Nicola Amadora Transcript

Nicola Amadora Interview

Rick: Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer. Buddha at the Gas Pump is an ongoing series of interviews with spiritually awakening people. There have been about 385 of them now. And if you haven’t seen any of the previous ones, feel free to go to, B-A-T-G-A-P, and look under the past interviews menu, where you’ll find them all organized in various ways. This show is made possible by the support of appreciative listeners and viewers, so if you appreciate it and feel like supporting it, there’s a donate button on every page of the site, There’s also a donations page which explains it in greater detail. The guest today is Nicola Amadora, PhD. Nicola was born in, did you say Italy or Germany?

Nicola: Germany.

Rick: Germany, and spent most of her early life living in Germany and Italy. And what did you get your PhD in?

Nicola: Transpersonal psychology.

Rick: Okay, from where, CIS or something?

Nicola: JFK University, and I have a master’s in social work from Germany.

Rick: Oh, great. And reading only, reading some bits and pieces from your biography here that you sent me, you said that your upbringing was fraught with intense abuse and horrors. We don’t need to go into the gruesome details of that too much, but maybe it’d be worth touching upon.

Nicola: You’re going right to the core, aren’t you?

Rick: Yeah, why not? We can only go up from here.

Nicola: Good morning Saturday. Yes, so I think that… actually I can see this now as a way of catapulting me very early towards God and towards awakening. It was for me, because it was so horrific, I had to search very very early or I would have killed myself or I would have died or gone completely insane. So I went for it, I don’t know, just in the moment. I wasn’t brought up with any religious upbringing and in some way that was a blessing. I just went to the church after everybody had left around when I was already eight years old and just sat in the graveyards and sat in the empty church and started to try to find what else is here, where is the light, where is God, where is love. I was searching for love because I didn’t get any, you see.

Rick: I could almost make a category on BatGap of people who had horrific upbringings. It prompted them to seek God because… There’s a saying that the angels in heaven aren’t interested in enlightenment because heaven is so nice, they don’t care. But if life is difficult we have more of a motivation.

Nicola: I think when it’s too comfortable you’re not really having the pressure. It doesn’t mean you have to have a horrific upbringing, it’s just for me I felt like I was on a fast track this life. It was either this life or we’re just going to pack up, basically. And so, it started very early and then I left home when I was about, I think, 14-15 and I searched. I just kept praying every step. I said, “Show me, show me where the truth is, show me where the love is”. And that’s when I met somebody in a tiny little attic and it was an old woman and I felt like she was my guide in that moment. I opened the door and she said, “I’ve been waiting for you”.

Rick: Wow. She was like this little old spiritual woman.

Nicola: Yes, yes, very unknown. I just walked into a building where they had some dancing and then I walked upstairs and there she was and then she… I don’t even know her name anymore. She just taught me meditation because that’s what I wanted to learn.

Rick: That’s pretty neat. The second person I ever interviewed on this show had a similar experience in Germany. She was, I don’t know, she was out walking or something and she just ran into this old man herding sheep or something and it turned out he was this really wise teacher and he taught her to meditate at the age of five. So there must be people like that in Germany wandering around or hiding out in attics.

Nicola: I don’t know. It was at that time in Germany there was no spiritual book to be found. It isn’t like today where it’s massive amounts of books, everything is available under the sun. There was nothing. There was also no meditation center or anything. It’s just… I just ran into this woman and she taught me how to meditate and my first meditation had to do with centering in the heart.

Rick: And did you kind of stick with it after that?

Nicola: Yeah, then I went, of course, then I went to Thessaly, to France to be… I don’t know if you heard about them, it’s like a very pure form of Christianity that’s not really in terms of… there is no church behind it. It’s the monks who hid the Jews during the war time.

Rick: Oh, I haven’t heard of that.

Nicola: It’s very beautiful. You just sit on the ground and it’s like about 14,000 young people come from all around the world. It’s in a big tent that just kept expanding, one tent after another. And you sit and you chant. All you do is chant.

Rick: Wow. And is this still going on today?

Nicola: Yes, it’s very big. Yeah, and it’s… people just find it. And then I went to Mother Teresa after that and went to the Tibetan monks to learn from them.

Rick: Yeah, so you say you did that when you were 18. So did you just somehow get together the money and hop on a plane and go to India and just start all by yourself and just find Mother Teresa and so on?

Nicola: Kind of how you describe. It was like that. It was… I finished high school and I just got my money together and then went to India. First I went to Sai Baba’s ashram and then I went to Calcutta. And that was a huge… I would say that was a huge awakening for me right there in Calcutta in the slums.

Rick: Yeah. How long did you stay with Mother Teresa?

Nicola: Half a year.

Rick: Just working?

Nicola: I meditated with her, prayed with her every morning in the little chapel. And then I worked with her alongside often in the house of the dying or the children’s homes and we went to the slums pretty much every day to feed the people.

Rick: That’s great. And then you, I guess, went up to Tibet, did you? Or let’s see, Tibetan monks or were they in Dharmasala or someplace?

Nicola: Yeah, they were at the border of Tibet.

Rick: Right.

Nicola: And I wanted to say something about Mother Teresa because we went very fast and I think for me I was looking for a teacher that could… I would look for people who would embody the love, not just talk the talk, you know. And Mother Teresa, I remember that morning when I came up in Calcutta, I walked along the streets and I entered her little place and I walked up the stairs and there comes this little tiny nun towards me and she just, I don’t know, she just beamed. And so I just asked her, “Where is Mother Teresa? Where can I find her?”

Rick: And that was her?

Nicola: It was her and she just hugged me and I just burst into tears. I was so moved by the profundity and the purity of her love.

Rick: Yeah, I mean she was amazing and she had such a beautiful face and she did such beautiful work. And then, but then after she died those letters came out that said, “Oh, I don’t have any experiences, I’m full of doubts”, and all that stuff. And did you read that stuff after she died?

Nicola: I did, I did. And it is curious because what she was living and emanating was so joyous. And I think she didn’t have any help to integrate other parts of herself. She has the shadow too, like we all do, her humanity. And somehow I think she didn’t have that real support that we have these days. So, I think part of her was hanging on the sidelines.

Rick: Yeah, well, I must say I’m much more impressed with someone like Mother Teresa who did such amazing things and really walked her talk, as you say, and claimed not to have any inner spiritual experiences than I am with someone who says they’re having all these marvelous experiences and they’re awakened and they’re enlightened and then they treat people like dirt.

Nicola: I’m so glad you’re saying that because that’s for me always the marking of how awake are you really? You don’t need to talk about it. You don’t need to have the grand experiences, but your actions show, the fruits of your labor show, how you relate. I see this a lot these days in the spiritual scene where there’s so much talk about awakening and experiences and yet they treat each other so badly.

Rick: Yeah, I don’t think you could even be a Mother Teresa, do what she did, unless you really had something significant in terms of who you are, your inner development, you know, even though she may not have… maybe it was just a mark of her humility that she didn’t recognize it in herself, but there must have been really an extraordinary heart and extraordinary mind and just something really on fire for God to have lived the life she lived.

Nicola: This is – how you put it is the truth. I sat with her every day in the chapel, in a tiny little chapel. It was so simple and she, her heart spoke miles. And her actions spoke massively. When I entered the house of the dying – I never forget that and this was a long time ago, It’s still so vivid with me – where I opened the doors and walked through and there is this incredible peace that fills the entire room and literally there’s people with gaping wounds. This is not a pretty sight and yet the peace was palpable in there.

Rick: It’s beautiful. I remember her saying that she kind of regarded everyone as Christ and she just sort of felt like tending to this person and tending to this person, she was serving Christ directly. She kind of saw the divinity in everyone.

Nicola: She did. I saw that and for me that was, for me I felt, I found a teacher that was showing me through her actions how to live like that, how to love Christ or how to love God and everyone. And she did it towards the lepers, towards the ones that really nobody wants. And she spoke of that wound that most of humanity carries around is the sense of feeling deeply unloved or unwanted and unworthy in the world.

Rick: Kind of sounds a lot like Amma now. We were talking about Amma before we started and you and I have both been seeing her for a long time. But she says that very same sort of thing about how everyone needs love and so many people don’t get it and she just keeps doling it out, you know. And she’s even had direct kind of interactions with lepers. You’ve probably seen that video where she sucks the pus out of lepers’ wounds and spits out the blood and so on, a little gruesome. But the guy ended up getting healed of leprosy. But I can see how you would be attracted to her having also been attracted to Mother Teresa who is similar in some ways.

Nicola: For me, like I said, for me the true teacher is the one who walks her or his talk. And that’s all I wanted. I wanted to know what true love is and I wanted to… I was on fire. I mean it was like a fire, Rick, that… it was burning. I didn’t want anything else. It just was consuming me like day and night. Because I had grown up with nothing.

Rick: So you were there for six months, and why did you leave?

Nicola: It was time. I knew all of a sudden I just could feel it was time for me to move into the Himalayas. I’d never been there so I packed my bags and I didn’t know how to get there. I just found my way through and ended up exactly where I needed to end up, which was high in the Himalayas. And I was… ended up in a monastery with Tibetan monks. Now I’ve never heard of them before. Like I said, there were no videos or there were no books.

