Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. This show is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. To check out the archive of, at this date, nearly 290 previous interviews, go to batgap.com and if you wish you may also support our efforts. There’s a donate button there.
So, my guest today is Bonnie Greenwell. Bonnie is a non-dual therapist in the lineage of Adyashanti and a transpersonal therapist who has specialized in working with spiritual emergence issues for 30 years. She has published several books and articles related to kundalini and spiritual awakening, most recently the Kundalini Guide and the Awakening Guide. I’ll be linking to the both of those from her page on batgap.com. These are based on assessments and consultations with over reflect her own experiences of awakening. She holds a PhD from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology and founded a counseling and education center in Ashland, Oregon called Shanti River Center where she offers satsang, study groups, workshops, meditation programs and spiritual guidance. She was a founder and organizer of the Kundalini Research Network and has trained therapists and offered seminars in Europe, Australia and the US and currently does assessments by phone and Skype with people in awakening processes from all over the world. With a broad background in Eastern and Western mystical teachings, energy work and psycho-spiritual counseling, she describes her role as being a mentor or a midwife for people going through the spiritual awakening process.
I’ve read both of Bonnie’s books in the last week, the Kundalini Guide and I’m about three-quarters of the way through this one, the Awakening Guide, and I really, every week I have a new guest and I generally have to read a book and I don’t often get through much or all of the book, but I really hustled this week because I was enjoying these books so much and I really wanted to make sure I read them all before the next one looms. To a certain extent I’m going to use the tables of contents in these books as a kind of an outline for what we’ll talk about during this interview.
So, welcome Bonnie, that was a bit of an overly long introduction but I’m really happy to have you on the show.
Bonnie: Thank you Rick, I’m glad to be here.
Rick: Yeah, one of the reasons I really enjoyed your books is that I really learned a lot. I felt like a lot of things that I’ve been experiencing over the years and I started having kundalini experiences in 1970 were elucidated by what I read, but for me they were never unpleasant or traumatic. I always kind of basically understood that something good was happening and kind of enjoyed the thing. One thing I found interesting about reading your books, especially the kundalini one, is that I think it explains an understanding of kundalini and how it enlivens the different energy centers in the body as it progresses. It can really help you understand a lot what various people are going through and I imagine this is what you do as a counselor. A lot of times, all sorts of things, I mean people who feel they’re totally awakened, people who feel they’re never awakened, people who are having this, that or the other sensation or experience and sometimes causing fear. And if you just have some more better understanding you can kind of put these things in a proper context and not let them be stumbling blocks as much as they might be. Would you agree?
Bonnie: Yes, in fact I feel one of the most useful things I do is help people to not feel afraid. The fear actually makes the process more difficult. If you have a context, you’re putting it in an orientation for yourself that says, “This is a good thing, it’s going to help me in the long run, it’s going to help me get to, if you’re spiritually oriented, it’s going to help me get to the awakening that I’ve been seeking,” and you can have the right relationship with it. It’s much easier to live with, it settles down quite a bit usually and the whole process just becomes more comfortable.
Rick: Yeah, because if you’re fighting… there are people obviously, and you mentioned some in your book, who began to have kundalini experiences without having any clue what they were and probably ran to doctors. And there are probably people in mental hospitals who have had kundalini awakenings and thought there was something wrong with them and doctors agreed and put them on drugs and stuck them in an institution. So, it’s a pretty sad outcome compared to what might have been.
Bonnie: I’ve run into a number of people over the years who were hospitalized at least briefly. What I found is, many times though, they have enough awareness that they’re able to figure out themselves ways to get out of the hospital. Especially, I’ve found several that there was really a drug reaction involved, where they were using some kind of drugs when they went into this process and once that wore off and they kind of came back to their own center, they might still have a lot of the phenomena, but they had enough awareness to have enough presence in themselves to know how to handle the doctors and/or bring in the right people to help them get out of the hospital. But it leaves a mark and because if your initial spiritual awakening you were treated that way and you had that trauma of being hospitalized and put in a ward with a lot of people who are truly very far out of it, it makes you really afraid to let go any more into your spiritual life. It can take many years to recover from that initial reaction to the experience.
Rick: Yeah, and we’d probably be getting ahead of ourselves to get into this now, but it can also be that you can actually become kind of unglued as a result of the spiritual awakening or kundalini awakening and actually need some kind of medical intervention, I should think, especially if there isn’t much of a foundation or preparedness for it.
Bonnie: Yes, you can. It’s usually temporary, it’s not like a permanent unglued though, it’s more like at the most a few weeks, but often just a few hours or a few days of feeling disoriented. Because, if you’ve plunged into a sense of what you are and it hasn’t much to do with what you thought you were, you can feel extremely disoriented if you’re not in any kind of a contextual place, a spiritual community or somewhere that has that paradigm, the paradigm that that might be part of awakening.
Rick: Yeah, and it can be more than disorienting. I mean I’ve been on long meditation courses where a significant percentage of the people on the course were just thrashing about and really making strange animal noises and going through all kinds of crazy, crazy stuff. The hotel owner would look in the window at everybody doing this and think, “Oh my God, what have I got going here?”
Bonnie: Yeah, that’s very true and that’s very common in the literature, there can be stages like that, but they don’t last indefinitely. You don’t walk out of the hotel room and for the next five days you sound like an animal. It’s more like, in that intensity of this energy rushing through your body, almost anything can happen. But then, when you come back down, you may be shocked and surprised at what you just experienced, but you’re not usually going to keep going that way. You might, for many months or years even have a lot of energy flows, but you just have to learn to live with that. You have to learn to get into a right relationship with it. You know in India they think of kundalini as a goddess, as the goddess Kundalini and it’s really another version of Shakti. And if you can think of it that way, as somehow your energy field is simply awakening and wanting to move through you in order to merge with consciousness or in order to transform consciousness, then when you have these unusual energies happening you don’t have to feel like you need to contract or hold them back or worry about them so much. You can just lay down on your bed and let your body shake for 15 minutes or whatever it wants to do. And if you cooperate with it that way, I’ve even met people who can talk to it and say, “Don’t bother me while I’m driving, please. I’ll give you time when I’m home.” You have to get in the right relationship. It’s your own life force, you’re just getting into a new relationship with it.
Rick: When I first started having this stuff, like 1970, I was driving an ice cream truck and whenever I got settled my head would start to go like this, you know, and there had been other things going on at that time. But, if I pulled up to a stop sign with the ice cream truck, I had to keep moving and obviously that phase passed. But all this stuff can, again, if you didn’t know what was going on, you’d think there was something seriously wrong.
Bonnie: That’s true, and sometimes people do go through the medical route and the doctors can’t figure out any reason for it. So, then if you’ve done that and you know that nobody can find a medical reason, that it’s really time to turn around and explore what spiritual teachings have to say about this.
Rick: Yeah, and the thing you said a minute ago, it was a nice segue into what probably should have been my first question, kundalini is a goddess. So, the first obvious question in the title of the first chapter of your book is, “What is kundalini?” So, let’s get into that for a while before we unravel it anymore.
Bonnie: Well, the way that I look at kundalini now at this point, is that it’s the life force. The way the yogis have described it in the science of yoga is that when the infant is conceived, this life force happens and causes the movement of the fetus to be growing into a child. And when the energy field is complete, the residual energy coils at the base of the spine, they say three and a half times, and holds the energy field in stasis until we die. And then when we die, the energy unravels and it leaves the body. I think that’s one reason and it’s a good model, I can’t say who can say for sure that these things are absolute truth, but it’s a model that seems to work well to look at it that way. And so, yoga practices have been designed and breathing practices and I believe also in the Chinese system in Shagun, they’ve been designed to activate and awaken this sleeping energy that unravels and then moves through the body and creates many, many changes. It starts to transform the personal identifications and the patterns in the body. And the yogis say that there’s a variety of brain centers that we never use. We know we use very small part of the brain and that sometimes the energy awakens different parts of the brain and that is the reason for some of the siddhis and some of the phenomena that people experience. It’s just this energy is moving through, it’s deconstructing the old person and creating new possibilities, opening one up to a more natural, unidentified relationship with life. But it can feel like you’re going from 110 to 220 wiring and it can be real scary. And if the mind gets re-locked-in, or the body tends to contract and try to hold against it, it will become more difficult to deal with. Also, if there is a lot of trauma in the history, I’ve found that that makes it much more difficult because what’s trying to get released is the old trauma, repressed memories, old physical contractions, old illnesses and blocked spaces. So, you’re going to have a lot more, if there’s been a lot of alcohol use or drug use, there can be a lot more intense phenomena, it can be much more uncomfortable as it’s trying to clear out all of those things.
Rick: So, it could be argued that all forms of life have a life force, cats and dogs and whatnot. So do cats and dogs have a kundalini also that’s coiled at the base of their spine?
Bonnie: I would say that anything that’s alive has that, this is just a word for the core life force, you know everything is, but you know it doesn’t awaken evidently as far as we know. Anyway, in animals there’s no way to know that, but they’re not appearing to act as if it’s awakened. It’s also the energetic aspect of consciousness where we are vibrational beings. Everything that’s alive is a set of molecular structures, so it’s just the reorganizing of those structures when kundalini awakens and the rest when we’re not looking at it as the awakening, we can say that regular ordinary quality of this life force we call prana or chi, some western scientists are calling it bioenergy, it’s just the energy field.
