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.

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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: http://hareesh.org

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 http://www.sheldrake.org

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 http://www.lynnmarielumiere.com. 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 http://www.undividedlovebook.com

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.

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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:

https://goo.gl/m0jpOk

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.

Website: https://www.terrypatten.com/

 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.

Website: https://www.terrypatten.com/

Effortless Living: Wu-Wei and the Spontaneous State of Natural Harmony by Jason Gregory (Author)

A guide for achieving an enlightened mind through the art of non-doing

• Details meditation practices, focused on stillness of the mind, along with Patanjali’s yoga methods to maintain a consciousness referred to as “being in the zone”

• Builds on Taoist, Confucian, and Hindu principles along with scientific findings to support wu-wei–the art of non-doing, non-forcing–as a way of life

• Explains how wu-wei practitioners cultivate intelligent spontaneity and effortless action to allow the natural harmony of the cosmos to prevail

The practice of non-doing, non-forcing is an essential aspect of Taoism known as wu-wei. Attributed to the great sage Lao-tzu, the philosophy of wu-wei teaches you how to develop a natural state of consciousness not bound by thought or preconceived limitations. Experienced by the greatest artists, athletes, musicians, and writers, this heightened state of consciousness, referred to as “being in the zone,” is where intelligent spontaneity and effortless action flourish via a practice rooted in permitting the natural harmony of the cosmos to prevail.

Merging Taoist philosophy, Hindu principles, and Confucianism along with scientific findings, Jason Gregory outlines the practice of wu-wei as a vehicle to realize our innate freedom, revealing that when we release our ego and allow life to unfold as it will, we align ourselves more closely with our goals and cultivate skill and mastery along the way. Equating “being in the zone” with a stillness of the mind, Gregory shares meditation practices coupled with yoga exercises from Patanjali that allow you to approach life with a mastery of acceptance, releasing deluded beliefs of how to achieve success that make your mind “sticky” and poised for conflict. The author shows how practicing wu-wei paradoxically empowers you to accomplish all that you desire by having no intention to do so, as well as allowing you to become receptive to nature’s blueprint for expressing beauty.

Revealing wisdom utilized by renowned sages, artists, and athletes who have adapted “being in the zone” as a way of life, the author shows that wu-wei can yield a renewed sense of trust in many aspects of your daily life, making each day more effortless. As an avid wu-wei practitioner, he provides keen insight on how you, too, can experience the beauty of achieving an enlightened, effortless mind while reveling in the process of life’s unfolding.


JASON GREGORY is an author, philosopher, and teacher specializing in Eastern and Western philosophy, comparative religion, psychology, cognitive science, metaphysics, and ancient cultures. He is the author of Fasting the Mind, Enlightenment Now, and The Science and Practice of Humility. For several years he has lived in Asia studying the classical spiritual traditions of the East.

Jason lived in India studying the Hindu schools of Vedanta and classical Yoga, and the Buddhist schools of Mahayana and Zen. While living in Nepal he studied Vajrayana and Tibetan Buddhism. He lived in South Korea studying Korean Buddhism, Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, and Taoism. In South East Asia Jason lived in Thailand studying Theravada Buddhism and its monastic Forest Tradition, while taking numerous research trips into the monasteries and temples of Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam. Jason has traveled extensively to over 15 countries.

His work is focused on the benefits of Eastern wisdom in the modern world and how it can transform our lives to live more optimally and peacefully. Jason travels worldwide lecturing about the East, its science of mind, and the methods and practices that define the East, and how its philosophy is a cure not only for the individual’s mind but also for the cultural, social, and religious problems in the world. Visit the author’s website at http://www.jasongregory.org

Flow and Wu-wei

In this episode of Enlightenment Today you will learn about what a state of flow truly is and its original ancestor known in Chinese as wu-wei from ancient China, which is a concept at the heart of Taoism and martial arts. Flow is a term we use for an athlete, musician, writer, craftsman, or any artist when they appear to be in the zone. But our understanding of flow and how to induce it is at a novice level. You can tell this by how the word is loosely thrown around in popular culture. Most of us incorrectly think that this dimension of effortless skill and peak performance is a state of mind isolated to world-class performers. You need to eliminate this way of thinking and really absorb the information I am about to give you. This episode will give you the inside dope.

