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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest this week is an old friend named Dana Sawyer. I say old friend because we met in about 1971 or something right? When I was teaching transcendental meditation in Connecticut and I came to Dana’s College in Danbury Western Connecticut State College, I think it was called and instructed Dana, and we have been in touch on and off ever since. And then has moved on to do all sorts of interesting things. I’ll read his bio or part of it from his Wikipedia page here, and then maybe Dana can fill in some gaps of anything that I have left out or whatever. Dan is full time professor of religion and philosophy at the main College of Art, and is an adjunct professor of Asian religions at the Bangor Theological Seminary. He’s the author, author of numerous published papers and books, including Aldous Huxley a biography, which Laura Huxley was that his daughter or his wife, his wife, his second life, okay, which Laura Huxley described us. Out of all the biographies written about all this, this is the only one he would have actually liked. Then has been involved in fundraising activities for the Siddartha school project in stock Ladakh, North India for more than 10 years and is currently Vice President of the Board of Trustees. This project has resulted in the construction of an elementary and middle school for underprivileged Buddhist children that has been visited twice by the Dalai Lama, who holds it as a model for blending traditional and Western educational ideals. Much of his work for this project has involved translating lectures for and teaching with the schools founder again say Lobsang say time I’m sure who is currently the abbot of the punch in Lamas monastery in Mysore India. Sawyer is interested in the phenomenon of Neo Hindu and Buddhist groups in America led him to become a popular lecturer on topics of interest to these groups. He has taught at the Kripalu center in Lenox, Massachusetts, the very center for Buddhist studies in barre Massachusetts, but barrier bar, Berry Berry, the Vedanta Society of Southern California, the Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California and other such venues. This work has also brought him into contact with several interesting and important figures in this field, including Stanislav Grof. Andrew Harvey, Huston Smith, Laura Huxley, Steven cope, and Alex gray. Sir has been to India 11 times is it still 11 or more now? 12. Now? And I believe you speak fluent Hindi, don’t you?
Dana Sawyer: Yeah. Yummy. cello, cello Hello. Oh, good. That’s the most important word
Rick Archer: we want to know, most recently while on sabbatical, during the winter and spring of 2005, and has traveled extensively throughout the subcontinent in Nepal, Pakistan, Sikkim, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Japan. And then there’s more and it goes on. But I think that gives you a taste of what Dan has been up to. And if you want to read the last bit, if you think it’s important you do, oh, I don’t even know what it says. But it’s about your academic work and in various universities and things here and there. And then you’ve written a bunch of publications and books and won some awards, so on and so forth.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right.
Rick Archer: Good enough
Dana Sawyer: to just see what you started when you gave me that mantra
Rick Archer: would have been a ditch digger otherwise?
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, probably
Rick Archer: not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Dana Sawyer: No more noble work, maybe.
Rick Archer: So I think we’re going to cover a wide range of topics tonight, Dana and I and, you know, when we were talking a week or two ago, Dana said that, you know, he felt it would be sort of boring to just talk about his subjective experience, it would be just sort of telling a story that, you know, has been told a number of times on this show, although my response was that perhaps when we cover certain points, maybe something in your subjective development as it is, occurred over the years would help to, you know, illuminate those points or give credence to why you’re making a certain point. Sure. And I’ve been to start the interview, actually, I’ve been reading a book by Elaine Pagels lately entitled beyond belief, which is about early Christianity. And as as I was reading it, I started to formulate what I’d like to ask as the first question. And, and it’s going to be more of a statement than a question. And I’ll try to ask it as concisely as possible, and then let you run with it. Nothing that’s true, not claiming that you’re an expert on your early Christianity. But as I read the book, I’m struck by how much of human endeavor revolves around the effort to alter our subjective experience, and perhaps also squabbles about that subjective experience, if it can’t properly be verified, you know, and is left to a matter of belief or faith. And in fact, in in early Christianity, a great deal of this went on, you know, the, the early church was trying to establish itself. And meanwhile, it was, you know, their terrible persecutions taking place, torture and murder of early Christians. And then they began squabbling among themselves over various interpretations of what, you know, Christ actually taught and so on. And there was this guy named, what was it? Ronna aronia, sir. Or an errand as that was it. And there was this sort of tussle between kind of good Freudian slip there, there’s this tussle between those who sort of wanted to rely more on personal experience, and, you know, actually verifying for oneself what Christ and other religious scriptures were saying, and those and those represented by Aaron s, who, you know, tried to objectify the whole thing more and say, Well, you know, personal experience is very misleading and suspect and heretical. And we really should just, you know, codify this, this group of this doctrine, and then stick to it and banish everything else, and that he pretty much one out and that’s how the New Testament was formed, and especially the Gospels, and expanding this notion. I mean, then look what’s happened over the last couple 1000 years, I mean, hundreds of millions of people have been murdered in various ways and wars and whatnot, basically, over the notion that, you know, my God is better than your God, even though neither one of us can, you know, verify the existence of respective gods, but I’m gonna kill you anyway. Yeah, because you know, mine’s better than yours. And then taking it one step further, and then I’ll let you run with it. Another major way in which we tried to move in which we put a lot of effort into subjective experiences, the whole realm of drugs, and, you know, both legal and illegal, and, you know, what we all that we do in the billions of dollars we spend in the civil war taking place in Mexico and, and, you know, all that over the burning human desire, apparently, to alter our perspective, you know, through whatever means to change the way we see the world. And, you know, so you can see, this is a little bit of a disjointed question, but I think the two aspects are related. There’s just been a huge drama throughout human history, over subtler realities, different realities, you know, not accepting that the way we ordinarily see the world is all there is to it and wanting to change it somehow. So what do you say to all that?
Dana Sawyer: That’s a lot of so many, so many ideas crowded into my mind. First of all, you know, human beings have such a rage for certainty. And they have such a rage for certainty because they feel so uncertain. And that’s, you know, what the historical record of all cultures show in in that uncertainty. If people feel like they’re getting a message they can feel very strongly about and very certain about, then they will sometimes run with it, even if it doesn’t serve them in the long purpose of life. There’s that great Sufi story about God and Satan, you’re walking down the road, and God bends over and he picks something up out of the ditch, and he puts it in his robe. And they keep walking. And after a while, Satan says, oh, you know, by the way, what was that? And God says, that was the truth. And so Satan says, Oh, give it to me. I’ll organize it for you. And and if you think about in the early Christian church, there was such a movement among certain groups like the Pauline Christians in particular, as opposed to the Gnostic two pages writes about much more, who as you said, they wanted to objectify it. Okay, how can we create To kind of flowchart of certainty. And so they created this very strict apostolic succession, like a guru lineage. And they codified the text in the second century of their version of the Bible. And that was their way of creating certainty. But on an on, on the level of the Gnostic Christians, they were actually trying to embrace the mystery, rather than the certainty. They were really functioning much more out of a world that you and I are familiar with, and I’m sure lots of your listeners, which is a longing for something that will I knew who I am, you know, I’m Rick, or I’m Dana and I have this job, and I seem to be a male, and I do this and that. But that isn’t all that I am. And I can tell I know for sure, on some level, there’s something some little man behind the curtain or some giant, infinite void just out of reach. And the Gnostics you know, from that Greek word, Gnosis knowledge, that’s the knowledge they wanted, they didn’t want certainty, they didn’t want it, cut and dried on a piece of paper, they were trying to embrace that much more profound level of mystery. Now, and I’m almost done with this comment. But when we are, you know, trying to reach out for the transcendent, when we’re trying to reach out for that mystery. Inside of the perennial philosophy, and that’s really my tradition, the tradition of no tradition or all traditions, however you like to have it. You know, Aldous Huxley says people will, unfortunately, do drugs, heavy drugs, or sex or porn, or something like that, because they don’t even realize they’re searching for transcendence, they’re searching for wholeness. But in they do get themself, you know, outside of their usual consciousness. But then he would say the problem is that all the transcendence rather than being vertical, toward the sacred is horizontal, you, you displaced yourself for a while, but there was no growth and you come back to spinning your wheels, you know. And, and I think there’s, there’s some sense to that, in my experience.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I had that realization, the last time I took LSD, I was sitting there reading a Zen book, and, you know, really kind of getting impressed with how serious these Zen guys were. And contrasting that with the way my life was going. And among other things, I had the realization that there’s only one way out of this situation, and that is, upwards, he is a metaphor, but in other words, you can’t block it out, you can’t block out the reality and hope to actually escape, because you’re only going to have to face it again, perhaps even more, you know, painfully. And so I just had this sense that well, evolution, you know, getting more and more clear, more and more, you know, not trying to hide in any way, but sort of uncovering deeper and deeper realities, that would be the way to actual happiness, and, you know, freedom.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, yeah, you know, it, you know, saying that, in a slight disagreement with your point, you know, I’m writing this biography of Houston Smith right now. And Houston, was very close with Timothy Leary and ROM das when rom Das was still Richard Alpert at Harvard. And Houston was experimenting with them with psychedelics, and he has still to this day very much respect for psychedelics, his viewpoint, and I tend to agree with it is that it’s a tool, and it’s a tool that, you know, you can stick your axe and your foot or you can cut a tree down and split your firewood. And, you know, his viewpoint is to say that psychedelics are unequivocably, a tool that can’t be used for consciousness expansion is to dismiss hundreds of traditional religions that have existed on the planet, including lots of Native American religions, especially in South America. So, you know, he just want to add that hiccup at the end, that maybe the way they’re often used in American culture, or, you know, as a way of sort of getting yourself blown away, instead of being set inside of a cultural milieu or where there are lots of reference points on how to channel that experience in a more positive interaction, you know, so I totally
Rick Archer: agree. I mean, I wasn’t in my own case, it was a real eye opener. The first time I did psychedelics, you know, I realized Holy mackerel You know, there is a whole, you know, subtle world here that I didn’t realize existed and every everything depends on how you perceive the world. It’s not just what you how you rearrange the objects out there, it’s how you shift your whole orientation to the world is what is important. But after a year of doing that, you know, I was getting to the point where I pretty well fried my brain. And, you know, I realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere to continue in this direction. And I needed to sort of do something more wholesome.
