Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. I’ve done over 500 of them now and if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to batgap.com, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu. And also, while you’re at it, poke around the site. You can subscribe to the audio podcast of the show or you can sign up to be notified by email when there’s a new interview posted and a number of other things. Also, there’s a PayPal button on the site because we can’t really do this without the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. But my concept from the beginning was to make it freely available and just to grow it to the point where a certain percentage of people would feel inclined to support it, and then we were able to devote our full attention to it. So if you feel so inclined, there’s that PayPal button. My guest today is Leah Cox. Leah lives in the UK, she was explaining to me, sort of between Manchester and Liverpool, northern area. And I’ll just read a little bio over here. Well, first of all, hi Leah, welcome.
Leah: Hi Rick, thank you for having me. Super excited and a little bit nervous.
Rick: That’s okay. Me too. [Laughter] So it’s good to meet you. So here’s a little bio of Leah. After graduating in French, we’re going to do this lecture in English, but after graduating in French from the University of Exeter and working for several years in conventional jobs in London, Leah found herself deeply unhappy, struggling with feelings of depression, anxiety, and disordered eating. An intense feeling of being a wrong human being and a desperation to find her purpose. Sounds like you must have been studying Camus or something when you were studying French. [Laughter]
Leah: I didn’t actually.
Rick: The French existentialists or whatever they were called, sitting around in cafes smoking Gauloises and feeling depressed. In 2012, she embarked on a journey of self-discovery, but even after several years of personal and spiritual growth, she found herself in all the same cycles. In 2016, through grace, good luck, and some wonderful people, Leah experienced her first true spiritual awakening, seeing through the illusion of the separate self and knowing herself clearly as the one love that we all are. For the very first time, she knew true peace, happiness, and freedom. Most importantly, the feeling of being a wrong human being left her completely. Since that time, her journey has been one of ongoing learning, integration, and unfolding. Leah works with clients one-on-one and runs online and in-person classes and workshops to support others’ journeys of healing, awakening, and following the call of the heart. Known for her tender, playful, and sometimes fiery spirit, her message is simple. You are already whole, you are already worthy, and you are never, ever outside the gates of love. That’s beautiful. I’ve been preparing for this interview by reading some of Leah’s essays. She doesn’t have a lot of videos online. This will be her first major one, but she writes beautifully and if you go to her website and start reading her blog posts and even subscribe to her blog to get notified of new ones when they come out, I think you’ll enjoy reading them. I have. Just one question pops to mind, and that is that some people might think, “Alright, well, it wasn’t until like three years ago that you had some kind of breakthrough, and here you are already working with clients one-to-one and running online in-person classes and workshops and so on and so forth.” Some people accuse spiritual teachers of jumping the gun, of getting into the game too soon. Have you ever met that objection and how would you respond to it if you had or did?
Leah: I’ve never met that. No one’s ever said that to me directly, although obviously I’ve heard that conversation. But I’ve asked myself that question a lot, “Is it okay that I’m doing this?” But probably an important part to say is that before that breakthrough several years ago, I was already working with clients, have been working with clients since 2013, but just the way that I do that has changed because of my own journey. I don’t necessarily have an answer to that. I question those things all the time myself, Rick.
Rick: Yeah. What were you doing with clients pre and post-breakthrough?
Leah: So before, it was… I guess I’d put it more in the realms of traditional self-improvement, self-development type work.
Rick: Which you had been working on with your own life.
Leah: Yeah, which the bit that you talked about in the bio, kind of all of those years of improvement and feeling like you were getting somewhere but then still finding yourself in the same, “Oh, but I’m still not happy and still not this and still not that.”
Rick: Well, one reason I feel okay about it and about not only you but a lot of people I interview is that the premise of this show is not that I’m interviewing the most enlightened or totally enlightened people, or anything like that because I don’t even know if there is such a thing. I think everybody’s a work in progress. And obviously, people are at different stages of development and all, but the times seem to be such that there’s a kind of a many-to-many dynamic taking place rather than someone sitting up in a dais with thousands of people, although there’s some of that too, and maybe that’s okay for those people. But there’s some value in being able to work one-on-one and very closely with someone who is more or less a peer, someone you can really relate to. I think a lot of benefit can be derived from that, and the person doesn’t have to be perfect or know everything or anything else, but they can, I’ve talked to so many people who have really benefited from that kind of relationship.
Leah: Right, I really agree with all of that, and I think there’s something about, forget about the spiritual and all the rest of it, but just being able to sit with a human being and offer a place of real listening and non-judgment, and that in itself is so beautiful and important, and that’s got nothing to do with spirituality.
Rick: Yeah, it kind of does. I mean, everything has something to do with spirituality, but anyway, I know what you mean. And it’s nice to be able to relate to people, or to interact with people that you can relate to that have been through a lot of things you’ve been through, and maybe found some solutions to them. Like you’ve been through eating disorders and various stages of self-doubt and depression and all, and have worked through that stuff, at least to a great degree. And so, other people who have been through the same things, you can inspire them and give them hope.
Leah: I like to think that.
Rick: Yeah, good. So, let’s talk more about your personal journey. The bio I read touched upon it, but, what are some of the – if you were to tell your story to somebody, you’re on a plane flight, you’re going to be with them for a while, and they want to know about your life. What are some of the things – and how would you tell that story, within reason, I mean, in terms of the amount of time we have available?
Leah: Right, it’s like an 11-hour flight to the U.S.
Rick: Yeah, you’re flying to New Delhi or something like that.
Leah: The very first thing that I often say as being an opening was when I was – it was 2011, and I was still working in my job in London, and I went to a yoga class. And that yoga class, I remember lying down in Savasana at the end, and just bursting into tears and couldn’t stop crying. And that felt like the first time that I just kind of entered this space of – that I had space, had space to think and to breathe and realize something was not okay in my life.
Rick: Did that take you by surprise, bursting into tears? You’re like, “Whoa, where’d this come from?”
Leah: Yeah, and I’m in this yoga class, and you’re trying not to cry, and you’re making all of those awful cries, trying to relax.
Rick: All right, so we were talking about the yoga class and Savasana and crying and stuff like that. So, that was just some kind of a little mini-breakthrough that took place there.
Leah: Yeah, it was like a little mini-experience. And then when I left my job in 2012, one of the early things that I did was a Transcendental Meditation course.
Rick: I used to be a teacher of that for a long time.
Leah: I heard that. So, that was kind of my first experience of meditation, which was really beautiful and helpful. And then at later points, I did a Vipassana retreat and went into that. And then all through that, I was just reading books, and I guess I felt like I was on a spiritual path. But like I said, after years of that, it also felt like nothing had changed. And then the major thing that happened, was in 2016, a friend had directed me to a website called Liberation Unleashed.
Rick: I’ve interviewed those ladies.
Rick: The Llona and Elena or something.
Leah: Yeah, exactly. And they hook you up with a guide, and they take you through this very simple process. And so I did that, and that was, like at the end of three weeks, it was just really obvious to me that there was no separate self. And it was as if I’d always known that. So, that was the thing that, for me, that was really the thing that started me on a whole new path.
Rick: I was glad to hear that, because sometimes I got the impression from people who had been involved in Liberation Unleashed that they had just kind of indulged in the intellectual understanding of it all, and had kind of mistaken that intellectual understanding for actual realization. Which I think sometimes people do, they just read too many books, and they get to learn the lingo, and they can talk the talk, and they start pontificating on Facebook and so on. But there hasn’t actually been an experiential shift, but I was glad to hear that the involvement in that group triggered an experiential shift for you.
Leah: Yeah, I found the person that I worked with was just, it was so simple, and the language was so simple, and it really was about just looking, just look and see, just look and see. And that’s all it was for three weeks, and I just found that incredible in its simplicity. And then after that, I…
Rick: Were you still doing any kind of meditation practice or anything while you were doing that?
Leah: Meditation, was I? Nothing regular, if I was, nothing regular. And then after that, I sort of randomly met a Buddhist in Turkey who had also been involved with Liberation Unleashed, and she hooked me up with a Buddhist friend of hers who helped me go further into that looking process. And I was communicating with him for a while, and then now I’m here.
Rick: Yeah, you are. And you seem very happy now, and all that wrongness and self-incrimination and so on seems to have totally dropped off.
Leah: Yeah, that part has…so, after that experience with Liberation Unleashed, I had a period of about three weeks where I just thought everything was perfect. I’ve made it, I really felt like that, I really felt like I’m here, I’ve made it, everything’s done. And then after about three weeks, all the normal stuff started to come back, like comparison, judgment, all the things I’d had before. But obviously with this different, underlying knowing behind all of that. But the one thing that didn’t come back, or hasn’t come back so far, is that feeling that, I’m just a really rotten. Rotten is the best word I can find, right at the core, that’s the one thing that’s gone and didn’t come back.
