690. Bill Witherspoon

Bill Witherspoon is a life-long visual artist, serial entrepreneur, and lover of sky. In his six decades, living on and off in the High Steppe desert in southeastern Oregon, he has painted watercolor skies, practiced ancient art as spiritual discipline, and weathered that pristine geological expanse.

As an artist, over the last four decades, Bill has mounted 40 one-man exhibitions of paintings, prints, and sculptures (1968 – 2020), in addition to desert public art projects. He is also the founder and Creative Director of The Sky Factory, a fine arts, digital technology, and cognitive science studio that designs and manufactures the world’s only research-verified virtual skylights—Luminous SkyCeilings and Luminous Virtual Windows.

His first book, Enter Space—Stories from the High Desert, lays witness to a life surrounded by that rare, unsummoned vastness; one that those of us steeped in the ceaseless churn of urban life can now imagine living through the faithful record of the artist’s experience.

Book: Enter Space: Stories from the High Desert

Transcript and Summary of this interview

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group

Interview recorded September 3, 2023.

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

YouTube Video Chapters:
00:00:00 – Introduction and Background of Bill Witherspoon
00:04:49 – A Life of Adventure and Silence
00:09:25 – Being Swept Away by the Waterfall
00:12:52 – A Life-Threatening Water Rescue
00:16:34 – The Near-Drowning Experience That Changed My Life
00:21:02 – The Transcendent Experience of Meditation
00:24:35 – Climbing the Radio Tower and Facing Danger at Sea
00:29:01 – Seeing More Deeply
00:32:33 – Healing the Eye of the Heart
00:36:42 – The Burning Shell
00:40:15 – Learning and Growth through Perseverance
00:43:50 – The Sri Yantra: An Instance of a Law of Nature
00:48:10 – The Bindu
00:52:38 – The New Kind of Seeing
00:57:00 – The Essence of Memory and Love
01:01:06 – A Slideshow of Photographic Events in the Wilderness
01:05:39 – Living in Harmony with Rattlesnakes
01:08:46 – Witnessing Violence and the Impact
01:12:55 – Encounters with Rattlesnakes
01:16:22 – The Strange Book and its Contents
01:20:36 – The Presence of Divine Intelligence
01:24:30 – Accessing Deeper Levels of Consciousness through Meditation
01:32:35 – The Horrors of Being on Death Row
01:35:35 – The Influence of Human Presence
01:40:37 – “Goodbye,” when we went looking for wild horses
01:44:58 – Reflections on an Interesting Life
01:49:33 – Going Deeper in Consciousness
01:53:02 – Building a Beautiful Corporation
01:56:56 – The Skill of Self-Reflection
02:00:18 – Gratitude and Farewell

624. Philip Goldberg, 2nd Interview

Phil GoldbergPhilip Goldberg has been studying the world’s spiritual traditions for more than 50 years, as a practitioner, teacher, and author. He trained as a Transcendental Meditation teacher with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1970 and later became an ordained Interfaith Minister and spiritual counselor. As a public speaker and workshop leader, he has lectured and taught at major venues throughout the U.S. and India. As a professional writer, his articles and blogs have appeared in numerous print and online publications, and he has authored or co-authored more than 25 books, including an upcoming novel and such celebrated nonfiction as:

He has produced e-courses for Spirituality & Practice and has taught many online courses, most recently, The Yoga of Intuition and Creativity, Four Pathways to the Divine, How Hindu Dharma Transformed the West, and the forthcoming An Immersive Exploration of the Iconic “Autobiography of a Yogi.” His special 12-part series, Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times, for Unity Online Radio, features interviews with well-known spiritual teachers. He is currently working on two nonfiction books and a sequel to his novel. In addition, he blogs regularly on Elephant Journal and Spirituality & Health, cohosts the popular Spirit Matters podcast and YouTube channel and leads American Veda Tours to India. He serves on the board of the Association for Spiritual Integrity. His website is PhilipGoldberg.com.

Interview recorded November 21, 2021.

First BatGap interview with Phil.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Transcript of this interview.

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

YouTube Video Chapters:

