A deeper dive into the nitty gritty of spiritual awakening.

This is the second interview in our series Awakening, Explained with my guest Dr. Angelo DiLullo. Angelo is a practicing anesthesiologist and author of the book “Awake: It’s Your Turn.”

In this episode we discuss the nature of unbound consciousness, the role of inquiry and curiosity in awakening, how “just stop” can be a powerful gateway, the nature of beliefs as a hindrance to awakening, the importance of humility and authenticity on the path, the origins of the sense of “self” in childhood, the nature of non-dual reality/radical intimacy/love, the question “What Is This?” as inquiry, insane comedic interlude featuring constipation/Sesame Street jokes, what are thoughts, how does thought relate to suffering and the creation of a false “self” and much more.


Get Angelo’s book and download his free meditation app here.

The rest of our Awakening, Explained interview series can be found here.

Timecodes for topics covered 

0:00 Intro

2:09 The nature of unbound consciousness

30:55 The role of inquiry and curiosity in awakening

35:58 How “just stop” can be a powerful gateway

41:03 The nature of beliefs as a hindrance to awakening

44:48 The importance of humility and authenticity on the path

53:20 The origins of the sense of “self” in childhood

54:32 The nature of non-dual reality/radical intimacy/love

01:03:51 The question “What is This?” as inquiry

01:09:15 Insane comedic interlude featuring constipation/Sesame Street jokes

01:15:24 What is the nature of thought?

1:22:23 How does thought relate to suffering and the creation of a false “self”?


Full Transcript Below

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– [Zubin] Hey guys, ZDoggMD. Dr. Angelo DiLullo, we’re back. Angelo wrote a book called “Awake: It’s Your Turn.” We did a show about it. It’s gonna be linked in here. Now we’re just gonna talk about awakening, enlightenment, meditation, consciousness, anything and everything, man. Welcome back.

– [Angelo] Thank you.

– [Zubin] Dude, I like your shirt, bro.

– [Angelo] Isn’t that great?

– [Zubin] It’s very now-tro. It’s like a mix of retro and today.

– [Angelo] It’s my lucky shirt.

– [Zubin] Is it really? No, I just, I don’t know. I love it though. Actually, it’s my favorite shirt right now.

– [Zubin] It’s very bright.

– [Angelo] Definitely.

– [Zubin] I love it, yeah. And we can only see the tip of it on the camera, but that’s all that, that’s all that needs to be seen.

– [Angelo] Sometimes you just need the tip.

– [Zubin] Exactly. So the last time we talked, we talked in depth about your book, about awakening, spiritual awakening. And I think we probably intrigued enough people that now I’m here just to learn from you. We switched positions, too. Last time you were the boss, now I’m still not the boss. You are still a tremendous resource for learning about this stuff for people who are going through this path. So this is more like the masters class where we just talk about stuff that I think is fascinating and 5% of the audience will think so too.

– [Angelo] Right.

– [Zubin] So we were talking about, earlier, there’s a distinction on the path to realization of our true nature. And even that like sounds a little spooky, right? Like what is this, our true nature, our birthright, what is this? It sounds like woo-woo, you know. But really, what it is is just the nature of unfiltered reality. And when we talked about it last time, you said the filtering is really these perceptual distortions that our mind creates that categorizes us into self-other, identifying with thoughts, beliefs around stuff, as opposed to the raw information coming from the world and the distinction between that. And it’s kind of a continuum of awakening. It doesn’t always happen that way, but it seems like-

– [Angelo] I should write this down. I need to get this in my book.

– [Zubin] You better take notes.

– [Angelo] This is good.

– [Zubin] Are you learning from me, Angelo?

– [Angelo] This is great. It’s right on the money, man.

– [Zubin] Hey, I read your book, so actually this is how I got it. And actually, beyond that, just talking to you. So partially on that continuum of the question, one of the questions I had is this idea of unbound consciousness. You talk about it in the book. A lot of spiritual people talk about it and say, you know, this pure sense of I or I am, this sort of witnessing consciousness that’s witnessing all these phenomenon. And the question I had asked you earlier, even off camera, was, well, isn’t that just yet another subject that we’re creating in our mind that then is witnessing experience, or is it different than that?

– [Angelo] It’s different than that. It’s when that stops happening. When subjectification, as I described in the book, stops happening, then you could call that unbound consciousness. It’s the movement in consciousness to create a subject and a object, to operate with a sense of a thinker. And that which the thinker is contemplating, observing, thinking about, judging, et cetera, is so fundamental to our functioning. It’s so natural. It’s not fully natural, but it’s so common, it feels like who we are. It’s very, well, it’s impossible to imagine what it’s like without that operating, but it’s hard to even sense what it’s like without that operating, because again, the momentum of mind is pretty powerful. But it’s actually quite simple. So the experience of pure, unbound consciousness is one of the harder things to point to, in my experience. I see a lot of teachers talk about it and point to it, in good ways, but it’s still, you can see how it’s a little off. You can see how the mind wants to pick it up and turn it into something, which requires a subject-object conformation to do.

– [Zubin] That’s what I feel, yeah.

– [Angelo] The mind hears this and it says, “Okay, cool. Let me understand that.” This isn’t something you can understand by definition. It’s when understanding sort of stops in the moment and in the pure ability to behold awakeness in the mind is just realized. It becomes very obvious. This isn’t a “Oh, I got it” moment where you understand something. It’s a pure experience. And it can happen before an awakening. Or as an awakening is occurring, this can be the primary experience and identity shifts out of a constantly shifting mind-identified, subject-object conformation into this experience itself and it will feel literally like everything is consciousness. You may not even use those words, because there may not be no thoughts at all. In fact, there are often are no thoughts or there can be very subtle thought movement. But the key is that the subject-object experience inside consciousness is stopped. Does that make sense?

– [Zubin] So it’s the pure awareness-awakeness aspect of being, in other words, I know that I exist because I have this sense of is-ness.

– [Angelo] And do that without the thought you just said.

– [Zubin] That’s the hard part.

– [Angelo] It’s like you lead yourself there with a thought, and you back into it and stop. That’s kinda how it happens. And this is a very strange thing, because it can be very frustrating to try to go around in circles with this, with the mind or with thought, but trying is valuable and inquiry is valuable. At some point, it will click. Or you’ll hear somebody talk about it, even, who can point well to it, and it’ll click it. But it can click. And when it does click, it’s pretty remarkable. It’s like, “Oh, the container in which I’ve always been, is the being and the being is the thinking and the thinking is the thought, and everything I’ve ever thought about my life and the world is all the same stuff.” It’s pure unbound awakeness. And that’s why I like, the word awakening is actually quite good for that first shift, because there’s just awakeness. It’s the most obvious thing in the world. It’s undeniable, and yet there’s no thought content. You’re completely aware, completely aware. It’s very, I don’t wanna say relaxing. It’s a very neutral, enjoyable, peaceful experience, but it’s contentless. It’s not a big deal. You’re not jumping up and down inside going, “I’m having a spiritual experience.” There’s no thoughts, it’s just pure. And here’s the interesting thing: most people, once they can kind of come into this confirmation of consciousness or relax into it or whatever, once they start to taste it and they really can vibe with it and kind of stay there, they will often say, “This reminds me of childhood,” that, “I remember this from like way before I was even a thinking child. Like I remember this.” A lot of people have said that. And I would say that’s probably exactly right, you probably do remember this before you started thinking, or when you were a young child, between thoughts, there was just unbound consciousness. It’s kind of like a wonder, an awe, a natural enjoyment, just a flow. You’re not thinking about, “Oh, what am I gonna be doing five minutes from now when mom calls me in the house?” You’re just engaged in life, right? It has that quality. It’s very innocent. So this is that unbound consciousness.

– [Zubin] Innocence. And it’s funny because, when you look at a kid, a baby, a baby, you see them doing this thing.

– [Angelo] Totally.

– [Zubin] And a lot of parents are like, “What is he thinking? What’s he dreaming?” And you’re like, “No, that’s the wrong.” No, you can intuit it and remember it, ’cause I’ve brushed against unbound consciousness, and then run away in horror because my mind tries to turn it into an object or a concept. So it experiences it and goes, “Oh, this is unbound co-, goddammit.” And immediately, it evaporates. But as a young child, I remember that sense. And actually, recently while meditating, I had this brush and I suddenly remembered the experience of being a child. And it is, it’s an awe-like fascination with what’s happening in the moment.

– [Angelo] That’s right, without calling it anything, labeling it, judging it, putting it at a distance. That’s right. It’s a pure fascination.

– [Zubin] Pure fascination. And when you say putting it at a distance, see, this is I think, a very important… It’s hard to point to with words, it seems, but we create distance between a perceived subject and the object of what we’re perceiving. Like, for example, this incredibly important, science the crap out of it ZDoggMD merchandise. Like if I’m looking at it, I’ve created in my mind a subject me behind my eyes looking at an object that’s separate from me. And you’re saying it’s possible in awakening to actually experience that object as the object.

– [Angelo] So you’re talking about a sort of deeper aspect of realization. When I say no subject-object construct in consciousness, I mean very specifically in consciousness. So, often, the terminology of subject-object construct that can be dissolved is used in the description of non-duality. And this is a later state of realization where you literally experience sense phenomenon as non-dualistic. So it’s not here or there, it’s more like it’s both here and there. It’s more like it’s everywhere, but it’s not like anything, because it’s too real, too close, too intimate to describe. And that is literally how everything is all the time. That’s non-dual. But the gateway to that, often, is coming in contact with unbound consciousness, learning to trust it, staying with it. Often, that comes with this big shift we talked about in the last show, called awakening. And as you go through that, on the other side, there kind of is only unbound consciousness. And, often, people will actually believe that there is only unbound consciousness, that’s all there is, that, literally, the universe is made out it, the external universe is like made out of consciousness.

– [Zubin] I’ve heard that a lot.

– [Angelo] Right, and I don’t wanna say it’s wrong. It’s very much right for that stage, because what you realize is everything you ever thought and everything you ever thought about what you thought, including ideas you have about yourself, life, past, future, family members, everything, all of it, all of that is made out of consciousness. And once you experience yourself as that consciousness, then there’s this undeniable intimacy with everything. And it’s accessible very easily, usually, when you sit and you meditate and you’re alone or in nature or just sit quietly for a moment, but it’s not super stable, often, when interacting with the world and with other people. And I’m getting into like really subtle details about this, but that’s an important point.

– [Zubin] I like it.

– [Angelo] And the reason it is not stable is because there’s still a misperception of identity, of I am that consciousness. So some people experience this that I’m talking about, this unbound consciousness, as a really potent, obvious, self-validating, more-real-than-real sense of I am. It’s I am without the thought I am. It’s just so obvious. I am pure amness, pure being. And then it can even, depending on the person and the situation and whatever, it can start to feel very much like, also more like I am everything. But this is not the same kind of non-duality that I’m talking about when I say the subject-object construct in the sense world disappears. It seemed to have been an illusion the whole time. Very different thing. It’s down the road. But you do taste it, you taste that with the unbound consciousness stage. It won’t feel like a stage. You’ll feel enlightened.

