Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest this week is David Gersten, MD. Welcome, David.
David Gersten: Thank you so much. Great to be here.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Having gotten to know David a little bit and having read much of his book I, if I had to describe him in a word, and I think he would agree, agree, David is a spiritual psychiatrist. And in other words, he’s as a spiritual aspirant himself, he has ended up attracting people who are having various kinds of spiritual awakenings. And in some cases, crises, which other psychiatrists might misdiagnosed as pathological and end up giving them drugs. David has learned to recognize the value in the experiences these people are having if they are indeed genuine experience spiritual experiences, and to sort of reassure them that everything’s actually okay. And that perhaps something good is happening. Would that be a fair assessment, David?
David Gersten: Close I refer to my work as integrative psychiatry, okay. It includes the spiritual, right, but it includes the physical very much with a specialty and amino acid therapy. Okay, good. I’m
Rick Archer: glad you added that
David Gersten: it’s a real holistic body, mind, spirit. But I did struggle with that word for years.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I’m glad you added that because in my understanding, at least the spiritual can’t be divorced from the physical, the, you know, the spiritual, spiritual development has a physiological component. And it’s like two legs of a table or something, you pull either leg and the other can be moved. So,
David Gersten: right, and people’s priorities tend to be physical first. Real hard to work on the physical. I mean, on the spiritual if you’re physically debilitated.
Rick Archer: Right, right. Interesting. Okay. So you’ve written a book called, are you getting enlightened or losing your mind, and I love the title. I’ve referred to it a number of times in previous interviews, actually, without even having begun to read the book just because I think the title tell so much. The subtitle is the psychiatrist guide for mastering paranormal and spiritual experience. And even just reading the Title I, you know, I, it evoked some questions in me, which I’ll just read out for fun. It’ll kind of give us a outline of what we might discuss in this interview. What Is Enlightenment? And what is ignorance, which is the word ignorance is usually taken as the opposite of Enlightenment? What are sanity and insanity? Do they have an objective reality? Or to some extent? Are they just societal norms? Are Enlightenment and insanity? mutually exclusive? What about Crazy Wisdom teachers? Are they really wise or just crazy? Can spiritual experiences and practices make you crazy? If improperly understood and practiced? And are all paranormal experiences spiritual? Or in other words, if is any ill weird thing that happens to you really spiritual? Or could it actually be pathological or some are undesirable in some way, and not really moving you in the direction of what we might define as true spirituality. And we’ll probably discuss what true spirituality might be in the course of this interview. So in light of all those questions that have spilled out, we’ll take quite a while to cover them. But is there any one which kind of grabs you and you would like to begin with? Or shall we begin with a little bit of your background and how you even came to be writing such a book and practicing psychiatry in the way you do?
David Gersten: We can start with background, all the questions you raised. Were really good questions. Okay. Thanks. About two hours for each of those questions. We’ll have an eight hour interview. I will say we chatted over the last week, you and I, and the question of what is Enlightenment came up. Probably the next day before sleep. I always do spiritual reading. And I probably have three bookshelves of spiritual books. So pull one off the shelf, open it up. It says Enlightenment is the merging of the self in the absolute. I went Thank you. Yeah, but those are the kinds of synchronicities that are part of spiritual path and just something to be really aware of.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s funny. Speaking of synchronicities, just today, I was listening to a Skeptico podcast about synchronicity. So there you go mentioning the word. So there’s another one.
David Gersten: There’s skeptics about everything.
Rick Archer: Yeah, the merging of the self into the absolute is that we just said, yeah, right. And in Sanskrit terms, they talk about, you know, merging of the Jeeva, with Atman and Atman, with Brahman. So that’s, in a nutshell, the traditional understanding the recognition that we aren’t just this isolated, little flesh bound entity, but we really are something vast and fundamental to the universe and you know, recognizing our identity is that
David Gersten: right? One of the metaphors that I use a lot, especially with patients explaining spirituality, I’ll say if you think of God as the ocean, the individual soul is a river, all the rivers are flowing toward the ocean, eventually merging in that ocean, but the quote, God stuff is the same as the self stuff, right? We’re in the West, we have a notion of a huge difference between who we are. And God, who’s an old man up on a cloud, taking notes, passing judgment, like Santa Claus, right? As opposed to consciousness, God Self all being the same, quote, stuff of consciousness.
Rick Archer: This is, this is why I personally find, you know, modern physics to be so exciting, because, you know, quantum physicists will tell you that if you take anything and boil it down to its essence, you ended up with the same stuff, so to speak, even though it’s a non stuff stuff. But everything ultimately is considered to, you know, most fundamentally reduced down to the same essential, you know, thing unified field, if you want to call it that, and going in the opposite direction. With the manifestation process, everything diversifies, you know, to multiple, multifarious diversity.
David Gersten: Well said, makes me think of the Big Bang. I think of the Big Bang, really a lot. Like it happened yesterday, kind of kind of thing. Like it’s happening now. Like, it’s like it’s happening now. And it’s not like it’s was so long ago that I can’t bother thinking about it. And what’s pretty amazing is the Bhagavad Gita talks about the creation of the universe, the Big Bang, the expansion of the universe, and the ultimate contraction of the universe back again to zero. And that, that process is called one day of Brahman. Right? That is one of God’s days. So I would assume from that, there have been a whole lot of days of Brahman, a whole lot of universes that have come and gone, which the perspective on that is, makes, you should make you incredibly humble, in the light of the super giant picture of the universe.
Rick Archer: And some cosmologists say that they’re, you know, multiple universes coming and going constantly, like, like bubbles in a boiling cauldron, you know, just popping up and coming going back and, and that there are virtual universes, which kind of, you know, almost manifest, but then don’t quite make it through the gestation period, and then so don’t fully manifest and you know, so they don’t actually happen.
David Gersten: Well, I think the mystery of creation is the Creator can create whenever he or she feels like it. But to me, the universe is everything. seen and unseen? Right? So the notion of alternate universes, to me is like, a little bit strange. Because it’s like, okay, if everything is everything is everything. If you have a notion of an additional universe, to me, it’s like, yeah, okay. It’s still matter how you look at it. One gigantic universe, which is both seen, and unseen, and most of its unseen. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Even from a physics perspective, you know, most of the matter in the universe is dark matter, we don’t see it. What, and this actually begins to hint at the kinds of things we’re going to be talking about today, because there’s a whole realm of experience in, in human perspective, human perception, which is unseen. And you know, even in terms of traditional psychology of the unconscious and everything, but when we start getting into spiritual matters, obviously, and you can expound on this better than I, there’s, there’s a whole realm of possibilities. There’s beyond the realm of our cognition, but people pop into having those cognitions. And then they wondering what’s happening to me.
David Gersten: Right, absolutely. And that difference between science and spirituality. It’s not that well understood. And there’s been conflicts throughout history of like science versus spirituality. To me, science is what you can measure through the five senses. And in fact, the senses are all measuring devices. So the scientific tools are extensions of our senses, right? Spirituality is that which is beyond the five senses can’t be measured, unseen. Angel visits you, are you gonna put an angel in a test tube? You’re gonna put God in a test tube? No, I don’t think so. So where spirituality picks up where science leaves off, they’re both useful, there’s no, to me, there’s no big conflict.
Rick Archer: Playing off that idea, I would suggest that the human nervous system is a more sophisticated instrument than any instrument you people have been able to create. It’s more sophisticated and complex than a particle accelerator or the Hubble Space Telescope or anything else. And, you know, using this instrument in a scientific way, we can address such questions as whether or not they’re angels or, you know, all sorts of subtle matters that spirituality has concerned itself with.
David Gersten: Right, and this tool that you’re talking about. That is why I got interested in psychiatry, both from the physical standpoint, and the philosophical standpoint. I basically knew from first grade that I was going to be a doctor. The father was a doctor, to Doctor family, I actually never decided to be a doctor. I first wanted to be an architect, like at age three, then maybe hit four or five and inventor. And then by first grade, I was on a doctor path. I never made the decision. I mean, it wasn’t a struggle. Now, I hadn’t decided which specialty. And in my first year of college, in Pomona College, I took a course in philosophy. And the one thing that struck me was one day the teachers knocks on his desk and says, How do you know this is real? And I just thought, that’s crazy. Amazing. There are people, philosophers who spent their whole lives asking questions like, How do you know if this desk is real? And I said, I’m going to be a psychiatrist. That’s got to be the field that deals with these heavy duty questions. Now in med school, I was on the psychiatry track. All but maybe six months where I thought of neurology, because I have been really, really interested in neurology. I always was interested in that. But I discovered, I mean, I loved I hated med school. We had a 6% mortality rate,
Rick Archer: physical mortality. In other words, death. Yes.
David Gersten: Six of the 100 of us who started were dead, right? It’s a higher death rate than an Iraqi soldier. So I can’t say I enjoyed med school. Although my retention for it is really high. I did love the psychiatry residency. It’s what I’ve waited for. But it never addressed the key issues like how do you know this desk is real? Or what is the mind? Or what is the mind body? I mean, the key questions of the mind and the brain. Having never been addressed by psychiatry, philosophy and Eastern teachings have done a much, much better job. So here we have a field that’s psychiatry has become a field of let me say legal drug dealers, right. I hate saying that. That’s true, though. You know, you know, it’s like, no matter what your problem is, whether it’s depression or chronic fatigue syndrome or irritable bowel syndrome, you’re going on Paxil.
Rick Archer: Now is that because psychiatrists as a group tend to think of they tend to have a rather materialistic worldview and think of us as Meat Puppets, and everything is basically neurological. And there’s really no point in, in messing with the more abstract subtle stuff.
David Gersten: I think psychiatry ended up the way it is, basically, politically, the field emerged out of 1800s great thinkers like Craig Phelan, Freud, Jung, not that Freud’s thinking was ultimately that useful, but it was very much a psychotherapy field. And psychiatrists were the laughingstock of other doctors. So psychiatrists wanted to get positioned as mainstream doctors. And I’m, I’m pretty sure to the way things worked was through communications and deals with the pharmaceutical industry. Psychiatry shifted into the field of quote, We are the brain field. It’s kind of like pharmaceutical companies. If you make useful drugs, we will prescribe them. Now psychiatry residencies are the number one residencies in the country. Number one In what respect The most sought after residency. The number of people waiting to get into a psych residency is huge,
Rick Archer: because it pays well, because it’s interesting or what
David Gersten: it pays well, certainly doesn’t pay as well as
Rick Archer: Yes, sir. Sorry. Any of those things? Yeah, yeah, OB
David Gersten: GYN plastic surgery, dermatology. But it’s, I don’t quite understand it. Because the training rather than improving his dwindled, and I started noticing about 1520 years ago, the patients would come to me having seen someone else noticed psychiatrist, there was no therapy. Right? You know, I was realizing, all these people I was seeing, were put on drugs by a psychiatrist and then referred to an MFC or LCSW. For the psychotherapy part. So psychiatry split the counseling part off
Rick Archer: is part of the reason that drugs became so predominant, perhaps that it was felt that therapy just wasn’t that effective. And that, you know, drugs really had a measurable, if influence, or is it really a matter of time where you could you could drug a whole lot of people in the course of a month, but only perhaps do any sort of therapy with a few people in the course of a month.
