NDM: Suzanne, can you please tell me about your
awakening, when this happened, how this happened exactly, why
you believe this happened. What was going on in your life at
Suzanne Foxton: Let me start by saying that the overwhelming quality of
"my awakening" was the realisation that there is no such thing.
That "I" couldn't "awaken" because there was no me to awaken,
and what I had taken myself for was a whimsical fabrication,
albeit a fascinating one.
Within that paradox lies enlightenment, or
whatever we're calling it today.
Apparently, I had been going through some very thorough, very
effective therapy. The thrust of the therapy was dealing with
past trauma. The memories of the trauma - three separate issues
- hit me hard, arising as vivid flashbacks; I could smell my
attacker and was seemingly in the room where the attack
occurred; the regret and remorse over an incident where I was
the perpetrator overwhelmed me; the loneliness of my childhood
engulfed me. Bit by bit, I faced these traumas, unraveled the
story of my life, and saw my past for exactly what it was, not
for the stories I had told myself about it. In other words, I
was going through in a Western fashion the kind of deep
self-inquiry that many Eastern paths
advocate. My ego and its conceits were stripped away, one by
In the midst of this, I was washing some
dishes. I took a knife from the sink. The knife became an
amazing wonder; it was exactly right; it was the most knifish
knife that ever knifed; it was life, knifing. A kind of vision
engulfed me, or replaced me; my mind needed to supply
visuals, so I seemed to see a sort of cosmic
winking in and out, creation on a grand and colourful scale,
swirling being sucked into some kind of black hole and
renewing, over and over again. I knelt on the kitchen floor.
"Whoa!" I said, like Bill and Ted on their excellent adventure.
I then wandered around the kitchen, saying to the ether, "It's
so obvious. It's so obvious!"
NDM: What was obvious?
Suzanne Foxton: Well, that everything was everything, but it
actually didn't exist; that everything was illusory, existing in
no time and no space, and yet fruitily, fleshily, impossibly
real and existent. That what I had been looking for was this,
all around me, all me. There was no difference between me and
everyone and everything. It was all, most obviously, the same
thing, and the only thing that actually existed was a sort of
absolute knowing. My persona, the game of life, everything I had
considered so important, just dropped away; certainly, the
importance dropped away, and I saw I was free, to an extent that
cannot be communicated. Everything, no matter how "bad", was the
icing on the cake of awareness; the gift of duality.
Re-entering the drama of life on these new
terms, for my ego, was to be rebuffed by anyone I tried to
explain it to. No one wants to hear about how everything is
utterly meaningless, except in its intrinsic worth by virtue of
mere existence. I began writing the blog to give vent to my
urge to describe what had happened...including trying to
communicate that it never happened at all.
Why do you think that
this knife looked different from all the other times you
had seen this knife?
It didn't. There
was nothing different about the knife. Perhaps there was
something different about how I was apparently seeing
it. It seemed to be a knife with no filters, no
projection, no interference. Just, very simply, exactly
what it was.
How long did this knife
experience last for?
It wasn't strictly "an experience",
there seems to be no one "here" to receive "an
experience". It lasts forever. It happens now.
NDM: When you saw that "It's so
obvious, that everything was everything, but it actually
didn't exist; that everything was illusory, existing in
no time and no space, and yet fruitily, fleshily,
impossibly real and existent." What do you mean exactly
by "everything was everything" and that it did not
mean this on the relative level, or on the absolute
level or some other way?
It's difficult to describe, so poetic
language seems to come up to try to do it. I suppose I
mean that I saw that everything is appearance,and that
nothing in "real life" exists other than in our apparent
ability to see energy arranged in a certain way.
"Everything was everything" I guess means that
everything is just exactly as it is,without having to
think about it, make judgments about it, or figure it
out. The poetic expression of it conveys the quality of
reality more accurately than the mind's specific,
analytical need for description. The less concepts, the
NDM: When you say "Re-entering
the drama of life on these new terms,for my ego, was to
be rebuffed by anyone I tried to explain it to.'What do
you mean by ego exactly?
