Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. If this is the first one you’ve seen, you might want to go to batgap.com. And you’ll see several 100 Other ones all archived and categorized in various ways. There’s a bunch of other things to explore on the website. And I always mentioned the beginning the way NPR does that this show is made possible by the support of appreciative viewers and listeners. So if you feel moved to do so there’s a Donate button on the site. My guest today is Dana Sawyer. I had Dana on the show about five years ago, when I was more or less first getting started with it. And I just listened to that interview the other day, I thought it was a good one. If if I do say so myself, we had a lively conversation, then has also been part of some other things we’ve done. He was part of a interview with Jeffrey Crapo, which you can find on the site and he was a participant in the group conversation we had at Sofia University last October, we’ll find out on the site as well. Dana, is a professor of religion and philosophy at the Maine College of Art, and a lecture on world religions for the chaplaincy Institute of Maine. He has both academic expertise and experience in Hindu and Buddhist systems of philosophy, and has an interest in the appeal of Asian religions for the Western mind. He has written a critically acclaimed biography of Aldous Huxley, along with the book we’re about to talk about today, which is a biography of Huston Smith, then is his authorized biographer, and he lectures widely on the perennial philosophy. He lives in Portland, Maine, with his artist, wife, Stephanie, and travels free regularly to India has been there quite a few times. And as a matter of fact, he’s going there in December. And if anyone would like to go with him, it’s possible to join in on the little tour that he’s leading of Banaras and Rishikesh. And places like that, in India. And Dana and I have been good friends for 45 years, we first met in about 1971, when I was 21. And he was 19. And I came to his college in Connecticut, teaching Transcendental Meditation, which he learned. So here we are. Again, again, yeah. And actually, Dan, and I did this interview out at the sand conference in October, but I’m glad we’re doing it again. But we had to do it again, because the audio didn’t work. For some reason. We didn’t know that at the time, but we didn’t get Dana’s side of the conversation. And also, we were pressed for time, we only had an hour. And today, we’re probably gonna end up going two hours, like we usually do. And people might ask, you know, how, why is it there’s, there’s so many people out there these days, who are who say that they have awakened. Some of them even use the word enlightenment, that they have realized their true nature, they’ve had some kind of non dual realization, many people say that it’s an abiding awakening that it doesn’t come and go anymore. They know who they are. Many of those turn around and say, to others, give up the search, you know, you are that this is all there is. You don’t need to do anything. And so, you know, one might ask, why am I about to interview a guy who doesn’t claim any of that? Who has written a biography of another guy who didn’t claim any of that? So maybe that’s, that’s my first question for you.
Dana Sawyer: You know, is that a question is that the question
Rick Archer: kind of is, yeah, I mean, you know, I mean, why are we having this conversation now? Oh,
Dana Sawyer: thank you for inviting me on your program. But now you’re asking me to justify my existence.
Rick Archer: People might say, well, he was he was Huston Smith, and what’s the big deal? And he didn’t even he didn’t claim to be enlightened, you know, and so on and so forth. So why are we making such a fuss over man? I mean, no disrespect to Huston Smith, because I thoroughly enjoyed your book. And I know some answers to that question, but I’d like to see what you would say. Because I bet you that some people are going to ask that.
Dana Sawyer: Oh, well, I think you know, the answer is a simple one for both Huston and I and that is that both of us are academics in the sense that we you know, write work for academic journals and teach at the college level and have clearly read too many books and that were trying to defend the non dual experience that we’re trying to both of us have had careers in which we’ve tried to legitamate the validity of non dual experience and mystical states of consciousness and where for so long, Western academics were really saying there are only three states of consciousness, waking, dreaming, and sleeping, and everything else is just woowoo and Bs and needs to be thrown in the circular file, then there are some of us who have had some of those experiences and who want to take them seriously. So I would say that, so that’s really the reason.
Rick Archer: And I would also say that you and Huston both are not only academics, but you are, you have been experientially motivated all of your lives. You know, you’ve ardently sought that which you have also, if you have ardently sought the experience of that which you have also attempted to understand and articulate.
Dana Sawyer: Exactly, exactly, yeah.
Rick Archer: So it’s not a dry academic sort of thing. Some people think, I mean, I people say to me, you know, stop thinking about it, stop reading books, this and that, all that can just keeps you hung up, you know, prevents you in a way from settling into the actual experience. Personally, I don’t find that what would you answer to those who say that, you know, enlightenment or awakening is not an intellectual thing, and you’re just going to tangle yourself up in complications, if you keep pursuing it in an intellectual vein.
Dana Sawyer: I think they they mistakenly believe that somebody who has a very rich intellectual life is necessarily only living inside of that intellectual perspective. This past summer down in Miami, I gave a lecture at a conference on the Myers Briggs Personality types. And so some people process their life through their emotions, some people process their life through thinking some people are extroverted, some people are introverted. And so people who predominantly or I should say, you know, their dominant is that they enjoy processing ideas, they enjoy working through intellectual arguments. It’s, it’s a natural tendency for them. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have other aspects. I mean, I have feelings, I have a spiritual life. And, and also, I think that it’s also discounting a phenomenon I experienced regularly and I predict a lot of your listeners have, which is you’re reading a book, and it’s a book of philosophy, and you’re reading about a particular idea. But all of a sudden, that idea triggers a moment of profound insight. You have a moment of the sublime where the boundaries of consciousness expand and open, triggered by a particular thought. I think that’s a very common experience for philosophers actually.
Rick Archer: Also, we might add that, you know, in Hindu in Hindu tradition, you have Yannis, ganja, yoga and so on. And you have towering intellects like Shanker and Sri Aurobindo and others, who were extremely erudite and deep thinkers and, you know, wrote very complex texts that took a great, great deal of intellectual clarity, and experiential clarity to understand and you have similar things in the Buddhist tradition. So in the, if you respect those traditions, then you probably don’t have a problem with those who are more intellectually inclined, you know, following their natural tendency. That’s right. If
Dana Sawyer: you look at, like the debate traditions, in Tibetan Buddhism, I’m sure you’ve seen those videos of those guys where they’re doing him slap and, and arguing fine points of Buddhist philosophy with each other. They’re not denying that there’s an experiential level of knowledge, knowing and insight. They’re, you know, also processing on the level of philosophy. And as you say, the Upanishads if you read the Upanishads, the these were supposedly mostly cognitions of forest monks and gurus who were, you know, punished God means to sit down near literally, because these Sramana philosophers in the sixth century fifth century BC, we’re coming and sitting down near them in the forest, Stosh rums, and a lot of what they had to say was extremely cerebral and Yeah, philosophical.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Also just playing off a point you made a minute ago. I mean, you said you have feelings, we’re we have various faculties. Intellect is one heart is another body is another. And, you know, none of these things are mutually exclusive or really in conflict with one another. And there can be a holistic development in which, you know, transcendental experience and intellectual clarity and emotional fullness, and all these things can blossom simultaneously.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, you know, saying that, I mean, I’m not, at the same time denying that there’s such a thing is concept addiction. Yeah. And that people don’t get caught up in their heads and get caught up in their philosophical truths. I mean, I think one of the things postmodern philosophy today has taught us is that may be one of the primary values have a new philosophical way of looking at the world is simply that it freed us of the old philosophical, that we tend to be too dogmatic about any particular system and, and need some liberation from that. And you know, it’s Bettan Buddhism, there are four specific philosophical models that are considered authoritative doctrine. And what’s interesting about those four is that they don’t all really agree with each other very well. So on some level, the Tibetan Buddhists are saying, yes, these ideas have facility because their fingers pointing at the moon, I’m sure you know, that analogy. But they’re not the moon, that that experiential knowing is trumps all other.
Rick Archer: You know, yeah. The first note I took when I was reading your book to ask you about, actually, I read a bunch of it before the sand conference that didn’t take notes. And then after than the last couple weeks, I started reading it again and started taking notes. So I may have missed some good stuff. But first note I took was it 10 years at MIT didn’t make a dent in strict materialism. In Huston’s attempt to bring science and religion closer together. He he fought against what was called scientism, which you can define for us for a minute. Well, basically, that only that which science can measure is valid. And he was always up against this academic disdain for mysticism and metaphysics. So I bring that point up, because we were just talking about, you know, whether intellectual ism can be a barrier to spiritual experience. And I think it can be if it’s pursued exclusively without respect for in pursuit of that experience. But if one wants to pursue that experience is going about it the right way, then, in my opinion, intellectual understanding is an aid and not a handicap.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, I couldn’t say it better. I mean, you’re exactly right. I think that the problem, Huston encountered, which is a problem that I still encounter at academic conferences, is a dogmatic materialism that there is a dogmatic materialism that we bump into. You know, Dawkins is a good example of that. I think Sam Harris is a good example of that. Today, several other people who, you know, that’s what was going on at MIT, is the sort of exclusive focus on quantification. Because you can’t quantify these experiences perfectly, though, neurophysiology is lending strong, and you know, evidential support, then, okay, it doesn’t exist. If you can’t quantify it, it doesn’t exist. You know, Russell said, what science can’t prove mankind can’t know, which is a ridiculous statement, if you think about it, because the first thing I would say, as a philosopher would be, Oh, can you scientifically prove that statement? Yeah. Okay, how would you go about scientifically proving the statement that only those things, which can be scientifically proven to be true, or true? You see what I’m saying?
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, it’s arrogant, because it assumes that, that science is the ultimate means of gaining knowledge. And, you know, science is a relatively new thing. And who knows what we might have 1000 years from now, or 2000 years, or what they might have had 1000 or 2000 years before that we actually don’t properly understand. So it’s just sort of this self important attitude in my opinion, where, you know, we think that we’re the latest greatest and, and that, you know, we’re kind of at the pinnacle of, of human civilization and no one and that our tools are the only tools that are worthy of respect.
Dana Sawyer: Exactly.
Rick Archer: Okay, now, let’s keep this we’ll keep coming back to Huston. I’ve got plenty of notes here. They’re gonna tell you into this, but I suppose he would have found a lot of these points were making very interesting and very germane to, you know, the things that he spent his time on. So it’s not like we’re straying away from him, but
Dana Sawyer: no, not at all. You know, I mean, if you look at beyond the postmodern mind by Huston Smith, you see a lot of his arguments against scientism. You know, first of all, he was a defender of religion. So people say, look how dangerous religion is. Look at all the wars that have been fought over religion. Look at what’s happening in Syria today with ISIS. By the way, I don’t like calling them the Islamic State. I feel like to call them the Islamic State is letting letting them decide what an Islamic state should be asked majority of Muslims wouldn’t agree with their idea of Islam. The vast majority of Muslims would see them as heretics. So we should call them the heretic state or, you know, the losers state. I don’t know why let them determine the terms of, you know, nomenclature, or whatever
Rick Archer: you have to get. I mean, it’s Yeah, yeah, go ahead.
Dana Sawyer: Well, anyway, just just just getting back to my thought, which is to say that religion is dangerous. We need to get rid of religion. Huston Smith pointed out that in the 20th century, the most dangerous etiologies were you No, Nazi Germany, were Mao’s communism were Stalin’s communism. And so those were secular ideologies. And Huxley in hopes excuse me, Huston would say, okay, dogmatic ideology is the problem fanatical ideology is the problem, not religion, per se. Huston would admit that religion has made mistakes, but he agreed with Rama Krishna, who once said, religion is like a cow it, it kicks, but it also gives milk. You know, that would be his waiver.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s some interesting things discussed in your book about, you know, Huston’s attempts to really reconcile his understanding of religions, in their separateness and also their unity, and with his own experience, which, you know, he enlivened through various means Zan and psychedelics and various other things. And one thing I found particularly interesting was, he, he caught on with to some philosopher, it was, might have been shoe on in this case, who’s, who helped him reconcile this by talking about how people are naturally either esoteric, or exoteric. And I’m sure that’s a broad generalization. And there’s some crossover and mixture, but you know, the, the exoteric, those who are sort of have a sort of outwardly outward orientation, kind of need the structure and discipline and ritual and, and rules and regulations that religions provide. And so it’s not like that stuff is necessarily an obstacle to realization. It’s, it has it serves a purpose for those who need it. And as I read your book, I got a sense that that was a real aha for for Huston, began, it also helped to contradict people like Huxley, who felt like religion had become so degenerated and corrupt that it was really an obstacle to enlightenment.