Rick: That’s good. What do you feel you are at the core now? If not rotten.
Leah: If not rotten. Gosh, how to word that.
Rick: Anything? Nothing?
Leah: I don’t know. Love is the closest word, but I just feel that I’m the same as everyone and everything else. There isn’t a word. I wouldn’t put a word to it.
Rick: Okay, that’s fair enough. Well, I think that your experience of “oh, I’m rotten” or other negative things one can feel about oneself, there’s a lot of people walking around in this world feeling that way, and just mired in it and unable to escape from it. And obviously in terms of what all the spiritual traditions tell us, they are not really, that’s not really who they are. And it’s a shame to go through life thinking that that’s who you are or what you are. So, it’s very beautiful to wake up out of that, right? And realize you’re something much nicer than that.
Leah: Yeah, it is very beautiful. I mean, that feeling of really, you don’t deserve to be here, it’s so painful. It’s such a horrible feeling.
Rick: Sure, think how many people commit suicide or take drugs that end up killing them or whatever, just trying to blot out that feeling.
Rick: Yeah. And so, it sounds like that whole way of thinking has completely dissipated for you, just moved on.
Leah: Yeah, that’s just gone. It’s just gone. I mean, life is still, life is up and down. There are all sorts of challenges. I feel everything, all sorts of things. But no matter what I’m feeling, I don’t ever feel I don’t deserve to be here. I’m wrong. I think one of the other things that came from that experience and everything since that experience is just this overwhelming compassion for myself and for everybody else. You just see that we’re all just doing the best that we can. We just, that’s all we’re ever doing. And I really feel that so strongly. And you look at the people who are going through things, and you just think, “Well, yeah, we can’t help it.”
Rick: Yeah, the earth can be a challenging place to live. And so, are you a full-time teacher of some sort? I don’t know if you’d call yourself a teacher, but what you do now, this spiritual stuff, do you do this full-time?
Leah: Full-time, I work one day, I just recently started working one day a week in a gallery and a shop in Lancaster where I live. So, almost full-time.
Rick: How many people do you work with?
Leah: It totally varies. At the moment, just I’m doing three. I’ve got three clients each month that I’m working with, one on one, over a longer period of time. But we had some discussion with Irene about the work that I’m offering, and I feel like that is one of the fluctuating parts of my journey still. I’m still trying to find my way of doing that. I don’t feel like I’ve quite found that, necessarily.
Rick: Well, I’m sure it’ll evolve. I don’t know if you’ll ever find it in any kind of final way. When you’re 70 years old, it’ll probably still be evolving.
Rick: Yeah, that point about discussing it with Irene, she was probably… When we evaluate somebody to interview them, one of the things we look at is, are they charging $600 an hour or some such thing? Because that makes us feel uncomfortable. But I think Irene determined that whatever you’re doing, it’s very reasonable. [Laughter]
Rick: So, there were some points. First of all, a lot of people suffer from eating disorders, especially I think younger women do. And you mentioned you went through some of that. Is there anything worth dwelling on there that might help people who have that kind of thing?
Leah: Yeah, I’m really happy to speak about it.
Rick: Yeah, why don’t you? It might be helpful to some people.
Leah: Yeah, because like you say, I feel like, maybe it’s the majority of people that have some sort of, not quite healthy relationship with food. So, it’s always difficult to say when things started, but I guess the time that I became really conscious of there being a problem was at university and then the years following university. And I went through a long period of very restricted eating. And then…
Rick: Meaning what? You thought you couldn’t digest anything and you were like…
Leah: Just really controlling what I was eating. So, eating very small amounts and, even that felt like too much, I shouldn’t have eaten that. So, just really restricting the amount that I was eating to control, to make myself thinner or to feel better about the way that I looked or, whatever.
Rick: I can’t imagine you ever being overweight, look like this.
Leah: I don’t think I ever, I mean, I never really was overweight. Perhaps I’d like slightly rounder cheeks or whatever. So, I went through a period of really… I remember being in France with my partner at the time and he would slice up an apple for me in the evening and I’d have like a slice of apple and a yogurt and that would be my dinner. So ridiculous thinking about it now, but… And then I went through a really, really long period of binge eating. So, just eating everything in sight and eating rubbish and then the cycles of feeling awful about that and then thinking I’ll never do that again because I feel so sick. But then doing it over and over and over again.
Rick: Yeah. I actually went through a similar phase back in the 70s. I was on courses in France and, I guess mostly France, and I went through this whole fasting phase, because I thought it would purify me and help me get enlightened faster and so on. And then after doing a whole lot of fasting, like really crazy stuff, I got down to, I don’t know, 120 pounds or something, which is light for me. Then I just got into this whole binge eating thing and I’d end up looking pregnant after a meal because I’d eaten so much I couldn’t stop myself. So, it took a long time to get balanced and integrated again.
Leah: Right. Oh, well, you’ll have to tell me about how that happened for you then because it’ll be interesting to compare experiences. For me, I feel like what’s happened is that I’ve never really put a focus on fixing that problem, but through this journey of spiritual awakening, whatever you want to call it, the need for that or the desire for that has just fallen away gradually, gradually, gradually. And that whole compassion piece, I think, has been really important as well because when that was still happening, when I was turning to food, that could happen. But instead of there then being that whole beating yourself up part, there was compassion for that happening and not kind of fixating on the awfulness of it, but, okay, well, that’s happened, that’s okay. And just letting the process happen is what it has felt like to me.
Rick: Yeah, well, that to which we give our attention grows stronger in our lives. And here I was doing this six-month meditation course where I was meditating most of the day, and yet I was reading food books about fasting and all this stuff, and I just became obsessed with it. I have a tendency to become obsessive, and that became my focus, which is ridiculous. I should have been just totally focused on the deeper value of what I was doing. So, I think the problem eventually dissipated when I just stopped putting my attention there. It just wasn’t that important or interesting for me to put my attention on. It was just this obsession I got into for a while. And now I just don’t think about it. My wife serves me nice meals, or I eat decent stuff, and it’s not that big a focus.
Leah: Yeah, I relate to that as well. It just, the thinking around it kind of just becomes less and less until it’s just not a thing anymore.
Rick: Yeah, I mean we can really get obsessed with things, politics or religious things or anything. People have a tendency to get nutty about stuff. And, again, that to which you give your attention grows stronger in your life. So, there’s a principle, highest first. Put your attention on what you consider really to be the highest and don’t get sidetracked by stuff. Have you ever been suicidal back in those days?
Leah: I’ve definitely, I was just…
Rick: Thinking about it?
Leah: Yeah, I sent a message to a friend about this just last night actually. I definitely have had suicidal thoughts. But what I said to him was that I don’t know how serious I ever was. I think I would have been too scared to follow. I wouldn’t have known how to follow through. I wouldn’t have known what to do. But definitely I had those thoughts of, “Oh my goodness, I don’t want to be here anymore. This is too much. It’s too hard.” But how serious they were, I don’t think I was at a point of, you know…
Rick: Yeah. Well, I bring that one up because there’s another example of something that young people go through sometimes and many of them actually take action on it. And if we can discuss it for a minute and save a life, great. Because you’re an example of somebody who went through hard times emotionally in terms of your self-image and stuff and came out the other side a very happy person. So, if I were to speak to someone who were contemplating that, I would just say there’s so much potential in life, So much beauty and wonder and ability to grow into something marvelous. Just don’t even contemplate that.
Leah: Right. And yet, when you’re in that feeling, it’s really… You’re not in that on purpose, are you? You can’t… Yeah.
Rick: Yeah, you’re just mired in it. You can’t see beyond it usually.
Leah: Yeah, you can’t, otherwise people wouldn’t do it. If it didn’t feel like the only possible solution at that moment, then I guess people wouldn’t take their lives. So, it’s… yeah.
Rick: Yeah, there’s a sort of an ontological reason too for not doing it, which is, people may not believe this, but this body is not the only one we’ve had or will have, and just destroying this one isn’t going to solve your problems. You’re just going to pick them up again next time. At least, that’s the way I see it. And so, I had a realization when I was about 18. I had been through some difficult times over the previous years, and I just had this realization, the only way out is up. It’s not down through blotting out my awareness with drugs, or it’s certainly not suicide, although I didn’t contemplate that myself. But the only way out is up, and if you just keep kind of ascending the ladder of evolution, there’s glorious possibilities, so that should be the focus.
Leah: Right. I would love to know, you must have spoken about this on many of your previous interviews, but I would love to hear a little bit about your experience with drugs.
