Avikal’s book “Who Is In?” will challenge you to discover who you truly are.
Often the belief that we know who we are blocks us from discovering who we indeed are.
Some of the things we discuss:
- The questions “Who is in?” and “Who am I?”
- Why would anybody start asking Who is in? or Who am I?
- What kind of benefit might that have?
- At the beginning of the second chapter, you write about the myth of identity.
- Don’t we need an identity to be in the world?
- What do you mean by going beyond self-image?
- You define Narcissism as a general human condition, please elaborate.
- You state that we are all complete, what do you mean by that?
- What about attachment to the Direct Experience?
Avikal E. Costantino is a mystic, poet, and martial artist. Curiosity, passion, and love for the truth guide his life and teaching. He is the director of the Integral Being Institute active in Europe, Asia, and Australia. Avikal worked as an anthropologist and a freelance photographer. His love for Martial Arts, which he began in 1970, took him to teach Aikido and Sword in 1987, while his love for the body produced diplomas and professional activity in Shiatsu, Yu-Ki, and Seitai (healing techniques).
Reach Avikal at: https://www.avikal.co and https://www.integralbeing.com
Brian Smith 0:00
Close your eyes and imagine what are the things in life that causes the greatest pain, the things that bring us grief, or challenges, challenges designed to help us grow to ultimately become what we were always meant to be. We feel like we’ve been buried, but what if, like a seed we’ve been planted and having been planted would grow to become a mighty tree. Now, open your eyes, open your eyes to this way of viewing life. Come with me as we explore your true infinite, eternal nature. This is grief to growth and I am your host, Brian Smith. Hey everybody, this is Brian with back with another episode of grief to growth and today I’ve got with me avocado Constantino. Avocado is a mystic he’s a poet is a martial artist. Curiosity, passion love for the truth guide his life and his teaching. He’s a director of the integral being Institute active in Europe, Asia and Australia. Have a call worked as an anthropologist and a freelance photographer. His love for martial arts which began in 1970 took him to teaching Aikido and sword in 1987 Why was love for the body produced diplomas and professional activity and shiatsu, U key and site T. These are these are healing techniques. In 1983, avocado became a disciple of the Indian mystic Osho, who many of you have heard of, and from 1988 to 1990. When OSHA left his body, he was also our 90 day when OSHA left his body. He was also he was also his personal photographer. from 1989 and 1994. He was director of the OSHA school for centering and done martial arts and the multiverse city no shows can commune in Pune, India, now being involved with Zen and Advaita Advaita for more than 25 years, he leads retreats such as Satori, and the awareness Institute, and the awareness intensity, I should say. And we’re going to talk about what story is and also the awareness intensive. These retreats are focused on the existential questions, who was in and who am I. And since 1997, he has developed an innovative and original approach to the work with the energy judge. He’s a well known teacher of essence, and Enneagram. He’s also a life coach, and management trainer and executive mentor working with presents leadership, resilience and conflict resolution in Italy and Australia. So you can tell he’s well traveled. He’s got a lot of experience. He currently lives in Bondi, Australia, which is where he’s speaking me from the day, and avocado is also a poet. So with that, I want to welcome to Crystal growth, avocado Constantino.
Avikal Costantino 2:48
Hi, Hi, Brian, good to see you. And thank you for inviting me to this podcast.
Brian Smith 2:55
Yeah, it’s great to have you here. As we as I mentioned, before, we started recording the questions. Who am I? And what am I and why am I here? These are some of the questions that we really tend to ponder a lot when we go through life altering events. Most of the people listening my podcast have been through grief. And that’s why they’re here. And some of these questions really come up during that time. So to start off, like to ask you about the title of your book, who is in and what does that actually mean? That that that Cohen who is in?
Avikal Costantino 3:29
Well, okay, first of all, what is a coin? A coin is a question that does not an intellectual answer. So it’s not something that we can answer to our accumulated knowledge is not about information is not about our past is not about what we have learned and read during during our life is really about experiencing directly in the moment. So the only possible I don’t even want to call it an answer, but the only possible revelation that can happen, you know, it can only happen in the moment when each one of us is fully present in the here and now and is connected with the oneself and with everything that we live in. So it’s really about contact is really about connection is really about being present right in this moment. So in this moment, I am talking to you. So the way that I can be aware of the fact that I’m talking to you, if I am present with the fact that I am talking that there are words coming that there are sensations in my physical body, and so on. So who is in IS, IS is more requests than a question. Like we call it a question, but it’s more requests, you know, finding out who is this individual that experiences everything. For example, you mentioned Under grief, grief is something that happens to a specific individual. And that is an event that has sometimes very, it’s very overwhelming some time is full of pains and time a king can bring even even a offering actually brings a very deep understanding about oneself. But who is the one who is having this experience. So always the subject of all this transformation revelation changes that happen. So this is what a coin is about. A con is about a movement from our attention focused on what happens to us, to our attention focused on who is the one to whom everything is happening to subjectivity. So this is the main focus of the work with existential questions. Who is the experiencer? Who is the subject?
Brian Smith 6:10
Yeah, and I think most of us would say, Well, that’s pretty basic question. I know who I am. I’m Brian. I’m, you know, Sarah, I’m, you know, I’ve a call. So, what’s the difference between, say, I’m Brian, and really knowing who I am.
Avikal Costantino 6:29
Well, you know, I am Brian is basically saying, I am my name, but you are not your name. Now your name is something that has been given to you or to me or to anybody else, as a tool that most of the time is often is used or used by other people to identify you. But behind that name, who is this person that identifies with I am Arbuckle I am Brian, I am Italian, and I am American and Australian, I’m a man, I’m a woman. Who is that who you know, when Moses after having been talking with with God was going back to his tribe, at some point after work you for a little bit, it just got Oh, I forgot something. So I turned around, went again in us, God God, but if my people asked me, who you are, what should I say? And the answer was, tell them that I Am that I Am, was not an aim was not a definition was a an affirmation of pure presence. So what we are looking for is that sense of being that pure presence, which is beyond definition, which is beyond the name is which is beyond our personal history, which is beyond the color of my skin, which is beyond what I know or I don’t know, is the mystery.
