Gillian Ross Transcript

Gillian Ross Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done over 500 of them now, and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu, where you’ll see them all organized in various ways. This program, or this project, is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to support it, there is a PayPal button on every page of We give thanks to those who have supported it. My guest today is Gillian Ross. Gillian is down in New South Wales, Australia, which is not too far from Sydney, I guess. I just finished reading her book, “Consciousness vs. Catastrophe.” Or almost finished it, some little bits I haven’t read yet. I would say that if I had the talent and the time to write a book, I would want to write a book like this, because it’s beautifully written, and it really encapsulates everything, my whole view of the way things work. And so, I think Gillian and I are going to have an interesting conversation, because we’re really on the same page as far as the universe and spirituality and all such subjects. We could probably talk for many, many hours, but we’ll try to limit it to about two. Let’s see, one thing I just wanted to say is, this week, for those of you who are watching this, maybe years later, there’s been in the news the story of the Amazon rainforest burning at an unprecedented rate. And there’s something about that event that kind of strikes me as being similar, but in a negative way, to the Earthrise photo that William Anders took on the Apollo 8 mission to the Moon. It seems to me that it’s kind of shaking people up in a way that that Moon shot photo inspired people globally. We sort of feel that the crisis that we’re in is reaching a tipping point. And coincidentally, maybe not coincidentally, there’s all these stories in the news about how teenagers are destroying their lungs with vaping. There’s some connection there between the people destroying their lungs and the lungs of the Earth being destroyed. And this is the sort of catastrophe that Gillian alludes to in her book, and the title “Consciousness vs. Catastrophe” implies that consciousness is the antidote to catastrophe, if it could be sufficiently enlivened or awakened in people, individually and collectively. Would you say, Gillian, that that’s a good synopsis of what the book is about, in a sentence or two?

Gillian: Well, first of all, let me congratulate you on your image of the Amazon forest burning and the significance of that. I think that’s a wonderful way of looking at it. And I do hope that it is, as you say, a very dramatic, graphic image of what we’re doing to the planet. Much more dramatic, for example, than the fire in the Notre Dame Cathedral, which also caused ripple across the planet. So, yes, I resonate with what you’re saying there, totally. I see my book really as an introduction to the new story of evolutionary spirituality, which I know we’re going to be talking about. But given that you have, I think, many very erudite spiritual practitioners in your audience, I just wanted to say to begin with that I do not see myself as being a scholar of any particular spiritual tradition or lineage, nor do I have conversations with God or any higher being, which is who’s explained to me in some way what is happening on planet Earth. But what I do feel, in fact, you know, I love this expression from Andrew Harvey, to rest in the creative mystery of uncertainty. And that’s where I’m quite happy to be in terms of my spiritual matters. But I do feel very, very certain that at this time in human history, we need a new story, a new story that will help us to evolve to a more connected, compassionate level of consciousness. And I like to quote Eckhart Tolle here because he’s such a respected, you know, awakened, contemporary mystic, spiritual practitioner, when he said that at this time in our history, we have to face a stark reality that we must evolve or die. And I feel this new story that we’re going to be talking about is needed to help us to evolve to this new level of consciousness. It’s a part of what we can see as being a revolution in consciousness across the planet. And you and I talking here, your BatGap platform is a part of that consciousness revolution, which is really very exciting. And it’s been said to be more significant than the Neolithic revolution, you know, when we invented agriculture or the scientific revolution, the Copernican revolution, or even the scientific revolution, because our survival depends on it. So really, really privileged and honored to be here with you, Rick, to be talking about our consciousness revolution and our new story of evolutionary spirituality. And I feel qualified to do that because it’s been inspiring for me for over two decades now. I came across the evolutionary spirituality when it was beginning to come up in the mid-90s with people we will be talking about, Brian Swimme, Jean Houston, Joseph Campbell, Andrew Cohen, etc., and then the SHIFT network. And also, it resonates with my own mystical experience and my scientific knowledge.

Rick: And what you just said about, I’m sorry, go ahead.

Gillian: I was just going to say, and I’ve shared all of that in the book.

Rick: Right, yeah. I love this book. You know, that bookshelf that people see behind me is the extent of the bookshelves in our house, that’s it. And so, I can’t keep a lot of books. We don’t have a really big house. But occasionally, I come across a book that I like so much that I want to keep, and yours is going to be one of them. And part of the reason is also that it just has all these beautiful quotes all the way through it from various people, some of the ones you just mentioned and many others, and that in itself is a great resource. But I just want to address the thing you said about this consciousness revolution being even more significant than the Copernican revolution and the scientific revolution and so on. I think one way of understanding why it is, is that it’s the shift of a deeper paradigm. It’s the shift of the ultimate paradigm, really, because the whole understanding of consciousness has been upside down. It’s been considered largely by most people to be just a product of brain functioning, whereas in fact, it’s the ultimate reality. And so, there can be no paradigm more deep than the experience and understanding of consciousness as the foundation of the universe, and as perhaps even the sum total of the universe, we can get onto that. And so, if we could get onto that understanding en masse as a species, then the impact of that should be tremendous. And we talk about why that upside down sort of thinking has resulted in all the damage that is being inflicted on the planet. In fact, maybe we can get into that right now if you want to.

Gillian: Well, it’s really a transition, isn’t it, from a dead universe to a living universe. You know, the essence of the new story of evolutionary spirituality is that we’re not this absurd story of being an accidental speck of isolated consciousness that’s emerged somehow or evolved from a conglomeration of dead matter. It’s an absurd story. You know, we are flowering. Human consciousness is a flowering, a blossoming, ever living, evolving, purposeful, creative divine mystery, which is the universe. You know, this is our new story. It connects mysticism. It brings sentience into the universe. It brings sentience into the scientific story of big history, which is an amazing story. I mean, it’s been said that the discovery of the evolution of the universe has been the pinnacle of the scientific enterprise, you know, to bring forth the story of evolution. And we could go into the little Brian Swimme example to get a handle on this, which you often speak of, that if you think about the evolution of the universe, think about hydrogen gas, you know, colorless gas, which is one of the first elements to emerge after the flaring forth of energy we call the Big Bang. Brian Swimme says, you know, that’s a misnaming of it. It’s not a Big Bang and you think shrapnel. It’s not like that. It’s a flaring forth of divine energy, you know. And in that early stages of that, we had the formation of hydrogen gas. Now, just take hydrogen gas, this colorless, odorless gas, and leave it alone for 13.8 billion years, and it becomes rose bushes, giraffes, and human beings, and the music of Bach and Beethoven and so on. I mean, that’s extraordinary. To get a handle on that is like a mystical experience. What is going on? So, can I go on with this, Rick, what this implies to me in terms of the story of evolutionist spirituality?

Rick: You could, and I’ll give you a little catalyst here, which is a quote from David Abram that I pulled from your book, in which he says that, “Sentience was never our private possession. We live immersed in intelligence, enveloped and informed by a creativity we cannot fathom.” All right, take it from there.

Gillian: Yeah, yeah, beautiful. So, in the story of evolutionist spirituality, what I prefer to call evolutionary mysticism, we’re understanding that there is a driving force behind this cosmic drama of evolution, which I think Andrew Cohen invented the term evolutionary impulse, the impulse of love, which is moving us towards greater manifestations of consciousness, complexity, of goodness, truth, and beauty in some very mysterious way. But here’s the thing, Rick, this is the most beautiful aspect of our story, is understanding that this time in history, human consciousness is now capable of actually bringing that divine intelligence, that evolutionary impulse, into creation consciously through our own being. I don’t know if I’ve expressed that well enough, but that’s the key to our story. And that’s amazing. It reminds me of the Taoist expression, which I love, which is flowing in the current of the eternal Tao. We’re being invited, the Tao being this intelligence of the universe, which is both within the universe and beyond the universe, the new panentheism, which we can talk about. But the notion that that is now calling or yearning or wanting to express itself through us or become conscious of its own self through us is stunning. And it’s a huge responsibility to awaken to that and guide the next stage of human evolution in that way. Because it’s now human consciousness that is the driving force of evolution on planet Earth. There isn’t a single atom on the planet that’s not being impacted upon by our consciousness and our behavior. And we therefore have to lift it to a level where we can evolve the next stage of the human planet and not destroy it, which we’re currently doing, from the level of the separate ego. The old story, as it were, the old paradigm, is what is destroying the planet, to put it very bluntly. So, this is an awesome responsibility to receive this consciousness in our own being. It implies a whole new sense of self of who we are, which transcends the separate ego and the fear-driven, you know, contracting energies of ego. So, I’m sure we’re going to talk about this new sense of self, which comes out of this new story. And it’s all very beautiful and inspiring and so much needed. This is the other point, that we’re in this critical point in human evolution and human history where we so need to realize this new story and embody it, feel it in our marrow bone. And that’s our mystical renaissance.

Rick: Yeah. I’ll just throw in another quote here before making a comment. This is also pulled from your book. It’s by physicist Freeman Dyson. He says, “Consciousness is not just a passive epiphenomenon carried along by the chemical events in our brains, but is an active agent forcing the molecular complexes to make choices between one quantum state and another. In other words, mind is already inherent in every electron.” And Dyson also was responsible for the quote that the likelihood that this beautiful complex world that we live in could have happened by chance is about as likely as a tornado going through a junkyard and rearranging all the bits of matter in the junkyard into a 747.

Gillian: Absolutely.

Rick: Yeah, so what you were saying earlier about, you know, Brian Swimme’s quote about hydrogen becoming giraffes and rose bushes and opera and so on and so forth, to me that like, shouts out at us. But it’s like glaringly obvious that intelligence is inherent in every little thing, and in fact, perhaps we could even say that everything is intelligence and that it has an agenda, so to speak. You’re talking about getting to the point where it can express itself through human life and reflect upon itself and talk about itself and so on and so forth. It seems to me that if the universe has an agenda, it’s the move toward greater and greater complexity so that more and more complex forms can arise which can more and more fully embody that innate intelligence that permeates everything as a living reality, not just as a transcendent reality.

Gillian: Oh, definitely. Yes, you know, there’s a lovely quote from the Dalai Lama, I think, well, Andrew Harvey quotes him as saying when he asked him what is the meaning of life, and he replied, “The meaning of life is to embody the transcendent. The purpose of life is to embody the transcendent or embody this evolutionary impulse which is both transcendent and within creation,” which in itself is something we can talk about what that means. To feel the life force, to feel the aliveness of the universe is this terribly necessary transition for us or necessary reconnection that we have to make before we can move into this high level of consciousness is to reconnect with our earthly roots. There’s a nice quote from D.H.Lawrence, which is in my book too, about the fact that in our Western, the old story of Western culture, we have pulled humanity, we’ve pulled ourselves up from our roots, and how can we possibly expect to flourish in a vase or a civilized vase on the table? That we need to reconnect with our roots in a living planet and a living earth and feel guileless, but we do more than that. In doing that, we then begin to connect with the transcendent, so it’s both. It’s a growing up and it’s a growing down. I mean, you know, the Neo-Jungian James A. Hillman talked about us growing down rather than growing up because we’re meant to, our roots are down in the earth, but we’re meant to turn the tree of life upside down and see the roots above and the blossoming down here is one aspect of it, but also we have to have our roots beneath and our blossoming coming up. So it’s both. That’s the tantric understanding, isn’t it? The energies of transformation arising, ascending energies and also descending energies. So I suppose what I’m trying to say there is it’s not, and Ken Wilber warns about this, in reconnecting with our animism or animating the natural world again in the way that, of course, we were animistic for over 90% of our cultural history. It’s only recently that we have dehydrated or desacralized the natural world. It’s a curious consequence of our particular Western history. But the problem is, or the solution is not to regress back to primitive animism or to absorption in the natural world, but to engage with that living reality in a conscious way, if that makes sense. It’s like that evolution from pre-personal to personal to transpersonal.

