Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest this week is Amoda Maa Jeevan. Welcome Amoda.
Amoda Maa: Hi Rick, pleasure to meet you.
Rick: Yeah, it’s been lovely getting to know you over the last couple of weeks, reading your books and listening to quite a few hours of past interviews and talks that you have given. I communicated with you by message earlier today, but there was one of your talks in which I found it was kind of astounding in terms of its wisdom and its coherence. You went on for the better part of an hour just with this really deep unfoldment of knowledge and I was very impressed. I could barely carry on for two sentences like that. I think people will enjoy this interview and will probably enjoy reading your books if they choose to do so. One of them is entitled “How to Find God in Everything”, which I think is an intriguing title, and another “Change Your Life, Change Your World”. We’ll talk about what’s in those books and all. But let’s start by talking about how you got to the point where you could have written such books. What you consider significant in your life as relevant to your spiritual unfoldment.
Amoda Maa: Well, it’s always not knowing which doorway to come into because there are so many threads that have brought me here, so we could sort of start anywhere. But I guess the most pertinent doorway is that my life has been one of psychological suffering, mental and emotional. I had a challenging childhood, which I won’t go into the details, but it left me very introverted, at periods of my time mute. I was unable to speak, I experienced a lot of shocks, a lot of isolation.
Rick: Difficult family situation or something?
Amoda Maa: Very difficult family situation. I was born into circumstances that were kind of shrouded in shame and secrecy, not knowing who my real father was and not knowing this until later in my childhood. But the kind of inheritance was one of, like, there was some terrible secret and that I wasn’t good enough, and I was kind of the ugly duckling, and this kind of feeling, and then experiencing the shock of finding out. Also, I was actually in a war. I experienced wartime in the Mediterranean when I was in my teens. I was 13, 12-13, and that was a huge shock to experience that reality wasn’t what it appears to be.
Rick: Greece and Cyprus, was it?
Amoda Maa: Yes, indeed. And then, not knowing which culture I came from, it was very confused and mixed, and many many circumstances that were very sudden and unexpected. And all of this, the reason I’m saying all this is that it really sort of created a bedrock in my life of the question, “Who am I?” Not consciously, but subconsciously, always wondering what my identity was, and sort of feeling without a kind of identity, like not having a definite ancestral root.
Rick: I think it’s good to mention this stuff, at least in passing, though, because a lot of people go through difficult childhoods, but some end up with a “Oh, poor me, I’m damaged for life” mentality, and others see it as a springboard for spiritual inquiry.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I mean, obviously I didn’t know this when I was a child, and growing up in my twenties, so there was a lot of confusion and a lot of lostness. But yes, it sort of led to the more conscious question. And in my twenties I was an academic, I got lost in my head.
Rick: You read Carl Jung when you were fourteen, I heard you say.
Amoda Maa: Yes, yes.
Rick: That’s impressive.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I was very serious as a child. I told my mother once that I wanted to be a nun, and I must have been five or six years old, maybe seven, eight. I can’t remember. And the reason I told her that, I got a good slapping, at least verbal slapping, was that I was really drawn to that inner silence, even when I was a child. And I was very serious, and I loved Carl Jung and Leonardo da Vinci and all the greats, and when I had my interview at school as to, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I said, “I want to be like Leonardo da Vinci”. “Oh, so you want to be an illustrator of science books?” “No, that’s not what I meant. I want to be a master”. So there was a seriousness to me, but life came at me and really shattered my reality so many times that I ended up getting very academic, very lost in my head. And I spent many years at university studying for a doctorate in psychology, searching for the meaning of life, but ending up immersed in statistics and experiments that had nothing to do with real psychology, and I think that’s the experience of many psychology students, as far as I know. But it kind of broke my spirit, and this went on for many years until finally something crashed. I mean, I was suicidal during that time, I was depressed, I had several suicide attempts.
Rick: Serious ones?
Amoda Maa: Serious ones, yeah. My parents don’t know this, so if they’re going to watch this interview, this will be a surprise to them.
Rick: I’ve heard you say it in other interviews, so the secret is out.
Amoda Maa: Yeah.
Rick: Did you finish the doctorate?
Amoda Maa: Well, this is the interesting point for me, is that I came within three months. I spent seven years studying for the doctorate. It should have taken three, it took me seven years, because I was always pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable, in terms of the topic I was studying. Within three months of completion, I had a big emotional, spiritual crash, call it what you will. It was very sudden, it happened very quickly, and I couldn’t complete. There was a huge letting go in that, and again, a loss of identity, and it was probably the worst and the best thing that had happened to me at the time. Because on the one hand, I spent many years in regret and grief about that, and the loss of what could be, and all the years that I invested in that, but actually, I completely lost my sense of, I saw that I had hung my sense of self on this achievement of a PhD, and the approval of my father, the approval of authority, and the only way that I knew how to feel that I had any inner authority or voice in the world. When I lost that, I kind of lost everything internally, the ground of my being kind of shattered, but I also lost everything externally. I lost my home, I lost my money, I became penniless, I became quite destitute, I lost my long-term relationship, obviously I lost my career and my focus, and I became literally a nobody. I hadn’t started the spiritual search, even though I was very into depth psychology, I hadn’t started anything spiritual. But I had this huge opening, this huge void, that allowed me to get a sense of something much deeper, and I had many very sudden mystical experiences that came to me in that opening, where I guess I kind of saw the nature of reality, I saw the holographic nature of existence, and it was like everything that I had ever questioned and searched for through my academic studies came to me in an instant, and it kind of blew my mind and it blew my heart. Then I had to go on this deep journey of self-discovery, a lot of therapy, a lot of questioning, I started meditation, and everything happened very quickly after that, a lot of inner growth. But a lot of pain, because everything that had been suppressed up until that point just came rushing forward, and I had to find tools and techniques to deal with that, a lot of it was to do with abandonment. Gradually I grew internally, and I ended up in India, as many seekers do, and I ended up at Osho’s ashram, and Osho had just left his body by then, but I had this real sense of what love really is. I had never known until then what love was. I was always looking for it in a relationship, and then always feeling abandoned when that didn’t meet my needs. And I really got it, and I got it very quickly. I wasn’t looking for enlightenment, so even though I was a seeker I wasn’t really seeking enlightenment or awakening or anything as dramatic as that. I was really seeking happiness. It was much more basic, if you like. I was seeking happiness, I was seeking love.
Rick: Perhaps you felt that enlightenment or awakening were too lofty a goal, and that you would settle for just “Give me some happiness”.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, absolutely. It was still self-centered, if you like. It was for me, I want a peaceful life, I want a happy life, and so that’s where I was at. But that seed, that fragrance, that Osho’s essence offered really touched me very deeply. When I came back from India, something had been planted in me, if you like, and from that moment on I did have some insight that the real guru is within, or the real guru is life itself. So I guess my focus became a real surrender to life, a real opening to life in a way that I’d never done before. There was a very profound teaching that I had once, it was actually through the ayahuasca medicine, the first time I tried it. I guess that’s when I got a bit more serious about my spiritual seeking then, rather than just trying out different experiences. I did ask the question – I can’t remember what the question was – but I wanted something important to me answered, something profound, something that had real meaning as to how I could really open to existence. And I guess my question was, “if I open to love, if I give love in other words, what will I receive? What’s the risk?” So I was still concerned with what I would get back, and the teaching that I got, or the message I got, which was like a big Zen stick, was that there are no brownie points in heaven. It sounds so simple, but it really hit me to the core. When I felt that, it was like, wow, there’s no reward. It’s an unconditional giving of myself, and I realized how still I was holding myself back from the world, from being love, from offering love, from knowing love.
Rick: Don’t you feel that you’re kind of living in a very rewarded condition though, these days? That there was in fact a reward?
