Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done hundreds of them now. And if this is new to you, and you’d like to see previous ones, please go to batgap.com and check the past interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it in any amount, there are PayPal buttons on every page of the site. My guest today is Dina Mariam. And when I first started preparing for this interview a week ago, I usually like week to week, I completely focus on the person that I’m about to interview. And I don’t even think about ones in coming weeks beyond that, and so hadn’t really thought much or tuned into Deena or anything. I just sort of turned my attention to her last Saturday after finishing the previous interview. And I began poking around in her book, my journey through time. And my first impression was, oh, this will be fun. We’re going to talk about reincarnation and haven’t really talked about that topic much on BatGap. But then as I read her bio and began reading her book, I guess my first impression was wow, this is much about much more than reincarnation. I mean, she has vivid memories of a number of past lives and has kind of understood the connections between them, and how they all kind of lead into the life she has been living this time around, in which now’s Now’s my chance to read her bio here, in which she has been working in the interface field for 20 years and founded the Global Peace Peace Initiative of women GPI W in 2002. Initially, the organization was designed to provide a global platform for women, women, spiritual leaders, to organize and mediate dialogues in areas of conflict and tension. This soon expanded to include an equal number of men and women’s and men and women’s spiritual teachers, and to deal with a range of issues including climate change, ecological destruction, racial inequality, etc. The premise for the gatherings organized by GP IW is that at the heart of all these issues, is a spiritual crisis. And the way to address them is a shift in consciousness. That’s the point I’ve been bringing up in many interviews over the years, Dina has served on the boards of Harvard University Center for world religions, the International Center for Religion and diplomacy, dharma drum, mountain Buddhist Association, among others. In 2014, she was awarded the Nirvana Peace Prize over the year in Japan, over the years as memories of past births have arisen, Dina has recorded them in order to better understand the karmic patterns, she has now shared her memories in this book, my journey through time and the hope that others will gain insight in to their own lives through this sharing. And I, I must say that I have I mean, it’s a very well written book, she’s a good writer, and good speaker of addition to reading this whole book, I’ve listened to about five hours of her talks over the past week. And I really kind of felt like I learned a lot and benefited a lot from the various stories, it gave me insights into my own life and, you know, influences in it and challenges in it and stuff like that. So, yeah, it’s been a fun week preparing for this, and I really appreciate your being here. Dina,
Dena Merriam: I’m happy to be here. Yeah. Yeah. And I’m glad the book had the impact. I mean, you know, it was, I struggled a lot with whether to share this openly or not, because the very personal stories. And I My hope is that, well, there are a number of hopes one is that would help people overcome the fear of death. And to and to know that, that what they’re doing, that they’re in control of their own destiny, so to speak, that their past shape, the present, and the present shapes the future. And through the whole process, I began to more consciously think about the future. What do we want to create for ourselves? I mean, we are the shapers of our life. And that gives us a different responsibility than just you know, we reacting because most so much of our activities are reactive, you know, we’re just reacting to what comes our way which is mean, which means that we’re working through karma from past actions. But But how do we take control of the process that was really the Am I understanding? I thought,
Rick Archer: yeah. And I run into and I’ve interviewed people who don’t who are spiritual people, which is why I mean, I’ve interviewed them. But who don’t believe in reincarnation don’t think that that’s the way the universe works. Or who don’t think that the law of karma is a real thing that they think is just some Hindu philosophy or something that the universe doesn’t work that way. So you I’m sure you have to so I’m sure you don’t try to badger people into believing anything. But you know, how do you converse with people who expressed those attitudes and yet have a spiritual aspiration in life?
Dena Merriam: You know, my sense is that, you know, the law of gravity worked before people endorsed it. You know, it didn’t just start working with Newton, it was always the universe is based on law, physical law, spiritual or mental law, you know, and actions have reactions to me, it’s not much different from gravity actions have reactions and reactions, everything brings about a reaction. And what I what I understand if people don’t have memories, or if they if they don’t, I mean, I think everybody has clues inclinations. But if, if they’re not present in the conscious mind, why should you believe I think that we, our beliefs are based on our experiences. So I never tried to convince anybody I say, if you haven’t had these experiences, and you know, I can understand why you wouldn’t believe. But what I am struck by is how many more people accept this today in America, I read a Pew Forum poll that 25% of American Christians accept reincarnation, I’m sure it’s a lot more actually, these are just people who admit to that. And karma has become part of everyday parlance they talk about in the business world, people talk about karma as if it’s just a universal, a universal truth, which it is. So I think that, that, as it’s much easier to talk about the things in public, and it was interesting when I decided to go public with this book, and you know, my family, my family, doesn’t know about a lot of my work. They know that Dean is off doing these conferences, but they don’t really understand the spiritual work. And some friends of mine said, Well, don’t put your name to it, put it anonymous, and I, and I thought, you know, either I’m gonna come out with it or not. Yeah. But I think it’s things have changed 10 years ago, would have been harder to come out with a book like this, and not be looked at as being a little bit off in the field.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yesterday, we were in the grocery store, and some lady was handing out lemonade samples. So it took a couple of lemonade samples, as you say, well, it’s only two first $2 or whatever. And I said, my wife wouldn’t let me buy this, it has a lot of sugar in it. And she said, Well, you know, you only live once. And I looked at it and said, Are you sure about that?
Dena Merriam: Well, you know, I tried to reconcile, you know, because I work in the interface world, and I work with people from from the Abrahamic background as well. I, and I’ve had some conversations with them. And if you identify with your personality, if I’m totally identified with Dina Dina is only coming around this once now dinner will exist in my memory. And there are aspects of de what I try to understand this with this is what is it you take with you? And what does it do you shed? So so at the end of the day, the what are the the impacts of that I also judge spiritual experiences, by the impact it’s had on you. This to me was not a curiosity. Matter wasn’t Oh, I’m so curious. It was I it was it was trying to understand the patterns that emerge, what my calling is in this life, how I got here, and into this work, and Pat, and how karma works. And it changed my sense of identity. I mean, I identify with all that I go back to seven or eight lives, I identify with all of those personalities. And none of them. Yeah, I can’t go back and say I’m the same person that I wasn’t Africa or that I wasn’t Japan. I’m different now. Because I’ve had series of experiences. I’m not going to be the same person into the future that I am now. Because hopefully it would have grown and learn. But it’s interesting to think, what are you ticket to take with you? I mean, I sum up a life and 40 pages, the highlights, and what are those highlights? Very often it’s, it’s the spiritual encounters that you’ve had. For me, the beauty of looking back is to see the spiritual guides and teachers in every life there was somebody and to me that was enormous ly comforting to know that if that was my past, hopefully that will be my future. They’ll always be a spiritual guide to appear at a critical moment, you know, sometimes it was to save me from drowning in the Ganga at one moment or another. It was in the jungles of Africa when this shaman woman appeared. And so these are the things these are the memories that you take with you.
Rick Archer: Let’s dwell for a moment more on the sort of comparison of believing or accepting or understanding that reincarnation is the way the universe works, versus not thinking that. And, you know, if we can, I mean, you and I have both been on the spiritual path for 50 years, under teachers who taught this, and so it’s kind of ingrained in us, but many people don’t and don’t think that way. And, and it’s like, I often wonder, like, what is their perspective? Like somebody like Anthony Bourdain, for instance, who, you know, committed suicide recently, I suppose he thought that that was just going to sort of snuff out his existence lights out, you know, I’m out of here, and I will cease to exist. But obviously, if you have a red conditioning perspective, then you don’t think that and perhaps if he had had one, then it would have altered his choices, you know, he wouldn’t have made that choice, because he would have felt that well, there might be consequences, I better kind of work it out in this life. Go ahead and comment on that, before I say anything more?
Dena Merriam: Well, I think physics has shown that energy doesn’t does, it doesn’t disappear, transforms. So consciousness doesn’t snuff out, it moves into something else. So so I can’t even get into the mindset of thinking that consciousness just ends.
Rick Archer: Well, I’ve heard that journalists, though, think that consciousness is an epiphenomenon of brain functioning, and they wouldn’t think of it as some energy, which is, they would say, you know, when your body dies, that’s the end of consciousness. And whatever energy is in Herenton, your, your physical makeup, sure that’ll be transmuted into other forms as it decomposes. But as far as any kind of soul or entity or some such thing that’s going to carry forward, you’re imagining it
Dena Merriam: will contract that’s, it’s how you look at consciousness, I mean, scientists would say the mind creates consciousness where where we would say consciousness creates the mind, consciousness, the mind, I mean, what are the How can you create consciousness? You know, and what we’ve lost sight of in this rational period, is that everything is consciousness. Yeah, trees, everything is a manifestation of consciousness. There’s nothing that’s not consciousness. So, so what I send me what I say in terms of my book, if you want to take it as a good read as a novel, take it as that. But I think there’s some lessons in there, on, on, on, on on patterns, and relationships that may be useful. To me, that’s just a very that’s, that’s not the proper reading of the book, obviously, because I think that that science may be on the verge of discovering more about what this thing we call death. And one of the reasons I decided to go public with the book is that there is a new interest a new interest in looking at death with new eyes, I would say, you know, you have you have books now written about near death experiences or death experiences, that surgeon neurosurgeon, who you’ve been Alexander, who mocked it until he had an experience himself. And and of course, the question is, how can you know, an experience is true? Well, you can say that about anything can say that about a memory. I remember ever being sexually abused as a child. But how do you know it’s true? You were the only one there? Nobody saw it? Why should I believe you? Because it impacted who you were an impact site is psychologically impacted you something happened and psychologically impacted you. When I looked at these memories. And I went verified things that I had seen, I went to those places. One was in Europe, one was in Russia, and found the streets that I had seen that matched up to what, what I had remembered. But also I found things in myself, that I had pushed aside, that resonated. There were so many things in each life, there was something in myself that remained from that period. I mean, you know, starting with the previous birth, that I talked about in Russia.
Rick Archer: One thing that struck me, as I was reading your book is the great degree of detail that you you remembered, I couldn’t write that much detail about what I did yesterday, you know, and here you are writing all this stuff about lives that you’ve had hundreds of years ago, and right down to like detailed descriptions of circumstances you’re in and conversations you had and all that. And you know, I don’t mean to sound skeptical, but did you kind of take a look Well creative licensing embellish this just for the sake of Italian an interesting story, or did you actually remember it in that much detail?
