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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 have done over 520 of them now. And if this if this is new to you and you’d like to check out previous ones, please go to bat gap comm and look under the past interviews menu. This program is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers. So if you appreciate it and would like to contribute to it support, there’s a PayPal button on every page of the website. My guest today is Mira by star. I interviewed Mira by five years ago in person that time also at the science and non duality conference. And that that interview was very impromptu we were eating dinner and she introduced herself and she said nearby stars nearby star. I’ve heard so much about you, let’s do an interview. And so we just kind of went to the room and did an interview cold and this one near I know nearby a lot better now. And we’re going to cover a completely different information than we did in the first one. Although you might want to loop back and watch the first one also that was more biographical about your story of your life and all. One advantage of doing interviews at the sand conferences I get to do them in person. And one disadvantage is that there’s so many things to prepare for leading up to the conference that I don’t get to prepare for each interview as thoroughly as I usually do, and I only do them once a week. So unfortunately, I haven’t read Mira buys book in its entirety. But she’s such an accomplished interviewee that I trust she will guide us through this discussion and we’ll cover all the points we want to cover. But firstly, let me read a bio of her nearby writes creative nonfiction and contemporary translations of sacred literature. She taught philosophy and world religions at the University of New Mexico towers for 20 years, and now teaches and speaks internationally on contemplative practice and inner spiritual dialogue. A certified bereavement counselor, Mira by helps more nurse harness the transformational power of loss. She has received critical acclaim for her revolutionary new translations of the mystics. Jonatha cross Teresa of Avila and Julian of Norwich, she’s the award winning author of God of Love A Guide to the heart of Judaism, Christian Judaism, Christianity and Islam. caravan of no despair, a memory of loss and transformation. And Mother of God, similar to fire. That’s right. I didn’t. I didn’t that towel size at all, probably a collaboration with iconographer William Hart McNichols, her latest book, wild mercy that I just held up living the fierce and tender wisdom of the women. Mystics was published in the spring of 2019. She lives with her extended family in the mountains of northern New Mexico, namely Taos. So welcome nearby.
Mirabai Starr: Thanks, Rick, it’s so good to be with you again.
Rick Archer: Oh, it’s great. So you are you’ve made a career out of kind of understanding the lives of mystics, and translating their works and so on. And I heard you say in the talk yesterday that it was a little hard to you, it was harder to do this book than you thought it was going to be. Because the information in it about various women, mystics had been kind of suppressed, presumably by the patriarchal society, which has dominated Western culture for a couple 1000 years and maybe Eastern culture as well. And so maybe that would be a good little trigger to get you started, you know, why it has been suppressed or concealed. And, you know, how come how women mystics have had a harder time of it than male mystics, in terms of, you know, persecution and dismissal as being sort of insignificant perhaps, and things like that. And we’ll, we’ll get in the course of this discussion. We’ll get into how the tides are turning now and, and there’s a rebound rebalancing taking place in the world.
Mirabai Starr: Well, that you just said so many rich things in that in that I will see where to where to which stream to draw From so yes, I, when I first was asked to write this book by my publisher sounds true, I thought it would be fun. You know, we’re looking for the teach the wisdom of the feminine across the spiritual traditions, not not from any one particular tradition. And as you well know, and I’m not, and fathers who are watching No, that’s my thing is drawing from the wellspring of multiple spiritual traditions I’ve always felt at home. Yeah,
Rick Archer: you know, I just want to interject that you gave a great talk at Sand two years ago called, or three, two or three years ago called was B’s in the garden. And it was all about how bees, you know, go from flower to flower, extracting the nectar from many flowers. And like that now we can extract the nectar from many different spiritual traditions without being dilettantes, you know, we can go deeply at the same time.
Mirabai Starr: Exactly, I met in fact, that whole messaging that many of us have received about that whole how, yeah, that something to dig one hole to, to just stay with one tradition to really get to the, to the true transmission. I bought into that for a long time thinking that there was something wrong with me because I was temperamentally incapable of choosing one particular tradition, it almost felt like when I tried, I was betraying a covenant with my beloved as I really feel the divine as beloved, and that I was somehow trapping my beloved in a little box, and it just seemed wrong. And, and yet, that was that’s what people were people. I respect that deeply. Were saying, like, it’s very nice that you’re attracted to all these different traditions. But eventually, you’ll grow up spiritually. So it was that was part of my rebellion, my subversive experience in the last very recently, I mean, I started on the spiritual path when I was 14 years old and 58. And it took me until my early 40s, to finally claim my spiritual attracting my attraction to multiple spiritual traditions, as not only not precluding depth, but being my deeper, but anyway. So
Rick Archer: just to quickly comment on that my attitude would be that if a person is inclined to focus exclusively on one thing, great,
Mirabai Starr: yes, great,
Rick Archer: but if they’re not great, yeah, to each his own.
Mirabai Starr: Exactly. Right. Thank you. Yeah, I think it’s a matter of, of spiritual temperament. And mine is, is polyamorous. So, looking for the teachings of feminine wisdom across the spiritual tradition seemed like just perfect for me. But I did discover, as you alluded to, that those teachings, those Wisdom Teachings, of the feminine and by women had been buried, and that is not a coinkidink. They were buried on purpose, and by the patriarchal structures, for whom they were very threatening. And and I really got, Rick, that the world’s religions were not the spiritual impulse that gave rise to those religions, but the religious structures, the institutions were built by and for men, largely.
Rick Archer: yeah, no, no thought that comes up with that is that usually sort of administrative types end up taking over religions. And they’re not the mystics who founded the religions, and administrative types are made, they get nervous around mystics, or, you know, mystics, sort of shake their world. And so you know, they have Tet there, I think there’s been a tendency in most religions to bury all the mystics, you know, if possible, and perhaps the, you know, bury the women first and then then bury the men as well.
Mirabai Starr: And it’s perfectly leads into what I was thinking as you were talking when I was feeling, which is that mysticism in and of itself is feminine. So when I speak about masculine and feminine, I’m not just talking about men and women. I’m speaking to the feminine in all of us. And I’m speaking from the feminine, that that transcends the bodies that we inhabit. So I’m speaking to that thirst for the feminine, that I see. So clearly rising more and more in women, in men and in people of all genders and no gender identification, it’s still a longing for this feminine wisdom way and the mystics reside in that feminine space. And what I mean by that, is that the Mystics are about paradox. And the lawn for instance, the fundamental paradox to me in the mystical way, is the paradox of the longing. That is the portal to union. You know when Rumi speaks about the cry of longing is the is the answering response of the Beloved, that’s the path of the mistakes is that it’s, it’s rooted in the heart to yearning for union with the absolute which is characterized as love. That’s the ground of all the mystics, I think is love. And that love longing is the way to union with the beloved. It’s not like preventing us from recognizing our essential unity with a beloved it, it opens the way.
Rick Archer: So when you say mysticism is feminine, is that because you associate such qualities as longing and love and so on with the with the feminine?
