Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest today is Mary O’Malley. This is an ongoing series of conversations with spiritually awakening people. For more information or to help support our efforts, please visit us at batgap.com. Mary is an author, a counselor, and an awakening mentor who lives in Kirkland, Washington. In the early 1970s, a powerful awakening set Mary on the path to changing her whole relationship with the challenges of her life, freeing herself from a lifelong struggle with darkness. Since that time, Mary has taught extensively throughout the U.S., Canada, and Denmark. She’s an inspirational speaker who leads retreats that transform people’s lives, including week-long retreats in beautiful places like Costa Rica and Hawaii. She also provides individual counseling and offers ongoing groups where people can come together to experience the miracle of awakening. Mary’s new book, which I’ve been reading, is called “What’s in the Way is the Way,” and it’s been endorsed by a number of luminaries: Dr. Christiane Northrup, Jack Kornfield, Neale Donald Walsch, Stephen Levine. And as usual, I’ll be linking to Mary’s website and her books from her page on batgap.com. So, welcome, Mary.
Mary: Oh, so glad to be here, Rick.
Rick: Yeah. So, we can start in any number of places, with your personal story, with your book– but just for kicks, I had the thought to start with a question, you know, the title of your book, “What’s in the Way is the Way,” and the question arose, “The way to what?”
Mary: To openness, to connectedness. Most of us live in a dream. We live in an afterthought about life. I like what Alan Watts, the wonderful Zen philosopher, said, “No matter how many times you say the word ‘water,’ it will never be wet.” And we long for the wetness of life and not even aware that we’re cut off from that.
Rick: And so, the wetness in this metaphor represents?
Mary: The living moment. Being fully here. Open, connected, opening to the great flow of life. So, life flows through you, as you, rather than you actually trying to do life, which is where most people live.
Rick: Yeah. One thing I was thinking about while I was reading your book is that I’d like to talk with you about the fundamental assumptions, the underpinnings of the points you make. So, for instance, one fundamental assumption that you’re alluding to right now is that there’s an inherent fulfillingness to life, if we can be open to it. And another is that– well, we haven’t gotten into this quite as much yet as we will– but that also there’s an intelligence that
Rick: that is kind of permeating everything and orchestrating everything.
Mary: Right, right. And that– hopefully, we’ll be able to explore that more deeply as we go on. But that is– The more that you wake up out of the– what I call the storyteller in this book– which its main game is struggle– It’s a little problem factory. And mostly, its problems are little ones. It doesn’t like how its hair is today or the length of the stoplight. But life can throw us some pretty big challenges. And what we do is we struggle with those challenges, rather than staying open. And the more that you open, the more you see that– you know, at one time you were just one cell that was so tiny you couldn’t even see it with the naked eye. And this cell knew how to divide and develop all of the different systems inside of us– the circulatory system, the nervous system, the reproductive system. And now we are made of 70 trillion cells. When was the last time that you were in charge of your body? The intelligence of life is in charge of life. And that’s what we don’t see when we’re caught in the game of struggle.
Rick: Yeah. It’s interesting to note that most of those cells aren’t human. About 90% of them, or 95% of them, are various kinds of bacteria and things.
Mary: Right. Yeah. In a symbiotic relationship.
Rick: Right, we’d die without them. Well, the reason I think fundamental assumptions are important is that– I don’t know– if you did some kind of statistical sociological survey– but it seems to me that most people in the world just kind of don’t go through their day assuming or appreciating that they are immersed in an ocean of intelligence
Rick: and that there’s some kind of evolutionary impulse trying to guide their destiny, and so on. I mean, most people sort of are kind of locked into the gross material perception of things.
Rick: And maybe they believe there’s a God off someplace, and that they’re going to go to heaven
Rick: or something like that, but it doesn’t really sink into the—
Mary: They don’t connect. Yes, yes. And to me, the word “God” is a verb. You know, it’s not a thing, it’s a verb. This is a living, alive, intelligent, mysterious process. And each one of us have been brought forth out of mystery because life wanted to express itself as us. And it is the suffering that we create for ourselves by thinking that we’re in charge of it, and we’re in control, and we’re always trying to do it good enough or right enough, and then believe that we don’t do it good enough or right enough. I had an image that came the other day: Imagine a snow globe, you know, one of those little globes that you shake it, and there’s little people in there, and the snow falls down. It’s almost as if we’re all caught in a snow globe– a snow globe of the unconscious mind. And the glass of the globe is made out of fear, and it’s glued together with judgment. Well, so much of awakening is discovering how to step out of the snow globe and learn how to observe, to relate to what’s passing through you– thoughts, feelings, sensations– rather than identifying with them. As soon as you identify with them, you’re back in the snow globe again. And what we long for is this spaciousness, this awareness that we really, truly are– that can see what’s happening in the snow globe but not identify with it.
Rick: So babies seem pretty spacious. Some people think babies are enlightened and all.
Mary: oh yeah. No, no, no, no.
Rick: I would dispute that. But they seem pretty spacious. But obviously as we go through the first few years of our life, we get more and more and more kind of locked in and identified and all. And by the time we’re teenagers, we’re usually a total mess. But how would you describe the mechanics of this progressive identification that takes place as we mature–
Mary: Yeah. Yeah.
Rick: which most people never set about reversing.
Mary: Exactly. Exactly.
Rick: So let’s talk about how that identification– And perhaps it has an upside. Perhaps it’s necessary for us to get more and more identified at a certain stage of our growth–
Mary: Yeah. Yeah.
Rick: and then eventually it becomes appropriate to turn it around. So let’s talk about that.
Mary: Yeah. So there’s two pieces of what you’re asking. You know, to me it seems kind of crazy that we come out of mystery and we arrive here and we’re wide open to life. And we have no separate identity. There was a time when there was no thoughts in our head. And slowly and surely we begin to take on, “Oh, I am separate.” “I am a girl.” “I am a boy.” “My name is John” or “My name is Mary.” And slowly and surely we crawl into what I call the storyteller in this book. And then we go to school. And school is a very cruel place. I say that you come across the “red pencil syndrome:” the excellent, good, fair, and poor syndrome. And then all of a sudden now you’ve got to do life and you’ve got to do life right, but you’re not feeling that you’re doing it good enough or right enough. We all carry this spell– that’s a word I use in this new book– this spell of not-enoughness. And so you can see what happens in teenagehood. We all of a sudden are trying to be what we think we should be and we’re looking around and making sure that we’re doing what everybody else is doing. Or if that doesn’t work, we turn into the rebel. And we crawl into this separate self. And we have 65,000 thoughts a day. And 95% of them are repeats from the day before. That’s where most people live. They think that they are their thoughts. And the older you get, the tighter that gets, the more suffering you experience because thought does not create reality. Thought cannot control reality although there’s just enough of an illusion of that that you can stay caught in this world of this separate self. But then, like in my life, you’re really blessed if you’re given something you can’t control. Because that is maybe the first inkling that just maybe, maybe I am more than I thought I am. Maybe, just maybe I am not this struggling self. Now, the other part of your question is, “Oh my God, maybe we’re supposed to do that.” I mean, it seems kind of insane if you really think about it. We arrive out of mystery. We are connected. We’re not consciously aware. But we are at one with everything. And then we take on this separate self? Why is that? And the only way that I can make sense of that is that when you look at the world, you see that it is dualistic in nature. You know, there’s hot, there’s cold. There’s day, there’s night. There’s male, there’s female. There’s winter, there’s summer. And if there was no such thing as night, you wouldn’t recognize day. It is recognized in relationship. So, the only thing that makes sense to me is we are supposed to take on what we’re not, get lost in it, and then something very spectacular is beginning to happen. The people that have come before us are– that have seen through this game of struggle and become the fullness of who they are– were usually people that lived in caves or monasteries. Or they removed themselves from life so they could get quiet enough to really observe this whole stream of thought, this stream of sensations, this stream of feelings that is moving through who we really are. Well, at least in my world, awakening is happening everywhere. I mean, you can see it in the movies. You can see it in television programs. There’s– We are in what I think is an evolutionary shift. And that to me is why there’s so much fear on this planet. ISIS, Ebola, poverty, greed: All this craziness is not here because we’ve done something wrong. In my world, it is the contraction of the old that is calling our attention to it so that– like Ebola– we can begin to get to know fear rather than being lost in it. And more and more people are beginning to wake up out of the dream of this separate, struggling, fear-based, very judgmental self that we thought was who we are.