Dana Sawyer: Sure. Yeah. Alan, Alan Watts said something like, when you get the message hang up the phone or something. Right. Once you once that’s about in that there is a world beyond your everyday consciousness then move like this better tools. So Right,
Rick Archer: exactly. Now, let’s, let’s talk about certainty for a second since you brought it up a minute ago. It’s, it’s interesting, because when I first found out about enlightenment, I felt like that was something that was going to give me certainty. You know, I was gonna have sort of a rock solid grip on reality, know, anything I wanted to know, with certainty, no more equivocation. You know, you know, this whole academic thing that there are no absolutes. It’s all you know, everyone’s perspective is as good as anybody else’s. I didn’t like that at all. And I felt like, I’m going to get beyond all that and really be able to sort of come down with absolute precision on any topic or subject or bit of knowledge in the world.
Dana Sawyer: No workout.
Rick Archer: Not at all, actually. But that’s okay. I, you know, now I sort of like, you know, there’s a saying in the Bible, which I’ve quoted a few times in these interviews, which is that the foxes have their holes, and the birds have their nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head. And, to me, that means that they’re, that, you know, if if you really sort of expanded or unbounded or awake or whatever you want to call it. You can’t find solace or certainty of security in a conceptual cubbyhole of any kind. In fact, any concept that somebody presents to you, you can sort of see the truth in that and then also see the truth in the polar opposite of it. And even though those two might be at each other’s throats, you can you can kind of see how they’re both it’s like the certs paradox, you know, it’s both a candy mint and a breath mint.
Dana Sawyer: The search paradox? That’s good. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And teachers like Byron, Katie, are so effective, because they’re really good at prying people loose from their certainty. You know, do you know that’s true? Are you absolutely sure that’s true? You know, where would you be if that wasn’t true? You know?
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. That’s right. And that’s, you know, you raised so many interesting points there. And one of them that comes to my mind is that whatever subjective experience we’re having, whatever experience we’re having, has got to be set inside of a particular interpretation. And people will. What, remember marshy story about the man wearing the diamond, heavy diamond necklace around his neck and saying that the guy was denigrating the experience until somebody said, wow, you’re the richest man on the planet. That’s this giant diamond. Yeah, way down. That’s right. And, you know, I think that’s true of life in general. I think that very often, we take the fact that life can confronts us as or, you know, Rashard inkblot as almost like a man has no place to put his head down. But that there’s such wonderful opportunity in that, you know, if the truth could be written on a piece of paper and put in front of you, and you could know it like somebody’s phone number, then I wouldn’t have all these books behind me and you wouldn’t have those books behind you. Right? Yeah, it’s the it’s the, it’s the, I don’t know. I do. Well, you know, occupational hazard that it’s not so much a search thing is a flowering thing for me. Now, I almost sort of, like the perpetual intellectual confusion, you know, and sort of, you know, I don’t know convictional Lee impaired when it comes to like theories about it, you know, with his life or, or some profound experience that you have, and how do you explain it and appropriate it? I think a lot of times poets come closer and, you know, someone like Rumi nails it down a lot more than somebody like Dana Sawyer writing books, you know, don’t really get at it. You know,
Rick Archer: I heard Nisargadatta quoted recently as having said that, that a good measure of enlightenment is the degree to which you’re comfortable with paradox and ambiguity.
Dana Sawyer: Hmm. I see. I think that’s brilliant. I really do. You know, talking with you and Smith, who’s 91 Now doing these interviews for the biography. He has an incredible, incredible presence. Rick, my wife when he calls me, she says God’s on the phone. And that is talking with Michael Murphy, the guy that one of the two founders of the Esalen Institute. And Michael said, Yeah, you know, Dana, excellent. over all these years, we’ve only had about five presenters that really glow in the dark. And one of them is Houston Smith. Cool. And at the same moment, Houston is very much in this place of, you know, I don’t want to call it uncertainty. It’s not really that it’s kind of a delicious embrace of mystery. So I would characterize,
Rick Archer: yeah, I mean, it’s worth dwelling on the certainty and uncertainty point for a bit more, because if you think of it, as I, you know, I alluded earlier to all the wars and killing that’s taking place in the name of religion. That wouldn’t have happened if people hadn’t been so cocksure of their particular perspective, you know, I mean, you know, you have to be pretty darn sure of your, of your, your rightness to fly an airplane into a building. I saw a cartoon the other day, the airplane was about to hit the World Trade Center, and there’s a voice in the cockpit saying, wait a minute, what if there’s some curtains in there? And the other guy said, what do we care? They would know Right? You know, the the thing was, there was a philosopher in the 19th century named named Edmund Husserl, at Edmund Husserl. And he was a primary influence on Martin Heidegger, another philosopher, and he was also a primary influence on Freud. So he had a really broad influence. But he was really the first person to clinically prove that perception is not a passive process, that we are constantly selecting what to put our attention on. So you know, I’m, I’m selecting to pay attention to your voice, and you’re selecting to pay attention to mine. And during this whole conversation, there’s been the sensation of our bodies sitting in the chairs. But are we aware of those sensations? Unless really, maybe,
Dana Sawyer: that mean subliminally MABLEY had they be excuse me, I’ve been a long day of teaching. And yet, what he was pointing out is that we don’t realize that as we select on a regular basis, and as we grow, and we’re taught what to select, you know, when you’re driving, if you took Driver’s Ed, you learn to select the road, right? You’re driving select the road, yeah, the kids are beautiful out on the street, but look back at the road very soon. Yeah. And so we become very robotic in our actions. And we become robotic in our in our selection preferences of what we put our attention on. And we become robotic and how we interpret what we select. So I see a dog and I know what a dog is, I don’t have to see it. Again. There’s no Zen moment, in that there’s no richness. And I remember years ago, at the University of Hawaii, which I recommend, you know, if you don’t like school, don’t like school, especially if you’re a Zen teacher named Robert Aiken, who some of your listeners may know, he came in and spoke in one of my classes. And in front of him was a kind of a book, sort of in the shape of a magazine, if you can see what I’m saying a kind of big coffee table book, not too heavy, though. And he held it up to the class and he said, What is this? And somebody said, you know, a book, and he waved it in front of his face like this? And he said, No, it’s a fan. And then he said, Oh, by the way, what is this? And somebody said, you know, a book fan? And he said, No, and he threw it on stack of papers. And he said, it’s a paperweight. And so he picked it up again. And he said, What is this? And somebody said, a book fan paperweight? And he opened it up and he put it on his head. And he said, No, it’s a rain hat because it was raining that day in Manoa Valley and lots of people had run in with books over there. And he had seen that at this went on for 10 minutes. And then finally said, Oh, by the way, what is this? And somebody said, I don’t have any idea what that is. And he said, Now we’re getting somewhere. We’re getting somewhere now to tie I visceral into Akin. Visceral, was saying that because we become such creatures of habit and we run on automatic all the time. We don’t revisit the mystery of the world enough. And what happens is we become so acculturated with our own cultures viewpoint, that we see the world through a lens of concepts and interpretations that are blinding. To the fact we’re not really seeing the world, we’re seeing the world through a glass darkly. And I think when people are too, too influenced by a philosophical viewpoint, whether it doesn’t know, it doesn’t really matter what it is, whether it’s Islam or Marxism, or SCI, if that becomes the only way we can interpret our experience, and we can’t revisit the mystery, then we were in trouble on two levels, one, we can become way too dogmatic to interact with others in a, in a peaceful playground kind of way. And then to We shut ourselves off from so much beauty, and so much nourishment, you have true nourishment, if the mind could settle down more than the spirit can loom out more, you know, them loom forward. And I think that’s what they miss is that they don’t realize, you know, I don’t want to pick on somebody, but I think George Bush didn’t realize when he was calling him the evildoers. That it’s, it’s a matter of perception and that if he had been born where they were, he would have had their perspective, if they had been born where he was, they would have his you know, yeah, is that there’s a blindness that comes to us when we don’t realize that passive, that perception isn’t passive. I remember this. There’s one more story I want to share quickly. Glycerol made some phony playing cards from I’m remembering this correctly. And he would play cards with a friend of his and he would say, oh, you know, Fritz, or you know, this is in Germany, presumably or Switzerland? What is that card? Oh, that’s the ace of hearts. Is it? Look at it. Oh, I’m looking right at it. UFC is the heart. So he said, Well, if you look closely, you’ll see it’s a red ace of spades. And the person would say, oh, there is no bit ace of spades and hustle says, Well, there’s one. Yeah, it just pointing out how the glasses of interpretation can become so glued on our face, that we can’t see the world anymore.
Rick Archer: marshy is to give a lecture in which he said routine work kills the genius in men. But then he said, well, but routine work is necessary. Because for efficiency, you know, you have to learn how to do a thing, and you have to do it over and over again. So he says, the solution is if you have recourse to unboundedness, and then alternate, late that with your with your work, then you can somehow break the confining shackles of routine, you know, be unbounded, and yet at the same time, be focused on on the specific tasks that you may have to perform repeatedly. And kind of pertains to the point you’re making.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, I like that advice. I’m glad I didn’t hear that lecture before I had to memorize the chicken notes. Right. It wasn’t
Rick Archer: part of that. I mean, so what would you say for instance, I mean, here, I mean, in in the United States, these days, commentators are lamenting how polarized we become not. And we always were, but it’s getting more extreme. It seems, you know, the Republicans and Democrats can’t talk to each other. Republicans have to oppose everything Obama tries to do, you know, no matter how laudable it may be, there’s just absolutely a gridlock, because of this sort of fixity, of perspective. And that’s just one example. And we can take religious examples that, you know, specific issues like gun control, or abortion or whatever else is, people get locked into their perspectives. So what is the antidote to that?