Dena Merriam: I can’t, I can’t say how these memories came to me, you know, there is there, there is the idea. I don’t know, you must have heard about the Akashic records, right, where every action every thought is recorded, one might say, in one subconscious, all the past is recorded there is there is a database of all that happens. And for some reason, I was able to access that I would be meditating, and go into this deeply interior state, where, you know, if people had spoken to me, I wouldn’t have been able to rouse myself. I was in another dimension, almost that was in another time period, where I was actually watching a scene like watching the movie, hearing conversations, knowing that I was the which actor I was. And, and I just had to, I just had to listen. And then, you know, I keep a pad and a paper by my meditation, especially when I’m having a lot of these I mean, it’s an ongoing process. The book is not the end. I mean, it just continues to happen. And I almost finished a second book now, which goes back to an earlier time. But I would come out of it, and then just write down what I had seen and heard. And then of course, as I was doing the editing, I would say, No, that’s not quite the way so yeah, I mean, I was my mind was imposed upon this Congress, you know, I was putting my, my writing ability to try to make it all into into to make sense, but but I have to say that I stuck as as closely as I could, to the content that I was that I was absorbing.
Rick Archer: Nice. So why do you? I mean, as we know, most people don’t remember their past lives. There are some fairly common stories of little children remembering things like, saw some kid recently on TV that had detailed memories of his life as a world war two fighter pilot, and he knew the name of the plane, and he knew the names of his friends back then, and all that stuff. And, you know, they are able to corroborate all that, but most of us don’t remember past lives. So question number one, why do you feel that is? Why are they blocked? Why are those memories blotted out? And question number two is, how come you remembered and where the hardly anybody else does, especially later in life?
Dena Merriam: Well, I think that there’s a good reason why these memories are submerged, I think it would be very hard. And I had a very hard time, the first, my first experience with this, which was the life just previous, which those memories came back to me maybe over a period of a year, many months, I was, you know, single mom raising two teenage kids holding on to a job commuting to the city to work at a job as a writer. And I had been a long meditator since I was age of 20. And a very serious meditator, not just, you know, doing 30 minutes here, and there very, very serious meditator. And experiences happen in meditation. I mean, one does, doesn’t just sit there and, and everybody has different experiences. I know people have talked to me about seeing the third eye and going into the light, and people seeing all kinds of things and never happened to me. You know, and one of the reasons we’re not supposed to share our meditation experiences, so that people don’t get envious and say, Well, you know, why haven’t I seen that beautiful thing that you’re talking about? So this is, this is what happened to me through my meditative experiences, the doors just opened. But the first time around, it was very, very difficult, very difficult as when you read the book, you see that there were some very traumatic things that happened into that, in that life I was in Russia during the Russian Revolution, sent out on a train never saw my parents again, was stuck in Europe waiting for them in a foreign land. And then, World War Two happened, not to Germany wanting to escape, you know, get out of there so badly. And then I meet my guru, which to me was the highlight of that life. And but here I am trying to hold on a job and raise kids, and I’m finding myself trapped in Nazi Germany, living again and again, you know, being caught by the Nazis and all that. And then, of course, I died in Europe before I could get out. So I was going back. I mean, I’d be in meetings, you know, at work, and be be crying internally, over being sent out of Russia and at 14 and not seeing my mother never seen my mother again. So it awakens. It’s not just, you know, you’re deeply engaged in the emotions that are awakened. So it’s not Just observing and saying, Oh, that’s interesting. It’s like, you become that person again, I became that person again. And, and I went through all the emotional turmoil that life, you know, whatever many years I had in my life, and I think I died young, maybe 40, something was squeezed into, you know, 910 months. And I went through the upheaval. And there were times when I thought I was losing it. I said to myself, you know, could I be, you know, hallucinating. And then I would say to myself, you know, I’m very grounded, and wanting a household and working at a job, a good job. I’m serious meditator do my practices, I’m not imbalanced. And so I can see why people could get imbalanced by this experience, especially if you don’t know what you’re going to awaken. You know, I caution people, they say, Well, I want to go find out and it’s not a, it’s not a curious, I mean, I think that the reason it came to me maybe was so that I could share it, and help validate the fact that, that we are all eternal beings, that we’ve had a past, we’ve got a future. And maybe if we learn how our past affected our present, we can more consciously direct or shape our future. So that’s why I decided to share it. I said, Well, this experiences came to me, you know, not just for me to hold to myself, but maybe others were going and actually, I shared the manuscript with a colleague, writer, friend of mine at work, who was an agnostic. I trusted her judgment very, very much. And she had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And she said, I know you’re working on something, could I read it? And she was so moved by this. And it helped us so much at the end of her life, that she said to me, Dina, you’ve got to publish this, you know, that other people like me, and because she didn’t know what she was facing, you know, she was facing death, pancreatic cancers, you know, and, and she didn’t know, what would she be facing? And it just gave her a lot of comfort is, it’s not the end.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s a good point worth really touching on that, you know, if we think that death is the end, and yet it isn’t, then I think there’s some deep discordances, or something between what we think and what actually is real. And that must cause great fear, you know, because it must viscerally intuitively feel wrong, that I would come to a complete end. Because on some deep level, we know we don’t. And yet, you know, we yet here we are dying, thinking that we’re going to and the culture has told us we’re going to, so it really must kind of settling into the understanding that life is a continuum must somehow provide some deep solace or relaxation to the, to our psyche, to our soul, I should think,
Dena Merriam: but well think about this. Our country is in the grips of fear right now. Right? And that I mean, it’s, it’s the world too. I mean, many, many governments are holding people through fear, fear of the other fear, this fear of that. People have a lot of fear in their life. And the primal fear is the fear of death. You know, why are people so attached to their guns, they gotta defend themselves, so they don’t get killed, so they don’t die, you know. So instead of dealing with the more superficial fears, let’s get to the core fear, which is the fear of death, and end, and the religions have been partially responsible for creating this fear. Because it’s, it’s this concept of punishment, somebody’s watching you, and you’re going to be punished. If you don’t follow the rules. It’s not an even if you’re, if you lead a an ideal life, it’s if you don’t follow the rules, you don’t follow the rules gonna be punished, and your death is going to be, you know, bad. So so when you realize that nobody’s judging you, you’re shaping your own light future, in order to learn and awaken. It’s all about awakening. So your past shape the conditions, which gave you the opportunities that you now have, and it’s up to you, whether you’re going to use them for growth or not, and you buy what you do, or creating your future, that changes the whole equation. And, and people free themselves from a lot of these holds on them, that religions and institutions have people are controlled through fear.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I think if we look deeply into enough into probably every religion, we would find that they weren’t originally intended to produce that kind of fear or produce those kinds of misunderstandings. You know, I’ve seen Yogananda himself argues that Christianity once taught reincarnation that it was edited out at the Council of Nicaea or something. So, you know, but things get distorted over the over the long lapse of time.
Dena Merriam: Yeah, I mean in the class critics they also talk about it it, it things get distorted when power when power is accumulated by an institution, suddenly your main priority is maintaining that base, maintaining your institution, whether liberating people, you’re giving them the tools to free themselves,
Rick Archer: while organizations tend to be taken over by administrative types and administrative types tend not to be mistakes
Dena Merriam: made maintaining the status quo or growing their, their wealth and following.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So yes, you were you were speaking Yogananda, he was your guru and, and you, of course, didn’t discover him in this life until after he had passed away. But then you recount your life. The one you were just mentioning where you were in Nazi Germany, I found it interesting that he had actually stopped through Germany on his way from the US back to India in 1935, I think you said and that he had actually tried to arrange a meeting with Hitler, hopefully to change Hitler’s way of thinking. And that that didn’t happen. But I found that to be an interesting little tidbit in your book.
Dena Merriam: Yeah. You know, I had felt because of my, my, my yearning for my for Yogananda was so intense when I was 20, when I first met him, and at that time, a lot of my friends were coming back from India, and they had found a guru or they were going to India, and, you know, there were there were teachers coming here. And the civil Yogananda is not here, you know, go go to this one, go to that one. And I did try going to a few. But it didn’t help. I mean, my goal was my guru, and I loved him. And I loved him with such depth that I was in tremendous pain, that I that I couldn’t meet him in person. And that went on for years. And then when I had the memory of having met him, it was like, oh, yeah, okay, that bond that link in the body was made.
Rick Archer: I’m just reading the last chapter of your book. And I may not quite have grasped what you’re saying here. But were you saying that the SWAMI that you met in one of your Indian lives, and perhaps some guiding light that you had met in other lives was actually Yogananda in his previous lives? Or we’re not saying that?
Dena Merriam: No, I didn’t say that. And I give me there’s so many unanswered questions that I have. There were people who showed up like that Swami, who I, I thought he might have been my, my Sufi father, actually, because he had such a fatherly attitude toward me. You know, it’s like, there’s there. Each time I saw life, remember what questions came, which is why I say this is an ongoing journey. It’s, it’s, I’m trying to go back further in time. Because, you know, we’re, we’re. So I put some of the pieces together in the puzzle, but the puzzle is still, you know, only half done. Like maybe less than that, you know, we’re, we’re at a very interesting moment in time now, where, where we’re shifting from one area to another era, the most people say, into a higher error. And so what what were the challenge that we face now is, what, how did you How do you live in that higher error? What would be the What would life look like? What would our society look like? So I’m trying to go back in time, to a higher error, you know, I only go back a few 100 years, that’s not very far in time, you’d have to go back 1000s of years to get to a higher era when society was really a completely different structure in a very different way. And I think that that’s important now for us to regain the memories of what a higher what a higher civilization, what did a higher civilization look like? There was a higher civilization again, this is a challenge to the western model, which is linear, you come out of a primitive time moving to, and that’s not the way the Eastern worlds is it cyclical,
Rick Archer: right? Yeah, we have the yugas. And there were more glorious times than this and so and timespan is so long that wouldn’t necessarily be expected that archaeological evidence would would turn up of these ancient times because they’re millions of years ago. Yeah, on this note, you said in your book, declines are said to be times of ascent. That was one sentence I plucked out of it. And, you know, from my perspective, it seems that our culture, our country and our society seem to be declining. Some would argue the opposite. But if you agree, what signs of a cent Do you see amidst the decline?
