Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually Awakening people. We’ve done over 650 of them now. If this is new to you, and you’d like to check out some of the previous ones, go to BatGap.com and look under the past interviews’ menu. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So, if you appreciate it, and we’d like to help support it, there are PayPal buttons on the website and there’s also a page explaining some alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Clare Goldsberry. Clare has been a lifelong student of religion and spiritual traditions. Having been reared Protestant Christian, her goal was to study for the ministry after completing her BA in journalism at Arizona State University. However, a few semesters into those studies in a cooperative study program with Claremont School of Theology, she was called away into the study of Buddhism. For the past 27 years, she has been engaged in the practice of Buddhism, as well as the study of Hinduism, Gnosticism, theosophy, philosophy from the ancients to modern philosophers, and modern Christian religions. She has even added the study of quantum physics to the mix after noticing that quantum, modern quantum ideas parallel those of Buddhism as the science of mind. She has also followed her inner voice, as it is that call that is the true call on her path. She teaches classes on all of those topics and tries to encourage people to follow their own inner light, their own inner voice, and not to be led astray. The questions are always more important than the answers, she tells her students. So welcome, Clare.
Clare Goldsberry: Thank you, Rick. Thank you for having me.
Rick Archer: I think mostly today, we’re going to be talking about death, because you wrote a book about it, but we could also veer off in other topics if people have other questions, or if you have some thoughts that come to mind, other things you’d like to discuss as we go along. Last week, we, was also about, actually not last week, was about near-death experiences. I interviewed Penny Sartori. I guess BatGap is in a little mini goth full on phase or something or talking about death. But this won’t be near death, this will be full on death we’re going to talk about today.
Clare Goldsberry: On life too.
Rick Archer: Right, on life too. I read your book, so I know why we’re going to be talking about this. But maybe you should start us out with, why you wrote the book you wrote, and you give us the title of it. I haven’t mentioned it yet. And how you got interested enough in this topic to write a whole book about it?
Clare Goldsberry: Well, I wrote The Illusion of Life and Death, Mind Consciousness and Eternal Being, as the result of my significant other, Brent, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and in 2002, about September of 2002. And at that point, I’ve been studying Buddhism for about six or seven years. I didn’t realize it at the time, but this was going to be my real-life lesson in what I had been studying for those years. Sometimes we can know something intellectually, but then when life jumps up and hits us in the face, then we’re called on to really, do I really know this? Am I really ready for this? Or is it just so much intellectual understanding? I began writing kind of a journal that I would write down several times a week as Brad’s illness went on, and he had surgery first but denied any other treatment. He did not want to become nothing but an experiment in cancer treatments. He didn’t want to just have to go to doctor’s appointments all the time. He wanted to live his life. Even if it would be short. He wanted to live it. He didn’t want to be involved with, trying to fight it or trying to cure it because there is no cure for esophageal cancer. So, I began to write this and the lessons that I was learning, the lessons that Brent taught me as it went on. And ultimately, after he died in April of 2004, I looked at all of this journal material that I had, the funny stories, he was a really funny guy. I thought, maybe people can learn something from this because I felt like that the Buddhist philosophy, and I do call it a philosophy. I don’t think anyone has to be a Buddhist practitioner to learn from Buddhism some of the practices that help make life easier to live and more fearless, I might add. But I looked at that, and I thought maybe somebody could be helped by this. Maybe, and as a writer, obviously, that was my intent to really, eventually get the book out there. Which I did fortunately through Monkfish Publishing. I’m very grateful for them, and the help that they’ve provided. Hopefully, this book will be able to help people have an easier life, a fearless life, and a fearless death. And I think that’s important for us. To have a good life is to have a fearless life and not having a fear of death. I think fear of death actually interferes with our ability to live a fearless life. And I think we’ve seen that more and more in the world in the last few years.
Rick Archer: Well, in most of the spiritual traditions, there’s, they deal with death in one way or another. We can get into discussing how they may differ. I mean, obviously, a lot of Christianity seems to emphasize that, well, you’re either going to heaven forever, or you’re going to hell forever, and there’s no in between and there’s no coming back. I mean, this is your one life, and then that’s it. And obviously, Buddhism and Hinduism have a different view that you don’t stay anywhere forever, you may go to heaven or hell, but it’s not going to be forever, and you are coming back, if you’re not fully enlightened. Personally, I resonate more with that kind of perspective. But I think even Christianity, there’s a famous painting, I don’t know, whether it’s by Rembrandt or somebody, but it’s a picture of some monk contemplating a skull, just sort of holding a skull in his hand and looking at it. It’s probably not Rembrandt, but why would he be doing that? I’ll let you answer the question.
Clare Goldsberry: Well, I think one of the things that Buddhists focus on is, remember death. It’s kind of something that every day, remember death. There’s a lot of other sayings that we kind of, philosophize on, or concentrate on, on a daily basis. But I think the one, remember death, and I think that’s what that painting probably recognizes, is that by looking at a skull, remember death, that all is impermanent. Change is just a part of life. We’re not going to stay like you said anywhere forever. And remembering death can help us live a better life. I think that’s the important thing is to be able to embrace change, and to have an idea that all is impermanent. That way, we’re not surprised when stuff happens.
Rick Archer: Some people might think remember death sounds morbid or depressing or something, but I find it quite the opposite. I mean there’s that saying, eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow, we may die. My take on it would be, no, don’t just eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die, and you should be doing something serious with your life while you’re here. Not to say that you can’t have fun, but obviously, there’s a lot of spiritual progress that can be made and you don’t want to just squander life in transitory pleasures.
Clare Goldsberry: Right. That’s right. A lot of people do think that some of the Buddhist philosophies tend to be pessimistic. And I find myself often having to explain these things to people, why they’re not pessimistic and why they actually help us to live a better life and help us to have a better death actually. If you remember death, you’re not going to be really surprised when it happens. I think that learning to make these things a practice helps put a different spin on it. It’s not remember death because, yeah, tomorrow I may die, but remember death because that means today is very important. I’ve been given this day and I should really try to live it to the best of my ability and try to help people and try to be the best person I can be today.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, to use a metaphor analogy, a college student knows that he’s going to have final exams at the end of the term, and so what does he do? Does he just party all term? And then hope he’s going to pass the exams? Or does he buckle down and study? So, I just think that life is a precious opportunity. We’re here to make spiritual progress. If we understand that, then we’ll just apply ourselves to it, which again, doesn’t mean not having fun in life. You don’t have to sort of wear a hair shirt and beat yourself with birch branches. But there’s so many things we can do to make hay while the sunshine so to speak.
Clare Goldsberry: Right. I think, everything is just how people look at it. And I think it’s how you’ve been raised too. We’ve all been raised in different religions, different belief systems, different philosophies. And I had a lot of questions when I was a kid. There were a lot of things about life and why people seem to have different opportunities in life, or we would have these mission nights every once in a while, at church. We had missionaries over in what was then the Belgian Congo, back in the day. I would look at those children. I go, well, now, okay, my mom and dad tell me that God loves everybody. But why are those children where they are? Why don’t they have all the same wonderful things that I do? Everything I wanted, ponies and, I was always, I was a lucky girl, I guess. Or maybe karmically, I got the life that I created through my past lives. But it was just trying to figure this out. Why is everything so different? And ultimately, that ended up being the answer, was in my study of Buddhism, the idea of karma and reincarnation, and the two go together, because it’s very important. They have a saying in Buddhism, if you want to know what your previous lives were, like, look at your current life. If you want to know what your next life will be, look at your current life. This idea that we’re constantly creating the life we have, through our karmic implications, our karmic intentions. I think that’s something to remember, too, that what I’m doing today is actually the creation of tomorrow. And what I have today is the creation from my past lives, and even from this life and the choices I’ve made, and the paths that I’ve taken, and even the questions I’ve asked that have come to me in amazing answers.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and let’s go into this a little bit, because I can think of some objections that I’ve heard from people about the idea of karma and reincarnation. For instance, when your partner Brett, was it Brett or Brent?
Clare Goldsberry: Brent
Rick Archer: When he had esophageal cancer, now someone might have said, oh, bad karma, dude, you must have done something bad. But we have all kinds of karma. And it fructifies at various times. I mean, sometimes people are kind of accusatory when somebody has something like that, oh they must have bad karma, and it seems, non, uncompassionate. When somebody’s really going through something that’s the last thing you want to be doing is blaming them for what they’re going through. And I’ll let you respond to that before I continue.