Rick: There’s a little bit of an impractical question, but some people, even on the show I’ve had debates with people about whether or not animals can get enlightened and you know some say they can, some say they can’t. I tend to feel like the human nervous system is sophisticated and complex enough to provide that possibility, whereas animal nervous systems are not, but I know other people say supposedly Ramana Maharshi’s cow was enlightened and in the Vedic literature there are stories of bears and monkeys and crows and whatnot that were supposedly enlightened in those bodies. I don’t know if you have any comment on that whatsoever, but the question about whether every kundalini is kind of a basic force in all nervous systems, but probably in the vast majority of cases only awakens in a human nervous system. I guess that would be the question.
Bonnie: Well of course, there’s no way to know that, but I would think that many animals live much more in the present moment than we human animals do, and so we could experience that quality of presence in an animal because they’re not thinking. They don’t have all this intellectual, conceptual stuff going on, as far as we know, that we do. If they did they’d look a lot more chaotic.
Rick: They don’t have frontal cortexes and so that actually could be used as an argument in favor of enlightenment being rather unique to human beings. Their brain and nervous system is sophisticated enough to support awareness of universal consciousness, because enlightenment is more than just living in the now, is it not? I mean, my dog lives in the now but she also attacks the lawnmower thinking it’s some kind of enemy or something.
Bonnie: Well, that is the difference, I mean we humans are capable of knowing what we know and putting it into some sort of a framework. That’s what the mind does. But you know, I hesitate even to call humans enlightened, at least as individuals. I’m not sure that we can say that a personality doesn’t get enlightened, a “me” doesn’t get enlightened. What happens is that when everything falls away and there’s only the awareness of being the whole or being part of the whole, part of everything, connected to everything, in that moment there is enlightenment. There is. But as soon as thought comes back into the picture and as soon as we start communicating, we have to use these forms, we have to use our humanness. So, I think that’s why, when the Buddha was asked if he was enlightened he simply said, “I’m awake.” I think awakeness, humans can function as awakeness, but enlightenment is that total loss of this separateness, the separateness, and I don’t think when we go around and we, like I’m talking to you, you and I have to be separate in order to communicate. We may know in some part of us that we aren’t, that the source that has enlivened both of us and everybody else and everything else on the planet is all one, but when we’re communicating, we’re living through these apparent separate forms. And we see each other as separate apparent beings, not looking just alike, not dissolving. Enlightened people don’t go around not seeing anything.
Rick: Right, yeah, Vedanta has this phrase “lesh avidya” which means faint remains of ignorance and it’s said to be necessary in order to live life. I mean without some recognition or acknowledgement of duality you couldn’t eat or walk through the door or do anything, it would just be homogenous consciousness with no differentiation or experience. But if we want to use words meaningfully then the word enlightenment is generally assigned to people who have sort of risen to or awakened to a unified state in a permanent manner whether or not they’re speaking. Ramana Maharshi, he didn’t sit there enlightened and all of a sudden, he answers a question and loses it. He had integrated the capacity to interact and perceive and read the newspaper and listen to the radio, which were things he liked to do while yet residing in pure awareness, wouldn’t you say?
Bonnie: I’m not sure. I would say that there are many different ways that people define enlightenment, look at it, and it’s really important if somebody says, what is enlightenment. It’s valuable to say how would you define it.
Rick: Yeah, well that’s kind of what we’re trying to do here you know.
Bonnie: I think that Ramana, enlightenment is there and you can see in him, for example, when he is responding to a question or, this is true for many teachers, when it comes from a spontaneous place, it’s not analytic. It’s not thinking through the mind and foraging through all the things you’ve learned, it’s more of an intuitive gift, in a way, that is enlightened communication. I’m not sure when you’re reading the newspaper you’re enlightened, you’re just enjoying being human. I think we have these human forms and after realization, the next opportunity is to come back into life and say ‘I don’t know how long I’m going to have this body but let’s enjoy it, let’s see what it has to experience, what it has yet to experience.’ I don’t see awakening as being a need to be permanently feeling not in the world because the world is part of it.
Rick: Yeah, no I wouldn’t suggest that, I wasn’t implying that. But I’m suggesting, just for the sake of clarification of our terms, that enlightenment is a valid word to use, and we need to define it obviously if we’re going to use it. But that Joe Schmo reading the newspaper and Ramana Maharshi reading the newspaper are two different situations and that something has awakened or developed or however you want to describe it in someone like him, Ramana, that the average person doesn’t experience and regardless of what he’s doing, reading the newspaper, going to the bathroom or whatever, there’s a kind of a continuum of presence, of awareness, of vastness, of unboundedness or whatever that is not disrupted by or incompatible with these relative experiences.
Bonnie: I think what changes profoundly is the perception, is that for someone like that reading the newspaper or watching the news or whatever, the way of perceiving it and putting it into…just the way of grokking it, we could say, is different because it’s not filtering through the old conditioned mental patterns. And you’re not putting it into a right-wrong, this ‘let’s judge,’ the judging quality is usually dissolved and there’s more compassion, there’s more sense of seeing the whole picture rather than the normal reactive patterns that one might have who hasn’t seen a bigger perspective of humanity.
Rick: Yeah, and we have to ask ourselves why and your last phrase kind of nailed it, a bigger perspective, but not merely through sort of getting around and becoming exposed to different cultures or something, but rather by awakening to that which engulfs and incorporates the whole universe. That which contains, you know Brahman is said to be the eater of everything, it contains, it’s the totality which contains everything and the knower of Brahman becomes Brahman. So, someone like Ramana, you know words are tricky, but having attained the status of totality, then within that totality, anything can be done. And he obviously was a rather reclusive type, but a more worldly type could be running a business or something and yet still, within that greater wholeness that’s not disrupted by whatever parts may be churning around within one’s experience.
Bonnie: Mm-hmm, yeah it’s a different way of moving in the world, isn’t it? It’s like there’s a natural, the natural state moves in the world with compassion and openness and relatedness that’s not separating, that’s more this is, oh and this too is mine, this too is what I am or what is, this too is another form of this mysterious source that is manifesting everywhere.
Rick: Okay back to kundalini. So, you referred to Kundalini as a goddess, in Indian thinking anyway, and it’s an interesting reference, because if you just think of it as energy, I mean you can get energy from drinking a Red Bull or a cup of coffee or something. But what we’re suggesting here and what so many of the points in your book illustrate, is that this is not just some kind of raw random energy, but it has an intelligence to it and that is kind of beyond our human comprehension but that knows better than we do what needs to take place and what needs to be worked out and so on. So perhaps you could speak a bit to the intelligent nature of kundalini.
Bonnie: Well, I’ve always seen kundalini as the energy of consciousness, it’s the way that, you could think of it as everything in the subtle body. Kundalini is part of the subtle body and the subtle body is everything in you that’s invisible. So, it’s the movement of all the senses, the thoughts, the emotions, everything is in the subtle field. And the subtle field is a movement that infuses us as energy and as consciousness. And obviously when the body dies it leaves. That’s what’s missing is the energy and consciousness is gone from it and it goes, just goes back to basic elements. So, this energy of consciousness, if you think of it as something that actually formed you from a fetus into a child, from whatever it began, that little speck that began into a full formed body, you have to say you didn’t do that yourself. Something else created that dynamic, infused that potential and made you into what you came out to be. And so that consciousness and that energy, they’re the suchness of life, they’re the core of human form, the core of what makes the appearance of form, what makes this energy body and this awareness that comes from us be able to infuse. They’re what infuses these apparent physical forms so that it can live as form. So that the vastness can bring itself down into the possibility of living as form. That’s kind of how I’ve come to see it.
Rick: So why do you think, in the average person, kundalini is kind of dormant, coiled three-and-a-half times as you say. Presumably by the definition you just gave, the energy that animates us, that animates all eight billion of us is some little bit of that kundalini energy, just doing its thing. But why do you think in the vast majority of people, the majority of the kundalini energy is dormant and doesn’t awaken?
Bonnie: Well from a spiritual perspective I can’t answer that, I mean that’s part of the mystery of life. From a practical perspective, I can say that we humans have, beginning in the beginning of time, had very strong physical needs and then emotional needs and psychological needs and then we developed perspectives in which we became very centered on our personal life. And that’s just a huge distraction from knowing the truth of what we are, so it’s just kind of a way of life. We are evidently meant to be human and at least that’s what appears to be, is these eight billion humans are being humans. Why the universe is creating that, we could only make wild speculations and concepts about, which we have done in many, many ways, but the essence of simply the being of our presence, of our potential to be in touch with the deeper truths is there in everybody. But we’re just terribly preoccupied with other things and the mind has become stronger and stronger and then the culture comes up with belief structures about how things are and it’s very hard to break out of that. That’s our conditioning, it’s our DNA, it’s our conditioning. It isn’t easy to let go of that, even when people are really seeking spiritually, they still run into huge barriers about letting go of all of those beliefs and structures and concepts. It feels like a betrayal of some part of themselves for many people and it’s very scary. Like I won’t exist, I won’t fit in. It’s just, I call it at one point, I think I said this in one of my books, it’s an argument between the Self with the big S and the small self. And the small self has been taught to be dominant and everybody else is dominant from that place, so it’s very hard to consider letting go of it.
Rick: Would another way of phrasing it be that, if we think of spiritual development as a progressive thing along a scale from very rudimentary levels to very advanced levels, that the majority of humanity is just at a relatively rudimentary level compared to what’s possible and that it would not be appropriate or desirable for kundalini to be significantly awakened in such people. I don’t mean to put anybody down here, I’m just trying to describe what may be the reality, and that theoretically there could be a spiritually advanced society in which fully awakened kundalini was the norm, but ours does not happen to be one. And related to that question, are you seeing a sort of an epidemic of awakening taking place with all the people with whom you interact? Do you think that, if we had had the means of communication 75 years ago that we have today, would we have seen as many people as we now do having kundalini awakenings and spiritual awakenings and all that? Are we kind of shifting as a species into a more mature mode of functioning spiritually?