Rick: What year was this, roughly?

Nicola: That was when I was 19. Oh, I’m so bad with math and don’t make me say my age.

Rick: Okay. Yeah, now people will know because they can do the math.

Nicola: Sorry, I was just… really. I can’t quite remember the year, but it was, again, I was probably… there were only three Westerners there. Two were guys and it was at that time, I think Lama Zopa was there too. And they just invited me to go on an intensive because they said, “I want to be liberated. That’s all I want to know, the truth of life. This is it and I want to do it within one day”. I didn’t have time, okay, to wait until I’m 60 or whatever. It just was like, “Give it to me now”. And so they said, “Go on the death retreat”.

Rick: How does that work?

Nicola: Well, now was that interesting. It was the Tibetan book of the dying. We went through 10 days of pretty much 11-12 hours sitting in silence. And it isn’t like our meditation halls these days where it’s all cushy and nice. This was on bare cement floor, right? And after 10 hours I felt like I can’t even feel my body anymore. It ached everywhere. But I was determined, “I’m not giving up”. But after the third day of being led through the stages of feeling your body dying, all the cells are dying, all your relatives are dying, everybody you ever loved is dead, you becoming like dust. I mean, it was just like, it became very detailed, they guided us through. And after a while I thought on the third day, I thought, “This is it. This is completely stupid. I’m not wanting to die. I’m here to live. I’m 19, excuse me, and this is not working”. So I packed my bags.

Rick: So you didn’t do the whole 10 days?

Nicola: Oh, wait, wait.

Rick: Oh, okay.

Nicola: There’s a part of the story. The story, the plot goes a little longer. So I go down the hill and then I see these monks on the side of the road and they are singing to this little mound hill on the side of the road. And I looked at them and I thought, “What are they doing? They’re singing to an anthill”. I thought, “This is crazy, right?” But I was curious, so I sat down and after a while when they finished their chanting I asked one of the monks and he said, “Well, this is the answer. The answer to every being can have been the mother of us in another life. We cannot build the road through their house. So we’re going to chant to them, we’re going to bless them and then we build the road around their house”. And all of a sudden it hit me. I just realized the depth of compassion they were coming from. So then I turned around, walked up the hill again, got up in the morning at 4 o’clock in the freezing cold Himalayan air and continued to practice. I just let go of my thoughts and expectations and at the end, throughout the middle, I felt the gate opened and I just experienced luminous, just light, complete light. There was nothing left. Yeah, so after that it was then that I went to Thich Nhat Hanh and lived with him.

Rick: And where was he? In Thailand or Vietnam?

Nicola: No, he lived already. He had started Plum Village in France.

Rick: Oh, France, okay.

Nicola: Yeah.

Rick: And then, so how long did you stay with Thich Nhat Hanh?

Nicola: Also, I think about six months.

Rick: Wow. You kind of did a greatest hits tour, didn’t you? You went and stayed with all the heavies.

Nicola: I was like, “I’m not doing this little thing, I’m just going for the full enchilada”. Yeah, it just was clear, this is what I wanted, I wanted that.

Rick: And so, what was that like being with Thich Nhat Hanh?

Nicola: Well, Thich Nhat Hanh, of course, was very different than, for example, when I was living with Sai Baba or is also different than Amma, very gentle. This Plum Village in southern France, Rick, it’s so beautiful. It’s full of sunflowers and there is such a softness and a sweetness there. Thich Nhat Hanh built this, it was very small at that time because he wasn’t known very much. So, we got up every hour, the bell rang and we stopped to breathe, to pause and to remember present moment, wonderful moment. And then, every morning we walked with him on the meditation walk. So, in the beginning it was like, for me, you have to remember I was 19, I was ready to take the horse and take on the world and ride ahead and set with the flaming torch. But he was like, slow, slow down, slow, even slower. And he was also very much about how we relate to each other. So, we practiced in the hall with the monks and the nuns, we practiced together, compassionate relating.

Rick: That’s good.

Nicola: Yeah.

Rick: So, how long did you stay there?

Nicola: It was about half a year or two. Yeah, I just wanted it to go really, I wanted it to go really deep. You’re smiling.

Rick: I’m smiling because I’m enjoying this and I think this is kind of working well, just working, going through chronologically the various things you did, it’s kind of interesting. You didn’t really talk much about the Sai Baba thing, but that’s alright. But it’s sort of interesting how you went through these different phases. And there’s this, I don’t know if you remember that song by the band, or if you even remember the band, they were a group in the US, but they had a song – they’re from Canada actually – they had a song in which one line was, “You take what you need and you leave the rest”. I like that little phrase, but so you were like a bee, kind of going from flower to flower and getting something from this flower and then going on to the next flower.

Nicola: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and I was intrigued, I practiced really intensely. So I just kept like on it. I just used, for me, my whole life, I used – I’m always one who goes to the core, to the essence – and I used the most essential teachings and then practice. And so with Thich Nhat Hanh, I just fell in love with him, you know. It’s just gentleness. He’s so gentle and so simple. He is really simple.

Rick: I’m sorry, say that again because your audio broke up for a second. Just the last thing you said, it wasn’t your fault, it’s just a technical thing.

Nicola: Truth, for me, is really simple.

Rick: Ah, truth is really simple, yeah.

Nicola: Yeah, and for him, it was the gentleness. It wasn’t the… I had to stop my fast track, like the fire horse. The fire horse had to slow down a little bit and feel the ground and feel the nourishment, like the bee drinking the honey.

Rick: Yeah, well, 19 year olds are usually pretty wild and impulsive.

Nicola: I certainly was.

Rick: Yeah, most of us were racing around like crazy at that age.

Nicola: I was ready to build a revolution. That’s where I was. That was a very wild one. But that’s why I was… afterwards I went into the jungle. So if we keep the chronological journey…

Rick: Yeah, let’s keep doing that. That’s working nicely. So, you went from southern France to a jungle.

Nicola: Yes. Well, first I went… I don’t know what came first. One was, yeah, I went into the jungle, into the Amazon, because I wanted to learn from the indigenous people, from a real tribe. And you have to remember, at that time, there was no tour books. There was no guided journeys. I just put myself on a bus and hoped I would get there. And you don’t know if you get there when you’re in Ecuador and you’re going right down those dirt roads.

Rick: Yeah. I don’t know if you’re going to come out alive, actually.

Nicola: I realized that later.

Rick: What were you doing for money all this time? You must have had some savings or some money or something that you’re buying plane tickets with and stuff.

Nicola: No, you know what I did?

Rick: What?

Nicola: I went to… at the same time, so what I did, I went on a journey and then after I came back from Thich Nhat Hanh, I actually enrolled in social work in a master’s degree. And so, we had long breaks. So we had like three months summer break and I think a month or two months winter break. And during the time I studied, I worked as well, every day. And so, any money – my money went of course to food and to my studies – but any money I could save aside of that, I just put in a little box and wrote down, “My next journey”.

Rick: So, you were getting your master’s degree, but somehow or other at the age of

Nicola: No, it was like first the bachelor’s and then I went towards the master’s. So I did it all in one go.

Rick: One thing. Okay.

Nicola: Yeah. In Germany, you could do it because it’s not so divided. You see in America, it’s like bachelor’s, master’s. But in Europe, it’s…

Rick: Kind of combined.

Nicola: It is combined, especially if you’re studying for like, let’s say, social work or engineering, it’s on track with its own ending and you can’t end before that.

Rick: Okay. So you got to Ecuador, I mean, you went to the jungle and obviously, Ayahuasca wasn’t fashionable in those days, but is that what you ended up doing or was it some other kind of work with the indigenous?

Nicola: No. I never was into using these things. No, I wanted it the purest of the pure. I wanted it direct. I didn’t want to have any… I felt like if I can’t access it here and open to it, the rest is just an excursion. That’s just my – and maybe for other people, it will help – for me, it wasn’t an option. I just went to them and I remember I stood at the river, on the bank of a river. They told me, the little villagers, I had learned Spanish, so I asked them how to get to this indigenous tribe. And they said, “Oh, just take that next boat with these guys”. So I’m like, “Okay”. I’ve never been in a jungle. I didn’t have any stuff for preparation that people take with them, no mosquito repellent or whatever. I just didn’t know about it and I didn’t really care that much. As I sat in the boat, I realized, it dawned on me – I’m with two guys in a boat, I don’t know where I’m going and I wonder where I will end up. In that moment, I just prayed, I asked, “Guide me where I need to be. Guide me to the people that will show me something that I need in order to be able to help others later”. You know, there were… they charmed, they tried to charm me and I just made it clear that I’m not available. I made up that I’m married, which I wasn’t, but it helped. I climbed out of the boat and then I walked into incredible thick jungle and I came to this tiny little village. It was like in these… I don’t know how to describe it in English, but these were just made from leaves, the branches, the little huts. And we didn’t understand… we had no language for each other in terms of human language. So I had to learn to speak in sign with hands and my face.

Rick: Because they didn’t even speak Spanish in there, right? They were speaking some indigenous language.