Mirabai Starr: Not exclusively, but yes, in men too, like John of the Cross, San Juan Dela Cruz, who I’ve translated as you know, dark night of the soul was my first book. And it was a translation and commentary on that, on that gorgeous text. John of the Cross was a feminine mystic and my mind Rumi was a feminine mystic in my mind, John of the Cross didn’t write this text dark night of the soul, as originally as a as a guide for awakening, although it is it did end up becoming that he wrote it as a love poem to God originally, it’s an eight stands upon, and then the sisters for whom he was confessor in this convent, where he lived, begged him to explain this erotic, juicy, passionate love poem about the Rondi secret Ron De Ville, of lover and beloved in the garden, as a guide to to the path of union with the one. And so he did, he wrote this incredible classic prose treatise on the dark night of the soul and navigating this very mature spiritual state of, of neti neti of stripping of becoming spiritually naked. Why not to flex our spiritual muscles like I can hang out in this emptiness, but rather, so that we could have a naked encounter with the beloved. It’s harder to make love when you got your clothes. So I speak of Santa Teresa, they are Mila St. Teresa of Avila as the matron saint of this book. And, and also, I would say the two primary guiding feminine beings wisdom figures for wild mercy, our St. Teresa of Avila as a human being and the Shahina in Judaism as an I was gonna say a disembodied feminine wisdom being but she’s all about embodiment. But the Shaheen as the indwelling feminine face of the absolute of the Divine and who is this on the cover? Who was that on the cover? So that is Lila downs. And Lila downs. Some people say Lila Downs is a contemporary singer songwriter protest singer from Mexico.
Rick Archer: She’s one who spoke with sand the other day. Yes, no, that was different. I’m sorry.
Mirabai Starr: Oh, maybe Mona Mona. Yeah, I’m gonna hate her.
Rick Archer: Yeah, well, that was a Native American.
Mirabai Starr: Oh, right. So that was Lila gin. Okay, these are all my girl Lila Lila, right. Totally. I bring I collect young women leaders. I don’t mean to but I just do. There are all these incredible young women who are rising, their voices are rising, they haven’t they have this deep wisdom and clarity and ferocity. And and they’re all many of them are finding their way into my sphere. Meaning I have nothing I don’t have a thing I don’t have those wisdoms school just mere by a make tea and and I listened to them speak about their road, the road that they’re traveling, which is often exceedingly challenging as young women often women of color in the world
Rick Archer: I’ll be in touch with you about them. We’ll get some of them on BatGap.
Mirabai Starr: Yeah,
Rick Archer: yeah.
Mirabai Starr: And absolutely they are coming in wreck with this with this fierce wisdom that is just blowing me away. So I’m trying to give those prophets a drink of water is all I can say in there and they’re finding their their way to me and I tried to to hold them for a minute so that they can keep doing what they’re doing. So anyway, Lila Downs is the cover of wild mercy is this beautiful kind of icon that was painted by this another young woman activist artists, Lila downs, the singer songwriter Who’s whose image this is, is an activist art singer. And then the woman who painted it as an activist artist named Aaron Currier. And Aaron’s art is extraordinary. I just encourage everybody to look her up Aaron Currier, she’s also a rising star in the art world. But all of her art is about activists and mystics, which to her, and to many women is the same thing.
Rick Archer: Yeah, that’s a cool point in itself that you get into because often they have been considered to be on other poles. But there’s a sort of a mystical activism and active mysticism are something that’s, that’s coming to the fore these days.
Mirabai Starr: And that’s my way. And I don’t want to be, I did not want to be an activist, I just wanted to be a contemplative, I just wanted to be a meditator. And someone who spoke with passion about the passion of the mystics, the poetry, the, the land of the heart. And I, like so many of us and so many who are probably watching, have felt the call resounding through every fiber of my being, to step up. And so I teach a lot guided by all these women, mystics that I’ve come to love about this blend of taking refuge, and stepping up, taking refuge in the depth, and beauty in the beauty of these great teachings and teachers and poetry, and then stepping up taking refuge stepping up. And in in many ways, to me, that is the way of the feminine, it’s a way of holding and nurturing, and then fierce, prophetic, rising. And, and all of the women in this book for me are models of that intertwining of the prophetic and the contemplative. So, Lila Downs is on the cover, Erin courier as the artist, the book is filled with women like both of them, who have throughout history and right now because there are quite a few contemporary exemplars of, of the feminine way, in this book, across the spiritual traditions, who are embodying and modeling, the the essence of the feminine Path of Awakening and service, so St. Teresa of Avila. So why do I call her my matron saint? She is one who came to me kind of have her almost feels like of her own volition. John of the Cross was my guy, I loved the teachings of the dark night of the soul, the purity and nakedness of that, of that classic wisdom teaching. But Teresa of Avila was one of the crosses teacher, she was his mentor, she was his, his spiritual guide. And because of his respect for her, I felt like I had to investigate her. And once I did, she became deeply dear to me. And that’s partly because so I told you that dark night of the soul was my first book. So I know you know this, Rick, but maybe others don’t that, on the day that that book, my first of, of 15 came out, my daughter, Jenny was killed in a car accident. In fact, tomorrow is the 18th anniversary of Jenny’s stuff. And the coinciding of this traumatic loss of my beloved child, with the release into the world of these teachings on the transformational power, of, of suffering, has guided my way ever since. And it’s guided my way into the mystery, not out of the mystery, but deep into the heart of what we don’t know. And I have found myself at home, in not knowing in a way that that I used to write about and thought I knew, but I ended up knowing from from the depths of that fire that stripped away everything that I saw, before all my belief structures crumbled in the with the death of my daughter, and into that space came a book contract to translate the interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila. And so from 16th century Spanish to contemporary English. And so Teresa accompanied me through that first year of mourning. And through that companionship, we have become so intimate that she’s now with me all the time. It To translate, a master work of a mystic is to have living Darshan every day.
Rick Archer: That’s a good point. I mean, you really have to, to whatever extent you can align yourself with their experience, you know, kind of experience what they were experiencing, to whatever extent again, otherwise, you know, it’s you really can’t do justice to the translation. And that’s been an unfortunate fact about translations, and commentaries and so on throughout the ages and about the, I mean, that same knowledge crumbles on the hard rocks of ignorance where no, some great teacher comes out with some deep experience, which inspires him to come out and start teaching. And everybody listens from their level of consciousness. And here’s a completely different thing. And then, you know, he dies, and then they’re, they pass it on, and they die. And it’s like the party game where you pass a message around the circle, and by the time it gets back to you, it’s something completely different.
Mirabai Starr: And yet, there’s also a living truth that is meant to be it’s fluid, and it’s meant to, to find the shape of the container that that it flows into. And so in in many ways, I think that all of us who receive these great Wisdom Teachings across the spiritual traditions are meant to galvanize them in the crucible of our own hearts, to mix my alchemical metaphors, and see what shape they take in our lives. And that’s not to say that we’re supposed to, to blindly appropriate Wisdom Teachings, that have their home and deep root traditions for our own purposes, like the whole prosperity thing, you know, but rather, you know, then the Buddha’s last words were, were be lamps unto yourselves, cultivate your own awakening, with diligence or something like that. I’m a translator, I can turn that over I want. But that’s not an accident. And that’s not an excuse to be sloppy about. Yeah, no, but with the rigor of, of contemplative practice, and a continual coming back to the heart, I trust us to take these Wisdom Teachings and, and make them authentically ours. And I don’t mean that in an individualistic way, that’s one of the artifacts of the masculine paradigm to me, is this individualistic, my awakening, my liberation, my salvation? My redemption, but rather find our awakening in the in the web of interbeing that supports us.
