Dale Borglum Transcript

Dale Borglum Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest today is Dale Borglum. Dale founded and directed the “Hanuman Foundation Dying Center” in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the first residential facility in the United States to support conscious dying. He has been the Executive Director of the Living Dying Project in Santa Fe and since He is the co-author with Ram Dass, Daniel Goleman and Dwarka Bonner of “Journey of Awakening, a Meditator’s Guidebook”, and has taught meditation since 1974. Dale lectures and gives workshops on the topics of meditation, healing, spiritual support for those with life-threatening illnesses, and on caregiving as a spiritual practice. He has a doctorate degree in mathematics from Stanford University. And before we get into it and before my iPad goes to sleep, I just want to read a couple of quotes that I picked up from reading one of your articles, which I just want to throw in there because they are nice quotes. One was from Don Juan Matus from Carlos Castaneda’s book. He said, “For Don Juan, death was an ally, inspiring us to make each moment more alive.” And another quote I picked up from reading some of your stuff is, “The dying process is potentially the most direct and immediate opportunity for spiritual awakening of an entire lifetime.” So, Dale, welcome, and we don’t necessarily need to start with the quotes I just read, although we could if you want, but you’re a good teacher and a good talker and I’m sure this will unfold naturally and will cover a lot of ground.

Dale: Thank you for having me. I’m really looking forward to this.

Rick: Yeah. So, where would you like to start?

Dale: Well, the idea that death is a great opportunity. I remember many years ago I was running the Dying Center in Santa Fe and I was writing a grant proposal to some foundation in Manhattan to some guy on the 29th floor of a building, and I put down, “Death is a wonderful opportunity for awakening,” and I thought, “Wait a minute, is this guy going to understand that?” And I thought, “I don’t really think so, I have to really tone this down.” But my deep understanding and feeling is that we all are enlightened already, we’re free, we’re whole, and what it is that distracts from that truth is our strong identification with body and personality. It’s very difficult right now for us not to be preoccupied with the fact that I’m on a camera and I’m talking to you and you’re in Iowa and I’m in California, and all those qualities in the dimension where things are dualistic and change. But when in fact we’re approaching death and our bodies and our personalities are falling away, what is it that remains? What remains is consciousness, living spirit, and in a very real sense, all of spiritual practice is about coming to that understanding that yes, we have a body, yes we have a personality, yes there is this dimension where everything changes – our bodies change, our minds change – but is there a dimension where nothing is changing, where each moment consciousness is receiving experience? So when we’re dying it’s much easier to remember that second dimension, that second quality of who we are. And it may sound strange, but the most beautiful Americans that I’ve ever met, with very few exceptions, are people who are almost dead, because they are willing to be more fully who they are. Everything else is being stripped away – all of our attachments, all of our identities – male, female, rich, poor, big, small – all those things become increasingly irrelevant.

Rick: Back in 1970, I spent 3.5 months training to become a meditation teacher in residence, and I picked up several concepts that I’ve been carrying around with me ever since, and maybe I could tell you those and you could dispel them or comment on them or whatever. One was that if you’re the average person and you’re deeply attached to the objects of the senses, then when you die that attachment is sort of torn away from you, and it’s said in some Indian philosophies that it’s like the sting of a thousand scorpions being wrenched from the things to which you’re attached. Whereas if you’re an experienced meditator of some sort who has devoted a lifetime to experiencing the transcendence, diving into the transcendent, which in itself is a form of death in a way, because the individual ego has gone beyond, then dying is just like one great meditation, in the sense that you’re really going for it big time and you’re so accustomed to relinquishing the indulgence in sensory experience that it’s no big deal. So there’s another point I’ll bring up, but what do you think about that one?

Dale: Well, I would agree with that. The Tibetans say that when you die, one of the first things that happens right after you die is a light appears that is as bright as a thousand suns. So if during your life, during my life, we have practiced not only letting go of all these attachments that will appear as being stung by a thousand bees, we have also practiced dying into the light, experiencing love and joy, then dying will be another moment of dying into joy. So in life, often spiritual practice takes the form of working with compassion, working with the stuff that’s difficult. We come to spiritual practice because we want to be happier. At the same time, there is a parallel practice, which maybe is even more difficult, which is learning to bear how incredibly and perfectly beautiful and love-filled existence truly is. So to the extent we can do that, then after we die and we go into this after-death state where the light appears, if we have practiced being in that non-dual joyfulness, then we’re home. To the extent that it’s too bright, then all these potential bee stings that are exactly what’s making it feel like it’s too bright will begin to appear, and we have the opportunity then to let go of those attachments. And it’s a much easier opportunity than it is right now, because we don’t have a body and a personality and we’re in the light, but it is still our karma that’s appearing at that moment.

Rick: Yeah, I was talking once with this woman who is Amma’s right-hand lady, who walks around as her shadow and attends to everything, and she was of the opinion that not a heck of a lot of people actually get enlightened in this lifetime, at least by her definition of the word, but that if a person has been devoted to spiritual practice, there’s a fairly high likelihood that they’ll get enlightened upon their death, I guess because it’s such a huge release as compared to anything else that occurs in one’s life. What’s your thought on that?

Dale: I would say that’s really true, that we live in a culture that’s really preoccupied with the physical, with entertainment, with accumulation, and this idea of just being joy and letting go into love is going very strongly against the current that we’re participating in every time we turn on the television set or go out in public practically. So certainly there are many people who have been on the path for a while and have reached some degree of attainment, but again and again get sucked back into being identified with who am I in relationship to what it is that’s going on out there. Ram Dass has this great quote, “If you’re a son of a bitch and you get enlightened, you’ll be an enlightened son of a bitch.” So it isn’t that our personality completely falls away, it’s still there, but that as we proceed we become much less attached to the way we’re manifesting. And I really think that the strongest practice at this time, which is according to some people rather “dark age,” if you will, is some combination of a deep, inner contemplative practice combined with an outer, intimate relationship with dying. And in fact Trungpa Rinpoche, one of my first meditation teachers, said that until one comes in intimate contact with dying, your spiritual practice will have the quality of being a dilettante, because until we know we’re going to die in our bones, very probably we’re using meditation to become better, to improve, to do the best we can in the dualistic realm. And in fact, in Buddhism they have what are called the four mind-turning truths, the truth that if we really become them, not just think about them, but take them into our core, that it turns our mind towards the truth. And the first one is, “We’re going to die, but we don’t know when.” So you know you’re going to die, I know I’m going to die, and we’re both pretty much assuming that we’re going to be alive until the end of this interview. But if we didn’t know that, if we really didn’t know that this might be our last sentence together, then how would it affect the way that I’m saying these things to you Rick, and you’re hearing what I’m saying? Roger Ebert, the film critic who, as you probably know, recently died of a very difficult cancer, was writing an interview about how cancer had affected him. And he said, “As I type this sentence, I don’t know that I’m going to be alive to type the period.”

Rick: Yeah, Amma always makes this comment that we should live our life like a bird perched on a branch which might break at any moment.

Dale: Same idea. Same image, maybe even a bit more beautiful.

Rick: I’m sorry, so there were four points and you had brought up one.

Dale: Well, that was the one that affects us right now. The other three things that turn us toward the truth are, life is precious. This is the only moment in which we can be together, this is the only moment in which we can awaken, this is the only moment in which we can love. The third truth is, there is karma. What we do, what we think, what we say has an effect. And the last truth is, if we act with attachment, with grasping, with rejection, then we create suffering. So all of these things are rather obvious intellectually for anybody who’s done some thinking, but if we gather them together like a bouquet of beautiful flowers and take them inside then it brings us into this immediacy of living that wants to find that truth in each moment.

Rick: You probably have heard Woody Allen’s quote, he said, “I don’t mind dying, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

Dale: Yeah, and that’s very funny, but in the same way it’s a little bit sad.

Rick: Well, yes and no, I mean, it’s like, I understand his joke, but in a way you’re not there when it happens if you’ve really done the spiritual work, because you’ve already sort of died.

Dale: But I think the way he’s saying it is that he’s…

Rick: He wants to be checked out somehow.

Dale: Yeah, he’s going to want to take all the drugs or he’s going to want to die in his sleep. On Halloween my brother died of pancreatic cancer, and he died over an eight month period, which was in a way difficult for his family, difficult in him dealing with his body and the medical establishment, but at the same time it gave him this opportunity to really deeply and profoundly let go of the things he was attached to. And by the time that he finally did leave his body, it felt to me like he was free, that he had let go of clinging to this body that was not really working anymore, to this mind that was not needed anymore, and that he was resting in his embrace with the Beloved.

Rick: Nice. There’s a couple of assumptions that perhaps you and I take for granted, because we both have a background in sort of Eastern traditions. One is the eternality of our essential nature. You know there’s verses in the Gita like, “You grieve for those for whom there should be no grief, but speak as do the wise. Wise men grieve neither for the dead nor the living.” And then it goes into verses about reincarnation, which is another assumption, that you take on new bodies just like you put on new clothes when old ones wear out. So it might be good to lay those out, because I’ve actually interviewed some people, like for instance Tony Parsons, who says, “There is no reincarnation because there’s ultimately essentially no person, and so when you die that’s the end of the story.” Maybe he’s one of these people who says you get enlightened when you die, I don’t know. But let’s discuss these assumptions a little bit, because they might not be shared by everybody who’s listening here, and would you say as a question that it’s kind of necessary to accept these assumptions in order to really approach dying the way you would encourage people to approach it?