Rick: Yes, that does make sense. I just want to reemphasize something we kind of started with, which I think would be really helpful to people to be clear about this, if this is true. And that is that all the problems in the world which seem so dire and insoluble and life-threatening are reflections or manifestations of the collective consciousness, and the collective consciousness is determined by the individual consciousness of all the billions of people that make up the world. We look for political solutions and we look for economic solutions and technological solutions and all those things, and all those things are necessary. They all have their place in their own domains, on their own levels, but they don’t go deep enough, and they can’t go deep enough because even those solutions and systems are manifestations or reflections of the consciousness of the people who create and administer them. So, what really has to happen is that collective consciousness has to be enlivened or awakened in a very fundamental way through its enlivenment or awakening in large numbers of individuals. And then, you know, it’s kind of like I’ve used the analogy of a forest which is having a hard time withering and dying because the ground has gotten deficient and the plants aren’t getting enough nourishment. Consciousness is like the ground, and if that can be awakened or enlivened in enough people, then the whole ground of collective consciousness will be more rich and nourishing and all sorts of creativity and cooperation and, you know, less greed and selfishness and, you know, blindness and all that will just dissipate. Anyway, that might sound idealistic, but I really think that’s the only thing that’s going to do it.

Gillian: Well, the thing is, Rick, you know, that the consciousness in the driving seat of evolution at the moment that’s taking us into an abyss of extinction, you know, this understanding that we’re causing the sixth great mass extinction on the planet and we’ve got the Amazon forest burning, etc., etc. The consciousness that’s driving the whole thing at the moment, it’s the separate ego, the illusory sense of a separate self, and it’s embedded in a story of separation. Separation from each other, separation from the natural world, and perhaps most tragically of all, separate from our own inner depths. There’s a lovely quote from John O’Donohue on that, the Irish poet, who of course, you know, wrote so beautifully and poetically about the tragedy of our disconnect from the archetypal and mythic realms of the unconscious and of our connection with the living universe, and he said that our neon times have evaded and neglected the depth, the interior realms in favor of the ghostly realms of cyberspace. And the world has become reduced to an intense but transient frontispiece, what is it?

Rick: Frontispiece.

Gillian: Forefront.

Rick: Forefront.

Gillian: Yeah, yeah.

Rick: Facade, maybe.

Gillian: Something like that, yes. An intense but transient foreground, foreground, that was the word he used. And it reminded me of Ken Wilber saying that we’ve moved into flatland, you know. And so it’s not surprising we’ve got all these problems. Charles Eisenstein talks beautifully, you know, and he’s another great writer on this whole new story, I’m sure you’ve interviewed him at some stage. He speaks of us, because of the separate self, we’re in war mode. It’s always us versus them in some way or other. You know, if we have a problem, we have to combat, destroy, or, you know, control the enemy. We see that pervading our whole Western culture, which, of course, is now virtually global culture. And it’s a disaster. We have to change the story to one of cooperation, as you said, and nourish cooperation, and a whole new way of being, basically, of understanding ourselves as human beings. And that’s where our story of evolutionary spirituality, I think, is so important. Because it awakens the mystic in us. It understands that we’re all mystics at heart. I really believe that we need a mystical renaissance week to take us out of this incredibly contracting, fear-driven consciousness of ego.

Rick: Yeah, I do too. And a lot of people are getting that new story. You don’t hear it much on the 6 o’clock news, but if you go to the Bioneers conference, or if you listen to Greta Thunberg, you know, there’s all kinds of wonderful people who are speaking out in a new way. And, you know, it might seem like they’re just sort of like shouting in a hurricane and being drowned out by all the noise. But I think that, you know, I’ve always felt that if you can work at a more fundamental level, you have more leverage than if you work at a symptomatic level. And these people are sort of learning how to operate at a more fundamental level. And thereby, even though they may be smaller in number, their impact can be, you know, much greater than their numbers.

Gillian: Oh, absolutely. That’s our hope, you know, that, you know, a few of us will make it. Well, everything, this time, this critical time, we can talk about phase transitions and how inputs of energy, you know, and chaos theory, slightest bit of energy when we’re unstable can affect the outcome. And it’s called the butterfly effect, you know, and that we’re in butterfly effect time. You know, everything we do matters, and just being kind to someone in the street and so on and so forth can have reverberations at this critical time that we can’t find it hard to imagine. But also, Rick, part of the story is that what is essential in this transformation is a connection with our divine source. This is what I mean about the mystical renaissance. We can no longer solve our problems from the level of the egoic, rational mind. We’ve idolized this rational mind. We think, you know, the whole movement of humanism has been the belief that somehow we can solve everything through this amazing conceptual brain of ours. And it is remarkable. There’s no doubt about it. But there’s a lovely quote from Ram Dass where he says, “The intellect has been the power tool of our separation. The awakened, compassionate heart is the gateway to our unity.” So, you know, we don’t destroy the intellect. It becomes a tool of that compassionate heart, and that’s where we’re needing to go. And where we are going, in a sense.

Rick: Before we started recording, we were talking about people who have lopsided development, you know, Ken Wilber’s lines of development idea where certain things can be very developed, such as the intellect, and other aspects, such as the heart, quite stunted. And we were talking about our, kind of, our definition of enlightenment, if we were to use the word, which would be that there’s a holistic development, a more balanced development and flowering and flourishing of all these different faculties with consciousness at their basis and as their primary nutrient. So…

Gillian: Yeah.

Rick: Yeah, go ahead.

Gillian: Yeah, so, well, I was just going to say that brings in the question of shadow work. You know, if we’re going to embody the transcendent, if we’re going to allow this divine will to replace our little will, not my will, but thy will be done, then we have to do work on ourselves. There’s no shortage of psychotherapies. There’s no shortage of, you know, shadow work options given to us now at this critical time. It’s as though the universe has provided us with them so that we can clear our vessel and clear it and clean it and empty it to be a vessel for the divine. So, yes, indeed, and we see so often with — that there can be a lopsided evolution. But I call that — it’s not altogether an authentic connection with the divine. It’s certainly not a full embodiment of the transcendent. But I entirely agree. I do avoid the word enlightenment. There is clearly no ceiling to our evolution. We are just at kindergarten stage when it comes to consciousness. We’re just at baby stage when it comes to our understanding of consciousness. The universe is now presenting us on planet Earth with this explosion of energy, which is to move into the era of consciousness. We’ve been through matter, we’ve been through the biosphere, we’re now into consciousness, what that means, you know, and to see it as being primary and matter as the epiphenomenon, as it were. So, where were we? What was — I go off on these things, you know, it feels so fascinating about them. (Laughter)

Rick: There’s two of us here, we just keep bouncing it back and forth. But we don’t mean to imply by saying that the intellect has been running roughshod over the world and that we need to, you know, land in the heart that we should dismantle the whole scientific enterprise or any such thing.

Gillian: Not at all.

Rick: Yeah, it just needs to — who was it that — well, I don’t know if this totally relates, but it’s a nice illustration. Thoreau said, you know, “If you’ve been building castles in the air, there’s no problem with that, that’s where they belong, just put foundations under them.” (Laughter)

Gillian: I like that.

Rick: Yeah, here’s a nice little quote from Charles Eisenstein, since you were just talking about him. “Gazing through the lens of accumulated scientific knowledge at a body or a cell, when we really get its complexity and orchestration, its order and its beauty, the perfect mesh of levels and systems, then we know we are in the presence of a miracle. Awe is the only authentic response. Science has brought us to a place where we can walk in living awe of the ongoing miracle that is existence.” So, as opposed to bad-mouthing science or trashing science, we’re praising it as something which has brought us to a point where we can actually appreciate the beauty of nature and even the divinity inherent in nature in a way which 300, 400 years ago people didn’t have the tools to do.

Gillian: Absolutely, that’s the paradox, yes, indeed. I mean, the Dalai Lama, bless him, has also said that a wondrous future for humanity is possible if we can only unite the discoveries of 21st century science with the ancient, intuitive, mystical understandings of the true nature of reality. And that’s what our new story is doing. That’s what it’s doing. It’s beautiful. And as far as imbalance is concerned, Rick, you know, I mean, it really is alarming. I came across a lovely quote the other day, I don’t know who it was, from saying that, “Take Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and God-like technology and put them in a blender and you’ve got problems.”

Rick: Say that again. I think I read that on your website or someplace, but say it again.

Gillian: “Put Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and God-like technology into a blender and you’ve got problems.” And that’s really what we’re doing with our Western, what we have been doing with our Western consciousness before the, you know, that’s why we need a consciousness revolution. I mean, the other alarming thing is that we have all this technology which can give us immense power, you know, our atomic bombs, our hydrogen bombs, our drones, all this incredibly destructive weaponry we now have. It’s coming out of quantum technology, quantum understanding, and yet in our consciousness, we’re still, you know, virtually back in the Stone Age, or at least in a Newtonian atoms in the void, you know, mode of consciousness. So there’s an imbalance there. So this extraordinary power is being used by males mainly, of course, who are still in a Newtonian or Paleolithic level of consciousness. It’s really scary. We have to bring up our wisdom. We have to start, you know, evolving our wisdom as well as our knowledge.

Rick: Yeah, yeah, and by the way…

Gillian: Our schools have to start being schools of wisdom and not just factories of knowledge.

Rick: Yeah, right, or factories of commerce where you learn a skill that you can sit in a cubicle and do until you’re too old to do it.

Gillian: Exactly. Oh, darling, yes, exactly. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, as Brian Swimme put it, you know, what do we do? We learn skills, as you say, and we go to work to earn money to buy stuff that we don’t really need.

Rick: Yeah.

Gillian: Sad story.

Rick: Yeah. This thing about the Newtonian worldview that you just mentioned, I think what you’re implying, if we can embellish it a bit, is that, you know, the world is still regarded by most people as stuff, material stuff. You know, and the universe is sort of a random billiard ball mechanism that has no sort of intrinsic intelligence or meaning or purpose or anything else, and that we’re just some biological robots, you know, operating in this random, meaningless universe. In fact, there’s a sort of multiverse theory that some such people come up with to explain away the apparent evolution of order in this universe that Brian Swimme alluded to with that hydrogen-to-giraffes metaphor, and that is that there’s an infinite number of universes, and we just happen to have lucked out and found ourselves in the one of umpteen gazillion that, by random chance, has worked out to be orderly and to have structures arise out of chaos. And I think you said in your book that, you know, you quoted some scientists as saying the chance of even a single proton evolving in 13.8 billion years is pretty slim, much less all the complexity that we actually have. I don’t know, it’s absurd that the extent to which materialists will go to defend their position.

Gillian: Well, you know, we have the anthropic principle, don’t we? And I think the multiverse theory is a real cop-out in terms of, you know, scientists who put that forward, because the fact is we know now that the universe is incredibly finely tuned to the evolution of human consciousness, the evolution of life, etc. And as you’ve pointed out in lots of your interviews, you know, we’ve got billions, trillions of planets across the universe now we know of, and that life will be sprouting up all over the place, I’m sure. There are many experiments in consciousness. That’s one of the more reasons why we don’t muff our cue here, and we, you know, we evolve consciousness the way the universe invites us to, because it’s finely tuned to do so. And, you know, multi-universes, whatever, let’s just focus on our beautiful universe here and what it’s bringing forth for us to do at this point in time, which is connect to our divine source, bring forth a new story of panentheism, and get on with, you know, putting into reverse all the terrible things we’ve done to our lovely planet.

Rick: Yeah. The thing about the universe, go ahead.

Gillian: I’m just thinking the sense of the sacred again, with just this, it’s so important to reconnect with the sense of the sacred, both around ourselves and around the living universe. That’s what we’ve lost, the sacred, to bow to the mystery of it all.

Rick: The thing about the universe being finely tuned, there’s something that they understand about 200 different variables, and who knows, there may be more, that any one of which, if they were just a fraction of a percent off, we wouldn’t have had a universe, or we wouldn’t have had life in a universe, such as, you know, the strength of gravity or various other things. So, the notion that the universe is random or accidental is absurd, and it really seems that there is some intelligence which has been responsible for the universe being this amazing mechanism that it is, and capable of giving rise to life. Through which again, consciousness or that intelligence which is unbounded and vast, can be consciously appreciated and lived through a body.