Dana Sawyer: Well, I think, you know, getting out of your own light is really the enemy. You know, I think that’s the antidote to that. What do you mean by that? Well, you know, getting over that certainty, I mean, you know, we live in troubled times everybody’s worried about climate change. And if they’re not they should be. And that whenever you live in times of great uncertainty like we do, and when you live in times of tremendous cultural change that we’re going through right now. Then that’s going to create a polarization there are going to be people who will clutch very, very desperately to the way things were I think if you look at the Tea Party movement in America today, you’re seeing people who want America to stay put, they want to stay America, keep America the way it was in their childhood or their parents childhood. And then you have immigrants who didn’t have that childhood and you’ve got people who see America more pluralistic Lee in America based on Jeffersonian principles of democracy, not necessarily only being a Red Sox fan, or or, you know, a certain view of white Protestant America. And so that creates, you know, uncertainty and polarization but the PC know that I’m trying to get at Rick is about getting out of your own light is, um you know that there’s that great Zen story. There’s a great Zen story about an old master Chinese Zen, Chon, and the old master and the young master going up a trail. I’ll try to make this short. And the young they sit down to take a break, and the young master says to the old master, oh, you know, since we’ve got some time on our hands, what is heaven? Like? And, excuse me says, What is hell like? And the old master says, hello, hello. Okay. Let’s see. Oh, yeah, hell, that’s a beautiful garden with lots of fragrant flowers and birds and palm trees and beautiful perfume breezes. And there’s a pavilion with silk curtains and beautiful banquet table and all these wonderful people around the table and, and he has to be stopped by the young monk. And he says, Wait a minute, wait a minute, we’re talking about hell, right? And the old monk says, Yeah, you know, but the thing is in hell, you have to eat with chopsticks. And the chopsticks are about four feet long. So when you pick the food up, your arm isn’t long enough to get the food in your mouth. So you can never eat the food even though you’re there. Yeah. And so the young wow, you know, that would be hell. So he says to the old monk, okay. Okay, so what about heaven? What would have him be like? And the old monk says, oh, yeah, heaven. Okay. That’s the same thing, isn’t it? It’s a garden, beautiful flowers, big pavilion, silk curtains, beautiful banquet, all this delicious table and all these people around, the young monk says, I don’t get it. And the old monk says, well, in heaven, you remember that? You could have fed the people across the table from you?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Right. The Hindus have the same story. Oh, really? Yeah, there’s a story where the gods and the demons for some reasons, for some reason had their arms like, put on a splint, you know, so they couldn’t bend at the elbow. Okay, so they’re unable to feed themselves, you know, because it couldn’t bend their arm. And as it turned to make this story even shorter, as it turned out, the demons all starve to death because they couldn’t figure out how to eat but the gods fed each other. And so they survived.
Dana Sawyer: And see, you know, are we going to be gods or demons? Right. I mean, that’s the piece that I mean about getting out of our own, like, can we reach across the table. And, you know, Steven Koch down at Kripalu for a few years was doing these East Meets East workshops for five days. And he would have Buddhist scholars come in and Hindu scholars come in. And even in America today, you will often see people will transplant their old allegiances to Hinduism and Buddhism. You know, Stephen is always sort of teasing and laughing that the Episcopalians have kind of cornered the market on Hindu traditions, and the Jews have cornered the market on Buddhist traditions. And, you know, you might have even heard this expression Jew booze, and if you’ve ever heard
Rick Archer: this, I’ve heard hidden Jews and Jews were.
Dana Sawyer: But but you know, the point is that, will we simply say, oh, you know, I used to be a Christian and you guys were lost? Or? I was I’m a Catholic, you’re a Protestant, you’re lost if you’re not inside the right tradition? Or will we not do that? Will we as we grow and are exposed to new traditions, not bring that old habit of dogmatic allegiance to one perspective, to the point where we’re not even willing to listen to the teachings of others? You know, that’s, that’s a real worry, I think.
Rick Archer: So that gives us one hint at an antidote, which is that, you know, if we could somehow expose ourselves to viewpoints, other than the one we were already ensconced in, it might help us realize that, you know, other viewpoints are perhaps as valid as our own or the way I look at it. I mean, I’ve been guilty, a little dog with ISM myself from time to time over the years. And even recently, you know, I’ve listened to a lot of talks by Neo Advaita teachers, there’s this site called the urban guru Cafe, and they’re all sort of followers of Sailor Bob Adams, and whom you may have heard of, but new advisor, teacher, and yeah, listen to them with great interest because these people are very articulate and Clear and Brilliant and so on, but I just came away with the feeling like, you know, there’s something incomplete, there’s something missing, there’s this denigration of, of the sort of progressive path like nature of, of, you know, this tendency to sort of say, this, realize that it’s all an illusion, and there’s no one home there’s no individual self and you’re done. You know, you don’t have to meditate, you know, gurus are all bunk. And so some of them talk that way. And instead of bemoaning that, or you know, criticizing it and so on. It’s just lately I’ve been feeling like you know, Every perspective is valid, every path is valid. And you know, for some people that might be the perfect teaching right now, it might be exactly what they need to hear, just as fundamentalist Christianity might be exactly what somebody needs to hear at this stage of the game. And if they reach a point at which they need to hear something else, then they’ll get interested in something else. But, you know, there’s just there’s so many different teachings and teachers and perspectives and, and so on. And, you know, no, one of them is the absolute one that everyone should adhere to. They’re all just flowers in a garden variety. And, you know, just enjoy them all and take what you need and leave the rest.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, that works for me. I mean, I like, I certainly like the idea that there are multiple paths up the spiritual mountain. I certainly certainly agree with that. I mean, I think the only place that we have to worry is when somebody is raising a philosophical perspective, that is implicitly not, you know, generous, that in other words, people are being maybe they’re getting something out of it. But maybe this goes to that horizontal transcendence I was talking about that, they get certainty and they get out of the problem they had, you know, they’re in 12 STEP program now, and that’s certainly better than where they were. But if they’re sitting down in a place like extremist Islam, or, or extremist Judaism, or extremist Christianity, then very often they’re really being taught to superglue those filters on their, on their face and see the world only from one perspective, and, and maybe even do harm to to others. And then that’s, you know, it’s hard for me to accept that as much as what they really need at this point or something like that. But certainly you can, you can walk away with you know, you can you can go to a meeting, I think, if you Where am I trying to go with this if you’re when I first left the Christian church after my teenage years, and, you know, you remember those days in the 60s and everything that was going on, I couldn’t see the inside of a church without being sort of angry and frustrated, and they’re behind the curve, and blah, blah, blah, yeah. And
Rick Archer: took me years after I stopped smoking dope to not feel paranoid whenever there was a cop following me.
Dana Sawyer: Talking about habitability, right, and so then to be able to go back into a church, and hear some beautiful choir music, or some beautiful Oregon music or, you know, Gregorian chanting, and really be able to really own that sit with how beautiful it is. Yeah, absolutely. You know, wonderful, wonderful.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, my way of thinking, which, of course, is always subject to revision, it seems that there, you know, I wouldn’t want to try to do it, but it seems that you could sort of place all the different spiritual teachings and paths along a spectrum of perhaps maturity, you know, and some of them are really rather primitive. And by primitive, I would, I would tend to mean, you know, rigid, doctrinaire, you know, very sort of closed minded. I mean, you can go places in the south where, you know, there’s some little church down the block, which feels like, it’s only got it alone has the true teaching, and the other churches, and everybody else in the world is off base, you know, and then moving up the scale, you would find, you know, teachings and teachers that were much more inclusive, and, you know, appreciative and, and what I was getting at a minute ago is that, you know, people also fall on that spectrum. And perhaps it’s natural for people at a certain stage in their development to be in a group or a church or a religion, that is very narrow minded, because it just resonates with their mentality with their state of consciousness. And, you know, given the evolutionary nature of the universe, I don’t think they’re going to be there forever. And it would be nice to find ways of helping every everything move up the spectrum. But what I’m saying is that all is well and wisely put, and even that, you know, offensive, fundamentalist, rigid, you know, teachings have their place in the big picture of things
Dana Sawyer: could very well be true, you know, some religious traditions like Tibetan Buddhism, they actually try to structure the religion in such a way that it’s being honest in that regard. And what I mean by that is, they have a kind of spiritual kindergarten and they have intermediate levels of teachings. And further along in Tibetan Buddhism, they basically will end up saying, Well, you know, everything that I’ve been telling you all this time, yeah, well, none of it was true, but it got you but it got you here. Yeah. You know, Now we go from here, you know, there’s an esoteric teaching that comes out later when you’re really prepared for it and will understand, you know, and take it properly. And I think a way to just give a quick example of that is, you know, everybody’s seen the Tibetan prayer wheel. And they call those physical supports, like prayer flags or physical surround. And yeah, it’s full of mantras and your, your repeating mantras by by twirling it, right. And so you know, that’s a good way to get people to sit down. And, and they started practice every day, and they’re using their prayer wheel, and being as mindful with it as they can be. And then maybe later on, they don’t need the prayer wheel anymore. It’s fine to just sit without it. You know, it’s just an obvious example. But there’s lots of places.
Rick Archer: Yeah, in that tradition, kind of like training wheels on a bicycle.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. That’s right. That’s right. So this is sort of stages and initiations as you move along, you know, the kind of gear that you need at treeline on the spiritual mountains, not the same gear you started out with, right started out in TiVos. You know, and in, you know, sooner or later, you get a parka. And,
Rick Archer: yeah, ice axes
Dana Sawyer: and extend that analogy. But yeah, that, I think it’s very much like,
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, the TM moment was that way to actually, you know, Marsh used to say otherwise, don’t dilute the agreement. And you should just, you should speak according to the level of consciousness of the listener, otherwise, you’re just going to confuse him. And you know, later on, it was when all that sort of went public, that that’s what he was saying. People said, Ah, he’s they’re just hiding the esoteric teaching, because they’re afraid to let people know what it really is when you get heavily into it. And there may have been some of that, but you know, I feel like, you know, the point you just made about the Tibetans kind of was being exercised there as well.
Dana Sawyer: Well, I think so too. I mean, I have to say, I got kind of tired of that I got kind of tired of teaching people that their doctor recommended them because they had a heart condition. And, you know, that listened to the third night’s checking meeting and kind of like, Yeah, whatever, buddy.
Rick Archer: Yeah. The third night being the time when you talked about cosmic consciousness.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. Yeah. So to be able to talk with them about things that they I mean, and, you know, that’s probably was a huge impetus to my own journey, because I remember figuring out, oh, this is Advaita Vedanta, in a new package. And so I started matching up the terms, you know, okay, so there’s, you know, pure consciousness is Samadhi. And pure creative intelligence is Brahman, and, well, what’s the stress word? You know, what’s this process? Awesome. Yeah, right. And some scarfs is another is right. Yeah. And, and so, okay, then I got so intrigued by that, all right, I want to swim back up the river and go and dig deeper into that, you know, the traditional perspective on that knowledge. So that was really, you know, you know, just like the hunt, we’re talking about the hunger for transcendence I leading to break out of being set in my ways at that time. And I certainly was getting kind of set in my ways at that time,
Rick Archer: meaning before you learn to meditate.
