Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest today is Chris Grasso. Chris is an independent culturist, freelance writer, spiritual aspirant, recovering addict, and musician not necessarily in that order, who serves as spiritual director for the Interfaith Center, the sanctuary at Shepherd fields. He writes for The Huffington Post rebel society origin magazine Mantra yogo plus Health magazine, and he created the indie spiritualist.com, a popular hub for all things alternative, independent and spiritual Chris his best selling book in the spiritualist a no bullshit exploration of spirituality earned him praise from Rahm das Tony Hawk who is a skateboarding champion in case you don’t know. Ken Wilber publishes weekly and more. A self taught musician Chris has been writing, recording and touring since the mid 90s. And I’m sure we’ll be talking about music in this interview and many other things. But anyway, first of all, welcome, Chris. Thanks.
Chris Grosso: Thank you. Thanks so much for having me on. I’m honored to be here today.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s good to have you. I sometimes refer in the my interviews and people who have interviewed me to fact that I did a bit of drugs and all when I was a teenager. But if, if drug and alcohol use were scouting, I was a Cub Scout and you were an Eagle Scout with 100 merit badges. I can’t believe how heavily you got into it all. And yet, you came out the other side. I don’t know about unscathed. But in a very impressive place. I really enjoyed reading your book, there’s a lot of wisdom in it a lot of sincerity and humility. And, yeah, I kind of wonder sometimes, if perhaps we volunteer for these roles, you know, so that having gone through all that garbage, we’re able to be much more helpful to people than if we hadn’t. And it was it was sort of a brave thing of you to take on that, that yoke that burden, and, and then be in a position to help others who might be going through the same.
Chris Grosso: Well, thanks for saying that. Because that’s what it is all about. For me today. Record service, like I you know, having come literally so close to death so many times, and the fact that I am still here, and I’ve seen so many people lose their life to addiction, it’s just I don’t know why else I am still here. But you know, enough, sometimes has to become enough. And so here I am. And that’s just all I want to do is help other people, however I can. So
Rick Archer: yeah, I know that 12 Step programs have a very strong spiritual component to them. And I suppose that most of the people who engage in 12 Step programs resonate with that and find it, you know, meaningful. Do you think that addiction itself is some kind of a distorted spiritual craving, you know, desire for spirituality that is going to rise somehow,
Chris Grosso: I think it’s a form of bypassing or trying to be a shortcut, you know, getting from here to here. I, you know, I read back over a lot of, I journal a lot. And during my times of using, which was a period of about, I don’t know, over 10 years of my life, in cycles, it wasn’t a straight 10 years, but during the times where I would be so heavily lost in it, I would write and, and the recurring theme was an anger towards God, you know, where are you? Why aren’t you here and just a loss of feeling of loss and of separation. And a lot of the time I didn’t know exactly what it was, it was just, you know, I was just writing it, letting it pour out, pour out of me, but I believe you know, I look at so many people who have an interest in spirituality, yoga, things of that nature. You look at like Krishna Das or Jay Utah, and you know, they’re in I don’t know if they consoles recovering, but they you know, they don’t do drugs anymore. They had a run with it, too. And a lot of people did. And for me, and I think a lot of other people that became the catalyst for us to aspire, you know, towards spiritual awakening, but in a more skillful means. So
Rick Archer: I never knew that. Krishna Das was the lead singer for Blue Oyster. Until you mentioned in your book, I never knew that.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, it’s a little known fact that it was pre you know, don’t fear the Reaper era, but that was still pretty cool. Like he was he was a total rocker. So yeah,
Rick Archer: I must admit that other than Blue Oyster Cult. I’m completely unfamiliar with any of the musicians you named in your book. I’m kind of boring to be Beatles Hendrix show that that era,
Chris Grosso: I have a deep respect for those guys to Hendrix actually came on my iPod when I was running yesterday on shuffle. I love the classics. But I do when I reference music I do, even though for some of the younger generation, it’s obscure for them as well. But it’s just what I know, you know? So that’s what I write about.
Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah, I was thinking based on what you were just saying, it almost seems like maybe this is a crude categorization, but it seems like they’re kind of two main types of drugs that one takes if one is taking drugs, one is the kind that attempts to blot everything out, you know, like narcotics and alcohol. And the other is the kind that tends to wake you up in one sort of way. And like, you know, amphetamines or LSD and psychedelics. Sure. And I know some people, I can do this, for some reason, this image comes to me right now, this, this guy who was a junkie that I knew, and he was sitting in a park in Connecticut, and he was, it was Fourth of July. So he thought he would do an LSD trip. And he had already been a junkie for some time. And he was just sitting there saying, man, give me my cooker. You know, I can’t stand this. It’s like, I don’t know. It’s like, So was that a seesaw for you between kind of wanting to wake up and doing things which made you more aware of the world and then being too painfully aware of it and then wanting to blot it out again?
Chris Grosso: You know, I wish I could say that was the case. But it wasn’t for me, I you know, I was kind of a garbage pail alcohol was my main drug, but I was always ingesting whatever else was around as well, all kinds of narcotics. And with that came a lot of LSD and mushrooms. I mean, I’ve ingested those over 100 times easily. But I wasn’t doing so in a in a way of trying to wake up, I was just doing them because I was. Yeah, and I like weird things in life. And it doesn’t get much weirder than that. What I will say though, is an a write about this in the book is the one time the very last time I ever took any hallucinogens, I had an eighth of mushrooms that had been kind of sitting around for maybe a month, I just one day, it was a Sunday afternoon, I decided to take them by myself as living in Middletown, Connecticut in an apartment. And I’d never done acid or mushrooms by myself. I was really heavy into rom das at that point, which I still am. He’s one of my definitely definite spiritual guides. But be here now, you know, I was just reading it and reading it. And so I decided I’m going to take these mushrooms, you know, an attempt to see the face of God to enter the room with Christ and have a real amazing spiritual experience. The one and only time I ever did that with hallucinogens. So about this is the condensed version, but about three hours after that. It just, you know, it turned on me. And I’d never had what they call a bad trip on either LSD or mushrooms, always great experiences. It just became too real, too heavy. And so for whatever reason, I called my parents. I don’t know, I didn’t call a friend. But my parents lived about 20 minutes south of me. And I told them, you know, I’m freaking out. I’m on mushrooms. And my parents didn’t know what that was. They’re pretty straight laced characters.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Would you like spaghetti with that? Yeah. Right.
Chris Grosso: So my mom says, Do you want us to call the ambulance? And I’m like, Oh, God, no, no, no, no ambulance, you know, like, that’s just, that would just be the worst thing possible. So, and this is years into my addiction, they had seen me in the emergency room a number of times from, you know, alcohol poisoning and things of that nature. So they didn’t know. But they came to pick me up. And when they got there, you know, I could barely even speak. And I just handed my mom my copy of be here now. And I’m like, Maybe this will help. And so we’re walking out to the car, because they’re taking me back to their house to stay for the evening. And I remember looking at the sky, it was probably like seven o’clock, and it was fall or winter. So it was dark out. And I looked up at the stars. And I just stopped for a minute. And I just said it’s all too real. Like and, and that was a it was all it was just too much for me. And so I got back to their house, and we were laying down on the couch and The Simpsons were on. And I’m a big Simpsons fan. So that kind of started to bring me back down. But it was the next morning I woke up and came downstairs and there’s my mom sitting there with be her now next to her. And she’s like, I read the whole thing. I still don’t understand, like, so, you know, but that’s what happened the one time. I tried to do that. So I’m not saying don’t do that. Because I honor that, you know, even though I wasn’t taking those hallucinogens in an attempt to wake up. I honor the fact that they certainly had you know, they played a role in my consciousness expanding, no doubt about it. So I know people that are anti drugs on spiritual path that they’re Pro. As with anything I say, teach their own whatever works for you. I still have friends that do drugs and can do so in a way that doesn’t harm themselves or others, it’s in a responsible way, if you can call it that. And that’s cool. Like, I can’t, unfortunately. And I have to honor that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I interviewed a guy who was part of a group discussion on iOS code inside Netflix in the potential role they might play and, you know, spiritual and individual and planetary spiritual evolution. Did you watch that one?
Chris Grosso: No, I did not see that one. But I love the work with iOS kids being done around recovery and just healing in general.
