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 410 of them by now, and if this is new to you and you’d like to watch previous ones, go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu where you’ll see all the previous ones organized in several different ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it, there’s a donate button on every page of the site. Before we get started, just a quick announcement or two. One is that if you’re watching this on YouTube and you haven’t subscribed to this channel and you feel inclined to do so, please hit the subscribe button because when you get more subscribers, YouTube works with you more and helps you do various things. So I’d like to sort of increase the number of subscribers if possible. Another thing is that quite some time ago we shut down comments on YouTube because they were really kind of snarky, but we have a Facebook community group now where people can comment in a much more civil and controlled way. There will be a link beneath this and every video in the description area that you can click on to go to that Facebook group. So my guest today is Gloriji. Her name is really Gloria Byram-Agrelius, but she goes by the nickname Gloriji. And her bio here is really the story that she’s going to tell during this interview, so I don’t think I will read the bio. I think I’ll just invite Gloriji. to start telling it. And Gloriji. came highly recommended by a couple of good friends of mine, and I’ve been seeing her on Facebook for a while. She has a very interesting background which I think can be an inspiration to a lot of people, so I’m really happy to have her on the show. Happy to have you, Gloriji.
Gloriji: Thank you, Rick. It’s great to be here.
Rick: You’re welcome. So, give us all the gory details.
Gloriji: Oh, okay. Gory to glory kind of details, I would say.
Rick: That’s kind of a nice synopsis right there.
Gloriji: Well, I think all of us have a little of all of that within us, and so I’m sure so many people can relate. I grew up in a rock and roll kind of house. My parents were into swing music, and my brothers started playing rock and roll music early on. I just, we grew up doing the twist, and there were parties in the basement. So that kind of party atmosphere is something I literally have known all of my life. Like so many other little boys and girls, there was a time when I was being molested by a neighbor. He was actually a friend of my father’s. So that set up some pretty huge insecurities. Back in the early 60s, this wasn’t a common thing, or at least people didn’t talk about it openly. The best advice I got was to try to forget it.
Rick: I think it was probably just as common, but as you say, people didn’t talk about it so much.
Gloriji: So that went on for a couple of years, and my whole demeanor, everything about me as a little tomboy changed to a subdued, frightened, kind of little girl, insecure. At one point I was able to find the courage after two years of that to tell my parents. The best advice I got was to try to forget it.
Rick: Did they believe you?
Gloriji: . Yes, we went to court and he ended up serving three months in jail. Turned out he was molesting several children. So by my telling a lot of other people, I think they were able to end that nightmare. We ultimately moved to Alabama, and I think a large part of that, my parents are from here originally. I was born in South Bend, Indiana. This is where all of this took place. When I came to Alabama and I didn’t have friends and all of that, it wasn’t long until I started getting high. So by the time I was 12 years old, I was smoking pot. By the time I was 14 years old, I was tripping. Then by the time I was 17, I found myself using a needle, I can count on two hands, the amount of times I did that. But I was really seeing that things weren’t going to turn out well for me.
Gloriji: Morphine, Dilaudid, and I can’t remember what else. Something weird. So I was taking drugs early on and was just trying to cope with the deep insecurities that were there. Then my father had on several nightclubs in town, and I fell into that business and would ultimately get married and have children and own a blues biker bar. That was the goal, was to have my own bar, and it turned out to be a huge nightclub. And the bikers hung out there and respected the space, they respected me.
Rick: You told me that it actually had a Beatles theme, you called it “The Cavern.” I was trying to put together “Bikers with Beatles,” I don’t know if that was really their genre. Yeah, yeah, well they loved the Beatles, but we did have a blues band that played on the weekends. But the overall theme was based around the name “Cavern,” where that was the first place the Beatles played in Liverpool.
Rick: Okay, so you owned this bar for 25 years, or you were a bartender for 25 years, I guess, in this bar.
Gloriji: I owned the bar only for two years. I had bartended around town for more than two decades prior to that.
Rick: And were you still doing drugs all this time, or what?
Gloriji: You know, it’s really interesting because in my late teens, I sought help when I realized that I was on a pretty heavy road with the needle. I put myself through a drug rehab program in New York, in Garrison, New York, through the Walter Hoving Home. It was a home for women with drug and alcohol abuse. I did the program for a year. I even went back up and taught and counseled some after that. But then I kind of got back in with all my old friends that I loved and missed them, you know, and kind of got back in this and stuff, but not anything as heavy as that ever again. well, as far as using a needle, I should say. then during this, like when I became pregnant with my children, I didn’t use anything. I went to the healthy diet and the walking. So I had like these two sides of me happening, you know. I have to tell you that this is not uncommon. It’s widespread that the PTA moms are doing what they can to cope at night, you know, that kind of thing. But so, yeah, I think I’ll just let you ask me from there. I’m not sure where you want to go with it.
Rick: Well, neither am I, but here we go.
Rick: So after the pregnancies, did you get back into drugs?
Gloriji: Well, I was very responsible, more responsible in that way. I did all my responsibilities, but then after I would get off work from bartending, I would go out and get pretty wasted, maybe do some coke or something while drinking. then get up and do the responsible thing and then do it again, for many years.
Rick: Obviously we could belabor all the details of that, but it may not be necessary. I mean, people get the picture. But so what finally snapped you out of it?
Gloriji: Well, while I had the blues biker bar in 1999, my brother died of an overdose, a morphine overdose. the people he was with stripped his body of all of his identification and clothing, and they dumped his naked body in an alley. So he was a John Doe in the morgue for one month to the day of finding out who he was. They were able to trace his fingerprints and find that he had been arrested in Albuquerque. Then they traced his phone call to Atlanta to his best friend. So now they had a phone number and a name, and they made that connection. That friend called us and told us that he had died that way. It was so tragic and horrible for us to hear how he went. Then the following day, after hearing of his death, my mother passed of a massive heart attack and a broken heart, I believe. My sister was my business partner in the bar, Padena, and it was more than she could handle either. She left the business and I was trying to hold it all together myself in the midst of that grief, doing a lot of cocaine, a lot of heavy drinking. I honored the lease until it was up. I closed the bar. I didn’t even try to sell it. I walked away and I went home and I fell apart, and that’s literally what happened.
Rick: What do you mean, fell apart?
Gloriji: I began to feel strange, like I had extreme panic and the doctor said it was panic attacks, extreme anxiety and this energy rushing through my body. The depression was incredible. I was on heavy doses of Zoloft at this time. I was no longer doing other drugs. I was still trying to drink and take these antidepressants or whatever those are called. I did that for a couple of years. It was like that. I was just coping and trying to party a little bit at night at home and all of that. But then one day, a couple of years into this, I realized that my son was in some very serious drugs and the fear that the very thing could happen to him, that happened to my brother, was more than I could take. I literally dropped to my knees and cried out for help. I didn’t know who I was crying to. I didn’t know what I was talking to, but it just came spontaneously. It didn’t even occur to me to ask. It just came out as a scream for help. In that, all this anxiety and all of this fear began to subside as I saw light, brilliant light in the room. There was something in me that recognized that light and the feeling that everything is okay, just completely all is well, was here. In the very middle of this terror, there was this peace, because just before that, when I cried out, I was feeling like I was dropping through a deep, dark void, rapidly dropping without anything to hold on to. I couldn’t grab on to anything. There was just this energy of terror there. Then for that light to break through, and this calm and this peace, and it felt loving like I was love being held by itself. That’s the closest I can come to describing that love, because it’s not like anything I’ve ever known. I just vowed to that light that I would dedicate the rest of my life to understanding what this is. So the journey really began from there.
Rick: I find that kind of story very moving, because to me it evokes a love of God or a wave of devotion to God, because as I’ve often said in this show, and many others have said, the universe is not dumb, it’s not just sort of little billiard balls running into each other, it’s this ocean of intelligence. There’s a compassion and an evolutionary impulse in that intelligence that really fits all the religious metaphors of God wanting to uplift people and bless people and save people and all that stuff. And so, I’ve heard so many stories of that nature, although yours is one of the more dramatic, where people really sincerely, perhaps literally on their knees, cry out for help. There’s a response.
