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Rick Archer: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer, Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually Awakening people, there have been over 365 of them now. And if this is new to you go to batgap.com Bat gap. And check out the past interviews menu where you’ll see them organized in various ways. Also, this whole production is made possible by the support of appreciative viewers and listeners. And so if you appreciate it, and if you feel like supporting it in any amount, there’s a PayPal button, every page of baquette gab.com. And we appreciate those who have been supporting it. And part of their support has gotten me out to California for the science and non duality Conference, which starts tonight. But first, today, I’m going to interview my good friend, Michael Rodrigues. I say good friend, even though we just met in person last night, because for quite a few months, we’ve been corresponding by email, and including a couple of friends in the correspondence such as David Buckland and Susanne Marie. And we really felt an affinity from the start and had very lively conversations, which, in preparation for this interview, Michael had the kindness to consolidate into a series of notes and a little bit later in the conversation, and we’ll go through those notes and make sure we’ve covered them all, because there’s really some juicy stuff in there. And I think you’re gonna find this a very interesting conversation. Michael is a very bright guy with a very dedicated background, both to his traditional education and to his spiritual education. So that’s what we’re gonna start talking about, first of all, is your background. How you ended up where you are today.
Michael Rodriguez: First of all, thank you for having me on the show.
Rick Archer: You welcome,
Michael Rodriguez: I’m really honored.
Rick Archer: It’s a pleasure.
Michael Rodriguez: Thank you. Well, if we were talking about the story of Michael, I would say that that begins, really when I was a kid, around six or seven years old, when I had a spontaneous question arise, which was when you get to the edge of the universe, what is on the other side? And somehow that made an indelible impression on the psyche, and really initiated a lifelong quest to discover what’s true. Somehow, that was endemic to the way my mind works, that sort of questioning. And it led me eventually, onto a conscious spiritual quest. The next big moment I would say, is when I had an high school teacher, as a senior in my English class,
Rick Archer: So wait a minute, six or seven, you had a conscious spiritual quest?
Michael Rodriguez: six or seven, I’d say that was the first glimmer of the conscious spiritual quest. Prior to that there was no wonderings, reflecting, there was no sense of being on a path.
Rick Archer: Yeah,
Michael Rodriguez: but somehow that
Rick Archer: So once you had that little glimmer, he just couldn’t forget it. There was
Michael Rodriguez: I couldn’t forget it, it somehow was a necessary precursor to getting the ball rolling. And ironically, the work or perhaps thought, ironically, it’s quite fitting that the work I do now really directly addresses that question, but not from a traditional materialist standpoint. But
Rick Archer: What question does it address?
Michael Rodriguez: The question of what is real? What is the reality of the universe? Is there something that’s quote unquote, on the other side, so the way that I work now is to start from the experiential realization of boundless awareness or consciousness itself, I use those two words synonymously, although sometimes I make a distinction between them for pedagogical purposes, which we can talk about too. But essentially, the realization ultimately, was that there is no boundedness to whatever this is. And so somehow, the mind had posed a question when I was a child that was insoluble to the mind. But that was, in a sense, solvable experientially. Much later. You know, after decades of searching and seeking and wondering, and self inquiry.
Rick Archer: Okay, so you had this great English teacher in high school as did I, for some reason English teachers were always the best
Michael Rodriguez: they were.
Rick Archer: Yeah, even though I didn’t go on to become an English major in college or anything, but they had the most intelligence and sensitivity and thoughtfulness
Michael Rodriguez: they do
Rick Archer: in my experience,
Michael Rodriguez: yeah, there’s a heartful quality to a really good English teacher, because they understand the soul. Literature is really a spiritual in my experiences is really a spiritual exercise, reading literature, reflecting on it, becoming one with it, memorizing it in order to really get the essence of a poem or a passage, that is a spiritual discipline in itself. And, in fact, we find this even in spiritual visions, like in Christianity, they have Lectio Divina divine reading, which is taking a passage from scripture from the Bible, in that case and meditating on it. In my experience, that was always part of the process as a kind of Lectio Divina, with classic literature I was doing and also a spiritual literature. But somehow, that was built in to the way that I approached, it
Rick Archer: seems like with literature, there would be as much variation in the spiritual depth of it as there is among people in general. I mean, some people are just rather crude and superficial, and others are very deep and insightful. And, you know, look at books today that are available, I suppose, I suppose maybe what what qualifies something as really classic literature is that there is some depth to it. And you had your, your pulp fiction novels back in the 1600s. But they didn’t stand the test of time. And is that true?
Michael Rodriguez: That’s part of it. And they ask certain perennial questions that have no definitive answer, because they’re really plumbing the depths of the psyche, and soul. And there’s no end to that. So if you read the great literary figures, that you can never, you can never finish reading a great piece of literature. Just like you can never finish reading, say the Bhagavad Gita
Rick Archer: sure, because
Michael Rodriguez: Or the Bible
Rick Archer: There’s levels and levels
Michael Rodriguez: Absolutely. And no matter how much you think you know about it, as you continue to develop in a relative sense, and go back to these texts, you see deeper and deeper levels that you missed, for the first 2030 years sometimes,
Rick Archer: and so perhaps you surpassed the depth of the author that you think,
Michael Rodriguez: well, the the depth of the author makes no difference in the sense that the text itself is kind of an autonomous being,
Rick Archer: doesn’t it reflect his state of consciousness now, if you read Shakespeare doesn’t go as deep as Shakespeare was, and
Michael Rodriguez: which is infinite.
Rick Archer: He in particular, everyone,
Michael Rodriguez: No everyone, of course, but the creativity that someone like that brings to a text has no limits. So you could read Hamlet, forever, and never exhaust its potential meaning, just like you could read the Bible for the rest of your life, and never quite pin down Jesus to be this rather than that, because it’s, it’s a literary text is alive. It’s, it’s not a dead inert thing. The experience of reading a text is a living experience. And you’re always changing. So the text changes with you. Because it’s a meeting.
Rick Archer: Some people feel that great composers like Beethoven, Mozart, were divinely inspired, that they were just sort of conduits for some, something much deeper that wanted to be expressed in the world. You feel like that may be true of writers also,
Michael Rodriguez: I think it’s true of all artists. That creative impulse comes from the unknown. Beethoven marveled at it himself. Mozart did didn’t know where these tunes came from, would wake up at a whole symphony, it would be in his mind
Rick Archer: In a flash. Yeah. And then it just had to take the time to write his back down. Yeah,
Michael Rodriguez: exactly. And that’s a mystery.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Michael Rodriguez: And no one can claim to understand that, in a sense, it’s a mystery as grand and as ineffable as the creation of anything. It all comes from the same source. And I think that artists are aware of that. And so even though you could create anything, and it would still be coming from the source, artists are consciously in a sense, conduits for that which is transcendent. And when it comes through, when it breaks through, into from the realm of the uncreated to the created, it’s permeated and saturated With its origin. Yeah. And somehow that communicates to us and we all know this, there’s nothing terribly grandiose about what I’m saying, I think everybody knows this when they encounter beauty. It’s a universal, universal human experience.
Rick Archer: Nice. So you ended up going on to get four degrees, three master’s degrees, two master’s degrees and a PhD. was what’s the fourth the bachelor’s degree in accounting? Yeah. So your master’s degree in literature, and,
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, no, one of them is an Irish literature. And one of them is in comparative religion, okay. And then the PhD is in literature as well. And that was a thrill for many years I, as I graduated high school, and found myself in college and enjoying very much the study of literature, I felt very alive. And as though I were following my dharma, I just felt very normal and natural that I would be studying this and that I would go on, hopefully, one day to teach it. I wanted to teach as well as my high school teacher had taught. And I had seen Dead Poets Society, which had an enormous impact on me that would be really transformed. The way that I saw the world and instigated brought out of me this, this desire to be of service in that way to be to express my passion in a way that would help wake students up to their own divine potential. And I couldn’t always speak of it in spiritual terms, but that was always the subtext, yeah, that each of us has infinite potential. And if we can somehow tap into that through great literature. Again, that would be something really divine. That, that that literature helps us discover, as Robert Frost said, it helps us discover what we didn’t know, we knew. Let’s go to always stuck stuck with me. And there’s levels that we do know, but we’re not conscious of it. And so literature makes us conscious of ultimately consciousness itself, which for me, is the the great realization that it’s consciousness that is conscious. And it when we actually look for it, we can’t find it. Despite the fact that it’s, I am, it is undeniably present and unconscious.