Bonnie: Well, I won’t deny there’s people that have that perspective certainly, but I don’t think we can really know. Also, I think we shouldn’t emphasize that everybody needs to awaken kundalini. I think that, more importantly is, where real change happens is in a shifting of consciousness. And that can happen with very little kundalini activity. Some people are just very, very awake, very aware, and they have had energetic phenomena, but I think too often people get really focused on ‘let’s wake up this kundalini energy’ and they’re expecting a new kind of power or capacity or some amazing thing, great siddhis, and that can happen. It happens in some people, but what’s more important, I think, for the world, is a shifting of consciousness, of a recognition of the unitive quality that we’ve all come from this one source. And we’re all obligated to …not obligated, but there’s a potential for us to see that in one another and that this source loves diversity. It’s obvious it must love diversity because, look at it, there’s billions of different kinds of bugs and every single life is different in how it’s lived and expressed and what particular qualities it brings forth. So, what’s needed is more of a respect for this potentiality of wholeness in its diversity, for this vastness in its diversity. And then, in that process of seeking oneness or understanding or truth or, some people would call it God, then often the kundalini energy will awaken, because the body needs to go through some changes for that to be seen and for it to be embodied and so very often that happens. It’s hard to say whether there haven’t been … certainly in ancient India they feel like the ancient Rishis were awakened beings who came up with a lot of the teachings that are in the scriptures that are so beautiful. So, we can’t say that this is a new phenomenon. You know possibly Moses was awake and that’s what led him to bring about such change in his culture at the time. So, I don’t know, it’s hard to say because the media makes everything so much more available today. And also, we’re more open as a society where we’re allowed to talk about these things, where thousands of people were burned as witches just a few hundred years ago if they even talked about healing let alone having a perspective of the divine that wasn’t in line with what the church wanted them to say.
Rick: Yeah, someone named Per, I think it’s a Dutch name, sent in a question along the lines of what we’re just discussing. He said, “What’s the typical relationship between the kundalini process and an awakening process? It seems that there can be a kundalini process without much of an awakening and awakening without much of a kundalini process and sometimes they seem to go together as well.” You know you were talking a minute ago about people who might have done a lot of drugs or alcohol or something having a rougher ride with kundalini than people who haven’t done such things and in your book you talk about how various spiritual traditions often have a lot of preparatory phases that one goes through so that the whole process of awakening will be relatively smooth. And so that one won’t sort of be awakened in one respect but way underdeveloped in others. I’m just wondering, you implied just now that awakening doesn’t necessarily involve a Kundalini process but could it be that awakening of kundalini is part and parcel of awakening or enlightenment as we’re describing it, but in some cases it happens so smoothly that it’s hardly noticed as such. And that, in other people all hell breaks loose as they go through all kinds of difficult transformations.
Bonnie: You’re right, there’s a tremendous range of how it’s experienced and this is recognized in the literature too. It can be very gentle and the gentle unraveling and opening. It can be as ‘intense as a geyser’ they say in the literature and it can be anywhere in between. And there’s a few people that are probably born with it awakened. Or in the trauma of being birthed it’s activated and so it’s always been there so they don’t notice much difference through their life. And these tend to be people that are actually appear to be very conscious and very present too. They don’t go through as much radical change as the rest of us do, that have it happen midlife or whatever.
Rick: Okay, so looking down your book here, you have a lot of very interesting little anecdotes from people in your book, who describe the experiences they went through. Let me just skim over, let me just read you the subtitles of the first chapter and see if you have any comments on them and then we’ll go into the second chapter in which we start to get into particular experiences. But I’ll just read these and see if you want to comment on any of them. I’ll read them all and then you can comment. “The symbolism of kundalini, kundalini as consciousness, initial awakenings, triggers for awakening and the role of kundalini in mystical experience.” You want to talk about any of that before we go on? It’s a lot I know.
Bonnie: Well I’ll say a little bit just for your listeners about the things that might trigger an awakening. Certainly spiritual practices can vary, especially if there’s a great devotion or a great intensity about wanting the truth. The most useful thing is to want truth more than you want anything else. But for some people it’s a seeking of God, is there a God, it’s questioning and longing to know. For others it’s following things like Ramana’s teachings: What am I really? What is this human experience really? For some it happens in an accident, they might have been in an automobile accident or they might have been traumatized, had people who were being beaten who had an activation of it. It seems like sometimes hitting the spine really hard. I’ve had people who fell off a horse and one woman who hit her spine really hard and she had no spiritual orientation at all before that and all of a sudden was having an amazing range of alternate experiences. I’ve had people who just have it happen spontaneously. One of the people in my first book was a woman who, as a young nurse, was just laying in bed one night and she felt like her bed had been electrified. And after that, those feelings would run over her. She was walking across campus, she’d have to lay down on the ground, so she had no real reason. So, there’s just many different ways that this can happen. The yogis would say that deep devotion can activate it. I’ve had people that were nuns or priests who have talked to me about it. Sometimes being in contact, particularly sexually, with somebody who has very active energy will trigger it in you. None of these things necessarily will. It seems like there has to be a ripeness, and you may or may not be aware of that ripeness, but there has to be an availability somewhere in the energy field for that to happen. Energy practices like breath work, those and Shagun or Tai Chi, well I don’t know about Tai Chi, but Shagun, various kinds of martial arts sometimes trigger an awakening. Sometimes these don’t go anywhere spiritually, because the person’s context has associated it with power or with health, just being more radiantly healthy, so that the ego takes it over and uses it in a constructive way perhaps or even a destructive way, if they happen to be into black magic and that kind of thing. So, it doesn’t necessarily lead to the shifting of consciousness and the opening of the heart and all the other things that are needed for spiritual awakening to happen and to be lived.
Rick: Near-death experience would be another one, wouldn’t it?
Bonnie: Absolutely, yeah. And you know that’s why I kind of like that kundalini model of the yogis, when they say how it’s coiled at the base of the spine and holds the system in stasis. Because then it makes a lot of sense why for some people who are in a near- death experience it would start to awaken and unravel. Then afterwards they are, in addition to whatever injuries they’ve sustained, they’ve got to deal with all the phenomena that arises. And that can be very confusing because they have no idea why it’s there, or they don’t have a spiritual orientation often, so it takes a lot of catch-up to figure out whether it’s part of an illness or it’s part of a transformation.
Rick: Yeah, one thing that came to mind, I’m sure your book talks about this later on, we’ll run through it, but I know I’ve been aware of people who made awakening the kundalini a project, a priority, and awakened it perhaps prematurely. They forced it in some way, maybe through a lot of intense breathing practices or something, and got themselves into trouble. So maybe, would we agree that the purpose of this interview is not to inspire people to awaken their kundalini come hell or high water, but we’re trying to describe a phenomenon that very often accompanies spiritual awakening. But there has to be a more holistic package of development in the context of which kundalini awakening is going to be part. But if you drive just on that, you might be putting the cart before the horse, to throw in several metaphors in one sentence.
Bonnie: I agree though, I found that a lot of people who have really great difficulties with it are not only working very intensely but they might be doing multiple things. So, they might be doing shamanic practices one weekend and energy work of some other sort during the week and five hours of meditation a day and fasting and they’re just throwing everything at this, as if the awakening of the energy was the focus and the function and what they wanted.
Rick: Often without any adequate guidance.
Bonnie: Yeah, often, everything’s available today. I mean I run into a lot of people who have had really traumatic interject processes following things on the internet and so everything’s available. It used to be all this stuff was secret, you didn’t have availability unless you were prepared. But nowadays, and in addition to doing all those things, they may be out getting drunk once a week or doing something else that’s not good for the body, that the toxins are building up at the same time they’re doing a practice that’s supposed to release toxins. So, they can have very chaotic, difficult, painful openings if that’s what’s going on. And I don’t really teach people how to awaken kundalini. I work more with the repair work, with the people who are having difficulties, but if people ask me, I say just do a very sincere and deep meditation practice, just the more you long for truth and you go within your deeper self for that, the closer you’re going to come to awakening. And then, if kundalini is supposed to activate, it will. And the other thing people can do is a gentle yoga practice or Shagun practice, just one thing at a moderate way. The Buddha liked to talk about moderation. He discovered that, after many years, moderation might be a good idea. So, I think that some kind of body work is useful for people who tend to be very contracted, who have a lot of resistance in their body, who are a little bit rigid. That can be very helpful in helping them open up. It was extremely helpful for me. In my own process, I was doing some breath work and opening up that way, but somebody that’s a little, already quite open or who’s had a lot of abuse in their history, that can be very traumatic. You know, it’s so important to understand yourself and what your genuine needs are and to listen to your body and not to push through, the way we’re taught in our culture to push through everything. It’s so important to really listen to what’s the authentic movement for me right now and what would it mean to really discover truth. And that’s going to come, it’s going to come below the neck, it’s not going to come from an intellectual pursuit. You might use the intellect until you get so frustrated. You can’t find the answer and something breaks open. But it’s going to come from resting in the heart and in the presence and in the beingness. And then, when / if kundalini activates, as you awaken to this pure consciousness process, you can have a really positive relationship with it. One thing that’s been interesting to me is, I studied kundalini for a long time from the yogic model and I really love the yogic model. I love the energy, the meditation practices in yoga. But when I started sitting with Adyashanti, who comes from a Zen Buddhist background, I started to see people who were having awakenings without the energy and then going into an energetic process afterwards. And that’s really unknown, it’s unidentified in the yogic model, because they focus so much on the need to get the body ready and to do it through the body. Yoga came out of a belief that people were so materialistic at that time, that they couldn’t possibly wake up any other way. They had to do it through the body and so they developed all these physical tools and the breathing practices and all of that in order to help people become available to these shifts in consciousness. But the Buddhist model is really quite different, it really kind of downplays the energy, doesn’t make a big deal out of it if it happens, and focuses more on what are ways to shift consciousness so somebody sees the truth. And in advaita to some degree that’s what advaita does, too. It relies more on that than the earlier yogic traditions. Well, it’s an ancient tradition, but it got revived by Ramana as a shift of consciousness. So, what I’ve learned is that if somebody can just wake up, maybe they’re in a difficult kundalini process. If the consciousness, if you can find a way to shift consciousness so they recognize the truth of their true nature, the whole kundalini process settles down. It’s still there, it’ll have phenomena, but it just becomes a kind of a background, it’s not so stressful.