Sadhguru in China | Zhang Defen with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev- Exclusive Interview [Part 1 & 2]

Published on Jan 20, 2018

Sadhguru in China | Zhang Defen with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev- Exclusive Interview [Part 1/2]

“About Sadhguru:
Yogi, mystic and visionary, Sadhguru is a spiritual master with a difference. An arresting blend of profundity and pragmatism, his life and work serve as a reminder that yoga is a contemporary science, vitally relevant to our times. ”

Sadhguru in China | Zhang Defen with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev- Exclusive Interview [Part 2/2]

Sadhguru in China | Zhang Defen with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev- Exclusive Interview [Part 2/2]

Interview with Marianne Williamson About A Course In Miracles

by Gabby Bernstein: When I was at a difficult turning point in my life, I was guided to my divine teacher, Marianne Williamson…
In this interview Marianne shares about her experience with A Course in Miracles and offers up advice to people who are new to the text. Enjoy my conversation with Marianne Williamson.

GB: What was going on in your life when you found ACIM?

MW: I wasn’t the happiest person, that’s for sure. Kind of muddling through my 20’s at the time. When I first saw the book, the language was way too intense for me. But when it appeared in my life a year later, I was drawn to it like to some mysterious force. Which it is, of course!

GB: For the reader who is new to ACIM, please help them understand the difference between what is real and what is an illusion.

MW: You know how sometimes you have a fight with someone and then when it’s finally over, one of you says, “I love you” and the other one says, “I love you too” and maybe you hug and feel all emotional…? That’s what it means. It means we have to go through all the he-said, she-said, you-said, I-said, all the craziness and arguing and triggering each other just to get to the point at the very end where there’s only forgiveness and understanding and you say “I love you” and they say “I love you” too.

The love is what’s left at the end because it’s the bedrock, fundamental reality that gets hidden all the time, but never really goes away. What happened before that was just mutual projection and hurt and anger and blame, but in the end it wasn’t real. It felt real, but it was just energy…issues…illusion, really.

Love is who we are, and when we deviate from that love we’re deviating from our ultimate, essential, eternal reality. Only God’s Thoughts — or love — is actually real. So when we separate ourselves from that love, we’re actually not thinking at all: we’re hallucinating. And that’s what illusion is. Feels real, even more real than love does sometimes. But the love is who we really are.

GB: What’s your process of surrendering your fears to the Holy Spirit?

MW: Pretty simple. “Dear God, I feel this or that fear, this or that anxiety, this or that anger, this or that judgment, this or that neediness, this or that whatever. Please take it from me. Amen.”

GB: Is there a workbook exercise that you love the most?

MW: Into His presence would I enter now. Though Creation’s gentleness is all I see runs a close second.

GB: What is your favorite prayer from ACIM?

MW: Where would You have me go? What would You have me do? What would You have me say, and to whom?

GB: Right on. That’s my favorite too!

GB: How do you work miracles?

MW: By changing your mind, using it differently. Recognizing where you’re thinking thoughts of fear, and replace them with thoughts of love. Simple actually, though God knows not always easy. What’s hard is getting over our resistance to doing it.

GB: How can we best apply the principles of ACIM in our daily lives?

MW:
By starting each morning doing the workbook. My mother taught me that if you make chile with too much cayenne pepper, all you have to do is put a raw potato in it and that will suck up all the excess hot pepper. That’s how I feel about my workbook lesson each day: it helps to suck up my excess neurotic thinking.

GB: Tell us about your forthcoming course on A Return to Love.

MW: My book A RETURN TO LOVE is like “The Cliff Notes” of A COURSE IN MIRACLES. It takes the basic ideas of the Course and breaks them down into “Principles” and “Practice.” Here’s the idea, then here’s the practical application. Here’s the idea, then here’s the practice.

It was mind-blowing for me reading the Course in the 1970’s. And it’s mind-blowing for me reading it today. When you really allow yourself to think about the ideas, and even try just a little bit to apply them in your lives, then nothing is ever really the same again. It really is a miracle. It really is.

I’ll be doing a video each week for six weeks that will present a spiritual curriculum on shifting our perceptions from fear to love. There will be six live question and answer sessions during which I’ll respond to questions posed by people taking the seminar. And we’ll have a private online community where students will be able to share their experiences with others taking the course – and I’ll play an active role here too. All videos and Q & A calls will remain available on our private course page enabling participants to review the material as often as they’d like. I think it will be fun for all of us. You can check out the details here.

