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

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Spiritual Bypassing and Adulthood on the Path (Deborah Auletta)
Dec 1 2022
Spiritual Bypassing and Adulthood on the Path (Deborah Auletta)
Spiritual Bypassing, a phrase coined by John Welwood, is the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. We have to develop the ego before it can be transcended. When one is committed to the spiritual process, psychological and spiritual work cannot be separated. It’s possible to become narcissistically fascinated with psychological process. There are a lot of things about the spiritual supermarket that can be misleading. States that are not ordinary can be confused with spiritual experience. Real spiritual work is for something greater than ourselves. Swami Prajnanpad said that the Sage is 100% adult. An article by Arnaud Desjardins, “From the Child to the Sage,” is discussed. If we understand that we are more or less childish, without taking it as an insult, the path becomes clear. We can hold professional responsibilities and still function as a child. Emotion, dependency, the need to “have” rather than “be,” and the inability to be alone and to wait are signs of childishness. On the path, we must have the courage to look at our weakest link, the area of our greatest childishness that we tend to push away. Being with childish feelings and finding ways to come back to center allows us to move forward. There is a difference between being childlike and childish. Transformation into adulthood begins when the love of truth becomes stronger than anything. If we get carried away with our own liberation, we may try to bypass pain and not be very committed to other sentient beings. The dark side is as much part of enlightenment as the light; one does not come without the other. Deborah is a nurse by vocation who spent 19 years as the lead singer of the blues band Shri. She is a student of Lee Lozowick and a life-long imperfect lover and seeker of truth.
Spiritual Bypassing and Adulthood on the Path (Deborah Auletta)
Dec 1 2022
Spiritual Bypassing and Adulthood on the Path (Deborah Auletta)
Spiritual Bypassing, a phrase coined by John Welwood, is the tendency to use spiritual ideas and practices to sidestep or avoid facing unresolved emotional issues, psychological wounds, and unfinished developmental tasks. We have to develop the ego before it can be transcended. When one is committed to the spiritual process, psychological and spiritual work cannot be separated. It’s possible to become narcissistically fascinated with psychological process. There are a lot of things about the spiritual supermarket that can be misleading. States that are not ordinary can be confused with spiritual experience. Real spiritual work is for something greater than ourselves. Swami Prajnanpad said that the Sage is 100% adult. An article by Arnaud Desjardins, “From the Child to the Sage,” is discussed. If we understand that we are more or less childish, without taking it as an insult, the path becomes clear. We can hold professional responsibilities and still function as a child. Emotion, dependency, the need to “have” rather than “be,” and the inability to be alone and to wait are signs of childishness. On the path, we must have the courage to look at our weakest link, the area of our greatest childishness that we tend to push away. Being with childish feelings and finding ways to come back to center allows us to move forward. There is a difference between being childlike and childish. Transformation into adulthood begins when the love of truth becomes stronger than anything. If we get carried away with our own liberation, we may try to bypass pain and not be very committed to other sentient beings. The dark side is as much part of enlightenment as the light; one does not come without the other. Deborah is a nurse by vocation who spent 19 years as the lead singer of the blues band Shri. She is a student of Lee Lozowick and a life-long imperfect lover and seeker of truth.
Pairs of Opposites (Bandhu Dunham)
Nov 17 2022
Pairs of Opposites (Bandhu Dunham)
“Discriminate and integrate” is a traditional spiritual motto. We can look at different teachings and find what is useful to integrate in our practice. Spiritual principles can be found everywhere, including in creative work. A list of opposites, “good theft” versus “bad theft” is considered, which contrasts getting inspiration from other people’s work, digesting it, and making it our own versus pretending it’s ours. We can look beneath the surface and discern whether our activity is dynamic or dramatic. Creativity is dynamic, but there is often resistance to this in distraction which pulls us away from creative work or the work of the soul. Resistance can take the form of drama and chaos. Pairs of dynamic and dramatic opposites are discussed. Dynamic is about continuing to evolve; the nature of the dramatic is being stuck. Polarization tends to be dramatic. Spaciousness can be seen in terms of accepting what is as it is. Curiosity about another person’s perspective can be seen as the opposite of being judgmental. There may be elements of both dynamic and dramatic qualities at play at the same time. How do we reconcile such opposites in ourselves? Holding two perspectives at the same time is lifelong work—for example, having remorse about dramatic qualities that can be hurtful and also not beating ourselves up. If we have the intention to surrender, the universe will move us from the dramatic to the dynamic. Gurdjieff’s teaching about affirming, denying, and reconciling forces is discussed. The drama triangle positions (victim, persecutor, rescuer) are a way of staying stuck. The most powerful transformative influence in life is subtle, when there are others in the environment who see what someone is up to. Are our communications kind, useful, necessary, and true? Bandhu is author of Creative Life and an internationally recognized glass artist and teacher.