Dana Sawyer: Hmm, yeah. Yeah, Huxley was definitely not a pro religion person in any sense of that he really did feel like, you know, he totally felt that spiritual experiences were legitimate. He was an endorser of the non dual experience. He called it the unitive experience. Whereas Huston felt very uncomfortable with that even though he was a disciple of Huxley and a close friend of his, he agreed with Huxley about this business of a perennial philosophy that the mystics of the various religious traditions, wisdom traditions, they tended to break through into a very similar kind of consciousness. And when they would describe it, whether we’re talking about the poetry of Rumi, other philosophy of Shankara, or the writings of the Christian mystic Meister Eckhart, that we see them saying very, very similar things, even between cultures that could never have known about each other. So Huxley was putting all of his attention there were Huston was saying, okay, there is this esoteric level of religion, but there is also the exoteric level of religion in terms of religious ritual and custom. And, you know, the various practices we associate with Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. And two things, they’re two things. First of all, they’re in the academic study of religion, many people will look at, well, what are the underlying structures of various religions, like, for instance, family structures, and how they’re shaped by the ideologies of religion. So social anthropologists would be doing that kind of work, for example, and there are people that look at the functions of those structures. So So what are the functions of those structures? In other words, how do people find community and identity for example, through a religion, I grew up in Downeast, Maine, in the congregational, Protestant church, and I get a very warm and fuzzy feeling when I go home at Christmas, and I’m with my family, and we’re in the church together. And so again, community and identity are, are important functions of religion, and there are others that we could cover. And so Huston felt like you’re making a big mistake all this when you say, we just need to get rid of the exoteric level of religion. Yeah, we shouldn’t be dogmatic about our particular communities and our particular identities and exclusive in that regard. But these are valuable functions for people people derive a tremendous amount of purpose and meaning from those contexts. When I was writing the the Huston Smith book, I was out in California, some interviews in the Bay Area, and and I interviewed Phil cousineau, who was a close friend of Joseph Campbell and one of his biographers. Great guy, Phil, hey, Phil, up here, this interview. And Phil said, Yeah, you know, Huston got that and Huxley and Joseph Campbell really didn’t I mean, they were so far along in their particular progress spiritually, perhaps, that they could be loan scouts and go it alone. But he said Janis Joplin used to say I make love to 2000 people every night, and then I go home alone. And cousineau said maybe if she had had more community, that she would have lived past 26, or whatever the age was 2727.
Rick Archer: So yeah, Henrickson, Jim Morrison all died at 27.
Dana Sawyer: Okay, yeah, dangerous age 27 year old daughter, I’m going to give her a call this afternoon. How much I love her. Just tell him that, you know, getting back to Huston’s view is that the exoteric level of religion has a lot of values that sociologists can put a premium on psychologists can put a premium on whether intellectuals like Huxley esoteric like Huxley do or not. And then, you know, Huston would also say, Huxley was discounting that those are established trails up the spiritual mountain, that, you know, I know you meditate every day, Rick, and that meditation practice that you do Transcendental Meditation is in many ways, just old wine in new bottles, as you know that it’s a traditional mantra, Jhapa mantra repetition practice of the Shanker lineage and has been around for 11 centuries. So a lot of these practices, you know, Zen meditation and schmatta, Tibetan Buddhist practice I have a lot of experience with these aren’t things that we should poopoo there, you know, you can you can bushwhack your way up the spiritual mountain. But, you know, to do some of these traditional practices can be very, very, very efficacious. Now, what people can do, and you know, if my coffee is making me blab too much just pipe up here. But what people can do is they can sacralized the trail. And I think we talked about that in our first interview together, they can confuse a means for an ends and itself. So they can say, oh, only my religion is the trail of the spiritual mountain. In fact, there isn’t even a mountain top I’m making a mountain top out of my trail, if you see what I mean, that it’s really about these practices. I’m sack realizing the practices themselves. And that’s a danger because well, for obvious reasons, I think it makes us myopic, and, and blind to other possibilities.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, you and I were both TM teachers, as we know and others may not know but One of the ways in which we were indoctrinated and that training was that religions are sort of the, the somewhat degenerated remnants of the, you know, coming on earth of a great sage, enlightened beings such as Jesus or Buddha, who taught a fresh teaching and enlightened a lot of people in their presence. But then, as time went on, you know, knowledge crumbled on the hard rocks of ignorance and things got distorted and diluted, and so on and so forth. And until, you know, we have what we have today in terms of the various religions. And, you know, marshy wasn’t saying that we should do away with them all he was saying, if we can kind of bring in the transcendent, then will, will restore the original purpose of religions and will breathe life into existing religions. And I don’t I could say more. That’s what that’s what the coffee take over. Go ahead. Yeah, that’s
Dana Sawyer: what, that’s what Huston was very much trying to do is to say, if we can reclaim the transcendent aspect of religion, then the religions become revitalized. And, and that’s a piece that he picked up from fourth job Chawan. Right, that, that that should be there. And I think, you know, that’s part of what your work is about my work is about is, very often, I think, in our own culture, people are starving for the transcendent, they don’t realize. You know, we’ve talked about this before, but I think on some subliminal level, because the Transcendent is there, the human spirit is always longing for it, hoping to complete itself. I see with my students a lot of times, a longing for what I call the transcendent a longing for, it’s like this a part of them inside that they can intuit is there, but they really don’t have access to, you know, when when my nieces were reading the Harry Potter books, and when they were reading the Twilight series about becoming a vampire. What I see in all of that, and other scholars have talked about it is a longing for the transcendent. We don’t want to be a muggle, we want to go to Hogwarts, and we want to learn to be magical beings. And, you know, I think that’s what a place like gesslin is, for example, is a is a Hogwarts for adults, a place where people can go and learn how to make contact with the, with that part of them that they profoundly longed for.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I would go so far as to say that everybody in the world longs for the transcendent that everything in creation longs for the transcendent, every dog, every mosquito. There’s, there’s this sort of evolutionary trajectory that we’re all following. And, you know, I read this someplace in your book, set up that any desire of any sort, is, is a sort of a stepping stone to ultimate fulfillment in, in in the divine ground, I think was the word used. Go ahead and comment on that, and then have another question.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, I think there’s a say, in our own culture. And I’m sorry, I’m just getting over cold. I’m surprised people haven’t figured out that you’re just not going to be able to keep going to the mall and find fulfilment, that it isn’t going to happen on the next trip that in at the same time, I’m not surprised because if you look at the amount of propaganda for materialism, that the average American mind is bombarded with on a regular basis, the the ideology of Keeping Up with the Joneses, the ideology of, you know, dollar sign equal sign, smiley face, money is going to do it, you know, you’re going to buy your way into some kind of profound happiness. Even though we see in the United States, the life satisfaction index, has gone down, even as Americans ability to buy has tripled.
Rick Archer: Well, I don’t think I mean, you live in Maine, right? And you’re right next door in New Hampshire, where they have this serious heroin epidemic. And maybe you’ve got it in Maine, too. We have been to Yeah. And so I mean, to take an extreme example, you know, people should realize, of course, that if you shoot heroin into your arm, it’s going to wear off in a few hours, and you’re not going to be any better off. In fact, you’re going to be worse off than you were before you did it. But people do it anyway, because they don’t see any, the quick fix is better than nothing. And they don’t. I’m starting to give reasons for why they do it now. But it’s like it’s not uncommon and that’s an extreme example, for people to you know, live their lives, chasing the quick fix in whatever form because they don’t know anything else that will prevent by them relief or fulfillment, so I guess it temporary relief is better than nothing.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. I mean, I think that’s a part of it. I also think it makes a kind of logical sense. If you live in a society that reduces the purposes of human existence, you know, the T loss, the goal of human experience to only physical comfort and pleasure, why not cut to the chase man, shoot some physical comfort and pleasure in your arm? I mean, then, these are what I’m saying. And I think in, in some ways, there’s a kind of logic to it. People, you know, that’s why you and I are both interested in all this is there is some curious value for our society, you know, as young and many others have argued, inside the discipline of psychology, that people long for self actualization. And if they don’t have good social structures that cultivate that in them, then they they flounder around they flail around. Yeah, I’m seeing a lot of that today.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, I know, I certainly did a lot of floundering and flailing before I found this. And a minute ago, we were talking about, you know, the fact that religions do have value, at least potentially, and that, and we’ve been talking about how people really longed for the transcendent. But the average person who gets involved in a goes to church every Sunday, for instance, they hear some nice Song Song, and they hear a talk or, you know, lecture sermon, there’s some little rituals and things like that. But, you know, when I had to do that, as a kid, it was like, the low point of my week, my mother would drag me to church, you know, and it was like, totally boring, I had no idea what was going on, I hated doing it, I’d rather be outside playing baseball. And because there was, you know, had no concept of any kind of transcendental reality, and nothing that I saw in and I also went to Congregational Church was providing it. So I guess the question is, you know, if religions have this value, is the exoteric structure of religion sufficient value for the vast majority of people? Or? Or perhaps, is the exodus from traditional churches, due to the fact that they aren’t providing some kind of transcendent experience? And do they have the means of providing it? Or would they have to sort of turn to other sources which have more or less specialized in providing, for instance, you know, Thomas Merton went to India and, and, you know, Father Keating, learned TM, and then kind of molded into the centering prayer and perhaps found roots for the centering prayer in, in Christian tradition. And, and Huston, of course, tried all kinds of things, looking for the transcendent. So to summarize that question, can religions on their own as they are, pull themselves up by their own bootstraps and provide the deeper experience that people are inherently craving? Or do they need kind of some cross fertilization from other traditions, which have been a little bit more clear about that deeper reality in order to resuscitate themselves?
Dana Sawyer: Yes. The latter? No, that was a whole family of questions. You know, there’s, there’s so many things to say in there. I mean, Huston was born in 1919, and China, into a family of Methodist missionaries. And so he grew up with his only view of foreigners, and he was a foreigner, being that they were profoundly religious people. And you know, what came across to Huston is that we’re in good hands that God loves us. And all of this. And what came through doing from his mother was that he should respect the indigenous religions of China, she had all also was born and raised in China, and could speak fluent Mandarin, as can Huston Smith. And so she had a lot of respect for Chinese culture. And from the, you know, from childhood made sure that her three sons learned how to speak Chinese. So there was a lot of which is more
Rick Archer: than you can say, for a lot of missionaries who go around the world.
Dana Sawyer: Well, that’s right. That’s right. I mean, his father was definitely an old school. Express your Christianity primarily through Christian love. And what for instance, his father when he got to su jo, where their mission was, the first thing he built was a hospital. And the second thing he built was a school. And the third thing he Built was a church. So many shows his priorities in terms of how he expressed his Christianity. But what I wanted to get to relative to your, you know, family of questions was, was that Huston came to believe, something that maybe you experienced when you were in church, which was that he respected it tremendously. And he saw some magic happening for his father and for his mother, and for one of his brothers, but, but there was something missing for him. And what he came to theorize was that, as the Bhagavad Gita says, There are basically spiritual personality types, that not everybody is drawn to the path of devotion, Bucky, and that was really his parents path. It was about devotion to God, devotion to God in the form of Jesus. And, and it wasn’t, it didn’t ring so strongly true for Huston, that he realized there were other paths up the spiritual mountain, that, you know, like, sometimes my students will say that they’re not religious at all, or they’re not spiritual at all. And yet, I see them canvassing all the time for the Sierra Club. And I will say, Well, you know, that’s a kind of spirituality, you love nature and believe that nature should be preserved. And so you’re very active in going around and trying to wake people up about global warming and these sorts of things. Well, Huston Smith would say that’s Karma Yoga is described in the in the Bhagavad Gita that when we’re in service to humanity, and the planets and other beings on it, through our actions, Red Cross volunteers in the third world, that that is a spiritual path. And so you know, there were those four major spiritual paths described in the Bhagavad Gita. And Huston will say not every spiritual path is for everybody. Not everybody finds their true home relative to their own spiritual personality type in the tradition they were born into. That’s one answer to have that family of questions.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think,
Dana Sawyer: did you, you kind of found that it sounds like Rick, I mean, that it wasn’t the Congo church, as we used to call it that really worked for your own self actualization that it knows.
Rick Archer: I mean, it says I learned to meditate. My attitude was Oh, so this is what that whole thing is about. This is what Jesus was talking about this experience, you know, and then it began to make more sense. And I began to have more respect for it. Not that I actually felt like going to church any, any more than I already knew, because I had my own sort of church, meditating. But yeah, I didn’t feel the need so much for the outer structure of that anyway, the Christian outer structure. Although, as you know, many, many people do they, they’ll go off on a spiritual quest, and then they’ll come back to Judaism or Christianity or something and integrate that into their, the tradition they grew up with.
Dana Sawyer: Right? That’s a very common thing. Yeah. Very common.
Rick Archer: They become Hindus or Buddhists. Yeah.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, those esoteric payoffs of religion, as they say, community identity, etc. Those are strong attractors for for some personality types.
