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 hundreds of them now and if you’ve watched hundreds you’ve heard me say this over and over again, but if you haven’t and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones please go to batgap.com and check the past interviews menu where you’ll find all the previous ones archived in several different ways. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you support it, if you appreciate it and feel like helping to support it there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site and also a donate page that explains other ways of supporting it if you don’t like PayPal. My guest today is a real honor to have her on. It’s Dr. Jean Houston, PhD. First I’ll read her little bio and then make a few comments. Jean is a scholar, philosopher, educator and a recognized pioneer of the human potential movement. She’s widely recognized as a visionary leader and multicultural expert. She’s the author of over 30 books exploring human possibilities and positive action in the world, which is interesting because she says she hates to write, so maybe she’s masochistic, I don’t know. She served as an advisor in human and cultural development for UNICEF and to national and international heads of state. She actually helped Hillary Clinton write that book, “It Takes a Village to Raise a Child.” Jean has devoted her life to developing processes to activate the latent abilities in individuals, groups, organizations and societies. Over the last 60 years, Dr. Houston has worked in over a hundred – I think it’s 109 countries now, right?
Jean: That’s right.
Rick: As an international speaker and teacher. She is the Chancellor of Meridian University and a dedicated champion of the human spirit. So thank you, Jean, and thank you so much for – she’s probably spent a total of about three hours working through technical things to get this to work more – so I really appreciate your patience and perseverance and laboring through that with us. You know it’s said in Buddhist and Hindu circles that we have a huge mountain of karma and that when we come into this life we couldn’t possibly take the whole mountain with us, we wouldn’t be able to work that much off, so we just take a little bucket or a suitcase and that’s what we work off in this life. So I feel like you kind of represent a huge mountain of wisdom and experience and in the past week I’ve only been able to take a little bucket from that mountain that I’ve been working through, primarily in the form of listening to a number of your interviews and talks and also reading these two books, which is what my local library happened to have, “The Wizard of Us,” which is a sort of a deep analysis of the story of the Wizard of Oz, and “Mystical Dogs,” which is a story of many of the dogs you’ve owned over the years and equally deep considerations of the lessons you’ve learned from and with those dogs. But if my suitcase or bucket doesn’t happen to match yours and if there are things that I don’t know about you or don’t think to ask or anything else that come to mind during this interview, please feel free to just lead us off in any direction that you’re inspired to do.
Jean: Thank you.
Rick: Yeah, so one interesting thing about you that one learns when you know, beginning to become familiar with you, is that you have met and befriended an incredible range of people, everything from Ronald Reagan, although he wasn’t so much of a friend because he tried to take your dog away.
Jean: That’s right, tried to buy my dog.
Rick: Yeah, you tried to buy your beloved Chickie, I believe the dog’s name was. Eleanor Roosevelt, Edgar Bergen, who was the ventriloquist that had the puppet, Charlie McCarthy, Helen Keller, Albert Einstein, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Abraham Maslow, Joseph Campbell, Margaret Mead, Hillary Clinton, and I’m sure dozens of others that you could name. So wow, you have some interesting karma in terms of meeting these brilliant, influential people and being one yourself. I guess it’s birds of a feather kind of a thing. I suppose one of the earliest… well, maybe you’d like to comment on what I’ve said so far before I launch into something.
Jean: Well, it’s true I’ve been extremely fortunate in having met some of the most interesting people of the last three centuries. I mean, I’ve known plenty of people who were born in the 19th century. In fact, I remember when I was three years old, I attended probably the last march of the Civil War veterans on both sides, and an old man came up to me, an old Confederate fellow. He was very tall, or I was very short, and he leaned down and he took my hand. He said, “Little lady, you’re shaking the hand that shook the hand of my papi, and my papi shook the hand of Jefferson.”
Jean: Thomas Jefferson. So, you know, some people have a kind of fractal return for certain kinds of events and patterns, and mine has always been that I seem to have been, I’m like the female Forrest Gump, you know, I seem to have been in the right place at the right time to meet these people. I mean, I met Teilhard de Chardin by literally running into him and knocking him down, and he picked me up. He said, “Are you planning to run like that for the rest of your life?” I said, “Well, it looks that way.” He said, “Well, bon voyage.” I said, “Bon voyage.” And thereafter for the next, well, almost three years off and on we met and walked in Central Park together, which got me started in my interest in the whole evolutionary agenda, which is both part in our human givenness with all its problems and glory, as well as perhaps it is the fact that we don’t just live in the universe, but the universe lives in us.
Rick: Now, as I was reading and listening to various things about you, one of the first experiences that jumped out to me at least as being really pivotal in your spiritual awakening was when you watched the movie “Song of Bernadette” with your father, which is a wonderful little movie, and you know where I’m going with this, so why don’t you take the story from there.
Jean: Well, my father was an agnostic Baptist in Texas, married to my mother who was a Sicilian Catholic. My mother was born in Sicily, her name was Maria Annunciata Seraphina Graziella Fiorina Perpetua Tadaro, married to Jack Houston of Texas, and he had to become Catholic to marry my mother, but he and the priest traded jokes instead of theology and priest finally said, “Jack, you’re just a natural born pagan, here I’ll give you a learners’ permit so you can get married, but any kid comes along you got to raise them Catholic.” So, when I was five years old my father was kicked off of the Bob Hope show, for an excess of high spirits, this happened quite frequently.
Rick: Spirits meaning of the alcoholic type I suppose you mean.
Jean: No, no, no, I mean just his energy was…
Rick: Hilarity and whatnot. Okay
Jean: That’s right. So, anyway, he remembered his promise and we found ourselves living with my mother’s parents in Brooklyn, New York, or Brookalina as my grandmother, and sent to Catholic school. Well, everything was fine except my father would gag up my catechism and give me the most interesting questions as the horrible little nun every morning. Sister Teresa, I counted my ribs and I counted Joey Bonjabella’s ribs and I want to know if God made Eve out of Adam’s rib. How come?” And I would have all the children lift their undershirts to prove that the girls were both, we all have the same number of ribs. “Sister Teresa, when Jesus rose, was that because God filled them full of helium? Sister Teresa…”, and then the big question, the big one that haunts the mind of every little Catholic child, “did Jesus ever have to go to the bathroom?” Sister Teresa blew up and, you know, every time I asked a question, which I did every day, she added a million years or so. At the end of the first grade, I had 300 million years in purgatory to my credit on this big sheet, Jean Houston’s years in purgatory, and I went home crying because I could not believe this stupid stuff, and my father roared with laughter. He said, “Come on, kiddo, I’ll show you what they did to a real saint.” He threw me on his shoulders and ran past the Sicilian neighbors going, “Purgatory, purgatory, purgatory, purgatory, purgatory, purgatory, special.” And the Italian Sicilian neighbors would say, “Hey, there goes a crazy Jack, a crazy Jack, you’ll go kill a bambino.” And so we went to see the “Song of Bernadette”, which was so beautiful.
Rick: Great movie, yeah.
Jean: Everything was fine, and the old lady sitting next to me with her chest full of holy medals would say, “Eee, che bella questa sante!” What a beautiful saint, you know. And then came the great moment where the Virgin of Mary appears in the grotto to Bernadette. All of us are in this rapture of religious devotion. It’s really quite a beautiful scene. When suddenly this horrible mule-like Whittian laugh begins to fill the entire theater, and it is coming from my father, who’s in complete hysterics. You know, “Ha ha ha ha!” “Daddy”, I said, “Stop that. This is the Holy play.” “I know, but you know who is that up there playing the Virgin Mary?” “No, Daddy, who?” “Linda! I met her last year at a party in Beverly Hills. Linda Darnell! Hot dog! I told her she’d go far!” The Sicilians all making very nasty gestures at me. I said, “Daddy, get out of here. Go to the bathroom,” which he does, and he comes back in, still the same hilarity. Well, going home, I am full, I am full of purpose. I know I have to see the Virgin Mary, and I run home, and I run up to where we had a guest room and a closet that was empty because my puppy, Chickie, had just filled it with her own nine puppies, and I got the puppies out of the way, and I began to figure it looked just like the grotto, and I began to pray, “Lord, please, please, please show up in the closet for me the way you did, you know, for Bernadette,” and I would count to ten, and I would give up candy, I’d give up candy for, you know, six months, and I counted to higher and higher numbers, and always there were more puppies back in the closet because poor old Chickie kept bringing them back, and finally I said, “Virgin Mary, I’ve given up everything. I don’t know what else. Please show up,” and I said, “I’m going to count to whatever it was, a hundred and sixty eight or something, and please show up,” and I closed my eyes and I could almost feel her coming, you know, I knew she was flying over the Brooklyn Bridge looking for my, and finally I opened my eyes, no Virgin Mary, Chickie had gotten all nine puppies back in the closet, and I gave up, and I got up, and I had no thoughts whatsoever, and I went over to the window seat and looked down and saw my grandfather Prospero Tadaro putting the smudge pots under the fig tree. He knew of his feet only by rumor. He was so heavy. Anyway, and suddenly the whole reality opened up. I didn’t see or hear anything different, but all of reality was there, and I knew that I and the fig tree in the yard and my grandfather and my idea of the Virgin Mary, and new wheat in Kansas, and the little boy outside of Iowa – I think it was, as we went by in the train who would wave his hand at me – and the autistic man who sold comic books outside a Bloomingdale’s , all of reality was there, the fish and sheepshead bay and old ladies dying in Shore Road Hospital, and it was like what we now know as a vast hologram in which everything was united with everything else in this great fellowship of great oneness, and then I could hear my father enter downstairs laughing, and immediately all of reality began to laugh, and years later when I could read Dante in the original, the great lines, “Gaurizzo l’universo,” the joy that spins the universe, and that is what it was, and so powerful, that so powerful was that experience that it really sustained me for the rest of my life. I never had an experience like that again, but I saw the unity of all being, and then of course in recent years where I spent a lot of time studying quantum physics, which also addresses that fact, and that we are, if you will, part of that unified field, God stuff, if you will, that is immersed in this biodegradable space-time suit that we wear, but that we have access to that kind of totality as I did when I was five, six years old.
Rick: Even though you never had another peak experience like that perhaps, I get the impression though that it altered you in a way that was abiding, you know, that it was, you never went back to the way you had been.
Jean: Well I can’t, I mean the way I had been, had been a child.
Rick: Yeah, but something shifted.
Jean: Something shifted as if infinity became quite not non-local but local for me.
