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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people have done over 500 of them by now. And if you’ve been watching regularly, you’ve heard that number increasing over the years, I can remember when I was saying I’ve done over 200 of them. And I intend to keep on doing them. So if this is new to you, and you’d like to check out previous ones, go to batgap.com. And look under the past interviews menu. You can also be notified of future ones by signing up for the email notification thing there. This also exists as an audio podcast for those who like to listen to things while they commute and stuff. The whole thing is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. It’s no advertising or anything other than those annoying little ads you see on YouTube, which don’t really generate much revenue. So if and we’re a nonprofit, so if you feel like supporting it to any extent. Some people like set up a little $5 a month thing or whatever, whatever is comfortable, or nothing at all, whatever you prefer. But if you if you appreciate it, we’d like to support it. There’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. So my guest today is Kate Hudson, Gustin, Kate Hudson, she’s an actress. Okay, gustan PhD, Kate is a clinical psychologist practicing in the San Francisco Bay Area. She received her education from Princeton University and the University of California Berkeley, and has worked in a variety of settings over the past 25 years as a mental health practitioner, outpatient psychiatry community mental health clinics, VA hospital, college counseling services. And currently in private practice, Kate integrates the science of positive psychology into her psychotherapy, teaching and consultation, and leads classes and trainings for students, patients and healthcare professionals. So based on that introduction, you might be thinking that this is going to be a conversation about positive psychology or you know, self improvement or that kind of thing. But Kate is actually written a book called The no self help book, as opposed to the self help book 40 reasons to get over yourself and find peace of mind. And that’s what we’re going to be talking about. So, I think that’s interesting. A number of people I’ve interviewed have said that they don’t, there is ultimately no self, or that they’ve lost any sense of a personal self. And I always argue that you couldn’t utterly lose any sense of a personal selfie wouldn’t be able to function. But anyway, we’ll get into all that stuff. So welcome, Kate.
Kate Gustin: Thank you. I’m glad to be here.
Rick Archer: Yeah, good to have you. So before we actually get into the content of your book, tell us a little bit about yourself. We just heard about your education, which is a very good one. How about your spiritual education? When did you first get interested in spirituality and what have been some of the main influences in that regard?
Kate Gustin: I first got interested in spirituality about 25 years ago, when I started my graduate studies at Berkeley. And I, just through my own interest started attending the local Zen Center and you know, sampling a number of different teachers that circulated to the Bay Area, different meditation retreats and tsonga’s and, and I remember one pivotal class that was offered by the faculty, which was the clinical applications of Eastern thought. It was offered by Professor Eleanor Rosch. And that was kind of my first introduction to this overlap between psychology and Eastern wisdom traditions. So since then, I’ve been, you know, just making the most about being in the Bay Area where so many wonderful teachers come through and I’m able to participate in all sorts of venues.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I would say that other than Rishi cash, it’s probably the world’s biggest hotbed of spiritual teachers. And Rishi cash, of course, is heavy on the Hinduism. So in the Bay Area, you have this eclectic mix of all kinds of things. Ah, great. Great. Yeah. That’s why the science non duality conference is held out there. It’s already half the people who come to it. Yeah,
Kate Gustin: exactly.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So, something in what you just said, you know, the clinical applications of Eastern thought, I think the name of that course was, obviously you probably feel that Eastern thought, which we could define a little bit if necessary. has clinical applications it has, in other words, it can be beneficial for people’s mental health. Right? If
Kate Gustin: absolutely right. And these days, you know, there been many applications for, you know, stress management and, you know, pain regulation, you know, mindfulness practice has been integrated into behavioral medicine. And so, but, you know, it can be a little bit of a watered down version, it doesn’t necessarily carry over some of the, you know, the theology as it were behind it. Right. You know, it’s just, you know, used as a way of helping people, you know, adjust better or feel better.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And obviously, people do yoga classes in the local YMCA and, and all that without the theology, in fact that my friend Phil Goldberg wrote this great book called American VEDA. Have you ever heard of that book? No, no, yeah, he’s been on BatGap. But it’s a book about the whole influx of Eastern wisdom, since the time of the founding fathers really began to trickle in and small amounts and then there were the transcendentalists. And then then there was Vivekananda and then Yogananda and he just traces the whole history of the sort of Vedic influence on the west and all the impacts that’s had.
Kate Gustin: It’s an interesting Yes. Yeah. And it’s, you know, really blossomed exponentially.
Rick Archer: Yeah. continues to do so. Okay, so then, you obviously say, like, 25 years ago, you started getting involved in this stuff and going to Zen’s Zen Center and tsonga’s and sat songs and so on. So what influence has it had on you?
Kate Gustin: Oh, personally? Yeah. Well, there have been, you know, a couple of different influences there. One has been through the, the intellectual study, you know, reading as many books as I can get my hands on, but that has been only one part of the immersion, you know, the other part has been just more of the just the, the visceral sense of these teachings, and at times being graced with, you know, a deeper understanding.
Rick Archer: And we might also call that a deeper experience, right? Because I’m sure, it’s not just an intellectual understanding,
Kate Gustin: right. In fact, it really has nothing to do with thought process at all. And so that, for me, has profoundly changed my life. I mean, it’s, it’s really altered my entire understanding of who I am. And I believe it’s made a difference in how I am as a healer, you know, as a psychotherapist. And it’s certainly what’s led me to write a book like this. It’s really, truly I would never have envisioned, writing a book or not having a self like that. I come from a very conventional background, this is not something that I was, you know, my life kind of ambition.
Rick Archer: Do you have some kind of regular practice that you’ve settled into some daily routine of spiritual practice?
Kate Gustin: I had a while back. But really writing this book became my spiritual practice. That, you know, there was a certain a ritual, a prayer that I needed to sort of use as an entry point to write parts of the book. And so that was my focus for a while.
Rick Archer: Okay. Then you mentioned deshante, and Rupert spyera, and a few other teachers. Yes, Canada, so Denver dancer, right? They’ve had significant influences on you.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes, I’ve gone to many retreats, and, you know, I just find their teachings accessible. I mean, you know, each person has their own flavor. And, you know, my mind loves to kind of gnaw on Rupert spire what he has to say, you know, as you know, that there’s a deeper sort of embodiment of his teachings. Adi Shanti, I find very accessible just in terms of kind of day to day life and, and how to, you know, apply his words. Candice is, you know, just everyone has their own unique personality as the vehicle through which they, you know, delivered their teachings. And so I’ve really enjoyed seeing, you know, how this thing come across in so many different ways.
Rick Archer: If you hadn’t heard these people speaking, and you hadn’t read all the spiritual books, but had done the spiritual practice that you’ve done, would it have occurred to you that ultimately there is no self or at least that the self is certainly not what we take it to be?
Kate Gustin: If I hadn’t read all these books,
Rick Archer: in other words, to what extent did you glom on to that idea from things you heard and read as opposed to where you yourself were actually experiencing?
Kate Gustin: There were several actual moments of grace in which my personal self kind of this left the room Yes, dissipated. And those experiences are what has given the, I don’t know that the meat to this, right, my I mean, my mind can sort of understand and really can articulate this, but those experiences are what have changed everything. Yeah, yeah.
Rick Archer: Did they leave a lasting flavor? Or was it like a glimpse, and then you lost it?
Kate Gustin: They got both, I mean, there was a glimpse, and then, you know, the sort of localized sense of self, you know, came back in. But, you know, sometimes you can have, like, one penetrating experience of truth, and that can sort of shift everything. So I, you know, and I feel like my sort of personal experience with this is what informs this particular kind of book, because I really do refer to the selfing process, you know, to being able to, you know, identify with self referential thoughts, you know, that’s kind of the default, and then being able to pause and step back and not identify with it. So that that really has been my process.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Paul Hedeman is fond of using the word selfing. I’ve ever listened to him.
Kate Gustin: I know, I know, I haven’t. But some people have mentioned him recently. So I look forward to looking him up. Well, my sense
Rick Archer: in reading your book, is that you’re not becoming you’re not advocating becoming utterly devoid of a sense of personal identity. And I thought whether that’s possible anyway, but it seems more that you’re encouraging people to stop believing false mental stories about themselves. Is that a fair assessment?
Kate Gustin: Absolutely. You know, even though the the title of the book is Get over yourself, you know, kind of in a clever, dismissive way, it’s this is really about just informed consent, you know, when when these narratives come to mind, you know, what, what do you choose to identify with? And, you know, I, you know, I really wanted to write this book as kind of a an accessible entry level kind of pop non duality book, you know, for people who aren’t necessarily thinking about spirituality, or who may not even be psychologically minded, you know, just something that people can relate to, based on, you know, their preoccupation with their own thoughts.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And you go through a whole lot of points of, you know, how life goes, if you are preoccupied, and then a whole lot of points about how life could go, if you weren’t. So I think we’re going to go through some of those. All right, as we go along in this conversation. But I’m assuming one other key point about your book that I took away from it is that identification is the key factor in how seriously we take these thoughts and metal stories we tell ourselves. And, of course, that’s that famous analogy of the movie screen, right? Where the movie is playing on the screen, and it overshadows the screen, to the extent that you don’t even know the screen there, you just get completely caught up in the movie. Oh, exactly. It’s monsters coming at me or whatever. Whereas if this screen could somehow get brighter, then you know, you would see the screen and the movie, and perhaps the screen could get so bright, that the movie would just be a sort of a faint remains of images and the screen would be predominant.
Kate Gustin: Right? It’s where where do you want to rest the majority of your attention or you know, where your, your sense of presence or center of gravity resides. And, and, you know, most people don’t even know that this, there’s a choice in this, you know, there’s, you know, some sort of thought, and then, sense of oneself is just instantaneously merged with that. And so this book is really trying to create a little bit of a, a wedge, so that the thought or emotion, you know, whatever the passing phenomena of mind is, you know, that that can come up. And then there’s a, you know, there’s a you there that’s able to witness that and make a choice, you know, how much you want to go with the storyline? Or maybe begin turning and inquiring? Well, what is this part? Right, this is the part that gets left out by psychology, you know, what is that witnessing presence? You know, we’re really interested in you know, the types of thoughts and the types of behaviors and how to make them more adaptive or more functional. But, you know, it only goes so far in terms of health.
Rick Archer: Yeah, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave comes to mind too, you know, where the people are chained in the cave, and there’s a fire behind them casting shadows on the wall. And, and they think that that’s the only reality and similar to the movie screen analogy, but it’s throw that in there. And there’s a whole other world that they’re completely unaware of, because they’ve always been chained staring at that wall.
