439. Michael Speight

Michael SpeightWhen I was 11 years old our school took a bus trip to the local library. While most of the children were off exploring the mysteries of Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, for some reason I found myself in the row of books called Philosophy and Religion.

I recall pulling a hardbound book off the shelf and directly opening it to an old black and white photograph of the Portola Palace in Lhasa, Tibet. At that moment, it was as if all my breath was sucked out of me and my mind went totally quiet. Somewhere in the depth of my being, I knew I was looking at a very familiar place, one that I may once have called home. I stood there for a very long time just staring at that photograph.

Then, like a starving young man having a meal laid before him, I hurriedly began to devour the book. When it was time to leave the library and head back to school, I took the book with me to the check-out counter. What followed was a pitched battle with my teacher and the librarian on one side, and one very determined boy on the other. In the end, I got to take the book home.

That book changed my life. At the time, I took the descriptions of a world rarely seen to be real mysticism. With great determination and passion, I began reading everything I could get my hands on about Tibet, its culture, and spiritual teachings. Thus, began a lifelong pursuit for of spiritual insight and knowledge mystical experience.

In my youthful naivety, I also began what I deduced as a meditation practice from stories in the book. This practice was quite complex and involved sitting quietly in the lotus posture with my spine perfectly straight while emptying my mind of everything. Then, with eyes closed, the idea was to develop a specific color spot in my field of vision at, what one might imagine to be, an arm’s length away, and then start spinning it into other colors, all while keeping all thoughts at bay. I would do this at night after having gone to bed, or during the day when no one else was home. As you might imagine it was a difficult exercise, however, for short periods of time, I began to experience gaps in my thought pattern.

Then it happened. After about four years of practicing my meditation, one day I was sitting quietly and deep into it, when the bottom dropped out. No mind, no thought—just a great expanse. When the experience ended, I felt the most amazing deep sense of happiness bliss. This bliss we might describe as “the peace which passeth understanding”.

I didn’t know it at the time but I had transcended and experienced the basis of all life that which is complete fullness yet contains nothing. This is sometimes called non-abiding Samadhi.

The problem was my meditation practice was extremely difficult and required great effort and time to achieve the effortless state. I began to search for something easier. My readings led me to try Zen, which, while intellectually satisfying yielded no repetition of the state of no thought only pure awareness. I tried several other practices and even religions until one day I received a phone call that was to be another turning point in my life.

My best friend had gone off college and suggested that I leave my job with the Forest Service and continue my education. I think he just wanted someone to share the rent with but it got me there.

When I arrived on campus to find Maharishi Mahesh Yogi teaching a course about meditation and training young men and woman like me how to teach Transcendental Meditation, a mantra-based meditation practice. I snuck into his lectures and listened attentively and knew this was the spiritual practice I had been seeking.

At the advice of my new friends, I went to ask Maharishi if he would personally teach me. Maharishi was rarely on time anywhere and I waited outside his door a long time for him to emerge. When he finally came out the door there were a number of people waiting like me, some to ask a question, some pay their respects. With about a dozen people ahead of me in the line I waited for my turn, but then I had the thought that I shouldn’t take his time, that I should instead dedicate myself to freeing his time so he could bring this knowledge of meditation and its philosophy to as many as possible, that I should work to serve him selflessly without regard to my own needs and desires. In that moment, I took the Bodhisattva vow and walked away to learn Maharishi’s Transcendental Meditation from one of his teachers.

I knew I had found what I was looking for in my first meditation. Upon learning I experienced quite easily that state of mindlessness I had been struggling so hard for. I knew for certain that TM worked for me when I was walking down the street feeling the perfect bliss within yet realizing that nothing what so ever had happened in my life save for meditation to make it so.

Within six months of beginning the practice, I had gone from a 1.28 GPA to a 4.0, typical of TM practitioners, and had made the decision to become a TM Teacher. I am dyslexic and while blessed with an IQ in the top 1% school had been hell for me, a constant struggle, all that had changed for the better. I became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation in 1972; I am extremely grateful to Maharishi for all his teachings and wisdom that have shaped my life.

After many years of practice, I had a classical awakening into higher consciousness. Now living in non-duality or as Maharishi described it “living 200%, the fullness of the absolute and the relative lived completely and utterly together”.

Website: michael-lovelightlaughter.org

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group

Interview recorded January 27, 2018.

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

435. Lesley Skylar

Lesley SkylarA completely spontaneous, life-altering experience of satori or enlightenment shook Lesley Skylar’s world at about age 9 or 10. Everything, in every facet, shifted unimaginably – nothing was ever the same again. This set her on a life course dedicated to understanding, honoring and living what had been revealed.