Rick: Yeah. From my perspective, there’s this global awakening too. I mean, I wouldn’t be doing this show if there weren’t. I wouldn’t be able to do it. I mean, the guys in caves don’t have very good internet connections.
Rick: But there are people who say, as you just said, that, “Whoa, it seems like all this stuff is hitting us now, Ebola and ISIS and all these things.”
Rick: But nearly 100 years ago, there was World War I and then there was a global flu pandemic that killed 25 million people or something.
Mary: Right. Right.
Rick: And then there was the Great Depression and then there was World War II. So there have always been some pretty heavy things happening. Yeah, go ahead.
Mary: But the difference, Rick, is that now we’re connected through the internet. So we can see it more clearly, just like when a great challenge comes in our life, what’s in the way is the way. The challenges in our life are not here because we’ve done something wrong, we are being punished, God fell asleep on the job. The challenges are here in order to help you see this conditioned, separate, struggling conversation in your head. And my very first teacher taught me this: In the seeing is the movement. If you feel that you have to fix this separate self or make it a better self– I mean sometimes that helps make an easier life. But that’s not where true healing is. True healing is discovering how to relate to all the fear, the despair, the loneliness, the shame– all of these energies that contract us and keep us from being open to life.
Rick: And that gets us back to fundamental assumptions. You’re saying that all these things are not capricious or arbitrary or mean-spirited or anything–
Rick: –on the part of some creator. That there’s– I’m putting words in your mouth– but that there’s a kind of a divine benevolent intelligence that actually wants things, wants us to evolve and grow–
Rick: –and become enlightened. And that we do live in, as you were saying, a world of polarities and opposites. So if you’re going to have hot, you have to have cold. And if you’re going to have healthy, you have to have sick. But what you’re saying, if I’m correct, is that the sick phase is not just a counterbalance to the healthy phase. There’s evolutionary potential in it.
Mary: Absolutely. And that’s what we’re beginning to see: that what we learned in this conditioned self was to try to get to what we think would bring us happiness and resist or get away from what we think doesn’t bring us happiness. Now, can you see how unbalanced that is?
Rick: Yeah, you’re leaning over there.
Mary: I know. And what you can’t see on the camera, this hand is really reaching out there and this hand down here is saying, “No, no, no, no, no.” And if you begin to observe the conversation that moves through you all day and how it affects this chronic holding in your body, you will see that is suffering. Right there. That’s suffering.
Rick: Okay, so case in point. So you had shoulder surgery recently and we had to postpone our interview because you were going through a painful recovery. So that was something that might be perceived as being “in the way.” It was in the way of doing the interview and it was probably in the way of you getting a good night’s sleep or being comfortable or anything like that.
Mary: Oh, yes.
Rick: And so in what way was that pain conducive to your growth?
Mary: Well, let me tell you a story about the surgery that will highlight this. So you don’t eat or drink since the night before and I’m supposed to show up at 12:30 and they call and say, “Please show up at 1:30.” And so I show up at 1:30 and they get me undressed and put me in a little room. But nothing’s happening. So finally at 3:30, my mind started getting very upset. In the meantime, I was just spacious and I could watch all the conversations going through me. I could watch the body start to contract in discomfort because I was thirsty and I was hungry, but I didn’t get caught in it. I could see it and it would just pass through. But at 3:30, the mind took over and it started, “Hey, is anybody out there?” And they came back and they said, “Oh, it’ll be a half an hour more.” Well, it was an hour more. And this is great fuel because the unconscious separate self wants everything to be okay. And it sees discomfort as something that takes away okayness. What is really true is that our resistance and wanting to get someplace and get away from something is what covers the natural okayness that is always here no matter what is happening in your life. And I was so spacious when the doctor finally walked in. The first thing she said was, “How are you doing?” And I said, “How are you doing?” Because my heart was wide open because I knew the reason why it was happening was because the surgery before me was a– turned out to be a much more complicated surgery. If I had stayed in that separate self, I would have grumbled. I would have– This is somebody who’s going to be cutting into my body, for heaven’s sakes. And so we just connected because I kept on connecting with discomfort, with holding on, with resistance, and I kept on opening around it. And that’s what I did the whole time. In the recovery, were there times that the contraction took over just like it did at 3:30 for a bit? And I began to move out of the contraction?— But as soon as the nurse left, curiosity kicked in and said, “Okay, who’s here?” “Oh, okay, the one that– I understand. This is very uncomfortable, but this just passing show. We’re creating more suffering by resisting it. Let’s stay open to it.” And it’s so wonderful, Rick, when you know how to recognize the unconscious self, the resistant unconscious self, the grasping unconscious self, and bring it space. That’s what we long for.
Rick: So even in your recovery period over the last couple of weeks, in the midst of the pain that you were experiencing, you were able to pretty much do that?
Mary: Yes, and I’ve done this for years. And I had the wonderful, wonderful, wonderful grace of meeting and hanging out with Stephen Levine for many years, who wrote many books on death and dying, but they really were about being fully alive. And when he would– every year he came to Seattle, I brought all my groups to Seattle. And there would be like 600 of us in this huge room and he would talk for a little bit on Saturday morning, and then he would open it up and say, “Somebody that’s meeting an edge, come to the microphone.” Well, people would come to the microphone, Rick, that were dying, or their loved one just, or their child just died, or they were in chronic, horrible pain. And because he had walked through the dying process with thousands of people, and because he had discovered how to meet his own pain, it was phenomenal to watch these people being met right where they were. And you could just feel the energy opening up. And his definition of healing, I think, is one of the most powerful definitions of healing I’ve ever come across– And maybe this is just one of his definitions, he may have others: Healing is bringing awareness and mercy into that which we have held in judgment and in fear. That’s the game of struggle. And so much of awakening is learning how to slowly and surely open your eyes and actually experience what you’re experiencing without judging it, with great compassion, so even the great discomfort begins to just move through you. And, you know, I still get caught at times. I had a family member that was—that almost died in ICU last March, and sitting in that room for six days, all the states of mind– the fear, the dread, the anxiousness, the judgment. “What did I do wrong?” These states would come, and my job– over and over again, I would watch myself starting to contract into unconsciousness, and then I would get curious. “Healing is bringing awareness and mercy into that which we’ve held in judgment and in fear.” And to be absolutely able to be spacious around fear or spacious around despair, this is one of the core gifts that we can be given by life.
