Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve conducted over 430 of these by now and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out the previous ones, just go to batgap.com and look under the past interviews menu where you’ll see all the previous ones organized in several different ways. This show consumes most of our time, Irene’s and mine, and it wouldn’t be possible to do this without the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So we really appreciate those who have been supporting it and if you feel inclined to do so, there’s a donate button on every page of the website, batgap.com. My guest today is my friend Joi Sharp. I interviewed Joi, golly, about 6-7 years ago and we felt it was sort of time for a repeat. Joi lives in Ridgeway, Colorado and I’ve been seeing Joi for nearly 20 years at AMA events, Mata Amritanandamayi, and I didn’t really know her at first, but then we’ve gotten to know each other over the years and so even since the interview we’ve been having meals together and taking walks together and all, and I think we have a nice rapport and I have great respect for Joi and I think that people are going to enJoi this interview. I’m going to read a brief bio over here just to give you a sense of her background in case you didn’t see the first interview with her, which I actually encourage you to watch if you like this one because there’s a lot of good stuff in there. Joi was aware of the unseen magic of presence at a very early age. She remembers being more drawn to this mystery than anything else. This led her to delve into many traditions of spirituality. After a spontaneous awakening at age 28, Joi spent two years on a blissful honeymoon of spirit before plunging into a deep period of emotional purging and healing. Among her healers were a powerful Lakota medicine man with whom she traveled for two years and a group of Yogananda disciples who had developed a powerful way of unlocking unconscious beliefs using kinesthesiology. She worked with them three times a week for two years. During this period, the formless aspect of the Divine Mother appeared to Joi and she began a very intense journey. Joi met Amma in 1993 and she realized that Amma was the same Mother that had captured her heart and soul. Joi spent nine years in Amma’s Indian ashram and then two years in Tiruvannamalai at Ramana’s ashram. When Joi came home from India, she was completely exhausted and her seeker drive fell away. She began sitting with Adyashanti who helped her understand all that had taken place within her being. Joi began teaching in 2006 with Amma’s and Adya’s blessings. Joi continues to be inspired and moved toward what life could be if we let go to our inner potential which is the ultimate intelligence of all creation. So how’d that go Joi? Does that sound like you?
Joi: Yeah, yeah. That was really well done.
Rick: Good. Well you wrote it.
Rick: I just read it.
Joi: That’s right.
Rick: And you also wrote a book which I’ve been reading which is very well written and has a lot of good stuff in it. I have about four pages of notes here that I’ve excerpted from that book that we use as kind of main points to talk about. And I think there are two things that I probably end up talking about a lot with you today that don’t get talked about a lot in these interviews or in the spiritual traditions in general these days, the spiritual community. One is devotion and another is the nervous system. And I think both are very important. Devotion, because I think the blossoming of that is a natural stage in people’s evolution and sometimes non-duality comes across as rather dry and in fact sometimes people in the non-dual community criticize devotion as being dualistic. And secondly the nervous system because it’s my understanding and experience that the nervous system is the instrument through which we live any of this. I mean if we didn’t have a nervous system, a brain, the whole physical structure, also its subtle components, there’s a subtle aspect in the nervous system, this would not be a living reality. And so it’s an important consideration, factors and something that perhaps ought to be better understood.
Joi: Yeah, and this is part of, interestingly enough, it’s my devotion to her, the gift that she gave me was to really start to explore that nervous system and what the being, what the body is experiencing through its devotion. And it’s a real amazing dance that the being starts to experience through being able to open to what it’s devoted to. And so they’re very much tied into one another, the devotion aspect and the being, which includes the nervous system, the brain, the mind, and all these very, very fascinating functions that occur there. There’s a lot going on there that we can really start to explore within our own being. So how do you want to start Rick? You want to start just talking about the devotional aspect first?
Rick: Doesn’t matter, whatever comes to mind. I think this interview will be kind of a combination between me jogging your memory or your thought process with little points I’ve written down and whatever we spontaneously talk about as we go along.
Rick: We can do both. And, you know, as I always say to my guests, if you have something in mind and the point is not coming up or I’m not asking the question, just come out with it, you know, just like we would in a normal conversation.
Joi: Yeah, beautiful. You know, so devotion, you know, we’re evolving right now and we’re going to go through different levels of our way, right? And devotion for me has been that. It keeps revealing a new way to relate to this devotional aspect that I’ve experienced pretty much my whole spiritual journey. You know, devotion really is what we value, you know, I mean, so we can be devoted to really anything in life, anything that has deep value for us. And the value is something that’s already in our being, it’s already in place. So some people are going to value their children and some people are going to value, you know, being in service, whatever that looks like. For me, what showed up early in life was this presence, this God. I mean, it was like God was everywhere and that became stronger and stronger. And the value, of course, I didn’t know it at the time as such something that I valued, but now looking back I could see that I really did. It was something that I continually tried to access and in the early days I wanted it. I wanted it with an intense longing. I thought it was maybe going to really help me, you know, my mind interpreted that longing as a certain, maybe having a certain outcome that it was going to kind of take me out into some other heaven, some other blissful place. But over time that devotion has evolved.
Rick: Let me say a couple things that I heard Maharishi say at least a hundred times and see what you think about them. This might take me a minute to state. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, he was my teacher for many years. One is that he often said that devotion is a stage that can’t really begin to blossom significantly until the Self is realized because he said, “Until you know who you are, how can you really know what anything else is?” And that once the Self is realized there’s a foundation upon which profound appreciation of creation can really begin to blossom. And he said that prior to that attempt it would be like a small pond trying to rise up in great tidal waves. It would only stir up the mud at the bottom. But when the Self has been established then it’s like an ocean and the ocean can rise up in great waves without stirring up the mud. And he spoke of devotion as being a natural consequence of, or actually almost synonymous with the ability to appreciate profoundly. Yeah, go ahead, respond to that.
Joi: No, no, that’s really beautiful and I’ll be the first to admit that in those early years of devotion it was pretty infantile. And I like the way that he said how it stirs it up because that’s also my experience because those initial stages of devotion, what really starts to open us up to something other than our self, just that aspect of openness, that’s going to start to generate a more purifying energy because we’re getting out of our way. We’re starting to say, “Oh, this is what I want.” And you can feel that in your nervous system, right? So here we are experiencing what’s happening in our being through opening up. And also what you just shared about what Maharishi said about we don’t really get to that true devotional place until we realize Self. I can honestly say now I know what that feels like, that “Thy will be done” place, that complete availability for life to move through us as an instrument, right? This is where we’re going and I just love how this is starting to work together, instrument and devotion. Yeah.
Rick: Good. He also said that it may reach a climax in which appreciation is so profound that actual sort of God consciousness dawns, appreciation of God and direct intimate personal relationship with God. And he said it was like if there’s an artist and he’s a really great artist but nobody appreciates his work, he just kind of sits there and does his work. But if he keeps hearing that there’s this guy who lives in this town and he really gets it, he really appreciates my work, you know, as I appreciate it, then that artist would come to meet that man, the man wouldn’t even have to go to meet him, the artist would come to … because he would want to meet someone who has such deep appreciation. So he says that’s kind of the way it is between the devotee and God when the appreciation has reached such a significant degree.
Joi: Yeah, and that’s going to get tested in a big, big way, right? And that’s the journey, right? That devotion to truth or however we interpret our journey, it’s going to get tested again and again and again where … you know, what expectations we might have about our journey, hope, and settled places that we’re going to want to hide or hang on to. Because devotion is going … the whole point of devotion is to get us out of being wrapped up about ourselves and our life and our awakening and our enlightenment, our need for a certain experience, you know, that’s it. And the more mature devotion becomes, it’s just not our life anymore, is it?
Rick: Right, it’s been surrendered.
Joi: It’s completely let go of. And as we open up to that which we devote ourselves to, surrender becomes the way.
Rick: Yeah, let’s talk about surrender a bunch in a minute.
Rick: I just want to make one final point before it slips my mind and have you respond to that, and that is that finally he said that there may come a stage in which the God consciousness phase is shifting into unity and there may be a feeling that one is losing devotion because there’s no longer the I-Thou relationship that there had been, you know. And so one might feel a little bit of chagrin, you know, like what’s happening, am I losing this? But he often quoted Shankara as having said, “The intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion.” And Shankara and Ramana and Papaji and Sargadatta and all of them were great bhaktas in addition to being great jnanis. They maintained this sort of I-Thou relationship with their chosen ideal, you know, the object of their devotion in order to continue to experience the sweetness of that.