Dena Merriam: Well, I wouldn’t call it a decline what I would say is that the institutions have a dark have a have a lesson lightened time are breaking down. So the economic, political, social institutions that have kept us in place, or that have governed us for the last few 100 years are not working anymore. So something else needs to emerge what I would say as the signs of have sent our is the awakening consciousness, not just more people, that fact that we can have this kind of conversation in a public way, is an indication but also the fact that there’s much more unity among a certain subset of the religious traditions. You know, when I started working in the interfaith world, 20 years ago, the key world word was tolerance. People don’t use that word anymore tolerance, you know, when they talk about unity?
Rick Archer: Tolerance sounds like okay, I’m gonna hold my nose. And yeah, I’ll get
Dena Merriam: close to you. But you know, because I have to. So, so. So So there, you know, those who have been working in this field Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, there’s a much greater appreciation of the endless judging. And that wasn’t true. 50 years ago, yeah.
Rick Archer: So 50 years ago, there was the assumption that well, my way is the only way and, you know, I’ll just sort of be chummy with this, these heathens here are these, you know, but they, they’re deluded. And I’ve got the truth, right.
Dena Merriam: And even though there are people who believe that, I believe there, it’s a it’s a receding tide.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One thing that I think about when I think about the whole interfaith thing is that, you know, what it really needs is for the representatives of the various faiths to go beyond faith to direct experience. And if you’re just stuck on the level of faith, then you’re never really going to merge at a very deep level is like people who haven’t sort of experientially the fathom the depth of their own religion arguing with similar people of other religions is like, it’s like people who haven’t eaten in a particular restaurant arguing over, you know, which one serves the best food and none of them have eaten and they’re in their favorite restaurants, but they are arguing that they’re the best even though they haven’t tasted the food.
Dena Merriam: I mean, absolutely. And I think that’s where the change is, though. Those you know, there have been many, many initiatives of, of monastics, Buddhist and Christian monastics coming together in complete sharing and unity, Hindu, monastics and Christian monastics. It’s a subset. I mean, this this is not necessarily the general population. But even among the general population, the fact that 25% of Christians, American Christians, but we’re accepted reincarnation, believe that’s the way the universe works. That’s a large number of people.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, that’s good. And doesn’t the pope these days say that, you know, you can sort of achieve salvation through other religious paths and so on.
Dena Merriam: He’s he said a lot of things that he’s had to then quote over, Keith said, there was no such place as hell. But you know,
Rick Archer: and then he had slept or something.
Dena Merriam: Where I mean, how can you keep people in fear control them by fear? There’s no place as hell, you know, Yogananda was once asked about that, and he said, Where do you think you are now?
Rick Archer: Yeah, sometimes when I think about religious fanaticism, you know, the, my way, my religion is the only good one or the only real one. And so when I, if I talked to such a person, which I rarely do I start bringing up astronomy, you know, because they’re, like 40 to 60 billion earth like planets in our galaxy and 2 trillion galaxies in the known universe and possibly unlimited universes. And yet, so it seems when you start thinking of it that way, it seems pretty absurd to think that one particular religion on one particular little teeny tiny speck of dust is the only one and God has somehow, you know, consigned all the other ones to eternal darkness or something.
Dena Merriam: I mean, when we, I mean, I think that there are scientific breakthroughs that could happen in the next 100 years, that could really have an impact on human consciousness. Like what? Like, like discovering advanced civilizations elsewhere in the galaxy? Yeah. Could happen, right?
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think somewhere in your book, you talk about, like, phase transition. I don’t know if you use that. Or maybe it wasn’t the talks I heard you give. But the fact that there could be quite a sudden shift that we don’t see coming, you know, but all sudden, it’s upon us.
Dena Merriam: Well, you know, the 100th monkey doesn’t need you don’t need all the monkeys, you just need a certain percent of monkeys and it’s not a big percent. It’s like, you know, 1% or something like that. Which is why I think that this the spiritual work, I mean, people, a lot of people I’ve talked to in the spiritual world are discouraged right now. Because it’s, you know, we seem to be where we’re taking steps backward now to take a step forward. Now a step backward. And my sense is we can’t allow that feeling to overcome us. Because more and more people are embracing this human unity and spiritual unity. And, of course, there’s going to be a reaction to that there’s going to be fear, people are fearful of losing their identities, losing what was familiar to them losing the life that they knew what what are the implications for the future. And so this fear factor is going to try to pull things backward. But you can’t you can’t slow down evolution. I mean, you can’t reverse evolution. It doesn’t work, you know, the universe doesn’t work like that. Things move forward, but they move forward at a certain pace.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I was just reading, I don’t know, if it was your book, or something else about the how patience is such a virtue. You know, it’s like, God has his own timetable. And, you know, we, we tend to be impatient. But if you if you can kind of put yourself in the mindset of the Divine and how patiently it has unfolded this 13.7 2 billion year old universe? You know, I mean, not to say that we should be complacent and let let bad situations just fester. But it does give you it cultures, more patients to sort of take the big picture, if you can?
Dena Merriam: Well, I think we have to think in longer terms. I mean, to I see two major human problems, is this short term thinking, you know, we’re conditioned to think in terms of the next election cycle, and the next quarterly report to the business world? No, the next financial, you know, whatever. And, and that’s completely distorts our understanding of things. And the other shift, I think, is for people that understand the law of cause and effect. You know, I think it’s very important for us to understand that what we do individually and as a collective. So I talk a lot in my book about how this works, operates at the individual level. But a lot of my thinking recently has been how it operates as a collective, you know, what we’re experiencing as a collective now is a result of actions that have been taken in our name as a collective.
Rick Archer: Let’s talk about that. In fact, I have one of my notes here is collective inner spiritual shifts are a prerequisite to societal change. So what is your thinking about the collective?
Dena Merriam: Well, you know, I think that, as a country, we’ve done a lot of things that have been undercover in the world. Sure. Well, for example, I took a delegation of religious leaders two years ago to Iwan for meetings, anyone. And, you know, I know that UK and US took out their democratic democratically elected government in the 50s. And put in the Shah. This was a man who was democratically elected, but he wanted to nationalize the oil fields and the US in the in the Great Britain, we’re not going to let that happen. Yeah. So is there no impact on that? I mean, do we think that we can just do that and not weep the results of that there’s not going to be any payback to there. We will look how we missed. Look how we missed in Central America, we’ve missed majorly in Central America. So now what’s happening with such a scene of violence down that that the fleeing to get into our country? Do we bear no responsibility? And in the public space, nobody’s talking about, hey, let’s look at our actions. And look what we’ve so much you reap what you sow. I mean, that’s even in the, in the Abrahamic traditions, you reap what you sow, nobody’s looking at why we’re, we’ve had no wings, we’ve had a coup, so to speak, our election has been hacked. So what we’ve done to other countries, isn’t has never been done to us. Yeah, but are we going to change our behavior? We’re gonna say, we’re not going to do that anymore. They’re already talking about regime change in Iran. Again, it’s like, if you don’t learn your lesson, once, twice, we ain’t gonna keep it. We’re experiencing it again, again, until you finally learn correct behavior.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Interesting. Good. homework assignment. For those who want to read more about the kind of things Dina was just saying is Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States. It’s quite an eye opener in terms of
Dena Merriam: stuffing that we need to know that as Americans to understand and to get out of the situation we’re in, we need to understand deeds that have been done in our name.
Rick Archer: Yeah. That’s interesting. And I suppose, you know, for us to understand that as a culture, it’s something that we need to learn individually. I know that, you know, reading your book reminds me of something that is one of my operating principles, which is this long term vision and I can’t in good conscience go for some kind of Short term gratification, which I know will have long term implications that are injurious to people, you know. But if you didn’t have that long term perspective, you might think, oh my God, I’ve only got 20 years left to live, I’ve got to make these radical changes in my life, you know, and regardless of the consequences are who it might hurt.
Dena Merriam: You know, if if, well, I mean, that’s the big shift that happens when you when you when you take when you realize that the law of cause and effect is operational, and that you have control to some degree. I mean, you have control a whole lot, you can change your past deeds, you can change, whether you learn from them or not, whether you learn from your current situation or not, and then you can help shape your future. So, you know, but but this takes deep reflection, it’s not something that comes easily or automatically. And I think I think that the reason of that, is that where we’re meant to reflect deeply on our actions in our lives, and to begin to live more consciously.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You said a few minutes ago that a lot of spiritual friends are kind of feeling discouraged. And somehow, rather, what you just said, reminded me of that, because there’s, we’re so bombarded all the time with trivial short term distractions, you know, and it’s not really conducive to deep reflection, what, what, what hits us through the TV all the time and everything. And personally, I think that, you know, it’s nice to structure one’s life around having time to meditate and reflect deeply and, you know, contemplate all these topics and points, and certainly one has the choice to do that. But, you know, a lot of people might feel they don’t have a choice, because they can, you know, they’re working two jobs, they can barely make ends meet. And, you know, they’re just overwhelmed and bombarded. So that’s a bit of a long statement. But why do you feel that your spirit a lot of your spiritual friends are being discouraged?
Dena Merriam: You know, I see two movements, I see a lot of people. It’s just too much intensity and negativity. So they just want to, they want to, they want to shut it out. So a lot of people, you know, getting off social media, not even looking at the news. And I understand doing that to a partial degree. But you can’t create a bubble around yourself. I don’t think that I think the spiritual energy is needed in the streets right now. Yeah. So I meant that figurative, not literal, but sometimes, sometimes literally. Yeah, but I’m a
Rick Archer: social activist, big marches and things like that. Those are good.