Rick Archer: Yeah. In any case, it was like one of the guys was this fellow named? What’s his name, Christopher Bosch. And in preparing for the interview, I listened to a series of talks he had given, and it completely changed my attitude toward LSD in a way, with with major provisos, which, because I found him to be one of the most clear and articulate and deep thinkers I had ever listened to. And he had done at least 100, if not more, very high dosage, LSD trips, but under under very careful, controlled conditions. Sure. And he had gone, he wasn’t doing it for kicks, right, he had gone very deep and had incredible profound levels of insight. So you know, it’s like, never say never, with a graduate just about anything. But on the other hand, if I were advising some young person who was just sort of getting interested in spirituality, I think the last thing I would say to them as well go try LSD, you know, because there’s so many more safe, and say, I think safety first is a really important motto in this whole spiritual field. So many more safe, and in the long run, you know, speedy ways of fostering your evolution, even though you get a quick kick in the pants from something like LSD. Sure, quick kick in the pants is not necessarily the best way to start, but definitely can open your eyes.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, you know, there’s a story that rom das tells about talking to Maharajji. And Maharaj is talking about the experience of LSD or any kind of psychedelics. And he says, of course, that will get you in the room with Christ. And that’s wonderful. But you’re gonna have to leave, you know, the goal is to get there and be able to stay there, which you can never do, by a means of, you know, such as LSD or any other Bedich are natural substance. So
Rick Archer: I remember my realization was holy crap. You know, the world depends upon how you see it. It’s not the same for everybody. That was, that was like the realization. So I thought, it’s all about changing your perspective. And you know, then kind of screwed around for about a year and then finally realized that screwing around wasn’t the way to really change my perspective. on from there, you
Chris Grosso: know, right. Sure. Yeah, we live and learn. And that’s what you know, it’s all part of the path. It’s part of our dharma, you know, what we’re living in the moment, so do the best we can to learn from it and move on.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So in your case, though, without getting too dark about at all, I think it would be useful for people in case anyone’s going through something similar to realize just kind of how seriously messed up you managed to get yourself before kind of turning things around. I mean, just give us a few highlights that you think would would be helpful to people who might be going through similar difficulties,
Chris Grosso: right, yeah. And so I do write pretty candidly about that in the book. I don’t do it in a gratuitous way, trying to glorify addiction, but I really do put that out there. Because I want people who are reading who aren’t familiar with just how dark it can get, you know, maybe they can get a better insight, as well as the people that are going through it and feel hopeless, like I know, all too well about to see that you can get through so I mean, God, I, the long short of it is by the time I was 23. I had already been to the emergency room as many times if not more, you know, at that age, so 2325 times due to alcohol consumption. And just the way I was living, you know, there were a couple of suicide attempts in there. I mean, very minor. feeble was more cries for help, but still the fact that I was willing to you know, even do that, and they landed me in psychiatric wards, you hacking away your wrists and one of them Yeah, and I still have the scars, you know, I, I consciously decided to leave them here. Just Just as a reminder, you know, that best case scenario, if I decide to pick up again, that’s the best case scenario for me. So, there are a reminder. But you know, I was diagnosed with gout by the age of 23, which is it’s basically an inflaming it happens it for me in my in my toe areas. Some people get it in there. It’s joints essentially, but it’s due to luck. kidney functioning, poor kidney functioning from alcohol consumption, you know, or for some people, usually people, if they’re diagnosed with it aren’t diagnosed till 50 or 60. You know, like it’s, it’s from a lifelong journey of just drinking heavily eating poorly. And I was, you know, the doctors couldn’t believe it. 23 I was diagnosed with it. And that’s
Rick Archer: Henry Henry the Eighth had it. Right. Exactly. Yeah. So I mean, being a glutton, I
Chris Grosso: suppose? Yes, yes, absolutely. So I mean, my, I went into my first detox at the age of 24, I would say, became a full on addict, around 1920, I started experimenting at 16, or 17, which was actually late for where I was going to high school, a lot of people started earlier. But I was in the punk rock hardcore scene and very much involved in straight edge, which is a drug free lifestyle. And then I just kind of got bored of that and wanted to experiment. So anyways, I crossed that line from experimenting to abuse to addiction around you know, 1920. And it was at 24, that I was in my first detox, and then it went into a 28 day rehab program. And then that started a cycle where I would go through that I would get clean for about a year, end up relapsing, again, go into a detox another rehab, get clean for about another year, and on and on, you know, and with each relapse, things were just getting worse and worse. It was, you know, that’s where the the couple of suicide attempts came in. And, you know, the hopelessness just got deeper and deeper. And, you know, part of the problem was, during those times of recovery, I wasn’t really doing the inner work that I needed to be doing, you know, when I was attending, like meditation groups, 12 step meetings, I was reading books from wonderful spiritual teachers, but I wasn’t, I wasn’t willing to get vulnerable, you know, an intimate with my pain in my heart and actually touch that I was, I was still scared. So it’s basing my wellness on the material level, you know, get the job back, the car, the girlfriend, the apartment, whatever. And that’s what I needed. You know, I was doing okay, by society standards. But internally, I was still a wreck. And I wasn’t working on that. So I was just, you know, the seeds were being planted, but I wasn’t really doing the work to till that soil, you know, to help them blossom. So, you know, a couple of other just quick things that come to mind. There was one point. I mean, it was so bad,
Rick Archer: or I forget to ask, unless you want to talk about a slit later. So it seems it would seem that 12 Step programs, and all would be kind of making you do the inner work on meditation is kind of an inner work sort of thing. So what was it that made it necessary getting ahead of your story? What what is it? What was it when you finally started doing the inner work that was different than when you had not been doing it? And yet had been going to 12 Step programs and sitting in meditations,
Chris Grosso: I, you’re right, the foundation, like the 12 steps are there the path, you know, to freedom for an addict? That’s not the only way. It’s, but it’s one pretty tried and true way that’s worked for a lot of people. So I don’t want to say like, I’m advocating for anything over the other because people find it in yoga and church and, and that’s wonderful. For me. I, I wasn’t really working the steps, you know, like I was, I was kind of talking to talk and doing a bit of work, but I wasn’t really going inside, you know, there. There is so much pain that was in there and that some of it’s still in there for sure. Of what I had done what I’ve done to others what I put my family through what I you know, I allowed myself to go through there was there you know, and there’s so much that I don’t even know about from Blackout drinking. A story is like, a few years ago, my mom was telling me and I had no idea this happened probably six or seven years ago. But a couple of years ago my mom was telling me a story when I was at their house blackout drunk. And I didn’t know about this till that day, she told me but I had I was also one benzodiazepines, which you mix those with alcohol there. It’s just a bad bad situation which I’ve done in the past, it can lead to death. And so my father Tom, what are those do for you? There? I was prescribed those fraying xiety They, they’re basically you know, they just helped calm me down. Though the catch 22 Is I only had anxiety because of the amount I was drinking and the way it was living my life. So it was a vicious cycle. But you mix those with alcohol and it’s just it expedites that that situation immensely. So my dad had confiscated them and I guess they taken a large knife kit, a kitchen knife out of their drawer and I went out into the driveway and I hauled it to my throat threatening to kill myself. If they didn’t give me the pills back, which of course he did. And then I just took off and they found me a few hours later sitting on a grassy knoll just out of my mind and I went to the emergency room and that’s another story. But so So you were the one
Rick Archer: who shot Kennedy. Yeah, exactly. For all I know, from the grass, you know,
Chris Grosso: what I mean? These are the kinds of things that are. So when my mom told me that it just my whole body got, you know, sick and twisted up. And she didn’t share that with me the way that she wanted me to feel that way we, you know, we sometimes talk about these things as our own kind of healing process and letting them out. But my goodness, like, what my body started to go through hearing this, you know, and I just knowing that those kinds of things happen in my life, and, and I had no idea they happened. So these are things that I will, I was very scared to work through, you know, this kind of pain, it’s not an easy pain to sit with. So that was my problem. You know, that’s what kept me in this cycle. And I don’t know, really, why now, I guess, for lack of, you know, more insightful answer enough, it just become enough. I was like, I, you know, I just didn’t want to keep going through that cycle, the fact that I had not died, or I’m not dead at this point, I have to believe there’s a reason for that. Especially when I’ve seen so many amazing people lose their life to this disease, and who have gone through significantly less than I have. And so it you know, it really, my last time, about a little over three years ago, my last relapse, I woke up in a jail cell from a blackout drunk. And I had no idea how I’d gotten there. The long short of that is I had driven 40, I was pulled over 45 minutes from where he’s living at the time. I was doing 108 miles an hour, I blew a point three, three. I mean, I was completely out of my mind. Explain what that means. A point 330 I’m sorry. So the legal limit, that’s a blood alcohol content. So the legal limit in Connecticut, and it’s pretty similar throughout the US as a point 08. And that’s basically like, a beer if that. And it’s hard for me to talk about that. Because I have a lot of shame. So you’re four times over the legal limit. Yes. I mean, I was blackout, drinking and driving 108 miles an hour, like, the fact that I did not kill anyone else. You know, that’s not easy for me to sit with, you know, that I my life had gotten to that point. You know, I’m certainly ashamed of that kind of behavior. But I you know, that’s something that happened in the past and talk about a wake up call, literally waking up in that jail. So it wasn’t the first time that I had woken up in a jail cell from a blackout, but it is the first time that it happened. And my hope, like was just gone. I was I ended up losing my job. I was in detox, and I missed my brother’s wedding where I supposed to be the best man. It was just, I was ready to die. You know, it was just horrible. But I went to New Jersey, they sent me out of state to another, like probably my fifth or sixth rehab. And what changed for me there was I about two weeks in actually was introduced to the book finding freedom by Jarvis J. Masters. I’d heard of him, Pema Chodron talks about him often in her talks. But I’d never read his book and the clinical director there gave me the book. And it’s a story about a man on death row in San Quentin, who’s still there. And he found redemption and took his bodhisattva vows and now practices the life of non harming, and he’s there. By the way, he’s a completely innocent person on death row. He was sentenced to jail for a crime he committed, but he was accused of sharpening a spear used to kill a guard. So anyways, California is finally reopening that trial, which is wonderful. And I just like to mention that because it pains me that this man is there, you know, wrongfully imprisoned, that so many people are in the world, not just the US, but anyways, I read that story. It really helped me kind of kicked my own ass, you know, like, pull myself up off the pity pot and realize, well, here’s this guy that’s able to find hope and redemption in the most desolate place, almost in the world, probably. And here I am in a comparatively cushy rehab, you know, who am I to really sulk about that? i Yes, i My life is was not great at the time. But in comparison, that’s just what I needed to hear. And here I am over three years later.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One thought that I kept having and reading your book is that it amazes me that one can marinate the brain in so much alcohol and other poisons. And yet, you know, be as intelligent and articulate as you are, like, Yay, God, you know, for giving us such an organ that is so tolerant of abuse and yet still, you know, highly functional after stopping that abuse. So it’s just like, I just appreciate the fact that we’re, there’s a lot of forgiveness and that you know,
Chris Grosso: oh, so much. I mean, my my whole body not just the brain, but my kidneys, my liver. I mean, I used to they would thrive in pain, I would. Sometimes my urine would be brown from so much blood. I mean, it was just horrible, like, but that’s how amazing our bodies you know are and what grace in that that I didn’t get cirrhosis you know that my liver has healed itself. And yeah, it’s just a miraculous, miraculous thing for sure.