Rick Archer: I think it’s worth mentioning that, in my opinion, we each possess, you know, we might call the home of all knowledge, deep within our awareness, kind of a vast repository of energy, intelligence, creativity, wisdom, all of that. And, you know, most people just sort of tap into just a tiny fraction of it, and try to live their lives on that basis. Yes, as if we’re all walking around multimillionaires, and yet we’re begging at street corners, you know, because we forgotten we had that bank account.
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, it’s the difference between being satisfied with relative knowledge, which is the norm. And we assumed that that’s true knowledge and
Rick Archer: And getting some little fragment of it ’cause that’s all you can get in a lifetime.
Michael Rodriguez: That’s all you can get. And, and most people live at that level. And the level that you’re describing so beautifully right now is the repository of where relative novel knowledge flip novel, speaking of literature, where relative knowledge flows from, and ultimately, the only thing that can satisfy the yearning for absolute knowledge, which is there we mistake for relative knowledge is the recognition, the direct realization of the repository, the source from which all relative knowledge flows, and that instills in us the peace that passeth all understanding? Yeah. And I think everyone is in search of that. And, and it’s described differently in different traditions, it’s verbalized differently. But the source is simple and single. And it’s universal.
Rick Archer: Yeah, the apana shots have this, this one of I forget which Upanishad, but they say something like, it’s not for the sake of the what the wife or the wife is dear. But for the sake of the self, the wife is there, it’s not for the sake of wealth, that the wealth is there, but for the sake of the self, the wealth is there. And it goes on with ticks off a number of things that people might strive after in life. And, you know, makes the point that whatever satisfaction we derive from external things, is just a sort of a paltry reflection of the ocean of fulfillment that resides within us. And it’s here, which is not to say we shouldn’t enjoy the external things, but without also tapping into that ocean of fulfillment that resides then we’re really shortchanging ourselves.
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, and in a sense It seems what we’re talking about, like there’s so theoretical far off, but it’s here, it’s always here. This presence that does not come or go is ocean of knowing. And a being which are synonymous to this sense of being is, has an intrinsic knowing quality. Although, when we go deeply into what that means even that description that I just gave is paltry because it’s prior even to that concept. It’s prior to any concept or idea or experience even. Its prior to everything, but it’s here, not prior in time. But just prior to the first movement out by mind, it’s here. And the irony of this spiritual quest is that the whole thing takes place. Here. It’s all a mental movement that has no substance or reality to it. And it’s just a simple noticing. Although it doesn’t seem so simple when we’re struggling to try to understand who we are.
Rick Archer: So Michael, we talked a bit about your fascination with or your love of literature, and your academic pursuit of that. And we talked a bit about when you’re seven, you had this spiritual experience that really got you thinking about the deeper questions. But obviously, you know, skipping forward, you’re a dedicated spiritual teacher now, and that’s your primary focus. So how did your interest in spirituality, emerge in the midst of your academic life and eventually eclipse it?
Michael Rodriguez: So it’s a great question and merge is a good word because it really did emerge out of the academic work. When I was in college, I had two professors and particularly, subsequently became dear friends of mine, who introduced me to the wisdom of beast. And one of my professors had been a student of Tony packers, who was initially Philip Kaplow is dharma hare, and then broke from him when she had encountered Christina Mercy’s work and really started her own bare bones meditation center in upstate New York. So I had met Philip Kaplow when I was in college, and had gone to some retreats of his when he was down in Florida, Hollywood, Florida during his retirement. And I just fell in love with Zen immediately. And I just felt a deep kindred karmic connection. Yeah. And as though it had been in my blood for lifetimes. So as soon as I met him, there was a deep resonance. I’d read the three pillars of Zen by Kaplow have that under my arm when I went to meet him the first time, and it was a very powerful experience. And that led to the beginning of really a 20 year commitment to Zaza and to sitting meditation and working with Tony Packer for a number of years and retreats. And that was all going on simultaneously with the academic work. So whatever I was doing in my classes was dovetailing with the experiential aspect in retreats, and so Sheen’s and other other work with, particularly, Tony packer, for a long period of time, was my main teacher early on, and learn so much from her as
Rick Archer: a college professor, teaching literature, were you subtle about your fascination with Zen and spiritual teachings? Or did you just bring it right in there and refer to it explicitly?
Michael Rodriguez: That’s a great question. A little of both. In academia, one has to be careful about what you say, yeah. Which was one of the reasons I ended up not feeling comfortable in it. But there were two courses that I would teach in theology, for instance, or religion and literature, where I could explore these topics more overtly. But it was often in the context of talking about literature, and spirituality more in a in an implicit sense, right. But it always came through somehow. Yeah. And that’s what’s interesting, no matter what I taught, the spirit of the inquiry that I was personally engaged in would somehow manifests itself and it often manifested itself in my passion as a teacher. One of the most common reports I would get from students was how passionate I was. And there’s something about passion that’s infectious. Yeah. And I’ve experienced it with my own English teacher, you probably did too, in high school with yours. But there was something that communicates in that. And that speaks to students,
Rick Archer: Did many of your students actually get interested in spirituality, did you light a fire under a lot of them?
Michael Rodriguez: I did, I did. I’ve had students come back to me and say that their class with me, inspire them to go to divinity school, or study to become a religion major in college. I did get that. And I also had students come back to me and say that every week they came to class, they felt like it was their therapy session, actually got that a lot. It was a common theme, although I would never, I would never talk about that. But that was the flavor of a lot of the classes with it. It was there was a sense of sharing, of talking about life and applying the literature, to real life situations. And so I would always talk anecdotally about whatever I was learning in my own life, and how I was applying some of the lessons that were coming out of the literature, because I do feel that literature helps us live a better life helps us to know who we are as essentially like any great spiritual text, yeah, they help us understand who we are. And in an ultimate sense, we are absolutely, which is beyond the name in the form. But that and you can get that sort of message in some of the deeper literature by Shakespeare. Or even something like Samuel Beckett, who might not initially seem like a spiritual writer, but in my views, deeply spiritual, because he was concerned first and foremost, with human suffering, and the relief from suffering and glimmers of truth that come through Beckett’s writing here and there. And I was always eager to communicate that to the students. Those glimmers of truth that were coming through even the darkest of literature.
Rick Archer: So, you’ve alluded to the fact that you eventually became disillusioned with the academic life. My guess is that kind of snuck up on you, like a thief in the night, incrementally, it didn’t hit you, you didn’t wake up one morning and think, Alright, I can’t do this. But it must have gotten to know you more and more did it.
Michael Rodriguez: Over a long period of time, it started to become less and less fulfilling. Because my heart really was moving more and more as my own personal journey was developing. In the relative sense, it was becoming more and more consuming. And it was difficult for me to talk about anything other than that.
Rick Archer: Were there many of your peers who appreciated what you’re doing? Are you kind of a fish out of water fish
Michael Rodriguez: out of water? There? Weren’t there were maybe one or two who are on a similar kind of path. Yeah. And they were very dear, close friends, but only a couple. But for the most part, it was a very heavy environment. Yeah. And I was finding as I was going deeper into my own truth, that I was dropping more and more from the head to the heart, and to the felt sense of being. And it’s very difficult to teach in an academic environment. Unless you’re in your head. Yeah, that’s what it is.
Rick Archer: It’s what it is right? For the most part, and I just sing Kumbaya?
Michael Rodriguez: Well, yeah, and right, and there’s not much of a container for truth. beyond the mind, I mean, it really is meant to fill students with relative knowledge, and then get them to spit that back in one way or another either on tests or in the writing. And it’s a very structured formulaic kind of system. That started to feel less and less true and authentic to me, because I wanted my students to, I wanted them to be free. And I found myself holding them to standards academically, that didn’t feel good to me, you know, judging them on their writing and having for being forced to give them grades that didn’t necessarily reflect what they were getting out of the class. But they didn’t conform necessarily, to the rubrics that we had set forth. So it was not a very, it didn’t feel good. You know, when it was not in alignment, I would say with who I wasn’t who I wanted, what I wanted for my students, which was for them, to find out who the excuse me, who they were, who they truly were, and so that self inquiry was always a part of everything I did. And I always wanted them to deconstruct everything they thought they knew. I was always trying to help them to come out of their conceptions and their ideations and their beliefs about who they were, and trying to lead them more into an inquiry about the nature of their selves, the self, and the in the truest sense. And everything I did when was Emerson or Thoreau or TS Eliot or Wallace Stevens or Shakespeare, Robert Frost. It was always geared to Words, self knowledge. So it was a natural, it was a very natural movement for me to leave academia eventually, after a decade of teaching full time at the university level, and to share in a different way. And I feel now like I really drawing on the deep reservoir of potential myself to be of service, to be helpful to people who are there for that specifically, people come because they’re suffering, and they want to know who they really are, beyond identification with thoughts and emotions and body.