Rick: Well, you know a couple thoughts are triggered by what you said, one is ‘safety first’ might be a good motto to live by. Not that one wants to be so conservative that you don’t have any kind of intensity to your practice, but not to be such a fanatic that you end up blowing your fuses, that’s one thing. The other thing is that your comment about yoga, I think perhaps the fundamental understanding of practices like that is that the body is an instrument which we use as a tool of exploration and through which we awaken. You can’t awaken without a body, you need one, and as you said earlier, if you’re filling it full of toxins, it’s not going to be a very effective tool. So, ways of purifying the body so that it can more effectively register subtle experiences and that which goes beyond the subtle would be beneficial. And then a question just came in, but I want you to be able to comment on what I just said before I ask that.
Bonnie: I’m not sure what your question is.
Rick: Oh well I haven’t asked the question yet, I’m just commenting on what you said and I wondered if you had any feedback on what I just said about firstly the safety issue.
Bonnie: Oh, being safe, yes.
Rick: And you as a therapist probably have had many situations where you’ve had to help people put a lid on it. And then the issue about the physiology as an instrument for awakening, it’s as if you have a radio and you pull a few tubes out or something. It’s not going to work very well, you want the radio to be nicely tuned up and then it gets a clear signal.
Bonnie: I really agree that if this can be, not only more safe, but more fulfilling, it can move more into bliss when there’s a positive relationship with the body. And so many people that are spiritual seekers have a difficult relationship with life, with the body, in a way. They’re trying to escape life and also a lot of them take on practices that are extreme, thinking that that’s going to be their way out. But the more you respect this as a temple, as the vehicle through which awakening can happen, then you want to make it as balanced as you can. You might want to really question practices that look extreme. So that’s how you would make it more safe and more fluid. Also, I often recommend, when people have trauma in their history, particularly sexual trauma or physical abuse, it’s so helpful if they have therapy before they go through this process. Because everything that’s repressed is going to arise. And if you haven’t learned through therapy to witness those difficult parts, wounded parts of yourself and do some healing, it’s much harder to do when you’re in the throes of a kundalini process. So, if that’s in somebody’s history and they tell me they never really worked with it and now it’s coming up, I often tell them to find a therapist that’s really skilled in working with those kinds of issues. That therapist doesn’t really need to understand kundalini. They just need to help you learn to find the witnessing to that and to release what’s there and to find a witnessing and a supportive part of yourself to hold yourself through it. So, it’s not just the making it safe through how you treat the body physically, but also psychologically. If there’s self-hatred and self-judgment, that needs to be resolved. You’re not going to wake up if you’re carrying those kinds of beliefs about yourself. You have to really begin to question a lot of your assumptions about yourself and it helps to do that. It helped people who have done therapy in their earlier years, it’s very helpful.
Rick: Good, yeah, good advice. Let me read a question that came in from one of the live viewers. “While doing a TM practice and being barely aware of my body, I suddenly had an explosion of energy at the bottom of my spine. The energy rose about halfway up my spine and was very intense. It was kind of accompanied by bits of my life flashing through my mind and somehow reconfiguring. Once the energy reached about halfway up my spine, it stopped and subsided. Over the next few days, perhaps a couple of weeks, I had back pain that gradually went. This happened about eight or nine months ago. I did have other experiences of very strong energies previous to this while asleep, but this was the only time it happened while awake. And it was the only time it fitted the traditional description happening from the bottom of the spine. I’m kind of disappointed that these experiences are not happening now and the energy did not rise right up to the top of my body, so it seems like the kundalini did not awaken correctly in me. Do you have any advice on this?”
Bonnie: Yes, it’s very common that kundalini activates but doesn’t go all the way through the body. And in fact, if it happens all the way through the body, it can be really…well I remember Adyashanti talking about that. When it went all the way through his body he really thought it was going to kill him, so it can be very, very traumatic. He decided to let go and if it was going to kill him that was fine and then it transformed. So it’s most common for the energy to activate. It might move into the sexual chakras, that’s a real problem because then one is extremely charged sexually. It might move into the belly, into the middle of the body where it starts working. There’s a transition between the chakras right at the center of the body, the lower chakras and the higher chakras. So, it sounds like he had an awakening but, as is common, it’s not complete, it’s incomplete. And he just needs to stay in spiritual practices. I would probably recommend that he focus more on the heart in his spiritual practice, because that’s probably the next movement. Very often kundalini just goes up one chakra at a time, so it moves, it’ll open up one and move to the next, move to the next. That’s not wrong, it’s not the wrong channel, it’s just that it’s doing it in a more gradual way, it’s taking it easy on you. So, I would say put focus on a heart opening kind of spiritual practice.
Rick: There is an advanced technique in the TM world that does involve focusing on the heart, actually. And this leads to a question which is that, it seems to me, both from my intellectual understanding and my own experience, that kundalini doesn’t awaken a hundred percent in this chakra, then a hundred percent in the next chakra, then a hundred percent. It can be going on in all seven of them simultaneously or however many there may be and the attention can shift up and down according to what’s going on at any given time, so it’s not entirely sequential, it’s kind of simultaneous, is that right?
Bonnie: Yes, and sometimes people will have a huge heart opening without the rest of it happening yet. Or they’ll feel a downward flow of energy. In the Aurobindo practices they focus on encouraging a downward flow. So, there’s a lot of different ways that different traditions focus. And most people will have, as you say, it’s not like one thing gets completely open and then the next one, it can happen in many different ways. And I think this is because we’re many different people, we all have huge differences in our conditioning, in our practices, in our personality styles, in our DNA. There’s differences in how we hold thoughts, in what we believe in. If you look at Ayurveda, there’s a big difference in the way the whole body is constructed chemically. So, everybody has a different kind of experience but I can recognize kundalini usually because it’s like looking at a face, no two faces are alike, but we always recognize that that’s a face and that’s how kundalini is. You get where you can see from the picture that people give you of their interior experiences, that that’s more than likely kundalini awakening. But it might look very different in one person than it does in another. And there’s many different stages, it isn’t something that completes. It’s very rare that it completes in a short period of time, that would be almost unheard of.
Rick: Yeah, it seems that there would have to be a near completion already before it even awoke, in order for it to just zip through all the different levels and be done with them. Seems like there’s going to be a process perhaps lasting decades in which greater and greater purification or enlivenment occurs at different levels.
Bonnie: You know that it’s very true too, that you can have a profound realization of truth and awakening of energy and you might feel completely free for days or weeks or months and then it’ll suddenly shut down. It appears like it’s shutting down, because deeper qualities of unfinished business arise, deeper patterns. And one of the things that Adya has said that I really like is that, after a while all the parts of you that are not yet awake want to come to the surface so they can wake up too, and that’s how it looks. And so, one of the things I’d like to point out for your listeners is that just because that bliss and openness, if you’ve experienced it, have gone away doesn’t mean you did anything wrong, that it’s a natural part of the process for the humanness to return in some form or another, some of the old patterns and beliefs. And that there’s an opportunity there to wake up something else within you or for something else in you to sort of percolate until it resolves itself, too. So, it’s a very long coming and going process for most people.
Rick: And I think you make points in both of your books that caution people against becoming discouraged if they’re having some blissful thing and then it goes away. And I’ve seen people who, I can think of one person who years ago, on these early courses in the 70s, was having marvelous experiences getting up in the microphone talking about her experiences, and a few years ago I saw her having gotten arrested for marijuana. She’s probably my age, but a person can kind of… (lose it), if such experiences are lost. So yeah, here’s a good point we can talk about, and that is that, is enlightenment or awakening a flashy blissful experience, or is it something more enduring than that which isn’t necessarily flashy at all? And therefore, let’s talk about the phenomenon of yearning for, or clinging to flashy experiences.
Bonnie: Well, you’ve probably heard many people say enlightenment is not an experience, or awakening is not an experience, and my sense of it is that awakening is the knowing in your cellular being that you are not the character you thought you were, that you are this pure consciousness that has created everything, something like that. You know, I can’t put it into words. Okay, so if that should happen to somebody, that that’s known, really known in your cells, not in your head, it doesn’t help much to just have it in your head, then that doesn’t go away, you know, it’s kind of like knowing I’m a man or a woman. You know, once you figure that out you don’t have to keep reminding yourself, it’s just sort of there if you sit back and you wonder, that’s the form you happen to have at this time. It might not be either one, but…
Rick: But it’s not an intellectual knowing, because intellectual knowing is, if I took my high school SAT test now I’d do a lot worse on the math section than I did, back in 1968 or whatever. So you’re talking about something much more visceral or cellular as you say, that you’re not going to forget as you might forget how to do algebra.
