Pete grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and was training as a high-school teacher when he had an accident which caused the loss of his eyesight. After rehabilitation, he retrained and worked as a welfare officer and teacher of blind and deaf-blind adults.
Pete married Pearl in 1966 and together they founded and served in an aid and relief organisation, now known as CBM - Australia, which supports projects in the fields of education, vocational training for people with disabilities and of prevention and cure of blindness.
In 1997, Pete and Pearl concluded their work with CBM - Australia and resided in Fremantle, Western Australia, for some years before finally returning in 2012 to Melbourne and settling in bayside Beaumaris. Their home and counselling center, is known as Gurukula.
In 1998, Pete established the Peter's Pearls Web site and commenced a daily inspirational email service which presently sends to interested subscribers around the world gems of insight from the wisdom of noted enlightenment teachers.
In his fifties, Pete began to study the writings of the Christian mystics and developed an intense longing to know the ultimate reality that the great spiritual masters had found.
The seeking was long and at times agonising, but eventually, the end of the search came suddenly one morning as he mounted some steps on his way to work in West Perth. Since that 'shift of consciousness' or 'change of perception' he has enjoyed the immense freedom and understanding that only the full realisation of our true nature can bring.
"I said Oh no! Help me!
And that Oh no! became a rope let down in my well.
I've climbed out to stand here in the sun.
One moment I was at the bottom of a dark fearful narrowness,
and the next, I am not contained by the universe.
If every tip of every hair on me could speak, I still couldn't say my gratitude.
In the middle of these streets and gardens, I stand and say and say again,
and it's all I say, I wish everyone could know what I know."
About that time, Pearl also had a similar awakening, so together they now rest and delight in knowing That which can only be indicated but never defined by words.
This shift of consciousness seems to be happening to more and more people in our time as seminars, books and Internet resources about the Great Wisdom Tradion become more readily available.
In 1991, Pete had recovered some useful eyesight as the result of a successful corneal transplant and was eventually able to read ordinary print with strong magnifying glasses etc.
This enabled him to deepen his understanding by studying the works of seers such as Meister Eckhart, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta Maharaj, Jean Klein, Eckhart Tolle, Adyashanti, Abhayananda, Douglas Harding and others.
I have discovered my deep deathless being:
Masked by my front of mind, immense, serene
It meets the world with an Immortal's seeing,
A god-spectator of the human scene.
No pain and sorrow of the heart and flesh
Can tread that pure and voiceless sanctuary.
Danger and fear, Fate's hounds, slipping their leash
Rend body and nerve, - the timeless Spirit is free.
Awake, God's ray and witness in my breast,
In the undying substance of my soul
Flamelike, inscrutable the almighty Guest.
Death nearer comes and Destiny takes her toll;
He hears the blows that shatter Nature's house:
Calm sits He, formidable, luminous.
~ Sri Aurobindo (1872 - 1950)
After several years, however, Pete's regained eyesight deteriorated again and in recent times, he's been ably assisted by his devoted guide-dog Turlow.
Although limited in physical eyesight, what Pete has come to know and share is in full accord with the teachings of all those of spiritual vision. His is but another expression of the perennial wisdom that stems from the mystical vision of Unity.
Pete simply reports what he now sees, and offers 'pointers' to any interested in discovering their true Self and how to live fully from this limitless dimension.
Pete's spiritual direction and mentoring has served to bring assurance, understanding and recognition of our true nature to a small, but growing number of seekers after Truth from around the world.
The counselling and spiritual direction work operates under the name of Clearsight.
Pete Sumner is now recognized as one of those rare Western minds that are entirely at home with progressive religious thought, esoteric Christianity and the Great Nondual Wisdom Tradition.
He understands that words and concepts are mere pointers to a reality they can never capture. He invites us to journey beyond truths into Truth, beyond tribal and sectarian gods into God-realization.
He recognizes the idolatry of biblical, ecclesiastical and scientific fundamentalism and sketches for us images that resonate with a universal mysticism.
He will scare the religiously insecure, but for the earnest seeker, he can be as the bazaar merchant who reveals the long-sought, incomparable Pearl.