Rick: Several points come to mind as you were speaking. One is, you remember Dale Borglum? You know Dale?
Mary: No, I don’t.
Rick: I interviewed him just three weeks ago. He and Ram Dass and Stephen– was it Stephen Levine, is it? Started the Death and Dying Project in Santa Fe many years ago, and Dale is still doing that also in the Bay Area. But in any case– that’s just a little aside. I was reminded of this analogy that’s used in Indian teachings which has to do with the ability of things to make deep impressions and for those impressions to stick and be tenacious. And the analogy is that if you take a– make a line in stone with some tool, then the line– first of all you can’t make it very deep because stone is hard, but also it stays a long time. And then let’s say you make a line in sand, you can make it deeper and it doesn’t stay so long. And then let’s say you make a line in water, you can make it even deeper more easily, but it stays even less time. And then line in air you can make it–
Mary: Beautiful. Beautiful.
Rick: –any depth and it doesn’t stay. So what the analogy tells us is firstly regarding the tenacity of the impressions that we incur according to the spaciousness of our awareness. But secondly also, it implies that with more spacious awareness, experiences are not going to be–
Rick: –muted, they’re going to be actually more vivid and rich.
Mary: Yes. Yes. But all as an invitation to relate to rather than from them. And I love to say– I talked about this a lot in my book, “The Gift of Our Compulsions,” which its premise is our core compulsion is struggle, and all of the other compulsions are an attempt to numb out from that unease of struggle. And I also talk about it in “What’s in the Way, Is the Way” is what we don’t recognize. And if you look at nature closely, you’ll see it: Everything flows. Water flows, sound flows, air flows, day flows into night, sap flows up the tree and then down the tree. Okay. We are that flow. When we were first born, energy just flowed through us. And then slowly and surely we learn how to contract around this and it’s not, “Oh, it’s not okay to be angry,” or “It’s not okay to be exuberant,” or “I’m a sissy if I cry,” or whatever. And it looks like what we do is bound up bind up feelings. But really what we do is we bind up our energy. And whether you call it fear or loneliness or despair or dread or shame or guilt, really what those are is your bound up joy. And as you learn how to be spacious then– and relate to these bound up places inside of you– they pass through you, just like your hand passing through water.
Rick: There’s a Sanskrit saying that says, “Contact with Brahman is infinite joy,” and Brahman means totality, unboundedness.
Rick: So one thing that I experienced when I began to get more into the groove of flowing rather than controlling, and I think it is that there was this balancing act between a passivity in which I would just sort of go, “Whatever,” you know, just kind of go with the flow– even if maybe the flow wasn’t the best way to go– Between that and controlling. And it was kind of a many year process, and it’s probably still going on, of learning where to find that balance point.
Mary: Right, yeah, because both are necessary. I love to say that the body has bones, and if it didn’t have bones, what would it be like?
Rick: A pile of mush.
Mary: A pile of mush. The body has muscles. What would it be like if it was all muscle? It wouldn’t work. And so we’ve lived so long in the doing place that it takes a while to begin to really connect with what being is all about. We think being is all about sitting down by the side of the road and just letting life happen. I am much more engaged with life now that I am grounded here and that my ground is openness to what life is offering right now. And out of that openness comes doing like writing a book.
Mary: Out of that comes doing but I’m not doing it. Life is doing it. And that when we come to that place, it’s such joy. There is a deep, deep, deep– even to say it’s cellular is not even good enough. There’s a deep trust of life. And I love to say that the ego is all about getting happiness. And that’s okay. And you can grab happiness. You can find a mate that is your dream mate, and then six months later you find they squeeze the toothpaste tube from the middle. But joy is the ability to be with what is. Yeah.
Rick: Hmm. Yeah, that’s good points. For some reason the other day I was thinking of that Bible verse where Christ said something like, “Come to me all those who are heavily laden, burdened or something, and I will give you rest.” And then he said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” And it’s interesting because the word “yoga” relates to– it comes from a word meaning “yoke,” to unite. And then what you were just saying a minute ago that reminded me of a point in the Gita where it says, “Established in being, perform action.”
Mary: Yes, that’s it.
Rick: So it wasn’t like established in being, sit by the side of the road and just vegetate. It was perform action. In fact in that specific instance it was go out and fight a battle. Lord Krishna was saying it to Arjuna.
Rick: So there’s this kind of simultaneous coexistence of complete opposites, but they mesh very nicely, don’t they?
Mary: Yeah. And Stephen talked a lot about soft belly. And I sent these cards out. In fact, if they’re– your viewers are interested, they can email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll send them three beautiful cards. And the first is just a question mark because that’s the first aspect of consciousness, the ability to be curious about what is. The second is a heart. That’s the second aspect of consciousness; the ability to be spacious or meet in our heart what is. Well, the third card is soft belly because we have this– such this amazing biofeedback mechanism inside of us that it is a guarantee that you learned when you were very young to hold your breath. And when you held your breath, you tightened your belly. And we all ran away to this separate self thinking we are it. And as you’re returning, as you’re becoming embodied again, as you are becoming the dance of life rather than doing the dance, the belly can help you immensely because it will tell you long before you get in your head that you’re lost in the unconscious self again. And over and over again to soften your belly– We long for our breath to move down fully. I mean, watch dogs and cats breathe, babies breathe. They all breathe with their whole– well, actually their whole body– but you can see it the most in the trunk. And yet most of us by the time we go to school are holding our breath. So if your listeners are interested, I will have sent to them those three cards. They’re so beautiful. The question mark– Remember Stephen said healing is bringing awareness and mercy. I call it curiosity and compassion. The question mark, the heart, and then the soft belly.
Rick: And my belly is pretty soft, but not in the good sense.
Mary: Yeah, it’s an inner openness to life.
Rick: Yeah. What was the email address again to get those cards?
Mary: Awaken, the word A-W-A-K-E-N @maryomalley.com. M-A-R-Y-O-M-A-L-L-E-Y.com.
Rick: Okay, I imagine you’ll get a bunch of emails.
Mary: I would love to spread– I figure I’m Johnny Appleseed– I would love to spread this. We will not make it as a species if more and more of us don’t come into consciousness.
Rick: Right. Yeah, that’s a whole topic for discussion too is the societal implications of this and the reason for all the serious problems that beset us being rooted in ultimately in consciousness or in a deficiency of consciousness.
Mary: Exactly. Exactly. In a belief in struggle and a belief in fear and a belief in shame. It’s just most people don’t want anybody to know, let alone themselves know, how deeply they have put themselves out of their own heart.