Nicola: Yeah. You know what was amazing? After a while, when I worked with the women and they showed me how they gathered the herbs and they made the food and I helped them, it was the sense of coming into oneness with them and understanding them. It was the heart. All of a sudden I could feel the heart knows that language. And it started opening in me more and more when I began to hear and understand the animals in the jungle and the plants. And so they allowed me to be there and showed me things. At some point the shaman came. They had a village, they had a tribal shaman. And somehow he… I don’t know if he had a death wish on me or if he took a liking to me, I have no idea. But they kind of made it clear, so my stay there was coming to an end and they made it clear that they would like to offer me an initiation. And I thought, “Great! I love that. Of course”. I was so curious the whole time to discover. So he guided me and he said, “Well, it could mean death. It’s either you end up like this, finished, or good”. I was like, “Okay, I have nothing to lose”.

Rick: Except your life.

Nicola: Yeah, well. So I was blindfolded and then they put a really heavy weight onto my shoulders. And he took the blindfold off. And in that moment my heart literally… it felt like it stopped.

Rick: Let me guess. It was a big snake.

Nicola: It was an anaconda.

Rick: Wow. I just guessed that.

Nicola: Yeah, you got the transmission from it.

Rick: Maybe, yeah.

Nicola: Yeah. And this anaconda shot towards me.

Rick: It’s looking at you.

Nicola: Yeah. And I could feel she would… there would be… maybe I had 30 seconds and she would strangle me. So this was the moment of great terror. And I knew that everything I had practiced thus far had to come in now to help me. Because what do you do when you stand in the midst of terror? And this is not just an imagined terror or from a past experience. This is like for real. I just knew one thing. I just… inwardly I said, “Ground down to earth”. I felt… I had to feel my feet. I was shaking like a leaf. I was just… I didn’t like snakes at that time. So she came closer and closer and I just thought, “Breathe, present moment, wonderful moment. Breathe in, breathe out”. I just breathed into my belly. I looked in her eyes and then I let myself feel my heart. I let myself to feel the love in my heart and centered. In that moment it was like by magic. She slowly – she felt it – she slowly came down, slowly, slowly, slowly. When I was completely connected with her and my fear had just vaporized, she just laid on my belly.

Rick: Did you sit down or lie down so she could lie on your belly? Yeah.

Nicola: I sat down with her and started stroking her. I fell in love with that snake.

Rick: That’s pretty amazing.

Nicola: It was so beautiful because I felt like I got an initiation that was to do with the Shakti. It was to do with the feminine. The feminine is the snake and I had been afraid of snakes. And the moment I just connected more and more it was like, “Ah, here we are. We’re one. We’re connected”. Something opened. It was really powerful that opened in me and hasn’t left me ever since.

Rick: Yeah, based on your last sentence, I was going to ask you, “So what did you take away from that experience? What kind of permanent effect do you feel that had on you?” Maybe you could even just elaborate a little bit on that.

Nicola: It opened in me a power and a connection to the earth and a sense of oneness with all creation. There was this, to this day, I can hear the animals speak to me. I can hear the plants. I can center in the moment where there is greatest fear.

Rick: Yeah, interesting. Well, I don’t want to disrupt the chronological story.

Nicola: No, but I appreciate those questions.

Rick: Yeah, well, at some point we’re going to talk about Findhorn. Maybe that’s not the next thing chronologically, huh? Okay, because what you’re saying now relates to that, but let’s keep going on the chronology.

Nicola: So, because it had such a profound impact on me. It was like, with the Tibetans in the mountains, it was illuminating me from here. And in the jungle, it came from below. It was the sense of this darkness, this juiciness, this life force is God, is the Goddess, is… I don’t even like to use this word, I just use it, I just would like to say it’s life force and that for me is holy, that is sacred. And this is where we so often are connected, yeah, disconnected. So she opened, she helped me open that up and after that I felt I wanted to be more in the wilderness.

Rick: Yeah, well, I can see this anaconda thing becoming a popular tourist attraction kind of thing. Could be you got that experience…

Nicola: I would not recommend it, it was really frightening. Well, you know the shamans, if you get an initiation from a shaman, they take you, it’s a life and death one.

Rick: Yeah.

Nicola: True shamanic initiation is truly life and death, you know. And I don’t think many of them, there’s not too many Westerners who like to do that and I understand that. I wouldn’t do it if I had my… I have a kid now. But I felt, for me it opened me up to the feminine in a very deep way, what is sacred in the living.

Rick: And so then you said you went even deeper into the wilderness, into the jungle or something?

Nicola: No.

Rick: Still there or somewhere else?

Nicola: I went to, so I went of course back, worked, studied and then I went back to, in the wild, it was in New Mexico, I went with a horse alone into the wilderness.

Rick: Was it a little weird going back to school in Germany after having these amazing experiences in the jungle and things like that?

Nicola: Believe me, I felt like I was living in three different worlds.

Rick: Just felt like you were from outer space or something.

Nicola: And I couldn’t talk with anybody about it. I couldn’t share this with nobody because people were not, it wasn’t the age where people were sharing those things.

Rick: Yeah, so, “Hey, what did you do on your summer vacation?” “Well, I got ..”.

Nicola: I hung out with Mother Teresa and I went into the Himalayas and yeah, I actually got an initiation with an anaconda snake and I barely survived.

Rick: Cool, I went to the Riviera. Okay, so, you went back to school and all that and had another session of that and…?

Nicola: Well, and I went then to New Mexico. I was looking to find… my dream was to find a horse that I could ride in the wilderness and as a Western woman, this is not a good idea to go to Mexico, to Spain, to any place. I needed wilderness, I wanted a horse. You need to be safe from too much male attention.

Rick: Right, so you went to New Mexico, the US state.

Nicola: I met somebody who had a farm, this was completely by synchronicity again, and he had an Arabian horse farm and I said I would train a horse for him and he said, “I’ll offer you a horse to go out into the wild with and see what it’s like”.

Rick: And at that point you actually knew something about training horses?

Nicola: Yeah, I had been with horses all my life. Yeah, yeah, yeah, horses are part of my companions.

Rick: Yeah. Okay, so you went out into the wilderness of New Mexico with an Arabian horse.

Nicola: And her name was Sar. It was beautiful. We slept under the starlit sky in the total wilderness and just met the elks and the coyote came to my fire. And in that stillness all I was craving for was to be still, to really hear the spirit communing through all of nature. And I knew I had to be alone and I had to be completely connected with nature in order to hear. And then I fasted. I just didn’t eat for two weeks. Just got my water from a stream and rode through the mountains, passes. I didn’t know where I was going. It didn’t really matter. I just kept praying, “Open the gates for me. Open the gates. I’m surrendering. Just please show me”. And it did. I felt like the veils were dropping more and more with every day. And I also had asked for a vision for my life. What is my life’s work? What am I here to do? It wasn’t just to learn from great teachers. I felt I had a calling to contribute to humanity. I didn’t want to just travel around for my own whatever.

Rick: Entertainment.

Nicola: Yeah.

Rick: Right.

Nicola: It was very purposeful. And so what happened was, the more I was still and listened and the more I encountered, like I encountered a wild bear and I could come really close to the bear, and the more I came into harmony with nature, the more I came into my own nature. I just came home more and more. And then, I mean, that just still brings tears to my eyes because it’s so present right now. One day when I was just sitting and meditating, I just heard such a strong voice that just told me what I’m here for.

Rick: And what did it say? Maybe it wasn’t in words, maybe it was more of an intuitive thing.

Nicola: Yeah. It was like, to teach that, to be that. At that time, again, I’m glad I didn’t have a concept, I didn’t have a book that told me those words. It was fresh. It came very strong and powerful. It was, “You are that. And bring this love to the world. Teach that. Live that. Show that. Be that”. And in that moment, I just felt… I mean, there was more.

Rick: You can say more.

Nicola: It’s very personal, you know.

Rick: Yeah, well, you don’t have to, but if you want to, people will find it interesting.

Nicola: It’s very deep. It was very… and it showed me things that would happen in the future that had to do, you know, with the center I created, but that also had to do with the part of my work in the world. And it illumined me. It just illumined my whole being. It was just a light was just pouring out of me and through me. I just felt like everything… I just couldn’t move anymore for hours, sitting there. It was like entering into the beyond and yet being at the same time fully here. Very natural. And the eagles started circling me. All the beings in nature started responding. It wasn’t like I was a separate self anymore. It was, “I’m part of this. I’m one with this”. So from that moment I had many awakenings, but this moment took me to be very clear… it was very clear where my path was to go also in the world because, like I said, I wasn’t satisfied to just awaken in me or to have experiences. I wanted to be of service. This is very important in my life and so I went with my horse. I went back to civilization.

Rick: Before we get back to civilization, did the predictions that that voice give you end up happening, most of them?

Nicola: All of it.

Rick: All of it.

Nicola: It was like a thunder voice. You know, it was in these reddish mountains, the rock… there are the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. I don’t know if you’ve ever been there. It’s not good to go to the mountains.

Rick: Oh yeah, sure.

Nicola: Very beautiful.

