Interview with Dr. Richard Moss on Releasing Fear to Find True Intimacy
Mojgan: Please share a bit about your background with our audience. How did you go from being an Emergency room doctor to a Spiritual Healer?
Richard Moss: Well I have to say that it’s a mystery to me, grace in ways. I was a seeker, and I was a seeker in ways that I think most people are a seeker, because we feel like we’re incomplete, or we feel unhappy. There are a series of what I like to call synchronistic or spontaneous events that lead me to realize that perhaps a better way to use my being was not going to be in traditional medicine. I know that medicine is a beautiful thing, it saved my life on a number of occasions, I recently had a bad hip, injured my back and medicine helped me. As it helped many people and at the same time the really deepest source of suffering I believe, for most of us, is emotional and psychological suffering. This suffering comes from a lack of understating that our minds haven’t been taught to use our awareness to become our own healers and our own teachers. So one day I was in the emergency room and I was going to give some medications to a patient because he was in pain, but I couldn’t examine him, he was a great big guy and he already punched one of the technicians, so we had him in restraints. I was about to administer sedation and keep him under observation when a voice in my head said “you have nothing to share with this man except love.” And without even thinking I put my hands on him so lightly. Instantly I got blazing hot and the room got blazing hot and there was a nurse next to me who told me later that she couldn’t understand what was happening and she almost fainted. The man fell asleep and a half an hour later he was fine.
That was the first event. There was a series of events and I took a leave of absence from medicine when I was just around my 30th birthday when I had what I for a long time I referred to as a spiritual awakening. Suddenly, I can see in retrospect there was a lot that lead up to it, suddenly I was just brought into a state of complete oneness, inside and outside, it was like a giant, and I hate to use this expression, download, a giant download of spiritual understanding, of insight, of intuition. I could see energy, I could feel energy, I understood, as soon as I would read something in spiritual literature I understood immediately the state of consciousness they were referring to and I understood how you could create methodologies for realizing that state.
Mojgan: Did you study spirituality while you were an Emergency Room doctor?
Richard: I studied in the sense that I was very interested in personal development and personal growth. I had done some psychotherapy, psychoanalysis, even in medical school I had been going a couple hours a week for psychoanalysis. I went to the Dean’s office and said, “You know you’re teaching me to be an intellect but medicine to me is about being a human being, a soul, and I feel like my soul is dying, so I’m going to quit.” And the Dean said to me, “but before you quit, why don’t you work with one of our analysts?” It was very valuable, at the age of 22 I was began that, and then later I became interested in meditation, and I became interested in dreams. I was interested in dreams ever since I was a teenager and I kept a dream journal since I was in college. So there was an innate sense that something inside of me was looking and wanting to learn, and so I did a lot of different things. I did mindfulness training, as I said I did a few meditation retreats, but nothing that I was taught or saw prepared me to what I was awakened to. I mean it was truly going from one dimension to an entirely new dimension.
Mojgan: How your life has changed since that moment and what’s the heart of your work?
Richard: Basically I see myself as a student. I’m a student who learns in the context of helping other people learn. And I truly believe that the job of a teacher is to help other people become their own teachers. What I see so clearly is that the main sources of suffering on planet earth is that we’ve been given minds but we use the mind to, in a certain sense, make ourselves safe. We use the mind to control the environment. We don’t use awareness to know who we are, that awakening made me realize who I was, which was something far beyond anything, and who all of us are is something far beyond anything. I became interested in helping people find that within themselves; helping people find that deep aliveness. And I also wanted to know intimacy. Intimacy with the wind on my skin, intimacy with the sensations, intimacy with wanting to understand my own mind. And I wanted to become close to another human being, profoundly close, which I think is what most of us want the most, and is really, in many ways, the most challenging thing of all. So all of my work ultimately is about relationships. Relationship to ourselves. When I go deeper into myself I become able to experience life more completely. And when that happens I become more available to another, and we enter into intimacy. Not just in the sensual or erotic sense, intimacy of being, intimacy of shared passion and intimacy of shared reverence for life and enjoyment in life.
