Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest this week is Cynthia Lane. I first met Cynthia when we sat next to each other at the Amherst SCI course or whatever it was with Maharishi and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1971, Amherst, Massachusetts. And Cynthia was glowing and giggling as she is now. And she told me that she had just come back from Mallorca, Spain where she had been doing long meditations for six months. And I thought, “Whoa, six months, she must be at least in Cosmic Consciousness or something.” And so that was my first recollection of Cynthia. And we’ve kind of known each other ever since and lived in the same town for years here and there. Although these days you live in New Mexico, don’t you?
Cynthia: Santa Fe.
Rick: Santa Fe. Which we’d probably move to if we could afford it. Maybe we should… Ask about that. Yeah. So, the theme of these shows, as those who have watched some of them already know, is that we have a discussion with somebody who has had a spiritual awakening. And we don’t mean that in a religious sense or in the sense of the adoption of some new set of beliefs or change in attitude, although those things might come about as a result of what we’re referring to. But rather we mean something more fundamental than that, something which traditionally has been termed “self-realization” or “enlightenment” or higher states of consciousness and all sorts of terms like that. We tend to avoid the word “enlightenment” in these interviews because it has too much of a superlative, static connotation. And in my experience, everyone is still progressing and evolving and opening to new levels of clarity and so on. And so we want to avoid the notion that anybody, unless anyone would like to claim this, that anybody has reached the penultimate degree of human evolution. Although I did have one guy who wanted to be interviewed who said that he can guarantee me that he is more enlightened than anybody I have interviewed or could conceivably interview. So far I haven’t taken him up on the offer. I’m not sure how that interview would go. He also didn’t want his face on the video for some reason. He wanted it to just be an audio and not to announce his name. So in any case, welcome Cynthia.
Cynthia: Thank you.
Rick: Thanks for doing this. Most of these interviews we have done in a chronological way. A person has traced their journey over the years and how it’s unfolded. We can do it that way if you want. Or some people would like to just plunge in and talk about the moment when they woke up, if there was a moment. For some people that kind of snuck up on them, so they couldn’t put a finger on the date. So how would you like to proceed?
Cynthia: Well, I’ll let you choose it because it’s a gradual thing.
Rick: Gradual thing. Okay, good. So how did it start? I mean you were in high school and you were reading Zen books or something?
Cynthia: I wished. [laughs] No, actually in high school I was very rebellious, quite depressed. And that thing pretty much intensified, both those things, in college. And when I got to San Francisco State – I went to Reed College in Portland, Oregon for two years and then I transferred down to San Francisco State. And I’d say one moment of awakening was very important. That was, if I wasn’t happy, it wasn’t the fault of the environment. The fault wasn’t here. (points to her chest)
Rick: You realized that.
Cynthia: Yes, yes. So that was a real gift in that this is what had to change. And the other thing that happened was, all my life I had people coming to me for advice. Just one of those people that people…
Rick: Like I broke up with my boyfriend, what should I do?
Cynthia: Yeah, right. And one day, a friend of mine came to me and said, “So-and-so just did something and it seemed like something outrageous.” And I said, “Well, why did that person do that?” And she said, “Well, you told him to.” I said, “Oh my God.” [laughs] So I thought, “If people are going to listen to me, I better become wise. And I’m not going to give out another word of advice until I come to whatever that place is that I know.” That the equivalent of lifetimes would pass until that would happen. But I’d say those were two critical moments. And then, of course, I was living in San Francisco at a time when everything was waking up.
Rick: This was like late ’60s or something?
Cynthia: Yes, it was. I started at San Francisco State in 1966.
Cynthia: [laughs] Crunch. I was trying all kinds of things. This kind of meditation and Zen Buddhism.
Rick: Did you go through a drug phase?
Cynthia: Oh, yeah. [laughs] I’m trying to leave that out.
Rick: Right. Sorry.
Cynthia: I did. And it had a role. And then some friends of mine had learned TM. And they’d been talking about it for a year, but it wasn’t easy to learn because it didn’t–
Rick: There weren’t that many teachers in those days.
Cynthia: Yeah, and the courses were offered only now and then, and they were in Berkeley. And then Maharishi actually came to Berkeley and gave an introductory lecture. And I was not convinced at all. And I remember sitting in the audience really, really trying to take it in. And I do remember a couple of the jokes that he told, which really made an impression on me. I will also say that I went out and took a cigarette break in the middle of the lecture. [laughs] I must admit. So that’s where I was. And I remember at the end of the lecture, after everybody left, I went and sat in the front row, and I just watched him.
Rick: He was still there?
Cynthia: Yeah, he was kind of hanging around answering questions. And I wanted to know what a guru was. I just really wanted to know what a guru was. And then I did learn TM shortly after, and it was almost like I had a ring through my nose, and somebody was pulling it, and I just–
Rick: Just got into it.
Cynthia: Yeah, just got into it.
Rick: Started to have good experiences off the bat.
Cynthia: I did. I was completely disobedient. We were told to meditate maybe 20 minutes, maybe it was 30 minutes twice a day, and I immediately meditated for an hour, or however long I felt. [laughs] I wasn’t much into rules then, and I guess I’m still not. And it was easy for me to do that. I would just sink, and it was great. And then I began to develop a friendship, a network, and it became a world. So that was how that got started. And I laughed for the first four days after I learned TM.
Cynthia: Yeah, I laughed. And I really had been pretty depressed for most of my life.
Cynthia: I was really struggling.
Cynthia: So this was a big shift for me, and I’m very, very grateful for that.
Rick: Yeah, well that’s interesting, because I’ve always thought of you as a very jovial, cheerful person.
Cynthia: It took a while, but I got there.
Rick: So it wasn’t just the first four days. I mean, I kept laughing.
Cynthia: Yeah, that’s right. Yeah.
Rick: So this was what year?
Cynthia: I learned TM on November 3, 1967 in Berkeley, California.
Rick: Yeah, that was about six months before I learned or something. And then, did you start to go on some long courses or anything?
Cynthia: Yes, Maharishi came to Squaw Valley, and that was the leadership training program. And that was another big breakthrough. That’s when I decided that I wanted to be a teacher.
Cynthia: And a number of interesting things happened on the course. One was, my roommate–we all had to have roommates–my roommate used humongous amounts of hairspray, and I couldn’t stand meditating in that room.
Cynthia: So I would go start climbing up the mountain looking for the perfect place to meditate. And of course, two hours would pass before I found the perfect place to meditate. [laughs]) And then one day, I remember Maharishi commenting on the lecture, “And those of you who are spending all your time looking for the perfect place to meditate,” you know, that kind of thing.
Cynthia: But I did decide that I wanted to be a teacher at the end of that, and I began to–went back and started to work and save money and that kind of thing.
Rick: At this stage of the game, how much would you say you had changed in terms of your kind of subjective experience of life?
Cynthia: I think I began to feel much more hopeful and optimistic about life, which I hadn’t before. And also, you know, I’d begun to develop a community of friends, and that made a big–you know, having that supportive community.
Cynthia: But I was still, you know, a flower child, there was no doubt about it.
Rick: Yeah, well, you’re in San Francisco.
Cynthia: I’m in Rome. [laughs])
Rick: So, Squaw Valley, that was summer of ’68, I believe.
Rick: But you didn’t become a teacher until 1970, ’71, something like that, because–Mallorca, right?
Cynthia: Well, I had been accepted to go to an India course.
Rick: Oh, I see.
Cynthia: And I didn’t have quite enough money saved yet, so I put it off one more course.
Rick: I see.
Cynthia: And it turned out that that previous course was the last course in India. So then I get a letter saying–one week I get a letter saying, “You’re accepted to go to India,” and ecstasy, you know. And the next week I get a letter saying, “There’s not going to be an India course.” I just was devastated.
Cynthia: I was just–I wanted to go to India so badly.
Rick: So then there was Estes Park, Colorado.
Cynthia: Well, I didn’t do that. I had saved a lot–you know, all this money to be with Maharishi, so I decided I’m going to use it all to be with Maharishi. So I went to Humboldt, and then I went to Austria, to Kosen.
Cynthia: And then I went to the British Isles and hitchhiked around the British Isles for a couple of months. And then I went to–and I ended up giving TM lectures in the youth hospitals.
Rick: Oh, that’s fun.
Cynthia: Because I was the only vegetarian, so people would ask me, you know–
Rick: Why you’re vegetarian.
Cynthia: And so I went to teacher training in December of 1970 and then stayed for six months.
Rick: Cool. So let’s shift it a little bit more to the subjective, because some people listening to this aren’t going to care that you went to Austria or any of these places.
Cynthia: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rick: They’ll say, “So what? I’ve been there.”
Cynthia: Yeah, right, right, right.
Rick: So we want to kind of lead up to the idea of spiritual awakening. And so, I mean, a lot of people who are new meditators were told that it might happen in five to eight years. And there are people who have been doing it for 30, 40 years now who still don’t feel like they’re anywhere close. And so in your case, what was the scenario? I mean, did you have glimpses of what we might call self-realization early on, and they became more and more clear and frequent and stabilized? Or how did it go?