Dana Sawyer: Or, you know, probably now, still, you know, it’s very hard for the human mind to not sort of congeal Yeah, you have breaking out of it. And you know, sometimes a friend of mine has a theory, that the only thing we philosophers have ever done by coming up with new theories that was useful, is breaking us out of the old theories, that’s the only real value we have is that we at least deconstructed the previous viewpoint. So you know, the cracks let the light end right. Whenever this cracks in a new theory, they let some light into the room. Yeah. So I think, you know, before I started TM, and then after I was teaching TM for a few years, I was congealing and needed, you know, it wasn’t like denigrating what had happened or my viewpoint, but wanting to continue to brought it in broaden.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting. I interviewed somebody a couple months ago, who made the point that he felt that, you know, a couple 1000 years ago, there was a much sort of thicker membrane as it were to penetrate if one wanted to get enlightened and that it took a real Superman like the Buddha to actually penetrate that membrane because it just wasn’t a lot of support for that in society. Whereas now the membrane has been penetrated so many times that it’s much more porous and easier break through and people are breaking through right and left. And I wanted to bring that point up as a segue into having you talk a little bit about cultural change, because you mentioned it a little while ago. And what do you think about that idea that it just said, and also about, you know, what is happening in the culture and you have any sense whatsoever? where we’re headed, you know, there’s there does seem to be a greater and greater influx of spiritual interest in in the kind of spiritual development that we’re talking about here. On the other hand on contrasting with that, there seems to be more and more severe problems counterbalancing it?
Dana Sawyer: Yeah. Well, you know, it’s funny, you asked this question, because I’m just now reading Phil Goldberg’s book.
Rick Archer: As I was asking that question, yeah, yeah.
Dana Sawyer: And of course, he’s very interested in that. And I know he interviewed you for the book. And Phil is, you know, this, the sort of his explanation, I think, really rings true for me, which is, back in the 60s, when the floodgates were open to Asian immigration. We got all these Yogi’s and swamis and llamas, and you remember those days. And that brought all this knowledge into, at a time when there was this very, very idealistic, romantic generation, eager for new ways of looking at things and open to new ways of looking at things. And we’ve been through a very interesting growth curve in the last 4050 years, where we’ve absorbed so much wisdom from the east. But we’ve also been through a maturation process of realizing how naive we were in that first blush of enthusiasm. In India, you know, they’ve had so many millennia of dealing with fraudulent gurus and gurus that fall off the wagon, and that there’s some, you know, I don’t know, maybe the membrane fell out of the sky and landed on them, and it’s thicker around them now, but, you know, they’re there. They’re harder to do. They’re not as naive. They’re not as likely to believe they’re going to be enlightened in in a few years. And I don’t think we were, but I think we are, I think, you know, Phil is right that in our that the boomers now have grown. And they’ve realized that spiritual maturity never comes easy that that’s the journey of it is, you know, it’s a complex process. And we’ve arrived at a place where, you know, if I’m not as certain about what I think, then I’m more likely to be open to your thoughts if they’re different. And I think of times back when I was teaching TM, when, if somebody was talking about a different spiritual path, I had to immediately convince them they were on the wrong one. Yeah.
Rick Archer: That was part of teacher training. We had a session towards the end of teacher training, where people would bring up every path they could think of, and marshy would sit there and point out why it was inferior.
Dana Sawyer: Right? Yeah, silver mind control. Yeah. We don’t only want to control this silver by and so to, you know, to go to a place of, I remember one time in Hawaii, and I was talking about why I was the Sims president on campus. And we
Rick Archer: go national Meditation Society TM thing. Go ahead. That’s right.
Dana Sawyer: And, and Thanks for that clarification. And I went to a they were going to have a festival of different spiritual groups. And so the Hari Krishna ‘s were there and Swami Muktananda group was there. And, you know, you remember all of the different ones. And what was interesting Swami Satchidananda. And in many cases, like in the case of Swami Muktananda Swami, such an Ananda in us, we were basically giving the exact same teaching from the exact same tradition, the Advaita tradition. And I remember coming in and there was a woman, maybe in her 40s, and I was in my 20s. And I made eye contact with her and I had that amazing experience you have some times when you just sort of fall into each other’s emptiness. And I had such admiration for her immediately as a person like, wow, this is a person of real quality, and I need to open my ears and listen. And the way that my cohort behaved in that meeting,
Rick Archer: embarrassed the heck out
Dana Sawyer: of me, right? Oh, it was terrible. It was terrible. It was awful. Yeah, it was painful. You know, I mean, emotionally painful to to go through that experience. And, of course, I thought at the times that I probably did something like that, you know, one or two years. Oh, me
Rick Archer: too. I cringe at some of the memories. And you know, it’s interesting because in spiritual groups tend to, none of this is sort of one, one part of it, I think, is, there’s this sort of ego gratification, to think I am on the best path, I must be so fortunate, I must have such good karma is something to found the highest teaching in the world, boy, and a special, you know, and all these other things play, you know, there, but for the grace of God go, I am so happy that I have been through knowledge that, you know, in variations on that theme, but you know, there are a lot of spiritual groups or talking or people who will talk in that very way. And, in a sense, you know, like, if you take an example, the example of marshy University of Management, it’s, it’s, it actually hurts them more than helps them in my opinion. Because, for instance, there have been a number of spiritual teachers who have come to Fairfield, Iowa, where that University is located, who’ve expressed sincere interest in the university, and Shri Ma, for instance, is a Hindu teacher, you may have heard of her, was here, and she was actually got, somehow got onto a tour, and she was touring campus. And somehow the administration got wind of it, in the middle of her tour, went and found her she was in the dome at that point and kicked her off campus. Oh, and then, you know, Ganga Ji was here. And she wanted to take a tour of campus and asked if she could and was refused, you know, because they’re this sort of fear that well, these other teachers coming around are going to corrupt the students or something. And, you know, in my opinion, that’s very counterproductive, because these people could have been recruiters, they don’t have universities, you know, what they do? If the students are college age, they might very well have said, go there, you know, a good place, but the impression that was made,
Dana Sawyer: Ganga Ji is even in the same same midweight and tradition, you know, yeah. So, I mean, her viewpoint is very, very resonant with the viewpoint, you know, there. So there’s a real irony. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there’s something really sad about that, I think.
Rick Archer: And, and there’s something so enriching about the cross fertilization of, you know, being more open and, you know, interacting and participating in discussing with people of various perspectives. And if you really are super secure, I mean, we talked about certainty in the beginning, if you really are secure in whatever it is you’re doing, it’s not going to be a threat. You know?
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. That’s right. I think you’re very right about that. And if you are willing to discuss the points, then you know, you can agree to disagree. Or you might find that you want to modify the way you look at things. So I mean, I certainly had to, when I got to India, you know, talking about people being dogmatic reminds me one time, this is 1988. And I was doing a lot of writing on the Dundies. And I would follow them around with that tell people so the Dundies are a sect of Swamis in India, they’re the most Rudy Wadi, the most orthodox sect of Hindu that you have to be a Brahmin to be a dandy, and they spend a lot of time hanging around in the Himalayas. And that’s one of the main reasons I was interested because I like hiking. And so I’m up there and following these guys around with cameras and tape recorders and going to different months, monasteries, and interviewing them every day. And, you know, crunching data for academic work. Well, anyway, one of these incredible, incredible swamis, and they’re not all incredible, but this one, this one happened to be Sunda Nanda, his name was he. He said, Have you heard of this man, Swami Rama? And I said, Yeah, I have heard of him, you know, holmesdale, Pennsylvania. He’s got an American following. And he said, he is now living on, you know, where he was living in Triveni. Got and reshoot caches directly across the river from Mauritius old ashram. And so he said, you know, you should drop in there because he used to be a dandy and now he’s not. So I was interested academically and like, why did he leave that order, but still calls himself as Swami. And so I went to the ashram, well, the chokey Dart, and I got along really well, the garden I get along really well, because he had never met a Westerner that could speak fluent Hindi. It was kind of like meeting a dog that could talk. He kept wanting to chat me up like wow, some of them can talk. So talking to this guy, and I said, you know, Can I Can I come in and he got kind of uncomfortable. I could tell you this uncomfortable. And so this woman came and she was the course leader from Canada and they had a course there, maybe 50 people, and she sort of read Be the riot act who did I think I was going to be that I was just going to show up and talk to the SWAMI. And I tried to explain to him that talking to Swamis was what I did for a living. And I had talked to like seven already today. You know, in the thing that was kind of sad about that is I realized very quickly that I couldn’t clarify my position, I could only make her matter. If I disagreed with her, I could only make her matter why I’m so
Rick Archer: mad, because she thought you were sort of presumptuous to be showing up at this important place and just expecting to walk in and get an audience is that a problem?
Dana Sawyer: So I mean, whatever somebody at MUN said, the Ganga Ji was basically the load I got, right. You know, that was what went on. And, and so, you know, I’m standing there saying, Look, you know, I don’t mean any harm, I just would like to interview him for this project I’m working on and if it’s not too much trouble, and she wasn’t reflecting on whether it would be too much trouble or not. Well, what happens is, a car shows up one of those Indian ambassadors and out steps Swami ROM and, and the chokey Dart tells him, I could speak Hindi. So he addresses me in Hindi, and we start talking, Swami Brahm looks at her and says, Go get tea, go get some tea, I’m going to talk with this guy for a while. And you know, she she obsequiously left, but there was no apology or I’m sorry, who have made you stand here and been an unpleasant to you? And, you know, I think of that time that Muktananda. Marie, she made that very beautiful hug. Right. You know, I think there’s a really great example of that, like, can we be as open minded, and presumably, by this point, if we really trust our paths, and we’ve been doing these things for all these decades, then we can believe that we have grown? Yeah. And if we have grown, then then we have to prove that by demonstrating it in our behavior and not following a flowchart of you know, correct action, quote, unquote,
Rick Archer: one thing I think that woman at the ash, Swami Rama has placed evidence was that when people get into positions of authority, their egos go crazy, you know, at least at a certain stage of development, you know, I mean, you can take a personally a perfectly nice, reasonable person and put them in a position of authority, and all of a sudden they become a Nazi.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, well, right. Yeah. That’s true. To some extent. Yeah. It’s true. I hope I never have to pass that test. I’ve seen it too many times in India, you know, where somebody will get to the finally get to the top of the heap. And their worst nightmare comes true. I think, in some cases.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So let’s talk about India for a little bit. I mean, you’ve been there 12 times and you’ve been interviewing all these swamis, what could you what can you tell us about India? And well, you know, specifically about your experience in meeting all these guys that people would find fascinating?