Clare Goldsberry: I think there is a lot of misunderstanding about karma. Karma is just action. You look at the Sanskrit word, it means action. Even in Christianity, you reap what you sow. Jesus even said that in the New Testament, you reap what you sow. So, there are consequences to all of our actions, body, speech, and mind are the three that we’re supposed to focus on. But all of our actions and in Buddhism, there’s right action, there’s right intention, there’s right speech. The Eightfold Noble Path kind of outlines those. So, it doesn’t, people think karma means, like retribution, that you must have done something really bad, because now you have cancer, and not necessarily retribution. I don’t even like that word in connection with karma. Because karma is just action. All actions have results or consequences. It’s like Richard Smalley, who wrote the foreword to my book, one time said, Yeah, everybody wants to know why bad things happen to good people. But nobody ever wonders why good things happen to bad people. I thought that was great. It’s like, okay, why do good things happen to bad people, we’re talking karma. It’s kind of a neutral thing. And we’re all responsible for it. Nobody is responsible for what we have. I don’t think that necessarily someone having cancer is as a result of that person necessarily. I think that, for example, I think Brent’s cancer, and he never felt that way. He just always felt like, that was his path. That was what was supposed to be. Was it for him to learn? Maybe. But he was actually wiser about his path at that time than I was. I was the first one to, when the doctor said, oh, yes, the test came back. You have esophageal cancer. And I was just like, stunned, I was like, I’ve never known anybody with cancer before. I had no idea what was in store, what would happen. And Brett was just like, well, this should be another excellent adventure. Really. I mean, maybe I had lessons that I needed to learn. We have these inner connections with people that we meet along our path. Nothing is accidental, or random, which quantum physicists, other scientists may disagree with that. They believe in randomness of nature, and so forth. But I think that everything that comes to us has meaning and purpose, even death. Even illness and death, I think have meaning and purpose, but it’s how we look at it. It’s what are we seeing in this? And are we really trying to see what’s in this for us? Or are we just going to sit there and go, oh, woe is me, why me? If not, why me, it’s Wow, wow, me? Am I lucky to have this happen to me in my life? And what can I gain out of it?
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, there’s a lot in what you just said. The thing about everything having meaning and purpose, it doesn’t mean to my understanding that if you stub your toe, for instance, you need to sit down and go what does this mean? It’s not like there’s some deep significance to every little thing that happens. But nothing but I totally agree with you, least from my understanding of things, that nothing happens arbitrarily or meaning, just accidentally or anything else. The underlying presumption of that, is that, and the whole underlying presumption of karma, because if you think about it, who keeps track of karma? I mean, there are 8 billion people in the world all doing things and then there’s animals that have accidents or get eaten and all kinds of stuff going on, is that karma? And who keeps track of it? Well, my understanding, and obviously I’m not asserting this as a dogma is that we are swimming in an ocean of intelligence, that God is referred to sometimes as omniscient. We’re swimming in an ocean of intelligence and which functions at every level of creation from the subatomic to the intergalactic, and every, nothing is accidental. There’s a quote from some physicist, I don’t have it at my fingertips, but he said something like if a single molecule is out of place, that there is no God. In other words, everything is functioning in complete, what’s the best word? With, in complete perfection, with relationship to everything else. There’s a verse in the Bhagavad Gita that says that karma is unfathomable by human intellects. Because it’s just too complex. You can’t figure out. But there are, there is higher intelligence in this universe than human intellects. And there is a level of intelligence at which all of this can be monitored or orchestrated. Not like God is sort of up at some switchboard pulling strings, but just all pervading intelligence takes care of it.
Clare Goldsberry: Right. I would agree, I think this idea, even when I was a child, I used to think, okay, now who’s keeping track? Is somebody up there with a pen and paper, and they’re what, Clare did this today?
Rick Archer: Santa Clause watching whether you’re naughty or nice
Clare Goldsberry: When you die, they get out the book, and they say, well, lookie here. And that never made sense to me. I always thought that that can’t possibly be right. But I think when you look at karma, it’s really our responsibility. And that’s kind of the difference between the liberation in the eastern philosophical sense and salvation in the Judeo-Christian sense. Liberation is, you are responsible for your actions, you’re responsible for your actions of body, speech, and mind. And so, you create all the karmic mutations throughout all your lifetimes that will eventually ripen into the life you have in this present lifetime. Salvation is something that is done for you by someone else. And so, I would rather kind of be responsible for my own, if I experience Nirvana, or heaven than to have somebody else judge me, based on the book, whatever book that is out there. And you’re right, I mean, we live in an intelligent universe, we live in an informed universe, as the quantum physicists tell us. And that information is there. Everything exists in potentiality, until an observer observes, and then it becomes actuality. So, it’s that intelligence that really guides us and helps us through our lifetimes without all this judging and dying, going to heaven going to hell, who’s reading the book. Who’s going to judge me, it’s me. And to me, that gives me a lot of freedom to be who I am, and to make my decisions and to make choices that helped me on the path, that pushed me along the spiritual path. And I think that’s important.
Rick Archer: Yeah, when people have near death experiences, and have life reviews, it’s like, okay, here’s what you did. And you judge it. It’s not like we’re judging you now. It’s more like, okay, here’s what, here’s how this person felt when you did that. And here’s how his family felt as a result of what you did to him. You get to experience or feel, what the ramifications of your action. And just one more thing on what you just said, yes, everyone is one’s own responsibility. But that doesn’t mean we don’t get help. I mean, I believe in guardian angels, for instance, they’re sort of helping out, nudging us this way and that. And I guess that’s my point. And also, the whole idea of grace, there’s a certain, some people say that final Enlightenment is really a matter of grace. There’s nothing you could possibly do, but you just kind of, maybe you could do something to get yourself up to the threshold, but it’s grace that brings you across. Anyway, go ahead.
Clare Goldsberry: Well, that that could be too. And you’re right. I mean, there are many times in my life that I have been given answers. I’ve had doors open, that I never thought were possible. I don’t know if it’s a guardian angel that has protected me when I’ve had things happen. Or whether it’s the intelligence of the universe that guides me to where I need to go, People often ask me, well, how did how did you get to be this and do what you’re doing? And I said, I don’t know. I didn’t have any plans. When I was 10 years old, I was sitting back in the woods in my thinking tree by the creek and just kind of thinking like kids do and then they go, oh, I wonder what I’ll be when I grow up. For the first time in my life, my inner voice came on. It was audible, but it wasn’t externally audible. It was internally audible. And it said, you’re going to be a writer, Clare. My inner voice always calls me by name, I don’t know whether that’s to get my attention, or let me know that he’s, it’s really talking to me and not somebody else. But you’re going to be a writer, Clare, and I went, wow. And I thought, how interesting. And at that time, I thought, well, that’s God talking to me because I was raised to believe in an anthropomorphic God, a God that looked like my father, or some other male figure. It was God talking to me. As I got older, and it would happen periodically, just from time to time, I’d be thinking about a problem or worried about something. And all of a sudden, I might look at something just off, and all of a sudden, the answer comes. So I do believe there’s guidance, there’s intelligence that gives us opportunities. I think we know where we’re supposed to go. Sometimes we just don’t know how to get there. And I think that’s where the guidance comes in. It’s like, okay, we’re going to help you get there. And I think that’s been very helpful for sure. No, we’re not here by ourselves.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and even if we think of God as an oceanic, all-pervading field of intelligence, that that ocean has waves, and we’re a wave, we’re kind of an instrument of the divine in our own right. There are other instruments, maybe some of which are not visible to most people, subtler. And so, if angels exist, and so on, those are also you could say, impulses of that unbounded intelligence that perform specific functions. Some of their functions may actually have to do with life on Earth, helping out human beings. Anyway, that’s the way I see it.
Clare Goldsberry: I would agree. We all have different perspectives, and our lives, how we live our lives and the things that happen help develop those perspectives. And, yeah, that’s, it’s a big ocean, that’s for sure.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And just the way I phrased that a minute ago, obviously, I’m not stating a dogma, I’m just presenting it as a hypothesis for which there seems to be a fair amount of information. But it’s not necessary for anybody to believe this. It’s just, play with it and see how it fits.
Clare Goldsberry: Yeah, I would agree, and that’s why I say the questions are always more important than the answers because everything you read or everything you listen to, it’s not necessarily going to give you the answers. And sometimes I think that people really get involved in a search that they believe will give them the answers. The answers are going to come from out there somewhere. If I just listen to the right, Zoom show, or the right, you’re the right person, or go to the right spiritual center or church, and listen to the right preacher, that I’m going to get all the answers. I think that’s, I think that can be more harmful than helpful. I’ve even known people that go to the Buddhist center that believe that, oh, Buddhists have all the answers, so I’ll go to this Buddhist Center. If I just learn how to sit in the right posture and say the right words, and do 100 mantras, I will find the truth. Then they get disappointed when it doesn’t happen. And they go, well, what happened? Well, maybe you’re looking out there when you should be looking in here. Because as Jesus once said the kingdom of heaven is within it’s not without and the same goes for truth. I think that the truth is within, which is why I wrote my little book many years ago, The Teacher Within.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think people understandably want security, they want some kind of certainty if that’s possible. And life is wild and crazy. And we want meaning we want some kind of anchor to stabilize our life. And naturally, we’re accustomed to looking for everything outside, so that’s where we initially begin to look. I remember when I was a teenager, and just starting to think about things in some muddled way, I would latch on to somebody, and I’d think, well, this guy knows where it’s at, to use 60s terminology, which is what the time period I’m talking about. And then after a while, I’d think, oh, he doesn’t know where it’s at. But this guy over here knows where it’s at. I think gradually over the years, it kind of shifted to more of an internal frame of reference.
