Joi Sharp – 2nd Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Joi was aware of the unseen magic of Presence at a very early age. She remembers being more drawn to this mystery than anything else. This led her to delve into many traditions of spirituality. After a spontaneous awakening at age 28, Joi spent two years on a blissful honeymoon of Spirit before plunging into a deep period of emotional purging and healing. Among her healers were a powerful Lakota medicine man, with whom she traveled for two years, and a group of Yogananda disciples who had developed a powerful way of unlocking unconscious beliefs using kinesiology. She worked with them 3x/week for two years. During this period that the formless aspect of the Divine Mother appeared to Joi and she began a very intense journey.

Joi met Amma in 1993, and she realized that Amma was the same Mother that had captured her heart and soul. Joi spent nine years in Amma’s Indian Ashram, and then two years in Tiruvannamalai at Ramana’s Ashram.

When Joi came home from India, she was completely exhausted, and her “seeker drive” fell away. She began sitting with Adyashanti, who helped her understand all that had taken place within her being.

Joi began teaching in 2006, with Amma’s and Adya’s blessings. Joi continues to be inspired and moved toward what Life could be if we let go to our inner potential, which is the ultimate intelligence of all creation.

Mooji – 2nd Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Advaita Zen master Mooji is unlike anyone else you are likely to meet, for he compels one to question one’s very nature and existence. From the very first encounter, people from all walks of life are deeply touched by his indefinable presence, and perhaps for the very first time experience a natural sense of happiness and peace as they come to discover who or what they truly are. Mooji (Anthony Paul Moo-Young) was born in Jamaica on January 29, 1954.

As a teenager, he moved to London, UK, where he later worked as a street portrait artist and then as an art teacher in the local college. In 1987, an encounter with a Christian mystic inspired Mooji to ‘walk out of his life’—an expression he uses to convey the profundity of that meeting. In 1993, Mooji traveled to India, where seemingly by chance, he met his Master, Sri HWL Poonja, or Papaji, as he is affectionately known by his devotees. At Papaji’s feet, whatever still remained of an active ego was finally uprooted.

Recognizing Mooji’s radiance, people from various parts of the world soon began to approach him to simply sit in his presence and to ask questions regarding their search for Truth. The capacity to guide them arose spontaneously in him. While Mooji’s presence exudes compassion and devotion, his unity with Truth is also potently shared through self-inquiry—the unsparing light of wisdom which dispels the delusions and suffering common to human experiencing. In his direct and open interactions, each one who meets Mooji with a genuine urge for freedom is pulled by his profound unconditional love and the power of his pointings into the recognition of the infinite Self we already are.

Mooji presently resides at Monte Sahaja in Portugal and he continues to share Satsang worldwide with all who yearn to discover their true nature. Website: Books: Vaster Than Sky, Greater Than Space: What You Are Before You Became White Fire: Spiritual Insights and Teachings of Advaita Zen Master Mooji The Mala of God Writing on Water Before I Am, Second Edition Breath Of The Absolute – Dialogues With Mooji Interview recorded August 27, 2017.

Know Yourself

Rupert reads an excerpt from “Know Thyself “ from the sufi mystic, Balyani in response to a woman on the path of devotion, who asked about being a servant of God.

The Journey Within: Exploring the Path of Bhakti by Radhanath Swami (Author)

With illuminating references to Western religions and ideologies, The Journey Within invites readers from all backgrounds to discover the simple truths that unite us.

The mysteries of the soul have evaded mystics, sages, and gurus for centuries. Humanity has long yearned to discover the answer to our existence, and many spiritual traditions have evolved to provide those answers through sacred texts that facilitate journeys of transformation and discovery. Yet, never before have all of the spiritual traditions been distilled so simply into one easy-to-follow path—a path of love and devotion.

In this long-awaited follow-up to The Journey Home, The Journey Within guides readers through the essential teachings of bhakti yoga. World-renowned spiritual leader Radhanath Swami draws from his personal experiences to demystify the ancient devotional path of bhakti, capturing its essence and explaining its simple principles for balancing our lives.

His down-to-earth writing simplifies spiritual concepts and answers timeless questions in a heartfelt narrative that brings this sacred philosophy beautifully to life. What is love? What is the soul? Who is God? How can we live in the physical world without losing touch with the spiritual?