Escape From the General Law (Red Hawk)
Nov 3 2022
Escape From the General Law (Red Hawk)
The first three “obligolnian strivings” referred to in the Gurdjieff Work are the strivings for what is needed for the planetary body, for perfection of the being (which has two qualities, presence and attention), and for understanding of world creation and maintenance. It is said that we are rigidly governed by 48 laws on Earth, so that almost everything we do is mechanical and automatic. The nature of the General Law is that all beings feed on those levels below them and are fed upon by those above them in scale. There is a great need for organic life to produce mechanical energy. Humans react with negative emotions, which are vacuumed up, consumed, and transmuted by Great Nature to achieve mechanical equilibrium. So what can I do to avoid mechanical death and die more consciously? We are buffered from seeing the reality of our position on Earth when we have the view that thinking about death is morbid, frightening, depressing, pointless. The difference between mechanical and conscious death lies exclusively on the quality and stability of attention. We can radiate a more conscious and finer energy which feeds the being and helps evolution, which goes up the ray of creation back to its source. We work to serve beings higher than us and in so doing can develop a conscious soul. To escape the General Law, we have to remember to bring attention to the present moment by remembering and observing ourselves, which can make us subject to fewer laws. When we remember ourselves we begin at zero. The “me” we believe ourselves to be is composed of identification and imagination. We have a limited range of postures, which promote mechanical unconscious thoughts and emotions. Erect posture is awakening. Breath is always and only present. Reminding factors are discussed. Red Hawk is an acclaimed poet and the author of twelve books, including Self Observation, Self Remembering, The Way of the Wise Woman, and Return to the Mother.
The Obstacle Is the Path (Chris McMaster and Debbie Hogeland-Celebucki)
Oct 20 2022
The Obstacle Is the Path (Chris McMaster and Debbie Hogeland-Celebucki)
“The obstacle is the path” is a Zen proverb. Usually when we encounter obstacles we go around them. But on the spiritual path the only way around is through. Our neuroses can be obstacles. Our work with them is but 1% of the process even if it feels like a huge amount to us; the other 99% comes from grace. We don’t have to fix neurosis, which is just energy that can be used for transformation. Every neurotic manifestation has a complement which can be transformed into something that serves. We can bring practice to every form our lives take. At the heart of practice is to live with kindness, generosity, and compassion. How we relate with our obstacles is key, so having compassion for ourselves is important. We can experience grace even if we don’t believe in God, however we conceive of that. Things that feel so big to us are really not that big to the universe. When we make small steps the universe responds. We’re good at hiding from our obstacles or neuroses. We can ask ourselves, “What is it that owns me right now?” It is important to see, be curious and intimate with our obstacles without judgment, which is the practice of self-observation. What we do internally has an impact on the world. To be inwardly active and outwardly passive, without acting out, builds a lot of energy. Most people are caught between the inspiration for spiritual transformation and the movement of ego. Over time, if we continue right action, we begin to convey to ego that we won’t be manipulated or controlled. What we want ego to do is to put its power in service to right action. Chris is a co-author of The Conscious Parenting Workbook whose practice includes work as a personal chef and nanny. Debbie is an advocate for the wisdom of community and conscious parenting and the author of Widening the Circle: Inspiration and Guidance for Community Living.