Dena Merriam: Yeah, those are good the march for your life. I mean, I think we have to show up now, I think, now is the time for those who have been doing spiritual practice for a long time. To to, to really work to mobilizing that energy, to to try to bring ethics back into the public space, a sense of a virtue, a sense of right and wrong, a sense of how to behave. I mean, we lost our society. I mean, just you just everyday you see the news? Yeah, no, I mean, you look what happened, the Congress is they’re yelling at each other, screaming at each other, they hate each other. You know, you didn’t know Trump is out there. demeaning people. You know, and so you say to yourself, Okay, if we can, the compasses going crazy. No moral compass anymore. No sense of, of right action. And so, you know, those of us who, who, who tried to base our life on Dharma and a sense of, you know, living in accordance with some universal laws. Need to need to know what’s going on. We can’t live in a bubble. Yeah, except for we tweet times this retreat time, maybe weekends, or whatever. Sure. To renew ourselves.
Rick Archer: I just want to interject that those listening to the live broadcast, feel free to send in a question if you like, or comment, or it could even be a skeptical question like Why I don’t believe in reincarnation or something, we can handle it. And to do that, you would go to the upcoming interviews page on batgap.com. And then down the bottom of it, there’s a form through which you can submit questions. Yes, you were saying that I was thinking, well, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King didn’t live in a bubble. I mean, they were spiritual divisions. But, you know, they, they carried their spirituality into the streets, so to speak, and, you know, and effected huge change in a nonviolent way. So they’re kind of inspiring examples.
Dena Merriam: So so we do a lot of work with young people and I’m always asking them, What is the future they want to they want to create what what is the vision what kind of says society but with a society look like, you know, I mean, our economic system is is not working. It’s it’s getting the extremes are getting a greater and greater the social divisions are greater than less than they are maybe they always were bad. But now just more upfront how polarized people are. So, you know, what, how do we bring it all together? How do we come up with a new framework? And transition is always difficult. There’s, there’s somebody’s using the phrase, you know, we’re between stories, the old stories is breaking down, the new story hasn’t yet risen. So this is the story between stories, you know? And so I think it is it in a way, a confusing time. But it’s not like we’re going down the rabbit hole, we’re just trying to trying to create something new. And it’s not yet clear how to do that, what that would look like.
Rick Archer: Yeah. But I guess that stands to reason, if we can step back a bit. And, you know, what you were saying half an hour ago, is that the old systems aren’t working, they’re all these institutions of government and business and things that impact people’s lives and impact the environment and so on, that, you know, couldn’t possibly exist in a more enlightened world. And that, you know, will be their own destruction, because if they continue on the way we’re going, there won’t be a world in which for them to exist. And, and so, perhaps the reason your spiritual friends get discouraged, is they look at that stuff. And it seems so entrenched and so powerful, and what can little old us do to, to change it, you know, when there’s so much money in power behind it. But you know, I’m kind of reminded of the little sprout that pushes its way up through the asphalt, you know, that has has the strength to do that. I think there’s something more powerful in the subtle, and what we’re talking about here is something very subtle, and therefore much more foundational, much more sort of causal. And that if we kind of keep sticking to that, and working with that, it’s bound to have a major impact and perhaps even eventually become the predominant paradigm.
Dena Merriam: That’s what I believe, you know, I think that things it’s hard to express but things take formation in the spiritual world before they manifest physically. That’s good. They, the the ideas come together, and it takes a while before the inner begins to manifest on the external plane. And so I think we’re at the visioning stage right now, of of what a new formation would look like, and it could take 100 years. I mean, what you said before about looking in looking at longer time periods. You know, World War Two went on for how many years? 10 years?
Rick Archer: Not even that long? Well, yeah, the Americans weren’t involved that long. But it started in Germany earlier. Yeah.
Dena Merriam: Yeah. So so that was that’s a long time to be at war, right. Yeah. And so that made of you know, living in the middle of that it could look like you know, things could have ended. And if you have, that’s where patience comes in, if you and the work that we do to build to build awareness, so much. That to me is the main work right now, is the shift in consciousness and building awareness. And I see, you know, since I’ve been doing radio shows, around the book, I see that in all parts of the country, there are spiritual communities, their dharma centers are yoga centers, their spiritual radio shows there, there a lot of work being done on the divine feminine. I mean, there are communities around the country. It’s not just, you know, in the major pockets, and around the world. And around the world, for sure.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. And compare that with like, you know, 1950s or mid 1960s, or something. When, what was there? There was there was Yogananda doing his thing, way back then. And then in late 60s, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi came, and then a few other things. But you know, compare that to today. And it’s, it’s, I mean, it was weird to talk about meditation back then. Now, it’s kind of like they’re teaching it in the boardrooms and so on.
Dena Merriam: And you know, when I became a vegetarian in 1970, or 70, and when I would go to restaurants, they’d think I had I was ill, and they would just give me some string beings and potatoes and carrots. And I mean, you look at now how, how common it is, you know?
Rick Archer: Yeah. So I think that’s a good example of what you just said, which is the subtle stuff takes a while to percolate up and become manifest. And you know, we We were both parted. And many of those listening probably were participants in the sort of four or five decades ago, when this subtle stuff was just beginning to get in live, and then a lot of it has become manifest. But there’s a lot more to go. But there’s
Dena Merriam: there is there is a difference. So because at that time, it was really bringing the spiritual ideas into the, into the, into the west into the public place where we could talk about, you know, religious unity and truth, you know, all religions being a path to truth. Now, I think there’s a greater focus on on the institutions, you know, the economic system, no, it’s not a dharmic economic system. This is not right. You know, you know, excluding people, and maybe, you know, the whole Trump phenomenon or bringing this out to the open, maybe it’s like bringing all the dirt up, the, you know, bringing the mud to the surface. All the prejudices that people have that they didn’t talk about before. I mean, that’s how I look at it, I say to myself, Where did all this stuff come from? We were not aware, as a society, that that there was this this polarization and anger and hatred, anger?
Rick Archer: Yeah, I saw a thing on the news yesterday, where some woman was setting up a picnic table at a park or something like that, and she had a Puerto Rico t shirt on, and some guy started screaming at her, you know, you shouldn’t be in the country. And, you know, you shouldn’t be wearing that T shirt, and things like that. Now, are you a citizen? You know, obviously, he didn’t even know that Puerto Rico was part of the United States.
Dena Merriam: Why? Right?
Rick Archer: I mean, we’re facing two felony charges for behaving that way. But so a lot of this kind of crap is coming to the surface and perhaps getting exposed for what it is.
Dena Merriam: You know, it’s like when you have a boil? Yeah, you know, the pus has to come out, you know? Yeah. And so maybe this is just a cleansing process. I mean, it may, it may have to get worse before it gets better. I don’t know, you know, but I think that, that those of us who have been involved in this movement for the greater human unity and to build a compassionate society, we really have to step out now and, and try to mobilize our spiritual energies.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Good. We could probably rant and rave on that point a little longer. But had a question came in from Dan in London, who asks, Are there any special meditation techniques for exploring past lives? Or does it more need to be one’s predisposition to experience this?
Dena Merriam: Well, you know, I’m often asked the question about past life regression, because that is a technique that people use. And I have mixed feelings about that. I mean, in meditation, I think, if one just introspects, you can see things especially if you look at your earlier life, see strong interests in your early life, there are clues along the way. But if if details are needed to be known, there are people who go to past life regression. And I have mixed feelings about that because you undergo hypnosis. And when you undergo hypnosis, you have to be very careful about who who sent me sizing you and you have to make sure that the person is trustworthy and credible. But I know people who have been helped by that if they’ve had, like a phobia that they couldn’t overcome, and they’ve gone to past life regression, they’ve discovered where in the past, this comes from, they’ve been able to overcome it. But I don’t recommend it just for curiosity.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, Mark, marshy, always used to say the past is a lesser developed state, and don’t worry about your past lives and all that stuff. Yeah.
Dena Merriam: I think the important thing is just to know that you’ve been around, you’ve had experiences that you’ve most likely experienced. And when I say that my experiences are everyone’s, we’ve all been rich and poor. And this, you know, born in this skin, and that skin, we’ve had a diversity of experiences. And so we’ve, we’ve been around a long time. So so we should be able to relate to that to the fact that we’ve had all these different experiences. You know, I mean, I had, I can share some of the ways. In one of my chapters, I talk about a life in Africa, where I would lived in a village and an ad to a certain moment the village was slave traders came in a way to the village I was killed. But my younger sister was kidnapped and as well as my son, and taken across on the ship, and my sister was thrown overboard. They had to get rid of some of the slaves. And so she died in the sea. It was a few 100 years ago, about two years ago, we were in Charleston, South Carolina, doing a dialogue on racial healing. And there was a young man there who was the head of the Black Lives Matter in Charleston. And he said to us, tomorrow, we’re doing a ceremony for all of those Africans who didn’t make it over who died in the journey and You are invited, we were half, half white, half black, this group this dialog. And so I said, I want to go. You know, this life I had remembered, but I wasn’t it wasn’t uppermost in my mind. But as we arrived at the seashore, and everyone was throwing flowers into the, into the water, and I started the ceremony for flowers, the image of my sister came up. And I remembered that moment. And I thought to myself, I never was able to bring closure to the fact I had died from from the spirit world, I saw that she was being thrown over. But I never was able to really bring that closure at this moment, I was able to bring that to closure. And I was able to, to do the, the ceremonies for her. And one of the white, young white men who was with us, part of our discussion getting sent out very uncomfortable. And he said, you know, that was a private thing, we should not have been there. That was not for us, we were intruding on their space. And I turned to him, of course, you know, I’m limited by what I can say, in public, but I didn’t say no, I, that was my sister who I was who died in the ocean i But I sit in it was very, very meaningful for me. And I’m glad we were invited to join in. And that was a way of us bonding with what the community was doing, was a very powerful moment for me. And it was it was, it shows how the past comes into our present, even if we’re not conscious. Now, if I had not remembered that life, I would have felt moved by the ceremony. But it wouldn’t have been suppressed. No, yeah, it just would have been a moving thing to be part of that. All of that community. And we were just a few of us from the white community, there were mostly African Americans from the Charleston area who were doing their annual ceremony playing the drums and throwing the flowers in. But the differences is that this young white man felt uncomfortable and felt that that this was an intrusion, where I haven’t remembered my past sort as in a very personal life, and I’ve had a number of things like that happen. And so So to answer the question, what can be done? I’d say if there’s something compelling that you really need to find an answer to, you can find a guide to help you through this process of, of past life regression. But it’s not necessary. Yeah.
