Ascension Meditation, with Thomas Howell (Ishtar Ishaya)

Thomas Howell (Ishtar Ishaya) is a teacher of Ascension Meditation. In this interview he takes us through his fascinating life, from recalling early spiritual experiences, through tragedy and a near death experience, to spiritual exploration and a settling on Ascension

Thomas explains that he chose Ascension as a practice as it seeks to charm the mind with praise, gratitude and love, as opposed to using control or discipline. He found this gentle approach opened up profound states of non-dual awareness

Linda Clair ‘Enlightenment is in the Body ‘ Interview By Renate McNay”

Published on 8 Nov 2018
Linda Clair ‘Enlightenment is in the Body.’ Interview By Renate McNay
Linda is a Meditation Teacher based on ZEN practice. She is the Author of the book ‘What do you want – Conversations about Enlightenment.’
In this interview which is the second one with her Linda says that enlightenment is the beginning of a whole new way of living and although its the end of suffering and fear, there is no end to the practice as long as one is in the body. To be fully free you need to go through being grounded, so grounded that you’re able to let go of everything—even enlightenment.
Stay in your body. The silence is in your body. Its not out there. Stay in your body and you’ll be surprised what happens.
To really become immersed in the silence, you need to free your body – purify your body of the past. Only then will there be silence and that silence is overwhelming.

Susanne Marie “Living Beyond Unity” Interview by Renate McNay

Susanne Marie is a Mystic, spiritual Mentor and Guide and currently writing her first book about her journey to Awakening.
In this interview she talks about the 3 different major awakening she had.
1. Emptiness of Mind…Mind waking up to itself

2. Unity Consciousness…the Heart understood the truth of form, the form
itself is divine and I AM THAT not just I AM.
9 years of integration and embodiment followed when a realization
happened she wasn’t anticipating…

3. Her Body released itself of identity, she was left with NO SELF

The Body contains identity within its own structure, the sense of ME which is needed to help it function. When the ME fell away within the body nothing was ever the same. There is no landing place anymore. Self reflection came to a permanent End. There is only pure experience only NOW. She says: “Go directly to the experience and feeling of what is arising, drop deeper into the vastness of your Being, rest there, no need to interpret, let go without knowing.”

When Spirit Leaps: Navigating the Process of Spiritual Awakening 1st Edition by Bonnie L. Greenwell PhD (Author), Adyashanti (Foreword)

Whether it happens all at once or gradually over time, spiritual awakening is an experience that may be accompanied by great insight, ecstatic bliss, or a mystical infusion of light, love, and vision. But it can be an overwhelming experience, too, leaving those to whom it’s occurred searching for answers and understanding. Written by a transpersonal psychologist and non-dual teacher, this book will help you understand the phenomenon of spiritual awakening, and provide guidance and support for you on your spiritual journey.

At the heart of most spiritual traditions is the understanding that we are one with all of existence. This realization, also known as spiritual awakening or spiritual emergence, can occur spontaneously, after years of spiritual practice, or through many other portals. Although awakening is often considered a purely positive experience, many people are not prepared for the ramifications of such a life-altering event. When your perception of yourself and reality has been altered, you may find yourself with more questions than answers. Where can you turn?

Based on over thirty years of case studies, as well as the author’s own experiences, When Spirit Leaps explores the why and what of spiritual awakening, revealing how this phenomenon occurs across all traditions, and exploring the various ways it can happen. Including discussions on kundalini energy, meditation, yoga and qigong, breathwork, near-death experiences, and much more, this inspirational book offers companionship and practical solutions to common challenges along the spiritual path of awakening.

With this book as your guide, you’ll gain a deep understanding of the process and different portals of awakening, and find comfort and support in the real-life stories of those who have experienced this shift in consciousness and faced its challenges. Most importantly, you’ll learn how you can embody this awakening and live joyfully and effectively without attachment to a personal sense of self, but as the oneness with all that is your true nature. No matter where you are on your spiritual journey, this book will help you along the way.

Bonnie L. Greenwell, PhD, is a transpersonal psychotherapist, author, and non-dual spiritual teacher in Adyashanti’s lineage. She has specialized for more than thirty years in mentoring people going through transformative experiences related to spiritual awakening and the kundalini process, which was the subject of her doctoral research at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology (ITP). Greenwell has an eclectic background, including work in psychiatric units, at a rehabilitation center, as director of the Transpersonal Counseling Center at ITP, and years of private practice. Before finding her ground in non-dual teachings, she studied Jungian psychology; Jin Shin Do® acupressure; Psychotropic and Radiance Breathwork; kundalini, kriya, and Ashtanga yogas; and many Buddhist meditation practices. The founder and former director of the Kundalini Research Network, she has lectured and trained therapists in Europe, Australia, and the United States. Greenwell also established the Shanti River Center for non-dual education and counseling in Ashland, OR.

Foreword writer Adyashanti is an American-born spiritual teacher devoted to serving the awakening of all beings. His teachings are an open invitation to stop, inquire, and recognize what is true and liberating at the core of all existence. Adyashanti is author of The Way of Liberation, Falling into Grace, Emptiness Dancing, True Meditation, and The End of Your World. Based in California, he lives with his wife, Mukti, and teaches throughout North America and Europe, offering satsangs, weekend intensives, silent retreats, and a live Internet radio broadcast.

Navigating Spiritual Awakening & Its Challenges with Dr Bonnie Greenwell

For more than 30 years, Dr. Bonnie Greenwell has specialized in mentoring people going through transformative experiences relating to spiritual awakening and the kundalini process. Among many hats, Bonnie founded and directed the Kundalini Research Network, established the Shanti River Center and has authored several key books on awakening.

We discuss her latest book When Spirit Leaps: Navigating The Process Of Spiritual Awakening.

We cover:
* What is kundalini?
* What is non-dualism?
* How do we awaken?
* Major common obstacles to transformation
* What does liberation look like?

You can find out more at

Awaken Interviews Guruprem Khalsa- Awakening Is The Recognition That My Existence Is A Miracle

Donna Quesada: Well, Guruprem…Welcome and thank you for joining us.

We are and I know that our listeners will just be thrilled to hear whatever wisdom you have to offer us today. So, I appreciate your time and I thank you for spending this hour with us.

Guruprem Khalsa: Thank you.

DONNA: For those of you who do not know, you are the author of Everyday Devotion, which I personally enjoyed and marked up terribly. But you also have other books out. The Heart Rulesand Divine Alignment.The first thing we like to start with is the topic of awakening because after all, this is, so we are very interested in exploring this notion of what it means to awaken. So, I would love it if you could share your thoughts on that. What is awakening?

GURUPREM: Awakening…well, it could be as simple as the voice that got you out of bed.

DONNA: I like that.

GURUPREM: Let me give you an example. This morning. There I was…it was four something in the morning. About 4:20, actually, and there was the call to get out of bed now…or, stay a bit longer. So, the awakening dialog was that the cold shower was calling me. Or, the cozy covers. How do I describe it? The cozy mistress of the covers versus the reality of the cold shower. Most mornings the cold shower wins. But there is always that bit of a duality between the sense of comfort and stepping into a greater reality. And so, the idea of the cold shower is what awakens me. Then the process of deeper awakening will evolve over the early hours, which includes some kind of meditation…some kind of devotional practice. And I’ve done this thousands of times over the last 42 years. You’d think that I’d want to coast and feel that I am awake enough, but it’s not true.

DONNA: Now, 4:20 in the morning is awfully early for most folks. Why 4:20 in the morning? Why do you do that?

