608. Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswati, 2nd Interview

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

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

Some of the topics discussed in this interview:

  • How Sadhvi’s journey has bridged spirituality and humanness.
  • Grace doesn’t discriminate. Spirituality is available for everyone!
  • The ecstatic story of Sadhvi’s awakening on the banks of the Ganga and the healing and transformation that followed.
  • The lifelong process of integration and embodiment of spiritual awakening experiences.
  • How we can see the Divine in all beings and how that increases our spiritual experience.
  • The role of the guru: the guru shines the light that enables us to see our own light, thus dispelling our darkness of ignorance.
  • How Sadhviji’s guru Pujya Swamiji inspires her to dedicate herself to awareness of that which is eternal rather than things that quickly fade.
  • Becoming a vessel for the flow of grace.
  • Everyone enters the world with their own karmic packages, and awareness of our own and others’ packages is key.
  • Mindfulness teaches us how to stay conscious and present.
  • In order to experience grace, sometimes there’s a lot of work to be done!
  • Sadhviji’s childhood trauma and how she was taught to forgive and let go so she could be free.
  • Forgiveness: regardless of what others have done we deserve to be free. Freedom is our birthright, our highest dharma, purpose, and calling.

Websites:

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

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

First BatGap interview with Sadhvi.

Interview recorded July 25, 2021.

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

599. Stephen Cope

Stephen CopeStephen Cope is the Scholar Emeritus at the renowned Kripalu Center in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. He is the author of many best-selling books on the topic of yoga and meditation. For over thirty years, his interest has been in bringing important but esoteric yoga scriptures to the mainstream, including, most recently, the two-thousand-year-old spiritual classic called The Bhagavad Gita, or “The Song of God.” His new book on The Gita, entitled The Dharma of Difficult Times, will be released later this year.

Some of the points discussed in this conversation:

  • Stephen’s background.
  • Dharma – “Sacred Duty”, “That course of action most conducive to your spiritual development” – with particular reference to the Bhagavad Gita.
  • Indra’s net – the connection between the soul’s good and the common good.
  • Dharmic hierarchies: individuals, families, communities, nations, planets.
  • The evolutionary opportunities of the human realm as compared with higher realms.
  • Being honest, humble, and discreet about one’s progress on the path.
  • The value of long-term practice.
  • The value of meditation for musicians, athletes, and others whose success demands sharp focus.
  • The four pillars of karma yoga: discerning one’s dharma, applying oneself to it, being unattached to the outcome, and “turning it over to God”.
  • Overcoming the habit of reaching and grasping. The distinction between motivation and grasping.
  • How to determine your dharma.
  • You can still live your dharma even if your job does not fulfill it.
  • You may have many dharmas, both simultaneously and sequentially.
  • To live your dharma is to surrender your life to a higher power and become a channel through which the world benefits.
  • Examples from the lives of Whitman, Beethoven, Frost, Gandhi, Keats, etc.
  • The Gospel of Thomas: “If you bring forth what is within you, what is within you will save you, if you do not bring forth what is within you, what is within you will destroy you”.
  • Suffering can break us open and enable us to receive new information.
  • Just vs. unjust wars.
  • Living your dharma may require sacrificing some attractive things that are not aligned with it.
  • During periods of dharma transition, we may experience doubt and uncertainty.
  • The importance of commitment: “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.”
  • Living a disciplined and holy life bears fruit. “The means collect around sattwa.”
  • Focusing our energy and attention rather than scattering it.
  • The difference between happiness and fulfillment.
  • Fulfillment independent of gain and loss.

Books:

Website: stephencope.com

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded May 29, 2021

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

548. Ravi Ravindra

Ravi RavindraProud to be born in India as a Hindu, I will be sad if I die merely a Hindu. Convinced very early in life that all boundaries are artificially created and tend to hinder the growth of the spirit, I ended up studying at post-doctoral level Physics, Philosophy, and Religion at various universities and later teaching as a professor in these fields. Wishing to correspond to the transformational teachings of several great spiritual luminaries, especially of Krishna, Buddha, Christ, and Patañjali and of present-day masters Krishnamurti and Gurdjieff, I am interested in the actual journey of self-transformation and experiencing the inevitable shifts of focus of energy along the way.

Website: ravindra.ca

Books:

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded May 2, 2020.

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