485. Courtney Amundson

Courtney AmundsonCourtney began her path as a seeker at a young age, progressing to the point that these teachings began to flow through her, effortlessly and with complete love and joy, starting at age 16. In the beginning, the wisdom was received for her own evolution and understanding, but after a short time she was guided to share it with as many people as possible through a book. Teachings from God: Greeting Your Soul and Revealing the Divine Within has given Courtney the inspiration and tools to create the life that excites her, and more than anything she wants to inspire you to do the same.

In addition to authoring Teachings from God, Courtney is a musician and leads Kirtan, and is also qigong practitioner of 13 years, hoping to become a qigong master one day.

Kirtan, also called Bhakti yoga (yoga of devotion) is a call-and-response style of yoga chanting that includes both the musicians and audience. You can find her original music and live Kirtans on her website and on her YouTube channel.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded January 5, 2019.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

484. Ishtar (Thomas Howell)

Ishtar (Thomas Howell)

Ishtar (Thomas Howell) is a meditation teacher, Ishaya monk, gardener, writer, and intuitive astrologer. A sense of himself as Presence was a pronounced feature of his life until about age 7. At age 13, he was in a car accident that took his mother’s life, and initiated an NDE that brought about a profound experience of Samadhi that in the subsequent months he experienced right along with an intense process of grieving. After the Presence faded, he longed to return, resulting in an energetic spiritual search. At 17 he began a regimen of meditation practices and ascetic disciplines that included waking to cold showers at 3 AM, fasting, and 6 hours of daily meditation practice. Longing to find his path, he encountered a practice known as the Ishayas’ Ascension, an effortless and deeply pleasurable form of meditation, which he quickly recognized as the path for which he’d been searching. Several months after learning Ascension, he found himself living on the Oregon coast in a monastic environment dedicated to the practice.

The ashram life brought about a rapid acceleration of growth, leading to ever more consistent experiences of Silence, in closed eyed meditation practice, while cooking in the community’s café, doing service work, and planting gardens. After going through a 6-month intensive Teacher Training program, that involved 12-16 hours of closed eyed meditation a day, he began teaching classes around the world, and living in various regional meditation centers around the world. Seeming, miracles, wild manifestations, witness consciousness, and celestial perception were frequent occurrences, as Awareness slowly but surely saturated more and more of life.

In 2008, he left his monastic organization and then took an extended break from meditation teaching. The years lived outside the semi cloistered environment of the ashram were often challenging, but ultimately led to a more deeply anchored Presence. Subtle barriers fell, opening to the experience of the world as the Self. This process continues to unfold and expand.

Since 2014, he has again been teaching Ascension and working as a spiritual guide, giving people a reliable practice with which to cultivate Awareness and assisting people in relaxing into Presence as a constantly lived experience. Since 2015 he has also been working as an intuitive Astrologer, with a primary focus on helping people align more completely with their soul’s purpose. More information can be found at these websites: ascension-meditation.com and awakenedlightastrology.com.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded October 30, 2018, in Sedona, Arizona

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

483. Thomas Hübl, 2nd Interview

Thomas Hubl
Thomas Hübl

Thomas Hübl is a modern mystic, spiritual teacher, author, and systems-thinker. His work integrates the essence of the great wisdom traditions, scientific knowledge, and his own personal experience. Thomas offers a unique approach to life as a ‘mystic in the marketplace’ and helps people to attain a deeper level of self-awareness and personal relationship and to transcend a ‘culture of the personal’ and a self-centered worldview. Through his work, people from all walks of life learn how to become a living expression of spirit and how to participate in ‘we cultures’ through an embodied inner and outer connection.

His teachings combine transformation through the integration of trauma, somatic sensitization, advanced meditative practice, and a deepening understanding of cultural processes. Since 2004, Thomas’ leading-edge work has spread worldwide through workshops, multi-year training programs, and online courses. The non-profit ‘Celebrate Life Festival‘ brings together more than 1,200 people every year and has showcased a wide network of experts in various disciplines, through dialogue and exchange. In 2008 Thomas founded the ‘Academy of Inner Science’. This provided a framework for dialogue between the inner science of consciousness and the external scientific-academic exploration of life.

