Karen V. Johnson Transcript

Karen V. Johnson Interview

Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually Awakening people. We’ve done nearly 650 of them now.  If this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com BATGAP, then look under the past interview’s menu. You could also of course, browse around in the YouTube channel, but on BatGap.com they’re much better organized. They’re in several different indexes of ways that I’ve organized them. This program is made possible through the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So, if you appreciate it, and you’d like to help support it, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site and there’s also a page which suggests alternatives to PayPal. My guest today is Karen V. Johnson. Karen is a graduate of Georgetown Law Center, a former Fulbright scholar who studied in Afghanistan. She holds master’s degrees in Public Health and Public and International Affairs. She was a federal administrative law judge who practiced criminal and energy law for more than 30 years. She is also a former US Navy, US Army, officer was a major there in the army. She was personally trained by Alberto Villoldo. There was an abrupt shift from all that army and law stuff to being trained by him and his faculty at the Four Winds Society and a Master Practitioner of energy medicine. She has trained extensively in the techniques of illumination, soul retrieval, extractions of energies and entities, divination, and death rites. Her book, which I read this week, is entitled, Living Grieving, Using Energy Medicine to Alchemize Grief and Loss. And this book, and also the shift from her strait-laced career path to her kind of very unorthodox interests, was catalyzed by the sudden unexpected death of her son due to a heroin overdose. So, I’m sure Karen, we’ll be talking about that story. And, Karen, I was thinking, I hope you don’t mind starting with this, but as we speak, we’re four days out from the massacre of 19 children in Texas, which, in other words, a normal day in America, but worse than usual. People all over the country are feeling lots of grief. But it’s hard to imagine what parents are feeling. If you had the opportunity to speak to those parents, knowing what, now, after everything you’ve been through, what do you think you might say to them?

Karen V. Johnson: Well, that’s a really tough one, because there’s two kinds of deaths that are the worst. Unexpected death and the death of a child. And when you have an unexpected death of a child, you’re really in a world of hurt. So, one thing I would tell people at this moment is just to be with the pain, be with the anger, be with the fear, and that grief is a journey, and that they are embarking on the biggest journey of their lives. And as they embark on this journey, to make a reckoning with grief, to go through the stages to being reborn into a new life out of the ashes of the old that honor their loved ones, that there is hope that it doesn’t seem at this moment. When death comes knocking like that there doesn’t seem to be hope. All there seems to be is despair and sadness and hopelessness and to just know that there is more and more will be coming. And life isn’t over. It seems like it’s over. When you lose a child. It really seems like life is over. And you kind of wish it were over.  It’s trying to bear the unbearable.

Rick Archer: In a few minutes we’re going to talk more about your background, and you had some profound experiences as a child growing up, which to my mind means you kind of already had a toe in the waters of deeper mystical understanding of things. But then you had gone through, a life, which pretty much numbed that out of you. I presume most of the parents in Texas are Catholics or Latino people. And so, they would have a belief in the afterlife and so on. Do you feel that at least a belief, if not some sort of experiential evidence in the continuation of life after death helps to mitigate the pain of grief somewhat? Or is it too superficial to really do that? Whenever I think about death, either somebody I know dies, or I speak at a funeral or something like that, which I haven’t done very often. But I’m reminded there’s a whole string of verses in the Bhagavad Gita, where Krishna is talking about death. And he says things like, Arjuna’s grieving over the potential death of all these people he’s supposed to fight, and Krishna says, you grieve for those for whom there should be no grief. Yet speak as do the wise, wise men grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. And, that kind of makes sense in terms of understanding reincarnation, and the soul lives on after the body dies, and all that stuff. But I just wonder if it’s unnatural to try to take refuge in concepts like that, or perhaps, again, understanding that bigger picture, you still are going to grieve because it’s human. But somehow, it’s eased a little bit by understanding that, as opposed to thinking that this is the utter end of this person that I loved, and they no longer exist, or I can no longer have any kind of relationship with them in any way.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, I, when I work with people, I, one thing I mention to them, is we can’t change anybody’s mind. We can’t change anything except our own perspective. If we keep in mind that, really, they’re just right beside us, they’re around us. And sometimes people say, well, if they’re in heaven, then how can they be around us? What happened? And I said, Well, it’s not prison. Right? They’re allowed to come back and forth. They visit and they do visit. And so, I really try to help people to change their perspective to remember they’re right there, to remember they’re not gone. It’s really hard because it’s not the same as getting a hug from them. It’s not the same as making them breakfast in the morning. It’s just not. So, we have to transition into this new relationship with our loved ones on the other side. It takes a little time, it takes a little doing, but if you keep that in mind, if you keep the eternal life part in mind. I didn’t have that. I wasn’t particularly religious. And so, when my son passed, I was standing, I was in the airport in South Korea, had gone to South Korea for a vacation, and he appeared in front of me. And I thought, oh, my gosh, and then he kind of faded away.

Rick Archer: I heard you say that when he appeared in front of you, was he little ghostly? Was it?

Karen V. Johnson: No, no

Rick Archer: Or was it like anybody else in the airport?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, solid, just solid. He was like, right in front me with his big old grin.  And then,

Rick Archer: You must have thought, what in the heck is he doing in South Korea?

Karen V. Johnson: Right. I got, I called my ex-husband and I said, he’s alive. I think he’s alive. You got to call the EM-E.  I think he’s in the freezer. Maybe he’s trying to get out. You’ve got to call. I was frantic. I was hysterical. And so, he called, and she very kindly sent one of her techs to look and said, no, I’m sorry, he’s gone. Right. But the beauty of it all for me, was that I now had this true vision and opportunity to see that there really is life after death. Something I really wasn’t sure I believed in; I wasn’t sure where we go. I probably would have said alive is alive, dead is dead before. And now I know, there’s so much more.

Rick Archer: I think that if a person who doesn’t think there’s life after death were to take a year off from whatever they’re doing and watch all the videos and read all the books, it might need to take five years off, about near-death experiences and reincarnation studies and all that stuff, they would have to come around. I don’t see how they couldn’t sort of accept it. But people get cubby holed and they’re busy and they don’t have time to think about these things.

Karen V. Johnson: Right. And so, a lot of us want direct experience. Sometimes you don’t get that kind of direct experience. People that are not maybe meditating or thinking about, as you say, these kinds of spiritual things are really looking for that to come and hit them on the head. I was one of the lucky ones that it came and hit me on the head. And it was, Elizabeth Lesser, I love her book Broken Open. So, I feel like I was broken open, I was cracked open, and suddenly found myself out of the matrix altogether. Nothing in life made any sense. And I’m having this experience with my son. And that spirit experience has continued to this very day. Seeing him, talking to him. He helps me transition souls to the other side. We do a lot of work together, in a shamanic way. And, yeah, it’s an ongoing relationship. So, however you feel, see, know, sense that person, if you feel like, oh, I feel like they’re standing right behind me, oh, I feel like I’m hearing their voice or I’m smelling their smell, or whatever it is. It’s true. They are, they are with you, and they’re trying to get through in this very dense world, physical realm to us. And so, it takes a little, takes a little awareness of subtle things, because they can’t just talk or don’t usually come in full embodied. Maybe I was more open to it. I don’t know why it happened to me that way. Or maybe that was the plan all along, was to crack me open into spiritual awareness in a way that I pretty much had resisted all my adult life.

Rick Archer: Yeah, we’re going to talk about that a lot, I think. I have a good friend named Susanne Marie, who’s been on this program a few times.  Her brother, who was very close to her, died unexpectedly of a heroin overdose, just like your son, hadn’t been using heroin, decided to try it one time, and he was gone. And she’s a very sensitive person and kind of tuned into subtler things.  He was definitely there for quite a while. She was in tune with him, in touch with him. But then she felt like at a certain point, I don’t know how long it was, a certain point, he was kind of moving on, and she couldn’t contact him anymore, and didn’t feel like she needed to because he had to do what he had to do. But I would, I could actually agree with both of what you and she said, because maybe, some people do, we all have different roles to play in different functions to serve, and maybe your son is playing a function in a realm that is still in proximity to ours in a way. And other people have to move on to other realms that are no longer in communication with ours. Anything’s possible.

Karen V. Johnson: Anything’s possible. The Amitābha Buddha is the Buddha in charge of Sukhavati.  It’s that realm between this world and Nirvana. I love that concept of Sukhavati because many people say, well, I don’t know, I don’t think I’m ready for nirvana. I don’t think I’m quite ascended. But I really would like to get off the great wheel of life. Right? So, Sukhavati is that middle place. And we have heaven, and we have so many concepts of where souls can go and how they can heal and learn things. And so, I think it’s beautiful to think that maybe they do have a role. I know my son said to me, the other day he said, mom, quit digging my doorbell. He said, You’re fine, you’re fine. Because it was like, it was his birthday or something, and I was doing my sad mum thing. And he said, I’m in the Jesus pod right now, and this is really important work. And you’re fine. You’re fine. You don’t need me right now. And so, he goes floating off as only a 27-year-old man can do, right? [laughing]

Rick Archer: In other words, you are sort of distracting him. He was busy doing …

Karen V. Johnson: I was distracting him.  I was like Ben, Ben it’s your birthday, come down, I’m sad, and he’s like, he said, Mom, you’re kind of a bummer with this. This whole thing about you always being sad and morbid and morose around these events, you need to change that up. And actually, that sort of has become the topic for my second book is changing it all up.

Rick Archer: Oh cool.  So, when you say you have one of these communications with your son, and you’ve had many, try to make that come to life for us. What would we, if I were having one of those, what would I actually be experiencing? Would I? Would it just be a vague, subtle intuition? Or would it be like a crystal-clear voice in my head or what?