Rick Archer: The Tangela in the Yoga Sutras, talks about remembering past lives is one of the cities and I think he prescribed some sutra or something that can help you achieve it if you really want to. But one thing I’ve noticed in talking to so many people is that a lot of people who have had profound spiritual awakenings have spontaneously remembered past lives. Not in as much detail as you have, or at least I haven’t written books about it. But you know, a lot of them had clear recollections, which have kind of come spontaneously unbidden on site. Just when something opened, you know, to a certain degree, and I imagine they processed it and thought about it and felt through it and then moved on, but it may be something that could be commonly experienced, as people reach a certain stage of their evolution,
Dena Merriam: I think it is, is not uncommon to have to have glimpses, you know, to know, say, you know, my past birth was in China, it was a monk in China. I mean, I think I know people who tell me this, you know, they may not have had the detail. But again, I say that I think it came to me for a particular sharing, and to help to help show the patterns of how a cause and effect works from one life to another. When when I when I put it all together, and I looked at at successive lives, it became such a beautiful tapestry to me. Yeah, I thought, I thought, my God, this is beautiful, the way the universe works, and you can see your suffering as pods to awaken you know, it’s just, there’s no there’s no punishment to it. It’s just, it’s just pods to help you awaken and to and to show where you’ve maybe missed the step missed the beat. And so to me, it just, the universe becomes more the more you see, the more beautiful and intricate the universe becomes.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, you really did a good job of weaving it all together and showing the threads that went through the various lives and into your current life. And so you can think of yourself as a kind of an emissary, you know, not everyone has to have these memories or write such books, but you know, you like not everybody has to be Mozart, but you know, you gave us a nice little taste there with and took the skills you have in this life to have speaking and writing and so on to do it in an effective way.
Dena Merriam: I also, as at the end of the book, Talk more about my memories of actually dying in my last my last body, and how in that in between state, which in fact feels more like home than, than this world because you go back, you go back, you know, between between mines, you you, you kind of bring closure to some of the things and you see what the aspirations that haven’t been fulfilled. So I saw my last breath and aspiration to come to America. So I could study with my guru. Well, I did get born in America and even though he was not in the body anymore, I was able to study his teachings from a very from a very early in my life, and learn meditation, which was what I so much wanted to do. So so it’s a time of, of putting to rest. Your experience of your just previous life and laying the blueprint for the future. And that’s very important, is laying the blueprint for the future. Because I think at the last part, you know, if you say, the last quarter of your life, as you get to a certain point, you’re already beginning to do that, you know, with you feel like a lot of the work, you know, you’re bringing, you’re kind of reaching, fulfilling your aspirations, things that you’ve set for yourself, and beginning to think about the next life. I know, I find myself doing that a lot.
Rick Archer: I read Michael Newton’s books, you know, life between lives. Have you read those? Well, he was a hypnotist or hypnotherapist of some kind. And he was, at some point, hypnotizing people to go into their past lives. And all of a sudden, he discovered that people were going into the life between lines, yeah, the period between incarnations. And so he ended up specializing in that and wow, hypnotizing, literally 1000s of people to go into that thing. And he, he kind of compared all of their accounts and found tremendous consistencies between their accounts, and really kind of mapped out what people apparently commonly experienced in between lives. I think you’d enjoy reading those books, and I will read them. Yeah. But um, I was going to just say, I’m just at the stage of your book there where you’re talking about between lives, and I haven’t finished it yet. It’s the very last bit. I wonder if we want to talk about that for a few minutes. I think people might find that interesting.
Dena Merriam: Well, another interesting point about that is the difference in time. So I was in this in between space, you know, it varies greatly, somebody could could be there for a very brief time or for a very long time, it all depends on the conditions that that one needs to come back into this into a body. But I was there for a short time, it was 10 years, about 10 years, and 10 years, but But you might say they say that that a year is like a day. Yeah, in that in that place. And that dimension. So it is you can see, it felt like I had just arrived. And suddenly I’m hearing my guru call me again. He He’s calling me down again. And I didn’t feel ready to take a new birth. In a way I had processed everything. But But my main goal was to follow him. So I could not wish I had to respond to that call.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I know you’re a student of the Gita. And there’s a verse in The Gita, as you know, where Arjuna asked Krishna, well, what happens if you, you know, die before you complete the journey? And basically, he says, Well, if you’re, you know, if you’re a yogi, you might end up being living in the celestial realms for a long, long time. And then if you’re and then being born in a pure and illustrious family, and if you’re lucky in a family of Yogi’s, but anyway, the indication is that in the celestial realms, where you may reside in between lives, the what you just said, where you could be there for, for an Earth years, a long time, but up there doesn’t seem very long at all, just different perspective on time.
Dena Merriam: So I mean, that’s where I think this idea of, of, of heaven, you know, I mean, I think I think some of the Abrahamic notions, you can reconcile, if you’re, if you’re a, you know, identify with your personality, and you’re in your body, then you can say, okay, that, that, that goes away. And for a period of time you’re living in maybe I haven’t well, for maybe, I mean, there’s so many, there’s so many different dimensions. And you may think that that’s it. But of course, that’s not it. You know, I mean, this there’s a lot more to go and so you, you, you continue on in the journey,
Rick Archer: sure. And the Vedic tradition talks about hell realms too, but they don’t say that any of those realms are permanent. You know, you go work off some karma and then you come back.
Dena Merriam: I mean, if you if you’re, you know, a very greedy or angry person, you’re going to be drawn into a realm where you can display those qualities where those qualities where there are others who have those qualities.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Since we’re on this topic, grab my glasses here. There’s a little section and the your book that I just read this morning I want to read and have you come into, he say, the universe is teeming with life, not only the physical worlds, but the astral ones as well. And even an even subtler causal worlds are inhabited by beings who no longer return to Earth, having freed themselves from every earthly desire and karmic tie. There are planes of great darkness and planes of great beauty and light, where beings remained absorbed in the bliss of the one all pervading consciousness sending vibrations of love throughout the manifest worlds. It is this love that sustains universes. So I’d like that passage. And in, in light of the whole conversation about reincarnation, I think it’s interesting to throw that into that the whole notion of there being various strata, subtle realms, you know, that in which beings reside, I mean, if it might sound like fanciful, new age of a booger, but if, as we said in the beginning, if, if the universe really works in a particular way, you know, it behooves us to understand it. You know, gravity was doing just fine long before Sir Isaac Newton. And if this kind of thing that I just read from your book, is actually a reality about how the universe functions. As spiritual seekers, it might be good to align with that understanding, or at least hold it as a viable hypothesis that we could contemplate and investigate.
Dena Merriam: You know, most physicists today, abide by the string theory, which, which claims that their equations only work in a multi dimensional universe, no less than nine dimensions? I’ve been following this a little bit, because I, I think that science is on the verge of some some breakthroughs, you know, because science keeps keeps discovering more and more about the universe. And I think the discovery of that they don’t know what these dimensions are, they don’t know how to access them. They don’t know anything, except they even even heard a scientists say recently that Einstein’s equations only work in a multi dimensional universe. So could they be on the verge of discovering subtler and subtler realms? You know, and we know so little about the mind. You know, I mean, this, there’s always new stuff coming out. But we’re just at the very beginning of understanding what consciousness is, I mean, not even in the, the kindergarten level of understanding in terms of scientific point of view. Now, the yogi’s and the wishes, and the great masters based based their understanding their realizations on personal experience, they had techniques, they had developed technologies, so to speak spiritual technologies that enabled them to speed up evolution. So they could, you know, go very, very far in terms of developing their mental capacity and understanding. And so they’re able to perceive things that that we can’t yet perceive. And, and I think as one, as I said earlier, meditation, you’re not just sitting in the darkness, calming yourself. My My problem with this whole meditation, the way it’s being presented in the mindfulness movement, it’s really been dumbed down to just like, it’s just about stress reduction. It’s just about relaxation. You know, that’s not what it’s about at all. You know, you can you can go for a swim, you can go for a jog and lots of things you can do, you can you can walk in a hammock, to relax, lots of things you can do to relax. Meditation is about awakening consciousness. And it’s about understanding what consciousness and what life is what this life is. I have no problem if people want to use it to relax, but understand that that’s not that’s not what happens. And and maybe I say, you know, maybe it’s a step in the door for people, they start off wanting some stress reduction. And then before they know it, you know, they’re beginning to understand things in a new light.
Rick Archer: It is it does. I mean, I talked to them for many years. And, you know, in the intro lecture, we’d talk a lot about stress reduction and better health and stuff like that. But then once they’ve been meditating for four days, we’d be talking about cosmic consciousness. And then they say, Whoa, yeah, I didn’t think about that. This that seems possible based on my experience of four days. So it does. The mundane practical stuff can be an entry point for some people.
Dena Merriam: I think it has been an end it’s an I think it’s it’s creating a wave in society that’s going to bring a lot of benefit because I think even if a certain percent of those people go in deeper is going to change their understanding of things. And that’s what we need now. I mean, we need a wave, you know, to carry us to the next to the next stage. Yeah,
Rick Archer: what you’re saying about scientists discovering subtler things. And then it was interesting. I was just listening to an interview this morning with by Krista Tippett interviewing, who does the on being program and being Yeah, interviewing a physicist who had won the Nobel Prize for something. And he was talking about how Einstein had predicted gravity waves, but thought they could never be detected because they were way, way too subtle. But with current technology, they were they were discovered a couple of years ago. And when you think about it, I mean, the kind of subtlety we’re talking about here is not just in terms of physical phenomena, such as well, gravity isn’t actually physical, but it’s not not really about the sort of material universe, it’s about, kind of as you as your little quote from the book was saying astral and causal or celestial realms, you know, stuff that scientists wouldn’t dream of being able to explore. But as you said, the yogi’s had been exploring and the mystics have been exploring for 1000s of years. So I always like to think of the human nervous system as a kind of scientific instrument, which, if properly applied, can aid science in understanding the full nature range of the universe. And, and, and by properly applied, I would, I would mean applied in a scientific systematic way, you know, just not just hanging on beliefs, but proceeding experientially step by step as when it goes deeper and deeper and refines the instrument.
