Jac O' Keeffe was raised in rural Ireland. Wanting to know about God she studied theology and music; however, after graduating in the 1980's, her studies left her disillusioned and a non-believer of organized religion and monotheism.
Turning her focus to issues of social inequality, she studied adult and community education, and began a successful career interweaving community development with the arts, eventually holding strategic, leadership positions at the national headquarters of the Arts Council of Ireland and Macra na Feirme. In 1997, when Jac was working as a freelance, arts consultant, her sixth sense awakened, which dramatically changed her life. A busy practice in healing work developed within a short time in which Jac offered private sessions and residential retreats.
She also worked closely with Dr. Michael Corry and Dr. Aine Tubridy in their practices of psychiatry and psychotherapy, respectively. Jac brought an energetic and spiritual perspective to their patient understanding. The book "Going Mad?: Understanding Mental Illness" (Corry and Tubridy, Gill & MacMillan, 2001) was written about this work and further explores the combined approach. Jac and her team began to observe and understand that symptoms commonly labeled as mental health issues were actually indicators of a spiritual awakening (e.g. depression was recognized as a spiritual crisis rather than a bio-chemical disorder). To address depression from a spiritual perspective Jac developed and delivered holistic, residential programs that used these discoveries to effectively treat patients.
Jac left her work and her life in Ireland because she was drawn to deepen her own spiritual introspection. She closed a busy, private practice in 2006. Her journey brought her to El Hierro, Spain and onto India where she lived for several years fully engaged in spiritual practices. Jac began to engage as a spiritual teacher from 2008 and published her first book "Born to be Free" (FliHi Media) in 2009. Jac spent some years where all thinking ceased. During this time she experienced uninterrupted, internal silence and a cessation of nighttime dreaming. Her personal quest led to the transcendence of dualistic thought, and there was realization of that which is beyond the mind. A direct and permanent experience of freedom prevails.
Jac cultivates wisdom in her clients and students. With the correct guidance and the application of tools, we can each recognize the truth that underpins all. Post enlightenment, Truth, existence and non-duality are transcended and exposed as empty concepts. Going prior to what is and is not, prior to consciousness itself is the path from enlightenment to liberation. It includes the recognition that mystery is the absence of understanding.
Jac's work is an Exploration of Truth For Its Own Sake. Jac teaches and facilitates spiritual gatherings in question-and-answer format, offering clear pointers to spiritual seekers of Truth and liberation.
The awakening story goes like this...
There once was a hard working, independent, Guinness drinking Irish woman. She went by the name Jac O'Keeffe and fully believed she had a personal life directed by her own free will. In her twenties she was running in the fast lane; working and playing hard, driven by ideals and ambition. For many years she attended therapy, usually psychotherapeutic in method, where she unraveled the stories of her childhood.
One Sunday afternoon, at the age of thirty, she was having lunch with friends. In an instant there was the appearance of ghosts all around the dining room. Her first response was that someone had slipped her a recreational tab – but that was not the case. This ability to see the non physical didn't go away and developed intensively over the following week. While it was totally unnerving and stimulated a fear-filled response, something within wanted to rise to the challenge to see what this was all about. Imagine standing at the service counter in your bank and when speaking with the teller an older lady appears behind her and directly asks jac to tell her daughter (the bank clerk) to split with her boyfriend! Highly amusing and a total distraction from what was, up until then, the "real world". What was unfolding - the workings of the non physical reality - was more interesting than anything else life was offering at that time.
Exactly one week from the first sighted spook, a man appeared at the end of her bed in the dead of night and said he would tell all that she wanted to know about what was happening. A long conversation followed and in the end jac believed she made a decision to let "spirit" guide her way on. Within six months jac had wrapped up her contracts as a free lance arts consultant and began to work as a ghost buster. According to divine economy, her ego was given a great bashing through this career move. For jac, it was the flakiest of all occupations, cutting through her self image and destroying any attachment to a career path. One year later ability to see chakras, auras and past lives kicked in and her client base shifted to living people. Her perspective of the world was changing quickly. The database of what can appear as real and seems to exist with authenticity was ever expanding and somehow unending, limitless. It was clear that beliefs were subjective mental limitations and entirely dependent on the conditioning active in any moment.
The concept of surrendering personal will to divine will made sense and her work became service.
Chanting and meditation as a daily practice was as essential as breathing. An intensity prevailed and it was sensed that something was pushing her on and on and on. But to what ? That was never clear to jac; there never seemed to be the rising of that question - just the appearance of much work to be done in raising consciousness in herself and others. The approach was to practice and show people how to observe their thoughts and emotions and no longer be a slave of the mind.