Rick: But you know the word “belief–” I often hear teachers use that word and I also often hear them use the word “willingness” like you just have to be willing to kind of open up and this and that. And in a way it kind of implies that one can just turn on a dime whereas in fact there are layer after layer after layer after layer of conditioning that’s taken decades to accumulate.
Rick: And so you don’t want to give people the impression that they’re kind of lame or something if they can’t just open up and be all breathing from the belly and do all this stuff on the spot. It’s going to be a process.
Mary: It’s a process. Somebody asked Stephen, “How long does this take?” And he said, “It’s the work of a lifetime.” But what I will add to it, Rick, is it’s the only game in town. I mean, when you begin to hear about consciousness or awakening, I mean that is truly a gift from life. And I love metaphors, and so I have one metaphor that comes to mind right now. Everybody lives in the middle of the deep, dark forest in a prison. And this prison has multiplex theaters and car races and wonderful restaurants and all that. And all the way around the perimeter is a fence. It’s not even a very high fence. But on each fence post is a sign that says, “Do not cross this fence or you will die.” That’s the separate self that is terrified of opening to life. Yes, we long to open to life more than you can possibly imagine, but we’re also terrified of it. But the people that listen to you and the people that I work with, they’ve crossed the fence. Maybe not even because they wanted to. They were just compelled. And for a long time, it looks like you’re wandering in the forest. and, but the more you wake up and the more the trees thin and the more you come to this bluff that you can see forever, and you become big enough that you can look back at your journey and you can see every step of the way was absolutely necessary. And that’s why I do retreats and do phone groups and phone counseling and all that, because we need to gather together. We need to– It’s almost like learning a language. Yeah, you can read about– Let’s say you want to learn Spanish. You can read and you can start saying, “Hola, mi amor.” But it isn’t until you start conversing with somebody that it actually begins to integrate inside of you. And so I believe very strongly we need to have interview shows like this, and we need to have retreats like I do or groups, because we need to gather together in these small groups of people that begin to grok the language of consciousness.
Rick: That’s a really– I like the Spanish analogy, because I took Spanish many times when I was in grammar school and high school, and I was always lousy at it. I’d sit in a class, struggle through it, go home and speak English and just forget about it, probably not even do my homework because it wasn’t interesting. And then I’d go back to the class the next day and be looking at the clock, waiting for this to end. So imagine that compared to becoming an exchange student and going to Spain and living with a family in Spain for a year.
Mary: Being immersed.
Rick: Yeah, being immersed. So with this spirituality stuff, I mean, you can stick your toe in, read a book, listen to an Eckhart Tolle tape or something, or you can really make it your primary focus, as much as your life will allow, and you’re going to get very different results.
Mary: Yes, yes. And one of the most powerful things about coming into a group of people that are also exploring consciousness is that you discover we’re all nutty as fruitcakes.
Mary: You begin to discover that all those places you didn’t want anybody else to know that you thought– the jealousy that you feel, the arrogance that you feel, the judgment of other people that you feel, the judgment towards yourself that you feel, the pickiness that you get lost into sometimes, the irritation– You begin to discover that we’re all caught in the same place. It’s so freeing when you begin to see that, because you let go of the war. “Oh, a good person never feels judgment.” Well, pahui, you know, this separate self is glued together with judgment. Awakening isn’t stopping that. Awakening is having enough space around it that you don’t identify with it. In fact, I love to say, “Oh, hi! Oh, you’re here today. Oh, you’re having a bad day?” And you say that to a part of yourself that formerly you didn’t even want yourself to know that was there inside of you because we have it all.
Rick: It’s funny that nutty as fruitcakes thing you said, because I often wonder, have wondered, “Does spirituality make you nutty or does it attract nutty people?” I think maybe a little bit of both.
Mary: A little bit of both, but you know, I like what Jack Kornfield said once, “On the journey of going sane, it looks at times like you’re going insane” because what you’re doing is you’re lifting the veil and the heart is opening.” And I was taught when I was 27 how to be curious, but it didn’t really come on full board until I met Stephen when I was 39, because he taught me how to be curious with great heart. And so as you lift this veil you kind of see, well, there’s a lot of stuff inside there that we could call grody but we see it’s just the unconscious system that all human beings have, and most people are run by it. And you begin to decide, “I don’t want to be run by that anymore.”
Rick: Yeah. So what would you say to someone who said to you, “You know, I just want to live a normal, happy life. I don’t care so much about enlightenment and all that– all that stuff. I just want to sort of be comfortable, not go through all kinds of turmoil and angst and everything that so many spiritual people seem to spend years doing. I just want to be peaceful and simple and ordinary.” Does spirituality have to be a long-drawn-out ordeal of catharsis and change? And– Answer the question. I’m sorry. Go ahead.
Mary: Everybody’s journey is different, and for some it is a very fierce process. it’s a birth– If you’ve ever watched a birth, this is a fierce process. We are being born back into life but just like with birth– What do they do with women? They teach them breathing, and breathing is– I think it’s in all four of my books– the power of breath because it’s so powerful. And I did a class for years at our local hospital on the power of breath. And so if somebody comes to me and says, “You know, I really don’t want to explore at all, but I just want to have an easier life,” I would connect them with their breath. Breath is your best friend as you go through life, and most of us just hold onto it. And so we’re just half alive.
Rick: So would you say that– I don’t know, some people don’t seem to have a choice, like it really kind of grips you by the collar and drags you along, and other people seem to be able to modulate it and ramp it up or amp it down to the extent that they can remain comfortable. I mean, I’ve interviewed people and I have friends who were just minding their own business, and all of a sudden this huge awakening took place, and they– Well Eckhart Tolle is a good example. Obviously he was depressed and he’s happy he had that awakening, but he couldn’t do much more than sit on a park bench for a couple of years afterwards.
Mary: Exactly. Yeah. Yeah. And again, everybody’s journey is different and it’s just the storyteller, this unconscious self, that relates to this birthing process as, “Something is painful.” My first child– Both of my children I had completely natural childbirth. And the first child– 18 hours. Probably for the last three or four I resisted every single contraction. I had no good coach there. I was living out in the woods, and we came into a Nature Pass office– It was just very painful. Three years later, I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown a lot– My son came in five hours, and this– the room was filled with light. And it was only one contraction I wasn’t open to. There was only one contraction that I started to contract around. So my life is a good example. I was one of those people that was just crushed by life. I mean, I tried to–
Rick: Yeah, tell us your story, you have quite a story. And sometimes I start with that but let’s go into it now.
Mary: Well, and I will say this, Rick, I was gifted with great darkness. And I am not being facetious. I am not being Pollyannish. I was gifted with great darkness. I had the kind of childhood you wouldn’t wish on anybody. And I discovered the joy of numbing through food when I was about 10. And then I discovered alcohol when I went away to college. And then I discovered street drugs. And when I was 23, I gained 97 pounds in a year while I was washing a lot of it down with alcohol. And getting every single drug– both prescription and non-prescription– I could. Because I didn’t know how to be with what I was experiencing. And they started me on psychiatrists when I was 10. And so everybody tried to fix me. Psychiatrists, psychologists, group therapy, hypnotherapy, hospitals, all of this– There was something wrong with Mary and she needed to be fixed. All I heard was, “There’s something wrong with me.” So when I was 24, I tried to kill myself three times. And the last time was–
Rick: With pills?
