This piece is excerpted from Jim's book, End Your Story, Begin Your Life:

My Realization

    The first awakening I experienced with Jean (Klein) was at a retreat at Mount Madonna Center, in the Santa Cruz Mountains of California, a few years after meeting him. I was walking down to the afternoon dialogue, contemplating the notion of not being the "person" I'd taken myself to be, when my "I," my ego—with its whole story-line—suddenly jumped out into my awareness.

    In an instant, I saw the game I'd been playing. I saw my attachment to the identity of myself as a spiritual "seeker," and how much juice and meaning the “seeker” identity gave me for so many years. However, the attachment to being a seeker is as much a barrier to freedom as is the attachment to any other identity.

    When I saw this about myself, I felt a great sadness. I knew I needed to let it go, and I sensed at a very deep level I would never be able to quite buy into my own "story" again. I told Jean what happened.

    He said: "You have, in a certain way, understood that the existence of the person is an illusion, a fabrication from memory… Live completely in the absence of yourself, and you'll become a happy man."

    Gradually, I felt myself getting freer of the mind’s chatter. I was more awake, more open and present, more here.

    Two events which occurred a couple of years before my final awakening were significant in my “story.” The first was a broken heart I experienced when a love affair with a much younger woman ended soon after I turned forty-six. My “enlightenment” was pretty intellectual still, and this heartbreak brought me into my emotions, my feelings, with a vengeance. I tell this story in Chapter Six, in the section on forgiveness.

    The second event, which marked the last liberation I needed to pass through, was when I filed for bankruptcy. I had had a costly divorce, and had gotten way behind on my credit card bills and tax payments. The IRS was threatening to levy my bank account.

    Both my accountant and attorney had been urging me to file for bankruptcy protection for two years, but I resisted. Why? I was afraid of what people would think of me. When I looked this fear squarely in the face, I saw it was keeping me from the one thing I wanted most: inner, spiritual freedom. I realized, in the end, that it was only my ego, my self-image, which cared how people might judge me. Who I really was, my true nature, did not care. I needed to find a way out of my burdensome debt. So, I filed a plan which would allow me to pay what I owed the IRS over a period of years.

    Then, in the spring of my forty-ninth year, I woke up one morning feeling mildly depressed. I didn’t like what I was feeling. As I lay in bed, I noticed a frustration about still being subject to negative states like depression, even after all these years of spiritual practice. Normally, I would have gotten out of bed and meditated, for I knew how to clear negative energy that way.

    But this morning was different. I became very present, looked within, and faced the depression. I was curious. How come such a negative state could still visit me? How come I wasn’t completely free yet? Then I remembered Jean’s teaching that we are not the psychological/emotional “person.” I went deeply into the interior of my being with the question:

    “Okay, Jim, you say you are depressed. So, who is depressed?”

    This wasn’t just a mental exercise. This wasn’t just some spiritual technique I was toying with. There was a definite urgency to my question. I really wanted to know. It was as if my entire life was on the line.

    Yet as hard as I looked, I couldn’t find the “person” who claimed he was depressed. The more I shone the clear light of awareness inside myself, the more all thought forms, including the thought “I feel depressed,” just dissolved. The energy of depression cleared, I felt fine, and went about my day.

    But the same thing happened to me the next morning, and the following morning. I awoke and noticed a slightly depressed feeling. Each time I went deeply into myself with the same inquiry—“So, who is depressed?”—and after the third morning, something shifted, permanently. Whatever sense of “self” remained in my consciousness dissolved, and I now knew myself as the Whole, as the awareness, or consciousness, behind all thoughts, forms, experiences—indeed, behind all manifest reality.

    In the succeeding months, I couldn't find a solid sense of a "me" anymore. I no longer "believed" my own story, whether it dealt with self-doubt, suffering, still not being free, or a story about my accomplishments, successes, and things in which I took pride. Instead, there was just clarity, openness, and a feeling of emptiness which was simultaneously vibrant, full, and alive. 

    As the months passed, it dawned on me that I had finally found what I had been seeking for twenty years. What Jean told me, was guiding me towards, was now a bright, integrated reality. I saw once and for all that the psychological/emotional entity called “I” does not exist. My true nature is pure consciousness, expressing through this body, mind, and personality known as “Jim Dreaver.”

