DEATH, REBIRTH & VANITY
John is an
Irish born flautist presently living in the Netherlands
where he teaches flute and writes and records his own music.
flute at The Royal Irish Academy of Music in Dublin, and
later continued his studies of flute and improvisation at
the Rotterdam Conservatory
NDM: Can you tell me about your
past interests in spirituality?
John Devitt: In the past my
involvement ran the gamut from being an altar boy in the Catholic church,
through becoming a born again Christian during my teenage years, followed by
reading Alan Watts and Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle
Joining a Zen meditation group
here in the Netherlands. Out of that getting (rather unwittingly) involved in a
group led by a 'channeling' medium which ultimately led to what might be
described as my 'awakening' (a very rude one I might add!). This was followed by
interest in Tibetan Buddhism, attending various retreats in that context and
carrying out daily meditational practices, and reading the I Ching on a regular
Thereafter the discovery of J
Krishnamurti and the involvement in organizing Summer retreats to study his work
and later on monthly meetings in which a video of his was shown as a point of
departure for group dialogue.
NDM: What about ongoing
John Devitt: I have no interest
any more in participation in activities which overtly claim to be spiritual or
religious in three dimensional reality at the moment.
I do still enjoy reading
inspired texts, and am subscribed to various email newsletters (The nonduality
highlights, Krishnamurti daily quotes...) I also sporadically post and comment
on the ND Highlights Facebook page, among others (thanks to your mail I again
visited your site and read an excellent dialogue with Robert Saltzman on
Now its 'just this' and rolling
with the punches.
the point of death and the breakup of the body, (see details
what happens to the mind?
JD. No idea.
Cross that bridge when I get to it. (or not!). I imagine the daily experience of
falling asleep is akin to the death experience. One has to completely let go of
control in order to sleep, and this happens mostly by itself at a certain point
after we lie down. If I’m worried about whether or not I’ll wake up next morning
sleep will tend not to come, or at least be delayed. None of us has the
guarantee that they’ll see another day once sleep happens. Most of us are not in
the least afraid of this letting go/surrender which sleep is. Why worry then
about death, or reincarnation for that matter?
knowing or not knowing this a part of being enlightened?
JD: I would have
to claim enlightenment as a personal experience to be able to answer that.
NDM: Is rebirth into a heaven, hell, human, animal, spirit, hungry ghost realm a
JD: “In my
Father’s house there are many mansions”. Life manifests and explores itself in
trillions of possible apparent forms. Considering the nonexistence of time and
space, rebirth (continuation in time and space in another form) is of no concern
to that which is essential. If liberation has any meaning at all it would have
to mean freedom from identification with a preconceived notion of what a so
called ‘enlightened person” would or would not do. Life happens
non-volitionally, though the experience of exercising volition may be had.
NDM: Does an
enlightened person fear aging, sickness and death?
JD: I make
no claim to an enlightened state. Fear of aging, sickness and death happen.
They’re all part of the deal. Whatever the enlightened state may be, what’s it
worth if it turns out to be a protective blanket against the variety and
richness of experiencing life in a human body? We’re in the arena and the bull
may rage or graze.
about suffering, does enlightenment have anything to do with this and not
JD: My own
experience is that suffering fuels the search for its alleviation
(enlightenment). Interestingly, in the Dutch language the word for enlightenment
is 'verlichting'. But this word has broader range of meaning than simply the
translation of the English enlightenment in the spiritual sense. Verlichting can
point to the lighting in one's house or on the street. But it's also
specifically used to describe the alleviation of suffering and pain (de pijn
werd verlicht = the pain was alleviated).
I have no
experience of an ongoing situation in time where suffering is off the menu.
There may well be others who have this ongoing experience of no suffering, but
I’m inside ‘this skin’ so to speak, and can only speak from here. My own search
for enlightenment had at root the illusion that there was a state to be attained
here which was only blissful...a permanent cloud nine. Of course there’s
physical pain and discomfort which call for their own remedies (or acceptance if
no remedy is available). The alleviation of psychological suffering may follow
the felt understanding of the illusory nature of the psychologically suffering
NDM: Would an enlightened person wear seductive clothing, makeup, have
plastic surgery, (implants, Botox, liposuction), or even
color their hair
to appear younger, more attractive for their self esteem, or to attract
JD: I’ve no
idea what an enlightened person is, but apparently lots of people do all of
those things, and I’ve no idea on what basis I could make a distinction between
an enlightened or unenlightened person.
NDM: What about knowledge?
JD: I’m not
sure whats behind the question. On a practical level, the discomfort of being
lost in a strange environment may be alleviated by asking someone who knows the
terrain for directions.
NDM: Yes, I meant the kind of knowledge that could help someone else with this?
Some traditions say it’s about knowledge only. "Jnana". What’s your view on
this? Do you think this is enough?
JD: On a
practical level information, or knowledge may be enough to solve a particular
problem. On a psychological/mental/spiritual level it has more to do with the
art of navigation. If this is not a felt, living dynamic for the one whose
assistance is being sought then no amount of verbal knowledge communicated will
be of any real value to the seeker.
NDM: Would an enlightened person take sleeping pills, drink alcohol, take
recreational drugs (smoke marijuana, LSD), or medication for mood control,
anxiety, depression (Prozac, or Viagra)?