Jean: And I was always in that state of, what should we say, radical empathy and radical eminence. That’s the saying.
Rick: Yeah, always meaning you continued to be that way.
Jean: I think so. And even during the nasty parts or the downers of my life, it was always there as an undergirding beingness.
Rick: Yeah. I’m sure it is. That’s what most people say about spiritual awakenings is that when they happen they can be quite flashy or dramatic or interesting or whatever, but after a while one returns to normalcy and yet something has been kind of incorporated or integrated and so you actually might be living the same state and yet it doesn’t seem unusual, you just take it for granted because it’s become part and parcel of your ordinary functioning.
Jean: Well it allowed me to continue to see this in other people.
Jean: And I mean if I have any gift at all, that is it, to see the God in hiding, to see that this is part of the great unity and even though they’re behaving terribly, to continue to see them and then create processes, ideas, interactions that would be able to evoke this essence, this primordial essence that we all contain and to see it. It’s its own unique, remarkable, strange reflection that is there, a reflection.
Rick: Yeah, there’s a line in the Gita about the sage being able to see the self in all beings and all beings in the self.
Jean: Yes, yes.
Rick: Yeah oh nice. So going from the sublime to the mundane again, we can keep swinging back and forth. So your father was a writer for the Hope Show.
Jean: Yes, and Burns and Allen and Fibber McGee and Molly and all of it.
Rick: And Abbott and Costello, I think. Didn’t you say he wrote Who’s on First?
Jean: All right, this is what he did. He was with Abbott and Costello when they were in Vaudeville and that bit actually began as a Vaudeville piece and then my father was also working on the movie in which it occurred, which was in 1941, a baseball movie. And my father claimed to have written the joke, which I think he did, but when you look at the joke itself, it’s Talmudic. It’s a Jewish joke, it really is. So I think it was my father and two Jewish guys, because I think they claim it also. So it really was. And a lot of the jokes that came out of Hollywood, especially in the ’60s, you had a few non-Jewish writers and you had a lot of Jewish writers, because comedy was a sort of a Jewish cottage industry then and even now. So that’s what I really think it was.
Rick: It’s true, for some reason a lot of comedians seem to be Jewish. It’s like, you know, for a culture that has actually seen more than its share of tragedy, they seem to have an edge in terms of comedy, and maybe there’s a connection there.
Jean: Well, when you look at the way that you study Torah with a whole group of guys, and you take that same group of guys studying Torah and Davening and trying to work to incite the admiration of the rabbi, it is very similar to what would happen, let’s say, in the old RCA building, where you have the same guys 50 years later trying to get a smile out of Sid Caesar or something like that, so they have the same parallel. But when you look at rabbinical work with the Torah and the interaction of the young students, it’s very similar to what happens in the comedy.
Rick: Interesting. Now, don’t forget as we go along, anything that pops into your head, feel free to take us off on a tangent and we’ll do that, but meanwhile I’ll just keep leading us through some points that have jumped out at me. One was, I thought it was an interesting story you told about Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, where he was in a hotel room and you kind of came up behind him without his knowing it and overheard him interacting with his dummy. Go ahead, tell us that one.
Jean: Well, yeah, Dad was writing for Edgar Bergen at that time and he would take me everywhere. He said, “Hey kid, you want to go talk to Charlie?” Charlie was the little mannequin, the little puppet, and I loved to do that because Bergen would then, you know, interact with me through the puppet and we would have to say funny things to each other and I loved doing that. So we went up to the hotel room and he didn’t hear us, but he was talking to Charlie, Edgar Bergen was talking to Charlie with great intensity and fascination because he was asking Charlie ultimate questions. “Charlie, what is the nature of love? What is faith? What does it mean to be a full human being? What is the difference between mind and reality? Why do I feel separate?” And this little dummy with his little clacking jaw, Charles would say, “Wow, Bergen!” And the wisdom of millennia would pour out of his little clacking jaw and we could actually see we were sitting, he was sort of catty corner to us and what we could see was Bergen’s mouth more of a “mmm rrr mmmm” you know?
Rick: Being a ventriloquist, he wasn’t moving his mouth, yeah.
Jean: And yet his eyes, and his eyes filled with astonishment and my father, the agnostic Baptist, couldn’t stand it and he coughed and Bergen turned around and said, “Oh Jack, you’ve caught us!” “Yeah, Ed, what in the world are you doing when I’m talking to Charlie? He’s the wisest person I know.” “Yeah, but that’s you, that’s your mind coming out of that cockamamie dummy’s mouth.” “I know, I know, but you know when I ask him these questions and he answers, I haven’t got the faintest idea of what he’s going to say and what he says astounds me with his brilliance, it’s so much more than I know.” Whoa! I could feel, I could feel my future walking across my mind at that point.
Jean: So much more than what we are, we contain so much more than what we know and then when you study the nature of the depths of the human psyche as well as what we now know about the way that we are intertwined with the unity of that means the all-knowingness of the universe, that we have so many levels and layers that are so much more than we know from our historical existence, that in a sense put me on the path.
Rick: Yeah, I’ll bet you’ve had that experience thousands of times when you’ve been up speaking in front of groups where something will come out of your mouth and you’ll think, “Where did that come from?”
Jean: Where did that come from?
Rick: Actually, I think it was in, I don’t remember which of these two books it was in, but I was just reading last night where you were talking about an exercise in which one could sort of go into the mythical level perhaps it was, where resides all the sort of wisdom of the ages and which great inventors and composers and so on have managed to tap into and have actually attributed many of their works to, that one can actually learn, culture the ability to do this.
Jean: I mean so many say, “Whence does it come from?” It is so much more than I’ve ever studied or known. You know, in the classical mystical experience there is a stage which is called voices and visions, where the mystic or the enlightened person or the person who’s in a state of radical creativity just seems to know, begins to experience, and sometimes even discovers things that are much too early in history. Hildegard of Bingen is a superb example, you know, that she’s born in 1098, dies around 1183 or something like that. But what she, music that she composed in some of it was several hundred years ahead of where it should be, especially in the polyphony of the music and ideas that she had for the nature of plants, the nature of psychological states. I mean it’s really extraordinary when you look at Leonardo da Vinci, who pursues states of mind and expression and invention that are hundreds of years ahead of his time. Well, yeah, but we see this all the time. It’s just that those are famous examples, and I, part of my work has been to work with people, Inventors or creative people, and to bring them to a state of awareness in which the thing that they’re looking for is already there. It is as if, you know, they say on earth as it is in heaven. Let us call, let us expand our metaphor of heaven and say that that’s actually the nature of reality itself. I mean obviously there are, you know… if you were now discovering, for example, just in our galaxy alone, how many multiple millions and billions of planets of which at least 10% of the stars, in which habitable planets. You know, and that we are, you know, we are on a medium-sized star and an outer wing of this particular galaxy, I think that’s where they put the Skunk Works. You put your regular, you put your regular businesses on the highway and then back you know the lower 40, you have the place your experimental lab and it’s almost like this is a laboratory. This is God’s school. We have enough sufficiency of chaos and consciousness and complexity to warrant this being a place where we God’s seeds, filled with enormous levels of yearning, are reaching for something more which is what I would call speciation, you know, the emergence of the next stages. But it always seems to occur if you look at history, it’s always in times of levels of trauma and chaos that sets the fire that is hot enough within us that we begin to go beyond our local history and our local selves and begin to move into something else. That’s why so many people feel a call and they don’t know what, but we’re in calling times. That’s why the Hero’s Journey, you know, which Joe Campbell and I did, well we did a number of seminars together, he said, but this is something that we were always looking at. We did have one big fight because the call is the first part of the Hero’s Journey and he didn’t seem to give much credence to a heroine’s journey, you know, good old 1920s Irishman that he was, even Catholic, and I would talk about the heroine’s journey, he says, well you do it then. I’ve done enough on the hero’s journey and I think what we’re seeing around the world now is a quickening of the understanding of the heroine’s journey. So that’s why I wrote that book, The Wizard of Us, because it’s a classical heroine’s journey and it differs from the hero’s journey because what does she do that the hero often does not do? She stops along the way and she helps people or beings, you know, she takes the scarecrow down from his pole and says, join us, join us, and helps him discover that, boy, not only does he have a brain, he’s got a very great intelligence. And with regard to the Tin Man who is caught in his mechanism and is rusted, she oils him and helps him release his true sympathies, the fact that he has, if not a physical heart, he has an enormous emotional genius, and does the same in his own way with the lion and lets him find his courage and his fortitude and his strength and his goodness. So that’s very different, that is the heroine’s journey as opposed to just the young adolescent male trying to find himself, you know, fight himself past his obstructions and his high hormone problems. There’s many other things.
Rick: There are about half a dozen points in there that I’d love to expand on with you, but I think maybe I’ll choose the one of… let me put it this way, a lot of people these days obviously are interested in spirituality and awakening and enlightenment, whatever we want to call it, but I think a lot of times it gets sort of dumbed down a little bit. People think of it in terms of, well, you kind of realize your essential nature which is unbounded and pure awareness and in doing so you realize that you are not a person, that you are just this sort of absolute level and that the world is illusory and not worthy of very serious consideration and you’re done. And you know, I think you have a much more nuanced and rich perspective on the whole thing, that this pure absolute or whatever we want to call it, our true nature is not just some plain vanilla field but is a vast repository of all the intelligence, energy and creativity that we see expressing itself in the universe with all its diversity and amazing qualities and that one can sort of be a co- participant or co-creator in that creative process by tapping into that. Is that a fair assessment of the way you would see things?
Jean: Yes, and to start at the basic level of that, we are not encapsulated bags of skin dragging around a dreary little ego. We are organism environment, we are symbiotic with the whole and you know, it’s not just great spiritual wizards who have said that and you find it in the most ancient of literatures but you certainly find it also in the new physics that seems to give a new level of metaphor and credence to that. I mean, to give you an example, I have never met a stupid child. I’ve met incredibly system and reductionist, mind and spirit reductionist forms of education because a child is already a beingness of wonders and how to keep the wonder factor going, that’s why you know when I’ve one of the things that I’ve done with when I was working with UNICEF and even with the UNDP, the United Nations, you know, forms of development, you know, it’s the big developmental part of it, the UNDP. I did help try to shift schools around the world, especially you know in countries where the British imperialism had any foot in British type schools which were really pretty terrible. Schools that the Brits themselves had abandoned a hundred years before but realizing putting in schools and where art is central to the curriculum as a child dances and sings and emotes and feels information in multiple ways, the whole body mind, the whole mind of the whole child and there and we find the children do not fail if they’re acting information, if they’re sculpting it, if they are singing it and dancing it and I’ve done many many studies on this and then you find that the teachers get interested too and the kids start with going to school and loving school because it is school becomes an evolutionary quickening and not the place where one is contained and constrained within very limited Western notions of what the mind is, which is not true.
