Western Baul Podcast Series

westernbaul.org

The Western Baul Podcast Series features talks by practitioners of the Western Baul path. Topics are intended to offer something of educational, inspirational, and practical value to anyone drawn to the spiritual path. For Western Bauls, practice is not a matter of philosophy but is expressed in everyday affairs, service to others, and music and song. There is the recognition that all spiritual traditions have examples of those who have realized that there is no separate self to substantiate—though one will always exist in form—and that “There is only God” or oneness with creation. Western Bauls, as named by Lee Lozowick (1943-2010), an American spiritual Master who taught in the U.S., Europe, and India and who was known for his radical dharma, humor, and integrity, are kin to the Bauls of Bengal, India, with whom he shared an essential resonance and friendship. Lee’s spiritual lineage includes Yogi Ramsuratkumar and Swami Papa Ramdas. Contact us: westernbaul.org/contact read less
Religion & SpiritualityReligion & Spirituality

Episodes

An Ethical Will: What Values Can We Pass on to Future Generations? (Elise Erro/e.e.)
Feb 15 2024
An Ethical Will: What Values Can We Pass on to Future Generations? (Elise Erro/e.e.)
An ethical will is about what we wish to pass on to future generations. Native American tribes think seven generations ahead in terms of what to leave behind. An ethical will has been part of the Jewish tradition. Ethics is about acting according to conscience, while morality is more about following widely shared norms, sometimes unthinkingly. When we consider who our ancestors were, we learn about ourselves. How have things that happened in the past brought us to the spiritual work we’re doing now? Some of us on a spiritual path have been exposed to higher laws such as hospitality, good company, reciprocity, and invocation and have benefited from teachings passed down through traditions. Could we convey values we have learned in a way that benefits others and does not create a burden by saying what others who come after us should do? Maybe spiritual work, which arises out of the wellspring of a desire to self-realize, is inherent in life and does not need anything from us to express itself. But if we have benefited from it, do we feel a responsibility to pass it on? Most of the time what we want to leave behind is something to be remembered by. An ethical will is different; it is about passing on something bigger than ourselves. What is of ultimate value is beyond the personal. If we practice because we want to awaken individually, it will not yield much in a lifetime. Tribal people pass on values through story. Humor is often an aspect of expressing the sacredness of life so we don’t take ourselves so seriously. If we feel the urge to write, we could make an ethical testament of things we have learned from. We can live inside a question of what we might wish to pass on and how we could do that. Elise Erro (e.e.) has been committed to a life of engaging spiritual principles and service through theater, support for the dying, and bringing enjoyment to others as a chocolatier.
The Gospel of Thomas (David Herz)
Feb 1 2024
The Gospel of Thomas (David Herz)
The Gospel of Thomas was found in 1945 in a jar buried in the ground in a small Egyptian town, Nag Hammadi, in a region where monks had meditated in solitude. Its origin dates back to the first few centuries and possibly to the time of Christ. In the accepted Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, Jesus is presented as an utterly unique being or as the only begotten son of God. Thomas means twin in Latin. One interpretation of the Gospel of Thomas is that we are identical twins of Jesus at a deep level, children of God as he is without knowing it. Some find it not to be a gnostic text since it affirms the basic reality and sanctity of incarnate life which gnostics consider illusory. There were different communities of Essenes, Sadducees, and Pharisees at the time that Jesus lived. Jesus transmitted a lot of his teaching of spiritual truth through parable. The Gospels were originally spoken in Aramaic and translated into Greek. The Nag Hammadi texts are written in Coptic, a language descended from ancient Egyptian. So, the Gospel of Thomas, which contains 114 logia or sayings attributed to Jesus, has undergone translation. Several of them are discussed. In the first, he states that whoever discovers the meaning of the sayings will not taste death. It is assumed that Jesus did not mean we are not going to leave the body—he meant something else. If Jesus had wanted to be clear and literal, he would not have spoken this way. The second logion says that those who seek should seek until they find and when they find they will be troubled and will reign over all. The Gospel of Thomas contains nondual teaching—the kingdom is within and without. We can reflect on the sayings, make them our own and open to their meaning. David Herz is a spiritual practitioner who lives in Paris where he has been a journalist, technical writer, communications officer, and an English instructor at universities.
