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John Prendergast – 2nd Interview
Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I’ve done over 525 of them now. And if, if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to bat gap comm bat gap and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it, and we’d like to support it, there’s a Pay Pal button on every page of the site. I don’t think I mentioned my name is Rick Archer. But most of you know that but in case you have never watched one of these, that’s my name. My guest today is John Prendergast, PhD. John is the author of the deep heart, our portal to presence and book called in touch how to tune into the inner guidance of your body and trust yourself. John studied for many years with the European Advaita masters, John Klein, as well as with Adi Shanti. And that’s his intro. It’s it’s brief. Exactly. So it’s good. Brief is good. So welcome, John. Well, thank you, it’s feels like just a blink of the eye since we last spoke. Yeah, we did one of these four and a half years ago, roughly. And I listened to it in preparation for this one. And I thought it was a great conversation. So those of you who are listening to this one, might even want to listen to that one first. Or otherwise listen to it afterwards, because we covered a lot of stuff. And hopefully we won’t cover the same stuff in this interview. John hadn’t written his new book, then. And that’s mostly what we’re going to be talking about. But, you know, the conversation may meander here and there and can’t teach old dogs new tricks. So we might touch upon some points we’ve already discussed. And also, those of you listening again, if you have if you’re listening live, if you have a question you’d like to submit during the interview, please submit it during and we’ll try to get to it. So the main theme of your book seems to me is well, the subtitle of your book in the park is our portal to presence. So a portal means like a, you know, an entryway that you can go through in order to get to something. And you said in your book, this quote, jumped out at me, if there are layers to the heart, ranging from the relatively gross through the refined to the transcendent, then many of us will be able to directly or indirectly sense this in some way. So for starters, why don’t you define what you mean by the heart? And then let’s talk about these layers and talk about the heart being a portal
John Prendergast: to presence. Take it away? Yeah. Yeah, thank you. That’s a big subject actually. Infinite, infinitely large. So the heart is multi dimensional. And and this is not just a theoretical kind of formulation, but very much experiential in terms of my own experience in my work with students and clients as well. And so when I speak of the heart, and the deep part, I’m actually speaking to this multi dimensionality. And so on a localized the localized kind of sense of the heart is in the center of the chest. And we unconsciously often touch ourselves here when we feel deeply touched by something or moved by something or when we’re referring to ourselves. So that gives us a clue that it’s a very important center.
Rick Archer: Or even a chunk by said, you know, we might say, Oh, my God, you know, and yeah,
John Prendergast: yeah, so it’s very interesting. It’s like the body has its own language and the hands often are speaking when the head and the mind is doing something else. Our hands and I’ve noticed this in my work with people are speaking a different language, often a more essential language and so there is a pointing to the heart area and, you know, for some people who’ve, I think had difficult upbringings or have not really been met in a deep way the heart area can Feel pretty numb, pretty flat. If there has been a lot of emotional wounding for instance, it’s a place we don’t want to feel and don’t want to go. And, and yet, so there can be a kind of armoring or numbness or coldness or flatness that we may initially feel there. But as we begin to kind of hone in with our attention to the heart, we open up more tender emotional levels. And often, I think in common conversationally, speak with someone as being heart oriented, we mean someone who’s kind of in touch, more loving, more affectionate, more in touch with their hearts, and this is more a personal level. And then it’s very impacted by our early conditioning. It’s where we carry most of our emotional, not all of them, but most of our emotional wounds, from relationship with early caregivers, and a lot of psychotherapy gives attention to this, for good reason. Because if we feel alienated from this psychological level of the heart, we feel alienated from ourself. And it’s very hard to be close with others, it’s very hard to be at ease and at peace with ourselves just on a personal level. So a lot of personal psychotherapy is oriented towards revisiting and healing the wounds of childhood.
John Prendergast: And it actually goes very deep in the heart. And when I speak of depth, it’s like a depth of sensitivity. It’s like the the willingness to feel like from the surface, I guess you can see my hand, like from this surface, and then a deepening means going back towards the back of the heart. And when people get in touch with these very these kind of early, very tender areas, there’s a sense of attention, they feel it, and I feel it sitting with him via kind of empathic resonance, this very deep, very tender area of the heart. And often this is where that, you know, there may be pain, there may be tears, there may be grief, but we’re getting to a very innocent and early stage of the heart, often, you know, the first few years of childhood, before the heart was conditioned, very heavily. And so there’s, we get into essential qualities. And these are qualities of affection, gratitude, joy, just sense of awe and wonder, for instance, and sometimes therapists speak of this as the magical child or the, you know, the kind of innocent child and now we’re on the border of what I call poetically, the soul to very still person. And it’s very, very deep and very intimate. So there’s a sense of really being in touch with our personal self. And it allows the capacity to connect with one another, in a way that feels deeply touching, and very nourishing. So that’s kind of the impact relationally of touching this, but we also tap into archetypes, and essential qualities and flow states and sometimes ecstatic states. And so very often transpersonal psychology focuses on this area, trying to cultivate these qualities and sustain them. But it doesn’t stop there, this is the interesting thing it’s like, then, like read the back of the heart, and we could feel it as a kind of vibration of light, luminosity. And then as we keep going, it’s like a falling back into this infinite field of loving awareness. And it becomes non localized, I mean, initially a kind of falling back, and then a sense of it being really in all directions all of the time. And this is what Ramana spoke of. When you use the word heart with a capital, he has a consciousness. So we have this range and, and there’s a level of feeling and sensing and knowing, to, which corresponds to each of these levels of the heart and, and it’s kind of central in the human body, below the head and, you know, above the lower part of the body. And its central just we use the word the heart to mean the center of something. So it’s one of the you know, we have any experience can be a portal, a doorway into our true nature. And there’s a major portal through the mind. And when it opens, there’s a sense of tremendous freedom, infinite freedom and spaciousness. These are the essential qualities of acidity, clarity, knowing we’re not the story, an image that we’ve identified ourselves with and feeling unbound in space and time, we hear those descriptions that corresponds very often with a mental awakening. And when the heart of it comes to it steps lead to a sense of this, this great heart to a sense of wholeness and being undivided with the whole of life. It’s a feeling of unconditional love and all as well, no matter what and a sense of oneness or or, you know, being divided and the hara, or the belly in Japanese is the lowest and opens to different qualities. And these are like different qualities of the same awareness. But in the heart, what comes very spontaneously is a sense of gratitude, and tremendous compassion as the heart awakens.
Rick Archer: That gives us a lot to discuss, to unpack it does, it’s quite a range, that means something off you and see what you think. I’ve heard that it described that, you know, everything we experience we experience through the senses, and that all the senses have their root or their source and presence are in the transcendent. And they we can say they radiate out from there, like spokes. And so it’s it’s said that thinking ordinary discursive thinking in the mind, is actually a subtler aspect of the sense of hearing. Like I could shout, when I’m saying right now, it’d be really loud, or I could speak in this tone wise, and it’s not so loud. Or I could just actually think the words I’m saying that right now without saying them to you. And but I would still hear them. So it said, it said that thinking is a subtler aspect of the sense of hearing. And obviously, the use of a mantra takes you to subtler still levels of thought, and you can arrive at the transcendent that way. And obviously, there are visual, gross and subtle forms, you know, perhaps artists are more adroit, with, with the subtleties of vision. And some people use Yantras, or visualization as means of transcending. And it said that, that feelings are a subtler aspect of the sense of touch. Now, all the different senses, it seems hearing is the ears, you know, seeing as the eyes smelling as the nose. Taste is the tongue, but then touch, you know, is the whole, whole all the skin. But then the it seems like the the, and maybe you could experience subtler aspects of touch through the skin. But primarily, it seems that they
John Prendergast: that the heart is responsible for the subtler realms of the sense of touch or feeling, just as the mind is responsible for the subtler aspects of the sense of hearing through thought.
Rick Archer: And so what I hear when I hear you talk about the range from gross through, refined to transcendent, through the heart as a portal is sort of following or probing or exploring, subtler, more refined, more delicate levels of the sense of touch of feeling, and ultimately arriving at the source of all the senses. So how, to what extent do you concur with what I said? And what how would you elaborate on it?
John Prendergast: If you wished? Well, yeah, I mean, I would say, it’s, it’s an interesting, kind of interesting view I haven’t thought too much about it would say it is, it’s basically accurate, I would use the word feeling, and also the word felt sense, which is actually a combination of those two before they actually are distinguished from thought, or imagery. So it’s a whole body sense of something. So definition of a felt sense. And I like this word, you know, that was coined by Eugene gendlin, many years ago. So a lot of the, the, the experiential invitation when I work with people is to, to get a felt sense, you know, of what is in the heart area. And so the felt sense, what I like about it is it actually includes those other dimensions of sensation, that is to say, hearing, and also the vision. And some people and this is very interesting, have more access to the depths of the heart area through visualization, spontaneous visualization. So it’s not, you know, it’s not exclusive of that. And so too, with hearing, so people have different kind of dominant channels of receiving information and understanding some of us are more visual, some more auditory, more, some of us more kinesthetic, but this is a form of interior perception. There’s a word for that in internal saving, or interoception. And it can use any facet, actually, of those senses. And it will vary from person to person. So for instance, in my case, I’m predominantly kinesthetic, or proprioceptive. So I sense things when I predominantly And then secondarily, there’s like visual images that come in this I’m speaking of a kind of interior search mode. Like if I’m sitting with a question and heartfelt meditative inquiry, like, you know, what is what’s going on or what what’s happening or what, what some question I may be sitting with sometimes when I lead retreats, for instance, will will do this and I’ll sit with this Same question that I share with my students, very often, the first movement will be vibratory, it’s like there’s some, it’s like a, a very subtle vibration, you know, felt in the body, and then a quality of luminosity that comes with that. So there’s a visual aspect. And then after that, sometimes a word will come. But that’s a, that’s kind of a tertiary movement that, and that will kind of begin to define, you know what, like, maybe the word that comes up is ground or fear, or, but it has something to do with what’s in the vibratory field. So what’s common to all of this is vibration, interestingly, and the vibration can be translated through different senses. And so we’re going to subtler levels, vibratory levels of experience, to the ground itself, which is, as you’re suggesting, the transcending field as a source
Rick Archer: is everything, pretty much every experience we have, I suppose, involves more than one sense. And often, all of them. I mean, if we’re eating food, for instance, it smell, it may have a smell, it has a taste, obviously, it has a site, we can look at it. If it’s Rice Krispies, it has a sound, you know, what else is left? Touch, we can touch the food. But I suppose in the subtle realm, so in the subtler realm, I suppose the same thing would be true that all five senses would be involved, but maybe I’m just kind of thinking out loud here. But maybe one or another would be predominant based upon the experience we’re having. And also based upon our prediction, as you’re just saying, you know, some people might be mean, I know people who say they don’t actually think thoughts the way most people describe them, they, they, they see things, that’s their mode of thinking.