Rick: Outside of Santa Fe or someplace?

Nicola: Yeah, just further in, way further in.

Rick: Right, right. Yeah, I’ve camped there and hiked there.

Nicola: You did?

Rick: Uh-huh.

Nicola: It’s very beautiful. And so, the voice was… and I feel like it was my own voice, maybe, my own being or it was… I call it God’s Spirit’s voice speaking through the mountains. It was like thunder. It really shook, shook me.

Rick: Yeah, I was going to ask you a question like that, because I’m always curious about this sort of thing, whether such voices and such inspirations are really just some aspect of our own self, our own being, which ultimately everything is. You can take it to that level and say, “Well, everything is an aspect of yourself”. Or whether there’s just these sort of… I don’t know what you want to call them, just these sort of beings that intercede in human affairs and that help to guide people who are open to guidance and that kind of thing. You know, it’s just, I find it an interesting thing to consider.

Nicola: I think they’re both true, what you just said. Yes, in one way, it’s all our true self reflected in many. At the same time, there’s also that voice, that still small voice, it’s called, yeah, inside of you, the divine in you. And then I feel there’s also, in my experience, there’s also beings that literally come to help. So, for me, it’s both.

Rick: Yeah, I was just talking with a friend yesterday and he was saying that – he’s happier than I’ve ever seen him, I’ve known this guy for 40-something years – and he said he’s done some adventures recently. He went to Spain on a spiritual retreat and then he went to India on a spiritual retreat and got initiated by the Shankaracharya and stuff like that. But he was saying how he sleeps so much less now and every morning he wakes up around four and he more often than not gets these messages. He says, “I know it’s not me, there’s something other than me and I just get these little downloads every day of some knowledge, some inspiration”. So, I found that interesting.

Nicola: I think that happens more and more to people these days. Somehow the veil is thinner, yeah, and people are more open and people are more ready. I’ve gotten all my life, I’m a communicator. I love relating, I love communicating, I love sitting with you right now and relating with you. I am also, I relate, I can hear the saints and the sages speaking to me. I can hear the animals and the creatures and I can also sense very clearly when it’s my own, this is my own essence that’s speaking.

Rick: Yeah.

Nicola: Yeah. And more and more I had to learn to decipher, to really discriminate what is truth and what is just the mind chatter, yeah? The mind can disguise itself as an angel. And in one way it’s also the mind in its essence, even the thoughts in its essence is coming from the life force, is coming from the Shakti. However it can be so distorted, it can create so many delusions. So I had to really step, really into stillness to be able to hear true and center here in my heart.

Rick: Yeah, I’m glad you’re saying that. I mean, there’s so many people, some of whom I’ve interviewed, some of whom I haven’t, who say things like “I’m channeling Saint Germain” or “I’m channeling Mary Magdalene” or “Mother somebody” or “Jesus” or whatever. And I give them the benefit of the doubt. And most of the ones I’ve interviewed who say that sort of thing, I pretty much believe. But I also have run into people whom I wouldn’t invite for an interview. And there was one guy who was trying, who just said he was channeling all these things and he just had so much ego and he just seemed so full of himself. And I just kind of like wonder, I mean, it seems like one can kind of tap into a level of creativity – some people can – and just kind of speak from there and come out with all kinds of information. But is it really from some higher source or is it just one is just being creative, you know, they’re doing a poor imitation of Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings or something with their imagination?

Nicola: I love Harry Potter by the way. I think what you’re bringing up is a very important point because there is so many people who do channeling these days and I have respect for people who are really trying to make sure that they have a pure opening. To me, I don’t practice channeling because I feel, at least in my world here, it’s like I don’t need to channel another being, I just need to be open to the truth from the source directly and then let it live through me or let it speak through me in this moment. And with the channeling, sometimes what I’ve seen is the ego starts taking it and saying, “Well, now I’m really special because I get to channel Mary Magdalene”. And I’m the previous incarnation of her, I know I hear a lot of people who say, “I have been Saint Germain and I have been Mary Magdalene”. Well, there’s a lot of people who have been her apparently.

Rick: And they’re all alive at the same time.

Nicola: Yeah, for me it’s like this is not special. In one way it’s the most natural thing if we can commune, yeah? And for me, if you’re channeling, I would say to those people if I could give one message, be extra careful and don’t put your ego on the altar because you’re worshipping yourself.

Rick: And you may actually be opening up to something other than yourself, but as a friend of mine said, “Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you’re smart”. So who knows what you’re opening up to?

Nicola: There’s a lot of stuff that starts coming in because there’s a lot of beings who want to talk and they can even disguise themselves as the holy ones, you know? So I felt like… For me, the guideline was always this, “See if it’s simple, if it’s true, if it’s pure, root in my body, really feel my body”, because if I’m not in my body, I’m disassociating somehow, and then sense my heart or feel the love and then allow this awareness to completely open wide, completely wide. There’s no… every hold lets go, and then just be still.

Rick: Yeah, that’s good. And perhaps just as a final cautionary note on this whole theme is for those who aren’t jambling but who maybe are attracted to some people who are, use your discrimination, you know? I had a friend I referred to that wanted to be interviewed and I declined. He had this whole little group of people around him who said, “Well, so-and-so said this, and St Germain, it’s actually St Germain speaking, so we should all do it”, you know? And some of the advice was very questionable, to say the least.

Nicola: Yeah, people love, they’re looking for a father or mother. A lot of people do, and a lot of people like to look at, “Oh, there’s somebody higher who knows the way”. And for me, the discrimination where you can just see, is somebody real? Is that person real? Is that person actually approachable as a human being? Does the person have some maturity? Do they – not perfectly – but do they live what they preach? And, it comes down to, I repeat this word maybe too many times, but it comes down to something simple.

Rick: Yeah, let’s see here – somebody asked a question, and it kind of relates to what we’re saying. This just came in from one of the live viewers. So let me just ask you this now. She said, this is Florence from Germantown, New York, she said, “Please discuss your experience with how the enlightened mind informs us. I’m not asking about synchronicity and waiting for signs that are too uncanny and arrive by chance. I’m not asking about intention and attention. I’m asking about that something that engages from a higher state of consciousness where there’s clarity, and knowing without words and analysis, even knowing what you didn’t know that you didn’t know”. I think what she’s saying is… did you get it or do I need to elaborate? You got it? Okay.

Nicola: And what she’s asking too, thank you Florence, by the way. That’s her name?

Rick: Yes, Florence.

Nicola: Yeah, thank you for that beautiful question. What you’re really asking is how to come to be in direct attunement with the source itself.

Rick: Yeah, and I read a previous version of her question, which was a little longer, and I also got the impression she was saying these impulses of intuition and knowledge and guidance that we seem to get, the kind of thing you and I have been talking about for the last few minutes, she kind of wants to know more about that, and how… I think basically kind of what we’ve been addressing. You’ve been talking about clarity and silence as the prerequisite to making sure that you’re not being confused or misguided or indulging in your own imagination.

Nicola: Yeah, it’s also… What I want to address is that if you don’t pay attention to the shadow aspects of your own self, they will interfere. But if you allow what she expressed, the enlightened mind, and I call it also the enlightened heart and the enlightened body, to allow it to completely be open to that what is, let’s put it in the words of that what is infinite, that what is internal, but that what is also, it’s pulsating in every cell of yours right now. You can feel it in your smile, Rick, right? It’s right now present between us, and you can sense it because you’re opening yourself to it. And in that moment we’re dropping into the silent communion with each other. But it’s also what Florence asked is, this is the place when you’re the most… you drop open, the awareness is expanding, the mind is still, and you enter the heart that’s blossoming, there’s love. And in that moment the source communes, it’s not as a separate thing, it just is communing right now with us. You can feel how the energy starts shifting right now with us.

Rick: Yeah, and I would suggest that it’s good to find a means, whatever works for you, to culture that unbounded awareness, if you want to call it that, so that it’s not something you just want to try to tap into occasionally, but something that becomes the bedrock of your life.

Nicola: Thank you.

Rick: Whether you’re sitting in meditation or driving in a traffic, intense traffic, that’s there as the background or even the foreground of your experience.

Nicola: I would say all my spiritual practice has led to this, that I can do this in this moment with you, or can drop in easily. It is actually where I would say, you do need spiritual practice, and at some point all those practices, all these techniques fall away, but until then it’s good to practice to… you know, this is where meditation practice comes in handy.

Rick: Yeah, that’s what Amma says, since we spoke about Amma, she says if you’re crossing a river in a boat, there will come a time when you’re going to get to the other shore and you’ll want to get out of the boat, but don’t do that in the middle of the river.

Nicola: No, exactly, and that’s where it’s good you have your oars. You practice awareness and you practice the lovingness. One oar is the awareness, one oar is the lovingness, and you practice being loving to others and caring, but also being mindful of what you’re doing and what’s happening, and at some point the oars drop away, you step out of the boat. And that’s how I always have seen how a true communion is actually strengthened, what can ever happen. Before the vessel isn’t open, we do have a personality, we do have a mind, if that isn’t aligned, your connection is going to get wacky.

