Category: Video/Audio Interview

Donna Quesada: Well then, if you don’t mind, I’ll get right into it. I was so moved by what you were saying about resilience. So, in case our viewers haven’t seen your Ted Talk, I want to get right into it…I was so moved and you were saying how it all started with you looking at an old family portrait of relatives who must have known that they were destined for Auschwitz. And I’m sorry to switch gears in such an intense way, so quickly, but this kind of gets into an important aspect of your teaching. I would love if you would share more about that…and you noticed that they had very serious faces…and you were struck by this…and it made you wonder, How on Earth can they carry on, knowing what they must have known on some level? And so, this started a fascination with what you call resilience, in your own life. And I’m fascinated with that, too. I was wondering if you could give a little more background on that?

Joan Borysenko Ph.D: Well, first of all…the fact that it was a dozen members of my family that died in Auschwitz…I knew this intellectually, Donna. But there is a very big difference between knowing something intellectually and actually feeling it in your body…the actual emotional response to that. And I got that photo suddenly, from a relative I’d never even heard of. It just appears in my box. I took one look at it and what really got me is that it was my grandfather’s brother and his family. They hadn’t come to the United States, at that time. And They were the last of the family that was in Eastern Europe. The resemblance. The family resemblance from my grandfather…my grandfather’s brother…his children. It was so overwhelming that I just started to cry. And all of a sudden, it was as if I was there and I could feel my body…kind of the neurons…I could feel in my body the tremendous dread. And what I know as a scientist is that trauma from previous generations passes down for three or four generations. And I’d always wondered…to my psychologists, I always seemed like a trauma survivor. And I’d been working on patterns of low-resilience in myself for years. And even though I wasn’t in the direct lineage of my great uncle, my grandparents had left because of pogroms in Eastern Europe. It was so common for Jews, for example, to be rounded up, put in a barn and the whole thing set on fire.

And there was a history of that. It’s a history that gets handed down from generation to generation. And it’s not so much in the DNA itself because that doesn’t change. But whether your DNA, aspects of it, get silenced, or whether they remain active…what it tells us is that DNA does not estimate. We live in an enormous environment…our inner environment of thoughts and feelings, as well as the outer environment…our social interactions…the plants around us and how they speak…the quality of the light…the beauty. All of these things that we would have formerly said “Hey, that’s great poetry, Joan.” It’s more than poetry. It’s our biology. And there’s a whole new field called, Inter-Personal Neuro-Biology, which defines the mind as the way that information and energy flows across time. And it’s an emergent property of what is within us and what is outside us. Our mind is embodied within our nervous system and embedded within our environment. And we’re all in inter-relationship with each other. And as a scientist, I find the new Neuro-Science fascinating! Coupled with epi-genetics and we know because of this, a lot more about what it takes to be resilient. And you know, Donna, right now, we really need to be resilient. Because we are in the middle of a sea change.

Donna: So, this is fascinating and I’ll just restate it, to see if I understand correctly. For so long we have had this debate, which was big in the 50’s, which was nature vs nurture and the whole thing, but we’ve come to a subtler understanding where it’s not just the environment dancing with the genetic tendencies. It’s our internal landscape, as well. And depending on what is going on there, it turns on certain genetic tendencies, or they remain dormant. Would that be a correct way to say it?

Joan: You said it beautifully. Thank you so much, that was an excellent recap.

Donna: Well, it’s fascinating to me, too…we’re so in sync. I just want to tell you on a personal level, in terms of what you are talking about and my interests. I’ve been so interested in that somatic way of knowing…that our body talks to us. And you talk about that, too, so I’m going to be asking you about it. And I love that you have spoken about that in your talks…and helped us understand these deeper ways we know or that we understand how we ourselves feel. You know, we are so used to growing up with pros and cons lists…and that we can work things out rationally. But in fact, the deeper truths about the stuff that really matters doesn’t come that way. And I love that you speak of that.

But first, to sort of stay on point…this business of resilience. Is this too personal? You talk about your own struggle with OCD. I want to connect the dots here. So, you already had this idea that your ancestors had gone through extreme challenges. And then you, yourself, were put into a situation where you had to face that in your own life. Pretty much, a personal example of what they dealt with. You had your own…maybe it’s too dramatic to say “holocaust,” but for all of us that are going through a challenge, it feels that way. It feels traumatic and dire and life changing. And you had that happen where you had to put it to the test when they told you that you were going to go to a new school. And you realized, my reaction isn’t maybe what they expect…this isn’t a happy thing…this is a scary thing. And all of these fear mechanisms were coming up in you. Could you talk about that and how you discovered within yourself, ways of coping or ways of dealing with those challenges?

Joan: Well, yes. Because, you know, it’s interesting…going to a new school is a new challenge. But it’s not usually enough of a challenge that a child actually becomes psychotic. And I think there were several other extremes that came into this at that time. But the approximate cause of really developing a psychosis and developing OCD and managing that psychosis… And when my mother took me to see a scary movie…and that movie took place in the jungle with head hunters. There were snakes and scorpions and blow guns. Stuff that could be upsetting to a ten-year-old child. I started to dream about the movie at night. But then, I started to hallucinate it during the day.