Gillian: And also, Rick, as all the mystics have revealed to us, and we could talk about the mystics and sages of the past, that its essence is love. And I like to see the mystics and sages, this is the consciousness that we’re now being called to embody. It’s not just the prerogative of the saint, the sage, anymore. It’s our birthright to be this higher, this more benign level of consciousness. And I don’t know what I was going to say now, then I’ve lost it, but anyway.

Rick: Well, just that anybody has the capacity to be.

Gillian: Yes, exactly, and that the mystics of the past and the extraordinary beings of the past are like the cells, the first cells in the emergence of the biosphere. First of all, the first living cell was enormously fragile, very sensitive to heat and so on cold. But finally, it reproduced enough to bring itself into being and flourishes all the living life on planet Earth. Amazing how one living cell became all of that. So in a sense, those mystics and sages of the past have been like the initial cells of this new consciousness, which are now being invited to proliferate. Another lovely example from Barbara Marks Hubbard is that of the butterfly emerging from the cocoon of the caterpillar. Where first of all, there are these imaginal cells that the caterpillar’s immune system destroys. It doesn’t like them, it doesn’t want to evolve. But then finally, they proliferate to such an extent that the caterpillar gives up and the new cells eat the caterpillar, I presume, and then emerges the butterfly. So it’s a beautiful metaphor for where we are at the moment in this explosion of a new consciousness and a new humanity.

Rick: Yeah, and one thing that the caterpillar metaphor brings to mind is that the caterpillar basically turns to mush before a butterfly, and before the mush rearranges itself and a butterfly is formed. And so I wonder to what extent our society, our world is going to turn to mush before something better emerges. Because some people feel like it’s really touch and go and it’s not necessarily a foregone conclusion that we’re going to survive this catastrophe that’s becoming more and more evident. What do you think about that?

Gillian: I like the extrapolation of the metaphor, darling. Yes, the mush, indeed the mush. Because I sometimes think that I should have called the book Consciousness and Catastrophe. I read a quote from some well-informed person the other day on climate science saying that the breakdown of our political systems, our social structure, is inevitable. Ensuing chaos, a catastrophe, is probable, and extinction is possible. That’s what we’re at, very sobering indeed. So yes, I think it’s inevitable. We can’t just tinker at the edges. There has to be some major deconstruction, and it’s going to be enormously challenging for us.

Rick: Yeah. I mean, look at the mess that is Syria. The situation in Syria was arguably caused by climate change. There was a severe drought that was pretty unprecedented. All the farmers came into the cities because they couldn’t farm. And then the government couldn’t handle this influx of people, and so social chaos broke out. And they pretty much destroyed the country, and everybody’s been trying to emigrate to Europe. But that’s just a tiny little place compared to the whole world. What if sea levels rise 20 feet? And hundreds of millions of people who live in coastal cities are going to have to move, and at the same time there’s droughts in the interior and so on. And it’s going to make Syria look like a picnic.

Gillian: I think we have a refugee problem now, and of course we’ve been treating our refugees, you know, these boat people coming to Australia appallingly, stranding them on offshore islands and just leaving them there for years and saying they can’t come into Australia. We have a very bad human rights record in that in Australia at the moment. But, you know, the refugee problem is going to be so enormous.

Rick: Yeah. And we have the same thing in the States with people coming up through Mexico from Honduras and Guatemala and so on because it’s so bad down there. And then they get stuck at the border. And we’re not going – I mean, let’s tie this back to spirituality because it might seem we’re just going into doom and gloom mode here. But this is extremely relevant, this is what we’re saying here, to the whole notion of a spiritual awakening of mankind. And this kind of darkness before the dawn thing that we’re experiencing now needs to be understood in its proper context.

Gillian: Well, exactly. And all the more reason why we have to do this inner work to find a source of inner peace and inner joy. What is that lovely quote from Joseph Campbell that I use? “It’s possible to participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world,” which seems crazy. But, you know, it is possible if we find this source of inner peace and light within ourselves and realize, of course, that this is a story, that the universe will go on, et cetera, et cetera. But, again, we come down to the importance of our mystical renaissance in this. And I heard someone talking the other day about how they’re introducing meditation, mindfulness techniques to refugees somewhere in the Middle East or North Africa somewhere, and how much it has helped them to deal with the tragedy that they’re living through. So, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, to find those inner resources are more needed than ever. Absolutely.

Rick: Yeah. I was on a boat ride on Lake Lucerne one time in about 1974 with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, and he was talking about this faith transition thing that the society was going to undergo. And someone asked him how we could survive it, you know, what should people do to prepare for it. You know, a lot of people are talking these days about stocking up food in underground bunkers and all, but his answer was, get established in the self, you know, the capital S self, and then you’ll have the foundations to deal with whatever comes along.

Gillian: Exactly. Didn’t he also say that, you know, the winds of grace are blowing everywhere, but we have to raise our sails to catch them?

Rick: I think Aurobindo said that. I think I read that. I just read that from your book. I think it was Aurobindo. But anyway, it’s beautiful. Say it again.

Gillian: Anyway, whatever. It’s a beautiful, well, the winds of grace are blowing everywhere, but we have to raise our sails to catch them. In other words, there is help there, but it’s not going to descend in terms of a spaceship somewhere or, you know, Christ suddenly appearing in the midst of us or whatever. It has to come through us. We are now the hands of Christ. We are now the feet of Christ. I love the quote from Mother Theresa, not Mother Theresa, Saint Therese.

Rick: Saint Theresa.

Gillian: Saint Theresa, yes, yes, yes. That we now have to embody that consciousness, but it’s there for us. It’s waiting for us. It’s yearning, yearning, as we said earlier, to move through us and guide us. Each of us, this is the other thing which is so important to understand in our story. We’re not all going to become the same as we begin to embody the transcendent. We each emerge totally unique with completely unique gifts to bring to this unfolding cosmic drama. This is so important. I love the image of the analogy of the rose window of Chartres cathedral, that gorgeous vision of the window. We’re each like shards of glass within that. We have to find where our place is and our gift to the universe. So it’s incredibly uplifting. It brings purpose and meaning into our lives. There’s always catastrophe and it sounds terrible and so on. What can I do? How can I help? You have to find your shard of glass. Or another analogy is the symphony, a note in the cosmic symphony. It needs you to be playing it. It needs you to be gifting it with however humble it may seem, however we each have a unique gift to bring to the unfolding story or cosmic drama. And that’s beautiful. And that’s so uplifting for people. How can you feel depressed if you understand that and how critical it is now in this time of chaos and transition to find that and gift it to the bigger picture?

Rick: I would say that sameness and conformity and drabness all result from insufficient contact with the mystical dimension of life. But when the contact is lively and clear, then everybody becomes even more distinct and unique and individual in their expression. Again, like a forest, or think of the rainforest. The soil is so fertile and it gets so much rain and everything that you have this abundance of diversity of animals and plants and everything else as compared with the desert or a rather arid place.

Gillian: aAbsolutely, absolutely. It’s a mistake to think that we’re all going to end up the same if we all become calm and peaceful and connect with our inner space of peace and so on, you know. The fact is that our emotions are very similar and very boring. I love the distinction between emotions and feelings. This came from my teacher Samuel Sagan. Emotions come from our blockages, our samskaras, our reactivity, very much from our ego consciousness, really, our anger and jealousy and so on and so forth, fear. Feelings come from our higher self. They come from this higher level of consciousness, this awakening consciousness, feelings of joy, of love, of love of life and compassion and so on. The big difference to determine whether you’re in an emotion or a feeling is if you contemplate an emotion, become aware of emotion, it diminishes. It’s one way of dealing with it is to become aware of it with your witness consciousness. If you become more aware of a feeling, it heightens it. So, you know, what you’re describing is a move, a shift into feelings and to wake into that joy and creativity that is our birthright as divine human beings rather than the contracting energies of emotions. Does that make sense?

Rick: It does.

Gillian: It’s a nice distinction.

Rick: And another thought that you triggered is that as difficult as the times may be and as even more difficult as they may become, it’s actually a very opportune time for rapid spiritual progress. I’ve heard that there’s a Chinese symbol for crisis which contains within it the symbol for opportunity or some such thing. You may have heard that. But it’s under, you know, difficult circumstances which is not to say that if you’re in the midst of the war in Syria, it seems like, you know, as evolutionary as being in an ashram or something like that. But I just think that the atmosphere is such these days that if we put up our sails, the wind is blowing quite swiftly and we’ll make great progress if we choose to hop on the sort of the bandwagon that is going on.

Gillian: Well, I suppose the big question is, okay, this story is very uplifting and the shift in paradigm as we described it. The other quote we didn’t mention is the famous one from Einstein, of course, that you can’t solve the problem at the same level of consciousness that you created it. And that’s, again, what we’re talking about at the moment, this need to lift our level of consciousness. The other point I want to make is that, you know, we talk about raising the level of consciousness to the next stage of human evolution. But to realize that consciousness is evolving, that we’ve got a long way to go in terms of what our potential is in the evolution of consciousness. And I think the person who’s best, you know, mapped it for us in this context of our evolutionary story is Sri Aurobindo. And I really recommend his disciple, Satprem’s book, “The Adventures in Consciousness” with Sri Aurobindo. But I think he identifies five different levels of consciousness as the ordinary mind and then there’s the, what’s the next mind? Anyhow, we go on to the illumined mind, the higher mind, the illumined mind, the intuitive mind, the unity mind, and so on, all with different flavors, you know? So this is what we go back to being enlightened. Well, you know, we’ve got a long way to go before we get to the ceiling of all of that. And they’re discussed beautifully in this little gem of a book called “Adventures in Consciousness” by Satprem. So we’re just stepping, you know, very humbly and gently into the next level of what the integralists, Ken Wilber’s colleagues call “integral consciousness,” the second tier of the evolution of consciousness. So it’s a journey, yeah. We’re stepping from personal to transpersonal. We could talk more about that. I don’t know where you want to go now, Rick.

Rick: Let’s go everywhere. But I heard a great story about Sri Aurobindo the other day. There was this cat that used to sort of hang out in the lecture hall where he would lecture, and a lot of times it would get up on his couch or his dais where he would ordinarily speak, you know, and it would go to sleep. And if the cat were sleeping there, he wouldn’t disturb the cat. He would just sort of sit on the edge of the stage or something and give his talk rather than disturb the cat.

Gillian: Yes, yes.

Rick: It was sweet, you know?

Gillian: Yes, very sweet.

Rick: It revealed a certain humility, I think, gentleness and compassion and so on. It’s also said that Mohammed once cut off the sleeve of his coat rather than disturb a sleeping cat.

Gillian: Oh, really? Wow, that’s a story. Yes, yes, indeed, indeed.

Rick: Which I think relates to our whole discussion because it implies a sort of gentleness in dealing with life and a gentleness with dealing, perhaps extrapolating from there, to dealing with the world. And look at how brutal we are with life and with the world in our society today. I mean, we just sort of think nothing of the way we treat millions and millions of animals and, you know, I mean, those animals in that rain forest that are burning.

Gillian: Oh, Rick, Rick, absolutely. Yeah, yeah, yeah, you’ve brought me on to one of my favorite themes, which is our treatment of animals. And what you were saying about Sri Aurobindo and so on is manifesting and honoring the sacredness of life, the sacredness of all of life. And our treatment of animals, gosh, if humankind does survive into the future, we’ll look back at our time and think, what were we doing? And how people could be party to it, you know, blindly just going along with the cruelty of factory farming and even the dairy farming and so on. It’s just, yeah, it’s unbelievable.

Rick: I don’t even want to say it because it’s so horrible. What you told me about Descartes and what he would do to animals during lectures sometimes and ridicule anybody who objected because he regarded them merely as, you know, little mechanisms that had no feelings. I mean, he’s the guy who was sort of the father of the modern scientific way of thinking.