Joi: And the sweetness, I just pray it never leaves because it is so sweet. It becomes something that has, you know, we’re getting back to that place of value. That value touches our soul, it touches the depths of our being and it invokes a sense of beauty and I mean just, you know, to be able to offer oneself completely. There’s this abandonment, right, of pretty much everything. But I mean, like I say, we’re going to get tested about that. And so all these great sages, great realized beings, they didn’t want to let go of that. It was because it’s so valuable, it’s so sweet, it’s like a precious gift that God has given, right? I mean, when you really know it in your soul to be able to let go that deeply, you realize how precious it is. And again, it’s something that we’re going to be able to access when to let go and like you say, we’re going to talk about that. But to be able to, right, and to keep finding our increasing capacity to do that, to love that much, to have that much value in what we’re devoting ourselves to. So this is beautiful and I’m really glad that you brought this point up about all these great Jnanis loving that aspect of loving God.
Rick: Well, the way I see it is the heart is a faculty, it’s a component of what we are, just as the senses are faculties and the organs of action are faculties and so on. And all of these different faculties tend to blossom rather than be lost or suppressed or something. So it would stand to reason, I mean, I see awakening or enlightenment as a full blossoming of all the different components and aspects of our total being, right? And so it would stand to reason that, it seems to me, that if there’s some awakening which is devoid of devotion, which is dry and not a lot of heart, then it’s a transitionary stage, it’s not the final thing.
Joi: Right, and we have to be really careful, I mean, look at it, are we doing this for me? Do I want this path for me? Do I want this awakening experience for me? Or do I… that’s really what we get to see because that’s probably where it’s going to start to dry up. And that’s another good point, it’s a whole other subject about why is our journey stalling or becoming stagnant or becoming dry, there can be a few factors in there. But if we’re looking at it for this for myself, it can, it’s a great place to come from, to start on the journey, but when we start to realize that this is what we’re trying to see through, you know, to keep seeing through these subtle little places, subtle little agendas, that that’s what’s going to keep this invigorated, inspired, and that’s one of the most important things. And devotion allows our being to be continually inspired, such an important, important thing on our journey, right? That inspiration piece, because it can… I’ve heard over and over again from people, “Well, nothing’s changing and da-da-da, that’s it,” and Adya talks about this too, he says, “A lot of people stop, and why are they stopping?” And one of my first ideas might be because of not really tapping into a value, something that they value.
Rick: I think that also points to the importance of knowledge, because if you have a clear understanding of the path, if you have a clear vision of possibilities, then you’re not going to settle for anything less than the highest, if there even is a highest. I mean, it may just keep going forever, as far as I know, but you’re not going to jump to the conclusion that, “Oh, I’m done,” and get stuck. And that’s why it’s useful to hear teachers and read scriptures and different sources of knowledge that perhaps exceed your present level of experience, but give you a sense of what others have actually achieved and experienced, so that you might hold out hope for attaining that yourself.
Joi: Yeah, and inspiration. We have these examples like Amma, and Amma is probably the most inspiring expression on the planet, as she shows us what we’re capable of, right? That’s it. And to be able to kind of sense into our being, oftentimes I’ll ask people, I’ll say, “Do you sense that you’re capable of more than you’re experiencing?” And 100% of the time people will say, “Yes, I always sense I’m capable of more than what I’m experiencing.”
Joi: And so that’s coming from a deeper intelligence, right? That’s coming from a real true place. And so we have to learn, you know, I think as a teacher, a teacher’s job is to be able to allow the student to find something within themselves that’s going to keep them going, right? To keep saying, “Can you …” you know, right? And one of Adya’s best quotes is, “Questioning what we think we know,” because we’re our own best way of really seeing if we’re getting in the way of our journey, right? A teacher can say it but a student has to be able to see it for themselves. And so a teacher’s responsibility really is to question that, to give the student an opportunity to see for themselves how they’re kind of maybe sabotaging their way a little bit, not necessarily sabotaging but slowing it down or even choosing to stop it.
Rick: You may have noticed in Skype my little tagline is, “Whatever you think, it’s more than that.”
Rick: It’s from the incredible string band.
Joi: Mine’s similar. Mine says, “Go beyond yourself and you’ll find yourself.”
Rick: Yeah. I just wanted to wrap up a point you made a minute ago before we move on too far and that was about … you’re talking about surrender and whether you’re doing this for me or not, you know? And I think that links back to the point I made earlier which is that self-realization is really the foundation for a significant development of devotion and what self-realization means by definition is that your experience of what you are has shifted from a limited me to an unlimited something. And so if the motivation is, “I’m doing this for me,” then perhaps that shift hasn’t taken place.
Joi: Perhaps it hasn’t, but we get to start to see that it’s not working and this is a path in itself, you know? I’m doing it for me and it is. It’s a path for itself and if it stays that tight and that limited without the devotional aspect of openness, which I will say again and again is essential on the journey, if it stays tight and I want it and I need to get it, it will eventually begin to fail. And that’s a very valid path. It’s very valid because something is getting broken down in that it’s not getting what it wants, it’s not working. But maybe that path … you know, there’s so many infinite ways the journey kind of expresses itself but one of the ways that I’ve seen it is maybe that me does get a little glimpse and immediately gets, “Oh, I’ve got it,” right? And it co-ops it, which a lot of people talk about. But it will stay there, it will stay kind of stuck and it ceases to lose the inspirational level that … the bliss of being able to open and open and open and not need experience. So you know, me wanting awakening is a valid path. It’s okay.
Rick: Yeah, it’s often very premature to say to people, you know, “Just give up the search,” you know, because they haven’t really … I mean, that’ll happen in its own sweet time but it’s not something you just do, you know, abruptly.
Joi: Right, and a lot … exactly, and a lot of times, you know, that journey is just the path to get it for itself is … it’s kind of a setup, right? Because we see so much along our way and as consciousness starts to become more aware of the self, the small self, the ego structure, what it wants, what it needs, it will … if it’s set up that way, it will be able to start to see, “Oh, I have been wanting this for myself,” and that alone can be a very, very deep significant shift of consciousness. So who’s to say that it’s not valid?
Rick: Go ahead, you were saying something more?
Joi: Well, and just the reasons why somebody is going to want it for itself, I mean, there’s a lot of reasons why people start on the spiritual path and it’s important to know that they’re all fine. I mean, to get out of suffering because an ego doesn’t like itself …
Rick: Yeah, I used to give TM lectures and say, “This will help you sleep and lower your blood pressure,” you know, good enough reason to start.
Joi: Good enough reason to start, and so, you know, that’s great, you know, and learning is happening and the consciousness is taking wherever the being is, wherever the soul is, to start right where it is. And that’s beautiful, that’s perfect, it shouldn’t be any other way than that.
Rick: And then what leads to the next, like you were saying, and there are stages and shifts and tests, and I mean, it’s just this ongoing journey.
Joi: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: There are several interesting threads that you brought up, I want to tie them together as we go. One is the test thing that I just said. Okay, what were the other ones? There’s the surrender thing, and I guess what they both … let’s talk about both of those. The test thing is … we can talk about who or what might be testing us, but there’s the implication that we kind of have to prove our worthiness to … that’s generally what a test is, when you graduate from some class in school, are you worthy to go on to the next class. And so, I mean, what would be the ramifications of graduating without being worthy? That’s a question, and is it even possible? I would say that one of the ramifications … I remember a book by Elizabeth H., called Initiation, and it was this memory she had … did you ever read that? It’s this memory she had of living in ancient Egypt, this whole thing unfolded to her. And she wanted to move on faster than her teachers were advising, but she was so insistent upon it that they let her. And then she ended up having this fall, which took her a couple thousand years to recover from, and finally she was born as this woman in Switzerland and had this whole memory of the whole saga. But there’s a reason why, you know, traditionally, perhaps the highest teachings and highest practices and this and that weren’t just sort of given willy-nilly to anybody who came forward. There was a sense of gradation and, you know, giving people … not giving them … not letting them bite off more than they could chew kind of thing. What do you think about that?
Joi: Yeah, I could say a lot.
Rick: Say a lot, go ahead.
Rick: We’ve got all day.
Joi: All right. You know, we have a lot of teachings available right now, and the non-dual teaching that you are already that is a very enticing one, and when we have little shifts of consciousness that validate that teaching, it’s very important. These little validations are essential. But a teaching is in itself limited, always. Anything we can put to words is limited. And the devotional path is … it will take us very, very, very far beyond words and teachings. And the real direct experience of an intimate communion with God, with the Divine, through our being, is the ultimate satisfaction. That’s really what we’re looking for, right? This is what we’re here for. And the testing that our being goes through, it’s kind of like a … what’s the word I’m looking for? It’s a … you know, everything is getting tested, it’s getting primed, like a stove, you know, like a backpacking stove. We get it warmed up so it’s … our vehicle, our vessel is worthy, like you said, of being a vessel for the Divine, of being a vehicle.
Rick: And not only worthy but capable.
Joi: Capable, yeah.
Rick: Because it can get fried if it’s not.