Rick: So I think you wrote a book called The Possible Human or something like that, right?
Jean: Yeah, it was something like that, it was called The Possible Human.
Rick: Yeah, and so please describe what you think a human being living his or her full potential would be like and then a second question from that would be you know what would a world be like that was comprised of such people?
Jean: Well I think that they would have a natural joyousness, that’s first I think that they would have very rich, I think they do, it’s not what I think, I think it’s what they do, you have access to acute sensory awareness, not just the five senses but probably eight or nine other ones beyond there, but you would also have them within yourself, what are called the interior proprioceptors, so that you would experience inner music, inner touch, inner feeling and thus you could drop in an idea, any idea, and the idea would then take on a kind of virtual reality, fullness. I mean when I have studied 55 of some of the most creative people in North America and among my research subject was Bucky Fuller whose last design I live in, the house that he designed.
Rick: Yeah, your house.
Jean: Yeah, Bucky Fuller, Margaret Mead, you know, who worked with me, we worked together for the last six years of her life, she could essentially live with us part of the time. Here come more dogs.
Rick: Yeah, we’re letting them in.
Jean: Joseph Campbell, I mean, and many people whose names you do not know, but who had pushed the membrane of the possible in terms of their own live. They were, in all cases they were fascinated by their own minds and they were spelunkers in the caves of their own creativity and they just used much more of themselves, so they were imaginative. Imagination is very important because imagination takes us into the realm of the imaginal, the coded potencies of knowledge, of understanding that is there beneath the surface crust of consciousness and therein they use their minds and bodies in very different ways, which I teach people how to do so that you do tap into the not just the ground of your being but into the depths of beingness itself which lies beyond your everyday local use. We expand use, you know, and it just occurred to me when I asked Margaret Mead, what would you like on your tombstone? She said something fascinating. She said, “she lived long enough to be of some use”, and I thought, boy, that’s what I want on my tombstone. But it was also that she used in the best possible way so much more of herself and just didn’t just put it on the shelf like most of us do, and she remained in many ways childlike. And I found this true with Joe Campbell, you know, maybe not child but certainly adolescent in some ways, and his joyousness and his just bliss. We would walk together in nature, I remember, and he was happy, happy, just celebrating the sheer vivid gorgeousness of life. So that’s part of it also. So I would say that they have, their inner life is as rich as their outer life, in fact even richer, and thus they have access to levels and depths of consciousness that allow them to commune not just with, let’s say, the infinite inside, but to commune with the great archetypal and symbolic structures that themselves are part of this codedness that we have access to, which we’re referring to as the imaginal realm. Not imaginary, but the imaginal realm. And that imaginal realm, and it’s very close to what Plato called the eidos, the divine ideas that we all contain, and that’s what also sustains and feeds their creativity.
Rick: So if you had to guess, if you had to guess what percentage of the population would you say are actually functioning like that these days now, out of this set eight billion or so people on the planet?
Jean: I have no idea.
Rick: But I mean like 1%, half a percent, 10%?
Jean: I don’t know, I mean let’s put it this way, in with all these countries and different cultures that I’ve visited and some cases lived with, I find that when they are in different states, whether they are in ritual states or dance states or states of celebration, I would say that it’s a very high percentage. When they go back to everyday ordinariness, it then shrinks. So it’s not what is the percentage, it’s just what is rising and falling. Everybody who’s watching this or listening to this knows that they have been in these states where suddenly they are the knower of the knowledge and the knowing, they are the dancer of the dancing and the danced. They are the joke, the laughter, and the laughter itself. It just all comes together and we all have access to that. So I would say sometimes it’s 50% of the human race, sometimes it’s… I can’t put that, it depends on where you are or where you agree to be and the great practice of joy, joy seems to be key here to that opening.
Rick: I think Gallup has done polls which indicate that quite a significant percentage of the population has had glimpses of the kind of thing you’re talking about. And so the question is how to make it more than a glimpse. And I guess the question there is, what is it that suppresses or prevents it from being more than a glimpse? Why don’t we function this way all the time and what can we do on a mass scale to be able to do that?
Jean: Now we’re cooking with gas, okay. All right, one of the things that I’m doing as chairman of the Palace, you know.
Rick: Yeah, explain what the Palace is.
Jean: Well, the Palace is one of the great movie houses built in 1929, you know, before they stopped doing that. And 3600 seats and a place of a great deal of celebration, art, as well as movies. And now we continue to do that. It occupies all of 175th Street and Broadway. I’ll be there in the next few days. But I have a kind of meta-sangha, you know, sanghas, a meeting of communal minds. And in it are Lynne McTaggart, Duane Elgin, the physicist, you get the idea.
Rick: Yeah, I’ve interviewed Duane.
Jean: And we meet often every week and we discuss the new physics and the emerging spirituality. One of our members is Lynne McTaggart, who wrote The Field, The Bond, and now The Power of Eight, The Intention Experiment, you know, what happens when you bring people together in intention. And she has gotten phenomenal results, especially with regard to healing. I mean, I belong to a circle here in Ashland, we meet every Monday night when we’re around, and we help people who have healing issues, you know, and the healing doesn’t have to be just in the body, though often it is, it could be in the mind or in their sense of limitation. And we see people open up, open up, open up. I mean, a good friend of mine who was just riddled with cancer is no longer riddled with cancer. He was preparing his death, he gave everything away, and now I just had dinner with him the other night, and he was in an extraordinary state of ebullience and abundant healthiness. I mean, we’ve seen this so much. So I said to Lynn and my group, I said, and at the Palace also, let us, because we then take our discoveries and we bring it in, present it to very large audiences. I said, let’s do it with hundreds of thousands of people. Because Lynn and I had also, it was her project that I helped in it, bringing Israelis and Palestinians to really reach across, to really see each other and people of the Arab Emirate to really see and touch each other by Zoom and live stream. We’ve done that. And then to try to raise the level of peacefulness in Jerusalem. And in fact, after that, we did see this. But now I said, let’s do it as a great joyous lifting of spirit around the world. And we’ll do it in early 2019, in the spring. And we will have this great collective of hundreds of thousands of people tuning in and with the intention of lifting the human spirit, lifting the cadence of joy. We’re going to do that. We have the technology to do that. And also everybody will be able to see a lot of everybody else because they will be live streaming. I’m doing a lot of this now. Okay. And then have regular follow-throughs of continued connection, but also in spirit, spirited, spirited communion, if you will. But also knowing that this already brings with it a spiritual momentum, doesn’t it? And then what is the follow-through? Is the follow-through some of the things that I do because I’ve created a field called social artistry, human development in the light of social change, and the inner development, and the psychological development, and the spiritual development that seems to be necessary to allow a human being in their lifetime to achieve a whole new level of understanding, celebrating, creating with their humanness, and then very real things that they can do, whether it is the sustainable millennium development goals, but very real things that they can do in their lives to make the difference, to let them become the difference that makes the difference, so this becomes a worldwide form. This is galloping chutzpah at its best.
Rick: Some people are pretty pessimistic about the prospects of the human race. I mean there’s an environmentalist or ecologist named Guy McPherson who feels like, “We’re cooked, we’re done and maybe we have a decade left before everybody dies,” and I don’t get the sense that you are pessimistic, but then if you actually look at his facts, there’s some pretty serious things that could happen, you know, methane releasing and all kinds of things, so how do you think it’s going to turn around if it does?
Jean: I mean you use the metaphor, you said we’re cooked, and at one level that’s if you look at just the logic of it you would have to say, as we’re going now, by the end of the century there’ll be a hundred and fifty million humans left who will look awful and will be tripping over abandoned electronic appliances. I mean yes, that’s a metaphor and it’s a very, it’s the kind of metaphor that appears, that appeals to the very old brain, the old reptilian amphibian that is trying to keep us safe but is scared all the time. I think, yes at one level that would be true, but then I say, but what else can we cook up? So I’m trying to find ways of cooking up the human potential, the human capacity, the human… the fact is I don’t think that a 13.8 billion year experiment that possibly began with a Big Bang has, at least in our world, is ready to just sort of finish with us, the experiment of the humans being over. I don’t think that that’s true and I don’t think it necessarily has to do with running off to other planets, or that part of it, maybe so. No, I think that we have barely begun to tap into our higher usefulness and our higher use. I just refuse to believe that. That’s why I’m looking for what is the moment that would activate the human spirit to begin to act, not in these crazy giving up ways. The devolution that we’re seeing, is part of our loss of faith in ourselves and the loss of our beliefs. But because we have no lure of becoming, the old stories are over, or they’ve dropped out. Now we either have to have the regeneration of the story or the whole new story as not only a your own unique story, but a collective story coming back into time, and that’s what I’m looking for. And there are factors and there are all kinds of factors that are rising up that speak to that. One of the most important, I believe. Now remember, since 1958 I’ve been traveling quite constantly over the planet. We’ve seen so many societies, seen their myths, their stories, their creation myths. We’re in the midst of a new creation. A new creation always is preceded by a dissolution. We’re in the time of big time dissolution, aren’t we? But we’re also in the time of re-creation. What do we see that’s unique? The rise of women all over the world to full partnership with men in the whole domain of not just the human agenda, but the life agenda itself. With women the emphasis is on process rather than on product, on making things cohere and develop and grow. That’s one thing. Another is, yes, the technology which can be used for absolute ill or deep goodness and people being able to connect. Once you can connect in one way, let’s say technologically, then the connection becomes something more than just the technology or the technique. It becomes, it is already a meta-level. It is a meta-physical level within ourselves and between us that is also arising all over the earth. In my walks with Teilhard de Chardin in the was seeing and we would talk about that. I was 14 years old and he would say, “Oh Jeanne, the people of your time will be taking the tiller of the world, but you cannot go directly. You have to touch every culture, every people.” And that has been possible. Now we’re not necessarily using it wisely, but all over the world people are looking for ways of wisdom for the great communion, the great connectivity and not the following one madman or one leader on a horse. But to follow instead some kind of instinctive presence, a presencing that is happening, I find it everywhere. But I do find it quite frankly around the world, not just because I’m a woman, but among women. It’s because with women I said the emphasis on process and continuity and making things live and grow. And this then you see is releasing men to be what they can be, instead of following in the ancient patriarchal traditions. Some new traditions, new possibilities, a whole new world. And it’s there brimming and we get pictures of it from all over. And just seeing it bubble. In the days that we’re doing this now we’ve just had an extraordinary funeral that I just watched on television with John McCain, who represents both the patriarchy and his moving away from it in his own life in interesting ways. And then there’s Aretha Franklin, who could sing, she had a gospel voice and she would sing the spirit into whatever was the subject that she was singing about, whether it was on respect or thinking. But these are aspects of these different sides of this arising energy. Don’t you find it in your life?