– [Zubin] You’ll feel enlightened.

– [Angelo] When there’s unbound consciousness, like right after an awakening and that’s all there is, you basically feel enlightened. But you wouldn’t even say that to yourself. There’s just, there’s nothing to contemplate. There’s nothing to think about. You’re just enjoying the pure being so much. The being is enjoying itself. There’s nothing to do, really. You still do things. You still get up and move. Everything feels very spontaneous. And there’s various degrees of that sense of interconnection. And even the taste of real non-dual does come and go in that stage. But then, often it leads to the next stage we talked about earlier where the honeymoon phase kind of goes away and you start to get back into the conditioning and you very much remember what it was like and you turn that into an object and get really upset that it’s not there anymore. You think you’ve lost it like, but you gotta work through the conditioning and all that, make sense?

– [Zubin] It makes sense intellectually. I think I have to sit and experience unbound consciousness in the sense that, what is it unbound from? It’s unbound from subject-object, it’s unbound from thought and content?

– [Angelo] Yeah, so here’s another way of saying it. I can point to it a few different ways, and sometimes one of these ways might just click with somebody, or sometimes you just gotta sit with it for awhile and inquire and then it just clicks. So another way of saying it is, when you’re thinking about whatever you’re thinking, if you’re sitting in this room alone and I’m not here, probably, in most people’s mind, there’s images of something that’s not happening right here. My wife, my husband, my kids, what I did at work, the conversation I had, whatever, what I’m gonna eat for dinner, like images in the mind, right? We can all relate. That’s happening a lot. 70,000 thoughts a day, default mode network. So that’s happening, right? Those images are going on. It’s not too hard to recognize, “Oh, those are all thoughts.” Now, some people, I think, are so identified with the thoughts, they don’t even realize they’re thinking. They just think that’s actually happening. Or we kind of perceive it that way. We just go along with the flow of thoughts so much that we forget, we kind of conveniently forget, “No, I’m actually sitting here in a room. My boss isn’t yelling at me right now. They’re not even here physically.” But I’m thinking that, and it becomes so identified, it really feels like that’s happening. But the first level of de-identification is realizing, no, that’s a thought. Oh, and the thought about what happened after that, that’s also a thought. And then the thought that says, “Hm, I wonder if I’m just a jerk and that’s why my boss wants to fire me,” oh, that’s another thought. That’s de-identifying from thoughts and seeing, “Oh, it’s just a thought stream right here, right now.” So that’s another level of de-identification. But even once you’re de-identify to that point, there’s something that’s very, very easy to overlook, and that is this, and that’s what I’m pointing to, is that all of those thoughts, your life, your family, your past, your future, your job, your problems, your solutions, all of those thoughts, those are all on the objective pole. The one thing you’re really not aware of, typically at this stage, is the subjective pole as the thinker. The thinker itself is a thought, just like those are thoughts. And when that’s seen clearly enough, or you just keep inquiring, who am I, who is the thinker, who’s aware of this thought, that subject can kind of come into focus as another thought, somehow. And usually, when that happens, it kind of coincides with the subject and object collapsing into each other, because they’re all made out of consciousness. And that’s when it’s like, “Oh my God, all these problems and things I was thinking about all this time and all this stuff and the potential solutions and struggle, all consciousness, all pure unbound consciousness right here. No need to think about it, done.” It’s very peaceful. Does that help?

– [Zubin] That’s very helpful.

– [Angelo] So that’s one way to lead into that, experientially.

– [Zubin] Experientially, so you really experience it, again, as everything is this, I am-ness. That’s the wrong word.

– [Angelo] For some people, it really feels like that.

– [Zubin] It feels like that.

– [Angelo] It feels very much like, I am this. It’s like the I is the most obvious thing there is. And it can almost sound like egotistical, but it’s not.

– [Zubin] But it’s not.

– [Angelo] It’s experience, it’s pure experience.

– [Zubin] Right, so when you’re saying, when you’re doing inquiry, you know, the classic thing, who am I, who am I, who am I, your point is, you’re looking back and going, it’s almost like, who am I not, by experiencing everything. “Is there a thinker there? Well, where is that thinker? There’s a little pressure behind my eyes. Is that it? It feels like me. Oh, no, actually in my mind, I see an image of my face projected to you. So that must be me, right? Because I’m my face. No, if I look at it, that’s just an image. That’s just a thought. Let me look back further.”

– [Angelo] Yeah, who’s looking at that?

– [Zubin] Who’s looking at that? Oh.

– [Angelo] And it can get very quiet very quickly.

– [Zubin] And it just did.

– [Angelo] And you can just stop there, right? We won’t do that on the show, ’cause we’ll just sit here and stare at each other.

– [Zubin] And honestly, I could do that all day.

– [Angelo] In practice, in practice, you can just stop there. It’s really a very simple thing. It’s a stopping. It’s not a big deal. It’s not a big spiritual or religious thing. It’s just an act of pure being, an act of participating in that which has been, through all the years you can remember, doing the thinking, seemingly, and having the thoughts. And it seeming to separate itself into a thought and a thinker, a thought and a thinker, me and my life, me and my problem. When that subject-object construct just calms down enough and stops, it’s almost like two waves on an ocean that they kind of just dissolve finally into the ocean.

– [Zubin] And then you’re the ocean.

– [Angelo] Yeah, it feels like a much more vast self or being or place, and you don’t have to do anything to maintain it.

– [Zubin] So it self-maintains, it’s self-validating, because it feels more real than what we took for reality before.

– [Angelo] Yeah, definitely, more real than real is really kind of like a litmus test for it, in a sense. It doesn’t need a litmus test once this really clarifies. It’s like, “Oh, whoa.”

– [Zubin] You know it. You know it. So one thing that you pointed out was, after that initial awakening where you experience unbound consciousness and the dissolution into the ocean of awareness, or consciousness as everything, you use an analogy in the book that I thought was great, and it’s actually very, on some level, disturbing, because when you encounter it from an egoic standpoint, in other words, from this idea that I’m a separate self and you read about, okay, imagine all this time, from birth, in a diabolical experiment, you were put into a chamber with VR goggles on and told, “This is the world.” And maybe when you were born, you were born into the real world. And then they put the goggles on you, but you have this vague recollection of the real world, but then you’re back in this goggle thing. And you grow up, and then at some point, you start feeling like, “This is not pleasant. Like, there’s some pressure or something’s not right. I’m not happy. This is not happening.” And at some point, you get glimpses. And then the goggles come off, and you see the actual world. And the analogy then is to experiencing unbound consciousness without the thinker itself and having this like, “Wow, oh.” More real than real, “Oh, there’s no doubt this is the real world.” But then that stage that you talked about where the ego kind of comes back and it can actually feel worse sometimes, that’s when you put the VR goggles back on after having had the experience of awakening and going back into the simulation and how that feels.

– [Angelo] Sometimes you do, yeah. Well, you know, as I mentioned in the previous talk or discussion we had, after the awakening, and this is true for most people and to just reiterate in case it’s not clear in this program, but this doesn’t always go the same way for everyone, there are definitely variations to this, for sure, but I would say these are reasonably consistent movements in this process for people, but after that initial big shift, that opening, awakening, it’s very common to come in contact with a lot of conditioning, repressed emotion. And when you come in contact with it, you come in contact with it in a more direct way than you were actually able to before awakening. And that’s a little dismaying. You’re like, “No, I want that thing I remember of the pure consciousness. I want that.” But part of you is like, “But it’s still here. It’s not not here. I’m just called to now come in contact with this other stuff that I’d rather not come in contact with.” So all of that happens because of the unbound consciousness. And you usually, most people are able to, and with some good pointing, usually can, sit in that unbound consciousness at times. It won’t be there all the time for you, necessarily. But after like this honeymoon period of a few weeks to months to, I’ve even heard of like a couple of years, where it’s kind of there all the time, but after that, when the conditioning starts coming and the emotions and so forth, the repressed material and the resistance patterns you have to come in contact with, as that starts coming, usually you still have the ability to sit in that unbound consciousness or that pure sense of I am when you’re meditating. You usually have pretty clear access to it.

– [Zubin] During meditation, yeah.

– [Angelo] But not always. It’s interesting, some people kind of forget about it somehow for a while and then it comes back. And again, this is variable, and not everyone goes through this exactly the same way or perceives it the same way. Also, a lot of the details of what I’m talking about are elucidated and clear later down the road in looking back. Like, I don’t know if I could have talked this articulately about this when I went through it. What was clear was so obvious, but I had no context for it. And yet, the knowing was so freaking clear that, in a way, the world seemed unreal for awhile. I mean, it was just so beyond. But that was a whole different part of the awakening that I didn’t really get into yet. The initial phase, that unbound consciousness was so enjoyable to me, ’cause I had like suffered with a lot of anxiety and stuff before that. But to be able to be in a world, an internal world, that’s right here, present, clear, quite relaxing, and there’s no content, there’s no thought content, and yet, I’m perfectly here, it’s just clear, being is just this, it was so obvious. To be in that was so enjoyable for me, in contrast to what was before it, that I remember thinking, “Oh, I’ll basically just do this all the time. When I’m not at work or going to school or whatever I’m doing, I’ll just come home and sit in this, because it’s so freaking enjoyable,” you know? And that was the first stage for me. And again, it was also a knowing that I don’t really have to sit in it, it’s already here and I was carrying it around with me a lot of the time. And even in activity, it would just clarify itself often. So that’s unbound consciousness and that’s a, I would call it a stage of realization, but the unbound consciousness itself isn’t necessarily a stage of realization as much as the disentangling of identity from bound consciousness into the unbound experience of consciousness. It’s the movement of identity that matters.

– [Zubin] The shift in identity.

– [Angelo] The shift in identity. Because, again, some people experience this as a very profound, oceanic, you know, earth shattering experience of being. And some would call it pure sense of I am, and others, it’s just very quiet. So there’s different perceptions of that, for sure.

– [Zubin] Help me understand, a lot of times you describe as this boundless quality, like it has no edges, it’s unbound in the sense that it has no boundaries. Help me understand that, because it feels like, in this room right now, even if this were all consciousness in my mind-identified state, well, there’s boundaries here. Like, I don’t see beyond the wall. I can’t experience the rest of the universe. Like, it’s just this right here.

– [Angelo] But what is the universe to you right now?

– [Zubin] Well, in my mind it’s… Oh!

– [Angelo] it’s in your mind.

– [Zubin] I see what you’re doing. The universe is a thought. The universe is a thought of galaxies and planets and infinite amounts of space. And it’s a thought! Ah. So what is the universe?

– [Angelo] You learned about it. Did you know about that thought when you were nine months old staring up at the wall?

– [Zubin] Hell no, the universe was… What’s a universe? It’s just this, this is just what there is.

– [Angelo] I’m talking experientially now. I’m not making a statement about science.

