Nuggets From Nic Askew's Call

Posted by Steve Elkins on Oct 23, 2021
Last Saturday, we had the privilege of hosting Awakin Call with Nic Askew.

Nic Askew uses his camera to capture bare human presence, taking his film subjects beyond the mind – into their inner, wiser, more intuitive and intelligent world. Through a nearly two-decade journey in explorative film, he has discovered a profoundly simple way to be together with someone and capture them – which is not an interview, but an Inner View. “People hide behind words,” Nic says. So Nic just waits and listens, “because those [initial words] aren’t the words. Those are the things that need to come out, almost like the words need to finish before that which is meant to come out would be said.” Nic’s Inner View Method has given rise to his acclaimed Soul Biographies Film Series, an experience of human presence viewed by millions. His subjects as well as viewers describe the Soul Biographies as an experience into full-spectrum awareness – a meditation of sorts.

Below are some of the nuggets from the call ...

The Simple Version (thanks to the notes from one of our listeners)
  • I belong. I'm not separate. There's nothing to do.
  • Surrender is putting an end to seeking, to thinking I must become someone – a person of worth.
  • Judgment, asking what I can learn, asking what I want to prove: these are thoughts that get in the way for me.
  • Passion is friction between one's self and the outside world.
  • How do we treat others? There are no others. (words of Ramana Maharishi)
  • Call off the search and have experiences.
  • We are all enough. We belong to each other. We're all fragile.
The More Detailed Version (based on my and others' notes)
  • A lot of human behavior is driven by this sense that we feel like we're not quite enough, like we don't belong -- there's something we got to do, and so this continual journey of becoming something.
  • I thought I was a filmmaker, but this really isn’t about film at all. Two revelations: (1) There’s this extraordinary way of being with someone. Time and space collapse and you realize you were interconnected all along. (2) There is a very simple experience of revelation when you realize there was nothing you needed to become.
  • You belong, unconditionally. You didn’t need to “become” anything. We belong to each other, without condition. There is nothing to do, you don't need to be better at this or better at that. You don't need to become anything and you belong anyway, no condition.
  • “I stumbled across four words spoken by Ramana Maharshi in answer to a seemingly simple question. Immediately I realized that what he had said is my experience of people from behind the Soul Biographies Inner View camera. The question was – ‘how are we supposed to treat others?’ The answer that came was – ‘there are no others.’”
  • Interconnection doesn’t need to be “conjured up.” It just exists. (I saw this even in a Guatemalan jail.) We’re acting to get somewhere that we already are.
  • When the ambition and the fighting to get to a place of importance or success (or the gates of nirvana or heaven or something that seemed important, at one time) fall away, people are seeking something else, -- this experience of "I want to feel alive, I want to feel like i'm part of something. I don't want to always fight towards this."
  • I didn't mean to realize that, but I did realize that -- I realized that all the time, I always have. I just didn't have context for the realization, because I haven’t been part of any spiritual traditions, or read any textbooks on it. I don’t need to, it’s right in front of you all the time.
  • Start with no-thing. If you're forever seeking to have an effect on the world or to change the world or to move someone's opinion, move your own opinion, the notion of seeking shuts down what life could be.
  • What you seek is seeking you, and if you were to sit still you would be consumed with no doubt and you wouldn't know where the insights come from. It wouldn't make any sense, necessarily, yet they couldn't be unseen. 
  • So it's not that you need to do nothing forever. "In the space that nothing is, comes something. But now your impulse has come from somewhere different. ... We have this capacity to live a life and that's most of what we do. Or we have this capacity to almost allow life to live itself through us. And that's a very different experience."
  • How do we get things/conditioning out of the way of presence without doing something? Nic says he's never meditated, etc. We have to do nothing. Just sit still, and realize there's nothing we need to do -- there's nothing to fix there's nothing to achieve there's nothing to get to. You don't have to say a word. We belong to each other unconditionally.
  • These things don’t live well as an idea, but are resonant as an experience. The more we talk about it, the less we understand. It doesn’t belong in the realm of intellectualizing. I want to understand it, but why do you need to understand it? Because you want to control it.
  • Presence isn’t something that you do. It’s just there. It doesn't need anything. You're part of it as well. So there's nothing to do to experience it.
  • Some people tell me: “You’re good at holding space” But space doesn’t need to be held.
  • I'm not really making films. What I'm really doing is pointing to the fact that we belong to each other and there's no condition.
  • Let life live itself through you.
  • Recounting a story with a Congressman: When he stopped talking and when we started with nothing, from there something came and it was original. And the words were extraordinary and there wasn't a dry in a very big room, because everyone knew from where to come from. That's the capacity we have with everyone all the time.
  • There's a place for nothing, for just clear space, that you don't have to hold or you don't have to fix anyone. Someone then gets their own original journey and they realize they have this extraordinary capacity themselves, without the help of anything or anyone, and they have that because they're part of everything and it's only the absence of interference.
  • That's where I make my films from -- from the experience of surrender.Words usually come from two places: the desire to speak “at” someone. And the desire to change your environment to be what you want it to be. But that can all fall away so that words are pretty much a spoken stream of consciousness -- such that the speaker doesn't know where the sentence is going to end. When you get words spoken from that unchecked, undefended place, you get to experience something very, very different.
  • Even well intentioned empathy or always trying to interfere and help the world can be misplaced. I've sat with people who are totally desolate because their child has been murdered or died in an accident. If I start to react in that situation, to try and alleviate the suffering, I have robbed that person of the most extraordinary experience of coming to this conclusion of surrender to the situation. 
  • There's two ways to pay attention to someone: You could sit there and do what is normally done, which is you're listening, maybe you're even actively listening, you know really intently listening, but you're acting -- what you're doing is you're trying to work something out, you have opinions. That way of listening essentially makes you blind to someone, because there's something going on that makes you blind, occludes your capacity to notice the experience of that person and the fact that you belong to you belong to each other.
  • If you have a thing called a predicament where there's something in the way -- your predisposition and your experience -- what people tell you is you have to do something about it: "To move that thing in the way, get good at this -- get masterful at this, here's a course to obliterate the thing in the way, to quiet your mind, etc," But what if it was the opposite? -- if it actually took nothing because life itself would work it.
  • People are terrified -- most people sit in front of the camera, no less, and say nothing. And then suddenly someone has realized that everything they were afraid of is now relevant and it doesn't take very long, because it takes nothing.
  • If you were to sit with someone with no condition and not try to fix, and not try to put anything in the way, not try to hold space for them, not try to give them advice or anything -- and they were to be indefensible and then they were still alive and you were still there -- that might just tell them without telling him that they're the most important thing in your world at that particular point, which could be an amazing thing. It might lead someone to start to put cracks that convert lies -- and the weight of holding themselves up all the time. We can do that for each other. I've noticed how simple it is. That's where the streams come from -- just that still space of not trying to work anything out, almost in that liminal space between asleep and awake.
  • "I've never meditated."
  • This is enough. I'm enough, you are enough. We belong to each other.
  • Answers are highly overrated.
  • Some of his beautiful writings that Nic shared:  The Tree of Dreams, The Entrance Hall, and An End to Seeking
You can see his library of films here and join his Inner View community here. which he describes as "a place to 'practice' and hang out in no-thing."

Lots of gratitude to all the behind-the-scenes volunteers that made this call happen!

--Steve Elkins

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Comments (1)

  • Susan Clark wrote ...

    Thank you for hosting this wonderful event!