Staying in Love (Vijaya Fedorschak)
Jan 18 2024
Staying in Love (Vijaya Fedorschak)
Love is a stable state of being that can be seen as the culmination of the path. What is required of us for this state to come about? Love is about more than one relationship. We can consider love in coupled relationship, with others that we associate with, and in relationship to life. What is usually meant when we say we love someone is that we want to be loved by them. We can have expectations of a partner and others and become resentful if they do not meet our expectations. What do we really want? If we had it, would it be enough? Relative existence is fundamentally disappointing since everything ends. Would residing in a stable state of love be enough? We have to consider loving our enemies if we are to work toward the possibility of the path. Society does not teach us to love our enemies. We see situations in life as friendly or unfriendly, favorable or unfavorable, and look for favorable situations all the time. We can consider the enemy to be anyone with whom we have a relationship of unlove and everything that represents the unfriendly side of existence. The traditions assert that there is something in us that has to change. We can intend to “Love our enemies” and do a turn-around when we are in a state of unlove toward others or when the unfavorable side of life presents itself. This is different than denying or suppressing our feelings. We can practice with this in small ways. Great masters have said that the Divine has us pass through painful ordeals to awaken us to the ultimate reality. We can have compassion for ourselves, not demand more of ourselves than is presently possible, and also work with such teachings and dare to remember the aim of staying in love. This talk is based on the teachings of the French master Arnaud Desjardins. VJ Fedorschak is the organizer of the Western Baul Podcast Series and author of The Shadow on the Path and Father and Son.
Threshold: Spirituality and Ecology, Here at the Changing of the Guard (Mary Angelon Young)
Jan 4 2024
Threshold: Spirituality and Ecology, Here at the Changing of the Guard (Mary Angelon Young)
We are living in wild times, in a shifting world in which we don’t know what’s going to happen. How can we find and live with reality in a world that is so predominantly unreal? Our karmas have to ripen all the way for us to become more fluid, open up, and let go. An essential tenet of tantra is non-rejection, taking whatever is arising as our path. Pratyahara, a teaching in the Yoga Sutras, is about freeing ourselves from identifications and attachments, including spiritual ones. The path is a living stream that keeps giving us new challenges. All spiritual practice leads us to an in-between liminal state where we have to respond to what is present now and not what was in the past. We’re also in-between duality and nonduality, with awareness in both. The doorway to the Divine is the Feminine, a quality of being that is present in everyone regardless of gender. The Feminine has an instinctual trust of the life process, which includes death. The deeper we go on the path the more our hearts are broken and the more we recognize our love for everything, for the world. We can bear witness to what is unfolding in our lives and the world. If we are “in the world but not of the world,” we can step back to have a greater view of what is happening without getting caught up in it. When we’re clear, that is a moment to reaffirm our intention to the universe. In order for a new consciousness to be born, things have to die. The quality of our inner life makes a difference in this world. We keep getting broken open and getting bigger. Can we welcome the unknown and step into it with open arms? Mary Angelon Young is a workshop leader with a background in Jungian psychology, an editor and author of As It Is, Under the Punnai Tree, The Baul Tradition, Caught in the Beloved’s Petticoats, Enlightened Duality (with Lee Lozowick), Krishna’s Heretic Lovers, The Art of Contemplation, and other books.
Whatever Happened to Enlightenment? (Matthew Files)
Dec 14 2023
Whatever Happened to Enlightenment? (Matthew Files)
Enlightenment may or may not be a goal for people, but why would we get on the path unless we wanted something? With age, there seems to be less talk about pursuing enlightenment, which takes attention and energy to sustain. Is it natural for the pursuit to continue with less intensity? Or have we been distracted by all the problems of life so that the focus of attention that some of us had in our younger years has gone elsewhere? Maybe spiritual heroics are not needed on the path, which may be a very gradual, persistent process that goes on. All great traditions refer to enlightenment, but Suzuki Roshi said, “Why do you want enlightenment? You might not like it.” The truth for us is different today than it was when we first got on the path. Our understanding was different and we did not know ourselves as well. Many people in their younger years have an ideal about what they want to do with their lives. That may get lost if we don’t pay attention to it and we may lament as we get older that we can’t find our way back into it or just don’t have the energy for it. Are we still passionate and motivated about the path? Why or why not? David Foster Wallace’s commencement speech at Kenyon College in 2008 is discussed. Where do our templates or beliefs and the meaning that we give to experience come from? This is different for everyone. If we pay attention, we’ll know there are other options to our templates and that we have choice about the meaning we give to experience. Our experience seems to support the belief that we are the center of the universe, but we could shift our attention and consider that maybe we don’t know the reality of situations we encounter. Everyone worships; the only choice we get is what to worship. Matthew Files facilitates groups that support people to look deeper into their process, formulate their own questions, and become responsible for their choices.