Clare Goldsberry: Right. Well, I know one of my big great awakenings was the whole Jim Jones thing, down in Guyana. It was interesting because I was raised as a mainstream Protestant Christian and the disciples of Christ Christian church, and Jim Jones had actually become a minister and a disciple of Christ Christian church. When I read about all that was going on in Guyana, and how these people, 900 and some, of them drank cyanide Kool Aid. That just, I was just stunned. I began to ask myself, how do people believe in another person, to the extent that they will drink cyanide Kool Aid? Or that they will give that to their children because they were told to? How does that happen? How can people believe that this person out here has all the answers, and I really began to explore that. But it didn’t keep me from believing that when the Mormon church came along, I believed they had all the answers. It was funny, because the minister at the Christian church where I was going at the time when I was in my 20s, he said, well, you’re going, I was going to marry this Mormon man. I met him and he was a Jack Mormon, which meant, he was raised in it, but he didn’t necessarily practice it all, and so forth. And I was talking to the minister one day, and he said, well, you’ll probably join the Mormon church, and I said, oh no I won’t, I’m happy where I’m at. And he said, oh, yes, you will, because you have a lot of questions, and Mormons have all the answers. As it turned out, it was true. I mean, I never ran into a group of people that just, they had all the answers. I mean, if you have a question, they had an answer. And it was kind of interesting because of course, after 10 years, I was excommunicated for preaching false doctrine. I thought it was perfectly fine. I didn’t have a problem with it.
Rick Archer: What were you saying, some Buddhist stuff?
Clare Goldsberry: No, I hadn’t even encountered Buddhism at the time. I was really getting into New Testament principles. Jesus and that kind of thing. They didn’t like my take on it.
Rick Archer: So, Mormonism accepts the New Testament, they just didn’t like your interpretation.
Clare Goldsberry: Right, because I disagreed with the Mormon rules and regulations. I, well, Jesus didn’t make those rules. Jesus didn’t have those regulations. Love God, love your neighbor as yourself and preach the gospel. I mean, what more is there? And yeah, I was in trouble more than I was out of trouble in my last few years. As a Mormon, like I said, it was a 10-year journey, after which I wrote A Stranger in Zion. But, yeah, I mean, it’s, I think you have to be really, really careful. And unfortunately, I think when we’re young, like you said, when you were young, you listened to these people, this person has all the answers, this person has the, and I think we have to kind of go through some of this stuff and learn that, no, those people don’t have all the answers. They may have great ideas. And I would hear ideas, I would read books, I would explore these things. But I knew at that point that it’s not out there. It’s in here.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Did you have to appear before some Board of Inquisitors or something?
Clare Goldsberry: I absolutely did. Seven men and the bishop, but I had everything all ready. I had my papers all written out. I’m a writer after all, so I had to write all this out. And I quoted New Testament scripture to them. And I sort of had my 95 theses as it were, only mine weren’t 95, but there were about a dozen. And, then they excuse themselves to contemplate whether I should be allowed to remain a member or not. They came back in and said, well, we’ve decided to excommunicate you. And I said, well, that’s good. I said, Yeah, and then they offered me, look if you ever want to come back, the church doors are always open. I said, no, I think I’ve learned everything about Mormonism I need to know in this lifetime. That was the end of that.
Rick Archer: Well, I think as Groucho Marx put it, I wouldn’t want to belong to a club that would accept me as a member.
Clare Goldsberry: Yeah, they were probably sorry, in the first place.
Rick Archer: It’s an interesting thing, though, this whole thing about believing things and holding on to beliefs rigidly and assuming that they are the truth and assuming that we have the truth, and nobody else does. It’s all kind of very egotistical, in my mind. Very sort of self-protective. I mean, I haven’t been called by any fundamentalists on the phone for a long, long time. But last time I was I started talking astronomy with them. I said, do you realize how big the galaxy is? And how many planets there are? And how many galaxies there are? And the probability of life on all these planets? And is Jesus on tour? Does he spend 33 years on each inhabited planet? They hung up on me after a while.
Clare Goldsberry: That was good. That’s well, I mean, I think there is a lot of, I think you’re right, there’s a lot of ego involved in believing that you have all the truth and other people don’t.
Rick Archer: Yeah, just about every single cult in existence believes that.
Clare Goldsberry: Exactly, exactly. And I think that it’s very detrimental to the spiritual path. I think that, at some point, you have to transcend ego, and believe that, everything’s out there for you to explore. Not everybody believes, like me, I don’t believe like everybody. That’s where I get this idea of your personal truth, what is your personal truth, the truth within? And I don’t believe it’s the same for everybody. I mean, obviously, a lot of us can agree on a lot of things. But I think that to get caught in these rigid belief systems is very detrimental to the spiritual path. Ravi Ravindra said recently in a class that I was listening to, said that religion might be good for learning the law, but it’s very bad for traversing the spiritual path. Organized religion he was talking about. So, I think that’s probably true.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve interviewed Ravi. Yeah, and when you say, we have to sort of look within find truth within all that stuff, to my mind, my interpretation of that doesn’t mean that everybody’s perception of the world is, or opinions about things, is equally valid. I mean, if somebody thinks the earth is flat, and I don’t, I don’t think that we’re on equal footing, given the evidence with a lot of other topics like that. But I think what you’re getting at with that, and what people get at when they say that is that you can’t realize truth through an intermediary. It has to be direct, personal experience. And you can play with philosophies and ideas all you like, but when you get right down to it, there has to be a sort of an inner merging, or unification with the ground of being and then that will be, that will bring the certainty that you seek.
Clare Goldsberry: Right, and you mentioned, the flat earth thing. Well, obviously, that’s something that, there’s scientific things out and yeah, if somebody says the earth is flat, well, that’s fine. To me, if they want to believe that that’s fine. But there’s where you have to have discernment.
Rick Archer: Right.
Clare Goldsberry: You have to have a discerning mind about these things. I think that’s important, you can’t just, and when I say to believe what’s in, your truth within obviously, the truth is often not a tangible thing. It’s often not even, maybe some people wouldn’t even consider it scientific. I’ve had some of those conversations with people that absolutely believe that they are right and everybody else is wrong. But again, it’s an ego thing. That they’re right, and everybody else is wrong. It gives them this feeling, and especially a big organization like the Mormons, for example, that go out and convert people, 1000s of missionaries out there converting people. I think that the more they convert people, and even Jim Jones, they get people to follow them or any cult, they get people to follow them. The more people that follow them, the more confident they become in their own egotistical perception of the world and their own ideas. That to me, it can lead down to kind of a dangerous path really.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that when I was a kid. We usually had a couple of Mormon missionaries wandering around town here, and I’ve had chats with them occasionally. Nice kids, but I don’t know. It’s … let’s get back to one thing that was about 10 minutes ago, in our conversation, we were talking about reincarnation, and the Christian Christianity and so on. You’ve probably read Yogananda’s autobiography, right?
Clare Goldsberry: Yes.
Rick Archer: There’s a chapter in there, and I’m sure that other biblical scholars can corroborate this. He claims in that book that reincarnation used to be part of the Christian doctrine, but that it was edited out at the Council of Nicaea because the people there felt that it granted people too much latitude in terms of, I can do whatever I want, or I’ll take care of things next lifetime. He felt they had, the church authorities wanted people to get on with it, and attain salvation in this lifetime. But anyway, it could very well be that reincarnation is as much a part of Christianity as it is of any other religion, that it just got edited out.