Karen V. Johnson: Everybody’s a little different because there’s different kinds of clairs — clairaudient, clairsentient, different ways. So maybe somebody hears, maybe somebody senses – clairsentient, maybe somebody has an inner knowing, maybe you have a vision. So, I had the visual to begin with, but I didn’t have the audient. I went to a medium, saying he’s right there. he’s standing right there, he’s talking but again, I can’t understand what he’s saying. Right? Some, so everybody’s a little different. And I do believe it takes a little bit of time because we’ve so in our society shut that down, shut down our intuition, our seventh sense. And so, it takes a little while for our brains to make sense of it again, because it’s energy, it’s interpreting energy. And we’re kind of in between, we’re in quantum physics, so we’re kind of dancing in between the atoms and electrons and all those things for consciousness. And so, our brain has to kind of get accustomed to it.  But if you’re open to it, and you say, oh, I just had that sense that the person was here. And the sense might lead later, lead to their voice. And it might later lead to other ways of knowing and sensing and seeing. People get very frustrated because they say, I want to see my son just like you saw yours. And I said, give it time. Allow yourself to dream about that and say out loud, yes, I want that experience. Yes. It’s okay, I’m, and see where it takes you.

Rick Archer: Now, when you were a little girl, you were communicating with subtle beings, as you recounted in your book, there was some fairy who lived in a tree and some Indian who lived in the basement or something. And were those visual and auditory both, or what?

Karen V. Johnson: They were visual and auditory with the one that lived in the tree spirit, that I played with all the time, the fairy, I don’t know what exactly she was, but she’s still a spirit guide, she still comes around. So that was visual and audio, because we played, we had conversations. And the old man that lived in the basement, he scared the heck out of me. And then, later on in life, I said, why just scare the heck out of me as a kid. And he said, well, the fairy was there for you to have a playmate and to have fun, so you wouldn’t be lonely. I was there when you needed courage. And so very different roles that they played.

Rick Archer: It’s funny talking about this stuff, because I always think of the audience when I do interviews.  The BatGap audience in general is pretty open to this stuff. But if you think of yourself talking to a general audience about this kind of thing, like if you went on CNN or something to talk about it, half the people, if not more, would think you’re just kind of nuts. But I’m very much open to the, it’s kind of like reincarnation or many other things. I just feel like it’s a fact of the way the universe works, that there are the subtler levels, and that there are beings of various sorts who reside there and serve various functions, some of them pertinent to our human lives, others doing other things, probably.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. And I think children are especially open, they haven’t had it socialized out of them. Don’t talk to anybody about that. That’s crazy, you’re not seeing anything. Oh, that’s, you’re making this all up. So, children really are sensitive to these energies that are out there and see things that maybe we don’t see.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ve talked to quite a few people who have had those kind of, in fact, a lot of people come on BatGap, who are on BatGap, because they have blossomed into some sort of spiritual awakening, had something like that when they were kids something unusual or deeper. And very often, it got blotted out when they got into their teenage years, and so on. And then later on, there was either some event or just some craving began to arise to discover a deeper meaning to life. And one thing led to the next, seems like a lot of people do have, these people who seem to be destined for some kind of spiritual blossoming later in life, very often have tastes a bit early in life.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, that could be, that could very well be, maybe it’s your brain, your mind. Your soul is a precondition for it, open for it.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, I think people come into this life at varying levels of evolution, spiritual development, sensitivity. And it’s like, people come in with different musical aptitudes or whatever. Mozart came in as a genius. And I was watching some little kid the other day playing Mozart, five years old, he couldn’t even reach to the pedals. You see him? And he’s just going along. He’s not even looking at his fingers. He’s doing this beautiful thing.  So, I don’t know. Obviously, skeptics would have other ways of explaining this, but I really think that we accumulate various things in each lifetime and then very often we bring some of those things into our next one.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. I think so too. And I think it’s always what you’re ready for.

Rick Archer: Yeah.

Karen V. Johnson: In this time, place.

Rick Archer: Yeah, what you’re ready for and maybe what you need

Karen V. Johnson: and what you need. Yeah.

Rick Archer: Which is, I think a theme underlying your whole story. If you hadn’t said this yourself in the book, I would feel insensitive to even suggest it. But you kind of got around to the understanding that there was some kind of agreement with you and your son and some kind of orchestration of the way events were going to unfold. And, in fact, when he was young, he was saying, well, Mom, I’m not going to live a very long life. And you were saying no, don’t be so. And I, so he had an intuition about that. And then, he died. He, in communications with you now, he says he’s, a lot happier where he is, and you’re a lot better off than you were because you’re not working 10 hours a day plus commuting two hours in heavy traffic. So, everything worked out for the best but not in a way you would have signed up for in this life. Had you seen it coming, you would have said no, some other way, please.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, for sure. And that’s how it went. Wow. Someone suggested well, maybe there was a cosmic crazy cosmic Tea Party, and we cooked this scheme up. He was going to die early, and I was going to be spiritual Namal. I’m going to write a book and help people about grief. And I thought, Oh, what a bad soul. Not only am I bad person, I’m a bad soul. Bad me then, bad me now. That’s what Pema talks about, right in some of her tapes. That’s our western mind. We just can’t accept that. Anything like that. That just means okay, bad me then bad me now, bad all the time?

Rick Archer: Yeah. Who is it? Rob Schwartz. You know Rob Schwartz? I interviewed him. And he was sort of a protege of Michael Newton who wrote those books about life between lives. And his whole thing is kind of understanding how we, we kind of plan out the life we’re going to live, probably in collaboration with whatever wise guides help us do such things. But he felt, he feels that any really significant event that happens in life, we signed up for, even the horrific ones. But there’s some kind of cosmic significance to it, which may not be obvious to us now. But it was obvious to us then.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. I think so too. And sometimes we just can’t quite grasp it right away. But the meaning comes later, and the meaning will come if you’re open to it. I think sometimes people get so lost and stuck in their grief that they can’t see anything. And they choose not to. One of the practices in the book that I love is indigenous alchemy. And indigenous alchemy is innate or native desire for transformation. I think that as humans, we have that within us. We have this innate desire for transformation. When we stay stuck in our grief and loss, and we refuse to move on, don’t want to move on really hold that down. We really, it can cause illnesses and sicknesses and a lot of suffering. And so that’s something too that I think we have to get in touch with our own humanity and if you look at Gregg Braden’s recent book, The Wisdom Codes, and there’s one section on grief and loss and the, all of them talk about transformation and moving on in allowing this to go through us. We’re never meant to be stuck in our grief and loss. We’re to use this energy to move to move forward, to learn, to grow, to honor our loved ones.  People tell me, well, that’s all well and good if I have a new life, and I am doing all these great things. But then, doesn’t that make me a bad person? I mean, here I am going to create a new life and my loved one’s gone. And so, we get this, it’s sort of like cognitive dissonance going on where we think, okay, I kind of see what she’s talking about. But then again, what will my loved one think of me? Will they think I don’t love them? One of the eight things that spirits on the other side, wish you knew that, according to Ben, and one of them is as we stay stuck in our grief and loss, our loved ones too stay stuck. We’re kind of holding on to their kite string a little bit. And as we’re able to let go and as we’re able to transform our lives to live better lives, asking those big Questions like, is really the life I want to live? Or is this life something that I’m living that people told me I ought to live or, I chose, but I didn’t really choose, I thought this was the way.  When we start asking the bigger questions and transforming our lives and changing our perspectives, they too are able to move on to the other side and do very cool things.

Rick Archer: Did you ever see that movie with Robin Williams called What Dreams May Come?

Karen V. Johnson: No, I haven’t seen that one.

Rick Archer: Yeah, his wife got killed somehow or died or something. And there was this mutual stuckness. And somehow or other, he went to the other side somehow, rather, and helped her get unstuck. She was in these doldrums in some dark place, you might want to check it out.

Karen V. Johnson: That sounds like a good one.

Rick Archer: There’s also a guy I interviewed a while back named Father Nathan Castle. And his whole thing is helping stuck souls crossover. And generally, it’s people who have died suddenly and violently for some reason. And they’ve gotten stuck in some kind of astral antechamber or something. And he has the particular skill to assist them. And the skill just sort of, he was sort of picked to do this. And because he somehow has the aptitude, but anyway. I think your point is a good one. We’re not benefiting anyone by staying stuck, in fact it sort of goes against the evolutionary current of life that is not going to stop flowing no matter what. We’re just kind of creating a snag in the river that’s creating turbulence.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. And just as in the movie, he was helping his wife become unstuck. There, our loved ones are trying to help us become unstuck here.  We just can’t always hear their voices. And we’ve been enculturated. I mean, there’s no win in grief. If you grieve too long and too hard, then, they say, well, you now have a psychiatric illness in the DSM and you need medication. And if you don’t grieve long enough and hard enough by somebody’s standards, they’re going to say, well, she didn’t really seem to care, she seemed to have gotten over that very easily. So, there’s just no winning. You might as well grieve your own grief in your own way. Keeping in mind that it’s a journey.  It’s a journey, it’s not a one thing. It’s not staying stuck and saying, okay, I’m going to show everybody, including my loved one that passed how much I love them, because I am just going to keep their room as a shrine, and I am not going to move on. I’m going to stay in the house. And I’m going to isolate myself, just to prove something, to show how much I cared. They already know how much you cared.

Rick Archer: And you did that for a while.

Karen V. Johnson: I did that for a while.

Rick Archer: You didn’t make his bed or anything like that? You made an interesting point just then, which is that I suppose that there are cultural attitudes about how long people are supposed to grieve, but it’s, isn’t that kind of really a private matter. And you shouldn’t let anybody tell you what’s right for you in that regard. Although, obviously, if you if you do really get stuck for a long, long periods of time, and you might need help, getting pried out of it.  It’s really for nobody to judge but it might be for someone to help if you can use little help.

