A direct, non-woo discussion between two doctors about waking up from the dream that we are separate and destined to suffer.
[Zubin] Hey, everyone, Dr. Z. So if you’ve been on this ride with me for any period of time, you know we talk about all kinds of things, the Alt-Middle, Health 3.0, transforming healthcare, fighting misinformation, all kinds of stuff. This series that we’re about to do here called “Awakening, Explained” is different, and it’s not, and I never do this. I never do an intro to an interview, or a series, but I think I really need to do it for this one, because first of all, it’s a trigger warning.
If you’re not interested in personal introspection and transformation, looking at what is the deepest living truth in this moment for you in the hopes of ending suffering for yourself in those around you, and just being more connected with what is true, if that’s not something that even vaguely interests you, then you should just skip this whole series. You can make fun of me.
You can be like, “Oh my God, he’s gone full Z-Pac Chopra. “Like, what’s wrong with him? “He’s all woo!” And then for people who continue to watch, you’ll find out this, there is nothing woo about awakening. It’s nothing less than finding out what your real identity is, and dispelling the illusion that you’re separate from everything else. By dispelling that illusion, your entire worldview is transformed, as is your life, as is the lives around you. Now, we talk about transforming healthcare, building Health 3.0.
How can we do that if we don’t first relieve our own suffering? Now, I know this from personal experience, because in 2012, I was wrapping up about 10 years as a hospitalist at Stanford, and I was never so unhappy. Miserable, suffering, never felt good enough, always felt like an imposter, always wanted more. But when I got what I wanted, there was just still more to want.
I felt like it was a tiny little me against this vast, impersonal, and hostile world. And then I quit everything, and my family and I moved to Las Vegas, and someone introduced me to this wacky, New Age-y book called “The Power of Now” by Eckhart Tolle, and I listened to it on audiobook, and I have never been the same. It launched me down a path of self-discovery, meditation, introspection, meeting others who are interested in the same thing, and it was amazing. I improved my mind. I was able to watch my mind.
I was able to see my unconscious stuff happening, and instead of knee-jerk responding, I was response-able. I could actually take a space, and make a wiser, more compassionate decision. But I didn’t really know that that was only the tip of the iceberg of what was on offer on this path. And that’s when Dr. Angelo Dilullo reached out to me a few months ago, and he said, “Hey, I’m an anesthesiologist in Colorado. “I love your Doc Vader stuff. “It’s really funny, man. “Anyways, I wrote this book on awakening. “I watched a couple of your videos. “It seemed like you’re interested in meditation, and stuff. “There was a vibe there. “Here’s the introduction, check it out, “and see what you think.”
I read the introduction. I asked for the whole book before it was released. I read the whole book, and I can’t describe to you how simple and direct and powerful a guide it is to awakening. I don’t care if you are religious. It doesn’t matter what your belief is. It doesn’t matter if you’re an atheist, if you’re a scientist. This book strips away all the mumbo-jumbo, and just says, “Hey, here’s what this is. “Here’s how you do it. “Here’s why it’s possible for you. “Here’s why it’s important.” I’ve never encountered anything like it.
And then having met Angelo, he is absolutely the real deal. And so, my own life is continuing to unfold in a way that I never would have guessed, and it’s a kind of grace. And so, this show, this current show is our first interview, where Angelo and I talk about awakening, and what it is, and just get started. There’s another eight hours of interviews that we did that are gonna be part of this series I’m calling “Awakening, Explained.” For those of you who are intrigued by this, who have even the slightest interest in this, who are curious what happens when your future and your past disappear, and all there is is the living authentic moment, how does that change your life?
How does it reconnect you with everything that is? How will it help us to all collectively start to wake up and transform our systems, which are the result of us being asleep? They’re an epiphenomenon of us being asleep. It’s nothing less than that. Now, I may sound crazy, but this is the most sane thing you’ll watch. And if you trust me at all, and you care about this at all, watch it.
If you don’t, or if you don’t, please don’t, because this is powerful stuff. It can trigger shifts in your perception, and if you’re not interested in it, it can actually be destabilizing. So that’s the disclaimer. And with that, I wanna say this. For those of you who are on this ride with me, reach me through my website. There’s a contact form, and share these videos, because having gone through all the interviews, it’s, just trust me, and watch.
– [Zubin] Z-Pac, what’s up? It’s Dr. Z. Today I’m doing something that I just have been wanting to do forever. I have a guest on the show, he’s an anesthesiologist. His name is Dr. Angelo DiLullo and he wrote a book called, “Awake: It’s Your Turn” about awakening. And I’m not talking about the awakening of anesthesia, right? I mean, although you wonder.
– [Angelo] Right.
– [Zubin] I do wonder. He’s talking about spiritual awakening, like realizing what your real identity is. And actually, let me just toss it over to you, brother. You sent me this book and you were like, “Hey, I saw a couple of things he did on consciousness. I really liked Doc Vader anyways. Here’s an intro chapter to this book I’m writing. Tell me if it resonates. If it does, I’ll send you the rest. And I was like, “Wow, no one ever asks permission to send the book.” They always just send me their terrible book and then I’m forced to donate it to Goodwill. But this thing, the minute I read the introduction, I was like, “Wait, what?” Like, “Oh my gosh.” Within that first chapter, I was hooked. I was like, “This is what I want is understanding my mind and the end of suffering.” And here’s a book that you’ve written about it by a fellow MD. So just let’s go back, man. How did you even…
– [Angelo] Well, so I got to the point in writing this book where I had to submit it to a , where I submit it to a publisher.
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] And there’s a format for doing that, right? Here’s your manuscript, and this is what we want when you submit it. And it’s in a certain form and so forth. So one of the questions is, “Who’s gonna endorse this book?” I’m like, “Well, shit, I don’t have any. I don’t know who’s gonna endorse it.” And so I kind of looked online and tried to find what literary agents would say to do. And I found a literary agent who said, “When you go to request endorsements, just make a huge list of people.” And one half of the list is people that you think would never, ever endorse this book but you would love it if they did. And then the other half of the list is just like your friends, and your uncle who will definitely endorse it and probably won’t even read it, but whatever. So I did that and I started with this list. They said, “Put Oprah Winfrey at the top of the list.” The person you want to endorse your book, even though she’ll never see it. And so I was like, “All right, well, who would want to endorse a book like this?” Or who could, even though I know they won’t. So I’m like, Eckhart Tolle.
– [Zubin] Nice.
– [Angelo] I’ll send an email to him, like he’s really gonna answer, right? Adyashanti, or whatever.
– [Zubin] These big spiritual guys, yeah.
– [Angelo] Yeah, but actually I was just a few down that list and all of a sudden I thought back and I was like, “You know, this Doc Vader guy.” I know you from your Doc Vader videos mostly, ’cause they just crack me up and I post them on Facebook and I always show them to people and so forth. But, I saw you do a show where you mentioned meditation and you said something about, that you got interested in meditation and something about the way you said it suggested to me that you had like a bit of a deeper interest, like taking it beyond that maybe. And that just was in the back of my mind. And then I happened to watch one of your shows where you’re talking about consciousness, talking about, you’ll have to remind me who the guest was, but-
– [Zubin] Yeah, Donald Hoffman.
– [Angelo] Totally, so… And I thought, “Huh, maybe this guy will actually want to read this book.” I don’t know if you’re interested or not, so I sent it to you. And I just said, “Hey, I heard you talk about meditation. I like your videos. This is the first chapter of my book. If you have any interest, let me know and I can send you the rest.” And so, that’s basically how it happened.
– [Zubin] And so I got to say this, the universe works in the strangest possible ways. So when I read your introduction, I was like, “Oh no, please send me the rest of book stat.” I think I might’ve told you that. And I was like, “Who is this anesthesiologist from Colorado who’s written a book like this?” And you sent it to me. I read the entire thing, and it was the single most direct experience I’ve ever had of what awakening might be, why you’d want to do it, what are the pitfalls, what are the stages? How do you think about thoughts, and emotions, and mind identification, and ego and all these esoteric things that are normally treated as esoterica and spiritual traditions? And remember we’re scientists, right? It’s like, “I don’t want to hear about mumbo-jumbo and Yoda and all this.” I just want-
– [Angelo] Yoda.
– [Zubin] There is no try, hmm, only do or do not. I’m like, “No, no, no.” How do I wake up, and what is waking up, and why would I? I’ve always known there’s something wrong with the world. It doesn’t feel right. I feel like I’m living in an illusion and this always compelled me. And then I read your book and I’m like, “Oh!” It transformed how I’ve thought or looked at my own mind, and I was so excited that I was like, “Please, Angelo, come on the show. Drop whatever you’re doing, and just stop intubating people. Stop giving people Propofol, and come here and let’s talk about it.” And it was selfish because I wanted to learn from you.
– [Angelo] Yeah, I loved your enthusiasm. I mean, right away. So to give a little bit of background, I do talk to people about this topic, about awakening, and people who are going through it themselves. So, we’ll obviously touch on that, go into what that means and so forth. But for a handful of years, I’ve just interacted with people who are going through this process. And one of the things I look for is their buy-in, their enthusiasm, and you had total enthusiasm about it. You were just like, “Yes, this is the most interesting thing to me.” That kind of instinctual level interest, to me, is what’s really important when it comes to the subject. So this subject, this thing we’re gonna talk about which is actually not a subject, it’s a movement, it’s a possibility for anyone. So this thing that we’re gonna talk about, has something about it where usually people know pretty quickly whether they’re interested, or not. And that’s instinct, and I trust people’s instinct. And I really, about this subject, try to encourage them to learn to trust their own instinct and really dial into it. So this topic, I just know from talking about it from the interactions I’ve had with people, there can be really various reactions. Like, “I really like this subject,” to, “I really don’t like this subject.” It can be triggering. For some people it’s like, “That is the coolest thing I’ve ever heard. Whatever it takes, I want to investigate it. I want to dig in.” And then in the middle, kind of lukewarm, like, “Hm, it’s interesting. I kind of resonate with it, but I don’t know if I fully get it. I don’t know how that fits into my life. I’ll put it on the shelf and go do whatever.” And then I find those people often come back to it later, like six months down the road, or a year down the road, they get interested again. Oh. And so it’s just that type of subject where, I’m really talking directly to your instinct when I talk like this. I’m talking from my own instinct. And so, I’m talking about a possibility of waking up from the dream of separation, waking up from living in a world where you have perceptual filters ongoing creating the sense that you’re separate from everything. It’s actually possible to live without that.
– [Zubin] And I think everything you just said is the disclaimer here, which is, people who are interested in this, it’s really the most important, I mean, it’s so important to them because they recognize that this separation feels artificial. Like the fact that I and you relate to each other as separate organisms is, it’s convenient, it’s helpful on some level, it’s also untrue. It’s a perceptual distortion and cutting through that distortion, and the reason I’m so interested as I’ve had glimpses of it. After reading your book, I had profound glimpses of it, to the point where it felt absolutely so real that it’s the only thing I really wanna do is wake up so that I can inhabit that awakening and just be better in the world. End suffering, not just for myself, but creating suffering around me. And I think you’re gonna see in the comments of this video, so anytime I do a thing on consciousness, some of the comments are so triggered. People are like, “This is dumb. This is woo. I hate this.” I think that’s absolutely normal. And then the people who are interested, it’s like, “Wait, wait, stop, stop everything. Wait, what?” And that was the sense I got with your book. And the important thing about your book, Angelo, and this is not just to blow smoke up your nonexistent ego, it’s to say I’ve wrote a lot of these, like, “spiritual” books, ’cause I’m intellectually fascinated by it as well. Your book is not about the intellect, although it throws the intellect a bone here and there. It’s about opening a portal to the experience of unfiltered reality, while allowing us to also work our baggage out that comes with that. So, tell me more about that.