– [Zubin] you haven’t made a statement about the universe, yeah.

– [Angelo] But this is compatible with science, as we talked about earlier today. We talked about quantum field theory and quantum field theory, from what, I’m not a physicist, but from what I understand and I’ve read a good amount on it, it’s the most kind of elegant model we have in physics. It’s the most empirically proven model, quantum field theory. And quantum field theory would say there is no matter.

– [Zubin] That’s right.

– [Angelo] There is no matter. The electron field is a field of perturbations, fluctuations, and changes in the energy field, energy level, but it’s not an object and it doesn’t have objects in it. It’s one thing, right? Every electron in the universe is not an electron. Our mind can’t even start to understand that. And yet, it’s scientifically proven beyond what most scientific theories can prove. Light, just look at light. For a photon, a massless photon, it experiences time as eternity, right? It experiences where it starts and where it ends at the same exact time. There’s also no distance, right? Length and time dilation and length contraction.

– [Zubin] At the speed of light, exactly.

– [Angelo] At the speed of light. So from the photon’s perspective-

– [Zubin] It’s eternal and spaceless.

– [Angelo] Right, but we believe our thoughts over proven science.

– [Zubin] Well, and this is something I talked about on the show with Bernardo Kastrup and Federico Faggin, like we have these beliefs about stuff being stuff. Whereas, in reality, even quantum mechanics is pointing at something that is so counterintuitive that we just go, “Oh, this is just weird, it’s weird quantum stuff.” And the woo-woo people use the term quantum anytime they wanna say, “Well, you know.” But the truth is, no, it’s actually pointing at I think what experientially actually may happen, which is this is a field of potential and things… Actually, as you get into further stages of realization when you describing the book, it gets really spooky. Like it almost feels like reading about quantum mechanics a little bit, like particles popping into existence from nothing and then popping out of existence, like having all phenomena are like that. But we’ll probably get to that.

– [Angelo] That gets very difficult to talk about, that kind of stuff. But it’s just, there’s no mental model for it. The mind can’t even begin to come in contact with that. But as this process plays out with some good pointing, and there’s good pointers out there, you can kind of ascertain what the next step is, the next stage, and how to inquire for it, to clarify it, so to dissolve the various perceptual filters that keep those aspects operating as you go along. So to kind of like lay it all out at the beginning, it’s a bit much, it’s just all gonna sound the same. But there are subtler and subtler perceptual filters that actually have very profound, they cause very profound shifts in your moment-to-moment experience of reality. And the weird thing is, it’s no big deal. It is a big deal, but it’s no big deal. And you don’t look different. You don’t start glowing. You don’t start having super powers. It’s nothing like that. There are many people who’ve gone through this, and more and more all the time, actually.

– [Zubin] Yeah, apparently I’m sitting in front of one now and there’s minimal glowing. I mean, it might just be from your vaccination.

– [Angelo] It might be.

– [Zubin] Yeah, it’s that 5G.

– [Angelo] Why did they give it to me in the ass?

– I thought it was supposed to be in the arm, but. It was a one-in-a-million shot, you see. The one thing you said in our previous interview that I think is important that I meant to follow up on when we were talking is, you can meditate your ass off for decades in a monastery and never wake up. And it may benefit your mind, it may provide you concentration powers, it may provide you actually equanimity in some degree, but the waking up is a different shift. And it seems like you almost need to really want it, be open to it, surrender to it. It takes work, but it’s a different kind of work. It’s almost like a propulsion of curiosity. Can you speak to that a little bit?

– [Angelo] I think you just said it perfectly.

– [Zubin] Well then, fuck all that.

– [Angelo] I mean, it really, it’s true. Meditation doesn’t wake you up necessarily, per se. I’m not against meditation. I think it’s great. I recommend everybody meditate if you feel inclined to do so whether you’re interested in this subject or not, but it doesn’t equate to awakening. It’s not the same thing, really. If I could point to a technique that… It’s very paradoxical to talk about this. There are people who are very much awake who would say even talking about any sort of technique to wake yourself up is only a thing that can even be done by that, the separate sense of self in the mind that’s itself an illusion and has no power over anything at all. So it’s completely nonsense. So to even talk this way is kind of nonsense. They would just point very directly and point to the complete absurdity to be a self trying to move through and experience a realization to get somewhere else, because that illusion itself is what’s perpetuating the sense of separation. So when that stops, however it happens where the self collapses, then reality is revealed naturally to itself.

– [Zubin] To itself because that’s all there is.

– [Angelo] Period, it’s done. Done deal, there was never anyone in there. So there’s that way of talking about it, but it’s not the only way of talking about it. So when you understand that paradigm, when you can sense why someone would actually speak that way, and they’re not wrong, then you really gotta ask yourself, well, what is a technique? What is the value of any technique? And I would say that every technique there is, including meditation, mindfulness practice, et cetera, really can kind of get co-opted by the ego at some point. It just can, the ego’s the ultimate opportunist, right? It can get comfortable anywhere, even in pain, because at least with pain, it can still survive because it can keep telling me the story that I’m just gonna stop this pain, right? So the ego can kind of keep itself alive in a lot of different environments. I will say that there’s one approach, and I wouldn’t necessarily call it technique if it’s done properly and I wrote about it in the book that can kind of force hack this system, and that’s inquiry.

– [Zubin] Inquiry, yeah.

– [Angelo] But inquiry is not a technique, because you’re not doing something. You’re not causing something to happen. You’re not making the universe do what you think you want it to do. No, you’re asking a question. But here’s the thing with inquiry, it’s not a special technique. And I didn’t make it up. It’s nothing like that. What drives the inquiry is the most important thing, and what drives it is your desire to wake up, your desperation with the suffering of life, your deep, deep yearning to know what’s what, what is this really about, what is really going on here, right? That kind of yearning combined with a certain dissatisfaction, combined with a certain doubt mass, that’s like a formula that drives and propels this.

– [Zubin] It’s the fuel that propels it.

– [Angelo] And you don’t even need inquiry if you have enough of that, really. I mean that’s really what matters. Again, it’s your instinct. If your instinct to listens to this message and says, “That is the most important thing to me. I don’t know what the hell he’s talking about. I really don’t, but I feel it. And I know that’s interesting to me,” there are people who are gonna hear it and that’s what they’re gonna experience. I would tell that person, orient to that. Don’t worry about it. Life will take care of itself. You’re not gonna abandon your kids. You’re not gonna run off and join a monastery. Just do the normal things you do in your life, but orient to that part of yourself, or into the part of yourself that knows there’s a more real, authentic, undivided way to experience reality. And trust it, even when you trust yourself, trust that. That’s what I would point someone to. And that orientation is the most important thing, in my opinion and experience, to help someone wake up. It doesn’t matter what techniques you do. It doesn’t matter how much you’ve meditated. None of that, if you have ego around that stuff, it’ll just be a hindrance to you until you really get real with this part of yourself. Once you get real with this part of yourself and you orient towards it, it’s just a matter of time and the universe will come to your aid. And then, inquiry is like adding rocket fuel, because inquiry is based on that and it’s pointing directly to that.

– [Zubin] You described it great in the book, you said, “Inquiry as a way of hacking the mind’s desire to try to do something to get past the mind.” So I’m not doing it justice, but this idea that you’re asking a question, and there’s a list of different questions, you can come up with your own question. And sometimes it’s not a question it’s just an impulse. It’s just a curiosity turning it back inwards, “What is this? What is this?”

– [Angelo] What is this? Just like you said, I’m sitting in this room and I know there’s a universe out there and all that. And that’s great. Let’s start with what seems real. And then I said, “Well, what is that?” And you said, “Oh, it’s a thought, great. What else is here? What is this? What is aware of that thought? Look right there right now.” If you’re interested in this type of topic, you’ll do that. And then you look right there and you go, “I don’t know what that is. I don’t know what’s there.” And the thought says, “Oh, this is spooky.” And you’re like, “Oh, that’s another thought, though what’s aware of that?” And here you are in this, “Is this a place without a thought? Is this somewhere? Is it nowhere? Is it everywhere? Is there a boundary?” So you start to really perceive that, “Oh my gosh, all of these conceptual overlays form a certain kind of experience. But if I really inquire,” meaning it doesn’t matter what question. I can come up with inquiry questions all day long, because it’s really your curiosity that matters, your childlike curiosity. There’s a quote in the Bible somewhere, one of the gospels where Jesus is talking to a group of people and a kid is like curious. You know, he’s like trying to get through the crowd and look to see what’s going on. And the people that are listening to Jesus are like keeping him out, like, “Get out of here kid.” And Jesus is like, “No, no, no. Bring the child in, like until you learn to be like this child, you’ll never enter the kingdom of heaven.

– [Zubin] Kingdom of heaven.

– [Angelo] I think I got that right. But that’s the gist of the quote. And I would agree that that’s exactly the kind of innocence that you need if you really wanna inquire, if you really wanna look at what’s true and what’s what. Whatever’s important to you, if it’s your faith, if it’s what is God, if it is what is my experience of undivided reality right now, what is truth, what is the living truth, like any of those questions are wonderful questions if you mean, “Hey, I want to pursue this course of inquiry in my life, I wanna do this in my life.” Like, that’s great, do it. And that’s the most powerful approach you can have, in my opinion.

– [Zubin] The curiosity has to be there, the drive to do it, otherwise, it won’t happen. And meditation, like you said, I think you can get wrapped up in the ego around meditation as a tool. And it’s still a powerful tool, but it doesn’t feel like it’s gonna get you close to awakening. What’s interesting is, in the book, you have these many different ways, different hacks to arrive. And I thought one of them that was very powerful one day when I was reading was just stop. Just stop, stop. Stop faking it. Stop imagining enlightenment. Stop thinking about the future. Stop trying to do anything. Just stop, stop, stop. And I was reading that page, and I did. I stopped, and wow. I mean, again, more real than real, but then the intellect came back and I was like, “Oh, that must be what Angelo was talking about.” So that’s something I have to keep working on. And do you think, like do you think you need a teacher, for people who are struggling with it?