Lesley has spent years as a renunciate, living in ashrams and working deeply with direct teachings of enlightenment, in both the East and West. She has studied and practiced Zen Buddhism, Dzogchen and the Nonduality teachings of Ramana Maharshi and Nisargadatta Maharaj. She has a Degree in Psychology, has counselled, and worked in numerous non-profit, peace and human rights endeavors.

Lesley is a teacher of spiritual awakening. The approach and teaching she shares comes directly from her extensive experience, and was developed and refined through her own realization. It is based on decades of integration and rigorous work with liberation teachings and realized teachers.

Her teaching offers individual or small group guidance for awakening, and also focuses specifically on the post awakening terrain. Many are confused or struggle after awakening as they don’t realize that awakening is a beginning – it is not stabilized and abiding, involves a coming and going of clarity and higher states, a persistent self-sense, and incomplete seeing or depth. She helps people to move beyond the initial phases of awakening, to clarify and resolve sticking points, subtle aspects of identification, shadow, unconscious beliefs and so on. This creates a deepening, integrating and embodying, which allows liberation and enlightened living to unfold.

Lesley states: “As a teacher, I am simply the voice of your own deepest being, your highest possibilities, reflected back to you. A clear mirror, reflecting back to you your most authentic True Nature.”

She has travelled extensively and lived in North America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. She is currently based in Vancouver, Canada. Lesley offers private sessions worldwide, via Skype/ online video or in person.

“Living a realized life is a radical shift of perception and identity, bringing with it true
freedom, clarity and peace that surpasses all understanding.”

Learn more about Lesley and her work:

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded December 30, 2017.

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

434. Joi Sharp, 2nd Interview

Joi SharpJoi was aware of the unseen magic of Presence at a very early age. She remembers being more drawn to this mystery than anything else. This led her to delve into many traditions of spirituality. After a spontaneous awakening at age 28, Joi spent two years on a blissful honeymoon of Spirit before plunging into a deep period of emotional purging and healing. Among her healers were a powerful Lakota medicine man, with whom she traveled for two years, and a group of Yogananda disciples who had developed a powerful way of unlocking unconscious beliefs using kinesiology. She worked with them 3x/week for two years. During this period that the formless aspect of the Divine Mother appeared to Joi and she began a very intense journey.

Joi met Amma in 1993, and she realized that Amma was the same Mother that had captured her heart and soul. Joi spent nine years in Amma’s Indian Ashram, and then two years in Tiruvannamalai at Ramana’s Ashram.

When Joi came home from India, she was completely exhausted, and her “seeker drive” fell away. She began sitting with Adyashanti, who helped her understand all that had taken place within her being.

Joi began teaching in 2006, with Amma’s and Adya’s blessings. Joi continues to be inspired and moved toward what Life could be if we let go to our inner potential, which is the ultimate intelligence of all creation.

Joi’s Website

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group.

First BatGap interview with Joi

Interview recorded Dec. 17, 2017.

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

429. Amoda Maa – 2nd Interview

Amoda MaaAmoda Maa is a contemporary spiritual teacher, author, and speaker. After years of spiritual seeking, meditation, and immersion in psychospiritual practices, an experience of the dark night of the soul led her to a profound inner awakening. Then, after a long period of integration, she began speaking from silence in small gatherings. Today she offers meetings and retreats, and is a frequent speaker at conferences and events, attracting spiritual seekers and people looking for peace and fulfillment in an increasingly chaotic world. Her teachings are free of religion and tradition, and she brings to them a deep understanding of the human journey, born out of her own experience.

She is the author of Radical Awakening (originally released as How to Find God in Everything) and Change Your Life, Change Your World: Ten Spiritual Lessons for a New Way of Being and Living. Both books were written shortly after her awakening and before she began to speak in public.

Her new book Embodied Enlightenment written 15 years after her awakening — is based on the many conversations at the cutting edge of spiritual inquiry in her meetings with people from all around the world, and addresses many of the questions relevant to today’s seeker. It has been acclaimed as “a beautiful and precious gift to an emerging new humanity.”

Amoda lives with her husband and beloved, Kavi, in California.

Website: amodamaa.com

Previous BatGap interviews with Amoda:

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded November 5, 2017

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

412. James Wood

James WoodJames Wood works with groups and individuals to discover the fundamental Reality of our essential nature. Having awakened in 2002 after years of study, he began to express a spontaneous teaching whose form continues to evolve. His message is that awakening is possible for anyone committed to finding Truth.

Originally, James studied philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin and transformational studies with Richard Moss, M.D. He has combined his education and experience to express a modern, integrated vehicle for others to use as a means of growth in consciousness leading to awakening. He is dedicated to communicating the essence of the true Teaching to those who are ready to receive it.

Book: Ten Paths to Freedom: Awakening Made Simple

Website: jameswoodteachings.com

Discussion of this in interview in the BatGap Community Facebook group.

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

Save

Save