Rick: Yeah, I read some place on your website, you say, “Well, I don’t consider myself enlightened”. And I don’t know if I consider anybody enlightened, if we understand that term to mean some kind of ultimate final realization beyond which there’s no possibility of any further growth or development. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anybody who would claim that, even possibly Amma. So maybe there’s always going to be some kind of boat.

Nicola: I feel… in my experience at least I have these, I have immense illuminations. I mean, they just beyond, they come out of a storybook, the kind of experiences I’ve had throughout my life. And yet there was always a phase where the personality came in and old stuff came up and I had to deal with it in order to integrate it. And I thought at some, that was the time where it was really naive. I said, “That’s it. It’s it. It’s done. It’s really done”.

Rick: At least you hope so.

Nicola: I think the mind wants to be done with it. I want to package it up and put it in a box and then I did that. But it doesn’t work that way. My experience is more, the more I open into that stream of grace and the more I allow my being to take hold of me, it does bring up, it stretches up old stuff. It brings up things that from way back, whatever lifetime, it doesn’t matter. It wants to, I almost feel like this love wants to bring everything home. So and the bigger the opening, the bigger the illumination, the more there is space to bring even more home.

Rick: Yeah, the bigger the bucket or the container, the more mud you can dissolve in it, if it’s water. If it’s an ocean, you can throw a lot in, but even that theory is being tested these days, the junk we’re throwing in the ocean.

Nicola: Well, yeah, that’s in question, I would say. And I just feel that when we open deeper and surrender at the same time, it’s this fine dance that you can’t, it’s building that clarity, opening to that clarity and that stillness and that at the same time, then also to surrender. So for me, it’s like, with Amma, for example, there’s a lot of devotion, which I really appreciate, and yet sometimes I feel there’s the element missing of the awareness. So for me it needs both, the devotion and then the… it’s almost like a non-attachment to anything, that stillness.

Rick: Do you remember Peace Pilgrim? You know who Peace Pilgrim was?

Nicola: Yes.

Rick: Yeah, I encourage people to look her up, and there’s this little book called Peace Pilgrim, you can read about her life. But she was this woman who just basically walked around the United States for years with nothing but a pair of sneakers and clothes on her body, and no money, no food, everything was just… and she just threw herself on the mercy of the Divine to take care of all of her needs, and it worked out for her. But the reason I brought her up is that she has in her book this little chart that she drew about how at a certain stage you’re kind of making progress, but it’s by virtue of individual effort, there’s individual effort involved. She said you reach a certain junction point where the individual just really surrenders, and at that point your progress really accelerates, but it’s really because you’ve reached a point at which you can be out of the way and just let nature take care of it for you.

Nicola: Yeah, yeah. It’s the 100% effort and then the 100% surrender. You have to walk up the mountain, and in order to fly you jump off the mountain. The fear is initially that it will not carry you. The air, the wind won’t carry you, but the Divine force is carrying us all the time. It’s just the mind gotten stuck a little bit.

Rick: Yeah. Well, it sounds like in your life you definitely did the effort phase with…

Nicola: I’m German, sir.

Rick: Oh, yeah, that’s right. Germans are hard workers.

Nicola: I know, they’re just good to have a little bit Italian fun.

Rick: Yeah, yeah, good mixture. So we kind of left you leaving the jungle and going back to school and let’s get back to the chronology here. What next?

Nicola: Oh, I told the wilderness journey, the vision quest.

Rick: Oh, yes, the horse, right, with the Arabian horse in the wilderness and that was a very profound and significant one. But at a certain point you came back to civilization.

Nicola: Yeah, and then I just knew that I had to, I just had to get the skills in order to contribute to the environment. I was very passionate about ecology and still am, social justice. I feel my end to… really I saw so much suffering in people. I just saw it in their eyes right away. Saw it in their heart. And somehow my sight opened at the same time and I could feel, not just my own, but also other people, the suffering. So I dug in and just… so okay, find skillful means to help relieve suffering in this world and bring happiness.

Rick: So what did you do, pursue more education or what?

Nicola: Yeah, I felt like I needed, for me I’m very much into whole, yeah. It’s like spirituality has always been my number one, but I felt you need skills in order to communicate, right, with each other. You need skills how to deal with your shadow material, yeah, and you need skills to, you know, lead people. How to, you need to know how to grow a vegetable garden. I can stand there and be in my illumined self that’s just being, yeah, I was being and being, but I’m not going to grow a vegetable garden unless I learn how to put the plants in and water them.

Rick: Yeah, well, good point. I wouldn’t want the Dalai Lama to do brain surgery on me or something. He doesn’t have the skills, you know.

Nicola: Exactly, exactly. Yeah, so and I felt my path has been very much about embodiment, like living it with, I did a lot of social action service and a lot of environmental service as well. So that’s what I did and I went to Findhorn.

Rick: You may have noticed I interviewed David Spangler a few months ago. Was David there at that time?

Nicola: He was briefly and he already had left. So it was only Eileen Caddy was the main person. She was there.

Rick: And so what did you do at Findhorn? You were there for seven years it says.

Nicola: Yeah, I was working there as an educator and worked, basically gave me the training to work with lots of different people from all different countries. It was an excellent training. It was really hard work. Living in community was not the easiest. It’s like a washing machine. You just get tumbled and tumbled and you wonder when is the pause button being pushed? Where is the stop button? So it was a good training and I was also, I gave birth there with my daughter and I just felt after seven years I felt like it’s time to move on and create what wants to be created from that vision that I had gotten.

Rick: Yeah. Would you say that that vision that you had out in New Mexico when you’re out there fasting and with the horse, if there was one kind of watershed moment in your life where it was a big shift, big turning point, was that it?

Nicola: One of them. I had after that many. I had so many it was like it just kept going. Yeah. That was one of them and yeah, that was clear.

Rick: Feel free to tell us some more as we go along here if there’s some significant ones you want to talk about.

Nicola: Okay. There’s probably two more major ones that I can speak of. So we’re fast-forwarding a little bit because then I was in California already and I created a spiritual educational center for families, for couples, for women and leaders and just taught and we had this amazing permaculture garden and temples and it was very beautiful. It was like a model of how you can live in a holistic way on this earth together. But in that time I had several things happened. I mean maybe I should share. So something happened that was really really hard in my life and it had to do with this beautiful center that I had built up at that time I was married and my ex-husband, I could feel that he was going off the deep end by being involved with the stock market. So we had a non-profit organization and it was going really big and beautiful but he did things that were for me out of alignment and not in integrity and it put our center at risk. It put it… one day I found out he had basically made enormous debt and we had nothing to eat anymore. So this is when I went to the mountain because I was shaken to the core. It was like I put in everything. I put my heart in. I put my life in. I thought we were going the right direction and here the rug was being pulled under me. Why? Yeah. And I just, I went actually to Mount Shasta. I spent, again, this is what I do when I really want to commune in a deep way and really open. It was like, I just said, “You’re ripping everything away. I’ve done what I meant to do. What now? What’s going on?” So after I went through the phase of grieving and shaking and the fear of what’s going to happen, day again I entered this, I just opened into this deep silence and in that moment I just said, “Okay, I just surrender my entire life”. I just surrender even deeper. There’s nothing else I could do. Because it hurts so bad to lose what you built up with so much love and labor. And I had already at that time, I had a daughter and she was so, and the news I had gotten on the center and my ex-husband were so bad. I mean, I’m just skimming the surface right now on it. So it was like, “Okay, if you want me to let go of this too”, I just felt I’m being stripped and from there on it felt like I’ve been stripped. Everything was going, like my center was going, my money was going, my car got smashed by a truck. I mean, it went… I mean, it went extreme.

Rick: Your marriage, it sounds like your marriage was going at that point.

Nicola: The marriage was going. I divorced him and everything went. Like it had blossomed and then it was like the mandala the Tibetans build with so much care and then they blow and it’s all gone. It’s easy to do when you have a sand mandala, but when it’s your life and it’s your entire life it hit me hard. I mean, it was, so I just, I just like I watched it how it went. I mean, it was like work, everything. It was, and after three months I was stripped bare. So this is when I went to the mountain and I just said, “Okay, what do you want?” And it was, “What do you want?” was not asking just God, it was asking my being, who I am. And I was finished. I laid on the ground on the mountain and I said, “I don’t want anymore. I’m done. I just pack up. Get me out of here”. And I remember that moment where I just allowed myself to surrender even deeper and it was unbelievable what happened then. It was just, again, it was the sense of the gates just opened and there was a grace that poured through. I just wept. I just wept. It just wrote, I literally lifted me up from the ground. I stood up and I just stood there and it was like illuminating everything and I just heard, “For this you are born”. And I just stood in that for the longest time and I just felt its grace. There’s no words that can capture that and yet it felt not out of this world. It felt so, the most natural thing that could, I felt, “Where have I been before?” And then people started lining up and asking for blessings out of the blue.

Rick: So, when it said, “For this you are born”, what it meant, what that realization was this inner experience you were having at that moment, you were born to have this awakening, this realization – is that what you meant by that?

Nicola: I think it meant more like, “For this you are born, for this you live this. This is who you are. Live this.

Rick: This.