Karen V. Johnson: No, no, I didn’t pick up his dirty laundry on the floor. I didn’t do anything. I just wanted to be right there with him. And actually, my daughter ended up clearing his room out for me. I just couldn’t I couldn’t do it. I think a lot of time, people need a little help, but we become very isolated in our grief, because we know that we make people around us uncomfortable. So, we tend to go inside, shut the doors, don’t want to go out don’t want to go anywhere. And just to stop having to want pity. We don’t want to be told, Okay, it’s time now. Let’s go we’re going to go it’s time for you to go to a party. It’s time for you to do, it’s time. It’s time.  What time, whose time?  But we’re not ready. Right? So that’s where the direction my book is. It’s like a precursor to all those things that you might do in time. So instead of jumping right into doing doing doing and trying to get on about life as if nothing happened, what if you sat down in a ceremonial way with a candle and a pipe hand and a piece of paper and a pencil with the intention of looking at 16 Beautiful Buddhist practices, and they resonate in any culture or religion. Things like nonjudgment, non-suffering, and non-attachment. I love the quote by Ram Dass, we go out into the woods, and we look at the trees and some are tall, and some are small, and some are crooked, and some are this and some are that and we don’t judge them. But when it comes to people, that judging mind comes in. And so, sitting in ceremony, sitting in a ceremonial way, we’re actually accessing a different part of the brain instead of in our basic everyday fight or flight kind of physical brain. We’re upleveling to our ceremonial brain to the neocortex. And when you get to the neocortex, and you’re sitting in ceremony, and you’re breathing, and you’re actually communicating with spirit, and you’re writing down all these things, who are you judging? Judging yourself? Yeah, a lot of times we run from that. Judging your sister, your mother, your brother, your aunt, your uncle, things that you would never want to say to anybody. But you can sit with radical honesty and write these things on a piece of paper and burn them is tremendously, tremendously healing. And sometimes you’re judging your loved one. People would say to me things like, he’s in a better place. And finally, I got so annoyed, and I wanted to scream, but I’m not. I’m not in a better place. And I’m really kind of mad at him for being in a better place. That was not the game plan. Right? And so yeah, it’s sitting and looking deeply, deeply, deeply, at places where we can release energy.  That’s sort of the shamanic path is we let go of heavy energy judgments, things like that. And we open our heart to bring in peace and loving-kindness to ourselves, to the world. So, we’re, all these exercises are like breathing, breathing out and breathing in. And we want to do this in preparation, so we can find out where we are stuck. Everybody’s stuck somewhere different. It could be a story you’re telling yourself that’s making you suffer. I know, I had stories, okay, I’d sent him to the wrong school here, the wrong friend, he had the wrong this, I should have done this, I should have done that. We go crazy in our minds, ruminating. Writing them all down. And releasing those stories is tremendously clarifying because most of the time we want to push them out of our mind, try, we spend a lot of our energy pushing, pushing, pushing, trying not to look at this, avoid that, not see this. But if you can sit in a ceremonial way and really look at it all with the intention of releasing, it’s tremendously healing.

Rick Archer: And so, what you’re, what you’ve been alluding to for the past couple of minutes is something you actually advocate, which is these different ceremonial practices that help one get unstuck. And people might have wondered why you mentioned pie pan. That’s because there’s something a stage of the ceremony where you burn something, and you want to catch the ashes?

Karen V. Johnson: Yes, correct. Exactly. So smoke is sort of a way of releasing to spirit. And we can kind of tap into that if we go into a church or a Buddhist temple. And there are places where you can light a candle. People, it’s almost like you have this automatic desire to light the candle. Right? And so smoke and fire is a way, shamans say for rapid transformation. But it’s a way no matter what religious practice, you have it for release, releasing and communicating and talking with spirit in a ceremonial way is such a beautiful precursor to anything we try to do in life before we jump in,

Rick Archer: Yeah. And sometimes people complain about BatGap interviews, that I’m talking about subjects like this, which aren’t the ultimate truth, it’s not the Advaita Vedanta or something. And my answer is that referring to that particular tradition, Vedanta means the end of the Veda, but those who espouse it, don’t say that all the rest of the Veda was useless. And the rest of that whole body of knowledge has, contains all kinds of things that are somewhat similar to the kinds of things you’re talking about, and other traditions do as well. There are all kinds of things that have relative significance and value that help people in various ways and that have evolved through the ages and proven useful. Anyway, yeah, just wanted to make that point.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, there are many paths to the top of the mountain, and many ways to get there. And sometimes people, we have to take the steps we can’t, we can’t quantum leap to the top of the mountain and become totally enlightened. We have to take these steps. This is a way of taking steps for people who are deeply sunk in grief, something that they can understand and grasp without having to completely embrace any tradition.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Good. Let’s go back into your life a little bit more. So you were, we’ve skimmed over some of it, you outlined this in great detail in the book. It was a very well-written book, by the way, I thought it was very interesting. It’s funny because you had all these hang-ups about not being able to write a book. But you wrote a pretty good one. Which one would, which is not too surprising, considering your education was very good. And you’re a very intelligent person who did well throughout your education. So, a piece of pie, I guess, to have written it.

Karen V. Johnson: No, it wasn’t that easy, but I felt like it was guided in so many ways. My journey was guided.

Rick Archer: Do you feel that your whole Law School years, your whole law episode for 30 years was also guided? Or do you wish you could have, do you ever sort of think, oh, if I only did this, I could have shortcutted right off to the spiritual stuff? But do you look at it now as all is well and wisely put?

Karen V. Johnson: Yes. I use a lot of things now in my spiritual life and practice that I gathered those tools in my legal practice, ways of looking at things and putting things together, and analyzing things. I think it was all ultimately helpful. I think it was also ultimately helpful to have regrets and look back and say, wow, that was really hard. Being the sandwich generation, having young children, raising them, all those experiences, wow, I’m so glad I had them all. And so that I can be relatable to people. People can come to me and talk about their grief and grieving in their life issues. And I go, Yeah, I get it, I get that. I might not have had I found a spiritual path early on, maybe I would have been not so compassionate.

Rick Archer: I’ve heard spiritual teachers say that those who don’t go through various trials and tribulations, but then become teachers are very often not very good at helping others who are going through such things. You become a more well-rounded teacher, if you have been through some of these, these challenges yourself and surmounted them, or lived through them. You can relate to the people obviously. I’m going to ask a question here. This came in from Bob Rauth in Whidbey Island, Washington. I was in Vietnam, and then a cop, and I found myself surrounded by death. I’ve had many die in my presence and give me a message for someone. Carrying that message and not knowing who it is for troubles me. I guess he’s saying that they gave him a message as they’re about to die, like, tell Joe, I love him or something. Carrying it and not knowing who it is for troubled me. Not sure exactly what he means by that. But what do you, what would you say to that?

Karen V. Johnson: So that’s another place where we can sit in a ceremonial way with fire going and have your intention that this message, be transmitted to the perfect person, through the quantum field, through consciousness, however it is, so that you can release that, right? Because you’re holding on to it in your heart and you’re feeling like you can’t fulfill it. But what if you could fulfill it in a different way, a different way through consciousness, through the collective consciousness, through whatever you want to call it, and allow that message to go with your great intention. Sometimes I always tell my students, we don’t know how powerful our intention is. Intention, intention, intention. And so, if you sit in a meditative state, and you have this intention for this message, to be given, to be received, it will be received.  It’ll be received, and, just let it go you don’t, you know, love, a thing of beauty about the spiritual practices is you don’t even have to believe, just have to do, just let it go. And it allows you that feeling of completion, and it allows that message to be received and that person will get it wherever they are. In this world or the next.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s an interesting point. And I’ve heard others say that too, that those on the other side are not constrained so much as we are, by time and space, and they can easily show up or tune in when we have an intention from our side. And I think that that will also apply to some of the really high beings, all these people who have experiences with Jesus or Ramana Maharshi, or something, and it’s a lot of people all over the world that are having these experiences. But, I suppose, if those beings are what they’re said to be, then they have a much more omniscient way of functioning than human beings can possibly have and can actually respond or interact with a whole lot of people all over the place, just on the basis of the person having thought something or felt something.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, for sure. That power of prayer, and the prayer in the ascending way, where you pray as though, it’s already done. Thank you for doing this for me. Thank you for sending this message for me, thank you for taking it where it needs to go through spacetime so that you can feel a little lighter. And complete your mission.  We like to complete our missions, especially military people, I get the military mind. He’s got to complete that mission.

Rick Archer: We haven’t totally told the story of your son’s death yet.  You had this career, you were a very busy woman, in a very prestigious position, making good money living in the DC suburbs, and working your ass off. Barely seeing daylight ever, because when you drove to work, it was dark when you drove home it was dark, right? Possibly even in the summer, I don’t know. I’m just summarizing some things really quick. Well, maybe I should let you do it because I read your whole book, so I’m quite familiar with it. But why don’t you tell us some of the highlights of how your life had been going, and what kind of led up to this catastrophic moment of your son dying?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, my son, Ben, even when he was born, he was overdue. He’s like three weeks overdue. And when he was born, it was a big crisis. The doctor he had,

Rick Archer: Let me just tell you one quick thing. I’ve heard over the years, that highly evolved souls often have longer gestation periods. They’re often born late. I don’t know if that’s true. But some traditional sources say that.

Karen V. Johnson: Oh, interesting. I hadn’t heard that. He was late. And they were losing his heartbeat. It had been emergency C section and, all the trauma, trauma, trauma.  I felt later like, he kind of knew what he was in for. And maybe he didn’t want to come in. And he really had a different, many difficulties learning. At one time, the psychologists would say he dances to the beat of a different drummer. And I’m like, what am I supposed to do with that? How am I going to get him to dance to the drummer? I don’t get it. Right. He was very different, had learning difficulties and really was kind of, in his own world, many times. So that was one aspect of him not being fully engaged in this realm. And, of course, his parents were, we were always pushing, pushing, pushing, you got to do this, you got to do this, you got to do better. You got to go here, you got to do that. He wasn’t particularly interested in sports. He wasn’t particularly so push, push, push, and it didn’t really work very well. And then in his teenage years, he wanted to play football, and he had the physical and the doctor noticed there was something odd with his spine. It ended up that he ended up with a hunchback, and possibly it was Marfan disease, but he ended up with surgery.

Rick Archer: So, the hunchback didn’t even develop until he was in his teens.

