Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. We’ve done nearly 600 of them now and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu. Also check out the other menus on the site. There’s a bunch of different things, audio podcasts and so on. And maybe I’ll say this at the beginning, but it helps the YouTube channel to have a lot of subscribers. And if we break the hundred thousand mark, we will get some kind of extra support and all from YouTube. So if you feel like subscribing, click the subscribe button. And also that little bell that shows up after you click the subscribe button, if you click that, then you’re kind of like a super subscriber or something, and they notify you of everything that I do, which is just one interview a week. Also, this whole enterprise, this program, is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website, and there’s also a donation page on the site which explains options other than PayPal. My guest today is Ameeta Kaul. I’ve known Ameeta for a long time, kind of remotely. I used to be on her mailing list. I’m not sure if she’s still sending it out or if I somehow slipped off it, but she was sending out these great poems, and I’m really not much of a poetry reader. I’ve always found that my mind tends to wander a bit when I’m reading poetry, but I really found hers very readable and enjoyable. So maybe we’ll talk about that a little bit. And rather than read a prepared bio, I’m just going to let, you know, Ameeta and I will start talking. I’m just going to let her introduce herself and her background, and we’ll just take it from there. So, welcome, Ameeta.
Ameeta: Thank you so much, Rick. Glad to be here.
Rick: Yeah, good to have you.
Ameeta: Really good to be here.
Rick: You live in the Boston area, which is not that relevant, but good area. I’ve always liked the Boston area. Had some adventures there. And so, how did we end up having you on this show? What is it about your life that, and obviously I know the answer to this, but for the sake of the listeners, what is it about your life that brought you to this point?
Ameeta: Yeah, yeah, thank you. Well, you know, I grew up in India, and I came to the U.S., settled here in 1997, and shortly after that, very recent, 22 years ago, yeah, and my father, almost as soon as I arrived in the U.S. he was diagnosed with cancer and then very shortly after that he passed away. And there was something about the timing of that diagnosis that just hit me so hard because I had this absolute knowing inside of me that he was going to pass from it. And it was devastating to say the least. It tested me to my full limits. There was nothing I could summon within me to deal with that and it just, in a sense, now looking back, I can say it kind of broke me open in a way. It sent me scurrying off to find, you know, books and just things that I could read to feel a little peace inside, to make peace with what I knew was going to happen. And a year after that he passed away. And the shift which happened then sort of just kept paving its way in my life and introduced me to more and more of that depth.
Rick: Yeah, it’s not the first time I’ve heard somebody say that the death of a loved one, sometimes with quite a sudden and unexpected death, really cracked them open and somehow kick-started a spiritual journey or deepened their spiritual journey.
Ameeta: Yeah, and then …
Rick: Did you have much exposure to spirituality in India, or didn’t it interest you that much?
Ameeta: Yeah. Well, you know, I come from a family which has an odd mix. Well, not so odd, great actually. It’s been great for me. So on the one side we’re very sort of rationalist, scientific, you know, a lot of intellectual curiosity. And then there was the other side, which there was a fair amount of devotion, devotion to God, to our sense of God, and also a sort of philosophical curiosity. So I grew up with these kind of threads in my life and, you know, I found that on my path they really helped me and came together in ways that were very sort of useful for me. So the exposure, I think, also a part of growing up in India is because there are just so many influences all around you. You know it feels almost like there’s a spirituality suffused in the air in many subtle ways, but you kind of end up imbibing. You don’t even know you’re imbibing.
Rick: Yeah, it’s very true. The first time I went to India, I guess it was 1980 or ’79, just landing in the New Delhi airport which is not the most spiritual spot in the country but, you know, just coming out of the airport onto the sidewalk there was just something in the air. Just kind of like, “Wow, you know, I’ve heard about this, but I could really feel it. There’s just something in the air.” Besides the pollution I mean, there was some kind of spiritual presence or something in the country.
Ameeta: Yeah, yeah. And I had a lot of people in my life, my grandmothers to start with, most importantly who really had that devotional aspect which drew me so much as a child because I would sit in their laps and listen to the most amazing stories of the saints in India and, you know, all these wonderful tales from the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and everything. And I used to be fascinated. I could listen for hours and every time they visited I would be pulling on their saris to, you know, to have one more session. And, you know, so you know, there’s a way in which all of this can really get inside you.
Rick: Yeah, yeah. That’s great. Not too many of us have that kind of thing in the West, at least not in your tradition, but I kind of wish I had. I mean, when I was a kid, we were dragged to church once a week and I had no idea what it was about and it just kind of ruined my Sundays. And, you know, it was not until quite a few years later that I realized, “Oh, that’s what it’s about.”
Ameeta: You know, we had our share of that, like, I remember as a child not being a fan of, we didn’t have too many ritualistic things going on in my home but I was never a fan of the rituals. So I probably felt that way about the rituals. You know, I didn’t want any part of that.
Rick: Yeah, yeah.
Ameeta: The stories were great, but …
Rick: So once your father died and it gave you this jolt what was the sequence of events that, you know, kind of proceeded from there?
Ameeta: Yeah. So I think at that time it really kind of shifted the focus of my life in ways that only registered in my awareness much later. But I had come here. I had just arrived in the country for a job here, a job opportunity in the U.S. and my family, my husband and my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, we all decided to come to the U.S. and we thought it was going to be a five-year adventure. We would go back to India.
Rick: What kind of job? What kind of work are you in?
Ameeta: In those days, I was in technology, in business automation systems and I was trained in something in my job in India that was really sort of picking up as a market worldwide and so that’s how we came here. So, you know, it was kind of a strange period because on the one hand I had a focus. I had to pay attention to my career and almost immediately after landing here, you know, with my dad’s death, it was kind of a very challenging place for me to negotiate those two worlds. So I ended up spending the next four or five years sort of nose down in my career and then it just became too much and I started to realize that my heart was not in it, that something was off. And, you know, I tasted some success and that just got me, it just felt hollow, Rick. It was like on the one hand, like I was saying, my academic conditioning from India and even to some degree my family conditioning, I was told that success was a great thing to have and material success and, you know, it felt to me like oh, this is going to answer some questions, it’s going to deliver something. And even my first real taste of it kind of left me feeling less than really underwhelmed. And I think from that point it was like a U-turn. It was just like, no, I can’t — my whole life cannot be about more of this, you know. And so when — I’m glad it happened like that, you know, because there was an intelligence to it. It kind of exhausted something in me and then I remember this one time, and I had to tell my husband, look I’m not able to lift the phone to me. And by that time I was running my own small business and I said, I cannot do this anymore. I just need to have, I don’t know how long, to read and to figure out what’s going on with me. And he was very supportive and that’s exactly what I did. So I began to read everything I could lay my hands on that my mind was seeking to have by way of answers. And I read psychology and philosophy and spirituality and all kinds of things. And so I came upon a vast array of people. The one that really struck a chord for me back then was Ken Wilber. You know, the thing about Ken Wilber is he’s so — I mean, I think that the — I wouldn’t — most people would agree he’s brilliant. He’s absolutely brilliant. And, you know, there was this — unbeknownst to me, there was this kind of like a thing, almost a little battle waging inside of me between my, I guess, my intellectual side and my spiritual side. And — which I was not very conscious of until Ken came into my life. And I realized what he showed me was that, you know, somebody I admired so much was effortlessly including spirituality into his conversation, into his language, into his life, and speaking of it so eloquently in a way that appealed to both, both my brain and my heart.
Rick: Yeah, yeah. He’s good at reconciling those things.
Ameeta: So that started to really — that was important for me to come to that point in myself. And very shortly after that I kind of came to the end of my time with him by which time I first heard Adyashanti thanks to a friend of mine who introduced me to him. And the first time I heard him, it wasn’t like he is my teacher. Absolutely, he has been my teacher all these years. But that first time I heard him there was a resonance, but it wasn’t like I knew this is my guru or my teacher. But I realized after two months, gosh, I’ve been listening to this person for eight to ten hours every day.
Ameeta: And so that’s when I said there’s more to this than just — than what seems apparent. And of course, I was now looking back from then, I’ve just been so blessed to have him in my life as my teacher.
Rick: I was listening to him when I got the idea to do this show. I was out in the garage working on a Bowflex machine, one of those exercise machines, and listening to Adya. And somehow a thought popped into my head, I should do an interview show.
Rick: One thing led to the next.
Rick: So you would still consider Adya your teacher?
Ameeta: Yes, I do. I think he’s my trail guide. You know, he’s — as far as I see it, he’s up ahead on the journey, and he just turns around and keeps sharing things from up ahead.
Ameeta: Which are so useful and amazing, you know, so yeah.
Rick: I like the way Adya, you know, is pretty — dog is having a coughing fit. Hang on a second.
Rick: She has a problem with coughing. Okay. One second. I like the way Adya — well, he’s very down to earth and just sort of what you see is what you get kind of a guy, whether you’re with him in a public situation or a private situation. And I think that’s one reason people like him so much. And, you know, he doesn’t kind of whitewash his life and try to make it any more glorious than him. He’s just, you know, what you see is what you get, as I said. But he also has this open-ended attitude, like, you know, curious, always exploring and learning. His house is full of books with little book tabs in them, and, you know, he’s always kind of like, you know, what’s next? And, you know, open-ended inquiry kind of thing.
Ameeta: Yeah. Yeah.
Ameeta: It’s great.
Ameeta: I just love that about him. Like you said, he’s just so grounded. You know, it’s such a beautiful thing to have. Because, you know, I’ve been exposed to so many, as many as all of us have, many spiritual teachers. And it always feels like they’re, you know, they may not be holding it like that in them, but it comes, you know, just because of all the trappings that one sees, it can come across as something that’s special. And with Adya, that thing gets busted right off the bat. Because yours is, you know, he just, I don’t know, he’s just so grounded and real.
Rick: Yeah. So that’s an interesting, we can even dwell on that point for a minute. I mean, on the one hand, you know, if you met the Buddha, well, you’re supposed to kill him if you meet him, but according to that saying, but, you know, or Christ or somebody, you would say, “Hey man, how you doing?” You know, like, “Whoa, let’s have a beer,” or something. There would be a certain deferentialness, deferent, deference? A certain deference, a certain respect, and even, you know, devotion and honor, and you just don’t, their personality warrants that. But on the other hand, some teachers seem to get off on that, you know? And to try to cultivate it around themselves, and to encourage students to, you know, worship them or kiss their feet or whatever. And then the dynamic starts to get a little unhealthy, I think, a little weird. And, you know, obviously devotion is a good thing. You spoke about that earlier, about your earlier life, and we don’t want to squelch that. So there’s a kind of a balancing act, I think, between, you know, respect and devotion, and yet, kind of a healthy relationship with the teacher, both for the student and for the teacher, who, if he or she isn’t really as mature as he or she might be, could himself get warped or corrupted by all that adulation.
