Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha the gas pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. If you like to check out the archive of over 280 of them, and or support our efforts, there’s a Donate button on batgap.com Please visit that site batgap.com And I’ll give you more details later in the show. My guest today is John J. Prendergast, PhD. John is a retired professor of psychology at the California Institute of integral studies in San Francisco, and a psychotherapist in private practice. He spent many years studying with the European Advaita masters John Klein, as well as with Adyashanti he was invited to share the Dharma by Dorothy hunt in 2012. He is the author of in touch, how to tune into the inner guidance of your body and trust yourself. newly available from sounds true. He is the senior editor of two anthologies of original essays about about non dual wisdom and psychology, entitled The sacred mirror and listening from the heart of silence. He is also the founder and editor of undivided the online journal of non duality and psychology. So welcome, John. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’ve always just enjoyed listening to you at the Science non duality conference, you have a sort of a gentleness and clarity about you that I should aspire to of. Course, you weren’t a drummer in a rock band and your teens probably so that’s true. Yeah. Culture, gentleness for many decades. Maybe born with it. But you and I do have something in common you you learned TM in the early days, and you were actually a TM teacher, and you spent time in the Alps on long meditation courses, right? Indeed, I did. Yeah. How long did you stick with that?
John Prendergast: With the with TM as a teacher? Ah, actually, it was kind of a short career. Probably about a year and a half, I would say
Rick Archer: okay, yeah. And then as I recall, from your bio, and your book, you said that you were on some long course in the Alps. And you had a vision of Sai Baba that moved you to go to India? Yes. Did you actually see Sai Baba there or
John Prendergast: just gone? Yeah. Yeah. Well, you know, I saw him in India a couple of years later, okay. I had known him before and read about his teachings. And when I was on this long course, and Sam Perez, it was really, I was really, there was a very strong urge to find my teacher. And it was very spontaneous. It’s not something that I had felt really, until that point, or shortly before actually going on that long course. But it was a deep yearning in the heart. And during the long meditation course, I just found myself spontaneously praying to find my teacher. Interesting. And this vision very compelling vision of Sai Baba appeared, and struck me deeply. And so it felt like there was something to follow there. Yeah. That was the next step.
Rick Archer: And obviously, you felt that Maharishi wasn’t your teacher? You wouldn’t have been Frank for one.
John Prendergast: Well, exactly. And but I wasn’t clear. It was interesting. One of the reasons I went on a six month cities course at the time wasn’t so much the interest in you know, the cities as it was, is Maharishi, my teacher not. And, you know, I really, in a way I wanted him to be, you know, because I felt real affection for him and real appreciation for TM. But I couldn’t it never, you know, it never happened. The spark never really turned into a flame.
Rick Archer: Yeah, no, that’s, that’s cool. I think for many people TM was a sort of a transitionary thing. And marshy was sort of a transitionary guru, you know, and they got a lot out of it. And then they went on to other things that they needed to go on to.
John Prendergast: Exactly that was my experience. It was a great introductory experience, both to sitting you know, and going on long retreats and also as an introduction to Vedanta.
Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah. Well, I hope that you didn’t receive any of those special oil massages from Sai Baba.
John Prendergast: I did not good. Actually, my experiences you know, he’s a controversial teacher and my experiences with Sai Baba were all benevolent. Yeah, it’s interesting. I actually, it was a period really of devotion, I would say an opening my heart. And it was it’s actually quite valuable. But it was also, you know, it wasn’t fully fulfilling either. So You know, that’s when things began to change as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s interesting. And this kind of ties in with the theme of your book, how we, and the theme of your teaching how we kind of follow subtle impulses from one thing to the next. And if we’re open to them, we’re guided.
John Prendergast: Exactly. Yeah, I was following something. But each time I would take a step, it was a step into the unknown. Yeah, like I was, I was very devoted, you know, I was running a TM center, I was the chairman of the largest Center in California, and I was very invested in it. And then it was like, you know, let that go. What’s next. And then there was a movement to go to India and spend time with Sai Baba. And then at a certain point that no longer was authentic or true for me. And each time, there was a big letting go into the unknown and a following a something very quiet and very deep, which I would call a sense of truth or authenticity for me. Clearly, you know, people have their own pals.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you must know my friend, Timothy Conway. Timothy is a good friend of mine. I’ve never met him face to face, but we just have this bond, you know?
John Prendergast: Yeah. We were housemates at the Sai Baba Center in San Francisco. Yeah. And actually, you know, in my book, I mentioned that a friend. I had this dream with Nisargadatta. And I didn’t know of, but actually, I was living with Timothy. And he showed me the picture of Nisargadatta and gave me the book.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it was, I have in my notes here dream awakening, and I forgotten exactly the details of that was that’s the dream was the saga data?
John Prendergast: Well, it could be I mentioned a dream of the awakening of the energy body. And that that was different that was prior to that about a year before.
Rick Archer: What was that about?
John Prendergast: Well, I was in India at Sai Baba this Ashram. And kind of in the middle of the night, there was just this sense of tremendous energy awakening in the body. And so I woke from the dream state, but the body was just like radiant or glowing. And it was just like, some deeper energies of the body were starting to wake up. And that was really, you know, from, you know, from that point, I began to feel, you know, a sense other people’s energies and feelings in a very increasingly subtle and accurate way as well. So that’s, that’s kind of another story. But the the story with Nisargadatta was, again, you know, living in the same place, and not knowing who he was having a dream of the sage. When I was, well, the dream was set in Bombay. And the sage was inviting me to come into his little apartment. And he looked into my eyes, and there was just this tremendous love and lucidity. And he said, You know, I know you’re a student of Sai Baba, but you can spend some time with me and took me by the arm. And that was that was my introduction to I am that and really to self inquiry.
Rick Archer: I’ve interviewed a lot of people who have had experiences like that Pamela Wilson, for instance, with with Ramana Maharshi. And a fella named Nick guns at Tonto and, and others. You off quite often it’s been Ramana Maharshi. But maybe there have been some others. So what do you think? Are the mechanics of that? What’s actually going on? Are these guys hanging out on some subtle level? And they’re actually sort of intervening in our lives? Or is it somehow the divine intelligence, just taking a particular form that that we can relate to? Or maybe those two theories are synonymous?
John Prendergast: You know, it’s a great question. And I don’t have any clarity about it, it’s really quite mysterious. If I had to choose one I would choose be, you know, divine intelligence, because I don’t think necessarily, when a teacher who we are unaware of pops up in a dream and affects us deeply, you know, I don’t think necessarily that they’re aware of it. I think it’s more of an archetypal movement. It’s like when there’s a certain readiness on the part of the student, sort of the universe, sort of, you know, brings what’s necessary and an outer teacher will appear to help the inner teacher know, their true nature. And I think Nisargadatta played that role for me for several years until I met Sean Kline. And in fact, the interesting thing was that Maharaj Nisargadatta, died a month after I had that dream. So the figure,
Rick Archer: but it kind of makes you wonder about the nature of that divine intelligence governing the universe that could, you know, give rise to a dream experience that were or even a waking state experience and Pamela Wilson’s case, she, you know, she had this like, this ardent desire to know truth and then she kind of went to bed and next thing and she, she woke up and there was an Indian guy sitting on her bed and she threw a pillow Adam, but but, you know, there’s it makes you wonder about the nature of that divine intelligence that can orchestrate or such experiences in us in the middle With a dream or whatever, or sometimes the waking state, some people walking down the State Street and all sudden they have this vision of Ramana Maharshi. So you just wonder, I wonder about what that how that intelligence operates, you know, to give us to result in such experiences. It’s not obviously some some homogenous plain vanilla field of nothingness. There’s some kind of intentionality or guidance or evolutionary direction in it that gives rise to these things.
John Prendergast: Yeah, that’s well said.
Rick Archer: Anyway, it continually fascinates me that kind of thing.
John Prendergast: It’s, it’s fascinating. And it’s, it’s really beyond the mind the conscious minds understanding of it. And it leaves me very humble. Yeah. Because I realized the conscious mind is, though, so little pride of what’s going on, and it thinks it knows so much. Yeah. Right. And so there’s just this constant humbling. And for me, just coming back to not knowing and being at ease in the unknown, and trusting that guidance. And of course, that’s what the book is about to
Rick Archer: yeah, we’ll talk about not knowing more in the course of this interview, we can even talk about a little bit now if you want. But, you know, sometimes that when you hear that phrase, you kind of someone might assume that it just means a sort of stupidity or like, I don’t know, anything, you know. But really, it can be great wisdom, paradoxically, simultaneous with this sense of not knowing.
John Prendergast: Right, it’s not stupidity. Its clarity, its openness. Yeah. It’s an open mind.
Rick Archer: It’s an interesting point, let’s just just dwell on it for a second, we’ll go on to other things. But no, I mean, there are a lot of people in this world who are just cocksure of themselves, you know, they feel this about guns or this about abortion, or this about such and such political party or candidate or whatever. They’re just like, willing to die for these things. And we see it on the news every day people are dying for the things they believe in or killing others for the things they believe in. And, you know, what you’re referring to is a much more humble position. You know,
John Prendergast: yeah, this is the arrogance of the mind that thinks that knows, you know, and then will sacrifice life be very cruel to oneself and others. On the behalf. You know, this is our the tendency of the mind to be fundamentalist, right? religious or political or personal, that need to believe, you know, that we’re in charge, it’s a way to try to be in control. Yes, what it is. And so relinquishing that illusion, of some kind of absolute control of our life, is one of the hardest things to do as a human being, to constant opening and surrendering, as well. And we’re so wired evolutionarily, you know, both the mind and the body to try to be in control in order to survive. So that that, you know that that that false certitude is really, you know, creates a lot of violence.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so you just, you just cited survival, the survival instinct as one of the reasons for that need to be in control and, and how about fear also, perhaps it’s closely related to survival, there’s this sort of fear, like, if I, if I don’t do this, what’s going to happen? You know, if I’m not in control, then what’s gonna happen to my, well, that’s
John Prendergast: what it’s all about. It’s survival fear. You know, it’s very interesting, working with people, you know, and anyway, sitting with people, and they drop in, and really get honest, there’s tremendous, there’s a terror, you know, of not surviving, and it may be physical terror, the loss of safety of the body, but also the terror of losing who we think we are. Yeah. And they’re distinct. They’re related, but they’re actually distinct. And it’s quite interesting to tease those out.