David Gersten: Couple of things. There’s only a few years ago, and I was reading one of my monthly throwaway psychiatric journals. And this issue, what happened to psychiatric training came up. And what had happened was the psych residencies had literally stopped training, psychotherapy, because it costs more. Yeah, I thought, Wow, that’s pretty crazy. You stop training, a psychiatry residents in counseling because it costs more. That’s like training a Brain Surgeon and everything except the temporal lobes. Because it’s gonna cost for. So there’s a movement now to reincorporate like five psychotherapy modalities. One being cognitive behavioral therapy. But to me, that’s pretty superficial. Because while ultimately I thought, okay, Freud’s treatment modality is a poor modality, at least when you’re training that you’re thinking about what makes people tick. What’s going on now relates to what was going on in childhood. So that that disappeared. And the insurance companies discovered, obviously, that, hey, if we just have psychiatrists write prescriptions and have 15 minute visits that are pretty expensive, then we can farm out the psychotherapy, and pay much less for it. So unfortunately, I think money is the big player in what happened has happened to psychiatry.
Rick Archer: Okay. Well, let’s, let’s shift the topic of discussion a little bit, because I mean, that’s a good overview of what happened to psychiatry. But we really want to focus in on the whole Enlightenment angle, and this, which is largely been your specialty, and, you know, so we gave a definition to what Enlightenment is, and in turn, and it’s in your title, you’re getting enlightened or losing your mind. So let’s talk a little bit about what Saturday and insanity are. Because that’s also implied in your title, you know, losing your mind, you’re going crazy. What are they? You know, is there a sort of an objective measure is certainly there’s not a clear cut demarcation between them, it must be much more gray. But is it also defined, you know, just by social norms, to a great extent, and one society’s crazy as another society sane?
David Gersten: Really good question. And if I focus on the main, two mental illnesses, schizophrenia, and mania, those being like heavily genetic, a shaman from any country can quickly identify schizophrenic from someone who is has, let’s say, spirit possession. So, one of the better known Shamans in San Diego was an Amana Sarita the mother of Don Miguel Ruiz, who wrote The Four Agreements. I met her back in 78. And she was working hand in hand with county mental health. Because periodically someone who was actively psychotic, schizophrenic, she would know, hey, this person needs medication. So she was very clear about that. Now So, Saturday and Saturday are not very close to each other. In Saturday’s almost easier, because someone who’s really insane is really out of touch with reality. their thought process is enormously disturbed. They have delusions, which are not equivalent to a mystics view of the world, which you could look at a mystic and say, This person is crazy. This person’s entire universe revolves around one thought or one omnipresent being that’s invisible. So, you know, how can we measure that the mystic actually may appear a little a little crazy to normal standards, like Ramana Maharshi, who was so absorbed in meditation that he was covered with ants. Other people had to feed him, right. Okay, so you got to be able to see what’s the legitimate spiritual path
Rick Archer: and all that. I mean, Neem Karoli Baba Mother, you know, Ananda my MA and, and niche and niche Ananda mukta on this guru, you know, they all did stuff that was pretty nutty, if you buy by ordinary standards, and then of course, if you go to the Kuma mela and you see all these naked guys with ashes and snakes and all this stuff, the whole thing seems naughty, but don’t go quite there yet.
David Gersten: Right. So most people on a spiritual path don’t look that crazy. I mean, we’re talking at the extremes of success, though. We’re talking about your,
Rick Archer: the saints, the the great ones,
David Gersten: the great ones who aren’t necessarily recognized immediately, at the time. I think Jesus is an example. Yeah, there are very few hardcore devotees maybe 12. Right. So somehow, the force of that being has persisted forever. And my guesses will continue to persist forever. I think first is what’s common sense in which spiritual sense. So you meet someone, you shake their hand, there’s a huge download of information. So you have a sense of most people right away, Oh, I like this person. I don’t like this person. He or she has good energy. You meet someone who’s really crazy. And certainly as a psychiatrist, when you have sat with hundreds of schizophrenics, you can sense what’s going on very quickly. And it’s actually by the way, not so much a description of voices, delusions, etc. There’s an international study in 1950 of psychiatrists around the world as to what do you think? How do you what makes you diagnose someone as schizophrenic? It wasn’t the voices, it wasn’t delusions. It was the number one thing is what’s called the pre Cox feeling. That’s how you feel in the presence of someone with schizophrenia. And you can’t describe that unless you’ve sat with quite a number of schizophrenics.
Rick Archer: But you develop a sort of antenna for picking it up and yeah, okay.
David Gersten: Right. So I can sense that and
Rick Archer: the energy about them something,
David Gersten: the energy, the distance in their eyes, like they’re very, they’re very far away.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And you have sat in the presence of enlightened saints and masters. So you’ve, you’ve in your own life experience, you’ve, you’ve seen the whole gamut, you know,
David Gersten: I have seen the whole gamut, right? And I’ve seen, I’ve seen the saints and I’ve seen ordinary saints, that is ordinary people doing ordinary jobs, who seem incredibly advanced on their path, right? That is very solid, very grounded. More than loving, they’ve identified themselves as who they really are. So the light that comes out of them is huge. They tend to be in the real world, very, very successful. And but you can’t always identify these people. There might be some enlightened being on Wall Street and maybe that may be a poor choice.
Rick Archer: No, there I’m sure there are. I mean, I know guys who’ve been on Wall speak for decades who have been meditating and doing spiritual practices all that time. And I don’t know if they’re enlightened or not, but I know people who work in factories and who You know, do all kinds of normal stuff that are, you know, awakened in the sense that you and I would define it.
David Gersten: Right. One of those is Rolling Thunder who haven’t read about in a long time. But he was a Native American shaman, very well known, whose daytime gig was working on the railroad. Yeah. So he’s railroad guy who got his name? Because he was great at creating Thunder by tweaking some bugs that he would roll on the ground.
Rick Archer: And that would create actual thunder in the sky, like a shamanistic kind of thing that
David Gersten: Oh, yes.
Rick Archer: Interesting.
David Gersten: Yeah, he was a long time ago, he was giving a presentation. I think it was in Dallas. And the media had heard, Oh, this guy makes thunder. So there’s a lot of slurs in the newspaper. Yeah. And the skies are clear. And the day he left the day he was leaving. He kind of wanted to prove to the media. He wasn’t crazy. And he wasn’t making this stuff up. And he said, you will have your thunder before I leave. So before his plane took off, massive thunder, no clouds, massive thunder.
Rick Archer: That’s really interesting. Because I mean, to have thunder, you have to have lightning and to have lightning, you usually have to have clouds. So
David Gersten: yeah,
Rick Archer: I did that.
David Gersten: Yeah, I don’t either.
Rick Archer: So you would sounds like you would define insanity, then, as a being out of touch with quote unquote, reality that being able to unable to interact coherently with what we agreed upon real world. And, and Saturday, obviously, as being the opposite of that you have been being able to function efficiently, or at least you know, cogently in the real world. And, obviously, one could be. And so you’re saying that a person who is genuinely spiritually awake should have their act together. In the real world. I mean, there are exceptions of Nanda my mom more or less had to be fed and Neem Karoli Baba had to be taught to be watched her and wander off into the jungle but but in other ways, these people were extremely highly functional and profoundly influential on the people around them in a good way.
David Gersten: Yeah, with their people who came to study with them, their WF G’s, or whatever word you want to use. These folks function at an incredibly high level, right, their masters, really, their masters and their, if you look at spirituality as the foundation being human values, the Masters embody those. And there’s a system of human values of five core human values of truth. Darmowe, which is super interesting, integrity, doing the right thing, no matter what. Peace, love, non violence. All the other human values are some values of those. So someone who is enlightened, they’re not just honest, and non violent, or not that their behavior, it’s not just their behavior, it’s totally who they are. To the point where they are peace, they are love. Now, someone who’s actively psychotic. I’ve never met that person who embodies those qualities. They’re not peaceful. Their behavior, sometimes is dharmic, sometimes isn’t. You unless you have a lot of training, you sometimes you have to watch yourself to know, to be careful, you know, who am I dealing with here? By the way, not that all mental patients are violent, right? You know, in terms of this culture of violence, it’s been guns versus mental illness. And so I dove into the research on that, with all the last six months of violence in the research is people with mental illness are no more violent than the average population. So that whole discussion should be taken off the table.
Rick Archer: But then we have institutions for the criminally insane, you know, who are insane and criminal in their behavior. So there must be a subcategory of mentally ill people who are, by definition, violent also.
David Gersten: Yeah, you’re paranoid schizophrenics, who are who are actively psychotic are your most dangerous folks. Your sociopaths are equally dangerous. But it’s questionable whether you call that a mental illness. I mean, your psychopaths and sociopaths do not have a conscience.