And I developed the belief that only I could see the head hunters. So, I had to do something about them. Because they were going to break into the house and they were going to kill my whole family…which is terrifying beyond belief. Absolutely terrifying to feel like the life and death of all your loved ones rests upon your little ten-year-old shoulders. And in order to deal with that, I came to the belief…and this is now the OCD…that, if I did a stylized set of rituals, which sort of grew week by week in number and complexity…that if I did those rituals, the head hunters, who I could actually see…not quite manifest…I saw their energy forms. And if I did the rituals, their energy forms would disappear and there would be safety in the house for a little while, until they tried to get back in. And I had typical OCD types of rituals, like having to wash my hands, and counting like a hundred times. Or, picking up something to read and having to turn it upside down and repeat three times…the reading upside down. And this starts to take up your whole life. Your whole life is a ritual and it interferes with school. I saw psychiatrists and nobody could help.

This was a very long time ago. Sixty years ago, or more. And finally, I sat down one day…maybe six months into this…in a state of absolute hopelessness. And I said a prayer that had such body sense to it…such a felt sense. An absolute prayer of the broken heart. And it was like…”Help.” If there was anything out there…”Help.”

And what I had, Donna, was an experience of cosmic consciousness. And the fear completely dissipated and was replaced with a kind of peace that was just such peace. It was, to use a metaphor, like you were being held in the palm of God. That at all points, all was well. And I felt connected to something much larger than I was. Something that was absolutely loving. And I also connected deeply with my own inner intuition. And I do believe that there is a part of ourselves…whether you are a Buddhist, you’d call it true nature. It’s who we are. There’s a wonderful metaphor for that. That I learned from Steven Mitchell. It’s like a window pane into a larger reality, but usually the window pane is covered with dirt. You clean it and you realize, I was never separated…I was always part of this reality. So, whatever you call that, your true nature, your higher self…

I connected with that. And because that is connected with a larger energy, a larger wisdom than your personal base of knowledge…I started to know things as a ten-year-old, that ten-year olds don’t know. And what I knew most clearly, is that I could recover from this. And I also knew exactly how to go about it, which was pretty amazing. And I like to tell people, “if you have OCD, this will not apply to you.” It’s very specific to me. Because what happened was, in a flash, a poem came to my mind. And this is a poem that spirit gave to a ten-year-old. And I called it “The Light.” And here’s how it went:

Somewhere in the darkest night there always shines a little light.

This light up in the heavens shines to help our God watch over us.

When a small child is born, the light her souls adorn.

So, when our human eyes look up in the lightless sky, we must know.

We must know that this light burns far into the night.

To help watch over us.

Donna: That’s beautiful.

Joan: Isn’t it beautiful? It’s a gift of spirit. And what I knew intuitively is, I could never do a ritual again or I would get stuck there. But because that poem contained the essence of the connection that I was feeling…if I just said the poem when I got scared, I wouldn’t have to do any rituals. And so, of course, I wrote the poem down. It was already memorized. It was like emblazoned on my soul. And for the next three or four days, whenever I saw head hunters or woke in the night from a nightmare, or needed to do a ritual, I’d just say the poem. And, sure enough, at the end of three or four days, there were no more dreams, no more head hunters, no more need to do rituals. The whole thing had disappeared. And while as a scientist, I have a Ph.D in Cell Biology from Harvard Medical School…and as a licensed psychiatrist…

Donna: And here you are reconciling that with the miraculous.

Joan: Exactly! So, Science has no words for that. Science calls this “spontaneous remission.” But, if you ask anyone who has had a spontaneous remission from anything…physical or mental…they usually have a very interesting story to tell. And I think we learn a lot by listening to those stories. And so, at 10, I didn’t know any words like higher self. I didn’t know any of that. It was just an experience. And so, only as I got older, could I parse this out in any kind of language…because there is no good language for the soul. And yet, what happened at 10, Donna, was the seed for everything else that I do in this lifetime…my purpose. My fascination is with psychology, consciousness, neuro-science, the mind, the body and the spirit. That’s what I’ve always done, It’s my passion.

Donna: Would it be fair to say that at that moment, when you were a girl, praying to something higher than you had words for…that you didn’t even know who you were praying to? An Angel, God? A Saint?

Joan: Well, you know, I’d been to a Jewish girl’s camp and it was quite a wonderful camp. We used to sit in this pine grove on Friday night. And Saturday morning service…we would have our services out in nature. And for me, what’s lovely in Judaism, is that God is a mystery. If you’ve progressed from the esoterica kind of the religious, it’s not like God is even a male. In the pine grove, we welcomed the feminine aspect of god. And I already knew from there that God was a mystery. But I identified that mystery with coming so clearly in nature, I can still flash with being in that pine grove. I can feel it in my body. It was more a sense of being that is embodied in nature. And because there is a feminine aspect to it, too…they were sort of a comfort, knowing that as a feminist, and that aspect is there, too…of the divine mystery, of the divine mind. That creates all of manifest reality. We kind of all move…and being in the body of the benign feminine. For me, that was much more of a felt sense than anything else. So, I knew I was praying into the mystery…to God.