Source: Gabby Bernstein

The Ego, the Now, Evolution and Madness: An Interview with Eckhart Tolle ~ Ray Hemachandra

With Eckhart Tolle in Vancouver, British Columbia

I already respected and had personally benefited from Eckart Tolle’s teachings when my friend Jess and I sat down with Eckhart at his publisher’s home in Vancouver, British Columbia.

I have interviewed a pretty fair number of impressive spiritual teachers over many years. Nonetheless, I remember being truly affected by Eckhart’s very presence. Because that’s just what it was: presence. His presence was as much a teaching as the words.

What I have to offer you are just the words, I’m afraid. But I assure you: they’re good, too.

Here’s an excerpt from that Vancouver interview. Learn more about Eckhart, his best-selling books The Power of Now and A New Earth, and his teachings at http://www.eckharttolle.com.

Ray Hemachandra: Eckhart, why is stress so common? And what are the consequences of people living stress-based lives?

Eckhart Tolle: The whole world accepts that being stressed is the normal way to live. In fact, people think you have to be stressed to be successful. They think if you are not stressed, something is wrong with you.

But any action that arises out of stress is of low quality, and it contributes to human suffering. You are making yourself and others suffer.

Stress is a form of suffering. Look at your body and see what stress does to the body and its functions — what it does to the heart, the circulation, the immune system, the digestive function, the liver. Stress is extremely harmful to the body. Even mainstream medicine now is recognizing how many diseases stress causes.

Stress is a form of suffering, but it is accepted as normal. And it is normal in our world.

But it is not natural.

Ray: When people realize they are stressed, what is the best response?

Eckhart Tolle: First, you can be very much aware that when you are stressed, it always is a sign you have lost the present moment. So, you can choose to re-enter the present moment.

Even in a moment of stress, you can say, “OK, can I enjoy the doing itself? Can I enjoy the flow of energy of this moment?”

And of course you can.

Then the future recedes. It becomes peripheral. You know it’s there. You need to get there, yes. But you can enjoy the present moment, and you can be aligned with the doing.

A different state of consciousness, then, is the foundation for what you do. Presence flows into what you do. Even though what you do may be the same, there is a fundamental difference: The energy that flows into what you do, although it may be high energy, is very peaceful energy. It is not out of alignment with life.

So, that is for people to learn: You can be effective in this world without stress. It is not necessary to do things in a state of anxiety or anguish. That is not the way to be aligned with life.

Ray: How do you begin to align yourself?

Eckhart: Work to recognize the primary importance of the present moment. A good little pointer toward that is to ask yourself, “What is my relationship with the present moment? How am I relating to it?” These are temporary questions, because the deepest truth is you and the present moment are one at the deepest level.

But intermediate questions are, “What is my relationship to the present moment? Am I treating it only as a means toward an end, or is the present moment an end in itself? Is the doing an end in itself? Am I enjoying what I am doing at this moment?”

These are important questions that can bring you back to realizing the now is all you ever have. There never is anything else. So, you might as well make the now your friend. Otherwise, you are out of alignment with life itself.

When you live as a friend of the now, many changes come into your life. When you are not making the present moment into a means to an end, you also are not making every human being you meet — in your business and even at home, in your family — into a means to an end.

When you always want the next thing, every human being becomes a means to an end. Even when people deal with their children: “Have you done this? Come on, do this, you must get this done.” If you go into some households, their whole lives consist of, “What’s the next thing we have to do? Come on, let’s go.”

That is not the way to live.

Ray: So, living in the now improves the quality of all human relationships.

Eckhart: Yes, of course. For example, if you are a businessperson, you meet customers in your business. Are they means to an end? If the present only is a means to an end, the people you are meeting also become part of that, because you want something from them. You want the business. You want the information they are going to give you. You want their money. Whatever you want, they become means to an end.

That reduces the quality of human interactions tremendously. Human interactions become egoic, because the other people also then make you into a means to an end.

When you meet another human being while living in the present moment, then the primary event is as the book A Course in Miracles describes: Whenever you meet anybody, it is a holy encounter. The primary event is the energy field of presence between you and the other human being that arises. You enjoy it. There is deep joy in the meeting.

Then, whatever you want to achieve is secondary: the business, the exchange of information, whatever it may be. Yes, you do that also, but there is a deeper foundation — meeting that human being in a state of shared presence.