GURUPREM: Okay…It’s not something that I would have ever guessed on my own. Interestingly enough, when I was in college and thought I was on my way to a successful career, at 21 years old, I wanted to be successful enough financially, so I could get up at the crack of noon. That was my aim in life. To be able to get up whenever I wanted…do what ever I wanted…be what ever I wanted. That was my aspiration. It didn’t go much beyond that. And all I needed was enough income to pay for that form of existence. So, it was following the path of comfort, as I understood it—which was essentially emotional comfort…physical comfort. That’s it. But, at the time, I was in a state that could literally be described as cold depression, even though I was athletic. But, I was on a path of, I would say, creative darkness…and required actually becoming dark enough that I could awaken to the flickering light of the soul. And thus began, what was the first awakening. And I’ll get back to where I am in just a second. But, that first awakening happened when I was 21.

DONNA: What prompted it?

GURUPREM: Well, I ended up by luck and by chance in a yoga class. Not by design. I just wanted to meet this girl.

DONNA: I think you describe that in your book! She was a vegetarian and you were four hours vegetarian when you met her…

GURUPREM: That’s correct. Well, I was not even that. I was pretending! Ha! But I got her attention and she invited me to her pantomime class. And the pantomime teacher used Kundalini Yoga as a device to bring us to an awakened awareness…so that our sensitivity and subtlety could be harnessed into not pretending there was a wall, but to actually see it. You could project a field of light that you would develop the subtlety and sensitivity enough to play with. And the other side of that…it looks like he’s on a wall, when in fact, it was as much a wall as the very sensitive nature…as you put your hands on a wall. And the very good mimes…their hands would actually turn pressure white, as if they were actually on a wall. Thus, the beginning was actually just following an attraction. Everyone’s beginning is different. Some beginnings start at a really hard bottom. They awaken, literally, on the streets, homeless…addicted to some substance. And some people awaken from a different darkness, chasing some young lady to a yoga class. I look at the bottom as sacred. And I would call that our base awakening.

DONNA: And we honor whatever that is.

GURUPREM: Absolutely!

DONNA: Now, when you use the word in this context, though…that awakening can come from all beginnings. Are you talking about that most basic beginning or a deeper awakening? I’d like to probe that a little further.

GURUPREM: There are layers in that. Your basic beginning is the most important. Because we are talking about the call of the soul, which comes in many styles and verses. It’s that first call. You know, people don’t even recognize it at the time, but that call is the first love. But, the awakening of the soul has a fist love, too. But, anyone who has been blessed to be in a long relationship—and I’ve been blessed to have a 30-year marriage—the relationship grows into subtlety, although that first call at the beginning is a very different kind of feeling and you honor that. It’s just like the first call of your spiritual soul. That call is not only something you must honor, but you’ve got to put roots into that.

So, fast forward. I’ve been through many transformative processes, tests and challenges. And I’ve had to go back to that fundamental part of me. What was that awakening? What was that recognition that my existence is a miracle? In fact, I consider my existence the greatest miracle of all time. And it’s taken me a number of years to awaken. Wow, not only was it the greatest miracle of all time…all the other miracles around me, whether it be science or spiritual…they are irrelevant, without my existence, to recognize it. But, I am continually awakening to the miracle that continues.

Getting back to 4:20 AM…The call of my soul is a bit stronger, now. And it demands my presence. When you are up at that hour, you are on the cusp between night and daylight. And just about every tradition honors what we call the “ambrosial hour.”It’s the most potent time, whether you are a Catholic monk…whether you are a Tibetan monk…whether you are a Sufi.

DONNA: And why is that? It’s not just that it is quiet and you are uninterrupted…Is there something magnetic or particularly sacred?

GURUPREM: Yeah. Well, let’s just call that a “life force.”It is particularly life force-rich. So, for those who wish to gather the nectar, it’s more abundant. For those that are trained in the sensitivity required…the receptivity required to appreciate it…I show up early because it’s how I get 24 hours of insurance coverage. One day! And I’ve got to go an renew my coverage for another day because I’m going to make mistakes. I’m going to miss things. Sometimes subtle…sometimes bigger…But I’m always amazed how I’m covered.

DONNA: That’s cute. I like that…Having that sacred time in the morning is a way to give you better assurance that your day will be balanced. I don’t mean to put words in your mouth.

GURUPREM: Yes, and the way it works is that I’m kept in what I call “deep listening mode.”There is a word for it. It’s both Sanskrit and Gurmukhi…and it’s called…well, there are a couple of ways to put it. Deep sunni-ai. Sunia is the word for deep listening. And so, in this state…you know the awakening continues…your sunni-ai goes deeper. And in this deep state…more and more is presented to you. This is by invitation. You can’t barge into a state of deep listening. What you can do is prepare yourself for the invitation. And if you are a good guest, then that invitation is extended and you can progressively go deeper and collect more gifts.

DONNA: You’ve referenced a few times, this notion of “getting subtle and sensitive.”Is this part of the early awakening process?

Guruprem: Yeah.

DONNA: Would you say that it develops in layers?

GURUPREM: Yeah and I can…I just substitute the word soulful for subtle. I could say the word soulful or subtle. To me, they mean the exact same thing. To be soulful is to be subtle. And the first thing I learned way back…and I’m still learning…the first step on the path of subtly is calm. And calm is not stillness. That’s something that is often misunderstood. We are not here to be still nor are we here to be perfect. We are here to be subtle. Perfect…I used to think I was to do things perfectly…just the littlest things….making a judgement and a condemnation at times.

DONNA: And everything has to be perfectly executed.

GURUPREM: Except you never can be perfect. Sometimes perfect really does you. And you don’t know how you did so well. It just happened. The most difficult thing is absolutely easy not because you did it…it’s because you didn’t do it. And if you try to do it again then you can’t do it because you can’t do it, it can do you. So, this is a good metaphor for life itself. The song writes itself. Routine does itself. The magic happens by itself. All you can do is be prepared for perfect to do you. Stillness can be achieved. You cannot achieve stillness. But you can do calmness and calmness is a condition of equalization. It begins by equalizing the speed of your inhale and exhale. This is relative calm. You are dancing around the two points between inhale and exhale. You can dance between the top of the inhale or the bottom. Your bottom of the exhale or the top.

DONNA: When you say we can’t be still, why is that? Just because of the nature of being human…that we are here to accomplish and do?

GURUPREM: Well, stillness implies perfection. What environment are you in that is actually still? Just point to me one thing. I want you to share with me because I have never found anything still.

DONNA: So, we are just going back to Buddha’s first teaching, everything is impermanent, including us. So, the trick is finding that calmness in the midst of the motion…

GURUPREM: Well, I like verifying things with physics, so again, what in your room is still? Well, you could say that couch behind you. Come back in 100,000 years and it is moving. You may not see it with your physical eyes but if you look with a microscope, deep enough…oh my god, there is movement. It is not still. Look at the deeper level. The quantum levels. It’s not still. They try to grab some empty space, only to find there was all kinds of stuff, behavior, dynamics happening.

DONNA: So, I kind want to nail this down further. We are talking about these levels of awakening…and it’s so intriguing because you’ve referenced this first point, where we hear the whisper…when we hear this call from wherever we are and then we come into this kind of calmness amidst the movement of life…

GURUPREM: You have to be trained. I mean, I can’t claim I didn’t have to show up and learn a few things. I was taught how to calm my breath. I had no breath awareness. Breathing? I guess I’m breathing. I didn’t even know I spoke on an exhale. I was college educated and I didn’t even know I spoke on an exhale until I was told. Oh, yeah, of course! Otherwise, words just came out of me. I can’t put them back in. We see that every day. Words come out of people without a thought. And then they go into deep apology. I didn’t know what I was saying! I guarantee you, a person that speaks unconsciously is very breath unaware.

DONNA: So where do we go next as we continue the awakening process? Is there no limit? And is this what we mean by enlightenment? Does such a thing exist?

GURUPREM: Well, no. No human can get that much, within the constrains of a maxed-out human body and mind.