Joi: Exactly. And so we’re discovering our capacity within this realm of devotion and letting go, okay? So our being is discovering its capacity as it’s being primed. And so that could be kind of like the testing, and the testing is going to be in this moment, like we’re going to be in these little crossroads. Am I choosing, can I sense the invitation to let go? Or is the being quite not ready to let go, which is the capacity, right, being capable, and is it going to instead want to hide behind a teaching or an experience or just some idea or need for security, whatever it might be? So this testing is really discovering the capacity. Is the being capable of letting go this much right now? And it’s such a beautiful organic way of unfolding. I mean, we all that have been on the path, we’ve realized this in ourselves that there’s something incredibly organic happening here, right? And the testing is part of that, and we get to … so that our being starts to recognize its own inherent capacity to let go. It’s our being that’s starting to realize its own capacity to be a vehicle for the Divine. And this is allowing
Rick: And I want to be precise about our terms here, I mean, our being is starting to recognize its capacity to be a vehicle for the Divine, you just said. So how do we define our being, that which is a vehicle? I think we’re talking about our whole makeup, including our nervous system.
Joi: I would … yeah, everything, it’s everything, right? And this being that we’ve known as ourselves our whole life, there’s something that’s stayed the same throughout all that, and that’s just our awareness of our locality, you know, where we are. And then the being is everything that it is right now in this moment, all experiences, all fears. I mean, it’s the whole package and we’ll talk about that some more, because our being is capable of undergoing radical transformation through its association with presence. I mean, this is really where my interest starts to really show up. And our being is discovering its own capacity to let go to what it knows, right? Previous, from previous stuff. Because the enlightened condition, and I really want to share this, from Amma’s definition, is something that’s always fresh and always new and never before, all right? So in this moment our being has the capacity to move into something that it’s never before experienced. So that’s really what we start to feel, right? It’s true, and our beings, our nervous systems, are capable of knowing that all the time. Something new, something fresh, something never before, right?
Rick: And yet, perhaps something always the same in addition to always being new and fresh and never before.
Joi: Yeah. So there’s that aspect, and thank you for that. It’s the clarity, right, that’s moving through our being that can see that it’s right where it wants to be in this new never before place. And clarity is what we have access to in an increasingly clearer way, okay? We could talk about that too. I know that’s on your notes.
Rick: Yeah, there’s a couple thoughts here that evokes. One is a quote that you wrote down here from Amma saying, “Enlightenment is the art of relaxation.” And that could be taken superficially, I think, of yeah, yeah, just chill, go to Mexico and just lie on the beach and you’ll get more relaxed.
Joi: Not do anything, yeah.
Rick: But what I experience it to mean is that there are, you could say, tight spots in the nervous system and perhaps in its mental counterpart which have to be relaxed. And you don’t relax them all in one sitting or in one day or anything like that. There’s this sort of progressive unwinding of these tight spots. And you talk about that in your notes too. Here you go, you say it actually, “When presence begins to open our being up, these knots within our system begin to loosen. As the field of consciousness, as presence, begins to awaken within us, these beliefs within our nervous system,” and I think they’re not only beliefs which is a mental connotation but they’re neurophysiological, structural things, “are awakened as well, back into the field. Loosening up the nervous system even more as we empty out of beliefs and fears, our nervous system is transformed, literally changing the way we see everything, changing our perceptions of life.” And of course there’s actually research on this stuff. Rick Hansen and others talk about neuroplasticity and there have been all sorts of studies with EEG and fMRI and so on showing that the brains of spiritual practitioners really transform over time, not overnight, but over years to be completely different functioning entities than they were at the outset.
Joi: Beautiful, yeah. Okay, right up our alley here. And I appreciate, yeah, the neurological knots that happen and we all know what that feels like in our being when we’re experiencing a situation that’s scary, we feel contraction.
Rick: And also those knots are not just sort of something felt in the moment, but let’s say you almost get hit by a car or something like that and it creates this shock to the system and you know for years, for the rest of your life, you may be really skittish around intersections or something because the impression that was made, I mean there are people who are afraid of dogs, there are all the soldiers coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD, the nervous system sort of gets imprinted by these stressful impressions and that gunks up the works, you know, and those need to be unwound.
Joi: Yeah, yeah, and we’re carrying those through from who knows how long we’ve been carrying those knots through.
Rick: For lifetimes.
Joi: Yeah, and so we all know, you know, for those of us that have been a practitioner for a long time and when we’re sitting in meditation and as we’re dropping down you can feel something in your nervous system sort of relinquish, like it’s just like a relinquishing and you know our being is starting to realize, “Oh, it can let go. Oh, it can let go.” And that realization and you know the nervous system is discovering its own capacity to let go, to be opened as it’s being touched by presence because that’s where we’re sitting as we’re sitting in meditation. We’re allowing something to take place, right? We’re getting out of the way. If we sit in meditation and we’re trying to have something, experience something, it’s never going to work. It requires this relinquishing of control, right?
Rick: Yeah, yeah, I mean because the transformation that we’re talking about here is far too complex for the individual will to orchestrate. It would be like trying to orchestrate your digestion, you know, it’s better to just leave it to nature and to just sort of, you know, I mean if you eat a big heavy meal and then start running a marathon that’s not good timing because you’re interfering with digestion by your actions. So, you have to set up the conditions to allow nature to do its thing, which in this case might be a meditation or spiritual practice, but once you’ve done so you don’t interfere and it’ll take care of itself.
Joi: Yeah, yeah, and so this is where that devotional aspect is going to really show up for us too, is getting out of the way enough and allowing something to happen that our mind doesn’t know, right? We can’t understand on any kind of level of what’s happening, but we can sense it through our being, this beautiful, beautiful sensing organ that senses presence, that senses the Divine. You know, that’s how we know we’re sitting in presence is because we sense it within ourself. It’s not something that’s happening outside of ourself, we recognize presence through our sensing mechanism, through the presence that’s within it, right? So it’s using the field consciousness or presence, whatever you want to term you want to use here is using the nervous system deeply, not only to know itself but actually to open the being up more, right? And this is going to calm, it feels good to the nervous system. It’s like the most healing thing that can happen to it, right? You know, I mean this is what real peace is. It’s when our being knows that it’s being completely molded and taken care of and transformed and shaped in a way that it can’t understand yet, always before or never before, always new, right? And letting it come in in a way that our being starts to recognize that this is what it’s made for, this is why it can know presence, so just for this.
Rick: Yeah. There’s an interesting thing here which is the sort of the mind-body correlation, how they’re interrelated and connected and influence one another. And I’ve had experiences where I’m sitting in meditation and all of a sudden my body will just convulse, you know, if someone were watching me they’d see me just sort of jump or something and then there’s this huge sort of relaxation and expansion that takes place. i; Yeah, from playing too much pickleball.
Rick: From playing too much pickleball, Irene says. Yeah, these days I see pickleballs flying at me while I’m meditating. It’s a very intense game. And you have an interesting section in your book where you talk about while you’re sitting in Amma’s presence in her ashram and you’re going through all this stuff, you know, all these kriyas and fast breathing and you’re sweating and then you finally come out of it and open your eyes and everybody’s staring at you, you know, but there’s been some kind of physiological catharsis taking place.
Joi: Yeah, and sometimes presence is going to get very energetic. It’s going to really start to fire things up and this is to inspire the system. And who knows why, you know, maybe it really did need to burn some things out because I also remember sitting in the ashram just being in this incredibly uncomfortable place of burning and kind of an angst, you know, but who knows what really is happening within our nervous system. Those days, that’s what it did, right? It doesn’t do that anymore.
Joi: Yeah, it doesn’t need to, but I can still feel in my system when I sit and I sit every day when it kind of bumps up against something and that’s what happens when we become more sensitive, right? It’s like the field is bumping up against something and it’s almost like it’s talking to the being, talking to the nervous system, because this is Divine intelligence and it’s not necessarily, especially when we’re sitting in meditation, we’re really not focusing on what the being is experiencing, although thoughts might show up in the form of situations and stories or whatever, but oftentimes we’re just being and we’re allowing the field to come in and kind of have its way with us, right? And as it’s bumping up against something it’s going to be more of a felt sense and that’s all it is. We don’t even know what that felt sense needs to be about. It’s not necessary, but it gets … this is really interesting … it almost starts to feel like presence is like tinkering and I have felt it in my brain a lot and I want to share something. I heard Adya talk about this recently, just for the littlest minute, and it was almost like he didn’t quite want to go there, but I caught it. And you know, we have this brain and it’s not being used a lot. It’s very, very small percentage of it is being utilized and so can we allow presence to come in, the field to come in and start tinkering, right? Let it do what it wants. It knows how to work in there and so this is something the being starts to recognize too and it’s like, “Okay, yeah, I’m on board. I’m in total cooperation with what’s happening, whatever that might look like.”