Cynthia: I would say in terms of steps of noticing something– Well, first of all, my first year of teaching, I was able to teach a lot. Part of my path was surrender. I basically–it took me a long time to surrender. I watched Maharishi for a long time. I was very careful. But once I surrendered, whomp, that was it. And so I think part of my growth was surrender and wanting to serve him and teach through serving him. And I just taught my brains out. My first year of teaching, I taught about 500 people, which was wonderful. And I would just–at the end, sometimes we would teach 20 people in a day. And at the end of the day, I was in the zone, for lack of a better–I don’t know what to say. So there was that growth. I think for me, the path was as much the act of teaching as meditating. So the teaching part was at least as significant as the actual meditation. And then I think it was–it’s hard to remember years. I remember one day I was leading an ATR course. Those were the rest courses for teachers at Cobb Mountain in California. And one day I realized–and I started witnessing. And that was a real sudden. I was not doing anything anymore. There was no inner sense of doing. And this probably would have been around 1973 or ’74.
Rick: Right. So let’s zero in on that a little bit. So by witnessing, you just described it a little bit, no sense of doing anymore. Were you just sitting there giving a lecture or something, and all of a sudden that happened? Or did you wake up one morning and there was a sense of that?
Cynthia: There had been experiences of that before. Sometimes when I was teaching, I would suddenly, out of nowhere, just become gigantic. And it wasn’t me speaking anymore. And at the same time, there would be this sense of ecstatic gratitude. And how I kept talking, I don’t know. So there had been a sort of an expansion and a contraction, expansion and contraction like that. And then one day, it was just there, and it was very, very vivid. I could not have any sense of doing anymore. It was like I never spoke. So I could come to the end of the day and feel like I never said anything. And I’d have to remind myself, “Oh, yes, you did.” You’d been talking all day, eating lunch, doing all this stuff.
Cynthia: (laughing) Yes, so I’d say the actual stabilization where it was just there all the time, that came around ’73 or ’74.
Rick: And let’s elaborate on that a little bit, because some people might find that a confusing notion, in that if you weren’t doing anything, how were you doing something? I mean, who is the “you” you’re referring to, and so on and so forth? Because most people identify with themselves as being this body, which has a certain age, a certain size, a certain personality, likes and dislikes, and so on. And so obviously you’re not implying that your body stopped doing things, or that people no longer heard you speak, but you’re saying that what you identified as who you essentially were was recognized, and the nature of that was that it was not doing anything. It was silent.
Cynthia: My inner reality, my inner knowing, was that there was nobody doing anything. And so I could hear myself talk, and I knew I was talking, and I could watch myself drive the car, or whatever, but my inner reality was absolutely non-doing.
Rick: And did you feel like you still were a person on some level, or did you feel like there’s absolutely nobody home, and there is nothing which could be identified as me?
Cynthia: At that point there was still definitely a person. So there was an inner reality of non-doing, and then there was a person.
Rick: Yeah. Who had?
Cynthia: Who did stuff.
Rick: Who had? Who did stuff?
Cynthia: And had some problems, even.
Rick: Well, is there not still… I don’t want to jump ahead, but is there not still a person who does stuff and has problems sometimes?
Rick: Eats and sleeps and breathes?
Cynthia: Yeah. It’s very different now.
Rick: Okay, we’ll get to that.
Rick: Okay, so this is ’73.
Cynthia: ’74, yeah.
Rick: Okay. And what happened during that period, once that had been established, and you felt like you weren’t doing anything, there was no one doing anything, day and night, what happened when you slept? Did you just go conk out, or was there some inner awareness?
Cynthia: There was some inner awareness, but I’d say it wasn’t as consistent in sleep. Or as vivid in sleep.
Rick: So you’d wake up in the morning and you wouldn’t really have been awake the whole time, but you’d sort of, you know, there it is again, the silence, I’m not doing anything.
Cynthia: Right, right. It wasn’t so vivid at night.
Rick: So ’74, so that’s pretty good, that almost fulfills the 5-8 year thing. (Cynthia laughs) So nobody can argue that that never happened.
Rick: So then you proceeded along, going on courses, I’m saying this because I know that’s what you did, because that’s what I did.
Cynthia: We waved to each other.
Rick: Teaching, going on courses, teaching, going on courses, and that probably went on for a decade or two.
Cynthia: Yeah, yeah. I’d say the next big leap came in what Marci used to call the six-month courses.
Cynthia: And I ended up being able to round for a year.
Rick: Round means meditate a lot, interspersed with some yoga asanas.
Cynthia: Yeah, and with Marshi coming and giving lots of input and all that. And I took some just gigantic leaps there in terms of… There’s witnessing and then there’s being just infinite and everywhere. And so for instance, one day I came outside and I was just… It’s hard to talk about it, I was just everywhere. I was in everything, I was everywhere. And so the whole idea of going anywhere, even walking, was impossible. We didn’t have the flying stuff then, but it just seemed to me like I should just drift away. But there was no away, there was no place to go. And I really understood what Marshi meant about just a tiny remainder of ignorance, because there was just enough of me left to register that I was actually walking. But there was really no sense of going anywhere, no matter how much I walked, because I was already everywhere.
Rick: So you were probably taking walks with your friends after lunch and stuff like that, talking and walking and doing stuff. And they might not have had a clue unless you told them what was going on, but your predominant reality was what you just said.
Cynthia: Right, right. And I could feel my heart go out and embrace objects. And it was as if I loved everything so much that it became myself. So it was almost like something came out of my heart and embraced the object with just such love that it became myself.
Rick: Yeah, great appreciation.
Rick: So you’d see a tree or a squirrel or something, and it would become yourself.
Cynthia: It would become myself. But I would actually feel this, it was as if something came out of my heart and wrapped around the tree and made it myself in love.
Rick: So there was some kind of active, subtle active process going on.
Cynthia: So there was that, and then we had experiences with Soma and all kinds of openings.
Rick: Soma means what?
Cynthia: Soma is, my understanding, I have two understandings of Soma. One is, when the small self meets the big self, in the Soma Mandalas it’s called the grinding stones, when the small self meets the big self.
Rick: So that’s what the grinding stones are all about. Then the metabolism starts to produce this very, very fine substance called Soma.
Cynthia: And Soma feeds the finest, the way Maharishi explained it was that the senses have two values. There’s the structure, so there’s your eye, and then there’s a devata, there’s a lively intelligence that makes that structure actually see. And that the fine, the devata lived on the finest structural level of the sense, and Soma was what could – the only thing that could – feed the devata that could go on that finest level. So as the Soma flowed every time you transcended, and it was literally ground out by your metabolic system, that’s part of how your senses became refined.
Rick: So the average person must have a devata down there somewhere.
Cynthia: Everybody has one.
Rick: Is it all one devata for the sense of sight, or does each one have their own devata? And by devata we mean a sort of impulse of intelligence.
Cynthia: A lively intelligence.
Rick: Like an expression or a seed of intelligence.
Cynthia: I never thought about that.
Rick: So you don’t know one, right?
Rick: But obviously the average person, they may not be grinding out a lot of Soma, but they can see, they can hear, they can, you know. And so what is feeding that devata, that impulse of intelligence that causes their sense of sight to function?
Cynthia: I think, oh, that makes, I think you’re just born.
Rick: That enables them to see and so on.
Cynthia: I think that’s just a gift that comes with birth, that that intelligence is there for us.
Rick: Yeah. Alright, so maybe we could say…
Cynthia: Or if we’re blind, but not.
Rick: Yeah, based on your experience, maybe we could say that the intelligence is there, which enables us to see, but if we want the sight to become really sublime and refined, and see everything as itself, and engulf everything in love and all that, then there has to be some kind of subtle nourishment or subtle enlivenment of that intelligence.
Cynthia: It helps support that experience, yeah. And love is a big, you know, a big player in all of this.
Rick: Right. It might be worth interjecting that the way Maharishi outlined it, there would be self-realization first, and as you described, and then there would be the growth of the heart, and then it would generally sort of go in that sequence.
Rick: Yeah. Okay. So that was like six-month courses in Switzerland and all?
Cynthia: 75, 76, yeah.
Rick: 75, 76.
Cynthia: And the other thing that I began to experience is that my body was in me. I was no longer in my body. So I would feel almost like when I walked, sometimes it was, this will sound silly, but I felt like I would be taking a dog out on a leash or something.])
Cynthia: The body, you know, the body came along, but my body was in me. I was not in my body anymore.
Cynthia: I was in my body, but I was also everywhere.
Rick: Yeah. Interesting to dwell on that one, because, you know, a lot of people think, “Well, I am my body. This is me, and when it dies, I’m gone.” And other people think, “Well, yeah, there’s some kind of more essential, deeper thing that somehow dwells in my body, and that’s me.” You know, some little person in there someplace.
Rick: But what you’re saying is that what you really are, and I’m sure you would say what everyone really is, is something much more vast, universal, unbounded, and that, you know, rather than the body containing the self, the self, in the truer sense of it, contains the body and everything else. I mean, it probably contains the chair as much as it contains the body, right?
