Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people. I have done over 500 of them, so if this is new to you, and you would like to check out previous ones, please go to BatGap.com and look under the Past Interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. If you appreciate it and want to help support it, there is a PayPal button on every website page.
My guest today is Kylea Taylor. Kylea found gaps in ethics education in the early 1990s while simultaneously studying to be a Marriage and Family Therapist and working as a Senior Trainer at the Grof Transpersonal Training®, where she assisted Stanislav Grof in training practitioners of Holotropic Breathwork. She observed that working with clients in non-ordinary states of consciousness requires different ethical awarenesses. She drew upon the tenets of several great religions to create InnerEthics®, a model for ethical self-reflection. The model clarifies the unique ethical territory of understanding and working skillfully with people who are experiencing profound and extraordinary states of consciousness and provides a scaffolding for recognizing our semi-conscious inner motivations as practitioners, teachers, and caregivers in order to avoid client and student harm and increase client and student benefit. Her book, The Ethics of Caring: Finding Right Relationships with Clients, illustrates transference, countertransference, power dynamics, dual relationship, and other topics important to relational ethics. The book won a 2017 Nautilus [Silver] Book Award in the category “Relationships and Communication.” Kylea teaches, writes, and consults about ethics. She is currently President and Co-Founder of SoulCollage Inc, which has been training SoulCollage® Facilitators worldwide since 2003 to share an expressive arts method that promotes deep self-discovery, individually and in community. Her focus as a therapist has been on assisting clients in integrating the meaning and extraordinary gifts of spiritual emergence, awakening, or transpersonal experiences and what she calls “personal paradigm shift” phenomena. Her website is https://kyleataylor.com/
Rick Archer: Welcome, Kylea.
Kylea Taylor: It’s good to be with you, Rick.
Rick Archer: Listeners and viewers of this show will know that I’m interested in this topic, and I was instrumental in helping found the Association for Spiritual Integrity. I’ve given talks and moderated panel discussions on this topic at the SAND Conference. I’m sure that I’ll reiterate some of the reasons why I am interested during this conversation. First, I’d like to ask how did you get interested in ethics in the first place?
Kylea Taylor: The short answer is that I made a lot of mistakes, and I got curious when I made mistakes. I wondered how that happened. What were my motivations? I had to find my way from shame and blame to self-compassion and discover my vulnerable motivations so that I could avoid making those mistakes again. I saw many other people that I respected who were also making mistakes. The situation that got my attention was a woman therapist who made a big ethical mistake and lost everything, her license, her house, and all her money. What I realized then, as you said in my Bio, was that traditional ethics education, the laws, the codes, and the standards of care, were incomplete without including attention to inner motivations. Our fears and desires can be semi-conscious and unconscious, and they can be very compelling and override our cognitive, ethical self. I became interested in this area of ethics and went on to create the InnerEthics® model, which is a toolkit to help professionals and responsible parties caring for others to increase their ethical awareness and prevent harm, even unintentional harm.
Rick Archer: You’re a professional licensed therapist so you’ve had a certain degree of ethical training, perhaps, in your education, and you’ve probably agreed to a code of ethics in order to become licensed and so on. Right?
Kylea Taylor: Yes, absolutely.
Rick Archer: There is no formal structure in the spiritual community for the most part. Although certain Buddhist Sanghas, like Spirit Rock and the Diamond Approach, do have a code of ethics and fairly rigorous criteria that one has to meet in order to become a representative or teacher in that school. Basically, the whole spiritual community is kind of like the wild, wild west. There is no formal training, certification, or oversight of any kind. People just do whatever they are inclined to do, making it incumbent upon students to determine a teacher’s legitimacy. There have been many cases where students have been hurt by teacher misbehavior. I could get on my soapbox and continue, but I’d like to hear your comments.
Kylea Taylor: I think what you did with ASI, creating a code of ethics, especially the guidelines for students, is a great first step. I think we must get to critical mass and become a culture where people expect professionals to be more honest, to do self-reflection, and to be open to feedback. This is my mission, the greater mission, I think, to change the ethos of our culture in this direction.
Rick Archer: Yes. There’s a wind at your back these days with the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, and so on. Many people are just fed up with the kind of misbehavior that’s been going on.
Kylea Taylor: That’s right. When I first came up with this model there was little interest. We sent out one flyer to massage schools, and they were interested. In twenty years we sold 20,000 copies of the first book without any other advertising, but there was no critical mass in any other community.
Rick Archer: Part of the reason I think this is so important, perhaps I’m naive or overly optimistic, but I think that spirituality, as I understand it, and as we often discuss it on this program, is very fundamental and pivotal in helping to bring about a change that the world very much needs to undergo. It could be, not to get melodramatic, that the whole fate of humanity hangs in the balance, and that a spiritual awakening is critical in helping that fate to go in a positive direction. I think the spiritual community shoots itself in the foot when its representatives or leaders misbehave. It’s almost as if inner sabotage is taking place that can handicap the effort. What do you think about that?
Kylea Taylor: It’s not only the misbehaving, but it’s more about not owning the misbehaving.
Rick Archer: Right, rationalizing.
Kylea Taylor: Not accepting feedback about things that they can’t or don’t want to see, and not changing because they’re not modeling development for their students.
Rick Archer: What do you mean by not modeling development for their students?
Kylea Taylor: Not modeling growing and learning how to be in a relationship with other people and with the world. That’s what spirituality is about, learning how to relate in this world of duality with other beings and other things, treating them as you would want to be treated, and understanding why that’s important.
Rick Archer: Maybe that’s something the teacher has not learned properly, or otherwise he or she would be modeling it. Right?
Kylea Taylor: People develop more strongly in different ways at different times, and there may be a relational impediment in some way with some people.
Rick Archer: Ken Wilber has his lines of development model where we can be quite advanced along certain lines and rather stunted along other lines. A person could have attained a somewhat significant awakening or higher level of consciousness and yet still be a real jerk in other respects.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, that’s right. I was thinking about Ken when I said that.
Rick Archer: Some blowback that I’ve gotten regarding this whole topic and my involvement in the ASI is a sort of knee-jerk reaction like, ‘what is this, the God Squad? Who do you guys think you are to pass judgment on people? Who’s to say what’s right and wrong? Do you think you’re holier than thou?’ Have you run into that kind of mentality?
Kylea Taylor: Yes, I have run into it within myself. When someone first asked me to be on an ethics committee I said no, and I think a lot of people feel that way. They don’t want to be righteous. Perhaps part of them wants to be righteous, but generally, they don’t want to be righteous and say that someone else is wrong. They don’t want to be controlled by other people, and they are defensive about the skeletons in their closets. I was.
Rick Archer: Righteousness is almost synonymous with hypocrisy because there have been so many self-righteous people who have been guilty of the very things that they’re railing about from the pulpit or their teaching platform.
Kylea Taylor: Yes. I think ethics is one of the most interesting things in life. If you’re enamored of any TV series, for example, it’s full of ethical dilemmas, which is the interesting stuff. It’s what turns you on, what turns you off, and what conflicts you have, which is a path to self-discovery. I think that’s why spiritual systems, like the Yamas and the Niyamas, the precepts in Buddhism, and the commandments in Christianity and the Koran, all begin the spiritual path with things that you have to follow. What happens is that you come into conflict because part of you doesn’t want to do them. Then you discover more about yourself and gradually purify your ability to be in relationship.