Mary: –slitting my wrist.
Rick: Oh, the wrist. Okay.
Mary: Well, I did pills. I did– which it’s hard for me to say this– but I was unconscious enough that I got really drunk, got in my car, and made a decision of which overpass I was going to drive into. Didn’t even think about the other people that I could have hurt. But that was the level of contraction that I was living in. And something– I headed toward it and something pulled the wheel right at the last minute. And I wasn’t relieved. I was angry, you know. And then when I slit my wrist, thank God I didn’t know that you slit up. But I just kept on doing the razor blade over and over again. And I can remember exactly where I was. I was sitting on the floor, and I was sobbing, and I was filled with so much self-hate, because I was even a failure at suicide. Then, when I was 27, my mother — I had moved back from Europe, and I was living in this basement apartment with my mother upstairs. And she was going to go to a yoga weekend and couldn’t go and said, “Do you want to go?” And it was kind of like, “Oh, well, okay,” you know. And so I went, and this man was one of the first people that really brought yoga to the United States, Joel Kramer. And what he really taught was jnana yoga. And it was like I stepped out of a B-grade black-and-white horror movie and into a Dolby surround sound, Technicolor, Panavision movie. And I couldn’t tell you what he said. I couldn’t tell you. All I — I at least recognized that there was something here that was true and real. And so the third time he came up from California, I drug in a reel-to-reel tape deck that dates me a bit– recorded the whole thing, transcribed the whole thing. And when my house and store burned to the ground, I lost everything. But it’s that notebook I grieved because I could go back into that notebook– I was still caught a lot in this struggling self– But I could go back to that notebook, and it was like a beacon of light. And so the last time he came, I went to him and said, “I want to tell you what I am– what I am getting from these times I’ve spent with you.” And he said, “Okay.” And I said, “There’s two parts to the sentence. The first is, ‘In the seeing is the movement.'” And he said, “Yes.” And what he’s basically saying is that we feel so strongly that all of this darkness that we’ve taken on we have to fix, change, rearrange, it’s bad and wrong, and it’s an endless game of struggle. It’s when you can bring your attention fully to what you are experiencing right now that literally that’s where alchemy happens. Literally the power of your own attention to be fully with whatever is there, it opens it up and it passes through. But as I said earlier, he didn’t teach it with the heart. And the heart, as far as I’m concerned, is our main brain. And the heart is where all lasting healing happens. And when I started hanging out with Stephen when I was 39, that was when I began to be able to truly have space around all of this darkness that I took on, that I almost died of.
Rick: That’s interesting what you just said about the heart. I was reading something the other day– mmm,looks like I don’t have it on my computer handy– but it was this whole intelligent discussion about the chakras. And the main point of it was that the heart chakra is really the master chakra.
Rick: Yeah. Can’t do justice to it off the cuff, but that’s basically what you’re saying here.
Mary: That’s it. And let me tell a quick story. You know, that I was interviewed for a book called “M-Braining,” “Multiple Braining,” a number of years ago. And they took 600 of the leading-edge research papers on the fact that we have three brains. Of course, we have many other brains, sometimes we call them chakras or whatever. But there’s three core centers of intelligence, the head, the heart, and the abdominal brain.
Mary: And the abdominal brain is the only place in the body that has the same kind of cells as are up in our brain. And this is that knowing– that gut knowing– that the abdominal brain is connected to the wisdom at the heart of life.
Mary: The heart brain is the main brain. And at the HeartMath Institute, they did these amazing studies. And one was that they hooked people up to body sensors, heart sensors, and brain sensors in front of a computer. And the computer randomly chose either horrific, neutral, or beautiful pictures. And for every single person, the heart always responded first. But for many of them, the heart responded six to eight seconds before the computer even chose the picture. Why? Because this brain [points to head] is a tool for maneuvering through reality, but it is not connected. This [points to heart]is connected to everything. And this is our home. And this is what we long for so deeply– is to come home to the wisdom of our heart.
Rick: Nice. Very well put. You’re eloquent, I’ll say that.
Mary: Thank you.
Rick: You know Adyashanti, the spiritual teacher?
Mary: Oh, yes.
Rick: He always talks about head awakening, heart awakening, gut awakening. They’re actually distinct degrees of awakening–
Mary: It’s different.
Rick: –that people undergo. Interesting. You know, one thing that’s kicking around in my mind as you’ve been speaking is the issue of capacity or ability to do what you’re saying. And I’ll elaborate just a little bit. Like 20 minutes ago when we were talking about experiencing a lot of pain and being able to be open in the midst of that pain, I was thinking of– I think it was St. Therese of Lisieux who died of tuberculosis of the bone, which is supposed to be excruciatingly painful. But she didn’t even let on. The people, the nuns in the monastery didn’t even realize she was going through it, and she was doing her tasks and all, and finally they noticed her limping. And, but she had this sort of radiant, beatific, spiritual vibe about her. So there’s an example of someone with immense capacity, oceanic openness, who could sort of dissolve or sustain that degree of pain within that oceanic openness. Now, most of us don’t have that capacity, and some people it’s not even a drop, barely.
Mary: Right, most people.
Rick: The awareness is so constricted, so tight. And so when you ask them to do these things, it’s like they don’t necessarily have the capacity to do them to the extent that others are going to. So I think a key question is how to become more oceanic. How to– Like– Simple analogy, and then I’ll flip it back to you. If you take a glass of water and throw a bunch of mud in, it doesn’t dissolve very well. It’s only a glass. But if you could throw the same amount of mud in a swimming pool or in an ocean, boom, it’s gone. So how do you become more oceanic?
Mary: Yeah, which is awakening.
Mary: And I think that it’s good to go back to the child. If the child thought it had to figure out how to walk, and then it had this adult brain that every time it fell down, it said, “Oh my God, look at it. I’m not doing this good enough or right enough.” But what the child does is it stands up and then it falls down. And then it stands up and then it falls down. And it stands up and takes a couple of steps and falls down. And so awakening is a little bit like that. We need to understand– I do this finger thing oftentimes. I say, “Okay, take your finger and follow it with every your whole body.” That’s the 65,000 thoughts a day. Awareness– who we really are– is attached to the stories in our head. But if you begin to choose a focus and pull yourself out of the stories, then every time you do, you actually strengthen the muscle of your attention. And so here you are, and you’re wandering, you’re wandering, you’re wandering, and then all of a sudden you come back to the breath, you come back to the sounds. And Stephen said once, “If you sit for an hour and bring your attention back to your focus one time in that hour, it is time well spent.” People need to hear that, because they sit down and they want to meditate and their mind wanders the whole time, and they do it for three days and they think, “Phewy! I can’t do this.” But if they really understand that one moment– I call it “drops of water in the bucket.” And after a year the bucket is hardly even– water is hardly even covering the bottom of the bucket, but those moments count. And then one day, without even noticing it, the bucket overflows with water. So, what I did in “What’s in the Way Is the Way” that at the end of each chapter is called the “Remembering Section,” and it’s a 10-week process. You can read the book and not do the process. But we start very small. We start with five minutes a day. And people are opened up to this in the way that this isn’t about trying to get anything to happen. This isn’t about trying to “Stay on the breath” or “That’s not a good meditation.” You know, there’s no such thing as a good or bad meditation. And I say, “If five minutes is too much, you start with two minutes,” because that consistency which strengthens the muscle of your attention so that you can come to the place where that woman is so spacious that excruciating pain can move through her and it’s like a handful of mud in the ocean. How do you get there? By strengthening the muscle of your attention. And so, in a way, we could say it’s a really good thing that you wander off in meditation because every time you do then you will come back.