Cynthia: Right, right, right, right.
Rick: There’s a popular notion that I think Marianne Williamson or somebody coined, which is that, you know, “we’re not human beings having a spiritual experience, we’re spiritual beings having a human experience.”
Cynthia: Yeah, absolutely.
Rick: I think this kind of gives a new flavor to that.
Cynthia: Uh-huh, yeah. You know, we’re a universal spirit functioning as a human.
Cynthia: Taking our bodies for a walk. [laughs]
Rick: Yeah, right, taking our bodies for a walk, functioning as human beings.
Rick: Yeah. But did you still feel a kind of a sense of personhood at that point, even though, you know, there was this big self containing the body? I mean, obviously you had preferences. When you went to lunch, you took this food rather than that food and so on. Ice cream.
Cynthia: Ice cream, plenty of that. Yes, alongside that was a lot of, I would say, emotional purification. So there would be expansion and then there would be, you know, waves of tremendous purification. Because, you know, I had a lot of depression and anxiety and, you know, I really wasn’t in very good shape when I was young. And so a lot of that, so whatever basis for that there was had to be released. And it would get, you know, it would get shared.
Rick: And what was that process? Were you like crying a lot or something?
Cynthia: Oh, yeah. [Laughter]
Rick: But then that would come in big waves and then the wave would clear and then you’d feel all groovy again?
Cynthia: Yeah, and most of the time, I noticed that, even when the sadness would come I always witnessed the sadness. I was never absolutely totally lost in the sadness.
Rick: Right, there was some silent, unaffected…
Cynthia: Right, but I was still weeping, you know.
Rick: Yeah, sure. How about anything really extreme? I mean, did you ever like injure yourself in such a way that it was extremely painful or anything like that or have to, I don’t know, have a tooth drilled or something that caused great pain that caused you to actually lose that witnessing or was it just unperturbable once it was established?
Cynthia: Memory is a bad thing. [Laughter]
Rick: Just curious.
Cynthia: I think what happens with the witnessing is it just becomes how you are.
Cynthia: So you don’t go looking for it.
Cynthia: You think, “Wow, am I still that?” But it just becomes such a natural way of being.
Cynthia: So I think once I looked for it, it was never lost.
Rick: Right. Huh, that’s interesting. Once you looked for it. Once I looked for it.
Cynthia: If I looked for it, I would become aware of it.
Rick: In other words, there it is.
Cynthia: But you know, you just live life, you don’t go around thinking, “Oh boy, I’m witnessing.”
Rick: No, of course not. I sometimes like to use the analogy of a tone, that pretend it’s a tone, not consciousness. And if there was this tone going all the time, just a quiet tone, you wouldn’t always hear it because you’d be busy doing other things, you know. But if any time you chose to, you’d go, “Oh yeah, there’s the tone. It’s still there. It hasn’t gone away.”
Cynthia: But I remember one time, you know, something had happened. I’d had some interaction towards the end of the six-month course, and I was just crying my eyes out. I mean, I was really in like emotional pain, and at the same time I was witnessing it.
Cynthia: And part of me was saying, “This is weird.” [Laughter] But you could have both things going at the same time, but I did.
Cynthia: There was stillness, and then there was crying.
Rick: Actually, a lot of people I’ve interviewed say that after their awakening, all hell broke loose for a while. A lot of stuff started getting released, which was all bottled up beforehand. But then, after awakening, they had the capacity to allow it to release more readily or something.
Cynthia: Right, right. We couldn’t stop it. It’s a good or another way to put it.
Rick: Yeah, you had no choice anymore.
Cynthia: Yeah. The waking down people have what they call the “wake down, shake down.”
Cynthia: Wake down, shake down. [Laughter] That’s a good way to put it.
Rick: Yeah. All right, so you did long meditations for a year and went through all this profound transformation, and then you had to come back to the United States.
Rick: Right. So what happened then? Oh, you know, more teaching. [laughs]
Cynthia: More teaching, more projects. Trying to remember.
Rick: Did you find that this kind of, the richness and wholeness of the experience that had developed over there on the one-year course was sustained when you came back, just the way witnessing had been stabilized for ’74?
Cynthia: For a while, that sense of vastness and the body being in me, that was very clear for a while. And then, you know, you get tired and you lose some of the vividness of the experience, absolutely. I’d say, “Oh, I see it went in.” Yeah, it just, you know, it did dim some.
Rick: Yeah. And then you’d probably go on some other course and it would clarify again.
Cynthia: Right, the witnessing remained, but the sort of ecstatic expansion part, that became less.
Rick: Well, was there a practical value to that? I mean, would it render you any less effective in activity to have all that ecstatic expansion going on?
Cynthia: No, I think especially if you’re teaching, I mean, you’re very inspirational to people when you’re in that place.
Rick: But, you know, making phone calls and doing bookkeeping and all that stuff, would ecstatic expansion be a plus or a minus?
Cynthia: Oh, it’s always a plus. [laughs] Because, you know, you get on the phone and you just cheer people up. You end up making jokes with them, you go to the grocery store, you jive with the people, you know. You become a source of cheering people up. [laughs]
Rick: So we’re still in the ’70s.
Cynthia: And then the flying thing came.
Rick: Flying thing, okay. How was that for you?
Rick: And you might as well explain what flying thing means.
Cynthia: Well, Maharishi started to teach the Yoga Sutras, and one of the ones that he taught was flying. And interestingly enough, when I had been on the six-month courses, he had asked me if all, we had started studying these sutras, these processes for enlivening consciousness in every aspect of life. So that it wasn’t just an awareness, it was there for you all the time, everything that you did, everything that you thought. And he had asked me, of all the sutras that I had, you know, known about, which one did I want. And all of a sudden I said flying. I said, “Oh, Maharishi, I’ve always wanted to fly.” And within two days, he was offering…
Rick: So it’s your fault.
Cynthia: But anyway, it took me a while to, I had to go home and then, you know, save up the money again and go take the next course. And I think that after I got the sutras, then I think I began to, they didn’t cheer me up.
Rick: What did they do?
Cynthia: I think then stressing became more, became dominant.
Rick: By stressing you mean purification?
Cynthia: By purification, more, more, more, it’s like I fell back into, life just became difficult.
Rick: Oh, interesting.
Rick: And so did you keep doing them or did you settle on…
Cynthia: Oh, yeah.
Rick: Did you pass through that difficulty or did you, was it still difficult as long as you kept doing them?
Cynthia: It just kept, you know, I have faith, you know, I have faith in the process.
Rick: Grinding along.
Cynthia: Yeah, and so, you know, I kept doing them. And I mean, I went through a time of being so just broke and poor. And it was like, it was as if all the ways that life had supported me in the past just fell away instead of jumping in. It was, life pretty much fell apart, really. And, you know, on the surface level.
Cynthia: But on the inner level, the witnessing that I really, really, truly never lost.
Cynthia: But life just became extraordinarily difficult and extraordinarily challenging. I ended up coming to MIU, I think, and being on the CETG program.
Rick: Maharishi International University in Fairfield, Iowa.
Rick: CETG means you were on a staff position.
Cynthia: It was like, it was a…
Rick: Staff study kind of thing.
Cynthia: It was a, we were able to earn a master’s degree. We would help run the university during the day.
Rick: Right. And then at night we would theoretically take classes.
Cynthia: [Laughter] So
Rick: I wonder if this might have been some kind of dark night of the soul thing that you often read about in the spiritual literature. People have some glorious awakening and then they’ll go into a blue flunk for a while, you know.
Cynthia: Yeah. It could have been. I don’t, or, I don’t, life really wasn’t fun.
Cynthia: It was okay, but it wasn’t fun. I, you know, when I was on CETG, life kept handing me teaching jobs.
Cynthia: I got to teach a knowledge program for the staff and this and that. And I love, I always loved teaching. Teaching was just always a gift for me and I loved the knowledge. But I’d say my personal life just felt like blah. You know, there wasn’t, it didn’t feel like life was supporting me. I felt like I’d entered into a period of poverty from which I might never emerge.
Rick: Not just financial poverty, but some kind of emotional poverty or, I don’t know, other kinds of poverty as well.
Cynthia: Yeah, it was like nothing came easily.
Cynthia: Nothing in everyday life came easily. It was just all about hard work.
Rick: Rainbow Star wrote a song about it.
Cynthia: Oh yeah, yeah. So, maybe it was just one of those phases.
Rick: So how’d you come out of it eventually?
Cynthia: Let’s see.
Rick: Presuming you did.
Cynthia: Oh, you know, there was the next project and the next project. [laughs] And eventually I joined, in 1970, in 1972 at a course for TM, a rest course for TM teachers, Marishi had brought up the idea of monks and nuns.
Rick: Oh, right.
Cynthia: Non-sectarian monks and nuns, but we would be celibate and we would just live a life of service. And I signed up Lickety Split. I really wanted that. And he never discouraged me, though he did discourage a lot of women. And so, when he finally came up with a program called “Mother Divine and…” How many heads for Paroosha? Anyway, a thousand heads for Mother Divine, so many heads for Paroosha, I thought this was it. And at the time I was on an all-women’s program anyway in South Fallsburg, Then we all went to India to teach TM, which was a whole amazing experience.