Bonnie: That’s right, and the other aspect of it is that when you’re feeling it and it becomes more accessible to you to kind of fall back into that, there’s tremendous peace and tremendous acceptance of what is in the world, there’s no more resistance. One of the things you could say is there’s no more division and yet then at times you know your personality is going to come to the forefront and be upset at something going on in the news or the fact that somebody you love has gotten ill, those things will happen. But there’s always the knowing underneath that some part of you, irrational as it sounds, is saying it’ll all be okay. So it just becomes a new way again of perceiving or being in the world. A lot of times people who have mystical experiences and very dramatic beautiful experiences, in a way they’re in that space of awakening for a few moments. They’ve let go of themselves and that’s what made them available to this experience, and then they go into this high experience and because the experience is so dramatic, they miss the fact that there was awakening. I think of it sometimes like a breezeway, it’s like the awakeness is this part of us that’s capable of falling into our humanness or falling into this ecstatic or vast or wildly informative wisdom or whatever we get from our mystical experiences. But the awakening is this breezeway in between, in which everything is still, especially everything in you. Everything you believe you are is totally irrelevant, it’s not important, there’s just presence. And once in a while you might fall into an ecstatic mystical experience. Some people are more inclined to that than others. Some people are awake and they don’t have mystical experiences, it frustrates them a little bit maybe, but other people are much more …it’s like those brain centers are open and they’re much more available off and on, but any experience is going to pass. And one of the biggest problems of spiritual seekers is, they’ll have these wonderful experiences and they think that enlightenment has to do with being in that state all the time, and that’s just not true. So, they keep searching for more experiences and that keeps the spiritual ego going, so it prevents them from coming into this resting place that’s more peaceful and more accepting and not always so blissful, but not difficult either. In that place there’s no more longing for bliss, it doesn’t matter, it’s nice if it shows up but you’re not attached to it anymore.
Rick: Yeah, just to play devil’s advocate a little bit and also to not make enlightenment or awakening sound like no big deal, I would suggest that it is generally accompanied by a profound sense of contentment, wellbeing, kind of a ‘mother is at home’ kind of feeling you might say. Just a really nice way to go through your day and through your life, a very smooth, harmonious way of functioning. I mean obviously, there can be disruptions and exceptions and whatnot, but this does tend to characterize the experience of people who are solidly awakened.
Bonnie: I agree completely, it’s because there’s no, what Freud would have called the super ego, there’s no part of you that’s telling you, ‘you should be doing things differently, there’s something wrong with you, there’s something wrong with someone else,’ blah blah blah. That part of the mind is gone, if it shows up, you just kind of say, ‘How silly that is.’ You’re not driven anymore by the conditioning that’s been in your head telling you how you ought to be and should be and could be, it’s just there, present, being. And there’s great joy in that if you allow yourself, it’s great wonder, mystery, joy, peace.
Rick: There’s also something intrinsically desirable about pure consciousness. You keep using the word peace and you’ve thrown in joy a few times. There’s a verse in the Vedas, “Contact with Brahman is infinite joy,” and we’ve heard the phrase “sat chit ananda.” So, you know joy, happiness, bliss, peace, shanti, all these are said to be qualities or characteristics either of pure consciousness or of the experience of living established in it. So again I’m just kind of emphasizing these points because we don’t want to make it sound like no big deal, because it is a big deal, I mean it’s a very profound way in which a person can live and very fulfilling.
Bonnie: Absolutely. There’s tremendous, what I found in people who have touched that place, it’s just tremendous gratitude. Incredible, it’s wonder and gratitude that that’s available to you, that that’s what you really are. It’s awesome, you know it’s like you can’t even put it into language.
Rick: Yeah, good. So, coming back to your book and the chapter entitled Kundalini Phenomena and you list seven categories of phenomena. Let me know how much you’d like to go through these but it might be interesting to touch upon them each briefly. One is pranic activity or kriyas.
Bonnie: So that’s simply the energetic releases when your body starts shaking or jerking or some people might start doing mudras, which are hand movements, or they might wake up at night and they’re doing yoga postures and they never even learned yoga. So, these are all … kriya means activity, they’re just activities that are coming through the subtle field that are part of the process of releasing and making changes in the energetic structure.
Rick: Would you say fast breathing or, you know, there’s a kind of pranayama that’s like … that kind of thing can start happening spontaneously.
Bonnie: Yes, that’s common. That happens a lot in meditation too, even when kundalini is not awakened and yeah it’s just that prana has to do with the breath, it’s your breath. So, they are closely linked with these kriyas and very often there are some people who even say they stop breathing for a while. I’ve heard people say they really were in a panic because their breath stopped for a long time. But it’s really just part of that whole restructuring that’s going on in the energetic field.
Rick: Yep. Other involuntary energy phenomena or does what you said cover it?
Bonnie: Well one of the things people often talk about is huge heat, big rushes of heat or sometimes there’ll be heat and then cold afterwards. If you’ve been running a whole lot of energy sometimes the body gets really cold later. There also can be just strange movements of the hands or the feet or like you were describing with your neck when you were driving your ice cream truck. That’s an involuntary movement. So those are some of the kind.
Rick: I used to have this funny thing, it hasn’t happened much in recent years but it used to happen like very occasionally but almost, maybe once a year or something, where I’d be just doing whatever, riding in the car and all of a sudden, I’d feel like someone stuck a pin in one side of my back and it was like, “Ahhh,” but it was nice at the same time. There was something that kind of woke up in me.
Rick: Yeah, and that would go away and happen a year later again.
Bonnie: Yeah, that’s interesting.
Rick: It wasn’t any kind of injury or anything, it was just this weird little energy thing.
Bonnie: A lot of people have difficult energies in their heads. They might feel like bugs are crawling on them or they’re itching or there’s a vibration or an inner sound, and so those are other kinds of phenomena that might arise that shock people because they don’t know what to do with it, they don’t know what it belongs to, they don’t recognize it as part of a spiritual process.
Rick: There could be pleasant stuff in the head too, like bliss kind of coming, pouring down like honey over the scalp and things.
Bonnie: That’s true.
Rick: Physiological problems, another subtitle here.
Bonnie: What it seems to me, it’s really interesting because I’ve seen two opposite responses. Some people have written to me and claimed they were cured of something. One person said they were cured of diabetes. Another one, I don’t remember, but once in a while somebody will say, “Oh all this problem, all my back problem went away. I had this terrible back problem, it’s gone.” And other people, they develop more physical difficulties. My sense is that if there’s an area of your body that’s vulnerable, either that’s a part of you that’s always had some difficulties, maybe digestion or the throat, or there’s a part of you that has had a serious injury, you’re more likely to feel activity intensifying around that area and because it’s already vulnerable it may be more painful. So, I think that sometimes when there’s a lot of pain it’s the intention or the potential of the energy to fix it, but it can be really difficult going through it while it’s working in that area. There was something else I wanted to say.
Rick: Let me just jog your memory. Another physical difficulty I find, I have observed to be quite common, is insomnia. You know sometimes people get really bad insomnia when they have a lot of kundalini stuff going on.
Bonnie: Let me back up, because I just remembered what I wanted to say was, a lot of times if you’re running a huge amount of energy, there can be hormonal imbalances. So people might develop thyroid problems or other kinds of hormonal difficulties, so it’s really useful to see a doctor if that’s happening because you still need to balance those hormones, you can’t just ignore the problem and expect kundalini to fix it.
Rick: Yeah, and on that note before you get to insomnia, does kundalini burn up a lot of nutrients in the body or something so that it might be good to eat certain foods that are rich in certain qualities or take certain herbs or anything like that?
Bonnie: Well sometimes I recommend people get an Ayurvedic consultation because Ayurveda is one of the few systems in which very often they recognize what kundalini is and Ayurveda is about balancing your energies for your body type. So, if they know that you’re out of balance, they can recognize you’re out of balance in some way, they can recommend a diet and certain foods that will help you come back into balance. So that’s a good thing to do if you’re having a lot of difficulties in this process. It’s also useful to really listen to yourself, like I said. I’ve had people get an intuitive hit on something they really need that really helps them a lot when they follow it. Most people do give up alcohol or at least part of the time and most people, or a lot of people feel like they can’t eat meat anymore, especially red meat. Sometimes they need protein because they’re not getting enough. So sometimes I suggest if you’re doing that, if you’re on a low protein diet to drink a protein drink in the morning, to use protein powder and that can make you feel stronger and more healthy, in general, not feel so exhausted.
Rick: I’ve had other people tell me though, that, after having been a vegetarian, they started eating meat because they felt like they needed the grounding quality of it. But who knows, maybe there’s some non-meat alternatives they could have done, I don’t know.
Bonnie: Well, I don’t see that it’s a problem to eat meat. I don’t see that you should not, there’s no should in this. Again, it’s following your own interior intuition, but I know, I remember one man I worked with who actually came out of TM, who was having a lot of difficulties and he would, every once in a while, just go and have a hamburger and that would ground him. But he didn’t eat meat regularly. So, we have to find our way through this and the more you can tune it into yourself about what you really need, the more you’re really learning that autonomy and the inner authority that will serve you throughout the whole process.
Rick: Well Maharishi himself, who was a vegetarian and generally advocated vegetarianism, would sometimes recommend that somebody eat meat or even smoke a cigar or something if they really needed grounding.
Bonnie: Yeah, that’s true and I’ll come back to insomnia, but in terms of grounding, I may as well mention there are several other things that are very helpful. Hugging trees, walking barefoot in sand or rivers, baking bread where you’re kneading the bread, you’re using your hands, you’re coming into relationship with material things in that way. Listening to intense music and dancing like a lion, like an African dance or something, things that get you really connected to earth energies can help you ground in this process.