Rick Archer: You know, how when a jet goes through the sound barrier breaks the sound barrier there, this there’s a sort of envelope it has to Pierce and there’s a turbulence as it just about goes through, you know, Chuck Yeager, the whole book about him the right stuff. But then once it breaks through, it’s smooth, and you know, that it’s going faster than the speed of sound. So I think that’s kind of a good analogy for this. There’s, there’s a sort of a barrier of fear that one has to traverse. I bet you there are all sorts of significant stories about this, too. You’re crossing some barrier of fear and then having crossed it, have you taken that blind leap, as you said earlier on in the interview, you know, not knowing what’s on the other side. One finds it’s much nicer than the side in which one was desperately trying to maintain control. This
John Prendergast: is this is it, it’s not what the mind thinks. You know, what the mind does is it projects all of its worst fears, on this openness, this unknown him, you know, openness and emptiness, and so, you know, it’s all the nightmares are projected onto it. And that’s the resistance barrier that we create. I mean, even The image of leaping off a cliff, you know, Carlos
Rick Archer: Castaneda. Yeah. I remember that.
John Prendergast: I do, do you remember that I read all those books. Right. But it’s not, you know, even that is dramatizing what the letting go is about. And one of the curious things is that people, even though, we may break that barrier of resistance, sometimes with glimpses, you know, during meditation, or, you know, whatever, and then the egoic structure re crystallizes, and we find ourselves back on the other side of it again, still, that fear remains. Interestingly, it’s, it’s sometimes attenuated. But often you have to go through it many times in order for the body mind really to feel at ease with that transition into the unknown, into what feels profoundly ungrounded initially, and then, and then ultimately, very grounding.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, I don’t know what your practices have been like, all these years, but I know with with TM, that was always the experience was that you, you sink into an unbounded, you know, transcendental state, which is not gripped and controlled, and, or anything, and you actually do so through a process which is totally effortless and without control. And but then, you know, your, your ego, your individuality kind of crystallizes again, when you come out. And then you remember the old cloth and dye analogy, you alternate that many, many, many, many times. And eventually, in the dye in the sun in the dye in the sun, the cloth becomes colorfast Yeah, it’s
John Prendergast: actually a beautiful metaphor, I’d come back to that recently, you know, that kind of being letting the body mind be saturated in being, and it does take time. That’s true.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So that’s a good thing to note, I think, because a lot of times, I think that the whole idea of awakening is over simplified in the sense, you know, person says, I’ve had an awakening or so and so has had an awakening and there’s one assumes finality, and you know, that you’re done. You’re, you’re free and clear. But then, you know, as you’ve been saying, Here, the ego creeps back in the individuality of sorts itself there layer after layer after layer of conditioning, and it’s gonna take some time to work that out.
John Prendergast: It does he, I mean, when can have it’s a very, it’s a subtle and interesting subject, that of awakening. And, you know, I, I think it’s more of a process than an event and, and yet, there are certain markers along the process where there is a fundamental shift that happens, as well. So we can have glimpses and falling back and then a kind of gravitational shift of identity. But nonetheless, it’s in order for it to be thoroughgoing. You know, one way I think about it is, it’s fairly easy to have a mental awakening, where we’re fundamentally dissident aside from our thoughts and stories, that’s kind of the easy part. But it’s, it’s, it’s that movement of awareness, saturating all the way down through the body, through the emotional centers through the instinctual centers. This is where, you know, our deepest identity identifications remain. And that’s why awakening, you know, really, I think, is a lifelong process.
Rick Archer: Sounds like ideas head heart gut structure.
John Prendergast: You know, I think I just really named it well, you know, the head, the heart and the Hara. And that’s been my experience, that this kind of idea doesn’t speak about waking down, is a term Sanyo bonder uses, but what I find really quite beautiful. There’s a waking up process of, you know, out of form and realizing oneself as infinite open spaciousness, and then awaking down, it’s that same movement goes from the mind to the heart to the horror, as well, and that the Permian I think that takes many years.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And wouldn’t you say? Or would you say that the waking up process infinite open spaciousness doesn’t sell them is going to go to 100%. And then from there, the waking DOM processes going to proceed? It’s rather both take place by you know, steps, lessons here, left foot, right foot, left foot right back?
John Prendergast: Yeah, these are, these are complementary processes. It’s not hierarchical. And I, you know, as we have more experience with this, this is what we understand. There can be, we could speak of it as awakening and embodiment, but it’s like a deeper intimacy with our true nature. And then the application of that into our daily life and our functionality and the to support each other. Yeah, there’s a movement back and forth between being and doing and in the doing, we discover our reactivity and, and our identifications and fixations and if we’re really honest and vulnerable and willing to experience those, they open up and we come back to our beingness again, and and that becomes a stronger more rooted experience. So I agree that there’s it’s a very much a complimentary process. And some people interestingly, have done a lot of work on themselves, you know, psychologically, I would say so they’re in touch with their bodies and their feelings. And they’re psychologically mature, but they haven’t really touched the essence yet. And other people have really gone for the essential, you know, but they’re really not very familiar with their conditioning and their body minds, and they’re awkward in relationship and uncomfortable as human beings. So, you know, one way or the other, you know, we’ll have to include both
Rick Archer: Yeah. And in a way, I almost would consider the ladder to be the more dangerous of the two, you know, because you get these people who have a ton of Shakti, the great charisma, and all, but who are really kind of screw ups on the level of emotions and behavior and end up using their charisma to take advantage of people. So they end up doing a lot more harm than somebody who has done a lot of work in themselves that may not have had a non dual awakening yet.
John Prendergast: Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, you know, the field is just full of stories of, you know, charismatic, brilliant teachers who are abusive to their students, and the abusive of a teacher, to a student is really, I think, the worst kind, because a student really puts their deepest innocence and trust, you know, yeah, it, you know, their, their essential nature in the hands of the teacher, you know, trusting and if that trust is betrayed, The wound is terrible, you know, greater than in personal relationships. So there’s a, there’s a tremendous responsibility. I think that comes with being a teacher.
Rick Archer: There is, and I know, people who’ve been kind of bitterly disillusioned about spirituality in general, because of some violation by a trusted teacher. Absolutely. And, and it’s insidious, because, you know, I mean, these trusted teachers, start out well intentioned, and actually end up doing a lot of good in the world, you know, and that’s true. Yeah. And very often the the shenanigans are concealed. And people don’t even know that they’re going on. There in the shadows. Yeah. So it’s not it’s not like a black and white situation. It’s,
John Prendergast: it’s not, you know, it’s a mixed bag. And, and, you know, the mind always wants to split and say, all good or all bad, right. And part of the maturity is to recognize exactly what you’re saying, Rick, you know, is that it’s, it’s a mixed bag, you know, and people can do, you know, teachers can do tremendous good and harm simultaneously, because of their own unintegrated nature. Right, we’re multi dimensional. So we can really shine and be transparent on one level, and very kind of dense and occluded on another. And and both are radiating simultaneously.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I want to continue to dwell on this theme with you for a few minutes. But I just want to interject that those who are listening to the live stream, if you want to submit questions, you go to the upcoming interviews page on batgap.com, which I believe is under the future interviews menu. And then you scroll down a bit, and you’ll see a form through which you can submit a question. And hopefully, that form is going to work. I’ve been making some changes to the website, it would be a shame. If it didn’t, Dan, why don’t you do a test question in there and make sure it’s working and send me a message if it isn’t. Okay. So on this theme. Just want to talk a little bit more about this, this kind of schizophrenia that sometimes occurs between people who are very awakened in their consciousness, and yet have these kind of shadow things or blind spots that they haven’t worked out? I had always, you know, back from TM days, you know, the, the teaching was that, well, you know, what are the root and enjoy the fruit, if you take care of consciousness, then that’s just going to percolate or seep into every phase of your life and all those things will take care of themselves, you don’t have to worry about them. But in practice, in reality, I don’t think it has worked out that way. Neither did it work out that way for marshy himself, nor for, you know, all the people and don’t need to pick on the air movement. It hasn’t worked out that way for anybody in any movement or spiritual path.
John Prendergast: Yeah, it’s just kind of really true. And I help, you know, I held that belief as well. There is some truth to it as well, there is some falling away of conditioning and egoic patterning. But the fact is, it’s, it’s insufficient. And it really requires, this is where honesty comes in. It’s where we have to get out of our ideal of how we think we should be or it should work and get real, really look at how we live our lives. Really look at our reactivity, you know, look at our functioning and be very honest with ourselves. And in that honesty, this is where actually I would say the love of truth comes in, you know, not just ultimate truth, but relative truth. You know, looking at our own honesty or dishonesty, and this this aspect of authenticity, I think is really important. So and this is very much an inside job because no one else, you know, people can support us in that and we have friends who share that ethic. But really, it’s a fundamental responsibility that each of us has to carefully and honestly examine our lives. And to do so with compassion. Also, because as human beings, we’re, you know, we’re deeply conditioned in ways that we’re not even aware of. So it’s not about being judgmental about it either. So it’s a quality of honesty and vulnerability. And I would say, affection attention to our experience, when we approach and so difficult feelings and core beliefs, you know, this, like, starting to get into the nitty gritty of our conditioning, but doing so with an open heart and a clear mind, without an agenda to try to change. And this is, you know, the mind is always trying to change and fix. So that’s in a way in a polarity that we can get stuck in is a sort of endless self improvement project,
Rick Archer: as well. Well, on the other hand, though, when you say without an agenda to try to change, but if you’ve been a real schmuck in some respect, you know, mistreating partners, or cheating people in business deals or something like that, you want to change, don’t you? I mean, that’s what we’re talking about is not, you know, not having such flawed, right or patterns.
John Prendergast: That’s true, but not not changing for so much for egoic reasons, but more changing because you want to be aligned with what really feels true for you. Right? So it’s not about creating an image for others not like turning from a bad person into a good person. But it’s more about wholeness, coming into integrity, into alignment with oneself.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so what you’re saying is, you’re not trying to change this to sort of make an impression on others or something you’re trying to change because you’re a sincere seeker of Truth. And you don’t want to you don’t want to be half baked, do you want the whole enchilada? And, yeah, yeah. So that’s gonna include both the transcendent and the, the more embodied things?
John Prendergast: That’s right, yeah, we want to come into integrity and come out of your own suffering, you know, and in so doing to be of service to others as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, I have friends who’ve been meditating for decades, and ended up doing some scammy business deal and going to jail for five years. And stuff like that, or, you know, really mistreating women or something. So, gotta sort of work it all out on all these levels.