Gloriji: Yeah, immediate response. It felt like I had come to the very end of what I knew to be myself, and what was there was that. It’s still here, it’s not like that’s gone anywhere. That is very much the living reality that I live from, and there is a deep sense of just pure gratefulness, just the deepest gratitude. Just as you were speaking about the intelligence, this wisdom doesn’t need for you to be a certain way for it to express itself. As you’re living in this sort of dichotomy, there’s a deep sense of just wanting to give yourself all to that. For me, that pretty much defines the next decade following that awakening, because consciousness very naturally wanted to go into itself and bring light to everything within me. It didn’t want to spiritually bypass, as a matter of fact, that I tried that, and it’s still sitting there waiting on you. So for me, awakening looks like that. It’s the awakening, and then it is the opportunity to deepen and embody in that.
Rick: Nice. You know, there have been a number of famous figures throughout history who were sort of bad boys, party animals, you know. St. Francis and St. Paul and Valmiki, who wrote the Ramayana, he was a murderer and highway robber, whose life did a turnaround. It brings up an interesting question, which is, do you feel that the severity of the difficulties and challenges that you went through resulted in a deeper or more embodied awakening than you might otherwise have had, had you had a smooth and easy life? In other words, do you feel like these difficulties resulted in a greater capacity for empathy and ability to relate to others who have difficult lives than you would otherwise have had?
Gloriji: I think that it makes it easier for them to relate to me because they can sense it. You can sense in the person. I mean, people that don’t even know this story are able to open up and it’s beautiful to witness that because we are very intelligent and sensitive beings and we can just sense when there’s no judgment, when there’s a heart open compassion that’s flowing, not as a dictate from I need to be compassionate, but a natural consequence of having walked that walk.
Rick: If we go back to the idea of God being compassionate, do you sort of feel like maybe God allows us to go through these things so that we in turn can be more empathetic with others who might be going through them?
Gloriji: The God that we are, the intelligence we are, the universe we are, however people relate to that, whatever their understanding is, I’m perfectly comfortable with any of those terminologies. For me, I feel that at some, we’re like all these levels and at the highest level of ourselves, we wanted this or it wouldn’t be here. It’s a deep knowing that comes without it being a logical understanding for me because I feel very comfortable in saying that it’s so much of it predetermined and that simultaneously it is with choice also, so it’s not one or the other. In other words, it feels like there’s a blueprint or an outline of sorts and that we are somehow actively filling in some of those blanks, if that makes sense.
Rick: It kind of does. While we’re on this theme I want to ask a related question and we’ll dwell on this more. This was posted by a fellow named Peter on that BatGap community group that I mentioned and I’ve summarized his question. He said, “Why does life have to be so cruel, so full of pain? How do I reconcile that with spiritual evolution being the ultimate purpose of the universe? Pain is a necessary goad to enlightenment, seems a primitive teaching method. Good schools have long ago abolished hitting their pupils.”
Gloriji: Peter, I would say that your question is beautiful and it’s a deep inquiry and I think that we really kind of betray ourselves when we seek those answers from someone else, that if that question can become a living pondering for you. I’m all about empowering people from within. I love to see people empowered from within. I think teachers are really great. I was really impressed with Adyashanti when he was talking about his teacher and he would ask her questions all the time and she would always say, “Well, what do you think? What do you feel?” That’s a great teacher, you know, and so I think a great teaching or a great support is to support you in trusting yourself with that question because I can tell you that suffering now, I don’t feel like I really, you know, there are moments where something can feel like suffering is here, but it’s accompanied by a deeper knowing and a deeper presence that has no issue with that, has no problem with it, so it’s not like you fall into suffering. Perhaps we wouldn’t know that if we weren’t in this sort of space of opposites where we get to toss about in those opposites until we find that center of home where they land and rest comfortably. That’s how I feel. Paradox rests comfortably in this open heart and I would love that for everyone.
Rick: Beautifully put. So after you had this epiphany on your knees, the light came, did your life do a really quick 180 turnaround or did it really take you a while to work things out and have the outer expressions of your life rearrange themselves?
Gloriji: Well, it was both. Again, it was all of a sudden I had this thirst that had never been there before, this thirst for truth, thirst to understand what I was experiencing, the light didn’t stay, you know, that went, but the experience remained and I felt differently. I still had a sense of that presence that recognized that light and my mind even came back in and said, “What the hell knew that? What recognized that?” So that was a kind of inquiry and I was thirsty to understand and at the same time I was still trying to drink and throw darts at night and hang out and barbecue and all that stuff and what would happen is I would get like really drunk, which didn’t take much anymore at that point, and then I’d find myself wanting to read the books that I got from the library. I’ll back up a little bit because what initially happened prior to the screaming, I had not left my home for several months, the panic and the energy was just too much and I was overwhelmed by sound and light. I didn’t know anything about Kundalini energy at the time.
Rick: It’s Kundalini, but I think it’s also a symptom of cocaine use. I interviewed Dan Harris of ABC News a while back and he had been doing cocaine and stuff and he had a panic attack meltdown on air during the morning news and he explained that panic attacks are symptomatic of cocaine.
Gloriji: But I was no longer taking or using cocaine at this period of time. I think you’re probably right, but it had been a couple of years by this time, so I was only drinking, still trying to drink.
Rick: So you think your Kundalini was kind of awakening.
Gloriji: Well, I think that explains very much what we call panic attacks. It was like energy trying to pound its way through my body and two nights before I actually broke down and cried out, there had been two explosions in my head and I just started studying Kundalini a little bit and was seeing some of the same symptoms, whether it is or whether it doesn’t really matter to me, but it kind of helped to make sense of what that was. But I can’t remember now where we were.
Rick: Well, you were talking about … I was asking you about whether your life did a quick 180 turnaround or if it took a while. You said you were still drinking and throwing darts and stuff, but then you go home and try to read your books.
Gloriji: Yeah, so I was able to finally go to the library and just check out as many books as I could on anything that wasn’t Christian because I knew a little bit about that, but I wanted to understand Eastern philosophies and things. And I brought home all these books and I would try to read them and I didn’t understand them. But what would happen was when I would be pretty wasted on the alcohol, I would start wanting to read those books and I can remember even putting one hand over an eye and holding the book. I didn’t even understand it sober, I don’t know what made me think I could get it when I was drunk, but I was trying to because I was so thirsty for it, you know. I got frustrated with the whole thing, so I just said, “That’s it, I’m not drinking me anymore, I’m just going to read all the time.” So I began to read so much. Prior to that I might have read one book a year and that’s not an exaggeration. And all of a sudden I was devouring books left and right to the point that my eyes were killing me and I’d have to put a wet towel over my eye and put a VHS tape and a VCR of some spiritual teacher speaking so I could just listen because I needed it that badly. I was so thirsty for it. I can’t tell you that I understood very much of what I heard or read, but it felt so good to hear it, you know, just great to hear it. I began to venture outside and I noticed how alive the world was and I was noticing butterflies and birds and the colors of flowers and trees and so much that I just thought, “Oh my God, I’m in a magical kingdom and I’ve never noticed this really.” It was just an amazing thing. People were sensing a difference in me and my neighbor would come over and ask advice and she even brought a friend over that was very sick and she said, “Can you heal her?” I just thought, “I can’t heal her. What are you talking about?” You know, I’m just now learning about essential oils. I don’t know that. And I was dabbling in Ayurveda and I was interested in that and I suggested to her that she go to the doctor and find out what’s wrong and then perhaps we can at least know what to pray for or meditate on or whatever. She did that and she would ultimately find out that she had cancer. She wanted to be around me. She wanted to be…something in me, the energy. I was peaceful to her and one night I was still, this is during the time I was still drinking and trying to understand spirituality, she was sitting there with me and she wasn’t drinking, she was just having water, but I was blind, running drunk. I turned to her and I said, “Well, you know, you are healed.” I was horrified that I did that and that’s really the real point of not drinking anymore. I woke up with such remorse and such shame. What was interesting about that …
Rick: Because you felt that you had been insincere or hypocritical or you were just blurting something out that you had no …
Gloriji: I didn’t …
Rick: … you had no authority to say?
Gloriji: I don’t even know where the thought came from. I didn’t even think. Those words just came out of my mouth and that’s kind of where I’m headed with this because when she went back to the doctor, her cancer was … the tumor was shrinking. So this is something that can happen in that awakening energy and the wisdom in her somehow recognized that.
Rick: Okay, but why were you so horrified that you said that? Why did that really strike you?