– [Angelo] Yeah, so let me comment on the stopping, and then we’ll talk about the teacher thing. So with stopping, it is that, right? So what are we doing all day? We’re not stopping. We’re going. We’re judging, thinking, planning, second-guessing our plans, trying to plan the next conversation we’re gonna have, thinking of ourself, doubting ourself, doubting our life. We do it all day long. We’re going, going, going in the mind. If we’re talking about stopping, we’re talking about stopping the mind. What’s wrong with stopping? Why not? Why not just do an empirical exercise and say, “What if I stop right now and just stop thinking, stop making anything, stop trying to get somewhere, stop trying to become something, stop trying to avoid something?” Stop. Right? And the more times you do that, you touch into that place. I love it when you say this to me, ’cause you always give me this great experiential story, and then you go, “But then…” And then I started thinking again or whatever, but you know what? Everybody does that. Everybody does that. I did the same thing. But at some point, if you keep touching into that with that curiosity, that natural yearning, you keep touching into that place, that’s when it’ll really start to click. It’s like every time you do that, like the tumblers are falling. And you can’t control when an awakening happens. You can’t decide it’s going to happen now or later or whatever, but you can keep coming back to that place, whether it’s stopping, whether it’s inquiry, whether it’s unbound consciousness, if you can touch into that, it doesn’t matter. Your will to awaken is what matters. Your will to be willing to awaken is what matters. And that is the most important thing. And I reiterate it over and over and over to people. It’s just orient to yourself. Trust your deepest instinct. But let me tell you, your deepest instinct isn’t a thought, ’cause we can get past that very quickly, right? It’s not even an emotion, really. It goes beyond that. It goes beyond a physical experience. There’s something deep in there that’s wanting to be addressed, so just orient towards it. So that’s like the most important thing. And everything else is kind of like peripheral to that in my opinion, whether it’s techniques or teachers or all of that, traditions. So you asked about teachers, again, I defer to people to wake up the way that feels the most relevant for them. I’m not anti-teacher, I’m not necessarily pro-teacher, but everyone’s gonna have teachers in some form or another, whether it’s through a book whether it’s through resources online. There’s many like non-duality teachers that you may resonate with some. You may think they’re the weirdest people you’ve ever heard. You may go to a retreat. You may like Adyashanti, read his book, go to his retreat, ask him a question, who knows. You may join a Zen center and wanna sit. You may join a community of contemplative Christians or something like that and do what they do, whatever, you know, whether it’s prayer, whether it’s sitting, whatever it is. So what you resonate with, what makes the most sense to you as far as a teacher or a teaching, orient to that and trust your own instinct to wake up to your true nature. And in my opinion, that’s kind of the best way to go. In the book, I do point out certain pitfalls to be careful of around certain teachers. I mean, there can be, of course, bad situations and people can take advantage of other people talking about consciousness and bliss and love and all that. And it can actually become manipulative, because a lot of people, that’s what they want. They want belonging. They wanna feel that. And so manipulative people can actually learn to take advantage of people through that kind of thing. But, you know, this isn’t news to the world, that there’s charlatans out there and there’s fake gurus or whatever. So obviously you wanna avoid that kind of thing. Look for a teacher that doesn’t want anything from you at all, but you really deeply resonate with their writing, their teaching, their videos, whatever it is. And you can do this online. You don’t need to actually go join something, really. I’ve known many people who have really woken up watching non-duality videos.

– [Zubin] Yeah, there are a lot of great ones.

– [Angelo] There are really good ones.

– [Zubin] There are so many. And I can watch, you know, Rupert Spira or Mooji or some of these guys and just really experientially shift my perception. And it’s quite powerful, actually. And I think they point so directly that you’re able to experience it. Now, you know, one thing you talk about in the book that I thought was very applicable to our whole movement that we have that I call the alt-middle is this idea of belief. And where belief settles in this as a hindrance or a help, is it a hindrance or a help, you’re gonna teach me, because we often have, the way you described it in the chapter on belief was really, I’ve never heard it described this way, that there are these nested layers of belief. And sometimes one belief is actually based on a deeper more fundamental hidden belief that you don’t even know you have but that acts as your operating system. And that can be a hindrance. And a simple example is, well, If the deepest belief is, “I am a separate self in the world of objects,” that seems to be a pretty clear hindrance if you cling to that belief if you’re trying to wake up. How do you think about belief?

– [Angelo] That belief specifically, like the really deeply rooted belief, like I’m here and those objects are over there, those are hard to directly address like with inquiry right at that one belief, because it is so deeply rooted and there are so many other beliefs that are structured on top of it. So you kind of come to these things in a certain order, and again, this is like the deeper-stage realization stuff I was talking about. So there is a bit of a structure that it makes sense to follow as you kind of look through various types of beliefs, especially those ones about the perceptual distortions of time and space as you experience it here. But beliefs in general, I can say a few things about them. One, you mentioned it can be surprising which beliefs are kind of limiting beliefs, because we have an idea, okay, there’s limiting beliefs, and then there’s like empowering beliefs.

– [Zubin] Awesome beliefs.

– [Angelo] And that’s fine. I think at some stage of development, like learning to think in more empowering ways and noticing if you have a lot of disempowering thoughts all the time and self doubt, like you can actually notice, “Okay those thoughts really don’t help me, and these thoughts are actually more helpful.” And I think that’s a stage of sort of mental health almost, in a way.

– [Zubin] Yeah, normal mental health.

– [Angelo] Yeah, but at some point, surprising things start to surface, and that is, like, to have the belief like I’m a bad person, that’s not a belief you want. You wanna get rid of that belief, or something. But to have a belief like I’m a really good person or I’m a charismatic person or I’m great at doing my show or whatever it is, that seems like a very positive belief, a kind of belief you’d wanna hold. But what we don’t realize is how much discord we feel and how much cognitive dissonance we feel when we’re trying to defend that belief and our behavior spontaneously shows us, “Well, that’s kind of discordant with the belief I have about myself.” And the problem with that is then we get pretty unconscious. We start to like lie to ourself. We can get really inauthentic instead of just saying, “Hey, I’m a reasonably good person, but on occasion, I make mistakes. I’m not always the most sensitive person,” whatever it is, right? You don’t need to necessarily construct all those beliefs, but just notice that when you hold a certain belief that you don’t really look closely at, like, “I can’t fail. I don’t need the help of another physician in my specialty at all to get input on this patient,” those kinds of beliefs can really cause problems, major injury to patients and so forth. So that’s an example that we can believe, we have this meta belief about beliefs that certain beliefs are really important, I have to hold on to them really strong and I have to staunchly defend them, because it’s scary to let go of that belief and it could damage me. Whereas when you actually are willing to dislodge some of those, you start to realize like, “Oh, it’s actually really freeing not to have to pretend, when I’m not acting like the greatest person in the world, to have to pretend that I am the greatest person in the world.” That is so freeing. Let yourself be who you are. So this all comes back to authenticity. Does that make sense?

– [Zubin] Oh, it absolutely does. And that’s really been the heart of what I’ve been trying to… And I didn’t know what I’m doing. I’m just being me, but like this idea that like we project a very artificial sense of what we think we believe we are supposed to be into the world. And you said it, there’s a cognitive dissonance when we know intuitively that that’s not right or we experience something where we go, “Oh, I was kind of a jerk to that person. Like, so am I really a good person? Like, what does that mean? Well, I’ll just repressed that feeling or project that anger onto someone else and go, ‘If they hadn’t screwed up, then it would have been fine.'” And this idea that authenticity, and even in inquiry, even in the search for awakening, authenticity is the fuel. Like, you have to be honest with yourself. If you’re lying about your reasons for doing it or whatever, then it’s gonna be a problem. And so only in recent years have I really connected with my own authenticity. So now that these artificial beliefs about myself, “I’m a business entrepreneur who can build and run a successfully profitable clinic,” okay, that’s not really true. I’m a communicator and a teacher who’s passionate about stuff. And if I’m not passionate about something, I can’t fake it in a meaningful way that’s gonna make any difference in the world or make me happy. So now I just have to do what I can. Like we’re having this conversation because I’m authentically passionate about this. There are so many people that I interact with, especially in medicine, who hide their authentic selves or deny it or covered in beliefs that are not true. And just awakening doesn’t eliminate all of that, right?

– [Angelo] No, it can actually make it a little worse for while.

– [Zubin] Oh, goodness.

– [Angelo] Because it brings it right into consciousness. Again, like it brings everything to the surface. So having a modicum of humbleness after awakening, having a good teacher, or at least a good, even if it’s through books or whatever, but having a good role model as a teacher of how to maneuver beyond that and how to do a lot of emotion work, a lot of like shadow work, that kind of stuff’s important. But over time, a lot of that really, really changes. You stop identifying so much with beliefs. It can get, well, I’m almost like hesitant to say it because, again, some people have very strong meta beliefs, a belief about beliefs, that I’m defined by my beliefs. What I believe is the most important thing about me ’cause my family taught me that. And I get that. I understand it. I don’t argue with people’s beliefs because, if that’s your identity, I’m not gonna threaten your identity. But having that strict, rigid structure of beliefs, it can be very easily threatened if someone questions your beliefs in any way. But what I’m talking about, as this really progresses, you start to just not identify with beliefs anymore. It’s really strange. And the person who might think, “Well, what do you do without belief? If you don’t have all these beliefs, how do you know what to do? Would you become immoral?” And it turns out, you don’t, really. Like you just do whatever you do anyway. And life just takes care of everything. It’s fine.

– [Zubin] It unfolds and how much that releases you from the stress of the polarization on social media and the next political BS and how angry I am that the Democrats did this or the Republicans did that. It’s like, well, hold your belief loosely and your meta beliefs even more loosely. And it’s liberating. I call it the alt-middle. It’s like being able to question… You said it, you said the one meta belief that might be helpful is that you should question your beliefs or be loose with them.

– [Angelo] Well, I noticed something about people that doesn’t have to do with this topic necessarily, but even people, I can think of a few examples of just people I’ve seen, known, met, whatever, who they just, for whatever reason, I don’t know if they learned it somewhere or they just have this quality, but they’re always willing to like question their beliefs. They’re always willing to be like, “Hmm, I thought that before, but is it true?” Or they’re open to other people helping them introspect. They’re just open to that and they’re kinda like, “Yeah, I’m willing to keep looking in here and finding out. You know, if I’m being violent in some way, I wanna see it. If I’m being unconscious in a certain way, I’m willing to see that. I wanna figure it out. I wanna keep looking inside and looking at my belief structures.” People who do that for whatever reason, they live really good lives. They’re the most humble people. often. They’re the kind of people you really like because they’re so disarming, because they’ll just tell you, “Yeah, I’m a disaster. You know, I’m jealous, I have this and that going on.” And, my God, they’re so relatable, you know, and they’re disarming. So I find people who, for whatever reason have that meta belief that says, “I’m willing to examine all my beliefs,” that person does really well. Now, on the other end of the spectrum, someone who has very, very rigid beliefs, again, I wouldn’t argue with it. If that’s the way you wanna live your life, go for it, that’s great. But I will say that I feel a lot of rigidity in that kind of personality, that persona, and a fear, a lot of fear actually, a fear of, “Well, what if I do let go of my beliefs? Like what the heck is beyond that?”

– [Zubin] Who am I? Who am I?

– [Angelo] Who am I? Right? Like, “Would I just turned into a immoral disaster?” But it turns out, you just don’t. I mean, I can tell you from experience and I can tell you from watching people go through this process over and over that you can live, function, be in the flow of life, live with spontaneity, enjoyment, know what to do without beliefs, without having to reference my belief system. I don’t have to reference my belief system to know what to do, I just do it. It just happens. It’s simple. I know it was like bizarre talk, but it’s totally doable.