Kate Gustin: Yes. I mean, you know, our culture is very much about the projection and the movie and it’s so entertaining, gripping. Right. But it’s you know, it’s stressful. And it’s, you know, it’s a fraction of what our, you know, sort of wholeness is. And I wouldn’t
Rick Archer: say that it’s just our culture either, because I think it’s worldwide, it’s universal. Everybody gets the same mechanics in which this, the sensory input overshadows the self, the true self, the inner self of the capitalist. And, you know, we take ourselves to be we identify with the sensory input, as opposed to our essential nature.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yeah. So, you know, it seems like these, you know, Earth suits, if you will, are kind of hardwired in that way, you know, to take it all, as, you know, at face value, kind of the human condition.
Rick Archer: Yeah, one little doubt I had, as I read your book, is that just just sort of, it’s good, what you said about creating a wedge that could sort of drive a wedge between people’s concept of themselves and what they actually are, or aren’t. But I think, I mean, I think that’s a start having the intellectual glimpse, or understanding that there’s more to life than meets the eye, and there’s deeper aspect to what we are than we think ourselves to be and all that stuff. But personally, I would advocate for some kind of regular practice, I’m big on practice, that would actually make that a living reality, prevent it from just being a conceptual one, which conceptual ones are very, very tenuous.
Kate Gustin: Right. Right. Well, and certainly meditation, and, you know, every group therapy that I conducted at the Department of Psychiatry, where I worked, we all began with a meditation process. And, you know, and even though it was, you know, it was applied for the benefit of relaxation, or just, you know, a moment of mindfulness, it’s really about cultivating some identification with that abiding kind of presence, you know, sort of the field of awareness, and helping people, you know, come to know themselves as that and not so much the content of their thinking. You know, that’s, you know, really what the intention is, even if the the languaging around that is different in a department of psychiatry.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And, of course, you know, people say, and I think you even say in your book, but we are that, so it shouldn’t be that difficult to relax into that or tune into that. But that that can be easier said than done, you know, if one’s life is like, intense, and it’s really coming at you, and you’ve got bills and problems and kids and you’re exhausted, and, and everything else, it’s it’s just a sort of a pipe dream to say, well, you are this deeper reality.
Kate Gustin: Right? It requires, like you say, the practice and prompts and you know, some kind of technology. Yeah, quiet down the noise, or at least not to quiet down the noise, because really, we can’t control our thoughts so much, but to, you know, to not invest as much credibility in them, well,
Rick Archer: no, but the noise can be quieted down, you know, the Yoga Sutras. The second verse Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind, it says, and then the seer rests in the self, those the second and third verses of it. So there are practices, which will enable the mind to settle down just the way an agitated ocean can settle down if the wind stops blowing. And, and then, you know, just like the ocean, the sun can be reflected clearly once the agitation stops. Right.
Kate Gustin: Right. Yeah. And then the image on the front of the book is a person sort of lying on the surface of the ocean, although I have to say the rendering of that person looks a little rigor mortis there but but essentially, it’s supposed to be, you know, a column in the midst of the sea.
Rick Archer: held it up there. Yeah. So I were saying these things, because it’s good for people to understand that this is possible. I think, you know, I mean, your book tells them that life could be so much better if that’s the way one experienced it. And, and I’m just throwing in this stuff here about practice. And so in order to make sure that you’re experiencing it, and not just conceptualizing it,
Kate Gustin: exactly. I think this book is really a very first step. And just in terms of introducing the notion that there’s something other than the commentary. And then, you know, if people want to dig deeper, you know, plenty of great resources for that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. There’s, I have this friend named David Buckland who has been on BatGap a couple of times, and a lot of respect for his knowledge about things. I read his blog or listened to his podcast regularly. And I ran this by him, told him that he was going to be interviewing you and he kind of looked at video, looked at your website, and he sent me something that was rather useful that we could run through it a little bit. And it’s this in the Vedic understanding, they have this self concept broken down into various levels. And the the one that people are most familiar with is called a smeta. And it means the selfish me that possesses things as mine, you know, my body, my emotions, my thoughts, my possessions. And this is a sort of identified ego driven by needs and desires. And actually, because of when it typically develops, we might call it the two and a half, two year old self.
Kate Gustin: Right? Yes, and there needs to be that level of ego development, right? You know, there, there needs to be some kind of cohesive, initially coherent, stable sort of sense of self, you know, in a conventional psychological sense, in order to be able to sort of dis identify, and perhaps transcend that, so much of my work as a psychologist really addressing healthy ego development, you know, I don’t pathologize that at all. I mean, you know, for people to know what they’re, you know, to identify what their preferences are, to be able to advocate them, be able to sort of have a sense of personal rights, you know, that that’s just healthy functioning. But it’s not where the story ends,
Rick Archer: though, but you make it clear in your book, that you’re not going to lose all that stuff. If If you shift from the sweeter level, you know, the the possessive, identify detached sense of self to a much more universal one, you’re still gonna have those preferences and judgments and whatnot, as appropriate.
Kate Gustin: Exactly. I mean, you know, those things have been so over learned, you know, this, this sense of self really isn’t going anywhere. You know, if you don’t want it to, it will reconfigure itself within a split second. So
Rick Archer: if it totally evaporated, I don’t know how your person would function. I mean, how do you know where to put the food in the mouth? And you know how to door there has to be some sense of, you know, take your hand off the stove, if it’s if it’s hot.
Kate Gustin: Exactly, exactly. I mean, I really do feel we are, you know, given this sort of human form, for the purpose of experiencing that play of separateness and unity. And so, you know, that unique manifestation needs to be kind of part of the curriculum here.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s just that we could say that the self is multi dimensional, and most people are stuck in the most manifest narrow dimension of it. Oh, maybe that’s one way of putting it well,
Kate Gustin: right. You know, just in terms of, you know, sort of survival evolutionarily, like, you know, looking at what do I have versus what does the other person have, you know, just basically taking care of needs, and making sure that they are, there’s security, and then there’s, you know, contentment? I mean, you know, and these are, these are important needs, but it’s, again, it’s, it’s not the whole of, of what people bring to the table.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay. So, the next level that David outlined, is, is called a hum car. And it’s defined as the individuating principle. And this is usually translated as ego. And it results from the intellect recognizing this as different from other, more subtle, it’s more subtle than sweeter the possessive self, and it’s the sense of an individual self. And this begins with early separation from the mother and gradually develops into the teens when the intellect becomes more prominent, or continues post awakening, but is no longer seen as who I am,
Kate Gustin: ah, well, and you know, you can, in psychological terms, you might think of that also, his theory of mind is developing right, the capacity to sort of differentiate one’s own perspective from that of others, you know, which comes online with the development of language, you know, that this self referential capacity is very much language driven. And so, you know, and then, and then then the way that that evolves over time, I mean, part of that depends on the environment, not only sort of the, you know, the hardwired conditioning, but the environment as well.
Rick Archer: Okay, we’re gonna get into your book in detail in a second I just one more level here. Ah, the next one is called a hum. And it’s an even more subtle sense of I am of being, it can arise only when the mind is quiet and a true sense of self can shine through. It’s beyond all the mind associations that we’ve just mentioned. As we turn on hunger, the sense of I Am, fades as one shifts into Brahman consciousness. We don’t feel like we cease to be only that what we are is inclusive of something even greater than being so so we’re kind of like shifting here going from eyeness to m this to business.
Kate Gustin: Ah, yeah, and you can just feel the I don’t know just the spaciousness of that as you describe it, right? There’s something that’s just so liberating in that progression.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So in a sentence, we could say, the more fundamental we become, the more universal we become. In other words, the deeper level at which we appreciate what we truly are, the more universal we find that to be.
Kate Gustin: Yes, that there really isn’t separation or or difference.
Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah, of course, people have often use the wave and ocean analogy, the waves might think they’re separate. But if they kind of look to their roots, they find oh, we’re all just part of the same world as the same ocean. Yeah,
Kate Gustin: exactly, exactly. And I bring that metaphor in towards the end of the book, in terms of, you know, first of all, this choice of Do people even want to let go of the way of identification, because it’s, you know, it’s sort of where the action is that it’s sort of what’s reflected back culturally, or perhaps, you know, so universally, and from the egos point of view, or the selfs point of view, and it may seem rather dull, you know, to be sort of in the depths of this kind of stillness, or, you know, the fear of losing one’s individuality, which isn’t really what has to go with that. But, you know, I think it’s just seen as kind of foreign and potentially threatening.
Rick Archer: Yeah, thought that comes to mind, as you say, that is, the senses seem to have the natural function of drawing the attention outwards, that’s what they’re designed to do, right? So we’re perceiving all these things outwards, are really, and they get habituated to doing that such that we, we kind of atrophy in our ability to appreciate the inward, we’re always outer directed. And so you know, the meditation of some sort, should be designed to allow the senses to take 190 degree turn, and proceed inwardly. Yes, but if we’re not accustomed to doing that, then like, you just said, it might seem dull, or we might feel like there’s nothing to find there. Or, you know, we’re used to, we’re used to getting our fulfillment from outer outer stimulation. Right? So what could there possibly what I’m, in fact, when I started meditating, people would say, it look weird. I’m sitting, sitting there with my eyes closed for half an hour, you know, what the heck are you doing?
Kate Gustin: Right, right? Is that right? Except it’s really the deepest level of connection. And I think that’s why this is really a whole paradigm shift, right? It’s a revolution in the literal sense of, we’re revolving away from focusing out there, revolving towards within, and then to see there really isn’t a division. But it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s an incredibly different orientation to the world.
Rick Archer: It is. But as you know, and as most listeners will know, that all the ancient traditions say that there’s a tremendous prize to be found, if we, if we can take the attention inwards, it’s a great reservoir of, of intelligence and happiness, and all kinds of wonderful qualities that we can tap into.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. And, you know, I try to use a metaphor, in the book of, you know, imagining sort of a stock room full of these barrels of every capacity, you can think of, you know, the peace and the kindness and the this and that, and, you know, in barrels full of animosity or conflict, you know, but it’s all accessible, you know, when you don’t identify with the patterning, the narrative of the self, you can sort of step back and, you know, sort of see what you what barrel you would like to, you know, sort of stop yourself from, and, but, but, you know, the supplies are going anywhere, and whatever you draw from, it’s not gonna be the only defining of you, you know, I can pull from this experience in this moment of anxiety. And in this next moment, you know, pull from some other, you know, kind of collective expression. And, you know, there’s no, there’s no conflict. It’s an abundance.
Rick Archer: Yeah. When I read that portion, in your book I did, it triggered a question I wanted to ask you. And that is that, you know, in the metaphor and the analogy, you’re talking about barrels of abundance and wonderful things, but also barrel, like you just said, of animosity, and conflict and stuff. And I would argue that the animosity and the conflict and the negative stuff is not are not characteristic of our essential nature. They’re the sort of crud that has developed over time through not being in touch with our essential nature, and that the whole process of spiritual evolution involves cleaning out that crud so that the essential nature can shine through and not be occluded or obscured by the deeper impressions. But it’s not like if we realize our essential nature and its fullness, we’re going to, you know, sometimes be expressing tremendous compassion and other times tremendous, you know, negativity because, you know, because there’s a negativity barrel deep within.