– [Angelo] They go together. I mean, there’s no… So as we were talking about earlier today, there are aspects of realization, awakening being the first step in realization. It’s the first big shift. Typically, when somebody goes through that transition of awakening, it’s the biggest shift you’ll ever experience in your life. It’s feeling like you’re moving from a place of being an individual in a world of individuals and a world of separate objects, living in a very conceptual framework about who you are, where you’re going, where you came from, what your problems are, what your potential solutions are, moving from that world to a world of expansion, intimacy, profound spontaneity, flow, that is not an experience. And this is the really important part about awakening, specifically. When I say awakening versus a mystical experience or a peak experience, the differentiation is, it’s not an experience. You know, in the most fundamental way possible, this is actually how reality is. This is truth. It’s so obvious, you don’t need to say it to anyone. The most enlightened person in history, Buddha, could come up to you and say, “What you’re experiencing isn’t real,” and you would laugh in his face because it’s so obviously real, it’s self-validating. And for me, it was the only thing that was self-validating up to that point. I didn’t know reality ’til I tasted that, and I was like, “Oh, this.” It’s like living in a whole different dimension of experience that doesn’t exclude what you were experiencing before, but it expands upon it in ways that are very hard to describe, in a sort of an infinite, expansive way, but also in an intimacy and depth way. And so that was a shift for me. Now, that’s awakening. Beyond awakening, there are further perceptual filters that can be dissolved. There are different ways to do that. And some of those are things like what you were pointing at, which is the perceptual filter of subject and object construct, which is very fundamental to the way we experience reality, until it’s not. And so the experience is, I’m a subject and everything I’m looking at, hearing and feeling is the object. So I can say, “That’s a tree over there. That’s an elephant statue. That’s a microphone.” I can point to things and say, “Those are out there.” And the way our mind puts it together, it really looks like they are. It looks like it in the thought construct, but there’s a way to experience that, with or without that thought construct, that is much more real than that and that experience is what I would call non-dual. So it’s experiencing without the subject-object construct. Now this comes after awakening, typically, but when it becomes moment to moment for you, it’s a very, very fundamental shift in the way you experience reality and it’s not reversible. It’s not like, “Oh, I can do that sometimes,” like a kind of meditation. It’s nothing like that. So it also feels far more obviously the way it is, than the way your mind is trying to put it together. The way the mind is trying to put things together is effortful. It requires you to buy-in almost, this doesn’t. There’s no buy-in, it’s just this way.
– [Zubin] And for… By the way, that itself is a topic that obviously you can dive into in levels of detail, this idea of experiencing reality as just a rising phenomenon and you are that. There’s no self at all, but I think we’ll get to that. I wanna start with, okay, this is what fascinated me at first, too, is, you’re a doctor, I’m a doctor. We’re the same age.
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] The difference is, in 1997, you had a profound awakening. And what led up to that point? What was your life like?
– [Angelo] It was suffering.
– [Zubin] Suffering.
– [Angelo] Yeah. And so when I say suffering, I mean something very specific. Suffering, in the way I talk about it in this context, is knowing that the way we’re experiencing reality through these perceptual filters on an ongoing basis is not fundamentally right. Or, I don’t mean that in a moralistic way, it’s just not fundamentally clear. It’s not deeply truthful, coherent with reality. There’s something about it just feels off. And in my experience, I think probably everybody consents that to some degree, but I think for some people it’s very, you can almost ignore it. You kind of can ignore it. For other people, it’s very intense. So for me, it was very intense. It felt horrible to live in an internal mental world. It just felt so dysphoric that I had to find a way to not live in that, but I had no context for that. So I learned to meditate when I was 19, and I did that for probably about four or five years, I guess, before this shift happened.
– [Zubin] What type of meditation was that?
– [Angelo] Transcendental meditation.
– [Zubin] Oh, TM, like mantra.
– [Angelo] But what’s interesting, I didn’t learn it from the TM group. I learned it from an old hippie guy who learned it from Maharishi in India-
– [Zubin] Oh, wow.
– [Angelo] Back in the ’60s. Yeah, so he just taught it to me the way Maharishi taught it him and it’s a mantra type of meditation. But I learned to meditate. And for me, that was like water in the desert. It felt really good to meditate. It just felt like a freeing experience, but it didn’t shift insight. It wasn’t like what I’m talking about with awakening. And I did that pretty much daily for a few years. And it was the time of the day that I could rest. I could relax. I could feel okay. And the rest of the day was a lot of thinking, a lot of living in an internal world of thoughts, spinning around. What’s wrong with me? How do I fix the problem of me? Just thinking, thinking, thinking, trying to solve the problem of thinking with more thoughts. And I felt like I was in a prison that just kept getting smaller and smaller the more I did that.
– [Zubin] And so the meditation was just a respite from that prison.
– [Angelo] That’s it.
– [Zubin] But it wasn’t anything-
– [Angelo] That’s right. It just calmed my mind enough to, like, yeah. And then it was time. At some point, the conditions lined up. The circumstances in my life were right. I was 24, and I picked up a book that I had had, I think I actually had it from a class that I took in college that I never opened the book. It’s called, “The Three Pillars Of Zen.” It was like, Zen and Japanese Culture class. So I picked up this book and in the book it talked about Zen and Buddhism and stuff, and I didn’t read any of that. I read this one section that was, it said Enlightenment Encounters. And the word enlightenment translates to what I’m talking about when I say awakening, and these were not monks, these were householders. These were Japanese people and a couple of American people who went to this certain Zen center in Japan on occasion to do this long retreat, but they were working on this possibility. They called it kensho in Zen, that’s the term.
– [Zubin] Awakening. Yeah.
– [Angelo] Awakening, yeah. And each one of these stories is a personal narrative of that person going through the process. And I read every single one of them in a row. And I was like, “Oh my God, that’s possible. That’s possible. That’s possible,” that every single one was proof that it’s possible.
– [Zubin] Normal guy, normal girl waking up.
– [Angelo] Yeah. Married. Lived in the society. These weren’t people living in monasteries or anything. And so, yeah, I read those and something opened, like something knew it was possible to do that, but then the question was how. I didn’t know how, I didn’t really know how. I wasn’t a Buddhist. I didn’t know of a Zen temple to go to. I didn’t have a teacher. I didn’t know. We didn’t have the internet. I couldn’t get on and look for enlightened people. I had no idea.
– [Zubin] These are the ’90s, baby.
– [Angelo] I was just like, “This is possible, but I don’t know how it’s possible.” I kind of associated it with meditation. Maybe I can do it during meditation, or something. But I started just picking up little clues in those narratives of how that teacher pointed to these people. And it wasn’t any specific Japanese or Zen technique that is the key to it. I say Japanese Zen because Zen is actually, lineage goes back to China and then even to India, Buddhism does. But it wasn’t anything about those specific teachers or teachings that I really picked up. It was a sense. It was like an ineffable, but very, very real sense of what the kernel of what had happened to these people was, and somehow it was like a spark and I could feel it inside myself. And I was like, “Oh, it’s there.” And I just somehow figured out how to orient to it. I figured out how I could orient myself to it and not separate myself from it, because that was the only way I knew to get out of suffering. I don’t know how this sounds and it may be just totally bizarre, but to me, all of a sudden, it just felt right. It made sense. And I was like, “Oh, that.” And it was the weird thing, it’s always been there. Like, I could tell this isn’t new. It’s not a technique. It was something that I’d always carried, but I’d kind of ignored it.
– [Zubin] I think that’s a story that resonates with a lot of people. You feel it. First of all, you’re suffering, you can’t understand why, you’re trying to solve suffering with the cause of suffering, which is thought identification, more thought, more thought, more thought, then you’re exposed to something. And by the way, I want to put a point on this. This is not Buddhism. This is not some particular sect. Like Christians can have this. Muslims can have this. And they have, historically, this idea of awakening, they just package it in whatever the existing belief, faith that they have. And for you, you were open and had this intuitive connection and I’ve felt the same way for myself. I’m not where you are. And that’s why when I… It’s interesting, when I talk to you, even just talking to you opens that same place and creates a kind of a portal to that experience of possibility that is non-conceptual. You can’t think about it. You can’t put it in words, really.
– [Angelo] Right. I wanna make a point about that comment of, I’m not where you are. I get that your thoughts say that, but from this perspective, the truth of it is, you and I aren’t two. There’s not a sense of you’re somewhere that I’m not, or there’s enlightened or unenlightened people. From this perspective, which in a sense is a non-perspective, it’s a simplicity, there’s no less or more enlightened people. There’s no division. There’s actually no boundaries to anything. There’s just the local environment that’s just occurring all the time. And so, there’s no judgment that way at all. Literally, none. So it’s kind of a paradox because I can talk to people who are moving through the process, and they can explain what they’re going through, and I can kind of point a certain way that helps them untie things, excuse me, or helps them get under a certain fixation, a belief, a thought pattern or an emotion, or help to integrate an emotion. So I can work on those things in a practical sense but the reason I can do that, I think, is that I don’t look at them as unenlightened. That’s just enlightenment moving. Everything is enlightenment. Everything is enlightenment. Everything is aliveness. You can call it what you want. It’s life force, energy, whatever you want to call it. But that’s what this is. And so we speak in that, from that, and as that, and that seems to untie it for some people, people who are wanting to delve into that part of themselves. If you’re not, no problem. There’s plenty of other things to do in this world, but this is the kind of thing that like, if this is the kind of thing you’re interested in, it’s the most interesting thing to you. If not, again, it doesn’t matter. It just doesn’t matter, you know?
– [Zubin] And I’ll tell you, a lot of our audience is funny and I was this way too, it’s a very, sort of, materialist, reductionist, like science-minded people. This is not incompatible with that. In fact, this is about as straightforward, secular a pursuit of truth as you can find. It’s turning the microscope of attention on your immediate experience in this moment and seeing what that is. Is there actually a person behind my eyes experiencing the world? Am I separate from you, Angelo? And what does that mean if we’re not? What does that mean? I can’t tell you what that means but I can experience that unitary experience.
– [Angelo] Absolutely.
– [Zubin] And when you do, when you get a taste of it, now I’ll be honest with you. I’d had glimpses and psychedelics when I was young, and this kind of thing, and they’re just glimpses. While I was reading your book, your chapter on the stages of enlightenment, chapter 10, I believe, as I was looking at the book, I suddenly was the book. There was no I. I disappeared, the book was happening. Everything was one thing happening now. And the experiential feeling of that, if it even was an experience, it was just this, was absolute liberating connection to everything, and everything was all right. And then there was no path, and there was no concept, and there was no thought, there was just this. And it was the best I have ever felt in my life and then it was gone. Thought went, “Ching, ching, ching, ching. Wow, you just had a crazy experience, you.”