Rick Archer: Yeah, and also what comes to mind as you’re speaking maybe this is what part of what you’re saying was that doesn’t really do us any good if this that or the other Saint had such an such an experience three 400 years ago, we have to have it or it has to be alive now for us to whatever extent it can be. You know, otherwise, it’s just a story.
Mirabai Starr: And yet the store agri, and yet the stories of these beings lives are can be so the catalyst, there can be catalysts. Like, like there’s so many stories about Theresa, I mean, you just tell us how once everyone loves stories, okay, good. Let’s see which which of the many, the one that’s coming to my mind is what is often called her second conversion. Presumably, as a Christian, she had already converted her heart to love of Christ, by the way she was Jewish. Originally, yeah, originally, she was the first generation converso family that was forced by the Spanish Inquisition to convert or be exiled or executed. And in fact, her her grandfather nearly lost his life by secretly practicing Judaism in the home and being called out by a neighbor. But actually, it wasn’t even her grandfather. He was the one who was accused but in in Jewish homes, it’s the women who preside over religious practices. So it was probably her grandmother lighting the candles of Shabbat. So anyway, Teresa’s so called second conversion experiences, which is what I’m feeling inclined to share right now. is so inspiring to me because she entered the convent at 18. Only because she didn’t know what else to do with her life. Her mother had died in childbirth with her ninth child at the age of 33. And Teresa was 12. And so I think she must have looked at that life of wife and mother and decided that was not what you want. But she was very beautiful and very, you know attractive to many people people just were always falling in love with Teresa her whole life actually. And and she felt like that was going to imperil her mortal soul you know that that the fact that everyone was always falling in love with her and that she was falling in love I’m sure back because it’s it’s very hard to not respond right nor should we not respond but that’s another story I wish I got into tell Teresa, It’s okay honey, you can let let yourself be in love, but you’re not going to hell for being in love. Anyway, she signed on to a convent and she was in the convent for 20 years before she had any sense of a spiritual, personal spiritual experience. She did is a very young woman have a lot of spiritual experiences even as a child, but by the time she entered the convent, like religion can just shut you down spiritually right? And it did. And so she at the age of 39, she was the at that point, the abbess of this convent, and she was bustling through a hallway one day and saw a statue of Christ beings. gorged not growing up in Christianity. I don’t even know how to say that word skirt, scorched. Whipped. Yeah, that’s better at the pillar. So that was what the statue was. And, and he was looking up. And she looked down at him looking up, and all of a sudden, their eyes locked. You know, this statue that she was just going to pick up and go take to its proper spot. And in that moment of the, of her gaze, and his gaze, meeting, her hard heart, she says, melting and opened, and the floodgates open. And the waters of passionate love and longing came flooding through. And she was down on the floor fully prostrate than the pronoun crying out to her beloved, saying, I had no idea that you loved me like this, because that’s what she saw in his eyes. She saw unconditional love, and longing, and pain, and peace all in the same gates. And that unlocked her and it was only after that, that she all her famous visions and voices and raptures and ecstasy is all the things she’s so well known for. Kane. So around age 40, which seems to be a real is a very important turning point in the lives of many mystics. I mean, Francis of Assisi received the stigmata I think at 40, Hildegard of being and really had her awakening the great medieval, Rhineland visionary at 40. So many more heart the prophet Muhammad. Many people had profound awakening experiences right around the age of 40.
Rick Archer: Interesting, not all but many. No, no mean Christ died at 33. So did Shankara. Really around that age 32. Actually, he was commentating on the Upanishads at the age of 12 and stuff. Anyway,
Mirabai Starr: then, which no greater can be conceived.
Rick Archer: Just at breakfast we happen to be talking about St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila. levitating together.
Mirabai Starr: Yeah,
Rick Archer: that’s interesting. Why do you think that happen? It? Presumably that actually did happen. And there are stories from all over the world of of it happening.
Mirabai Starr: Yeah.
Rick Archer: Why? How what mechanics of that be?
Mirabai Starr: Yeah, I think well, so in the case of the stories of the two of them levitating, the one that that we know of, is that they were awake all night talking in the in the convent, kitchen, by the fire, and the kind of talk that you do with your spiritual, deepest spiritual companions. And in the morning, when one of the sisters came into to prepare tea for the for the morning, they were still there, leaning toward each other, still deep and ecstatic conversation about God, and their chairs were five feet off the floor. This is this is part of Teresa’s canonization hearings about this was reported and whether or not that physically happened, I feel that that story encapsulates the beauty of spiritual companionship, and the depth and power of of the meeting of two souls and i i so deeply encouraged people to cultivate the kind of friendships where you can have those head to head hard times All right, conversations around the fire that lift us both up. And to me that that story is the embodiment of the power of spiritual friendship to uplift us together.
Rick Archer: That’s nice. That’s kind of what I tried to do with BatGap.
Mirabai Starr: You do read? It’s totally what you do. And I’m feeling it right now. Yeah. I mean, in fact, a little while ago, I
Rick Archer: think I started, you started to rise up.
Mirabai Starr: Don’t worry, you know what Tracy’s to say, when she’d feel herself rise? She would tell the women around her to hold her down.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Because she didn’t want to show off
Mirabai Starr: that.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Mirabai Starr: Sometimes she’d find herself up in the air. And then she would look around, say, put me down talking to God.
Rick Archer: Right.
Mirabai Starr: She had no problem talking back to God.
Rick Archer: Yeah, it we won’t get into it right now. Because I don’t think either of us could really comment on it. But I’m very interested in the physics of that.
Mirabai Starr: Yeah.
Rick Archer: I mean, how that would actually work in terms of the laws of nature and gravity and all that stuff.
Mirabai Starr: I think it probably didn’t.
Rick Archer: I think it did. Yeah, I think there are so many stories from every culture of the world. I have a friend who wrote a book about them, and collecting dozens, hundreds, maybe different stories, for from every culture
Mirabai Starr: of defying the laws of physics,
Rick Archer: by levitating specific,
Mirabai Starr: specifically,
Rick Archer: yeah. St. Joseph of Cupertino was a very famous, famous one also, but many others. And anyway, it’s a tangent. But it would be really, it says something about the fundamental nature of consciousness. That is not merely a product of the brain, that it must somehow be something fundamental to the, to the universe and to even more fundamental than the various laws of nature that conduct various processes in the universe. Because it would have to be from there that you could affect a change, an influence that could cause the body to levitate.
Mirabai Starr: And yet, I think what’s I know it is a tangent, but just to go with it a little bit more. I think what’s even more interesting than defying the laws of physics
Rick Archer: not defying airplanes don’t defy the laws of physics, although we once would have thought they did.
Mirabai Starr: Alright,
Rick Archer: but just utilizing the laws in different ways, then is customarily
Mirabai Starr: Okay, then I’m going to think about that differently. Because what I was gonna say that feels truly significant and not tangential to this conversation is that when we look at the stories of the lives of these, of these mystics, and other wisdom beings, because I also speak about goddesses and wild mercy, it does, the literal aspects of their stories are not, to me the most significant part but what they awaken in our hearts, like, like that John of the Cross trees of Avila, spiritual conversation thing, or the fact that, like Tara, in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, was born in the legend of Tara, from the tears of the Buddha, who looked upon the suffering of the world and wept. And one of his tears became the white Torah, the the Bodhisattva, of boundless mercy and compassion. So I don’t actually think of the Buddha as this, this celestial dude in some kind of heavenly geography, yeah. Crying, and his tear became a goddess, but rather, when I hear that story, when I tell that story, I feel in my own, being in my own broken open mother heart, those suffering of the whole world and how that is distilled down into an essence, that becomes an offering of love and mercy in the world.