Ameeta: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I think that what my relationship with Adya as a student has been, is to kind of, you know, I recognized, actually, it was actually watching one interview you did with, I think her name is Jan Frazier, but I could be wrong about this.
Rick: Yeah, Jan, she lives up in Vermont, I think, not far from you.
Ameeta: Yeah, I think not far from me, right? And there was this episode where, the thing you did with her, where she talks about her fear dropping out of her system. This was many, many years ago, and I happened to attend an evening satsang with her here in the Boston area, and, you know, fear has been a thing for me growing up quite a lot, and so this really drew me, you know, when she talked about this. And I remember being at her satsang, and midway through it, I just had this big insight come into me, which was like, what am I doing here? You know, because she was describing this story, which is quite, which is quite an unusual story, about how it suddenly dropped out of her system. And there was something in me that was attaching to that, as a way of dealing with my fear, and I suddenly realized, wait a minute, you know, here are the ways in which I’m putting that possibility away from me, because I’m associating it with such an story that is not likely to repeat for me as it was, as it played out for her.
Rick: Was it, I remember Jan had a story about where she was in a canoe or something with her husband and they almost drowned or could have drowned, or, was that, was that the story? Or do you know?
Ameeta: You know, I don’t remember the details of the story. All I remember is that she had this big fear, and then almost in one minute, or something very short, you know, something happened and that fear just dropped out of her system. And I could even be wrong about the name, but anyways, that’s the, you know, that’s the thing that gripped me in that whole thing, and the whole story. And this is what I realized. I realized that, how is this connected to, yeah, because I wanted to say that there’s a way in which we project things on the outside, that are ours to own if, when we are ready to own them. And for me, this was what came to the fore with Adya. It was like, I trusted him completely in what he was presenting as, what he was presenting, resonated with me. So I think what happens, happened for me was I, I said, okay, Adya, you hold what you are, what you point to be mine, and I know to be mine. You hold it for me because I’m unable to do so for now.
Rick: What do you mean by that? Clarify that a little bit.
Ameeta: Well, the knowing that I am this present being awareness.
Rick: And what do you mean asking him to hold it?
Ameeta: Because I could see it more clearly at that time in him than I was able to see it in myself.
Rick: I see what you mean. So, yeah, okay, good.
Ameeta: And so it was like, I, you know, I almost was saying, I was saying to him, you are my teacher, you carry this for both of us for now. Because I’m not able to, for whatever reason. And, you know, and that’s the path where I became ready to own, to take back that which he was holding for him, which I asked him to in becoming his student.
Rick: You asked him verbally or just mentally?
Ameeta: So that’s how I see it. It’s like we, you know, we’re using two ways of keeping this, our own true nature away from us. We’re either projecting or procrastinating.
Rick: And why would we want to do that? Because we would have to face a fear if we wanted to plow through the fear and actually get to the living experience of it?
Ameeta: Yeah, I think there’s something in us that’s perhaps not ready right off the bat to own this thing that feels so immense, so out of the bounds of our own reference frame, you know. And we get struck by all manner of fears, like, you know, fear of being much greater than we thought, fear of being nothing, you know, depending on how we’re receiving this. There can be so many different fears. And we are so conditioned to think of ourselves in a certain way, to perceive and receive ourselves in a certain way that we’re afraid to budge that and move that. And then comes along this whole spiritual thing that’s threatening to undercut all of our ideas of ourselves. It’s a big thing, right, to kind of grapple with. So I think it’s like a journey of being prepared. And it’s wonderful to have a teacher who will not only hold it for you but then this kind of circles back to what we were saying. Because it felt to me like my teacher held it for me with the clear knowledge between us, that one day I would hold it for me. And he encouraged that all through. So, whereas, you know, you can, there are teachers out there that might even want to, you know, and everything’s fine, it all serves. But, you know, sometimes there can be situations where there can come a possessiveness about that. Because it’s kind of enjoyable to have that status, perhaps. I don’t know.
Rick: I know what you mean. I know what you’re saying. I think listeners will, too. In other words, it’s kind of related to what I was saying earlier, but I think some teachers make an effort to reinforce the sort of dichotomy between their status and their students’ status. And ultimately, I think a teacher should want to have their students achieve as much, if not more, than whatever they’ve achieved in terms of their awakening. Why not? You know, what’s the whole point of it otherwise?
Ameeta: Right, exactly. Yeah, teachers are custodians. I see them as custodians of what the student has not yet realized.
Rick: Yeah. I mean, whoever Einstein’s professors were, they should be pleased with themselves for having turned out such a student. Although I think they thought of him as sort of a troublemaker, which also is a relevant point, actually, because sometimes if a person is conformist in their thinking and just sort of whatever the teacher says, I mean, this is another one of those paradoxes. On the one hand, you want to sort of align your thinking with that of the master, if you’re in a guru-disciple relationship. But on the other hand, there comes a time when the chick hatches from the egg and needs to leave the incubator, and very often a certain kind of independence of thinking, or almost you might even say a little rebelliousness, begins to bubble up.
Ameeta: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. It’s like this idea of sovereignty, you know? And to me, that’s very much part of owning one’s true nature, is that I think that at some point it does kind of form into the sense of sovereignty, like, you know, and so long as one is, you know, at least for me the way this played out was I always had that inkling of a sovereignty, you know, all along, even though I was a student of Adya’s, not least because he kept pointing to it.
Ameeta: You know, so there was not this idea that I was going to follow everything that he said because everything was being checked out in my own experience and ultimately it was my own experience that proved to me if something was resonant for me or not. And I found this to be kind of a useful way to orient in my relationship as a student.
Rick: Yeah. There’s a great quote from the Buddha which you just more or less paraphrased where he says, “Don’t believe anything just because somebody says it.” You know, “Even if I say it, you should check it out in your own experience, in your own understanding.” Basically, that’s a paraphrase, but …
Ameeta: Yeah, exactly.
Rick: Because, I mean, it’s an important point we’re dwelling on, this thing about sovereignty and owning it and so on. You know, it’s interesting that you said Adya was going to hold it for you for a while, but eventually, I mean, no one can live your enlightenment for you any more than somebody can eat dinner for you, you know? Ultimately, it has to be your experience.
Ameeta: Exactly, exactly. Yeah. And it’s not going to satisfy you, even if someone could hold it, I mean, decided to hold it for you.
Rick: Like with the dinner analogy, you could starve to death while others do your eating for you.
Ameeta: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: So, it kind of sounds like maybe there was a process whereby the sovereignty shifted, you know? It kind of shifted from Adya holding it to you holding it yourself.
Ameeta: Yeah, it really did.
Rick: Was there any kind of abrupt shift, or was it more like a thief in the night creeping up?
Ameeta: No, thief in the night. Thief in the night for me. You know, it really was a very gradual thing. I mean, it was punctuated with experiences and with some things that seemed, you know, very stark and something that one can actually point to. But for the most part, I would say that the journey has been such that the contrast was never, between one day or one week and the next week, was never so dramatic that, you know, it presented as this mind-blowing experience that I could recognize. So things were kind of like recognized in retrospect sometimes.
Rick: That’s really well put. That’s my experience too. There have been some, you know, kind of cool experiences along the way, but basically in terms of whatever the stable state is, it’s always just sort of been an incremental maturation of sorts.
Ameeta: Yeah, you know, in 2017 I was drawn to go to Taos. And it was an interesting time because I had reached a sort of a point in my spiritual life, in my life in general, where I felt like I needed not just an internal change, but sort of an external change. You know, I needed to go. And so I spoke with a friend of mine, you know her, Susanna.
Rick: Oh yeah, she’s a good friend.
Ameeta: Yeah, and so she suggested Taos to me.
Ameeta: We’re referring to Susanna Marie. Did she live there already then?
Ameeta: No, she was in California.
Rick: Okay, she’s there now, yeah.
Ameeta: Yeah, she’s in Taos now, right. And I hadn’t heard of Taos even before, but, and she described the Neem Karoli Baba Ashram to me which is there and you know, there’s a Hanuman temple and so on. And I did a little quick search and something about Hanuman’s eyes really drew me. And I decided that I was going to do that. It sounded really exciting and out of my comfort zone and everything. And things just worked and I landed up at this ashram and I did seva up there for a month and then I sort of stayed at another place for another month. But that’s where I had an experience which kind of was the, was something that showed me the cumulative effect of what had happened in the prior years, you know, in a way that I could not miss, you know. Because there can be, I feel like there can be changes and shifts happening in one, especially if one is on the gradual path, that sometimes one is not consciously aware of, you know. Like, and then something might have to come to to bring it into perspective, because then what started happening, okay, so I’ll share a little bit about what happened is Taos Mountain is where the town of Taos gets its name from and she is a magnificent being Taos Mountain to me. And every evening I was called, just I was drawn to go out for a walk and there’s a place about a mile from the temple where I was used to, I was staying where I, you know, I could see her at a distance across the meadow and used to be a really powerful one hour for me as I’d be walking up and down and just getting darshan from Taos Mountain, you know, literally. And there was something going on between us that was just so powerful. And what I received was this, this, you know, she actually called me to, to, I mean it’s kind of odd to describe because it didn’t happen, well, a lot of this became clear once I started writing about it and so on.
Rick: This is the way Ramana talked about Arunachala, you know, similar relationship it sounds like.
Ameeta: Yeah, it’s just, it was just so beautiful and she called me to see the mountain, to own the mountain in myself.
Ameeta: And, and, and now when I look back at everything that happened in those months and following those months, I can really see how that was sort of a way for me to recognize and to articulate even to myself the shifts that have been happening through the, through these, all those years, you know, and sort of, sort of almost like a recognizing of the sovereignty that had sort of bloomed in a way that I could, I could, I could really start looking at and becoming conscious of. And then when, when, when one becomes conscious of it, I can see it more consciously, you know, like there’s a, you can, the game is upping itself in some way.
