Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve been doing it for over six years now. And if this is new to you, you can check out previous interviews by going to batgap.com. and looking under the past interviews’ menu, where you’ll see them all organized in a variety of ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative viewers and listeners. So if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it in any amount, there’s a PayPal button on the site. And if you don’t like PayPal, there’s a page explaining other ways of supporting. So, my guest today is David Spangler. I received an email three years ago, I was just looking at it, from a fellow named Jose. And he said, “If I could cast a thousand votes for somebody,” because we have a voting system for helping to determine the priority of guests, “it would be David Spangler.” He said, “David has been awake since he was a child, and he’s had 60 years to mature in his experience and understanding, and I think he’d be a fascinating guest.” And having just read a couple of David’s books and listened to some of his interviews, I think I agree with Jose. Let me just read a little bio here. “David Spangler has been a teacher of spiritual potentials since 1964. From 1970 to 1973, he was co-director of the Findhorn Foundation community, which is in northern Scotland.” Is it in northern Scotland?
Rick: He is a fellow of the Lindisfarne Association, co-founder of the Lorian Association, which is a spiritual educational foundation, and a director of the Lorian Center for Incarnational Spirituality. His work involves enabling individuals to embody the innate spirituality of their incarnations. He is the author of over 30 books, including Journey into Fire, Apprentice to Spirit, Subtle Worlds and Explorer’s Field Notes, and Facing the Future. He writes a free monthly email essay called David’s Desk. He also writes a quarterly esoteric journal of his work and explorations with the subtle worlds, titled Views from the Borderland. In recent years, this work has brought him into contact with the Sidhe. Is that pronounced correctly?
David: Say that again, Rick.
Rick: With the Sidhe, S-I-D-H-E.
David: With the s-h-e. Pronounced like she.
Rick: Oh, like she, okay. The Elven Cousins of Humanity. He describes his experiences in a book, Conversations with the Sidhe, and through a special card deck, the card deck of the Sidhe, which he created with Jeremy Berg with inspiration and guidance from their Sidhe context. Information about his journal, David’s Desk, and online courses, books and workshops can be found at lorian.org. David is happily married, and I’ve met his happy wife, Julie, with four adult children. So, we’re going to start, David, I think, by getting to know who you are a little bit by unfolding some of your personal story, which began, well, all of our personal stories began in childhood, but your personal spiritual story started in childhood. But before we get into that, since we’re going to be talking a lot about subtle realms and the beings that reside there, perhaps we could just define what subtle realms are. And the reason I ask is that there are a lot of people, some of whom are very ardently spiritual and sincere seekers, who think that all talk and discussion of subtle realms is just fantasy. I interviewed a guy named Jürgen Ziewe, a while back, whom you may know, and some guy started debating me in YouTube comments about subtle realms. He thought the whole thing is “makyo,” which is a Buddhist term for illusory and imaginary, and people are just dreaming this stuff up and it has no reality. And even if it does, it’s not worthy of our attention because we should really be going for self-realization, going for the absolute unchanging truth. We don’t want to get waylaid or caught up in all sorts of subtle phenomenon, which might not really be ultimately significant. So, you’ve probably heard that objection before. Let’s just address that, but also, what are we talking about when we talk about subtle realms?
David: So, the subtle realms are simply the non-physical side of the planet’s ecosystem. If I think of the Earth as a whole entity, then it has physical and non-physical aspects, just as we do. And the subtle realms is a way of talking about those non-physical aspects. And actually, I agree with the proposition that the subtle realms by themselves won’t add or detract from a person’s internal spiritual journey any more than things around me in the physical world will do that. They can be a distraction, or they can be an assistance. They’re just part of the environment in which my life is being lived. So, for me, the subtle worlds are another side to the Earth’s ecology. I don’t think of them as spiritual worlds as such. They’re another area in which life is manifesting. It just happens to be manifesting on frequencies of existence that are normally outside our physical perception.
Rick: And do you feel like physics provides a useful metaphor in terms of its understanding that the deeper we go into the structure of matter, the less physical it becomes?
David: Well, yes, it can. And certainly, people use metaphors from physics to describe the subtle worlds. In fact, that’s been fairly common since the 19th century. But I prefer biological metaphors, which to me describe more accurately what my own experiences are like. And there’s something about physical metaphors or metaphors from physics, I should say, that it puts a more impersonal and non-living side to it. Whereas biology, to me, emphasizes the fact that we’re dealing with a living realm.
Rick: Yeah, albeit one that you wouldn’t be able to see under a microscope or something, because such an instrument like a microscope doesn’t operate in the subtle fields. Or does it? if someone with the ability to perceive the subtle were to look under a microscope, would you see subtle life forms on a microscopic level?
David: Well, if you had a subtle microscope, you might. I mean, there are beings of all sizes. I actually hesitate to use the term “size.” I would rather say they are patterned differently. And so, there are small beings and there are large beings. But sometimes the small ones are, in fact, more potent and powerful than the larger ones. So, quantitative descriptions in that sense don’t always make sense or are not that accurate when trying to describe subtle phenomena.
Rick: Okay. And, regarding the microscope example, , you’re not really perceiving the subtle realms with your physical eyes anyway, or are you?
David: I’m not.
Rick: No, or one who does. is it more like a subtle sense that’s being used and even a blind person could have that perception?
David: That’s correct.
David: Which is not to say that it would be impossible to see a subtle phenomenon with your physical eyes. I have known people who have done that, but that’s not that common.
Rick: Okay. And do you consider that the ability to have subtle perception like this is something that pretty much everyone may encounter at some point in their spiritual journey? Or do you feel like it’s just a special aptitude, such as athletic ability or perfect pitch or something like that, that doesn’t really have relevance or isn’t a necessary component of one’s spiritual unfoldment?
David: Everybody has subtle perception. They may not be aware of it or giving much attention to it, but it’s there for all of us. And the potential to use it and to develop it is there for all of us. But again, as in all these things, people will have varying degrees of that potential and of their ability to develop it. And in many cases, it’s just a matter of not doing the work or the practice necessary to develop it. But I want to make clear that for me, subtle awareness is not by itself a necessity for spiritual development. These to me are two different things. And subtle awareness helps one realize the ubiquity of life in the world around one. And I think it expands your ability to engage with the world, particularly in positive ways and helpful ways. But one’s spiritual development, that’s another kettle of fish, and one can progress and deepen spiritually quite well without ever having any subtle awareness.
Rick: So by that logic, then, someone could be much more advanced spiritually than someone else who has subtle perception. The subtle perception thing is just a particular aptitude that that other person happened to develop, but it’s not necessarily tightly correlated with degree of spiritual evolution.
David: Yeah, that’s exactly right. And that’s a mistake that people often make, that if somebody is demonstrating subtle awareness, it must mean that they’re spiritually evolved, and those two do not necessarily go together at all.
Rick: Okay, great. Well, we’ll come back to this whole discussion about subtle perception and subtle realms and all kinds of things we can talk about there. But let’s loop back and talk about your own life, which has been a very interesting one. You started having deep, subtle perceptions and insights and experiences when you were just a child, five or seven years old or something. What’s the first significant one you’d like to tell us about?
David: Well, actually, my very first memory is of the subtle world and the subtle perception. And that happened when I was still in the crib. I was basically a baby. And I have this distinct memory of my death in a previous life, and waking up in what I thought was a prison and yelling for help. And I wasn’t yelling for help for me, I was yelling for help because I died in a situation in which many people were dying. And I was trying to get help for them and died in the process of trying to get help for them. And so I was, in a way, still in that memory. And this giant came over and picked me up, and I looked up and saw this woman’s face, and I had this very clear thought that said, “Oh my gosh, I’m a baby.” And then that was the end of that experience. And in my earliest years, four and five and six, I had experiences of the subtle energies around things, around people, around places and plants and so on. And occasionally, very occasionally, I might see a non-physical being. That was more the exception than the rule. But the most significant experience for me came when I was seven. And that was the time that when, as you said in your introduction, I woke up to the larger side of myself and realized, well actually I experienced, recapitulated the incarnational process that brought me into this life as David Spangler. So, from that point onward, I had these kind of like a dual consciousness. One as the personality of David, growing up as a kid, and the other was an awareness of this whole other level of being that was my deeper self.
Rick: Take a couple minutes, if you would, just to describe that recapitulation of the incarnational process. I thought that was very beautiful and interesting.
David: So, this experience began when I was in Morocco. My dad worked for the US government, and he was stationed in Morocco. And that’s essentially where I grew up. We lived on an airbase, a newer sewer, that was 20 minutes away by car from Casablanca. So, we were driving into Casablanca to do some shopping. Dad and Mom were in the front seat of this car and I was in the back seat. And I’m looking out the window and suddenly I have this sensation like somebody’s pumping air into me. I could feel myself swelling. And before I could say anything, I found myself floating outside the car. I was looking down at the car and I could see through the roof of the car and see me, my body, sitting in the back seat. And I could see Dad and Mom and so on. And then I started moving through what were like clouds of light. At times they would part, and I would see something, individuals or places, landscapes. And then they’d close in again. But there came a point where it was like I crossed a threshold. And memory came flooding back. And actually at the time I thought, “Wow, this must be what an amnesiac feels like when he remembers his identity.” Because I absolutely remembered at that point who I was as a soul and my decision to come into life. So the process began to reverse itself and I felt myself moving back through these clouds of light. And found myself suddenly, as if I were an astronaut looking down at the earth. I could see the earth and I had a sense of my body down there, or the potential for a body actually. And what I felt was this intense joy at the privilege and the possibility of being incarnated. And I heard my name. Someone said, “David Spangler.” And the moment I heard that, that joy intensified and then I was back in my body. And I was looking out the window of the car and I was seeing the same scene that I’d been seeing when this experience started. And the experience felt like it went on for a very long time. But in fact, judging from how far the car had moved, it was probably only two or three seconds or maybe 30 seconds at most of physical time.