Rick: Yeah, you finally got your India fix.
Cynthia: Well, the thing that was interesting was that you enter into a society that is totally non-linear.
Rick: Yeah. And you realize that you are in control of nothing, which I think is the great lesson that humanity is learning now. You are in control of nothing. And if here’s the goal and here you are, there are no straight lines between you and anything. You have to cycle in and hope that you come anywhere near the goal of what you’re going to do. It was just letting go, man. It was really a huge experience of that. And then, of course, I got sick and everything, too. But I will say I had a very interesting experience, which I’d like to share.
Cynthia: In my sense of the future, there’s a lot of talk about the year–
Cynthia: –2012 and what’s happening. I am absolutely convinced that we are well into coming into a period of huge light-based life for humanity. And it’s not going to happen because anybody convinces anybody else that one paradigm is right and another paradigm is wrong. I just really believe that it’s going to be the hundredth monkey thing where there’s a certain amount of consciousness and then everybody flips. And I had an experience teaching in India. It was very, very challenging to set up a course. Again, it was the nonlinear thing. People would say, “Oh, yes, madam, we’ll help you. No problem.” And then you get to the place where the lecture is supposed to be all set up and the door is locked and nobody’s done anything.
Rick: I know. Indian mentality. I’m well aware of it. And Indians say, “Oh, yes, no problem. I will have it tomorrow.” Nothing. Nothing happens. They just say it.[laughter] They don’t like to say no, so they say yes, but it doesn’t mean anything.
Cynthia: So one place we were really trying to set up a course was in this medical school in Jaipur. And we’d run into every roadblock and crazy situation you could. And finally I was talking to this one man. He was our last best hope. Now, two of the members of my team–we had a team of four–had gone into silence and they weren’t helping us at all. And the other member of my team was sick, so it was basically me.
Cynthia: And so I’m talking to this professor. He’s the last possible person. And I’m sitting in a–I remember sitting in a really huge room with him. Maybe it was a class–empty classroom or something. And he’s saying, “No, madam, sorry, not possible,” in so many different ways.
Cynthia: Out of nowhere–and I do not pretend to know what this was–I heard a huge clap. [clap] In the environment. And he switched from saying, “No, madam, not possible,” to, “How can we set this up?” And he did not remember.
Rick: He didn’t hear the clap.
Cynthia: He did not hear the clap.
Rick: Is this a subjective thing for you?
Cynthia: I don’t know.
Rick: A tape recorder in the room, wouldn’t it pick it up?
Cynthia: I have no idea, but it was like this huge, really loud, cracking sound. And he changed on a dime, and he did not remember that four seconds ago he was saying no. And he switched to saying yes.
Cynthia: And I feel like that’s what can happen to human consciousness. When there’s enough light, we just wake up one morning, and we forget that we didn’t like each other. You know, “Those Muslims? Oh, my God, they’re the nicest people in the world.” “Those Christians, they can’t do enough for you.” It’s just more on that level of it’ll just happen. So I think that was a real gift for me, just to see how that could happen. I mean, I was aghast. Of course, I didn’t remind him or say, “Are you sure?” I just said, “Oh, great. Now let’s go for it.” And we did end up being able to teach there.
Rick: Yeah. Huh. That’s neat. I wonder what actually happened.
Cynthia: I will never know, but it was something.
Rick: So how long did you stay in India?
Cynthia: That time, I think we stayed for four months.
Rick: Did you get amoebas and all that?
Cynthia: Oh, yeah. [laughs] That was a whole other thing to work through.
Rick: Some friend of mine said he went to India expecting the bottom to fall out of his world, and instead the world fell out of his bottom. [laughter]
Cynthia: But I loved teaching in India. It was wonderful. I didn’t mind the challenges. It was great.
Rick: So that was late ’70s or some such thing, early ’80s?
Cynthia: That would have been, yearh, that was right around ’80, ’81, I think, when we all went to teach.
Rick: So moving along, what’s the next significant thing that really comes to mind in your story?
Cynthia: I went on this program just for women –
Rick: Mother Divine, right. C- which I thought would be very fulfilling and really was very difficult. I won’t go into it. But it was very, very difficult, but it was also very strengthening to be able to meditate that much. My family went through a horrendous crisis.
Rick: Your family, like your parents or something?
Cynthia: Yeah, and that of course affected me, and I ended up releasing some deep stuff. Very, very difficult time. And I’m very glad that I was on Mother Divine when I went through all this, because I didn’t have any responsibilities.
Rick: bSo in other words, what your parents were going through, or was this unrelated to your parents, the deep stuff?
Cynthia: It triggered.
Rick: Yeah, it triggered something.
Cynthia: It was a family.
Rick: So this is kind of reminiscent of what you said a little while ago, where you were on this course and a lot of purification took place. Now you’re saying some even deeper stuff?
Cynthia: Deeper stuff. This was the kingpin, the kingpin issues. So they came up. And I often–sometimes Marishi used to use the analogy, “when the sheet, the whiter the sheet gets, whatever spots remain show up more vividly.” But it was like you–Mother Divine wasn’t easy. It was self-confrontation all the time.
Rick: Yeah, and perhaps inter-confrontation.
Cynthia: Right, right.
Cynthia: And then, you know–
Rick: Get a bunch of crazies all in one place.
Cynthia: Right, right. And you’re all stepping on each other, and we had these groups of ten. It was like being married to ten people instead of one, you know. But it was–boy, the stuff really hit the fan for me personally.
Rick: So what does that mean exactly in terms of actual concrete experience? What were you experiencing? Hallucinations or emotional upheavals?
Cynthia: No, such intense fear. Fear, okay. I’m lucky I didn’t go crazy. It was by God’s grace.
Rick: Was it sort of an abstract, amorphous fear? Like just fear without–
Cynthia: No, it was fear.
Rick: Were you fear-afraid of this, that, and the other thing?
Cynthia: It was amorphous. It was just being taken over by fear, being taken over by intense pain and sadness. I mean, it was big stuff. And it was fortunate that I was on Mother Divine doing that because, again, I didn’t– had I had to go to work or something during that time, I don’t think I–
Rick: Well, it probably wouldn’t have happened if you were going to work, you know.
Cynthia: Yeah, right, right.
Rick: I mean, it wouldn’t have been allowed to get stirred up.
Cynthia: And I think another thing that loosened it all up was we used to get an Ayurvedic purification process called pancha karma, which was also very powerful. And we would give these treatments to each other, and I think that also really loosened it up. Helped to stir it up, yeah. But it was a very–
Rick: How long did the fear phase last?
Cynthia: Well, the worst of it lasted for months, several months.
Rick: Day and night?
Cynthia: Pretty much, yeah.
Rick: So you were just walking around–
Cynthia: Fear and pain, both.
Rick: Physical pain, like that you could isolate, or just kind of emotional? Well, actually, yes, there was a physical– My back got so bad that I couldn’t move. There were times when I was just out flat, you know, and so that if I needed to use the bathroom, I had to roll off the bed. And, you know, it was way beyond the reach of ibuprofen. [laughs] Yeah, there was a physical component as well. It was very intense.
Rick: That’s interesting. Do you see this as having been essential in some way, that this crap was down there and it really just had to be rooted out?
Cynthia: Oh, yeah, it had to go.
Rick: And there was probably no easy way, easier way for it to go?
Cynthia: I don’t know, but it had to go, that’s for sure. And I’m grateful that it came up, that I was able to work through it and let it go. And it made me a much more compassionate person, a much more compassionate person.
Rick: Because you couldn’t understand what people go through.
Cynthia: I never had really understood how painful things can be.
Rick: And so did it eventually–obviously it did–it eventually dissipated, and the sun started to break through the clouds, and the little birdies started to sing.
Cynthia: Yeah, the little birdies started–yeah. And I had some really good help. I was using craniosacral therapy and acupressure, acupuncture, and those were both tremendously helpful to me.
Rick: And so you eventually left this program. Did it all kind of clear up before you left, or did you just leave and then it cleared up?
Cynthia: In large part it cleared up. By far the worst, if it was over. I thought it was all over, but it turned out there was another layer. I thought it came later on. But yes, it made it possible for me to leave the program.
Rick: Right. “Made it possible” meaning you couldn’t have left in the midst of this, that’s what you mean. You wouldn’t have wanted to step out in the world while you were in this fear phase.
Cynthia: It gave me the self-knowledge, knowledge about who I was and who I really wanted, what I really wanted from life.
Rick: Oh, I see. So what you’re saying is that, having gone through this catharsis with all the fear, then, when that cleared up a bit, an awareness dawned in you of what your calling was, or what your purpose was, or something.
Cynthia: More about how I really wanted to live life.
Rick: How you wanted to live your life.
Cynthia: I didn’t want to be a nun anymore. So being freed of those tremendous emotions that had really been running my life for most of my life, whether we call them belief systems or emotional constructs or charges, once they were released, then I was free to discover more about myself.