Rick: Yeah so lets me see if I can get you to be a bit more explicit about all that. So, you know, we, you know, you were on the path for a long time, there was all this, you know, gradual, incremental growth, and, but, you know, you don’t really notice it, like the old, I hate this analogy, but the frog in the water that gradually heats up, you know, and it doesn’t jump out because the water’s heating gradually.
Rick: And, and some people have dramatic breakthroughs, I’ve talked to a lot of them, but I think the vast majority of people, it’s just like we said, you know, there’s this gradual development and maybe sometimes it’s pretty fast development, but still it’s not like explosions, you know, there’s just sort of this continuous growth. But if you could leap suddenly from, like if I, speaking in my own experience, if I were to suddenly leap from where I am now, the way I function now to the way I did 40, might have been happy and functional 40, I could, I’d probably die from the shock of it, because the contrast would be so great. And conversely, 40, 50 years ago, if I could have leapt to where I am now I probably wouldn’t have been able to function, because I would have been lying on the ground drooling with bliss. But, you know, you sort of develop as you go along, and you acclimate, you acclimate over and over again. But, so, in terms of your own situation here when the relationship with the mountain or whatever happened there in Taos happened, it sounds like it sort of brought the whole thing into focus and you were able to sort of get your bearings relative to, you know, the journey you had been on. So, could you elaborate on that a little bit more?
Ameeta: Sure, I can try.
Rick: Like, what kind of changes did you suddenly, finally realize that you had undergone, for instance?
Ameeta: Let me see how that wants to sort of be shared. So, just prior to my going to Taos, I had just been coming out of a four-year illness, quite a grave illness. And, it would, the pattern would be that I would fall very badly sick for about four to five months in the year, and then it would kind of wane, and then the cycle would repeat. And when I say very bad, it was really bad, like, in many ways. So, it was, one aspect of it was an extreme form of eczema and then there were other things going on. But, it was really
Rick: Your skin looks nice now. That’s good.
Ameeta: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, but, you know, it was kind of really pretty rough, to the point where I used to, you know, and this was my learning curve. I was kind of having to really, well, for me, it was about really coming into my body much more. You know, what the illness did for me was for me to turn my attention towards form. Until then, I was a little disembodied, and, you know, I was grooving, sort of the emptiness thing was much more prominent for me. And then, this illness really got my attention in a way that it took me deeper and deeper because, you know, there was nothing really that was a cure for it. You know, everyone I went to just said, “we can manage it, that’s the best we can do.” And so all I really did in that, in those months, was to be in sort of contemplation and meditation and inquiry all the time. You know, that’s, because I didn’t have the energy to do much outside. So, it took me really deep and it allowed me to see, you know, what was wanting to return to the body, to this body. And that was at once really difficult but very beautiful. You know, beautiful in the sense of how I could just, everything started to become visceral and embodied and just so gritty, you know, just like real. And I could feel the joy emanating, you know, whereas I used to, perhaps consciously and mostly unconsciously look upon body as the theater of suffering. It transformed Rick. It became, this joy started coming into the picture unexpectedly and I began to look upon body as this wonder, wonderful thing, like theater of joy.
Rick: Temple of the soul.
Ameeta: Temple of the soul and it just came online in such a big way for me. And then came the call to go to Taos. And I think what happened in Taos was I got, I got in touch with larger body, my larger body, physical, my larger physical body, you know. And I was really deeply called to Mother Nature on that trip in a way that I’ve never been called before. I grew up in urban Mumbai, Bombay in India, surrounded by concrete structures mostly and didn’t really have a close relationship with nature. But in that trip that really changed and I became so attuned to so many things differently. Mother Nature and my, what I’m calling my larger body. And I saw, I saw my illness in a different way and I saw, you know, these things of how, how, what, what had been seen or, or, you know, recognized wanted to start being embodied in the body in life in this real way. I came into contact with that so viscerally with that experience with, with the mountain. Am I going along the lines of how, what do you want to share?
Rick: Yeah, no, whatever comes out.
Ameeta: Do you want to draw out?
Rick: Yeah, we’ll draw out more, but you’re making sense. And I guess the thought that comes to mind as you’re speaking is that I was kind of thinking different things as you were speaking. It’s kind of like, you know, I think some people, everything has to balance out in the end, you know. We spoke of Ken Wilber earlier and he has this idea of lines of development. You know, we have all these different lines of development and some people’s lines are stretched out this way and others are stretched out that way. Different, you know, intellect or body or heart or senses or different facets of our makeup. But everything ultimately, I think, I think evolution, the force of evolution impels us to advance all these things and have them all kind of come into balance so we’re not really stretched, you know, with one way out in front and the others are dragging behind. And, you know, so what you’re saying about coming into the body, somebody else might say the opposite. They were too much in the body and they needed to sort of get into the spirit more, you know, into the transcendent or whatever. Anyway, that’s the kind of thoughts that what you were saying triggered in me.
Ameeta: Yeah, you know, what I’ve come to see in retrospect about my life is that there was a, I think I came into this life with this sense of emptiness. That’s what it feels like right now. Looking back on, you know, and just seeing how things unfolded for me. And I just feel like my, you know, like this lifetime, if we want to call it that, has been about, you know, about being this, coming into form.
Ameeta: About coming into form in the fullest, deepest possible way. That’s what it seems like my life journey, this life journey has been about. And, you know, and that’s, I can see why I was drawn to Adya, because for me, he represents this emptiness in form, you know. I get the most clearest transmission of that from him. And so there’s no, you know, it’s not, it’s no wonder that I was drawn to his teachings. But, so I hear what you’re saying, and I, you know, there was obviously a sense in the human way that, you know, there was this body and, you know, all of that. So it might be like what you’re saying, that there can be a point in the journey where your form is form, and that’s what you’re aware of mostly, which is your form.
Rick: Yeah, people say, “This is what I am, this meat puppet.”
Ameeta: This is what I am, this mind-body thing complex. Yeah. And then you can go down, you know, and then the first part is where you get stripped of that idea of yourself as form and come to something which is much more subtle or all the way down to emptiness. And then you pick back up, because that’s how the journey goes if you go on further, right? I mean, where you come full circle. And what was recognized as the, as that deep, subtle self starts to come back into form. And so certainly it played out like that for me in the human level obviously. But like I said, it feels to me like I was, even as a child, I had this, I don’t know how to describe it, and that’s going to be part of what I’m going to be sitting with for my next, you know, like I want to write about this and allow it to sort of form itself into words. But I suspect I’m not the only one for whom this is happening, and I would love to be able to articulate it in a way that perhaps others can relate to it and maybe look at their own journey from that perspective. So it was kind of feeling like my human form, even at the time when I felt just, when I didn’t have any knowledge of emptiness, it just, I had a very sort of an ambiguous relationship with form in general. And so when the, when Adya started, you know, when I came into his meditation technique, I, it was like, I took to it like a fish to water. It was just, something felt very comfortable with that emptiness thing all along. And then I, so, but so then for me it was much more about coming back, coming into body, and it was slow, but that’s what the direction seemed to be for me to be coming into body more and more and more and more, you know. And that sense of like the, you know, the, maybe it’ll come back. I had a thread that was kind of,
Rick: Oh, sure.
Rick: Sounds like you might have been a Shunyavadin in your past life or something, you know, a Buddhist monk who emphasized emptiness, emptiness, emptiness, you know. And I’ve just been taking some classes from Swami Sarvapriyananda and he talks about these two tracks of philosophy that go back, you know, thousands of years between the people who sort of emphasized fullness, Purnavadins, and then the Shunyavadins who emphasized emptiness. And they’re kind of flip sides of the same coin because you could look at it either way. You know that saying, “Fullness is emptiness, emptiness is … well, form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
Rick: So you can see it either way but I think sometimes people get too much emphasis on one or the other and they lose the ability to see it both ways.
Ameeta: Right, absolutely. And you know, that’s been a very, very key thing for me. Like this has been the mantra that’s been playing out in me, which is “emptiness is form and form is emptiness.”
Rick: What is that, the Heart Sutra or something?
Ameeta: Yeah, yeah. And I hadn’t heard this till Adya introduced it to me, but as soon as he said it, it felt so resonant in me. You know, it was just like, “Wow, I have known this.” You know, and it has guided my journey. I feel like that’s been kind of the, you know, it’s really been the underlying direction of my journey all along. And yeah, so I hear what you’re saying about that. And it feels like we can get, you know, we can. I remember attending a silent retreat with Adya and during that silent retreat, I had this time where I was sitting, it was Omega in New York. I don’t know if you’ve been there.
Rick: I haven’t, but I know where it is.
Ameeta: Yeah, there’s this particular little pine forest. It’s kind of a circle of pines with an empty space, you know, place in between. And I’m sitting there and I just had this really beautiful sort of a coming together of something just, I just had this knowing of how the two are one. And that was the beginning of this coming together of emptiness and form for me. And I felt it as this experience in my heart. And I came back and I had the opportunity to ask Adya about it. But, you know, I said, you know, I’ve known emptiness all my life. It seems like I’ve known emptiness all my life and I’ve known form all my life. And I just felt how they came together right here. And of course, I mean, we had a lovely dialogue from that. But from that moment on, that particular thing started really growing in me. Like it started to come alive in so many ways and be seen that way. You know, my experiences started to become about that, about the meeting of these two in a way that I could experience in my heart and in my body in sort of a visceral way.
Rick: Did it impact your behavior at all? I mean, when you were in the emptiness phase, did it make you more withdrawn or aloof or disinterested or anything? And then when you integrated it more, did it change your outward behavior?
Ameeta: Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, very early on in the journey, I was totally, there was a part of me that felt like it had exhausted, there was no motivation left in terms of everything that my life had been about. So I sort of came into the journey, formally into the spiritual path, at the point where I had lost all my motivation for the life I had lived prior, prior to the journey. So that is one way in which I, you know, that manifested. And then that continued. I just wasn’t feeling interested. I’m a mother, I’m a wife, and so there was that part of my life. And I could do the thing, I was, for my daughter’s sake and so on, I was social, I could carry on that aspect of my life. But inside of me, there was really no juice in it at all. And so I was leading this life, this inner life that was so much more rich, and for me so much more compelling. So what started to happen more and more was the two started coming together. Like I could see the, what felt like very separate things in my life, you know, where I almost felt like there were certain rules for how I must appear on the external in society and then there were my free space inside where I could experiment with all this that’s going on inside me. That, I don’t know when that territory began to merge, but it did begin to merge and something started to loosen up and there was more translation from that inner space into the outer realm, into my social interactions and so on. There was a freedom, I think, which started coming in where I didn’t feel like I had to restrict myself to certain expressions or I wouldn’t, you know, wouldn’t be allowed. There were certain ideas about that which got busted along the way.