John Prendergast: Right. And that requires really, a lot of maturity, and a lot of a lot of courage, and a lot of humility,
Rick Archer: as well. And to what extent can you do this by yourself? Or Are we blind to our own? You know, was that poem by burns? Or somebody who’s, you know, to see ourselves as others see us? To what extent can we do this by herself? or to what extent do we need either professional help, or at least well, I mean, a marriage is a good way to, you know, call you on your shit. You can get very very idiosyncratic and self absorbed if you’re just on your own, but it helps to have relationships
John Prendergast: very much. So this is a critical point is relationships and the kind of mirroring in our in our in this is where honesty is really important and honesty, not just to speak our own unarguable truth, but to hear it, and welcome it from others. And so yeah, we have all sorts of blind spots. And you know, we can go, you know, we can go a long ways on our own, or at least a certain distance, but usually, we need the help of others, at least in terms of, you know, honest reflections, as well. And that’s where a partner can be helpful, or an honest friend, a true friend. Right? And where even a small group of friends or community can really be helpful is Sangha or the Satsang. Yeah.
Rick Archer: You’ve been in various sagas and Satsang. Have you noticed that, in some, at least a certain stage, there seems to be a sort of a self indulgent quality among the participants or narcissism or something, it’s like, you know, my spiritual evolution, you know, Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead. And people just get very self absorbed at a certain stage in their spiritual growth.
John Prendergast: Yeah, this is the danger of spiritual communities too. They, you know, they become insular, enclosed, and, and out of touch.
Rick Archer: That’s another thing, our thing is the best thing everybody else out there has got it wrong.
John Prendergast: Well, that’s, it’s an interesting thing to go through, you know, to be very devoted to a particular teacher or teaching and, and, you know, have a loyalty to a certain organization and then step out of it, and then do it several times, you know, it’s actually a very healthy thing to do. It is a healthy thing to do. And it’s a bit scary thing to do. Yeah. But it’s part of it’s part of the process of maturity. So we actually, you know, as valuable as a healthy community can be, ultimately, you know, it is our own responsibility.
Rick Archer: And we’re not encouraging, being a dilettante and bouncing from thing to thing. But another, yeah, that can happen. I mean, people do that. But on the other hand, we’re suggesting that there can be if it’s if you’re meant to move through several different things. Over the course of your spiritual practice, it can be real healthy to step out of one and reevaluate all the assumptions that have become ingrained.
John Prendergast: Very much. So, yeah, no, I think it’s, it’s part of maturity to be able to do that. And yet, you’re right, we don’t want to be dilettantes, either. We don’t want to be uncommitted. So it’s a matter of kind of, I think, exploring something deeply and seeing if it really resonates. And then sometimes we outgrow it. And that was, that was my experience.
Rick Archer: This is this, this whole kind of underlying theme is so fascinating that there’s this sort of paradoxical balancing act that that shows up in so many different ways. We’ve, we’ve alluded to several of these ways now. And another way that comes to mind that I’d like to explore with you is, you know, you know, on the one hand, we start out life and go through our teens and everything with a with a sense that we’re firmly in control, it’s us, you know, me, I’m doing this. And then as spirituality begins to blossom, there’s a sense that there’s a larger intelligence, which we were talking about earlier, and kind of that seems to be in control, you know, that I need, I want to surrender to that let that guide my life. And yet, there’s still this me who’s in control. And you kind of go through a period where you’re on the fence. And, you know, that reminds me that Hamlet’s soliloquy, you know, whether it is nobler in the mind to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them to be or not to be, it’s like, Can I do this myself? Should I? Or should I just be a little bit more passive and laid back here? And let let me let the universe guide me? Right, the ego
John Prendergast: tends to see things paradoxically, you know, and in polarities, like I’m in control, or I’m out of control, as well. And you’re right, there’s kind of, you know, there’s sometimes it feels like we’re letting go of over responsibility, and then we may drift into kind of passivity. And and then we kind of reorient again to taking a more active and dynamic stance, as well. And what I find is, you know, it’s that’s not so much an act of conscious choice. It’s a, it is a kind of spontaneous balancing that happens. Over Over asserting and or becoming passive. And I think what’s true, though, is as we actually start aligning and attuning with our deeper nature, we follow that guidance more clearly as a kind of subtle inclination internally, as well. Yeah,
Rick Archer: it’s true. For me, it’s been a process that’s been going on for decades, though, of just great. Well, I guess you’re saying it’s an open ended, lifelong process. But, you know, the transition from the sort of, kind of ego centered sense that I am the doer to you, no state in which one is not the doer that kind of a much larger intelligence is the doer. There’s, there’s been all sorts of it’s kind of like riding a bicycle, I guess. Yeah, you have to continue balancing, you never stopped balancing. And you get better at it. I mean, you see these guys who jumped their bicycles up brick walls and stuff.
John Prendergast: Yeah, it’s a great, it’s a great metaphor, I really resonates for me, the balancing act. And, you know, early on, we have our training wheels on, right. And those are the, you know, the rules and conventions of society and family, and maybe even our religious traditions. But eventually, we kick those off, and we trust our own sense of balance. And it doesn’t mean that we’re not going to fall sometimes, either. But, you know, the point is to get up and keep going and, you know, reestablish, excuse me that sense of trust. Very true. So it is, for me an open ended process. And I think even as human beings, we’re constantly adapting, and balancing and learning and refining. And once we stop letting go of this idea of some final, you know, ultimate accomplished state, you know, and actually really grounded into our daily and ordinary life. It’s very interesting. That exploration.
Rick Archer: I think that’s important, because I think since well, firstly, let me ask you this, do you think there is an ultimate final established state?
John Prendergast: No. Okay, good. I think what I do think, is that we can become increasingly intimate with our true nature and live that more and more in a chord, but we’re deeply conditioned. And I think we’re going to always be working with our conditioning, regardless of how awake or enlightened we are. So it’s, for me, it’s a process. It’s kind of a spectrum, I would say, but to to posit some ideal or ultimate, you know, Completion, I think, is an invention of the mind.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, would you say, would you agree to this, that we’re always going to be working on our conditioning and you know, there’s never ending refinement and so on, but at a certain stage we become very comfortably settled in something which doesn’t change, which does. Yeah, that which doesn’t seem to need improvement or perfection. It is perfect in and of itself. But but it’s our expression or reflection of that, which knows no. And the refinement?
John Prendergast: I would agree completely without Yeah, yeah, we were at, we become intimate and at ease with our being that which has changed changeless and timeless. And that’s, you know, that’s our beloved friend. That’s with us.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so this point, you just made that if we’re expecting some ultimate established state, I think it’s important to emphasize that, you know, we may settle into that thing that we just referred to kind of a continuum of presence or, or our true nature, which is very nice place to be resting. But if we’re, if we’re expecting some kind of finality, we could be forever chasing the carrot, you know, because that’s just not the way life is structured. And people can go on and on having actually awoken to a very profound degree but not accepting or realizing it, because they, they’ve gotten so much in the habit of chasing the carrot.
John Prendergast: Yeah, this is the Yeah, kind of staying in the mode of being a seeker. Right. And it’s subtle, but very, a very powerful movement. And, for me, I wasn’t even aware that that what you’re describing was still going on, after kind of an initial what I would call mental awakening. But it was sort of deep in the heart, there was still this kind of seeking for something, you know, a kind of a purity of light, or you know, and when I finally saw that, that seeking was going on, and I had to be very honest with myself, and I saw first that it was happening. And second of all, that was futile. Right? This is really, this was a big turning point for me. Right? There was there was a big, subtle but but palpable letting go of being the seeker, even though I had, of course, years and years and years decades heard this teaching from various teachers to discover it firsthand to see here. You know, this is what this mind is doing. And that it’s absolutely futile, that it will never achieve what it’s looking for. That was that was really an important turning point in it. It led to a deep peace and sense of fullness and the heart as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Because it essentially is what it’s looking for. You’re looking for your glasses, they’re on your head.
John Prendergast: This is, you know, the necklace is always around our neck right now. And the seeker is what is being sought. This is Maharaj is teaching and Ramana is teaching and it’s it’s it’s paradoxical to the mind, the mind can’t figure this out. But at some point, this insight comes in a very palpable and powerful way. And it’s tremendously liberating, deeply liberating.
Rick Archer: Would you say that, even though you would not any longer characterize yourself as a seeker? Because the seeking energy has relaxed, that you’re very much still an explorer and an adventure and, you know, it’s a discover of, you know, very much. Yeah,
John Prendergast: yeah, that’s a beautiful distinction feels like the seeking has fallen away. But the sense of exploration has been enhanced, right, because there’s an availability. There’s a real openness and availability, to be here. And to embrace life as it is, rather than chase some ideal, right? Some subtle spiritual ideal.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I concur. I mean, people would look at my life. And you know, every night I’m reading spiritual books, every moment in the day I’m listening to some spiritual thing on my iPod every weekend I’m interviewing some some spiritual president, they got it you obsessed, you know, when you’re just relaxed, but I feel like I’m just a kid in the candy shop, just enjoying this, you know, wonderful abundance of riches that that are available now. And it’s not like I’m waiting for something to happen before I feel a deep inner contentment. But this is it’s kind of a play that is just endlessly enjoyable to me.
John Prendergast: There’s a deep joy. I feel your joy. You know, as you talk about this. It’s just like, straight from the heart, isn’t it? This is what you love.
Rick Archer: I love it. Yeah, totally ga ga over this
John Prendergast: Give yourself to it. It’s beautiful.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
John Prendergast: I love hearing you describe that, you know, and it’s, it’s beautiful. I sort of been the reluctant teacher, I’ve never been particularly interested in being a teacher. I’m sort of more more comfortable in the student role, I would say, but part of the kind of the movement in the last few years to teach and not in a big way, but just as this is, it feels like a spontaneous sharing. And that’s part of the exploration too. It’s interesting. So in your what you do, Rick, you know, it’s like you’re really introducing these teachings, you know, to a broader listening audience as well. And there’s something beautiful in that sharing, isn’t there?
Rick Archer: Yeah, I love doing it. I love being a one time I was on a course. And I was made the course leader or something like that, and over in France and I went through my head, and I started getting all kind of bossy and thought I deserved a better room than other people. And, you know, Maharishi got wind of it, and the message came back, because you’re just a connector and a collector, you know, and I thought that was perfect. I’m just I love connecting people.
