Rick Archer: 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. I’ve done over 660 of them now. In fact, today’s interview is number 666. And some of the say, Ooh, who’s gonna get that number? That number has significance. Some viewers to be aware, but believe me that the implications of that number have are a far cry from the qualities of today’s guest. Anyway, today’s guest is oh, so let me finish what I’m saying. So I’ve done a great many of them and hopefully will continue. And this whole 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 also a page that explains alternatives to PayPal. So my lucky guest for number 666 is Ann Mathie and has been practicing yoga and meditation for a couple of decades and has completed her master’s in the traditions of yoga and meditation from SOAS University, which is a School of Oriental and African Studies in London with ongoing Sanskrit training, and was inspired from an early age by her father’s anecdotal experiences with Kundalini, which we’re going to be talking a lot about today. Her own experiences have pointed her towards a phenomenological investigation of the parallels between spontaneous Kundalini awakenings and Buddhist paths to Enlightenment. Her previous previous research focuses on the phenomenology of Buddhist and yogic experiences through practice, and is currently researching spontaneous Kundalini arousals. And how these experiences map onto the path of realization within Indian Buddhist and yogic traditions, as well as cutting edge consciousness theory. Her mission is to gain a deeper understanding of the psychological processes that can arise from spontaneous transpersonal experiences or deep meditation practice, and how we can safely support others walking this path toward greater wholeness. Just about every week, I get contacted by somebody who feels they’re going through some kind of Kundalini awakening, and it’s usually unpleasant for them, and they, they need help. So it’s an important area, it seems to be widespread, and I were chatting a few minutes ago, and she said, she gets contacted all the time by people like that, too. So I think there needs to be a much more well known support structure for people who are going through this stuff and also, perhaps, greater knowledge. Some of it cautionary about the trouble you can get yourself into if you awaken Kundalini prematurely or in some unnatural way. So those are some of the points we’ll be talking about and sent me a really nice outline of points that she’d like to discuss. So we’re kind of going through that we’re going to go through that. But we’ll also deviate according to the questions you may send in or according to any other thoughts that come to mind as we as we talk. Okay, so let’s start and by just having you tell us a little bit more about yourself, you know, what kind of experiences you might have had from your spiritual practice, which inspired you to focus so much on this kind of thing. And anything else you’d like to tell us?
Ann Mathie: Sure. Okay. Well, I guess I’ll start with my introduction to it was really from my father, from a really young age about five. He used to sit me down, and just for five hours on a Saturday and talk about Theosophy and Buddhism. But I loved it. I absolutely loved it. I mean, I would just be like, gripped listening with intent. And he went through a really intense experience in the 60s when he was, he’s from Glasgow. He went to Japan to train in martial arts, when he was much younger and had a very profound a very strong Kundalini experience, which he couldn’t control. And so that took him on on a Journey with Kundalini, he was working with a psychiatrist initially in the psychiatrist advised him to go and see this Zen monk who was also scientist who was studying the Kundalini experience. So him along with a few other people were kind of being experimented on, or they were exploring this from a scientific perspective with a doc, a Dr. Mudiyamo was his name. So he really, he had no idea what was happening when it was happening. He really struggled through this process. And kind of studied it afterwards. So it was a, it was an after thought his research is looking into it. And so he really looked at it from the kind of theosophical perspective, so they would see the Kundalini experience, they would talk about it as initiation, the initiation of fire. So when I was younger, he would talk to me about it in full blown detail, the kind of scary bits and the fascinating, beautiful bits as well. And I remember just listening like, wow, this is amazing. Yeah, completely fascinated by it. And I guess that’s always been there, in the back of my mind, as a teenager growing up, it was always kind of there, but I got on with my life. And then a similar thing happened to me in my 20s. Fortunately, having had had the backstory, having had sort of been taught a bit about it, I kind of knew what was coming and took myself away from the judgmental eye or the white coats. And, and took myself to India and hitchhiking and took myself to places where I knew that it would be okay. So, you know, go through the process without hindrance or without judgment or without, you know, yes, a safe place, I knew I needed a safe place. So, so yeah, that was really kind of in my 20s. And since then, the process is sort of, I guess, making sense of it, calming down, realigning myself to practice grounding myself in the real world, you know, paying the bills, raising a child, like that kind of thing. So yeah, integrating those two worlds has been my work, I suppose, at the same time, research, bringing it to mainstream, bringing this phenomena to the mainstream Western world so that it doesn’t get confused with mania, or psychosis or, you know, some other kind of pathology which I, which is not, you know, I mean, I think some things can arise in psychology, which can present as psychopathy, but, I mean, it’s such a different process. So So yeah, that’s my mission. How can we bring this into the Western world? How can we further this with science and spirituality?
Rick Archer: I think that’s one of the topics we’re going to talk about today is the distinction between psychosis and spiritual experience. And perhaps one of the things we’ll we’ll throw in there is the tendency of intense spiritual practice to trigger an actual psychosis, which it can. What was it? Some quote from somebody, I don’t know who said this, but it was something like “the mystics swims in waters in which the madman drowns” or something like that. In other words,
Ann Mathie: It’s a fine line between…
Rick Archer: There can be…
Ann Mathie: As well…
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve gotten a little kooky myself at times over the years. Still am.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, a lot of a lot of modern psychiatry, and what we deem as wellness or sane. I mean, I would question some of the things that we consider saying, in mainstream society, you know, there’s a lot of very unhealthy, say, sane practices that people go through their lives on, you know, and it’s only until they reach their deathbed that they sit in regret, having followed those paths, so I think, you know, when we look at the Wellness model, and what it is to be happy and healthy, these, and then you look at the spiritual awakening process, they’re quite different. I think in terms of how the psychology changes and what we’re doing to our psychology on these two things.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it seems like a lot of things that are considered saying are just ordinary and therefore customary. But in a really sane society, they would seem abnormal or, you know, subnormal or something.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah, we’re even certain I mean, I think that was the thing for me. I remember a trigger for the process, I suppose on my, in my 20s when I realized started to explore this stuff deeply. I did a sociology degree. And I just remember in grad, you know, doing my dissertation at the end and just thinking, oh my god, this is all this is all just constructs this none of this is real. This is all theory fabricated and pulled together. And we’re told to live under these constructs, which, you know, there’s a reason for them. Obviously, we need, we need some order in the chaos, of course. But yeah, I mean, I wonder how many of these constructs are, are helpful or hindrance?
Rick Archer: Yeah. So you started some kind of Buddhist practice in your 20s, or even sooner, since you were exposed at the age of five to a lot of this stuff?
Ann Mathie: Yeah, I was doing a bit of yoga, I was trying lots of different Yoga. But none of it was really that helpful. I think, through the process, I just had to sort of let go to the process I was doing, I was experimenting with all different types of yoga practices. And I found them to really exacerbate the issue like heightened emotional sensitivity or kind of take me into worlds that I didn’t understand and couldn’t navigate. So after a while, I just stopped doing practices. And just let the thing unfold.
Rick Archer: So something was unfolding even without practices.
Ann Mathie: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Completely. Yeah, it was.
Rick Archer: What was that? You mean? It’s some kind of Kundalini awakening?
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yes. So yeah, that was a yeah, that took a couple of years to kind of work its way through. So that was when I had to sort of take myself out of society. And yeah, yeah. And, and I think, yeah, so I try, you know, I’d really try to do some of these different practices during that time. And I found that they were actually not very helpful, quite uncomfortable. And then eventually, I kind of came around to practices based on the Yoga Sutras, which kind of aligned a lot more with calm, relaxed postures, nothing intense, nothing crazy, nothing, you know, no kumbhaka or like, strong pranayama practices. And that was really amazing, along with the moral path, the yamas, niyamas, that I found really, really helpful. Just following the sutras, working through the sutras, making sure that I was pulling my concentration together, working through any knots in my body, and really kind of looking at my trauma properly. So, but yeah, I suppose that was happening alongside Buddhist practice. So for me, the Buddhist practice came along, and it was a real literal godsend, I remember. I think part of this process, as well as it does bring up a lot of subconscious. psychological trauma comes to the surface. So I think there was a lot of, like anxiety or depression arising as well. So the Buddhist Vipassana was, I mean, incredible, just to kind of know, oh, my God, there’s actually a way out of suffering. Like, it does what it says on the tin, you know, like is, it totally works. So for me, finding the vipassana concentration practices, it wasn’t so much about, I’m gonna get enlightened and, or anything like that. It was like, “Oh, my God, I need to get out of this psychological hell that I’m in.” So for me, these techniques were a lifeline. And then later on, you know, I suppose you kind of like delve deeper, and then start to experience or understand a little bit more about what these practices are actually doing psychologically and spiritually.
Rick Archer: There are several good points in there, I’d like to discuss more with you. Firstly, so you were, you know, they there’s all these funny words, like, HindJew or BuJew, all these names that people make up up to about the blends of different traditions. Right. So you were kind of a, a HindBu or something,
Ann Mathie: I guess. I mean, you know, I think interestingly, these two texts really work beautifully together, the the Yoga Sutras and Buddhism, there’s a lot, there’s a lot in the sutras. There’s quite a few nods to Buddhism. Yeah, in the past, like they’re really really compatible. But yeah, I mean, okay, so if I was to describe myself in terms of what practice or path would I adhere to, like my inner world is tantric. My practical practice path is Theravada Buddhist, my worldview is Mahayana, my heart is Vedanta. You know, it’s, I don’t, I don’t, I’m not dogmatic. I’ve found that these these teachings have just really helped my actual life, you know, so I’ve never had a teacher I’ve never had a I’m not a part of a lineage. So for me, it’s been, these texts have guided me. And I think I’ve probably always been a bit wary of teachers as well. I’m like, Well, I don’t know, I’ve kind of felt weary is the word but I’ve never found someone like I’ve met people with siddhi, who have done things to my brain, but I’ve seen the humaneness as well. And what I’ve needed guidance in is walking the human path. Yeah,
Rick Archer: That’s good. You know, there’s that saying that we should dig one deep well, rather than 10 shallow wells. But another way of putting it might be that we can use 10 different tools to dig one deep well, and some people managed to cobble together a really effective procedure, you know, like our spiritual sadhana out of, you know, picking and choosing amongst the best of various traditions. Yeah,
Ann Mathie: I yeah, I mean, it’s a really no, because I used to feel right. And my dad would always say to me, just stick to one do it properly. But, you know, so when you look at the tradition, it’s like more than 2,000 years of evolution, of revolution, in different traditions branching off is a really is so complex, you know, like, when you say Vedanta, or when you say Buddhist, or when you say Tantric, all of these things sort of lay over each other. And there are threads that kind of move through these traditions, which all link up. So ultimately, we’re talking about something human, and natural and real. And these traditions are just concepts and constructs built around the natural, real human experience. That is the potential you know, and Enlightenment. So for me, I think that I mean, okay, so my, in my heart, I suppose I’m Buddhist, like that, they’re my roots, Dharma are my roots, that’s what I always come back to. That’s what I always feel is, you know, solid, I love the sutras because they’re so pragmatic. The texts are just, you know, the instructions are right there. It’s like, follow the instructions. And it works.