Shadow and Luminosity, Descent and Transcendence (Nachama Greenwald)
Nov 30 2023
Shadow and Luminosity, Descent and Transcendence (Nachama Greenwald)
The metaphorical aspect of darkness can refer to the dark night of the soul, to a deep descent within ourselves, our individual or collective shadow, a time of transition, grief, or depression—whenever we’re suffering. We have a bias towards light. The sacred nutrients of wisdom, creation, and transformation dwell in darkness. Darkness has a fertile, receptive, feminine quality because something wants to be birthed from it, as from the womb. The talk is not about glorifying darkness or trying to be free of it but healing through darkness. The greatest courage is to see and be with all that life brings. When darkness is welcomed, nothing is rejected. If we run from darkness, we run from ourselves. Awakening cannot be separated from this joyful, painful life. The path embraces the full spectrum of darkness and light. St. John of the Cross said, “If a man wishes to be sure of the road he treads on, he must close his eyes and walk in the dark.” A bodhisattva is someone who has found the path and is committed to it. What we are looking for must be found in the dark. We sacrifice certainty, surrender to losing our way, and sometimes have to fall apart for a vision to arise. If we do the work the great possibility is that we become more fully ourselves, who we are intended to be. Many seekers tend to bypass the dark and focus exclusively on the light. Knowing our own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darkness of other people. We fear knowing ourselves because of what we might discover—not just about the darkness but also the light. We can walk through heaven and hell with an open heart, developing compassion for ourselves and the world. Some of the Dark Mothers of various traditions are discussed. Nachama Greenwald is a physical therapist, editor, and musician who for seventeen years was a member of the Shri blues band which performed Western Baul music.
The Direct Path: Taking the Backwards Step (Peter Cohen)
Nov 16 2023
The Direct Path: Taking the Backwards Step (Peter Cohen)
The direct path is a refined articulation of the principles of nondualism, and the backward step is the actual practice of it. The mind feasts on complication. One of the features of the direct path is its simplicity. It does not involve lineage, guru, or ritual. We are always looking at things, but what are we looking out of? When we look at what we are looking out of, we are taking a step back into ourselves. Awareness is empty of anything solid so when we take a backward step we are no longer relating as one thing to another thing, from the duality of subject and object. When we step back into ourselves as far as we can go, all that’s left is being. What is looking out of our eyes now is essentially no different than what was looking out of our eyes when we were kids. It’s the same being that looks out of everyone’s eyes, including every saint and sage. That’s what is meant when we consider that everything is one. If we investigate where “me” is, we will not find it. We will just find layer after layer of qualities if we peel everything away like an onion. Our thoughts, feelings, and sensations would not be experienceable without awareness. The only thing that is aware of being aware is awareness itself. “I” is the name that what knows itself gives to itself. The “I” doesn’t know what it is, but it knows that it is. If we can be silent enough to be aware of awareness itself, that is a backward step. Welcoming the problematic parts of ourselves into the light of awareness, awareness will do the work. Nondual teaching is the crown jewel of Buddhism and all esoteric traditions. Awareness is the background of thoughts and personality. Everyone will find the help they need if they have earnestness. Peter Cohen was the drummer for the Western Baul rock band, Liars, Gods, and Beggars from 1988 to 1994. He has followed the nondual path and rhythm of life in Alaska and Idaho as a nurse and a musician.