Rick: Well, I’ve spoken about it on too many of them probably, I was a teenager in the late ’60s, which was the heyday of the psychedelic era, and I experimented with that stuff for about a year, and did acid a number of times, and marijuana just about every day, and so on for a period of about a year. And by the end of it, I mean, the upside of it was it made me realize there was more to life than meets the eye, and that your perspective is everything. I mean, the way you actually perceive the world is, if you can alter that for the better, that’s more pivotal than just trying to alter the world. As someone said, it’s easier to wear shoes than to pave the earth with leather. But, that way of going about it, for me, was, although I had those little glimpses and realizations, was destructive. After a year, I had dropped out of high school and gotten arrested a couple of times, and was starting to mess with hard drugs like heroin, and I just had this epiphany one night that I was going to destroy myself if I continued along that path, and that I needed to quit it and learn meditation and just take a higher path. And so that’s what I did, and things turned around pretty quick.
Leah: Wow. I really love talking to people and hearing about people’s experiences with addiction, drugs, all of those things, because I feel like I just meet so many people now in kind of similar experiences. And I think the more people you have as reference points that have, they’ve had something change in their lives, it’s just really, it’s helpful, I think.
Rick: Yeah. I kind of thought of, even then I had this sort of vague, and my thinking was pretty muddled, but I thought, the body is kind of, like if you have a car and you dump dirty, polluted, cheap fuel into it, then you’re going to ruin the engine. And I thought, well, I’m sort of putting, my body is like a vehicle through which I’m living life, and if I put this crap in it, I’m going to damage it, and I may end up living my whole life in a damaged vehicle. So I thought, well, got to change that before I do some irreparable harm to myself.
Leah: Yeah, and I loved your point as well, which is not something that I think about often, about, if you get rid of this body, you’re just going to pick up the same things in another body. I loved hearing that.
Rick: Yeah. Alright, well, here’s a nice question. This question came in from someone named Bhavna in Dallas, Texas. This will get us going on an interesting topic. She said, “Leah, I have noticed you talk a lot about trusting the universe and our experiences being tailor-made for us. On the other hand, many teachers talk about life just happening without meaning and that we create illusory meaning and stories ourselves that have no basis in reality. This feels like somewhat of a paradox. Do you have any thoughts on this?”
Leah: Yeah, that it is a paradox, and that I feel that both of those things are true. That life is just happening, and that everything is happening for us, and not for us, because life is just happening for itself, which equally means for us, but it’s not for us, the personal us, exactly. I just know that in my experience, or maybe it is, maybe I just convince myself that this is, maybe it serves me to think this way, but to think that anything that shows up in life is an opportunity feels in service to me, and feels like a much easier way to go through life than to think, “Well, this is a shit thing,” or whatever. But I think that word paradox is just everything on the spiritual path, as far as I can see. It’s just both all the time. Everything is a paradox. It’s this and it’s that.
Rick: Yeah, I use the word so often that somebody once sent me a t-shirt with the word paradox on it. I think a lot depends, I mean, obviously the truth doesn’t depend on our perspective. Let’s say we were firmly convinced the earth is flat, that doesn’t flatten the earth. The earth is what it is. And so, if we happen to perceive life or the universe as completely meaningless and dumb material stuff that’s random and accidental and so on, that might be our perspective, but that doesn’t actually make it so. And it’s just one of those less than edifying, inspiring perspectives that people choose, or that they get stuck in. But, you want to respond to that before I say anything more?
Leah: Yeah, hearing you speak, just that word meaningless has been one that’s been quite important for me, I suppose, in maybe the last six months, because I feel like there was this realization that life doesn’t need meaning in order for it to be meaningful. And so I kind of simultaneously experience that there isn’t a meaning, there isn’t a meaning as such, and yet it’s full of meaning as well, which is just really saying the same thing.
Rick: I think I know what you mean, and tell me if this is what you mean, and that is that, the universe doesn’t have to fit itself within the dimensions of the human intellect. So, there’s a mystery to it that might exceed our capacity for rational understanding, so it doesn’t need to be meaningful in that way, but there’s a deeper, more mystical meaning, you could say, or a sort of a fundamental purposefulness or intelligence to the whole thing that we can intuit either dimly or even cognize quite clearly, and we might not even be able to articulate it in words, but it’s profoundly meaningful.
Leah: I think that’s a beautiful way of putting it, Rick, and I think you’ve articulated it very well.
Rick: Yeah, thanks. Sometimes people knock concepts. They say, “Oh, you’re just conceptualizing,” or something. But everything we say by way of communication is, through using concepts, every word represents, it’s a sound that represents a concept, and that’s how we communicate. And we try to find words that pertain to shared experiences. Like you mentioned an apple earlier, and if someone had never eaten one, the word wouldn’t be very meaningful, but most of us have, and therefore when you say “apple,” I know what you mean, and I can imagine what it tastes like, and so on. And that’s true also of spiritual ideas. Even God, I mean, some people, that’s a meaningless word. Other people have a deep enough experience that it means something to them experientially.
Leah: Right. That’s another really interesting word as well. Yeah.
Rick: Yeah. Okay, well, in pursuit of her question a little bit more, this idea of, the universe guiding us and things not being capricious or arbitrary, I took some notes, and there are various points at which you write about this.
Leah: I love hearing things that I’ve written reflected back to me, because I never know whether I’ll remember it or not.
Rick: Here’s a little bit. You did a, one of your blog posts was entitled “Trust Everything Because,” and I excerpted from that the following little quote. You said, “I have come to see that my ideas about life and the way I would like it are quite puny indeed in comparison to the majestic ideas of the universe. Trust everything, for there is nothing that is not your path.” So, can we really trust everything? Whatever is happening, can we, there’s a great story in which the punchline is, everything God does is for the best. And this guy goes through all these travails and ends up getting thrown in prison, but it ends up actually saving his life because he was in prison. And, the guy who threw him in prison came to apologize, because he realized he did so unjustly, and the guy said, “Hey, everything God does is for the best. If I hadn’t been here in the prison cell, I would have been killed.” So, it sounds glib when you say that to people who are really going through terrible times, like their child just died or something. How would you sort of defend that idea, if you would, under such circumstances?
Leah: Well, I don’t know about your experience, but when I look backwards, in retrospect, there isn’t anything that I can find in life that I wish hadn’t happened or that doesn’t now feel like it was part of, that it was just fine, that it was just, it’s okay that it was there. And if that’s true of everything that’s already happened, which has been wildly like this, then why would that not be true of everything else that’s to come? And like you say, of course, when you’re in those really, really, really challenging times, it’s not always possible or easy to feel that way or to perceive it that way. But I don’t see how we can ever not be on our path, because that’s life. Life is the path, and that’s whatever happens.
Rick: Yeah. I remember one time I said to my mother, “Mom, don’t ever feel bad about anything you did while you were raising me, because I’m really happy with the way my life is turning out. So, whatever you did must have been good.” She really liked that. If you have, it’s like a paradigm thing, if your paradigm, if your understanding of the world is that there is a deeper intelligence and that there is an evolutionary purpose to the universe and trajectory to it, and if all the beings in the universe are being shepherded along toward higher and higher expressions of their divine nature, then you can kind of, although it may not be completely obvious why all the things in our lives have happened as they have, you can at least say, “Okay, well, I just trust that all this was meant to happen. I don’t exactly see why I had to live with an alcoholic father or something, but nonetheless, I trust that God knows what He’s doing and that everything is in the big picture in service of evolution for all beings, for all people.” However, if you don’t have that underlying assumption, and it’s not necessarily obvious to everyone, then life could seem very cruel and arbitrary and meaningless. Maybe one question is, how can we instill within ourselves and help others to instill that kind of perspective?
Leah: Yeah, I’m terrible at articulating the answers to these questions because for me, it’s all a feeling, it’s all just wrapped up in this feeling of this continuous unfolding journey.
Rick: How can people enliven that feeling within themselves? Is there anything you could advise that would help them do that?
Leah: Well, if I just go off my own experience, which I would say that it’s just been about following what comes up in the moment. For example my friend pointed me to Liberation Unleashed, so I had a feeling that, and I went there, and then this book came up and that book came up. For me, it’s really just about being in your own process and trusting that your own process, that it’s going to bring you to the understanding of who you really are through whatever it is that is going to speak to you. And over time, that trust deepens. For me, it’s been that way. It just deepens over time. But I couldn’t sit here and say, this is the way to kind of instill that paradigm, because I think it’s unique to everybody, the way people come to all these things. Maybe someone’s going to watch this interview and hear something that sounds right to them, or maybe they’re going to watch another one, and it will be a completely different direction, but with the same message. Does that make sense?