Gloriji: Because I was drunk and I didn’t mean to say it. The words just came out of me and when I looked at her and said that, she absolutely believed me. It didn’t matter that I was drunk. She absolutely knew in herself that it was true.
Rick: But you were horrified because you felt like a phony or what?
Gloriji: Oh, because I was horrified that I would say that and I didn’t know she was healed. I mean, it was just horrifying to me that I could do that. I felt so irresponsible.
Rick: Yeah, like you’re just shooting in the dark.
Gloriji: Yeah, exactly.
Gloriji: Yeah. So that was the end. That was the true end of the drinking and the dedication to studying as much as I could possibly understand.
Rick: Did your study at some point take on the element of practice as well, some kind of meditation in addition to just reading books?
Gloriji: Well, what happened naturally as I would be reading these books, a paragraph would grab me and I would find myself going into a very natural contemplation, not really knowing, not understanding, but really sensing into how it was moving me and how I felt with it. From that became that contemplation, there was a natural… like I’d be in meditation, I don’t know how long I’d be in meditation. So I would come out of it and realize I’d been meditating. So it all came very naturally, like I didn’t have any instruction in that way, but I had read about it certainly, but it just came naturally from being contemplative, I’m naturally that way.
Rick: That’s nice. So did it become a daily thing almost?
Gloriji: Yes, 4 hours, 4 hours every single morning was dedicated to all of that, just setting aside from like 4 AM to 8 AM to bask in the glory of that.
Rick: That’s why you ended up being called Gloriji.
Gloriji: My friend David Leonard gave me that name. He said sometimes when people have such a great shift they change the name and he thought that worked really well. At first we were trying to decide, you know, do I want to do that? He said a couple of names and I said, “Well, I have friends on Facebook that are from India and they call me Gloria G.” He said, “Oh, Gloriji.”
Rick: That’s nice, sweet, you deserve it.
Gloriji: It’s fun.
Rick: So you finally stopped drinking, what year was that?
Gloriji: This was in 2003.
Rick: Okay, so almost 15 years ago. And so once you finally dropped that sea anchor, did the ship of your life begin to sail more swiftly?
Gloriji: Well, what happened was I thought I was going to have to go to India or find a teacher there or something. I thought that’s what you did. I didn’t know that there was anything, especially local, that could support this. One day I was in an Indian restaurant practicing my Ayurveda diet that I had gotten into. When I first awakened I weighed over 300 pounds and could hardly walk or breathe and some of this was really helping me to feel healthy and I was doing yoga and walking and all of that now. So I just noticed a couple of guys in the restaurant and I knew they were spiritual, I could tell, and I wanted to meet somebody. I didn’t know anyone that was on a path like this and I introduced myself and one of them turned out to be the pastor of a spiritual center where they openly investigated every philosophy, religion and ism under the sun and just drinking from the well of truth in each one. That was David Leonard, I met him and he invited me to the center and I’ve been going ever since. I’m on the board there, and I just love it. It’s a beautiful community right here in Huntsville and it’s a secret. Not enough people know about it. Well, maybe they will know.
Rick: That’s great. I have a friend who lives in Huntsville who used to play lead guitar in a band I was in when I was like 14, 15 years old. I’ll have to tell him about it, he might enjoy that.
Gloriji: Oh, that’s great. I would love to see him.
Rick: Yeah. Incidentally, we might as well segue just briefly into the fact that your other brother was lead guitarist for the band Steppenwolf.
Gloriji: Right, right. Back in the late 60s, yeah.
Rick: Yeah, that’s when I was listening to them. In fact, ironically they had a song called “The Pusher” and there was a line that said, you know I’ve seen a lot of people walking around with tombstones in their eyes. So it sort of hits close to home in terms of what happened to your other brother.
Gloriji: Right, yeah, true. They were very outspoken against drug abuse, you know, and they were very political at the time. Steppenwolf was out there, yeah.
Rick: Yeah, and they got the name from the title of a book by Hermann Hesse.
Rick: And I guess their most famous song was “Born to be Wild” if anybody wants to check them out.
Rick: The younger generation may not remember them.
Gloriji: Right, yeah, interesting.
Rick: Yeah, cool. All right, didn’t mean to throw us off track, but I thought I’d mention that.
Gloriji: That’s all right. A little plug for Larry Byrom, yay.
Rick: So you got involved in this spiritual group and you’re still involved in it, and you know, it’s interesting to trace the trajectory of a person’s life, because people can locate their own life at various points along such a trajectory, you know. I mean, many people can locate their life along the drug part of it or the drinking part of it, and also it provides hope and inspiration to those who might be in a situation like that and feel like there’s no way out. I mean, that’s one of the reasons I think it’s really … well, it’s one of the reasons I started Batgap, but it’s also one of the reasons I guess like you in particular is extremely valuable. I mean, you can impact a lot of lives just by your example.
Gloriji: Yeah, I can’t think of a greater blessing than that, truly. You know, I mean, it’s interesting, Rick, because I look over it and we’re speaking about it today, but I don’t feel … it’s interesting, I can feel some of the old feelings as we are talking, but they no longer define me in any way. Now that I can remember someone saying to me a long time ago, you know, “There’s just a point where your scars become stars,” and I think that’s really true, because these things really, if we choose to, can make us open to growing and flowering in beautiful ways. Then, you know, whether you’re aware of it or not, people are touched by that. That’s my experience.
Rick: And you know, I mean, I’m tempted to revisit the point we made a little while ago about God being merciful and there being an evolutionary purpose to the universe ultimately. I really feel that. I don’t feel like … I mean, firstly, I also am not squeamish about using the word “God” if we understand it correctly, as you know, this all-pervading intelligence that orchestrates everything. But also, why is there a universe? I mean, it seems to me that the universe demonstrates that its tendency is to create more and more sophisticated expressions, which are more and more capable of embodying that intelligence which lies at its core, and so that divine intelligence can just become more and more of a living reality. And that may sound a little bit philosophical, but if you have that understanding, I think it can really be a guiding light for one’s life. Because you know how you were saying how after you began to awaken and clear up, you’d see the butterflies and the trees and the world became so … and you can think about how bleak and miserable the world must appear to so many people. If they realize that the very same world, if we just could see the intrinsic beauty of it, could be so profoundly transformed, that’s kind of something to aim for.
Gloriji: Well, it is because the beauty is in you.
Rick: Yeah, exactly.
Gloriji: You’re experiencing the beauty that has flowered and awakened in you, and so you see you’re looking with it, and that’s another reason I think that consciousness naturally goes in and does some inner work, because all this has been unconscious, there’s a trust in all of this, and it needs space to finally be free to be felt and welcomed. Otherwise you can have some people with some really wonderful, beautiful wisdom. There’s not so healthy container for it, you know.
Rick: Yeah, well I think that all of us … there’s a verse in the Gita which says something like, “Even if you were the greatest of all sinners, you shall cross over all evil or something by the raft of knowledge alone.” In other words it says, “It doesn’t matter how low you’ve sunk, there’s hope for you.” You can sort of go all the way to the other extreme in this very life if you so desire.
Gloriji: Well it’s all the divine in all those forms, you know. I think that that’s the real freedom inside, is that we’re able to meet each other in truth because we’ve seen it for ourselves. So deeper than how it’s appearing, deeper than how life is appearing, even that somehow has its rightful place, and it doesn’t really make sense on the outer level of understanding, but in your own evolution through your lived experience, it’s just a given, you know. I’ve done some really shady things in my life, you know. I’ve had some very horrifying experiences due to my own irresponsibility, but all of that now is seen in a different light because there’s a real felt sense that … you know, some people talk about ego and they talk about you have to kill ego or get rid of it. You know, I tried to buy into that at first because I was learning those concepts through the Eastern stuff, but I found very quickly that that doesn’t work for me, that that kind of inner violence toward myself, because if I can’t take credit for this breakthrough, I can’t take credit for ego either. For me, ego is none other than spirit and her own lack of understanding, and then she has whatever experience or he has whatever experience and breaks through, and it’s that own consciousness itself coming into recognition, and then the path and the purification, if you want to call it, of the heart, the Sufis call it a polishing of the mirror, eventually even that gets kind of seen through, because prior to that even, there’s this very presence that remains. Awareness just becomes totally aware of itself and all of that. So, there’s just no room for judgment in it. I mean, I understand our conversations, I understand how we can say, “This isn’t healthy and this is really beautiful,” but it’s how lightly understanding that something is always serving itself in that. That can be a real point of argument for people, you know, because they’re pretty sure they know how it’s supposed to be. Again, going back to that realization that you just can’t take credit unless you’re so certain that there’s a doer outside of the purity of this. Does that make sense? I don’t know if it did.
