Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the guest 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 when I was teaching Transcendental Meditation in Connecticut and I came to Dana’s college in Danbury, Western Connecticut State College. I instructed Dana there, and we have been in touch on and off ever since, while Dana has moved on to do all sorts of interesting things. I’ll read part of the bio from his Wikipedia page here and then maybe Dana can any important gaps I left out Dana is full- time professor of religion and philosophy at the Maine College of Art and is an adjunct professor of Asian religions at the Bangor Theological Seminary. He’s the author of numerous published papers and books including Aldous Huxley, a biography, which Laura Huxley, his second wife, described as, “out of all the biographies written about Aldous, this is the only one he would have actually liked”. Dana has been involved in fundraising activities for the Siddhartha School Project in the village of Stok, in Ladakh, India, for more than 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 at lectures for, and teaching with, the school’s founder, Geshe Lobzang Tsetan, who is currently the abbot of the Panchen Lama monastery in Mysore, India. Sawyer’s interest 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 Berry Center for Buddhist studies in Barre Massachusetts, 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 Stanislaw Groff, Andrew Harvey, Huston Smith, Laura Huxley, Stephen Cope and Alex Gray. He has been to India times. And I believe you speak fluent Hindi, don’t you?
Dana: Yeah. John Nehe. [laughter]
Rick: Chalo, chalo.
Dana: Oh, good.
Dana: That’s the most important word to know.
Rick: The only one I know. He was most recently in India while on sabbatical during the winter and spring of , and has traveled extensively throughout the subcontinent in Nepal, Pakistan, Sikim, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and Japan. And then there’s more and it goes on. I think that gives you a taste of what Dana has been up to. And if you want, I’ll read the last bit. If you think it’s important, do you?
Dana: Oh, I don’t even know what it says.
Rick: It’s about your academic work in universities and things here and there. And then you’ve written a bunch of publications and books and won some awards, and so on and so forth.
Dana: That’s right, goodness, see what you started when you gave me that mantra?
Rick: Yeah, you would have been a ditch digger otherwise.
Dana: Yeah, probably.
Rick: Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Dana: Oh, more noble work maybe?
Rick: Yeah. [ Laughter ] 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 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 has been told a number of times on this show. Although, you know, my response was that perhaps when we cover certain points, maybe something in your subjective development as it has occurred over the years would help to illumine those points or give credence to why you’re making a certain point. To start the interview, I’ve been reading a book by Elaine Pagels lately, entitled Beyond Belief, which is about early Christianity. As I was reading it, I started to formulate what I’d like to ask as the first question. It’s going to be more of a statement than a question. I’ll try to ask it as concisely as possible and then let you run with it.
Rick: Not claiming that you’re an expert on early Christianity. But as I read the book, I was struck by how much of human endeavor revolves around the effort to alter our subjective experience. And also, squabbles about that subjective experience if it can’t properly be verified and is left to a matter of belief or faith. In fact, in early Christianity, a great deal of this went on. The early church was trying to establish itself and meanwhile, there are terrible persecutions taking place, torture and murder of early Christians. And then they began squabbling among themselves over various interpretations of what Christ actually taught and so on. And there was this guy named Irenaeus And there was this sort of tussle between, kind of good Freudians, there was 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 represented by Irenaeus, who tried to objectify the whole thing more and say personal experience is very misleading and suspect and heretical and we really should just codify this group of this doctrine and then stick to it and banish everything else. And he pretty much won out and that’s how the New Testament was formed, especially the Gospels. And expanding on this notion, I mean, then look what’s happened over the last couple of thousand years. Hundreds of millions of people have been murdered in various ways and wars and whatnot. Basically over the notion that, my God is better than your God, even though neither one of us can verify the existence of our respective gods, but I’m going to kill you anyway. Because mine’s better than yours. And then taking it one step further, (then I’ll let you run with it). Another major way in which we put a lot of effort into subjective experiences, is the whole realm of drugs, both legal and illegal. And what we do in the billions of dollars we spend in the civil war taking place in Mexico and all that, over the burning human desire, apparently, to alter our perspective through whatever means, to change the way we see the world. So you can see this is a little bit of a dis-jointed 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: That’s a lot. So many ideas crowd into my mind. First of all, human beings have such a rage for certainty, and they have such a rage for certainty because they feel so uncertain. And that’s what the historical record of all cultures show. And 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.
Rick: There’s that great Sufi story about God and Satan are 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 asks, “Oh, 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”.
Dana: And if you think about in the early Christian church, there was such a movement among certain groups like the Pauline Christians as opposed to the Gnostics who Pagels writes about much more, who, as you say, they wanted to objectify it. Like “Okay, how can we create a kind of flow chart of certainty?” And so they created this very strict apostolic succession, similar to 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 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, well, I I know who I am, 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 some little man behind a curtain or some giant infinite void just out of reach and the Gnostics 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 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. Aldous Huxley says people will unfortunately do drugs, heavy drugs, or sex or porno or something like that because they don’t even realize they’re searching for transcendence. They’re searching for wholeness, but they do get themselves 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 displaced yourself for a while, but there was no growth and you come back to spinning your wheels. And I think there’s some sense to that in my experience.
Rick: Yeah. I had that realization the last time I took LSD, I was sitting there reading a Zen book and 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 upward, to use a metaphor. But in other words, you can’t blot it out. You can’t blot out the reality and hope to actually escape because you’re only going to have to face it again, perhaps even more painfully. And so I just had this sense that, well, evolution, is getting more and more clear, more and more not trying to hide in any way, but sort of uncovering deeper and deeper realities, that would be the way to actual happiness and freedom.
Dana: Yeah, yeah. You know saying that in a slight disagreement with your point, I’m writing this biography of Huston Smith right now and Huston was very close with Timothy Leary and Ram Das when Ram Das was still Richard Alpert at Harvard and Huston 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 can stick your axe in your foot with or you can cut a tree down and split your firewood. His viewpoint is for someone to say that psychedelics are unequivocally 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 would just want to add that hiccup at the end that maybe the way they’re often used in American culture as a way of sort of getting yourself blown away instead of being set inside of a cultural milliure where there are lots of reference points on how to channel that experience in a more positive direction. You know, sometimes.
Rick: Oh, I totally agree. In my own case, it was a real eye opener the first time I did psychedelics. You know, I realized, holy mackerel, there is a whole subtle world here that I didn’t realize existed. And everything depends on how you perceive the world. It’s not just how you rearrange the objects out there. It’s how you shift your whole orientation to the world, it’s what is important. But after a year of doing that, I was getting to the point where I pretty well fried my brain. And I realized it wasn’t getting me anywhere to continue in this direction and I needed to sort of do something more wholesome to move on.