Rick Archer: Essentially, your point about academia being very heady, you know, intellectual. And most people say, Oh, that’s what it’s supposed to be. But it’s interesting to contrast that with the traditional Gurukula. In India, where there’s intellectual knowledge being presented, there’s devotion and love and respect for the teacher, among the students and for from the teacher to the students. There’s that mutual love and heart level thing that’s very explicitly cultured, there’s service in terms of some kind of work that contributes to the community and so on. So it’s kind of more multifaceted. It says it takes into account all of one’s faculties as a developing human being, rather than just the intellect seems like our whole society is a little top heavy, and lacking in those other qualities is because of the nature of educational system, in fact, I mean, they’re always cutting the stuff that the arts and you know, stuff that are considered frivolous and impractical,
Michael Rodriguez: correct,
Rick Archer: you know, for earning a living.
Michael Rodriguez: That’s right. That’s right. And that’s because we live in a very materialist culture. Yeah, that’s based on the accumulation of stuff, and of technology, and progress in the technological sense. And, unfortunately, we haven’t made as much progress, perhaps, in terms of our moral and spiritual development, as we have technologically, which is a dangerous place. And
Rick Archer: I think we’re praying and paying the price for your painting price. You know, I may even just take any example the environmental crisis, absolutely. It’s a direct reflection of the rec… of regarding the world as a mechanistic resource that we can extract stuff from for our own benefit. Yes. And, you know, no sort of appreciation for the world as a living being or for, you know, love of animals and nature and all that from the heart level. It’s just so we’re seeing the symptoms we’re seeing in the world of the sort of education that has been predominant.
Michael Rodriguez: Yes, yes, it’s one of the things I always tried to evoke in my students was awe and wonder, which I think is very rare nowadays. There are so bombarded by so much stimulation on so many levels, that we’re sort of deadened to the living vibrant reality of this moment, we’re sort of stuck in our heads, or we’re stuck in front of a computer screen. And we forget that this moment is alive with conscious intelligence. And as the awakening started to unfold here, that became more and more pronounced, so that it ended up just swallowing up everything. That sense of that, of conscious intelligence that the body itself, which we think of as being this lump of flesh, is actually living. It’s conscious, it’s intelligent, it’s sensitive. It’s fundamentally undefended, and free. And everything is made of that. And that was one of the Great Awakenings here was that it’s not just the body that’s conscious and intelligent. But everything that is experienced is made of that same conscious, intelligent principle, which is synonymous with our true self. Yeah. It’s ironic because even though so science might be held culpable, for the sort of dead mechanistic view of the world that is so predominant, on the other hand, science gives has enabled us to understand matter. In such intricate, deep, subtle ways that if we appreciate what it’s actually showing us, it evokes the sense of awe wonder that you mentioned a little while ago, it’s like you look at a single cell, you look at a grain of sand, you look a little bug on the sidewalk, and look closely enough and you realize what an amazing, miraculous thing so full of intelligence. So I mean, in a way science might be able to redeem itself, by helping us come to appreciate by by being a tool, not the only tool but A tool in our toolbox which could help us really appreciate the wonder of life. More so than ever, hopefully, I think a good scientist has that as a foundation, some of the great ones. Yeah, well articulated. Absolutely. And Einstein talked a lot about a mountainous city of imagination, right, and of creativity, and a wonder, yeah. And he had spiritual experiences, he had divine experiences of the infinite intelligence, that is what we call The Universe. And so if we can, somehow kindling ourselves that innate sense of wonder that we all have as children, and that somehow gets calcified by our education system, primarily in our cultural conditioning,
Rick Archer: and just the constant onslaught of life.
Michael Rodriguez: Life as we know it in this modern Western culture, although it’s not just Western now, it’s really a worldwide phenomenon.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I was riding home from our dinner last night that we had the restaurant and my one of my hosts was saying that she was surprised there aren’t sort of more incidents of violence in the streets and so on. She said, Because life is just so intense for most people, you know, and I’m kind of oblivious to that living in Fairfield, Iowa, idyllic little existence. But she said, most people are just dealing with so much and so much pressure, that it’s, it’s a wonder that people can withstand it. Somehow or other, you know, if that’s the way it tends to be out there. You know, it begs the question, is spirituality a luxury for those who have somehow arranged their lives to have all kinds of leisure time and stuff? No? or can people who are really in the thick of it, get some relief and benefit from these kinds of things? We’re talking about
Michael Rodriguez: It’s beautiful, I think, I think the latter, it’s, it’s not a luxury, it’s a necessity. You know, as I see it, waking up as a necessity, waking up from the dream of living in separation and fear, and desire and anxiety. And all of that’s not practical. Actually, what we think is practical is not practical. It’s actually highly impractical. I mean, how well can you function when you’re wracked with thoughts and anxiety and fear?
Rick Archer: Exhausted, I mean, it talks about people. Arianna Huffington is on a campaign these days just to get people to sleep, and have normal number of hours. Because she feels like we’re our whole society is sleep deprived, in addition to being bombarded with sensory stimuli?
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, we’re
Rick Archer: not really a conducive situation for deep experience.
Michael Rodriguez: It’s not what we find. Interestingly, when we slow down practically just I know that there are mothers out there who have children who are screaming, and they have to put food on the table. And you know, they may be working two jobs. But there are moments and everyday for all of us, even if it’s three to five minutes, where if we can just drop down into the felt sense of being over and over again, for small periods. That has a tremendously healing effect on body mind. Yeah. And over time that really accumulates, even if it’s just time in the bathroom alone, or time walking to your car, or time from the car to the job. There are moments every day when everybody does have, it takes a little bit of earnestness as Nisargadatta would say,
Rick Archer: yeah,
Michael Rodriguez: and commitment. But what’s the alternative? Pain and suffering?
Rick Archer: Yeah. And how many hours a day? Does the average American watch television?
Michael Rodriguez: Yes,
Rick Archer: you know, or we play video games?
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah,
Rick Archer: or go round looking for pokeymon go character?
Michael Rodriguez: Yes,
Rick Archer: yeah, if they’re that age,
Michael Rodriguez: we do. We fritter away a lot.
Rick Archer: So there is time, it’s just a matter of knowing what to do with that time and having the ability to kind of stop the rat race and tune in
Michael Rodriguez: Just tune in very simply, it’s like down to earth. And I’m not trying to talk about anything grandiose or abstract here, it’s really a very functional down to earth. Sort of, you could call it a technique, but it’s just Resting, resting and, and dropping down. And I call it softening. Yeah, you know, instead of surrendering, and we could say surrender, but that has such loaded connotations that just softening the density of the body and the mind is extremely therapeutic. As well as making the body and the mind more transparent. Over time, to the true nature of the self, which is weightless and spaceless and timeless. Consciousness itself we could say. It makes the body mind more permeable to true nature. Although everything is true nature all the time. It’s difficult to notice when the body mind is just a series of contractions and tightness restriction, which is not the natural state that has become the neck the normal state, but it’s not natural to be different. and constricted and fearful unless you’re in the presence of a saber toothed Tiger. But we live that way all the time in situations that are not actually in any way harmful or threatening. But it’s all psychologically driven. Yeah. So the work that I do now is very much about helping people dis identify. And there’s nothing unique in this work, necessarily, hopefully, I present the work in a unique way. But it’s really very universal. And many teachers out there are doing wonderful work like this. But just helping people to wake up from identification with name and form.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Now you yourself practice Zen for 20 years? And how many hours a day typically did you do that?
Michael Rodriguez: I was a hardcore Zen student.
Rick Archer: like hours a day?
Michael Rodriguez: many hours a day
Rick Archer: Yeah,
Michael Rodriguez: I would just sit,
Rick Archer: right, and retreats and the whole works. So sometimes I see a bit of a disconnect between people like yourself and myself, for that matter, who have practiced hours a day for decades. And who then attained some degree of benefit from that profoundly, perhaps, but then turn around and say,
Michael Rodriguez: there’s nothing to do
Rick Archer: nothing to do, or just a few minutes here and there, you know, and like, Are people really going to attain satisfactory results? Unless they learn some kind of effective practice and dedicate a reasonable amount of time to it.