– [Zubin] And I mean, I’ve been hanging out with you for a bit now, and I get the sense that like, you can joke about something, you can get pissed about something. You can have fun. You can do all that. But there’s no sign of rigidity or fixation that I can detect. Like, a lot of people will hang out with you and you just kinda know like, “This is who I am. I’m a conservative, Christian, X,” or, “I’m a liberal, I care about social justice,” whatever it is, and that’s their identity. And if you took that away, they would be lost.

– [Angelo] It’s communicated to you almost instantly around certain people, right? This is who I am. Don’t threaten it.

– [Zubin] Don’t threaten it.

– [Angelo] So the quote I put in the book, it’s about friendship. It was Emerson. Ralph Waldo Emerson has a essay about friendship. It’s really, really good. And I can quote some of it verbatim, because I just have read it so many times and it’s so good. But he says every person alone is sincere. When you’re by yourself, you’re sincere, you’re not faking it with anyone. Who do you have to impress, right? You just are who you are. But at the entrance of one other person, hypocrisy begins.

– [Zubin] That’s it, yeah, that was the quote.

– [Angelo] Like you become a hypocrite, right? Now, sure, maybe we’re not always an overt hypocrite, but we start filtering things pretty quick.

– [Zubin] Absolutely.

– [Angelo] And he says, “We parry and fend the approach of our fellow person with compliments, gossip, amusements. We cover our thoughts from him under a hundred folds.” Yeah. So that’s exactly it. Like, we’re kind of conditioned to be inauthentic in various ways to really operate out of a persona.

– [Zubin] A thousand percent. Doctors, especially. And I’ll say this ’cause I interview a lot of doctors, sometimes it’s like pulling teeth to get them to be authentic. With you, it’s just natural. You just are who you are. But I think we are. You’re absolutely right, we’re conditioned by that. And you talk about in the book like there’s taboo around sharing internal experience. Like if I told you right now, “Hey, do you know, before you came, I was practicing like what I was gonna say to you when I saw you and I was like going over it in my head and stuff?” Like, you’d never say that to someone.

– [Angelo] Right, you don’t just tell somebody like your internal thoughts. You kind of don’t tell them.

– [Zubin] Yeah, you don’t hide it.

– [Angelo] You have a persona you’ve developed to not tell them that.

– [Zubin] Exactly right.

– [Angelo] Isn’t that funny, that we interact with each other through these interfaces.

– [Zubin] The interface.

– [Angelo] We’re full of shit. Basically.

– [Zubin] We’re full of shit. And see, the thing, since I’ve been doing more inquiry, is paying attention to how I perceive my own external interface and how much of my constructed reality is filtered through that. And one of the things that I do, and actually Douglas Harding talks about this. He’s the headless-way guy who talks about like pretending you have no head as a path to enlightenment.

– [Angelo] That’s great.

– [Zubin] But, he says, “You know, when we’re young, we’re this oceanic, open awareness. We don’t know we have a face or a head ’cause we don’t see it. It’s not been part of us. And we just experienced the world as our head.” And then something happens, your parents point at you in a mirror and go, “That’s you, look at that.” And the way he described it was beautiful. He said the image in the mirror, this interface that you present to the world, peels off the mirror and sticks on you. And in your mind, you have a ghostly trace of this image that you’re presenting to the world. And it always lives with you as you’re walking around. “I am me separate from others. This is what I look like. This is what Angelo sees when he sees me,” instead of what is actually the real perception at the time, which is, “No, my face is an open, empty window and everything’s just happening.” And so now I’ve been paying attention to that. Like, “Oh.” You know, especially as like a performer, like I have to think about, “Well, what does my face look? What are my expressions?” All of that. But in reality, in real experience, there’s nothing there.

– [Angelo] Yeah, when you stop being there, when the sense of the subject stops being there, it’s just enjoyment of the object, you could say. That’s one way of saying it. And you kind of, I don’t know, lean into it a little bit more, or you sort of find yourself melting into it. And then it’s just a natural enjoyment of what’s right in front of your face. It’s like, “Cool. That’s all there is. That’s all there ever could be. That’s all there needs to be. I don’t need to change that into anything. There’s no filters. There’s just that.”

– [Zubin] And you experience it at zero distance.

– [Angelo] Love. It just feels like love. I mean, that’s what it feels like. You don’t have to be walking around telling everyone you love them, but you just feel it in, not just people, in objects and experiences and movements and sounds, in your physical sensations. Intimacy, I use the word intimacy a lot.

– [Zubin] Radical intimacy.

– [Angelo] Radical intimacy. There’s really no word for what I’m pointing here to exactly, but it is closer than close. To even say it’s here is a little bit off, because there’s no there to make here here. Here stops, it loses meaning. It’s kind of, again, it’s like everywhere, center everywhere, almost. It’s just radically intimate.

– [Zubin] All the experience.

– [Angelo] There’s no sense of outside. There’s no sense of an outside world, no sense of somewhere else that I need to figure out and manage that I call my life, gone.

– [Zubin] And yet, you live, you function. You work.

– [Angelo] Apparently.

– [Zubin] Yeah. Quite well, it seems.

– [Angelo] It works fine, yeah.

– [Zubin] You’re a physician doing great. I mean, this is the thing.

– [Angelo] I’m not the only one. I mean there are Daniel Ingram. You heard of Daniel Ingram?

– [Zubin] I haven’t.

– [Angelo] Oh, he wrote a book. He’s an emergency physician. He wrote a book that’s reasonably popular among Buddhists, it’s “Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha.” Yeah, so another physician.

– [Zubin] ER doc.

– [Angelo] ER doc, yeah.

– [Zubin] Let’s get him on the show.

– [Angelo] I’m sure there are others that don’t want to a public face or audience. I’m sure of that. I know many people who are very awake who have no public image. They’re not teachers. They don’t hold themselves out to be teachers. They don’t want to be. And they just don’t move that way. Now, I’m sure they transmit it all the time with people around them and so forth, but, yeah, they have no interest in like teaching this to other people, yet, they tend to be open to the interaction of people who find them. That’s what I find. Yeah, so my point is, it’s actually much more common than most people would think, to walk around without perception filters. And when it first happens, when you first experience non-dual, it’s like, “Holy, what the hell?” Like not scary. You used the word spooky. There’s nothing spooky. This is extremely intimate. It’s like home, everything is home. Everything feels so intimate and so real and so wow, you know? But what’s strange is, that’s kind of when you experience it episodically or experientially. When it becomes just natural, it’s much less of a big deal, but it doesn’t lose any of that intimacy. So I don’t know how to talk about it. You don’t jump up and down about it. And I don’t even talk about this to almost anyone, because I’ve only talked about it to people who find me and ask me about it ’cause they’re curious. Now I wrote a book about it, so, whatever. Well, at some point I was like, I should probably write this stuff out because, I don’t know, why not?

– [Zubin] You know, I had said in the previous show we did that I had had a experience of that non-duality while reading a piece of your book, and everything stopped and became, the words you used to describe it, it’s so close. It’s so close, you can’t describe how close it is. You start speaking in paradox and you say there’s no path, and yet, there was a path. There’s no me at all. And yet, I am this. It becomes impossible to, because the language in itself comes from a sense of subject-object. You can’t do it, but yet, like you said, it wasn’t spooky at all. It was just, “Oh, this is this.”

– [Angelo] And it’s so obvious. It’s just so natural and obvious.

– [Zubin] It’s obvious, natural, and it’s wonderful, like wonderful in a way that you just released, like, what is suffering? What is the lack of suffering? What, what, what? And all of that in a tiny moment that felt eternal that then, when time re-intervened, I couldn’t quantify how long it was, because it was outside of time. So, I mean, and I think I texted you-

– [Angelo] So it kind of begs the question, is it still here?

– [Zubin] It has to be, it has to be, but like you said, it’s like, “For those, the blind who once could see, the bell tolls for thee.”

– [Angelo] Ooh, I like that.

– [Zubin] I think it was Hemingway, or no, it was somebody else. But Hemingway called his book “For Whom the Bell Tolls” based on that. When you’ve experienced it and then you’re back in the mind, it’s like, all I wanna do is get back there, all I wanna do is experience that again, because I knew intuitively that I could live from that space. Like that was where I’m home, that’s coming home. And imagine what it would be like with my kids and everything. Oh, oh! Living from that place, it was pure joy. So what you’re pointing at, I mean, do you have anything to say that otherwise I would have to follow up about?

– [Angelo] Nope, no. I’m just digging what you’re saying, man. It’s awesome, dude.

– [Zubin] Like, zoinks!

– [Angelo] I love it.

– [Zubin] Yeah, no, it was, and it was, honestly Angelo, because of your book, because it pointed to that space. It actually pointed to it as clearly as, and I’ve read a bunch of stuff and I intellectualize it and I have a mild spiritual ego where I’m like, “Well, I know a lot about spirituality.” There’s nothing. Let it all go. This had nothing to do with that. It was so outside of any-

– [Angelo] Isn’t that great.

– [Zubin] It’s great!

– [Angelo] It’s like, “Wow, man.” I mean, that’s the freedom. It’s like the release of like, “Oh my gosh, wow.” And it’s natural. It’s obvious. But again, it’s very easy to talk about this in a way that can rev up the mind and get it seeking for this state, but the truth is it’s already, for anyone who’s listening to this, it’s already here. It’s already in your experience. 100%, it’s there. It is. But if you’re interested in this subject, if you’re not, turn it off right now, but your mind is moving a certain way and it’s making reflections in consciousness and those reflections are like two mirrors reflecting each other that start to feel like a me and that. And that has become very complex. And it looks like a world and a lifetime and all this sort of thing. And you think you want it, but there’s so much struggle involved in maintaining that and so much effort to keep that rigid structure required to keep those mirrors adjusted just right that it’s a huge relief to let go of it. When you finally let go of that, it’s just a huge relief. If that makes sense.

– [Zubin] That’s what it felt like.

– [Angelo] But the key is, the reflecting, the mirrors, the moving, these are all analogies of the way consciousness is functioning, all of that is just happening in what is. It’s a very small thing. It’s really not a big deal. Even the ego that seems so daunting and the struggle and all that that seems so big, it’s just a drop in the bucket. It really is. You know, it’s already where you are. It’s sitting in the seat you’re sitting. It’s feeling what you’re feeling. It’s hearing what you’re hearing. It’s looking through your eyes, right? Not just you, but anyone who’s listening to this. If this is what you’re interested in, it’s already there. You don’t have to find it. You don’t have to create it. You definitely don’t have to understand it, you just have to stop trying to do all those things. Stop trying to create a world. Stop trying to manage the world that seems opposed to you somehow in a way that makes you a little bit more comfortable. Stop all of that, and you’re gonna see that all of that struggle was unnecessary. It’s that kind of a thing.