Rick: Do you have any opinion on, this is a little bit of a tangential question, but do you have any opinion on whether people actually choose their own parents? I’ve heard that said in esoteric circles, that we’re born into the circumstances that are going to be most conducive to our evolution, even though it may not seem like that, because a lot of circumstances are pretty horrific, but it’s actually our choice.
David: I think like many of these esoteric statements, the answer is both a yes and no. That yes, in many cases, perhaps in most cases, the incarnating soul chooses many of the parameters of that incarnation, where the birth will take place, when it will take place, who the parents will be, who siblings might be, and that kind of thing. But there are certainly situations where that doesn’t happen. Either the soul is not skilled enough to make those kind of choices, and so it’s sort of arranged on his or her behalf, on its behalf actually, because the soul is essentially androgynous. But sometimes the soul hasn’t moved very far away from the circumstances of its previous life, and there’s a longing to be back in embodiment, and that can pull a soul into embodiment without any real choice being involved. So a person might find themselves in a situation that is essentially a throw of the dice, more or less. It’s not entirely random, but it wasn’t exactly chosen either. So yes, that can happen. I think the general rule of thumb is that most people, in fact, do choose the circumstances of their life. And if it’s a horrific one, then yes, there may well be qualities that that soul is seeking to learn out of that situation. But the fact is that this is a challenging world to be incarnated into. I think we could all understand why. And sometimes a soul will be born into this world and then think, “Wow, this was a lot more intense than what I bargained for.” Or the soul may say, well, I had a friend who went into the military and wanted to become a Navy SEAL, and went through the training but didn’t make it. He flunked out of that training and he said, “You know, it was much, much more intense than anything I had bargained for.” And I think that happens for a soul too, that it may say, “Wow, I’m going to come to earth and I’m a powerful being and I can do anything.” And then it discovers all the limitations and challenges of incarnation and realizes that maybe this wasn’t all that I bargained for.
Rick: There was an old play, maybe it was a musical, called “Stop the World, I Want to Get Off.”
David: Yeah, I remember that.
Rick:Here’s another question that’s a little bit tangential to your personal story, and I want to come right back to that. But since we’re discussing reincarnation very matter-of-factly here, as if that’s the way things work, not all people agree with that, even, again, spiritual people. I’ve interviewed people who say, “Well, ultimately there is no personal self, there is no person. It seems like there is one, but that’s just ignorance. There isn’t one. And therefore, there couldn’t be reincarnation because that would imply the existence of a person who reincarnates. So that whole thing is bunk.” So what do you say about that?
David: Well, I can understand why somebody could see it that way. I don’t agree with it, obviously. The thing is that we, from my perspective, and all of this is only from my perspective, I’m just drawing on my own experience. So you have to take that with the caveat that this is one person’s experience. But my experience of the soul is that it’s a very complex field of life. It’s not at all like a personality. We think of the soul at times as just a larger and more spiritual aspect of ourselves. And there is a part of us which traditionally has been called the high self. I think of it as the incarnate soul, the soul that’s emerging out of the incarnate experience that is like that. It carries the vision and the seed and the potential and the image of all that we could be. But the actual state of consciousness that is the soul from which the incarnation ultimately emerges is not like a person. It is, however, an individuality. It has individual characteristics, but it’s such a complex being and it’s multi-dimensional. That is, it extends in so many different directions and interconnections. And boundaries at that level are not quite the same as they are for us. So I know that I’m not Rick because my body tells me that. And my body is sitting here and your body is in Iowa and there’s this difference between us. But at the soul level, there’s much more flow between us. And there are situations in which it might be challenging to say, “Well, which one is David and which one is Rick?” And yet, from my point of view, there is an individuality there. Everything that I’ve encountered in the subtle world has individuality, but it may not have personality in the sense that we understand it. So I could see a person having an experience and saying, “Well, my personhood, my personality, it disappears. It dissolves in something. And therefore, this must be an illusion.” And there are ways in which we’re constantly creating a personality that may not last for very long. We have that as a personal experience. We know how much we change. But that doesn’t mean there’s not this core individuality that’s standing behind that whole process. So I’m up for the individuality, not necessarily for the permanence of the personality.
Rick: Yeah. I’ve also heard the notion that, and this is along the lines of your use of your word “multidimensionality,” that we actually exist on various realms simultaneously, not just in terms of gross and subtle, but also in a temporal sense. For instance, I might die, and my mother is there to greet me, and yet my mother has already been reincarnated. But in a very real sense, my mother still exists on that realm, even though in some portion of her, or in a sense, she has been reincarnated. She’s still dwelling on some subtle realm to which one goes after one dies. And by the same token, you and I, even though we’re incarnate, at the same time we exist in some other realm and perhaps have a very different perspective there and a very different life there, simultaneous to this one. Does that concur with your understanding?
David: Yes, it does. Yes.
Rick: Want to elaborate or just yes? Yes, is good enough, I guess.
David: Oh my gosh, usually I’m accused of giving long, lengthy answers.
Rick: No, you’re doing good. This is a nice balance.
David: I give a one-word answer.
Rick: Larry King said his hardest interview was…
David: Sure, I can elaborate.
Rick: Okay, you go ahead. You go ahead.
David: So like I said, the soul is a complex field of life and consciousness. And from my point of view, the soul develops, it matures. And that development is marked by its capacity, to do multiple things simultaneously. It’s able to multitask, to use a human expression. So, it’s quite possible for a soul to have part of itself in incarnation and part of itself active in the subtle worlds. In fact, that’s generally the case. In fact, from my understanding, it’s not possible for the entirety of a soul to enter incarnation. It’s just too complex and intense an energy field. So, there’s always something left behind. But how much is left behind and how active it is depends on the development of that particular soul individuality and that field. And this can get complex. It’s actually not a simple question to answer, at least it’s not a simple question for me to answer. Because there are layers and levels to the soul too. But keeping it just to that relationship between the soul and its incarnate self, yes, the soul is carrying on its life, a set of relationships and activities that are more or less independent, but still congruent with our life here. There’s a part of the soul that is absolutely focused and dedicated to its incarnate aspects. And that’s what I think most people touch into when they say, “I’m in touch with my soul.” But occasionally you realize that there’s more behind that. And then there’s more behind that too. And so, it keeps expanding out. And that’s one reason why a person could say that at some point what we understand as the individuality, it’s hard to find it, because it is operating in what for us, with our mentality and our way of viewing things, is a very diffuse sphere of activity. But it’s not diffused from the soul’s point of view. That’s the thing. So anyway, your friend’s mother could very well be an incarnation again, and yet her soul is able to resurrect that particular shape and form and persona to greet your friend when he passes over. Absolutely.
Rick: Actually, I was thinking of myself and my mother. I’d like her to be there when I go and say hi to her. By the same token, and I don’t want to spend too much time, hopefully you don’t consider this to be insignificant or too tangential, My impression from things that I’ve been told is that it’s not that common, but I’ve heard it said that given this multitasking theme, that one could actually be incarnate in several or more than one human life simultaneously. Like maybe I’m Larry Kelly up in Canada, while I’m also Rick Archer in Iowa. Does that make any sense?
David: Oh, absolutely. Yes, this can happen. Again, it’s … well, I don’t know how common it is actually. and it depends on, again, the maturity and capacity of the soul to spread its energy out in that way. But there are souls that do that and are capable of doing it, or they think they’re capable of doing it, and then they do it and discover it’s more of a stress than they might have understood. But yes, in fact, I knew a gentleman years ago who had knowledge. He knew that he as the soul was also living simultaneously in Russia as a totally different personality. And at times he was able to shift into the soul level and shift back down into the life of his Russian soul brother, so to speak.
Rick: It would be interesting for him to go find himself over there and shake hands.
David: That would have been interesting.
Rick: Incidentally, the place I’m coming from in answering these kind of questions and the way I conduct Backgap in general is that I really have a desire, and I think it’s important, to really understand how things work. And I’m open to all possibilities, which is not to say I want to sort of indulge in any one of them, but I keep an open mind. And if we really want to be knowers of reality, then it’s important, I think, not to jump to conclusions and say, “Well, it’s just this,” and be open to the possibility that it might be far more multifarious and rich and detailed and mystical and magical than it first appears.