Rick: Yeah. I’ve always felt that, well firstly personally I’ve often felt like an instrument of the Divine, and I think you feel that way too, that there’s something larger that sort of governs my life. And you know sometimes people say about this show for instance, “Oh it’s such a wonderful thing you’re doing,” and I have to do a double-take, I think, “Am I doing anything? What am I doing?” And I just feel like there’s… and if we kind of extrapolate out to the world at large, I don’t think that anything ever gets accomplished merely by human effort, because I think that as we were saying earlier, humans derive their inspiration and intelligence and ability from something much deeper, which we all share, and that something deeper seems to be kind of rising up now or becoming enlivened, you know. And it’s like if the ground of a forest becomes much more fertile somehow, then all the plants just begin to thrive, and maybe weeds or noxious things that thrive better in infertile soil begin to die. So I kind of feel that there’s a big shift, as you were saying just now, and a lot of things are dying, structures and systems and ways of thinking that are no longer really sustainable, and that a lot of other things are emerging and beginning to flourish, and that it’s exciting to watch it happen. And it’s not necessarily obvious to most people that it is happening, and some people may be feeling like all hell’s breaking loose and we’re all going to perish, but if you can see the signs, I think that something good is happening.
Jean: Well, this is what I see all over the earth, and you do see the breakdowns. I mean, Mrs. Roosevelt, who I did know in my mid-teens, because I was president of my high school in New York City, Julia Richmond, and she was gathering we, those of us who were heads of our general organizations, to get us interested in the United Nations and international affairs, and she used words like wands. You know, she would evoke in us in our, you know, our well-earned adolescent skepticism, she would invoke in us the power of the beauty of possibility and being part of the transformations of our time. And one day she turned to me and she said, vaguely imitated, she said, “My dear, I rather suspect we’re going to have the most interesting career, but remember, my dear, as a professional woman you can expect to be trashed.” She didn’t use the word trash, but it was something like that, I just don’t remember what it was. And then she said, “But remember too, my dear, a woman is just like a tea bag. You put her in hot water and she just gets stronger.” And I have found that to be true. And this is something else that I find, again, all over the world, the rising energy of women of courage who are getting stronger. They do not make the front page of the newspaper. People say, “Oh, that poor little woman.” But that poor little woman is out there with a lot of weather. And they are keeping the race going. They’re keeping the energy and the new programs. Wherever I go, women, especially women of a certain age, it’s like post-menopausal zest. They’re out there and they’re calling in the projects and they are bringing things. They’re following the sequences of making things happen. And they are trying to help the men to also have a new order of a sense of possibilities. And I find this in women scientists too. You find that it is the men scientists who are talking about the decline, the end, and forget about it, we’re out of here. And it is the women who are writing a very different kind of science with the warnings. Yes, I mean they’re not unrealistic, but also this is what we can do and let us do it. It’s not only what we can do, let’s do it. And when you look at the writings of somebody like Hazel Henderson, do you know who she is? You’re in for a big surprise. She’s probably one of the greatest creative economists of this time. And I’ll put you in touch with her. But the way she works with economics to create whole new orders, new ways of being, new new possibilities, and really as a guide to a new kind of world, she is almost unparalleled. Look at Monica Sharma. You know who Monica Sharma is?
Rick: Oh, I’m a dummy. I’m afraid I’m wrong. I know who Vandana Shiva is if you’re going to mention her.
Jean: Monica Sharma is probably one of the most brilliant people alive today. She was head of the whole AIDS thing for the United Nations and knows how to take a small experimental group and go to scale that then affects hundreds of millions of people as she did with the UN with the AIDS and HIV/AIDS crisis, among many other kinds of things that she does. She goes back and forth between India and the States and wrote a very great book on transformational leadership. Monica Sharma. It’s a dense book but it is filled with brilliant, brilliant ideas how to make a much better world that works. And this is what I’m finding. Now I’m just saying that I am noticing, and I can’t help but notice, that the men are giving us all the signs of it’s the end, it’s closing time, it’s closing time. Just like I believe it is. T.S. Eliot, what is it in? Samson Agonistes, where he writes they’re at the bar and they say it’s closing time. But the whole point of closing time, it is closing time of the old story, but it’s also opening time for a whole new story. And a lot of creative people, women and some very good men, are really coming together and opening this new story. And so in our own ways we are very fortunate to be living in ending times, closing times and opening times. It’s like being at the end, caught in the abyss, caught in the great parenthesis, the end of one era, not quite the beginning of new one, but leaping across and our fingernails holding on, you know, to the earth and the rocks of the next order. But we have to invent it, we need to create the lure of becoming, what does the possible society look like? And part of my job is to help create the possible human who then has the wherewithal to be able to tell the new story and to have the passion for the possible, the passion of the follow-through and do what is absolutely needed to make this happen.
Rick: Yeah, in just about every talk and interview I’ve heard you give, you’ve said other times thought they were it, they were wrong. And I mean one might argue, okay yeah, but the Civil War was no picnic or World War I or World War II and so on, those might have seemed like it. So I think I could answer this question but I would rather hear you do it. What is it about our time now that is it and what do you mean by it? I know you’ve kind of just been saying it but let’s just poke at it a little bit more.
Jean: It’s worldwide… It’s worldwide, everybody’s involved, nobody is innocent of our time, that’s number one, that’s the big thing, it is global, it’s this little planet, this beautiful blue and green silver planet floating in the womb of the cosmos, you know, and that looks, you know, I helped an astronaut remember what he saw when he was Ed Mitchell, was out there and one of the things he said is that you go out there and you look at the Earth and he had the music of Camelot coming on, you know, the Optimal Society Camelot and there she is, this beautiful planet and there was no division and there were no wars seen and it was this great, incredible, beautiful beingness and when we saw something happen in us, when we saw our earth from outer space and we realized that we were part of this incredible majesty, beauty, a beauty that beyond almost anything that one could imagine and that we were then became responsible – response able – to really make the difference and so he went up there an astronaut and he came back a psychonaut devoted to inner space and created the Institute of Noetic Sciences. He was a good friend of mine and I admired him enormously and his courage and his stick-to-it-ness. But the thing is, your question really is about being at the end of one time and the beginning of a new time and everybody I know at some point in their life feels this call. It’s like the hound have been going, you know, at the heels in the morning, “God’s sake stupid wake up!” I get it every morning. Like my Sicilian grandmother saying, “Hey stupida!” You hear that kind of thing, “Get up and do what you can do and what you have to do.” But the thing is that by oneself and just reading the news over and over again, it’s a kind of poisoning and it again affects that old reptilian amphibian brain that is trying to be super protective and feared. And how do we create again joyous interactions and communities, but we do need something that we are thinking forward. How do we think ourselves forward to a world that works? And that’s why I helped in this whole field called social artistry in which you really do the work on yourself. You have to do the work on yourself. You do understand the powers of inner contemplation, the powers of what healing is. We’re built for healing. That’s part of our modus vivendi. We are built for healing. And I don’t mean healing like, you know, preemptive wars. That’s being a healing force. It’s never worked. But healing in which you really see the possibility in the other and the possibilities in the society. And not being told how, but to really begin not redemption, but evolution. Not salvation, but co-creation. The Buddhists talk about interdependent co-arising, don’t they? And as we think of things, those energies are also being thought by the universe herself. And once we can bring this together, there are, just like they were for Hildegard and some of the people in the Renaissance, there have been many kinds of renaissances, where we suddenly become startlingly awake to new ways of being, to passionate possibilities in our own field or wherever we are. And we do what we can. We do what we can, wherever and however we are. In my own life, yes, I work on giant projects, but I also work locally and just various things that I can do, whether it’s on the, well, for example, I’m a serious foodie. I mean, I have two very big talents. One is I can talk to any dog and the other is I’m a decent cook, a good cook, because my mother, Maria Annunciata Seraphina Graziella, would cook Italian food. My father from Texas didn’t understand it, and so in order to keep them together, I became the world’s first fusion cook, making chicken fried polenta, you know. But I’m always looking for ways to cook up new possibilities. When I knew Buckminster Fuller and I came complaining about something, he said, “Oh, Jean, don’t complain. Build a better model.” And that’s it. What is the better models that we can really build wherever we are, with whatever we’re doing? Whether it is something I’m very interested in, the co-op movement, you know, in grocers. We have one of the… in Ashland, Oregon, we have one of the great, great food cooperatives. Whether it’s the co-op movement or whether it is what a friend of mine who then used some of my work and became mayor of the town, and then she went on and became the president of all the mayors in America. But finding ways of crossing the great divide of otherness in a time of so much exchange and diversity, for which very few of us have been prepared for levels of diversity. Before it was just a few diverse people. Now it is all of us thrust into this great cocoon of co-creation and interdependence that we have never been prepared for. That’s part of our problem. What do we do in education? What do we do in education? I wrote all kinds of books about this sort of thing. How do we, as I say, cross the great divide of otherness starting in schools so that we can see the essence, the brilliance, the imagination, the dance, the food, that’s the big one, the singing, the different cultural styles of each other and be stunned and awakened by joy at this great difference instead of seeing the other as that which is to be feared. Because that’s what has brought us to a lot of our problems. The world has accelerated it. The ways of being have accelerated so fast that many people have been, you know, turned on by the ones who are the soldiers of fear, the con men of fear, because it’s exciting and it appears to our, what should we say, our reptile with pity of brain, but it also appears, it appeals to the negative story which gives us a thrill. It’s like watching a horror movie. But now, what is the other movie? What is the other story? We are in a virtual reality in which we are co-creators with not just infinity but with each other, but to do that we have to tap into the ability to see the other as containing so much more and thus reflecting this back and forth. That’s the new orders of relationship. The new orders between men and women. Everybody’s very confused. Because it is standards in the forms of thousands of years. Suddenly the page of history, the page of relationship, the page of creativity has been turned and there isn’t necessarily a manual that tells us how to or where to. And that’s why we try to be determined through old manuals, which have their problems.