Rick Archer: I liked what you’re saying about, when you were talking about the Yoga Sutras, about the ethical dimension of it. And, really, I think that you’ll find that the foundation of every tradition, and certainly there in Buddhism, as you well know, and it’s often overlooked these days, and especially like when you’re talking about teachers, and how you’ve never actually had one. In a way, it’s a bit of a minefield, having finding a teacher, because so many of them have been ethically compromised. Even though they might have something to offer and some eloquence and even some Shakti and, you know, sort of presence.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, sure. Yeah. I think that’s the thing, isn’t it? We are complex.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And, you know, I, I was gonna tell you this earlier, but along with a few friends, I helped to found an organization called The Association for Spiritual Integrity. Big, which I’ll send you a link to later. But um, based upon our experience with, you know, all these ethical violations that take place in contemporary spirituality and the, the hurt and disillusionment that it causes people. So anyway, this we’re gonna, I won’t go into a great length right now. But um, it is an essential component of the Yoga Sutras, as you mentioned, the yamas and niyamas. And, and basically every other tradition, maybe you can elaborate on why you think that it’s important.
Ann Mathie: Oh, yeah. I mean, that’s huge, isn’t it? I think. I think that’s the central tenant, of all practice. Like, we’re our worst, we’re our own worst enemy, aren’t we, when it comes to suffering? So many times, you know, when you honestly, reflect on your own decisions and your own choices, if you really, really, honestly reflect on yourself, then you can see where stuff went wrong. Like, you know, and a lot of that is from ignorance as well or not having the clarity in that moment to make a wise decision. But, but yeah, I mean, I think we have to, we have to, we have to start with that. Like it’s I think if we want to cultivate a for me, you know, one sure way to know that you’re developing on a spiritual path is that if you become more compassionate, more empathic and more forgiving. That I think that in that in itself is one sure way to know that you’re walking a good path And I think that that comes about through moral behavior. You know, so by looking at the way that you interact with people, the way we’re really reflecting on how you make people feel that’s going to evolve your heart, allow for greater sensitivity. And not only that, I think when you sit and meditate, those things come up. So you can’t really go into deep kind of Samadhi states, when you’ve got certain hindrances that are arising in your brain, when your conscience is clear, it’s really easy to slip into deep concentration states, it’s much easier, you know, so the the moral path kind of really helps in that. But I mean, that would be for selfish intention for a more altruistic means that that is the intention, like the whole intention to, for the benefit of others, you know.
Rick Archer: And I think it’s not just a psychological thing. I mean, you can talk about me, you can tell us more about the subtle body and how the subtle body can become a repository for all kinds of gunk that really impedes the clear reflection of pure consciousness. Yeah. And how the spiritual path in one sense could be seen as a purification of the subtle body.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah, that’s, that’s huge. I mean, that is the kind of, like, when you look at Sankhya philosophy and the gunas, I’ve heard you talk about the gunas before in other interviews. Yeah, it’s, it’s a, it’s a major theme in Tantra, in it’s a major theme in yoga, when you look at the nature of thought, and, okay, so, so we’re talking about thought as if it’s a substance, but in these philosophies, thought is a kind of vibratory substance, and it has context, content texture to it. And when you act behave, thinking a certain way, this is what you’re producing, this is what’s moving through your system. And it is, I mean, this is huge in Buddhism as well, that kind of like mind-body connection, when you think a certain way, that’s what’s like getting lodged in your body, and you can feel it like knots in your back or headache or tension in your muscles. You know, that’s, that’s the mind contracting in the body responding to that, Like, so these, these are a reflection of the type of thoughts. So a kind of the sattvic thoughts are more lighter thought, would have a clear, effervescent quality to it an expansion or a clarity, a lightness. You know, like a moral thought will have those qualities. Whereas sort of selfish thoughts tend to get sticky and tend to have a gravity towards them, which ultimately does harm, actual physical pain, you know, so,
Rick Archer: Yeah. Speaking of the gunas, perhaps you can comment on how a more sattvic makeup is more, it’s more translucent, it’s more conducive to realization than a rajasic or tamasic makeup, maybe you can define those terms. And yeah, right on that.
Ann Mathie: Yeah. So like, okay, so you’re talking about prakrati, like Shakti, like the nature of reality— this, this matrix, that we live in, this kind of the illusion that we’re living in, the illusion that we have to navigate our way through, the illusion that we have to work with. Until we are genuinely enlightened bodhisattvas, we still need to navigate our way through this stuff, being-ness. And, yeah, that they come, the, how you say, the fundamental nature can be broken down into these three components: rajasic sattvic, tamasic. So we’re rajasic has this sort of vibrant energy to it. We need it because it excites us, and it activates us and it fires us up and it creates reaction and interaction. So we need rajas. But too much of it, you know, can make you angry or agitated or distracted. Satvic is the thing that holds structure. So it’d be like, imagine the snowflake and it’s beautiful crystalline structure that would be sattvic. So something pure, it’s held, supported, and light and balanced. And then tamas is the thing that makes things solid, and real, brings everything into form. So we need all of these energies interacting with each other all the time to create this illusion that we live in. But what happens the nature of the mind is that it continues to unfold and we get drawn to the materiality of the world through our senses, so and that becomes tamasic because we have layers of thought that just, just build up upon each other. And like these constructs that become real, and that becomes tamasic, that becomes heavy in your heart and in your mind. That’s where depression can happen. That’s where anxiety starts to happen. So these thoughts just become so real. That’s the tamas, you can overcome that by cultivating sattvic minds. Like so the food that you eat, if it’s like, alive, that’s sattvic. So for a fresh apple, for instance, that would be a sattvic food. Behavior, speech, you know, keeping clean, like all of that stuff is sattvic. It’s all the words that you say, you know. Are your words kind? Are they helpful? Are they support, all of that, all of that stuff is sattvic. So when you do that, you’re like having a spiritual bath. You know, this is like, this is your, your, your, should be your daily hygiene, psychological, clean.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And not only foods but other substances. I mean, consuming alcohol, for instances, are tamasic and yeah, yeah, yeah, certain drugs are rajasic, and so on. If you took some kind of amphetamines or something that’s very rajasic. And all these things impair the nervous system’s ability to be the temple of the soul, as Jesus put it.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, and you know, and that’s, you know, it’s interesting, you bring that up, actually, because there’s a skillful way to work these forces. So sometimes you might need a bit of tamas and you might need a bit of rajas in your system. But again, you know, we have to be really skillful. So I mean, okay, ultimately, if we’re trying to get ourselves out of suffering, if you’re in deep, if you’re like, just, like heavy with thought, or the weight of the world is really on your shoulders. I mean, how can you not get through it? How can you get through life without that happening, at least once, you know. And that’s why the text, the path, they always say, “Just do everything sattvic, just get yourself out of the muck.” And then once you feel that lightness come in, and then we can sort of start to navigate skillfully through these different elements, I mean, you know, sometimes we are flesh and blood as well. And I think it’s, we do need a bit of a tamas and a bit of the rajas. But yeah, in a skillful way.
Rick Archer: Yeah, in a balance. I remember hearing a story, I don’t know if this is even a true story. But there was some yogi and in Rishikesh or some place. And he was just, you know, gung ho, living this really sattwic lifestyle, pedal to the metal. But he just wasn’t having any spiritual breakthroughs or good experiences. And one day, he got bit by a scorpion. And it was like, and after that, he started having these great experiences. And the explanation to the story was he needed a little bit of poison in his system.
Ann Mathie: Oh, my God. Wow. That’s an awesome story. Wow. Yeah. That’s quite a lot. I mean, because you hear stuff like that? Yeah. Well, yeah, definitely. I mean, that’s, and that’s, that’s, you know, what they’ve discovered when they research people who, I suppose through a kind of, there’s been a lot of research recently in Kundalini experiences. And what they’ve noticed is that a lot of this stuff can happen through trauma as well. So like a breakthrough or conduct spontaneous Kundalini experience can happen as a result of some big trauma. You know, and it’s like, yeah, it’s, it’s a fascinating, it’s a fascinating thing, like, what is that trigger there that causes that huge spiritual combustion to happen within oneself?
Rick Archer: Do you have any comments whatsoever on the Aghori who, you know, consume all this really tomasic stuff intentionally? I think they’re just trying to freak people out. I don’t know if they make any progress.
Ann Mathie: I don’t know. I don’t, I’ve met a few in India. But then you know, you meet a lot of babas in India and you never really know if if they’re like real, or if they’re just doing it for the tourists. Yeah, I mean, I used to go up to up in the Himalayas, when you go on certain pilgrimages, then you do see a lot of genuine barbers and they stay away from the touristy areas, you see. But, but the Aghori, there’s quite a few in Varanasi. So Varanasi is where they, the burning guts are. Right. So that, it’s not, yeah, see, that’s an interesting one. The, the intention behind those practices are to overcome psychological rigidity, or you know, when you’ve been so institutionalized and so kind of controlled and conformed and molded into a certain path that life is just like, stuck, you know, our belief system becomes so dogmatic. So the Aghori were like the rebels, they were breaking through all of the traditions. The Brahmanical, Brahmanical world is very pure, like no alcohol, no meat, no women whilst they were menstruating. You know, tradition, you know, is quite very traditionally very pure in the sattvic means we’re talking about, So the Aghoris were like, this isn’t spiritual awakening, you know, and they would rebel. That was there, the meat-eating, the alcohol-drinking, the sex, all of those things. That’s one kind of aspect of it, but
Rick Archer: could have just been a rationalization for doing all the stuff they wanted to do.