Donna: So, I want to appeal to the work you have done in the scientific realm. And also, this comes back to my interest that the body talks to us. I’ve read about athletes who send intentions into their bodies, and how the body responds the same, regardless of whether the event is taking place. You can visualize yourself going through the jumps and stuff…and this causes very real physical changes within your body. So, how do we trust these sensations? How do we know these sensations are real? Or, how do we know that we aren’t just producing some physiological effect? I guess that gets into discernment which you also talk about. So, I’m wondering if you could comment on that…

Joan: Well, I’d love to because in fact, my husband and I have had a lot of conversations about that. We tried to see what people who have dealt in this subject matter for a long time think about it. How do you know the world apart from your own ego and and its own wants and fears? That’s the question. We decided we would ask people from a variety of different traditions. We interviewed Jewish Mystics, Sufis, Christians…we interviewed the wonderful, wonderful, Catholic monk, Thomas Keating. And there were no female catholic priests, but there were episcopal. We interviewed 27 sages—we called them. Hindus, Buddhists, and what we came up with…we asked about 10 questions. And then we did an analysis of the themes that came out. How do you know? What’s knowing? What is discerning? And so, often people mentions a tale of thing. One of them was Karma Helminski, who was a Sufi teacher. He talked about the aspects of god; there are 99 aspects of God in Islam. 99 aspects of Allah. And he talked about the inner teacher. And the point is, to try to awaken us, Donna. And that tradition is responsible for the synchronicities…and when you are advancing a little bit in your discernment of what is actually real and what you are making up with your ego, one of the ways to discern…it starts to rain synchronicities.

Donna: Wow.

Joan: And I think we’ve all had that experience. You shake your head and you say “man, I couldn’t make this up myself.”



One night in 1997 Richard Schoeller thought he was dying because he found himself surrounded by both sets of deceased grandparents. They reassured him that it wasn’t his time to join them in the afterlife and that their visit was to help him understand that he could now “see them.” Who could ignore a visit like that? Richard had to learn more about what had just happened, so he began taking classes and researching the ability to communicate with those who have passed into spirit.

Richard is now an ordained Spiritualist minister, Certified Medium, Commissioned Spiritualist Healer.

Aside from being a member of the Lily Dale Assembly, he served on the Board of the National Spiritualist Association of Churches (NSAC) for six years, and he is currently the Vice President of the International Spiritualist Federation and a Director and Teacher with the Inner Spiritual Center in Wayne, New Jersey.

Richard has taught classes and demonstrated mediumship in England, Holland, Scotland, Austria, Switzerland and Germany as well as served a number of Spiritualist churches and centers throughout the United States.

It gives him great pleasure to be of service and to provide information to his clients that help them to come to and understanding that life and love continue after the change known as death.


From Spiritual Emergency to Healing and Rebirth

Increasing numbers of people involved in personal transformation are experiencing spiritual emergencies — crises when the process of growth and change becomes chaotic and overwhelming. Individuals experiencing such episodes may feel that their sense of identity is breaking down, that their old values no longer hold true, and that the very ground beneath their personal realities is radically shifting. In many cases, new realms of mystical and spiritual experience enter their lives suddenly and dramatically, resulting in fear and confusion. They may feel tremendous anxiety, have difficulty coping with their daily lives, jobs, and relationships, and may even fear for their own sanity.

Unfortunately, much of modern psychiatry has failed to distinguish these episodes from mental illness. As a result, transformational crises are often suppressed by routine psychiatric care, medication, and even institutionalization.

However, there is a new perspective developing among many mental health professionals and those studying spiritual development that views such crises as transformative breakthroughs that can hold tremendous potential for physical and emotional healing. When understood and treated in a supportive manner, spiritual emergencies can become gateways to higher levels of functioning and new ways of being.

In this book, foremost psychologists, psychiatrists, and spiritual teachers address the following questions: What is spiritual emergency? What is the relationship between spirituality, “madness,” and healing? What forms does spiritual emergency take? What are the pitfalls — and promises — of spiritual practice? How can people in spiritual emergency be assisted by family, friends, and professionals?

This groundbreaking work reveals that within the crisis of spiritual emergency lies the promise of spiritual emergence and renewal.

Stanislav Grof, M.D., is a psychiatrist with more than thirty years of research experience in nonordinary states of consciousness. He was born and educated in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and received an M.D. from Prague’s Charles University School of Medicine, where he specialized in psychiatry. He was the principle investigator for a program at the Psychiatric Research Institute that explored the potential of psychedelic therapy. For his dissertation on this subject, he was awarded a Ph.D. by the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.

In 1967 he was invited to Johns Hopkins University as a clinical and research fellow and to the research unit of Spring Grove State Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, where he continued his psychadelic research. In 1969 he was offered the position of chief of psychiatric research at the Maryland Psychiatric Research Center and of assistant professor of psychology at Henry Phipps Clinic. The research team he headed systematically explored the value of psychedelic therapy in neurotics, alcoholics, drug addicts, and terminal cancer patients.