Rick Archer: Isn’t that mental? Isn’t that illness right there being devoid of conscience or isn’t that an aberration or a kind of a severe handicap in terms is functioning as a human being
David Gersten: with a severe handicap. But see, I believe there is moral illness and mental illness. So there’s so many trials where the insanity plea comes into play, right, which I’ve written about several times, I don’t like the insanity plea, because it gives a message that you’re not fully accountable for your behavior. So my position has been try someone for the crime, did they do it or not, don’t allow insanity into that first trial. If they’re guilty for the crime, then sentenced them for whatever it is 50 years to live for murder, then if they want help, their attorney can push for a second trial, namely an insanity trial, they’re found to be really insane. Then they go to one of the state hospitals for the criminally insane. And if the point comes where they’re considered to be, quote, cured, they then are transferred to the prison to serve out the rest of the time. Now, there’s probably some except I’m sure there are exceptions to that concept. But, you know, I’ve found with the craziest person, if you treat them as if they’re responsible, they act very differently than if you treat them as as if well, this person couldn’t help it. They’re crazy. I mean, I’ve worked with really, really crazy people. And this happened in the first three months of my psych residency, where a very psychotic, paranoid schizophrenic, was admitted to my service. Before I met him, he was locked in seclusion, and he was grunting, like an animal, who’s sitting on the floor, banging his elbows into the walls of the seclusion room. And so there’s little window to look in to meet my patients. The nurse on my team is standing next to me. She says, That’s your new patient. I go, nice. Then she slips a container of liquid held on antipsychotic medicine into my hand, opens the seclusion room door and throws me in. And then locks that shuts the door behind me. I take a few steps toward this fellow. And he utters His first words, which were, I’m going to kill you, except said with an intensity. That was really pretty terrifying. Now, some greater force must have entered me, because instead of freaking out, I walked right toward this guy. And I said, you have a choice. You can drink this liquid, or I can have a nurse come in and give you a shot. Because Oh, really, I have a choice. I mean, the change was incredible. Wow. I said, you have a choice. He says, I’ll take the liquid, and said, Here you go. He took the liquid. And after I walked out of the seclusion room, my legs gave out. Wow, I’ve never had that feeling of legs turning to rubber before or since. But it was like, Whoa, well, that turned out well. But I wouldn’t know that I would reflect back on that the rest of my life. Because I saw that by giving this totally crazy, violent guy a choice. He became he behaved very differently than if you just came in and said, Okay, nurses time down, give me a shot.
Rick Archer: Interesting. So. So this, I guess implies that no matter how crazy, there’s still some kind of, at least in this guy’s case, and maybe in all cases, he would say there’s there’s still some sort of leeway we have in terms of guiding our behavior this way or that.
David Gersten: There is, I think, with almost everyone, there are degrees of choice.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, these guys who’ve done some of these mass shootings recently, there’s a whole lot of planning and decision making involved leading up to that. And of course, they’re crazy in many respects, but there’s a lot of rationality that enabled them to make such elaborate plans.
David Gersten: Yes, I think Jodi Arias is the most recent example of that. Someone who struck everyone as being a con artist who couldn’t feel the other person. I mean, if you from a spiritual standpoint, you If you’re coming from that place of the core of me as the same as the core view, okay, then you can’t harm another person. Right? These people who are capable of these murders are so disconnected, they don’t have a sense of other people, other than how they can be used for their purposes.
Rick Archer: So that’s interesting. So that does actually get us back into the spiritual angle of this interview, which is that, you know, there’s perhaps one measure of, of sanity is the degree to which you are tuned into your essence, you know, which is our mutual essence, all of us. And if you’re, if you’re totally estranged from that, then your behavior is 10 will probably be pretty crazy by you know, choose a simple term. And if you’re totally in tune with that, then your behavior will be very, very same if we want. So we can use that as a measure on the whole sanity, Insanity spectrum. You know, we can say, Okay, I’m stating this, but it’s really a question, could we use attunement to or, you know, some experience of our essence, our pure nature, our soul, our self, as the as the measuring stick.
David Gersten: I don’t know about a measuring stick. But I know that the people who come into my practice who are very spiritual, they’re going to do better than those who don’t see themselves as spiritual. But I’m in spiritual in a universal kind of sense. Right? And not in a fanatical religious kind of sense.
Rick Archer: Oh, well, in the sense that we were just discussing spiritual in terms of attunement to some deeper inner reality.
David Gersten: Right? Right. Right. Okay, so those people have done their own inventory. Someone on a spiritual quest until they’re enlightened, there’s, they’re going to have a mind that has some separation. But these are the folks who are always asking themselves, how do I improve today? How do I live in alignment with people? How do I make the world a better place? How do I live in gratitude? And that’s one that a lot of people will just take, that’s a practice, like, okay, I can practice being grateful. So those people, you know, they’re conscious of those positive qualities. And they’re conscious, we’re all conscious of where we’re weak.
Rick Archer: So it’s not it sounds like they have some introspective quality or self reflective quality, which the others don’t wish someone like Jodi Arias didn’t, you know, there’s, there’s no no inner attunement whatsoever.
David Gersten: Right? The attunement for a lot of other people is about other people as opposed to themselves. Right.
Rick Archer: And that’s where spiritual practice comes in, does it not? I mean, it’s a it’s a method of becoming inner directed rather than totally object or outer directed.
David Gersten: Yeah, definitely. Which is why, for example, in prayer or in church, you close your eyes. There may be a symbol up on the wall, that when you’re trying to make contact, you close your eyes,
Rick Archer: right? Yeah, withdraw this. And the Gita, which are refrigerated is full of references like that like, like a tortoise withdrawing its limbs, you know, that said that we withdraw our senses from their objects, and go inward.
David Gersten: Right, right. Absolutely.
Rick Archer: So can we begin to define sanity? Then I’m just kind of going at it from different angles as we as we go along. But can we can we define it by that criteria, and that there’s a sort of an inner directedness, which is not exclusive about a directedness. Because you have to have both to function in the world. But there’s a balance and kind of a, there’s that saying in the, in the Vedic literature, some place a lamp at the door, you know, which would illuminate both the inside and the outside, there’s a kind of a counter a balance between self self referral quality and object or fro quality,
David Gersten: right? You might think of it in terms of, let’s say, a schizophrenic, versus a mystic. Like, okay, how do you sort out because one of those is crazy, right? One of them is enlightened. And if you would write a description on paper, they could both look crazy. That is, if you didn’t understand Enlightenment, or a spiritual process, or the dark night of the soul, or all these other spiritual experiences, if you just write a checklist, okay, Mister can look on paper, similar to a crazy person. And I do want to say I have great respect for the mentally ill. So when I use the word crazy.
Rick Archer: You’re not insulting them or anything? Yeah.
David Gersten: No. So it’s not derogatory. You know, I’ve been really good friends with my schizophrenic patients, which is to say, I’ve been able to deal with the medical side, and then go beyond it. But that’s because I’ve been really interested in the inner world, everyone’s inner world. So those interested in the inner world have a schizophrenic patient, because it’s really a different world.
Rick Archer: So just just when you were saying that thing about how would you contrast a mistake from a schizophrenic, what came to mind as well, if you’re just trying to go by observable external criteria, you’re a little bit handicap. But if you could somehow magically completely step inside each of them and see the world as they see it, you know, from their inner perspective, then you’d see a world of difference.
David Gersten: Yes, but there are a lot of externals and it’s easier to by the way to make the distinction with a paranoid schizophrenic, versus non paranoid schizophrenic. So the paranoid schizophrenic, his life is, is organized around one thought, which is a super crazy thought. Now, mystics life is arranged also around one thought, which might be God is omnipresent. Me and God are one in the same. Every creature is imbued with this life force. And my life is dedicated to service of God. Okay, that gets on pretty crazy. Just sit down and talk with a psychiatrist for 30 seconds. He might stop you right at that point, okay? And say, why aren’t we talking about your marital problems, there’s something. So the paranoid schizophrenic, super delusions, there are many categories. The paranoid delusion might be the CIA monitors, everything I do. My phones are tapped. They’re trying to kill me. So they poisoned my water. Everything gets swallowed up into their delusion. Okay, a mystic, also, everything gets swallowed up into their delusion, that everything is one. So their love just gets bigger and bigger and bigger. So as we’ve met these various enlightened people, or regular people who don’t say they’re enlightened, they’re becoming more and more loving, of more and more people. So that there’s no one who’s really not part of that belief. And it’s more than a belief that their, their existence have in being in a state of love. So they’re more and more connected, schizophrenic is more and more and more disconnected because of that central belief.
Rick Archer: Also strikes me that the schizophrenic is, is obsessed with or controlled by just a lot of delusory mental activity, you know, aliens or zapping my brain or whatever, what whereas the mystic, it’s not so much about his mental activity. It’s really sort of a deep abiding and his true nature that characterizes him as a mystic. And, you know, mental mental activity is somewhat superfluous to that, in fact, some mystics say they don’t have any that, firstly, no thoughts in their mind that they’re just abiding in pure presence. And then that radiates and shines. So it’s really a radically different subjective state we’re talking about.
David Gersten: It’s a radically different subjective and objective state.
Rick Archer: and objectives. Yeah. So what you’re saying is that the evidence will be there and their behavior, not just in terms of their subjective world, you’re not going to find a mistake doing the kinds of things that paranoid schizophrenic would do and vice versa?
David Gersten: No, you’re not going to find many paranoid schizophrenics who are high level functioning people, right? People who you are attracted to who you want to be around who are
Rick Archer: doing the work of Mother Teresa or something like that.
David Gersten: Right, right. The paranoid schizophrenics all the information that comes with them get swallowed up into their delusion, right. So yeah, and there’s one incident in a psych hospital that kind of solidified this idea for me. I was chatting with patient in the day room at Mercy Hospital. Oh, over there. There’s a pillar and behind that is the drinking fountain. So and my patient is like right here. So I see this other patient drifting over to get a sip of water turns on the fountain and I’m looking at my patient in his eyes goes. It looks back at me. I can’t describe this, but I saw that he incorporated the sound of that water turning on. It wasn’t just a pan Same thing, the rest of us might blink for a second, and then we’d have no memory of it. I saw this guy incorporated that little event into his delusion. So everything became part of the to read some significance into it. significance. That was crazy. So great, right, right part of the paranoia. Yeah. Now, I do want to say that while someone who’s actively psychotic is someone who I want to be careful of, okay. I’ve run into schizophrenics, who displayed something spiritual. That kind of blew my mindset even further. About, let’s say mental illness. The guy was a street person, schizophrenic. They weren’t met him in the hospital. First thing I noticed, okay, the teeth, the guy has no teeth, and he’s walking with a cane. And he’s walking incorrectly with a cane. He’d stepped out into the street and got hit by car years prior. So the first thing I noticed is, no one taught this guy how to use a cane. So before I go very far with them, they say you’re not no one taught you how to use the cane correctly. Mine if I show you. So it gives me the cane and I show him the correct way to use a cane. So that was just the practical thing to do. It’s how I connected with the guy. Now. He was discharged Christmas Day. And as I was saying goodbye to him. He gives me this huge toothy grin. It says, Hey, Doc, you got a no bullshit, or I was like, and now what’s coming at me is love. Okay. Not craziness, like this clarity, right? Like the sun has popped through the clouds. I go. No kidding. What’s the No bullshit or look like? He says, Well, yours is all glittery and shiny and stuff. That’s like, wow, Chuck. Thank you. Appreciate that. So the contact made there was really, really genuine contact. And this blip of spiritual insight just popped through. And the craziness disappeared.
Rick Archer: Oh, it sounds like the guy really had something going on in terms of subtle perception. You know, they will see auras.