Amoda Maa: Yes, but it’s only in dropping the whole idea of reward. Now I feel blessed, now I feel my life is filled with grace, but that grace doesn’t always come in the way that I’d like it to be. So the whole fantasy that I had, which was one of perfection and everlasting peace and everlasting happiness, and that I’m a good person and only good things come to me because I think good thoughts and I feel good things, that’s all gone. That was the beginning of it, and this was many many years ago. So that was the kind of opening for me. After that I started teaching myself. I used a form of active meditation that I developed myself, but also drew from our show, and was supported in that, where we did a lot of shaking and it was crazy and wild. I used a lot of improvised live music and there was lots of screaming and shouting, and it was very ecstatic and liberating. A lot of my personal growth came from liberation through emotional catharsis, and freeing the body of its armoring. I was steeped in breath work as well, and all that, primal therapy. I modified that and created my own technique, and I was teaching for many years, and it really brought me into the world in a way that I had been unable to before, and interfacing with people in a way that I had been very scared to do before. It was a great teaching for me, and I reached a place in my life which was kind of stable. Well, nothing has ever been stable in my life, but it was relatively stable. It had some direction and it was very rewarding on many levels. There was joy in a way that there hadn’t been before. And then I had a huge shock when my long-term relationship – which had been ten years, it was a marriage – very dramatically suddenly ended. I went through a lot of grief and I lived on my own and went through a whole sense of abandonment again, and had a lot of support internally and externally through that, and came to a place where I was very comfortable in living with myself. And then it was like, bang, this real dark night of the soul came, and it was much more conscious and much more all-enveloping than anything I had experienced before. It was reminiscent of some of my suicidal periods, except this time there was no movement towards that at all, because I was much more conscious and I was an experienced meditator, so there was no way that was going to happen, but it had the same flavor. It grew over several months, this inner darkness, which took me totally by surprise, because my external world was going real well. I had no teacher, I had no guru, I hadn’t been to India for several years, there wasn’t anything I was clinging to particularly, and I just knew that this time I had to really face it once and for all. My desire was for freedom above and beyond happiness, above and beyond love, above and beyond success, above and beyond anything else that I had been clinging to before. And it came from the depths of my soul, and it was just very quick. This voice came from within me that said, it was like a prayer I guess, a prayer for freedom, for truth, for whatever it took. And I fell to the ground, and it was a kind of surrender, a deep deep surrender, a letting go of everything, and a kind of death. I experienced it like a psychological death. And in that moment I received a vision, which totally took me by surprise. That was the basis of my book, because I was compelled to write, not necessarily about the vision, but what the vision had kind of sown, seeded in me, which was something to be shared, because it wasn’t mine, it didn’t belong to me, it was a collective vision, it had significance for humanity’s evolution.
Rick: You’re going to tell us what the vision is, right?
Amoda Maa: It’s kind of long, so I don’t know if you want to…
Rick: Long is okay. These interviews go two hours sometimes, so take your time, make it comprehensive.
Amoda Maa: Well, it took me by surprise, Rick, because it was very God-centered, and I had never been able to use that word or had any sort of theistic leanings, religious leanings. It’s not religious, but that’s the symbology that came to me. The vision was an experience that had me walking through the valley of death, had me walking through the valley of darkness, which was both an internal landscape of darkness, the landscape of suffering, whatever that means in one’s personal life. It had its own flavor for me, but it had a collective flavor as well. It’s the suffering of humanity, both physical, emotional, spiritual, and it was a very desolate landscape. I found myself dying within that. It was a kind of Bardo state, I guess, a hell realm, and both the inner hell realm and the outer hell realm that we’ve created, samsara, and the world of destruction and pollution and violence and war. I experienced this, and as I walked through it, I was giving in to this desolation, this despair, this destruction, and out of that darkness, as I surrendered to my death, I had a moment of gratitude, and that was the turning point. And that gratitude wasn’t for the good things. It wasn’t for, “Oh wow, my life’s so great”, or, “Wow, I’m so lucky”, or, “I’ve got great friends”, or whatever. It was a gratitude for all the suffering. It was an embracement of the darkness, because the darkness holds the light. It was a tiny glimpse of gratitude, but it was like a flame in the center of my heart, a flicker of a flame. And that flicker of a flame was enough to create what felt like and what was seen and experienced as this golden thread that connected from my heart outwards and upwards. And I found myself rising into this light and walking up a set of golden steps. I guess it was like the staircase to heaven. I experienced myself as having gone through some kind of death, so it felt like I was rising to heaven. And here would be the everlasting peace that I had fantasized about when I was younger. But it wasn’t that, and I had to see through the illusion of that, and I was being called to be absolutely present without any agenda, no agenda of everlasting peace or heaven or a future paradise or sweet sleep. But to be very very present as I went up these steps, and as I was very present, I was present to all that. I was present to all the masks, all the defenses, all the subtle veneers that I was carrying as I faced reality, as it unfolded in each moment. And through that presence, through that absolute anchoring in that presence, those veneers, those masks, dissolved. And I found myself literally becoming like a child, innocent, and more naked, literally and metaphorically. And my eyes became clearer, my sight became clearer, my skin became more translucent and tender, and I walked up the steps and I became more open. Finally I reached the top of this staircase and it’s imbued with light and a deep presence that I could only describe as God. An I Am presence, and I surrender into this, and it’s the final sacrifice, if you like, a complete giving of my self into no selflessness, into I-Am-ness. And as I do this, it’s like a sacrifice of the ego on the altar of God. I find myself merging with this I-Am-ness, so there’s a deep mystical union in which I am God, I am I-Am-ness, I am this presence, I am this that is here. And in this moment I also find myself, if self is the right word, because it’s much greater than self, but I find myself becoming or being the Holy Mother. So we have the I Am, the Holy Father aspect of God, and we have the Holy Mother aspect of God, the transcendent and the imminent. The Holy Mother is the milk of human kindness, the unbounded, unconditional love, that is love in action, that pours her compassion into the world. So from her breast flows this milk of human kindness that becomes a river of love, a love in action, that goes into the world, down the steps, through the landscape of darkness that I had experienced, and repopulates it. It becomes a living paradise, it becomes fertile, so it’s very tangible, it’s very material, it’s very earthly. And out of this union of the transcendent and the imminent, the Divine Father and the Divine Mother, which are really qualities in the heart of existence, is born a third quality, which is Christ consciousness. And this Christ consciousness is experienced as the golden child, the birth of the Holy Trinity, the spark of Divine intelligence, and it’s very active and it’s very co-creative. It’s the co-creative aspect of self that knows itself as God, that knows its I-Am presence, but goes into the world and co-creates a new reality. And this was mind-blowing to me, as you can imagine.
Rick: So all of this was happening while you were kneeling on the floor, having made this supplication. All this unfolded in your consciousness, and meanwhile if someone had been observing, they would have seen you kneeling on the floor there. And obviously you probably couldn’t have articulated it the moment after it happened, but you’ve had time to think about what the experience was and put it into words. But basically this all happened in the span of, I don’t know how long, a few minutes or something.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I don’t know, maybe it was like 20 minutes or something. I was actually on the floor on my back, I completely surrendered.
Rick: Lying down, okay.
Amoda Maa: Lying down, and when I came out of it, I actually remembered word by word, because not only was it a visual experience and a very tangible experience, a sensorial experience, but I actually heard the words. It was almost like an internal voice, and it was very specific. Each one of those visual movements as I moved from darkness to light had a voice with it, almost the voice of God, I don’t know what, something speaking. And I wrote it down, because I’ve got a very good memory. I wrote it all down, word for word, and then I put it away and let it just digest and thought, “Wow, that was interesting”. When I came back to it and re-read it, I was like blown away. That’s when it started to really embed itself in me, and yes, I did contemplate it, and I took it as a very personal message initially, and I applied what I felt were two keys, the key of presence and the key of openness, into my life through every experience that I was having. And because I’d had it as a very sensorial experience, a kinesthetic experience, at least internally, I could feel when I was off-track in my life. So it was a real teaching for me. That was my teaching, if you like, that was the most profound lesson.
Rick: Did you feel either then or now… You listened to the interview I did last week, and there was an experience I had where I felt like there was some kind of divine being that interceded and had some influence on me. Obviously ultimately nothing is outside the self, we contain everything, but in a more relative sense there are sort of different manifestations of the divine. Did you feel that there was actually some sort of anointing, as it were, by some higher angelic or whatever kind of being that triggered that experience, or was it just really your own biochemistry, your own inner mechanics unfolding themselves?