Rick: It did, yeah.
Rick: Especially the line that you can’t take credit, I like that. It’s like, I don’t know, I think a nice attitude is that whatever blessings one has gained in life … how is that? There’s that saying, “God helps those who help themselves.” Okay, so you have to cooperate, you know, if you’re totally … well, this would relate to ego. If you feel like, “I am running the show, I can handle this, I’m doing it my way,” to heck with anything deeper or subtler or more profound, then you’re going to face the outcome of that orientation. But what you exemplified at that moment when you cried out for help was a surrender to … it was an admission that it’s not working out through your efforts and you need to put yourself in the hands of something greater and wiser than you perceived yourself to be.
Gloriji: Yeah, I appreciate that very much. I think it’s beautiful to really address that a bit because what feels truer to me is that I was surrendered, not that I surrendered, but I was being surrendered into something. That feels more real to my experience, so I can’t really take credit for the surrender. I love inquiry and I look very deeply into these things and that has really helped me to break out of some of the concepts that wanted to construct themselves and make a new story or something. But in all honesty, I just really can’t see that there’s some part of ourselves that has to be done away with for some other part. Is that just another form of dichotomy, another kind of pull-push within where to me there’s something posturing there. And when I was with Adyashanti at that time, it was the only time I ever went away on a spiritual retreat, I wanted to see that he was a living embodiment of what he teaches and speaks because I really think he’s awesome. I told him, I said, “You know, for me it was like when we’re not posturing for or against, it’s like the lines of distinction that define the mind begin to dissolve.” He loved it, he even repeated it, he got me, what I was saying. In my experience, when we are allowing those opposites to meet in our open heart, in the presence we are, this might sound cheesy because the word alchemy gets used a lot, but there is a kind of alchemy that happens there where we’re not trying to hold something out as lesser than something else and we just allow it all there. When the opposites come together, that’s true because they’ve never really been apart. There’s only one thing happening here. So the beauty of that coming together, you know yourself is a space of equanimity for everything and that’s very humbling and there’s a generosity that flows from that. A true generosity of this, it only knows itself as everything and that’s my experience.
Rick: That’s beautiful, you’re very eloquent.
Gloriji: Oh, thanks. I’ve come one way or another.
Rick: I know, all those books have had an effect.
Gloriji: You know, there is something that happens to you as your heart opens. When I was a teenager I used to skip school and smoke joints and write poetry, but I never read a poetry book, I don’t even know how I knew to do that. But yeah, there’s something there.
Rick: Yeah, and just to sort of play off something you just said about judgment, you know, I mean the word that came up in my mind as you’re saying that is innocence. I was saying to a friend this morning that one thing that bugs me is when people take opinions to be absolutes, they don’t kind of realize, and sometimes it’s very awakened people too that will do this kind of thing. I was interviewing a guy a month or two ago and he had a very adamant attitude about teachers who charge money for their teaching. Nobody should do that, anybody who does that is a phony, yada yada. I said, “Well, you know, there’s so many exceptions and variations and people have to make a living and you know, how can you be so adamant about that?” He just wouldn’t budge. That’s just a case in point, but it’s like, I don’t know, it’s so helpful if we can realize that what we happen to think about things is not necessarily the be-all and end-all. I mean, this comes in with religion and politics and economics and so many situations. If we can just hold things more lightly and you can have your preferences, I mean you can vote for this person as opposed to that person, you know, but if you’re adamant you paint yourself into a corner, you know what I mean?
Gloriji: It suggests that your way isn’t appropriate for you and how could anyone know that? You know, there should be a real freedom I feel like for each one of us. We don’t know what we’re working out here, we don’t know how we’re geared to want to explore certain things and so if somebody’s making a fortune off of spirituality or somebody’s very humble and climbing trees and shaving off bark for medicine for the community and in his diaper, I mean, those are equal, aren’t they? They’re equal really, I mean, in a sense. But if one is boasting that the other one is wrong, then the one that appears to be humble is just the same as the one that’s like, “Are you crazy? You can make a lot of money in the West doing that.” So, I don’t know, but I just feel like when we mind our own space and find what’s appropriate for us and express truly from there and we kind of let everyone off the hook of our projections that because I’m this way, you should be that way too.
Rick: Yeah, Christ said, “Judge not lest ye be judged.”
Gloriji: Yeah, but you know the thing about judgment is everything gets to come back, everything gets seen through, like it can be useful to have a judgment, but when you’ve really gone deeply into yourself and explored how you can be judgment and fragmented and you project that on the people and you’re creating everyone in your own messed up likeness, you know, as I’ve seen in myself that I did that for so long, I wanted very much to meet all of that so that I could free everybody of my creating them in that likeness, you know. And so, judgment gets to come back, opinions get to come back, everything gets to come back, but it’s not taken as a solid thing and absolute, it’s not as free to express and go, it’s held lightly.
Rick: Yeah, that’s what I meant by not adamant about these things.
Rick: Right, I mean we’re human beings, like you were saying before, it’s like we don’t necessarily kill the ego, we have a personality, we have opinions, we have preferences, we have interests, but it’s just this sort of tendency to… You know what I think, I’ve often thought it might be that because there is a sort of an absolute field of life and we have an innate craving for living on that foundation or as that foundation, maybe we try to take, if we don’t have access to that, maybe we try to take relative perspectives and make them absolute as a sort of substitute for the real thing and that’s why people get so… they’re looking for security, they’re looking for stability and they’re trying to find it in something that’s limited and changing, but it’s the best they can do at the time.
Gloriji: Yeah, yeah, and when you know that that’s the best any of us can do, yeah, it’s kind of nice, it’s freeing.
Rick: Yeah, good. So, okay, so we left you back about 15 years ago.
Rick: You stopped drinking and you were, you know, going into deep contemplative states for four hours every morning and did you… how did it… do you do that still? I mean, has it continued to this day or did you go through other phases and that eventually dropped off and other things?
Gloriji: Well, yeah, I explored different practices, but really inquiry was very natural for me. I can look back over my life and see where I’ve asked open-ended questions, so that’s very natural, so inquiry, contemplation and natural meditation works well for me. I don’t do well with a formal sit down at this time kind of thing.
Rick: When you say inquiry, are you alluding to like self-inquiry as Ramana taught or what do you mean by inquiry?
Gloriji: Not as Ramana, and I think that’s a beautiful inquiry, I have no problem with that at all. But I really, you know, we usually have a few dead gurus in Ramana, it was certainly one of them for me and Robert Adams, and so there’s a great appreciation for that. But my spiritual director and friend, David Leonard, introduced me to satsang teachings and films. We used to watch Gangaji on video. I began to notice that she was doing an inquiry with people that I really resonated with, because people would feel like there was an obstacle on the path, a particular issue, and she would invite them to just turn toward it and open to it, and she would certainly guide them through that process. I was doing this along with them, with my own issue, silently, and watching how she did that, and I just began to do it for myself all the time. What I found was that the same basic energy I might have called sadness or anger or rage or anything like that, when gone to in deeply enough and allowed to be felt completely, I mean without holding back, not just being aware but allowing just the total freedom for the emotions and feelings to be felt 100% out until they were ready to become whatever, they would morph and become something else, morph, and there might even be a feeling of hate. But then when hate was allowed to be huge, as big as it could get, then underneath that was this love. So it’s like the same energy that started out as sadness would go through stages of feeling like different things, and then it would bottom out into the love or just the overwhelming sense of peace that I had recognized back during the original or the first awakening. So I use it all the time and I support people with that to this day. It’s just beautiful because it actually, you always bottom out in what you are, you know, and the more you do this the more you get comfortable in recognizing that this is what I am, not these passing through feelings and emotions.
Rick: Nice. One way I’ve heard it explained in my own experience is true that there’s a lot of buried stuff and it needs to be processed and it kind of comes up in waves from time to time, sometimes little ripples, sometimes big waves, and as you just described, you need to feel it, you know, you need to go through it. As you do so, it gets purified, you have one less rock in your pocket that you’ve got to carry around.