We’ll Never Be Prepared for Life—We Might as Well Start Living It (Rick Lewis)
Oct 6 2022
We’ll Never Be Prepared for Life—We Might as Well Start Living It (Rick Lewis)
The same energy we pour into attempting to prepare for and control life can be applied to serving a vision, helping others, and our spiritual development. Rick speaks about having the trajectory of his life interrupted by the pandemic after having worked as a keynote speaker in the events industry for twenty-five years. He talks about his experience of continuity of place and relationship with his family that had not occurred before. When preparation for something is not possible, presence or panic has to take its place. We can be impacted in unexpected ways if we say yes and move in directions that come to us that we are not prepared for, when we do not just follow the usual script. Rick describes the way he has been affected by contact with women inmates after being invited to write to them. He poses a writing exercise that those attending the talk engage in by writing about things they are ignoring or avoiding. We deepen our suffering when we ignore it. Avoiding makes sense at times, but there is often a blanket avoidance of things that makes us uncomfortable. We can consider what we might embrace rather than avoid. It is possible to be in prison and not be behind bars, or to be behind bars and be free in spirit. We are imprisoned by our stories, the narratives about ourselves that we hold on to. When we question what we are ignoring or avoiding, the body will attempt to reclaim our being. The point of spiritual life can be seen as doing what is wanted and needed, but our stories can steer us away from this. The only way we can do what is wanted and needed is if we are free to do so. Rick is a national speaker and author who has coached and inspired many individuals in personal and professional growth. He is the author of numerous books, including 7 Rules You Were Born to Break, The Perfection of Nothing, and You Have the Right to Remain Silent.
The Recognition of Our Heart (Karen Sprute-Francovich)
Sep 22 2022
The Recognition of Our Heart (Karen Sprute-Francovich)
This talk involves a discussion of the relevance in our lives of the Pratyabhijna Hridaya, a sutra text written about 1,000 years ago during a flowering of practice and tantra in India. It was written in Sanskrit and contains twenty sutras, which are short statements or pearls of spiritual wisdom. It rests on the view that manifestation arises out of consciousness which steps itself down into form. Many in the West have the experience of growing up and learning that we are not enough and so constantly strive for improvement. But we suffer when we identify with our limited circumstances. The path of spiritual and yogic practice can loosen misidentifications and bring us to recognize our heart, our real identity as the whole in every part. We can open to Grace, possibility, and undivided love as well as purification. The first sutra in a sutra text generally contains the whole transmission. Feminine pronouns are used in this sutra text which is in keeping with its tantric roots. The Goddess of awareness overflows into form, which expresses itself in the multiplicities of creation which are never separate from their source. We are each an aperture through which the universe is looking at and exploring itself. Every perspective is necessarily partial and limited to an unknown degree. Contraction becomes so dense by sutra nine that there is no remembrance of connection to the whole. Sutra ten begins the great path of return. All the players in myths are us. Instead of running away from parts ourselves, we can see everything as an aspect of the Goddess with “jaw-dropping wonder.” Sacred texts are alive, and classic ways of studying them are discussed. We can recognize truth in ordinary life, but we remember and we forget… Karen is a teacher of all the aspects of Yoga--the physical and philosophical, the scientific and the mystical. She is a long-time student of Lee Lozowick.