Amoda Maa: I don’t like to externalize anything, and I didn’t experience it as any being or entity. It was much more like you’ve just described it, my own biochemistry. I was perhaps wise enough to know that the symbology that it came in was not necessarily literal. It was that, it was a symbology, it was more the essence of it that was important. I really just saw it as an opening in myself.
Rick: But you mentioned the word “God”. Again, you also said that ultimately you realized experientially that you merged with God, you and God are one, and we could all ultimately say that. But there does seem to be a kind of a divine intelligence that usually is much more vast than our individual expression of it or our individual appreciation of it, and that often orchestrates things in our lives in ways that we couldn’t have anticipated. Was there any sense that this was a blessing that had somehow been almost like a recruitment, in a way you could say, “Okay, Amoda, you have the capacity to serve in some way, now let’s prepare you for that. Boom, here’s this experience”. Like that.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I didn’t get that immediately. It took me probably about a year after that to get what you’re saying. And that really came because somebody that I had gone to visit who works with genetic codes, and he knew nothing about me. I’d gone for a reading, if you like, because I was at a particular stage in my life where something new felt like it was emerging, and I’d gone into kind of not knowing, I was beginning to drop the movement and release work that I’d been working with people. I felt like something new was emerging. So I’d kind of gone for guidance really on that, or feedback, and he blew my mind because he said he knew nothing about any of my experiences. He says, “You’ve got to share this vision with the world”. I said, “What vision are you talking about? I don’t have a vision for the world”. He said, “You know what I’m talking about”. Actually I was with Cathy, my partner, we’d only just started a relationship then, and he said, “I know what he’s talking about”, because I’d shared that vision with him. And he said, “It’s that experience. You’ve got to share that with the world”. And just that sentence again just blew my mind because I thought, “Wow, that’s what I’m here to do”. I had no idea how, I didn’t know what it meant, but that set me on the road to writing my book, and that really unfolded and birthed the vision. And then it was like, “Well, what do I do with this? I don’t know how to teach this. I’m used to running workshops and processing people’s emotions and helping them release their body armoring and all this stuff, and psychodynamics. How do I share this?” And so I tentatively started speaking about it, but that wasn’t it. And all sorts of things happened, and I stopped my other teaching, and I went into a period of not knowing, and once again I was kind of lost. And then finally, finally in the past couple of years, and probably really just only in the past year if I’m truly honest, and people have seen me around and they think I’ve been doing this a long time, I finally, although there’s no final resting place, but I feel like I’ve finally come home in myself. I finally let go of any agenda of what it should be and what it should look like, and I actually don’t talk about the vision anymore. I rarely mention it. What’s happened is that the deeper aspects of it, the living embodiment of it, not only has come forth in my life as a day-to-day reality in a very ordinary way, but it’s come through my work. So now I can offer talks and meetings and whatever you want to call them, satsangs and retreats, and this whole vision is the bedrock of it, but I never mention it because it scares people.
Rick: Yeah, it doesn’t scare me. I don’t think it will scare my listeners either. And I think it’s interesting, and there are so many historical precedents for it. I mean, Paul on the road to – what was it – Tarsus or Damascus or someplace, he was a big skeptic and critic and persecutor of Christians, and he was riding along on his donkey and all of a sudden, bam, he got zapped. Then it totally changed his life and he became one of Christ’s prominent followers. And there are so many in every tradition that have stories like this. And I’m just curious, maybe it’s an idle curiosity, but there’s a deeper profundity to it, a significance. I’m curious about the mechanics of, I don’t know if either of us, maybe you can probably answer it better than I, but why such things happen, and is it karma fructifying, is it some divine intervention, is it a destiny that we’re meant to fulfill that we’re finally waking up to? It’s fascinating for some reason.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I don’t know the answer to that, because whenever I’ve felt that this is my destiny… but whenever any aspect of my personality or sense of identity has become attached to it, it backfires. That’s not it. As long as I think that I’m important…
Rick: Yeah, I’m not implying that. I’m not saying that you would be thinking, “Oh, I’m so cool, I had this big experience”, but the experience was not insignificant. It obviously set you on a new course, and it’s just interesting. The whole spiritual smorgasbord of what this interview show is, and the whole spirituality in general, it’s something that I think is worthy of taking a look at from time to time, that these things happen and what they mean.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, it’s no different to any awakening, any enlightenment. How does that happen for anyone? It happens in many different ways, and everyone has their own particular unique flavor and expression of it. For some, as you know, it happens by sitting in front of a wall for years and years and years, like Adyashanti does. For Gangaji, it was in her own unique way, and each one has their own unique expression. This is how it happened for me. It’s only when I dropped the imagery of it and the symbology of it, and even the language of it, that actually the deeper expression of it has come through. Because whilst I was still attached to talking about God and the Holy Mother and Christ consciousness – and maybe that’s fine, there’s nothing wrong with that, and for some people that works – it ultimately wasn’t the whole expression for me. It’s only when I dropped that and just allowed the experience to infiltrate my body-mind, my living experience, without any attachment to it as an experience itself, that actually it started to become a very fresh, awakened perspective that can be expressed however is relevant to the needs of whoever I’m interacting with, or whatever I’m interacting with.
Rick: I think you were beginning to talk about that. You were beginning to talk about presence and acceptance, masculine and feminine qualities. Then I interrupted you with some questions, so perhaps you’d like to get back to that thread. The two keys, I think you called them.
Amoda Maa: Keys… Yeah, well, let’s just go back to the title of my book, which was “How to Find God in Everything”. That was inspired by a quote by the Indian poet Tegal, which was, “In order to find God you must welcome everything”. That was my personal experience, but that was encapsulating these two keys. To welcome everything is to open so wide in unbounded acceptance that nothing is denied, no experience, no challenge, no darkness, no whatever we might label it, a sin or evil. Everything is allowed, everything is open to, everything is here as it is, in order to be fully experienced, to be fully engaged with, to be fully met, to be fully allowed. In that allowing there’s a penetration, if you like, of the masculine into the feminine. There’s a penetration of presence into that vast openness, which is direct seeing, direct knowing.
Rick: One thought that kept occurring to me as I was reading your book and hearing you say that is that isn’t the capacity to accept somewhat important? What I mean by that is, let’s say a person has been abused and worn down to the point of a nervous breakdown, just zapped of all their energy and the slightest challenge is almost too much to bear. It’s almost glib to say that such a person should just welcome everything. Somehow they need recuperation, they need strengthening in order to be able to accept everything. Otherwise, what to say of everything, even the slightest thing could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.
Amoda Maa: Yes, and that’s where there’s a lot of misunderstanding on what accepting everything means. Very often we think that accepting everything is just saying yes to everything, saying yes to the abuse, yes to the… you know, yes, yes, yes, and there’s a kind of passive acceptance. This acceptance is way beyond that. It’s the acceptance that includes the non-acceptance, that includes the need to withdraw, the need to take care of self, the need to create boundaries, the need to say no, but it’s not an avoidance of that which is labeled as dark. I find that there’s a lot of talk or idea in some spiritual circles that there is no suffering. I’ve had that in some of my retreats where I’ve had one or two people who have been deeply immersed in non-duality teachings, particularly, who have been absolutely furious with me whenever I talk about suffering as a doorway to awakening or to direct seeing or direct truth, who say there is no suffering. It’s all an illusion.
Rick: I think they’re in their heads.
Amoda Maa: Absolutely, absolutely. But this needs to be dissected in some way. I read something lovely the other day, I don’t know if it’s lovely, but it confirmed this for me. I think it was actually something that I read by Andrew Harvey, who was talking about the Upanishads in that the first kind of awakening or the first realization is that the world is an illusion. That’s the first kind of awakening because as long as we think the world is all, that’s all there is, it’s the only thing that’s real, then we’re caught in the matrix, if you like, or the samsara, the maya. And then the second awakening is that Brahman is the ultimate reality, so emptiness is the ultimate reality. So the world is an illusion, so the world of form is an illusion, and the formlessness is the ultimate reality. But the thing that you can miss out…
Rick: I think you’re actually referring to a three-part thing by Shankara. He said, “The world is an illusion, Brahman alone is real, the world is Brahman”.