Dana: Yeah, Alan Watts said something like, “When you get the message, hang up the phone”.
Rick: Right, good point.
Dana: Right. You know, once you get that there is a world beyond your everyday consciousness, then there are better tools.
Rick: Right, exactly. Now let’s talk about certainty for a second since you brought it up a minute ago. It’s interesting because when I first found out about enlightenment, I felt like that was something that was going to give me certainty. I was going to have a sort of a rock solid grip on reality, know anything I wanted to know with certainty, no more equivocation. This whole academic thing that there are no absolutes, everyone’s perspective is as as good as anybody else’s. I didn’t like that at all. And I felt like, you know, 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. Dava And how did that work out?
Rick: Not at all actually, but that’s okay. 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. To me that means that if you really sort of expand it or unbounded or awake or whatever you want to call it, you can’t find solace or certainty or 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 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: The Certs paradox, that’s good. (Certs was a popular mint advertised in the s and s that stated it was “two mints in one”)
Rick: 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: Right, that’s right, that’s right. You raised so many interesting points there. 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. People will remember Maharishi’s story about the man wearing the 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.
Rick: yeah you’d of thought it would weigh him down
Dana: 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 confronts us as a Rorschach Ink blot almost like man has no place to put his head down, but that there’s such wonderful opportunity in that 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.
Rick: Then I wouldn’t have all these books behind me and you wouldn’t have all those books behind you right? I think, that it’s not so much a search thing as a flowering thing for me now. I almost sort of like the perpetual intellectual confusion, you know, sort of, you know, convictionally impaired. Rick&That’s good.
Dana: When it comes to theories about it, whether it is life or some profound experience that you have and how do you explain it and appropriate it. I think a lot of times the poets come closer and someone like Rumi nails it down a lot more than somebody like Dana Sawyer writing books that don’t really get at it.
Rick: I heard Nisargadatta quoted recently as having said that a good measure of enlightenment is the degree to which you’re comfortable with paradox and ambiguity
Dana: I think that’s brilliant I really do. You know I’m reminded, I’ve been doing these interviews with Huston Smith for the biography. He has an incredible incredible presence Rick. My wife, when he calls me, she says “Gods on the phone” And I was talking with Michael Murphy, one of the two founders of the Esalen Institute, And Michael said, “yeah, you know, Dana, at Esalen over all these years, we’ve only had about five presenters that really glow in the dark.” And one of them is Houston Smith. And at the same moment, Houston is very much in this place of, you know, I don’t wanna call it uncertainty, it’s not really that, it’s kind of a delicious embrace of mystery. Not sure why we characterize it.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, it’s worth dwelling on this certainty and uncertainty point for a bit more because if you think of it, as I alluded earlier to all the wars and the killing that’s taking place in the name of religion, that wouldn’t have happened if people hadn’t been so cock-sure of their particular perspective. I mean, you have to be pretty darn sure of 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 are some Quran’s in there?” And the other guy said, “What do we care?” They would know, right?
Dana: There was a philosopher in the th century named Edmund Husserl, and he was a primary influence on Martin Heidegger and other philosophers 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 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?
Rick: Subliminally, maybe
Dana: Subliminally, maybe, 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 Drivers Ed you learned to select the road, right? You’re driving so “select the road”, yeah the kids are beautiful out on the street, but look back at the road very soon. And so we become very robotic in our actions. And we become robotic in our selection preferences of what we put our attention on. And we become robotic in 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.
Rick: Right. That’s why I don’t like school.
Dana: Yeah, especially if you don’t like school. 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 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 “a book” and he waived 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 “a book fan” and he said “No” and he threw it on a 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 there run in with books over their head, he had seen that. And this went on for ten minutes. And then finally he 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, now we’re getting somewhere”. Now, to tie Husserl into Aiken, Husserl 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 culture’s viewpoint that we see the world through a lens of concepts and interpretations that are blinding us 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 influenced by a philosophical viewpoint, and 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’re in trouble on two levels. One, we can become way too dogmatic to interact with others in a peaceful playground kind of way. And then two, we shut ourself off from so much beauty and so much nourishment, true nourishment. If the mind could settle down more, then the spirit can loom out more, loom forward. And I think that’s what they miss is that (I don’t want to pick on anyone but I think) George Bush Jr. didn’t realize when he was calling the evil doers that it’s uh… it’s a matter of perception and that if he had been born where they were he would have had their perspective and if they had been born where he was they would have his perspective. There’s a blindness that comes to us when we don’t realize that perception isn’t passive. I remember one more story I want to share quickly. Husserl made some phony playing cards, if I am remembering this correctly, and he would play cards with a friend of his and he would say “Frits, what is that card?” and Frits answered back “that’s the Ace of hearts” “is it? look at it” Frits answered back “well I’m looking right at it and yeah, its the Ace of Hearts” “Well if you look closely you’ll see it’s a red ace of spades” and Frits says “there is no red ace of spades” And Husserl answers back “well, there’s one” Just pointing out how the glasses of interpretation can become so glued on our face we can’t see the world anymore.
Rick: Maharishi used to give a lecture in which he said “routine work kills the genius in man”. But then he said, “Well, but routine work is necessary because for efficiency”, you have to learn how to do a thing and you have to do it over and over again. So he said, Well, the solution is if you have recourse to unboundedness and then alternate that with your work, then you can somehow break the confining shackles of routine, and be unbounded and yet at the same time be focused on the specific task that you may have to perform repeatedly. It kind of pertains to the point you’re making.
Dana: yeah I like that advice, I’m glad I didn’t hear that lecture before I had to memorize the checking notes.
Rick: Right, it wasn’t part of it So what would you say for instance about here in the united states these days? Commentators are lamenting how polarized we’ve become. We always were but it’s getting more extreme it seems. Republicans and Democrats can’t talk to each other. Republicans have to oppose everything Obama tries to do, 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 could take religious examples, specific issues like gun control or abortion or whatever else. People get locked into their perspectives. So what is the antidote to that?
Dana: Well, I think getting out of your own light is really the anecdote. I think that’s the antidote to that.
Rick: What do you mean by that?