John Prendergast: Yeah, networking is my role. Yeah, it’s interesting. So you know, you’ve we find our dharma, ya know, you’ve found your dharma. And it’s, it’s beautiful.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I mean, it was a teacher for 25 years. But now I don’t feel I honestly don’t feel qualified. You know, I feel like there are people like Adi Shanti, and so many others who are light years better ahead of me doing that, that I found a Dharma that I can do, in my own simple way that is much more useful than if I were to try to pose it some kind of spiritual teacher.
John Prendergast: Exactly. And that’s about being authentic, isn’t it? Yeah. I mean, that’s one reason actually, I left TM is that I didn’t feel like I kind of fit the description, you know, the Sidhe? Ah, yeah, with a corona of light, with the photographs and all that. It’s like, that’s not my experience. I didn’t that felt very inauthentic for me, right. And like you, it’s like, you know, audio is one of my main teachers, and he’s a wonderful teacher is head and shoulders above most, as well.
Rick Archer: And you were as a TM teacher, you’re getting up in describing states of consciousness and so on, that you yourself hadn’t experienced? So it’s exactly how long can you do that?
John Prendergast: Yeah. And there’s a seeking, there was a seeking and TM that I wasn’t aware of, as well. It’s like the carrot, you know, these higher states. If you meditate long enough, you’ll achieve them? Oh, there
Rick Archer: is I mean, in fact, one of the reasons I started this show is that since I live in Fairfield, Iowa, I was running into people who had had genuine awakenings. And they would tell a friend, and the friend would say, Well, can you levitate? You know, and you just seem like Joe Schmo like you’ve always seen, how could you. And so I decided I wanted to connect people who had had to show people that their peers are actually undergoing significant awakenings. And you don’t have to be Superman, in order to have had a genuine awakening.
John Prendergast: That’s true. It has nothing to do with extraordinary abilities. Yeah, you know, it’s it’s actually the opposite. It’s so much a stripping away. And, and a relaxing into something very simple and very open yet very real, and very connected.
Rick Archer: When I read your bio here, you said, you were invited to share the Dharma by Dorothy hunt in 2012. Is that a Buddhist thing where you have to sort of be ordained in a way to go, okay, you can go ahead and share the Dharma, you wouldn’t just do it on your own.
John Prendergast: Not really, you know, it kind of came as a surprise. You know, I studied with audio. And, you know, I’ll just my teacher, and Dorothy is a dear friend, and colleague of mine, and kind of a elder sister, I think of her. And so it was surprised, it was a bit of a surprise that she asked me, but there was something very touching in that too. That’s mysterious, like, I can’t even name what that is. But I feel, you know, I feel a deep current of wisdom. Having spent time with John Kline. And, and with audio, it’s like these deep currents kind of just come through this body mind. And I think they, it’s interesting, Dorothy asked, invited me to teach but actually, it was six months before, when there was an internal sense of readiness, actually, in which that came. And it was, I’ll share the story is kind of an interesting one, Dorothy, and I co teach retreats. And this was a few years ago, three years ago, around this time in the spring. And we were teaching a retreat not far from here, I’m in California in Northern California and hills are green and beautiful. We’re at a retreat center, above highway 101. And I one morning, I went up and sat on the hill, and I turned towards the freeway and all the noise and suffering and I just, my arms just opened spontaneously. I didn’t know what was happening. And I stood up and there was this sense of this full embrace happening, full embrace of the complete experience, human experience, especially the suffering and the most difficult areas of cruelty and fear. And there was something internally that just felt ready and open to embrace that. And when I came down from the meadow and I just felt something had shifted, there was a sense of, okay, you know, I feel ready to teach.
Rick Archer: You sound like Moses, or something.
John Prendergast: A little bit out in the mountains. There’s no burning bush and
Rick Archer: you didn’t have any tablets
John Prendergast: No tablets, no truth to give us a sense of what it was was a sense of the the willingness to fully embrace Yeah. As it is, and this is very intuitive and it didn’t, I didn’t do anything after that, and I haven’t done much since then. But it was just some kind of internal readiness that happened.
Rick Archer: Well, you say, haven’t done much, but you’ve been in private practice for years. And you know, you’ve had 10s of 1000s of sessions with people. So you may not have been speaking to big crowds, but you know, you’ve been a few collect those people together, that’s a pretty big crowd, that you’ve had a very profound impact on.
John Prendergast: It’s true. You know, I, I have, you know, I’ve met with many people for many years. And you know, and I was an academic teacher, at CIS as well. And so I train students, and supervise them. And you know, and I run inquiry groups, and, you know, so yeah, that’s true, there has been a sharing.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And so And on that note, let’s talk about empathy. You mentioned that you had, after a certain stage of your awakening capacity, a newfound capacity for empathy awoke, and that changed the nature of your professional practice as a therapist. So let’s talk about that.
John Prendergast: Well, that goes back to that kind of awakening of the energy body drink that happened in 1980, when I was in India, and, you know, I came back and I was just I was, in my doctoral studies and internships, and I was sitting with people. And really quite to my surprise, I was starting to feel what they were feeling before they were aware of it, you know, it’s like start, like, it feels like both has that kind of energetic sensation, often in the energy body somewhere in the torso, like a contraction in the heart area, for instance, or in the solar plexus, or in the throat, and, you know, then someone would start talking about grief, you know, or anger or so it’s very interesting to feel this quality of attunement, happening. And the level of my empathy just really opened up at that point, and it continues to open, it seems also to be endless. And I think as my own heart has gone through my own defenses and become more vulnerable and open, my capacity, actually to feel suffering, has grown. And not only, you know, the kind of individual suffering, but collective suffering as well. So these teachings that somehow your, you know, as you, we could say, awaken or recognize who you really are, that suffering goes away. It’s not my experience, the individual suffering does. But if anything, I feel more acutely sensitive to collective suffering.
Rick Archer: Do you feel though that that experience of collective suffering is, is buffered by that presence you’ve been talking about? So that it’s not like you don’t have any kind of foundation on which to rest? And you’re just getting bombarded with the woes of the world?
John Prendergast: Well, you know, I think what you say is very true, it would be the reason that we were unable to really open to it is because it is so overwhelming. So there’s a certain capacity of the heart, I think that that is required. And it’s like the heart just, I experienced it, it’s almost like the back of the heart opening up the heart area. And there’s just a sense of this great or cosmic heart, that’s actually much, much more than an individual can bear. So it’s not it’s not like I’m bearing it, that there’s something, you know, this great heart is able to bear this collective suffering as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think if it is, like, you know, you take a glass of water, put even a teaspoon of mud in it, and it gets totally muddy. But if you take an ocean, you can throw a whole shovelfuls or truckloads of mud into it. And the ocean where we’re actually trashing the ocean, as it is, but the ocean can take a lot more than a glass of water.
John Prendergast: Yeah, it’s a good metaphor, and it’s apt. I agree.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And so why is this happening to you? Do you feel Do you feel like you’re serving some kind of washing machine for the collective karma or something?
John Prendergast: I never thought of it that way. You know, I don’t know. It’s just, it’s a spontaneous opening. And it’s not like I’m sitting, you know, with this awareness all the time. But what I noticed this, when I sit with people, you know, and we go deeply, it’s very interesting. It’s like, we’ll go into individual suffering that you can trace to particular experiences, often in childhood, you know, having to do with bonding, or lack of bonding with significant caretakers, or maybe some trauma. And it’s very acute. These are difficult places for people to go on their own. And so to be able to sit with someone and really open to that suffering, is deeply healing and touching. It allows them to bring in the light of awareness and kindness to these areas that were intolerable. But sometimes people touch a suffering that they say, I know, I know my own suffering, and this is not my own suffering. This feels this feels much bigger, this feels collective. And then we then we sit together with that, you know, so in a way it’s just, it doesn’t come up so much on my own but more sitting with people as they get in touch with it, and also just reading the news, you know, you just there’s so many examples of cruelty and suffering as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
John Prendergast: So it’s just something that spontaneously developed over time. And, you know, it’s what’s the function of it, probably something along the lines that you’ve alluded to, you know, there is a kind of transmuting, or transformational process that goes on, when love meets, you know, that which has been unloved, or effects of that what’s, which has been unloved, and I think everything is waiting to be met by that loving wisdom. In order to be liberated,
Rick Archer: yeah. It would seem that, you know, our individual suffering karma, stress, whatever you want to call it, first priority would have to be to dissolve that, because if we haven’t dissolved it, then we can’t really dissolve anything in a larger context. But the same evolutionary tendency, which causes us to want to dissolve that is not going to stop once. That’s more dissolved.
John Prendergast: No, it keeps going. And it’s not, you know, I used to think, well, we have to entirely clear our own suffering before we can really be effective and helping others. And it’s just not like that. You know, and in fact, there many people who, you know, are burden but their own suffering, and yet are open and helpful to others. Oh, yeah. In a really genuine way. So, you know, I think, again, it’s very complementary, the process of clear we get within ourselves, the more of service, genuine service, we can be to others, but we don’t have to wait, you know, for some deep awakening before we can move with love in the world and be of service.
Rick Archer: No, as a matter of fact, like you were saying before, about, you know, we don’t have to be completely awakened to the utmost degree of clarity possible of the universal self before we can begin to integrate that into our body. Same thing with this.
John Prendergast: Yeah, absolutely. And so, you know, so we begin to really look at those opportunities, you know, to, to be available to extend our hearts, to live with kindness, and generosity as well on those those many small acts have an impact
Rick Archer: on ourselves as well, right. I mean, isn’t that I mean, savers considered to be a spiritual practice?
John Prendergast: Absolutely. Yeah. ourself and others Seva, just selfless service, by the way? Yeah, it’s a benefit to the whole. And whether we’re working, you know, with others, or you know, so called others or ourselves. It’s the same principle as now.
Rick Archer: And so one more point on empathy. Do you find that it? Well, first of all, let me just interject here, my, my voice is feeding back. Now, for some reason, when I speak, then I hear my voice coming through your speakers a little bit. So maybe if you could just turn your speaker’s down a little bit, or something that might fix that. Dan, if you could take note of this edit point. That I think that helped. Yeah, that’s better. So what was I saying? Oh, no point about empathy. I just want to say, do you find that your empathy, that that sense of tuning into people, what they’re feeling moderates itself appropriately, so that you’re not walking through the mall? And, you know, getting bombarded with everybody’s feeling? But when you’re sitting with a client, then it?