Clare Goldsberry: Well, I have heard that, too. And I even had a, there’s a couple of quotes. And then in testament, of one point when Jesus asked his disciples, Who do men say that I am? One of the disciples said, well, some say you are Elijah or one of the prophets, kind of indicating kind of a belief that you could come back in another form and continue your ministry, so to speak. And then another time when I think a father came to him, and his son was, or his father came to Jesus, his son was blind, I believe. And one of his disciples asked Jesus, well, who sinned? This man or his father? Indicating that did it, was that something, this guy did something in a previous life that caused him to be born blind, and now this little boy is blind? So was it a previous life that he did something wrong, and now he’s blind, which again, is that retributive form of karma that we talked about earlier. But I do believe that if there was a belief in reincarnation in the Judeo-Christian tradition, I do think that it would have made sense to have it edited out by the mainstream, in a Catholic Universalist Christian tradition. Because you’re right, if people thought, well, why am I giving money to the church to buy my way out of purgatory if I’m going to be reincarnated. So, there might have been a kind of follow the money kind of thing to that, too. And to this day, people don’t like the idea. I run into a lot of people that do not like the idea of reincarnation, I had an elderly friend, she was in her 90s. And, and she had a really, I thought a fascinating life, but she didn’t like her mother. Her mother was mean and whatever. And she says, well, I’m not going to come back. I refuse to be reincarnated. I will never come back. And I used to laugh and tease her about it, well, you might, She would, oh, no, I’m never coming. I’ve run into a few people that just feel like no, not, I’m not coming back. This, I don’t want to be here. But who knows where here is. We say here, but where is here? So that’s another question.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, do you think people have a choice?
Clare Goldsberry: Um, in a way, yes. Now, that’s a good question. Alan Wallace has a really good essay that I printed off years ago about karma and freewill, and how much is free will and how much is karma, concerning our life, in this space time continuum that we exist in now. I think maybe it’s a little of both. I think we have, through karma, I think we have inclinations towards this direction or that direction. I think free will, maybe the door opens. And we’re given an opportunity. But freewill goes, oh, I don’t want to do that now. I don’t want to go there. So, I don’t think it’s cut and dry. I don’t think it’s black and white. I mean, I think it’s maybe a little of both, and I do believe in free will. I also believe in karma.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know the nursery rhyme Row, row, row your boat. So, you’re going down the stream in a boat, and the stream carries you along, you don’t have much choice about that. But you have an oar, and you can row and so you can kind of steer the boat this way and prevent hitting that rock and you can assist in certain ways to make sure that the journey down the stream is as smooth as possible.
Clare Goldsberry: Right, that’s a good way to look at it. I like that analogy. We always have, I think we always have options. And that’s one of the great things about human rebirth. In Buddhism, they say it took us lifetimes to attain finally a human rebirth, after experiencing rebirth in many other forms. And the nice thing about being human is we can make choices. We can choose what we do and say. Our actions, body, speech, and mind. We do have options. We also have to be ready them to accept whatever the consequences of those options that we’ve chosen are, because choice I think, is an important thing, especially for humans, because we can make those choices. And I so I think that it’s, like you said, we’re in this stream, but we can choose. And we can also choose to row over to the shore and get out.
Rick Archer: Yeah, sure. The Gita verse which goes, you have control over action alone, never over its fruits. So, then it says live not for the fruits of action or attach yourself to inaction. In other words, do your best, and you can’t guarantee what the outcome is going to be, but focus on the present and do the best you can and then you’re increasing the likelihood of a desirable outcome.
Clare Goldsberry: Yeah, and don’t become attached to outcomes. Buddha talks a lot about that about nonattachment to outcomes. And I think that that’s one of the really disconcerting things about life and the way we live it. We get attached to outcomes, or we have expectations that life should turn out this way or that way. And I’ve always said, the road to hell is paved with unmet expectations. People suffer because of their unmet expectations. And so, I think it’s really important that we don’t get attached to outcomes. And again, that would be like embracing all as the path. We don’t know where life is going to lead us. Ravi mentioned just a week ago, in class that, boy, he said, we’re all one breath away from death. And getting back to that topic. To get attached to outcomes or have expectations that life is going to be different, or it’s going to be what we want it to be and not what it is, really brings a lot of suffering. And so, we just we have to learn to go with the flow of the stream. But like you said, we also have oars, and we just can’t get attached to, to outcomes or attached to our perceptions or attached to our rules in life.
Rick Archer: Yeah, we’ll always be frustrated if we do. The way I play it, it’s as if we’re in a marvelous, huge theatrical production. And the script writer is just brilliant, and we don’t know exactly how this whole thing is going to turn out. We’re playing our part. And there continues to be twists and turns in the plot, and we’re playing our part to the best of our ability, but each twist and turn, you think, I’ll be darned I didn’t see that coming. That’s interesting. Since we’re not the script writer, if we’re attached to particular outcomes, we’re always going to be frustrated. Or stymied.
Clare Goldsberry: Yeah, that’s right. And obviously talking about the stream reminds me of, in January of 2004, just four months before Brent died, they had to at work, he was working, he was a salesperson for a large company. And so, in their sales meeting, they were supposed to come up with a word that would describe their, I guess their feelings or their goals or something. But it had been just one word. And Brent came up with the word flow. That was going to be his word for the year. And I thought, wow, how apropos. And so, I immediately went to my library and dug out the book that I’ve had for years Flow, the Psychology of Optimum Experience is by that with guy was a big, long name, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. I don’t even know how to pronounce it. But this book Flow, and it was great. And I even quoted out of that book, in my book about what flow is and how to make every experience an optimal experience. And I think that’s tricky. That’s tricky, especially when things happen that we don’t necessarily like, or we didn’t plan. Or the outcomes were different than what we had originally expected them to be. And I thought, well, how great that Brent chose that word flow. And that I had a book about flow. And it got me back into that book that I hadn’t looked at, since the 70s when it came out. And I thought how great that is that it’s very Buddhist in nature that, we can embrace all as the path if we just kind of let go of our expectations, let go of our attachments to outcomes, and those sorts of things. We can experience flow, but it takes some work.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and what you’re saying now doesn’t mean aimless drifting, either. Let’s say a person who wants to become a doctor. Okay, they have to go to medical school, they have to work really hard, they have a goal, they’re going to study and all this stuff. And that’s perfectly compatible with going with the flow. So going into the flow doesn’t mean sort of mindless drifting, and that’s the point. But something might happen, they might, they might get sick, they might break their leg, anything could happen
Clare Goldsberry: At all. That would be just maybe going that different direction, learning to see that as embracing that as part of the path. It, everything is just part of the path. Yeah, you’ve got all these plans, and you break your leg. And then you say, well, that’s a bad thing. But then you had to stay in bed, which allows you more time to read, you picked up a book on spirituality or Buddhism or Hinduism, or some other tradition that you really were interested in. And now you’re forced to lay there in bed and read this book. All of a sudden, you get brand new ideas, and you get excited. You may not have had if you didn’t break your leg and laying in bed.
Rick Archer: You know that story of the Chinese farmer who had one son and one horse?
Clare Goldsberry: Yes, yeah.
Rick Archer: You want to tell it, or do you want me to tell? Okay, so Chinese farmer, he had a son and a horse, a very poor man, small little farm. And one day the horse escaped. And the neighbors all came said, oh, what a tragedy, your horse escaped, how you going to manage now? And the farmer said, we’ll see. And so, the next day, the horse came back leading several wild horses, and they all walked right in the corral. And the farmer closed the gate, and the neighbors came said, Oh, you’re a wealthy man. This is fantastic. All these horses you have now. And the farmer said, we’ll see. And then so the son was trying to train one of these new wild horses, and he fell off and broke his leg and the neighbors came and said, oh, what a shame your son broke his leg, who’s going to help you with the farm? This is such a great tragedy. And the farmer said, we’ll see. And the next day this army came through town, and they were recruiting all the able young men to join the army and go fight a war and obviously the son couldn’t go because he had a broken leg. So, end of story for now.
Clare Goldsberry: You tell it. Yes, all is perfect. That’s what my, an elderly friend of mine that I met through hospice. He used to tell me all the time, all is perfect, Clare, he would tell me, all is perfect. You remember that. All is perfect. And again, it’s perception. It’s how you look at things and it’s how you learn to embrace everything as part of the path.
Rick Archer: Yeah, good. Okay, let me just check something here. Okay, a question came in. Let me get my glasses. This is from Matthew McCartan in Toronto. You mentioned, okay, so a bit of an abrupt segue, but no problem. You mentioned theosophy Have you studied Rudolf Steiner and anthroposophy. It is the least under possibly most profound description of the path ahead for human consciousness. Any comments or thoughts on that?
Clare Goldsberry: Well, yes, I’ve belonged to the Theosophical Society since about 1999. And a woman here in Phoenix started a Theosophical Study Group, which I have kept up with until it dissolved a few years ago. I have read Rudolf Steiner. I think he is, I liked some of his thoughts. I think that it never really grabbed me, I guess. But I think he wrote one of the best biographies I’ve ever read on Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society. And he also, I forgot one other book of his. I can’t remember the name of it. And I liked the book, but I can’t say that I was captivated by Steiner. And maybe because I’ve read so much that I guess I’m not really totally captivated by any particular thing. I just embrace it all. I mean, I learn things from it. But certain things I can adopt and insert, but I do think Steiner had some really good ideas.
Rick Archer: Yeah, good. There was a song by the band in which one of the lines was you take what you need, and you leave the rest?