– [Angelo] When you’re talking about it though, can you come in contact with it a little bit?
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] Right, so from that place, is it contrived, or is it just that way? Is that an experience? Did something occur or is that just how it is? Does it feel natural, or does it feel created?
– [Zubin] It was just how it was.
– [Angelo] Mm-hm, that’s right.
– [Zubin] I can’t even call it an experience. I have memories of it, but those are just images and thoughts, but at the time it was without, there was nothing like it. And that’s why, I wanna say this really to the audience, that people are like, “Well, what are they talking about this? They’re speaking in terms of seem paradoxical. My mind can’t really wrap around it.” This is not about mind. This is about the thing that is there that’s witnessing your mind, the thing that’s there between thoughts, the is-ness of who you are, and when you experience it and phenomenon arising in it, you can’t even… Like, when I talk about it, it’s clumsy. But when-
– [Angelo] When I talk about it as clumsy, as well. It’s impossible to talk about, but it’s very possible to experience. I would also make one point that, you mentioned that it is not of the mind, it’s not of thought. We’re not talking about something conceptual. We’re talking about something that’s fundamental to conceptuality in a big way, but it doesn’t exclude conceptuality. That’s the funny thing about this. When boundaries disappear, when the illusion of boundaries isn’t there, then things are very different. Meaning, one thing is everything. So there’s not, this sense that something’s less or more important, kind of goes away. It’s everything is kind of magnified to infinite significance. There’s a depth of experience in the moment that is, it’s thoroughly enjoyable because it has a sense of obvious completion that can’t be other than this. It’s a sense of the way the universe is, that one part of it doesn’t exclude all the other parts of it.
– [Zubin] And this is a way of being in the world that you inhabit. So you and I spent the morning talking and you know, you were, you can’t really call it teaching. It was like, you’re pointing and saying, “This is what it’s like.” And it’s a way of actually experiencing life that is open, unfiltered, and non-resistant to what is, so that everything is just right. So that nothing really, all that suffering, you realize, was just our resistance to what actually is right now. It’s not a surrender and a giving up on life. It’s an embracing life as it is. That’s something I just want, again, I wanna put it out there because I think it can be off-putting to people who are like, “Well this sounds like you’re just disengaging from life. You’re gonna go live in a cave.” I mean, how do you think about that?
– [Angelo] I don’t think about it. I just go with what’s happening, and experience it, and it turns out it’s fine. But what you’re really touching on is important. And so, we’ve been talking about the kind of cool perceptual experience of this. The what’s possible when perceptual filters drop, and that may or may not be interesting to people, but this other part always has to be said, it’s important. And that is the section in the book I put, I called the, when the other shoe drops, I think I called it. Yeah, that’s important and that is anytime you get a sense of the expansion we’re talking about, or the intimacy, and I can guarantee you, some people watching this will experience that. It just happens. Just hearing it resonates because it’s our truth. It’s our inner reality. Other people may not, and that’s fine. But when you get that taste, when you get an experiential insight or a taste into what we’re talking about, it might be small and it might be very profound, what often follows it, and this is really important for me to point out so that it’s not misinterpreted, what often follows it, could be the next day, it could be a few days later, is some kind of emotional experience will come to the surface. So something that we might typically interpret as intense or uncomfortable, like fear, anger, shame. So the way I describe it in the book is that, when we touch into expansiveness into unbound consciousness, into unfiltered reality, the universe has kind of given you a taste and going, “This is what is, this is how it is.” Yeah? Then it kind of waits a little bit and it goes, “Okay.” And then it gives you this other experience and says, “And this is what is blocking it. This is what’s making it so you’re not feeling it, or so you’re not experiencing this moment to moment.”
– [Zubin] This is the filter in the way of what’s actually happening.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and so this bi-modal experience of expansion, contraction, or expansion, peace, joy, and then some kind of weird fear or dysphoria, or even disorientation can come afterwards, but it’s okay. It’s an experience. It will pass like all experiences pass, right? So I always wanna point that out because it typically will happen. And I also want to point out that the emotion itself is not the block. Emotions are fine. It’s our resistance patterns around emotions. It’s the repression of emotions that keep this dualistic experience going to where we feel like we’re separate from everything, separate from our own self, our mind, our feelings, the physical objects in the world. From my experience, what is it? It’s basically resistance. So the resistance patterns keeping these emotions down, I’m not even sure that it’s purposeful, but part of what this ongoing resistance does is keeps emotions sort of buried, or pushed down a little bit. So they tend to come up and they’ll come into consciousness and then they’ll go away. Everything comes and everything goes. It’s an experience. So I just wanna point that out because that almost always comes with this, and somebody who’s interested in the subject and tastes that, touches in, but isn’t ready for that second part, or doesn’t know what to do with it, or more importantly, thinks something went wrong, or, “Oh my God, that’s a scary path I don’t wanna go down.” I just want to make sure that they understand, it’s okay. It’s okay to feel uncomfortable emotions with this process, because it just always happens. It’s part of the deal.
– [Zubin] I was so glad you put that in the book because after I had that experience of that unitary, non-dual experience, you can’t really put it in words. It’s not just clumsy, it’s almost insulting to the experience, because the experience is. You just go, “Oh,” you feel… I think I told, I texted you after I had that experience. And I said, “I feel like I’m in on the joke that the universe has been trying to tell this whole time that there is no path. It’s just this.” But then within a day, I was contracted back in my normal way, worse than normal, like feeling all this anger and the emotions that, and they’re just bubbling up. And I’d read that part in the book where it’s like, “Hey, by the way, when this happens, this happens.” And it’s grace. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, by the way, so this is what’s possible and this is what’s keeping it from it from you.” And the act of not… You had a great metaphor in the book. It’s kind of like, when you’re pushing against something like this, and the thing is pushing against you, you’re both constantly exerting this thing. The minute you release your resistance, the thing just kind of falls. And that’s what it’s like with emotions that are bubbling up. When you feel that, when you just let the resistance go and feel it, yeah, maybe you’ll cry. Maybe you’ll scream. I actually found myself screaming quite a bit, like this very, just strange thing. I have never, who is this guy now? But, it releases and you feel this opening and that’s part of the process. So I think that that’s one thing is like, people have concerns that’s going to destabilize them or this kind of… I think your book is wonderful in that it’s just this direct, well, here’s the guide. Here’s what you can expect. Here’s what’s gonna happen. Here’s how you go about it.
– [Angelo] Yeah. And yeah, with the emotion stuff, it’s what you find out, I think, through experience is that emotions are fine. All of them, really. They have purposes in life, but the repressed emotions, they just, they come into consciousness. They’re not really about anything external necessarily. They’re kind of like, “Hey, here I am. I’ve been ignored for a long time and thank you for letting me in.” And so you just integrate them, and yeah, the struggle thing you described is very good, it’s pushing against pushing. When we start to look at what resistance actually is inside of ourself, we see it’s kind of like pushing against pushing, or resistance against resistance. There’s nothing really there that wants to resist anything and there’s nothing that needs to be resisted. And it can just totally relax. It can relax itself, but it goes in steps and phases, and it’s important to understand that this process we’re talking about is not all crunchy granola and light and all that. I mean, you’ll have amazing, expansive experiences, for sure, but you’ll also have emotional experiences and it’s fine. It’s just part of the process.
– [Zubin] And trauma and history of stuff, it all comes up. In fact, you have to acknowledge that. You’re gonna have to deal with it.
– [Angelo] Yeah, and so people who have a lot of trauma, that haven’t done a lot of work with their trauma, along with this, I would recommend trauma counseling, strategies along those lines in concert with this process. Many people who go through the awakening and realization process have had trauma. In fact, I would say it’s one of the biggest impetus, impetuses’.
– [Zubin] Impeti.
– [Angelo] Impeti to get people moving down this road is, they’ve just had so much trauma that, gosh, waking up and disappearing out of reality, that that may be how they interpret it.
– [Zubin] Escape.
– [Angelo] That sounds great! It’s like an escape. It’s not exactly what it is, but if your conditions have been bad enough, gee, why not? Why not look at somewhere completely different? And look at reality in a very different way ’cause reality hasn’t been very nice to me. So a lot of people do come to this path from a place of like trauma, and a lot of difficult, challenging lives and so forth. But not everybody. There are people who have very good conditions, who have you know, they were brought up in great families. They have good careers, smart people that function well in life. But as you said, something underneath all of that just still says, “I’ve never found anything deeply satisfying.”
– [Zubin] Yeah, that’s kind of my situation. For you, you had just horrible anxiety and suffering and difficult conditions, and…
– [Angelo] Yeah, I mean, for me growing up, it was like, if you were to look at me from the outside, you may not have known it because part of it was so much emotional repression that I just buried everything. But internally, my internal experience was brutal. Like, it felt terrible. It just felt really uncomfortable. And you know, it’s really weird, I never said that to anybody. I just never did. I didn’t talk to like a psychologist about it, or my parents. I just never thought to bring it up.
– [Zubin] There’s kind of a taboo against it.
– [Angelo] There is a bit of a taboo. And to be honest, in retrospect I know why. I could see that the way people were functioning was the problem. For me, for them it’s not. Some people can function in a world of mind identification and living in a thought world and that’s okay for them. It feels okay for them, as I said before. For me, it did not feel okay. It felt really miserable, but I could also sense, just by talking to people, but that’s kind of, that’s their world. It’s threatening almost to talk about breaking out of that.
– [Zubin] Ah, right. ‘Cause you’re basically saying, “Well, what you’re comfortable with, you should not be comfortable with.”
– [Angelo] Yeah, it was something like that. And I just somehow intuited that I need to find a totally different direction that didn’t have to do with the influences I had had, and so forth. I don’t know how I knew that, or whatever, but-
– [Zubin] But you knew it intuitively.
– [Angelo] Yeah, I just felt like, and it was brutal to go through it, but it was also total grace because that pressure cooker of suffering and mind identification drove me to this.
– [Zubin] Propelled you.
– [Angelo] Propelled me through, for sure.
– [Zubin] Do think you were just born, some people are just born with a spiritual immune system that rejects reality as it is.
– [Angelo] I think, isn’t that a quote in the book?
– [Zubin] It is, yeah. Yeah, that’s why I stole it.
– [Angelo] You know, it’s a really interesting question. My experience leads me to believe that probably anybody walking the face of the Earth can wake up. When we talk about deeper stages of realization, some of the deeper insights and those things, I think that might vary somewhat. But that first shift, that first big release, I think that’s probably possible for anybody, if they’re really interested in it. If it’s the kind of thing that like, “I wanna do that.” And that’s kind of why I wrote the book. There’s always disclaimers with it. One thing I always point out is, it doesn’t mean everyone should, or that I think it’s the best thing for anyone specifically. The best thing for you is what your intuition says is the best thing for you. Truly. I don’t think awakening is the best thing for anyone, but if it’s the only thing you’re fully full-on about in your life, well then it is the right thing for you. And I mean, I can resonate with that. But gosh, if you are like, “I wanna be the best father I could ever possibly be. That’s what I’m passionate about. That feels deeply authentic to me,” that’s awesome. That’s your realization, do it. So I don’t have a judgment about it and the book doesn’t carry any sort of judgment about who does or does not feel like this movement is important to them, but if it is, and if you do resonate with it, then there’s good news for you, that it’s possible. That’s really what it comes down. It’s possible, but it’s gonna take full buy-in from you. You can’t kind of half-ass this exactly. Well, you will for awhile. I mean, it’s just how it goes, right? It’s the way humans are. But at some point, you give yourself to it. You really trust life. You trust something beyond yourself and plunge.