Gloriji: You’re freeing up all that energy to come home to true nature. It’s beautiful, it’s a beautiful way for deepening.
Rick: I suppose that for most people usually these things are triggered by an external circumstance. Something happens and let’s say you feel sad or you feel jealous or you feel some emotion. So just take us through it for a second. I mean, let’s say something happens to somebody like that and they’re feeling a strong emotion, would you advocate just sort of shutting your door, closing your eyes, you know, just being really inward with it and just really letting your attention dwell on it or what?
Gloriji: No, for instance, if you were to tell me now that you’re experiencing, say, sadness or if you’re having an experience of something either, even that would be a … we could do it in real time, you know. But if not, I can just say you’re experiencing sadness and I would invite you to let the sadness, whatever story brought that, let that be here just for a moment. Let the story serve you in bringing full on the belief and the energy that’s there and then let the story go and bring your attention into what you feel in your body. As soon as they bring their consciousness like a pebble down into the space, I invite them to just be with it and let it expand and get as large as it needs to and just breathe and they feel it. Then I’ll ask them what they’re experiencing and they might say, “Well, now I just feel so alone.” Oftentimes this is one that comes up. I’ll say, “Well, just become aloneness, just full on, just be it.” And then they just kind of collapse into it. There’s a body expression with that. It’s just letting go and they become aloneness. Then in the freedom to feel aloneness without thinking it’s something bad that shouldn’t be there, no story, just welcoming it all. Then I’ll say, “Well, what’s right up under this aloneness? What’s there?” They might say, “Well, nothing.” I’ll say, “Well, let’s just go directly into this nothingness and let yourself just drop full, just full, fully into it, become nothingness.” Then they start to taste sometimes some really sweetness there, like, “Oh, there’s peace here. There’s a sense of love.” I’ll take them into the peace of the love. I won’t stop there. And then they usually end up just like, “Everything’s okay.” They always come home to themselves.
Rick: That’s nice.
Gloriji: Just through the layers.
Rick: Yeah, so it’s like anything you’re feeling can become a breadcrumb trail to take you back to the source.
Gloriji: Yeah, you’re freeing up the energy that’s kind of raveled in a knot. And once you’re there without any judgment toward it or any aversions of any kind, it’s able to open, free itself, and relax in the true nature.
Rick: Right, and if it bubbles up again, you just go through the same process.
Gloriji: And it will. A lot of times these things want to keep coming up and it just deepens you. It’s just incredible. It’s not like, “Oh, that shouldn’t be here again.” No, it’s just beautiful. It’s lovely.
Rick: It’s interesting to contrast that with your tactic earlier in life, which was to drink or take drugs and try to blot things out.
Gloriji: Suppress everything, yeah, and forget everything. But it’s all still waiting for you when you’re ready to meet it, even if you bypass it. I hear people talk about just being aware of it is enough, and in my experience, you will even get the sense that this isn’t so personal after a while of doing it. You realize that you’re the totality itself releasing what’s been kind of clogged in the arteries of totality, you know. It’s a much bigger picture. It starts out feeling very, very personal and then it becomes very, very impersonal.
Rick: That’s nice. I mean impersonal has a cold connotation but it doesn’t have to. If we think of ourselves as instruments of the Divine, then the Divine wants its instrument to be well-tuned. If the flute has all kinds of dirt in the mechanisms and it’s crud, that stuff needs to be cleaned out so it can play a proper melody.
Gloriji: And you can feel it and it’s more uncomfortable to not give it space, you know. That’s my experience with it. One day I was walking to the post office from my office and I had some mail in my hand and I was just walking along the sidewalk. It was a beautiful spring day and all of a sudden I went into a state and it was very much like the first awakening, but this time the light was so amazing that everything was sparkling and the colors were almost of another realm because they were just so magnificent and different. I think this might be what people call Samadhi, total bliss. I wasn’t moving at all yet I could see feet hitting the pavement. So it was like the body was over here somewhere doing what it’s doing and a woman was coming toward me and I heard my voice speak to her yet I didn’t speak. I was in complete stillness. I described it as being in both worlds at once and this woman as she was coming through me it felt like she was walking right through me and this love was just so amazing. This went on for about a half an hour. I even went into the post office and still dropped the stuff, I mean the body did everything. This is one reason I say about the predetermination, this is my experience. I wasn’t telling the body to do anything, I wasn’t having thoughts and everything was happening while nothing was happening at all. This complete emptiness and just this dreamlike Samadhi vision of light and beauty and bliss. So to me they are a perfect marriage of each other and you can’t negate any part of it.
Rick: That’s a beautiful experience of what they call witnessing and everyone’s heard that term and a lot of people I think don’t understand what it really means and they think it’s something you should try to do, like to adopt some kind of attitude of being detached from your activity or consciously watching your activity and thinking to your …trying to be aware that you’re not the doer. That’s a very superficial consideration. What you experienced was a real taste of what it really meant by that term.
Gloriji: I mean it was interesting, I mean I could literally see the feet hitting the pavement yet I wasn’t moving. Then as I sat with that, as I do with everything, you know, I was contemplating it later in the day and I …this that I am, witness even that. So no matter how far back you go there, you can’t get to the ultimate witnessing. You see what I’m saying? In a sense you can, you can sense it but you can’t find it.
Rick: Yeah, there’s not some little witnesser back in there that you can say, “Oh, here it is, this little walnut is the real me.”
Gloriji: Yeah, no matter what I did, it was just so full on that I was witnessing this bliss and I was witnessing moving that wasn’t happening and I was stillness. I could see all of that.
Rick: And some people live that way more or less all the time for a while because it’s not the final stage.
Gloriji: Yeah, I don’t know about final stages.
Rick: Yeah, well I don’t either, but what people report and what the traditions report is that there’s that stage but in that stage there’s still a dichotomy between that which witnesses and that which is witnessed and that dichotomy can sort of merge together and until it’s just one homogenous wholeness and that would be more like what we would call unity consciousness as opposed to a witnessing state.
Gloriji: Well, in the actual experience of it, the two were not separate. I mean, it was the seeing of the two was the equanimity.
Rick: So, when you saw the woman coming towards you, was it more like, “That is me as much as this body is me”?
Gloriji: No, it was just almost like she just appeared and disappeared, but the love was interesting because there was love as she was moving near me and through what appeared to be through me. I’m sure she was just passing me.
Rick: Yeah, so that “through me” bit is actually very interesting. I’ve heard it described that I don’t walk down the street, the street moves through me. I am already everywhere and so it’s not like I am going from point A to point B, it’s more like the whole relative world is just continuing to sort of do its thing within the context of my wholeness which is larger than that.
Gloriji: Yeah, people refer to a hologram and that makes perfect sense to me because it’s like that everything is within you, there is really not an out there and yet, you know, out there gets to come back home too. It’s interesting, it’s just nothing gets left out, everything is included, that is a very real thing and it’s not something you set out to do, it’s just a natural, it seems to be a natural evolution. Everything that was seen to be early on in the sorting out of things, you kind of go, “Well, that’s not real, that’s not true,” that kind of thing. Then there is a natural, everything gets to come back and I love something Mooji said one time, it was really, really good. He said, “When you see through concepts, they are free to come back without being used by them,” something to that effect, it was just appropriate because that was what I was experiencing at the time, like things were returning, everything was coming back and everything I thought shouldn’t be here, all of a sudden was allowed to be here, and that continues.
Rick: Yeah, the ocean has room for all the seaweed and the fish and the plastic and everything, sort of, I mean we are kind of mucking it up, but if the container is large enough then it doesn’t get clogged by its contents.
Gloriji: Well, your heart keeps breaking, if you are lucky, your heart keeps breaking open, nothing wrong with that.
Rick: Is that a painful experience or is it bittersweet or is it actually just sweet?