Karen V. Johnson: In his teens, not that we noticed. Right, after that, then it became very noticeable. And then it was years of finding the right doctor and figuring out what to do and then scheduling this terribly terrifying surgery where they put two 17-inch rods in his back. And it was huge. The surgery took 12 or 14 hours. And so, when he woke up, he stopped breathing on and off. It was just, it was just terrifying, just terrifying. And then he had to go to finish in an alternative school. And so just a lot of trauma and drama and him asking, he wanted to be in the military. I was in the military. His dad was in the military at one point. He wanted to go in the military. Well, of course, they weren’t going to take him with all this back issue. And then he got very angry. He said, well, I’ll go to the, I’ll go via mercenary, I’ll go change, study in France and I’ll be a mercenary. Well, that’s not going to go so well either because of the physical issue.  He was just very angry, angry, angry and then began drinking a lot and hanging out with people and really lost himself. Really was lost would, refused to go to college, really brilliant guy. Just really angry, brilliant, angry, angry, brilliant guy. And then he kind of found the group Primerica, began to learn about finance and selling life insurance and these kinds of things that I was always hoping he might find a girlfriend; he would get this good job and things would settle for him. We’re always hoping, hoping, hoping and, and I think a lot of people that have or living with children who are addicts, or any of that, as parents, we take on this tremendous burden, hoping it every moment, living in fear, hoping that something good will happen, something will be life changing, and they won’t be an addict anymore.  They won’t be angry anymore. They won’t be frustrated anymore that something, a miracle will happen. And so, Ben had, Primerica hadn’t really worked out. We didn’t have enough, yeah, the insurance didn’t really work out very well. He couldn’t make a lot of money at it. We didn’t have enough contacts of people for him. And so, he decided he was going to quit that and then go try to go to college. And he did that. And I knew he was struggling, but I was going to go off in this vacation. And I thought, okay, I’ll talk to him after I get back. We’re going to have this big conversation, and I’m going to ask all the right questions and see where he is and what we can do. And of course, that never happened. While I was on vacation, I get a call. I hadn’t felt very well that afternoon, I just felt really ill, and I got a call and the person hung up. I called back that number. I said, who is this? And they said, Detective so and so. And I said, What’s the matter? Well, it’s your son. What happened? Is he in an accident?  I thought maybe he got a DWI, or something like that. He’s dead. He’s like, where are you? I’m in Korea. Oh, okay. Well, they didn’t want to tell me over the phone. So. And then of course, night is day, day is night, it took me 12 hours to get a flight home and then another 12 hours on the plane. And so, it was just a long, long period of time of trauma and sadness and despair and hopelessness and then, but like I said, he came to me at the airport while I was waiting for my flight home. He appeared in front of me, and that was my first inkling like, oh my gosh, so he’s not alive physically, but there’s some part of him that still around.

Rick Archer: When you were a little girl, you had perceptions like that of fairies and stuff. Had you had any since you were a little girl, or was this your first one since then?

Karen V. Johnson: I think that was really the first one. I mean, I would definitely, if I went to a home or something, and I would just feel like, oh, there’s some bad spirits here. And I would just leave. Oh, there’s bad energy here. I don’t like this. I don’t know. I would say bad energy, but I feel it. Oh, there must be, there must be a ghost here. I might have said right. But I didn’t see, sense, know, hear, see it in the sense that I might have before.

Rick Archer: Okay. Yeah, I was just curious. This is in a way, it was like the reintroduction of interaction with some subtler reality, that started the minute your son died?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. Totally wasn’t. I think it was just the death was so shocking. And it was so traumatic. And I think, I was just awakened to these other realms again.  Whatever, I had shut down, whatever thing I had closed off, burst open. And suddenly there I am able to see, sense, hear, know, over time, especially.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So what are some other things along those lines that, you flew home? And obviously, you were in a very bad state very, very grief-stricken and unhappy, but as you were going through that, was there kind of a continuing stream of these unusual experiences happening?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, I could feel him around me, like I could.  It felt like he was fluttering like fluttering fluttering fluttering around me. Like, he was frantic. I was frantic. I was in really bad shape and, I ended up actually going to a medium because I wanted to hear what he was saying, because I felt him around me, but I couldn’t hear anything. And so that was sort of a beginning for me to get involved in more and more spiritual things. Kabbalah and spiritual mediumship, all sorts of things because I really wanted to talk to him. I wasn’t so interested in anything else but as I opened up to seeing, sensing, hearing him, then there came a point when I could see, sense, hear other spirits. One time, I remember waking up in my bedroom, and there were a whole lot of spirits around my bed. And I remember sitting up and going, No, no, no, everybody out, everybody out of my room.

Rick Archer: Party time.

Karen V. Johnson: Party time.  They all want to talk, they want to relate their story, or they want to get have messages and all that so, and I was shocked, they left. And then I could see spirits in the hallway and different places. I’m like, Okay, everybody out of my house, everybody on my house. This is before I had any shamanic training, I had no idea how to deal with this or help these people. These spirits, but I was led to exactly the right person, an evolutionary astrologer.

Rick Archer: As I recall when you told that story in the book, Ben was somehow involved, like he had brought a group of his friends there to see if mom could help them or something.

Karen V. Johnson: Right. Right. Right. It was sort of a group of young men who, young men and women that had passed over. I was thinking about the story you were telling about the priest. And the same thing I often help young people or older people that have suicide.  Suicides often get stuck, because our heads are so filled with this idea that it’s a sin, and you’re going to go to hell, so they cross over and they go, oh, I don’t want to go anywhere. I’m going to stay right here. Because I’m afraid I’m going to go somewhere bad. This is where Ben and I can kind of work together. And he’s like, okay, man, don’t worry about it. Come with me. I’ll show you the ropes. And it’s only it’s only really cool stuff over here.  We kind of work together to help transition souls.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Have you gotten, I mean, I have the feeling that there are all kinds of specialists on the other side, who are doing different things? Some are guardian angels, maybe. And some are people who usher people who have just died, to where they’re supposed to go. And some perhaps are in the place that they’re going to, and they serve there as teachers who are sort of helping to instruct people in what they need to learn. And there are probably dozens, hundreds of different jobs, so to speak. And all these different levels of creation, and there are different levels, at least according to the Indian tradition. There are 14 of them, 14 Lokas, seven higher, seven lower, but I just have the feeling that the universe is, it’s not just big. In our dimension, it’s big in terms of multi dimensions. And there’s just hosts of beings serving all kinds of functions that we can’t even possibly imagine.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, beautiful beings. So yeah, they talk about psychopomps, that’s a name for some of the spirits that work to help transition souls and they’re in between, and that seems to be their function. They seem to have that role of helping spirits to transition. And then there are the archangels, and then the guides and spirits and your soul pod and your celestial parents and parents that have been with you through every incarnation. Can you imagine that, that love you unconditionally, and they help you, help guide your incarnations and your karma?

Rick Archer: Are you saying you have the same parents in every incarnation? Or are there?

Karen V. Johnson: Celestial parents.

Rick Archer: Celestial, yeah, beings on the other side.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. So, there’s a lot going on the other side, there’s a lot of beings, there’s a lot happening. And it’s fun to visit there. It’s fun for me, I like being there. And I’ve sort of developed this ability to go there. I just kind of sort of leave this plane and I can enter that dimension and work with spirits there and work with spirits that have just recently passed that need some help. They are a little bit stuck.

Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s interesting. I imagine that being open to these other realities has not in any way depreciated your ability to function in this level of reality. It’s probably just broadened it out and made you more sort of multi-faceted multi-talented, wouldn’t you say?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. You know that equation E equals MC squared, right? E = mc2.  So, shamans kind of dance on the equal sign. We’re constantly going between the world of matter and energy, matter and energy. It becomes, it’s difficult in the beginning, I think people have a tough time. They say I don’t want to come back down to earth, right? Or I want to stay there. And then after a while, you realize it’s all perfect. It’s all one spot. Here, there, everywhere. Time space, time is a pretzel, it loops around. Quantum physics has confirmed so much of this. And we’re just, we’re going in and out of different dimensions. Someone said 3000 times a day, we just don’t know it. We think we’re right here all the time, right here. But we’re not, we’re there, we’re somewhere else. We’re in a past life. We’re in a former life. We’re in this realm. We’re in another realm. And so, I think after a while, if you’re open to it, and you open up to that, you just kind of accept that that’s sort of your own different reality.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Some say that when we sleep at night and dream, we travel a lot.

Karen V. Johnson: Absolutely. Yeah, the ancient shamans, ancient people of all time knew that dream time was really special, that we’re able to. We’re able to let go.  Our ego a lot of times keeps us down, it keeps us safe, right. So don’t do this. Don’t do that. Stay here, stay in our little fear box here. And every time we get close to the edges, OOO it’s unsafe, unsafe, don’t do it. Don’t do it, right? Then we go beyond the edges, and we go beyond the edges. And once we go beyond the edges, we kind of transcend fear. And we transcend that egoic self that is so fearful and small. And become I think what we’re truly meant to be, sort of multi-dimensional beings who have access to different realms at different times, when needed, as needed.

Rick Archer: A nice set of questions came in from Kristen in Chicago. Three different questions. Here we go. Would you say that subtle phenomena are inherently any more valuable or trustworthy than gross phenomena?

Karen V. Johnson: Wow, subtle phenomena as opposed to gross phenomena? I don’t know.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of what we were just talking about here.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, right. Yes, subtle phenomena, I think are, I think they maybe more reliable, maybe even I’m not sure how she would define those terms, gross phenomena versus subtle phenomenon. But I think sometimes we want to look for the big ones, we will look for big confirmations. But sometimes the information we get is like a whisper. It’s like, it’s a moment, it’s not a video. Once we can begin to rely on those subtle, subtle, subtle phenomena, our world expands tremendously, because it’s our mind, our mind is trying to interpret energy, interpret whatever’s around us. And so sometimes it doesn’t interpret it, it only gets a little glimpse, it only gets a little whisper, that as we tune in and we accept those glimpses and whispers, our world expands, our knowledge expands.

Rick Archer: One thing that her question brings to my mind is that I think as we become more attuned to subtle phenomena, at the same time, we have to counterbalance that with being grounded and integrated, and also perhaps developing critical thinking skills. Because like, you mentioned, in your book, you went to some kind of psychic fair someplace. And I think if I were to go to a thing like that, and walk around, I would think, Alright, this is all very interesting, but a lot of these people are really kooky and really out there and have overactive imaginations. And, in fact, I mean, when, the pandemic struck, and the QAnon phenomena came, a large percentage of people who had a spiritual orientation dove right into that, I had friends, I have friends in Sedona who said that, perhaps three quarters of the people they knew, the spiritual types in Sedona, were into QAnon and had swung way to the right politically, which is part of the QAnon deal. So, my feeling like these people, perhaps had very active, imaginary lives in the spiritual sense, but hadn’t really grounded it in practicality and hadn’t developed critical thinking skills and discernment, which I think is really important on the spiritual path.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah.  We often talk about, the really the spiritual ones, excuse me, the spiritual ones who have live in these fantastic cities in the clouds and live in their car. They can’t bring it down to reality. And so QAnon gave people a reality, something to believe in, something to tune into, a community to be part of, I think we all want to be part of a community and that was sort of the perfect storm with the financial issues and the pandemic, all of that. People were isolated and alone and looking for some community. So, there they were promising all the answers. Here’s the answers. We can be a community and we’re all together and we believe this stuff. And yeah, that really can happen when people become very isolated. And isolation leads to being ungrounded, that you’re talking about, There’s a term conspirituality. I don’t know if you’ve heard that.  I haven’t. But that’s a good one.