Rick: Yeah, well, yeah, I mean we’re talking … and we’ve alluded to this already, but we’re talking about actual physiological transformation and there’s been research on this with fMRIs and stuff showing that long-term meditators have rather different brains in terms of the way they function. And probably many people listening to this, you and I both have sat in meditation and felt stuff changing in the brain. Not that the brain has any sensory ability. They say that you can, you know, in brain surgery they don’t have to anesthetize the brain because it doesn’t feel the way your arm would, but you can feel stuff shifting and popping and moving and relaxing and tingles of energy and all kinds of stuff going on in the physiology. j
Joi:Yeah, yeah, yeah, because the deepest evolution is going to be through being, right? It is going to be through the embodied being, which is the field within the being, right? That’s moving the being, because that is going to be able to know itself more …
Joi: I like that word. I like that word. Yeah, closer. And because there’s nothing going to be really in the way that it’s having to work through. And this has to kind of go along with this, what I talked about with clarity, the term clarity.
Rick: Yeah, I was just going to read this little section from your notes here. This is what clarity is looking for, so that all parts of our being can be integrated, made conscious. Honesty leading to clarity. Clarity is that dynamic aspect of presence, the aspect that sees and heals with grace. So clarity, yeah, I mean we want this instrument to be a clear vessel for the expression and manifestation of the Divine, we don’t want it to be muddied up and opaque, which is the opposite of clarity.
Joi: Yeah, so I’ve been liking this term a lot lately. We can use terms like awareness or presence, but awareness is something that’s … it is simply aware, I’m aware that I’m having this experience. Awareness can be aware of itself. Clarity kind of evokes more of an attribute of that which sees, which can really be activated, really be … what’s the word I’m looking for? Accessed within our being, okay? And everybody has access to clarity, you know, everybody. I sit with people and people are trying to convince me that they don’t have it, but I can see that it’s happening within them. And clarity is something that’s able to recognize simply what’s going on in the being.
Joi: Would you agree that there are degrees of clarity and it’s something that gets cultured over time and becomes more and more clear?
Joi: Absolutely, absolutely. So clarity is something that is also evolving, you could say, as it’s being used, being utilized, being accessed, like using a muscle. And we’ve talked about this before, I think. But clarity has another component to it, okay? And because clarity is that which has not only the capacity to see and to be aware, it also has the capacity to relinquish, to use the being, to know itself. It has capacities inherent within it. And one of its most important essential capacity is grace, what’s called grace, right? And that’s this capacity for transformation, for deep-seated change, okay? Grace isn’t something that allows us necessarily just to awaken. Grace is also something that shifts what’s not conscious within our being, as let’s say we’re bumping up against something that maybe is afraid for no reason, okay? And as we start to become curious about that place that we feel within our nervous system, because that’s how we’re going to know it’s there, because we’re going to feel it within our nervous system, as a “not,” right? Like we talked about. First we’re going to start out by being aware of it and then if clarity is strong enough and as it’s getting stronger we’re going to be able to see it not only objectively but without judgment, right? This is also something that’s extremely important. And not dismiss it, not avoid it. Clarity does not dismiss or avoid, ever. Clarity is the field with a capacity inherent within it. Clarity also has the capacity to enter into that which it sees. Clarity, okay? And it has also, because it doesn’t see with judgment, it has this capacity within it to integrate, to bring home, to include that which doesn’t know it’s God, those parts of our being, all right?
Joi: Yeah, as you say this, as you talk about clarity, for some reason the Guna model came to mind, you know, Sattva, Rajas and Tamas, and those qualities are often defined with reference to clarity, Tamas being very obscuring and dark and opposed to clarity and Rajas too in its own way, excitement, passion, you know, turbulence and so on, that obscures clarity. And they say that Rajas destroys Tamas and Sattva destroys Rajas. So there could in some cases be a progression through those, predominance of those Gunas in a person’s makeup as they go along. But Sattva is associated with clarity and there’s also that verse in the Bible of seeing through a glass darkly but later on seeing clearly, you know, through a clear glass. So there’s a sort of component of purification of one’s nervous system and one’s being so as to have it be a clearer vessel. I think that relates to what you’re saying here.
Joi: Yeah, I mean it’s going to start to become … the clearer we are using clarity, I didn’t say that right, but the more clarity is realized as self, right, we’re going to start to be able to use it. We’re going to, because we’re now identified with what sees, right, we’re going to start to realize our own capacity for clarity, okay? We’re going to start to step into that and this is when things get really kind of fun. This is when things get really interesting, right? Because when things arise within our being, within the nervous system, we’re not going to be like, “Okay, I got to sit with this, I got to deal with this.” We’re going to want to see it with our clarity.
Rick: Right then and there.
Joi: Right then and there. There’s no like trying to work with it and this is what we’re discovering within our being is how to use our clarity, right, and to be that and not only just being able to see but being able to go in and heal, integrate all parts of our being and this happens, can start to happen with increasingly more efficiency. It doesn’t have to take all day or an hour, it can happen quite quickly.
Rick: That’s a really good point.
Joi: And this grace that’s inherent within our clarity, it’s that place that the mind doesn’t really understand. It’s that component of … I always kind of see it as something alchemical, right? But if we can imagine the form and the formless, right? The formless being the clarity and the form being our being, our nervous system. All that formless wants to do is go into the form and inform it of what’s true, right? And that’s all it’s doing. And it does it by touching it, by encountering it, by entering into it in this very, very kind, non-judging, compassionate, you could even say, way because those places within our being that don’t know that they’re God too, you know, they’re separate. It’s not a very ideal way to live, it’s not a very nice way to feel, to feel separate and not connected. But the minute that clarity goes in and starts to touch it, that integration process has already begun. It’s already starting to bring those aspects of our being home. So that separation is just literally coming back into the sea, right? The salt doll into the sea. That’s the feeling. It doesn’t … you know, it’s not a thing, those parts of our being that feel separate. It’s not a thing. Like you said, it’s these neurological knots. There are functions within the nervous system that have been necessary to protect themselves, to be somebody in the relative world.
Rick: Yeah, and I think they have their counterparts, I think, in the subtle body. It’s not just something you find with an MRI or under a microscope or something. And we do have, I don’t know if everybody buys this idea, but we do have subtle bodies as well as gross and all of creation has a subtle realm which is not material and which is actually inhabited by subtle beings. But anyway, we as human beings traverse the whole range from gross to subtle and transcendent. And clarity, as I think you’re describing it, would want to continue to house clean on all those levels until there is no occlusion anymore.
Joi: Right, right. And the subtle bodies, they’re going to show up within the nervous system when their time and this is how the being can recognize that that’s there.
Rick: And they’re being purified even if we’re not aware of them.
Joi: Yeah, and it’s not necessary that we know that we’re purifying them all the time. That’s why this openness is so essential continually on the path. It doesn’t matter how realized or how integrated or whatever word you want to use, all those words start being really irrelevant actually, you know, when we’re being shaped. This is what’s happening now. But the openness aspect and the devotion to it is really kicking in now. Our being knows …
Joi: For you, for people?
Joi: For everybody. This is where what I’m talking about on the journey can be experienced no matter where we are, okay? Working on the level of the nervous system. But the deeper we go, that devotional aspect is going to be tested deeper and deeper and deeper, right? Isn’t it? It’s going to be called forth until the being really knows that it doesn’t want to hang out in my life anymore. It only wants to be a vehicle for the Divine. It only wants to be shaped and made into that, to be worthy of service, whatever that might look like, by the way. Yeah.
Rick: I want to bring up a point that we kind of … we’re both sitting here with pictures of Amma behind us.
Joi: I know, and we both get to see them.
Rick: Yeah, and there’s a kind of a common sentiment these days in the spiritual community that the guru phase has ended. Scott Kiloby just posted a video about that. A lot of people say that, you know, that’s kind of an antiquated mode of teaching or something and that it’s no longer relevant and so on. I think that some people who say this are trying to function as teachers and that’s what a guru is, so I’m not sure if there might be some inconsistency there. What would you have to say to someone who presented you with that objection?