Rick Archer: Some say that we can only act according to our level of consciousness and that you can give people all the precepts in the world, but they won’t be able to follow them if their level of consciousness is not sufficiently well developed. There’s that saying, “What would Jesus do?” My response is that you would have to be Jesus to know. You still might do something different because even if you’re at his level of consciousness, you’re a different person and might behave differently in different circumstances.
Kylea Taylor: But you are learning as you go, hopefully. I guess the consciousness part is about how open you are to learning and to what I refer to as my motto in InnerEthics®: “Make new mistakes.” In other words, make new mistakes instead of making the same old ones all the time.
Rick Archer: Yes, obviously, don’t make them intentionally just for the heck of it to see what that mistake would feel like but try to avoid making mistakes while realizing you’re going to be fallible.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, it was tongue-in-cheek.
Rick Archer: I think many people would argue that right and wrong are relative terms related to the context of different cultures. For instance, some cultures might say there’s nothing wrong with polygamy while others would say that there is. There are things in the Bible, particularly some chapters in Leviticus, which would be downright illegal and considered barbaric in our society. Yet they’re in the Bible, and some people take the Bible as literally true in all its parts. How can we arrive at a universal or absolute understanding of something which seems so relative?
Kylea Taylor: I use the term Right Relationship, not as right versus wrong as you just said, but rather in the same sense that Buddhists talk about right action or Right Livelihood. I see Right Relationship as situational. It’s a moving target. What is constant is that a professional or a person who is the responsible party caring for someone is a true well-wisher, and wholeheartedly has a well-wishing sense of wanting the best possible outcome, for the person they are caring for, that is possible. It takes many forms, but it serves as a bottom line.
Rick Archer: Do unto others as…
Kylea Taylor: Exactly, and even do unto this special person what’s in the best interests of this special person.
Rick Archer: Mother Teresa used to say that she regarded all the people she was serving as Christ Himself. She was tending to Christ’s wounds and sicknesses when she was helping the people in Calcutta.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, and everyone has that Christ Consciousness or divine spark within them. You can use that as a way of doing the best.
Rick Archer: I jotted down a quote from your book where you say, “Ethical development requires an appreciation of our interconnectedness. We all have to dive into our own well to reach the underground river that connects all sources of water.” I like that.
Kylea Taylor: I got that from a guru. The idea is that you don’t go into a lot of different systems. You go deeply into one system, and you find the same water.
Rick Archer: Aha, that metaphor, don’t dig a lot of shallow wells but dig one deep well. Exactly. Then there’s the idea of using ten tools to dig one well, but we won’t go into that topic. The essential point is that when we see deeply enough, we realize that we’re all one, essentially the same person, not only similar or identical, but all the same Self. So, whatsoever you do unto the least of these you do unto me.
Kylea Taylor: I think that says it, yes.
Rick Archer: As you know, the Hindus have the concept of Dharma. As I understand it, Dharma means that course of action that is most evolutionary in any given circumstance. It’s not something you can just codify, study a book, and then know exactly what to do in any circumstance because it’s too complex. Somehow it must become so deeply embedded in your consciousness that it becomes spontaneous.
Kylea Taylor: Yes. I believe my guru defined Sanatana Dharma as the true religion — a river that goes through all religions. I feel the same way about the InnerEthics® perspective of Right Relationship as a river of well-wishing that goes through many different ways as it takes form.
Rick Archer: Do you mind saying who your guru was?
Kylea Taylor: I was initiated by Amrit Desai. It was very interesting how it all happened. I received Shaktipat and then decided to live at the Ashram for four months. I arrived five days after Amrit’s guru, Swami Kripalvananda, came for a visit, and I have always felt he was my guru although he was technically my grandfather guru.
Rick Archer: Upaguru, they call it.
Kylea Taylor: I’ve just reconnected recently. Some new books are out about him, and I’m reading all the talks that he gave that summer when he broke his silence. He changed my life.
Rick Archer: Good timing on your part to show up when you did.
Kylea Taylor: The universe…
Rick Archer: Amrit Desai was interviewed here in 2012 and, ironically, he had his own ethical crisis which was dealt with in a rather mature way by that community, as I recall. Is that part of what motivated you to get interested in this topic?
Kylea Taylor: No, I didn’t know any of that was going on while I was there. I did send Amrit my first book once I learned what was happening, but I never received any response. I think leaders with that problem miss an opportunity to own it publicly and to teach from there, which I shared with him. It probably wasn’t something he wanted to hear at that time. I saw your interview with Amrit. You asked a question, and then the way he answered it was that when you practice that kind of sadhana there is very strong energy in the second chakra, and sometimes that energy just goes down and out instead of up and in. I thought, well, that sounds like ‘boys will be boys,’ and it doesn’t deal with the betrayal of a disciple when sexual activity happens between the guru and the disciple. Often people call the guru Babaji, as I do, and it means “dear Father.” Also, there’s a stage in sadhana where it’s important to surrender everything in loving Bhakti, and it’s like child abuse when that is abused.
Rick Archer: It’s like incest.
Kylea Taylor: It is, and it’s devastating to somebody. Not only has the guru been hypocritical about Brahmacharya or abstinence, but he has betrayed and violated the disciple’s trust. I think you can come back from that if you own it and say I’ll never do it again. Possibly he did say so privately. I’m not trying to judge him, but I’m saying that when you are a public figure who does something like that, and it’s in the lawsuits and everything anyway, why not own it and teach thereby?
Rick Archer: I sort of sprung that question on him, and I remember that answer. At the time I thought it’s obvious you’re saying that you are a work in progress and vulnerable the way a relatively unenlightened student might be expected to be. Yet if you’re posing as the guru, there’s a certain responsibility that comes with that role.
Kylea Taylor: I don’t think gurus are ever at their final point.
Rick Archer: I don’t either.
Kylea Taylor: A teacher must model that you are always learning. I’m only speaking about one issue, but he gave me a lot. He gave me Babaji, Shaktipat, and taught me many things in Satsang that I use in my therapy, and I’m very grateful.
Rick Archer: Yes, I understand. My teacher had some ethical lapses, but he saved my life, and I’ll always be grateful to him. It’s good not to throw the baby out with the bathwater or to be too black and white in one’s thinking. It’s important to be discriminating and discerning, to call a spade a spade, and not to rationalize away inappropriate behavior because this person appears to be so enlightened that it couldn’t have happened. Even if it did happen, it couldn’t be wrong because this person is so enlightened. How could he or she do anything wrong? You hear that kind of thinking from students.
Kylea Taylor: This topic gets into the InnerEthics® model where I talk about transference and countertransference and that people need to do transference.
Rick Archer: Explain those terms, OK? Give us an example.
Kylea Taylor: Transference is a projection of past relational dynamics onto another person. I’ll use the example of the spiritual teacher. People need to love themselves, but what they do first is unconditionally love the guru. At some point, they need to bring that back and understand that they are loving themselves and that they, too, have the divine spark in them. It’s important to hold that so they can see it, but it’s important not to get identified with it and inflated. What I think happens to spiritual leaders many times is that they’re isolated from feedback and peer support.