Rick: One thing that comes to mind as you’re speaking is that I’m reminded again of your story of praying in front of Chickie’s closet when you were six. And you know there’s that verse in the Bible, you know, “Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened.” One thing I’ve observed many, many times is that when people have an earnest intention to awaken, to realize more, to do something then nature responds, you know. It’s like it’s as if the gods say, “Hey boys, we got a live one here, let’s give him some juice.” So I mean if people are wondering, “How can I get as enthusiastic as Jean? How can I be so optimistic? How can I be so productive?” I would say, you know, whatever lights your fire, you know, just put your energy in that direction because that to which we give our attention grows stronger in your life. So you know, whatever inspires you, whatever if you want to meditate, if you want to you know, whatever really gets you going, put your attention there. And you could probably quote, Goethe said something wonderful about how if you just sort of start in that direction then all sorts of unexpected and unforeseen influences come to your aid, but you just have to start and just have to persist and then things tend to keep, you build a momentum and you get the wind of the Divine intelligence in your sails, you know, to throw in a few metaphors.
Jean: “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp for what’s a metaphor.”
Rick: Yeah, good one.
Jean: No, I find the wind in the sails, we are interdependent, is it? And as the Buddhists say, interdependent co-arising, and as you begin to create this energetic momentum to the doing of something, then you are carried, then the universe says, “As a hot dog, we got a live one there,” and you just discover that you are in a state of co-creation, and the so-called miraculous happens. Miracles are merely the activation of more patterns of reality than we normally allow ourselves to see, and the miraculous becomes an everyday thing, whether it’s a phone call, the right person, everything we have to remember is really interconnected, and if we become passionate in one or more kinds of things, then that passion creates collegiality, companionship, relationship, and all these things are interconnected. I mean, we are bonded electrons, if you will, very large bonded electrons with each other, just like showing that one bonded electron is in sync with another one, so if it turns right, the other one turns right, turns left, the other turns left, the work of John Mueller.
Rick: The complementarity, I think it is.
Jean: The complementarity of it all, yeah. That’s why the New Physics is providing us with wonderful, not just physical, but psychological and spiritual metaphors. It is a fractal, the new physics is a fractal of the wisdom of sages over millennia.
Jean: All of this has come, so we are a great big unity.
Rick: And one of its metaphors is that of the phase transition, where like in a laser for instance, if you get square root of 1% of the photons to entrain, then the rest of them sort of join in and you have this coherent beam. So applying that to society, we don’t know how close we may be to actually a rather sudden and dramatic shift once we reach the hundredth monkey level of coherence.
Jean: Well, what I see around the world and in so many different groups as well, I mean is I see people becoming part of the coherent beam that is very very different from what you get as the news on the internet or on television or whatever. But people are looking for the negatives in the coherent beam, they’re not looking for the creative forms that are part of our daily life.
Rick: Yeah. One thing you’ve come back to several times… I’m sorry, go ahead.
Jean: No, go ahead.
Rick: One of the things you’ve come back to several times is the role of women. I was listening to something just this morning about this group of women in some African country where there had been continuous warfare and it was ruining the whole economy and society and making it hell for everybody and women got fed up. And somehow or other the men were in this hotel conferring with each other about trying to reach some kind of solution, but they’re for the first time in a while being fed well and in a comfortable place and all, they’re really enjoying it, so they were in no rush whatsoever to reach any kind of resolution. And so a whole group of women encircled the hotel and joined arms and said, “We’re not going to let these men leave this place or even let any food in until they reach some kind of solution.” And men tried to break their little line, they wouldn’t let them through. And so they ended up reaching a solution in about 24 hours. So what is it you feel… I mean I think this probably reflects something deeper in the collective consciousness of humanity that where men, the society has been patriarchal for so long and perhaps we could blame a lot of the life-threatening problems that plague the world on that patriarchal mentality. And maybe something is shifting in the collective consciousness now that is resetting the balance and perhaps not to become a matriarchal society but to be a balanced society. So go ahead and elaborate on that if you would.
Jean: Well what would a balanced society look like?
Rick: Good question.
Jean: And that’s something that we’ve been wonderfully invented novels about that. What was his name? Ernest Callenbach. He wrote a book called “Ecotopia.” This was about 30-40 years ago where you had a balanced society. And it was truly pretty funny because the women ran the governments and the men were all artists and musicians and painters and they were very creative. So it allowed men another bench for their efforts. But do look at that, “Ecotopia” probably came out in the 70s I believe. But I think the important thing is that we are the ones who are inventing the balance. Now I’ve been seeing little stories popping up many many years. Give you an example. In 1991 I was in India, South India, and I was in a village where every Sunday they put up the television set, the old Brahmin lady owned it, in the tree and people came in, they tied up their water buffaloes and they came in and sat down and watched something that all of India was watching at the time, which were the many episodes of the Ramayana.
Rick: Yeah, by Ramanand Sagar I believe the guy’s name was. I watched the whole thing.
Jean: You did? Yeah. So it was very beautiful.
Rick: It was great.
Jean: And on Sunday they would come in, they watched this great story of the story of Rama and Sita and how they had lost their kingdom and went to live for what was it, for 12 or 14 years in the forest, the idol, and then Sita is abducted by Ravana, coming in from Sri Lanka, the Ravana of ten heads and then the great war to bring her back etc. Well it was so beautiful, it was just gorgeous. The sets, the costumes, the singing, the music, the dancing, the glory of the words. And as I was sitting there in a state of marvels, saying, “Boy, I wish we had something like this in the United States.” The old woman lady turned to me and she said, “Oh, I do not like Princess Sita, she is much too passive. Too much passive, very passive, very bad. You know, she just sits there crying and waiting for Rama to come and rescue her. It’s a very bad example. We live in India, we are much stronger than that, we have to change the story”. I said, “Madam, the story is at least three or four thousand years old.” “That’s right, it’s too old, we have to change the story. It’s a very bad example, we are much stronger than that”. And then she was having a conversation with all these people, mostly farmers sitting on the ground watching this, and they were all laughing and they were putting in new ideas. And I thought, “My God, this is like watching the rewriting of the Bible in a small town in Mississippi.” And I was just absolutely shocked. And she looked at me and she said, “Listen, don’t be so shocked, you know, this is the rise of women, this is the rise of women, you have to realize this is going to happen all over the world, you’re seeing it happen in India, it happened in India, it happened everywhere.” And then it came to the end and there was a commercial, and then what came on, but Dynasty. Boy, was I embarrassed. Oh, she said, “Don’t be embarrassed, don’t you see, it is the same story.” I said, “How can you say it?” “It’s the bad man, it’s the good man, it’s the bad lady, good lady, but beautiful clothes flying through the air, good versus evil, yes indeed, it is the same story.” So here downloaded by the satellite is Dynasty following upon this extraordinary ancient story and it was really also about the need for the rise of women to stop the pattern of the warfare. And what she was saying, it is the same story, it is the same story. So this is part of the myth, there is a new myth rising, we are myth-ing links, we are mythic beings, get beneath the surface crust of consciousness of almost anybody, anywhere, as I’ve tried to do in many places, and you find that we are filled, almost instinctually it comes in with mother’s milk, we are filled with the great stories, it’s part of a deeper part of the collective psyche of the human race. But we were also seeing what I was witnessing there in India in 1991, was the changing of the story.
Rick: I guess the Me Too movement is probably indicative of this changing story that you mentioned. And there are a number of other very helpful signs or hopeful signs that are kind of arising. On the other hand, things are looking a little dark in the political climate. We’ve withdrawn from the Paris Accord and we’re undoing a lot of the progressive environmentally friendly types of legislation that the previous administration introduced. So it almost seems like we’re regressing and progressing at the same time, there’s some kind of tug of war going on here, which is also a famous story in the Indian literature of the gods and demons having a tug of war, using a snake as a rope and I think Mount Meru is the thing that the rope wraps around it. And by doing that they produce nectar out of the cosmic ocean or something. So maybe that’s what’s happening with this polarity, I mean that’s the word you hear on the news all the time, you know, political commentators are saying how polarized we’ve all become and we seem to be becoming more so. So where do you think that is going to end up?
Jean: Well I mean I think the question of the polarity or the divine dialectic that is always between things, that then begins to generate in its polarity a third thing, which is the nature of the dialectic, isn’t it? But there’s polarities in everything, there’s polarities in nature, there’s polarities in biology, there’s polarities in the way the sun…
Jean: Electricity, I mean look at things, polarity comes with reality itself. The point of the polarity is it causes us to go deeper and to generate the next thing, the third thing. And that’s why I think that as the polarity becomes more intense as it is doing now, that what is also trying to arise in sometimes fashionable, sometimes in foolish ways, sometimes even in ways that are so far out we cannot believe that it exists. I mean for example, what is one of the things that is arising in our time all over the world? The belief in other cultures elsewhere.
Rick: In other planets, other galaxies.
Jean: Planets, galaxies or whatever.
Rick: Sure, Star Trek, Star Wars, all that.
Jean: But when you look at the nature of what is the mythic form of our time, it’s science fiction. It’s a major mythic form. So let’s say in the late 19th century Jules Verne is writing about the ships under the sea, the journey to the center of the earth, the going to the moon, yes, that happens. In the 30s and 40s it’s about societies in collapse and breakdown, and Brave New World, 1984, and that happens. In the 1960s, Stranger in a Strange Land, and many, many remarkable stories of societies that are both breaking down but are also breaking through, which is something, the collapse of the regression of societies that then begins to create new societies. The stories of automatons, robots, here come the robots, here come the robots, and here they are. But also what is happening in the big mythic things of our time is societies that have broken down, the end of utopias, the opposite of utopias.
Rick: Dystopias, I suppose you’d say.
Jean: The dystopias, a lot of science fiction, the end of the world and the beginning of societies.
Rick: Blade Runner, things like that.