John Prendergast: Yeah, it’s rather than being a subvocalization. It’s more of a visualization. Yeah, yeah. But I’m back that kind of a unique quality of the heart that you’re honing in on, which is, it has a feeling tone to it. And so you know, it has an aspect of being we can access being through the heart. We can access a knowing a sense of I am. And there’s a feeling tone here that I think is unique to the heart, which is Ananda, which is joy, which is this sublime, quiet contentment, that’s actually how I experience it. Rather than you know, blissful ecstasy, I mean, there can be moments of that. But this, this quality of joy of Ananda seems particularly relevant and accessible through the heart area, and of course, a grief as well. So joy and grief, you know, this is the, when we really open to life, we we open to this tremendous poignancy, of life, we open to quality of joy, appreciation, love, gratitude, but also sorrow, because of the suffering and because of the loss. And if we’re really here, as a human being, we’re going to experience all of that, no, very fully. So those qualities, sometimes blend of joy and sorrow, and it just gives a quality of poignancy to it that’s felt deeply in the heart. And so, in grief, as well, we the grief itself from turning away from really our true nature in order to adjust and accommodate and survive. So that’s a common eye kind of describing kind of the architecture of the heart and some of the common feelings that arise as we go more deeply. And both joy and joy and grief to,
Rick Archer: as you were saying that I was sort of thinking of, you know, the extent to which most people are pretty shut down in terms of all their senses, and how there are, you know, there have been sort of geniuses who have one or another sense so much Mozart or Beethoven would be geniuses of the sense of sound, and, you know, great artists have the sense of sight. And maybe have, you know, a great cook or a food critic or something of the sense of taste. And, but with the heart, you know, when we think of the geniuses we kind of might think of Mother Teresa or Saint Francis or somebody who seemed to have an incredibly developed heart, and who just really, you know, poured out love and compassion and everything for other people, but in many cases, who was also acutely sensitive to the suffering, which is why they often tried to do something about it, rather than just walk by the person in the gutter that picked them up or tried to do something.
John Prendergast: Yeah, I mean, these are people Yeah, that we do think St. Francis Rumi is another you know what, there’s a tremendous passionate quality for the beloved. So we’ll we’ll find compassion, we’ll find devotion. Also not You know, maybe devotion and to, to what we religious people will call the divine or God or to religious figure. For me, this is kind of an interesting subject because in my own process initially I, you know, as you know, I came in through TM and mantra, and then self inquiry and so it was really kind of the subtle mind and, and using that kind of quality of clarity. But as this awareness has really deepened, and there’s been a, you know, awaking down, the qualities of the heart have just come more and more into the foreground with a sense of devotion, but devotion to what exactly, are to whom I can’t say, and I would say, devotion to the truth. You know, this is like, a love of truth. And so this is another quality of the heart that that ability to, to feel profound compassion, and to be able to act on it, too, because sometimes we can get overwhelmed by empathy, and compassion. But there are many figures, you know, who are geniuses of the heart who have that quality of transmitting tremendous love and compassion that’s healing.
Rick Archer: And then it also give this you know, somebody like Nelson Mandela, who was in prison for 27 years or something, but then just didn’t hold any resentment toward his captors, for gave them. Yeah, good example. Or even just on the cross, forgive them Father, for they know, not what they do.
John Prendergast: And there’s a love of beauty. Also, there’s an aesthetic sensitivity, that it can be felt throughout the body. But often, when we see, like speaking of, of Christian symbolism, when I was at St. Peter’s cathedral, maybe three years ago in the Vatican, and looked at Michelangelo’s pa tar, you know, where the figure of Mary is holding the corpse of Jesus, it’s an extraordinary work, you know, just visually to see this figure of compassion, like the great mother holding the suffering of the world. But it’s, there’s so much beauty in it, too. I mean, it’s both beautiful, and compassionate and wise, and, you know, so all of these can blend in a beautiful
Rick Archer: way, can you imagine being able to create such a thing?
John Prendergast: It’s hard to imagine evil, it is, to have a, you know, a block of marble. And to unfold that forum,
Rick Archer: he’s talking about genius. You know, you mentioned your TM background, you may have remembered mercy is to say that he felt that self realization was a prerequisite to the significant unfoldment of the heart or of Yeah, of the heart of devotion. And that, you know, without that foundation, it was like a little pond trying to rise up in big waves couldn’t do it, but you know, like, if, but an ocean can do it. So he kind of recommended becoming oceanic in our awareness. And then on that foundation, being able to the next phase of unfoldment would kind of naturally occur
John Prendergast: when the Indian system, you know, this is bhakti and know, from a personal level, there’s, you know, it’s bhakti but when there is the knowing intimately of true nature, then it’s part of bhakti or the highest bhakti. And this this, it’s we usually think of, it’s an impersonal quality of love and devotion. And often we associate that word with something other than love, but it’s, it has that quality it does, it’s not egoic it’s non personal.
Rick Archer: But it kind of makes sense in a way that you know, if, if the self hasn’t been realized, there’s generally a lack of awareness, often a kind of a dullness or something and so and, and even to speak of like really appreciating something, which is kind of what love is really having profound appreciation if you don’t know who the appreciator is, is there really any standpoint from which to deeply deeply appreciate? And it’s kind of interesting what you just said that you find yourself you know, you went through all this inner development then now you find this devotion even if it’s without an object and kind of almost sound like you could have used the word appreciation there just even visually things are more beautiful and stuff, there’s just this enhanced appreciation for appreciation
John Prendergast: and, and gratitude. Just right next to it. There’s just like savoring, you know, the just most ordinary moments in our life, you know, I mean, this is you know, we have a lovely conversation but it could be doing the dishes or you know, just driving the car and just, you know, when we are out of kind of our egocentric, egocentricity and just available, there is such appreciation and gratitude for simplicity simple moments,
Rick Archer: you mentioned that you often feel this devotion without necessarily having a focal point to it. Do you feel that also with the gratitude, there’s just this sort of feeling of gratitude, but not toward anyone or anything?
John Prendergast: That’s right. I mean, there’s great grateful for many things, of course, and my relative life, my friends, my family, my, you know, just surroundings. But mostly grant gratitude, to be gratitude to be awake and aware, you know, it’s like this incredible evolution, you know, of form allowing the experience of itself. So the, the gratitude for being is actually predominant, and the gratitude for everything else is secondary. You know, what
Rick Archer: I get a lot and, and see if you can relate to it, too. It’s just, you know, like walking down the street, looking at the sidewalk, looking at the grass, looking at the trees, just experiencing ordinary stuff. Or there’s a sort of almost constant appreciation of what a miracle I’m actually looking at. Yeah, without actually, you know, getting too intellectual about it, but just a feeling of what a Marvel is right in front of our very eyes all the time. And if we want to look at it scientifically, you know, what’s, what’s actually going on with the cells and the molecules and everything else is just this vast intelligence at play. And we are it, we’re in it, and it’s in us, and it’s just like this, we’re fishing that ocean. And that’s where, for me, the devotion and gratitude starts to really amp up, you know, the sense of, I’m having this divine experience, even though I’m just walking down the sidewalk.
John Prendergast: Well, and you’re having it right now. Yes, exactly. She talked about it. I could feel that. Yeah, it’s beautiful. You know, and, and the intellectual part is secondary. You can
Rick Archer: you can, you can intellectualize in order to verbalize it. But you don’t have to do that. Yeah,
John Prendergast: no, primarily, it’s a direct sensing. You know, it’s a felt sense of reality, and a gratitude that just spontaneously pours out. Because of that we’re not trying to be grateful, we’re not practicing gratitude. It actually comes from the knowing of what this is, the knowing and the being of it.
Rick Archer: And I can clearly remember like 50 years ago, just sort of looking at a similar scene, you know, looking at the trees or something and feeling kind of dead inside and sort of everything was sort of dead outside. There was just no, no magic to it like there is now.
John Prendergast: Well, that’s it when there’s deadness inside there’s deadness outside, when we’re shut off, when to shut down internally, we’re disconnected. And this is our greatest suffering. By the way, this sense of aloneness and alienation. And it because it comes from not knowing the true nature of the heart and of ourself.
Rick Archer: Yeah. No, not for a moment suggesting that I have arrived some kind of state or anything like that. I mean, if if you compare yourself with someone like Mira Bai, or you know, the great devotees, and you know, what’s your name? st not St. Francis. Mother, who’s the Spanish Saint with St. John of the Cross? Teresa, Teresa of Avila. Yeah. When you sort of read their devotional literature, and the kinds of experiences that they had, he realized that you’re still kind of in kindergarten, at least I do. But there’s some flavor of it anyway, which is greater
John Prendergast: than, well, this is it. And it’s important not to compare, it’s like, you know, what you’re touching what we’re touching right now, is what everyone is touched in this, you know, in this sense of spontaneous gratitude and devotion. You know, and yeah, it’s just
Rick Archer: a matter of degree, and we are, where we are, where we are, and we just continue to grow.