Rick Archer: Sometimes intentionally. They don’t want it.
Kylea Taylor: That’s right. They don’t.
Rick Archer: I copied a paragraph from your book on that point. You said, “a leader of a spiritual community may isolate himself from colleagues who are genuine peers or mentors. He sees himself as a pioneer in his field, a Maverick, a creative genius who is ahead of his time. His peers might present him with ethical objections to his treatment of family, friends, lovers, students, and clients. But he would dismiss this feedback as the moralistic grumbling of smaller quote, “neurotic” minds, jealous of his attainments and his following.” And that is almost literally the kind of thing I’ve heard some teachers say.
Kylea Taylor: It’s hard not to get inflated when that’s all you hear. You’re carrying the transference of a huge community that needs to see love as outside themselves.
Rick Archer: Say you were counseling a well-known spiritual teacher with quite a following who began to feel in danger of getting carried away with all the adulation. How would you advise the teacher and spiritual community to deal with the situation to prevent problems from arising?
Kylea Taylor: I’m a big fan of peer supervision. I don’t know how it would work in a spiritual community because the teacher may be too isolated to find what would be needed, which is regular discussions with other spiritual leaders, psychologists, or therapists. I think peer supervision groups could use the Johari Window. Are you familiar with the Johari Window?
Rick Archer: No. Maybe we’ll paste it in here.
Kylea Taylor: It’s an interesting diagram of a square with four quadrants created in the 50s by two guys named Joe and Harry. One is the open and free quadrant, which is all the things I know about myself and all the things you know about me. A second quadrant is where I have secrets and I know them, but you don’t know them, and for you to know them I have to tell you. A third quadrant is where you know things about me that I can’t see, and I don’t know, and for me to know them, I have to ask or be open to feedback or both. The final quadrant is where you don’t know these things about me, and I don’t know these things about me, and I have to do deep personal work to discover what’s there. I’m defining deep work as breathwork, deep therapy, hypnosis, psychedelic medicine, and going into non-ordinary states of consciousness. Then the inner healer, which is always seeking the right conditions to bring up whatever is first on our psychic list of what needs healing, can create the healing. You can provide the conditions for healing to occur in deep work. I think spiritual teachers need to do deep work, too. While it can happen in meditation or sadhana, maybe something stronger, less familiar, and less defended might be helpful.
Rick Archer: There’s that Robert Burns poem about seeing ourselves as others see us. This is an interesting consideration. I know of some teachers who do that sort of thing. For instance, Miranda McPherson, who has been on the show a couple of times, mentioned that she frequently goes to other teachers for Satsang or sits with a therapist periodically to do some housecleaning. I know other teachers who have done some of the things you just mentioned, but they are in the minority. I’d say most teachers just keep going along and doing their thing. Maybe some of them get feedback from friends and students, but a lot of them just seem to be on a roll, and they don’t have the opportunity for scrutiny by others.
Kylea Taylor: Well, I think their lives get very busy, and it can be hard to make time. I know that in my life right now. I need some time, too.
Rick Archer: I think there is also a tendency for teachers and many people who have experienced a profound awakening to feel a sense of completion and not realize that there are a lot of cobwebs to be swept out of dark corners. They seem so full, clear, blissful, or wise that unless they do so intentionally or have others urge them to do so, they’re not likely to go looking for those cobwebs.
Kylea Taylor: I think if there is any egregious, unethical behavior going on, it behooves the community to bring that to the guru’s or the leader’s attention. Although sometimes it can be very difficult to be heard.
Rick Archer: It is, not only because the teacher might brush you off, but because there’s a lot of peer pressure not to do that. Most of your peers in that community won’t even believe that the behavior is taking place, unless they have more direct evidence.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, and it’s not just sex, it’s also …
Rick Archer: Although it usually is.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, it usually is. The worse issues usually are about sex, but it can also be money. For example, people with trust funds can be exploited as well.
Rick Archer: I know current examples where large sums of money are being taken by teachers that I know things about, and if the person giving that money also knew, they wouldn’t give it.
Kylea Taylor: Right. In my model, the power center can be exploited by disempowering people rather than empowering them.
Rick Archer: Explain that a little bit.
Kylea Taylor: By keeping people in a place of dependency rather than empowering them to be all they can be. I don’t have a specific example, but there are many ways this can happen.
Rick Archer: Often there is a strong hierarchical structure built up in spiritual communities. It’s not like a circle arrangement where everyone, including the teacher, is on the same level, but the teacher is literally and figuratively up high on a dais or a stage. This dynamic can perpetuate the mindset that I couldn’t possibly challenge this person or know certain things that they don’t know, yet that seems to be quite common.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, not validating that they have gifts to offer and always keeping them one down.
Rick Archer: I see a question from Irene here asking about my cobwebs. I admit to having cobwebs. As you said at the beginning of this interview, your ethical mistakes made you more interested in ethics. I have made mistakes, too, and I feel that each mistake made me much more inclined to scrutinize myself and be careful. Was it Carlos Castaneda’s teacher Don Juan who said that a warrior has time only for his impeccability? Padmasambhava said, and I’m not referring to my own state of awareness here, “Though my view is as vast as the sky, my attention to the law of karma is as fine as a grain of barley flour.” No one, not even these great beings, and here I go calling them great beings, are or were beyond the possibility of stumbling in some way. One thing I liked in Yogananda’s book was that when he met his teacher Swami Sri Yukteswar, he asked Yogananda to bring it to his attention if he ever appeared to be falling from his state of God-consciousness.
Kylea Taylor: I think Irene brought up a good thing because where spiritual leaders may experience ethical or relational problems is in their personal relationships which might be the first place to look.
Rick Archer: it’s rather handy to be married in a way or to be in a close relationship because then you’re a lot less able to get away with your idiosyncrasies.
Kylea Taylor: I know. It’s in your face.
Rick Archer: I lived in a monastic community for about fifteen years, and you could get kooky, and no one would call you on it. If they did, you could always gravitate to someone else and avoid having it in your face. Marriage is a big wake-up call. As we continue, any time an idea comes to mind that I’m not bringing up, feel free to bring it up, and for those who are listening and have questions, feel free to send them in. You brought up the term “ethical fading” in your book. Elaborate on that term a bit, and then I might have a question or two.
Kylea Taylor: The term isn’t mine; you probably have the name of the person who originated it. Ethical fading refers to when organizations gradually have an ethos of taking care of themselves to the detriment of caring for their clients. One example in my book was a midwife, or a doula, who brought this up because a woman who was in the last stages of labor came into a hospital and had to fill out all kinds of forms while standing there. What should have happened is that she went immediately to a place where she could be comfortable and have the baby as quickly as it wanted to arrive. What are we putting in place in our organizations in terms of values? There are forms and procedures that can get in the way of taking care of what we’re supposed to be taking care of, which is our clients, customers, and employees.