Clare Goldsberry: Right, exactly.
Rick Archer: Okay, why don’t we take some of the chapter titles from your book and use those as springboards to flesh out the conversation. So, the first chapter is why we don’t know how to die.
Clare Goldsberry: That’s an interesting one, isn’t it? And one of the first things I thought of when Brent was diagnosed, is we don’t really know how to die. And I don’t know how I thought of that. But I just, I thought we, this country, we don’t know how to die. And I guess it really hit home when, and I tell the story in the book, when Brent was recommended to go see an oncologist after he got his diagnosis of esophageal cancer, the gastroenterologist said, you go see an oncologist, and he’ll tell you the next steps to take. And so, we went to this oncologist. Of course, the oncologist said, well, we’re going to do this, you’re going to do radiation, and then we’re going to do six months of chemotherapy, and then we’re going to do surgery, and on and on, and Brent looked at him and said, I don’t think so I think I’ll pass on that. I mean, you don’t tell these people, you are not going to buy what they have to sell. Well, he looks at Brent and he said, well, if you don’t do everything I say you’re going die. And Brent goes, dude, I’m going to die anyway. And at that, the oncologist picked up his folder and walked out the door slamming it behind him. So it dawned on me at that point that not only do we not know how to die, the medical system does not know how we die. And so, I kind of put that in the book because I thought that was interesting that, kind of illustrate that most people would say, yes, please save me, pull out all the stops. Do everything. But Brent had it in his mind that he was going to die the way he wanted to die. And he wasn’t fearful of death. He was never a fearful person. He had a very interesting life. And he was just not a fearful person. And this diagnosis didn’t change anything. That’s when I began to think well, how do we have a good death? Because of Buddhism, we talk about having a good death. Well, what is a good death? And how do we die? How do we learn to die without fear? Well, first we have to learn to live without fear. Our fear of death drives us into a lot of different paths. That and some facts, sometimes it drives us into the, something that will actually cause our death. We get so afraid of death that we actually draw that to us. There’s a saying, a new thought that what you fear draws it near. Because you’re always thinking about it, and your thoughts are what create your reality. And it’s what can bring things to you because we do live in an informed universe and an intelligent universe. And so thoughts create thought forms, as some people call it. They create these thought forms that then we have to deal with. And so, I think that learning how to live is first and foremost. And then that will help us to die better, and maybe learn how to die better and have a good death. That’s the goal.
Rick Archer: Did Brent have, was he into Buddhism or some kind of spiritual path? And did he have much of a philosophical take on all this?
Clare Goldsberry: No, he didn’t believe in much of anything. Except himself.
Rick Archer: An easygoing guy.
Clare Goldsberry: I think maybe previous lifetimes he was, because often he would say things, and I would go, well, that’s a very Buddhist thought. And he’d go, really? I’d go, yeah. Then I’d explain it to him, and he’d go, oh, well, I never thought about it like that, mainly because he’d never heard of Buddhism until he met me.
Rick Archer: So why do you think people are so afraid to die?
Clare Goldsberry: The unknown. Attachments. I talk a lot about attachments in the book. Attachment, well, the Buddha said, attachment is the root of all suffering. And we become attached to everything in life we become, especially our body. What are we more attached to than me, mine, I, the I. And we’re so attached to these things. And the uncertainty. What’s going to happen when I die? You mentioned you had a speaker on near death experiences? We’re seeing more of that. Oh, absolutely. seeing more and more of that. And so, I think it’s the uncertainty, it’s the attachments. And I think it’s the uncertainty that creates the fear. And if that, I call it the illusion of life and death, because in keeping with the idea that all of this, at which the quantum physicists would concur, is illusory. There’s nothing that has any inherent reality from its own side. And so, like the Buddhists, why do you want to get attached to things that aren’t real? Because it’s going to change. It’s going to go away. Things that, we’re going to have old age, sickness, and death. So why get attached to it? I think that has a lot to do with it. Somebody asked Brent, just before he died, because he bought a new Corvette in January of 2004, just four months before he died. And everybody thought that was so funny. Yeah, you bought it. You bought a new Corvette? You’re dying. They were like, are you going to miss your Corvette? And he said, not really. He said, it was fun while it lasted.
Rick Archer: That’s great. Yeah, your second chapter is entitled, Why we don’t understand living and dying. And that’s probably a good key to why we fear it because we don’t understand it. I mean, generally, we fear the things we don’t understand. I wonder if, I don’t even know, I’m just wondering if in cultures, which are predominantly Hindu or Buddhist, there is less fear of death, if you did some kind of Gallup poll? Because people are, it’s more in their blood and bones, that we don’t die when the body dies.
Clare Goldsberry: Right. Oh, I definitely think that’s true.
Rick Archer: Fear comes from attachment to life.
Clare Goldsberry: Right, I do think that’s true. And if you look at a lot of the people in, say, India, for example, for a lot of people, their life isn’t all that great. And down through the ages, it’s kind of been that way. And so, their belief in death and reincarnation, because they have this idea that if you live a good life, and you try to watch your speech and your actions that you have the hope of coming back for a better life. A little bit of difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, as far as reincarnation or rebirth shows, but, but I do think that they have an easier time of it. I think maybe it’s our attachments to our material things in the Western world that make it difficult. We don’t want to leave these things.
Rick Archer: I think it’s also thinking that this is me, this body is who I am, it’s what I am. And therefore, when this dies, I, what I am, is going to cease to exist. That must be scary on some level.
Clare Goldsberry: I think it is for people. I think that they don’t maybe understand the mind and the way the mind operates, or the soul some people call it the soul. The Greek word for mind is psyche or soul is psyche, which is mind. We’ve got psychiatrists, psychologists, ‘psyche’. I think that if they believed that the mind is what creates all reality, the mind is everything, everything is created in the mind by the mind, and nothing is created outside the mind, nothing has any inherent reality outside the mind. And I think that for me, that has become a reality. That is my reality that, thanks to all of my studies with the quantum physicists that are just amazing. There’s the idea, that reality is only in the mind, and it’s the mind that is eternal. It is the mind that creates, that goes wherever it goes, we say go. Not sure I like that word. But when the mind leaves the body, that it exists as people who’ve had NDE’s can attest that they may not have a body, but they still have this consciousness of things.
Rick Archer: And even senses functioning. The Gita has a verse where it compares changing bodies to like changing, worn-out clothing. You take you throw away your worn-out clothing and put on some new clothing. And there’s, I think it says, what fear is there in this, or what tragedy is there in this or something. In other words, it’s not that big a deal. And obviously, it’s a bit of a hassle to have to die. And getting born is no picnic, I’m sure. Then you have to, pooping your diapers for a while and you have to go back to high school and there’s all kinds of challenging things, but it’s not that big a deal in the big picture of things and certainly it doesn’t touch what you were just saying, but the soul level, it’s ‘for men they come and then they go, but I go on forever’, the soul might say,
Clare Goldsberry: Yes, that’s very true. I think that that’s the reason I encourage people to learn about the mind. And to study some quantum physics, study some of Amit Goswami books, or Alan Wallace. Fred Alan Wolf, he’s one of my favorites. He’s, one of my favorite books of his is Mind into Matter, How Mind Creates Reality. And there’s just all kinds of wonderful books out there that I’ve often said that maybe quantum physics is the new religion. Maybe quantum physics has more to teach us about how we exist, and how we create the world around us, how we create the phenomenal world, and why we shouldn’t be afraid of losing it, because it’s just a flip of the mind. You die, it’s a flip of a mind,
Rick Archer: What you’re saying is very important, really. We could boil it down to this, which is that it’s really important to gain understanding, if you’re on a spiritual path it’s not enough to just meditate and then, watch soap operas or something. You need to read the accompanying literature and like you say, quantum mechanics, and that kind of stuff is very useful. And there are two legs to the journey, I think one is experience and the other is understanding. And science itself works that way. They have a hypothesis, and then they try to empirically verify it with some experience, some experiment. And the spiritual path has the same principle. And I just think that, and most people do this who are on a spiritual path, they get fascinated with the stuff, they read all the books and everything. But it’s good to keep a balance between the two, and they can get out of balance both ways. I’ve seen people who just read a lot of books, don’t do much spiritual practice of any kind and begin to mistake their understanding for actual realization. And then I’ve seen people who are having profound experiences and don’t know what the heck is going on. And they need more understanding.