Dana: Well, getting over that certainty. I mean you know we live in trouble 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 pluralistically An America based on Jeffersonian principles of democracy, not necessarily only being a Red Sox fan or a certain view of white Protestant America. And so that creates uncertainty and polarization. But the piece that I’m trying to get at, Rick, about getting out of your own light is that great Zen story, there’s a great Zen story about an old master, Chinese Zen, Chan, and the old master and the young master going up a trail, and I’ll try to make this short. They sit down to take a break, and the young master says to the old master, “Since we’ve got some time on our hands. What is heaven like?” And “excuse me”, he says, “What is hell like?” And the old master says, “Hell, oh, hell, 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 a banquet table and all these wonderful people around the table”. And he has to be stopped by the young monk who 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 yummy – Wow, you know that would be hell”. So the young monk says to the old monk, “okay, okay, so what about heaven? What would heaven be like?” and the old monk says “Oh, yeah heaven, okay, that’s the same thing, isn’t it? It’s a garden, with beautiful flowers, a big pavilion, silk curtains, a beautiful banquet, with delicious food and all these people around” and the young monk says “I don’t get it!” and the old monk says “Well in heaven you would remember that you could have fed the people across the table from you”.
Rick: Yeah Right, the Hindus have the same story.
Dana: Oh really?
Rick: Yeah, there’s a story where the gods and the demons for some reason had their arms like put in a splint, you know, so they couldn’t bend at the elbow and so they were unable to feed themselves because they couldn’t bend their arms. It turned out the demons all starved to death because they couldn’t figure out how to eat but the gods fed each other and so they survived.
Dana: And see, you know, are we gonna be gods or demons right? I mean, that’s the piece that I mean about getting out of our own light and we reach across the table Stephen Cope 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’ll often see people will transplant their old allegiances to Hinduism and Buddhism. 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 might have even heard this expression “Jubus” and have you’ve ever heard this?
Rick: I’ve heard of “Hinjews”! HinJews works But you know the point is that will we simply say I used to be a Christian and you guys were lost or I’m a Catholic and 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? That’s a real worry I think. So that gives us one hint at an antidote, which is that if we could somehow expose ourselves to viewpoints other than the one we’re already ensconced in, it might help us realize that other viewpoints are perhaps as valid as our own.
Rick: The way I look at it, I’ve been guilty of a little dogmatizm myself from time to time over the years. And even recently, I’ve listened to a lot of talks by Neo-Advaita teachers. There is this site called Urban Guru Cafe, and there are all sorts of followers of Sailor Bob Adamson whom you may have heard of.
Dana: No, I haven’t
Rick: And I listened to them with great interest ’cause these people are very articulate and clear and brilliant and so on, but I just came away with the feeling like, there’s something incomplete, there’s something missing. There’s this denigration of the sort of progressive, path-like nature. This tendency to sort of say, just realize that it’s all an illusion and there’s no one home, there’s no individual self, and you’re done. You don’t have to meditate, you don’t, gurus are all bunk. And so some of them talk that way. And I was sort of be-moaning that or criticizing it and so on. But 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. Might be exactly what they need to hear. Just as fundamental 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 there’s just so many different teachings and teachers and perspectives and so on. And no one of them is the absolute one that everyone should adhere to. They’re all just flowers in a garden of variety. and just enjoy them all and take what you need and leave the rest.
Dana: Yeah, that works for me. I mean, I certainly like the idea that there are multiple paths up the spiritual mountain. I 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 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 -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 extremist Judaism or extremist Christianity, then very often they’re really being taught to superglue those filters on their face and see the world only from one perspective and maybe even do harm to others. And then that’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 go to a meeting, I think. When I first left the Christian church after my teenage years, and you know, you remember those days in the s 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.
Rick: Took me years after I stopped smoking dope to not feel paranoid whenever there was a cop following me. (laughing)
Dana: That’s what we talked about, right? The Modern ability of the human. So then to be able to go back into a church and hear some beautiful choir music or some beautiful organ music or Gregorian chanting and really be able to really own that and sit with how beautiful it is.
Rick: Yeah, absolutely. wonderful, wonderful. 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 tend to mean, rigid, doctrinaire, very sort of close-minded. I mean, you can go places in the south where there’s some little church down the block, which feels like it’s the only one that got it, and it alone has the true teaching, and the other churches and everybody else in the world is off base. And then moving up the scale, you would find teachings and teachers that were much more inclusive and appreciative. And what I was getting at a minute ago is that people also fall along 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 resonates with their mentality, with their state of consciousness. And 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 everything move up the spectrum. But what I’m saying is that all is well and wisely put, and even that, offensive, fundamentalist, rigid teachings have their place in the big picture of things.
Dana: 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 here.
Dana: And now we go from here. There’s an esoteric teaching that comes out later when you’re really prepared for it and we’ll understand and take it properly. I think a way to just give a quick example of that is everybody’s seen the Tibetan prayer wheel and they call those physical supports like prayer flags or physical support. And you’re sitting around and… Yeah, it’s full of mantras and you’re repeating mantras by twirling it, right? And so that’s a good way to get people to sit down and they start to 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, and it’s just an obvious example, but there’s lots of places in that tradition. Kind of like training wheels on a bicycle.
Rick: That’s right. That’s right. So there’s sort of stages and initiations as you move along. Know that the kind of gear you need for that tree line on the spiritual mountains, is not the same gear you started out with. Started out in Teva’s (a brand of sandals), you know, and you know, sooner or later you could have a parka. Throw in Ice Axe’s! And extend that analogy, but you get to that. I think it’s very much like that.
Rick: Yeah, well the TM movement was that way too actually. Maharishi used to say the wise don’t delude the ignorant and you should just 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 if 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. There may have been some of that but I feel like the point you just made about the Tibetans as kind of being exercised there as well.
Dana: 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 who attended because their doctor recommended it for their heart condition and you know they had listened to the third night’s check-in meeting and kind of like – yeah whatever buddy.
Rick: Third night being the time when you talked about cosmic consciousness?.
Dana: That’s right. And that was 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 Oh, okay, so this pure consciousness is Samadhi. And pure creative intelligence is Brahman. And well, what’s the stress word?
Dana: Yeah, right. And samskara’s is another. Then I got so intrigued by that. All right, I don’t 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 just like we’re talking about the hunger for transcendence, 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: Meaning before you learned to meditate? Or afterwards?
Dana: Probably now, still. It’s very hard for the human mind to not sort of congeal.
Dana: And you have to keep breaking out of it. 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 the cracks let the light in, right? Whenever there’s cracks in a new theory, they’ll let some light into the room. So I think before I started TM and then after I was teaching TM for a few years, I was congealing. and needed it wasn’t like uh… denigrating what had happened or my viewpoint but wanting to continue to broaden.
Rick: Interesting I interviewed somebody a couple months ago who made the point that he felt that a couple thousand years ago there was a 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 there 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 to 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. What do you think about that idea that I just said and also about what is happening in the culture. Do you have any sense whatsoever where we’re headed? There does seem to be a greater and greater influx of spiritual interest 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: Yeah, well, you know, it’s funny you asked this question because I’m just now reading Phil Goldberg’s book on the American beta.