Gillian: Modern world foundations, that’s exactly of our modern world. And believing that humankind was privileged with the sentience and somehow having a soul descending into it and everything else was just machines. Absolutely, someone, I met a biologist one time saying, you know, if only Descartes had had a pet cat, a kitten, or a dog or something like that. He obviously didn’t have some animal to love to awaken his awareness of how intelligent and sensitive they are. Unbelievable. Yeah.

Rick: It’s interesting that the father of the modern way of thinking, the materialist paradigm, had highly intelligent, highly developed intellect and obviously a completely shrunken, undeveloped heart. Which, you know, that was the springboard for the way the world has been working lately.

Gillian: Well, the mechanistic model, it certainly doesn’t nourish the soul, does it? I think there’s a lovely quote I use in my book from a poet called James Agee, Agee, something like that.

Rick: I’m not sure of that, yeah.

Gillian: Yeah, he described our prevailing world view that we are this accidental speck of consciousness, etc., etc., in a dead, you know, dead matter, coming out of dead matter, as the most, what did he call it, the most horrendous crime that humankind has ever perpetrated upon itself or something like that. You know, because it puts our consciousness in a straitjacket. The only way we can go from there is backwards, really. It stultifies our evolution into a higher level of engagement with the sacredness of reality in ourselves.

Rick: Yeah, and for some reason I’m just moved to say once again that this might sound like a kind of philosophical discussion we’re having here, but it is so germane to what is happening in the world. It just, and I just can’t, you know, look at what is happening in the world and not see it in a spiritual context or in the context of there being insufficient spiritual development. The whole notion that spirituality is somehow unrelated to current events is strange to me. I think it’s, go ahead, continue.

Gillian: Well, I think it’s called the second wave spirituality, which is now bringing spirituality into the marketplace. And we’re seeing it brilliantly in the wonderful Marianne Williamson at the moment, you know, standing for the presidency of the United States. She says that you can’t be spiritual without being political these days. I would translate that as being that you can’t be spiritual, authentically spiritual, without being a sacred activist, without your connection with the divine moving you, as I was saying earlier, to bring your gift into a world in crisis. You know, how could you not do that? Even in some cases, it may be sitting in a cave and meditating up there, but not for your own enlightenment, but for the well-being of the planet in some way. That’s why, you know, we’ve got, we have to have, we have got to have a narcissistic, we still have an epidemic of narcissism, don’t we? It distresses me about so much spiritual practice, so much spirituality is couched in terms of my enlightenment, my well-being, you know, me, I, me, mine. And it’s completely missing the point. You’ll never get anywhere with that attitude, because the essence, the core of mysticism is humility and surrender to a higher level of being. And it’s not about me, mine. And if you do find that connection, and I hope we’re going to talk more about mystical experience and mystical mysticism, what that means. If you do have an authentic connection with the divine, the defining quality is humility and service. You want to serve. It’s a natural part of our being to serve the whole, because we are part of the whole, apart from anything else.

Rick: Yeah. And it’s not only spiritual practitioners who are sometimes narcissistic, but spiritual teachers, even some rather popular ones. I was listening to a talk by one guy who I very, you know, I hate to call him a spiritual teacher, but he poses as one, who was referring to basically everyone other than himself. He was advocating adultery and saying it’s especially useful for men because it’s natural for them, and that if anybody says otherwise or tries to lay any kind of ethical trip on you, they’re just ignorant monkeys. That was his phrase for describing humanity in general. And, you know, they’re stupid and the world is illusory anyway, and so do whatever you want. There are people out there speaking this way.

Gillian: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I think that’s the shadow side. I think Andrew Harvey refers to it as the shadow side of non-dualism, you know, this notion that you can just do anything because the world isn’t real and it’s an illusion, etc., etc. It’s not where we’re meant to be in authentic spirituality and mysticism, not at all.

Rick: Yeah, well, I have stories, but I don’t want to get into them. I’ve got very spiritual teachers saying things like that. But we have better ways to spend our time here. So, one thing is, go ahead.

Gillian: I was just saying, you know, in terms of our philosophical discussion, I rather like the Charles Birch model of what we’re talking about, you know, in terms of our evolution, that we’ve had these three basic models. Matter, the matter spirit one, the matter never experiences, which is the materialistic model. Then we have matter sometimes experiences, which is the Cartesian model, you know, the duality that somehow we are different from everything else. And then we have the third, which is our panentheism, which is matter always experiences. I think it’s a nice way of explaining that to people, that we’ve moved now to the matter always experiences, and that more and more scientists, biologists even, are beginning to put that forward as the prevailing understanding of reality, matter always experiences.

Rick: Yeah, well I’m glad you brought in the word panentheism because I want to talk about that with you. And recently, Sam Harris’ wife, Annika, wrote a book called “Conscious.” I listened to a couple of interviews that she did, one with Dan Harris of ABC News and another with her husband Sam. And at one point, they got into this discussion about, well, you know, where does it end? I mean, if everything is conscious to some degree, does that mean my shoe is conscious? You know, things like that. And then they came very close to sort of having a breakthrough, which is to say, they began to consider, well, some say that consciousness is actually the foundation of everything, and that everything is actually consciousness, appearing to be a material. But then they began to snicker and write it off as New Age woo-woo and to insult Deepak Chopra.

Gillian: Oh, really? Oh, yes, yes. I don’t understand why the story of consciousness being the essence of reality is not just so infectious. It’s just so, yeah, it brings joy and purpose and meaning. So what were we saying around that?

Rick: Panentheism.

Gillian: Panentheism.

Rick: Let’s define it.

Gillian: Yes, let’s define it. Well, it’s the feeling of the divine. I avoid the term God because I think it’s got a lot of patriarchal baggage, but, you know, okay, God. I prefer to say the divine or the mystery with a capital M. The divine is both within nature and beyond, within the universe, within creation and beyond. And that brings us to, may or may not be helpful to bring in gender here, that very often traditionally the divine within matter has been known as the feminine, as the goddess, as the mother. And it’s archetypally it sort of resonates with our understanding of birth and creativity is coming from the mother, mother earth, mother. She’s the divine mother is within creation. And the transcendent is the masculine. The cooler divine energy, less juicy. Andrew has cool practice. I quote Andrew Harvey a lot because he has been my most recent inspiration in terms of all of this, I have to say. I really honor him as a scholar and a mystic of our time. And he has a lot of wisdom to share. So, yes, so we have our cool practices, which are connections with the transcendent. And then we have our heart practices, our warm practices, which are practices that connect us with the divine mother, with our earthliness. It’s a matter of integrating those two in the heart, actually, but that distinction is made. So, again, it comes down to how can you understand all of this simply from the rational mind? You really do have to have some experience of these energies to find them, to embrace them. And they can become, we’ll talk more about this, I hope, how tangible, how tangible subtle energy and subtle structures of consciousness can become. Like the chakras, like Kundalini energy, et cetera, et cetera. You can’t just dismiss it as woo woo. The consensus is arising in so many people experience this energy. So we can talk then about the science of spirituality, subjective or radical empiricism. We have to start measuring and listening or taking seriously subjective experiences. Because the other aspect of this is that the inner is the outer. And part of our new paradigm is that whatever is outside is influenced by what is inside and vice versa. We know this now from quantum physics, don’t we, the impact of consciousness on actualizing the outside world. This is enormously revolutionary in terms of our story that we do begin to see the synchronicities between the inner and the outer. I wouldn’t go so far as to say entirely the inner is creating the outer. You mentioned biocentrism when we were exchanging emails the other day. That gets us into very deep water. But anyway, just touching the idea that the inner and the outer are not disconnected. And therefore, what we find within ourselves affects what happens outside. And it affects our perception and it affects what we bring forth from the world.

Rick: Yeah.

Gillian: Does that make sense?

Rick: It does, yes. And as I understand it, I think science tried to sort of get subjectivity out of the way because it was unreliable. And tried to sort of understand the world in an objective way, what it really is as opposed to what our unreliable senses might think it is. But the only problem is that anything we know has to be known through the mechanism of this mind, this brain, these senses. And so, if science has failed, which it has, to focus on the full development of this mind and brain and consciousness, then it’s necessarily sort of handicapped itself severely in its ability to understand what life is, and also in the technologies it has spawned which have done so much destruction.

Gillian: Well, I love Ken Wilber, the way he addresses modes of knowing in this regard, where he speaks of the eye of the flesh, which is our understanding through the five senses, which is the scientific enterprises. And then he speaks of the mode of perception, which is the eye of the mind, which is our philosophy and our mathematics, which is critically linked into our scientific understanding, of course. And then the one we’ve totally denigrated or disregarded is the eye of the spirit, or the eye of contemplation. We could call it the eye of the soul, really. It’s our perception coming from a connected level of consciousness, and it’s necessarily subjective. It takes us into the realms of spirit, of inner realms, of other realms of consciousness, of subtle energy, et cetera. But science doesn’t have any proof of its existence, but the absence of proof is not proof that it doesn’t exist. What you can have in subjective experience is consensus. I mean, all the mystics, the core messages of all the great mystical traditions come up with the same understanding of oneness, of our own divinity, et cetera, et cetera, and our experiences of chakras, of subtle energy, of life force, and so on. So there’s a huge consensus around this. So huge consensus coming about near-death experiences and out-of-the-body experiences. You can’t just dismiss them all as hallucinations of the brain or emotional disturbance of some kind or another. It’s ridiculous. And I think we are moving into a time when science is embracing that. You were talking to Chris Bache and Michael Pollan. What’s his name? A while ago about psychedelics.

Rick: Yeah, Bache and Pollan. That’s the way they pronounce it.

Gillian: Bache. Yeah, yeah. He’s done a lot in this regard of bringing subjective, looking at subjective experiences and understanding that we can have a consensus on them and understand better about what consciousness is all about. So it’s an evolving field of study, isn’t it?

Rick: Yeah, and I mean consensus is a major pillar of the scientific method. If some guy says, “Hey, I discovered the Higgs boson with the new Hadron Collider,” or whatever it’s called over there in CERN, I’m not going to be able to go and test it because I wouldn’t know how to do it. But other physicists can come and say, “Let me see. I’ll try it and see if I can find it too.” And this is the way science works. There’s consensus and there’s more and more people reach a consensus and then something gains greater and greater credence or credibility. Alright, but as you were just saying, there have been thousands of mystics throughout history who have had experiences that concur with one another, and in many cases in cultures that had no means of communicating with one another, and they all have experienced something very similar. So they’ve just used a subjective methodology of exploration, which interestingly is universally available, which the Large Hadron Collider is not. Only a few people have the ability to use that, but everybody in the world has a marvelous scientific instrument in the form of their human mind and nervous system. We can all do the experiment.

Gillian: Yep, as Wilbur says, we can all become our own laboratory. And I mean talking about the scientific method and so on, their paradigms can become enormously rigid. They just ignore evidence, you know, the Kuhn structure of revolutions.

Rick: Right, Thomas Kuhn.

Gillian: Thomas Kuhn, exactly. How scientists are very reluctant to shift out of their paradigms and embrace evidence that’s contrary to them. So there’s that aspect. And what came to mind when you were talking was that example from Galileo, which I love, where apparently, I’m sure it’s apocryphal, but anyhow, Galileo in his time when he invented his telescope invited the ecclesiastical elite of the time, or some of them, to come and view the mountains of the moon through his telescope. And they declined to do so because they said the moon was a celestial body and was perfect and he couldn’t possibly have mountains.

Rick: Yeah.

Gillian: And I’d like to put that into reverse now and say that, you know, the scientists are saying that there’s no such thing as subtle energy without, you know, taking up the tool of meditation and actually experiencing for themselves.

Rick: Yeah, I was listening to Julia Mossbridge the other day who speaks at the SAND conference, and she was talking about how when she deals with scientific colleagues about the things she’s studying, which are sort of esoteric by ordinary scientific standards because she’s trying to understand, you know, things such as precognition and consciousness and so on, you know, she gets these very rigid, closed responses. Well, I’m not even going to look at that because it couldn’t possibly be true. And then she says, “Oh, okay, then I’ve got it. So, you’re practicing religion, but I’m actually going to keep practicing science.”