Brian Smith 8:13
Yes, yes. And I think what I get now is the Quran is not it’s not to be answered, as you said, it’s something to help us reflect and a lot of times I think it’s that we have to answer it almost in a negative who I am not, you know, I’m I am not my name. I am not the son of my parents. That’s doesn’t define who I am.
Avikal Costantino 8:33
Yes, that’s that’s usually is the first most fundamental step in India is called this particular way of dealing with it is called neti neti, not this not that, which is a particular technique where they say, Well, I’m not my hand moving in this moment, I’m aware of my hand moving. I’m not the name that I did, I’m used to and so on. So, we start putting away all the definitions, and then in depth moving away from all the definitions, what happens is that the inner space, which use it is crowded by definitions and history starts kind of opening up and showing as a space where there are no definitions where there are no objects, and yet is not empty, is full of presents, is full of the fact that I am still the one who is aware of the space, I am that space. I am that spaciousness I am that presence. So but this is a C NET when it’s put into words. doesn’t mean much. Because it’s an experience. It is just an experience. It’s something that goes beyond the words that I can use, I can call it presence, but what is the inner experience of presence? Like when we say, you know, I am in love, yes, but the word love doesn’t even come close to the experience of experiencing love, because love is beyond the definition is beyond the experience. So this is this is a process where we move from I know who I am to, well actually I don’t know who I am. I have no clue who I am and yet I know that I am. I can experience myself so that emptiness is not something that goes away. Yeah, you is right here in this moment is is you as me as the people that are listening or will be listening or seeing this presence is inevitable, is what the unit is about.
Brian Smith 10:55
And in the book, there’s another term that you use called Satori. Can you define that for us?
Avikal Costantino 10:59
Yes, well, so dirty as different meanings, you know, Satori, is, is a Japanese word, which is used to point to a moment of awakening, a moment where suddenly we move out from everything that we think we think we know about ourselves and reality. And suddenly there is a revelation of a dimension, which is spirit is not just matter, or objects or events or past, present and future is beyond time is beyond space is beyond is beyond description. This is one of the one of the basic understanding of the word Satori. There, then there is a Satori, which was called so this will be like a Satori event is something that can happen to each one of us. And actually, it happens much more often than we think. For example, I don’t know sometimes you look into the child into the eyes of a very young baby, and you suddenly have this experience of complete oneness and spaciousness and emptiness, you know, which is our nature, which is our mind, now completely open to everything that is, or no, you’re listening to a fantastic music, and suddenly you disappear as a as an entity. And there is just the music, and you are that music. Now, I see that you have a guitar, you probably know that space. Getting completely now, in that no one single note at the time, and the symphony and the Armani all together. So this is the event Satori, and then there is a Satori, which is a specific process, a specific retreat, a specific format, that is based on on a traditional Zen retreat, which which was called the session. And so it is about seven 800 years old, and as a tradition, and the end, that’s a particularly treat, where people come and they will go through a particular sequence of sessions, which, which usually lasts for 40 minutes each. And they sit together with a partner in front of each other aiming eye contact. And then one person asked the other, tell me who is it? So then the person that is being asked at that point as five minutes to explore, and go in and look for who is in? Or who am I use different coins or what is love or what is freedom or what is life, you know, and then after five minutes, usually I have one of my assistants, we ring the bells, and we say thank you partner, so the people thank each other in the changeover. So the person that has been communicating will ask the other person, the corn that the other person is working with, for example, tell me what love is, or they’ll be what freedom is. And then the other person has five minutes to answer. So this goes back and forth, back and forth. And we work many hours every day together with other meditations and sometimes we have question and answers and individual interviews until a person as a direct experience so basically goes into that space of Revelation, which is a Satori. And at that point, usually that person comes to me. We have an individual interview. And and then I give them a new core. So they can explore another another dimension of this immensity that is our existence. Yeah.
Brian Smith 15:25
So I’m actually trying to lay down a foundation here for people to understand some of the terms we’re going to be using. So we talked about, we talked about Cohen, we talked about Satori, we talked about who am I or who is in. Another thing I’d like to divide the for people are talking about is like, what is meditation? Meditation, for a lot of people that just hear the word and their blood pressure goes up, because they’re like, I don’t know how to meditate. I can’t sit still. This is crazy. I don’t want to do this. I can’t stand being on my own thoughts. So when you say meditation, what do you mean by meditation?
Avikal Costantino 16:01
Okay, first of all, I completely understand because for me, I could not sit still. I saw when when I approached meditation, I simply had to realize, well, actually, a certain kind of technique, meditation technique, like me, personnel see other city meditation is not for me, I need movement, I need action. And that’s where I started going into martial arts. Because martial arts is is about being aware blushes of every single little detail in the movement, refining it, refining it, refining it, refining it, in becoming more and more and more and more involved and present. And at some point, meditation is not a technique. Meditation is something that happens. And actually, the definition of meditation is very simple, is choiceless awareness, which means that I am simply aware, or what is period, there is no resistance, there is no judgment, there is no rejection. I’m simply aware, in this moment, I am aware that I’m speaking. And I am present with my speaking, and I’m aware that you are in front of me, you know, even though very far away. Yeah. And the and I’m aware also that there is a connection that energetically we are relating to each other. So there are different dimensions of my reality or reality, not mine of reality, that meditation is about being just aware of it. So in that sense, meditation is, is not the techniques that we use, the techniques are just techniques. And the meditation is something that happens when we move beyond the technique. So when I speak with people that want to meditate, the first thing that I say usually is like, look, there is no right meditation, you need to find your way. Now, of course, the way to find your own specific way of meditating in the present is very personal. So maybe you need to experience experiment with different techniques until you find something that says, Okay, this I like, for some people, for example, running is their meditation. They go into that space. So complete openness and complete presence. That’s it, for some people is cooking. You know, when I cook, I mean, meditation, for some people is playing music. So meditation is not a technique, with the techniques or techniques. Meditation is what happens when the technique goes, is that somehow completely embodied the end, the end becomes your presence. So then it’s not difficult.