Rick: I was just thinking about Phil as I was asking that question.
Dana: Yeah Yeah And of course he’s very interested in that and I know he interviewed you for the book. And Phil is, you know, the sort of, his explanation I think really rings true for me, which is back in the s when the floodgates were open to Asian immigration, we got all these yogis 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 opening new ways of looking at things. And we’ve been through a very interesting growth curve in the last , 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, they’ve had so many millennia of dealing with fraudulent gurus and gurus that fall off the wagon. But there’s some, I don’t know, maybe the membrane fell out of the sky and landed on them and it’s thicker around them now. But they’re harder to dupe, they’re not as naive, they’re not as likely to believe they’re going to be enlightened in a few years. And I don’t think we were, but I think we are. I think Phil is right that the boomers now have grown and they’ve realized that spiritual maturity never comes easy. That’s the journey of it. It’s a complex process. We’ve arrived at a place where, 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.
Rick: Yeah. As a matter of fact, 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 Maharishi would sit there and point out why it was inferior. Right?
Dana: Yeah, Silva Mind Control.
Dana: That was one of them, Silva Mind Control. In an Indian accent “We don’t only want to control this Silver mine” I remember one time in Hawaii I was the SIMS president on campus
Rick: Students’ International Meditation Society – TM thing)
Dana: and they were gonna have a festival of different spiritual groups and so the Hare Krishna’s were there and the 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 Satchidananda and 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 s and I was in my s and I made eye contact with her and I had that amazing experience you have sometimes when you just sort of fall into each other’s emptiness and I had such an 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: Embarrassed the heck out of you right?
Dana: it was terrible it was terrible it was awful yet uh… and it was painful you know I mean emotionally painful to to go through that experience and uh… and of course I thought of the times that I probably did something like that you know one or two years ago.
Rick: Oh, me too, I cringe at some of the memories and you know it’s interesting because with spiritual groups One part of it is There’s this sort of ego gratification to think, “I’m on the best path. I must be so fortunate. I must have such good karma or something to have found the highest teaching in the world. Boy, aren’t I special. And all these other things, boy, they’re but for the grace of God, go I. I’m so happy that I have the true knowledge”, and variations on that theme. But there are a lot of spiritual groups, people who will talk in that very way. And in a sense, you know, like if you take the example of Maharishi University of Management, it actually hurts them more than helps them in my opinion. Because for instance, there have been a number of spiritual teachers who’ve come to Fairfield, Iowa, where that university is located, who’ve expressed sincere interest in the university and Shri Ma for instance, who’s a Hindu teacher you may have heard of her, was here and she actually 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 in the dome at that point and kicked her off campus. And then, you know, Gangaji was here and she wanted to take a tour of campus and asked if she could and was refused. You know, because there was 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 but they do have student and if the students are of college age they might very well have said go there, its a good place but instead of the impression that was made.
Dana: And Gangaji is even in the same Advaita tradition you know. So her viewpoint is very, very resonant with the viewpoint there, so there’s a real irony.
Dana: Yeah, there’s something really sad about that, I think.
Rick: And there’s something so enriching about the cross-fertilization of being more open and interacting and participating and discussing with people of various perspectives. And if you really are secure, I mean we talked about certainty in the beginning, if you really are secure in what whatever it is you’re doing it’s not going to be a threat
Dana: that’s right that’s right. I think you’re very right about that and 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, I mean I certainly had to when I got to india. You know when we’re talking about people being dogmatic it reminds me of one time in , I was doing a lot of writing on the Dandis. I would follow them around The Dandis are a sect of swamis in india. They are the most rudi wadi, the most orthodox sect of Hindu. You have to be a brahman to be a dundie 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. So I’m up there and following these guys around with cameras and tape recorders going to different monasteries and interviewing them every day crunching data for academic work. And one of these incredible incredible swamis and they’re not all incredible but this one happened to be. Sundenon was his name. He said “have you heard of this man swami rama” And I said, Yeah, I have heard of him. He’s from Honsdale, Pennsylvania, he’s got an American following. And he said, “He is now living in Triveni Ghat”, and Rishikesh is directly across the river from Maharishi’s old ashram. And so he said, You should drop in there because he used to be a Dundee and now he’s not. So I was interested academically and like why did he leave that order but still calls himself a Swami? So I went to the ashram and the chokidar and I got along really well, the guard and I got 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, you know he kept wanting to chat me up like – wow! some of them can talk! – and so I was talking to this guy and I asked if I could come in, and he got kind of a Uncomfortable. I could tell he was uncomfortable. And so this woman came and she was the course leader from Canada and they had a course there of maybe people. And she sort of read me 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 her that talking to Swami’s was what I did for a living and that I had talked to like seven already today. And 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 madder. If I disagreed with her I could only make her madder.
Rick: Why was she so mad? Because you thought you were presumptuous to be showing up at this important place and just expecting to walk in and get an audience? Was that a problem?
Dana: Yeah, I mean whatever somebody at MUM said to Gungaji was basically the load I got. You know that was what went on. 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. 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 Ram. And the Toki Dhar tells him I could speak Hindi. So he addresses me in Hindi and we start talking, Swami Ram 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 obsequiously left, but there was no apology or I’m sorry for having made you stand here and been unpleasant to you. You know, I think of that time that Muktananda and Maharishi made that very beautiful hug. I think there’s a really great example of that, and we’d be as open-minded. 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. And if we have grown, then we have to prove that by demonstrating it in our behavior and not following a flowchart of you know “correct action” quote end quote.
Rick: One thing I think that woman at Swami Rama’s place is evidence was that when people get into positions of authority their egos go crazy, at least at a certain stage of development, you can take a perfectly nice, reasonable person and put them in a position of authority and all of a sudden they become a Nazi.
Dana: Yeah, well, right. I think that’s true to some extent. That’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 finally get to the top of the heap. And their worst nightmare comes true, I think, in some cases.
Rick: So, let’s talk about India for a little bit. I mean, you’ve been there times and you’ve been interviewing all these Swamis. 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: Well, you know, probably a lot of the people who are listening to this have been to India. I don’t know how much time they’ve really spent there. I mean, my experience over all these years, years now of 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. I remember so many times where there would be a let-down. 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 advaita movements, when you’re witnessing waking, dreaming and sleeping, that’s the proof that you’re now enlightened, you’re bona fide, qualified, and finished in some sense. And in India you know to practice the siddhis to be able to manifest objects. You know, why Si Baba is still as popular as he is.
Rick: He’s a slight of hand artist. DanaL Exactly, and there’s so many of them in India.
Rick: And actually he’s not a good slight of hand artist. I’ve had magicians look at his thing you know friends of mine who are into magic and say, Well, he’s just an amateur, you know, I could be a lot better than that.