Rick: So did you feel at that stage that an intuition was guiding you to do this, go that way, explore that? You were becoming more free and experimental as opposed to following an external prescription for how you should live?
Cynthia: Yes. I began to have the courage to be myself. Or not even the courage, the freedom to be myself. Once those fears, fear just ties you up in knots, and you think you have to follow a formula and do this and do that. Once I let go of that fear and the basis for that fear, which had really run my life for most of my life.
Rick: Without your even knowing it.
Cynthia: Absolutely you don’t know it. [laughs] And then I began to be able to… It’s very difficult to live the life of an enclosed nun that you’ve been on for seven years. You’ve meditated with the same group of people for seven years. You’re like one body. And then to think about how you’re going to go out in the world and support yourself. I was left with two boxes of books and a suitcase. [laughs] And I didn’t come to Fairfield. I knew that I wanted to be in the world. I went to Washington DC.
Rick: So did you find that once you became more independent in your thinking, in terms of the things you wanted to pursue, that you didn’t fit so neatly into the TM world anymore? Or into the TM movement world anymore?
Cynthia: Into the Mother Divine world.
Rick: That’s a pretty precise niche.
Cynthia: I began to… I would say it was a tremendous process of self-empowerment. Of knowing that I had to be myself. I remember giving myself permission to know myself and to be myself and to operate as myself. My version of the infinite.
Rick: Were you engaging in any kind of courses or seminars or anything that taught this way? I mean there are seminars that teach people how to do that sort of thing. Or was it just your own initiative?
Cynthia: At that time I was learning craniosacral therapy and acupressure. And I did get a lot into… and I took courses on that. In fact, I treated people on Mother Divine. They welcomed what I had learned. And I think it was more in helping people… not another teaching, but helping people to release the emotions, the belief systems, the constructs, the charged energies that they held inside so that they could become their authentic selves. So that was the thing to address, rather than just meditating and hoping for the best. To address those things head on.
Rick: Now it’s interesting because a little while ago you were talking about a phase in which you felt like there really wasn’t a self. There wasn’t any sort of inner identity. There was no one home in some sense. And now you’re talking a lot about becoming your authentic self and doing what you really want to do and all that. It seems a little bit paradoxical.
Cynthia: It is paradoxical because there’s still no sense of doing inside. And yet the personality… they both exist… it’s like they run in tandem. They run in tandem. There’s the self that doesn’t do and the self that has no limits. And then there’s the person in the world. And so there was still a very strong person in the world and there was a humongous amount of purification. And I’m so grateful that I had that stable basis on which to… for the floods to flood. [laughs] Because it was very deeply challenging. And there may have been times during that period when I lost the witnessing. I don’t remember because it was such a humongous emotional hodgepodge.
Rick: I heard a quote recently from Nisargadatta which I’ll probably mention in several interviews until I get tired of mentioning it. In which he said that “the best measure of enlightenment is the degree to which you’re comfortable with paradox, ambiguity and”… what was the other word? I don’t know… maybe “uncertainty”… some other word… arbitrary… one of those kind of things.
Cynthia: There are no absolutes in the relative. [laughs]
Rick: Right. And yet a large percentage of people in this world try to create them or to hold on to them for the sake of security. I’m absolutely convinced that this political perspective or this religious practice or whatever… because they feel more secure holding on tight to such a thing. But it’s really not security because it’s always under assault by all the things which contradict it. If you could actually step into those perspectives it would be equally true from those perspectives.
Cynthia: That’s right. It’s all true and none of it’s true.
Rick: Yeah. So it seems ironic but uncertainty is a much more secure place to be than certainty.
Cynthia: That’s right, and I’m really in a place where I can honestly say I know nothing. [laughs]
Rick: Alright. So you flew the coop. You went to Washington DC. And… You were doing… were you a professional cranial sacral person?
Cynthia: I started to do cranial sacral therapy and I also did western astrological charts.
Rick: Okay. You had learned how to do that.
Cynthia: I had learned how to do that when I was 18 and I’d always loved it and I revived that. And that was a very valuable tool for me, learning to understand the human psyche. Because the western system is very oriented towards personal healing and personal growth and that kind of more psychological approach. And I also was teaching TM. The teaching thing for me has always been very strong and it was a huge… consistently huge gift. And I started teaching the TM technique, you know, magically almost in the international development world. And I just kind of waltzed in…
Rick: Meaning like diplomats and people like that?
Cynthia: The World Bank, the International, the IMF, PAHO, the International Development Bank, the African Development Bank. I just wandered in there like it was home. [laughs] And it was almost like wandering in there and I was very, very dedicated to the idea of getting the whole international development community to change their development paradigm.
Cynthia: Single-handed, right? ]laughter] Because what I saw was that when they would go into countries, the first thing they would do was to try to rebuild the economic infrastructure put in the roads and the railway lines and all that kind of thing. So that people could create an economy. But clearly, if you build a railroad and you build a road and you don’t change people’s internal strength and creativity and motivation, the railroad’s going to collapse and the road’s going to go to heck. So I wanted them to bring some balance. And so I taught TM like crazy there. Oh boy, I met the most wonderful people.
Rick: That’s great. What year was that? I keep asking you years, but I’m curious because I taught in DC for a while and I actually went into some of those places and set up group meditations.
Cynthia: You did?
Rick: And there were people there who had been meditating who got to do some group meditations on their lunch hours.
Cynthia: Yeah, yeah. So it would have been, I think I started in ’88.
Rick: That was after my time. So you did that after me.
Cynthia: Yeah, and I just, it was my baby man I focused on this thing.
Rick: That’s great.
Cynthia: I thought I was determined that at least one country would adopt a group of 7,000 and all that. And at the same time, I was doing my own thing. I was doing cranial sacral and Western astrology, which was heretical.
Rick: Cool. Did they give you any flack for doing that stuff?
Cynthia: A certain individual did, yes. [laughs]
Rick: Yeah, gave you a hard time. But what we’re alluding to is that, within the TM movement, there are certain activities which weren’t approved for a teacher to do. And if you do them, then you begin to get some heat from the powers that be, or certain powers anyway.
Cynthia: Anyway, so I did that. I was there for about five years. And then I just was seriously wiped out. Living in Washington, DC and all that.
Rick: That’s an intense place.
Cynthia: And also working to support my work in the movement, which happens often. You hardly make anything from teaching. And you perform all these services for all these wonderful people. And you have to find a way to pay your bills. So I was pretty wiped out. So then I came here.
Rick: Yeah, to Fairfield, Iowa.
Cynthia: Yeah. And that was the beginning of another big shift on the personal plane. Well, I did continue to work for the movement for a while. I worked for John Hagelin’s Institute. I maintained my contacts in the international development community and tried to cultivate them. I ended up being able to go and see Marie Sheen with some people and all that kind of thing. But I reached the point where I just couldn’t work in order to work for the movement anymore. I couldn’t do it anymore. And I actually quit my very last movement job. And that was a huge–it was a very difficult decision for me. And it was just a huge transition. Because for the first time in 28 years, I started to have a personal life.
Rick: Yeah. Even though there was no person.
Cynthia: Yeah but, you know, I began to do what I wanted to do, I had earned just enough money to kind of pay my bills. And I spent hours wandering around the Jefferson County park.
Rick: I know. I was thinking that. I often saw you there.
Cynthia: Boy, did I bond with that park.
Rick: We’d take our walks there with our dogs.
Cynthia: I was always there every day. And it was like I was just giving myself permission to just be a person, you know? And that was really a wonderful, wonderful period. And during that period, some friends of mine began to study with a Native American man. Now, I had always been fascinated with Native American stuff, even when I was a little girl. But I never really pursued it, because I didn’t think anybody would ever share anything with me. Why should they? Well, this door opened. They had started studying with this man who lived up in Des Moines. And the door opened to study with him. And at first, I did not want to do that. There was just no way I was going to do that. I was just letting loose of this teaching. I certainly didn’t want to get involved in a whole other teaching. But we’ll just say that, again, it was one of those conspiracies of life that I ended up going to study with him. And I’ll tell you about a wonderful dream I had right before I started. And that was, I was standing, in the dream, I was standing in a doorframe. It was absolutely empty. There was no door there, just a wooden doorframe. And on one side of the doorframe was a wooden room. It had four walls and a floor, but it was absolutely empty. And it was old wood. I mean, it was empty, but it had four walls and a floor. And on the other side of the doorframe was light. Oh, all the gorgeous white, golden light you could ever want. But there was nothing to hold on to. So I was standing in that doorframe, knowing that what would be behind me was empty. And that where I needed to go was that. And I was afraid. By the time I left off studying with that teacher, I had jumped. The Indian teacher.
Rick: The Indian teacher, right. The guy in Des Moines.
Rick: So it’s interesting. I mean, after all the decades of meditation and long meditation courses and really deep stuff and profound celestial experiences and vast expansion and all that stuff, you found some Native American guy in Des Moines who really had a lot to teach you.