Brian Smith 19:17
Yeah, I love that you said that. And you know, it’s interesting. I’ve been meditating now off and on for probably 20 years. And I’ve tried different techniques. You know, I’ve read books, I’ve downloaded apps, I’ve done it, you know, lots of different things. And then a couple of months ago, there’s a guy I work with, and he teaches it’s a form of Transcendental Meditation has actually gets even simpler. I’ve never done TM, but it’s called the attorney within. And he’s like, Well, I’m gonna give you the technique, but it’s not about the technique. And I love what you said about like, everybody’s got to find their own way. And I was reading your book, and they were you were talking about meditation, and I was sitting in my kitchen and I was just the sun was shining through the window. And I was like, Having a cup of tea, and I was looking at the tea on the counter. And I’m like, this is meditation. Yeah. And, and we make it so complicated, we make it so difficult, that it could be anything you said it could be going for a run, if that works for you, or, you know, cooking or whatever that thing is. So we need to free people up to find their own their own way of finding that awareness. Oh, absolutely,
Avikal Costantino 20:27
absolutely. Because they see that the, the trap is knowledge. The trap is the idea that I need to know what meditation is, we already know. Because naturally, spontaneously, we find ourselves in meditation many times during the day, we are just not aware of it because we are too crowded bit with ideas about what meditation is supposed to be. So again, we need to clean up all that stuff. And as you say, at the same time, you’re sitting there with your cup of tea or coffee and, and you’re completely present. That’s meditation. That’s, that’s how I measure.
Brian Smith 21:13
I love what you talked about, you compare it, it’s also like athletes being in the zone. Because I think it’s something that any of us who have played a sport, you know, can relate to, or anybody that that creates, if you if you write or if you paint, or if you play music, when you get into that space, where you can’t even forget that you’re there, you’re just experiencing it.
Avikal Costantino 21:33
Yes, exactly. Because you are not there as a separate entity. And that’s where that’s, that’s the beauty of meditation, that, that that you that believes to be to exist in separation from everything, for a moment disappears. Because we don’t identify with it. So the eye goes, you are there, your presence is there, but the eye is gone. And that’s, that’s a moment to use, it is a very sweet, if there is a sweetness, there is a gentleness there is a naturalness in that just being present.
Brian Smith 22:19
Yeah, and you talk in the book about like, that desire, that desire that we all have to just to not have to have something that we have to do something we have to achieve, to be worried about the past and trying to change the future or chase the future, to just be and it seems to be like that’s our innate nature that we kind of want to get back to.
Avikal Costantino 22:42
Well, you know, we Okay, there is there is a reality, which has to do with the fact that we exist in a physical body, in a particular in embodiment, in a particular society, in a particular family situation in a particular culture. And of course, we need to deal with it. And as we deal with it, we need to face questions like challenges and goals and directions, and time and pressures and stress and all these kinds of stuff, responsibility and so on. And yet, this is only one part of existence or our life which has to do with survival. But what about living, living is way beyond survival. Living is more like about okay, who am I and what am I doing here? Outcome existence, God, primary awareness, you can call it everywhere, anywhere you want, wants exactly Me, you, each one of us here in this moment, what is the gift that you bring, that I bring that any any individual brings, which has to do with the uniqueness of this embodiment? So, to move away from survival means to go towards uniqueness? What is unique about this incarnation, what is unique about you? And the you obviously are finding your uniqueness because that’s, that’s that’s what you’re doing. You know, you are sharing yourself. And you seem to be very happy to do that. And that’s a good sign. How do I how do I know when I’m finding my uniqueness? When I start feeling content about the fact that I exist on this planet in this moment, and I can give myself that’s, that’s so fulfilling in so the awakening is not only about liberation is about fulfillment.
Brian Smith 25:02
Avikal Costantino 25:03
that’s fundamental to to because that’s also the place where we really start honoring each other. In that, in that fulfillment and then then desire is like yes, of course I desire to be who I am. It’s such a joy.
Brian Smith 25:22
Yeah. You also you talk about this this search to find ourselves and you talk about rebellion that seems to be a part of this, this search to find yourself why would that be?
Avikal Costantino 25:34
Well, it badly on is the difference is the gap between wanting to be special. And recognizing uniqueness? You see, wanting to be special, has to do with comparison has to do with okay, I compare myself you know, to somebody that I feel is less special than me, others that are more special. So I’m on a ladder, I’m in the competition game, you know, I need to prove that I’m special. But when you recognize that actually, to play in this game of being special, is a killer is a killer of our own uniqueness. Then you become a rebel, you become a rebel, you say, You know what, I’m not going to play this game anymore. I’m not going to try to prove that I’m special that I’m better than you that I’m worse than that, that I need the approval to find my own worth and self value. I am who I am, I am this mystery. I am this search, I am this quest. And I am this potential. And that’s my uniqueness. So rebellion in a way is a kind of bridge between the constriction of our structure in the in the personality in the in the in the, in the leaving within a certain kind of limitations based on our inner judge and our culture on our race, all these things. And the moment we say okay, I am unique. I am unique. And this is what I am willing to exist for to live for. The Shed. So rebellion is a kind of a bridge for me.
Brian Smith 27:34
Yeah, well, you know, society does create that, that competition and that prove you’re special. And, and it compares us and ranks us and I hear even people in spirituality talk about this, you’ll hear people talk about levels in the afterlife, and hierarchies. And, you know, a phrase it is what people is like, yes, you’re unique, like everybody else, you know, we’re all unique. We’re all but we’re all in a sense, the same in terms of our essence, and our value and our worth. And it’s it’s the value that we have is really in our uniqueness and not trying to compare ourselves with others.
Avikal Costantino 28:15
Absolutely. Absolutely. Yes, I Yeah, the value is intrinsic to our uniqueness. You don’t need to we don’t need to find it is already there has always been there just a question of recognizing it and and also giving it to yourself. Yeah, you know, and not expecting other people to say oh yeah, you are unique and therefore your value now wait a minute, I don’t need the approval of anybody. I don’t need a stamp from anybody I need to feel it to sense it in myself and to honor it.
Brian Smith 28:51
Yeah. And I know you say you say that we’re already complete so what is it that you mean by that when you say that we’re already complete?
Avikal Costantino 28:58
Well that is that in this moment right in this moment, nothing is missing. I am complete you are complete you know if I am present now of course if I start comparing with the past and if I stopped hoping for a particular future then I don’t feel my completeness because I am you know in a way divided but if I completely hear what is missing in this moment nothing I’m right here with all that I am I you know all that I am which is some stuff I might like it some as some stuff I might might not like it some stuff, I might understand it some stuff I might not understand it, but all that I am is right here in this moment. And this is the vertical you know of the what what some some mistakes are philosopher they call the the eternal Now, no vertical moment you know in this vertical moment Everything is right here in this moment. The past is just memory and the future is just milk I bought is this ideas, hopes, right? But no real at all.