Rick: How old is your daughter now?
Ameeta: Oh, she’s 27.
Rick: Well, raising her must have helped to keep you grounded.
Ameeta: I cannot be, I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful for having my, just a regular life that kept me grounded and kept things real and also my whole interest in spirituality was driven by this. I seemed to want something that translated into living. That was always very important for me. And so just having this life where I could test in small ways, you know, it wasn’t even so much of a decision. That’s how it was playing out. I would have some realization or some insight, and immediately I would get to see how real it was in the next interaction with my husband and my daughter, you know, with all the things that I was doing, right? So it felt like it was such a help. It was fine-tuning something.
Rick: That’s really good. You know, a lot of the spiritual traditions have been maintained by monks, and they put a certain spin on it in terms of, and almost made people who are not monks feel like they’re second-class citizens or something, you know, because they’re not going for the gusto the way the monks are. But monks can get very imbalanced and out of touch and idiosyncratic and obsessive and eccentric and all that, in a way which you’re not allowed to if you’re in a family situation the way you are because you’re interacting with other people, and they’re going to kind of call you on it or pretty much force you to get real if you’re not.
Ameeta: Right, and my daughter used to have a line because, you know, I’d get angry with her or something, and she said, “Mama, that’s not very spiritual, you know?” Because she knew I was, you know, I would talk to her sometimes about the stuff I was reading or experiencing, and she was one to catch me each time. She said, “That’s not very spiritual.”
Rick: Yeah, I was just going to say, it’s a little bit of your Shiva opening his third eye and better watch out or I’ll burn you to a crisp.
Rick: I think you were about to–go ahead, continue.
Ameeta: I was just going to say, you were talking about the monks, and, you know, I feel so grateful. I feel so grateful for the different kinds of paths and emphasis that we have in each path because I think it all builds on each other. You know, it’s because, perhaps because the monks from various traditions were able to devote all that energy and time and attention to something so deep that we stand on their shoulders, you know, and we stand on each other’s–you know how I mean? It’s like, I do feel these things supporting each other at levels below the surface that allow each one to be– each different thing to be explored deeply, more deeply.
Rick: Yeah, if we think of Rupert Sheldrake’s “Morphogenetic Fields,” if you’ve ever read about that, but basically it’s the idea of this sort of deep field of consciousness or collective consciousness and so on, and you know, what you’re saying is we all contribute to that field in various ways and all these different traditions have enriched it each in their own way. And now, you know, with the Internet and with all the modern communications the interchange has become much more manifest, you know? And I think there’s something, there’s some kind of hybrid coming out of it all that’s maybe in a way an evolution from the ancient traditions themselves.
Ameeta: Yeah, yeah, I do feel like there’s a lot of innovation happening. You know, like, you know, one view is that we are simply in each age we are rediscovering what was already discovered through, you know, through all the ancient cultures, and that, I feel like there’s an aspect of truth to that but that every cycle of discovery has its own contribution to the whole, you know? And so I feel like I experience these times as so innovative spiritually. I mean, there’s so much going on, and Rick, your show in no small part is contributing to the sort of the spreading of these views and perspectives, so.
Rick: Yeah, well, we’re all doing what we can.
Rick: And you know, there’s a saying, “Only a new seed can yield a new crop,” and yet there’s that other saying, “Nothing is new under the sun.” So, you know, there’s all this ancient stuff, but we’ve been talking about integration and having to sort of integrate the inner experience with the outer, and I think that, you know, whatever wisdom there may be in these ancient traditions, and there’s a lot of it, it’s not necessarily perfectly adapted to modern times and there has to be an integration and an adjustment in order for the full value of it to be utilized in a very different culture than the cultures in which these things originated.
Ameeta: Right, right. And that’s what I feel like, you know, so many modern spiritual traditions really have this open space where new things can emerge, new ways of—everything is in one sense, we’re just reinventing what is already here in one sense and yet so much creativity can happen, you know, so many new things can emerge, new forms and structures can emerge, new ways of receiving the same message can emerge. I really feel like that’s something that perhaps differentiates certain, you know, an attitude towards religion versus spirituality. I think people are drawn to spirituality because there’s that innovative, creative aspect, a relevancy with the times which sometimes, you know, we can miss out when things are deeply, how shall I say, systematized in such a way that they may not be able to be questioned and made relevant for current times. Does that make sense?
Rick: Yeah, it does. And also what we were saying earlier about, you know, having—you have to live your own enlightenment, somebody can’t live it for you, like they can’t eat dinner for you. And, you know, a lot of the religions emphasize, “Oh, this religious leader was great, and that one was so wonderful, and all this saint was so fabulous, but what about you? What about me?” I mean, you know, whatever they experienced isn’t going to do us a heck of a lot of good unless we also experience it. And I think that’s what they wanted, you know, they didn’t want to just say, “Believe what I say,” they wanted you—they were really saying, “Experience what I’m experiencing.”
Ameeta: Yeah, exactly.
Rick: Because that’s where the, you know, that’s where the juice is, to use the word you used earlier there.
Rick:There’s something we discussed earlier that we could flesh out a little bit more. You were just talking about how, as you progressed over the years, you know, there was definitely a growth taking place, but it’s hard to tell exactly, you know, how much growth there has been because there’s really not a lot of growth from day to day. And another thing you were saying about how, you know, fear and how there’s a sort of a deep fear, and there are many other deep things, but fear is one of the most fundamental. And we can’t just necessarily say, “All right, I’m tired of that, I’m letting go of it,” because it’s much deeper than that. And so I don’t think people should feel there’s anything wrong with them if they can’t just sort of snap out of, you know, the condition they’re in and be enlightened or be awake or something. And there are teachers who sort of speak as though they should be able to do that, but I think there’s really a developmental process that has to take place, which is, you know, not only psychological but neurophysiological, and the whole mind-body system has to be cultured over time in order to support the kind of experience that we’re talking about.
Ameeta: Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I feel like there’s, you know, I’ve heard you talk about it on your shows, Rick, where you talk about a certain amount of, a level of preparation that the body-mind needs to be in, in order for this, what may be recognized or realized in an instance still has to translate into time and space. And so there’s both the aspect of having a certain readiness in body-mind to be able to have that happen, and then there’s also the aspect of that this thing itself is infinite and so it has infinite expressions and even after the body-mind is prepared or ready in a certain way, you know, this will be an ongoing thing, you know, because it constantly has room to express more and more deeply and more fully. So there’s, I feel like there’s both of that, and I, you know, I do have a lot of empathy for people who may be in situations where they receive a message where they’re, you know, it’s like even in spirituality, we can get, we can get taken up by, the mind can hijack actually our own internal attitude to life in general and cast it in the same, really just transfer it into our attitude towards spirituality. In other words, we can get really harsh with ourselves. If we are not doing things right, the meditation right, or you know, if you’re not having certain realizations when they should occur, we can get pretty harsh with ourselves. So I just feel a lot of empathy for seekers, you know, who have, it feels to me a tough job sometimes.
Rick: Yeah. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi used to have this phrase he always used, he said, “Take it easy, take it as it comes.” In other words, you know, don’t try to storm the gates of heaven, but just, you know, you have to sort of, it has to be a certain naturalness, a certain going with the flow. And obviously there’s nothing wrong with intensity of motivation but there’s so many stories of people who just thought that they were just going to get enlightened in a week or a month or something and just end up suffering a mental breakdown because they pushed too hard. In fact Adya talks about that. He said he reached a point where he thought he was going to crack up. He left some retreat that he had been on because he thought he just couldn’t do it anymore. He went home and kind of gave up in a way, but then boom, he had this big awakening when he finally relaxed.
Ameeta: Yeah, that’s a great story. Yeah, I know it well.
Rick: Yeah, yeah.
Ameeta: And talking about fear and sort of not needing to expect for any of us that things are just going to drop out, and they may for some, but there’s so much depth to all of these issues. I mean, we can look at it in sort of a horizontal way where the fear is either there or not, or we can look at it in terms of to what degree the fear may have left and keep going deeper still because there might be, and there usually are, layers and layers of fear that can exist, you know, deeper in ways that are still unconscious. So, I do feel like it’s about almost excavating. Some things may leave us very quickly, you know, for each one, for each one of us the journey is different, and for some of us certain things can drop out of the system far, far more easily than other things might.
Ameeta: You know, so it’s really a, there’s a process aspect to this that cannot be overlooked, I feel.
Rick: You may have heard that phrase from the Upanishads that “Certainly all fear is born of duality.” And I think what that phrase means is that, you know, at the very, very root of the sort of transition from unity to diversity, there’s a kind of a sound barrier of fear that one has to break in order to make the transition back to unity. And a lot of people report that, they report this. I’ve told this story before, but when Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier no one had done it before and they didn’t know what was going to happen. And the plane was like shaking and shaking and, you know, and then finally he broke through and it all got smooth. And he was just cruising along. So a lot of people report this kind of a thing, that there’s this kind of turbulence or sometimes very intense fear that arises as they’re making that transition. I was listening to this guy, maybe I’ll interview him sometime, I was listening this morning, who when he was a child he clearly remembered what happened before he took birth. And then he remembered, and eventually he lost the memory but then he regained it when he started meditating when he was about 30. And he remembered the whole process of coming into this life and at a certain point there was firstly this veiling that got thicker and thicker and thicker and thicker you know just kind of covering up, you know, blinding him basically. But then at a certain point there was also the introduction of this really root fear that he started to feel, you know, before he kind of really became a fetus in the womb. It’s kind of the same thing we’re talking about but from the other direction.
Ameeta: Right, yeah, and I can really relate to that because one of the things that I had to really see at a deeper level what my fears were about was coming to body at all.
Ameeta: You know, just coming into human body, into this form was something I didn’t realize I had been fearing so intensely within my form that it carried a fear, it was visceral. And that was part of the discovery that emerged from my illness, which is, you know, I knew that all along and it had been addressed but I didn’t realize the depth at which that fear was held. Just coming into form, I just wanted to apparently not come into form at all. I was comfortable just kind of grooving in the end.