John Prendergast: And yeah, and and when we do, it’s really important to let it in. You know, this is one thing I noticed, it’s in my work with people, it’s like, we can, it’s not so difficult to touch it, but often the mind will dismiss it or go on to something else, because it has an agenda. But to actually when we’re, you know, sensing directly, as we are now what this says, it’s like to actually slow down and let it in and recognize what it is right? Not just to state, right, not just an experience, but actually a knowing a direct knowing and feeling of what’s true, what’s most true. And when we do and when we do when we really let it in the body mind begins to orient and reorient towards this, because this is this is our true nature. And this is the true nature of the body and the mind of our thinking and our feeling and our sense Seeing, and the body of the body and the mind is heavily conditioned. But when it touches this knowing, and recognition, because this is all about recognition, as far as I’m concerned, the path of recognition when there is a recognition of this, to really let it in not grasping, right, because it’s not an object, but it’s almost like letting the body mind be saturated by this knowing and this feeling.
Rick Archer: So why wouldn’t the person let it in? And how, how would they shut it out? And why isn’t it in? Why isn’t it more lively in people’s awareness? As a rule?
John Prendergast: Yeah, this is the question of resistance. Right? And it’s a it’s a very important question, a big question, as well.
Rick Archer: Well, don’t you think I mean, the average person if we look at all the millions of people in the world there, I was just, somebody sent me a video of the traffic jam in Los Angeles as Thanksgiving you know, traffic, just bumper to bumper, taillights, as far as the eye can see on the on the freeway, beautiful lights, you have beautiful lights, like almost like Christmas. But you know, people are buffeted and jostled and impacted and, you know, stressed and tired and you know, that life comes at you, you know? And it seems to me that it’s the the buffeting of life that from infancy that tends to calcify or in crust, our sensitivity? And probably you would agree with that you can elaborate on it. But then how do we reveal there? I think
John Prendergast: the buffeting is often more relational. You know, it’s not. So. So for instance, you know, it’s like traffic is one thing, you know, we can handle that. You know, but, but or maybe not. But, you know, when we’re, you know, when we’re in relationship with someone, particularly like a parent, you know, who is negligent or abusive? That’s a much more difficult situation to navigate. So we just shut down.
Rick Archer: Yeah, hits us when long before we’ve learned how to drive.
John Prendergast: That’s right. Yeah. And long before we know how to make sense out of our experience, I mean, sometimes this happens so early on, we’re hardly, we can hardly make sense out of our experience. And so we, we arm ourselves, and, and then that becomes our default mode. Right? We’re armored, we’re cut off from, from really what’s essential within ourself, and then we identify with it. So we take ourselves to be that armoring that shell, basically. And then there’s another point here, which is, which is really quite interesting for me, which is, in my work with people on retreat in particular, but one on one mentoring, people can kind of drop the shell, and have a direct, really knowing recognition of themselves, and then they return to their default mode. And then they’re still afraid of letting go. This is very interesting. So it’s like, there are different levels in the body mind that, I think are impacted by these letting goes and openings, some participate in them more consciously, and some less so and were pulled back by those less conscious elements that kind of crystallize them, or the separate sense of self. So it’s a gradual process. And there’s a fear, there’s a very important existential fear here, which is which is of annihilation, because it from the point of view of the mind, the letting go looks like death, death of the body. And those two are very often confused, the death of the story, the death of the self image, and the death of the, of the body. And so, terror often arises in this quest to come home to who we really are. And that’s an important part of the resistance to part of it is just, you know, dealing with the vicissitudes and challenges of life and the shocks as you were suggesting, and then getting into a default mode and, and identifying with it, but part of it also is the kind of resistance that our mind oriented identity has, with the unknown, because the unknown is equated with something dangerous. And, and so we’re constantly trying to know in order to be in control, in order to be safe. And so to be actually see that mechanism, working in our life, with more and more clarity allows us to be less side effect of it. And as part of the process, I think of awakening,
Rick Archer: it seems there must be something natural and necessary and even beneficial and helpful to the armoring that that accumulates, you know, for in our early years, because it happens to everybody. So it couldn’t be sort of something that’s not supposed to happen. It happens to everybody Obviously developmental stage. Yeah. And obviously, in certain families, it must happen much less than others. If you have a really warm, loving family with highly involved parents who aren’t all messed up, you know, then then perhaps you you go through your childhood relatively unscathed, although there’s always school. But um, I don’t know. So don’t say it, maybe it correlates, you could tell us as a psychologist, whether it correlates with the sort of formation of an ego structure, which everyone says, is necessary. In our early years, we have to have some, some people say you have to have a strong healthy ego in order to eventually transcend the ego has to be healed and made whole before we can even talk.
John Prendergast: Yeah, there’s some truth to that. So there’s something that is kind of natural and developmental in terms of developing an individuated sense of self, it’s actually very healthy, you know, to D merge from our parents and our family and to follow what feels authentic, in terms of our own experience for yourself. And that’s an important process. But it is different. And so you know, a self story and a self image accompanies that process of individuation. But the interesting thing is, as the individuation increases, then that story in that image is felt more and more as a bind kind of a binding for us, like a heavy coat, you know, and, and we’re wanting to shed it more and more, it’s like, we want to go on to the next stage, developmentally, which is to free ourselves of those images and stories, relatively speaking, we still have them, but we hold them very lightly, and we recognize what they are. And interestingly, that actually supports the process of individuation, which is to say we’re more uniquely ourself as an individual being, but we’re also opening to this deeper dimension that we had abandoned, that we weren’t fully conscious of as children, we kind of circle around and reclaim that native innocence, but with the discernment and clarity and, and maturity of an adult. And I think this is a full blossoming of the human, like the recognition of our transcendent ground, or roots, and a really mature, developed individuated expression of that, and so there’s a creativity that emerges from that, that’s that, so it’s not passive, it has a dynamic quality to it. And this is why I’ve been drawn to more tantric approaches to, like, it’s not like enough to simply recognize the transcendent nature of life, it’s like, we really want to live it, you know, in a very vivid and individuated
Rick Archer: way. Yeah. And it’s interesting, because one might think that, you know, if ultimately we’re all the same person, and we all we’re all sort of, we are that unbounded consciousness and so on and so forth, that if we were all to realize that we would all kind of be the same, you know, it would, but quite the opposite is true. It’s like, I mean, look at the diversity of the Amazon rainforest, that which whatever of it hasn’t been cut down yet. But there’s such there’s a nourishing ground, which causes a great diversity and flourishing of all the all the things that that grow in it. So you know, I think that if we had a world in which everyone or pretty much everyone was sort of self realized that there would be incredible diversity and creativity and unique ness of expression every personality would have its own vivid characteristics and so on. Well yet at the same time, everyone felt unified with one another at a deeper level.
John Prendergast: This is it the sense of shared ground and so there’s a deep respect for that diversity and even celebration of it. So as you’re speaking Rick I’m noticing another quality which is aliveness like you’re there’s like this, I could feel like the central channel starting to light up because you spoke of this. Yeah, exactly. And it kind of sets us up and and enlivens Yeah, our quality of life. And this is the like, the unique expression like the current of life, you know, arising from the ground of being and it just it on a subtle but very palpable level. It just illuminates the core of the body mind and it gives us that sense of alignment and aliveness and and create it. And so, there’s a there’s a dynamic, enjoyable quality of life. That is more felt. And this is funny as as important. This is as important as the discovery of the ground of being is the living of it in this way. Oh, I totally agree. As you know, I, you know, with associated with this group of the Association for spiritual integrity,
Rick Archer: Mariana Kaplan and Jack O’Keefe and Craig Holliday and Miranda McPherson, but we’re all very sort of concerned with the phenomenon, which has probably been somewhat prevalent in the spiritual community where people emphasize the transcendent at to the exclusion of, or without really attending to their individual integrity and their individual expressions.
John Prendergast: Yeah, this is very relevant, you know, so everything is kind of erased on the personal level, you know, and, and devalued, actually, and we’re not fully embodied. So this is part of the maturity and the conversation. I think that’s evolved over decades in the west now, both in Europe and the US and North America and elsewhere is the a more movement towards aligning, you know, our individual lives with this transcendent understanding and looking at areas where there are gaps, and incongruent sees. And this is where vulnerability and honesty is so important and often lacking among teachers and their students.
Rick Archer: Here’s something from your book that I wrote down, spiritual regarding spiritual, bypassing spiritual teachers, this is a quote, spiritual teachers who are emotionally immature and lack empathy will fail to recognize important dimensions of their students hearts. There’s oversight can lead to teachings that are dry and abstract, cognitively brilliant, and profound, but emotionally disconnected or poorly attuned.
John Prendergast: Oh, yeah. So you that’s a fairly common phenomena, where you have that more mental awakening. And people have that clarity and a sense of the infinite, that the heart has remained dormant and or dimensions of the heart remain dormant. And so there’s there can be an unkindness, a lack of real sensitivity and care. And it’s justified in various ways, you know, as whatever Crazy Wisdom Teachings, but in fact, it’s heartless teachings is true. So, yeah, it’s an important subject. And, and, you know, this is, this is where really ethical behavior comes from not just kind of standards of the mind, but really an openness of the heart. Yeah,
Rick Archer: I think it would probably agree with based upon what you said earlier about the tantric path, that spirituality should really mean a full blossoming, blossoming of all facets of what makes us up, which is, so it’s not just a sort of a taking refuge in the transcendent. It’s, it’s, you know, integration of the transcendent into every nook and cranny of our individual body mind and, you know, emotions and everything.
John Prendergast: Yeah, this is restating what I think you think, Well, that’s an accurate restatement. And that’s the theme of embodiment, really embodying the understanding. And often I, I experienced it, I think of an experienced sense of waking down, or waking down in in, like, the transcendent, often is contacted as above head, or above shoulder experience. And as there is a growing maturity of the realization, there’s a dropping down of attention, often in the heart area and into the heart, not necessary, necessarily in a linear way. But just a gradual movement, down in, in into the core of the body and into these areas that are less conscious into emotional areas, and instinctual areas. And so we get into, you know, the challenging areas, relationship and power dynamics and sexuality and survival, which so many religious and spiritual traditions keep at arm’s length. And I think this is our, our challenge, you know, and for me, it’s, it’s very open ended. It’s like we can we can recognize kind of the truth of our transcendent nature, and yet different facets of it continue to, to unfold and be embodied. And that’s certainly true for me, feels like a very open ended and dynamic process. Yeah.