Michael Rodriguez: Right. Well, as you know, in our discussions back and forth, I tend not to be dogmatic one way or the other. And I, I feel free to flow between all the different levels and layers of consciousness that I don’t get stuck anywhere and
Rick Archer: right,
Michael Rodriguez: so that I can be really available to be helpful to people wherever they think they are. So for some people, it’s appropriate to have a really structured sitting practice.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Michael Rodriguez: For other people, doing it in the midst of daily living terms of karma yoga, is perfectly appropriate and helpful. In some people, it’s a combination of the two, some people don’t need to do anything, except live their life and listen to teachings and read spiritual texts, and something is happening chemically.
Rick Archer: That attitude is kind of behind the creation of Buddha at the Gas Pump. I mean, the idea is to present a whole array of different teachers and, and people gravitate to what’s appropriate for them. Yes. And you know, very often I’ll put up an interview, and I’ll get an email from one person saying that sucked. I didn’t like that was your worst one ever. And someone else would say, that was your best one ever. I’d really love that. So it’s obvious that people just have different affinities. And, you know, there’s no one size does not fit all. But but, you know, perhaps we can make a general statement and you can make a general statement about what one should do. At the very least, if one is interested in all this and just wanting to make some kind of progress?
Michael Rodriguez: That’s such a great question. I think if that spark is there, to find out what’s true, to find out who you really are, I would suggest putting as much time and energy into that as you possibly can. And again, going back to Nisargadatta, my route teacher, he would call that earnestness, just being earnest, sincere, honest with oneself, that if you want to know yourself, if you want to wake up from suffering, then it’s just common sense that that’s what you would put your attention on. But so many of us are complacent and are suffering and kind of want to wake up but are just kind of so comfortable in our in our lives, that we’re not really willing to give up our little luxuries. Yeah, we probably don’t need to, you know, we can begin to just introduce a second element of something that is akin to what we’re talking about here, some some practice some teaching, some focus, some reading, just being more earnest about spirituality, and just see what ends up dropping off in your life, you might find you, you’re not gonna lose interest in your children, you’re not gonna lose interest in some any sort of healthy pursuit. We don’t know what’s gonna happen. No, we don’t. But if people are, you know, there’s this sort of stigma against spirituality that you’re going to become a monk or become aloof and witness and detached and disinterested in your children. I was listening to some Adi Shanti recordings yesterday, and the woman was saying, just actually, I love my children, more than anything in the world. I’m afraid that if I pursue this too far, I’m going to not love them anymore. I’m gonna lose interest in them. So those concerns, they do come up in their mind concerns. They’re their concerns that the mind throws up to stall the issue. They’re not true. And they’re just these little sort of you know, these doubts doubts that come up, which can be dispelled. They can be I mean, knowing oneself, this was the point I was trying to make that knowing oneself is not impractical, right? It actually enlivens whatever your, whatever your role is in this life is to be a mother, you can only be a better mother, if you know who you are, you’re not going to be a worse mother. Yeah, if you are not identified with thoughts that make you feel miserable. How could that be? Right? You know, it actually will bring back life and vitality and truth and goodness in whatever we’re doing whatever you’re called to be a mother or a cab driver or a teacher, even it could, it could happen in any field. It’s the spirit with which we’re coming. It’s not what we’re doing that’s really secondary, to the heart of the matter, the heart of the matter is really just to be get clear for ourselves about what’s true. And then whatever flows from that will be true. There’s, so I just am encouraging for people to be honest with themselves. And to find me in my own case, there was a point where I really had to give everything up. It was it was that intense for me, but it doesn’t have to take that shape for everybody. And now things have come back. And so it was just a period of purification. Yeah. And then now there’s a movement back into sure his role.
Rick Archer: And when you had to give everything up, was it a leap in the dark? Or into an abyss? Or was it more like, Alright, I’m leaving the garden, but I’m entering the house
Michael Rodriguez: as an abyss. Yeah, because I didn’t know I couldn’t see what was coming. And there was no security, there was no guarantee it was gonna work out. In a good sense of the relative sense. Yeah, I’d left a job that paid well and benefits. And I don’t recommend that right. People have to just follow their own truth. Yeah. So that was my, that was my truth. But for me, it was necessary to face the fears that came up. With those doomsday scenarios, being homeless and having no income and having no insurance, which is a big one that’s conditioned into us the fear of getting sick and not having a doctor to go to what do you do then? Right. And those are legitimate concerns at some level. And so I’m not dismissing Sure. But
Rick Archer: and the more responsibilities you have, the more legitimate they are, if you have five kids, you’re not going to walk out.
Michael Rodriguez: No, and I would never encourage that. But at the same time, those fears do have to be faced the fear of survival. At some level, you have to really face whatever standing in the way of you being your authentic self. And they often revolve around money, security, and health. Yeah, the big ones. That doesn’t end there. Those are natural human concern. So I and they, you know, we I bow to them. And I bow to those concerns and respect them. And at the same time, if they’re causing a sense of of constriction and the being, and again, a stifled sense of separation and fear, that I think that that’s something that, you know, one needs to look into, just get to the root of where does that come from? And am I really defined by that? Yeah, for sure. But again, this is just my my own path. And I never made prescriptive judgments across the board about anything. Because we’re all unique, and we’re all coming from such varied places. And so I’m always always just giving provisional suggestions that people can wonder about and try out if it’s true for them. Just an invitation to Yeah, I think a good wrap up point for this topic is that what we’re talking about with spirituality is really gaining access to the repository of all intelligence and creativity and happiness. And so even though having that enlivened in our life might end up in a reshuffling of our priorities and our activities and so on, it’s generally going to go for the best if we’re really contacting and tuning to that in a genuine way, it’s really going to be an enhanced life. I think most people who’ve really gone a long distance with this, you know, would assure you enthusiastically that they have no regrets whatsoever, even though their life might be very different now than it than it used to be like it’s really paid off. It’s kind of a Jack in the beanstalk thing where, you know, you’re really going to end up with the riches if you if you take them. And the riches aren’t necessarily material. No, I know you need to imply that
Rick Archer: They may be. You might be more capable of earning a living or something if you haven’t clearer mind and more coherent thought process, but not necessarily that.
Michael Rodriguez: No, and that’s not the point. The point is to be true, yeah. But I have found in my own life, that every time there was a softening whenever a fear arose, and then following that back to from wherein it flowed, falling back down to the source, and not identifying with that fear, and then moving forward, regardless of it, blessings would flow. Yeah. And that’s
Rick Archer: Seek ye first the kingdom of God or Heaven and all else to be added unto thee.
Michael Rodriguez: but it’s its own reward.
Rick Archer: Yes, it is.
Michael Rodriguez: Its own reward, it’s that is the end in itself is just being true. And if material, I have noticed that there has been, you know, some amazing openings in a number of different areas in my life, one is making this work possible, you know, when people contacting for me for support and being a friend through this process. So, start thinking things start to flow more synchronistically. Yeah. But it’s never done for that purpose. It’s done for its own sake. It’s own beauty.
Rick Archer: I always like to take it out to the society too, because I always feel like the individual is a unit of society. And, you know, although people like yourself might be rather rare these days, there’s no reason why as things progress, people with this sort of orientation couldn’t become quite the norm. And if that were the case, I think that we would see a vast reduction in the problems that beset society, because, you know, I mean, our economic problems, our environmental problems, all that are just the reflection of all our individual activities.
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, and if just each of us, anyone listening to this can find what’s true and authentic, and find and discover this pure consciousness, which is here and waiting for, for itself to be discovered by itself, it’s just consciousness recognizing itself as such. If that can happen individually, then each of us will flow from that true space in whatever way is appropriate. And that will have repercussions in the world. Yeah, that will have sent forth ripples that go far beyond what the eye can see. That it anytime we’re coming from truth, whatever flows from that is true. So for one person that might be taking this work into their business, it might be flowing from truth in their business, and to be an enlightened entrepreneur, or awakened entrepreneur. And for somebody else, it might be to be an awakened mother, or an awakened bus driver or school teacher or a doctor or lawyer. Each of us has our own unique path. But if it’s coming from this non dual understanding of non separation, then whatever it is, will be appropriate and true. Yeah, it’s good and helpful. I mean, for the community, for the Society for the family. I mean, it all is interconnected. Yeah. Just to reiterate, but then we’ll shift to a new topic. But a lot of times this point is not brought out in spiritual circles, that this actually does have societal implications. But it does, if you if you just, if it becomes instead of a novelty, a boutique thing that, you know, small groups of people were into, but becomes more and more the norm, I think we’re gonna see vast impacts on the quality of society. And it might just be the thing that saves us from from any number of things which you could do as in I think the societal implications are innocent byproducts of the understanding? Definitely, yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, it has to you have to put the horse before the it’s not I’m not saying that we should work on a social level, although that needs to be done to but I’m just saying that secondarily, we’re kind of tapping into the fuel source of human thriving human creativity. And you want to, for us to be green all the individual trees have to be green. So you water the root of each tree and they started getting green. Next thing you know, you have a green forest.