Dana: Yeah, 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 Si Baba, and it’s around American Easter time, and Si Baba manifests an Easter candy, and he’s passing it out to people, and the guy observes that the candy has passed its expiration date on the back of the candy. Which I think is awesome. You know, if you like these kind of stories, let me give you a really fun one. I started to get very familiar with the jadugars, the magicians, and the tricks that they were doing, and the tricks the Swami’s were doing. And so it would be like “Oh, I can stop my heart from beating, and I’m gonna go into samadhi, you take my pulse, and you’ll see that my heart is stopped” and I would say oh you’ve got a walnut 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 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 said “No, don’t give me money, I do not need any money” and this was kind of a new one for me because they tend to like money a lot. He said if he needed anything he could manifest it himself and I said really and he said yes. So he says “if I am thirsty” and he reaches up and he grabs his dreadlocks and he 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 you take a sponge, you fill it up with milk, you hide it in your dreadlocks, and then you squeeze it” and he got this kind of funny look on his face, and then he said “okay have you seen this one?” He didn’t even blink, he just went to the next trick, and thought to himself – maybe I’ll get him on this one. Okay, that was a goof, so you know, lots of those kinds of experiences.
Dana: you ever see anybody perform what you’ve considered to have been a genuine siddhi? No, I can’t say. I can’t say. I’ve thought about that a lot. I can’t say I have. Now I have seen. I have seen. amazing body control amazing amazing you know, how-to-yoga at a level most people can’t imagine. I can’t imagine. I saw a man in a marketplace one time in a bizarre holding up a snake, about a two and a half-foot long cobra and he said “look at this cobra” and so he’s grown this group of people around him and he was talking about Kundalini yoga, you know, the serpent power and others and he takes the snake and he sticks the head of the snake in his mouth and he ingests. This entire snake whole!
Rick: And it was alive?
Dana: Yes, it was a live snake!
Rick: Wow, I wonder what the snake thought about that?
Dana: 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 the lecture about the serpent power rising then he drank this glass of water, volume of water, and then he started doing this thing with his diaphragm. You could see him manipulating it. Pretty soon, he opens up his mouth and here comes the head of the cobra. And he takes this cobra, and he brings this cobra all the way out like I don’t know whether he was drowning the cobra with the water and his stomach cavity. and the snake found his esophagus enough that he could grab it? you know he’s regurgitated it first
Rick: And it was still alive?
Dana: And it was still alive, and I was close enough that he didn’t switch snakes or something.
Rick: I’ve seen them put it down their sleeve or something like that.
Dana: He wasn’t even wearing a shirt, he just had a lungi on. So I mean, that’s incredible right? I mean it’s absolutely amazing but…
Rick: I wonder if he does that like ten times a day in the market for the audiences? The snake is probably totally used to it by now
Dana: So right, they’re in cahoots!
Rick: It’s fed well and figures it’s a good gig!
Dana: So what he’ll do is he’ll have a ring on his finger, often these guys do and they’ll say, ” I can do this and I don’t ever get bit because of the power of Calima, and so this ring is protecting me and 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 some country bumpkin will say “you know my mother is dying, I could really use that ring” and so he’ll pay an exorbitant amount for a poor person, two or three hundred rupees. Then of course, the guys got a whole bag full of these rings and goes on to the next village. I’ve seen that so many times. – So that’s the disillusionment side.
Rick: How about the inspiration side? – The inspiration side, and its real inspiration, is that you never meet them out in the marketplace and fortunately, and unfortunately, if you can’t speak an Indian language, you’re rarely ever gonna meet them. Just because it cuts down on the numbers of people you can be exposed to and communicate with. Not that all communication has to be verbal, right? But I have certainly met men and women that I profoundly respect. 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 especially after a certain level of spiritual maturity, we become very adept at smelling a stink bomb in the room. Whether you’ve been to India and seen all the tricks or not, You can kind of tell if somebody is being authentic. I think in the American experience of spiritual teachers, 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 and 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 in my experience they’re not. My experience in India they’re not either one of those things. Not that you have to be homely to be enlightened or something.
Rick: They’re just across section of how people tend to look and you know only a handful are going to be movie star types.
Dana: 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. You know what I mean? They’re going to fall back on these sort of hackneyed analogies. They’re going to express it as we all do, right? Life is 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 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’ve fallen into this really beautiful, beautiful place. And even some of (I don’t want to run down swamis because I’ve got some good friends that are Swami’s) but Sundanan, that I was talking about before, and my wife had this experience with him too, when I took my wife to meet him and my wife is no mystical pickle, as we used to call them, she’s hard to impress. And she’s not even really particularly interested, quite frankly. She finds her spiritual growth in other directions. She’s an artist. I had to warn her when we were going to meet Sundanan on. 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 he would pull you, you would go into Samadhi whether you wanted to or not. 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. Yeah.
Rick: There’s a group here in town, it’s all over the country, called Waking Down, started by Samuel Bonder. And that gazing is part of their deal. And it seems to be quite effective actually in helping to kind of transmit or enliven Samadhi in one another.
Dana: I think that’s true. I think that’s a very viable channel. It’s like think of romantic love poetry from the th and th century. The romantics really believed there were several primary doorways into the infinite. One of them was like Henry David Thoreau, Time Spent in Nature, John Muir, Time Spent in Nature. Art was most definitely, you know, if you’re thinking about Chopin or Wagner or Franz Liszt, that music was the doorway into the infinite. I’ve had that experience. I know you have your music. And so also romantic love, that love between two people, you know, I make meaningful eye contact with my wife all the time. I make meaningful eye contact with my nephew’s dog. I think we really do see to the bottom sometimes in each other.
Rick: The eyes are the windows of the soul.
Dana: We can see there’s something delicious about that. But when we see to the bottom of each other, we merge into that same one place. I see why they’re 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. Right. 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 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. Do you see where I’m going with this?
Rick: I think so.
Dana: I mean, if everything is coming out of the infinite, everything’s the doorway back into the infinite, that’s the hope. So you can be looking 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 something that you’re applying yourself to with the right consciousness, then it becomes a powerful tool.
Rick: In my experience, it just becomes more and more evident. I mean, if the infinite is infinite, then there’s no place where it is not. And there’s no thing in which it is not, no circumstance, no experience in which it is not staring you right in the face. And as we sort of gradually or quickly, however, unravel that roboticism that you mentioned, then the likelihood of having at least a taste of it at all times, increases, tends to continue to increase. And it gets to be more and more than just a taste as time goes on.
Dana: That’s right. I couldn’t have said it better. I couldn’t have said it better. I think that’s it.