Rick Archer: It’s a shame that some spiritual teachers and maybe that maybe this is less than it used to be 10 years ago, but, you know, some of them would dismiss most of what we’re seeing right now is just a concession with Maya, you know, as as a concession with with a personal self, which they continually emphasize doesn’t even exist. So why are we talking about it?
John Prendergast: Right, yeah. Yeah, that’s true, I think maybe 10 or 20 years ago that devaluation, that evaluative, dismissive approach would be more common, but that’s changing significantly, I think.
Rick Archer: I think it is, and I’ve been told by People who have hung out in those circles that there’s a tendency toward really being nihilistic and, and, and even sort of doing all kinds of crazy stuff, and, you know, excessive drinking and inappropriate behavior and all and rationalizing it as doesn’t matter, because there’s really no one doing it. You know, to me, that’s such a
John Prendergast: helpful perspective. Yeah, unhelpful and unhealthy? I think, you know, it’s again, it’s, it’s, it’s transcended and not imminent. And it’s accent and both are important. You know, some people will kind of err in the other direction, I think, too, and they won’t fully value the importance of the no one and nothing. No, they want to get to the everything, you know, without going through, they want to get to the fullness without going through the emptiness. And there’s the, I think there, there needs to be an emptying out of these, this kind of, to a large extent, the personal identity in order for this, you know, genuine experience of imminence to flower as we’re speaking.
Rick Archer: Yeah, sometimes people are criticized for this being on a perpetual self improvement treadmill, you know, without taking recourse to the deeper qualities of the self, which are, which are impersonal, which are kind of are universal. But I think what you’re saying there is really key, which is that both and you know, it doesn’t have to be it shouldn’t be either or. They’re supportive. They’re different facets of reality, manifesting. Yeah, a question came in from someone named Michael Joseph in the UK, which will shift our gears a little bit, Michael says, I find when I rest in stillness, my heart frequently, literally purrs, Shakti like a cat. And this enters the head and quietens the mind. It’s not ecstatic, though, can you suggest how to intensify this heartfelt sense?
John Prendergast: Oh, well, no, I wouldn’t. Because I wouldn’t suggest trying to intensify it. And again, this is kind of the mind wanting to amplify an experience or speed up and experience. And I suppose that could be done. And you know, there are guides and teachers who will do that. But my experience is there’s a natural unfolding and pace of unfolding here. And actually, in the resting and stillness, there is this natural sense of contentment, that does arise and, and it’s really, truly, as I said, about letting it in, it’s just like receiving, you know, the gift of grace that’s coming. And because if we try to intensify or amplify an experience, we’re actually manipulating it, the mind is getting in, there’s some sense of will, and it rarely goes well. And often, an inquiry maybe occasionally goes awry. So in my own experience, even though I have over many years, you know, felt an unfolding sensitivity. In these various levels, none of it has been consciously cultivated, I haven’t tried to, it’s actually been part of a spontaneous unfolding. And I think what’s most important is that we, that we love the truth, and that that’s the most important thing. And again, it Yeah, and we return to what it is that’s most important to us, and use that as our guide.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and I think what you’re talking about here is not something flashy. I mean, you know, some people like flashy experiences, they look for them, and maybe they take drugs to get them or whatever, that you’re talking about something subtle, something really sort of more and more and more gentle. And, yeah, and so intensify kind of, maybe that’s not how he meant it, but it sounds to me, like it’s, you know, the opposite of what you’re talking about, in a way because what you’re talking about is increasingly refined, not amplified,
John Prendergast: right, refined, and also to understand that, that this quest is actually to recognize what’s here already, regardless of our experience. So it’s not about creating an experience. And we, you know, many of us have heard this teaching over the years I certainly did for decades and didn’t fully appreciate was what was being pointed to, but our true nature is as present, whether we’re experiencing pleasure or painful experience, and whether it’s intense or subtle, you know, so to not be attached to subtle experience or too intense experiences to pleasure or pain, and to recognize this which is always here. And so it is it’s extraordinarily quiet, you know, it’s you You know, often we speak of it as a field, you know, within which experience arises and passes. And I think a good, a good way to speak of it and think about it to recognize we are this already the one who wants to intensify, experience or amplify it. Is it already? And it’s the recognition of this. That’s most important.
Rick Archer: Sure. Now, when you say that it’s all always already here. That is not to say that we’re always aware of it to the same degree. Yeah, obviously very different. Yeah, that that varies. And some people actually
John Prendergast: jump to the conclusion that they’re enlightened or something, because they have the thought that, oh, it’s always already here. And so now that I know this, you know, I must be done. But that’s not what you’re saying. I’m quite sure. You’re quite bright. Yeah, keep going. intellectual understanding is really the beginning. Yeah, of this process.
Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s kind of like, you know, let’s say we won the lottery. And there was a ticket in our sock drawer. And we forgotten all about it. We don’t know that we won, and we’re begging on the street. So yeah, you’re a millionaire. But it doesn’t do any good. Because you haven’t cashed in the ticket. So you kind of have to tune in and actually experience all this stuff we’re talking about,
John Prendergast: right? That’s a good up to date metaphor. The old one is, you know, the beggar is sitting on the box and neath, which is, you know, a bunch of pile of gold thing. Yeah, exactly. So, yes, you’re, you are a rich man or woman, but you got to lift up the box and discover it for yourself. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And that, even though everyone’s heard this idea, I think it bears repeating. Because there’s so many people in the world who are, you know, addicted to opioids are taking their own lives or doing things which clearly indicate that they haven’t discovered that they have this wealth of fulfillment, just waiting to be experienced. So I think you know, what you’re doing. And what we’re all doing is developing our own experience of it and telling others that it’s possible to do so.
John Prendergast: Yeah, and it seems to, the more we know it firsthand, the more that is spontaneously shared, as well in an appropriate way. So it kind of radiates out from the inside out and programs like this. And, you know, our way to share that understanding, what’s interesting is there’s no, there’s no movement I find to proselytize in the sharing, it’s really, it’s really a matter of living it and, and kind of intuitively sensing with whom and when and how to chair it if it feels appropriate. But it doesn’t need to be articulated, which is very interesting. And reminds me, it’s something that John Klein, my, my first foundational teacher said about the discovery of true nature, which was that true nature does not assert it neither asserts nor denies its self. So if we’re asserting or denying we’re, we’re in a basically egocentric
Rick Archer: position and understanding. Yeah, I mean, you know, you and I, our profession is talking about this stuff, and helping others to become more aware of it in one way or another experientially and intellectually, so but I think there’s a difference between that and proselytizing. We’re not trying to gain but I believe anything necessarily that because we I think we both say that that’s not going to do them much good. It’s more of like, oh, how would you say, what are we doing? What what are we doing here? distinguished from, you know, banging on people’s doors with pamphlets in hand?
John Prendergast: Well, this is it, you know, it’s not about adapting and adopting a new belief. You know, and, and it’s interesting, because we are talking about, or at least I’ve been using the word truth, right? Like finding one’s true nature or being loving what’s most true or the truth and, and I had a real aversion to using that language for a while, just because of my kind of skeptical. Intellect and my knowledge that so many religions and cults use the same language, you know, to induce really thoughtless kind of followers, and naive followers to follow a particular dogma. But what’s really clear is that truth that that we’re talking about and pointing to is prior to thought, and thus, thus prior to any dogma or any belief and it’s not about not about adopting a new belief, but actually examining our existing beliefs. And it’s not about learning something It’s about unlearning. And so it’s a reversal in some way, the opposite of, you know, trying to inculcate a belief, it’s really about invitation, I would say, to examine. And for those who are interested, that we’re not pounding on doors, we’re actually living as an open door. And people who are interested can come, you know, and share and inquire. And that feels very, there’s something mysterious about this process of how we come to this understanding and how it gets shared, which it seems to be personal in some way. And yet, on some other level, we can feel, you know, a greater intelligence moving through us not in the sense of being inflated about it. But just you can feel it when people, they hear something, maybe they hear, you know, you speaking or someone on your program, and something lights up, you know, there’s a kind of flame of recognition really brightens. And this is part of their own process of self recognition and self discovery. So there’s something very spontaneous, I think, and this is movement of a deeper intelligence that’s working through everyone.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One way of contrasting the orientation to the word truth is that, in some cases, people feel like, okay, I’ve got the truth. And my, my group has the truth. And in some sense, that makes us better than other people were saved. They’re not, you know, that kind of thing. Whereas I think that what you’re talking about, would actually culture greater humility in a person. Because they realize it’s not something they can possess. Right? It’s something which they are in a very deep sense, but we all are those some story about rom Das, I believe his brother was in a mental hospital or something. And, you know, he went to visit him. And he said to him, the reason that you think your God, right, he said to his brother, because his brother was locked up in a mental hospital for thinking it was got to the difference. The reason you’re in there, and I’m out here is that, you know, I also think I’m God, but I think everybody is exactly your case, you just say you are.