Cynthia: He did. And what he taught me was very, very important. Because I had chosen the most austere route through the TM movement. I mean, I was the nun and the full-time teacher and not looking to the left or to the right, service, service, service. And I needed to bring that all down and bring it into life. I needed to connect with the earth and to connect with life. And one of the things that he showed me and taught me was that everything that I had always thought you had to close your eyes to achieve, they had the exact same goal, so to speak, and they did it all with their eyes open. So, for instance, one of the exercises that we would do was we would go out into the woods, into these places that he would prepare for us energetically, and we would sit there all night, even in the wintertime, and, you know, doing various kinds of, you know, using different tools that he had given us, and we were not to close our eyes. And I remember the first time he put me out in the woods, and I was sitting there in the woods with my…
Rick: All by yourself?
Cynthia: Oh, yeah, totally by myself.
Cynthia: By myself, at night, in the woods, and I thought, “Yes!”
Cynthia: “I’m doing spiritual work and I’m in the woods and my eyes are open, yes!” [laughs]
Rick: That’s great.
Cynthia: So that was good, and there was a huge, huge amount of growth from that, of learning, really, that all this is nothing but that.
Cynthia: You know, that…
Rick: All this is nothing but that absolute being.
Cynthia: Everything. Everything is being. Everything is essence.
Rick: You didn’t already know that?
Cynthia: But it wasn’t… Yes, but I wasn’t living it. I had a long list of things that were good for me and bad for me.
Cynthia: And the truth is, everything just is.
Cynthia: Everything just is. Nothing’s good or bad. Everything just is.
Rick: Which is not to say that you started knocking back a pint of whiskey every day.
Cynthia: No, but I did eat meat, which was a huge deal for me.
Rick: That’s a big deal, yeah.
Cynthia: [laughs] I don’t… You know, I can’t really digest it, but I did… I did… So, I mean, I ate it for a while and then backed off, but, you know, I had to recognize that, you know, being… It’s all being.
Cynthia: And everything just is. And then we make up stories about it and we say it’s good or bad and we overlay interpretations.
Cynthia: And so we… It becomes that for us. We create a reality in which this is good and that is bad. Now, in relationship to food or whiskey or something like that, I let my body tell me what it wants.
Rick: And so far it hasn’t wanted any whiskey. [Laughter] This is sort of reminiscent of the way the Waking Down people go about it, which… In which they, you know… You know, many of them have initially achieved some sort of awakening, but it’s not embodied, So there’s a lot of emphasis on, living it in a nitty-gritty way.
Cynthia: You know, but…
Rick: I can’t mention them just because I’ve interviewed about five or six of them, so…
Cynthia: And actually, in the healing work that has evolved inside me, that is what I help people do, is to bring their light into this physical form.
Cynthia: And to live it.
Cynthia: And to find it everywhere and in everything. But really to ignite it in ourselves.
Cynthia: So it’s not just a state of consciousness.
Rick: Back up.
Cynthia: It’s… The whole body is nothing but light.
Cynthia: To transform that body into light.
Rick: How do you actually enable people to do that? Or is that premature in this discussion?
Cynthia: I don’t care.
Rick: Okay, we can get into it now and then maybe we’ll look back if we want to.
Cynthia: Well, what… The first thing that I do… There was a real emphasis in the Native American program that I was involved in, in living in your heart. Getting ut of your head and into your heart. And my teacher used to tell us all the time… I will mention that this man was not, in quotes, what we would call an “enlightened man.” And one of the great lessons for me, in working with him, was discriminating between… But he was very well, we could say, connected through ceremony. What was coming from God and what was coming from him. That was a huge and very valuable lesson. Another lesson is self-empowerment and trusting yourself and not giving it all away to the teacher.
Rick: Which I might add, in my opinion, is true of any teacher, no matter how lofty or exalted they may be. They’ve got personality, you know. They’ve got cultural attitudes and personal inclinations and so on. Which, in some cases, people take as all being divinely inspired. But, you know, personally I don’t think that’s necessarily the case. But that’s maybe a side discussion.
Cynthia: So what happened was… I call the work that I offer to people, I call it “First Light Transformations.” Because when we work together, we sit in the very first light or very expression of creation.
Rick: How do you get people to sit there?
Cynthia: By resonance, because that’s where I live. So it just happens. So being with you over a session, they kind of settle into that?
Cynthia: It’s immediate. It’s through resonance, that’s all. And the first thing I do is I get to see the person as a soul, as a light. It’s not about auras or anything like that. But just who they are as a divine impulse.
Rick: How does that appear?
Cynthia: It just shows up in my awareness.
Rick: So does that happen only when you’re having a session with people? Or does it happen in a supermarket checkout line, you kind of pick up on something about each person?
Cynthia: Sometimes that happens, but I definitely don’t try. I would consider that very invasive. I don’t want to walk around knowing all that stuff about people. Anyway, I just want to get my groceries and go home. So sometimes I’m just with people. There’s a knowing, but there’s no effort for that.
Rick: When you have your sessions, it’s more of a…
Cynthia: I have permission.
Rick: Yeah, you’re saying.
Cynthia: The person’s come for some help, and I have permission.
Rick: You can do that with me, by the way, during the seminar. If you haven’t, then do it already. [laughter]
Cynthia: And then what I do is, life gave me a technique for helping people to be in their hearts. And what I find is that the heart is a kind of a portal for the truth of who you are and for your light. And all the stories are in the mind. So there’s a really wonderful… It’s a very simple technique, I call it “the bowling ball technique,” for bringing people into their hearts. And as soon as people are in their hearts, it’s like that light, the divine impulse. The impulse of divinity that we each are, just shows up, and it literally begins to infuse through the heart and fill the body. Now, that is not something that I try to do. It’s just… I really don’t do anything. I’m lazy, no good. [laughs] Space holder.
Rick: Is that what you let everybody that you have this with?
Rick: Guarantee or money back sort of thing?
Cynthia: Well, I suppose, yeah. It’d be fine with me, if somebody really wanted to. [laughs] Yes, and then what happens is, if there are places where that light can’t seem to suffuse, maybe there’s a belief system there, or an old emotion or all that. And then I just have, based really on my old experience with cranio sacral therapy, just – everything is a metaphor. Just a metaphor. A way to release some of the old charges and the old belief systems. And very lovingly, because everything in life serves a purpose. And then the light can take over and take over and take over. But the whole idea is for everybody to live the biggest version of themselves. The infinitely inspired version of themselves. And to come to a place where we live, not from rules or belief systems, but jumping out of those empty rooms and into the light, and realizing that we are in control of nothing. So give it up. [laughs]
Rick: How many sessions does it take the average person to get this?
Cynthia: There’s usually a very… One of the other things that’s very important for me is to not create any sense of dependency or any sense that I’m some great healer or anything.
Rick: Rather than you and me and you in our group.
Cynthia: Right. I feel like we’re in a paradigm shift of universal spiritual empowerment, where everybody’s supposed to discover how big their light is and how they can really take care of everything. So consequently, people have a wonderful experience, and then they may not call me for six more months or a year or something.
Rick: Someone suggested in one of my interviews that as time goes on, it’s like as if membranes that block the realization of this stuff are getting thinner and thinner. The way he put it was, maybe the Buddha had to pierce a very thick membrane in his day to have his realization. So he was a real pioneer, a unique soul who was capable of piercing that. These days, that same membrane that he pierced is so much thinner that many, many people are having that kind of breakthrough. It’s becoming more commonplace, which is actually a theme with the name of this show, Buddha at the Gas Pump. The implication being that people in everyday, ordinary life are having that kind of experience that was once considered to be extraordinary and reserved for the most exalted souls.
Cynthia: Right right right. Now it’s about Buddha at the Gas Pump. The paradigm shift is not just a single guru and a whole bunch of students, but everybody becoming that.
Rick: One question that comes to mind is, you spent years going through this really heavy stuff and doing all this really intense practice, a year at a time of long, long meditations, and all this deep garbage coming out. Now, are you suggesting that the people whom you now meet with are experiencing comparable progress or shifts as a result of a few little sessions that you do with them? In other words, the membrane has gotten thinner and it’s easier for people now to get the same thing that you had to spend all that money and time on?
Cynthia: Absolutely. I call our generation, I call us the “mud sluggers.” You know, Maharsh used to say we were born at 0% natural law. So it’s like we had to slog through all the mud of all the craziness and all the dysfunctional families and all the density of human consciousness. And now it’s so much easier for people to make these breakthroughs. And I’m not saying that processing has no role. Sometimes certain things do need to be consciously processed. But now, an awful lot can be accomplished just by turning on the light.
Rick: Yeah. And I mean on the flip side, a cautionary note is that I sometimes hear a lot of people saying that, “Well, you know, I realized who I am and that’s it, I’m done, you know, finished.” And I really get the sense that there’s a lot more progress yet to be made, but they’re kind of like, you know, taking the easy way and just sort of dumbing down the whole awakening process, you know, and failing to recognize that there are indeed stratas and further progress. And I don’t think they’ll be allowed to realize, to see it that way forever, because nature would give them a kick in the pants.
Cynthia: But, yeah. But just to add the stuff about the so-called red path and the role that it…
Rick: What’s the red path?