Gloriji: It’s interesting, a heartbreak is like love and recognition, so there is a sweetness there, but there is also the, “Oh, what are we doing to each other?” Like with the plastic, I felt a little, because everything becomes sacred in that return, and I think that this is, I love that awakening is looking like that for people now instead of just this absolute view and staying gone from everything. I think it really helps the shared reality we are part of to be back in and having gone in a kind of a full circle manner through all of that to bring her in and reveal the spirit that is this planet and everything upon her. I got very curious as to who was having that conversation because I found myself wanting to bring, I’m attracted to healing and I work in that realm, and so I found myself reading about shamans and I’m a sun gazer as well, and one day I was sun gazing and was just experiencing just this beautiful unity, oneness with all that is, and I was just really drawn to work with Gaia, the planet, and I was naturally attracted to shamanism, not as to take on as a new belief system, but to actually learn from the wisdom it offers and to learn some of the healing modalities, and it has been wonderful because it has really helped me to connect deeply with the planet and work in the area, the level of work that I feel that meets who I am and expresses this way. I’m not the kind of person to carry a sign or anything, it’s just not me, but to work at the level of consciousness is perfect, and that’s what shamans do. They spend years investigating themselves, they meet all their angels, they meet all their demons, they find themselves as the place that knows them all, and then they allow themselves to be a healing space for people to heal themselves, and I like that.
Rick: Yeah, beautiful. In the last five minutes you’ve mentioned Mooji and shamans, and next weekend I’m going to be interviewing a woman who studied shamanism for 20 years and has remarkable experiences, and then the next day, Mooji.
Gloriji: Okay, well that’s perfect. I love that. It’s going to be interesting.
Rick: Yeah. There’s something very beautiful in what you just said about how the sort of aloof, detached, impersonal perspective, which doesn’t really take into account the poignancy and the beauty of the world. As you said that, I kind of thought, yeah, that kind of perspective is not going to heal the world. What we need is the perspective where we’ve come full circle to know ourself and yet to have our heart broken open by everything that happens and to sort of like have our heart large enough to contain everything and thereby help to heal it.
Gloriji: Because it’s done through the human heart, you know. It’s all done here. So it’s not going to be out in some state far away. It’s going to be right here where the mechanism is kicking in, you know. So our willingness to fill those things for the planet actually opens us and makes us available to what’s appropriate in the moment. Maybe you don’t have a plan. Maybe you don’t have some kind of organization you’re doing to feed the whales or whatever that is, but if you can just be available to the wisdom that moment that includes her and you are the sacredness of life witnessing herself in jeopardy, you just find yourself being moved appropriately. I can’t think of greater work than that. When you think that it’s all within consciousness and anything that happens in any corner of consciousness affects the totality of it. So it’s very powerful. I often speak about the intimacy of perception and how we truly are shaping this reality through the way we perceive it. The more that we can go deep within ourselves and kind of cleanse that lens of perception so that the true nature of our being can see itself through all of these appearances, which are deeper than just an appearance. But I’m just saying that it’s going back to the point that it’s all within us. You’re only ever serving yourself in that. You’re only ever serving all of life and serving yourself in that way, in that moment. And did that make sense?
Rick: It made great sense. I was loving it. I was thinking as you were saying it that, you know, I think one’s first priority should be to arrive at that attunement, you know, where we feel that intimacy with ourself and with all life and then not worry so much about what will my role be. Will I be an activist? Will I be a healer? Will I do this? Will I do that? You know, the more we can sort of attune in the way you’re describing, the more sensitive will be to the guidance as to how to express it. That’s the second consideration. The first consideration is, you know, establish that and then you’ll know what to do.
Gloriji: Yeah, and you can feel it. You’re totally inspired and it’s not because of this or that. It’s almost like you’re witnessing everything as yourself, as everything is a reflection of you, right? And then all of a sudden you’re inspired in a way. I like something I read. A woman named Lynn Twist talked about this. She was talking about a freedom and she was saying that all the great people that have served the planet like Gandhi and Mandela and Martin Luther King Jr., these people, they were standing in a place of vision, pure vision, inspiration, that made the opposites null and void in that moment. In other words, they brought something so fresh and so new that everything else was outdated in its presence and they made real change. Little people that would seem not to have so much power, Mother Teresa, people like that, they’re just doing that very thing. They answer a call of the heart to rise up to that and there’s a total trust that it will play out the way it needs to and you’re not looking back on anything. You’re not looking at, you’re not letting yourself get sidetracked into the story of this against that. You’re literally moving in a different field of energy and there’s grace in that. It’s beautiful.
Rick: Yeah, I love it. Another thing that happens is that a lot of the details get worked out for you. You don’t know where this is going but you have an impulse and you start to just sort of cooperate with that impulse and all sorts of circumstances and events and opportunities and support and all just kind of keep falling into place to help you serve that purpose. You know what I mean?
Gloriji: That is so true and it’s exciting. I mean it’s what fuels that vision that you may have been given. Some people aren’t visual, they may just have a strong sense of gut feeling or whatever, however it plays for a person. You can trust that above all else that the way is made for you when you’re in that flow.
Rick: It’s like one way of looking at it is to come back to the God word again. God needs his foot soldiers. It’s through those who are able to cooperate and align with that divine intelligence that the blessings of the divine get channeled into the world. So if you’re willing to do that then the supplies come from the central supply house that you’re going to need to be an effective soldier in that army to use that metaphor.
Gloriji: I’m hearing in my heart people are saying there is no world, there is no other and all of that. I understand that because I went through that for I think about a year. I lose track of time. I was in that space and it was very like people would die and I would think, “Well there’s no death.” It was just very mental, rational, dry, out of touch. One of the things that I’ve been given to see is that we’re so far removed from the planet, we’re not connected with her, that our awakening can actually make us even more disconnected if we’re not able to recognize that whether you’ve experienced not having a body or you are aware that you seemingly have a body, whatever that story is for you, it’s part of the environment, it’s part of what’s here, it’s part of the dream we have awakened within. The dream doesn’t go away, we just awake within it and now we are able to be used in incredible ways because we are awake within the dream and we’re working with it in a way that makes all the dreamers welcomed in. In other words, I’m not sure where this is going, this is odd, but it’s you don’t have to take a position of denial, that this is illusory and I can’t wait to get out of this body because I’m going to go home. If you can’t find home right here, connected with the planet, then your disconnect is limiting the awakening capacity, the potential I feel. In my own exploration this has been true. As I deepened into connecting with the planet, that’s one of the greatest spiritual teachers around and she has opened me to dimensions I didn’t know were there and not only my heart breaking open to life in such a sweet way, but to be available to serve that, there’s tremendous fulfillment and joy in that.
Rick: It’s beautiful, I love listening to you, I love the way you express things, it’s just so heartfelt and so beautiful and clear. I think a way of relating to this “there is no world” perspective, I was a little bit rude a minute ago when I said, “Oh, blah, blah, blah.” It’s a valid perspective, it’s just not the only one. If I were asked to define enlightenment in a phrase or something, I would say it’s the ability to incorporate multidimensionality because there is a level at which there is no world, there is a level at which everything is perfect and divine and there is a world and there is a level at which there’s problems and they need to be dealt with. It’s all a matter of scale and perspective and one should ideally be able to incorporate all of them and to move freely among them according to the circumstances. There was one, you know who Amma is, the hugging saint, she does all this great stuff and she’s got all these hospitals and orphanages and schools and houses for tsunami victims and just always a million projects like that going on. And one time one of her swamis came to her and said, “Amma, what more can we do for the world?” She said, “What world?” And so, you know, there’s this sort of just a creative balance in him, like it’s not only about what we do, there’s also this level at which there is no world. But if you take refuge or sort of try to polarize yourself into just one or the other of those dimensions, then it gets out of balance.
Gloriji: Well, I think that there’s a holding because it’s been learned, you know, that this is the ultimate goal to not see a world and not see, you know, that can be the result of knowledge. Your brain is very powerful, everyone’s brain is very powerful and can give you whatever experience you’re supposed to be having. It’s very interesting without inquiry to really, you know, the mind has a brilliant capacity to do all of that and to always bring yourself back to what is real is the ability and freedom to question everything, so that you get back to a very truthful place.
Rick: I think one issue with this is that a lot of the proponents of knowledge whose books we read and teachings we listen to and so on, not all of them, but a lot of them were recluses, that was their nature. And so, it was natural for them to emphasize more on the sort of, you know, illusory nature of the world, guys like Shankara and others. But the average person is not a recluse and it’s natural for them to have a more sort of embodied, engaged orientation, like you were just describing.