Dale: Yeah, that’s a great question. And the longer I’ve done this work, the less I think it’s about dying and the more I think it’s about healing. So that whether you believe in reincarnation or heaven and hell or Shirley MacLaine or whatever metaphysical viewpoint you might happen to have, what interests me is, what can I or you do right now that will help us awaken and die into our identity as love? So actually, one time somebody asked the Buddha, “Does reincarnation exist?” And the Buddha said, “Well if it does exist, then how would you live your life?” And the fellow said, “Well because I would want a good next birth, I would meditate a lot and study the scriptures and be an all-around nice guy.” And the Buddha said, “Well if reincarnation doesn’t exist, how would you live?” And he said, “Well because this would be my only chance, I would really meditate a lot and really study the scriptures and be an all-around nice guy.” And the Buddha said, “Just so, it doesn’t really make any difference, it’s all just metaphysics.” So the fact that death exists, whether that’s the end or whether it’s the beginning of something or a transition into the next thing, what practices, what attitudes, what ways of living can we find right now that will heal us, bring us into wholeness, so that our approaching that eventual and inevitable moment of dying will not be filled with fear, will be filled with love and openness.

Rick: Somebody asked Maharishi Mahesh Yogi whether he believed in reincarnation and he said, “I’m opposed to it.” Not everybody gets the joke. What else was I going to say? Ah, it doesn’t matter. One thing about the fear bit is that I often think, I’m not afraid of having died, I think everything will be just hunky-dory, but the dying process or my impending death could be very unpleasant. Like if you dangled me from the Golden Gate Bridge by my heels, I would be very fearful and as philosophically convinced as I am that no one ultimately dies, I’d be shit in a brick, so to speak, under that circumstance. So riff on that thing. Intellectually we might be totally convinced about the eternality of the soul and all, but when we’re actually confronted with it, especially in a very immediate sense, maybe our intellectuality doesn’t hold up so well.

Dale: Well, I’ve been around a lot of people who have died and I’ve been around a lot of people who have been unconscious for periods of time before they died. People who have been demented at the end of their lives, people who have been in a great deal of pain at the end of their lives. And my deep belief is that the function of consciousness is to grow and change, and it doesn’t care how it gets you there, it doesn’t care how long it takes or how much it hurts. So if in fact you’re somebody who has been in control all of your life, you’ve been an executive or a very organized person, and toward the end of your life for maybe a few months or even a few years, you are experiencing dementia. It might be expensive for your family, it might be painful for your family to compare who you are now with who you used to be, but you are learning somewhere deep in there to let go of control. You are being forced to confront mind states that before you were successful in avoiding. Maybe somebody is a very busy person and now they’re bed-bound for a long time. They have to learn to receive, they have to learn to allow other people to love them and take care of them, and to be quieter. So these might not be easy lessons, and I would certainly agree that being hung by one’s heels from the side of the Golden Gate Bridge, unless one were a very great yogi, would be a very frightening thing. But right now the Living Dying Project has at least two clients who have ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. And one of the ways people often die with Lou Gehrig’s Disease is as they become increasingly physically paralyzed, their lungs begin to fill up with fluid and they don’t have the muscular ability to cough, so they almost drown. And then they’re suctioned out, maybe put on a ventilator and various things happen, and then they almost drown again, and they almost drown a bunch of times until they finally drown. And as you can imagine, I don’t know if that’s quite the same as being hung upside down over a long fall, but it would take a very great yogi to not be frightened by almost drowning again and again and again. But what is happening to this person? If he or she has skillful, loving, compassionate support, they’re learning to deal with that fear, the fear that is there when they’re actually going to die. All fear is fear of death, and fear of death is exactly equal to lack of enlightenment, because it’s the place where you or I are identified with our separateness.

Rick: Yeah, there’s a Upanishad that says, “Certainly all fear is born of duality.”

Dale: Yeah, exactly the same thing. So the part of you that’s hanging upside down and is concerned about shitting a brick there is your fear of death. And another way of defining spiritual practice is learning to heal our fear of death, learning in fact that we aren’t separate. Yes, we have the body, yes we have the personality, but we are pure living spirit, we are presence. So that fear, if one is working deeply enough with enough motivation, is food for growth. Now it’s not the kind of growth I would wish on you or on me, but if it’s there, it’s there. So that before we begin practice, in Buddhism one of the first things that people do is they cultivate those four mind-turning truths, because that creates motivation, such a strong motivation that even hanging upside down is an opportunity for saying, “Who is it that’s afraid right now? What’s really going on here?”

Rick: I can think of a couple of examples of great saints who went through some fear when their death was impending. One was Christ of course, in the Garden of Gethsemane, you know, “If it is possible, let this cup pass from me.” I think it was Sri Yukteswar, Yogananda’s master, Yogananda said in his book that when confronted with his death there was this sort of involuntary reaction, you know, and his point was that no matter how enlightened a person is, just as biological beings we have an innate fear of death that we’re hardwired with. So I don’t know, just making that comment, perhaps you have something to say about it?

Dale: Well, just because the body has reaction it isn’t necessarily the case that the being is attached to that or identifying with that. So I have been around people who have been, just as an example, they have tumors, cancer tumors pushing on organs, wrapped around spinal cords, and an incredible amount of physical pain. And I say, “How are you today?” And they say, “I’ve never been better in my life,” even though their body is writhing in physical pain. And actually the people I have seen dying in a great deal of pain seem to have an easier time dying than people that don’t have pain, because the pain is ejecting them from identification with their bodies. And why it is that Christ said that, I am not privy to his motivations, but it isn’t necessarily clear to me that he was afraid. I mean, maybe he thought there was some other way to do this that might be better for everybody, I don’t know. But if Christ really was the Christ I believe him to be, I have a hard time believing he said that because he was frightened.

Rick: Yeah, maybe, I couldn’t really say. But that’s interesting what you just said about pain, you know, because I would sort of think of myself, think that if I were in a severe amount of pain… so you’re saying that there’s sort of an innate tendency for, if one is in severe pain, to sort of become detached from it or something, like you hear about people in car accidents who just as if rise above their body and witness the whole thing and don’t feel the pain from the injury. So yeah, go ahead, talk about that.

Dale: So physical pain is a fascinating topic. I think many people learn a lot about who they are and do a lot of their spiritual practice through their relationship with their physical body. And you brought up really two things – one, the really sudden, intense, traumatic pain, and there seems to be a lot of evidence that there is some self-protective mechanism that when somebody is in a horrible accident, that consciousness separates from the body and is outside of it. People who have near-death experiences again and again recount that even though their body was burned, smashed, cut, whatever it was, that they were not experiencing the pain, even though the medical personnel were treating it like it was a big emergency. But the other kind of pain, the pain of going to the dentist, or the pain of having arthritis, or the pain of some kind of more chronic pain, can be used as a way of learning how to let go of an automatic rejection of the unpleasant. So is it possible to go to the dentist and have the dentist drill on your tooth and you’re feeling something that is unpleasant, but you don’t need to turn that into something that causes you fear? So I watch what happens when small children fall down and skin their knee, for example. A boy is running across the playground, his mother’s there, he falls down, and the more fuss he makes, the more attention and comfort that he gets. So he’s being conditioned that, “I should treat pain as an emergency, as a big event, so then I’ll get a lot of love.” And we kind of take this conditioning into our adult lives. To me though, it seems that pain is an emergency signal, from segment 23B in the body to the brain saying, “Hey, there’s scraping, cutting, burning going on here, stop, stop immediately.” But once you get that emergency signal, can you just be with the unpleasant sensations and learn to open to them, and then even let that habit in your life extend to being with unpleasant emotions or unpleasant thoughts, without immediately closing down, pushing away, getting caught in identification? So that I can go to the dentist and have her drill on my tooth without Novocain, she pleases me to take Novocain for her sake, but I would rather have 60 seconds of this intense sensation where I just relax, let it flow through me, rather than get that shot in the gum that makes my mouth feel crazy for the rest of the day, and just even the idea of needles in my gum in the first place isn’t particularly pleasant. So the other example is…

Rick: What would you do if you had to have an appendectomy?

Dale: Well I probably have to be anesthetized to a certain extent, because the doctor needs me to be completely still when he’s doing or she’s doing the cutting.

Rick: Well why don’t you say, “Strap me down so I can’t move.”

Dale: Okay, well a number of years ago I had hip replacement surgery, and there was a period of time about an hour after the surgery when the surgical anesthesia wore off and the post-surgical anesthesia hadn’t kicked in, and they had cut through the largest muscle in my body, my gluteus maximus, and I experienced the most intense pain I’ve ever felt in my life for about half an hour. Now I did have the advantage of knowing that it was going to go away soon when the morphine kicked in, but during that half hour I was in ecstasy. The pain was so intense that all I could do was be with the pain. There was no distracted thought, there was no worrying about anything else. My whole universe was those sensations, and I can’t say that I enjoyed them, but they were so intense that it was ecstatic.

Rick: Interesting, but you probably wouldn’t do it again just voluntarily.