Brian Smith 30:13
Yeah, I think that’s such a valuable lesson because in a we’re taught to keep striving keep seeking to keep trying to be better. And we take that material, capitalistic lesson that has been driven all of us, and we bleed it over into our spirituality. And we say it’s the same thing. There’s the spirituality that says, We’ve got to seek we’ve got to strive, this has got to be this has got to be hard, we have to earn it.
Avikal Costantino 30:41
Absolutely. And then then enlightenment becomes becomes the new goal.
Brian Smith 30:48
Yes, yes. Yes.
Avikal Costantino 30:50
And then again, and then we get gained, create, you know, hierarchies, you know, he’s enlightened, more enlightened. And then I’m, my master is the best and master and my awakening and my awakening to the same the seventh chakra and all this kind of stuff, you know, like, Oh, my God. And to come back to, to grief. In those moments, all this stuff goes down the drain. All this stuff shows for what it is just mind, you know, just buying it just, you know, getting getting ourselves busy with things rather than feeling. When grief structs you know, there is no, no time No, no. No energy to waste for what is not essential to who I am in this moment. Yeah, that’s one of the most fundamental teaching that we can have the death death is is a teacher. Because it teaches us about life. How to be completely alive.
Brian Smith 32:14
I completely agree. You know, one thing about grief is it does it strips you down to the essential you you don’t have any energy, you don’t have any time for things that are antisocial people literally reevaluate everything, including, we start to ask ourselves, who am I? And why am I here? Maybe, you know, sometimes people can be 5067 years old, it’s the first time they’ve ever asked themselves that question. You know, why? Why am I here? And it becomes a journey becomes a journey to find out.
Avikal Costantino 32:49
It is it is it is a beautiful journey. And you see is interesting, because what has been happening on this planet, at least this is in my, in my view in the last couple of years, you know, with the with COVID and other things, is that basically we are obliged to face uncertainty. That nobody, nobody can can pretend, okay, I’m certain because I’m rich. And certainly I’m not going to anger. I’m not gonna get sick because I am in Italy or in America and not in Africa. No, no, the COVID does not spare anybody No, can go anywhere. And this is a learning a learning is okay, how can I live in uncertainty? How can I allow myself to recognize that life is impermanent? And what does it mean to be alive in impermanence? How can I enjoy impermanence rather than fight against it? Yeah, this is a big, big, big part of the journey. But the spiritual journey is basically understanding and learning to live in uncertainty. That’s it. Because the next moment is unknown. And he’s allowed to, you know, it’s not happened yet. So how can I know it? Didn’t it happens?
Brian Smith 34:10
You’re right. And you know, it’s a very interesting lesson for me. I learned it before COVID, my daughter passed away. Suddenly, she was a healthy girl. You’re going along through life, and you think you know what’s going to happen the next moment? We don’t? If you ask someone, they’ll say, no, no, I don’t know. But we think we do. We pretend that there is no impermanence, until something makes us really face it. And as you said, something like COVID We couldn’t say that’s only happening to people over there. That’s only happening to poor people. That’s only happening. It was like it became the great equalizer and became a point where we all had to face uncertainty and the reality of impermanence because again, people we’d like to pretend that we’re going to live forever. You know, we look in the mirror every day in the mirror tells We’re not, but we just ignore that or say, Well, I’m going to be the exception, I’m going to live forever. But we have these lessons to come along every once awhile, they’ll kind of snap us out of it and say, You need to face who you are.
Avikal Costantino 35:12
Yes, yes. Absolutely. And, you know, we can wait for life to give us a stake on the head, or we can decide, okay, you know, at this point in my life, I really want to face these questions. I really want to I want to be on a journey where I can find myself, you know, at least at least once in my life, I can taste myself and say, Okay, this is why I am.
Brian Smith 35:46
Yeah. So I’m curious what got you what got you into into this quest yourself? It wasn’t the martial arts that got you into it?
Avikal Costantino 35:54
Well, no, I mean, also, but I mean, it’s difficult to pinpoint exactly something. My sense is that since I was very young, I had something in me was was moving in that direction, you know, wanting to know who I am. But then the real turning point where for the first time I heard myself make a statement about this was when I was 26. And I 2526. And basically, I was at a point in my life, where I had been for 10 years, really involved with the revolutionary movement in Italy, starting with him was students movement, and then going more more, in really across K, we want to, I want to change everything. So I was a militant political militant for many, many years. And then that thing collapsed. So the revolution was not possible was clear, you know, and so that part of my life completely collapsed. I finished university, I did my military service that in at that time in Italy, was obligatory for 13 months. So suddenly, I found myself in a place where, wow, what is my life about? No, all my past was finished. And one evening, I was with a friend, and I just heard myself say, You know what, the only thing that matters for me my life is to find out who I am. And I was surprised myself, because it was not a rational, something that either arrived rationally. But the moment that I heard myself saying it was so true, and was so clear, that actually, that became the guiding principle of everything in my life. So from that moment on, it was like, it was like magic, you know, because things started arriving, teachers and information opportunities. I moved away from Italy, and I went to live in Mexico and I worked there as an anthropologist, I met shamans, you know, so everything started aligning with that quest, who am I? And that’s, that’s how it and then finally, you know, I became a disciple of Osho. And then I found this Satori process, the retreats, and I started facilitating the retreats. So it’s like, everything started falling in place. Yeah. And last,
Brian Smith 38:56
yeah, it’s really interesting. I think how that happens, it goes back to that, you know, when the, when the student is ready, the teacher will appear, and I think there’s like, it’s like, once we put out to the universe, whatever you want to call it, that we want to go on this journey, then then things start to just unfold for us. And then it’s just a matter of like, connecting the dots.