David Gersten: No kidding. Yeah. And clearly, yeah, his description was a very clear description. Interesting, you got to be prepared. As a psychiatrist, you have to like any craft, you have to learn your craft.
Rick Archer: Do you think he had ended up in a mental hospital because he was spiritually evolved and was seeing things that others weren’t and he was misdiagnosed and therefore hospitalized? Or what did he did? Was he really out of balance in other ways? Anyway?
David Gersten: Yeah, he was. He was a really out of balance. street person. Yeah. Hearing voices not functioning well. You know, he’s someone I don’t think I would clearly say, Okay, here’s, this is definitely his diagnosis. I think it’s more complicated, but he did well on medications. And as he cleared, okay, the spiritual part came through. But it’s see if a psychiatrist doesn’t believe, for example, that an aura can exist, right. Then everything gets treated with medications. Yeah. And so as a spiritual psychiatrist, just being aware, makes a huge difference in your work with patients. I remember along the lines of auras, I was working in another psych hospital, Mesa Vista. And like at 10 o’clock at night, I get a call from one of the nurses there. She referred to one of my patients, she says, Hey, Doc, I’m calling you because your patient needs more medication, I said, as an anti psychotic medication and said, why? She says, Well, I walked in and she said, she’s seeing auras. I said, Yeah, she probably is, she goes wet. I go, she probably is don’t medicate her. Don’t medicate her. Don’t give her more medication. Because you know, a psychotic person. You know, they can see auras like anyone else. But you got to distinguish an aura from a delusion or a command hallucination that says, kill that person. You know, something crazy, right? I did. I did walk in the next day. And I said, so. Tell me about your auras. I got a call from a nurse last night about it. I think she probably said, Yeah, I think it freaked her out. Yeah, I think it freaked her out too. So but then it’s you’re dealing person to person as opposed to simply, you know, doctor to patient. And when you create those openings, then you get at the heart of what makes people tick and what inspires people. You get this, like Chuck with you got a no bullshit or I mean, it was like so down to earth. This wasn’t a guy who’d been reading metaphysical books, because those books don’t talk about no bullshit auras. Right? This was just another person having his experience, his experience, right.
Rick Archer: My mother had all kinds of cute sayings she used to say, and one of them was, everyone is crazy, except I And thou, and sometimes I think thou art. And she, she generally didn’t have a mental breakdown. After years of verbal abuse from my father, she ended up getting hospitalized. I think initially, it was described as a nervous breakdown. But preceding that she, you know, had this kind of spiritual thing happened where she felt like she was a saint. And she was seeing auras around everything. And she was doing stuff with the Wii G board and so on. And talking to her mother who had deceased and she ended up getting hospitalized at Payne Whitney in New York. And, you know, I guess was diagnosed as schizophrenic and later as manic depressive. This went on for years and years. And finally, I got her onto a regular meditation routine, or she she finally got herself onto it after much insistence for me and came over and join me in Switzerland for nine months and hung around marshy, Mahesh Yogi and really underwent a huge amount of strengthening and it was like his gift to me because I brought it to his attention a number of times over the years because it was weighing so heavily on me. And but I remember her when she left she had a final meeting with him before she left and she said that she just saw his whole body bathed in light like she can really see his aura Bert profoundly around it. So here’s he went from kind of seeing auras on the brink of of insanity to seeing or as in a kind of a much more spiritual and stable state. And I guess the question I’m leading up to aside from telling that little story is what extent to what percentage of people do you feel are, are diagnosed as insane and are hospitalized or undergo some sort of treatment, who are in fact, highly spiritual, and just haven’t somehow come to terms with it, or in spite of their high degree of spirituality have a lot of imbalances, which actually do make them kind of crazy by anyone’s definition, and how many really, you know, people well, along on the spiritual path are locked up in our society.
David Gersten: But I couldn’t give you a number. But you’re, the description you gave of your mom is such a spiritual description. Or it’s a description of someone, either with a spiritual emergency or spiritually emerging. There wasn’t anything in your description that said, Oh, crazy person.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, she really was losing it. After all the abuse she’d undergone. She kind of reached a breaking point she’d reach a point where she’d stand in the middle of the kitchen, she couldn’t decide where to go to the refrigerator, the stove, it was like, she, her she was fried from everything she had been through, but there was still this core of spirituality, which later emerged to a profound degree. She didn’t she even completed half of her training to become a TM teacher, before she died. And even towards the end of her life, she there was still some screws, loose sheets, so some some serious neuroses and instabilities and all but she was a very spiritual person. And yet, you know, had all kinds of problems like that.
David Gersten: Well, there, I couldn’t give you numbers, but I can give you examples. This lady is now departed. But this probably 15 years ago, 20 years ago, her husband at the age of like, 65, had been hospitalized for depression, put on medication. But I knew this guy, I know this guy, very cheerful, normal, sociable, functioning guy. Right. When he’s about to be discharged, she calls me. She says, I want to run this by you what’s going on? With Ray? I said, Okay, Tami. So she tells me and a light bulb goes off and I say this ray has he had a problem with his big toes turning blue. Okay, strange question, right? She goes, Yes. And I said, and I assume they’ve tested him for gout, which is the only blood tests you would run should yeah, they didn’t find anything. I said to her, a suddenly darkened big toe is one of the signs I have a Kundalini crisis. That’s I’m like, because Kundalini is like body mind spirit. It’s the great masquerader it can look like anything. And just something in her story made me go in that direction of. Okay, I know these people. This is a funny story. And those were the first words out of my mouth. Because they have dark and painful blue dos victim victims. Yep. So, tell rate, he said this is a Kundalini crisis.
Rick Archer: Of course, they he hadn’t probably heard the word Kundalini or Oh, yeah. Oh, he had okay.
David Gersten: Yeah. I mean, when I shared it with her, she was like, Oh, of course. When I asked about energy surges, other Kundalini phenomenon. Now, I think there are lots of people who’ve had a Kundalini awakening, and didn’t know anything about Kundalini. And that could put you in the backwoods of a mental hospital forever. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Can you give us a quick definition of Kundalini for those most 90% of people listening to this probably know what it is, but just in case, they don’t just give us a quick
David Gersten: thing? Well, we have, you know, energy running through our body. In India, it’s called prana. Chinese medicine is called Chi. We call it vital energy. acupuncture works on that system of working with energy. We have a core to that energy, though, which debatably is between internally but it’s a lower thoracic area. And that energy stays pretty contained for most people, but for various reasons, which can be intense spiritual practice, or fasting or Lifetime’s of spiritual practice that can erupt on you. And when it does, if you’re unlucky, like Gopi, Krishna, that process took about 30 years to unfold. And it was agonizing. Right? Yeah, it was agonizing. Now, I don’t know if you read this in my book, but I had a full Kundalini awakening in 1976. So it’s when I talk about it, it’s not. It’s not something theoretical. I mean, and that experience remains the most powerful experience of my life.
Rick Archer: Go ahead and talk about that a bit. Let’s rattle lupus into a bit of a personal bio on you, which we haven’t done much. And then we’ll we’ll keep coming back to all these other things.
David Gersten: Okay. I was married at the time, my daughter was my daughter, Rachel was two, something like that. Yeah, she was two. And she crawled into bed, and she’s tossing and turning. And then she lets out, she kicks in her kick lands, right in my solar plexus. Not only later, years later, would I make a connection of where that kick landed? But I just said, Okay, it’s time for me to move to the couch. So I moved to the couch or fall asleep. And I have a dream in which someone says, Do you believe in forensic psychiatry? And I say yes. And then I, in the dream, I stepped back and I say, No, I don’t believe psychiatry should play God. And then I am a hit with a blast of this energy, this light that immediately takes me into a state that’s new, neither asleep nor awake. It’s a it’s a third state. Now, I’d heard about Kundalini maybe two months earlier, and I’m really lucky I’d heard about it. So this energy was like a hose of light about three feet wide. Which I can only describe it as blasting upwards. The energy, the Kundalini energy, was so great, that if the strongest emotion I’d ever felt in life was being dragged around by St. Bernard. Okay, with this experience, I was being dragged by 100 wild horses. So to compare it to you can’t compare it to anything. So a lot is going on in like less than one second. I know it’s Kundalini. I know I have a choice. I can go for the ride. Wherever that ride is, or I can fight it. And if I find it, I end up in the backwoods of some psych hospital. So I had all those thoughts quickly, and immediately. The decision was, don’t fight this. Seconds later, I heard my mind and maybe my ego burn like fall leaves in a fire. I heard my mind go and for a moment it was painful. Just a moment. And then the energy just continued to blast me up and out. And just more just nothing but being in light, and then being light. This and at the time, it may not have been upward. Because when the experience was over, one of the first things that came to me was the importance of the word ineffable. I really got the meaning of that word that something ineffable, you can’t begin to describe in words. So when the experience is over, I knew that in six months, I’d be describing it differently. So at any rate, I was blasted higher and higher, until I reached this kind of clear space in the process where I was this far from the face of Michelangelo’s David. And it was radiant,
Rick Archer: you’re seeing that as a vision
David Gersten: does solid as this table, I’m right next to it, except it’s like luminous from the inside out. And I’m just hanging out watching the right side of the face of that statue for five minutes. I mean, I couldn’t tell you anything about time, then the statute disappears. And now I’m really in a state of incredibly high energy Samadhi. I literally have no mind. My mind was burned on the ashes of the couch. arised sleeping just fizzled God. And then I’m in a state of love, peace, bliss. Zero thoughts. I’m so far from the thoughts. It’s like I was 100 miles away from having a thought. And it was like I was 100 miles above the Earth in terms of my perspective. And I saw that all human suffering is unnecessary. That in the state I was in suffering, does not and cannot even exist. But that’s probably the only thought that entered my head. Because this was such a mindless state. And so then I that was my thought about suffering. And then I remained in this Samadhi state for about, I don’t know, five hours, and slowly came back to normal consciousness. Where I’m still, like, very, very blissed out. Eventually, I wake my wife, my then wife, and tell her the experience. And she says, that’s nice. Honey, can I
Rick Archer: go back to sleep?