Joi: Well, depends on the person and the situation. You know, everybody has their way, but here in the West people have a kind of an idea that there’s a very individualistic energy in the West, whereas you go to India and it’s very tribal, the support system is extremely valued there. And here, you know, you’ve got a lot of isolation. You’ve got your family over there, you’ve got your family over there, you’ve got your family over there, I’ve got my kids, you’ve got your kids, and everybody takes care of their own. For me, and I can only really talk about my own experience, I don’t know what really another person needs except when I really encounter them and I can hear their ideas and their beliefs about teachers and gurus, and there are a lot of those by the way, and I see them all over the place. For me, my relationship with Amma has been also in a process of evolution over the years, as it should be, it started out a certain way and it’s continually evolving, but through it all it’s been a support system. That’s mainly what a teacher is, it’s a support system. And a teacher isn’t here to teach you anything or to tell you anything, like what to do and how to do it, and I think a lot of Westerners think in their minds that that’s what a teacher does, is somebody that’s here to tell you what to do and to teach you things. When I grew up with Amma, I didn’t have any teachings, I had no teachings at all, and so when I was undergoing this process I had no idea what was going on, but I had openness, that’s the one thing that I had going on for me and that was very valuable. And it wasn’t until later that I really sat with Adya that my formal teaching period started and that was so perfect. But getting back to kind of Amma’s role in my journey is the support system, and also in the support system which we need. it will change over time what a support system is going to look like, but the support system allows us to start to see and access our own clarity. This is what a teacher or a guru does, they’re here so we can access our own clarity. They don’t want us to be dependent upon them, that’s what a real teacher does. If there’s a teacher that isn’t wanting you to access your own clarity, that’s not going to be very satisfying for you as a student, right? And Amma has continually kind of pushed me back into myself, almost like, “Find out for yourself.” She never gave me a teaching that I could hide behind or hold on to or believe in, and even my early years when I just wanted to be with Amma and be included in the group that traveled with her. I mean, you know, we go through this. I wanted my being the separate self, I wanted to kind of like have a place to land in Amma, but Amma never gave me a place to land. She continually took away things to land on, and this is, of course, you know this, this is the true definition of guru, which means “to remove,” right? To remove, to take away, continually removing places that the separate self is trying to land on. It comes from two Sanskrit roots that mean “darkness” and “light,” and so the guru is sort of removing darkness by adding the second element of light.
Joi: Okay, good to know. Well, my experience was she just kept taking away, that’s all I knew. But you know, this is interesting because by taking away, right, we access our own light.
Rick: Yeah, it’s like taking filters off a light that’s keeping the room dark because there’s stuff there in the way.
Joi:Yeah, yeah. So we’re almost being forced into it and the dependency is not there. And you know, I went to Amma many years ago, many years ago, and I asked her about my attachment to her form because at one point I was very attached to her, I always wanted to be with her, but yet I wanted truth more. And so I went to her and I asked her about it and she said, “It’s a vehicle, it’s a support system. The form is nothing but that. It gives you some sort of anchor while really, literally, the rest of your world is being taken away, which is not an easy process to undergo, right, but you have something supporting you in that, but it’s not something that the ego can hold on to, it’s something that the being can hold on to, right?”
Joi: Does that make sense?
Rick: Yeah, it does.
Joi: Yeah, you know, and that’s a big, broad conversation, you know, maybe you have some more questions about that, about the role of teachers and why so many people are kind of…
Rick: Well, there’s one thing is that, you know, there have been so many weird stories about things happening with teachers and we get feedback from time to time about, you know, people we’ve interviewed, this or that, or the other person who is doing things that we find troubling, and you know, so some people have kind of given the whole field a bad name and you know, I think that’s part of the reason why some people are saying, “Let’s get rid of that whole model, it’s not working,” you know?
Joi: Right, and I can only say to those people that I would look and see where that’s coming from. I mean, where we’re going is into the autonomous condition, right, that we’re completely self-reliant but yet I also know, amma, she’s going to be with me for as long as I acknowledge that she’s here. And it’s still a support system, it’s still a means of inspiration because she’s saying, “You can do this too. You can be a very capable being.” You know, I
Rick: Well, yeah, let me just jump in there. I mean, I think any guru worth her salt or his salt is they don’t want dependency. I mean, maybe there’s a stage at which it’s useful to sort of … for the kitten to be with the mother and whatever. Yeah, that’s a good metaphor actually. If you ever raise cats and you see there’s a certain stage at which the kitten … the mother is very protective of the kittens and close with the kittens and then they reach a certain age and the mother starts hissing at them and it’s like shocking to see because you love these little kittens and you love the cat but the mother is saying, “Nope, time to be on your own.” And you know, so ultimately no guru worth their salt wants to have dependence around them eternally. There’s got to be a shift to self-sufficiency.
Joi: Yeah, I mean, and because what’s true in us, you know, which is the clarity, doesn’t want dependency. Clarity only wants more clarity and that’s also going to … it also means taking place in the students, right? And people often say that I feel like kind of like a tuning fork when I work with them, that field that I’m sharing with the student or with the friend, it’s setting itself up. It’s like it’s kind of resonating with what we’re speaking about and that’s what I feel when I’m with Amma is that field that we’re sharing is like talking, communicating with each other. And that’s the same when I work with people. That’s what I feel is happening is that the field is working with itself, within the student, within the teacher, and it doesn’t necessarily mean what we’re talking about, but it’s the clarity through which that student is being able to start to access for themselves. And that is what gives me satisfaction, that that’s what’s happening for them. Dependence, no, that’s not going to work here, ever.
Rick: Well, the tuning fork metaphor is a good one because you know how you can strike a tuning fork and then bring another one near it and that second tuning fork will start to resonate because of the resonance of the first one. And this whole thing of transmission from a teacher, my understanding and experience is that it’s not that some energy is being sort of sent like a ball of light from point A to point B, but that there is a sort of an attunement of the fields, of the fields, so that your frequency and the frequency of the teacher, your frequency begins to align more closely with the frequency of the teacher. And just one final point, one more metaphor, is I’ve heard Amma use the example of a brightly burning log, and if you put another log near it that’s not burning, that log will start to burn. So, I don’t know, those are all good metaphors, but none of those examples have anything to do with dependency or telling people how to live their lives or anything like that. It’s really just a matter of affinity and resonance and getting on to a better wavelength by virtue of proximity to someone who is on a good one.
Joi: Yeah, and if you really want the truth, your level of discernment is going to … you’re going to need to start using it for sure, and you’re going to start recognizing people that inspire you, and you’re going to want to hang around with people that inspire you.
Rick: And you’re going to recognize when something’s off.
Joi: Yeah, and you’re going to recognize when something’s off. And I’ve noticed that there’s a lot of very clear people out there, and they’re not necessarily teachers, but the level of integrity is very obvious. And those are the beings that are being called forth. It doesn’t … and if people are wearing the hat of a teacher but they don’t have that level of integrity, and that ego structure still needs a place to land, and being a teacher is a really great one, right? An ego structure that has found the teaching place to land is not likely to give that one up because that’s a really good one.
Rick: You mean if it’s an ego-motivated assumption of that role, as you’re saying?
Joi: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Rick: And then it goes to their heads and things get really weird, yeah.
Joi: Yeah, it becomes extremely protected and needed to be maintained, whereas a real teacher … and I even told you I struggle with that term. I don’t see myself as a teacher because I don’t teach necessarily. I talk and it looks like I’m kind of teaching, but it’s the field that I’m feeling, and I can feel when a student is open and when they’re not. And when a student is open it feels like clarity kind of pouring itself into another … there’s an ease of access, you might say, and if it’s not closed there’s not any ease.
Rick: Yeah, you know, Maharishi had a good analogy for this. He said that a teacher, a true teacher, is like a reservoir, and the reservoir doesn’t really do anything, but it’s up to the student to sort of bring a pipe up to it, and according to the circumference of the pipe will be the force of the flow of water. If it’s a really big pipe a lot of water can flow, but it’s really up to the student to bring up an adequate pipe.
Joi: Right, and Amma says the same thing, and that goes along with being open, right? And Amma says it’s not up to the teacher, it’s up to the student to be receptive, period. She didn’t deviate in any sort of way. If you don’t have receptivity and you only have your own ideas then it’s going to be kind of difficult for a teacher to get in there, but maybe given time, those ideas aren’t going to work for that student, and then they’ll say, “Okay, this isn’t working,” right? And some level of receptivity born from humility will start to happen.
Rick: I think your use of the word “discernment” is apt. I think that whether you have a teacher or not, whatever teacher you may or may not have, it’s important to do whatever you can to culture discernment and never to relinquish that. And it’s just an extremely valuable quality on the path for anybody, and I don’t think any really legitimate teacher would discourage that. On the contrary, they would encourage it.
Joi: Right, the legitimate ones. Because I remember when I lived in Sedona in the 80s and it was small then, but there was still a lot of New Age kind of stuff going on. I mean, it was everywhere really, and I could feel the discernment kick in. It was a lot of “no’s,” way, way, way more “no’s” than “yes.” And I could see the people that were really working on themselves, and that was when I started hooking up with the disciples of Paramahansa Yogananda. And that was way back in the mid-80s, and yet discernment was starting to kick in like, “This is what this being needs,” right? And so, it’s not about what everybody else is doing. You got to tap into your own self, and that’s very important that we’re not following the sheep because what your being needs is never, ever, ever going to look like everybody else’s. It’s always going to be different and it’s going to keep going into places where nobody else is going, especially later.
Rick: I just saw a funny cartoon yesterday, I think it was a Gary Larson cartoon who did the Farsight. It was a bunch of sheep standing around at a cocktail party and one sheep was saying to the other, “This party is a disaster. Nobody knows where to stand, nobody knows what to do.” And then you see in the background this border collie at the door and the other sheep says, “Oh, thank God, a border collie! He’ll get us organized!”