Ann Mathie: There’s that too. I want to do what I want. Yeah. Always. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And how about the how about the sadhus who, you know, sit around smoking ganga, you think that there’s… I remember talking to someone years ago who spent some time with them. And and in India, she felt like 99% of them are just stoners, and there’s not a lot of spiritual progress taking place there. I don’t know. Yeah. I don’t mean to make you comment on things you don’t know. No.
Ann Mathie: I mean, I do. I’ve thought about this a lot. You know, and I think that, like certainly I did as well like you go to when do you go to the Himalayas, and there’s a romantic idea there, you know, a delusion or idea of, of this… This is a amazing place. It is seeped with spirituality and mystery and incredible beauty, you know. But at the same time, human beings are human beings. I think, you know, even great spiritual teachers have a bit of desire, a bit of hate, or a bit of fear still lingering until you’re an arhant, which is why I’m fascinated with the Buddhist path, because it really does look at well, how do you get rid of all of that stuff? All of that? You know?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Let’s talk about some of the Buddhist stuff, because this is how you start the notes that you sent me. You know, we can, we don’t want to elaborate too much on things such that we don’t have time to talk about other things. But maybe we should skim through some of this. Like you just use the word arhant. So we’ll want to define that. And you showed me the terms. So shamatha and vipassana and dharma, and then the question, what is Enlightenment and Buddhism and what are the practices that lead to it. So let’s start on some of those things.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, okay. All right. So arhant. What’s an arhat?
Rick Archer: Yeah, sure. There are a number of other terms you threw in there, stream-enterer, once-returner, or non-returner, and the arhant. So yeah, yeah. All these classifications.
Ann Mathie: Yeah. Like, okay, so the reason? Okay, so I’m really fascinated by this. Because now we live in a world where there’s a lot of spiritual teachers, there’s a lot of, you know, things, gurus and self-proclaimed enlightened people and all of that. So my interest is, or what exactly is an enlightened person? Like, can you measure it? Can you tell when someone is, is there? How do we how do we know I mean, it’s someone some people have full-on experiences all the time. People have very deep spiritual experiences through meditation all the time. These are becoming more and more common, because practice is becoming more and more common. But my question is, what is the, what is the psychological transformation that actually does happen once you’ve been practicing for long enough? Or the experience lasts for long enough for that real transformation to happen? So yeah, so I mean, in the Buddhist context, and arhant is someone who, where there is no more hate, no more desire, no more aversion, no more fear, no more doubt, to ever arise in the mind ever again, no matter what. So it’s complete cessation of psychological suffering. Pain is still there, physical pain is still there. But there’s no psychological reaction to that pain. So this is like, what a Buddhist would call an arhant. This is, I mean, in the Indian tradition, it would be someone who is not going to get born again, because it’s that very thought process that makes you become born again.
Rick Archer: Right? It’s all the things you just mentioned, are outer symptoms that don’t really describe the subjective experience the person who’s having but, you know, what you’re saying is that whatever his objective, subjective experience is, for it to be genuine, there would have to be an absence of hate and all the other, you know, negative things you mentioned. And if and if those things are still there, you can deduce that the inner experience is not yet mature.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, that’s a full blown arhant. Like, they’re rare. But in the Buddhist path, there’s four stages to get there. So, so each of those hindrances each of those psychological things will fall away. One by one, there’s an order that they fall away and as well and they fall away according to certain depths of meditative practice that you’ve come across. So and that, that they fall away when you have seen a certain depths of the mind through practice. And that I mean, to me, that’s fascinating. You know, like, there’s a lot of teachers out there who have siddhi, like, like, powers, charisma or whatever, all of that. But still those things are working, you know, still the selfish or the hate, or the anger or whatever, that’s still happening in them. And that’s fine. That’s normal. It’s very difficult to get to be an arhant. You know,
Rick Archer: Well, that’s normal. But if they purport to be something, right, normal, then there’s a problem.
Ann Mathie: Well, yeah, yeah. I mean, and usually they those people don’t really talk about becoming an arhant. It’s not I mean, we’ll live within the tradition anyway. But yeah, I mean, I think that’s a really good sign. I mean, definitely loads of people don’t have very much anger. I mean, they’re not you could put them in or that you’d see them in a situation where you think you should be furious, but they’re not at all. You know, I mean, they’re, they’re genuinely calm if their heart is calm, peaceful. So you know that that’s a good indicator, I think,
Rick Archer: What about people who are, you know, alleged to be enlightened? Sometimes this includes famous gurus, who have a reputation for getting really angry at people and scolding and yelling at them and stuff like that.
Ann Mathie: Interesting, isn’t it? Yeah, I mean, so this often occurs in the Vajrayana tradition in the Tantric tradition, and a lot of that comes from… in Hindu traditions, too. Yeah. And in in, like, old Tantra comes from parsha patter (?) tradition, or like a, they like the tantric practices where they originated from a quiet, like full on. It’s only after hundreds of years that they assimilated them into a kind of like, family friendly practices, you know, and then that evolved in that kind of merged with Buddhism and then went to Tibet, and where it flourished into Vajrayana. So there’s, there’s a whole evolution of what Tantra is as well, and the behavior when, so complex. But I would say that there’s a whole tradition of Mahasiddha, right. So, these are guys who have seen the nature of reality, very, very deeply have seen, the disillusion of all illusion, have seen it, experienced it within themselves. And as a result of seeing it so clearly, those psychological hindrances no longer arise. So like a real bodhisattva, so there is interestingly when you get to a certain stage of insight. This is this is all kind of documented in, when you go to Sri Lankan Theravadan monks, the abbot normally writes a kind of meditation manual, that abbot would be very experienced in meditation. And this would be for the monks. So when you reach a certain stage of insight, when you see the dissolution of the self, when the body starts to dissolve, the mind starts to dissolve you, you overcome fear, and those thoughts of nihilism. And you become, you arrive in the middle pathway you see the nature of reality, dissolving into nothing but arising again. Then, if you’ve made a decision, I suppose or a vow to help people teach people the path, you can’t go any further in your meditation practice.
Rick Archer: Just be to checked out to want to interact with people.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, there needs to be an element that still hear of this earth so you can connect. But what happens to people when they have walked that path when they’ve made their intention as a teacher, or bodhisattva, they become endowed with certain siddhi- the ability to see into other people’s minds or hearts. And if someone very skilled in that is able to see the hindrances working through someone’s psychology, and they’re able to skillfully say something that can just chop it away or dissolve it or, you know, that comes through real deep insight. You know, there’s, there’s no games or manipulation going on. That comes through genuine insight into someone’s psychology, is born through deep practice of insight. And in Vajrayana, this would be the case the Mahasiddhas have reached or retain to that position. However, what you may be what we have is a lot of people who haven’t necessarily attained that insight and perform those behaviors. But it may be doing more harm than good.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, a broad question would be, how do students evaluate a teacher? Because many times you know, a teacher will seem impressive, as you say they might have maybe charismatic, they might be eloquent, they might be a sort of a Shakti field around them or you feel something in their presence. And then on top of all that, there’s some strange behavior that’s going on either secretly or publicly. And a lot of times students will sit there and think, “Well, this seems a bit off. But hey, he’s supposed to be enlightened, and I don’t think I am. And so I guess I’ll just stay and sit here.” And, you know, and then sometimes these groups just go farther and farther off the rails. And, you know, because the teacher is going off the rails, and the students just follow along. And so I just, I just wonder about how to empower students with greater discernment. And tell them, you know, to give them greater confidence to, you know, vote with their feet and to leave if, if the situation warrants it or stay if they genuinely conclude that the teacher is, has their best interests in mind, and is not, you know, ethically compromised?
Ann Mathie: Yeah, that’s such a main goal. That’s so important, isn’t it? There’s so many, you hear so many gurus…
Rick Archer: All the time.
Ann Mathie: Yeah. Yeah, yeah. It’s dangerous, isn’t it? I just think there’s so many things, I mean, in the tradition, like you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t, you wouldn’t take on a guru and for at least for like, nine years after watching that person closely for nine years,
Rick Archer: Nor would he tell you on I mean, there’s this mutual checking out process. Yeah.
Ann Mathie: Yeah. It’s not it’s not you know, and, and it wouldn’t be for money. Either. It would be purely for the love of freedom, you know, and liberation. I think if there’s, there’s a lot of cash involved, I don’t know, bit weary. But yeah, I mean, how do you how do you tell psychologically, I suppose you can never tell where someone is out if they’re more advanced practitioners or newer, you don’t have that insight to see beyond your, where you’re at where one is at. So it’s always hard to say, isn’t it? But I mean, I quite that’s why I like about the Theravadan tradition is because they don’t have that guru lineage. Everyone is a friend, you know, you might have the most advanced practitioner in the room. But he’s, or she is a friend. And that’s how they see it’s like a kind of Yeah, like, you know, what was that expression? We’re all holding each other. We’re walking each other home, isn’t it? Yeah, I love that attitude. But the guru, interestingly, though, if that person has a lot of faith, has a lot of heart for the path, that in and of itself, will transform the individual. So whether the guru is a real or a fake, it doesn’t really matter, the faith itself can.