Dena Merriam: You know, I think one of the, it’s very positive that the, the His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, and other Buddhists, Buddhist monks, are working with scientists understand what happens in meditation. What are the what are the changes in the brain that take place? I mean, I’ve often wondered, you know, when I’m having these memories, are there any changes going on in my brain? I’m sure there are. Yeah. So I think that that, you know, the brain is you can create new new grooves, I mean, the one of the reasons why it’s important for meditation to be regular, is that you create new grooves, new patterns in the brain. So it’s about evolution, really. I mean, I think I think we’re at an evolutionary moment now. And, you know, the more of us that the more people who can participate actively in this in speeding up this evolution, the more we’ll be able to, you know, the 100th Monkey bring the rest of humanity along.
Rick Archer: Yeah, people might enjoy the interview I did some years ago with Rick Hanson, who talks a lot about neuroplasticity, and how meditation changes the brain over time. And in terms of, we’re gonna say something, nowhere, in terms of the 100th Monkey, I’ve said this in other interviews, but there are quite a few examples in nature of how small percentages of a system can influence the whole system, like in the heart 1% of the cells or pacemaker cells, they synchronize the beating of the whole heart, or are in a laser, the square root of 1% of the photons, if they line up coherently cause the other photons to entrain with them, and then the whole thing becomes one coherent beam and you get a laser. So you know, that perhaps is applicable to human systems in which a relatively small percentage awaken to a degree of spirituality or coherence, and that kind of causes, or allows the rest of society to entrain. Or to, to fall into that higher consciousness.
Dena Merriam: Yeah, yeah. Yeah. And then I guess your challenge is to keep to keep our eye on the bigger picture and the bigger work and not get distracted by by the details, which are very distracting.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. And like you said before, don’t hide your head in the sand. I mean, there’s no harm in watching the news and being aware of current events. Don’t let it bum you out. Because there’s a brighter picture going on. That’s not quite getting reported on the evening news.
Dena Merriam: Well, that’s it, there is a brighter picture. And we have to keep reminding each other of that the fact that there are so many conversations taking place like this, you know, and I have always felt 10 years ago, we organized a gathering of spiritual teachers to look at the the changing spiritual landscape of America. And that’s when I saw the integration, you know, churches that are having Sangha meetings, Buddhist practice, after their math and after their sermons, whatever. And I thought that there was such an integration among a growing population. Now, of course, it’s not the majority, but it is a significant population now, where it wasn’t a significant population when we were starting out. And so that’s the positive story that we have, and it’s gonna go out Oh, it’s gonna go Oh, yeah, it
Rick Archer: continues to grow. I don’t see what could stop it really, it’s not like meditation is gonna be outlawed or anything. We’re not in the Dark Ages. We’re not in the Middle Ages, we’re not gonna get burned at the stake for doing this.
Dena Merriam: I mean, what’s happening is, is that meditation has moved out from its first group, you know, moved into all communities now. Yeah. No, all communities. Yeah. Which is, which is wonderful because it’s, you know, it’s not just a middle class phenomenon. Right?
Rick Archer: Yeah, this inspiring examples. For instance, I interviewed a woman a couple months ago, and and kava the Morgan who’s become a good friend, and she’s got this meditation program started in the port, Portland Public School System, which is having profound effects and, you know, and transforming the lives of a lot of kids who potentially might have been suicidal or were getting bullied or, you know, or in various cliques and gangs and whatnot, but bringing them together in harmony. It’s really inspiring. There’s a video of the whole thing on her website.
Dena Merriam: I have to have to check
Rick Archer: that out. Yeah. If you can’t really Morgan or yeah, you can find the first name Ka’bah. Really like see? See it not Cal cavalry, like calling the cavalry but ca v er L Y.
Dena Merriam: Cavalry cab Really? Really?
Rick Archer: Yeah. Anyway, a question came in from Mark Peters in Santa Clara, California. He said, Could you elaborate on your encounter with Yogananda more was the encounter in Germany in your previous incarnation? Yes. You don’t look like you would have been an adult in 1935.
Dena Merriam: Actually, I have made that mistake of saying well, you know, when 1935 When I met? Yes, I presume I as a refugee was living in in Europe, came in during the Russian Revolution was living there was actually living in Bucharest, in Romania. And my brother was living in Germany, and I was going back and forth visiting him. And I had taken an interest had come in contact with the Bhagavad Gita through a library in Germany, and was an avid reader and looking, you know, looking for information, spiritual, spiritual information, which was sparse at that time, anything I could get my hands on. And this became known about me and a friend of my brother said, there’s a yogi here, on his way back from America to to India. Would you like to go here and talk it was at a private home somewhere. And so I remembered was such interest. Yes. And I walked into the room and with just mesmerized, I had no exchange of words with him. He was speaking to a small group of people. I didn’t understand much English his English was not was broken. Not clear. So I don’t even it wasn’t even a matter
Rick Archer: of Yogananda thought he spoke good English.
Dena Merriam: He spoke good English, but if you but but toward the end of his life, even better, but he had an accent, he had an accent wrong Indian accent. Yeah. And tapes of his. They’ve had to use technology to improve the quality of the tapes, because he didn’t have an accent. I mean, he knew how to him his English, he could have conversation, but it was with an accent. Yeah. And somebody who didn’t know English very well, it would be difficult. So, but it was the vibration that affected me. And I felt that a moment happened where he glanced at me, and something happened in that glance. And so I after he finished talking, there were people around him I didn’t have a chair was very, very shy. I had no public Well, I was very private person. So I didn’t even go up and greet him. I just quietly left. But it had a great impact on me. My mother had given me before I left Russia, a locket with the Virgin Mary in it. And I took that picture out and wrote down his name and put that in the locket. And things went downhill after that. Man I was in love with Jewish professor was captured and taken by the Nazis disappeared. And the Jews were being rounded up. And I was briefly held by the Nazis and then and then let go, and just took a train and went to Vienna and there I got sick. And while I was in a fever, I had a dream where you’re gonna understand I’m coming to take you to America. Because my aspiration was I want to follow this man. I don’t understand what he’s said. But I’ve never been in the presence of someone with such powerful vibration, powerful energy. And so I had that dream. And I waited, I thought he’s coming to take me to America. And of course, he didn’t show up. And I kept thinking, well, any day now he’s gonna show up. And then I got sick and died soon after that. And on my deathbed, I saw him and he said, I’m coming to take you to I’ve come to take you to America. And I died and was reborn in America. And that was my experience. And then, you know, I found Yogananda in this life when I was 19, or 20. And somebody in car was in college, somebody handed me Autobiography of a Yogi. All I had to do was see the picture. And I knew that was my goal. And so I knew that I had met Yogananda even earlier in my history before that, this this press pass birth. And in the book, I talked about an earlier encounter with him in one of his earlier births, and I know that it’s a long a long relationship with him. But that one was that I forgot
Rick Archer: about William the Conqueror. Oh, maybe I didn’t get to that yet. Is it in the very end? It’s at the end. Okay. I’ll have to get rid that tonight. Yeah, yeah. So Yogananda was William the Conqueror.
Dena Merriam: That’s what it’s that’s what the That’s what the word is. Because, but But I talk about a different, a different, you know, he’s known in history in a certain way. And there were other aspects of him where he was spiritually imbuing the land, and putting in the energy or that enabled Great Britain to become what it became.
Rick Archer: So William, the Conqueror was a British king was he,
Dena Merriam: he was French actually. And he actually went during when there was a time when the Vikings were there are a lot of raids in the Vikings. And he, he came and conquered England, basically and brought, brought Christianity to, to England. I mean, the beautiful thing is, I remember, I remember being all different religions and different different races. And and that changes your feeling about those religions and races when you remember being them.
Rick Archer: Yeah. You don’t recount any lifetimes in which you are a man.
Dena Merriam: No, but I do have a memory of being a man, but I just don’t have a full narrative. There are a few things that I mean, there are things that I’ve left out in the book where I just have an image, and not a full narrative. And so I, I couldn’t. Yeah, there was one in particular being a Native American, but it was a very brief life. And I just had a scene that I that I remembered from it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And even now, as you go through your days, are you constantly presented with memories and like, what is popping up in your mind,
Dena Merriam: I am, especially since I’m deep in this in this. There’s this other book, which is during the time of lamb and sit down. And so I’m almost finished that but but, but even you know, I still process things that are in the book, you know, trying to those memories, you know, still emerge every now and then things that I’ve written about. And, and I can relate it to something that’s happening in my current life or people, I mean, the thing, one of the great lessons for me, I would say, I would narrow down to three, changing the relationship, I look at death, and knowing myself to have a long history in the long future and just, you know, the shaper of that changing my sense of identity, so that my attachment to this body in this personality is much weaker. And the third thing is the power of love. You know, the universe operates the for that is at the foundation is this is this love, I mean it really separate consciousness from love. I think one of the qualities of consciousness is love. And so pure, pure unadulterated consciousness is this blissful, conscious being, being this, which we are a part of, but but the beings in the past my guides and teachers, Yogananda being one of them, but my Sufi Father, that Baba I feel that I’m still connected with him, I feel their love crossing boundaries of time and geography. Another thing that time time is is a creation of the mind and so as space so while we can I can be in different time periods simultaneously. I’m off also in different spatial zones. And so I often find myself in that in between that place where I have this mess Her spirit guide there who often guides me in this life? So it’s not the way it seems we our mind packages our life into a linear time and a very limited spatial zone. And then it all seems very confined and rational. It’s not like that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah, I’ve had people tell me that, in their insight, time isn’t linear and that actually, all the past lives that we have have not been sequential, they’re simultaneous, and that we somehow serve as a filter to give a a sequential structure to the universe, but it really doesn’t work that
Dena Merriam: way. It doesn’t work that way. That’s my experience, but I don’t quite understand it. Yeah. It’s, it’s not I think, our, our minds, you know, when people argue about this word, God, I say to myself, How can human language human mind possibly grasp? What is the way it is?