Jean: Yeah, but also beyond that, the new things that you find nowadays is people, often women by the way, who are out there and on the frontier creating new worlds. Also the going inside to find alternative worlds. It started as fairy lands but now it’s more than fairy lands, it’s evolving, it’s these strange evolving societies, it’s like the Wizard of Oz, which is why it’s so popular now. That you go over the rainbow, you go over, you leave the world as it was into the world that is trying to emerge and that’s the fairy tale stuff. So going into that, what I’m seeing is the new stories are emerging. But they’re always about, not always, but the tyrant who comes, and the very naughty man, who comes, is destructive, is narcissistic, brings the breakdown of the best of the older societies, and then it is followed by, not by a unique individual, but by people coming together and co-creating new orders, new societies. And that’s what I’m seeing in terms of following this pattern, this mythic pattern.
Rick: Having said that, do you have a sense of a timeline? Are we talking election cycles, years, decades, centuries?
Jean: I believe that within the next, let’s say 80 years to the end of this century, we’re going to see much more totality of breakdown, certainly, and then we’re going to see what is already happening, it’s just happening beneath the surface crust of ordinary political or social consciousness. The emergence of new ideas, new ideas for society, new forms of being. I believe that absolutely, from what I’m seeing literally all over the world.
Rick: Yeah, and in case 80 years sounds discouraging to people, because most of us watching this won’t be alive in 80 years, in fact nobody will, watching this, unless they live a long time. You can have heaven on earth now, I mean you can sort of, regardless of what the rest of the world is going through, you can develop a state of experience that pretty much enables you to live in joy and bliss and wonder and creativity and so on. So don’t let the state of the world discourage you. You know, who was it that said it’s a lot easier to put on shoes than it is to pave the earth with leather, so just put on your own spiritual shoes, so to speak.
Jean: That’s right. That’s why you have the rise of so many, not so much spiritual movements, as people seeking the spiritual paths to enter, to bring eternity into time, to bring a larger sensibility of what yet can be. A lot of my work is, as I said, social artistry, human development in the light of social change. I’ve trained many, many people and they go into societies, and these are people of all races, they go into societies that are in difficulty and they work from inside out and they bring very real change. This is happening, you don’t get this on the front pages because it’s hard and deep work, it’s deep work, they’re afraid of the deep work, but the deep work is going on everywhere, and that’s the untold story.
Jean: Because what Sita did in the news story is that she would stop the war and arrange for a whole new order of society, and that’s what the old lady was saying. Sita is stronger than we think, and that’s part of it. The children of all the lands must be honored, that’s what we think. I mean, if one were to just write out every day the good things that they see happening, and then decide which ones are the ones that speak to them to enter into a new order of action, then we start having another world. Yes, we’re going to see very hard times, we have to educate ourselves for that, and that’s probably in community, collective community, one kind or another, but I do see personally that by the end of the century, or maybe even before, we will have a whole new order of global civilization with high individuation of culture. Culture is not becoming less or Americanized or Russianized, but becoming more, because the creative depths are rising.
Rick: That’s a good point, worth touching on for a moment, using that forest metaphor that I used before, in the Amazon for instance, where the ground is very fertile and it gets plenty of rain, it’s not that all the plants become the same, there’s huge diversity and variety, because the ground is so rich and nourishing for the plants. So this kind of world you’re talking about won’t be everybody the same, and thereby somehow unity is created. There can be very deep and profound unity and harmony, and yet simultaneously an even greater diversity and flourishing of culture.
Jean: Yes. We’re undergoing a sea change to something rich and strange, by this meeting of hitherto privately divided and distinguished worlds. We’re at that point of, oh my God, look who’s just come across the border, Ahhhr, wait a minute, look at the richness that is there, what this culture can give us, that we can give this culture. The Western egocentrism is something that has a great deal to answer for, and it is dying by its own weight and narrowness. The center cannot hold, mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the best lack all conviction, and the worst are filled with passionate intensity. What rough beast, his hour come round at last, will slouch into Bethlehem to be born. That’s the rough beast, the emergent new being that is going into a whole new sacred understanding of ourselves and our time. We are in sacred times, and we are born in, this is born in time.
Rick: A couple of brave souls managed to send in a question, even though our live stream wasn’t working today, so let me ask you these, and then if you have the time, there’s some other things I’d like to get into, but if it’s getting a little…
Jean: No, it’s alright.
Rick: Okay, good. So this one is from a fellow named Rahul Kulkarni from Bangalore, and he asks, “How can one overcome or work around the cultural conditioning that heavily color one’s perception and thinking, and which are continually being reinforced by the limiting beliefs and prejudices of that same culture?”
Jean: Well, I think, Rahul – is that his name?
Jean: I think you’ve answered it. You’ve already, you know, you’ve talked about culture, and the culture being inhibited, but at the same time you’re aware, especially in India, of many, many, many, many other kinds of cultures, and it is not only an honoring of these other cultures, but allowing yourself to learn something of them, to learn to eat their foods, which you can certainly do in India, and to dance their dances, and to have real conversations. One of the things that I’ve done in India, because I’m an old India hand in my own way, is, alright, I’ll give you an example. So I was doing something for the Tata Company, which is one of the bureaus in the Tata.
Rick: They make trucks and things over there, right?
Jean: Well, they’re the big, wealthy things, but they had the young, very high-caste, young executives, and were a wonderful group of boys, by the way, I might add, and they said, “What have you been doing?” And I said, “Well, I went to the village over here, and I went into a very simple temple, and I was looking at the statues of the gods, and an old man who had grown up doing the British rules for good English said, “Sir, do you know what those are?” Now, there is Vishnu, and Vishnu, he is the manager, he gets Vishnu read the way it works. There is Brahma, the creator, and over here is Shiva, but it all goes away, and the great fire of the being, it comes back together again. And there is Ganesh, who lifts away all the obstructions, but after all, it is only, what is he saying, it is all name and form, ultimately, ultimately it’s all big one. And I said, “You guys, you’re talking about these people, yes, they’re terrible, they’re just simple peasants, they don’t know anything.” And I said, “Wait a minute, this man just taught me more than I’ve learned from you all week.” Anyway, I arranged for them to meet people of the village, and these very rather elegant, elite, Brahmana or Kshatriya man, high caste people, and from the village they also called in a young boy, eight year old boy, who was a genius on the drum, and he typed out so many intricate rhythms, and then I had them talk to each other about the problems they faced, one who could really, in the elitist group, could not really, he was having a terrible time with Sanskrit, and somebody from the village also talking about things that they were trying to understand in the planting season, because the weather was changing. But anyway, back and forth, back and forth, until we got into the fact of a kind of collective humanity. And the result was, is that they created situations so that they were only good for cleaning toilets, but going into training for management. Yes. And at the same time, then, the little boy teaching, giving them tabla lessons. I mean, I’ve done this kind of thing so often, that it’s just sort of automatic with me, but when you bring, again, you cross the great divide of otherness, and you discover that the other, so-called others, have talents that are part of your hidden talents, that you don’t even recognize, and suddenly you realize that you can play the tabla, or you realize that you have a sense of the orchestration of management. I mean, again, this is what I mean, but it means putting people into situations where this great appreciation exists. And you were saying things earlier, Rick, that essentially what you were saying is that what you appreciate is going to appreciate.
Rick: Yeah, you have to be interesting.
Jean: Yeah, and I try to bring in situations where this kind of co-appreciation can take place.
Rick: Yeah, and there’s a valuable nugget in what you just said, which is that I think in the Western society, we have tended to regard traditional cultures as primitive, and that they don’t really have anything to offer us, and they have a very simplistic understanding of the way the world works and all. And then some people obviously read books like Black Elk Speaks, or they go to Peru and take ayahuasca, and they’re sort of looking into what the so-called primitive cultures may have to offer. But perhaps it’s much, much more than we realize, and perhaps if there were a true flourishing of all cultures, ancient and modern, we’d find that the ancient cultures have as much to offer the so-called modern as the modern cultures do them.
Jean: Yeah, but you know to answer Rahul, it’s a question of getting out of your own limited social sphere.
Jean: Not just visiting, but interacting, eating the food. And now of course I realize that you have a caste system issue, and that you’re going to have to work with yourself. But if people would just say, every week I will do something where I will cross that, I’ll cross the great divide of being another being other, and look for a kind of co-humanity, and generally it is found in the arts. It’s found in arts, it’s found in music, it’s found in the crafts, and above all it’s really seeing the other as the God in hiding.
Rick: I love that phrase, you’ve used it a couple of times. Just on your previous point before I say that, obviously the internet is kind of doing that, I mean it’s spreading everything everywhere. It’s a many-to-many kind of arrangement now as opposed to one-to-many. I wouldn’t have been able to do what I’m doing right here years ago. I would have had to own a television station or a network or something too.
Jean: That’s right.
Rick: Nowadays anybody can do it.
Jean: Now you’re your own network.
Rick: Yeah. But anyway, this thing about God in hiding, I like that phrase, it’ll shift our gears a little bit, and I have another question that came in. And that is that I often like to think that God is hiding in plain sight, because if we look closely at anything, particularly with the aid of science, which science has enabled us to do in terms of looking more microscopically and fundamentally, and with greater understanding of the way things work, we see unbelievable awe-inspiring creativity and intelligence displayed. And when you see that, I wonder how any scientist or heart surgeon or anybody else could be an atheist, because they’re staring at the marvel of intelligence right in the face, so to speak, on a daily basis. And that’s more of a comment than a question, but do you kind of see it that way too? I mean, don’t you feel that the Divine is just sort of shouting at us from every little bug on the sidewalk?
Jean: Yes, but it’s also to cultivate, again what one had in one’s childhood, the capacity to be surprised by joy and to always be in a state of astonishment.
Rick: And perhaps to do that, you go ahead.