– [Zubin] The word trust that you said, that’s what it is. And what I found the book gave me, because I was really starting to despair that it was possible because I’ve been working at meditation and things like that for like nine years now and I find, again, it’s a nice way to manage my mind, to control emotion a little bit so that I’m not so reactive. It brings me peace, to some degree. Mindfulness is great. So that when I do go off the handle, I’m recognize it and I’m able to quickly make it right, for better, or for worse. But after reading your book, I said, “No, wait, no, no, no. I now unequivocally trust that, because I want this,” I want to actually see the nature of what is real with the possibility of eliminating suffering for myself and others. That’s such a real possibility after reading the book, I go, “Oh, giving the trust to it then allows a kind of release,” when you’re practicing, when you’re inquiring, when you’re doing the exercises that you teach us how to do, that allows you to let go and be a little helpless and a little vulnerable, so that you just see what is instead of putting up the resistance. And for me, that was a transformative aspect of the book and the fact that I then virtually met you and I’m like, “This guy is just like me. He’s a doctor, I’m a doctor. He does his daily rounds, and puts in epidurals, and does anesthesia, but he is,” when I talk to you, I know, I energetically feel it and I even conceptually understand, you’re as awake, more awake than anyone I’ve met. And I obviously haven’t met Adyashanti, or any of these guys, but it gave me the trust that, oh, this is possible. Like, this can happen and I think it can happen for anyone, and I’m hoping it happens for me, now. It doesn’t happen at some point, it happens now.
– [Angelo] No doubt. It’s like, anytime I start interacting with somebody who’s going down this path, there’s always part of me that’s like, “Can this happen?” It’s such a crazy thing, right? ‘Cause I can feel what they’re feeling, and I’m kind of going through it with them, and then every time it happens I always have the same feeling of like, it’s just a matter of time. It’s clockwork.
– [Zubin] Wow.
– [Angelo] It’s clockwork. It’s a totally natural process. So there’s this weird place where the human dimension meets the natural dimension, where the human will, the, “Dammit, I’m gonna make this happen,” meets complete surrender where it’s like, boom, you realize, “Damn, I can’t make anything happen, but life can make some really amazing things happen like right now.” And you just let go into that. And that’s when it happens.
– [Zubin] Oh, man, man. And so, and so, so now again, for people who are still a little lost, because we just get into it, right? The book that Angelo wrote is a kind of a step-wise guide that’s very well-organized, it’s meticulously done. It took you over three years to write. It’s really the sum of a lot of your own journey, but it’s done in a way that it’s kind of pointing people to what can happen and it’s not all, it’s not everything, but it’s enough, I think, that it goes through, okay, first of all, why do this? What are the pitfalls? What about thinking about teachers? What about groups? What are different meditation methods? Then you’re looking at like, what are the stages of awakening and experientially? And you have these beautiful analogies. We could do a whole show just on that. Then, what’s the deal with mind identification and ego? Why is that the root cause of our problem? And even by recognizing that, Angelo, you go, “Oh, I never even knew that’s the prison I was in and I’m constructing it.” Then you talk about thoughts. What are they? That chapter alone is like a masterclass in just insight. You just go, “Oh, that’s what a thought is.” Emotion, and then this idea of, okay here, what is inquiry? How do you actually investigate who you actually are? So the book itself, for people who are passionate about it, it is, and that’s why I was just so, I get excited about things when they feel that intuitively right. And this book, I’ve never seen anything like it. And so again, I’m just saying this really more for myself and the audience that, this is why, if you are interested in this, you need to just download the Kindle book. It’s only Kindle right now, but it’s gonna be print on Amazon soon, right?
– [Angelo] Yeah, hopefully in the next few weeks, I think, yeah.
– [Zubin] And it’s like 10 bucks. And it’s just, you just got to, if that’s what you want, you gotta do it. So, okay, I had to get that out of the way. Now back to you, Angelo.
– [Angelo] Sure. Yeah, so again, to maybe tune people in who are still like, “What are we talking about? Is this strange stuff?” What we’re talking about here is, really it’s like, am I interested, or am I not interested? Is this something for me, or is this something I’m just not interested in? One of the books I often will recommend to people who have some kind of interest beginning in this would be like, Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now.” Very, very accessible.
– [Zubin] That was my gateway drug.
– [Angelo] Great read. I mean, very, very, very clear. He’s a very good pointer. It’s just super accessible. And so, if anyone here who’s read that book and resonates with that, that’s what I’m talking about. Except, I get very pointed with it, very directed with it. Like, this is how you do that. This is how you move through these barriers and stages and how you address thoughts and emotions and so forth.
– [Zubin] Anyone who’s anyone who’s read “The Power Of Now,” And that’s what started me on this journey in 2012, if you’ve read it, and like you said, and that’s resonated with you, the thing about Angelo’s book is like, okay, so it’s exactly that. It’s, okay, so what Eckhart was saying, here’s how you realize that. Here’s the journey to do that and the practical guide. It’s like almost the cheat codes, the instruction manual on how to do it. And it’s so direct that that’s what’s powerful about it. So sorry to interrupt, but that resonates with me. That’s exactly what it is.
– [Angelo] Yeah, I mean, that just came to mind for anybody who’s trying to like find their orientation to what we’re talking about, but really it’s intuitive. I’ve met people who really break this down into steps and have read a lot of literature on it. A lot of it’s Buddhist, but there are, I can give you lots.
– [Zubin] Christian mystics, and…
– [Angelo] Christian mystics. I can give you examples of modern day, a Catholic nun who realized very deep stages of realization, wrote a book about it. So, I mean, there are a lot of references. It’s not one religion. It’s not one specific path, or group of people that this is possible for. It’s really possible for anyone. But I have met people who are very knowledgeable about Buddhism, about the stages of awakening that would be described in Buddhist literature and so forth. I’ve met people who have no spiritual interest whatsoever. The spirituality itself is just not interesting to them, it doesn’t make sense, and they’re waking up. They’re in the process of waking up, they just didn’t know what it was. They didn’t know how to orient to it. They didn’t know how to trust that part of themselves that’s kind of sort of dissolving in a way. That might be kind of scary, but you know, I’ve had many people tell me, “Yeah, I’ve been going through my life and I was able to do things, and have relationships, and have jobs, and do these things, but none of it was really that satisfying and it always kind of ended itself. And I never really knew what I was supposed to orient toward.” And then we start talking and usually it’s this. They haven’t oriented toward the deepest part of themselves that is unspeakable, that you can’t talk about it. It’s not a part of life. It’s ineffable, but it’s instinct and it’s the part of you that really is letting go in a certain way. It’s letting go of you. It’s letting go of all your beliefs about how my life is supposed to be, and so forth, to get beyond those constructs to find out what’s really real, what’s really happening. And so people who move that way, it’s very simple. They actually wake up very quickly because I just tell them, trust your instincts. Trust that thing you’ve always kind of been running from, but it’s there, it’s okay. You can trust it. I’ve said these exact words to many people and it’s helped get them to just reorient to it. And then they just, they’re awakening already, like they are the awakeness. We all are in a sense, for sure. So, yeah. Very different types of people move through this process. Some are very intentional. Some are like, it just came upon them and it is what it is. So, there’s no right person for this. You’re the right person if it’s interesting to you.
– [Zubin] So what is awakening?
– [Angelo] What is awakening?
– [Zubin] Yeah, what is awakening?
– [Angelo] Well, so people use the term differently. People who know, and there are many people who have gone through this process. They’re not special. Some might act special, but they’re not.
– [Zubin] And that’s one of the pitfalls you talk about in the book.
– [Angelo] Yeah, it’s actually more of a subtractive process. You kind of lose perceptual filters. You lose belief structures about yourself, and you start to experience reality in a very direct way, but there’s nothing there to pat yourself on the back about. It’s not really like that at all. There’s nothing special about it. That’s the weird thing about this. It’s very natural, but it’s not special. It’s simple. So yeah, there are a lot of people who have moved through this process in the world and there’s more and more. When I decided to come on the show, when you invited me, I really had to ask myself, “Is this ready for prime time? I don’t know.” It’s kind of a taboo subject in a sense. And people can have strong reactions, but as you and I agreed, meditation, mindfulness practice was a taboo subject 20 years ago, definitely 30 years ago. And now it’s taught all over the place. It’s taught at churches, it’s-
– [Zubin] Every single hospital administrator.
– [Angelo] It’s taught at, the hospitals talk about it. Yeah, and so it’s taught in all the various institutions. And like I said, schools and things like that, it’s just becoming very, very mainstream. This is not a technique we’re talking about. It’s not a practice, but it is a possibility and eventuality that things like mindfulness practice and meditation can kind of open you to, that can start to shift that lens, but meditation alone won’t wake you up. It just won’t. You can meditate for 30 years and not wake up, if you’re not ready to. You have to be ready to. You have to want to do it. You have to orient toward it. You have to be willing to let go into it, and the book talks about how to do that. So yeah, I had to decide like, do I really want to talk about this this publicly? But you know, why not? I mean more and more people are waking up. There’s no doubt about it. They’re waking up faster. There’s really good resources for it now and I think it’s gonna become, pretty much a mainstream thing in the next 10 to 20 years.
– [Zubin] And that was another thing about your book. It was almost like, “Oh, I’m not sure, would an old Zen master approve of this direct a teaching to the public that hasn’t gone through all the years of concentration training, and mindfulness training, and all the hoops they make you jump through?” What are your thoughts on that?
– [Angelo] Well, there is value to some of that kind of work like, sitting in meditation for 10 or 20 years, it’s gonna calm your nervous system down a lot. It’s going to dissolve various fixations, or soften them at least, but it’s not equivalent to awakening. Some traditions, it’s like exertion, like sitting in a Zen center or a temple for a week at a time doing a sesshin, very rigid posture, very, very painful to do, meditating 14 hours a day. But that doesn’t necessarily wake you up either, without some kind of impetus, catalyst, your own intuition that really orients towards it, because pain doesn’t just wake you up. If you could just wake up by exerting yourself in painful ways than every…
– [Zubin] Laboring mom would…
– [Angelo] Yeah, or every marathon runner would be awake. It’s not about just grinding out the pain. It’s not about, definitely not about knowledge. It’s not about amassing spiritual knowledge. And it’s not about any specific technique. So again, the mind goes, “Well, what the hell is it about?” Well, that’s exactly what it’s about. It’s about the one thing you can’t think about, but you can intuit it. It’s maybe we could say, it’s your heart. It’s at the heart of what you are, but orienting towards that is the key. And I kind of just say that over and over, because that’s really the first, the first barrier is knowing, let me back up for a second. So, I can talk about this in the way I did in the book in terms of stages and it typically plays out in certain stages that are reasonably predictable. Sometimes a bunch of those stages come at once for people, as we talked about this morning, but in general, there are certain predictable stages and shifts in your perceptual experience that occur in this process. But actually probably a more accurate way of talking about it is, not what experiences are added onto you, because it’s not like that, it’s actually what drops away sequentially, so that you can experience that? And yet another way of saying that is, what filters are operating, or what fixations are preventing us from seeing very obvious, unquestionable truth that is here all the time, always no matter what? What are those? What are those barriers? Let’s just say barriers. So that’s probably a more accurate way of talking about this because it’s just a matter of kind of navigating certain barriers in certain ways. One at a time, okay? And some of them you navigate in different ways than others. Some you can kind of like push through, other ones are very much, it requires a much more soft movement a much more acquiescent movement, a movement of like faith almost. But they are kind of sequential. And I would say the first one, the first big barrier that’s sort of broadly applied to people is not really knowing this is a possibility, not even knowing that this exists.