At a Santo Dime Ceremony a great inner black vacuum stripped all from jac. It seemed to annihilate her totally. During this spiritual ceremony it became clear that existence itself was a thought. All she thought existed was simply all she thought. Existence itself was no more than thought and so she too was not real in any authentic way. All thoughts that jac existed were stripped. Fighting for her life, for any reality that was intellectually sound proved pointless. It was a violent and traumatic experience that lasted many hours. Over the following days, it was clear that all that manifests is no more than a thought, that the perceived reality attached to creation is also a thought. But she had no more than this visceral understanding. No books, no teachers came to her and it was some five or six years later when in India that jac came upon books discussing and explaining non duality. Yet life seemed to continue, seeming unperturbed by the fact that all was just a dream rolling itself out, playing just for the sake of it. It was clear that all that could happen was without purpose and meaning, yet it appeared to be happening... in some dimension that was not after all at the core of all that is.
Somehow plant medicine seemed to help and ayahuasca was pursued. It became clear that the healing process of the spiritual path was unending; mind would forever present new scenarios as issues to be dealt with. All it was offering in fact was more opportunities to engage in an "all about me" thought process. The path of emotional and spiritual healing was cyclical and it spat jac out.
In a vision she had understood that at some point she would have to choose between her "normal" life of marriage and service, and the total surrender to whatever was urging on the remnants of a personal jac. There was a belief running that she would get sick if she remained as a householder. What to do but follow light – and at that point the physical sun seemed to offer more light than any other source, physical or non physical. She moved alone to a campsite in the south of Spain for three months. After a brief wrapping up visit to Ireland she moved to El Hierro, the silence and writing, nature and meditation dictated her lifestyle. A Spanish friend asked her to come to India and in Amma's ashram "Amritapuri" in Kerala jac has no recollection of a six day period during her stay there. She was physically taken care of by her friend and as that period of time ended and some capacity to engage consciously with the world returned it also was directly known that there are no individuals. Both personal and divine will both have no basis in Reality. There is simply the appearance of energy moving through form and part of that energy is thought. All that is in creation moves as one mass constantly in flux, never adding or losing from the sum total of all that is. Energy is simply changing from one form to another. Somehow all of this gets named and labeled as if it comprises separate parts and then somehow, thought is believed to be the truth. Yet, there is prior to all that changes and attention can remain there. For jac there was one remaining desire, still running, that gave the idea that she existed. It was intermittent and not ultimately believed, but when it was running there certainly seemed to be a woman owning a desire. The desire was an insatiable craving for sex. The true nature of desire was yet to reveal itself. From Kerala to Tamil Nadu and the mountain of Arunachala. Attending satsang and finding words that would point to That which is beyond allowed the jigsaw of a visceral understanding to draw itself together so that it could be expressed, embodied and integrated. It was clear how Born to be Free would now become a book... there was, after all, a way to point towards Truth. Speaking from truth produced silence and with great relief words again had some role to play in all of this.
Staying in Tiruvannamalai, there were periods of intense spiritual practice, and extended periods of a natural silence. One day, it physically felt as though mind was breaking; splintering into fragments. Memory was revealed to be no more than a thought. There was no way to connect any past story with this physical body without a believed thought together with the quality of memory attached. Memories are simply believed to be true and there is no way of knowing if they ever actually happened. Maybe they never did, time itself is the great fooler... connecting dots that are not connected at all except through concepts believed to be true. The sense of needing psychiatric care passed through mind and yet somehow, suddenly there were no more personal thoughts.
Thoughts are no longer believed to be true. That capacity, that neurological wiring appears to not function any more. Is that permanent or not ? Who knows, but one thing is sure, there is no one here who is bothered if the movie is believed or not. All is just passing through consciousness, benignly and gently moving through. All is manifesting as it is, it can not be any other way than how it is, but a personal "I" will believe otherwise. That is the nature of the personal "I". One year later, jac was asked to give satsang and well... somehow the show goes on without ownership of any thought, any action. No ownership does not mean no responsibility, for it is clear that there is only God, all is God or all is Nothing - as you like. Without the personal "I" there can be no ownership of anything, not even one thought is "yours". All is passing through and even the seeing of all - the labeling of what is passing through fades also.
What's to be said – except that cliché – that at the end of it all, nothing ever happened!