DONNA: I love that straight forward answer, by the way. Because people have the misconception that enlightenment makes you a saint and that you reach this pinnacle where you are perfect. And it’s funny, we were talking about the impossibility of being perfect. So, you are saying, “cut that out! No, it doesn’t exist.”

GURUPREM: You, perfect as you…you can’t be perfect. Perfect does you. You can bow to it. The greatest saints always remind us they’re nothing. They will even say, “I’m the lowest of the low.”They will say, “okay, there are words that have come through me…make them your song, too.”And, they can deliver you, as well.

You know, when I was really little, my idea of death was that I would be stuck in a dark room with the clock ticking forever. That was like a torture. This endless claustrophobic ticking away and I couldn’t get out. And I’ve come to realize, through experience…well, wait a minute…it isn’t time based. The infinite is also formless. We are allowing formlessness to take form in us. And we are doing our best to listen and behave in a certain way, so we can get a little bit. And a little bit goes a long way. We are delivering you to a healthier, happier, whole-hearted, holy existence.

DONNA: So, this listening seems to be a big part of what you consider the awakening process and it’s the ability for us to get to…did you say shunya?

GURUPREM: No. Shunya means zero. It means, another place we can move toward. But, you can’t get that either…but, you can get close enough where you can realize…You are getting close enough to be a cleaner channel. Sunni-ai means deep listening and it’s not we’re listening. It’s when all of your senses have been disciplined into a oneness. It’s kind of primal. The bible said, “let there be light.”So, there is the vibration. Creating light.

DONNA: This is beautiful. I want to fine tune this a little bit. Sunni-ai…it’s not just listening well. It is that, but from what you are saying, it is so much more than that. It’s your soul listening. Would you say that it is developing that sense of intuitive awareness?

GURUPREM: Well, you will get the intuitive awareness. Your intuition is guiding you towards that. And before you are guided toward that…the gift of that journey is, you will have more of three basic intuitions. You’ll have your gut sense. And you will have a greater sense of what they call clairvoyant; you’ll just see things. See the divine. Nature, so much of what we call sacred geometry. You will see the divine print in a form. And in divine song. The voice, if you will. That quiet voice, that deep wisdom that comes from your personal guide. Your personal guide that sits on the altar of your true heart. Whatever you consider the ideal form of the formless, you can install it in the altar of your heart. And you can have that relationship.

DONNA: It seems like every tradition has an expression for this. What you just said reminds me of what the Quakers call the “still, small voice within.”Are we all talking about the same thing?

GURUPREM: Absolutely. Exact same thing. But how do you get your noisy head to shut up enough where the quieter voice will be heard? It’s not that it’s not talking. It’s just that we haven’t listened enough. Seek and you shall find. There is the idea, meditate in God’s name. Okay, I did that but I’m not fully awake. Why? It’s not that if I keep chanting my favorite mantra Om, or whatever it is…If I just keep doing it, God is going to wake up. No, I keep doing it until I wake up. That’s the idea of this repetitiveness. Continual remembering because it’s really easy to forget. It’s so easy to be pulled into many distractions. Dis-attract. You are being pulled into a different attraction. We are so easily seduced by other attractions. Other tastes.

Continued in Part II…

Source: AWAKEN

Jean Houston – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Dr. Jean Houston, Ph.D., is a scholar, philosopher, educator and a recognized pioneer of the Human Potential Movement. Widely recognized as a visionary leader and multi-cultural expert, Houston is the author of over 30 books exploring human possibilities and positive action in the world. Houston served as an advisor in human and cultural development for UNICEF, and to national and international heads of state.

Houston has devoted her life to developing processes to activate the latent abilities in individuals, groups, organizations, and societies. Over the last 60 years, Dr. Houston has worked in over 109 countries as an international speaker and teacher. Dr. Houston is the Chancellor of Meridian University and a dedicated champion of the human spirit.


Awakened by Darkness: When Evil Becomes your Father by Paul Levy (Author)

Awakened by Darkness is Paul Levy’s personal story of how he managed to come through extreme psychological abuse from an emotionally disturbed father to not only find his inner voice, creative spirit and life’s work, but a deeper sense of wholeness as well. This is the in-depth story of Paul’s descent into the depths of insanity and his encounter with archetypal darkness and evil, only to come out stronger than before, with creative gifts that can help others who are struggling with the evil of psychological trauma and abuse.

At age 24, the intensity of the emotional abuse from his father catalyzed a life-transforming spiritual awakening, which, because it wasn’t recognized as such, got Paul hospitalized and (mis)diagnosed by psychiatry as having a mental illness. This is the story of how Paul eventually freed himself from both his dysfunctional family as well as from the toxicity of psychiatry – in a dream come true, he now has psychiatrists consulting with him. Paul’s story illumines how the deeper archetype of the wounded healer/shaman underlies and in-forms all healing procedures, be they personal or collective. Though this is Paul’s unique story, in a sense it has a universal aspect, for it is all of our story-relevant to all types of trauma-as we attempt to shed light on and creatively bring forth the hidden gifts encoded within the darkness that is to be found both out in the world and within ourselves.

A pioneer in the field of spiritual emergence, Paul Levy is a wounded healer in private practice, assisting others who are also awakening to the dreamlike nature of reality. He is the founder of the “Awakening in the Dream Community” in Portland, Oregon. A creative artist, he is deeply steeped in the work of C. G. Jung, and has been a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner for over 35 years. He was the coordinator for the Portland chapter of the PadmaSambhava Buddhist Center for over twenty years. He has been writing since the mid-nineties.

Awakened by Darkness by Paul Levy

Author Paul Levy giving a talk about his brand new book, “Awakened by Darkness”, at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. Paul Levy is an author and speaker about the dream-like nature of reality, and he facilitates weekly Jungian based process groups in Portland, Oregon which are rooted in the idea that our daily lives are a shared waking dream, which we are all co-creating and co-dreaming together. His new book, “Awakened by Darkness: When Evil Becomes Your Father”, and is now officially in publication.

The Quantum Revelation: A radical synthesis of science and spirituality : Paul Levy

The Quantum Revelation is mind-blowing.” –Sting

To say that quantum physics is the greatest scientific discovery of all time is not an exaggeration. In their discovery of the quantum realm, the physics community stumbled upon a genuine multifaceted revelation which can be likened to a profound spiritual treasure–a heretofore undreamed of creative power–hidden within our own mind.

Quantum physics unequivocally points out that the study of the universe and the study of consciousness are inseparably linked, which is to say that ultimate progress in the one will be impossible without progress in the other. Einstein declared that what it reveals is so immensely important that “it should be everyone’s concern.” Yet few of us in the general public truly understand how the game-changing discoveries of the past century not only relate to our day-to-day lives, but also give us insights into the nature of reality and our place within it.

Written for readers with no physics background, Paul Levy’s latest book, The Quantum Revelation: A Radical Synthesis of Science and Spirituality is for those who have heard that quantum physics is a fascinating subject but don’t quite understand how or why. Levy contemplates the deeper philosophical underpinnings of quantum physics, exploring the fundamental questions it provokes:

What does it mean that quantum theory has discovered that there is no such thing as “objective reality?” How are we participating–via our consciousness–in creating our experience of a reality that quantum theory itself describes as “dreamlike?” What are the implications for us in our day-to-day lives that–as quantum theory reveals–what we call reality is more like a dream that we had previously imagined? The Quantum Revelation is unique in how it synthesizes science and spirituality so as to reveal and explore the dreamlike nature of reality. It is a book not just for people interested in quantum theory, but for anyone who is interested in waking up and dreaming lucidly, be it in our night dreams or our waking life.