John Prendergast: This is a famous rom Das. It’s a very good distinction. Yeah. Yeah. So there’s no, I love that, too, because it doesn’t, it doesn’t bring a sense of being special. And it doesn’t create division, it does the opposite, was the kind of melting of our specialness and, and melting of the US and then them in as, you know, something substantial. And the recognition, on a really on a felt sense much more than intellectual of our shared common ground, not just of humanity, not just of our interconnectedness, right, not just that we share, breathe the same air and eat the same food and are interconnected, economically and ecologically and politically and culturally, you know, which is all true on a relative level. But deeper than that, really more essential than that, we share the very same ground of being, and that touches a whole different dimension. This recognition, then interconnectedness, and I find, I mentioned this, because I find these levels sometimes conflated the sense of the undivided nature of being in our interconnectedness, I would say our interconnectedness is an expression on a relative level, all sorts of relative levels of that underlying on divided nature. But when we touch that deepest level of that which is undivided, we come out of really, our, our deepest level of separation. And in that recognition of our, of our wholeness, so that’s something I I’ve been emphasizing more in my teaching, too, because it is interesting, as an early meditator, I really felt like I was going into my own space, you know, I was going into an expanse of space, but it was still on some level personal, even though it was described, you know, as whatever cosmic consciousness or God consciousness or unitive consciousness, I was going into a state, and it was somehow my state. And all of that falls away. There’s not a my state and it’s not a state and, and there’s a profound release that comes with that. Recognition and sense of awe to as I know, as this unfolded for me, it was, it was like this great open secret, revealing itself and you know, just touched me to the very core. Yeah, the obvious
Rick Archer: biblical references to what you’re talking about would be, you know, firstly, the golden role Rule Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and the deeper meaning of it is that they are you. And vice versa. And then also, you know, Whatsoever you do unto the least of these you do unto me. And you know, the deeper meaning of that, obviously is that we’re whatever you do, who was it? Alma has this saying that you know, spoon acting hurtfully toward others is like holding a knife that doesn’t have a handle and it’s sharp on both ends. You know, you’re you might be hurting them, but you’re cutting your yourself at the same time because, you know, there is that underlying unity.
John Prendergast: I heard many years ago when I was first in the US. I went on tour with her and we traveled to Boston, this would have been like 1987, I think. Anyway, someone asked her about, there was a similar kind of question. And she said, It’s like laying on your back and spitting up into the air.
That’s a good one. Like it all comes back. Make some cool, she comes up with some pretty good metaphors, some very,
Rick Archer: very earthy metaphor. stayed with me. A century later. Yeah. The question came in from Francis in Hampton, Virginia, Francis, Francis asks, having had a traumatic childhood, at times, I tried to work out those shadow aspects of myself. But knowing the limitations of analysis, I have a hard time knowing whether I all I am doing is getting lost, or reinforcing my story. Likewise, when doing self inquiry, I see that my story is just a story. However, I question. I’m attempting a question, if I’m attempting spiritual bypass, how can I tell the difference?
John Prendergast: That’s an excellent question. And it’s a question many people have know about doing psychological work or self inquiry and is the psychological work reinforcing psychological patterns is the self inquiry, avoiding psychological material. And it can be true in either case, actually. So you know, as you know, and some of your listeners know, I kind of move back and forth between those domains, depending really on where attention is being called, and what’s needed. So I think the most important thing is that when we there’s a kind of a dynamic interaction between these different domains of kind of conditioned and unconditioned, and we will be called to attend to one domain over another at various times. And that’s an intuitive process. So it’s about inner listening. It’s like what do I need to pay attention to can be a question? And to let the question kind of fall into the heart and be quiet. And often, if we listen, just for a minute, we can there’ll be an inner guidance or heart wisdom will begin to guide us as to where attention needs to go. Then another question is, how do we attend to our conditioning. And it’s very, with psychotherapy, the tendency is to, in the most superficial form is to talk about it and maybe identify, you know, origins, and, you know, our childhood, and then talk about those and hopefully, through insight, they’ll be some resolution. That is a fairly superficial approach and rarely yields very much and in fact, can reinforce the pattern. We just developed kind of a more psychologically savvy identity, but we’re still out the effect of the conditioning. A deeper approach is actually to go into it, you know, and actually explore it more experientially being willing to feel and sense the impact of it and be with that more intimately. This is a more effective approach. But I think the most effective approach is if we can begin from presence, and the more that we can begin our investigation into our conditioning, from a sense of presence,
John Prendergast: the less manipulative it will be, and the less we will be identifying with it, as well. So for those who have that kind of address, standing that there is a presence available. Whenever we’re, for instance, when I’m working with people who are in the awakening process and working with their psychological process, their material, I’ll say let’s take a minute is close the eyes. Take a few deep breaths, feel yourself held, you know in the chair, relax, feel yourself held by something greater than the chair or the gravity, a field of awareness, to the sense of space all around your body. Feel within your body, notice it’s the same space within and without your body. And notice that this space is awake. And, and then notice yourself as this awake space. So there’s an this can happen, not necessarily in such a linear way that I just, you know, walk people through, we may just say a few words that are kind of a reminder of that, but we source ourselves in and as presence. And then from that, like when a person often in two or three minutes has a sense of that presence, I’ll say, Okay, let’s bring attention to the area that’s really asking for, let’s say, there’s a contraction in the heart area, you know, that has its origins in some childhood conditioning, maybe we were we we felt ignored or abused or dismissed in terms of our value. And there’s a sense of contraction. And there’s a sense of a belief that goes with that I’m unlovable, and a feeling of shame. These are common aspects of conditioning. And I’ll say just bring, welcome this kind of cluster of conditioning into the field of presence. And let them both be here. So in this way, we’re actually inviting, like the small human heart, the conditioned heart to rest in the heart of awareness. And I’ll say just let them both be hurt. At the same time. Don’t try to make anything happen. Just notice. It’s very interesting. When we invite a condition aspect of our body mind, let’s say this contraction in the heart area, and the thoughts and feelings that go with it to be held. In awareness, the heart of awareness is loving field of awareness, without trying to make something happen. And just notice what happens. And this provides an optimal field, for the conditioned body mind to begin to tell that story unfold, often there’s a sense of relief, and release and a kind of melting. So in this way, we’re not avoiding anything, or evoking our true nature and, and welcoming our condition, experience into it. And what’s happening is it’s like the welcoming confusion and ignorance into the light of awareness. And just letting that light awareness do its work, which is spontaneously transformative. So this is a kind of a quick overview. And there are other elements, you know, that I Chris discuss in the book about working with our experience. And with self inquiry, coming back to the second part of the questioners question, often, the inquiry. If the inquiry is heartfelt, it’s more potent, which means if we bring attention to the heart area, and we can put our hands on the heart area, and just take a few deep breaths. And then we’ll ask our question, like, what is my deepest knowing? This is a question that has emerged in my work over the years with people what is the truth? Or what is my deepest knowing about this? And it could be a belief, for instance, that I’m unlovable, or I’m lacking, or I’m flawed, or I’m unworthy or endless variations on these core limiting beliefs, and then to let it go, just let the question go. And we don’t go to our mind for an answer. We’re just quiet. And what we’re doing, if we just like wait half a minute, something will begin to bubble up a felt sense, maybe an image, maybe a direct knowing, that is related to this light of awareness, to our true nature. And, and so this invites the infusion of heart wisdom into confusion, and the conditioned body mind. So this is a way that actually meditative inquiry can be used to work with our core, limiting beliefs and our conditioning.
John Prendergast: We can, of course, use meditative inquiry to sit with an essential question, who are what am I? What is this? What is the true nature of my heart? What is the nature of the ground? You know, these kinds of questions, and, and this is complimentary to sitting in deep silence, as well. So I think, I think there are ways that we can work psychologically, that don’t reinforce the patterns and the psychological identity. There’s ways to do meditative inquiry that don’t avoid or bypass our conditioning.
Rick Archer: One thing that I picked up on what you just said there, I mean, there might be instances in which you specifically want to probe into a particular thing, but very often, if you just sit in presence, it’s like nature has the wisdom of what to bring up, you know, it’s like, you know, sometimes I’ll be sitting in meditation, some little experience I had in childhood will bubble up around I remember some dream I had 30 years ago or something. And it’s like, I never would have thought thought to sit down and experience that. But that’s what chooses to, to come up at that particular time, presumably, because it’s ready to or in, I have a sort of a trust in the wisdom of the body to know how to purify itself of deep exaggerates
John Prendergast: exactly this is that these are deep impressions. And there is a deeper intelligence at work, when we avail ourselves to it when we really open and listen, there’s a natural unwinding process that often feels like melting. This is very interesting metaphor, like people read again, and again, they say, whatever that contraction may be, you know that that is related to that conditioning, they often relate it to kind of a sense of something cold or icy. And that as they just let it be held in the heart of awareness. There’s a sense of melting or softening. These are some of the comments descriptions that people come, that’s a very interesting description, like what’s happening there, you know, what’s happening there, in the melting. And I think, you know, the ice metaphor is a very interesting one, because I think ecocentric identity is like ice, you know, its fundamental nature is water. It’s fluid, right? But it’s crystallized, it’s hardened, it’s taken a shape that is malleable, in fact, and so it can be warmed, you know, when it’s met with real warmth, with which would equate with love and understanding, when there’s loving understanding, our conditioning tends to naturally melt. Like everything is waiting to be met with more of an understanding, in terms of our conditioning.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I thought of a metaphor for the point, we were just discussing, which is like, let’s say you eat really nutritious food, while your body knows how to metabolize those nutrients and where to send them, you know, maybe you need some calcium here, and some potassium there and some iron there, and so on and so forth. So like that, I think if we can learn to sit in presence, the body will know how to sit sounds funny to say us, but how to allow that presence to melt or soften in tight spots that are represented that that are the neurophysiological basis of that conditioning.
John Prendergast: Yeah, the metaphor of metabolizing is actually used a lot in psychological literature now is it it’s like, yeah, it’s like to metabolize and experience means to digest it, you know, and for it to be integrated for the, for what’s valuable to be kept and what’s not to be eliminated. Right. And that’s, that’s true. It’s like we’re metabolizing experience all the time, more or less efficiently. And the more tapped in we are the presence, the more that metabolic process psychological metabolic processes enhanced and catalyzed.
Rick Archer: A couple of questions have come in from Sweden from two different people. One is from Hannah, I won’t try to pronounce the names of these Swedish cities. And asks, What does it mean, when the body feels unbalanced? When one puts attention on on it? It seems like there’s something really hurt deep inside when attention is put on the body. Something feels really hurt inside. Yeah, this body feels out of balance its attention on it, and something feels really hurt. I guess that, you know, the follow up question to that would be, you know, well, I don’t want to put attention on it. Because it’s, it’s unpleasant. But I feel like I’m just wallowing in some deep hurt.