John Prendergast: Yeah, yeah, it depends on context, you know, and the openness of the person that I may be with, but it’s also true, that kind of walking down the street. And, you know, I wake up on stuff downtown, downtown San Francisco, and, you know, I can walk by someone on on the street who’s suffering and, and I can feel it, you know, there’s something that just goes through me, and touched by it, not overwhelmed by it, not paralyzed by it. But I feel it. So that sensitivity does, you know, is general as well, but it is modulated, it’s true. Well imagine
Rick Archer: what the world would be like if everybody were empathic in that way, if if everybody had this sort of delicate, gentle sensitivity to what others were experiencing and going through,
John Prendergast: it would be a very, very different world. You know, we have an empathy deficit. And I, you know, this actually, Barack Obama said that
Rick Archer: did he?
John Prendergast: In his campaign, yeah, in his first campaign, and I thought, That’s so true. That’s the greatest deficit really. So empathy is an empathy is kind of an evolutionary arc. I think that’s developing
Rick Archer: in the culture.
John Prendergast: a bit about that, you know, but we seem to be moving towards empathy because it’s support survival, because we have to live together and we have to To understand and sense and be with one another, but it’s, it’s a slow evolutionary arc, I would say,
Rick Archer: for the entire eight, seven or 8 billion of us it is, but maybe
John Prendergast: For all of us,
Rick Archer: each of us can accelerate it, and be outliers way ahead of the curve.
John Prendergast: Exactly. We can, yeah, we can be exemplars of that, then spontaneously, that’s the interesting point. It’s like, not to do it, you know, in order to so much have the effect, but because of our love of truth, you know, and our willingness to actually live in deep integrity with our heart, the spontaneous effect of that is of kindness and empathy.
Rick Archer: Well, all this stuff has its own reward. I mean, it’s not like we’re just developing such qualities, because we want to be good guys, and have a nice effect on the world. We’re the prime beneficiaries are not.
John Prendergast: We are, you know, it feels true. You know, just it’s, it’s not in a way, it’s not an act of sacrifice. It’s an act of spontaneous, upright, upwelling, and giving, which in itself is fulfilling the giving, you know, is very fulfilling. And we hear we hear that again, and again, it’s very true.
Rick Archer: So tell us a little bit about your time with Jean Klein, he seems to have been a fascinating character and turned out some really stellar students.
John Prendergast: Well, the first time I met Jean was in the Bay Area in 1983. And a friend of mine had told me that there was a teacher I might enjoy seeing. And so he was in Sausalito and I, I walked into a room, it was an L shaped room, so I couldn’t see him. But something really remarkable happened. My mind got quiet. It was just this profound silence. And so that really caught my attention. And I sat down, and I could, he has a very thick accent. Originally, yeah, he’s Czechoslovakian originally and, and was trained in Germany and fled Berlin, in 1936. To go to France, he has quite an interesting background. So he speaks a number of languages and has a heavy accent, I could not understand very much of what he said, you know, and it was had a kind of philosophical turn to it. But I immediately sensed I’d met my teacher was interesting, there was just a knowing, kind of, in my core, this is, this is who I’ve been looking for. I get emotional when I talk about this. So I went up, you know, after the talk and spoke to his assistant, it was his wife, and I said, How do I become a student. And we arranged a meeting, you know, week later in Berkeley, and it was, it was just one of those mysterious things, you know, there was just no doubt about it. So, I studied with Jean for 15 years. And was, you know, in part, organizing his events in the Bay Area and did a lot of retreats. And I would say his teachings really helped clarify the mind. There was just such a crystal clarity in that, and then he had a beautiful presence about him, you just, you know, sit with him. And this sense of presence was, was beautiful, and he was very sensitive to, so he was very tuned in to his students and, and could kind of find where there would be blind spots and fixations and address them, usually very gently, but with great clarity, and so I feel tremendous gratitude. For Joel, it feels like he really helped help the tension, drop into the heart and rest in not knowing that was really one of his core teachings is abide in the heart, not knowing. And I really got that from him, and then we’re available to be taken by grace. So when Jean died, I thought I was done with teachers and a year later I met Adya and I thought I’ll be darned. Here’s that same remarkable presence and clarity, very different presentation, radically different presentation, young California, and, you know, and very different personality, but really the same same teaching. So kind of odd. I just sort of picked up where Jean left off. And for that I’m very grateful as well as Jean was a wonderful teacher.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And how about your time with? Give us some specifics how that was like, around 2000 or so you met Adya wasn’t it?
John Prendergast: Yeah, I met him in 99 at a talk and you know, I felt that same kind of presence and we we had a few brief conversations in 2001 Though, I was invited to attend a small private retreat that he gave in the Sierra Nevada. And that was quite profound. I felt it was interesting. I felt this deep loyalty to Jean, you know. And so I was ambivalent about really opening to Adya as a teacher. But something shifted, I realized, actually, what I realized that Jean had a second teacher as well. And when I realized that I thought, Oh, this is fine, I’m just this is a mental problem I am having. And when that released, there was just this flow occur with Adya. And very profound kind of deepening and opening happened being with him. So there was just like a, you know, very strong and immediate connection on that retreat. And then I met with him privately a number of times, and when he was still doing that, and also attended a number of retreats over a five year period. And then it felt like, quite to my surprise, that’s it. You know, I wasn’t I wasn’t drawn to do any more retreats was confusing, but I’ve stayed in touch with Adya over the years. And you know, he’s very dear to me, your friend,
Rick Archer: this thing about you thought you were done. And then you were kind of surprised when Adya came along, and the loyalty and all that, you know, it’s like, as the incredible String Band saying light, light, that is one though the lamps be many, you know?
John Prendergast: Yes, that’s right.
Rick Archer: And, and who knows, you know, I mean, maybe another one will come along.
John Prendergast: Maybe another one will come along? Absolutely. It’s good to keep an open mind.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And so that actually brings up an interesting point, which is that, you know, some people are kind of anti teacher, they feel like, you know, you can do it yourself, you don’t need a teacher and you know, there that just sets up an unnecessarily authority, disparity? And what would you say to those who are, who feel like they can just figure it all out without a teacher.
John Prendergast: It’s possible Ramana did, you know, exceptional, he had a mountain, yet a mountain. It’s a wonderful mountain, by the way, I sat and reminisce cave, some years ago, and it was extraordinary. So I understand, I didn’t understand it till I did that, how the mountain could be as teacher. But I think for most of us, and certainly for myself, teachers are really important. Because this is such a kind of delicate unfolding. And to be in the presence of a genuine teacher, and to help them guide us in our understanding is a tremendous blessing and catalyst. So well, as Amma puts
Rick Archer: it, if if a light is burning, a log is burning brightly, and you know, hot burning log, you put another log next to it, even if that log is kind of damp or something, it’s eventually going to dry out and start to burn. So there’s something to be said for proximity with with someone who is awake.
John Prendergast: It’s true. I spent some time with Alma also
Rick Archer: nice. Over in India.
John Prendergast: Well, she actually came to me, she came to my house twice and nearly days, early days at seven at my house suite, and then I and then I spent some time with her in India, also in Ada, January of 88.
Rick Archer: Very nice. Those are the early days.
John Prendergast: Yeah, I appreciate very much. The Divine Mother aspect is can be very healing. Some of us talking about here, it’s just good. I agree. You know, Eckhart Tolle uses that metaphor as well, in terms of the value of being in the presence teacher, as well, when there’s something catalytic, about that just resting in that presence. It’s, it’s an attunement, that happens as well.
Rick Archer: I’d like that. I think you’ve talked about that in your book, attunement versus transmission. Did you bring that up in your book?
John Prendergast: I did. Yeah. Basically, transit transmission is not nothing is really given.
Rick Archer: I know it has the sense of something is zapping you coming going from A to B?
John Prendergast: Right. And that’s not I mean, that can happen with Shakti you know, with charismatic teachers. There can be something given you get a charge, but the real spiritual transmission happens by resonance. Yeah. By attunement, and in the way that you just described, you know, it’s like, it’s inherent. This is all about recognizing the truth that’s inherent in all of us and outer teachers point to the true inner teacher, that’s the value of an outer teacher, an outer teacher has realized that realize their own inner teacher, and has some skill in pointing that out in a student, but that’s really the function of the teacher. It’s not to get stuck on the teacher, worship the teacher, but you know, to benefit from that, that presence and that pointing and that happens, you know, there’s different levels part of it This introduction we’re having clarity of mind. And part of it is just that kind of being in resonance. Right. And that which is already inherent and implicit in US becomes explicit.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Because various points I could use, I could follow up on that with, but I think we’ve covered it pretty well. There’s a going through your book, I started taking notes. And then I just started yellow highlighting passages. But a note that I took was discovering inner residents recognize resonance, recognize inner knowing by listening carefully to your body. Let’s talk about that a little bit more.
John Prendergast: Yeah, this is kind of something I think, that’s not emphasized so much is that our body actually has a sense of the truth, when it’s sufficiently cleared of conditioning. We have a natural sensitivity to authenticity and to truth. And so as we learn to actually listen to our body, we can catch some of those signals. And I’ve noticed, you know, working with people over three decades, and you know, 10s of 1000s of hours, that people notice certain characteristic, somatic subtle somatic markers as they hone in on their truth where the relative or absolute, and those markers are an open heartedness, a sense of great spaciousness, a sense of alignment, verticality, and a sense of deep groundedness, as well. And so that can help us. These are body’s markers, I would say, showing that we’re on the right path to, to our truth and authenticity. And so in a way, it’s an expression of our inner teacher. It’s a bodily or somatic expression of that.
Rick Archer: So I realized there are many ways to do this. But the simple question would be, well, how do we hone in like that, and, you know, especially if a person is buffeted by all the stresses and strains of modern life, and you know, long work hours, and commutes, and kids at home and all kinds of stuff, how do we d, excite the nervous system, so to speak, so as to become more subtly attuned as you as you’ve just described.