I suppose my poor ol' overworked,
overvalued mind would describe ego as the personality;
the construct of the individual, which seemingly
negotiates and navigates its way through the story of
life. There is nothing whatsoever, by the way, "wrong"
with the ego. And it seems the ego is here, but not
taken as the be-all and end-all anymore; and the story
of life, not taken so seriously.
NDM: When you say that "
there is nothing whatsoever, by the way, wrong with this
ego", Do you mean your own ego in particular, or was
that a broad generalization, including everyone else's
egos as well. If so, what about the unhealthy ego of
someone who is injuring others, or itself. Contemplating
suicide. Or as in the extreme case of a murderer, a
thief, a liar and so on?
There is nothing
wrong with anyone's ego, or ego as a useful labelling
concept. There is nothing wrong with anything;
everything is. Unhealthy egos, or those labelled as
such, certainly seem to exist.Homicidal tendencies and
acts exist, as well as suicidal ones; also more
irrational sociopathology, and, of course, people who
are big fat meanies. I suppose these are balanced by
creative joy and loving nurturing kindness, altruism,
philanthropy, and other good stuff like that; the stuff
that doesn't make it into the news as much.
someone with a (ego) "story" like this also not to be
suicidal ego wasn't taking the life story so seriously,
perhaps suicide wouldn't even come into the question?
NDM:. Do you mean this strictly from
the absolute non dual level, or the relative dualistic
level? Do you see a difference, a distinction of these
levels or do you not recognize or acknowledge these
I'm not sure what you mean. In the
unfolding story, remembered now, I was suicidal for
years; 12 or so attempts, two of them nearly successful.
Relatively, if I hadn't been taking my story to be all
that I am, it is unlikely I would have been suicidal.
Absolutely, there is no one suffering, but suffering
certainly happens, and is as much an important part of
life as anything else.
NDM: Where does morality,
(right and wrong) play into this equation?
There is no
right or wrong. There is what is. Including many
differing ideas about what is right and what is wrong.
However, compassion often seems preferable; yet if every
apparent individual were consistently compassionate
without exception...gag, barf! How dull would THAT be?
AND there'd probably be a loved-up population explosion.
We live in Utopia. We
are Utopia. We are the perfect, dualisticplayground with
every possibility shining, weaving, tearing, growing,
destroying, creating NOW.
NDM: If someone was not
aware of these neo advaita teachings and were to read
this, living in Iraq or Afghanistan for example, who had
just had their family and children murdered, home
destroyed and so on. Based on your experience with
communicating this message. How do you believe this
would be interpreted?
Wow, it wildly varies. I've had
contact with people who have had problems on the level
of Job, much as you describe. Lots of anger, often;
outrage; but also acceptance. It's amazing, what is
bearable. It's incredible, what kind of apparent healing
can occur. And through anecdotal evidence, those who
respond to devastation with compassion are the ones who
feel the most peace; if peace is, indeed, the goal. All
things unfold, the horrific and the beautific. It can be
NDM: Can you please tell me
what happened to this ego as a result of this
Nothing happened to the ego. The ego
still arises in awareness, if that's the preferred way
of putting it on a Thursday morning. I suppose the ego
is, paradoxically, looked upon with more affection and
tolerance (compassion, perhaps) by itself than before.
I guess the
point is that there seems to be at least a lot less of
some sort of receiver of knowing, or doing, or being, or
seeing feeling touching hearing smelling. Knowing known
by itself. A gift,from the gift to the gift. Just the
knowing. Just the gift. No knower. No giver.
NDM: So if nothing happened to
the ego. If it is still there, then which self are you?
Are you saying there are two selves, or you are still
this ego, or something other than it?
I'm saying that there is only one
thing. The mind will try to split it, understand it,
categorise it into this compartment and that pigeon
hole...what I am, what is, can be labelled "awareness",
and ego, toast in the morning, kids needing a ride to
the cricket match, the wall, the body, the mind, the
feelings, all seemingly arise in this awareness. It's
all one thing, seamless, whole, perfect.