Gloriji: Well, Shankara, I believe, is the one that said he defined illusion by that which comes and goes and what’s real and that which doesn’t come and go, and that’s beautiful and true. Something does happen beyond that and I think that that’s where it can be misunderstood. That there is this coming back, like I keep saying, and I don’t mean to keep repeating myself, but it just seems like everything that was left behind starts getting included again, but from a place of real freedom. We know that even science has helped to support mystic teachings that say that the world isn’t really out there and tangible as it seems, and if you’ve had certain spiritual experiences you know that to be true. Everything is happening within you. So the person whose energy has now become more circular versus flowing in and out, inner and outer, it feels to me like it’s a circular movement of steady equanimity where everything … we can very possibly astral travel and experience other realms and people have experiences with angelic realms and all types of things, and then you have Papaji saying, “Don’t get stuck in that because you are beyond all of that,” but when you know you are beyond all of that, then you don’t … and it somehow includes everything at a certain point. Everything gets to come home, angels get to come back, everything that was seen through is false and products of the mind. Well, it’s all a product of the One mind and you don’t have a capitalization on that. It just feels like it.
Rick: That’s good. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi’s analogy on that was “capture the fort.” He said, “Life is like a territory, there’s all these diamond mines and gold mines and things you can explore, very interesting, but then there’s a fort which commands the territory,” and he said, “If you just go after this mine or that mine, it’s not your territory, you’re kind of on shaky ground, but if you capture the fort, then you can explore it all at your leisure and it’s your territory, you can do what you want.”
Gloriji: Beautiful. That’s very freeing, isn’t it? Because if you think that you’re constantly starting, you have to deny things, you can inquire yourself into a corner. Are we hearing that strange sound again?
Rick: I think it must be a cuckoo clock.
Gloriji: I think it’s some kind of strange clock she’s got in the garage or something, sorry about that.
Rick: That’s okay.
Gloriji: Kind of entertaining. But no, I think that’s true, we can inquire ourselves into a corner of consciousness of exclusion and hopefully if that’s happening, that too can be seen and questioned.
Rick: Well that brings up a very important point I think. I consider you to be a very experiential person primarily. It’s not like you came at this intellectually, you came at it with a very visceral, genuine experience, and then you picked up the pieces later on in terms of your understanding. I think some people go about it the other way around and they somehow don’t enable themselves to access the experience and they just load their head with ideas by reading a lot and studying a lot and thinking a lot and being on YouTube and arguing on Facebook, all that stuff. It gets you very top-heavy and it gets you so that you can easily mistake your understanding for the actual experience to which it relates, but it isn’t that.
Gloriji: Yeah, again, the mind is very brilliant and it can connect the dots and take what you may be sharing as a true lived experience of awakening or insight, whatever, and their minds can connect the dots back to their experience and all of a sudden they have the same experience but it looked like this, and you can feel when that happens with someone. It’s like, that’s not it, because there is something about capturing that fort, there is something about … Jesus I think said, “You can tell a tree by its fruit.”
Rick: Yeah, you should know them by their fruit.
Gloriji: Yeah, that’s it, and you can sense very deeply when someone is just mentally trying to make it so, and it’s an unfortunate thing. It’s not like I set out to have it any other way, it’s just that the lights went off or came on, I should say, prior to … the journey followed that, whereas most people are trying to have that experience. That came first for me and then I was trying to understand what happened.
Rick: Yeah, that’s great.
Gloriji: So it’s kind of innocent on their part.
Rick: I mean you can’t nourish yourself by reading cookbooks.
Gloriji: Oh, that’s so good, that’s good. I get in trouble with people sometimes because they think it’s arrogant of me to disagree with something a teacher, a well-known teacher says, and it’s not that I’m disputing the teacher themselves, I can actually like and admire their work. But if something doesn’t feel true to me, I don’t feel that I have to take it on the authority of someone because they’re known or whatever, and I think that we deceive ourselves in that way and if we’re really willing to go deeper and study and really investigate and find ourselves, that wisdom isn’t biased in any way. You have it, everyone has it. I mean, come on, if I can have this wisdom coming through here, I’m just like blown away all the time by that. I remember hearing Adyashanti say that he couldn’t wait to have satsang to hear what he said, and he gets to hear what he’s going to say, and I still get that, you know, it’s like wow, really.
Rick: And where did this come from?
Gloriji: Yeah, and what’s interesting for me, a lot of times things would reveal themselves and then I would somehow catch up to that later. Other times it was something that was just slowly coming into awareness and it would come through, but it’s beautiful, you know, and we are these living waters of wisdom and when we let them flow unobstructed by knowledge, knowledge can support that if we’re open to it and not want to posture and try to make things happen, but rather let everything be a deep allowing, because I feel like people clog their own drains with trying to make it happen.
Rick: Yeah, that thing you said about disagreeing with teachers, I think that’s an important point too. I mean, not that we want to be gnarly and argumentative, but the Buddha said something about don’t accept something just because I said it. Figure it out for yourself, go by your own experience. So there is a tendency I think to put teachers on pedestals and to think, well, if Mooji said this or if Adyashanti said this or something, then it must be true. Who am I to think otherwise?
Gloriji: Or to use their words to make someone else wrong, that’s just terrible. That’s a subtle violence.
Rick: Yeah, so ultimately all these things are pointers and you have to experience it for yourself.
Gloriji: It takes great courage, you know, it takes so much courage to trust yourself it seems like because people are so innocently … and I was someone that had the deepest insecurities. I mean, I was just a train wreck, I’m going to be honest with you. There was nothing pretty in this. I mean, I really was the kind of person that believed that everyone knew better than myself and I was kind of a wallflower even though I was kind of out there. I was a wallflower type personality, always putting myself back. I remember hearing, I think you say it’s Devaji or Devaji in California, I heard a video of his once and he was saying, “You know, if as an ego you were wanting to be out there, be known, be popular, whatever, awakening might make you more quiet and introspective and withdrawn and vice versa, you know, and there’s really something to that. I’m not sure where I was going with it.
Rick: No, that’s a good point. It kind of brings you into your dharma, whatever that may be, might make you more introspective, you know, introverted I mean to say, more extroverted or both, you know, you can be both at the same time. You just become more you, more natural.
Gloriji: Yeah, that’s a beautiful thing right there. To me what you just said was worth the whole video because if we can just get down to being who we are, really who we are, without all the overlay of trying to get it right and trying to put on the best face or whatever that is, because that’s the way I lived for nearly 50 years. I was 48 years old before that initial shift and I’m 62 now and it’s just really, really nice just to be who I am, without all that other stuff.
Rick: In two years you can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight if it’s not too dear.
Gloriji: Oh, there you go, you got some Beatles lyrics for me, yay, thank you for that.
Rick: When I’m 64.
Gloriji: Not always 64, but when I’m 64, that’s right.
Rick: We shall scrimp and save. So, I was thinking, for some reason I was thinking this, have you ever considered going into prisons and meeting in, especially women’s prisons, and I think it would be very inspiring for the ladies there.
Gloriji: That’s an interesting idea, I’ll sit with that.
Rick: Yeah, I mean because a lot of them have been through a lot of the stuff that you went through and I think you provide great hope and inspiration and guidance to people like that.
Gloriji: Thank you. You know Gangaji did that.
Rick: I know, she did a lot of that. Kenny Johnson, whom I’ve interviewed, was an inmate in a prison.
Gloriji: Yes, that’s a great story right there. I mean, he was an amazing person, really acquired that.
Rick: Okay, so we have a little bit more time if you’d like and if more thoughts come to mind, I’m just totally, I’m temporarily in a blank, which is rare for me, but those listening if you feel like sending in questions, there’s a form on the upcoming interviews page on batgap.com where you can send in a question. But I guess maybe at this point let’s talk a little bit about, and maybe some questions will come in, but let’s talk about what you do as a “spiritual teacher” if that’s how you define yourself. I mean in what ways do you make yourself available, do you do retreats, do you do Skype conversations, you know, what do you have to offer people?
Gloriji: Well, I teach here locally, I teach here in town and at the spiritual center that I told you I attend, I teach classes there sometimes. I have Skyped with people that I’ve met on Facebook or had phone sessions with folks. I still have a job, I have a day job. My husband and I own a land survey company and I run the office during the day. I like to do these things in the evenings and I’m kind of out there in a small way, you know, and I’m accessible. There’s information on the website that you’re linking to for those kinds of things. I’m more than open to that. Anything would be just what we call a love offering, you know, and if someone is struggling and can’t afford that, then they’re welcome to contact me, it’s no problem.
Rick: Great. I hope some people do.
Gloriji: I do too.