Rick: Yeah, well if what this guy said is true, I think hardly anybody wants to come into form. I mean you sort of want to because it’s a precious opportunity and it’s necessary for evolution but on the other hand it’s a heck of a culture shock to, you know, go from the state we’re in prior to form down into a form.
Ameeta: Right, right, and what it can mean for each of us when we contact it because there’s, you know, we can talk of it as a collective thing, we can all relate to that, but I think it might have a very personal flavor to it for each one of us when we actually encounter it in our experience, you know, like it’s like the same thing as fear of death but this is the fear of life in a sense.
Rick: Yeah, interesting.
Ameeta: You know, it’s a fear of being in form and it can take on really particular tones and I found that it was so useful for me to contact that and to learn how it wanted to show up and how it wanted to release in me, you know. A lot came to the fore from that. So I think it’s a big one for each one to encounter.
Rick: Yes, that’s interesting. I never really thought of it that way. I sort of have but you put it so clearly, you know, mostly people talk about fear of death but then the flip side is fear of life, fear of coming into it. You know, most of the people who have near-death experiences all say that they didn’t want to come back, you know, it’s like, “Oh really? Do I have to go back into that, you know, clunky old tiny thing compared to what I’m experiencing now?”
Ameeta: Yeah, yeah. And you know, we’ve probably heard, all of us listening on the show probably have heard of so many spiritual teachers talk about the courage it takes for us to be in human form at this time. Perhaps at all times but particularly now, you know. And I think that’s the same thing. It’s like something is really having to summon a lot of courage to take human form, period. And human form at this time, well it’s really fraught with challenges as we know.
Rick: Yeah, and you and I have it pretty good. I mean, you know, we have a decent education and we have a comfortable life and good food and all that stuff. But I often think about all the people in the world for whom life is such a struggle and, you know, it’s a shame that it has to be.
Ameeta: Yeah. Yeah, and so it’s always been really a great interest to me of how the spiritual path that I felt so drawn towards all so many years, how was it going to, because simultaneously I have this, you know, I keep in touch with the politics of the day and so on. And I’m really interested in socio-political issues. And so I’ve always, also there’s been a part of me that’s sort of, you know, been interested to see how those two come together, like what is going on and how do they come together. And that’s been a part of how my contemplation and inquiry, which is, you know, how does spirituality translate into living in our world, you know, and how can I, now that I’m, I want to share more actively in the world, how can I make, how can I bring that to the fore more, because this is a concern for many and many people. And I’m finding the need to speak to this more and more, you know, I’ve been sharing in small groups for a while and something has shifted because in the way I’m sharing there’s much more, much more of this element creeping up about how spirituality and our living situation in the world today can come closer together in, you know, and we don’t have to have reached some final stage in our spiritual journey for that to start happening.
Rick: That’s good because nobody has.
Ameeta: Right, exactly, even our idea of a final stage, right? I mean, we don’t have to hold off because I feel like these times are calling for more of, for more action by people who are more and more in touch with their true nature. So I think that this is a great time for us to be more active. In small ways, it doesn’t have to be in big ways, but just even in terms of how we are living our individual lives, I think that’s…
Rick: Yeah, so what more do you have to say about that in terms of the societal or political, socio-political implications of spirituality?
Ameeta: Well, for me, you know, after… I’ve been researching this for more than a decade and what I’ve really come down to, what is boiled down to at this point in my life is really very simple. I think that an individual has more power than we believe, you know, and that what we, what we say yes to and what we say no to may seem very trivial, but it has an enormous impact. You know, what we are joining with our yes and what we are not joining, not contributing to with our no, is the way that we exercise what we know to be true in the most powerful way, you know, and this is something that can translate then into more visible and bigger movements in the external world or it may stay simple and kind of on a smaller scale inside one’s own life. Either way, I think it’s of great importance to really be conscious of what we are saying yes to and what we are saying no to. You know, I know this sounds probably simplistic from where I started with the socio-political thing but I have learned, for me it was not just about, it was about how can I, how can, for me to discover, how can I be impactful, you know, how can I be impactful in a way that is true for me and which, where I can connect the dots. And this is what I have come to, you know, and tomorrow it may translate into my joining some movement. I don’t know. I don’t know how it, but for now this is what it’s, how it’s playing out, which is that I’m bringing this aspect to what, when I share this sensitivity about combining spirituality with our, with the state of our world in some ways. And also being really conscious of what I’m saying yes to and what I’m saying no to in my life, in small things to big things, you know. And just, you know, falling, stumbling and doing all that, but picking, you know, just having that as sort of a guiding thing for me.
Rick: So, as examples, saying yes or saying no, would you use sort of Gandhi’s movement in gaining Indian independence or Martin Luther King’s efforts in ending segregation as examples of sort of not being submissive anymore, just not just saying yes, this can continue forever, but you know, in a non-violent way saying nope, enough of that, we’re going to have to change things now.
Ameeta: Yeah, I’m so inspired by Gandhi. I’m just so inspired by what he was able to do with such love. But also I feel like another part of what he did, which is so inspiring for me, is that he was able to really utilize and leverage the strength of the ordinary human being, ordinary Indian, towards a purpose that was in everyone’s hearts. But, you know, just the ordinary ability of everyone to be able to join the Satyagraha marches, you know, the marches, the protest marches, was simple. Of course it did require courage because there was a lot of charges and the British forces often responded in ways that were not, that were violent. So it certainly took a courage, but there was just, there was something really beautiful about his appeal to every single Indian to call upon that which was their deepest aspiration, which was Indian independence and utilize it like that. He wasn’t looking for people with guns. He wasn’t looking for people with some extraordinary powers to, you know, and relying on those. But just what everyone has in themselves, you know, and calling upon that and saying if you value Indian independence here’s how you can participate. And that feels like just beautiful to me and inspires me for every, you know, for even for the state of the world that we are in today. It’s that kind of thing where everyone, no matter what your level of realization is or whatever you’re doing in life, you know, if you can, if you are troubled by the state of our world and if you want the world to be a certain way, then I think it behooves us to sort of start practicing that, you know. And you see that in the way that we’re so polarized in our political views and so on, you know, one side is hating the other and the other side is hating. Doesn’t matter which side, they’re all hating each other, you know. And I feel like that’s again where people who are on a spiritual journey might have a special little thing to bring in, which is, which is why do we have to hate the other side? I mean, I don’t agree with, you know, I don’t agree with, I have my political views, but it’s really been an exercise for me to really be able to watch the other side, you know, and not agree, not even sort of condone, but to really come to a place inside me of ease with it, of a place where I’m not literally sort of cringing in my seat and there’s a feeling in me that feels resistant and it feels has a certain energetic quality in my body is in a certain way. And having that sort of loosen every time I will often deliberately watch or listen to the opposite political viewpoint and do treat that like an experiment within myself to see and allow what I know to be true to kind of play itself out in my mind body as I’m receiving this thing that I don’t agree with.
Rick: See if you can watch it and maintain your discernment without getting triggered.
Ameeta: Yeah, and also allow that sort of that love to see, interested to see where that love goes, you know, like what is it going to do now? And what is it translating into? You know, like how is it feeling and what is it feeling towards this person? So I, you know, I think it’s a great way for us to really test out what we’ve recognized in ourselves.
Rick: Yeah. One thing I mean, I’m like you, I sort of follow the news and the politics and various issues like climate change and this and that, and I sometimes wonder if I didn’t have this meditation background how I would react to these things. And I think I might very well either become depressed or furious or, I don’t know, I was never the violent type, but I can sort of see how people would be inclined to, you know, go and do something that gets them arrested. Just because these problems are so intractable and they seem to be so, many of them seem to be such clear manifestations of short-sightedness and greed and selfishness and small-mindedness and, you know, those kinds of qualities. For instance, I watched this documentary the other night called Sea Spiracy, S-E-A Spiracy, and it was about, basically about the fishing industry and what’s being done to the oceans and about the oceans in general. And it’s like, oh my God, I mean, this thing alone could wipe out humanity. And then there’s climate change, which kind of is dovetailing with that. But in every case it’s like these people who are only thinking about their next paycheck or their next meal or, you know, their bank account, and with no regard for the next generation or the next seven generations or any such thing. So you can see it kind of gets me going when I talk about this.
Ameeta: Yeah, I, you know, I can really empathize with that sentiment. And I also feel, Rick, like, I feel a lot of empathy for our human condition at this time, you know, on both sides, on all sides. It’s no, like we were saying earlier, it’s no easy thing to live a human life. You know, it’s fraught with so much on both sides. I mean, it has amazing potential, but it also is fraught with so much of, you know, sorrow and suffering. And not just in terms of what we experience, but what we contribute to almost choicelessly, you know. I mean, if we think about it, we, you know, we’re not really all that much in control. To some extent we are. And I feel like human beings, you know, at this point where I am at this time, I just feel a real love for humanity and for sort of a sense of our frailty, of our, it’s like life has been using the human form to conduct an experiment. And how could we have evolved any differently? You know, because everything that happens, you know, from being on, from having our own realizations, we know that everything is life expressing itself, right? So even in the best of our behaviors and the worst of them are all life expressing its intelligence through us. And, you know, we have this free will and through our free will we’re able to have all these experiences and make all these choices. But so it seems like there’s choice and like humans are making a choice and we are. And yet behind it, you know, that life is making spirit, God, however you want to call that. So I just feel, it feels to me like on the one hand we must take responsibility because we’ve obviously done things which are, which are not helping the planet, are not helping the race and are not helping any race, any species on our planet. So it’s, it’s definitely not going well. But on the other hand, I think we have to have some, some sympathy for ourselves too, from this viewpoint that. So there’s a way in my, my world where we can take responsibility without blame, you know, and do what we have to do, call it what it needs to be called, but then kind of work from that love. Because what if, what if the attitude we hold, what if the attitude we hold is, is even more important than the action we undertake, you know? So I feel, I feel like, I just feel this draw. And I want to say that one of the ways in which I really came to this, this place in myself is, I know I’m bringing sort of a tangential thing in here, but I do want to say that is, is about, is by being in nature.