Nicola: This light.

Rick: This light, right.

Nicola: This love.

Rick: Okay.

Nicola: This love that was pouring through.

Rick: So, it wasn’t so much that you were born to do this project or that project. It was more to just live this light.

Nicola: Live this, yes. Wherever you go, live it unabashed, radical, soft, tender, fierce, doesn’t matter. Be true to this.

Rick: So… Go ahead.

Nicola: Yeah. My German… yeah, go ahead.

Rick: Well, I was just going to say, so people started lining up for blessings and what did that mean exactly? How were you offering blessings?

Nicola: People came, I didn’t know what I would do. This wasn’t planned. This felt so natural. One person I just touched on their heart or on their forehead, another person I said the right words and they burst into tears. Some people had major openings in their heart, some people felt sweetness, some people I just offered a word. It was like, “Oh, this is easy. This is easy. This is how it’s supposed to be”. In some ways, it feels like to the mind, it feels like this grand miracle. But really, in the heart of heart, it felt so, “This is natural”. It’s just as simple. And so, I just could feel, “Okay, you need to keep allowing this. Just allow it”.

Rick: That’s great. And I could ask you when this was without revealing how old you are. Where are we at now in terms of…?

Nicola: That’s about seven years later, I think. Six years later. Five years later, yeah.

Rick: Later than what?

Nicola: When that happened on the mountain.

Rick: Oh, okay. So we’re talking about this happened ten years ago, twenty years ago?

Nicola: That happened ten years ago.

Rick: Ten years ago. Okay, good. So, 2006 or something.

Nicola: Approximately. Eight years or so.

Rick: And these days, it seems like you’re doing a lot of different things. I mean, if I look through your website, there are so many different types of things that you do with people or for people. Anybody can go to your website and look at all this stuff, but relationship counseling, feminine wisdom and leadership, and all kinds of courses on mindful parenting and the heart of relating, and all kinds of things. You can enumerate some of them. So somehow or other you took this experience of the light and again channeled it into service in the world, concrete service, not just you weren’t content to have it be a lovely subjective experience.

Nicola: Yeah, I always have many pots on the stove. I always try to be just teaching satsangs or just to teach on a particular subject – I can’t. It’s like the jungle. I’m a plant of many flowers and at the same time, the main thing is that it comes from the source directly. So the outlet for me is like I can see how – sorry about that, there’s something in the way – I see in the world that a lot of problems are happening in relating.

Rick: Between people.

Nicola: Between people, so that we can have all this awakening, but we still don’t relate with each other.

Rick: Yeah, not only at an individual level, but I mean, the Congress can’t talk to each other, the factions there and the whole millions of people in the population who align themselves with one or the other of those factions can’t talk to each other, sometimes within the same family. So there’s definitely a sort of a gulf or a rift that probably could need healing.

Nicola: Yeah, so I work in that field, like unconscious relating. Like teaching people the skills, but also helping them to really connect with each other. Because I feel it’s needed. We need this on this planet right now. Because if we can’t figure out how to go forward together, this is not going to last long here on our planet to be able for us to live on. So that’s one thing. And then I love working with leaders and with women leaders because I just feel that deep connectedness to life where I’m not working on a transcendent level, but more on like the imminent. Okay, this life is sacred. How can we as leaders bring this into the forefront? And not just with some woo-woo talk, but really concretely. Now how can we actually lead the people in a way in the right direction that is empowering, that is collaborative, that is honoring the life force in each? So how can we bring this very very spiritual level down to the ground, like really? And then make an impact. You know, we’ve walked, I helped organize a march to go against, to end sex trafficking for young girls in Oakland just recently. And I just feel that’s where it needs to go into our actions. And for everybody that’s different – what area – but for me, this is the darkest pit, the sex trafficking with girls. So this is where I bring my love in and my light in. And sometimes it takes a bit of a nerve to do that because these areas are not pretty. But how do we bring home everything? Each other, when we sit with each other, when we relate, whether it’s in a couple or in a big congress, across nations, how do we actually find the bridge to peace with each other? And then create what we need in this world. So for me, it’s like bringing it really down into form.

Rick: A question came in which relates to what you were just saying. This is from Mark Peters in Santa Clara, California. He asks, “How do you relate to the rise in global threats like climate change, fierce nationalism, nuclear proliferation, etc.? Have your awakenings allowed you any deep insights about this?” And I just want to add a little bit to his question before you respond. That is that I’ve always felt that… Oh, Irene says, just let you respond. Okay, you go ahead and respond. I’ll add later.

Nicola: I love hearing you too, Rick. Well, I saw this a long time ago. It was again when I was 18. I saw what was happening in the world and where it might go. There was still ways that it could shift and do differently. But we are in this time where everything comes to the edge. Like it’s everything. Humanity either wakes up now and takes the wheel through your essence and just turns the ship or we…

Rick: Or the ship goes down, hits the iceberg or something.

Nicola: Well, we are kind of like on a Titanic, yeah? We already hit the iceberg. But the part that is… This is for me, it’s the greatest challenge at this moment in time. I know I’m born for that time. And many many many people are. And it is an incredible opportunity right now. Because we, in my experience, with the power and the genius and intelligence that’s available when we really connect it to the source, it’s unprecedented what we can do.

Rick: I forget what it is. Maybe you know this. I heard some place that the roots of the word “crisis” are related to the word “opportunity”. You know that saying? Somehow crisis is opportunity or offers opportunity.

Nicola: Yes, I think it offers a tremendous opportunity. And it’s also, there’s a saying that in the deepest, darkest crisis, it’s when the feminine will rise. You know, and in the non-dual wisdom there is no feminine musculine and yet there is the feminine force of creation. And she always came in, in the old ancient stories like with Durga or Tara. She always comes, Kali, she comes in the time of the greatest challenge when humanity doesn’t know where to go and what to do anymore because it has run against this, has run itself into the ground. So, I can sense, and this is what I’m dedicated to in my work, is to bring even more, to help the feminine to come forth even more, not just as the woman but in the man too, that deep power of life.

Rick: Having said that just now, what do you feel about the fact that the man who sort of bragged about molesting women got elected even by a majority of women voters? What does that tell us?

Nicola: Well, it tells us where part of the consciousness is on the planet, I think very clearly. Part of humanity is still in another age and consciousness stuck. And I think that for me at least, it doesn’t mean feminine, just saying, it doesn’t mean woman necessarily, the feminine forces in you as well as in me. However the guy who got… I call him the one who should not be named. I love Harry Potter. Well, we have a complete insane person and from a more awake perspective, you look at this person as either, this one is bringing suffering to the planet, there is no question, and that is sad. However, at the same time, there’s a tremendous opportunity because he’s doing so many bad things that he’s waking literally people up. So and it’s in the outrage where you find your love where people starting to take, they even – the people who usually go to sleep on politics – even they are getting on and starting to wake up and saying, okay, we’ve got to do something. On one level, on a very non-dual level, there’s nothing happening. But you know what? Even planet Earth, and I think we have incarnated for a reason, where it is much more challenging to say, yes, I have this illumination and now I’m going to bring it into action in this world as it is. And this means, who should not be named, that’s the time where people need to rise up and stand up.

Rick: Yeah, I like this thing you just said about on the non-dual level, nothing is happening. But obviously, this point often comes up in these interviews, which is that if you’re a living being, then that’s not the only level on which you reside. It’s one dimension, it’s perhaps the most fundamental dimension, and there’s another dimension in which things are happening but everything is perfect just as it is, but then there’s another dimension in which things are happening and they aren’t perfect and we need to fix them. And so, none of those three levels kind of negate or obviate the others.

Nicola: Yeah, I appreciate that you bring that in, because that’s why I feel the spiritual scene as I call it has gotten a little stuck in the field of “nothing is happening, everything is perfect as it happens”. And sometimes I perceive it is used as an escape from being involved and engaged. I mean, you have your awakening now, now put your hands to work, put your feet in, put your heart in, love until it’s like love to the end, no matter what.

Rick: I think a lot of people got kind of tired of the “nothing is happening, everything is perfect” thing, you know. And it’s like a lot more people started talking about embodiment and that sort of theme and just what you’re saying, let’s bring this into some kind of practical application.

Nicola: Yeah, and I think who should not be named is as disastrous, in my opinion, he is, at the same time he is such a blessing because he is just like, okay, he is just pushing it, he is making it so bad that he pushes on everybody. He’s bullying everybody in the schoolroom, right? And he’s pushing, you can take it as an opportunity to say, okay, what is true here for me, can I actually bring myself to do some action in a way that honors and really loves life?

Rick: Yeah, the thing I was going to add to Mark Peter’s question was just that all these problems, climate change and nuclear proliferation, all the things happening in the world, I’ve always seen that kind of thing as symptomatic of something deeper, and it’s not just deeper in the sense of economic or decisions being made by politicians or anything like that. Those things are reflective of the collective consciousness, which means your consciousness, my consciousness, every seven billion people, the quality of their consciousness taken collectively sort of expresses itself in a certain quality of society and quality of life and quality of economics and politics and climate and all that stuff. And so, there’s an interesting consideration, which is, I mean, back in the late 60s, early and so on was superficial, we should just really change our consciousness, and then the people who were engaged in protest and so on thought the meditators were lazy and just sitting on their butts and going into withdrawal. And I think there’s been a sort of emerging now where people feel like you can have both and you need both, and one without the other is incomplete.