Rick: Yeah, maybe that’s what Christ meant when he said, “Even if you have faith as much as a grain mustard seed–” you know? It’s like, even if you don’t have very much to start with, it will grow if you persist and do something.
Mary: Yeah. Yeah. And that’s why we need to gather together because we need to hear there really is truly another way to live. You know, I give a metaphor sometimes of this most gorgeous house with soaring windows and wonderful gardens, and we live in a windowless basement bedroom with a big screen TV, and we watch our thoughts all day long. We think we are our thoughts. Well, then life brings a sledgehammer. It brings something you can’t control. That’s a very great gift– like losing a mate or financial distress or a difficult health diagnoses or something like that. And so life is taking a sledgehammer to the outer walls of the windowless bedroom and we get our spackle and we just spackle it up as fast as we can. But then one day the sledgehammer creates an opening and you look through the opening and you begin to see there’s a whole nother world happening here– other than this very separate, controlling, conditioned mind. And in that time, Rick, a team of wild horses are not going to be able to keep you away from giving yourself the gift of presence throughout the day.
Rick: This whole issue of control is interesting, and it might be worth coming back to a little bit. I once heard humility defined as the quality of not insisting that things happen any particular way. m: Yeah. And it seems like there’s this sort of individual in the driver’s seat that’s actually controlling things, but as you’ve said, and as many have said, that’s–
Mary: Not true.
Rick: –kind of not the reality of the situation.
Mary: Not at all.
Rick: Yet we do have that perception. People say, “Well, hey, I can either raise my arm or not raise my arm. I have a choice. I seem to have free will.” And so maybe it comes back again to finding the balance point between exercising what appears to be your volition–
Mary: Yeah, appears to be.
Rick: Yeah, your volition, and you exercise it to whatever extent you can, based upon what how you perceive it. And then, and then there’s this funny Geico commercial these days where they say, “Did you know that 15 minutes can save you 15% or more on car insurance?” And then the other guy says, “Duh.” He says, “Did you know that playing cards with Kenny Rogers gets old really fast?” And then you see Kenny Rogers sitting there playing cards with these guys and he says, “You gotta know when to hold ’em and know when to fold ’em.” And he keeps saying that over and over and over again. So it’s like there’s this balance point– is the point I’m getting to– between actually applying some sort of individual will or volition and then just surrendering to the larger cosmic intelligence.
Mary: Very much so. And at the end of the book, Michael Beckwith– he has these four stages of consciousness. And I added two in the middle, but we probably don’t have time to go into those–
Rick: We have time.
Mary: –so I’m just going to give his four. And it’s so very interesting to see this in relationship to what we’ve been talking about. So for most people, they believe life is happening to them. And they’ve got to fight with it. It’s very much of the victim mode. And there’s no judgment. I mean, sometimes I go into that state for a short period of time, but the contraction always wakes me up. And so that’s where most people live. Then, what has been happening for the last hundred years, and especially when “The Secret” came out in the last ten years or so, now life happens by me. I like what Stephen says, “This is a half-truth swallowed whole,” and now you can create your reality. And it’s a very important phase because it gives you a sense of power when you’ve been living in a power of helplessness in the phase of life is happening to me. And so it’s a really aphrodisiac. But if you live it very long, you’ll see two things. Number one, it causes you to be afraid of your thoughts. And number two, it causes you to feel ashamed because, of course, “Everybody else can create their reality, but I can’t.” Carolyn Myss in the ’90s was in Seattle. I wasn’t– I didn’t go see her, but a friend of mine did. And she was shifting from this “you create your reality” to “show up for reality.” And she asked 600 people, “Who has been able to create their reality that they want?” Not one person opened– lifted their hand. So then you begin to move into “life is happening through me,” and then eventually “as me,” and I think most people really won’t know that until they leave their bodies. But it is a– I think it’s more of a– Just like the sun, the light comes gradually in the morning. It is this gradual– here’s the dirty word to the ego– “surrender.” I like the word “openness.” There is– yes, when you’re in the “to me,” “my God, I’ve got free will and I’m in charge,” and “by me,” yes– But then you begin to see that that never brings you the real deep healing you long for, and you begin to relax, and you begin to see– be life. And you become less and less interested in free will and more and more interested in grounding right here. And Father Thomas Keating has a quote I have on my bathroom that I absolutely love, and I won’t be able to say all of it. But he said, “The chief act of will is not effort. It’s consent.” And as you move up the interior ladder of freedom you become less and less interested in trying to control it and more and more interested in trying to stay open to it. He used different words than that, but that’s the gist of the quote. So, yeah, it’s a slow, gradual that you see that life lifts your hand. Thought may think it lifts your hand but where does thought come from? You know, life lifts your hand and then you become the dance. And that’s what we long for.
Rick: Wow, that was very beautiful, I loved all that. The whole thing about we each create our own reality, obviously if we took that to its logical conclusion, the world would be complete chaos because we’d all be creating different realities. You know, it would be like–
Mary: Oh, that’s a good one.
Rick: Yeah, I mean, how would we agree on whether there’s a stoplight or whether it’s red or green? I’m seeing a turtle. Are you seeing a stoplight? So obviously there’s a larger reality that’s independent of what we individually create. The thing about the Secret I think was brilliant too– because I mean, that whole thing, I didn’t like it very much– but the whole emphasis seemed to be, “Oh, look at this beautiful diamond necklace in the window, and look at this beautiful sports car, and I can have these things.” Well, who’s to say you should have those things? I mean, is that really in the larger interest of the evolution of consciousness, both your own and on the planet? So it’s– I’m just reiterating what you said, because you said it very beautifully, but what it really comes down to ultimately is, “How can I be of service? How can I be an instrument of the divine, a sense organ of the infinite, and how can I fulfill its prerogatives rather than some much more narrower ones that I think are good but may not be?”
Mary: Yeah, beautiful. You know, we’ve all been brainwashed into, “If we just get the diamond necklace or the Maserati or whatever, then we’ll be happy.” And for a moment you may be happy, but then somebody bangs their door into the side of your Maserati or somebody steals the necklace or something like that. That what we long for is the joy that comes from the ability to be with what is. And the such important point that you made that the ego is all about getting. Who we are is all about giving in the extent of allowing life to dance us and, to me, there’s no greater joy. No greater joy.