The Value and Necessity of Suffering (Red Hawk)
Nov 2 2023
The Value and Necessity of Suffering (Red Hawk)
We need help to continue to grow. The name of a God-realized being invokes the Divine. We can make efforts to return to the present, to ground the attention. Attention is crucial in learning to use suffering so that suffering does not use us up and can become food for growth. Two kinds of attention are possible for a human being: mechanical attention which is an unconscious survival mechanism, and a second or conscious attention which makes self-observation possible and is different than the mind observing the mind. Yogi Ramsuratkumar said that if we are born, we suffer. The Four Noble Truths of Buddha are considered: there is suffering, a cause of suffering, an end to suffering, and a path to that end. Why must there be suffering? What is the difference between suffering and pain? The mind makes no distinction between types of pain. There is only one place the mind can go to escape pain—into the imagination. All humanity is trying to escape mechanical suffering; conscious suffering involves not trying to get rid of it. The desire to change or avoid “what is” leads to constant, repetitive suffering. When we have the courage to stay with it, with discrimination, friction between “yes and no” produces heat which allows the heart to catch fire as mercy, as compassion. “May the heat of suffering become the fire of love.” All human suffering can be seen as the result of identification, clinging to a false sense of self. Mechanical suffering becomes universal suffering with the sacrifice of identification. There is a path to the end of mechanical suffering as a deeper sense of conscience develops, which takes in everything—suffering and joy—and when we do not seek one and avoid the other. Red Hawk is an acclaimed poet and the author of 12 books, including Self Observation, Self Remembering, The Way of the Wise Woman, and Return to the Mother.
One’s Face on the Path (Jocelyn del Rio)
Oct 19 2023
One’s Face on the Path (Jocelyn del Rio)
The expressions of certain faces in spiritual paintings or sculpture and of genuine spiritual teachers in photographs or in-person can communicate our own basic goodness or organic innocence when we are in an open state. Something in us responds to a face that dances to the rhythm of creation, that exudes the peace of surrender. We are hard-wired for connection, which gets made through the face—for example, by babies. As we get older, layers of defense show up in a mask, as tenson in the face. We use our faces to create an identity. There’s a lot of information in how we decorate the face to make it something it isn’t. Are we aware when we are looking for recognition through our faces? Grief or shock or intense need can create cracks in the mask that let the light of reality in. When we start to let in and accept what we have previously denied, we may find that we do not know who we are anymore. It’s not popular to look how we feel, to be honest about it. Breathing starts and finishes in the face, which is where we can start to connect to the body. We can learn to face the howling wind and the sun, which are both gifts. When our desires manifest, we can accept, and when they do not manifest, we can accept. Our face was not our face when we were born; it was the face of heredity. Our face can start to manifest the original terrain that exists before the mask. We are not the face, but something comes through the face. When the clouds part the sun is always there. What faces do we have to lose for our original face to appear? The experience of magic, mystery, and miracle, which can occur through surrender to the Carver’s hand, only comes through losing face. Jocelyn is a spiritual student, artist, therapist, mother, gardener, and builder whose main interest in life is growth, development, evolution, observing in awe and participating in the cyclic nature of life.
What If? An Exploration of Transformational Possibility (Regina Sara Ryan)
Oct 5 2023
What If? An Exploration of Transformational Possibility (Regina Sara Ryan)
All failure to live life richly and fully is based on the feeling that love is scarce. We may sense at times that love is the ground of all being. What if we lived on the basis of this truth? There is so much music and poetry that reflects on our inner longing. Those in attendance at the live talk were asked to write down sayings, mantras, or mahavakyas (short sentences of wisdom teachings) that came to mind. They were then asked what they thought would happen if they realized the truth of what they had written. “What if?” can be a “pea under the mattress” that can orient us in our spiritual lives. Great statements are often the result of practice and not something we just hear and fully understand. We can practice with sayings such as “Love your neighbor as yourself” and allow them to be absorbed into our skin. It can be a source of discouragement to take on unrealistic expectations. We can be inspired by great beings, but to take the way their lives showed up and try to translate them into our own can be less worthwhile than lowering our expectations and approaching our lives honestly. What if the very state we are in is exactly where we need to be? Not expressing the “just this” of our current state could be detrimental to our spiritual life. The moment we recognize we’ve lost our attention, we wake up for a moment. What if, instead of digging many shallow channels of practice, we dig one deeply? We don’t generally consider that everyone we meet is going to die. The tenderness of being opened by love can sensitize us to the suffering of others, to heartbreak that we do not want to stop. There are many ways we can keep ourselves attuned to the reality of love as the ground of all being and not scarce. Regina is the editor of Hohm Press, a workshop leader, retreat guide, and author of The Woman Awake, Igniting the Inner Life, Praying Dangerously, Only God, and other books.