Amoda Maa: Exactly, that’s it. The world is a manifestation of that. And the final part is the part that’s often missed out. Many people stop short at that point. And it’s that that is the acceptance, the openness. That’s the holy mother to me. That’s when we’re fully engaged with life, fully meeting life as it is, which includes the suffering, includes the darkness, includes the pain, but isn’t identified with that. That doesn’t make us detached from it.
Rick: You often quoted that quote by Neem Karoli Baba, where someone came to him whose son had died or something, and they were expecting comfort and solace, and he said… what was the quote, how does it go?
Amoda Maa: “I love suffering, it brings me closer to God”.
Rick: Now, playing devil’s advocate on that, does that mean that a torture chamber is a holy place, that it’s an opportunity for tremendous evolution?
Amoda Maa: [Laughs] Well I certainly wouldn’t like to be in that position, nor to see anyone else in that position, but yes, everything can be a doorway, as long as it exists. We’ve had the Holocaust, and we have torture chambers, and we have horrific things happening, and that doesn’t mean to say that they need to be perpetuated. This is where the co-creator comes in, that we can co-create our reality as awakened beings. We have that opportunity, so we don’t perpetuate the suffering, but as long as it’s here in our current reality, then everything has the potential to be that doorway.
Rick: I must say I agree with you. It might seem harsh or heartless and it’s driven many people to atheism, but if we understand God to be this evolutionary force that’s fostering the growth and evolution of all beings in the universe, then you can’t really take him out of any situation, no matter how horrific. It’s hard to understand, but it must be some sort of tough love situation.
Amoda Maa: Yes, everything is part of the evolutionary unfoldment of life. If God is everything, and if God is both transcendent and imminent, and is what is, is here, nothing can be excluded. That means nothing that we experience in this earthly life can be excluded. That doesn’t mean to say that we are victims of that, or passive observers of that. We can play our role in it, and we have free will, and that’s also part of the evolutionary context. But that experience of suffering can be our doorway to that awakening of that co-created capacity.
Rick: I suppose a person might ask, “How can God do such and such to people if he’s a loving God?” The answer on a deepest level would be, “Well, God’s doing that to himself”.
Amoda Maa: There isn’t an external being, there isn’t an external God that’s doing anything to us. The thing is that God is who we are, we are God, and God is expressing itself through us, as us. And in that sense it’s consciousness awakening to itself. And that’s what’s happening in our current evolutionary climate, if you like. There’s only one way that God can come to know itself, himself, herself, and that’s through those living entities that have the capacity for self-awareness. And currently human beings are the only ones that have that. I think dogs are pretty close. But we’re at the leading edge of that.
Rick: On this planet, so far as we’re aware.
Amoda Maa: On this planet, as far as we’re aware. There may be other beings elsewhere. But we are being given or we are having the opportunity to know ourselves as the divine co-creative force through the process of awakening. And this is God becoming conscious of itself, and that’s part of the evolutionary context. So there’s nothing that can be excluded from that. And how can we get conscious if it isn’t through the pain and the suffering? Doesn’t mean that it has to stay here forever.
Rick: No, you express that very beautifully, and it’s one of my favorite themes. I wouldn’t say how can we get conscious other than through pain and suffering, because I don’t think that that’s an absolute necessity, but it’s probably always going to be part of the mix, and at least there will be phases of that in the development of any soul. But not exclusively that.
Amoda Maa: No, of course not. Certainly if we take the microcosm of our own lives, in my life the suffering that used to be a part of this experience certainly isn’t here anymore.
Rick: I’m sure you’re growing very beautifully now, but not through the hard knocks that you once had to go through.
Amoda Maa: No, because one meets whatever challenges come, and there’s always challenges in life. Already the presence and openness are the meeting place, therefore the resistance and the having to crash through things and have things break down and shattered isn’t here. So everything is met in the bowl of grace. That’s where grace comes in, so it’s gracefully met. In that there is a much more smooth, if you like, or free-flowing experience of life, and that’s very beautiful. So whatever comes, even when it’s apparently challenging, it has a beauty to it, and there’s always love and gratitude. So it changes in one’s personal life, so the suffering doesn’t have to be here, and neither is suffering perpetuated in oneself or in one’s environment towards others. So if you take that collectively, as we each awaken, then the suffering that we experience or see in the world doesn’t necessarily have to be perpetuated, and that again is part of the evolutionary perspective as more of humanity wakes up to itself. It’s only the ignorance that’s creating the suffering, the ignorance of who we are.
Rick: Yeah, that’s great. Perhaps we could say that if the infusion of the Divine were to the brim in enough people, then that sort of blissful sweet essence that one experiences in one’s own life would characterize the entire society.
Amoda Maa: That is the dream, yes, that is the potential, perhaps. But, just to finish that off, perhaps, I just want to reiterate, because I find this a very pertinent and important point, is that unless as individuals we can open to whatever we might label as dark or painful, or whatever we’re repressing or shutting off from within ourselves and our own experience, unless we can open to that and embrace that just by meeting it and allowing it and asking what is really here within this, then that will not change.
Rick: I’m glad you came back to that because I wanted to probe into that a little bit more. A few minutes ago I was asking, “Well, what if one really doesn’t have the capacity to accept everything and to be open to everything because one is so beaten down by life and feels like one can’t take another beat, another hit, without collapsing?” And you said, “Well, this doesn’t mean passivity or just becoming a victim and letting people walk all over you. It could also mean saying no or standing up to something”. So perhaps you could probe into that a little bit more to make it more clear to people, because I think people might find it confusing and it might sound like you’re advocating a kind of “do whatever you want to me” attitude as opposed to one that’s more proactive and balanced.
Amoda Maa: Yeah. I’ll give an example from my life perhaps. There have been certain relationships in my life that I would call abusive. And there has come a point in my life where I’ve had to say no – I mean, this is earlier on. But in learning to say no, that abuse has stopped and a strengthening of a sense of self – a psychological sense of self that has been a necessary healthy boundary – was then able to be part of my life, which meant that I was a healthier, more whole person and able to have healthier relationships. So in that sense there’s a definite no, a definite boundary created, and a definite sense of self rather than this no sense of self where I just allowed everything to happen to me because ultimately I felt not good enough. But when a cycle of abuse has been set up – if someone has a history of that and that is a particular pattern, once that cycle has been set – even when one sets healthy boundaries, it’s easy for that to be re-triggered in one’s life. It’s almost like a physiological pathway that gets re-triggered by certain situations. And that’s when we can apply our inquiry, if one’s ready for that, and not everyone’s ready for inquiry. Initially people may need to have these healthy boundaries created first. But once that’s been created, to then inquire into that trigger and to ask, “What is really”… In my experience, when something got triggered that way, a violation of a boundary, the feeling was one of being crushed. So I would really feel psychologically, emotionally crushed, almost physically crushed, and I would shrink, and that shrinking would manifest as withdrawing into myself, feeling very very small, and almost like a glazedness would come over me. So there’d be a… Sylvia Plath used to call it the “bell jar”. There’d be a sort of big glass wall between me and life, so I wasn’t fully feeling the vibrancy of life. When I finally inquired into what is being crushed here, for me it wasn’t so much who is being crushed, but what is being crushed here. What is crushed in this moment that I’m experiencing crushedness? And I looked at that, just in that moment of questioning it, I couldn’t find anything. And the crushedness disappeared, and then I was fully engaged with life again. So that’s when we can move beyond any idea of protecting ourselves, creating boundaries, saying no, but actually saying yes to the experience that is here, which is experience of being crushed.