Rick Archer: Yeah. There’s one realization I had was on the last night I ever took a drug, which I wonder if you’ve had also, and it became kind of a guiding principle for me, which was that I was on acid and my friends had gone home, I was sitting in the basement in my basement bedroom in my house, and the dog had gotten out and was barking at the garbage man, my father sent me running around the neighborhood trying to catch the dog. I finally got back home and my mind was swirling. And, you know, I sat down, I read Zen flesh and bones, which is a book Yeah. And just to kind of study and focus my mind. And as I read it, this, something really hit home to me, which was, Wow, these guys are really serious. And I am really screwing around. And if I keep screwing around like this, I’m gonna live a miserable life. Okay, well, that’s the only way out is up. Or we might say, we might say in, you know, it’s like, you can’t you can’t get off the wheel. There’s, there’s no sort of, you know, I mean, you people try to commit suicide. But I think you and I know that, that that’s no end anything, right? Yeah, you don’t stop. And you just probably make things worse. And I think I realized that even then, and I wasn’t suicidal, but, but I felt like, All right, I’ve just really got to move in an upward direction to just Metaphorically speaking, and things are gonna get better. And it’s like, if you’re standing in the middle of a great big mud hole, and somebody says, and you say, I want to get out of this mud hole, and somebody outside the mud hole says, well take a step. But you would say, well, but you’re asking me to put my foot in the mud again. And he said, but yeah, you’re moving toward the edge of the mud hole. So just take a step and then take another step, and then take another step, and at a certain point, you’ll be out of the mud hole. Yeah, that was kind of my orientation. And it’s, it’s been like a guiding principle ever since.
Chris Grosso: I think that’s so well said, you know, I feel like as humans, and going back to your question earlier about, you know, using drugs as a means to get there. You know, at least for me, I feel like the natural tendency is, is to go higher, you know, the, the evolution or the arrows, whatever you choose to call it, the, you know, it’s that that Spirit within us our souls, you know, that want to continue to awaken to themselves. And at least for me, that’s that’s how I feel. It wasn’t I didn’t know what to do, or how to skillfully do that. And frustration set in. And, you know, it’s like, I felt that indwelling presence, but I did not know how to get in touch with it. Even though I was reading these books and trying the practices and whatnot. I just, and I think part of it was the fear, you know, because, of course, we have our ego nature and to really, fully, I guess, spiritually awaken is the ultimate death of the ego. And I’m not here to bash the ego, or say, it’s terrible, it’s great, whatever. But you know, it’s part of the the awakening we go through, you know, and there’s so many factors to take into consideration as we’re going through this whole process. A lot of trappings, but again, as I said earlier, cliche, but you live and you learn, and you just keep moving forward or upward or inward.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And it’s such a wonderful adventure. Yeah. What could be more fun, right? I mean, there’s, there’s no end to X. Was it TS Eliot said, Oh, actually, his phrase, I think you quoted them in your book. What didn’t you say that the end of all our seeking will be to arrive back from where we started to know the place for the first time, right. But I would argue that there is, maybe there’s an end to seeking because you do sort of arrive at that ground state, and you rest there. But even then, that’s not the end, because I was listening, you know who Rupert spire is.
Chris Grosso: I know the name but I don’t know. Yeah, work is
Rick Archer: really cool guys, spiritual teacher, and he was giving a talk in response to the question, you know, when self realization has happened, is there still growth after that? Sure. And he’s, and his answer was, well, on the level of the self and level of pure Being, there wouldn’t be growth because how can that change but but you’re a person, you have a mind, you have a body, you have senses, you have all these faculties, and there’s no end to the refinement of those. And he went on to mention a couple of lame brain things he thought he had done, even after his realization, and he said, you know, had I been more clear in terms of my relative functioning I would have perhaps done differently. So when I say that it seems like it’s a never ending exploration is you know, once one Horizon has been reached, there’s always room for enhancement and refinement. And that’s, that’s not like, Oh, God, I gotta keep going. It’s more like oh boy. More, more. Want to explore?
Chris Grosso: Right? Yeah, absolutely. And I think seeking is can well it does keep us stuck, you know, identified as the seeker, you know, we were caught in this seeking cycle, which even to this day, though I still get caught up in, you know, I’ll read books like how am I going to find this and, and then I, I catch myself doing it and I kind of am able to laugh about it but, you know, because the, the absolute end of the spectrum, it’s already perfect there already is what it is and you know, it’s intermingling with this relative reality that we’re at. But, you know, the, the trick is finding that middle ground and, you know, even as we learn to rest is the witnessing awareness, you know, that so we kind of detached from this egoic self even that’s not the you know, it’s we’re still not fully non dual or completely merged and, and on and on it goes you know, I love when Krishna Das will talk about this stuff, he just kind of he laughs about it. He’s like, you know how many times you’ve been born already. And you know how many times you probably have left to go, like, just relax, let it happen as it’s going to happen. Do your best to do what you can do, but just just chill out, like, you know, and be easy. Even it said after the Buddha awakened, as you were, you were saying, you know, after you awaken there’s still karma. That’s that’s playing itself out. You know, it’s I forgot who said it, but it’s like a fan. And once you turn the fan off, the blade still keeps going. Yeah, yeah, stuff still plays out, but you’re no longer attached to it, you know.
Rick Archer: And the US is no longer attached to it is not the individual you it’s not like Chris Grosso is no longer a pure Being is on attached, and it’s in its nature anyway. Right. And so, you know, but the identification has shifted. So it’s, it’s not like just, oh, I’m Chris Grosso. Having, I’m sorry, I’m saying I’m saying gross. So she’s just corrected me.
Chris Grosso: I’m so used to it, it’s fine.
Rick Archer: Freudian slip. Anyway, I’m talking too much, but just want to clarify this thing about witnessing because or detachment, because a lot of times people take that on a relative level. And if they try to become detached as a individual, they just get impractical in life. And, but it’s, you know, true attachment, detachment, rather, has to do with the natural state of being as as unattached from the relative world. And if you’re grounded in that you can be fully dynamic, and yet, not in yet unaffected by the, you know, the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, you know, unattached to the fruits of action.
Chris Grosso: Right. And I think a lot of people tend to get caught up in that, especially once they start to have the awakening experiences where, you know, they start to see the the impermanent nature on the relative level. And so, you know, they don’t I say this, they start identifying more with that absolute nature, which I understand that’s, you know, that’s the, the infinite part of ourselves. But, you know, in the two truths, it’s two truths. It’s not one truth more than the other. This is just as much a part of it as the rest. But yes, we, we anchor into a different way of perceiving and experiencing. And so things start to our experience, I guess, starts to open up and be a bit more spacious. But yeah, it’s not to shun the body and material things. It’s just you’re starting to experience them live a bit of a different way. That’s all.
Rick Archer: Yeah. All along. You thought you were just the wave. Now you realize you’re the ocean, but you’re also the wave. Exactly. And the ocean. Both, both and, yeah. So tell us a bit more. Now, we haven’t really talked too much about Okay, so you woke up in a jail? So you had been really plastered? You almost killed yourself. And you went into rehab. And then you got inspired by this guy who was on death row. And, and you’ve been clean ever since then. So what? I don’t think we quite nailed. How you began to really do the inner work and face the more painful things and what sort of practices or techniques or whatever it was, you have been doing, really began to work for you and got you. So more solidly on the track?
Chris Grosso: Yeah, so one of the first big things for me was after reading that, you know, I was, I felt like so broken going into this rehab, that was the gift of desperation. They call it in 12 steps. I had never been this completely broken. I had experienced plenty of hopelessness, but never to the point where I didn’t think I would come back from it. There was always kind of a little flame of hope, you know, it’d be a small but it was like, alright, somebody internally knew I was going to come back. This time. It didn’t it would that hope is gone. I really didn’t think I was going to. So I think there was a really big shift in me when that happened. And from that point, finding this hope again, which I truly didn’t believe I was Going to, and experiencing the grace that came along with that. A big part for me was really, in truly learning to surrender as best I can. My myself well, you know, I mean, what I started doing and I still do to this day is before I meditate, I just make a very simple prayer aspiration that I am helped to lay my myself my egoic self aside as much as possible, so that the spirit, whatever you want to call it, that will can be done through me and I can be of the greatest service to others.