Cynthia: The Native American teachings. Because then I also went on to study with somebody else.
Rick: Oh, I didn’t hear about that.
Cynthia: It was very important for me to integrate and to bring it all down to earth. What I put on my website is I felt like every cell in my body turned around 180 degrees, because I was bringing that light out into the world and finding infinity in the grain of sand. I’ll give you an example. This teacher said that when he was very young, it was known that he was gifted and special, so he was sent for special training. And he went to be with his grandmother. And his grandmother, he said, would send him out to look at a leaf every day. And he was a squirmy little boy, so he would come in after an hour or two, and his grandmother would say, “What did you see?” And he would say, “Nothing.” [laughs]
Rick: So, “a leaf.”
Cynthia: Right. But he said after six months, one day he was looking at the leaf, and it opened up, and the whole world was in that leaf. That leaf was fully transparent. So that’s what I was learning, that you choose your path, whatever resonates with you. Whatever paradigm is most resonant with you, go with that. But it’s all available all around us. It’s everywhere. It’s who we are. All we need to do is remember it. It’s not hard. It’s everywhere. It’s remembering it.
Rick: “Seek and ye shall find.”
Cynthia: That’s right. But the whole Native American path has given me the ability to really, really live the infinite and to complete that whole process of evolution. I also became a sun dancer, and I have a pipe.
Rick: Sun dance, is that the thing where they hook the things?
Cynthia: Yeah, but the women don’t do that. [laughs]
Rick: Oh, good.
Rick: It would be easier to hook, but on the other hand–
Cynthia: One thing about Native American ceremony, if you can look at that, is that it’s not just a question of closing your eyes and transcending. They participate fully, mind, emotions, and body, in every ceremony. So the whole human structure participates in ceremony. So when that light comes, it’s not just in awareness. The whole body gets transformed. The whole body gets permeated by light. After the sun dance, I feel I can’t even–it’s like I’m just light. It’s because of bringing the whole physical participation in. You participate–every aspect of your humanity participates in the ceremony.
Rick: So when you did the sun dance, it was a watershed moment, then you were transformed ever after as a result of that?
Cynthia: I would say, first of all, in my studies with the first teacher, there was a lot of focus on– everyone has their own relationship with the Creator. Nobody can tell anybody else what’s right or wrong. Everybody has their own relationship with the Creator, which we can say our own relationship with ourselves and our own knowing. So our job is to clear away any belief systems that would keep us from, again, laying interpretations over what wants to come through us. So there was more work on belief systems, and there was more purification. There was actually more to do. I can say I brought him a truckload. But it was very, very liberating and really beautiful. I would say the next amazing thing that happened on that path was when I was given a pipe. And to explain to you what the pipe is for me, there was yet another ceremony where I received a Lakota name. It’s called “The Making of a Relative.” And prior–I had asked for the name, and then it took a whole year until the ceremony came about. And during that year, I kept running into snakes and wondering, “Well, what does this mean?” I mean, even in San Diego, I ran into a rattler in a park in San Diego. So I knew the snake was saying, “Hey, hey!” So I asked different people, “What does it mean?” And I read the silly books and all that. But finally I got that for me it was about molting. I was about to go through a big change. Well, there’s a part in the ceremony where you’re wrapped up in a Lakota star blanket, and then they give you your name–you throw off the blanket. And I knew that as soon as I threw off the blanket, “Oh, I just molted.” I’m letting go of who I used to be, and then they give you your name, and I’m starting to embody that name. And then at the same moment, the person who gave me the name, the wonderful, wonderful chief from up in Eaglefield, he put his huge ceremonial pipe in my hand. And when he put his pipe in my hand, this light came into my body and filled every cell in my body. Now, I’ve had many experiences of light, really beautiful, transcendent light. And it was that same transcendent light, but it came with a strength. That’s the only way I can explain it. So that not only were you filled with light, but you were given the strength to live the truth of that light in this third-dimensional world. So that you could live with integrity and courage. And it was just–it changed everything in my body.
Cynthia: It was really amazing.
Rick: So was that sort of experience the predicted and intended outcome of this particular ceremony?
Rick: I mean, is it something that Native Americans are accustomed to having, to seeing happen in people when they do this and give them a pipe?
Cynthia: No, no.
Rick: So did you explain to the man what had happened to you?
Cynthia: I told my teacher. He said, “Oh, yeah.” He wanted me to share it with other people.
Rick: Yeah. So, in other words, you got more of a whammy.
Cynthia: I got a whammy. I got a big fat whammy! [laughs]
Cynthia: It was a gift.
Rick: And obviously, I mean, you’ve always had good experiences.
Rick: And you’ve done a lot of preparation, which probably made you more receptive to that kind of experience. I’m not sure if I’d experience quite the same thing.
Cynthia: Well, I used to say, you know, if I hadn’t been meditating, I wouldn’t have understood a thing they were talking about.
Cynthia: So it was a gift.
Rick: You’d laid the ground.
Cynthia: Yeah. So when you said you had another teacher after the guy in Des Moines, was that another Native American teacher?
Cynthia: Right. That’s the man who gave me the pipe.
Rick: I see. And he was up in South Dakota.
Cynthia: He’s up in South Dakota. Right. I don’t know if it has somebody else in South Dakota.
Rick: Interesting. So does that pretty much bring us up to the present, in terms of all the significant stages of your–
Cynthia: Well, no. I would say the final stage was I moved to New Mexico.
Cynthia: I was up in Des Moines studying with this guy for about four years. And it took me about another year and a half to figure out what the next step was.
Cynthia: And then I went to San Diego for seven months to study with the healer. And then I moved to New Mexico. And when I moved to New Mexico, I thought, “Oh, boy, you know, great people, great life.”
Cynthia: But that’s not what God had in mind. It was my time in the desert. It was a period of very, very deep silence about me. And it was me and the earth and God.
Cynthia: Many days I didn’t talk to people.
Rick: You were just in a fairly secluded area.
Cynthia: Yes. I could barely–I couldn’t make–God didn’t let me make friends. I barely had enough work to survive. I ended up making jewelry. So I’d sit and string beads for hours. It was great fun. I called it “living in the content-free zone.”
Cynthia: But it was a period of really letting go of the very, very, very last belief systems and all sense of having any control over my life whatsoever.
Cynthia: It was just a final, final, final emptying out, so that truly, on no level was anybody home, nor would anybody ever be home again.
Rick: So was it the silence of the desert that helped you do that? Or the sort of–I don’t know, the willingness?
Cynthia: I think willingness plays a huge role in evolution. Just willingness to just see the gifts that God is laying before you and surrender to those gifts, even if it’s not what you expected or what you wanted. Somebody had told me I was going to move to New Mexico and not have any friends and not have any work. So I tried hiking because I love to hike. My first day out on hiking, I sprained my ankle. I wasn’t even allowed to hike. I was just supposed to be still and know God.
Cynthia: So it was a beautiful period, challenging period. But at the end of it, it was really complete.
Rick: It seems like your–
Cynthia: I call that the final whatever.
Rick: It seems like your life has cycled between periods of intense activity like teaching at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., and then periods of deep silence for a long time, and then another period of intense activity. It’s gone through these cycles.
Cynthia: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: So–go ahead. I was going to say, so when you say, that “it’s the end of it, finished,” maybe you can elaborate on that a little bit. What’s so final about this particular stage?
Cynthia: On no level is anybody home.
Rick: So if I whack your finger with a hammer or something like that, does somebody come home and say, “Ah!”
Cynthia: No, no, I have a body. But in terms of my identity, I would say that it’s just pure transparency.
Rick: Explain to people why you would consider that a desirable thing. Because some people, when they hear those kind of words, they don’t like the sound of it. They feel like you’re being robbed of something precious, that you’ve had the soul sucked out of you or something like that.
Cynthia: Oh, you’re absolutely free. There are no definitions. There are no “shoulds,” there are no “shouldn’ts,” there are no “oughts.” There’s only the inspiration of the moment. And we could say letting life live you instead of feeling like you have to be in control of life. You have no opinion. I have no opinions.
Rick: Do you vote?
Cynthia: I do vote.
Rick: So you have an opinion there.
Cynthia: But it’s not an opinion.
Rick: If you go to a restaurant, you choose this thing over that thing.
Cynthia: Yes, but it’s a feeling. Like, “I really like this guy.” So it’s not a fixed opinion that I’m right and everybody’s wrong. There’s just my knowing that this is what I want to vote for.
Rick: This is for you.
Rick: So when you say you have no opinions, you mean in the sense that some people have an opinion. For instance, they say, “Gay marriage is wrong.” And those people are going to hell. And you’re probably more kind of like live and let live.
Cynthia: Totally, yes.
Rick: Whatever people are inclined to do.
Cynthia: Right, because again, it’s being in a place where life just is. Life is just being itself. And there’s nowhere where I am not. And life is just being itself. So yes, I’ll go into a restaurant and I’ll– and there are things that I like and don’t like. And if you step on my toe, I will say “Ouch.” But in terms of my reality, there are no limits to that. There’s no–and I have no sense that anything is true or untrue. Everything just is.