Kate Gustin: What do I appreciate that clarification and I would agree with you And so I think, you know, the, perhaps what that was drawing attention to was the selfing process, you know, when people really step back and see that they have choice in terms of what they identify with, you know, what, what kind of thought or kind of emotion comes through? Those are the different barrels. But but when we step back and identify with who is it that’s making the choice, that that is a very clean field of awareness that that that doesn’t have all of these negative qualities.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And in a few minutes, we’re going to get into the nitty gritty of your book a little bit more. And there’s a whole section where we sort of speak from the perspective of the no self, or the higher self or pure consciousness or whatever we want to call it, and give specific examples of how life would could flow if that was our primary orientation. So we’ll get into that in just a minute. Right. Just one final thing I wanted to read from David’s levels, was that deeper than the harm or the I Am, is something that carries on whatever the stage and this is called Jeeva. Similar to how we use soul in the West. This is sort of the point value of consciousness residing in the heart, the life spark that enters at birth and begins the body breathing and leaves at death. This is where the lifeforce Shakti enters and becomes the products for the Qi. Ah, interesting to throw that in.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. Because I know the word soul has been used in many different ways. And yeah, all right. Well, thank you.
Rick Archer: Yeah, final point from David here, and then I’ll be done with that. He just said, when he first woke up, it felt like an ego death, there was a sense for a while of I have ceased to exist. But after a while, he realized it was just the death of identification with the ego, not a death of the ego itself.
Kate Gustin: It’s a functioning, you know, the ego was a functioning, it’s not an entity. So there’s, there’s nothing, yeah, there’s nothing that’s actually dying. It’s just, you know, there’s a certain kind of operating system that comes online, and then we can sort of, you know, sort of layer on top of it, all of this self referential thought that gives it the sense of being some sort of enduring entity that we have to try to get rid of, but that that whole thing is a myth. Yeah, it’s, it’s such an illusion. It’s like a faculty, we could say, yes, it’s a faculty, right. It’s,
Rick Archer: like our other faculties that we have that enable us to function as living beings.
Kate Gustin: Yeah, it’s a capacity towards something. And and it’s, you know, helpful. I mean, it’s, you know, it’s adaptive, in certain ways, certain parameters. But it’s, it’s gone a little, you know, taken over here.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Okay, good. So switching to your book, the whole part one is a section that you call self hoods. And there’s all sorts of little titles like the imposter self, the self that slices and dices itself, freezes, and, and so on the dictator self, so we won’t go through every single one of them, we wouldn’t have time, but perhaps you could pick out some of the ones that you think might you might most like to talk about. Oh, and, you know, it’s not going to be anything people have never heard before. But because we’ve all functioned this way. But interesting to contrast, that way of functioning with the, the nicer way of functioning that we’re going to talk about next.
Kate Gustin: Alright, well, you know, one of my favorites is the, the self seeks esteem. So, you know, I kind of use the metaphor of a black hole, and, you know, this process of, you know, having to sort of build our self esteem and try to prove our worth and have enough accomplishments or enough accolades, it’s, you know, it’s kind of like a black hole, you know, you know, to the extent that you keep achieving, it kind of pulls in that much more of a need to keep proving, so in other words, self esteem is, you know, it’s elusive there, there’s no self esteem kind of organ or entity within us, it’s the same as the self, in fact, right? It’s, you know, we can engage in a process of trying to, you know, feel good about ourselves, but the languaging around this, like, we have to sort of cultivate enough self esteem. It’s, it really leads to a lot of problems. I mean, I’ve had a lot of clients get stuck with this, like, oh, you know, I can’t pursue this goal or that until I have an adequate level of self esteem. And, you know, and it’s a way of relating what to oneself, it’s not a thing that you have in hand. Very much like the self is the self again, a functioning it’s an emergence, it’s a it’s a response to environment. It’s, it’s not something that you need to reify and then keep referring back to, which kind of keeps us stuck in the past and prevents us from having kind of a fresh openness to you know, What emerges in each moment. So, you know, so there are a lot of implications for just how psychotherapy is done or or psychology around this, you know, and these days research has really looked into some of the harms associated with this endless pursuit of self esteem, you know, really sets people up for this, I don’t know, just self help project that never ends. And, you know, and the research shows that actually trying to tap into self compassion, that, that is more helpful than trying to cultivate self esteem. Because you’re not basing a sense of presence or worth on some accomplishment, it’s, you know, with compassion, it’s part of your just sort of what’s given with your humanity, there’s sort of a, you know, kind of a warmth and an empathy and an understanding that, that arises just in the very nature of who and what you are, as opposed to self esteem, which is, you know, you’re trying to sort of pull in this kind of prize. And, and that’s giving you permission to then live as you would like to live. It’s a holding pattern.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I don’t think you’re saying that one shouldn’t aspire to do things and accomplish great things, and so on. But that a few, if that’s where you derive your sense of self or self worth, then you’re going to be on very shaky ground, you know, you’re going to be jumping out of skyscrapers if the stock market crashes or something?
Kate Gustin: Well, exactly, right. It’s just an invitation to focus on the process, you know, whatever it is, you’re trying to, to achieve, like, how does it feel to be participating in the process of it, that the Spirit the participation, rather than, you know, some final end result or outcome that you can kind of have as a trophy, which then prove something about yourself, it’s, you know, it’s really unnecessary.
Rick Archer: When I think of self esteem, I think of the way I was in high school. Pretty much lacking in that quality, and, you know, just feeling oh, I’m not cool. I’m not popular, you know, that whole high school mentality that that is so prevalent, and, unfortunately, a lot of kids kill themselves these days. So, you know, what is it about? I mean, I guess, for every chapter in your, in the selfing, part of the book, you have a corresponding chapter and the no self part of the book that kind of counterbalances it, more or less, roughly, roughly, yes. So, you know, what is it about shifting from the isolated self perspective to the more deeper or no self perspective that would cure the disease of low self esteem?
Kate Gustin: Well, there’s nothing to prove, you know, when you when you identify as a no self, which, in other words, when you cease identifying with the story of who you are, come back to this, why it’s still field of awareness? What does the steam have to even do with that? Right, it becomes sort of irrelevant, there’s, you know, there’s sort of a, a wholesome context to who you are, there’s sort of an emergent expression of, you know, life kind of living itself each moment. So, to put some sort of yardstick on that, you know, like, Well, life better express itself this way, in order to sort of qualify for, you know, this sort of gold standard. I mean, it’s just, it just doesn’t really apply. And so there’s freedom in that you can just be spontaneous, you don’t really have to be so self conscious and an evaluative, which is really constraining.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I imagine self esteem has a lot to do with what you think other people think of you. You know, because if you were Tom Hanks living on a deserted island, you know, there’d be no consideration of self esteem. You just, although he was pretty proud of himself when he got created fire, as you may recall, yeah. I love that movie. Yeah, yeah. But, yeah, go ahead.
Kate Gustin: Well, just that there’s the spontaneous joy and discovering or creating or doing something, right. So um, you know, I’m not putting down any of that. But it doesn’t, those, the doing or the creating doesn’t have to be a prerequisite for just, you know, feeling like there is value inherent in what you are, like we come in, that’s a given that wholeness is there. We don’t have to sort of prove or strive for that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So maybe we could say you kind of rest in a in a sense of confidence and contentment, and in perturb ability, and self sufficiency, and qualities like that. And so you’re not sort of grasping at straws, trying to try to culture those qualities through this or that little achievement or you know, attainment,
Kate Gustin: right, right. I mean, there’s just Something very kind of complete, not in a in a, you know, egotistical kind of way, but just in a way of, you know, what you bring to the table is valid, you know, and then there can still be a cultivation of different interests or different sort of expressions, but it’s, you know, worth is not going to be conditioned, oh, you know, conditioned on that. Yeah,
Rick Archer: that’s good. I guess another way of putting it is that, you know, that your true nature is, is like is oceanic, it’s, it’s a fullness. And it’s kind of like, if you’re, if you’re a multimillionaire, you know, gaining, you know, $10 here or losing $10, there doesn’t make any difference. But, but if you if you have 20 bucks to your name, you’re living on the street, gaining or losing $10 is a huge deal. So this gets us away from self esteem, but it seems to be that getting’s being settled in the in that pure awareness or pure nature, it doesn’t matter much what happens on the ripples of right, the ocean. Exactly, you are the ocean.
Kate Gustin: Yes, and even just from a psychology perspective, you know, a lot of positive psychology has found these days that money, I mean, after a certain sort of basic income, you know, to take care of basic needs, that much more doesn’t lead to that much more contentment or happiness. And, you know, these landmark studies of people who’ve won the lottery, you know, they tend to quickly go back to whatever pre existing baseline of contentment or dis content they had had, you know, prior to winning. And so there’s, you know, so there’s something else here, rather than the the money or the accomplishment, you know, in terms of our quality of life, those things are, you know, that they’re part of the picture, but they are not the the end all be all as culturally, they they’re made out to be?
Rick Archer: Yeah, yeah. Good. And it’s good that you’re popularizing this notion, because the culture really does need to shift, there’s so much inequity and in the culture between haves and have nots, have nots, and, and, you know, so much injury inflicted on people and the environment due to sort of the craving grasping nature of, of mass psychology and the economic systems that arise from it.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yeah. So I mean, I feel like this is an important paradigm shift at all levels, not just for, you know, personal growth, which I’m making the point that it’s really not personal, you know, this is part of consciousness evolving. But this is important also, just for, you know, sustainability issues, you know, environmental issues. I mean, it’s, it’s broad application here.
Rick Archer: Yeah, he make that point in your book. And I think it’s an important one, you know, I don’t know, if it’s usually not considered if we’re here, refereed articles about climate change, or, you know, economic issues or anything like that. It’s a maybe something is said about, you know, the mentality of the people who were, who were having these kinds of influences. But usually, it’s not the first priority, the first thing we would make sure it’s taken care of, in order to make sure the problem doesn’t continue.
Kate Gustin: Right. Yes. And so, you know, taking care, taking care of oneself is taking care of others. So, you know, I’m just, I’m just trying to expand the sense of self so that it’s not, you know, my individual body mind, you know, that’s where my self needs. And it’s, you know, for me to take care of the environment to take care of the other people is taking care of myself in the largest sense. Yeah. And, you know, and it’s good for individual psychology as well.
Rick Archer: That was another criticism I got, when I first started meditating. People said, Well, it’s selfish, you know, you’re just going into a room and closing your eyes and just sort of being self indulgent. You know, how about being engaged with other people? But, you know, that’s like saying, Well, you know, go shopping without first going to the bank and getting some money out. You can’t really you don’t have anything really to spend.
Kate Gustin: Right, right, exactly. I mean, this is, you know, it’s a reciprocal synergistic kind of effect here. So we, when you know, who your largest sense of self is, then you’re more likely to sort of spontaneously serve that largest sense of self, you know, if we’re calling the illusion that this storyline of who I am as separate. You know, if I still buy into that, then what’s going to be the motivation for even caring about you know, humanity beyond my immediate family, right?