The Bedsit Epiphany – Eckhart Tolle

By Oliver Burkeman, THE GUARDIAN (UK)

Eckhart Tolle, Oprah Winfrey’s favourite guru, has sold more books than almost any other spiritual author. So what’s his Easter message?

When Eckhart Tolle was 29, he says, he underwent a cataclysmic and terrifying spiritual experience that erased his former identity. One evening, he was a near-suicidal graduate student, living in a Belsize Park bedsit; by the following morning, he’d been flooded with a sense of “uninterrupted deep peace and bliss” that has never left him since. That morning, he writes, “I walked around the city in utter amazement at the miracle of life on earth, as if I had just been born.” Tolle says he doesn’t mind the fact that some sceptics don’t believe this story, though the sceptics might reply that he doesn’t have much choice: once you’ve told the world that you abide in a realm of infinite equanimity, you can’t very well start getting all snippy when people don’t take you at your word.

The books that grew out of his Belsize Park epiphany, The Power of Now and A New Earth, have made Tolle by some measures the most successful spiritual author of the modern age, with tens of millions of copies in circulation. (The Dalai Lama and the pope are presumably ahead of him, but their sales figures are tricky to quantify.) He owes his dominance of the mind/body/spirit sections of bookshops, in large part, to a mysterious cosmic force beyond all human understanding – specifically Oprah Winfrey, whose championing of his books, including a 10-week online seminar series, watched by 11 million people, has ensured their long-term tenure on bestseller lists on both sides of the Atlantic.

New age guru stereotype dictates that I should find Tolle bloated by wealth, surrounded by fawning acolytes, an egomaniac in robes and gold chains. But he is none of these things. At home in his pleasant-but-not-opulent top-floor flat in a leafy neighbourhood of Vancouver, he is quiet-spoken and somehow fragile, his elfin frame swallowed up by a brown leather armchair. He really does exude a palpable stillness, responding to questions with several seconds’ thought before speaking; his standard expression is an amiable smile. (During the online seminars with Winfrey, she frequently characterised him as a spiritual leader with the power to transform the consciousness of the planet. Tolle just smiled amiably.)

It is a central plank of Tolle’s teaching that the set of concepts that make up what each of us calls our “personality” is a false construct. This presents a technical difficulty with the whole notion of his being interviewed by a journalist: I want to discover what made Tolle into the person he is, whereas Tolle wants me to grasp that the question of who he is is, in a profound sense, irrelevant. “The person isn’t actually that important,” the 61-year-old says, in a voice tinged with the accent of his native Germany. “People love that kind of thing. They want to know more and more about the person.” He smiles at the absurdity of this. But he is willing, it would appear, to indulge me.

At the time of his spiritual transformation, Tolle had just completed a degree in languages and history at the University of London, graduating with a first, yet he was anything but happy. “I’d done well because I was motivated by fear of not being good enough, so I worked very hard,” he says. With no plans for his future, he grew more depressed until, as he puts it, “I couldn’t live with myself any longer.” The phrase is a cliche, but in The Power of Now, Tolle describes being stopped dead by its implications: “If I cannot live with myself, there must be two of me: the ‘I’ and the ‘self’ that ‘I’ cannot live with. Maybe, I thought, only one of them is real. I was so stunned by this realisation that my mind stopped. I was conscious, but there were no more thoughts.”

When thinking later resumed, as Tolle tells it, things were different: he no longer identified with the “voice in my head” that was doing the thinking. Instead, he could observe his thoughts, as if from a distance. He could see that they somehow weren’t real: that the real him was the consciousness watching the thoughts, not the thoughts themselves. “There was a wonderful sense of peace,” he recalls now. “Not a desensitised peace – you can experience that if you take enough drugs, or drink enough. But a peace that was joyful, and alive, and very alert.”

The intention of The Power of Now and A New Earth isn’t necessarily to trigger a similar sudden transformation in the reader, but to convey a view of human psychology that has deep roots in Buddhism, Hinduism and Sufi Islam. Most of us, Tolle argues, spend most of our lives with a constant “voice in our heads”, that judges and interprets reality, and determines our emotional reactions; if you doubt this, it’s probably because you’re so fully identified with the voice that you can’t see the wood for the trees. There are occasional pauses in the brain-chatter – when gasping in awe at beautiful scenery, doing intense physical exercise, or making love, say – but mostly, we’re lost in thought. We’re especially lost in thoughts of the past and the future. “Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now,” Tolle says, chuckling. “And that’s a revelation for some people: to realise that your life is only ever now.”

Tolle’s transformative experience, which happened in 1979, didn’t lead to instant global stardom: commercialising his insights was apparently the furthest thing from his mind. Instead, he embarked on a doctorate in Latin American literature at Cambridge. But it felt meaningless; he dropped out after a year. He spent the next two years in London, sleeping on friends’ sofas, and spending the days on park benches in Russell Square, or sheltering in the British Library. When money ran out, he took a temp job doing office admin for the Kennel Club. “Externally, one would have said ‘this person is completely lost’,” he says. “My mother was very upset, because in her view, I had thrown everything away. And from a logical point of view, that looked quite correct.” His father helped him pay for a flat, and he began to run small group teaching sessions in friends’ living-rooms. But there were many more years to come of what looked, from the outside, like drifting – including a long spell on the west coast of the United States, where he started to write The Power of Now. It was first published in 1997, with a print run of 3,000 copies. (It would be 10 years and one Oprah endorsement later before Paris Hilton would be spotted carrying a copy on her way to jail.)

There are certain contradictions involved in marketing a spiritual message like Tolle’s, however valuable the message itself may be. For example: you shouldn’t make “being more present in the moment” into a goal to achieve, Tolle argues; the whole point is just to be here now, not to lose yourself in the thought of becoming “enlightened” in the future. And yet it’s surely precisely that hope of future attainment that keeps millions of people buying each new Tolle product – not just his books and DVDs, but calendars, and other books consisting entirely of nicely presented quotations from his main two books. He seems only marginally bothered by this. “I do need to be careful,” he says. “I need some kind of organisation, some structure, so that the teaching can get out. But it must not become self-serving, so that the structure” – the organisation, and its profits – “become more important than the teachings.”

He never made a conscious decision to promote himself, he maintains, and it’s hard not to believe him: he isn’t surrounded by a loyal band of followers, and he seems to live, Vancouver penthouse flat notwithstanding, much as he ever did. “I go to the supermarket, I do my laundry, I do my tasks,” he says. “My external life only looks big when I do some event and a car comes to pick me up. But even then, I don’t think ‘I’m going to give a big talk tonight.’ I step into the car, and there is just that step. I look out of the window, there is just that moment.” Gurus who preach the transcendence of ego are prone to having some of the biggest egos around, but it’s a fate Tolle seems genuinely to have avoided.

Tolle’s quiet presence has a way of burning up people’s cynicism, mine included, and yet I still can’t quite believe that life inside his head is as constantly peaceful as he claims. Doesn’t he ever get irritated? “I can’t remember the last time it happened,” he says. “I think maybe the last time it happened …” Earlier today? Yesterday? “I think it was a few months ago,” he remembers, after a while. “I was walking, and there was a big dog, and the owner wasn’t controlling it and it was pestering a smaller dog. I felt a wave of irritation. But what happens is it doesn’t stick around, because it’s not perpetuated by thought activity. It only lasted moments.” And he smiles amiably again.

He lives in Vancouver with his partner of nine years, a Canadian woman named Kim Eng, who often teaches alongside him. (They have no children.) Do they ever have arguments, as in ordinary relationships? “I can’t remember what ordinary relationships are like,” he replies. “Occasionally there are differences of opinion. But we don’t fight. It’s like Obama says – you don’t need to be disagreeable when you disagree. That sounds lighthearted, but there’s a profound truth behind it, because it implies that you don’t need to be totally identified with your mental positions.”