Clare Goldsberry: Right, I think that’s very true. I hear a lot of people, especially when I was going to a Buddhist center a few years ago, talking about Enlightenment. There was one guy that, he used to go to every Buddhist thing, organization, building that he could find. And he was always looking because he was going to find the one thing and he was going to be Enlightened. And yet he really didn’t know what Enlightenment was. He just heard that that was the way it was. And I always liked the Zen Buddhist saying, before Enlightenment, chop wood carry water. After Enlightenment, chop wood carry water. So, I think our practice makes a difference in our lives, if it doesn’t make a difference, why are we doing it? Right. I think that’s the important thing I learned through Brent’s illness and death was, intellectually, I’ve been reading all this stuff. But I really didn’t know the experience of what it was talking about impermanence, and change, and attachment. And once I learned that it gave practice meaning that maybe it didn’t have before. And I think that that’s really what it’s about. Yes, it should change your life. But is it going to change your life in some radical way that you’re going to suddenly get a halo and sprout wings or something? No. But I think it has to make a difference. All the practices that we do, whatever your practice is, whatever you choose to make your practice, if it doesn’t make a difference in your life, it’s like, why are you doing it?
Rick Archer: In the long run, it will be radical, as you know the word radical comes from the word root. And that’s what spirituality is all about, is getting right down to the root of life. But it’s not necessarily an overnight deal. It’s really a lifelong process.
Clare Goldsberry: Right. And I think that’s what people look for, they look for this sudden, instant flash of whatever it is they think Enlightenment is, and I’ve got a little cartoon that I keep posted up here, it’s the older monk is sitting with a young monk, and the caption is: nothing, this is it. In other words, they’ve just gotten enlightened. He wants to know, okay, what’s nothing? This is it? And so, I think, and maybe it comes in little flashes. I think it does, I think. I mean, for me, it has. I don’t expect any great big lightning bolt to strike me, but the little flashes are helpful. It keeps me going. It keeps me with understanding and experience together, I think that, like you said, it’s very important.
Rick Archer: Quick fix Here’s a chapter entitled, living with suffering, how not to suffer. Let’s talk about that.
Clare Goldsberry: Well, that’s an interesting, that’s another one of these things that takes a lot of explaining to people because they go, well, we all suffer. Well, of course, you know the Buddha said, life is pain and suffering. That’s the first Noble Truth actually. So, the Buddha admits that, yes, life is pain and suffering. Do you have to suffer? And what is suffering? And I think that I use a couple of illustrations in the book of how people suffer. People suffer when life turns out to be not what they were expecting. People suffer when things happen, that they didn’t want to happen. And often, it’s said, we have pain, we can experience pain, but suffering is a choice. And that’s a tough one for most people.
Rick Archer: If I were to get crucified, to take an extreme example, I’m sure I would be experiencing a lot of pain. And I’m not sure that I wouldn’t be suffering too. I don’t know, if I could go through an experience like that without getting into full-fledged suffering as well as pain.
Clare Goldsberry: Well, I don’t know. Do you think Jesus suffered?
Rick Archer: I had a teacher, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, who was doing an interview on BBC with Malcolm Muggeridge, who was an interviewer and the Abbot of Downside who was some Episcopal, or whatever they are in England. And he said, Christ never suffered, or she said this. And these guys were like, what? And they kind of explained that he was basically saying from his perspective in the state that he was in, he was grounded in a reality that was beyond the field of suffering beyond the possibility of suffering. And he probably would have acknowledged that, yeah, his body felt pain, but he was just saying that his predominant reality was so profoundly that of divine consciousness, that whatever else was happening to his body or whatever was kind of more on the surface. He didn’t elaborate like that. But I’m just thinking,
Clare Goldsberry: Oh, that sounds good. I would, I think I would agree with that. I think that we can get beyond suffering. A lot of our suffering has to do with mental pain. And how do people get beyond that? I mean, we see a lot of that. And I think it’s important to learn to get beyond the idea of suffering. And everybody has to look at that and practice in their own way because suffering is real, even the Buddha acknowledged that. But he also said, you only suffer when you want life to be different than it is. If there’s no point in wanting life to be different than it is, then you’re going to suffer. I know, Brent told me just before he died, he was worried about what I was going to say, because I told him I was going to write an obituary. And he said, well, he said, if anybody asks you if I suffered, he said, tell them I didn’t, because I never wanted life to be different than it is. And I thought, for somebody that had no idea what the Buddha said, I thought that was pretty telling. He just accepted life for what it was. It was his adventure, and he embraced it. And so, he didn’t really suffer.
Rick Archer: It’s very Byron Katie-ish. If you’ve ever studied Byron Katie. And obviously, attachment has a lot to do with it. Basically, just in terms, what you’re saying. I mean, think about just about every rock and roll song or many other songs, going back for decades, it’s all about O my baby done left me and I’m so miserable. Because there’s an attachment that, and we’re, something is being torn away from us. And we’re attached and that hurts. That causes suffering.
Clare Goldsberry: Well, maybe we need to practice just letting go, letting go, letting it be. And that’s a hard one too, especially where our relationships are concerned, being able to let go. I believe that there is something more, maybe that person walked out the door and left us, but there will be something more, something greater. And I think if that’s what we believe, then I think it will happen. I think we get this ego thing going, oh, I can’t live without this person. And when I was doing hospice volunteer work, for a couple of years after Brent died, I was really amazed at the number of people that would stand at the bedside and go, don’t leave me, don’t leave me. I can’t live without you, and it’s like, well, maybe you should have learned to let this go, along the way, knowing that all things are impermanent, that everything changes that nothing is forever, and learn to see it that way. Because I think that learning to let go is a big part of this idea of non-attachment. It’s not that you’re, it’s not like un attachment, I often see that word a lot people write about it, and I call it being unattached. It’s non-attachment. It’s the letting go. It’s the willingness to let go. I think that’s the important thing, is being able to let go and see that there is more, but you have to. To get there you have to let go of this to maybe see what is next, what comes next.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and we might be sounding kind of glib right now to some mother who has lost a child or something like that. But a couple of months ago, I interviewed a woman named Karen Johnson, who was a federal judge in the Washington DC area, and her son committed suicide. Her son was 27, I believe at the time, and it really threw her for a loop. I mean, she just, really hit her hard. But she had been working her butt off for decades, climbing up the ladder of success. She was in this burnout job where she was working 10 hours a day, with a two hour with an hour commute on either side of it. She would leave in the morning when it was dark and come home at night when it was dark. Just really pushing it. This thing catapulted her into a life of seeking and she ended up retiring and studying shamanism and traveling all over the world and doing psychedelics and just seeking every which way, and she is a very different person now and a very happy person. I wouldn’t say she was, she wouldn’t say that I’m glad my son died, but she realizes that there was a wisdom to the whole unfolding of things, and she still feels like she’s very much in touch with her son. And that in the cosmic scheme of things all as well and wisely put.
Clare Goldsberry: I know a young woman. She’s a good friend of my daughter’s and her 21-year-old son, killed himself. He was In Hawaii, in the Navy, and he kill himself and this was over three years ago now. She has never gotten past it. She’s never gotten over it. She just does everything she can to try to distract herself from it, but it involves all the wrong things. And it’s sad, it’s really sad to see somebody that just can’t see any good at all that could come of this. And yet there is good, there is good in everything. I mean, if there’s anything we can learn in life it’s that good, nothing’s all good. Nothing’s all bad. That out of bad things really good things can come as the person you were talking about recognized. And yet, this gal just, and I feel, I really feel for her. I just, but there, and my daughter says, there’s no way to help her mom, there’s no way to help her. She’s going to stay in her suffering. I know, Ravi mentioned one time, he said, often we get addicted to our suffering, we become attached to our suffering. Because in some ways, it’s the suffering that I suppose makes us feel good, gets us sympathy, I don’t know. But he said, we can often get attached to our suffering more than we get attached to our pleasure.
Rick Archer: You know there might be something that could be done to help this woman like if, what if you had her watch my interview with Karen Johnson?
Clare Goldsberry: I have recommended many things. You know, grief to growth is, I did an interview with him a few months ago. He lost his teenage daughter, and it impelled him to start this podcast called grief to growth. And if she, I don’t know, it’s just, I guess, when the student is ready, the teacher will come. But what you do in the meantime? You can tell people anything, and if they’re not in that place where they can see it or hear it? I don’t know.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, it comes it comes back to what we were saying earlier about the importance of understanding. If this woman had a deeply ingrained understanding that nobody really dies, then sure, she would feel the pain of the loss of her son and everything, but I don’t think it would hit her as hard. It wouldn’t, she wouldn’t be as lost as she is right now in the grief.