Rick Archer: Oh, you want to get a job as a lifeguard? You better know how to swim.
Kate Gustin: Exactly.
Rick Archer: What are some other little chapters in yourself wood section that might be fun to talk about?
Kate Gustin: Ah, let’s see. Um, well, first, I mean, there So many. Let’s say the self erodes, that’s kind of an interesting one
Rick Archer: erodes like, like, like soil or roads, that kind of exactly ocean. Okay, go ahead, Roshan.
Kate Gustin: Right. I mean, you know, so, you know, I kind of relate this to some of the work I do with clients, when people are coming in at times of transition in their lives, when they’re entering into retirement, or let’s say, because of some personal injury, they’re not able to have, you know, the same roles or responsibilities. And, you know, and these are difficult adjustments. And so, you know, there’s, there’s a lot of grieving and a lot of support to be given around these changes. But the point here is that the sense of self, you know, self likes to be this sort of stable, continuous thing. And it identifies heavily with its roles, you know, so, you know, I am a self who is a, you know, a professional or a wage earner, you know, like, what, like, Whatever, whatever is, the self really binds to it. And yet, our capacities and our roles and our stages of life change. And so that’s what I mean, there is an erosion it to the form that we’re given, of course, and then how, in this form, we’re able to sort of interact with our environment, there’s just a natural erosion to that. And the self really protests that, you know, there’s a lot of resistance, so people can get stuck in, you know, trying to sort of override these natural changes, or just, you know, go into denial. And there’s, you know, an extra level of suffering that is then layered on top of whatever initial grief or adjustment that needs to happen. So it’s, so it basically, in each of these sections, I’m trying to shatter some of these, what I call self hoods, these kind of myths that, oh, you know, I’m a stable, enduring kind of entity or I have self esteem is kind of the core of what I am, you know, like, I’m just really trying to shake that up a little bit.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And life shakes it up. You will exactly. Yeah. I mean, let’s just take an example. Let’s say, Yeah, somebody who they are. And they say, Oh, well, I’m a lawyer, and oh, no, that’s your job. I mean, who else? Who are you? Well, I’m a father, and husband. No, those are some relationships. And the things we just mentioned could be lost. Exactly, no. And so then what would you be? Well, I have a body, I’m this body. But way, but that that could be lost, that could get sick, or it will definitely age. And so then who? Well on this mind? Yeah, but you could sort of like get senile, or so that could be lost. So what are you that can’t be lost?
Kate Gustin: Well, yes. And I actually do this exercise. It when I led some groups back at a medical center, it was actually a class on anxieties, but we would have people break into these dyadic pairs. And one person would simply ask the other, you know, who are you? The other would give a, you know, one word answer. And then they would repeat it over and over and over again, probably for about, I mean, as long as they could sort of tolerate it, but about 10 minutes,
Rick Archer: really? Give us an example. What kind of a one word?
Kate Gustin: Oh, well, you know, like, so I would ask you, you know, who are you, you would say, you know, I’m Rick, and then I’d ask it again, and you’d say, I’m a man. And, you know, I just keep asking the question go deeper and deeper, kind of deeper and deeper. And, you know, and people just didn’t even realize there were so many answers to give. So just at that level, it is very helpful. Because, you know, when people are going through depression, or anxiety, or whatever the issue was that brought them to the medical center, you know, that took up most of their self definition, at least at that point in time. And so for them to see like, oh, well, actually, I am, I am all these features, and all these roles, and all these capacities, you know, before we even got to what’s underneath all that, which, you know, in a medical setting, we didn’t always get to, but, you know, it’s just really helps people come into the expansiveness of who they are.
Rick Archer: One thing that comes to mind, as you were just talking is the element of fear. If you identify yourself as all these temporary changing things, it seems to me that there would be a sort of an abiding fear, because all those things are always in jeopardy.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. And I think, you know, the, the self is kind of a fear based myth of an entity really, you know, like, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s kind of, you know, if we’re going to personify it for a moment, which is, you know, what the book is working against, but to personify it, like, here’s this sort of mythical entity that is afraid of being seen through, you know, being seen as what it is, which is, there’s no there there. Right. So it’s, you know, so it has to go through this whole Sharada of, well, I really am enduring and here all my beliefs and they’re not going to change and here’s my physicality and I, you know, it’s not going to change even though, you know, life doesn’t operate that way. But there’s such a bravado to it because it has to work that hard to really, you know, create something out of nothing, essentially.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that sounds exhausting. I mean, there must be a constant expenditure of energy to try to cling to and buttress and reinforce things that tend to continue slipping away from us.
Kate Gustin: Yes. And thus we have psychological defenses, right? I mean, this is, many of our defenses are protection of self, you know, so we buy into this illusion that the self is, you know, an entity and, and minutes of fragile one, right, so we’re always having to defend ourselves against being rejected or being sort of condescended to or what have you. And so there’s these, you know, a whole maneuvers that we do to, to protect this self, it’s a lot of psychic energy could be used elsewhere.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One thing people often say when they have an awakening, they feel a tremendous sense of relief, because there had been this subtle effort, and maybe even not so subtle, going on for who knows how long. And finally, they’re able to just relax out of that. And somehow, you know, nature goes on autopilot, or the whole, one’s whole makeup goes on autopilot. And is, is guided or conducted by by some larger intelligence, and you can just sort of sit back and enjoy the ride, rather than trying to be in the driver’s seat.
Kate Gustin: Exactly. Well, it’s funny, I had an experience of that sort, not in terms of the self dissolving, but in terms of a, an actual traffic accident, happening right in front of me, like a huge thing with the car flipping over on top of the car, I was in front of, you know, out of out of the blue, and, you know, casualties, the whole thing. And, and in that moment, when I realized just that, like, oh, this, this whole illusion of me just trying to keep myself alive or protecting myself, or just that I’m in control, like, that just got shattered. And the experience in that moment, was such a relief, like, oh, I don’t have to keep pretending that I can really control this. And then, you know, pretty quickly that went away, and then fear came right in like, oh, my gosh, I’m really not in control now. But yeah, but But I believe, you know, there is that initial sort of release of we don’t have the reins of the horse here. So pretending to it’s just a lot of unnecessary effort.
Rick Archer: Yeah. There’s all kinds of verses in the Bhagavad Gita about how, you know, you’re mistaken. If you think that you are the actor really, or that you are in control, it’s, it’s, you know, the nature’s doing it, or, you know, then that gives you all these descriptions of how the sage realizes I do not act at all, it’s all being conducted by the forces of nature.
Kate Gustin: Right, right. And, you know, the Self does not want to concede control, you know, so there’s, you know, that one of the other chapters, or let me just get the title of that, oh, the self steals credit. So the, you know, the idea that whatever it is that you you do, you know, there’s this little mythical self entity saying, Well, I made you do that. Right, you know, so, you know, so here we are gifted with whatever sort of creative or intellectual sort of expressions, and yet this collection of thoughts in our heads are trying to take credit for, you know, sort of life manifesting itself. It’s, it’s kind of absurd,
Rick Archer: yeah. And it’s good actually refers to such people as thieves says, If you appropriate that which does not belong to you, namely the authorship of action, then you are a thief.
Kate Gustin: Ah, yes. And that’s, you know, that’s kind of the little funny intro I have to this book, like, you know, there, we have been, you know, there’s been an identity theft, that kind of a mass level here, you know, that, you know, the seat of our thoughts has sort of, you know, kind of robbed our sense of identity. And, you know, these culprits should be called out.
Rick Archer: But we don’t want to sound accusatory, because everybody’s born this way. And it’s, it’s like, you know, universal human condition. So it’s not anybody’s fault. I think what you’re doing is pointing out that there’s a better way, and, you know, we ought to seek it. But nobody’s blame. We’re not blaming anybody. There’s no sort of secret government that’s making us function this way or anything like that.
Kate Gustin: No, no. And, you know, and I really tried to take sort of a humorous tone, you know, it’s like, here we are in this together, and, you know, and isn’t it a bit odd and paradoxical, right, that, you know, it, whether it’s evolutionarily or just, you know, whatever it is, that has put in place, this sort of adherence to a sense of self like, isn’t it? You know, what is sort of a strange thing, you know, that we’ve been given this sort of, you know, we’re this abiding ground of being and yet we sort of see ourselves as so small, you know? And how is it that we do that, you know, like, it’s just sort of a trying to walk hand in hand through this, you know, just very absurd kind of drama, and sort of look at it with some curiosity and with some way of sort of taking it down a notch so that we’re not sort of suffering as a result of it.
Rick Archer: Yeah, this sort of, there’s some great line about it from the Upanishads or something, it says something like, there’s no joy and smallness. You know, that it’s you, it’s your nature is your essential nature to be vast and unbounded and all that and there, and if that is, if the whole ocean has been squeezed into a drop, and you think you’re just a drop, and not not the ocean, that you actually are, there’s a perpetual sort of pinch?
Kate Gustin: Yes. What in the end are longing, you know, whatever this core sense of inadequacy or loneliness that, you know, pretty much I’ve seen in every client I’ve worked with, and within myself with everyone, you know, like, this, I think, is sort of what the driving force of that is, right? We have mistaken ourselves as the drop. And that is, you know, a pretty constrained way of, you know, mistaking ourselves.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you address that nicely in the book, that there’s this sort of universal, innate longing, I think a lot of times the longing is Miss and Miss interpreted or misunderstood. And think people, you know, say, I really need that Mercedes, or I really need that relationship, or I really need that amount of money or something, and then I’ll be fulfilled, but it’s the longing that they’re actually, you know, hoping to fulfill with those different things is actually the longing for, for the self for for the, when I say self, I mean capitalist self, you know, for right, for Self Realization. And these other things are like, inadequate substitutes.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. And that’s why they don’t really have much lasting power, and why, you know, it puts us on the treadmill of constantly trying to accumulate more. So, you know, we talk a little bit in these chapters about the self wants or the self needs, it’s because it’s trying so desperately to fill, fill that in, but it’s, you know, it’s kind of the wrong approach. We’re trying to fill something in that we already are, we’re just not recognizing that we are that.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And it might bear repeating that, you know, this, the deeper realization that we’re alluding to here, does not deprive you of ordinary wants, and aspirations. Those things just become more like icing on the cake. You know, but at least you have the cake.
Kate Gustin: Exactly. You want the cake, first and foremost. Because I think it’s a little sickening, right? Like, you know, this is the addictions. This is the, you know, the the obsessions, we’re really trying to sort of pull something out of these substances, or these experiences that they’re not equipped to really give us. Yeah, it’s not gonna fill in a soul thirst.
Rick Archer: Jesus said, Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven, and all else should be added unto thee. So that’s the kind of the priority there. Yeah, get that. And then, yeah, oh, yeah.