Rick Archer: The feeling that that triggers in me is kind of an objection to the rather cold, Neo Advaita attitude sometimes that the world is just an illusion and doesn’t matter what happens to it and that kind of thing. And the real greats, you know, in the spiritual luminaries in the spiritual firmament, have been very compassionate people with great hearts and great devotion, devotion, including all the ones that are often cited as exemplars of non duality, you know, Papa G, saga data and Ramanna many others they’re just had these tremendous hearts and that’s not what always what came through in the in the books about them and stuff. That’s
Mirabai Starr: it. That’s so true. Rick, and I really take that on and wild mercy, but the Neo Advaita talked about it for a minute. Yeah. So I’d love to read a little something from wild mercy about non duality from a feminine lens. Ever since you first tasted the elixir of nobody mess, maybe in the midst of meditating or grieving. You’ve lost your hunger for somebody Enos mainstream culture conditioned you to construct a persona and defend it with all your might. The endless self improvement projects, fueled by self loathing and foiled by the realities of the human condition has only reinforced the illusion that you are separate from your source. But a combination of spiritual practice and tragic losses ended that game, you, for one, are relieved to surrender. Your surrender is invisible, you still go through the motions of promoting your work on social media, you make an effort to limit your carbs, practice yoga, pick out interesting things to wear. But that’s not because you actually identify as an individual being detached from all other beings, or from the earth, or from the Holy One. You’ve come to understand that a functioning ego is a necessary vessel for an incarnate soul. You don’t regard your ego as a problem. You just don’t take it seriously, would use to piss your ego off given itself important nature, but she’s getting used to it. When you were young, you recognized ultimate reality as beloved and you developed a powerful crush. Over the decades your roles reversed and reversed again. You are the seeker you are the saw. Eventually, in moments of deep stillness, or unbearable anguish, lover and beloved Melda only love remain. The state of suchness looked like emptiness but felt like plenitude. You came to understand that not only have you been connected to your beloved all along, but the you are that which you had been seeking. You would expected God to be the prize you would collect after all the hard work of seeking God. It turns out that the object you thought of is you does not exist, which means the subject you called God is not real either. You would have anticipated such an insight to be devastating, but it isn’t. It’s amusing. chuckling of the cosmic joke, you get on with business. There are temples to Bill curricula to develop sonatas to compose startups to start up. You did not buy your equanimity cheaply. Frequent firestorms eradicated your opinion on the matter. Multiple meltdowns led you to a place where your only option was to melt. Who knew that dissolving? would be so sweet.
Rick Archer: Nice. Was that written about you? I mean, is that autobiographical? Sort of?
Mirabai Starr: Yeah, I mean, each chapter begins with a kind of prose poem invocation to the topic of the chapter because the book is topical. So it’s, you know, cultivating a contemplative practice, a Sabbath, sexuality, creativity, parenting, you know, it’s, it’s a whole gamut of from the practical to the, to the most ecstatic, and, to me, that’s the way of the feminine is combining the the grounded, earthy, getting shit done in the world, with the, the heart that is available to the breaking in an infusion of divine love at any and all times, like looking through the eyes of love and seeing love cultivating that gaze. And, and also being able to, you know, get the kids to school and and make a good meal and find time for sensuality, self care and all of it at once service service. So, this is the teachings of non duality through a feminine lens and when you spoke about the love and devotion of these beings like Baba Ji, for instance, that people often forget, you know that that he was a Krishna bhakta right? He was. And
Rick Archer: I think that Rama was a collie, but I think also possibly Shanker was, they all had their ish to David does right?
Mirabai Starr: And that whatever the, the issue of the Deva is, she or he that that aspect of the one particularized in in a deity that has a kind of characteristic like creature, the love of Krishna, the transformational fire of Shiva, whatever the Calima those become the portals to the boundless, undifferentiated suchness that isn’t just a big empty void. It’s love and I so I’ve always felt that the wave of the feminine mistake and the And as I said, In the beginning, I feel like all mystics are, in a way, residing in that feminine realm is that love itself becomes the fire that melts the boundaries of the heart. And then we naturally lose our identification with a separate self, and discover our, our essential birthright of unity with the one who is love. I guess that’s the difference, I feel like with Buddhism can be so cold, I have a Buddhist practice and some 15 I mean, I There are so many things about Buddhism that work for me. Advaita Vedanta is, you know, the fact that we are that that we, we yearn for, but, but that the teachings have often been so masculinized and the emphasis being on transcendence, perfection, purification, as if we were impure, imperfect, bound to this world of illusion, as you said earlier. And so when we reclaim these great Wisdom Teachings, through a feminine lens, it includes embodiment, it includes the ego, it includes a relationship with each other, and with the Earth itself in a way that I feel like the the masculinized religious institutions have, preventing them, somehow embodiment becomes a threat to those structures.
Rick Archer: I gave my talk at Sand yesterday on the theme that knowledge and or reality is different at different levels of consciousness. And, and a lot of talk about paradox and how paradox or the opposite things can both be true. And I think it pertains to what you’re just saying, where, on the one hand, you know, there is only one and it’s sort of a seamless, whole, indivisible, and so on and so forth. But, Shanker said something along the lines of the intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion. Exactly, that’s what I’m saying. Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he told me personally, you know, he said that. And when I hear that, what I think is, you know, we have various faculties as human entities, and one of those is the heart. And my understanding of spiritual development is it’s a full development of blossoming of all those faculties. So somehow the heart has to have it to do and has to be able to do what it does, which is you know, experienced love and devotion and so on. And but love and devotion implies some sort of duality, where there’s me loving this. And there’s been long debates in India between the you know, the, the Hari Krishna types of Krishna back bhakti. And then the Vedanta types, you know, I totally take that on. The curse that people rip apart the the Maya VOD, and so to speak, and who are dismissing the world is my but I think that there’s, it’s kind of like the old search commercial, you know, it’s two minutes in one, there’s, there’s, if you’re old enough to remember that goes back to the 50s. But in any case, these things are not conflicting and contradictory, they can be harmonized and reconciled within a larger perspective.
Mirabai Starr: So that is very much the theme of this book exactly what you’re saying. Would you say the Shankara quote, again,
Rick Archer: the intellect imagines duality for the sake of devotion. I heard that from Maharishi in 1970
Mirabai Starr: Oh, really?
Rick Archer: Some course. Yeah. But, I mean, the implication is that devotion for even somebody like Shanker or Ramadan, or any of the others, no matter how non dual they may have been, was important. And, and I think when we talk about devotion, we kind of associate even though that we’re referring to men here, that we’re referring to what we would ordinarily call a feminine quality. I think you would, and, and so these guys wanted to incorporate that, you know, sweet, feminine quality within their experience needed to, I’d say, in the course of their development, which is kind of what you’re also saying in the beginning.
Mirabai Starr: Well, I just want to reiterate that for me, devotion is the path to non duality. Yeah, that the the fire of love melts the heart, and then we dissolve into that which we have longed for. Yeah, it’s not like two different states.