Rick: It does. And I suppose that, like trust in anything, the trust deepens if you gain experience which reinforces it. It’s like learning to ride a bicycle or something. You’re really scared at first that you’re going to fall off, and then as you get better at it, you trust that you won’t or something. Maybe that’s not a good example, but there are many things in life where if we try something and it pans out, we do it again and it works out. After a while we begin to almost take it for granted that we can do those things and it’s going to work out. So, in terms of what we’re talking about, if you sort of follow your intuition and it turns out to be valid and to be rewarding, then next time you’re perhaps a little bit more inclined to follow it.
Leah: Yeah, and I think, for me, something has always been calling me to keep going and go, something knows, I think something inside you knows. I mean, for anyone listening to these interviews, like why are they listening to them? Something inside must know that there’s something there. So, in a way, it’s already happening, that trust is already happening within us, whether we recognize that or not.
Rick: And I think everyone has it, it’s just blotted out to varying degrees. In some people it’s really overshadowed, in other people there’s quite a bright glimmer of that inner knowing. But whatever it is, whatever degree, it can always be brightened, I think. You just have to keep taking steps in that direction, or it can be dimmed further if you take steps in the opposite direction.
Leah: Yeah, and maybe that is also okay, and maybe that is also to be trusted.
Rick: True, and maybe there’s lessons inherent in that. Put your hand on the stove, you get burned, all right, well, maybe I shouldn’t do that again.
Leah: Right, or like you were saying with your experience with drugs, reaching that point of, “Wow, this is ruining my body, and something has to change.” Sometimes you have to go really far down, don’t you, to have those realizations.
Rick: It’s true. Alcoholics sometimes talk about hitting bottom, and then they realize that they need to, they can’t do it on their own, they need to seek a higher power or something bigger than themselves in order to make it.
Rick: Well, maybe we’ve covered that point, do you think?
Leah: Great question, though. I recognize that name. I think that lady may have recently just come across my work, so thank you for the question.
Rick: Yeah, she seems familiar with you. Good, and anybody else who wants to ask a question, feel free to send it in, go to the upcoming interviews page on BatGap. There’s one point that you brought up in your notes to me that you thought would be interesting to talk about. There are quite a few, I have a couple pages here, so we’re not going to run out of things. And that is awakening and the loss of personal drive/motivation. I’ve been through that kind of thing myself, and it’s interesting to contemplate. So, let’s talk about that for a bit.
Leah: Yeah. I love talking about shared experiences. So actually this is recent, so quite a good chunk of last year, 2018. I really just had very little drive to do anything at all. And I think if I didn’t have the paradigm or the inner knowing that I have, I could well have thought that I was depressed, except that when there were things to do, I had no problem doing them. If I had calls with clients, no problem. There was no problem with any of that, but to put extra effort in, to create new things, to do anything, there was just nothing there. There was just absolutely nothing there for several months. And sitting with that was at times very challenging. And one of the things that really helped me through that period was Adyashanti.
Rick: Oh, good old Adya, yeah.
Leah: Yeah, his speaking of that particular experience I think is very clear and very helpful. So that was really helpful to me in that period last year. And then it passed, and I don’t know how, but it has.
Rick: Yeah, I think there’s a transition that people have to make from the ego-bound orientation, where you feel like, “I am this, and I am doing this,” and so on, to a relaxation into a much broader sense of who or what you are, and who or what is driving, holding the reins of the chariots. And as that transition progresses, there can be a kind of a gap period during which it’s not clear which is which, and there can be a sort of a vacillation between one and the other, a sense of personal control and a sense of, I don’t know what. And eventually it all settles out. But what do you think about that? Does that resonate with your experience?
Leah: Yeah, that really resonates. The word vacillation is a really good word for that, “Oh no, I’ve got to do something. I’ve got to be in control of this. Oh no, I can’t.” I definitely went through several cycles of that, “Oh my goodness, I’ve got to do something.” And then in trying to realize that there was no energy to do anything, so just having to fall back into that not doing. What was your experience of that? I would really…
Rick: Well, kind of like what I said, but, very often I just felt like I didn’t want to be decisive or take any initiatives because I felt like I didn’t want it to be the “I,” the localized “I” that was taking the initiative. So there was a tendency to go with the flow, but to the point of passivity or indecisiveness. And I don’t know, that doesn’t… maybe Irene will correct me on this, but it doesn’t seem to be the way it is anymore. I feel very motivated and decisive when need be, but in more of a… Well, it’s like I was chatting about this with a friend the other day in an email, because I had quoted a quote that said, “Humility is the quality of not insisting that things happen any particular way.” And she said, “Well, you’ve used that quote a lot, but the main thing is, if you’re ego-bound, then you can’t be humble and you can’t be aligned with the sort of higher intelligence.” I said, “Yeah, I think that’s exactly the point, because if you are ego-bound, then you tend to be insistent like that, but if…” I don’t know, I’m talking too much, but… well, go ahead and spring off of what I just said, because I don’t want to be so long-winded.
Leah: That’s all right, I like listening to you. I think the word “settling down” or the phrase “settling down” as well really speaks to my experience. And, again, I think it comes back to, at that point when that happened, there was enough trust or enough knowing of what I was going through, thanks to also hearing experiences from people like Adyashanti or other teachers, that you’re able to, although it’s very uncomfortable and challenging, you’re able to somehow sit in that experience. And like you say, now you feel very motivated, actually, but there’s a different quality to it. And I definitely, I feel motivated, happy to get up in the morning, excited to get up in the morning, and yet very flexible in the way life is and what happens and how things happen.
Rick: Yeah, I think sometimes it’s like, if our motivations are aligned with the higher purpose of what we actually should be doing, then things can go very smoothly and we can be very determined and ambitious and engaged and so on. And the wind will be at our back, we’ll get support because we’re in the right groove. But if they’re not aligned that way, then we can get smacked down because we’re trying to do what we’re not supposed to be doing. And Adya is a case in point. He wanted to be a competitive bicycle racer, and he was pushing himself to do that, even after he had had some sort of spiritual awakening, and he found himself in bed for six months. And then he finally got better and he tried to do it again, and he got smacked down again. And finally he got the message and pursued what he was more or less supposed to be doing. And then things went more smoothly for him.
Leah: Right. And in hearing that, what you said really near the beginning of our conversation about, should people who have had fairly recent experiences be sitting in this space of working with people or sharing online or in whatever capacity they’re doing it, and it makes me think, we’re called to what we’re called to. And there’s an alignment in that. And I know that for me, I just, I’m just called to what I’m called to. So it just made me think of that hearing you talk about him and his cycling, and then actually that’s not what, that was not really aligned for him.
Rick: Yeah, it perhaps had been at a certain stage, and he had fun with it, but he had passed that stage, and he was trying to do the old thing instead of the new thing that he was supposed to switch to.
Leah: Yeah. I mean, that as well, isn’t it? It’s like holding on to the things that you’ve always done, and there’s something inside that knows that it’s this other thing or this other direction. But, moving in that direction can be really difficult.
Rick: Yeah, and he still takes vacations where he goes out mountain biking and stuff, but it’s not like he’s trying to make a career of it. So he gets away with that.
Leah: I can really imagine him on a mountain bike.
Rick: Yeah, he likes to do that. So our friend Dan in London who sends me the questions said, “I felt inspired to compile a list of spiritual paradoxes after the response to the last question.” Let’s play with these. He said, “One, we have complete free will, and yet we have no free will at all.”
Leah: Oh gosh. Yeah. Oh my gosh, I don’t even know what to say in response to that. Yes. Because on the one hand, I feel that nothing can ever be any different to how it has been. Like no choice could, nothing. So that comes into the kind of judgment and compassion for other people, because I feel like nothing could ever be different to how it is or how that action couldn’t have been anything other than what it was. And at the same time, there’s this feeling of choice in every moment.
Rick: Yeah. I think you have to be honest and true to what you actually are experiencing. And if you experience that you seem to have choice, then don’t use some alibi of there being no free will to just do God knows what. I mean, there have actually been cases where people have done really egregious things and rationalized them as being sort of like, there’s no free will and I’m not really the actor and this is just happening and I’m not doing it and yada yada yada. And meanwhile, they’re doing criminal things. So, you’ll face the consequences for those things and then you might think twice about that philosophy. So, if we feel we have choice, exercise it.
Leah: Yeah. I completely agree.
Rick: And if you really are so cosmic that God is running the show and you have nothing, no choice whatsoever, then fine. But don’t pretend that you’re in that state.
Leah: Yeah, yeah. Agreed.