In concise and approachable language, Radhanath Swami sheds light on how to answer these vital questions and offers solutions to life’s challenges with the simplest of resources. Reach beyond the material world and journey within to discover the beauty of the true self.
Born in Chicago in 1950, Radhanath Swami, sets out to wander the world on a spiritual quest. Arriving in India in 1970, he lives the life of a wandering mendicant, travelling both outwardly and inwardly. Within months, his young world is augmented by experience, realization, soul-stirring revelations and near death experiences. He imbibes the teachings of great yogis, monks, and gurus including Swami Sivananda, Swami Rama, Swami Satchitananda, Swami Chidananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, Ananda Mayi Ma, Neem Karoli Baba, Muktananda, the Dalai Lama and Mother Teresa. He meets lepers and Naga Babas, contemplative Buddhists and mystic yogis. Living in Himalayan caves, forests and under trees, he moves through the subcontinent with a thirst for “the truth” that is rarely seen. Fasting and meditating for a month on the Banks of the Ganga in Rishikesh, he hears the celestial sound of mantras emerging from the Holy River.

Each experience brings him closer to the core of India’s mystic teachings and to the divine love he has been seeking. He reveals all in “The Journey Home”, a penetrating account into the heart of a seeker, filled with humor, adventure, wisdom, and inspiration. Perhaps not since, Autobiography of A Yogi, has such a lucid and intricate tale of one man’s revelation of the soul been so wonderfully recounted. As a man of infinite depth and grace, his life story offers all who hear it, an infinite wisdom.


Radhanath Swami – The Journey Within: Unleashing the Power of the Soul

Radhanath Swami, born as Richard Slavin in Chicago, came to confront a deep sense of alienation from the materialism and the civil injustices of mid-20th century America. Near-death encounters, apprenticeships with advanced yogis, and years of travel along the pilgrim’s path led him to the inner sanctum of India’s mystic culture. Now a monk in a Krishna-bhakti lineage and teacher of the devotional path of Bhakti Yoga, he is the author of “The Journey Home,” a memoir of his search for spiritual truth.

“The Yoga of Love” by James Swartz [updated Feb 25, 2016]

The Yoga of Love is an important text that addresses the many erroneous notions of devotion and liberation floating around in the spiritual world need to be properly contextualized to help devotees, East and West, achieve non-dual love.

It is also important because seekers need to know the benefit of self-inquiry: how Vedanta will transform them and their lives. This text provides an an excellent picture of a self-actualized person, someone who enjoys complete freedom and non-dual love.

Finally, these days we see many self-proclaimed “enlightened” people professing to be free. Generally, this freedom is left undefined or amounts to freedom from social constraints and/or one’s conditioning, which, depending on how you look at it, is not necessarily the kiss of death. However, I am not aware of any modern teaching that conflates liberation with non-dual (unconditional) love, which might fairly be said to be the next step after enlightenment. If Vedanta’s definition of liberation (moksa) were adhered to, the number of “enlightened beings” would shrink to imperceptibility and the many abuses visited on seek- ers by modern teachers would virtually disappear. In any case, these sutras are the last word on freedom and non-dual love.

Published on Nov 14, 2015

This short video is part of the video set “The Yoga of Love ~ Narada Bhakti Sutras” which is now available in the shop on the shiningworld website.

Torn Between Two Lovers

Published on Dec 18, 2015

A discussion about the mind’s conflict between giving attention to objects and to its source.

Devotional Practices – Part 2

Published on Aug 27, 2015
Devotional Practices – Part 2 (07/01/2015)

The sacred feminine expresses the realization of our belonging, our innate interdependence with all of life. These two classes explores inner practices that help us open to our longing to belong, and awaken the power of prayer.

Ram Dass 2014 Interview

Published on Sep 15, 2014

Ram Dass first went to India in 1967 when he was still Dr. Richard Alpert, an already eminent Harvard psychologist and psychedelic pioneer with Dr. Timothy Leary. In India, he met his guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who gave Ram Dass his name, which means “servant of God.” Everything changed then – his intense dharmic life started, and he became a pivotal influence on a culture that has reverberated with the words “Be Here Now” ever since. Ram Dass’s spirit has been a guiding light for three generations.

Through the auspices of Center for Spiritual Studies, Director Sridhar Silberfein brought Ram Dass over to Maui in 2004 to host a retreat. When recognizing a notable difference in Ram Dass’ well-being, it was decided he would stay on the island to maintain good health. After securing a home, assistants, doctors, therapist, and making sure Ram Dass was well taken care of financially, the Love, Serve Remember Foundation was created to replace Center for Spiritual Studies in 2009. Simultaneously Bhakti Fest was created and founded by Sridhar—from a vision he had on the stage at the Woodstock Festival standing along side Swami Satchidananda. Looking out at the field of humanity of 500,000 wild Americans, Sridhar said to Swamiji, “wouldn’t it be wonderful to be casting our eyes on the same amount of people chanting the Hari-nam (the names of the Divine)?” Forty years later, the stage was set and this envisioning came to fruition through the workings of Bhakti Fest.

Today, you can find one-of-a-kind reunions of these two longtime friends at the special screening of Ram Dass interviews in the Workshop hall of all Bhakti Festivals. Listen in as they discuss current events, life experiences, and all things devotional.