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, probably a lot of the people who are listening to this have been beating dit or how much time they’ve really spent there. I mean, my experience over all these years, 30 years now, going to India regularly and my wife and I are going this December, is that it was incredibly disillusioning and incredibly inspirational. So there’s that mystery again, right? Having to live with paradox, because I remember so many times where there would be a letdown. And, and then you become kind of jaded because you’ve seen it all before. In India. The ability to perform miracles is you know, the way that inside of some Dwight movements when you’re witnessing waking, dreaming and sleeping, that’s the proof that you’re now enlightened to your bonafide qualified and finished in some sense. And in India, you know, to practice the cities to be able to manifest objects. You know, why Sai Baba is still as popular as he is. And so what happens is left hand artist. Exactly. And there’s so many of them in India, you know,
Rick Archer: not a good sleight of hand artist sometimes not that magicians look at his thing, you know, friends of mine are into magic and say, Wait, he’s just an amateur. You know, I could do a lot better than
Dana Sawyer: that. Yeah, there’s, there’s a book, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, that’s really worth getting but there’s an anecdote in there where a guy is with Sai Baba and it’s around American Easter time, and Sai Baba, manifest some Easter candy. And he’s passing it out to people. And the guy observes that the candy is past its expiration date on the back of these awesome you know, if you like these kinds of stories, let me give you a really fun one. I started to get very familiar with the judge who guards the magician’s, and the tricks that they were doing and the tricks the Swamis were doing. And so it would be like, you know, oh, I can stop my heart from beating. And I’m going to go into samadhi, you take my pulse, and you’ll see that I, my heart is stopped. And I would say, Oh, you’ve got a wall that under your arm and you’re squeezing it into your armpit and stopping the pulse from coming down your arm. And sometimes they would be sort of, you know, surprised and embarrassed. But I remember once going into a Krishna temple in Missouri, there was a man sitting a Baba sitting in front of the door, and he had a bowl in front of him. So I reached down to put a rupee coin in his bowl. And he, it No, don’t, don’t give me money. I do not need any money. And this was kind of a new one for me, because they think like he said, if I need anything, I can manifest it myself. And I said, really? And he said, Yes, he goes, if I am, if I am thirsty, and he reaches up and he grabs his dreadlocks, and he like, squeezes his dreadlocks and all this milk started to pour off of his face and it filled this bowl. And, and he looks up at me and I said, Oh, no, see, I know that one. Do you take a sponge you fill it up with milk, you hide it in your dreadlocks? And then you squeeze it and get this kind of funny look on his face. And then he said, Okay, have you seen this one? Blakey just went to the next trip. Get him on this one. Okay. So, you know, lots of those kinds of experiences. And
Rick Archer: Did you ever see anybody perform what you considered to have been in a genuine siddhi?
Dana Sawyer: Uh, no, I can’t say I can’t say that thought about that. I can’t say how. Now I have seen I have seen amazing body control. Amazing, amazing, amazing, you know, hatha yoga at a level most people can’t, I can’t imagine I saw a man in a, in a marketplace one time in a bizarre holding up a snake, about a two and a half foot long Cobra, Collie solder. And he’s saying kellisa Da, da, da, da, look at this Kalisa. And so he’s growing this group of people around him and he was talking about Kundalini Yoga, you know, the serpent power and others. And he takes this snake and he sticks the head of the snake in his mouth. And he ingested this entire snake,
Rick Archer: whoa, a live snake?
Dana Sawyer: A live snake
Rick Archer: Wow, I wonder how the snake felt about that?
Dana Sawyer: Probably didn’t like it. And sort of the proof of that was then he kept going for only you know, maybe another minute or two on this lecture about the serpent power rising, that he drank this this glass of water volume of water. And then he started doing this thing with his diaphragm. You could see him manipulating. Pretty soon, he opens up his mouth and here comes the head of the Cobra. And he takes this cobra, you know, he brings this cobra all the way out. Like I don’t know whether he was drowning the Cobra with the water in his stomach cavity and the snake found his esophagus enough that he could grab it. You know, he’s he regurgitated it head first,
Rick Archer: And it was still alive.
Dana Sawyer: And it was still alive. And I was close enough that now he didn’t switch snakes or something that I’ve seen
Rick Archer: He didn’t put it down his sleeve or something like that.
Dana Sawyer: No he wasn’t even wearing a shirt. Yeah. Had you just had a loony on huh? You know, so I mean, that’s incredible. Right? I mean, it’s absolutely not I wonder
Rick Archer: if he does that like 10 times a day you know in the market for the audiences
Dana Sawyer: probably you know, it didn’t but he will do is something like this Rick, you’ll snake
Rick Archer: Maybe the snake is like totally used to it by now. And yeah,
Dana Sawyer: so right there in cahoots
Rick Archer: is fed well, figures it’s a good gig,
Dana Sawyer: what he’ll do is he’ll have a ring on his finger, often these guys. And they’ll say I can do this. And I do never get bit because of the power of Kali Ma. And so this ring is protecting me. And you know, I can bring people back from the dead with this ring. I’ve never been ill because of this ring. And so inevitably, after the show, you know, some country bumpkin will say, you know, my mother is dying, I could really use that ring. And so he’ll, you know, pay, you know, an exorbitant amount for a poor person two or 300 rupees. Then of course, the guy’s got a whole bag full of these rings, you know, and goes on to the next village. And so I’ve seen that so many times.
Rick Archer: So that’s the disillusionment side. How about the inspiration side?
Dana Sawyer: The inspiration side and his real inspiration is that you never meet them out in the marketplace and fortunately, and unfortunately, if you if you can’t speak In Indian language, you’re rarely ever going to meet them, just because it cuts down on the numbers of people you can be exposed to, and communicate with. Not that they’re that all communication has to be verbal, right. But, you know, I’ve certainly met men and women that I profoundly respect. They’re, you know, they’re doing the real work, and they’ve really gotten somewhere. And I think that we have a good what do I want to call it? I think, I think, especially after a certain level of spiritual maturity, we become very adept at kind of smelling a stink bomb in the room, you know, whether you’ve Indian VNC, and all the tricks or not, you can kind of tell if somebody is being authentic. And, you know, I think in the American experience of spiritual teachers, they tend we tend to like our spiritual teachers good looking, we sort of laminate as Andrew Harvey says the movie star. That’s the template, the movie star in the veneration of movie stars becomes our template for venerating spiritual teachers. So they’re often good looking, and they’re often very charismatic. And, and in my experience, they’re not my experience in India, they’re not either one of those things. They’re they you know, not that you have to be homely to be enlightened, there’s no,
Rick Archer: it just a cross section of how people tend to look. And you know, only only a handful are gonna be movie star types.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. And they may not even be very articulate about what they’re trying to communicate, they’re experiencing something. But they’re not going to tell you the snake and rope analogy right there. You know what I mean? They’re going to fall back on the sort of hackneyed analogies, they’re going to express it as, as we all do, right? We all you know, art is life as an art. And so you’re expressing the art of what you are. And every now and then you’ll meet someone who’s so incredibly beautiful, whether they are, you know, male, or female monk or not, Monk, or some of the village people for me, are so inspirational, their life is so simple. And they’ve had to face a very hard life. And that’s caused them to not take life for granted. And they fallen into this really beautiful, beautiful place. And even some of you know, I don’t want to run down swamis, because I’ve got some good friends that have swamis, Sunan, that I was talking about before, in my wife had this experience with him, too, when I took my wife to meet him, and my wife is no, you know, she’s not a mystical pickle, as we used to call them. She’s hard to impress. And she’s not even really particularly interested in quite frankly, she finds your spiritual growth in other directions. She’s an artist. I had to warn her when we were going to meet soon to non. He likes eye contact, but don’t make eye contact with him for very long. And what would happen with him, he didn’t meet many people, but when he did, he enjoyed the experience of pouring back and forth into each other’s being. And you could he would, he would pull you, you know, you would you would go into samadhi, whether you wanted to or not, if you if you just sat with him for a while, and made eye contact, you wouldn’t really even realize the process was going on. And he wasn’t really consciously doing it. He was just so profoundly in Samadhi that you got a contact high out of it, he would just be pulled into it if you weren’t already there, you know?
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a group here in town, it was all over the country called waking down started by Samuel bonder. And that gazing is part of their deal. And, you know, that seems to be quite effective actually, in helping to kind of transmit or enliven Samadhi in one another.
Dana Sawyer: I think I think that’s true. I think that that’s a very viable channel. It’s like, you know, think of romantic love poetry from the 18th and 19th century, the Romantics really believed there was you know, several primary doorways into the infinite one of them was like Henry David Thoreau time spent in nature John Muir, time spent to nature. Art was most definitely you know, if you’re thinking about Chopin or vogner, or Franz Liszt that you know, music was the doorway into the infinite, I’ve had that experience. I know you have yours. And and so also romantic love, that love between two people. You know, I make meaningful eye contact with my wife all the time. You know, I make meaningful eye contact with my nephews dog. You know, I think we really do see to the bottom sometimes, yeah, and each other.
Rick Archer: The eyes are the windows of the soul. Right?
Dana Sawyer: And we see, you know, we can see There’s something delicious about that, that we seem to be too. But when we see to the bottom of each other, we merge into that same one place. And so I see whether using it as a door. Now the thing is, you know, we create a kind of false idolatry. When we say, Oh, this works for me, therefore, it’s the path or, you know, and one of the things I always worry when I talk about the human mind being robotic, is if we’re drowning in the infinite every minute of every day. Well, right now, we’re drowning in the infinite. So are we seeing it that way? And if we, if we don’t, is it because, oh, later, I’m going to drown in the infinite, you know, when I look into Billy’s eyes, but right now, there’s no infinite available. You know, I think when we really do the work, then we don’t, do you see where I’m going with this is that I mean, if everything is coming out of the infinite, everything is a doorway back into the Infinite is, is the hope. So, you know, you can be looking in into eyes, and that is a viable path, you can be spending time in nature, you can be meditating, you can be swallowing snakes. If it’s a, if it’s something that you’re applying yourself to, with the right consciousness, then it becomes a powerful tool and a few, you know,
Rick Archer: I think in my experience, it just becomes more and more evident. I mean, if the infinite is infinite than there’s no place where it is not. And there is no thing in which it is not no circumstance, no experience in which it is not staring you right in the face. And, you know, as we sort of gradually or quickly, however, unraveled that robota system that you mentioned, then the the likelihood of, of having at least a taste of it at all times, be increases tends to continues to increase. And, you know, it gets to be more and more than just the taste as time goes on.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right, I couldn’t have said it better, Couldn’t have said it better. I mean, I think that’s, that’s it.