Tolle grew up in circumstances that were decidedly less zen. He was born Ulrich Tolle, in a town near Dortmund, to a matter-of-fact mother and an eccentric, head-in-the-clouds father; they fought, then divorced, and his father left the country. At 13, he says, he abruptly refused to go to school – “I hated having to study things that were not compatible with my inner being” – and his exasperated mother eventually sent him to live with his father in Spain. “My father said: ‘Do you want to go to school here?’ I said, of course, ‘No.’ Then he said: ‘Well then, don’t. Do what you like. Read.'” Tolle credits his unconventional upbringing with broadening his mind. “Spain at that time was very different than Germany, almost medieval. So I didn’t get totally conditioned by one culture. If you live only in one culture for the first 20 years of your life, you become conditioned without knowing it. My conditioning got completely broken, so there was an opening to other world views.” (After his experiences at 29, he marked his transformation by adopting the first name Eckhart, after 13th-century German mystic Meister Eckhart.)

Books like Tolle’s, neither traditionally religious nor rationalist, are sitting targets for criticism from across the spectrum: when Winfrey began promoting him, Christian viewers of her show accused her of trying to start her own church; to hardcore rationalists, Tolle’s ideas are no better than the crystals-and-angels nonsense that clutters the new-age shelves. Both critiques miss the point. At its most basic, Tolle’s message – that we spend our lives largely absent from our lives, identified instead with our thoughts – isn’t even particularly mystical: a moment’s introspection demonstrates it to be obviously true.

Whether or not Tolle’s writing will help jolt you out of your reverie, on the other hand, is largely a matter of your personal taste in prose style. For many, it seems to work, and if they see him in public – despite the baseball cap disguise he wears – they tend to rush over to tell him. This can be awkward. “I’ve always enjoyed being in the background, sitting in a cafe, watching people,” he says. “But now, when I sit in a cafe, sometimes people watch me. It’s a challenge. But it’s usually people who want to say ‘your book transformed my life’, or something … so then I’m joyful. One moment before, I didn’t want them to recognise me, but when they do, I’m glad.”

He shrugs, and smiles once more, giving a highly convincing impression of a man who could lose his celebrity tomorrow and who wouldn’t really mind either way – who might just return, unruffled, to sitting on a bench in Russell Square, watching his thoughts and the world go by.

Tolle on using your mind
‘The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. To put it more accurately … you usually don’t use it at all. It uses you.’

On problems
‘Narrow your
life down to this moment. Your life situation may be full of problems – most life situations are – but find out if you have a problem at this moment. Do you have a problem now?’

On suffering
‘The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind.’

On life
‘Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome. Since the present moment is life itself, it is an insane way to live.’

On death
‘Death is a stripping away of all that is not you. The secret of life is to “die before you die” – and find that there is no death.’

Source: Eckhart Tolle

My Journey Through Time: A SPIRITUAL MEMOIR OF LIFE, DEATH, AND REBIRTH by Dena Merriam

My Journey Through Time is a spiritual memoir that sheds light on the workings of karma— the law of cause and effect that creates one’s present circumstances and relationships—as we see it unfold through Dena’s vivid memories of her previous births. We travel back in time as Dena learns of a life in early 20th century Russia, ranging from the overthrow of the Czar through Nazi Germany; then it’s back further to a life in early 19th century America in the Deep South, and before that to a time in Africa in the early 18th century. Her lives in the East—in Persia, Japan, and India—go back to the 15th-17th centuries. Wth each past life, we can see the way in which it has impacted her present life, how it has stemmed from the end of the previous birth, and how it will influence her next life.

Dena Merriam is the founder of an interfaith organization, the Global Peace Initiative of Women. A long-time disciplined meditator, Dena’s access to her past lives brings a clearer awareness and purpose to her present life, and also overcomes any fear of death. The memories are triggered when Dena meets a new person or visits a new place in her current life. The memories bring remembrances of past suffering, but also recollections of spiritual teachers and wise guidance. She has not used and does not advocate past-life regressions or hypnosis as a way to prompt memories to return. Dena has decided to share her story, despite being a very private person, in hopes that it can provide comfort and awaken the inner knowing of your own ongoing journey through time.

DENA MERRIAM is the founder of a women-led interfaith organization, the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW). In 2000, Dena Co-Chaired the Millennium World Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders, held at the United Nations General Assembly in New York for more than 1500 of the world’s religious leaders. Two issues emerged from that Summit: the lack of women’s voices and the lack of voices from the Dharma or Eastern traditions.

So in 2002 Dena convened a second summit, called the Global Peace Initiative of Women Religious and Spiritual Leaders, at the Palais des Nation, the U.N. in Geneva, Switzerland. That summit gave birth to the Global Peace Initiative of Women (GPIW). She is still the Convener of its programs. In its early years GPIW organized peace dialogues: in Israel, Palestine, and Jordan; during the Iraq war with Iraqis in collaboration with the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Institute of Peace; during the crisis in Darfur with Sudanese from all parts of the country; with Afghans, bringing a delegation to Dharamsala, India, to meet with Tibetan leadership, including His Holiness the Karmapa, to learn non-violent practices; and between spiritual leaders in Pakistan and India and with various sectors of civil society in Kashmir, India. Delving more deeply into the suppression of women, Dena organized a 2008 conference in India on the theme of the Divine Feminine. GPIW also began work on climate issues and ecological destruction. Dena has led delegations of spiritual leaders to the U.N. Climate Summits.

A GPIW program, the Contemplative Alliance, works in partnership with all those seeking to uplift, transform, and evolve the human community, while loving and caring for Earth’s vast intercommunity of life. Dena has a Master’s Degree in sacred literature from Columbia University, specializing in the Vedas and the Bhagavad Gita. She has served on the boards of the Interfaith Center of New York, AIM for Seva, Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association, and the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan. She is a former member of the board of Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions and the International Center for Religion and Diplomacy. Dena was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2014 for her global interfaith work.

Dena Merriam: “We Need an Evolution in Consciousness”

“A significant shift is needed,” says Dena Merriam, a founding member of the Contemplative Alliance, “and for that shift to take place we need a growth in consciousness.”

Merriam spoke with Lion’s Roar editor-in-chief Melvin McLeod about what contemplative practitioners can bring to political, social, and environmental discussions to transform their relationships with each other and the planet.

Christopher “Hareesh” Wallis – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Christopher Wallis, also known as Hareesh, is a scholar-practitioner with thirty years of experience, having been initiated into the practice of yogic meditation at sixteen, and fifteen years of formal education. His degrees include a B.A. in Religion and Classics from the University of Rochester, an M.A. in Sanskrit from U.C. Berkeley, an M.Phil. in Classical Indian Religions from Oxford, and a Ph.D. in Sanskrit from U.C. Berkeley.

His doctoral dissertation focused on the role of spiritual experience in the tradition of Tantric Shaivism. Additionally, he received traditional education at yoga āshrams in upstate New York and India, training in meditation, mantra-science, kīrtan, karma-yoga, and pedagogy. He currently teaches meditation, yoga darśana (practical philosophy), Tantrik philosophy, Sanskrit, mantra-science, and offers spiritual counseling. Hareesh is the Founder and Head Faculty of Tantrik Yoga NOW. His teachers, mentors, and gurus, in chronological order, include: Gurumayī Chidvilāsānandā (dīkṣā-guru), Paul Muller-Ortega (Śaiva Tantra and Classical Yoga); Alexis Sanderson (Śaiva and Śākta Tantra and Sanskrit); Marshall Rosenberg (Nonviolent Communication); Somadeva Vasudeva (Śaiva Tantra), Kolbjorn Martens (Tantrik Yoga); and Adyashanti (Meditation). Hareesh is the author of Tantra Illuminated: The Philosophy, History, and Practice of a Timeless Tradition and The Recognition Sutras: Illuminating a 1,000-Year-Old Spiritual Masterpiece. Website:

James O’Dea – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Published on Jul 1, 2018
James O’Dea is the award winning author of The Conscious Activist, Cultivating Peace, Soul Awakening Practice and other works.