Gillian: Ah, yes, yes, indeed. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So, it’s a science of spirituality. Why not? Why not?

Rick: Yeah, why not?

Gillian: Yeah, yeah. Understanding it as a whole different mode of knowledge, you know, it’s different from that of the five senses. It doesn’t make it wrong.

Rick: Nope. Okay, so we could go even further into that area, but you keep alluding to things you want to make sure that we talk about during this interview, so I want to make sure we get to them. So, what are some things we haven’t touched upon that you want to make sure we do touch upon?

Gillian: Well, the qualities of this new sense of self, I suppose it’s emerging, what that means, and definitely our mystical anatomy I’d like to talk about because that’s something that I’m very passionate about, structures of consciousness, and we’re talking about consensus and our understanding there as part of our science of spirituality and how important that is for our new emerging, well, how important I feel it is anyway for our evolution into this next level of human consciousness.

Rick: Yeah, yeah, well, let’s talk about those things. You started off. Well, you questioned me on the matter. All right, something called our mystical anatomy. Maybe I should go back to my own experience of this, shall I? My first experience.

Gillian: Yes, that’s always good. We haven’t even really talked much about you or what you’ve gone through to get where you are today, so we can weave that in.

Gillian: Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, I can say, you know, we can leave that in now, but perhaps you can question me more about that. Yeah, my own life journey, in a way, has replicated the journey of Western consciousness in many ways, so I’d like to share it from that point of view. I had a mystical childhood, mystical experiences, strong connection with the divine in that sort of almost, you could say, pre-personal level of consciousness or something, and then I went to London University, the Godless Institute of Gower Street, where all that was crushed out of me. In the ’60s, and it was dominated by atheism and psychology and behaviorism and atheism in psychology and atheism in philosophy with AJS. Logical positivism was the mode at the time, the thinking. So I fell into the company of a lot of postgraduate psychology and philosophy students, and they convinced me that to be religious, to even entertain seriously any thoughts from Carl Jung at the time, you were manifesting either emotional instability or stupidity. Truly, that was the thought, you know. And I was a country girl with a Yorkshire accent going into London University feeling very intimidated, so I very soon just decided that, you know, that wasn’t acceptable. I was trying very hard not to appear emotionally unstable or stupid. So I lost touch with my spontaneity and my sense of who I was, really. I really did, and for the next 15 years, I was crippled with this effort to be this best agnostic intellectual.

Rick: Isn’t it a shame that that should be the effect education would have on a person?

Gillian: Well, yeah, again, to turn to Andrew Harvey, he got out of it very quickly. He could have been an Oxford don, but he said he escaped the concentration camp of Western tertiary education very quickly. I was identified with that remark. I didn’t escape the concentration camp. I stayed with it. I got a master’s degree, got a PhD, et cetera, et cetera. I taught at universities, always with this feeling that it just didn’t fit me. I mean, I’m not saying that that’s true for every academic. Some people have that gift and they want to be there, but it wasn’t right for me, and I got slotted into it simply by going along with what was expected of me, and it made me very unhappy. So we were really leading to my introduction to subtle energy, the lifeline to my awakening from this sleep of consciousness, as I now look back on it as being when I wasn’t being me, came with childbirth and pregnancy. It was just such an explosion of love to have this baby. It was such a wonderful feeling to have this feeling, this life within me. And I have to say, you know, during my pregnancy, I didn’t drink or smoke or, you know, do all those things that I was doing when I wasn’t pregnant, which wasn’t helping my state of mind. So it was my love I felt for my children. So my motivation was not to be enlightened. It never has been in my spiritual journey, not the least bit interested in that. I wanted to be healthier and happier for my young sons. So I decided I had to do something about myself, and I started going to yoga classes. And I must have had a very good teacher because very soon, very early on, I had this amazing experience in what is called yoga nidra, the practice at the end of the class where you lie down in shavasana, in dead man’s pose, and you’re guided through your body almost one cell at a time, you know, to relax and let go and let go. And I sort of lost my physical body, and I felt myself to be this body of energy, vibration, of light. And it was so beautiful and such a contrast to the sort of contracting energies of my rational mind for the last 15 years, you know, that I wanted to explore more of it. And of course, I had further experiences in yoga nidra, which awakened me to my subtle body, my etheric body, as we call it, the life force body. And I trained as a yoga teacher. And then I went to a shiatsu practitioner and again had a release of energy through the shiatsu practice, which is like acupuncture, really. And I trained as a shiatsu practitioner because I was so impressed with that. So that was my introduction to my mystical anatomy and subtle experience. And of course, I went on to meditation and I did Goenka’s 10 days of Vipassana meditation, where you turn your mind into a laser beam, focusing just on your nose for three days or something like that. Then you take that laser beam of a mind through every cell of your body. And again, I began to experience these meridians that the acupuncturists map, you know, channels of energy moving through us. And I began to feel them in a very defined way. And I also began to feel the chakras, the wheels of energy on my central channel, which I didn’t know anything about at the time, which of course now is quite almost common knowledge. But we’re looking back at the 70s now, early 80s, late 70s. And this again, it wasn’t just an oh, how wonderful experience. It was a transformation in consciousness. It made me feel different. It really did. It made me want to engage more with life. It made me feel more alive. It made me more in love with life. This was all an awakening of my what I call my mystical anatomy. And then finally, and then I met this extraordinary being called Dr. Samuel Sagan in the late 80s. Oh, I must add that, you know, a result of all this, this, this awakening, you might call it. I left city life. I left my academic life. I left my marriage. And I took my three sons off to the Blue Mountains of New South Wales to explore meditation, consciousness, and a whole alternative lifestyle. So it was a very dramatic shift. You know, I realized I had to do that because I was so excited by this new consciousness that was coming up in me. And also what I was reading about consciousness. So then I met Samuel Sagan. They say when you’re ready, your teacher appears. Well, he did. He was a doctor, French. He’d been meditating for a couple of years, I think, in the East. And he was enormously, giant intellect. And he quite clearly had a massive awakening. I’d say kundalini awakening. In the early days when I was sitting with him, I remember suddenly seeing this light around him, this sparkling white, brilliant light around. I’d never seen an aura before. And I just sort of reeled with it, realized then that he was a very powerful being, you know. And that it was a privilege to be with him. And he introduced me. He came to Australia because he’d been guided on a higher plane to found a school of esoteric studies in the Western Gnostic tradition. Which I didn’t know anything about, but it sounded very impressive. He came with nothing other than his library of books. But he very soon got a following because of his psychic abilities, his knowledge, just his presence, you know. He was a giant of consciousness. Anyway, he introduced me to meditation on the third eye. This is one of the core practices of the school. And he subsequently went on to amass lots of students and set up a center in Sydney, center in California. He died a few years ago, which was rather sad, but leaving behind an enormous volume of work in books and CDs and so forth. And I still do his practices. I’m enormously grateful for my connection with him. But it’s interesting that I didn’t feel moved to be a dedicated student of the school. I always remained peripheral. I didn’t seem ready to be pulled into what I thought has a very masculine quality to it. And besides which, I was finding myself and my independence and my feminine side and the sacred feminine. But I do feel enormously grateful for the tools he gave me to awaken my mystical anatomy. And one of these most precious ones is the practice for awakening the third eye. And I don’t know if that’s the point at which you’d like to come in and say something, Rick, or whether you want me to go on about that. He gave me permission to make a CD of the practice, which I did in the late ’90s, and it’s available as a free download on my website.

Rick: Yeah, you have a couple of CDs here that I’ll be creating a link to on your page on BatGap, “The Art of Letting Go” and “Relaxation for Sleep.” So is that practice also on those CDs?

Gillian: The third eye, no, that’s a separate, no, no. It’s not available commercially anymore, but it’s available as a free download on my website.

Rick: Yeah, good.

Gillian: And this, yeah, the gateway, this portal, the third eye, which is actually a tunnel going from the front of the head through to the back of the head. It’s a tunnel of — it’s a subtle tunnel. It won’t be revealed if you have an operation on the brain, of course.

Rick: Don’t try that.

Gillian: No, don’t try that. But — and I believe all meditation practices, or most of them anyway, and there are many, many — we know many different sort of meditation practices these days. Mostly under the umbrella of mindfulness. But meditation on the third eye, most of these meditations do take you to an awakening of the third eye. Because if you focus very, you know, in a concentrated manner on a candle, for example, you begin to sort of feel this vibration here. And that’s the start of the awakening of the third eye. But it’s like a gateway. It’s like a portal into the inner realm, to a more — to an actual experience of spiritual realms. But first of all, very mundanely in a way, an experience of your own subtle energy, your chakras, your etheric body, as we call it. Your energy centers, particularly your central channel, which goes down into the earth and up through the top of the head and out through the top. And the third eye takes you into that. It’s interesting, you know, that now people are ready to talk about these things. When formerly not so long ago they would be thought to be new age nonsense, or the other aspect of it, they’ve been secretly hidden in esoteric traditions in the East, where, you know, only very experienced practitioners have this sort of information revealed to them. And part of our consciousness revolution, in my perception, is definitely that these have to be gifted to humanity as a whole. That it’s time for us to awaken our mystical anatomy. And it’s happening. We’re having, you know, I think a lot of the psychotic crack-ups are from experiences of Kundalini from these mystical energies, you might call them, that people don’t understand and are not ready for. I haven’t heard your interview with Dorothy Walters, darling, but this will link in definitely with what she’s been saying, I’m sure.

Rick: Yeah.

Gillian: Because you talked to her recently.

Rick: Yeah, it’ll be posted probably tomorrow. That was just last week’s interview. And she didn’t know what it was when it first started happening to her. She had this Kundalini awakening and she hadn’t a clue and she had to sort of, you know, piece it together. But for the most part for her, it has been a blissful thing. But not for everybody. I mean, there’s a section in your book where you talk about people who are institutionalized because they’ve undergone some sort of spiritual awakening or Kundalini awakening and they have no idea what it is. And so they go to a doctor who thinks they’re going crazy and gives them drugs, maybe locks them up and so on and so forth. So I think if there’s going to be a sort of a universal, general mass awakening, which there seems to be happening in the world, then as you say, there will need to be a mass dissemination of the understanding of what it entails. You know, like you’re talking about Kundalini and the chakras and the third eye and all that stuff, it’ll have to go from being esoteric knowledge to public knowledge and perhaps even eventually taught in schools or something.

Gillian: Wouldn’t that be wonderful, my word.

Rick: I think it’ll happen.

Gillian: Yes.

Rick: I mean, there are actually schools, even now, there’s one here where I live where all the kids meditate and there are very, Caverly Morgan is doing great stuff out in Portland, Oregon with kids in schools.

Gillian: Yes.

Rick: Yeah.

Gillian: We have the equivalent of her. She’s wonderful. Yes, I heard you talking to her. I looked her up. She’s doing great stuff. I have a school near me who is similarly geared to that, well, really, the story of evolutionary spirituality, really. The principal there is an evolutionary. What he did was set up a school for boys between the ages of 7 and 15 who have fallen through the cracks of mainstream education. They’re autistic, ADHD, they’ve come from dreadful drug abuse, domestic violence, et cetera. And he took them all in. And what the school does is they have meditations every day. They’re given this understanding that they’re unique, divine or unique manifestations of the divine. They honor each other. They have rituals where they honor each other and listen to each other. And the boys come and camp with me on my 40-acre property here from time to time. We have a campfire and we play games around the fire and they do meditation practices with me. I’ve been so impressed with them. They really have been moved by what they’ve been offered at this school. And one of them is leading up, one of them saying to me last year when he was washing up with me how grateful he was for the school. And had it not been for the school, he would have taken his own life. You know? And we’re seeing an epidemic of teenage suicide at the moment. And this sort of thing is not rocket science, you know, to introduce people to a deeper understanding of their own divinity, basically.