Even if the other person is not present, it doesn’t matter. You can’t say, “Wait! For him, I only am a means to an end, so what do I do?” It doesn’t matter. You honor that moment — the only moment there is.

If you honor that moment, you also honor that human being, because it is in that moment the human being appears in front of you. So, honoring the moment is honoring every human being you meet. The only place where you can meet them is in the moment.

And that brings a totally different quality into human interactions. You enjoy the present moment. You enjoy the other person’s presence. The other person’s presence ultimately is the same as your presence, because it is in presence that there is true meeting.

Whatever happens is secondary. In the example of a businessperson, if you get the business, fine. If you do not get the business, that’s fine, too. It seems to me those people who already live like that, because some do, are actually very much more successful than those for whom every person they meet is a means to an end.

Ray: Would you give an example of such a person in the business world from your own experience?

Eckhart: When I bought a car some years ago, the salesman totally was in a place of joy. I could see he didn’t care whether I bought the car or not. He was enjoying showing me the car and taking me for a test drive. And it was for me to finally say to him, “Yes, I’m taking your car.” But I know very well if I had said, “I don’t think I’ll take it,” he would have remained just the same. And, perhaps, three years from now if I buy another car, I will go back to him and buy.

Let’s say you also are going to buy a car. If the salesman sees you as a means to an end, then if you don’t buy his car after he talks to you for an hour, shows you cars, and goes for test drives, he is going to be upset. So all he ever wanted from you was for you to pay your money and buy that car. He was not interested in you as a human being. He was not interested in the present moment. He was interested in the future moment.

Even if they don’t know it consciously, people can feel when you are making them into a means to an end only. And people are much less likely to do what you want them to do — for example, to buy the car — when they feel you are reducing them into a means to an end.

Everything flows with much greater ease when people live as one with the present moment. Then you are one with every human being you meet, and that’s the only way the world really can change.

Ray: What are the global implications for such a shift?

Eckhart: The world is in such a mess because of the continuous conflict that arises between human beings — not only between individuals but between tribes and nations and this group and that group and so on. But change can come in only when people start with themselves.

Nations consist of individuals. It is for every individual to bring in a different quality — the quality of awakened consciousness — into their lives.

Then, everything will change. When enough humans do that, the relationships between nations will change. The whole madness we still experience, which is the old consciousness, will come to an end.

Ray: That brings me to two questions — one on the collective level and one on the individual level — that seem to tie together now.

You have written that human beings had to develop a state of insanity, or madness, as a collective to then be able, evolutionarily, to transform and awaken. That parallels what seems to happen on the individual level, doesn’t it? As a child, a person builds up an egoic sense — the child has a name, has an “I,” has a mind. But then, to awaken, a person needs to completely transcend that sense of ego.

Why was it necessary for humanity to go through insanity to get to the point now of potential awakening, and then, on an individual level, do all people really have to build up an ego just to tear it down upon awakening?

Eckhart: On an individual level, you can see how the ego develops even in a small child. For example, when one child says to another, “I can do this, I bet you can’t”; “My dad has a bigger car than yours”; or, “My dad is stronger than yours.” Children identify with this or that, trying to build up a sense of self — a mentally defined sense of self.

So far for humans it has been the case that ego develops and then humans are stuck with it for the rest of their lives. On the new Earth, as the awakened consciousness comes in, I would say the ego would develop in children and quickly become outgrown when they reach adulthood. So, the egoic stage will be much more short-lived, and it will be associated with growing up.

When humans reach their early 20s or mid 20s, they quickly will go beyond ego. Ego is an immature stage of development for humans, and that’s what it will be recognized as when the consciousness changes on the planet. Children will develop an ego and quickly outgrow it. That’s very different from developing an ego and being stuck with it for the rest of your life.

Ray: And collectively?

Eckhart: On the collective level, was what has happened necessary? Yes, because it happened. It happened, so it was part of the larger totality of what is.

Humanity, it seems, had to go through that developmental stage. You can say it is an immature stage. Like in an individual with a mentally defined sense of self that identifies with this or that, it is not knowing who you are.

Humanity had to go through it. It started with the arising of the ability to think, which I believe is described in the beginning of the Bible as the fall. It is the telling of good and evil.

Suddenly, you can differentiate mentally, “This is good, and this is bad.” Humans eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and bad. Suddenly, they start cutting reality up into bits and pieces, which is what the thinking mind does.