John Prendergast: So it’s always good to take a little quiet time, you know, to take breaks in our busy life. And we can do that sitting in a car, and we can do it at home, closing the door and turning off our phones and taking 15 minutes actually, to sit upright, take a few deep breaths, feel our feet on the floor, remind ourselves that we don’t have to do anything or think anything. And let our attention just dropped down, actually, because normally our attention localizes because we’re busy and thinking, excuse me, you know, more in the forehead, select attention just dropped down, I would say either to the heart center, or to the hara lower in the belly. And imagine that you’re just breathing there. This is just a way of a gentle way of bringing attention to the torso, and not trying to change anything. And there’s just something naturally quieting about that. It’s like the breath, the relaxation response, the parasympathetic nervous system, all this stuff, we know, right? There’s, there’s just a relaxation that happens. And, and then we start sensing into the interior of our body. And these these areas, they probably can’t see them, but I’m touching my heart and my belly. These are the areas of our greatest sensitivity, I would say. And just by bringing attention there, you know, even for five or 10 minutes, and just breathing, we’re starting to listen, right. And it’s like tuning an instrument, our bodies are like instruments, and they’re easily out of tune. And so just by bringing this kind of quality of gentle attention to the interior of our body, we’re starting to tune our instrument, just by listening. And we may notice different things depending on our conditioning and our state. And we become curious about them, we let ourselves feel our feelings, we let ourselves sense our sensations, as well. And so we’re actually opening a channel of communication to the interior of our body. And this is, you know, a very kind of lovely way to do it. We can do it other ways as well through movement, you know, or dance or time in nature as well. But it’s a shift of attention down in in primarily, with an understanding that our bodies have this implicit wisdom. And if they we may encounter psychological conditioning and and if we do, then there are ways to be with that as well.
Rick Archer: Has it been your experience that a lot of people are averse to doing something like that because the moment they begin to, they begin to experience stuff that is uncomfortable. And so that’s why so many people in this world are running around like crazy trying to distract themselves from having moments like that.
John Prendergast: Exactly. Yeah, we stay very busy in order to avoid doing exactly what I just did. And this is where that kind of willingness to be authentic and intimate with our experience is so important.
Rick Archer: So what would you say to someone who took your advice and decided to spend 15 minutes each morning or each day doing what you just described, but the moment they began to do so, things started bubbling up, and they felt things they didn’t want to feel, or even if they weren’t feeling much, their minds were racing with things they had to do and stuff like that. And they felt like I can’t do this, you know, it’s a waste of time I shouldn’t be sitting here.
John Prendergast: Well, it’s not a waste of time, it’s probably the most valuable use of time, as well. And so the mind will rationalize, you know, why one wouldn’t do it. And to know that, that’s a kind of defense, and also a habit. And so, you know, just gently bring attention back to the heart or the horror area and continue breathing. Now, if there’s an uncomfortable feeling, I mean, sometimes there’s no feeling there, that’s fine. You just stay with the breath and sensation. Maybe there’s an uncomfortable feeling, you know, it’s lean into it. Right? It’s like, be curious about it, like what’s in the very core of this? You know, what’s its shape, what’s its texture, so you become curious and affectionate about what your experiences without trying to change it. That’s a very important point. Because, because if you’re trying to change it, it will resist, just if someone’s trying to change you, you’ll resist as well. So you come in with a quality of innocent, affectionate attention. And that’s actually what it’s waiting for. Right? Like a child waiting to be heard, and waiting to be received and understood.
Rick Archer: And wouldn’t it be good to throw the word effortless in here, because if you’re trying to change something, then you’re trying to do something and what you’re advocating is not doing it’s more of an undoing kind of a relaxing into a more natural state. So you really don’t have to make any sort of effort in what That’s correct. Yeah,
John Prendergast: I agree. It’s not effortful. It’s it’s actually a very gentle, non goal oriented, but it’s about being intimate with our experience, and to accept it as it is. The mind has so many agendas about you know, how things should or shouldn’t be.
Rick Archer: Somebody just sent in a question, I want to, I want to read it to you. Let me just lean over so I can see it. You mentioned. Hi, John, you mentioned that the insight that the quote, the seeker is the sought, and quote and the subsequent letting go of the seeker resulted in a great sense of peace. And yet you also maintain that, quote, There is no ultimate completion and quote, I understand that anything that the mind may call ultimate completion, can’t be it capital it, since it is not a mental slash phenomenal object. But to say that a non phenomenal ultimate completion is no more than a myth doesn’t feel quite right, either. Such a position would seem to imply that the awakening of for instance, Ramana, Maharshi, or Shakyamuni, Buddha were only partial, that as great as these teachers were, their insight was still a work in progress. Can you please comment? Thank you.
John Prendergast: Yeah, it’s a beautiful question. Request. So we kind of talked about that someone didn’t? Yeah, I think the I think the distinction is is there, there can be completion on the non phenomenal level. And on a phenomenal level, it’s always a work in progress.
Rick Archer: So you would say that Chuck, Imani Buddha, or Ramana, Maharshi, or whoever else? Anybody like that is still a work in progress on the phenomenal level?
John Prendergast: I would say so. Yeah. But I don’t know. You know, how can I know what their experiences? You know, I have to be humble about any conclusions about that. Yeah.
Rick Archer: You can’t be adamant about it. But I’m, I’m with you on that. I don’t think I don’t consider it blasphemous to say so that there is long as you’re alive. There is always some possibility of refinement of the instrument, you just refer to this as the instrument. Yeah. And of course, we’re not just referring to the flesh and blood body, there’s all the various faculties and sensory and emotional and so on that we have and can you imagine there being any superlative ultimate degree to which those can be refined?
John Prendergast: To me, it’s open ended.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Seems that way to me, but you know, who knows? For sure. So, here’s another so have we covered this point about inner resonance and listening carefully to your body or would there’s a more you’d like to say about that? Well,
John Prendergast: there’s a lot to say about it. Actually, one of the interesting things is, when you really lean into your experience and become intimate, particularly with difficult experiences, they they can serve as portals, I would say, as the door is, I mean, we know the teaching of space, spaciousness as door as a door and silence as a door. But shadows can also be doors. And very often, we discover the polarity, you know, of the quality that we’re first encountering. So for instance, let’s say we’re exploring fear, if we really lean into our fear, and open to our fear, we will eventually discover fearlessness. If we really open to our grief, for instance, and go let ourselves go into the core of it, the heart opens and we feel the capacity for great joy, for instance, so if we open to rage, right will find tremendous power and sense of empowerment, for instance, and peacefulness, as well. So there are these essential qualities that are like very treasure, I would say. And these are important part of the process of human integration.
Rick Archer: Leonard Cohen said, there’s a crack a crack in everything. And that’s how the light gets in.
John Prendergast: There you go, that’s a beautiful thing, one of my favorite from Leonard Cohen, as well. So we all have these and, and they show up in different ways. Some people I notice are more in touch with kind of a groundedness that unfolds or open heartedness or sense of verticality, and inner alignment. We’re all unique in our expression of that. But these tend to show up these these markers. And they’re, they can serve as guideposts and beautiful ones. So
Rick Archer: let’s try to do a concrete example or two, you say, you know, when rage comes up, or anger or grief or something like this, you can lean into those, and they become a portal or a, you know, catalyst for change or for growth. Can you think of a concrete example to from like, for instance, your counseling practice where someone had something like that going on, and you help them do what you just described, and it was kind of transformative for them?
John Prendergast: Well, I have endless examples of that. I’ll mention just one that I mentioned in my book, as well. I was working with a woman, it’s one of our first meetings, actually, she’d been on retreat with me and wanted to meet individually, and she came in and, and everything in her life was good, you know, in terms of her current experience, or children or husband, her work very fulfilling, harmonious that she carried a deep sadness about her. And I could feel it sitting with her and, and she felt ashamed of it and afraid of it, but I invited her to actually let herself lean into it and actually feel it. And she did, you know, and feeling safe enough, interesting enough, and she let herself she burst out in tears. And there was a there was a deep, you know, sobbing for about a minute or so. And there was a feeling of shame about being like an out of control. Little girl needy, ashamed to have the need to be loved. And it had to do with their mother, actually. And what was interesting is that if she let herself have the full feeling, and let her attention go very deeply in the heart, this beautiful radiance, began to come shining out of her. And she knew that she was lovable, and loved, despite the fact that her mother was incapable of doing that. So that would be you know, I run into this kind of example, again and again, as well. And that was a significant shift for her.
Rick Archer: I feel like in my own experience, that things tend to get bottled up without me even knowing it. And that over the years have been a couple incidents where I have burst out in tears and just sobbed uncontrollably. One was at my sister’s wedding, people cry at weddings, but I really lost it. And, and another was, believe it or not, I was watching. It’s a Wonderful Life. And that scene at the end where everybody brings in money and the angel bell rings and the angels got his wings. I just totally lost it. It’s people were looking at me like What’s with him? And I almost wish I could do that every day because if there’s stuff bottled up, I just want to unbundle it. But it but but it’s court, you know, and I don’t see it often takes a catalyst. Yeah. And even though I make I spend hours a day in silence and meditation and so on, maybe I don’t feel like I’m a clear vessel that there must be stuff that’s there, but I and I would be happy to purge it. But I don’t have I don’t see it kind of it just I guess it’ll happen when it happens. I don’t seem to have any ability to, you know, accelerate that
John Prendergast: Right, yeah, you’re not in control of the process, you know, you might, you or someone else, excuse me may want to see if there are any beliefs about, you know, prohibiting the expression of feeling or the sharing of deep feeling. But, you know, clearly what you’re describing is an upwelling of love, you know, kind of an opening, cracking open of the heart, you know, at a wedding, you know, or, you know, this beautiful outpouring of love that’s depicted in the film, something in the heart is really touched. And if we have no prohibitions, you know about feeling that, then, you know, it just smells as well. And so, you know, in your case, you when you notice small upwellings of that, you might favor it, you know, like there’s a sense of love that you feel, you know, or affection or gratitude, or just this deep poignancy, that comes when you’re with others, to take the risk actually to share that and find out what happens, rather than, you know, having to do it, you know, alone, as well. And so just telling you, if you feel someone you feel love towards someone sharing that love, right, openly, that’s nice. Yeah. Share your gratitude that you feel let the deep upwelling of the heart come forth.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s good. You kind of favorite if it’s, if it’s there a little bit. That’s, you know, get the watering can and water it. That’s right. Yeah, exactly. I know, I’ve had a number of instant friends and so on who’ve had profound awakenings, after which they couldn’t go to public movie theaters and stuff, because they would just make such a scene crying and releasing a motion. And it was a phase. I mean, I don’t think that’s still going on. But there’s a kind of an open, innocent rawness or something that that ensued after a profound awakening that nothing could be bottled anymore.