Stanislav continued these functions until 1973, when he moved to California and became scholar in residence at the Esalen Institute in Big Sur. Since that time, he has focused on exploring the potential of experimental psychotherapy without drugs, in addition to writing and conducting seminars worldwide. He is one of the founders and chief theoreticians of transpersonal psychology and the founding president of the International Transpersonal Association. He has published more than ninety papers in professional journals and is the author of Realms of the Human Unconscious, The Human Encounter with Death, LSD Psychotherapy, Beyond the Brain, and The Adventure of Self-Discovery. He was also editor of the volumes Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science and Human Survival and Consciousness Evolution.

View Here

Christina Grof: Addiction, Attachment & Spiritual Crisis — Thinking Allowed w/ Jeffrey Mishlove

Christina Grof describes her own struggle to overcome alcoholism and suggests that the impulse that leads to addictive behavior stems from our yearning for spiritual union. Crises of spiritual opening, she says, may often look like episodes of acute psychosis and are often difficult and even painful. Unlike psychosis, however, such crises can lead to higher states of personality integration.

Christina Grof is founder of the Spiritual Emergence Network. She is author of The Thirst for Wholeness, and is a developer, with husband Stanislav Grof, of Holotropic therapy.

A completely spontaneous, life-altering experience of satori or enlightenment shook Lesley Skylar’s world at about age 9 or 10. Everything, in every facet, shifted unimaginably – nothing was ever the same again. This set her on a life course dedicated to understanding, honoring and living what had been revealed.

Lesley has spent years as a renunciate, living in ashrams and working deeply with direct teachings of enlightenment, in both the East and West. She has studied and practiced Zen Buddhism, Dzogchen and the Nonduality teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. She has a Degree in Psychology, has counselled, and worked in numerous non-profit, peace and human rights endeavors.

Lesley is a teacher of spiritual awakening. The approach and teaching she shares comes directly from her extensive experience, and was developed and refined through her own realization. It is based on decades of integration and rigorous work with liberation teachings and realized teachers.

Her teaching offers individual or small group guidance for awakening, and also focuses specifically on the post awakening terrain. Many are confused or struggle after awakening as they don’t realize that awakening is a beginning – it is not stabilized and abiding, involves a coming and going of clarity and higher states, a persistent self-sense, and incomplete seeing or depth. She helps people to move beyond the initial phases of awakening, to clarify and resolve sticking points, subtle aspects of identification, shadow, unconscious beliefs and so on. This creates a deepening, integrating and embodying, which allows liberation and enlightened living to unfold.

Lesley states: “As a teacher, I am simply the voice of your own deepest being, your highest possibilities, reflected back to you. A clear mirror, reflecting back to you your most authentic True Nature.”

She has travelled extensively and lived in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. She is currently based in Vancouver, Canada. Lesley offers private sessions worldwide, via Skype/ online video or in person.

“Living a realized life is a radical shift of perception and identity, bringing with it true
freedom, clarity and peace that surpasses all understanding.”

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

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

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

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

When John Samsen first contacted us several months ago, he said, “I’m 90 years old, I’ve had both my feet amputated, and I’ve never been happier”. We soon learned that John designed the Ford Thunderbird, Plymouth Barracuda, and other “muscle cars”, and later had a profound and abiding spiritual awakening.

Over a course of many decades, John Samsen followed a quest to understand the “big questions” of Life; why are we here, what is Life all about, and who am I, really? Along with careers in Aerospace Engineering and car designing, John studied the sciences, mythologies, religions, philosophies, and psychologies, to expand his understandings. A pattern of paranormal experiences opened his mind to areas of experience beyond the paradigms of Science. In 1970, he embarked on a quest of Self Discovery, participating in hundreds of hours of intensive consciousness exploration with such noted researchers as Drs. Jean Houston and Robert Masters, Dr. Lawrence LeShan, Robert Monroe, and others involved in the “human potentials” movements of the 1970’s.

After a series of traumatic events in his life, John experienced a “metanoia”, what some call a transformation or “awakening”. John’s quest ended, and in the years since, he has been enjoying Life, knowing peace of mind, “unconditional love” of self and world, and freedom from fear and anxiety. John has been working on a verbal description of his experiences that does not rely on traditional metaphysical or religious ideas, but is consistent with modern scientific concepts of space, time, matter, and energy. He believes that a dramatic experience of “awakening”, which is rare and very difficult to achieve, is not necessary for enlightened living; that with proper guidance and consistent effort, most people can achieve that state of being.

Born 1961. Lived most of life in the coastal county of Pembrokeshire, UK. Love the sea. Between ages 17 to 22 lived in a Vedanta Monastery, 22/23 a hermit-like life. Age 23 to present have been running a gallery business. Separated 12 years ago. Two boys, ages 15 and 19, live with me. Time is spent supporting the boys and their business and chatting about the ocean.