Jean: All right, let me give you an example. When I was eight years old, I went to a very great school, PS6, where sometimes they would take groups of us to meet the great elders of the time. We met Helen Keller, and I’ll tell that story in a moment, but we also met Albert Einstein. Einstein was in the habit then of meeting with groups of children, because he found that very intriguing. And so we went there, and he was very sweet. He seemed a little vague, he had a lot of hair. As I recall, he had two different colored socks on, you know, but very sweet. And one of our smart aleck kids, he’s a New York kid, said, “Mr. Einstein, how can we get to be as smart as you?” And he said, “Read fairy tales.” We didn’t like that answer at all. So another smart aleck kid said, “Well, Mr. Einstein, how can we then get to be smarter than you?” He said, “Oh, read more fairy tales.” And which he then turns out, he meant the imagination. And that his strongest quality was not a talent for math, which he really didn’t have. But what he had is it was a huge imaginative capacity, that was his biggest thing. He could glide the light beams, you know, and he could experience the things in his whole body, mind, in such a way that then it could percolate through one of his channels, which was the scientific or the mathematical one. And that taught me so much in the power of imagination. Bring imagination, as I said, you get then back into the imaginal, the great codes of existence, which are happy to rise and meet your imagination, so that you co-create with the universe. So that was one of it. Then we also met Helen Keller. And that was so wonderful, because our teacher, Miss Riley, read to us from Helen Keller’s memoir, where she talked about how for the first, what, for six years of existence, she had no concepts. She was this strange little being, just grabbing food over the table and not really making the connection between words and concepts and things. And Miss Keller grabbed her by the hand and took her out to the ivy-covered pump house and in one hand pumped the cuckoo or something and in the other wrote on her hand, “Water, water, W-A-T-E-R, W-A-T-E-R.” Helen writes, “I stood still, rapt, that word ‘water’ dropped into my mind like the sun in a frozen winter world. And I woke up and I learned the name of 30 things by the end of that day.” So with that we were put on, what bus was it? Was it the Madison Avenue bus or was it, I guess it was the Fifth Avenue bus. And we went to, I think it was 66 or 67th Street. And it was the Cosmopolitan Club, I think it was, as I recall. And Miss Keller, who was a handsome woman, a large woman, quite a handsome woman, she would have probably been in her late 60s at the time. But she spoke to us in this luminous voice of someone who has never heard speech. But we understood her because she had learned to make sounds, you know, by touching the lips. Anyway, it was an interesting voice. And it was like the voice of the ocean or the voice of the whales. It was quite an extraordinary voice. You can hear it sometimes on the YouTube. And they then asked, “Does any child like, would any of your children like to speak to her directly?” And my hand shot up and I didn’t know what I was going to say, but I knew I had to talk to her. I went up and she placed her entire hand on my face. And with the center of her hand, this is what I remember, she read my lips. And with fingers she read my expression, my character, whatever. And I blurted out with a child’s savage honesty, “Why are you so happy?”
Rick: And she could understand that just by feeling your face?
Jean: Yeah, she could. It wasn’t just lips, it wasn’t just like, though there may have been some of that. But I said, “Why are you so happy?” And she laughed and laughed. She said, “My child, it is because I live each day as if I were a child.” “I live each day as if it were my last.” “And life in all its moments is so full of wonder.” I think she said, “Wonder.” And life in all its moments, so full of wonder. Was she damaged? Of course she was not damaged at all. She had rewoven the remaining filaments of her senses into a great net, if you will, and she caught all of reality and that gave her enormous commitment to service, to making a difference, to helping disadvantaged people.
Rick: Wow, that’s such a cool story. My grandmother knew her too. My grandmother went blind and she did Braille before she went blind, and then eventually read Braille because she was blind, but she had some kind of relationship with Helen Keller.
Jean: Well, you know, years later, not so many years later, but I was a Girl Scout. I was a Girl Scout for many, many years, one of the best things that I ever did in my life. And we worked at the lighthouse for the blind in New York City, and I read books for the blind, but I also learned the Braille. And realized it’s not just a different kind of way of knowing, it gives you openness to an entirely different extended reality. It’s very interesting to lose a sense for a while and then all the other senses wake up in an extraordinary way, as they did for Helen Keller. She was brilliant.
Rick: Interesting. Here’s another question that came in, this is from Marty in Kansas City, and hopefully this question will be clear. He says, “What do you see as the relationship between recognized presence and synchronicity? How do you develop them?”
Jean: Well, of course, my old friend Deepak does a lot of work on that. He wrote a very interesting book about it called, “The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire.” In fact, he and I are about to have a long talk about that. So, synchronicity is merely the statement that everything is interconnected. Among the ancient Celtic peoples, it was called the ways of weird. Not weird as we understand it. Hey man, you’re weird. It was nothing like that. The weird was the way of the enormous connectivity of things both seen and unseen, and the way they would come together if you put your mind or your awareness to it, you would see the connections. So, that would have to do with synchronicity. Presencing, I feel, is where you allow your beingness to be filled with the presencing of the unity of it all. And synchronicity is one example of your seeing what it is that is the nature of reality in the first place. And so, things that seemingly are disparate begin to come together. And the presencing is the great unity itself, felt in perhaps an emotional or spiritual way.
Rick: I think Margarita will appreciate that. So, I was wanting to talk with you about Evelyn Underhill’s “Eight Organic Stages.” Do you feel like you’d like to get into that?
Jean: No, I’m fine, but it’s a very long statement. I mean, I could make a short version of it, perhaps.
Rick: Well, let’s spend 10 or 20 minutes on it, if you feel like you can spend that much time.
Jean: And by the way, what kind of doggy do you have?
Rick: We have two of them here. Can we hold up the dogs?
Rick: Yeah, this one. This is the new dog. Okay, this is the new guy. We got him, he was found running loose on the streets, and he’s a Chiweenie, which is a combination of … Yeah, we think. Yeah, Dachshund and Chihuahua. And his name is Theo.
Jean: Theo, hi.
Rick: He’s pretty cute. We’re still kind of potty training him a little bit. He’s young. He’s got his ears back, but his ears are huge. He has these big bat ears.
Jean: I can see that.
Rick: And this one, this is Luna, and I know you had a dog named Luna.
Jean: I did, indeed.
Rick: She is some kind of a … She’s a rescue also. Rescue also, all our dogs have been rescued. She’s some kind of a rat-terrier mix or something. Something. Has a strong hunting instinct. Really smart. Yeah, smart and affectionate, and everybody says how beautiful she is.
Jean: She is very beautiful.
Rick: Yeah, so this is Luna.
Jean: Very, very beautiful. Hello, Luna.
Rick: Okay, now Theo is tangled in my microphone cable, so let me … There, there we go. Good. So, I’m glad you asked that, because we wanted to show you our dogs. Yeah.
Jean: Well, Evelyn Underhill, who was a mystic herself, when she was actually fairly young, she wrote a book called Mysticism. I remember it was perhaps about 10 years before, not even that long, but William James came out with The Varieties of Religious Experience. So, there was an enormous amount of interest, especially in England, America, and France, on the nature of the mystical experience. Again, it’s interesting that all this came out just on the … as Europe was, within a few years, began to plunge into its worst war ever during World War I. So, it’s always the chaos and the cosmos that come together, that rise up at the same time. And she talked about these stages that she had studied. Now, remember that she was a student of Western mysticism primarily, so she didn’t have a great knowledge of the shamanic things, or even of the Eastern forms, because it was around that time that there was the gathering, but not so much the publication of the understandings and the scriptures of the East. There had been some, but not what subsequently happened. Fascinating, it was about the same time that quantum physics rises at the same time as the harvesting of the wisdom traditions of the world. So, both being parallels of each other. Einstein and Joseph Campbell’s own teacher, rising at the same time. Okay, now, her first stage is awakening. You wake up, whether it is, “Whoa!” It’s all one, like what happened to me when I was six years old, five years old. Because that is part of a natural, instinctive part of being. It all makes sense, it is all one great unity. It could be nature mysticism, if you’re sitting at a beach and you see the sparkling of the sea and suddenly you are in a drop, but that drop is all drops and all water everywhere. It could be looking at a person with love and suddenly it is all love. Love is the nature of everything. However it happens, it brings one to a sense of one’s unity with totality. It is the great waking up. And that is often, and she uses the, well, one of the great examples is the Cosmic Consciousness, the books on Cosmic Consciousness, which also came out a little bit before that time, where the man is riding in a coach, this is from the 1880s, 1890s in England, and suddenly everything is fire, everything is the pure light altogether. So you have people writing their own experiences, a lot from early that time. And it’s interesting because it’s also the time that will result in a great deal of war, but it’s also the time of a great deal of transcendent knowledge going parallel at the same time. So you have that and then she follows it with purgation or purification. You say, “Oh, I’ve had this big experience, but I got all this heavy baggage of my dislike and hating, and all the really naughty things that I did in my life.” And it’s purging time. It can take the form as well as Buddha, Siddhartha, Gautama did, of going through all the worst forms of purgation of 6th century India, walking in a squat for miles or eating one little rice a day or a little juju. And he said, “I got so skinny I pressed my belly button and felt my backbone,” and driving himself to near death until he was lying in the waters to try to cool himself off for his last minutes he thought of life and suddenly said, “Why am I doing this? I have just this body to achieve my enlightenment. No! I’m going to sit under this tree until I find enlightenment.” I think it was more complex than that. And so he comes into that state of enlightenment and discovered that his self is also all that there is. And he’s being this as part of the great ones. So, and then in modern days we might call it restorative justice. You may have done some really lousy things and you may have enormous regrets about it or just keep dwelling on the same old, same old in a state of, what should we call it, serial monotony of negative thoughts, you know. And living a serial monotonous life and saying, “I will get out of this.” How? Well, acts of kindness, acts of goodness, restorative justice. And that’s been one of the great forms. And then of course the third state is illumination. Suddenly you are clear and when you’re clear everything becomes light. You are illumined. You might be illumined creatively. You may be illumined with the understanding of the inherent beauty of the universe. Of the inherent beauty and brightness of existence. But you are illumined. You become a bearer of light. Followed by high creativity, voices and visions. With the mystic you are able to live in that state. With the high creative you enter into profound knowledge of reality of the way things work. You become a high creative. You are in that state of co-creating with creation itself. Followed by…
Rick: Contemplation and introversion.
Jean: Introversion. I’ve got to go deeper. I’ve got to go deeper. I’ve got to be able to get to a place of sustaining this. And so you pursue deeper contemplations, entering into even deeper states of being wherein a larger measure of the understanding of totality resides. And this also then become a great movement among peoples and that’s when you form the Sanghas. The great community of those who are part of the seeker. But mostly it is also entering into the depths of one’s own luminosity. And that of course is then followed by joy. Incredible states of joy which may be the natural bliss of creation. When I watch my dogs in the morning lying on their back, all 350 pounds of them, kicking their paws in the air, looking at me laughing, “it’s now food time, let’s eat joyously, now let’s go run up the hills, go and throw the ball, throw the stick, wow, isn’t life wonderful?” But the sheer joyousness of everything, the celebration of everything. Followed by the fact that what goes up must come down, and the dark night of the soul. And suddenly every kind of negative thought you’ve ever had about yourself and about life rises up. What you thought of as beautiful becomes an empty stage set, cardboard existence. And that’s when you really have to talk to a friend and say, “I am in such a weakened state, would you be God for me for three months? Just tell me what to do”. “Yes, I will be God for you for three months”. But it is the inevitable catharsis of all the old think, old patterns, even the patterns of the society, you become stupider and stupider, you think nobody likes you, including your own dogs, of course your dogs have another idea. And followed by the great unity of being, where finally you break through, and you realize it was all a great oneness all the time. And you try to live the life of a God inspired, a unity inspired being. Where daily life is spiritual process, daily life is spiritual exercise, daily life is the exaltation of being the one in the many, and the many in the one. And you become a beacon to others, an evocateur of the sacred in others, the one who is the midwife of souls.