At first, it wasn’t a problem. In fact, it was an enormous step forward in the evolution of humanity. Although they were not physically stronger than many animals, quickly through thinking — which became their most powerful weapon — humans were able to outwit animals.

Then, thinking grew and grew. For a long time humans probably were in touch on a deeper level with the depths of their being, unconsciously so, the same way an animal or a tree is. Gradually, though, more and more of their identity went into the movement of thought. They identified more and more with the movement of thinking.

So, they got cut off from the depths of their being. Their identity moved into the head. They were defined mentally, and then they became egoic entities — me — scoped more and more separate, because the thinking man cuts reality into, “This is me, this is the other, this is us, this is them.” He cuts everything. So, the egoic entity arose.

Then, after thousands of years, they were trapped in the mind. So, their greatest weapon had become their greatest trap. It’s an old mythological motif: The thing that gives you power also traps you.

Ray: Why is now the time for humanity to escape the trap?

Eckhart: We are in the final stages of egoic madness. Almost the whole world is fighting each other. We witnessed the final stages of egoic madness in the 20th century, and even now it still is playing itself out. It has not quite come to an end yet. Humanity had to go through egoic madness, it seems, and then outgrow it.

Although that still is the predominant energy on the planet, there are now many — more and more — humans who are outgrowing that stage of development. Humanity is reaching the end of the evolutionary stage of ego. The closer we get to the end, the more dysfunctional humanity becomes.

I sometimes give the example of a caterpillar metamorphosing into a butterfly. For a while, the caterpillar’s life works quite well. And then, suddenly, something goes wrong with the caterpillar. It cannot move very well anymore. It becomes more and more dysfunctional as a caterpillar just before the metamorphosis into a butterfly happens.

That is what is happening to humans now. We had to go through an evolutionary stage. We are getting very close to the end of that stage. In fact, for many humans the end already has come. And, so, the dysfunction becomes more apparent.

Ray: Do you see the awakening happening equally around the globe, or does it vary globally?

Eckhart: It varies enormously. Some groups and individuals still are immersed totally in the egoic consciousness. Others already are free or in the process of stepping out of ego. The arising of the new consciousness already has started for many people. They are not yet recognizable as groups, but they are here and there.

I come into contact with people like that all the time because of the work I do. So, I sometimes get a distorted view of how quickly humans are evolving, because I meet many people who are evolving beyond ego. Then I have to switch on the TV to realize, “Oh, no, it is not happening to everybody yet.” But it is happening.

I cannot make predictions. There are many things that are still uncertain and that probably nobody knows, because so many factors determine what form the transformation of consciousness on our planet takes.

For example, there is the possibility of very major upheavals — geographic, climatic upheavals. There are some indications this is happening already. They are part of the upheaval that is happening inside human beings: the shift of one state of consciousness — the breakdown of one state of consciousness — and the arising of a new state of consciousness. It is an enormous evolutionary event.

It seems we are witnessing more and more catastrophic natural events on the planet: hurricanes, earthquakes, tidal waves, and so on. To me, inner and outer are so strongly linked that any collective change that happens within human beings, within the human psyche, inevitably will be reflected externally in what happens on the whole planet.

So, the upheavals are reflecting the inner upheavals and the breaking down of the old egoic consciousness, which also manifests as increasing madness in what the egoically possessed humans do. There are governments and nations that still are egoically possessed. What they do becomes more and more mad.

Terrorism is an example of that extreme madness. People blow themselves up just to kill others. Unconscious reaction to terrorism is equal madness.

Ray: In your book A New Earth, you write, “Evolve or die.” What makes this time in human history so fertile and foreboding?

Eckhart: With the egoic consciousness having become so dysfunctional, and now having at our disposal all these enormous technologies and scientific advances, if nothing changes the ego will use those things — as it already has been doing — and will amplify the technology that we now have. The scientific advances, to a large extent, will be used in the service of the ego, and they will become more and more destructive.

So, the egoic madness, or dysfunction, becomes enormously amplified by the science and technology we all have developed. We would destroy ourselves and the planet now if no change happens, because of the amplification of the egoic state through science and technology.

It first happened with the First World War of the 20th century. For the first time, humans had all these weapons that didn’t exist before. They had submarines. They had machine guns. They had poison gas. They had flamethrowers. Now, we have developed infinitely more sophisticated weapons of destruction, but that was the first time it happened. The destructiveness of that war was unimaginable. Ten million killed.