Rick Archer: In other words, yeah, I mean, you know, so the student’s devotion will carry them along, even if the teacher’s kind of half baked. But I mean, but ultimately, we know the story of Eklavya in the Mahabharata and who was his guru, his archery guru was also Arjuna’s archery guru. You know, the old story. It’s, it’s a great story. Ah, I
Ann Mathie: don’t know. Oh, well, anyway,
Rick Archer: Um, Arjuna had made his teacher whose name, I forget the teacher’s name, promised him that he would be the best archer, the best bowman, and but this guy came along and he started getting really good and better than Arjuna. And Arjuna said, “Hey, you promised me this guy wouldn’t get better than me.” So well, actually. So the teacher sent him away. “So okay. I’m not going to teach this guy anymore.” So the guy goes away, and he builds a statue of the teacher and just worships the statue and practices, our practices his archery. And then he keeps getting better. And then, so this gets back to Arjuna and he says to the teacher, “You gotta do something about this guy, he keeps getting better than me.” And, and so the teacher goes to him and said, “Oh, if you’re really devoted to me, cut off your thumb and give it to me.” Ah, but we did. And that was the end of the story, but he couldn’t practice archery anymore. So I know it’s kind of a sick, sad ending, but But it shows that just through devotion to a statue in this case, he was able to continue to advance.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, I mean, it’s a huge, it’s a massive motivator for the path. I think it’s a really wholesome motivator, that faith or that love, the devotion to the path. But yeah, I mean, like back back to, you know, what you were saying about how how can you tell if a guru is the real deal, or how, ultimately, I just think, you know, just in the way that any human relationship should form a healthy human relationship. You need to watch out for any red flags of manipulation or psychological torture. I don’t think we should feel weak. We should feel empowered a guru should empower us, but also help you honestly reflect on how you’re behaving as well. But I think you can do that within a loving relationship. I don’t think you have to be…
Rick Archer: Abusive, right. Yeah. And like you say, faith and devotion, that’s, that’s what’s so sad is sometimes people are just so innocent, and even even kind of naive and full of faith and devotion, and then teacher betrays them in some way, or turns out to be a scoundrel in some way. And people have literally committed suicide because they were so disillusioned, or at least, you know, wandered, you know, left the spiritual path, because, you know, to heck with it, if this if this is what it results in. But anyway, I don’t want to dwell on this too long, but it’s a little bee that I have in my bonnet, you know? And yes, part of the motivation for starting that group, the organization. spiritual integrity, yeah, it’s really important. You mentioned money a minute ago about how this shouldn’t be about money. And it’s interesting, because in the old days, I mean, you a lot of the spiritual aspirants were in ashrams or monasteries, and the laity helped to fund that. And that was the setup. And these days, we don’t have too much of that. And we’re in a modern society where you need money. So that’s a whole nother issue, which has practical and ethical implications, you know, about paying for spiritual instruction. And some people, some people feel that nobody should be charging and some, I don’t know, there’s all these issues around it.
Ann Mathie: It’s interesting, I’ve thought about it a lot. You know, like, what, how, because we need to live, don’t we, we need to pay our bills we need to eat, we can’t, unless you go and live in a in the woods, off grid, you know, totally self sustainable, which is completely possible. We still need to deal with money. I was really fascinated by kind of studying the historical Buddha, like how did he work with money? And it’s really interesting, like he was a canny businessman, you know, he was, yeah. And he knew how to sweet talk all the bankers and the kings. But what, what was …
Rick Archer: To finance the expansion of his teaching. Yeah, yeah.
Ann Mathie: To build stupas, to build meditation halls, none of it went into his pocket. He didn’t care about wealth himself or… exactly. Yeah, nothing. He didn’t need anything. So yeah, I think that’s… I, you know, skillful ways to bring money in for the benefit of others, just in the same way a charity works for the benefit of others. But as long as that’s wholesome, and nobody’s kind of like scrimping away for their own. Okay, we need our basic needs met, of course, we need we need food to eat and everything, but I suppose it comes to a point where: how much is excessive? Yeah. Basics is enough. If you don’t know if you’d beyond needing materiality than…
Rick Archer: Right, and as the teacher, you know, working the students to death, you know, in in his his or her ashram, there’s setup, and then, you know, living high off the hog themselves and, you know, having their own home, you know, I don’t know, just…There have been situations like that where teachers are living really cushy lives, and the students are doing unpaid, hard labor for, you know, many hours a day.
Ann Mathie: How do they get away with it? It’s amazing. Oh, no, it’s
Rick Archer: just one of those things. Yeah. Okay. And, you know, as we talk along, if any thoughts come to your mind that you’d like to talk about, that I’m not asking you questions about, feel free to just interject them because I don’t want to show yeah, I want to make sure we cover everything you want to cover. So we talked a little bit about the different stages, we don’t need to elaborate on too much and stream-enterer, once-returner, arhant. But I guess the point is there, there’s a kind of a sequence of awakening stages or experiences on what we might call a gradual path. And you use the word upaya here, which means skillful means. So perhaps we could contemplate that a bit and contrast it with my friend Raymond Schumann sent in a question about the Neo-Advaitins These days, who seemed to offer instant realization in their talks, and who, who actually criticize any notion of a gradual path, you know, because hey, ultimately, you were already enlightened right? And so how can you gradually attain something that you already are and you know, and practices only reinforce the notion of a practice or, and you know, so things like that, that they say, and the world is an illusion, and you have no free will, and on and on. So how do you contrast this notion of a gradual path with direct realization?
Ann Mathie: Well, you know, I think certainly do people do have non- dual experiences where they’re able to see into the nature of reality. And those people…Yeah, they have such a huge Satori or huge awakening experience that lasts for a long time that they are permanently in that state. Like, yeah, I absolutely do believe that you can have that. And I don’t know if they may be worked hard lifetime after lifetime. And this one is just like, you know, here we go. So I think it’s possible. I think it happens, however, I think maybe lots of people kind of like… Okay, so for within the Vajrayana texts within the Mahayana tradition, there’s a lot of expounding of the Tathagata, the first-gone, the, the, the, the idea that this we are already enlightened. A lot of these poems or stories are written from the perspective of a fully blown bodhisattva. So when you look at the like, so there’s a text of famous text called the Diamond Sutra, when you, so what it says in the text, you’re not a bodhisattva, until you’ve seen the nature of Dharmas until you have seen… You’ve gone through the stratospheres of your own psychology, down to the very, very, very core of what it is that makes you tick, of what the root of your desire and aversion is. And you’ve seen that arise from nothing and pass away into nothing. Once you’ve passed through the stages of terror, aversion, fear, from complete annihilation, and you’ve come out the other side, then your bodhisattva, then you can say that, yeah, you’re a Tathagata, you’ve, you’re in that state permanently. But I, so I have thought about this a lot. And I’ve wondered why, what what is this? Where does this come from, you know, this view? And I wonder if it’s because a lot of the texts would talk from the perspective of an enlightened person. That’s one possible reason. And so, you know, people are kind of going along with these texts, or this teacher says this, you know, from the perspective of an enlightened position, and then other people are thinking, “Oh, that’s how it is,” yet haven’t gone through those necessary stages.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think that’s really important: the description, the description is taken as a prescription. Right? And it’s like a guy standing on a mountaintop shouting out the what he what the view is from the mountaintop. Right? It’s not necessarily helpful to the people who still need to climb the mountain,
Ann Mathie: Right? Yes, yes, exactly. And I think that there’s a whole bunch of practices. I mean, God, can imagine like, Wouldn’t it be a shame if you thought that your whole life and you got to the end, and you’re like, oh, shit, I was supposed to practice? Like, I don’t you, I just think I can’t speak from for anyone else. And I can’t speak for the truth of how it is, but I can only speak from my experience. And my experience is that the practices have, have relieved suffering, the practices have taken me to places and showing me things that I never would have seen had I not have practiced, they have permanently got rid of certain psychological hindrances, which psychotherapy did not. You know, so for me, the path really works. And for me, I want to be free of suffering, I want to be, I want to be compassionate, I want to be full of love. I don’t want my own ego kind of biting at me, as I walked through life, I want to be free from that. That’s, so, so the practices do work away at your psychology, they do work. And I just think that it’s a shame if we never get to experience that thinking were enlightened,
Rick Archer: I could say the same. You’d be amazed to see what condition I was in when I was 18. And, you know, how starting a regular practice changed me I was a mess. I mean, you know, drugs and arrested and dropped out of school and all this stuff. And just, you know, regular practice turned my life around so nicely. So I’m kind of an advocate of it. And I just want to point out that a minute ago when you were talking about the Tathagata, having gone through all this sort of deeper probing, you’re not just talking about intellectual process of understanding things more deeply. You’re talking about an experiential process as well.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, that’s a very fascinating so when you’re so especially particularly through insight This is this was how the Buddha came to his realization was through insight. He’d mastered all the samadhi practices, the techniques of concentration, which were very yogic, which come from yogic traditions in India. But he, he noticed, okay, well, when I come out samadhi, I’m still suffering. So I’ve still got those psychological things that are going on in me. So he found another technique, which was to look at a method into the subconscious, it’s like your mind has stratasheres, this is through sensory experience. So it’s really fascinating. If you concentrate enough on sensation, just in one small part, you start to analyze, your concentration gets stronger and deeper, you start to analyze the way sensation moves, the way that phenomenological experience moves through your body through the flesh, you know, as sensation, and your mind gets more laser beam and its concentration, you can go deeper and deeper and deeper into your subconscious. And interestingly, like, all your stuff just starts to arise in your body, and you can see the, all the connection of all your suffering, but you’re sitting there with an equanimous mind watching this, your your stuff arise, as you get deeper. And as you look at that more closely, so it manifests maybe initially as pain around the body, like I don’t know, you ever, you get really good massage. And it’s like, and it feels it’s painful, but it feels good. It’s like, “oh, yeah, that’s good pain.” So it’s like that, because you’re an equanimous state, you’re not getting involved in the, the psychological suffering or that like, “oh, this hurts,” we’re trying not to anyway. And the experience of that rising to the surface and passing away, you’re watching it so closely. And you’re seeing how it changes all the time. And the more you analyze it, the more you can break it down into tiny components or parts. And you see that these parts are just like tiny, tiny building blocks that just arise out of nothing and pass away into nothing. So the whole body is just like this. arising and passing away of just little tiny molecules, constantly. And that’s, that’s transformative, that you’re like, Oh, my personality isn’t even real. Like, no, this isn’t even real. These are just parts put together as like Lego like or, you know, none of this. Yeah. And so that attached, you kind of attach, detach, yourself note, detach is the wrong word. It All. Yeah, it all kind of separates a bit more, there’s no tightness anymore. There’s no, it doesn’t matter.