NDM: Would an enlightened person have an aversion to harsh or desolate living
conditions, isolation, desert, jungle, forest, (excessively cold or hot weather
climates), fear of wild animals, snakes, scorpions, bears, tigers, crocodiles,
sharks and spiders?
this person is living in a human body all sorts of aversions are possible. Many
of those mentioned would seem to fall into the category of the biological
imperative of the organism to protect itself from danger and harshness. As a
species though, we have been known to challenge ourselves in all of these areas.
Some of us have ‘mastered’ them and others have perished or at least sustained
injury or illness in such conditions.
NDM: Is there a way to bypass this biological organism?
Apparently we are capable of dissociation from the body. Many who have been
subject to extreme physical abuse report this. It looks like a survival
mechanism which operates in the face of unbearable physical circumstances. On
the other hand there are also those who consciously cultivate this dissociation
in meditative states. I’m not sure though, if hanging out in the absolute on an
ongoing basis is a good strategy for navigating daily life as a physical human
being. My own experience is that its a natural need to spend time in silence,
not focused on activity and the external world, though at this stage it would be
hard to judge whether its natural or just a conditioning from earlier periods of
more disciplined ‘spiritual practice’. There’s always a return to activity and
NDM: Can an enlightened person lose their temper, use foul language, or harsh
speech, sarcasm, ridicule, make off color jokes?
JD: People most definitely do! They may also apologise afterwards if it becomes
apparent that their behaviour has upset another.
NDM: Why would they do that exactly?
speak for others, but there’s a sense of shared existence which is both precious
and vulnerable , and one feels the need to remain sensitive to remaining ‘in
communion’’. In a relationship of established trust though, apparently blunt or
harsh forms of communication might be no problem.
NDM: Would an enlightened person make a legal disclaimer for their teachings, as
to not be held responsible? (Please see example below).
if liberation means anything, it cannot possibly know responsibility for an
apparent other. The nature of the game is that no specific outcome of any
interaction can be guaranteed. This obviates the need for disclaimers. Trouble
is that not many people seem to know this ;-))! The beautiful paradox is that
absolute freedom = absolute responsibility, though the mind can’t possibly get a
handle on this.
NDM: Could a disclaimer have something to do with an aversion of being sued, or
losing ones money, income?
legal system clearly demonstrates that this is the case.
NDM: Why would an enlightened person fear loss of income?
stated earlier I make no claim to the enlightened state or the qualification
‘enlightened person’. In the latter half of 2013 the direction our own financial
situation was heading was starting to cause us concern. My main source of income
(teaching flute) was on the decline due to diminishing numbers of student
enrollments. My wife’s private practice was also getting quieter. Fear and
concern were experienced, but these made way for the consideration of
alternative plans of action. In the end things took a turn for the better,
apparently of their own accord.
Example of a Non-dual
Here’s some small-print
legal stuff that we are obliged to tell you
– it’s for your protection as well as ours.
By using this website,
purchasing or attending a one-to-one
session, attending a meeting, satsang, or
non dual retreat or otherwise engaging with
(so and so), you acknowledge that you have
read, comprehended and fully agreed with the
This website is for
general information and entertainment
purposes only. Use of this website, or
attending a meeting, non dual retreat or
one-to-one non dual session with ( so and
so ), or having an non dual email
dialogue with him, is NOT a replacement for
or substitute to face-to-face, in-person,
qualified medical, psychological,
psychiatric or legal advice, diagnosis or
treatment. ( So and so ) is not a
medical doctor nor a licensed
psychotherapist. ( So and so) does
not diagnose, cure, heal, or treat disease
or psychological conditions or otherwise
prescribe any kind of medication whatsoever.
If you think you are
suffering from a medical or psychological
disorder or condition, please consult your
doctor or other appropriately qualified
professional person or service immediately.
You are invited to consult your doctor
and/or therapist about one-to-ones sessions,
meetings or retreats with ( so and so) in
order to make an educated and informed
decision as to whether or not they are right
for you. IF YOU ARE CONSIDERING OR
CONTEMPLATING SUICIDE OR FEEL THAT YOU MAY
BE A DANGER TO YOURSELF OR OTHERS, PLEASE
NOTIFY THE POLICE OR CONTACT YOUR LOCAL
EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES IMMEDIATELY.
Never, ever disregard professional advice or
delay seeking professional advice as a
result of something you have read on this
site or from anything that ( so and so )
says or writes to you. ( so and so )
shall not be liable for claims or damages,
and expressly disclaims any and all
liability of any nature, for any action, or
non-action, taken as a result of his
one-to-one sessions, meetings or retreats.
The word “non dual
counselling” here is not used as a medical
term, but simply describes an in-depth,
honest, exploratory, private and
confidential conversation. Sessions with
( so and so ) may be considered
“spiritual” or non dual in nature rather
then therapeutic or prescriptive. A
one-to-one non dual session, meeting or
retreat is intended and designed to be
informational and educational for you, and
provide information, support and
encouragement based on information what you
choose to share with ( so and so).
You are fully and solely responsible for all
information that you provide to (so and
so), for your interpretation of ( So
and so') words and actions, and for all
actions resulting from or relating to your
encounter with (so and so)
(so and so) does not
guarantee or warrant any particular outcome
or result from your non dual session,
meeting or retreat, or other kind of non
dual encounter, with him, and makes no
claims as to the effectiveness of the
Using ( so and so) services
is entirely at your own risk without
warranty of any kind, either expressed or
implied, including without limitation any
warranty for information given, advice, or
opinion. The services are requested by your
own choice and with your inherent singular
Thank you for your
End of disclaimer.
END OF INTERVIEW
See videos by John Devitt