– [Zubin] Yeah, and that’s where the just stop became very powerful. The other pointer that you did in the book that was amazing is, you did it in the beginning and it immediately resonated with me, it was, “Yeah, enlightenment is not a thing that happens in the future. It’s not a thing that happened in the past. It only happens now. It will only happen now for you. It will happen now, now, now, because there only is now.” And then you doubled-down on that shit and you said, “Wait, hold on, imagine you’re in a corridor and your life is this corridor. And behind you is all your memories. And it gets vaguer and vaguer the farther back you go, but there’s like these images as you get closer. And you’re standing here in this part of the hall and then ahead of you is your future. And you can predict a little bit, a few steps in front, but then it gets really vague. And here you are.” Now, what happens when you just go, “Wait, hold on. This is the corridor.” And I poked my head out of the corridor and I see it. “Wait, what is this really? Oh, the future and the past are thought projections in now. And all there is this immediate.” What happens when you look there? Look there, look here, now, now, now, and just stop everything. Look right here. What’s here?

– [Angelo] That’s a great question. You can ask that question, what’s here, and then don’t force yourself to try to find an answer, but just keep open to the question and just let it resonate into infinity, internally, in your internal experience of what is perceiving what I’m saying right now, the sense of you, whatever that is, the internal space where thinking goes on. Just let that question echo right in there, you know, what is this? It’s a great question. What we’re talking about is very simple, actually. What we’re talking about is, I wrote in the book somewhere that no one ever pulled me aside in life and said, “Hey.” You know, when we talk to people, we talk about like scripted stuff, right? We talk about our families. We talk about stuff we do, what we own, TV shows. We talk about funny stuff.

– [Zubin] We’ve done all this shit, Angelo. You and I.

– [Angelo] Totally. But this is what we talked about, right? This is what everyone knows you talk about when you talk to other people to the degree where they don’t even think about it as such, it’s just what, you know. But no one ever stopped to tell me like, “Oh, hey, there’s another thing you can talk about to another person or to yourself. There’s another way of moving through the world. And that is to actually question, what is truth? What is reality at it’s most fundamental level? You have the ability to ask that and you have the right to ask it.” That’s what we’re talking about. Just, you have the right to have to dig in and find out what’s what, what’s going on, really, at the deepest level, and be ruthless with your honesty about what you find, and if that’s not you, keep going. You can see pretty quickly, a thought is not you. And if someone has trouble with that, I can lead them through it, but pretty quickly you can realize like, “Well, that thought isn’t me, because when that thought goes away,” oops. “When that thought goes away,” I get so excited. I’m Italiano, you know? I wanna use my hands.

– [Zubin] Hey, it’s easy. You can do it. You can do it. It’s a me, Wario.

– [Angelo] So yeah, you can see reasonably quickly and perceive that what I am isn’t a thought, because I can have a thought like, “Oh, I’m a man, I’m a doctor. I’m a person, I was born in the United States,” but as soon as that thought’s gone, did you disappear? Well, of course not. And more importantly, were you not there before I asked you to look at that one thought? Of course not, you were there. So what are you, what is that? It’s totally okay to ask these questions. It’s fine. And I highly recommend it if it’s really interesting to you. No one really said that to me, like our culture sort of doesn’t support that. Maybe some cultures do, like India maybe. It’s much more-

– [Zubin] Eastern cultures.

– [Angelo] Totally. Yeah. But yeah, you have the right to do that. You have my permission, but you just gotta give yourself permission, if you’re interested. That’s the core message of the book, really. And it’s okay. What you find in the end is okay. It ends up being more than okay.

– [Zubin] That resonated with me very strongly, because I’ve asked these questions and I feel it’s almost a stigma. And I’ve done it publicly and I’m a public figure, so I’ll ask, you know, “Well, what’s the nature of consciousness guys?” It’s like the most important question there is to me, and comments are like mixed, right? So some of them are like, “Absolutely. I think about this all the time.” And some of them are just like, “You’re an idiot. Like, pull your head out of your ass. Like, what are you doing?”

– [Angelo] It’s surprising how strong of reactions you can get.

– [Zubin] It’s very powerful. And in fact, the first show I did with Don Hoffman where he was talking about maybe everything is consciousness and it’s interacting with itself in these mathematically predictable ways and we have conscious agents, and so on, and it just flips the whole paradigm on its head, the outrage and anger from some people, like, just, “This is a lie. How dare you?” And same with Bernardo Kastrup, everything is mind and it makes more sense than materialism, and so on. Anger, you know?

– [Angelo] That’s exactly what we pointed to earlier, I think in the previous show, the when the other shoe drops. That’s all that is. It’s just that reaction, like to have that strong of an emotional reaction means that that person perceived something real there and it scared them. And that’s fine. Like it’s okay. It’s okay to have that reaction. Just know, if you’re curious, you can let that fear subside, let it move through your system, and you can look if you want. If you don’t want, don’t worry about it. It’s fine. There’s no big deal. But the key is, anyone has access to their true nature because it’s their true nature.

– [Zubin] That’s just what you are. Yeah, it’s always been that way, and it’s always been now.

– [Angelo] True nature. The. It’s not really your true nature.

– [Zubin] The, yeah. There’s no you.

– [Angelo] It’s just true nature. But it’s also not anything I can write out. I can’t tell you in a set of principles what it is, but I know you can experience it directly. I’m 100% sure of that. I know it. I’ve seen it again and again and again. So I’ll never try to sell anyone a belief system about reality or Buddhism or awakening. Like, it doesn’t matter what you think or believe at all to me, it doesn’t. What matters is, if you’re interested, you can wake up to it. You can dig in and you can dissolve the perceptual filters that keep the sense of separation going. I know you can if you’re interested in it, because people have done it again and again and again. This is becoming somewhat mainstream, I think, at least the consciousness talk, meditation, those sorts of things are becoming very mainstream. I think give this five to 10 years and awakening will be reasonably mainstream. I mean, it’s still gonna be a very polarizing topic, because it has a lot of emotional charge, the movement does.

– [Zubin] When you say movement, you’re not talking about like a political movement, you’re saying this movement, this shift.

– [Angelo] The movement in you, like you had movements to grow from a child to a teenager, and in the movement of your body-mind or whatever to grow into an adult, or the movement of I dunno what-

– [Zubin] Your bowels.

– [Angelo] Bowel movements.

– [Zubin] Very powerful.

– [Angelo] Let’s talk about bowel movements.

– [Zubin] Let’s do that. You’re an anesthesiologist, I’m a hospitalist. Biggest problem in the world, constipation.

– [Angelo] I agree.

– [Zubin] And I think many people say that heart disease is the number one killer, I think it’s diarrhea.

– [Angelo] Well, what is your go-to agent?

– [Angelo] My go-to agent was always a combination of Colace and senna when I was a hospitalist, but sometimes, I would use something called the bomb, which was a Stanford concoction. It was given per rectum. And it was, it was glycerin, mag sulfate-

– [Angelo] Jesus.

– [Zubin] And something else that was terrible. Maybe it was senna, I don’t know. And it was given PR, and it would just, it lived up to it’s name. If they were constipated, ER nurse would give it, and it would just be like shrapnel with corn in it. Yeah, everywhere.

– [Angelo] So there was this funny story when I was, I think I was an intern, I think I was a family medicine intern, and we had this patient on the floor who just couldn’t poop for a couple of days. And, you know, you kind of escalate everything. You give them the Colace, then you give them the Dulcolax. And it got to the point where like, I didn’t know what else to do. So I gave him a bunch of lactulose. Someone’s like, Oh, lactulose works great.”

– [Zubin] Good stuff.

– [Angelo] I give him a bunch of lactulose, and they didn’t poop for another couple hours. It still wasn’t working, so I’m like trying to figure out what to do next. And they get taken down to the CT scanner. And I walk them down to the CT scanner and then I walked back up, you know, ’cause the patient was stable, but for whatever reason, I was just kinda following them down there. So I go back down after about 20 minutes ’cause the tech’s like, “It’ll take 20 minutes to do their CT scan.” Come back down after 20 minutes, and there’s like three housekeepers in there. I’m not joking. They’re cleaning it off the wall, cleaning shit. It was like, it was all over the scanner, all over the machine. And the tech had this like 100 mile stare on her face, like she just came back from ‘Nam. It was like, “What the fuck did you give that patient?” She was like, “I have never seen anybody shit like that. It just kept coming and coming and coming. And it was all over the place.” And I was like, “Oh, my God, I’m sorry.” So anyway, I was like, “Oh, note to self, lactulose works really well, but it’s gonna really piss off like everyone that is in contact with this patient.”

– [Zubin] I love just giving it and just pounding it in liver patients, you know. Did I ever tell, oh no, I never did, because we’d just barely met. I had a shtick I used to do called Ascites Anonymous. So it was my support group for people who are beyond alcoholism, like they’re into just straight ascites. And so they’d all get together, and part of the entrance requirement is you have to give the secret handshake, which was.

– [Angelo] Asterixis.

– [Zubin] Asterixis, and at their support meetings, there would be like a lactulose bar where they’d all step up, and they’d be like, you know, sipping on lactulose. And at the end of each meeting, they would all get in a circle, line up their bellies and do a fluid wave. Just, boom, j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j-j, all the way around.

– [Angelo] You’re killing me, man.

– [Zubin] Yeah, so that was ascites anonymous. It didn’t go very far.

– [Angelo] Didn’t you tell me that Big Bird had ascites? Wide-based gait.

– [Zubin] Yeah. Wide-based gait, jaundiced complexion, saw imaginary creatures. Mr. Snuffleupagus was imaginary for a long time.

– [Angelo] I love it.

– [Zubin] Big Bird, ah!

– [Angelo] I feel like he was born without knees. Did he have knees?

– [Zubin] He had very creepy, like non-knees. Like, it was just like a leg that bent in the middle with no patella. And you’re just like, “How does that happen?” Even birds have-

– [Angelo] That seven-foot canary freaked me out when I was a kid. Like it was really dysphoric for me to watch that. Like, a lot of the Muppets on Sesame Street, I resonated with. I was like, “Ah, you guys are having fun.” Ernie and Bert, man-

– [Zubin] They know how to party.

– [Angelo] They know how to throw down. But then that bird would come. And I mean, really, it was weird for me. I was like, “He’s so big, he’s so yellow. He just dominates the screen and he’s got this like voice.” There was something about him I didn’t trust.

– [Zubin] You never should trust a walking bird that’s yellow. I mean, clearly. Talk about a guy with ascites.

– [Angelo] With non-patellar knees.

– [Zubin] With non-patellar knees. That’s untrustworthy. Every orthopod would know, if you don’t have patella, you’re like some kind of mutant. You know, that bird, geez. I mean, Oscar you could trust, because you knew he was down and dirty. Like he knew what was up. He was authentic.

– [Angelo] He was authentic. Like, “Hey, listen, guys, I live in a fucking trashcan. Got a problem with it?”

– [Zubin] Come at me.

– [Angelo] Yeah, what are you gonna do?

– [Zubin] I don’t care. I’ll just close the lid. You can’t see me. Yeah. Close the lid, I’m gone.