David: I quite agree with that, Rick. I think your questions are great. I don’t think of them as being tangential. And again, I want to reiterate that I see things from a certain perspective. I’m standing at a certain lookout point, and this is what the landscape looks like to me. But somebody else standing at a different lookout point might see a different landscape or see the same landscape from a different angle. So, it’s really helpful to be able to cast a wide net, so to speak. But what isn’t so helpful is when it just leads you into confusion. And part of the challenge at this point in our cultural history, particularly here in the West, is that we’re fundamentally illiterate when it comes to the subtle realms. And so it’s hard to discern truth from fiction. And in that sense, it’s very much like dealing with all the stuff that’s there on the Internet. What’s true and what’s not, and it’s not always clear. And part of that is just that we don’t have the same kind of insight into the subtle worlds that, say, science has into the natural world. So the principles escape us. And part of that, I believe, is, from my point of view anyway, is that we have a tradition of viewing the subtle world through a religious lens and seeing it in some way as either a spiritual domain or an anti-spiritual domain. And it’s not. It is a domain of life the same as this one that’s around me. And I think if we approach it like naturalists would approach the natural world around us, we have a better chance of coming to understand the nature of what’s out there.
Rick: Yeah. This leads to a point that actually I find personally very interesting, fascinating. I think about it a lot. You trained some as a molecular biologist, and so you have a scientific background. And I regard anything that any religion has ever said, or anybody says, not as something to believe or disbelieve, but as a working hypothesis, as something that we could actually investigate, and that we could actually get peer agreement on if enough people investigated it in a systematic way and discovered it to be true experientially. So I think that that sort of thinking would have a lot of value for religion, and religion or spirituality has a lot of value for science because science doesn’t have the tools to investigate all these subtle phenomenon. And yet if science really wants to understand how the universe works, it’s going to have to investigate this, and what better tool is there than the human nervous system if properly utilized. So there can be sort of a marriage of science and spirituality, which I think maybe our culture will move into over time, and it will be really valuable for a number of reasons that we can still talk about later in the interview.
David: Yeah, I agree, Rick. I absolutely agree with that. I think if we’re investigating the subtle world from a scientific point of view, we have to have a certain degree of tolerance for ambiguity and for the subjective element. And science is so into quantitative measurement and control and things being precise, it’s actually hard for somebody trained in that methodology to shift over and develop the kind of mindset that works best in exploring the subtle realms. But it’s not that it’s all idiosyncratic. For example, in science, it’s very important and useful to have a peer group, and, our scientific discoveries go into peer review. And I have my peer group. I have people who are sensitive in one way or another, whom I trust their inner perceptions, and I’ll say, “ this is what I’ve experienced, this is what I’m experiencing. Could you check on that for me? What do you think?” And if they say, “well, I think you’re off the wall, David,” as they have on occasion, then that’s important information. And I need to relook at what I’m experiencing. If they say, “oh, no, I don’t see it in quite those terms, but I’m having actually the same experience.” And I’ve had that happen way too many times to count. I’ve seen so much over the years, so much confirmation across multiple sensitives, that there’s no question at all in my mind that if we put our attention to it and our resources to it, we could come up with ways of validating subtle research that would be replicable.
Rick: That’s very interesting. Yeah, as you know, a physiologist could have somebody hooked up to the appropriate instruments, and from the next room he could tell whether that person was awake or asleep or dreaming, but he wouldn’t be able to tell what they were dreaming, or necessarily what they were experiencing if they were awake, whether they were looking at an apple or an orange, he couldn’t tell from brainwaves and such. Or with regard to dreaming, maybe it’s more appropriate to talk about that. dreams are very phantasmagorial and sort of imaginary and so on. There’s very little possibility of applying scientific rigor to understanding exactly what people dream. But it seems to me that what we’re talking about here with subtle realms and subtle worlds is not just imaginary, we’re talking about actualities, we’re talking about realities that exist, yet beneath the normal threshold of our perception. And so those things should be explorable and, confirmable by peer review, as you say.
David: Yes, I agree, Rick. It is an objective world, but it’s a world that operates with slightly different principles than this one. And so the tools that work well for us here don’t necessarily work as well when engaging with the subtle worlds. We just need to develop different sets of tools. And, I actually have a number of friends who are practicing scientists. They’re all getting up in years now, as indeed I am, and so most of them, or many of them, are retiring. But we’ve talked about this, and something that’s been very interesting to me is that there’s a willingness now in the part of science to investigate spiritual states, but still a deep unwillingness to admit to the reality of the subtle realms. And I find that fascinating, and I think it’s because the spiritual states are not threatening and can be seen as adding to a person. But if you start admitting that the subtle worlds exist, then your worldview changes, and that’s always a scary proposition for anyone.
David: And I think, to be fair, one of my scientist friends who’s a practicing quantum physicist, he said, “Well, it’s not that I’m reluctant to explore the subtle world,” especially because in his case he has his own experiences of that world. He says, “I just don’t know how to develop the experiments that would work.” And, it’s not like going into a parapsychology lab and testing for telepathy or clairvoyance. It’s different from that. And actually part of the problem is anytime you put anything into a lab, the laboratory itself acts as a filter that only allows certain information in and keeps other information out. That’s why, in biology you have people that go out in the field, because if you’re going to understand an organism, you can only understand it up to a point by bringing it into the lab and dissecting it or observing it in laboratory conditions. You actually need to go out into the ecology of which it’s a part, because every organism, including us, is defined in part by the environment in which it’s embedded.
Rick: Yeah. I’m thinking of … I’m trying to think of examples here. I mean, let’s say last year or whenever it was, they discovered the Higgs boson in a large hadron collider.
Rick: And I think probably you and I have to just take their word for it, that they discovered the Higgs boson. We could even look at the scientific papers they published about the Higgs boson and it would probably be complete gibberish to us. But we trust those guys. Enough of them concur with one another. They say they found the Higgs boson, whatever that is. Okay, it looks like that’s part of our scientific knowledge now. So, let’s say you had a whole group of people who had developed subtle perception and they were all in a situation where they agreed upon what they were perceiving. Maybe there was an angel in the room or something, to take a simple example. “Yep, we all see it.” They could agree among themselves and they could even write a paper about it, but they wouldn’t probably be able to take a photograph of it and they could tell us all about it, but we’d kind of have to take their word for it. And it wouldn’t necessarily be able to dispel skepticism. But I would say perhaps that if there are systematic ways of developing that same sort of perception, then the hardest of the hardcore skeptics could pursue those ways and practice them long enough and then he too may come into agreement with those people. It’s kind of a hypothetical situation. I don’t know if a hardcore skeptic would feel motivated to do that, but it’s interesting to play with.
David: Well, you’re absolutely right. I mean, those methodologies do exist. And anyone that wants to develop subtle perception, there are ways to go about doing that. There’s a number of different methodologies for doing that. And some will be more successful with some people than with others. Just like there are different ways of learning to play the guitar. Different teachers have different approaches to the process. But yes, part of it is the work involved and the practice involved and the willingness to accept the possibility. But part of it is just people believe what they want to believe. There are folks who still believe that no one ever landed on the moon. And there are people who believe that much of what passes for scientific knowledge is a grand hoax. Donald Trump says climate change is a Chinese hoax. And a lot of people agree with him. Maybe not about the China part, but as a worldwide conspiracy of scientists who are perpetrating this hoax. Why? To destroy American business or to pursue it because they’re all Democrats. All these scientists are presumably Democrats who are pursuing political agenda.
Rick: To get funding for their studies.
David: That’s right. It gets pretty crazy. But the point is that people will believe what they want to believe because it becomes integrated into their sense of their identity. And to change their core beliefs, they have to change how they think about themselves. And that’s always a scary proposition.
Rick: Yeah. Simon and Garfunkel sang, “A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.”
Rick: But, you know, have you ever read Thomas Kuhn’s “The Structure of Scientific Revolution”? d Yes.
Rick: So he had this whole notion of paradigms and how a paradigm is kind of a worldview that’s commonly shared among scientists. And they tend to be rather resistant to change. But anomalies come along that challenge the paradigm. And when the anomalies become plentiful and compelling enough, a paradigm shift is almost forced upon the scientific community. And some people say that science changes by a series of funerals. Basically, the old guys die off rather than change their minds. And maybe that’s the way it works. But sometimes living people change their minds. And I think that culturally we used to have a paradigm where the earth was the center of the solar system, the center of the universe. And although there are still some people who believe that probably, or that the earth is flat. You can look up websites of people who believe that. For the most part, that paradigm has been swept to the very fringes of society. And I could envision a time when the kind of thing you talk about is the norm. People take it for granted. “Of course, subtle worlds exist. We all experience it, right? Look at those primitive people back in 2016 who didn’t believe that. How silly of them”. Maybe that’ll be a few hundred years from now. But things change. And it’s really hard for people to imagine that the world could be radically different than the way it is now. Probably back in the 1860s, if you had described what we’re going to be experiencing now with computers and jet planes and space travel and all that stuff, you would have thought of it…. Well, maybe Jules Verne could see it, but nobody else. It was science fiction. Nobody else took it seriously. But these days, it’s like we all take it for granted.
David: Yeah, I totally agree, Rick.
Rick: Well, let’s come back to your story. There’s a nice little section in your book when you were about seven and you had had that awakening, and I thought this was really sweet. You said, “I couldn’t act in a thoughtless way or with intent to hurt or destroy without feeling immediate consequences, as if I were the victim of my own actions.” And you depicted some experience where you’d been walking through a field or something, and you had a stick in your hand, and you’re whacking the ferns with the stick like a boy will do. And I guess the ferns almost spoke to you and said, “Why are you doing this to us?”