Avikal Costantino 39:20
Yes. Leading, being available to the opportunities in order. Now, sometimes, sometimes very challenging opportunities. You know, like for example, another time ago, I was in Italy, I was back in Italy after Mexico and after India and I was already a disciple of Osho and at some point and I was doing good and I was a freelance photographer, I was getting quite well known and famous I published for the books and the the exhibitions and suddenly was like, I need to go to Pune. I need to be with Osho I need to I need to really I go into deeply into that this search. So I left behind. And of course, most people thought that I was completely crazy in doing that, except my best friend, because I had no money. And my best friend said, You know what? You’re a couple of $1,000 This is my gift, you do what you need to do. It was like, Oh, thank you. And and that was it. I moved to India and I ended up I was in India for 15 years. And what’s perfect?
Brian Smith 40:37
Yeah. So tell me about your time what your experience with Osho.
Avikal Costantino 40:43
Okay, my experience with doshas. Okay, started in America and actually started at the ranch in Oregon. In Rajesh Pooram, I went and I took son, yes. And even though I was very resistant, because I wanted to be the my own master. Of course. So then at some point, I said, Well, I can be my own master, but I need help. So I went to America, and I became a senior senior disciple or OSHA disciple. And I was there two or three times because I was going in and out from Italy to America. And then OSHA left and went back to India. And then I was leaving at that time in the south of Italy on a small village. And I and I thought, Well, maybe it’s time for me to go to India again, you know, and, and I decided to go to India in 87, beginning of 87. And I, when I was there, we built a dojo, where we do martial arts. And, and then, our show gave me the responsibility of being the Director of the School of Zen martial arts. And at the same time, I brought to him a particular picture, which was a picture of a dewdrop on a leaf in my garden, and he gave me a little challenge, he said, I want you to take a picture of a drop exactly in the moment, it starts falling, which is challenging, because the finger is not fast enough. So I started kind of being in the garden every morning from when the before sunrise, so I could see all these drops falling. And then finally, one day I saw it was I saw that between the leaf and the drop. There is a love affair that like two lovers. And the moment that they start separating, they start trembling. And that’s the moment where I could click, and I could take, but what was really the master wanting for me? That was the question that was my first. So then I understood that what Osho was pointing to me was like, my fear of separation. So I used all that experience to really understand how I was afraid of separation, and how I would cut off, you know, so that I would not have to feel that fear and that pain or separation. So there was a lot to learning, you know that and that’s what the master is about, you know, he uses every possibility to point the disciples towards a particular part of ease or air on unconscious, so that they can become clear, can it become obvious. So and then, when I took the picture, I brought it to OSHA OSHA said, Good, so then now you can start and come and take pictures of me. So that’s what I did. I started being one of these photographers. And so this was this, those were my two jobs in the in the community was like, taking pictures of Asha during these courses and also privately, and then teaching martial arts and Satori and facilitating other courses. And that went on for 1212 years for 14 years until at that at some point, the experience in India was I felt was finished and I moved to Australia.
Brian Smith 44:52
Okay, yes. Tell me about the name that Osho gave you.
Avikal Costantino 44:57
Okay, the name My full name is Summit. On Arvika summer plan means surrender. So that was the first heat on the head because to a martial artists in the last the surrender was like okay you got meat what does it mean to surrender? So, that was the first the first thing that really really got me going you know like what is surrender you know like because I had a sense of it, but my I also had the sense that there was also a lot of resistance. So, what is the relationship between surrender and resisting what is what in the other name is Arbuckle Anamika has two meanings one meaning is quiet non action, and another meaning is one who has come back home. So, you know, I again, when I, when I got the name, obstacle, I was like a tiger, you know, like going up and down my house like meaning non action when it means quiet tonight, I mean, action first. And then after a few days something started learning to say, okay, quiet surrender. How can I allow myself to surrender, and in the same time, not effort, not not making efforts about my life. And something really started relaxing inside this, this idea that I could explore non efforting was a revolution. Because personality is all about efforting is about goals is about reaching is about you know, going somewhere. So that, that this is still is my is my my path, you know, every day.
Brian Smith 46:57
Yeah, it’s interesting. You mentioned the the non effort and because, as I mentioned earlier, I’ve been studying meditation with someone, and we talked about how, you know, people tend to hate meditation. And I think it’s because there’s so much effort that they put into it. And this this teacher was say, like, like, no effort, no effort. And I would say, but what about this? And they would say, because we’re doing this project, I said, Well, what I’m doing this part technique am I supposed to be he’s like, you’re not supposed to be doing anything. It’s a very difficult thing for some of us to say, to not effort.
Avikal Costantino 47:32
It’s, it’s true, because it’s the efforting is not about what we do, or not do. Effort is about the in an attitude. For example, in this moment, now you are breathing and you will not making an effort for breathing. But of course, if you say okay, now I have to breathe in a particular way, then we start efforting but that’s not necessarily what needs to be happening. You can simply bring your presence and awareness to the fact that okay, I’m gonna have a little bit of a slower outbreath but I don’t need to go like okay, this has to be slower. And it because that’s that’s a mental attitude. So not efforting is about the internal attitude towards who we are and what we do not in the doing itself,
Brian Smith 48:27
right, right. And we were when you were talking you also mentioned you mentioned resistance, and I know in the book, you talk about acceptance a lot of teachers tell us that we need to learn acceptance. So, what would you say to that particular teaching?
Avikal Costantino 48:43
Okay. Well, resistance is something that drives a lot the personality, because basically what is the resistance resistance is the resistance to what is in this moment, maybe I don’t like something then I start resisting it, I start rejecting it, start pushing it away. And I start moving into in this very basic mind movement, resistance hope, resistance hope, I rejected resist what is happening and I hope for something different. So, then I am completely caught into like pushing away and projecting myself in the future. But what about here, what about in this moment? So in this moment, I can be aware of okay there is something which is an attitude of resistance, there is something which is an attitude of hope. And that is me, there is this subjectivity that is aware of all this. All this rejection and hope and resistance are objects in my awareness in awareness. So then, everything that happens becomes a vehicle to go into This presence of pure awareness, that’s where resistance little by little start dissolving. At the same time, resistance is also a resource, because in some moment, we resist something because we feel that that something is not aligned with who you are in this moment. So resistance is also a good, interesting phenomena in terms of growth. I need to learn how to deal with resistance. So I don’t have a judgement about resistance, I simply want to bring awareness to it, when is something that is actually useful to be myself? And when you simply habit?