Rick: It’s– Let’s just for kicks, let’s take a couple of concrete examples that people run into in everyday life. So let’s say, for instance– I don’t know– your boyfriend breaks up with you or something and you’re really heartbroken and you feel like this is a terrible thing that has happened. So how would you speak to such a person in terms of how this traumatic event could actually be in their best interest in the bigger picture?
Mary: Right. When I was writing “What’s in the Way,” this came all in one fell swoop: Life is set up to bring up what has been bound up so we can open up to be freed up so you can show up for life.
Rick: Might as well say that again. Or you could even say it again and then elaborate on each little piece of it if you wanted to.
Mary: “Life is set up–” Life is an intelligent process. Life is for life. And to me it brought forth human beings. I mean, why is a human being even here? My goodness, bees are more important to the function of it than it looks like with human beings. But when I get very quiet it really seems to me that life has brought itself together into this frontal lobe so it can celebrate itself. So it can be here. So it can write poetry. So it can look at others through the eyes of the heart. And when you begin to understand that we all have to take on what we’re not, then there comes a time in your life– hopefully younger and younger people will get this– that you begin to realize that you put on a fractured pair of glasses when you were young. And you’re looking at life through this fractured pair of glasses. You’re actually experiencing them so– experiencing life through the fractured pair of glasses. So, if you had a alcoholic and abusing father, you may marry somebody that doesn’t even look remotely like it but eventually ends up being really very cruel. So, we live these spells. And I love the word “spells” because it’s something that’s laid over the top of you. It’s not true and it can be lifted. So, we just absorbed the spells that our parents absorbed. And life wants us to digest this– to see it and to see through it– so we can come back to life. So, “Life is set up to bring up what has been bound up.” So, I want to tell a story. And this is by somebody that– I have a few people that I work with that give me permission to share their stories. And this happened a long time ago. Well, four years ago. And so, it’s a young couple, had a young child and were in a city visiting. And so, they split up one night because the wife had someplace to go and the husband had someplace to go. And they were going to meet at this place where they were going to stay the night and they were going to meet at the baby’s bedtime, like 8 o’clock. And so, as the wife was leaving the place that she was and called the husband to let him know that she was coming, her SIM card broke.
Rick: SIM card? What’s a SIM card?
Mary: In the phone.
Rick: Oh. Okay.
Mary: So, her cell phone didn’t work. And of course, there are no pay phones around anymore. So she gets to the house where the husband is supposed to be and it’s locked and nobody is there. And she has a crying baby. And finally, after 45 minutes, she thinks, “Well, maybe I can find a window that is unlocked.” And she finds a door and she goes in and she puts the baby to bed. You know, it’s about 8:30 now, okay? And then, he doesn’t show up until 11:45. When he walks into the bedroom, she is all nails and teeth and spitting fire and so on and so forth. And he is all defending– This is what we do in a relationship. We attack and we defend and we try to justify. And they came to me because they were ready to get divorced because she just did not understand how he could possibly do something like that. Because he said he was going to be back at 8:30 and he had his reasons, or 8 o’clock, and he had his reasons and all of that. So they came to talk with me and I said, “Well tell me about what your experience was.” And I asked the woman first. And as she started sharing it, she started crying and she said, “I felt so alone. I felt so abandonment abandoned,” which is one of the core spells that we all experience. And she got hurt. She got really hurt and you could see that nobody had listened to that. The husband hadn’t listened to it because he was trying to defend his actions. And he was trying to defend against her attack. So, then I turned to the husband and he started defending. And then I said, “But what are you really feeling right now?” And it went into this agony of, “I’m bad and I’m wrong and I did it bad and wrong.” Both of them in that situation were finally able to hear the other person. And it cleared out this contraction that had come between them. How we learn how to do that– Because the woman said, “But, you know, when he does something like that, I just– I can’t stop myself. I just erupt.” And I said, “Of course you do. But you can learn after the fact to begin to be curious about, ‘What did this situation bring up inside of me?'” And I call it in the book, “The You Turn.” Where you actually stop talking about whatever brought this up inside of you and you begin to take responsibility for what you’re experiencing. Which– Don’t hear the word “responsibility” from the ego’s, “I’ve got to take responsibility.” It’s the ability to respond. And as we learn how to do that, we begin to understand, “Life is set up to bring up what has been bound up so it can open up.” For the first time, this couple really understood that one of the core heartaches that she has experienced her whole life is the experience of being abandoned. And we freed it up in that moment. So they– And they looked at one another at the end of this conversation– There was just such love in their eyes. And once you begin to see the magic of this You Turn, of turning towards, of really being curious about when you are contracted– I call it becoming a “tightness detective–” then you begin to understand that the challenges of your life are not there because, as we said earlier, you did something wrong, or they did something wrong, or my parents did something wrong, or God fell asleep on the job or whatever. Or I’m being punished. They are actually there to bring up inside of you what has been bound up so you, with consciousness– which is the ability to be curious and spacious– and that’s why we do the 10-week process in the book– You can learn how to be curious and spacious– so in the future, when this deep abandonment comes– when the husband promises that he will repair the roof or something like that and he doesn’t, he doesn’t, and they get into a horrible argument– the chances are far greater that after the fact, one or the other of them is going to start to get curious now. And then they come in and they say, “Wow, never guess what was brought up inside of me. This is what I’m seeing. This is what I’m doing with it.” So that is really the journey of digesting unconsciousness with consciousness, and you learn it by doing it inside of you.
Rick: Interesting. There’s kind of an interesting context for everything we’re talking about right now, which is that there are some spiritual teachers, some of whom I’ve interviewed, who really emphasize on the absolute view. And they emphasize that there really ultimately is no person, no individual, and that all this kind of stuff that you and I are talking about is sort of like dressing up a dream character and fussing over a dream character, whereas what you really should be doing is just waking up from the dream and not worrying about the dream character.
Mary: Yeah. I know. And I just came across a quote from Adyashanti in which he said, “It can be very difficult for any spiritual teacher to get through to students who are fixating on the absolute view as an unconscious way of avoiding their humanness–”
Rick: “–to get them to stop holding on to their absolute view. This is one of the dangers of awakening, the tendency to grasp at a lopsided view. We grasp at the absolute view of awakening and we deny anything else. It is actually the ego that fixates on the absolute view in this way, using it as an excuse for dismissing unenlightened behavior, thought patterns, and divided emotional states. As soon as we have grasped onto any one view of things, we have gone blind to everything else.”
Mary: Exactly. And we’ve gone blind to what life is in this moment. Life is an intelligent process. But to see how strong that urge to deny is– Just think, for the past couple of thousand years, I would say 95% of the gurus or meditation teachers were all about going to enlightenment. And this is how I woke up in the early 60s, you know, “My God, we’re going to kill thought!” And I used to feel such a failure at it. I would be in a meditation retreat and I would open my eyes and I knew everybody else was in nirvana. I was there struggling with the cesspool, so to speak. But then I began to realize what a gift I was given because I couldn’t do the spiritual bypass. Life said, “Show up for what I am offering you,” and you begin to trust it, Rick. You– even the deepest and darkest and most uncomfortable places– you know that that’s where the doorway is.
Rick: Yeah, and I suspect that all those people whom you thought were in nirvana probably weren’t anyway, but if they were, it would be interesting to know where they are today.