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, that brings up another interesting point, which is that you talked about how complex karma is both individual and collective. And, you know, when you think about it, if every little thing that we do has, you know, repercussions and ramifications throughout the universe, and, and it all somehow gets calculated and come back comes back to us. Imagine the computing power that would be required to keep track of all that
Dena Merriam: phenomenon. I mean, it’s just beyond beyond beyond. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And, you know, some people might say, well, it couldn’t possibly be because there couldn’t be that much computing power, but think about a single cell in your finger and how complex it is, it’s just as complex as a modern city. And it also repairs and replicates itself. So if and so if that can be orchestrated, and managed by some intelligence, and we have, you know, 60 trillion of them in our bodies, then why not, you know, the whole universe being governed or or conducted through a law such as karma.
Dena Merriam: The universe is not chaotic, right? It’s based on law. And, and, you know, there are laws that keep everything, you know, laws of gravitation that keep things from crashing into each other. I mean, it works. And same thing as these spiritual laws. And the sooner we understand them, the better off we’ll be.
Rick Archer: Even chaos is governed by law. I gave a talk at the sand conference a few years ago, and I took that clip from Star Wars where Han Solo took the Millennium Falcon into the asteroid field in order to evade the the Darth Vader’s guys they were chasing as the you know, all those asteroids that seemed to be randomly shot. That’s all perfect. It abides perfectly by laws of nature, and laws of gravity in that case, and then, you know, one of the people chasing him smacked into an asteroid. And I said, All right, that little bit there was in perfect coordinates with the karma of the guy who was driving that ship. And it’s all just completely perfect, like clockwork, you know,
Dena Merriam: it’s like clockwork, it really is. It just it, you know, gives ones a sense of just off and, but but one has to, but when you tap into the love, you know, the fact that that that love is a very real part of the whole thing. And we experienced that. I mean, I think the microcosm reflects the macrocosm, and we experienced it, and, you know, we experience it, and I think that’s what the human community desperately that’s probably the greatest calling right now is to awaken more of that love. You know, because we’ve gotten away from it, you know, we’ve become, you know, of course, it’s not, you know, there’s still a lot of love in the world. But how do we bring it back into the public space?
Rick Archer: Yeah, I think it’s, you know, it’s kind of happening. We were talking earlier about, you know, things, things seemed kind of dark. But at the same time, there’s some rays of light that are shining. I mean, there’s so many things, you know, Black Lives Matter and meat to movement, and, you know, people just not tolerating blue police brutality anymore, and all kinds of things are coming to light, especially with social media and everybody carrying
Dena Merriam: Oh, that’s true. Yeah, that’s true. I mean, you look at the migrant kids and how many people have been moved by that those stories. So I mean, I mean, you look at the boys in Thailand, the whole world was watching, you know, and and so I think that, you know, we saw the positive impact of, of, of the internet and now we’re seeing the dark side of the internet. It has a dark side. And all the tech the same thing with the atom bomb. arm, I mean, there was a positive side to that too. And, and then we saw the dark side of it. So, you know, how do we, we there are so many technologies waiting in the future that will, that will, you know, benefit but not a benefit. But they may not come to us until we learn learn how to reject the dark side of these technologies or manage them better?
Rick Archer: Well, there are technologies even now, which could make a huge difference, you know, in terms of alternative energies, for instance? Exactly.
Dena Merriam: Yes, that’s the big one. Yeah. And
Rick Archer: could be applied much more quickly than they are being applied. But there’s people who, as you were saying earlier, we’re looking at the next quarter profits and trying to repress them because we regardless of what happens to the world, 50 years from now, because of the short sightedness so, just as sort of a matter of broadening perspective, I guess, and you know, seeing the big picture being moved by compassion instead of greed, things like that.
Dena Merriam: Yeah, yeah. And realizing, I mean, we would with a lot of focus on on building human unity. That’s what the interfaith movement has done. But we’ve got to grow that toward toward unity with all of life with the planet with our, you know, far as some of the rivers and just everything, the oceans, everything, seeing them as part of us, not separate from us. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Which, of course, is a very spiritual perspective. Perspective, not not an esoteric one, it’s like, if we’re really all one, then we’re one with the, the, the ocean, and why are we putting, you know, Texas sized patches of plastic into it? And you know, choking all the fish and bleaching all the coral and all that stuff. We’re doing it to ourselves?
Dena Merriam: Well, I think that’s one of the shifts in consciousness. I mean, I think that there are a few shifts in consciousness that could really help us forward and one of them is this, this understanding that that? We are the oceans,
Rick Archer: the rain forests, and then the rain forest? Everything? Yeah,
Dena Merriam: yeah, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. They’re part of our body and we were part of them and we need to treat them like part of our body.
Rick Archer: That’s not For Whom the Bell Tolls, tolls for the question came in from Bill from Cork, Ireland. All right, I always get in trouble. I bring up Trump questions, but here we go. Hi, Dina. Right now President Trump is visiting the UK, he has already secretly criticized Nazi Oh, severely criticized his hoax, Theresa May. Do you think that in reality, Trump and Brexit gross egotism is in reality, giving us all a big wake up call to the fact that our own individuality is actually equally important to the whole. In other words, it’s Deena and the whole Rick and the whole bill and a whole, my dog, Charlie, and the whole, I think we have forgotten that our own individuality is of equal importance. What do you think?
Dena Merriam: Well, I hadn’t thought of it that way. Well, I know a lot of us are reflecting deeply on what the message is, you know, what, what is the wake up call? We know it’s a wake up call. And I have thought of it as as as both karmically a return for things that we’ve done, and bringing up the darkness that people that have been, that’s been hiding out and people’s subconscious. But but could be a wake up call that we are a part of the whole? It could be
Rick Archer: Yeah. I guess the way I interpret this question is that everyone matters, you know, no matter how, apparently insignificant or small, I mean, I’ve heard people say, Well, you know, we have to sacrifice the individual for this great cause. And, you know, maybe that’s a heroic sentiment if you’re a soldier or something, but, you know, but everybody has intrinsic value. And, you know, we can’t treat people like objects are like garbage or as disposable and so on. And are, are, as you were saying earlier, our economic systems tend to do that they’re structured that way, you know, a tiny fraction of the world’s population having tremendous wealth and a huge percentage struggling. So, you know, if, if we’re all
Dena Merriam: I think everyone is equally important. And that’s one of the the imbalances in our society, as you just said, is giving importance just a handful of people. And that’s going to that’s going to reverberate, I mean, that’s going to bring a karmic return, that’s ugly. And until we get the message, that everyone is equally important, and we have to care for everybody. Then then then you can’t pit treat people like they’re, you know, call people names, as if they’re there. They’re not conscious beings. And you will do is being shoved in our face this attitude, you know that there are people who are important that everybody else is not important, it’s being shoved in our face. And, and and we have to reject it, you know, and we have to state in a positive way. So how do you turn that negative energy into a positive?
Rick Archer: Sometimes when topics like this come up in interviews, I get feedback from people saying, you know, stop talking about this political stuff, and it’s social stuff, talk stick to spirituality. This is spirituality. I mean, it is spirituality. All inclusive. It’s the whole enchilada. You know, it’s not just some pie in the sky, esoteric, you know, hide in an ashram kind of thing. Yeah, tremendous relevance to all the issues that confront us.
Dena Merriam: And things are being done in our name, things are being done in our name. And I know, I think some people will respond with anger, and some people respond with pain, my experience has been just pain, pain at the pain that’s been caused, you know, the children, the toddlers who have been separated from their parents, I mean, that’s causing pain to Americans, and a lot of us are suffering as a result of that. And that’s definitely needs to be acknowledged, you know, things that are being done under name are causing suffering to the American people. And that’s a very real thing that needs to be acknowledged. I mean, we can’t, you know, the problem with we had the experience not so long ago of World War Two, when people did not speak up, people didn’t speak up, the church didn’t speak up. And and, you know, there are people still alive who remember that period, and then people who remembered from their past birth, that’s still in our collective memory, what is the lesson we’re supposed to learn from that, that we have to speak up? And but we have to speak up not with anger. But with a sense of this is not white, this is not dharmic? I mean, you know, I, in order to create a society that’s based on on proper values, we have to bring to public mind what those values are, you know, it’s not name calling, it’s not lying. It’s not cheating. It’s not, you know, abusing public funds. You know, it’s, it’s, we have to speak up in this otherwise, we’re going to, we’re creating a silent society that’s built on false values.
Rick Archer: Yeah. A related point, and I don’t know how much attuned to this whole thing you are, is that I’ve been involved with a group of people who are attempting to sort of draft a code of ethics for spiritual teachers, because there’s a lot of weight on ethical things that have been done in the name of spirituality, you know, yeah. And I just written a whole essay about it. I’ll share it with you if you’d like. But I would like yes, yeah. But it’s one of those things that as time has come, as with the the me to movement, and so many people have been puzzled or have been kind of like, accepting severe abuse and alcoholism and sexual misconduct from spiritual teachers as something that they just can’t understand. You know, because he’s enlightened, and I’m ignorant, and he’s inscrutable. It must be a crazy wisdom teaching or some forget that the time for that kind of behavior has
Dena Merriam: over, I would say, I wouldn’t even call them spiritual teachers, I would say so called spiritual teachers. Yeah. Because you when you’re causing harm to somebody, that’s, that’s not You’re not a spiritual teacher, people who have claimed to be at a state that they’re clearly not. And students, when we have students to judge this, you know, students, you know, they may be able to have a certain spiritual attainment, but, but certainly not at the level where they were they behave in a way that brings benefit instead of causing harm to people. And, you know, to me, that’s the barometer. You know, if you’re not being truthful, if you’re not being honest, if you’re causing harm to people, then then and this is more of a well, I guess it’s always existed, but but they’ve been a it’s been a phenomenon that’s been going on for, what, 4050 years now. Yeah. And I think it’s caused a lot of the great spiritual leaders to go into retreat, you can hardly find them anymore. They’re not in the marketplace.
Rick Archer: Yeah, here’s a paragraph I just wrote this morning. Run it by said, I think that prospective students are entitled and even obligated to evaluate teachers. One question to ask is, do I want to become like this person, if he’s an alcoholic, a sexual predator, etc, are those qualities I wish to embody? One might argue that one can learn a lot from a person without mirroring his personality. That may be true of a mathematics professor, but as less so of a spiritual teacher, the spiritual aspirant enjoy trains with the personality and consciousness of a teacher. The scenes around some of these bad boy teachers drinking, in sexual promiscuity, and so on. Spirituality is all about attaining inner clarity. Our behavior reflects our inner state. What inner state does the boundary reflect? Think about it.