Rick Archer: In Why don’t want to keep talking about marshy so much, but in his cosmology, he actually talked about God consciousness as being precedes preceding unity consciousness, there’s almost a prerequisite to it, it was a sort of refinement of perception and the blossoming of the heart and, and then when that has reached its fruition, then you may cross the threshold into full non dual. State what? Okay, without abandoning the devotion, but
Mirabai Starr: Okay, good. And I, I agree. But I also think that’s a boy shaped theology Probably so, because what I find is that often, there are claims that somehow devotion is the precursor to non dual consciousness, which implies that it’s a lesser level. And what I find is that, at least in my own experience, then the the experience of many of these women mystics that I write about their unitive experiences began with, with a, an impulse of the heart of love. They they found themselves in these unitive states that were, that were beyond all qualities, not even ecstatic, not even, nothing sweet. Use the word sweet, not even that
Rick Archer: Just sort of transcendent or absolute unmanifest, or something
Mirabai Starr: right, undifferentiated. And then when they returned, as we inevitably do, because we’re still incarnate beings, to so called ordinary consciousness. Yeah, I’ll be it transformed somewhat, because how could you have it an experience of union and not be transformed by it? There is often an experience afterwards of both pain and Blitz, you know, combined pain, because it’s because we’re back. And it was,
Rick Archer: like coming back from a near death experience.
Mirabai Starr: Like we want to stay there. And bliss because we merged with the beloved. And we are and praise and gratitude for that, and that inspires. So, so unit of experience inspires more devotion. Yeah. So it’s a it’s just an intertwining of yearning, union, longing. Ecstasy, appreciation, all of it.
Rick Archer: Yeah, I’ll give you another quote, which is, contact with Brahman is infinite joy. And if we, you know, for lying in a bathtub, let’s say, really still, we don’t feel the warmth. But if we start sloshing around a little bit, then we start feeling this warmth. So, you know, being able to sort of reside in Brahman, or the totality of the Absolute, and then engaging in life, you know, in an embodied state and interacting and mingling, it stirs up. It’s the contact that kind of stirs it up. And results in joy, which is really underrated, underrated term, because it’s much more than joy would be just waves, tidal waves of devotion. And, you know, another metaphor for you is that, if a pond is if it’s just a little pond, it can’t rise up in tidal waves, it’ll just stir up the mud or something, it can all do little little ripples. But if, if the pond is if it’s a deep ocean, like a Pacific or something, then huge waves can arise. And the ocean has the capacity to rise up in those waves enjoy them. So your name is Mira by and there’s a very great saint named nearby who whom you talk about in this book, who people might not be as aware of as they are of, you know, St. Teresa or some of the others. Let’s let’s hear a little bit about nearby. You’re probably named after.
Mirabai Starr: So, Mira by was also a 16th century, woman mystic, like Teresa of Avila. They were contemporaries, one in Spain and one in India. And I often think about the fact that they, they were both living it at literally the same time.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Mirabai Starr: Yeah.
Rick Archer: I’ll betcha they would love to have met.
Mirabai Starr: I think so. I like to think that they’re having tea inside my heart right now. Yes. Chai. So, some nearby was a came from a wealthy privileged family and was engaged at the age of zero who knows to be married, dude, yeah. Arranged marriage. And so, but when she was five or six years old, the story is that she was with her mother on the balcony of their mansion. Looking down at the street below where there was a wedding procession going by and there were elephants and they were all or neatly adorned and, and the bride and the groom were each on their, on their elephants side by side and It was music and incense and flowers. And it just was so beautiful, you know how in the wedding. And she looked at the scene and said, what’s going on? And her mother said that these two people are to be married and they are going to love each other forever. And she said, Well, I will I ever get married. And her mother said, you’re already married to Lord Krishna. And she took her inside to the family puja table, the altar to Krishna, but the God of love, and invited her to do a little a little puja, we were offering. And nearby asked if she could take the statue of Krishna that was on the altar with her. She could just carry him around. And her mother said yes. And so she carried him around. And she continued throughout her childhood to always have Krishna with her under her pillow at night. And she forged this intimate love with the God of love. And so when it came time to be married, at 16, to principles, Raj, who was I don’t know in his 40s. She said, I’m already married.
Rick Archer: Yeah, Mommy, you told me I was
Mirabai Starr: better Fed did knock over well, with her family. She was forced into marriage with this guy. And it would and then she had to move into his household, which is the way and then yes, I think still in many places that the the woman moves into the household of
Rick Archer: Yeah, they just joined these extended families live together.
Mirabai Starr: But she had to live with his family and they did not appreciate her refusal to carry out her wifely duties, and to insist that she was married to Lord Krishna. And so the legend is that they kept trying to first they tried to convince her then they persuader. Then they tried to bully her. And finally they tried to kill her. And the legend is that they that they tried in three ways they being probably her mother in law, but maybe her brother in law, they’re conflicting stories about that probably both. And the first one was that they, they delivered a cup of nectar fruit nectar to her room that was poisoned, it was poisoned, and she drank it and it was the sweetest, most nourishing thing ever. Then they delivered flowers to her room, and the flowers had a cobra coils in them. But the the snake just became another flower. And then finally, they put poison nails under her bed with a with a cover of rose petals to make it look like they lie on the nails. Yeah. And she was the most comfortable night’s sleep. So this is an example of the stories that whether or not they happen doesn’t matter to illustrate something, and they awaken something in the heart. Yeah, they illustrate something for the intellect. But more importantly, they awaken something in the heart, which is that, you know, love is, is greater than all hatred and violence. And so eventually Bode rub the prince went off to kill the moguls and was killed in battle. And so nearby was supposed to commit Sati was supposed to jump into a fire into the fire, announce and commit suicide for her husband, and she refused. And so she was banished, which was great. It’s just what she wanted. Just what she’d been trying to get to all along. And she spent the rest of her life she was still quite a young woman at that point, the rest of her life barefoot, single, sorry, a begging bowl and an ACTIE and our own Ecotile which is a single stringed install one of those things. So it’s a gourd. It so it’s a very simple simplified kind of Tumblr. So it’s a it’s a gourd with a with a single string so you can drum and play that one note. And she wandered the streets of northern India, singing to her beloved and uttering poetry very much like Rumi. It was spontaneous utterances of pure nectar poetry, and her followers would write them down. And she was also a singer. So she would, she would sing her poems, and she became deeply beloved in India in her lifetime, and is still probably one of the most beloved women saints of India still on her budgets are still sung. Yeah. And I so you want me to tell my personal story of how I was named. So when I was 13, my first boyfriend died. Philip, he was killed in a in a gun accident. We lived in rural New Mexico. So guns, unfortunately are quite common in that rural environment. And he was my first love and my heart was absolutely shattered. I had already Last my brother of few years before to cancer, my older brother, and now my my first love and I was in this very shattered state and obviously, and oh, and so we were writing. So I went to this hippie, alternative school in Taos that was run by Lama foundation at that time and llama is the place where around us wrote be here now. And Lama was a place where many spiritual teachers and teachings came through. And our drama teachers and music teachers had were Neem Karoli Baba devotees, and they had just come back from India from being with my Raji who died shortly after that. And they brought back a comic book of the story of the life of Mira by and, and invited the children. We were older kids, we were all between, I would say 11 and 15 to write a musical play, based on this comic book, and I was cast as nearby and Phil was cast as Krishna and Philip died kind of halfway through, not that we hadn’t yet heard is formed at rehearsals, and we we choreograph the dances we created the songs although we use some classical Indian chants and budgets as well. And by the soul, somebody else filled in for Krishna girl, actually. And by the time we performed the opening of this play, I was so stripped by grief, and so broken open that when I went on stage, which was the llama dome, if anyone’s been to llama foundation, it’s his giant, Adobe and wooden glass structure, where are hundreds of 1000s of hours of spiritual practice have happened over the last 50 years. And I entered into that dome dressed in this white wedding sorry. And now I didn’t think of myself as a singer. I did think of myself as a poet. I was a poet from the time I could write. But when I opened my mouth to sing these love songs to Krishna, this voice came through that had never been there before and probably has never been there quite since. But with that voice came this sense of intimacy with whomever by is, I don’t want to say was historically, but her deep devotion to love itself. And that longing, that love longing that just changed everything for me and start launched me on my spiritual path. And then later that summer, I was visiting Ramdas in in New York, I was on kind of on my own, you know, hooked up with different spiritual pilgrims one particular family which is a whole other story because I was ended up being abused by the Father, but went to to New York to be with rom das who was with joy at the time my Jaya Sati Bhagavati. And before he denounced her oh my goodness, quite a story. Egg on my beard from magazine anyway. And Ram Dass gave me the name Mirabai.