Rick: Yeah. Here’s another one from Dan. Dan is good at paradoxes. “We are completely individual beings and we are also completely unbounded.”
Leah: Yeah. [laughs]
Rick: I should be interviewing Dan.
Leah: Yeah! Come on, Dan. Yeah, I don’t have words for that, Rick. Just yes, yes, yes.
Rick: Yeah. I mean, would you concur with this? If you were to describe your experience, would it be fair to say, “I’m everywhere, I’m nowhere, and I’m right here”?
Leah: Yeah. I feel like a human being. I don’t walk around experiencing oneness all the time. I feel like a human being in a body. And I also experience that I am exactly the same as everyone and everything else, and that it’s all, there’s only one.
Rick: So, you could say perhaps that there’s a multidimensionality to things where these paradoxes can be resolved as long as we just appreciate that, the knowledge or truth is different at different levels of creation and paradoxical truths can simultaneously be true in the larger basket of the totality.
Leah: Yeah. I really like that way of putting it. Black and white is very difficult these days. It’s kind of, it can all, I feel that the space for it all to be true in its place.
Rick: That’s very true in physics too. I mean, there are all kinds of paradoxes in things which are, things are physical yet non-physical, they’re a wave and yet they’re a particle, and so, it’s not always black and white, either/or.
Leah: Yeah. It reminds me, there was a lady that once spoke to, there was a group of us and she spoke to us about, she used an example of a little heart and a big heart, hopefully I’m going off in the right direction here, and the big heart was Mooji, or, you know, or some equivalent to Mooji, where it’s, we’re just, we’re pure awareness, we’re consciousness, that conversation, and then the little heart, we’re the suffering and our individual experience of pain and suffering, so if we’re working with people in a kind of therapeutic capacity, or just as a friend, you’re just trying to help a friend or whatever, if we’re just in the little heart and only stay there, then we can’t ever truly, come out of suffering, but if we go only straight to Mooji, and only, don’t kind of give any attention or compassion to the human suffering, it can be very damaging as well. So, I guess what I’m saying, the reason I brought that up is that those two truths of our, our humanness and our suffering and the tenderness involved in that, and at the same time, we’re not those things, but they go together.
Rick: Yeah. A couple of things from the Upanishads come to mind. One is this verse which is, “Two birds sit in the selfsame tree. One eats of the sweet fruit, and the other eats not, and just watches.” Get that? There’s sort of the silent witness value in our experience, and there’s also the engaged, active human value. And they’re both, the two birds of our nature. And the other is related to what you just said, I forget which Upanishad, but it says, “Into blinding darkness go those who worship ignorance, and into even greater darkness go those who worship knowledge.” And I think what that means is that if you sort of glom on to the absolute view and use it to dismiss relative views and values, then in a way, that’s an even greater confusion than just being stuck in the relative view.
Leah: Yeah. It’s such an interesting conversation, the relative and the absolute, and, the place for each of those, and especially from the perspective of, wanting to support someone through something. Because I guess there are teachers who are just, I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong, but who are kind of more locked on to the absolute view, and then there are those who have more space for both of those, both those things, and I definitely feel like I’m the latter of those.
Rick: Yeah. No, actually, avoid interviewing the former, because when I start to check them out, and they’re sitting there saying, “You’re not a person, and nothing exists, and don’t do anything, and you don’t need to do any sort of practice because you’re already enlightened,” and this and that, I think, “I don’t want to, if I talk to this person, it will be a big argument, so I’m not going to do it.”
Leah: I’d love to see an argument online.
Rick: Had a bit of that with Tony Parsons, bless his soul, but anyway. Here’s another paradox from Dan. “There is only the current moment, yet there is also a past and a future.”
Leah: Yeah, that’s a great one, isn’t it? Because I mean, even within the space of this conversation, I’ve been talking about looking back and regret and all the rest of it, and I experience that as part of my experience of being human, and yes, there is only this, we’re only ever in this moment. And again, for me, it’s not a problem, they’re both true.
Rick: Yeah. And I’m taking a physics course right now, physics and consciousness, and so little examples are coming up from that. But, take a photon, right? So, from our perspective, it takes about 2 million years for a photon to get here from the Andromeda galaxy, which is our closest neighbor galaxy. But from the photon’s perspective, if you could hitch a ride on a photon which travels at the speed of light, because it is light, the trip takes place instantaneously. There’s no time elapsed, and therefore there’s no space elapsed either, because if you go from here to there instantly, then here is there and there is here. And so both of those are true, it’s just a matter of the perspective of the observer. So again, we’re talking about paradox, and, one individual perspective doesn’t necessarily encapsulate the entire truth of a thing.
Leah: This physics course sounds amazing.
Rick: Oh, it’s great fun.
Leah: Yeah. I think paradox is just one of those things that you become more and more comfortable with, and I don’t know if that’s your experience as well, but I just become more and more comfortable with those opposing things, and rather than struggling with them, it’s like the joy and the pain. I often talk about things in nature and seasons, so I’ll often have this experience, especially in spring, and there’s a cemetery just by my house that I walk in a lot, and I have this experience of just being overwhelmed with joy by the beauty of it and simultaneously feeling so sad that it’s already leaving. It’s already leaving, and holding those things is sometimes very challenging, but what else can you do? But you just have to kind of allow it all to be there, all of both those things, and it’s strange.
Rick: Yeah. Well, it’s like if you walk into your house, there’s a certain joy in coming into the house and encountering what’s there, but there’s also you’re leaving the garden, and the garden was nice too. But I don’t know if we have to feel pain with the change of the seasons and so on, because each thing is a fresh adventure. But I understand what you’re saying.
Leah: Yeah, I definitely feel I often have this feeling of beauty and joy and sorrow at the same time. I often have that feeling.
Rick: Yeah, poignant. One more from Dan. “To be completely empty is to be completely full.”
Leah: Yeah, that’s a great one. Oh, that’s so good.
Rick: Dan, if you go into the bumper sticker, the spiritual bumper sticker business.
Leah: Yeah, that would be great, a little sideline. Yeah, when everything is emptied out. So, the way that I’m feeling and experiencing that phrase is when there’s kind of that experience of nothingness and everything is dropped away and there’s emptiness, somehow there’s a feeling of being more full than there has ever been before. That’s what I feel when I hear that.
Rick: Yeah, and it’s funny, you know, because the Buddhists sort of talk of emptiness, shunya, and the Hindus talk of fullness, purna, but I really think they’re talking about the same thing. It’s just how you look at it.
Leah: Yeah, that’s a really good one.
Rick: There’s one more wrap-up point I wanted to make about what we were talking about earlier, about motivation and drive and stuff, and that is that, in nature there’s a principle of least effort. That’s just the way nature functions. If you throw a ball or something, there are a million different trajectories the ball could take, but it actually takes the most efficient one, given the forces that are operating on it, gravity and air resistance and so on. It takes the absolutely most efficient trajectory it could possibly take. It doesn’t do little loops or something like that just for fun. And I think that a lot of people function in a very effortful way in life. They’re not aligned with that principle of least effort. I think one aspect of spiritual awakening or evolution is that you become more aligned with the way nature itself functions, and so activity begins to become more efficient and effortless. And in the process, it might feel like you’re getting lazy or not putting the effort into things that you used to, but actually you’re just beginning to work in a more smooth and efficient manner, and harmony with nature itself.
Leah: Yeah, I really like that. And I definitely have experienced and spoken with a number of clients on that, exactly that feeling of, “Am I being lazy?” And going through that transition, because it’s so foreign to be doing less in a less effortful way. We’re so trained, it seems, to more effort, more, more, more. So, that conversation around being lazy, but actually it’s just more natural, that’s all.
Rick: Yeah. Well, I think sometimes people can be lazy, obviously.
Leah: Yeah, of course.
Rick: I know people who just sit around a coffee shop and chat all day, and one of them is a woodworker, and you try to hire him to do a job, and it just takes forever to get the result you’re paying for. And yet you drive by the coffee shop, and there he is just sitting, talking to people. So there’s a value to being purposeful, but even a very busy person with a lot of responsibility could be operating, who from the outside looks like they’re really working hard. Somebody like Amma, for instance, if you know who Amma is, they’re very focused, and just put in many, many hours a day doing what they do. But there’s a sort of an effortlessness to it, a sort of an efficiency to it, which actually makes it possible for them to work so hard, to put in, they don’t burn up energy unnecessarily.
Leah: Yeah, I think that’s one of the really interesting things, isn’t it? That you can actually be very busy, but for that not to burn you out because it’s coming from a different place, and it’s all aligned natural action.