Rick: That’s great. Yeah. It’s, don’t you feel a sort of urgency? I do. To sort of do whatever you can to just kind of provide whatever you can that will be of value to people in waking up. It’s like there’s such an urgent need in the world and any little thing we can do, without being a pain in the ass, you know, being a kind of fundamentalist proselytizer, but in a gentle way, largely by example, anything we can do to help people realize that there’s so much more to life than they may have been told and that there are such beautiful alternatives to suicide or the various drugs people take to numb themselves. It’s just a shame that… I sometimes use the metaphor that everybody’s a millionaire. They’ve won the lottery, but they don’t realize it. And the lottery ticket’s in their sock drawer, and they’re just sort of begging on street corners and starving and freezing and so on. Whereas they can have such abundant life if they could just tap into what they actually already have.

Gillian: Yes, yes. And tap into that. And the thing is that it totally transforms your perception of reality. Joseph Campbell said, you know, perceived from the heart or perceived from this inner space of consciousness, the world becomes a thou rather than an it. It immediately awakens your sacred perception of reality. And I mean, Christ said, didn’t he, that the kingdom of heaven is spread upon the earth, but no one sees it. It’s exactly what we’re talking about, you know. It’s no small matter. And I think Brian Swimme talks about the religion of consumerism. Consumerism has become our current religion. It’s a strategy for masking our inner emptiness, our lack of meaning, our lack of purpose. And sadly, of course, our whole social structure now depends on it. So it’s not going to be very pleased about it being closed down. We’ve got to consume to keep the wheels of commerce going, which is absurd.

Rick: I know they always talk about progress in terms of the gross national product and how many percentages it’s increased this year and stuff like that.

Gillian: Exactly.

Rick: And you know, when it comes around Christmas time, all the stories on the news are about how much people are shopping, you know, and how much they’re buying compared to last year and so on. And they always show these mob scenes where the doors of the store open and everybody goes in and tramples each other trying to get the latest thing.

Gillian: It’s gross. It’s gross, isn’t it? So far cry from our subtle anatomy. And I was listening to the, I don’t know if she’s called the Prime Minister of Scotland the other day. Do you know her name? Nicola Sturgeon whatever. Apparently she and the Prime Minister of Iceland, who is also a woman, and the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern. Wonderful, wonderful. The three of them are talking now about a gross national product, whatever you like to call it, which incorporates health and well-being, not just economic growth. It’s interesting, those three women at the moment on the planet, Iceland, Scotland and New Zealand. Watch that space. Yes.

Rick: Well, maybe we’ll get a woman president next time around.

Gillian: Oh, wouldn’t that be great, yeah.

Rick: One that really embodies the principle of what it ideally is to be a woman, not just a sort of a Margaret Thatcher type, but someone who really brings out the deeper values of the heart and so on.

Gillian: Well, it’s very interesting really that the feminine energy has been like a reservoir, hasn’t it? An untapped reservoir of consciousness that we’re now able to draw on. If all women had become Maggie Thatchers, it would have been a bit of a shame, because basically women are taking up now spiritual practices and going to yoga and science, mainly women. Because there’s no doubt about it that our consciousness revolution requires an injection of feminine energy, that our problems have been very yang, very rising from a masculine bias. And we’re not talking then about a male or a female. We know that. We’re talking about the masculine and the feminine within each of us, the animus and the anima, as Jung called them. And that men have to become, this is the answer to domestic violence, surely, that men have to become more in touch with their feminine energy. And that has to be brought out again in our education system and in our mystical awakening.

Rick: I think it kind of relates to what we were talking about earlier in terms of the sensitivity that Sri Aurobindo showed when he didn’t want to disturb the cat, or that Muhammad showed when he didn’t want to disturb the cat. And there’s, of course, it goes far beyond cats, but there’s a sort of a delicacy or a sensitivity, which I guess you could call feminine, but which is really within everyone’s capacity to unfold. And you just end up going through life more gently, less like a bull in a china shop.

Gillian: Well, even the concept of inner exploration is a sort of feminine one, isn’t it? The masculine is so out there, five senses externalized. That’s been our masculine-dominated ego consciousness, to explore out there and deny the inner. And in coming back to the inner realm, you’re embracing more the feminine perception of reality. I mean, we speak of all the sacred psychology. They speak of our time being seeing the rise of the goddess, return of the goddess. And she is the goddess. She’s the guardian of interiority. She’s the one that will take us into our inner depths and our subtle anatomy. It’s rather nice to feel that goddess inspired.

Rick: Yeah, reminds me of Mirabai Starr just wrote a book about this stuff, which I should interview her again. You know Mirabai?

Gillian: Yeah, yes.

Rick: So what is this? You wanted to talk about the emergence of the new sense of self, which you call the snowflake self.

Gillian: Ah, yes, yes.

Rick: I’ve heard you use that term quite a bit.

Gillian: Yes, I do now. It sort of came up in an interview I was doing a few years ago, and I sort of just spontaneously started describing our new self as a snowflake self. And then I was substantially reprimanded on this because, you know, it had a very pejorative connotation, snowflake, flaky, blah, blah, blah, and it wasn’t meant like that at all. The reason it came to mind was I was trying to say that just as each snowflake is a unique, gorgeous precipitation of water, so each one of us is a unique, gorgeous precipitation or condensation of the infinite, right? That’s what we are in our new snowflake self, so different from the ego, right? And that with our awakening of our mystical anatomy, with our awakening of our consciousness to engage with the sacredness of reality and all of that that we’ve been talking about, the interactions of that, we begin to birth a whole new sense of self beyond the ego. That’s what the name of the game is about, isn’t it? It’s not just having these ideas floating around in our mind. We have to embody them in some way in a new sense of self that transcends ego. Now, I know a lot of the people you’ve interviewed have told, “Well, we still have to have an ego,” et cetera, et cetera. I don’t see it that way. I think we replace the ego with this snowflake self. It’s got different connection. It’s connected to the divine, which makes it so different from the ego, and it can perform all the functions of rationality that the ego does, except with this connection to the divine will, not my will, but thy will be done. So it makes it very different. What I try to explain to people is that at this level in our evolution, we tend to experience ourselves when we start to do our meditation practices, et cetera, as two selves. We can know when we’re in the ego. We know when we’re being reactive. We know when we’re contracting into those fear, why me, poor me, responses of the ego, compared with what we’re like when we’re more free-flowing in our snowflake self, when we feel connected, when we feel more whole, more whole. And then that helps you to sort of, “All right, when you get an ego response, whoops, no, no, that’s not real. That’s my ego.” Come back into your authentic self. Does that make sense?

Rick: It does.

Gillian: And I think people can really feel that and can cultivate the one rather than the other.

Rick: Yeah, I think the word “ego” is kind of like the word “God,” and that is that there’s so many definitions of it, so much baggage, and if you’re going to use it at all, you kind of have to start by defining it. But if we think of it as a faculty, like the sense of hearing or the sense of touch or something like that, but kind of more fundamental than those because all those sort of are emerging from it. But a faculty, rather than sort of what we are, it’s the tool that we have rather than what we are, then it kind of puts it in its proper place. I don’t know if we, you know, my sense of an ego is that there’s a sense of, just a sense of, like if you bang your thumb with a hammer over there in Australia, you feel it, I don’t. There’s some kind of localization of experience that is unique to each mind-body mechanism, and without that we wouldn’t live very long. And if someone calls your name, you turn your head and so on. But if a person gets so locked into the notion that this is the entirety of my being, then they have divorced themselves from the transcendent, from the divine, and are just sort of running roughshod over everything in the world because they’re not going with the flow. What was that quote you said earlier about the Tao?

Gillian: Flowing in the current of the eternal Tao.

Rick: You know that song, “Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream merrily, merrily, merrily.”

Gillian: Yes, yes!

Rick: Okay, so if we think of the ego as the boat, if you’re sort of like trying to go against the stream and making a big fuss and crashing into rocks, you know, just sort of blind. But if you just sort of go with the flow of the stream, but there’s a little bit of use of the oars still, you know, just sort of like, okay, just a little bit of guidance here, a little bit of discernment there, a little discrimination there. But basically the river is carrying you along. That’s kind of the way I experience or see it. You know, we still make choices, we still make decisions, we still use our judgment, you know.

Rick: Go ahead, what were you going to say?

Gillian: Well, I was going to say, you know, I mean, the ego does have negative connotations. I see the ego as being the illusory separate self, okay? And the qualities and attributes you’re talking about are also present in the snowflake self. You know, as you said, the intellect has been the power tool of separation, but it can also be the power tool of the higher self, of the snowflake self. Certainly, you know, we’re not going to discard our very well-sculptured rational mind.

Rick: Yeah, you know, Shankara wrote a book called “The Crest Jewel of Discrimination.” You ever hear of that book by Adi Shankara?

Gillian: No, no.

Rick: “Crest Jewel of Discrimination.” And what he says in the book is that, you know, discrimination or discernment between the subtlest aspects of reality is what liberates you. So, you know, there’s a very refined level of intellect which is used to do that. And so it’s not like, and that’s just one of the faculties, but it’s not the enemy. It’s a tool. It’s an aid.

Gillian: Well, I would say those more refined levels of discernment are exactly what comes up in the snowflake self. You become more discerning, you know, in a way that the ego consciousness isn’t. Most definitely, that’s one of the ways you can distinguish. I’ve had a screen coming up on my screen, Rick, I don’t know. It says something about video settings and camera. Is it meaningful?

Rick: Everything’s fine. Don’t worry. It looks good on this end.

Gillian: It’s gone now.

Rick: Okay. It looks good on this end.

Gillian: I couldn’t see your face because it was blocking your face, and I like to see your face.

Rick: Oh, you’re not missing anything.

Gillian: So, yes. So, you can miss many differences between what I’m calling the ego, and it is a semantic thing in the end, but, you know, the illusory sense of self as opposed to the connected. Connected is a lovely word. The disconnected as opposed to the connected self, right? The connected to the divine. Be it very tentatively, and that’s why I also like the word snowflake self because it’s fragile, very fragile. At this stage in our evolution, it very easily freezes back, one might say, into ego. We can begin to see ourselves doing that. One of the great things about meditation practice is it gives you a witness consciousness where you become aware of where you’re coming from and more aware of what you’re doing. So, meditation is a big key to this transition, of course, to snowflake self. So, yes, a lot of the differences are more compassionate, more loving, more caring, more connected to the divine and to each other. A whole new way of relating to people where you relate to their snowflake self rather than manipulate them as an ego to be, you know, controlled or manipulated in some way. It really does transform the way we relate to each other, which is so necessary in our time. We could go into Wii spaces and Patricia Albert over that. That’s all coming from this higher level of consciousness. This is a new way of connecting one to the other. But above all, I think, and also it’s a source of joy we talked about earlier, of peace and joy and that connectivity. It can participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. But above all, Rick, it loves to serve. It loves to serve, you know, and it is enormously humble. It’s begun to taste something that it knows is just a taste, that there is so much more to come if we open our hearts to it.

Rick: Another cool thing about snowflakes is they say that no two snowflakes are alike. Each one is unique.

Gillian: Exactly.

Rick: So, it’s kind of what we were saying earlier about drabness and sameness and so on. Yeah. So, this whole sort of global awakening, if it happens, is not going to make us all the same. It will each be a unique snowflake.

Gillian: Exactly. That’s why I like the term snowflake again, you know, because each of those crystals is unique, and it’s to bring that message to people of their uniqueness, their beauty as precipitations of the divine. Yeah, yeah. So, because it’s so much more creative. That’s how the creativity is a lovely word, too, isn’t it? That our current paradigm tends to suffocate creativity unless it’s in the interests of science and technology. You know, we’re all mystics. We’re all artists. We’re all poets at heart. And all that has become so specialized, you know, unless you’re a professional artist or a professional songwriter. It’s not sort of recognized. Well, that’s part of our, I think, our emerging snowflake consciousness, to find the artist within ourself, to find our creativity. I love Matthew Fox’s holy trinity of science, art, and mysticism.