Rick Archer: I’ve actually, there’s a podcast by that name, and I’ve interviewed the guys who do that podcast.  But it’s all about how the spiritual community got really into conspiracy theories and antivax and the whole deal. All right. And I always get negative feedback when I say these things because some of the people listening to this actually think that way.  I’m sorry, that is what it is. All right. Here’s another question from Kristin. Does spiritual awakening require sensitivity to the subtle and astral realms?

Karen V. Johnson: Well, I don’t know. All I know is my experience. My experience was, yes, I had some experiences early on, but I was very closed down, and it took a big event to awaken me. So did I have some

Rick Archer: Kind of broke you open.

Karen V. Johnson: Right. So maybe I had some sensitivities that were kind of lingering from the past, but at the same time, they were very closed down. I think it’s entirely possible for people to go from zero to 120. Right, I think they can be like nowhere and have a spiritual awakening. I don’t think it always requires years and years of study and years and years of practice and all those things, sometimes people just kind of quantum leap into a practice.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I wouldn’t say that spiritual awakening requires sensitivity to subtle and astral realms, but it may very well open that up.  It may very well precipitate such sensitivity,

Karen V. Johnson: It certainly wouldn’t hurt to be open to it.  Anything you’re open to make is a is a lot more possible and probable than things you’re not.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well also another point is that some people are very awake spiritually, but they just don’t have a lot of, sort of, astral perception, celestial perception, that kind of thing, whether by choice or whether they just happened to be wired that way. And I don’t know that that’s necessarily an indicator of any lack of development, it’s just could perhaps be an aptitude that may or may not get developed.

Karen V. Johnson: It could be the aptitude or could be not having access to the right teacher.

Rick Archer: Could be. Could be.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, I think a good guru is so important that can expose you to things and thoughts and ways of viewing the world that you might not come up with, you might not come across on your own research or might not come across on your own. I think I certainly the four winds and shamanism opened up in a big way. I had a lot to hang on to, a lot conceptually, and a lot of practices that I could tune into and develop my spiritual perceptions and growth.

Rick Archer: Yeah, but not all gurus. I mean, you were in a shamanic tradition, which is really into this subtle perception stuff. But not all gurus would want to teach that to their students.  Some would say that that’s a distraction or not really essential. And they’ll keep your eye on the goal. Don’t get hung up with this stuff.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. I think you’ve got to, like I said, there’s many paths to the top of the mountain. You got to find, walk your own path.

Rick Archer: Find what’s right for you.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah.

Rick Archer: Okay, third question from Kristin. When you say that, on some level you chose to have this experience, and presumably she means the whole experience with Ben, who exactly is this you that did the choosing?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, that’s such a great question. Is this my, I call it the observer within? Is this my soul being? Is it my consciousness? I don’t know.

Rick Archer: My higher self?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, my higher self. Is that where this happened? You’ve got some great cosmic tea party where we sat down and then hammered this out with our soul pod and everything. I don’t know. But yeah, so it’s some part of us that’s eternal. And I do believe there is some part of us, some subtle part of us that is eternal. And that part is doing all kinds of things in between lives and not everybody believes in reincarnation, and that’s okay, too. And maybe there isn’t. Maybe it’s not reincarnation. Maybe we incarnate, reincarnate many times in this lifetime. I feel like I’ve had, lived several lives in this time.

Rick Archer: That’s true. You’ve worn many hats.

Karen V. Johnson: I’ve worn many hats. So maybe that’s it. They say hell is here on earth or heaven is here on Earth. And maybe that’s it. And so, when you go over, your higher self is off in other realms doing other things and not Earthbound.

Rick Archer: Some say that three quarters or so of who we are, of our soul, whatever you want to call it, isn’t in this body. It’s still even now on some higher level. And then in fact, it could incarnate simultaneously in a couple of different bodies, portions of it. It’s all fun to play with. I mean,

Karen V. Johnson: It’s all fascinating.

Rick Archer: Yeah, I don’t know for sure about any of this stuff.

Karen V. Johnson: But I really, I mean, I’m not afraid of death anymore. That’s the big thing. I’m not afraid of death anymore. And I can’t wait to find the answers to these questions. Because I have lots of questions. I’m going to be asking a lot of questions on the other side and looking around and saying, oh, so that’s how it all worked. Oh, okay.

Rick Archer: Like Disneyland, like a kid in Disneyland feels.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. Oh, I did that? Wow! Okay.

Rick Archer: Back to the point about the Texas School shooting. This is from Mohan Rao in Cookeville. Tennessee, he’s asking, I don’t know what, how can you explain to a parent from last week’s Texas school shooting that their son or daughter chose death for the purpose of teaching someone a lesson?

Karen V. Johnson: You can’t.

Rick Archer: I don’t think I would,

Karen V. Johnson: I wouldn’t even try it. This is something they may come to in, later, they may find some way to find meaning in their child’s death that is not apparent right now. And so, isn’t that the wisdom of everything?  It’s not always apparent at the moment, but in time, things are revealed to us in a way that we can understand and comprehend hopefully and internalize.

Rick Archer: Yeah, and if not during life, then again, like you say, after we cross over.  Let’s say some of those parents just grieve their entire life without any resolution or relief. And then when they pass, I’ll be darned. Here’s my child, here to greet me or something like that.

Karen V. Johnson: Right. For sure, they’ll be there. And for sure, they’re there now, and for sure it’s all happening at the same time, and it’s all entangled.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I have some really good friends who are very skeptical. I interviewed one of them, Tom Christofi, I can just imagine him listening to this conversation, feeling like, all this just imaginative, wishful thinking, why do people do this? What do they get out of this? I sometimes I actually get into extended conversations with him and some other friends who are like that, and it always fascinates me about why we believe what we believe. And the way I’ve come to terms of it, is that I regard beliefs as hypotheses. And like a lot of things you and I are talking about today, I don’t feel like I’ll be damned if I don’t believe them or saved if I do believe them, I feel like, these are ways of looking at the world that seem to make a lot of sense to me, and there seems to be a lot of evidence for them. But can I know, with absolute certainty that it’s this way? No, but it’s like a scientist doesn’t know anything with absolute certainty. He just keeps building evidence, and maybe, and he’s open to the possibility that at some point, he’ll have to revise his hypothesis because the evidence doesn’t support it.

Karen V. Johnson: Right.  I think it’s just a lot of it is experiential, how do we experience the world? I’ve certainly experienced it many different ways over my lifetime. And so, I’m here at this point, because of my recent experiences over the last seven or eight years. And I look at Anita Moorjani, and life after death and near-death experiences. Wow, not everybody believes that either. They just think, oh, that’s just the chemical function of the brain shutting down and blah, blah, blah. And there’s all kinds of science for believing that way. And, and yet, there’s science in, experience that shows that to be very different and our brains to be very different.

Rick Archer: I mean, in terms of near-death experiences, which often involve out of body experiences, people have all kinds of things that are impossible to explain.  They’re in a coma, they’re under anesthesia, and yet they’re perceiving things down the hall or up on the roof or, or whatever that are later verify that they have no way of knowing, so how can anyone explain that other than that we must have the ability to function outside the range of our physical body somehow.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. I look at Dr. Joe Dispenza healing his back, right through visualization and meditation. There are people that really work in those ways too for healing. And I don’t know how it all works, but it does seem to work. It does seem to have a, look at Lynn McTaggart, the experiments with power of eight healing groups, the intentionality of it through time and space. And people seem to have miraculous recoveries with the group of eight people meditating for their wellness. There’s a study that talks about, gosh, a scientific study that was done with a control group that was prayed for and many other control that wasn’t prayed for, you probably know that study. Maybe you’ve heard of it. And so, the beauty with the group that was prayed for had better results. But the twist on it was, the group that was prayed for had been released from the hospital 10 years earlier. And the same thing for the group that hadn’t been prayed for. It just talks about how we affect the past, through our intention and our prayers, as well as not just the future, but the past as well. This entanglement of the present, past and future is being supported by quantum physics. There is some good science for much of this.

Rick Archer: Yeah, time is very malleable and very much dependent upon the velocity of the observer.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, for sure. Science, the way we knew science, has been changing radically. I mean, the scientific papers come out on a weekly basis. I mean, it’s just amazing. The new science and how science is observing the world and how the world works. What we knew about things 10 years ago, is so different than what they’re observing and discovering now. It’s fascinating. It’s really, truly fascinating how it supports really the ancients and the ancient scrolls and the ancient texts, and so many, so much of the ancients that knew things. They knew them, but they didn’t have the science. And so, for me, with my logical mind, I like having the science I like being able to go, oh, look at that scientific experiment, proving that’s how it works. It really does work. It works with the quantum field. And so yeah.

Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s good. I really enjoy the science spirituality interface, also. And I’ve interviewed a lot of people in that realm like Dean Radin, and others. David Lorimer. I’ve got Bernard Carr coming up here in August.  He was a student of Stephen Hawking. He’s the president of the scientific and medical network over in England, which has a very active group that has speakers all the time on the kinds of topics you and I are talking about, but they’re really trying to sort of integrate science and spirituality.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, that’s what they call that metaphysics. I think.

Rick Archer: Yeah, you could say that.