Clare Goldsberry: But there’s the story that the Buddha tells, some of the tales about his life where a woman came to him with her dead baby and begged him to revive the child. And the Buddha said, well, I will do that for you, if you bring me a mustard seed from a household of someone that has never tasted death. So, she runs around, and she have, all these houses in the village and trying to find someone who’s never experienced the death of a loved one. And unfortunately, she went back to the Buddha, and she didn’t have the mustard seed, but she understood what he was telling her. And that is, we all die. Death is a part of life, you can’t separate it. Death is just the flip side of the coin of life. I think that’s a good story, too. But I don’t know that it helps people who are just really suffering from the death, especially the death of a child, I think,
Rick Archer: Although it is a tradition at Indian funerals, I’ve been told to read those passages from the Gita that go into, ‘certain is certain indeed is death for the born and certain is birth for the dead’. And there’s a whole bunch of verses like that in the second chapter. So just to remind people of yeah, this is the way it is, this is the teaching and therefore over the inevitable you should not grieve and things like that. Yes, wise men grieve neither for the dead nor for the living.
Clare Goldsberry: Right. I like that. I like that verse. Death is certain for the born. And once you’re born, you’re bound to die.
Rick Archer: Once you’re dead, you’re bound to be born
Clare Goldsberry: Destined for rebirth.
Rick Archer: Anyway, it’s, I mean, the culture that we live in, any culture is like a big giant thing with a lot of inertia. And it doesn’t just flip overnight, although sometimes it does. I mean, golly, some of the changes we’ve seen in the, over the recent years of, I don’t know, gay marriage and all kinds of things that we thought would never happen that just overnight, boom, okay, fine. That’s the norm now. There’s a few holdouts, but who knows? I mean, some people think that we’re in the midst of, and I think I heard you talk about this, that we’re in the midst of some kind of mass awakening. And that we could be, we could see a phase transition where things change a lot sooner than anyone expected.
Clare Goldsberry: That could be. I’ve heard that from a lot of different people that they seem to think we’re in this period of a shift that things are getting ready to shift, that things aren’t going to be, and it may not be like we expect, but that things are going to shift. Well, they have to. Everything changes, it has to. Nothing stays the same. And along the path, we just have to look as the witness and embrace everything as the path, learn to go with the flow, I guess.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And it really does have to because if we keep on going as we’re going, there won’t be anybody alive in 100 years. So, something’s got to give.
Clare Goldsberry: Right, that’s for sure.
Rick Archer: Okay, what else have we got here. All kinds of interesting topics, any questions come in, Irene? She’s going to send over questions. And I’m just trying to decide which of all your chapter titles would be interesting to talk about. They’re all interesting, but I want to make sure we cover the things that most interest you. Is there anything that jumps out at you?
Clare Goldsberry: Well, I think that the, you mentioned it a little bit about the business of illness and the cost of keeping people alive and I think that’s another issue that at some point, we’re going to have to face. Yeah, according to Medicare 80% of all Medicare dollars are spent in the last year of a person’s life. So how much is quantity the goal, the business of illness, and it is a huge business. The cost of keeping us alive at all costs. I mean, and people need to think about that, and what kind of suffering are we going to put people through? Do we need to know how to die better, so that we can alleviate some of the suffering? I know people personally who were in the hospital, two people that I can think of that were in the hospital, there was the one gal was told, there’s nothing more we can do. Well, maybe we’ve got one more test, one more treatment. And she just said, no, let me go. And they did. And I think it’s hard for doctors to make that choice because doctors don’t know how to treat death and dying.
Rick Archer: Right, their job is to try to keep people alive.
Clare Goldsberry: Right, I think it’s I think it’s difficult. I think it’s a difficult question. But at some point, we have to face it, we have to, I know, Dr. Kevin Haselhorst who I talked about in the book. He wrote a book about having a universal directive. What do you want, and what you don’t want? A kind of an end of life directive. And we don’t think about that, because we walk around every day, even the Buddha said, we walk through life every day, and say, oh, that person is old and sick, and that person died. But oh, that’s not going to happen to me.
Rick Archer: That’s what got the Buddha started. I mean, his father was trying to protect him from seeing things like that. And then one day he got out and saw that and said, what’s wrong with these people?
Clare Goldsberry: Yeah, and then he realized that there had to be more.
Rick Archer: I think we’ve all owned old cars that kept breaking down and needing expensive repairs, and we’re just funneling money into them. And at a certain point, we realized I’d be better off just selling this old car and getting a newer one. So, I think it’s a good analogy, actually. I mean, there’s a certain point at which the body is really not serving much useful purpose anymore, and there’s no chance of it doing so. Very little chance. And so, okay, maybe we should let it go. But again, the whole medical establishment and the whole society itself doesn’t see it that way for the most part.
Clare Goldsberry: Exactly. We have come to the point where we expect the medical establishment and particularly the pharmaceutical establishment to save us from everything. I think that’s a lot of the reason that we’ve forgotten how to die. Unlike people 100 years ago, or 150 years ago, people, death was very close, then, because there wasn’t really a whole lot that could save you. So, death was very close, and death is not close anymore. I think another reason is most people die in an institutional setting, either a hospital palliative care unit, a hospice facility. So, we’re not close to the dying process. And I know that’s one thing that really helped me, I got the book, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying by Sogyal Rinpoche. And, in it was, the whole center of the book, a whole section was on the dying process, and what it was like, and obviously, not everybody dies that way, some people are killed instantly, some people have a heart attack and die instantly, or they die on their sleep. And so, I think that not everybody gets the opportunity to experience the dying process. I was glad that Brent got to experience the dying process. It’s hard to watch. But because of that book, I was able to, okay, this is what’s happening, this is what’s happening. I mean, they describe it very vividly, what happens as the mind starts, or the soul, starts loosening from the body. And I really think that that was very valuable. And it actually converted me from the idea that maybe the Death with Dignity society has a point, or it used to be the Hemlock Society, they call it Death with Dignity society. And I used to be kind of, on board with that, and then I got to thinking, well, after going through that with Brent, I thought, I think there is value in the dying process. I think there can be value in it for the people, the loved ones who are standing bedside, if they would allow the process to really, if they knew about the process, and if they understood the process, and again, we’re talking about experiencing and understanding. But I do think there is value in the dying process, if that is the way we go and we don’t die instantly from a heart attack or a car wreck or something like that. So, I guess I’ve kind of come to that conclusion that, because I learned a lot from watching Brent. And then, toward the end when Brent was, about two hours before he died. He said to me, said, dying is so easy. He said, I thought it would be harder than this. But it’s so easy. And I thought, what a great thought to leave me with. That’s what I try to leave people. Dying’s easy. But again, I think if we understand life, if we know life, if we understand death and dying, I think it can be easy. But it’s again, it’s that knowledge with experience. It’s understanding that all is impermanent, nothing lasts forever. All is change. And I think that all plays a part in how well we can embrace all of this.
Rick Archer: Let me make sure that I understand what you’re just saying about the Hemlock Society. I think what you’re saying is, maybe somebody who’s into the Hemlock Society might say, all right, it looks like I have terminal cancer. Put me to sleep. I’m out of here. What you’re saying is not so fast. Maybe we should go through the dyeing process itself and die naturally, because there’s some kind of cosmic significance to going through that experience, in its own pace, rather than just ending our life when it looks like the end is approaching. Is that what you meant to say?
Clare Goldsberry: Yeah, I think that’s true. For whoever would want to approach it that way. I mean, how people want to die is sort of their own choice. And for me, as I said, that gave me this sense that there’s value in the dying process. Now, whether, not everybody’s going to feel that way. People, a lot of people are going to say, well, I’m old. In fact, I had a good friend that was in the Theosophical Society, and he and his wife, they were elderly, and they both, they had their thing with, the Hemlock Society. And they had all had it all planned out, and they knew the day they were going to kill themselves. We’re going to go together because they’ve been together for like 60 years and so they’re going to go together. She up and got sick and died. And so, there were three of us gals that went to visit him about eight months after his wife died. And he was really distraught about it because they were supposed to do this together. And now he was left to do this by himself. And he said, and he asked me, so what do Buddhists say about committing suicide? I said, well, everything is intention. What is your intent? Is your intent to alleviate pain and suffering? The intention to alleviate pain and suffering is a good thing. I can’t be your judge. This is, you know you have to you have to choose. But intention is everything. And so, we just sort of left it at that. And about three weeks later, we got an invitation to his memorial service. He had died on his birthday. And so, the other two gals and I were like, Oh, my goodness. We were, I guess we were a little bit disconcerted about it. But it was his choice. And that’s okay. I mean, it’s not up to me. Not up to the Buddha.
Rick Archer: Yeah, a question came in from a Bill Beekman in low country, South Carolina. How to love someone without being attached, and not break the bonds of love. What happened after your husband left the oncologist office to quit?