John Prendergast: Yeah, that’s true. It’s like that, that Governor, that controller really falls away. And so very often, some people think, you know, there’s a flattening out of the feelings, and one couldn’t go through a phase of that, I suppose. But for me, it’s an enrichment, actually. And if things have been bottled up, and they come out, but there’ll be a harmonization eventually, for an enrichment of the emotional field, I would say, a broadening and deepening, but eventual diminishment of trauma as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay. So let’s say we have about 2025 minutes left in this interview, I want to make sure that we cover everything that you’d like to cover to give people a sense of everything that you feel is really important. Do you want to use your book for a few minutes as a sort of an outline of things, we want to cover even chapter titles and see if those become stimuli to bits of discussion?
John Prendergast: Well, I can certainly speak about the book.
Rick Archer: And even flip through your table of contents if you want and see if there’s anything you covered in there that you’d really like to bring out in this
John Prendergast: talk. The book is about the sense of inner knowing. And it took me a while actually, to get clear how to talk about this. I wrote it several introductory chapters and threw them away over the years. And in a way the, the theme had to be clear within me that it was really about inner knowing. And the bodily sense of that. And this is something that’s not been addressed very much, very often in non dual teachings and so on, there’s a appeal to inquiry and higher reason. But this is more of a apt approach of felt sensing. So maybe I should say a little bit about, you know, felt sensing, which is a term that was introduced by Eugene gendlin, who is a psychologist and philosopher work with Carl Rogers in the 1960s. And he discovered that a certain rare psychotherapy clients, it didn’t matter who the psychotherapist was or whether theoretical orientation was, they could tune in to what was going on, to kind of a sense, not fully formed in the conscious mind of what their experience was. And it could be about anything, it could be about their current situation or some problem that was looming. But this is the origin of the word felt sense. And it’s, it corresponds to what physiologists call interoception, or to intero proceed to perceive the interior of the body. That’s an objective description. Subjectively we talk about felt sensing, so it’s a native capacity, but most people aren’t in touch with it, but can be if we start paying attention. So what was interesting to me is this book really came out of my experience with working with people that they would start lighting up and lighting up and grounding and opening up on a on a subtle somatic level when they got in touch with their truth and that this is very and empowering for them to be able to recognize this in themselves. And so this was the kind of the core of the book is to present this to a wider audience, the fact that there is a wisdom of the body, and of the body is not what we think it is. I mean, nothing is what we think. That’s one of your mottos. Yeah, I
Rick Archer: think it’s more than that. It’s more
John Prendergast: than that. And less than that, it’s certainly not that. And that’s, it’s really true of the body as well. It’s not this kind of solid, dense object. It’s filled with energy, and aliveness and space. And it’s a beautiful, it’s a beautiful path to include, along with higher reason, I would say a complimentary path, to begin to listen to the body. And I think it’s particularly important, because this waking down process to the embodiment of this understanding, to me, this seems like the next phase, I would say, in the emergent phase is really, how did how does this awake awareness move in ordinary life? You know, how does it transform our individual life and our collective lives. And so we have to include the body, I think, one way or the other, eventually in the conditioning of the body. So I have a chapter on the science of attunement, the neuroscience of attunement, and this is very interesting, I won’t go into it. Now given time constraints, but there are some researchers are looking into the phenomena of attunement with self and other and they’re finding all sorts of interesting neurological correlates to that. So we’re not we know we’re not in fantasy, you know about the phenomenon of attunement. And we know that the body has this remarkable capacity for sensing, we also know that we’re very conditioned as human beings. And so we have somatic contractions and emotional reactions, and, and core beliefs that create a lot of static in the system. So this is one of the metaphors that I use that the body is like a musical instrument, that there’s, as we reduce the noise in the system, we can hear a signal or a sound. It’s a process of deep listening, and letting go of our core beliefs, and entering into intimate experience. And as we do so, in our ordinary life, kind of an inner guidance of the body appears. And it’s pointing us, I think, to our true nature, interestingly, to the recognition of our true nature as open awake awareness, and to his expression, as loving awareness and our relationships and in our lives. So that’s kind of a brief overview of what the book is about.
Rick Archer: Well, you know, the body is a sensing instrument, isn’t that what you’re kind of helping people discover through that? Advice to take 15 minutes and settle down and tune in? And? Absolutely, yeah. Right.
John Prendergast: Yeah. So it’s, it’s becoming intimate with our experience. And a point I haven’t accepted very much is the power of beliefs, you know, all the shoulds and shouldn’t that we have, and stories about ourselves and others, and these creates significant significant noise in the system. So to be able to also identify what our core limiting beliefs are, and inquire into their truth, I think is very important, as well, because these somatic contractions and emotional reactions, and, and cognitive beliefs are complex. And and you can work from any direction sensing sense sensations and feeling feelings. But questioning core beliefs is very important as well.
Rick Archer: So when you say noise in the system, do you mean actual mental agitation and its physiological counterpart? Like, there might be certain blood chemistry and brainwaves and stuff that would correlate with that mental agitation? Probably? Yeah. So how do beliefs? How do beliefs do that? How do they create noise?
John Prendergast: Well, I mean,
Rick Archer: let’s say I believe in certain exact rigid, fundamentalist religious stuff. Well, I mean, look at the popular religious fundamentalist preachers, they’re up there shouting their heads off on stage, you know, it seems like a kind of a noisy, excited thing. And the audience is all hooting and hollering that it doesn’t seem like a real settled, introspective scene,
John Prendergast: right? But I’m thinking of more kind of personal fundamentalism, okay? So very often, we have a conscious or semi conscious belief that we’re flawed, or not enough that there’s a sense of lack, that this is our kind of fundamental, this is actually a fundamental egoic view. So it’s, you’ll find a pretty universal one or both of those. I’m not enough I’m lacking, or what I am, is, something’s wrong with it. I’m deeply flawed. And there’s a corresponding worldview that goes with that as well. So you know, if I’m, if I’m flawed, or if I’m empty, you know, then the world may expose me I mean, I feel threatened or when I’m seeking is out there, and I have to fulfill myself by finding it somewhere or in someone, I look to someone else to complete me in some kind of fundamental way. So these, these are drivers in very deep levels. And if you just have the thought, you know, something is deeply flawed. Notice what you feel, you know, something’s really missing, some emptiness,
Rick Archer: some, but fulfillment or something.
John Prendergast: Notice what happens in the body. For instance, in the way of feeling, there’s always going to be a contraction that accompanies that belief. And sometimes we’ll have those knots and contractions. We don’t even know what the belief is. But if we open to the contraction, and let ourselves feel it, and let ourselves ask, what’s the belief that goes with it, they’ll pop up, as well. And even to rationalize to ourselves, I know that’s not true, is insufficient. It can help a little bit. But often these are formed in childhood, these subconscious beliefs, and they have tremendous power. So there’s a way to inquire, by bringing attention to the heart area, isolating very clearly what the belief is, and then just ask, what is my deepest knowing about this? What’s the truth? I really want to know, am I deficient? Am I deeply flawed, and then just be quiet, right? And notice what comes, this is a way of contacting our inner knowing. And what will happen as we get in touch with the truth is will be a release, a relief and openness will tap into something that feels essential.
Rick Archer: I imagine if you asked most people to make a list of their top 10 core subconscious beliefs, they wouldn’t be able to because your subconscious.
John Prendergast: Although, although it’s interesting, you would think so, you know, but they’re not. They’re not fully subconscious. And there’s different ways to identify them. One is just ask yourself, you know, what do I think is wrong with me, right, and make a list and feel the one that has the most juice. So that’s sort of the direct approach. And you’ll be surprised, I’ve been people kind of know what it is. It’s so it’s not fully out of awareness. It’s just kind of in the corner somewhere. We can also encounter our core negative beliefs by noticing what are chronic somatic contractions, like a clench a clenching in the heart of the gut, for instance, and, and begin to feel into those, for instance, and then do the inquiry. And another way, and a really clear way to do it is in our projections of our judgments on to others. If there’s something we just cannot stand about, people, guess what, it’s something that we can’t face in ourself. And then there’s a related core belief that goes with that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I was just talking yesterday with a friend and about this other friend, and he and this other guy had been living together in this house and in Detroit. And one guy had this habit of walking around the house with his toothbrush for like, 15 minutes brushing his teeth while he’s doing other things. And for some reason, that totally pissed off, the guy who was leaving couldn’t stand it. He was like tearing his hair out what a stupid habit. So taking that as an example of a silly projection that we find critically critical of another person. How would you use that as a teacher?
John Prendergast: Okay, so what is it that’s so annoying about that behavior? One would ask oneself, well,
Rick Archer: why should I care? Yeah,
John Prendergast: it’s like, okay, well, that really bothers me. What is it about it? That really bothers me? Right? Is it that he needs attention? Right, in which case, maybe I need attention, you know, is it that he’s doing something that’s humiliating? And foolish? Oh, I’m afraid of being humiliated. And appearing foolish. Like, for me, my big projection is I didn’t like people who are angry. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I can see that because you’re a gentle person. And I’m kind of that way too. It’s like, it’s, I feel like it’s sort of a problem. That’s inexcusable in a way. So how did you come to terms with that?
John Prendergast: Oh, I realized I had a lot of anger. Not a lot of anger. But there was anger in me. And in fact, rage, you know, and I became friends with it. And then guess what, you know, other people’s anger and then become a problem.
Rick Archer: So in becoming friends with it, did you go through a phase where you were venting a lot of anger yourself? Or was it more of a Quiet quiet resolution?
John Prendergast: Yeah, it was a quiet resolution, just a recognition. That that’s, that’s in me as well.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s an interesting point that’s in you as well. I mean, if can we generalize this to say that if we find ourselves critical of anything in anyone, we’re probably it probably indicates that that thing is in us to some degree.
John Prendergast: It’s all on us. Right? It’s all in us, no matter what we see around us. The worst things. That tendency is on us as well. We may not act on it, but we’ll see it in a dream. We may have it briefly in a thought, you know, those tendencies, all those human tendencies are in us.
Rick Archer: So let’s say we hate racism or homophobia or something like that. And there’s a, there’s a gut reaction to those things rather than just sort of forgiving recognition of so so you’re talking about that not that we’re going to approve of those tend to hate racism or homophobia. But if we’re reacting in a sort of highly emotionally charged way, you’re saying that that’s indicative of there being seeds of those tendencies within us. Whereas if we have a more equal net, economists wouldn’t be the word sort of a more balanced, forgiving, compassionate way, then maybe that means those seeds don’t don’t exist in us anymore. Example.
John Prendergast: Yeah, that would be an example. You know, we hate people who are judgmental. We hate people who hate people.
Rick Archer: That’s the good one. So inner knowing there’s a beautiful line from your book I like so much I had to write it down it was inner knowing turns us into a humble servant of something that is unimaginably greater than our separate self. Love that.