Karen V. Johnson: Metaphysics, yeah. I personally like that because it made it easier for me to accept this big change in my perception in my life after my son passed. Otherwise, I think I would have really thought I had just cracked up. Right? I had a context, I had a scientific context and I had experience and so I was okay, I could be okay with it, I can have the experiences I was having, and say, okay, a lot of this is being supported by science. And I’m just working in the quantum field and whatever the field is, however you see it, if you see it as all these dimensions, the 17 dimensions, the 10 dimensions, all that. However you see it, and it’s so interesting, I love talking to everybody that has to deal with religious scholars of any kind because they kind of entrain. If you look, Christians see a world in the same way, and they see the cosmology in the same way and the Indians see it in one way. It’s interesting, the Buddhists see it in one way because they kind of entrain together. Their minds entrain together, and they build and they build and they build on what they have and it’s fantastic to see the differences and the similarities of people who’ve spent their lives looking at the metaphysical and the spiritual.

Rick Archer: Yeah, there are differences and there are commonalities like you say, perennial philosophy. I mean, there are certain themes which show up in cultures all over the world, including cultures that had no way of communicating with each other. So, which suggests that there is some universal truth that we all tap into, even though we might express it differently, according to the culture that we’re living in.

Karen V. Johnson: For sure, absolutely. Yeah.

Rick Archer: We haven’t talked too much about your whole shamanic training yet. I mean, after you kind of eventually got your wheels turning again and quit your job and sold your house and all this stuff. You had the freedom and the finances to travel the world. And you did just that. You were in Africa, India, and South America, Easter Island, all over the place.

Karen V. Johnson: Bangladesh, John of God.

Rick Archer: Oh, yeah, there’s a whole John of God Chapter.  Fortunately, also a little sub note about that, because that kind of went sour. But there were also like, some things which you pursued, like the Lakota tradition, which ended up being a good thing, but not your thing. You’re so, you particularly, your main thing, was this study with Alberto, wasn’t it?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. Alberto Villoldo.

Rick Archer: Yeah, and what you do now with people, for people, is it mainly a reflection of the training you received with him?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, it’s a big reflection, he had a big impact on my life. And he’s been a really positive mentor and trained me especially with him. But, as with anything else, we all have our individual interpretations to bring to things. Things come to me in a way, working with people on the other side, that may not be how other shamans would do it. We all have, the Indian shamans have a beautiful philosophy for this, that we’re always adding to the medicine, we’re always adding to the collective into the medicine. And our own medicine comes in, specifically for us and how we work in this in these realms.

Rick Archer: Yeah. So how do you work? I mean, what do you do with this with people? Do you have retreats with, in person? Do you do zoom calls? Do you do one on ones? I mean, if a person were to sort of try to work with you, what would they do?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, visit my website, Karen johnson.net. And you’ll see I have individual consultations, and we do zoom for about an hour and 15-minute sessions. I do a lot of different things, working with spirits of deceased relatives, despachos, which are really prayer bundles. I help souls transition to the other side.  Souls that are stuck, I can go look and see if you’re worried about your relative and wanting to know where they are and if they’re okay, I can track that for you. And I have classes coming up. I do, it’s a five-week coming up. It begins July 10. It’s a five-week class based on the practices in the book. And we work in community, I’ve had this class about three or four times now. And it’s amazing how much healing comes through by people working in community. The first class is basically, this is what we’re going to do. And then the second class is working through the four practices of the south direction of the medicine wheel. There’s four directions in the Medicine Wheel, south, west, north and east and four practices related to each direction.

Rick Archer: And what is the medicine wheel?

Karen V. Johnson: The medicine wheel is this really ancient idea.  It’s a circle, and in the circle, it’s an energetic circle represented by archetypal animals, and it has healing practices associated with each direction. And so, the healing practices that I use are based on the Andean of Peru. We begin in the south direction of the medicine wheel and it’s the archetypal energy. There is great serpent, and we want to shed our past the way serpent sheds her skin. And then we go to the west direction represented by Jaguar. Jaguar medicine is dealing with the death within us. So many, many of us are so afraid of death and dying. We want to deal with the death within and heal the death that lives within us. And then we go to hummingbird medicine.  Hummingbird medicine has to do with finding our soul’s journey. And drinking from the sweetest nectar of life and making that souls journey back and forth. These little hummingbirds go back and forth from Canada to Brazil. With really, they’re really tiny, they don’t have any food, they just trust, and they go. It’s a metaphor

Rick Archer: Yeah, some of them all the way from South America to Texas across the Gulf of Mexico and it’s unbelievable.

Karen V. Johnson: It’s unbelievable. And so that’s a metaphor for our journey with life. Sometimes we just have to go on, embark on that beautiful journey. And then Eagle medicine is rising above everything, getting the big picture, the eagle eye, seeing how everything relates to everything else. We have practices associated with each one. Illumination.  I love the medicine because it’s, I think it was Aristotle, I’ll probably get this wrong, said the universe abhors a vacuum. And so, in shamanic medicine, we take out the heavy energies and replace it but with divine light. We’re always balancing, balancing, balancing, and extracting, a lot of times we pick up people gone to bars and gone to concerts and maybe had a few wild times in their youth. And sometimes we become open to energies and entities that are not so good. And they kind of take residence in us and getting rid of those is, can be very, very healing. And then soul retrieval, wow, in the north direction. When we have really traumatic experiences that happened to us, a part of us flees, and it’s the healed parts, most of us are walking around sort of like Swiss cheese, we have pieces of us missing and to retrieve those parts and become whole again is very healing.

Rick Archer: That reminds me of some of the Carlos Castaneda stuff. I remember Don Juan saying that people would have holes in their luminosity,

Karen V. Johnson: Yes, holes in their luminosity, that’s the way I see it.  Bringing those parts back, so we would do other healing practices first, because you have to prepare the field to, even for the soul to even want to come back.  We do a lot of work on people’s fields and energies, and then the great death rites and the great death spiral and helping souls to crossover.

Rick Archer: Sounds like there’s a lot of stuff.

Karen V. Johnson: It’s a lot of stuff.  It kept my mind very busy and very happily consumed with, with things. And then by the time I got to the east direction, and they were talking about helping spirits to cross over and helping souls to transition, and helping spirits that are stuck places, I’m like, oh my gosh, that’s what I’ve been waiting for. That’s what I see. I see these spirits, and I see that they need help. Oh, now I can help them.

Rick Archer: So, do you help them, and do you help other people? Is this all ceremonial stuff? Or? And is it all stuff that they do with you? Or is it stuff they learn and then do on their own or what?

Karen V. Johnson: So, it’s all done in sacred space.

Rick Archer: Meaning what?

Karen V. Johnson: Meaning I open the four directions, I call in the energies of the south, west north, east. Pachamama Mother Earth, Gaia in spirit,

Rick Archer: You’re doing this on a zoom call or something?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, we open sacred space, and I open it for the person. And then I opened my … so, the eighth chakra that you see above the Christ, and the Buddha, we all have that. And it’s an energy that we can tap in and open around us. And I can open it and I can put it over you, for example,

Rick Archer: Thanks, I can use it.

Karen V. Johnson: A little sacred space there. We work within the sacred space. And then, I can do a little journeying, chanting, I use medicine stones, I have a mesa, which is an altar that has 13 stones in it. And the stones represent my own healing journey on each direction. I put a stone on the chakra. And the idea is, it’s an alchemical process between the person’s breath and the medicine stone. And I’m bringing their luminous energy field so I can bring your luminous energy field, I can call it into me and bring it down in front of me. And I can work on your luminous energy field. And I can, put a Cuya there and many times people.

Rick Archer: A what?

Karen V. Johnson: A Cuya. It’s a name for my medicine stone.  We begin this process with the person breathing, and that alchemical process with the medicine stone, transforming heavy energy. It’s not like I can tap you on the head and erase a memory. But we can take away some of the heaviness around it, some of the things some of the trauma, and the fear and the pain we can release some of that. Some of the old stories, we carry these stories. I, this happened to me this really bad thing. And carry it for the rest of your life. Right? What if you could release some of that so that that story is a story, but it doesn’t affect your decision making. It doesn’t disrupt your daily life. We want to prevent that bleed through from the past into the present. So that’s how short shamans work in all those dimensions, the past the present, the future.

Rick Archer:

Are most of the things, things that Shamans in that tradition have been doing for hundreds of years?

Karen V. Johnson:

Yeah. Alberto Villoldo kind of translated things, and made them, it’s called Neo shamanism. And he put in aspects of North American shamans and aspects of Buddhism. It’s really a comprehensive sort of conglomerate of practices.

Rick Archer: How long have you been actually practicing it as a, in an instructive role now or teacher role?

Karen V. Johnson: Oh, gosh, I’ve been teaching since 2017.

Rick Archer: Okay. Yeah, five years,

Karen V. Johnson: About five years.  Hard to believe.

Rick Archer: You were starting in 2014. So, it was like a three-year Crash Course.

Karen V. Johnson: Crash Course I was in it. I was in, I was deep. When I was traveling the world, I had left my job, sold my house, all my art, all my furniture, everything was gone, given away, whatever. And I just had two suitcases and a carry on for two and a half years. And I really, I just couldn’t comprehend grief and death. Why do we have to have death? Why do people die? How can this happen? How can this horrible thing happen? And I just couldn’t grasp it. And I was looking for answers from spiritual teachers.  What is this about? How are we supposed to deal with grief? It’s impossible. We can’t. How can you ever get over it? How can you ever recover? What am I supposed to do? And so that was my journey to try to get answers to those kinds of questions.

Rick Archer: So how many people have you had involved in courses if you add them all up?

Karen V. Johnson: Oh, gosh, probably now,

Rick Archer: Hey, a puppy dog. It’s Murphy. I’ve heard about Murphy

Karen V. Johnson: He needed to be… he likes to be part of everything. Probably 1000s now.

Rick Archer: Wow. That’s impressive.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah.

Rick Archer: And can you give us some examples of changes that people have undergone? Through their involvement?