David Gersten: Yeah, I need to go back to sleep. That’s not an unusual response to those experiences, even with your your nearest and dearest, which poses a lot of problems for people. If the person you’re closest to thinks you’re crazy. Then who do you share with,
Rick Archer: right or isn’t interested or whatever
David Gersten: isn’t interested. Now there were other synchronicities. That morning, I was meeting with the chief resident who lived on vision drive. Just interesting. And then the afternoon, I drove to LA to visit my sister and her family. And I could see that every blade of grass containing that same energy I had experienced, it was like the hills where they were live in a very different way to the level where I really felt every blade of grass contains the equivalent of atomic energy. It’s true, there’s so much energy. And and with those experiences, they remain as clear. How many years later is 34? Something like that? Yeah. It’s definitely as clear as it was six months later. And I knew I knew that a lot. There had to be a lot of people in mental hospitals, who’d have the same experience I did. But no knowledge of Kundalini and maybe no spiritual support. I don’t know. But I know that energy will either was going up, or was going to take my mind out in a very destructive, insane way. Yeah, I was lucky and lucky and blessed.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you had enough knowledge and stability to handle it. Barely, perhaps you’d say.
David Gersten: I only heard about the word Kundalini. From one of my supervisors, a spiritual psychiatrist, Sam soundwise, right. He had mentioned this maybe two months earlier. We spent maybe 15 minutes he brought it up. Done probably part of the divine plan, because if he hadn’t mentioned it, I would have been lost and has experienced it.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a whole clinic in Tennessee, run by someone named John Harrington who split which specializes in Kundalini problems and which teaches people various breathing exercises and so on. They to clear redirect blocked Kundalini, they say people, it gets stuck in certain ways in certain channels. And this causes all sorts of grief for people until it’s redirected properly. So it’s interesting. So, I mean, as a psychiatrist than for several decades since then, have you encountered many people in your own practice who have had Kundalini awakenings and didn’t know what to make of them?
David Gersten: I wouldn’t say many. But the ones I have worked with a very, very clear, yeah, one guy. I think it came in because he was feeling anxious. He owned a restaurant, bar and grill. really stable guy, really happy guy, you know, the kind of guy who can run a restaurant, and, you know, happily connect with everyone, which is a good personality to run a restaurant, right? Sure. He had done doing a lot of I think it was Qigong. But there’s a long time ago with some kind of martial art that he believed he’d been doing to excess but the Kundalini erupted. I’ve never met anyone who weren’t erupted like a did for me, like totally fully and completely with no problem. Again, I was I was fortunate. Now this guy became anxious, the energy was too high. The world perceptually was different. All of his sentence senses were heightened visually, things are coming at him to to brightly. He’s picking up other people’s energies. And it was really overwhelming him.
Rick Archer: Sounds like an LSD trip that you can’t come down from.
David Gersten: Right. But underneath it, there’s nothing psychotic about the guy. You know, he’s easy to talk to. He was clear, coherent. He was worried about the marriage. Because he’s now in this struggling with his difficult thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And he had a sense of what was going on, right. But he just, yeah,
David Gersten: so I didn’t work to like redirect the energy. I work to bring the energy down. Some of these people will try to meditate more, or go on fasts for a few weeks, which is really dangerous. Yeah. And a lot of spiritual seekers who are not familiar with psychiatry think that Kundalini just a super great thing. Well, it can be also can be really messy. Yeah. Now the area that I think is the most interesting is the overlap between mania and Kundalini. I have seen some Maddix, who started out with a Kundalini experience. One of them was this lady from New York, who’s she’s probably 40 When I met her, something like that. But when she was 14, she had a major Kundalini awakening. And she became, she was living in a state of bliss. She was functioning quite well in school. She was a magnet. So she attracted people. It’s like she had followers without asking for him. She’s very popular, very wise, had healing abilities, incredibly psychic, nothing problematic until she was 18. And the energy reached a level, which was too much for her. But also, she had a sense of what this whole process was that there was kind of a calling for where this was taking her, which I can’t quite remember the details of, but it’s like she had turned back. She made a decision. I have to turn back. At which point, the Kundalini energy went straight into mania, that she had the gene in the family for mania. So she became very psychotic.
Rick Archer: It’s kind of like what you were saying earlier, when you had your experience. Either I can go with this, or I can resist it. And if I resisted it, I’m gonna get fried. So you went with it. And it’s almost like the moment she started resisting or not going with her destiny, as she called it. She had problems.
David Gersten: Right. And then the family gene manifested,
Rick Archer: right, which perhaps it wouldn’t have had she continued to cooperate with it
David Gersten: might not have. So she was she was very psychotic. She moved to the southwest, where she basically was a street person for five years in and out of psych hospitals, major drugs, you know, Bipolar drugs, anti-psychotics lithium, that sort of thing. By the time she made it to the San Diego area, she had been stable on meds for many years. I’ve actually it was due to the first release of are you getting enlightened or losing your mind that she made contact with me. She had researched some of the other she knew the Kundalini experts in this country. You know, Lisa nella being one, so she’d done her research. So, so my work with her was a balance of dealing with the spiritual side, the psychic stuff was back, like really big time. Almost all her dreams were lucid dreams. They’re all highly spiritual dreams. But she would go through various states, occasionally psychotic. Occasionally, mainly spiritual, Samadhi type state. But she labeled her internal states in ways that psychiatrists don’t, which, frankly, was pretty cool. So I won’t give the name of her state. But let’s say one of her states was the door. Okay, it wasn’t, but it was it was the equivalent of that. Instead of saying, I’m really depressed, it’s like, I’m stuck in the door. So I worked with her spiritually, lots of guided imagery, nutritional therapy, which by the way, is risky with many I found that amino acid therapy, you gotta be really careful because a Mannix brain is a brittle brain. So even if you’re doing something natural, I’ve found natural therapies don’t work with everything that helped tone things down. She was a wonderful person to work with. Her trust level was incredible. So there’s there wasn’t anything she didn’t share with me. And when she moved back to New York, we continued consulting for several years. Now, part of my work was to send her to a local doctor of oriental medicine, who is really, really extraordinary guy. Really amazing. And through pulse reading, over several sessions, there’s maybe maybe more than several sessions, when he felt her pulse, he could identify which of her five main mental state she was in. And again, a lot of these were states that weren’t words like depression. And he could always bump her up at least one level through his treatment. So I thought for Kundalini, someone who like an accurate, great acupuncturist who works with the flow of energy is the right person to be teaming up with. Yeah.
Rick Archer: So you brought up an interesting point here, which is that for some people, Kundalini awakening has happened spontaneously, and they can result in a great deal of fear and difficulty if a person doesn’t know what they are, and if they’re not handled properly, can result in a lifetime of mental illness. But on the other hand, there are people who, obviously millions of people who devote themselves to spiritual practice with the very real possibility, whether they know it or not, that they might be prepared that they might be eliciting a Kundalini awakening, you know, at any time, I used to go to Courses, long meditation courses, where we go for six weeks, two months, six months, you know, meditating eight hours a day and stuff, and you kind of increase your meditation and then you see, level off for some time, and then you’d spend a long time coming down from it. Depending on how long the course was, you might spend a month or something just coming down from it to and if you ever had to go into town to buy a toothbrush or something in the middle of long, the longer meditation, it would be too much to handle. So you really became very open. And I remember one of those courses, there was a whole there was like an epidemic of Kundalini awakening going on. And at one point, marshy invited all these people up on the stage and they were going through all these physical gyrations, you know, twitches and jerks and crazy stuff. And it was like a Chris Yeah, Chris. And so there’s this whole group sitting on the stage just gyrating around going through all and it you know, they they came in from the outside of the saw that they would think what is going on here. But, I guess the point I’m making is, this stuff has to be treated as the powerful thing that it is. And you know, someone if someone like gets bitten by the spiritual bug and decides they’re gonna start doing four hours of fast pranayama a day or something, they could really be getting themselves into trouble. So you really have to do this. All these spiritual practices are best done under the supervision of somebody who knows what they’re doing and and take and Safety first, you know, I mean, it’s not it’s a marathon, not a race. And I’ve seen people who push it too hard, who just go nuts? Yeah, I’ve seen that marathon, not a sprint, I meant to say,
David Gersten: right? I worked with one guy who presented with a paranoid psychosis. He’s on a spiritual path, and he’d gone on a three week fast, right? And he comes into the hospital with something that looks identical to paranoid schizophrenia. Put them on how gall two days later, he’s cured. Unheard of. I then he I discharged him to, you know, maybe two days later, followed him for in the office for another like eight or nine months. And I think it came up again, it might have been fasting or something. But and this guy was working in his spiritual organization. Working in a restaurant in town here, vegetarian place, cheerful, cool guy, someone you’d want to know, right? He ends up back in the hospital with the same severe paranoid psychosis delusions, same deal, put them on how well two days later cured, I should explain. If you’re lucky, maybe three weeks into treating someone with schizophrenia, you’re starting to see the voices go down. The delusions are gonna take if you’re lucky, months to break, sometimes you don’t break them. So again, in two days, on this medication, this guy is normal. So one of the nurses on the psych ICU comes up to me and says, Look, how can he be schizophrenic and be cured in two days? And I looked at her and I said, he breaks the rules. She goes, what? Instead, he’s breaking the rules about how to be schizophrenic. She goes, what? I just said, I’ll leave it at that. Yes, he’s, he does have a schizophrenic process. And yes, he’s responding differently than anyone you are I have ever seen. But see, it’s important for doctors to be able to, to see this person who breaks the rules. And not stuffed them into a different box. And not say well, gee, maybe he’s an atypical schizophrenic with a bit of maybe he’s schizo affective or some other kind of nonsense. It was like, No, I stick by the diagnosis. He just, he’s a guy who does it has not responded like anyone you or I have ever seen. But those are the people who teach you the most is the ones who are breaking the rules. And his again, was this mixture of spiritual process ending up in a psychotic process in someone whose underlying personality was was very sweet, and, you know, good integrity. sattwa. Yes, very
Rick Archer: good. We posit at this point, that’s psychosis that are triggered by spiritual practices might be more short lived than ones that are kind of developed over a lifetime or that are as a result of some genetic or biochemical thing. And that you can therefore recover from them more quickly, just as perhaps you would recover from an LSD trip more than you would from some kind of psychotic state that, you know, had just occurred to you without taking a drug. Is that does that make any sense that theory?
David Gersten: Well, I think what’s important is not to give people the impression that if any, they engage in spiritual practice, a vast majority are going to end up in trouble.
Rick Archer: No, that’s important to me. We’ve been talking about that so much, it’s important to emphasize that yes,
David Gersten: it’s a very, very tiny percentage. Yeah, it’s just a psychiatrist is going to see anybody anything that’s really out of the ordinary. So even if it’s gonna happen once in 1000 times, hey, if you had a rare cancer that your doctor had never seen, you’d be happy that he, he was familiar with that incredibly rare cancer. So it’s important not to, not to scare people.