Rick: Being in nature,
Ameeta: Yeah. You know, taking walks and I’ve been for the last five years, been having this real deep communion with nature and I go for, you know, walks and I, I, I commune with tree and with mountain and rock and so on. And it’s a way for us to, for me and to get really like with my ear to the ground, you know, and sort of sensing the currents of, I don’t know what, how to put it, but it’s like the universe is talking to us when we, you know? And so there’s, there’s the news and everything that I read and then there’s this much larger sense and picture of life I get, like I’m putting my ear to a much vaster source and I’m seeing things in a perspective that just the news alone would, would never, would never give me, right? And, and this might sound really odd, but it’s like, I’m here, what I’m, one thing that I’m hearing is this forgiveness also from nature towards humans, you know? Because on the one hand we are destroying forests and trees and everything in nature and yet perhaps life has this understanding that how could human life have evolved in any different way? I don’t know that it could have. And if we take that view, then what remains to be done is to take responsibility without blame and to do what each one of us can do to our very best and, and, you know?
Rick: Yeah. I’m kind of reminded of Christ forgiving the guys who were nailing him to the cross, you know? Yesterday having been Good Friday. But, so it’s, it’s definitely, I can, I can imagine nature saying, “Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do,” but nonetheless they are doing it. I mean, he was being crucified after all and the environment is being destroyed after all and something’s got to change. And one, one kind of idea that we’ve been flirting around here with and haven’t quite expressed is that, and many, many people say this, that there is some kind of a big fundamental shift happening now in the world. And, you know, it’s some kind of global spiritual awakening and there are people who articulate it very beautifully and who also kind of outline various trajectories it could take, you know? Some of them really good in the long run, some of them disastrous depending on how we play our cards. But I do think that, you know, like when I watched that documentary about the ocean the other night, I thought, you know, on the level of passing laws and getting governments to do the right thing and getting businesses to do the right thing, it’s hopeless. That’s, they’re never going to do it. And so, you know, something I’ve felt for 50 years is there really has to be a shift in consciousness. Consciousness is the most fundamental thing and it’s the only level from which, it has the most leverage of any, any level. And if we can, and if that can really awaken in the world, then all these other things will kind of fall into place. Governments will just miraculously start making the right decisions and businesses will say, “What were we thinking? Let’s do it this way instead,” you know?
Ameeta: Yeah. Yeah, I agree with you. I feel that way too and I do feel like something is, something is happening because even, even like from the, in the last 10 years to now, you know, I think that people are in a place, we are all in a place where where things are coming, spiritually speaking, more easily to us at this time where, you know, they’re, they’re, they’re hitting the mark in us more easily perhaps than even 10 to 20 years ago. It feels like that, like, you know, that there’s something that’s ripening to understand and to connect with deeper place inside us and that’s life working. It’s working from, from that perspective which you mentioned, which is, you know, I think we need to up the consciousness on this planet a little and so that things can start to resolve and get resolved because I, I really agree that’s, I feel like that’s the place where, where it can be changed from and, and that is, that’s the only place, you know, because that’s going to govern how we, the actions we take and how we take them, you know.
Rick: Yeah, and there’s strength in numbers, you know, the more people who do it, the easier it’ll be to do. Like you were saying with Gandhi getting all the people on board with his efforts, I think there’s something of that nature happening more and more with spirituality. It’s just, you know, becoming more of a global phenomenon that, you know, was completely unheard of or practically unheard of back in the Yogananda and some people had heard of Ramana Maharshi, but it was just nothing compared to what it then became later in the 60s and then onward and, you know, these, even in the 60s it was quite innovative, and nowadays, you know, it’s really taken off and that gives me hope.
Ameeta: Yeah, me too. Me too, honestly. And part of my, sort of, yearning and part of my, where I find myself right now is to talk of, to talk of spirituality or the things that we recognize through spirituality in more and more ordinary ways, in more and more ordinary language. One of the things I found for myself is, like, I became used to a spiritual language, you know, how we can all become part of this thing where we are watching the same teachers and having the same things said in pretty much the same ways, and we get used to a language of talking about spiritual experiences and, and for people who are not familiar with that language, it’s not, it’s like another language and it’s kind of, you know, it takes a little while to learn that language. And I’m finding that there’s, what feels really apparent and noticeable to me is, like, the yearning for our depth feels like people are wearing it on their face nowadays, or, you know, at least I feel, I can see how each one…
Rick: Wearinrg spirituality on their face?
Ameeta: No, just the yearning to discover our true nature, like our, our depths, you know, people, it feels to me like when people are doing all kinds of things that they’re doing, I just sense a greater, anyway, I can, I feel like I can connect Rick with, with seeing that all of those things which are appearing as ordinary longings and yearnings are connected to something which is much deeper in them, you know, and that’s the yearning to, to connect with our authentic self, our real self, and…
Rick: So you see that really proliferating, do you? Yeah.
Ameeta: I do, I do, and…
Rick: How do you see it? Just in media or things you read or how are you aware of social media, how are you aware of that?
Ameeta: If you look at ailments like depression, anxiety, and, you know, the addictions that we’re having, rampant addictions and so on, and to me that’s a cry for help, a cry for something so much deeper than what they’re, what it’s translating to in terms of substance or in terms of, you know, the emotional setup, you know, it’s like something is calling much deep, from much deeper within to be recognized. So for me, all these things are really deep indications of a much deeper yearning, you know, and we’re seeing such a proliferation of all that, but also in terms of how people, I don’t know, this is my experience, you know, I think people are just tired of what’s happening in the world and it’s bringing to, to light, you know, when things are all really comfortable and life is going really well, perhaps we are less connected with that deep aspiration for what is really true, because what is not so true is fine, it’s comfortable, but what, you know, but when things are not comfortable, I think that’s one of the, one of the things of grace about challenging situations is that it really starts to bring to the fore this yearning of ours which is otherwise lying kind of dormant, which is the yearning to connect with something more true, more real, like this questions of what is really going on, you know, what is going on. So anyways, I feel like spiritual, you know, that one thing I would like to do through my work is to really talk about deep spiritual concepts or experiences but in ways that people can relate with even if they don’t know the language, even if they, you know, even if they sort of, even if they don’t purport to be on a spiritual journey.
Rick: So how have you begun to do that, or how would you do that?
Ameeta: Yeah. One of the things I am doing is I, you know, a program that I’m offering is sort of one of the examples of that. It’s a program called Beyond Thinking Mind. And in this program, the idea is just to enable people to come into contact with the sense of there being something much vaster and deeper than thinking mind. And so it doesn’t have to be a deep spiritual realization that we’re looking at, or it could be, but just the idea that we’re so, our perspectives have become so boxed in with just thinking as our only, our most predominant way of knowing is thinking, you know. And we’re not so much in touch with our other ways of knowing, sensing, feeling, you know, imagining, intuiting, having, you know, all these things, you know, there’s so many ways in which human beings know, can know. So it feels to me like we are, our reality, life is giving us abundantly, and we’re going to the ocean with a cup, you know, and, you know, and then we’re all suffering because we believe that there’s scarcity, you know, that there’s so much, this scarcity consciousness, you know, where we’re grappling with that. And so for me, this program and what I would like to offer in similar programs is a way of connecting with that in us which can receive life abundantly, because the issue is not that life is not abundant, the issue is that we are going to life with a cup, you know, with a small, you know, with our thinking minds alone, and trying to have everything come to us through that little vessel, which is an amazing, beautiful, powerful thing, but it’s still really small compared with our capabilities and our true potential. So through this program, what I’m trying to do is just introduce people to, you know, our hearts, our bodies, you know, nature, you know, things like that, that that I feel, that I feel can really open us up to a greater appreciation of our own capabilities to take in life and to receive everything that life is giving us.
Rick: That’s great, very well put. Yeah, I mean, essentially what we are is an unbounded ocean of potentiality, you know, energy, intelligence, creativity, bliss, and you know, and like you say though, we’re just sort of taking a little tiny cup full at a time, but the body is the portal, the whole mind-body system is the portal through which we can actually become aware of that unbounded field and integrate it so that we have constant access to it. We are it constantly as our individual, we are the ocean as the wave, as our individual wave continues to play about on the surface. I mean, that’s not a new idea, people have been talking about that kind of thing for a long, long time, but like you say, I think maybe people, it’s time for people to wake up to it more universally.
Ameeta: Yeah, and in simple ways, you know, and just simple ways, like there’s so much to be gained from just a small shift of perspective also, you know, because we’re really used to, we love ideas and thinking mind is so, is such an attractive thing, and you know, it also brings about this real disembodied kind of life where we can be so disembodied and we’re taken over. To me it explains a lot of how we are functioning socially too, you know, because we can be carried away so easily by ideas, we’re so susceptible to ideas from one side coming and grabbing us and then idea, you know, just this, if you look at what’s going on with social media and the ability of influencers and the kind of influence these influencers have by one message in somewhere in social media to me is tied with this, you know, it’s like when we’re not grounded in the body, when we’re not connected with something more stable, and our only frame of reference is the shifting, the shifting thing which is our mind, you know, we can easily be grabbed by the latest idea or something that has some appeal to us, and this is so, it’s not rooted, it’s not rooted.
Rick: Yeah, that’s an interesting point, I mean that, we won’t dwell on it because I’ve dwelt on it too much, but that gets us into the whole conspiracy theory idea where, you know, people are, they’re not grounded and, and their, their brain washed, you know, they’re susceptible, they, they hear something, they get something in the social media, sort of, you know, the algorithm guides them into focusing on it more and more, next thing you know, they’re, they’re just totally hypnotized by, by it. It’s, it’s really kind of a problem in society these days.
Ameeta: It is, and we have this kind of a little bit of a bias about, you know, thinking mind, I mean in terms of, we’re all biased towards rationality, you know, and we’re looking at this in terms of, you know, spirituality being as coming to the realm of the non-rational. For many people that can be construed as irrational, instead of, instead of perhaps post-rational, you know, and this is something that Ken Wilber really brings very beautifully to the fore, you know, in his whole pre-post fallacy thing, you know, where he says, so that’s another point which I just want to, you know, that’s something that I really want to be able to share through my work is this whole idea that, you know, the kind of stuff that you are talking about most of the time, Rick, and what we are talking about now, is not about opposing rationality. It’s about including it and going beyond rationality, right? I mean it’s, it’s to oppose rationality that is capable of including much more and rationality.
Rick: Yeah, it can only take you so far, but you certainly, you never have to abandon it. It just has its function.
