Rick Linchitz, true to what he says in this book, has no investment in being a ‘teacher’ and has a busy medical practice. What he says, though, is the most direct expression of the truth beyond the truths of spirituality and religion.
The folks at Non-Duality Press wanted his plain speaking, rigorous and humorous approach to be available more widely, so they transcribed some of his talks and satsangs. The talks are arranged under subject headings, rather than chronologically, so that you can read from cover-to-cover or dip in as you please for inspiration. It is their hope that you will feel the thrill of resonance that wells up inside when something within us recognizes the beautiful simplicity of The Loving Awareness in Which All Arises.
“What you have before you here in Dr.Rick’s book is another delightful and beautiful message that explores the ramifications of his understanding that Consciousness is all there is. Once you really understand that to the point where it defines the every living moment of your so-called life, you are truly home and need look no farther. I do believe that is actually happening more and more these days on planet earth.” – [From the Foreword] by Satyam Nadeen
Please enjoy a sample chapter reprinted below with permission from the publisher. You can also download the sample here [in .pdf format] if you prefer to read that way. I know some have a hard time with white text on a dark background.
Are You Awake?
The Story of Rick
Who you really are transcends all stories. All the stories, all concepts of time and space, all are contained in who you are.
Most of my life I spend talking about medical things because I’m a medical doctor in the United States.
But for whatever reason I show up every year at Baden Baden in Germany, talking about spiritual things, and I have absolutely no idea why that is. And I don’t care. Over the years I found it more and more difficult to initiate, to begin speaking about this. I seem to have less and less to say spontaneously.
The only time I ever talk about this is when somebody else brings it up, so today that job falls to you. Anybody have any questions or anything they’d like to discuss?
Baden Baden Wintertime!
Not everybody knows you. Perhaps you could say a few words about how you came to spiritual topics.
That’s even harder to explain. It seemed very important when it happened and now it seems less and less important to talk about.
All my life, as with most of us, I’d had this precious notion of an individual in control of his life. If things seemed to be going my way I was very satisfied and proud, but when things weren’t going my way, which wasn’t unusual, I was angry, disappointed and generally miserable. But there was always the thought that I just had to work harder or do something different and I could make life go my way.
I would meditate hours every day because I thought that would get me enlightened. I would exercise hours every day because I thought that would get me strong and healthy. And I would work even more hours every day because I thought that would get me rich and famous and successful. Then one day I was diagnosed with cancer and I lost my health, my medical practice and my wealth, and every definition, every way in which I had defined myself, was gone…
Over the next year and a half I sank deeper and deeper into despair. During this time I continued to try to gain control of life; since I still believed it was up to me to get myself healthy, it must have been my fault that I got sick. So I worked harder and harder and I meditated four or five hours every day and I worked out physically harder and I started taking vitamins and minerals and all kinds of things. All of this was surrounding a feeling of desperation.
And then at one point I just felt that there was no chance. I felt like giving up. I was in complete despair of gaining control over everything. In every way that I had defined myself I was finished. I had nowhere to turn and in every way I felt alone. It was in that state I first heard Nadeen.
I had gone down to Costa Rica for a rest; I had never heard of Satyam Nadeen and knew nothing about the place that he owned. He said something that I had heard before—but somehow I had never really heard it: He said, ‘Consciousness is all there is and you are that.’
And in that moment there was the realization that there was no Rick to fix anything, that there’s only one consciousness. There’s no-one outside consciousness to change consciousness. And in that same moment Rick disappeared. And in fact there was a realization that there was never any such thing as Rick. There’s only consciousness unfolding.
And there was complete peace and relief. That peace never left.
In this ‘story’ it seemed that the Rick character had had experiences before that in meditation, there was deep peace and unbelievable ecstasy, but those were always seen as an experience happening to Rick and they were always seen as something that if Rick worked harder he could go get and get back. This was different. This was much quieter, less spectacular. It was a simple disappearance of any belief in the reality of individuality.
It was not an experience happening to Rick, just a disappearance of anyone who could have an experience. I said that these ‘events’ have become less important to me. I used to start out my satsangs sort of introducing myself in that way—telling the story—but truthfully this is a story happening to a character in a play. Not really any particularly more or less interesting than any of the other stories of all the other characters. When the play is seen through, all the stories are equally interesting. There’s recognition that the story has never been that important. Who you really are transcends all stories. And it’s not about an entity in time—it’s outside of time. All the stories, all concepts of time and space, all are contained in who you are. So the story has become more and more vague. It’s more like a memory in the present that has sort of faded.
Are you awake?
Rick is not awake; Rick is a character in the play. There’s no character in the play that’s awake. The concept that a character can awaken is associated with a lot of suffering. The essence of awakening is the recognition of the absence of the character, the disappearance of the character. The realization that the character never was, that he or she never existed in the first place.
“Awakening is your birthright—that’s who you are.” ~Rick L.
Was it because you were sick and going through a very difficult time before?