Rick Archer: I think that it might be valuable to point out that, you know, in traditional spiritual paths that have stood the test of time, you know, it’s, there’s a certain emphasis on stability, you know, making sure that you’re there There’s a foundation for what you’re trying to build purification, you know that you don’t just sort of pour new wine into old wineskins is Jesus’s phrase, there has to be the vehicle has to be fit for the thing that you’re trying to awaken. Integration at every step of the way, there’s, you need to sort of integrate it with the real world and not go off into lala land at all, you know, all those things are, are kind of essential if there’s to be genuine growth and any kind of stability to that growth. It’s, again, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, and, and it has to be approached in a balanced way. And that’s why you see things like, you know, Patanjali is eight limbs of yoga, advocating all sorts of things that I’ve just mentioned, I mean, various purificatory processes and behavioral modifications and ethical adjustments and so on to really make you qualified for Samadhi qualified for
David Gersten: Enlightenment. Right. In fact, I was thinking of Patanjali, maybe 10 seconds before you mentioned his name, synchronicity again. Yeah. I was thinking back again, to the Kundalini experience I had. And over the years, I started to feel like that was kind of like a rocket ship taking off. Without it was like a vertical takeoff without a horizontal foundation. Right. And so I realized, I don’t need I don’t think I need more rocker trips right now. I think in terms of what Patanjali talks about, you know, your yamas and niyamas, human values, social norms, you know, commitment to truth, the Dharma, love, non violence, etc. Understanding other everyone is the way that Americans describe it with the phrase Matakohe assay, which literally means every everyone is part of an interconnected web of life. So becoming established, like, that’s your LaunchPad is like, okay, which I’m sure I wasn’t at that point where I, my rocket took off. So it’s okay. I see, I need this. The only way to explain this horizontal Foundation, and Patanjali. Yeah, I think one of the important things in his eightfold path and I may get this wrong yamas and niyamas. Then yoga, asanas, yoga postures pranayama, chronic front of Yama, breath control. pratyahara sense control, which is really to say, you stop being controlled by your senses, pulling you out into the world, right? Then comes dharana number six, which is concentration. deonna, which is meditation, that’s number seven. And number eight is Samadhi. Right? So a lot of people think of these last two steps as where you want to be spiritually, like meditation and Samadhi. Yeah, go for the Yeah, go for the goal. So, yeah, Patanjali his path is like, okay, you know, take things slow, develop a foundation, go from there. And then you’re going to be, you know, you’re going to be physically fit, mentally fit, and in a good position for meditation, and Samadhi.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s one way one way of looking at it, which is that, you know, it is called Ashtanga Yoga, eight limbs. And when limbs grow, they grow simultaneously, you don’t just grow an arm and then grow another arm, and then a leg, right? You know, everything kind of grows simultaneously to what, to the same degree. And so one way of looking at it is that all these things that Samadhi only grows to the extent that all these other things have grown, and you really can’t get, you know, growth of any one of the eight limbs that’s way out of proportion to the others, they sort of are tied together, maybe like a rubber band. And sometimes the road bend seems very loose in some cases, but there’s definitely some correlation that can’t be broken.
David Gersten: Yeah, I haven’t heard that metaphor before that. But that makes sense that you would be evolving multiple aspects of your life at the same time.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Which kind of leads us into the whole notion of Crazy Wisdom teachers and people who use Crazy Wisdom, in my opinion, as an alibi for inappropriate behavior. I mean, there’s so many teachers and gurus and so on that have gotten caught with their pants down. Literally, and, or done all kinds of stuff. You know, in some cases, it’s really egregious and very sick and very harmful to people. I guess I won’t get into naming names. But you know, and sometimes these people and their followers you Is this Crazy Wisdom notion as an alibi for that behavior, they’re trying to teach us something, they’re breaking our boundaries. They’re busting our egos, you know, they’re above the laws of human morality, because they’re so transcend, transcend, and so on and so forth. And, you know, I toyed with that accepting those notions. But when you get right down to it, I don’t buy it. I feel like there’s, you know, Ken Wilber talks about lines of development, and that you can this and this contradicts what I was just saying about the eight limbs, but that you can get fairly far advanced along certain lines and really be quite immature in other areas of development. So go with that for a bit.
David Gersten: Yeah, and I definitely know one of the people you’re talking about. Yeah. And the sad thing is, if someone has been a devotee of someone who is really not a legitimate guru, they can be spiritually wrecked for life. Because if it’s if it’s really a system where there’s, you know, serious boundaries that are crossed. And it’s clearly, the teachings are not part of ancient traditions. I mean, you’re gurus of India, you may have some behaving strangely, but the foundation is very similar over 1000s of 1000s of years. I think that’s true. And you know, that Christian mystics and you know, all religions, so if you end up with a guru like that, you can be wrecked and you will find it very hard to recognize, well, who’s the legitimate guru from? Who isn’t? But if you didn’t round the real deal, the differences are pretty great. I mean, years ago, a friend of mine said, hey, I want you to join me watching this video of this really cool lady. And said, Tell me more. She goes, No. Said, She Said, I certainly wouldn’t know. She says, You’re gonna love it. And I said, I’ll go. But we should take two cars. Because if I don’t like it, I’m leaving at the break. So I won’t say who this person was, other than the behavior was so bizarre. And so unlike the real teachers, that I’ve either met or read on this planet, but I’ve got people in the small room. There’s men behind me sobbing, like they have found the personal Savior. And I was trying not to laugh out loud. Because it was like, Man, this is not the real deal. But this is this is a semi crazy scene. It’s people in this room. It’s like, I have found my personal savior. So there was an intermission. And I went up to my friend, and I said, I’m leaving now. Do you want to maybe, maybe we came together. And she said, I should get a ride back if she needs it. I said, I’m leaving. What do you want to do? I’m staying. I said, Cool. Enjoy yourself. I said, I’ve really seen enough. I enjoyed myself. And I said, I have a lot of really good laughs quietly.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, you know, Charlie Manson was very charismatic character, to the people who were attracted to him. And, you know, maybe this is something you can touch upon is that sometimes crazy people have a lot of charisma. And, and one of his rationales for doing what he and his little group did was that, you know, it’s since since everything is one, there is no morality, he kind of used a Vedantic perspective are a sort of a skewed understanding of one to justify a horrific murder. So, I mean, what’s this? What about this thing that, you know, a person could really be off kilter and yet have a fair amount of charisma, at least to certain people’s perspective? It can radiate a lot of something. Yeah, well, I mean, Adolf Hitler, for that matter.
David Gersten: Correct. Who, by the way, was a very metaphysical person.
Rick Archer: He was a vegetarian.
David Gersten: Yeah, I mean, Hitler’s studied ancient Egyptian and Vedic lore.
Rick Archer: The Nazi symbol of a swastika is an ancient Vedic symbol. You find it on you know all kinds of things in India although it’s reversed in its in the opposite direction of the one the Nazis used.
David Gersten: Right? But it’s very strange the first time you go to India,
Rick Archer: you see all these swastikas
David Gersten: swastikas right. So the people like Charlie Manson, okay, we’re dealing with crazy people or very sick sociopaths. Because your sociopaths can be very likable. They can be magnetic.
Rick Archer: He had the boys in his circle at one point they were kind of sucked into it for a while.
David Gersten: Yeah, that’s right. Or Jim Jones.
Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah, there you go.
David Gersten: He, he fed off the fears and desires of people who were not spiritually discriminating, not discriminating. Right? So they just went for the ride of this guy who promised, you know, whatever, salvation through him. So I don’t see sociopaths as having mental illness, as opposed to huge moral illness.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, Ravana, of the Ramayana, who was Ramas adversary in the Ramayana, was said to be a very charismatic character, very well versed in all the scriptural knowledge, full of all kinds of cities and powers, and so on and so forth. In other words, a very evolved person, by all if he was a person, by all most definitions, and yet he was supposed to be the kind of the epitome of evil in that age. And yet, what happened was, and as often happens in those stories, when Rama killed him, he attained Enlightenment. And it was like he was, according to the story, actually a great being who chose the role of a demonic life in order to meet God and, you know, human form as Rama and be killed by him in order to achieve his salvation. And he just sort of played his role in as a negative guy. Because I guess in the whole balance of the universe, some people have to play those roles, but it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lowly evolved.
David Gersten: Well, Ravana certainly had among the greatest siddhi Powers on the planet, almost equal or equal to Rama said to have created this thing, I don’t believe in alternate universes,
Rick Archer: right.
David Gersten: Which existed and collapse because the foundation underneath it wasn’t great. Yes. You know, that was his story with the spiritual, no. Spiritual in the sense of what how do you define spiritual?
Rick Archer: Well, your thing about, you know, non violent and loving and all that stuff? No, but he was apparently at a high level of evolution. He just wasn’t manifesting it in terms of those qualities.
David Gersten: Well, he was a high level of developing city powers. You know, it’s not uncommon in world politics, to have like a battle of the psychics behind the scene. This went on in Noriega’s Panama, with Colonel Diaz was his assistant. Friend of mine Shama is a psychic who’s consulted to like six heads of states. She happened to be in Panama. where she’d go I think every couple of years she is she’d become very popular. She’d be like, the equivalent of the Oprah Winfrey Show of Panama. So she’s there for a while, hanging out with a friend of hers one morning, and Colonel Diaz, the VP of the country shows up at her where she’s hanging out.
Rick Archer: And Noriega was Nicaragua right, not Panama.
David Gersten: I’m sorry.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
David Gersten: Yeah.
Rick Archer: Okay.
David Gersten: Wait,
Rick Archer: yes, it was, it was like a dictator and Nicola Nicaragua. Okay, right.
David Gersten: So Colonel Diaz shows up, says, I want to reading Shama says, I don’t do readings Wednesday mornings, or whatever it was. He says, you know who I am? She goes, I don’t really care who you are. And vice president of the country. She goes, nice.
Rick Archer: Come back tomorrow.