Ameeta: And so in those wars, sometimes we see this attitude that everything is all of the non-rational lumps together and sort of put under one bracket of crazy spiritual movie stuff or something like that, you know. It’s all kind of combined with the shadier aspects of what might truly be pre-rational and so I think there’s a lot to be looked at there.
Rick: And you know, the really great spiritual teachers, Shankara, Buddha, and others, they definitely didn’t downplay rationality. I mean, they were clearly talking about something that transcends the intellect, but they also emphasized using the intellect to think in a discriminating way. Shankara wrote that book, the Vivekachudamani, the Crest Jewel of Discrimination, and it’s so obvious how a person can get off the track if they fail to sharpen that instrument. So many examples.
Ameeta: Exactly. Yeah. Oh yeah, I really relate with that, you know. I mean, even speaking of, you know, we were talking earlier about the gradual path and …
Rick: Oh good, I wanted to come back to that. Yeah.
Ameeta: Yeah, so one thing I think, you know, keeping with this thing we’re talking about, is what Adya would often do for me is in his teachings by his articulating something clearly, what would happen for me is that my mind would become conscious and catch up to an experience or an understanding that was already there in me.
Rick: Interesting, yeah.
Ameeta: But the fact of the mind registering that would become really powerful, because then it would be like a hundred percent of me could join that. Does that make sense?
Rick: Yeah, totally.
Ameeta: So I really feel like the mind has a big part to the intellect and the mind has a big part to play in sharpening the consciousness we can bring to something, you know, because the body can be conscious, you know, and the mind can still not be conscious. So often I think it’s a case of the mind playing like a catch-up job to a reality.
Rick: Yeah, and sometimes the other way around. Sometimes people are kind of …
Ameeta:Sometimes the other way around.
Rick: Yeah, they’re a little top-heavy in terms of their reading and thinking and all without enough experience. But I really feel like a balanced development involves both and the two of them sort of keeping abreast of one another, mind and intellect, understanding and experience. They’re like the two legs which we walk on.
Ameeta: Right, absolutely.
Rick: Yeah. Oh, and about this gradual versus direct thing …
Ameeta: If possible.
Ameeta: Yeah, go ahead. I’ve never … I mean, I’ve been in panel discussions and debates and all kinds of stuff about the direct versus progressive paths and I never actually … I know there’s a thing called … I mean, what I’m trying to say is I’ve never actually seen an example of a direct path leading one directly to any kind of full realization. I mean, sure, in a way you can start a meditation practice and have a direct experience of pure consciousness from day one but then you’ve got decades of progress yet to make while you continue to deepen and integrate that experience. So I don’t know if there’s really a conflict between direct and progressive paths. It seems to me that they’re just two aspects of any path that actually works.
Ameeta: Yeah, I don’t see any conflict, really. To me it feels more like the essential realm of a deep realization is timeless and spaceless. And so, you know, that happens timelessly and spacelessly but eventually that … in order for it to express in its counterpart of form because form is nothing but emptiness as a counterpart. I mean, that’s the language I’m using. So when emptiness translates into form, how can it, you know, it translates, it has to translate in the dimensions of time and space as far as we are concerned or as best as we know. And so it’s going to take, you know, but what time and space in the way we realize it is a stretching of the here and now, you know. To me, space is the stretching of now and time. I mean, time is a stretching of now and space is the stretching of here. And so what was recognized instantly has to now play itself out, stretch itself out in time and space. So I really don’t see any contradiction between …
Rick: Yeah. It’s interesting what you said about how, you know, you hear something from Adya and you gain a certain understanding and you suddenly realize that, “Oh, that has actually been my experience. I didn’t even realize it, you know, until I had the understanding.” So, not to belabor this point too much, but this is one example of how knowledge or understanding supplements and supports the experiential development. It actually enables you to recognize something you’re already experiencing which you hadn’t even recognized.
Ameeta: Right. And then, of course, because we now have so much spiritual information accessible at one finger click, we can go the other way, too, where we have a lot of knowledge. We can learn about traditions and we can learn about all … you know, we can be really up to speed on everything spiritual, but have not experienced much of it ourselves at all. So then it’s the other, like you were saying, the other part that has to do the catch-up job. So the experience has to catch up to the knowledge.
Rick: Yeah. I was listening to Swami Sarvapriyananda last night and he was telling the story about this Swami Thiriyanandaji who was an old man, very enlightened, and he had all kinds of health problems. He had these boils on his body that had to be lanced and very painful thing. He refused any kind of local anesthetic, but he was just sort of beyond it. And then one day he had some procedure done and the doctor started and he said, “Oh, oh, what are you doing?” And the doctor said, “I thought you didn’t feel this stuff.” He said, “No, you got to tell me first so I can sort of transcend and go beyond it.” But then there was this other guy who had seen his example of what he was doing and he had to have some kind of operation on his stomach or something. And he said, “No, no, no. I’m not the body. I don’t need to have any anesthetic. It won’t bother me.” So the doctor started cutting. He said, “No, no, wait, stop. I need the anesthetic.” And the doctor said, “I thought you could go beyond it.” And he said, “You know, I’ve just been reading too many books and the knowledge in the books stays in the books. I need the anesthetic. It’s not my experience.”
Ameeta: Yeah, no kidding. And I don’t even think that, you know, sometimes it’s interesting for me to see this because there are people who can sometimes have this notion that somehow wellness, spiritual evolution must go hand in hand with some sort of idea of physical wellness, you know. And I feel like there’s certainly a correlation there, but I think it can sometimes be taken too far, you know, like out of context because the body ultimately has to die.
Rick: Something’s going to kill us.
Ameeta: That’s just the reality of it. Yeah.
Rick: Like Ramana Maharshi had cancer and all kinds of, and Nisargadatta, I think, died of cancer. So I think there is a correlation between greater health and spirituality, but there are obviously exceptions to that that are, you know, even not only old age but some people are very highly enlightened and have severe health problems for years and years.
Ameeta: I mean, there is a certain, you know, I can understand, I can see how that can be an invitation to delve deeper. I mean, if there’s some aspect of the body that’s not working, that’s not functioning and there’s pain, or that’s a great, that’s an invitation to look deeper because there’s usually something to be seen there. But I think to get stuck in an idea that if I’m ill or then there’s something that’s wrong or missing is what I’m speaking about. Like, I think it’s not necessary to have that idea because that can be a real obstacle.
Rick: Yeah. I think that one explanation that might be offered is that, you know, there’s prabdha karma, which we come into this life with and it’s just going to do, it’s just going to run its course. But then, you know, there’s also new, I forget the name for it, you might know, that there’s new karma, which we might create or not create, depending on how we play our cards. And, you know, we can, there’s certain things that we have to go through, but there are other things that we just cause ourselves to go through perhaps unnecessarily. And, you know, this gets us into the realm of free will, which some people deny exists but I’ve heard you talk about it, and I think it is something we do have, and it can make a big difference in how our lives unfold.
Ameeta: I do think it’s one of the biggest gifts for humankind, and like any gift, it’s a double-edged sword, so it has its potential to be both dangerous and extraordinary. And I feel that kind of the transition, that transition from, so my view of free will, Rick, is that we, unlike most other, all creatures, as far as we know, on the planet have the ability to take life, to live life in an other-than-natural way, you know? So we can choose to not align with the natural flow of life. That’s what I would call free will, you know, that we can make choices and decisions from our mental makeup which may seem separate at times, you know, which may feel to us to be separate. So I really look at this spiritual journey in one way for me, is this, is the changing of free will in a sense. Like, when we come to a certain, by the time we come to a certain point I think the shift that happens in us is that free will becomes used towards aligning with life much, much more, rather than aligning away from the natural flow of life, which is what we all start out with doing. So it feels to me like free will is transitioning as we are, you know, through the spiritual journey. And there’s a conscious way in which we begin to use our free will to align with the natural flow of life. And that’s the piece also the way the individual, you know, like the whole thing about the individual, you know, we start out being an individual who considers herself or himself to be separate from everything else, life, God, each other. And then at some point we come into a realization of our essential emptiness. And then we, you know, come into this realization of we’re all one, you know, I mean, we can have these, these, these, these shifts of understanding. And I think from there, where we actually, for me, it feels like the, the circling back of that is really coming back to the individual with the sovereignty we were talking about earlier. But this time around, it’s about having life expressed through us, through the individual in a way that actually aligns with the flow of life. So again, you know, we can look at it in terms of free will or individual.
Rick: Aligns is the key word there. Yeah, I always, when we talk about this subject, I always think about row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, right? So the stream is carrying the boat along, and if you do nothing, you’re going to crash into the side, you’re just going to go off and get caught in the brambles. But you could also like get really willful about it, “I’m rowing the boat this way, I’m rowing the boat that way,” and that that’ll cause you problems because you’ll be again, crashing into things and hitting rocks and stuff. But if you just row gently, kind of keeping, tuning into where the stream is going, where the stream wants to go, and just kind of, you know, using whatever guidance you are capable of to keep the boat in the stream on track, then that, then it’s kind of like a frictionless flow.
Ameeta: Yeah, that’s, that’s beautiful. I love it. It’s really simple and to the point.
Rick: Looks like a question came in here. Two, a couple of questions, let me put my glasses on. First one is from Pietro in Urba, Italy. Pietro says, “I feel very connected to your point of view. I think poetry, art, and figurative languages may help people connect with their spiritual side. What do you think about the effort of science to study consciousness and awareness?” Or are those two questions, two separate questions from Pietro? i; No, one’s a statement, one’s a question.
Rick: Okay, I read that in a little bit of a disjointed way. Let me read it one more time. “I feel very disconnected, I’m very connected to your point of view. I think poetry, art, and figurative languages may help people connect with their spiritual side. What do you think about the effort of science to study consciousness and awareness?”
Ameeta: I love it. I think it’s wonderful. I think that science should, you know, I think science and spirituality have the same essential goal, which is to come to greater truth. That science tends to do it in a more focused, much more on the objective and spirituality tends to do it focused much more on the subjective. And that I think there’s a beautiful meeting point between the two. So when science seeks to understand spirituality more, I look forward to what they come up with so that we can all sort of benefit from that marriage and from that, because the attitude of science is one that I find beautiful. Like that very sort of clear experimentation, you know, that curiosity, that particular way of looking at, inquiring into something, is something that I think perhaps you’d agree with, that spiritual explorers are also doing. But we bring that same attitude to our individual experience inside, right? So I feel like, you know, I feel like my way of looking at my experience is pretty scientific, except that it’s subjective, you know, and so I cannot go out there and make claims that, you know, I can support in a sort of a reproduce in an experiment objectively outside me. That’s not possible. Not for me anyways.