Nicola: That’s exactly… yeah, thank you for bringing that up. It’s like the two wings of the bird to fly. You need your connection, you need to be able to be in the peace and in the deep centeredness and connectedness and then you need to act because we are making an impact in the world whether… Yeah, so meditation doesn’t become a bailout, but also action doesn’t come from a disconnected frantic like save the world, hell. It’s more letting, I call it letting your true nature live through you and impacting the world.

Rick: Yeah, I guess one way of looking at it is we can think of ourselves as conduits, which is, I could use the word channel, so I don’t mean to associate that with channeling that we were talking about earlier, but I mean don’t you kind of feel like you dip into this source of divine wisdom and then it’s like a sponge that has soaked something up and you can now go and squeeze it and water some, nourish something that needs that nourishment. It kind of comes through you in waves of… yeah.

Nicola: Yeah, it’s like I see it often as I see the waterfall of grace. It floods through me, it fills every cell, it nurtures and then it just, I’ll pour it out further. It’s another waterfall flowing down to feed the people, to feed the land.

Rick: I mean, how else does the divine get expressed into the world if not through the various forms of life that it has created, you know? So we can be very powerful conduits for various influences and it’s good to be on the team of the good guys.

Nicola: We certainly are in a fierce battle right now. But I feel it has to come, it comes from a deep love, yeah, for recognizing people, the plants, the animals, all life. This is one life but it’s not a concept, it’s deeply felt and experienced and therefore I love, it loves itself. In moments when, just when I’m really wide open I can experience the whole universe loving itself. All the plants, all the creatures, it may sound funny to you but it’s making love unto itself. It’s in a grand dance of an incredible love affair. And that love when it can be expressed even in the most simplest form as me looking into your eyes or us relating in a loving way, it has an outlet and it can, it’s starting to circle, it’s a movement and in that movement everything is included. There is nothing left out. There is not the Muslim left out and there’s not the… even your darkest shame and anger all gets to be included in that love. I mean that’s not a concept, that’s for me a direct experience and in that, when that started opening up in me I was like, “Oh my God, the whole earth is making love to itself”. It’s in this exquisite, profound, sacred lovemaking all the time.

Rick: Yeah, someone used to say that the whole creation is just the self-interacting dynamics of consciousness, sort of there’s nothing but that interacting with itself and through that interaction giving rise to the appearance of all these forms and phenomena.

Nicola: Yeah, and it’s also extremely vulnerable and intimate.

Rick: Vulnerable and intimate, yeah.

Nicola: Very, I include the humanity, our bare humanity is included in that and sometimes that consciousness, spiritual talk is so removed from, “Ah, this is the consciousness and here’s your humanity”, yeah, but this vessel, this humanity, this utter vulnerability and intimacy is it.

Rick: Yeah, I mean if it’s true and it is that it’s all consciousness and we are one person ultimately that appears, one ocean that appears as separate waves and so on, then everything that is taking place in the world is taking place within us. And the fact that some, what, I don’t know, how many million people are in prison in the United States, a larger percentage per capita than any nation in the world by far, and that there’s things like that came out of the news, Amnesty International just revealed that there’s this prison in Damascus where 13,000 people have been hanged in recent years and all these people are being tortured and all that stuff. I mean, that kind of thing, we may not be aware of it, it might be kind of out of sight, out of mind that all these people are stuck in those situations, but it’s very much part of our own personal consciousness. It’s happening within me and within you and within all of us and it’s like a malignant cancer that we’re not aware of yet or something, but it’s still doing its thing and it may be spreading and we’re not going to really be healthy until that malignancy has been cured.

Nicola: That’s beautifully said. That’s where I resonate with, because I experience this in my body. When you say those things, I feel it in my whole being, because I’m connected and then people ask me, “How will you not drown in it?” Yeah, and there’s all this suffering, because we are in a sea of suffering, that’s what the Buddha said. However, it’s like, this is where the Bodhisattva vow comes in. I will walk awake, I will let that love lift me even till the last has come home.

Rick: Yeah.

Nicola: And not turn a blind eye to what is here.

Rick: Yeah. I remember when I was a fairly new meditator, I had a girlfriend that was going off into heroin addiction and I was really upset about it and stuff, and I spoke to my meditation teacher and she said, “Be an ocean”. And I don’t know if that was totally practical advice in terms of helping my girlfriend. I’ve heard that she’s in a psychiatric hospital to this day, but somehow that “be an ocean” phrase always stuck with me, in terms of having this sort of oceanic capacity to not absorb, but to dissolve anything that comes into our awareness and to not be polluted by it, but to be able to dissolve it and continue to be an ocean.

Nicola: Well, and I’m sorry about your girlfriend.

Rick: Yeah.

Nicola: It must have been painful.

Rick: Yeah, I remember I was in an encounter group at the time and I told them about what was going on and I just broke down and sobbed for about 15 minutes. People were hugging me and I was sobbing and I finally kind of sobered up, but it was a painful thing, because I really wanted her to live a happy life and I could see that the direction she was going, it wasn’t going to work out that way, but mine was going in a different direction and I had to keep going.

Nicola: Yeah, you were parting ways in the ocean.

Rick: Yeah.

Nicola: Yeah, and that’s… you allowed your heart to break with it.

Rick: Yeah, I did. And it doesn’t happen that often, I’m not the type that just sort of cries easily, but about every 10 years something really moves me.

Nicola: That’s funny. I cry every day.

Rick: I have a friend who does that. I guess I won’t mention his name because he told me that privately, but he’s a spiritual teacher whom I’ve interviewed and a very sweet guy and he just says he pretty much cries every day when he watches the news or many, many other things, and he’s not like some moody, mushy kind of guy, he’s very clear, very strong, but he just feels things so deeply and yet he has the capacity to feel them and not be thrown off-kilter by that.

Nicola: Yeah, I do that too. Things touch me very deeply. I cry very easily, I laugh very easily, and when I hear of suffering it hits me very deeply, at the same time I let it move, I let it move. It’s like let the ocean wash it, let the ocean tears wash it through, because if my heart cannot be open I have nothing to give really. And it allows me to take some courage to be vulnerable, but I think you can bring that vulnerability together with the deep rootedness of being one in the ocean that all washes through and at the same time you’re so deeply touched by everything.

Rick: Yeah, this brings up an interesting question actually and that is, can such openness and vulnerability be actually intentionally cultured or is it more that some people are wired that way and some people aren’t?

Nicola: So, in my experience in working with people and then for my own self too, you can cultivate that. Some people are naturally wired more into that area, but you can definitely cultivate it. It just takes a bit of courage and it takes some skillful means to be able to open it and to allow it to, but you definitely can, no question.

Rick: Yeah, and another question related to that is, if a person doesn’t have the inner strength maybe not being so open is a useful protective mechanism because they’re just going to really be overwhelmed by things, so you need to have a certain foundation, right?

Nicola: You do. You need, you have to have a fairly solid foundation, not perfect, but you have to have a foundation that’s grounded more spiritually, but also you’ve got to have a bit of a healthy ego in place too, like in order to let it melt, yeah?

Rick: Yeah, no, that’s an interesting point too. I mean, so many things we can talk about, but some people say, “Well, get rid of your ego, destroy your ego”, but there are definitely certain spiritual traditions say, “Yeah, that may come at some point”, but first you have to build it up and make sure it’s really a healthy one before you can talk about going beyond it.

Nicola: Yeah, and for vulnerability, my sense is in order to be able to be really vulnerable you have to develop a capacity to be fully present, to be really present, and to also be rooted in your body, otherwise you walk around in the street, “Oh my God, this is so intense”. You’ve seen people, yeah.

Rick: Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen people that, “I can’t go into Walmart, it’ll overwhelm me”.

Nicola: That’s right, yeah, and that’s where, yeah, for me it’s like I have this, I see it as the lotus flower, yeah, the open heart is the lotus flower, but it has its roots really deep in the earth, in the mud, and then when you really saw it and I call it, really ground it here in that what is life-sustaining, that holds me, that gives me enormous strength. I feel like I’m a tree and I walk into Walmart, I still feel open. I actually don’t walk into Walmart.

Rick: You use one of those little motorized carts, right?

Nicola: I don’t like that store because it sells on switch.

Rick: Yeah, I know what you mean, all that stuff from China and everything, but that’s just a case in point.

Nicola: But yeah, that’s a good question because that’s what’s feared so much, but I feel the vulnerability is actually your entrance to your true nature.

Rick: Coming back to the “how” of it, would you kind of say that, and some people actually criticize me for being such a proponent of practice because I myself am a practicer, and they say, but do you feel like there is, on this point we’re making about being strong enough to be open, strong enough to be vulnerable, that it’s not just going to hit you on the head one of these days, it’s more like some kind of regular practice of some sort on a daily basis is going to help to culture it?