Rick Archer: There’s a good physiological, there’s a good explanation for it, which is the mind and body are interrelated. So if the mind gets into a deep settled state, you know, “Yoga chitti vritti nirodha”– the cessation of the fluctuations in the mind and the body falls along and gets nice and deep and rested. And the body has a natural tendency to want to rid itself of accumulated traumas and stresses and so on. And so it’ll naturally go to work doing that. And then you’ll experience some pain or some of this or some of that. I remember I was out two months, two and a half month meditation retreat one time and I ended up having this really severe pain in my shoulder and I hadn’t done anything to injure it, but the pain was just there. I mainly feel it during meditation and, and it wasn’t kind of analyzing it into molecules, but it just sort of allowing myself to feel it, not distracting myself from it. And over time, it finally just dissolved. And then there was a feeling of “ah,” you know, some some something I had been carrying whatever it was, why ever had it gone?
Ann Mathie: Yeah. Right. And that kind of goes back to what you were saying. It’s like, you know, when someone says, “oh, just let go.” It’s like, “well, yeah, I would I would if I could, I don’t know how to,” you know? Yeah, well, we’re fits in your mind, and it’s going over and over it. You can’t just let go like, I don’t know. Maybe Yeah, maybe you can this thing I think, through practice, you, you that’s the process. But also interestingly, I’ve found through practice it what it’s not necessarily the so with concentration practices, like so you’re isn’t an action. I’m concentrating my mind wanders, I bring it back, keep doing that over and over again. Eventually, it stays there for awhile. But interestingly, the non-dual experience just arises spontaneously and naturally after the practice, like when you’re just minding your own business and going about your day, because you’ve been training yourself to study your mind and keep it there– still, so it’s not getting drawn into sensory experiences, the mind is just steady. And then naturally that non-dual state just arises without effort, effortlessly. So for me, I think the practice is really, really important for that non-dual state to emerge. You need to kind of create the container for that to arise and then everything dissolves from that. So it’s like you’re creating more and more subtle containers until that non dual state. And I just think, yes, some people can do it without the practice. But I can’t, I mean, these, these people are amazing if they, if they, if that’s, you know, they can do it here. And now that’s
Rick Archer: Just a week ago, I was contacted by the 18 year old girl in Toronto, I think, Montreal, who gave me the most beautiful one of the most beautiful descriptions of functioning and awake in an awakened state that I’ve ever read. And but she didn’t quite know what was going on. And, and, you know, I talked to her for a while later and turned out, you know, she was basically born in a family of yogis her parents and her aunts and uncles, all these people have been on a spiritual path. And she obviously just a very highly evolved soul. It came in, and she’s just awakening naturally. And…
Ann Mathie: Without practice, without practice, wow. Yeah. yeah. Au naturale.
Rick Archer: I mean, you know, those verses in the Gita where Krishna talks about picking up where you left off, if you’ve done a lot of spiritual practice, and you don’t, yeah,
Ann Mathie: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, that’s the thing. You know, what, they call them Pratyekabuddhas. They’re like the Shravakabuddhas who kind of practice the word of the Buddha, you know, do, do the path from the Canon, from the Pali Canon. There the ones that are, just naturally know, like, they just go on, crack on, and not Yeah, yeah, I mean, that, I believe, I think that’s the thing. That is certainly a thing. I mean, it’s very hard to make absolutes in this topic. I don’t think we can, because the experience is so diverse and so individual, that the range of experiences, the range of kind of how to get there, how to walk up the mountain, it’s just so diverse. I mean, let’s,
Rick Archer: let’s switch the conversation to Kundalini, we have, we should spend a whole hour on that. And maybe a couple of questions have come in about it, which I’ll ask soon. Maybe we should start by having you define it, even though everyone’s heard the word but it’d be good to have a definition.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, okay. I suppose in a nutshell, it’s a process by which the unfolding takes place in the human being that breaks down the compactness of the human beings so that one’s consciousness can connect to a greater consciousness.
Rick Archer: Impact is what how’s it? What is What do you mean by compactness? And how does it break it down?
Ann Mathie: So okay, so the idea that, okay, so let’s try to imagine this, this self, just like a vehicle, I mean, the classic kind of analogy of car like, you know, wheels, engine, wheel, bonnet, all of those parts on the car, but when you put them together, we become the car. So we go about life thinking that we’re just this whole thing, whereas in fact, we’re a bunch of separate components working together to function as a human being. The, we get so attached to this collection of processes that work together, that we forget that we’re just a bunch of parts that come together. And as a result, you know, that becomes very tamasic, you become very kind of solid and believe that everything is real. So we live in this illusory. This is the, this is the sense of being asleep. There’s so much tamasic in the mind that we go about life thinking that everything is real, thinking your identity is real. Kundalini is a bit like the in its raw human form, it’s like a force, a power that brings the universe into creation that kind of erupts from within yourself and it breaks each part of yourself down so that you start to experience yourself as more than just one compact thing, but you are in fact connected and a collection of various things. And you start to see that or you start to see the layers of yourself kind of unfold. And then and I suppose the experience like talk about the experience. Yeah, please. Yeah. So the experience manifests in many different ways. The classic Kundalini I suppose, starts off with a heat erupting in the belly and sometimes spiraling or it can pulse out like an electricity or an energy from the belly button area or the heart. And then a fire- can be blue can be red can be like a flame thrower, can be like a subtle energy- moves up the spine. It can stop at the neck and burst out like light from the sides of the neck towards the head or it can just shoot straight out the top. Sometimes it’s so subtle and delicate that one can hardly feel it. Sometimes it’s so intense that the whole body feels like it’s up in flames. That’s the classic version. And as there are so many other experiences that happen as a result. So ultimately, it’s a bit like pouring liquid fire through your subtle system and clearing out any blockages that one might have through the subtle body like the nadis. There’s a lot of if we were to really geek out on this. There’s a lot of those scripture would say Kundalini is solar energy and it moves through the body. Some might say that Kundalini is a sort of prana. Some might say Kundalini is a prana is in like lifeforce vitality. There’s a lot of kind of discrepancies in the text, when you kind of really get into I mean, as well. This kind of the, the word came about, probably around the tantric era, around 300 ad. And it’s been changing and evolving ever since as Tantra has changed and evolved. So, yeah,
Rick Archer: That’s some some attribute intelligence to Kundalini and actually refer to it in the feminine gender, you know, as a goddess of some sort, who is intelligently working out our evolution by, you know, putting us through the fires of purification or something.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah. So, so within within the, the Tantric philosophy, our whole universe is a structured symphony of sound, everything is a vibration, every stratosphere of our consciousness maps or maps onto the universe in that structure as well, there is a form and a structure to it. And it’s all vibratory or sound based. So each, the way the universe is organized through the stratosphere is of vibrations, we are consciousness, is is also that way. So Kundalini is a primordial sound that breaks through all of those other sounds and brings one into atonement, you could say. But yes, these goddesses, these deities are a kind of personification of each vibration. So these vibrations would be a kind of, and these goddesses would be like an energy signature, you could say, for each of these vibratory components that make up a whole universe. So when you’re going through Kundalini experiences, it is also common to feel like you’re being possessed by a deity. And to feel like something is taking over you. It’s called ubovina (sp) and like an attitude of that deity, well, we’ll just kind of flood your whole being and that could be devotion or fierceness or poise and intellect. It’s it manifests in different as different states of consciousness.
Rick Archer: When I first started experiencing it back in about 1970, after a long meditation course, so yeah, there were several strange symptoms, one was like, my face would go into these strange, involuntary grimaces. And I knew what was happening, basically. And so I didn’t, it didn’t scare me, I didn’t resist it. And I didn’t do it in public, I would just sit quietly and let it kind of work its way out. And then also, there was a lot of this sort of head shaking business and I was driving an ice cream truck at the time. And whenever I settled down, my, my head would start to shake and so I would, you know, sometimes come to a stoplight and my head would start to shake because I was just sitting there without driving. past it cleared itself out.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah. I mean, the kriyas. Yeah, that the, that can be a thing, right, where the spontaneous careers the body will start moving. And that’s where the mudras come from. Initially, it kind of looks like jerky movements. But then after well, refinement, they they start to become very stylized. In the tradition in Tantric tradition. There’s a practice called nyasa, where you it’s a kind of ritual installation of the bija. The bija is the is a is a written signature of the Deity so you’re kind of installing the deity onto the body. In Tantra, the body is the universe. So you’re kind of activating all these different parts of the kind of as a vibratory experience of the universe. So yeah, like so when you’re experiencing those careers. That’s kind of eventually that does end up into, into those mudras. Yeah. around the body. Yeah. Or clearing out. Yeah, that’s really funny. I remember just being at the pub with a friend, and she just started writhing on the floor. She was going through at the moment, I was like, Oh, should I? Should we go? Or like, it’s interesting. I happen whenever they want to.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I can tell you stories. I mean, just the groups you could tell them to, I’m sure just big groups of people meditating together and stuff. And everybody’s like, it’s some kind of like an epileptics convention or something. People all writhing around making weird noises.
Ann Mathie: And, yeah, yeah, that’s great. I love that, you know, and that’s how, and that’s the attitude is, it is funny, and it’s okay. That’s the thing, I think, I think it does actually freak some people out
Rick Archer: As, of course, especially if you don’t know what it is. And it just starts happening, which happens to people, sometimes they Oh, my God, what’s happening to me, they write to the doctor, the doctor doesn’t know what’s happening. Next thing, you know, they’re on Thorazine or something?