Dale: Well then let’s take another example. Somebody’s a meditator and you’re meditating for an hour, you’re meditating for a couple hours and you start feeling pain in your knee or in your hip or wherever it is. Sometimes it’s nice to do a meditation where you say, “Okay, I’m going to be kind to myself today. As soon as I want to move, I’m going to move.” But why don’t you also sometimes say, “I’m going to investigate these sensations. I’m going to really see if I can love my experience, love myself in the context of my body having unpleasant sensations.” One of my first meditation teachers was this guy Goenkaji in India. He teaches the sweeping technique, and he had us do what was called a ‘vow hour”, where you vowed for an hour not to move. My meditation turned into, after about two-thirds of an hour, not screaming, and sitting with that really intense pain. I thought, “Well, maybe I’m just being a masochist,” but I had made that vow. Later on I found another teacher. I was at a longer retreat and he said, “How’s your meditation going?” I said, “It’s really great, but I’ve got a lot of pain in my right knee.” He said, “Would you like it to go away?” I said, “Yeah, sounds great.” So he said, “Okay, let’s meditate,” and I sat up nice and straight. I’d been meditating at that point for maybe a week or so, so I was pretty focused. He said, “Tell me about the pain.” I said, “Well, it’s in my right knee,” and he asked me, “What does it feel like?” I said, “Well, it’s kind of hot and it’s kind of red.” And he said, “Is it attached to anything?” I said, “Well, yeah, there’s a tendril that goes up my thigh and to my butt, and then there’s another tendril that goes across over to the other side of my lower back.” And he said, “Okay, well push it through your lower back, down through your hip, down through your knee, and out your foot.” And I did, and the pain was gone and it never came back.

Rick: Interesting. So just mentally you went through that process?

Dale: I did that, and I did that pain for like 10 years. So it kind of made me wonder what actually pain is, because it just disappeared. So I’m certainly not here to say we should try to create pain. I’m not a masochist, but we all do experience pain – physical pain, emotional pain, mental pain – so many times each day. In one way, we are living this life to prepare to die, to be a fully loving, open being by the time we die. And if each time pain arises in whatever body – the physical body, the emotional body, the mental body – that it arises, that we push it away, we’re just perpetuating, we’re deepening that conditioned process. So to begin to be with perception before cognition arises, to be with the energy before we analyze and say, “Here’s something I’ve got to fix,” if we’re always in that mindset of improving, fixing, self-improvement, we’re caught in duality. We’re caught in the part of you and I that is going to die. Whereas if we can be nakedly, directly with our bodies, with our minds, with our emotions, without having to categorize, understand – the Bible talks about the peace that passes understanding – then we’re preparing to die, we’re preparing to be love.

Rick: So we can get into a discussion about how one can do that, because it sounds like a good thing to do, and let’s do that in a minute. One explanation I’ve always given for pain is, let’s say you burn your hand on the stove. Let’s say it’s kind of a serious… well, first of all, your immediate reaction is to remove your hand, so pain has that value, because if you had some kind of condition and there are people who have it where you didn’t feel anything, you could seriously injure yourself by leaving your hand on the stove. So it has this sort of warning value. But then obviously, if it’s a pretty bad burn, it’s going to hurt a lot, and it’s going to hurt a lot for some time. And so, I’ve always sort of thought of that as nature’s way of calling our attention to an area that needs healing, so that it will heal more quickly. And that if we put our attention elsewhere and try to become oblivious to it, then the healing won’t be as efficient. And that, I suppose, could also apply to emotional pain and other kinds of pain that you’ve been alluding to. Is that in line with your experience?

Dale: It is, but I would like to make the distinction between putting your attention on the pain and not liking it, and putting your attention on the pain because it’s drawn there and being open.

Rick: Yeah.

Dale: Stephen Levine developed some really wonderful pain meditations that really are about saying the same thing about physical pain that meditation teachers talk about when they’re talking about working with the mind. So that there’s a difference between awareness and loving awareness. There’s a difference between having compassion for the physical pain in the body rather than just knowing it’s there. And in a very real sense, in my experience, compassion with passion is at the center of moving from a dualistic “I’m practicing, I’m trying to be a better person” to a non-dual, surrendered, dying-into-love part of the practice. Compassion allows us to stay open, to keep our heart open in relationship to suffering, whether that suffering is physical pain or any other kind of suffering. And the Dalai Lama very beautifully says, “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” So imagine if your motivation for each action in your life were compassion, not “Does it hurt? Do they like me? Am I getting enough?” But what is the compassionate response to this particular moment? Then light becomes very simple. And when we think about people that we really honor and venerate, it’s almost always people who we identify as having a very strong, compassionate nature – Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Nelson Mandela – people who are compassionate beings. Now we don’t all have the opportunity to be political players in the way that they were, but we all have bodies that hurt at times, we all have minds that hurt at times. And we have that opportunity then to cultivate compassion, which is not just some nice, warm, soft, fuzzy thing, but compassion is the work of a warrior. It takes being very brave and daring to work with the unpleasant with an open heart.

Rick: This brings up an interesting point, which is that you mentioned these great compassionate figures. It seems to me that compassion is a quality or a capacity that needs to be cultured over a lifetime and that there’s no end to how profoundly it can be cultured, as would be the case also with wisdom or love or many other laudable qualities. And I see what you’ve been doing with your life as a really powerful technique, if you will, for developing compassion, but you must have had a fair degree of compassion to begin with to even undertake doing it. And so I guess the question is, how do we develop compassion and such qualities? Is there a way of approaching life that can enable us to develop it more effectively? And is there a deeper causal level, a fulcrum, if you will, that would enable us to develop it more effectively? In other words, if you want the leaves of a tree to be green, just watering them might not be as effective as putting water on the root from which they ultimately derive their nourishment. So is there a root of compassion that we can water to make it flourish more readily, or is it just a matter of not worrying about roots and just engaging in compassionate activity being the most effective way of developing compassion?

Dale: Well, there’s a lot of questions in there, I don’t know quite where to begin. First of all, I didn’t start doing this work with the Dain because I felt particularly compassionate.

Rick: You may not have felt it, but you must have had a bit of a compassionate nature. And well, you’d been around a great guru and it had woken something up in you, but geez, I mean the average person doesn’t have the qualities innately, or at least it’s not their dharma, to do what you’ve been doing.

Dale: Okay, well let me just tell you briefly about myself. When I was real young I had a couple of very severe electrical shocks. Putting a hairpin in an electrical outlet, putting a fork in a toaster, kind of frying my nervous system and getting the lesson that the world is not a safe place. I grew up, I became a mathematician, I went off to India, I met Maharajji, I had some awakening experiences with meditation teachers in India, and certainly being around Maharajji, Neem Karoli Baba was a whole interview in itself, how that affected me and my heart and my being. But I will say that I came to practice because I was suffering so much, I was so unhappy. I felt that I’d gone to Stanford, I had all these blessings and benefits, but that my heart was not happy, my heart was not full, that there was something else that I needed. And when I met Maharajji and I had these meditative experiences, I knew exactly what it was that I was looking for, but still was not able to manifest that wisdom, that love in a moment-to-moment way. It would come and it would go. And as time went on, I began, as I was working with dying people and as I was a meditation teacher, I began to really deeply believe and understand that these Eastern practices that are so wonderful were designed by and for Asian people thousands of years ago, who were grounded, who were centered, who were un-neurotic and loved their mommy and daddy. And that is not too many of the people I ever meet. So that when Eckhart Tolle was on Oprah a number of years ago in the late 80s, I believe, I mean the late 90s there, maybe… I’m sorry, I got my time wrong here.

Rick: No, it’s around then. I watched the whole series myself, you know, it might have been early 2000s or so.

Dale: Yeah, I think it was. There were millions of people tuned into his podcast, and he’s a wonderful teacher. I think he’s a pure living example of what it is that he’s talking about. He’s talking about the truth, but my deep belief was that of those millions of people, a fraction of – 1% – would be able to take that wisdom and rest in non-dual wholeness. Because we have this neurotic conditioning growing up in the West. And that when a child develops, the early stages of childhood development, the first thing that happens for the first couple of years is learning to be grounded, to trust the earth, the mother image, mother earth, to trust the fact that you’re held, that you can be dependent, that I can surrender into being dependent, that I don’t need to be hyper-alert, that I can relax in the arms of the mother, and whatever you mean by the mother, with a capital M or with a small m, or just taking a step and the earth is going to be there to meet you. At the age of about two or so, the terrible twos begin and the child learns to be autonomous, independent, learning to inhabit the belly, the hara, the second chakra, the seat of strength from which martial arts are done. And as time goes on then, at the age of seven or eight, we’re skipping a few things here, at the age of seven or eight, the heart begins to open in terms of having appropriate relationships, learning to have appropriate boundaries. But if in fact you or I have not gone through these initial stages of being grounded and centered, being able to be present like Vipassana practice, being completely present, or being down in your belly, being an independent being, then the heart will not have this foundation, the heart of compassion. So compassion will be there, the heart will feel free to be open, only when it feels safe, only when the environment itself is supportive. And sometimes the environment’s not supportive, sometimes you’re dangling upside down over the Golden Gate Bridge, sometimes you’ve got cancer, sometimes you’re at the dentist’s office, sometimes your partner hasn’t been very kind to you today, sometimes you’re sick, sometimes you’re frightened. So if you don’t have this foundation, the heart is going to be opening and closing, opening and closing. Suffering is going to be too much to bear. Thomas Merton said, “Love and prayer are learned in the hour when prayer becomes impossible and the heart turns to stone.” So we all know that feeling of the heart turning to stone. In that moment, can we find compassion? Can we have compassion for that stone-like quality in our heart? And what I’m suggesting is that until we’ve learned to be dependent on the Beloved, on the Earth, on the Mother, and be independent, realizing that the strength of the Beloved is flowing through us, then having the heart open is going to be a sporadic event. And certainly there are a few remarkable people who can go directly to the non-dual state. They hear the teaching, they hear what Eckhart Tolle had to say, what Ramana Maharshi had to say, what Christ had to say, and they awake, because it’s the truth, it’s obvious. Of course this is the truth. But most people hear that and they say, “Yeah, I get that,” and then something arises, some emotion arises in their life and they get caught, they bite the hook again, and they need to go back. So I’ve developed a developmental, integrated spiritual practice and process that I teach where we work through motivation, those mind-turning truths, realizing that at times you are suffering, in vocation, in terms of the mind it’s awareness practice, in terms of the heart it’s expressing your yearning, in terms of the body it’s getting grounded, moving then into being down in your belly, and then finally going up into the heart. And then after that we can go into empowerment, becoming the Beloved, and finally the non-duality that all true teachers have talked about. But for most people it is really necessary to realize that when things get difficult enough and we’re caught enough, that we do need to do some of these foundation practices.

