Tess Hughes Interview

“We’re overlooking things because of the sheer familiarly of them.”

Tess HughesWith a spiritual search spanning fifty years, Tess Hughes has a wealth of practical experience on the spiritual path.  Her search blossomed in its last five years when she encountered the TAT Foundation and learned of the possibility of awakening in this lifetime.  A science teacher for many years, Tess Hughes seemingly can’t get enough of teaching and currently facilitates several groups in Ireland.  To learn more about Tess Hughes, visit TessHughes.com, and buy her book This Above All.


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Selected Links and Notes from this Episode

  • It was in the last five years that Tess Hughes’ search became a conscious seeking for answers. [2:40]
  • On how becoming a “person of character” was an excellent background for launching a spiritual path. [3:14]
  • What is a person of integrity? [4:44]
  • Psychology of Man’s Possible Evolution by P.D. Ouspensky. [7:52]
  • How the Catholicism and poverty of Tess’ youth combined to give a sense of the transcendent in everyday life. [9:53]
  • Moving to the United States after her first marriage ended. [12:36]
  • Examining family of origin. [13:57]
  • The importance of psychological maturity for the spiritual path. [15:00]
  • When a therapist could be helpful. [17:35]
  • John Bradshaw’s book The Family [18:15]
  • Feeling she had wasted her life trying to become a person of integrity. [22:20]
  • After 40 years, a change in strategy towards a “reverse from untruth.” [23:30]
  • The April 2005 TAT meeting DVD. [26:55]
  • The exercise of trying to feel what the perspective of another person is, and wondering what blocks prevented Tess from having that perspective.  [27:29]
  • Tess’ struggle with maintaining a regular meditation practice and what finally worked for her: Douglas Harding‘s “meditation for the marketplace.” [29:56]
  • The Hierarchy of Heaven and Earth by Douglas Harding. [32:45]
  • The value of solitary retreats. [35:33]
  • Tess’s idea that her spiritual practice had to fit into her daily life and not disrupt anyone or anything else. [36:26]
  • Tess always knew that her core question was about death and dying. [39:54]
  • What does backing away from untruth mean in day-to-day life? [43:25]
  • The distinction between emotions and feelings. [48:13]
  • Are intuition and feeling the same thing? [50:14]
  • On not being interested in enlightenment. [56:11]
  • The value of feeling like a beginner. [57:21]
  • The process of enlightenment. [58:59]
  • The attitude of legitimate suffering. [1:03:45]
  • Giving up on the search. [1:05:46]
  • The benefits of being a trained teacher when it comes to spiritual teachings. [1:09:38]
  • The chief obstacles Tess notices in students. [1:11:36]
  • Queen I Want it All [1:13:25]
  • Working on your weak side – whether emotional or logical [1:15:00]
  • The core practices: Self-inquiry, meditation, and prayer.  [1:17:47]
  • Recommended books: The Listening Attention, Solid Ground of Being, and Beyond Relativity [1:20:58]
  • Films mentioned: John and Mary, My Dinner with Andre, The Truman Show, American Beauty [1:22:45]
  • Tess discusses her groups in Galway, Dublin and Cork City. [1:24:33]
  • If you enjoy the podcast, leave a dollar in the tip jar.  I will appreciate the thought and use the money to buy this Tascam recorder so I can do face-to-face interviews.

Anima Pundeer

“I really wonder what God feels like?” That’s the question that finally drove Anima Pundeer to awakening.

“I really wonder what God feels like?” That’s the question that finally drove Anima Pundeer to awakening.  To really wonder, and be open to whatever answer may come, rather than demanding God take a certain form or feeling — that is a startlingly rare place to find oneself.

I hope you find this interview with Anima Pundeer as simple and direct as I did.  If you are inspired to reach out to Anima (who lives in Houston, TX), contact her at apundeer at gmail dot com.  You can see Anima in the film Meetings With Remarkable Women, as well.

QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Selected Links and Notes from this Episode

  • How the contrast of moving from India to North America was an advantage in Anima’s spiritual search. [01:45]
  • Many people in India go through religious rituals, but don’t think about the meaning. [3:55]
  • The beginning of Anima’s spiritual search. [4:36]
  • Looking for relief from misery. [5:45]
  • Committing to try any practice for at least 40 days.  [8:25]
  • The realization that there would always be problems in life and a problem-free life wasn’t the ultimate goal. [13:00]
  • The lowest point in her life. [16:25]
  • Walking as a spiritual practice.  [17:35]
  • Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and A Course in Miracles. [18:34]
  • Meeting Art Ticknor. [20:22]
  • “My purpose in life is to find something permanent.” [21:35]
  • Noticing the mechanical nature of the body and mind. [24:32]
  • What is self-inquiry? [29:29]
  • The changing nature of self-inquiry over time. [39:00]
  • There is no path.  [41:17]
  • Anima’s pet peeve: “letting go.” [45:27]
  • “I really wonder what God feels like?” The question that opened the door to realization.  [48:37]
  • The fallacy of trying to recreate the circumstances of other people’s realizations.  [51:00]
  • The double-edged sword of self-inquiry.  [53:43]
  • Living in a state of awe. [1:02:22]
  • Are there important practices other than self-inquiry?  Working with a group. [1:03:25]
  • What to do when you don’t know what to do.  [1:06:20]
  • One book that made a huge difference in taking away the “doer”: Collision with the Infinite.  [1:14:36]
  • If you enjoy the podcast, leave a dollar in the tip jar.  I will appreciate the thought and use the money to buy this Tascam recorder so I can do face-to-face interviews.