David: That’s exactly right. I suddenly felt this wave of distress and anguish, and it stopped me in my tracks. And in that moment, I felt like weeping. It was just this sadness of, “Why are we being hurt this way?” And it’s one thing if you’re a plant that grows for the purpose of giving food or, you know, wheat is there to give food, and it recognizes this. But the ferns weren’t there to…well you could pick a fern to eat it, and that might be okay. But this was just pure mindless destruction because I was…just what you said, I was walking through all these ferns and just whacking away with a stick, because it felt fun to do. And I wasn’t really thinking about it. Partly it was the mindlessness of it that was an outrage. it’s the same thing if somebody walked up to you and killed you, and you said, “Why?” And they said, “Oh, I don’t know why. There’s no reason. I just felt like it in the moment.” you could be outraged that somebody…if they’re going to shoot you, at least let it be for a purpose other than…and hopefully they won’t shoot you. But experiences like that definitely made me rethink my relationship to the world around me. Because I should say, this happened with people too. Not that I was whacking people, but I found that a careless word or something I might say without really thinking about it or hurting someone’s feelings, I felt an immediate blowback from that in my own emotional body. I could feel the impact of it energetically, and immediately I’d be filled with remorse. But I was feeling the hurt that the other person felt because of my words. So, yeah.
Rick: How about vegetarianism? Are you a vegetarian?
David: No, I’m not. And I know that sounds paradoxical. And it’s partly because…two things. One is I recognize that my body has a need for animal protein. I mainly eat fish and chicken. I eat very little beef. But I was in the hospital recently and came out of the hospital absolutely craving steaks. Because I’d had a blood transfusion, my blood count was low, and I just needed what that steak had to offer. And when I eat meat, I can feel the energy of the animal. I take it in with a sense of gratitude and gratefulness and say, “Thank you for this gift of your flesh for me.” And that works for me. I have many friends who are vegans or vegetarians, and I’m fine with that. But that hasn’t been a path for me.
Rick: Can you feel a difference if you eat free-range, grass-fed, naturally cared for beef or something versus factory-farm kind of stuff?
David: Oh, yeah. I can.
Rick: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. So, I’ll skip over that one, but it’s interesting. Okay, here’s a major thing. You met a guide, or a guide came to you whom you called John. We should talk about John a little bit. And just to introduce him, here’s a quote from something he told you when you were quite young. He said, “There is a new spirituality emerging, a spirituality of personhood and incarnation. It will represent a new way of being in the world.” And then he said, “Your work is to help this emergence.” So, what do you say?
David: So, I’m not sure that that was John. That happened when I was 17. It’s okay. I mean…
Rick: I might have gotten it mixed up. I thought it was John.
David: It’s all right. It might well have been. But the being that appeared then didn’t identify itself. And that’s neither here nor there. But yes, that was an experience that I had. I was in that interregnum between high school and college. And I was on my way, as you said earlier, to pursue a scientific career. I was really interested in biology and particularly cell biology. And I wanted to be a molecular biologist. And I was out walking. This was in Phoenix, where I lived at the time. I was out walking from where I lived, from our apartment, downtown, which was a few blocks. And passed by another apartment complex where I happened to see a friend of ours, a friend of family. And she said, “Oh, hi, David. I haven’t seen you for a while. You got a minute? Why don’t you come on in?” She knew I’d graduated from high school. She was curious about what was up for me. So I stopped and we had tea. And then she asked the question that adults always ask. “So, David, what are you going to do? What’s your plan for the future?” And I started to say, “Well, I’m going to study to be a molecular biologist.” And right at that moment, I had this vision. This being, or actually this figure appeared, which was like a mannequin from a department store. But it was glowing. It was glowing from within, as if it had this radiance. And I looked at it and I felt intuitively, “Oh, this is a representation of an incarnate person.” And there’s light coming out of their incarnate state. And that’s when I felt this being standing behind me, whom I never actually saw. It was always behind me and it was saying into my ears, just what you quoted. “There’s this new spirituality that honors the sacredness of the incarnate state that is emerging. And you’re going to be part of that. That’s your task in life, to help that to happen and to contribute to it.” And this whole thing didn’t last all that long. My friend knew what was happening. She knew that I had these sensitivities. And she said, “Oh, you just had an experience, didn’t you? And what happened?” And I told her, and she said, “Well, I guess that answers my question.”
Rick: About what you’re going to do with your life.
David: But it didn’t answer it for me, because by God, I was going to be a molecular biologist. And I thought, “Well, okay, maybe that’s what I’ll do late in life, after I’ve had this other career and I’m retired, I’ll do these spiritual things.” Oh no, there were other plans afoot.
Rick: Yeah, you mentioned in your autobiography that you kept getting this prodding to go ahead and step into your spiritual role. And you kept hanging in there as a molecular biology student. And at a certain point, it’s as if your capacity to remember was taken away. So you started flunking tests and stuff.
DAVID: It was in a 24-hour period, and it actually felt as if somebody had thrown a switch and my mind turned off. And it was so abrupt and so evident. But until then, I had a fairly good memory. I could read a textbook, and it would be there for me. I would know what was in there. But after this happened, I could read that same textbook and close it, and it was like I’d never read it at all. I might as well have been sleeping. And I could not mentally retain the information I was getting either in class or from the books. And finally, after this went on for two or three months, I just said, “Okay, I get the message. I need to make this change.”
Rick: Yeah, and so there are all sorts of sequence of events where you started getting invited to speak here and there. And one thing led to the next. And I don’t know if we need to go into all the details of that. There’s a very good interview of you by a fellow named Michael, which maybe I can find and even link to, where you flesh that out quite a bit. And then eventually you came to Findhorn, and even that had a sort of a really special way that it came about. So, you can help me in terms of deciding what order we want to take this stuff in. But incarnational spirituality, that’s something you talk about a lot. You even sometimes refer to it as IS, as an acronym. Maybe it would be useful to say a little bit more about what that is. And is there such a thing as disincarnate spirituality that you would contrast it with?
David: Incarnational spirituality is the name that I have given to the kind of teaching and principles and practices that have been evolving out of my engagement with the subtle worlds. And particular with a specific group of individualities in the subtle worlds. When John first appeared to me in the summer of ’65, he said at the time…
Rick: John was a subtle being of some sort?
David: Yes, he was a subtle being. I was having breakfast in a friend’s house where I was staying. I had just been in Los Angeles for about a week or two. And I felt something like a wave of energy that hit me. It was a bit like standing in a surf and you feel the wave come in and hit your body. And then this individual literally walked through the wall and appeared. And at the time, he looked just like a college professor. Very reassuring, very normal kind of appearance. And I know that he came that way because that’s what I was accustomed to and would be easy for me to make contact with, to connect with. And he said, “You can call me John.” He said, “That’s not my name, but it’s a name that you like.” Which it was. So, I called him John from that point onward. His actual name was the energy signature of his whole being and was not really translatable into English or any language for that matter. So, John was like a nickname. And we’d been working together for about a week. And all of this, I go into all this detail in my book, Apprentice to Spirit, if anyone is interested. I won’t go into all the details here. But we’d been working together about a week or a couple of weeks. And he said, “You know, I’m part of this school and this group.” And he referred to it as a school. And I thought he meant, oh, an educational institution in the inner worlds. But I came to realize that what he meant was something more akin to a school of fish. That is, or something like we say, the Chicago School of Economics, you know, which is not an actual place, but it’s a body of thought. And that’s what he was referring to. He was part of a field of thought. And he was a spokesman for it, or its representative in connecting with me. And so a number of the things that he taught me and trained me in, in those years, early years, before I went to Findhorn, later became foundational when I began developing incarnational spirituality. And I realized that, in fact, John had been laying the foundation, even way back then, when we’d first gotten together. But around the year 2000, more or less, John had left 10 years earlier, gone on to other things. And I realized that this being appeared very briefly and said, “you know, the challenge with humanity is not that you’re too incarnated, it’s that you’re not incarnated enough.” And that was such an interesting and provocative statement that I thought, “okay, what exactly does that mean?” And I need to look into this more. And it was that statement that got me exploring the process of incarnation itself, to see, in what way do we need to be more incarnated? And one thing led to another. And I realized that I was working with this school of individuals, this group on the inner, that John had spoken about, and that they had their own project, which was to develop and to, I don’t want to use the word teach, but deliver, I suppose, the ideas involved in incarnational spirituality out to where they could live. And people could try them out and could see if they worked in their lives. And I realized that this was, in fact, the spirituality that had been shown when I was 17 years old in that vision. So, in a way, the past 15 years has been an exploration and engagement with this field of thought and this field of energy. And I go into this field in my consciousness, or I engage in discussion with these beings, or I have experiences that happened in a number of ways. And then I bring that information out and I try to put it into words. And that becomes, the books that I’ve written and the classes that I’ve taught. And the central theme is about the sacredness of a person’s incarnation. And I’m just trying to find the right word for it, the ability to stand in a sense of sovereignty and honoring of one’s unique being. And it’s from that place that you engage with the subtle worlds, that you engage with them as a partner. In a way, what they were trying to say, have been trying to say, is imagine if you are taken out to dinner by a very wealthy friend. And you feel you don’t have any money to pay for the dinner. And the friend says, not to worry, I’ll pay for it. And you feel, that’s a wonderful thing. But at the same time, you feel beholden, and the relationship is not that of equals. But if you recognize that, “oh, I’ve got money in my wallet that I didn’t realize I had, and I can pay for the dinner too.” Then now you and your friend are on an equal status. And you could be a friend of vast wealth. He could be, Warren Buffett and have billions.