NDM; So if there is no knower or
giver, just the knowing, the gift, how is the knowing
possible? Who or what is this knowing known to?
How the knowing is possible is
something the mind is preoccupied with. It wants to
figure it out. Knowing is, unto itself. The knowing is
known by knowing; the giving is given to the gift. There
is only One.
NDM: Did you ever
study meditation, or any traditional forms of
spirituality before your awakening or read any books
about this subject of non-duality or consciousness?
Suzanne Foxton: It's not my
awakening...but I understand we have to use limited
concepts and language.
No, I didn't study
and formal meditation. Just the kind of "notice your
breath" stuff that gets into mainstream Western mental
health circles. Jesus, I can't meditate to save my life.
Sit down in an uncomfortable position and try not to
think. 'Oh no! I'm thinking about not thinking. Ah -
there's a gap. Oh shit, I thought about the gap! Now I'm
thinking about thinking about the gap. AND I have to
pee. Oh, f*** it.' That's about how a meditation session
goes for me. I don't even attempt it. It's unnecessary,
and I'm not talking to any other apparent egos "out
there". If you want to meditate, meditate. If it's good
and blissful and still and calming and seems beneficial,
go for it. But I suppose for "me" that all apparent
states seem meditative. There is stillness present in
the loudest cacophony. There is bliss within turmoil
Every state is meditation; every act, a prayer;
something like that.
I read no books about nonduality "before"...my
therapist, however, follows a spiritual teacher and he
introduced the concept to me. He called it "metaphysical
nonduality". At the time I thought,'OK....that's weird,
but I'm definitely making progress here so I'll just let
the weirdness slide.' "After" whatever it is with the
apparent knife "happened", I saw Tony Parsons and
thankfully got some words that seemed to fit the seeming
phenomenon of 'clear seeing'.
For a while,
I thought I was going crazy - or, more accurately, even
crazier. I occasionally felt like I was seeing from just
next to the right of my head and a little higher than my
eyes; that I was coming out of my body through the top
of my head; and that I had no edges. My mind didn't know
how to handle that stuff. My therapist would just say,
'Oh, don't worry about it.' I thought, easy for you to
say Mate, I'm coming out of the top of my head here!
However, although there's no process in time, not
really, all that seems to have settled down. The
identification I got with the description of "awakening"
(or whatever) from Tony was just enough to reassure my
NDM: What words did Tony Parsons use that seemed to fit
the phenomenon of 'clear seeing'?
It was simply
the phrase "this is it".
NDM: Can you
please tell me which one do you see as being you? Which
one is your identity? Oneness or these inclinations,
predispositions, habit formations, urges to write blogs
and so on? What is the exact relationship between the
I see everything as
being me. My identity is unleashed. The habits,urges,
inclinations etc. are just what seems to come up. The
exact relationship between these elements - oneness and
the ego-bundle - is that they are the same thing, in
apparently different, fascinating, guises.
NDM: After your
awakening, how much time did you spend contemplating, or
investigating through self enquiry, these inclinations,
predispositions, habit formations, urges, your shadow
self, The subconscious mind up to this point in time?
None. I just
let 'em rip. Taking note of them with amusement seems to
happen a lot.
NDM: Was this metaphysical non-duality therapist
knowledgeable in traditional Vedanta, was he Self
realized or was this some form of "neo advaita"
Neither I think. He's
friends with this French guru-dude named Alain Forget,
who has a kind of non-traditional formula called the
4-D's: distanciation, dis-identification, and I forget
the other two.