Posted on December 15, 2017
Eckhart Tolle’s first bestseller, The Power of Now, has riveted readers with its enlightened insights…

Staying in the present moment, he says in that book, is the way to eliminate the suffering created through identifying with the mind. In his latest book, A New Earth, Tolle continues his theme of present moment awareness, elaborating on it with his unique clarity and depth, and he also explores how an awakened consciousness aligns us with our life purpose. We have both an inner and an outer purpose, according to Tolle. Our outer purpose changes with circumstances and necessarily involves time, whereas our inner purpose remains always the same: It is to be absolutely present in whatever we do and so let our actions be guided and empowered by awareness, the awakened consciousness, rather than controlled by the egoic mind. We fulfill our destiny and realize our purpose when we awaken to who we are: conscious Presence.

Tolle has taken the essence of spiritual wisdom from such great teachers as Jesus and Buddha, and put this wisdom into meaningful expression for today, just as Ernest Holmes has done through his formulation of a Science of Mind and Spirit. When Holmes says of spiritual mind treatment that it is “clearing the thought of negation, of doubt and fear, and causing it to perceive the ever-presence of God,” he is gleaning the same wisdom from ancient teachings that Tolle has also done in his books. Now, with A New Earth, he makes this key to enlightenment—being fully conscious in this very moment—real and alive for us in today’s words and for today’s world. His book title comes from the biblical passage in Revelation promising a new heaven and a new earth. It is a metaphor for the state of conscious awareness of infinite being (heaven), which continually comes forth in a new way into new form (earth). Because his meaning goes beyond an intellectual grasp, Tolle’s ideas ask for contemplation. They are more to be opened up to than studied. “Words are only pointers,” he says. “What is being communicated lies beyond words, but we can use them to go at least in the direction of what is meant and that is helpful.”

SOM: In your vision of a new earth, the purpose of life involves what you call awakened doing. What do you mean by this?

Tolle: 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.

In awakened doing there is complete internal alignment with the present moment and whatever you are doing right now. The doing is then not primarily a means to an end, but an opening for consciousness to come into this world. Aligning yourself with the Now is aligning yourself with universal purpose, the purpose of the whole. What is the purpose of the whole? The birth and flowering of consciousness. The whole then guides you in whatever you think or do.

As I explain in A New Earth, awakened doing has three modalities, depending on circumstances and the nature of the activity. They are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. If there is neither acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm in what you do, you are out of alignment with universal purpose. You are creating unhappiness, that is to say suffering in one form or another. One way of defining the ego is simply this: a dysfunctional relationship with the present moment. What I refer to as the “new earth”—the outer forms created by awakened doing—arises as more people realize that their purpose is to allow consciousness to emerge through whatever they do.

SOM: Do you believe that humanity is ready for this transformation?

Tolle: Yes. I see signs that it is already happening. For the first time there is a large scale awakening on our planet. Why now? Because if there is no change in human consciousness now, we will destroy ourselves and perhaps the planet. The insanity of the collective egoic mind, amplified by science and technology, is rapidly taking our species to the brink of disaster. Evolve or die: that is our only choice now. Without considering the Eastern world, my estimate is that at this time about ten percent of people in North America are already awakening. That makes thirty million Americans alone, and in addition to those people in other North American countries, about ten percent of the population of Western European countries are also awakening. This is probably enough of a critical mass to bring about a new earth. So the transformation of consciousness is truly happening even though they won’t be reporting it on tonight’s news. Is it happening fast enough? I am hopeful about humanity’s future, much more so now than when I wrote The Power of Now. In fact that is why I wrote that book. I really wasn’t sure that humanity was going to survive. Now I feel differently. I see many reasons to be hopeful.

SOM: You say in your new book that for humanity to make this transformation, there needs to be a shift from object consciousness to space consciousness. Can you explain more about that?

Tolle: Yes. I am saying that I see the emergence of space consciousness as the next stage in the evolution of humanity. By space consciousness I mean that in addition to our being fully conscious of things—that is to say of sense perceptions, thoughts, emotions, and whatever happens in our lives—there is at the same time an undercurrent of awareness or Presence operating in us. Awareness implies that we are not only conscious of things, such as the objects and the people around us, but we are also conscious at the same time of being conscious. Conscious of the timeless I AM without which there would be no world. We can sense an inner alert stillness in the background while things happen in the foreground. That is the unconditioned. That is true intelligence. If there is only object consciousness in our lives, we remain trapped in the conditioned, trapped in form, which creates an appearance of separation. We are always trying to change the form or are resisting it in some way. We are looking to the world of form for salvation. But when we are aware of space consciousness, aware of being aware, we are freed from identification with form, which is ego, and there arises within us a sense of oneness with the whole and with our Source.

SOM: So attachment and struggle are released.

Tolle: That’s right, because in space consciousness there is no future and no past. There is only the present, and it is always free. This is what the Buddhists call “emptiness” and Jesus calls “the fullness of life.” It is the same thing, or rather no-thing. Because it is an opening into the vertical dimension, which has no limit, the present is never confining or fraught with problems. Problems need time, that is to say past and future, to survive. On the other hand, if we let our focus drift back to the past or forward to the future, we are functioning in the horizontal dimension, and this results in an expanded differentiation of forms deriving from ego constructs. Entering the vertical dimension requires a high degree of Presence. The Now needs to be the main focus of our attention. Of course, we need the concept of time in order to function, for example, to schedule this interview. But the point is not to be limited to that dimension alone. The arising of space consciousness—a shift to vertical rather than horizontal awareness—is the next stage in the evolution of humanity, and it’s happening more and more as our awareness remains in the now moment.