Dena Merriam: That’s, it’s, I’m so glad you’re doing this, because it’s it’s much, much needed. Now. It’s been needed for a long, a long time, too many, too many students have gotten hurt. And then what does it do? It casts a cloud on the whole spiritual movement. Yeah, you know, it’s been too easy now for people to write off teachers from the east, and saying, you know, they’re just like, what they do, and so not to even have a sense of responsibility for what you wrote in the tradition you’re representing. I mean, there is that responsibility there. Yeah. You know, when you put yourself out as a teacher, if you’ve got human flaws, fine, go work out your issues, but don’t represent a tradition.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And of course, some venerable traditions have fairly strict guidelines as to who is qualified to be a teacher, you know, and people like Buddha, and chakra and Ramana, and so on. They didn’t just send anybody out willy nilly to teach they, they made sure that they were really qualified.
Dena Merriam: And I’ve seen too many people, because you and I both work in this world, who want to be teachers. And as soon as the there’s the desire there to want to be a teacher, that already says something. Yeah.
Rick Archer: It should almost disqualify them. Yeah, I’m sort of joking, because some people are legitimately qualified. And that’s their, that’s their dharma. And they should do it. Yeah. But,
Dena Merriam: and they’re all levels of teachers. I mean, you know, there are people, certainly you can receive help from people are all different stages, and their spiritual path. Yeah.
Rick Archer: All right. Enough on that point. If you have time, there is one other thing that you’ve devoted a fair amount of time to. I thought it might be interesting to discuss it a little bit. You’ve convened meetings of Buddhist and Hindu monks and, and, you know, yogi’s and so on, to contrast their understandings and experience of the Self, whether there’s no self or Alter Self, or, or whatever. How did that go? And you know, what are some what are some reflections on that? That debate?
Dena Merriam: Well, it was interesting, because the yogi’s would come to the point of saying, we agree with you, there’s no difference in the Buddhist words would insist No, there is a difference.
Rick Archer: And this Buddhist a little bit more stubborn or something, or
Dena Merriam: I think so I think they want to distinguish themselves from the Hindus. But but in actuality, the place that we came to, was that it’s all a matter of language. What do you mean by self? Yeah, it’s all language. You know, I mean, you know, I see the vision, the yogic vision, is no different from the Buddhist division that I’ve heard, but it’s described in different terms, and different ways of getting there. But but but but the end result, I’ve seen a difference. And most of my Swami friends, yoga friends agree with that. But there, but it’s harder for me to get the Buddhist to see that. And I think that there’s there’s a kind of a built in attachment coming from the Buddhist time. That that, that this is a new that they’re just, you know, the Hindus don’t quite get the, the, the end then result with Zola’s there is the concept of the set. sattwic comes down to what is the self, that the self is no different from, you know, I have a very dear friend Tenzin Palmo. I don’t know if you, you know her, she’s a Buddhist nun was listed as a nun random cell. And I had this conversation with her once and she’s one of the few who said, of course, there’s no difference. She said, a primordial of course, is a prime or primordial consciousness. And so I said to myself, well, that’s the answer. You know, I don’t use the term God. But I use it. You know, I use more Vedic terms. But but it’s about this primordial consciousness. I mean, what is the self but that primordial consciousness appearing to divide itself? into into the many? Yeah, you know, that’s what it means. It’s there’s only one, but there’s the appearance of many we’re not separate from that. And the ultimate sense.
Rick Archer: Yes, is a good point. I mean, so many there have been so many fights and actual literal wars over these subtle distinctions. I mean, whether God is formless or No, I mean, you went through a couple different lifetimes where you had to experience from both both directions. Both perspectives, and both are true. Yeah, they’re both true. It’s true. Yeah. Certs is a candy mint. Certs is a breath mint. Both.
Dena Merriam: That’s right. Everyone gets to be right.
Rick Archer: Alrighty, well, you feel exciting. I mean, there’s a lot of things I could keep bringing up there all kinds of cool things in your book there, there are various, there’s certain themes that you kind of carried from one life to the next, like, like one of those races in the Olympics where they hand the baton off to the next runner, and then that person keeps running, you know, there are certain things that happened in your Russian life that then moved into your next life and so on. There’s a logical kind of sequence to it. I don’t know if you want to talk about specific examples of that. Or if you feel like wrapping it up, I’m good either way.
Dena Merriam: Well, there are two two themes. And that it was it was interesting for me to to become aware of one was the theme of, of finding my own voice as a woman, and confidence as a woman, and there and looking to find spiritual, full spiritual flowering in a woman, which I found, eventually, in Africa, and through my shaman, woman, Shaman teacher was a woman. But that was the theme. And so when I found myself, you know, I was not particularly involved in the feminist movement as a young girl. Because I was mostly on my seeking, seeking to develop my spiritual practice, I wasn’t, I was active in the civil rights movement in the anti war movement. And then, at 19, I got involved in my spiritual search, and withdrew a little bit and really spent a lot of time in studying the texts. So I didn’t, I wasn’t so active as a feminist. But then when I found myself working with women, spiritual teachers, I would often say, How did I get into this? You know, yeah, I do want to help I do want to provide a platform, but how did I get into this? And, and also, I was not interested in religion, I was interested in my own spiritual practice, to how did I get into working in the interfaith I got to work with with, with rabbis now again, you know, as I was born Jewish, turned away from that. And so I wondered about these two things, working with women, spiritual teachers, and working in interfaith. And when I look back, I saw that these two themes came up again and again. Well, I was in a situation where I had to bridge cultures. One was in India, when I was married as a Hindu to to a Muslim, King, Sheikh, and I had to be some kind of a bridge. And then again, in Japan, between warring clans, I had to be some kind of a bridge. So these themes of finding my voice as a woman and finding my spiritual potential as a woman, on the one hand, and then trying to bridge cultures and find a meeting place. On the other hand, these two themes really came to completion in this life as Deena and so maybe that work is done.
Rick Archer: Do you ever have a feeling like that there might be something in your current life, that you are nowhere near really resolving or working out? And that might be the theme of your next life?
Dena Merriam: Yes, deep meditation, I’ve had deeper meditation, I’ve always had the desire for a more reclusive life. And I’ve, I’ve been, you know, found myself or thrust into however you want to say it into a life of a lot of activity. You know, a lot of a social activist, some engaged in climate issues and environmental issues, and you mentoring young people a lot of issues. And I said to myself, you know, if only can I but no, okay, Asha, where’s my ashram? I want my ashram. And I think I’ll find my ashram. I’ll get to the ashram. And then next time, next time.
Rick Archer: Cool. Another question came in. This is from Gorjana, from Belgrade, Serbia. She asks, I presume that’s a woman’s limb, based on your meditation experience in terms of accessing past lives and finding a guru? Is there is there a validity of exact accessing past lives and a guru through a dreaming state? I guess she’s wondering, can we have these experiences in dreams?
Dena Merriam: Yes, absolutely. As a matter of fact, the way my awakening happened was through dreams I, I moved into a house when I was 30. And for the next 10 years, I began dreaming of another house. And it was always the same place. And I’d wake up with a sense of longing. I’ve been there again, and a sense of sadness. And as my memories awakened, I realized this was a house that I had lived in as a child in Russia. And and so dreams. Things come to me and dreams very often, actually. Dreams are a portal and I can’t, you know, can’t control when it’s going to happen. But you I would say, yes, you definitely can access your past and higher states and in dreams. You’re more open. You’re more open. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, just scribbled down a note here that even I’m sure you’re familiar with this notion that it said in the Very tradition that your, the last thought at the time of death determines your next life and that your last thought is determined by your deepest impression that sort of sets the agenda for the next time around.
Dena Merriam: That’s why, yeah, you did it. So it’s useful to think it’s useful to, you know, in addition to one’s meditation practices, I think, a time of reflection, of looking at what those deepest impressions and what your deepest aspirations are, is very useful, because, you know, to be conscious that we are shaping our future.
Rick Archer: And I know that in contemporary India, sometimes the thinking has been, well, you know, spirituality is for old people, you should do yours, be a student, get, you know, do your business, your marriage and your your, your business career and raise your kids. And then when you get old, you can get into that later stage, last stage of life and think about spirituality. But it’s really a lifelong undertaking, and is not only not incompatible with all these other stages of life, but is actually conducive to their success.
Dena Merriam: Well, as you said, everything that you can’t separate it, your work is your your sadhana, your work is your spiritual practice. And work should be looked upon that way as as part of your spiritual practice. And the everything we do is part of our spiritual practice. And to separate your spiritual practices, just time that I’m in the cushion. Well, that’s a very short part of the day. We don’t want to limit it to that we want everything the way we deal with our children, the way we deal with our spouse. It’s all got to be part of our spiritual awareness, our practice.
Rick Archer: I read just, oh, maybe that’s all good. Now I got to say it because I already started saying she just said, you know, based upon this thing of deepest impression in our next incarnation, she’s either going to be a dog or a TV
Dena Merriam: dog slept with a good owner. isn’t that bad?
Rick Archer: Yeah, we’ve had some ones that are very lucky. Lucky. All righty. Well, this has been really fun day and I’ve really been great.
Dena Merriam: I enjoyed it, too.
Rick Archer: Thank you so much for a very interesting week reading your book. I’ve really gotten into it.
Dena Merriam: Joining me on my journey. Yeah,
Rick Archer: I look forward to reading the next one.
Dena Merriam: Okay. Yeah. Excellent. Gonna be interesting. Yeah. All right, Jake. Well, it’s great to talk to you and I hope we connect again.
Rick Archer: Yeah, no, don’t just disconnect. I want to make a couple of concluding remarks. So I’ve been speaking with Dina Mariam. And this is part of an ongoing series of interviews. So if you’d like to be notified of future ones, please go to batgap.com. And there’s a place to sign up for the email notification. You can also subscribe on YouTube. And then I guess YouTube notifies you when there’s a new one. And if you if you go to batgap.com Explore the menus because there’s several things there you might find interesting. So thanks for listening and watching and thanks again, Dina, and we’ll see you all next week.