Loch Kelly, M.Div., LCSW is the author of, Shift into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness. He is an educator, licensed psychotherapist and recognized leader in the field of nondual meditation who was asked to teach Sutra Mahamudra by Mingyur Rinpoche and nondual meditation by Adyashanti. Loch has worked in community mental health, established homeless shelters and counseled family members of 9/11. He is the founder of the non-profit Open-Hearted Awareness Institute. Loch collaborates with neuroscientists at Yale, UPenn and NYU to study how awareness training can enhance compassion and well-being. For more information, visit lochkelly.org.
Interview recorded 8/29/2015
Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.
Since the Center for Sacred Sciences was founded in 1987, Joel Morwood has served as the spiritual director and primary teacher for its community of practitioners. Joel’s first book, Naked Through the Gate: A Spiritual Autobiography , tells the story of his own spiritual path, culminating in Gnosis, or Awakening, in 1983. Here is some of what Joel has to say about himself and his role:
Some people who have come to me have been disappointed to discover that I have no supernatural powers to transmit, no magic wand to wave, no extraordinary knowledge to dispense which can make them instantly wise, loving, and happy. “Who, then, are you?” they ask. “What’s your secret?” My secret can be summed up in one word: Selflessness. Selflessness is the Truth. Selflessness is the Way. Selflessness is the Fruit. In reality, there is no ‘you’ nor ‘I’ nor any ‘self’ whatsoever. There is only Consciousness Itself—the One True God—which is what we are. All that is necessary is to Realize This, because to Realize This is Wisdom, to Live This is Love, to Be This is Happiness. So, if you really want to know my secret, look to your ‘self’. In finding the source of your ‘self’, you will find Consciousness Itself, and nothing else. Then, you, too, will be free of your self and all its sufferings.
Joel has no special religious attire. In fact, he often wears old blue jeans, sweatshirts, and a Mexican poncho. He is married, enjoys movies, drinks wine, and interacts with others much like any other guy. Joel speaks from his own Realization, or Gnosis. Although he makes use of stories, texts, and practices taken from many different traditions, his interpretations are always spontaneous, direct, and personal. He continually points beyond mere intellectual understanding to a Truth that is beyond both thought and experience. Moreover, he constantly links the teachings of the mystics with concrete examples drawn from daily life so that one can see how they actually relate to one’s own experiences. In all this Joel displays an intuition, sensitivity and humor which could never have come from book-learning alone. Moreover, because Joel has no pretensions about being someone special, he is approachable not only as a teacher, but also as a friend. He is a wonderful listener who knows how to pierce right to the heart of a problem. Often he can point out ways of viewing a situation from an entirely new perspective, yet he always insists one take responsibility for making one’s own decisions. Moreover, when he has no advice to offer, he doesn’t hesitate to say, “I don’t know.”
Joel is a teacher who always challenges his students to investigate the mystics and their teachings for themselves. Far from demanding blind obedience, or even verbal agreement, he encourages them to explore various teachers, to compare what he says with the teachings found in the great mystical traditions, to test all these teachings against our one’s experience, and to test one’s own experience against the hard realities of life. In his view, a true spiritual path never leads one away from reality but, on the contrary, forces one to face it squarely, no matter how ugly or painful it may appear. It is only by getting to the bottom of suffering that we can be free of suffering. Beyond that suffering, Joel assures us, there is the Boundless Joy of Consciousness Itself—and, indeed, with his guidance we sometimes catch a glimpse of this as well!
Finally, Joel receives no financial remuneration from the Center. His teachings are given as a labor of love freely to all—although occasionally he has asked for personal donations to cover special needs, like the time he needed a suit for his marriage.
Gary Renard is the author of The Disappearance of the Universe trilogy of books. He speaks regularly all over the world, teaching the principles of A Course in Miracles, which is the fundamental focus of his books. In 1992, he began to be visited in person by two people in the flesh who identified themselves as Arten and Pursah, two Ascended Masters. They are the main teachers in the books and Gary is the student. The critically acclaimed books are now in 22 languages.
Best-selling “Letting Go” author Guy Finley’s encouraging and accessible message is one of the true bright lights in our world today. His ideas cut straight to the heart of our most important personal and social issues – relationships, success, addiction, stress, peace, happiness, freedom – and lead the way to a higher life.
His syndicated weekly radio program is aired on several international networks including Healthy Life Radio, Achieve Radio, Sedona Talk Radio, and Healthlife.net. Guy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and is a regular expert contributor to Beliefnet.com, the Huffington Post and many other journals.
Guy is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, the renowned non-profit Center for Self-study in Merlin, Oregon where he offers four inner-life classes each open to the public.
Robert was struck by a strong curiosity about life when he was 11, which propelled him into years of globe-trotting adventures. In 1973, Robert met Swami Muktananda and spent the next 10 years studying with him. Since 1985, Robert’s professional motto has been Have Mouth, Will Travel, and he is known as an iconoclastic self-awareness facilitator, speaker, leadership adviser, and mentor to people from all walks of life. He is currently available to lead “Conversations on the High Wire” and to present programs in “The 5 Principles of Authentic Living” and “Speaking Truthfully.”
Robert has published eight books and more than 250 articles on the themes of meditation, self-inquiry, leadership, authentic living and speaking, and spiritual activism. In the early 1990s, he wrote a pioneering column for The New Leaders executive newsletter entitled “The Corporate Mystic.” He contributed original essays to three leading-edge anthologies and was interviewed for The Awakening West, a collection of conversations with contemporary Western wisdom teachers.
His résumé of speaking engagements includes more than 350 of his distinctive inquiry-based seminars, and talks to such organizations as State of the World Forum, California Institute of Integral Studies, Institute of Noetic Sciences, International Conference on Enlightenment, Inner Directions Conference, and International Coach Federation.
In January of 2012, he was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer and told he had nine months to live. However, consistent with his contrarian nature , he is still alive and kicking it in Los Angeles.