The Trap of Devotion to God and Guru ~ Jason Gregory

We fear nothing more than being truly independent. True independence does not mean in the social context in regards to individual job titles, nor does it mean in the collective sphere of nationalistic independence, though both may be derivatives. Real independence is spiritual sovereignty, meaning the individual truly lives psychologically from the Heart with no agenda and is free from the attachment to social, cultural, and religious programs which imprison our mind. Some may argue that we all need a philosophical framework psychologically to navigate our way through this life to give us a sense of meaning. And others may say that we need to eliminate all philosophical frameworks from our mind, whether it is social, cultural, or religious, because then we can move freely in the world and have a mind that Zen Buddhism would say “is a mind of no deliberation,” meaning that it doesn’t stick to any type of formula to understand life. From the opposing perspective this still may be thought of as a type of framework as Canadian philosopher Charles Taylor points out in his work by explaining that formulating and taking on frameworks may be inescapable for the mind. But this could also be viewed as just being extremely clever in an attempt to be victorious in this ongoing game of spiritual and philosophical one-upmanship, while also not taking into account the actual experience of the individual which is hard for anyone to judge from an external point of reference.

No matter how you view both perspectives on an individual level is not the point. The real emphasis is about how we depend on philosophical frameworks that we were once naturally drawn to but have over time become a crutch that obscures our ability to perceive reality without names, labels, or a prior agenda. This conditioned habit is carried over into the spiritual and religious philosophies we turn to when we yearn for liberation. Paradoxically the spiritual and religious philosophies we convert to originate from different environments than our own. Essentially they are built on an archetype diametrically opposed to the one embedded within our psychosomatic organism.

This is evident more visibly when we find Western people interested in Eastern philosophy and other esoteric wisdom traditions. In our search for enlightenment, or real independence in other words, from social, cultural, and religious mental concepts we discover the eternal depth of the East and its ability to reveal our underlying true nature beyond the claustrophobic walls of our ego. Yet the dependence we seek to transcend is projected onto the spiritual temperaments of the East.

For example, the Eastern character and temperament of devotion and surrender to God or guru/master becomes a crutch for both Eastern and Western seeker if their dependence on either eclipses their real faith and union with the irreducible essence of the universe. Again this is more visible when we observe a Westerner trying to embrace and mimic the Eastern archetypal structure. None more so than when we witness Western spiritually inclined people diving at the feet of a guru to kiss their feet or put their forehead on the guru’s feet in a so-called gesture of respect through the action of wiping the dust from the guru’s feet with the forehead. Deep down in the sacred intelligence of the gut, which is not connected to the ego, we know this is not genuine and is basically spiritual materialism because it is based on how we should appear to look towards others in the outside world and also to fulfill an image of ourselves that we have in our head. Though some may argue that this external behavior has an internal effect, and it does to some degree considering we have to completely humble our ego to kiss someone else’s feet who we acknowledge has more wisdom than us, but the problem is the attitude of devotion and surrender to either God or guru is based on the imitation of the archetypal temperaments of the East. (Note that in Oriental iconography a common image is the two footprints that symbolize divinity. They represent the feet of the divine that we kiss and touch with our hands as this action symbolizes that we are reaching in and kissing God in our heart). The Westerner will take on Eastern philosophical thinking and dress sense, for example, to hide and suppress the psychological habits and latent tendencies that cause us suffering. We imitate in the hope that these habits and tendencies will be transcended. The Easterner in turn does the same form of imitation when they try to take on the Western archetypal framework of social and materialistic success, but that topic is not of importance here.

A sincere spiritually inclined individual has no need to imitate nor do they to the contrary have to uphold their social, cultural, and religious programming. We can appreciate that kissing the feet of a guru is primarily an Indian archetype and is a sacredly beautiful aspect of India when we observe the people of India in their childlike innocence practicing such devotion and humility to God and guru. But this is not practiced anywhere else in the Far East, whether that be China, Korea, Japan, or even South East Asia. And astonishingly the Far East and South East Asian spiritual and cultural traditions are heavily influenced by India where Hinduism gave birth to aspects of Buddhism and Buddhism traveled over the Himalayas to Tibet then China to mix with Taoism which eventually became Zen Buddhism in Japan.

All along the way the environment especially in the Far East never deviated unnecessarily from their archetypal temperament to show honor and respect to a master and each other with a humble bow instead of the Indian version of kissing the guru’s feet. We would think it is extremely strange if a disciple of Japanese or Korean Zen Buddhism kissed their masters feet because it is not a spontaneously genuine response of the unconscious which is the archaic part of the mind before the later developing ego within our prefrontal cortex. It is this later developing part of the brain that we are intellectually making a decision as Westerners to kiss the feet of the guru or master, it is not naturally spontaneous. This is not an authentic sign of humility, surrender, or devotion, as the Western equivalent for showing gratitude and reverence to a teacher and each other is a hug of loving embrace.