Rick: He could buy the restaurant.
David: He could buy the restaurant. In the context of that dinner, you’re both equal and you can both contribute. And so, you can stand in a place where you don’t feel beholden. And the power relationship is not tilted one way or another. It’s a relationship that you develop. And that’s what the inner worlds, the subtle worlds, my subtle colleagues were after. It’s what John and I experienced. So basically, incarnational spirituality, in part at least, is about discovering the money that you already have in your wallet. So that when you engage with the subtle worlds, you don’t feel that, “wow, they’ve got all the wisdom, all the love, all the insight, all the light, all the power. And you don’t feel that you’re a poor, benighted human being.” But you can say,” wait a minute, we’re both equally close to the sacred. We’re both sacred beings. We both have something to offer. And we can work together in a collaborative way and in a collaborative partnership.”
Rick: Great. Well, there’s several questions that that inspires in me. One is that there are beings who don’t quite dwell on this level of life that we customarily see, but who are very much concerned with the welfare of human beings, and who interact with people who are able to tune into them in order to foster the welfare of human beings, in order to facilitate it. So that’s an interesting thing we can talk about a bit more. And you’ve also just said that they shouldn’t necessarily be considered superior to us. But the question arises, are they enlightened beings who have somehow finished their human incarnation and moved to something higher? Or are they just kind of in that particular phase of functioning right now, and they may end up back here, for all we know, just like one of us? And then one final part to the question is just that it seems like we’re each occupying different sections on the spectrum of reality. And we happen to be on a section, or at least part of us is, which is, kind of gross and concrete. And we can function there, and they can’t. But they’re on another part of the spectrum where we can maybe tune into it, but that’s their natural habitat, and they can function much more readily there than we can. And some of us straddle more of the spectrum than others, but we seem to have a kind of a primary focal point or area of concern, given the nature of our particular body or incarnation at the moment. I hope that wasn’t too many questions for you. (Laughter)
David: Okay, so let me see about teasing all that out.
Rick: I can reiterate bits of it if you like.
David: Thank you, Rick.
Rick: Since you don’t have a memory anymore. Well, I’ll join you there. What were we talking about?
Rick: Who are you?
David: Hey, let’s go ride our bikes. Except that it’s raining here. Anyway, I work with a variety of different subtle beings. So, when I think about this group or this school that I work with, there are individuals in it who are quite wide different, across a wide spectrum of development. There’s not a hierarchical relationship. It’s as if you had a college graduate, and you had someone who was still in college, and you had a very bright high school student, all coming together to work on a project. And the college graduate, or the person who’s been out in the world and making his or her way, has something to add. The other two don’t. But the high school student has something to add. And let’s say that they’re going to work on a project to benefit high school students. And the high school student is the one who’s on the scene having the direct experience of what high school students are facing. The person who’s been out of high school for 20 years doesn’t have that experience, but may have other life experience now and wisdom that can definitely contribute to this project. And the person who’s still in college is close to the high school age, kind of has a grasp of what’s happening there, but he’s also close to the other, and so he has a grasp of that. So together they form a stronger group, a stronger collaborative mind for dealing with this project than any one of them could on their own. And the relationship between them is not hierarchical. It is collaborative. So there are times when everyone needs to listen to the guy who’s been out in the world for 20 years, and times when everybody needs to listen to the high school student. So that’s the kind of collaborative relationship that the inner world would like to develop. And yes, some of the beings that I work with, they will reincarnate. Some of them are fairly close to the human incarnate experience. Others are not. And from my point of view, it’s obviously easier to deal with a being who’s closer to what I’m experiencing, because we at least have some reference points in common. Some of these other beings haven’t been in incarnation for hundreds or years, or maybe have never been in incarnation. So they have deep insights, but I have to translate that. Even the language, even the mode of communication is very, very different than what I might have with this other entity. So together, they all have something to add. Individually, not as much, although any one of them could be a source of some insight. But basically, some of these, what I think of as very evolved beings, in some ways don’t have a clue what life is like for us here in the incarnate state. And they admit that. They say, “You know, this is what we see. This is what we have to offer you. And you need to put it into the context that’s relevant to you in your state of consciousness.” So I think I’ve lost some of the rest of your questions.
Rick: I think you’ve done most of it. I think we’ve pretty well covered it. I guess one question I would have from what you just said is that, perhaps it sounds like some beings are so far removed from the human condition that we’re not even on their radar. They just have another realm of concern altogether. And it’s not necessarily their job to be concerned about us or interact with us, whereas others are very much involved. It’s maybe their main job.
David: That is true. That’s true. And I have on occasion found myself in contact with one of these beings who’s way out there. And yeah, it’s interesting but not necessarily contributive to what I’m trying to do here. In some cases, because they genuinely don’t know what a human being is. “Hey, what kind of being are you?”
Rick: One of your common themes that you emphasize a lot, is sort of the non-hierarchical arrangement. Here’s a quote from you, “A spiritual teacher has a responsibility to instill an independent and loving mind in each of his students.” And here’s a bit more, you talk about horizontal versus vertical spirituality, which also kind of sounds like hierarchical versus egalitarian. And these days in contemporary spiritual circles, there is a bit of a backlash against the whole setup of spiritual teachers sitting up on a dais and everyone else looking up to them and feeling like, “Oh, I can never be like him.” And there’s an attempt among a number of spiritual teachers to sort of even things out and make it more of a, “We’re all in this together and we all have something to share and we all have something to contribute.” And this hierarchical thing has actually created trouble in many spiritual circles, where people have sort of gotten puffed up with their role or all the attention and adulation they receive has gone to their heads and so on. So, I just see it as kind of a healthy thing that you emphasize that a bit.
David: Thank you. Yes, I do emphasize that. Let me tell you a story. So, I had this friend, this was many years ago, back when I first moved from Phoenix to Los Angeles and began my career. But my friend was somebody whom I knew in Phoenix, was a friend of our family, but she actually lived in Los Angeles. So, She was, probably in her 50s and I was in my 20s. She and I had a nice relationship. You know, she was a very funny woman and we joked a lot And things flowed easily between us, when she’d come over to visit. Anyway, I went to Los Angeles and she said, “Well, I’ll organize a group for you to speak to.” And I said, “Oh, that would be great. Thank you very much.” I arrived at this group, and everybody was very solemn. And I’m a whimsical kind of guy and I like to make jokes and, you know, put people at ease and I use humor a lot. Sometimes it gets me into trouble. But I tried, kidding with her like I had done when she visited us in Phoenix. And, oh, There was a shocked expression on her face and she didn’t know how to respond and I could see that she was terribly uneasy. And finally, we had a break, and I took her into the kitchen. She went into the kitchen to get something, and I went in and I said, “Tell me, what’s the matter? I can feel this tension between us. What’s happening?” And she said, “Well, she’d been told by a psychic before I got there that I was the second coming.”
Rick: Oh, brother.
David: And she said, “I didn’t know how to behave with you.” I mean, suddenly I’d gone from being, you know, David Spangler to being Christ.
Rick: You’re lucky you didn’t pour oil on her, on your head or something.
David: Oh, my God. And, you know, I was shocked and it showed me very dramatically what happened when you get put on a pedestal. And, you know, this is something just on a personal level I have fought all my professional life because there’s always been a tendency, not so much anymore, but certainly back in the ’60s and ’70s to put someone like myself who had these inner contacts or who was a spiritual teacher on a pedestal. And I always found that it made the work much more difficult. I could not connect with people in the way I needed to if they did that. And actually this really confirmed something that John had said When, for the couple of weeks we were together, he said, “One of the things that gets in the way of this collaboration between the incarnate world and the subtle world is what he called the problem of the transpersonal.” He said, “You put us on a pedestal, and you want to worship us and that creates a barrier between us because we can’t engage with you when you’re separating us in that way.” And there’s always beings, there’s always people, both on this side of life and on that side of life that might enjoy that and will take advantage of it, but the truly higher beings, the ones that are genuinely working for the success and wholeness and blessing of humanity, man, this is a real turn-off, and it just absolutely gets in the way and creates barriers that wouldn’t need to be there.
Rick: So you just used the word “higher.” How do you reconcile the fact, I guess it’s a fact, that there are actually higher beings, and yet with what you have just been saying about how we’re all in this together. Some beings may be worthy of great respect, even reverence. They are really exalted. You wouldn’t go up to the Buddha and say, “Hey buddy, how’s it going?” You’d want to show a certain…
David: No, actually I would.
Rick: He might appreciate it.