Rick: Cool, so you’re saying you can take somebody who didn’t go through all those developmental stages in an ideal fashion, maybe had an alcoholic parent or was abused, or this, that, and the other thing that so many people go through, and so they’re now 30, 40, 50, 60 years old, and there’s really just no foundation or basis for their hearts to be very open or for them to display a lot of compassion. And you’re saying that you can work with them and enable them to do remedial repair.

Dale: Body and gender work.

Rick: Yeah, kind of establish the foundation that should have ideally been established as they were growing up, and then they can proceed from there. Is that what you’re saying?

Dale: I am saying that, but I don’t think it has to be even as serious as being abused as a child. That we live in a culture that is very much fixated on the external in a certain way, so that even if you had pretty good parenting, that probably you still come into adulthood and you still come into your spiritual practice, if that’s what you’re choosing to do, without the ability to stay grounded and centered and aware and present through all of the vicissitudes of life. So that then the superego arises and one beats oneself up and says, “I’m not a very good meditator, boy I’ve been doing this for so long and I’m not making much progress,” or “Look at how great a meditator I am today,” or whatever it might happen to be. And really, if we can do some of these foundation practices, it creates a foundation for the heart to remain open. So whether we’re talking about neurotic meditators or whether we’re talking about somebody who’s approaching death, it’s really pretty much the same thing. And to be able to be present enough, to be embodied enough, so that the heart feels safe and remaining open, which then allows us to really get that which we’re invoking when we pray, when we begin taking refuge, when we open in the beginning, is who we actually are. The beloved can only be everything, the beloved can only be me and you and going to the dentist. And then out of that, then we can with some confidence possibly, approach non-dual non-practice. So I’m not saying there’s a shortcut here, but what I am saying is maybe we can avoid a lot of detours and roadblocks, that we still have to be with our stuff, but to do it in a very skillful way, so that we’re moving directly through these developmental stages toward this place of wholeness that we are already and have always been and always will be. And if one can die with that understanding, dying is a very, very different experience than if one is dying thinking, “I’m the body and oh my God, what’s going on here?”

Rick: I remember hearing that the guy who played Perry Mason, what was his name?

Dale: Richard Burr? Raymond Burr?

Rick: Raymond Burr, yeah, that he was so afraid of death that even though he was extremely sick, he would sit on the edge of his bed and refuse to lie down for really long amounts of time, because he was kind of like forcing himself to stay alive.

Dale: Good luck.

Rick: Yeah, really. That threw me off the other question I was going to ask. Yeah, okay, I know what it was. I know plenty of people who have been meditating 30, 40 years and who are still very neurotic, and I’ve got a few screws loose myself. And so it appears, from my observation, that just meditating even hours a day for decades isn’t necessarily going to work it all out for you, that there really perhaps needs to be some supplemental things to help you do this remedial repair we’ve been referring to. So, can you get a little bit more explicit about what these supplemental things are that you do? And have you sometimes taken people on, students or something, who have been on a spiritual path for decades but feel like they’re still kind of deficient in certain ways and would like to be more whole?

Dale: Wonderful question, kind of a complex question.

Rick: Yeah, a lot of my questions are that way, multi-part questions.

Dale: So it isn’t necessarily the case that you have to become un-neurotic to get enlightened.

Rick: Yeah, that’s an interesting point of debate, and maybe you don’t. And like, who was it that you said, Ram Dass, that said you can be an SOB, you know, if you’re an SOB beforehand you can be an enlightened SOB? But yeah, that’s an interesting, fascinating thing to me, because it depends in a way on what you define enlightenment to be. If you just mean kind of like, you know, getting a foot in the non-dual realm, but really not having worked out all your stuff in all the other strata of existence, I wonder if that really qualifies or deserves to be called enlightenment. I kind of tend to reserve the term for something more profound, more holistic, in which you’ve actually not only gotten established in the basis of life consciously, but there has really been a purification. And a lot of spiritual approaches emphasize this, that you really need to purify, that only a really pure heart and a pure mind are qualified to enter into a really full realization.

Dale: Well, I hear what you’re saying, and let’s go back to what I was saying before about physical pain. One can be feeling the pain and be identified with it, or one can be feeling the pain and just letting it pass through you. So that if you have a neurotic structure and you’re believing it and you’re acting upon that, then you’ve got more work to do for sure. And some of these practices that I’ll talk about in just a few minutes, of learning to be grounded, centered, have boundaries and things, will bring a less neurotic personality structure. But at the same time, there are beings, I believe, who are highly awakened beings, who have rather strange personalities, but they’re not identified with that at all. And what they’re doing, they’re doing still with the motivation of awakening those people around them. They’re not coming from a place of, “This is the way I have to be.” I think we’re getting into a bit of a metaphysical swamp here, maybe.

Rick: Maybe, but I agree with you about highly enlightened beings who really seem to have some strange behavior patterns. But I’m troubled by the notion that whatever they do is necessarily for the benefit of those around them. I mean, I can name you numerous examples of gurus sleeping with their disciples, you know, and seriously disillusioning some people, both the direct partners and others who found out about it. And yet these people are off the charts in terms of the being that they seem to radiate. So it’s been a conundrum for me for about 10 years, kind of like wondering what’s going on with that, and whether they really are only half-baked and there must be a much more complete development that they eventually somehow will reach.

Dale: Okay, well my understanding is that if one is enlightened, one’s heart of compassion is fully opened. And if you are doing things that are hurting other people, you’re not an enlightened being.

Rick: Well there you go, I mean that’s my idea of a more superlative definition of enlightenment, that’s what you’re alluding to here.

Dale: So, you can still have a kind of a strange personality structure, but if you’re doing things that hurt people, you’re not an enlightened being. Because the definition of enlightenment to me is that one is in union, there’s no longer separation. Your pain is my pain, your love is my love, your body is my body, we’re all one being. So I can’t do things that are going to hurt you. It just is beyond the realm of possibility, because there is no separation. So why don’t we talk about some of these ways we can create a foundation to keep the heart open in that way.

Rick: Okay, so now we’re going to get into these ways of… what was it, Thoreau said, go ahead and build your castles in the air, that’s where they belong, now just put foundations under them. So how do we put a foundation under one’s life, even though it may have been not ideal in terms of developmental stages, in order to really develop the kind of compassion that you’re alluding to?

Dale: Okay, well first of all I’m going to very, very briefly summarize things that I’m not sure we’ll be able to go into enough depth in the time we have here to really flesh this stuff out, if you will. I do have a website where a lot of this stuff is described, livingdying.org.

Rick: Yeah, I mean all these interviews are a couple hours and we don’t expect people to be able to tell us everything they know, but we want to give people a snapshot or a taste so that they can explore in greater depth if they want to.

Dale: And actually just now we’re starting to have these groups that I’m teaching locally with online streaming, and a training program for people who want to support the dying, so that will be available online in a few weeks. The first thing to do is learning to be grounded, and as much as I look at Eastern teachings, they never talk about this, because I think these teachings were developed by people who were walking around barefoot and sleeping in the same bed with their parents until they were of a certain age, and were really connected with the earth. And nowadays we’re in automobiles, we’re in front of computer screens, we’re doing things that keep bringing the energy up. The energy is always going up, and you and I and probably a lot of the people viewing this make our livings by being able to make very skillful distinctions in our minds, which is a great thing to do to use the mind as a tool, but often people get lost in the mind, and particularly when anything difficult happens in life, particularly a life-threatening circumstance with you or someone you love, we start thinking about it, “What can we do? What can we do?” rather than being able to drop down and become embodied. So to become grounded, there are traditional grounding exercises where you visualize your energy going out through the base of your torso into the earth, you can visualize almost like you’re laying an egg as you breathe in, you push out down into the earth below you, tightening those muscles at the base. And for the longest time I worked with hara, down in the belly, trying to get down in my belly and I had a really hard time doing it, and only eventually realized that this grounding piece comes before the centering piece. So one has to learn to be dependent before one learns to become independent. And so first of all, inhabiting the base, the root chakra, being comfortable down there, and even being able to, like right now, can I talk to you and not be up in my mind thinking, “What am I going to say next? What’s going on here?” but keep dropping down into the base, letting the words come through me from a sense of embodiment, trusting the consciousness in my body. Okay, so for the longest time I worked with getting down in my belly, the Japanese talk about the hara, the Chinese the dantian, the Sufis the kath, and I really had some sense after being a mathematician that I lived up above, I needed to learn to live in the whole body, and I had a very hard time getting down in my belly center until…

Rick: So you were doing practices in order to try to do this, but it wasn’t…

Dale: Yeah, there’s a wonderful book called Hara, H-A-R-A, by Carl Fried von Durkheim, where he’s a Zen teacher, talks about inhabiting the belly.