Karen V. Johnson: Oh, gosh, so many things, life changing things, people, become. The one young man that I teach with now, he’s not that young, but he’s young compared to me. But so, he was a super producer, technical person in soccer, big into sports and sports broadcasting. Right. But he always knew something was missing, something was, why am I unhappy? Why am I standing in these stadiums feeling lonely and miserable? And then he found this path. And it changed his life. Now he’s teaching and helping other people and having sessions, big life changes. I mean, sometimes the changes are looking at your own life and saying, is this my life? Or is it somebody else’s life that I’m living?  Did I choose this? Is this making me happy? Is this what I want? Or isn’t it? It’s really asking the big questions so that you have the option of changing things or setting change in motion. I always say we don’t have to jump off the cliff. Right? Sometimes we just need a glide path. But at least you’re asking the right questions. Am I doing this because my family expects me to? Living here because my family’s, is this my job? Would I even care about it? Is there a way out? Can I do something different? If I were going to do something different, what would I do? And that was a question that I asked myself, what would I do? And I got back in touch with my younger self that wanted to be an archaeologist and travel the world. And my parents told me, no, it’s not safe. It’s not safe. I was born in the 50s. And so, I guess, at that age, even in the 70s, when I went off to Afghanistan, as a Fulbright Scholar, there was no internet. There was no, it was difficult to make international phone calls, there was no text and cell phones or any of that. It was a whole different world, and you could be really isolated, and it could be unsafe, so I can see their concern with their only child, their little darling. I kind of did what I was expected. I went back to school, and I got a couple master’s degrees and then I got a law degree and then I just was a lawyer for 30 years and I did that. And I said, okay, I’m going to have the family and I’m going to have the children and I’m going to work this and I’m going to do everything that I can to be a good everything. Good Mom. Good Wife. Good worker. Good, good, good. And yet there were times when I felt like the Invisible Woman. I remember one time where I thought, what if I? What if I just don’t say anything for a day, would anybody notice? Nope, nobody noticed. What if I died? I had blonde hair. What if I dyed my blonde hair red? It took three weeks for my husband to even notice. And I thought I’m just invisible. I’ve become completely invisible. And then thinking, what is that about? I just let everything go that was important to me and became whatever anybody else needed, the sandwich generation. We’ve got our parents and their needs, and we’ve got children and their needs, and we got our husbands and spouses and mortgages and cars. It’s a lot. And a lot of us are trapped in that. I always say I don’t remember my 40s. Ten years went by, I lost it. I don’t remember what I did, where I went. I don’t remember anything except being overwhelmed and exhausted.

Rick Archer: Well, I’m glad you got out of it.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, me too. These years. I mean, that was not an easy way to get there. I mean, I would never choose losing Ben in that way. But he really did lead me to a very different life. So, I’m no longer in the second worst traffic of the country. I’m not practicing law. I live in a small town in upstate New York. And I write books and see clients and I love it.

Rick Archer: I think it was Deepak Chopra who said we’re human beings we’re not human doings. But you were a human doing there for a while.

Karen V. Johnson: A human doing Yeah. Doing. That’s such an interesting practice, non-doing, the practice of non-doing because we became, because most of us become super busy to avoid uncomfortable emotions. An uncomfortable emotion comes up you go oh, well, I really need to clean the oven. Right? I need to clean the car. I need to get gas. I need to go grocery shopping. I need without a lull.  We can fill up entire weekends with doing doing doing busy, busy, busy. And then really avoid like the plague any sitting, never mind any meditation that might have uncomfortable feelings and emotions arise. We got this superhighway that’s going on between our gut brain and the brain in our head, right? We’ve got this information superhighway going, going going. And, closing Shenpa right? So, we have Shenpa, we have all these things going on, beginning kind of in the gut that, preverbal sort of, oh, oh, I don’t want to think about that. Oh, right. And so, we get up to the brain, the brain says, oh, do something, do something, do something. Let’s go, let’s get busy. Let’s get going. Right? It’s really hard to sit, sit with that, sit with those uncomfortable emotions and not flee and not run and not be busy.

Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s hard to break the habit. I have a friend who I’m encouraging to practice meditation regularly. And her mind is so habituated to being active, that she finds it very difficult to just sit, would rather be doing something. And, maybe, it’s not, I kind of feel that maybe it’s just making some kind of abrupt transition where you’re just sitting for an hour or twice a day or some such is impossible for most people and not even desirable or advisable. We have to sort of start where we are and do what we can from there. But we can always do something, I think. You don’t want to just sort of be on the, on the, those rat wheels that they run around…

Karen V. Johnson: Right, the hamster wheel

Rick Archer: You don’t want to do that till the day you die. And you don’t necessarily want to have some tragedy or disease or accident or something jar you out of that rat race? It’s better if you can send out take steps before. There’s a verse from the yoga, what is it?  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. He says, avert the danger which has not yet come.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, well, what I like to suggest for people like that, especially for women. There’s a beautiful book by Perdita Finn. It’s called The Way of the Rose. And it really talks about beads and chanting and how women use their hands. Right? The grandmothers would pray with beads. And in the book, she says, I don’t want to be the Dalai Lama. I want to be my grandmother. And sometimes chanting, praying with beads, saying a Mantra over and over. That’s a doorway into quieting the mind. That’s what works for me. I can’t just sit down and go OMMM, I’m in this other. I can’t. I just need that doorway. The Gayatri Mantra, 108 times of saying the Gayatri Mantra, I’m in a different place, I’m in a different space time. I think sometimes people need that, that idea of sitting on a cushion, and just following your breath and not your thoughts and worrying about, it’s just, it’s too much. It’s too hard. Right. Maybe it was meant for men. That’s her philosophy is this idea that meditation really came from the difference between men’s roles and women, men had to sit as hunters, quietly and silently in the forest for great periods of time, where women were more hunter gatherers. They’re busy, and so they do things in a different way. And maybe we’re, our brains are a little different.

Rick Archer: Could be. I know, plenty of women who are good meditators, but men or women, it’s also a tradition thing to do japa with beads, and 108 beads or whatever, and you’re doing a Mantra or whatever. But you’re not just, there’s some external activity of counting on the mala. Or some people have these little rings that have these little tabs on them, and they kind of go along. I even had a friend who just carried around a clicker all day and counted how many times she did her Mantra. So different strokes for different folks,

Karen V. Johnson: I think it’s like using that, I think that’s a great, it’s an entry. It’s a great entry. It’s sort of like getting ready for bed at night, I brush my teeth, and then I do this, and I do that. For me, it’s like, I’m going to do this, I’m going to chant, I’m going to do this. And then when I’m done, ah, I’ll be able to, I’ll be in this meditative state. And I don’t have to fight it. I don’t have to force it. I don’t have to try to contain my busy mind. It just kind of happens organically.

Rick Archer: When you do the Gayatri Mantra, are you like sitting in your meditation room? Or would you do it on a hike or something like that?

Karen V. Johnson: Oh, I could do it on a hike. I can sit on my front porch. Yeah, so walking meditations, I like that much better than being confined to one spot one space. Although I kind of do have my little meditation spot now that I rather like but it took me a while. And I think that’s it. I mean, I think we have to reach people where they are and not try to force them into a way that that they are not able to do. I was, people always told me that I was, not bipolar, ah, what’s it called when you have the busy mind and you have learning issues?

Rick Archer: Dyslexic?

Karen V. Johnson: Not dyslexia. ADHD,

Rick Archer: ADHD, okay.

Karen V. Johnson: Hyper, attention deficit. So maybe some of us, they say everybody has a little bit of everything. We’re all a little attention deficit, a little bipolar, a little schizophrenic. We all have.

Rick Archer: All a little crazy

Karen V. Johnson: All a little crazy. It’s just how much? And so maybe some of us just need a little different entry. That’s okay.

Rick Archer: I agree with that. I mean, look at what I do with this interview show, that just people are all over the map in terms of the kinds of spiritual practices and traditions and everything that they have been doing. And I wouldn’t be able to do this show if I thought that everybody’s supposed to be doing the same thing. Or else I’d be a real lousy interviewer.

Karen V. Johnson: It would get really boring after a while, this way and there’s no other way.

Rick Archer: Right.  And look at the way God rolls. I mean look at the incredible diversity and variety in creation, all the different kinds of plants and animals and flowers and all this stuff. It’s just mind boggling. In terms of spirituality, why should everything be the same?

Karen V. Johnson: Right? Especially with people, why should we all be the same? Isn’t it great that everybody’s so uniquely different?

Rick Archer: Yeah, no, two faces alike,

Karen V. Johnson: No two faces alike.  And different customs and different cultures and different races and different. Oh, everything. It’s like, I’m fascinated by it all. It’s just fascinating. So why not be that way with spirituality too. It’s just, it’s fascinating to me.

Rick Archer: Yeah. I have a friend who has a really good microscope, and he goes out and collects pond water and just looks at all the little critters in pond water. And he said, it’s like, I forget the analogy he used when he said it’s like going to Disneyland or something. There’s just, it’s almost like he said whoever created these little critters has a sense of humor. They’re just so amusing sometimes, but when you think about that, all the variety, it to me, it evokes a sense of awe for one, and a sense of sort of appreciation of the Divine. I really feel like nothing is accidental. And all this diversity and beauty and variety could not possibly have happened through some kind of billiard ball collision process. It’s just all divine intelligence displaying, or dancing.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. And the beauty of that and to be part of it. To be in it and to watch it and just be observing. I mean, The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly. It’s not all beauty. I mean, there’s a lot of bad mingled.  But it’s interesting in its own way, too. It’s like, wow, wow, I would never have thought that way. I wonder how people think that way?

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, some people actually argue they say, well, how could there be anything like God, when you have the Holocaust? Or you have babies getting shot in schools, or all these horrible things that happen? How could there be a god? And, I mean, it’s like saying, Shakespeare should have only written comedies. If the universe is the play and display of some kind of divine intelligence, then there have to be all these varieties. It’s just that you can’t have it all one way if you’re going to have a relative creation.

Karen V. Johnson: Yep. And we have free will. To exercise free will

Rick Archer: It’s an important element.

Karen V. Johnson: Otherwise, they would say, nope, nope, you can’t do that. Nope, nope. But here, we have all this freewill. And it manifests in strange ways. Strange and diverse ways.