– [Zubin] That’s a vast majority of people.
– [Angelo] So if 5% of the people watching this video it clicks for and they go, “Oh my God, that’s possible,” then that’s good enough. That’s great, because there’s something about the way our minds operate that there’s almost like an arrogance of predictability. I know how everything is. I know who you are. I know who I am. I know what I’m gonna do in five minutes. I know what I’m gonna do tomorrow. I know how people are. I know how I am. We’re sure we know how everything is and operates. That itself is pretty rigid. It’s pretty solid. It makes it hard for us to break through to a possibility that is completely outside of that. But if it’s presented in the right way, you might actually sense it and go, “Oh, wait a minute. I can feel what you’re talking about.” That’s the first barrier, in my opinion. First barrier is most people just don’t know this as possible.
– [Zubin] And it’s since birth, we’ve had this conditioning put on us. It’s almost like the child is quite open to this, maybe feels it intuitively.
– [Angelo] It’s built in layers.
– [Zubin] It’s built in layers. So, like you-
– [Angelo] Like I talked about in the chapter on mind identification. Once you’re somewhere between a year and two years, you start having the most rudimentary sense of self. There’s that mirror, it’s like the mirror test.
– [Zubin] The mirror test where they notice it’s them.
– [Angelo] Humans, yeah. Humans pass it and some higher primates pass it.
– [Zubin] Right, dolphins pass it.
– [Angelo] And a certain kind of bird passes it, which is really strange.
– [Zubin] Kind of like a crow or something, yeah.
– [Angelo] So, yeah, that’s the very first, rudimentary movement, and then the complexity of the ego grows very quickly in the first three to four years of life. We talked about theory of mind, the child that has theory of mind versus the one that doesn’t. So the complexity of that internal world develops pretty rapidly and pretty early. And no one gives you a user’s manual of how to go through that process without completely identifying with it and being stuck in it in a sense.
– [Zubin] Right, because you’re empathically deriving it from your parents, from modeling, and you’re going, “Oh, okay, yeah. Oh, I have an emotion. Oh, don’t cry.” You have to kind of, some emotions, you repress them down. And there was a quote in the book that actually made me, I found was very powerful and it was from Brian Aldis. And it said, “When childhood dies, its corpses are called adults which then enter polite society, which is one of the politer names for Hell.” And then it says, “This is why we dread children, even if we love them, because they show us-“
– [Angelo] They remind us of the decay.
– [Zubin] They remind us of our decay. And I was just like, “Oh,” because I remember this childlike wonder. And then I try to contrast it with the adult, and you’re just like, “We’re just the series of obstructions to experiencing the present moment as it is.” So, I think that’s, so that stage one is all this wall. We don’t even know it’s there.
– [Angelo] You just don’t know it’s a possibility. I mean, really it’s like, I can’t think of a specific example to compare it to, but it’s just one of those things that, people have probably heard the term woke, or awake. You’ve probably heard the term awakening, or heard about Buddhism or enlightenment, but heard it in cognitive contexts, in context of mind, or associated with a spiritual group, or a practice, or something like that. That’s not what I’m talking about.
– [Zubin] It’s like an affectation.
– [Angelo] I’m talking about a possibility for you, if you’re interested and open to it. And that first barrier of just, it’s not known that this is a possibility, probably prevents the most people, numerically, from just starting to move toward it at all, in my opinion, but that’s changing for sure. I mean, you got Eckhart Tolle, you got more and more, great, very awake people pointing and neo-Advita, lots of non-duality videos out there. You can just get on YouTube and get enlightened if you sit there and watch enough videos, watch the right ones.
– [Zubin] Yeah, go watch Rupert Spira, or any of these guys. Yeah, Mooji.
– [Angelo] Yeah, Mooji, they’re great. Adyashanti’s awesome. He’s the best teacher you’ll find.
– [Zubin] Sam Harris aggregates some of these guys on his show. I’m actually am a big fan of Loch Kelly, too. He’s a very direct pointer of different techniques to try to realize this and non-duality, although it, yeah, I won’t comment further on that, but I’ll say that learning it’s a possibility is one thing, yearning for it and connecting with it is another thing.
– [Angelo] Oh yeah.
– [Zubin] And then the nitty gritty of it, in a way it’s recognizing, it’s inquiring inwards and saying, this is my experience so far with the process, it’s inquiring inwards and saying, “What are these constructs that I believe and take to be me?” Like, “What is the me that’s thinking this thought? Here’s the thought I see it in my mind’s eye. I’m clarifying it the way Angelo told me to. I see it. I’m turning it around. There’s the thought. And then Angelo said, ‘See what part of that thought refers to a me, or a thinker or an object.’ Okay, let me, okay. Yeah, I see that. The thought’s about me, it’s saying, ‘I’m uncomfortable.’ Okay, who’s the I it’s referring to? Turn my attention back and go, ‘Oh, well, is it this feeling behind my eyes of pressure?’ No, because when that’s not there, I’m still here. I don’t disappear.'”
– [Angelo] You don’t disappear out of the universe.
– [Zubin] Is it the thought? No, because when the thought’s gone, I’m still aware. I’m still here. Is it this feeling in my chest? No, and you keep looking, and you keep looking, and you keep looking, and it’s at that point, it’s the looking, it’s the process of thoughtless looking that suddenly brings a kind of insight. And that’s was something I’d never understood until I read your book. And the thing about, you say this, and again I’m gonna ramble for a second. You’re like, Look, when someone’s teaching you to ride a bicycle, a bicycle requires balance, and effort, and focus, and peripheral vision, and a certain intuition, and so on.” Someone can help you because they can go, “Oh, I see what you’re doing wrong.” And they can help you, they can hold the bike, et cetera. With inquiry and trying to wake up, this kind of process of waking up, it’s all internal. So, it’s very hard to know if you’re doing it right, if you’re balancing all the things. So when you describe it in the book, you go, “Okay, then this can happen. Now sometimes the pitfalls here are this.” And they’re all internal. It’s like, well, you might think, “Well, whoa, this thing’s a waste of time.” Go back. Who’s thinking that? Look for that. It was remarkable, dude. I’ve never seen it explained like that.
– [Angelo] Yeah, so the mechanics of the process, or self-inquiry, and so forth are certainly one of the barriers because you can kind of learn about it but not really get a sense of what you’re supposed to do with it. And you try it a little bit and you just kinda go, “Who am I? Who am I? That doesn’t make any sense. I know who I am.” Or just, it feels dry. It doesn’t feel like anything happened and you’re done, and you’re just kind of like, “It didn’t work for me.” So I really tried to break it down into the mechanics of how do you really do it, if you’re interested and you don’t even have to do it that way. There’s other techniques. And then there’s also no technique. Again, the people that wake up the fastest are super intuitive and they just let go into it. They just know what I’m talking about, intuitively, and they’re like, “Yep, that’s it. It’s been here my whole life. I’m waiting to just let go into that but I need permission almost, or someone to just tell me it’s safe to do that, even though it will feel unsafe at first.”
– [Zubin] Now this idea of feeling unsafe, I think is important. So when I experience inquiry and I’m looking at who is, my question is more just, I, where’s the I? What is the sense of I? I am. What is this? And I’ll get to a point in my mind, and it’s hard to describe this, but I’ll try. So I see thoughts arising and there’s a deep stillness that happens and a very sudden peace, and the thoughts quiet. And you’re left with just pure awareness with no object for a second. And at that point, there’s almost a rush of adrenaline, or emotion, or something starts to rush up. And then my mind comes back and says, “No, no, no, no, no no. This is not a place you wanna be. You need to stop right now.” And then it just, … and I’m back in the mind.
– [Angelo] So, that’s very typical. What you’re describing, I would probably just call unbound consciousness, or pure consciousness. So, well, a very simple way of talking about thought is, I’ll use a model. I’ll use an imaginary model. So if you imagine an ocean, a vast body of water, thought structures, let’s say, occur in that water. The can form into a visual image or can form into a sound, and on the other side, the other pole, it can form into the one who’s aware of that sound. The water sort of dividing itself and kind of becoming aware of itself in a, sort of, thought confirmation. This is just a model. But when you start to see how consciousness functions, you can recognize, “Oh, I can sort of collapse that somehow. I can actually move toward the other pole.” The subject can move towards the object in thought, and you can kind of start to coalesce with thoughts. That’s one way this can happen. It can also happen through just like really aggressive self-inquiry. But the point is, once those collapse, the sense of the one doing the thinking kind of collapses into the whole ocean. So now you’re experiencing yourself as the ocean, without thinking. You can do this with no thoughts at all. It’s just pure, unbound consciousness. And it will feel oceanic. It’s quite oceanic. It’s beyond, beyond, beyond, like infinite depth, infinite in every direction, but you don’t have to think this. This is where you start to touch into the self-validating nature. The mind will tell you you have to think about this to confirm it. You don’t. You can be completely aware, no thoughts, completely alert, awake, not asleep, not dreaming, with no thoughts. And it’s just unbound pure consciousness. Now, when that happens, the first few times you touch into that, and you can force hack that in various ways. You can do self inquiry. You can chew on a koan, like Mu, which is like a Zen koan. Again, you can do it in a more, I almost call it like a feminine movement. It’s a more of a movement toward, in the thought space itself, and just kind of moving toward thoughts and collapsing them into a non-polar experience until it just really becomes subtle and quiet and still. So there’s a lot of approaches to this. But once you first touch into that, once you find yourself in this thoughtless space, because so much of our identity has been tied up in thoughts, in concepts, when they stop, your body interprets that as your identity being threatened. That’s what it interprets it as. And the way the body interprets that, it interprets that is fight or flight, right? It’s actually a physical experience. Your heart rate will go up. You’ll feel like, you’ll feel physical fear. The mind will interpret that as whatever story it has to tell. “Oh my God, I just did the… I really screwed something up. I messed my mind up,” or whatever the story it tells, but if you recognize that’s just another thought and then you can remain in that pure, unbound consciousness and the body experience will pass. Epinephrin is catalyzed in our blood in, what? Four minutes, five minutes. It’s not a long reaction.
– [Zubin] Such an anesthesiologist.
– [Angelo] It’s not a long reaction, but it’s an intense reaction. It is very intense. I think Adyashanti mentioned before his first awakening that his heart rate, he was a competitive athlete. His heart rate was beyond his target athletic heart rate or something. It was just way, way high. And he said, “It felt like I was gonna die.” That’s a very intense physiologic response. That’s epinephrin.