Rick: Do you think that sometimes just getting out in nature and stuff is really effective for that? Like you say, we sit around computers, we drive automobiles. Back about 15 years ago or so, my wife and I used to go on these month-long camping trips, and we’d spend an entire month day hiking in Glacier National Park or something, and boy, after a month of that, it pushes the restart button on your nervous system. I come back home, I couldn’t even remember the combination of my bicycle lock, everything would be gone, and I’d feel so grounded. People would see me in a restaurant and say, “Wow, what have you been doing? You look like something great has happened.” So do you think you really need to take breaks in nature, or are you really talking about more meditative techniques you can do to get grounded with equal effectiveness?

Dale: Consciousness doesn’t care how you get there, and if you have the advantage of living in a place where you can be in nature for a chunk of time every day, that will really cultivate and strengthen the process of being grounded and being down in your belly. But it’s also necessary, I believe, to learn how to carry that sense of embodiment into activity in a busy world. So a lot of my life is sitting in front of rooms full of people and talking, in a room with walls and a ceiling and a floor. So in that circumstance, can I carry that sense of groundedness I feel when I walk on the mountain that’s right outside the front of my house here? And so yes, being in nature will certainly strengthen those qualities, but how can we integrate that feeling into driving a car on a crowded road, or talking to a room full of people, or dealing with a difficult emotional situation in your life? Because when you are dying, it might not be you’re in Glacier Park feeling grounded.

Rick: Unless you encounter a grizzly bear.

Dale: Okay, but so then you’re in Glacier Park but a grizzly bear is eating your leg, so can you be grounded in that moment? So when you’re dying, it could be that the person you love the most, maybe your wife, is in a car with you and the car is spinning out of control and she’s screaming in terror.

Rick: That reminds me of a joke, someone said, “I just want to die peacefully in my sleep, not screaming in terror like the… ” well, like my grandfather did, “not screaming in terror like the passengers in his car.”

Dale: Okay. When you’re dying, you may have so much morphine in your bloodstream that you can’t concentrate your mind. When you’re dying you might be on the floor of a store and strangers are tearing your shirt off and pounding on your chest. So if we’re counting on being in some lovely, supportive, natural environment to create the support to open our hearts, then good luck, because that might not be the case. And becoming a master means being able to carry the sense of groundedness, centeredness, open-heartedness into any circumstance at all in one’s life, and particularly to be a guide for people who are dying, requires one to be able to carry these qualities to the bedsides of people who are often frightened, angry, confused, and often even projecting those emotions on anybody who happens to be around them.

Rick: We probably should have covered this 10 minutes ago, but let’s make sure everybody really understands what groundedness means. I think centeredness and open-heartedness are more obvious to people, but in case there’s any confusion as to what you mean by groundedness, define it a bit.

Dale: So groundedness means inhabiting the base of my body, the place where I am connected to the earth, that I feel a sense of solidness, mountain-like stability in the lower part of my body.

Rick: So give me an antonym. Would being spaced out, or just kind of emotionally neutered, be like antonyms to groundedness?

Dale: Yeah. So for instance, when I meditate I feel like my lower body feels like a mountain, and my heart and above that feels like the sky. So the mountain is supporting the sky, and then there are clouds go drifting through the sky, but if my window frame is big enough, if my identification of my mind is big enough, then the clouds can come and they don’t fill up that chunk of the sky. So just imagine, say, that you are embodied, that you’re grounded in the sense that you feel a connection, that there’s enough energy coming from the earth that each moment is workable, each moment is open to awareness. No matter how erratic or chaotic or sad or whatever the world tends to get, you’re connected to a source of infinite, grounding, nourishing, supportive energy.

Rick: Okay, so like that Rudyard Kipling poem about not losing your head while everyone is losing theirs, you would say that a symptom of groundedness would be maintaining your integrity amidst the onslaught of everything life throws at you, including death.

Dale: Yes, you’re connected, you’re grounded. And then getting up into the belly, then there’s all the strength in the universe. So like when people are doing martial arts, they do it from their belly, and a tiny, frail, elderly martial arts master can defeat a hulking, huge, strong novice because he is not doing it. The energy of the universe, not his energy, is flowing through his belly and coming through him. So that when we’re meditating, if we think, “I am meditating, this is my energy, look at how good I’m doing right now,” that’s thinking about meditating, that’s not really meditating. So we have this support, grounded, centered, lower body stable. Then the heart can begin to open, the heart can remain open, the heart can flow, regardless of what pain is in the body, or joy is in the body, or what person is in front of you, somebody that loves you deeply, somebody that doesn’t like you, you’re not depending on who’s out there to have an open heart. You’re not depending on what your body feels like to have an open heart. And then the wisdom mind begins to open. And let’s just imagine that our mind is like the sky. Certainly, almost all of these traditions say that the awakened mind has the quality of emptiness, emptiness of self, vast spaciousness, boundless mind. But until we get there, until we get the complete awakened mind, let’s imagine that our mind has a chunk of sky that’s bounded by a window frame. And into this window frame comes a cloud, a cloud of happiness, a cloud of anger, a cloud of fear, a gray cloud, a black cloud, whatever. But if the cloud is big enough and the window frame is small enough, all we see is anger, fear, happiness. We identify and say, “I am happy, I am angry, I am frightened.” But if through these practices, where we have a strong enough foundation and the heart opens enough, then the window frame gets bigger and bigger. That same size cloud can come, and it’s a very different experience because the cloud is now contextualized in the blue sky. And we see that it’s moving, so instead of saying, “I am afraid,” we say, “Oh, fear is here, fear is coming and fear is going to go. We don’t know how soon it’s going to go, but it’s a temporary, changing experience.” And some of the bigger ones, “Oh, dying is coming, death is coming, the death of my friend is coming.” So these are very, very big clouds. Can we do enough foundation practice, can we open our hearts enough that we can stay open to even life and death itself, even wellness and illness, happiness and sadness? Is there a joy that transcends happiness and sadness, life and death? And obviously all the scriptures say that there is. So that being around dying and watching how some people are able to die into that joy can be a very deep inspiration to practice. And I would deeply suggest to people, if you have the opportunity to help someone die, to be, not even help, but to be with someone who’s dying, someone you love, even if it means taking some time off from your work, it can really deepen your practice, it can really deepen your understanding of what non-duality is and isn’t, if you will. So our culture has really lost this notion of having guides for the dying, or somebody who has died before they have died, as St. Paul said. Indigenous cultures have people who go out into the wilderness and spiritually die, so they can come back and be with people who are dying, and guide them into the next realm, if you will. We have lost that, and it’s truly a shame.

Rick: Well yeah, it seems like such an important thing, really, when you think about it. And it kind of harkens back to that whole thing you said in the beginning about how most people are oblivious to the fact that they are going to die. But we have so many professional specialties in this world, for every little health ailment and every type of financial advisor, and there’s a million different specialties. And here, every single person on the planet is going to die within a matter of decades or years or minutes, and there’s really hardly any specialty in dealing with that. So what a glaring omission from our cultural milieu.

Dale: So the New York Times did a survey, “What are you most afraid of?” Number one was speaking in public, number three was dying. Which might be kind of funny, but the part of you or me that would be afraid of speaking in public is the part that’s separate from the audience, and that’s the part that’s going to be afraid of dying. So in a way, each moment, whenever any fear arises, we have an opportunity to practice dying – not in any morbid kind of way, but actually being more fully alive. So what’s really being said here is that when you meet somebody and you look into their eyes, you kind of get a sense of how much of their fear of death they have already processed, how much they’re still holding onto their fear, how much they’re kind of pulling back from life because it’s a little too much, it’s overwhelming. And when you meet somebody who’s really been intimate with death, they are then intimate with life, they’re intimate with you. And even though I teach these workshops in person here in the Bay Area and online through our website to train people to be guides for the dying, the dirty little secret here is that I really can’t train people to do this. I can show techniques, we can explore attitudes, we can talk about what might be blocking these things, but really it is how much in your life you’ve been willing to be alive, you’ve been willing to confront your own fear of death. Walt Whitman said, “Sometimes touching another human being is almost more than I can bear.”

Rick: What did he mean by that?