Rick Archer: Make me an instrument of thy peace. Yes, truly prayer of St. Francis.
Chris Grosso: Right. Yes, very similar, right. And, and, I mean, I said that before, but never with a completely open and sincere heart. And even though I still say today, there will be days where two minutes after it, I am right back in the driver’s seat. And here we go, you know, but a lot of the days are much better and and more frequently, I will catch myself and bring myself back and really look at why am I doing what I’m what I’m doing, you know, is it really aligned with integrity, and I can’t say it always is. But I can say that I’m doing the absolute best I can. And each day, it does get better and better. So besides that, that’s the big thing for me is every day, every morning without fail and make that intention before I do anything before I meditate and go on about my day. But then I started really bringing in practices that that put me more in touch with the pain. And a big one for me is a years ago heard on I don’t even remember which one but one of tick, not Hans audiobooks, he just simply said something about holding our pain in the way a mother holds a newborn baby. And I don’t think he really went much more into it than that. But I kind of develop my own practice based on that. And that’s a teaching, you know, that he was bringing back from the Buddha from I don’t know where exactly, but so this practice that I do now is something instead of pushing, you know, our natural tendency as humans or most of us as humans is to suppress our pain, we don’t like to see the discomfort, it’s just, it’s not fun. But by doing that, we’re keeping ourselves locked in that cycle, we’re just pushing it down, and it’s still there. So for me now, when it starts to come up, whether it’s thoughts, I noticed first or emotions that, you know, they’re always interrelated. But when I become aware of them, if I’m able to, I will take a moment, and close my eyes and really become intimate with them, and let them say what they’re saying, Let the feelings feel what they’re feeling. And once I feel like I’ve sat with them, and really become very again, intimate with them, I will mentally let them know like I aware, I’m aware that you’re there, my heart is completely open to you, I am here to be with you as long as you need me to. And I will picture myself like tick not Han said holding it, you know holding these emotions, wrapping them in a blanket and holding them close to myself the way a mother would a newborn baby. And for some people, I’ve talked about this quite often. And for some people, that’s great. For some people, it feels a little too intimate. So for them, I say just imagine it in a rocker, a baby rocker, you know, still there, but it’s not as close. And what I find is by acknowledging and embracing and opening my heart to do this pain, and in these emotions, is that almost every time within about a minute or so they just naturally release themselves. And so that’s been a really big, big practice that I use when things come up, just just the way looking at instead of, you know shying away from that’s, that’s what I was doing for so many years and drugs and alcohol. And sometimes today, I still get caught up in it. And I will find myself occasionally eating unhealthy and just eating my emotions away. So I’m not perfect at it by any means. But again, you know, it gets better with each passing day. It’s a work in progress. But that’s the big practice, but then bringing other things in like loving kindness meditations, and you know, just just truly trying to better myself as much as I can for the betterment of other people trying to be as selfless as possible. Karma Yoga, things of that nature. So it’s great.
Rick Archer: I think I heard you mentioned that you actually sit and meditate a couple of times a day, like even Oh, yeah, as long as an hour or something.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, I mean, I will sit twice a day for an hour. But or sometimes I’ll sit for 20 minutes. I try to do an hour just because that’s what I like.
Rick Archer: So what’s happening during that hour, what are you doing?
Chris Grosso: It’s usually just the mindfulness meditation where I will sit, you know, on the breath in often in the belly, sometimes I’ll mix it up in the nose, but it’s usually just, you know, like have a possum to just sitting there mindfully. And sometimes it’ll be an hour of just thinking thinking thinking or sometimes it’ll be an hour where I will come back and I will you know, I’ve just gotten to that almost causal realm, you know where it’s just gone. But it doesn’t matter. You know, I’m I’m not doing it for the experience, I’m doing it to do it to just continually get more in touch with the moment and what’s happening. And that that’s the form of meditation. But I believe, you know, once we are anchored into our practice, the meditation does, doesn’t just happen on the cushions. It comes with us throughout our day, you know, all day, and, and that’s the beautiful thing and helps us to act more skillfully. And, and not always live from a place of reaction, you know, but rather a more conscious response to situations so that in and of itself, I think the practice of meditation is worth it, let alone though opening our hearts and minds to are learning to open our hearts and minds in a more full way to other beings.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s great. And I think one thing you just said is important, which is that if a person sits in meditation, with the attitude of, I’m sitting here to have a good experience, they’re going to end up half the time disappointed, and maybe more than half and, and really being very manipulative about it. Because you’re kind of looking for something, you’re trying for something, you’re resenting something, and so on. And so I think what you what you said was, you know, I just sit there and do it come what comes, and but the value of doing it is really 24/7. It’s not just not just what’s happening on the cushion.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, that’s absolutely, it’s, I mean, sometimes I will have, or anyone will have, you know, very blissed out wonderful experiences, and that’s great. But then they get attached to that they want more and more. And then sometimes, there’ll be the very difficult experiences, you know, there are still plenty of times where a lot of that wreckage of my past will come up as I’m sitting. And it’s not just the thoughts, but the accompanying, you know, physical discomfort, you know, the sadness, the anxiety, and it’s not fun. But, you know, I just look at it the same way I would the blissful experiences, it’s just part of what’s happening in the moment, no attachment to either, and it is what it is. Yeah,
Rick Archer: we’d all rather have the blissful experiences or the difficult experience. Of course, that’s only human, but it’s just just to kind of hammer home this understanding that if you’re trying for particular experiences and meditation and trying to exclude others, you know, and then your there’s too much individual interference, if you’re not sure if that’s the way you’re going about it. Yeah. And it’s not going to be as fruitful. As if you just sort of innocent, like you said, come what comes?
Chris Grosso: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. It just, we just stay no matter what Pema children talks about that, you know, just stay, just stay no matter what, just stay. And that’s not always the easiest. And there have been times where I haven’t been able to stay, you know, I will have the intention of sitting for 40 minutes and 20 minutes goes by, and I just, I can’t, you know, it’s rare. And, you know, in the beginning that happen more frequently. And today, it still happens occasionally, but not very often. But again, you know, you just do your best, and you stick with it?
Rick Archer: Well, you know, I’ve been meditating for a long time. And even and I have the same experience even now, which is that sometimes it’s just like, you know, is the time up, you know? Sure. But what I find that sometimes if I’m in that kind of mode, is if I just ease up a bit, just relax, you don’t have to get up and leave. But maybe just maybe just lean back and just be a little bit more comfortable physically, or just kind of whatever the nature of your practice is just kind of stop altogether for half a minute and just kind of let the mind and body settle, and then pick it up in a more gentle way. Sure, then it can shift the whole thing a little bit.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, very well said. And that’s usually similar to what I will do when those when that happens. It is rare
Rick Archer: to straining and kind of creep in without you even knowing it. You can end up sitting there just kind of,
Chris Grosso: yeah, yeah, you start out in a relaxed space. And then you’ll catch yourself the Titan face, you know, the muscle that its shoulders are tightened. And without you even becoming aware of it as it’s happening. It’s it’s a process. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And maybe there’s some practices which prescribe that, but and kind of the way I’ve always gone about it, screen straining is counter indicated, you know, it’s actually it’s actually going to interfere, you were mentioning earlier, something about nature, and then kind of the natural tendency to want to evolve and so on and so forth. And I think that, you know, meditation is a way of harnessing that natural tendency. Yes. And and at least in the practices, I’m familiar with. Individual kind of effort, undue effort strain, it only gets in the way of what nature is trying to do. Right. Yeah, it’s kind of like trying to this you’ve probably heard this analogy, like somebody’s on a train, and he’s carrying his suitcase, you know, and, and, you know, and someone says, while you’re holding your suitcase, he says, Well, I want to make sure it gets to the destination. And they said, well, the train will carry it. Just put it down, you know, just just relax.
Chris Grosso: Yeah. Great. And that’s it. That’s exactly it. But again, we have a We’re so conditioned to want to, you know, be in control. It’s just, you know, it’s it’s part of our nature. And, and it’s very, very tricky sometimes, all the time homos to really begin to relinquish that and let go. And that’s what I’m saying. Like, that big thing that happened three years ago, where was just that breaking point in my life where I was able for the first time to really start to let go, like, wholeheartedly start to let go. So that’s, that’s, for me made the world of difference.
Rick Archer: That’s interesting. Let’s let’s dwell on that a little bit more. There’s a point in the you read the Bhagavad Bhagavad Gita. Now, you mentioned mentioned in your book, and there’s one commentary on the Gita that I read, it’s, it’s, well, it’s like, there’s this dialogue going on between Krishna and Arjuna, right. And there’s a certain point at which Krishna Arjuna is attitude seems to be I got this, you know, I know what I want to do, which is I don’t want to fight. And you know, and then finally, he’s finally he kind of is gets to, there’s some interchange. And finally, he says, I don’t know what’s right for me, you tell me what’s right for me. And at that point, it’s like, you know, as long as one feels that one can do for oneself, then one keeps trying, but there’s a certain point at which one realizes there’s got to be a bigger power, which is governing this universe, right. And perhaps I can just begin to cooperate with that. Right? And then then the right, outcome will will occur.