Leah: Yeah, I think that’s one of the really, because it isn’t about, I often have conversations with a particular friend about Nelson Mandela, and the extent of what he was doing and the motivation that he had to do what he did. It’s just, if that’s coming from a place of extreme effort, then it would just be impossible. It’s like the deeper you go into that, the more responsibility you can take for doing more in a way, and it’s not about doing less in the world, it’s about actually doing oftentimes more in the world, but in a more natural, efficient way.
Rick: Yeah, Gandhi might be an example. I mean, passive nonviolence and passive resistance, just rather than take up arms against the British, did all kinds of things in a more passive way and got this major power, far more powerful than the Indian resistance movement, to leave the country.
Rick: Go to the sea and make salt, in order not to pay the tax, and one thing after another in that way. Anyway, makes the point. Yeah, another question came in. This is from Miroslav Maklanov from Kitchener, Ontario, Canada. “How have your experiences changed in your work with your clients since your awakening? Do you see the difference in how your clients are responding to your new point of view?”
Leah: Do I see a way they’re responding to my new point of view?
Rick: Yeah. I mean, you’re sort of working differently with them than you used to, but…
Leah: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I was really working on different things a lot of the time. So before, it was very, a lot of my conversations were, “What do you want to do with your life, and let’s make that happen,” type stuff. It was that sort of stuff. And now I much prefer, or I guess what I love the most is sitting with people who are more in a therapeutic way. So things like anxiety, eating disorders, that feeling of shame, being wrong. So I find it hard to compare because I feel like they’re just two totally separate things for me. But I mean, the way in which I work is definitely completely different. I feel like I just, it’s so much more about just being, creating a space for people without any judgment to explore, rather than feeling like you’ve got to find, steps for people to take and things for them to do and to become the person in the world that they want to be. And that whole conversation, it just doesn’t feel relevant or true for me anymore. So it’s often now more about just a loving space of acceptance of people.
Rick: Good. You wrote some nice poems, and you speak of your own personal experience about romantic relationships as a source of spiritual growth and healing.
Rick: Here’s a quote from one of your blog posts. You say, “One of the traps of the spiritual path is to tell ourselves that because we’re pure consciousness, we shouldn’t feel sad or we should be able to get over things more quickly. True spirituality is a welcoming of the full spectrum of our tender emotions, whilst also knowing that the truth of who we are is the space in which all those things appear.” I guess that quote doesn’t directly relate to romantic relationships, but it can. But then you also wrote another one, I remember, where you talked about how it’s like hearts are made to be broken and healed and broken and healed. And so, you’re encouraging people to just not put the brakes on and just enjoy, open their hearts and let them be vulnerable. And even if they end up getting broken, they’ll heal, right?
Leah: Yeah. I can feel myself getting a little bit sweaty now because I’ve written those really recently and it’s a new relationship that I’ve just entered into. So, yeah, and just this feeling of, just wanting to be very open and to not have to hide bits of ourselves and for it to be okay to feel all of those feelings and not to make it wrong. I mean, I’ve definitely been through times on this path of feeling well because I’m spiritual and because I’m this, then it’s not okay to feel sad or it’s not okay to say this or it’s not okay to disagree. And so letting go of all of that as well. And that’s a journey for me, I feel like at the moment as well, in this new context of a romantic relationship is allowing all of that to be okay and not suppressing that because I’m spiritual.
Rick: And so, since your awakening, is this your first relationship that you’ve gotten into since the 2016 thing?
Leah: There was one other short-ish, so this is the second.
Rick: And do you feel like it has a very different kind of quality or orientation than the pre-awakening ones did?
Leah: Yeah, for sure. I definitely feel like that. I’ve thought about it a lot recently for obvious reasons and wondered whether part of it is just maturity or how much of it is related to spiritual awakening versus just growing up a bit.
Rick: Maybe some of both.
Leah: Some of both, I presume. But yeah, I just feel, I think the biggest thing is that all of the things in previous relationships where there was an opportunity to take everything personally and to fly off the handle, get upset, all of those little things that happen that someone says or doesn’t say, there’s much less taking things personally. Or if I take something personally, then I see that I’m taking it personally and I realize that I don’t need to. I’m also just kind of tired of entering into the drama, actually. I just feel when things come up, it’s released very quickly because I don’t have the energy for the drama.
Rick: Sounds good. I presume your partner has a similar orientation, spiritual interest and stuff?
Leah: Yeah, he’s interested.
Rick: Here’s a nice little thing you wrote, kind of a poem. I thought this might be worth reading to have you elaborate on it. It said, “I will not call myself lucky for walking with the sun and bedding down with the moon. I will instead shriek the madness of the world from my bed until we have all become lucky, and lucky has become normal, and normal has been remembered as the natural way of things.” I like that.
Leah: I like that too. I don’t remember where that came from.
Rick: It’s from you.
Leah: I know!
Rick: You wrote that, unless you plagiarized.
Leah: I like that one too. Can you read it again?
Rick: Sure. “I will not call myself lucky for walking with the sun and bedding down with the moon. I will instead shriek the madness of the world from my bed until we have all become lucky, and lucky has become normal, and normal has been remembered as the natural way of things.”
Leah: Oh yeah, I remember more now. So, I don’t have blind in my apartment, and because I work primarily for myself, with this one day a week at the gallery, I’m able to wake up when, I move with the seasons really at the moment, so I wake up at the moment at half past four, or something like that, and find myself wanting to go to bed when it gets dark now. And I think I wrote that around that feeling of, that we think of that as really lucky, and on the one hand I see how fortunate I am to be able to behave in that way, and yet at the same time, I wish that wasn’t fortunate. To be forcing ourselves in the middle of winter to get up at 5, 6am, to then commute to these offices or whatever, and then return, and that that’s normal, and that someone in my position is the lucky one. It seems skewed to me. I think that’s where that came from.
Rick: Yeah. What I read into it also was that, the definition of normal in our society is really pretty bleak. It’s really pretty subnormal by comparison with what’s possible. And if everyone were fully blossomed in terms of what we’re potentially able to be, then even some of the more successful people in our world would seem really stunted by comparison. And you’re talking about kind of a higher normality, I think, as being possible, and as eventually, hopefully, becoming the norm in the world. I’ve always thought that way, that it’s like if it’s true that we use only like a small percentage of our full potential, or something like the 5% or whatever, then imagine what the world would be like if everyone were using 75 or 90 or 100. I mean, pretty much everything would be impacted profoundly.
Leah: Right. Yeah. I love what you read into that.
Rick: Yeah, that’s kind of what I read into it.
Leah: It’s nice to hear other people’s reactions to what you write, because I mean, like I said before we started speaking, I think I don’t even remember what I’ve written, really.
Rick: Yeah. But you do write about that kind of thing. Here’s another one, I think it was an essay called, “Who Am I to Do That?” for the brilliant ones flying just below the radar. And you talk about purpose and calling and following your heart and being able to, who was it, Emerson or Thoreau, I think maybe Thoreau said, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” And so, I think they do because everyone has such tremendous potential and for the most part it’s stifled and clamped down by all the crud that we’ve taken on over how many lifetimes, I don’t know, and the society heaps on even more. So naturally we feel frustrated, we’re like a race car stuck in a traffic jam, potentially able to drive so fast and yet it’s sitting there idling most of the time. And so, I think the whole spiritual enterprise is not only a matter of enabling each individual to sort of gain some kind of inner freedom, but it will actually result in the expression of much more potential in the way we interact with the world, much more expressions of greatness. And if you extrapolate from, if you consider many, many individuals undergoing such a transformation, pretty much all the problems that we’re bemoaning in the world today could really dissipate and we could have a society that’s far beyond anything that most people imagine possible.
Leah: Yeah, that word frustration that you said, sensing that you’re a race car but living as, I don’t know, I’m not very good with cars, or whatever, a slow, awful car.
Rick: Well you’ve probably been stuck in a traffic jam, I don’t know if you have those in the UK, but London traffic at rush hour, let’s say.
Leah: London traffic at rush hour, yeah, definitely. I think you’re right. Yeah.
Rick: I wonder if we’ve covered this. I think we kind of have, but maybe it would be worth touching on. You said, discussing life purpose, you said it could be an interesting area to cover. As the question, what am I here for? is one that has plagued you for a good portion of your life and probably plagues a lot of people. How do people know what their life purpose is?