SOM: Can you suggest some ways to stay focused in the now?

Tolle: One thing we can do is to notice the little things all around us, paying attention to details such as the birds in the trees and the flowers in the garden or the park—just notice the beauty everywhere, even the smallest things. To notice seemingly insignificant things requires alertness. That alertness is the key. It is the unconditioned. It is consciousness itself. Another helpful practice is to watch the breath, and breathe consciously. If we are paying attention to our breath, we cannot be thinking of anything else at the same time. Our attention is in the now moment and not on our worries about yesterday or our plans for what we will do next week. We are just breathing, not thinking. Because the practice of breath meditation takes us out of the activity of thought, it is an effective way to awaken. In fact, breath, because it has no form as such, has traditionally been equated with spirit, the formless One Life. In the German language, the word atmen, meaning “breathing,” is derived from atman, which in Sanskrit, the language of ancient India , refers to the innermost essence or universal self.

SOM: Why is it a desirable practice to free the mind from thinking?

Tolle: Thinking, or more precisely identification with thinking, gives rise to and maintains the ego, which, in our Western society in particular, is out of control. It believes it is real and tries hard to maintain its supremacy. Negative states of mind, such as anger, resentment, fear, envy, and jealousy, are products of the ego. When the ego is in control, these states of mind appear to us to be justified and also to be caused by some external factor. Usually another person is blamed for these feelings. Their true cause, however, is not to be found in the content of your life, but in the very structure of the egoic mind. It needs enemies because it defines its identity through separation, and so it emphasizes the other-ness of others. For this reason, letting the ego be in control leads ultimately to violence, fighting, and war. This is madness, but the ego doesn’t see it that way.

The film A Beautiful Mind does a good job of depicting how the mind can delude us if we are not aware that it is controlling us. It’s the true story of a man who is a genius but he’s also insane. The audience doesn’t know that he’s insane until he himself realizes it as the story unfolds. The film makes the point that when you become aware that you are insane, you are no longer insane. So when you become aware of your mind, you are not identified with your mind anymore. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. The madness is caused by thinking without awareness, and thinking without awareness is how the ego keeps us in its grip.

SOM: Are you suggesting that we just change the content of our thoughts away from negativity or rather that we cease the activity of thinking?

Tolle: Positive thinking is certainly preferable to negative thinking. But to be in the consciousness of the now moment and to practice awareness of the divine Presence is what Jesus means in his Sermon on the Mount when he says, “Take no thought for your life.” From this state of Being comes great creativity. “Change your thinking” can really be understood as telling us to cease the constant busy activity of the mind, which is repetitive, futile, and often negative. Instead of constantly thinking, we become still and quiet, and we become conscious of being conscious. This is the realization of I AM, the realization of Being, our essence identity. When we are rooted in that, thinking becomes the servant of awareness, rather than a self- (ego) serving activity. It becomes creative, empowered.

SOM: You talk in your book about the pain-body, both personal and collective. What do you mean by the pain-body?

Tolle: The pain-body is my term for the accumulation of old emotional pain that almost all people carry in their energy field. I see it as a semi-autonomous psychic entity. It consists of negative emotions that were not faced, accepted, and then let go in the moment they arose. These negative emotions leave a residue of emotional pain, which is stored in the cells of the body. There is also a collective human pain-body containing the pain suffered by countless human beings throughout history. The pain-body has a dormant stage and an active stage. Periodically it becomes activated, and when it does, it seeks more suffering to feed on. If you are not absolutely present, it takes over your mind and feeds on negative thinking as well as negative experiences such as drama in relationships. This is how it has been perpetuating itself throughout human history. Another way of describing the pain-body is this: the addiction to unhappiness.

SOM: Can you suggest a way to eliminate the pain-body?

Tolle: Yes. We release it by cutting the link between the pain-body and our thought processes, so that we no longer feed the pain-body with our thinking. Every negative thought has a similar frequency to the pain-body and so feeds it. It cannot feed on positive thoughts. When the pain-body no longer runs the internal dialogue of our compulsive thinking, we become aware of it directly. We feel the emotion in our body, and so we bring awareness to it, the light of consciousness. The old emotion is then transmuted into consciousness in the same way that a fire transmutes everything into itself. So disidentification from the emotion and just being in the now moment is the way to stop the cycle of constantly recreating painful experiences.

SOM: Fear seems to lie behind most negative emotions. How can it be released? You speak about a process of disidentification. How does it work?

Tolle: Fear arises through identification with form, whether it be a material possession, a physical body, a social role, a self-image, a thought, or an emotion. It arises through unawareness of the formless inner dimension of consciousness or spirit, which is the essence of who you are. You are trapped in object consciousness, unaware of the dimension of inner space which alone is true freedom.