Dale: Well, what I think he meant by that is, I’ve had the experience, and I would strongly guess that you have too, that sometimes we’re so alive that when we touch another human being the love is almost unbearable, that there’s so much life, that just being with another human being is so much life. And yet how often do we feel that? How often do we feel that joy? How often do we, on the other hand, take our partner for granted or ourself for granted? Believing the voices in the mind that say, “Oh, you’re not quite good enough, you made this mistake, you ate a little bit too much yesterday,” or whatever the mind is telling you. And if in fact we can get this intimate relationship with death, then it can jar us into that quality of the unbearable lightness of being, or this unbearable quality. When we look into the eyes or touch another human being, or even better, when we can do that with ourselves. And the other thing that I found in my teaching, Rick, is that a lot of these practices, like compassion for instance, are traditionally taught as learning to have compassion for the other. But really in the West, most of us also need to have compassion for ourselves. There’s a practice called taking and sending, Tonglen, maybe you’ve heard of it, but it’s really taking the suffering of another and being willing, feeling so much compassion for someone that you’re willing to take their suffering into your heart of compassion and give them that which is most precious of you, your loving-kindness. But what I have found is that for many people it’s very useful to learn to do this for ourselves, so that rather than using meditation as a practice to get calmer and more efficient in things, I use meditation as a healing practice, that we begin to uncover these habitual condition patterns I mentioned before I had those shocks. So I would notice that as I go to meditation retreats, there’s a lot of my distracted thoughts are about planning, planning how to not get the next shock, planning how to be safe. And for a decade or two I would go to long retreats, I’d get calmer, I’d feel better, and I’d have a thought and I’d say, “Here’s a thought,” and come back to the breath or whatever it was, and the thought would go away. But then I’d come back into the world and those planning thoughts would keep arising. I finally noticed, after doing this grounding and centering work, that there was this part of me that didn’t feel safe. And if instead of just watching each individual thought and losing the forest for the trees, I began to do compassion practice for the part of me that didn’t feel safe, that after only a day or two of doing that, this unsafe place started to relax. It felt met, it felt embraced. So that even that question before we were talking about, “Can the neurotic person be enlightened?” as long as this neurosis was preventing me from being present and kept throwing out these habitual unconscious thoughts, no I can’t. So what I needed to do then was begin to bring compassion toward this part of myself, embrace with kindness and mercy this part of myself that I had been trying to get away from in the service of, “Hey, I’m a meditator, I shouldn’t be having all these thoughts.” The thoughts were trying to tell me, “Hey, pay attention to this place that you’ve been avoiding for so long.” And that even distracted thoughts are messages, are blessings, that are pointing toward what can be healed. What is arising right now is what is the quality that can be healed. So that I began to notice in my meditation, particularly when I’m at a retreat or it’s getting really, really deep and quiet, that there would be a sense of spaciousness, awakeness, presence, aliveness, the beloved, and then a thought would arise. And I’d be aware of the thought after a short amount of time or not so short amount of time, and the awareness would quiet the mind and there would be that spaciousness. And I’d go through that cycle of spaciousness, thought, awareness of thought, spaciousness, thought, awareness of thought. And I began to notice that right before I had the thought there was fear of death, in a very, very, very subtle way, that there was part of me that believed, my ego structure believed that as long as I was thinking that the ego who I believed myself to be was real, that I was reifying myself. So that in a way, meditation was learning to die. And if I’m not grounded and centered, that’s going to be pretty scary. If my heart’s not open, that’s going to be kind of impossible. But coming right to that edge of being able to let go of believing that I’m somebody separate and being afraid that I might disappear, and bringing love and embrace to that place, to me was what really transformed my meditation practice into non-practice, into resting in presence.

Rick: Yeah, I’m glad you said that last bit, because as I was listening to you explain all that, I was thinking, “Well, it sounds like there’s a lot of control going on here. I’m doing this, I’m doing that, I’m observing this.” But ultimately, we want to just be resting in presence, which is a very innocent, non-doing kind of thing. So meditation practices in which one is just going crazy trying to do this.

Dale: Get grounded, get centered.

Rick: It’s like you try to still a pan of water by pushing on the little ripples, you only create more ripples.

Dale: Well, but it’s kind of like riding a bike. Once you learn to be embodied, grounded and centered and open-hearted, I mean, that takes some practice. But until you’ve done that, resting in presence is going to be a very ephemeral, coming and going experience. So yeah, in the beginning there is doing. I’m doing something, because I believe I’m me, and as long as I believe I’m me and I’m this neurotic guy and I’ve got these issues, then I work with them until the point where there’s enough stability of mind and heart that I can then dissolve into pure consciousness, into presence.

Rick: Right. So people whom you teach and work with, what’s their daily routine? I mean, how much meditation or some kind of practice do you have them doing, and do you universally advocate working with the dying in some way, or is that just sort of like an extracurricular thing if one chooses to add that to the repertoire?

Dale: Well, I kind of wear two hats. I’m a meditation spiritual work teacher and I run the Living Dying Project.

Rick: Right, but they’re kind of intertwined also, aren’t they?

Dale: They’re intertwined, but there are certainly people who are working with the dying and we ask that they have a daily spiritual practice. So basically the Living Dying Project matches up meditators with people who are dying and want spiritual support, to the benefit of both.

Rick: And you see these people might be all over the world, really? Not just Bay Area?

Dale: Well, they’re in the Bay Area here, and what I’m hoping to do now is, just as you suggested, do this all around the world, so that the training program to train people to be volunteers is going live online streaming next month after the holidays, so that I get calls on a semi-regular basis or emails saying, “My mother just died, I’m living in London, I helped her die, it changed my life being with her and I want to do this work. How can I get some training here in London so that I can go to the local hospital or be with dying friends and bring a deeper spiritual perspective to what I’m doing?” And up until now I’ve said, as far as I know there are books, there are videos online and things, but there’s really no direct training that I know that you can avail yourself of. And hopefully that will change, as I say, in about a month from now, if people want to sign up then that would be great. So the people here locally though, they take a training and then there are ongoing support groups where we talk about what’s going on with your clients. And my experience has been, even people… in fact I’ll just give you an example. A friend of mine became a volunteer a few years ago. She had been a Buddhist meditator for decades, she was a Berkeley psychotherapist who had been in practice for many years, and finally a client came that was appropriate for her and I called her up and said, “Barbara, I’ve got a client for you.” And she said, “I’m not ready to do it, I’m not ready.” And I said, “Barbara, he needs you and you’re the only one available today. You’ve had the training, you’ve got to go do it.” So almost everybody, until they’ve done this and had somebody hold their hand for a few moments, feels like dying is the unknown, something that’s out of control, what can we do here? And it’s really my sense, and in fact what happened there with Barbara and her client, he was a young guy dying of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, whatever it is, and he said to her, “All my life my mother’s told me I can’t do anything right and now I’m not even dying well.” And he said this only a few days before he died. So he and Barbara worked with him, letting go of that voice in his head that was telling him he couldn’t do anything right, and he died very peacefully. So we have support groups to talk about what’s going on with your client. On the other hand, there are these ongoing small groups where we meditate, we talk about the Dharma, we explore groundedness, centeredness, open-heartedness, non-duality, and being together in a very supportive, trusting, loving kind of way. And a lot of these people, because of the other work I do, maybe they’ve had cancer, maybe they’ve had someone in their lives die, but those groups aren’t really focused on end-of-life issues.

Rick: In your own experience, one thing that has occurred to me that some people might be feeling as they were listening to this interview is that, yeah, I can be compassionate with certain people but it’s really hard to be compassionate with others. And a lot of people love to have pets because it’s really easy to love a dog or a cat compared to a human being. They’re much simpler and more innocent. So has that been the case in your own experience in working with a variety of dying people over the years? And if you were assigned to sit at the bedside of Bernie Madoff when he dies, how would you react to that?

Dale: Well, I guess you’d know that I lost my life savings investing with Bernie Madoff.

Rick: I heard about that.

Dale: And I have absolutely no animosity toward the man. I think he’s ill, I think he’s probably a sociopath. I really don’t think about Bernie too much. And certainly…

Rick: But seriously, if you got invited to come in and be the guy who was going to be there when he died, would you welcome that opportunity?

Dale: Yeah, I think it would be lovely, really.

Rick: Bring a pair of pliers with you or something?

Dale: No, not really.

Rick: I’m kidding.

Dale: I mean, I guess what I’m saying is, yeah, it’s certainly the case that my personality fits together with some personalities better than other personalities.

Rick: Which is true of all of us.

Dale: Of course, and yet in working with dying, it doesn’t have… hopefully we get beyond how our personalities are intertwining rather quickly in the process, that the personality is going to die. So when I’m with somebody who is approaching death, or might be approaching death, I don’t even like to say a dying person, because I’ve been around too many “dying people” who had miraculous recoveries. But so here’s somebody who might be approaching death. There are two things I can do. One thing is I can bring to them dualistic practices, talk about being embodied, talk about opening your heart, talk about what dying might happen to be about, but the best thing I can do is be there in a full, non-dual, non-practice kind of a way, that I am being a living model of what awakeness is about. And whether or not they can respond to that is up to their karma. Sometimes they can and sometimes they can’t. But I really try – I don’t know if trying is the right word – my approach to this is to be open and let the practices come out of that, rather than thinking, “I’m here to save you, I’m here to fix you, here’s the way to die, I know a better way to die than you might know how to die.” But coming there in as much fullness and love as I can and letting the words and the actions come out of that. And I have so many, so many stories about being at the bedsides of different people. There was one woman who I met 27 days before she died, she was a remarkable woman. Everybody loved her. She’d never done a day of spiritual practice in her life, but she was really un-neurotic, very open-hearted, and it was my experience that she got enlightened in the few days before she died. She just dissolved into light, there was nothing left of her other than light.

Rick: Yeah, I was going to ask you about that. I remember when I heard that when Steve Jobs died, his final words were, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow,” you know, three times. And if, as you were just saying, and as you were saying earlier, dying is a golden opportunity for rapid evolution and possibly even enlightenment, and you’ve been with so many dying people, let’s talk a bit about the various experiences you’ve had that would prove that to you, or that would reinforce that idea that a lot of people take a huge spiritual leap as they’re dying. Seeing angels for instance, I mean people say that all these beings come and they open up to these celestial realms and all kinds of beautiful stuff happens, so let’s talk about that a little bit.