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, and this can be tested out and everyone’s live to, you know, follow within the thread. Back to the sense of conscious presence, or boundless awareness, I call it so simple, it’s here. It’s always here. Everything else is changing and conscious presence is here is the The reality of this moment it’s shining with boundless conscious awareness. And if there’s an identification with thoughts just to drop down with the attention into the felt sense of being. Thoughts don’t have to disappear. They don’t have to not be there. They’re perfectly welcome to be there. But you can feel it in this moment, this presence that is scintillating with life, it is an autumn it is life. And we’re not separate. There’s no separation from that there’s no AI being alive, there’s just this life living itself. There’s no you and me in this space. If we’re communicating from our heads, there’s a you and me. But if we’re really coming from, it’s another way of being this, coming from this more fundamental space of openness. It communicates it at a heart level. And I can feel that in this moment, I don’t know if that’s your experience right now. And I can sense that there are these waves on the surface of the ocean, which we call thoughts. But we’re not separate as this presents, I can’t find it, I know I there is undeniably the presence of awareness. Because even if I were doubt, to doubt, the presence of awareness, that doubt would arise by virtue of the presence of awareness. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be aware of it. So it’s the one fact of experience. And it’s the one that we overlook. And so this wonder, and this all that I was talking about earlier, I’m asked, in a sense, I’m asking, whoever’s interested to to be astonished by the presence of awareness. to wonder about consciousness. I mean, if you really think about it, it’s mind blowing, that there is consciousness. It should really stop us dead in our tracks. But we fall asleep, but consciousness falls asleep to itself as this vibrant, alive intelligence and dreams, separation and kind of otherness, deadness. And we go through our days like a automaton. But the way that, you know, if you just think about it this way, and put this in my book, that it’s one of the chapters I in fact, the first chapter, I was trying to point to this, the way that a video camera sees, if you were to imagine your video camera, just for a minute, and to look around and to see the world from the perspective of a video camera. That would be very different. From the way consciousness sees. And one of them, there’s a kind of a dead, inert, panning, without any knowing quality. But that is not the way you know, right? You know, as a conscious as conscious being. And so there’s an aliveness to knowing and there’s an aliveness to seeing and hearing and tasting and touching and smelling. That we overlook. And it’s available. This this aliveness, this joy of being, this joy just to be and it’s, it’s built into consciousness, just the sense to be, which is the most basic level of existence is just the sense of being that there. And this is not abstract. It’s it’s a fact that there is being it’s a hard fact. In fact, it’s the only thing we know for sure, that I am and then to go deeply into this sense of what that I am this is while its present and aware. And this is the this is where the heart dwells. This is the this is the region of the heart. You know, Ramana Maharshi talked about the heart on the right side of the chest. The left side of the chest is more of the human heart, which experiences emotion and feeling and even intuition and opens and closes literally. And the right side of the chest is more this space used. Brahma used the right side of the chest as a kind of a metaphor for the space of awareness, within which the human heart arises and subsides, arises and subsides. That’s contracts and expands. So this anyway, the point is that this wide open presence of awareness is undeniably present and aware. And the human heart functions by virtue of this divine heart that we all are. And this is an enlivening, joyful realization. It sends healing energy through the body in the mind, it’s actually the healing factor of the body. At a time that attention is placed on this. It grows and warrant and sensitivity. And if we’re coming from this weekend, we really can relate to other people in a way that’s unifying, instead of coming from me and your YouTube are coming from what we share. Yeah, this is this is share this is there’s not my it’s not mine, it’s not yours. And so why would I want to be anything other than helpful? pined? If if we’re not separate? Fundamentally,
Rick Archer: it’s an important point, yeah. Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you meaning, has a deeper meaning, you know, because others argue?
Michael Rodriguez: Well, I think I think if we’re talking about the story of Jesus, which is what you were just alluding to there, there was a deep realization there of this non dual awareness. We can see evidence of that throughout the Gospels and the sayings of Jesus and also in the Gnostic Gospels in particular, but also in the Gospel of John is a very powerful awakened being who was awake to the fact that there was no separation between the human and the divine and between the self and the other. In Martin boobers language, it would be the the eye and the vow, as opposed to by it. Yeah, we usually we engage with things and people like their, their objects. But if we’re coming from his presence than everything is, is that presence. in disguise, it’s appearing as what we would call a wall, but it’s all saturated with being
Rick Archer: there’s a chapter in your personal story that we haven’t touched on yet, but that you’ve alluded to in some of our conversations. And that was a lot of purification you had to undergo. And I think, probably most people on the spiritual path are going to have to go through a chapter like that. So it might be worth our discussing it for a few minutes.
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah. That was an important period, after I left academia, it was just really intense. Wondering about true nature and self inquiry. And just as a natural byproduct of that things started to fall away, you know, lots of toxins. body mind didn’t want lots of toxins. I mean, it didn’t want you know, alcohol or meat, even television and movies, it’s everything became very sensitive. The body might became like a nerve ending during this period. And I couldn’t listen to regular pop music, because the lyrics were just all I could hear was codependency. And there just sounded so far removed from what I was discovering. Although at some point, I started to listen to it, I still do whenever I hear popular music, and it’s a love song, I will, I started to listen to it like devotional song. Right? So I would replace it with God or yourself or consciousness. George Harrison tried to do that. You know, when he was really getting into God, and the Beatles had broken up, and he would go to concerts, and he’d say, in my life, I love God more. And then the audience would boo and the original song. Yeah, that’s beautiful. Yeah, so I there was just this period of just not wanting any toxic visual auditory, in any, in any sense, right. And that rendered the body much more soft and sensitive, which it always was. But this really was just coming back to that natural state. And really marinating in that sense of felt sense of being for hours and hours at a time, which was a joy. Yeah, it was not onerous. I mean, it was really, it was it is blissful. Yeah. Just to be sure, and not have to be in gear or doing or, you know, being productive in the world. Even just to sit and watch the clouds and to be was just utterly delightful. Yeah. And I was in a situation where I could do that for a long period of time. And I understand that there are some people who might not have that particular luxury. But again, there’s still three to five minutes a day, when Sure, you can just take the mind out of gear and just be dropped down into what it means, in a felt sense to be here. Yeah, but the underlying point here, Jesus said, not something about not pouring new wine into old wineskins. The body is an instrument through which awakening or Enlightenment is lived. And there’s some people who seem to dismiss the significance of having it be a fifth instrument, you know, but I do think it takes a certain amount of physiological clarity in the tradition talks about Vasanas, yes, if you’re full of Vasanas, deep impressions, then it’s not a very conducive condition for living, pure awareness, your consciousness, so all kinds of purificatory measures are prescribed to Patanjali. He’s got his Yamas in his neon nose, and so on for trance, helping the transformation of the physiology. And for it for each of us that will be different. So for one person, it might just be detoxing from drugs and alcohol, you know,
Rick Archer: or that might be level one, we’re
Michael Rodriguez: not my favorite vacation. I mean, we’re all different. And for me, it was a whole combination of things. Yeah. And you know, so we don’t I don’t feel to be prescriptive about that. Because and I’m not suggesting that, you know, we have to have our molars and be doing prayers and austerities. I would just say, Let It Be natural.
Rick Archer: But I’ve seen people take it to extremes. So I’m not suggesting, like, oh, I can’t do anything, you know, because it’ll be impure.