In the story, there are lots of patterns that seem to be potentially associated with awakening. But they are completely unimportant. There’s no more importance to any one of those awakening stories than there is to somebody who learns to play football or has a drink in a bar. Awakening is your birthright—that’s who you are. The story goes on; the individuals who seem to awaken don’t get any benefit from it, because they’re gone! The belief that there ever was an individual is gone. It’s like winning the lottery and then not being able to be around to collect it.
The moment that it happened, did you notice any physical changes?
All kinds of things happened: sensations, feelings, thoughts—but there was no longer anyone experiencing them. I should add that many of the questions about the specifics of enlightenment or enlightenment experience come from the mind attempting to find a way to judge itself or to find for itself what you feel is missing. So listening to these enlightenment stories is in some ways a trap, because the mind will find a way to start comparing itself: Am I there? Am I not there? This could be awakening, but you know it’s not exactly like his or the other guy’s. And of course it’s a very clever way to continue the need for belief in this concept of an individual.
So when you first realized that you are no-one, did all the parts of the identity that you had before suddenly disappear or did it take a while? Did the habit of them keep repeating so that you would keep examining it and then they started to fall away?
Let’s go back to what I’ve mentioned about time and history, and then I’ll try to answer the question by talking about a history.
First thing: we’ve talked about this in these meetings in the past and I’ve said that we’re talking about All There Is. In talking about All There Is means there’s nothing outside of it and nothing that isn’t included in it. So within All There Is, and arising within All There Is, is this notion of time; it’s just a notion, a concept arising within this All There Is. It is timeless, it’s eternally present, it’s the eternal now, it’s the eternal unfolding in the present. So in this presence, this nowness, there’s a notion of time, but where’s history? How does history develop in this? How is individual history accounted for in All There Is, since there are no individuals, just oneness appearing as discrete individuals?
So in this eternal present, there’s this notion that there are individuals sitting in a so-called room. There’s also the concept of space; the idea of an expanse of space is arising in this All There Is. All There Is includes all that, so it has no size and it has no time; it’s timeless, it’s sizeless, but it appears to be a room. There’s the appearance of a room arising in this oneness and there appear to be individuals sitting in this room. And in this appearance there also appears to be something that is called the past and that something seems to include a history of the apparent individuals in this room, but all of this is being created, constantly created, in the most unbelievable and inexplicable way in this eternal now.
So, that being said, there still is this apparent history that can be spoken about, and so we’ll talk about the history of this Rick character. The Rick character had this precious belief, which, as I said, seems to be universally precious, that there was an individual named Rick who could accomplish things and who could work really hard and achieve anything he so desired if he worked hard enough at it. And it was a given, so when things didn’t go exactly the way he wanted them to, he would just work harder and make sure it happened. And there was a real belief that anything he wanted he could definitely accomplish if he worked hard enough and did whatever had to be done.
So when Rick got sick over ten years ago it was a great shock because one of the things that Rick was sure he could do was to live to 110 or as long as he wanted because he was never going to get sick, never have any illnesses, and that was the case up to age 52 or thereabouts. He gets this illness and it was indeed a shock and a disappointment. There comes with this illness a fear of death and a desire to make sure that this didn’t happen—a very strong desire—and of course Rick attacked this the same way he attacks everything else. I had to learn about cancer, about what makes it tick because I started to realize that there was nothing that conventional medicine had to offer me after the surgery; there was no way to prevent it coming back. The only thing they told me was to keep getting X-rays, which didn’t seem like prevention at all; it just was trying to detect it early enough to be able to treat it again. So I started looking and reading and studying, but all this time there was a fear of death and maybe an expectation that I was going to die. It was a terrible shock to my system that things weren’t the way they were supposed to be—I was supposed to be healthy—I was arrogantly healthy…
You thought you had control over your health?
Yes, control over my health and control over everything else of course. So added to this backdrop of intense working, I worked harder now than I did on anything ever in my life—and I’m used to hard work. My spiritual experience was in the Zen tradition, so I would go to these sesshins in a Zen temple and spend fourteen hours a day for seven days in walking and seated meditation and getting cracked on the back if I was falling asleep. What would you expect of a compulsive guy like me?
All of that was going on, so I was working a bit harder, and somewhere along the line was this conviction that if Rick became enlightened his cells would become enlightened and he wouldn’t die; the cancer was going to leave his body and would never come back. So that was when I started following gurus and going to India and traveling around.
After the diagnosis, about a year and a half into this quest, there was a process that felt like sinking into despair, like really maybe I couldn’t do this, because along with the desire to cure myself there was also an intense disgust about being imperfect. How could this have happened? What have I done wrong? There was self-blame and a lot of stuff going on. There was this kind of paradoxical series of thoughts and emotions going back and forth: trying to get better, trying to make sure my kids wouldn’t lose their father and my wife wouldn’t lose her husband, and on the other hand not wanting to live because I was disgusted with myself and angry.
I was almost like a Zen koan—an insoluble paradox—with these two mutually exclusive kinds of feelings and emotions. Then I went to a retreat given by my friend Satyam Nadeen in Costa Rica where he said, ‘Consciousness is all there is and you are that.’