Rick Archer: Here in Fairfield, the synagogue is very active. And, you know, all these sort of people who’ve been meditating for many decades are all this enthusiasm, take participants in it, and you know, it’s a meaningful thing for them. So, yeah, yeah. All right. Let’s keep going. I got lots of notes, and you sent me some questions, and feel free to throw in anything at any point that comes to mind that I’m not thinking of that you want to talk about? Okay. So I think, just just to make sure we’ve covered it, you’ve mentioned it, and most people understand it, but it would be worth defining perennial philosophy briefly, because they may refer to it elsewhere in the interview, and it’s a good thing for people. It’s a good term for people to understand.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah. Well, I mean, it’s, it’s simple and straightforward in some ways, but to put it in a historical narrative, in 1937, Aldous Huxley sailed on the Normandy from England to New York. And when he was traveling with his wife, he was also traveling with a guy named Gerald Hurd, who is a very interesting figure and take a while to really explain, Gerald, but he’s in the book. Gerald was interested in mysticism and got Huxley interested in mysticism and said, Hey, we’re going to California we’re going to drive to California from New York. So we You might want to study with a swami who’s out there a swami of the Vedanta society named Swami probe Hava Nanda. And they did that. And when they got to California, they were studying with Swami propofol, Binondo, he was teaching them a Hindu meditation practice. And inside of His teaching was this idea of a Sanatana Dharma, and eternal religion, that we live in the world and implicit to our relationship to the world, there is a natural spirituality that that the cosmos has a spiritual dimension broadly defined, and that we must have a natural relationship to a spirituality. So people in all traditions as they self actualize, move further into their awakening, wake up into the reality of this singular spiritual tradition. Anyway, Huxley being you know, having an IQ somewhere north of 200, and an encyclopedic memory. One time for The New York Times, he reviewed the most recent edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. And his friends. You know, Edwin Hubble space telescope is named after he goes Stravinsky, and others said, he never forgot any of it, he remembered the entire thing. So here’s this enormous intelligence, this enormous, incredible memory and access to knowledge. And he said, Well, you know, to Swami, probably not his idea of an eternal religion, let’s find out. So what he did is he read all of the mystical literature he could get his hands on from the established traditions. And after a couple of years of that, he said, thumbs up? Yeah, you know, the, there does seem to be a certain pattern of ideas that we find cutting across the mystical literature. And he reduced those to what he called the minimum working hypothesis. And so he’s saying that all mystics are basically are fundamentally making three points of four points. One is that there is in addition to this physical universe, a transcendent aspect, beyond time and space, that all mystics are saying this, there’s an absolute, and this absolute, transcendent reality. Point number two, is also imminent, as physical reality. So physical reality is not in a duel dialectical relationship to the transcendent, where there are these two things. But in a relationship where the transcendent, the absolute that’s beyond time and space, is fountaining, up into manifesting up into this realm of time and space. And the analogy I use for that as it’s like an ocean, the one ocean manifests at surface level as waves. And waves are multiple in many, but they’re not anything separate from motion itself.
Rick Archer: Right. And just to throw in a comment on that, I mean, if you this is the theme of my sent my talk at Sandra’s, if you just if you actually look closely at the physical creation, and even what science has told us about it, the trend, the sort of the divine intelligence is staring you in the face, you know, I mean, it’s just, there’s so many qualities that the Transcendent is said to have, which you can actually see revealed in the manifest universe, if you know how to look
Dana Sawyer: great, right. So you know, obviously, would totally agree with that. And then the third point of the minimum working hypothesis is that human beings can actually experience reality that way, that one aspect of the of relative reality, the world that is inside time and space, is you. And another aspect of it is me. But since all of physical reality is fountaining, up out of this absolute, this transcendent, then in some sense, you and I must have a transcendent bottom to us, if you will, or a transcendent aspect. And so human beings, the mystics claim, can actually experience that transcendent aspect that they share in common with all of reality. And then the fourth and last aspect of the minimum working hypothesis is that not only can we experience it reality that way That’s what we’re here to do that that’s the purpose of human existence, they say, is to wake up to every aspect of what we are, or I should say, the most fundamental aspect of what we are. So when our relative consciousness is experiencing that what Meister Eckhart called the divine ground of being that transcendent aspect. That’s what Aldous Huxley and Huston Smith termed the unitive experience, or, yeah, nice non dual experience, human I would call
Rick Archer: and related two points three and four, there was someone in your book, whom you quoted in Huston found exciting, who proposed that the very sort of mechanics of creation are such that more and more sophisticated complex forms are evolved for the very purpose of the Divine ground experiencing itself, as if it sort of continues to create forms which are more and more capable of enabling it to know itself as a living experience.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, and this is, you know, this is thinking, you know, I’ve been reading a lot of Friedrich Schelling lately, the 19th century German idealist philosopher, I recommend shelling, by the way to to folks out there that are watching this podcast, and shelling believed in see if I can unpack this for you very quickly. There’s the idea of pantheism, that God is in all things there’s, you know, in animistic, religions, there are gods of mountains, like Mount Fuji in Japan, there are gods of trees and rivers, nine ads and dry ads that you know, hear a God their God everywhere a God, God. God is everywhere. And then there’s a concept in the academic study of religion, Pan N theism, which is saying, not only is God in everything, but everything is God, that, you know, back to the analogy of the ocean and the waves that, that if God is the ocean, and the waves are little discrete moments of God, that yeah, you know, Rumi once said, You’re not a drop in the ocean, you’re the ocean and a drop. Yeah. And, and so that that plays into this. But then there’s what, what Schelling and others have. It’s a viewpoint that’s termed evolutionary pin and theism. And what that means is that in the physical on the physical level of being reality, later on, you know, people like Kira, Disha, Don, post Darwin are saying, you know, when we look at the physical evolution of species from a Darwin perspective, then you know, evolutionary pan envious would say, what nature is trying to do and nature here is basically synonymous with God in this particular instance, is evolve beings that have a nervous system complex enough to wake up to the reality that they are the ocean, that the waves are trying to realize their ocean nest, in, in a sense will not in a sense, an actuality, for shelling. This was the idea that were, were God’s eyes and God’s fingertips on some level that right now as you’re sitting here, and you’re an active consciousness, you are, you know, an aspect of the rays of God’s light that are active in the world and to act most enlightened. In our most enlightened fashion. We need to fully self actualize plugin to the source of our awakening, which is, you know, God slash the absolute slash the ocean.
Rick Archer: From now on, if anybody asked me what my religion is, I’m going to tell them I’m an evolutionary pennant theist. Okay, good. That’s because that resonates. That’s like, totally rings a bell for me.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, for me, that’s very descriptive. And you know, what’s wonderful about it socially is it’s confusing enough that they won’t get mad at you. Yeah. So go to talk, talk with somebody else at the cocktail party.
Rick Archer: Yeah, they’ll kind of run away. No doubt. That’s my tactic with fundamentalist if they call I start talking, talking astronomy with them and going into the size of the galaxy and the size of the universe. And, you know, if Jesus lived only 33 years, was he on tour and, you know, going to tour going to all these other undoubtedly inhabited places and they say, Nice talking to you.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, I bet They really enjoy you for that thought have something to say, relative to the four points about the energy of knowledge.
Rick Archer: Okay, go for it.
Dana Sawyer: Well, it you know, one thing I think that’s important is that when Huston takes up that piece of, of esoteric religion, one thing he often will point out is that we can say, okay, Rumi has these mystical experiences, Shankara has them, etc, etc, etc. Buddhists have, you know, luminaries like Showbie or somebody? But what about the average person? And, and he believes, and I believe, too, that all people have these experiences, they may not know, necessarily how to interpret them. relative to what we’re talking about today, but the experience is there, and they may they place a value on it. I gave a workshop, Gallup has
Rick Archer: done surveys about this sort of thing. And large percentages of the populations claimed to have had mystical experiences of some sort. Or,
Dana Sawyer: you know, I did a workshop down at my friend Alex Gray, the painter Alex Gray’s facility down in New York last spring. And what I started out with was asking the audience, tell me about your most sublime experience, tell me about something that’s become a touchstone that you keep coming back to as valuable in your life. And one woman raised her hand, and she said, I was walking down the street in New York City one day. And I felt like every person I saw, I knew them. I knew them in some profound intimate way. Even making eye contact, she said, she felt like she was them. And they were her. And she couldn’t understand what was happening to her. But that experience, periodically with some regularity, keeps floating up in her mind as significant in and then somebody else said, you know, just the other day, I was walking down the beach with my dog. And I fell into this experience of timelessness, where I have a busy, high powered job that I didn’t care about it. I didn’t care about the future, I didn’t care about the past, I just felt like everything was okay. And I can’t explain it, it just was a sense of the eternal and timeless. Well, you know, Huston would say, based on Huxley’s minimum working hypothesis that your own eternality was floating forward into your purview that that transcendent level of your own being was, was coming into focus coming into your experience. And so you were feeling your own timelessness, in that timeless experience. And for the woman, you you were feeling that level of being where everything is profoundly interconnected, because on the most profound level, it’s just a oneness. So, you know, I think people regularly have these experiences, and a lot of cases, they dismiss them, because they have, you know, what they think are more important duties to perform. But, you know, we shouldn’t create a view that only, you know, some great luminaries standing on a mountain with a 50,000 watt, aura, rainbow colored aura are having these experiences, I mean, I think quite frankly, children have been regular.
Rick Archer: Well, if points three and four of the perennial philosophy are true, then the you know, the surprising thing would be if people didn’t have these experiences, you know, because if, if the world if the universe is nothing but the divine and just appearing as form, then we’re just sort of, you know, swimming in the ocean of the Divine, like, you know, the there’s that old saying, you know, the absurdity of a fish being thirsty and water when and looking for the water on it’s completely in the water. So here we are, just, you know, we’re partnered fish. Yeah. And so it’s not it’s not surprising, I think that spiritual experiences are, are so are relatively commonplace. And in my experience, doing this show, they’re becoming more so all the time there, it just seems to be spreading like an epidemic. And people are waking up whether or not they’re even looking for it. And those who are looking forward to waking up more readily are having deep, deep awakenings or profound experiences more readily. So some something good is happening.
Dana Sawyer: I think so too. I mean, I think one part of your program that’s so interesting to me as you talk to all the people having these experiences is that As the experience proliferates, which I of course, hope it does, then it takes it’s related to what I was saying about only a few a select few people say all I’m going to put these people up on a pedestal because they’re so unusual. That if it is happening more common, and if people recognize these experiences in their own lives, then it will. What am I trying to say? Yeah, democratize it takes away some of the hierarchical power structures that we saw when Asian religions really first immigrated on large scale into the United States in the 1960s. That, you know, in the same way that Huxley would have argued, yes, somebody has this profound experience, the Buddha, Jesus, whoever, then as structures come up, then people who are very interested in power and control are always attracted to structure. We’re seeing that in the presidential election. Right now, I’m not going to name names, but people can guess, who I’m talking about. And so as people are attracted to those structures, then they start to create dogmas, and they start to become gatekeepers and religions that really help from Huxley’s perspective, were preventing awakening more than creating it. And I think sometimes when you look at the power structures of the Guru paradigms in the 1960s, even after 30, and 40 years of practice and meditation, those gurus were very stingy on handing out any kind of authority to their followers, that, Oh, I’ll still be the great one who tells you what to do and when to do it. And you see what I’m saying.
Rick Archer: I mean, it made them nervous. I mean, Deepak Chopra got a little bit too authoritative or respected in his own right around marshy and he and marshy had to have a parting of the ways. Another friend of mine, started to think that way and feel that way. And, you know, March, she had this little meeting with him. And he said, You know, I really love you, and you’ve been a really good close student, but you’re becoming too independent. And you’re thinking, you know, so I have to let you go. And I just happen to know those stories, because I was in the TM movement, but I bet you they’re similar stories in many other groups.
Dana Sawyer: You know, I had an experience of it the other day, I have to tell you really quickly, I was in the Newark Airport on my way back from visiting my mother and Florida, and walking through the airport. And here is this guy from India. And he’s got on, you know, sadhu, orange, and he’s got a Tilak on his forehead that identifies him as a vice Nava and long black hair. And I never missed an opportunity to speak Hindi. So I walked up to him. And I said up Gohan say, where are you from? And so he lights up because somebody speaks his language. And we started having this conversation. Well, a moment or two later, several of his Western devotees in Krishna garb, are now surrounding us. And in those moments, I could see his demeanor and attitude change, that there was a certain discomfort, they felt that they didn’t know what we were talking about. And that there was an energy toward me, how can you just chit chat with the great one. And so he also started to buy into it a little bit, you know, where before he was very congenial, I could see him sort of shift into I’m the great one mode, even if it’s conversation. And so you know, these structures are there
Rick Archer: as a mutual feedback loop with that kind of thing. You know, the the students feed the teacher, the teacher feeds the students, and they carry on like that.