Pete has never abandoned his Christian roots, but has gone deeper and deeper into those roots. (cf) Finally he realized that the very deepest roots were common to all the great religious traditions and what some have called: the Perennial Philosophy.
Of himself, Pete says ...
"At the age of 14, I became a follower of Jesus, the Christ, and later began to promote his public teachings and what I understood to be the true (orthodox) Protestant faith. At some time in my forties, however, I began to question the veracity and completeness of this 'orthodox Christianity' and this lead to a period of much suffering and searching for something more meaningful.
Then, purely by grace rather than any achievement on my part, I came to realize that Jesus had also taught his inner circle, who were more able to receive it, a much deeper revelation of truth which, for a few, lead to a complete shift of consciousness or what has been called, 'enlightenment'.
It also became apparent to me about this time that Jesus hadn't invented or concocted this secret teachng but rather that he had expressed anew the great primordial wisdom teaching that had been known and taught by saints and sages since humankind came into existence.Jesus is reported to have said that those who came to know or directly experience the innermost secret teaching would be transformed by that 'knowing' and do even greater things than he had done, and being advocates of the truth, they would bring the Light of a higher consciousness into the world as he had done. This subtle, secret Light would be a great comforter to all who discovered it and would bring about their transformation too in due course.
The Greek word for 'comforter' or 'advocate,' used in the New Testament, is, paraclete or parakletos. This word also refers to the divine or holy Spirit dimension which is the true nature of all beings, and especially of awakened conscious beings -- those who have discovered and live in accord with the innermost secret teaching of Jesus.
The Master reportedly said, "the Father will send in my name one acting as an advocate who will teach you everything (including my most secret teaching) and remind you of all I have said (both publically and privately) ..."
Paul also wrote, "We are, therefore, Christ's ambassadors (representatives), as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on the Christ's behalf: Be reconciled to (your true, unborn, undying 'beingness' as) God." (2 Cor. 5:20 NIV)
So while not denying a general, dualistic teaching to those with basic spiritual understanding, Paul took every opportunity to reveal the great nondual wisdom traditon to any who were ready for it: "... we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." (1 Cor. 2:7)
A little later in the same letter he wrote: "(we) ought to be regarded as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God." (4:1)
So with the greatest humility, I can say that I have a sense of a calling to be an advocate or ambassador for Jesus' innermost secret teachings. Late in my life, when this secret (the Gnosis of Light) was finally revealed to me, I felt this call in a most unexpected way.
Now I serve from time to time as a kind of hierophant, that is, a person who assists prepared inquirers to recognize the presence within of That which is deemed most holy. The word comes from ancient Greece, where it was constructed from the combination of ta hiera, "the holy," and phainein, "to show."
Do I claim to be special? No. I only claim to be an advocate of Jesus' private or secret teaching, just as every Christian Sunday-school teacher or Minister is an advocate of Jesus' public and now 'orthodox' teachings. Everyone's advocacy is equally important. In the circle of life, the talents of each are indispensable to the well-being of the whole." (See 1 Cor. 12:12-30)
Devotion, action and knowing are all essential for the life that is 'hid with Christ in God'. If the two wings of a bird are devotion and action, knowing (gnosis) is its tail. Only with the help of all three can the bird soar into the heights. In my devoted, active, 'Christian life', I flapped along the ground, so to speak, for many years, but by grace, and after much seeking, the knowing finally came and this enabled me to 'take off', soar and fulfil my destiny.
Practices such as contemplative prayer, selfless service, and the cultivativation of compassion, patience, forgiveness, self-control, etc. can refine us inwardly and make us more able to assimilating the ultimate truth: that in essence, one is not the limited body and mind but the eternal blissful consciousness that is the nondual substratum of the universe.
This understanding itself is the true liberation while we are alive that Jesus spoke of ("You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free." Jn 8:32). This isn't something to be attained after death, nor is it to be experienced or bestowed upon us in another world. It's a state of perfect awareness and equanimity, which can be experienced here and now in this world, while living in the body. We are 'born again' when we come to experience the highest truth of our oneness with the (Christ) Self, which is unborn, undying and infinite."
* Pete now edits and publishes the Inner Light monthly eZine on emerging Christian and inter-faith issues.