Rick: So let’s just try to see if we can clarify that a little bit more. So there’s this paradox between accepting, loving what is to use Byron Katie’s term, and accepting things as they come, taking them as they come. It’s almost like the Shakespearean thing, whether to stand against the sea of troubles, or by opposing, end them, or whatever. I’m slaughtering the quote. But there’s this balancing act, it would seem, between taking a stand and saying no, I don’t want it this way, it should move that way, and at the same time loving what is and accepting everything as it is. Do you see that as something one needs to grow into the ability to do artfully, or is it that I’m misconceiving the whole instruction here?
Amoda Maa: Okay, so let’s see. It is a paradoxical situation. Let’s see if we can look at this in a slightly different way. It’s like saying no – if somebody comes at you with a knife, or if somebody comes at you with verbal abuse, you say no. That can be said no to. But then the internal experience of…
Rick: Accepting that that was a situation that you couldn’t anticipate, had no control over, and there’s a reason for it having happened, accepting it in that way.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, the acceptance is more in allowing oneself to feel deeply, without becoming a victim of the feelings that are triggered by that situation. So much accepting the situation, because if a harmful situation needs to be changed, we have the free will and the capacity as human beings or as living creatures to stop that and protect ourselves, to protect the life form from that harm. That’s part of our divine right. But to then either deny the internal experience by creating some kind of defense that might manifest as a kind of war between the external and the internal, where we then perhaps attack the external situation or defend ourselves to the point that we become self-righteous or defend ourselves by not actually feeling the tenderest feelings that were triggered by that and creating a kind of defensive system, a kind of psychological defense that perpetuates the idea that I’m a victim and he’s a perpetrator. It’s that more subtle awareness of any rebuilding or perpetuation of a kind of duality that says, “He’s wrong, I’m right”.
Rick: So let’s take an example. Let’s say you’re walking down the street in New York City and someone pulls a gun on you and steals your wallet – which happens every day in New York City, and probably a lot of other places. So there’s obviously adrenaline and fear and whatnot in the instance. And then a month later you could be a person who’s still afraid to walk down the street in New York City, or you could be a person who’s kind of processed that experience, accepted that it happened for some reason, God knows what, but it happened and moved on. Like water off a duck’s back, it’s been shaken off and you’re cruising on. Would that be a good example?
Amoda Maa: Yeah, but not shaken off by denying it.
Amoda Maa: It’s by investigating what is it that has been threatened here. Because there has been a threat, both a physical and a psychological threat, and not to deny that threat. It’s to investigate what is it that is ultimately threatened here. That’s what I mean by getting right inside it, neither avoiding nor attaching to it. Neither saying, “Well, this is terrible, it’s happened and I’ve been threatened, and so I’m going to create another identity out of this because I’m the victim, that’s the perpetrator”. But neither to say, “Oh, well, it happened and I’m just going to deny that experience and not even feel anything about it”. It’s to really allow oneself to feel vulnerable, to feel tender, to feel broken open, but then to investigate what is it that is vulnerable, what is it that has been broken open, what has been threatened here, what is the fear of loss or death or something being taken from me, and to investigate that. It’s the opening to that. It’s like the inside of the inside.
Rick: Yeah. Now this gets into an area which I often bring up, which is prescription versus description. Is this something one can prescribe, say, “Yes, this happened to you”, and investigate? Does a person have a lot of volition in terms of looking at these things and dealing with them in the way that you’re saying, or is it more that some people, perhaps through other means entirely, have developed the capacity to do this spontaneously? Do you understand my question?
Amoda Maa: You mean, is it something that we learn?
Rick: In your own case, for instance, when things happen to you now, I’m sure that you process them in a way that’s very different than you might have 20 years ago, along the lines that you’re explaining here, and that ability has become somewhat second nature. Did it become second nature through trial and error, through baby steps of getting better and better at it, or was there a shift brought about through some entirely different means – say, that dramatic experience you had, or meditation practice, or anything else – that has brought you to the point where this is the way you function spontaneously?
Amoda Maa: I think that it can happen both ways, but for me it did happen both ways. Following the vision that I described earlier, there was one particular situation very shortly after that – perhaps within weeks, perhaps within months, I can’t remember – where it was a psychological experience, it wasn’t a physical experience, I faced the fear of abandonment, which was not only an abandonment on a human level because of the breakup of my relationship, but more of an existential abandonment. I felt I’d been abandoned by life itself, and this was a very dark place, it was like a dark abyss. I faced it consciously, because of the vision that I experienced, it created a template for applying that presence and openness to this experience. I noticed how I distracted myself from the experience by just avoiding being still, internally. I don’t mean necessarily externally, but internally, I avoided being still. So I would jump into my fantasy mind, or I’d read a book, or I’d pick up the phone, or I’d check the computer, or I’d make a cup of tea, or clean the flat, or anything, both an external distraction and an internal distraction. When this black abyss emerged again in my life, I turned around to face it with absolute presence, and with absolute openness, I didn’t avoid it anymore. It was in that moment, which was another kind of death, that I really saw, if you like, experienced or cut through any idea that there was anything to be abandoned from. It was like it cut the cord, and from then on it was this natural inquiry into what is being threatened here, what is vulnerable here, that just happened naturally after that.
Rick: There was something in there that kind of pointed to what I was getting at. You said that “because I had had that vision, I had the capacity to face this, rather than running around cleaning the flat and making tea, I had the capacity to stop and face it and work through it”. Now, if you had not had that vision, which most people have not had, then where would that have left you? This is kind of a practical question, because I’m thinking of people who might want to apply what you’re saying, but might not have had visions or anything else. So how do they get from point A to point B? How do they put this into practice? I’ve been hitting on this for the last half hour or so, the question of capacity to do this versus just going through the motions and yet not really doing it because you don’t have the inner strength.
Amoda Maa: Well, that’s where we have teachers. That’s where a spiritual teacher comes in, or an awakened teacher. That’s the purpose of that. For me, I didn’t have one teacher. That experience was my teacher. For many people, then the teacher is that.
Rick: In a way, you had teachers. You went to Osho’s ashram and you did a meditation practice, jumping meditation.
Amoda Maa: I didn’t get that.
Rick: But it could have led you to the point where that experience was triggered.
Amoda Maa: Yes, I think everything was a preparation. I think without the preparation that I had, my personality vehicle was so messed up, if you like, that I might not have got it. So it was all a preparation, perhaps, which led to that vision being able to emerge through me. Otherwise I may not have understood it or integrated it or been available for it. Absolutely, that’s what meditation practice is for, or spiritual practice is for. It’s like cooking the pot. It’s preparing the way, preparing the vessel, so that when the deeper surrender can happen, the guru can come in with the Zen stick. But that’s what a teacher is for – that’s what Gangaji had with Papaji, that’s what Adyashanti had with his Zen master. And that’s what happens. That’s what I have with the people that come to see me. We don’t have to have the vision. In fact, it’s great not to have the vision in that way because mostly people get attached to the vision and then that becomes the holy grail. That’s not it at all. That’s just the way it emerged for me. So yes, that’s what we’re here for, to remind each other, to support each other in that. I think on one’s own it’s quite difficult to have the volition to apply that.
Rick: This is something that we discussed before the interview, or at least briefly brought up, the idea of whether a practice of some sort is either necessary or desirable for awakening or for preparation for awakening or some such thing. Would you like to elaborate on that just a little bit more?
Amoda Maa: Yeah, it’s a really interesting point. It’s one that comes up a lot and again I think there’s a lot of confusion about it. It’s like there’s a different answer depending on which side of the fence you are. It’s like before awakening, yes, we need a practice. I get so many people coming to my groups who intellectually get awakening, intellectually get non-duality, but goodness gracious me, they cannot be still and know themselves because they’ve never experienced true silence, true inner silence. It’s like, wow, you got it, you got awakening, but you can’t be still.
Rick: Do they realize that they haven’t got it or do they cling to their intellectual notion and cling to thinking that’s what all this is about?