Rick: Because at some point they would have had to work through this kind of stuff.
Mary: Yeah, and you can have many wonderful spiritual experiences without really awakening.
Rick: Yeah. Yeah, that’s a whole interesting point too. I don’t know, we probably won’t go into that right now.
Mary: Maybe we should talk for a couple more hours, right?
Rick: Yeah, sure. We’d have to take a bathroom break, and I know you have to go in about 10 minutes. But a– And incidentally, next week I’m going to be talking to a fellow named Craig Holliday, who has written a book called “Fully Human, Fully Divine,” which kind of touches on this same theme. So, it would be a nice one-two punch in terms of the compatibility and in fact the necessary symbiosis between humanity and divinity, how the two are mutually enriching and complementary, not exclusive in any way.
Mary: Yin and yang symbol.
Rick: Yeah, yeah, exactly.
Mary: Right there, right there. And we think the yin and yang symbol is light is on one side of a line and dark is on the other side of the line and it’s not. They are nestled together, and in the light is a point of dark, and in the dark is a point of light. I think that to me, that is the richest symbol I’ve ever come across.
Rick: Yeah, it’s cool.
Mary: In life.
Rick: So, in our remaining time, what haven’t we covered that you’d like to cover? What are some highlights of your book? What are some highlights of your other books? What are some activities that you do that you’d like people to be aware of? What would you like to leave people with?
Mary: One of my favorite chapters in the book is chapter 11–
Rick: Bankruptcy, isn’t it?
Mary: Right. No this is different– and it’s called “The Song of the Heart,” and it’s the shortest chapter in the book. And I think the best way to get to the essence of that is just imagine you’re sitting on the moon. I have a couple of Lazy Boy recliners up on the moon. I love to hang out on the moon because it gives me a broader perspective. And you look across at this blue-green-white jewel of our planet, and you are just stunned with the creativity of it. And if you doubt that, look over at Mars. You know, beautiful in its own right, but basically red and rock. Look at the moon, and it’s brown and dust, you know. But here– jaguars, aardvarks, orchids draping off of trees, baby porpoises, little sea anemones, icebergs– I mean, it’s endless. Brian Swimme, the mathematician that I spent a lot of time with, said that life was able to slip between that crack right between the opposites, and it celebrates itself in all of this beauty. And we’re asleep. So if you’re on the planet ah– on moon and you look back and you’ll see that there’s these two-legged creatures all over the planet, and they all have clouds around their head. And because they have clouds around their head– That cloud bank is made out of fear and it’s glued together with judgment, and it causes so much heartache, not only for the person that is lost in the cloud bank of struggle, but also how they act in the world. They can’t see the sacredness of life. And to me, one of the greatest gifts we can be given by life is the process of awakening but also one of the greatest gifts we can give life is the process of awakening because you enter the dance differently. You live from the aware heart. You see the sacredness of everything. And in my world there’s a lot of cloud banks that are being cleared, and they come and they go, but more and more they’re being cleared. And again– just like we talked about the drops of water in the bucket, a person here, a person there– it’s the 100th Monkey Principle. It doesn’t take everybody to wake up. We are in an evolutionary shift, and everybody that is listening to this is a part of that awakening. If you really want to make a difference inside of yourself– in your family, with your neighbors, with your community, with the world– heal the war inside of you. And so I feel a very deep passion about that, and that’s why I also do retreats. I lead– I invite people to lift themselves up out of their everyday world and come to really beautiful places. I’ll be in Costa Rica in February and I’ll be in Hawaii the next February 2016. And when you come into a very connected, heartfelt, quiet flow of life that is– that there is beauty everywhere– it becomes so much easier to do what I call “look to unhook.” Look: Be curious about what the storyteller is doing. Be curious. Relate to it rather than from it so that you can become a part of the healing of our planet. And if running away doesn’t work for you– or running towards, I would say that’s running towards– I do phone groups, I do phone counseling, all of that.
Rick: That’s beautiful. I’m glad you brought in that theme. I’m trying to set up an interview with Vandana Shiva, you know, the Indian environmentalist. And I feel it would be relevant to this show because as I was saying in the early part of the interview, I feel like there’s a direct connection, an important connection, between the awakening spirituality in the world and the environmental and other problems that beset us–
Mary: Very direct.
Rick: –that are critical. And somebody was telling me the other night that if you took all the water in all the world’s oceans and formed it into a ball, it would just be a ball sitting on the– pretty much would sit on France and cover up that much of the world, but otherwise the world would be without water. So that we don’t have like an infinite ocean in which to dump everything. And similarly, I mean, the air is really this very thin, diaphanous layer. If you went straight up the same distance as it might take you to go to the corner store, you’d be dead in just a few miles. And so this– And yet we dump tons and tons and tons and tons of carbon dioxide and all kinds of other crap into it all the time. So it would seem to me that– I think that spiritual awakening is going to sensitize people to–
Rick: –to the sort of the preciousness, like you were saying–
Rick: –with the blue lawn chair on the moon– Yeah, the sacredness, the preciousness– And that will really sort of enable us to bring about the kinds of changes that will be needed to–
Rick: –circumvent the kind of destruction that we’re headed toward.
Mary: And without judgment. We took on this world of unconsciousness that seems to be a part of the dance, and now more and more of us are digesting it. What we’ve done environmentally before oftentimes is we go against something. Now we’re learning how to go for something and not judge all of the so-called unskillful actions. The unskillful actions are a part of life and they’ve brought us here to this moment. All my unskillful actions brought me to a place that I was so lost, life said, “Now get curious.” So it’s a much different way to enter this healing that is happening on our planet. And it happens one person at a time. And if people are really interested they can also email me and I will be glad to send them the foreword and the introduction– Neale Donald Walsch wrote the foreword, beautiful foreword to the book– and the introduction to the book, so they can get a sense of what it’s about if they want to know.
Rick: And again that’s email@example.com.
Rick: Great. All right. Well I know you have to go, so let me make some wrap-up points and then we’ll conclude. I’ve been speaking with Mary O’Malley and she’ll have her own page on batgap.com where I’ll be linking to her website and her books and have a bio of her and all that. So you can check her out and bounce from there to her website and explore all kinds of things that are there. This interview is part of an ongoing series. There are over 260 of them now. And so at batgap.com you will see menus where you can find all the interviews categorized in various ways, alphabetical, topically, and so on. Check that out. You can subscribe to an audio podcast so that you can listen to this as you commute or something. You’ll see a link for that. There’s a “donate” button, which I appreciate people clicking and rely on people clicking in order to be able to do this as much as I do it. There’s a place to sign up to be notified each time a new interview is posted, which means you’ll get an email about once a week. And a few other things. Poke around the menus, you’ll see it all. So that’s at b-a-t-g-a-p.com. So thanks a lot for listening or watching. We’ll see you next week with Craig Holiday, and thank you again, Mary. It’s been really a pleasure to talk to you.
Mary: Such a joy Rick. Such a joy.
Rick: All right. Have a good day and maybe we’ll meet in person one of these days.
Mary: Oh,that would be wonderful.
Rick: Yeah. Okay, thanks.