Rick: And it’s important, I think, to clarify one’s understanding of what it is that one is heading for, if a person’s on the path to enlightenment. Because I know in this town, there are people who have built up 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 feel that they must be a million miles away from it still. Whereas it’s closer than your own breath and if we can just sort of get more realistic perhaps about what it actually is then it helps a lot in terms of noticing what the degree to which it’s already being lived
Dana: Well, you know, I think that was the gift back in those early days when you and I met forty years ago, this coming December or 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 got the gift of different conceptual structures that could kind of 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 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’re walking on a beach with somebody you love. There’s just this playful, wonderful, deliciousness. Yes, okay, that’s it. You know, this moment when chills are 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. It’s 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 be here now, then I can find some contact with that. I’m sure this is your experience, Rick, that it is so comfortable and so familiar. Familiar like your breath. You smell your own breath every minute of every day. You can’t smell your breath, but it’s right there. It’s always just there. And, you know, that’s the gift of those days, I think, is to have somebody point it out and say, you know, this is it, and no, it’s not lightning bolts shooting out of your head, and it’s not your ability to swallow snakes, and it’s not your ability to stop your heartbeat, or when I say it’s not that, I mean, I’m really saying it’s not that to me inside of my own view, because, you know…
Rick: That’s not a necessary criterion of it. that’s right.
Rick: Maybe somebody who’s enlightened can swallow snakes, and maybe somebody who can swallow snakes who aren’t enlightened, but the two are not necessarily correlated.
Dana: Exactly, and then the other piece of that for me is that that ability to apprehend the absolute to be there, to feel it, to enjoy it, is not full spiritual maturity to me.
Rick: Right, I was going to say that actually. Go ahead and you might as well elaborate because you’re responding to a question I was going to ask.
Dana: 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 will never ever end and there’s something very beautiful about it never ending. I’m thinking of teachers that teach from that viewpoint, Huston teaches from that to viewpoint, that I was talking with you once about Abrahm Maslow’s hierarchy of needs and he says the need for self-actualization 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 on and so forth but that ultimately we have a drive for self actualization. But he points out in his description of what self-actualization is, and he interview dozens of people that he felt were self-actualized including Aldous Huxley, was that inside of their viewpoint the journey never ended. That the self-actualized realized 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, enlightenment is this and I want to meet that criterion. And I think that’s sad. I think it’s sad because there’s always going to be something richer to discover inside of one’s growth that, okay, I’m experiencing 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 the visionary imaginative capacity of my mind to imagine other ways that we could live and transcend global warming and climate change. So there’s so many avenues for growth there to sort of say Oh, well, that was fun and now I’m here.
Rick: It’s interesting as you were speaking, I was kind of reminded of Eckhart Tolle because he’s so effective at just talking people into a state of presence and enabling them to appreciate that what is here right now is what you’re looking for, this is it. And so there’s great value in that. And there are some teachers, however, who sort of conclude that an appreciation of the now or appreciation of the present moment or of the ever fresh aliveness of each moment is all that enlightenment actually is. That’s what all these guys have been talking about. And they sort of concluded, OK, well, I’ve got it then. This is it. I’m done. And to me, that’s sort of a- I mean, it’s a short-changing themselves. And it’s also a little bit lazy. I see it that way, too. Yeah. And getting back to the old paradox word, there’s no conflict between appreciating that this presence that we dwell in now, is what we’re looking for, and yet, seeing infinite room for growth. I mean, that may seem paradoxical, ’cause there’s some teachers who say, Give up the search, just relax. And yeah, you can do that. 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 explore and to unfold.
Dana: Well, see, I would see that Rick is a much more sophisticated spiritual maturity than the person who’s simply witnessing continuously. You know what I’m saying?
Rick: Yeah, yeah.
Dana: I really would. I mean, I think that’s a huge insight when you get to the place of, don’t let your ego metastasized to that compliment.
Rick: But I was just shining with badges here. Well, you know, I think about teachers and, you know, teachers like Baba Free John and other. Later. Yeah, go ahead. OK. But you know what I’m saying? I believe he probably was having a continuous experience of cosmic consciousness. But boy, the ego swelled up to the size of the infinite right 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: They were. Daniel Bonder that I referred to earlier, who’s the founder waking down was one of Free John’s closest disciples for a couple of decades. He edited all those books and published them. He was his right hand man. He ended up leaving eventually and was regarded as a heretic for having left and ended up blossoming into a very profound awakening himself after having left. But despite the screwyness of that whole scene, something really good came out of it, at least in this guy.
Dana: Right, right, right. And that certainly happens.
Rick: I wouldn’t want to 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 said, you know, he was a great tantric. And I didn’t want to sort of spoil the occasion 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 sort of…
Dana: a cop out
Rick: to excuse what by any normal standards is atrocious behavior.
Dana: Yeah, pedophilia.
Rick: Yeah, all kinds of stuff. I mean, you wouldn’t believe it, drugs and just a whole, you know. And I’m sure it would also make genuine tantrics, shudder in their shoes to hear themselves compared to this. But in this whole idea of crazy wisdom that teachers can do all sorts of really weird, abusive, unacceptable, by normal social standards stuff and chalk it up to, you know, being unattached 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 relative personality and morals and all sorts of stuff like that.
Dana: That’s right. And I couldn’t agree with you more, that 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.
Rick: Oh, Ram Dass said that. He said, If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your parents.
Dana: Yeah, right. And I think that’s it. I think that have you done the work on the level? I even remember back in the time when I first started meditating, I really saw it as a naive year old. “Okay, I’m gonna outrun all my problems, all these issues of insecurity and complications with my relationship with my father and all that, okay, well, I’m just gonna meditate and I’ll reach enlightenment and all that will dissolve”. None of that will be in my mind anymore.
Rick: And you were actually taught that. Because when we taught TM, we said, this is a simple solution to all problems. Water the root to enjoy the fruit. You don’t have to worry about dealing with specific relative matters. All you have to do is introduce the transcendent. It’ll nourish and infuse itself into a whole tree of life, and all your problems will be solved.
Dana: That’s right. That’s right.
Rick: thirty five dollars please
Dana: yeah a little more now right. That reminds, me one time a friend came to visit us who, (and I won’t mention this person’s name), claimed to be having this enlightenment experience and claimed to be completely, 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 we have a lot of loons in the summertime and loons make four primary calls and this loon made a call and the response from the the friend was “oh my god, that’s so beautiful, I hope we get to hear that again”, and my wife gave me this very meaningful look because that was the birds alarm call. That was the terrible danger call, you know, warning each other. And it is beautiful on one level. And yet that wasn’t the intent of the friend. I know him well enough to know what he meant. What I’m saying is that there’s lots of knowledge and lots to learn and lots of compassion to develop.