Dana Sawyer: Exactly. Yeah. I mean, they feed the dynamic, do they feed themselves in a larger way? I mean, the answers got to be yes and no. Let’s but anyway, you know, for Americans, where there’s this idea of kind of the sovereignty of individual choice, so there used to be, you know, Phil Goldberg, our friends said, in American beta, there was such an interesting irony in the 1960s of the most anti authoritarian generation in the history of the United States, surrendering all authority to gurus and the funny dynamic that was, but you know, once burned twice shy, and I think increasingly, increasingly, because of what you say, Rick, about the experiencing being recognized more often, and more people having a richer, fuller version of the experience, that we’re seeing more Yeah, democratization of the unitive experience. Yeah, I hope so. I hope we are,
Rick Archer: I swear we’re going to get back to Huston. But all this relates to him, but we’re going to get back to him specifically. But you said an interesting thing in an email exchange, we had recently that yet no problem with girls, but you should have four or five of them, because when they disagree with each other, as they inevitably will, then you’ll kind of be thrown back upon your own understanding or your own sort of your own resources to how did you say?
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, you’ll, you’ll realize that you’re going to have to make up your own mind. Ultimately, it’s your journey. Ultimately, it’s your journey. And, you know, you can always ask the guru what you think, or what you should think, and, and when you’re dealing with four or five, then they will inevitably disagree with each other. So you will, I mean, you know, you recently interviewed Andrew Harvey, and Andrew and I have talked about this, that when he split from mother Mira, that was a great moment of insight and self actualization for him is that he never He never ever, for a moment doubted that she was continuously having the non dual experience. But he disagreed with her in certain ways about how that should be interpreted, and, and what its consequences are for social life. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Which leads me right into a quote from your book. He said, I hope I’m quoting properly here said unity can’t be maintained, can well I guess Huston was saying this, and I tended to disagree with it. But Unity can’t be maintained continuously. Even if a person were continuously experiencing divine ground, which I believe they can be. He or she would still be a person with limitations. spiritual maturity is coming to terms with both our timeless and temporal natures. We are infinitely better durable, but never perfectible.
Dana Sawyer: You know, the, do you want to say something more than that, though? You go ahead. Okay. Well, you know, two things that come to my mind, first of all, one doesn’t have to live in Paris all the time to know that Paris is there. If you’ve ever been to Paris, then you know what Paris is on some level, and you can’t deny its existence because you experienced it. So people who are watching right now or will watch who’ve had this experience? Don’t deny it. There it is. It’s part of you. It’s informing your life, like the person who had the timelessness walking on the beach with their dog, let it keep informing you. And for those of you who are having a continuous non dual experience, Huston would say and I would agree with him, it’s important to face the fact that you also have temporal aspects to it. You are that you, you’re intelligent, but you’re not. Probably I can safely say anybody listening to this is not as intelligent, as was Aldous Huxley on that, in that one spectrum of you know, IQ kind of intelligence, which is,
Rick Archer: nor are they as good a piano player is Chopin, or as good a baseball player as Babe Ruth, or, you know, we all there are always going to be limitations on the relative level.
Dana Sawyer: Exactly, exactly. And even in terms of the incorporation of the non dual experience into one’s life, that the experience can always be there. But is it informing all levels of your emotional maturity? Is it informing all levels of your social maturity? That’s a big project that that goes on and on?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Should we pursue this because there’s more we could talk about here, but we still want to keep going. You want
Dana Sawyer: to you want to go back to Huston? And of course, that’s what I most want to talk about, frankly. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Let’s go back to Huston. Maybe we’ll get back into this as we go along. Because there’s we can pursue this angle that you just brought up. But let me ask you a short forward question. Why is Huston important?
Dana Sawyer: Oh, he’s very important for several reasons. You know, the, the the most important of the important reasons I would say is that he was the first scholar in modern times, to take religion seriously as having real value that in the 1940s and 50s, when he was first finishing grad school and then teaching, it was typical in colleges and universities that you really could only teach religion if you hated it. That modernists, you know agreed with Mark that religion was the opiate of the, of the masses or with Freud that religion is based on an infantile model, where we, we realize there are things our actual parents are capable of doing. And so we reach out to cosmic parents to take care of us, and pray to and ask help from so soon
Rick Archer: to throw in there that Freud thought that the transcendent, or the experiences of it were just some regression to the security of the womb or, you know, nursing or something that he didn’t take that seriously. But anyway, keep going.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. He called it the oceanic experience, that it’s what we experienced in the womb, our first conscious experiences, we experienced no separation between self and other. And so we longed to go back into the womb, that idea. And so, you know, Freud said, Hey, stop going to church, you know, start coming to see me and get some therapy around this, you know? So anyway, you know, we’re agreeing with modernists, a lot of academics said, it’s the 1940s. Man, it’s 1950s. Let’s outgrow this, this religion mumbo jumbo, let go of our superstitions and march forward. And so along comes Huston Smith, and he says, Well, how come music professors get to love music? And how come art professors are history professors get to love art. But I, as a teacher of religion, can’t love religion, and point out its good aspects. I mean, you know, there’s been bad music. You know, music professors aren’t obligated to only play the bad music. And so Huston was really one of the first people to say, instead of a evaluating religion all the time, and judging religion all the time pejoratively. How about if I simply describe religion? What if I just say, okay, in my course, you know, he was first teaching primarily at MIT talking Denver before that. Well, Washington University even earlier, why don’t I? Why don’t I describe the religions in such a way that proponents of those religions would at least recognize them? Why don’t we start there. And so that’s what he did. You know, when he wrote the religions of man back in the 1950s 1958, it came out, then people who read that book, felt almost like he might be some kind of weird schizophrenic guy, because as they change chapters, it was almost like he, he changed religions that he became an apologist for this new faith he was describing in every new chapter.
Rick Archer: You know, as I read your book, I got the sense that it was Huston’s humility that enabled him to do that, that he didn’t have a particular, you know, axe to grind or viewpoint to defend or impose upon others. And that made him capable of appreciating all the different traditions and religions, because it made him capable of approaching them respectfully.
Dana Sawyer: I think that’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. You know, he, in my experience, has always been a very humble person. He himself says that he never had any great profound new insights that he really has been primed, you know, his genius, if he has one is really unintuitive ability to, to hear the truth and other people’s theories, and then become the kind of champion of a various set of theories that over his life have run most true. Yeah. So that’s,
Rick Archer: that’s pretty significant. Because if you think about it, just about every member of a religious group, or spiritual group has either very overtly or at least subliminally, this attitude that ours is the best thing and that, therefore, everything else is inferior to some degree. You know, many wouldn’t say it, some do say it and pounded into others. But, you know, there’s there’s just sort of this attitude. And you get the sense that Huston was really free of that and just approached everything with a kind of a childlike openness.
Dana Sawyer: I think that’s exactly right. You know, two thoughts that come to my mind. One is, whenever I was talking, when I interviewed Deepak Chopra for for the book, he said that he had read a Huston Smith’s the religions of man now the world’s religions, which is still in print, you know, what, 57 years later? He had been amazed by it as a 14 year old boy in Delhi. He read the book and shared it with his father, Arvind Sharma. Another Hindu academic, told me that when his father read the book, also in Delhi, he said, wow, this guy is understanding my religion even better than I do. And so, you know, there was that, that deep desire to present the religions describe the religions in a way that was authentic in a way that their followers would recognize. And and then, okay, now I’ve forgotten the second reason to well,
Rick Archer: I’ll just throw a question at you. And probably, it’ll come to mind when you have a moment. Let go through some of my notes here. Well, I want to sort of trace through Huston’s life quickly in terms of the various spiritual paths that he delved into, and, and that’ll sort of give us a better sense of the man and what kind of experiences he went through. But I don’t know we can we can do that. I’m torn between asking you all these other questions. Well, you know, one
Dana Sawyer: thing that one thing that it relates to what we’ve just been talking about, the reason he was so, so well able to describe these religions, is that he apprenticed himself out to proponents of the religions. He said, Okay, let me read their sacred texts. Let me read what their apologists say. And let me apprentice myself with Swamis or rabbis or Sufi master Allah, sir. Yeah. And so he did that. And in some cases, like he studied with Swami sought precaution Nanda, another monk of the Rama Krishna order for 10 years. He studied Zen Buddhism with DT Suzuki for 10 years, he would go, you know, he went to Japan to study Zen Buddhism, that Neo sin Ji. So there
Rick Archer: was a point in the book where he was in this Zen monastery on a retreat and for like, eight hours a day he had to sit in lotus or some such position. Yeah. Contemplating. If, if so and so says that a dog has Buddha Nature doesn’t have Buddha nature, but such and such says that even a great blade of grass has Buddha nature. How do you reconcile that? So you hit it think about that for eight hours a day or something in pain because of his sitting position. And I thought, God, what an arduous path. I could never have done anything
Dana Sawyer: like that. Well, there’s lots to say about that. But I mean, it does show his commitment, his determination. Yeah. Extraordinary. Yeah. In his humility in that he really just wanted to get it right. In terms of each one of those descriptions, you know, that part of it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So there was Hinduism, the SWAMI sat percussion Nanda, there was his his serious application to Zen practice. And perhaps you might want to say a little bit more about that. But then he found himself in Cambridge teaching in MIT. And he ran into Timothy Leary.
Dana Sawyer: And he ran into Timothy Leary. And so you hold that thought, because my other thought just came back. Okay. We won’t forget Timothy Leary. Yeah, that, you know, Huston felt like when he was studying each one of these religions, that this esoteric aspect of religion kept coming up in his experience that, you know, perhaps partially because he was looking through that Huxley and lens of the minimum working hypothesis, but that as he did apprentice in each one of these traditions, then he kept feeling like, wow, there’s something to this. He didn’t report it very often in his early writing, but on the experiential level, he could see those as viable pathways, you know, into non dual experience. Yeah,
Rick Archer: I think Ramakrishna did something similar, didn’t he, where he kind of like, even post awakening he, whatever awakening is, he applied himself to various spiritual traditions and went through all their rituals and paths in order to kind of like climb the mountain from that angle. And then from that angle,
Dana Sawyer: yeah, yeah. I mean, I think there are several people that that have done that, but I would agree that Ramakrishna was one. Yeah, so then Timothy Leary. So then Timothy Leary. And that’s a fun story in ways. When I wrote the original manuscript for the book, the the editor said, Wow, you spend a lot of time talking about Huston’s interaction with Timothy Leary and ROM Das. You gotta cut this down somewhat because it’s a major part of the story. And I found that I could only cut it down so far because it was so not only it just so darn much fun to talk about. But there were so many relevant. There was so much relevant information in there relative to not only Huston’s journey, but the journey of a lot of people in our age group who lived through the 60s and experimented with psychedelics and all that. So, Huxley had written the doors of perception back in 1954 1955. And it covered his experiences with mess gone. And what had happened was there was a man named Humphrey azZaman, up in Saskatchewan, who was a psychiatrist and he was working with mental patients, and they were using mescaline as part of a treatment program. Well, those those people started to report that they were having what seemed like mystical experiences, Humphry Osmond didn’t know anything about mysticism. But he had read Aldous Huxley’s book, the perennial philosophy 1945, in which he had talked about this minimum working hypothesis, and this pattern of experiences that cut across the mystical traditions. So Atman said, Hey, maybe Aldous Huxley would would be able to make sense of my patients experience. So he sent some letters to all this and they started a correspondence. All just said, maybe I would recognize it as valid mystical experience or not if I tried it. Well, it wasn’t against the law. And Osmund was coming to a professional conference in Los Angeles where all this was living. And so he brought some mescaline with him. And so while Aldous Huxley tried mesclun, 1954 and, you know, to use a euphemism for my generation, he broke on through to the other side. Yeah, he definitely had a mind blowing experience. He felt like for the first time, he had really had a profound experience of non dual consciousness of the beatific vision. And that’s what he wrote about in the doors of perception. Okay. Fast forward almost 10 years.