Westerners, and also Easterners for a matter of a fact, make the critical mistake of intellectually associating devotion to an image of God or with kissing the feet of the guru or staring at an image of who one believes is the supreme intelligence of the universe. This is an error because the habit and tendency to follow and depend on an external structural framework is the same egotistic conditioning we learn from our society, culture, and religion. Westerners who imitate Eastern temperaments, especially those who submit to the guru’s will, parade their so-called freedom or enlightenment around as authentic surrender and devotion. In doing so, people believe they have destroyed the ego, yet they still follow. Those who seek to follow a guru/master and kiss their feet become blind to the fact that one of the primary characteristics of the illusory ego is to follow. We need to keep in mind that the ego is a social and cultural product. The society and culture is what builds our personality (ego) and separates our consciousness from the real unified consciousness that we are. Our absurd belief that we need to depend on a society and culture puts us in a double-bind that we are free but we must conform to what is socially acceptable, thus not truly free. As a result we develop this following tendency which cuts us off from being and feeling one with the universe and so ultimately it is a trait of the ego. To truly have that sense of unity within means that the dualism of following, whether guru or society, is to not attach or conform to any external limitation because this separates us from the awareness that the universe is the real you deep down.

Blindly following cuts this awareness off. To follow and submit is what our society, culture, and religion teach us from birth which builds the foundation of our isolated ego and coincidently the last spiritual flaw we need to transmute. Even in India, following in the form of devotion to a physical or mental image of God or guru without understanding the real you as the undifferentiated Self (Atman in Sanskrit) as identical to the irreducible essence of the universe (Brahman in Sanskrit) is thought of as the lowest temperament of yoga (bhakti yoga in Sanskrit), because of the social and cultural habit of depending on a separate “higher” power, either in family, society, or religion. This usually makes the individual think of themselves in terms of a low subject to the higher king and this builds our hypnosis that God is a monarchical being lording it over “his” humanly subjects. To perceive reality in this way is purely dualistic and not related at all to the mystery of the universe that is the source of all being. (Real bhakti yoga can only be sincerely lived when we know and understand “what” we love, otherwise it is purely idolatry. We can only have devotional love to God, or whatever name you choose, when we know God through the light of knowledge that breaks through our ignorance that the individual and the universe are separate. This known as jnana yoga in Sanskrit and is thought to be the highest temperament of yoga. From the jnana yoga perspective, how can we love anything without knowing it and understanding it first?)

Westerners interested in the Hindu philosophy of Vedanta become lost in believing the numerous gods are actual monarchical and hierarchical entities without realizing that they are in reality mythological images that are supposed to ignite our imagination about the universe and our place in it. Not our place in it as an isolated ego, but as “it” doing and being “it.” Even Ishvara, the highest of the Hindu gods, is purely a mental concept that people gave anthropomorphic form, which suits the narrow understanding of those individuals with a materialistic or extroverted view of the world. Ishvara is thought of completely different when we consider the deeper understanding that the Hindu gods represent mythological images of the archetypal unconscious. (Keep in mind that the former representation of Ishvara is the highest Hindu personal god from the medieval era texts and is to not be confused at all with Brahman the Ultimate Reality).

All genuine masters should have realized that for people to follow them unquestionably as a servant to king is still dualism and not the non-duality they profess. A genuine master realizes that we are all ultimately one through their evolved perception, and the only thing that differs between them and the common man or woman is they have realized this underlying unity as the nature of reality and act accordingly. They have completely surrendered to the mystery of life that we all sense within when we have the spiritual courage to not move to the gravitational pull of our conditioning in the mental plane which keeps us following the beat of somebody else’s drum that our ego hypnotically dances to. The real egoless state has no need to depend upon a philosophy, God or guru because their psychological independence (enlightenment) is a mirror of the enduring quality of change in the universe as one is not drowning in regression but instead moving freely with it in the same way water moves freely down a mountain stream eventually to the greater ocean.

The difference between water and us is water follows no one else’s nature because its nature is pure when it moves with the contours of the path that has been laid out before it and only becomes stagnant and toxic when it resists this path and its own nature. This relates to our spirituality as we become stagnant and toxic when we cling and depend on external agencies because our internal nature is independently free and devoid of psychological conditions. We are scared to move and surrender in unison with our own path that spontaneously reveals itself every day without conceptual response, spiritual or otherwise, because all concepts, including the one of God, will be destroyed as we truly surrender and devote our life to that unnamable mystery which we are. Surrender your life to life and devotion will be the life you live in correspondence to the entire universe which you are.

Source: Jason Gregory

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