Cultivating Transparency: Realizing the Emptiness of the Stories You Tell Yourself and Others (Rob Schmidt and Stuart Goodnick)
Sep 21 2023
Cultivating Transparency: Realizing the Emptiness of the Stories You Tell Yourself and Others (Rob Schmidt and Stuart Goodnick)
We could say that all we know about ourselves cognitively are stories we tell ourselves. These are not necessarily obvious to us because they play so constantly. We respond to the universe through the stories that filter our experience. How do we work with this since we can’t think ourselves out of this box? Transparency hints at a different way of relating to stories. Many stories we identify with are cultural views. Stories in and of themselves are not a problem; they are a feature of what it is to be human. It’s when we hold onto stories that they capture our energy and attention so we don’t come back to the present and to the next event gifted to us by the universe. Transparency involves listening, seeing, generosity of spirit to others and ourselves, without reactivity to a story. This is not trivial work and a tool we have is self-observation, which is an energetic and not an analytical act. One feature of mature practice is relaxation of the tense form of attention we compulsively hold. This can allow for humor and for different kinds of spaces or chambers to be created. Belief is an emotional relationship with a lie. When a story turns into a belief, we can’t put it down. Resistance manifests differently in the three centers that are discussed in the Gurdjieff work. It is a rich vein to mine to reclaim energy of attention we’ve invested in story. Conscious suffering is the willingness to be present with resistance. Practice can be seen as an offering rather than as a story with an agenda to wake up. Creativity is an end in itself, the universe doing what it most wants to do. When not bound by our stories, we can accept the universe’s invitations to engage in higher work. Rob and Stuart run Tayu Meditation Center and founded Many Rivers Books and Tea in Sebastopol, CA. They invite spiritual teachers, practitioners, and authors to articulate their stories on The Mystical Positivist podcast.
It’s Not the Fall That Kills You: A Talk on Groundlessness (Juanita Violini)
Sep 7 2023
It’s Not the Fall That Kills You: A Talk on Groundlessness (Juanita Violini)
We are always already living in groundlessness. This can be scary since we tend to approach life in a fear-based way, but we can be groundless and focused on our delight. Groundlessness is not linear; it has no direction as we are always moving and changing. Children trust that their needs will be met until we give them a different message. We get into the habit of identifying, and holding onto any identity keeps us stuck. A distinction can be made between figuring ourselves out, which involves digging into the past to understand and fix ourselves, and knowing ourselves, which only takes place in the present. We can’t know ourselves if we are tense. We can get to know ourselves when we sit with and accept parts of us that are out of integrity, which allows something to shift. Being grounded takes place in a different place than groundlessness. All of our reactions come from fear of losing something. Every time we make an assumption or comparison, hold a grudge, identify with feelings, try to prove or control something, we “hit the ground.” It's easy to forget that life is magical because we keep hitting the ground. If we get to the point of knowing we have nothing to lose, we can stay in groundlessness. When we rest in the moment, then things show up that we could never imagine. What is life but an unending stream of surprises? Everything changes, which can be good news if we stop grasping. It’s common sense to have a plan. We can experiment in life, take a step forward and see if we should take another step or change direction. To be awake is to live in groundlessness. Trusting ourselves is pivotal because without this it’s difficult to trust life. It’s up to each of us to come to our own conclusions, to come to the truth for ourselves. Juanita is an artist and writer/producer of interactive mystery entertainment who has been a student of the spiritual path for over 35 years.