Rick Archer: It’s interesting, just as a side note that as Huxley was dying as he died, he had his wife inject him with LSD, because he wanted to go out with full consciousness of what, you know, the deeper dimensions.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, you know, I talked with Laura, his wife about that. I mean, she injected him twice, actually. And Timothy Leary had brought the substance to them while they were there. So um, you know, I’ve always thought what an extraordinary experience to go directly from waking state consciousness to dead, you know, not not from an OPA did stupor like, like most people experience, but from not only waking state consciousness, but a psychedelic experience of melting into the absolute great. I mean, you have to admire the courage if nothing else, yeah. But anyway, he. What happened was Timothy Leary. Now we’re talking about Timothy Leary, almost 10 years later, had come to Harvard, and was a very well respected psychologist at that time, he had a book out at that time on human personality that was basically the book. And that’s why they brought him to Harvard. Well, he had an experience on psilocybin down in Mexico, I think, in Zihuatanejo, but I’m not sure. And he said he learned more about psychology in four hours on the substance than he had learned in his entire Ph. D. program. Well, anyway, he wanted to create a research program at Harvard using psilocybin, which eventually became called the Harvard psychedelic project. And again, it wasn’t illegal at that time. Well, in the same way, people who were being given the substance volunteers who were being given the substance, they had to fill out these elaborate questionnaires afterward. They seem to be describing mystical experiences. So Leary got ahold of Huxley. He said, What do you think? Huxley said, I don’t have time to work on this right now. But one of my very close friends Huston Smith is teaching right there in your area at MIT. You’re at Harvard, he’s at MIT. Why don’t you ask him he? He’s got some real, you know, expertise in this area. So Timothy Leary got ahold of us. and said, Would you look at these reports these questionnaires and so that’s exactly what happened. Huston looked at them, was inspired by them and went the experiential route that Huxley had gone he got Timothy Leary, to give him some psilocybin
Rick Archer: was conjoined the Yeah, it’s interesting and sad to consider the direction that Larry’s life went in. There’s a quote here from Huston, I believe said drugs appear to be able to induce religious experiences, it is less evident that they can produce religious lives. And he talked about traits over states. And then there’s Alan Watts, you know, when you receive the message, hang up the phone. But it was perhaps an interesting lesson for everyone to see how Timothy Leary became increasingly unbalanced as he took more and more drugs and began experimenting with a greater variety of drugs and greater quantities of drugs and, you know, all sorts of things. I think there’s a cautionary note here for for since we’re talking about about hallucinogens in a rather a way that might almost seem to recommend them, there’s a cautionary note that it’s not something that one necessarily has to do or should do, or anything else. It’s something that these guys did. And there’s other methods, I would say. You and I both did them and they were eye openers, but hopefully we hung up the phone.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, you know, on the on the should we hang up the phone one one, inconsistency that I’ve heard that message from Huston Smith, is that when he talks about psychedelic use in America, he often says once you get the message, hang up the phone. And yet at the same time, he became a great champion of the Native American church, which uses peyote as their sacrament. And they continue to use it as a sacrament throughout life. In some ways, I see that some kind of disconnect in his message. I mean,
Rick Archer: and I didn’t get to this chapter in the book yet, but there’s a peyote chapter later on towards much later in his life, peyote and Mazatlan. Yeah, so you can’t just sort of generalize anything but
Dana Sawyer: but but you know, I totally agree with you, Rick, on on that Huston is saying, locate him, you know, you’re encouraging all these young people to take psychedelics and to turn on tune in drop out. I don’t agree with you. In 1966, there was a, a conference on psychedelics and academic conference primarily in Berkeley. And that was when Tim Leary, you know, gave his turn on tune in drop out message to the youth of America. And when it came Huston’s time to speak, he was probably angrier than he’s ever been in his life. He’s very kind, gentle person. And he saw that as totally irresponsible. That, you know, you’re 14 years old, you’re 15 years old, and you’re told to drop acid and reject, you know, the entire society and culture you’ve come from. He couldn’t agree with that. So, you know, from from Huston’s perspective, when are you going to live a religious life? When is it going to be winter, these altered states of consciousness result in mature traits of behavior where you become more socially conscious more? You know what I’m talking?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, at that time, in 1966, the Vietnam War was heating up. And later on, Richard Nixon, branded, Timothy Leary is what the most dangerous man in America or something like that is so I think, you know, he was definitely giving voice to a particular theme that was pretty lively in, in the American national consciousness, at least the sort of more rebellious rebellious wing of it, in opposition to the Vietnam War, and to, you know, the materialism of the 50s that hadn’t seemed to, you know, resonate with the exploratory, adventurous nature of life that young people were experiencing. So I don’t know. It’s so it’s so he had a piece of the puzzle, but you know, it’s fine. It’s not good to just sort of swallow the status quo and just accept it because things do need to change. But there’s their constructive and destructive ways of changing.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. They can evolve you know, you know, you can evolve society without necessarily launching a full scale revolution.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, that was one of the themes of the 60s Do we tear everything down. And there were the weatherman and those who wanted to start blowing up buildings and stuff. We’re just going to tear it all down, and then build who knows what, out of the ashes. And then and then those who wanted to kind of just shift the direction and the momentum in a more evolutionary way.
Dana Sawyer: Right, right. Yeah. And Huston was more that like, what ended up happening was, they eventually, as most people listening to this probably know, Leary and Richard Alpert, who became wronged us were kicked out of Harvard. And they started an organization called the International Federation for internal freedom if if, and Huston in what’s called at the atheist organization in the world, but he was a part of it, as was Alan Watts and a whole group of really forward thinking people that I respect. But when Leary made the new basis of it, Millbrook in upstate New York, they were launching all kinds of strange, crazy experiments up there that, you know, may have had value but Huston felt uncomfortable with Huston’s daughters were teenagers then and when you take them up there, there was a crazy scene and a lot of drugs and he felt uncomfortable going. So he broke loose from from Leary and Alpert at that time, and, and felt like okay, you know, maybe this isn’t my place, I’m an academic, I don’t want to I don’t want to just scream and yell at other academics, I want to be a part of a discussion and, and lead things in a new direction.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I suppose one one more thing just to touch upon since we’re on this topic is that the current enthusiasm for ayahuasca and so on, and I haven’t been there, I have no desire to go. But apparently, it’s quite a scene down in Peru with all kinds of people showing up and, and just, you know, wanting to have this experience. It’s sort of like, you know, current modern day Millbrook in a way, I think, where there’s just not a lot of structure or necessarily oversight, and there forever, really legitimate place that you can go to have that experience. There are all kinds of people just opportunists trying to cash in on all the moneyed Westerners coming down there. So, I just feel like should, and I have friends, even people who volunteer and help BatGap who have gone there and done that, but I’ve also heard of, you know, tragedies and mishaps and all kinds of sexual sexual exploitation things going on. So it’s just safety first, you know, I mean, that’s what I’m kind of leading to is that you can’t necessarily crash the gates of heaven, a pill isn’t going to give you you know, a vision of God. There’s a, there’s a kind of a long it’s a long term project. And yes, and it takes a great deal of seriousness and spiritual spiritual maturity and dedication and so on to really culture. The kind of life that Eastern cultured. Yeah, it’s not you know, we in the West, we want the quick fix, but there is no quick fix.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, well, Huston’s, you know, views on all this, which are pretty sophisticated are in the book, and there’s not time to outline them all. But, you know, Huston would say, thinking of the Native American church, that yes, psychedelics can give you a vision of God. But you still have to integrate that into your life and into your awakening. And there are many aspects to awakening it was Ken Wilber says it’s not just about waking up, it’s about growing up. It’s about cleaning up. Full spiritual maturity is more than just non dual experience. And that, on the other hand, I don’t you don’t want to be a buzzkill. That there is value in those experiences, I would argue, it’s just when you foot Am I trying to say back in the 60s, so many of us will whoring after the infinite and personal experience of the infinite and putting such a profound premium on that. We still see that working its way through our culture today that people they want that experience of the transcendent and as you know, we started this conversation good for them. We need to have that experience in our lives. But even if the kingdom of heaven is within Huston and Huxley believed it’s on us to try to create the kingdom of heaven on earth. And if it becomes an entertainment, if it becomes a distraction from trying to get traction in the world on social justice issues, human rights issues, environmental issues, I mean, do we need a lot of people who are having non dual experience walking on a planet that’s overheated, to the point where we can’t exist here anymore, that sooner or later, the rubber has to meet the road. And I mean, I would even say, again, my coffees working on me too hard, that I see a lot of times with some, some people who are whoring after the infinite in the sense that they’re kind of camped out at Apollo or epsilon, places that I strongly endorse and, and have taught at that they’re, you know, it’s like, Don’t postpone kindness is I think what I’m trying to say, is that don’t say, Oh, I’ll do all that other stuff, once I’ve reached perfect, non dual continuous experience, that the world needs us right now we need to, we need to, you know, we’re beings that have bodies that lived in a world of material parameters. And people need our help. And yeah. And that was that was what bothered Huston about Leary is that he was putting such a premium on states that he put no attention at all on traits of behavior.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, one question I would ask that segues into maybe more discussion, what the point you just raised is, whatever a person is doing, whether it’s what Leary was doing, or what people are now doing with Ayahuasca, or whether they’re engaged in some meditation thing that they’ve been doing for many years? Or whatever they’re doing? How’s that working out? For you? I mean, you know, how’s your life? How happy are you? Right? You know, and how, how are your relationships, your friendships? And you know, what do you, you know, how, what’s the quality of your life? What the proof of the pudding is in the? Well, you should know them by their fruits, I guess the proof of the pudding is the eating, you can kind of spiritual practice of any nature, chemical or meditational, or whatever, should, should and will have an influence on you. So how is that influence showing up? And Exactly, yeah. And might it be time to, you know, try something else if things aren’t going so? Well, from what you’ve been doing for?
Dana Sawyer: Eggs? Yeah. Like, how do you get along with your mother? Yeah, no, I mean, you see it, you see it, in some people’s even description of their experience, like, I love to go to this retreat center, because when I’m there, everybody’s so spiritual. And we’re talking about spiritual things. And the vibe is so wonderful and welcoming and blissful. And then they report that when I leave the campus of whatever retreat center after a week, you know, they have a kind of Noetic, tan, they have kind of an afterglow of that, that lasts a few days. But then very quickly, they feel like they want to run back inside the retreat center. And, and you know, from a Buddhist perspective, and Buddhists who are listening to this know exactly what I’m talking about. The Buddhist message is, we have the most to learn from our enemies, that and when and there are no true enemies in Buddhism. But the idea is those that, you know, piss us off, or those that push on us in a way that compromises our ability to be centered. Those are the ones we have the most to learn from. Those are the ones that can teach us patience. Those are the ones who can, can show us where we still have work to do on the emotional level and in getting over our own ego, perhaps, and things like that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think the Dalai Lama once referred to the Chinese as my friends the enemy, or something like that. Yeah.
Dana Sawyer: I mean, that he has no hatred toward them. You know, Huston Smith once said, that’s one of the greatest miracles he’s ever witnessed.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So I know it’s, it’s close to your heart. And I believe it was to Huston’s and I shouldn’t put him in the past tense because he’s still alive, although barely. So I mean, he’s fairly sure. Yeah, he’s just hanging in there these days. And we’re speaking now in March of 2016. But he’s more or less on his deathbed. And it’s, it’s an honor to be having this conversation with about him while he’s is still alive. But what was I about to say, Oh, the whole thing about states versus traits and how, you know, you shall know them by their fruits and the things you were starting to say about being generous and compassionate and helping in some way. And so on and so forth. We which has often been, you know, characteristic of spiritual people. Um, there’s a guy named Radhanath Swami, whom you may know who I interviewed, years ago who’s a leader in the Hari Krishna movement, he feeds like 250,000 children a good meal every day and has eye clinics and things like that in the Mumbai area, I think it is. And all sorts of different spiritual leaders have embarked upon social missions. And I think probably, if you talk to them, they would regard that both as an expression of their spirituality and perhaps also as a means was kind of a natural outpouring of compassion that that results from having a full heart, which is one of the characteristics of spiritual awakening, it’s not just plain vanila consciousness waking up, but but faculties such as the heart compassion wake up. And also that actually engaging in activities like that can be a spiritual practice in and of themselves, they can kind of attenuate the ego and get one’s attention off of oneself and onto the other. And that that can. Well, Adam bucho, whom I interviewed at the Science non duality conference, I, I tried to ask him this question Can this can what you’re doing be seen as conducive to your own evolution, and he didn’t even care. It was like he was so into it, and wanting to help the suffering people that he wasn’t even thinking of himself anymore.
Dana Sawyer: I think that shows how conducive that is to his spiritual evolution. Yeah, exactly. I know that, like you said, the ego, isn’t there. What a wonderful person is doing such work? Extraordinary. I mean, you know, there are lots of good examples of that in history. Right? St. Francis is a good example of that sort of phenomenon. But yeah, I don’t know if it always happens. I think that people who’ve done more of the cleaning up growing up work, are more likely to move in that particular direction. I mean, you know, I’m thinking of Rama, Krishna and Swami Vivekananda, they actually expressed some, you know, mild anger towards the various gurus and perm Peres, lineages of saints in India that there was that they were so rarely did anything that was social activism. And if you look at, you know, the Rama Krishna movement, that’s one of the things they pride themselves on is how much social outreach they do. And I think a lot of the, the tendencies among Hari Krishna is and others in India today to start their own outreach movements. Social Welfare movements was inspired by by the work of the Rama Krishna order. Yeah, you know, it’s become kind of a modern trend, so to speak, to recognize a need a need to walk our talk, so to speak.