Kate Gustin: Alright, and icing on the cake. Delicious. Right. But let’s, let’s just make sure we’re not just forgetting the cake.
Rick Archer: Are there any other little, little chapters in the first part that we want to touch on? Well, let’s
Kate Gustin: see the self freezes, I kind of like that one, you know, that’s really just talks a little bit more about, like, this process of identifying with thoughts. So you know, I mean, it’s, essentially we, you know, we’ve got these kind of ephemeral symbols or representations that go through our mind. And we, you know, give a great deal of meaning to them, even though there are 10s of 1000s of thoughts that pass through. And, you know, we still we take a particular thought that’s got a, like, an emotional charge to it. And it kind of freezes it, you know, we kind of, you know, put it in our or memory Museum, so to speak, right, and then we keep revisiting that thought, as if it holds some kind of essential truth about who we are about what’s possible. And so, I mean, this is how the sense of self gets constructed, like all of this, you know, and that could be images too, but it’s, um, you know, it’s a very,
Rick Archer: can you give us a concrete example of a specific example? Well, like, are you saying, like, for instance, let’s say your girlfriend broke up with you, or your boyfriend 20 years ago, and you keep dwelling on that or obsessing on that, you know, you’re frozen in a thing that happened two decades ago, and what good is that doing that? Is that a good Exactly?
Kate Gustin: Okay. Yes. Right. And those are the kinds of thoughts that tend to stick right because they, you know, they have personal meaning and, you know, so whatever sort of pain was experienced that breakup gets kind of frozen into, you know, sort of semantic and also nonverbal memory, right? We kind of hold pain cellularly in the body, and we keep revisiting it, it becomes sort of a way of knowing ourselves, like, Oh, I’m the person that was broken up with, or I’m the person who can’t sustain a relationship. And, you know, and these labels and, you know, kind of this, this storyline about ourselves, then just, you know, that’s the self that we’re constructing. And it’s, it’s so outdated, it may be that we went through these experiences, and we had a certain emotion or a certain kind of, you know, kind of conclusion about them, but why are we sort of like posting them like on the wall of the museum and revisiting them as if they represent something about our current day, current moment experience?
Rick Archer: Yeah. And are doing that certainly influences our current experience and our current behavior. So it’s like, we carry all this baggage that has accumulated over the years, and it it definitely influences how the journey is going now.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. And, you know, it really can get in the way. Doesn’t go ahead? Well, I was just gonna, you know, just use it another example, just, you know, five minutes before this interview, I mean, you know, my, my selfing function is alive, and well. And, you know, in the midst of feeling a little nervousness about the interview, you know, it was bringing up certain past experiences of, you know, sort of social blunders and making mistakes. And, you know, if I chose to go with that, and, you know, review that particular wing of the museum, let’s say, I mean, it would really sort of bias my whole sort of nervous system towards a different kind of experience right now. So, you know, I’m just trying to invite people to just make a choice. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I’m glad you mentioned nervous system, because it brings up an interesting mechanics that helps to explain what we just discussed, which is that there’s a sort of an action impression desire cycle that happens, where we have an act, you perform an action or have an experience, it creates an impression in the nervous system, which gets lodged there and may stay there for decades, that and then that impression in the nervous system gives rise to impulses or our desires, which then spur us to further action. And the whole cycle can repeat itself. And obviously, in to take an extreme example, with addiction, it can become very compelling, and very hard to escape from, but it happens with smaller things, too. And there’s probably countless impressions in there. So you know, one of effective spirits effective spiritual practice is to root out these impressions that go Samskaras in Sanskrit, and as they get routed out, they they’re they’re said to be like burnt seeds that can no longer germinate. Ah, and, you know, have weeds springing up. And so there’s no longer any impetus for to action based upon conditioning. Instead, the impetus to action is this more cosmic intelligence that’s much more appropriate to the circumstances, and not based on some past thing.
Kate Gustin: Right, right. Oh, I love the bird seeds. And And essentially, that process is what psychotherapy attempts to do, you know, when when, you know, you know, because we’re speaking about it as if we should know better, but but really, a lot of that kind of conditioning happens to us early in life. Sure, we’re just subjects or something. Oh, absolutely. And it really, you know, in during a very sort of, you know, a time of development, in which, you know, things have quite an impact on just, you know, basic ego functioning. No, it can, it can really disrupt, you know, a person’s autonomic nervous system. And so people, you know, become hardwired to, to be vigilant and to believe that, you know, people are untrustworthy or that circumstances are unsafe, or that there’s something fundamentally wrong with themselves, and then that really does need to be, you know, sort of uprooted. Yeah.
Rick Archer: I know that, during intense spiritual practice, when these impressions start to get released, you can kind of relive a lot of the experiences that had been lodged there. But they’re sort of It’s a sort of a brief reliving that you’re capable of handling at that point. And then you’re done with them. And probably something similar happens in therapy sometimes, right?
Kate Gustin: It will absolutely and there are some techniques such as EMDR, eye movement, desensitization reprocessing, you know, which which really helps the mind body discharged that kind of frozen, you know, belief system or frozen kind of fear response, and not in a reliving. You know, it’s not about re exposing oneself. That’s not where the healing happens. But it’s, you know, you but you do feel some of those same impressions once you discharge them. So you know, it’s not a fun process. has to go through but it really does truly liberate a person of these very early conditionings. Yeah,
Rick Archer: it’s nice to have gone through, but the going through might be a little unpleasant. But yes, worth getting it, getting it over with. Alright, a couple of questions came in, here’s one from Bartholomew in Melbourne, Australia. He asks, so if I’m not the doer, how can quote I have free will? If there is? Well?
Kate Gustin: That is a great question. You know, honestly, there’s different research studies that say different things about this. You know, there are a whole set of studies that show that all, you know, decision making was done even before decisions arrived at sort of the level of you know, the frontal lobes, right. Before you know that you were aware that you were doing that executive functioning. And so it was thought, oh, there is no, you know, freewill. But then other studies have shown actually, you know, it’s a much more integrated process
Rick Archer: that I’ve often heard people cite that study of the impulse to move your arm, you know, happens a second before you actually are aware of it or anything like that. But I’ve heard that also that that was debunked, or that, as you say, it’s more it’s more complicated or nuanced than that.
Kate Gustin: Right. Right, that it was Lizbeth study, and that, you know, some of the methodology of that was called into question, but, you know, I think it’s an an both, I mean, just personally, you know, I think this, this second level of sort of self referencing like that really can influence our decisions. But even before that comes online, there is an impulse, you know, an expression that comes through, even before my mind makes a comment about what I am doing. So, you know, so once that self referential capacity does come up, you know, that that can be part of what determines the behavior. So you’ve got kind of both that’s No, yeah,
Rick Archer: a question came in from Ranjeet, in Irvine, California, which I think takes Bartholomew’s question a step further, which is, he says, How does spiritual realization about the lack of personal will change how you operate in the day to day world? Presuming Of course, that there that we have realized there is no personal well, which I think is still debatable, but go ahead and see what you think about that?
Kate Gustin: Well, I mean, it’s certainly first it humbles oneself. Right? You know, it’s, it’s, you know, the self, if we’re going to personify the self, the self does not like this, you know, the self wants to be in charge. And, you know, there might be sort of a bit of a, you know, kind of rebellious flaring up of the self to sort of prove it’s that much more in charge. But essentially, you know, this is, it’s a relaxing, right, like, you were saying, like, when you break free of that illusion that everything is under your control, there’s a relaxing, and then and then there continues to be an arising of experience of expression. So, you know, I don’t need my self referencing capacity to have to be online for me to really, you know, do anything, you know, it can be part of the conversation. But there’s, there’s sort of a trust that that comes about, like a trust that life is, in fact living itself. You know, if we don’t know, just stop listening to the selfing voice long enough, we can just do that as our own experiment and see, like, you know, is it just, you know, sort of, lack of movement, lack of thought, no, there’s, there is still, you know, a vibrancy that comes through, we’re just not claiming it as our handiwork.
Rick Archer: Yeah, the idea of intuition comes to mind as you say that. And I have a friend who Susanna Murray, who actually has a blog called life living itself, or maybe it’s a podcast, but it’s like, I think that little three word phrase says a lot. It’s his life is living itself. And we’re an instrument through which it’s living, right? Yes. Um, and as that instrument, you know, we have thoughts, we have motivations, we have interests and things, but don’t you get the sense that a lot of these the impulses that that motivate us to act and do things come from some deeper level that we can’t even claim exclusively? We can’t claim ownership of them, right. There’s some like deeper wisdom that is not limited to our individual structure that we become a conduit for. That’s the best I can think of saying it.
Kate Gustin: Well, And I would agree, it’s certainly my own experience in writing this book, it very much felt just like that, you know, my, my ego myself, well, you know, was pretty ambivalent about writing this book, to me the truth, I mean, it’s, I’m really private person, this is the first time I’m coming out is kind of a non dualist in a public forum. And it’s, you know, in from my conventional background, you know, this is this is out there stuff and so, but this, this compulsion to write this and some of the wisdom that came with that, I, it truly was not for myself, I can, I can assure you have that there was something kind of larger at work here. And, you know, I, I think there’s something just intriguing in that mystery, it doesn’t have to be a threat to my personal sense of self, like, you know, both things can coexist and, and just be kind of glad for each other,
Rick Archer: though it is a tree. And you know, a lot of spiritual teachers have spoken about surrender and about service, and, you know, the will of God, you know, just being in tune with the will of God, being a servant to the Divine, and so on. And so that’s what they’re talking about. It’s like, you know, if you get out of the way, then the divine can, don’t want to see us you that sounds a little strange, but you can be what St. Francis said, Lord, make me an instrument of that peace. Yes,
Kate Gustin: yes. Right. And and, you know, there’s something just so graceful in that if the self is willing to surrender a little and not get in the way,
Rick Archer: yeah. And he still said, Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. So there’s a sense of me, there’s a sense of, you know, this body mind that functions, but I want that I want it to function in service of something, you know, profound something. Yes.
Kate Gustin: Right. Right. I mean, you know, we all have our individual personalities and our individual capacities, and that that gets to be put in the service of, you know, again, life serving itself, you know, that there is there’s something, something beyond what our minds can really conceptualize, yeah.
Rick Archer: Nice. So we could shift over to the no self speak section, if you like, but I have anything else that you really want to hit on from the the first section?
