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My Quest to Not Exist

Duncan Riach
5 min readOct 21, 2018

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I remember, many years ago, learning about nirvana, the ending of the suffering self by the ending of the self. I wondered what the point of that was: nobody can be free from suffering. This was a question that kept popping into my awareness over the years, and I found it strange that nobody seemed to be discussing it nor seemed to be bothered by this apparent paradox.

A few weeks ago, I was wondering if some of the things that had happened to me during meditation had happened to other people. I searched on YouTube for descriptions of spiritual experiences, especially of non-duality: the one, indivisible whole that is everything and nothing. I found the usual accounts of experiences of awakening by many well-known gurus and spiritual teachers, but I also found something else: I discovered what seemed like normal people expressing an unusually direct and radical message.

One of those people was Jim Newman. Jim lives in Vienna, Austria, where he holds monthly meetings. He also travels to various places around the world for meetings. What he talks about at those meetings is so obvious and ordinary that he would never have thought to share it. He holds meetings because other people asked him to.

Over the past few weeks, I have been listening to all of his meetings on his YouTube channel. This weekend, he came to Marin County, California, and I have come to ask questions. I attended a four-hour meeting yesterday, and I will attend another four-hour meeting today.

I have been on a spiritual quest for the past seventeen years, a quest to awaken and to end my suffering. I have been seeking to know myself as the non-dual everything that I have glimpsed in the past. In those moments, there was no me, no time, no space; there was only one thing and everything was that; everything was alive and everything was perfect. I have met many supposed spiritual masters but I never believed that I met anyone who was truly awake. I am convinced that Jim is awake, or at least his body is able to answer questions about awakeness.

Jim would not say that he is awake. He would say that there is nobody here. It’s not just that there is nobody in his body; there is nobody here at all. There is not even anyone reading these words, nor writing them.

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Duncan Riach

Top Writer. Self-Revealing. Mental Health. Success. Fulfillment. Flow. MS Engineering/Technology. PhD Psychology. duncanriach.com