Brian Smith 50:52
Yeah, that’s brilliant. Because people sometimes take simple teachings, and they overuse them. And they’ll say, well, we should never be resistant to anything. And, and I’m like, Well, what about what about injustice? What if someone’s getting hurt? Are we supposed to accept that that’s just the way that it is? And no, you’re right, there’s an and I love what you said about growth, because it’s actually resistance, it’s actually pushing against something, a lot of times it actually leads to growth, it’s, it’s that thing about the grief that we go through, that actually spurs us to, to grow, because it forces us to, to create effort that actually strengthens us. Yes.
Avikal Costantino 51:37
And for example, children, for children to ever something to push against, is a fundamental part of their learning and their growing up, if they don’t have boundaries, you know, it’s very difficult for a child to grow, they need the parents who give them boundaries, which are healthy. So then the child can learn, okay, I can push against this boundary, you know, and, and I can grow up like, like a little chicken in the egg, you know, it needs to break, break the egg, if it doesn’t break, it’s not going to grow up, you know, I don’t have any problem with resistance. So resistance is just part of living. And yet, it has to be brought to awareness to consciousness so that I know, okay, I’m resisting, because I have a habit of resisting. For example, my partner say something that I don’t like in dialysis, instead of stopping for a moment and listening. Is it useful or is not useful? Do I want to take it into I don’t need to take it in. It’s really about being being present. Resistance is just resistance is not good or bad?
Brian Smith 52:54
Yeah, yeah. That’s Wow, that’s great. That’s, that’s awesome. So as you said, there’s a there’s a time where we, we should or just, you might want to resist might be useful. But just don’t do it. Don’t do it out of habit. Don’t do it just because yeah, to be aware of that. And, you know, you talk about the internal judge in your book. Yeah, I find that interesting, because I’m teaching something called Positive Intelligence. And we talk about the judge that we all have. And we talk about these different saboteurs we have so when you say, internal judge, what does that mean to you?
Avikal Costantino 53:31
Well, about 25 years ago, you know, at some point, I was really looking at where do I want to focus my my teaching and my, my, my understanding, and I could see very clearly in myself and in many people that also been meditators for a long time, that there is this internal structure of control, which I call the inner judge, which is super ego Freud, or the Zen master call it the barking dog, in, which is that presence that continuously constantly compulsively is judging ourselves and judging everything. So I noticed, okay, that’s something that really pulls us back continuously, even when we have good understanding, good realization, good practice, there is this tendency to go back into the status quo, the past the established order, you know, internally, and that’s actually is the structure the inner judge. So I focused really on that. What is the judge? How does it work? What are its functions? Do I need it? Do I not need it? Does it help me or does it not help me? And I mean, The most obvious way of looking at the inner judge is by our internal parents. Basically, we internalized our parents when we were children. And our parents gave us all the rules and regulations and admonishments and the rights and wrongs that we grew up in, and that we bring with ourselves. Now, again, are we conscious of it or not? Again, they inner judge is just a structure. It’s just that if you want an app, a software, it was like, No, I can be enslaved by the software by this app and go all the time. Okay, where is my judge? What is right, what is wrong? And, or I can say, okay, the job of the of my parents inside of me is protection is about giving me ideas, skills, values, and ways to navigate and survive. So they did their job. Because that’s parents job to give us to every child, those tips, yeah, to survive. The question is, okay, now I am a min, do I always need these tips or not? Most of the time, I don’t, because they don’t align with who I am. In this moment. They come from a different generation, from different ways to look at reality. So I need to be able to say, Okay, thank you. I don’t need it right now. Or, Yes, I do need it. If you tell me watch to the road before crossing the road? Yes, I do need it. Why not? But if you tell me watch out, because maybe you are not meant enough in this moment with your lover. I don’t need that, you know, that’s, who cares? You know, that’s love is not about performance. So it’s really about again, growing up, growing up means acknowledging the beauty and the in the in the work that the parents have done. Recognizing that they have that capacity, that infrastructure of judgment and control, and also recognizing when I don’t need it, when it’s not necessary. Yeah. Now, I can actually be free.
Brian Smith 57:42
Yes, I think that’s brilliant. You know, it’s interesting, because as I’ve been doing this teaching that I’ve been doing, or learning about this, this system, Positive Intelligence, we’re talking about the judge, and I wonder about the origins. I think it’s parents, I think it’s God, when we were taught that God was when we were for me and Sunday school, it could be teachers, it could be society, telling us, this is the way that you should be it we internalize all these voices. And we make the mistake of thinking that that’s us. And that’s why the exercises that you’re talking about, you know, who am I, who is in learning, you know, thinking about our identity, because I want to talk about identity and the mistakes people make with that. So I know in the second chapter of your book, you talk about that. So explain your thoughts on identity.
Avikal Costantino 58:29
Well, first of all, let one moment of advertisement because I wrote two books on the inner judge. Please, freedom to be yourself is one and without a mask is another one. Because it’s really I feel that is the most fundamental obstacle that we encounter, about being authentic. And about, you know, being who I am. Because the job the fundamental job of doing their job is to give us an identity. You are Italian, you are a man, you are cultured, you are ignorant, you are intelligent, you are stupid, you are courageous, you will never ever since now, all positive and negative elements that create a sense of identity. So we we delude ourselves. We wake up in the morning of soccer, I know who I am. Because we attach ourselves to that sense of identity. And that sense of identity is nearly completely defined by our relationship with our inner judge. Now it’s through what you say the inner judge is a composite is a composite of parents, teachers, images of God, ideas about what is real and what is not real society, culture and all This kind of stuff. So that makes it complicated in some moments, but also very interesting to really see, okay, what is this? Where is this judgment coming from? What is the source of it? How come I am identified with it? And what are the effects? So, this identification in my day to day life, the moment that we start separating from that specific image and that specific ideas about ourselves, then we go into an identity crisis. Because for a moment, we don’t know who we are. Yes, no, if I’m not courageous, or if I’m not strong, then who am I? If I lived all my life, pretending that I’m always strong? Yeah. And then and then. And that’s where the question becomes very fundamental, because they normally say, Okay, I don’t know who I am when I’m weak. Or I don’t know when I am, who I am. But if I allow myself to cry, because a man is not supposed to cry, especially if he’s a Sicilian, like me. Sicilian, Sicilian, they are good for Vendetta for revenge, not for kids. So it’s really, it’s really a dance between becoming aware of how I defined myself through my past and my identification with the inner judge and with certain values and certain ideas about reality. And how I don’t know. And, and I can ask myself, then who am I, if I am not, in that way? So they’re all linked together?