John Prendergast: Well, this is this is interesting, because it circles back to your one of your early questions about resistance, like, you know, this is so here all the time. Why don’t we, you know, why don’t we just access it more easily? Yeah, more people. And, and also a very interesting point that I’ve discovered in my work with people that these areas of imbalance or tightness or pain, often are the best pathways, the best in terms of quickest and most direct pathways to our direct nature, to our true nature. So because we avoid pain, we turn away from it. But the pain is to signal right, actually to pay attention. And as we grow in maturity, and particularly if I’m speaking of emotional pain, it continues to endure, we begin to pay attention and we begin to lean towards what we’ve been leaning away from. Especially we only understand that it’s a potential portal. So if we lean into our experience of being out of balance, if we lean into our experience of something that’s emotionally painful, particularly if we’re resource from presence, and that’s an important very important element, these will reveal themselves to be something other than what they initially seem to be. So if we feel into imbalance, we will find balance. If we feel into pain and emptiness and contraction, we will find reliefs, we will find fullness, we will feel an ease of being. And this is very, very important. And this is again a kind of tantric principle is that any experience can be a pathway to our essential nature, because it is an expression of that. Now, there’s a reason why this is, you know, because these imbalances in these pains are because I’m not speaking necessarily a physical illness, I’m speaking more of the interior subjective malaise. sense of malaise means that we’re not actually paying attention, we’ve overlooked something. And we’ve overlooked something important or essential. And beneath, and, you know, being beneath the contraction, we find essential qualities and our true nature. So it’s like in the tightest places, space. And this has been so interesting for people to discover, you know, what we’ve been running away from reactive to begin to approach with, not to change, but to be intimate with, and this is a very important principle, are willing to be intimate and curious and affectionate with our experience, or qualities really a presence. And we approach our experience with that. That’s what happens, a very natural kind of opening and something else is revealed, right? That the contraction was an expression of,
Rick Archer: I interviewed someone who wrote a book called what’s in the way is the way Yes, her name was Mary, I can’t remember her last name at the moment. But if someone if you search in the past interviews, that wasn’t very read, it was a different Mary, maybe you can find it. If you search under past interviews under under, and I’ll say the name because people would like to reference that. It’s
John Prendergast: a great title. Yes. Yeah. And important, an important principle. That’s right, we turn towards that which appears to be the the apparent obstacle is the portal.
Rick Archer: Here’s Mary O’Malley. Okay, good. Here’s another or other question from Sweden. This is Sam, who asks, Could you please elaborate a bit more on the concepts of the self versus the Gnosis? No self, these terms make up the core of many spiritual traditions, and yet they seem to cause more confusion than clarity.
John Prendergast: Yeah, that’s very true. There’s a lot of there are many definitions and, and no one definition. So I keep it pretty simple. Myself. And, and when referring to ego, I’m, I’m referring, or that ego itself is referring to our self story. And our self image is, it’s our self talk about who we are. And it’s our picture of who we are. And we don’t actually need that, we’ll probably always have a little bit of that. But we don’t need certainly don’t need to believe in it. And that’s really the most important thing to recognize. And to see through now, the self is much greater than our egoic story. And this kind of goes back to our conversation about individuation. So, you know, the self in terms of the body mind functioning, and the depth of the, of the conscious mind and the subconscious, all of that continues as it is. But as we see through this self story, and self image, there’s a feeling of great freedom. It’s tremendously liberating. We feel ourselves as unbounded awareness. And we feel the body mind then, being in us. This is the interesting thing, our sense of localization changes. It’s like, even though there is a kind of a local centre here, there’s also a sense of being unbounded within which the local center is appearing. So there’s a big shift when we recognize that no softness. And similarly, when we really get that in a deep way, there’s another step of realizing that no self is, or the no one is also everyone or everything. So they’re subtle localization. There’s an impersonal no one, and then there’s the sense of communion with everyone and everything. Yeah. So
Rick Archer: and I would think of the mall is just different levels have a larger wholeness, you know, it’s like, we wouldn’t say, Okay, there’s the ocean and then there’s the waves and the waves are non ocean as contrasted with the ocean, we would say that, you know, they’re both part of the ocean in a bigger sense, you know, the ocean isn’t just this isn’t just the stuff that’s not rising up in waves. So there’s this level of life that we could that is often referred to as the self, which is, you know, absolute, silent, nasty and unbounded and all that. And then there’s the individual expressions. But I think it’s more useful to think of them both as, as components of a larger hole, rather than as something we want to decide from one another. Yeah,
John Prendergast: it’s like, it’s all water, it’s different expressions, right. And I actually use that metaphor, that’s one of the organizing metaphors, as you no doubt read in my book, you know, where I, like the wave tip is are kind of the tip of the wave is our ordinary common sense identity as a separate self. And kind of the base of the wave is more of that soul level that I was talking about when I was talking about the levels of the heart, and the ocean itself would be the, the greater universal heart. So those correspond, they map actually, very, very precisely in that way. And so the, the recognition of no self is really Oh, I’m not just a wave tip. You know, I am the wave and the ocean. But it all continues, but it’s knowing the true nature of it. So we’re not eliminating anything, we’re actually illuminating the true nature of who we are.
Rick Archer: Here’s a quote that, that relates to that, from your book, until the deep heart awakens, we will believe and feel that we are a separate inside self in a separate outside world. So there’s a sort of, you know, separation or fragmentation that happens when you say, until the deep heart awakens, I guess, you know, it since we’re using this ocean analogy a lot, we could we could think in terms of, you know, our awareness just being restricted to the waves versus our awareness, kind of incorporating the full range of the ocean waves depth and basis of it all that.
John Prendergast: And, you know, the Yeah, and I’ve said, it’s just a useful metaphor. And by the way, the phrase that you just read was one that Rupert Spyro originated, as far as I know, so I put a little, I put a little footnote there, and attributing it to him, I find it a particularly precise and useful formulation, the inside separate self, the outside separate role, because that is our ordinary experience. We’re in here somewhere. Don’t ask me where exactly and, and yet, the world is out there somewhere. But really, as we examine very deeply, you know, as we inquire into who we’ve taken ourselves to be in where we’ve taken ourselves to be inside or outside, when we’ve taken ourselves to be past, future, or timeless, now, all of that begins to dissolve. And so to your listener, you know, I’m responding in particular, this is where self inquiry is really potent, to really question our common sense experience and to unlearn. But we’ve taken to be true about who we are. And the effect is really, you know, the wave discovers its oceanic nature, which completely changed or reorients its its life as a wave. You know, it gives it gives context, very much. So. I mean, otherwise, if the world is out there and separate, it’s then it’s always a threat. And so it was scary, always, always a threat, always the threat. And so we’re constant and the result of that scariness is that we pulled ourselves like that was a core contraction, we have to be vigilant, we, you know, we have to be protected. And when we, when we know that, really, it’s all the same, you know, that the what we call the world is myself, so to speak, there’s such a deep relaxation and, and then when life brings whatever challenges it does, and an ultimate and always will. They’re not, they’re not received as something hostile. Right? We don’t go into that deep sense of divisive terror. So and this is an interesting point, I just, I want to accent this. And I don’t remember if I did it in the last interview, but but there is a very kind of visceral terror that we carry as a separate self. And often, fear is born of duality, the Upanishads says, That’s right, it’s right in the Upanishads. So to face that fear, really that level of fear or terror takes courage and really love either or it because we’ve been suffering a lot. And we really want to just curious, you know, the illusion because we’re suffering or because we love truth, so much and often some combination of those gives us the kind of impetus to question this deeply and not be not turning away from our shear, but actually begin to turn towards it and feel into it. And this is one of the beauties is when we turn towards our fear or turn towards our terror, and we’re willing to kind of walk through it. It becomes an amazing portal to fearlessness, to earn a sense of what’s on divided. And again, that takes a lot of integrity to be willing to do that. One thought that’s been in the back of my mind, as we’ve been talking is that it’s not enough to listen to interviews like this or read books like yours, or anybody’s.
Rick Archer: In my opinion, it’s really helpful if there’s some kind of a daily practice of some sort, that works for you, and that you will practice regularly because it works for you. And someone, someone asked that I forget who, what’s the best practice? And the answer was the one that you will do regularly. Because, you know, what we’re talking about is experiential, and it necessitates a restructuring of the neurophysiology. You know, we’ve heard of brain plasticity. And that’s, that’s not just going to happen from listening to talks or reading books.
John Prendergast: Oh, it won’t. And that’s why a certain phase of this investigation is active, and may require a certain degree of effort, at least at first. And so listening,
John Prendergast: although effort has its onerous quality to it, you know, and I know it can be enjoyable if you if for practice really works for you look forward to it. Yeah, effort in just like creating space. Yeah, you know, and setting a schedule, certainly gentle discipline,
John Prendergast: a gentle discipline, yeah, not not a arduous one. And a regular or semi regular practice can be very helpful. At some point, a formal practice begins to be or can be supplemented with informal practice. And then they, you know, they they blend and I mean, I, I had years of very regular discipline practice. And now it’s more kind of intuitive and irregular. Because I think what I was looking for, was found, and that’s the main point of the practice is to facilitate that investigation. Yep. Once you’ve crossed the river, you may not want to stay in the boat.
Rick Archer: Right? Unless you want to do a little pleasure, pleasure cruise. I remember, a couple years ago at the sand conference, I moderated a panel on the direct versus the progressive paths. And I remember you were in the audience, at least for the first hour of it, I think the first our Yes. And anyway, maybe we can talk about that a little bit. Here’s a paragraph from your book, the direct path accents, the clear and immediate recognition of one’s true nature. By directly inquiring and sensing into who or what we really are, the greatest danger of following the direct approach is remaining on an intellectual level, people can fool themselves into thinking that they’re fully realized something that they haven’t, and become stuck in an arrogant mental view, as the deep heart remains dormant. And then I didn’t really copy down anything you said about the progressive path there. But my sense is that it’s, again, one of these things, it’s not an either or proposition, that the path can be both direct and progressive, that there can be direct sort of access to presence as we’ve been calling it. And that the regularity of that direct access leads to progressive development.