Joi: Right, and there’s the dependence, right? There it is, it’s showing up. You’re a sheep, you’re going to be dependent. And that would be why we can’t call the dependent sheep faulty until they realize that they haven’t learned to stand up for themselves, they haven’t learned to access their own clarity, they’re still relying on the teacher to tell them how to do it, they’re still relying on maybe a teaching how to do it, or even they’re still relying on an experience that they’ve had in the past on how to do it, right? And why I say this is going to take us continually into places we’ve never been before is because it does, and that’s that level of autonomy that is an extremely hard one. This isn’t easy to keep using your own level of discernment on what you need, right? Because it’s going to take you beyond the sheep, way, way, way beyond the sheep.
Rick: Would you say that discernment is like a muscle which can get strengthened through use? And if so, what kind of exercises, and I use the term somewhat metaphorically, would you recommend for strengthening it?
Joi: Well, hopefully we’re being able to access that in the beginning of our journey rather than like after we’ve maybe got kind of stuck into kind of a sheep mentality or being brainwashed by teachings, which this is really important. People get brainwashed by teachings and they’re not using discernment. And the separate self will try to find places to land, okay? And discernment is something that is on a level of intuition, which is a different place than what the separate self is operating from, okay? So, we want to access that deeper knowing, that’s what we’re here to do. And that deeper knowing is what we need right now versus what we think we need or what we want to need, what’s going to give us a place of security and feeling safe. Discernment often brings us into a place that doesn’t feel safe, but it’s also a deep knowing that this is what I need, I do need to let this go, I do need to stop following the pack and do what everybody else is doing. Discernment is also like, “Am I growing? Am I changing?” Because that would be a way to access discernment. Or you could even call discernment kind of a level of honesty, that “Am I really trying to feel safe in community, in Sangha, in teachings, or am I ready to start to access this deeper place in myself that says, ‘This is what I need, this is what I need, this is what I need.'” That’s very important. And did that answer your question?
Rick: It kind of did, and while you were answering it I had a couple of thoughts. One was I thought of this quote from the Buddha which I just looked up as you were speaking. He said, “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.” And I like that one. And also, kind of something I do is I give everybody the benefit of the doubt, but at the same time I take everything with a grain of salt. You know what I mean?
Joi: Yeah, I see that in you.
Rick: Yeah, and that’s kind of paradoxical. If somebody says that bees come from Venus or something, I’ll think, “Alright, maybe.” But I don’t know, that’s something to … Another way of putting it is, to me, everything is a scientific hypothesis. Every claim that every religion has ever made or anything else is something that could potentially be investigated if we have the means to do so, which doesn’t mean that I doubt everything. And obviously with hypotheses in science, there are some which have a lot more credibility than others and have been verified to a much greater extent than others. So that’s true in my own experience too. I mean, there’s some certain things that I’m 99% sure are true, but there’s always that But that way, if you have that kind of attitude, at least it works for me, then you’re not kind of rigid, you’re not clinging, you don’t take things on blind faith, you kind of stay open.
Joi: Yeah, and there’s that word again, “open.” And it’s also that way of, “You don’t know until you do,” right? I mean, really know, and that’s the beautiful thing about not having a teaching but yet having a very, very strong impulse to know, for sure, for yourself, right? And I was fortunate to have that, and I was very driven at an early age, but yet the impulse … again, it’s allowed me to access my own discernment, it’s like an inner GPS, which is going into a place that is about our own evolution, and it’s really left behind most teachings. But yet, when there is a direct encounter of self, it’s like you know it, and that’s that self-validation piece, right? Let it be your own experience, because if it’s a teaching and you’re believing it, the tendency is to make it, like you said, rigid and dogmatic, and that’s happening a lot these days.
Joi: And people are like frothing at the mouths defending their belief in their teachings, and when you have your own experience, you don’t need to defend anything.
Rick: No, I mean, so many wars fought over that attitude, and people drive cars into crowds over that attitude, and there are all these political fights and so on and so forth, where if people could just sort of release the grip a little bit, but yeah, and not be so cocksure of one’s own rightness and certainty.
Joi: But that’s such a great example of that separate self, finding a place to land and it’s a security, it’s a false security.
Rick: Exactly, that’s the perfect word. It’s like holding on for dear life because you want certainty, you want some kind of absolute value in life, not having access to something which is actually absolute. You try your darndest to make something relative absolute.
Joi: Yes, yes, yeah, and that’s false. It’s such a false sense of security, but it feels so real to that which is looking for it. It feels very solid.
Rick: But it’s always tenuous, you’re always on shaky ground.
Joi: And this is exactly where we are. We’re on shaky ground, and one of the things I shared with you that happened last year with Amma, I shared with you that for two weeks I sat in her presence in this state of absolute not knowing. I couldn’t find anything to know if my heart depended upon it and all I knew was this clarity, right? Clarity. And not knowing, when you really have an absolute sense of not knowing, it does feel shaky. It’s extremely vulnerable, I mean, because you’re really letting go of any place that separate self might look to land.
Rick: Irene just showed me a note saying, “Driving cars into people is mental illness, psychopathic,” and that’s true, but it’s a mental illness which is characterized in part by hubris to an extreme degree, by a certainty that I am right and I am going to do this for Allah or for whatever. And it’s an extreme, sickly profound degree of this tendency which I think we all have to some extent and which you and I are talking about rooting out. There’s a beautiful little saying, I don’t know if it came from Ramana or Papaji or one of these people, he said, “It’s free fall forever, but the good news is there’s no ground,” you know, so you’re not going to go splat.
Joi: You know, I saw somebody asked a couple days ago, “What’s your favorite teachings from Jesus?” You know, and here we are in Christmas and so that was a question and mine is, “The son of man has no place to rest his head.”
Rick: “For the foxes have their dens and the birds have their nests, but the son of man has no place to rest his head.”
Joi: “The man has no place to rest his head.”
Rick: Yeah, which is exactly the point I think we’re making here.
Joi: Exactly, exactly, and this is where everything is known, everything that we can find to rest our head upon is getting taken away and what is left is this glorious self-validating self and not having a place to rest our head, I mean, that’s the freedom that really allows the field to have 100% access.
Rick: Yeah, and paradoxically that’s security.
Joi: Yes, exactly, you got it, exactly, and that’s it. And I think there’s a point in all of our journeys where we start to see, “Oh, this is the only thing I have to rely on,” and it is a grace when we start to experience that all these things that we thought we needed are totally tenuous, they’re ephemeral, they’re not real, they’ll leave, they’ll go away at some point.
Rick: Yeah, a couple of questions came in that might cause us to shift gears, let’s see what they are. This is from a fellow named David in Grass Valley, California. He asks, “Do you feel in relation to clarity and form that there is a third term of reference, a field within which the two interact, clarity and form, or are there just clarity and form?”
Joi: Well, I think the form has … what we were talking about, those subtle beings, those subtle levels, subtle realms of being, which is form, okay? Because form is anything that’s created, so form would be emotion and thought and feeling and then the very, very gross levels of our blood and our bone and our whatever, okay? The formless is that which encounters, right? That’s what’s happening is clarity is getting to encounter form on all those different levels, right? But we must also sense that both the form and the formless are the same field, and you can feel that within your being, that aliveness within your body.
Rick: You know that Buddhist saying, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form.”
Joi: Yes, yeah, yeah. So, this is what we’re talking about. So, clarity doesn’t see form as something that’s not part of the same field, okay? Clarity is what is seeing from field, it’s that attribute you could say, although that’s not really an attribute, it’s just what the field is doing. So the field or clarity sees form no matter where it is in its evolution as that same field, right? It’s all the same field, so there is not two, and this is the very precise definition of non-duality is not two. And so, coming from clarity it sees form as itself. It never sees it as separate even though aspects of form experience itself as separate.
Rick: That’s very well put.
Joi: So that would be the integration. That’s what integration is. It’s just bringing it all back in, so it’s conscious of itself. Because even those aspects of separation have a conscious field to them, don’t they? Just the thought “I,” “me,” it has a conscious field to it. It’s just not a clear conscious field, okay? So that integration is bringing that sameness all throughout its being. Thanks for the question, David.
Rick: Sure, and in case anybody is wondering how David submitted that question, on batgap.com under “upcoming interviews” there’s a question form at the bottom of that page and if you submit a question there during an interview we will probably ask it to the guest. So if you want to do that now, anybody else, you’re welcome to. And here’s another question. This is from another Dave, but this one happens to be in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Dave is asking, “What is your growing edge in the unfolding as a yogi and as a teacher?” joy; My growing edge?
Rick: Yeah, I guess.
Joi: Can I …
Rick: Go ahead, what are you going to say?
Joi: Can I ask for a little clarification what a growing edge is?