Dale: Okay, well there’s a great deal of literature about the near-death experience that’s remarkably consistent. And almost everybody comes back and says, “I’ve had this most remarkable experience, you don’t have to be afraid of dying, it’s completely safe. There’s light, I dissolved into the light but it wasn’t time to completely become the light so I’m coming back here, but my life has been changed because of that experience.” And there are also experiences of people who have died who come back and contact the living, and everybody says the same thing, they say, “I’m okay now.” Nobody comes back and says, “I’ve died and it’s really horrible,” everybody says it’s great. The other thing though is that I’ve had the great grace to be around some of the greatest saints of the latter part of the previous century, and they said so many things about living that all turned out to be true, and they pretty much said the same things about dying, so I’m just assuming that those things are true, that as we die consciousness leaves the body, it dissolves into the light, and to the extent we’ve been able to bear the light, to the extent you and I can love each other right now, then to that extent we can die into the light. But to the extent that it’s a little too bright, then what we’re attached to, what we’re identified with that keeps us from being the light, that’s there and we have a chance to just let go of that, to not identify with it in that moment, and die into the light. And because we don’t have a body or a personality, it’s much easier to do then than it is now when we are so embedded in the sense of solidity that is physical existence. So maybe I’m drifting a bit from your initial question, which I’m even trying to remember what it was.

Rick: It was about you having had experiences with all the people you’ve been with when they died, which kind of reinforced for you the idea that many people do get enlightened or at least make a huge spiritual leap when they’re dying.

Dale: Okay.

Rick: Just some anecdotes if anything comes to mind. And you know, I just want to throw another… well go ahead and answer that question.

Dale: So, I mean, the other thing I can say is that I do have some ability that after someone dies that my consciousness can travel with their consciousness for a little while, and then, because I’m not fully realized, I bump into a wall and they keep going. But my sense is that as someone dies and they’re leaving their body, that there is most of the time, not always, most of the time a great sense of release, relief, love, joy. Sometimes people are so frightened that occasionally they really fight dying and things get a little bit complicated or messy. But the number of times that has happened in my experience has been very, very small. And even… I mean, I’ve been around some people who were… they’d never done spiritual practice, they were very angry people, they were very bigoted people. I’m thinking of one guy in particular, all he would do was swear about… call his wife obscene names, but he had the great blessing to die rather slowly. So finally he got too weak to be angry at his wife, and the last three or four days she crawled into bed with him and they cried and loved each other, and he died in a very beautiful way. So that this process of dying is twofold. There’s physical dying that happens in a minute or two when your brain and your heart stop functioning, but there’s the spiritual dying process that takes place over several days. If you don’t die suddenly, it begins before you physically die, as consciousness is gradually leaving the body. But even if you die suddenly, it continues after physical death. There’s this disengagement period, if you will. And I’ve talked to many nurses and doctors and hospice workers who all say the same thing, that after somebody dies, you can feel the consciousness around the body for a period of time. They’re in the room, they’re inhabiting the space where the body is, after they’ve left the body. And then, just in a moment, all of a sudden the spirit leaves and the body then seems to have nothing to do with the person that used to be alive.

Rick: Is that period of time a matter of minutes or hours, or are you talking about even possibly something longer?

Dale: Usually hours, up to half a day maybe. I don’t know, it differs.

Rick: In our culture, we wouldn’t keep the body around too long anyway, but I’ve heard it said that depending upon how attached people are to their bodies, they may hang around for a long time and cremation or something could be traumatic for them because they’re still hanging on to it or whatever. But I don’t know, it’s not really a question, it’s just one of these things you hear about. One thing I do want to throw in is a recommendation actually, for people if they haven’t done so, is you read a bunch of these books by Danny Brinkley or Betty Eadie or James Van Praag or Anita Moorjani, whom I interviewed on this show, people who have had near-death experiences and it really loosens your attachment to the notion that this life is the only thing if you have such an attachment. And also another guy whose books are great is Michael Newton, who specialized in hypnotically regressing people to the period between lives, and there’s a remarkable consistency in their accounts among many, many people that he interviewed are hypnotized. So you kind of put this stuff into your awareness a little bit, and it does give you a broader perspective on the whole thing, like you were saying with that window metaphor, your window becomes larger and it’s less easy for clouds to obscure it.

Dale: Exactly, I’m not familiar with all of those books. There’s certainly a book now called “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander that’s very popular. Since he was hooked up to all these machines and had these experiences, when he was brain-dead it seems to counteract the scientific notion that all of these out-of-body experiences are really just the brain doing things because of biochemical imbalances.

Rick: Right, you know one of those guys I mentioned, Daniel Brinkley, is an interesting one. He was like an assassin and sharpshooter in Vietnam, and kind of a really nasty guy in his own estimation. And he got struck by lightning a couple of times and had this near-death experience, and he came out with all kinds of psychic abilities and a compassionate heart. He works with dying people and so on in rest homes. And it reminds me also of, in South America, people whom they call “lightning shamans” who’ve been struck by lightning and it’s opened up some kind of channel in them where they become shamans. So I’m wondering if you sticking your fork in the toaster and your bobby pin in the wall socket might have actually set you on a course that you otherwise would not have taken.

Dale: Well it’s certainly changed things. Of course it’s impossible to go back and say, “Who would I have been if that didn’t happen?” But you know, in a way I wouldn’t change anything that’s happened in my life up to this very moment.

Rick: Yeah, well if life really is divinely orchestrated then I guess the Divine knows better than we as to how to orchestrate it.

Dale: Well the one thing we really haven’t talked about is how those electrical shocks brought me to India and to Maharajji.

Rick: Let’s do that.

Dale: And being around a being who was the complete embodiment of love was profoundly transformative that…

Rick: Those shocks happened when you were a little kid, were you influenced in a way that throughout grammar school and high school and so on you were still affected by having had those shocks?

Dale: Well what happened was shortly after the second shock, which was much longer and stronger than the first one because I couldn’t let go for about three-quarters of a minute until my mother came from a faraway place in the house to unplug the toaster, I started stuttering. And my life now is about talking, and between the ages of about four and, I don’t know, up until about 30 or so, I stuttered pretty badly, which stuttering is a… I don’t know what you’d call it, an illness, it’s not really an illness, but it’s an activity that makes it very hard to be in the non-dual. It keeps drawing you into “I can’t talk” and “look at the way people are looking at me.” I mean it very much kept me embedded in an uncomfortable relationship with the people around me in a very, very dualistic way. And yet at the same time it drove me, with even desperation, to find something that was deeper than that sense of duality that there was so much embarrassment and pain and humiliation… maybe not humiliation, but it was very uncomfortable. And so that was Stanford in the late 1960s and I was fortunate enough to meet Ram Dass, we became drinking buddies when I was a graduate student and I followed him off to India and met Neem Karoli Baba Maharaj.

Rick: Wasn’t he at Harvard or wasn’t he on the East Coast?

Dale: Well, this was after he had gotten kicked out of Harvard. He and Tim Leary had gotten kicked out of Harvard already, and he was the Johnny Appleseed of psychedelics, I guess, traveling around America talking about these things. But then he went off to India and became, I think, a profoundly articulate purveyor of Eastern wisdom in a way that Westerners could really understand. Because in those days, I mean I was a yogi back in those days, but I was reading translated texts that were contradicting each other, and it was very confusing in a certain way. And I was doing intensive yoga practices, like swallowing cloths and doing kriyas and standing on my head for long periods of time and eating fruit and nuts for months, and you know, really, what could I do to find peace? But what Maharajji said and what Maharajji was, was you don’t have to do all these complicated things. Love God, serve people, feed people, take care of people, and your kundalini will go up all by itself. You don’t have to stand on your head all day, you don’t have to do all these crazy things, but by the grace of God, if you really open to that grace, see grace in every moment, and through that receiving of grace, serve humanity, the embodiment of Hanuman, the God of selfless service, if you will, then spiritual practice happens by itself. He didn’t encourage people to meditate, he didn’t encourage people to be yogis, he encouraged people to love and to serve, to love God and to serve other people. And so I feel, for instance, that the Living Dying Project is my devotional practice, that when I’m at the bedside of somebody, it’s… Mother Teresa talks about seeing Christ in his distressing disguise when she picks a… she’s dead now, but when she would pick a leper out of the gutter in Calcutta or something like that, so that instead of, “Okay, I’m a glorified social worker here,” or “I’m Mother Teresa in drag, I’m this good guy,” I’m really trying to do this as my relationship with God. How can I stay awake and use the suffering of others and the suffering of myself as a way of coming more deeply in contact with God and with all the people I’m with? And that’s what Maharajji embodied.

Rick: Yeah, and it’s worth mentioning I think that Service or Seva… didn’t Ram Dass have a thing called the Seva Foundation at one point?

Dale: He and Wavy Gravy and a few others, and Larry Brilliant founded a non-profit called the Seva Foundation. Seva means service…

Rick: Selfless service, yeah.

Dale: …in Hindi, and the first thing they did was create these eye clinics where they went to India and places in South America and did cataract surgeries and gave people their sight back. And I forget the numbers, but you could give them I think like $7 or something and you could heal one person of blindness, some remarkably small amount of money. And they brought sight to thousands and thousands of people.

Rick: Yeah, and I just wanted to say, I mean this is implicit in this entire interview and in some of the stuff we’re talking about, but I just want to emphasize that this idea of selfless service or Seva is traditionally considered to be a very important and effective spiritual practice, and perhaps for some people, if not many people, the most effective spiritual practice they can do. Because a lot of times spiritual people become kind of self-absorbed, narcissistic maybe, it’s all about my experience and it’s kind of a self-indulgent kind of orientation that develops and selfless service can really pull you out of that. And spiritual people are always talking about killing the ego or diminishing the ego, I mean if you really want to do that, what better way than to have your focus be on the welfare of others rather than all about me, me, me, and what kind of flashy experience can I have next.