Rick Archer: One thought that term evokes for me, and I don’t know if it’s the way you intended, is that often spiritual organizations begin fresh, pure, and inspiring, and then gradually, incrementally, start going off the rails and become weirder and weirder. They become more like a cult and more dysfunctional. I don’t think this example would work for us at all, which is the theory of tossing a frog into boiling water rather than heating the water slowly because when it’s heated slowly the frog doesn’t realize it and jump out. I don’t like that example because I wouldn’t toss a frog into boiling water or heat it slowly, but the point is that when something happens slowly people adjust their mentality as it goes on. They don’t realize how strange everything is becoming.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, I think that happens, and I think people resist change. As I said earlier, Right Relationship is not static but a moving target. When a community or organization has static roles and resists examining itself as an organization, you get those problems, because people don’t like to change. I think the best organizations are organizations where change is a given, always ongoing, not stopping and then getting into those issues you described.
Rick Archer: The notion that the end justifies the means sometimes accompanies ethical fading. The idea seems to be that the mission is so glorious and affects the world so wonderfully that it doesn’t matter whether we violate these tax laws or smuggle money in a suitcase. Another one is that individuals are dispensable because the mission is so grand that it won’t matter whether a few individuals are sacrificed along the way.
Kylea Taylor: Did you see the documentary on the Rajneesh community?
Rick Archer: “Wild, Wild Country”? Yes, I watched the whole thing.
Kylea Taylor: Fabulous documentary and an example of what we’ve been discussing.
Rick Archer: Strangely enough, just to give some credit where credit is due, I have several friends who went through all that and are wonderful people.
Kylea Taylor: I know. I do, too. I thought it was a fabulous documentary because they were talking First Person to people on both sides. It showed the harm that was done, but it also showed the motivations of the people responsible for the harm, and how it just didn’t get sorted out before it all fell apart.
Rick Archer: Do you think in some convoluted, roundabout way, and I don’t mean for this to sound like an alibi, but sometimes it might be in the best interest of some people to go through an experience with a corrupt teacher because it teaches them things through the school of hard knocks that they wouldn’t have learned as easily with a more benign teacher?
Kylea Taylor: Well, I wouldn’t prescribe it any more than I would prescribe child-abusing parents, but it’s true that our wounds teach us, no matter which ones we get, and we all have them.
Rick Archer: That’s a good point. You wouldn’t prescribe it, but many people say in retrospect that they are grateful for the experience they went through even though they wouldn’t have asked for it. I interviewed a guy named Damien Echols a couple of months ago who spent eighteen years on death row for a murder he didn’t commit. He said that if he had to do it all over again, he would do it because he used that time to focus so deeply on his spiritual practice that it transformed him.
Kylea Taylor: Wow. He gave a new meaning to monastic cell.
Rick Archer: A question came in from a man or a woman named Narcy from Chennai, India. Narcy asks: “We talked about the Guru’s ethical mistakes, which is important. How about the ethics of the student? Why do so many students fall for the Guru’s advances? You know, both sex and money? It seems like students are just too eager to fall.”
Kylea Taylor: I think students are in the vulnerable role when there’s a power differential. In the healing process, I believe people are always trying to create a corrective experience, and the inner healer may say this guru looks like a good parent figure. I can project on that parent figure, and this time it’s going to be the good daddy or the good mommy. Then when it isn’t, there’s betrayal. At the same time, I do think that what we can do is what you’ve done with the student guidelines, which is to educate about discernment on what students deserve in terms of a spiritual teacher or a therapist because they need to know. Since students and clients make up the bulk of the population in spiritual communities, we’re never going to get to critical mass until the students and clients are part of the awareness.
Rick Archer: I feel very strongly about that point.
Kylea Taylor: I hope that answered Narcy’s question. Nice question.
Rick Archer: It did for me anyway. Narcy, feel free to ask a follow-up question if you’d like to ask more on that topic. We’ve talked a lot about the obligations of teachers, and there’s one thing we may not have touched on yet. Would you say that ethical behavior has a value for a student regardless of what a teacher may or may not be doing in his or her life, because lack of it is damaging, weakening, or purifying in some way? It’s kind of like trying to fill a bathtub while simultaneously letting out the water.
Kylea Taylor: I think that’s a good point. One of the concepts in my InnerEthics® model is Protection, Permission, and Connection, the three elements needed in balance in any healing container. When a group can provide those essential elements there is an opportunity to learn. I don’t think anyone can heal or learn without protection, without safety. Protection includes having clear agreements, keeping agreements, and communicating clearly and honestly about money and other important issues. Permission is providing encouragement and empowerment, validating their experience, if it’s true, and encouraging change and risk to a level that would not be breaking. In other words, when you’re doing yoga, you stretch, but you don’t break or hurt yourself. Connection is helping people to create Right Relationship with their inner parts and with other people. The guru would be modeling that Right Relationship in connection with the person. Some people need more protection while others may need more permission. All these elements in balance are important. I’m saying that ethical behavior happens when the container is ethical and balanced with these three vital elements.
Rick Archer: So, if those three elements aren’t balanced, then you might be implying that unethical behavior is more likely to occur when there’s an imbalance.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, and it might be dishonest or disempower someone.
Rick Archer: As a therapist, have you dealt with many people who have been hurt by spiritual teachers or various kinds of therapists?
Kylea Taylor: A few.
Rick Archer: Is there anything in your experience that would be useful to add to our conversation?
Kylea Taylor: If someone is hurt by a spiritual community and a spiritual teacher where they’ve given their trust and followed their guidance, it is very damaging, especially when it’s been a long-term situation. It impacts self-esteem and decision-making ability. If you can clean all that up with the ASI… (laughter)
Rick Archer: Well, thanks, we’ll get right to it. (laughter) One point that comes to mind is that if a person was abused by their father, a teacher, or someone similar, it can create a deep impression that could scar them for life and make it difficult to trust father figures or teachers. In the spiritual realm, I’ve seen people who have become very cynical or disillusioned about all spiritual teachers or even spirituality in general, because of a bad experience. I think that’s a shame, and I wouldn’t want the karma of the teacher who caused that to happen to them.
Kylea Taylor: I think it can be healed, and I think that a lot of wounding happens while experiencing a non-ordinary state. If you are in a real bhakti state, you’re in a non-ordinary state of consciousness, and just like wounding, healing happens in a non-ordinary state. There are places you can go. There’s a lot of PTSD research being done by MAPS right now, the Multidisciplinary Association of Psychedelic Studies, who are using MDMA for trauma healing, and they’ve had incredible success. They anticipate it will be legal in a couple of years, and therapists will be able to provide MDMA therapy with perhaps 1-3 experiential sessions along with therapy sessions. This approach helps people work through trauma without the fear of experiencing the trauma again; it’s a fear-mitigating medicine.
Rick Archer: I don’t remember whether this was in your book or something that I came across while preparing for the Michael Pollan and Chris Bache interview last week. It was about people who had suffered from PTSD being made to watch horrible videos of violent things happening to people to desensitize them to stressors. I thought what a crude form of therapy.
Kylea Taylor: I think that’s crazy. I believe that you need to enter a place where you’re safe. I’m not talking about doing MDMA at a rave but lying down with two sitters or therapists, wearing eyeshades, and delving deeply into your inner world. The statistics are amazing. One year after people went through this therapy, three sessions and therapy in between, 68% have no PTSD symptoms. Nothing similar is available for PTSD yet.