”What’s Your Pleasure? Poetry and Perspectives on Pleasure on the Spiritual Path” (Karen Sprute-Francovich)
Aug 17 2023
”What’s Your Pleasure? Poetry and Perspectives on Pleasure on the Spiritual Path” (Karen Sprute-Francovich)
In the Yoga tradition, Shiva represents unitary consciousness and Shakti represents the many forms that God takes in the world. One such form is pleasure. Kamala is a goddess and manifestation of Shakti, whose power is known as Shri, the fullness of pleasure. The word pleasure is boxed in by meanings we’ve given it in English, but Shri is a Sanskrit word for something deeper, a primordial vibration that gives rise to the creation of the world and is always present. We’re always tuned in to some frequency, which is a matter of habit and where our attention goes. There are loud radio stations that we tend to tune into, such as the news, and that we call reality. We can learn to choose other frequencies and inevitably can be brought to see God in all things. A practice of consistently tuning in to Shri involves undoing attachment to some strong frequencies. There is a core belief of lack in the U.S.—that we are not enough and there is not enough—that keeps us from Shri. Serving the frequency of Shri can be a life purpose or a golden path as it is called in Chinese medicine. Tuning in to Shri will be expressed in a multitude of ways in the world. Desire for pleasure can lead us to frequencies that feed on us. Nothing is opposed to spiritual freedom; everything is a portal or a trap. We can become more skillful at tuning in to the frequency of a desire rather than being fixated on the object of desire so that we want more and more of it. We miss Shri by not savoring experience or by thinking it’s wrong to have pleasure. There is discussion of the way women have learned not to fully allow pleasure. Shri is present in heartbreak and sorrow. We can work hard in the flow of Shri. The most repressed emotion is joy. Karen is a teacher of all aspects of Yoga—the physical and philosophical, the scientific and the mystical. She is a long-time student of Lee Lozowick.
Women Talking: Power, Dominance, and Agency in the Age of ‘Me Too’ and on the Path (Elise Erro)
Aug 3 2023
Women Talking: Power, Dominance, and Agency in the Age of ‘Me Too’ and on the Path (Elise Erro)
The plot of the movie “Women Talking,” which was nominated for Best Picture in 2023 and won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, is summarized and its relevance considered in our world and on the path. In the movie, after women begin to speak about their experience with abuse in an isolated religious colony, others tell their own stories at meetings that are scribed by a male who is trusted in the community. Part of spiritual work today involves relating with issues of power and dominance—even when there is an intention to serve a higher purpose. There is discussion of many facets of gender dynamics, rooted in the ways we are raised and socialized that have influenced our view of ourselves and our behaviors. These include the way boys and girls are taught to deal with feelings, the need to bring wounded parts of ourselves to light without shame, the tendency to give over our power to an authority, the importance of thinking for ourselves, male aggression, complicity in unhealthy relationships, the untalked about subject of women abusing men, etc. Women talking to women and men talking to men who are open to doing this can provide support for work with such issues. We may not understand each other, but we can learn to listen with an open heart. The value for women of taking a stand for being treated with respect is noted. Gender equity and reconciliation work is considered. The principle of opening to the feminine is an essential aspect of the spiritual path. If men do not do this, they are cut off from part of themselves. The topic of gender change and young people is discussed. We can’t make global changes, but we can change the way we relate with those of a different gender. Elise Erro (e.e.) has been committed to a life of engaging spiritual principles and service through theater, support for the dying, and bringing enjoyment to others as a chocolatier.
Removing Obstacles to Our Heart’s Desire (Lalitha)
Jul 20 2023
Removing Obstacles to Our Heart’s Desire (Lalitha)
What is our heart’s desire and what are we willing to pay for it? What coin do we have available as payment? Is our heart’s desire our top priority? We can identify our worldly heart’s desire, but we can go deeper into what is possible for us. Obstacles have a lot to do with identity. Are we willing to have our identities shaken up? It can be scary to give ourselves to our heart’s desire since it will change us. We are not comfortable with the unknown. It is possible to re-language our heart’s desire as longing for that which we do not yet know. If we are OK with the unknown, we will be changed forever. There are many words used to point to the longing of the heart. The currency of the heart is adoration. We spend our currency with distraction. A distracted lifestyle is not compatible with the heart’s desire. We can intuit and pay for our heart’s desire with our greed, lust, anger, etc. We can hide behind a spiritual identity. Everything should be examined if we are serious about removing obstacles. We cannot pay with the will of ordinary mind, which is different than the will of the heart, when it comes to the heart’s desire. To produce the heart’s desire, paradox is one of our biggest friends. We can’t let things fall away if we’re repackaging as fast as we can with buffers that we use to hold identity together. A spiritual school can give us tools to create the stamina needed when things fall away. The trick is to keep going, to take another step on the path. Fearlessness, which is to be awestruck, fuels adoration. We don’t want our last breath to be, “I wonder if it’s time to think about my heart’s desire.” Lalitha is a spiritual teacher residing in British Columbia, Canada, who has been a disciple in the Western Baul tradition since 1982. Her teaching style is rooted in the activities and responsibilities of ordinary life. Her books include Waking to Ordinary Life and Cultivating Spiritual Maturity.