Dale: Exactly, couldn’t have said it better myself, Rick.

Rick: And as people know, my wife and I, Irene, go to see Amma a lot, and that’s her big thing is selfless service and just doing what she can to alleviate suffering in the world, despite her own suffering. I mean if you realize, if you hear an account of how much pain she’s actually in, the average person couldn’t get out of bed if they were in that much pain from the repetitive motion of hugging 30 million people, but she never lets down, you know, and she just keeps doing it. And people have told her she should stop or tone it down or whatever, and she said, “Once given, I can’t return a gift, and I’ve given my life to the world and therefore I can’t take it back.” That’s what I meant, to not return a gift but take it back, I can’t take back this gift that I’ve given, so until I breathe my last breath I’m going to be doing what I can to lay hands on the suffering and just alleviate people’s pain.

Dale: She’s a remarkable being.

Rick: Yeah. All righty, that’s just my little plug for Amma here, if people haven’t gone to see her they might enjoy doing that. What more should we… now you were going to say, and I kind of sidetracked you, and I don’t know if you totally covered it, but you were going to say, maybe you have, but if you haven’t, you were going to tell us about how these electric shocks led eventually to your going to India and being with Neem Karoli Baba. Did you actually cover that or did we get sidetracked?

Dale: Yeah, it’s kind of halfway in between there. I mean, as I said, because of feeling so uncomfortable in my body and yet having some deeply intuitive sense that there was peace, there was wholeness somewhere that I didn’t quite know how to find, and I began through inner exploration to have a very deep sense that it was through meditation and devotion. I really believe that the connection with the Guru is a matter of grace, it’s not something that I did particularly, but in India they say that the work of a Guru takes place in the first second that you meet her or him, that you see the possibility of human existence and then it’s up to you, through grace, to embody that. And so the story of me getting from Stanford to Swami Muktananda’s ashram and then leaving that and going to Maharajji is a very long story, it’s a rather dramatic story that I don’t think we really have time for. But I will say that the effect of having been with Maharajji, and in a very, very real sense never having left, that whenever I do have my faith waver, that I think, “Oh my God, what am I going to do now? Just a few days ago something happened to my car that is going to be kind of expensive that was totally unexpected.” And for a moment I thought, “Where is the money going to come from?” And then I realized, “Well, I do what I can do,” but at the same time there was this process of surrender, that any moment of doubt, any moment of worry is only cutting off that flow. And in a way then each event becomes a blessing, whether you’re saying it’s coming from Maharajji or you’re saying it’s coming from God or it’s just coming from the universe, whatever language is comfortable for you doesn’t really make much difference. That even a cancer diagnosis or something is an opportunity to be more deeply in embrace with the Beloved, and that’s why I choose to be around dying people. I’m not interested in dying per se, I’m interested in transformation of consciousness. And I remember a number of years ago I got on an airplane to go back to New York to teach a meditation workshop. There it happened. So I went back to New York to teach a meditation workshop and I got on the plane and a businessman sat down next to me. He said, “Where are you going? Why are you going to New York?” I said, “I’m going to teach a meditation workshop.” And he said, “Oh, isn’t that interesting?” And that was the end of our conversation. He didn’t want anything to do with meditation. A month later I got on another plane to go to Seattle to teach a conscious dying workshop. And another businessman came and sat down next to me and he said, “Why are you going to Seattle?” I said, “I’m going to go there to teach a conscious dying workshop.” And he said, “What an amazing coincidence. My wife just died of cancer.” And we had a conversation and he started quietly weeping on the airplane. Now the point of the story is that I say almost the same thing at the conscious dying workshop as I do at the meditation workshop, that dying, conscious dying, is a spiritual practice. It evolves very quickly into one’s spiritual work. And so having the niche or having the context to talk about God in terms of dying makes it much more accessible to people than if I’m going around talking about meditation and gurus and all those kinds of things, and people say, “Wait a minute, I’m not so sure I want to buy that.” But almost everybody has been touched by death, and if you haven’t been yet, you will be. So that can be thought of as a very morbid thing, or as you quoted in the very beginning of the interview, as Don Juan said, that death can be the advisor, death can be our ally, death can keep awakening us, because I don’t know if I’m ever going to see you again, I don’t know if I’m ever going to talk to you again. This is our moment for Rick and Dale to be in love, and here’s the next moment of that, and here’s the next moment of that.

Rick: Nice. You know, speaking of things that were talked about in the beginning of the interview, I was saying that maybe there’s some fundamental assumptions here, like the self in its essence is indestructible, or reincarnation, and so on. And you kind of alluded to another thing, which I think is a valuable fundamental assumption if one can culture it, which is that the Divine is all-pervading, it permeates everything, it orchestrates everything from the subatomic to the universal. And if one can culture that perspective, then one develops a sense that all is well and wisely put, and that nature is not just this cold materialistic thing, that things don’t happen capriciously, but that the universe is one giant evolution machine and that everything that happens is meant for our highest good ultimately, even though it might not appear to be on the surface.

Dale: Well if somebody were to ask me what religion I am, I might even end up saying I’m a Christian. But what I find a little difficult about Christianity is that Christianity has a hard time taking into account the dark, whereas in science and in Buddhism and in Hinduism there is Kali, there is Mahakala, there is Shiva, there is an understanding that the dark can be worshipped equally to the light, that each moment is some face of the Divine, no matter whether it’s living or dying, wellness or illness. And I’ve always been drawn to Shiva, I’ve always been drawn to the dark mother. She is a very difficult bedmate.

Rick: You mean to Kali or to Shiva? Shiva is not a mother, but you mean Kali?

Dale: Kali and Shiva together, yeah. Shiva-Shakti. And actually Hanuman, Hanuman here is an incarnation of Shiva. He destroyed the abode of the demons, so that even though he’s like selfless service, Hanuman is about cutting through that which prevents us from serving. But I have a hard time with a God that’s only the good stuff, that it’s all God’s grace, everything, that it can all be seen as a blessing, it can all be received whole, if you will.

Rick: Well you might remind Christians that according to their own teachings, God is supposed to be omnipresent, omnipotent.

Dale: I’ll do my best.

Rick: If he doesn’t pervade everything, then he’s banished off into some corner and excluded from a major portion of the universe.

Dale: Most of us think of him as a he.

Rick: Right, of course, it’s just a way of speaking. Anyway, we’re getting a little waxing philosophical here, but it’s good stuff. So is there anything else you’d like to say before we conclude that we haven’t said?

Dale: I’ve deeply appreciated being with you and having the opportunity to be with so many people. The work of supporting the dying, of selfless service, of devotion through action, is a wonderful, wonderful path. I’m graced to be upon it and to be able to do this work. If there’s any way I can serve any of the viewers through the work of the Living Dying Project, we have a lot of great information on our website. We’re trying to be the website that’s the go-to place with information about conscious dying. There, as I said before, now the possibility of online streaming of meditation groups and training to be with the dying. I do Skype or telephone counseling to people all around the world and would do a free short session with anybody who felt they wanted to find out a little bit more about that. The phone number is on the website and I want to thank you. I think your website is a great service and has helped many, many people.

Rick: Well, thank you. And thanks to our friend Kelly Mullen for setting this up, connecting us. So I’ll just make some concluding remarks then, I think. One is a quote from Jimi Hendrix that I haven’t had a chance to mention, but it’s been kicking around the back of my mind. He said, “I’m the one who’s got to die when it’s time for me to die, so let me live my life the way I want to.” In any case, he died at the age of 27, so hopefully he got to fulfill that.

Dale: Well, if I could put in a quote from one of my favorite musicians, Bob Dylan, it said, “What price do we have to pay to get out of going through all these things twice?” And I think that’s what we’ve been talking about today.

Rick: Yeah, interesting. And Joni Mitchell said, “Life is for learning, so I’m sure death is too.” Got another comeback from a rock musician? She didn’t say, “I’m sure death is too,” I added that.

Dale: I’ll let you have the final word on the rock musicians.

Rick: I think I’m done. So let me just conclude. I’ve been speaking with Dale Borglum, who is the director of the Living Dying Project, and as usual I’ll be linking to that and including a bio of Dale on his page on batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P. So go there if you’re just hearing this and you want to easily find whatever you need to find about Dale or about the other 260 people so far that I’ve interviewed over the past five years, they’re alphabetized and categorized and so on, if you just explore the menus on the site. There’s a donate button on the site, which I appreciate people clicking, which is how we support this whole thing. There’s a place to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted, and in fact we’ll be sending out a kind of a Christmas newsletter, holiday season newsletter that we’re working on, that you’ll get if you subscribe to the email. There’s an audio podcast of this, in case you don’t feel like sitting in front of your computer for two hours, you can listen on your iPod or whatever. So you’ll see a link to that at the bottom of each interview. So I think that’s about it. Thank you for listening or watching. Thank you, Dale.

Dale: Let me just give our website, livingdying.org.

Rick: livingdying.org, okay, good.

Dale: Thank you so very much. It’s been a real pleasure.

Rick: Thank you, and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching, and we’ll see you next week. Next week is a woman named Marie Manuchehri, I think she pronounces her name, and I listened to an interview of her with Tammy Simon of Sounds True, which I found very interesting. She was a healer, a nurse, and she went through some very profound changes and began to have all this subtle perception of guardian angels and all, so we’re going to talk about that kind of thing next week. So see you then. Thanks.