Chris Grosso: Right, yeah. And that’s why I look back, and I can see such tremendous Grace now in the suffering that I experienced, because it was for me and my path. That was the catalyst to that point. You know, and, for me, I look around since the Big Bang, and you look at the evolution in the conscious intelligence, the creative force, this brought us to the point where we are today. And for me, I have no doubt that it is a conscious intelligence. That’s just my experience. And I respect you know, I know a lot of Buddhists atheists, who wouldn’t you really vibe with that? And that’s cool. That’s, that’s their right. And, and I would never argue that, that they have that, right. But yes, for me, in my experience, knowing and really believing that that’s, that’s kind of what’s happening here in life. Why wouldn’t I want to learn to start to surrender a bit of myself and open my heart in my mind up to that intelligence for guidance, you know, and I’m not saying that I’m going to start hearing the voice of, you know, God in my ear, though, you’d never say never. But for me, really, it’s just grace, I might actually checked myself. But, you know, like, we our hearts, we tune in there, and there’s, you know, our, in our inner being is really a wonderful guiding force, you know, I think when we’re quieted, we can really tune in and our hearts resonate, you know, there’s a good feeling there in a heart center, when things are, you know, when we’re in alignment, in alignment with what we should be doing. And I know, at least for me, like, I feel often like God, I really do when I’m doing things that aren’t in alignment with what I should be doing. So a lot of people will judge me like, on the tattoos or the music, I listen to spiritual people even and say, it’s not spiritual, but I don’t have that feeling in my gut, that I should not be getting tattoos or listening to certain kinds of music. If for any reason that ever did happen, then I would honor that, you know, but I am in tune to what, what my inner guidance is telling me. So that’s what I’m gonna roll with, you know, people can try to dictate to me what I should or shouldn’t be doing. But they don’t know what’s happening inside. Only I do. Only, you know, for you, it’s, you know, so honoring our truth is, I think the biggest thing we can do on the path.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, this whole thing about what spiritual, you know, you know, for some people $900 yoga pants is spiritual, right. But, you know, I think it was Nisargadatta, who said, he was talking about something you were just talking about, which is nature kind of running the show. And he said, you know how for you. Digestion is automatic and breathing is automatic, and the flow of the blood in your veins is automatic, and nature is taking care of those things. It said, Well, for me, my whole life is like that.
Chris Grosso: Right? Yeah. Beautiful. I mean, that’s not an easy place to get to. I think if it was more people would be doing it. Because once you do start to have that experience, you realize, wow, why did I waste so much time like trying to run the show? And then here I am saying like, I’ve had that experience, but still I go back quite often, and am trying to run the show. It’s just that deeply ingrained. So that’s why to me spiritual practice. is peeling away those layers, you know, opening ourselves up to that buddha mind or Christ consciousness or whatever, you know, we would care to call it, to having that, you know, be more of an experience, rather than using spiritual practice to add on to our identity, you know, and put more stuff on top of us. So.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, I had something I was gonna say there. Oh, yeah, you know how a few minutes ago, you were saying how it’s an evolving universe. And since the Big Bang, and there’s been this sort of evolving thing happening with, you didn’t elaborate but you know, stars forming stars exploding, hell, right, heavier elements getting created, eventually body’s getting. So there’s like this whole course of evolution that’s been happening over billions of years. And, you know, if you buy into the, to the metaphysics, you know, we as individuals, souls have been coming along for how, however many lifetimes, and so we’re working progress, you know, and if you feel like you’re at a certain point where you’re still seesaw in between, trying to be in control and relinquishing control, and so that’s just the stage you’re out, or we’re out, you know, and so you kind of have to be easy on yourself. And, you know, realize that, you know, I mean, I’m sure you feel like you’re better off than you were three years ago, and three years from now, you’ll probably be better off than you are. Now. I’ve always felt that way over the over the years, it’s like, if I could jump suddenly, from where I am now to where I was 10 years ago, I’m sure I experienced quite an unpleasant contrast. And yeah, you know, hopefully going forward the same. So it’s like, you just have to sort of take it easy, take it to the comms and just just a pre now there’s all this talk about being in the now, I don’t think being in the now means not realizing that there could be an even better future. It just means enjoying and accepting life as it is now, not not passing over the now for some glorious future enjoying it now, but you know, fully open the possibility that the future may be more glorious.
Chris Grosso: Yeah. And I really appreciate what you said about being easy on ourselves in this process, because that’s something I fell into early on, you know, I wasn’t coming to a place of still mind when I was meditating, or I had these negative feelings coming up all the things I thought weren’t supposed to be spiritual. And so I would really like come down on myself, like, you’re not spiritual, like you’re not having these experiences, I was really hard on myself. And so that’s such an important important point you made, it’s something I try to tell people that are new to the path is, oh, first and foremost, work on cultivating compassion for yourself in the process, because it’s not easy. But that in and of itself is one of the greatest things we can do. Because as we do that, then we can share that with other people. Such an important thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You know, that phrase, beginner’s mind that,
Chris Grosso: yes, I might beginner’s mind.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I used to when I first heard that phrase, I thought it had to do with a beginner whose mind might be, you know, scattered all over the place. But I’ve heard it used in other contexts since then, by people who might consider to be very advanced spiritually, and who say that, you know, relative to someone, we’re all beginners, you know, like Adyashanti says, I always have the attitude that I’m just a beginner. And you know, he’s a pretty advanced guy. So I think that’s a healthy attitude. It’s because it keeps one humble. Yeah, for one thing, you don’t think oh, I’m just so cosmic. I’m just Yeah. But and it also keeps you on your toes, because anybody can screw up. Right?
Chris Grosso: And I, I’ve always taken a part of that to me. Like, as we have that beginner’s mind, we’re still open, you know, because the moment we think we have we have it all figured out. You’ll often hear people say, Well, that’s the moment you’re the farthest away from the truth. Yeah. And I believe that’s absolutely true. You know, because who has it all figured out?
Rick Archer: Right? You know what the Bible says Pride goeth before a fall.
Chris Grosso: So true.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Chris Grosso: Yeah.
Rick Archer: So let’s talk about music a little bit. I know that music is very dear to you. Yeah, I used to be a drummer myself. Nice back in the 60s. Nice. And up until about 1970. In fact, my my band had tickets to Woodstock. And we didn’t go because we had some gig and we’re gonna go like a day late or something. But by that time, you couldn’t get in because the New York State Thruway was a parking lot, right? I still think God that would have been so much fun. Yeah, my wife thinks I’m living in the past but but anyway. Anyway, you’ve been a musician, you’re really into all kinds of music seems like you’re very eclectic from you mentioned all kinds of groups I’ve never heard of, but talk a little bit about music and what it means to you in terms of your spiritual path. Sure.
Chris Grosso: I mean, my first spiritual experiences though I didn’t recognize them as such at the time. I think we’re really when I was a about 13 or 14 years old, and I was first introduced to punk rock and hardcore music. I grew up in a rural town called East hatom. So it was a very small town, very heavily sports oriented, athletic kind of town. And I was a skateboarder who I was playing soccer but gave it up for music to learn to play various instruments. And I was I gotten into alternative music, the grunge scene and, and I still like a lot of that music. But then I shifted, I met someone in a different school who’s a couple years older than me. And he introduced me to punk hardcore, and this music. I’ll never forget the first time I heard this music, you know, it was the raw passion, it just, it like, shattered me, I was just like, wow, and in a good way, like it, I felt the passion, and these driving guitars and the singers and, and then I started reading some of the lyrics. And the lyrics were, you know, for the most part kind of consciously talking about, you know, just all sorts of different things, a lot of isms, you know, veganism, sexism, homophobia, you know, racism, and shining a light on on these things. And this is back in the early 90s. So for a kid, in this rural area, you know, being introduced this stuff, that was a big deal for me, you know, and, and, and I just fell in love with it. And, and the reason I feel like that was spiritual again, because I felt such a deep connection and a passion. And I still do to this day, I’m a huge fan of that music. The only other time I had such a deep experience with music was many years later, probably 10 years later, maybe a few years or even more than that. The first time I heard Krishna Das, and was introduced to kirtan. And I remember, I had heard about him through, as I mentioned, very heavy into rom Das, and he would often talk about Krishna Das, so I went to the library and they had I honestly don’t remember which album it was. But it was I took it out and I put it on and just within like 30 seconds of him singing the harmonium anchored me and but then his voice, and I didn’t know what he was saying, you know, because there’s in Sanskrit, but again, the passion, the raw passion just hit me the same way that punk hardcore did. And it was just such a deep experience. And so, years later, you know, I, I’ve been in bands, and I’ve played punk rock and indie rock, and all that stuff, and, and heavy, heavy music and I’ve had transcendent experiences, you know, there’s, there’s still I find a very transcendent thing happening there. But very much in the same way, I do a two piece kirtan project with my friend Alana. And the same way I’ve had wonderful transcendent experiences in that both performing and listening. So, you know, I again, going back to my saying earlier about people saying, you know, certain kinds of music aren’t spiritual. I say that’s BS, you know, I say, if it’s spiritual, for the individual listening, then it is spiritual period, if it’s connecting us with a deeper place, like I listened to very heavy droney music do me music and has this repetitious snus about it. And it like songs that are 15 minutes long, similar to kirtan songs, and probably 80% of that will be music and, and, you know, the I remember there were times before I was into spirituality, where I’d be driving about 40 minutes, I was going part time to college. And I’d put these albums on, and I would just lose myself in the music. And it wasn’t mindless driving, you know, where we’ll go somewhere. And we’ll be like, Wow, I don’t remember driving here. It was literally, I was just lost in this music and in this experience, and that’s spiritual to me. So I find and not just, I mean, I’m only talking about those two kinds of music, but I am an A, I appreciate you know, folk and jazz and, and all sorts of different things that anytime I feel that they cannot connect with me at a heart level, which is pretty much any music I listen to, because that’s why I listen to it. It’s a very spiritual thing.