– [Angelo] My favorite Sesame Street episode ever was when he went to the airport. They were going on a trip. And Oscar had to go through the metal detector. And it kept going off, and he’s pulling like chains and like metal license plates and anchors.

– [Zubin] All the garbage.

– [Angelo] He just kept pulling metal shit out of his can. And every time they’d put him through, it would just go off. And as a kid, I was like, “It’s the can! He’s never getting through that unless he comes out of the can! And this is my moment to see Oscar. What does he actually look, what does his lower body look like?”

– [Zubin] What’s his groin look like, yeah.

– [Angelo] I mean, I wasn’t really into that kind of thing as a child yet, but I was curious. Like, does he have feet? Like, what’s going on? Like, he never comes all the way out of the can, right? And why is there a man living in a trashcan? What’s going on?

– [Zubin] It’s not normal. And I was telling you, speaking about like groins, I was telling you about my buddy’s idea for a new app that’s just for dick pictures. It’s called Instagroin. And it was a sister app, I won’t even say what the sister app was, but it was a variant of Snapchat.

– [Angelo] I’m sure people can figure that out.

– [Zubin] You can figure it out. And so Instagroin and the variant of Snapchat are the sister companies, and it’s where, you know, you have whole subreddits on these, if like this is Peyronie’s and this is circumcised and this is.

– [Angelo] Purely fat pad.

– [Zubin] Pure fat pad, nothing but fat pad, ’cause some people are into that. You know, it’s just nothing but male mons. Is that a part-

– [Angelo] Man mons.

– [Zubin] Man mons? That’s excellent. That sounds like a brand of like yoga pant for men. Like, you know, “Man mons, it stretches with you. And when you’re going downward dog, do it with man mons.” Geez, man.

– [Angelo] So, consciousness.

– [Zubin] Consciousness, oh, that’s what I wanted. Okay, so what we just did was we got lost in the thought stream, and it was fun as hell. Talk to me a little bit about… Now, let’s see, I’m looking at the time ’cause I wanna make sure we have enough card. Do you think we have time to talk about thought?

– [Angelo] Sure.

– [Zubin] All right. ‘Cause this is important. This chapter blew the mind off my mind. Like, when I read it, I was like, “I’ve never thought about thought in this way.” Like you said, we have about 70,000 thoughts a day on average. We hardly recognize what a thought is made of. We don’t know what it is, what it reflects. What is it? We just take it for granted that humans are thinking machines and thinking is just done. When I read your thought chapter, a few things struck me. One, is that a thought, we should talk about this first, a thought is nothing other than a reflection in consciousness of one of the five senses, or of another thought. Tell me about this.

– [Angelo] It’s that simple.

– [Zubin] It’s just that?

– [Angelo] Okay, so first of all, I wanna mention that you started by saying, you know, there’s 70,000 thoughts a day, depending on how people define that or whatever. But clearly, there’s a thought stream that’s just kind of going all the time and shifting and changing and there’s images. And there’s an internal dialogue for most people. Not everybody has an internal dialogue, do you know that?

– [Zubin] I’ve heard that.

– [Angelo] Yeah, I’m a little curious, I would actually wanna talk to them, because I’m guessing they’re so identified with it, they don’t realize they’re having thoughts but I could be wrong.

– [Zubin] Having dialogue, you mean. Yeah.

– [Angelo] Yeah, they’re so identified with their thoughts, they think it’s me talking. And that’s my whole point, right? Because if you really have no thoughts, you’re experiencing non-dual presence all the time. And is it possible someone is with no training or anything? It is possible. And I would like to meet them. I’ve met people with very little perceptual filters in life who are already like that. And they often think they’re weird. They think there’s something really wrong with them because they just perceive reality so differently than other people. It doesn’t mean that they’ve completely gone through the awakening stages and the shifts, but they’re like right on the brink of it or kind of fighting it sometimes. So there’s a whole group of people out there with like, derealization, depersonalization, severe blank mind, loss of thought process. Anyway, so people like that often don’t have a lot of thoughts or have very few thoughts, or sometimes no thoughts for a period of time. I suspect there’s still some, but it’s very vacant compared to most of us. And there are also people who have aphantasia. They can’t have an internal image. In fact, there’s a famous movie producer or director, I think he might be a producer who actually said this on a video.

– [Zubin] Can’t have images in his mind?

– [Angelo] He can’t form an internal image in his mind of something, yeah. So anyway, there’s definitely variations in this, but isn’t it fascinating that we don’t ever talk about it? Like you said, it’s like, no one stopped you and said, “Hey, you’re gonna start living in this internal reality that’s gonna be your constant companion. You’re gonna know this thought stream better than you know your wife, your kids, your husband. You’re gonna spend all your time with it. It’s gonna say things that you’re never gonna tell anyone. It’s gonna be this voice talking to you all the time.” Like we never learned that’s gonna happen, and yet, you find yourself in it. And somehow it kind of feels normal. Again, for some people, it feels normal. For some people, it feels really uncomfortable. Like for me, it was just intolerable and I was miserable for years. So anyway, it’s fascinating, isn’t it, that there’s this taboo about it or this, the more I kind of like observe this, the more I think I don’t really know why that is exactly, because-

– [Zubin] There’s a shame component, or?

– [Angelo] I think it’s shame. I think it’s the hiding. It’s the shame. There’s a sense of like, ’cause I think what we also don’t really wanna see is thoughts are kind of randomly generated. The mind is a random thought generator. We feel like, I’m in control of everything, I’m in control of my life and my thoughts.

– [Zubin] It’s a thought-

– [Angelo] But it’s really a bunch of random-

– [Zubin] Secreter.

– [Angelo] Things going on, right? And when there’s randomness, there’s scary thoughts, or thoughts you don’t want anyone to know you had. But here’s the thing, we all have them.

– [Zubin] Yeah, exactly.

– [Angelo] We all have those thoughts, we just don’t say them out loud, because it’s not polite or whatever.

– [Zubin] Exactly, I wanna punch that guy in the face right now.

– [Angelo] Yeah, oh, when I first met you, I just thought about punching you for no reason. I don’t know why or whatever. Like our thoughts just can be really bizarre sometimes. And everybody has those, but yeah, we’ve really been conditioned to have shame around that. And so we, whatever, hide that. Again, like the the quote from Emerson, “We cover our thoughts from other people under a hundred folds.” We immediately start telling the story of who I am to prevent that, right? ‘Cause God forbid, I actually start telling you-

– [Zubin] They actually see.

– [Angelo] What I’m thinking right now, feeling, et cetera.

– [Zubin] I wonder if some of that is from the root of separateness that we’ve generated in mind, in that, by protecting that separateness, this is our space that no one can access. Like this is as personal as it gets is my thoughts space. And these are my thoughts. And not only that, but I have this weird sense that I have agency to think what I think when you really inquire, no way.

– [Angelo] Stop trying to think for one minute. Anyone who tries to meditate, they say the same thing if they’ve never done it before, “I don’t know how to stop my thoughts. There’s so many thoughts.” I’m like, “That’s exactly right.” There is a lot of thoughts, and yes, you can’t stop them. That’s right, try to stop them, and you’re gonna make it worse.

– [Zubin] You’re gonna make it worse.

– [Angelo] Generally, unless you approach it the right way and you’re ready and you’re whatever. But yeah, resisting thoughts and like struggling with them-

– [Zubin] It just squeezes out more thoughts. It’s like a Play-Doh Fun Factory. Like a little Play-Doh anus, just squeezing out a brown stream of Play-Doh stool.

– [Angelo] That’s a great visual.

– [Zubin] You know, that’s what happens when you resist thoughts, more still comes out. And what’s interesting about thought too is then thought reflects. You did a great exercise in the book where you said, “Okay, you’re watching thoughts and they reflect each of your senses, something image, something smell, something taste, something auditory, verbal, a little patch of language, a feeling and emotion, you can remember those things.” So there really are senses, but then it’s the thought reflecting thought that gets really fascinating. And that’s where you get lost in a real house of mirrors, because you gave an example of, was it a Kant quote that basically said, “The gist of morality is not how to make yourself”-

– [Angelo] I don’t think you’re gonna use the K-word in this.

– [Zubin] Hey man, I “Kant” resist. Oh, that’s a dad joke. Yeah. Hello. It was like, “The gist of morality is not how to make yourself happy, but how to make yourself worthy of happiness.” So there’s a statement. Put it in your mind and try to unpack it. Now, watch what happens. You hear the auditory statement, then the concepts start echoing of, “Oh, morality, worthy.”

– [Angelo] But what are those made out of?

– [Zubin] What are they made out of?

– [Angelo] Your voice.

– [Zubin] The same voice. The same thought.

– [Angelo] Auditory reflections that are reflections of reflections of reflections.

– [Zubin] Sometimes an image. Sometimes an image of, like, when I think of morality, I have an image of like this warm red or something. And it just spins out. Like if our mind was a pool of stillness, you go . And it goes .

– [Angelo] That’s right, it has a ripple effect, for sure.

– [Zubin] Ripple effect. And we identify with the ripples, we’re lost in it, and we live in that rippling reality instead of in the reality that’s actually here, which is our five senses happening right now. And that conceptually just made me go, “Oh, that’s probably the root of a lot of our suffering, is this being on the thought train and not getting off.”

– [Angelo] Yeah, and then there’s a lot of struggle intrinsic to that. So you mentioned like, you know, ping, and then the ripples come. I mentioned it, I think-

– [Zubin] It’s more like .

– [Angelo] It’s , yeah. I mentioned in one of the analogies that like what causes those ripples in the surface of the pond. And I actually never completely addressed it in the book ’cause that’s coming in the next book because I had 130,000 words and I’m like, “Shit. I gotta stop writing and whatever.” So but what causes those ripples and what is the cost of causing those ripples? Well, we cause those ripples with our will inside of thought, with pushing and pulling on thoughts. We don’t consider it to be thoughts, we consider it to be the world. And that’s what I was talking to you earlier today about where one aspect of what feels like the self, the separate, suffering self, there’s aspects to it that get sort of un-disentangled and dissolved over time. But one very important aspect is the relational self. It’s the self that’s always relating to things, judging, pushing, pulling, saying, “This is what I want, that’s not what I want. This is how I make my life better. This is how I make it worse. This is what I want you to do. This is what I want me to,” you know. That relational way of interacting with thought, just the feel of it, that is actually what causes those ripples. It’s very challenging to stop that before an awakening. You can work on it, for sure, but without awakening, the challenges, because that that nature of unbound consciousness is not obvious, by trying to stop the ripples, you kind of make more ripples ’cause you’re just introducing more will into that pond. You’re slapping the pond trying to make the ripple stop, right? It’s just a very heavy-handed way of interacting with consciousness. As you start to either go through an awakening or just really touching that unbound consciousness one way or another, you start to recognize the value of neutrality and equanimity in consciousness and thought and how to calm those thoughts without introducing a lot of will and just making them worse, without adding resistance to the system. And when you do that, it actually starts to calm down a lot. And in there are very distinct ways to inquire into that relational self, the reactive self and really look at what’s triggering that, if anything, and how to get under that. And that’s a perceptual filter that has to be addressed later on. And so I just wanted to say that because of those ripples, it’s exactly it, it seems so innocent to poke your finger in there and cause ripples, to fantasize about things and to stir the thought pot that we’re doing all day long and don’t even realize how much sort of turmoil we’re causing in our own minds, our own hearts and our own emotions.