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, I think. And that’s not what I’m saying. I think, here’s what I would say, let the intelligence of the system dictate to an end to that, yes, what it is, that’s right for you. Yeah. And if each of us does that, in our own unique way, and I felt I felt that just restiveness. And you just now when you just did that deep sigh, which was beautiful, just like, just the rest of this, if we can each do that more and more, it has a tremendously healing effect, not only on the body, mind, but also on the group mind. And on the group consciousness tremendously. I mean, a being who’s in a restaurant who’s at rest, you can feel that, yeah, whether you know it or not.
Rick Archer: And if you go to some sort of Satsang, and there are hundreds of people tend to sort of stay, you know,
Michael Rodriguez: and that was a human thing for me going through, you know, sitting with these beautiful beings, and went through, you know, several year period where I did that, particularly here and through open circle, just is, you know, just incredible teachers came through, they come through on a constant basis of being able to sit with, you know, human beings who are at rest is such a gift. And so I’m sad song is such a beautiful invitation to each of us. And if one feels called to do that, you know, really, to, to follow that intuition. I would say, just follow your own intuition. And be true to it as much as possible. Because that you’re the if, you know, consciousness is supremely intelligent, all we have to do is listen to it. And it knows that each of our body minds knows what it needs to heal. And if we just give that our care, loving, caring attention, and then just have the earnestness to be true to it, how could that be? How could that go wrong? How could you be the less effective human being in the world? If you actually followed your intuition? And, you know, the body is inherently a biofeedback system. That’s what it is. It was designed to be that way that gives you feedback. It gives you immediate feedback. And if it doesn’t, if it’s out of tune by one fraction of an inch, you will know it. Yeah, through some uncomfortable sensation.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it’s true. And I mean, you go out and get drunk. And the next morning, you feel like crap. There’s a message there. And, you know,
Michael Rodriguez: suffering is the equivalent of physical pain, physical pain is meant to give us a clue that something needs to be my hand is on the stove. Oops. Yeah. And now now, but we don’t do that with suffering. Yeah. Nobody would keep their hand on the stove. Right. Right. Because we’re, the system is smart enough to know not to do that. Why, why why would suffering do we keep doing? What we know? is harmful. Yeah. And we don’t heed the same warnings. Sometimes in spiritual six Circles. People are a little bit, I would say unkind when the subject of suffering comes up, they locked into the law of karma, you know, as a concept. And if somebody gets cancer or something, they feel like, well, it must be their karma. And but that also brings up the question of, you know, there are all kinds of terrible suffering in the world, and often due to circumstances apparently beyond one’s control what was happening in Aleppo these days? How is that kind of suffering a feedback mechanism for us to make any kind of change? Looks like sometimes we just have to really grin and bear it to go through it. Yeah, well, suffering of any kind is an invitation even. And I know that it’s difficult to say on concentration camps. Yeah, the really horrific stuff, of course, and there are people who come through that like Viktor Frankl. Yeah, right? Man’s Search for Meaning, which is an extraordinary book, or else it was. Exactly. So suffering is always an invitation, even in the most extreme circumstances to wake up. I’ve certainly had my own difficulties in life, and it hasn’t been smooth sailing. So I think the key is to recognize that the circumstances of one’s life are the way they are. For many, many, many reasons, many reasons. And a lot of this stuff happens before we’re even aware of what’s going on. A lot of the conditioning that’s in the body mind is conditioned before we’re five years old. And that’s becomes the dominant program of our life, the way that we view the world, the way that we experience the way that we interact and relate. All of that is very much conditioned before we’re aware that there’s that conditioning is going on. And societally, that’s true to its infinite causes and conditions for everything that arises. So the question isn’t the bear event so much is the attitude with which it’s met. And if we can look at our suffering as an invitation to inquire into what’s true, regardless of the circumstances, it’s tremendously powerful, and liberating. And it could be in terms of health or money or the loss of a loved one. But it’s always potentially instructive. If we have that attitude, rather than a victim attitude, or poor me attitude, which is not helpful at all, to anyone, under any circumstance, it’s never helpful. So even if we find ourselves and really challenging situations, you know, could be a medical diagnosis of some kind, then that’s an invitation to really look into whatever is arising, in terms of a response to that. And to inquire what’s true. In this moment, regardless of the circumstance, and if it’s bringing up deep fear, then that’s an invitation really to look into, to go into that fear, and to really experience it. Because normally, we do everything not to experience whatever arises in response to circumstances. And that creates a very powerful sense of separation from the experience. Now, if we can learn to soften that reactivity to experience, and then inquire into it, and trace it back to its source, then there’s no longer a me against experience. And there’s no me trying to work out experience and make it you know, hunky dory. Now, there may be time when action is needed. But if it’s coming from this more true space, boundless awareness, I call it or true nature, consciousness, wherever it presents, then the response will be not from well, going back to the boobers, I, it will become for me, I vow sense of non separation from the event. So it’s not that I’m having this experience. And I really don’t like this experience, or I’m having this experience. And I really liked this experience, which are both two ends of the same continuum, but to really inquire into both of them and to feel whatever is arising the body mind as feedback, and to really heed that intuitive advice that’s coming from the system. This consciousness is supremely intelligent and the body is consciousness. It’s not that there is a body that is conscious. The body is made of consciousness. It’s through life that is weaving together, the cells of your body. It’s weaving together the tissues. It’s been Eating your heart, it’s breathing you. It’s blinking your eyes and digesting your food and growing new cells after old ones are dying and replenishing itself constantly. It. It’s nothing but intelligence, actually. There’s no, there’s no unconsciousness to the body. Actually, the body is full life, just aliveness, expressing and dancing. And the more that we can kind of tune into that, and not feel like I’m alive, and I feel that I have a bite, but I am that that’s what I am I refers to that conscious intelligence. And that’s what started to sort of wake up here during this process, that non separation from cosmic consciousness from which sounds rather grandiose and abstract, but it’s right here in this lived experience in this moment, is not abstract at all. That’s why I’m suggesting that we drop down with the attention into the felt sense of being consciousness, not being conscious, but being consciousness. Because there’s no one who’s conscious, there’s simply consciousness that’s alive as the reality and the totality of everything that’s arising. So that’s one way to invite suffering closer, rather than trying to push away or to anesthetize that, which is the norm in our culture is to drink it away, or drug it away, sex it away, you know, in some way to deny it, or to wallow in it, which is another possibility that happens a lot with depression. And, and there are many reasons and causes for that to some physiological and, you know, their biochemical reasons for that as well. But at the end of the day, the the attitude with which we meet whatever arises, determines our experience, the quality of it. This point is particularly germane in light of the opioid epidemic that’s ravaging many parts of the country. You know, it’s like large numbers of people are trying to numb out trying to stifle whatever it is they’re feeling us. And, you know, I mean, it seems very short sighted, because obviously, an opioid only lasts for a relatively short amount of time, and then you’re gonna feel even worse, yes, but I guess people just don’t feel like there’s a light on the other side of the tunnel. And if they could somehow be guided to feel through whatever it was they’re trying to stifle. I think they would find that it actually does clear up and they feel way better than opioids can make them feel temporarily. They feel better all the time than any drug could make them feel momentarily. Well, we’re all seeking abiding, contentment. Everyone is just wants to be at peace and happy in one way or another. Most of us do it unwisely. Because we don’t know. We don’t know any better. We’ve never been taught what peace really is. And so we seek momentary peace or or pleasure, we’d see passing pleasure as a way to feel a momentary sense of relief from the pain that we’re feeling. But we all know, everyone knows innately that it doesn’t last and it doesn’t work. Sometimes we have to learn that lesson over and over again, until we, as they say, you know, hit rock bottom, and there’s just you can’t do that anymore. The body won’t let you do it. It has given you enough signals that it’s time to wake up from that. And so we might find ourselves in some recovery program, or we might find ourselves in Satsang. Yeah. And I think, I think getting fed up with suffering is actually important. It was important for me, that there was a sense that I just, I can’t I can’t suffer anymore.
Rick Archer: Well, let me ask you about that. Because the account of your life you’ve given us so far, didn’t sound too horrific. You know, you had this great education, you had a teaching job that many would envy. You, you seemed like a pretty happy guy had all this sort of spiritual? Well, the spiritual thing was dawning ever since you were a child. But then you said you definitely went through a sex drugs and rock and roll phase. You know, so I’m not sure quite that where that sits in the chronology of things.
Michael Rodriguez: I wouldn’t go that far.
Rick Archer: All right.
Michael Rodriguez: I definitely wouldn’t go that far.
Rick Archer: But you know, there was a an indulgence and things that you later needed to purify.
Michael Rodriguez: Just the normal garden variety indulgence,
Rick Archer: Normal stuff.