Every fearful thought is about future, is about something that could or may happen. Most people are familiar with the “mental movies” that cause stress and anxiety and keep you awake at night, while your body lies in a warm and comfortable bed. The moment you recognize a fearful thought for what it is, that is to say futile and self-destructive mind activity, you begin to disidentify from it. Awareness or Presence then takes over from thinking. I am not saying that you don’t think anymore, just that you no longer confuse it with who you are. Thinking becomes rooted in awareness rather than being autonomous and self-serving, which is the ego.

Every pain-body contains a great deal of fear, since fear is the primordial negative emotion. How do we deal with that? Here again, you recognize it for what it is: the pain-body, an accumulation of old emotion. Once you recognize it, it cannot take over your mind, feed on your negative thoughts, and control your internal dialogue as well as what you say and do. Once the pain-body has come up, don’t fight or resist it. It is part of the “isness” of the present moment with which you always need to be in inner alignment. So you allow it to be there. If you don’t feed it anymore, it loses its energy charge and the negative emotion undergoes transmutation.

SOM: You speak in your book of the ego’s incessant wanting and its insatiable need for more. Wouldn’t certain things we want be considered worthwhile, though, such as wanting to become a better person?

Tolle: The desire to become a better person is usually to do with wanting to improve how I feel about myself, how I see myself, or how I am seen by others. It is to do with mental image-making, that is to say, ego. That includes, of course, wanting to become enlightened or more spiritual. Awakening or spiritual realization is the discovery that you don’t need to add anything to yourself in order to be yourself fully. You don’t need to try to become good, but allow the goodness that is within you, inherent in Being and inseparable from who you are, to emerge.

SOM: You say that as people awaken to their true self and their life purpose, a new earth is created. What is this new earth like?

Tolle: I don’t want to speculate about the characteristics of the new earth, but whatever it is, it will be an outer manifestation of the new heaven, the inner realm of consciousness. It will arise out of the awakened consciousness that is unconditioned and free from the illusions of ego. Hints of what the new earth will be like are found in the Bible, where it says, for example, that “the wolf shall dwell with the lamb ….” One way of understanding this is that what we perceive as external reality is one with and a reflection of collective human consciousness, so a change in consciousness will change not only the world we create, but our entire way of perceiving reality.

As human beings awaken from the dream of identification with form, consciousness can begin to create form without losing itself in it. The true essence of who each of us is, is being realized. The coming of a new heaven and a new earth, predicted both in the Old and the New Testaments, is an apt metaphor for this shift in consciousness. This shift, however, is not a future state to be achieved or even believed in. A new heaven and a new earth are arising within each of us at this moment. So awakening to your life’s purpose is not to try to look to the future and expect fulfillment there but to stay in the moment, allowing the ego to dissolve. Your life’s inner purpose is primary, and your inner purpose is to awaken, to be conscious. In whatever you do, your state of consciousness is the primary factor.

Source: Eckhart Tolle

Matthew Fox is a spiritual theologian, an Episcopal priest, and an activist. As a spiritual theologian, he has written 34 books that have been translated into over 60 languages. Among them are Original Blessing, The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, A Spirituality Named Compassion, The Reinvention of Work, The Hidden Spirituality of Men, Christian Mystics, and The Pope’s War. He has contributed much to the rediscovery of Hildegard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart and Thomas Aquinas as pre-modern mystics and prophets.

Fox holds a doctorate in the history and theology of spirituality from the Institut Catholique de Paris. The founder of the University of Creation Spirituality in California, he conducts dozens of workshops each year and is a visiting scholar at the Academy for the Love of Learning in Santa Fe, NM. In joining the Episcopal church over 20 years ago, Fox has been working with young people to reinvent forms of worship by bringing elements of rave such as dance, dj, vj and more into the Western Liturgy. The Cosmic Mass has been celebrated over 100 times and in dozens of cities in North America.

Fox is recipient of the Abbey Courage of Conscience Peace Award (other recipients being the Dali Lama, Mother Teresa, Ernesto Cardenal and Rosa Parks), the Gandhi King Ikeda Award, the Tikkun National Ethics Award and other awards. His latest books are Order of the Sacred Earth: An Intergenerational Vision of Love and Action; Stations of the Cosmic Christ; and A Way to God: Thomas Merton’s Creation Spirituality Journey. He teaches regularly at the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality in Boulder, Co and resides in Vallejo, CA.

Published on Nov 16, 2017

A response to a question on “How to live life from the point of view of Tantra?'” – given at the weekend immersion in Mallorca, Oct 2017.

In this in-depth interview, based on the questions from the students, Igor speaks on various topics; on heart-to-heart transmission, on the importance of Kundalini, on the line between shift in Consciousness and mystical experiences, on Awakening vs Self-Realization, on challenges of working with those who have been on the path for decades, on how he came to guide others, on the ‘Satsang Movement’, on The Divine Feminine and role of initiation, and more.

Filmed during the ‘Unveiling the Rose’ Immersion at Gut Saunstorf, Germany. August 2017. Filmed/edited by Jacub Kubacki Ganapati. Courtesy of Flowing Wakefulness.