Rick Archer: I know that some types of meditation are being used for PTSD sufferers, and they’re also getting some very good results. I’m glad you brought this up because a lot of your book focuses on the point that non-ordinary states bring up compelling desires, fears, and longings in people, so there are special needs for clients in these profound states of consciousness. I used to go on a lot of long meditation courses and get into the depth of the course. Sometimes there was a feeling of being like jello which hadn’t been molded yet, so it could be molded in any direction. As the course was ending, I would gradually taper off the amount of meditation over a period of weeks or even a couple of months, depending on the length of the course, and the mold would take shape carefully. There’s an openness or vulnerability when people get into non-ordinary states, however they are evoked, that deserves special consideration as you address quite a bit in your book. Please say more.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, I think people are much more suggestible, like in a hypnotic state.
Rick Archer: If you’re in a non-ordinary state brought about by breathwork or similar modalities, then you’re more suggestible or susceptible?
Kylea Taylor: Yes, susceptible to any kind of intervention. I think it’s best not to intervene but to follow what we’re trained to do in Holotropic Breathwork®, which is more like midwifery. Follow a person’s process and assist them if help is asked for verbally or non-verbally. Otherwise, let the person alone and allow the inner healer to do the rest. I love what Leo Zeff, a psychologist and psychedelic therapist in LA in the 50s, 60s, and 70s underground said after he started doing therapy with clients using LSD. He said therapy didn’t work and that he had no idea what his clients needed, and the only thing that does know is something inside the client. All you have to do is to trust the inner healer once a non-ordinary state is active. I think when interventions are made without asking for permission, there is a potential for bad things to happen. You can find his interview in the book The Secret Chief Revealed: Conversations with Leo Zeff. One of the questions in my book is Who’s this for? When we’re making interventions as a therapist or a leader, we have to ask Who’s this for? Is this for me? Am I doing this for my benefit, or is it really in the client’s best interest?
Rick Archer: How much psychedelic therapy is going on now? it’s not legal to do on a routine basis. I know some research is taking place at John Hopkins and NYU and elsewhere. In your book you allude to it being done. I suppose MAPS hosts conferences and everybody’s talking about it. Is there a lot of underground psychedelic therapy happening?
Kylea Taylor: I think so. I believe Michael Pollan and Chris Bache speak to that topic. It’s gradually becoming legalized, gradually, and I think MDMA is like the prow of an ice-breaking ship, because the government wants to save billions of dollars on PTSD care for veterans, which is good, because veterans will benefit from the opportunity.
Rick Archer: Yes. I heard a story on NPR this morning that the police are twice as likely to die from suicide as they are from being shot by somebody on the job, and it’s because of the incredible stress they’re under all the time.
Kylea Taylor: They have done a lot of research with people like firefighters, police, and veterans, and with child abuse.
Rick Archer: What do you see as a potential downside of psychedelic therapy? It went off the rails in the 60s with Timothy Leary and became illegal. What could scuttle it now that needs to be prevented?
Kylea Taylor: I believe that training qualifications are the biggest issue. Extensive training in experiential, non-ordinary states is necessary when you are working therapeutically with people in non-ordinary states. It’s important to understand the compelling motivations, fears, and desires that come up and what type of field is created. The best training I’ve seen so far is the Grof Transpersonal Training, which is at least a two-year program with nine weeks — where a student is a sitter and then a breather in two paired sessions. As a sitter, they notice all the things they would like to do to fix that person when they are having experiences and feelings, and they don’t do it. As a breather, they learn the variety and intensity of experiences that can occur in non-ordinary states. Then the group discusses those experiences.
Rick Archer: I believe you’re alluding to Holotropic Breathwork®. Let’s explain a bit more. I interviewed Stan Grof about four years ago, and I don’t think I did a good job. I had a lot going on that week and I was tired, and I’ve always felt bad that I didn’t do justice to him because I think he is a giant in this field in so many ways. Did he introduce Holotropic Breathwork® because psychedelics had become illegal, and he was seeking a non-chemical way of eliciting similar states?
Kylea Taylor: I think Stan and his late wife Christina both devised Holotropic Breathwork®. He had noticed in doing LSD psychedelic sessions that sometimes the session would complete itself and be just fine, while at other times something else would begin at the end and would not complete itself. Then, what the inner healer would do is start doing rapid breathing like Bhastrika Pranayama or fire breath. So that’s what Stan decided to do, and they had people do continuous breathing without a pause between the inbreath and the outbreath. I think their primary contribution is the safety features, all the, Protection, Permission, and Connection features of the container. There are now trainings for people who are doing or who want to do psychedelic work, but the experiential component is often necessarily brief. The Grof Transpersonal Training has that all built in. In fact, the people who are teaching the MAPS training now are graduates of GTT.
Rick Archer: Well, presumably, you’ve done both, and how do you feel the subjective experience compares?
Kylea Taylor: I haven’t done the training to be a psychedelic therapist.
Rick Archer: You’ve done psychedelics and a lot of Holotropic Breathwork®, so how would you compare them subjectively?
Kylea Taylor: I think all the same kinds of experiences can happen either way, and that breathwork and each medicine have their own characteristics. When you do breathwork, it’s natural, and you can give it more energy by breathing more at any time or by taking a break to contemplate or rest. You don’t have those options with a psychedelic, which is like being on a roller-coaster. Every medicine has its unique characteristic so they’re all different in a way.
Rick Archer: What do you think are the mechanics of Holotropic Breathwork®? Some would argue that you’re just flushing the brain with oxygen, hyperventilating, or something similar. Obviously, many profound experiences couldn’t be explained in that way. What do you think is going on at a subtle level to evoke those kinds of experiences?
Kylea Taylor: I don’t know the chemistry, but I do know it takes you into a non-ordinary state that somehow turns off resistance to accessing the next experience on the inner healer’s wish list.
Rick Archer: I suspect, and this is just a theory, that it’s doing something to the connections in the subtle energy system, the Nadi, Sushumna, and Kundalini. Somehow, it’s enlivening or awakening the subtle energy system because yogis put great importance on special breathing techniques for that very reason. For instance, when you go back and forth between the two nostrils, which is a form of Pranayama, it’s thought that one nostril corresponds to the Ida and the other to the Pingala, the two channels that run parallel with the center of the spine, and that you balance them. It’s suggested that you might observe every so often that your breath will shift predominantly throughout the day from one nostril to the other as these two subtle nervous systems trade off their functioning to give each other a break. It’s believed that by doing Pranayama you can balance those two nervous systems by alternating more quickly than usual to set the stage for a more profound meditation experience. I have a feeling that somehow, knowingly or otherwise, Holotropic Breathwork® uses these mechanics to trigger these experiences.
Kylea Taylor: I would think so. Perhaps it kick-starts prana, and then the prana probably takes you to an experience. It’s a mystery how it happens, but I know there’s often a lot of associated physical and chronic experiences.
Rick Archer: Do they sometimes have Kundalini awakenings or phenomena like crying and shaking referred to as kriyas?