I want everyone to know this; I want everyone to know that you can be your own teacher. That you can learn to stop being the prisoner of your own thinking. We are feeling beings; we’re not very masterful or adept at dealing with threatening feelings. We’re not very good at dealing with bliss or joy either because if we have bliss or joy we want to chase after it and have it again, and that destroys it. We’re not going to go and higher into any states of highness or fullness if we can descend into darkness, into those places that we’re really in unknowing and very vulnerable. If you let yourself think at that moment then you’ll start telling yourself stories that you’re very judgmental, stories about life that will blame others, blame yourself, blame your spouse, blame society, blame the government. You’ll start imagining the future as something that you have to reach to be whole.
I started to really want to teach people how to start landing in their bodies, in the present, connect with themselves and in doing so, and connect with others. And that’s what all my work has been about.
Mojgan: How can someone create a contrast so they can see what is possible for each of us?
Richard: We have what I call a “negative myth” about ourselves that we are too busy, too pressured, we forget that we have a soul and we forget that there’s this spark of this limitless-self inside of us, and that it’s always seeking to awaken us. And people do know some of what I’ve described. They know it skiing, dancing, making love, they know surfing, maybe when they’re painting or writing poetry, snowboarding, they do know it. They know that if you’re really fully in your body and fully in the present moment that’s really quite exquisite, quite beautiful. These moments become a certain sense of grace. Most people seek to grow because they’re suffering and they finally realize that they need help. In my case that was partly the truth, but also in my case I met people in my life that I so profoundly admired, that I said to myself, I don’t want to imitate that person, that I want to become that kind of a person, I want to become a person that as I live my life, more and more people will say to themselves how can I be like that?
We have this blessing of life, an opportunity to experience profound intimacy, with another being, with yourself, with your breath, with the sky, with the colors, with the wind, and of course, if you’re going too fast, you can’t feel that. Why are you going too fast? Probably because you are running away from a feeling that you haven’t learned to make friends with, or how to hold, or you’re going too fast because you’re telling yourself stories that if you do this then you will be healthy, or if you do this then you will be happy, or, you don’t feel whole. You think you have to earn love, you think you have to earn the right to be cared for, and so, because we run away from the present moment, as something becomes uncomfortable in us, then we become busy. And because there’s an internal sense of being unsafe, most people project it outside. To feel safe from the weather they buy a bigger house. They think to be safe from recession they have to have a bigger savings. To be safe from aloneness I have to have a partner or least a pet. There’s a thousand ways that people try to fill themselves from the outside in, instead of starting to fill themselves, or be filled from the inside out.
Let’s say you meet a man, and you really like that man, and that man turns to you and says you know what, the most important thing that I want to have in my life is a depth of intimacy and I want to do that with all of my life and being. I want to have the deepest possible relationship with you. And you look at that person, and you say, that’s what I want too. Now isn’t that grace.
Women right now, I believe are the teachers, and if a man is willing to learn from his woman, that’s a wise man. And if a man is willing to learn from his woman, it creates a space in which she learns, and we start to mutually empower ourselves in relationships.
Mojgan: Why do we wait until it hurts to do the work?
Richard: That’s a brilliant question. The answer of the Judea, Christian, Muslim great religions is what I think can be summarized as perverse will. We kind of know what life wants, or if you want to say what God wants. For me God is the creation of my own mind, if there is a God out there, or in here, the only thing that I could ever know about God are my own thoughts. There’s something inside of us maybe that doesn’t want to listen. Aligned with the Buddhist answer, ignorance. We just don’t know, we don’t understand the nature of awareness or consciousness. And so we go through stages of development.
When a baby comes into this world it has inclinations, it has tendencies, it has characters and qualities that you recognize right away. But it doesn’t think, and it doesn’t label, and it doesn’t name, and it doesn’t talk, but the first stage of development is that it has to create an ego, a sense of separate self. Let’s put it this way, it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become a very good musician, 10,000 hours of practice to become a very accomplished surfer, 10,000 hours to become a very accomplished dancer. But by the time the ego develops, let’s say by 6 years old it’s really consolidated, but even earlier than that, watch the nature of ego.
I believe ego is my own thoughts, and I identify with the emotion aroused in me by believing my own thoughts. I’m afraid of certain feelings and I’ve created unconsciously and as a child defenses against those feelings, defenses like rebelling, or being a pleaser, or withdrawing surface. The answer to your questions is habit. Ego is a stage of development. And in that stage of development we are still not really conscious. We think we’re conscious because we can think, but we’re not conscious enough to challenge our own thoughts. So, how do you learn that? Well, you know; when the student is ready the teacher appears.