NDM: When you
said you were coming out of the top of your head.
occurred what did this metaphysical non duality
therapist say this was? What do you think this was?
therapist is an expert in trauma and addiction; the non
duality stuff is just his hobby, for want of a better
way to put it. I'm not sure what he thought it was; he
just told me not to worry about it. Probably that I was
having a therapeutic psychotic break! He likes my blog
NDM: When you describe your brain as being
fevered. How would you describe the energy of your brain
today? Is it usually active or dull, or very clear?
brain" was just a pretty turn of phrase. Brain not
really fevered; it seems calm, clear, active but nicely
paced, don't sleep too much (not from any worries, but
because I seem enthusiastic to start the day). This is
most of the time, except when my husband leaves the cap
off the toothpaste for the 4,235th time in a row!
NDM: What were your
spiritual beliefs before this awakening took place?
spiritual beliefs were very vague, somewhat agnostic,
and more or less along the lines of the Wiccan
philosophy of "Do what you will and harm no one".
NDM: Has this changed at all
since your awakening or do you still practice this?
Pretty much. I've
never been a Wiccan, by the way, but I've always liked
that phrase. Also, I was raised in the United Methodist
church, which is as laid-back as Christianity gets. UM
minister: 'So you sinned? Well...that's not good, but oh
well, just try not to do it again.' The UM philosophy is
not so far off "and harm none, do what you will".
NDM: Have you
heard of the Sanskrit terms samskaras and vasanas that
are created through karma? Past actions that leave deep
I have read these things, yes. The story can be just as
interesting, complicated and involved as you like!
NDM: When you
say " I'm still a procrastinator and a bit of a
perfectionist, but these don't seem to be character
traits that are judged to be "bad" anymore. When these
tendencies arise, do you still act out on them like
before. If so, why do you think you are doing this?
I suppose the actions
are similar, but the feelings and thoughts are quite
different; more relaxed feelings, and more magnanimous
NDM: Do you
have a choice, or is this something beyond your control?
there is an unfolding story where I have a choice to
change certain behaviours, much as the characters in a
film often seem to make choices. Truly, it is choiceless.
NDM: When these emotions
arise, do they have an impact on your decision making or
your actions, choice of words, behavior and so on?
not to the same extent...apparently. More importantly, I
don't poke it with a stick all the time. Whatever
NDM: When you said that "I
was free, to an extent that cannot be communicated.'
What were you free of exactly and why do you say this
cannot be communicated?
I can't communicate it no matter how many times and in
how many different ways you ask; it can't be
communicated because it's not an idea, or a feeling or a
concept, it's...well, everything borne of nothing. And
THAT just sounds silly! And what was I free from,
exactly? Free from all the boxed-in ideas I had about
what my life was. Free from having to make things
"better". Free from the treadmill of goal, action, goal
achieved, contentment still elusive. Free from
everything I ever thought was important; free from the
story of my life being the be-all and end-all. Free from
the tyranny of the body and the mind and the emotions.
Free from everything, because I was never anything that
could be enslaved. I was never anything at all.
NDM: When you
say "I began writing the blog to give vent to my urge to
describe what had happened' Where did this urge come
from. Who's urge was it and who was venting it?
Ida know where the
urge comes from; it's just there. I don't particularly
care where it comes from, either. There it is. It's my
urge, and I'm venting it, in the drama of life that
seems to unfold but is taken with a wryly raised eyebrow
NDM: When you
say "No one wants to hear about how everything is
utterly meaningless, except in its intrinsic worth by
virtue of mere existence" Is this your personal opinion,
view, belief, conclusion you arrived at and if so can
you please tell me what is the basis for this view?
was a broad and sweeping generalisation. Perhaps there
are a heck of a lot of people who want to hear that
everything is utterly meaningless, except in its
intrinsic worth by virtue of mere existence. How do I
know? I could be totally wrong. However, based on the
anecdotal evidence of how friends and family react when
I present this concept, which is nearly 100% negatively,
and buoyed by further accounts from a disciple or two at
a Tony Parsons meeting, one of whom was deserted by her
best friend of 20 years when presented with a similar
concept...it would seem that blanket meaninglessness is
not a popular idea.