– [Zubin] That’s what it feels like, yeah.
– [Angelo] That’s what people feel like when you give them a dose of epinephrin, too. They literally feel panicky.
– [Zubin] Yeah. Yeah.
– [Angelo] But if you’re able to just wait that out, or touch into it, and then the next time you touch into it, you don’t have that reaction. You just stay with that unbound consciousness. You stay with it. That reaction will go away. It definitely will. For me, I felt it one time. I felt a really intense fear reaction. And I backed off and I was like, “Oh, that’s, I don’t know what.” It just felt weird to me and I stopped, or whatever. And somehow I had an insight, like a week later, and I thought, “You know, if that ever happens again, if I ever get to that place,” because I could feel I was like teetering, like I could step off a cliff almost.
– [Zubin] That’s what it feels like, yeah. That’s where I got, I was like, “Ah, no.”
– [Angelo] I felt like I was teetering on something. My intuition knew I could move into it farther or step off or something, and I thought to myself, “If that happens again, and I feel like I’m gonna die or I feel that fear, I’m just going to go through it. I don’t care. I wanna just go through the other side of it.” Now partially you can decide to do that, but partially it’s so instinctual that you might really have that reaction a few times. But what I find is, when people are willing to just keep going back there, at some point you don’t have it anymore. Or either you don’t, either you just will find, I don’t have that reaction this time, or you’ll have the reaction and you’ll be like, but any story I tell about it is still another thought and stay with that pure sense. And it’ll get very, very quiet, very calm. And you can literally just stay there. And if you stay there long enough, awakening just kind of happens. That’s basically it.
– [Zubin] That’s what I was gonna ask.
– [Angelo] That’s basically the way I would say it. It doesn’t have to happen that way. Some people wake up like in the middle of the night, they literally sit up in bed and they have an awakening, or people can have awakenings while doing an activity even, but often it does happen when you’re practicing self-inquiry in the moment or in deep meditation, or something like that. And that’s one of the ways it happens, is you just stay in that unbound consciousness long enough and there’s like a deep reset. The system resets itself. And all of a sudden, you’re just, it’s very different.
– [Zubin] So it’s like Control Alt Deleting all your baggage in the moment.
– [Angelo] It feels like it, yeah.
– [Zubin] It feels like it. And see, this is-
– [Angelo] Here’s an analogy I’ll use. I use this sometimes because it’s such a hard thing to talk about what kind of shift this is, but any human, any person can relate to what a paradigm shift is, right? If you thought things were this way, and all of a sudden you realize they’re that way. And you’re like, “Holy shit!” Different kind of world than I thought I was experiencing. Or there’s small ones and there’s big ones. So you could almost say that kind of paradigm shift is like, I’m looking through these eyes and there’s a paradigm here and it shifts to a paradigm here, or over here. That’s not what awakening is. Awakening is, you’re looking through this eyes, oh excuse me, through these, excuse me, microphone. Looking through these eyes at all these paradigms, like shifting your focus and doing what you normally do, and all of a sudden, something else is looking through those eyes. That’s what it’s like. It’s so different. But the weird thing is, it’s far more natural than what you were experiencing one second before. You’re like, “Oh my God.” You wanna just hit yourself over the head. Like, how did I miss this? This is crazy. And it just gets super, super, super calm, very relaxed, very peaceful, calm. You know what? I’ll tell you. After my awakening, after the first shift for me, which was again, 1997, a long time ago, but that first big shift, there were a few things that kind of would come into my head over the first week. And one of them was, there’s a phrase in the Bible that says, “Have you suffered so many things in vain?” And it just kept coming and coming, suffering. I don’t have to suffer. There’s no suffering here. Suffering was gone for me for quite a while. Then, the conditioning came back after awakening. We can talk about this at some point, and you have to work through other things. And that goes on for a long, long time. But that major shift in identity had occurred and for the honeymoon period after awakening, which is often a few months, sometimes longer, there’s no suffering. It’s just flow state. It’s very, very, very peaceful. It feels very natural. It feels very much like you’ve finally returned to childhood. You finally found what you were looking for. You finally found home, is what it feels like. And, yeah.
– [Zubin] I think if anyone’s watching this video and they saw that and it didn’t resonate with them, then probably don’t read the book.
– [Angelo] Yeah, basically.
– [Zubin] If that just hit you like right there, then this is why I really wanted to evangelize about this book. And speaking of evangelizing, you mentioned there was a Christian quote that you had. Awakening, as per the book, is just the beginning of the path to liberation. And when you get to that final path, you had actually quoted the Bible again and said, “This is the peace that passeth understanding.” And people don’t really understand what that means. That peace that passeth understanding, understanding almost is like the conceptual ability to put in words, or to frame it intellectually, it’s well beyond that. And even your description puts you and many people in that mindset, myself for sure, of what that feels like. It’s an intuitive truth, like this is our birthright. This is how we were born. You said it, it’s like a second childhood. It’s like, you’re back. That corpse of the adult is now reborn as the child. But then you said, it’s a honeymoon period. So then what? The ego comes back, or what happens? It sounds ugly.
– [Angelo] No, well, no, it’s different. You experience reality different after that. So you’re not a higher self. I wanna be clear on that. You’re not a higher self. It’s not an exalted state. You’re not a better person. It’s nothing like that. In fact, there’s less of a sense of separate individuality in a sense, in this sense. And this sense is that, you feel everything much more fully. You feel emotions much more intensely than you did before, and you don’t always want to, but there’s always that part of you that just knows it’s okay. It just has to. That okayness doesn’t really go away. It might get quieter for awhile, as you go through a lot of conditioning and stuff, but it’s not like one big, long painful experience. You actually fluctuate, so, and this is very common, people have terms for it. Me-ing and being, or, flip flopping or teeter-tottering, or whatever, but you go through these periods where you feel contracted and very, a lot of emotions coming, than more than you want right now. It’s not comfortable, but you’re okay. You’re living your life. You can still work and do what you need to do. You may take a little more time to sit with it and because it just feels natural, but yeah, a lot of emotion comes, some confusion, resistance patterns and you realize, “Wow, that what was in there was a lot,” and it’s this isn’t new stuff. This is stuff you’ve been repressing, or I had been repressing. I’ll let everyone else decide how much they’ve been repressing by going through this, but I can only speak for myself, but yeah, there’s a lot there. But then that kind of teeter-totters with these expansive experiences that are just like, really, you get kind of blown out with bliss, and peace, and joy often when you’re sitting, or meditating, or just in nature or something. It’s not like you can’t function. You can function, for sure. So this like teeter-tottering goes on, and this is where we start talking about the later movements and awakening, the later stages of realization that get more subtle. They get more slippery, almost. The ego is sneaky. It doesn’t take awakening lying down. It gets blown out into the periphery and it feels like it’s gone for awhile, but it’s not gone. The conditioning is still there. And so now, when you’re looking through far less of an identity filter, like a separation filter, you’re able to actually experience things much closer, like your own emotions, the world, physical experiences, sensations, sounds, all of it, much closer, much more authentically, more real, more intimately. And since you’re able to feel that, it’s kind of like when you open the door to one repressed emotion, all its friends come and they’re knocking on the door. Like, “Hey, you let my friend in, right?” So they just start coming in.
– [Zubin] Hey, come on in, shame.
– [Angelo] Shame’s coming, anger.
– [Zubin] Anger, humiliation.
– [Angelo] All of that stuff, yeah. I mean, you just, you have to go through it and it starts coming and it is what it is. But again, there’s a fundamental okayness that does come with that first shift and it doesn’t go away. You feel more reverence for life, but a lot of humility, a lot of humbleness, and life will do things to you and put you in situations where it shows you how unenlightened you’re not at the various times. And you just have to go through these things and feel a lot. But it all integrates. Ultimately, the boundaries between all these experiences start to just fall, and it becomes one sort of seamless continuum after a time.
– [Zubin] Hmm, mm. See, I think that there are people who would be very put off by that. I actually find it so amazingly fascinating to be able to feel authentically and closely. And so, you had opened my eyes to this. I had an experience recently where I was speaking at a large conference, first one after pandemic and I was stressed about it because I haven’t done a talk in a year and a half and-
– [Angelo] Wow.
– [Zubin] Yeah, in person. I’ve done virtual and I’ve gotten really good at virtual because virtual, for some reason, Angelo, when I’m looking at a camera, I feel connected to the consciousness that’s collective of the audience. It’s almost like this flow state, almost sacred space. When I’m in person, all my own personal hangups, and vulnerability, and shame, and humiliation and stuff, and all the baggage of childhood, like uh-huh, uh-huh.
– [Angelo] Like on stage, you mean?
– [Zubin] Like on stage. Now, when I was doing it a lot before the pandemic, my way of handling that was, I just came on with confidence. I’d done it enough. I had a structured deck of slides that were comedy with an arc, and with purpose, and songs and all this, and I could rely on it. It was a good crutch, so that I could then make myself vulnerable on stage. It was fine. But this time I said, “Look, it’s a bunch of surgeons, ankle surgeons. I have to authentically be me. I’m gonna ad lib most of the talk, but I’m gonna create like a Doc Vader clip that is just for them.”
– [Angelo] Yeah, you showed me. It was really good.
– [Zubin] Yeah, it was pretty funny. So he beam in Vader and he does the funny stuff about stuff, and then I do some songs, but really I’m talking about moral injury and post-pandemic life, and what it means to have a calling and be our authentic selves, and all these things that are important to me. And I can only talk about stuff that’s important to me now. So, a lot of vulnerability doing this for surgeons, a thousand surgeons at the Mandalay Bay. So I was actually unconsciously stressed about it for a long time. And I knew that because I’d wake up at like three, four in the morning with like heart pounding, not knowing what it was and repressing that and going, “Ah.” You talk about emotional repression. I was like, “No, no, no. This is not okay to feel.” In fact, part of the resistance pattern was, this is not okay. Why? It should not be that I’m woken up by this dumb fear. I’ve done a million of these talks. So then I go there, we do an hour rehearsal the night before to make sure that all the AV is working because the the AV team that was running it was a contracted team, and they hadn’t done a talk in over a year. So everybody said, “Oh, your slides aren’t working.” “Okay. Well, let’s make them work.” “Okay. We’ll make them work. Oh, the video’s not working.” Okay, great. An hour we go through the songs, everything. Okay, great. Go out to dinner, wonderful leadership of the organization. Connect with them, really beautiful experience. Don’t get much sleep ’cause I wake up at three in the morning. Then go to do the talk at 8:00 AM. I’m introduced, can’t see anybody because the bright lights, thousand people. And I start to go through. The first song that I do fades up, which it’s not supposed to do, so already I’m like, “When do I start singing? What’s going on?” And I’m a little thrown off but I do the song and great, okay. Then I lead in for the Vader clip, hit Play, nothing.
– [Angelo] Oh, shit.