David: But I would do it in a reverent and loving way. No, you’re absolutely right. There’s a difference between different levels of development and achievement and a hierarchy as an instrument of control or ranking where there’s a prejudicial and an evaluative component that says, “Well, higher is better, lower is not.” If I look at somebody who’s worked in learning the guitar, say, well, I’ve got a piano here in back of me, and even though I took piano lessons, I’m a real novice. I don’t play very well. My wife is the one that really can play the piano. But I look at somebody like a concert pianist, and yes, I would have great respect and reverence for what that person has achieved. And we might still be buddies in the sense of outside the piano realm we could be friends. That’s the thing. The Buddha is not closer to the sacred than I am or than you are. Jesus is not closer to God than you are or I am. The sacred is equal present in all beings from my point of view. But if we could talk about the skill of playing sacredness, the Buddha has a great deal more skill at that than I do. Jesus had more skill at that than I do, and I want to recognize that. And certainly, I can and I do reverence and honor these beings, but I don’t elevate them in a hierarchical way above me. There is this challenge of language, and it’s one that I face all the time. How do I talk about these beings in a way they are more developed than I am? But I dislike higher and lower only because it’s been used so much and so often in ranking ways that imply better and worse. And one could say, well, they’re senior or they are… I just call them my friends, they’re allies, they’re my partners. And I recognize very easily actually because of the energy that they put off the state of their development. And there are a couple of my inner colleagues who are really, truly radiant, highly developed beings, and I have deep love and reverence for them. But they’re also just friends. So, I’m not sure how to put it more…
Rick: You’re saying it.
David: Clearly than that.
Rick: It kind of reminds me of the Bhagavad Gita in a way where Lord Krishna and Arjuna had this friendship and relationship, and at one point Arjuna got a glimpse into Lord Krishna’s true nature, which he hadn’t realized because he was just interacting with him as a friend, and he was just blown away. And afterwards he was like, “Oh my God, I’m so sorry that I treated you so casually and informally and not realizing the incredible status that you actually have.” And basically, Lord Krishna sort of put him at ease, like, “You’re my friend and you’re my devotee, and the two things each have their own…”
David: That’s right.
David: That’s exactly right.
Rick: Right. Another line of questioning here. And if ever there’s anything I’m leaving out and forgetting to ask you, and you just want to say it and I’m not asking the question, you just go ahead and say stuff.
David: I will, Rick.
Rick: . Here’s a quote from your book, “It’s not uncommon for certain planetary and cosmic beings to project representations of themselves and of their energies, like cells from a larger body, in a form that is more easily engaged in by the recipient.” You said that a little while ago. But the phrase “planetary and cosmic beings,” I get the sense, and you would know better than I because you’re so vastly superior. I’m just joking around there. That each planet, galaxy, whatever, has a sort of a being that’s associated with it, even if it’s a planet on which there’s probably no biological life, such as Neptune or something like that. But each one has a soul or a spirit. And just to extend the question a little bit more, you say that many, if not most, cities and villages or such organizations as churches or schools or even businesses have over-lighting beings. They use the energy fields created by persistent and organized gatherings of human beings as an opportunity to foster spiritual development and blessing. They act as a link between that organization or place and the spiritual worlds. So there’s a couple of things here. You say that these beings are created, or maybe it’s energy fields are created, by the organized gatherings of human beings. So, if a city forms, does that give rise to a deva, so to speak, that is associated with that city? Or does a deva come and say, “Okay, here’s a city. I guess I’ll take on this one.” And same with planets and other things. I mean, planets at one point don’t exist and then they form. Is it similar to when bodies grow from an embryo into an actual living body and at some point, a soul associates it, a soul which already exists, associates itself with that body? [Laughter]
David: You did that very well, Rick.
Rick: Thanks. I’m just going by the seat of my pants here. [Laughter]
David: Well, let’s start with the towns and the cities and the organizations first. We’ll go out to the planets and galaxies. So here’s how I understand it. I mean, in a way, it’s a chicken and egg question.
David: So here you have spiritual beings who have as their function the cultivating, like gardeners, the cultivating of the development of human spiritual energy and awareness and our ability to inhabit this planet in a more connected and holistic way. So one thing I’ve discovered about the subtle worlds is that many of these beings are truly opportunist. That is, if an opportunity for engaging with human energy arises, they will try to take advantage of it if it’s possible.
Rick: Not for selfish reasons, but for evolutionary purposes.
David: That’s right. That’s exactly right. So let’s say that a group of musicians comes together and says, “Let’s do a concert for world hunger,” let’s say. And now you’ve got 10,000 screaming people in this concert venue. Yes, there will be spiritual beings, angelic or devic beings, will be attracted to this as an opportunity and will overlight that event to the extent that’s possible. And that means that here’s a crowd that’s gathered together for what, in part at least, is an altruistic purpose. They’re obviously there to hear the music and to enjoy the music, and there are individuals in the crowd that could probably care less about world hunger. They just want to rock on. But a lot of people are there because, yes, this is a concert for world hunger, and there’s a raising of an energy. But there will be spiritual beings that will take advantage of that opportunity, and maybe even, although, as I understand it, I’m sure there’s exceptions to this, they might not single out the guy who’s just there to rock on, but they will move currents of subtle energy, currents of thought and feeling, of compassion, of love, of awareness, of serving the needs of those who are hungry, through the energy field of this crowd. And that person who’s just rocking on, suddenly his energy field picks up some of this and takes it in. And so, it might just be a little bit, but with that little bit, he feels more compassion than when he entered. And for these spiritual beings, that’s a success. But with a town or a city or a corporation or a human organization that has some permanency to it, that is, it has duration, it’s not coming together for a couple of hours in a concert, a being will over-light that to say, “Here’s a group of people who are together, and together they’re creating a collective energy field. Maybe I can interact, or I will try to interact with this collective energy field to bless and stimulate the spiritual development of the people who are involved.” And how successful that is depends on the people individually, and it depends on the nature of the field. And it depends on just what’s being generated by the human individuals, but it’s called an angel. The angel is still there to take advantage of the situation if it is possible. So yes, it over-lights it, and to the degree that it can, it will try to guide the development of this organization into humane pathways. So, there’s a situation where often human beings have to set the thing into motion, and an angel will respond. There are situations where an angel might appear to a person and say, “We want you to do this work, And out of that work a collective field will develop, and I’m over-lighting this.” And in a way that’s what happened with Findhorn. That community was brought into being through spiritual guidance. And if you look at the inner life of Findhorn, the idea behind it, the energy behind it existed before the community did. So, here’s an example of an egg that came before the chicken. Now with planets, I honestly don’t know the answer to that. I don’t know if the planetary material begins to aggregate out of the solar dust, and you have a planet forming, and when life becomes a possibility, an angel comes in.
Rick: I remember you saying somewhere in your book that the residing spirit of a planet does its best to foster the development of life.
David: On some level or other, yes.
Rick: And in our case it happens to be on a physical level.
David: Yes, that’s right. I mean, my supposition, my best understanding, barring further information, is that planets are mainly brought into being by these planetary devas or planetary angels, by what I call the world soul. But there may be other forces at work there that I’m not aware of, which is probably the case. But at some point, wherever that point is, either at the beginning or a little further along, there is this planetary being that becomes the ensouling life of that world, and becomes responsible for whatever that world is destined to do. And in our case, this is a world that hosts a multiplicity of life forms and their evolution. And in a sense, it’s like our planetary deva is hosting a giant life party in which consciousness can evolve and learn and have experiences.
Rick: Sure. Now here in the ordinary world, as most people perceive it, there are good and bad, light and dark. I mean, there’s Hitler and there’s Mother Teresa, and there’s people doing wonderful things and people doing horrible things. But when you talk about businesses and corporations having a presiding deity, we have Monsanto, we have Exxon, Mobil, we have businesses which don’t seem to have the best interests of the planet in mind. And traditionally in the ancient cultures, especially India, but probably other ones, there are all kinds of stories about subtle beings duking it out. You have the gods and the demons that are always sort of tussling with one another. And so, it would almost seem, correct me if I’m wrong, but it would almost seem that certain entities on the certain corporations and other such entities in our society don’t have angels looking over them. They have quite the opposite guiding them.
David: So, this is a complex question. Let me use the Ku Klux Klan as an example. So, here you have an organization that is formed for nefarious purposes, basically. And yes, it does not attract an angelic over-lighting in the same way that a church would.
Rick: Right. And just to stick in the thing about rock concerts, I mean, we had Woodstock and we had Altamont, and it seemed like a very different energy was there at Altamont.
David: Yeah. Well, you have to consider in all of these cases what human beings bring to the mix. And what is created at the, let’s call it the personality level of the collective is also very important. Angels can’t necessarily prevent that from happening. They can attempt to move things in a positive direction, but human beings have an effect as well. And structures can be created, both mental structures, habit structures, and physical structures, you know, organizational structures.
Rick: Yeah, like the KKK you were starting to say.
David: Yeah, making angels work incredibly difficult in that direction because it solidifies and anchors in place malign or nefarious or negative qualities. I’ve seen this happen in organizations. But here’s the thing. Go back to the Ku Klux Klan. The Ku Klux Klan is a group, or it was a group.
Rick: Still is.