John Prendergast: So what would you say to all that, I would agree, you know, it’s the, the, the recognition of who we are as direct, you know, it’s in a way timeless outside of space and time. The transposition of that, to the body mind is progressive. Gradual. Yeah, yeah. Formulated and, and progressive practices have their value, like specifically sitting, you know, and then whatever kind of practice appeals to us, maybe it’s not sitting, maybe it’s moving, you know, or, or writing or whatever it may be, that deepens our self intimacy. So, I do see them as complimentary. And, and often people, they get attached to their view, they get attached to, okay, I have to practice, practice, practice, practice forever, and maybe in some future lifetime, you know, I will realize something and you do hear that in some, you know, some schools and then you have others that say you’re you are completely reinforcing the sense of being a separate seeker. You know, if you do any practice, and really just recognize who you are now and abide in and as that, but in truth, you know, I think they are complimentary and it’s an Important not to get attached to one or the other.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I mean, people hear the direct path. They think, oh, yeah, that’s what I want. I just want it directly, I want to screw around with some big long, multi year project. But I can honestly say that I don’t think I’ve ever encountered an example of anyone who on day one had some kind of directed full and complete realization and was thereby done.
John Prendergast: Yeah, I mean, you think of the, maybe the greatest exemplar of that would be Ramana Maharshi. So, you know, when he’s 16, he, you know, his uncle has died. He wants to know what death is, like he, as he goes, does a meditative inquiry, lays on the floor, asks, Who dies and awakens to his true nature. And then he goes and sits for many years at Shiva temple and, you know, are natural, and then up in the cave on the mountain, and then up? Yeah. And then two caves on the mountain for decades. And there’s a deepening and a maturation of that understanding that unfolds over time. Yeah.
Rick Archer: So I guess the synopsis of this point would be that, again, you can directly access presence on day one of your practice, if it’s an effective practice, but you can also continue to embody and unfold that for for decades thereafter. And it’s not like, it’s not like you wait for something to happen.
John Prendergast: I would say endlessly. Endlessly. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, there’s a I mean, this is my, my experiences, it just keeps refining and deepening. Yeah, I don’t I don’t see any end to the transposition of this understanding.
Rick Archer: I don’t either. And, and, and so it’s not like you’re waiting for something to happen. And you’re sort of just going on and on for years with no reward, so to speak. I mean, the reward is all along the way. It’s like you’re following the breadcrumbs. And you’re nourishing yourself on those breadcrumbs as you go.
John Prendergast: And then you discover you’re the bread? Yeah, yeah. It’s like, yeah, we become increasingly, there’s more and more evidence, you know, of our true nature. And we discover the source, you know, of those essential qualities. Yeah, we’ve mentioned Ramadan, we’ve, you know, mentioned Vedanta a bit. And we’ve also mentioned Tantra, and there can be a whole books written about the distinction between them. But some people I’ve heard lately saying that they feel that Vedanta is sort of dry or something, because it because it’s sort of its,
Rick Archer: it emphasizes the transcendent, so, so much to the exclusion of the relative world, relative world as regarded as Maya, and therefore, worthless or inferior in some way. Whereas Tantra sees the relative world as more infused with imbued with the divine as, as much, you know, part of the whole package as, as the Transcendent is, if you like, that’s a fair characterization. And we want to discuss that a little
John Prendergast: bit. Well, I think this, you know, I think it’s evolving, I think, probably traditional Advaita Vedanta has, you know, Historically and traditionally strong, strongly accepts the transcendent, and is a more has been a more renunciant path. And whereas, tantra more, the householder but you know, there’s householding, the Dantas, and certainly throughout history, and some that are more oriented towards worldly expression. I think what’s interesting though, is like, if we take the example of my teacher, Sean Klein, he studied with a Advaita Vedanta teacher in Bangalore, who was a Sanskrit scholar as well on the local college and, and really that, as well as with up Ananda Krishna Menon in the south, but he also studied with a cashmere Yogi that he met on a bus in Bangalore. And the, the occasion he was introduced to the Kashmiri tradition, and to vision on a by Raava, which is one of their key experiential texts, and B, never Gupta and che Mirage, and so in that lineage, and that really had an impact on his body sensing and his appreciation for this unfolding awareness. So John, for instance, was, you know, a lover of beauty, and of art and of life. And so he had a very, wouldn’t be traditional in his kind of Vedanta. He was not dry, in that sense. And that was what I was introduced to that was my introduction to kind of a blended, tantric, pedantic approach and I think that’s becoming more common. I think people who were have kind of come through the door of Vedanta or Advaita Vedanta are increasing We are inclusive of this, of the eminent and expressive and so I think there’s some evolution in these teachings.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I think there needs to be because, you know, the vast majority of people who would be listening to a show like this, or who are interested in spirituality aren’t going to be running off and living in a cave. And so the teaching needs to be appropriate for them. And that kind of more. And, you know, we can derive great inspiration from Ramanna. But we’re not going to live like He did. And, you know, few of
John Prendergast: us will I have a friend who tried in a desert in Southern California, but yeah, yeah, not many of us
Rick Archer: have friends who live in ashrams in the Himalayas, and, but a lot of them aren’t so integrated, you know, and I know, I used to be with them, and I’m sort of glad that I Am I no longer am I, I feel like my life is much more developed than it would have been.
John Prendergast: Well, this is interesting for me, because, yeah, there was I think, you know, when you and I were first getting engaged in TM, there was an idealized image, you know, of what a sage would be, and what spiritual realization would be, and there’s been a, an unfolding, more inclusive understanding over the years and, and we also see the limitations of a more monastic and renunciate approach is people cut off and deny very important parts of their humanity. And then when they come out of the cave, they really have difficulty in relationships. And with our students, right, yeah, it’s endless reports of scandals, you know, and Hindu, Buddhist, Monk, Hindu and Buddhist teachers who are schooled, who are old school, and don’t really have that interior maturity, because with it, so it’s an evolving, understanding and conversation.
Rick Archer: All right, well, we’re getting on towards the end of our talk, we have maybe 15 more minutes, if we want to take it as is, or there’s some things that you feel are important, that we haven’t had a chance to talk about.
John Prendergast: But we haven’t, I think I’m going to talk a little bit, kind of contextualize the work of the heart, as well. So even though the book itself really accepts these different dimensions of the heart and ways of recognizing and working with them, it’s, it’s part of a much greater system as well, as I suggested the beginning, you know, at the top of our, our conversation rec, and so it’s really important that we have mental clarity, and wakefulness. And that means that we really see the limitation of thought, and the this compulsion to try to know things that we can’t, in order to control in order to survive, and to get increasingly comfortable with not knowing. So, when we let go of our conventional graph, aspect to know, and are willing to not know, then, spontaneously, we’re open to different kind of knowing. And this is really where the heart wisdom arises. So people often get hijacked, you know, we talk about the heart, but, but they’re not really mentally clear. There’s not sufficient wakefulness on the level of the mind. So we’re hijacked by our beliefs and our thoughts and, and the tendency of the mind to try to, you know, envision possibilities and solve problems and decode. So that clarity, I think, is really important, in order for attention, to really drop into the heart, in a more sustained and deep way. So here’s how the mind and the heart work. And also, we carry these core limiting beliefs. And as you know, this is an important part of my work with people. Even though the thought those thoughts may localize in the mind, they have a very deep effect on the heart area. So if we’re holding the belief that I am unlovable, or unworthy, or lacking or flawed, it creates a frozen place in the heart area. And this is where, you know, a very kind of heartfelt meditative inquiries, very helpful in both freeing the mind and the heart. But a theme we haven’t talked so much about, is the theme of safety, and the opening of the heart. Before we
Rick Archer: get into that, so hold that thought, the thing about not knowing Can you give a specific example of that? And I’ll give you one, why don’t you tell me if this is the kind of thing you’re talking about. But for instance, I have this friend, and we were talking about climate change. And he was saying, Well, I don’t really know. And I said, well, the scientists who’ve been studying it seem to know and he said, Yeah, but I know there’s so many things that scientists say that turned out not to be true. And and I said, Okay, well, how about the moon landing? Some people think that was faked and said, Yeah, I don’t really know about that. I said, Okay, how about the Earth is flat? I mean, there’s whole Flat Earth Society these days, and a shockingly large percentage of the population buys into it large meaning six 7%? And he said, Well, you know, I don’t know for sure, yes. And you know, come on, man. So, obviously, there are things we can know with a high degree of certainty, even if we haven’t experienced them personally. But maybe this has nothing to do with the kind of knowing or not knowing that you were correct. fruiting referring to Yeah,
John Prendergast: yeah. Yeah, that kind of not knowing is ignorance. We’re ignoring the facts. It’s not about ignoring facts, right. But it’s about seeing the limits of the mind. And so the mind is really good at analyzing phenomena. But the mind cannot grasp its true nature, its source, because it’s not an object I see. And this is really important for the mind to see its own limitations. It’s like it needs I mean, first of all, there’s a lot that it doesn’t know, just in terms of what’s going to happen next, you know, not only the weather, we kind of more knowing more about that, but we don’t know our time of death, although there’s a certain probabilities for that. That’s on a relative level. But in terms of knowing our true nature, you know, the mind can know that it cannot grasp it, that it’s the servant and not the master. That’s really what I’m referring to. It’s like, I can’t go there. And I don’t need to know, this is really another really important point. It’s like I can’t know. And I don’t need to know. And with that comes a relaxation. Right? We don’t have a false sense of control. Right, we have a, we have a discerning sense of control. And so I don’t need to know, I can’t know I don’t need to know, something in us just relaxes and it allows attention, then we come out of our hyper vigilant state and our grasping state, attention drops down into the heart area. So that’s what I’m referring to. And then and then this is very surprising for people, a different kind of knowing emerges that’s more direct or intuitive. And more appropriate, in terms of our internal guidance system, as well.