Amoda Maa: Yeah, there’s a kind of split there, yeah, they kind of split between the two. It’s only in questioning and probing a little deeper, it’s like, oh wow, I really can’t be anchored or know the silence of my true nature because my mind is so busy and I’ve been avoiding it and yet I kind of get what this non-duality thing is. Well, hopefully that’s the point that I can go in and say, come on, let’s do the work here. So yes, we do need the practice, we do need to sit in silence, we do need the meditation, we do need the emotional catharsis – that’s another thing that I see a lot, is there’s so much emotional armoring that actually it’s very difficult to break through to the light of being, if you like. So all of this prepares the way, but then you have the other side of the coin where once awakening has happened, none of those things matter and none of them have any impact and you see that it’s not those practices that cause the awakening. The awakeness, if you like, is always here with or without the practice, and then the danger becomes, and this is also something that we see a lot, is that there’s still an attachment to the practice, and so there’s a struggle. Oh, I must do my meditation practice, otherwise I’m not a spiritual being. Well, hang on, you’ve just had a glimpse of the true nature of awakeness and yet there’s still an attachment, so it depends where you’re coming from, what the answer is. Again, it’s a paradoxical situation. In my case, I have no practice anymore.
Rick: I do, but I don’t claim to be… I’m real simple about it. I have people telling me I should give it up, but I don’t claim to be awakened or enlightened or anything else, and I’m simple in the sense that I find it so gratifying, very restful, soothing, enjoyable, enlivening, deepening, whatever, and as long as that’s my experience, great, I’ll do it. But I have other friends, one fellow in particular says, “Nothing happens to me anymore when I meditate because that pure awareness is there whether I’m meditating or not”. But he still does another kind of practice, which is more of an exploratory thing, seeing in what ways that pure awareness can be stimulated or what can manifest out of that and so on. But I think perhaps the takeaway point is go by what seems right to you.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I mean, once awakening has happened, it actually doesn’t matter what happens, whether you have a practice or don’t have a practice, or whether you… any of that. For me, it’s like all the movements that I’ve been doing, all the catharsis, all the letting go, all the screaming and shouting, none of that has any import to me whatsoever. It’s actually repellent in the sense that it feels jarring to this whole body-mind vehicle.
Rick: I think I would find it jarring too. So I guess that also comes down to what kind of practices are we talking about here, because some might be appropriate and some not, and one might move from one practice to something entirely different at a later stage of the game.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, and the same with formal meditation practice, there’s no impulse for it, because I truly experience silence as the backdrop of my life, so it informs everything that I’m doing and everything that I am. However, I also love just sinking into a deeper silence, which manifests as sitting still for a long time. That usually comes when I’m with a group of people. When we’re doing retreats, then just sitting in that silence is absolutely beautiful.
Rick: If we wish to define it that way, we could say, “Okay, well that’s your practice now”, if we wanted to call it a practice. It’s just not so formalized.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, it’s not so much what you do and what kind of practice you have, it’s just the identification with the practice, it’s deriving our identity from it. If we feel that we have to be doing something in order to be spiritual, or in order to be awakened, or in order to live in a higher state of consciousness, then we’re simply perpetuating another sense of identity, and it can get very subtle. So it’s just being authentic and honest with oneself as to what is moving through one’s life.
Rick: I do get the impression that regardless of whether or not you’re doing any sort of practice, or whatever you want to call it, your life continues to be one of discovery and exploration. You even mention that in the preface to your book, that you’re kind of apologizing to your friends for all the transitions you keep going through.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, it’s a continual unfoldment, and it becomes ever more refined. There’s a sense that nothing is changing, everything is just an expression of stillness or silence, and yet everything is moving at the same time, and continually unfolding and evolving and becoming more of itself. But there’s no sense of, like, “I’ve got to perfect myself or become a better person or improve my personality”. All of that has more or less vanished for me. I used to think that I had to really work on myself in order to be better and stronger, especially when it came to interfacing with the world, and especially through my work. Since I wrote How to Find God in Everything, I’ve been moved to speak about it, like we said, and teach about it, and it’s evolved. It was that that still had a hold over me. How can I present myself better? How can I be stronger? Because I felt like I still had a broken personality, and that still carried some shred of shame or discomfort with it. But somehow that’s gone now, and it’s like I am who I am, and I’m messed up. Well, I’m not messed up at all, but my history is messed up. It’s been painful and it’s got burdens and it’s been challenging, and I’m not perfect. There’s a whole load of things that I would rather have been different, but none of that touches me any more. So there’s a freshness and there’s an innocence, and it allows something else to come through, and none of that matters, and that’s what’s changed. It’s liberating, and it’s taken me a long time since the vision – since my experience of discovery, of awakeness – to come through. It wasn’t immediate, and still something is changing and evolving. I don’t know where it’s leading to.
Rick: Beautiful. I love listening to you because you articulate my own experience so beautifully, better than I could. I think you speak for a lot of people who might be tempted to fall into simplistic notions of what awakening is or where they are on the path and so on. You put it into a broader context that simultaneously accepts perfection and progress at the same time. There’s stability and yet growth. In a way, something is static and that will never be improved upon. On the other hand, there’s infinite room for improvement. You just explained this very well. I appreciate it. You mentioned that it was a little bit gutsy of you to use the word “God” in a book title, and that you actually got some flak from people about that. Let’s talk a little bit about God for a minute. In what sense do you use that in the title, and what is your concept or understanding of God?
Amoda Maa: Interestingly, I actually don’t really use the word “God” anymore. It has fallen away by itself. Not for any reason, not because I’ve tried to use it or not use it, and if it comes through, that’s great. But it’s just fallen away, and really what I’m saying with the word “God” is – well, we can use so many words. As I like to say, all words are lies. There is no word that is truth, the only truth is silence.
Rick: Be still and know that I am God.
Amoda Maa: Exactly. It’s the living experience of that that is truth. I use words in many different ways, and they’re often paradoxical and conflicting and confusing. When I offer my groups, I can see people’s minds getting very perplexed, because each time I actually use different words, not through any pre-planned idea of that or plan, but it’s just what happens. Sometimes I talk about divinity and God, and sometimes I talk about something completely different, and it all points to the same truth. I think words need to be both accurate, but also they’re never it. So what are we talking about?
Rick: We’re talking about God. Well, let me ask you this. The title of your book was “How to Find God in Everything”. So a nice hard-nosed question would be, “Have you found God in everything?”
Amoda Maa: If we can substitute the word “awakeness” for God, then yes.
Rick: Awakeness in everything.
Amoda Maa: I think that’s what it ultimately means. It’s awakeness, that which is truly alive and here, and what we were just touching on, both the unchanging stillness, but also the perpetual unfoldment of life from that stillness, out of that stillness, and the beautiful paradox or dance of that is God.
Rick: Beautiful. Let’s dwell on that for a bit. When I see a science program or something and they’re showing what’s going on inside of a cell, to me that’s like, “Whoa, God!” The unfathomable intelligence that’s orchestrating that, which is one little cell which is so far beyond our ability to conceive of what’s really happening in there, and we consist of trillions of them. Or you just watch a nature program with fish swimming through the ocean or something. Again, God, just this profound display and display of an intelligence that’s beyond our comprehension, almost. Even though essentially we are that, but in terms of our individual faculties to conceive or understand or perceive, it seems to be beyond that. When I first read your title, “How to Find God in Everything”, I was thinking along those lines, refining the capacity to experience such that the wonder of the intelligence that’s scintillating in every particle of creation becomes much more evident to us.
Amoda Maa: Yes, and in that perception, it’s like that which perceives that intelligence manifesting and coming through everything becomes aware of itself. It’s like the perceiver becomes aware of that which is perceiving, and that is the experience of God. Because as long as we’re separating that which we’re perceiving from the vehicle of perception, then we’re not really experiencing the oneness of everything, the God in everything. We’re still projecting it outwards and saying, “Wow, there’s God manifesting as that or manifesting as that”. That’s also a subtle thing that keeps happening where there’s an idea of what God is. When it turns in on itself, it’s like we perceive so deeply into the nature of reality that it turns back in on itself, and then we become aware, it becomes aware of itself. That is indescribable, that has no words, that has no sense of separation or self-perceiving anything. That’s the experience of God.