Ann Mathie: Right? Yeah. And that’s the thing is that, and I understand that sometimes I think it can get quite, you know, vigorous and relentless and continuous. And that is, you know, disturbing for people. Especially, I think, you know, if you’ve got a certain, maybe religious- how would you say conditioning- maybe you might, you might connect that to a certain maybe negative thing as well. And that can cause confusion, or someone can tell you that it’s a negative thing. And then that can that can bring on a lot of anxiety.
Rick Archer: You might think it’s the beer demons coming after you or something like that.
Ann Mathie: Right. Right. Yeah. I mean, it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s a natural, natural process. I mean, like, you know, you look at you look at nature, and you see, animals who experience a traumatic event they shake, just, that’s their natural responses. We don’t do that. We don’t shake. We just tend to store things in and kind of get more angry and bitter as we get older. So yeah, it’s kind of really necessary, isn’t it?
Rick Archer: Though, remembering the Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle talks about how, you know, some ducks, he was watching had a little fight. And then and then they stopped having the fight, and then they just kind of shut themselves off. And then they’re over it. Yeah.
Ann Mathie: Nice. Yeah. Yeah, we need to get back to that nature, don’t we? Or at least get rid of any, like, sort of stigma around certain behavior, you know, in polite society wants you to behave a certain way. I mean, yeah, I get I, you know, certain social boundaries are helpful and good to create harmony, and, you know, yeah, harmonious interactions with everyone. But yeah, I mean, I think that’s, that’s the thing, isn’t it, just being able to go somewhere safe, where you can just let all of that unravel where you can be somewhere without any judgmental eyes where you can just not hinder that process. I think, the more we let ourselves let go to it than the easier it is. Yeah.
Rick Archer: On the first course I took with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who was my teacher back then. I remember him saying, Well, I want to put you into really long meditation programs, but they have to be in a secluded place so the public won’t hear the screams.
Ann Mathie: Wow. Proper catharsis. Yeah, yeah. There was that good. Did it help? Did you feel good afterwards? Oh, yeah. Yeah. So you’ve got it out your system?
Rick Archer: Yeah. So there’s a couple of questions. This is from someone named Sarah Paige in Ascot in the UK. “I had a Kundalini rising experience during a hot yoga class where I felt the lifeforce rising and as it reached the fifth and sixth chakra, which would be neck and forehead, the shaking started then continue for a couple of minutes culminating in the urge to stretch my tongue far out and then it all settled again. Did this indicate release of blockage in, in those chakras?”
Ann Mathie: Shaking was around that—This was an online question— Yes. around that area. Yeah. Yeah, definitely.
Rick Archer: Or maybe the shaking was all over. But she felt the energy reaching these areas. Yeah. And then, and I and then she was wondering, like, how can she get it up to the seventh chakra, but that brings in a way you can finish answering this other question, but also add to it. Perhaps an advisory against trying to force Kundalini in any way as opposed to letting it naturally rise?
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah, Good question. I mean, as far as the could. Okay, so this is speculation. I don’t think it like unless you’ve got like actual insight. You can see subtle bodies and you can actually they’re witnessing. I would never say this is actually what’s happening. But I, my my guess based on what I understand, when Kundalini reaches certain areas, and that aspect of your being maybe has things to resolve them that can echo through the whole body, you know, so when that movement of energy reaches some kind of resistance, that’s the shaking that happens. And yes, that shake or that resistance, that might be speech, maybe that speech, or resistance of speech or oppression of speech, might have affected one to such a degree that it it echoed through the whole body, that you know, in terms of how maybe that person was oppressed or abused or whatever. Then yeah, the shaking will release all of that, and it does move through the whole body. I’ve never assigned a particular part to thing. However, I mean, this is definitely apparent when you in a certain Vipassana practices or mindfulness practices, you can go in and you start to feel vibrations or blockages unraveling. And when you step out of equanimity, and you go into thought, you can see what those psychological things were. So yeah, they’re usually related. It’s very difficult to kind of say precisely what what psychological processes meets particular chakras, we must remember the chakra thing is a Western model, initiated by Jungian theory, this isn’t really talked about
Rick Archer: Doesn’t have a historical source in the…
Ann Mathie: The emotional centers. So, so Walter Woodruff brought these ideas over who was Arthur Avalon who brought these ideas in Tantra over to the west with his book on Kundalini Shakti on Tantra. And he was the he was like this Bengali judge, oh, sorry, he was, he was English. He worked in Bengal, he works with Bengali scholars. He was a judge in India in the, when for now. So yeah, I mean, his he was so scientific about tantra, when he brought that back, the West were amazed and adopted it, it’s from one particular text. That’s why the six chakra system is so popular in the West. It’s from this particular lineage, this particular path pathway, but the he wrote about the glandular system being connected to the chakras and assumed then an emotional position on each chakra. So in, in Tantra, the chakras represent a certain tattva which is, would be a layer of consciousness. Yeah, vibratory part of consciousness and a projection of, of a vibration of a particular sound vibration, which brings together certain aspects of our universe. So not, but I suppose, I suppose, you know, I can definitely see how there’s no mention of emotional states within that.
Rick Archer: I wasn’t thinking of that too much. But um, I mean, you know, sometimes you hear, okay, when the heart chakra opens, then you you’re going to experience a lot of love. And when the throat chakra opens, you may become more eloquent. And when the Anja chakra opens in the middle of the forehead, you might gain deep intuitive insight. And then when the seventh chakra opens, 1000 people have those and yeah, that’s Enlightenment. And I mean, is that kind of explanation there in the ancient texts? or is this some kind of modern…?
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah. I mean, that’s certainly yes. Yes, yes, exactly. Yeah. So suppose you’re what you’re saying. I’ve definitely seen that before. In regards to the psychological processes that happen as each chakra opens, and yeah, they do govern certain functions of the person. Absolutely. Like the fact the capacity for compassion, the capacity for empathy, the capacity for forgiveness, all of those things would be heart chakra related things. Yes, yes, absolutely. I’ve, I’ve definitely seen that. I mean, more from… So interestingly, when you look at the text, they don’t necessarily talk about those things. But the commentaries on the text will talk about those things.
Rick Archer: Here’s another question. This is from Rahul Agarwal in Chandigarh, India, “Would Ann suggest how to keep active Kundalini energy manageable in awakened people with weak neural network or with a history of trauma? How far can people like me progress?”
Ann Mathie: I mean, what… so weak neural network…does that mean?
Rick Archer: I guess he’s saying he has. I think he may be he’s saying he has a history of trauma which has weakened his neural network, and he wants to keep it Kundalini energy manageable. Maybe he’s implying that it’s sometimes unmanageable. And he feels like maybe because of his trauma and everything his progress might have its limits. And,
Ann Mathie: Yeah, I mean, I think that we live we tend to limit ourselves as human beings in our own psychology does that. This is why so I love the Buddhist path, the Kundalini is mapped out in the Buddhist path, there is a part of the process where Kundalini is situated, it’s called in the arising and passing stage of insights, where a Kundalini stuff happens in a structured path, in a structured path of meditation. So there’s preliminary practices before you awaken Kundalini. So we need to kind of calm down the “fight or flight” centers in the brain before we start working on the subtle layers of our nervous system, because we’re going to be bringing up trauma, which might often is fear-based. And so if we have learned to control the fight or flight parts of our brain through practices of loving kindness, self compassion, cultivating a really good, strong moral foundation in behavior, doing all of these things which are going to create calm ripples in your world. Then Kundalini is much easier to manage. There’s not too many blockages to come up against. So I think the work really lies in making, getting yourself into a safe place first, in relationships, in your house situation, in your work situation, your actual life, where you feel safe. You know, get away from those toxic relationships and then start cultivate because the mind is plastic, isn’t it? We can we can cultivate different attitudes, so cultivating firstly, care for yourself and then care for others. So this was how they would lay it out in the Buddhist path, you know, so we’ve got a really good, healthy ego, before we start digging deep, and pulling out the skeletons from the closet, I think that’s probably wise. But as for healing, which maybe I’m wondering, is this Do you think that this is where the question is referring to as well?
Rick Archer: He’d have to, he’d have to tell us more. But um, I just inferred from the question that he has has a history of trauma and is wondering how it might impede his, his development? Yeah.
Ann Mathie: Well, I mean, I definitely think always work on the trauma, always get yourself safe. Get yourself to a position where that fight or flight where adrenaline is pumping through your system all the time. I think that Kundalini can, if it’s happening spontaneously, then there’s no choice is going to take you on that ride. And it’ll iron out those creases anyway.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So that’s good. I mean, you, you’re sort of espousing a slow and steady wins the race approach, or we can say my safety first approach. And
Ann Mathie: Yeah, I think the ego can get really damaged, like I’ve seen people kind of get really gung ho in it and get, and these extraordinary explosions happen within the body, within the self, like really full on experiences that just mind shattering. But they, they’ve entered into delusions of grandeur, or a really unsteady sense of self and haven’t been able to manage reality, like keep their jobs or keep their family or do you know what I mean. And oh, yeah, I mean, sure, we could abandon all of that and just go, right, like, you know, straight for the top of the mountain. Right? Who am I to say, one shouldn’t. I just think there are consequences in
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, if you actually want to reach the top of the mountain and not fall off, in the process of climbing. I mean, a lot of spiritual traditions place great emphasis on purification and, you know, becoming a sort of a well integrated person, like you say, with a healthy ego and, and you know, moral foundation and all that. For years, you might be apprenticing like that in a tradition. Swami Sarvapriyananda talks about how that was in the Ramakrishna tradition and you know, some young aspirants come in, they’re all gung ho and they just want to meditate 18 hours a day and no, you have to work you have to do this and, and, and maybe 10 years later, you could get on a routine like that. But you know, we’re impatient in our modern Western culture. And a lot of people think that they can just take a heavy psilocybin trip or something or Ayahuasca journey and awaken Kundalini. But the system can be full of impurities and full have hidden gremlins that are just kind of come out and bite us if we haven’t, you know, worked them out in a more. progressive way.