No one could actually remember why it all started. One person got assassinated by some madman in Yugoslavia or somewhere, and then 10 million humans killed each other. I don’t know whether to laugh or to weep. It’s tragic.

Already, in that war, we can see the destructiveness of the egoic consciousness with advanced technology. Humans were totally horrified: “What have we done?” But, of course, it continued. Soon, the next world war came with mass exterminations and so on.

That is why it has to change now. If we don’t change, if the egoic consciousness continues, I don’t believe that humanity as a species can survive, or at least human civilization can survive, for another hundred years.

It is quite possible even that the planet would no longer be able to sustain human life. Probably, the planet eventually would regenerate and produce some other life form. Consciousness would flow into some other life form and express itself through that, whatever that would be.

So, in the end, it’s all fine, no matter what happens. But I believe from what I can see there is a good chance the shift will happen in humanity before it is too late.

Ray: You are a German and lived your first formative 13 or so years in Germany. Germany, of course, perpetrated one of history’s most terrible acts of egoic madness: the Holocaust. How has that impacted the evolution of the German nation and people?

Eckhart: Germany is a nation that created an enormous amount of suffering on the planet. The German people also themselves have suffered, because it always goes together. The more suffering you create, the more suffering comes to you.

Perhaps they are evolving quickly now because of it. In Germany, there was complete identification with the collective — the nation and so on — and now all that has gone away completely. Since the Second World War, the German people have disidentified from identification with their nation, because the nation was recognized as insane. It was so apparent.

So, Germans now have far less identification with their own nation than, for example, Americans have. Some disidentification with the collective, as I call it — us and them — started to appear slowly in the States during the Vietnam War, when millions of people suddenly saw, “This is insane.” Many people actually left. Huge numbers of young men who did not want to be part of the madness came to live in Canada.

In the 1950s, most Americans were very conformist. Then, in the ’60s, something happened: a disidentification. Now, we may have another stage: again, many people are seeing the madness of it clearly, and there is a further disidentification.

But the disidentification has been much more complete in Germany and probably Japan after the Second World War, because those countries were the places where the egoic madness came through most strongly.

The fact that they were highly cultured, highly evolved countries didn’t help, because the ego also was highly evolved. In both countries, the ego in every human being was very highly evolved, and that is one of the reasons why such acts of madness were perpetrated by those two countries, which in turn is why they disidentified from identification with the collective after the Second World War.

This is very fascinating! I could talk about this for hours. (Laughs.)

Ray: Eckhart, how can groups come to reflect enlightened consciousness without ego? By definition a group is brought together by a sense of identity and therefore by a shared egoic understanding and agreement.

Eckhart: Enlightened groups can exist, as long as the individuals’ sense of identity is not derived from a mentally defined image of us. Every individual is in touch with the deeper level of being, the aware consciousness. If these humans form groups, they do not derive their sense of self from the group, which does not mean there cannot be a sense of being part of this group. But the group itself does not become an egoic entity.

Otherwise, if the individuals who make up a group have personal egos, and their identities lie in these egos, then their egoic identities will shift to the group. It might look as if they are losing their personal egos, but the ego simply shifts to the group. This happens in sects, in political parties, in religions, and so on, if you derive your sense of self from them. Also, a group needs enemies, because without enemies its identity cannot continue to be defined.

But there can be other associations — enlightened businesses, for example — that do not work on the basis of us against them or wanting profit as the main motivating force behind what they do.

So, yes, there can be enlightened groups of people. They enjoy being together, and they form a kind of collective entity, but not an egoic collective entity. The group does not need enemies.

Consciousness very much can come through these groups. This happens sometimes when I do retreats. People come together — let’s say 200 or 300 people, 400 or 500 people — and they join me for a few days for a retreat. There is a temporary sense of a group, a sense of belonging. But these groups are not egoic entities. These are groups through which consciousness can come through. The group becomes almost like a vortex for the arising of the new consciousness, and it is very beautiful.

You do not need the group. You can join a group and then step out again if you have to. Even giving a talk for two hours to a small audience, there is a temporary energy field there that is the group. It’s not egoic, and it can be very helpful.

In fact, the collective energy field of presence can be very helpful when people come together. It can give you an enormous boost. The arising consciousness comes through very strongly. So, that is all to the good.

Ray: In A New Earth, you write that some religions may have generated originally from an awakened consciousness, and then the egoic part creeped in.