I had heard it before and it wasn’t anything so outrageous, but now there was a total sense of there being nothing I could do. I was like a wet noodle, like a puddle. Every way in which I had defined myself was already gone. I defined myself as a physician but I wasn’t able to work, I was a husband and father and I was kind of drifting away from my family, I was an athlete and now I was unable to do anything physical. Any way that I had defined myself was gone. Successful no longer, at least not in the way that most people define success.
I had built up a structure, a history that described who I was. I used to talk as if I had a résumé and I was always working on my résumé, trying to add things to it, trophies—psychological trophies. All of a sudden this structure that I had built up with all these hard edges just turned into a puzzle—sorry, puddle, but it was a puzzle too. And this puddle was shapeless and formless; then I hear this: Consciousness is all there is and you are that.
There’s this recognition that, if consciousness is all there is, who is this Rick character trying to change everything? Who is he and what’s he working on? I mean, if consciousness is all there is, then there’s no-one separate from consciousness, it’s just consciousness, it’s just unfolding. In that instant there was a sense of great relief. It wasn’t like fireworks going off or ecstasy—just a deep relief. Like [exhales deeply] phew! And there was a great sense of freedom, because no longer was there anything to do.
At first it seemed like I didn’t have anything to do because that was the only language I had, but it became clear that not only didn’t I have anything to do, but there was no I to do it. There was no-one left, there was no I, there was no you, there was nothing to do, there was nothing separate; it was just consciousness, just oneness. It was just All There Is, just That, and the history disappeared too, because without the individual, what was this past like? What exactly was this story? It was just a story arising in the now, that’s what it is. What’s being discussed now is a story arising in the eternal present of this supposed individual who had a supposed history. That’s why, when I talk about before or after the shift, it’s just figurative, it’s just a story arising in the now.
Given that, it seems that there’s a history unfolding over time, so it seems that there’s a recognition, first that I didn’t have to do anything, and then there was no I to do it, and then there was no history. But there’s also recognition that, every time that some apparent insight occurred, it was always known. In fact there’s a recognition in this moment that there was no time before this now. This was always known, this is known in this room, this is known because this is what oneness is. There’s no individual in this room that doesn’t know this. If there’s a tingle of recognition it’s because that’s what is, that’s who you are. There’s no individual who doesn’t know this.
I can resonate with some of what you say; I can just tell from your story as I’m checking it back with my own situation—I see that I’m invested in that kind of ambition and pursuit of success. Not for its own sake, but because I feel incomplete, lacking or not good enough. Like if I am productive or achieve all the ambitions my life will work. It’s sad to say but utter failure is the big opening door. There’s nothing to put effort into because there’s no-one here actually doing it.
Yes. And the most fascinating side of that is that the apparent life doesn’t stop there. The apparent seeking of success goes on, but there’s nobody seeking it any more. There was a period of time when I was so disabled because of my illness that I wasn’t practicing medicine, but somehow it seemed to start happening again. I don’t know how that happened and there are lots of hours of work and there’s apparent effort. There’s an apparent somebody who cares deeply about his patients and yet there’s a knowing that there’s nobody and there are no patients—it’s just oneness expressing itself that way. There’s no questioning of it—that’s the difference—there’s no concern about it. If there is success it’s enjoyed and if there’s no apparent success in the way that most people define success, it’s also ok. There’s nobody doing it, there’s nobody who can change it and there’s nothing to change.
I have a very different question. I have been at satsang with Satyam Nadeen some years ago, but he is no longer giving satsang. Why?
I don’t know why exactly but I know he said it’s more and more difficult for him to say anything. As it seems that we get deeper into this mystery, as time appears to go on, there seems to be less to say. There’s kind of a recognition that, since everything is perfect the way it is, why bother? He’s living alone now in a house by a river and seems perfectly happy that way. I know for this character it’s become only responding. If somebody seems to pull me to do something in the story, that’s where I show up. In the Rick story, Rick seems to be moving more and more in the direction of just doing medicine as his job and may be less and less satsang. That may change—I have no idea.
Who is Nadeen?
Nadeen is a friend and a spiritual teacher . For those of you who don’t know him he was imprisoned for dealing ecstasy and woke up in prison and taught all around the world for several years. That’s what I tell people when they ask me what my lineage is—it’s a lineage of ex-convict drug dealers.
So dealing drugs leads to …
That why I say that there are so many different stories you just [throws up hands]… You may as well just give up!
Dr. Rick Linchitz graduated with honours from Cornell University Medical College and went on to found and manage an innovative multi-speciality Pain Alleviation Center. After two decades of hard work and achievement he became seriously ill; his career and his life fell apart. He chased cures, both physical and spiritual, and had nearly given up hope.
Then the words of Satyam Nadeen, “Consciousness is all there is”, sparked the realization that there was no Rick who had to fix everything and that brought with it a peace and relief that has never left him.
Rick still works as a doctor, focusing on wellness and integrating conventional and alternative medicine. He occasionally gives satsangs in the New York area and Germany.
No You and No Me on Amazon
*Special thanks to Catherine Noyce for compiling and editing.
*Photo © Baden-Baden Kur & Tourismus GmbH