Timing Is Everything: Opening to Windows of Opportunity in Life and on the Path (Vijaya Fedorschak)
Sep 8 2022
Timing Is Everything: Opening to Windows of Opportunity in Life and on the Path (Vijaya Fedorschak)
We tend to think of time as a constant, but it’s not immutable. Our three-dimensional perceptions of time and space are limited. As our understanding of the universe has evolved, we’ve learned that the faster we move through space or the more gravitational pull we are under, the slower time goes. The hermetic spiritual principle “as above, so below” posits that smaller systems like our bodies are miniature versions of a larger system like the universe and that by understanding the body we understand the universe. Something is drawing us to align with the movement of the universe. But we try to create our own outcomes and resist reality in the belief that we are separate beings. Being one with reality may be the state of ever present peace. When we loosen resistance we open to what else there is beyond our limited perspective. We can’t separate the movement and timing of things. Windows of opportunity come on the universe’s timing and are completely unexpected. We can then find ourselves at a crossroads and the trajectory of our life can change depending on the choice we seem to make. It’s useful to learn not to be impulsive and also not to procrastinate when opportunities to grow come to us. Such opportunities may continue to present themselves in the future but perhaps not in this lifetime. Our relationship to time really says a lot. If we intend to be of service to others, we have to consider if the timing is right. It’s possible that time does not exist traveling at light speed or in a black hole. Time may seem to stop for us as well—for example, in true meditation or in deep sleep. But losing our reference points in time may be very threatening to ego, to a self-sense that exists in space-time. There is presence and being when the thinking mind stops. We can learn to follow what feels right. VJ is the organizer of the Western Baul Podcast Series and the author of Shadow on the Path and Father and Son.
Fourth Way Magic: How Hermetic and Indigenous Traditions Interface with the Gurdjieff Work (Rob Schmidt and Stuart Goodnick)
Aug 25 2022
Fourth Way Magic: How Hermetic and Indigenous Traditions Interface with the Gurdjieff Work (Rob Schmidt and Stuart Goodnick)
The Fourth Way is a Western spiritual tradition founded by George Gurdjieff, a mystic of Greek and Armenian origin who taught in Russia, Europe, and America and died in 1949. The system he developed out of his own spiritual search which is shrouded in mystery was completely unique and geared toward working with a modern mindset of “waking sleep” in the West. The Gurdjieff Foundation purports to be the holder of his legacy which in some ways may be true and in others not. It has often been considered to be humorless and dogmatically committed to a rigid system of practices and ideas which, when this has been the case, ignores Gurdjieff’s own flexibility ranging from playfulness to seriousness. Approaching the spiritual path as a smorgasbord of different traditions does not support the deepening of transformational opportunity. There is value in both going deeply into one tradition and in being open to exploring and integrating teachings of other traditions, including indigenous paths, from one’s foundation in a tradition. Life provides opportunities for us to grow in unexpected ways. To learn from indigenous traditions that we are not culturally attuned to, we must be passive and let go of our ideas and judgments about the spiritual process. The power of ritual and of western hermetic and indigenous teachings, including West African and native Californian, are considered in this talk. The speakers discuss how these traditions have enriched and expanded upon the indispensable foundation they have in Fourth Way work. Rob and Stuart are the spiritual directors of the Tayu Meditation Center. They are students of Robert Daniel Ennis, who died in 1998, and owners of Many Rivers Books and Tea in Sebastopol, CA. They have hosted 400 episodes of The Mystical Positivist, a radio show which broadcasts conversations with practitioners of different traditions.
Stop the World, I Want to Get Off (Regina Sara Ryan)
Aug 11 2022
Stop the World, I Want to Get Off (Regina Sara Ryan)
Many of us feel that we want to stop the world and get off given the suffering that we see all around. But without conflict and adversity, how would we have the opportunity to practice compassion? And where would we go if we got off? There is the implication that there is a place to go away from “what is.” It’s useful to look at our escape fantasies. While resistance is sometimes demonized on the path, it is a normal part of life. What is the world that we want to stop? We are in and out of worlds of our own creation all day long. The question on the spiritual path is about stopping the world-making mind. Our worlds can be about overwhelm, “never enough,” taking things personally, giving our power away, being a victim, or renewal and new beginnings. We want to get off the world in times of great suffering. There is no way to avoid making our worlds. Responsibility comes into play when we see how we are creating them. It can be useful to stop, step away and take a whole new perspective on our worlds. Sometimes getting off is what we need to be with the unknown. Some types of shock (falling in love, the death of a loved one) can stop the world and be used either for or against growth. We can stop the world with breath, putting attention on the sensations of the body in the present, or saying the name of God. As soon as we notice a hook, we have identified with a self and a world we’re creating. Since this is the world we are in, we can choose to be here. Self-absorption is never the source of real happiness. Why have we come to earth? To love, serve, and remember. 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.