Rick Archer: Somebody posted a comment on YouTube just the other day, on one of my interviews, I think it might have been emojis, but I’m not sure about. Or maybe it was something else. I know what it was. It wasn’t religious. But anyway, the comment was something along the lines of, you know, the world is losery. So who’s doing what for whom, if you engage in social action, you’re just sort of, I don’t know, polishing up an illusory thing. And you know, we should just be focused on truth unreality on pure knowledge. And I’m sure Huston would have disagreed with that. I’ve heard other contemporary spiritual teachers say things like that. So So what do you think Huston would say to that kind of a comment?
Dana Sawyer: It’s, it’s profoundly wrong. That that yeah, you know, from a God’s eye view of reality, everything is always All right. Capital, a capital our that from a God’s eye view. Even on the deepest levels of our own being, there’s nothing we can do wrong. But down here in the world where people bleed and where people starve to death and where global warming is taking place. On this level, we should most definitely get involved in. I mean, can you imagine? I’m suspecting that the Jews who survived Auschwitz wouldn’t like this idea that that the camp shouldn’t have been liberated because what difference does it make on the God’s eye level of things that you know, ignorance and suffering should be attacked from all sides? And, and one of those sides is down here where we live?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, there was a saying that you, you and I both heard marshy, say many times, which is knowledge is different in different states of consciousness. And in a similar way, kind of reality is different in different states of consciousness. And he was a big one on dealing with each level appropriately not confusing levels. You know, if you have a an infected toe, go to the doctor or something, don’t just say it’s an illusory toe.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, even human I, like, you know, if we say, and we agree, and I think you and I do completely agree on this inside of our shared viewpoint, that the deepest level of your being in the deepest level of my being is the same level of being that, you know, it’s the absolute looking out through two different sets of eye of eyes. And so, okay, in our essential and deepest nature, this God’s eye view of things were the same. Okay, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to come over to your house and drive your car because I am you and I am the car and I am, you know, that. Okay, there’s also a recognition that on the level of the ocean, were one, but on the level of the waves were too. And,
Rick Archer: yeah, it seems obvious. But, you know, the way some people talk, it doesn’t seem obvious to them anyway. But you know, and given what you just said, you know, I don’t I mean, to take absurd examples. I don’t drive my car into a bridge, because the bridge and my car one I don’t, you know, right. You know, there’s so many absurd examples you could bring up but, but, again, if people are suffering, yeah, find their, their eternal unmanifest. Cosmic being is not suffering that’s beyond suffering. But on the relative level, you know, they’re suffering and something, it behooves us to try to help them.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah. Yeah. And toothache hurts. And if you’re a dentist, pull that tooth out.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. And speaking of global warming, I mean.
Dana Sawyer: Sorry. Laughter. It’s funny to think to global warming.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I don’t know. He had you did speaking of it earlier. But um, yeah, I have an ongoing argument with a friend who doesn’t believe it’s true, and thinks that some kind of government conspiracy to raise money through carbon taxes or something that. But in any case, it could be the most dire problem facing humanity. And, you know, if we think the Syrian refugee and migration price crisis is a problem, imagine if we have to evacuate all the world’s coastal cities in Bangladesh, and places like that all at once, what kind of social chaos is going to be and how many people are going to die, and so on and so forth. And that won’t be speech that will impact us all financially, and in many other ways. It won’t just be something we can easily brush off is illusion. And the reason I’m bringing that up, and the reason is just that I I’ve always felt and feel strongly that there’s a very deep and direct, practical implication to spiritual development individually and collectively, that it is the ultimate antidote to any and all problems. Not that the problems don’t have to be dealt with on their own level. But that it’s without that deeper awakening. There’s kind of a foundation missing for really changing the consciousness, the consciousness that gives rise to the problems in the first place, you know, reminiscent of that quote that Einstein is famous for. So, anyway, would would Huston have agreed with that?
Dana Sawyer: Definitely. Definitely. Definitely. I mean, that was his whole career was recapturing that, you know, recapturing that, that voice of the Ancients, that told us that we need to embrace the transcendent aspect, the metaphysical aspect of what we are, but you know, relative to your global warming, comment, you’re not going to be able to grow spiritually if you don’t exist. True.
Rick Archer: Are you starving to death or have some terrible disease because all the diseases are going wild? And yeah, that’s in a warming planet.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs that, you know, one time George Harrison was asked, Do you still believe All You Need Is Love? And he said, Yeah, I’m sticking to it. All you need is love and a sandwich. Yeah, that you know, like you say, if if you have no food in your stomach, and you can’t even get up because you’re dehydrated, how are you going to put any attention on your spiritual growth as as these problems of global warming continue and again, exacerbate, then, you know, it’s on us to if we’re going to create the kingdom of heaven on earth, and we’ve got to help people at least exist. Yeah. You know,
Rick Archer: well, I agree that we need bodies to evolve and we need planets for bodies to live on. Exactly. I saw Buckminster Fuller speak at the Amherst sei symposium in summer 71. I don’t know if you were there, but he was famous for. Were you there?
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, I was there. Great. And so you there,
Rick Archer: I’m sure you did. And he had that he had that book operating manual for Spaceship Earth. You know, seeing the world as a as a spaceship with very limited resources, and, you know, very sort of a delicate eco structure that we depend for our very existence on the, you know, on Enter.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah. But you know, improving on that, I think, if we look at it as a series of resources that helps us survive, it’s still putting too much attention on us, I think we’re really only going to get to the healthiest place when we start seeing the planet as home and saying, hey, you know, these other beings exist, exist on their own, they don’t exist just for what we can do with them. They’re not just a resource for humanity, they have their own value, you know, these there was, there was an old book on environmental ethics called do trees have standing? And it was basically saying, should there be environmental laws and environmental rights of other beings, you know, before all this was really as current as it is today. So I think, you know, ideologically, when we can see ourselves as, as part of the life of the planet, and that the planet is has its own value and its own dignity that we should respect, then we’re more likely to get where we need to go.
Rick Archer: Well, if we really are the self in all beings, if that which we essentially are, you’re talking a minute ago, about the two of us really being one, looking out through two different sets of eyes, then the you know, the Amazon rainforest is our lungs in a very personal sense, you know, and all these various species, hundreds of them going extinct every day, our appendages of our own body that we that we are, you know, lopping off
Dana Sawyer: yeah, yeah, I have a, I have a student at the college right now who’s in whose back only very recently from Afghanistan, and he has a service dog. And he gets very nervous, and he gets very upset at this veteran. And when he gets really off center, he’ll take the dog, his service dog, and he tells me that it makes eye contact with the service dog, and the piece that the service dog is experiencing, he can plug into that and use it as its touchstone in a resource. In a course I was thinking, well, it’s not just the dog is calm, but it’s the you know, eyes, the mirrors and soul kind of idea that even he’s keep find something that is deeper self, inside the dog’s spirit.
Rick Archer: Okay, nice. Okay, so you and I love talking to each other. And we could probably sit here all day with occasional bathroom and food breaks and keep talking. But I’m not sure. And actually, it’s kind of impressive. I’ve been watching the view count, and it’s it’s actually been creeping up throughout this conversation, it was started in the 40s, then it hung in the 50s. For a while now it’s up to 71. So I guess we’re not boring people hook
Dana Sawyer: up new people.
Rick Archer: So we must be doing something right here. But um, we’ve been going for about two hours. So we should probably get around to wrapping it up. But there are probably dozens of things that we could have talked about, you know, that we haven’t because we’ve just been rambling all over the place with all kinds of things that interest us. So getting back to Huston one more time. What is what is important about Huston that you and I haven’t discussed during this interview that you want to be sure to bring out before we wrap it up?
Dana Sawyer: One, a couple of points, I would say one is, and this relates to something you said earlier, Rick about how people in a particular religion can confuse a means for an end and they can become so focused and dogmatic about their own tradition, that they’re starting at the place. academics in the study of religion, I’ll often call them the exclusive lists, because they’re saying My religion is right and all the rest of you are stupid and deluded. You know, I’m I’m a hardshell, Christian and all these Muslims coming into my country. Hindus coming into my country are compromising America, confusing their religion with Jeffersonian democracy. And so they’re exclusivist. And then there are also people Huston points out that are inclusive lists. And inclusive lists can mean well, but do wrong. And what he meant by that is some, some people believe all the religions are really saying the same thing. That that all the different religions are really giving one message. And they try to conflate those religions or homogenize them into or distill them into one particular viewpoint, whatever it is some form of universalism. And, and Huston felt that’s wrong, like, first of all, it’s insulting to some members of religion, because, for instance, Buddhists don’t believe there’s a Creator God. They don’t believe in a Creator God, they don’t posit creation in the way that we do in the West, they see it differently. So since they didn’t posit a creation, they don’t posit a create, or we just leave that for now. The point is that, would Jews believe with that? Would Christians agree with that, that there is no creator, that isn’t the same thing we can give so many examples of how the religions differ. So Huston Smith, in a sense, is important because he gave a third choice. So there are exclusive lists, and there are inclusive lists. But Huston was giving this third choice of saying, If we split the religions into an exoteric app aspect and an esoteric aspect, then we realize that exoteric Lee, the religions differ from each other quite dramatically, in relative to their own populations, their own economic and environmental settings, their own languages, they’re those exoteric forms have tremendous value and function in those societies. But also recognizing that there’s this extra esoteric level, where we should recognize that their mistakes very often reveal a pattern of similarity. And so that that’s one thing, I think, if people read the biography of Huston Smith, and they explored those ideas with them, they would really enjoy.
Rick Archer: Here’s a, here’s a paragraph I extracted on that very point. He said, For the esoterics, the physical characteristics of religion have only provisional importance. But for the exoteric, they are the absolute truth. And justifiably so. Because those people need secure structures to cling to esoteric, shouldn’t confuse esoteric by emphasizing the underlying unity, the external structures should maintain their differences.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, you know, like, if you’re using a trail map, to climb a trail up a mountain, but you’ve actually got the wrong map for that trail. You know, that’s when you can become confused that the idea is that every trail is an established pathway, up the mountain. Now, is everybody climbing the mountain? No, do they need to be? Well, you know, I wish they would, I wish there would be that experience, but at the same time, and as I said, there’s a value in the religions even on the on the exoteric level. So there’s one piece of Huston’s message is that third choice in religion. And then another thing that always that struck me about it when I first read his book, The first time I met Huston Smith, by the way, was probably in about 77. At the University of Hawaii, I was a grad student there. And meeting Huston Smith, for me was like meeting. I don’t know, like some 15 year old girl meeting Huston Bieber these days, something like that. You know, I met some movie stars. I’m not that impressed with that. In many cases. I don’t know what movies they were in sort of say. But meeting Huston Smith, Oh, wow. I mean, because he was such a luminary and such a hero of mine. And then I don’t even know what I said to him. When we met later and became friends. He said, Oh, it’s so nice to meet you. And I told him this embarrassing story where I had a question for and then when I got up to ask it, my mind was a complete blank. I don’t know what I said, you know, something like hey, do you like this shirt? You could change it if you don’t like it. I mean, what is the 15 year old girl said it just. But anyway, anyway, anyway, what he had written a book called condemned to meaning, one of his very early books. And that book was very powerful for me, because in some sense, it explains the entire human condition of people can understand the importance of that one book. You know, we could all hold hands and sing We Are the World or whatever. Because in that book, he begins with a quote from the French philosopher Maurice Merleau Ponty who once said, because we are present to a world We are condemned to meaning. And what Merleau Ponty meant by that was, at some point very early on in childhood or the beginning of our journey, we realize that there’s me. And then there’s you. There’s me. And then there’s a world of external objects and people and events. And then what is implicit in that dynamic? Is the idea. What is my excuse me? What is my relationship to that other? What is my the relation ship of myself to this world of objects, people in events. And so now, there’s the condemned to meaning part is that because we will be forced to interact with the world, then we’re condemned to wonder about our relationship to it. As we wonder, and now I’m saying all humans everywhere, always, then certain fundamental questions float up in our mind. Who am I? What is this other? What is my relationship to it? Why am I here? Is there a purpose to my existence? As we start answering those questions, those, you know, life’s big questions? What is my relationship to the other species? What is my relationship to the planet? What is my relationship done to other genders? How many genders are there? When we ask those questions, then if we answer those questions, and every human culture has, then they suggest a secondary set of questions. Okay, if I say I’m here, because the supreme being created me, okay, what is my relationship to the Supreme Being? What is the nature of that supreme being those secondary and tertiary questions get answered? And all of those answers constellate into a religion, or an ideology, or philosophy. And as we answer those questions, they can be very useful for a particular human society to find meaning in life, and form a grounds have a shared ethic and society. But the problem can be
Dana Sawyer: that they also intermediate between us in the world of existence. And they can, you know, it’s like, if a filter of a sword, exactly. So it’s like, if you I was gonna say, if you’re wearing blue sunglasses, everywhere you look, you see blue, so you might accidentally think you live in a blue world. And you don’t realize that, you know, just cutting to the chase if the world is by default, and this is an analogy, yellow, and we see it through Blue sunglasses, it looks green. But if we’re from Mongolia, and we’re raised with a lens of values that are red sunglasses, if you’re following the analogy, then when we look at the yellow world, the world looks orange. And people whether we’re talking about in a marriage, or we’re talking about people in a society relative to another entirely different society, they don’t understand the way they see the world is God got an agenda, and that they’re wearing glasses in that sense. So that, that you can have two people, one from India and one from the United States. And one guy is saying, Oh, I’m, you know, I love the green world, you know, not realizing they’re seeing it through the blue glasses. And the person from India saying, Oh, the world is not green, it’s orange. And then the person with the blue glasses says, Hey, I’m looking red at it. And the Indians as I’m looking at it to there it is world. And, and, you know, I’m going through this quickly, but in condemned to meaning Huston is making a very good point, which is cultural relativity, that if you if you aren’t able to, at some point, realize you even in a friendship that, okay, I’ve got to listen, I’ve got to stop talking. And I’ve got to listen to what this person is saying. Because they’re trying to report the reality of how this looks from their own perspective, then then there’s going to be conflict, there’s going to be conflict. Yeah. And and we’re seeing it all over the world today.