John Prendergast: Yeah, it is it is humbling. That’s my experience. And because we realize we’re not, you know, the conscious mind is not running the show. Yeah, is it there is a deeper intelligence at work here. And, and we surrender to it. We surrender to it. And there is a beauty. There’s a there’s a loving nature to this, which is not only extremely intelligent and clear, but deeply loving. Most well. You also
Rick Archer: said in your book, we feel our way through life rather than think our way insights arise as needed. And something about doing taking the next obvious step becomes you’ve probably read Suzanne Siegel’s book since you were a John Klein disciple. And so is she but you know, when we were, we were friends, yeah, one of her key themes was doing the next obvious thing. Absolutely.
John Prendergast: So beautiful teaching. So you know, it’s just the next step. That’s enough, actually. And if we don’t know what the step is, then we wait.
Rick Archer: Another question just came in, someone said, Hello, John. I can’t stand people being unfair. People can be unfair in all sorts of ways, both subtle and gross. How do I come to terms with this? I think very carefully, to be fair as possible in everything I do. Do you have any advice?
John Prendergast: Fairness is a concept. Fairness is a concept, it would be interesting to let go of that concept of fairness. You know, we do have are as human beings, we have a rough sense of what’s fair, I would say. But this is a very deep kind of argument with reality. I would say that the fairness argument, Life is not fair. Right? People are unfair. And it’s very interesting to how would I be, you know, how would I function? Really, without the idea of fairness? Would be inquiry, I would recommend and see what happens without
Rick Archer: Well, putting myself in that questioners, mode of thinking for a moment, I might come back at you and say, Yeah, but are you condoning unfairness? Not at all, fairness is a terrible thing. And don’t we need to take measures to rectify it. If people are mistreating animals or children are doing something cheating, people don’t need to sort of take action and correct them.
John Prendergast: Yeah, I think we can act without being married to the principle of fairness. as well.
Rick Archer: Perhaps there’s something about self righteousness in here. If, if we’re, you know, finding ourselves reacting strongly to injustice is that we see in the world.
John Prendergast: Yeah, there can be a self righteousness. I’m not hearing that in the questioners. Question. It’s a beautiful question, as well, but that that could arise, you know, how could they do that? You know, a victim, someone who has a victim identity, often, you know, is feels that life is unfair, and wrongs need to be righted, as well.
Rick Archer: Well, let’s take Gandhi or Martin Luther King as examples. I mean, they’ve dedicated their lives to remedying unfairness. And I’ll let you just take it from here. How did they serve as examples of a kind of an enlightened way of doing this?
John Prendergast: Well, you know, as we know, with Martin Luther King for him, it needed to come from love, you know, and that was what was six ordinary and of course, he was inspired by Gandhi and Gandhi was inspired by Tolstoy and Tolstoy by the teachings of Jesus. Right. And Jesus by, you know, divine nature, as well. So by love, you know, it’s we know that when we act from love, it has a very different effect than when we act from some principle of the mind. And it’s much more appropriate to so we get out of being, you know, a reactive list and really act from love. And I, you know, I think those are exemplars, both King and Gandhi, modern, modern era that it takes a lot of maturity, right? And a lot of discipline, loving discipline. To do that,
Rick Archer: yeah, there’s, here’s a passage from your book, you said, as long as we think that getting others to change will make us happy, we will continue to judge and blame them, when we discover that our happiness comes from self acceptance and self knowledge, we stop reflexively trying to manipulate others, no one else can make us happy or unhappy. It’s sort of somewhat related to the point we’re making here.
John Prendergast: It is, it’s very related, you know, because we’re looking, you know, we think our unhappiness can be resolved by making others change. And, you know, this is particularly true in relationship and the kind of subtle warfare that we engage in with partners and friends, and maybe acquaintances as well, with a kind of subliminal belief that if they change, I’ll be happy. And I do work with couples. And, you know, that gets uncovered very quickly, you know, if my partner would change in this way, that way, that I would be happy, and it’s just not true, must have the change in couples is really comes around acceptance itself and other and to accept the other requires really self acceptance. So it comes back to that core understanding and discovery of self love and self acceptance. And it is I write this and it’s true for me, it’s just remarkable how our judgment of others falls away. As our self acceptance grows, they’re directly related, absolutely direct relationship to that. People are fine as they are, you know, now, that doesn’t mean that there aren’t significant social and environmental issues that need to be addressed. But how we address them, where it comes from is very important. I think in order for real transformation to happen.
Rick Archer: That’s a good point. Here’s a passage in your book that I particularly liked. I just spent a few minutes flipping through the pages and finding it because I remember I thought I want to read this passage is so beautiful. You said, as our attention deepens into the heart, subtler dimensions unfold. The deepest dimension of the human heart, sometimes called the soul feels like a sacred temple. It is here we experienced the greatest human intimacy love, compassion and joy. The human heart opens into a non localized great heart, capital G G, H, that is capable of embracing the suffering of humanity, discovering and consciously living from both the great heart and the soulful depths of the human heart, brings the deepest happiness as human beings. Nice passage.
John Prendergast: Oh, thank you. That’s what I find. I found working with people, in my own experience, sometimes in the non dual teachings will jump, you know, to the cause of the kind of the universal awareness. And this deep level of the heart, though, is can be skipped over Yeah. And to have that quality of intimacy, of deep sharing of gratitude, and love on a human level is very fulfilling, you know, and it’s an important component, in addition to the recognizing our deepest nature is awake awareness.
Rick Archer: Well, it kind of gets us back to a theme from the beginning of this discussion, which is that, in a way, we’re awakening to our true true nature is is the first step, it’s kind of like establishing a foundation upon which all kinds of things can be built. And we have all these faculties which may not have developed much at all, to the point where we become awake, aware of our true nature, we the heart may be relatively stunted, in the sense is relatively crude and behavior relatively, you know, inappropriate or whatever. And so, you know, this tremendous possibilities for unfoldment and refinement once that sort of foundation has been established.
John Prendergast: Very true, it is foundational, it’s the most important thing, right, discovering, you know, the core essence of who we are as this open, awake awareness. And from that, you know, that from that freedom, so much can unfold so much more easily, it can unfold anyway, but it unfolds without the egoic resistance without the judgment without the need to change, and in that spontaneity, the, with honesty and vulnerability as well. That unfolding is accelerated, I would say,
Rick Archer: Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all else should be added unto thee.
John Prendergast: There you go. Yeah. The western Yeah, these aren’t new teachings really? No, not in the core.
Rick Archer: It’s interesting to interpret old verses like that in light of these sorts of ideas, though, you know?
John Prendergast: It is it was to apply it, there is something in the application to our experience now, that’s very important. The updating of the teaching.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, well, this is enjoyable, we could probably continue on. But let’s, let’s think in terms of concluding, and what would you like to say by way of conclusion, and kind of an overall summary summation of what you’ve been talking about, or things you haven’t talked about, or things you’re going to be doing, that people can plug into, and so on?
John Prendergast: That’s the big question. Three questions. Three questions. I’ve already forgotten what they are,
Rick Archer: oh, well, just, you know, things you must say, I’ll riff, yeah, you riff and we’ll see what.
John Prendergast: So yes, I have a new book out, you know, and it’s available on sounds true. And it can be ordered online, in touch, touch. And it’s been a joy to write and, and to share. For me, it’s about the sharing. So I invite listeners to if you’re interested, read the book and be in touch and, and above all, you know, not just in touch with me, but in touch with yourself. This is the great experiment, you know, as I wrote is to really be intimate with ourselves as multi dimensional beings with our true nature and its expression, as body mind. It’s as important, you know, to wake up, as it is to creatively and joyfully and lovingly express ourselves as human beings. This, to me is a balanced approach to life that honors both transcendence and imminence. And it requires devotion and, and honesty and vulnerability. And it’s, to me the most important thing in life, so, and I really enjoyed this conversation. Oh, me, too. I really love the the nuances and subtlety and depth of it as well.
Rick Archer: Well, I knew I would enjoy it. I always enjoy hearing you speak at the Science non duality conference where we’ll both be again this October. Nice, little plug for that. And, you know, I guess you don’t have too much on YouTube notice, but there are a couple things one can find a few. Yeah, a few things. Yeah. But um, anyway, I really appreciate what you’re doing and the contribution you’re making. And, you know, for what my appreciation is worth, but I think I think a lot of people a lot more people appreciate it as a result of this interview.
John Prendergast: Thank you for having me on.
Rick Archer: Yeah, let’s make a few general wrap up points. So I’ve been speaking with John Prendergast, as you know, and he’s written a book, as you know, I’ll be linking to his web page and to his book on sounds true. From his page on batgap.com. If you are listening to this interview, and you haven’t listened to other of my interviews, you can go to that website, bat gap.com. And you’ll see them all archived and categorized in about five different ways. Under the past interviews menu, you’ll see a place where you can sign up to be notified of new interviews, by email, but once a week, each time new ones posted. There’s the donate button, as I mentioned the beginning, which makes it possible for me to devote as much time as I do to this, which is a lot of time, and my wife as well, she’s spent as much time at it as I do. Then there is an audio podcast of the show, which many people almost as many people listen to the audio as watch the video, and there’s an obvious place to to subscribe to that on various devices. And a bunch of other things if you poke around the menus, incidentally, some people have said, you know, when you started this show, you’re just interviewing relatively unknown people, you know, who didn’t have any kind of public role or professional role and who hadn’t written books and now it’s all about people that are famous or have written books, and, and so on. So just for kicks, in next month or so we’ve scheduled a couple of people who are completely unknown who were just sort of regular Joe’s who wrote to us and said that they weren’t even interested in spirituality. One of the guys said, I didn’t care about this at all. And all of a sudden, this huge thing happened to me. So we thought it might be fun to have a conversation with a couple of people like that. So you’ll you’ll see that upcoming if he’s and also I want to mention if you look at the future menu feature interviews menu, you’ll see a thing about upcoming interviews and it shows you what actual time each interview will be conducted so that you can tune into the live streaming if you wish and, and post questions during the interview. So check all that out and thanks for listening or watching. Next interview will be with Ellen Emmet, who is Rupert Spiro’s wife, although that is not her claim to fame. She’s an eloquent teacher in her own right. And so I look forward to having that conversation. So thanks a lot. Thank you again, John.
John Prendergast: You’re very welcome.
Rick Archer: And we’ll see you all next week.