Mojgan: How do we teach our children in simple terms the value of internal work?
Richard: You can’t tell a child or anyone else, you have to be it. If you are a mother that keeps going deeper and deeper into herself and you are your own teacher, and you are very creative with your fears, your places of neediness, your places of judgmental-ness, and your field your energy becomes clearer and clearer, your children feel that. Eventually thru demonstrating this they follow you.
People have a picture of a spiritual teacher in their home as a subconscious reminder that there is deeper path in life. Symbols are important; the most important symbol of all is you, me, and it’s a cliché but we have to be the change we want to see in the world, we can be the consciousness that we want to see in the world. You have to do the deep work of transformation, and if we don’t do it, we can’t ask our children to change. The only way you can teach children about awareness would be if you yourself had been on a path.
If you’re listening to this and following this advice, the relationship with your spouse is going to change, the relationship with your brother or your sister is going to change, your relationship with your children is going to change, and their relationships with their friends are going to change, it’s a contagion, consciousness, that space of fullness inside of you… people feel it.
Mojgan: You mentioned something about fear-based conditioning, I just want to know, when someone does feel fear, what would your advice be for them?
Richard: You know another man asked me that in Romania last weekend, I said to him, don’t try to get out of fear, have a new relationship to it every time it’s present so that the fear is a force. When you have a relationship with it you are transforming yourself. In other words, invent yourself. Einstein said if you do things the same over and over again and expect a different result… that’s crazy. If there’s a threatening uncomfortable feeling inside of us, society has said that’s not right, you shouldn’t feel that way. Society promotes doing spiritual work or therapy, and then you won’t feel it, or make more money and then you won’t feel it. Or find the right man or find the right women, then you won’t feel it, or have more possessions and then you won’t feel it.
What I say to someone is you don’t know where that comes from; you don’t know why there’s a hurricane wind one month and then a beautiful sunny day another month. Those are just images, things are constantly in change. If you do a new thing, if you have a different response, the next time you have a difficult feeling do a dance. You decide, I’m going to dance like a silly drunken sailor, for 30 seconds, I’m just going to do it totally. Or let’s say the next time that same uncomfortable feeling is there you take out a pad of paper and you look out a window and you see a bird landing on the grass, and you start to write a poem, and the calmness, the world moves because of its own impulse and I too move by forces I don’t understand, and I move to write because the sensation inside of me that I’ve known so often is bothering me. You realize that maybe this sensation is bothering me or in disguise, and it doesn’t matter if what you say is true or not, all that matters is that you are being creative, you’re being creative with the energy of it.
Mojgan: Well that invites in vulnerability. As a young child it’s so easy to be vulnerable.
Richard: The reason I say it is not because it’s the right thing to do, only because it’s a different thing, a new thing to do, when you do something different you get a different result, you get a different outcome. If you don’t do different things with these threatening feelings you’re going to get the same outcome. You’re going to get smaller, or you’re going to get busier, or you’re going to turn to drugs, and alcohol or you’re going to turn to sex, whatever you turn to and try to avoid yourself. Do something that’s different, but do it consciously.
The simple fact is that none of us are broken, we are just afraid of what we feel. We believe the stories we tell ourselves which is the first stage of development of the ego. To teach people this which is what my life is about, and I call it doing deep work to give people tools. My book Inside-Out Healing and The Mandala of Being are very clear. There is also a free e-course about needing to live in the present and on the website, so there’s many ways that people can start to learn this but once you’ve been given a tool you have to use it. Someone shows you how to chop wood, but if you never practice chopping wood you won’t get any good at it.
Mojgan: What is the one thing that people can do today that could help them push them in the right direction?
Richard: Well just like it takes 10,000 hours to be a master of a violin or a piano, you have to put 10,000 hours in to remembering to be in the present moment. Start with five breaths, or start with saying thank you every time you start to feel yourself getting negative. Or if you feel lonely say thank you, or if you feel unseen say thank you. Say thank you 500 times a day, it doesn’t take long. And then, maybe it’s important that we take responsibility for what comes out of our mouths. So many books are being written about what we put in our mouths, not very many books are being written about what comes out of our mouths. What comes out of our mouths is far more important to our health and well-being.
For more information on Dr. Richard Moss or to purchase his books visit his website.