Rick: well, interestingly, this fellow, Samuel Bonder, who started Waking Down after having been with 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 resonator aligned with that. And then the mutuality part is to get it resonating with your other people in your life so that Enlightenment is not just some kind of a loose thing and your relative life is divorced from that. It’s rather something that permeates every dimension of your life
Dana: Hmm well, 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 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, that becomes the sadhana, that becomes the practice. And so by reaching out to others and improving their conditions, one is growing, you know, one is growing very quickly. So, you know, do we start by when I get my house in order that I’m gonna go and help others and then there are traditions that say I’ll start by helping. You know I see joining the Sierra Club as a kind of yoga as a kind of sadana. I see people, Green Peace’ers out there trying to save whales from being hurt, putting themselves out there.
Rick: Do you watch whale wars? yeah That’s pretty incredible and I admire not only the courage but the interspecies love that is going on there. So we’ve come back full circle to this idea that it’s all coming out of the absolute, so everything is a path back into it. And 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, where we mutually were going to grow and support each other.
Rick: 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 an extreme example of someone who seemed to have a profound inner development, but then pan out on the outside. And it’s interesting that his primary student ended up forming a group in which that was the emphasis bringing the inner awareness to bear on outer life in all its aspects. It just kind of worked out. It seems like appropriate for him to have done that.
Dana: I like your cat sadana where you’re doing your yoga of letting the cat in and out.
Rick: Oh, can you see the cat from where you’re sitting?
Dana: No, but I can see the door opening.
Rick: Yeah, that’s it. It’s cats and dogs. Now she comes up on my lap too. Here you go. Here everybody. This is an official member of Buddha at the Gas Pump.
Dana: All right. Make eye contact with her. 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, Enlightenment Magazine, I would act as a whistleblower sometimes, not like, Oh, Dana knows everything, and he’s claiming he knows these traditions better than everyone. I certainly don’t. but ome traditions I do know and I’m very familiar with, and I know quite a lot about Tantra. There have been groups who have tried to create these weekends where we’re going to teach you how to have better sex and 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, we’re making divisions in the mind. The divisions aren’t in reality. And so the tantric is saying, Okay, I’m going to… If you think about American gurus getting back to that, they’re often backlit. They’re very good looking and they’re backlit and they have this big halo of light and some kind of pretty colored robe on and all that. And in India there are a lot of tantric sadhus like the nagavabhas who will smear themselves with the ashes of the dead and they sleep in the smashan grounds, the cremation ground. And so they wash with ashes of the dead and they sleep and use skulls for pillows. And they’re really saying, I’m training myself to overcome my fear of death. And 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 have transcended attachment and I am owning my own being in the center of what I am. It’s not about having fun you know?
Rick: And that’s the way it gets distorted because people sort of feel like “okay well if the absolute is in everything then I can just do everything, I can take all these drugs and I can sleep with my students and the wives and do this that the other thing and it’s all just, I’m just sort of exploring various expressions of the absolute”. So just any sort of sense of morality is thrown out the window.
Dana: Well what happens is then one is telling the truth and a lie at the same time. The truth is, from the level of the absolute, there is no consequence, from the level of the unchanging being then there is no consequence in any action ultimately, how could there be? Right?
Rick: Right. It’s untouched.
Dana: But then there’s life down here in the world also. And there are consequences to actions, and they can be profound and they can be very damaging. And to try to
Rick: confuse levels Exactly, confuse levels or appropriate an entire really beautiful Sadhana like Tantra and to say I’m going to use this for my own personal gratification like “hey, baby come on up to my place and I’ll show you by tantric yoga”
Rick: But did you feel that the Naga Baba’s that you met were, most of them, 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 Naga Baba there and she felt like ninety five percent of them were just heavy-duty potheads and weren’t really making a lot of spiritual progress and maybe only a small portion of them were the real article.
Dana: Yeah, I’d push it up more to % maybe. But I have met Naga Baba’s 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 that Naga Baba’s will, when they’re traveling, make a fire called a duni, and they’ll sit and tend 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 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 of this? I mean, Ganges sacred dishiva. So in their mind, it’s a sacred experience to be stoned. And I remember there’s their view. If you go to Benares in the afternoon, on a hot afternoon, it’s impossible to find any kind of alcohol or a cold beer. But there’s lots of bon lassi, lots of that. And everybody is- it is the holy city you can’t be intoxicated here. And yet everybody is taking bon lassi because it’s sacred shiva and Benares’ is his city. But anyway, 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 could profoundly sincere on a viable spiritual path. Must have had good teachers
Rick: Yeah it takes all types so uh… we won’t go on too much longer, I know it’s getting late for you but what have you taken away from your whole India experience? I mean you’ve been there 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 is the sort of like practical distillation of all this India travel that you’ve been doing?
Dana: You know that that’s a whole world Rick. I mean there’s so much there. I mean after years and loving the country so much my wife and I intend to retire there. 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 beautiful mountain scenery and all that sort of stuff. I don’t know if I could distill it into one simple thing. I do very much enjoy the spiritual life of India. I love to go to temples. I was never sort of a God with a face kind of person. You know, Ramakrishna 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 chanting kirtan in the evening and sitting with people in a temple and watching the life of the temple. The big temple cities in South India, Chidumbaram, the Minakshi temple in Madurai 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 Minakshi temple in Madurai and really see what you’re looking for in my personal opinion. So, you know, the accessibility of more of that kind of experience is certainly, you know, one of the lures.
Rick: One point I want to make about India is I have a friend who, I don’t know if she’s actually even listening 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 an abiding one. But she’s always kind of looking to examples of yogis and saints in India as being the real article. And my feeling is that enlightenment is not an Indian thing. Indian culture is very familiar with it just as Eskimos have lots of words for snow, but it’s really a universal thing. And there’s no reason why somebody in a suit and tie or working in a business or something shouldn’t actually be just as legitimately in an enlightened 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: Well, 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 They have definitely, you know, I would say there’s a pretty even split there. Yeah. There are people in our culture who I think are very, very far along. I remember having a, 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 Iyer and Ram Das and Stanislav Groff and Joan Halifax, Roshi and you know my hats off to all of them. I mean I see profound insight that is in several of those cases and in most of those cases, the equal of anything I’ve seen in India. Yeah, so I think you’re absolutely right. The people that are hungriest for it, the hungriest for the growth, find their way to the growth. Or it isn’t only hunger, it can be a path of beauty. Because I teach at an art college, I’m constantly meeting artists in their s and s. And I’ll hear them talking in s and s and s and they’re talking about their artwork and as they start talking about it and their experiences that are triggered through art, I think, wow, in a different idiom where you’re talking about the spiritual path, that 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. So I totally agree with you. I think the spiritual maturity is everywhere.