Kate Gustin: Um, well, maybe just to say the part about the self dies. You know, because when I write about that, I’m not talking about the body’s death. I mean, that’s kind of a given, although plenty of us are still in denial about that. But I’m talking about the, the self referencing, kind of, you know, the narrative that we have, that that part goes on and offline all the time. You know, so when we’re watching a movie, and really absorbed in it, we’re not coming back to the self storyline and referencing ourselves. And there’s, you know, so you know, it’s dying in terms of, it’s just kind of fading to the backdrop, we’re not identifying with it. And that’s, you know, it’s harmless. And it’s, you know, there’s nothing to have to dread or fear. So, you know, it’s, I just wanted to make a point of that, because it’s very counter to that, that first impulse, which is like, oh, you know, this sense of myself has to be continuous, and it has to be kind of on the front burner, or else, you know, something’s going to be lost. And and it’s just not true. Like, it fades into the backdrop all the time. And we’re no worse for that. In fact, we’re probably, you know, better.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And, I mean, just to take an example, that comes to mind, some great athletes talking about being in the zone. And, you know, when they are there, they’re really at the top of their game, but they’re, they’re kind of like, almost a silent witness to what they’re doing. Yeah, there’s just the sort of beauty and grace and automatic performance, that they are not sort of willing to happen through any kind of cerebral or any other kind of function. There is just, it’s there on autopilot. And they’re there. They’re doing the best, right?
Kate Gustin: Yes. Yes. Same with musicians dance as well. Right. So, you know, so if the self needs to take credit, I mean, yes, there is the, you know, the athletes training and whatever choices were made about, you know, whatever course of, you know, instruction or way of applying, you know, one’s body mind, but, you know, in the moment there there is a mastery there is this, you know, you can you can trust that that life will show itself in some sort of effective or purposeful way.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Actually, just back to the point you’re making about writing the book and how, in a very rare way, you didn’t do it, it was just sort of coming through you. A lot of great artists and writers and so on speak of that. To me. There’s the idea of a muse, you know, and a lot of great composers. say that they’re symphonies, Mozart said sometimes a symphony would just come to him and flash, you’d have the whole thing. And that was just a matter of writing it down. So, I think there does seem to be some higher intelligence, which, you know, we don’t need to think it’s separate from ourselves. You know, I think that’s ultimately what we are. But that only gets impeded by individual monkeying around interference, really?
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. And I think that’s, you know, you know, a lot of writers describe kind of this tortured experience with their writing, and I’m certainly no different from that. But the tortured experience is not the transmission from the muse, the tortured experience is the self stepping in absolutely, with its second guessing. And it’s, you know, just whatever garden variety neurotic dance that it wants to do. And, you know, it’s, you know, it’s, it’s a real practice, as you say, like, you know, to try to detach from that.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s interesting. You know, it’s often said that artists, great artists suffer. And some have said, well, you have to suffer to be a great artist, but maybe what’s really going on is that, you know, something profound is trying to come through, and a lot of suffering is experienced, if there’s garbage in the way because that garbage just sort of being burned or pushed, or, you know, and, and so that kind of, you know, it’s like, trying to put too much voltage through a small wire or something that wire can’t handle it.
Kate Gustin: Right. And, you know, so the willfulness versus the willingness, right, like, are we is the self trying to willfully manipulate what is coming through? That’s the recipe for suffering? Or can we take a stance of some willingness, you know, some humility, surrender, and just just allowance to be, you know, the conduit, you know, without it, you know, having to sort of take away away whatever appropriate pride there is in the accomplishment, you know, that could still stand, but just, you know, allowing for, you know, this truce to express itself, it doesn’t have to be tortured.
Rick Archer: Good, that these is an important point, you know, because I think this, that’s a kind of a trope, if that’s the right word, just a popular assumption, that there’s a correlation between creativity and suffering. And I think that’s something that should be put to rest, you know, it doesn’t really doesn’t have to be that way.
Kate Gustin: Right, right. Or just some, the way some people had assumed like, you have to go through tremendous, like, suicidal suffering to have a spiritual awakening. And we know that that’s just not true. No,
Rick Archer: yeah. I think, well, in terms of that specific example, I think a lot of times people create a lot of suffering, if they’re on a spiritual path, by being fanatical about it, and by being kind of like, you know, effort, far more effort, effortful than they should be, as opposed to taking a more natural approach, and just so relaxing and allowing, allowing nature to conduct the process.
Kate Gustin: Right, right. Yeah. Cuz I mean, I don’t think are self trying to, again, to will, you know, to manipulate something into awakening. I mean, that that’s probably going to be counterproductive. Yeah. Yeah.
Rick Archer: A good example of that is like if, as a quoted the Yoga Sutras earlier, you know, yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Let’s say you have a pan full of water, and it has ripples in it, and you want the water to come still unclear. You don’t start pushing on the ripples. Because you’re only more roubles. You just sort of allow the pan to settle down.
Kate Gustin: Ah, that’s great. Right. Yeah. And then bring that into my clinical practice. That’s lovely. Yeah. Because I mean, it’s just so true.
Rick Archer: Yeah. All right. So then, this this part two of your book is it’s a nice collection of how one might function as no self. And again, sometimes it’s confusing, because some sometimes we refer to no self anata in Buddhism, or sometimes in Hinduism. It’s called sell for the capitalist. But I think we’re talking about the same thing here. Yeah, Higher Self deeper self universal self, whatever. So are there a few like little nuggets out of there that you’d like to elaborate on?
Kate Gustin: Hmm. Well, I think a helpful one is no self no judgment. Right. You know, there’s, I think one of the fears people have is, you know, if I don’t, you know, identify with my thoughts and my opinions and my preferences, I’m going to be this bland wash of passivity. You know, I’m not going to have any kind of direction or any angle to who I am. And that’s not true. Right. There is a you know, there is a personality, there are preferences that emerge. You know, abiding as this sort of clean slate of consciousness, it just means that you don’t have to have some kind of agenda. You don’t have to, you know, Judge good or bad. You know, you can still have preferences, there’s still sort of a certain kind of inclination towards action. But judgment about No, you know, other people are right, what’s right or wrong, like those things can soften. And it just, you know, again, it frees people up to be much more a willing sort of participant kind of willing interface with with life on its own terms, rather than trying to impose one’s judgment and one’s kind of manipulation. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And yeah, I can think of a couple of concrete examples. I mean, we’re talking earlier about how if one is attached to one’s opinions, and so on, and tries to, if one tries to make absolutes of them, then those absolutes, we didn’t put it quite nice terms, but then those absolutes are going to clash with everybody else’s opinions, because opinions are not absolute. They’re, they’re relative, but if you make them absolute, they’re gonna conflict with everything else. But like, for instance, I have this friend named Phil Scott, who’s been on that gap. And he had all kinds of health problems. And he feels that he’s cured himself by adopting a completely carnivorous diet, he eats nothing but meat. And he recently gave a talk to a group of vegans, it was sort of a supposed to be a kind of a debate. And, you know, people in the audience were just going bananas, you know, yelling and screaming, and not letting him get a word in edgewise, just being utterly fanatical. And he said, that kind of thing. Yeah. And he seemed to be reasonable enough sitting on stage, you know, you know, let me answer the question, and, but like, people were very attached to that particular opinion. And you see the same politics and religion, and any number of areas.
Kate Gustin: Right, I mean, there’s just, you know, the more attached you are to these thoughts, and the more you elevate them to the rank of ideas, beliefs, universal truths, you know, then the more conflict there is, you know, but stepping away from that doesn’t make us you know, kind of brainless zombies. I mean, we, you know, we still can, yeah, we still have our opinions, I’ll still, you know, sort of champion a certain cause, and maybe not another cause. But it doesn’t mean I have to be in opposition, I see this all as the play of form, right, you know, whole array of different kinds of views. I’m not going to judge one as I don’t know, sort of God’s will and something is not that, you know, that would be so presumptuous. So,
Rick Archer: I’ll give you another example, I have a good friend named Alex to charis, who is the host of the skeptical podcast, and he thinks climate change is some kind of a hoax of global warming. And I think I feel like it’s the worst problem facing mankind. And, you know, we have debates about it, we, I’ve been on this show talking about it, and everything else, and we never see eye to eye, but I love the guy. No, he’s a good friend, I don’t have to think he’s evil, or, or crazy, or stupid or anything else. This just gives us some kind of grist for the mill in terms of things to, to entertain ourselves with, trying to work it work out our differences.
Kate Gustin: Exactly, exactly. It doesn’t have to be, you know, a threat to yourself, you know, I mean, assuming that you take hold yourself a little lighter.
Rick Archer: Good point. I mean, if you define yourself as what you believe, then anybody who disagrees with your beliefs is a threat to you, you know, they’re not just another threat to your belief, they’re a threat to you, because you think you are your beliefs.
Kate Gustin: That’s right. That’s why That’s why this is so revolutionary for people to dis diversify from their beliefs. I mean, it’s suddenly, oh, just bring some breathing room in, you know, there can be some sort of negotiation, some genuine like, you know, Respect for others beliefs, knowing that they are all of the same thoughts substance, you know, if we can still feel feel strongly and impassioned, but it really doesn’t have to be an annihilation of selves in the process.
Rick Archer: Yeah. See how, you know, if, I mean, here’s a perfect example of how what you’re advocating in this book, would be of tremendous practical significance, let’s say in politics, where there’s such polarization, nobody can talk to each other, and nobody can accomplish anything. And, you know, or in these debates, but abortion or gun laws, or gun rights, and all that stuff, if there actually are groups is a group in my town, which is organized by a couple of friends of mine, who, who get all these liberal and conservative people together in one room. And then they have this whole method of enabling them to actually talk to each other and appreciate each other’s perspective. I forget what it’s called, they have a website about and everything. But I think that would be greatly facilitated by being able to sort of relax into, you know, true universality, which actually, by definition contains all Individual expressions. And your your particular individual expression may still lean in a particular direction, but actually deeper nature of what you are contains all individual expressions and concluding those which don’t concur with with your individual preferences.
Kate Gustin: Right, right. And you know, and you can see that some of the work that’s been done, like Fred Luskin his work around forgiveness, you know, the methodology he uses, I mean, he brings together people, you know, different sides of the conflict from Rwanda, or from, you know, Northern Ireland, I mean, people who have lost loved ones in the same room with, you know, those from the, you know, opposition. And he takes him through a process of forgiveness, that that’s about helping people basically detached from their own stressful thoughts, like, you know, you know, not holding on to the grievance story, because it’s so toxic to the one who holds that story. So the forgiveness has nothing to do with you know, did you get an appropriate apology, you know, we’re amends made, no, that I mean, you know, that can be with reconciliation, but, but, you know, within one’s heart, you know, forgiveness and healing comes from letting go of the selfs attachment to the story of having been wronged. I mean, the, the fact was that these harms have been done. So it’s not a minimizing or condoning of that at all, but just the selves sort of attachment to that as a way of, you know, holding the grievance story, that that’s the work that’s done. And people can do that inner work, and then come together. So you’re not needing to extract something from someone else for your own, you know, healing. It’s remarkable.
