060. Raven Mahosadha

Raven MahosadhaRaven Mahosadha was born in 1960 in Lexington, Kentucky. Since leaving Kentucky at age 18, he has lived and worked in various places throughout the United States, including Chicago and the San Francisco Bay Area. He currently lives in Tucson, Arizona. He is trained as a clinical psychotherapist. He is now retired from providing traditional psychotherapy to clients and now maintains a spiritual counseling practice in Tucson. He refers to himself as a teacher of conscious living. Raven sees this as an expression of teaching and and counseling work that incorporates some elements of traditional psychotherapy with the addition of transpersonal, engaged Buddhist and Sacred Activism elements. Raven views Thich Nhat Hanh as the most influential teacher of his life. He also counts Ammachi or Amma (the hugging saint) and Eckhart Tolle among those whom he has been most profoundly influenced and positively impacted by. Raven is a black man and is an openly queer man and sees all the experiences that could be labeled as both “positive” or “negative” as a result, as contributing significantly to any awakened nature he has obtained. The clearest expression of awakened nature Raven believes he has gained is the imperative to be of service to all living Beings (including himself) in the most complete ways he is able and the insight that there are always new emerging ways to learn to be of service. Everything else is secondary.

Raven’s blog

Interview recorded 3/6/2011.

Audio and video below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

16 thoughts on “060. Raven Mahosadha

  1. So that’s your idea of a “simple” math problem :-)

    This is Raven Mahosadha here. Well, that was a somewhat humorous experience listening to that for the first time.

    I also realized I failed to give my website. My main website right now is also my primary blog and that URL is: http://ravenanda.blogspot.com/. I believe this blog continues to further the impression that I am not approaching this “awakening” stuff from a place that can really be seen as conventional or “popular” in the sense of what I am imagining people have typically come to expect from such a site.

    One of the things that stood out for me in listening to the audio here is that I really was resistant to answering your question Rick about what I believe you called objective evidence of some kind of awakening experience or to put words to an “internal” shift; explain to you and also for anyone who might listen to the audio and/or view the video what I believed that looked or felt like for me.

    As you know Rick, I contacted you shortly after this taping (via email) to state that one of the principal reasons for my reticence there was a desire to avoid giving people something to grasp onto. Mostly my concern was saying something that people could bookmark in their head as something that they could convince themselves of as some kind “proof” of an authentic awakening experience. I guess someone could also listen to any concrete response I gave and also conclude something along the lines of, “that’s crazy. Surely *that* can’t be it; that can’t be all that awakening is.” Perhaps I was selling the people who visit the various media epressions of “Buddha at the gas pump” short. That was not my intent. Rather, I really do have a sense that far too much emphasis is placed on having this or that interpretation of what the objective evidence of awakening is–I started to live each day fully present to the present moment; I became aware of a conscious connection between myself and all other life and was no longer the little me anymore. The “I” disappeared, etc.

    So much of my life, spiritual and otherwise, has been about breaking existing paradigms and forging my own path hopefully guided by authenticity, integrity an humility. So I was indeed resistant to answering your question–reasonable and important as I see that question as being–because I really did not want to continue to perpetuate the paradigm I see within various spiritual seekers and spiritual communities that seem to want to reduce something that in many ways is quite unique and perhaps even ineffable to a recipe with specific ingredients that when followed properly bring forth the same results without fail.

    That all being said, upon reflection, if I were given the opportunity to answer the question now, I know what I would say. I would report that the clearest objective evidence of my having some sort of awakened consciousness is my unwavering commitment to being of service to my fellow humans. I would say that total commitment to a life of service to humankind and a dedication to demonstrate this in all my actions, is the evidence. That, I believe, is the most authentic and useful answer I can give.


  2. Once again, thanks to Rick and Raven for a fascinating discussion, and an incredible story of personal evolution. For me, I was especially interested in the dialogue around the question: can there be an objective, empirical definition of awakening, enlightenment, self-realization, cosmic-consciousness, non-dual experience, or whichever of the seemingly countless names one chooses to give it, and how can it be put into an evolutionary context, as a never-ending process, rather than some definable end-state of being?

    I suppose, perhaps the simplest definition could be: a state of attaining freedom from suffering — or to paraphrase Raven: a state where external circumstances no longer have any power over one’s inner experience of life.

    However, for the sake of diversity and complexity, let me offer a somewhat more left-brained and long-winded (lol) approach to answering the question: what’s up with awakening?

    Definition: Non-dual experience = Source/Creator consciously evolving as the cosmos/creation

    As such, in that state of being, Source and Cosmos (All That Is) can not exist as dualistic, separate, independent aspects, but only as complimentary, interdependent aspects: i.e. one is inherent within the other. This could also be seen as Tao existing as the dance of yin and yang.

    In terms of physics, Source would be the vacuum state of pure potential being/energy, while the cosmos is the manifest universe, both physical and metaphysical, ever-evolving into greater novelty, diversity and complexity, through a theoretically quantifiable series of graduated stages and/or dimensions.