Rick: That is a beautiful summary. I sometimes have debates with people about the direct versus progressive approach to spiritual development. Some people think that all you have to do is realize that you are already enlightened, and the whole notion of progressiveness or gradual unfoldment is too much of a concession to maya or something. But I think practically speaking, I mean I can’t think of any examples of anybody who has just sort of woken up one day and said, “That’s it, I’m done, I’m finished,” and who really is. And that we are naturally all works in progress as long as we draw breath.
Jean: We are works in progress, and the universe is a work in progress.
Jean: I mean, and sometimes in many spiritual traditions, you bring in the Tibetan word is “yidam.” Yidam is the river to the source. So the yidam might be an archetype, might be a Buddha, or a Christ, or a Mary, or a Saraswati, or what might be even legendary figures that have been elevated to spiritual sourcing status, like Joan of Arc, whatever. But a yidam, many people then develop a relationship to an archetype who may at one time have been an ordinary human being or may have been an angel, however people see it. But the yidam then supposedly has a larger frame of beingness and brings that angelic or that spiritual quality, and that you are able to be helped, be trained. Some of the work I do in terms of spiritual teaching is showing people how to be in touch with essence or intelligence that can be helpful, can be a guide on this great path.
Rick: Have you been guided by a particular archetype yourself?
Jean: Yes, all my life.
Rick: And that archetype was Athena I think I heard you say.
Jean: Yes, it was the Athena that was there before I was born. I would not have been born if my mother did not have dreamed of an Athena type. My father wanted me to be aborted and was telling my mother, “Get rid of the kid, we’re in the middle of the Depression.” And I would say to her, “I get on the Bob Hope show, you can have as many kids as you like.” And my mother did not know what to do. And then this dream kept coming, of a limo that picked her up, this is in her dream, took her to the palace, a lovely tall woman in long blue kind of gown, a sort of Greek thing, and they would dance and sing and she called her Blue Devil. “Now Mary, you must keep the baby, I know you tell, but my husband says I don’t know what to do.” “Well, just ignore him.” Anyway, until it was too late and I became in my mother’s second form, very small. And my father was a great father, quite frankly, after I got born. He thought I was lots of fun. He said, “Kiddo, you’re more fun than a barrel of monkeys.” I became my self-image. And then I did not know really about this until my father was driving me to Esalen to interact with Alan Watts. He said, “Well, kiddo, you turned out pretty good, I’m glad we decided to keep you.” I didn’t know that. And so that was why I asked my mother and she said, “Yes, the story was true, she had never told me this.” And she said, when she was in her 90th year, well, pretty close to that, I said, “Mother, this palace that you went to, was it like the Doge palaces when I took you to Italy that we saw in Venice?” “Nothing like that.” “What was it?” “Well, it was more like a Greek temple.” “Really, Mother?” “And this Blue Devil, was that her name?” “No, that was my pet name, Birg.” “Really, Mother, what was it?” “Well, name some goddesses.” “Oh, Aphrodite, Hera, Artemis, Athena…”. “Stop, that’s who it was.”
Rick: Hmm, interesting.
Jean: So it’s not like worshipping Athena, where people worship Mary or anything like that, it’s nothing like that. It’s just a sense of a kind of energy that has to do with culture and civilization and making it work. Which is really what part of my life has been about, creativity. It follows, without my even having known about it before, but it follows some of the patterns. But it isn’t like worshipping Athena, it’s nothing like that.
Rick: But do you think that these energies, such as the one your mother was inspired by, are real entities of some sort, who dwell on some subtle level and who guide humanity?
Jean: Well, Jung would say that, wouldn’t he? That these archetypal structures are, as would Joseph Campbell, that they are inherent in the human condition and are patterned according to the culture. So, for example, if we were talking about the Athena-type archetype in India, it would be something close to Saraswati, or Bridget, perhaps in the Celtic realms. You can find variations of it. Or is it just part of something, part of the creative unconscious that pops up and finds itself symbolically patterned according to cultural expectations. The Kuan Yin archetype, which you also find in Mother Mary, as well as in other kinds of feminine helping presence. Or is it just a member of a much, much, much, much, much older civilization somewhere in the universe that part of their jobs or what they decide to do is to go into some of the more troublesome planets and peoples and serve as a evocateur, as a wisdom figure. I don’t know. But they’re there. They’re there all over the world. There are almost no cultures that I know that don’t have them.”
Rick: For some reason that appeals to me intuitively or something. I just sort of feel like there are these impulses of intelligence that are entities, just as much as you and I are, but that sort of dwell in a different dimension and that kind of intercede or assist in human affairs, and that we can kind of connect with or be inspired by or be guided by or so on. I don’t know. Just somehow it makes sense to me.
Jean: But sometimes they are ones that you discover in yourself. I mean, Carl Jung discovered one that he called Philemon, who was a very present guiding spirit or energy for him. Philemon, but we don’t find Philemon, which is the great friend. You could also think of it as the great friend.
Rick: Well, I think if we know ourself in the deepest sense, then indeed that which we are does contain all entities, all intelligences, all knowledge, all everything. Anyway, I’ve probably taken enough of your time. This has been a major undertaking for you, all of the technical stuff.
Jean: Not at all. It’s been a great pleasure.
Rick: Yeah, for me too. It’s been an honor. I think we’re going to meet in a month or two out at the S.A.N.D. conference. I believe you’re going to be there.
Jean: I will be there for at least three days of it, yes.
Rick: Great, well I’ll see you there.
Jean: And I’m going to be discussing some of these things, but in the light especially of the new physics, because I’ve been exploring the implications of the new physics for everyday life in the quantum universe, because it opens up then a whole new set of human capacities that most of us have never thought of before.
Rick: You know, I hate to say this, but I thought of one more thing that I wanted to ask you. Several times I’ve listened to that debate, or if you want to call it that, that you had with Deepak and you, and also Sam Harris and I think Daniel Dennett are one of those guys.”
Jean: You couldn’t have heard it because they cut out my part, the part that you see. No, I disappeared. I said a few things, but most of what I said was cut out. They decided I wasn’t interesting.
Rick: I thought it was an interesting debate, but if you were to do that over again, perhaps not with a live audience, but sitting around in the living room with tea in a civilized way, because it turned into sort of a zoo, but what would you say to these guys? What would you have said in retrospect that you didn’t get to say?
Jean: What I would have done in retrospect is I wouldn’t have gone into argument because there would have been no point to it. They were calcified in their belief systems. I would have taken them through a series of exercises in which they would then tap into something that was both universal and beautiful. I mean, one of them was already a meditator.
Rick: Sam Harris has done pretty serious practice.
Jean: A serious practitioner, but without any theological or metaphysical agenda attached to it. But I would probably take him into an experience in which he would feel it very personally, and it would then take on a personal cap, perhaps an archetypal cast. But in terms of conversation, no, they were dyed in wool what they were, and this is what they did for a living. They go around and make these kinds of patterns. But I actually did say things, but it was all cut out. I was just there for seconds.
Rick: I remember you were on the stage. Yeah, anyway, that’s a whole other can of worms we don’t have time to open, but it’s a thing that interests me, this whole new atheist viewpoint, which represents the materialistic paradigm that dominates our culture, and what it might take to have a much more rich and …
Jean: No, then you would need an all-day, or two or three days, hanging in there with each other.
Rick: Yeah, like a weekend symposium or something.
Jean: But not for the hour or so that it was, and they came in. And this was something that Deepak and Sam Harris, they were already a dynamic duo in the argument. So that’s why it just became back to what the two of them do together. I was sorry that I had agreed to that when I found out, and I didn’t want to do it, but Deepak pleaded with me to do it. I was not represented there, I think I can say.
Jean: Yeah, okay, well we’ll leave it at that. Out of all the books you’ve written, if people want to get started learning more about Jean Houston, which one should they start with?
Jean: Well, for learning something about me, it would be my autobiography, which is called A Mythic Life, which came out about 20 years ago, and does contain pretty much a good perspective of the kind of work that I do. And then for the working book, the working book is probably The Possible Human. That’s also an early book, so those would be the two. A Mythic Life is also a very funny book, so it’s the kind of book people would enjoy.
Rick: I wish our library had had those too. When I checked these out, the librarian said, “Oh, Jean Houston,” she said, “I’m going to put these books on hold and read them after you return them.” Another question I wanted to ask you is, you’re still cooking at the age of 81, you’re traveling, offering webinars and all that kind of stuff.
Jean: All kinds of things.
Rick: Yeah, so what can people do if they want to actually get engaged in that way with you, do something interactively with you or some webinar or some…
Jean: Well, what they can do is go to my website, jeanhouston.com, Jean Houston one word dot com, and they’ll learn about various things, and they will get regular information about seminars or webinars or whatever it is that I’m doing.
Rick: Okay, good.
Jean: And also if they’re interested in having a doctorate, taking a doctorate with me in human development and social change, then they would go to Meridian University, meridian.edu, and so it would be that.
Rick: So it’s a regular accredited university that has a doctorate degree?
Jean: Yes, so there’s a doctorate degree in my studies in leadership and social transformation.
Rick: Is it online or do they have to physically go there?
Jean: No, you have to physically go there for two weeks.
Rick: Oh, two weeks isn’t so bad.
Jean: And then it’s also online, but it’s very interactive, and yes, it’s fully accredited. And then through the Organization of Evolving Wisdom, there are all kinds of courses that are given online, very interesting ones, especially the ones on quantum physics and also the ways of purpose and awakening. So those are things that you can actually get the whole course.
Jean: I mean there’s lots of things, and go to the books, I mean a lot of them are still there.
Rick: Sure, all right, well I’ll link to all that on your page on batgap.com, so people can just click from there and find those things. “Yeah.” Okay, great. Thank you, Jean.
Jean: Thank you very much.