Rick Archer: And it’s important, I think, clarify one’s understanding of what it is that one is heading for if a person is on the path to enlightenment, because I know in this town, there are people who have built up sort of grandiose, fantastic notions of what it’s going to be. And since they don’t detect anything of that nature, in their own experience, they they feel that they must be a million miles away from it still, you know, whereas it’s, you know, it’s closer than your own breath. And if we can just sort of get more realistic, perhaps about what it actually is, then we it helps, it helps a lot in terms of noticing what the degree to which it’s already being lived.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah. Well, you know, I think that was the gift. Back in those early days when you and I met 40 years ago, this coming December, something that I had read so much Emerson and Thoreau and Aldous Huxley and all this stuff that you read, and you read, and you read about this idea of the infinite. But then as you got the gift of a particular technique, a particular path, as you’ve got the gift of different conceptual structures that could kind of, you know, point you to it. Oh, I thought that that was a deer, but it’s really a moose. You know what I’m saying that you had concepts that clarified your understanding of something you were experiencing? Like, you know, when you’re on a mountain, and you’re having that experience of profound timelessness, and you don’t want to be in the past, and you’re not thinking about the future. It’s so delicious. To just be in the moment. Yeah. Okay. That’s it. That’s it. You know, you’re walking on a beach with somebody you love, and there’s just this playful, wonderful deliciousness. Yes. Okay. That’s it, you know, this moment with chills running up your spine, where you listen to a symphony. Okay, that’s it. And I think that back in those days, that was the gift is to set all those experiences inside of a context of wow, you know, if I don’t drown in my thoughts, and if I don’t put all my attention on the future, if I do B or A now then I can, I can find some contact with that. And it says, as in I’m sure this is your experience, read that it is so comfortable, and so familiar. Like, you know, familiar, like your breath, you smell your own breath every minute of every day. And so you can’t smell your breath, but it’s right there. It’s always just there, they’re there. And you know that that’s the gift of those days, I think is to have somebody pointed out and say you know, this is it and and and no it’s not lightning bolts shooting out here. Your head, it’s not your ability to swallow snakes. And it’s not your ability to stop your heartbeat. And when I say it’s not that I mean, I’m really saying it’s not that to me inside of my view, because you know,
Rick Archer: that’s not a necessary criterion of it. That’s right. Maybe somebody who can do who’s enlightened can swallow snakes and maybe somebody who can swallow, there may be people who could swallow snakes who aren’t enlightened, but the two are not necessarily correlated.
Dana Sawyer: Exactly. And then the other piece of that, for me, for me, is that that ability to apprehend the absolute to, to be there to feel it to enjoy it is is not full spiritual maturity to me, right. I
Rick Archer: was gonna say that actually go ahead. And you might as well elaborate because your spine to a question I was going to ask
Dana Sawyer: full spiritual maturity to me is recognizing that there’s no such thing as full spiritual maturity, it’s really recognizing that the road is an infinite continuous flowering, inside of your individual moment of existence, that there will always be room for growth and room for insight, that, that that will never ever end. And there’s something very beautiful about it never ending you know, I like that. You know, I’m thinking of teachers that teach from that viewpoint, Euston teachers from that viewpoint, you know, that that I was talking with you once about Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. And he says, the need for self actualization is the most is the highest of all human drives that, okay, once we have food, we want to feel like we belong to people, and we have a drive for self respect, and so so on so forth. But then ultimately, we have a drive for self actualization. But he points out in his description of what self actualization is. And he interviewed dozens of people that he felt were self actualized, including all this Huxley was that inside of their viewpoint, the journey never ended, that the self actualized realize that self actualization is never complete. It’s an ongoing process that goes on and on and on. So I think very often, we might say, Oh, I’m going enlightenment is this, and I want to meet that criterion. And I think that sad, I think it’s sad, because there’s something there’s always going to be something richer to discover inside of one’s growth that, okay, I’m experiencing the the feeling that the Infinite is looking over my shoulder all the time. Okay. What’s that doing for the growth of my heart? What’s that doing for the reduction of my ego? What’s that doing for my divisionary imaginative capacity of my mind? To imagine other ways that we could live and transcend global warming and climate? You know, fix these? Sure. So there’s so many, there’s so many avenues for growth there to sort of say, Oh, well, you know, that was fun. And now I’m here and
Rick Archer: yeah, interesting. As you were speaking, I was kind of reminded of Eckhart Tolle a because he’s so effective at just talking people into a state of presence, and enabling them to appreciate that, you know, what is here right now is, is what you’re looking for this is it, you know, and they’re there. And so there’s great value in that. And there are some teachers, however, who, you know, sort of conclude that an appreciation of the now or appreciation of the present moment, or of the kind of the ever fresh aliveness of each moment, is all there is, is all that enlightenment actually is, you know, and that that’s what all these guys have been talking about. And, and they and they sort of concluded, okay, well, I’ve got it, then this is it, I’m done. And to me, that’s sort of a I mean, it’s, it’s a short, shortchanging themselves. And it’s also a little bit lazy.
Dana Sawyer: I see it though, too. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And, you know, getting back to the old paradox, where there’s no conflict between appreciating that, you know, this presence that we dwell in now is, you know, is what we’re looking for, and yet, you know, seeing infinite room for growth, you know, I mean, that may seem paradoxical, because, you know, I mean, there’s some teachers who say, give up the search, you know, just relax. And yeah, you can do that you can, I mean, I don’t have the sense of searching that I used to have, which was sort of a craving of, oh, I’m not anywhere near where I want to be. I can’t wait till I get there. You know, now there’s, I feel like I’ve given up the search, but at the same time, I feel like there’s an infinite road ahead of wondrous sort of possibilities. To floor and to unfold,
Dana Sawyer: we’ll see I would see that Rick is is a much more sophisticated spiritual maturity than the person who’s simply witnessing continuously. You know, I’m saying, Yeah, I really would I really do. I mean, I think that’s a huge insight when you get to the place of, yeah, don’t let your ego metastasize to that cup. And
Rick Archer: we always said about this shining bad here.
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, I think about teachers and, you know, teachers like Baba free, John and others later, yeah, go ahead. Okay. But you know, what I’m saying where the, you know, I believe he probably was having a continuous experience of cosmic consciousness. But, boy, the ego swole, up to the size of the infinite read along with the rest of him. And, you know, I hate to denigrate anybody’s teacher, and I’m sure somebody got something out of those teachings. In fact, a couple of those books were absolutely fantastic.
Rick Archer: They were Daniel bonder, that I refer to earlier, who’s the founder of waking down was one of free John’s closest disciples for a couple of decades. And he was like, the, you know, he, he edited all those books and published them, and, oh, he was his right hand, man. And he ended up, you know, leaving eventually, and was sort of regarded as a heretic for having left and ended up, you know, blossoming into a very profound awakening himself after having left. But, you know, despite the screw Enos of that whole scene, you know, something really good came out of it, at least in this guy.
Dana Sawyer: Right, right. Right, right. And that certainly happens, then.
Rick Archer: We don’t have to, you know, I wouldn’t want to sort of recount a laundry list of all the things that this guy was up to Baba free, John, you can look on the internet and find it. But I interviewed somebody towards the beginning of this series, who was also a student of his. And, you know, she she said, you know, he was a great tantric. And I didn’t want to sort of spoil the occasion by by sort of getting into all this stuff. But to me that kind of a, that’s sort of a, what’s the word? Not an alibi? What’s the word, you know, just a capo word to excuse? What, by any normal standards is atrocious behavior? Yeah. pedophilia. Yeah, all kinds of stuff, and you wouldn’t believe it, drugs and just the whole, you know, and I’m sure it would also make genuine contracts, you know, shutter in their shoes to hear what’s different themselves compared to this. But in this whole idea of Crazy Wisdom that teachers can do all sorts of really weird, abusive, unacceptable by sort of normal social standards stuff, and chalk it up to, you know, being on attached to the relative or being a Crazy Wisdom master. Really, for all my liberal open mindedness does not sit right with me, you know, I really feel like there’s some screws loose, and as you say, you know, they may have a very profound level of experience, but it obviously doesn’t correlate tightly with any sort of human development. And for them, I would think, growth will necessarily take the form of, you know, really getting the other half of their life together, you know, the, the relative personality and morals and all sorts of stuff like that.
Dana Sawyer: That’s right. And I you know, and I couldn’t agree with you more is that, you know, somebody might be having an experience of witnessing regularly and yet, they can’t go to Thanksgiving because they always are very upset by their experience with their family or something like this, that
Rick Archer: Well Ram Dass said that, he said, if you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, right. And I think that’s it, I think that have you done the work on the level? You know, I even remember back in the time when I first started meditating, I really saw it you know, as a, you know, naive 19 year old, okay, I’m gonna outrun all my problems that all these issues of insecurity and complications with my relationship with my father and all that, okay, well, I’m just gonna it meditate and I’ll reach enlightenment and all that will dissolve and none of that will be in my mind anymore. And I go,
Rick Archer: you were actually taught that because that’s right. When we taught TM, we said this is simple solution to all problems. You don’t, water the root to enjoy the fruit. You don’t have to worry about dealing with specific, you know, relative matters. All you have to do is introduce the transcendent. It’ll sort of nourish and infuse itself into a whole tree of life and all your problems will be solved.