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah.
Rick Archer: Okay. So and we talked about this whole purificatory phase that you went through, maybe you want to talk more about it, but at a certain point, was there finally a sort of breakthrough moment in which you would say you woke up some people say that they can mark it on a calendar. Other people say it snuck on snuck up on them.
Michael Rodriguez: It was both okay. It was both, which is why I don’t talk about it in dogmatic terms and I don’t Don’t say it has to be one way or the other. As you know, and from our conversations, one of my mantras is and both and neither, you know, because I I can’t say it was it was one of the work. It was a progressive unfolding when I, when I think about it and construct a story and a narrative, it seemed to progressive. Of course, change and progress is mental, and has to be remembered and constructed and put together, in order to have the story of me over time. Of course, all we ever experienced is the eternal presence of awareness, which neither comes nor goes. But if I’m constructing a narrative of my life in time, which requires memory and imagination, you know, there was this sense of slow, the slow cook for 22 years of conscious when cooking, was there. It happened prior to that, too, but that was intentional. Yes, yes. But there were also stations which the Sufis the Sufis use the word stations like plateaus of understanding and insight where you, you can’t go back. Yeah. And there were shifts in understanding that we’re understanding and experience would all coalesce and click into place? And once that clicks, it’s, it’s a definitive, it’s, it’s stable. Yeah. And, you know, yes. So there were, there were moments towards the end of that purification process, when there were two or three clicks, where there was a shift from it was a 180, actually, from feeling, and thinking, and being a separate self. Who was conscious to realizing that I am consciousness. And that that’s what I refers to, there was a moment of realization that I am the unbroken internal continuity of pure awareness. And since then, thoughts, sensations and perceptions have no sway, there’s they’re still there. But the understanding has clicked that they’re just passing through a web are made out of awareness or passing through awareness, but that eye refers to awareness, which neither comes in or goes. And so it’s a little 180, of understanding. Because prior to that, you feel like you are someone who’s making progress, and who comes in and out of it. And that sense has gone, being someone who is kind of getting it and losing it, getting into losing it, which is a common phase that that happens. But there’s no sense of losing myself now. I’m gonna it’s an it’s an absolutely absurd idea. To think that I could lose myself, that would be like thinking, you know, I don’t know. It just seems nonsensical to me. At this point, there’s no losing the self itself, without conscious being nothing could be so it’s the foundation and reality of whatever it is. And that’s the that and there’s this, there was a stabilization during this process, where that became just normal and natural, again, was no big deal. Yeah, to be honest with you.
Rick Archer: Speaking of audio, again, I was listening to a recording just yesterday, I think, what she was saying that, you know, initially, spiritual experiences and breakthroughs can seem amazing.
Michael Rodriguez: They do.
Rick Archer: But we acclimate. Yeah. And we eventually end up in a stable state, which doesn’t seem like any big deal at all, which if we were to snap into it suddenly would seem like a big deal. But we
Michael Rodriguez: We acclimate you know, Eckhart Tolle had his park bench years, where there was a period of settling into that shift. You know, Ramana had his cave years He did
Rick Archer: you know, after his awakening
Michael Rodriguez: 20,
Rick Archer: yeah,
Michael Rodriguez: quite a long time. And that period of time will be different for each one of us. But I do like to stress and emphasize that coming, returning to the natural state, which you’ve never lacked, actually left really is natural. It’s a natural stage of evolution, if you will. I mean, the ultimate realization is that the evolutionary path culminates in the realization that consciousness does not evolve. But that’s a paradox. And so there isn’t there isn’t this evolutionary path. It’s maybe a paradox, but if we’re really clear on what we’re talking about, Then consciousness doesn’t evolve, but its expressions evolve and vehicles through which it’s lived, evolve. Yes, like saying electricity is the same, but you have different waters of light bulbs and different instruments and you know, machines and all which channel that electricity very differently. And they might evolve over time with technological progress. In cases that metaphor, the one of the tricks with evolution is that it sets up some goal. If we can agree to have evolution without a goal. Post awakening sadhana, for instance, I would, you know, make a differentiation between pre awakening sadhana and post awakening, pre awakening, you’re really on a journey somewhere. Yeah. And you have an idea in your mind of what that will be. But post awakening, this is complete. This is I, in my experience in this moment, this is utter completion.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And yet, if I were to talk to you totally years from now, you might say, Whoa, it’s just a lot more rich than it was 20 years ago, you know, you’re not sort of anticipating that or longing for that. And all because you’re quite content. Now. I think actually, there is a thing where contentment becomes quite predominant. And the whole seeking energy drops off because you just feel so content. Yeah. But that is, in my opinion, that is not to say that continued evolution of some sort, doesn’t. It does?
Michael Rodriguez: Yeah, it’s a tricky one.
Rick Archer: I mean, even in your own experience, I don’t know when this awakening happened for you. But if you, you know, to look back to when that was, Do you feel like there’s been a maturation a deepening or refinement, or something, in some relative sense, consciously, we’re not implying that consciousness is changing anymore. But our
Michael Rodriguez: presence is not changing. I mean, by definition, presence is presence, right? How could you have more or less presence or presence that’s different than this one? Yeah. It’s ridiculous, right? And you’re laughing, because you can see that
Rick Archer: laughing because one time my wife and I went camping and Canyonlands National Park in Utah. And it’s a rather foreboding place in a way, you have to really be prepared to get out into the boonies and explore the canyon without dying. And so we were sort of limited to our campsite and easy walks around that vicinity. And she went to the camp post, and you know, the park ranger guy, and she said, Here we are in this fast National Park, you know? And she said, Is there any more No, than this? And he kind of laughed and looked at her like, you know, what more could there be? This is this is an amazing place.
Michael Rodriguez: Well, that’s one of the things that is realized is that there can’t be any more perfection than there is, in this moment. That siren is absolutely what it is. It doesn’t have to be changed or improved upon or gotten rid of it is what it is, everything is shining, with the absolute radiance of pure awareness. And that’s, that will, you’ll never get more or less of that. Right. And that’s part of the realization is that it is absolute. That regardless of what showing up, regardless of the circumstances, all circumstances are shining by the same presence of awareness. And it doesn’t have any gradations in itself. Now, at the same time, the body mind does continue to refine, as you say, and to become more sensitive and perhaps transparent to truth. But it’s not goal oriented. And that’s the key. It’s not like the body is going to become some perfect bionic body. What is it that I’m what is it that I would be striving to be like? What Ideal would I set up that would be perfect for me to attain? That’s all mine projection that’s part of pre awakening sadhana. So if we could, if we could agree on a kind of post awakening sadhana, that at every, I describe it as a timeless process of unfoldment, post awakening sadhak timeless processes. It’s a paradox, meaning, it’s, there’s an awareness of the perfection of every moment as it is. And this is timeless, this moment is timeless, as presence. And there’s this relative unfoldment and time towards more and more transparency of the body, mind, you could say but not of awareness. Yeah. And it’s not particularly going anywhere. It’s just joyful. It’s joyful to be it’s joyful to to explore Ask creatively to be, you know, in relationship. But it doesn’t have to be going just like you don’t listen to a symphony by Beethoven, you’re not listening to it in order to get to the final note, right? Like, I can’t wait to the end of this because that’s going to the whole thing is a joy from every moment that you’re listening to it, it’s complete, the joy is in the total absorption in to be the beauty of that. That’s what life is. I think that and
Rick Archer: I think that’s very natural. I think that if a person is bound and suffering and not liberated, not awake, there’s a desperation to achieve relief from this. And, and there’s a very strong individual desire if to, you know, to wake up, or at least it can be, but when waking up has taken place, and really, there’s a tremendous relief and contentment and, and, and then we’ll just can rest in that. And I don’t think that the evolution stops at any point. It’s just that God has sort of taken over in the driver’s seat and you can just relax and enjoy the ride. But, you know, Santosh, contentment becomes predominant enough that the whole seeking energy drops off. And there’s,
Michael Rodriguez: I think, Oh, there’s more energy for for other things. Yeah. You know, like being of service. Being in true relationship, right with friends and family and loved ones, whoever that might be. A cup runneth over. Yeah. Yeah. So that’s such a beautiful, I mean, when Awakening was happening, there was such a feeling of plenitude, right, what they what they would call the polynomial, this over abundance of overflowing abundance I saw as I still see it everywhere, I can’t see any boundary to this abundance, I can’t see any edge or border to it, all I see is just fullness and emptiness at the same time. Because it’s couldn’t appear but for the emptiness, in which it appears, it’s known as empty knowing which it is, I mean, it’s against is not abstract. If we try to look for awareness. We don’t, we can never find it. It’s an there’s an empty knowing, or an empty awaring. As Tony packer, my first teacher used to call it awaring to make it into a kind of a verb.