Kylea Taylor: When you have a prana opening, I believe there’s always a chance there might also be a Kundalini opening. When I first did Holotropic Breathwork® I think that I had a prana opening where I saw Shiva and was reaching out to Shiva. The next week I was at Easlen for a month with Stan and Christina Grof. During that week I experienced what I now believe was a healing illness where I just couldn’t eat. I had a high fever, stayed in bed, and missed a week of the workshop. Then some people were doing MDMA and going down to the beach, so I decided to go and try a low dose, 25 milligrams (125 milligrams is the normal dose), and I experienced an opening. I went to the beach again the next week and did a normal dose, which was the beginning of my powerful Kundalini opening. I heard a baby crying, being born and crying, and then I realized the baby was me. I was so deep inside, and all kinds of kriyas kept going for maybe fifteen hours or so and lasted for five years without the drugs. I tell this story because I think what happened is that MDMA removed the fear of letting go and allowed that energy to move through my body and release blocks that were there.
Rick Archer: Interesting. It’s good to keep an open mind. I went through my drug thing in the 60s, and after that, I thought, never again. I wouldn’t touch the stuff. I’m doing fine without them with regular meditation practice. Everything I’m exposed to these days in terms of talking to all these people at BatGap has made me more open-minded about the potential if everything is done very responsibly and seriously. Otherwise, it will cause more harm than good. You mentioned paradigm shifts in the notes you sent me. What did you want to say about that?
Kylea Taylor: I agree. It’s just the word. Sometimes I use the term ‘personal paradigm shift’ instead of spiritual emergence or spiritual emergency when people, who have what I would call a spiritual emergency, say it’s not spiritual, but it is a big shift in their personal belief system. Their belief system becomes too small to hold their experience because they are outgrowing it. Sometimes it can be slow as in spiritual emergence where change happens here and there when the inner healer has the right conditions. Other times someone can veer over into the fast lane, and it becomes a spiritual emergency, which simply means that you’re not functional in the usual way, and you might look psychotic, but you’re not.
Rick Archer: Although you can be. I’ve seen people do long meditations and then actually become psychotic.
Kylea Taylor: Although you can be. Sometimes getting into a non-ordinary state triggers bipolar episodes, so you must exercise caution.
Rick Archer: A therapist or someone who is shepherding people through these processes needs to be careful about who they accept. People need to be screened somehow.
Kylea Taylor: In Holotropic Breathwork® there’s a medical form and those questions are asked.
Rick Archer: On another note, you said it is about external versus internal locus of control. I think we may have already alluded to that in terms of laying down codes of ethics versus knowing from within knowing spontaneously what to do from your inner guidance. Is that what that phrase refers to?
Kylea Taylor: Yes, the laws, codes, standards of care, and all the external things are there because someone faced challenges in the past, harmed someone, and it was written up as a ‘don’t do this’ rule. These are valuable, but then there’s the internal way that we find Right Relationship in our unique situations. We should be careful with the internal way of navigating, because we can rationalize and fool ourselves.
Rick Archer: Very true. What comes up frequently is that people feel like they can trust their inner guidance system, but it’s malfunctioning, and they can get crazy. You know the term Maya or illusion, and we’re all under its influence to some extent. One of its features, I think, is that it doesn’t let you know that you’re under its influence, so you can feel like you’re completely justified in whatever you are doing. Yet, if others can see you clearly, you are way off the beam.
Kylea Taylor: That’s right, and that’s a good reason to do peer supervision to that quadrant of the Johari window where you don’t see yourself and others do.
Rick Archer: Do you know the saying “that government is best which governs least”? I believe that quote is from Lao Tzu in the Tao Te Ching who said that the more enlightened a society is, the fewer actual laws and rules it will require. People spontaneously act right if the ambient level of consciousness in society is high. This is an important point because, if it isn’t high, you can’t just dismantle the government as some people seem to think would be a good idea like dissolving the EPA or whatever. People aren’t going to behave properly if we do that. We need laws if people aren’t inclined spontaneously to act in a healthy way.
Kylea Taylor: I hope we’re moving in the right direction in a larger sense with things like the #MeToo movement. I think we’re just at the very beginning of an ethos change where people, and it must be enough people, are sick enough of all the lying and greed to make a difference.
Rick Archer: We’ve elected a president that gives us such blatant examples of such things that there’s no question about it. One more question here from Narcy who asks if students who are vulnerable can be identified through profiling by the spiritual organization to prevent any problems. As a therapist, can you comment? You mentioned the Grof Transpersonal Training application process.
Kylea Taylor: That’s a medical form that asks if someone has been hospitalized or ever had a bipolar episode, is currently in therapy, and, if so, whether their therapist thinks the training is a good idea. I think it’s the job of a Responsible Party, in this case, a spiritual leader, to take care of vulnerable people who come to him or her in the appropriate way for that person. Spiritual leaders must take responsibility and know what they can give and what they can’t and not say a person is wrong for being vulnerable. If they can’t give what is needed, then refer to someone else who can.
Rick Archer: One thing you say in your book is that every ethical misstep was taken because of a healing impulse. Let’s make that concrete. Let’s say a teacher is misbehaving, sleeping with students, taking money, or something similar. These are ethical missteps. How are they expressions of a healing impulse?
Kylea Taylor: The healing impulse can be either for the student or client, or it can be for oneself. The benefit of looking for the healing impulse is to find out why you did something so you can have understanding and compassion for yourself and then do self-reflection about how to avoid doing it again in the future.
Rick Archer: Okay, so if you get to the point where you’re admitting that you did something wrong, which doesn’t necessarily happen right away, you can think, my God, how could I have screwed up like that? What is it about me that I need to look at more carefully that caused me to do that kind of thing, so I don’t do it again?
Kylea Taylor: Right. I think this brings up that there are two categories of people who are misbehaving, as you say. One is the predator category, people who intentionally harm who might be sociopaths, power hungry, or greedy, or they might be addicted, perhaps sex and love addicts not in recovery. They’re probably not interested in this model of self-reflection at all. They would have to be dealt with by the justice system and by disciples or students who were committed to preventing them from doing harm. The other category is people who are unaware, who perhaps could have chosen to do something different if they had been informed about transference and countertransference or their own vulnerabilities, and they are interested in understanding themselves. Otherwise, self-reflection won’t work. But if we change the ethos of the culture to one of expecting professionals to do self-reflection and to be ethical, more people will be willing to do self-reflection because it will influence their pocketbooks.
Rick Archer: Yes, not only their pocketbooks, but because they’re sincerely interested in becoming better people and growing spiritually, and they don’t want to be doing things that will thwart that aspiration.
Kylea Taylor: Hopefully, yes.
Rick Archer: On the one hand, when you make a statement like that, it can seem a little discouraging because you think, oh God, how can we change the culture, it’s huge, and it’s going to take a long time. It’s like turning an ocean liner that has a strong momentum. On the other hand, we’ve seen some rather radical and almost abrupt cultural shifts in the last decade or so and that gives one optimism.
Kylea Taylor: That’s right. We have the internet that makes information travel far and wide. I think the #MeToo movement is a good example. We are at the beginning of this ethos change, and the #MeToo movement is focusing on consequences and punishment for people. It’s likely that the people we’ve seen who have been outed in some way, and who held responsible positions, were not people who would have done self-reflection, I don’t think. Privately, I was saying, me too, about some small incidents in my life. I was rooting for the people who had come forward and taken responsibility. I think this is how a shift begins to happen. How can we encourage rather than just punish people who want to change and support them to talk about it, maybe in therapy, peer supervision, or even publicly, about how they made their mistakes and to serve as models to educate and help other people?