Leah: I’ll start with a bit of background, shall I? I really feel like that question, maybe people, when they come onto a spiritual path, there’s, maybe we all have a different version of the question, maybe that kind of is the driver. And for me, if I had to pick a question, it would be what am I here for? It feels like it’s been the driver behind so much of my seeking, this desperate, like really desperation, and obsession and pain around what am I here to do? Because working in an office in London just felt so painful to me. And then even when I started, working with clients in the different capacity, that question still, it was still there. It still plagued me all of the time, even though I was, I had kind of time freedom and location freedom. And I was able to do many of the things that I thought I was looking for. But that question about what am I here for still plagued me. And it wasn’t until that experience with Liberation Unleashed, and then what happened afterwards, that there was a relaxation around that, because it really felt so clear that primarily my purpose was to have that realization. That was first and foremost. And then after that, like you’ve been talking about, at some point, although there may be kind of periods of not knowing what on earth, and you’ve got no drive or motivation, at some point, there’s more reliant action that starts to come in. And then that’s the expression of that first purpose of realizing the truth of who you are. And then there’s an expression of that, or many expressions of that, however it works for you. And I can’t remember what your original question was.
Rick: I think it was like, what is the meaning and purpose of life, or something like that. I’m just kidding.
Leah: There you go.
Rick: Well, I mean, what comes to mind as you’ve said that is like the Indian idea of dharma, which is sometimes translated as that activity which is most evolutionary for a person to be performing. And it’s thought that different people have different dharmas, and the same person will have different dharmas throughout life. So, you might have a student dharma for a while, and then a householder dharma where you’re raising kids, and you might need to have a regular job doing something to support your family. And there’s nothing wrong with that, even though you’re not like prime minister, or great scientist, or Ludwig van Beethoven or something. You’re just sort of doing something that’s in keeping with your dharma, and later on your dharma may change yet again. So, you know, obviously people want to be doing something gratifying. I mean, we get these robocalls, I don’t know if you have that over there, where the phone rings and it’s some guy trying to sell you life insurance or vacation plan or something. Maybe next time one of them calls I’m going to say, “How do you feel at the end of the day when you go home? Do you feel like that was a day worth living, or could you find something more meaningful to do than hassling people all day long?” So, we want something meaningful in life. We want our life to amount to something. We want to make a contribution, and there are so many different ways in which that can be done. And, I think people just need to, I think the deeper you go in terms of attunement with your true nature, the more that’ll fall into place.
Leah: Yeah, I think so. And I think, my experience is that we are, I know for myself the things that I’m really called to, and I know that writing is one of those, writing is one of those things that when I do it I feel stronger, I feel more energized, everything about it feels right to me. And I think, with exploration or just, knowing yourself that we all have those things in completely different ways. And there was one other thing that came up while you were speaking about life purpose, and you said, maybe you’re not prime minister or whatever, and I wanted to just say as well that one of my experiences through this is that I always had this feeling of needing to become someone and be something and do something important, to be special. I really, that was very strong for me. I need to prove myself, I really need to become someone. And that has been something that’s dropped away, and that was difficult, that was challenging as well, because that had been so strong for me, I have to become somebody, something, and all the effort and pushing behind that. And yet, again, the paradox is that, when that is let go of, you can, you still, you let go of that and you find yourself on Buddha at the gas pump, and, it’s so strange.
Rick: Yeah, in your case, I would recommend waiting until the whole Brexit thing is settled before becoming prime minister, because who would want to deal with that?
Leah: Oh my goodness, let’s not talk about that.
Rick: A few years down the line. A question came in from someone, you could answer this in French, but we’ll have you do it in English. Jean-Francois from Paris asks, “I’ve been going through Kundalini awakening for several years. My spiritual practice has been steady, going through Kriyas, Mudras, vocalizations, etc. But I experience some sort of depression, feeling like I’m not in the right place, the right path, disconnected from the regular mindset or frame of society. I’m lonely, but aspire to be among loving people. I’m not interested in my career, this pertains to stuff we’ve been saying, yet feel I have a deeper purpose. I have no idea what it could be. I want to get out of this stupefaction and act, but I have no direction and the world around me seems to be so robotic, dull, and fairly stupid. Have you experienced your process in the same way and how did you manage to blossom into awakening?” I think Jean-Francois could be a writer, that’s very nicely written.
Leah: Well, I don’t know anything about Kundalini, really, and Kriyas and all of those things. I don’t know is the answer, except it’s going to sound so awful because when someone’s looking for an answer and they’re suffering, but to come back to that piece on trust. And only because looking at my own experience, having been through, what is it, what should I do, depressed, I don’t want to be here, but I don’t know what, and yet somehow life keeps moving.
Rick: Yeah, I could help, I could give a little something here. I’ve gone through Kundalini stuff like that, and I would say that something really good is happening, first of all, and it’s good that you understand it. Don’t fight it or anything, and don’t try to accelerate it, but don’t try to depress it or stop it either. But something good is happening, and I think that as you go along, you’re going to find that the process gets more and more cleared out, and there will be a lot more inner bliss and a lot more awareness, and you’ll tend in the direction of having things go more smoothly for you. It’s a sign of a fairly significant degree of spiritual progress having been made, I think, for one to be consciously going through a Kundalini awakening like that. And sometimes it can be kind of hairy, and difficult and intense, and even scary if you don’t know what’s happening, but you seem to know what’s happening. And so, there’s a lot of bliss deep within us, and if there’s some depression at times, perhaps that’s just something in the heart being cleared out, and in the end, the bliss will be bubbling and life will be quite fulfilling. I can’t promise that, but I think that it’s a fairly safe prediction.
Leah: It was great that you were able to jump in there. I just was going to say that it’s so brilliant that, Jean-Francois, he’s in Paris, and he’s writing in with this experience of awakening. And then, how many hundreds of people in all areas of the world are going through something similar, and it can feel so lonely. And there are many, many, many of us going through similar experiences. And I just had that real feeling just thinking of him, at home at his computer or wherever he is, typing in this thing to BatGap, and here we are. I find that incredible, actually.
Rick: Yeah, it’s nice that we have this technology that allows us to have an extended family of friends all over the world. It’s really sweet. It’s been wonderful for me just getting to know all these beautiful people and establishing friendships I never would have had. So you’re not alone, Jean-Francois.
Rick: It’s like, and as George Harrison said in the title of one of his albums, “This too shall pass.” So, you’re not going to starve to death. You just kind of keep going along, and things will change for the better.
Leah: Yeah, and yet it can be so challenging.
Rick: Yeah, it can be challenging, and sometimes a lot is thrown at us. I was just talking to an old friend yesterday, and she said, “Boy, sometimes I just walk out my door, and it’s like the world just hits me like a ton of bricks.” And she’s someone who’s been meditating for decades, but sometimes, what is that saying? For those to whom much has been given, much will be asked, or something like that. And some people also say, it sounds like a cliché, but some people say, “God doesn’t give us more than we can deal with.” And whatever is being dished out is, as you and I started this whole conversation by saying, is if we really take the big picture view, is very likely in our best interest. And that might seem kind of harsh if you consider things like the Holocaust or something, but there have actually been people who went through that, who wrote a book. I sent Etty Hillesum, I think was the lady’s name, who was in Auschwitz or someplace, and had all this profound celestial experience. And she was seeing all these subtle mechanics of things and cognitions. If we don’t want to say that the universe is meaningless and mechanical and capricious and arbitrary and cruel, if we do want to say that there is some kind of divine orchestration to the whole thing that has a higher purpose in the long run, then we kind of have to come to terms with horrific situations like that and try to put them in some kind of context. And without being too know-it-all-ish about it, it’s good to ponder these ideas. Here’s a question from Dennis Stachura from Mesquite, which is in Nevada.
Leah: I recognize that name too.
Rick: You know that name? You’ve got all your fans on here. He said, “I recently wrote this in my journal. We are so caught up in the temporal that we fail to see the eternal that we are. Do you have any thoughts?”
Leah: Yeah, just that that feels very, very true, that a lot of the time that we’re caught up in the day-to-day personal feelings of what it is to be me and this body and all the things that are happening to us and totally lose sight of the stillness and the stillness and the silence Of what’s beneath everything. And I guess that is suffering, isn’t it? To be caught up in that 100% of the time, nearly all of the time and not have any space where there’s a recognition that there’s something else. So, just that that feels like a very true thing to write.
Rick: Yeah, and I would say do what you can to build up the stillness, to build up the buffer. Spiritual practice, anything that works for you, because you can, it’s like if we think of it as a financial metaphor. Let’s say you have $10 in your bank account, you’re going to be really rocked by any expenditure that you might encounter, but if you have a million in the account, then you can gain and lose fairly significant amounts and it doesn’t make much difference. So, we want to sort of amass that spiritual bank account, and develop an inner strength that enables us to sort of deal with the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.