Rick Archer: Okay. Okay. Yeah. There’s something also about knowing or not knowing, even with certain relative things that, that if one is sort of adamant about certain ideas, or insisting that things happen any particular way, in some particular way. There’s a kind of a egotism to that, and sort of humility to its opposite, you know,
John Prendergast: that’s right. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It’s like, well, yeah, it’s, like climate change, for instance, we don’t know how quickly it’s unfolding, you know, and what the effects will be, we’re getting more and more evidence in this is this is that it’s accelerating faster, actually, then the most extreme. anticipated results have been in the past. Right. And, and so we’re seeing more and more articles, you know, about what the potential potential impacts and having to rethink more and more quickly, so we’re very much into, you know, you know, not knowing and being humble about that, and being open, you know, to learning and discovery. And so there is a natural humility, and the best scientists have that our best scientists are not arrogant at all, you know? So it’s that, that quality of humility. That’s natural, important. But I’m going to get back to the point of safety if I can, because, yes, go ahead of me to the last. And, and this is. On a practical level. If we don’t feel a deep sense of safety, within ourself, it’s very hard to keep our hearts open. That’s just true on a human level. And it’s very interesting just to, to notice that, you know, in terms of our contact with people know whether we feel safe with them or not, whether we’re trusting of them or not. And so, this is important because we’re talking this is the domain of the Hora and this explains a little bit what heart is Hara and in Japanese means belly, and it’s the it’s really the, the abdomen, and it ranges from the area up to the diaphragm, all the way to the tailbone, and energetically encompasses the lower three chakras, the base of the spine and below the navel and the genital area and the solar plexus. So it’s an area that governs a sense of innocence. stability and our inner feeling of ground. And whether our ground feels open, spacious, and stable or not, and whether we feel connected, really with a sense of the ground. So part of the sustained opening of the heart requires a certain degree of felt sense of stability within ourselves as well. So that’s a deep inquiry, what is safety? Right? What is our ground? What is it that we apparently stand on and who’s standing. And it’s also subtle as the heart is, and in some ways, more difficult to sense into because it’s instinctual and unconscious. And yet, as human beings, a very important part of our experience, and one that supports the opening and awakening of the heart,
Rick Archer: I’m just reminded of that verse in The Gita, none can work the destruction of this immutable being. Now, you know that if you knew yourself as that immutable being that would bring with it a certain degree of safety and security, exact, but obviously, if you think you’re just this little flesh and blood thing, then Whoa, it’s very vulnerable.
John Prendergast: Well, this is it. And so, you know, it’s our identification with the body. This particular body is very strong, right, and very compelling. And this is an important part of the inquiry process as we go into the Hora is the identification with the body and with the will being the doer. Right. So this is a whole nother kind of range of issues and questions that are existentially relevant to the heart.
Rick Archer: Yeah, a question just came in, which hasn’t been sent to me yet. But I just saw some little discussion on the site about it. So we’ll see when that comes in, whether we have time to ask it. But I guess I think you’ve kind of touched upon this. But let’s, let’s hit a hit it one more time. Which is that? No, what would you recommend that people do on a regular basis, or an irregular basis or whatever it takes to,
John Prendergast: you know, use the heart as a portal to, to present to the transcendent to,
Rick Archer: you know, as an evolutionary mechanism? What can they do routinely if it takes routine to really make some progress through the use of the heart?
John Prendergast: Okay, yeah, so we come back to the question of practice, it can be helpful to begin simply by bringing attention to the heart area. And this is, you know, my book has a series of practices in it, that potential readers may be interested in, and by the way, I’m planning to, and in the process of videotaping them and putting them on YouTube, as practices, but the first practice is actually to learn to bring attention to the heart area, and we can put our hand on our heart. And we can imagine that we’re breathing into and out from the heart area. And each time we breathe for that our attention fall more deeply into the heart. So in some ways, this is like a mindfulness practice, you know, just using the breath as an anchor. Sometimes I suggest, you know, to students that they use their Hara, or an area that dantian below the navel, but in terms of the heart to focus in and breathe. And I would say to a good preliminary practice, is to think of someone or something that you feel grateful or loving toward. And that evokes a sense of love and gratitude. And then to let go of that object, that person or place or thing, and just focus on the sense of gratitude and love, and feel yourself falling back into and as that and rest in an ounce, that says, a way of just enlivening the heart area, as well. So it’s a good preliminary practice, there’s a related practice, which is one of self inquiry, which is with your attention kind of resting in the heart area, to repeat the plots of vocally I am until you get a sense of what that is, the sense of I Am, and then follow it back to its source. So in one case, we’re following the sense of love back to its source love and gratitude, and the other we’re following the sense of I am and they all take us to the same source. which is a capital H heart. There are a lot of complementary practices that can go with that in terms of meditative self inquiry. But those would be two preliminary practices I could recommend.
Rick Archer: And you have a bunch of these things in your book actually, you know, various practices one can try. Um, a question came in that’s quite unrelated to what we’ve been talking about, but I can really relate to this guy. It’s Martin from Freiburg, Germany, or fiber, or fiber. Because what he describes was very true of my mother, also, my mother was in and out of mental hospitals from the My, from when I was about 13, through when I was about in my early 20s, and several suicide attempts and all, and I couldn’t deal with it, until I actually learned to meditate. And then I still had the energy and clarity to start, you know, trying trying to visit her regularly and help her and all that stuff. And she eventually learned to meditate and underwent a huge change. She came over to Switzerland and stayed with Mary She for nine months and but it was big, huge relief. But in any case, let’s see what we can do for Martin here. He says My mom has dementia, and got locked up against her will in a nursing nursing home by her narcissistic husband, not my dad, who has the health care proxy. Although he tries to sue me and stop me from seeing her since five months, I visit her every day for six to nine hours and try to relax her and ease her suffering and her terror of the sickness. I feel the responsibility to try to get her out legally. But I feel so tired and discouraged any tips how to approach this from a higher perspective?
John Prendergast: Well, first time touched by you know, the, the situation the suffering Marton by the difficulty of seeing your mom institutionalized and, and also the difficulty of being someone who is experiencing Alzheimer’s, which my mother did, and I spent five years with her, often nearby as she went through that illness. And it’s a it’s a heart rending experience. So I think I think that’s important is actually to be able to open to your own suffering, that is to say, the pain that you carry in your own heart with some tenderness and some gentleness, to to hold it to hold your own heart, let your own heart be held in presence, you know, as you witness this difficult situation, and to feel yourself held by something greater. Right, it’s not all up to you. There is a greater loving awareness that holds all of us, including your mother, and to feel into that, and as you do, you’ll feel more at peace in yourself and more grounded in yourself, and you’ll be able to be with her actually in a more attuned way, in a less fearful or anxious way. And what that means practically, I’m not sure. But just by being more released, feeling yourself more reduced and held, you can do the same for your mom.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I would echo what you just said, which is that make sure you charge your own batteries, Martin. Because if you go in there, you said you feel tired and discouraged. If you go in there and that condition, it’s, you’re not going to be helping her as much as if you somehow can rejuvenating and refresh yourself and go in there with you know, fully charged inner batteries, so to speak. And as I mentioned, you know, meditation did that for me. If you have a practice, and even just getting a good night’s sleep and making sure you’re getting enough exercise and stuff just so that you’re kind of strong and healthy, it’ll better it because I know the atmosphere and those places can be can really drag you down.
John Prendergast: Even if it’s you know, go ahead. And it’s important not to merge with your mom. And this can happen kind of unconsciously where we get pulled into the others experience a kind of dark vortex and and that’s exhausting also. I mean it’s exhausting to spend spend six or nine hours a day most days to do it, but it’s also exhausting to get pulled into someone else’s emotional and energetic field. So kind of building on your point as well. It’s important to keep kind of a clear boundary on a personal level and don’t burn out take care of yourself and above all the greatest resources to tap into your being
Rick Archer: Yeah, but I really respect you Martin for you know doing that. I mean Having based upon my own experience for having having gone through something like that, and having not been able to even do it for many years until finally I was able to do it. So the fact that you’re, you’re so dedicated to your mother, I really honor that and hope it works out for you. We wish you well. Yeah. It’s, it’s really an honorable thing. Okay, well, it’s a little bit of a downer note to end on. But it’s it’s it’s a poignant one as
John Prendergast: well. It’s all out though. Pardon? It’s very poignant. It is. Yeah. Yeah. It’s hard rammed it is. I mean, I really felt it touched my heart more than anything we’ve talked about today. You know, just There you go. Has your human experience. Yeah, I
Rick Archer: just really feel for what he’s going through. Um, okay, well, how it let’s say people have heard this. And they obviously they can read your books. And what else? How do you interact with people? Do you have time to deal with more people than you’re already dealing with?
John Prendergast: You get well, let me go down. Let me say a little bit about that. mean, first of all, the book, the book comes out December 10, but can be ordered now. I do have my website listening from Silence, calm and public events page and in which, you know, listing various online and in person events that I’m involved with, including residential retreats, mostly on the west coast. But also east coast and in Europe is beginning to unfold as well, Amsterdam, and spring. So that would be the best source. And in terms of individual meetings, I really, I I really have no availability for so I yeah, I just have a ridiculously long waiting list. And I’m reducing my practice as it is. Yeah, I’m not really available for one on one, one on one work anymore. Okay,
Rick Archer: but you do have retreats, and I’ll be linking to your website and to your books from your page on bat gap calm. And so if people are just driving in the car, while they’re listening to this, you don’t have to stop and write it down or anything, you can just check the website and you can you know, follow the links to John’s site and his books. Okay, well, thanks, John. It’s been really nice spending time with you. I always enjoy running into at the sand conference, you always have this sort of gentle presence about you that I find soothing. Especially out there I need all the soothing I can
John Prendergast: conferences so intelligent, busy guy at this conference. Yeah, pleasure. Pleasure to see you there. And to be with you today. I enjoyed it very much.
Rick Archer: Thanks. Thanks to those who have been listening or watching. This is an ongoing series, as most of you know. So if you’d like to be notified of upcoming ones, you can either sign up for the email list on bat gap comm or you can subscribe to the YouTube channel, or both. And one thing I discovered about subscribing is once you subscribe, then this little bell appears to the right of the subscribe button. And if you click that, it sort of tells YouTube that you want to be notified every time. This channel posts a new video, which in our case is once a week. So if that’s what you want, click the little bell. So thanks for listening or watching and we will see you for the next one. Thanks again, John. They’re very welcome. My pleasure.