Clare Goldsberry: Well, I think we’re talking about maybe loving unconditionally, or nonattachment where relationships are concerned. And I’ve always said that nonattachment is another one of those things. It’s very misunderstood. I think we can truly love someone when we don’t have the ego attachment to them. As I said, I would see a lot of people, don’t leave me, I can’t live without you. And there’s always the me in there, I can’t live without you, don’t leave me kind of a thing. And I think when we love with nonattachment, that’s when we truly love. We have to love someone enough to allow their life to play out like it is supposed to. Whatever that means. If that means cancer, if it means, whatever, a car wreck, being disabled, whatever. We can love, without attachment. And that’s the perfect love because it keeps our ego out of it. Brent’s life was about Brent. Brent’s illness was about Brent. It was whatever that was supposed to be. Maybe in a way it was about me, maybe the universe was saying, boy Clare, we have a lesson to teach you now. But just, I’ve got four children, okay, attachment, learning to allow them to live their lives without me saying, well, you can’t do that, or you can’t do this or don’t do that, you might get hurt. They have to live the life that they are meant to live. And loving them purely without attachment is learning to love them freely enough to allow them to have their life and let them live their life. Because I don’t know what is in store for their life. They each have their own karma. We all have our own karma. And maybe we’ve had this karmic relationship in past lives. As they say, we tend to reincarnate in family groups, because that’s who we create the most karma with. There’s all these family groups, lifetime after lifetime, we just, but I really think that non attachment is very useful, even for people we love. I think we can love more perfectly without the attachment, that putting our ego into it gives us
Rick Archer: Yeah, my feeling is that the more inner fulfillment we have, the more naturally we won’t be attached to things because we won’t really be trying to derive our fulfillment from external things, including people in relationships, which has nothing to do with loving them or not being able to love them. You can love someone profoundly. And yet, you’re not deriving your fulfillment from them because your fulfillment is within and It’s just overflowing. And that’s why I love them so much. And maybe a good example, a good analogy is like, if you’re really poor and you’re live on the street, and every little loss and gain of a few dollars is a huge thing and you’re attached to not losing, and you’re elated when you gain a few dollars. But if you’re a multimillionaire, you can gain or lose thousands every day. I mean, guys like Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk actually sometimes gain and lose billions in a day. And it’s like, no big deal, on with the show. So, if a person is really resting in an ocean of fulfillment, which is our essential nature, everyone has that possibility, then we are naturally not attached. It’s not an intellectual exercise to not be attached. It’s just the way we naturally function.
Clare Goldsberry: I would agree with you. I think my life, even before I met, Brent was starting to really come together. And I was really having a lot of success, personal success in my writing, and so forth. So, I could see where my own personal success and my own personal belief in myself really helped me get through all this. Because I loved Brent. I thought we were going to grow old together. We didn’t. But it’s like, okay, the universe, this is what the universe has for me. Off I go, I’ll just continue this great life that I enjoy. So, I think you’re right. I never thought about that way. But I think you’re very right.
Rick Archer: I think it was John Lennon who said life is what happens while we’re busy making other plans.
Clare Goldsberry: Right.
Rick Archer: Oh righty. Let’s say, let’s say some people are listening to us. And they do have some kind of diagnosis of a terminal illness and, or maybe they’re really old or something. And they think, well, I’ll probably die within the next year or two or three. What would you say to such people as, by way of preparation of any kind?
Clare Goldsberry: Preparation? Hmm, well, I guess I would tell people, that every day is a preparation, we should be preparing every day. It’s back to that what we talked about at first, remember death. And it’s not like you got a terminal illness yesterday. And it’s not like the fact that you’re going to die is like this big surprise. Oh, my goodness, I’m going to die. I think you have to remember too that even if you get a diagnosis of a terminal illness, nobody knows when you are going to die. Brent was given six months; he lived for 18 months. And he went back to work and everything after his surgery, so nobody knows when you’re going to die. So, if you don’t put that thought, in your mind, oh, my goodness, they told me I have six months to live? Well, maybe, maybe you only have two months? Or maybe you have a year or 18 months. And I don’t dwell on the quantity. But what is your quality? What are you going, Brent wanted to live his life, the best he could every day he had left, whether it was six months or a year, or 18 months, which you don’t know at the time. They just say, well, you’ve got six months, if you don’t do all that I tell you to do you’ve got six months to live. Do what your heart tells you to do. Brent had said, no. I’m going to live the life I want to live until I die. whenever that is. And that’s all any of us can do. Because, like I said, death is not this big surprise that, we thought we were going to live forever. And all of a sudden, somebody said, no, you’re going die tomorrow. It’s like, well, that shouldn’t be a surprise. We shouldn’t be surprised about that. You just have to live your life the best you can day today. And if your heart tells you, yes, I want treatment, I want whatever, do what your heart tells you. Because nobody can make that decision for anybody except the person. And the doctors may want to make it but then, step back and take a look at things and see what you want to do in your heart. What is your personal truth regarding your body? Yeah. And then there’s people like Anita Moorjani, who was supposed to, everybody expected she was going to be, die within an hour or two and she was already totally unconscious, and she was down to 70 pounds or something like that. Had a near death experience, came out of it and woke up and her cancer went away within a couple of weeks, and she’s still going strong with no sign of cancer since. I’ve interviewed her a couple of times, so who knows what might happen? I mean, that’s the exception. But even that could happen. We don’t know. I mean, like I said, nobody knows, nobody can say, well, you’re going to die, you know, here, there? We don’t know.
Rick Archer: Yeah. It doesn’t seem that life is designed, so that we lose the big picture when we come into it. And I think it must be meant to be that way, because that’s the way it is. But they say people who have such insights in near death experiences, and I’ll say from the other perspective of the other side, you have a much broader vision of the whole scope of life. But once we’re here, it’s very dense, material plane, we lose past life memories, we lose a lot of insights that we might have had, and we just have to make the best of it. Perhaps the name of the game with spiritual progress is to gain that cosmic perspective while we’re fully ensconced in the material plane and integrate the two. I don’t know why I went off on this tangent, but it seems to me that if we can do that, then it solves so many problems, including this whole death topic. I mean, because we just, it’s no longer the big looming unknown that otherwise might be.
Clare Goldsberry: I think that’s true. I think there’s a lot of not only people with near death experiences, but a lot of the teachings of various, the ageless Wisdom Teachings, Eastern philosophies. And I think the thing to focus on is the life we have in the here and now, and the quality of that life, rather than thinking about the quantity of it. Everybody who’s 40 wants to live forever. By the time you get to 74, it’s like, well, maybe not so much. Maybe I’ll sacrifice a few years. My mother always said, well, I want to live to be 90, but I don’t want to live to be much older. She had these visions of her Aunt Clara, 104, and she, the day before 97th birthday, she just died. She kept telling my brother, I feel funny. I feel funny. And there was, he took her to the doctor, there was nothing wrong with her. Well, I feel funny. And so, the day after her birthday, on her birthday, people came and visited her and so forth. The day after her birthday, she died.
Rick Archer: Boom.
Clare Goldsberry: At least she got her wish. She didn’t want to live to be 100.
Rick Archer: Are you 74? You mentioned 74.
Clare Goldsberry: I am 74.
Rick Archer: I’ll be 73 in October.
Clare Goldsberry: I’ll be 75 In October,
Rick Archer: Oh well, I’ll never catch up.
Clare Goldsberry: You’ll never catch up. No, I’m way ahead of you.
Rick Archer: What day in October?
Clare Goldsberry: The sixth.
Rick Archer: Okay, I’m the 11th. Well, this has been fun. We could probably talk for another two hours about this and that. But I think we’ve given people a good glimpse of, opportunity to ponder these thoughts. So, anything you feel like you want to say that you haven’t had a chance to?
Clare Goldsberry: No, I think we’ve covered just about all of it. I always remind people at the end that, what Brent said, that is dying is easy. I hope it is for all of us. Dying is easy. He thought it would be harder. But it was really easy. And I think that’s a good thing to remember. Death maybe won’t be this big, horrible thing we think it is, but it will be easy. And I hope that for all of us.
Rick Archer: And as the Beatles sang, in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.
Clare Goldsberry: That’s right.
Rick Archer: All right. Well, thanks so much, Clare.
Clare Goldsberry: Thank you, Rick. I appreciate it.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and those who are listening or watching, I’ll create a page on BatGap for this interview, as I always do. All the previous interviews are archived and categorized in several different ways. So, you can explore around there and if you are the type of person who doesn’t like to sit in front of your computer for two hours watching a video, there’s an audio podcast for this program, which you can find the link to on the BatGap website. Thank you for listening or watching and we’ll see you for the next one, which is a gentleman named Stephen Schneider. I’ll now plunge into learning all about Stephen Schneider. I don’t know anything about him yet. I always sort of just binge on the person for a week that I’m about to interview and make a new friend each time. Thanks, Clare.
Clare Goldsberry: Thank you, Rick. See you around.
Rick Archer: If I ever come to Phoenix, I’ll get in touch.
Clare Goldsberry: There you go. Happy to see you.
Rick Archer: All righty. Bye-bye.
Clare Goldsberry: Bye.