Rick Archer: Oh, nice, okay.
Mirabai Starr: Because it was obvious I had this kind of passionate devotional poetic nature.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Do you have Anandamayi Ma in your book? I do. Let’s talk about her a little bit.
Mirabai Starr: The the bliss drenched mother. She’s another wisdom being that’s been with me since my early team. So when I first saw her picture,
Rick Archer: John, did you ever meet her? So Introduce yourself?
John Cowhig: My name is John Cowhig. And nearby you mentioned Amandamoyi Ma. The great Yogananda called her the bliss permeated mother. And in 1970, I went to take my teacher training course with marshy, Mahesh Yogi in Rishi cache. And the ashram was not yet ready for for the course. So we were waiting around in Delhi for five or six days. And I was asked to go with a group to give her flowers on behalf of Maharshi, who was a great friend, she also knew Maha she’s master, Guru deaf. So we went to the ashram and it was such a striking contrast from the streets of Delhi, which that said there aren’t really orderly and all of a sudden we walked into this courtyard and into this, this facility and it was just immaculately clean, so beautifully shiny and flowers everywhere. And we went into a sort of an outdoor meeting area where a non turmoil Mr. was speaking to a group of people who were sitting on the ground and she was talking she speaks in Bengali because she’s from the nares. And so I had a chance to Go up and give her heart she screens and I had a garland and I saw I put the garland around her neck. And then she said something in Bengali and then someone beside her said, you know, please lower your head. So I lowered my head strip the garland often littered around by now. It’s very sweet. And at that time, she was, I think, in her early 80s. But she was still just magnificent, long black hair, and this age was beautiful face. And then she said something else and somebody gave her three oranges. And then she put three oranges in my hands. And, and so I went in then, after a teacher training course, which lasted three months, we went to, to see her at another one at for ashrams in Hearthfire. And this time, I didn’t flower give her a flower anything but again, we we got to listen to her and it was for me a fulfillment of a great wish because for many years many of us had had just deeply admire just sort of mesmerized your beauty was something celestial. Now I even had a once I had a poster with the posters in my room. So that’s my story. And then my nice.
Rick Archer: Yeah, so. So now John, told us about his personal experience, but like tell us a bit more about her. Fill out some details
Mirabai Starr: Can I read a little. Yes. So first, I want to read a quote from rom das about her because he also was with her.
Rick Archer: Yeah,
Mirabai Starr: Ram Dass being my kind of lifelong spiritual uncle.
Rick Archer: Right. Pretty much everyone knows who he is. He won’t be here now. He used to be Richard Alpert. Timothy Leary back in the old days. Their book was one of my original inspirations
Mirabai Starr: as I was for so many people that book Yeah, is the Tibetan Book of the Dead thing. All right. So Rhonda says about Anandamoyi Ma. Well, now I know it’s an under Moyamoya. As she played out the Leela of child, wife and spiritual guide, she manifested from moment to moment the different aspects of the Mother, the peaceful serenity of Uma, goddess of the dawn, the loving delights of Radha Krishna is playful consort, curries, protective fierceness, Cetus dharmic. Perfection, and the mystical energy of Shakti, the manifest cosmos. So I’m just gonna read a little bit here. Yeah. When I was 16, I was pretty sure I’d be enlightened by 19. And I was shocked when I wasn’t, I still wasn’t a fully realized being by 22. Now in my mid 50s, I’m being called to teach the Dharma but I am nowhere near where I thought I would be. I still find myself getting caught by some of the booby traps. My ego skill is so skillful at setting for me, such as feeling like I’m never enough and always too much. I am alternately impatient with other people’s neuroses, and inclined to take things too personally. The separate self is a practical joke I keep falling for. The image I always held of the perfectly awakened woman was the 20th century Indian Saint Ananda myoma. Bliss permeated mother. According to Yogananda, who had been roused from the dream of a separate self, and left her ego behind. Ma was wild for God, she frequently fell into ecstatic raptures and when she wasn’t in a trance, she was busy dispensing divine wisdom, meeting each pilgrim and devotee exactly where they were along the spectrum of awakening, directly apprehending their souls and coming up with the perfect solution to their specific spiritual conundrums. There’s nothing wrong, and many things write about looking to certain Great Beings as exemplars of states of consciousness to which we aspire. The trouble lies in our preconceived notions of what it means to be awake, I will never be an undermine AMA, I live in a different time and belong to a different culture than the one that gave rise to that majestic being. But I in my way, just as you in your way of already and always an embodiment of Divine Wisdom, no, I’m not equating my neurotic little self with the Divine Mother incarnate. I am identifying here with my true self, and it is your true self I’m speaking to when I speak to you.
Rick Archer: Yeah, this brings up an interesting point, which is that we should never belittle ourselves by comparing ourselves with somebody great like that and think that, you know, I’m just a champion. I’ll never amount to anything. I mean, we’re all instruments of the Divine and we are in each each sense organ of the infinite as it were, has its function. You know, the nose isn’t going to be the ear isn’t going to be the eye or whatever. And so, you know, we just live out our door. karma as best we can live out our particular function that with which we’re gifted and do that, then things go well,
Mirabai Starr: exactly. And so and so the whole, as I said self improvement project foiled by the human condition. Yeah, is, is I think one of those masculine feminine shifts that are happening that I hope will come into balance. So I’m not anti rigorous spiritual discipline. But if it’s used as a weapon to hurt ourselves, it’s counterproductive to awakening and to service in the world, if we are waiting to be some kind of perfected cleansed beings that have no foibles, yeah, and no neuroses. And all of those things that come along with human condition, before we can step up and be of service, for instance, in this world, then we will never make use of ourselves to alleviate suffering. We come as we are, and, and the landscape of what we have is Holy Land, its holy ground, all of it.
Rick Archer: Yeah. Besides which, if you even if you get to know closely some of these great spiritual luminaries, famous people, you discover that they have their idiosyncrasies, and, you know, they have their human, you know, maybe shortcomings, if we want to look at it that way, there are people. So it’s good to become realistic about things and realize that, you know, if that were okay, as we are, even though there’s plenty of room for improvement, what was that saying? There was some great quote, knows, something like you’re perfect, just as you are, but then, you know, keep growing, keep improving, something like that.