Eckhart: Yes, that can happen.

Ray: I wonder for individuals, then: When you awaken, does the ego always lie in the background, ready to creep back in unless you maintain your awareness? In your own life, Eckhart — in your personal partnership, business relationships, or daily interactions — does the ego sometimes rise up a bit?

Eckhart: The ego potentially always can be there, because it is no more than a collective mind pattern. I have seen cases where people seemed to become totally free of ego, and at some point in their lives the ego came back. It has happened, for example, to some spiritual teachers. At some point in their lives, they began to identify again with form.

Vigilance in oneself is very important. Vigilance means to be alert to what happens inside, so you can catch an old, collective habit pattern. For spiritual teachers, it is important not to identify with the image people inevitably have of them.

People always form images of who others are, and they can be inflated images. People may not realize that the enormous energy and spiritual power that comes through a teacher, especially in a teaching situation, has nothing to do with that person.

Ray: How do you explain that to someone convincingly?

Eckhart: I sometimes say to people, “I am a window frame — no more. The window frame is not that important. What is important is the light that comes through the window.

“Do not confuse the window frame for the light that comes through the window.”

If you confuse the two, you elevate the spiritual teacher into some special being. Form comes back here. You equate the light with the form of the teacher, the person of the teacher.

Then you project the image that has been created — and many do it together in a group — you project its specialness onto that human being. In some cases, people even believe that this or that human being is divine. And that implies, of course, that the others are not! Or, “He is the only one” — this is another good one — “He is the only one on the planet right now.” These are all indications that you have been led astray, because you equate the formless spirit with form.

That is the challenge of a spiritual teacher: not to take on board the projections of specialness people have. This is especially dangerous for spiritual teachers who only have contact with disciples or followers, who may live in an ashram. The teachers continuously are bombarded with projections of specialness. After a few years, they succumb. They buy into it. And the ego returns in that way.

Source: Ray Hemachandra

On Midlife, Body Blows, And Spiritual Understanding: A Marianne Williamson Interview

by Ray Hemachandra:

I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Marianne Williamson three times…. I have great respect for her, her work, and the enormous power and passion with which she expresses herself. This slightly extended interview excerpt is from the third of our interviews. I also invite you to read a second post on the topic of the political obligations of spiritual people. ~ Ray

Ray Hemachandra: How has your relationship to God, and perspective about God, changed and matured as you’ve entered midlife and faced midlife issues?

Marianne Williamson: I don’t think it’s changed, but the more mature we are, the more receptive we are. It’s like every year you go to the same Easter service, or every year you go to the same Passover seder. The story of Easter doesn’t change, and the story of the Passover doesn’t change, but you go year after year because you change.

If you allow yourself to deepen with midlife, your experience of everything deepens, including your experience of God.

The same truths that you understood and that affected you last year, you can receive at a deeper level this year because you’ve experienced more life. That’s how it has been for me: The religious stories, the religious truths, the spiritual principles — obviously, they don’t change. But as you get older and you experience more, you recognize the applicability, the profundity, and the fundamental truths of spiritual principles in ways that you couldn’t when you simply were living a less dimensional life.

Ray: Has it gotten any easier? Or do you still grapple with spiritual understandings?

Marianne: I don’t think of spiritual principle as a struggle. I think of life lived without spiritual principles as a struggle.

As you get older, life gets harder if you’re not applying spiritual truths. Also, as you get older, you have more and more layers of experience to forgive, more layers of heartbreak, more layers of what you might think of as failure. Once you get to your forties or fifties in this society, very few people haven’t had at least one body blow — financial, bankruptcy, divorce, relationship disaster, addiction, trouble with a child, trouble with a parent. Most people take some blow.

So, living in this world, under the dominance of the ego mind, is difficult. That’s the struggle.

But the point of life is not who falls down. The point is who gets up and how you do it. To me, that’s the important issue about spiritual principle: that you recognize it as both that which saves you from the self-sabotaging mind and that which heals you and lifts you up when you succumb to it and attract whatever personal disaster you attract.

Ray: You call midlife “the age of miracles.” Does realizing the miracles require conscious choice?

Marianne: A miracle is a shift in perception. If you allow your perceptions to be dominated by a status-quo perspective — you hold thought forms like: over the hill, too old, he or she won’t want me anymore, they won’t hire me anymore, I blew it and it’s too late for me now — these thought forms create a network of status-quo mental habit patterns.