James is a former President of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, Washington office director of Amnesty International, and CEO of the Seva Foundation.

He has taught peacebuilding to over a thousand students in 30 countries. He has also conducted frontline social healing dialogues around the world.

He is a founding member of The Evolutionary Leaders group and on the Advisory Board of The Peace Alliance, Kosmos Journal and the Laszlo New Paradigm Institute.

Pamela Eakins – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Dr. Pamela Eakins is a Sociologist and Visionary Cosmologist. She has taught at Stanford University, the University of Colorado and the California Institute of Integral Studies. She is the founder and director of Pacific Center. Her books include:

Tarot of the Spirit
Kabbalah and Tarot of the Spirit: Black and White Edition with Personal Stories and Readings
The Lightning Papers: 10 Powers of Evolution by Pamela Eakins (2012-05-14)
Visionary Cosmology: The New Paradigm
Mothers in Transition, A Study of the Changing Life Course
The American Way of Birth (Plume)
PASSAGES for a Spiritual Birth
Priestess: Woman As Sacred Celebrant
(and several others)

Science and Spiritual Practices: Reconnecting through direct experience – by Rupert Sheldrake (Author)

In this pioneering book Rupert Sheldrake shows how science helps validate seven practices on ù all religions are built, and which are part of our common human heritage:
* Meditation
* Gratitude
* Connecting with nature
* Relating to plants
* Rituals
* Singing and chanting
* Pilgrimage and holy places.

The effects of spiritual practices are now being investigated scientifically as never before, and many studies have shown that religious and spiritual practices generally make people happier and healthier. Rupert Sheldrake summarizes the latest scientific research on what happens when we take part in these practices, and suggests ways that readers can explore these fields for themselves.

For those who are religious, Science and Spiritual Practices will illuminate the evolutionary origins of their own traditions and give a new appreciation of their power. For the non-religious, this book will show how the core practices of spirituality are accessible to all, even if they do not subscribe to a religious belief system. This is a book for anyone who suspects that in the drive towards radical secularism, something valuable has been left behind. Rupert Sheldrake believes that by opening ourselves to the spiritual dimension we may find the strength to live more wholesome and fulfilling lives.

Dr Rupert Sheldrake is a biologist and author of more than eighty technical papers and ten books, including A New Science of Life. He was a Fellow of Clare College, Cambridge, where he was Director of Studies in cell biology, and was also a Research Fellow of the Royal Society. From 2005-2010 he was the Director of the Perrott-Warrick Project for research on unexplained human abilities, funded from Trinity College, Cambridge. He is currently a Fellow of the Institute of Noetic Sciences in California, and a Visiting Professor at the Graduate Institute in Connecticut. He is married, has two sons and lives in London. Follow Rupert on Twitter @RupertSheldrake. His web site is

The effects of spiritual practices are now being investigated scientifically as never before, and many studies have shown that religious and spiritual practices generally make people happier and healthier.

Rupert Sheldrake summarizes the latest scientific research on what happens when we take part in these practices, and suggests ways that readers can explore these fields for themselves. For those who are religious, Science and Spiritual Practices will illuminate the evolutionary origins of their own traditions and give a new appreciation of their power. For the non-religious, this book will show how the core practices of spirituality are accessible to all, even if they do not subscribe to a religious belief system.

This is a book for anyone who suspects that in the drive towards radical secularism, something valuable has been left behind. Rupert Sheldrake believes that by opening ourselves to the spiritual dimension we may find the strength to live more wholesome and fulfilling lives.

Awakened Relating: A Guide to Embodying Undivided Love in Intimate Relationships by Lynn Marie Lumiere MFT (Author)

Our natural state is to love and be loved. From deep within, we’re compelled to seek connection. Yet relationships remain a struggle—even for the most spiritually enlightened among us. Traumatic experiences, insecure attachment, and especially the false but commonly held belief that we are separate, both from each other and from the love we seek, can cause endless problems in relationships. As long as our connections are built on this untruth, lasting love and harmony in relationship will elude us. Awakened Relating can help.

Written by a licensed therapist and pioneer in bringing the most direct teachings of non-duality into the practice of psychotherapy, this book offers practical guidance for improving relationships through “awakened relating”—a more enlightened experience of falling in love, communication, conflict resolution, and sexuality. With examples, guidelines, and experiential inquiries for realizing your true nature, this book will dispel common myths and mistaken beliefs about intimacy and help you cultivate a loving relationship with yourself and others.

Including inspirational stories of people who practice awakened relating in their own lives, this book will show you how to identify, transform, and resolve the deep psychological issues that prevent you from having the harmonious, loving relationships you seek. Now is the time to realize the deep and ever-present love that exists within and all around you.

Lynn Marie Lumiere, MFT, is a seasoned psychotherapist with a focus on transforming issues at their source through dissolving the belief in separation that creates and sustains them. She is dedicated to awakening consciousness and meeting life’s challenges as doorways to greater freedom. Her work is sourced in over forty years of dedicated spiritual and psychological exploration, as well as almost thirty years of marriage and practicing psychotherapy. This experience led her to the understanding that no matter what the problem, transformation and freedom from suffering is possible when we tap into the infinite and ever-present source of Love. She has been especially interested in applying this understanding to healing relationships and trauma.

Lynn Marie has been involved in the exploration of non-dual wisdom and psychotherapy since it began in 1998. She is a repeat presenter at the annual Nondual Wisdom and Psychology Conference and the Science and Nonduality (SAND) Conference, and is a contributing author to The Sacred Mirror. Lynn Marie is also coauthor (with John Lumiere-Wins) of The Awakening West. Her primary spiritual teacher is Adyashanti, and she has studied with many other teachers from non-dual, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions. She lives in Grass Valley, CA.

For information about Lynn Marie and events she offers, please visit It is her intention to offer support for learning and experiencing awakened relating.

A Duet of One: Nonduality and Intimate Relating, Lynn Marie Lumiere

True intimacy is the One celebrating itself as two. There is nothing more intimate than directly knowing that we are one Being and consciously sharing that together. Although we all long for this intimate union, it cannot be found through relationship or sexuality that is based on a belief in separation and duality. In order to experience true love and intimacy we must come to know our nondual nature and begin to embody that in our relating. This presentation will explore how to embody nondual realization in intimate relationship in practical, real life ways, such as bringing nondual understanding into communication and conflict. The
root cause of all relational disharmony can be traced to the belief in duality, which leads us to seek love outside our self in others. Once the source of the problem is known and true love is awakened within us, it is possible to fully resolve relational issues related to our wounding and conditioning. When we bring the whole truth, absolute and relative, to our relating, relationship becomes a joyful meeting in our shared Being with a vast potential for further healing and awakening.

Lynn Marie Lumiere, MFT is a nondual psychotherapist with a focus on awakening consciousness and meeting life’s challenges as doorways to greater freedom. Lynn Marie has been one of the pioneers in the emerging field of Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy since the first conference in 1998, which she helped organize. She is a contributing author for the Sacred Mirror: Nondual Wisdom and Psychotherapy as well as Undivided: The Online Journal of Nonduality and Psychology. She is co-author of The Awakening West: Evidence of a Spreading Enlightenment and is the author of a new book, Undivided Love: A Guide to Awakened Relating

Being Aware of Being Aware – Rupert Spira

Everybody is aware, all seven billion of us. We are aware of thoughts, feelings, sensations, and perceptions. All people share the experience of being aware, but relatively few people are aware that they are aware. Most people’s lives consist of a flow of thoughts, images, ideas, feelings, sensations, sights, sounds, and so on. Very few people ask, ‘What is it that knows this flow of thoughts, feelings, and perceptions? With what am I aware of my experience?’