Rick Archer: Paul Hedeman says something like, here’s some funny words. But um,
Michael Rodriguez: he may yeah, there’s there’s that sense of aliveness to it rather than awareness as this dead object, this thing. It’s, it’s, it’s, it’s life. It’s life itself. And there’s no beginning or end to life. And that’s just absolutely clear to me that there’s no beginning or end to what this is. And so the body takes on more of a universal proportions, because we do have a an individual body in a relative sense. But that individual body is woven with its infinite environment, there’s no beginning or end to the environment. It’s part of an infinite network of being, there’s not in going back to my childhood question what is on the other side of the universe, when you get to it out, of course, the realization that dawned is there’s no end to this. There’s no beginning to this, but experientially that revealed itself, so that the body became non separate from this beginningless, and endless, whatever, whatever we call this, whatever this is, the body is both individual and universal. And that’s when I think the real flow of being starts to really run through on an interrupted me and without any sort of kinks in it, that there’s a sense of freefall or free flow of just being this without finding any limitation to it any border, or any place where beingness can get their consciousness can get snagged, or there’s no sense of getting stuck on what would that even mean? Everything has changed and flow and flux. Nothing gets stuck. Everything is fresh. It’s just memory that gives the illusion that there’s a sense of stuckness but this is just totally new. This has never happened before you know this feeling a sensation. Then there’s a sense of like joy about that about just being awake to awakeness, which is all it is, it’s just being awake to the fact that there is awakeness it’s being conscious of the fact that there is consciousness, which Nisargadatta would call the highest meditation is to be aware of being aware, to be conscious of being conscious, and not a person being aware but just awareness is aware of being aware and That is so freeing, because there’s no me who’s against experience anymore. There’s just a flow of experience with no center. And that’s the key center.
Rick Archer: It told us about your time, with Tony packer and Philip Kaplow. But then I know you also have a picture of Nisargadatta. Here, he never met him in person, but he considered him your route teacher of all the pictures you could have brought, you brought this one,
Michael Rodriguez: because this is the one that’s an eye on that. And it’s I was actually going to bring my copy of that, because it’s, it’s the copy I’ve had for 22 years. Yeah,
Rick Archer: it’s completely audio. It’s just,
Michael Rodriguez: it’s a mess. But I can’t get rid of it. And this is the picture that was within that I’ve just lived with that picture for 22 years. So that’s why I chose that that one out of all the others. So yeah, he was I had discovered or he discovered me when I think I was 18. And I think it was Tony packer who introduced me to him. And there was just an immediate resonance, and he just completely seized my being and of the power. The incredible power and insight that came through was just unparalleled. And I’ve had a lot of great teachers, including Ramana. But there’s no one for me, who compares to the crystal clarity of Nisargadatta, to his his his, his transmission through I am that, which is remarkable, if you think about in the fact that that’s translated from his original language by Maurice Freedman, and the power is still full force. When you feel like you’re sitting there in his little studio in Bombay, you know that he could be smoking VDS right in front of you. It’s that powerful. It has an incredible transmission, and it always well, and for anybody who encounters that text, it’s a living, breathing text, it has the power to shift consciousness and to trigger realizations, in a way that I have never seen in anything else. But we’re all different. For some people that might come in talks with Ramana Maharshi. Sure, or my comment, you know, in any number of ways, but for me, it was definitive, and found the foundation for everything else that came I just lived him throughout the whole process, and when it seemed dark and pointless and altogether futile, I would always turn to Him. And there would always be a sense that this is paused, I knew it was true, I knew it was true immediately. And the whole way through, although it took a long time to come to that realization for myself. And then later I met Rupert spyera and became deeply deeply touched by his pointings, particularly at the path of inclusion and the his extraordinary descriptions of the nature of consciousness and how there are no objects and experience and consciousness is the reality of what we call objectivity. He was profoundly influential for me. And I had a number of key awakenings through my engagement with his work, and I still draw in many ways from from him, even though I’ve developed in a way of talking and expressing those are some really important, you know, understandings that came through him, but it was prepared by Nisargadatta. And then the other one was Mooji, who was such an overwhelmingly powerful force, just as Rupert was they were both sort of working synergistically in very different ways. Because there’s such different expressions, they’re rather opposites in a lot of ways, but Mooji really helped to clarify the nature of pure awareness. You know, and to open up the heart, you know, to the wellspring of love and conditional love and affection and creativity and spontaneity and intuition. All these things came from Roberto, they were sort of both contributing, like the yin and the yang towards some full understanding that was founded on my engagement with Nisargadatta, which was the foundation for that. And so it was just just a tremendous amount of gratitude to all three of them. Really. Yeah.
Rick Archer: So you’ve written a book, and some people who will be watching this, a few years can buy that book now if they want to, but those who watch it right after I put it up, might have to wait a year. It’s gonna take a little while still in the works. But um, I think you’re going to set up may you may have set up on your website by the time this airs, a way of signing up to be notified when the book is published. I would recommend that yeah, What’s the book about?
Michael Rodriguez: The book is tentatively titled the uncreated light of awareness. It’s been accepted by A non duality press, which has recently been acquired by new Harbinger. So it’ll take about a year to come out. And it’s a book that examines the nature of awareness from the perspective of experience. And it contains a lot of experiential contemplations and meditations that lead the reader into the direct realization of boundless awareness, and to have that become established as the natural state. And then there’s, you know, kind of a deconstruction of the psychological self, and a kind of re establishment back in the seat of awareness. And then there’s a chapter on integration, where this has kind of taken into our normal everyday lives so that it’s lived in the midst of fire and pressure, so that it becomes really our lives become saturated with it, this understanding on every level, and that there’s nothing that’s left out, and there’s no sense that, you know, truth is not applicable to some aspect of life, that it really everything becomes saturated in the understanding, and that we’re able to live and relate as well, which is at the end of the day, what it’s all about.
Rick Archer: Great. Yeah. So you have alluded to working with people and with groups and stuff like that, and you live in the Bay Area. So but people will be listening to this from all over the world. So they do like Skype sessions with people
Michael Rodriguez: I do I do regular Skype sessions with people, which work remarkably well, actually, one of the most beautiful things to come out of the work I’ve been doing with people on Skype, is the realization when I’m working with someone of this presence that we’ve been talking about people who are in Australia, and India, and in just all corners of the world, we tune in together, there is no distance, literally, it’s the same presence, it’s like falling into a wormhole. And it just connects, you know, these two seemingly disparate people in space and time into this non dual presence, which is so warm and juicy and in loving. And it’s been just a beautiful experience. So I’ve been doing a lot of that, and also doing online songs, and we putting together some sad songs in person and also doing retreats. I’m giving a retreat in Greece, Greece, in July, 7 day retreat, there be some sad songs in London. More to come. Great. So people can check all that out on the events page on my website, which is boundlessawareness.org
Rick Archer: boundlessawareness.org, no hyphens?
Michael Rodriguez: No hyphens.
Rick Archer: Okay, great. So thanks for I hope this has been great. I really enjoyed talking to you, we should do it more often.
Michael Rodriguez: I would love that.
Rick Archer: So and thanks to those who’ve been listening or watching, I hope you’ve enjoyed this. As most of you probably know, this is an ongoing series. And if you would like to be notified of future ones, there’s a mailing list, you can sign up for at batgap.com. If you’d like to check out past ones, go into the past interviews menu, and you’ll see hundreds of them organized and categorized in various ways. And check out the other menus too, because there are a lot of interesting little things that we keep adding stuff as time goes along. I started a quote section wherever whenever somebody send me a quote, or come across a great, great little quote that I think that I find inspiring I’m adding it in a categorized kind of a way. We have a glossary of non dual terms that someone sent me that I put up there. There’s a geographical index, where you can type in a city such as London, and you’ll see what’s coming up in London among all the people I’ve interviewed. You’ll see once Michael puts his information, you’ll see the details about Michael’s visit to London, and a bunch of other stuff. So just check out the menus and we continue we hope to continue making this more and more valuable resource for spiritual seekers and people in general everywhere. See you next time.