David Gersten: Come back tomorrow. So he says, Well, what are you gonna do this if we’re gonna be this afternoon and she tells him so he shows up a few hours later, at this new location with his bodyguards in their semi automatic weapons, and says, I’d like my reading now. So she doesn’t have any choice. She gives them a reading tells him Oh, well, there’s going to be a very major revolution in your country very soon. The good news is you have now she introduced Colonel Diaz to her teacher and my teacher is Sai Baba. Diaz becomes just connected very quickly. So he has pictures of Sai Baba in his office suddenly. Noriega has like pictures of the devil when it Hitler. And so he’s into psychics also, but he’s very much Darkside kind of person that made it to the New York Times with an article called like, in a battle of the psychics, wow. So both of them were into metaphysical stuff. But Diaz was basically evolving very quickly as a spiritual person. Noriega was continuing to evolve as a really pretty evil person. The rest of the story is too long to go into, other than to say that when Shama left and came back to LA, and Colonel Diaz was now in prison, he was hot wiring the phones in the prison to reach her in LA. One day, she gets a knock on her door in LA, from Noriega’s thugs, saying, Okay, here’s what you need to tell your friend if you want him to live. So they asked me to write a letter, she says, she writes a letter knowing it’s going is not going to Diaz first, that letter is going straight to Noriega. So she writes a letter with that intention. Colonel Diaz is freed as the result of that. Now, also, as a result of that, Shama stopped consulting for politicians. And, you know, heads of state, because she realized she, Noriega’s thugs would not have hesitated to kill her.
Rick Archer: So what’s the moral of the story in terms of the whole theme of our discussion here,
David Gersten: you can have psychic powers and people interested in psychic phenomenon. The Paranormal is essentially neutral. So in this story, one of the people interested was very much on a spiritual quest path. And the other wasn’t the other was on a, essentially a demonic path.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, that kind of leads into my final line of questioning, which is that there’s a whole section of your book. That’s about all sorts of paranormal and extrasensory things, you know, seeing ghosts and having visions and, and ESP. And, you know, I mean, you don’t get into extraterrestrials. But you know, he covered the whole gamut of out of the ordinary experiences that people have. And without a really clear understanding of all this in our culture might be easy to lump all those into the basket of spirituality. But perhaps I don’t think you do that. There’s some things which could be a lead you down to the dark towards the dark side. And, and others not. So let’s, let’s talk about that for a minute.
David Gersten: Yeah, well, that whole section of the book, was really what the book is about. Are you getting enlightened or losing your mind, really, one of the subtitles could have been most of you don’t need to worry, you’re not losing your mind. But at least 70% of the population has had a paranormal or spiritual experience. And it all gets lumped into either I have no idea what it was. I’m crazy. But people need to know what their experience was. Because when you can name something, then you gain power, and you can move forward. If you’ve had some experience, you don’t know what to call it. Well, your doctors aren’t going to know what to call it. So it’s all going to be lumped into. Well, this is craziness.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so I want to and there are other disciplines too, which might lump it that ways. For instance, fundamentalist Christians would say, well, all of that stuff is of the devil. You know, it’s all bad.
David Gersten: Correct? Right. Correct. So I wanted to write about every spiritual and paranormal experience I could think of, and not just like, quoting from an encyclopedia, but from personal experience, legitimate texts, patients, etc, etc. So that someone who’s had an unusual experience is going to find it in this book. Then they can go oh, so I have this. And I’m not crazy. No, the other section there’s another section called lost mind, which describes all the major mental illnesses. So that partly so that people wondering what their experiences they can read through the section on mental illness, most of them are going to discover they’re not schizophrenic, they’re probably not bipolar, it’s not that that’s not going to happen. But most people are having these experiences or just everyday mistakes, whoever use after they’re just everyday mistakes. Now one of them be able to look through the mental illness section and go, Oh, okay, I’m a little bit anxious, but that’s really not what this is about. So then they could go through that section, are you getting like you’re losing your mind miracles versus Madison go? That was my departed father who visited, that’s normal happens all the time. Now, yeah, I did write about a few things that are on the unpleasant side, I would say which psychic attack and spirit possession are the most difficult. Definitely the most difficult to understand enough to write about in the book. This is really poorly understood stuff. And there’s a lot of stuff I wrote back where I didn’t find good references in any other books. So sometimes my patients taught me a lot. Sometimes friends who were either spiritually evolved or great psychics or both, would give me their insights. And I did have patients who taught me a lot like in this area of psychic attack and spirit possession.
Rick Archer: And you would agree with you that those two things are not inherently spiritual in any way. They they’re, it’s a problem, but it doesn’t really have anything to do with genuine spirituality, or would you not agree with that?
David Gersten: No, I think it’s a problem. Yeah. It’s a problem.
Rick Archer: It’s an it’s an out of the ordinary problem. But it’s just as spirituality can be out of the ordinary, but it’s not spiritual merely because it’s out of the ordinary.
David Gersten: Right? It’s a, it’s a paranormal experience, which is generally dark and destructive, right? Now frequently occurs, along with addictions, by the way,
Rick Archer: because you weaken yourself and make yourself vulnerable to such things.
David Gersten: Right, right. So some of my more gifted patients have told me they like in a bar. They’ve seen entities popping in and out of very drunk people. I say, yeah, they’ve also seen entities popping in and out of schizophrenics in the hospital. And they’ve described that schizophrenics, like an addicted person can be like, an open target. Yeah, they’re an easy mark. Yeah, they’re, they’re an easy mark. Right. So that makes a full psychospiritual diagnosis. A wee bit more complicated, because then people will ask me, So schizophrenia, like, is that caused by spirit possession? And the answer is, no, basically, no. I mean, for that illness, the gym genetics of schizophrenia are super high.
Rick Archer: I remember one time I was stoned, with some friends in a graveyard, because it was a nice place to go to get stoned and not get caught by the cops. And I was sitting on a gravestone and for quite a while i and this is like how I was, you know, 18 years old. For quite a while, I felt like I was engaged in a battle with something that was trying to take me over. And, you know, that didn’t kind of thing didn’t usually happen to me when I was, you know, smoking marijuana, but it was a very memorable experiences scary. Well, that was vulnerable, you know,
David Gersten: marijuana can cause that kind of opening. Yeah. can definitely cause it when the Native Americans use it as a spiritual opening, right. So that you could have really clear insights. But it also can create an opening for negative forces, or what I call looky loos. Or sometimes people just want to pop in and it’s like, just thought I just looked like an interesting party thought I’d join.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, if you’re a disembodied spirit, who’s kind of like, in some limbo state, you might want to get embodied and whenever possible,
David Gersten: right, so a spiritual person, even smoking marijuana will say you out you met him a stronger force,
Rick Archer: right? I eventually, you know, got out of the situation, but it was felt like a battle for quite some time. Scary. Yeah. Know what would have happened if I’d lost the battle. And actually, you know, I’ve had, you know, many I’ve had a little bit of this myself, but much more vividly with some friends where, during long meditation courses, they felt like some major embodied entity has left them, you know, They had been kind of like in there for a long time. And they it was like, okay, you’ve had enough you’re out of here. I’m strong enough to cast you out now. And of course, there’s a whole story of Jesus casting out demons with people because he had that authority.
David Gersten: Yes, but that yeah, there is that issue of Do you have the strength to do that? Like I worked with a nurse for years in a VA hospital outpatient clinic. And I’ve probably known her for years, before she shared this experience, which was that for very long years, and years and years, as she would be woken by this kind of male dark force at the foot of her bed, literally shaking and rattling her bed, it would wake her up. And I mean, she’d be looking for this thing. Scary, scary. And she just, it went on for a very long time, until she reached the point where she had enough strength. And one morning, this thing, woke her up, shook her bed. And somehow she summon the strength she needed. And she sat up and screamed at this thing. And just said, you get the hell out of here, never come back. But she had mustered that level of clarity, that if I don’t do something, this thing is wrecking my life. And when she had that clarity, and the strength, she was rid of this thing forever. Interesting. And so many people have these stories. So many people?
Rick Archer: Well, yeah, and again, the whole theme of your book is you’re not losing your mind, these things are legitimate issues. And you know, you need to sort of, first of all come to terms with the fact that you’re not crazy, and something really is going on. But then secondly, obviously there could be ways of dealing with and like if someone came to you and said that was happening, you might advocate some practice or something which could strengthen them and get them to the point where they could tell it to stop.
David Gersten: Yeah, actually, I did develop a treatment for unwanted visitors, which was a wasn’t a drug based. I mean, it was a Milton Ericksonian kind of paradoxical treatment that I that I write about in Are you getting enlightened or losing your mind. When I put that technique together, though, I wasn’t really thinking that this person’s uncle was really visiting. I just knew whoever was visiting or whatever the experience was, he didn’t like it. So even if it’s some beloved person who’s passed on, if you don’t have a frame of reference for it, suddenly, that can become very scary for you.
Rick Archer: Yeah. There’s one other thing I want to talk to you about, which is that it was reference to my own experiences, but it applies to many perhaps, when I first started on meditation started on a spiritual path, it was tremendously strengthening for me, you know, I had before that I had dropped out of school, and you know, couldn’t live with my father. And, you know, it’s just doing all kinds of crazy stuff getting arrested, and this and that. And when I, within a couple of weeks after learning, I, you know, completely dropped all my dog, druggie friends made whole new circle, it actually didn’t make new friends, like walk the dog for a few months without making any friends because I just needed to sort of get my feet on the ground. But I got a job got back into school. So I had this incredibly wholesome effect on my life. But then, you know, over the decades, I went through a long stretch, which I consider decades, where I feel like looking back on it, I was really kind of crazy at times. But in the sense that, you know, I mean, it wouldn’t have I wouldn’t have struck people that way. I could get up and give a perfectly coherent lecture and, you know, take courses and it’s not, but there was a sort of inner transformation taking places inner catharsis, which was happening in a state of sort of eccentricity, you know, obsessiveness, idiosyncratic indulgence, you know, just really nutty in many ways. Kind of, well, one of our criteria that we discussed early in the interview was kind of being well integrated with the world. I wasn’t. And it’s because there was such a sort of a inner orientation that the world was kind of unreal to me, and I didn’t interact with it well, for that reason. And, you know, then eventually, I got married, and that was a tremendous help and getting more grounded and more, more real and more sane. And my poor wife had to, you know, do a lot of work to help me get there, but
David Gersten: I’m sure she doesn’t think of it that way.
Rick Archer: No, maybe not. But does this ring a bell with you? I mean, do you yeah. As a spiritual practitioner yourself for decades, and as someone who knows many of them, do you see people as going through a kind of maybe we could call it dark night of the soul really in a sense, where there’s just a long period of inner rearrangement, which kind of leaves you in a limbo state until you finally come out the other end and things are, get more integrated, stabilized, and you’re kind of more, you know, you’re in a much nicer state, but you’re, you’re more normal again.
David Gersten: Well, yours is definitely a transitional experience. From here’s this for want of a better word, a dark life that you recognize, like, not good. And here’s a much more positive life that you recognize and you move in that direction. But then every, everything is being reshuffled inside. Yeah, there’s
Rick Archer: so many things that had to be purged or changed or strengthened or whatever.