Mirabai Starr: Yeah, there are different variations on that one I’ve heard too.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One thing I want to get into is, you know, we often hear about the masculine domination of the world, and how it’s resulted in environmental degradation and all kinds of other problems, and how there seems to be a shift taking place to A and the divine feminine is rising. And so let’s get into the sort of social implications, a little bit of that, and what we really what we mean by the, the masculine domination and what what the word of more feminine based world consciousness would look like.
Mirabai Starr: So one of the artifacts of the masculine paradigm that I think has done harm is its emphasis on transcendence and disembodiment. You know, we’ve talked about it earlier that the this world is Maya, illusion, in the Eastern tradition, or the so called Eastern traditions and non Western traditions and in the Judeo Christian traditions, that somehow this world is a veil of tears, and we will we aspire to enter some heavenly realm when we die, hopefully not too soon. Get out of here as soon as possible. Yes, because this is problematic life in a body. Yeah. So with this emphasis on disembodiment, and on leaving the pesky little physicality in the dust, it opens the way to exploitation of the earth herself. Because if the, if the world is an illusion, to be transcended, then and the body is a problem to be solved, or to be purified into oblivion, then that opens up the
Rick Archer: world, let me help you rephrase it. And not only if the world’s an illusion, but if the world is just incentive stuff, rocks and oil and, you know, things that we can just exploit. If it’s devoid of any kind of innate divinity, then do it, we can do what we want with it. It’s just dumb stuff that
Mirabai Starr: was so beautifully said, Thank you, that’s way better than I was able to say it. Exactly. And so I think that it has that the masculine spiritual model or religious model has enabled which is about this embodiment has enabled us to exploit the earth yourself, whereas the feminine reclaiming of the body is holy, and of the Earth as a beloved relative to be cherished awakens all of us of all genders to protect this beloved cherished relative Mother Earth or sister earth or as Francis of Assisi calls her our sister Mother Earth, with all our hearts, or even seeing her as a lover. If the mother paradigm evokes problematic feelings which it does for a lot of people, women and men. Know How about love her. You Whether you’re whether you’re wherever you are on the gender spectrum, to feel this sense of deep love and attraction and fierce protectiveness for her, I think is, is what is going. And it’s as rising everywhere, that love of the mother as, or the earth as a cherished relative is engaging all of us from a heart level. So that it’s we’re not just engineering solutions, technical solutions to the problems of the climate catastrophe. But actually, we’re coming from a place of personal, intimate, profound love and the sense of, of seven generations behind us have ancestors who had cultivated a direct relationship with the earth, and seven generations ahead of our great great great great grandchildren who are going to be stewarding this earth that we, that we are now cherishing and protecting.
Rick Archer: Yeah, hopefully, they will be I mean, you know, the kids in the climate marches, strong climate strike with placards saying, you know, you’ll die of old age, I’ll die of climate change. And there’s a lot of people who think that, you know, there won’t be anybody around in 100 years, the right things are gone. Some people definitely have that. They have that perspective. And then
Mirabai Starr: if they’re not, if we don’t survive as a human species, what I feel like we need, and I know a lot of my spiritual companions out there are echoing This is midwives for the death? Yeah. For the chaos. They do? Yes, the doulas the people can stay in their hearts and in their bodies, and be present for what is to unfold even if it results in the demise of the human species. Let’s do it with our hearts wide open and intending each other with loving care along the way, just as those of us who sit at the bedside of the dying do with with our loved ones as they take their last breath.
Rick Archer: I’ve often heard I’ve heard you speak of the feminine as sort of wild and unpredictable and, you know, kind of stirring things up. And speaker after speaker at the sand conference was it was almost like a shared assumption that we’re really heading into some turbulent waters, that there’s gonna be a lot of craziness and stuff. And I wonder if that is characteristic of the upwelling of the feminine and world consciousness,
Mirabai Starr: Very insightful Rick. I love
Rick Archer: You keep complimenting me.
Mirabai Starr: I love good interviewers, is a beautiful thing. That is such an insight, and I’m totally stealing it. I’m going to use it in the future. I think that’s right. I can’t read it. I’ll give you credit. The feminine is very good at sharing the glory. Yeah. So I think that there’s something true about that. That may be That’s why there is this uprising of the feminine because that is the power that’s the superpower that is going to be needed to collectively navigate these turbulent times. And that the nature of the feminine is all not only mercy and compassion and loving kindness, but also a kind of wildness and here’s what I want to say about that. The feminine is at home, in those spaces of wildness in spaces of ambiguity in liminal spaces. What does liminal mean? So by liminal I mean the in between threshold spaces, where it the old is clearly crumbling and dying and falling away phase transition spaces. Yes, but the new has not yet fully formed. And that we, we meaning the again, the feminine and all of us have a capacity for holding paradox. Mystery, darkness, you know, yesterday you you kind of asked you almost jokingly Yeah, what’s the word I’m looking for? asked me a question. Like, I felt like it was it was the dude playing devil’s advocate to those a bit
Rick Archer: of a devil’s the question I asked her was talk she was giving. I said, Well, you know, we often hear about the dark side of the masculine and how it’s raping the world. And all this stuff work. Is there a dark side to the feminine which would emerge if the feminine were to become as predominant as the masculine has been? Some guy actually came up to me afterwards and said there have been matriarchal societies in which, you know, male sacrifice was like part of the routine.
Mirabai Starr: So I had two answers to that. So the first one is the My, the answer I gave you at the time and the other one was one that bubbled up this morning. So my first answer was, that is Such a guy question to ask. It felt dualistic it felt like, so what about, you know, answer? It’s like, it’s like the whiteness question. And Nevermind, I don’t want to get go down that rabbit hole. I do, but we don’t have time. So I felt like it was a non question that was a question just to stir the pot, but
Rick Archer: academic, you know, or even just curious, but it’s
Mirabai Starr: also predicated on a certain kind of understanding of, you know, good and bad. And, you know, so So like, if you’re having a fight with your, with your partner, and, and they tell you that you’ve done something that’s bothered them. And then they say, Well, you’ve done this rather than holding space for them. And my sense is, the mask the masculine needs to hold space for the feminine right now needs he, whoever he is, in all the forms, including inside ourselves, as women need to be quiet and allow the feminine voice to emerge. And not not only not worry about what it’s going to look like if the feminine dominates right now, but encouraged the domination of the feminine, because of 1000s of years of patriarchy that have so skewed and screwed things up. Yeah,
Rick Archer: well, wasn’t worried about it. And, and, and I do, I’m happy that the pendulum is swinging. I was just curious if you know, in the traditional understandings, there is something a shadow side to the feminine as there is to the masculine but
Mirabai Starr: right. Okay, so then here’s the other answer. That percolated bubbled up in my, in my heart and consciousness this morning, which is, what’s the dark side of the feminine? The feminine is all about darkness. She’s all about it’s the Dark Mother. It’s all about mystery and creative chaos. And so that’s my answer. That’s the dark side feminine is is all of it, we, we abide in the dark and in Taoism, Yin is the dark. And that’s the creative ground from which all life emerges. And it can’t all be tidy and pretty and sweet. And I found that in myself, because I was a sort of tidy, sweet girl for till I was 40. And my daughter died, and then I wasn’t tidy and sweet and girlish anymore. You know, when I came, I dropped into my fierce feminine into that wild space of mystery.