Rick: Are you referring not only to, let’s say, the state of samadhi, where self realizes itself in an abstract, unmanifest sense, but are you also saying that as you walk down the street and see a car and a tree and a child and a dog, recognizing the divinity in the objective world, recognizing that that self which was once discovered within is actually the essential nature of everything that was apparently without, is that what you mean by finding God in everything?
Amoda Maa: Yes, except that as you’re walking down the street there’s more likely to be a subtle sense of separation as well.
Rick: There had better be a little bit of one at least.
Amoda Maa: You’d be in front of the car, so it’s kind of part of the dance or the paradox, that there is always a separation as well. It’s only in the contemplation of it that there’s true oneness.
Rick: Yeah, there’s a saying in Sanskrit, leshavidya, “faint remains of ignorance”, and the understanding is that there has to be that in order for you not to get hit by buses and so on. But it can get to the point, as I understand it, where it’s just a faint remains and actually the predominant experience, even when out in the world, is of that oneness that becomes predominant with a sheen of duality left on the surface of it in order to make living possible.
Amoda Maa: Yes, I think so, but also I think that different manifestations will trigger a biological response that has more of that separation experience in it, or challenging psychological or emotional situations, and that’s when we’re called to consciously see the God in everything.
Rick: So like, for instance, driving down a busy highway with trucks whizzing by you, you probably need more of a heavy dose of duality than you do if you’re just sitting at the seashore looking at the clouds or something. Is that what you’re saying?
Amoda Maa: [Laughs] I think so, yes.
Rick: Good. Tell us a bit about what’s in your books. Is this one kind of old hat, finding God in everything, and this one is really more your current way of approaching things?
Amoda Maa: Well, How to Find God in Everything is the classic, I guess. It’s kind of quite poetic and graceful, and it was written in a very expanded state of being, and it kind of is the core of my teaching, and so it’s kind of the classic. Change Your Life, Change Your World actually arose out of a ten-step online program I was going to develop based on How to Find God in Everything. It’s like I took ten lessons out, when I looked at the vision and the sort of teachings within that, I saw ten lessons in there, ten very specific conscious ways of relating to life that could assist this awareness of what’s awake in everything and in oneself. It was going to be an online course, and I ended up not wanting to develop it as an online course. I got fed up with online courses. It was sitting on my desk, and I was about to throw out the pile of paper that it was all written on, and I thought, “Wow, this is a book. It’s a shame to throw it away. This is useful”. So I created it into ten lessons, and it flowed really well, and actually it’s been very useful and kind of practical in a sense, because there are lessons in there. It’s like a spiritual workbook that people can do as they go about their daily lives, a kind of practice, I guess. I’ve had lots of reports that it’s been very beneficial for people to change their perspective. Not seeing from the eyes of a victim, but seeing from the eyes of oneness or from the eyes of God, and it’s really helped them. So that’s where that came from, but since that book was published, my work in some ways has evolved again, and I’m writing another book now. Only evolved in the sense that the language has become more accurate, and I look at some of the myths of awakening and some of the subtle games that ego still plays in what awakening is, and what does it mean, and what does enlightenment mean, and how can this really be embodied in our lives that is really serving a purpose, both for ourselves and for humanity. So it’s kind of a bit deeper, if you like, and more refined than the previous books, so I’m working on that right now.
Rick: That’s nice. There’s a quote from Abraham Lincoln where he changed his mind about something entirely, and someone criticized him for it, and he said, I forget the exact quote, but I don’t think much of a man who can’t completely change his mind. Not that you’ve done a 360 degree turnaround, but there’s this theme with you apparently where there’s always a next horizon and you keep going toward more complete expression or different expression or more appropriate expression or whatever, and I respect that. Some of the people I’ve interviewed, when I ask this question about how are things developing now, they kind of look at me like I’m from Mars or something. It’s like, “how could there be any more development? I’m there”. But I’m of the opinion that God himself isn’t there yet. There’s an ongoing evolution that takes place on all levels of life.
Amoda Maa: That’s why I’m very excited or engaged with the whole evolutionary perspective. It’s not like I’m throwing out something old and replacing it. I only have one thing to say. People say, “Oh, what are you writing about now?” Well, it’s the same thing. There’s nothing else to write about. So it’s not like I’m changing topics or saying, “Well, that method’s no good and we’re doing this one now”. Not at all, because there’s no method anyway. But it’s just as you’ve described, it’s just an evolution and a more complete way of expression. I’m always responding to the needs of the time. So what was relevant five years ago has a different form of expression now, both in myself and in the world. So I’m just responding to that. It’s both my blessing and my curse, because I’m always at the leading edge of my life. There’s always something new unfolding, but I just trust that, and that’s where it’s going.
Rick: That’s great. I was a student of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and two of his favorite quotes were, “On the one hand, there’s nothing new under the sun”, but then one of his other favorite quotes was, “Only a new seed can yield a new crop”. So those seem to contradict one another, but I think they’re both true, each in their own realm. The expressed value of life is ever-evolving.
Amoda Maa: Yes.
Rick: Is there anything we haven’t covered that I was remiss in not asking you about, that you’d like to bring out? Like for instance, this new book you’re writing, what’s that going to be about?
Amoda Maa: Well, there’s only one thing. Well, it’s only just in the process of being written, so I don’t have a publishing deal yet.
Rick: Gestating at this point, yeah.
Amoda Maa: Well, no, it’s being written, but until the publishing deal is signed, sealed and delivered, I’m not at liberty really to say what the title is, because that’s often changed in some way. So there’s no release date, but I’m working on it, and it’s likely to have an idea of publishing details at some point this year. It’s essentially… I can give you the working title, the working title is “Radical Awakening, the Birth of a New You and a New World”. Again, it’s still based on the vision, although I don’t go into it in that terminology, but it’s taking this whole, what is being birthed now, what is being birthed in you as an individual and what is being birthed in the world, and how can this be fully embodied and expressed in a way that embraces both the absolute truth of stillness and the relative truth of movement, and what does this mean to the times that we live in, because this is what’s coming through right now, and that’s it in a nutshell.
Amoda Maa: So I talk about, there’s an area of life that is very often overlooked, in fact it’s always overlooked I think, and that’s the body. In the sense, when we’re talking enlightenment or awakening, it’s “I am not my body” – well, if I stick a pin in you, you are your body. And I think that light, if we’re talking of enlightenment as light, it’s coming through our relationship to body. So it’s recognizing the absolute truth that I am not my body, and embracing that the body is the vehicle for enlightenment in this particular experience that we’re having. And I explore that quite a bit, and also relationship.
Rick: That’s brilliant. I mean, the absolute was there before there was a universe, and when there was only molten gas or something, the absolute has always been there, but if we’re talking about enlightenment, obviously we’re talking about a living experience, which necessitates a body.
Amoda Maa: And I think this is so relevant to the times we live in. It may not have been relevant in Buddha’s age or whatever, Ramana’s age, but I think that this is very relevant now because of the way the world is, and the amount of sickness there is, and the amount of food issues, and medical issues, and all sorts of things, and so it’s not about denying that, but embracing it. And so I talk about that, and also, there was something else I was going to say and I forgot.
Rick: Do you talk about higher consciousness or enlightenment being the kind of ultimate solution to practical world problems, in terms of infusion of that divine quality into the relative, being the nourishment that all the various expressions of life need in order to resolve all this terrible stuff that’s going on?
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I talk about our work and our mission and our relationship to money, and a radical engagement with life, but only through the foundation of awakening to the truth of who we are, of recognizing the true nature of everything, and the true nature of self is the absolute foundation, and then to allow that to be fully embodied and fully expressed through our actions is the transformation of humanity. So, yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.