Paul Constant Interview

Shake up your preconceptions about spiritual awakening and enlightenment by joining my guest, Paul Constant.

Shake up your preconceptions about spiritual awakening and enlightenment by joining my guest, Paul Constant.  Paul is a frequent presenter at TAT Foundation retreats, as well as holding events of his own on the East Coast.

I hope you find this interview of Paul Constant inspiring and informative.


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Selected Links and Notes from this Episode

  • TAT Forum articles by Paul Constant. [02:14]
  • The beginning of Paul’s spiritual search. [03:00]
  • “Waking Sleep” and Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous. [04:06]
  • The Fourth Way by P.D. Ouspensky. [04:40]
  • Think on These Things by Jiddu Krishnamurti [06:34]
  • The two camps of seekers: those drawn to the mystical and those repulsed by life. [06:50]
  • Studying psychic phenomena. [08:07]
  • Being raised a Catholic. [09:47]
  • On the value of a wholesome life. [11:00]
  • Feeling the need to meet other people involved in the spiritual life. [13:49]
  • Meeting Richard Rose. [15:50]
  • Reaching a spiritual plateau. [21:10]
  • The value and beauty of the spiritual journey. [24:30]
  • Friendship as one of the messages of the TAT Foundation. [26:01]
  • Spiritual realization happening in stages. [30:14]
  • Paul’s realization of Nothingness. [32:06]
  • The simplicity of the answer could not be accepted. [37:23]
  • Meeting a Shakti-oriented teacher awakened Paul’s “Tin-Man” heart. [38:22]
  • Paul’s last teacher, who systematically undercut every concept about enlightenment. That Grand Mal Enlightenment is another concept. [41:30]
  • Becoming Everything. [44:37]
  • Is there an end to spiritual seeking? [49:12]
  • Shifting into awareness versus observing thoughts. [55:25]
  • Life is the contact between our true nature and the relative. [1:06:00]
  • The most common blocks to achievement. [1:17:43]
  • Rapport retreats. [1:23:30]
  • “I’m not a teacher. I don’t go in with the attitude that I have something that you don’t.”[1:26:35]
  • Psychology of the Observer by Richard Rose [1:29:55]
  • It’s Time to Wake Up Now by Don Oakley [1:31:30]
  • I Am That by Nisargadatta Maharaj [1:32:20]
  • Books by the TAT Foundation [1:33:00]
  • Brain book [1:33:40]
  • The film Closer Than Close [1:34:35]
  • The dramatic change in relationship to people. [1:36:00]
  • Come to a TAT meeting. [1:38:50]
  • Paul’s website SearchWithin.org [1:39:50]
  • Remembering as a spiritual practice to counter the mind’s ability to forget. [1:41:56]

Bob Cergol Interview

Our conversation tackles Advaita misconceptions, Bob’s time with Richard Rose, his own awakening experience, and even includes Bob’s “cheat sheet” for the spiritual search.

Bob Cergol (racergol at tatfoundation.org) is a deeply profound spiritual teacher yet lesser known. His words are based in practical experience and grounded in wisdom.  I have listened to this interview several times now, and it keeps getting better. Our conversation tackles Advaita misconceptions, Bob’s time with Richard Rose, his own awakening experience, and even includes Bob’s “cheat sheet” for the spiritual search.

After our interview, Bob emailed me a couple of comments.

Regarding that question you asked about the effect of realization on my (in one’s) life – I feel I may have under-stated the impact. Yes, it does not change too much of anything to an external observer – my wife told me I seemed more distant after I told her “something” had happened – but it changes everything in one’s interior life. Not a day goes by that I am not affected in some way, or think about something in a certain way, that absent the realization would not be the same – and less somehow. So my life is enriched in a way that I can’t very well describe since it’s not enriched in conventional terms.

and

I ran across the quatrain from the Rubaiyat that I had in mind last Saturday but just couldn’t recall it.  It pretty much encapsulates my predominant mood.  I strongly picked up the same mood from Richard Rose, and it comes through in many of his poems, too:

Ah, Love! Could you and I with Fate conspire
To grasp this sorry Scheme of Things entire,
Would not we shatter it to bits-and then
Re-mold it nearer to the Heart’s Desire!

Sure, and of course – everything is perfect as it is – but I agree with Rose that “The Night is cold, and Truth is too thin a blanket.”

I hope you enjoy this interview with Bob Cergol.


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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Selected Links and Notes from this Episode

  • The transcendence of self that Bernadette Roberts writes about. [04:01]
  • Awareness does not belong to the thing that has a sense of being alive. [08:59]
  • The traumatic realization that Richard Rose wrote about in Three Books of the Absolute. [15:06]
  • You can’t get enlightened.  The personality can’t have this experience. [16:06]
  • Giving up on the spiritual path. [26:15]
  • Alfred Pulyan [50:34]
  • The mind and body are inseparable. [58:38]
  • Our whole life experience is a reflection of us. [1:26:00]
  • Beginner’s level meditation. [1:27:00]
  • The process of Going Within. [1:29:53]
  • People cannot conceive of removing themselves from the equation of the spiritual path. [1:30:30]
  • The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam [1:34:34]
  • Psychology of the Observer by Richard Rose [1:44:20]
  • The dangers of reading Nisargadatta Maharaj’s I Am That [1:45:15]
  • Bob Cergol’s cheat sheet for the spiritual path [1:48:50]