Nicola: Yes, yes, it does help to culture it when you sit every day and you actually practice meditation, you practice and that’s rootedness, not a transcendent meditation, I wouldn’t say that will help you.

Rick: Wouldn’t say that will?

Nicola: Not transcendence meditation, that doesn’t help for that. you need to have a practice that helps you to be in your body, that helps you to, allows you to be there with all your feelings that are arising and feel them without getting completely entangled in the story. You need to be able to let that awareness expand in you and be present really. These are tools actually.

Rick: I’d say there’s also a time for transcendence, I mean, kind of there’s a time to dip the bucket into the well and there’s a time to pull it out and use the water.

Nicola: Well said.

Rick: Or there’s other analogies you could use too, but there’s a time to take the cloth and dip it into the colored dye and there’s a time to bleach it in the sun.

Nicola: I think that’s absolutely right.

Rick: But I hear you in terms of transcendence being used as a sort of an escape and you try to just take continual refuge there without integration, that’s not healthy.

Nicola: Yeah, and that vulnerability is so often feared the most because we’ve gotten hurt there early on and the imprint is if I’m open I will be hurt. It’s a very simple story and the mind goes on survival plane and says, “I will never go there. I will never have that happen again”. And if you start cultivating you are much more centered in yourself then you can actually be vulnerable, allow yourself to be open and let the error move through you. You will feel pain but you will not suffer. And that’s something to learn where you’re not holding on to that error that just hit you. Somebody said something not nice to you when you walk or somebody betrayed you or left you. For me, when I had my own experiences of betrayals, I was like, “How can I keep my heart open even with that?” It seemed insane. My mind said, “Close down. What are you… how are you doing?” There was this deeper commitment in me, “Even with this I shall stay open”.

Rick: Yeah, I mean that example of when your husband at the time squandered all the money of the organization in the stock market and the whole thing collapsed, your response was to go and get as open as possible up on Mount Shasta.

Nicola: That took all my deepest commitment. If I didn’t have that deep vow to truth or to love, I would never be able to do that. And for me that enabled me to say, “Okay, open up even to this and even wider”. What I found, though, Rick, was the beauty of it was, it was excruciating painful but once I let myself open through it, there was only more love that I found. That was the beauty of it. So the pain didn’t become so frightening anymore to me.

Rick: Well, geez, I mean you’d face down an anaconda. After that everything is a piece of cake.

Nicola: Yeah, yeah, well, and a lot of trails and heartaches and pains left and right and I was like, “The path is full of sorts. When does this end?” And I just realized it didn’t end, it had to do with me turning towards it and fully, fully open to it. And in that moment I just felt, “Okay, I can feel all the pain and it doesn’t knock me out anymore. It doesn’t do anything other than I open even to greater love”.

Rick: Yeah, kind of like welcome to life on earth.

Nicola: Yep.

Rick: There’s always going to be stuff like this.

Nicola: Let the party begin.

Rick: Yeah. So before we wrap up and talk about what your current teaching, activity, and all that stuff is, is there anything else along the lines of your life story that you want to comment on or mention?

Nicola: Well, I think there’s only, I think to say that when the stripping happened in my life, it was, there was, in my mind was, “This is wrong. This is not supposed to happen”. But I would say it might be just for many people, it just might be, this is part of the awakening process, that there’s a stripping. And for me it went as far as stripping me of… I was deeply involved with the many different spiritual traditions. It stripped, I couldn’t go to one more Sufi dance. I couldn’t do, I couldn’t do nothing of this anymore, Rick. I have to, I was completely thrown into myself on my own. I didn’t, and I couldn’t even read one more spiritual book. I had to let go of all of it and nothing of it made sense no more. And it was that feeling of, okay, even the concepts, even the traditions, even the forms, everything is taken. What is left when the fire is burned? And that’s when I just came to this, it’s just a love, just that beautiful love that’s there.

Rick: Nice. And do you still feel that way? Like you just feel like you don’t need to go to anything or want to go to anything, you’re just content in the love that’s there?

Nicola: Yeah, there was in and out of residing in it and then leaving it, just like this dance, “Where’s hope? I just had it. It was gone”. It’s like, “Where did it go? Where’s this love?” So, I had to do this many times and sometimes it goes still in and out, but it’s so much nearer, so much dearer.

Rick: Yeah, I think every experience is that. Things come and go and in the coming and going they get more and more kind of stabilized.

Nicola: That’s it, exactly. Yeah.

Rick: Yeah. Alrighty. So, you wrote a book, “Nothing But Love”, it’s a nice poetry, very Rumi-like, and you’re working on a couple of other books which aren’t published yet, right, but they will be. And then you live out there in Berkeley, so people obviously are watching this interview from all over the world. What can they do if they want to connect with you? How can you work with them?

Nicola: So, what I do is I teach spiritual retreats in different places, and some of them where I’m invited to. I’ve done that for about 30 years now, 25 years. I teach also leadership and relating trainings, more on a conscious level how to do it. And so, they can actually see it on my website, on the events, what’s coming up, and if people want me to come to the area, they can just contact me. And then I work with individuals and couples on Skype and in person here in the Bay Area mainly. So yeah, and my books, one of them is called “Kissed by Fire”, and the other one is called “Communion with Nature – Stories from the Wild”.

Rick: When will those be published?

Nicola: Probably by the end of the year.

Rick: Okay, great.

Nicola: Yeah, so I will let them know. And I do satsangs at the moment. I do it much more online. So I have a committed group, and then people can join to it as well.

Rick: Good, and you probably have an email sign-up thing on your website, so if people want to be notified of when your book is published or whatever, they can do that.

Nicola: Yeah, yeah. Oh, they can just sign up. I don’t write too many newsletters. I don’t want to inundate people.

Rick: Yeah, once in a while.

Nicola: Once in a while, and they can just sign up. And we also do some sacred activism work here. I’m one of the leaders in the field there.

Rick: Cool. Great. Well, I really enjoyed this. I think people watching will have enjoyed it also. Any kind of final words you want to say before we conclude?

Nicola: Well, what I want to say is that to keep returning to your own being. I know these are old words, but keep feeling. Feel what’s in your heart here and follow that. And I don’t mean that in a cliché way. I mean that in a really deep way. Just keep coming back to it and let others touch you. Let touch others. We really need it in this time. Just stand up and speak out. Light that fire wherever you go.

Rick: Great. Well, thank you. So I’ve been speaking with Nicola Amadora and as always I’ll have a page on for this interview and with a bunch of information about her and links to her website and her book and later on, like later in the year when you publish your other books, let me know and I can add links to those on your page. And as most of you know who are watching this, this is an ongoing series. Next week I’ll be speaking with a gentleman named Duane Elgin whom I find very interesting and we schedule several months in advance. There’s an upcoming interviews page on BatGap where you can see the people we have scheduled and hope to be doing this for many years to come. There’s another page on BatGap you might want to check out which is just called “At a Glance” and if you just go there you’ll see a list of all the main features on the site, things you can sign up for or do or read or whatever. So do that if you like. And I guess that’s it.

Nicola: Rick, I wanted to say thank you to you. My message was more for the people who are watching it, but to you I want to say thank you. You are doing such a beautiful job, beautiful work that you are making available and it will, like I mentioned in the email, it will help many people to find their way in this jungle.

Rick: Yeah, well I really enjoy it and it’s not like some big sacrifice or anything. It’s like I do this for all my life. I really love doing this. In fact I got an email from a guy the other day who had been some kind of a psychotherapist or something in Chicago and he said as a result of Batgap he sold his practice which was this away all his belongings and moved to India. He said, “So thank you”.

Nicola: It’s wonderful. It changes lives, you know. It does, that’s wonderful.

Rick: Yeah, nice to be disrupting people’s lives like that, you know.

Nicola: It’s wonderful to hear such stories. I bet there are many of those stories. It would be nice to have a page on your website to write, what impact.

Rick: Well, we do have a page, we have a testimonials page and there are a lot of stories like that. So if you feel like it, people can check out that testimonials page and read some of them.

Nicola: Beautiful, yeah. Your questions are really, I just want to honor you and just appreciate you for the depth of questions you’re asking.

Rick: Well, thanks. I always have this funny feeling after interviews that it could have been deeper, it could have been better. I didn’t really do justice to the person. I kind of beat myself up a little bit but somehow or other people enjoy this.

Nicola: Yeah, I can sense it’s really good. We are also in a nice flow with each other.

Rick: Yeah.

Nicola: Yeah, it was beautiful. I really appreciated your comments as well, your perspective in it.

Rick: Well, thanks. Okay, well, thank you Nicola and thanks to those who have been listening or watching and I’ll see you next week. And I’m actually going to put up another one this Thursday which was recorded at the Science and Non-Duality Conference last October, I finally got permission to go ahead and post that. That’ll be a group conversation with Loch Kelly, Mukti – who is Adyashanti’s wife, and Francis Bennett, all about the Heart Sutra in Buddhism, “Form is emptiness, emptiness is form”. So that’ll be going up Thursday and then next weekend as I mentioned Duane Elgin. So thanks for listening or watching. Thanks again Nicola and we’ll see you all next week.