The miracle is when you shift. The miracle is when you know there is no hill — you’re removing the hill. The miracle is when you realize the time of physical decline can be a time of spiritual incline. King Solomon said his youth was the time of his winter, and his more mature years were the time of his summer.

When you understand the law of divine compensation, you realize that in the presence of spiritual consciousness, there is more than enough compensation for any diminishment in materiality. So, the miracle is that you consciously change your thinking. You realize that, as it says in A Course in Miracles, if you identify more with your spirit than with your body, then you are living in a zone of eternal renewal — an infinite wellspring of new beginnings and breakthroughs that are limited by nothing, and certainly not by the fact that you are older than you used to be.

When you realize that the real breakthroughs come from levels of higher consciousness, then you also realize that the achievement of maturity and wisdom is the most powerful generator of new beginnings possible.

Ray: Are these realizations any different for the generation in midlife today from previous ones?

Marianne: I don’t know if they’re different. I’m not a member of a previous generation, so I can’t really say what it was for them. But I do think that every generation has its unique story.

Our story has to do, among other things, with the fact that we experienced a prolonged post-adolescence. For many reasons, we failed to get on with it the way our parents had.

We remained in certain zones of immaturity longer than we might have. So, we get to a certain age and look back, sometimes with shame and horror, at ways in which we did not live life as responsibly as we might have. That motivates us with a sense of urgency, in some ways, almost to make up for lost time: “I wasn’t responsible in the 1980s, so I want to be responsible now”; “I wasn’t mature in the ’70s or ’90s, so I want to be mature now.”

I think every soul longs to get it right before they die.

It’s a craving of the soul to feel that on some level you at least tried to do what you came here to do, because the soul has that sense of what it came here to do. As it says in the Jewish book of prayer, nobody wants to die feeling that they have not sung their song.

For the Baby Boomer generation — those of us raised in the ’60s — there was a special mark on our foreheads. We were the generation that was going to make things better. We were going to make things right. And, again, there’s a collective shame and horror, if we’re honest with ourselves, in facing the fact that under our watch — the watch of this generation that was so committed to making things right — things have gotten so much worse.

We were the generation that was going to replace guns with flowers. And, in the end, no generation before ours has ever replaced so many flowers with guns.

That realization increases our sense of urgency. The big revolving door is coming back around for us one last time in terms of major chapter. You get to a certain age, and you don’t have time for any more five-year detours — relationship aftermaths when you realize, “Oh, that was a five-year detour,” or times when you look back and think, “That decade was stupid.” We have no time for that now. That’s a good thing, in a way, because there’s the sense that this is it.

You’ve learned what your weaknesses are. You’ve learned what your strengths are. You’ve learned from your failures as well as your successes, and there’s the sense that, okay, if you’re ever going to be able to do it, it’s now.

Ray: Do you mourn those lost generational opportunities, Marianne? And do you have to leave behind the regrets to move on?

Marianne: I don’t think that anyone can age in a conscious way and not experience grief. You’re not to wallow, but if you don’t process your regrets, then they remain emotional underground toxins.

If you did something in 1975 that you deeply regret and that you now can recognize as having been profoundly irresponsible, for example, the only way to be lifted out of deep regret and the pain over it is through atonement — through the kind of remorse that leads to genuine atonement, the making of amends, and forgiveness of self and others.

You can’t remove that layer of pain by just saying, “Okay, I’m not going to wallow in it.” The only way to remove that layer of pain is to face what it says and to recognize it as the look in the mirror that it is, reflecting the things you did that you wish you hadn’t done and the things you didn’t do that you wish you had done.

What we really need to avoid is this epidemic of false positivism and false happiness, which says if it hurts, it must be bad. Sometimes it hurts because you have a conscience. You have healthy shame.

So, at a certain point, you can’t help but go back. You wake up one night, and you just can’t stop thinking about something that happened in 1989. There’s a reason for that. The monster comes out of the cave late at night, and the only way to slay the monster is to deal with him, and that will include forgiveness of self and others. It’s the internal work that’s absolutely necessary to guarantee the revitalization process.

It’s like laboring a child: It’s not easy. Laboring the new self, which is this gigantic force whereby you ultimately claim your real possibility for this lifetime — no, it’s never easy.

But the alternative is far more difficult, because it’s just a very slow cruise to death.

Source: Ray Hemachandra

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