Rick: Well, you know in Ayurveda, you’ve mentioned Ayurveda, there are these three doshas, vata, pitta, and kapha, and people can become, as it’s called, very vata deranged, which means air quality just kind of spacey and ungrounded, unbalanced. And so more kapha things which are more earthy as we’ve been discussing are sometimes advocated and as you say an Ayurvedic consultant or doctor could prescribe something specific.
Bonnie: Yeah, I often recommend connecting with somebody that has worked with Dr. Ladd, because he really understands kundalini. When we used to do the kundalini conferences, he would come and speak. So, people that have trained in his system are likely to have some understanding of the kundalini process, which helps.
Rick: My brother-in-law is actually an Ayurvedic consultant too, he’s quite knowledgeable. Paul Morehead is his name. Anyway, so insomnia, let’s talk about insomnia.
Bonnie: Oh, insomnia is a hard one. You know, I don’t have an easy answer for that. It seems like the energy becomes more active when we become more relaxed. So, if you’re trying to go to sleep or you’re getting a massage or you’re meditating, when you’re in those kind of quiet places is very often when the energy gets more active. I tell people that if they’re not sleeping at night, they need to find a way to get caught up on their sleep, because the thing that gets people in the most trouble is if they don’t sleep for two or three nights. They start to become very fragmented mentally and it can really look like mental illness. They can end up with somebody putting them in a hospital because they’re not being rational in how they communicate or anything else. And so even if you have to, use, as I sometimes use a sleeping melatonin mix that’s called tranquil sleep. It’s got something else with it, and people often don’t know you have to take melatonin two hours before bedtime. And so, it may be that some of these energies also deplete melatonin, I don’t know, or the other possibility is, if you’re meditating a lot, you may not need as much sleep, especially if you’re going very deep. Certainly, I can’t go to meditation retreats and sleep at all. I end up sitting in my car all night because I don’t want to lay awake in a room with a group of people. So, if I’m meditating a lot and I get very wired I won’t sleep. So, you might try exploring what time of day you need to meditate and also staying away from all electronics for two or three hours before bedtime. They say having a really dark room, and you know, if your body wants to get up and meditate or do something else rather than sleep, try it and see what happens. There’s a lot of tricks to try to overcome insomnia, but it’s a challenge in this process.
Rick: I interviewed a guy a few months ago named Sat Sri, who’s, in my opinion, very highly awakened. He said he doesn’t sleep at all anymore, he doesn’t even have a bed in his room, he just has a chair and he’ll just sit in the chair and maybe go into Samadhi at night for a few hours or something, but he’s completely overcome the need for sleep.
Bonnie: I’ve heard of that in a few people, not people I’ve worked with because most of us Westerners are not going to be able to be in Samadhi for six hours, but I’ve heard of other people like that.
Rick: Okay, let’s see here, so we’ve talked about physiological problems, we’ve touched upon psychological and emotional upheavals, is there anything more you want to say about that?
Bonnie: Sometimes there can be huge movements of emotion that you don’t even know why they’re there, they’re not personally connected. I remember once I went through a period where I had this quality of neediness which wasn’t familiar to me at all. I had no idea what it was, but it went on for two or three days and so I finally, I laid down on a couch and I just surrendered to it. I said, “Okay God, if you need me to experience this I completely accept it, I’ll just feel it.” And I felt like there was a heavy blanket over me, a quilt, and that somebody took it and just rolled it off of me and the energy went away and never came back. So sometimes people go through grief, anger. Irina Tweedie in her book, she speaks at one point of becoming enraged because there’s a mouse in her room and losing all control with her anger. So sometimes these things just move through you, it’s sort of like you have to learn how to stand there and just let those waves of energy move by without trying to psychoanalyze them. They may not belong to you, they may belong to something in the universal collective, they may belong to something in another life, who knows. But it’s sort of like letting it be or they may belong to somebody you were hanging out with that you picked it up. That brings me to another point, a lot of people become really sensitive to other people’s energy, their energy field becomes so open and you really need to pay attention to that. If when you go into a big store you start to feel overwhelmed, don’t go into the stores anymore. Or certain people maybe that you used to go out and drink with or party with and you just feel rotten in that environment now, it’s very hard because these may be people you really care about. But you have to listen to yourself, “Well what do I need?” and your body is going to react, it’s going to tell you where you don’t belong and what isn’t working for you and who’s toxic for you. And a lot of people think “Well, I’m so spiritual, I should love everybody, I should be okay everywhere.” And that isn’t really the truth of what happens, at least through the process. You may reach that point someday, I don’t know, but you have to listen to your own energy and what it’s trying to say is right for you.
Rick: Yeah, most spiritual literature makes actually quite a big fuss about keeping the right company, you know, hanging out with people who are like-minded and on a spiritual path. Not that you don’t go home for Thanksgiving or anything like that, but just that if you’ve been hanging out in bars and you’ve decided to embark on spiritual quests, then maybe you need a new set of friends. Here’s a question that just came in from one of the live listeners, “What do you suggest for people who develop hypersensitivity to sound, light, or smell? It can be quite difficult when living in a city.”
Bonnie: Oh yes, probably you’re going to have to move. The senses can become very acute, that might not be a permanent situation, it’s usually a passage, but your senses can be highly acute. So, I would look for a place that feels really nurturing for you, and it may be a place in the park or in a museum or in a church. Or create a place in your home or your yard that just feels energetically balanced and harmonious. Put something you love to look at in every room of your house.
Rick: One category of stuff we haven’t talked about too much, that can result from kundalini awakenings or that can occur on the spiritual path, is what we might call parapsychological experiences or extrasensory, ESP types of experiences. You want to touch upon that?
Bonnie: I find a certain number of people do experience that, it’s not particularly common, I would say maybe 20% of people. Again, back to the idea that the brain has all these channels or aspects that haven’t been opened, the yogis would say there’s certain aspects of the brain, certain brain centers that are responsible for paranormal or parapsychological experiences. So sometimes those get activated in the kundalini process. And one may experience it for a while and then it goes away or it could be more permanent. But so, some of these experiences might be, well having a vision. That might happen occasionally, or seeing a loved one that’s deceased. Or sometimes people feel like there are entities and they see, well you had someone on your program not too long ago that sees angels and sees the energetics in the body, so that would suggest to me that she has that particular brain center open. Some people are born with that open so you don’t have to activate kundalini to have those capacities. But when you do activate kundalini, you might possibly go through a stage where you do have that happening. A lot of times there’s an intuitive thing that will pop up. One woman was driving her car and going to work and she had something in her head that kept saying “you have to go to your father’s house” and she kept arguing with it and finally she turned around and went to her father’s house and he had just had a stroke. So, she was able to get him to the hospital.
Rick: Yeah, there was a story on the news just the other night similar to that. There was a woman, she was driving along and she suddenly had this voice almost, this urge, she had to go to her home and see what was happening with her husband. And she ignored it for a little while. Finally, it was just so persistent, she went and her husband had been working on his truck and it slipped off the jack and broken seven of his ribs and had him pinned under it. He would have died, you know. She just felt this calling to go there.
Bonnie: Yeah, that happens, it can happen, in some people it just happens. In fact, in most of us it probably happens occasionally, but you just see it a little more consistently in a certain percentage of people that have awakened kundalini. I’ve heard many other stories like, some people can’t deal with electronics. One man told me, if he walked under a streetlight it went out. So, and there’s been work done with NDEs that suggests that sometimes it’s like your electrical wiring is different. And some people that have had NDEs have this experience, have these unusual experiences too. They can’t wear watches, if they’re wearing a watch it dies, their computers won’t work, things like that. I don’t think that’s very common, but I have seen it in a small percentage of people.
Rick: I actually went through a phase where I would come into a room and things would break, but fortunately I was kind of good at fixing them too. So, I’ve been on long courses where real strange phenomenon like glass doors would shatter and people’s watches would break and all kinds of strange things because there’s just so much energy and it was having these weird effects. But I guess maybe should we conclude here that we don’t assume that this stuff is necessarily an essential criterion of spiritual awakening and so again, don’t strive for it, don’t make a big deal of it, you know it may or may not happen.
Bonnie: Right, yeah and it may not last either. So, it may just be that something’s being tweaked for a while energetically and then it passes. And the scriptures suggest don’t get attached to any of these kinds of things because it’ll derail you. It’s another place where the mind can get fascinated and then the opportunity for a full realization of truth doesn’t happen.
Rick: This brings up an interesting question which you may or may not have an opinion on. Someone had sent in a question related to your interview earlier on about physical teachers versus non-physical teachers. I’ve interviewed a number of people who haven’t had a physical teacher but have had sort of teachers on subtle levels. Kristen Kirk was one and there have been others who commune with beings that reside on subtle levels. The Yoga Sutras actually warns against this but there could be exceptions to that warning. Some people have been burned by physical teachers as well, you know sexual abuse and stuff. So, in your experience, in your understanding and perhaps relating all this to Kundalini, how necessary is it to have an actual human teacher versus relying upon subtler sources of wisdom that may reside in the universe and open themselves to our cognition?
Bonnie: Well that’s a big question. I’ve met people who have had encounters with spiritual teachers on another plane and who have been guided and helped a great deal in a crisis with that type of teacher. One friend of mine had an experience when she was young with a teacher who came to her and helped her through a really serious crisis. And she was walking down the street a few weeks later and saw his picture in a window because she didn’t know who he was and he was living, he was in India and so she went to India and became his student. I always felt a great connection with Yogananda but not necessarily with his organization and I’ve met other people that say that too. Many people feel that connection with Ramana. I think that a teacher on this plane is very helpful because they’re more likely to call you on your stuff. Well for me, I will say meeting Adyashanti was extremely important, because he was so ordinary. Because he was the first teacher I had met who really showed me that I could be an ordinary person and awake at the same time. Because I had sat with another dozen gurus and you know Ammaji and Ananda Ma and, not Ananda Ma, but what’s her name?