    In a way that we are now only beginning to comprehend, the cosmos, manifesting from Source (the ground of being), as an evolutionary imperative (let’s call it God’s own ‘die or evolve’ moment), evolves and develops through progressive stages of dimensionality, from un-consciousness (matter), to cellular-consciousness, to self-consciousness, to integral-consciousness, and no doubt beyond, as an information gathering system, that within a finite feedback loop governed by inherent universal forces and laws, perpetually crosses the event horizon and returns to Source, which then, taking new information and processing it within the vacuum state of pure potential being, returns it into the cosmos, recreating the process anew, in every moment. Furthermore, there can be no conceivable end to this evolutionary process.

    These finite feedback loops, could be seen as black-hole/white-hole vortexes of creation, like the ‘big bang’ itself, virtually infinite in number, that exist at every scale of creation, be it quantum, molecular, cellular, human, planetary, stars, solar systems, galactic systems, multi-verses and so on, all nested within one another. Indeed, any finite operating system, including a human body-mind, is essentially one of these energy vortexes, or information processors, continuously moving, developing, inter-acting and learning in multi-dimensional space-time, as a result of its evolutionary imperative.

    In this context, so-called enlightenment, awakening, or self-realization, could then be seen as the inevitable result of the human body-mind following its own evolutionary imperative, through specific developmental stages, from un-consciousness to integral-consciousness, and beyond. As such, the non-dual, one-with-the-universe experience, we call true-self realization, or cosmic consciousness, could then be seen as a self-conscious being, having undergone countless cycles of information processing, returning to its Source through the body-mind’s event horizon, while maintaining self-awareness. The self then identifies with Source, wherein the subject/object dichotomy dissolves, and thereby becomes aware of itself as the whole evolving system. Of course, this would not be some final goal or destination, but rather just another phase of a continuous, and possibly never-ending, evolutionary process, as the system is never static or complete. Ultimately, it must continue to learn, develop and evolve into ever more novel, complex, multi-dimensional feedback systems. In other words, the awakening event is not some end-state of being, but, on the contrary, it is just another beginning: a birthing, so to speak, as a new species of being, whose next true purpose and function has only just begun, as it starts another journey on the continuum of awakening, into the unknown.

    Of course, there’s the whole unconditional love and compassion aspect to this process that I am intentionally avoiding, for the sake of brevity (ha, ha), and because perhaps that’s best left to poetry and more intuitive ponderings.

    But that’s enough of that!


  3. That was a great explanation! Thank you! I like and resonate with what you said. I also appreciated the Source with an upper case “S” Are you sure you don’t want to try your hand at an original unconditional love poem here.? You seem to be on a wonderful roll here :-)

  4. LOL … thanks Raven for the kind words. Perhaps the love poem is for another forum. It would certainly be more twitter-friendly ;-)


  5. I want to add a clarification/correction related to something I reported in this interview. I stated that when I left my job, gave everything away, including my life savings and embarked on what I termed my “pilgrimage” I have given away approx $50,000. In reality that was the approx. value amount when vehicles and other possessions are included. I believe I was being specifically about the amount of cash though. In that case we are talking amount half that amount or approx. $25,000.

  6. I really have little experience in my more recent life in doing things like this interview. So its not surprising to me that as I listened to the interview now I am realizing so many things I could have explained or elaborated on more clearly that because of nervousness, inexperience or something, I didn’t do. Now, I realize it would not be good for me to address all of those instances here in the comment section. So I have to pick and choose. I have to look at which ones I believe really add significant substance and understanding to my journey and how I believe my life has unfolded. So there are two additions I believe meet that criteria.

    So first, is a clarification about the spiritual significance of my involvement in the catholic church in my youth up until age 16. Watching the video one may get the impression that the sensate nature of the catholic liturgy–the fancy vestments the priests wore, the prayers, the incense, the general pageantry and ritual of the mass were merely superficial entertainments for me. That was not the case. As a child I found almost all of these elements to be extremely meaningful and important to my spiritual and inner development. I dare say, my path toward enlightenment would have been far more delayed if not for these elements. Keep in mind that catholic mystics and saints for nearly 2 thousand years have been inspired to great mystical and inner heights through these very same elements I was exposed to in my youth via the catholic mass. These things were not superficial experiences to me at all. I was very consciously aware of the fact that all of my senses were being engaged during the catholic liturgy. And they were all being engaged in a way that I experienced as bringing me directly closer to God. This was especially true between the ages of 16 and 18 when I entered the seminary. I want it to be understood that my experience of the catholic mass in my childhood, especially my teen aged years was an experience of my having direct communion with the divine. Nothing less. The sites and smells and pageantry added to the “theater” of it all. But that was just the overlay. Underneath, for me, the liturgy represented mystical communion as I then knew it. All these years later I am still able to appreciate it in exactly the same way.