Rick: Yeah, well it might take him a while to get back to us with the clarification, but I’ll try to clarify because I think I know what he means. And this is a question that I often ask people, usually towards the end of interviews, is where do you see it going from here? Usually there’s some sense of a horizon in terms of where one’s development seems to be moving and maybe it’s unpredictable to a great extent. But like 50 years ago, nearly 50 years ago, when I learned to meditate I had some kind of concept of where I might be 50 years from now, or even 5 years from now.
Joi: I remember those back then, I don’t really have them anymore, but there is a sense and that’s okay, so I get what you mean now. I don’t have ideas about past this moment, I have no idea.
Rick: Living in the now so much.
Joi: Well, and my being only knows to open up to this that’s here, right? That’s all it can do, so it can’t really formulate projections into where this might be going. And I’ll be really honest with you, I don’t feel comfortable limiting it in any way. I don’t feel comfortable in trying to put it into a box of maybe labeling it “teacher.” I don’t feel comfortable putting it in a box and setting up a lot of things, events, happenings, whatever it is, because I resonate more deeply with what’s possible for us, this deep sense of potential that my being, my brain, my nervous system are activating. What is possible for us as integrated being? How can we move in this world and be of service? And that’s all I know. There’s an extremely strong longing that kind of really kicked in a couple of years ago and that came from being, like, “I just want to serve.” And to that, I can only say, “I can only open to what’s here, and this is deciding.” And my mind can’t come up with anything because all of that is limiting to my being. To put it in a box of any kind, I can’t.
Rick: Yeah. Well, I think to make it a little easier for you, I would suggest that although we can’t predict specifics, you know, this might happen, that might happen, I might be playing this precise role. We can perhaps say more general things, such as, well, I hope, or even like, not certainties, but I hope to have greater capacity for love or greater wisdom or greater clarity, or things like that, which kind of lets God off the hook in terms of any …
Joi: Well, and I think that’s kind of a given. That’s what I
Rick: That’s been the trend so far. God willing, it will continue to be the trend, that kind of thing.
Joi: Yeah, and that’s a good question, but you know, I might not look so kind and loving and authentic being, right? I don’t know. I remember when I first lived with Amma, she didn’t look so kind and loving all the time. But you know, it has a feeling, the impulse that’s happening within being to … that this is for peace, that this is, you know, may all beings be happy. And I don’t know what that looks like, but I can sense in my being that this is for the good of all. And I’ve had an awareness in my being for decades that … and it was really beautiful. I was sitting in Tiruvannamalai in Ramana’s meditation hall, having all these three, four-hour long meditations, and somebody one day came up to me and she was a sweet lady and she said, “Just remember, these flowers aren’t for you.” And it was like an angel came, you know, she just said that. And I might have said this to you before, but ever since then, this isn’t for me, this is for the whole. This is for this field that knows how to perhaps bring about peace, right? My mind doesn’t know, but there is a deep longing to be used for that and deep healing that it’s time for humanity to experience great healing. A lot is getting exposed right now. There’s exposure happening on so many levels, right? You can really feel it, that seems to be a thing of the times. And aligning ourselves with what really our soul values, really, I mean, this is important. And Adya’s has been talking about this beautifully, you know, what an important time to talk about this. Where are we going as a collective, right? As fellow travelers, here we are, can we support each other in this? And that’s what I intuit that this is moving into. And maybe some of these people that are interpreting it as, “You don’t need a teacher,” that’s what they’re feeling. Maybe it’s an interpretation of this sense within their being, that we are moving into much more collective and to be able to recognize, “Oh, this is happening over here and it’s happening over here.” And it might not be happening much in my neighborhood, but it is taking place. I don’t know if I got off track there.
Rick: No, you did pretty good.
Joi: I kind of went, “Okay.”
Rick: You know, Thich Nhat Hanh was the one who said, “The next Buddha may be the Sangha,” and that kind of has a democratization connotation to it, you know, that the hierarchical one-to-many kind of model, it might be shifting to one of a many-to-many, which is kind of what the internet is. I mean, the internet, it used to be that you had to own a television station or a newspaper to broadcast information. Now we’ve got this many-to-many model that has taken over the world. And I think perhaps in the spiritual realm there will be something of that kind of a dynamic also. But nonetheless, I still think there are, and will probably continue to be, very bright lights within that matrix around whom others may congregate, and that’s still a useful model or situation for those people.
Joi: Right, for inspiration, right? Because that’s … I mean, here we have people like Amma and Jesus that say, “You’re capable of doing this. You have this in you. You can do much greater works than this,” or however he put it. You’re probably better at this than me.
Rick: He said, “Whatsoever the great things that I do, you too shall do even greater things.”
Joi: Yes, yeah. So you know, these words are … those are kind of like beacons for my being, and not that I’m going to go out and do great works, but just that inspiration, that impulse to keep going, and that’s what I think the bright lights are there for. And also this resonance, this field that we were talking about, the tuning fork, that’s how teachings are going to start to be really integrated. The collective field, we’re going to start to feel it more in our being, using our body, using the nervous system to start to recognize, “Okay, what doesn’t know the truth here? What isn’t integrated?” And just start to pay attention rather than conceptualizing teachings, using our own being, because that’s where the field is, that’s where it’s happening.
Rick: Well you know, you just alluded to something a minute ago about how there’s big shifts taking place in society. I see those as expressions or manifestations of a shift in collective consciousness, and by consciousness I don’t just mean attitude or social perspectives or something, I mean it’s something deeper than that. What we in this audience would understand to be consciousness, the most fundamental field of all, is getting enlivened, and through its enlivenment all kinds of dominoes are going to start falling and things are going to start shifting with much greater rapidity than they have so far.
Joi: Yeah, yeah, I agree because that’s what exposure does, that’s what clarity does, doesn’t it?
Joi: Yeah, it has a purifying effect on form, right? And you know, we’re all part of it and start to recognize that, you know, you’re part of it right now, that’s it, and the more clarity can start to wake itself up and I think that’s my role as a teacher and I will continue to do that, which is the other part of Dave’s question. I do see myself continuing that role. I really love working with people. I really love working with people and just to watch people start to access that clarity within themselves is extremely satisfying for me.
Rick: I’d say that, you know, I mean I think this is a good time to be alive, especially if one has a spiritual bent, you know. It’s a very opportune time for rapid evolution. There’s a wave and you can catch that wave and you know, so … throwing in a lot of metaphors here, but make hay while the sun shines.
Joi: Well, and also, you know, and to be even more precise with it, it’s got to be to the exclusion of all other things.
Rick: Wait a minute now, I mean that doesn’t mean you can’t have a family and have a job and like to play tennis or something like that.
Joi: Or pickleball.
Rick: Or pickleball, you don’t want to be fanatic. You’ve got to live a balanced life.
Joi: Okay, and maybe I’m using somebody else’s quote that could be easily misunderstood, but let’s just clarify that then and make it even more precise, not to the exclusion of other things, but to the reliance of other things, that we’re relying on the family to fulfill us or we’re relying on the pickleball to give us a sense of satisfaction or dominance or whatever, you know what I mean? So, thanks for the clarification, that’s really fun. And you know, because I still have interests, I love to go hiking and I know, yeah, and I love to be outside and I love dogs and you know…
Rick: I wouldn’t say to you, “No Joi, you should just sit there with your eyes closed and forget dogs and hiking.”
Joi: And I love having conversations and so it’s not to the exclusion of other things but to the belief that they’re going to give you something.
Rick: Right, and a nice aspect of it is that the spiritual development actually enhances those other things. You enJoi dogs more and hiking more.
Joi: And you might get better at pickleball.
Rick: You do, yeah, your reflexes are faster. We’ve actually done studies on that, faster reaction time with people who meditate.
Joi: There you have it.
Rick: Yeah, okay, how are you doing there? Are you feeling like we got a little bit more steam in you for this conversation?
Rick: Okay, good.
Joi: Do you have another question?
Rick: I do have one, well not from anybody else but I have another note here I wanted to read from your book. I think we haven’t quite talked about this. If we stay open we can experience many shifts or awakenings. Most of these shifts in consciousness will be subtle and the invitations to see will become increasingly more subtle. If we stay open we will free ourselves of the desire for a big shift and I have found it is in the subtle shifts that really add up to develop a mature perspective. I think the reason I excerpted that quote was that some people are waiting for the big shift, you know, the kind of the fireworks to go off and they might wait forever for that and yet have undergone profound development, which somebody else with a nervous system wired slightly differently might have achieved through a big dramatic contrasting shift, but that is no more significant than what this more incremental person has achieved.
Joi: Right, so a lot of times people will get like what I call gifts and those are usually the big ones. They’re the ones that give the being a big opportunity to see in a very, very obvious way, right? And it’s good, it’s almost essential for us to see in an obvious way the transparency of the illusion of what things that separate, okay? And that’s all it is.