Rick: Yeah. One of my intentions when I originally started BatGap was not to just interview famous people. In fact, when you first start you can’t do that anyway because they’re not interested. But the subtitle of that…
Gloriji: Sorry for the snort.
Rick: Yeah, that’s all right. The subtitle of BatGap is, you know, “conversations with or interviews with ordinary spiritually awakening people.” I think, you know, the vast majority of people aren’t going to be big famous teachers or anything like that, but there’s a sort of an awakening taking place out there that is very organic and, you know, subtle and profound and it’s happening to all kinds of people. I had a contact the other day who’s in his 90s and he has had both of his feet amputated and has all kinds of difficulties and health problems, but he said he’s never been happier or more grateful in his life. He’s just like, you know, he had this profound awakening and he’s just like loving life. I’m actually going to interview him, I think.
Gloriji: That’s beautiful. Wow.
Rick: Because if you know, if you just…it’s that pedestal thing again. If we just think in terms of, you know, people sitting up on a dais with a glow around their head and all, it’s like, “Okay, that’s them. I’m never going to be like them.” So it sort of disempowers people. It makes them feel like, “Well, this will never happen to me.” I think when you make it more egalitarian, you know, I think it really facilitates the spread of the awakening.
Gloriji: I really admire that. I really do. You know, just the way satsang is set up with some of the more popular teachers, it can be intimidating, you know. And I think people do feel that, you know, it’s just like any, like a television show or if you’re into stars or whatever, it’s just, you can get caught up in, they have something that you don’t. And that’s why I really love what I call a true teacher, is one that really encourages the empowerment from within you because it can’t come from anywhere else because it’s not outside of you anyway, in any form or fashion. If I can help someone just open a door to trusting themselves, then that’s a huge step in the right direction because that’s the direction you got to go ultimately, you know.
Rick: You were talking about confidence and how you didn’t have any and all. And I mean, it’s not like we want to encourage bravado, but there’s a certain natural confidence that comes from genuine experience. It helps, I think, to have a little bit of encouragement in that sense, a little bit of reassurance that yes, you know, you too are capable of this and, you know, it doesn’t just happen to like famous people, it’s for everybody.
Gloriji: You know, so beautiful Rick, because really this awake is awake, you know, and I remember Adya saying, you know, how do you enlighten yourself? So turning toward yourself as your own path is a profound thing. That’s what I found is that I was the path for consciousness to take. And so that’s just empowering and I think that the really wonderful teachers do support that and encourage it. Because all too often you hear stories too where people have been taken advantage and that’s an unfortunate thing.
Rick: People have what?
Gloriji: Been taken advantage of.
Rick: Oh, you mean like by teachers?
Rick: Yeah, of course.
Gloriji: Because if you are kind of in a broken place and you feel that people have more authority than you do and you look up to that authority and you make yourself subjective to that, then abuse can happen and that too can be a huge teaching, you know, everything truly can take us to a greater truth and reality and unfortunately it can look like that. There’s just a lot going on out there and so I think the more that natural everyday people are out there talking about it, the more people are going to be comfortable with themselves.
Rick: Yeah, so that whole thing about being taken advantage of is a very key point for me. I’m very sensitive to it. I’m going to give a talk at the SAND conference on the ethics of enlightenment and you know, anyway, I won’t go into that now. But a couple of questions came in, here’s one from a good friend of ours, yours and mine mutually, “What kind of teachings are you receiving by opening to the wisdom of Mother Earth?”
Gloriji: Profound connection. The connection itself is an opening into greater dimensions of understanding and you know, there is something very healing, I mean we’ve all heard of earthing, you know, where you take your shoes off and you get on the dirt in bare feet and just something as simple as that or safely sun gazing, there is a protocol, please don’t just go out there and do it. But anything that you’re doing or sitting with a tree consciously inviting that wisdom, just connecting in that way, again I don’t have a forecast for how that works, but it opens you to a spontaneity and an appropriateness of the moment and I don’t think there is a greater gift than that. As far as I love ceremony, I love ritual and it’s interesting like Nisargadatta, you know, he would every day put flowers on his Guru’s picture and he would work at the altar and do all of this and someone asked him, “Why do you do that?” He said, “I don’t know, that’s connection. You don’t know why you do it, but it feels appropriate and right to do it.” As we reconnect with the earth as we were meant to be, because we are not separate from her in any way, we open ourselves to all kinds of healings that we are not aware of and that connection is not only felt within yourself to her but to everything. So I think that there would be a lot more people experiencing their oneness with life if they were more deeply connected with the planet.
Rick: Nice answer and I think we wouldn’t be ravaging the planet as we are if people were more deeply connected.
Rick: I mean you know what we’re doing to the planet, if you really felt connected to the planet you would no more damage it in the way we’re damaging it than you would like you know take a knife and cut your arm, you know, because it’s intimate to you.
Gloriji: That’s it. Great question, thank you.
Rick: Yes, thank you. Here’s one from, okay, this is from Mark Peters in California. You mentioned Adyashanti several times and Mooji and Gangaji in passing. Can you share any other teachers that strongly resonated with you? Yeah, Llewellyn finally. Oh yeah, I love him. You know, I dabbled a lot in, well Robert Adams, Llewellyn, Ramana and Gangaji, definitely Gangaji and Papaji. I’m kind of attracted in there. Llewellyn for me was I think where I was really beginning to open up to the wisdom of the planet. This wisdom is all pervading, it’s everywhere and it’s in the dirt. I mean look at the, if you just observe nature in action and the wisdom and intelligence that is always functioning there, it is an incredibly mind-blowing experience and you talk about getting out of your head, there is nothing that’s going to take you into deep gut knowing and that connection. And so Sufism or particularly with Llewellyn really opened me to that and I think he also opened me to shamanism because he supports that. His teacher, Irina Tweedy, she said to, no I believe it was just something she wrote in a book, she said, “If you want to teach, you are not ready to teach.” That hit me early on and I knew that I wanted to deepen so much into my truth that if I found myself in that role that I wasn’t really in it. So there’s just been little nuggets along the way and they are everywhere and they can also come from trees and clouds, you know, it’s everywhere. It’s all speaking to us if we are open to it.
Rick: Yeah, I became a meditation teacher when I was like 21 and taught for many years and now I don’t feel like I’m qualified to teach.
Gloriji: This might be the time to start.
Rick: Yeah, well I guess I’m doing it in a way through what I’m doing but I would really be reluctant and I’d feel totally unqualified to get up on a podium and be a spiritual teacher. I’d much rather just interview them.
Gloriji: You hold your own and I respect it. It’s really nice.
Rick: Yeah, and incidentally I’ve interviewed Llewellyn and also Gangaji if people want to check out those interviews.
Gloriji: Yeah, those are a couple of my favorites.
Rick: Okay, well I guess we could sort of wrap it up. We’ve pretty much covered a lot and if any other questions pop in while we’re concluding I’ll ask them, but I really enjoyed my time with you, Gloriji. I didn’t know you that well before this interview, just sort of seen you on Facebook a little bit and I’m not much of a Facebook junkie, but you know every now and then I’d see some little thing you wrote and it looked nice, but I’m very pleasantly surprised. And as I said you came very highly recommended by some dear friends, so I really feel your heart and your sincerity and your authenticity and I’m really happy to have been able to bring you to a larger audience.
Gloriji: I’m grateful, thank you so much.
Rick: Well let me just make a couple of concluding remarks. I’ve been speaking with Gloriji and I’ll be linking to her website, maybe I’ll also link to your Facebook page if you like, since you’re so active on Facebook.
Gloriji: That’d be good.
Rick: Yeah, people can friend you and follow you on Facebook. And as people know this is an ongoing series of interviews, so if you feel like being notified of future ones just sign up for the email for that on www.BATGAP.com. There’s an audio podcast which is working again, although it’s still having some technical difficulties with it, so in case you like to listen on your iPod or your phone. And a number of other things, if you just explore the menus on www.BATGAP.com you’ll see them. So I really appreciate your attention, those who have been listening or watching, and it’s a great joy to do this and bring this to people. And love to you all and love to you Gloriji
Gloriji: And love to you.
Rick: It’s really been sweet talking with you. Maybe we’ll meet in person someday.
Gloriji: I hope so.
Rick: That’d be nice.
Rick: All right, thanks.
Gloriji: Thank you. Bye-bye.