Basic Trust: The Soul’s Key to Being (Peter Cohen)
Jul 28 2022
Basic Trust: The Soul’s Key to Being (Peter Cohen)
Basic trust is a term used by A.H. Almaas. It manifests as the willingness to leap into the unknown. Basic trust is different than our ordinary sense of trust that is dependent on external circumstances. It is an implicit trust that reality is ultimately good, that the universe will take care of us, that everything is OK and that what is optimal will happen. Almost no one has this basic trust--though some have more of a taste of it than others. One definition for enlightenment could be perfect basic trust. All activities of ego are evidence of a lack of perfect basic trust, a sense that we have to strategize and manipulate to get our needs met. The solution is not to strive for it, which can be just another form of the striving that is constantly manifesting in life. The paradigm of cause and effect and that we are the author of our choices and actions is an illusion from the perspective of nonduality, which can be considered as the "independent co-arising of phenomena" in Buddhism. The (theistic or non-theistic) view that all phenomena arises interdependently, that everything is being done regardless of us, can be comforting or threatening depending on whether we are trying to preserve our identity as a separate doer. So what is the role of personal responsibility? How can all the apparently horrible things that happen in the world be reconciled with basic trust? Who is it in us that can be trusted? Some statements from great spiritual masters on trusting God or the totality are considered. Peter was the drummer for the Western Baul rock band, Liars, Gods, and Beggars from 1988 to 1994. He is a spiritual practitioner who has followed the nondual path and rhythm of life in Alaska and Idaho as a nurse and a musician.
Kneel and Kiss the Ground: The Poetics of Presence and Purpose (Mary Angelon Young)
Jul 14 2022
Kneel and Kiss the Ground: The Poetics of Presence and Purpose (Mary Angelon Young)
“There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.” This is the last line of one of Rumi’s poems. Fear, anxiety and grief are natural responses to the world as-it-is, which is full of poison and full of nectar. There are 3 ways of working with the poison of today’s world: we can reject it, we can gorge ourselves without discrimination, or we can partake in healthy doses through the discernment of a middle path. When at a crossroads, the unknown requires us to be fluid and shapeshift. We can hold the tension between what Jung called the spirit of the depths and the spirit of the times in an alchemical process. If our diets are too pure, we can become rigid and weaken ourselves. If we don’t live with reality, reality will come to live with us. The more we practice being present with reality as-it-is, the greater our capacity for life and the more we become a healing balm for the world. Wonder makes us bigger; it stretches us and puts us in a receptive state, ready to experience the unknown. Six qualities of wonder are openness, curiosity, bewilderment, hope, connection, and admiration or praise. Communitas refers to community taken to a deeper level, typically associated with the presence of the divine. We can be inspired by other people’s strengths. If we want to make sure the path we are on is the right path, then we have to be willing to get lost. What if there’s wisdom in staying with grief, which does the work so that we can see and think and embrace each other differently? Sometimes the only way we will ever kneel and kiss the ground is if we are brought to our knees. Angelon 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, and The Art of Contemplation.
Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want to Be in Relationship? (Matthew Files)
Jun 30 2022
Do You Want to Be Right or Do You Want to Be in Relationship? (Matthew Files)
A difficulty that shows up in relationship is not voicing our considerations to another person. If we don’t speak such things, we may stop talking and lose affinity. The quality of relationship does not depend on the circumstances or the content of the relationship. It depends on what we create, the promise we make about it. There is often an assumption that there is a problem if we disagree about things, but the disagreement can be there without affecting the overall quality of the relationship. When there is disagreement, we can engage each other—unless one person is committed to being right and is not interested in listening and conversation. Being with what comes up in relationship takes training, practice, and effort and is different than trying to fix it. Werner Erhard described relationship as a clearing where love can show up. This can happen in any relationship. Transformation is very different than change, which is connected to the past. It has to do with not living by our history. There is power in promising or committing to produce what’s missing in relationship. We can create the space for trust to show up, rather than needing a person to prove they are trustworthy. We can also train ourselves to communicate in a way that doesn’t bring about defensiveness. When there’s affinity, mistakes can be seen as mistakes and not an indication of untrustworthiness. Communication creates affinity, which comes through sharing about things that matter. Matthew facilitates groups that support people to look deeper into their process, formulate their own questions, and become responsible for their choices.