Rick: Mother Meera.
Bonnie: Mother Meera. And I had met Muktananda and other teachers here and there and I didn’t want to be like any of them. It was like, I mean, I have a very ordinary life.
Rick: You couldn’t be if you wanted to.
Bonnie: Yeah, I mean it’s not me and I’m married and I have kids and grandchildren. I’m not going to dress up that way and be spiritual every minute. That’s just not going to be who I am. And he showed me that life can be full and ordinary and extraordinary at the same time. So, I think the right teacher for you can be a real gift and but so many teachers have been problematic for people and probably caused them a lot of damage because they have used them in ways that were inappropriate.
Rick: That’s one thing I love about Adya.
Bonnie: Just because a being is disembodied doesn’t mean it’s wiser than you and that’s something to keep in mind too.
Rick: Yeah, a friend of mine once said, “Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you’re smart.”
Rick: One thing I’ve always enjoyed about Adya, and I haven’t had a close relationship with him, but I’ve interviewed him a couple times now and listened to a lot of his stuff, is that he is so down-to-earth and unassuming. I mean what you see is what you get. And he doesn’t try to put on any kind of airs or anything and he talks about his problems if he’s had them, health problems or various things he’s gone through. So, it does make awakening more accessible, as you say. I do know many people who have associated with one or another of the teachers you mentioned and other such teachers, which I’m not discouraging people from doing. I think it can be wonderful to go visit those types of teachers and even have a close association with them if that’s your inclination, but one shouldn’t assume that enlightenment is going to look like them.
Rick: It can look like you.
Bonnie: That’s right.
Bonnie: As Adya likes to say, “God can do it any way it wants.”
Bonnie: And so, there’s room for everybody.
Rick: Yeah. Okay, another thing that comes up a lot, we haven’t talked about it too much, is fear. Well, we could kind of summarize a lot of your points here in one general category. There’s the dark night thing, where we go into something really uncomfortable and unpleasant. And then there’s psychological reactions to change and the body feeling threatened, and then there’s also fear. And a lot of people seem to have to cross a kind of a sound barrier of fear in order to get to the other side. Some recoil from that sound barrier, back off like, “Whoa, I can’t do this.” So what would you say with regard to that point?
Bonnie: You know, I always loved a quote of the Mother who worked closely with Aurobindo. She said, “The heartfelt release of fear is the most significant thing to do on the spiritual path,” something like that. And I think that fear is a barrier and fear belongs to the mind and it belongs to the separate self and it’s natural. It feels a sense of its own diminishing or even abolishment. It feels like, “I won’t matter anymore. I don’t belong anymore.” And I also think it needs to be respected. I think that a person is going to go through periods like that before there’s a ripeness and a readiness to let it go. And so, when you feel fear it’s sort of like meeting it, just meeting it and giving yourself support like, “It’s okay that there’s fear here, it’s just an energy,” really helps. I also like to tell people to the extent you can transfer the energetics of fear into curiosity it’ll work a lot better, everything will work a lot better. So, if your body’s doing weird things and you start to feel afraid just get curious, “What is this? This is really strange.” Of course it is, you know, it’s like, “Yeah it is, it’s really strange. I wonder where it’s going, I wonder why it’s doing this,” but without that contraction of fear. See that’s one thing people can do, but there’ll be a point, before letting go, that everything in you is going to try to come up with reasons why you shouldn’t. Because you’ve been functioning a certain way your whole life, everybody else seems to function that way, and you’re going into the unknown and you’re going to have to live in the unknown, and what mind wants to do that? We spend our whole life trying to figure things out so we don’t have to be unprepared for anything, and so that’s what’s happening.
Rick: Okay, a couple of quotes come to mind, one is from FDR’s second inaugural, you know the famous line, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” and others from Star Wars, Luke Skywalker kind of in a cocky way says, “I’m not afraid,” and Yoda says, “You will be.”
Here’s a question that just came in, someone said, “I had the complementary experience to the earlier questioner, it started in the middle of my spine and went to the base of my skull,” this person picked up where the other one left off, “I thought it was going to pierce something there, but it did not, it subsided. I also get downward energy sprinkles,” I like that phrase, I’ve experienced that when I’m in a religious setting such as a temple. My question is, “Is the second phenomenon, the sprinkles, kundalini, and why did it not arise from the base of my spine or how can I get it to do that?”
Bonnie: Wow, I think that when kundalini has been active or when someone’s very open spiritually, they can be very receptive to the energy in sacred places, so even to be around someone else whose energy is activated, your own body will respond in some way. So, I would expect that what he’s experiencing or she in a temple is like the prana in your own body is happy to be experienced, it’s feeling, it’s responding to something in the energetic field that you’re in.
Rick: I think there can be an experience of bliss. I think when energy begins to flow through channels through which it did not previously flow, you know the nadis that we have in our system if you use that system of thinking. It’s like when your foot is asleep or your leg is asleep and then it starts to wake up you get all these tingles. So in a similar way it’s like if you have these energetic channels in your body and there’s said to be 92,000 of them that have been sort of deadened and clogged. Then when they begin to clear and wake up, there can be this sort of thrill of bliss as they begin to get enlivened.
Bonnie: I completely agree. You can even feel, I remember once one of my arms went into bliss. It was totally irrational you know, but yeah, I agree with you, the nadis come out from the chakras in all different areas of the body and I’ve heard 72,000.
Rick: Oh, maybe you’re right, I was thinking 92,000.
Bonnie: And if you think about it, we’re an energy grid. And as different parts that were blocked open up, the energy responds and it really feels very blissful usually.
Rick: And then you become accustomed to it after a while, so it’s not going to always be tingling and throbbing, but the initial rush of energy into those previously blocked channels as they open can be quite ecstatic.
Bonnie: Yeah absolutely. Even when you’re getting other kinds of energy flows, if you can totally release into them, they can turn into bliss. If you can just completely relax into being that energy flow, then the jerking and the shaking can become very blissful, and afterwards particularly. It seems, I’m not sure what to say about opening it from lower chakra after you already feel, have felt some opening at the center of the body. I would just stay with whatever meditation practice the person is using and just invite the energy to do what it needs to do to support your awakening. You know you don’t have to force anything. You can tune into it, often energy will follow attention. I often tell people, if they’ve had an opening and there’s some part of their body that’s uncomfortable, most often it’s in the head. A lot of times people, particularly those who do third eye meditations, get tremendous amount of difficult energy in their heads. But if they will bring it, yeah, and if you’ll bring your attention just focus on it and bring it down through the neck into the heart or into the belly, somewhere else in the body, usually the energy will follow attention. So that’s another possibility, but frankly I wouldn’t really try particularly to open the lower chakras in a situation like this where you’ve already felt a heart opening and a chest opening. I would just trust that if it needs to have more activity there, it will. By focusing there, it is more likely to bring energy into more problematic experiences. It’s much better to bring it up into the heart, that’s an important transition from the center of the body into the heart and the upper chakras.
Rick: I would make a comment and we’ll see what you think of this, and that is that, as you were saying earlier, the kundalini has its own intelligence and we can direct our attention here and there to a certain extent, but at the same time it’s going to run its course as it sees fit. We don’t want to be too manipulative and pushing it this way and that. I mean we should just kind of be innocent and let it do its thing, wouldn’t you say?
Bonnie: Yes, I mean I think there’s things you can do to balance it if there’s discomfort, but the more you get into kind of an intuitive relationship with it and ask it what it wants to do, what it is doing, where it’s going, and just kind of follow it, the more relaxed you can be about the whole process. It’s not about using the will to force it into certain patterns, at least not if you’re about spiritual awakening. If you’re about martial arts or power or something like that, that’s where you see the more willful forms of manipulating energy.
Rick: I think another thing that’s important, since we’re talking about all these experiences that people have had is not to compare yourself to others too much, because it’s going to be different for everybody.
Bonnie: Yes, absolutely.
Rick: I mean, the second questioner said, “Well hey, this thing happened to the first questioner, why didn’t it happen that way for me?” So, I mean, different strokes for different folks.
Bonnie: Absolutely, yeah, there could be a myriad of reasons. When I work with somebody, when somebody contacts me for a consultation, I send them a questionnaire. I try to get a lot of background information, because it really helps me to have more clarity about what they’re doing and why they might be having the particular phenomena they are and who they are and what their lifestyle is and their background, because I can see a lot of why there might be a certain reactive experience based on a certain prior experience. Because everybody does come through this process so different from each other.
Rick: Yeah, in fact as you said earlier, some people may go all the way to awakening without having had much of anything that they could identify as kundalini. The whole thing is so subtle it just doesn’t make a big deal about it. Okay, I’m just reading some things in your book here. There’s a nice chapter about grace here. You want to talk about grace a little bit?
Bonnie: Well, I’m going to steal another phrase from Adyashanti which he talks about becoming grace-prone. We can’t force grace. Grace is those moments when something happens that we are appreciative of, that we didn’t expect, that we didn’t know it could even happen, it just sort of descends upon us. That can be true in many areas of life, that you feel graced. But I think the most, the way that we become most vulnerable to it is by the authenticity and the sincerity of our longing to know what’s true and our willingness to be open to however it appears. It may not appear in any way, shape or form the way somebody else has told us it ought to. And it’s sort of like letting go of all your beliefs, all your ideas about it, about what it would mean and just saying I’m willing to experience whatever the universe wants to hand me that I’m ready for at this moment. And that doesn’t mean you’ll ever get an exact response, it’s just sort of an attitude that makes you more available as you move through your practices and your life and not to have any expectation about what it would look like.