Rick Archer: Yeah, someone got in touch with me a couple years ago, who’s doing something like that with Israelis and Palestinians, and achieving great results. But it brings up an interesting point, which is that I mean, all kinds of groups like that are great, and that more of that should be done. And I know there are popular movements to get people to do that kind of thing, whatever the polarization we’re talking about. But I think more fundamentally, we need to infuse into collective consciousness, more of this unified value of the no self, as you call it, or universal consciousness or whatever. I think that as that gets more and more and more enlivened in collective consciousness, then quite spontaneously, many differences will kind of melt away, or, or become harmonized, and people might begin to wonder why we’re making such a fuss, you know, what, we could have sorted this out a long time ago.
Kate Gustin: Right? Well, and and, you know, given that we can’t necessarily speed the pace of that, I mean, you know, you know, writing these books, having these dialogues on these forums, you know, hopefully is doing that it is helping, but, you know, simultaneously, you know, let’s, let’s just have all approaches at one side, I don’t know, I’m feeling a bit of a sense of urgency around sort of what’s happening at the global level here. So I, you know, I appreciate everybody contributing as as they can.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I totally agree. I don’t think it has to be either or, but, but it needs to be all because he tried to just do, let’s say, the, the meetings with, or without the sort of the deeper spiritual exploration that needs to be much more widespread. Or if you just do the spiritual exploration, but you don’t, you know, take steps to promote alternative energy or whatever the relative thing is, that you’re, it’s just not a complete solution, I think.
Kate Gustin: Right, right. Cuz I mean, you know, I think this fundamental sort of myth of self and, you know, buying into some separation, I think that’s the root of most of these problems. Right? So we can, you know, we can kind of keep cultivating the garden, but if we’re not really pulling out some of these, these weeds at the root, it’s, it’s gonna do complicating things.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Yeah. One metaphor I’ve used before comes to mind here is that, you know, if you can somehow make the ground of a forest, let’s say, more nutrient rich, then, you know, all plants will thrive, not necessarily in competition with one another, they’ll all just thrive because they’re all deriving more nutrients from their roots. And so, I think that kind of pertains to this whole discussion. If, if the collective consciousness could be more infused with, you know, this deeper thing we’re talking about, then all cultures will will be enriched or peoples or, you know, and disharmony, I think will naturally begin to dissipate as a result of that because a more unified value will begin to percolate into all the more expressed values.
Kate Gustin: Right? Well, and with that metaphor, it’s the idea that when people can tap into this rich kind of ground of what they are, then it doesn’t activate the individual. You know, the level illusionary really sort of built up a survival mechanism, right? You know, that feeling of competing for resources or scarcity or, you know, just, you know, my needs versus your needs, like if people really can tap into sort of the, this rich, fertile kind of foundation, then, you know, it’s that can ease up and then you know, we can bring our kind of higher level faculties, the problem solving table.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I mean, it becomes a matter of your needs are, are my needs, because we’re, we’re all one essentially. Exactly, exactly. Whatsoever you do unto the least of these you do unto me. Yes. Nice, okay, we’ve got all the world’s problems figured out. So. So what are some other little tidbits from the no self speaks section that we could play with? See?
Kate Gustin: Well, I mean, you know, I talk about no self no aging, that’s kind of the counterpoint to the the self dies part, you know, the, you know, the sense that, you know, this, this field of consciousness, that we are this awareness, it’s primordial, it’s, it’s, unlike the self, it doesn’t kind of come online or not, it’s not like a hardwired kind of capacity in the brain that gets activated with certain neuronal activity. You know, this whole premise of this book is that consciousness is, is not an emergent quality, or feature of the material brain that, you know, consciousness is sort of the, the fundamental context, source and substance and, you know, everything sort of emerges out of that. So that mean, that’s, you know, that’s quite a
Rick Archer: brain, property of the of consciousness, that’s actually the way it is.
Kate Gustin: Right. And so from that, from that, understanding, that, you know, there is no aging or death. Right, from, you know, from the self view, the, the, the storyline, and from the body mind, you know, you know, death is, you know, kind of part of the curriculum, it’s kind of what you get.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s been so long, I think, you know, when I first kind of started getting into spirituality, I was a teenager, and teenagers don’t think they’re gonna die anyway. So I don’t ever remember having a time in my life when I feared death, because once I got into spirituality, began to sort of tune me into something which can’t die. And I never got through that phase. But, you know, I think a lot of people do, I think there’s a, I remember hearing about Raymond Massey, Who Played Perry Mason, and those old Perry Mason shows. So if you’re afraid of death, when he was actually dying, he tried to sort of sit on the edge of his bed and not lie down for fear that he would he would die sooner. So I mean, it seems to me that if a person if they think there’s nothing after death, and it’s just lights out, and you cease to exist, that some people seem to have a problem with that Sam Harris talks about that. And so no big deal. I think it might be, it might evoke a fear, because there’s, you know, this sort of a natural, because it’s wrong. For instance, for one thing, we do continue and to think that we’re going to cease to exist, clashes with reality. But yeah, take it from here, I could throw in a few more points. But what do you say about that?
Kate Gustin: Well, there’s some interesting studies that I cite at the back of the book about death fears, and that there really is, you know, our brains are designed to actually scan for signals, you know, any sort of subtle signals that, you know, show some potential threat about, you know, annihilation, that the mind will go to those much faster than any other kind of mental content. So I think, you know, just, you know, again, evolution has designed us be on the lookout for this because we are sort of survival focus. Yes, yes. It’s adaptive to you know, one put your energy towards the living rather than, you know, the understanding of the ending, but in terms of, you know, I, I think unless people have had some true experiential, no self kind of moment, and it just feels to conceptual that we’re not going to die. You know, I just
Rick Archer: yeah. I’ve interviewed a number of near death experience people and also read some books, but by others whom I haven’t interviewed, and almost universally, they they say, no worries is I actually I’m not, I don’t have a death wish, but I look forward to dying because it’s so beautiful. On the other side, yeah, yeah. So
Kate Gustin: yeah, I think it’s one of the studies I cited, I can’t remember the exact number but something like 20% of people have had those kinds of experiences. You know, it’s not really that that small a fraction but, you know, because it’s not talked about or just I don’t know where We’re such a youth based culture that, you know, as we approach later stages of life, just, we’re just trying to, you know, just feel so aversive, you know. I mean, a lot of my clients are 60s 70s 80s. And this, this is very much what, you know, what the next chapter entails, like an exploration of what does this mean to you? What, what are your hopes or beliefs or fears? And, you know, everybody has their own point of view. Yeah, um,
Rick Archer: but, yeah, in terms of your book here, the main point is that, you know, that there is a level of what we are, that never dies. Yes. And if we can know ourselves is that then, as it says, in the Gita, none can work the destruction of this immutable being. And it also says in the Gita, a little, just a little of this Dharma eliminates great fear.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. And then that, and certainly has been my personal experience as well. Again, if I didn’t have a personal taste of that, I would feel like I’m just playing around concepts. Yes. Yeah. So I, you know, I think in this book, you know, especially if this is a person who’s not well versed in these ideas, like I think the hardest part to try to engage with will be the parts about no self no aging, I just tried my best to try to explain that. But it’s, it’s a little hard without being able to sort of give the person the experiential component. Yeah. Well,
Rick Archer: that’s actually how we started out today’s talking about this, the importance of the experiential component, because unless you can dip into that all these things are just a lot of words, you know,
Kate Gustin: right. Right. Yeah. So.
Rick Archer: So I would recommend that people explore what what sort of practice or approach works for them to to enliven that experience, because it’s definitely an live animal, it’s definitely possible. Anyone can have it, no one is incapable. And that’s a matter of finding what what you can work into your, you know, what you can find, then seek and you shall find them and just, there’s a lot of things out there, and many of them are effective. And, you know, hopefully, we’re motivating people to, to take that route.
Kate Gustin: Yes, I hope so. And yeah, yeah. I mean, my hope, again, with this book is that it’s, you know, for folks who aren’t really sort of spiritually oriented like this, you know, this allowed them to come into contact with something that’s true about themselves, that, you know, it is sort of down to earth language around it so that it doesn’t have to seem so esoteric or off putting or, or out there. Yeah. Yeah.
Rick Archer: And, you know, there’s a lot of concepts that 3040 50 years ago, seemed really esoteric, and off putting it out there. I mean, the very notion of meditation was weird. Or Yoga, you know, it’s weird. And these days, it’s like, yeah, sure. Meditation, everybody does it, you know, they do it in corporations. And so, you know, the stuff if we’re like, on the cutting edge of, you know, what’s considered weird right now, wait 10 years? It’ll be kind of, you know, more normal.
Kate Gustin: Wouldn’t that be great if that was sort of the conventional reality that everybody knew that they were fundamentally of the same? And, you know, that this kind of, you know, pervasive loneliness and divisiveness? It just, I don’t know, it just kind of fell away. Yeah. That would be great.
Rick Archer: I think it will. I don’t know the timeline. But I think we’re definitely moving in that direction. And I think there’s going to be huge societal changes, and we’ll, we’ll come out the other end with this sort of thing becoming the norm.
Kate Gustin: Ah, I hope so. I hope so.
Rick Archer: So there’s a third section in your book, entitled to self or not yourself that question whether it is nobler in the mind? Yeah. Yeah. And that, take us into a little bit of that what you’re talking about there?
Kate Gustin: All right. Well, I mean, you know, my intention is not to proselytize. I mean, even though of course, it is, you know, the book is set up, you know, with having no self appear the, you know, the better option. Clearly, I really do want to invite, you know, the readers to contemplate for themselves, what’s in their best interest, you know, if they find that, you know, attaching firmly to a storyline that their mind generates about who they are, if that works for them, that they probably wouldn’t even be reading this kind of book, but, you know, go for it, right. Like, you know, nothing’s going to be sort of taken away. There is no sort of absolute right or wrong here. So it’s really helping people sort of evaluate Well, how would I even determine whether selfing is been useful or not? Not so they’re you know, they’re different sort of questions in terms of, you know, like, how much piece does yourself really afford you? Right? Or how much does yourself even like itself? You know, I mean, just just basic questions in terms of day to day, like, when you keep the story of yourself like, you know, how’s that working for you? You know, the Dr. Phil kind of question?
Rick Archer: Well, your book points out pretty well, especially in the first part of it, that doesn’t work for people very well. And it shows examples of, you know, which I think most people can relate to, of why it doesn’t work. So I think you make the case. Yeah.
Kate Gustin: All right. And then you know, and then in this last section, just also trying to give examples of, to what is the, you know, smart selfing, this, this action of, you know, choosing to shift out of self identification, and into no self, or at least just, even just the DIS identification with self is a shift, even if, you know, people are like, like, you know, what is this you know, sort of this ground of being, that’s okay, just it’s enough to sort of set down the story of oneself, just in doing that. There’s benefit. And so, you know, I just go through different examples during the day, like, when you wake up in the morning, what’s an example of selfing, versus what’s an example coming back to no self or eating a meal, and just to make it a little bit more tangible? You know, and it’s essentially about people sort of selfing judiciously and allowing, you know, and a buy into their thoughts when it actually serves them. Versus autopilot, and reactivity, and, you know, emotion driven?