Losing the Taste for Drama (Bandhu Dunham)
Jul 6 2023
Losing the Taste for Drama (Bandhu Dunham)
There are dramatic things that happen to us in life, but we have some control over how we respond. Seeing drama for what it is—something self-imposed that we often create for ourselves—is a big step in loosening its grip. What we call fate may be something that came from our unconscious. Through reverse engineering, we can inquire if there was something that we did to set up drama. It’s all in the set-up and we set things up that we will experience later. Passive techniques for setting up drama include filters through which we see reality and justify emotional reactions to situations that are what they are. These show up in “listening for” that which we are primed to hear, interpretations that we make, and judgments, comparisons, and expectations. Active ways of creating drama include entanglement, contempt, procrastination, denial, and failure to create boundaries. The familiarity of drama is strangely a source of comfort. Setting and respecting boundaries is really an internal process. We can pay attention to what our favorite role is on the drama triangle: victim, persecutor, or rescuer. If harmony is our higher aim, we can see what is wanted and needed and take responsibility for our role to get off the drama triangle. There are two forms of trust: earned trust when we don’t trust until someone proves to be trustworthy, and generous trust when we start by trusting others with discrimination. There is more power in generous trust. Respecting our internal boundaries is the foundation to be able to trust in a generous way. We will be hurt at times, but we can recover. Drama can be seen as the opposite of dignity. With dignity, we can feel the true value of elegance and aesthetics in behavior. If we internally slow down and listen, the universe can tell us what needs to be done. Bandhu is author of Creative Life and an internationally recognized glass artist and teacher.
Conscience and the Law of Identification (Red Hawk)
Jun 15 2023
Conscience and the Law of Identification (Red Hawk)
We need to verify the truth of something through direct experience. Every problem that we face as humans can be seen as the result of identification. There’s only ever one problem: the need to cease all identification. The only hope to loosen its hold is to awaken conscience. Conscience absorbs and subsumes identification. We come from greatness and we return from whence we came. The primary aim of self-observation is to reveal that in us which blocks our true nature, which is love. First there is identification, then imagination takes hold and we are lost to reality, the present, and love. A thought becomes thinking. The law of identification is that we become that which we identify with. Identification is unconscious, mechanical, habitual, and repetitious. It restricts consciousness, love, or God. To be conscious is to be non-identified. We believe we are the body, but this is 100% identification and imagination. We are presence and attention in a mammal body for a short time. Our fear of death is because we are identified with the body. Conscious attention slowly melts the hold identification has on attention. Conscience is our refuge, hope, and guide; it awakens through self-observation and self-remembering. The main function of a guru is to serve as external conscience. Conscience suffers, and its first suffering is shame. This can become remorse, which is transformational. Conscience always points us in the direction of love and helps essence to mature. Personality blocks conscience from manifesting. The aim of the Work is for conscience to be the active force instead of personality. Conscience always includes the other—it’s how God let’s us know what is needed and wanted from us in every situation. Red Hawk is an acclaimed poet and the author of 12 books, including Self Observation, Self Remembering, The Way of the Wise Woman, and Return to the Mother.