David Gersten: Yeah, that can be looked at as, oh, this person’s crazy as a person as opposed to No, this is a journey that’s unfolding. And it’s not always a pleasant journey. I mean, as Larry Dossey said, the spiritual path is not for wimps. You know, I like that, quote. There’s a term that I started using around 1998 That I call karma surfing. Now, I, for years, part of my nighttime prayers are a pray for liberation. That I read a book by this lady I mentioned, whose husband had this Kundalini black toe experience. And one of her books. She talks about the moment she’s she switched from praying for liberation to liberation, no matter what. And I read that I went, Oh, it’s a big difference. I mean, I could just feel a pray for liberation. I pray for liberation, no matter what that’s like, you take a deep breath. Okay. And for at least the next 10 years, that was part of my evening prayers. Now, the stuff that started coming at me, the challenges I had to move through, were like grade six to 10. And probably 35 of them over the last 14 years. It’s a lot of them. So they would hit you. And it’s like, well, you know, knock you for a loop. After a while, I started to see that I was surfing through them was like, Oh, here’s more karma. It’s part of that upgrade for liberation, no matter what stuff. By the way, folks, don’t pray for that unless you’re ready for the consequences, because it means you’re going to burn off your mind, your ego, any karma that’s left from this life or past lives, you don’t know what you’re asking for. I’m not saying don’t do it. Be prepared
Rick Archer: know what you’re getting into? Yeah.
David Gersten: So I got better at just surfing through them and over them. Interesting to the point where office manager at one point said, I don’t know how you do this. I said to do what she said this thing you had to deal with today? She said I would have flipped out. Yeah, I know. I’ve gotten so used to it. I’m like, you know, I’ve learned how to surf through karma. And just or surf over karma. Yeah. So a part of that process. different process than yours, but still my version of my journey, my version of the journey.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Mercy once said, When the postman knows you’re gonna move, he tries to deliver all your mail. It’s like, you know. And a lot of people say, you know, a lot of people I’ve interviewed and all they say, you know, awakening is not by any means, the end of the game, it’s really the beginning, because once a profound awakening has taken place, especially a really abiding one that’s kind of stable foundation, then I’ll help them break loose, you know, because there’s, there’s just so much in the relative structure that’s not in congruence with that, that awakening that’s taking place and it’s all got to rearrange itself in order to, you know, come into alignment.
David Gersten: Yeah, and that awakening is very much an Inner Awakening. So we’re very attached to here’s how our external life is going. Yeah, our relationships, our finances or health, the spiritual path, it doesn’t ignore that stuff at all. But it says you’re not going to find the answers out there. You need to find how to dive deeper and deeper internally. And so everyone’s journey is going to be very different, but usually with challenges. Yeah. Because in spiritual organizations, and spiritual seekers, I’ve seen this a lot. Their lives didn’t get easier. At least Not for a while, I would say over time, they got much better. Like they had the past through something like that The Dark Knight, or just more challenges than they thought they could handle. Except it really wasn’t more challenges than they could handle. It’s more than they thought they could handle. Which is the point when you think you’re going crazy, right? Where you’re hit with so much stuff you feel like, this is beyond my ability to cope.
Rick Archer: Yeah, there’s a sort of a spiritual cliche that God doesn’t give you more than you can handle. You know?
David Gersten: I think that’s true. Although you have to stay committed to some fundamentals. Gotta be committed to what I call, you know, honesty, really profound honesty, which isn’t just, I’m telling you the truth, but it’s like, it’s more subtle. It’s like, okay, I don’t exaggerate. Like at all. And being aware, oh, you know, I tell this person this story. And I didn’t mean to, but this little piece here wasn’t 100% True. I’ll go back and correct that. Which will seem trivial to most people. But it’s like, no truth is, is kind of a you’re either committed to truth or you’re not. So if you’re committed to truth, and dharma, which is you can kind of summarize the Vedas in a phrase sadhak invited Dharma jar, speak the truth, practice dharma. That little equation is enough to see you through your spiritual path.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s good. You know, this, this theme of awakening, and then having all hell break loose, because your individual life has to re align itself to, to that awakening, I wonder whether something like that may not be happening to the world at large at this point, because there does seem to be a mass awakening occurring. And I wonder if we’re going to see or are already seeing, you know, societal upheavals that will be necessary in order for the society, the world, the economic systems, the political systems and military systems and all that to come into alignment with higher consciousness. Yeah, I, whether you’re gonna see some kind of epidemic of insanity as those who are unable to handle the energy or hit with it.
David Gersten: I think we already have the epidemic of insanity. Not psychiatric insanity, but kind of societal global fracturing of the foundations of everything.
Rick Archer: And I don’t think everything has collapsed yet, but the foundations are cracking badly.
David Gersten: But there are areas parts of the world where things are shifting. Yeah. Where, you know, Americans tend to think we’re the cutting edge of everything. If I can share just a little bit about what’s going on in this little country, Trinidad and Tobago. So I’m a devotee of Sai Baba, and I’m blessed with a center where just incredible people are passing through like once a month. So we have these speakers who are inspiring, like one after another. So a couple of months ago, there’s this fellow from Trinidad born raised Muslim. And he starts to get interested in eastern spirituality, which often Hindu or it could be Tibetan Buddhism, but involves a form. Okay, in Islam, you don’t worship a form. This guy is kicked out of his mosque. But from a very early age, this guy had a yearning for God, which went way beyond any religion. Incredible yearning. Now a friend of his turns him on to Sai Baba. He reads the book and goes, I gotta go meet him. So he goes to India. Meet Sai Baba has very profound experience with him. Comes back to Trinidad and Tobago. And people started asking him just to talk and give presentations. Now he’s still knocked out of the mosque, okay. But he’s such a humble, loving, integrative guy, that ultimately what happened was Hindus, Christians and Muslims are now praying together in the same place in Trinidad and Tobago. Nice and then and the judgment of a group of them presumably not the entire country, but the entire country is shifting really okay and the entire country has now picked up and educated rational system Sai Baba developed called education and human values. So that the educational system is now because I guess it goes by SSC. Now so I spiritual education. So there’s a harmony like between forces that had been really fighting each other. So there’s now there’s five Sai Baba radio stations. There’s two government stations that have one hour devoted to Sai Baba discourses per week. And I’m like, why don’t I know about this? And? And then right across, like, from Alaska to Russia. That political reference there. From there to Venezuela, you can? Oh, I got it. You can see Venezuela. Yeah, the new president of Venezuela as I Baba devotee, so we’ve gone from a dictator to very, very spiritual guy in one election. So I don’t know if I’m right at all. But I said to myself, this is a very interesting pot positive pot that’s brewing in Trinidad and Tobago, where now I have friends going back and forth, just just to experience what’s happening. So I thought, this makes sense to me. You would think, let’s change the United States, as an example, or Russia or whatever, Brazil, China, instead of some rather small nation. But it looks like there’s this rather small nation that is changing in a very powerful spiritual direction. To the point where you know, at the services, you now have Muslim chants being sung, but Christian chef, Hindu chants and hymns, all side by side. That’s when I heard that it’s like, okay, heavy duty. It’s nice, really nice. So you need to be very positive about this.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And you need a bigger motor to get an ocean liner going, then to get a rowboat going. So it might take a bit more for the United States or Western Europe. And, and it’s not all going to be Sai Baba. I mean, there’s obviously a huge diversity of spiritual influences, and teachers and whatever, that are all kind of in this together, each each doing their thing. But I’m optimistic. I really feel like, you know, this awakening world awakening Age of Enlightenment, you know, New Age, whatever that’s been predicted as is there. There’s signs of it manifesting and, you know, see what, not to the extent to which it doesn’t manifest within our lifetimes. But our lifetime certainly is at the end of our lives. So it doesn’t really matter.
David Gersten: Right. And we’re all doing our part, right. I mean, you’re doing your part towards this global awakening. Yeah. I mean, these things are important. It’s not a question of is this person reaching 10 million people? or 10 people? Right? It really isn’t. So it’s important stuff you’re doing here.
Rick Archer: And you too, I mean, we all have our little spheres of influence.
David Gersten: And then we surrendered what we do to the universe and say, Okay, here’s what I’ve shared. Now, it’s out of my hands, what the universe does with what we’ve done here. Yeah. Great. Well, I think it’s all good stuff.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s a nice note to end on. Unless you have any final thoughts. I could wrap it up at this
David Gersten: point. Oh, you can wrap it up, because I could go on for another eight hours. Me too.
Rick Archer: I mean, that way, yeah. I won’t have enough hard drive space to public to process the interview. If I don’t takes it takes a whole terabyte to process, a long interview. That’s, that’s 1000 gigabytes. But anyway, let’s not get techie. This has been great. David, I really appreciate this conversation. I think it’s given a lot of people a lot of food for thought and a lot of might help a lot of people who thought they were there’s something wrong with them. And, you know, perhaps some will come to see you. Your contact information will be on is on your website. And I’ll be linking to your website from batgap.com. And we unfortunately, we didn’t really get into the amino acid therapy. That’s what it is. Right? Amino Acid therapy. Yeah. But they can find out about that on your website. And and that might be of great benefit to people too.
David Gersten: And people can get the book. Are you getting enlightened or losing your mind anywhere? Yes. on Amazon or any bookstore, whatever. Yeah. And it’s on my publishers website with the moon publishing. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And I’ll be linking to the Amazon page of the book itself from great from batgap.com. So people know what to do.
David Gersten: Perfect.
Rick Archer: Good.
David Gersten: All right. Thank you so much.
Rick Archer: Yeah, before you hang up. Let me just make a few wrap up points. I’ve been this has been an interview Is Dr. David Gersten or David Grossman, MD, and it is one in an ongoing series, the entire series is firstname.lastname@example.org, which is an acronym for Buddha at the Gas Pump. It’s also all there on YouTube. But it’s a little bit easier if you go to BatGap got backup.com, because it’s an alphabetical index is a chronological index. And you can read a little bit about each person and so on. There also, you’ll see a discussion group that crops up around each interview. There’s usually several 100, sometimes nearly 1000 posts in the course of a week, in each with each entity with people discussing things that have been brought up, or going off on tangents as the case may be. And there is also a link to an audio podcast in case you’d like to listen to this stuff while you’re commuting. So I’m not just sitting in front of your computer, there is a link to a page where you can sign up for an email newsletter to just be notified by email whenever a new interview is posted. And there’s a donation button, which I appreciate people clicking on if they have the desire and the ability. So that’s good. So thanks, David.
David Gersten: Thank you. My pleasure. That was fun.
Rick Archer: Yeah, lots of fun, and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching and we’ll see you next week.