– [Zubin] And then we’re lost in it. We’re identified in it. We’re in that. And it’s something that you even mentioned in the book, it’s kind of ingrained in us from childhood. Your fantasy world can get you out of discomfort. Instead of feeling discomfort, you project in the mind a different reality.

– [Angelo] A reality where you don’t feel uncomfortable.

– [Zubin] Where you don’t feel uncomfortable.

– [Angelo] And it kind of works at first.

– [Zubin] It does work.

– [Angelo] At first it works.

– [Zubin] Self-soothing.

– [Angelo] But the problem, it’s like a child that found a flame thrower, sort of. You don’t realize like what the cost is when you throw the fire in that direction and that direction and pretty soon, the whole house is on fire. And you’re so lost in that thought world, you don’t realize it. But it’s not like you actually went and did that. There’s no guilty party. It’s just the way our minds are structured. And it’s going to happen to pretty much everyone from what I’ve seen, maybe not everyone, but the vast majority of people, they learn to do that at some point or they just discover this toy of like, “Oh, I’m uncomfortable because mom’s not here at this moment, but I can imagine her being here and it kinda makes me feel a little better. Oh, that’s a little soothing.” It’s like a pacifier but you don’t realize, you just don’t realize where that’s gonna lead, that it’s gonna happen more and more and more until we start fantasizing to the point where we’re trying to alter the reality that’s right in front of our face. It’s undeniable, and yet, we’re going, “It shouldn’t be this way. It shouldn’t be this way. And I’m really angry that it is that way.” It’s like just a totally unnecessary struggle.

– [Zubin] Fast-forward to the adult that’s dissatisfied with everything in the present moment and is projecting a future that’s better, where they will be happy, where things will be okay, where their trauma will be resolved, where they will be happy in their marriage, where this will happen instead of… And it is a kind of a self-soothing. And you had a great thing in your emotion chapter where you said adults do this self-soothing that we were taught as children, where they feel something, a powerful emotion, and they’re taught to express it outwardly, like for sympathy, like, “Oh, I’m so miserable, Mom.” And they get comfort. And then as adults, we have something painful come up and we go “God, I feel like I’m dying. I hate myself so much.” And in a way you’re self-soothing yourself because you have this conditioned pattern of this thought process of, “I’m miserable. I am miserable. Help.”

– [Angelo] Yeah. But it’s hard to see sometimes. You’re not actually feeling the emotion fully when you’re doing that.

– [Zubin] No, you’re repressing it.

– [Angelo] You’re trying to get a reaction out of other people or you’re just doing a habit you’ve had for a long time to talk about the emotion, to dramatize it, to explain it, to get attention from other people about it. But all these things are important too. It’s like we bond with people by talking about our internal experience as well, but it can easily become a way to escape from feeling the emotion. And you can repress emotions by just pushing them away, or you can almost like overindulge in them, but you’re not really feeling them. You’re kind of describing, talking about them, developing a persona of-

– [Zubin] A story around them. Yeah. Dramatizing them. Yeah.

– [Angelo] So emotions are funny like that. It’s the middle way. There’s a middle way to this where you just feel it. You don’t make a big deal of it. You feel it, you don’t necessarily like it sometimes, if it’s intense or whatever, but you don’t put it on someone else. You don’t blame, you just feel it. You just let it move through. And that is a pretty powerful skill to learn.

– [Zubin] Yeah, and again, it’s a skill that we’re never taught. And in fact, we might be taught the opposite. We’re conditioned to the opposite. And as a guy, too, it’s kind of interesting, ’cause guys have the whole masculine persona that you have to project on to things, “Emotion? What’s that? I don’t have that, only losers have that, bro.” So that getting in touch with the sense of being without emotion, really inhabiting it, feeling it, is very, very tough. And what I found recently-

– [Angelo] Toxic masculinity. The only emotion I’m comfortable with is anger.

– [Zubin] Yeah, which is a great emotion. I love it too, but just more recently, I’ve found that emotions come, especially since I’m doing your damn book, emotions come very powerfully right to the surface. And I just hope I’m alone when they happen.

– [Angelo] But the more you allow that to happen, the more you’re gonna realize, it’s fine. It’s okay. You don’t really have to act out on it. But it can be intense, yeah.

– [Zubin] I mean, one time, my nine-year-old was looking at me like, “Daddy, are you all right?” And I’m like, I told her, I said, I was brushing my teeth, and I just suddenly looked so sad because I was inhabiting this wave of sadness that just arose. There was no cause, or if it was a cause, it was beyond my fathoming, and I just looked at her and I said, “Sometimes daddy just feel sad and then it passes.” And she was like, she looked right at me and she goes, “Oh, that happens to me too.”

– [Angelo] That’s awesome.

– [Zubin] And I was like, fucking eh.

– [Angelo] She’s an empath. All children are empathic.

– [Zubin] All children are. All children are.

– [Angelo] But she’s a, yeah. She’s special, the young one. She’s very, I think we barely talked about this earlier, but she, you know, when I tell her things like, “Oh, why are you meditating, Dad?” “Well, I’m trying to be aware of my thoughts and see myself as not my thoughts,” you know, I explained it to her, she goes, “Why do you need to practice to do that? That’s just how it is.”

– [Angelo] I love it. Kids are so smart.

– [Zubin] I was like, “Wait, what?” They really are. And then we beat it out of them or they beat it out of themselves, yeah.

– [Angelo] So I was gonna mention one story that this reminded me of when you talked about someone perceiving your emotion. This was, I don’t know, five years ago or something. And this wave of sadness moved through me. It was just like, I felt like walking sadness. It probably last 10 minutes or something. I don’t know. But I happened to be walking into Starbucks when it happened, in Denver. And I walked in, and I mean, I was sadness walking in there, I could feel it. I wasn’t crying or sobbing, but, physically, it was just very, very obvious sadness. And I was fine with it, but I walk in the door and this guy, this guy was a biker. He was a Hispanic dude with long hair, braided. He, I think he was a bandito. He had a biker jacket on. He was a big, big dude, very burly looking guy. He like caught me walking in the door from across the room. He looked at me and he got up and he goes, “Man, are you all right? How are you doing, man?” Like the most empathic guy. I was like, “This guy is so soft and so sweet.” He was just like, he could totally feel me walking as sadness in. I was actually really surprised. I was like, “Wow, man.” I was impressed with him. Like, dude, he pick that up like that. I wasn’t crying. I could just, I was feeling the sadness and letting it move.

– [Zubin] So he energetically picked up on that?

– [Angelo] Oh, totally. Yeah, like from across the room. It was kind of busy in there. He picked it up from across the room, walked up as was four steps in the door. He goes, “Hey man, are you all right? Like, are you doing okay?” Like, yeah. I just felt heart from this guy. I was like, “That’s awesome, man.” When you start to really feel and just let it be what it is, the universe comes to your aid and things turn out okay.

– [Zubin] Aw, man, I love it. I love it, man. Gosh, I think a good way to wrap this particular episode because-

– [Angelo] We go all over the place. We talked about thoughts and then we were talking about emotion.

– [Zubin] And then Ascites Anonymous.

– [Angelo] I’m not gonna forget that app, either.

– [Zubin] Instagroin.

– [Angelo] People are gonna be looking it up. They’re literally gonna be like, Instagroin.

– [Zubin] does this exist?

– [Angelo] How do you spell that? Put a link.

– [Zubin] Yeah, yeah. Here’s some links. Angelo, man, every time, this is my own-

– [Angelo] Great times.

– [Zubin] This is my own, this is the teaching process of teacher and student, just with a video.

– [Angelo] Well, as I told you today, the awakening process to me is so fascinating because I went through it, and in one sense, it just keeps going. It goes beyond the individual in a sense in a very real way. But it just keeps opening in various ways and things keep disentangling. But the book really came from me working with other people waking up and them showing me how they wake up. So it was really from a position of reverence, like wow, to be able to participate in this. Because I can’t wake anyone up. It’s not like that. I can say, “Hey, have you looked here? Have you looked here? Have you looked into that one thought or whatever?” That’s all I can do. I can reflect on what comes to me instinctually, but you wake yourself up. Everyone wakes themselves up. And they all do it in their own way, and it’s so beautiful. It’s like art, really. And so I just want you to know that like the student-teacher thing, I’m always slightly uncomfortable with that, because it’s not like that for me. It’s, we’re just interacting. We’re just interacting. It’s natural, it’s spontaneous. And it has an effect with certain people and that’s great.

– [Zubin] You know what? It’s funny. That’s how it feels to me. I just put it in a category, student-teacher, because that’s how I label. But man, that’s brilliant. And I got to say this to everybody on the thing, so the book is called “Awake: It’s Your Turn.’ It’s only on Kindle right now, but it’ll be on Amazon and all that other stuff later. If this at all resonated with you at all, at all, at all, just get the book and read it at your own pace and let it unfold for you and let it evoke in you what it will. And I’ve already experientially described what it did in different segments for me. And I continue to read it and reread it and go back to chapters every morning, and it is by far the most direct thing. It’s a gift, really. It’s a gift, and you have no like ego around this. This is like, “I did this thing. I put a lot of work into it, and I want it, it’s like a child, I want it to be out in the world and do its thing.” And that’s why you trekked all the way up here from Colorado to come and talk. And it’s just absolutely powerful. So share the video. I put the link to the book. As other stuff evolves, Angelo and I’ll do shows. Leave comments, leave messages.

– [Angelo] I’m sure you’re gonna get comments.

– [Zubin] Oh, they’re gonna be like, “These two assholes”-

– [Angelo] “You guys are nuts.”

– [Zubin] “Okay, first of all, ascites is offensive to me.” “Big bird has patella.”

– [Angelo] Where can I get some of that lactulose?

– [Zubin] Dude, I know, right? Where can I score some of that vitamin L, man? The other, I gotta end with this. I forgot about this. So I had this other device, this medical device.

– [Angelo] Another shitting story?

– [Zubin] Yes, another one, very similar. The rectal Swan-Ganz catheter.

– [Angelo] Come on!

– [Zubin] Yes, so you float it, you get it past the valves of Houston, this anal sphincter, you go up. Okay, the balloon up? All right. Up it goes. Up it goes. You float it, and you wedge it in the ileocecal valve and you get a direct manometry pressure to the lower esophageal sphincter. I mean, it is the.

– [Angelo] My surgeon friends are gonna love this.

– [Zubin] They’re gonna love it. They’re gonna love it. All right, guys, we out. Thanks, Angelo.

– [Angelo] Yeah, man.