Rick Archer: It’s interesting that in the in the public eye there are certain people that plead innocent and keep fighting until they go to jail like Bill Cosby or Jerry Sandusky. Then there are others who appear contrite and say I really screwed up, and I’m going to learn as much as I can and not be this way anymore, like Michael Cohen and some others.
Kylea Taylor: There’s a guy in the psychedelic community who did some egregious things and has recently written an article about them and mea culpa (through my fault). There’s an article at Chacruna.net, an online journal about psychedelics and plant medicines. Some people are angry with him and think he is trying to get away with it by apologizing, but I thought the article was thought-provoking because he talked about all the reasons why he did what he did and apologized. We need to have a path for people to change.
Rick Archer: You mentioned that in your book, and I really appreciate this point. If we’re just going to forever condemn those who have made mistakes, even if they are trying to change and showing contrition and apology and so on, then it’s not going to inspire a whole lot of people to try to change themselves. There must be forgiveness and compassion.
Kylea Taylor: I think there’s been a taboo among professionals, like therapists and doctors, to say when they’ve done something wrong for a long time. Although some surgeons have a process where they talk about what didn’t work and what mistakes they’ve made in surgery. I read that in a book on mortality, I can’t remember his name, but [Note: Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Dr. Atul Gawande]
Rick Archer: Andrew Cohen is a good example. A lot of people are still angry with him, but after his so-called downfall he’s traveled around to meet face-to-face with everyone he had wronged who was willing to meet with him in order to apologize in person. He has done various kinds of therapy, some Ayahuasca or something, and is working on himself in various ways. I’ve even heard that he’s not too proud to drive for Uber sometimes to make ends meet. I had taken his interview down for a year or two and put it back up again when I heard that news. I thought, well, he’s really trying.
Kylea Taylor: Absolutely, yes. I think we need to support each other in our walk through this life. We’re all going to make mistakes of various kinds, and some are more egregious than others. If someone is willing to change, there should be redemption.
Rick Archer: The guy who wrote the Ramayana, named Valmiki, was a highway robber and murderer, which was how he made his living. He was about to rob some saints, and they said, before you do, go home and check with your wife to see if she’s willing to share in this karma. So, he went home and asked his wife. She said I appreciate the support, but no way, it’s your karma, and it hit him like a ton of bricks. He went back to the saints and asked for help, and they gave him a mantra. He sat and went into meditation. As the saying goes, he sat there for seven years, and an ant hill built up around him. By the way, the name Valmiki means ant-born sage. It says in the Bhagavad Gita that even if you are the greatest of all sinners, you can cross over the ocean of evil by the raft of knowledge alone. There are many examples in the traditions of people who were real scoundrels who became transformed. Saul, for example, who became the Apostle Paul. You sent me a graphic from your book that I am sharing on the screen now. Would you like to explain it to us?
Kylea Taylor: Yes, I’d love to. My book, The Ethics of Caring, is based on this structured diagram, which came to me through two of the great religions, Hinduism and Buddhism. This is a graphic of the chakras; however, instead of the usual meaning of the chakras, I have renamed these life areas where ethical missteps often take place.
Rick Archer: The audience can see the chart right now.
Kylea Taylor: The life centers of money, sex, and power are personal chakras, which is what ethics is usually all about. There is less written about the transpersonal chakras, which I have named Love, Truth, Insight, and Oneness. Many of these issues arise when we work with people in non-ordinary states of consciousness. You see personal fears and spiritual fears on one side, and personal desires and spiritual longings on the other side, which can pull us off the track of Right Relationship, the line going through the center of the chakras, the Sushumna. Imagine that line as a rubber band that can be pulled either to one side or the other in a particular Center whenever we experience either a desire or a fear. You can use this chart if you have a gut feeling that something is wrong in your relationship with a client or a student. Ask yourself which life area is involved and what longing or desire is activated on either side. The book is organized with a chapter for each Center and self-reflective questions at the end. I address transference and countertransference issues associated with that specific life area in each chapter. The chart can be used for self-reflection if you’re a professional or a responsible party or by a peer supervision group to help identify and discuss issues. It can be used in formal supervision or as a complement to traditional ethics education. There are other elements to the InnerEthics® model as I mentioned earlier: Protection, Permission, Connection, and the question, “Who’s this for?” This question, by the way, can be used by anybody in everyday ethical situations. For example, if you’re talking to a friend who is excited about something and it makes you think, oh, I have a similar story to share. If you ask “Who’s this for” you can decide whether it’s a good time to tell your story or a time to listen to your friend. You can download this chart on my website.
Rick Archer: That’s an interesting point. My wife and I often remark about conversations with people who go on and on about themselves while you’re listening patiently, maybe asking questions. It’s almost like that joke: me, me, me, me, me. Okay, enough about me, what do you think about me? Then the moment you start to reciprocate and say let me tell you what’s going on in my life, they respond, well, ‘I gotta go now.’ They space out and lose interest. I think this relates to the whole ethics topic because ethics is about concern for others, ultimately. Perhaps we can develop ethics by cultivating a genuine concern for and interest in others.
Kylea Taylor: I think there are times in everyday life when we become the responsible party, and we need to think about ethics and “Who’s this for?” If you visit a friend in the hospital, the focus is on that person just as if you were a professional. You want to be there for them. Another example is early sobriety. Many people are all over the place in early sobriety, and you have to listen to them and then make sure you get your needs taken care of in other ways.
Rick Archer: Yes, you’re there for them not the other way around. They are the needy ones.
Kylea Taylor: For example, it can happen that way in a marriage when, as I always say, we can’t both be crazy at the same time. Someone has to be the sitter. If you can go back and forth in that way, be clear about your role at any given time, and be flexible to go back and forth quickly if needed, it works much better.
Rick Archer: I imagine being a professional therapist helps with that process because you have to keep switching hats. You’re there for others, then you go home and perhaps you can be the one who someone else supports.
Kylea Taylor: It’s even harder because I do therapy at home, so I have to change hats going downstairs. (laughter)
Rick Archer: Let’s have an overview. Maybe we’ll end soon or go on longer depending on what comes up. If anybody wants to send in a question, this would be the time to do it. Considering everything we’ve discussed for the last almost hour and three quarters, are there any gaps you’d like to fill in, is there anything that we haven’t covered you’d like to address, or would you like to make a summary of points?
Kylea Taylor: I think we’ve been talking about a really big change that is happening and your guidelines and my book are small pieces of that change. Something big is happening. Perhaps what we might need is ethical awareness training, although I dislike the acronym for that.
Rick Archer: Yes.
Kylea Taylor: It compares to when companies offered diversity training where people had to discover their prejudices and the ways in which people were different from them and not different from them.
Rick Archer: They still do it.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, it’s ongoing, but there was a peak at one point, and maybe that needs to happen with ethical awareness and self-reflection. I think it’s going to take a lot of people getting interested, talking about this issue, and deciding what’s theirs to do, what’s their piece of it.