Working with Money as Spiritual Practice (Regina Sara Ryan, Tom Lennon, Vijaya Fedorschak)
Jun 1 2023
Working with Money as Spiritual Practice (Regina Sara Ryan, Tom Lennon, Vijaya Fedorschak)
An act of faith that the Divine will provide what we need is behind a vow of poverty taken in some religious orders. Generosity is primary in bodhisattva practice. By paying a little more, we sometimes end up supporting someone rather than getting the best deal. We can track ways we are stingy—with our love, power, graciousness, money. Consumer culture has a big part in creating our personalities and view of money. We can observe how we are with money without judgment. Are our lives more important than money or is money more important than our lives? Spiritual practice has to do with accepting what is as it is and being easeful with what we have. Money represents safety in the way that mother represents safety to a child. Grasping or holding on is the cause of suffering in Buddhism and a common way of relating to money. What are we really holding on to? Patterns of dealing with money get passed on through generations. What messages did we receive about money? Not wasting resources is a spiritual principle. Money is energy, and getting bigger in relationship with money can bring up aspects of ourselves that we are not in touch with. Money is a means to an end, not an end in itself. How can we spiritually profit through use of money? Supporting sources of our spiritual nourishment and something greater than ourselves can create a fluid and friendly relationship with money based on love and gratitude for the Divine. Tithing has been a principle in every tradition. We are trustees and not possessors of wealth. Intention comes first and money follows. We “pay for our work” with honesty and vulnerability, not just money. Money can show us ways that we undervalue ourselves. What we give to others, we give to ourselves. Regina is the editor of Hohm Press. Tom is a retired cultural resource consultant. VJ is organizer of the Western Baul Podcast Series.
The Shadow on the Path (Vijaya Fedorschak)
May 18 2023
The Shadow on the Path (Vijaya Fedorschak)
The shadow is a concept first advanced by Carl Jung to describe those parts of ourselves that we reject and repress. Everyone has a shadow. If we have some sense of what it is, we can work with it; if we don’t, it can run our lives in unseen ways. The failure to work with the shadow is at the root of many interpersonal and organizational problems, and on a mass scale it has a lot to do with the tragedy we see in the world today. Shadow behaviors are incongruent with religious and spiritual ideals, but psychological truth is powerful and can trump beliefs and better intentions. Forces that contribute to the development of the shadow are considered. There is discussion of Mahler’s research on the psychological birth of the child in the process of separation-individuation and Ainsworth’s study of early attachment issues. Repetition compulsion is the urge to recreate and overcome childhood hurts. We unconsciously avoid the shadow to keep painful feelings from awareness, but it shows up in relationship to others. Ways that we contact the shadow are considered. The shadow also contains positive aspects of ourselves and abilities we have disowned. Shadow issues that have manifested in abuse, misuse of power, and lack of responsibility in mainstream religions and spiritual communities based in Eastern traditions are referenced. Spiritual bypassing is the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to avoid facing unresolved emotional issues or psychological wounds. We can use spiritual teaching to discount, judge, and interpret rather than open to our experience. The shadow can be transformed by relating to it over time. When we do shadow work, clarity arises and we offer something to the world. The “cure of the shadow” is discussed. We repress our basic goodness. VJ is the organizer of the Western Baul Podcast Series and author of The Shadow on the Path and Father and Son.
My Last Bully Is Me (Rick Lewis)
May 4 2023
My Last Bully Is Me (Rick Lewis)
We are a particular kind of machine that protects itself at all costs. There’s no chance of escaping the machine; it’s what we have to work with. The only way to really work with the machine is to completely leave it alone and stop trying to change it. Liberation isn’t liberation into anything else—it’s liberation from identification. We might not remember a lot of the bullying we experienced, which may have left us with shame. We take over the bullying process from imprints we get as children and can spend a huge amount of time and energy trying to prove that we deserve to exist. We bring this with us to the spiritual path. Feeling the entire construct of self-bullying in the body can show us that we are doing this to ourselves. There is no “me” or ego sense other than the pattern of tension we perpetuate in our bodies. To fully get in touch with this can dissolve and release it. The inner bully goes easy on us when there should be more discipline and is hard on us when it should lighten up. To be a friend to ourselves is to challenge the ways we keep ourselves comfortable and to comfort ourselves when we habitually beat ourselves up. We can draw on microdoses of Truth to interrupt the process of self-bullying and bring ourselves back to the reference point that there is literally no “me.” The habit of fixating on the idea that I must be something other than exactly what is present is self-bullying. The idea that “no self” is something unknown, far away from us, some goal or achievement, is fundamentally wrong. We all have a point of reference for it. When we give ourselves the space to line up authentically with exactly what is true for us, we create an opening for others to set down the self-bullying process. Rick is a national speaker and author of 7 Rules You Were Born to Break, The Perfection of Nothing, You Have the Right to Remain Silent, and other books.