Rick Archer: Okay, so a couple more questions came in before we started today from two women in North Carolina,

Karen V. Johnson: I know those two women

Rick Archer: One from Laurel O’Daniel, who said, what does your daughter think of your book? And go ahead and answer that. And then

Karen V. Johnson: Oh, that’s a great one. She’s just lovely. When I went on my, I said, I was going to sell everything, retired, do my thing and travel the world. A couple of my friends went to, called my daughter up and said, your mother’s crazy, she’s grieving. She’s going to regret this she has a lifetime appointment. I mean, this is, you don’t just walk away from this stuff. And she said, I think my mother should shake her rattle and release her inner butterfly. And so, she’s totally supportive.  She just, she loves it. She just thinks it’s amazing. Fantastic. And that the transformation is amazing. It’s funny how she would say, oh, Mom, I don’t know if I believe in all this stuff. But if she loses something, like she lost a ring, she said, Mom, can you? Can you go around, can you find that ring for me? And go and find stuff? Or, what about this job, Mom? Should I take this one? Or take that one?

It’s interesting, and many of the friends that were the most like, oh, I don’t know what she’s doing. She’s gone off the deep end with this Shaman stuff will come to me and say, can you do a session for me? I’m having this really big problem, right. And so, what do you think about this? Or, someone died, and can you see if they’re here or there?

Rick Archer: That’s good to hear because I was going to ask you, actually, whether some, all your old friends felt that you had just gone off the deep end, and they’ve washed their hands of you. Or whether, some of them have adjusted to the new you? And it sounds like some of them have?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, for sure. For sure.

Rick Archer: There’s also a lot of people who are kind of closet believers in woo woo, of one sort or another. I mean, I hear stories of people like Dean Radin, speaking at scientific conferences, and people coming up afterwards and saying, well, I can’t admit it publicly, but I really into what you’re doing.  I’d lose my job if I announced it, but I can’t keep it up. I think there’s a lot of people. In fact, what’s the name, Gallup has done, the Gallup organization has done surveys of people, Americans, who a large percentage of had mystical experiences, have seen UFOs or have had all kinds of things happen. But they might not admit it to the dentist.

Karen V. Johnson: Right.  That’s it. That’s where we get constrained by society and culture. And we’re living a life maybe that’s not the way life we would have chosen, or we might choose now. But we can’t figure out how to get out of it. And we feel constrained and trapped. Like if they, if somebody finds out, I’ll be fired. I can’t do this. I can’t do that. And so here we are constrained, and this, sometimes a very unhappy bundle of energy.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, hopefully the times they are changing and, we’ll move into a society, God willing, that is more appreciative of the kinds of things we’ve been talking about and manages to get beyond all these destructive things that are costing so many lives and climate change being a big one, which will cost a lot more lives than anything else has, if it proceeds the way it’s been going. I got an email today from a good friend who was expressing a good deal of passive pessimism about the continuance of humanity. And I think, people can get down sometimes when you just,

Karen V. Johnson: We’re in the middle of this sixth great extinction event we’re losing

Rick Archer: Exactly, 150 species a day.

Karen V. Johnson: 150 species a day. That’s, it’s mind boggling. And then some people still want to say, oh, no, there’s no climate change. I don’t know, it feels kind of warm up here in upstate New York, warmer than it ever was before. So yeah, a lot is happening.

Rick Archer: I recently watched a documentary about how Exxon was doing research back in the 70s. And the Exxon scientists said, Yep, oops, climate change is happening, and it could be catastrophic. And we’d better do something about it. And they were, kind of the company was sort of planning to make that sort of transition. But then various executives just shut down that research group and spent millions of dollars spinning disinformation and doubt to just get a little extra money for a few decades.  To hell with the consequences.

Karen V. Johnson: Same thing with recycling plastics, I mean, there are emails coming out now that they knew that it breaks down, plastics break down, and it was not recyclable.  They’re not going to be huge; we’re not going to have this huge plastic recycling and hide all that to

Rick Archer: So, in other words the microplastics are getting into the air and into our bodies and into the fish. All that stuff.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah. And if we can’t take it, we’re not going to take 1000 bottles and turn them into chairs and things.  They knew that, they knew that it was not,

Rick Archer: Well, if everybody turned in all their plastic, and it were properly processed, it may be that would work but everybody doesn’t do anything. And the vast majority don’t do what they need to

Karen V. Johnson: I think the underlying thing is ‘properly processed’, it can’t be properly processed. That’s what they were saying that they knew that the petrochemicals break down at some point, and you can’t keep recycling, recycling

Rick Archer: Interesting. There’s so many things like that, that could do us in, or that could really create a hellish future for whoever remains alive. And it’s, I would be pessimistic if I didn’t have this perspective that you and I have been sharing today, which is that there’s something going on beneath the surface, which is hopefully going to blossom and counterbalance all the seemingly insoluble problems that are mounting these days.

Karen V. Johnson: And then you watch people like Elon Musk and others going to other planets in space. And you wonder, is that the plan? We’re going to just abandon this poor heap of trash that we’ve created?

Rick Archer: Yeah, I think his thought is that, well, an asteroid could hit and kill us all. So, we better have a plan B in case that happens. And actually, I know he’s a very controversial figure, but we better not get into the details.

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, forget that.

Rick Archer: I have a friend who taught him to meditate and

Karen V. Johnson: Oh, very cool.

Rick Archer: In fact, he recently went down to Texas because Musk said, I’m working so many hours a day, I’m getting a little burned out, I need to have my meditation checked. My friend flew down there. And he had to schedule the appointment at one in the morning to check his meditation because Musk is so busy. He had a rental car, and he was out in the boonies because Musk has a little house near the factory that he’s building near Austin. And as he left, it was pitch dark, he couldn’t see what he was doing. And as he was backing out, he heard this scrape. And he got out and he had backed into a Tesla. And Musk’s assistant came out and my friend said, is that Elon’s car? And the assistant said one of them. And, he said, is he going to know about this? He said, I’m not going to tell him.

Karen V. Johnson: Like that. Oh, man.

Rick Archer: Anyway, okay. There was one more question here. It’d be a good one to wrap up the conversation perhaps. This is from Karen Peters, also from North Carolina. After reflection, is there something you did not say in the book that you would like to talk about now? And you told me earlier that you’re writing a new book. So, something you’ve learned since, what? What would you say to that and what’s going into your new book?

Karen V. Johnson: Yeah, I think one of the biggest things that I’ve learned working with people over time is that as we are grieving for people, or as we’re caretakers, as we have a child who’s deep in addiction, we really lose our connection with the practice of beauty. And so what I like to have people do is put on the refrigerator, practice beauty, and do one thing every day that makes you feel happy and makes you feel good because, in our grief and despair and hopelessness, as caretakers and parents of children with addictions and having lost children, we can, we’re digging our neural networks of grief and despair and hopelessness bigger and bigger and deeper and deeper. And so, to begin a practice of beauty, to do one thing a day, whether it’s a flower or go to an art show or go to see a sunrise or a sunset. Go for a walk anything one small thing that’s just that, practice beauty practice beauty, so we can dig some new neural networks so we can get out of just digging deeper and deeper, hopelessness and despair.

Rick Archer: That’s good. Listen to beautiful music. There’s all kinds of things.

Karen V. Johnson: Yes, so many things. If you just put that on your refrigerator, practice beauty.  It’s sort of a visual, because otherwise, we forget, we get lost.

Rick Archer: Are you reaching down and placating your dog?

Karen V. Johnson: Yes, I’m placating my little dog.

Rick Archer: You can pick him up again if you want.

Karen V. Johnson: I don’t know what he wants. He’s probably like hungry. He’s like, where’s my dinner?

Rick Archer: What’s with all the talking? Can we do something?

Karen V. Johnson: What the heck!?  He’s got meat out for his dog, what are you getting for me?

Rick Archer: Yeah. The thing about beauty, I mean, the suicide rate is so high in this country, the murder rate, about it, having been a judge. And I think there’s a great deal of, obviously despair that those things are symptoms of, and it really my heart goes out to all the people who are despairing and wanting to kill themselves and so on. Because I know and I know you know that there is such an incredible beauty to life that can be discovered and lived and such incredible joy. We’re not special having discovered it, anyone, everyone has access to it, if they can just realize they do and then act, take advantage of it or plug in however they can

Karen V. Johnson: Get replugged in, that’s the whole thing

Rick Archer: Shift gears,

Karen V. Johnson: Shift gears. What were those things that make bring beauty to life and do one little thing, one thing each day, one thing, it’s monumentally transformational

Rick Archer: And one thing leads to the next, you know?

Karen V. Johnson: One thing leads to the next,

Rick Archer: Seek and you shall find, knock and the door shall be opened. It’s like, if you bite into an orange, it seems bitter. And you might think, oh, oranges, I don’t like those. But if you take the skin off and get to the inner quality of the inner value of the orange, it’s sweet. It’s a whole different thing. Life is like that. If you’re stuck on the surface, it’s bitter but the deeper values are marvelous and sweet, and the whole aim of life is to discover those.

Karen V. Johnson: Yes. And lucky are the ones that discover it. Whatever way it comes to even the most harsh and horrible ways. Fortunate are the ones that can get to those deeper truths and the deeper beauty and wisdom.

Rick Archer: Yeah. Well, thanks, Karen, and keep doing what you’re doing to help everyone get to those deeper things.

Karen V. Johnson: And you too.

Rick Archer: We’re all doing what we can as The Beatles sang. So, I’ll link your website, as I always do. And people can go there and see what you’re up to. And, yeah, some people might be watching this a few years from now, so whatever we say now might not apply then. But just whenever you happen to see this interview, if you’d like to get in touch with Karen and plug into what she’s doing, you can, just, KarenJohnson.net. Or you can go to her page on BatGap. And I’ll be linking to that and also to her book, and you can get involved.

Karen V. Johnson: Fantastic. All right.

Rick Archer: Thanks to those who have been listening or watching next week, I’ll be doing a second interview with Dwayne Elgin, who wrote a great book called Choosing Earth and it pertains to a lot of things Karen and I have been talking about today, about the fate of the earth and how deeper spiritual unfolding might save the planet. I started reading it about a year ago, I thought, oh, this is great. I want to interview him, and he kept putting me off because he wanted to wait until the second edition came out or till his film was ready or something. But he’s ready. So, we’re going to do that interview next week. Check it out. Okay, we’ll be in touch Karen.

Karen V. Johnson: All right. Thank you.

Rick Archer: Talk to you later.

Karen V. Johnson: Great talking with you.

Rick Archer: Bye.