Rick: But still you have preferences. I mean you would sort of–I’ll just play with this a little for a minute. For instance, you would–I don’t know. If we had a modern day Hitler and a modern day Mother Teresa, you would probably feel that the Mother Teresa person is deserving of support and encouragement and whatnot. Whereas the Hitler guy needs to be stopped somehow. He’s doing something harmful and there should be some corrective action.
Cynthia: What I feel is that it’s all in God’s hands. And in terms of economics, politics, and all that, it’s like I am the universe, but I’m not God, so to speak. And I feel like everything is unfolding exactly as it should. I don’t have to fix anything. Everything is just being taken care of.
Rick: Now if everybody felt this way, would the whole society be sort of wishy-washy, apathetic, sort of like, “Oh, whatever,” and nothing would get done? I mean, or in your specific life, do you have plenty of motivation and determination to do things?
Cynthia: If I had a choice, if I could do absolutely anything at this point, I would just kind of walk and talk my way around the world and go around meeting people, experiencing different cultures. I mean, if I was economically wealthy, that’s what I would do. Just interact with people, learn from them. Maybe they would learn from me.
Rick: I think I would do it, like buy an RV and just kind of drive around.
Cynthia: Yeah, that would be it. [laughs] So I mean, in terms of–yeah, I mean, there you have it, something that feels right. But it’s like impulses come, and they don’t come from a sense of an individual trying to find fulfillment. They just come as, okay–and impulse moves you. You don’t even have the thought, “I should do this,” or, “I should do that.” You just find yourself doing that. So it’s like the intellect, with all its complexity, just plays a much more background role, and you live from here.
Rick: So in other words, the fulfillment is there. You’re fulfilled whether or not you do this, this, or this. But impulses come, and they motivate you to do this, this, or this, or this instead of that, and so on. But the completion or fulfillment of this particular project is– your fulfillment is not contingent upon that. It’s got to be there.
Cynthia: Yeah, upon doing anything.
Rick: And when you’re doing certain things that really take a fair amount of gumption and determination to accomplish, do you muster that up, and you’re kind of focused and working hard, and so on? Or have you found that you’re a little bit more laid back?
Cynthia: Neither. I’m just present.
Rick: So whatever is appropriate, whatever is called for.
Cynthia: Right. I’m just present, doing whatever it is I find myself doing or find myself moved to do.
Rick: I guess the reason I’m pursuing this line of questioning is that people have a tendency to try to define awakening in terms of some external criteria. And they often either glorify or criticize it based on external criteria, saying, “Oh, the person is so perfect and nothing–they couldn’t possibly do anything wrong.” Or they might say, “Oh, well, they’re wishy-washy. They don’t have convictions. They’re just going with the flow way too much.” And so I’m kind of probing a little bit to sort of see the reality of the situation and how, as I suspect, it’s not incompatible with practical life.
Cynthia: Oh, it’s totally–you know, it’s–I’ll see how it– No, it’s not incompatible with practical life. You know, I pay my bills and I work and all that kind of stuff. But it’s just–life just is, and life just unfolds. And it doesn’t take courage or lack of courage. You’re just present. You just find yourself doing what Life, with a capital L, has you to do. I really feel like each of us is–we’re both the ocean and the wave. And we’re each very different. It’s like the Infinite is exploring different possibilities of its own nature in each of us. So Nancy’s version of, in quotes, “enlightenment” or “perfection” is going to look one way, and yours is going to look another way, and mine is going to look another way. You know, a rose becomes a perfect rose, and a peony becomes a perfect peony, and a daisy becomes a perfect daisy. And so we just need to find our own version of perfection. And some people, without a doubt, will be leaders and dynamic and have a mission, but they’ll just know it. They’ll know it and they’ll do it. And other people will be more about–less dynamic, and some people will be zero dynamic. And everything in between, so there’s no one version. So each of us needs to find our own–be our version of the Infinite.
Rick: Yeah. There’s all that talk in the Bhagavad Gita about dharma.
Cynthia: Right, right.
Rick: Doing that which is most natural and appropriate for you, as opposed to for somebody else.
Cynthia: And that’s it. And that’s it. And then you become–and then you fulfill that aspect of the universe.
Cynthia: And you live from that infinite place inside.
Rick: Yeah. Cool. So these days you live in Santa Fe, and your life consists of maybe doing some cranial sacral still?
Cynthia: No, I don’t do that anymore.
Rick: No, not that. But you’re having these light sessions with people.
Cynthia: Right, and I do work over the phone a lot. And I do a lot of writing and editing.
Rick: Just as a professional writer, just to make money?
Rick: Yeah. That’s good to know.
Cynthia: And life tends to hand me some pretty interesting projects, which is nice. And I’m outside every day. I hike every day. That’s really–that earth–we’re very much an earth person. And I draw a lot of sustenance and balance and joy from the earth. So I hike most days.
Rick: Yeah. We talk a lot about moving out that way. Some of us–Colorado.
Cynthia: High and dry. Humidity free. [laughs] Do you have a sense of what the coming years might bring, or are you just so much in the moment you never think about it?
Cynthia: Sometimes I’m given some information, even though it may change it. And I do know that for the next two years, I’m supposed to be out sharing my work. And that’s all I know.
Rick: So you travel around, meet with people, do your sessions and stuff like that.
Cynthia: Right, right. I’m supposed to not just sit at home and wait for somebody to call, but actually go out and share.
Cynthia: And so I do know that that seems to be what I’m supposed to do for the next few years and beyond. I have no idea what’s going to happen. And it’s fine.
Cynthia: And that intuition could shift next week, and that’d be fine, too.
Rick: Right. Well, is there anything that we haven’t talked about that you kind of wish I had asked you about, or that you were going to sort of wish you had said once we finished this, and you think, “Oh, we should have talked about that.”
Cynthia: I think just, as much as possible, to convey that life just is. And we don’t need to overlay any interpretations on it. And there are no goods, there are no bads, there are no lights, there are no darks, unless we decide that it’s like that, and then it becomes that for us. So life just is.
Rick: Well, not to belabor this, but–
Rick: Let’s say somebody is listening to this who’s lost their job, and their house is going to be foreclosed, and they don’t know what in the heck they’re going to do, and they’re scared to death, and they’re afraid they’re going to end up in a tent or something. I mean, how do they relate to that advice of “life just is?” Can that help them in some practical way?
Cynthia: I think–I know that sometimes everything is taken away so that we can become something new. Now, that’s an interpretation. Right away, I admit that’s an interpretation. But I think that people just need to learn to live in their hearts and find the inspiration, find what life is trying to say to them in that given moment, so that they can surrender to where life is trying to take them.
Rick: Yeah, and it seems like that’s happened to you a number of times over the years.
Cynthia: Oh, really? [laughs]
Rick: You know, carrying a couple of suitcases–
Cynthia: I still live month to month.
Rick: No money, no–
Cynthia: Don’t own money.
Rick: Yeah, somehow it just works out.
Cynthia: That is it. Everything works out. I feel utterly taken care of. I never worry. Even though I really have nothing in the bank, I have no idea how I would ever retire or anything like that. But I’m fine. I’m really fine.
Rick: There’s that beautiful quote from the Bible, you know, “The lilies of the field seed.”
Rick: I forget what that’s from. “They don’t toil or spin or sow, but even Solomon in all his glory is not adorned as one of these.” I’ll garble my Bible quotes.
Cynthia: [laughs] Right, right.
Rick: The basic idea is God’s going to take care of them, so if he’s going to take such good care of these little lilies, what’s he going to do about a human being who is so precious to him?
Cynthia: Yeah. And it’s also another way of saying, you know, “just because you live in fulfillment doesn’t mean you’re a millionaire.” You know, it’s…
Rick: And “just because you’re a millionaire doesn’t mean you live in fulfillment.”
Cynthia: Right. So everybody is living out a different version of reality, and it’s perfect.
Rick: Yeah. Good. Well, I can’t think of a more perfect way to end the interview, so…
Cynthia: Well, thank you.
Rick: Let’s do that.
Cynthia: All right, brother. Thank you.
Rick: Nice to meet you.
Cynthia: Nice way to reconnect.
Rick: Yeah. So people who have been watching this, we can… There’s a number of ways to watch it, and so you may be watching it on Facebook or YouTube or BatGap, which is Buddha at the Gas Pump, or you might be listening to a podcast, or someone may have sent you an audio. But in any case, if you go to… Sort of the nexus of all this is BatGap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, which stands for “Buddha at the Gas Pump.” So if you go there, you will find all the interviews that have been done so far and all the ones that are going to be done, and you can subscribe to the RSS feed and get it as a blog thingy, or whatever that’s called.
Cynthia: [laughing] It’s getting late, so it’s hard to remember.
Rick: I’m learning all this on the fly. I have no idea how to set up a blog or a podcast or run a video camera. I’ve just got to do it. But in any case, that’s the place to go. And there’s a mailing list you can get on to be notified of things and so on. So thank you for watching, and we’ll see you next time.