Ann Mathie: And I think it’s really important to just accept that that’s okay as well that we are full of gremlins as well really normal growing up in the world where we bump up against each other where we’ve, you know, traumas really not only to put you know, there’s deep trauma and those kind of just standard trauma, but yeah, it’s like that that stuff is is okay as well. It’s interestingly, you know, I initially I kind of went , I suppose, I felt really strong motivation initially really, really strong motivation issue, like I was on a warpath, but not not all paths in a bad way, like fighting or anything, but just determination like such strong determination. And, and I remember, like, my attention and will being kind of forged by this.
Rick Archer: Remember Patanjali and the Yoga Sutras. He says vehement intensity, those with vehement intensity, they’re gonna get
Ann Mathie: Yeah, totally, totally. And, and you know, what, there’s so many distractions on the path that it’s kind of hard to do practice long enough and deep enough to really shift your consciousness in a way that would does make permanent change. And we do need that like vigor in that, that passion and ardent devotion to the to, to practice. Otherwise, you know, the odd yoga class a week isn’t really going to do anything, I think. I think it’s, you know, we often say, oh, “temper temper, go, go easy, go slow.” But we need some vigor, we need some of that passion to keep us moving forwards to keep us driving through some of these really icky-like attachments that distract you like your phone or, like nonsense of media, and you know, …
Rick Archer: You have to pace yourself, you know, yeah, I mean, there’s that famous, there’s a popular saying that this is a marathon, not a sprint. And if you try to run a marathon, and you’re going full out sprinting, you’re gonna go like, you know, a couple 100 yards and have to slow down.
Ann Mathie: Your win. That’s probably very wise. Yes. And I think yeah, and yeah, you could probably say, maybe I was a bit of a teenager on the path. And that sense, you know, I’ve been there. “Come on, let’s go.” Yeah, yeah, ya know, for sure, for sure. And I think, I mean, for me, at the time, I didn’t have dependents, didn’t have a child. And there’s no, no one. I mean, obviously, other than my parents and friends, but I was happy to fully let go of everything. So at the time, it was… But now I’m a mother, and that’s my duty. That’s my, my primary concern. And, and I need to keep my stuff together, you know, for my, for my child, so that’s, yeah, so I wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize my sanity,
Rick Archer: Or your child, “Well make your own dinner, kid. I’m not finsihed with my four-hour meditation.” Exactly. So closely related, we haven’t necessarily finished the Kundalini topic and we can dip into it more, but we can sort of intersperse it with some of the psychological challenges that accompany and accompany the spiritual path in general. And you sent some helpful notes on that. There’s, you know, points about impurities of insight and stages of insight, dark night of the soul, the distinction between psychosis and awakening, and you know, whether, you know, spiritual aspiration can actually trigger psychosis or, you know, the difference between, you mentioned the phrase “meditation sickness” and, and so on. So the religious thing to talk about some of these things in whatever order you want to.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, and that’s, it’s just such a fascinating thing that’s coming up quite a lot. I mean, since mindfulness-based practices started becoming really popular, and were prescribed as a means for psychological wellness for people. What they were finding is that some people were getting really into the practice that they were starting to go through the 16 stages of insight. So these are very deep insights that happen through Vipassana. And as you move through these insights you’re faced with, so even in Hindu philosophy, they talk about Mara, you know, the illusion like it’s a demon like it’s come to face,
Rick Archer: Like it’s trying to throw Buddha off his game just right.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So all of these, you know, as you’re going, as you’re making progress on this path, you meet fear, like full-on, you know, as your as, like, not just like, existential terror. You know, but it’s a necessary part of the path to overcome to to understand what are those what is exactly exactly is fear, what is it, you know, and break it down. And that’s a really important part of the path as well to let go of this thing, to understand it. And then to really let go of it, properly let go over it. Same thing with, you know, anxiety or doubt or hate or aversion those things as well. They come up really strong so that the practitioner can examine it, and understand the nature of it in an insight way, like in a deep meditative way, rather than just experiencing it psychologically in your day to day life. So that you can really let go of it and then become a, you’re no longer a worldling. That’s what they refer to as, like you become like, that’s when you start to enter into the realm of arhant, you know that. So people are touching on these experiences when they do their mindful based programs, but they’ve, you know, is obviously terrifying, it’s obviously quite scary. So, so that’s why the path to Enlightenment is quite different from what we would see is just get someone better because they’re psychologically suffering. There’s, so I suppose what we need to understand is bring the whole path over, or look at the whole path rather than just a bit of mindfulness based practices to get better. We’re looking at the preliminary practices as well, to secure that, you know, healthy ego.
Rick Archer: Well, so in my own experience, you know, over the decades, being around groups of people doing spiritual practice, and now, for the last decade, interviewing all these people, I’ve seen many examples of spiritual practice resulting in some kind of, I mean, resulting in beautiful things in terms of, you know, so many nice things, but also, in some cases, resulting in mental breakdowns and, or becoming extremely odd or eccentric or eager or idiosyncratic. And I’ve gone through some phases myself, you know, which I mentioned earlier. I got kind of kooky on long meditation programs without enough integration and stabilization. And I live in a town where, you know, a couple of several 1000 people have been meditating for many decades. And I see some people around town, who have just become so strange in in their older age- really eccentric, fanatic, fanatical off balance, and yet they’ve been meditating regularly. So that so there’s the immediate thing of maybe having a psychotic episode on a long meditation course. And then there’s the long range thing of how do we maintain integration and psychological health over the course of our lifetime, so that spiritual development becomes a blossoming of all positive qualities and our full potential rather than something which leads us into? I don’t know. It’s, yeah. Strange mental state. Yeah.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah, it’s always it’s really, really important to discuss this, I think. And it, it’s so, in the tradition, when you’re going through the 16 stages of insight or when, so the, there will be a kind of the abbot or the head monk of a monastery, and you would be in communication with that teacher explaining your, where you’re at, the teacher would be able to recognize are there at that part of the insight process. “Okay, so I really need to make sure they’re doing this, this and this practice,” or really keep an eye on them really encourage them in this particular kind of way. So they have this, what’s called 10 impurities of insight, that’s one of the names that happens. So especially when you get really deep in the practice or especially during a rising and passing stage, you get like, a lot of Kundalini experiences, you start to glow or you have psychic experiences or that will mean you know, very in otherworldly experiences. And, typically, because we’re human, we start to go “oh, well, that’s great. I want more and, or that’s amazing. I’m, I’m Jesus or whatever.” Yeah, and,
Rick Archer: I mean, Aren’t I cool? Now? I try,
Ann Mathie: Right. And, and that’s okay. That’s really normal. That’s just what humans do. Because suddenly you’ve just had a mind bending experience, you know, initially, and then the, so the, what they advise is just, okay. When that stuff does start happening, you just got to keep your mind equanimous So they call it the 10 impurities of insight because commonly, people start to get very Are we attached to those delicious experiences, and that will kind of pervert the psychology. And it will start taking the person away from the path to developing and cultivating a kind of a Buddha-type heart.
Rick Archer: Are you saying that different impurities of insight could occur a different, different ones of these 16 stages?
Ann Mathie: Typically, typically, when you, I mean, very typically, in the initial stages of getting into deep meditation, when you start having the Kundalini experiences, I mean, some of the things that you like, real deep insight into scripture or understanding the path more or sort of psychic experiences or visions. The, that’s important on one level as you embark deeper on the path. But then, I mean, those particular things usually happen at the initial stages, or the initial stages of insight. I mean, it doesn’t always happen in a linear order, that’s the thing. The impurities don’t arise, if you’re keeping your mind just observing. So what you would do in that situation, if you started getting things of like, pride come up, whilst you were having a Kundalini experience, like, oh, well, anti special, then you would, so there, they advise, “just note, pride, just be like, Oh, pride coming,” you know, so until it passes, or just just be really honest. And note what psychological thing is arising as, as, as you’re observing yourself, having the experience where there’s always a commentary happening. Same later at any stage in the path, what the dangers are, is really feeding attachment or aversion to, to the processes that happened. And I think, gosh, who in terms of kind of some of the quirky or kooky behaviors? I don’t know, in terms of, if they last a long time.
Rick Archer: I mean, seems like they do, from what I know, people who are just, they’ve been kooky for years, and they, they still meditate, but boy, they go into the local grocery store, and they’ll kind of come up to you and start ranting and raving about some conspiracy theory or, or other, you know, whatever, just off balance. And then you have examples of famous gurus, who, arguably were at a very high level of development. They certainly seem to make an impact, huge impact on people who were doing really weird stuff behind the scenes, you know, sexual behaviors and things like that. So you think that, “okay, that must be an impurity of insight at a at a high level.”
Ann Mathie: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, both Hindu and Buddhist. I mean, there have been many cases of Buddhist teachers in the West. crashing and burning, you know,
Ann Mathie: Yeah, sure. Oh, God yeah. Yeah, I’ve had some horrific stories. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I wonder as well, this is me, this is the genius. This is why I like these traditions is because we’ve had, they’ve had over 2000 years of cultivating, refining, developing these paths, and preliminary practices or methods to prevent these things from happening. You know, like, people for 1000s of years have been intensely meditating and wandering off the path and exploring different psychoses that come up as a result of certain practices. And so, so the tradition is that various traditions, whatever they may teach, whether it’s the Yoga Sutras, the Theravada path or the Tantric path. It’s really important to look at the whole path because in that will be buffers, or protections that will help you when you veer off or prepare you to go deep, you know, all of these things. These are these have been carefully cultivated over 1000s of years, you know, of trial and error. And I just think that, that there’s something in that longevity, you know, and watching people come out the other side, well, not me personally, but reading phenomenological research into arhants, or their experience of becoming an arhant is very interesting in terms of how they’ve been guided through that, to prevent these psychological processes. I think when you embark on it alone, it’s, it’s hard. That’s why it’s so important to have a sangha friends not necessarily a guru, but friends, where you can share knowledge with each other and help each other out. Reflect, you know, when, when, when we’re behaving weirdly when your mates can just go away, you know, stop it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So in your case, you mentioned you didn’t ever really have a teacher but I guess have you had sanghas. And you know, yeah, friends that you
Ann Mathie: Oh, yeah, totally. Like my favorite thing to do is go on like Long walks in the woods with with, with fellow Buddhist mates and chat about Dharma. That’s like, you know. But yeah, definitely throughout the years in all kinds of situations through sort of hedonism through practice, through different traditions, through, you know, yeah, friends have been very important in that. But also
Rick Archer: Did you say hedonisms as in hedonism? Yeah. Like kind of went through a hedonistic phase? Yeah, sure.