Rick: Yeah, not only East and West, but South. I mean if you look at certain African cultures or South American cultures or whatever you’re going to find it there too.
Dana: Yeah, Australian aborigines have a really amazing spiritual tradition.
Rick: Somehow for me, and 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 a connection with universal awareness, which transcends all persons and cultures, that that is sort of the litmus test of spiritual development, that somehow that dimension has been, you know, brought to awareness and then, and hopefully has begun to impact the expressed aspects of your life. Are we on the same page with that?
Dana: I think to some extent, you know, Beethoven often talked about his experiences of the infinite and the eternal, and he could be a jerk on other occasions. I tend to see spiritual maturity is something beyond simply that experience of the transcendent. I think it’s a wonderful beautiful thing.
Rick: I agree that’s what I’ve been saying that, you can be a jerk and have the transcendent
Dana: That’s right
Rick: If we think of the whole package two hundred percent of absolute and relevant development, would you in your lexicon say a person can be really spiritually developed and yet not have that transcendent dimension?
Dana: 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. We live in a world of other beings and other people. Like I said before, they are just as sacred. They are not sacred light. They are just as sacred. They are the infinite, the absolute in my way of thinking and experience. They are expressing itself and moving around. 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, that inner experience of the eternal. That’s my two cents, but let me finish a thought in Hinduism in the sect of the goddess worshippers, the shaktas, they believe that the world is a conjoining of male and female energy at every level so their tantrics, and so a 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. That the physical world is feminine, that it’s 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, prakriti, which is a feminine noun, I’m sure you’ve heard that word, prakriti nature. It’s mother nature, it’s a feminine charge. And Shakti is another feminine noun. Shakti is the energy of God. And so Brahman is God in God’s own being and that’s masculine. But Shakti is God alive and moving in awake. And their viewpoint is, Okay, 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 worshipers and goddess devotees. They’re not denigrating the Brahman. They’re not denigrating the eternal in its pure form. They happen to like the eternal when it’s moving around. And I think that since we live in a world of beings, that has come to be the yardsticks for measuring growth that I tend to prefer.
Rick: At least it’s a yardstick that you can see and measure because it’s more manifest. It’s more obvious. You know that Upanishad where it talks about two birds sitting on the self-same tree and one protects the fruit and the other doesn’t. I forget which Upanishad it is, but it’s said to represent the absolute and the relative, the silent witness. They’re friends but one eats the fruit and is more active and the other 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 people who have awakenings generally, well most of the people I interview, or a lot of people you hear these days, speak of really shattering the sense of being confined by an individual ego and perhaps even not even being able to detect one anymore. Even though they might have likes and dislikes and so on and so forth, they insist that there’s really no one home and that what they are and more predominantly if not entirely 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 very laudable relative qualities which are highly developed in them, but unless there’s the dimension of the unmanifest, which is like the sub-stratum of existence, then 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.
Dana: Yeah, yeah, no, I can go with that. I mean, I think if you’re kind of sitting in this, marinating in your vastness, then there’s some ego there is what I would say.
Rick: You think it’s sort of a self gratifying kind of thing?
Dana: Yeah, you’re in a sort of a tape loop of bliss and that’s very enjoyable but if there’s no ego in there then if you’re really claiming to have transcended your individuality I think then there would be a uh… you know think of the Dali Lama, 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 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 again, sort of marinate in that tape loop bliss. But we can’t use it. We need to have you come out and help. And so that’s why I tend to think when you see the compassion manifesting, even if it’s just like Adya Shanti or Gungaji, wanting to share a beautiful experience they’re having with other people, teaching as an impetus, right?
Rick: Sure. It’s a way of serving. But like take Mother Teresa for instance, towards the end of her life she admitted that she really was assailed by doubt and didn’t have a whole lot of profound subjective experience. But then look at her life, 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 universal awareness and the divine consciousness which wants to infuse itself into the world. And she was a profound, powerful channel for that.
Dana: I think you’re exactly right.
Rick: Just thinking outloud here, it may have just been her humility that caused her to feel like she was a chump.
Dana: I think that’s true. I feel like a lot of times. When Khen Rinpoche this Tibetan Lama that you were talking about, the abbot of the Panchen Lama monastery, when he first started coming to New England to give teachings, he gave a teaching and I took a bunch of students of mine there twenty years ago, and he really was struggling with his English and he said he was from La Dak and I thought, well, he might know Hindi. And I came up to him afterwards and talked to him in Hindi, 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 we were talking and I ended up teaching with him. And people will come to him a lot. And you’ve seen this kind of experience when you were around Marish, sometimes people will come with him 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 there’s something very beautiful about it. But then other people will come sometime and, oh, I’m not very far along the path and I’m doing my best and I’m good to my family. 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 really recognizing some stages of development in them that they themselves really aren’t noticing. I think it was Emerson that said, It was something like this. Emerson was saying he wasn’t very far along in his growth or something. And one of the other transcendentalists said, what you are is shouting so loud, I can’t hear what you’re saying.
Rick: That’s good.
Dana: And I really like that. Every now and then, I think people are something colossally beautiful. And they’re not really honoring how far their growth is, and how much spiritual maturity they have accumulated.
Rick: And as Jesus put it, you shall know them by their fruits.
Dana: Exactly, exactly, you know, that’s where it’s gotta get up on legs and walk around and then we find out.
Rick: Good. Well, this is about as good a place to conclude as any.
Dana: So true.
Rick: Yeah, I’ve kept you up way past your bedtime.
Dana: It’s great to see you, Rick.
Rick: Yeah, good to see you, Dana.
Dana: It’s the longest that we’ve talked in years and years and years.
Rick: Probably the longest we’ve ever talked.
Dana: Oh, God.
Rick: I mean, I was always kind of blowing into Danbury and snowstorm and teaching, you know, people and while you were having a party in the next room and then racing back down to Fairfield.
Dana: Some of those nights I also remember sitting up to about three o’clock in the morning, figuring out how we were going to change the whole world.
Rick: Oh, good.
Dana: t was all going to happen. I celebrate those days.
Dana: Yeah, enjoy. Well, let’s stay in touch. I’ll conclude 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, B-A-T-G- A-P. And there you’ll find all of them archived, as well as links to YouTube and Facebook and a podcast and other ways in which you can, and a chat group and so on. And in fact, speaking of chat groups, I’ll 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: And if you have an answer for Dana, you can have that too.
Rick: So great. Thank you and we’ll see you next week.