NDM: You mentioned in your
conscious TV interview that you went to see Tony Parsons
after your awakening. Was he helpful to you in
understanding this and if so, can you please explain
I believe I answered
this in a previous question, more or less. His words
seemed to fit; I finally had some words to describe what
"had happened". It was, apparently, comforting to my
mind, which still thinks it needs to figure everything
out...or at least have some vague handle on what's going
NDM: Has your
character, temperament, personality, habits,
proclivities, inclinations changed since your awakening?
It's not my
awakening...you can have it! Free for all. But I suppose
I've apparently become less "lost"; there is very little
suffering, although there is pain; all those "negative"
states and emotions seem to be relished (if not enjoyed)
rather than resisted. It's all life, after all. I'm
still a procrastinator and a bit of a perfectionist, but
these don't seem to be character traits that are judged
to be "bad" anymore. The procrastination leads to
adrenaline-fired creativity, on a tight deadline; the
perfectionism seems to foster more carefully honed work,
which, at the moment, is writing and work in Photoshop,
and the very interesting job of tending to my family.
It all seems much the same,
but without bouts of depression or running away from
what used to seem unbearable. And it is all
fantastically, phantasmagorically fascinating, right
down to the pile of dog poo I tell the kids to step
around. However, it was much the same "before"...if my
head ever managed to shut up for a minute. Now, if my
head is noisy, I ignore it. It can do what it likes.
NDM: What would you say is the
difference with an awakening glimpse and liberation?
know. It seemed to whack me over the head, over the
everything in fact, and if it was a glimpse I'm still
glimpsing, and in fact, it's all been one big
NDM: What would
you say is enlightenment?
there's no such thing. It implies something that can be
obtained by some non-existent person in some
non-existent future. Oneness isn't getting any "one-er".
Being isn't going to be any more existent than it is.
This is enlightenment, with interesting and perhaps
misguided commentary laid on top. Life is enlightenment.
Everything is enlightenment, even the misguided
commentary. What people are perhaps looking for is their
life, "reality", whatever, exactly as it is...they just
can't believe it. There doesn't need to be some knifish
knife or years meditating or the careful stripping away
of the ego. This is it.
NDM: According to the
Buddhist tradition, there are
Seven Factors of Enlightenment/nirvana. There are
also 5 hindrances to enlightenment/nirvana /perfect
1. Mindfulness (sati) This is being mindful of every
word, thought and action one takes.
investigation of the dhamma (dhammavicaya) This is
similar to atma vichara, self enquiry practiced in
Vedanta. It is ongoing investigation of the Self , or
awakened nature, Buddha nature and other.
or happiness (piti)
Concentration (samadhi) One pointed concentration in
what ever you are doing.
6. Equanimity (upekkha)
What are your thoughts on this?
My thoughts are OMG,
what a lot of work! Many of these qualities and actions,
interestingly, seem to be unravelling "backwards" (after
my thingy - call it awakening if you want!
are the five hindrances to enlightenment according
to the Buddhist tradition.
kamacchanda — sensual
vyapada — ill-will
thinamiddha — obduracy of
mind and mental factors
restlessness and worry
vicikiccha — doubt
What are your
thoughts on these?
Again, unraveling backwards, these
"blocks" may well arise from "time" to "time"...but they
are not taken seriously. Nor do they arise with any
force. Any "defects of character" that seem to come up
for the character, Suzanne, apparently making her way
through Samsara, are regarded (by who? Ida know) with
affection, tolerance, amusement, compassion. The same
with the same traits arising in the behaviour of
apparent "others". It seems that rather than clinging to
the world, the world is loved by the world; the world is
love, manifest, and because it is expressed in duality,
both sides of each coin are love, and loved.
NDM: When you say already
"here", do you mean like to "be in the now" as in the
teachings of Eckhart Tolle. What do you mean by "here"
I mean that there is only now. You don't have to make
some effort to "be in the now". You are in the now,
whether you want to be or not. You are the now, whether
you know it or not. This is it, whatever thoughts are
arising. It is always now o'clock. This is wholeness,
now. There is nothing that needs to be done, but most
people don't believe that and would rather play. So
play! That's fine too. It's all the same thing.