    The difference was, before I awakened to the truth of my being, I was still identified with my ego and thoughts, with my story about who I thought I was, with being “somebody.” Now I lived inwardly in luminous clarity, in openness, essentially free of any self-image or self-concept of any kind. I realized that my true nature was, and is, consciousness itself, which never changes. 

Jim's Bio 

Jim, a native of New Zealand, served with New Zealand artillery forces in Vietnam from June 67 – July 68, and then attended Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa. After graduation, he opened his first office in Santa Rosa, California.

He practiced as a chiropractor for 25 years. However his real passion, sparked by a health crisis when we was just 29, was awakening to the truth of his being—to the freedom and joy that do not depend on outer circumstances, and that he intuited was his true nature.

He was initially inspired on his quest for freedom by the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, and then in 1984 met European nondual master, Jean Klein, who became his teacher. With Jean’s guidance, he finally realized freedom from the “I,” the “me,” and all its stories in the spring of 1995. Ever since then, he has been dedicated to sharing his message of heart-centered awakening—and of creating a new, more empowering life experience and "story"—with others.

His own awakening was severely tested by another health challenge, when he suffered three strokes over a period of five months. The third stroke landed him in the intensive care ward at UCSF Hospital in January, 2004. He was forced to quit his practice, and it took him several years to recover, but throughout the whole process, he just flowed, basically, harmoniously with whatever was happening.

As he writes in his book, End Your Story, Begin Your Life (Hampton Roads, 2011) regarding the experience of his strokes:

“As I see it, this is the litmus test of our freedom: how we deal with life’s changes and challenges. The more unconscious and unaware we are, the more such challenges will cause us to spiral down into fear, unhappiness, depression, despair, suffering, and misery. The more conscious and aware we are, the more we discern the difference between real and imaginary challenges.

“From this place of clarity and present-time awareness, we deal with whatever actual challenge may be confronting us, meeting it calmly and confidently, with wisdom and love.”

End Your Story, Begin Your Life contains the essence of his teaching: that while we are a story-telling people, the great freedom or liberation is realizing that we are not our thoughts or stories which, like the emotional reactions they trigger, come and go, but rather the clear, ever-present consciousness that is always here. In this book, he maintains that most people can realize freedom within a much shorter time than it took him, providing they commit to doing the three-step practice of freedom, which is at the heart of the book and of his teaching work, whenever they experience conflict, upset, or suffering.

The book can be ordered through your favorite bookstore, or online at www.amazon.com, or www.barnesandnoble.com.

See below for an excerpt from the book, about how he awakened.

He has also published The Ultimate Cure: The Healing Energy Within You (Llewellyn, 1995), his first book on spiritual transformation, which was translated into 4 languages, and The Way of Harmony (Avon, 1999), a guide to dealing with relationships, work, and daily life in a conscious way, written just after his awakening. His novel. Falling into Light, about a young boy’s spiritual journey, is available through emailing him at j This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  

A textbook, Somatic Technique, was written when he was a chiropractor. This book, which is a manual for how to release chronically tight muscles and enhance mind/body awareness, was originally published in 1991, is available as an eBook at www.somatictechnique.com


Yet-to-be-published works of fiction include a novella, Alice’s Awakening, in which a fictional 12 year old girl meets the real Jim Dreaver in a park in Santa Monica. They begin a series of weekly meetings during which Alice wakes up to the truth within her, to whom and what she is behind her name. Then, after her awakening, she learns that her Mom has Stage 2 endometrial cancer. The family is devastated by this, but not Alice, who is able to be there as a solid pillar of support.

He has taught his work at Esalen Institute for many years (www.esalen.org), as well as in San Francisco; Boulder; Chicago; Taupo, New Zealand; Perth, Australia: and Santa Barbara, where he lives.

He also offers private sessions, usually via Skype, for those passionate about inner freedom, but feeling the need for some real, heart-centered guidance from someone who has been there.

There are a number of videos of him talking about his work on www.youtube.com. Just type ‘jim dreaver’ into the search box.