– [Zubin] Blank slide, white, a white slide, worse than blank. Like off-putting white slide. And I’m like, “Oh, sorry. I mean, Lord Vader, here we go.” And nothing. And at this point I’m like, “Well, this is really throwing off my improv game here. So what do you guys think? Should I just like tell you what Vader says? I don’t even know what to do.” At this point, Logan, my producer is backstage, frantically yelling at these AV guys. Like, “You told us this was fixed. what are you doing?” And nothing’s happening, nothing’s happening. So finally, I’m really off, like my mind. And at this point, rage, like rage, because I’m so scared that this whole thing is ruined. I’ve never felt this way in my life on stage. I was like, “This has never happened.” I’m just a mess. I’m shaking. I’m like, “What’s going on?” And finally, Logan gets the thing to work and I know it’s working because my downstage monitor is showing the Vader clip playing. So I’m like, “Oh, okay, good. I think it’s working.” I back out, “Guys, we just found Doc Vader.” Go back, hit Play. It starts playing. Okay, while he’s talking, I sneak offstage because they kill the stage lights, and he’s talking to the audience is laughing. They’re into this clip. I’m like, “I knew it because I made it for them.” I go backstage and I get up in the AV guy’s face. And I was like, “What the fuck is wrong with you? You have one fucking job.”
– [Angelo] Oh, my god.
– [Zubin] And he looks at me and goes, “Well, it’s working now.” And just, pure rage.
– [Angelo] I can imagine.
– [Zubin] It took everything not to hit the guy. I mean, it was bad, it was bad. I don’t get like this usually, it’s unusual. And I was just like, shh… and then I went back on stage and I sat down on the stage in a lotus position, just legs crossed, and I started meditating right there and I felt the anger, and I looked at it and I’m like, “What is this, really?” This is shame, that I couldn’t recover from this AV glitch. And here’s an audience that’s engaging with Doc Vader right now and I’m feeling them, and I’m in this space, and I said, “I need to let this go right now, or the rest of this talk is done.” And the only reason I was able even to recognize and feel that and let that be and let it arise is because I’d read your book. And so then I get up, they’re laughing at the clip, and I go on with the rest of the talk and towards the end of the talk, I actually told them, I go, “Guys, I just gotta say one thing. You know in the beginning when that Vader clip wasn’t working,” it’s a thousand fricking surgeons. I was like, “I was so angry. I went backstage and I was like, ‘What are you guys doing?’ And honestly, looking,” I was talking about mindfulness. I’m like, “Looking at this emotion, that’s shame, that’s humiliation. I felt terrible that you trusted me to come and do this thing, first thing post-pandemic, make it worth coming in., and I totally screwed it up, and I felt tiny and vulnerable on stage. And I had to accept that and let it go. But that’s what I was feeling.” And it was just like, I was like, “Am I telling these people this during the talk,” and a lot of that was, again, because I’d sat with that chapter on emotion and said, “This is what this is.” I don’t know if it was good or bad, but I felt much lighter when I left there, was in the old days, I would’ve just held onto this rage and perseveration and rumination, and caused suffering for myself and everyone around me.
– [Angelo] That’s awesome, man. I mean, that’s just, that’s awesome. You felt everything. You didn’t act out too much on it.
– [Zubin] I acted out a little.
– [Angelo] Well, I mean, that happens. But, I mean, the point is you knew what you were feeling, you were allowing it to move through your system. We all have shame. We all have anger. We all have frustration. We all have those floating around in us somewhere. And if we give them the opportunity to move through our system unhindered and not act. So I wanna back up about emotion, especially anger. I mentioned this in the book, that one of the big barriers people have with anger, specifically, is the fear. And this comes from the internal parenting system. The mother, father and the child’s voice inside of you, when we teach children not to act out on anger. So Joey’s sitting there with Susie, and Joey wants to play with Susie’s truck. And so he gets mad and hits Susie in the head with something. You say, “No, no, no, Joey. You can’t act out on your anger by hitting someone in the head with something,” or whatever. You have to teach kids not to act out in harmful ways and so forth. But we throw the baby out with the bath water. They feel our own fear of our own anger when we get mad at them for expressing anger. We teach them to repress it, basically, instead of allowing them to feel it, move through it, without act.
– [Zubin] Because we’re afraid that they’re gonna hit someone, yeah.
– [Angelo] Yeah, totally. And you know, it is possible of course, to teach children to feel it, let it move through their body, but be very mindful of how they’re affecting others. And that, you wouldn’t want Susie to hit you in the head with a truck. Well, so don’t do it to her, but it’s okay to feel this. In fact, I’ll sit here and feel it with you. I’ll hold you and help you regulate your nervous system while we feel this together. And I’m gonna show you that it’s okay to feel anger. It’s okay to let this move through you. So not to go into parenting or anything like that, but it is certainly possible to experience an emotion without acting out on it, becoming so mind-identified with the story that we think it’s about that we play that story out in a violent way with another person, but just let it move through, let it move through. And often what happens is, you feel one emotion, then another one, then another one, and they’re tied together and you identified them so well. It’s uncommon that people can really see, “Oh, this is frustration and underneath frustration, because I’m willing to feel it, that’s rage. Holy shit, and underneath that is shame, and the fear of humiliation.” That’s like the sequence of emotions. Just to be able to come in contact with those, that’s human. I mean, we all have those. They’re all lined up, waiting to come move through our system to come to the surface in the right set of conditions. So what an opportunity and what a wonderful gift to give yourself, your family and everyone around you to just allow those to move through in a natural way without, as much as possible without acting out in an unconscious way about it. Because when we don’t know those are there, when you don’t know there’s anger, rage, shame, and a fear of humiliation buried deep inside us, and we’re completely mind-identified and unconscious, we act those out. We just give it to people sideways sideways.
– [Zubin] Yeah, we do it sideways.
– [Angelo] We do, we hurt people without-
– [Zubin] We passive aggressively hurt people.
– [Angelo] We’re passive aggressive, all that stuff.
– [Zubin] Doctors are really good at that. What would the surgeon do? Blame anesthesia. In a way, I was the surgeon blaming anesthesia. I was blaming the AV guys for the fact that I couldn’t, I couldn’t cope with this idea that if it didn’t go perfectly, then you know, that’s the problem with this, ’cause of this feeling of, oh my God. One thing you said is that, and you said it in the book, allowing… You actually told a beautiful story. My God, it was so beautiful. It was this woman who had recently awakened and you’d gone to Disneyland with her. And as you were walking, she was looking around like everything, wide-eyed like a child, and at one point she said, “Oh Angelo, can I just sit down for a second?” And she sat down and just started crying. And then she’s like, “Oh, that’s what sadness is. It’s so light. It just passes through like a weather system and then you feel refreshed like a light rain, and then on with the day.”
– [Angelo] Gone.
– [Zubin] Gone.
– [Angelo] She didn’t resist it in the least. Moved through her system. I could feel it with her. It felt like a weather pattern and it just moved through. It literally took a couple of minutes and she just fully embodied the sadness, the feeling of it. She literally described it, she said, “Is this what sadness is? All these years, I thought it was something else. I avoided it or pushed it down. It’s like water.” She said, “Water coming from the eyes.” That’s all it is. It’s just this experience, and then it was gone, gone completely. It just metabolized, released, and it was very enjoyable. It was enjoyable for her. She was so in wonder to experience it and then she was in wonder about the next thing that happened, and the next thing and the next thing.
– [Zubin] Yeah, all present moment kind of stuff passing through. Man, I mean, there’s a way of being in the world that’s just better. It’s not even better. It’s paradigmically transformed from how we’re conditioned. And like you said, I think there’s plenty of people who can go about in a mind-identified, thought-identified, me versus the world life and get enough satisfaction and have the suffering be tolerable that it’s okay, and they’re good to people around them and so on.
– [Angelo] Yeah, it’s interesting. I mean, I’ve met people who are extremely empathic and compassionate, extremely compassionate people who, the kind of compassion I wouldn’t expect to see in someone until really deep stages of realization, but they don’t have, they don’t seem oriented to awakening necessarily, they just move that way. So all of these aspects of realization we’re talking about, the equanimity, compassion, people embody those. I mean, again, it’s reality as reality is. So reality can do whatever it wants. So sometimes I’ll say, there are people who are waking up, but there’s no one who’s asleep. It’s very easy to sneak judgment into talking. I talked about Zen stink in the book.
– [Zubin] Zen stink, yeah.
– [Angelo] You think you’re a little better or something because you woke up.
– [Zubin] Yep, spiritual ego.
– [Angelo] And life will show you how that’s not the case again and again until it snuffs it out of ya.
– [Zubin] So one thing you said, so why is compassion, why does strong compassion arise after awakening in somebody who say, maybe didn’t have it before, or wasn’t manifesting it before?
– [Angelo] It becomes very difficult to ignore how you affect everything around you. You feel what other people are feeling far more clearly than you did before, or at least I did. It’s interesting, for me it went in phases. So after awakening, there was this huge heart opening where I just felt, it was almost overwhelming, the emotion of empathy and sympathy for suffering of the world, like everyone, everything I read, people I’d come in contact with. And I wasn’t some super compassionate person outwardly, necessarily. I was just feeling it so intensely. It was like, I didn’t even know what to do with it because part of me knew a lot of the suffering I can’t actually directly do anything about. I can’t fix it and there was a major amount of frustration with that, but I also had to feel that too. It was just embodying all of it. I just like the heartbreak of the world in a way, and people are suffering a lot, not in the ways we’re talking, but physically suffering and animals are suffering. There’s a lot of suffering that goes on in the world, and I could feel all of it. And this major heart opening happened, and yeah, I was just like, “Well, that’s how I am now, I guess.” But the weird thing is, that kind of calms down after a while because everything just gets so in the moment, so present and singular, that you can feel a strong empathic experience with somebody or compassion or whatever, but it’s very momentary and you’re not preoccupied with these things because the preoccupation turns out to be your own fear of death, your own fear of vulnerability, the preoccupation with it. It’s almost like a mental version of compassion, a little bit.
– [Zubin] Like thought generated, thought to thought, to thought, to thought, to fear, to re-live to compassion. Right.
– [Angelo] It’s kind of like you’re bargaining with the universe. Like, I’ll be really, really kind, and it can be a little fake sometimes. it depends on the person or whatever, but there are people who are genuinely, deeply, physically compassionate. I can just feel it when I’m in the room with them and I have such regard for people like that. It’s amazing. It’s amazing.
– [Zubin] Okay, ’cause I think about like, let’s say you’re a nurse in the ER and you see so much suffering and now you’re awake, or you’ve gone through the process of awakening. Will that debilitate you and make you unable to do that job?
– [Angelo] No.
– [Zubin] No.
– [Angelo] I don’t think so. You might change careers if this career didn’t feel deeply authentic for you. You certainly could, but generally speaking, people I see go through these processes, they keep the same career, generally. Sometimes they pause for awhile and then come back to a career, but they kind of have that tendency to do it anyway, the people who tend to do that from what I’ve seen. Relationships often stay intact, but if they’re, again, if they’re like not based on a lot of deep truth and there’s a lot of co-dependence, things like that, they may break up or whatever. But that’s, life happens anyway. These things happen. So I don’t think it’s super disruptive strangely, but what happens to you internally, how you experience reality moment to moment, is quite something. You can walk right past somebody who’s gone through all this and you wouldn’t necessarily know, unless you really felt into it, or talked to them for a minute or something. You’re not special. There’s nothing special. You don’t glow. It’s just that your experience of reality is very different than it used to be. My experience of reality is very different than it used to be. And it’s not something I can turn off. I can’t decide how to experience it. It’s just how it is.