David: yeah, it still is. But, at one time it was much more powerful than it is now, has this collective energy. But it’s also made up of individuals. And yes, there are negative beings in the subtle world, and it can attract forces that feed off the negative energies, the fear, the hatred, the anger, all the rest of it. And as such, will try to promote that kind of behavior because it’s like feeding time for these entities. But that doesn’t mean that an angelic being wouldn’t be hovering nearby to try to mitigate the worst of what’s happening, or to take advantage of the possibility that an individual within the Ku Klux Klan could potentially have a change of heart. And suddenly, some inner spark gets ignited, and that person says, “Whoa, wait a minute, this isn’t really what I should be doing. And so I’m going to move away from this.” I mean, there’s always that possibility, however far-fetched it might be in the moment. So you can definitely have corporations that at the human level are doing very bad things, and they seem to be focused that way. And they could still have an angelic over-lighting, where the angel is not responsible for what the corporation is doing. That’s coming out of the human level, and it may be encouraged by whatever negative entities that human level is attracting. But here’s this massive group of people, and it’s not like everyone in that organization is evil. And so there are people in the organization that may be very responsive to the spiritual encouragement of an angelic over-lighting presence. And you could say, “Well, if they’re that responsive, why do they stay with the organization?” I may take that compassion that’s ignited in me into some other area of my life and express it, and still feel, for whatever reason, fear, or I don’t want to do my job, or various human pressures that I have to stay in this corporation. And this is where it becomes complex and you just can’t just say “wow this is totally evil, or this is totally good,” except there are those circumstances that really do crystalize evil in a particularly malignant way, as in fact happened with Hitler and around Hitler with the people connected to him.
Rick: There must have been in Auschwitz, for instance, some sort of positive beings doing their best to ameliorate the suffering.
David: Absolutely. That’s exactly right.
Rick: And there are some inspiring stories of both inmates and guards having epiphanies and spiritual transformations under those dire circumstances.
David: Well, that’s right. That’s why I say that even these evil or very…these organizations that are creating bad effects in the world, like Monsanto, they can still have an angelic over-lighting. And we say…when I say “angelic over-lighting,” I think people get the sense, “Oh, the angel’s telling the corporation what to do,” or “it’s manipulating the corporation to do certain things.” But what the angel is doing is trying to create an atmosphere in which human beings can rise to the better angels of their nature, as Lincoln said, where change is possible. And obviously, for many people, that is resisted. And they are deep into their personality needs, their fears, their greeds, whatever, and change will not come easily for them. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t people in that organization that can absorb that positivity and try to implement it as much as they can.
Rick: On this theme, I’ve often felt, when certain movies have come out by people like Spielberg or Lucas or Ron Howard and others, that there’s more than just the intelligence and creativity of the human beings involved in that project that is being conveyed to the mass consciousness. That there’s some sort of divine inspiration that is using that instrument to infuse new ideas or higher consciousness or something into our collective.
David: Oh, I think so. Yes. And there are those projects that inspire greater negativity.
Rick: Yeah, it was said that on the set of The Exorcist, there were all sorts of strange things that happened, people dying and all kinds of weird stuff. Here’s an interesting little theme we can talk about for a minute.
David: Can I come back to that for a minute, Rick?
David: Because I want to say, we have this image of, you know, talking about The Exorcist made me think of this, here’s this battle of good versus evil, angels versus demons, God versus Satan. To me, that’s not really what’s happening. I mean, again, I’m looking at the subtle world as an ecology. So, this summer, some sewage got into the lake, there’s a lake about five minute walk from where I live. And they had to put signs up saying, “No swimming allowed,” because the water turned toxic with the sewage. So, there were pathogens, bacteria that you didn’t want to bring into your body, that were now in the lake. And they had to do things to clean that up. Now, the pathogens, you know, they’re just looking for an environment in which they can survive and be fed. And in a way, when we talk about negative beings, that’s what many of these beings are. They are pathogenic entities that basically are just looking for food and will try to create an environment in which that food is available. And it’s not like they’re terribly clever. It’s not like they’re this demonic intelligence that says, “I’m going to corrupt humanity.” It’s more like a pressure of hunger that says, “Create this environment for me, and then I can live in it.” And it’s the kind of environment that a healthy person wouldn’t want to go swimming in, because it’s very toxic. So, then what you want to do, what they did in our lake, is you change the environment. You change the surroundings, and the bacteria can’t live there anymore. And in a way, that’s how I approach this whole thing of evil. That, yes, there are occasions when you have to confront an entity directly, because it’s just putting out that pathogenic energy, and you need an antibiotic. But in most cases, if you do that, there’s a possibility of creating a blowback. The being becomes immune to what you’re trying to do to it. I mean, we see that with antibiotics, what’s happening with antibiotics. But if you can alter the environment, I mean, this is basically what natural pathic medicine tries to do. It tries to alter their body’s chemistry and its environment, so that a particular bacteria or virus doesn’t want to be there, can’t survive there. And that’s another approach to dealing with this negativity. And it’s not a battle image, as much as it is, “What do I have to do to cleanse this environment?” It’s a hygienic process, as much as it is a warrior process. And I feel that’s an important distinction to make.
Rick: Also, destructive things have their role in the universe. If it were all just creation, it would be imbalanced. I mean, I wouldn’t want to be a dung beetle, but they have a role to play. Or, all the bacteria that break down a corpse and return it to its fundamental elements have a role to play, and so on. Well, that’s exactly right. Well, that’s something else again. So, there’s two different things happening here. There are beings that, if we just look at them from a normal perspective, we say, “Wow, that’s a dark being. I mean, I wouldn’t want to associate with that.” But it’s not a dark being. It’s a being, I mean, it’s not an evil being. It’s a being whose function is to break things down. It’s a decay eater. You know, it’s exactly what you described. There are forces in the…
Rick: Yeah, vultures like to eat carrion, you know.
David: Exactly. There are forces in the inner world, that that is their function. And what becomes problematic is when a human being says, “Wow, I could try to harness those forces. I could invoke them and try to use them to give me power.” That’s what happens when we say, “Boy, what if I took the smallpox virus and weaponized it? What if I take anthrax and weaponize it?” We’re not saying, from a biologist’s point of view, “Yes, you can do that, but it’s criminal.” But there are individuals that tune into these otherwise perfectly okay entities in their own environment and say, “I want to bring you out of that and put you over here because I think you’ll give me power. I think you’ll do something to enhance my ‘magical’ capacities.” And when that happens, then you’ve got people dumping, metaphorically speaking, sewage into the reservoir in order to make people sick. Those beings are a little different from entities that are disconnected from anything, that have become broken and pathogenic in some way. Not always, but often because of human activity, because of our projection of negative thought and emotion. And some of these beings are, in fact, our energetic children that emerge from us in a broken state. These are not beings, or these are not forces that can break anything down. They’re not doing a service of decay. They’re just floating ions that are looking for something to attach to. And that’s the kind of negativity that one has to protect against and perform energy hygiene to clear that out and to prevent that from infecting.
Rick: Yeah, and speaking of energy hygiene, a lot of people have told me that they often feel, often when they’ve reached a certain stage of enlightenment, that they become washing machines for collective consciousness. They process a lot of stuff. I used to be in the TM movement and Maharishi was fond of setting up big groups of meditators, you know, a thousand here, eight thousand there sometimes, because he felt it would have a profoundly cleansing effect on collective consciousness for so many people to be doing such a thing together. So, I just thought I’d throw that in.
David: Yeah, no, that can happen. It’s not something that automatically happens as a person develops a consciousness, but it could be a path of service that a person enters into, absolutely.
Rick: Yeah, so there’s an interesting theme here. I want to read a few quotes from you. We can talk about this a bit. You say, “The sacred cannot be adequately described as either a single source, a oneness, nor as multiple sources interacting together. It’s something else that embraces and holds both of these manifestations. But how can something be one and many at the same time? Whatever the sacred is, it may be neither the one nor the many, neither a oneness nor a diversity, but rather the capacity to be either as needed.” And I might add, both simultaneously. “Differences generate creativity, and differences arise from boundaries and thresholds, that is, things that separate.” So, that’s a very interesting theme. Want to talk about it?
David: Sure, you bet. So, here we are having this delightful conversation, and part of what makes it possible is that you’re not David and I’m not Rick, and we have these differences, and you see things a certain way, and out of that perception come your questions, also your comments, your insights, your wisdom. I see things a certain way, and the same thing happens. And we may not agree on some things, but we may find insights arising that neither you nor I would come to just operating on our own. So, in that sense, the fact that you’re not me and I’m not you has enhanced the field of energy, has enhanced the possibilities of knowledge, has enhanced the growth of spirit around us and between us. So, you know when we talk about God, actually, when we talk about just about anything in the subtle worlds or the spiritual worlds, we run up against the fact that we have to use words, and often linguistic concepts and cognitive concepts that have evolved in a very constrained universe, a three-dimensional world with time flowing in a single direction. And it means that anything we say about the sacred is in some way going to be inaccurate, because our words aren’t big enough and flexible enough to capture that reality. Sometimes poetry and metaphor and music and dance maybe get closer to it, but not necessarily. I think we just need to recognize that there’s something there we can experience that we will never be able to entirely put into words or into a finite expression. So, in saying, well, maybe the sacred is both one and many, it’s the capacity to be one or the other, I’m trying to capture that sense of this, something that can’t be entirely defined as one or the other. And so, it leaves us to resolve that paradox, and in seeking to resolve it or in seeking to experience it, actually, we may come to a deeper insight that otherwise would escape us if we only said, God is one, or if we only said God is, there are many gods and it’s a plurality. So, going to the other part of your question, I do celebrate separation and difference, because, and I use the example in my books and classes of the paper towels. If you spill water on the table and you take an ordinary sheet of paper, like I would have coming out of my printer, and I lay that down on that water, it will absorb some of it, but it won’t absorb very much. If I take a paper towel and put a paper towel down on that water, it will absorb quite a good deal more. And the reason is that the paper towel, even though they may have the same dimension, you know, they’re each 8 by 11, the paper towel has more surface area. Why does it have more surface area? Well, it’s covered with all these little bumps, and all these little individual bumps add to the absorptive power of the paper towel. So, this is my paper towel theory of creation, that each of us is a little bump on the paper towel of creation, and each of us absorbs something out of the universe. We have a perspective that no other being has, and we can see something that no other being sees. The important thing is that we absorb together, and we’re all part of this paper towel. If I just keep my perceptions only to myself and never share them with anybody, then that’s separation gone amok. But if I say, “I’m separate so that I can absorb something that you can’t absorb,” it increases the surface area of divinity. But we need to share, we need to collaborate, then this difference serves us, the separation serves us, and it’s not an obstacle to our harmony or our wholeness. It’s an adjunct to it.