Ann Mathie: Like, yeah. You know, when I was younger.
Rick Archer: I guess we all did most of us.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, sort of. Yeah, yeah, you get that out of your system, I suppose don’t you? But yeah, I suppose that’s the thing, isn’t it? The, the, the attachment to, to worldly pleasures. That’s, that’s always going to…Look, I have this debate with some friends a lot here. Because, you know, they’re not interested in the path to Enlightenment. They’re interested in different different aspects of spiritual development. And I often have this conversation with friends about, “well, I don’t want to stop doing all the fun things, I don’t want to stop enjoying the things that make me laugh and have joy with my friends.” You know, they don’t want to and that’s, and that’s absolutely, fair enough. And I think what I’m trying to, what I’m trying to understand about this path is “don’t think we have to stop having pleasure.” The issues arise when we start getting attached to the pleasure.
Rick Archer: Okay, the Buddha taught the middle way, right. I mean, he didn’t say, you know, be an aesthetic. And, and in Hinduism, there’s a similar thing, you know, about just sort of balance and not, not being a hedonist and totally indulging and also not necessarily depriving yourself of experiences. But, you know, putting first priority on being established and being and then performing action and having action actually become more skillful by virtue of your establishment and being.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I completely agree. I think it’s, yeah, I mean, I know people who became monks and threw their robes in because they had strong desires arise. You know, and they felt that the desire was kind of getting twisted, because they needed an outlet, you know, that, that, that hadn’t run its course properly, to fully renounce. And I think this is the sort of healthy thing to do you know, when in the yogis in India, they look to enter into Brahmacharya, abstinence, you have to kind of sow your wild oats first. And then once you’ve got that out the way, then you become Brahmacharya. So that’s, it’s unhealthy to become Brahmacharya abstinent unless you do that.
Rick Archer: Well, yes, I think the way they outline it is, you know, up until the age of 25, be a student, be a Brahmacharya, then if you’re inclined to do so, get married and go through the whole thing of sowing wild oats and having children and so on. And then when you get to you know, retirement age, you go back into a more reclusive life. But then you know, people like Shankara say, “you could bypass the whole household, your face if you’re cut out for it.” And just yeah, straight from the Brahmacharya phase to becoming a sanyasi. But if you’re not cut out for it, that wouldn’t be advisable. And there’s a gate a verse which says, because one can perform it wounds, one’s own Dharma, though lesser and merit is better than the dharma of another. Better is death in one’s own Dharma, the dharma of another brings danger. Yeah, so again, it’s like, in a way we can, we can be very adamant and diligent and enthusiastic about our our spiritual progress. But you have to find your balance point beyond which you’re going to actually sabotage your own progress by pushing too hard and being not being who you naturally are, you know, being too unnatural.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah, it is, isn’t it? It’s kind of like tempering as you go. Kind of really being honest with ourselves. Yeah, I don’t think I don’t think it should. God, it’s so difficult to to make any absolute statements about such a complex, complex thing. Everybody’s different. Right, right. Yes, it’s, it’s always you know, we can do like you say, we can deploy We’ve all have self, things that we really need to nourish, you know, to not to bring joy or love, togetherness or community into our lives. It’s, it’s really those things are really important, that kind of healthy connection to humans. I think that’s, that’s super important.
Rick Archer: I’m laughing because I’m remembering some of the crazy things I did. I don’t want to harp on myself too much. But just, you know, like, extreme fasting and then gorging myself afterwards, you know? Things like that.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, yeah, you gotta try it all. Why not? I mean, well, okay, maybe that’s not not a sensible thing to say. Yeah, I feel like, I feel like the spiritual path, you know, can get quite extreme for those who are deeply devoted. You don’t have a choice. You know, it takes over your whole mind and your whole life. Like, that’s just what you do and who you are, like, you know, and you can go about pretending that you’re like, “I’m a normal person.” But no, that thing consumes you all the time. Like, once that, once you that spark has been lit.
Rick Archer: So let’s, let’s loop back around a little bit. So we’ve talked about Kundalini awakenings, we’ve talked about, you know, the fact that they can sometimes be scary or uncomfortable. And we’ve talked about the, you know, possibility of psychosis or instability or dark night of the soul and, and all that. And you talked about how these traditions have safeguards to kind of keep you on track as you go along. And I was going to comment when you said that. It seems like the safeguards are not applied as often as they should be, like, there’s some kind of lack of oversight or diligence in many cases, perhaps because some teachers just don’t have anyone keeping tabs on them, you know. They’re the top dog and nobody calls them on their stuff. But um, big picture, you know, what, what would you say about this whole consideration of safety on the path in order not to slow it down, but to actually make it you know, fructify as quickly and assuredly as possible, and perhaps what could be done, you think, in contemporary spirituality, to have more of that. You know, to have it be less of a messy scene and more of a wholesome, productive one.
Ann Mathie: Okay, so I can only speak on behalf of myself and where I feel like I’m at in my path, and that is, is I’ve started to realign myself or cultivate right intention focused on cultivating right intention more so. Like, I go, I’d have I’d have the idea I could go sit and meditate. But behind that is an intention, you know, behind that as an intention, maybe I want to get enlightened, maybe I want to polish my ego, maybe I want to do you know, I mean, all those intentions. So I’ve really been trying to notice, what’s my intention to go and sit and meditate. And I’ve really been trying to cultivate the, to do it for the benefit of others. So if there is a compassionate motivation, then then act on it, because that will amplify that motivation. So cultivating bodhichitta I think that you know, whether you have little of it or abundance of it, I think it’s really important to cultivate it to let that grow to to feed it as much as possible, to let that be your kind of your navigator, you know, even if it’s boss initially, like just, just go on. So if there’s an if there’s if there is a kind of a feeling to go and help someone go and do it, like, you know, that’s that kind of loving kindness path that stuff is the most wholesome, most safest, most beneficial for everyone else. Like so who cares if everyone gets in? Like, what about the people who are still burning on the boat or suffering? You know, this is, this is the thing, there’s a big whole movement in self improvement and becoming amazing and hacking the psychology, all of this stuff. And I think what we forget to do is cultivate selfless intention. That I think is the safest, most beautiful way to safeguarding and you’re protected. I mean, can’t prove this, but there’s psychologically and spiritually there’s a protection somehow that happens when that is the motivation.
Rick Archer: That’s a really good answer. I wouldn’t have anticipated that answer but I totally get it. And, you know, I mean, If it’s sort of like, Enlightenment or bust, and it’s for me, yeah, we’ve seen examples of people who become kind of spiritually selfish, and “to heck with everybody else, my program, my meditation, my diet, my this, my that,” and that you end up with kind of a spiritualized ego or something. But if it’s more than the theme of St. Francis, you know, “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Let me sow compassion, let me show so kindness, love, etc,” then, I don’t know that it, it seems like that would be protective in the sense that it would prevent self anger, aggrandizement. It would prevent egotism which pride goeth before a fall, you know, so it would help to prevent falls? It’s really good, really good perspective. Good answer.
Ann Mathie: Yeah, I mean, I think that, you know, that point of death. That’s, that’s what gets evaluated. oneself, one’s own reflection process, if one has the clarity of mind at that point. Yeah. What were your intentions more than the actions?
Rick Archer: Yeah, some people say that who have near death experiences that they they come back from the Near Death Experience saying that they were it was made clear to them that the most important thing in life was how much they loved. You know? Not certainly not how much money they made. Yeah, how much they meditated, or?
Ann Mathie: Yeah. And that’s And therein lies the joy like that, naturally, just the generates joy, like those attitudes.
Rick Archer: Well, that might be a good note to end on. Is there anything else that you feel is important that we haven’t covered?
Ann Mathie: So much? On this stuff? Yeah. I was so lovely to speak to you. Yeah, no, I think it’s a, yeah, it’s a great thing that you do here, create this platform of different different views and different ideas about such a topic.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, I certainly enjoy it. And people seem to benefit from it. And we were talking before we started the interview. And I was just saying that, I try to take a God’s eye view of things in the sense that– see the big picture, I mean, incredibly vast universe we live in, I love astronomy and cosmology and stuff. And, you know, when you consider the number of inhabited planets, there probably are trillions of them in the universe. And in each one there, probably numerous spiritual traditions and religions. And most of them feel like there’s just the only one or the best one or something. But try to see it as God sees it. All these things are our paths up the mountain, and people gravitate to what works for them. And so you know, you just kind of have to appreciate all the paths and not compare and, and just, you know, mind when no one’s own p’s and q’s. I’ll close with a while I won’t close, but you can say more if you like, but a Padmasambhava quote that I like a lot that I’ve said many times, he said, “Although my awareness is as vast as the sky, my attention to karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour.” So just being on your toes and precise like that. Yeah,
Ann Mathie: That’s, that’s a good, good, good summary of of everything.
Rick Archer: So you’re a mom, you’re a school teacher, and
Ann Mathie: You’re part time. And then the rest of my time, I study.
Rick Archer: Study and write? And so, yeah, so you have a website, I’ll link to it. And there’s some nice articles, little academic, but interesting and educational and some interesting talks videos on there that people can listen to. So as I did in the past week, so I will link to that. And, you know, if you ever write a book or anything, let me know. And I’ll put it up on your BatGap page.
Ann Mathie: Yeah. Pretty much you get on it, then. Yeah, that’s, yeah,
Rick Archer: That’s a motivation. Well, thanks. Thanks, Ann.
Ann Mathie: And thank you, thank you so much for for having me.
Rick Archer: Oh, it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed talking to you.
Ann Mathie: Yeah.
Rick Archer: And thanks to those who are listening or watching and we’ll see you for the next one.