Rick Archer: Get into classical at all.
Chris Grosso: Oh, yeah, sure. I mean, you know, the more traditional like Mozart and Beethoven, but I’m absolutely for sure.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, boy, lay down with a good pair of headphones and listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony.
Chris Grosso: Yes. Yes, I believe. Yeah. Yeah, very deep stuff, for sure.
Rick Archer: And as you probably know, in the Indian tradition, music is considered to be a spiritual tool and spiritual path, and big and dense. There’s a whole science to the vibratory nature of sound, and how certain sounds resonate with our physiology in different ways to produce different effects and so on. There are all kinds of healing modalities that involve sounds red and even a Mantra is a sound. I mean, it’s it might be just on the mental level, but thoughts are subtler aspects of the sense of hearing so it’s, it’s a sound and using it a certain way you can use sound as a vehicle for transcending.
Chris Grosso: Yes, absolutely. Like they teach in UTM Yeah, using that as the bringing you down to that boundless potential energy. That sound that anchors you. Yeah, yeah.
Rick Archer: I remember the first time I ever heard Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club and lying on the floor there was some chemicals involved but but boy really took me to a deep place.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, and that’s the beautiful thing is you know, music no matter what can do that. And I remember like even talking to Krishna Das interviewing him a few years ago and asking you know, and same to Beatles were very big for have Lama Surya Das. I’ve talked to him Beatles, The Beatles are a recurring theme. But, you know, it is the Hendrix and you know, there was so much happening, you know, that was such an important time for music, you know, you look at what’s happening in the world. Yeah, and it’s still to this day, I feel is extremely relevant. Bob Dylan’s lyrics, though, written back then, you know, I think are just as applicable in many scenarios today, as they were, then it’s timely and timeless. So yeah.
Rick Archer: And, and because, I would say, because music has this kind of impact and influence. Musicians in a way without it, perhaps without even knowing it, musicians are like, like spiritual teachers, or spiritual leaders. And filmmakers are too. I mean, you know, I know you’re into movies, and they’re, there’s so many films that have a major impact on the culture. Yeah. And the, it’s like, the filmmaker is just serving as a sort of a conduit. Right? For some kind of knowledge to be popularized, or Yeah, familiarized in the culture.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that’s great. Like music or, and movies. Again, hugely spiritual, even some TV shows. But you know, I, I am a big fan of the aesthetic appeal. And I know I just mentioned Lama Surya das what I remember, this is prior, I don’t know, four years ago, maybe I went up to him where he lives up in Massachusetts to interview him. And one of the first things I remember is, you know, his assistant, let me in and I was sitting on his couch, he was in the other room finishing something. And what I remember seeing was next was TV, a huge stack of DVDs, you know, and not just, I’m not like a spiritual, like, he had all sorts of stuff. And I was like, cool, you know, like, this is great to see that, you know, a big spiritual teacher, like, it just watches normal stuff, you know, and, you know, and it doesn’t have to always be spiritual entertainment is great. Entertainment is fun. And,
Rick Archer: well, it’s also very even, I mean, like you were saying, with music. There’s a lot of stuff which might not be explicitly or overtly spiritual. But if you if you have the eye to see it, it triggers all kinds of insights. I mean, oh, yeah. Well, you’re breaking bad fan, for instance,
Chris Grosso: huge. I was actually just this morning talking to my brother about that, because he, he didn’t watch it while it was on but he he’s been watching it on Netflix, and it has only eight episodes left to go. That show is amazing. I
Rick Archer: know. I even got the t shirt. I have the Los Pollos Hermanos t shirt. Oh, god. Yeah. But you know, something like that. I mean, if the if the field is fertile, it’s like that you watch something like that. And it stirs up all kinds of like perspectives and insights. I mean, it’s quite Shakespearean shakes. A lot of Shakespeare’s tragedies might not be considered spiritual, but they they have so much to say about the human dilemma and moral paradox. And, and that kind of thing.
Chris Grosso: Oh, absolutely. And I love finding that like movies like The Matrix, there’s the obvious relation or Star Wars, you know, there’s pretty obvious spiritual correlations, but things like Breaking Bad, you know, I’m into the show the leftovers right now, loving the show. It’s on HBO. And, I mean, that is a bit more like, as the religious undertones but, you know, seeing these incredible things and, and, but like you said, having the mind to see the correlations and, and help open you up to other possibilities. It’s everything in life, not just people, I really believe that all can be a teacher if we are open to it.
Rick Archer: So the lady I interviewed last week, Sally Kempton is, you know, her, she she’s great. Yeah, Kashmir, Shaivism, you know, and Tantra, and I have a lot to learn about that whole area. But from what I understand, it’s very much in line with what you’ve been saying, which is, you don’t just sort of dismiss the world as illusion you realize that the world is infused with the divine that totally permeated by the Divine. And there’s so many things that you know, like may not appear, quote, unquote, spiritual at first glance, but they are as much divine as anything else and have something to teach us.
Chris Grosso: I think that’s so huge, I mean, you know, Form is emptiness, emptiness is form it. So the form arises from the emptiness and the form is also, you know, emptiness itself. There’s something called panentheism where it is God isn’t all things, all things are in God like that. That’s what resonates to me like, seeing everything as an ornament of Spirit literally like everything. God is in everything, everything and God, it’s and there’s no ifs, ands or buts. It’s everything. So taking that attitude and using that lens, it, it’s tremendous for, for me, at least for continuing to open my heart and remember, like, if someone looks at me the wrong way, you know, and that old Chris, you know, it still pops up, like, you know, it’s like, who’s looking at me the wrong way. But now I’m in the practice of remembering the god nature in that purse. Yeah. And it’s just as much in them as it is in me. And so you know, helping to calm the ego, reactionary place down. That’s a huge teaching.
Rick Archer: God is looking at God.
Chris Grosso: Yes, exactly. And all things.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Who’s to say that it’s the wrong way? It’s just the way God’s looking at God.
Chris Grosso: Exactly. That’s that is it right there. Yeah. And
Rick Archer: actually, if this is a fascinating thing, for me, I think about this a lot, what you’re saying now, and if, as a way of understanding it more clearly, if we just look a little bit more closely at what’s going on, and science helps us do this. Look at anything I mean, look at the tip of your finger, look at take your glasses off and look at the plastic on a microscopic level, there is such perfect orderliness and, and structure and everything kind of working in a way that is incomprehensibly perfect and, and complex on a very subtle level. And it’s not only at the point, you’re looking at every point in this vast universe, and every point perfectly correlated with every other point, anything that happens, influences everything. Yeah. And so it’s like, if you look closely like that, and think about it a bit, it’s apparent that there’s just sort of a vast ocean of intelligence. That’s kind of all encompassing all permeating. And that just seems to be moving within itself and corrects all the activities you see are like currents within that ocean. Yeah. And it’s all such a kind of divine marvelous play, that it’s just jaw dropping.
Chris Grosso: It literally basically incomprehensible to the human mind. But yes, spirit itself. Oh, absolutely. And and, and that’s the intelligence, as I was saying earlier, that like, that’s what I tried to surrender to as best I can and allow that to be more of the guiding force, because it’s, from my experience, and what I believe in many of the great sages and rishis, you know, mystics kind of agree on that, that that’s what’s happening. And I’m, I’m not very well versed in physics. And I’m also not a big fan of the psuedo science that sometimes you hear. But you know, the little bit that I do know where you get down to that Planck scale and the subatomic particles and like you said, it’s, it’s all dancing within itself, you know, it’s a quantum soup, you know, of just potential energies that that’s, that’s what’s happening. How incredible is that?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Definitely doesn’t give you the impression that it’s random little billiard balls just sort of bouncing along, and somehow rather, right. The universe gets created.
Chris Grosso: That’s yeah. And again, like, and that’s obviously many people’s viewpoint. And I, I respect that I would never try to tell anyone else or wrong, but I just I don’t know, like, no, to me that that that does not resonate is any amount of truth at all. But again, that’s just me, and
Rick Archer: why wouldn’t you tell them they’re wrong, but I think I’d want to have a lively debate about it. And I’m always honing my ability to have that debate, because I just think it’s so darn important. Because if we regard the world as dead lifeless, material stuff that has no intrinsic divinity in it, then we can do whatever we want with it, you know, just rape the environment and pollute it and throw plastic in the ocean and just go on and on and on. And, I mean, someone heard this the other day, someone said that George Bush was being interviewed, and they’re asked him if he had any concerns about what, you know, the impact of his oil policies might have on the world three generations from now. And he said, doesn’t concern me, I won’t be here. So if we actually see the world as divine, and literally see it that way, not just philosophically, but if it becomes to some to whatever degree our actual living experience, then how can you harm it? You know, how can you it’s like you’re, well, maybe this isn’t a good analogy with you, but it’s like you’re cutting your own body.