Rick Archer: Do you think that there is some alt MIT reality, that is what it is, regardless of our perspective on it that obviously just like things like gravity work just fine, whether or not we understand them, you know, photosynthesis, nuclear fusion, all those things have been happening for billions of years, without our having any understanding of it. And, you know, even when we had really weird scientific understandings of those things, which are, which were totally wrong, it didn’t alter the way they actually function. Because they’re not dependent upon our understanding. So in a larger spiritual sense, do you think that there is a sort of a ultimate universal reality? well made, we’re getting right back to the perennial philosophy here, which exists independent of anyone understanding it or to, to whatever degree of clarity understanding it, or do you think that reality itself is sort of relative? And that it varies, according to the perceiver in question?
Dana Sawyer: Well, I think the deeper part of, of what we’re talking about right now, the more significant part of what we’re talking about right now, is that, yes, there’s the sun, and there’s the moon, and there is gravity. And there are these things that all people in all culture can’t deny. Because there they are, you know, whether you understand the laws of gravity or not, you still weigh whatever you weigh weigh about 200 pounds. And then there’s consequences of lugging that much weight around and blah, blah, blah. Especially as you get
Rick Archer: rolling off buildings that you shouldn’t fall in the first place.
Dana Sawyer: But I don’t know why I’m laughing about that, actually. But the point is that
Rick Archer: Dana versus leg falling off a building because he was in declining thing anyway. He pays
Dana Sawyer: well, yeah, there’s a quality a level to existence, besides the, the things that confront us as facticity is that we, and this is what I’m talking about with the glasses, is that human beings still have to interpret the significance of those things they’re confronted with. And I don’t think non dual experience is an exception to that. I think that the non dual experience when we when we bucket it back into the body, when we bring it back into the world of human interaction, then we still have to interpret what the experience is. You see what I’m saying? We have to make sense of the experience. First, what was it that happened to me? Some people are terrified of the experience who’ve had it been a lot of reports of that. I think
Rick Archer: that’s because, by definition, if the non dual experience is full blown, it pretty much necessitates the dissolution of the ego, of a personal sense of individuality, at least temporarily. And that can be terrifying. If it could, because one feels that everything I thought I was is disappearing here.
Dana Sawyer: Just gone. Yeah. And so you know, a new interpretation rises up, is that oh, okay. Maybe this is good that my ego was being, you know, set aside and softened up and whatnot. And then so, so that the experience has to be interpreted, and then it has to be applied. So you know, if we say, well, no, it’s an absolute experience. It’s an unchanging experience. Well, you know, there are relative absolutes in the sun, a sense that the sun is there to every day, day after day, it’ll be there when the planet’s gone. And we have to make sense of those experiences in our relative lives. I mean, really, what I’m talking about is in philosophy, there’s a category of problems that are called quality of problems. And they deal with issues of quality. So science deals with quantity. And science can say, Dana, you weigh exactly 204 pounds. I know that because I had to go to the doctor yesterday. Nothing serious manual checkup. So you weigh exactly 240 pounds, okay, for I’m six foot two. So for my height, that’s not a lot. Okay, no reason to lose weight because it isn’t necessarily bad for your health. Well, okay, science can say if Dana, if you weigh the right amount, you’re going to live a long life more, you’re going to live longer than if you’re a big fat guy who smokes cigarettes. But what science can’t say is the big fat guys smoking cigarettes can say you know what, I’d rather enjoy my life now. In the way I want to then live a long life. Okay, science can’t tell me I shouldn’t make that qualitative decision. Do you see what I’m saying? I
Rick Archer: do but my risk Part of that was that, you know, science would say that the obese guy would say that, but then spirituality in most of its expressions might say, Yeah, but are you really enjoying it and is being unhealthy? Really? Are you doing justice? Are you honoring the gift of this precious instrument through which you can, you can live the divine? Of course, there were big, fat guys who smoked cigarettes who live the divine, like Nisargadatta. Yeah. So there’s exceptions to every generality.
Dana Sawyer: But my point is, that’s a qualitative judgment. Yeah, a lot of judgment on life. And so we’re always going to be in a situation where we have to, to interpret those experiences, whatever all experience, whatever the experience is, that no experience comes with its own interpretation. At least none I’ve ever had. That you we put the value on these things, in this world of our dialectical relationship of subjects and objects, we will always have to, I mean, this is why quite frankly, if we look at people like Rumi, we look at Meister Eckhart. Yes, they’re talking about this very similar experience. And yet, if we look into the ethics of their behavior, we don’t find a perfect parody. We don’t find them behaving the same way. I mean, I think, you know, let’s go back to Andrew Harvey and Mother Mira, that they had very different views on being gay and homosexual, about the ethics of whether it was legitimate, you know, correct behavior, correct moral behavior. I think that’s always going to go on. If it didn’t always go on, I think that we would find, you know, maybe less disagreement between Buddhists and Hindus, for example. You know, what I’m saying, yeah, that, that you still have these arguments about when we experience non dual, this non dual reality? Is it the essence of the self? Or is it the not self? Is it Atman? Or is it on Atman? Like, okay, now we’re down in this world of interpretation and, and most efficacious interpretations. And I don’t know if we’ll ever fully be rid of that. I think that my argument really was Huston Smith’s argument. And that is, we don’t need to be rid of it. I mean, I love the mystery of having to live with different interpretations. But open mindedness is what we need. The ability to be more tolerant of different perspectives, even being willing to, to celebrate that, hey, man, it could be kind of cool to look through red sunglasses. I’m kind of tired of looking through the dude’s glasses all the time. Yeah. You know what I’m saying?
Rick Archer: Totally. And, you know, my, my response would be that pardon to say,
Dana Sawyer: wouldn’t the world be boring? If there was only one way to interpret non dual experience as well as our everyday experience? It would be
Rick Archer: and I think it would be unnatural if by natural, we mean, what we see God doing, which is, you know, just an infinite proliferation of diversity and variety. You know, I mean, how interesting would the Amazon rainforest be if there were only one kind of plant one kind of bird? There’s just a tremendous variety. And I think kind of one way of looking at it is that we can agree and probably we do agree that there is a sort of a universal, fundamental, ultimate reality, but that we’re all as instruments of that, as reflectors of that as tools of the Divine, if you will, we’re each unique. And therefore our, our, probably our, our perception of that, and, at the very least, our expression of that our understanding our behavior, everything else is all going to differ slightly from one to the next. And if we can keep that in mind, then we don’t mind the differences because we just realized, well, I’m just one sense organ of the infinite. The nose has its function, but the ears have a different function. So I’m a nose this guy’s in ears. And you know, and I guess that’s quite literal in my case. And yeah, I guess I made the point that if you really, if you’re spiritual people are always about you know, Getting on to the universal value of life. Well, if you’ve really done that, then it begins to percolate into your, into your understanding and behavior. And you become more tolerant and all embracing of other relative expressions, you don’t feel like, you know, mine is the only valid perspective or the superior perspective or anything else, you know, we’re all just sense organs of the infinite.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, well said, well said, I think that, you know, you interviewed Ken Rinpoche lob, same setting on your program, four or five years ago. And he’s going to be here in Portland in a couple of weeks. And he always points out, if you want to walk comfortably in the world. And he and he uses as an analogy, if I want to walk comfortably on the planet, I can go two ways, I could cover the entire planet Earth with rubber, and walk on the earth barefoot now would be comfortable wherever I went. Or I could just put a little bit of rubber on the bottom of each one of my feet. And then everywhere I go, rocky or not, I can comfortably walk. And so, you know, Tibetan Buddhists believe wisdom always manifests as compassion. If you are doing you’re getting your own house in order in such a way that you’re exhibiting behavior where you walk more gently on the earth, then you’re getting somewhere that you can actually use that as, and I believe that quite frankly, Rick, you can use that as a legitimate yardstick. Is your behavior becoming more patient? Is your behavior becoming more open minded? Is your behavior becoming more tolerant? Okay, you’re getting somewhere, you know, even if you feel like okay, I don’t, I’m not having this other yardstick of non dual breakthrough and regular non dual experience. Don’t sell yourself short, you know, that if you’re, if you are becoming more patient, that’s something we the world really needs.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it does. Which brings up a whole other topic of discussion that we could go on about we sort of touched on it and and that is that what are what are ultimately the criteria of awakening or enlightenment? Are they externally observable? Or is there just some ultimate subjective criteria that only those who have that experience can verify for themselves? Whether they’re sitting in a cave or busy in the marketplace? You know,
Dana Sawyer: I don’t like that one. You know why that one plays into much too? The, I’ve spent too much time in India, in too many, OSH ROMs. And mots, which is what you know, they call monasteries to feel comfortable with that one like, or, you know, if you are his greatest me, you will understand how great I like,
Rick Archer: alright, well, that’s it, but that’s sort of a distortion of it, because a person who is generally enlightened probably wouldn’t say that. And yet, that wouldn’t. They might not say anything, which actually would probably be a point in their favorite.
Dana Sawyer: But maybe, maybe I’m misinterpreting because, you know, one of the things that that, as someone who you know, has spent their whole life looking at this scene as it’s grown up, because, you know, academically I’m very interested in Westerners who’ve become interested in Asian religions, like, why did they do that? What’s the attraction to all that and looking at the situation over time, then it’s interesting to me certain dynamics, like, you’re going to be more successful as a non dual teacher, if you’re a good looking, you’re going to be more successful. If you’re an extrovert, you’re going to be more successful. If you wear a shawl. You’re going to be more successful if you don’t smoke cigarettes. And sorry, go to that it was wrong about that. Shouldn’t have done that. Did you see what I’m saying that there’s certain profiles that we have conjured a sage on the stage kind of profile. And I think that I think that people myself included, if we go to hear a spiritual teachers speak, there could be some old you know, black guy or some old cleaning lady who’s standing there who happens to be introverted. They happen to be not attractive physically, who actually is having the richer, deeper experience, and we have blind spots around that. You we’ve kind of created a culture around what the great one looks like that Well, you know, I mean, you’re using to measure to measure greatness have more to do with physical beauty and what we look like in, you know, a yoga Li. Well, obviously they shouldn’t
Rick Archer: I mean, and there’s that you remember the verses in the Gita where Arjuna says, What are the signs of the stage of steady intellect? How does he sit? How does he walk? You know, how does he speak? He’s asking for external criteria, and Lord Krishna goes, answers them with subjective criteria that wouldn’t be externally observable, you know, and so I don’t, you know, I don’t think either URI or perhaps most of the listeners think that there’s any kind of correlation between physical attractiveness and Shaw wearing and extraversion. And, well, you know, although, you know, yeah, obviously, the ones who make that kind of impression become more popular usually. But maybe they have to, in order to have a teaching role, if they were. Well, I hate to attach physical attractiveness to it. But there has to be a certain amount of extraversion anyway, for a person to want to get up on a stage and talk.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah. Well, you know, I mean, you know, this is a bigger subject, and we don’t need to talk about it. It’s fine with me. But, you know, people will often say, I went to see a concert last night, you and I, both music lovers. And they’ll say I went to see a concert, and it was so amazing. And it was so beautiful and so wonderful. And so I think people recognize they’re getting spiritual teachings, through going to a music performance or hearing a symphony, or, you know, St. Chinmoy, do you remember Sri Theron more like he’s all of his teachings, were him playing music and him reading poetry and lifting
Rick Archer: airplanes, or whatever he used to do he used to do these feats of strength.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, I guess what I’m arguing for is that, that that non dual experience can be expressed in a wide range of ways. And there’s no reason to say I’m going to see a spiritual teacher tonight. I’m going to guess what I’m saying is if we expand the concept of spiritual teacher more broadly, then we can. We don’t know. I don’t know, go see Noam Chomsky and feel like we’re getting, quote unquote, spiritual information. Why not? Or or rock concert? Or?