Rick: Maharishi used to give this lecture in which he said that routine work kills the genius in people, and that routine work is kind of necessary to accomplish things. You can’t just sort of reinvent the assembly line every day if you’re making cars or something, but he said that sort of the routine, repetitive things that we have to do in life kills the genius in people. And he said that the antidote to that is recourse to the transcendent, because it sort of enables you to sort of have a level of freedom and liberation and replenishment with the vast energy and intelligence and creativity which reside there, which whether or not you have to keep doing the same thing on a relative level grants you fulfillment and reawakens your inner genius.

Gillian: So, yes, creative genius. Yes. Yes. You know, spontaneity is a lovely word, too. There’s no flake of self. There’s a spontaneity comes in which is very liberating, because you’re feeling that you can be yourself. You’re not guarded about what other people will think or say or so on, and that’s extremely, extremely liberating.

Rick: It is.

Gillian: That brings in joy, spontaneity and creativity.

Rick: It might seem that if everyone were that way, we’d have sort of anarchy or chaos or something, but no, because if it’s really based in a deep grounding in the transcendent, then that harmonizes all differences. So, the differences can become more diverse and yet at the same time more harmoniously intermeshed or coordinated.

Gillian: Well, yes, spontaneity that we’re talking about isn’t chaotic at all, because it’s action arising from our connection with the divine, right? So, that’s where we’re bringing in now sacred activism, where you really, you say that the rational mind is a tool, but probably we’ll reach a stage where we don’t even need the rational mind. We just know what to do, because we’re being guided from this connection to our inner light, if you like to call it that, an authentic connection with it, you know, where we freed ourselves of our shadow stuff and the things that come up and distort it and bring the ego back in. But if we’re talking about a pure connection with the divine, there is a font of knowledge, I see it above the head, the light above the head, which informs us as to what we should be doing, you know? Just call it basic intuition. I have a lovely story to tell you in that regard, actually. I call it my lemon grove story. Can I share my lemon grove story?

Rick: Yes, please.

Gillian: In the ’90s, my last son had left home to go to university, and I was poised to sell my house, and I had in mind to find some land and perhaps start a meditation center or, you know, spiritualist retreats or something of that kind. Didn’t know where it was going to be. And I was doing the third eye meditation work at the time with Samuel, and I had this vision, very clear vision in my third eye of this gorgeous creature in a red sari with long, dark hair. And she had a conversation with me, and what I vividly remember when I came back to ordinary mental consciousness was that I was to find a lemon grove. Fine, okay. So when I was looking for land around the place where we lived, I was asking, “Are there any lemons? Lemon grove.” My son sort of had finally gone bonkers, you know, had seen some Sheila in a dream telling me to find lemons, and I was going around looking for lemons. But anyhow, I didn’t find land that I could afford, let alone any lemons on it. So I abandoned that project, and Samuel told me to — I was free to go to the desert and meditate. So I sold my house, packed up the car with my two dogs, a large quantity of dog biscuits and rice for myself, and headed off to the Australian outback, which I’d never been to before, and it is absolutely glorious. We’re very blessed here in having a pristine environment almost on our doorstep, the red desert and the bright blue skies and the startling night skies. And I took my swag in my little tent and meditated and journaled during the day in my tent and then slept in the open at night in my swag under the stars. It was just gorgeous, a sense of freedom, great liberating freedom. And then after a month, I spent a month out there, I came back, and I stayed with my eldest son, who was studying at a university in northern New South Wales with his girlfriend. And I stayed with them for a month, and that was lovely. It felt right to spend time with them. And I suggested to them that I buy a house just while they — for them to live in, because I had the money from the sale of my house, and that they could live there, and then at the end of their university life, we could sell it, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. And I was determined to go back to the outback. I was so elated by that, I wanted to set off again with total freedom, with my dogs and dog biscuits and things. Anyway, my old kings would hold them. Anyway, what happened was we found this land outside an alternative community called Nimbin, which I’d never, ever dreamt of living near, underneath some sacred Nimbin rocks, an ancient aboriginal initiation site, very powerful energy. The land was 40 acres, entirely covered with weeds and lantana and stuff, had been neglected for years, went up in a series of plateaus. The children, the kids thought it was great. There was a shack at the bottom that they said they could restore, put power on, have a cow, dog, commute to uni, all great. I said, “Fine, okay, better you than me. I want to go back to the outback.” So I bought the land. Two or three weeks later, the relationship had broken up. The girlfriend went one way, my son went the other, and I was left with the land and the lantana and the weeds and the shack, wondering what on earth had hit me. So immediately I got help to start clearing the land. Didn’t have much money to do it, put the power on, et cetera. My next door farmer neighbor helped me with a tractor to clear, and we worked our way up. He built me a house halfway up, and then when we got to the top of the land, cleared there, what did we find? Lemon trees everywhere, wild lemon trees. No one else in the vicinity had had them at all. And so up near the lemon trees I’ve now built a wee temple, and it’s got a gorgeous view over the Nimmin Valley. And I realized when I put that up that right next to it can only be described as a lemon grove. There are three huge wild lemon trees. So I’ve placed a statue of Kwan Yin in the middle of the lemon grove, and I’ve planted crimson-flowering native bushes around it in honor of my crimson goddess in the ’90s who told me I was to find a lemon grove. And I sit there feeling such gratitude for having found my lemon grove. But, you know, the secret of all that is that I did flow in the current of the Tao with all of that. It felt right to sell the house. It felt right to go to the outback. It felt right to come and visit my son. It felt right to buy the land, et cetera, et cetera. And when I was able to do that, if I’d brought the rational mind in and weighed up the pros and cons, I don’t think I’d have done any of that.

Rick: Do you have any idea who this red sari lady was?

Gillian: No, I’ve never questioned that too much. Someone said it was me, my higher self or whatever, or a Hindu goddess. I wondered if it was Lakshmi, but it doesn’t quite fit the Lakshmi description. No, I really don’t know, but I don’t think it matters terribly. You know, these visions and connections with the archetypal world can be visions or they can be just feelings or senses or just light, and it’s how they impact on you that matters. It’s what they do to affect your behavior.

Rick: Yeah. I was just curious because I do think we have guides, you know, that there are subtler beings who have our welfare in mind and do what they can to nudge us this way and that. They can’t force us, but they can nudge us, give us little insights and suggestions and whatnot.

Gillian: Yes, yes. Oh, most definitely, darling. I’m sure there are beings all around us, but that’s where our discernment comes in, what you were talking about earlier, isn’t it? Because I’ve known people who have spiritual guides quite vividly, and they make the most dreadful decisions, you know, because somehow they’re not coming from the clarity of conscience that’s needed to receive them. So I think, you know, the central channel to me, going back to our mystical anatomy, is very vital in that because it does center you. Once you awaken the central channel where the Kundalini rises, et cetera, and you get your connection to above the head, that centers you in clarity and integrity. Does that make sense? Because a lot of people say, you know, when they start to awaken their mystical anatomy or their subtle energy, they start to empathize so much that they feel other people’s emotions. They feel pain, you know, they become like an amoeba. They become like a blob of energy, which can be problematic. So that’s why it’s so important to have that verticality and central channel in your spiritual practices, and your verticality in your meditation, and of course, an awakening of the heart as an integrating center in your body of energy, so that that doesn’t become problematic. Does that make sense?

Rick: Yeah, it does. I mean, I think evolution is a lifelong process, maybe a lifeslong process, and you can never kind of rest on your laurels. I mean, there’s always going to be room for more integration and balance and development and so on and so forth. And you know, a person can be meditating and doing spiritual practices for decades and still make stupid decisions and screw up their life. So you have to always … there’s a great quote from Padmasambhava that I’ve quoted many times, which I try to live by, which is that, you know, “Although my awareness is as vast as the sky, my attention to karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour.” So you know, you sort of have to … Don Juan, I mean you mentioned Don Juan in your book, Carlos Castaneda’s teacher, he talks about impeccability and how one should always attend to one’s life with a sense of impeccability, you know, being aware and careful and precise. But again, it’s paradoxical because the key to that is simultaneously to surrender to the divine will and to be in tune with the divine will. I don’t mean to say we’re just hyper-vigilant in our individual focus, but there’s just some kind of a balance between that. You know what I mean? Does that make sense to you in your experience?

Gillian: I just know that for myself, connection is the key word, and that my connection to the inner light, what we call the causal body, comes from a very diligent daily practice of meditation, which I know you do. But I would describe the sort of meditation that I do as mystic meditation because it’s approached with a spirit of devotion, of devotion to this higher consciousness, this higher energy. I think devotion is a key element here, that we really have to bring in the devotional quality to prevent us falling into narcissistic, you know, use of spiritual materialism or whatever you like to call it, or even transcendentalism, where, you know, we drift off up there and we’re not interested in the world down here anymore. We touched upon that earlier. The devotion, and you’ve mentioned that in terms of all the great gurus of the past, are incredibly devotional, devotional to the great mother or whatever. It’s such an important grounding quality. So, yes, for me, it’s that mystic meditation, which is a devotional, receptive attitude to whatever’s going to happen in my meditation. And it becomes prayerful in a way that, you know, again, pray that thy will, not mine, be done. So we come back to service again, and all those things, I think, help to help discernment, and they help integrity, and they help authenticity, and they help you to stabilize your snowflake self.

Rick: That’s good. But, you know, it’s not just about going into meditation so life is less stressful. I’m afraid that’s another narcissistic hijacking, you know, of spiritual practices. And I get a bit distressed by seeing that in terms of mindfulness meditation and yoga, but then I realize that these things can be a backdoor into what I’m talking about.

Rick: Exactly.

Gillian: People go to yoga.

Rick: Yeah, that can be a starting point.

Gillian: And that certainly happens. Yes, it can.

Rick: I mean, I used to teach TM back in the old days, back in the ’70s, and we would say, “Okay, clearer mind, more creative, better health, better behavior,” all this practical stuff that people were actually interested in. And then, you know, maybe after they’ve been meditating for three days, we say, “Oh, by the way, there’s this thing called cosmic consciousness, you know, and that’s going to be somewhere down the line.” And even after two, three days of meditation, people might be interested in that, whereas they hadn’t been a few days before because they hadn’t ever had a taste of anything in that direction.

Gillian: Well, yes, but that’s where our new story comes in, doesn’t it, Rick? Because if we have this framework of the new story of evolutionary spirituality, we’re less likely to be hijacked by these narcissistic distractions and, you know, and so on and so forth because we’re realizing we’re already understanding that there’s a big picture there that we’re meant to be serving, and it changes the motivation for our spiritual practices or helps to do so, wouldn’t you say?

Rick: Yeah.

Gillian: That’s, to me, why, you know, it must have the story, the framework, and then how you’re inspired to do your spiritual practices with a different motivation.

Rick: Yeah, your motivation evolves over time, or it may. It can.

Gillian: Yes, it does. Yes, it can.

Rick: I mean, you can just start out in a yoga class because you want to have a better-looking body or something, but a few years down the line and you’re all interested in higher consciousness, and it’s just one thing led to the next.

Gillian: Yes, yes, a lot of interest in higher consciousness can still be hijacked by the ego, by this narcissistic enterprise of my enlightenment, and so on. So that’s, again, why our story is so useful because it helps to take us out of that motivation. So the story, I think, is critical, this story of, you know, the evolving universe and where we are at this point in our journey on planet Earth and what we’re meant to be doing in the service of the greater good and bringing more goodness, truth, and beauty into our personal lives and into the world.

Rick: Yeah, I very much agree. I mean, I’ve always emphasized, and had it emphasized to me, that both knowledge and experience are critical components of the spiritual path, and it’s like the two legs that we walk on, one without the other, and we just can’t progress that smoothly. It can get into all kinds of cul-de-sacs and problems if you’re just dwelling on knowledge without experience or vice versa.

