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FEATURE -  February 2016

Conscious Relationships

An Interview with Tim Freke, Best-selling Author and Spiritual Pioneer

By Ken Buch


Ken Buch: Tim, thank you for joining me today from Glastonbury, England. Besides having authored over 30 books, the latest being The Mystery Experience, you run retreats where you help people experience the mystery, firsthand. And this experience fosters conscious relationships, our topic today. Will you describe these retreats and what the “mystery” is?

Tim Freke: I have the privilege to run these events all around the world and they are constantly developing and changing. I now call them “The Deep Awakening” because they essentially involve waking up to the deeper aspects of life. The starting point is the simple observation that we’re only superficially awake; we experience life superficially. But, if we look deeper into the nature of life and ourselves, we can become “deep awake.” Then there's a shift in consciousness and the first thing we may notice is that we don’t know what life is. We thought we did but suddenly we’re aware that we don’t—life is a mystery—and that feels like we’re waking up from a dream. During these retreats I take people into that big shift where they experience the fundamental oneness which underlies all the many-ness of things, underlies our own sense of separateness. I call this the “deep I.” Once we’re no longer experiencing ourselves as separate individuals we feel connected to others and to life. So, I can relate just on the surface or I can look deeper and go, oh, hang on, what’s actually connecting is something deeper than that. When you look deeply enough within another human being and within yourself, your “deep I” connects with their “deep I” and you've got a very different relationship.


Buch: That sounds like the definition of conscious relationship.

Freke: Yes, I think so. Conscious relationship is, well, how conscious am I? If I’m just in the separateness then not very. But, if I’m aware that, oh my goodness, here’s another soul. Here’s someone full of hopes and fears and on a journey with things they like about themselves and things they don’t and dreams and aspirations and fears. If I see into the depths of this person I see, well, God looking back. I see the universe, itself, connecting with me and then there’s a profound sense of how particular and fragile we are on the one hand and how vast and magnificent we are on the other. The paradox is just beautiful.


Buch: In your book you talk about people’s stories and how being identified with your story is a hinderance to conscious relationship.

Freke: Yes, and, what do I mean by “your story”? Part of it is your own past experience through which you view your present experience. And that’s unavoidable because that’s what you have to think with. Now, I’m not saying your story is bad. I think people’s stories are wonderful. I love that we constantly have to rewrite our stories in order to grow. But, sometimes we get stuck in our stories. If I’m just Tim in my story it gets very confining and ultimately I start suffering and behaving badly and then, you know, I don’t like myself and off I go. Instead, can I be both engaged with my story and aware of the depths of my being that are not in my story? There’s a sense of transcendence, but not transcendence of the story to dismiss it. If I can come out of my story then I can actually enter into it better and there’s more of a chance that my story and my relationships become healthier ones. I can really be in the relationships with all the ups and downs that every relationship always has. And I’m in Tim’s story which is also full of ups and downs as everyone’s story is. That’s why it’s a story. It would be very boring if it wasn’t.


Buch: This coming out of our story and entering back into it isn’t something we do just once. It’s a cycle we repeat over and over, isn’t it?

Freke: That’s right. And that’s another side of our stories—through our stories we gain wisdom. You know, I’ve been a bit of a love junkie since my first awakening. It’s all been about love. But now, I think, it’s not. It’s actually a composite that I call “love-wisdom” that we’re looking for in ourselves and in relationship. Love is not just fluffy; it’s deep and strong and you can say “no” in a loving way. Conscious relationship is saying what needs to be said, doing what needs to be done, with love and connection. Sometimes we think the loving thing is, for example, staying in a bad relationship and putting up with it and the unloving thing is stepping away. The truth is more complex than that. Both can be loving and both can be unloving.


Buch: Paradox seems to be very important to our lives and our relationships.

Freke: It’s essential. Seeing the paradox, the ambiguity, in oneself and the other person is absolutely key to a conscious relationship. It allows you to be tolerant of yourself and the other. None of us can live up to being in a conscious relationship because we are all on a journey, moving from unconsciousness to consciousness. We’re constantly making mistakes and discovering things we missed. That’s what wisdom is. If we acknowledge that’s the nature of the journey then of necessity having the ability to forgive is the most important thing. That’s the practical aspect of love and relationship. You step out and forgive yourself and the other and start again but now with more wisdom. In the best relationships you can really support each other and be with somebody who's seen the worst of you and forgiven it. You’ve moved on together, you've become wise together, and that’s a fantastic thing. That’s what makes relationship very, very deep.


Buch: And worth the effort, I think. Thank you, Tim, for your time and insights.


To find out more about Tim's life and work, his books, and "The Deep Awakening" please visit

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Ken Buch is an artist, playwright, poet, and writer. He is the president of the Kansas City Friends of Jung and sits on the executive board for Whispering Prairie Press. He presents lectures and workshops on Jungian Psychology and holds a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering.

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