The knowing of our being—or rather, awareness’s knowing of its own being in us—is our primary, fundamental and most intimate experience. It is in this experience that the peace, happiness and love for which all people long reside. The happiness we have sought so long outside of ourselves, in situations, objects and relationships, turns out to be always present and available in the simple knowing of our own being as it truly is.

The knowing of our own being shines in each of us as the experience ‘I am’ or ‘I am aware’, or simply the knowledge ‘I’. This obvious, familiar and intimate experience has no objective qualities and is, therefore, overlooked or ignored by the majority of people. This overlooking of our own being is the ultimate cause of unhappiness. What is the nature of the experience of being aware or awareness itself? The exploration of this question is the subject matter of this book and the essence of the Direct Path to peace and happiness.

* * *

The Essence of Meditation Series presents meditations on the essential, non-dual understanding that lies at the heart of all the great religious and spiritual traditions, compiled from contemplations led by Rupert Spira at his meetings and retreats. This simple, contemplative approach, which encourages a clear seeing of one’s experience rather than any kind of effort or discipline, leads the reader to an experiential understanding of their own essential being and the peace and fulfillment that are inherent within it. Being Aware of Being Aware is the first and introductory volume in The Essence of Meditation Series.

About the Author
From an early age, Rupert Spira was deeply interested in the nature of reality. At the age of seventeen he learned to meditate, and began a twenty-year period of study and practice in the classical Advaita Vedanta tradition under the guidance of Dr. Francis Roles and Shantananda Saraswati, the Shankaracharya of the north of India. During this time, he immersed himself in the teachings of P. D. Ouspensky, Krishnamurti, Rumi, Ramana Maharshi, Nisargadatta, and Robert Adams, until he met his teacher, Francis Lucille, in 1997. Lucille introduced Spira to the Direct Path teachings of Atmananda Krishna Menon, the Tantric tradition of Kashmir Shaivism (which he had received from his teacher Jean Klein), and, more importantly, directly indicated to him the true nature of experience. Spira lives in the UK and holds regular meetings and retreats in Europe and the United States.

View Here

Awaken Interviews Dr. Steve Taylor – Natural Wakefulness And Experiences of Mysticism

Posted on April 14, 2018

Donna Quesada: You’ve written so extensively about the subject of awakening…what led you to this aspect of your work?

Dr. Steve Taylor: For me, personally, I think I was always a person that showed natural wakefulness…from the age of 16 or 17, I was aware of what I would now call “spiritual experiences.” But at the time, I didn’t understand them.

DONNA: So, you had a natural experience that wasn’t inspired by any kind of practice at all? You were a teenager?

STEVE: That’s right. I was 16. The thing that I really liked to do as a teenager, was wander around in nature…wander around the parks looking at the sky…looking at the trees. I’d just feel a sense of quietness and a sense of connection to nature…the natural scenery around me…feel a sense of wholeness and kind of like an elation, a kind of euphoria. But I didn’t understand it at the time. I used to write poetry to try and describe some of these experiences, but my background wasn’t a spiritual background. I didn’t have a religious background or a spiritual background. So, at the time, I didn’t understand these experiences. I tried to explain it to people and they thought I was crazy. So, after a while, I thought it was crazy as well. I thought there was something wrong with me. For a long time, I was confused and I couldn’t accept myself for a long time. It was only accidentally, when I was 21 or 22 years old, that I picked up a book about Mysticism. I was drawn to it in a book shop. And when I read the book about mysticism, I suddenly recognized my own experiences. I thought, wow, this is what’s happened to me. So, I suddenly had a framework or context to make sense of my experiences, which was very, very helpful.

DONNA: Did that lead to a more formal practice or a search for a teacher, perhaps?

STEVE: Yeah, because even though at that point, I finally understood myself…I finally accepted myself…there were still some difficulties…some challenges…the kind of life-style I was living. At that time, I was a musician. So, the kind of life-style I was living, wasn’t conducive to spirituality. Lots of late nights. Playing gigs. Lots of drinking and smoking and that kind of thing. It took me a few years to learn to meditate on a daily basis. So, by the end of my 20’s I was meditating on a daily basis. And I began to find a stability and I began to integrate my spirituality into my daily life. And I changed my life to fit my spirituality. I became a vegetarian, stopped smoking, stopped drinking, that kind of thing. So, it took me a while to find a stable base and meditation was definitely a part of it.

DONNA: So, it’s funny…you were a musician…and drinking and smoking and all of that. On the other hand, you were that third group…that has a natural, deep feeling about life. And the sense that there is something more…and the tendency to ask questions and to experience things on a deeper level. It reminds me of something my own teacher said—David and I have the same teacher—and he was talking about the hippies. And he was saying that people tend to think of them as sort of rebels and outcasts and all of that, but the reality is, they are actually closer to enlightenment than they are given credit for. The mainstream is off. The way we are doing things is somehow under the thumb of propaganda. And government can be oppressive and they are sensitive to all these things. They’re almost ahead of their time in their awareness of things that just don’t feel right. They want a new spirituality…they want a new way of living. They’re asking questions that the mainstream isn’t asking.

STEVE: I think that’s very true. I think the hippies were a very significant social movement. I wrote a book called The Fall, where I said that most of the human race’s problems in history have been due to our intensified sense of ego and sense of self. So, we have a sense of separateness to nature which leads us to exploit nature. We have a sense of separateness to our own bodies which leads to sexual repression…towards hostility to sexual desire. I think the hippies, to explain it in more detail…about 300 years ago, there was a social movement, a collective shift in consciousness which began in the 18th Century. The second half of the 18th Century. I call that the “Trans-Fall” movement. It’s when human beings began to move beyond separateness…beyond the super intense sense of ego. So, there was a new sense of compassion. A new sense of egalitarianism and democracy and so on. And that has continued since then and I think the hippie movement was a significant part of that. It was a time when men became more feminine. It was a time for new openness to the body and sexuality. And it was a time when people identified with indigenous cultures. It was a time when people felt a connection to nature and a desire to explore transcendent states of consciousness. So, in some ways, I think it was an expression of evolution, this evolutionary movement which I spoke about earlier. This movement beyond separateness and to a deeper state of consciousness.

DONNA: Seems like we are talking about oneness and unity. That is the common thread that runs through…I’ll go ahead and use the ‘E’ word. The enlightenment traditions of the world…whether we are coming from a Taoist platform or a Hindu platform, or a Buddhist platform…it seems like this thread of continuity has to do with overcoming our sense of separateness. And nature, from that point of view, can be a conduit to waking up because it can inspire the sense of awe…I’m a part of something bigger than me.

STEVE: Oh, definitely. Funny enough, in my research as a psychologist I’ve done quite a bit of research on awakening experiences which are temporary experiences of transcendence. They usually fade away after a few minutes or a few hours. They are just a temporary glimpse of wakefulness. And nature is one of the biggest triggers of awakening experiences. So often when people are swimming in the ocean, or swimming in a lake, or walking in the mountains…or even, just lying in the park on a sunny day…that’s when awakening experiences often occur, due to the effect of contact with nature. I think nature has a quality of stillness. It enables us to calm down. Our minds begin to slow down. Our minds empty and some space opens up inside us. A bit of space opens up between our thoughts, and we somehow get in touch with deeper levels of our own being. We transcend separateness.

DONNA: Do you think art can do that, as well? When you were just describing that, at this moment, I was thinking about the word sublime. You know the German philosopher, Kant, talked about the sublime…when we are confronted with something that words cannot describe. And I feel like that experience in nature is not unlike the experience we have with art. And also, like a spiritual experience.

