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.

487. Yogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian

Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'BrianYogacharya Ellen Grace O’Brian is a meditation teacher, an award-winning poet, writer, and the spiritual director of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment—a Kriya Yoga Meditation Center with headquarters in San Jose, California. She has taught Kriya Yoga nationally and internationally for more than three decades and has received many service awards, including the Mahatma Gandhi Award for the Promotion of Religious Pluralism. Ordained to teach in 1982 by Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Paramahansa Yogananda, her message is “engaged enlightenment” – an invitation to live an awakened, creatively inspired, and fulfilled life, now.

Along with her service as a meditation teacher and esteemed Yogacharya, Ellen Grace O’Brian is the Founder of Carry the Vision, a community nonviolence education project bringing meditation instruction to staff and children in schools, the prison population, and other segments of society. She is the founder and President of Meru Institute, providing healthy lifestyle education and leadership training in yoga studies, Ayurveda, and community service. She is host of The Yoga Hour, a weekly podcast with listeners in over 130 countries. Her latest book, The Jewel of Abundance: Finding Prosperity through the Ancient Wisdom of Yoga, was recently published by New World Library.

Other books:

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded January 21, 2019.

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