00:00:00 – Introduction to Buddha at the Gas Pump
00:02:51 – Reminiscing with Uncle Phil
00:05:11 – Introduction to Philip Goldberg and his work
00:07:49 – Yogananda’s Biography and Autobiography
00:11:24 – Filling the Gaps in Yogananda’s Story
00:15:17 – The Rise of Yogananda and Amma
00:19:08 – Mission-Driven Yogis and the Challenges They Faced
00:23:07 – Returning to India: The Journey of a Monk
00:27:37 – Arguments about Yogananda’s Alleged Affairs
00:31:05 – The Human Story of Yogananda
00:33:46 – The Indomitable Will of Yogananda
00:37:58 – Yogananda’s Spiritual Pursuit and Visions
00:41:58 – Miracles and Wonders in Autobiography of a Yogi
00:46:49 – The Purpose of Miracles and Wonders
00:51:01 – Troubled by Lack of Recognition
00:56:03 – Balancing Consciousness and Action
01:00:35 – The Importance of Service in Spiritual Practice
01:03:28 – Acts of Service in Spiritual Practice
01:07:18 – The Service of Gurus and Spirituality
01:11:19 – The Last Night of the Guru
01:15:28 – Yoga, Cultural Appropriation, and Perennial Philosophy
01:18:58 – Universal Spiritual Experiences
01:24:59 – Transformative Experiences and Global Implications
01:30:00 – The Challenges of Society and the Potential of Consciousness
01:37:09 – Broadening Your Perspective in Spirituality
01:42:22 – The Pragmatic Approach to Spirituality
01:46:47 – Temptations and Fine-tuning the Path
01:51:27 – The Importance of Discernment and Viveka
01:54:42 – Yogananda and Dream Experiences
01:56:53 – The Association for Spiritual Integrity

605. Chelan Harkin

Chelan HarkinChelan Harkin has been channeling ecstatic poetry for years and has now published two books in the past seven months, Susceptible to Light and Let Us Dance!: The Stumble and Whirl With The Beloved. Her publishing journey has been mystical and transformational and filled with “prayer experiments” gone right. Chelan has regularly been compared to the great mystic poets, Rumi, Hafiz, and Rilke. She lives in a geographically spectacular region of Washington State, The Columbia Gorge, with her husband and two small children. In her poetry and in her life, Chelan continually invites the fumbling, suffering parts of our nature and our divinity to meet for tea in the heart, to have a great laugh, and share a big hug.

Some of the main points discussed in this conversation:

  • Chelan’s background and introduction to poetry by Hafiz. Her shift from effortful poetry to spontaneous “downloads”.
  • Chelan reads some of her favorite poems throughout the interview.
  • Chelan’s subjective experience when a poem starts to “come through” – a full-body tingle and a sense of urgency; a mingling of her spirit with something larger.
  • What the world might be like if everyone unlocked their full potential.
  • Chelan’s transformative experience with hypnosis as a process for the development of consciousness.
  • There is no joy in smallness. Chelan reads the poem ‘I AM TOO MUCH!’
  • The growth potential of marriage and parenthood.
  • Opening the heart and connecting with the divinity within us.
  • Sensitivity to ‘truth’ and addressing that which is not aligned with it.
  • Being able to have pain move through us without hurting us.
  • Chelan’s collaboration with Daniel Ladinsky.
  • Chelan’s upbringing in the Baháʼí faith. All people and religions are fundamentally united in a common source.
  • Chelan’s mystical experience and creative inspiration in a cell in Israel in which the founder of the Baháʼí faith was imprisoned.
  • Developing a harmonious relationship between knowledge and experience.
  • Chelan’s current and future projects.

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Transcript of this interview.

Interview recorded July 3, 2021

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

YouTube Video Chapters:

  • 00:00:00 – Introduction to Buddha at the Gas Pump
  • 00:04:59 – Connecting with Hafez: Inspiring Poetry and Publishing Success
  • 00:09:55 – The Spontaneous Poem
  • 00:14:14 – The Feeling of a Coming Poem
  • 00:17:55 – Unleashing Our Inner Genius
  • 00:21:48 – The Birth of Creativity
  • 00:26:12 – Healing through Hypnotherapy
  • 00:30:33 – Reframing and Reclaiming “I’m Too Much”
  • 00:35:15 – Inspiration from Night Walks
  • 00:39:32 – The Humility of Relationships
  • 00:43:15 – The Worst Thing We Ever Did
  • 00:47:36 – Opening Up to Vulnerability
  • 00:52:09 – The Strength in Sensitivity
  • 00:56:56 – The Essence of Infinity and Connection
  • 01:01:11 – A Serendipitous Connection with Daniel
  • 01:05:35 – Summoning Poetry with Hafez
  • 01:09:32 – Chelan’s Spiritual Upbringing
  • 01:13:31 – A Sacred Experience in Bahala’s Prison Cell
  • 01:17:04 – Chelan’s Aneurysm Journey
  • 01:20:33 – The Impact of Diet and Social Media on Channeling Abilities
  • 01:24:39 – The Thirst for Intellectual Knowledge
  • 01:28:52 – The Potency of Embodied Spirituality
  • 01:33:28 – The Power of Prayer
  • 01:37:34 – Finding Joy in Work
  • 01:41:18 – The God Who Made the Octopus
  • 01:45:28 – The Cosmic Wallop and Cosmic Timing
  • 01:49:19 – Discovering the Poet Within
  • 01:52:33 – The Power of Language
  • 01:56:21 – Living an Authentic Truth
  • 01:59:41 – Openness to Opportunities
  • 02:03:11 – Farewell and Good Wishes