STEVE: Yeah. In fact, that was another significant trigger of Awakening experiences. Witnessing a crazy performance…a lot of people talked about going to the theatre to see a dance performance…listening to music…and they would experience this more expansive state of consciousness. Yes, I think in the same way, art can give way to transcendence. It can open up our minds. It can open up space inside us. And it can remind us, or connect us to a higher reality.

DONNA: So, when I was preparing for this interview, I was reading some of your work where you talk about dogs. As an animal lover myself, I want to switch gears just a little bit and take advantage of your time and ask you about that…because having two dogs myself, I was relating very much to the stories you were telling. You were talking about empathy. And how we are not the only ones with this quality of empathy. When we can almost predict what the other will do or sense what the other is thinking. You were saying how dogs know when their owners are coming home…and that they did some tests…and the dogs would go to the window as soon as the owner was on their way home…and they repeated the tests and they were able to demonstrate that the dogs did have an overwhelming sensitivity and connection to their owners. So, this makes me wonder if humans are the only ones. And I don’t think we are…that have this quality of connection that we have been talking about. Would you be able to comment on that?

STEVE: Well, I think in some sense, all living beings are inter-connected. We share the same fundamental consciousness. You know, that’s what compassion is. If I feel compassionate towards someone’s suffering, I am sensing their own inner being. I am sharing…that’s what empathy is. When we perform acts of kindness…that’s triggered by our shared sense of being. And that works on kind of a psychic level, too. If I think about a person and they call me in the next second. Or, if I have a dream and I meet that person in my dream the next day…that works through the inter-connectedness between us. We share the same collective mind. That enables us to be telepathic.

The problem with human beings is because of our egos. These strong and separate sense of egos. We kind of isolate ourselves from the ocean of being. We become like separate islands within the ocean and we sometime lose the ability to empathize with one another and the ability to sense other people’s suffering…and people’s intentions or thoughts. But animals…because they don’t have the sense of ego that we have, they’re actually more connected to us and to each other, which is why it has been shown many times, that dogs have this psychic connection with their owners.

DONNA: Yes, Well, I’ve experienced it. And so, I took an interest in that. It’s not only sensing when their owners are coming home…although, how could we know that?…we are not home to watch their behavior. But certainly, being in car rides you can tell that when we turn in certain directions that are different than the usual route, they sense something different has happened. They are somehow in tune in a different way than we are.

STEVE: Yes, I think so. They share this unity of being which we have sometimes, but we often lose it because of our ego centeredness. And cats, I have a cat and a couple of years ago my wife’s father died and when my mother in law…my wife’s mother came to stay with us…the cat…it was so obvious that she was responding to my mother in law’s grief. She would sit near her. She was comforting her. I think it happens a lot that cats have this, and probably dogs too, of this sense of when people are in need. People need comfort when they are bereaved or depressed. They sense it and offer their comfort.

DONNA: Interesting. Yes. Speaking of bereavement and things of this nature, do you think there is such a thing as the dark night of the soul? Is suffering necessary for the process of awakening?

STEVE: It can be, yeah. I’ve found in my research and in my own experience, too, that when spiritual awakenings happen suddenly and dramatically…it’s often preceded by intense suffering. I’ve done research with a lot of people who were diagnosed with cancer and told that they only had a few months or maybe a year to live. I’ve done research with people that were severely disabled…people who were addicts, who lost everything do to addiction…many people who were bereaved…and it definitely seems that the intense loss and suffering they went through was the trigger of their spiritual awakening. What seems to happen is the normal ego breaks down in the face of so much suffering. Just like a building in an earthquake. It just collapses. But when the normal ego collapses in some people, there seems to be a kind of latent higher self that is waiting to be born…and that new self-arises inside of them and becomes their normal self.

DONNA: Almost like we are supposed to awaken but we live in a state of distraction or darkness or overcome by life’s day to day necessities. And it takes some strong event to shake us out of that. Out of the normal life’s pattern, so to speak.

STEVE: Yeah, exactly, yeah. It’s a bit like on a communal level, you can have a group of people that live in a town…they all live in their different houses and they don’t really interact. Sometime it takes a crisis…if there is a crisis in a community…like, maybe a fire, an earthquake, maybe just a burglary, a spate of burglaries in the town. It brings people together, it shifts the community to a higher level. People begin to interact. They communicate a lot more. They act altruistically towards each other. The whole community somehow deepens and becomes more connected.

DONNA: Yes, yes. I’ll draw on your background in psychology a little bit more on this because I find it so fascinating. This observation that even when people do have an awakening experience or are pursuing an awakened life in formal practice or on their own…it still doesn’t equate with sanity. For example, being in a human body and living a human life is somehow challenging. And I’ve often seen that just because people have a spiritual life or are living a spiritual lifestyle, they still fall prey to life’s challenges. They still suffer from the depression or anxiety that they always did suffer from and it doesn’t just magically disappear the way we would expect. Oh, this person is awakened or this person is a spiritual teacher…everything is perfect for this person…they’ve got it all figured out. But not necessarily.

Continued in Part II…
Source: AWAKEN

 How Rupert Spira Moved Towards Enlightenment – A Spiritual Awakening Process

In an interview with conscioustv nonduality teacher Rupert Spira explains what steps he took in order to realize his true nature / enlightenment. His realization was that there is absolutely nothing that he can do; already and all the time he is/was consciousness or awareness that is looking at itself.

Rupert Spira shares his views and experiences related to
Non-duality, Ceramics, Meditation, Advaita, Vedanta, Consciousness and Awareness.

‘The discovery that peace, happiness and love are ever-present within our own Being, and completely available at every moment of experience, under all conditions, is the most important discovery that anyone can make.’

‘To believe that I, Awareness, share the limits and the destiny of the mind and body is like believing that the screen shares the limits and destiny of a character in a movie.’

Rupert Spira’s Homepage:

Terry Patten – Buddha at the Gas Pump Interview

Terry Patten is a philosopher, teacher, activist, consultant, social entrepreneur, and author. Over the last fifteen years he has devoted his efforts to the evolution of consciousness by facing, examining, and healing our global crisis through the marriage of spirit and activism. 

He co-wrote the book “Integral Life Practice” with Ken Wilber and a core team at the Integral Institute. As a teacher and consultant, he has worked on four continents, led a team at the HeartMath Institute that developed their first heart rate variability monitor, and is the founder of the “Beyond Awakening” teleseminar series. 

As a community builder, he founded Bay Area Integral. As a social entrepreneur, he founded Tools For Exploration, a consciousness technologies company, and currently, he’s involved in restorative redwood forestry and fossil-fuel alternatives. His new book “ATerry Patten is a philosopher, teacher, activist, consultant, social entrepreneur, and author. Over the last fifteen years he has devoted his efforts to the evolution of consciousness by facing, examining, and healing our global crisis through the marriage of spirit and activism. He co-wrote the book “Integral Life Practice” with Ken Wilber and a core team at the Integral Institute. As a teacher and consultant, he has worked on four continents, led a team at the HeartMath Institute that developed their first heart rate variability monitor, and is the founder of the “Beyond Awakening” teleseminar series. As a community builder, he founded Bay Area Integral. As a social entrepreneur, he founded Tools For Exploration, a consciousness technologies company, and currently, he’s involved in restorative redwood forestry and fossil-fuel alternatives. His new book “A New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries–A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change” was released by North Atlantic Books on March 6th, 2018. Terry is also co-author of Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening.


 New Republic of the Heart: An Ethos for Revolutionaries–A Guide to Inner Work for Holistic Change” was released by North Atlantic Books on March 6th, 2018. Terry is also co-author of Integral Life Practice: A 21st-Century Blueprint for Physical Health, Emotional Balance, Mental Clarity, and Spiritual Awakening.


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