Rick: But you take an empirical approach. You’re not just hanging on beliefs. You’re sort of saying, “All right, maybe this is possible. Let me see if I can experience it.”
Ameeta: I’m excited about what science has to share about…
Rick: Yeah, me too. There’s a whole category, the categorical page on BatGap where you can sort of look at various categories of the interviews and there’s one that’s sort of spiritual science or scientists and there’s all kinds of people in there like Dean Radin and Rupert Sheldrake and Marjorie Willicott and David Lorimer and all kinds of people like that. So Pietro might want to check out that category because we get deep into some discussions about science and spirituality. Okay, there’s another one from Prachi in Torrance, California. “What are your views on how to connect to the limitless information of the universe?”
Ameeta: Wow, that’s an interesting way of phrasing the question. Yeah, I would say put your ear to the ground. Literally, I mean to the ground, like, you know, a great way to start would be to literally go out on walks in nature where the influence of conditioned ways of thinking in the mind are at a minimum and we kind of can have the intention, and I think the environment supports that intention when we go out in nature. We can think or we can access something deeper than thinking mind alone.
Rick: Yeah, and I would add that in whatever way you can tune into that field of pure consciousness, or Brahman, or Samadhi, or whatever we want to call it, that field actually is the repository of all the information in the universe. We could say it’s the home of all the laws of nature and if you can somehow align yourself or become conscious of that then you will be tuned in. It’s not like you will possess all the information of the universe, which you really wouldn’t want. That would be a major overload, but your life will flow in a way that takes full advantage of that information, even if you’re not conscious of the specifics of it.
Ameeta: And you know, there are so many practices, meditation, and contemplation, and inquiry, and so on.
Rick: Yeah, whatever works for you. Another question came in earlier from Dan in London. Dan was wondering, and it was about what we were talking about earlier, Dan was wondering, is fear of form, fear of form, ultimately fear of death because bodies are mortal?
Ameeta: I think it is, yeah. I do think they’re very similar. I think it’s the same fear, essentially, because it’s one thing really going on. But I think it’s specific in the way it can be oriented. Like, one, to me, the fear of death is essentially the fear of knowing ourselves as emptiness, and the fear of life is essentially knowing ourselves as form because form always must include limitation.
Rick: Limitation in time as well, this form will end.
Ameeta: Limitation in time, exactly, limitation in time, and limitation in terms of expression, you know, limitation in expression. And this can also feel like a bodily limitation like literally feeling cramped in a small space all the way to a limitation in terms of in a bigger space. So I agree, I think they’re two sides of the same fear, you know.
Rick: Yeah, there’s another Upanishad which there’s a line which is, “There’s no joy in smallness.” You may have heard that one but just that it’s our birth right to be vast, to be cosmic, to be unbounded. And deep down somewhere we know that and if we’re not realizing it then there’s a kind of a fundamental frustration that, you know, that innate nature is being thwarted.
Ameeta: Yeah, and you know what I’ve been coming to appreciate more and more, Rick, is that there’s something really drawn here to that freedom, that beautiful infinity, you know, there’s something deeply drawn, I think for all of us, at one level there’s a deep draw. And I’ve really started to see the enormous intelligence and beauty of being in human form, you know, contained as it is and limited and fragile, and with all of its issues. You know, where I went from my illness and the Taos thing and everything was to come, I feel like every day I feel more appreciative of this ability for this human form, where we can actually be conscious of the infinity, the limitless, the boundless that we are, and yet be in this package called the human self, you know, the human mind-body. Because containment, because the containment gives it a certain, how would I say, it’s like, I don’t know how to put it really, I really struggle for how to put this.
Rick: It becomes a living reality.
Ameeta: It becomes an experiential, stable, stable reality.
Ameeta: You know, and I feel somewhere that that’s, and you know, I just, I have no proof, I can’t prove this obviously, but it feels to me like that’s that spirit’s intention, like to be able to, time and space are ways in which spirit gets to experience itself stably. Otherwise, without time and space, there is no stability. Paradoxical as that is that feels like what I’m tuning into these days, which is just this amazement of the human form being able to be conscious of the limitlessness and be able to live that out and experience it stably through form. You know, who knew?
Rick: I think that may be why we have a universe, basically. I mean, if there’s that famous quote from Brian Swim, he said, “You leave hydrogen alone for 14 billion years and you end up with rose bushes, giraffes, and opera.” But, you know, I think the universe could be seen as this giant evolution machine which is constantly evolving forms which are more and more and more capable of embodying the unboundedness so that it becomes a living reality rather than just an unmanifest reality. And there’s greater joy in that.
Ameeta: And there’s great joy in that. There’s some joy in that. I just quickly wanted to say that, you know, there’s an aspect of the unbounded that can be chaotic also, right? I mean, it can be really chaotic to have so much freedom. And so I think form is also a beautiful way in which that freedom becomes contained and can become more, at least in the human context, responsibly used, if that makes sense, you know? So there’s that aspect about being in human form, knowing your limitless source and your essential unboundedness and having that translate into a responsible way of being in form, you know, which that’s attractive to me. That has a deep draw for me.
Rick: I guess another way of putting it is that boundaries alone are stifling, you know, repressive. Unboundedness alone is not livable. It’s not a living reality.
Rick: But boundaries and boundless properly integrated becomes, you know, a marvelous opportunity for, you know, being an instrument of the divine.
Ameeta: Absolutely, yeah. Couldn’t say it better.
Rick: Yeah. So tell us more about, you know, what you do with people if people are listening to this and they want to say, “Oh, I want to plug into her. Is she offering courses? Does she give webinars? Does she have a mailing list?” You know, what kind of things do you do?
Ameeta: All of the above. So thank you for, yeah, letting me speak to that.
Rick: You have a website which I’ll be linking to from your page on BATGAP.
Ameeta: Yeah, it’s called Moving Mountain Academy, and yeah, so I offer long programs, I offer short courses. There’s one starting in May. I offer weekly satsang, which is free, a weekly meditation session, which is free–I’m sorry, a monthly satsang, which is free.
Rick: Is this on Zoom or something?
Ameeta: Yes, it’s all on Zoom for now, and, you know, so–and I keep–I will keep on adding courses and programs. Right now we have an ongoing program, and there’s one upcoming in May.
Rick: And what do you do in these programs? What do you teach?
Ameeta: So, yeah, so what I do is I’m sharing from, like, around all the stuff we spoke about, Rick, but every program or short course typically has a theme of exploration, which we sort of dive into together, which is, you know, specific to that program. So, for example, the one I have upcoming in May is called Softening Towards Humanity, and it kind of touches on what we were speaking of earlier, which is this way of looking at our problems, taking responsibility without blame, you know? So that’s one. The one I’m currently doing is Beyond Thinking Mind, and there are a few in the offering. But there’s also a monthly satsang, and so some of my offerings are free. Some of them are paid and even for the paid one, there are scholarships, so, you know, that’s available also.
Rick: Good, and this can all be found on Moving Mountain Academy, right?
Rick: Or will be. I notice there are parts of your website that are under development still.
Ameeta: Yeah, they are. It’s a new website, so, you know, we’ll be adding content and adding more stuff in the weeks and months to come.
Rick: So even now people can get on your email list there and then be notified as things come up?
Ameeta: Yes, that’s true.
Rick: Great. Well, is there anything else that you want to say that you haven’t said?
Ameeta: No, I think we covered a lot of ground, Rick. I feel really grateful to you for just the show, and I just want to say, you know, when I first started watching your show I was so hungry for this kind of conversation because I didn’t have too many places where I could have this kind of thing. So I really, you know, I say thanks to you for hosting this for so long and bringing so many of these perspectives out in the open where people who are hungry like me could go to and listen to.
Rick: Yeah, well hopefully you’re still a little bit hungry. You haven’t totally sated.
Ameeta: No, no chance of that.
Rick: Yeah, me too. It’s kind of like you can be full and hungry at the same time can’t you?
Ameeta: Yeah, I know, I know.
Rick: Good. All right, well, thanks so much. I’m glad we finally got a chance to do this. Do you still send out e-mails that have those poems in them?
Ameeta: No, I don’t anymore. I discontinued.
Rick: Okay, because I wondered, maybe I accidentally slipped off your list or something.
Ameeta: No, but when I start it I’ll put you on, Rick. Is that okay?
Ameeta: Yeah, please.
Ameeta: That’s great. I will.
Rick: All righty. Well, thanks a lot, and thanks to those who have been listening or watching. And you know the drill. Go to batgap.com check out the menus, see what’s what. All kinds of interesting things, past and future and present. So we’ll see you next time and thanks again Ameeta.
Ameeta: Thank you so much. And I want to say thanks to Irene as well.
Rick: Okay. Ameeta says thanks. She’s sitting right here writing something down. I don’t know what. Yeah, she’s kind of an unsung hero, because, you know, she does as much as I do with this whole program, you know, behind the scenes, kind of organizing all kinds of things in our lives and in BatGap and selecting the guests and kind of checking them out. She has good judgment about weeding out the nutcases, I guess would be one polite way of putting it. [ Laughter ] Anyway. i; Not always.
Rick: And our other — not always. A few of them slipped through the cracks, like me. But then we have some other wonderful volunteers, too. I might as well mention them since this has come up. Angel Markloid, who does our video post-production. There’s a volunteers page where you can see these people and links to their websites. And Larry Kelly who does the audio post-production. And Jerry Bixman who does a whole — you’ve met both of these people now, and who does a marvelous job kind of getting everybody organized sometimes spending hours with people getting their equipment working right and all. And oh, boy. So — and a bunch of other people who occasionally do translation. And Dan in London. Dan has been doing a marvelous job making — for years he was the guy who forwarded the questions and about a month or two ago he started making main points. So that’s his — during the interview, so that I can put main points on the webpage and in the e-mail that we send out. So I couldn’t be doing all this by self and I really appreciate all these wonderful helpers.
Ameeta: We too, as viewers. So thank you so much, Rick.
Rick: We’ll see each other again, I’m sure. Maybe you’ll come out to the S.A.N. conference when we start having those again.
Ameeta: I hope so, yes.
Rick: All right. Take care.
Ameeta: Take care. Bye-bye.