Rick: You need that too, you need a big sort of knock over the head.
Joi: Yeah, obvious, yeah, and that’s what happened for me when I was in my 20s. What has transpired since then are more ordinary things. It’s not a big special thing at all. You know, fortunately for me, after the big one came a lot of … it opened the way for deeper work on the emotions and on the being, which was essential for me to continue on my journey. I had to do that, you know, and we all probably do. But yet, moving into the ordinary of life, you know, I’ve got a day job.
Rick: You’re a librarian, right?
Joi: Librarian, and here in my little town where pretty much everybody knows who I am, I’m the librarian, right? It doesn’t allow me any place to be a kind of a teacher. I’m not really a teacher here in this town. And so, I go to work, which has been really healthy for me. None of my co-workers are interested in any of this stuff, nothing. So I’m moving into the relative on where consciousness is in any moment in my conversations. And it’s amazing all those places that be in being that can start to see, start to try to maintain some separation when it’s encountering something that it doesn’t necessarily agree with. You see? Does that make sense?
Rick: I think so.
Joi: Okay. Because we’re all going to have like perspectives, and if we’ve had big shifts, it’s going to be easy to project our perspectives onto others or onto life.
Rick: Unless we’re really integrated, and that’s what has to follow from big shifts, big or small, so that you function as a normal person without making a big fuss about yourself.
Joi: Exactly, exactly. So here we are in the day job and nobody sees things maybe the same way you did. And that was very obvious to me when I first came back from India 15 years ago. I started to say, “Wow, people see things different.” And I had no idea that anything had happened at that point, but that was kind of my first clue. But there was still a lot of separation or seemingly unintegrated parts of my being that were starting to show up in this circumstance of living a very simple, ordinary life. And those were the places that clarity really wanted to start to see. “Oh, this is trying to maintain some sort of perception,” right? This is finding some place … because it’s all about where it’s trying to hide, where it’s trying to maintain separation. If we feel separation in our body, there’s separation still in our body, and it’s going to be, it’s been my experience, that it’s these very ordinary circumstances and situations in life, very simple, that are going to start to really show those places up that are extremely important for integration.
Rick: Let me interject a question here that came in from Paul in Santa Cruz, which is relevant to what we’re talking about. He asks, “Can one’s tendency for solitude in the spiritual quest actually be a form of individual contraction and a form of repulsion towards other humans? This in and of itself might be one of the knots you speak of. This is something I encounter in myself.” i; Paul just emailed and said
Rick: Oh, Paul just emailed and said what? i; He meant to say, “repulsion by humanity, not towards.”
Rick: Oh, he meant to say, “repulsion by humanity, not towards.” So in other words, repulsion, yeah, okay, I think you can make something out of that. But to me, again, that speaks of the necessity for integration.
Joi: Yeah, and I think there’s a time that solitude is important because distraction is also very, very easy to do in the world. Distraction is everywhere and people are going to find ways to distract themselves rather than encounter themselves. And I think the solitude, peace, is a beautiful time to start to see maybe what’s still trying to distract from encountering itself really fully. You know, I think, Paul, it’s important for you to start to practice discernment for yourself because there’s not a blanket answer. It’s definitely possible, though, that solitude can be a form of protection, which I also have seen in people. When I first came back from India, I really wanted solitude. I wanted to be alone and be very quiet and life provided the means for me to do it, but I still had to work a day job. So that gave me the means to still participate in life and in our little community. Stuff was coming up still, and so it gave me the opportunity to keep things moving. And then going home to my quiet life was a way to still provide the nurturing and the nourishment to being that still needed. I needed that still. When I came back from India, my being was going through quite a bit of turmoil and trying to reorient itself into a new way of operating. So too much solitude, if we’re not having any kind of engagement with life, it’s not going to give us much opportunity for growth. So I think it’s a really important thing to find that balance, which for me at that time was living alone. And this lasted for quite a while, I think about seven years, and then I was working that day job. And then it was really interesting. I started to notice another movement that felt like it wanted to become even more engaging in life. And so I moved to town. It started to feel a little too isolated. It wanted to engage more. I didn’t need those periods of being alone and being integrated and being with myself or maybe being with the stuff that came up during the day, right? So it doesn’t quite need to remove itself anymore like it used to.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, and yet you’re not going out to discos until 3 in the morning or something. You know, there’s just sort of a level of activity and engagement that’s appropriate for you and your nervous system. I mean, I’ve been on like six-month meditation retreats and stuff when if you just went into town to buy toothpaste it was like, “Oh, let me get back to my room, this is too much.” So there needs to be integration. You said it, there’s a time for retreat and silence and inwardness and there’s a time for integration of that and that necessitates engagement in activity, engagement with other people, engagement with the world. Otherwise, if it’s this thing that we can only sustain when we’re kind of sitting in our room, it’s not stabilized and something is going to disrupt it.
Joi: Yeah, you know, it’s amazing when you can sit in this room that’s like the perfect temperature and the perfect lighting and there’s no noise and you’re still not quite settled into your being. And this is important, just to use our discernment about, “Am I hiding? Am I using this desire to be alone as a means to feel safe?” Because that’s another way for people to feel safe and comfortable because it’s what we’ve known, it’s what we can deal with, and moving back into life and in a very integrated way it’s simple and it’s ordinary and nobody’s going to really recognize that you are, but there’s something in your being that really is very satisfying because it wants to move into form, right? It wants to move into form, it wants to be in the mix. Yeah, thanks for your question though.
Rick: Yeah, good one.
Joi: Hopefully the answer was appropriate, I mean valuable.
Rick: And you know what you do, Joi, I think is a good prescription for possibly for … was it Paul? I think his name was … and for people in general and many people I’ve spoken to, nature is a very nice healing kind of thing to be in and to hike in and swim in and so on. It’s very grounding, very nourishing and so if you’re feeling kind of a little bit too inward or something, maybe some physical activity in the good out of doors would be just the prescription.
Joi: Yeah, movement, yeah, I mean get out there and even getting out in the great out of doors for some people that can be kind of scary. I’ve noticed that some people aren’t so comfortable just going out there, hiking on a trail by themselves, just tell people where you’re going. But yeah, it’s important to get out of our comfort zone, it really is. You got to mix it up and for me India was the big one, that was a big getting out of the comfort zone and that … it was hard, it was hard on the nervous system, but it was also that kind of … what we have to do is start to become aware of familiar tendencies within our being. Those are the little wake-up calls inside, the familiar tendencies, what we tend to fall back into, right? Yeah.
Rick: So I’m going to read one final little quote from your book that I think would be a nice note to end on. You can comment or not comment, however you feel, but I just thought this was sweet. You said, “Our world is a beautiful place. It is not something we should dismiss as being only a dream.”
Joi: Yeah. I’ll comment on it because, you know, the experience of this that’s moving through our being … we all know this, there’s a deep desire to connect and that’s often coming from truth, that true essence within our being. It’s looking for intimacy with itself and it’s going to find it. It has the capacity, the potential to find it everywhere and this is coming back into the simple ordinary place when it finds this intimacy with people it doesn’t know, you know, the waitress that comes to the table, whoever, the dog down the street, whatever it might be. There’s a sense of completion that happens in finding intimacy everywhere in the world and so this is our opportunity, right? This is it. So that was that invitation right there.
Rick: Yeah, God is hiding in plain sight, you know, the world is the Divine. That waitress that comes to your table is God in the form of a waitress.
Joi: Yeah, yeah.
Rick: That dog, that whatever. Beautiful. Well, thanks, Joi. This has been a marvelous couple of hours and I will be putting up all the usual information for people to get in touch with you and find your website and all that stuff. So anyone listening to this can do that. Go to batgap.com and you’ll see Joi’s page and also the page for her previous interview which you might wish to listen to. And I’ll probably see you in June hopefully.
Joi: Yeah, hope so. And thank you so much. I mean what a great time to actually share this, you know, over the holidays where just that sense of the sacred is just a little closer, I don’t know.
Rick: Yeah, I actually have my Christmas shirt on but you can’t quite see it.
Joi: I know.
Rick: I’m sitting down so I love it. I really want to wear this today.
Joi: Thanks for wearing your Christmas shirt, Rick. So thanks to everybody that’s joining us with the questions and it was really, really fun.
Rick: Yeah, yeah.
Joi: Thank you.
Rick: I thank you all. And just a final wrap-up point or two, you know, this is an ongoing series of interviews as you must know and if you want to find out more go to www.batgap.com and in addition to Joi’s interview you’ll see all the other ones and you’ll see a place to sign up for the email notification of new interviews and a link to the audio podcast if you prefer that to video and a bunch of other stuff. Just poke around on the site and you’ll find what is there to offer, what is there. So thanks Joi.
Joi: Thanks Rick.
Rick: See you again.
Joi: See you again. Happy Holidays.