Rick Archer: Do you advocate any kind of practices or anything that you’ve gleaned from your study of all the female mystics, that others can even hearing this interview could actually get into?
Mirabai Starr: Yeah, at the end of every chapter, I have a practice that I offer to people, but my one of my primary spiritual practices has been writing. So, right writing a prompt at the top of the either the page or the the computer screen, and then setting a timer for 10 minutes say, and allowing whatever arises to arise in response to that prompt, with, with one maybe structural gesture to myself, which is stay grounded in the body, avoid abstraction, and, and keep it keep it sensory and sensual, and physical and memory and story. And so I wrote a memoir called caravan of no despair, about the death of my daughter also about growing up in the counterculture of the 70s and meeting all these spiritual teachers as a as a teenager, and Trent and then how translating the Christian mystics saved my life during this time of mourning. But it’s not all sad. In fact, a lot of it is funny and warm and, and human. Okay, thank you. But the way that I wrote the entire memoir was with these with this writing practice of giving myself prompts and timed writing and allowing whatever emerged to emerge, of course, then I crafted it and shaped it and distilled and distilled and distilled to its essence, I didn’t leave it like this, you know, big journal writing rush but, but that’s how it began with giving myself permission for the Shakti the the primordial feminine energy of life to come coursing through me and step out of the way and see what she had to say. So writing for me is a spiritual practice. And I received the transmission of that practice from Natalie Goldberg, who was my actual English teacher at the hippie free school in Taos, when I was 12. When Pema children was our social studies teacher oh, cool and ROM doesn’t hide us, Baba and Taos Pueblo elders all came through our school
Rick Archer: Well, I wish I’d gone to that school and might not have dropped out
Mirabai Starr: well, and it’s why I’m so I’m so at home and all of these spiritual traditions, yeah. Because that’s how I was raised.
Rick Archer: Yeah.
Mirabai Starr: I’m not a renegade from, you know, the American Baptist Church or something I, you know, I grew up in this Interspiritual church,
Rick Archer: yeah,
Mirabai Starr: in a way, although it had no walls.
Rick Archer: The world is getting more and more that way, it might take a long time before our school system is that way, but, you know, with the internet and everything, there’s just such a mishmash, these days of things you can get exposed to. And it’s hard to keep people in boxes anymore.
Mirabai Starr: And that kind of multiple spiritual belonging does not preclude actual transformational depths of encounter with the jewels of all of these wisdom traditions.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One way I like to think of it is, you know, the, the metaphor of digging one deep well, rather than 10 shallow wells. Well, how about using 10 tools to dig one deep?
Mirabai Starr: Well, like?
Rick Archer: Lots of tools. Yeah, sometimes you need to pick x sometimes shovels, sometimes jackhammer,
Mirabai Starr: and you know what else? You can all one dude, do all that? Yeah, we need a we need a community to get that well done.
Rick Archer: Yeah. One thing that was an interesting observation last night, at the concluding session of the science and non duality Conference, which I’ve been to for 10 years in a row now was that Zaya, the one of the main organizers said, you know, quite some, some years back, it was just 90%, white dudes on stage giving talks. And that now, it was this tremendous mixture of all quite a wide age spectrum, color spectrum, Gender Spectrum, just this very, and there is. And there was also kind of the original title science and non duality that sounds kind of dry. And, and there was a very sort of heavy Advaita, or Neo Advaita presence in the beginning. And now there’s, there’s just tremendous heart and social activism and still Advaita in there, but just much more of a full bodied multi frequency.
Mirabai Starr: Yes.
Rick Archer: scene
Mirabai Starr: and embodies, yeah, and therefore feminine and rooted.
Rick Archer: Yeah. And I’m not saying that just as refer to the science and non duality conference, but that as a representative of the broader spiritual culture,
Mirabai Starr: exactly. It is too beautiful microcosm of what’s happening.
Rick Archer: Yeah. So yes, but let’s make some concluding remarks. You do any living, feminine female saints in here or just all the past ones?
Mirabai Starr: I don’t call them saints
Rick Archer: or whatever.
Mirabai Starr: Yeah.
Rick Archer: Mystics,
Mirabai Starr: okay, mystics great. I definitely interview and have conversations with a lot of living teachers. And with in each case, what I asked them for was a vulnerable story. So that they could, we could show people, that the Path of Awakening and service in this world is not about some idealized notion of perfection, from from that old patriarchal model, but rather, to be a full, complete human human is, is intimately entwined with this Path of Awakening and being of service to others. So I, for instance, Ganga Ji, I speak to you and she tells about having her first period, you know, and then menopause, like, those are really intimate, vulnerable things to talk about. And then all the spaces in between, where, where sexuality was in twined, with awakening. So, you know, they don’t get asked questions like that very often, and they were happy to talk about it. So term alioli, lama tsultrim, spoke about grieving her husband who died very suddenly, in his 50s, when they were in the middle of their life together. Yeah. And what that path of grief was like, and how long as it was for me with my daughter, ultimately became a way of disarming the heart so that we could be available to the suffering of the world in a way that we never had been before. So those are the kinds of stories that I talk about. Miranda McPherson, who who had experienced this, this kind of awakening and Romanus cave, where, where it was like, she really got that, that there is no self return to her devotional heart very spontaneously while running in the woods in the midst of her life falling apart, and then reclaimed. That embodied devotion, once again, that had fallen away in this into this non dual nothingness that she went through in her original awakening, and it was returning to her body that completed that circuit in a way. So So those are the kinds of stories they tell they’re vulnerable. They’re grounded, they’re real. Teresa Babila said, God lives among the pots and pans. And these are the stories that I was looking for, in these living women that I was able to speak with. That’s great, some of whom are not famous or known.
Rick Archer: Right? Yeah, I mean, God lives not only among the pots and pans, but in everything, you know, we were talking earlier about sort of treating the world as a, as a thing as a rock. And I can remember 50, 55 years ago, sometimes looking at the world and just seeing it as being so drab and dead and kind of depressing and lifeless,
Mirabai Starr: an existential crisis.
Rick Archer: Yeah, perhaps so just and, but now, it’s like, everything is alive. And every and the Divine is in everything. And, you know, it’s subtle for me, but you realize that it’s there and every little fabric of the couch cushion and you know, bit of the paper and, and everything else, the Divine is humming away and all that and so we’re just like, fish swimming in this ocean of divinity. And that, that brings with it a softness that I think would be characterized as feminine.
Mirabai Starr: And the kind of childlike wonderment
Rick Archer: Yeah,
Mirabai Starr: and awe
Rick Archer: good. Well, that’s a good note to end on. So thanks, Mira. Bye.
Mirabai Starr: Thank you Rick
Rick Archer: Glad we got to do this
Mirabai Starr: What a joy.
Rick Archer: Yeah, really great. Thank you for those who have been listening or watching and we’ll see you for the next one wherever it will be. I have no idea at this point at what order we’re going to release these videos but glad you could join us and and hope to meet you in person wanted to get one day that one of the cool things about the SAND conferences that every few minutes, someone would love to say, Oh, I just wanted to meet you in person. Yeah, I’ve been watching you for years. You’re always in my living room or in my kitchen or whatever. And it was really wonderful seeing flesh and blood faces that I could and people that I could hug. So great.
Mirabai Starr: So great. Thanks. See you next time.