Leah: Yeah, and spiritual practice is an interesting conversation as well for me personally, because I feel like, I’ve been through many things, including in the early days, transcendental meditation. And I really don’t do very much now, and sometimes I have that feeling of bad spiritual person. But I feel like my practice extends to, I mean, I love being quiet, but I don’t like to call it meditation for some reason. I just like being quiet. I really like the silence. But somehow that’s, even for me, even all of, I feel like all of the practices even were getting in my way. And so even, and I’m willing for that, I mean, it could all completely change again. But at the moment, there isn’t very much.
Rick: Yeah, I would say, I mean, I used to be a TM teacher, as people know, and I have been meditating regularly for over 50 years, and that worked for me, but I would be the last person to say that everyone should do that, or that’s going to work for everybody. If I thought that, probably I wouldn’t be doing this show in which I, introduce people who are all over the map in terms of different advice and whatnot. But, you just find what really works for you.
Rick: And maybe experiment a while until you find that thing. If something doesn’t work, try something else. I mean, you don’t want to be a dilettante, just, they say dig one deep hole rather than 10 small ones if you want to strike water. But nonetheless, maybe you’re digging and you realize there’s not going to be any water here, so you better go and start a new one.
Leah: I love that you said that about the digging one deep hole instead of 10 shallow ones or whatever the wording was, because I recently heard an interview with Mirabai Starr, who I know that you’ve interviewed previously. And it was an interview with her on Sounds True, and she was talking about how that just didn’t feel, that all of the conversations that she’d been around were about, dig this one deep hole and do it properly and, ignore the rest. But that just wasn’t, that wasn’t the way for her. And I loved hearing her say that because, again, it’s like, none of us really know. It’s just, what calls to you, what speaks to you? Trust that.
Rick: She gave a talk at the SAND conference a few years ago that was entitled something like “Butterflies in the Garden” or something where the butterfly flits from flower to flower and derives some benefit from each flower, rather than just staying on one flower the whole time.
Leah: Yeah. I mean, that’s just, it just goes to show, I think, that there are just infinite ways of doing this, seeing this, and that there isn’t a, there isn’t one. Like you say, you wouldn’t be here if you thought there was one right way.
Rick: Yeah. I remember seeing a cartoon once of a Nazi selling ice cream and he was like, “Vanilla only. This is the only flavor.”
Leah: Oh no, that would be terrible for me.
Rick: Dan told me to read this out after the, to note for me after the interview, but I think I’ll share this because it looks sweet. He said, “Thank you for reading out his paradox points.” He said, “I loved Leah’s reaction to some of them. It seemed clear that she had an experience of these and it felt similar to me, especially on the first two. She described exactly as I feel on these.” He said, “I think the existence of paradox on every dimension and aspect of life is the reason that Buddha advocated a middle way. The middle way is the way to handle all the paradoxes in life, even the simple practical ones, but right up to the spiritual ones.”
Leah: Love that. I love Dan.
Rick: Next time we get down to London, you and Dan ought to get together for a tea.
Leah: Yeah! Let’s do that, Dan.
Rick: He’s a great guy. I’ll send you his contact info. Okay, so let’s see. Is there anything else that we haven’t covered that you would like to cover before we wrap it up? I’m looking through my notes here and I think we’ve gotten through most of these things. There’s one here, “Meeting our pain.” I don’t know if … here’s a few little tidbits. “Meeting our pain, awakening and the falling away of all you knew. Feeling good is good, but there’s wisdom in the darkness.” You want to touch on any of those?
Leah: That last one is a fairly recent one. I think that came from … I’ve been listening to a lot of Trevor Hall recently. I don’t know if you know him. He’s a musician.
Rick: Oh, Trevor Hall. No, you mentioned him. I was thinking of Trevor Noah, that guy from South Africa who took over The Daily Show. Anyway, go ahead.
Leah: No, he’s a musician called Trevor Hall and I just absolutely love his music. And that piece that I wrote about, “Feeling good is good, but there’s wisdom in the sadness,” I think sprung from one of his lyrics or something. And yeah, thinking about that now, it’s this … not making it about feeling good all the time. We want to feel good all the time and then dismiss everything else, but there’s something important to be found. Or in any feeling, if we really meet any feeling, then we can discover something true. And if we’re dismissing things and avoiding things, then it’s very difficult to discover what’s really true. And I’ve just found, personally, to sit with emotions that come up a very useful thing to do. And related to things like eating disorders and all the rest of it, because all of that is about running away from all of those things. And there’s intelligence in all of it.
Rick: Yeah, meeting our pain. I mean, in an ordinary sense, pain is a warning signal that we better stop doing something, like hand on the stove. If we didn’t feel pain, we could really seriously injure ourselves, so it helps us. But after we take our hand off the stove, it might still hurt. So, why is that? Because we’ve already taken our hand off the stove. Well, attention is being drawn to an area that needs healing, and so the attention has a healing value. And obviously, we want certain drugs for people in severe pain, but your point is that very often, allowing ourselves to deeply feel something rather than stifling or avoiding it will facilitate true healing of it once and for all.
Leah: That’s my experience.
Rick: I think we touched upon it a little bit in the beginning, but how do you work with people? Let’s say that somebody’s listening to this and they think, “Ah, I’d like to have a chat with Leah and see where it goes.” What would people do? How do they get in touch with you? If they do work with you, what should they expect? Things like that.
Leah: Yeah, we did touch on it a little bit in the beginning, and one of the things I said is that I feel like it’s still… And I said to Irene when we set this interview up that it’s kind of moving a lot at the moment. But so one of the ways I work with people privately is over a three-month period at the moment, doing a session, three sessions a month. And that could be on something like disordered eating or anxiety or depression or more specifically talking about the spiritual path, if that’s what they wanted. In the past, I’ve offered single sessions, which is something I’m considering again. I never know how useful that is or whether it’s what people want, but that’s a possibility as well. And if people want to get in touch with me, then the best thing is just to go to my website. Contact details are on there. They can subscribe from there. They’re very welcome to email me.
Rick: I’ll be linking to that from your page on batgap.com. It’s leahmarjoriecox.com, but I’ll link to it. That’ll be easier than figuring out how to spell all that.
Leah: Thank you.
Rick: Well, it’s been nice talking to you. Any closing thoughts or anything?
Leah: I just, the experience of being here kind of encapsulates the whole thing for me.
Rick: Being where?
Leah: Being here with you.
Rick: Oh, with me. As opposed to just being on the planet.
Leah: As opposed to just being on the planet. Yeah, sorry. That’s well, but being here with you at the moment is… I just have no idea where life is going. And for me to think that I have an idea of what’s best, or… It just seems completely ridiculous to me, because I don’t understand how I’m here talking to you. And so I guess that just makes me think for everybody, just trust life. Just life.
Rick: Yeah. I think that’s particularly important now, because I think that, I’ve said this before, and I don’t mean to sound apocalyptic, but I think things are going to get a little crazy in the world for a while, if they’re not already. And if you don’t have that sort of deeper perspective on things that we’ve been touching upon here, that spirituality helps to culture, then it can be very scary, and one might feel that all hell is breaking loose. But I think if we can sort of anchor ourselves in that deeper value, then we’ll take the changes, the coming changes in stride, and even, flourish amidst potential chaos.
Leah: Yeah, beautiful.
Rick: All right. Well, thanks, Leah.
Leah: Thank you. It’s been so lovely to chat to you. Thanks, Rick.
Rick: Yeah, lovely to chat to you. If I ever go to the UK, I’ll get in touch.
Leah: Please do, yeah. I’ll give you a tour around the Lake District.
Rick: I haven’t been there in ages. I was at Keele University one time many years ago, starting a TM teacher training course for a couple weeks, and then I went down to London for a night or two and then went back to Switzerland, which is where I was at the time. But I like being there. It didn’t rain the whole time I was there.
Leah: That is amazing.
Rick: I know.
Leah: Yeah, the Lake District is a very wet place, but it is so beautiful.
Rick: Yeah. Well, thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching. Sorry, those who are watching live, saw some interruptions, but those will be edited out. And as people, if this is new to you, then this is an ongoing series, and if you’d like to be notified of future ones, subscribe to the YouTube channel and/or subscribe to the little email notification thing that we have on batgap.com, and I’ll send out an email. I do send out an email every time I post a new interview, so you can be notified. And subscribe to the podcast. And if you feel like it, I think Apple’s going to change things around pretty soon. I heard they’re getting rid of iTunes. I’m not sure what’s going to take its place. But it’s helpful for the podcast to actually leave a little review, give it five stars if you feel like it. It somehow boosts the podcast up higher and brings it to the attention of more people. So that’s a way of supporting it if you feel like doing that. So thank you very much, and thanks again, Leah. And we’ll see everybody next time.
Leah: Thanks, Rick.
Rick: You’re welcome.