Chris Grosso: No, I know. You’re saying Yeah. And you’re right. Yeah, I don’t even know what to say. But yes, I hear what you’re saying. Yeah,
Rick Archer: So it’s a really it’s the one of these paradigm shift things that I think the the culture is going through where we’re shifting from this materialistic paradigm to a more to a spiritual one. And and it has huge implications for everything for economics, environmental Siddhis, concern concerns, energy policies, everything.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, it really does seem like we are at the kind of do or die stage, you know, of where we’re either gonna get our act together, or we’re not, you know, and, and so long humanity, at least for this round, you know, who knows? Who knows what will happen after that, but the beautiful thing is that we still have time, to, to, to make the difference. And, and it does seem like on the global level, it is spirituality and spiritual awakening, and people’s interest in it is continuing to grow exponentially. But you know, is it too late? Will that be enough? Who knows?
Rick Archer: Maybe a little touch and go, but I think it’s rising to meet the challenge, you know, yes, yeah. And that’s why it’s rising.
Chris Grosso: Yeah. And that’s, and that’s, you know, why this, this work is so important that people are doing, you know, that, for me that I’m, I’m so grateful that I didn’t die, and that I’m allowed to be of service and try to help other people do that. And, you know, some people give me guff for the way I write, or that I swear, in my book, or things of that nature, but you know, I’m trying to reach some of the younger generation of true seekers that are just getting interested in this and, and, you know, in a way that I would have wanted to have been reached when I first started on the spiritual path. So absolutely. You know, that’s, that’s where my my dharma lies. And that’s why I take the approach I take, because especially this new generation coming up, you know, it kind of lies in their hands right now. So yeah,
Rick Archer: yeah, I have this good friend, whose daughter I taught to meditate many years ago, unfortunately, she was killed in a car accident. But her her mother and I, this, this friend of mine have stayed in touch over the years. And she has a grandson now, who is very bright kid, he has an IQ of 140. And he’s just totally destroying himself. And I, you know, just drugs and alcohol and just crazy, crazy behavior and can’t hold a job. And all that night, I told her about this interview, I’m going to do with you. And I told her, I’m going to send her your book, when we’re done. She’s gonna watch the interview and hope and pass it on to him. But it’s like, we all have a role to play. And I think the role you’re playing is critical for a surprisingly large percentage of the population, you know?
Chris Grosso: Yeah, well, I mean, that’s been the most, the thing that’s warmed my heart the most is that, and that’s a big part of who I wrote this book to, are those people that are still struggling, you know, like I said, it’s not specifically just the recovery book talks a lot about spirituality in general. But that, you know, my experience is so heavily rooted in addiction, you know, so to receive letters, not just from people struggling, but I’ve received a lot of, or emails and such from family members, you know, that didn’t understand what was going on. So to even be able to be of service to them and help shine a bit of a light on what maybe their son or daughter or niece or nephew is going through is wonderful. But then there’s still the tragic stories. You know, I did my my first book signing here in town, before the book came out. And I met a really lovely older woman who was a friend of a friend of my mother’s. And her son is was struggling with addiction. And so she came up and I had a really lovely conversation with her afterwards. And she told me a bit about her son. And so I wrote my info down in the book and said, You know, I’d be happy to talk to him, and just let them know. So she, from what I believe she must have given him the book and time went by and unfortunately, it was a month if that later, my mom let me know that her husband found him dead in their bathroom from an overdose with a needle still on his arm. So that’s just the reality of what’s happening, you know, is that there’s always hope. But it’s, it’s not always, you know, it’s not Hollywood, it’s not always a beautiful, positive outcome. People die.
Rick Archer: They do. And, and these are not throwaway people, either. No such thing as a throwaway person, but as you are a testament to there’s a lot of people who were, you know, lying in alleys and sitting in rehab centers, and, you know, who are just brilliant spiritual people who are just kind of in a rut. Yes. Yeah. And, you know, everyone deserves to be helped out of that rut.
Chris Grosso: Yes. I mean, there’s some of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, not just in rehab or detox, but when I go back in and speak now at detoxes or rehabs and I get to chat with these people that are still struggling and and I almost wish they could, that and that’s part of what I learned to do was hold on to that, you know, when you get to that place, you’re very vulnerable and very raw, because you’re so broken. And that’s a place that I’ve stayed in touch with, you know, as we’ve kind of already said, and that’s been a big difference in my spiritual path. And so getting taken neck with these people at that heart level. But what happens is a lot of people like in my case, once they start getting healthier and getting back on track, that connection with that level of vulnerability starts to close up and our heart armor starts to cover it again. And you know, we start to take our well back and and, boy, though, I just wish people could really stay in touch there. But it’s not easy. You know, it’s a scary thing to be so intimate with our pain like that. But
Rick Archer: well, I think if you kind of have an active spiritual pursuit like you do, it keeps tilling the ground, you know, keep it Yes. Keeps it soft.
Chris Grosso: Yes, absolutely. It’s just a matter of staying committed to that which it’s easy to lose sight of.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One thing that I wonder, I was actually in a rehab thing myself for a while and went after I had, I had already learned to meditate, but I decided I want to just do everything I could, you know, to get it together. And there was this attitude of, well, once an addict, always an addict, you know, you know, 50 years from now you’re going to be saying, I’m a recovering alcoholic, or I’m or I’m a recovering addict, or something. And I had to kind of scratch my head at that. Because even at that point, I was beginning to feel like, I am done with that, you know, it’s behind me. And you don’t want to get cocky and think it could never happen to me again. But I really felt like I’m feeling so good all the time, much better than drugs ever made me feel temporarily, that I can’t imagine taking them because they’ve made me feel worse again. So why would I want to make myself feel worse? You know, it was like, you know, poking your eye with a stick or something? Why would you want to do it? And and it’s borne out that way. You know, there’s never been even a slight iota of desire for anything like that for decades and decades now. So I mean, maybe I wasn’t a very hardcore case, by any means. I was, you know, pretty lightweight. But did you kind of like buy into this idea that you’re going to say I’m a recovering alcoholic to when you’re 80 years old? Are you really feel like you can sort of be totally beyond that? Or maybe at a certain point? If not,
Chris Grosso: yeah, this is a tricky, tricky topic, and what I was actually writing about yesterday, so it’s very timely, that you bring it up. The disease of addiction is a very real disease. I have known people that have been sober for over 20 years, and they go back out and they think, you know, I’ve got it licked. They have one beer, and then a week, a month later, they’re losing everything, you know, like, it’s just, it’s a very real thing. Once you cross the line from abuse to addiction, you just can’t safely use again, it’s it’s you know, it’s that’s that’s a scientific, you know, fact, American Medical Association recognizes as a disease, it is what it is. The problem, I think, is that, when I, you know, I still go to some some meetings, 12 step meetings I want to do out of respect, if I speak, I identify myself as a recovering alcoholic or addicts depending on what fellowship I go to, but I do it just out of respect for the fellowship. I think part of the problem is and Carolyn Mies talks about wound ology, I love that, you know, because she says, We get so wrapped up in these identities of our hurt and our pain, and that’s just not addicts, but people in general, that have suffered various traumas, incest, rape, and, and that’s not to make light of any of these things, because they are extremely serious. But when we get completely wrapped up in this identity, and then, you know, we start to get that sympathy from others and support, which is a very good thing, we need that. But but we can kind of then get locked into this comfortable becoming comfortable with our discomfort in a way because we’re, we have these new identities, and it’s comfortable to own these identities. It’s, you know, there’s familiarity, or comfort and familiarity. And that stunts, our healing process, you know, because we get locked into this identity. And in order if if we really healed ourselves, then the identity would be gone. We’re not holding on to it anymore. So there was a great movie, or documentary called The anonymous people that was recently released, and I believe it’s still streaming on Netflix. Greg Williams, actually, from here in Connecticut did it. And he talks about the problem, not only one of us, of people recovery, you know, hiding anonymously, you know, behind that, but the label, you know, I am, I am an addict, I’m an alcoholic. As I said earlier, it’s tricky, you know, because I do recognize that that’s something I will live with. I’ve Trust me, I’ve tried time and again, to go back to that way, you know, replacing one thing for other all just do marijuana, you know, just smoke pot, or, you know, I’ll just do pills instead of drinking every single time it’s inevitably led me back and every time it gets worse, it’s a snowball effect. So I honor that I have the disease of addiction, and I have to do what I have to do to maintain that which for me, it’s an integral recovery. I do go to some meetings still, I you know, I go running that’s a big part of it. I meditate. You know, I I am active with other people in various, you know, Sangha settings, things of that nature. So that that’s how it is for me. I don’t define myself. However, as a recovering addict, it is part of my life. But I’m not going to get wrapped up in that identity, just as I don’t want to get wrapped up in the identity of a spiritual person, you know, like, it’s just another label, it’s just another identity, you know, we’re placing these things in and putting ourselves into boxes. And I’m not saying don’t label yourself, do whatever you’re gonna do, like, but I just tried to live life in the awareness of these various aspects of myself and my interests, but not attached to that identity anymore. Things I appreciate, and things that are important to me and I’m passionate about, but they’re just things, you know, yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, you’re a musician, you’re a skateboarder, you’re exactly, you know, you’re a husband and a father. You’re right. And so, you know, that’s one crutch, you had to bear cross The cross, you had to bear. And it was a big one. But it’s obviously it doesn’t define your whole identity,
Chris Grosso: right? These are all roles I play and I’m very happy to play them, you know, the father and the husband and skateboarder, all of it. Like they’re, they’re all things that I am passionate about, but they’re their roles, you know, so instead of identifying, being stuck in that role as they’re happening, I do my best to come from that place of loving, witnessing awareness, you know, that’s aware of what’s happening. And, and, and I fail at it often, you know, I do still buy into that role. And I will, you know, be caught up in that. But again, you know, I will, I will remind more, or remember more frequently that I’m feeding into this role and just take a gentle step back. And with that, it’s just, when, when you’re in that place of not identifying solely as a role, I find I’m allowed to be there in such a more complete way with the person you know, my hearts more open, my mind is more open. I’m there you know, I’m not stuck in the role that makes me see through that lens. So but again, I’m not saying that that’s always the case. Because it’s I don’t want to give people the wrong idea. You know, it’s I still play the roles and I get caught up and um, and as with everything I keep coming back to this I don’t mean to keep repeating myself, but practice, you know, just continue to do the best I can.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So how do you support yourself? You mentioned that you you’re the spiritual director of the sanctuary Scheper fields is that like your main?
