588. Bruce Greyson

Bruce GreysonBruce Greyson, M.D., is the Chester F. Carlson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry & Neurobehavioral Sciences and Director Emeritus of the Division of Perceptual Studies at the University of Virginia. He was one of the founders of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, and for 27 years edited the Journal of Near-Death Studies. Dr. Greyson majored in psychology at Cornell University, received his medical degree from the SUNY Upstate Medical College, and completed his psychiatric residency at the University of Virginia. He practiced and taught psychiatry at the University of Michigan and the University of Connecticut, where he was Clinical Chief of Psychiatry, before returning to the University of Virginia 25 years ago. Dr. Greyson’s research for the past four decades has focused on the aftereffects and implications of near-death experiences. He is co-editor of The Near-Death Experience: Problems, Prospects, Perspectives, co-author of Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, and author of After: A Doctor Explores What Near-Death Experiences Reveal about Life and Beyond.

Website: brucegreyson.com

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded February 26, 2021

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

587. Sebene Selassie

Sebene SelassieSebene Selassie is a teacher, author, and speaker who explores the themes of belonging and identity through meditation, creativity, and spirituality. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Washington DC, she began studying Buddhism 30 years ago as an undergraduate at McGill University where she majored in Comparative Religious Studies. She has an MA from the New School where she focused on race and cultural studies. For over 20 years, she worked with children, youth, and families nationally and internationally for small and large not-for-profits. Now she teaches classes, workshops, and retreats regularly and is one of the most popular teachers on the Ten Percent Happier app. Sebene is a three-time cancer survivor of Stage III and IV breast cancer. Her first book “You Belong: A Call for Connection” is published by HarperOne.

Main points discussed:

  • The importance of belonging and cultural/genetic heritage.
  • The positive, relatable tone of Sebene’s book, You Belong.
  • Trusting the sacredness of life vs. clashing with reality.
  • Surrendering to the mystery that’s beyond our logical comprehension.
  • We are not separate, and we are not the same. Living the paradox of unity and diversity.
  • The importance of integrating absolute and relative.
  • There’s a delusion of separation at the heart of all political and social divisions. ‘Unlearning’ that delusion is where the spiritual path starts.
  • Those who enjoyed embodied presence since childhood may be less effective in teaching others than those who needed to achieve it.
  • Marginalized people often have a broader and more holistic perspective on the world.
  • Healing “epistemicide” – colonialism’s destruction of ancient knowledge.
  • Modern mindfulness practice sometimes dismisses the deeper dimensions of its ancient roots.
  • Everything is sacred. Technology is not the enemy. Benefiting from the best of ancient and modern knowledge.
  • The pandemic may be the first time in history where we are all experiencing the same situation globally.
  • The importance of discernment on the spiritual path, particularly in this time of conspiracy theories, polarization, and pandemic.
  • The importance of community and dangers of isolation.
  • Increased interest in meditation and spirituality during the pandemic.
  • The authenticity, clarity, love, and spirituality of the younger generation.
  • A discussion of Catherine Ingram’s Facing Extinction article.
  • The leverage of technologies of consciousness, including ritual and ceremony.
  • Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
  • Remaining curious and open.
  • Ground yourself, know yourself, connect to the moment.
  • Seeing parts of ourselves we don’t like. Meeting whatever comes up with kindness and compassion.
  • Any motivation for starting on the spiritual path is a ‘good’ one. Other reasons will follow.
  • Contemplating the beauty and mystery of nature.
  • “Love yourself” could be the motto for the whole book.
  • Detailed discussion mindfulness and its historical origins.
  • Sebene’s “Elements Practice”: earth, water, fire, air.
  • The importance of intimacy and imagination.
  • Helping heal kids with emotional trauma. Trauma-sensitive mindfulness.
  • Taking care of one’s self so as to care for others more effectively
  • An invitation for white people to learn more about other cultures and identities.
  • For mature spiritual development, we need to illumine our blind spots.

Website: sebeneselassie.com

Discussion of this interview in the BatGap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded February 14, 2021

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.

586. Cynthia Bourgeault, 2nd Interview

Cynthia BourgeaultCynthia Bourgeault is a modern-day mystic, Episcopal priest, and theologian. For thirty years she worked closely with Fr. Thomas Keating as a student, editor, and colleague and has taught and written extensively on Centering Prayer. She is a core faculty member at the Center for Action and Contemplation and founding director of an international network of Wisdom Schools. In addition to her work on Centering Prayer, she is the author of numerous other books on the Christian Mystical and Wisdom tradition, including The Wisdom Jesus: Transforming Heart and Mind–A New Perspective on Christ and His Message, The Meaning of Mary Magdalene: Discovering the Woman at the Heart of Christianity, and her most recent, Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm.


Other Books:

Main points discussed in this interview:

  • The Imaginal Realm is an objective reality belonging to the spectrums of consciousness within the Great Chain of Being which transcend, surround, and penetrate the denser realities. “Imaginal” does not mean “imaginary”.
  • Heaven and Hell represent opposites on the spectrum of consciousness which runs from freedom and connectedness on one end to constriction and alienation on the other. Both are experienced here, too.
  • Our important task is to become cosmic servants integrated into earthly reality.
  • Our work done in this realm feeds and informs the subtler realms which then process it and pour it back into our realm so that all realms evolve as a single reality.
  • The Kingdom of Heaven can be interpreted as seeing ourselves as wormholes that act as portals into the wholeness of the cosmic matrix. Encountering the Kingdom of God opens us up to the holistic nature of reality that informs and invites us to walk within the congruity of our individual will and the will of the Wholeness that seeks to become manifest.
  • Developing discernment requires equanimity and open-heartedness grounded in humility so that the ego doesn’t take the lead by creating roles that toxify and stagnate the path towards love and understanding.
  • Remaining teachable while being willing to risk self-exploration is essential to balanced development.
  • Creation is God’s way of communicating Love that gives, receives, sees, and is seen. This relational field has as its telos the eternal generation of diversity held together and protected by Love.
  • The great work is to fully show up in the laboratory of our lives and awaken into higher stages of consciousness. We courageously and graciously accept the presence of “tough grace” which comes to us packaged as apparent obstacles and even suffering.
  • From the depth of humility and spiritual maturity, we learn how to appreciate pinnacle spiritual states without getting attached to them.
  • Our emotional transactions have an energetic signature. We can learn how to “sniff the odor” of the energy in events, places, the dynamic between people, and even in concepts and ideas. This “sniffing” is an encounter with the Imaginal Realms.
  • We are in the birth canal of the collective emergence into the integral but the labor is difficult due to divisions between the “structures of consciousness.” We need to honor and re-engage with the magical and the mythical, ritual, the spirit of repentance, a lifestyle of moderation, and heart-centered living in order to create the spaciousness needed for global metanoia.
  • Jesus came to “line the anguish [of our human experience] with love.” The entire cosmos, from the dense to the subtle, is set up to experience burning restlessness—which becomes the driveshaft propelling the whole thing forward. Through Jesus, God tells the universe that love reaches all, forgiveness is eternal, nothing is lost, and the Universe is for you.

Discussion of this interview in the Batgap Community Facebook Group.

Interview recorded February 6, 2021

First BatGap interview with Cynthia.

Video and audio below. Audio also available as a Podcast.