Rick Archer: Yeah, sure. But, um, but they’re we’re kind of like, I think we’re going a little bit far afield. I mean, what the question was, I’m trying to find candidates, what are the criteria? Yeah. Are there? Are there any sort of, can it be made scientific? Are there any sort of repeatable publicly investigated herbal criteria for spiritual awakening, so that it’s not just left to some person’s subjective account of what they’re experiencing? But others, you know, if they hear that account and get interested, can go follow steps A, B, and C, and arrive at the same experience? And is there any verifiability? I’m asking, I guess, yeah, yeah.
Dana Sawyer: Well, I you know, this neurophysiology stuff is very interesting. That, you know, some people will say, alright, if I can map the bank, brain state, and I can describe, well, you say you’re having this non dual experience. This is the brain state that goes with that, now that I’ve mapped it, that reduces the authenticity of the experience, if you understand what I’m saying, yeah, that some people interpret it that way. Like, oh, you’re just talking about your brain was in a different configuration. And that gave you the illusion of this non dual experience, that if you
Rick Archer: if you reduce it down to thinking that states of consciousness are just epiphenomenon of brain functioning, rather than actually being correlates of it, you know, what I mean? That, that, I mean, if you accept it, there’s, like variances near death experiences. Some people say, Well, I really had this experience. And I saw my father and I looked down from the ceiling and saw the surgeons and the guy was wearing a blue hat or whatever. They can identify things. I saw a pair of sneakers on the balcony outside my hospital window. And others would say, oh, you know, they tried to dismiss it because it conflicts with their paradigm by saying things like, well, you just hold this thing because your brain was shutting down and getting deprived of oxygen. So when you bring up neurophysiology, it opens up the whole topic of, you know, can there be neuro physiological correlates to higher states of mind justness, which doesn’t mean that they are only neurophysiological, you know, phenomena but that the brain behaves a certain way when one is experiencing them. Exactly. Yeah.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, not not only do I see what you mean, but that was actually my point, which is that that there’s a neuro physiological correlate to an experience as you’re describing, it doesn’t mean that neuro physiological correlate is creating the experience. Like for example, if I eat a slice of apple pie, which I’d like to do, because it’s lunchtime, and I’m hungry,
Rick Archer: I’m gonna sit here and starve you to death, I’m sorry.
Dana Sawyer: Well, I always enjoy talking with you. If I eat an apple pie, then there will be a neuro physiological correlate of yummy. But that doesn’t mean the pie doesn’t exist. It didn’t eliminate the pie, because there’s a neuro physiological correlate, right,
Rick Archer: your brain didn’t create the pie or anything. Exactly. Your brain just interpreted the experience of the pie in a certain way.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right, right. And if the if there is this non dual neurophysiological if there is this neurophysiological correlate of non dual experience that can be described in a very profound way, then I think that is evidence of, of you know, this is your brain and this is your brain on God. Yeah. Yeah, that there, that there can be some strong evidence that the thing that will always be true in my estimation, is if by definition, we say that, that that reality in its purest form, is metaphysical beyond the physical, then they will. Haven’t you just exempted, the absolute from quantification? If you say that, that what’s most fundamental to reality isn’t a thing. There’s nothing to put under the microscope, there’s nothing to see through the telescope, you can see evidence of its existence, as the neurophysiological correlate of non dual experience would be, you see what I’m saying? Yeah,
Rick Archer: well, physicists say that what’s fundamental to reality isn’t isn’t the thing they say that, but they can see evidence of it in the, you know, with the Large Hadron Collider, or whatever the Higgs boson, and different things, they’re seeing sort of manifest evidence of the unmanifest nature of reality. And that’s what we can see, I think in the brain, and it would stand to reason that there are neurophysiological correlates to, to transcend transcendent experience, as there are two any experience, you know, to waking, dreaming and sleeping, each of those has a unique, you know, neuro physiological signature. And, and, if so, if transcendental experiences as profound and radically different as it’s cracked up to be, then the brain if you hooked Ramana, Maharshi, up to you know, modern instrumentation, he you should see a brain that’s functioning quite differently than that of the average person. If you don’t, if you know what to look for.
Dana Sawyer: Exactly. And I think you know, the empirical part that you can do you know, if you say, Well, okay, science will never to be able to grasp to get a hold or a grasp of that, which transcends time and space. But if the mystics of all these esoteric traditions are right, and I believe they are based on my experience, that you you can, you are the instrument, you are the microscope, you are the telescope, exactly, I can grok that they can they can experience that reality, in a way that is, you know, people say, Well, that was just your subjective experience. But if, you know, somebody says to me, you know, if I say, Oh, I love my daughters, and they say, oh, that’s just your subjective
Rick Archer: serotonin or something. Right, right.
Dana Sawyer: Okay, get out of the room, you know, that we can have this profound experience that where the instrument would and you know, it becomes empirical because, and I love I love this idea. I think it’s very attractive to the American mind, quite frankly, we play such a sovereignty on my own choice, that the the teacher says, look, okay, you don’t believe that this experience is there are that this experience is possible. Why don’t you do this practice for a while? And then tell me what and then you know, let’s have another conversation. Yeah, I
Rick Archer: love this. This whole line of thinking is right up my alley. I mean, and there are there are all kinds of things that physicists tell us. I’m just taking physics as an example, that I’ll never personally verify because I don’t have the time or the or the ability to get a PhD and postgraduate work in physics and then you Don’t get to work at the Large Hadron Collider or something. And yet, you know, these guys who do that the specialist, so to speak, report back to us that yes, this that and the other thing are, are happening. And so, you know, in terms of the spiritual realm, we all have an instrument in our possession that is more sophisticated than the Large Hadron Collider, actually even a single cell of it is, and that has the capability of, you know, experiencing the transcendent. And so as you just said, you can tell anyone, you can take the world staunchest atheist, and say, Alright, fine, hang on to your atheism, but do XY and Z for X number of years. And it will probably be fewer years than it takes to you know, qualify to run the Large Hadron Collider. And you may very well agree with my perspective, which is that there’s this transcendent reality.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, no, I think you’re I think you’re absolutely right. You know, there’s a kind of staunch recalcitrance about. Well, I don’t want to do that. I, you know, I mean, I’m thinking of certain colleagues of mine that I won’t mention that we’ll have conversations about this at conferences. And they’ll, I’ll say, Well, you know, we’re talking entirely on the level of ideas. And let’s not, let’s not have that concept addiction, let’s say, okay, you know, if I took you to Paris, would you believe Paris? Was there? Oh, yeah. I couldn’t deny it, because there would be okay. Well, you know, why don’t you try one of these practices, tried and true pathways up the mountain for a while. And then let your own experience, you know, getting in an argument with your own experience? Yeah. I’m not asking you to accept it on the basis of faith.
Rick Archer: That’s why I wonder about Sam Harris, in a way, because it seems to me that if his practice is really effective, and if he keeps at it, although I guess Buddhists never get to the point where they think God exists, but seems to seems to me that ultimately, one would. If the practice is capable of it, one would arrive at the sort of recognition that there is this divine intelligence that permeates everything, and that oh, that’s what God is. That’s what they’re talking about, you know, you’d eventually kind of wake up to that.
Dana Sawyer: Mahayana Buddhists see it that way? You always talk about non dual experience, you know, that there’s this something that transcends samsara, you know, that that idea, I think, you know, do you know, the Roald Dahl story of the, I think it’s the incredible story of Henry sugar or something like that. It actually fits in here. Because it’s quite a wonderful story about Henry sugar is a gambler. And he learns about some mystic who can read minds. And so he thinks, wow, that would be useful for gambling, you know, I’d be such a good gambler, right? If I could do that. So he starts doing all these yogic practices and meditation to become this great gambler. But as time goes by, and he develops these abilities, he hadn’t anticipated that his heart would also awaken. And so by the time he really perfects these abilities, and he wants to go to Las Vegas and Kashia Naadam. He sees it as morally wrong to do that, you know? Yeah, it’s a cool story. Yeah. Great for children.
Rick Archer: Or adults. Yeah. Yeah. So we should probably wrap it up. But I just got a nice email from our friend Craig holiday. Remember Craig from Menemen? Sand. I think, Craig. Yeah, he’s been watching, I interviewed him. He said, I just want to share my love to both of you love the interview. It reflected depth, compassion, maturity and wisdom. So nice to see the fruits of a lifelong dedication to wisdom. I was really touched by your meeting, I think it was a good reminder for all tuned in of the continuing ongoing evolutionary nature of the path, the importance of understanding the difference between states and traits, and the role of the heart compassion and social responsibility to bright lights in our world with love, Craig. Thank you, Craig.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, talking about a big heart. Yeah. Craig has great guy. Yeah. Thanks for sending that in.
Rick Archer: Sure. All right. Well, unless we want to actually break some kind of a record here in terms of the length of a BatGap interview. We should probably kind of wrap it up. So let’s do that. You know, people can tell it, we really enjoy talking to each other and, but we’ll have to do that on our own time sometimes. So it’s not Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Totally bore people to death.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, I agree with that. Yeah. I always enjoy talking with you, Rick. Master.
Rick Archer: And thanks for those who have hung in there with us. Of course, if this got boring for you hung up and I don’t blame me but seems like some, quite a few people have hung in there. So I want to be able to share our thoughts with you for what they’re worth.
Dana Sawyer: Anything that, you know, this is a part of my own Buddhist practice, any part of this that was useful at all, for any of us, we should dedicate to the benefit of all sentient beings. It’s a practice in Buddhism to surrender ego, and to say, to remember that all beings are trying to grow spiritually, spiritually, and that whatever benefit has come out of this, we should surrender to them.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and I think we would both agree that as much as we enjoy having conversations like this, and dwelling on this kind of topic, ultimately, the value of it is that, you know, we may, in some way, be a conduit for, you know, greater good to infuse into the world. That’s kind of the way I see my activities that I, you know, not that I don’t enjoy them personally, there’s a sort of a personal motivation. But at the same time, the hope is that I’m making the best use of this gift of life to have some kind of beneficial influence on others on the world.
Dana Sawyer: That’s, that’s the way I see your activities to record. I mean, I think you’re doing a great service. You know, you’ve created a voice where nobody’s captured the flag. You know, you’re, you’re listening to lots of people from lots of perspectives and letting people make up their own mind. And what a wonderful practice. Kudos to you.
Rick Archer: Thanks. And thank you, kudos to all the people that I get to talk to her my teachers in a sense, you know? Okay, so let me make a few few wrap up points here. So, as you know, by this time, I’ve been talking with Dana Sawyer, and I’ve already read his bio, you know who Dana is what he does, we’ve been talking about Huston Smith, hopefully enough. But he’s been the inspiration for us to have this conversation. And there’s a lot more to learn about Huston. And I really enjoyed reading his book, and those who enjoyed this interview might also enjoy reading it. It’s called Huston Smith wisdom keeper. You can find that on Amazon. I’ll have a link to it on Dana’s BatGap page, as well as a link to Huston’s website and Dana’s website. And as I mentioned the beginning, then it will be he’s not a spiritual teacher, per se. He doesn’t like have, you know, little stop signs and stuff. But he is leading a trip to India in December 1 Two weeks of December, with a group of students from his college and others are welcome to go along. For a fee. Of course, a friend of mine who lives in Arizona who is a fan of the show is has signed up for it and there are a certain number of slots for others to do so. So if that interests you, how, how they get you, they can get in touch with you through your website, right then
Dana Sawyer: they can get Dejan me through my website is the first two weeks of January, not January, okay, January. And they can also get in touch with me through the main College of Art website.
Rick Archer: Okay, maybe I’ll put up a link to both places. Great on yesterday. Yeah, yeah. And just some general points about that gap. It’s, as you most of you know, it’s an ongoing series. There are plenty of previous ones hundreds. You can find them categorized under the past interviews menu, you can find upcoming ones announced on the upcoming interviews thing, which is under future interviews, there’s a suggested guests thing there. There you can there’s a place where you can subscribe to this as an audio podcast so you don’t have to sit for three hours watching a video. You can listen to it like commute or something. There’s the donate button, there’s a place to be notified by email each time a new interview is posted. And a bunch of other things there’s even like a thing where you can download the BatGap theme song as a ringtone for your phone so so poke around in the menus on BatGap COMM And you’ll find all these things. So thanks for listening or watching and thank you, Dana. And so thanks, everybody. We’ll see you next week.