Gillian: Well, just elaborate on what you mean by knowledge and experience. What sort of knowledge and what sort of experience would be my question there? We have to have both.

Rick: Yeah, well, the mystical kind of experience that we’ve been talking about, the kind of things that you have when you meditate regularly, and then knowledge, and you’re talking about, you know, we’ve been talking about panentheism and the great, and the new story, and all that stuff, just, and there’s all kinds of knowledge. I mean, just the stuff you were saying about the subtle body, for instance, and the third eye, I mean, there’s so much one can learn that is pertinent to what one ends up experiencing.

Gillian: Yes.

Rick: And as we go along, if we culture both, continue culturing both along the way, they kind of buttress one another, reinforce or safeguard one another.

Gillian: That’s a very nice point, actually, Rick, because it’s something I’d like to say about the mystical anatomy, that knowledge of that, because it’s not that we’re inventing it, we’re awakening it with our practices in mystical meditation. And in awakening that structure of consciousness, in awakening the understanding, the chakras, and the subtle energies, and the channels, and the column above, and so on, and the causal body, we are helping to stabilize high levels of consciousness. They need something to land on. That’s my understanding anyway. And so often in the past, and certainly in our Western experience, where we haven’t had that sort of knowledge, as you’re calling it, we just have transient mystical experiences. They’re here today and they’re gone tomorrow, you know, and we’re just back in the ego. So it’s so important to have this mapping of consciousness and this mystical understanding, this knowledge of our mystical anatomy and our story to help stabilize, because stabilize is a very important word at the moment. If we’re going to shift into the next level of evolution, it’s all about stabilizing these high levels of consciousness rather than just intuiting them or reading about them. In embodying them, we have to have more knowledge and understanding, which you talked about earlier, of what these energies are and the structures of consciousness on which they can land. That’s absolutely right.

Rick: Yeah, and you also used the word embodiment, which goes along with stabilize, and another word is integrate. I mean, all these things, you know, you can have, like for instance, take psychedelics. People can have a really blowout experience on psychedelics, but then they come down and it’s lost and it’s an amazing memory, and it may change them in a profound way, but it certainly hasn’t been stabilized or integrated, and you wouldn’t want to just keep doing psychedelics every few days and hope to eventually stabilize them. You have to eventually go into a more natural way of going about it, but that’s a procedure that just continues and continues and continues as you go along. There’s just step after step of, you know, dipping into deep experience, integrating, stabilizing, and embodying it, dipping in, integrating it, and so on, and it just gets more and more solid, more and more full.

Gillian: Yes, and of course in the early stages, we’re talking about whether it’s psychedelics or whatever we’re using to awaken our consciousness, and I’m not opposed to psychedelic therapy these days, again, under very authentic guidance, and I think there’s a lot of shoddy stuff going around in that area, you know, upstart shamanisms charging a lot of money for an ayahuasca experience, which you might as well have in your living room in terms of what they can offer. Anyway, that we have to — that a teacher can be valuable in these early stages. You know, I had Samuel to guide me through my experiences in the early stages of subtle energy, that to find a teacher that resonates with, and I think as you’ve spoken of, you can evolve from one teacher to another, or you can change around depending where you’re at, but that’s also the knowledge dimension is to have someone guiding you who’s had these experiences and stabilized stuff that you’re just trying to bring into being or to awaken. But on the other hand, I think we can become too reliant on teachers and gurus. I currently don’t feel the need to have a particular guru. Andrew Harvey has spoken of us moving into the age of universal mysticism, which is rather beautiful, the age of universal mysticism, where we’re for the first time ever able to draw on techniques and knowledge from so many different mystical traditions and, you know, practice whatever works for one at this particular point in time. Again, it comes down to if your attitude is pure, if your receptivity is there with an attitude of devotion and service, then I don’t think you can go far wrong with these practices. It’s only when you come into them with perhaps a grasping or controlling attitude of mind, you know, you might get into trouble. I don’t know around that, but anyway, it is a help to have a guide. But on the other hand, the time has come for us to be our own, as you said earlier, our own laboratory for these sorts of things. And I love that quote from David Abraham, David, not Abraham, David Abram, but it’s really, his writing is wonderful. I don’t know if you’ve read his books, “The Spell of the Sensuous” and “Becoming Animal” and so on, where he really writes beautifully about the need to correct, connect, reconnect with the sacredness of the natural world. And he says, coming out of that, “Carnally immersed as we are, carnally immersed as we are in a breathing planet, we each have our own intimate access to the mystery.” Isn’t that beautiful? Yeah. “Carnally immersed as we are in a breathing planet, we all have our own intimate access to the mystery.” In other words, we can all feel within our marrow bone the sacred and the connection to the divine and reality and the divine within ourselves.

Rick: That’s great. So, the dogs are probably saying, “All right, wrap it up, Mom.” But let’s have this, there was something in your book from Christopher Fry that you wanted to talk about. Do you want to read that and comment on it?

Gillian: Yes, I’d love to, Rick. This has become my sort of theme song for telling the story, you know, for sharing our new story. And I first came across it actually with Jean Houston many, many years ago. She, you know, Jean Houston, a brilliant way, was, you know, reciting it, and moved me greatly and continues to move me. And it’s a verse from the English author Christopher Fry, written in about the mid-20th century, but still terribly relevant to this transition time that we’re moving through now, this shift in consciousness. And he wrote, “I’m going to close my eyes while I bring it forth, and I invite listeners to close their eyes too. Cold and dark we may be, but this is no winter now. The frozen misery of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move. The thunder is the thunder of the flows, the thaw, the flood, the upstart spring.” So just unpacking that, I think it’s wonderful imagery for the meltdown of the patriarchy, and also the idea of the frozen misery of centuries. It’s like the thawing out, you know, melting or thawing the spell of solidity. We didn’t talk about that. We’re so solid in our perception of things. We know that’s not real anymore. The frozen misery of centuries. He goes on, “Thank God our time is now, when wrong comes up to meet us everywhere, never to leave us till we take the largest stride of soul folk ever took.” Now, what a beautiful way of describing this transition from ego to essence, or ego to snowflake, self, personal to transpersonal, however you want to call it, the largest stride of soul. Affairs are now soul-sized. The enterprise is exploration into God. What a wonderful way of describing the need for our inner exploration, exploration into God. Where are you making for? It takes so many thousand years to wake. In other words, it’s taken thousands of years for human consciousness to reach a point where it is ripe to embody the transcendent, where it is ripe to bring forth the evolutionary impulse into the world consciously. Where are you making for? It takes so many thousand years to wake, but will you wake for pity’s sake?

Rick: Good stuff. It’s great. I was reading along as you did it, and it was almost perfect. That’s impressive.

Gillian: Well, I know it well by now, darling. Yes, it’s my theme song.

Rick: It’s great.

Gillian: And may the goddess be with us and help us to find better ways of being human. I think Terry Pat Lentz talks with that, find better ways of being human. I like it. Yeah, yeah.

Rick: And make hay while the sun shines, because as we said earlier, this is an excellent time to make rapid spiritual progress.

Gillian: Well, we didn’t really speak about sacred activism, did we? Because, you know, that’s a critical part of the story too, that when we begin to make our connection with the divine, we’re called forth to bring our unique self out in a spirit of sacred activism, very different from just social activism. You know, Andrew speaks of a whole new force coming in when we’re able to combine our thirst for justice and so on, you know, our social activism with this connection with the divine. It empowers it, brings a new energy to it, and it’s even more powerful if we join up with others who are equally in their snowflake selves or in their sacred activism. You know, Christ said, “When two or more are gathered in my name, I will be with you.” And that really comes into embodiment with sacred activism. And that’s what we need. We need help from above. We really do need help from above. And we do that through, first of all, evolving our own consciousness. As Teilhard de Chardin, we haven’t mentioned Teilhard de Chardin. We have to bring it to you. Possibly without a quote from Teilhard de Chardin, there’s a lovely one of his about this need to engage with the sacredness of earth and see ourselves as an emanation of an evolutionary story where he says, “Children of earth, bathe steep in the ocean of matter. Bathe in its fiery waters, for it is that ocean that cradled you in your pre-conscious existence, and it is that ocean that will raise you up to God.” Isn’t that beautiful? Beautiful, yeah. That’s the universe. Yes, yes.

Rick: Wow.

Gillian: And he also said that the time has come when we’re not just being called to alleviate suffering. We’re being called to do everything we possibly can to raise the power of love upwards to the next level of human evolution. That’s beautiful, too. It’s all about the power of love.

Rick: That’s great. There’s a categorical page on under past interviews, and under there there’s a sacred activism category, which includes Andrew Cohen and Charles Eisenstein, no, Andrew Harvey and Charles Eisenstein and various others. So if people want to hear more talk specifically about sacred activism, check out that. So that’s great, Gillian, and I’ve really enjoyed this. You’re the kind of person I would enjoy driving across the country with, or maybe Australia or whatever, just so we could talk for hours and hours and hours and hours about.

Gillian: I know. I’m so sad. It’s really sad that you live on the opposite side of the planet, but isn’t it amazing that this is part of our consciousness revolution? There you are on the opposite side of the planet with this amazing technology, with a global audience talking about the consciousness revolution. It’s happening.

Rick: Yeah. I mean, the fact that we’re able to do this is part of the awakening, I think. The technology has come up to enable this dissemination of knowledge to occur.

Gillian: Exactly, what Teilhard called the noosphere. The noosphere, he didn’t know about the Internet, but it’s definitely a precursor of his vision of the noosphere. Yeah.

Rick: Yeah. Great. Well.

Gillian: Positive note to end on, Rick, positive note to end on.

Rick: What we just said?

Gillian: Yes, it is.

Rick: Yes, yes. Yeah, we started out kind of dark, but ending on a positive note. So thanks, Gillian, and thanks to those who have been listening or watching. This is, as you probably know, an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. If you would like to get a little bit more involved, you could subscribe to the YouTube channel, and YouTube will notify you whenever there’s a new interview posted. I think it even notifies you when I schedule one of these live ones, you get some kind of notification. Also, on, there’s a place to sign up to be notified by email each time a new one is posted. And there’s an audio podcast. You mentioned, Gillian, that you like to listen to the audios. A lot of people do that while they’re driving or working or whatever. So feel free to subscribe to that on iTunes or Stitcher or whatever works for you. So, thanks for listening or watching. Next week I’m going to be talking about a little bit of a new topic, not new to many people, but new to this show, the spiritual implications of extraterrestrials with a guy named Ray Hernandez who worked closely with Edgar Mitchell, the Apollo astronaut, after having had some remarkable personal experiences. And the whole topic intrigues me. We’ll see what he has to say. I think it’s part of the whole picture, but in ways that I don’t know if anyone fully understands, but we’ll explore it next week. So, thanks for listening or watching. And thank you, Gillian.

Gillian: Thank you, Rick, so much for all the wonderful work you’re doing for the Consciousness Revolution. You really are. It’s amazing. I don’t know how you do it, actually. Talking to so many people and reading so many books.

Rick: I love it. What more would I rather be doing?

Gillian: Yeah, true.

Rick: Yeah, it’s great fun. I feel like a kid in a candy shop each week is like a whole new person and package of interesting information to explore. And by the way, while I’m at it, I praised it in the beginning, but I highly recommend, if people have liked this conversation, check out this book. It’s really interesting. It’s a great wealth of beautiful points and beautiful quotes and so on. Interesting book. Thank you.

Gillian: Well, I must say, Rick, given that you must have read more books on spirituality than practically anyone else on the planet, given what you do, I’m enormously flattered that you’ve enjoyed my book. I really am. It’s a great compliment.

Rick: Oh, I really have. I really do. As I said in the beginning, if I could write a book, I would want to. If I end up ever writing one, it will contain a lot of the kinds of points that are in yours. It’s really important information.

Gillian: Perhaps I can help you with that.

Rick: Great.

Gillian: I encourage you to write it.

Rick: You can get on my case. All right. So thank you all, and we’ll see you next week.