Rick: So, we’re villi in the cosmic small intestine.
David: There you go. I’m not sure I want to quite go there, but yes, you’re right.
Rick: So, Findhorn was an amazing place. It was northern Scotland, sandy soil, cold climate, and yet it was in a trailer park where one half of the trailer park was people that were working at the local air base, and the other half was the Findhorn community. And on the Findhorn side, it was like a little Garden of Eden now, all sorts of beautiful, lush foliage and plants growing. And there was even some guy that was skeptical of you and brought some rose plants that he knew couldn’t grow in that climate and came back a year later and they were thriving. So, we talked a little bit about global warming earlier. It would seem to me that everything you’re talking about here and what Findhorn represented has very important implications for ecology and for the future of our planet as a viable place to live.
David: Oh, I quite agree, Rick. The important lesson from Findhorn is a lesson of collaboration between human beings and the subtle worlds, in this case, the nature spirits and the devas. So, human beings just doing their thing and gardening could not have produced the results that Findhorn got. But the devas and the nature spirits could not have produced those results either. It was the two species working together in collaboration. To me, this is one of the key teachings, if I may put it that way, or demonstrations of the Findhorn community. And the devas always said, through Dorothy, who was their primary contact, Dorothy Maclean, “If you work with us, we can transform the pollution that you’re dealing with. We can truly turn the planet itself into a Garden of Eden.” So, yes, this is one reason why there’s this project team that I’m involved with. I know that it’s a reason why I went to Findhorn as a way of experiencing for myself the concreteness of this in action. But this project team is saying, “We want to have greater collaboration, because together we can do things in the world that will enhance its health and its wholeness. Things that you can’t do, things that we can’t do, if we’re just working on our own. In order for us to have collaboration, you need to be able to stand in a place where you honor your spiritual nature and your sacred nature, and you can meet with us as equals and not put us on pedestals, not worship us, not fear us, not consign us to your imagination, not call us fantasy. But we can work together truly in a partnership. So part of incarnational spirituality has nothing to do with the subtle worlds directly, but has to do with how do I, as a person, learn to stand in this sovereign place, in this attuned and sacred place. How do I change my image of who I am and how I function in this world? And then from that place, I can engage with partners from the subtle worlds, and together we can do things that we could not do separately. And I’ve seen this demonstrated in a number of different circumstances. So, I know that it works, and it certainly worked at Findhorn. That was really at the core of that community’s founding and its initial demonstration.
Rick: So that leads into a question which would kind of give us a good place to conclude on, that came in from Aurelian Carnoy. She didn’t mention her location. She said, “What practices are there to cultivate subtle awareness?” What can we do as individuals and as humanity at large to bring about a Findhorn-like world?
David: So excuse me for doing an infomercial, but the best way I can answer that is to say, “Check out my book called Working with Subtle Energies,” because I don’t have a simple answer for that. Or “Journey into Fire,” one of the Lorian classes, because that’s exactly what we deal with. Having said that, and I know that’s not the most satisfactory answer because it may sound self-serving. First, each individual has a unique relationship with the subtle world. And if we think of ourselves as sensory beings, we know that we experience the physical world in different ways. My wife drinks licorice tea and it’s sweet to her. I drink licorice tea and it’s bitter to me. She can never understand why I don’t like licorice tea by itself or why if I have it I put honey in it. But it’s really, for me, foul tasting. But for her it’s lovely and very sweet just by itself.
Rick: Yeah, dogs eat things that I wouldn’t find very appealing.
David: That is definitely true. But we all have these subtle distinctions in how we experience the world. And that extends into the subtle worlds too. So, part of it is that there is no single technique that will work for every person. It’s an exploration. And basically, what I try to do in my classes and books is to facilitate the exploration. And say, “Here are some principles to look at and ways to go about it.” But I don’t try to give a specific technique. Because I don’t know if what works for me will necessarily work for you. I’d like you to explore this on your own. For you to do that, you need to come to a place where you can say, “This is possible.” I’m going to take the step into saying, “I can be aware of the subtle worlds.” Because in fact, all of us are, all the time. We just don’t recognize the signs and symptoms of it. For one thing, we have privileged the mind. Coming out of the age of reason, in the Western world, we have so exalted reason and the mind and mental capacities that when we say, “How do I connect with the subtle worlds?” I have found, doing workshops on this for 50 years, that most people think of it as a mental activity. Something happens in my mind, through my imagination or through some opening in my crown chakra or something. But it’s not. The mind is involved, but it’s a whole-body process. Every part of us is involved. So many people get quite distinct and clear messages or information from the subtle worlds that comes through physical sensation. I have a close friend who does this all the time. She was at Findhorn for a number of years, always suffered from the idea that, “Gee, other people can see nature spirits or get these messages, but I can’t.” For years, she felt she was the bump on the log that could never see or hear anything.
Rick: A control group.
David: Yeah, but then she realized that in fact she was receiving quite a lot of information from the subtle worlds. It just came to her in a different way. It came to her through her body in ways that she learned how to recognize. So, the first thing I need to do is to say it’s possible, and I just start to pay attention. We then get to this place where a person says, “But is it my imagination? Can I trust this?” And the answer is yes. Some of this will always be your imagination. The imagination is an integral part of perception. It’s true on the physical level, and it’s definitely true in dealing with the subtle worlds. But it’s not all imagination, and you need to be able to go through the imaginal aspects to touch the reality that’s behind it. And for that, you have to trust yourself. You have to say, “This is a process, and I’m not going to short-circuit it by saying, ‘Oh, it’s just my imagination.’ Maybe it is.” But let me set that aside for the moment and go more deeply into the experience and see what else starts to unfold. So, there are steps that we can take, but many of them begin with this place of saying, “I’m going to accept myself and see myself as a trustworthy instrument in making this connection.”
Rick: Great. Well, I think this has been a real useful conversation for me, hopefully for the listeners. I think it’s really important for us to have as clear and detailed as possible an understanding of the territory, so to speak, both because it’s inspiring and motivating, and also because it’s helpful in navigating the territory. If you have an idea of what’s out there and you’re going along and experience something, and you hadn’t even known that such a thing exists, it could be disconcerting. Or you might have a very skewed understanding of what’s possible and mistake something that’s actually not that important for something that is and waylay yourself for a while. So, I think the better we can understand the whole spiritual realm in all of its details and nuances, the better off we’ll be. And I think you’re really contributing a lot to that, and I really appreciate it.
David: Thank you, Rick. And I totally agree with what you just said. And what’s important for people to know, I believe, is to listen to different voices, because none of us have the whole picture. I have part of that picture. And I’m always appreciative when folks listen to what I have to say, but I by no means have the whole picture. And there are many other people out there who are contributing their insights and their awarenesses. And so, you know, let a thousand roses bloom in this case. And as long as we exercise our discernment, I have a couple of principles there. One is, if a being says, “You are my children, and do what I say because I know more,” that’s a huge red flag. I’m out of that one. If a human being is put down in any way, or I find myself dealing with some kind of celestial hierarchy, I get out of that one, too. I want to understand that however it comes out, whoever comes through the push from the subtle worlds is to empower and to develop the means for collaboration, not for control, not for obedience.
Rick: That’s great. And on that note of different voices, that’s the nature of this show, every week a different voice. And there may have been a time in my development where I would have found that a little confusing, but these days I just find it enriching. And every new ingredient added to the stew seems to make it more tasty.
David: Yeah, so you can think of me as a potato.
Rick: Yeah, okay. Well, you look a little bit like a potato.
David: Yeah, I know. It’s when I take my eyes out and my ears off and my mouth off.
Rick: Don’t do that.
David: Wow, he really is Mr. Potato Head.
Rick: Thanks so much, David. I could easily go on another couple of hours with you, but out of compassion for you and the audience, we won’t do that right now, but maybe another time.
David: Okay, Rick, thank you very much. Actually, I’m starting to lose my voice.
Rick: Ah. Time for a break. So, let me just make a few general concluding remarks. For those who’ve been listening or watching, this is an ongoing series, as I said in the beginning. It exists both as a video thing on YouTube and also as an audio podcast, and there’s a link on the website where you can check out how to subscribe through various ways as an audio podcast. Donate button is there, schedule of upcoming interviews, all the arrangement of the past interviews organized in different ways. Just explore the menus and you’ll find some different things that I don’t want to just enumerate right now, but check out the site, batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, and we’ll see you soon. Thank you. Thanks, David.
David: Thank you.