    Second, another way my entrance into the BDSM world became a concrete and conscious spiritual experience for me is that by the time I entered the BDSM world I was already aware that most of us are playing roles in life; we are all wearing some sort of masks; we are not being honest about who we truly are. But its usually unconscious. So I entered the BDSM world–a world where everyone *consciously* wears masks and assumes roles. I knew that by fully putting on that mask and playing the role (I mostly had the role of BDSM Dominant) that I would also, by necessity, be deconstructing my unconscious or semi-unconscious masks and roles in the process. And I knew this was an aspect of the awakened nature–the deconstructing of unconscious masks or…the making conscious the unconscious masks or bringing them to light and being forced to deal with this kind of nakedness. BDSM forces any serious practitioner to do this because by not doing this, particularly if one is a Dominant, injury or death could occur. Part of what I am saying here is that entering a world as extreme as the BDSM world requires looking at oneself very deeply and very honestly and unmasking to a very deep degree. As a Dominant, my subs life could literally depend on my knowing myself well enough to control the arc of the whip, for example, as to not cause injury to the sub. I could not lose myself to anger or many other emotions. I had to have the focus of a Zen Master. That is not an exaggeration. If one removes themselves enough from whatever biases one may have about the BDSM lifestyle itself, I believe it becomes easy to see how involvement in such a world can be quite the spiritual journey because it requires a rawness and brutal honestly with oneself that is not normally achieved, for most people, in the everyday pedestrian life.

  7. I will listen to the intreview, and check the blog a bit
    carefully- some people think we can read much,
    there is too much information in the world.

    but about maskes; people know they are
    wearing masks so that is not new if they
    could they will shade them.
    i am just bissed by the awakend wpecially
    the nonduality punch saying why
    cant they do it.

    there is no one size fit all like rick said.
    now you made it you should be glad.
    if you have any means to help
    is fine, other than that you must
    keep silent like winkestein –
    the german jewish philospher.
    no hostility there i am prejudging so
    i go back to the blog and
    see if you are comming with somthing new
    or it is just for you only.
    sorry brother or rather you dont
    need my sorry you are free bird.

  8. I want to briefly speak of an experience I believe to be connected to some aspect of the awakening experience. It feels important for me to mention it here. Since I do not believe awakening or enlightenment is a destination, in the sense that the mind most likely defines “destination” I want to say that I have no idea at what point on the continuum of the potentially ever deepening experience of awakening this experience I wish to mention occurs.

    Along with any awakening experience I have experience came a powerful experience of emotionality. This makes sense to me since our emotions are multi-faceted parts of every aspect of ourselves—true or otherwise.

    The emotional sensitivity and rawness I have experienced has absolutely in no way been at all confined to any set of emotions that in any way could be considered “positive.” I have also, for example, never experienced rage in the way I have experienced it after what I believe to have been a perceptual leap in awareness, This was both shocking and horrifying to me at first.

    So what I am speaking to is a complete and thorough supercharge to the emotional center and everything around it. I found I needed to keep a journal just to have a regular, reliable and non human outlet for many of my emotional meanderings.

    Slowly, I realized that that which felt like a curse at first was more like a light bulb being turned on inside of me. This is a good analogy because I do believe what is occurring is an energetic process of some sort. And energy must be released at some point until it is understood how it can be harnessed appropriately and relatively safely.

    So, if there is anything I would warn someone to be prepared for who may experience anything you believe to be an awakening experience of any sort it would be this unbelievable expression of emotional beingness and emotional release. I imagine this comes in many different forms and I imagine it is closely related to, among other things, all the experiences, both positive and negative, one has been dealing with for their entire lives.

  9. I have found that any teaching or any thing i listened to has
    no help for me, it is just extrar information.
    somtimes i get what seems to be a short of high experience.

    Roger Linden in groupt I felt every time a resinance.
    one time with Unmani i felt great expereince after
    the meeting of 3 hours.
    then i lost the experience on sunday and on monday

    i felt mild expereince of the unknown- and next day
    it is goen.
    at this mo ment i am practicing short moment of rest which
    is not clear to me yet.
    well- this is just general statment- about teachers-

  10. Tim,

    I believe I understand the spirit of what you say. At root I believe we are our own best and most effective teachers. How could it be any other way really? In some quarters I imagine that is considered a very cliche’ statement. For me however, that does not diminish the wisdom nor relative truth of it.

  11. Hi Raven,
    I need time to read and watch the video clip you sent.
    I am bussy because i slow due to
    i cant compare my depression to others-
    You should see Kiloby clips – his intreview where
    he gives technick.

    i write more later.

    tonight a bird came so close- either he needs
    food or needs company-
    on the cement partiticia
    n of bank building –

    i thought that was might be a good omin
    but that could be biased.

  12. Hi Tim,

    I liked and could appreciate the video you gave a link to. For me it is almost always the discourse itself that is the most interesting to me. Settling into some hard and fast belief or belief system—not so much.

    Thanks for your engagement. It is welcomed.

Leave a Reply