Buddha At The Gas Pump Interview With David, Part 1

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Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rich Archer and my guest this week is David Spero. David is an independent spiritual teacher living in the Bay Area and he and I somehow connected with each other several years ago; I think I might have come across his website and read some things, sent him an email and we ended up on each other’s email lists sending things back and forth –chatting about sometimes spiritual things, sometimes political things and so on. We’ve become virtual spiritual friends through this process and so it’s a great pleasure for me to have David as our guest this week. As we have been doing with previous interviews, we're going to make this somewhat autobiographical. On David's website, davidspero.org, he has a whole autobiography page which you can read but I think this discussion will go into greater detail than that and I think you'll find it interesting. So David, welcome and thank you for coming on the show.

David: Thank you very much Rick.

Rick: So unless you have a better idea, I think a good place to start might be just when as a young man did you get bit by the spiritual bug and how did that feel at the time?

David: It goes right back to the very beginning of my life when I noticed that my awareness had a kind of innate radiance or knowledge embedded within it. I don't really talk about my very early years often but since you’re asking me, this seems to be coming up. I was vividly aware of consciousness at a young age, which is before I undertook any formal spiritual instruction. I remember when I was probably somewhere between seven and nine years old, the entire structure of my consciousness merged in a transcendental world—a world of divine love and golden light. This is the first major experience of pure consciousness or the Absolute or god (whatever you want to call it) that I can discuss with you. After that things faded, directly after that experience or immediately after that experience.

Rick: Before you go on to the fading, what triggered that experience or is it hard to say? Did it just happen spontaneously? You’re walking down the street and…

David: Exactly. I was literally walking down the street and it was a very beautiful day in Providence Rhode Island and the whole transmutation or transformation of consciousness happened without warning, without preparation; there was just a sudden opening.

Rick: And so when you say it was a merging into the transcendent, were you still aware of yourself as a kid walking down the street or did you lose all bodily sensation or what?

David: Yes. I lost all bodily awareness and I was catapulted into a golden love world; if you’ve read the poetry of Thomas Traherne…?

Rick: A little bit.

David: He talks about the wheat fields. It was like that—a golden and translucent perception. A perception—super perception of an exalted plane of being which was not featureless, everything was in it. This whole world was in it and yet the world was not invoked but there was some kind of clear ascension that happened in that moment.

Rick: I'm just stopping the scan here. My computer decided to scan something, OK, good it stopped. Now if someone had been watching you walking down the street while that was happening, would they have seen you continue to walk down the street in a normal way or did you fall to the ground or what?

David: [Laughing] No, I didn't fall. It just came and went like a breeze.

Rick: Just a few seconds?

David: It seemed like a few seconds, it’s hard to say. It probably went anywhere from one to twenty-five seconds if I were to just guess off-hand.

Rick: And was there anything specific and describable that you saw in that state? In terms of some sort of celestial object or was it more just a context—a celestial context that you had kind of fallen into without any discernible features?

David: It certainly had the quality of timeless being. That's the best way to describe it. There was no time, there was no space. There was an utter sense of exultation in utter self-transcendence in the most natural way you could imagine. It was really not some kind of dip into the void, the way the Buddhists understand it, nor was it the light of the paramatman as it is ordinarily understood by the Hindu community. It has something of a world and also of a wordlessness to it. It was timeless consciousness, it was beyond consciousness; it was lucid and full.

Rick: Were you still aware of the sidewalk and the trees and the cars or was it like you were totally zoned out from all that and just in this?

David: I was That alone.

Rick: No visual, no sensory perceptions?

David: Nothing, it was just That. It was just That. It was both dissolution and ascension and fullness; radiant bliss. It was totally happy without any center active in the human being. There was no center of ‘David’ in that moment at all, which is why there was no environment.

Rick: So when you came out of it, did you think, "Holy mackerel, what was that?"

David: Yes. Yes. It was sudden and unpremeditated, therefore when that left or appeared to leave, there was the sense of something tremendous having vanished—something you could live in forever, something you could just taste forever and ever.

Rick: Was there sort of an anguish for having lost it or did you feel more like suffused with bliss and all for having experienced it?

David: The feeling was I could never ever forget this. And yes there was a concomitant sense of – anguish is a good word as long as you can go into the subtly of the meaning of that word. It was a sting, the slight pain and anguish…something like that, the loss of something that was incomprehensibly blissful and radiant.

Rick: Did you feel like you had utterly lost it or that you had primarily lost it but that there was a remnant or a flavor of it that was being retained?

David: That’s a very good question. I'm not sure I can answer that, so I'll just steer away from it.

Rick: OK, no problem. So then you said that over the hours, days, weeks it kind of faded and life went on. You were a kid in Providence and you were eight or nine years old and so what next of significance?

David: During the summer vacation from school, my guess was that it was in late July or early August of probably 1963 to 1965, I was returning in several weeks back to Roman Catholic school. [laughs] This was not the monotheistic god that I experienced nor did I associate it with Judeo-Christian, Islamic…