Rick: Yeah, and I think underlying that attitude is the understanding or the attitude or the feeling that there’s a kind of a larger intelligence at play than we’re capable of appreciating. We just kind of need to, since it has our best interests in mind, we just need to cooperate with it.
Bonnie: I agree, yeah.
Rick: There’s another question that came in, I think we’ve kind of covered this but perhaps we haven’t covered it adequately or this question wouldn’t have come in. And that is, is it possible to have a full awakening without having a kundalini awakening? What’s the difference between a kundalini awakening and a regular awakening, if there’s any difference whatsoever?
Bonnie: Well again, I think that I would define awakening of consciousness as being a complete shift out of your normal way of seeing things and falling into this, where conscious wakes up. You don’t really wake up, your consciousness wakes itself up. It’s like it recognizes or remembers, ‘Oh wait a minute, I’m not this little separate person in here, I’m in some miraculous way, part of everything,’ and that can happen in different ways, and it leaves you changed. It changes you, it has a huge impact on you. More than likely if you have happened to be walking down that, like a friend of mine was just walking down the street one day and it was like the world just dissolved and she just saw that. So, she had no reason for that, it just happened to her. I think that that can happen, but usually almost always there will be some energetic phenomena that will start turning up a little bit later, because that’s not the end of spiritual awakening. It’s kind of the initiating of it. Everything that isn’t yet awake is going to come up for you to see through it or let it go or transform or whatever you want to call it. So very often energies will start arising as soon as that’s happened, that you’ll start noticing energies arising. A kundalini awakening as we talked about earlier, you can activate it and you can have it churning around in your stomach for the rest of your life and it never goes into a realization process, you’re just dealing with energies. Or it can go into the throat and you become very expressive and or in the heart you become very loving, but you don’t get the wisdom aspect, there’s both a love aspect and a wisdom aspect to it. It has to awaken the heart and the mind and, in Buddhism they say, the gut for everything to be finished. In a way, I don’t think it ever really finishes, but for it to feel complete, so that there’s no interest anymore in searching for anything. And so, a lot of times people have partial awakenings, they are very, very loving, they’re very in tune with everybody and they’re really beautiful people, but maybe they haven’t had a full kundalini arising.
Rick: That’s an interesting point. I mean, would you say for instance that great orators or opera singers or something might have an awakened throat chakra or great scientists might have an awakened intellect chakra, whichever one that is, or great humanitarians might have an awakened heart chakra and they don’t even think of it in those terms or know that, but they just happen to be enlivened in those particular chakras. I think what you’re just saying is that let’s not leave it at any one chakra, let’s awaken them all.
Bonnie: I would agree, that sounds like a great way of looking at it. I think a lot of people do get, I don’t quite want to call it intellectual awakening, but it’s more of a realization of truth. I think it’s quite common that that’s how it appears in a Zen practitioner, for example, and that they see the truth, they really see it. But it can lead to kind of a distancing from life. Like ‘I don’t really need to be involved in any of this because I can see it’s all irrelevant and I’m not engaged anymore.’ And that can feel good, it can feel satisfying for a while, but I think that what has to happen ultimately is that awakeness comes down into the heart chakra so that one can then lean into life and be willing to be human too. And I think that many traditions have not talked about that much because the effort is so much on ‘you need the realization,’ you’ve got to let go of you before you’re going to have the realization. So, if you start talking about being a good person, opening the heart and all that, it gets reinterpreted by the mind in a different way than when the heart actually opens. And then that hasn’t much to do with your decision to be loving, it just happens when it needs to happen, it’s just there.
Rick: Did you see the recording of the talk that Adyashanti and Francis Bennett gave in Berkeley about a month ago, a few weeks ago?
Bonnie: I didn’t see that but I saw the discussion that you did, didn’t you do something?
Rick: Yeah, I did one at Adya’s house last October and we’re going to do another one this October, but they did one in Berkeley a few weeks ago that was kind of on this point. And Adya was even saying that some years ago, if he started talking about embodiment and becoming a better person and integrating it into your humanity and all that stuff, people didn’t want to hear it. They said, “We just want the realization, don’t give us all that stuff.” But these days there’s kind of a shift in the whole spiritual community. Adya was saying that and Francis both, that it seems to be moving in the direction of people realizing the necessity for the integration and the full embodiment that you were just referring to. That you’re not just impersonal, abstract, absolute being, you’re also Bonnie or Rick or you’re a person, you have a life, and somehow you have to integrate the two.
Bonnie: One way that Adya has put it is that when awakening moves through the heart it becomes love. And so, there’s awakening as wisdom and seeing the truth, but it has to move through the heart. When that same sensation is moving through the heart, that’s what you feel is love. And I think that’s a good way of looking at it because really truly that’s what the world needs. I mean it needs people to be not so free, so empty that they don’t engage. And I think in the West particularly, it’s not about escape. In fact, if you’re only awake when you’re out of everything else, you’re only half awake. If you can’t be happy being human too, you’re really only half awake, you’re not free, you’re only half free, because you can’t prefer one to the other and be free.
Rick: Yeah, you remember the ox-herding pictures, there’s one which is just pure awareness. But the final one is the guy riding into town on his donkey or whatever, happy and spreading the joy. So anyway, your books are the kind of books that I sort of felt as I read them. I felt like, ‘Wow, I wish we could just do an interview where we just read this whole book and then keep stopping and discussing various points,’ but obviously that wouldn’t be practical. So, I would recommend these books and I’ll link to them from your page on my site, and I think most people will enjoy them. But before we conclude, is there anything that we haven’t covered that you want to make sure to get into this discussion before we conclude?
Bonnie: I just want to reiterate, I guess, that the most important thing is really, not finding a way to activate kundalini no matter what. The most important thing is, if what you want is freedom from yourself, basically, what you get is freedom from yourself, is a very sincere and open-hearted spiritual practice, meditation or being in the world from the heart, and that your energies may arise and you can embrace that too. It’s kind of an embracing of everything that is, and anybody that’s gone through that far enough feels only an incredible gratitude for it. So if there’s fear, you need to find a way to bless the part of you that’s fearful but invite the part of you that is the longing. I love that Ramana points this out, that which is longing from the heart is that which is already awake. It’s like follow your longing to the source in the heart. Actually, he says to the right side of the heart, to the chakra, a small chakra that’s on that side of the heart, that’s the source of the “I” thought, that’s the source of the longing, the longing for truth. So, there’s a part of you that already knows it, already wants it. So that’s what you’re just trying to get in touch with and then let the energy do what it will. It’ll do what it needs to do. And my books are for people in this process. They are self-help books for people to carry them through the process and I hope they work that way for people.
Rick: And then you do the consultations over Skype and everything. May I ask how much you charge for those consultations?
Bonnie: Well generally I charge $100 for it. It takes me two or three hours, because I do the questionnaire and then I talk with them, but I never pursue anybody for money. So, if they can afford it, that’s good. If not, that’s fine too.
Rick: Well, that’s extremely reasonable if it takes you two or three hours and you charge $100, it’s a bargain.
Bonnie: Yeah, well I’m not going to make a lot of money in this process and I don’t need to. Also, once in a while I do programs. In fact, I’m going to try to set up something on the web that I can do in a more consistent way. But I also do workshops here in Ashland, Oregon once in a while, at least once a year for people in this process. And so I’m generally available, try to be available.
Rick: Great, well I’ll be linking to your website and I imagine you have some kind of email sign-up thing there, so people can be notified when you have an event, right, that kind of thing.
Bonnie: Yeah, I have calendars on both of my websites and people can contact me through the websites and that’s kundalini-guide.com and awakening-guide.com.
Rick: Great, and I’ll link to those and to your books. Great, so thanks Bonnie, this has really been enjoyable.
Bonnie: I’ve loved it, it’s great to meet you. I appreciate the work you do to expose people to so many different perspectives of spirituality. I think it’s very valuable today.
Rick: I love doing it. I’ve always loved connecting people, even when I was in high school, I liked giving people rides home, you know, because it’s just fun to sort of connect people with what they needed. But let me just make some concluding remarks. I’ve been speaking with Bonnie Greenwell, as you know, and this is an ongoing series of interviews, as you probably also know. To see the whole archive of all the older ones, go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu item where you’ll see them categorized in four or five different ways. And there’s also a future interviews menu, and if you’ve been watching this and wondering how it is that people are sending in questions, the way to do that is go into the future interviews menu and you’ll see a link to the live feed of each interview that’s being done over Skype. If you tune in while we’re doing it, and the times are given there, then there’s a form at the bottom of that future interviews page where you can put in a question and it’ll come to me. There’s a donate button, as I mentioned at the beginning, which we depend and rely upon people clicking if they feel so motivated, in order to enable us to put as much time into this as we do. There’s an email newsletter sign-up thing, so you can be notified each time a new interview is posted. You can also subscribe to the YouTube channel, and I think YouTube will notify you when a new one is posted. And this also exists as an audio podcast, so there’s a page on batgap.com where you can sign up for that through iTunes or various other podcasting services that work on different devices. So, thanks for listening or watching. The next couple of weeks are going to be, people have sometimes said, “Well, you know, you started out just interviews with ordinary people. And then it seems like you’re interviewing all these teachers who are selling books and all this stuff. So we thought we’ll just take a couple of weeks and interview a couple of ordinary people who we just happened to get in touch with or got in touch with us, one of whom had no interest in spirituality whatsoever, kind of like the kind of people Bonnie was talking about earlier, and things started happening. So, we thought it might be interesting to talk to him and maybe some people can relate to that. So that’s what we’ll be doing. So, thanks for listening or watching. Thank you again, Bonnie, and we’ll see you next week. Bye-bye.