– [Zubin] And I’ll just, I’ll say like you and I, we’re the same generation. We love comedy. We get along on a relative level like two people would get along better than most. And so, there’s nothing like weird and woo and spooky about you in that sense. We could just hang out if-
– [Angelo] Boo!
– [Zubin] Ah! Shit, god damn it, Angelo. I told you.
– [Angelo] Sorry, I had to do that.
– [Zubin] Yeah, don’t do that. So I believe that, I think that’s true. You embody humanity quite well. But my wife had a question because I told her your story and she’s like, “Wait, this guy woke up BEFORE going to medical school.” She said, “How the hell did he tolerate the bullshit that we go through in medical school?” So, what are your thoughts on that? You went to medical school after you woke up.
– [Angelo] That’s a good question. Yeah, I did. I did it a few years after. I think, for one thing, I probably wouldn’t have had the capacity to go through medical school without that, because there was so much anxiety, and that was the problem I had to deal with. I thought it was me that was the problem, but that was something that just had to be dealt with and I don’t think I would have had the focus and drive and long-term goal setting capabilities to go through med school without it, to be honest. But a few years after the awakening, I just kind of was like, what else am I gonna do? I mean, I might as well do something that… When I was a child, I kinda thought like, I wanna be a doctor, and I don’t really know where I got that idea, but I thought, why not just do something challenging? And it’s the kind of thing, as you know, once you get into it and you start getting loans and all that, and you’re kinda like, “What’d I do to myself? Do I really want to do this?” But now you’re along for the ride. There’s no turning back, but in the end it turned out great. I mean, I really love the job. It’s a great career. It’s a great profession. But yeah, going through the process of training, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if I was a lot different than other people. There’s aspects of it that sucked. It was, you know, the internship year is like the worst year of my life, or whatever, probably in certain ways.
– [Zubin] That’s, it’s so interesting to me. And you did family medicine first and were board certified in it, right?
– [Angelo] Mm-hm.
– [Zubin] And then went back and did anesthesia.
– [Angelo] Mm-hm, yeah.
– [Zubin] And you told me something the other day and I think that’s just for our medical audience. Is it okay if I tell a story about physician burnout, in general, or…
– [Angelo] Sure.
– [Zubin] Yeah. Yeah. So, you were in a meeting and they were talking about burnout, and they’re talking about the EHR, and all this, and you were there and you’re like, “Yeah, burnout, what’s that?” What you realized was, there was so much externalization of the pain that physicians were feeling that was real, and almost no acknowledgement of the actual emotion driving some of that pain. There was this tacit understanding that you’re gonna repress the emotion and just focus it into, “Well, it’s the EHR or it’s this or it’s that,” instead of like, “Why am I frustrated? What is that emotion? Maybe I should feel that.” Can you talk about that a little bit?
– [Angelo] Well, I mean, I just have noticed there’s more talk of wellness and even meditation and these kinds of practices. There’s more technology around how to address burnout, reduce burnout, get physicians help that need it and that sort of thing. And I’ve heard these kinds of discussions and talks many times and I don’t have… I think it’s great. I don’t have any specific opinion about it. I think it’s great that it’s becoming mainstream, not just for physicians, but for all professions, hopefully. But the one thing I noticed seems like a little bit odd that it’s absent is a lot of talk about emotion. And I think that’s interesting. I don’t know if it has to do with the sort of the academia, the academic world, or physicians specifically, or what but yeah, not talking about the emotional aspect because to me that’s probably what leads to burnout more than anything is how we work or don’t work with our emotions, whether we’re even able to admit or see in ourself that that’s what’s driving a lot of what’s making us feel like we’re struggling, like we’re overworking ourselves, et cetera. That’s the kind of thing I would think that to address directly would be like a lot of bang for the buck. So, I don’t have like a strong opinion about this stuff ’cause I don’t want to do this kind of work in the professional sector. But yeah, I dunno, it seems notoriously absent, but this really leads to kind of a wider comment and that is, emotional repression is a pandemic. I mean, it just is. And I think we’re starting to learn about that. We’re starting to learn about emotional intelligence and teaching kids in school about it, which I think is hugely important. To teach children about tolerance with emotion, and their own emotion, how to experience emotion without acting out on it but acknowledge it, recognize what it is. We’re humans, we’re mammals. We’re going to feel emotions. To deny that, to me, is just absurd. When you were in school, were you ever pulled aside and given classes or workshops on how to work when you’re feeling intense emotions, or intelligence about what you’re actually feeling?
– [Zubin] No way.
– [Angelo] No, we never learned that stuff. We had kids that were bullies and all that kind of stuff. So, I think that, kind of, even aside from the whole awakening talk, a big shift I think is gonna really, really help people a lot with burnout, with anxiety, with various things is going to be a shift to a place where, as a society, we understand emotion, understand it well, but we understand how to work with it. Not from some scientific aspect, or point of view necessarily, but more like an experiential point of view. That’s the key with this because we tend to repress emotion and we tend to do it by mind identification, we tend to go up here into the intellect and that’s how we separate from emotion, using more intellect to understand emotion is kind of like not, it’s kind of a funny thing, right? It’s like more of the same almost.
– [Zubin] Right.
– [Angelo] So it’s fine, and we should study it, we should study all these things and put money into it, or whatever. But the key to me is experiential, in my opinion. And it’s to actually learn how to feel, to know what you’re feeling, to acknowledge what you’re feeling, to be willing to feel it, to know what it feels like when it moves through your body, and recognize it’s okay to feel everything. So some people are very comfortable with certain emotions and not comfortable with others. So some people, I think, are very comfortable with like sadness, letting go, grief. They’re not okay with anger. They just don’t even believe it’s in them. And vice versa, some people, they can get angry real easy. They’re really good at it. It works for them, but they will never admit vulnerability, or feeling sad, or fear of humiliation. Does that make sense? So, we’re kind of wired sometimes to avoid certain emotions, or really not acknowledge certain emotional aspects of ourself based on our conditions, how we’re brought up and so forth. So, a deep understanding of emotional intelligence in the way I’m talking about an experiential understanding, allows everything. It realizes everything is allowed here. It’s okay to feel shame. It’s totally okay to feel that. It’s okay to feel regret. It’s okay to feel remorse, sadness, grief, happiness, joy, elation. All these are just textures of the physical experience of being alive in a body. So yeah.
– [Zubin] And they are, they’re physical sensations.
– [Angelo] They are physical sensations. That’s the weird thing about this is, when an emotion’s repressed, I talked about the emotional cascade in the book, right?
– [Zubin] Yeah.
– [Angelo] When an emotion’s repressed, it’s like you don’t feel it. It’s very heady. You have a story about it and the story is very distorted. You don’t understand what you’re doing and what the other person is doing. When you can finally come in contact with the emotion, you’re like, “Oh, it’s just, it’s a feeling. It’s an emotion. I can see the story, but I can also feel the emotion.” And the more you sort of move in that direction, you start to realize they’re like, they are like weather patterns. They’re like, moving through your physiology, emotions moving through the physiology. It becomes enjoyable. It’s just the movement of energy.
– [Zubin] I have experienced that during meditation recently after reading that chapter. And it is almost like, sometimes I’ll get a fear response, or something and I’ll go, “What is that? What is that? Feel that. Feel that.” And actually, there was a thing that you did in the book where you said, anger, almost talk to it in a sense like, oh, you’re like a little puppy dog that needs to come out and you need to be seen and you’re gonna bark and you’ll do this, and embrace it and go, “You’re accepted. Stay as long as you like. You’re supposed to be here. You have my attention. Do your thing and take all the time you need.” And by doing that, it becomes this joyful expression. But it’s very different because all the stories you tell about it, “Well, why am I so? What’s got me so mad and scared? What’s going… ” Instead it’s just like, “Oh, look at that pattern of energy.” And like you said, the story is still there. It’s go, “Oh, I see this because I’m worried the mechanic’s gonna charge me $2,000 for this thing and I’m gonna get mad.” But just feeling it allows it to pass through and you’re right, it’s like almost a joyful experience. Yeah. I mean, you point to so much truth in the book. You also have an app called, what? Simply Awake?
– [Angelo] Simply Awake, yeah.
– [Zubin] Simply Awake that you can-
– [Angelo] It’s on iOS right now. And the gentlemen who wrote it for me did it just out of the goodness of his heart. Really, really nice guy, Mark Lackey. So, he is going to convert it to Android soon.
– [Zubin] Perfect, and what it is, it’s like a series of recordings that you’ve made where you’ve synthesized the music and you’re pointing in the recording. And I found some of those to be just amazing. Really, there’s one called “Palpable Presence” where you just kind of talk through, from the state that you’re describing, kind of what’s going on and it progresses and starts out. You’re just, you know, right there. Sometimes when we meditate, this happens, and then by the end of it, you’re like pure, infinite contact. And I’m there with you. So, that’s a wonderful tool. The book is called “Awake: It’s Your Turn” and it’s on Kindle right now, and I’ll put links to that. And the reason I’m saying all this is that I gotta, I’m probably gonna have to wrap up this episode because we’re going to run out of card, but then we’re going to do more episodes because this is like, again, right now in my life, it’s the most important thing because it then gives the tools to actually deal with things in life, on their own terms, as they’re happening, like actually accept life. And to me, it’s incredibly powerful and I think it is to a lot of people. Is there an alarm going off? Do you hear that?
– [Angelo] Yeah.
– [Zubin] Oh, is that yours?
– [Angelo] I think it’s my phone, yeah.
– [Zubin] Awesome. All right, well it’s a great time. So guys, Angela DiLullo. What’s a good way to find you? You got a website, too, right?
– [Angelo] Oh yeah. So I have a website called SimplyAlwaysAwake.com. And I haven’t done a ton with the website but I do have some videos on there and some writing, and I’ll probably do a little bit more with it and get links on there for the book and stuff like that. So, yeah.
– [Angelo] And you and I, it’s like stepbrothers, man. It’s like, okay.
– [Angelo] You said there are gonna be nunchucks here. Are we gonna do a nunchuck video?
– [Zubin] A nunchuck video, exactly. It’s the Catalina effing wine mixer. We’re going to do a nunchuck video. We’re gonna do some more videos, particularly for supporters. We’re gonna do a live video if we can. And Z-Pac, I’m gonna put a link to the book. If this calls to you, only if it does, get this book and let me know what you think ’cause this is a journey we’ll be on together. We’ll get Angelo back a bunch of times if he’s willing to do it. And I don’t know, guys, this is just like so awesome. Angelo, thank you. I’m so grateful to you for just the effect you’ve had on my life. In what, a couple of months?
– [Angelo] Yeah, we met pretty recently.
– [Zubin] Yeah, it’s crazy. It’s just, these things happen. You got to just-
– [Angelo] Yeah, it’s been great meeting you. I laugh every time I read one of your texts.
– [Zubin] Yeah, my texts are a little disturbing, yeah.
– [Angelo] It’s fun.
– [Zubin] All right, guys. Thank you so much. Share this video and we are out. Peace.
– [Angelo] Adios.
– [Zubin] Adios.