessary to examine the AGFLAPCAP emotional spectrum. Rupert emphatically replied: ‘Yes. There is value in paying attention to what specific emotional states have to teach you. But it is important to distinguish whether or not the emotion has arisen on behalf of your false self, or for a valid reason’. He then expanded on valid reasons for the presence of anger, fear, and joy. 

I had one particular lightbulb moment as it relates to addiction recovery. Rupert mentioned that progress is made when we realise that the substance, object, behaviour etc is no longer working for us, will no longer do for us what we wish it to do. I then realised that whilst a key component of AA’s first step is to realise that alcohol is no longer working, what follows is the long, slow realisation that no ‘thing’ will ever really work for us.

Another moment of clarity came when a woman in the audience quoted Carl Jung as having said: ‘God is everything you come across’. That phrase hit me hard. ‘God is everything you come across’. I have searched for that exact quote but have only found: 

“To this day God is the name by which I designate all things which cross my willful path violently and recklessly, all things which upset my subjective views, plans and intentions and change the course of my life for better or worse.”

Rupert Spira’s website is here.

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