The Benefit of Good Company on the Spiritual Path (Tom Lennon)
Jun 16 2022
The Benefit of Good Company on the Spiritual Path (Tom Lennon)
Good company is that which we experience with those companions who are a beacon of light by nature of their vision, commitment, practice, enduring love, and personal sacrifice. It feeds our deepest essence and longing and can keep reminding us of what the necessity is in our lives. Good company is a mood, a context that creates and sustains an energetic field that is necessary for any work on the path. It is an experience of the nature of elegance, service, kindness, compassion, and generosity and of being with those who are reliable about these commitments. We can derive great benefit from those who care enough to tell us the truth, as can happen in 12 Step groups. We need to find our own answers, but we cannot do it alone. We don’t remove ourselves from loving relationship with others who are not good company, who do not share our purpose and commitment; we just don’t associate with them as much as we used to. Relationship exists with ourselves, others, and a power greater than ourselves. We can observe ourselves--the way we are--without judgment. We all have buffers that protect us and our survival strategies, which keep us from observing what we don’t know about ourselves. In good company, interpersonal conflicts can be engaged in a loving, pragmatic way that encourages self-honesty. With attention to our thoughts, they begin to lose their control over us. We are not always good company for ourselves, but the more we are the more we can be that for others. Spiritual life is like being in a foreign land where we chance upon each other, take the opportunity to relish a few moments together, and speak of longing for our home. Tom Lennon, Ph.D., is a cultural resource consultant with a deep interest in environmental conflict resolution. He leads groups with the intention of supporting the spiritual process in others.
War: What Is It Good For? (Bandhu Dunham)
Jun 2 2022
War: What Is It Good For? (Bandhu Dunham)
When there is misunderstanding, hostility, and aggression, the question is, “Why?” We would like to think that we are not capable of such things as occur in war, but we can consider that “what’s going on out there is what’s going on in here.” There are qualities such as vigilance that are needed in war that are also needed in spiritual work. A feeling of self-righteousness tends to go along with aggression; it can be like being possessed. The practice of self-observation is perhaps the most powerful thing we can do in our work. Internal conflict is a universal experience. One way to appease ego is to project our conflict onto others; then we don’t have to think about the negativity in ourselves. We tend to seek the resolution of a final solution, which can make us easy to manipulate. The way to try to build a world without war is to take responsibility for our aggression and be the change that we want to see. It can be helpful to recognize that much of what we feel may come from the world outside of us. Also, hurts that we’ve buried from childhood can continue to have power over us. We can rely on our practice—whatever that is for us—to help us get through. In this way, we can become more sensitive to subtle forms of aggression. Aggression can arise out of fear. If we’re going to evolve, we have to be vulnerable, present with fear, willing to endure discomfort with others who are different from us. We have more opportunity to practice at times when things are not going smoothly. Self-observation is about becoming conscious and out of consciousness, our choices change. If our hearts are connected to the suffering of others, it gives us a bigger view and keeps our reactions in perspective. The real way of a warrior is to prevent slaughter; it’s the art of peace. Bandhu is author of Creative Life and an internationally recognized glass artist and teacher.