Rick Archer: Yeah. I think that, you know, the, the recommendations you offer, can actually have an effect, I mean, just this whole discussion we’re having and just reading your book, can enable people to take a step back, and not be so convinced, by their ordinary level of way of functioning, you know, not be so invested in it, just to kind of recognize vision of possibilities, that there’s another way of functioning, if we want to put it that way. But just the initial glimpse, is not the full realization, just as you can see a little bit at 5am, when the when dawn starts to break, you can see your way around a little bit, but it’s not like noon in terms of the bright sunlight.
Kate Gustin: Right. And that’s why I don’t use any words about you know, awakening enlightenment.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, because down the line down the road, yeah,
Kate Gustin: and this is, you know, this is primarily sort of a psychological kind of book, you know, even though I’m, you know, a psychology only goes so far. So I’m trying to, you know, sort of bring in, you know, another sort of truth of who and what we are, but, you know, it’s it’s primarily through the workings of our mind. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Well, it’s like you said in the beginning, it’s, you know, it’s not supposed to be, you know, the Brahma sutras or something, it’s not some kind of Ultimate Teaching, but it’s, it’s an introduction, that people that there’s another way of being and you know, that you are not necessarily you’re more than you think you are, yes, or less than you think you are, everyone. Exactly. So it’s kind of like, you know, alerting them to that possibility.
Kate Gustin: Right. Right. And then just seeing sort of the, you know, the implications of that, you know, on a larger scale. Yeah. Like, the, the battle, yes. Right. I mean, just, you know, in terms of individual functioning and relationships and how you approach the job, but also in terms of how countries get along with people, you know, just all the different levels. Yeah, yeah, it’s relevant
Rick Archer: to everything. Yes, yes, one little proviso I would throw in is that there have been instances in which people have taken these kinds of understandings. And it has brought about some kind of disassociation or spiritual bypassing, you know, ah, and sort of a disingenuousness where they kind of mistake understanding for actual realization, and then they they be, they behave more unnaturally. Have you run into that?
Kate Gustin: I have in the county in which I live, I have run into that a lot. You know, I mean, people are, you know, real spiritual seekers. And, you know, and that what goes with that is that there’s, there’s the risk for some spiritual materialism and a certain kind of pretense of how to be you know, and, you know, you can you can feel it when you encounter it, and it’s, you know, everybody just has their best attempt at trying to sort of apply these truths, but sometimes it’s not from the inside out. Sometimes it’s, you know, it’s from the ego and it it’s a little hard to be around.
Rick Archer: I laugh just now because I thought of JP Sears, you know, JP Sears.
Kate Gustin: Ah, oh, yeah, he wrote the foreword to the book actually. Oh, that’s right. Of course. Yes, he
Rick Archer: did. Yeah, it was a very funny forward and, and he’s been on that gap and he has this whole, you know, ultra spiritual thing where he kind of is a parody. And But anyway, he lampoon’s that, that tendency to try to affect spirituality and not have it be as opposed to genuine development?
Kate Gustin: Yeah. Oh my gosh, I love his Ultra spirituality thing. And I think I watched the interview you did with them. It’s just hysterical. And, you know, and it helps us laugh at ourselves. Right? Because sometimes, you know, the Self does like to, you know, kind of capitalize on on this, you know, it’s, you know, again, we’re going to personify the self, it sees that it’s days are numbered, so to speak. Right. So, you know, it’s going to sort of join in with sort of the spiritual Lising of itself, you know, to sort of hunker down and, you know, that just complicates things.
Rick Archer: Yeah. It’s an interesting point. I mean, here, we’re talking about something which should ideally, liberate one from the confines of, of, you know, smallness, of sort of a obsessiveness and individuality, but actually can be used to reinforce it. And, you know, just put more decorations on it. But, yeah, and, yeah, so I suppose the takeaway is, that this is a very important thing. And don’t let it just be one more thing to.
Kate Gustin: Yeah, notch on the ground. All right,
Rick Archer: the small self, you know, dig deeper than that.
Kate Gustin: Yes, this is not yet the next accomplishment, you know, in the way of sort of proving that the self has worth, yeah, that that is not what this is in service of. But, you know, it’s, it’s sort of their game, I mean, cells will appropriate what they will, so,
Rick Archer: yeah. And often people go through a stage like that, and then they grow out of it.
Kate Gustin: Yeah, yeah. And, you know, and probably, unknowingly, I’ve encountered a lot of people who unknowingly sort of take that on, but you know, to compensate what, for whatever insecurity or whatever, you know, working through that they’re in process with so it’s, you know, it’s, you know, everybody’s just trying to find whatever means to sort of land towards some from the fulfillment.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Is there any other point in that section that you want to highlight, to suffer?
Kate Gustin: Well, you know, I kind of bring up the acting as if method and, you know, truthfully, I was really trying to, you know, I think this is sort of the challenge with a lot of teachings, like, you know, how do you offer people kind of entry into something that, you know, in some sense is sort of grace given. But the acting as if like, what do you lose, right, by sort of, you know, if I were to go through my life, maybe assuming that I am the same consciousness as the person I’m looking at, I don’t lose anything by that, even if it doesn’t seem like the true visceral experience I’m having, it’s a bridge, it’s a way to help me just know, be be more open to the that, that knowing, right? So you know, so I bring it up as a tool. But with some reservations, like, you know, when psychotherapy, you know, if a person is struggling with, let’s say, social anxiety, and, you know, assigning them the task of acting as if they’re confident, I mean, it’s, you know, it’s a bit of a manipulation, clearly, but to the extent that then the actual experience, they’re able to sort of get in touch with a genuine sense of presence. That’s real. And then that can be built upon. So, you know, some of the means aren’t, I don’t know, they’re, they’re not as good as I would hope they could be.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’m reminded of that song from the King and I, you know, that when I won’t sing it, but whenever I feel afraid, I hold my head erect, and whistle happy tune and no one, I’m afraid.
Kate Gustin: Right. And this is where like, positive psychology gets a bad name, you know, people feel like we’re just kind of, you know, sort of fluffing over things. And that’s not really true. But, you know, sometimes it’s, you know, if you’ve gone through a lot of hardship and a lot of conditioning of the self, it’s a little bit hard to just mark self than shift into no self like, it’s, you know, there has to be
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s a progressive development, you’re not gonna turn on a dime. There’s a lot of that conditioning we talked about earlier. Yeah, it’s gonna take a while to work that out. But I think that, that as if then you just said is, is has merit. Like if, if nothing else, it might make us more empathetic, you know, we kind of realize that that person is me ultimately, and they’re, they’re seeing, I mean, it’s the same ultimate self seeing through different eyes. And what you know, again, what you do to another you’re doing to yourself, if we can just culture, that awareness, that might make us more compassionate or more sensitive or less likely to hurt others in any way.
Kate Gustin: Right, right. And empathy you know, is tough. with all sorts of good, beneficial, you know, oxytocin and hormones and you know, you know, when we access empathy, like, there’s such a such a reward, you know, and how we feel. So it does become reinforcing. You know, I mean, the point of this isn’t necessarily for the individuals gain, it’s just to, you know, be able to access sort of the truth, but just, you know, for people to know, there’s something that’s gonna be good for them, as they, you know, sort of, I don’t know, entertain the possibility of all this. Yeah.
Rick Archer: Yeah, you know, they say, it’s more blessed to give than to receive, but I think, actually don’t want to make that sound mercenary, but when you give, you do actually receive more than when you don’t give. And this would probably mean giving in any sense, but so it does benefit the giver.
Kate Gustin: Oh, yes, yes. And it’s, um, you know, I always bring the researching, because I’m a little bit of a, like a data nerd. But, you know, all the studies on on giving, you know, people are happier when they give money versus when they receive the same amount of money. You know, the volunteers, you know, the people who, who received help from volunteers, obviously, benefit, but the greatest benefit comes to the volunteers themselves. I mean, it’s actually, you know, prolongs a person’s lifespan, to be giving in that way. So
Rick Archer: and save as definitely a spiritual tradition, you know, selfless service. And it’s said to be a powerful spiritual practice, because it kind of attenuates the ego it sort of diminishes the the me focus when when we’re focused on benefiting others.
Kate Gustin: Yes, yes. And it’s, you know, and it just feels really good. I mean, just, you know, they’ve even done research. That’s true. You know, looked at what’s the neuronal firing, firing, when we’re attending to other people versus attending to ourselves. And, you know, there’s much more activation of just like our reward systems when we’re other focused than when we’re focused on ourselves. I mean, it’s, yeah, the board designed it this way. Nice. Yeah. Yeah.
Rick Archer: So you just mentioned that you’re kind of a science nerd. And in the final section of your book, you have a whole thing called, what do you call it?
Kate Gustin: It’s me search me.
Rick Archer: But anyway, it’s a whole lot of references to different types of research that have been done, which kind of support the conclusions that you draw in the book. So that’s for those just to let people know what’s in the book for for those who have that. That bends, you’ll find all kinds of references in there sort of buttress the arguments you make during the book?
Kate Gustin: Yeah. And it was it was kind of fun to, you know, scan through that research and see what’s what’s out there. Yeah. Yeah. Good.
Rick Archer: already. So there you are in the Bay Area in Northern California. And you’re you have a clinical practice, you work with people. Do you just do that in the office? Or do you do it over Skype also?
Kate Gustin: Right now, it’s just in person, but it’s soon it’ll be over Skype. All right.
Rick Archer: So people listening to this, and this will be up for years, they could always just get in touch with you and see if you’re doing things over Skype if if they don’t live in the Bay Area.
Kate Gustin: Yes, exactly. And there are some workshops that are in the process of being created now sort of no self help workshops. So I’m not exactly sure you know, what venues but, you know, I’ll be posting that on the website, the no self help.com website, as that gets figured out. Okay.
Rick Archer: And so I will post links to that, and, and to your other website, on your page on bat gap calm, and I’ll post a link to your book.
Kate Gustin: All right. Well, thank you so much. Gosh, it’s such a pleasure to talk with you.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Thanks, Kate. I really enjoyed the whole thing. Ah, let me just make a wrap up point here. So all right, I’ve just been speaking with Kate gustan. And if you would like to find out more about her, just go to her page on batgap.com, which will be linked to if you’re just watching this on YouTube, there will be a link to it in the description underneath the video. And then you can jump from there to her or websites. Also, we have a Facebook page where every time I do an interview, I set up a post so people can discuss that particular interview. So if you’d like to, it’s more manageable than having a discussion on YouTube that gets kind of out of hand. But if so, but if you’d like to discuss this, go head to BatGap COMM to Kate’s page, and then link from there, you can jump from there to the Facebook discussion group about this particular interview. So thanks for listening to watching everybody. And thank you again, Kate. Thank you all See you all next week.