Dana Sawyer: And that’s right. That’s right. You know, $5, please. Yeah, a little more now. Right? Yeah. In that reminds me one time a friend came to visit us Who, and I won’t mention this person’s name, you know, claim claim to be having this enlightenment expect complaint claim to be completed, you know, fully, fully enlightened in every sense of that word. And they were sitting on our deck on a lake up in northern Maine. And loop we have a lot of loons in the summertime and loons make four primary calls. And this loon made a call and in the call, the response from the friend was, Oh, my God, that’s so beautiful. You know, I hope we get to hear that again. And my wife gave me this very meaningful look, because that was the the alarm call, oh, that was said about something. Yeah, that was the terrible danger call and, you know, warning each other. And it is beautiful on one level, and, and yet, that wasn’t the intent of the friend, they know him well enough to know what he meant. And you see where I’m set, what I’m saying is that there’s lots of knowledge and lots to learn and lots of compassion to develop. And, you know,
Rick Archer: Well, interestingly, this fellow Daniel bonder, who started waking down after having been with, you know, Adi Da for so many years, and then having his own awakening, the whole emphasis of that group is, it’s called waking down in mutuality. And by down they mean, sort of the embodiment of the awakening, they sort of feel like the awakening is the first stage. And then you have to embody that have to bring it into your life, you know, and make your life, you know, resonate, are aligned with that. And then the mutuality part is to get it resonating with your, you know, other people in your life. So that enlightenment is not just some kind of aloof thing and your relative life is divorced from that, or it’s rather something that permeates every, every dimension of your life.
Dana Sawyer: Hmm. Well, that’s, that’s noble. I mean, you know, in Mahayana, Buddhism, in Tibetan Buddhism, for example, wisdom and compassion go hand in hand. And how that plays out socially is they would say, you want to get over yourself or get yourself, get your ego under control, and have a more profound experience beyond the boundaries of individuality. That’s easy, start helping other people, that through compassion for others, you know that that becomes the sadhana that becomes the practice. And so by reaching out to others, and improving their conditions, one one is growing, you know, one is growing very quickly. So, you know, do we start by, when I get my house in order, then I’m going to go and help others. And then there are traditions that say, Well, no, no, I’ll start by helping. And, you know, I see joining the Sierra Club as a kind of yoga as a kind of sadhana. I see people, you know, Greenpeace is out there trying to save whales from being a harpoon, and put on himself and watch this show you watch Whale Wars. Yeah, right. That’s pretty incredible. And I, you know, I admire not only the courage, but the, the, you know, interspecies love that is going on there. So, you know, we’re, we’ve come back full circle to this idea that, you know, it’s all coming out of the Absolute, so everything is a path back into it. And, and, you know, I think it’s wonderful. If there is that added social peace. In this group that you’re talking about, I think that’s really wonderful that they’re saying, Well, we, you know, mutually we’re going to grow and support each other.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, I’m not a proponent for that group. But I just happen to mention it, because we were talking about Adi Da and how he was a case, such a extreme example of someone who seemed to have a profound inner development, but didn’t, you know, pan out on the outside. And it’s interesting that his primary student ended up, you know, forming a group in which, you know, that was his, that was the emphasis, you know, bringing the inner awareness into to bear to bear on outer life in all its aspects. Just kind of worked out. It seems like appropriate for him to have done that.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, I like your cat sock now, where you’re doing your yoga letting the cat in and Oh, can you see the cat from where yourself? No, but I can see the door opening.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s it. If now she comes up on my lap to Here you go. Everybody, this is an official member of Buddha at the Gas Pump.
Dana Sawyer: Alright, make eye contact with her. You know, you mentioned Tantra, Rick, and that’s such a poor excuse that gets played way too often. And I’ve heard it so many times. For a while I was doing a thing where when I would read tricycle magazine, or I would read Yoga Journal. You know enlightenment Magazine. I would act as a whistleblower sometimes not, you know, like, oh, Dana knows everything and he’s calling, you know, he’s claiming he knows these traditions better than everyone, I certainly don’t. But some traditions I do know, and I’m very familiar with, and I know quite a lot about tantra. And there have been groups who have tried to create these weekends, where we’re going to teach you how to have better sex and, you know, more loving partnerships, and that has nothing to do with Tantra, even remotely. It really has nothing to do with that, it’s really much more like, okay, you know, referencing our conversation, if everything comes out of the Absolute, then everything comes out of the infinite and it is part of the one design. So that means death is part of it. That means that feces is part of it. And so whenever we turn up our nose to any aspect of it, were making, you know, the divisions are in the mind, the divisions aren’t in, in reality. And so the tantric is saying, Okay, I’m going to, you know, if you think about American gurus getting back to that, they’re often backlit, you know, they’re very good looking, and they’re backlit and have this big halo of light. And, you know, some kind of pretty colored robe on and all that. And in India, there are a lot of tantric Sadducees, like the Naga bhavas, who will smear themselves with the ashes of the dead. And they sleep in the smashing grounds, you know, the, the cremation ground. And so they, they wash with ashes of the dead, and they sleep and use skulls for pillows, and they’re really saying, I’m, I’m training myself, to overcome my my fear of death, a part of that is my attachment to the illusion that death isn’t part of life. And so that piece of it, in that piece of it, that I’m going to learn to control my desire to such a point, where like, Shiva, even during sex, I had transcended attachment, and, and owning my own being in the center of what I am. It’s not about having fun.
Rick Archer: You know, that’s the way it gets distorted, because people sort of feel like, okay, well, if the absolute isn’t everything, then I can just do everything, I can take all these drugs, and I can sleep with my students while you know, wives, and I can, you know, do this, that and the other thing, and it’s all just, I’m just sort of exploring various expressions of the Absolute. So there’s, you know, just any sort of sense of morality is thrown out the window.
Dana Sawyer: Well, what happens is, then what is telling the truth and a lie at the same time, and the truth is, from the level of the Absolute, there is no consequence, from the level of the you know, from the level of the unchanging being, then there is no consequence in any action, ultimately, how could there be right, it’s right, but, but then there’s then there’s life down here, you know, in the world, also. And there are consequences to actions and they’re and they can be profound, and they can be very damaging. Yeah. To not enter, try to, you know, confuse a knife. Exactly, exactly. The fuse levels are appropriate, an entire really beautiful sadhana, like Tantra and to say, I’m going to use this for my own personal gratification, like you know, Hey, baby, come on up from my place. Show you by Tantric Yoga, you know,
Rick Archer: but um, did you feel that you know, the Naga Baba is that you met were most of them, you know, genuine and making genuine progress. I mean, I interviewed a lady a few weeks ago who spent a lot of time in India and she had befriended a young Naga Baba there and she felt like 95% of them were just you know, heavy duty potheads and weren’t really you know, making a lot of spiritual progress and you know, maybe only a small portion where the real article
Dana Sawyer: yeah I pushed it up more to 99% maybe but but I have met Naga Baba is that you know, and again, I don’t have anything like the gold standard you only you know, you go by the experience you have with the person. But I remember once Naga Baba is will when they’re traveling, make a fire called a Dooney. And they’ll sit intend that fire and they’ll often smoke hashish in the mountains as much to sort of moderate their feeling of being cold. You know, it’s it’s part of that and it’s also part of a sadhana for the ones that are doing it seriously. And can I find my way to being inside inside of this? I mean, God just sacred to Shiva. So in their mind, it’s a sacred, you know, experience To be stoned, and I remember it, you know, there’s their view. If you go to Banaras in the afternoon, on a hot afternoon, it’s impossible to find any kind of alcohol or cold beer. But there’s lots of bond lassi, you know, lots of that. And everybody is you’re just all over the city, you can be intoxicated here. And yet everybody is taking bagasse because it’s sacred Shiva Banaras. This is his city. But anyway, just just finishing that thought, I remember sitting around the fire with this Naga Baba one night and having one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had with another person, you know, you could profoundly sincere on a viable spiritual path. Interesting. Must have had good teachers. Yeah, they feel types.
Rick Archer: So just we won’t go on too much longer. Cuz I know it’s getting late for you. But what what did you What have you taken away from your whole India experience? I mean, you’ve been there 12 times you’ve been doing? You’ve been interviewing all these guys, what have you done with that written articles? I mean, are you getting funded to go over there by your university? And if so, what are they getting out of it? What what is the sort of like practical distillation of, of all this Indian travel that you’ve been doing?
Dana Sawyer: You know, there, it’s a whole world wreck. I mean, there’s so much there. I mean, after 30 years and loving the country so much, my wife and I intend to retire there. Okay, that’s how much we love India. So you know, it’s music and it’s food. And it’s friends and it’s particular cities that I like, and we like to hike and, you know, beautiful mountain scenery and, and all that sort of stuff. I don’t know if I could, you know, distill it into one one simple thing. I I do very much enjoy the spiritual life of India. I love to go to temples. You know, I was never sort of a god with a face kind of person. You know, Rama Krishna used to say when people come to visit him, do you like to talk about the sacred with form or without form? And then whatever they said, that’s where he would go, you know, because he loved both. And I’ve come to really appreciate, you know, chanting Kyrgyzstan in the evening and, you know, sitting with people in a temple and watching the life of the temple, the big temple cities in South India Chidambaram. minox, the Meenakshi Temple and modernI is a place that everybody should see one time in their life. I mean, if you’re a spiritual seeker, then you can bypass the Taj Mahal and go right to the MyTaxi temple and monitor AI and, you know, really see what you’re looking for in my, in my personal opinion. So you know, the accessibility of more of that kind of experience is certainly, you know, what lowers?
Rick Archer: One point I want to make about India is I have a friend who, I don’t know if he’s actually even listened to any of these interviews I do. She lives here in town, but she often criticizes me for kind of making a big fuss about people whom she considers to be real newbies on the spiritual path, even though they may be reporting a profound spiritual awakening and even as an abiding one. And you know, she’s always kind of looking to examples of Yogi’s and saints in India as being the real article. And, and my feeling is that, you know, enlightenment is not an Indian thing. I mean, Indian culture is very familiar with it, just as Eskimos have lots of words for snow, but it’s really universal thing. And there’s no reason why somebody in a suit and tie, you know, or working in a business or something shouldn’t actually be in just as legitimately enlightened the state of consciousness as some guy who has all the trappings of Indian spirituality. Would you agree with that? And have you met people in the West that you feel are just as significantly enlightened to use a word I don’t like to use as people in the east that you’ve met?