T!M FREKE is a pioneering philosopher, Gnostic scholar and spiritual guide who speaks and runs ‘Deep Awakening’ retreats internationally. He is the author of 35 books, translated into more than 15 languages, including The Jesus Mysteries on Gnostic Christianity, which was a top 10 bestseller in the USA and UK, and ‘Book of the Year’ in the UK Daily Telegraph.

Over the last 15 years Tim has been articulating a revolutionary approach to spiritual awakening, which is life-affirming, heart-opening and intellectually robust. In his recent book Deep Awake he suggests that to wake up to oneness we need to embrace, rather than deny, our individuality, because ‘the ego is the hero not the villain of the spiritual adventure’.

In his latest book Soul Story Tim offers an inspiring new vision of the nature of reality and the deep purpose of existence. He suggests we need a radical shift in our understanding of both science and spirituality, so we can bring these different perspectives together. Tim’s new worldview, which he calls ‘Emergent Spirituality’, does this by combining an innovative perspective on the theory of evolution with a fresh understanding of esoteric ideas such as the immortality of the soul.

Tim has been exploring spirituality since a spontaneous awakening when he was 12 years old and now guides others directly to the ‘deep awake’ state. He has been pioneering soul-to-soul partner meditations such as ‘gazing’ for more than fifteen years, as a powerful practice to transform consciousness.

Tim is a passionate and playful communicator with a contagious enthusiasm for life, who has often been featured in the global media, such as the BBC and the History Channel. He lives with his family in Glastonbury, England.

Rupert Spira was kind enough to sit with Bill and me while we were on retreat with him at Mercy Center in San Francisco. Rupert has a clarity that sounds in the mind like a Zen gong! His insights help “connect the dots” in ways you will be thankful for

Robert A.F. Thurman is the Jey Tsong Khapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of the Tibet House U.S., a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies, a non-profit affiliated with the Center for Buddhist Studies at Columbia University and dedicated to the publication of translations of important artistic and scientific treatises from the Tibetan Tengyur.

TIME Magazine chose Professor Thurman as one of its 25 most influential Americans in 1997, describing him as a “larger than life scholar-activist destined to convey the Dharma, the precious teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, from Asia to America.” The New York Times recently said Thurman “is considered the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism.”

In this interview, we discuss Thurman’s latest book: Man of Peace: The Illustrated Life Story of the Dalai Lama of Tibet.

Thurman is known as a talented popularizer of the Buddha’s teachings. He is a riveting speaker and an author of many books on Tibet, Buddhism, art, politics, and culture.


Isa Gucciardi, Ph.D. is the Founding Director of the Foundation of the Sacred Stream, a school for consciousness studies in Berkeley, CA. Isa is also the creator of the spiritual counseling model, Depth Hypnosis. In addition to her teaching schedule that includes teaching classes in Applied Buddhist Psychology, Applied Shamanism, Integrated Energy Medicine and Depth Hypnosis, she has active practices in Depth Hypnosis and Applied Shamanic Counseling in San Francisco, CA.

In this interview, we discuss Isa’s latest book: Coming to Peace: Resolving Conflict Within Ourselves and With Others

Published on Nov 5, 2017.

Adyashanti is an American-born spiritual teacher and author 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. Asked to teach in 1996 by his Zen teacher of 14 years, 

Adyashanti offers teachings that are free of any tradition or ideology. “The Truth I point to is not confined within any religious point of view, belief system, or doctrine, but is open to all and found within all.” He teaches throughout North America and Europe, offering satsangs, weekend intensives, silent retreats, and a live internet radio broadcast.


Michael A. Rodriguez: Michael’s spiritual path began well over twenty years ago with Zen and subsequently included a master’s degree in theology from Harvard, long-term stays at two monasteries, and profound engagements with Vedanta, Tibetan Buddhism, Sufism, Kashmir Shaivism, and Christian mysticism.

 He was especially influenced by Nisargadatta, Mooji, and Rupert Spira. During a five-year period of purification and intensive self-inquiry, his search came to an end with an Awakening that revealed the infinite and eternal nature of the Self. His body and mind then underwent a radical transformation that established the seamlessness and aliveness of all experience.

Drawing always from his direct experience, Michael speaks with great clarity and compassion about the undivided nature of Life or Consciousness, always pointing to reality in a way that is free from dogma, ritual, or adherence to any particular tradition. He draws skillfully from the world’s wisdom traditions and also integrates Jungian psychology, literature, music, and art into his work to address the full range of human potential. 

He offers meetings, retreats, and private sessions here in the United States and abroad. His book–Boundless Awareness: A Loving Path to Spiritual Awakening and Freedom from Suffering--distills the essence of his teaching and was praised by Renate McNay, co-host of, for its clarity: “I have read many spiritual books over the 10 years I have been interviewing people for, but I found that Michael’s book has an exceptional clarity that gave me a deeper understanding of who we really are.” His interviews on Buddha at the Gas Pump and Conscious TV can be viewed on his YouTube Channel.


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