Over the years Thomas has also organized several major healing events, aimed at healing the Holocaust’s cultural shadows. Thousands of Germans and Israelis have been brought together through these processes. In 2016 Thomas and his wife Yehudit founded the non-profit ‘Pocket Project‘, with the aim of exploring collective trauma and shadow work and integrating this through large-scale group processes. A global organization has been launched, intended to research and explore specific aspects of local traumatization. This applies both to past traumas and also to current conflict zones. Thomas was born in Austria in 1971 and now lives in Tel Aviv, Israel, with his wife, the Israeli artist Yehudit Sasportas and their daughter Eliya.

Website: thomashuebl.com

First BatGap interview with Thomas.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded October 27, 2018.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

Christmas Dog Yoga

Bonus video for Christmas just for laughs (Rick demonstrates Dog Yoga). Dog yoga is part of the normal morning routine, but not with Christmas music. (This was Irene’s idea – not Rick’s!)

482. Panel Discussions on Ethics and Spiritual Teaching

Ethics and Spiritual Teaching Panel at the Science and Nonduality Conference

  • Questioning whether higher consciousness and ethical behavior are tightly correlated.
  • The founding of the Association of Professional Spiritual Teachers.
  • The attempt to formulate a code of ethics that might applyuniversally in the contemporary spiritual community and enliven anunderstanding of what may or may not be appropriate, giving students greaterconfidence in their own discernment and discrimination.
  • Ancient traditions held the teacher beyond reproach andstudents surrendered their own will. This may have worked in monastic settingsbut generally does not work today.
  • Preventative support so we’re not busy doing cleanup.
  • Power hierarchies should not be an essential part ofspiritual development and can lead to abuses.
  • Spiritual awakening does not necessarily qualify a person tooffer advice on relationships, finances, etc.
  • Ethical training of some sort is integral to most honoredtraditions.
  • The issue of sexism and patriarchy in spiritualorganizations.
  • Entering the teaching profession prematurely.
  • All too often, when teachers are challenged on theirbehavior, they ignore the challenger or become defensive.
  • How do we offer the possibility for redemption and atonement?
  • Moving away from a culture of competition to one ofcooperation.
  • The importance of humility.
  • The importance of teachers not identifying with their roleand thinking that students’ devotion is about them.
  • South Africa’s “Truth and Reconciliation” as a model.

Discussion of this panel in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Recorded October 27, 2018

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

A Discussion on Teacher-Student Romantic Relationships

  • The Association of Professional Spiritual Teachers does not have a moralistic, judgmental orientation. It’s a community endeavor. We don’t agree among ourselves on certain points. We’re trying to balance our subjectiveperspectives with standards that fit our contemporary culture.
  • A key point of disagreement is the issue of teacher-studentromantic/sexual relationships. None of us are rigid or adamant in our opinions.We’re trying to work it out.
  • There are exceptions to every generality. In graduateschool, psychotherapists are taught that it will never be appropriate for therapistsand their clients to become partners.
  • Relationships tend to be the most challenging aspect ofpeople’s lives. These challenges shouldn’t bleed into a teacher’s teachingactivities.
  • When a teacher/student or therapist/client relationship transitions into romantic involvement, the potential for growth is undermined.
  • Sometimes “divine compulsion” arises in your spiritual path, shattering your conception of appropriate behavior.
  • The problem with teachers who haven’t transcended desire and explored their own shadow.
  • There can be a huge disparity between the apparent enlightenment of a teacher and their behavior.
  • Isolation and being closed to constructive criticism can be very dangerous for a teacher.
  • If a teacher doesn’t have friends other than his students, he might want to ask why. If he doesn’t have regular relationships and is always on a pedestal, he won’t get real-world feedback.
  • The culture is changing anyway. We’re just trying to give voice to values that are becoming lively in collective consciousness.
  • There can be a lot of practice involved in having your actions be a reflection of your deepest understanding.

Discussion of this panel in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Recorded October 26, 2018

Other BatGap episodes with these participants:

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

Recorded October 26, 2018