Brian Smith 1:01:58
Yeah, that is, and that is such a freeing journey. When you go on, it’s scary. It can be scary, but it can be free. I was raised. I mentioned earlier, I was raised as a fundamentalist Christian. And, you know, that was my identity for a very long time until it started to kind of fall apart for me. And I remember several times as I was going through this process of, we call it deconstruction, right? Tearing these things down? Where it’s like, well, if I was wrong about that, what else was I wrong about? And where does that lead me and it feels like the bottom is completely dropping out, when you start stripping these things away. But I can tell people that have got that, you know, when you go through the process, it’s so worth it. Because you always find something else, you know, something more authentic. And you can start separating these things out. And you can, you can choose, you know, a lot of times people feel like, I can’t make a choice. I am this like, like you said, Maybe I am Sicilian. I’m a Sicilian man. So therefore, I’m a strong, brave man. If that doesn’t align with who you are, internally, that creates a lot of conflict. And that’s the mask you’re talking about, right? We have to walk around, wearing these masks all the time to pretend that we are what other people expect us to be.
Avikal Costantino 1:03:15
Right? And which means not only internal conflict, but also external conflict, right? Because then I have to prove to everybody know that I am strong and bla bla bla, and the whole thing you know, and then of course, some people might say, oh, yeah, okay, fine, you’re, you’re strong. And they project on me that strength, then they expected from me every moment. And then, you know, or other people can say, Okay, you’re strong, okay, let’s fight. It, like, you know, it’s a trap. It’s a trap. And it’s true it in the beginning to work with our inner judge me be very challenging, and also very painful, because also, in a way, we need to look at how come I am so loyal to my parents. How come? I’m so loyal to my conditioning? You know, what do I get out of it? What is my best meant, you know, and that takes take some, you know, is really a bit like stripping our skin, you know, is not just throwing away concepts is really like, Okay, this is okay, I’m not this anymore. Let me clean it up.
Brian Smith 1:04:34
Yeah, it can, it can be very painful. And when you identify with those things, and I’ve noticed also, like sometimes if you challenge someone’s beliefs, they hold their beliefs so closely that they think the belief is them. Yeah. And if you challenge your belief, you’re challenging their very existence, and they will fight you they will fight you to the death over over what is the belief because they think it’s, it’s who they are.
Avikal Costantino 1:04:58
Yes, yes. salutely? Well, because that’s the again, this is a question of identity, you know, that’s their identity, which raises the question also, do I need an identity? Yes, yes, it goes, actually, you know, I, unless I need to an identity as a as a functional skill that is used for chi, okay, I go to the bank, and I need to have my identity card, and I need to present myself in a certain way, then I need an identity because it’s functional to living in this society. But otherwise, do I need to have an identity in this moment that we are speaking now? Do you need to know we are just two human beings communicating and sharing who we are? I don’t care if you don’t know. What’s your name? Oh, my name? Yes. We can call each other with those names. But the you know, you could you I could call you I’ll be calling you could call me, Brian. We would still be here and talking. And communicating.
Brian Smith 1:06:06
It was like, Yeah, I love the way in the book, you you have the book or the concepts. And then you have people ask questions of themselves, because it’s really, this is all a matter of like putting this to the to it’s not it’s not conceptual things you said, the coal mines is not a matter of saying the coal iron. It’s not a matter of answering the coal and it’s sitting with it. And when when you ask someone the question, do you need an identity? I think our knee jerk reaction is, of course I do. But then you challenge that and you say, you know, as you said right now. And as I was reading, I was sitting, I was sitting in a chair having my cup of tea. And I’m like, he’s right, it right now, it doesn’t matter what my identity is. I am, I am that which is having this experience. And that’s always important in this moment is just the experience itself. It’s really cool. When you start to play around with those concepts. Yes,
Avikal Costantino 1:07:03
it is. And also we can understand children much better. Because hear about their identity in the very beginning, you know, when they grow up, of course they do. But in the beginning, when they are small, they don’t have an identity, they are this open field of experience and and wonder, which is magical, which is beautiful.
Brian Smith 1:07:27
Yeah, and until we put them in their little boxes, you know, start telling them who they are. And this is how you’re supposed to be and this is how you’re not supposed to be. This is how our family does things and all those things. But you’re necessary, you know, societal conditioning, we have to do that. But I think part of our journey here is, is getting back to who we really are. It’s like we come here we take on all this baggage and then we spend the rest of our lives stripping it away. Yes, yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. No, you also define narcissism that’s like fundamental to like the human condition. What do you what is it you mean by that?
Avikal Costantino 1:08:06
Okay, I was reflecting on on narcissism for some time and it didn’t fit with me this idea that narcissism is a kind of psychological personality disorder you know, it’s it felt that there was more than that you know, and if I understand you know, that can be extreme and manifest in ways that are pathological. But at the same time from a spiritual point of view, I was asking myself Okay, from a spiritual point of view, what is behind that pathology? What is that makes us so interested in looking out and looking at our images and mirroring and wanting mirroring go for this specific images? And what what I come to is that that system is basically a belief a very deep belief that I am not capable of going inside that I am not capable to know myself directly that I need some sort of reflection and the end the end sometime it’s uh, you said most of the time is in unconscious belief because they we have been stripped of that intelligence that knows how to go in or more district we lost contact because we Thanks God we have not stripped when we lost contact with that intelligence that says okay, I can know myself directly by going inside. And also there is some time the the unwillingness to go inside the fear to go into side, the doubt that can I do it? Can I not do it? What are the consequences? So it’s, I look at it and narcissism as a spiritual condition for all of humanity. We are all narcissists, until we go, a take the step to say, Okay, I know how to go out, I know how to get a give my attention to other. But how about if I give attention to myself? I look at myself from inside. And that’s, that’s this word, this word, the question who am I? And who is in? They become absolutely basic?