Rick: Nice. I talked to a young fellow a few weeks ago, Jonathan Talat Phillips, and he had once been a kind of a political radical, in street theater and all that stuff, and when he was in that phase, he and his friends really looked down on the spiritual types, thought they were impractical and they weren’t going to accomplish anything, and the spiritual types were looking at the political guys as being superficial and showmen that weren’t really going to accomplish anything on a deep level, and now he says the culture that he’s involved in seems to be mutually appreciative and that the political people have become spiritual and vice versa, and that there’s a kind of a merging of those two worlds.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, I think there is a merging of opposites, a merging of polarities, and there’s a lot of dangers – danger isn’t the right word – but there can be a lot of subtle illusions that still get perpetuated in that merging, and kind of opening those up and looking at them, where are we still deluding ourselves that we’ve actually awakened, and putting this into practice, if you like, in our daily lives, the subtleties of that. Oh, I know what I was going to say, which I’d like to bring into this, I was reading the Gospel of Peace recently, the translation of the original Aramaic text.
Rick: Is that a Gnostic Gospel?
Amoda Maa: Yeah, and I can’t remember who did the translation, but it was fascinating to me because Jesus spoke of the heavenly father and the earthly mother. And obviously what we get through the Bible is the teachings of the heavenly father, but he was very heavily emphasizing the earthly mother, that the purging of our sins or the cleansing of our sins comes through the cleansing of the body, I mean literally. What he was referring to as sin, was the toxicity that we carry, the pollution that we carry, that manifests as illness, imbalance, disharmony, self-harm, through our very ordinary interaction with life – of what we eat, how we eat, how we relate to the earthly body of the planet – and this is the sin that he was talking about. And unless we can cleanse that, then we are unable to fully embody the light of the heavenly father. And this really spoke to me because I’m a real purist, if you like, on a physical level. I found that it serves the expression of light in my life, and it’s just been a natural thing for me, is that I just find that relationship very important, it’s something that’s very often overlooked. It’s not that we identify or give ourselves over to being identified with the density of matter and the protection of body at all costs or the comfort that we derive from that, but actually to enlighten ourselves by enlightening the body. So I want to explore that more in my book.
Rick: Yeah, that’s a good one. The body is the temple of the soul.
Amoda Maa: Absolutely, it’s the vehicle. It is not the soul, it is not the light, but it is the vehicle for that.
Rick: Yes, it’s the vehicle. And the Indian tradition speaks of vasanas, which are like impressions, which maybe in the Western terminology we could call them stresses, which are actually, they must have physiological definitions, some biochemical imbalance, some structural damage or something. And the working out of vasanas, the healing of those physical structures and rebalancing of the biochemistry would – jumping back and forth between Indian and Western explanations – facilitate enlightenment or awakening. Are you optimistic for the world? Do you have an intuitive sense that a much brighter time is coming?
Amoda Maa: I’ve always been an optimist in my life, even though I was very dark as a young person and through my difficult experiences, I’ve always been an optimist. I feel like I’m an aquarian astrologically, so we carry the torch of optimism for humanity and a future utopia. I guess I still am, but I also have let go of any attachment to that, because I found that my dream of a brighter humanity actually prevented me from being fully engaged with life as it is, in the full horror of how it unfolds, if it unfolds in horror or if it unfolds in ecstasy, it doesn’t matter which one. And actually that’s allowed me to be more real and more present. So yes, I’m an optimist in some way, but also that optimism allows and contains absolute horror, if that’s what’s unfolding and is part of the picture.
Rick: So you didn’t expect to wake up on December 22nd with angels and butterflies?
Amoda Maa: Strangely enough, no. I must say no. I had absolutely no expectation or even gave it much attention in truth. I don’t believe in a sudden awakening in that way, planetary or otherwise, nor did I expect a perfect place. In fact I imagine it will probably appear to get worse before it gets better. This new world, this new consciousness, this new humanity may take hundreds of years, I have no idea. All I know is that I and each of us as individuals are being called to be awake to that which is unfolding, however it unfolds, and it’s that capacity to be fully awake in it that allows the bigger picture to unfold. I don’t know what that bigger picture is going to look like.
Rick: Well I tell you, if I only got my news from the television and the newspaper and so on, I probably would be pessimistic because they don’t actually report on the kind of things we’re talking about. But the fact that there is such a groundswell, throughout the world, of people who are tuning in to the kinds of things we’re talking about and awakening, in some cases quite unexpectedly, really genuinely awakening, I think gives one hope for the future and it’s either at least counterbalancing, if not actually causing fundamental change in all the more surface structures that seem so dire.
Amoda Maa: Sure, and if everything collapses, which it’s likely to do in some ways, but everything has to collapse because both our physical and our psychological structures are collapsing so that we can discover the truth of what is here. If you like, the groundswell of awakening is ready to rebuild the world. That’s where my optimism lies, is that everything is going to come crashing down, maybe it’s going to be horrific, maybe it’ll be partly horrific. But within that there’ll be enough people awakened and ready to put that awakening into action to rebuild brick by brick, step by step, a new world based on awakened foundations. That’s my deepest dream and hope.
Rick: A number of spiritual teachers have said just that, that it’s a done deal, things are going to come crashing down and I’m here and others like me, I’m speaking as one of these spiritual teachers, to smooth the transition as much as possible, to lubricate it so that it’s not as traumatic as it might otherwise be.
Amoda Maa: Yeah, sure.
Rick: And you can say that yourself, you’re making a great contribution.
Amoda Maa: Whether this body is here to be part of that or not, it’s like also recognizing that we truly are one and it’s the consciousness that is doing the work rather than this physical body. So whether this physical body will be here when it all collapses to do what it needs to do and serve the bigger picture or not, in some ways is irrelevant. And that’s a difficult thing to say, or rather an easy thing to say and a much harder thing to practice, because obviously when this physical body is threatened by complete destruction and death, it’s going to struggle for survival and clinging to life. But on some deeper level, there’s a trusting that if this body’s not here, the consciousness that created this body is here. And so anything that’s awakened through this body is serving a purpose, whether the body’s here or not.
Rick: Beautiful. And you are that consciousness, which is in all bodies, we are that consciousness. I think it’s a healthy exercise to play God’s eye view from time to time and just realize that we’re the animating force, that which we essentially are, is the animating force within everything. And whether this particular little expression here continues to exist or not doesn’t change much in the big picture of things.
Amoda Maa: Yes, it’s a selflessness, it’s a true selflessness, and I feel that’s my path.
Rick: Great. Well, you’re a delightful person to talk to. I could keep you on here all day, but I think I’ll let you go. It’s been really enjoyable having this conversation. Any final words or shall I just wrap it up?
Amoda Maa: Well I could also talk with you for a long time. It’s been a really interesting conversation and we’ve kind of meandered here and meandered there and I don’t know where we’ve been, but it’s been very interesting, so thank you very much as well.
Rick: Thank you. So to those who have been listening or watching, this has been an interview with Amoda Maa Jeevan. I will be linking to her website, which is amodamaa.com from batgap.com, which is an acronym for Buddha at the Gas Pump. If you can’t remember BatGap or Buddha at the Gas Pump, remember the other and you’ll get the same place either way. I will also be putting up a little bio of Amoda there and a link to her website. I also have links to her books, which you can get on Amazon. There’s contact info for Amoda on her site if you’d like to get in touch with her. There’s also various things on batgap.com that you can participate in, a chat group that develops around each interview. There’s already been about 200 posts on the interview that I posted about 4 or 5 days ago, so it gets quite lively sometimes. Some of those conversations really get quite interesting and thoughtful, so feel free to join in on that. There’s also a Yahoo group that is lesser known called Buddha at the Gas Pump, which has its little devoted following. There’s a tab on the website which you can click on to sign up to be notified by email of each new interview as it’s posted. There’s a donate button, which I very much appreciate people clicking if they have the capacity and inclination. There’s a link to an audio podcast in case you’d rather just listen on the iPod to this sort of thing rather than having to sit in front of your computer and watch it. You’ll see that link with each interview. Thanks again, Amoda, and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. We’ll see you next week.
Amoda Maa: Thank you, Rick, and thank you for the service that you’re doing and putting all these shows out.
Rick: It’s great fun for me, as I’m sure you realize, because you’re doing a similar thing in your own way, each serving our role.
Amoda Maa: Absolutely. Thank you. Namaste.