Cultivating Spiritual Maturity: An Honest Look at Our Commitments (Lalitha)
May 19 2022
Cultivating Spiritual Maturity: An Honest Look at Our Commitments (Lalitha)
We’ve got to have necessity to cultivate spiritual maturity. The foundation that we need for maturing is always being built stronger. What do we expect from our spiritual practice? What are we willing to pay for it in terms of our attention, time, and necessity? When we cultivate spiritual maturity, we open up senses we don’t even know we have and develop the capacity to “eat” the “substance” of necessity. What kind of risk can we sustain—not to our life—but to our comfort zones, beliefs, opinions? We may say ‘no’ to many things, but we can say ‘yes’ to a one-pointed aim up until our last breath. We become a bit alchemical as one substance (ourselves) changes into another. The universe will not take us seriously unless we take our sadhana (spiritual work) seriously. It can also be helpful to find something to do that delights us and to develop being rather than doing. We can work with the mantra, “I welcome that which You would have me serve. I welcome that which You would have serve me.” We can develop three things to increase our capacity: holding our seat, being invisible, living long and strong. At some point we will need help, as in any artful endeavor. We could look around, relate to, and “borrow” from those who have a practice that has produced fruit such as wisdom, being, and common sense. We want to deepen our practice but don’t really want to change. The teacher-student relationship is a type of apprenticeship. What most people call the “guru within” is the voice of our comfort zone. Good company is priceless and can help us to refresh the stagnant condition of our comfort zone. Lalitha is a spiritual teacher residing in British Columbia, Canada, who has been a disciple of the Western Baul Master, Lee Lozowick, since 1982. Her teaching style is rooted in the activities and responsibilities of ordinary life. Her most recent books are Waking to Ordinary Life and Cultivating Spiritual Maturity.
Writing as a Transformational Path (Mary Angelon Young and Regina Sara Ryan)
May 5 2022
Writing as a Transformational Path (Mary Angelon Young and Regina Sara Ryan)
Writing is an inroad into our deepest self. Sometimes it is painful because we all have wounds and obstacles that we work with over a lifetime. There is a healing quality to writing—we can tell the truth about our experience. Developing or honing a writing practice, whether we are skilled writers or not, is an invaluable means of telling our stories and bringing greater objectivity and insight into our journeys. If we can fully digest and integrate our experience, it becomes wisdom. When we write we take refuge in our creativity. We can tap into a flow of life that opens doors to wonder and a direct experience of reality. We find out that we know things, that there’s wisdom in us that we didn’t know was there. Writing can ground us in times of change and uncertainty. It can bring us into the present moment and be a vehicle for finding our own voice. A blank page and a prompt to write about something can affect our mood, clarity, devotion, and intention. Writing can unfold and fan the fire of our love; it can articulate the deepest need of the heart. Two writing exercises are offered in this presentation. Participants list pairs of opposites in their lives given that the tension between opposites is alchemical. They also write prayers for the world. The consideration is made that writing can have the same transformational possibility as prayer. Angelon and Regina are editors, workshop leaders, and authors who have written extensively about the spiritual path. Angelon’s books include As It Is, Under the Punnai Tree, Enlightened Duality (with Lee Lozowick), and The Art of Contemplation. Regina’s books include Only God, The Woman Awake, Praying Dangerously, and Igniting the Inner Life.
Living From Paradox (Juanita Violini)
Apr 21 2022
Living From Paradox (Juanita Violini)
We live in the world of duality, the linear world of opposites, and non-duality, the non-linear world of unity outside of time and space. Paradox is when two things seem to contradict each other but are both true. In order to grow, we need to be comfortable with paradox, embrace it and live from it. Paradox holds the key that shows us that life works if we let it. Duality is both real and illusion. When we view duality from paradox it allows us not to identify with what is happening in duality and for a much more magical existence than we ever could have imagined to unfold. Suffering occurs when we view duality from within duality. Paradox is something that the rational mind cannot understand, but it can be understood prior to mind. Practical examples of family and work situations are discussed which make these principles useful and not just theoretical. We can experiment and be responsible in duality, take a step in the direction we want to go in, see what comes back to us, and then take the next step. We stay stuck in duality by defining ourselves, identifying with emotions, being attached to what we want, and comparing ourselves. We can commit to something fully until it’s obvious it’s time not to commit to it any more. Rumi said that we are not a drop of the ocean, we are the entire ocean in a drop. Without people like Rumi, this could be just philosophy. Every part of a hologram contains the entire image in it. When we pause from identifying with emotions and remember we are connected, suffering can become overwhelming love. Juanita is an artist and writer/producer of interactive mystery entertainment. She has been a student of the spiritual path for over 35 years.
