608. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, 2nd Interview

Sadhvi Bhagawati SaraswatiThis interview centered around Sadhvi’s new book, Hollywood to the Himalayas: A Journey of Healing and Transformation. Her website dedicated to the book is hollywoodtothehimalayas.com.

Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, Ph.D. is a renowned spiritual leader, author, and motivational speaker based in Rishikesh, India. Originally from Los Angeles and a graduate of Stanford University, Sadhviji has been ordained into the sacred order of Sanyas by her guru HH Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji and has been living at Parmarth Niketan Ashram for the past twenty-five years. She is the Secretary-General of the Global Interfaith WASH Alliance, an international interfaith organization dedicated to clean water, sanitation, and hygiene; president of Divine Shakti Foundation, a foundation that runs free schools, vocational training programs, and empowerment programs; and director of the world-famous International Yoga Festival at Parmarth Niketan Ashram, Rishikesh—which has been covered in Time, CNN, the New York Times and other prestigious publications and has been addressed by both the Prime Minister and Vice President of India. She serves on the United Nations Advisory Council on Religion and on the steering committees of the International Partnership for Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD) and the Moral Imperative to End Extreme Poverty, a campaign by the United Nations and World Bank. She was also the Managing Editor for the monumental project of the 11-volume Encyclopedia of Hinduism. She oversees a variety of humanitarian projects, teaches meditation, lectures, writes, counsels individuals and families, and serves as a unique female voice of spiritual leadership throughout India and the world.

Some of the topics discussed in this interview:

  • How Sadhvi’s journey has bridged spirituality and humanness.
  • Everyone is qualified to lead a spiritual life.
  • Sadhvi’s initial awakening on the banks of the Ganges and the feeling that she had returned home.
  • The lifelong process of integration and embodiment.
  • Seeing the divine in all things.
  • The importance of humility regarding one’s spiritual attainment.
  • The role of the guru: to shine the light that enables us to see our own light, thus dispelling the darkness of ignorance.
  • How Sadhvi’s guru Pujya Swamiji inspires her to dedicate herself to the eternal rather than to things that forever fade.
  • Becoming a fit vessel for the grace of a teacher.
  • Everyone enters the world with karmic packages.
  • Mindfulness teaches us how to stay conscious and present.
  • In order to experience grace, sometimes there’s a lot of work to be done.
  • Sadhvi’s childhood trauma.
  • Forgiveness: regardless of what others have done we deserve to be free. Freedom is our birthright, our highest dharma, purpose, and calling.
  • Don’t feel bad if healing from trauma takes a long time.

Websites:

Book: Vegetarianism: For Our Bodies, Our Minds, Our Souls & Our Planet

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

First BatGap interview with Sadhvi.

Interview recorded July 25, 2021.

Video below. Audio coming soon.

607. Stephan Bodian, 2nd Interview

Stephan BodianStephan Bodian is a teacher in the nondual wisdom tradition of Zen, Dzogchen, and Advaita Vedanta and the founder and director of the annual School for Awakening, an intensive six-month program of exploration and study. His offerings are noted for their humor, warmth, spontaneity, and intimacy and combine direct pointers, lively dialogues, silent sitting, and guided self-inquiry. He’s the author of several books, including Wake Up Now: A Guide to the Journey of Spiritual Awakening and Beyond Mindfulness: The Direct Approach to Lasting Peace, Happiness, and Love.

Stephan spent a decade practicing Zen intensively as a monk but left the monastery because he sensed that the rigorous practice of meditation was obscuring the truth he was seeking. After studying Dzogchen for several years, he met his guru, Jean Klein, a European teacher of Advaita Vedanta, who told him to stop meditating and instead discover the meditator. Shortly after meeting Jean, he had a profound awakening to his true identity as timeless presence. After Jean’s death, Stephan met Adyashanti, and in 2001 Adya gave him Dharma transmission and invited him to teach.

Trained as a psychotherapist, Stephan also offers individual spiritual counseling and mentoring sessions to people throughout the world. His approach blends direct, experiential, nondual wisdom with the insights of Western psychology to support students in realizing who they really are while inquiring into the stories and patterns of thinking and behaving that continue to cause suffering.

Some of the main points discussed in this interview:

  • What does spiritual integrity really mean?
  • Absolute and relative levels of truth
  • “There is no right or wrong, but right is right, and wrong is wrong.”
  • The role and deeper meaning of ethical precepts.
  • Understanding the power dynamics of the teacher-student relationship.
  • How teachers abuse their sacred responsibility and act out of integrity.
  • “The teacher represents a whole world of meaning to the student.”
  • Teachers who claim to be enlightened may relegate their students to endless endarkenment.
  • Why narcissists are drawn to becoming spiritual teachers.
  • How students are taken in by misguided teachers.
  • The crucial role of discernment on the path: “The true guru is inside you”.
  • The importance of peer feedback and personal counseling as teachers mature in their role.
  • Sex in the forbidden zone: Wanderers, predators, and boundary confusion.
  • Acknowledging and integrating the shadow.
  • How to know when it’s time to leave a teacher.
  • The future of the spiritual teacher-student relationship in the West.
  • The endless nature of the awakening journey.

Website: stephanbodian.org

Other books:

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

First BatGap interview with Stephan.

Interview recorded July 11, 2021

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

606. Stephen Meyer

Stephen MeyerStephen C. Meyer received his Ph.D. in the philosophy of science from the University of Cambridge. A former geophysicist and college professor, he now directs Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture. Meyer is author of the New York Times bestseller Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design and Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design, a (London) Times Literary Supplement Book of the Year. In 2004, Meyer ignited a firestorm of media and scientific controversy when a biology journal at the Smithsonian Institution published his peer-reviewed scientific article advancing intelligent design. Meyer has been featured on national television and radio programs, including The Jim Lehrer News Hour, CBS Sunday Morning, NBC Nightly News, ABC World News, Good Morning America, Nightline, FOX News Live, Paula Zahn Now (CNN), and the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS. He has also been featured in two New York Times front-page stories and has garnered attention in other top national media.

Latest Book: Return of the God Hypothesis: Three Scientific Discoveries That Reveal the Mind Behind the Universe

Website: stephencmeyer.org

Interview recorded July 9, 2021

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