Chris Grosso: No, I that’s I do by writing. I live a very modest life. That’s a volunteer thing, which I’m actually as same for we started moving next month, up to Ottawa, us. Yeah, Ottawa. So I will be leaving that wonderful group behind, but for three years, I’ve been honored to be on that board to there. But really, it’s writing workshops, you know, those kinds of things.
Rick Archer: So like, if you write for one of these magazines, or the Huffington Post or all these other things, you get paid something for it.
Chris Grosso: Not all of them, some of them you do, but not all of them
Rick Archer: your book out some royalties, obviously, yeah,
Chris Grosso: you get paid or i Luckily, I got paid for that. And I got paid for my second book. That’s not out yet. But I’m working on that now. And, and again, the workshops and things of that nature. So luckily, though, again, I just live a very modest life. My, my wife has a good job with the with the government. She’s a very artistic lady, and I know she’d rather be more focused on that. But you know, she does a good job as well. But she
Rick Archer: moved to Ottawa. how’s she going to do that? How
Chris Grosso: is she going to do? So that’s why I’m moving to Ottawa as she lives in Ottawa. Well,
Rick Archer: she’s Canadian. Okay. I thought she was in Connecticut with you? No,
Chris Grosso: right. No, no, no. And that’s a whole nother story. But the long short of that is she we met a few years ago, you know, she was reading some of the stuff I had been writing for various sites. And I always get really nice or not always, but I often get really nice responses from people. And I’m always sure to respond. And we just hit it off. And I remember actually, the first time I ever spoke to her, I was out at elephant journal conference in Estes Park, my friend Alana and I were performing kirtan. And I called and I talked to her and I just like, had this really great feeling. So we decided she’s going to come visit, which she did, and we hit it off. And we just kind of knew and, but what I found out was, you know, as I mentioned earlier, I had a DUI. And in Canada, they’re a felony offense, which neither of us knew. And so the whole first week, I proposed we got married, I’m gonna be the very condensed version. But for the first 15 months of our marriage, I had to stay here in Connecticut. And she would come down every few months to visit me because I couldn’t cross the border with that DUI. So just about two months ago, finally, I was approved on the temporary residency permits, and I can go yada, yada, yada, but so moving to Canada, and I’m very excited to be there. But I’ll still be here in the States because as I said, I do workshops and things of that nature. So I’ll be traveling quite a bit.
Rick Archer: So I have a friend up in Ottawa who runs something called the Shinya Center. To her, which is yoga and Ayurvedic cooking and all kinds of stuff like that, I’ll send you a link to it. And that’s a shout out for for the junior center also. Yeah. Great. So what else? Haven’t we covered? Anything else that you’d like to talk about that I haven’t thought to discuss with you?
Chris Grosso: I feel like we’ve run the gamut. Which is all great. I appreciate it. Everything we’ve talked about. No, I mean, I think we’ve covered most of what’s in the book, which is most of what I’m passionate about speaking about right now in MMA. I am working on my second book, which I’m excited about. But that that’s, you know, that’s not coming out till next year, so I can maybe reconvene at another date and talk about other things. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Well, the book was a lot of fun. As I mentioned, I read it, I didn’t read all the back section where you’re talking about all the different techniques, because I sort of feel like I’ve got a pretty good toolkit, sure. But the rest of it I read and its entirety, which consists of all sorts of little short essays about things, and which are quite insightful. And it has these little I forget what these are called the QR code, QR codes where you can, you know, just pop your iPhone on there or something and listen to a song or whatever. So those are throughout the book.
Chris Grosso: Yeah, I was really excited that they were open to doing that, because I really always want to give people as much as I can. So I, you know, I had links to full interviews I had done with people in there, both video and audio, I recorded a complete album, that’s a free download in there. And that just threw QR codes. But in the back, there’s also a link there, you can download it. So I was psyched that they were into doing that, you know, because it really someone said to me, like your book took me months to get there not just not to read it, but to get through all the content. And that made me so happy to hear because that’s I really want to give people a lot, a lot of material to work with. So yeah.
Rick Archer: So in terms of ways that people can kind of plug into you or you plug in with them. You could travel and give talks, I imagine at any kind of rehab or, you know, substance abuse sort of situation. And there would be that. And you you acute your kirtan musician, along with this Alana lady. And so you played at Yoga Journal, and probably a bunch of other things. So there’s, that’s something else people can invite you to do. Do you do any kind of individual counseling with people over Skype or anything like that?
Chris Grosso: I haven’t yet because I was talking to someone recently about that, who’s helped who’s newly helping me with booking more events. But you know, I was actually in school for substance abuse counseling, and I dropped out just shy of getting my degree, because during my internship, especially in Connecticut, it was just so much paperwork, you barely got to actually work with the clients themselves. And that’s what I wanted to do. So I don’t, it’s something I’m going to revisit at some point. But you know, not being certified. It’s not that I don’t feel capable of doing it. But I don’t know that I would necessarily want to put myself out there. In that way. As of right now. People often email me with questions and you know about certain life situations, I always do my best to respond and give them whatever feedback I can.
Rick Archer: I mean, a lot of people might be able to relate to you know, and even though you don’t have the official credentials, might kind of be able to derive some kind of inspiration from a conversation with you if you have time for it. Yeah,
Chris Grosso: yeah, absolutely. And like I said, it’s something I’m definitely considering doing. My schedule is pretty full, though, like, you know, with the traveling with with getting this manuscript done, I have to have it done by November 1. So that’s really time consuming. Yeah, it’s right around the corner. I’ll be at Sedona world wisdom days. I’m really excited about that in January. That’s a big conference with Barbara Marx. Hubbard will be there who I’m going to interview her in a couple of weeks. Oh, great. Yeah. She’s tremendous. So, you know, so I have plenty of stuff like that going on. And so it’s, but yes, if anyone is interested in contacting me, all my info is on the website. And, and I do travel and do all that fun stuff. So yeah,
Rick Archer: and your website is the only spiritualist.com. And I’ll be linking to that from batgap.com. You’ll have you’ll have your own page and BatGap as everybody does, and will there’ll be a link to your book, Amazon, I guess and link to your website, little bio, a few other odds and ends like that. And so anybody can get in touch. I imagine. You’ll experience a bit of the BatGap bumped after this interview.
Chris Grosso: Cool. I look forward to it. Yeah. Like I said, I love you know, the people you’ve interviewed. I’m honored to be on that list. So I’m sure your your viewers, your fans. I would love to connect with them. I’m sure that resonate with the majority of them, if not all of them. So great.
Rick Archer: Let me just make a couple of General concluding remarks. So first of all, thanks again, Chris, for thank you for this conversation. I think it really flowed. Yeah, thanks. Yeah, you’re an easy guy to talk to. I mean, he just kind of like a very creative, intelligent mind.
Chris Grosso: I appreciate that.
Rick Archer: And I also appreciate your kind of honesty and down to earth goodness. You know. I think that maybe it’s something you really learned from from the ordeals you went through and from the, the, the method you use to recover from those ordeals. But, you know, it serves you well, and it really shows and I think it will continue to serve you. Well. Thank you very much. Yeah. So just general remarks, I have been talking with Chris Grasso, whom was whose name I just pronounce correctly. And this is an ongoing series of interviews, there have been about 250 of them so far, you can find them firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a past interviews menu item. And if you pop that down, there’s like four different ways that they’re indexed. And there’s also a few future interviews menu where you’ll see the upcoming ones. There’s a link to an audio podcast on each of the interview pages. So you’ll see that near the bottom of Chris’s interview, and a lot of people subscribe to it on iTunes. There’s a Donate button, which is so far the sole means of support for Buddha at the Gas Pump. It enables us to devote as much time as we do to it but we’re not quite at the place of being able to devote full time to it, which we’d like to do. I say we because my wife is also very much involved. And what else there is a place to be to sign up to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted. So feel free to do that. So thanks for listening or watching and we’ll see you next week. Next week will be Mukti who is sure it’s not only claim to fame, but happens to be happens to be Adyashanti’s wife and the week after that Barbara Marx Hubbard see that. Thanks, Chris. Thank you