Dana Sawyer: Well, you know, if we if you know, it all pivots on the definition of this word enlightened. But if we go back to the word I prefer spiritual maturity, then spiritual maturity. Yes, definitely. I’ve definitely. You know, I would say there’s pretty even split there. Yeah, there are people in our culture, who I think are very, very far along. I remember having a well you know, because of doing interviews all the time for the Huxley book and the Houston Smith book, you know, I’ve had long conversations with Deepak Chopra and Andrew Harvey and Pico wire and ROM das and Stanislav Grof, and Joan Halifax, Roshi, and, and you know, my hat’s off to all of them. I mean, I see profound insight that is is in several of those cases, in most of those cases, the equal of anything I’ve seen in India, you know? Yeah, yeah. So I think you’re absolutely right that the people that are hungry for it, you know, the hungriest for the growth, find their way to the growth, or, and it isn’t only hunger, it can be, you know, a path of beauty. Because I teach at an art college, I’m constantly meeting artists in their 40s, and 50s. And I’ll hear them talking about in 60s and 70s, and 20s. And they’re talking about their artwork. And as they start talking about it, and their experiences that are triggered through through art, I think, wow, in a different Idiom, where, you know, you’re talking about the spiritual path, that you know, you the, the beauty of work, and the aesthetic interest that you find in art has led you into the infinite. And you’ve gone through that door that romanticism postulated and whether the art is romantic or not. And so I totally agree with you. I think this spiritual maturity is everywhere.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and not only east and west, but South. I mean, if you look at African, certain African cultures, or South American cultures, or whatever, you’re going to find it there too. Yeah, Australian
Dana Sawyer: aborigines have a really amazing spiritual tradition.
Rick Archer: And but somehow, for me, maybe you can divest me of this notion, or maybe not, but somehow for me, when I speak of spiritual maturity, or spiritual development, I have the notion that it doesn’t just mean that you’re sort of a really sensitive, integrated person, but there must be some kind of tapping into our connection with that with universal awareness, which, you know, transcends all persons and cultures that, that that is sort of the the litmus test of, of spiritual development, that somehow that dimension has been, you know, brought to awareness. And then, and hopefully has begun to impact that expressed aspects of your life. Do are we on the same page with that?
Dana Sawyer: I think, to some extent, you know, Beethoven often talked about his experiences of the infinite and eternal, and he could be a jerk on other occasions. And, you know, I tend to see spiritual maturity is something beyond simply that experience of the transcendent. I, you know, I think it’s a wonderful, beautiful thing.
Rick Archer: I agree. That’s how I’ve been saying that it’s so much because you can be a jerk and have the transcendent Bloods, right. But and but you know, if we think of the whole package 200% of absolute and relative development, would you but would in your lexicon, would you say a person can be really spiritually developed and yet not have that transcendent dimension?
Dana Sawyer: I would, I would. And I say that because I’ve met people who are profoundly compassionate toward others, and not to feed their ego, they have a profound compassion, and out here in the world of physical being, that is very valuable. You know, we live in a world of other beings and other people, and like I said, before, they’re just as sacred. They’re not sacred light, they’re just as sacred they are the infinite, the absolute in my way of thinking and experience, they are expressing itself and moving around, and, and so to to, and so that compassion I see is a more critical piece, I would see transcendence of ego and compassion as more as better rulers of spiritual maturity than the experience, you know, that inner experience of the eternal, you know, that’s my two cents like, let me finish the thought, in Hinduism, in the sect of the goddess worshipers, the chakras, then, you know, they believe that the world is a conjoining of male and female energy at every level. So there timetrax And so, healthy life is the conjoining of male and female energies inside of your body, and your chakras, and in your relationships and in every level of nature, and that the physical world is feminine, that its charge at every level is feminine, and that the absolute, the Brahman, in Hindu traditions, is a masculine energy is masculine. And so the physical world you know, property, which is a feminine noun, you I’m sure you’ve heard that word property nature, yes. But is mother nature it’s a feminine charge. And the in Shakti is another feminine noun. And so Shakti is the energy of God. And so Brahman is God and God’s own being And that’s masculine. But Shakti is God alive and moving and awake. And their viewpoint is orchid, I can use that. But the flat God laying there, I can’t really use it. I want the lively Shakti one. And so that’s what makes them goddess worshippers and Goddess devotees. They’re not denigrating the Brahmin, they’re not denigrating the turtle. in its pure form, they happen to like the eternal when it’s moving around. Yeah, and, and I think that since we live in a world of beings, that has come to be the yardsticks for measuring growth that I that I tend to prefer,
Rick Archer: at least it’s er stick that you can see, you know, and, and measure because it’s more manifest, it’s more obvious. You know, that upon Ashad, where it talks about two birds sitting on the self, same tree, and, you know, one protected the fruit and the other doesn’t, and I forget, which upon show that is, but it’s it’s said to represent, you know, the absolute relative, the witness, the Silent Witness, their friends, but one eats the fruit and is more active than the other, it just sort of sits there. I think that’s what it’s meant to represent. And I guess the question I was getting at is, you know, a person can, and people who have awakenings generally, most of the people I interviewed are a lot of people you hear these days, speak of, you know, really shattering the sense of being confined by an individual ego, and perhaps even not even being able to tech to detect one anymore. But, you know, even though they might have likes and dislikes, and, you know, and so on and so forth. They said they, they insist that there’s really no one home and that what they are, and more predominantly, if not entirely, is, is sort of an impersonal vastness. And so I guess what I was getting at is whether, you know, perhaps a person who is very kind and compassionate and loving, and so on, and so forth. Those might be just, you know, very laudable relative qualities, which are highly developed in them. But it but unless there’s the dimension of the, you know, the unmanifest, which is like the substratum of existence, then, then by, by definition, it’s a highly developed human state, maybe a self actualized state as Maslow would define it, but it doesn’t necessarily fit the term enlightenment, you know?
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, yeah. No, I can go with that. I mean, to think of, you’re kind of sitting in this, you know, marinating in your vastness. And then, you know, there’s some ego there is what I would say, I mean, could be, you know, that’s the place that I suppose that is
Rick Archer: a sort of a self gratifying kind of thing.
Dana Sawyer: Yeah, you know, I mean, you’re, you’re, you’re in sort of a tape loop of bliss. And that’s very enjoyable. But if there’s no ego in there, then some part of you some part of that, you know, if you’re really claiming to have transcended your individuality, I think, then there would be a, you know, think of the Dalai Lama, as someone who is very concerned about the problems of his people and the problems in the world and trying to build bridges of compassion between people. And, you know, it’s very pleasant on a sunny day to wake up in the morning and sit and have a cup of tea and look out at the mountains and, you know, again, sort of marinate in that list, but, but we can’t use it, you know, we need to have you come out and help and, and so, you know, that’s why I tend to think when you see the compassion, manifesting, even if it’s just, you know, like, just Shanti or Ganga Ji, wanting to share a beautiful experience they’re having with other people, and teaching as an impetus, right? There is a way
Rick Archer: of serving, it’s like Mother Teresa, for instance, you know, towards the end of her life, she admitted that she really, you know, was assailed by doubts and didn’t have a whole lot of profound subjective experience, you know, but then look at her life, you know, unbelievable. So, there must have been something really profound happening inside to have given expression to such a life. So maybe she was just so humble that she didn’t recognize it and maybe she was very much tapped into, you know, universal awareness and, you know, the, the divine consciousness which wants to infuse itself into into the world and she was a profound, powerful channel for that.
Dana Sawyer: I’m just I think you’re I think you’re exactly thinking aloud. Her, you know, may
Rick Archer: have just been her humility that caused her to feel like she was a chump.
Dana Sawyer: I think I think that’s true. I mean, I feel like a lot of times I will Because when Ken Rinpoche this Tibetan lama that you were talking about the abbot of the Panchen Lama was monastery, when he first started coming to New England to give teachings, he gave a teaching, I took a bunch of students of mine there 20 years ago. And he really was struggling with his English. And he said he was from Ladakh. And I thought, well, he might know Hindi. And I came up to him afterwards, and talk to him in Hindi, you know, asked him how he was doing where he was staying, and we kind of glommed on to each other, because there aren’t a lot of people to speak to in Hindi in Maine. And so, you know, we were talking and I ended up teaching with him, and people will come to him a lot, you know, and, and, you know, you’ve seen this kind of experience when you’re around marishi, sometimes people will come to them, and they feel like, because he’s making eye contact, and they can see what he is, they feel like he’s looking into their soul, and he’s judging them, and it’s really them judging themselves. And they’ll start crying, you know, they’ll have this big release and feel like they need to apologize for all the mistakes that they’ve made. And, and there’s something there’s something very beautiful about it. But then other people will come sometime and oh, you know, I’m not very far along the path. And I’m doing my best and, you know, I’m good to my family. And, and they’re sort of apologizing for not being very far along. And I can tell by the way he’s treating them that Oh, no, he’s he’s really recognizing some stages of development in them, that they themselves really aren’t aren’t noticing, you know, it’s like, I think it was Emerson that said, it was something like this, like Emerson was saying he wasn’t very far along in his growth or something. And, and one of the other transcendentalists said, what you are, is shouting so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying. You know, it’s good. And I really liked that, you know, that every now and then I think people are something I’m, you know, colossally beautiful. And, and they’re not really honoring how far they’re their growth is of much of spiritual maturity they’ve accumulated.
Rick Archer: And as Jesus put it, you shall know them by their fruits.
Dana Sawyer: Exactly, exactly. Exactly. You know, that’s where it’s got to get up on legs and walk around. And then, and then we find out.
Rick Archer: Well, that’s just about as good a place to conclude as any. So too, yeah, I’ve kept you up way past your bedtime. It’s great to see you, Rick. Yeah.
Dana Sawyer: This is the longest that we’ve talked in years and years and years. So I wonder how the
Rick Archer: longest we’ve ever talked. Oh, God, I was always kind of blowing into Danbury and snowstorm and teaching, you know, 30 people, and while you were having a party in the next room, and then racing back down to fair,
Dana Sawyer: some of those nights, but also remember sitting up till about three o’clock in the morning, figuring out how we’re going to change the whole world. Good, was all going to happen. And, and that that’s, you know, I celebrate those days. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Well, let’s stay in touch. I’ll conclude this, this interview by just reminding people that you’ve been watching or listening to Buddha at the Gas Pump. And there are a number of places where you can watch or listen to this. So if you want the mothership, go to batgap.com Bat gap. And there you’ll find all of them archived, as well as links to YouTube and Facebook and podcasts and, you know, other ways in which you can add a chat group and, and so on. And in fact, speaking of chat groups, Dana’s have Dana’s interview up in a day or two, and there’ll be a place where you can make comments. And if you have a question for Dana, I’ll alert him to the fact that you’ve posted a question, and if he has the time, he’ll come in and answer it.
Dana Sawyer: And if you have an answer for Dana Yeah. You could add that to that, too.
Rick Archer: So great. Thank you, and we’ll see you next week.