Brian Smith 1:10:43
Yeah. Wow, that’s really interesting way of looking at I never thought of it that way before. But as you were saying that, think about narcissistic people that that I know. And there is they do seem to be devoid of looking within they, they everything’s based upon what’s around them, they need, they need love from other people, they can’t feel, you know, that within themselves, they, they need approval from other people, they can’t feel that within themselves. So I think you’re right, I think that’s just an extreme of what a lot of us feel. Because we have been. I know, in my case, and I know a lot of people’s cases, we were not ever taught to go within but you know, all the answers are outside, go, go find an expert, go go to church, listen to the priests, listen to the pastor listen to, you know, someone else. And it’s like, it’s really it says really cool. When you find out that the answer is you need her. I’ve been with you all along. It’s kind of like the holdup, alleges. My favorite movie ever was the Wizard of Oz. And the older I get, the more I realized how profound the wisdom in that movie is.
Avikal Costantino 1:11:53
Yeah, well, you know, it’s, it’s really I don’t know if I can say unfortunately, because maybe it’s not like that is part of the process of growing up the fact that we, we end up having to separate from our true nature, in our our pure presence. And we need to learn to live in a particular box in a particular form in a particular identity, so that we can grow out of that to it, this seems to be the process for everybody. Yeah, so that’s how it is, you know, like, unfortunately, when even even in this, unfortunately, is not right, you know, because people have the wrong time and rhythm. But I feel that the general movement of that happens in consciousness is towards awakening, yes, we all we all go towards our potential, there we go, we all tend to evolve towards what is possible, rather than what is allowed. And that’s kind of for some people can take many, many, many years for other people are lucky in the moment of illumination. You know, it’s not in our hands very much, you know, we can only invite ourselves to sit at the table of awakening, you know, and then there is also a lot to do with grace.
Brian Smith 1:13:37
Yeah, I, I agree, I have come to the conclusion that it is the design, it’s it is the process that humans grow through. And I’ve talked to people or like a why I work in the committee where people talk about soul planning. And they say, Well, why would I plan something like this? Why would I plan these hardships and I’ll say, Well, look at how you’ve grown, you know, you could take any particular hardship in your life, and look at it, and you probably grew out of it, you probably learn something through it, you probably became more resilient, you picked up some knowledge along the way you use it to inspire you. So if we started thinking of things from a, from an eternal being perspective, then it starts to make more sense of a crack that we go through here. It’s like going, it’s like going to the gym, you know, it’s like we go to the gym, and we put ourselves through pain. But by that we grow in. Everybody grows at their own pace, you know, we shouldn’t try not to judge other people for where they are. They’re where they are in their journeys. And we’ve all been there. We’ve all we’ve all fallen short, you know, we’ve all got things to learn. So it’s a process that we go through.
Avikal Costantino 1:14:49
Definitely, definitely. And it’s an adventure.
Brian Smith 1:14:54
It is, you know, I think that’s a part of it, too. I think it’s an adventure. It’s like there’s a there’s a song I listen to it. And she likens life to like a game of hide and seek where it’s like, you know, the creator or source, whatever you want to call it kind of hides. And we put on these costumes, and we come here and we play these roles, and we pretend to forget who we are. And it’s a game of discovery. And if you can start to look at it that way, it does become more even enjoyable even as we’re going through the process.
Avikal Costantino 1:15:26
Oh, yeah. And becomes enjoyable and becomes also something that is beautiful to share. And, and, and to feel the contentment of being in the journey.
Brian Smith 1:15:40
Yeah, I’ve just coming to that, you know, it’s interesting. I’m hearing people say things like, you know, life can be fun. And, you know, I’ve been through some pretty dark times. And when you go through that you say, this, this isn’t finding your people talking about well life as a school and I think it is and life is for this and that, but I think it’s also about the experience the discovery the the unfolding of it, the beauty of that.
Avikal Costantino 1:16:05
Absolutely, absolutely, that’s that’s the the thrill the you know, in like in the in the in in Greek you know, there is this word, which is arrows and arrows, we often think in terms of sexuality, but actually the the meaning of the word arrows is something very different is the spark of the new. So, when we are in the present, the arrows is continuously here, because the new keeps unfolding manifesting you know, and I can be in tune with this erotic quality of life or not, and then when Eros is present, then that there is a joy, there is excitement, there is curiosity. There is wonder, okay, let’s see what happens, you know, like, and there is the relaxation of not knowing, not need to put pressure on myself that I should know.
Brian Smith 1:17:07
Yeah. Well, that yeah, that that living in the moment, that is when everything is new, we can look at everything through through beginner’s eyes, and we can start to see the wonder and the magic around us and, and become a little bit less jaded with with the world. So because we’re coming to the end of our time, I really have enjoyed speaking with you, I want you to tell people, remind them again, the name of your book, I will tell you, everybody that’s listening, I do highly recommend it. I think it’ll really open your eyes to some things and some great exercises in it. So tell people about your book and where they can find it where they can find you. Okay,
Avikal Costantino 1:17:45
so the book is who is in beyond self image. And you can find it on amazon.com, Barnes and Noble. On John Hunt publishing, you know, there are different places I would say Amazon, for most people is probably the easiest. And it goes also in as as ebook. So it can be hardcopy or ebook. And it just came out on the first of December, so it’s fresh. Yeah. And I think it would be a great, great gift for yourself and for other people for these holidays.
Brian Smith 1:18:29
Yeah, absolutely. And where can people find you? I know you do. As retreats the right word?
Avikal Costantino 1:18:36
Yes. Well, I am going I’m launching that in the in the next couple of weeks my new personal website. So it is arbuckle.co. Co. And this is one of the my website and the other one which is already been there for a few years is integral bing.com, integral bing.com. And you you find the schedule and the retreats and in the work that they offer in different parts of the world.
Brian Smith 1:19:07
Awesome. Well, I will make sure that I put those in the show notes as well, but I always like to get them on on air so people can hear it. Again. It’s a great pleasure meeting you today and enjoy the rest of your day. I know it’s morning for you. I’m getting ready to go have dinner
Avikal Costantino 1:19:23
Brian Smith 1:19:25
Thanks for being here.
Avikal Costantino 1:19:27
Wonderful, beautiful to be with you. Thanks a lot, my friend.
Brian Smith 1:19:30
I’m excited to announce I have a great new resource. It’s called gems, four steps to move from grief to joy. And what it is it’s four things that I found that I do on a daily basis to help me to navigate my grief. And I’m offering it to you free of charge. It’s a free download. Just go to my website www dot grief to growth.com/gems G m s and grab it there for free. I hope you enjoy it.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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