Rick Archer: I know that with the ASI, which is really a rather small endeavor, we’ve had several different webinars with people speaking and pondering these issues. We usually only have a dozen or two people online, so it’s a drop in the bucket, but maybe a beginning. We do feel that part of our whole purpose is doing whatever we can to enliven an appreciation in the collective consciousness, specifically in the collective spiritual community. It needs to be more explicit, more out in the open, and more people joining in the consideration.
Kylea Taylor: Yes, and that’s your piece of it and your colleagues’ piece of it, and getting more people interested and involved is great. Hopefully, this interview getting out there will get people more interested in the dimensions of ethics rather than what everybody’s idea has been about it.
Rick Archer: Most people who are listening to this interview are interested in enlightenment or awakening and the fulfillment which that state promises. I think that the whole ethical consideration is an aspect of the development that the words enlightenment or awakening signify. It’s incumbent upon a person who is interested in spiritual development to be interested in ethics as part of that development.
Kylea Taylor: I have one other thing that I could talk about that is a pet thought that nobody has ever been interested [that relates to the last chapter of my book in] Considering Holotropic Breathwork. I don’t know much about Jung, but I do know that he talks about four main psychological functions: thinking and feeling are paired, and sensation and intuition are paired. I came across this concept in Knowing Woman: A Feminine Psychology, a book by Jungian analyst Irene Claremont de Castillejo. She talked about the fourth function being an opening to the magical realm or the unconscious. I began to wonder if spiritual emergence and spiritual emergency come through the fourth function. My own spiritual emergence came through Kundalini and sensation was my fourth function. By the way, these four functions are tested when you take the Myers-Briggs test.
Rick Archer: The fourth function then is opening to the magical realm, the spirit of the unseen, the transcendent, or whatever you want to call it.
Kylea Taylor: The idea is that our primary function is the one where we have mastery and that we use most of the time to run our lives. We tend not to pay attention to our fourth function, so it’s undefended, and it feels like it’s not us. We’re not identified with it.
Rick Archer: Most people.
Kylea Taylor: Most people, yes. Thank you. This is the way I do research, which is anecdotal and observant. I think this would be a great research project since there is Myers-Briggs test data and people who are experiencing spiritual emergence. What I noticed was that I worshipped the Kundalini energy coming through me in terms of sexual and other kinds of energy. People who have thinking as a first function and feeling as a fourth function might have an experience where the feeling realm opens for them. Oh, my goodness, I’m having a feeling, I’m sad right now, an almost divine feeling. People who have thinking as a fourth function might be enamored of new ideas and return to graduate school, like MAPS and similar programs, because their first function is sensation. They’re very concrete, normally. Intuition as a fourth function might be a psychic opening or a spiritual emergency where people are flooded with psychic voices, intuitions, or psychic knowing, which they may have trouble turning off. One thing I think happens is that the first function gets turned off in spiritual emergence, temporarily at least, which happened to me. Marie-Louise von Franz, a Jungian Psychologist, wrote that it must be turned off because it’s a form of death and rebirth. The function that you use all the time must be turned off so that this new experience can be integrated. Until it integrates, you experience it as a divine happening, which I thought was very interesting. Perhaps someone listening will also think this is interesting and decide to do some research.
Rick Archer: I think it’s interesting. Some people define higher consciousness, enlightenment, or whatever, and contrast it with ordinary states of consciousness that we experience like waking, dreaming, and sleeping. You have to turn off waking to experience sleeping; you can’t experience them at the same time. In the fourth state of consciousness, as defined in the Vedic system as Turiya, which means fourth, it’s understood that through repeated experience it becomes a continuum throughout waking, dreaming, and sleeping. What you said just then brought to my mind the thought that spiritual development is not just about having temporary experiences, although you do have them. It’s about that depth of awareness that you may dip into momentarily becoming a 24/7 feature of your experience so there’s an integration that takes place, as you say. You couldn’t be in some extraordinary state and drive home afterward. You would need to return to normal consciousness first. Yet an enlightened person can drive a car while in an extraordinary state in comparison to the other people in traffic around them. They’ve learned how to integrate and maintain that higher consciousness during so-called mundane experiences.
Kylea Taylor: On the interview last week, they talked about Neem Karoli Baba who took 1200 micrograms of LSD.
Rick Archer: And nothing happened apparently.
Kylea Taylor: And nothing happened that was outside of himself anyway. What happened for me was kriyas, mudras, and automatic postures. I stopped being able to plan and think, and I guess that thinking is my second function, but I stopped being able to do it. I was an executive director of an agency, and I had to learn to trust that I would know what to say, what to do, and that whatever was coming up in my schedule would be handled. It worked out. It always worked out.
Rick Archer: That’s an interesting point. I think the average person tends to feel in control or tries to be. There’s a Vedic saying, which is that Brahman is the charioteer, that larger intelligence that is or should be running your life. If you’re going to let Brahman be the charioteer, you need to relinquish the reins for the journey.
Kylea Taylor: I had to do that for this interview.
Rick Archer: How so? What do you mean?
Kylea Taylor: The phrase is to give it to the guru. I just had to say that I’m not in control here. I just have to show up and be who I am.
Rick Archer: This brings us back to an ethics point because some people say that they are not the doer, and whatever they do is just the gunas doing it, or it’s the devil made me do it, or whatever. I’ve heard these explanations used as an alibi by spiritual teachers for doing outrageous things. Some argue we don’t have a self and we don’t have free will, that it’s all just conditioning or DNA, etc. Could you comment on that notion and whether you agree with that, or if you disagree, how so?
Kylea Taylor: I think we can fool ourselves, which is why we need each other to give us feedback. In the case of this interview, I’ve prepared and I’m nervous because I’ve never done this before, and so on. Then I thought I just have to be myself and let the Shakti take care of it. I think it’s okay to let go, and I don’t think it turned out badly.
Rick Archer: Oh, it’s great. You’ve been preparing for it for decades.
Kylea Taylor: That’s what people told me.
Rick Archer: You’ve been living and breathing this material for a long time and written a whole book about it, so you know what you’re talking about. There is that issue that some people justify their behavior by saying I am not the doer or that the world is Maya, and it doesn’t matter what you do because it’s all an illusion. I think it’s a real cop-out.
Kylea Taylor: I do, too.
Rick Archer: All right. Well, you did fine, by the way. I think this is great interview, and I enjoyed talking with you. I mentioned you to Jac O’Keeffe, one of the founders of the ASI, and she immediately ordered your book.
Kylea Taylor: Thank you. You are a great interviewer, and it’s good to talk with you.
Rick Archer: I want to thank those who have been listening or watching. As I said in the beginning, if this is new to you and you want to check out previous podcasts, there’s a Past Interviews menu on www.batgap.com, where you can find all the previous ones categorized in various ways. If you like to listen while you’re driving, or cutting the grass, or whatever, this exists as an audio podcast to which you can subscribe. You can be notified by email of new interviews whenever they’re posted, if you wish, and there’s a place to sign up. We appreciate your financial support. If you would like to contribute, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the site. If you look under various menus on the site, you’ll find some little odds and ends. There’s even a ringtone for your phone if you want with the BatGap theme song that my friend David Buckland put together. Thanks to the audience and thank you again, Kylea. I really enjoyed my time with you.
Kylea Taylor: Me too. Thanks.