Hospitality: The Practice and the Art (Regina Sara Ryan)
Mar 31 2022
Hospitality: The Practice and the Art (Regina Sara Ryan)
True hospitality is emotionally powerful and touches something very deep in us. As hosts, we drop mechanicality about how we should do something and are present. A statement by the teacher EJ Gold is discussed: “Hospitality is the greatest law given to man. If he knew how to obey this one law he could overcome his imperfections.” It is not limited to food or drink, but also involves giving our attention and time for energetic exchange. The highest law in the Moslem tradition is hospitality. Hostellers who provided hospitality in Christian monasteries were chosen for their understanding that they were welcoming visitors as the great Guest. The Indian Master Papa Ramdas spoke about welcoming everything in the form of Ram (an incarnation of the Divine), which includes suffering. A Buddhist view is that there is no individual self and so the guest is not other than who we are. It’s not just hospitality to a person or group that we offer; it’s hospitality to life. We are offered hospitality by Mother Earth. If we do not recognize our role as guests we are not in alignment with the law since we are not in relationship to what is. Law in this sense refers to the way the universe works. The consideration of hospitality has the possibility of leading us to a complete shift of context in our lives. Regina is the editor of Hohm Press, a workshop leader, retreat guide, former Catholic nun, and author of The Woman Awake, Igniting the Inner Life, Praying Dangerously, Only God and other books.
Using Death as an Advisor: What Death Can Teach Us About Living (Vijaya Fedorschak)
Mar 17 2022
Using Death as an Advisor: What Death Can Teach Us About Living (Vijaya Fedorschak)
This talk references teachings from the writings of Carlos Castaneda and material from the book The Five Invitations by Frank Ostaseski. Holding on to things goes against nature since everything ends. In our culture, we seek to have death affect us as little as possible. Another option is to look at and show up for death when it crosses our path so that it informs our lives. If we push death away, transformation is not possible. Suzuki Roshi said, “We die, and we do not die.” How are we to understand this? On one level we are terrified of death and on another we encourage it. We can practice with little deaths, with accepting what is, relaxing ego, and acting as needed every day. Stories are recounted which illustrate the five invitations: don’t wait, welcome everything, bring your whole self, find a place of rest in the middle of things, and cultivate don’t know mind. Any consideration about avoiding dying raises the consideration of avoiding living. Our problem is that we think we have time. Are we holding on to something which keeps us from forgiving? How do we hold back from giving our whole self to life? Through loss, feelings of love become transformative. When we surrender to grief, we learn to give ourselves to life. People who are dying offer us a great gift. It’s too important to wait until the last moment to contemplate the mystery of death. VJ is the organizer of the Western Baul Podcast Series and author of Shadow on the Path and Father and Son.
Grace and Mercy: Return of the Goddess (Angelon Young)
Mar 3 2022
Grace and Mercy: Return of the Goddess (Angelon Young)
It is difficult for us to relate to cosmic forces and energies, and so it is useful to see them personified in human form. Myth helps us to make the leap from ego, from our small window on the world, to a much bigger reality. In the Hindu tradition (as in others including the Celtic tradition), the Divine is inclusive of three primal forces—creation, preservation, and destruction. These forces are associated with the three primary deities in the Hindu pantheon and their shaktis without whom they can do nothing: Brahma and Saraswati, Vishnu and Lakshmi, and Shiva and Parvati, who assumes different forms such as Durga and Kali. During the nine-day celebration of Durga Navaratri, different aspects of the Goddess are worshipped. The Egyptian myth of Isis and Osiris and the myths associated with Black Sarah in France and Smashan Tara in Tarapith, India are discussed. The Goddess brings us to work with our unconsciousness and to embody what we have learned because she is us and we are her. Grace and mercy is everywhere, moving us toward the totality of awakened oneness that always exists. There is a healing power in darkness, which is why deities are sometimes represented as dark-skinned. A seed will not sprout if not in darkness. We have been trained to avoid the unknown, but we can invite the Goddess into our lives. The message of the Goddess is to be fearless even when there is fear. Angelon is a workshop leader, 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, and The Art of Contemplation.